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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Waytha's meeting with US officials in WikiLeaks


Details of Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy's meeting with American officials from the London embassy has been leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks today.

The information, contained in a cable from the United States embassy in London to the US State Department in Washington DC, was released by WikiLeaks through the British newspaper, The Telegraph.

According to the secret cable, Waythamoorthy did not intend to seek political asylum in the US, but was seeking “temporary” asylum in the UK.

NONE“(Waytha) Moorthy also requested financial assistance for his human rights work, which, he claims, focuses on minority rights for the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia,” said the cable.

“He said that his work is especially important today, as Malaysia increasingly relies on Islamic shariah law either alongside or in place of Malaysian common law, and that Hindraf is the only Malaysian group working to combat such changes to the legal system.”

The cable summarised what took place at a June 25, 2008 meeting between Waythamoorthy, who was in self-imposed exile in London, and political officers from the US embassy.

He had stressed that he did not want permanent asylum as he wanted to return to Malaysia.

“He said that he hopes to return to Malaysia as soon as possible, as his family and law practice remain there, but will only return after the other imprisoned Hindraf leaders have been released,” said the cable.

The final three of five Hindraf leaders who were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act, including elder brother Uthayakumar, were freed two years ago.

According to the cable, he requested financial support to enable him to continue advocating Malaysian minority rights while abroad.

He also planned to set up a mission “to monitor and document human rights violations in Malaysia and to train her citizens in the investigation of human rights abuses”.

At the meeting, Waythamoorthy complained that his Malaysian passport was revoked by Kuala Lumpur, preventing him from travelling to the US.

“Moorthy believes that the Malaysian government revoked his passport to prevent him from furthering his and Hindraf's cause, and so that he would eventually be deported back to Malaysia.

“He asked whether the US would issue a travel document so that he may travel to the US (or Canada) to pursue his advocacy work on a temporary basis.”

US not in a position to offer help

He also claimed that London was slow in processing his asylum application so as not to upset the Malaysian government.

Wathamoorthy took pains to clarify Hindraf's position when the American officials told him that the US government did not support “politically-partisan organisations”.

“He ... explained that although Hindraf remains a predominantly Hindu advocacy group, it focuses on the expansion of democratic rights for all Malaysians, and is particularly involved in the advocacy of freedom of religion, educational equality, and equal rights for minorities.”

“Poloffs (political officers) explained that they were not in a position to offer assistance, determine whether Hindraf was a partisan organisation, or provide a travel document, but pledged to convey Moorthy's account of his status and the purpose of Hindraf to Washington and American embassy, Kuala Lumpur.”

The political officers who met Waythamoorthy also expressed doubt about his accusation that the UK was dragging its foot over his asylum application.

“It is too early to determine the accuracy of Moorthy's suspicion that HMG (Her Majesty's Government) is stonewalling his political asylum application.

“The (UK) Home Office (which determines matters of political asylum) moves very slowly as a general rule. Consequently, what Moorthy might view as a 'decision not to decide' may simply be bureaucratic inertia.”

WKILEAKS: MALAYSIA'S HINDRAF LEADER SEEKS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN BRITAIN

Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks

Ref ID: 08LONDON1746

Date: 7/1/2008 13:17

Origin: Embassy London

Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN

Destination: 08STATE65565

Header: VZCZCXYZ0001RR RUEHWEBDE RUEHLO #1746/01 1831317ZNY CCCCC ZZHR 011317Z JUL 08FM AMEMBASSY LONDONTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9065INFO RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0182RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0783

Tags: PREL,PHUM,MY,UK

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001746 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/26/2018 TAGS: PREL, PHUM, MY, UK SUBJECT: MALAYSIA'S HINDRAF LEADER SEEKS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN BRITAIN REF: STATE 65565 Classified By: POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR MAURA CONNELLY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D)

1.(C/NF) Summary: Waytha Moorthy, director of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), told us on June 25 that he is NOT seeking asylum in the U.S., but is seeking asylum in the UK. He said that his application process is currently stalled, however, and he speculated that HMG may not grant him asylum so as not to upset the Malaysian government. He also expressed concerns that the Malaysian government rescinded his passport in order that he be deported back to Malaysia, where he fears arrest. Moorthy asked whether the USG could issue him travel documents to allow him to carry out his human rights work in the U.S. Moorthy also requested financial assistance for his human rights work, which, he claims, focuses on minority rights for the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia. He said that his work is especially important today, as Malaysia increasingly relies on Islamic Sharia law either alongside or in place of Malaysian common law, and that HINDRAF is the only Malaysian group working to combat such changes to the legal system. End Summary.

2.(C/NF) Per Department's request, poloff contacted Waytha Moorthy June 20 to deliver reftel points. In response, Moorthy said:

-- HINDRAF as an organization has always been misunderstood. It is not an Indian political institution, but a organization concerned with the protection of minority rights, as provided for by the UN Convention on Minority Rights. Malaysia itself does not understand the concept of minority rights;

-- He has not made a request for political asylum in the U.S.; and

-- He had wanted to meet with a U.S. Embassy (Political Affairs) representative at Embassy Kuala Lumpur. June 25 meeting with Moorthy ----------------------------

3.(C/NF) In a subsequent meeting June 25 with poloffs, Moorthy sought to clarify his asylum status and describe his work. He reaffirmed that he has not sought political asylum in the U.S. and is instead currently seeking asylum in the UK.

4.(C/NF) Moorthy said that he fled Malaysia after being arrested and then released by Malaysian government authorities in November 2007, and is fearful that he will be re-imprisoned if he returns. He traveled to India, Europe, and the United States, before settling in London, where he currently resides. During his travels, Moorthy met with a number of NGOs and government officials, including Congressional staff in the U.S. in April. He had planned to go back to the U.S. in May, but the Malaysian government revoked his passport, preventing him from traveling. Moorthy subsequently applied for political asylum in the U.K., where his claim is currently being processed. He said that, at one point his application was fast-tracked, but that no actions have since been taken; he suspects that HMG has decided to take no action or move slowly. Moorthy speculates that HMG does not wish to aggravate the Malaysian government by granting him asylum, citing the high volume of trade (including a pending arms sale) between the two countries.

5.(C/NF) Moorthy believes that the Malaysian government revoked his passport to prevent him from furthering his and HINDRAF,s cause, and so that he would eventually be deported back to Malaysia. He explained that several other HINDRAFF leaders were arrested in December 2007 and are still being held without trial.

6.(C/NF) Poloff reiterated the reftel point that the USG does not support politically-partisan organizations. According to Moorthy, however, HINDRAF is a nonpartisan organization that advocates for minority rights in Malaysia. He founded the organization in response to what he saw as an increasingly influential Islamic presence in Malaysia,s government, and as an attempt to counterbalance the rise of Sharia law, which he claims is now often being used alongside or in place of traditional Malaysian constitutional law. He is particularly concerned with a 1988 law ) Article 121(1)(a) ) that established governmentally-sanctioned Sharia courts. Moorthy said that HINDRAF is the first organization to come out strongly against these changes to Malaysian law. He further explained that, although HINDRAF remains a predominantly Hindu advocacy group, it focuses on the expansion of democratic rights for all Malaysians, and is particularly involved in the advocacy of freedom of religion, educational equality, and equal rights for minorities. While HINDRAF has sought to coordinate its efforts with other minority groups, it has had little success in such efforts. It has, however, managed to make it presence known and stage large protests against the government; Moorthy claims that a November 25, 2007 HINDRAF-organized protest in Kuala Lumpur attracted nearly 100,000 people. What Moorthy Wants ------------------

7.(C/NF) Moorthy is concerned that his application for asylum status in the U.K. has been put on hold leaving him without documentation to travel. He asked whether the U.S. would issue a travel document so that he may travel to the U.S. (or Canada) to pursue his advocacy work on a temporary basis. Poloffs explained that they were unaware of the existence of such a travel document, and that they were doubtful that Moorthy could be accommodated. Moorthy then said that he does NOT want permanent asylum, either in the U.K. or U.S. He said that he hopes to return to Malaysia as soon as possible, as his family and law practice remain there, but will only return after the other imprisoned HINDRAF leaders have been released.

8.(C/NF) Moorthy also requested financial support and training for his organization. He desires funds so that he can continue advocating for Malaysian minority rights while he is abroad, and for the establishment of a mission both to monitor and document human rights violations in Malaysia and to train Malaysian citizens in the investigation of human rights abuses.

9.(C/NF) Poloff asked, and Moorthy confirmed, that he is not seeking status as a refugee. He was aware of the UNHCR-led process to gain refugee status. He also understood that a travel document could be issued if he acquired refugee status.

10.(C/NF) Poloffs explained that they were not in a position to offer assistance, determine whether HINDRAF was a partisan organization, or provide a travel document, but pledged to convey Moorthy's account of his status and the purpose of HINDRAF to Washington and American Embassy Kuala Lumpur.

11.(C/NF) As instructed in reftel, Poloff informed HMG (the FCO) that she had made contact with Moorthy.

12.(C/NF) COMMENT: It is too early to determine the accuracy of Moorthy's suspicion that HMG is stonewalling his political asylum application. The Home Office (which determines matters of political asylum) moves very slowly as a general rule. Consequently, what Moorthy might view as a "decision not to decide" may simply be bureaucratic inertia. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE

MALAYSIA'S HINDRAF LEADER SEEKS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN BRITAIN

Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks

Ref ID: 08LONDON1746

Date: 7/1/2008 13:17

Origin: Embassy London

Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN

Destination: 08STATE65565

Header: VZCZCXYZ0001RR RUEHWEBDE RUEHLO #1746/01 1831317ZNY CCCCC ZZHR 011317Z JUL 08FM AMEMBASSY LONDONTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9065INFO RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0182RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0783

Tags: PREL,PHUM,MY,UK

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001746 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/26/2018 TAGS: PREL, PHUM, MY, UK SUBJECT: MALAYSIA'S HINDRAF LEADER SEEKS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN BRITAIN REF: STATE 65565 Classified By: POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR MAURA CONNELLY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D)

1.(C/NF) Summary: Waytha Moorthy, director of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), told us on June 25 that he is NOT seeking asylum in the U.S., but is seeking asylum in the UK. He said that his application process is currently stalled, however, and he speculated that HMG may not grant him asylum so as not to upset the Malaysian government. He also expressed concerns that the Malaysian government rescinded his passport in order that he be deported back to Malaysia, where he fears arrest. Moorthy asked whether the USG could issue him travel documents to allow him to carry out his human rights work in the U.S. Moorthy also requested financial assistance for his human rights work, which, he claims, focuses on minority rights for the non-Muslim communities in Malaysia. He said that his work is especially important today, as Malaysia increasingly relies on Islamic Sharia law either alongside or in place of Malaysian common law, and that HINDRAF is the only Malaysian group working to combat such changes to the legal system. End Summary.

2.(C/NF) Per Department's request, poloff contacted Waytha Moorthy June 20 to deliver reftel points. In response, Moorthy said:

-- HINDRAF as an organization has always been misunderstood. It is not an Indian political institution, but a organization concerned with the protection of minority rights, as provided for by the UN Convention on Minority Rights. Malaysia itself does not understand the concept of minority rights;

-- He has not made a request for political asylum in the U.S.; and

-- He had wanted to meet with a U.S. Embassy (Political Affairs) representative at Embassy Kuala Lumpur. June 25 meeting with Moorthy ----------------------------

3.(C/NF) In a subsequent meeting June 25 with poloffs, Moorthy sought to clarify his asylum status and describe his work. He reaffirmed that he has not sought political asylum in the U.S. and is instead currently seeking asylum in the UK.

4.(C/NF) Moorthy said that he fled Malaysia after being arrested and then released by Malaysian government authorities in November 2007, and is fearful that he will be re-imprisoned if he returns. He traveled to India, Europe, and the United States, before settling in London, where he currently resides. During his travels, Moorthy met with a number of NGOs and government officials, including Congressional staff in the U.S. in April. He had planned to go back to the U.S. in May, but the Malaysian government revoked his passport, preventing him from traveling. Moorthy subsequently applied for political asylum in the U.K., where his claim is currently being processed. He said that, at one point his application was fast-tracked, but that no actions have since been taken; he suspects that HMG has decided to take no action or move slowly. Moorthy speculates that HMG does not wish to aggravate the Malaysian government by granting him asylum, citing the high volume of trade (including a pending arms sale) between the two countries.

5.(C/NF) Moorthy believes that the Malaysian government revoked his passport to prevent him from furthering his and HINDRAF,s cause, and so that he would eventually be deported back to Malaysia. He explained that several other HINDRAFF leaders were arrested in December 2007 and are still being held without trial.

6.(C/NF) Poloff reiterated the reftel point that the USG does not support politically-partisan organizations. According to Moorthy, however, HINDRAF is a nonpartisan organization that advocates for minority rights in Malaysia. He founded the organization in response to what he saw as an increasingly influential Islamic presence in Malaysia,s government, and as an attempt to counterbalance the rise of Sharia law, which he claims is now often being used alongside or in place of traditional Malaysian constitutional law. He is particularly concerned with a 1988 law ) Article 121(1)(a) ) that established governmentally-sanctioned Sharia courts. Moorthy said that HINDRAF is the first organization to come out strongly against these changes to Malaysian law. He further explained that, although HINDRAF remains a predominantly Hindu advocacy group, it focuses on the expansion of democratic rights for all Malaysians, and is particularly involved in the advocacy of freedom of religion, educational equality, and equal rights for minorities. While HINDRAF has sought to coordinate its efforts with other minority groups, it has had little success in such efforts. It has, however, managed to make it presence known and stage large protests against the government; Moorthy claims that a November 25, 2007 HINDRAF-organized protest in Kuala Lumpur attracted nearly 100,000 people. What Moorthy Wants ------------------

7.(C/NF) Moorthy is concerned that his application for asylum status in the U.K. has been put on hold leaving him without documentation to travel. He asked whether the U.S. would issue a travel document so that he may travel to the U.S. (or Canada) to pursue his advocacy work on a temporary basis. Poloffs explained that they were unaware of the existence of such a travel document, and that they were doubtful that Moorthy could be accommodated. Moorthy then said that he does NOT want permanent asylum, either in the U.K. or U.S. He said that he hopes to return to Malaysia as soon as possible, as his family and law practice remain there, but will only return after the other imprisoned HINDRAF leaders have been released.

8.(C/NF) Moorthy also requested financial support and training for his organization. He desires funds so that he can continue advocating for Malaysian minority rights while he is abroad, and for the establishment of a mission both to monitor and document human rights violations in Malaysia and to train Malaysian citizens in the investigation of human rights abuses.

9.(C/NF) Poloff asked, and Moorthy confirmed, that he is not seeking status as a refugee. He was aware of the UNHCR-led process to gain refugee status. He also understood that a travel document could be issued if he acquired refugee status.

10.(C/NF) Poloffs explained that they were not in a position to offer assistance, determine whether HINDRAF was a partisan organization, or provide a travel document, but pledged to convey Moorthy's account of his status and the purpose of HINDRAF to Washington and American Embassy Kuala Lumpur.

11.(C/NF) As instructed in reftel, Poloff informed HMG (the FCO) that she had made contact with Moorthy.

12.(C/NF) COMMENT: It is too early to determine the accuracy of Moorthy's suspicion that HMG is stonewalling his political asylum application. The Home Office (which determines matters of political asylum) moves very slowly as a general rule. Consequently, what Moorthy might view as a "decision not to decide" may simply be bureaucratic inertia. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE

Tens of thousands demand change in Cairo's Tahrir Square


Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Egypt's burgeoning reform movement drew tens of thousands of people, undeterred by deadly clashes and government crackdowns, to Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday for a mass rally with a single message for the president: "Leave."

The central Cairo plaza transformed from a bloody battleground to the scene of a largely peaceful political rally dubbed "Day of Departure" as Egyptians gave embattled President Hosni Mubarak until the end of the day to relinquish power.

Protesters did not get their wish and thousands remained in the square well into the night, defying a curfew that has been widely ignored. Heavy gunfire was heard in and around Tahrir Square.

Among the demonstrators were the secretary-general of the Arab League and the spokesman for the largest center of Sunni Muslim learning, two men representing pillars of authority.

Attempts to defuse the crisis, meanwhile, were halting but ongoing. Government brass had signaled a wish to meet with opposition leaders but those talks have not yet gained traction, a senior U.S. official told CNN Friday.

Vice President Omar Suleiman's offer to meet opposition groups fell flat, said the official, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the rapidly evolving situation. No key opposition leaders showed up.

That opposition, a disparate group of at least six factions and political groups nominally headed by Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, is still "jockeying," the official said, hedging their bets on how events will play out. Some have refused to negotiate until Mubarak steps down.

"The so-called dialogue is the first step to exhaust this revolution. The president must go," said Mohammed Habib, deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition Islamist group officially banned by the government.

Some opposition parties that had previously refused to meet with government officials, however, told CNN Friday they have agreed to meet with Suleiman on Saturday.

Refat Said, head of the left-leaning Tagammuparty, said his group will meet with the vice president, as will the liberal Wafd party. Ayman Nour, head of the al-Ghad party, said members of his group will decide soon on whether they will accept the government's invitation to meet.

"Based on promises that the government gave us that they will investigate into the Tahrir Square clashes, we agreed to meet tomorrow," said Fouad Badrawi, secretary-general of the Wafd party.

And 19 men, including veteran diplomat Amre Moussa, have formed a so-called "Committee of the Wise" in a bid to calm the crisis. The group of independents, which wants to be at the table during crucial government talks, has called for Mubarak to remain as a symbolic leader and to delegate to Suleiman responsibility for the transition period.

Day 11 of the uprising was mostly jubilant in Cairo's downtown square, but tensions remained high.

In another plaza just half a kilometer away from Tahrir Square, supporters and foes of Mubarak fought running street battles. Youths wielding sticks and rocks engaged in fights and the sound of gunfire rang out.

The Muslim Brotherhood reported that a security force accompanied by a "gang of thugs" stormed the office of its news website Friday and arrested the journalists, technicians and administrators. The satellite news network Al-Jazeera reported a similar attack on its Cairo office.

Those attacks came after two days of violence and a government crackdown on journalists and human rights activists bearing witness to the crisis. Some had predicted the demonstrations might lose their momentum.

That was hardly the case as anti-government protesters jammed TahrirSquare chanting slogans like "He leaves, we don't leave" and "The blood of the martyrs will not be forgotten." A massive banner in the middle of the square said in English: "The people demand the removal of the regime."

The demonstrators built a barbed-wire barricade and stacked piles of rocks throughout the square, surrounded Friday by soldiers in riot gear and tanks.

Volunteers checked identification cards of people entering the square and searched them for weapons. Others stood by with emergency medical kits.

Large screens showed coverage of the demonstrations on state television and Al-Jazeera as people played music, sang patriotic songs and danced. A man with an Egyptian flag wrapped around his head sat on a curb, flashing a victory sign.

It was a remarkable change from the scenes that unfolded in the square Wednesday and Thursday when pro- and anti-Mubarak supporters clashed repeatedly, leaving at least 11 people dead and more than 900 others injured.

The Health Ministry reported that at least 5,000 people have been injured since the demonstrations began in Egypt early last week.

Many believe the violent clashes were orchestrated by the embattled regime and on Friday, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a "transparent and impartial" probe.

But defenders of Mubarak were notably absent from the square Friday. Instead, they staged a "Day of Loyalty" rally at a nearby mosque.

Mubarak has said he will not seek another term in the September election, but now faces increasing pressure from the United States and other world powers to step aside much sooner.

U.S. President Barack Obama skirted the question of whether Mubarak should resign immediately Friday, saying instead that the "key question" the Egyptian president should be asking himself is "how do I leave a legacy behind" that helps Egypt get through the current transition.

"There needs to be a transition process that begins now. That transition must initiate a process that respects the universal rights of the Egyptian people and that leads to free and fair elections," Obama said.

Later, a senior U.S. official said that Obama's remarks reflected the fact that the United States recognizes that certain legitimate legislative hurdles must be taken care of before Mubarak steps down. While pressing for Mubarak to act quickly, the U.S. official said the White House recognizes the process will take some time.

The Obama administration is hopeful negotiations will begin Saturday between members of Mubarak's government and various opposition representatives, the senior U.S. official said.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told the Al-Arabiya network that it would take until September to work out constitutional issues so that a new government could come to power.

At this juncture, said Shafiq, compromises were key as the country pursues dialogue with opposition groups.

Opposition leader ElBaradei told CNN's Eliot Spitzer late Friday that he has been in contact with various parties, united in their belief that Mubarak must go.

"We have been in agreement right now that we'd probably have a presidential council of three members including somebody from the army. We have a caretaker government ... who would then run the country for a year, prepare the grounds for the necessary changes in the electoral process to ensure that we will have all what we need for a free and fair election," he said.

ElBaradei did not rule out the possibility of his running for president.

The thirst for immediate change was evident as rallies took place in several Egyptian cities.

In Alexandria, thousands made their way from the city's central mosque down the wide seaside Corniche.

"This is a great revolution and the whole regime, the entire system needs to be changed. The revolution must continue until all objectives are met," the mosque's imam told the crowd.

Writing on the walls leading to the mosque, where police and anti-government demonstrators clashed last Friday, said "Game OVER" and "Pharaoh's last day."

Roughly 35,000 people took to the streets Friday in the city of Suez, a spokesman for opposition leader Ayman Nour told CNN.

Among the protesters in Cairo was Moussa, the Arab League's secretary-general, and Muhammad Rifaa al-Tahtawi, spokesman for Al-Azhar University, the prestigious center for Sunni Muslim education.

Al-Tahtawi told CNN he resigned from his Al-Azhar position and joined the anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square.

"I am against the regime. And I am supporting the revolution," he said.

Mubarak told ABC News Thursday that he would like to step down right away, but cannot because he does not want to risk plunging his nation into chaos.

"I don't care what people say about me," Mubarak told ABC. "Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt.

"I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other," he said in the interview conducted at the heavily guarded presidential palace, where the embattled leader has been staying with his family.

He accused the Muslim Brotherhood for instigating the violence, while his deputy also laid blame on the media.

"I actually blame certain friendly nations who have television channels, they are not friendly at all, who have intensified the youth against the nation and the state," Suleiman said on Nile TV. "They have filled in the minds of the youth with wrongdoings, with allegations, and this is unacceptable."

The government cracked down Thursday, arresting and beating journalists and human rights workers documenting events.

The harassment continued Friday with the storming of Al-Jazeera's office in Cairo. The network reported its office was attacked and burned by "gangs of thugs."

In the last week its bureau was forcibly closed, all its journalists had press credentials revoked, and nine journalists were detained at various stages. Al-Jazeera has also faced unprecedented levels of interference in its broadcast signal as well as persistent and repeated attempts to bring down its websites, the network said.

Late Friday, Human Rights Watch, a rights organization, said that Egyptian authorities had released researchers from its group, Amnesty International and two foreign journalists. It called on officials to also free its Egyptian colleagues, who it says are still detained.

"Why doesn't the government want us around?" asked New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, "What is it that it plans to do in the next few days that it really doesn't want cameras to be able to report on?"

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy organization, said Friday it has documented at least 101 attacks on journalists and news facilities this week. The advocacy group cited numerous media reports claiming that Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, a journalist working for the newspaper Al-Ta'awun, had died of wounds suffered while filming the protests.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration continues "to receive very disturbing reports" of "systematic targeting" of journalists in Egypt.

Appalled by the attacks, U.S. officials encouraged Mubarak's government to plan a path out of power.

Vice President Joe Biden urged his Egyptian counterpart to ensure that "credible, inclusive negotiations begin immediately" with opposition political groups to expedite the creation of a new democratic government, according to a statement from Biden's office.

The U.S. Senate, meanwhile approved a resolution calling for Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition and transfer power to a caretaker government.

CNN's Amir Ahmed, Ivan Watson, Jill Dougherty, Nic Robertson, Saad Abedine and journalist Ian Lee contributed to this report.

MCA, Gerakan call Dr M’s Tanah Melayu remarks divisive

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 – Leaders from Barisan Nasional’s (BN) non-Malay parties have described Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement urging other communities to accept the sovereignty of the Malays as divisive.

MCA vice-president Senator Gan Ping Seiu said the former prime minister should have used his status as an elder statesman to unite the nation.

“As a senior statesman, the rakyat expects Tun to be a fatherly figure and his remarks should be more unifying and constructive. Any selective and unproductive remarks only serve to divide the people,” said the deputy minister for youth and sports last night.

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 for 22 years said that the country’s forefathers gave the Chinese and Indians citizenship because they expected the communities to respect Malay sovereignty.

Dr Mahathir also urged everyone to be sincere and accept the fact “that the country is Tanah Melayu.”

Gan, however, argued that the term was only a geographical reference and should not be taken out of context.

“Tanah Melayu was a geographical name for peninsular Malaysia in its historical context. No reason to argue otherwise, just like the independence of this country was fought by all ethnic communities’ leaders,” Gan told The Malaysian Insider.

“History cannot be rewritten. Any overzealous reading into history to suit one’s own pride and prejudice is an affront to intellectual honesty.

“Similarly, 1 Malaysia must be read within the instrument of our Federal Constitution. The inclusiveness and mutual respect enunciated in 1 Malaysia are the key spirit of our federal constitution,” he added.

In his speech on the future of the Malay race, Dr Mahathir also said that non-Malays must place country before race to make the Malays feel less threatened.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that former Philippine President Corazon Aquino and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are Chinese but adopted the Filipino and Thai culture respectively.

“No one country in the world is identical, there are also countries in the world that have more than one official language. Such an argument leads us nowhere,” said Gan.

“We should preserve and value the social order that our forefathers fought hard to build. Our nationality is Malaysian and Malaysians that I have met love Malaysia, but when a foreigner asks me whether I am a Chinese, I will say yes, as I am an ethnic Chinese, just like if a Malay is asked whether he is a Javanese, Sumatran or Bugis, it doesn’t make him any less Malaysian,” he added.

Meanwhile, Gerakan deputy president Datuk Chang Ko Youn also expressed similar sentiments, saying Dr Mahathir’s argument was a waste of time.

“There is no point arguing about this. This is waste of time, we should look at the future and focus on nation building. No one should justify what’s happening now by citing history,” Chang told The Malaysian Insider.

“Of course, we must learn from our history, but our energy must be focussed on our future.

“His remarks will only further divide the various races,” he said.

Chang also described Dr Mahathir’s comparison of the local Chinese with those in the Philippines and Thailand as unfair.

“Every country is unique; it is not a fair comparison. I don’t agree with his way of comparing with other countries,” said Chang.

Takkan Melayu hilang di dunia

Dr Mahathir kata ungkapan ini perlu dinilai untuk menentukan Melayu mana yang tidak boleh hilang.


Oleh Mawdudi al-Bana

Kata-kata “Takkan Melayu hilang di dunia” merupakan kata-kata terakhir Laksamana Tun Tuah sebelum kembali ke rahmatullah.

Mantan perdana menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dipetik berkata bahawa kata-kata ini perlu dinilai untuk menentukan Melayu mana yang tidak boleh hilang.

Yang peliknya Melayu yang kuat, kaya, berpengetahuan dan cekap berniaga dan sebagainya wujud di dalam kem politik Umno dan kem politik PKR-PAS.

Golongan ini penting kepada kedua-dua belah pihak kerana berpotensi melakar wacana politik masa depan.

Beliau juga dilaporkan berkata bahawa masyarakat Melayu lemah kerana tidak bersatu padu di bawah naungan Umno.

Beliau berkata demikian di dalam ucapannya bertajuk Orang Melayu dan Masa Depan di dalam sidang Majlis Bekas Wakil Rakyat (Mubarak).

Persoalan yang diutarakan apakah ada kebenaran di dalam kenyataan ini?

Adakah pengunduran Mursyidul Am PAS, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat dan Ketua Umum PKR Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim akan menyatukan masyarakat Melayu yang diura-urakan berpecah?

Pernyataan Tun Dr Mahathir seolah-olah membayangkan bahawa keseluruhan masyarakat Melayu hanya bernaung di bawah kepimpinan Umno.

Sejarah membuktikan sebaliknya.

BN mencermin PKR

Era 1930an membuktikan bahawa orang Melayu pernah mendukung aspirasi mereka menerusi pelbagai pertubuhan.

Kesatuan Melayu Muda, Angkatan Pemuda Insaf dan juga Parti Komunis Malaya pernah menjadi wadah perjuangan nasionalisme anak watan Melayu.

Dari sudut demokrasi, kehadiran lebih banyak parti sahsiah adalah tanda perkembangan demokrasi positif.

Ia juga akan memberi peluang kepada orang Melayu untuk menumpukan perhatian kepada aspek kehidupan lain selain kaum Melayu semata-mata. Umpamanya jika Ahmad mahukan penekanan terhadap Islam, maka pilihannya tentu PAS.

Bagi mereka yang mahukan pentas berbilang kaum, maka PKR atau DAP akan jadi pilihan, bukannya parti Melayu mahupun parti berdasarkan perkauman yang lain.

Sebenarnya, kehadiran PKR juga meningkatkan perpaduan rakyat berbilang kaum dan keturunan. Pihak Umno tidak wajar mengadu perihal ini kerana komponen parti Barisan Nasional bagai mencermin PKR.

Pertelingkahan politik yang diwar-warkan oleh Mahathir juga sebenarnya polemik politik semata-mata. Ketiga-tiga parti majoriti Melayu mempunyai pendekatan dan kaedah berbeza untuk mencapai aspirasi rakyat.

Mahathir juga dilaporkan berkata bahawa ada orang Melayu begitu yakin untuk berdikari sehingga membantah pelaksanaan Dasar Ekonomi Baru yang digubal untuk membantu meningkatkan taraf masyarakat Melayu.

Umno harus gembira sekiranya orang Melayu mahu berdikari tanpa menggunakan “tongkat DEB”. Pada awal tahun lepas terdapat peningkatan dalam bilangan orang Melayu yang meninggalkan Malaysia. Adakah pola ini bukti keberkesanan Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB). Tepuk dada tanya selera.

Tongkat DEB

Ini adalah bukti tongkat DEB diberi secara eksklusif dan orang Melayu tidak memerlukan tongkat. Hanya individu tersebut mengetahui cacat cela mereka. Ia tidak perlu diingatkan oleh golongan politikus.

Bantahan terhadap DEB bukan hanya wujud di kalangan mereka yang berjaya malahan di kalangan mereka yang kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang.

Dalam dekad 90an seorang anak Melayu berjaya menjadi datuk bandar di Britain. Adakah ia berlaku kerana DEB? Sudah tentu tidak.

Beliau menjadi datuk bandar atas daya usahanya sendiri.

DEB yang dimulakan pada tahun 1970 sepatutnya ditamatkan pada 1990 tetapi masih diteruskan dengan pelbagai nama lain.

Pelaksanaan yang tidak dipantau menyebabkan hanya segelintir kecil yang mendapat faedah.

Contohnya, isu permit kereta luar negeri (AP) mendedahkan Umno hanya menjaga kepentingan golongan elit Melayu.

Laporan media turut menunjukkan Mahathir sedih kerana orang Melayu sanggup menggadaikan apa sahaja demi sokongan politik orang bukan Melayu.

Mungkin tokoh negarawan ini terlupa bahawa Umno yang memulakan budaya ini di dalam sektor ekonomi menerusi budaya “Ali Baba”.

Di dalam usaha meningkatkan ekonomi Melayu, ramai yang dilantik menjadi pengarah syarikat dengan gaji buta dari orang bukan Melayu.

Beliau turut menyentuh isu ketuanan Melayu, dengan menyatakan Melayu tidak boleh bermegah sebagai tuan sedangkan mereka hamba.

Umno dan Melayu

Lantas persoalan yang perlu ditanya adalah dari mana datangnya konsep ketuanan ini. Menurut profesor undang-undang, Shad Saleem Faruqi, konsep ini tiada dalam perlembagaan negara.

Perlembagaan hanya menyatakan kedudukan khas orang Melayu. Mantan mufti Perlis, Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, turut menidakkan ketuanan kerana semua umat dianggap sama tarafnya kecuali dari sudut ketaqwaan sebagaimana yang tertera di dalam Al-Quran.

Mahathir turut dilaporkan menyatakan bahawa negara ini akan selamat dari penaklukan asing sekiranya rakyat memahami dan menerima konsep 1Malaysia.

Dalam konteks keselamatan hari ini, ancaman bukan hanya disebabkan oleh negara malah oleh pelaku bukan negara. Justeru adalah penting untuk pihak keselamatan memantau ancaman pelaku bukan negara bukannya menerima 1Malaysia seada-adanya.

Jika benar 1Malaysia diamalkan mengapa pula wartawan bukan Melayu dari sebuah laman portal tidak dibenarkan membuat liputan ucapan Mahathir?

Sebagai penutup bicara, penulis ingin menegaskan, takkan Melayu hilang di dunia sekiranya Umno yang hilang kerana Melayu wujud sebelum kelahiran Umno.

Mahathir specialises in the dark forces

Whenever Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks his mind, he never fails to open up old wounds and divide the people.


Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a predictable person and whenever he gives a speech, he never fails to open up old wounds and divide the people of Malaysia.

This time he tells us that Malaysia belongs to the Malays and that the others must accept the culture and language of the dominant community.

At a talk on the “Malay race and the future” at the Tun Hussein Onn Memorial, he said, “This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu…We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu.”

So where does that leave the East Malaysians?

More importantly, he has forgotten the true original settlers of the land – the Orang Asli.

As always, he and others in the Malaysian Cabinet only use the wretched Orang Asli when it serves their purpose – like just before a general election.

The usual ploy will be for BN to say that they have given scholarships to perhaps five Orang Asli children and have mended one or two bridges in their community. That is BN’s feel-good factor for the Orang Asli.

Dr Mahathir stressed that non-Malays had to accept the concept of “Bangsa Malaysia” (Malaysian nation) to help strengthen national unity and that they had to place country before race and identify themselves as Malaysians.

According to him, communities which continued to identify themselves according to the country of origin can rightly be identified as immigrants.

How can Malaysians help it if all government application forms make us tick the box with which we must indicate our “race”? This identifies the applicants who are entitled to certain privileges.

Race-based parties

No one is under the illusion that Mahathir, or the succeeding governments, would have voluntarily eliminated that box which identifies one’s race.

If they had, Malaysia would not be embroiled in the massive racial and religious problems of today.

If Mahathir was sincere about the “Bangsa Malaysia” concept, another name for “1Malaysia”, then in his time, he would have disbanded all race-based political parties and championed Malaysian causes. As it is, each political party looks after the interests of its own particular race.

Mahathir warned the Malay community that they would risk losing the country without the affirmative action policies and said that programmes such as the New Economic Policy (NEP) were still important because Malays were still economically weak.

He said, “We must not reject every government effort to help us. We must push away the crutches and realise that we are still limping. Which is better? To be dependent on policies which will save us or depend on others hoping that they will save us? Sooner or later, we will be under their rule.”

The brief insight into Mahathir’s childhood, described in Barry Wain’s book, shows a boy who overcame all the discriminations his family faced, by working hard to get what he wanted.

His Malay mother was remotely connected to the Kedah royal family, but he was still considered a commoner and all this shaped his unconscious mind about social hierarchy. The family’s Indian origins, from his paternal side, were not publicly declared.

Immigrant communities

The family lived alongside other immigrant communities – the Javanese, Sumatrans, Indian Muslims and Chinese. Just like any immigrant community the world over, these people are consumed with a desire to blend in and succeed. All this also fuelled Mahathir’s desire to do better; to become “someone”.

The hardship he saw on a daily basis and the polarisation faced by those in his community, combined with the qualities he inherited from his father, made him more disciplined, highly motivated, a voracious reader who was eager to learn and someone who wanted to improve his life.

What a shame then that Mahathir, who is of Indian descent, will not use it as an example to show that Malaysia is also for the non-Malay Malaysians, and not just for the Malays only.

It is also unfortunate that Mahathir will not allow others to benefit from the fruits of his success.

Mahathir pushed himself academically to become a better person so that he could improve the standard and quality of life for his family. He and his successors are now denying the same motivation, sense of achievement and pride that comes from hard work and independence, to the Malays.

Mariam Mokhtar is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

Go solo, MCLM and HRP told

A pact with Pakatan to contest in the next polls is 'unnecessary', says an observer.


GEORGE TOWN: Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) and Human Rights Party (HRP) should believe in their own respective merits and strengths to contest in the next general election.

Malaysian Election Observers Network national coordinator Ong Boon Keong dismissed the groups’ plan to establish an electoral pact with Pakatan Rakyat as “unnecessary”.

He instead suggested that both groups finalise the right candidates, earmark the seats for contest, intensify the ground work and campaign on their own from now on to face the next polls.

He said both groups and others should not fear the people’s rejection if they went solo in their election debut because “it was untested political ground”.

If MCLM and HRP can build up and develop strong grassroots rapport and carry out social works in earmarked constituencies, he said both groups can give Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan a run for their money.

“Many voters are fence-sitters who remain unconvinced by Pakatan and BN.

“You never know,” Ong told FMT today.

MCLM has revealed recently that it would choose some candidates and submit their names for Pakatan’s perusal and approval for the electoral contest.

Although HRP has announced that it would contest 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats in the next polls, it is still seeking an alliance with Pakatan.

HRP pro-tem secretary-general and Hindraf legal adviser P Uthayakumar has called on Pakatan not to be spoilers, but to make way to HRP to contest in the earmarked seats.

Both MCLM and HRP have certain common features.

Both are headed by lawyers – Harris Ibrahim (MCLM) and Uthayakumar (HRP) – and advocate reforms in civil liberties, equal rights and good governance.

Ong said that Uthayakumar, for instance, has the political stature and influence to secure a large vote bank for him and his party on his own.

“I am sure if Uthayakumar and his party members were to contest and campaign by applying the correct electoral formula, he and his party can triumph,” he said.

Electoral pact

He criticised MCLM and HRP political approach to forge an electoral pact with Pakatan for the next

polls when the groups were actually capable of scoring upset wins on their own.

He said both groups have fair chances of winning seats against BN and Pakatan by formulating and applying correct and effective strategies.

He cited the US, Britain, India and Australia, among other countries, where candidates from regional and non-aligned smaller parties, and even independent social grassroots movements, have triumphed in elections against all odds.

He said MCLM and HRP’s desire to forge political link with Pakatan could be influenced by the popular myth that “only political pacts can bring about political change in the country”.

“Undercurrent sentiments are generally engulfed by the myth that the current two-party system is the best.

“Therefore groups that want to replace BN at the centre wrongly believe that only a pact with Pakatan can bring about the change.

“But a two-party system has never been adequate to ensure that democracy flourishes,” Ong said.

He cited Pakistan and Bangladesh as two-tiered democracies where competing parties try to outdo each other on bad rather than good governance.

He said democracy has flourished in many countries including in Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan due to the existence of strong grassroots social movements and multi-party systems.

“MCLM and HRP don’t need to seek consent from or beg to Pakatan to contest.

“They should go solo,” he said.

Tee Keat's Attack Of Chua 'Inapproriate', Says Deputy Youth Chief

IPOH, Feb 4 (Bernama) -- MCA Youth deputy chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon on Friday described as "inappropriate" the attack on party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek by his predecessor, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.

Ong, in a statement yesterday, called Chua an "immoral man" because of his extra-marital affair captured on video, and said he had not kept his promise to resign all posts in the government and party.

Although Chua resigned as Health Minister and quit all party posts, Ong insisted that he should also have stepped down as MP for Labis.

Dr Mah said the attack was inappropriate because Dr Chua had been duly elected by MCA delegates at the party elections last year, defeating the incumbent Ong and former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.

Dr Mah, who is Perak state executive councillor, told reporters here that the MCA should now concentrate on uniting members to strengthen the party and serve the people.

He believed that the MCA was beginning to regain support among the Chinese, with the programmes it had been carrying out for the community.

Dr Mah said the MCA had been working especially hard after Barisan Nasional took back control of the state assembly with three opposition representatives declaring themselves Independent.

WHY INTERLOK MUST GO. KETUANAN MELAYU MUST BE ELIMINATED!

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You wake up in 2011 from a deep slumber beginning in 1957 and look around and see. You are appalled by what you see. What had been the natural order of things while you were deep in slumber now begins to look like a terrible scheme to deprive you of your dignity, your pride, your identity, your everything. You are appalled. You have to stand up and say NO! For if you do not the future is lost.

What is this so-called natural order of things of the appalling past:

1) The Indian in this country is the dark, scraggy, oily, drunk and most likely a criminal Indian.

2) The Indian is unavoidable baggage to be carried by the nation. They do not exist but for the profits they produce.

3) They do not possess anything material or moral, of any value to the nation.

4) They are the filth of this country, and they came from the filth of India.

5) Call them filth, call them Pariahs, call them Indians , call them anything, it does not matter, they do not matter.

6) They should be grateful for what they have got in this country –a 1000 times more than they could have got in India.

7) The ordinary Indians can be bought for a little rice and samsu and their leaders for a bagful of money and some meaningless Datukship.

Ask any UMNO Malay – Muhyiddin Yassin, Ibrahim Ali, Asri the Mufti of Perlis, ask any UMNO Civil Servant . Ask ex UMNO stalwart –Anwar Ibrahim, Ask the scion of the Chinese rich Chua Soi Lek, they will tell you,”This is after all the natural order of things, nothing amiss here. What’s all the fuss about?”

Only when something is a natural order, do we not sense something amiss despite the emphatic noises around. Therein is the crux of the issue. It is this nonchalance resulting from the worldview of this natural order of things that characterizes the rot in our system. That is just the way the system has to work in Malaysia we are told.

The disgust of the Indians about the Interlok novel is not just about one word or a few words, as so many would have us believe. It is about that deep rot in our system – the rot of racism. It is about something totally and fundamentally wrong with our system.

Certainly , it is about those few words. But it is as much about the novel, And it is about the way the whole Interlok episode has been handled after it erupted. It is about the way this book was chosen and prescribed as compulsory text for all our Malaysian young in the name of national unity . It is about the way UMNO’s racist policies are perpetuated. It is about the continuing exclusion of minorities. It is about that which has become the natural order of things for the Ketuanan Melayu UMNO Malays.

This novel is only the tip of that iceberg.

What began optimistically as a Government of the Malayan people in 1957 has in the passage of time transformed into a subtle, systematic and pervasive Ketuanan Melayu racist Malaysia – a very well reinforced regime of racism. To most of us uninitiated, this claim of a systematic and pervasive racism may look excessive. That is exactly why we say racism in Malaysia is subtle, very subtle. The pervasive racism that we talk about is not an overtly visible phenomenon. There is a saying that you can kill by a deep cut across the middle or you can kill with a thousand small cuts, in which case the killing becomes slow and subtle. That is the brand of racism we have in Malaysia. A slow and subtle killing off. What we are looking at is the potential death of the Indian minority community by a thousand cuts.

This Interlok episode is not an isolated incident. It is just one in a big picture of many other what look like innocuous isolated occurrences. The racist scheme is not seen so readily when these are seen as isolated ocurrences.. But put them all together, along with what is happening to the other minorities and you immediately see the unmistakeable Ketuanan Melayu racist scheme. And I can see the potential demise of the Indian minority community as a proud and identifiable community in all of this some time out in the future.

Barn like Primary schools for the half the Indian children in Malaysia, problematic student years for the Indian young because of a combination of circumstances mainly relating to poverty, 40% of them involved in crime and a large number in prisons or in the Simpang Renggam detention centre. Rampant alcoholism to drown out the miserable and hopeless lives offered by this racist system. Then top it all up by stereotyping storytelling of a past like this from novels like Interlok,

“Di dalam kapal ini dia tidak susah. Sebahagian besar daripada penumpang dek yang bersama-samanya itu dapat bercakap dalam satu bahasa sahaja, Tamil. Mereka yang dari arah ke utara sedikit bercakap bahasa Malayalam atau Telugu, tetapi hampir semuanya tahu bahasa Tamil. Malayalam dan Telugu pun berasal dari satu rumpun bahasa Dravidia. Satu perkara besar yang membuatkan mereka senang berkaul adalah kerana mereka tergolong dalam satu kasta Paria.” (p. 211).

“Di sini dia tidak sahaja bebas bercampur gaul dengan orang lain sama sebangsanya, malah dia tidak takut dengan pantang larang yang terdapat di negaranya apabila seorang India daripada kasta rendah menyentuh orang India daripada kasta tinggi.” (p. 218 – 219) and

All this then seems to justify the natural order of things. The low life they belong to just perpetuates itself till this day. The storytelling in Interlok of 1910 fits in with the low life experienced by the Indians in 2010 and caused by their low ways and background as in the story one hundred years ago. The Indian becomes permanently relegated to this serf like status, devoid of dignity, of pride and having their past of extreme poverty and dispossession thrust into their faces at every turn as the reasons for their continuing poverty and dispossession. They are subtly and constantly reminded that they have nobody to blame but their past. Anyway this life in this golden land of Malaysia is a thousand times better than anything they could have had in India. Something they are constantly being reminded of as part of the Ketuanan Melayu philosophy.

THAT IS THE REAL ISSUE!

Interlok is just a trigger for all of that. It is, as I have said , the tip of the iceberg. This UMNO government does not care, they want to go right ahead and institutionalize such material into the educational curriculum because they must push their Ketuanan philosophy on for them to succeed. Ask Mahathir about the logic of it all. He is the author of that Ketuanan Philosophy.

So, for our part as proud Indians who will not compromise dignity, we now have to take the bull by the horn. We just have no choice. We say the book must be withdrawn – or the UMNO government must face the wrath of the entire Indian community. This book represents for us an opportunity to turn back, stand up and say no to RACISM. We all have to say no, not just to the inclusion of the Interlok novel into the curriculum in schools but to the WHOLE FABRIC OF KETUANAN MELAYU RACISM that is the root cause of all of this.

This is a matter of great significance to the future of all the minority communities in the country.

Let us all democracy and justice minded Malaysians stand up. We need to eliminate this KETUANAN MELAYU racist system and that can only come when we all stand up. We, the minorities can live with dignity and pride in this country only when we eliminate this KETUANAN MELAYU racist system.

Look at what the people of Egypt and Tunisia have just done. They have stood up and said NO!

Let us stand and say NO! NO! NO!

PKR wants national dialogue after Dr M’s ‘Tanah Melayu’ remarks

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 – Pressure mounted on Datuk Seri Najib Razak today to respond to Tun Dr 
Nurul Izzah stressed the importance of a bi-partisan bill to clear up any confusion over the rights of Malaysians.

Mahathir Mohamed’s “Tanah Melayu” remarks, with PKR now demanding the prime minister start a national-level dialogue on policy reforms.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said that such a dialogue was crucial to outline policy reforms which will guarantee the rights of all Malaysians as equal citizens of the country.

Dr Mahathir said recently that Malaysia only belonged to the Malays and other races are expected to respect Malay sovereignty.

In response, Nurul Izzah stressed the need for the dialogue to focus on a bi-partisan bill, titled the Democracy Rehabilitation Act so that it may be tabled in the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sitting for “rationality” to be restored to the country’s development agenda.

She said the bill would ensure that there would be no confusion over the rights of the country’s citizens. The Lembah Pantai MP has been promoting the bill since last year.

“I humbly request that our rational PM immediately make a responsible response to Dr. Mahathir’s “Tanah Melayu” statement and also to begin a true National Dialogue for Political Reforms leading to the introduction of a bi-partisan bill named the Democracy Rehabilitation Act in the upcoming Parliamentary sitting that will restore rationality to our national development and transformation agenda once and for all,” she said in a statement.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the proposed Act includes, among others, a revocation of all emergency declarations, and repeals of “anti-democratic laws” such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA).

Nurul Izzah also took a swipe at Najib today, saying that a “rational national leader” would not accept Dr Mahathir’s “divisive” remarks.

The Lembah Pantai MP accused Dr Mahathir of interpreting Malaysia’s history irresponsibly to justify a single race brand of nationalism at the expense of the “inclusiveness” of Najib’s 1 Malaysia.

“Indeed, what would the PM say in reply to Dr. Mahathir’s “Tanah Melayu” pronouncement, detailing a regressive history lesson and against the rational progressive intent of 1 Malaysia being promoted by the former?” added the PKR lawmaker.

Opposition leaders have insisted that Dr Mahathir’s statement was a direct contradiction to Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept of equality.

In a speech on Tuesday, the former prime minister 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.

He said that the country’s forefathers gave the Chinese and the 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,” Dr Mahathir said.

He also said the administration must be clear on what is 1 Malaysia.

In a poll conducted by the Merdeka Center last year, only 39 per cent of non-Bumiputeras accepted the 1 Malaysia concept in spite of the fact that it had been introduced for over a year at that point in time.

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.

Racism & Whither Malaysia

Dr Mahathir is not new to controversy. I had said that the ex-premier will only tarnish is already poor image and thinning legacy with more vicious statements and speeches.

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.

Mahathir's speech shows why Malaysia is a state but not a country. How can Malaysia achieve greater success in attracting and retaining talents at home if this government continues to belittle almost half of its citizens? Mahathir was a president of UMNO and a premier of this nation. His position on this issue deserves an explanation from the current UMNO government.

I fear that many, especially those in Perkasa, share his view on Tanah Melayu. Perkasa and UMNO share almost the same membership base.

Mahathir, himself of an Indian origin, refuses to accept and respect the constitutional rights of all Malaysians to equal opportunities, safety and respect after being a premier of this country for more than two decades is a contempt of the federal constitution.

He had insulted the federal constitution for refusing to respect the citizenship rights of all Malaysians. Shouldn't Mahathir be brought to justice the same way the Sri Muda assemblyman is being charged for sedition?

Unfortunately, there is no rule of law in this country. Racism and race politics will destroy the nation's social fabric. It is sad that politicians in this country are more preoccupied with race supremacy, religion and monarchy than putting more attention on the state of economy and the need to reposition Malaysia in the changing global order.

Sadly, if the Malays in this country continue to believe in the flimsy notion of Malay supremacy being a protective shield of their existence and survival this country will not be able to change its course and will head for eventual destruction.

Yet, there is little done by Pakatan leaders to correct the notion and to reassure the Malays that a positive mindset change is the only way to secure their survival in the increasingly competitive global economy.

Many of us had hoped for a better start in the new year. I hope we will not be disappointed. Malaysians must stay focus on the agenda of change and reform. Without a real political reform, the whole nation is going to continue its slide towards a failed nation.

As for MCA, MIC and Gerakan, Mahathir's statement and their silence is the last nail in the coffin. It shows that minority race parties in Barisan are ineffective and irrelevant.

by Khoo Kay Peng

Egypt: The defence of Liberation Square

A rare video report from the ground looking at how pro-democracy activists defended Tahrir Square – at a terrible cost, more than a dozen killed and over 5,000 injured – after coming under waves of attack from pro-Mubarak thugs.