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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

G'kan snipes back at MCA over Kepong seat row

The verbal fisticuffs between BN component parties MCA and Gerakan appear to be escalating, with the latter now calling MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek “uncouth” in the tussle over who gets to contest in Kepong in the next general election.

Ong Thean Lye, political secretary to Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon (right) has come to his boss' defence over Chua's earlier statement attacking Koh over the seat traditionally belonging to Gerakan.

“Dr Chua should look before shooting and check his facts and chronology of events, before shooting his mouth off especially at fellow BN component leaders,” said Ong in a statement.

The debacle erupted on Saturday when the Kepong Umno division chief Rizuan Hamid said that MCA should contest in the seat instead of Gerakan, since the latter had never won a once since they first contested in 1975.

Koh retaliated that it was improper for any component party to demand for seats and that Rizuan should have voiced his concerns through party channels instead.
Chua joined the fray yesterday calling his Gerakan counterpart “gutless” for “insinuating that MCA was trying to get additional seats for themselves through Umno”.

'Chua thanked Umno'

Ong, who is also the Gerakan central committee member, today pointed out that Chua himself was quick to thank Umno Kepong profusely for the suggestion regarding the seat.

“If Chua (left) cared to check, he would have noticed that Koh first strongly criticised Rizuan, on openly proposing for MCA to take over the Kepong seat from Gerakan. Koh only targeted Umno, without even mentioning MCA at all,” said Ong.

“It is only after Chua himself profusely thanked Umno Kepong, as reported in the media on 13 February, that Koh, in response to media query on the same day, said that it's not right for Chua to put open pressure on Gerakan through Umno.”

“More importantly, Koh has always emphasised that seat allocation should be discussed amongst component leaders and with the prime minister, but not openly. Chua said the same, but, by gleefully thanking Umno and saying that MCA is ready to take over Kepong, Chua is not practising what he preaches.

“Therefore, Koh didn't jump to conclusions, as alleged by Chua. It was Chua who first jumped with joy on Rizuan's comment,” said Ong.

He also reminded Chua that Koh openly defended the MCA president in early December last year, when the latter was under attack from several top Umno leaders in response to his 'junior partner' speech at the BN Convention.

The Kepong seat in Kuala Lumpur is currently a DAP stronghold, with MP Tan Seng Giaw (right) holding the seat for seven consecutive terms since 1982, making him one of the longest serving MPs in the country.

‘Please, give me back my baby’

A mother who is pining for a three-year-old 'missing' daughter, is hoping that a charitable organisation will help rescue her from bankruptcy.

IPOH: Valentine’s Day is meaningless to 36-year-old M Indira Ghandhi who has not seen her three-year-old daughter since her husband drove off with her two years ago.

Indira, a mother of three, has not only been denied access to her third child, Prasana Diksha ,by her estranged husband who converted, but is also facing the problem of having been made a bankrupt by him.

Desperately missing Prasana, who turns three on April 1, Indira is grappling with depression and financial instability.

“There is no Valentine’s Day celebration for me and my family as I have not seen my youngest daughter for the past three years.

“It is pure mental torture and agony that my husband is inflicting on me and my children. He has destroyed the peace and happiness of my family,” she said.

Relating her problem to FMT, an emotional Indira said she is now unable to withdraw her life savings, engage a lawyer to fight for the custody of her third child or apply for any form of loans including housing and car.

Her husband’s failure to meet the instalments on their family car, which is registered in her name, has resulted in her being made a bankrupt.

It has also dashed her dream of securing a diploma and then degree in pre-school teaching in a bid to improve her financial standing.

Her bigger fear is that she might now lose her current job as a kindergarden teacher as a result of the bankcruptcy.

Dire straits

Indira currently earns RM700 a month in her day job as a teacher and supplements this income by giving private tution which brings her an additional RM800 a month.

She juggles rent, provisions and her two children’s educational needs on RM1,500.

“Where am I to get the money to pay the remaining RM50,000 for the car loan when I cannot even meet my daily expenses with the present monthly income of RM1,500?” she said.

Indira is hoping that some charitable organisation will come to her rescue to settle the car debt and free her from bankruptcy so that she can pursue her education and improve her economic standings.

Indira has been waging a legal battle for the past two years with her husband Mohd Riduan Abdullah @ K Pathmanathan, 42, for the custody of Prasana. She has custody of the two elder children Tevidarsiny,14, and Karan Dinesh,13, while Riduan, upon conversion, took away Prasana when she was a toddler.

She is also battling to quash the certificates of conversion to Islam of her three children which Riduan had done secretly without her knowledge.

Indira’s application to quash the conversion order is coming up for hearing in the Ipoh High Court on March 30.

It has been an uphill battle for Indira to secure custody of Prasana and to revert her children’s documentation to their original religion.

A ploy

According to Indira, her family life has drastically changed and the future was bleak, especially after her husband failed to meet the car payments.

She said that in 1999 her husband had bought the Proton Wira car with registration number AFN 387 for RM58,000 but only paid about RM8,000 before he left with Prasana and the car to Kelantan where he is believed to be in hiding now.

Indira and her family used to stay in Jelapang, but they have since shifted to a rented house in Taman Pertama in Buntong.

After failing to contact her at her old address, the car’s bankers CIMB, took legal proceedings to declare her a bankrupt.

Indira, however, only became aware that she was declared a bankrupt, when on Jan 25, the officials at Maybank told her that she could not withdraw any money from her savings which had been frozen by the bankruptcy office.

Three days later, on the instructions of her lawyer M Kulasegaran, she lodged a police report against her husband for not paying the car instalments and making her a bankrupt. She made the report at the Ipoh district police headquarters.

When contacted today, Kulasegaran said the bankruptcy move by Riduan maybe a ploy by him to delay returning the third child as ordered by the Ipoh High Court on March 11 last year.

Press statement on HINDRAF March on 27/2/11 and Letter to IGP

PRESS STATEMENT  15 Feb 2011
IGP REQUESTED TO PROVIDE SECURITY FOR THE 27TH OF Feb 2011 Peaceful People’s March in Solidarity against UMNO’s  racism 

We are planning a march of justice and democratic minded patriots of our country to show our united opposition against the unjust racist system that pervades every aspect of life in Malaysia. This system creates situations like we have on our hands today with the introduction of the Interlok novel into the SPM curriculum.

 On the 11th of February, Hindraf representatives have made an application for a police permit for this People’s March from KLCC to the Dang Wangi Police Station. We have done this even though we consider the Police Act to be contrary and ultra vires the Federal Constitution, so we give the Police no reason to avoid their responsibilities.

Knowing how the Police have responded to such applications in the past, we now feel that the Inspector General of Police has to personally get involved to ensure that the marchers are given the security they need. This is an entirely lawful act and as the senior most public servant in the security service of the nation, he is personally obliged to ensure that no untoward incident occurs during the march. We expect 3rd party agent provocateurs who may be likely employed by UMNO, like the known  3 LINE  and Pekida  underworld gangs and  UMNO’s outsourced  far right extremist wing the Perkasa to cause trouble on the said day.

However if he refuses to do the necessary, we will hold the IGP of Malaysia responsible for any untoward incidents that may occur during the march and he will be liable for negligence in failing to provide protection to innocent civilians protesting peacefully on this first SOLIDARITY MARCH AGAINST UMNO RACISM.

We attach the letter we have sent to him to this effect.

P.Waytha Moorthy
Chair
HINDRAF

Thousands rally across Yemen

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Yemen for the fourth straight day, demanding political reforms and the downfall of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country's long-serving president.

The 3,000-strong throng of demonstrators in the capital, Sanaa, comprising students, human rights activists and lawyers clad in black robes, clashed with police and pro-government supporters on Monday.

Rival groups, armed with clubs and rocks, were seen facing off after supporters of Saleh reportedly confronted the protesters.

At least three people were injured, including one stabbed with a traditional Yemeni dagger, in fighting outside Sanaa's university where protesters chanted: "A revolution of free opinion ... A revolution of freedom ... We should be allowed to decide."

Further chants of "After Mubarak, Ali" and "No corruption after today" reverberated around the city.

"It's very tense on the streets here," Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting form Sanaa, said.

"The anti-government protests are gathering momentum, despite the huge concessions given by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who said that he will step down in 2013, and that his son, General Ahmed Abdullah Saleh - who was being groomed to take over - won't inherit power.

"Thousands of young Yemenis are saying: 'We won't trust Ali Abdullah Saleh, because we trusted him in the past, particularly in 2006, when he said he was about to resign - only for him to continue and to ask for the constitution to be amended to allow him to be appointed for life'."

Public squares blocked

Protesters have been using social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, in an attempt to mobilise people throughout Yemen, an impoverished country at the south of the Arabian peninsula.

But state forces have blocked access to public squares, several coincidentally named "Tahrir Square" - both in Sanaa, and around the country.

The move was an apparent attempt to prevent the world's media from linking the protests with those that took place in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, our correspondent says.

Several checkpoints have appeared on streets leading to Sanaa's presidential palace, and many have been blocked with razor wire.

"What we are seeing is thousands of pro-government protesters - and people are saying these are government officials and policemen disguised as civilians - armed with batons, attacking the pro-democracy protesters and dispersing the crowd using violence," our correspondent said.

Unrest spreads

While it is possible to find Yemenis who say Saleh, 64, is "the best we've had, and after him would be chaos", thousands have hit the streets in protests across the country, including in Aden and Taaz, a southern city, Al Jazeera's Ahelbarra said.

At least 12 people were injured as police shot tear gas to break up protests in the southern city of Taaz, where human rights groups say protesters were also given electric shocks by security officials.

And in Aden, dock workers stormed the offices of the Yemen Gulf of Aden Port Corporation, seizing its chairman, Mohamed Bin Aefan, and other senior corporate figures, they said.

"We have had it with corrupt officials and it's time to tell them to leave," Ali Bin Yehya, a port worker, said.

"What happened in Egypt and Tunisia motivated the workers to demand their rights."

Opposition groups appear to have backtracked on an agreement made on Sunday to meet with Saleh to find a political settlement to the crisis, our correspondent said.

The groups had also aimed to establish a coalition "government of national unity" - after their supporters pointed to the success of Egyptians in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak from power, Ahelbarra said.

The US connection

Saleh has reportedly cancelled a planned trip to the US at this moment of unrest, and will be visiting tribal areas in a bid to convince community leaders not to join the ongoing protests.

Military ties between the US and Saleh's administration have grown stronger in recent months, as the country struggles with the increasing militancy of a secessionist movement in the south, as well as unrest provoked by rising food prices, unemployment reaching 40 per cent - and demands for human rights to be recognised.

The US is shortly to embark on a $75 million project to train Yemen's counterterrorism unit, US officials say.

Saleh became leader of North Yemen in 1978 and has ruled the Republic of Yemen since the north and south merged in 1990.

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Interlok: Bishop calls for wisdom of sensitivities

(Malaysiakini) There is an urgent need for the wisdom of sensitivity to override other imperatives in the controversy over the literary textbook 'Interlok', said the head of the Roman Catholic Church of Melaka-Johor Diocese.

Bishop Dr Paul Tan, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, speaking as the bishop of Melaka-Johor Diocese, said a literary text that is commended for the edification of youth in a multi-racial society should adhere to supra-partisan, supra-racial standards and values.

bishop paul tan"By those standards, 'Interlok' won't qualify as a recommended text because there is legitimate cause for concern that it gets its history and sociology wrong," opined Bishop Tan, in comments made to Malaysiakini.

"'Interlok' has got its history and sociology wrong in much the same that a local preacher of the Muslim faith has got her facts wrong about St Valentine's Day and its supposed connection to Christian lifestyles," he elaborated.

"The ease with which some with a pedagogical role in Malaysian society get their historical and sociological facts wrong is a symptom of the gulfs that prevail and the difficulty that people of goodwill face when attempting to bridge them," he remarked.

"In situations such as this one, if you persist with a text like 'Interlok', you will only freeze people in the mental and cultural ghettoes they find themselves in and as consequence, you will make racial stereotyping easy and the desire to discover the difference between appearance and reality that much harder to promote," he expatiated.

Novel's subliminal message

Tan said he found in conversations with Hindu Malaysians a sense of their being selected for cultural and religious pummeling as a consequence of the results of the 12th general election of March 2008.

"There is a feeling that a minority is being specially selected for psychological punishment as a result of the way the vote went in the last general election.

"The book 'Interlok', in its historical and cultural miscues, is seen as a text that was selected for the goal of conveying the message that a subject people ought to compare their current status with the servitude they supposedly endured in the past," commented Bishop Tan.

He held the subliminal message of the novel was that the Indian minority in Malaysia ought to compare their plight in the light of times past and times present.

"This is a highly subjective ethos which is not suitable for the edification of youth who at the school-leaving stage ought to be fed with reading material that projects universal values and themes," he said.

He also said putting one's religion, culture and ethnicity above others goes against all sense of a desire to dialogue, understand and accept others as they are, which is the foundation of the unity of a people.

For that reason, Bishop Tan said the Education Ministry should reconsider the selection of 'Interlok' as a literary text for Form 5 students and replace it with a choice that elevates rather than estranges our youth.

Malaysia arrests Indian activists over book ban (HindustanTimes)

Interlok 2
Malaysian police arrested 65 members of a Indian rights group who want the government to drop a textbook from the school curriculum over a reference to the caste system, an activist said on Monday. “Sixty-five people were arrested on Sunday inthree states for demonstrating and handing out pamphletsagainst the use of the book “Interlok,” S Jayathas, from the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) said.
“We were detained unlawfully,” he said, adding that police had freed most of the protestors Sunday but were still holding 28 in the southern Negeri Sembilan state.
Jayathas said the arrests will not deter Hindraf from organising a February 27 rally outside the iconic Petronas Twin Towers to demand the textbook is dropped from the curriculum.
A police spokesman said that 59 people were arrested for taking part in an illegal assembly and all had been released on Sunday.
The book is now compulsory reading for high school students in multiracial but predominantly Muslim Malaysia.The Malay-language novel has prompted angry protests from elements of the nation’s Indian community, who say it is offensive.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in January moved to end the row, saying the book will be used in schools but with amendments so as not to hurt the feelings of the Indian community.But the controversy stirred by the book points to the country’s strained race relations.
“Interlok”, written by a national laureate, covers the history of relations between of Malaysia’s three main ethnic groups — Malays, Chinese and Indians — from the 1900s until independence in 1957.
The Malaysian Indian Congress party, the third largest component party in the ruling coalition, has called for the novel to be withdrawn or to remove the passages touching on the caste system and other areas deemed offensive.
The caste system divides Hindus into four main groups according to their work and social status and is banned in India but still pervades many aspects of daily life, especially outside the cities.
Ethnic Indians make up less than 10 percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population and have long complained that they are disadvantaged by policies helping majority Muslim Malays.

New Sabah PKR leadership expected in April

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The protracted leadership crisis in Sabah PKR is expected to end in an April convention with the 11-man presidential council making way for a new state leadership.
Party deputy president Azmin Ali has confirmed that members of a new liaison committee for the troubled state chapter will be selected and appointed during the convention, likely to be held in the first week of the month.
The Malaysian Insider understands however that the council will only be dissolved at the behest of party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (picture), who currently chairs the body.
Wan Azizah had formed the council earlier this month after she was forced to intervene in the prolonged leadership tussle in Sabah.
“If she agrees, the council will be dissolved and we can finally appoint new members of the state leadership. Hopefully, this will be a smooth process,” said a party source.
The transition plan is set to be in tandem with the party’s preparation for the coming general election, said to be held by year-end.
Azmin also confirmed that every state is expected to prepare its list of potential candidates for the polls by March 20.
The Malaysian Insider also understands that members of the presidential council were finalised during the party’s state leadership meeting last night and should be announced tomorrow.
“It was accommodated,” said the party source when asked if the appointments had been based on consensus by Sabah PKR leaders.
The source added that the council was an “issues-based” body with each member holding specific portfolios like education, youth, security and others.
It is believed that former Sabah PKR chief Ahmad Thamrin Jaini, an influential leader of one of the factions in the state, has been commissioned to hold a post in the council.
Sabah PKR has been plagued by a crisis for years and has seen a succession of five state chiefs since 2006 — including the latest chief, Pajudin Nordin, who defected to Umno this month.
Following the departure of Awang Tengah Amin as state chief in 2006, every other successor has failed to command enough support to unite the feuding factions.
First to follow was Ansari Abdullah, today PKR’s Tuaran division chief, but his appointment came under strong opposition from former vice-president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
Next, PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s right-hand man Azmin Ali was made state chief, resulting in an even louder chorus of disapproval from state leaders.
In 2009, Thamrin was roped in to lead the state but this was yet again rejected as the appointment had not been based on consensus from local leaders.
Supporters of Thamrin’s greatest rival, Ansari, then began to rally for the former’s removal, leading to the shocking appointment of Pajudin, whose name had never been on the list of potential candidates.
The recent events also led to the exodus of several leaders and members from the state chapter, including Jeffrey, who then went on to form a new political platform — the United Borneo Front — along with his supporters.
With his departure, the faction fighting in the state leadership continued between Thamrin and Ansari until Pajudin’s appointment on January 9.
The appointment, made by the national leadership, was highly-criticised as state leaders argued that Pajudin, the Tuaran deputy chief was a proxy for Ansari, who is the division’s chief.
It is also believed that Pajudin’s appointment had been rushed and had not been based on consensus. This was later admitted by Anwar, who claimed that Pajudin’s name had merely been a “test suggestion” by Wan Azizah.
Pajudin’s attempts to unite the party factions later flopped and 18 out of the state’s 25 division chiefs signed a resolution urging the national leadership to take over the state chapter.
When Wan Azizah waded into the crisis, an unhappy Pajudin then defected to Umno, complaining that the national leadership should stick to its promise of autonomy for Sabah.
He said that Sabah PKR would likely remain in shambles as its federal leaders never listened to the views and requests of the state members.
He also predicted in an interview with The Malaysian Insider that the party was likely to fail, yet again, in the coming general election to capture a single seat in Sabah.
“Looking at things now, the general election seems to be drawing near. Probably in June or July. But in the present situation, they cannot face the polls. They are not ready in Sabah as they are too busy fighting,” he said.
He revealed that the state had no machinery for the polls or any idea about who should stand as candidates.
“I have been there for 12 long years so I know what has been going on,” he pointed out.

Toe party line to get our seats, says PKR

Azmin said PKR now has more credible candidates as there was more interest to run for opposition parties. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — PKR will only consider candidates from non-Pakatan Rakyat (PR) groups if they agree firmly to the coalition’s policies, said deputy president Azmin Ali yesterday. He said the youngest party in the opposition pact is open to candidates from organisations such as the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) and even giving Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) more seats if they were willing to abide by the coalition’s whip.
“We can discuss with them. But if they still want to be independent, what’s the point?” the Gombak MP said of MCLM, which has said that it will propose 30 “defection-proof” candidates to offer to PKR.
If elected, MCLM said that its candidates will decide on issues based on their conscience rather than the coalition’s consensus. It is only offering candidates to PKR, not other PR parties such as the DAP and PAS.
Azmin, who is now also election director, said that PKR’s top leadership including de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim held a meeting with PSM over the weekend to discuss seat allocation for the next general election.
“They have been loyal to us, more so than some of those who ran and defected. So, we have no problems giving them another two seats as long as they continue to stand with us,” he said of the party that had also contested in 2004 and 2008 under PKR’s symbol.
Of the four candidates who ran in 2008, PSM claimed two victories as Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj won PSM’s first-ever parliamentary seat by defeating then-MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in Sungai Siput while PSM president Dr Nasir Hashim won the Kota Damansara seat in the Selangor state legislative assembly.
Chief strategist Rafizi Ramli also admitted that it was wary of accepting candidates offered by MCLM because it wanted to avoid making the same “mistake” of 2008 where it had picked candidates who could not withstand the pressure and challenges of being a lawmaker.
He said that while the party was “open” to MCLM’s offer and accepted the movement’s criticisms against the party, PKR will in the end make its own choice and will choose its own party members who have had experience being grassroots leaders as well as being involved in politics.
“While we are open to suggestions, the candidates must subscribe to our struggle. We are a political party with structure and rules. We have already gone through a painful experience with the ‘frogs’ where in the past we took people who were less experienced and they jumped (at the first given opportunity).

Rafizi said PKR was wary of accepting candidates offered by MCLM. — File pic
“What was missing was the appreciation of the party struggle,” Rafizi told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview recently. PKR has since 2008 suffered from a string of high-profile defections. Six PKR federal lawmakers have quit the party within a year.
The latest defections from the party are Sabah PKR chief Pajudin Nordin who joined Umno and Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim left last November during the party’s fractious elections and is now helming Parti Kita.
“We must be careful, we must make sure this does not happen twice. So when MCLM keeps harping on suggested candidates, we are glad to work and discuss, but then again that candidate must be our party member, understand our struggle, obey our party discipline, or otherwise we will just go back to square one,” said Rafizi.
Azmin also said that compared to 2008, the party now has more credible candidates as there was more interest to run for opposition parties.
“Before the 2008 election, we could not find candidates because people were still afraid and we were a small party with only one MP,” he said.
Rafizi said there was doubt within the party as to whether MCLM’s candidates would be able to work well on a grassroots level as most of them were upper middle-class lawyers.
“I’m sure you understand that these lawyers may not be able to work well with people. I myself struggle when it comes to connecting with the grassroots. You see, the expectation of an elected representative in Malaysia is not the same as the US.
“It is unfair (for MCLM) to talk down to PKR as if we are so crappy ... we have some credible strengths,” he said.
He said PKR needed to focus on the upcoming general election and should not “operate” at the mercy of some “pressure groups.”
The MCLM has insisted it was trying to help the opposition pact regain momentum in the coming elections.
Its president, Haris Ibrahim, has moved to quell public scepticism that its independent candidate initiative would cause a vote split with the PR and derail the drive to topple the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
The MCLM wants to replace the current batch of PKR MPs who are not performing as lawmakers with those the London-based group sees as responsible representatives committed to drawing up laws in the public interest.
The civil society initiative has so far named lawyers Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, Sreekant Pillai, former All Women’s Action Society president Haslinah Yacob and dentist Dr Nedunchelian Vengu as their independent candidates to date.
Haris had stressed that the independent candidates had each been subjected to a stringent background check by hired private investigators and were required to sign a statutory declaration disclosing all their assets.
The Malaysian Insider understands it has 18 such candidates on its books at the moment.

Investors, says Chinese group

Najib launched Teraju, a new unit created to enhance Bumiputera economic participation, last week. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The “shift in emphasis” away from the New Economic Model’s (NEM) initial focus on productivity and meritocracy to Bumiputera interests will leave Malaysia’s foreign direct investments (FDI) trailing behind regional rivals, a Chinese association said.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) president Tan Yew Sing said the formation of the Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (Teraju) “diluted” the NEM and would likely send the wrong message to foreign investors who had been hopeful of reform.

“Now, with this wrong image, I hope it doesn’t affect our country,” said Tan, who admitted he was surprised by Teraju’s formation.

While he agreed that there was a need for wealth to be spread out more equitably, Tan said it was more important that this be done based on need and not “skin colour”.

He said since the majority of those households in the lowest income bracket were Malay, a needs-based approach would invariably benefit Malays to a greater degree.

Tan nonetheless said he still had “high hopes” that the Najib administration would review its implementation of the NEM and specify a more concrete time frame for the implementation of economic reforms.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come under fire recently over the launch of Teraju, a new unit created to enhance Bumiputera economic participation, which Pakatan Rakyat (PR) claimed contradicted the spirit of the NEM.

DAP national publicity chief Tony Pua accused Najib of abandoning the purpose of the NEM, which is to restructure the affirmative action programmes to benefit the bottom 40 per cent of income earners regardless of race.

When launching Teraju last week, Najib had said that the unit will lead, co-ordinate and drive Bumiputera economic participation through new and existing initiatives, propose institutional reform to increase effectiveness and act as the secretariat for the Bumiputera Agenda Supreme Council (MTAB) which oversees Bumiputera economic development.

Najib had in the past promised that reforms to the economy would still see to the needs and interests of the Bumiputera community, which comprises the majority Malay population as well as indigenous people such as the Orang Asli.

He had said Bumiputeras account for 73 per cent of the 2.4 million households in the lowest 40 per cent income bracket.

In 2009, Najib had done away with regulations requiring a 30 per cent Bumiputera stake in 27 service and financial sub-sectors and limited the purview of the Foreign Investment Committee that oversees Bumiputera equity.

A 30 per cent Bumiputera stake in the national economy has been an objective of the government since the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970.

Official statistics state that Bumiputera-held equity in the country stands at 18.7 per cent as of 2004.

PAS may stay out of Kerdau fray

Talks are making the rounds that voters in Kerdau may go to the polls on the same day as Merlimau, which is not good news for PAS.

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS may stay out of Kerdau state seat by-election in Pahang if the Election Commission (EC) decides to hold the polls simultaneously with Merlimau in Malacca.

The EC has fixed Feb 26 for nomination and March 6 for polling for the Merlimau state seat by-election.

It will not be a surprise if voting in Kerdau is held on the same day as Merlimau given that simultaneous polling had been conducted for Galas state seat in Kelantan and the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat in Sabah in November, last year.

PAS may not have the energy to take part in two simultaneous by-elections considering that the Islamist party was mauled by the Barisan Nasional (BN) in Tenang, Johor, only three weeks ago.

In fact, the party was toying with the idea of staying away from Merlimau but changed its mind when PKR asked PAS to stand in for the unregistered alliance of Pakatan Rakyat.

The party has yet to recover from its “injuries” sustained in Tenang and now it has to fight the BN again in Merlimau. Many of its members feel the party is in no position to enter the Kerdau fray in its current worn-out state.

It is not so much the physical endurance that the party is afraid of but the psychological effect another defeat would inflict on its members.

Repeated defeats will bring down morale and erode confidence no matter how strong and united the party is.

And if the EC decides to hold Merlimau and Kerdau polls at the same time, PAS will obviously face logistical problems besides the financial burden.

Awkward position

Then there is this row over Valentine’s Day, with its Youth wing advocating “moral policing” to curb vices it deems is associated with the celebration. But some leaders have distanced themselves from this conservative stance to be in tune with their allies DAP and PKR.

The fortune of PAS is at its lowest ebb, so contesting the Kerdau state seat, which is also a BN traditional bastion, will further expose its weaknesses which in turn will put the party in an “awkward” position in Pakatan.

So far, PKR has been the weakest link in the alliance but if PAS continues to be defeated in a series of by-elections, the party may find itself taking PKR’s place.

PAS saw its support plummet in Felda settlements in Tenang while the hoped-for Chinese votes also evaporated when the community returned to the BN fold.

In Merlimau, PAS is not expected to make any headway in garnering Malay votes since the late state assemblyman, Mohd Hidhir Abu Hassan, had done a good job in servicing the community.

As for the Chinese votes, PAS is relying on DAP to deliver them but the Chinese vote bank will not help the party to win, not even reducing the BN majority.

With Merlimau a “write-off”, PAS will surely not want Kerdau to be another “stinging slap on its face” that will undermine its image not only within its own ranks but also with the public at large.

Thus, PAS members who are wise and are not in the decision-making body have whispered “let PKR take Kerdau”.

PKR women leaders resign en bloc

Padang Serai PKR division is dealt another blow when the women's wing top brass calls it quit.

PADANG SERAI: Still reeling from the shock resignation of its chief N Gobalakrishnan, Padang Serai PKR division was dealt another blow when six of its women’s wing leaders quit the party en bloc on Sunday.

Those who quit were the wing chief B Deepa Shanthi, deputy chief R Vasanthi, who is also the party national women wing exco, secretary KM Vejaletchimy, treasurer M Reeta, and committee members P Santhi and C Palaniammal.

Their mass resignation from all party posts and membership left the wing virtually redundant with only three of its nine-member leadership committee still hanging on.

When contacted, Deepa Shanthi said the group decided to leave the party due to “internal marginalisation of Indians”.

“We can no longer stomach the wrong happenings in the party,” she told FMT today.

She said the out-going six have faxed their respective resignation letters to the party headquarters.

On last month’s Gobalakrishnan resignation, she said it clearly exposed PKR double-standards and hypocrisy in advocating its so-called multi-racial politics.

She slammed PKR leaders and candidates for betraying Indians in the country after promising so much during the last general election campaign.

“The leaders and candidates chanted Makkal Sakti mantra everywhere they wooed Indians.

“They stirred up high hopes among under-privileged Indians to envision a better life ahead by promising reforms and changes in system of governance.

“But now Indians are forgotten, sidelined and isolated lots in PKR agenda.

“PKR leaders and candidates only want Indian votes, not their problems,” said Deepa Shanthi.

The Makkal Sakti hymn, a battle cry of minority rights movement, Hindraf Makkal Sakti, was loudly sung by leaders and candidates from Pakatan Rakyat allies before Indian-dominated crowds during the election campaign in 2008.

Mesmerised by Hindraf activists and the mantra, ethnic Indians overwhelmingly backed Pakatan candidates, resulting in the coalition winning five states, one of which was re-captured by Barisan Nasional (BN) through a coup, and denying BN its parliamentary two-thirds majority.

But since then Indians are increasingly drifting away from Pakatan, with some returning to the BN fold.

Critics have blamed the incompetence of Pakatan state governments in Kedah, Penang and Selangor to address pressing Indian issues, especially Tamil schools, Hindu temples, burial grounds and Indian settlements, for causing this downslide.

Deepa Shanthi said Gobalakrishnan’s resignation was the result of marginalisation, discrimination and isolation of Indians in PKR and Pakatan.

After being a PKR loyalist and diehard supporter of PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim for 12 years, the Padang Serai MP quit the party on Jan 29 amidst differences with the party leadership.

Prior to his resignation, Gobalakrishan was already crossing swords with the current party leadership controlled by Anwar and deputy president Azmin Ali.


His trouble started late last year when he complained about the blatant electoral malpractices that occurred in the party polls.

He accused Azmin and his gang of being the main culprits behind the electoral cheatings, fraudulence and irregularities that took place.

When asked whether more women members from PKR Padang Serai division would follow her out of the party, Deepa Shanthi said she and others would not persuade anyone to quit.

“Let them voluntarily decide their own political future… we are out of it now,” she said.

Meanwhile, the division secretary, S Nagalingam, said he was unaware about the mass resignation of the women’s wing top brass.

However, he assured that he would discuss the issue immediately with the division acting chairman Johari Ismail to resolve it amicably.

“We will restructure and reactivate the women’s wing with new faces,” he told FMT.

MCLM’s 13th general election manifesto

By Raja Petra Kamarudin

I want to keep it simple.

In 27 words, I want to spell out for you the MCLM Manifesto for the 13th GE:

“End the marginalisation of all human beings, by seizing federal power through the 13th general election and, through the 13th federal government, implement the Rakyat Reform Agenda”.

That’s it.

Why all human beings, and not just all Malaysians?

Well, whether you want to admit it or not, there is a large migrant force in the country and, again, whether you want to admit it or not, they have played and are continuing to play a significant role in the development of the nation. And, like so many marginalised Malaysians, many of these migrants live in sub-human conditions.

The marginalisation of both Malaysians as well as the migrant community must stop. And, in order to do this, the Rakyat Reform Agenda (RARA) must be given effect to. And, in order to give effect to the RARA, we must install a reform-oriented government in Putrajaya post the 13th GE that will use the federal powers at its disposal to implement the RARA.

This begs two questions.

First, how do we displace BN at the 13th GE and install a pro-reform government?

Second, what exactly is comprised in the RARA?

Let’s tackle the matter of taking BN out in the next GE first.

Realistically, Pakatan Rakyat cannot do this on its own. In fact, no one political party can do this on its own. What is needed is a collective of all pro-rakyat, pro-reform political parties working together with the Third Force, made up of reform-oriented NGOs and the rakyat who are ready to work for change.

On Dec 12, 2010, MCLM launched its Barisan Rakyat Independent Candidate Initiative. To-date, we have announced the details of four independent candidates. And we intend to offer 30 in the 13th GE.

Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan have 57 seats in Parliament. As I said in my earlier article, Sabah and Sarawak are critical to our having a chance of forming a reform government in Putrajaya post 13th GE.

MCLM has been hard at work with the Sarawak National Party (Snap) in Sarawak and the United Borneo Front (UBF) in Sabah in trying to build an alliance with forces in Sabah and Sarawak. We hope in the coming days that we will be able to announce the formation of such an alliance.

Should a Snap-UBF-MCLM alliance be successfully forged, MCLM hopes to be able, with its alliance partners, to work out a further alliance with the other non-Barisan Nasional parties in Sabah, Sarawak, and Semenanjung with one objective in mind: to forge a coalition to displace Barisan Nasional in the next election and to install a pro-reform federal government in Putrajaya.

It is hoped that with these alliances in place, straight fights in the forthcoming 13th GE will be assured and that any three-corner contests are Barisan Nasional’s own doing.

Reform agenda

Let me now take you to the RARA.

It has four parts.

The first is about honouring the agreements made by our forefathers in 1963 when the Federation of Malaya entered into agreement with the independent states of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak to form the new Federation of Malaysia.

Singapore left the federation in 1965, leaving three partners: Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. Yet, today, Sabah and Sarawak are being treated as the 12th and 13th states in the Federation of Malaysia.

We must set this right.

This is the first reform that must be effected by the new reform government post 13th GE.

Second, the national institutions that were intended to serve the rakyat but which have, for some time now, served their political masters, must be restored to the rakyat. These include the judiciary, the Election Commission, the police force, and the Attorney-General, amongst others.

MCLM has a plan to restore these institutions to the rakyat during the tenure of the 13th federal government but, for obvious reasons, will not disclose the same here. This will be discussed with its alliance partners.

Third, the liberties guaranteed to the rakyat under the Federal Constitution must be restored to the rakyat during the term of the 13th federal government. This means that the ISA, the OSA, the PPPA, the UUCA and the Sedition Act must be repealed. To this end, the MCLM Reform Agenda team is at work drafting the necessary bills to facilitate the repeal of these draconian laws during the first sitting of the 13th Parliament post 13th GE.

Additionally, the MCLM Reform Agenda will also draft a Race Relations Bill and what we are now tentatively calling the Malaysian Social Inclusion Action Commission Bill, which relates to the fourth part of RARA.

Not reinventing the wheel

MCLM proposes that the affirmative action, which was to be carried through and implemented through the NEP and which failed miserably for a host of reasons, be now implemented by a Commission, comprising Malaysians of the utmost integrity, duly elected by the rakyat, and then formally appointed by the Agong.

Their task: to implement a social inclusion agenda that is presently being drafted and crafted by the MCLM Social Inclusion Agenda Team. The MCLM team has been tasked to prepare a program to comprehensively address the economic and social needs of the poorest Malaysians and migrants in the country.

This program is intended to be needs-based and not race-based.

For this program to be as comprehensive as we hope it can be, the participation of as many groups that have been working with the marginalised communities is required so that their expert knowledge may be taken up in drafting this program.

Towards this end, MCLM invites all parties concerned to address the needs of the marginalised communities to get involved in the crafting and drafting of the Social Inclusion Agenda.

That, in a nutshell, and presented in the simplest language possible, is the Agenda as well as Mission and Vision of MCLM. Whatever the political leaning or agenda of the various political parties and movements in Malaysia, there should be no resistance to what we have outlined above because our plan is all-inclusive.

And we must draw attention to the fact that the founding fathers of Malaya plus the architects of the New Economic Policy has this in mind when they came out with the two-pronged program to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots as well as that between the various races. All we are doing is to implement what was originally intended. We do not even need to reinvent the wheel.

88 Muslims nabbed for khalwat

By Zuhrin Azam Ahmad, The Star

PETALING JAYA: Eighty-eight Muslims were detained in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur for khalwat (close proximity) during the Valentine’s Day operation.

In Selangor alone, the state religious department rounded up 80 people for committing khalwat in an operation called Ops Valentine which began on Sunday night and ended early yesterday.

Department public relations officer Nurhamizah Othman said the operation, which involved officers from the local authorities and the National Anti-Drug Agency, was led by the department’s enforcement chief assistant director Mohd Rais Rashid.

Another 61 people were also hauled up during the nine-hour operation for indecent behaviour.

Nurhamizah said the operation, which began at 8pm, involved two phases – visits at recreational lakes and public parks in Selangor, and raids on budget hotels.

The Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department also conducted a similar operation in Kuala Lumpur, in which officers visited popular dating spots including Taman Tasik Titiwangsa and KLCC Park. They also raided hotels in Jalan Pudu and Jalan Raja Laut.

A department spokesman said eight couples, aged between 20 and 50, were nabbed for khalwat.

Muhyiddin doubts HRP gaining traction from ‘Interlok’

(Bernama) - JASIN, Feb 14 — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today that attempts by the Human Rights Party to exploit the Interlok novel issue was not getting the support of the majority in the Indian community.

“I see that the attempt by this splinter of Hindraf (the banned Hindu Rights Action Force) to rouse the Indians is not getting support,” he told reporters after meeting Barisan Nasional campaigners for the Merlimau by-election on March 6.

Also present were Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.

Asked about the arrest of 59 leaders and supporters of HRP in several states yesterday, he said that it was a security matter being handled by the police.

“We understand the problem and we will handle it appropriately,” Muhyiddin said.

Hishamuddin said police had acted professionally and that the 59 were arrested for breaking the law. — Bernama

Surendran: Press Release On HRP Arrests

We are gravely concerned over the arrests of 65 members and supporters of the Human Rights Party (HRP) by police on 13.2.11 for having participated in a peaceful convoy event. These were planned and concerted arrests which took place nationwide and intended to persecute and intimidate HRP members. These arrests are unlawful,oppressive and in breach of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees the Rakyat’s right to freedom of assembly and expression. Once again the government and police have displayed blatant disregard for the rule of law and democratic freedoms.

We are also disturbed that among those arrested were 5 children who were also detained and interrogated by police. This action by police is in bad faith and gross disregard of laws protecting minors. No access to lawyers was granted to any of the detainees including the children. The arrests were also carried out with excessive force and vulgar abuse was heaped upon some of those arrested. It is reported that a Malaysiakini citizen journalist was also assaulted by police.

To make things worse, 24 arrested HRP members are still being held at IPD Seremban simply because they had objected to the unlawful confiscation of their Hindraf Makkal Sakthi shirts. To continue to detain them for this reason is in complete breach of the law and demonstrates the arbitrary conduct of the police.

We call for the immediate release of the 24 persons being unjustly held at IPD Seremban. We call upon the police to release and discharge all of those arrested unconditionally. We call upon the IGP and Home Ministry to respect the Federal Constitution and the people’s right to peaceably gather. We call upon the government to cease using police powers to stifle political dissent and to persecute legitimate opponents of the Government. Finally, we demand that the Government establish the IPCMC immediately to prevent the Home Ministry and police from continuing to abuse their powers. The Malaysian Government must pay close regard to the march of democratic and civilised norms as seen in the great events in Egypt, and cease to trample upon the rights of the people.

N SURENDRAN
VICE PRESIDENT
PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT

Orang Asli tidak puas hati

Utusan Malaysia
Oleh AZRAN FITRI RAHIM

KOTA BHARU 14 Feb. - Masyarakat Orang Asli di negeri ini terkilan dan tidak berpuas hati dengan keengganan Kerajaan Pas Kelantan untuk mewartakan tanah tradisi milik mereka di Hulu Kelantan.

Wakil masyarakat tersebut, Azmi Badul berkata, sungguhpun mereka telah mengadakan pertemuan dengan Menteri Besar, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat hari ini, tetapi ia tetap gagal menyelesaikan masalah tersebut.

Beliau mendakwa, kegagalan Kerajaan Pas Kelantan mewartakan kawasan tersebut telah menyebabkan pencerobohan berlaku secara berleluasa termasuk wujudnya program Ladang Rakyat, pembalakan dan perlombongan emas sehingga menyebabkan kawasan itu semakin mengecil.

"Kami bukan berasal dari Indonesia atau negara lain. Nenek moyang kami tinggal di sini sejak beribu tahun lalu. Maknanya kami, golongan Orang Asli berasal dari sini dan kerana itu kami kesal dengan pencerobohan berleluasa seperti pembalakan, Ladang Rakyat dan lombong emas. Begitu senang sekali aktiviti ini dilakukan.

"Masalah Ladang Rakyat ini berlaku di semua kampung disebabkan mereka tidak tanya pada Orang Asli di akar umbi dan hanya berhubung dengan Orang Asli tertentu sahaja untuk mendapat kelulusan," katanya kepada pemberita selepas mengadakan pertemuan dengan Nik Abdul Aziz di kediaman rasmi Menteri Besar itu di JKR 10 di sini, hari ini.

Pada pertemuan tersebut, seramai 26 wakil masyarakat Orang Asli turut mengadakan dialog dengan Nik Abdul Aziz dan pegawai agensi-agensi Kerajaan Pas Kelantan.

Hasil pertemuan tersebut, Kerajaan Pas Kelantan berjanji untuk menubuhkan sebuah jawatankuasa bagi menyiasat masalah yang berlaku terutama membabitkan isu tanah.

Azmi berkata, pihaknya mahu supaya kawasan tradisi mereka dijadikan sebagai hak mutlak dan tidak boleh digugat oleh mana-mana pihak.

"Masalah ini kian memuncak apabila projek Ladang Rakyat bermula pada 2006. Ia tidak memberi penghormatan kepada Orang Asli yang tinggal di sini seperti di Gua Cha yang wujud sejak berpuluh ribu tahun lalu.

"Bukti kewujudan nenek moyang kami juga diceroboh. Air di kawasan kami juga tercemar.

"Kami percaya Menteri Besar dapat menyelesaikan masalah ini dan berharap penubuhan jawatankuasa ini akan benar-benar membela nasib kami," katanya.

Pertahan hak Melayu berdasarkan Perlembagaan

KUALA LUMPUR 14 Feb. – Rakyat diminta menghayati Perlembagaan dan syarat pembentukan Malaysia ba gi mengelak salah faham kedudukan kaum Melayu dan raja-raja Melayu yang dipersetujui 54 tahun lalu.

Pada masa sama, ahli akademik menuntut orang Melayu menghen tikan sengketa sesama mereka bagi memastikan usaha memperjuangkan hak Melayu dapat diperkukuhkan.

Profesor Fakulti Sains Pentadbiran dan Pengajian Polisi Universiti Tek nologi Mara (UiTM), Datuk Dr. Ramlah Adam berkata, ahli politik juga perlu berhenti mempolitikkan perkara menyentuh isu perkauman.

Katanya, sering kali isu tersebut dipolitikkan sehingga menimbulkan ketegangan yang membawa kepada perpecahan perpaduan kaum akibat daripada wujudnya prasangka.

“Ahli politik seharusnya menge luarkan idea yang bernas serta ber sifat kenegaraan dan membincang kan secara telus isu-isu pembangunan ekonomi dan pentadbiran negara,” katanya kepada Utusan Malaysia ke tika dihubungi di sini.

Beliau diminta mengulas ucaptama bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr. Ma hathir Mohamad pada Simposium Di lema Melayu Orang Melayu yang di adakan kelmarin.

Dr. Mahathir berkata, orang Me layu kini berada dalam dilema besar apabila tidak lagi boleh bercakap me ngenai kepentingan Melayu kerana bimbang dikatakan rasis dan tidak mampu mempertahankan diri sen diri kerana lebih banyak mengalah kononnya untuk mendapatkan ke amanan.

Menurut Ramlah, pertubuhan bu kan kerajaan (NGO) Melayu seperti Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Mala ysia (Perkasa) perlu memainkan pe ranan dengan lebih aktif dalam me nerangkan kepentingan dan hak is timewa orang Melayu kepada rakyat di negara ini.

Jelasnya, jika perkara tersebut da pat difahami semua pihak maka tidak seharusnya bangsa lain di negara ini berasa terancam apabila isu berhu bung kepentingan Melayu dibang kitkan berdasarkan akta yang ter kandung dalam Perlembagaan.

Sementara itu, Pensyarah Kolej Un dang-Undang, Kerajaan dan Penga jian Antarabangsa, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Mohamad Faisol Keling berkata, orang Melayu kini hilang suara untuk menuntut ke pentingan mereka sendiri kerana ter perangkap dengan permainan politik yang diuar-uarkan parti pembang kang selama ini.

Lebih malang, katanya, terdapat segelintir orang Melayu menggadai kan maruah mereka demi mencapai kepentingan peribadi.

Jelasnya, ketika orang Melayu ma sih berada dalam dilema, bangsa lain terlebih dahulu bersatu menyuara kan nasib dan hak masing-masing tanpa mengira fahaman politik.

“Justeru itu, parti politik Melayu perlu berganding bahu dan menge tepikan perbezaan ideologi untuk memperjuangkan nasib bangsa.

“Dengan mewujudkan doktrin ‘ke serakanan’ Melayu, saya percaya parti politik Melayu dapat duduk bersama untuk membincangkan nasib bangsa mereka dengan lebih telus,” katanya.

Beliau berkata, pada masa sama generasi muda harus diberi kebe basan dan dipupuk semangat untuk memperjuangkan kepentingan bang sa Melayu.

Pensyarah Kanan Kolej Peniagaan Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Dr. Haim Hilman Abdullah pula tidak menafikan sekiranya orang Melayu menggunakan peluang daripada Da sar Ekonomi Baru (DEB), kedudukan ekonomi mereka boleh melebihi da ripada yang diperuntukkan.

“Bagaimanapun sikap orang Me layu yang sering menjaga hati orang lain menyebabkan mereka tidak da pat menggunakan peluang yang di berikan oleh kerajaan.

“Apatah lagi, DEB pada ketika itu tidak difahami sepenuhnya menye babkan hanya segelintir orang Me layu mendapat manfaat daripada da sar tersebut,” katanya.

Justeru itu, Haim Hilman berkata, sudah sampai masanya mereka me nyatakan dengan lebih jelas apa yang dimahukan dalam pembangunan ekonomi negara.

Katanya, menerusi pelaksanaan da sar yang cekap serta menggunakan strategi yang ampuh diharapkan Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (Te raju) dapat membantu membangun kan ekonomi bangsa Melayu.

Kaedah laksana skim gaji minimum masih diteliti

Berita Harian
Oleh Magendran Rajagopal

Kadar munasabah bagi Semenanjung, Sabah dan Sarawak

PUTRAJAYA: Kerajaan tetap akan melaksanakan skim gaji minimum bersesuaian bagi Semenanjung Malaysia, Sabah dan Sarawak tetapi kadar selain kaedah pelaksanaannya perlu dirundingkan lebih lanjut bersama mereka yang berkepentingan supaya ia dapat diterima semua pihak apabila dikuatkuasakan.

Menteri Sumber Manusia, Datuk Dr S Subramaniam, berkata gaji minimum tidak akan dilaksanakan mengikut sektor pekerjaan, sebaliknya satu kadar gaji minimum bagi Semenanjung dan satu lagi untuk Sabah dan Sarawak akan ditetapkan, baik untuk pekerja tempatan atau asing.

“Pada sidang Parlimen Jun ini kita akan bentangkan Rang Undang-Undang Majlis Gaji Kebangsaan, yang akan mengemukakan cadangan untuk menggubal intipati Rang Undang-Undang Gaji Minimum.

“Satu Jawatankuasa Teknikal merangkumi pakar ekonomi dan isu berkaitan akan menasihati majlis ini.

“Saya yakin majlis berkenaan dapat memuktamadkan rangka asas untuk gaji minimum dengan mengambil kira pandangan semua pihak berkepentingan menjelang akhir tahun ini untuk diperhalusi oleh kementerian saya sebelum dikemukakan kepada Kabinet dan seterusnya dibentangkan di Parlimen.

“Pada umumnya, kita sudah mencapai kata sepakat mengenai lingkungan kadar gaji minimum yang munasabah tetapi saya tidak dapat mendedahkannya sekarang," katanya pada sidang media pada hari terakhir Makmal Gaji Minimum di Pusat Konvensyen Antarabangsa Putrajaya (PICC), di sini, semalam.

Makmal tiga hari anjuran Kementerian Sumber Manusia dengan kerjasama Bank Dunia itu menerima pandangan pelbagai pihak berkepentingan termasuk orang ramai, wakil pekerja, wakil majikan, pakar akademik, pakar ekonomi dan pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) berkaitan hak pekerja.

Selain itu, Dr Subramaniam berkata, agensi kerajaan berkaitan seperti Jabatan Statistik, Kementerian Kewangan dan Unit Perancang Ekonomi (EPU) turut mengemukakan data yang dapat membantu pelaksanaan gaji minimum itu memandangkan masih ada lagi isu yang dipertikaikan, terutama oleh majikan.

Beliau berkata, walaupun rakyat dan wakil pekerja mengalu-alukan penetapan gaji minimum, majikan masih berkeras dengan pendirian bahawa sebarang kenaikan gaji atau penetapan gaji minimum harus dikaitkan dengan produktiviti seseorang.

Katanya, kementeriannya akan memilih jalan tengah bagi memastikan apa saja yang dilaksanakan berkaitan gaji minimum itu nanti dapat diterima serta memuaskan hati semua pihak manakala kerajaan berhak campur tangan bagi memastikan pekerja mendapat gaji yang munasabah.

Ditanya sama ada pekerja asing seperti pembantu rumah Indonesia turut berhak mendapat gaji minimum, Dr Subramaniam berkata, itu sudah semestinya berlaku apabila negara mempunyai dasar gaji minimum tetapi buat masa sekarang, gaji mereka masih berdasarkan kadar pasaran semasa.

Kajian Bank Dunia mendapati Malaysia hanya merekodkan pertumbuhan gaji tahunan 2.6 peratus sejak 10 tahun lalu berbanding peningkatan berlipat ganda inflasi dan kos sara hidup semasa dalam tempoh yang sama, sekali gus menyebabkan pengurangan kuasa beli bagi pendapatan setiap isi rumah.

Kaji selidik Kadar Pendapatan Kebangsaan 2009 pula menunjukkan 33.8 peratus daripada 1.3 juta pekerja menerima gaji kurang RM700 sebulan, iaitu di bawah paras kemiskinan RM720 sebulan yang ditetapkan.

Anti-government demonstrations swell in Iran; clashes reported

A garbage container is set on fire as Iranian protesters stage an anti-government demonstration in Tehran on February 14.

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in downtown Tehran in defiance of the Iranian government and its security forces who beat back protesters on Monday and lobbed tear gas canisters into the crowd, witnesses said.

The wave of people who marched along Revolution Avenue remained largely silent as they walked toward the capital city's Azadi Square, though at times they clashed with Iranian security forces that tried to disperse the marchers and divert them from the square.

Security forces in uniform and plain-clothes members of the pro-government Basij militia rushed toward crowds that were chanting "Death to the dictator!" at Imam Hossein Square, the planned starting point of a scheduled rally, a witness said. Several people were hit, while most were chased away, the witness said.

Thousands of security personnel lined the avenue later on Monday, allowing the march to continue but preventing the marchers from congregating in the square, considered a rallying point by opposition groups.

Several protesters who were diverted to side-streets were beaten with batons and gassed by security officers waiting at those locations, witnesses said.

At least 15 people were detained, one witness said.

Riot police on motorcycles patrolled the streets. Some fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, the witness said.

The witnesses declined to be named for fear of retribution.

The Iranian government earlier had blocked the homes of opposition leaders after they called for rallies in support of the uprising in Egypt.

About 200 protesters -- some of whom chanted "death to Khamenei" and "death to the dictator" -- set fire to several trash bins in the capital city and threw rocks at security forces, who tried unsuccessfully to subdue them, witnesses said. The chanting protesters apparently were referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader.

Clashes also erupted in front of Tehran University, where security forces dispersed crowds by firing tear gas and paint-ball guns, a witness said. Police detained several protesters, the witness said.

Reporting from Iran proved extremely difficult Monday, as foreign journalists were denied visas, accredited journalists living in the country were restricted from covering the demonstrations and internet speeds slowed to a crawl in an apparent attempt to limit both protest organizing as well as information being transmitted out of the country.

Video uploaded to YouTube showed throngs of demonstrators marching, burning posters of Khamenei, and in one instance beating a man who appeared to try to remove a poster from the hands of protesters.

CNN can not independently verify the authenticity of the videos.

"There needs to be a commitment to open up the political system," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday after a meeting with Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Clinton said the crackdown is "an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime" that constantly "hailed" the protests in Egypt but "once again illustrate their true nature."

Last week, the Iranian government rounded up activists after opposition leaders Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi called for supporters to gather at Tehran's Azadi Square -- the site of mass protests by Iran's opposition movement after the disputed 2009 presidential elections.

Hundreds of security forces patrolled Azadi Square on Monday on foot, on motorcycles and in cars, a witness said.

"You can't take two steps without running into security personnel," the witness said. "They're all over the place."

Security forces also blocked roads leading to Moussavi's home, his opposition website, Kaleme, reported. The website also said phone lines and cell phone service to the area had been cut off.

Plain-clothes security forces blocked Moussavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, from leaving their home Monday, according to Kaleme and another opposition website, Saham News.

"This is what we've been told do," security forces said when Rahnavard asked why she couldn't leave, Saham reported. "We're sorry."

Surveillance cameras installed outside Karrubi's home have been stolen and destroyed, Kaleme reported.

About 50 riot police on motorcycles were seen heading toward Azadi Square, while 100 more were stationed at Ferdowsi Square in the city center.

Iranian authorities had warned against holding the rally, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

"We definitely see them as enemies of the revolution and spies, and we will confront them with force," Cmdr. Hossein Hamedani of the Revolutionary Guard told IRNA.

The government's stance on the rally was in stark contrast to its position in the days following the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The head of Iran's National Security Council and other Iranian authorities had lauded this development, comparing "the Egyptian Revolution with the victory of Iran's Islamic Revolution," according to Iran's state-run media.

The White House says threats to stifle dissent and mass communication suggest that Iran's government is not willing to let its people voice their views and embrace freedom.

"They are scared," then-press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday, hours after Mubarak stepped down.

"That's why they threatened to kill anybody that tries to do this," Gibbs of the Iranian government. "That's why they have shut off all measure of communication."

Over the weekend, Iranian authorities blocked the word "Bahman" -- the 11th month of the Persian calendar -- from internet searches within the country, according to an opposition website.

The measure appeared to be an effort by Iranian authorities to obstruct access to several websites that are promoting the rally -- the 25th day of Bahman, Saham News reported Saturday.

Dr M: Taib must not get into a Mubarak situation


Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamed said today Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud should have a successor ready before he considers stepping down after three decades in power.

Mahathir, himself having served as prime minister for 22 years before resigning in 2003, said it was best left to Sarawakians to decide on Taib's continued leadership.
However, he stressed, it must be an orderly process.

"It is up to the people of Sarawak to decide (when Taib should step down). I think they know best," he said at a press conference after launching the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia in Shah Alam.

NONE"But if he does step down, he must have someone to replace him, or else it will be like (Hosni) Mubarak... he stepped down and I don't see any successor to take over," he said referring to the deposed Egyptian president, fled his country last Friday after 18 days of massive protests demanding his resignation.

Earlier last week, Taib (right) "admitted" that his willingness to step down from his post, which he has held since 1981, if he could find a credible successor.

This left opposition politicians in the nation's largest state incredulous, with Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian calling it a joke.
'Muslims must stop Zionists'

Earlier, Mahathir made an impassioned plea to Muslims the world over to band together in the spirit of brotherhood and oppose Israel's genocide of the Palestinian people.

He said the continued occupation of Palestinian land and the oppression of its people only shows that the 'Zionists', with the full backing of the United States, are on course towards eradicating the very existence of Palestine.

Mahathir said the sufferings of the Palestinians over the past 60 years will mean nothing if Muslims do not do whatever they can to help in their liberation.

“Maybe we are not able to take up arms against such a powerful country, but there are other ways where we can help.

“One way is to preserve the culture of the Palestinians. To preserve their identity, we must preserve their culture.

“We must not allow the culture of the Palestinians to disappear, because that is the wish of the Zionists, to occupy all that is Palestine and erase every trace of them by violent means, where necessary,” he said.

'Give them jobs'

Mahathir meanwhile urged the Malaysian government to find ways to make it easier for Palestinian refugees in the country to get jobs.

He said he has met many who are here but are unable to earn a living because they cannot secure work permits.

“They are unable to work and earn a living, and their kids can't even go to school. I hope the government will consider issuing them work permits,” he said.

Mahathir however declined to push for Malaysia to ratify the UN convention on refugees, saying that it is problematic and prone to abuse by those who seek to take advantage of the special privileges that come with such refugee status.

When pointed out that ratifying the convention would be one of the fastest solutions to the problems faced by Palestinians in Malaysia, he simply said that he is “sure the government is aware of this”.

51 Hindraf supporters freed

PETALING JAYA: Fifty-one Hindraf Makkal Sakthi members who were arrested for participating in the People’s March for solidarity against the Barisan Nasional (BN) were released yesterday.

The movement’s pro-tem secretary-general, P Uthayakumar, said the release was carried out in stages.

“The first batch was freed in Ipoh at 3pm, followed by those in Jalan Travers in Kuala Lumpur at 8.30pm and the others at the Gombak and Seremban police stations at about 11pm,” said Uthayakumar.

However, 24 others – 18 men and six women – are still being detained at the Seremban police headquarters.

Yesterday morning, the police moved in to stop the Hindraf 16-car convoy which started in Negri Sembilan, Perak, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, with each convoy ending in another destination in the respective states. The police claim it was an illegal event.

The protest was aimed at Umno and also to pressure the government to remove the controversial Interlok novel from schools.

Among those arrested in the nationwide swoop were the movement’s information chief, S Jayathas, who was detained in Gombak, and four school-going children.

Jayathas had since been released together with the children.

Illegal interrogation

Uthayakumar said that the children, who were released at 12.15am today, were questioned by the police till the wee hours of the night.

“They were interrogated without the being accompanied by their parents, which is illegal,” said Uthayakumar.

He also refuted reports that the police arrested only 59 in the crackdown yesterday.

“According to our records, 75 were detained,” he said.

Uthayakumar also criticised the Seremban police headquarters for not providing medical assistance to Negeri Sembilan Hindraf Makkal Sakthi coordinator, R Sivakumar.

Sivakumar is said to be suffering from viral infection on his feet and his wife had lodged a report on the matter at the police headquarters.

“His wife also told me that Sivakumar’s feet are now swollen and he is unable to walk. However, the police have yet to send him to hospital; they are planning to extend his remand.



“If the police do not release him and the remaining detainees, we will hold a candle-light vigil at the Seremban police headquarters at 7pm today,” said Uthayakumar.

Uthayakumar also said that Seremban police had threatened to extend the remand of the remaining detainees to another seven days if they do not hand in their Hindraf T-shirts.

“The detainees refused to do so as the police had taken pictures of them in the T-shirts.

“The police can use the photographs as evidence in court. There is no need for them to hand over their T-shirts,” said Uthayakumar, who claimed it was an abuse of power.

When contacted, an officer from the Seremban police headquarters, who claimed anonymity, denied threatening the detainees.

“We are following all procedures in dealing with this case,” he said, adding that they have obtained the shirt from the detainees voluntarily.

Hindraf Orange t-shirt Victory Over Racist UMNO Malay-sia Polis Raja Di Malaysia

SOS: P.M. Manmohan Singh : 75 ethnic Malaysian Indians arrested on word Dalit (pariah). Hundreds more to be arrested on 27/2/2011 Hindraf Rally also on gross Malaysian government racism.


interlok


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No.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur. Tel : 03-2282 5241 
Fax : 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5245 
Website: www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com E-mail: info@humanrightspartymalaysia.com


Your Reference :
In Reply :
Date : 14/2/2011

His Excellency Mr.Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India,
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi, By Fax No: 911123019545 India- 110011 By E-mail
The Hon.Shri Vayalar Ravi Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs 9th Floor, Akbar Bhavan, Chanakya Puri,
New Delhi-110021, By fax: 91-11-24197985 India. Email: minister@moia.nic.in
Dear Sirs,
1) SOS: 75 ethnic Malaysian Indians arrested on word Dalit (pariah). Hundreds more to be arrested on 27/2/2011 Hindraf Rally also on gross Malaysian government racism.
We refer to the above matter which has been researched, documented and reported as per our Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2008, 2009 and 2010 presented at the Pravasi Bharathiya Divas, International Conference, Vigyan Bhawan New Delhi and also presented to your goodselves.
While caste based slurs are outlawed and the Dalits protected and granted affirmative action plans in mother India, the two Million over even 6th generation ethnic Indians in Malaysia are being institutionally insulted as pariahs (dalits), beetle leaf eating, black complexion, lap dogs of the British etc in a school text book called Interlok which has been made compulsory reading for some 500,000 of our O’Levels students.
In any country in the world it is the poor minorities who get affirmative action help from the government. The only exception being the One Malay-sian government whose affirmative action plans are almost all only for the rich and powerful Malay muslims and also the deserving poor Malays.
On a day to day basis these ethnic Indians are being segregated from pursuing skills training, higher education, business, professions and almost all aspects of upward mobility opportunities not by the Malay muslim Malaysian people but by the racist UMNO dominated Malay-sian government as is researched, documented and published on a day to day basis in our website www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com .
In fact Malaysian racism is also being exported on to Indian soil. For example the Malay-sian government has secured at least 60 Medical seats with full Malaysian government scholarships but for only malay muslim students at the M.S.Ramaih Medical College in Bangalore alone. Only one Malaysian Indian student has been given a government scholarship despite thousands scoring better grades than the aforesaid malay muslim students.
Some (33) Thirty-three Medical Colleges in India including Coimbatore, Annamalai University, Bangalore University, Andhra University, etc have over the last 20 years alone been derecognized to reduce the number of Malaysian Indian doctors in Malaysia who study medicine in India on their parents lifelong savings, pension gratuity, Provident, Funds Insurance etc.
In today’s newsreport in The Star 14.2.2011 at page N8 some 5,000 fully Malaysian government scholarship beneficiaries but for malay muslim only students are studying Medicine in Egypt alone out of the total number of 11,000 over malay muslims only students. Let alone the scores of thousands more full Malaysian government scholarships but for malay muslim only students in the other parts of India, Indonesia, Russia, London, Europe, USA, Canada, Japan, Austalia, New Zealand etc.
In the local Malaysian Public Universities, Matriculation and Scholarships up to 97% of the places are reserved for only the malay muslims.
Last year (2010) alone we estimated some 2,237 of top and high achieving Malaysian Indian O’Levels students alone who have been denied University and Matriculation places and government Scholarships. Some 450,000 even the 6th generation Indian poor have been made stateless, Hindu temples, cemetaries, Tamil schools and Indian villages being indiscriminately demolished and “ethnically cleansed”. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the acts of racism and segregation from womb to tomb by the Malay-sian government against the Indian poor in Malaysia.
We once again appeal to mother India to:-
1) Diplomatically engage the racist UMNO led government of Malaysia to end the aforesaid racism and segregation of especially the poor Malaysian Indians.
2) Ensure that at least 50% of the Malaysian government scholarships in India are granted to the Malaysia Indian poor students. Otherwise India denies student visas to these other race and religious based students.
3) Stop granting contracts and projects to Malaysian construction companies in India like Scomi, UEM, Puncak Niaga, IJM etc.
4) If Malaysia still insists on continuing with their majoritarian racist and religious supremacist policies, then India should consider stop buying Malaysian Palm oil and impose Trade Sanctions against Malaysia.
5) Engage Jawarharlal Nehru Indian and other Indian Universities PHd and post Phd research students to undertake studies and independently ascertain our aforesaid complaint.
6) Initiate an all party Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Indian Parliamentary Caucas on Malaysian Indians (IPCMI) and then urgently send a fact finding mission to Malaysia to also ascertain our aforesaid complaint.
7) The Indian Oveseas Affair Minister urgently visits Malaysia to engage in diplomatic engagements with Malaysia.
8 ) India High Commission of India to Malaysia urgently engages Hindraf and HRP.
Your kind concern and action in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You.
Yours Faithfully,
______________
P.Uthayakumar
Secretary General
cc:-
1) Madam Susma Swaraj Opposition Leader,India 8, Safdarjung Lane, By fax: 23017470 New Delhi -110011 Email: sushmaswaraj@hotmail.com
2) Mr.Vivek Goyal Advocate, Supreme Court of India Suite No 3, Legal Cell, Punjab Bhawan, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi-110001 Email: vivekgoyaladv@hotmail.com
3) Mr.Sudhir Aggarwal National Convenor, Human Rights Cell, BJP, By fax: +91-11-23005787 11, Ashok Road, New Delhi- 110001 Email: sudhirkunal@yahoo.com

 Unrecognized Schedule (List of Unrecognized Training Teaching Institutions)
1 ALIGARH MUSLIM UNIVERSITY (UTTAR PRADESH) – Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Aligarh MBBS
2 ANDHRA UNIVERSITY ANDHRA PRADESH – Rangaraya Medical College , Kakinda Andhra Pradesh MBBS
3 ANNAMALAI UNIVERSITY – Rajah Muthiah Medical College MBBS
4 BANGALORE UNIVERSITY – St. John’s Medical College Bangalore – Kempegowda Institute Of Medical Sciences Dr. B.R. Ambedker Medical College – Berhampur University Bhagalpur, Bihar Bhagalpur Medical College Berhampur, Orissa – MKCG Medical College Berhampur, Orissa – Sri Devarai Urs Medical College – Sri Siddharta  Medical College MBBS
5 BERHAMPUR UNIVERSITY, BHAGALPUR, BIHAR- Bhagalpur Medical College – MKCG Medical College, Berhampur Orissa – Sri Devaraj URS Medical College MBBS
6 BHAGALPUR UNIVERSITY BHAGALPUR, BIHAR. – Bhagalpur Medical College, Bhagalpur MBBS
7 BHARATHIAR UNIVERSITY COIMBATORE
TAMILNADU – Coimbatore medical College PSG Institute Of Medical Science and Research Coimbatore.
8 BIHAR UNIVERSITY MUZAFFARPUR BIHAR. – Sri Krishna Medical College Bihar MBBS
9 BOMBAY UNIVERSITY, BOMBAY, MAHARASHTRA – Lok Manya Tilak (L.M.T) Medical College Bombay
10 DELHI UNIVERSITY, DELHI – University College Of Medical Sciences, New Delhi MBBS
11 GANDHIJI UNIVERSITY, KOTTAYAM, KERALA – Medical College, Kottayam MBBS
12 GULBARGA UNIVERSITY, GULBARGA KARNATAK – Mahadevappa Rampure (M.R) Medical College,
Gulbarga (Also affiliated to Karnatak University) – Government Medical College, Bellary, Gulbarga University MBBS
13 GURU NANAK DEV UNIVERSITY AMRITSAR, PUNJAB – Amritsar Medical College MBBS
14 KAKITIYA UNIVERSITY,WARANGAL, ANDHRA PRADESH – Kakitiya Medical College Warangal MBBS
15 KARNATAKA UNIVERSITY, DHARWAD
KARNATAKA. Mahadevappa Rampure (M.R) Medical College, Gulbarga (Also Affiliated to Gulbarga University)- B.L.D.E. Association Medical College, Bijapur- Al-Ameen Medical College, BijapurMBBS
16 UNIVERSITY OF KERALA, TRIVANDRUM, KERALA – T.D. Medical College Alleppey MBBS
17 THE TAMIL NADU DR. M.G.R. MEDICAL UNIVERSITY, CHENNAI – Chingleput Medical College – Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research, Porur, Chennai, – Coimbatore Med. College – Vinayaka Mission’s Kirupananda Vaniyar Medical College MBBS
18 MADURAI KAMARAJ UNIVERSITY MADURAI, TAMILNADU – Tirunelveli Medical College
19 MAGADH UNIVERSITY GAYA, BIHAR – Magadh Medical College – Gaya Nalanda Medical College Patna MBBS
20 UNIVERSITY OF MYSORE – Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medical Sciences- Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreesshwara Medical College
21 KUVEMPU UNIVERSITY, KARNATAKA .- JJM Medical College, Davangere – J.S.S. Medical College MBBS
22 VINOBA BHAVE UNIVERSITY – Patliputra Medical College
23 GORAKHPUR UNIVERSITY – BRD Medical College
24 NAGARJUNA UNIVERSITY, NAGARJUNA NAGAR, GUNTUR ANDHRA PRADESH. – Nagarjuna Medical College – Siddhartha Medical College Vijayawada – Guntur Medical College MBBS
25 PUNJAB UNIVERSITY CHANDIGARH, PUNJAB – Dayanand Med. College Ludhiana – Punjab Medical College MBBS
26 PUNJABI UNIVERSITY PATIALA, PUNJAB- Guru Gobind Singh (SGGS) Med. College Faridkot MBBS
27 POONA UNIVERSITY, POONA – Rural Medical College, Loni MBBS
28 RAJASTHAN UNIVERSITY – J.L.N. Medical College Amjer , Rajasthan MBBS
29 RANCHI UNIVERSITY RANCHI, BIHAR – Mahatma Ghandi Memorial (M.G.M) Med. College Jamshedpur – Patliputra Medical College Dhanbad MBBS
30 RANI DURGAWATI VISHWAVIDHYALAYA, JABALPUR MADHYA PRADESH – Government Medical College Jabalpur MBBS
31 SHIVAJI UNIVERSITY KOLHAPUR, MAHARASHTRA – Miraj Med. College, Miraj MBBS
32 TAMILNADU DR. M.G.R. MEDICAL UNIVERSITY – Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Med. College MBBS
33 HIMACHAI PRADESH UNIVERSITY – Indira Ghandi Med. College, Shimla. MBBS

Najib hails interfaith panel as key to understanding

Najib (right) walks with Asia-Pacific church leaders, April 21, 2010. — file pic

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 14 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today hailed the government’s interfaith committee as key in creating a common understanding and having constructive dialogue among the different religious groups in the country.

Najib said the body was important for the resolution of religious misunderstanding and disputes in the community, although it will operate behind closed doors.

“I would like to express my support for this committee as a mechanism which can solve the problems or issues through honest and frank discussions,” he said during his address during an Interfaith Week luncheon at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) here.

He also promised to provide allocations to the committee for it to perform its tasks.

However, Najib stressed that the discussions on religious matters must be kept private because these were deemed too sensitive for public debate.

He said that if religious discussions were not monitored, they will lead to further misunderstanding among the different religious communities.

“The issues which are related to religion are very sensitive, especially in the age of ICT, where everything can be spread in a blink of an eye. That is why we need to be careful because if the matter is discussed in public, it will lead to criticisms and opinions which may hurt others,” he said.

Najib said there has always been sceptics who believed the country would not be able prosper due to the diversity of racial makeup.

“We have been able to prove the sceptics wrong every time. In May 13 1969, we were able to overcome the difficulties and create a nation which is more peaceful and harmonious,” he said.

The prime minister then asked the public to be more patient with the interfaith committee and not expect the group to resolve all its issues within a short span of time.

There must be a paradigm shift in the public sphere, Najib said, adding that Malaysians must accept the differences among the communities.

“Empathy is very important because this will open one’s mind to see not only from our point of view but from the perspective of others.

“If we are close-minded and do not feel empathy, then we will not be able to find the points of similarities among us,” he said.

Najib said that the country’s major religions have always taught its followers to love and forgive instead of hate.

“In our religion, Allah asks us to be fair and just not only Muslims but also to others. This is the true teachings of Islam,” he said.

Interfaith dialogue at the sub-committee level was scheduled to start on April 13 last year but was called off at the last minute after the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) took offence at reported remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Ties between the Muslim and non-Muslim camps within the committee were further strained after the Council of Muftis contested the committee’s name and demanded a change.

The muftis had unanimously voted for a name change demand on April 3, claiming its previous name would cause confusion among Malaysian Muslims.

Despite the hiccups, Najib recently pledged full administrative and financial support to revive the stillborn interfaith committee.

He also met all 35 members of the newly renamed Committee for the Understanding and Harmony Among Religious Adherents in September last year.

However, the Najib administration again came under fire from religious groups after an aide had reportedly instructed church officials to remove crucifixes and other overt Christian symbols from being displayed at the party grounds in Bukit Nanas before the PM’s visit for a Christmas function.