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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pakistan urged to free schoolboy arrested for blasphemy

Pakistani Sunni Muslims shout slogans against Pope Benedict XVI during a protest in Lahore on 12 January 2011Human Rights Watch has called on the Pakistani government to release a teenager who has been charged under the country's controversial blasphemy law.
Muhammad Samiullah, 17, is under arrest in the southern city of Karachi.
He is accused of blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad in an examination paper. Human Rights Watch called the boy's case "truly appalling".
The blasphemy law has been in the spotlight since a Christian, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death in November.
She denies insulting the Prophet Muhammad in her Punjab village in June 2009.
In January, a bodyguard of Punjab governor Salman Taseer assassinated him for supporting calls to amend the law, leading to what correspondents say is a climate of fear with few people daring to even mention the legislation.
Critics of Pakistan's blasphemy law say it has been used to persecute minority faiths in Pakistan, and is sometimes exploited for grudges.
'Mind boggling'
"Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling," said Bede Sheppard, senior children's rights researcher, at Human Rights Watch.
"It's bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling."
The alleged incident, reported by an invigilator, took place during high school final examinations, called intermediate exams, in Karachi's North Nazimabad neighbourhood.
Police officials said they arrested Muhammad Samiullah after a complaint was lodged by the chief examiner of the intermediate board on 28 January.
He was later produced in court where the magistrate sent him to a juvenile detention, while police pursue their investigations.

Violence flares in Cairo square

Heavy gunfire is being heard in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square as pro-democracy demonstrators continue to defy curfew in the Egyptian capital.
Ambulances were seen heading to the area on Thursday morning and at least two fatalities were reported.
Protesters from the pro-democracy and pro-government camps fought pitched battles on Wednesday in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak for the past nine days.
At least three people were reported to have died and more than 1,500 others injured in those clashes, according to officials and doctors quoted by the Reuters news agency.
An Al Jazeera correspondent, reporting from just outside Tahrir Square late on Wednesday night, said dozens of pro-Mubarak supporters erected barricades on either side of a road, trapping the pro-democracy supporters. They were gathering stones, breaking streetlights and using balaclavas to cover their faces, apparently in preparation for a fresh standoff with the pro-democracy crowd.
Our correspondent said local residents thought the men preparing for the standoff were police officers but the claim could not be independently confirmed.
Just hours earlier, an Al Jazeera online producer reporting from near Tahrir Square said: "Someone - a few people actually - were dropping homemade bombs into the square from the buildings surrounding it."
Gunshots were also regularly ringing out of the square.
Army standing by
Witnesses said the military allowed thousands of pro-Mubarak supporters, armed with sticks and knives, to enter the square. Opposition groups said Mubarak had sent in thugs to suppress anti-government protests.
One of our correspondents said the army seemed to be standing by and facilitating the clashes.
Though initially put on the backfoot by the sudden attack, determined anti-government protesters looked to be winning the battle against Mubarak supporters.
Al Jazeera's special coverage on Egypt
Witnesses also said that pro-Mubarak supporters were dragging away protesters they had managed to grab and handing them over to security forces.
Salma Eltarzi, an anti-government protester, told Al Jazeera there were hundreds of wounded people. "There are no ambulances in sight, and all we are using is Dettol," she said. "We are all so scared."

Aisha Hussein, a nurse, said dozens of people were being treated at a makeshift clinic in a mosque near the square.

She described a scene of "absolute mayhem", as protesters first began to flood into the clinic.
"People are coming in with multiple wounds. All kinds of contusions. We had one guy who needed stitches in two places on his face. Some have broken bones."
Mustafa Hussein, a physician who was treating the injured at a makeshift hospital near Tahrir Square, told Al Jazeera that most of the injured protesters "coming in today are suffering from head injuries resulting from rocks being thrown at them".

Meanwhile, another Al Jazeera correspondent said men on horseback and camels ploughed into the crowds as army personnel stood by.
At least six riders were dragged from their beasts, beaten with sticks by the protesters and taken away with blood streaming down their faces.

One of them was dragged away unconscious, with large blood stains on the ground at the site of the clash.

The worst of the fighting was just outside the world famous Egyptian Museum, which was targeted by looters last week.
Concrete blocks
Al Jazeera's correspondent said a group of pro-government protesters took over army vehicles. They also took control of a nearby building and used the rooftop to throw concrete blocks, stones, and other objects.

Soldiers surrounding the square took cover from flying stones, and the windows of at least one army vehicle were broken. Some troops stood on tanks and appealed for calm but did not otherwise intervene.
Many of the pro-Mubarak supporters raised slogans like "Thirty Years of Stability, Nine Days of Anarchy".
Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton, also in Cairo, said that security guards have also been seen amongst the pro-Mubarak supporters, and it may be a precursor to the feared riot police arriving on the scene.

Dutton added that a journalist with the Al-Arabiya channel was stabbed during the clashes.
Several cars went up in flames near Liberation Square as riots raged deep into the night [AJ online producer]
Fighting took place around army tanks deployed around the square, with stones bouncing off the armoured vehicles.
Several groups were involved in fist fights, and some were using clubs.  The opposition also said many among the pro-Mubarak crowd were policemen in plain clothes.
"Members of security forces dressed in plain clothes and a number of thugs have stormed Tahrir Square," three opposition groups said in a statement.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent opposition figure, accused Mubarak of resorting to scare tactics. Opposition groups have reportedly also seized police identification cards amongst the pro-Mubarak demonstrators.
"I'm extremely concerned, I mean this is yet another symptom, or another indication, of a criminal regime using criminal acts," ElBaradei said.
"My fear is that it will turn into a bloodbath," he added, calling the pro-Mubarak supporters a "bunch of thugs".

ElBaradei has also urged the army to intervene.

"I ask the army to intervene to protect Egyptian lives," he told Al Jazeera, adding he said it should intervene "today" and not remain neutral.

Determined protesters
Despite the clashes, anti-government protesters seeking Mubarak's immediate resignation said they would not give up until Mubarak steps down.
Khalil, in his 60s and holding a stick, blamed Mubarak supporters and undercover security for the clashes. 
"But we will not leave," he told Reuters. "Everybody stay put."
Pro-Mubarak supporters on camels and horses charged at protesters [AJ online producer]
Mohammed el-Belgaty, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Al Jazeera the "peaceful demonstrations in Tahrir Square have been turned into chaos".
"The speech delivered by President Mubarak was very provocative as he used very sentimental words.

"Since morning, hundreds of these paid thugs started to demonstrate pretending to be supporting the President. Now they came to charge inside Tahrir Square armed with batons, sticks and some knives.
"Mubarak is asking the people to choose between him or chaos."

Ahead of Wednesday's clashes, supporters of the president staged a number of rallies around Cairo, saying Mubarak represented stability amid growing insecurity, and calling those who want his departure "traitors."

"Yes to Mubarak, to protect stability," read one banner in a crowd of 500 gathered near state television headquarters, about 1km from Tahrir Square.

A witness said organisers were paying people $17, to take part in the pro-Mubarak rally, a claim that could not be confirmed.

Other pro-Mubarak demonstrations occurred in the Mohandeseen district, as well as near Ramses Square.
Al Jazeera and agencies

Nik Aziz: Umno oppresses Malays

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat hit out at his political foe Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today and accused Umno of continually oppressing the Malays through undemocratic means.

The PAS spiritual leader claimed that Umno’s governing methods were unIslamic, saying that the country’s largest party had never emphasised Islamic teachings, only secular nationalism.

“Initially, we see Tun Mahathir as a person who loves Malay unity. Does Tun Mahathir realise that Umno has been the one oppressing the Malays?” said Nik Aziz (picture) in a statement.

The Kelantan mentri besar was responding to Dr Mahathir’s recent blog posting where the latter had accused Nik Aziz of “dividing” the Malays and Muslims in the country.

Dr Mahathir had described Nik Aziz’s brand of Islam as worse than that of Umno nationalists.

“I want to ask Tun Mahathir, what is the basis of Umno’s struggles? Has Umno in any way put Islam as the basis of its struggles ahead of national struggles? Practically can Umno even call themselves pious?” asked Nik Aziz.

The popular PAS leader listed down events which showed that Umno did not care about the rights of the Malays or even Islam, bringing up examples like the federal government’s now-aborted plans to award gambling licences, the government’s abolishment of the Jawi script in schools back in 1968 and also a reduction of national funds for Islamic schools during the Mahathir administration.

Nik Aziz also accused Umno of using undemocratic means to stay in power, claiming that Umno had “kidnapped” PAS assemblymen and MPs back in 1961 just to deny the Islamist party a win in Terengganu and Kelantan.

According to Nik Aziz, Umno had also ordered the mass killings of Malay followers of Ibrahim Libya in Memali.

“Till this day Umno continues its undemocratic practices. In Perak, they topple the government from behind. In Selangor, they appoint the state secretary without any prior discussion with the mentri besar. Strangely, it is this same ‘ketuanan Melayu’ party which had opposed an amendment to return the powers of the Selangor Sultan.

“In Kelantan, they (Umno) deny us oil royalty rights and instead set up a federal development department (JPP). This is not democracy, federalism and a far cry from being Islamic,” he said.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir called Nik Aziz an opportunist who was willing to forsake his Islamic beliefs for political mileage.

“It is because of Malay nationalists our country is now governed by Malay-Muslim leaders. These leaders instil Islamic practices in the government administration and build mosques and banned the national lottery... how bad can these nationalists be?” said Dr Mahathir, who stayed in office for a record 22 years.

Comparatively, he said, Nik Aziz’s and PAS’s only contribution to the country was dividing the Malays into three splinter groups, with no hope for Malay unity.

“This is Nik Aziz’s contribution... He ignored one of the most important Islamic concepts, that is brotherhood among Muslims,” added the former prime minister.

Seemingly unperturbed by Dr Mahathir’s scathing remarks, the PAS leader said in response that Dr Mahathir was suffering from the “Melayu mudah lupa” (Malays easily forget) syndrome.

“Tun Mahathir labels me and PAS as the reason for the division among the Malays. Perhaps it is me then who caused Umno to be banned in 1987 which lead to the formation of Semangat 46. Perhaps it is me who caused the deputy president of Umno to be sacked in 1999 and eventually formed PKR.

“I am worried... Tun Mahathir has already contracted the ‘Melayu mudah lupa’ disease which he talked about some time back,” said Nik Aziz.

Anwar will destroy Pakatan for Azmin, warns Gobala

Gobalakrishnan quit PKR recently, citing loss of confidence in the leadership. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — N. Gobalakrishnan has continued his diatribe against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, now predicting the break-up of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact if the de facto leader continues playing favourites with his “blue-eyed boy” Azmin Ali.
The renegade leader, who recently quit PKR, told The Malaysian Insider that PAS and DAP leaders needed to do some serious “soul searching” if they wanted the pact to last and should advise Anwar to stop protecting his party’s deputy president.

“They will not last otherwise. If they do not speak to Anwar... they will not last. No way,” said the independent Padang Serai MP.

Gobalakrishnan claimed that Anwar’s constant protection of Azmin was quickly weakening PKR and this would eventually cause the downfall of PR.

PKR has often been described as the weakest link in PR’s armour but with its partners PAS and DAP constantly at loggerheads over religious policies, the multiracial party has also been viewed as the glue that keeps the pact intact. But it has remained united despite several MPs jumping ship over the past one year.
“A weak PKR leads to a weak PR because Anwar is the chosen leader... he is supposed to toe the line, he is supposed to be impartial as he is supposedly PR’s prime minister-designate.

“But now, Anwar is obviously ready to sacrifice anything; the support of the Indian community, the Malays, the Sabah and Sarawak natives, just for the sake of promoting Azmin.

“So if he keeps doing this, PKR will fall apart and then so will Pakatan,” he said.
Gobalakrishnan quit the PKR, citing his growing disillusionment with Anwar and his right-hand man Azmin and claiming that the duo often sidelined party loyalists for personal interests.

“I do not know what kind of knowledge or information that Azmin has that makes Anwar want to protect him so much. You should ask Anwar about that.

“But it is making PKR irrelevant,” he said.
The Padang Serai MP added that the PR pact needed to decide on “what to do with Anwar” and question the de facto leader why he was giving so much prominence to his former private secretary.

He said that PR leaders should even consider telling Azmin to leave politics for good.
“Tell him to be a businessman instead, since now the entire Selangor economy is controlled by Azmin and his cronies.

“If PR leaders feel Anwar is still needed and is still relevant, then they should tell him to choose between Azmin and PR,” he said.

Gobalakrishnan claimed that Azmin (picture) was weakening PKR. — File pic
But if Anwar was unwilling to let go of Azmin, added Gobalakrishnan, the leader should bow out from politics himself. He claimed that the Selangor administration was now in “shambles” because of Anwar and Azmin, saying that corruption could be found at every level.

“Corruption does not necessarily mean direct corruption.... it also means cronyism and nepotism... when these things are introduced, then corruption comes,” he said.

Anwar is currently the Selangor economic adviser while Azmin is the state assemblyman for Bukit Antarabangsa.

Gobalakrishnan said that from his conversations with many local councillors in the state, he had discovered that many had grown rich in their positions.

“They are given contracts, opportunities and they have grown rich. One councillor proudly told me how proud he was to be a councillor because of the opportunities. He has five cars in his house and he bought them all with cash,” he said.

“This is why (DAP adviser) Lim Kit Siang, (PAS president Datuk Seri) Abdul Hadi Awang must do some serious soul searching.

“They should use their powers to advise Anwar about this... otherwise, PR will just fall,” he said.
Gobalakrishnan is one of Anwar and Azmin’s biggest critics and joined the ranks of other former PKR dissident leaders last Saturday when he quit the party.

He had also announced that he would continue fighting for the Indian community via a new non-governmental organisation.

When pushed to answer if he planned to team up with former PKR leader leader Datuk Zaid Ibrahim in the latter’s new political party Kita, Gobalakrishnan kept mum.

“We are politicians of the highest order. He does not need to invite me to join. If I want to, I will, if not, I won’t. But in the meantime, there is no harm exchanging views with them,” he said.

He had recently attended Kita’s grand launch here and described it as a “beautiful party launched by a beautiful man”.

“Like I said, I will continue my fight through a new NGO. I am still waiting for the blueprint and then I will do some networking and move on the ground to help people,” he said.

The vocal MP had kicked off his tirade against the Anwar-Azmin leadership during the party’s elections last year, which he complained had been fraught with irregularities.

He later took his fight to Twitter and for much of December last year dedicated his timeline space to criticisms against Anwar and Azmin.

Among others, Gobalakrishnan has accused both men of failing to protect the interests of the Indian community, and for ignoring the needs and requests of many party loyalists.

He has also continually taunted Anwar for “failing to walk the talk”, claiming that the veteran leader’s only ambition was to take over Putrajaya and ensure a cushy position for Azmin.

Gobalakrishnan joins several other leaders who have also left the party ranks, citing loss of confidence in the leadership.

They include Zaid, Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim, Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng, Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong, and Bagan Serai MP Mohsin Samsuri.

Another MP, Kulim-Bandar Baharu’s Zulkifli Noordin, as with Gobalakrishnan also from Kedah, was sacked from PKR after he faced the disciplinary board last year for crossing swords with the leadership over the “Allah” row.

PKR now has 24 seats in Parliament, a drop from 31 seats won in the 2008 general election.

Isu Nasionalisma ; Jawapan Saya Untuk Tun Dr. Mahathir
Kenyataan Media Tok Guru Nik Aziz
Saya gembira apabila Tun Dr. Mahathir memberikan ulasan berkenaan pandangan saya tentang nasionalisme. Bagi saya, ini membuktikan kesediaan beliau untuk mendengar pandangan dan berhujah. Ia baik untuk percambahan minda masyarakat agar masyarakat segar dengan hujah dan tidak bergantung kepada seringgit dua habuan menjelang pilihanraya semata-mata.
Jawapan saya ini bukan hanya untuk Tun Dr. Mahathir sahaja, tetapi juga merupakan jawapan yang saya cadangkan untuk dijawab pada hari di mana saya, Tun Mahathir dan manusia keseluruhannya berdiri di hadapan Allah SWT satu masa nanti. Ini kerana saya beriman dengan hakikat bahawa setiap apa yang dipertuturkan di dunia ini akan diadili di akhirat nanti. Setiap kenyataan yang keluar melalui televisyen, akhbar bahkan blog sekalipun direkod oleh malaikat-malaikat yang ditugaskan oleh Allah SWT untuk dibentangkan di hari yang kita tidak lagi mempunyai kuasa ke atasnya. Firman Allah SWT :

يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Yang bermaksud : Pada hari (ketika), lidah, tangan dan kaki mereka menjadi saksi atas mereka terhadap apa yang dahulu mereka kerjakan. – Surah al-Nur, ayat 24

Hakikatnya saya sebenarnya diajak untuk menari dengan irama yang gendangnya dipalu oleh UMNO. Saya diajak untuk turut sama mengutuk Lee Kuan Yew seperti pimpinan UMNO. Padahal, apa yang berlaku di seberang sini jauh lebih dahsyat daripada apa yang dilakukan oleh Lee Kuan Yew.

Pertama saya ingin nyatakan kepada Tun Mahathir bahawa asas Islam tidak sama dengan nasionalisme. Di dalam ajaran nasionalisme, tidak pernah dinyatakan apakah tujuan hidup ini. Tidak pernah saya terdengar sepatah kata dari pimpinan UMNO yang menghuraikan berkenaan tujuan hidup seorang manusia di muka bumi. Jikapun ada, hanya sebaris dua dari menteri yang dimanahkan menjaga hal ehwal agama. Adapun pemimpin utama UMNO, tujuan hidup ini seolah-olah tidak menjadi agenda penting sehingga tidak pernah sedikitpun terkeluar isu ini dari bibir mereka.

Islam meletakkan bahawa tujuan hidup untuk mengabdikan diri kepada Allah SWT.  Justeru, manusia dihidupkan untuk diuji oleh Allah SWT siapakah di kalangan mereka yang terbaik amalannya. Firman Allah SWT :

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ

Yang bermaksud : Dia lah yang telah mentakdirkan adanya mati dan hidup (kamu) - untuk menguji dan menzahirkan keadaan kamu: siapakah di antara kamu yang lebih baik amal dan aktivitinya ; dan Ia Maha Kuasa (membalas amal kamu), lagi Maha Pengampun, (bagi orang-orang yang bertaubat) (Surah al-Mulk, ayat 2)

Apabila tujuan hidup untuk mengabdi kepada Allah SWT, dan hidup sendiri merupakan ujian untuk menguji siapakah yang beramal soleh, justeru manusia perlu bersyahadah dengan maksud sanggup menjadi saksi untuk menyatakan ketuhanan Allah SWT dan kenabian Nabi Muhammad SAW. Jika syahadah manusia pada lafaznya, maka syahadahnya pertubuhan ialah pada dasarnya. Ingin saya bertanya kepada Tun Mahathir, apakah dasar perjuangan UMNO? Di celah manakah UMNO meletakkan Islam setelah dasar kebangsaan dijadikan sebagai dasar perjuangannya? Dari sudut praktikalnya, adakah perjuangan UMNO merupakan satu amal soleh? Adakah pada saat UMNO yang menjadi tulang belakang kerajaan mengeluarkan lesen judi itu merupakan amal soleh? Adakah pada saat UMNO menghapuskan tulisan jawi pada tahun 1968 sehingga melahirkan generasi yang buta al-Quran itu merupakan amal soleh? Adakah pada waktu Tun Mahathir menarik balik peruntukan perkapita untuk sekolah agama rakyat itu merupakan amalan soleh?

Kedua, Tun Mahathir melabelkan saya dan PAS sendiri sebagai punca pecah belah orang Melayu. Barangkali kerana sayalah yang menyebabkan parti UMNO diharamkan pada tahun 1987 yang membawa kepada penubuhan Semangat 46. Barangkali sayalah juga penyebabnya sehingga terpecat Timbalan Presiden UMNO pada tahun 1999 yang membawa kepada penubuhan parti Keadilan dan kini dikenali sebagai Parti Keadilan Rakyat. Saya bimbang, Tun Mahathir sudah dijangkiti penyakit Melayu Mudah Lupa yang pernah disebutnya satu ketika dahulu.

Suka saya jelaskan. Islam meletakkan bahawa pecah belah ialah satu perkara yang pasti berlaku di kalangan masyarakat manusia. Allah SWT berfirman :

وَقُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ وَلَكُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَى حِينٍ

Yang bermaksud : “..dan Kami berfirman: "Turunlah kamu! Sebahagian dari kamu menjadi musuh kepada sebahagian yang lain dan bagi kamu semua disediakan tempat kediaman di bumi, serta mendapat kesenangan hingga ke suatu masa (mati)". – (Surah al-Baqarah, ayat 36)

Perpecahan telah digazetkan oleh Allah SWT di dalam al-Quran lama sebelum PAS ditubuhkan lagi. Ia berlaku apabila ada yang memilih hidayah dan ada yang menolaknya. Nabi Muhammad SAW datang membawa hidayah daripada Allah SWT dan ditolak oleh kaum yang sebangsa dengannya. Utbah bin Rabiah yang mewakili gerakan nasionalis Quraisy pada zamannya, bangkit dengan tegar melabelkan bahawa Nabi Muhammad SAW sebagai pemecah belah dengan kata-katanya :

فرقت به جماعتهم!

Yang bermaksud : Dengan agama yang kamu bawa, kamu telah memecahbelahkan kesatuan mereka!

Adakah benar baginda merupakan pemecah belah? Tentu sekali tidak, tetapi itulah natijahnya apabila membawa kebenaran seperti yang dilakukan oleh Rasulullah SAW.

Dari zahirnya kelihatan Tun Mahathir sebagai seorang yang sangat cintakan perpaduan Melayu. Sedarkah Tun Mahathir bahawa UMNOlah selama ini yang menzalimi orang-orang Melayu? Pada tahun 1961, siapakah yang menculik ADUN-ADUN PAS di Terengganu yang menyebabkan akhirnya kerajaan PAS pimpinan Allahyarham Daud Samad digulingkan dari pintu belakang? Di Kelantan, mereka juga menculik lima wakil rakyat PAS dengan tujuan menggulingkan kerajaan yang dipimpinan oleh Allahyarham Dato Asri Muda namun usaha mereka gagal. Ini boleh disahkan oleh bekas  wakil rakyat Tanah Merah Timur yang masih hidup sekarang ini, Che Omar Mohamad yang turut menjadi mangsa. Siapakah yang bertanggungjawab melakukan perbuatan tidak demokratik ini kalau bukan UMNO? Episod-episod kezaliman ini masih segar di ingatan pejuang-pejuang PAS. Bukan untuk menyemarak api permusuhan lama  jauh sekali menyimpan dendam, tetapi sekadar untuk memperkukuhkan fakta sejarah buat generasi muda yang saya bimbang terbuai dengan dodoi Ketuanan Melayu yang ditaja oleh UMNO.

Di zaman Tun Mahathir, siapakah yang bertanggungjawab melakukan persempadanan pilihanraya pada tahun 2003 yang menafikan pertambahan kerusi parlimen dari negeri yang majoritinya orang Melayu kalau bukan UMNO di zaman Tun Mahathir? Siapakah yang bertanggungjawab mengarahkan pembunuhan beramai-ramai Ibrahim Libya di Memali bersama pengikut-pengikutnya yang kesemuanya terdiri daripada orang Melayu tanpa sebarang sebab yang munasabah kalau bukan UMNO di zaman Tun Mahathir?  Siapakah yang memperkenalkan pengajian Sains dan Matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris yang kemudiannya ditolak sendiri oleh UMNO kalau bukan Tun Mahathir?

Hari ini, UMNO masih lagi menjuarai amalan tidak demokratik. Di Perak, mereka gulingkan kerajaan dari pintu belakang. Di Selangor, mereka melantik Setiausaha Kerajaan tanpa sedikitpun perbincangan dengan Menteri Besar. Peliknya, juara Ketuanan Melayu inilah pula yang menentang usul mengembalikan kuasa sultan di Selangor. Tidak malukah mereka kepada DAP yang mereka dakwa sebagai parti cauvinis Cina? Di Kelantan, mereka nafikan royalti minyak serta  menubuhkan Jabatan Pembangunan Persekutuan (JPP). Jika begini, demokrasi pun tidak, federalism pun tidak, Islam jauh sekali!

Apa yang lebih penting, Islam tidak akan sempurna tanpa iman. Al-Quran sering menyebut Wahai orang-orang yang beriman tetapi al-Quran tidak menyebut Wahai orang-orang Islam. Ini kerana seorang yang mengerjakan rukun Islam sahaja belum layak dipanggil orang yang beriman jika hatinya tidak beriman dengan yakin kepada Allah SWT.  Jika Tun Mahathir berkata bukti UMNO berjasa kepada Islam dengan membina masjid, maka Abdullah bin Ubay di zaman Rasulullah SAW lebih dahulu membina masjid yang dikenali sebagai Masjid Dhirar. Jika Tun Mahathir menyatakan bahawa UMNO berjasa kepada Islam dengan membina sekolah agama, maka di Thailand juga wujud sekolah-sekolah agama. Bahkan jika Tun Mahathir berkata bahawa jasa UMNO ialah arak tidak dihidangkan di majlis rasmi kerajaan, maka apakah bezanya jika arak tetap diberikan lesen secara besar-besaran dan judi pula terus dinikmati sekalipun bertentangan dengan nilai-nilai Islam dan kemanusiaan.  Pertanyaan saya pula kepada Tun Mahathir, sebutkan apakah yang saya lakukan di Kelantan yang bertentangan dengan Islam. Jika tidak ada, maka untuk apa kami dilawan?

Akhir kata, saya akui Tun Mahathir seorang yang bijak, dan alangkah baiknya kebijaksanaannya digunakan untuk Islam. Nasihat saya kepada Tun Mahathir, sebelum terlambat marilah sama-sama berfikir untuk menempuhi hari pengadilan yang dijanjikan oleh Allah SWT. Jika saya ditanya adakah saya telah mengajak Tun Mahathir dan rakan-rakan sealiran dengannya agar meninggalkan aliran nasionalis sekular dan menerima Islam yang syumul, saya Insya-Allah akan menjawab : اللهم قد بلغت (Ya Allah, aku telah menyampaikan..)


Kg. Pulau Melaka, Kota Bharu.

Egypt's Lessons for Asia

Image(Asia Sentinel) Watching Tut's revolution from afar

The impact of the drama spreading from North Africa into the Levant and Arabia is being carefully tracked and assessed by governments across the region, their foreign patrons and creditors.
For authoritarian regimes and their subject populations, the often inchoate courage displayed on the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen may be respectively deeply troubling and dangerously tempting.
Asia’s experience with popular uprising, as opposed to slow-burning revolutions, anti-colonial campaigns and civil wars, is limited to the Philippines – where the very term ‘people power’ was coined – and the simmering and multi-layered response to the elite’s disdain for the electoral franchise in Thailand.
For regimes that rely on the protection of hard and soft power, reward and condign penalties for transgressors, the failure of these blandishments and threats to maintain the status quo in key Middle East countries will be viewed with a mixture of incredulity and rapid reassessment of policies and loyalties.
What will shock any authoritarian power is the speed with which critical mass can confront and then brush aside a deeply embedded security apparatus, destroying its carefully constructed image of invulnerability from sanction and the sense that the individual citizen is held under constant scrutiny.
While Eastern Europe experienced this epiphany – complete with the stark images of the hurried slaughter of the Ceauşescus on Christmas Day 1989, an event until the present upheaval that must have served as the model bad ending for many totalitarian leaders – few other countries similarly afflicted with regimes that view their own people with fear, suspicion and contempt have failed to do so.    

Bend or break
The fate of the besieged political elites in Cairo, Amman and Sana’a will obviously exercise the greatest influence on others who fear the uncontrolled manifestation of popular anger may pose even a distant threat to their – or their successors – status and privileges. This gives the strategies now being employed by Middle East governments seeking to retain collective power and authority a universal significance.
Some lessons have already been well learned in Asia, though there are no parallels for the ‘contagion’ of revolt now threatening regimes that less than a month ago were seemingly impervious to any realistic challenge.  
The first rule for a beleaguered autocracy facing their nemesis is to wear out the protestors through a combination of demonstrating the cost of defying the established order – such as instigating anarchy once batons, tear gas and selective sniping have failed to clear the streets. Relying on the ‘adrenaline rule’ that can shape street protests – the first 36 hours are invariably followed by a lull due to exhaustion among the more activist elements – either strike hard or use the moment to introduce pledges or reforms.
Some sacrificial sackings can add credibility to this process. Further promises set in the not-too-distant future may be aimed at the less militant or committed sections of the protest movement, as well as foreign patrons and the markets.
If this fails to begin the process of breaking the unity of the protestors, darker forces may be unleashed to accelerate this aim. Physical and character assassination, the unleashing of ‘supporters,’ rumors of defections and treachery, atrocities allegedly committed by extremists linked to the anti-government movement may all help prolong the regime’s existence and reduce cohesion among its opponents. This process appears to well under way in the Middle East.

The greatest threat to an entrenched leadership is less the physical challenge posed by the ‘street’ than other elements within the regime who either represent a parallel power structure or who see instability or a weakened leader as an opportunity to further their own interests and agenda. The most obvious is the military – which applies across much of Asia as it does in the Middle East.
Efforts to seriously weaken the armed forces as a distinct political entity have largely failed in Asian countries where they have traditionally served as the self-appointed and overt arbiter of power.  In these countries - notably Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, all of Indochina. Indonesia, the Philippines and China - the military either controls the state or serves as a Damoclean reminder that it could, and needs no lessons from the Middle East as to how it may be achieved.  Nevertheless, the Middle East imbroglio will lead civilian politicians to look again at their generals and perhaps reassess how they may best be held close. 

Protest and survive
For  anti-government protestors the unfinished lessons of the Middle East uprisings should perhaps be informed  by two of  Machiavelli’s famous dictums; “A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise,”  and  “Never do an enemy a small injury.” The latter advice, with its implication that unless the protestors are prepared to carry through the   logical end of their opposition to a regime, they may have generations to rue their decision to rise up in the first instance.  The same points apply anywhere a regime with much to lose and nothing to gain through being deposed is confronted by an existential threat.
The main risk facing protestors once they have moved beyond the initial euphoria of action is the ability of their opponents to separate them from the source of their power, which in the case of a popular uprising is its focused and unified mass. As noted, efforts will be made from all directions to erode cohesion, encourage factionalism and undermine command and communications capabilities.
There are numerous examples of seemingly successful revolts failing due to the loss of stamina and nerve by activists and fear and treachery among their leaders. An excellent case study detailing this map happen is offered in the 1536 northern uprising against England’s King Henry VIII. A serious threat to the Tudor throne was averted by Henry following Machiavelli’s advice, coupled with the recognition by key leaders that their true interest did not lie with those of the masses. The aftermath of what became known as ‘the pilgrimage of grace’ was also instructive to all those who raise their hand against the state: hundreds were executed, many after extreme torture.  

Gavin Greenwood is a security analyst with the country risk firm of Allan & Associates in Hong Kong.

Main suspect identified in lawyer’s slaying

The Star

IPOH: The main suspect in the slaying of lawyer G. Balasunderam outside his home last year has been identified by police.

However, the suspect cannot be charged yet because police need concrete evidence, Perak Police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahalan said.

“We have yet to complete investigations into the case although we made some arrests earlier. We still need to find more evidence.

“We cannot charge people in court without substantial evidence,” he said.

He also denied allegations by certain quarters that police failed to charge the main suspect due to his political connections.

On Nov 16, masked assailants ambushed Balasunderam, 57, outside his home in Desa Rishah here at about 5pm and slashed him on the abdomen and thigh.

The lawyer was believed to have been trailed by two men from his office and attacked just before he reached his house.

He suffered 17 slash wounds and succumbed to his injuries at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital here at about 9.30pm that day.

Melaka MIC Chief To Lead MIC Machinery For Merlimau By-Election

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- Melaka MIC chairman Datuk R. Perumal has been appointed the party's election operations director for the Merlimau by-election on March 6.

MIC President Senator Datuk G. Palanivel said in a press statement here on Wednesday that he had also appointed former state chairman Datuk R. Ragavan as the adviser and Jasin MIC division chief S. Periamallai as the deputy director.

"All division leaders and branch chairmen in Melaka and the central working committee members will be involved in reaching out to Indian voters," he said.

Nomination for the by-election is on Feb 26.

The seat fell vacant following the death of incumbent assemblyman Datuk Mohamad Hidhir Abu Hassan, 54, of Barisan Nasional on Jan 20.

Palanivel said the party's central working committee members would actively coordinate the operations to ensure a good victory for the BN.

M'kini barred possibly due to journalist being non-Malay

Malaysiakini was shown the door at an event organised by the Former Elected Representatives Association of Malaysia (Mubarak) yesterday because it is considered a “blog”, said an official with the organisation.

However, she could not rule out the possibility that the Malaysiakini journalist, who is Indian Malaysian, was blocked because she is not Malay.

At the same time, a member of the association's national secretariat who declined to be named said yesterday's event was organised by the Federal Territories chapter and that all instructions came from the chapter.

“We were not briefed earlier but we were only told on the day not to allow bloggers in. I did not know the reason so I asked the FT secretariat to deal directly with the reporters instead,” she said apologetically when contacted today.

mahathir ikmal presidential lecture 290410“There is a possibility that non-Malay reporters were barred because the topic of the event is about the future of Malays, but you have to ask the FT secretariat.”

The Mubarak FT office is, however, closed for Chinese New Year.

The Mubarak event was a discourse entitled 'Malay Race and the Future'. Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended it and his speech has been widely reported by the media.

'Send only Malay reporters'

Yesterday, online portal the Malaysian Insider, which was not stopped from attending the event, reported that several news editors had received an advisory only to send Malay reporters to the event.

The portal also reported that an aide to Mahathir has denied that the former premier had instructed that such an advisory should be issued.

Malaysiakini understands that at least one television station received the same advisory, while some other media outfits did not.

Reporters who confronted the organisers yesterday were also told that Malaysiakini was blocked as it is an online portal, but the secretariat could not explain why reporters from other portals were allowed in.

Plainclothes cops slap and rob pregnant woman

(Malaysiakini) A pregnant woman was on Monday slapped and robbed by plainclothes police officers who broke into her shop in Sungai Buloh - and they then arrested her.

NONEThis morning, Segambut parliamentarian Lim Lip Eng received a distress call from 36-year-old Chow Soo Meng, who is eight months pregnant.
She told him the police had stolen about RM20,000 in cash and several other items.
"The police took several types of cigarettes, six bottles of hard liquor, mandarin oranges and three cartons of canned drinks," Chow (left) said in her report lodged at the Kepong police station.
She said the officers, from the Petaling Jaya Narcotics Department, also took 30 mobile SIM cards and removed the closed-circuit TV camera recorder from her shop.
None of the items have been returned.

She said when she asked for the return of the RM20,000, the officer who arrested her refused to do so and told her not to make an issue of it or risk being rearrested, Lim (right) told Malaysiakini when contacted.
dap pc on caning video clip 300707 lim lip engThe MP, who met with Chow this afternoon, said she had locked the grille door to her shop as she was alone from about 5pm on Monday, when about 10 men came about 6.30pm and demanded to be let in.

"When she refused to do so, they started yelling and cursing at her and they cut open the grille. They then handcuffed her and took her to the Damansara Utama police station," he said.

There, she was made to take a drug test before being taken to the Customs Department in Kelana Jaya and told that she had not paid the duties on the liquor and cigarettes.

"She was asked to return to the Customs Department office in Kelana Jaya on March 2," Lim added.
Chow said officers at the Kepong police station had also discouraged her from lodging her report, but relented when she insisted.
pregnant woman slapped robbed 020211 chow soo meng police reportIn her police report, Chow said the police had suspected that she was keeping narcotic drugs in her shop.
Investigations begin
Four officers from the Sungai Buloh station went to her shop this afternoon to begin investigations (top photo).
It is learnt that the matter has been passed to the Sungai Buloh station, since the incident took place in that police district.

Lim plans to visit the Damansara Utama police station on Friday morning to ask for Chow's complaint to be transferred to the Selangor contingent police headquarters.

He and Chow will also request that investigations be conducted by a team that is not from the Petaling Jaya police district, whose officers were allegedly responsible.
The investigating officer was not available for comment.

Protests turn violent in Cairo as opposing sides clash

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Pandemonium reigned Wednesday in Cairo as stinging tear gas was fired in the epicenter of the city's demonstrations, fueled by running street battles between pro- and anti-government forces.

In a surreal scene resembling the movie "Ben-Hur," demonstrators thundered through the crowds on horses and camels in central Tahrir Square. At least one man was pulled off his horse and beaten.

State-run television said the riders were pyramid workers who were protesting the negative economic impact of the crisis.

Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement Tuesday that he will not seek re-election had been expected to vacuum passion out of Egypt's nine-day uprising.

But the opposite rang true, at least in central Cairo, where mob rule was in sharp contrast to the jubilant mood of tens of thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters the day before.

It remained unclear whether such confrontations were being repeated elsewhere. Contesting rallies in Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, were largely peaceful. Other Cairo neighborhoods also remained calm.

The sound of gunfire reverberated in Tahrir Square and people hurled verbal insults, Molotov cocktails, rocks and anything else they could find -- shards of metal, sticks, shoes -- at one another. Desperate for more ammunition, they dismantled sidewalks and picked up chunks of cement to throw. They beat each other in what rapidly spiraled into utter mayhem.

Through the course of the afternoon, pro-Mubarak forces added to their ranks and eventually overturned a military vehicle to surge forward past the Egyptian National Museum toward the center of Tahrir Square. Flames leapt from the awnings and doorways of several burning buildings and thick black smoke filled the air.

Some people expressed fears to journalists that a bloodbath would ensue.

Scores of people have already been wounded. Blood streaming down their faces, they were carried away from the square into a nearby makeshift clinic.

Ministry of Health spokesman Abdel Rahman Shaheen said ambulances had evacuated 350 injured people from Tahrir Square. Rahman also reported the death of one member of the Egyptian security forces.

Protesters climbed atop army tanks, waving flags and chanting loudly.

Each side in the chilling street battle fought to lay claim to this patch of central Cairo territory that has all along been the symbol of the uprising. But despite the extremely volatile altercations, the police were nowhere to be seen and the army did little to restore order.

Mubarak deployed the army last Friday after police forces -- who don't have a clean track record with the Egyptian people -- used excessive force on protesters.The army said it would not attack peaceful demonstrations but Wednesday morning, it urged a return to normalcy.

"Your message is received ... (your) demands became known," a Defense Ministry spokesman said on state-run television. "And we are here and awake to protect the country for you ... not by power but by the love to Egypt. It is time to go back to normal life."

But the situation in Tahrir Square brought to question how long soldiers would stand by passively.

Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan said the army has made its mission clear: it will not harm its own people. He said the government was urging opposition leaders to begin dialogue.

"I don't care who's responsible," Radwan said of the ongoing chaos. "But I think any wise person should come to the table. This is not a blaming game. I am trying to save my country."

Egypt's state-run Nile TV sought to portray the unrest as a "foreign conspiracy" fueled by international journalists. Despite reports that shots had been fired, the television network's reporters denied any shooting had taken place and even that violence had broken out in Tahrir Square.

The dramatic and potentially deadly situation Wednesday erupted after pro-Mubarak demonstrators broke through a barricade separating them from anti-government protesters who have been amassing more than a week in the downtown plaza.

The eyes of the world fell on the crisis engulfing the Arab world's most populous nation, often a barometer for regional sentiment and action. In Washington, the Obama administration renewed its call for calm Wednesday.

"We continue to watch the events very closely, and it underscores that the transition needs to begin now," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that there needs to be "real change" in Egypt.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed those sentiments after a meeting in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"I once again urge restraint to all the sides," Ban said. "Any attack against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable and I strongly condemn it."

Angry Egyptians, fed up with Mubarak's rule, have camped out in the Egyptian capital's central plaza for a week. The burgeoning demonstrations led to the "march of millions" on Tuesday.

Earlier Wednesday, the crowds were smaller and the mood altered after Mubarak announced his intention not to seek re-election. Voices defending the government became increasingly louder. They called the media "traitors" and "agents" and said the country cannot survive without Mubarak.

It was unclear how many were out on the streets on their own volition. Three employees of the national petroleum company told CNN they were forced to demonstrate Wednesday.

There were reports that among the pro-Mubarak camp were police in civilian clothing but an Interior Ministry spokesman denied on state-run television that police identification cards had been confiscated. He said if they had, they were stolen or fake.

Businessman Adam Hashem told CNN that people from all walks of life gathered in front of a mosque about 7 kilometers from Tahrir Square to support "stability."

Hashem, a Christian, said he met people at the rally who were both Christians and Muslims and that many of them just wanted to "get on with their lives."

A woman at a Cairo sporting club, who did not want to be identified, offered a nuanced view of the crisis at hand.

"After I have seen these youths I say we as a generation did let them down," said the woman, who has a 19-year-old child.

"We did not do our part -- we were busy fighting for our living and stability at the expense of good governance and at the expense of fairness in life and society, and to tell you the truth Egyptians don't deserve that," she said. "The poverty that is surrounding Egypt is getting bigger and bigger, the distance between the rich and the poor is getting wider, so this is a bomb that was waiting to explode on us and that's what we created."

In his televised address Tuesday night, Mubarak announced he will not seek office again in elections scheduled for September, but vowed to stay in the country and finish his term.

"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.

But the concession, large and remarkable for a man who has held a tight grip on power for three decades, may have been too little and too late for many Egyptians.

"He is unfortunately going to continue the agony for another six or seven months," said opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei.

"He's going to continue to polarize the country," said the Nobel Peace Prize winner. "He's continuing to get people even more angry and could result to violence. Whoever gives him that advice gave him absolutely the wrong advice. He just has to let go."

Mubarak's announcement largely rang flat in 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 Tuesday. Some waved shoes in the air -- a deep insult in the Arab world -- and said they would continue their demonstrations until Mubarak quits outright.

But Arab League Secretary-General Amre 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."

Walid Tawfeeq, a Mubarak supporter, said not all Egyptians agree that Mubarak should step down immediately.

"Not everybody wants President Hosni Mubarak out," Tawfeeq said. "There are elements in the government that needed to be changed. ... There is reform. There is economic reform, but ... change will not happen overnight. There's not a magical button for change. Change will take time."

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.

The Egyptian parliament has been suspended until a full judicial review is conducted of the November-December 2010 parliamentary elections.

The government also shortened its curfew by a few hours compared to recent days, though many protesters have ignored the orders to stay inside. The new curfew lasts from 5 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday.

Banks and schools have been closed during the demonstrations, teller machine screens were 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.

Mubarak's announcement came less than three weeks after a wave of protests forced Tunisia's longtime strongman to flee to Saudi Arabia in mid-January.

As in nearby Tunisia, the Egyptian 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 percent 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.

The demonstrations turned ugly last Friday, when thousands of riot and plainclothes police used brutal force to crack down on people on the streets. Since the weekend, the army has replaced police as the enforcers of security, and the gatherings, until Wednesday, had 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. A Facebook page urged similar demonstrations in Syria.

And in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh -- who has been in office for 32 years -- said Wednesday he will not run for president nor hand over power to his son once his current term ends in 2013. Still, many Yemenis said they will proceed with their planned a "day of rage" protests Thursday.

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 Ben Wedeman, Frederik Pleitgen, Ivan Watson, Hala Gorani, Amir Ahmed, Jomana Karadsheh and Arwa Damon contributed to this report.

‘No Indian M’sian judge in Federal Court’ (Malaysiakini)

Does the judicial line-up truly reflect the plurality indicated in the premier’s 1Malaysia concept?

DAP’s Kota Altemple demolition court case 260307 m manoharanam Shah assemblyperson and lawyer M Manoharan (left) thinks not, given that no Indian Malaysian has made it to the ranks of Federal Court judge for almost a year now.

The last two to hold the post were Justice S Augustine Paul, who died in office in January last year, and Justice Gopal Sri Ram, who retired on Feb 10 last year.

There are only two non-Malay judges in the Federal Court – Justice James Foong, who will chair the Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission of Inquiry and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Richard Malanjum

“We have many Indians (in the legal profession) and also in the Bar Council, but this is not reflected in the (composition of the) judiciary,” Manoharan told Malaysiakini today.

“An Indian may not occupy the top four posts – Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of Malaya and Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak. So why can’t they appoint one to the Federal Court?

“To make matters worse, there is only one Indian judge in the Court of Appeal – Justice KN Segara. This is not reflective of the community in Malaysia, and (reflects badly on the) 1Malaysia (policy).”

Manoharan, a former Hindu Rights Action Force leader, called on the Indian community to wake up to such developments to ensure that they are not further marginalised.

“The Indian community should not be duped by sweeteners in by-election campaigns. (They) must rise and not let such small benefits blind their judgment,” he said.

zaki azmi and malaysia palace of justice judiciaryHe also questioned whether Chief Justice Zaki Azmi (left) was fit to sit as top judicial officer, given such lapses.

“Zaki has been emphasising the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for judges in the speedy disposal of cases, but many lawyers think Zaki himself is not doing a good job. The (absence) of Indian judges in the Federal Court is the latest example of his blunders and shortsightedness.”

Manoharan noted that should the KPIs be applied to the chief justice’s performance, he would fail.

Zaki has received much flak for introducing the KPI system. Lawyers and even some judges are questioning if justice has become a casualty in the speedy disposal of cases.

Senior lawyer Karpal Singh has called for review of the KPIs, saying that these have put justice under siege.

‘Favours for Umno’

Manoharan also pointed out the popular perception that only judges who have done favours for Umno are promoted.

“This happened with Paul, who presided over the Anwar Ibrahim (corruption) case in the late 1990s and found him guilty. He was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2003 and then to the Federal Court in 2005.

NONE“Gopal Sri Ram (right), however, languished in the Court of Appeal for many years and was only promoted several months before his retirement. Is it (only) when judges rule in Umno’s favour that they are guaranteed a promotion to the apex court?”

He further questioned the practice of awarding titles to Federal Court judges, noting that there are “too many Tan Sri” on the bench.

Court of Appeal president Alauddin Md Sheriff, Chief Judge of Malaya Arifin Zakaria, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum, Foong and Federal Court judge Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin all hold the title.

“Is it because the chief justice got a `Tun’ title early in his career, rather than (towards) the end? Does this warrant those below him getting honorific titles (as well)?” posed Manoharan.

Tee Keat: Soi Lek ‘immoral’

Ong: But what made things worse was that he had the audacity to claim ignorance on the necessity for him to tender his resignation to the Speaker.
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat renewed his battle against Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today — for the first time since losing his presidency — calling the current MCA president an “immoral man.”
Ong said that Chua could not be trusted as he was a leader who did not keep his promises and accused Chua of drawing on public sympathy to sidetrack from his sex DVD scandal in 2007.

“This is a man who is not only immoral, he is also one who will not keep his word or promises, as displayed by his failure to keep his words and promises to quit all posts after he was caught having extra marital affairs with a woman,” Ong said in a statement on the eve of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

On January 1, 2008, Chua who was then MCA vice-president, Health Minister and Labis MP admitted to having an affair with another woman, and quit all his posts in the government and the party.

Chua took over from Ong as MCA president last year in the party’s most divisive elections ever.
But Ong claimed today that Chua’s move in resigning back then was merely a trick to gain public support and sympathy as means of damage control over his sex scandal.

The former MCA president said that while Chua had resigned from his posts, Chua did not resign as Labis MP before Parliament dissolution in 2008.

“He was then schematic enough to cling on to his post as Labis MP because he was well aware that he would be barred from contesting in elections for five years should he resign as promised. But what made things worse was that he had the audacity to claim ignorance on the necessity for him to tender his resignation to the Speaker.

“As an educated man who graduated as a medical doctor, do you believe he is that ignorant?” asked Ong, who was Transport Minister until he lost the party elections.

During the recently-concluded Tenang by-election, The Star reported that the DAP had challenged Chua to resign as MCA president if he failed to gain support from the Chinese community during the by-election.
The opposition party has however challenged this report and said that its contents were untrue.

“Immediately after the Tenang by-election, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was quick to respond to calls for his resignation over the lackadaisical support of Chinese voters to Barisan Nasional (BN).

“On one hand he snubbed the Opposition by chiding them that he would only listen to his members, and not others. On the other hand, he seemed to have taken pride of his record of resigning three times in two years,” added the Pandan MP.

A town with an independent spirit

Merlimau may be a stroll in the park for BN as there are practically no major grouses for the opposition to exploit.
KUALA LUMPUR: After a week of miserable weather, the sun had returned to Merlimau and its people were glad to use their umbrellas for a drier reason.

It was high noon but the children in estate workers’ quarters were already lolling in the playground next to a Sime Darby plantation eagerly lapping up the long-awaited sunshine.

Outside the quarters, three middle-aged women clad in factory uniforms exchanged news as they waited for a bus under the cool shade of a bus stop. It was the quintessential image of a small town.

Merlimau is snuggled between Malacca and Muar, and falls under the Jasin constituency. Forty years ago, it was a pit stop for travellers heading south who were drawn to the gentle vibes of a small town. Nothing much has changed since then.

Most of the locals work mainly in the plantations and industrial areas. Many Malays and Chinese are fishermen and the beach that stretches from Merlimau to Serkam is dotted with ikan bakar stalls.

Entertainment outlets, however, can only be found in Malacca town and cravings for fast food have to be satiated in Jasin. Apart from that, Merlimau is very much self-sustained.

The quiet afternoon is broken by the low hum of a tractor being manned in an estate across the bus stop. In the estate vicinity, stands Merlimau’s main Hindu temple and a potential source of conflict in the near future.
“MIC has taken over one of Merlimau’s 10 temples and plans to relocate it nearby here,” explained a local. “The proximity between the two may lead to this temple being declared redundant and eventually demolished.”

However, he admitted that the issue still hinged on speculation. When probed about other issues, he thought long and hard before finally shrugging.

“There really aren’t any other issues,” he said. “We have been well taken care of by the state government and the late assemblyman (Mohamad Hidhir Abu Hassan), so we’re very satisfied.”

He spoke the truth. Merlimau’s roads are well maintained, its street lights are in working order and its public facilities are impressive. It boasts a library, a resort, a police training centre and a health centre.

The town is split into old and new township, each less than three kilometres long. The former has more trendy eateries and a smattering of cybercafes while the latter is peppered with traditional coffeeshops and family-run businesses.

As for Hidhir, the locals unhesitatingly attested to his good work there. One of his most significant contributions was obtaining a piece of land for the relocation of a Tamil school. The Indian community had long been fighting for that plot and Hidhir’s assistance was not easily forgotten.

Servicing a small town may not require much effort but Hidhir was considerate in maintaining the quality of living to which the locals are accustomed. Merlimau is a town which boasts a self-reliant spirit and Hidhir has kept it that way.

And this may be enough to secure BN’s victory during the March 6 by-election.

Easy win for BN
Jalani Amit, the chairman of Perkasa Jasin, is certain that BN will retain its seat in Merlimau based simply on the people’s level of satisfaction. To him, there was no reason to fix what isn’t broken.

And though the by-election fever hasn’t quite hit Merlimau yet, there is a faint anticipation in the air.

“Of course we’re a little excited,” he laughed. “We’ve seen the rewards of a by-election in Tenang where even the least travelled roads are now brightly lit.” But when asked what goodies Merlimau is hoping for, he too was at a loss.

“We actually have everything we need already,” he said. “The new assemblyman will just have to continue Hidhir’s work.”

Jalani also clarified that Perkasa would not be involved in any campaigning and merely act as the middleman between the locals and political parties if necessary.

Meanwhile, out-of-town visitors have been dropping by the office of Jasin MP, Ahmad Hamzah. His personal assistant, who only wanted to be known as June, has mixed feelings about the coming by-election.

“On the one hand, it will inject more excitement into Merlimau” she laughed. “On the other, it would also cause temporary chaos. The BN and MIC have already set up their service centres here.”

BN had in fact set up seven service centres around Merlimau but only its parliamentary service centre was open when FMT visited. A representative explained that many of the volunteers were still at work and the other centre would open later in the evening.

The shutters were partially open at the MIC service centre which was almost fully operational. The centre’s manager, who wanted to be known as Rajen, said that MIC had set up the centre on Jan 22 due to the escalating rents.

“This shoplot was going for RM750 for both upper and lower floors,” he said. “We are paying RM5,000 now. Another shoplot is going for RM10,000.”

“Since we’ve been here we’ve held meetings with the MIC local leaders to discuss preparations. We’ve also spoken to the Indian community but so far their problems mostly revolve around petty issues. There isn’t any major issue that we need to tackle at this point.”

June confirmed this. “Many people come to this office and most of the time they bring in issues that can easily be resolved.”

For now, it appears that winning the Merlimau seat will be a stroll in the park for BN.

‘Indian voters’ associations needed’

MIC's Vell Paari stresses on the importance of long-term plans to address the Indian community's woes, instead of making noise only when a controversy arises.

PETALING JAYA: A MIC leader has suggested that Indian voters’ associations be established nationwide to address the issues grappling the community.

According to party central working committee member S Vell Paari, this would ensure that the problems were tackled on a regular basis and not only during elections.

“We need a system which allows for long-term plans.
This is the start of a new decade; 2011 is not another new year, but the beginning of a decade.

“In line with this, we need to formulate sound strategies and initiatives to aid the socio-economic betterment of the Indian community for the next 10 years and beyond,” he told FMT.

Vell Paari said the number of voters’ associations in a particular constituency should depend on the political demographics of the area, but stressed that all constituencies must have at least one.

Commenting on Sunday’s Tenang by-election which witnessed a surge in Indian support for Barisan Nasional, he said the results showed that the community, especially non-urban dwellers, was more concerned about bread and butter issues.

“They are troubled by micro, and not macro issues. They are not overly concerned about the GDP, the country’s economic growth rate or the FDI. Most of the time it’s about basic needs,” he said.

Vell Paari, who heads MIC’s unity and community development bureau, also noted that the Interlok controversy had failed to sway votes in favour of the opposition.

“Indian support for BN in Tenang increased compared to the figures in 2008 despite the opposition using the Interlok issue as a campaign fodder.

“This clearly shows that Indians in such areas or those from the lower income bracket are more concerned about micro issues and not literary debates,” he said.

Working with the opposition
Vell Paari said he had put forth his suggestion for the Indian voters’ associations to MIC’s CWC under the proposal to form the Indian socio-economic empowerment department (ISEED).

The department was mooted with the aim of reshaping, rejuvenating and reinventing the manner in which MIC served the Indian community.

Stressing the importance of unity in addressing Indian woes, Vell Paari said that opposition representatives could work together with their BN counterparts on the Indian voters’ associations.

“By doing so, we can push for certain things to be done for the community by the respective BN and Pakatan Rakyat state governments. It can serve as a common platform,” he added.

Meanwhile, Vell Paari cautioned the BN leadership against resting on its laurels following the by-election victories, thinking that Indian votes were once again in the bank.

“If the issues affecting the community are not tackled consistently, then the votes will swing once again as it did in the 2008 general election.

“We need to have a Malaysian Indian Agenda, and if this agenda is ignored, Indian votes will go MIA or missing in action,” he warned.

Reiterating the need for long-term goals, Vell Paari said the community and those who champion its rights should not “blow hot and cold” whenever a controversy arose.

“Everyone jumps on the bandwagon when there is a controversy, but after the dust settles, they go into hibernation. That should not be the case, we need to be consistent,” he said.

Declines new post
Vell Paari also revealed that he had declined to accept his recent appointment as MIC’s new media bureau chief.

The son of former party president S Samy Vellu said he had already notified his father’s successor G Palanivel of his decision via a letter.

“Personally, I feel that it will be an overlapping of duties with the task entrusted to S Murugesan (who was appointed information chief).

“The information chief is an office-bearer, and the post should not be broken up as in traditional and new media. Furthermore, I am confident that Murugesan will be able to handle it,” he said.

Dislodging Article 153 will tear society apart

The gist of my presentation was that in 1957, there was an ethnic bargain and that if non-Malays seek to renegotiate the social contract on Malay special position, then many Malays may ask “if privileges must go, what then happens to the citizenship of the non-Malays.”

Professor Emeritus Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, Malaysiakini

I am shocked and sad at the S Pathmawathy's report about my paper at the Tenaganita/Bar Council seminar on Jan 29. Parts of the report, especially the first four paragraphs, are distorted and contained mischievous and materially false statements.

The first four paragraphs of the report deliberately falsify and fabricate the thesis I sought to present.

The first paragraph that “A constitutional expert has outlined how he thought the special position of the Malays had subtly evolved into ethnic hegemony” is very far from what I said. I never used the words “ethnic hegemony”.

I used the word “ketuanan” to describe the recent interpretation of Article 153. You are entitled to interpret “ketuanan Melayu” as “ethnic hegemony”, but you should not attribute this wrong interpretation to me. The only time I used the word hegemony was to describe the hegemony of the West over the rest of the world.

In the second paragraph, you lied blatantly when you said that Emeritus Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi “eloquently described the atrocities against equality in the constitution.” I never used the words “atrocities against equality”.

In fact, my seminar paper had a portion about 'The Malaysian Constitution's Promise of Equality'. In this portion, I had pointed out how Article 8(1), 8(2), 8(3), 8(4), 136, 12(1), 12(2), electoral laws, posts in the federal service (except for the position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong) are ethnicity free.

I also pointed out that the constitution guarantees cultural freedoms, business opportunities, membership of professions and citizenship irrespective of race or religion. Yet you falsely accused me of talking of “atrocities” against the ideal of equality.

My presentation had tried to point out both sides of the story - how the constitution honours equality and how it permits exceptions.

I had also taken great pains to point out that “no constitution ideal is as worthy and yet as unattainable as the ideal of equality before the law”. Throughout the world, massive exceptions including some systemic, structural departures from the ideal of equality abound. What the law says and what the reality on the ground is wide apart. I had pointed to the system of justice in the USA where 70 percent of the inmates in prison are non-whites.

What rankles me most is that you fabricated the statement that “such provisions (the affirmative action provisions) are no longer relevant”. In fact, I had cautioned against revolutionary changes and had recommended evolutionary developments. I had pointed out that any attempt to dislodge Article 153 would tear society apart.

My paper which was shown on powerpoint was entitled 'Race, religion and equal protection under the law'. Your heading to the article 'When special position evolved into ketuanan' created the impression that this was the heading of my speech, which it was not.

You correctly pointed out that I recommended the setting up of an Equal Opportunities Commission but you adroitly omitted the word “subject to Article 153".

You also did not emphasise that I had insisted that both public and private sectors must be subjected to the Article 8 requirement of equality by an Equal Opportunities Commission or tribunal. I had emphasised that discrimination in the private sector contributes to discrimination in the public sector and vice versa.

Your story paints me as someone who has no respect for the constitution. In fact, I believe that the constitution was a remarkable piece of compromise, compassion and tolerance. It dealt with the existentialist reality of Malay backwardness and took a path of compromise and pragmatism. Some of its provisions, while not in line with traditional constitutional theory, were a very moderate and pragmatic response to the realities of Malaysian society.

The gist of my presentation was that in 1957, there was an ethnic bargain and that if non-Malays seek to renegotiate the social contract on Malay special position, then many Malays may ask “if privileges must go, what then happens to the citizenship of the non-Malays.”

I had said that only one part of the social bargain cannot be jettisoned. To reopen the 1957 compromises is a game both sides can play.

You were correct in reporting my belief that Article 153 was left in the hands of politicians and mostly benefitted the rich elite. That is why I had suggested that Article 153 implementation needs to be scrutinised, any over zealousness needs to be checked, and the real provisions of Article 153 need to be studied and adhered to.

I request you to please print this reply and to please be more careful in not putting your own beliefs (to which you have a right to) in the mouth of others.

Professor Emeritus Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)

Tahrir Square protests: ‘For everyone here, there’s no turning back

‘Booker prize-nominated author of The Map of Love says Egypt’s anti-government protesters are proud of what they have done

by Ahdaf Soueif, Tahrir Square, Tuesday 1 February 2011

A great cry goes up from the square: “Irhal! Irhal!” (Leave! Leave!) Everybody is looking in the same direction. You follow their gaze to see a long banner unfurling, falling gracefully from the sixth-floor balcony of an art deco building. We read: “Do us a favour: leave!” Holding it from the balcony is a young woman with big hair. She is jumping up and down and holding up her hand in a victory salute. The crowd salute back: “Irhal! Irhal!”

Four generations, more than a million people (according to the army count at 2pm) are here. They are all doing what they have not been able to do for decades; each and every one is having their say in their own way and insisting on being counted. Their dominant demand, of course, is for Mubarak to step down.

In the regime’s response to this people’s revolution they have displayed the same brutality, dullness, dishonesty and predictability that have characterised their 30-year rule. They have shot and gassed their citizens, lied to them and about them, threatened them with F16s, tried to foist a “new” cabinet on them – everything except the decent thing: go.

Meanwhile the citizens on the ground have come into their own. Tahrir is about dignity and image as much as it is about the economy and corruption. People are acutely aware of how much their government has messed with their heads, worked to divide them, maligned them to the world. “She says we only care about a slice of bread,” a young labourer says, “We care about bread. But we also care about pride.” A bearded man with a wife in a niqab says: “We’re all Egyptian. Was I born with a beard?” He grins: “When Mubarak leaves I’ll be able to afford a razor!”

Together, in the square, over the last four days, people have rediscovered how much they like themselves and each other and, corny as it may sound, how “good” they are. They offer each other water, dates, biscuits. Young men are constantly collecting the litter. I sneeze and someone passes me a tissue. And all the time the chant continues, the demands are articulated, options for the future are discussed.

It is not possible to say what will happen next. Everything is up in the air, our communications are still cut (but you can still follow us online). Mubarak has said he will leave but more than two million of us are occupying the main squares of Cairo and a further two to three million are occupying other Egyptian cities. For every person in this revolution there is no turning back.

Tanks surround Tahrir Square but the army has declared it will never attack the people. Young Egyptians surround the tanks, chatting with the soldiers. Last night there was a football game – “the people versus the army” – with a tank as the prize. The people won. They did not get the tank. But then one of the most popular chants in Tahrir today is: “The people, the army as one hand”.

I would not have thought a scenario possible where we welcome military intervention but the Egyptian army is very much part of the fabric of Egyptian society. And in both 1977 and 1985 it refused direct orders to fire on Egyptian demonstrators. An oath taken by every soldier is that he will not shoot Egyptians. So at the moment the army is securing for us this space in our country where we are carrying out our peaceful, democratic, young, inclusive, open-source, grassroots revolution.

I write this sitting on the grass under a variety of banners. A bank of loudspeakers has gone up at one end of the square and we are waiting for a concert by the popular band Eskenderdella. We are all happy and we are proud to be here.

Ahdaf Soueif is the author of the Booker prize-nominated novel The Map of Love. She lives in Cairo and London

PKR Leaders Leaving Because Of Anwar's Deceitful Way - Muhyiddin

MUAR, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's "deceitful way" would eventually leave him deserted by party founders and senior leaders.

He said Anwar's demeanour had caused many of the party's founders and key leaders to leave the party en masse, the latest was Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan, who quit the party on Saturday.

"All the founders of the party have gone 'chow liao' (leaving abruptly), leaving Anwar alone.

"The latest is Gobalakrishnan ... they no longer believe in Anwar because he is a liar, who betrays the country," he said, adding that Anwar made all kinds of disparaging remarks in and outside the country.

Muhyiddin was speaking to reporters after a briefing on the flood situation in the Pagoh parliamentary area at Dewan Seri Pekembar Pagoh, here Wednesday.

Muhyiddin said Barisan Nasional (BN) was not worried over the visit by Anwar to 30 parliamentary areas nationwide, saying PKR was only bringing bad news and accusations against the government.

The deputy prime minister said the BN continuously present in all areas to explain the actual situation to the people to counter Anwar's accusations.

"Confidence in PKR is diminishing by day, so he may feel that he needs to move around to extend his political life," he said.

"I suggest that he go nationwide, not just 30 constituencies because his image is already badly damaged."

He added that the result of the Tenang by-election last week showed that the people could no longer be hoodwinked.

Muhyiddin said that the chaotic situation Selangor arising from the appointment of the state secretary showed that PKR had no capability to run a government.