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Friday, February 4, 2011

Protests continue in Cairo

Protests demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule continue in the Egyptian capital in defiance of a curfew while the government denies organising violence against demonstrators.
The developments come as the New York Times reports, quoting US officials and Arab diplomats, that the US administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Omar Suleiman, the newly appointed vice-president, with the support of the Egyptian military.
The Egyptian president, for his part, says he has had enough and is ready to go but fears chaos if he resigns now.
Mubarak's remarks, to an American TV network on Thursday, came as two days of clashes between protesters and his supporters on Cairo's streets left at least 13 people dead and hundreds injured.
The protesters, who numbered some 10,000 in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square during the day, prepared to defy the curfew and sleep there before a big demonstration on Friday they are calling "day of departure" to mark last week's bloody "day of wrath" protest.
Ahmed Shafiq, Egypt's new prime minister, said the interior minister should not obstruct Friday's peaceful marches. The interior ministry has denied it ordered its agents or officers to attack pro-democracy demonstrators.
Mubarak's government has struggled to regain control of a nation angry about poverty, recession and political repression, inviting the Muslim Brotherhood - Egypt's most organised opposition movement - to talks and apologising for Wednesday's bloodshed in Cairo.
Street battles
The confrontation extended to Thursday in central Cairo where armed Mubarak loyalists fought pro-democracy demonstrators.
"I am fed up. After 62 years in public service, I have had enough. I want to go," Mubarak, 82, who remains inside his heavily guarded palace in Cairo, said in the interview with ABC News.
"If I resign today, there will be chaos."
Asked to comment on calls for him to resign, he said: "I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country."
Mubarak blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for Wednesday's violence and said his government was not responsible for it.
"I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other," Mubarak told ABC.
But PJ Crowley, the US state department spokesman, said the US believes elements close to the Egyptian government or Mubarak's ruling party were responsible.
"I don't know that we have a sense of how far up the chain it went," Crowley said.
In a move to try to calm the situation, Suleiman, the vice-president, said on Thursday the Muslim Brotherhood had been invited to meet the new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties.
An offer to talk to the banned but tolerated group would have been unthinkable before protests erupted on January 25, indicating the gains made by the pro-democracy movement since then.
But scenting victory, they have refused talks until Mubarak goes.
Protesters in Tahrir Square, dominated now by a youthful hard core including secular middle-class graduates and mostly poorer Muslim Brotherhood activists, barely listened, saying the concessions were too little and too late.
Opposition actors including Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear watchdog head, and the Muslim Brotherhood said again that Mubarak, who wants to stay on until elections scheduled for September, must go before they would negotiate with the government.
"We demand that this regime is overthrown, and we demand the formation of a national unity government for all the factions," the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement broadcast by Al Jazeera.
The government's overture came after Shafiq, the prime minister, apologised for Wednesday's violence and the breakdown in law and order.
Shafiq also said he did not know who was responsible for the bloodshed, blamed by protesters on undercover police.
Meanwhile, the mobile operator Vodafone has complained about the use of the network by Egyptian authorities to send pro-government messages to the people.
In a statement on Thursday, Vodafone said: "These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content."
Buffer zone
The army's role in shaping events is crucial. Only on Thursday did soldiers set up a clear buffer zone around the square to separate factions after having stood by. That did not prevent new clashes as opposing groups pelted each other with rocks.
Doctors in makeshift hospitals at the scene said at least 10 people were dead and 800 wounded after armed men and stick-wielding Mubarak supporters attacked protesters on the streets. The UN estimates that number to be much higher.
Close to the Egyptian Museum, home to 7,000 years of civilisation, men fought with rocks, clubs and makeshift shields, as US-built tanks from the Egyptian army made intermittent efforts to intervene.
There were sporadic clashes throughout Thursday as the army fanned out to separate the two sides and allowed thousands more protesters to enter their camp in the square.

An Al Jazeera online producer in Cairo said: "The battle for downtown Cairo took on an almost medieval quality, with protesters erecting makeshift barricades and building homemade catapults to launch rocks at each other."
Click here for more on Al Jazeera's special coverage
He described the contrast between both sides' tactics as striking. "The pro-democracy protesters organised themselves, building walls and seizing strategic locations; the pro-Mubarak crowd mostly advanced in a mob, hurling rocks and then retreating under return fire," he said.
Later in the day, European leaders joined the US in urging their long-time Arab ally to start handing over power.
But the government, newly appointed in a reshuffle that failed to appease protesters, stood by Mubarak's insistence that he will go but only when his fifth term ends in September.
Mubarak told the ABC News correspondent Christiane Amanpour he felt relief after saying he would not run for president again, and said he that he had never intended for his son Gamal to be president after him, as had been widely believed. Gamal was in the room during the interview.
The opposition has won increasingly vocal support from Mubarak's long-time Western backers for a swifter handover of power.
"This process of transition must start now," the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain said in a statement.
They all echoed the message from Barack Obama, the US president, that an orderly transition of power must start immediately.
Mubarak described Obama as a very good man, but when asked by ABC News if he felt that the US had betrayed him, he said he told the US president: "You don't understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now."
Reporters targeted
There were several reports of foreign journalists being arrested or harassed. Dozens of them had their equipment confiscated.
Among the many detained were correspondents for the New York TimesWashington Post and Al Jazeera. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said late on Thursday that in just the past 24 hours, it had recorded 24 detentions of journalists, 21 assaults and five cases in which equipment was seized.
Angry men carjacked an ABC News crew and threatened to behead the journalists, but the crew managed to talk its way free, according to the network.
Al Jazeera said three of its journalists were detained by security forces, four were attacked and another was missing. It reported on Thursday night that the arrested journalists had been released.
Map: Demonstrations in the heart of Cairo
The channel, which the Egyptian authorities accuse of favouring the protesters, also said its equipment have been stolen and destroyed and its broadcast signal disrupted across the Arab world.
CPJ said on Wednesday that violence against journalists was part of a series of deliberate attacks and called on the Egyptian military to provide protection for reporters.
For her part, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, condemned "in the strongest terms" the pro-government mobs that beat, threatened and intimidated reporters in Cairo.
Attacks as well on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners and diplomats were "unacceptable under any circumstances", she said.
"There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian government, including the army, to protect those threatened and to hold accountable those responsible for these attacks," Clinton said
Shahira Amin, a senior journalist at Nile Television, a government-owned network, walked out on Wednesday in anger that state TV was not broadcasting enough of the protests and clashes in Tahrir Square.
Though less numerous than earlier in the week, there were demonstrations on Thursday in Suez and Ismailia, industrial cities where inflation and unemployment have kindled the sort of dissent that hit Tunisia and which some believe could ripple in a domino effect across other Arab police states.
There were also protests in the port city of Alexandria.
Oil prices have climbed on fears the unrest could spread to affect Saudi Arabia or interfere with oil supplies from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal.
Brent crude rose above $103 a barrel on Thursday.
As the security situation in Cairo deteriorates, governments and companies are chartering evacuation flights. Between 10,000 and 13,000 passengers fled the city on Wednesday aboard around 95 flights.
Al Jazeera and agencies

Death of justice in police custody

Cases of people dying while under detention keep cropping up, leaving an indelible mark on Malaysia's human rights record.

Suresh Kunasekaran, Samiyati Indrayani Zulkarnain Putra, A Kugan, M Krishnan and K Sivam – these five shared a common death: they all ended up dead while in police custody.

They also shared something else in common – failed justice and blatant abuse of their rights as humans.
When Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak assumed the country’s leadership from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on April 3, 2009, he promised the rakyat that he would “uphold civil liberties” and exhibit “regard for the fundamental rights of the people”.

Sadly or typical in politics, neither happened. Six years ago a royal commission report proposed the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) but in 2009 the government shot down the proposal, saying the IPCMC’s powers were “too broad” and unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, cases of people dying after being detained by police keep happening. Statistics showed that between 2000 and February 2010, those who died while in detention were Malays (64), Chinese (30), Indians (28) other races (eight) and foreigners (14).

In Kugan’s case, the cop suspected of causing the former grievous hurt has been declared a free man by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court. Judge Aslam Zainuddin on Jan 28, 2010, set constable V Navindran free because the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case.

Kugan, 23, was arrested in January 2009 in Puchong for allegedly stealing luxury cars. Barely days after, he was found dead inside the lock-up of the Taipan police station in USJ-Subang Jaya. A post-mortem declared his death as “fluid accumulation inside the lungs”. But eyewitnessess told a different story. They said the cop Navindran whacked Kugan with a rubber hose. A second post-mortem commissioned by Kugan’s family revealed that apart from being beaten, he had also been burnt and starved, all of which led to Kugan’s death.
On Jan 3 this year, police arrested electrician Krishnan, 37, on a drug-related offence. Four days later, Krishnan was found dead inside the Bukit Jalil police cell, with a Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia post-mortem concluding he died from stomach ulcer. A preliminary report on the second autopsy conducted by Universiti Malaya Medical Centre concurred with the earlier finding.

What made police so powerful?

Krishnan’s wife rejected the preliminary report, insisting that her husband was beaten to death. She said there were photographs of bruises on Krishnan’s body as well as two eyewitness who saw everything. The lawyer for the family said they were awaiting official documents on the first and second post-mortems before deciding on the next course of action. The report is due for release on Feb 7.

A week before Krishnan’s death, another death was recorded, this time at the Sentul police lock-up where Sivam, 43, was found dead. Samiyati, meanwhile, was found dead at the Wangsa Maju police station on Sept 12, 2006. Despite there being bruises on her body, Samiyati’s death was attributed to asthma.

The question being asked by the rakyat is: what has made the police so “powerful” in determining who they want to kill or set free?

In July last year, DAP MP Gobind Singh Deo demanded the Home Ministry clarify the cause of death behind the estimated 1,500 custodial deaths between 2003 and 2007.

“From 2003 to 2007, why was there no action taken? Why is it that until now (the) minister is unable to give a report and details?

“I call upon (Home Minister) Hishammuddin Hussein to respond and tell us how did these 1,500 people die? What has been done about their death?” asked Gobind.

On June 23, Gobind had forwarded to Deputy Home Minister Wira Abu Seman Yusop a copy of a BBC report titled “Malaysia pressed by UN over detentions without trial”. The report, published on June 18, stated that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s visit to Malaysian prisons and detention centres found that between 2003 and 2007 “over 1,500 people died while being held by authorities”.

Gobind had said the deputy minister replied that there was no police report made and the ministry would only take action once a report is lodged.

Truly, such indifference shown by the deputy home minister towards the lives of people only further eroded the rakyat’s confidence in the police.

Basic rights denied
Criminal lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad had once pointed out that laws such as the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and subsidiary legislation such as the Lock-up Rules were designed to “uphold and ensure the basic rights of persons under arrest” as well as to regulate lock-up conditions. However, these have been enforced in such a way that the basic rights are denied.

Section 28A (3) of the CPC stipulates that when an arrested person wishes to communicate with a “relative or friend to inform of his or her whereabouts” or “consult with a legal practitioner of his or her choice, the police officer should allow this “as soon as may be”.

In reality, this provision under the law has been conveniently dismissed by the police. Why?
The Royal Commission on Police report, released in May 2005, stated that between 2000 and 2004 only six out of the 80 deaths in custody were subject to inquests.

The failure of the judicial system in delivering justice to Kugan’s family follows on the heels of Teoh Beng Hock, a former DAP political aide who was found dead on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009, hours after he was interrogated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in the same premises.

Teoh’s family rejected the possibility of suicide, suspecting foul play instead. Following a public outcry, Najib ordered an inquest into the death. But after 18 months of proceedings and with Teoh’s remains exhumed for a second post-mortem, the coroner delivered an open verdict, ruling out both suicide and homicide.

Teoh’s sister, disappointed with the unjust verdict, demanded that a Royal Commission of Inquiry be set up to relook the cause of Teoh’s death. Najib has given the royal commission a three-month deadline.

Najib, however, refused to select any one of the five nominees suggested by Teoh’s family as the commission panel. Names given included former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan, former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar and workers rights group Tenaganita founder Irene Fernandez.

It is perplexing that Najib was not keen in all five names when all five are well known advocates in their respective fields. Would Najib care to answer why he refused to appoint even one of the names referred by Teoh’s family? Is it because the government wants to hide the truth one way or another? What happened to Najib’s cry of “people first, performance now”?

Even DAP leader Lim Kit Siang was left wondering why Najib rejected the names suggested by Teoh’s family. Lim regretted that the prime minister failed to consult Teoh’s family although he had promised to meet them and the public on who best be appointed as commissioners.

“It is no exaggeration to say that as a whole, the composition of the six members of the commission does not inspire full public confidence,” Lim had said.

In Kugan’s case, his family might not be as “enlightened” as Teoh’s in terms of demanding that an inquiry be set up. But all the bruises on Kugan’s body confirmed their fears that he was severely abused while in detention. A Sivarasa, one of the lawyers representing Kugan’s family, has demanded that Attorney-General Gani Patail resign for failing to ensure that justice prevailed.

Integrity of judicial system compromised
The Session Court’s decision to allow constable Navindran to go free has once again proven the public right that the judicial system is no longer trustworthy. To them it is unbelievable that in spite of eyewitnessess confirming that the cop had whacked Kugan with a rubber hose, the court set the constable free.

“The court’s excuse is the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case. It is unbelievable to what extent our judicial system can stoop so low. Setting the cop free has made a mockery of our country’s ability to mete out justice.

“The other truth is that the Session Court’s decision has also tainted the integrity of Malaysia’s judicial system. In this country, justice is all about power and influence, not about punishing the wrong-doer. It is as if justice is dead in Malaysia,” an activist Manohara Subramaniam lamented to FMT.

In October 2006, Amnesty International Malaysia (AI), disturbed over the custody death of Suresh, said its documented cases in the past revealed that relatives of those who died in police custody alleged that the police had obstructed the complaint process, suppressed evidence and even colluded with hospital officials and medical officers.

AI had then called for amendments to the CPC to include best practices on preliminary investigations in cases of custodial deaths. This also included sealing a police station as a crime scene for an independent investigation, including temporary suspension of officers in charge of the lock-up. These procedures were deemed important in avoiding tampering of evidence and any possibility of conspiracy between people involved in the case.

Another issue that AI believed needed urgent implementation was the installation and proper maintenance of closed-circuit televisions in all police stations, especially lock-ups and interrogation rooms with clear guidelines on how these recordings are kept safe.

Incidences of deaths at the hands of the police have left an indelible mark as far as the manipulation of justice and abuse of human rights are concerned. Failed justice in such cases is seen as a humiliation in the face of Najib’s promises of putting the rakyat’s welfare first.

In February 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council examined Malaysia under its Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Malaysia, however, rejected various recommendations by member states, including ratifications of core human rights treaties.

Pakatan wants Najib’s reply to Dr M’s Tanah Melayu remarks

Dr Mahathir said earlier this week that Malaysia belongs to the Malays. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have demanded that Datuk Seri Najib Razak respond to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest remarks that Malaysia belongs to the Malays and other races are expected to respect Malay sovereignity. They want the prime minister to state his stand and views on the matter, and whether he subscribes to Dr Mahathir’s views or feels otherwise.
Opposition leaders said Dr Mahathir’s statement was a direct contradiction to Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept of equality.
“Najib cannot maintain an elegant silence over this, he has to respond to Dr Mahathir’s remarks. It’s important to see what stand Najib will take, and whether or not he is afraid of the repercussions should he not agree with Dr Mahathir,” Datuk Mahfuz Omar told The Malaysian Insider.

Mahfuz said Dr Mahathir does not take criticisms lightly. — File pic
The PAS vice-president pointed out that those within Barisan Nasional (BN) who disagreed with the former prime minister ended up having very shortlived political careers, saying that Dr Mahathir did not take criticisms lightly. Citing Dr Mahathir’s attacks against Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Mahfuz claimed that the veteran politician had consistently shown that he opposed Najib’s policies such as his 1 Malaysia concept.
“We can definitely see that Dr Mahathir is unhappy with Najib. Najib, on the other hand, has failed in making people understand his 1 Malaysia concept. If Dr Mahathir cannot accept or understand it, how then do normal folk?” said Mahfuz.
He stressed that PR did not recognise or support any views which did not recognise the rights of all races and did not contribute towards the nation-building process.
DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua called Dr Mahathir’s views “supremacist”, saying there were no provisions in the Federal Constitution which supported Dr Mahahir’s views.
“Najib and Mahathir should perhaps enlighten Malaysians where Mahathir’s supremacist concept is found in the Federal Constitution as designed by our forefathers.

Pua called Dr Mahathir’s views ‘supremacist’. — File pic
“Najib will also have to explain how his 1 Malaysia fits into Mahathir’s scheme of things,” Pua told The Malaysian Insider. According to another DAP leader, Lim Kit Siang, Dr Mahathir was “contradicting” himself as his remarks went against not only the 1 Malaysia concept, but also the “Bangsa Malaysia” concept bandied around during the Mahathir administration.
“What he said was full of contradictions... it contradicts his (Dr Mahathir’s) own Bangsa Malaysia concept and 1 Malaysia.
“The aim for Vision 2020 was to create a Malaysia full of people committed to the nation, all races working together on the same platform,” the DAP parliamentary leader told The Malaysian Insider.
In a speech on Tuesday, Dr Mahathir told Malaysians to admit that the country belonged to the Malays and that they had to accept the culture and language of the dominant community.
The former prime minister said that the country’s forefathers gave the Chinese and Indians citizenship because they expected the communities to respect Malay sovereignty.
“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,” he said.
He also said the administration must be clear on what is 1 Malaysia.
In a poll conducted by Merdeka Review last year, only 39 per cent of non-Bumiputeras accepted the 1 Malaysia concept despite the fact that it had been introduced for over a year.
Forty-six per cent out of 3,141 respondents interviewed felt that 1 Malaysia was only a “tactic to win over non-Malay support” while another 16 per cent had either refused to answer the poll questions or claimed to have no understanding of the concept whatsoever.
Respondents were undecided on whether Malaysia had become more united under the Najib administration, with 48 per cent saying “yes” and 43 per cent claiming that the country was still disunited.
Veteran Umno politician and one-time Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah also agreed and said that the 1 Malaysia slogan was “hollow” and had lacked direction and vision and even compared it to Dr Mahathir’s Vision 2020.

Cost of living going up and up

In addition to the soaring prices in the food and drinks industry, the quality in the housing industry has also been dropping. In the old days, houses were acquired to live for life and became the family heritage homes for generations to come.

By YEW LEE KIM, Sin Chew
Translated by Adeline Lee

Many years ago, I loved to eat Chinese buns and dim sum more than the western fast food, especially the big buns, which at that time were really very big.

Over the years, the cost of the big buns have gone up, but the skin of the buns had became gradually thicker, with only a small portion of egg and smaller amount of pork.

As the price of a big bun became increasingly disproportional with its content, I have stopped eating it for some time now. I often jokingly refereed to it as the "evolution of a bun", that is the price goes up, while its quality goes down.

Besides the big bun, there are also many traditional good foods whose qualities have also declined. For example, the ingredients of the dumplings have become less, and the wontons are getting smaller and smaller.

And just in the first month of 2011, the pressure of increasing prices is already widely felt. Particularly in the start of the new year, prices of all goods have gone up. The most unbearable is the double increase in the food and drinks industry. Clear-minded consumers will find that in addition to the increase in price of at least 50 sen per bowl of noodles dish of some areas, its content is also secretly shrunk. The shrimps and squids of fried noodles have all disappeared, and some char siew slices of noodles dishes have also decreased in quantity.

The difficulties faced by the food hawkers are not hard to understand. The high cost of the raw ingredients has increased their production cost, but they dare not increase their prices much for fear of losing their customers. So they have to cut corners. But this is not a permanent way to manage business. If these practices were carried out for a long time, traditional food would change, and it would stop being able to satisfy the taste of the customers. In that case, what capital will local food have to compete with fast food from overseas? It is no wonder then that our children love western fast food better than local food. The worst consequence will be the gradual phase out of local cuisine. Of course, there are also hawkers who adhered to gradual increase in prices, but who did not reduce the quality of their food. But these are in the minority.

In addition to the soaring prices in the food and drinks industry, the quality in the housing industry has also been dropping. In the old days, houses were acquired to live for life and became the family heritage homes for generations to come. But shabby housing projects are nowadays more common. High housing prices have weighed down the city people, yet we lack even the protection of a comfortable home.

In addition, the 1% increase in service tax at the beginning of this year is not limited to just the food and drinks industry, it also includes accountancy, legal, architectural, and certain medical services. Unless you do not buy houses, have no need to do accounts, do not get loans, and do not fall sick, you will inevitably have to pay service tax.

It is understood from some service providers that some of their customers do not understand why the number of bills has increased, and thought that the industry wants to make profit. In order to retain their customers, some service providers offer discounts on other charges. Of course, nothing comes for free, and ultimately the losers may be the customers because the service quality may also be played off.

As a consumer, of course, we all want to get what we pay. The businessmen want to maximise profits with minimal capital. To strike a balance between the two, we can not look only at the immediate short term profits; we must look to the future as well. Otherwise with the quality of all the basic necessities of life diminishing, how can Malaysians look forward to a better tomorrow in the new year?

More pain for vandals

Malay Mail

PETALING JAYA: With millions being spent anually to repair damaged public property, calls are steadily mounting for the government to implement a Vandalism Act which provides stiffer punishment for mischief-makers.

Long-suffering local councils, which foot the bill for property damage running up to tens of millions of ringgit every year, feel such an Act could prove the difference between offenders getting their just desserts or going home with a mere slap on the wrist.

The move, initially mooted by the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation recently, received overwhelming support from local authorities, who even suggested Singapore's Vandalism Act be studied to see if aspects of it can be emulated locally.

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman said the amount spent on repairs is taking a toll on local authorities.

"Every year, we spend at least RM10 million in repairs to damage caused by vandals. Just removing Ah Long stickers and repainting walls, for example, sets us back by about RM2 million.

"Such amounts could be channeled towards better purposes."

The situation, he said, is not helped by the lightweight fines provided for under existing Vandalism by-laws 2005, which is applied throughout Selangor. The maximum punishment for damaging public property can reach up only to RM2,000 or a year's jail.

"The RM2,000 fine and jail term is only imposed if the suspect is charged in court. A compound fine can only reach up to RM1,000. The existing by-laws are no longer enough to serve as a deterrent."

A Vandalism Act enacted at Federal level, he said, could also aid councils obtain manpower and resources. Agencies, such as police and Rela, can be integrated to take the load off councils by sharing enforcement duties.

His views were shared by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) president Datuk Mohamad Yacob, who admitted their expenses towards repairing vandalism-related damage runs into "millions".

"A large chunk of ratepayers' money goes into repairing vandalised property, and as such, the Act can actually curb unnecessary wastage."

Mohamad Yacob also pointed out a Vandalism Act should address several weaknesses in the current by-laws with regard to enforcement.

"Under the by-laws, council enforcement officers do not have the power to arrest offenders. Also, if offenders are not caught redhanded, the culprit can walk away scott-free.

"To make it effective, power should be accorded to police under the Act to nab offenders."

Klang Municipal Council (MPK) president Mislan Tugiu offered a novel idea on how to punish vandals.

"Offenders should be made to repay the cost of repairing the vandalised property. Only then will they realise the folly of their ways," he said, adding that MPK frequently had to repair items, such as playground equipment, road railings, bus stops and even lamp posts.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said City Hall would support moves by the government that could deter vandalism. Malaysia, he said, could learn from other countries on how vandalism was dealt with.

"Other countries impose tougher punishments. Here, upon conviction, offenders get away with minor fines. If heavier penalties can be imposed, people would think twice before destroying public property."

Kajang Municipal Council president Datuk Hasan Nawawi Abd Rahman also backed the call for heavier punishment against vandals. He said the council's enforcement officers now only had the authority to take down the details of the vandals, but can't detain them.

"Even when our enforcement staff catch these vandals red-handed, we only take a statement from them and issue them a compound."

Hasan also suggested community service be imposed as punishment for those convicted of vandalism.

Penalties in other countries

• Singapore's Vandalism Act 1966
SECTION 3 of the Act imposes a fine of up to S$2,000 (RM4,800) or imprisonment for a term not more than three years and mandatory whipping of not less than three strokes and not more than eight strokes of the cane.

• UK's Anti-Social Behaviour Order
VANDALISM is an environmental crime, dealt under Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) introduced by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Anyone found guilty faces a jail term up to six months or a fine. The penalty on conviction can rise to a jail term up to five years or a fine, or both.

Foreign cases

• AMERICAN teenager Michael Fay, then 18, pleaded guilty to vandalising cars in addition to stealing road signs in Singapore. He was sentenced on March 3, 1994, to four months in jail, a fine of S$3,500 and six strokes of the cane. The number of cane strokes in his sentence was reduced from six to four after US officials requested leniency.

• UNEMPLOYED Singaporean Koh Chan Meng, 48, was slapped with three counts of vandalism in January 2009 after he was caught scribbling on the wall outside the Parliament House there. He allegedly wrote on the wall, considered public property, the words "Hi Harry Lee I love you" (refers to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew) and "Go sue me Lee Kuan Yew Go Gavin Son". However, on Feb 16, he was acquitted on the grounds he was of unsound mind.

• LAST July, Christopher Frost, 22, from Dalbeattie and Alexander McIntosh, 19, from Dumfries, admitted damaging 47 gravestones at the cemetery in Kirkcudbright, Scotland on June 21 and 22. The two men have each been jailed for 35 months after they admitted causing more than £50,000 worth of damage at the Kirkcudbright Cemetery.

Beef up enforcement to curb problem

PETALING JAYA: The Housing and Local Government Ministry is calling on local authorities to deploy more personnel to enforce rules against vandalism.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung told The Malay Mail that the enforcement by local authorities to curb vandalism was weak due to their limited manpower.

“We call on them (local authorities) to beef up their enforcement staff as I realise many councils do not have the strength to carry out effective enforcement.”

Chor, commenting on the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation’s call for the Vandalism Act to be enacted, said introduction of new laws to overcome increasing cases of vandalism in the country would not work if implementation was not put into place.

“The law is good, but even with heavier fines and compulsory community service, the situation would be thrown back to square one without strong enforcement.”

However, he did not dismiss the possibility of bringing the issue to Parliament.

The public wants vandals caned and shamed

KUALA LUMPUR: Vandals of public property must be publicly punished so they will never repeat the offence and others will be similarly deterred from doing so.

Even so, some people interviewed by The Paper That Cares felt harsh punishment should, however, be tempered with avenues for creativity to flourish, citing graffiti as an example.

Customer service officer Norlela Mohd Azmi (pic), 29, of Shah Alam was among those who felt vandals must be adequetly punished for their irresponsibility.

Stating the issue was discussed for a long time without any action taken to resolve the problems, she said: "I strongly agree the government impose harsh punishments on vandals. Their bad habits have deprived the public of important amenities and has also given a bad impression to tourists about Malaysia."

University student Richard Wong Duat Jonos, 21, said: "The public can easily help the government curb this problem by taking pictures of vandals in action."

For punishment, he suggested, these vandals be taught a lesson by being forced to conduct clean-up activities in public areas.

Another student, Ong Men Kien, 19, of Sabah hoped the authorities would not just issue summonses but also institute assertive punishment like short-term jail sentences for repeat offenders who break a 'three strikes, you're out' policy.

He also suggests vandals be fined up to RM2,000.

"Vandals must be jailed for three months and be made to pay back double the cost of the damaged items."

Phone operator S. Lakshmi, 32, of Pantai Dalam here suggested shaming the offenders publicly. "Vandals create a bad impression for both locals and visitors. So, it is fair if the government punish them by making them wear labels and tags which proclaim them to be vandals."

Recently, Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the current vandalism by-laws were inadequate to eradicate the problem which was posing a major threat to the well-being of citizens.

Tee Keat Must Stop Attacks And Respect MCA Leadership

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 (Bernama) -- Former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat must stop 'attacks' and respect the leadership elected by members last year said MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha.

As a former president, Tee Keat's views and criticism are welcomed but he must stop attacking the leadership and respect the new officer bearers.

"He must respect the decision of the delegates," he told reporters at the MCA Chinese New Year open house here Thursday.

Tee Keat had in a statement Wednesday, attacked MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, labelling him as a man without moral, because he did not standby what he had said - to resign from all party posts due to the video sex scandal that he was involved in 2007.

Dr Chua who had resigned as Health Minister due to the scandal, took over the MCA leadership last year in an election which saw Dr Chua contesting and winning against Tee Keat, for the top post.

Kong said Dr Chua has been able to restore stability and unity in the party since taking over and has also helped increase support of the Chinese community towards Barisan Nasional.

"Dr Chua is now elected as MCA president. As a political party that practices democracy, anyone can contest for a post once in every three years. But once the delegates have chosen the leadership, we must respect the chair," he said.

He added that Tee Keat's 'attack' was uncalled for at a time when the Chinese community would be celebrating Chinese New Year.

She's leaving on a jetplane

Fight against Interlok not over, says Hindraf

(Malaysiakini) Hindraf Makkal Sakthi will be organising a march for solidarity against racism on Feb 27 at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).
hindraf anti interlok rally poster 030211Hindraf national coordinator W Sambulingam said the scheduled rally was to protest against Interlok, the controversial novel that Form Five students use as a literature text.

Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced on Jan 27 that the novel will remain as the textbook for the literature component of the Bahasa Malaysia subject for Form Five, but with amendments to those parts deemed offensive by the Indian community.

"We want the book to be withdrawn. From day one until now, we have wanted the book gone," Sambulingam said when contacted by Malaysiakini.

azlanHe also said that Interlok is nothing but an engineered plan by Umno to further plant the seeds of racism and segregation in schools and in the mind of youths, similar to the programmes that are run by the National Civics Bureau (Biro Tata Negara).

He added that tolerance and co-existence in this country has been abused and misused, and the patience of Indians taken for granted.

"It is time to bury racism in Malaysia and it is time to take the bull by the horns," he said.

NONEWhen asked on whether there are any back-up plans or approaches other than holding the rally, Sambulingam said: "We will take it as it is and this is how we always do it. We won't fight back. We don't practice any violence.

"If the police were to spray water canons at us again, by all means... we will take it.

"The meeting point will be at KLCC at 9am and the location (of the march) would be kept from all until the very day itself, so that our plans don't go wrong," he said.

The issue first surfaced at the end of last year when Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department T Murugiah (above) registered his protest after his ministry discussed the novel with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

The MIC has also called for changes to be made to the novel before it is used as a literature textbook by Form Five students this year, with the BN component party saying it contained a chapter that was offensive to Indians.

Indian NGOs decry the book's description of Indians in Malaysia as being from the lower caste, among other racial stereotypes.

Egypt's prime minister apologizes and vows probe into violence

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Egypt's embattled regime moved Thursday to defuse a bloody uprising as sporadic clashes continued in the capital's central square, where the drama has been unfolding for 10 days.

President Hosni Mubarak's newly appointed prime minister apologized repeatedly for the violence that rocked Cairo on Wednesday, which many believe was the work of pro-government thugs, and vowed to investigate.

Mubarak supporters converged with anti-government crowds Wednesday in a confrontation that quickly evolved into continuing mayhem in the city's Tahrir Square. At least five people were killed and 836 injured, including 200 within one hour Thursday morning, according to the health ministry.

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq blamed infiltrators and a "complete disappearance" of police for the human toll in the "catastrophe." Vice President Omar Suleiman said the perpetrators of the violence would be held accountable.

"This group got in and some clashes happened," Shafiq said, adding that he would look into whether the violence was part of an organized attempt to disband the opposition.

The government also froze the bank accounts of former leaders and imposed a travel ban that restricts them from exiting the country, state-run television said. The travel ban will remain in effect "until national security is restored and the authorities and monitoring bodies have undergone their investigations," Nile TV said.

Among the leaders facing the punitive measures is Habib Adli, former minister of the interior, which oversees Egypt's police forces.

And Suleiman, tapped as Mubarak's vice president last Saturday, announced that Mubarak's son, Gamal, who was being groomed as his father's successor, will not run for president in September elections.

Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for three decades, has already announced he will not seek re-election. But that concession has fallen far short with protesters demanding immediate change.

Egyptian anger continued to surface in Tahrir Square on Thursday as pro-Mubarak crowds, albeit thinner than the previous day, clashed again with the government's opponents.

Earlier, the sound of sustained gunfire echoed through central Cairo. The military maneuvered to separate the two sides but in the afternoon, in parts of the square, the soldiers were nowhere to be seen.

Anti-government demonstrators hunkered down behind makeshift barricades and small fires burned in the square, with some spreading to trees and walls. Chunks of concrete and Molotov cocktails flew as the crisis escalated.

Shafiq appealed to his compatriots, especially Egypt's youth, to show patience as the government's leadership goes through the transitional period.

"It has great meaning not to hurt each other, hurt our reputation," he said. "Do they want what happened in Tunisia to happen here?" Shafiq said, referring to the revolt in Tunisia that ousted the nation's longtime strongman and served as inspiration for other nations in the region that have seen similar demonstrations.

Shafiq said he and Suleiman planned to meet with the opposition -- including protesters in Tahrir Square. He said no one would be excluded from the national dialog, including the Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed Islamist umbrella group.

But spokesman Essam El-Erian, said the Muslim Brotherhood will not participate in talks with the regime.

"We refuse to sit with him," El-Erian said Thursday, referring to Suleiman.

Other key opposition groups have also rejected meeting invitations, including the secular liberal Wafd Party and the Al-Ghad party, led by former presidential candidate Ayman Nour.

Journalists covering the crisis have also become targets -- beaten, bloodied, harassed and detained by men, most all in some way aligned with Mubarak. Numerous news outlets -- including the BBC, ABC News and CNN -- reported members of their staffs had been attacked, most on the streets of Cairo.

In several cases, news personnel were accused of being "foreign spies," seized, whisked away, and often assaulted. A spokesman for the United States blasted forces in Egypt who have harassed, detained and beaten journalists.

"There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday on Twitter. "We condemn such actions."

In Washington, President Barack Obama addressed the Egyptian crisis at the National Prayer Breakfast.

"We pray that the violence in Egypt will end, and that the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people will be realized, and that a better day will dawn over Egypt and throughout the world," he said.

Obama's comments came after the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain issued a statement urging a "rapid and peaceful transition" and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton called on Mubarak to act "as quickly as possible" on that transition.

In the nation's second-largest city of Alexandria, some signs of normalcy could be seen Thursday as trams returned to the streets for the first time in days.

A group of fishermen said they wanted life to get back to normal and one Mubarak supporter said the protests in Cairo were humiliating.

Mubarak loyalists, who had been largely silent since the unrest began, came out in full force Wednesday -- in one case wielding whips and thundering through the crowd on horses and camels.

"What you are seeing is the demonstration of the real Egyptian people who are trying to take back their country, trying to take back their street," said businessman Khaled Ahmed, who described himself as "pro-Egyptian."

But some observers said the pro-Mubarak push Wednesday was likely orchestrated by a regime bent on breaking up peaceful demonstrations.

"These are tactics that are well-known in Egypt," Michele Dunne, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told CNN's John King.

It was unclear whether confrontations were being repeated elsewhere. Other Cairo neighborhoods were calm, and rallies in Egypt's second-largest city, Alexandria, were largely peaceful.

Cairo resident Waleed Tawfik noted that Tahrir Square is the size of a football stadium, and the events there are not representative of peaceful protests elsewhere.

"There are 29 governors in Egypt," Tawfik said. "I don't understand why the whole international media is focused on a geographic area around about a half-kilometer by a half-kilometer."

He professed neutrality on Mubarak, but said the man who has ruled Egypt for three decades should be allowed to finish his term.

"I'd be worried if the president packed up and left at the request of 60,000 people," Tawfik said. "Eighty-four million is a larger voice ... (to) reconstruct the government and reshuffle ministers won't happen over day and night."

Adun Sri Muda bakal didakwa di mahkamah

Pagi ini beliau telah diminta untuk hadir ke Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Shah Alam dan dibebaskan atad jaminan polis.
SHAH ALAM: Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Sri Muda Shuhaimi Shafie dipercayai bakal didakwa atas Akta Hasutan di Mahkamah Sesyen Isnin depan, berhubung penulisannya di dalam blog yang didakwa menghina Sultan Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.
Pagi tadi, beliau telah diminta hadir ke Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Shah Alam. Shuhaimi tiba kira-kira 11.10 pagi, ditemani peguam Lateefa Koya, ahli parlimen Shah Alam Khalid Samad dan Adun Sri Andalas Xavier Jayakumar.
Menurut Shuhaimi, beliau dibebaskan atas jaminan lisan oleh polis dengan seorang penjamin.
“Pihak polis menghubungi saya petang semalam untuk hadir ke balai. Saya dipanggil untuk ditangkap namun dibebaskan atas jaminan lisan oleh polis,” katanya yang ditemui media di luar perkarangan balai polis.
Lateefa menjelaskan pertuduhan masih belum jelas namun pihaknya diberitahu bahawa wakil rakyat itu akan didakwa dibawah Sesyen 4 (1) C.
“Kami diberitahu beliau (Shuhami) dituduh dibawah Seksyen 4(1)C. Kita kata pertuduhan ‘oppresive’ iaitu tiada objektif dan subjektif.
“Jika fikir punya ciri menghasut itu cukup untuk membawa pertuduhan di bawah Akta Hasutan,” jelas Lateefa.
Lateefa berkata pihaknya akan menunggu perkembangan pertuduhan pada Isnin ini.
Katanya jaminan lisan diberi polis bagi memastikan Shuhaimi hadir ke mahkamah Isnin ini dan jika gagal penjamin beliau iaitu Abdul Razak Ismail akan dikenakan denda RM2 ribu.
“Kita tunggu 7 Februari ini bagaimana pertuduhan dan lihat berapa jaminan.
“Bagi kami tindakan ini tidak patut dibuat dan akan protes terhadap apa-apa siasatan.
“Jaminan lisan pada hari ini bagi memastikan Shuhaimi hadir. Jika tidak tindakan akan dikenakan ke atas penjamin,” jelasnya.
Shuhaimi bakal didakwa Isnin ini jam 9 pagi di Mahkamah Sesyen Shah Alam.
Ketika ditanya sama ada akan hadir ke mahkamah Isnin ini beliau berkata “Insyallah akan hadir”.
Pendakwaan terpilih
Berhubung surat mengadap ke atas Sultan, beliau berkata masih tiada perkembangan lanjut berhubung hal itu.
“Setakat ini tiada maklumat terkini memandangkan Sultan tiada. Kita tunggu maklum balas Tuanku terlebih dahulu kerana buat masa ini tiada surat lain yang saya akan hantar,” katanya.
Dalam pada itu, Khalid pula mendakwa tindakan ke atas Shuhaimi disifatkan sebagai berat sebelah.
“Tindakan ke atas beliau seolah-olah pendakwaan yang terpilih. Kenapa beliau menulis ringkas iaitu secara ‘subjective interpretation’ dikenakan tindakan tegas.
“Sedangkan Azmin Ali dalam sidang Dewan Undangan Negeri menjelaskan sejarah sejarah institusi raja diperlekehkan pemimpin Barisan Nasional.
“Disebabkan itu kita minta Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail sepatutnya bertanggungjawab ke atas parlimen bukan arahan perdana menteri,” katanya.

Dr Mahathir bertukar wajah lagi

Isu perkauman semakin hari semakin panas dan ianya dipanaskan lagi oleh pemimpin-pemimpin veteran kita dan yang terakhir ialah oleh Dr Mahathir sendiri. Akhir-akhir ini Dr Mahathir sering memberikan kenyataan yang agak keterlaluan dengan membangkitkan semangat perkauman seperti yang pernah beliau lakukan semasa beliau mengkritik Tunku Abd Rahman setelah beliau (Mahathir) kalah di tangan PAS pada tahun 1969 dahulu.

Semasa beliau kecewa kerana kekalahan beliau pada pilihanraya itu Dr Mahathir telah membangkitkan semangat orang Melayu dengan menuduh yang Bapa Kemerdekaan itu telah melalaikan orang Melayu dan terlalu pro Cina dan bangsa-bangsa bukan Melayu. Kekalahan beliau dalam plihanraya itu membuatkan beliau menuding jari kepada semua orang kecuali pada diri beliau sendiri dengan menyibarkan surat terbuka menghentam Tunku dan menuduh Tunku dengan berbagai-bagai tuduhan yang menyakitkan. Surat terbuka itu telah dihantar kepada semua rakyat semata-mata untuk mengajak rakyat menjatuhkan Tunku.

Sikap ultra beliau telah menjadikan beliau diikuti oleh orang Melayu khususnya ahli-ahli UMNO dan ini merupakan strategi politik beliau yang sangat berkesan baginya. Dr Mahathir mengkritik keras Tunku kerana mewujudkan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) dan menuduh Tunku sebagai pemimpin kuku besi dan tidak demokratik. Mahathir menentang ISA dengan kuatnya sehinggakan Tunku terpaksa memecat beliau dari keahlian UMNO. Tetapi Akta itu jugalah yang diperketatkan beliau setelah beliau mendapat kuasa dan ramai dikalangan ahli politik yang tidak sebulu dengannya ditahan dibawah ISA.

Beliau bertindak berdiri diatas pentas PAS semasa pilihanraya Kecil Kapar apabila ADUN Hamzah Alang meninggal dunia. Pada beliau UMNO tidak ada gunanya langsung dan menuduh Tunku meminda undang-undang seperti menukar seluar dalam sahaja. Dr Mahathir menzahirkan perasaan marahnya kepada bangsa Cina yang telah memihak kepada PAS didalam pilihanraya umum 1969 di Kawasan Kota Setar yang telah menyebabkan kekalahan beliau dengan majoriti melebihi seribu undi. Pemimpin PAS yang telah mengalahkan beliau tidak lain dari Mursyidul Am PAS semasa itu, Hj Yusuf Rawa.

Semasa beliau didalam pemecatan beliau adalah orang yang paling hampir dengan pergerakkan pelajar dan salah seorang darinya ialah Anwar Ibrahim dan Dr Mahathir menggunakan pelajar-pelajar untuk berdemonstrasi dan semasa itulah bermulanya budaya demonstrasi jalanan pelajar-pelajar dan Mahasiswa di pusat-pusat pengajian tinggi. Hubungan Anwar dengan Mahathir memang begitu baik dan Dr Mahathir merupakan orang yang menjadi ikutan Mahasiswa semasa itu.

Kegiatan Mahasiswa hanya dikekang dengan Akta Universiti dan Kolej yang diperkenalkan oleh Dr Mahathir sendiri setelah Tun Razak melantik beliau menjadi Menteri Pelajaran apabila beliau kembali kepangkuan UMNO pada tahun 1973 apabila beliau diterima sebagai ahli UMNO diRawang setelah permohonannya ditolak oleh semua cawangan UMNO diKedah.

Ramai diantara Mahasiswa yang berdemonstrasi diatas galakkan beliau dan membantu beliau dibalas dengan menyumbat mereka kedalam kem tahanan dikemunting, Perak.

Setelah mendapat mandat dan kuasa yang diberikan oleh parti dan kerajaan Dr Mahathir akhirnya menjadi Perdana Menteri dan imej pro Melayu beliau mulai pudar dan beliau sudah bertukar wajah menjadi seorang pemimpin yang liberal, malahan beliau merasa rimas dengan dasar mengutamakan Melayu sebagai yang diperuntukkan oleh Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB). Beliau tidak lagi selesa dengan dasar memberikan tongkat kepada orang Melayu dan beliau mahukan tongkat untuk orang Melayu dan Bumiputra itu dibuang.

Walaupun DEB belum selesai dilaksanakan kerajaan pimpinan beliau sudah mula menekankan kepada dasar pembangunan jangka panjang tanpa memberikan tumpuan kepada dasar ‘social dan economic engineering’ yang terkandung didalam DEB itu. Unit penyertaan Bumiputra didalam semua bank-bank dan Kementerian-kementerian serta Jabatan-jabatan kerajaan ditutup. Dr Mahathjir mahukan pembangunan ‘express’ yang telah menghasilkan banyak elemen negatif kepada negara dan rakyat.

Yang penting bagi beliau negara mesti dihiasi dengan bangunan yang tinggi-tinggi dan semuanya mesti ditunjukkan sebagai yang terpenjang dan tertinggi serta terbesar didalam dunia. Dengan pembangunan yang tidak terancang projek-projek ‘express’ yang mega-mega telah memaksa kita mengimport ‘capital goods’ yang terlalu banyak hinggakan kos pembinaan sesuatu projek itu telah melibatkan perbelanjaan yang dua atau tiga kali ganda dari harga yang sebenarnya.

Selain dari itu pengimportan ‘capital goods’ yang begitu ‘massive’ telah menyebabkan kejatuhan nilai mata-wang kita dan hasilnya matawang kita telah dirobek oleh spekulator matawang antarabangsa dan krisis kewangan pun melanda negara kita tanpa kawalan.

Oleh kerana pembangunan hendak dilakukan dengan cepat maka proses tender terbuka mula dilupakan dan digantikan dengan proses rundingan terus dan disinilah bermulanuya budaya rasuah yang keterlaluan dan pemimpin-pemimpin kita terlibat dengan penyalaha gunaan kuasa dan rasuah yang begitu besar. Ketirisan yang begitu jelas dalam jumlah yang ratusan billion berlaku dan rakyat sedang membayar segala kos ketirisan pada hari ini.

Subsidi-subsidi kepada rakyat yang memerlukan dihapuskan tetapi segelintiran orang-orang yang teristimewa telah mengambil kesempatan diatas segala pengorbanan rakyat yang ramai ini. Dengan keadaan ini maka timbul pula masalah yang baru; iaitu pengecilan kelas menengah rakyat yang dibina oleh DEB yang telah menampakkan kejayaan sebelum Dr Mahathir mengambil alih tampuk kuasa negara.

Banyak lagi yang boleh diulas tentang isu Dr Mahathir dengan dasar pembangunannya. Tetapi kali ini kita hendak memahami siapa Dr Mahathir yang sebenarnya. Persoalan ini timbul kerana penampilannya yang berbeza dengan keadaan dan masa. Disatu masa beliau seorang yang berjuamg untuk Melayu tetapi dalam masa yang berlainan beliau adalah penyekat kepada dasar-dasar yang membina kemajuan orang Melayu.

Beliau meminta supaya Melayu tidak pakai tongkat. Mungkin elok jika kita tidak menggunakan tongkat itu, tetapi tongkat itu jangan dibuang. Tongkat itu patut disimpan dahulu kerana mungkin tiba masanya kita memerlukan tongkat itu…semula...jadi janganlah dibuang.

Dalam zaman pesaraannya Dr Mahathir kini kembali memakai baju Ultra Melayu, baju yang beliau pernah pakai sebelum mendapat kuasa dahulu. Didalam ucapannya beru-baru ini beliau telah mengingatkan bangsa lain supaya tidak lagi mengingati negara dari mana datuk nenek mereka datang. Ucapan beliau ini membayangkan yang beliau begitu was-was dengan generasi baru ini jika masih mengingati dan menganggap mereka masih menganggap negara dari mana datuk nenek mereka datang dahulu sebagai tempat untuk menempatkan kesetiaan mereka.

Dr Mahathir tidak sepatutnya menyebut isu sensitif seperti itu kerana kita hendak mengelakkan dari generasi muda kaum Cina terutamanya untuk membalas dengan mengingati Dr Mahathir sendiri dengan negara dari mana datuk nenek beliau datang dahulu. Kita tidak mahu memanjangkan isu yang boleh memecahkan keharmonian rakyat negara ini.

Sebenarnya Dr Mahathir seorang yang amat bijak tetapi kebijaksanaan beliau itu tidak dapat dimunafaatkan oleh rakyat yang inginkan perpaduan dan kehidupan muhibbah dalam negara kosmopolitan ini.

13 Tahun Dianiaya oleh Sistem Politik Malaysia

By Ismail bin Ariffin @ Lepat, in Malaysia. He is the father of Sunni Sazali whose son was taken out of Malaysia illegally by his estranged British wife, Aishah Jane Brummit.

When Rulers were bastards and gay

With all this going on how could they allow the people to talk? And with 1,000 servants and courtiers hanging around the palace how does one prevent people from talking? So they had this thing called sedition laws so that anyone who talked could be punished.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The PKR Sri Muda state assemblyman, Shuhaimi Shafiei, is to be charged for sedition this Monday. At least 20 police reports have been lodged against Shuhaimi because of his blog posting while Perkasa and the pro-Umno people have demanded that he be hanged for inciting war on the Malay rulers.

To understand Malaysia’s Sedition Act you have to go back 1,000 years to the days when they did not want the people to whisper or talk bad about the Rulers. And to do this you have to read a bit of English history. Malaysia’s judicial system and laws are, after all, moulded after the British system and British laws.

Malaysia’s history books start from 1946, the year that Umno was born. Before that Malaysia had no history, or at least a distorted version of history -- like Malay warriors born in China being sent to Malaya’s shores as bodyguards for a Chinese princess who married a Malay Sultan and allegedly defended Malay rights by saying that Malays would never disappear from the face of the earth (a debate currently raging in Malaysia’s blogosphere).

Anyway, English history starts from 1066, and not 1946, at least when I read English history in the Alice Smith School in standard one. Before 1066 it does not count because Britain did not officially exist yet. What existed were Argyle and the Highlands where the Scottish barbarians lived, and Sussex where the West Saxons lived, and Northumbria and Cumbria and York and Carlisle and so on, where the Norsemen or Vikings lived.

Britain, at best, was a collection of many barbarian tribes and not yet a nation as such. It was not until 1066 that Britain became a nation and the many regions became united under one King. 1066, therefore, was significant to English history in that England finally saw order -- or more like organised chaos if you can regard rape, pillaging and plundering as order.

1066 was the year that William sailed to England with his great army. Contrary to what many believe, William, who conquered England and became known as William the Conqueror, was not even a King. He was the Duke of Normandy, a region that was a vassal of the King of France. And before he became known as William the Conqueror in 1066, he was known as William the Bastard.

Yes, that’s right, William was a bastard son of the Duke of Normandy. But how can they allow the Saxons he displaced from the throne in London (Lundene on the Temes river) spread the rumour that he is not of royal blood but of low birth -- and a bastard on top of that. So they passed a law that made it a crime to speak bad about the King -- and William the Bastard became William the Conqueror from thereon and no one dared correct this historical fact lest they get charged for sedition and lose their head in the process.

All through English history many bastard children succeeded the throne of England. There was also the added problem of many of the Kings and Princesses being gay, or at least bisexual. In fact, one King of England was even having a gay relationship with the King of France (any wonder they were expert sword fighters?). And though the Kings never visited their Queen’s bedchamber (they never slept in the same room and always slept in separate rooms) since their honeymoon, the Queen still managed to get pregnant and it was suspected that it was the Queen’s young, handsome advisers who were the real fathers of those children.

We must understand that marriage in those days was not for sex or out of love. It was to seal political alliances. If you married the sister or daughter of the King of another country then that country would not attack your country because you were now related -- either brother-in-law or son-in-law. So, after marrying your Queen, you locked her away and spent your time chasing other women -- or other men as the case may be.

The most notable 'bastard' Ruler of England was probably Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII from his second wife, Anne Boleyn. The church did not recognise Elizabeth because divorce was not allowed so Henry broke away from the church and formed his own church to legitimise his divorce from the Queen and his marriage to Anne (but Rome still regarded her as a bastard).

Because of this they wanted Mary, Henry’s granddaughter, to inherit the throne. But since she was Catholic (and French), and Catholics were put to death if they confessed to being Catholics, Elizabeth got the throne instead. Mary was later executed for her crime against God -- for being a Catholic. Mary was of course known as Mary Queen of Scots but it was the Scots who betrayed her and handed her to Elizabeth to be jailed for many years before she was executed. (The Scots have been betraying their Rulers since time immemorial).

Against this backdrop (and much more I have not mentioned) how can they allow people to talk? Kings, Queens and members of the Royal Family were bonking away and breeding like rabbits outside of marriage. Many preferred sex partners of their own gender or many partners at the same time in orgies where the gender of the sex partners were of little concern as long as they were bonkable.

To solve the succession problem, rightful heirs to the throne mysteriously died in their sleep so that those not eligible to succeed the throne could then take the throne. Courtiers got ahead and received titles, position and land at the pleasure of the King. And the King’s pleasure would be guaranteed if your wife got sent to the King’s bedchamber for the night where she would whisper in the King’s ear in between bonking sessions: what happened to my husband’s request…etc, etc.

With all this going on how could they allow the people to talk? And with 1,000 servants and courtiers hanging around the palace how does one prevent people from talking? So they had this thing called sedition laws so that anyone who talked could be punished.

And on 1st January 2010, Britain abolished the Sedition Act -- not because people no longer talked about their Monarchy or that the Monarchs of today are better behaved, but because with the Internet you can no longer catch those who talk anyway.

But Malaysia still has the Sedition Act, an old British law, and those who talk about the Monarchs (or even about the Deputy Prime Minister’s wife) will still be punished -- like they did in England 1,000 years go. And, this Monday, PKR Sri Muda state assemblyman, Shuhaimi Shafiei, is to be charged for sedition for allegedly insulting the Sultan of Selangor.

How we have progressed since the days of William the Bastard a.k.a. William the Conqueror of 1066.

From little acorns grow mighty oaks

A little over two weeks ago, on 18th January, I had dinner in KL with the leaders of the Sarawak National Party (SNAP).
From left : Patrick Saging, Anthony Liman, Stanley Jugol, Dayrell Entrie
I shared with them MCLM’s ongoing efforts in drawing up and crafting the Rakyat Reform Agenda and proposed that SNAP could get involved in the same so that the Reform Agenda could comprehensively take on board the needs of the marginalised communities in Sarawak.

  I also briefed them on MCLM’s impending Citizen Empowerment School and offered to make available to them our training modules to be carried out in Sarawak for their members.
I have also offered to make available MCLM’s candidate evaluation process to help SNAP in their candidate selection process.
The response was positive.
So positive that it culminated in an invitation for me to speak at their symposium in Kuching on 29th January, 2011 which I gladly accepted.
Whilst the symposium was themed ‘The Time Has Come : Unity For A Better Sarawak’, I urged a ‘Unity For a Better Malaysia’.
I urged a better understanding that since the 70′s, politicians from both Semenanjung and Sabah and Sarawak have colluded to enrich themselves leaving so many marginalised, both in East and West Malaysia.
They did this by dividing us and then ruling over us.
If we, the rakyat, are to take this country back from these self-serving politicians, we have to stop dividing ourselves into Sabahans, Sarawakians and Semenanjungites.
I proposed that SNAP needs to think beyond the forthcoming state elections and look to form the necessary collaborations with other like-minded parties to take federal power in the next general election if it is to have chance to bring about real change for the people of Sarawak.
SNAP, I suggested must forge a real working partnership with like-minded parties in Sabah and semenanjung and play a leading role in determining who gets to form the government at Putrajaya post the 13th GE.
Finally, I proposed that SNAP and MCLM work towards forging an alliance, MCLM making available its every resource to help SNAP in the forthcoming state elections and, later, to work together in the 13th GE.
Later that same night, after the SNAP Unity Dinner, I adjourned with several of the SNAP leaders for further discussions that were most productive and left me with the sense that something good will definitely come out of this trip to Sarawak.
Next day, I flew out to Kota Kinabalu for dinner with Jeffrey Kitingan and his team from United Borneo Front.
I took this opportunity to communicate MCLM’s commitment towards working for the honouring of the 18-point and 20-point agreement.
Let me just say that the dinner discussion was as fruitful as my discussions the night before in Kuching.
At the end of dinner I proposed a UBF-SNAP-MCLM alliance. This suggestion was well-received.
I am trying to arrange for a meeting in KL soon with both the SNAP and UBF leadership and if all goes well, we just might see that UBF-SNAP-MCLM alliance become a reality.

PR, BN caught in uncertain Sabah, Sarawak politics

By Joe Fernandez

Kita president Zaid Ibrahim’s take, publicly and privately, in the wake of the official launching of his party on January 19 further confirms what is being seen as indicating some serious confusion of sorts within the inner circle of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Patently, this follows on-going political developments in Sabah and Sarawak.

What has long been suspected is now an open secret. The opposition alliance may be hard-pressed to pursue the agenda for change and reform, long pledged by de facto PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim. If not, the thinking goes, Kita would not have come forward to “pursue the agenda for change and reform”.

Still, Pakatan Rakyat (PR), the opposition alliance, is expected to swear by the slogan of reformasi (reformation) in the run-up to the next General Election and beyond. Without the change and reform agenda to “woo” the masses, especially in Peninsular Malaysia, it would be an uphill, if not losing, battle for PR all the way.

Anwar’s credentials as a reformist have also come under public scrutiny, closer than ever, with the sudden emergence of the Third Force, nameless and faceless, in Sabah and Sarawak. The Third Force is all for a Borneo-based national coalition to remain equidistant between the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and PR, the latter two both peninsula-based. While the Third Force sounds like sweet music to BN, more because it appears to take down the opposition alliance more than a peg or two, the idea has reportedly been enough to frighten PR out of their “conspiratorial” – for want of a better term — wits.

Obviously, the Third Force is the kind of language that Anwar in particular doesn’t like to hear. He had long pledged support for the idea of autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak, as per the 1963 Malaysia Agreement. But his deeds, in the way that he micro-managed the affairs of the Sabah and Sarawak chapters of PKR on the ground, proved his undoing. Sabah strongman Jeffrey Kitingan left PKR in recent weeks. He claims that he has “finally seen through Anwar’s bluff” in Malaysian Borneo. Jeffrey had even been advised by senior PKR leaders, across both sides of the South China Sea, not to allow Anwar to hold his politics to ransom. But to no avail.

Now, the Sarawak National Party (Snap) which has been cozying up to Jeffrey in recent weeks, has put PR on public notice that it will contest all 29 Dayak state seats in the forthcoming state election. Also telling is the fact that former Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) president Daniel Tajem Anak Miri has officially become Snap Advisor. Snap is a member of PR. He was previously Sarawak PKR Advisor.

Snap’s “unilateral” decision on the 29 Dayak state seats reportedly followed the “gradual realization” that both Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and elements of Sabah BN are willing to play ball with Anwar. The de facto PKR chief, highly reliable sources swear, is now caught between the devil and the deep blue sea since both Sabah BN and PBB apparently want his “help” to stay in the saddle.

In return, the purported “deal” may be that should PR win a simple majority in Peninsular Malaysia, both Sabah BN legislators and PBB would abandon the BN and support Anwar to seize the reins of control in Putrajaya.

Both Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his maternal uncle and predecessor Abdul Rahman Yakub, who have PBB and Sarawak in a vice-like grip, have privately and publicly made it clear that they are not at all interested in the politics of Peninsular Malaysia. Just as they have been the local proxies to Umno for over four decades, they are willing to offer the same services to PR in return for being allowed to stay in power.

In Sabah, Anwar is confident that his “boys” in Sabah BN still remain secretly loyal to him. He has no wish either to see them cast to the political wilderness as long as they come around to him when needed. Again, the tipping point will come when PR gains a simple majority in Peninsular Malaysia. All this has the shades of Sept 16, 2008 which Anwar had trumpeted for months as the day that PR would seize, on the back of crossovers, the reins of power in Putrajaya. Anwar is a crossover specialist of sorts considering the manner in which the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) state government fell in early 1994 hardly a month after a wafer-thin majority for an unprecedented fourth term in office.

The suspected sudden warming of ties between Anwar, on the one hand, and both Sabah BN legislators and PBB on the other hand, could not have come at a better or worse time depending on who is talking.

The de facto PKR chief stands accused of doing everything possible to antagonize and marginalize the Dusuns – the Kadazans (urban Dusuns) and Muruts included — who form eight per cent of the PKR membership. The accusation is that he has “gone back on his word” as per the Sabah peace plan of late 2009 to allow the local chapters in Sabah and Sarawak to elect their own state chiefs. Instead, in a bizarre breach of protocol last month, and again, he has appointed an unknown vice chief in Tuaran Division as the new Sabah state chief. The great majority of the 26 division chiefs in Sabah and Labuan are furious and there’s no telling how they will react in the days ahead to this calculated insult. Already, 18 division chiefs have told PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh that they want party president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to take over as state chief until the General Elections.

In hindsight, Anwar is expected to come under some suspicion that he had never been serious all along about allowing PKR in Sabah and Sarawak to take on PBB and Sabah BN.

Indeed, the Dusuns and Dayaks being at the bottom of the political dung heap as per the politics of PBB and Sabah BN “will not upset the ketuanan Melayu – Malay dominance and supremacy — political applecart Putrajaya”.

Already, there may be moves to “oust” Alfred Jabu, tipped to be interim Chief Minister after Taib. It’s in this light that the departure of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) deputy information chief Tedewin Ngumbang Datu, from his “comfort zone”, is being read. Tedewin is being tipped to take on Jabu in his Layar state seat and perhaps even the Betong parliamentary constituency. PBB’s hand is being seen in these expected moves.

Anwar, meanwhile, is evidently still interested in wooing significant portions of the Umno membership through his PKR. For this, he has to rethink his already tottering political alliance with the Dusuns and Dayaks in Sabah and Sarawak, stay silent – as during Batu Sapi — on the illegal immigrants on the Sabah electoral rolls, allow Dap to hold on to Penang in the manner of the Lee Dynasty in Singapore, and allow Pas to trumpet its “Islamic state” at least in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.

What will become of the “rump” BN and Umno under this emerging Anwar game plan is anybody’s guess. Some will describe Anwar as the politics of reality while others, “not so gullible”, will swear that he’s being delusional to the point of harbouring notions of grandeur. The jury is still out on the question. It’s difficult to say that the truth is somewhere in between but probably more towards Anwar being in a permanent state of delusion.

Jeffrey’s Kitingan’s United Borneo Front (UniBorF), along with Snap, has in any case no plans to allow Anwar to do as he likes in Sabah and Sarawak. Between them, they are determined to give him a run for his money. Jeffrey’s betting is that “PKR will implode in Sabah and Sarawak long before the Sarawak state elections” which are expected to be held by July at the very latest. Already, there’s considerable unease in Sarawak PKR that former PBDS deputy president Sng Chee Hwa is taking too much interest in the affairs of the party and has the ready ear of Anwar on its affairs. The elder Sng is also a known crony of Taib along with construction magnate Ting Pek Khiing whose son married the former’s (Sng’s) son, Larry Sng, a partyless assistant minister.

Jeffrey also wants to make nonsense of the BN theory that Sabah and Sarawak are their electoral fixed deposit states.

UniBorF is expected to have a political wing in place in time for the next General Election, if not the Sarawak state election. UniBorF’s Borneo Agenda goes beyond the agenda for change and reform now being flogged by Kita. UniBorF is all about Sabah and Sarawak rights as pledged under the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.

UniBorF has powerful Third Force allies in Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, the Orang Asli, the Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and those who are neither for BN or PR in Peninsular Malaysia. The last include Zaid Ibrahim’s Kita which will secure a strong foothold in Peninsular Malaysia through the agenda for change and reform. Hindraf will have to choose again between Zaid and Jeffrey to field their candidates in 15 parliamentary seats and 38 state seats in Peninsular Malaysia. Earlier, they had pledged to stand under Jeffrey’s banner.

Zaid has plans to help forge a Barisan Kita, a coalition of the Third Force, but such an undertaking will only succeed if it’s not Peninsular Malaysian-led. BN and PR, it must be remembered, are both Peninsular Malaysian-led. Malaysian Borneo needs to have its own national coalition to challenge the BN and PR for political supremacy and dominance in the national theatre. This is an idea whose time has come.

The Middle East, Revolution and the Internet A snap online press conference featuring world experts analyzing recent developments in the region

Convening an international panel of government officials, academic researchers and frontline activists, Access will host a live-streamed web symposium that confronts the very real threats and opportunities for political freedom that exist in a digital world. Panelists will provide in-depth analysis from a multitude of perspectives and experiences, as well as field questions from a worldwide audience in real time.

Host: Access (, building a global movement for digital freedom.

Date and Time: Thursday, February 3rd, 12:00pm EST

Location: Streamed live at

• Frank La Rue: United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
• Marietje Schaake: Dutch Member of the European Parliament
• Jillian York: Berkman Center (Harvard)
• Tarek Amr: Egyptian Digital Activist (Global Voices)
• Walid Al-Saqaf: Yemeni software developer and journalist
• Al Jazeera Transparency Unit (Invited)
• Brett Solomon: Access (Moderator)
• Additional participants to be announced

Tech-utopians and tech-doomsayers continue their debate over the impact of the internet on politics and democracy. Meanwhile mass demonstrations have spread across the Middle East, causing the downfall of one government and putting others on high alert. In each case we know technology has played a vital role in mobilizing protestors and transmitting information in real time around the globe. The existential threat it plays to a regime has been demonstrated by Egypt’s internet shutdown. “Egypt, the Revolution and the Internet” brings together experts in the field to discuss and debate the issues in real time.

Access’s web symposium will examine the impact of new (social) media and the internet on political freedom. On the one hand we can expect grassroots activists to make use of technology to facilitate their activities. On the other hand the new era provides opportunities for dictators and regimes to survey and monitor like never before. With voices from academia to the front line, Access will explore how activists use the net, the challenges for state actors and the likely winners and losers in the digital cat and mouse game.

Engaged citizens, journalists and activists from around the world will have the opportunity submit questions to be answered during the open forum segment of the symposium. If you would like to submit a question prior to the start of the event, please write to:

Please join us for this in-depth and dynamic discussion.

Date and Time: Thursday, February 3rd, 12:00pm EST
Location: Streamed live at

For more information contact or call Blair on 202 503 6141

Note to Editors: Access ( is a non-profit organization premised on the belief that the realization of human rights and democracy in the twenty-first century is increasingly predicated on access to the internet and other forms of information communication technology.