Share |

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hindraf protesters play cat-and-mouse game



HRP leaders detained under Police, Societies Act

(Malaysiakini) Human Rights Party (HRP) legal advisor M Manoharan says P Uthayakumar and other Hindraf leaders arrested today are being detained under the Police Act and the Societies Act.

hindraf btn 151209 manoharanAt a press conference at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today, Manoharan (right) said the Hindraf leaders were presently at Jinjang police station, and being investigated under section 27(5) of the Police Act on participating in an unlawful assembly and section 45(1) of the Societies Act in relation to an unregistered organisation.

The lawyer, who is also Kota Alam Shah assemblyperson, added that HRP information chief S Jayathas and nine other state HRP leaders were being held in Jinjang, along with number of HRP and Hindraf supporters.

He added that a further number of supporters and others are being detained at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) in Jalan Semarak.
Manoharan could not say what the others were being detained for.

"I do not know why they were being detained. We still have not started any rally ... We just wanted to assemble peacefully to go to the Dang Wangi police station to lodge a report against the novel Interlok.

hindraf arrests klcc“There was no demonstration. We only came together to make the police report," he told Malaysiakini after the press conference.

Manoharan blasted the police for arresting the leaders and supporters without giving the reasons or justification for their arrests.

He also said that the police seized Jayathas' shirt, that bore the HRP logo.

Jayathas, whom the police later assured would be released, said he will not leave until they return his shirt, said Manoharan.

Selangor slams arrests


Meanwhile, the Selangor government says Selangor residents of all races strongly condemned the arrests made by police prior to the gathering at KLCC today.

hindraf rally arrestIn a statement today, exco member Xavier Jayakumar the state government urged the Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to free Uthayakumar and the others "immediately" and unconditionally.

"Such large-scale arrests is clearly contrary to the right to assembly as provided for in Article 10 of the federal constitution, the supreme law of the country.

"The Umno-BN government should respect that the Indian community wishes to express their stand on the issue of the novel 'Interlok' by holding a peaceful rally outside KLCC," said Jayakumar.

"We want to emphasise that the International community is watching the government's actions in dealing with the people.

"The government must be reminded that the rise of the people in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and now in Libya is provoked by the dissatisfaction of the people that has long been oppressed by the government," he said.

Arrested for being Indian

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) also joined the chorus of condemnation over the heavy-handed police action.

rally proceeds to Pudu IPK“We also have reliable information that many others were arrested simply because they were Indians,” said PSM Secretary General S Arutchelvan in a statement today.

Arutchelvan blasted Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration for their blatant hypocrisy over the arrests just days after lending their support for the Lybian demonstrations.

“Just two days ago, Muhyiddin Yassin called on Libya's leaders to allow the people there to demonstrate peacefully.

rally proceeds to Pudu IPK police cordon“Why then are Hindraf and HRP supporters not allowed to exercise their freedom of speech and assembly here? Why this double standards?” said Arutchelvan.

He pointed out that HRP had already notified the police about the event and of their intentions to proceed to Dang Wangi to lodge a police report.

“If the police would have allowed this peaceful action to be done and negotiated with the organisers, then all this violence, road-blocks and arrest would be unnecessary,” he said.

UN slaps sanctions on Libyan regime





The UN Security Council has unanimously imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, members of his family and inner circle.


Saturday's resolution adopted by the 15-nation council also called for the immediate referral of the deadly crackdown against anti-government demonstrators in Libya to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for investigation and possible prosecution of anyone responsible for killing civilians.

The council demanded an "immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population" in Libya.

It called for Libyan authorities to act "with restraint, respect human rights and international humanitarian law," and facilitate immediate access for international human rights monitors.

The council called for an immediate lifting of restrictions "on all forms of media" and for the safety of foreign nationals to be assured and their departure facilitated.

Under the arms embargo, UN members will take immediate and necessary measures to "prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Libya ... of arms and related material of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment".

Libya would be prohibited from importing all arms and related material and all UN members should prevent their nationals from exporting them.

The travel ban and assets will target the 68-year-old Libyan leader, his adult children, other family members and top defence and intelligence officials accused of playing a role in the bloodshed.

'Moral support'

Sixteen names are on the sanctions list.

The council said its actions were aimed at "deploring the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators".

And members expressed concern about civilian deaths, "rejecting unequivocally the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan government".

The day was consumed mainly with haggling behind closed doors over language that would refer Libya's violent crackdown on protesters to the International Criminal Court, or ICC, at the Hague.

All 15 nations on the council ultimately approved referring the case to the permanent war crimes tribunal.

Council members did not consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and no UN-sanctioned military action was planned.

The Libyan deputy UN envoy described the adoption of sanctions as "moral support" to those resisting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, one of the first Libyan diplomats to denounce Gaddafi and defect, said the council's move "will help put an end to this fascist regime which is still in existence in Tripoli".

Source: Agencies

Hindraf anti-racism/Interlok rally: more arrests



Hindraf rally: Protestors move on to Jinjang

Police arrested Human Rights Party (HRP) leader P Uthayakumar and erected roadblocks around Kuala Lumpur in the bid to stop an 'anti-racism' rally organised by it and its affiliate Hindraf in the city centre today.

The rally is also aimed at protesting the controversial 'Interlok' novel by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, which has been criticised for containing racial slurs and stereotypes against the Indian and Chinese communities.

Uthayakumar (right), who has been arrested numerous times, including as Hindraf leader, and spent 18 months in detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA), was today intercepted by the police as he left his apartment in Pantai Hillpark, Kuala Lumpur, at 8am.


“He was handcuffed and taken in a white van,” said Uthayakumar's younger brother, Waythamoorthy from London in an SMS message to Malaysiakini.


According to HRP information chief S Jayathas, Uthayakumar was been brought to the Sentul district police headquarters for questioning.

It is understood that the march is to begin now from the Renaissance Hotel, which is located about one kilometre away from the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).

In addition to Uthayakumar, scores of other persons suspected of being participants in the rally have also been taken in by the police this morning - seven at KLCC and 10 at the Renaissance Hotel.

Their identities have not yet been ascertained.

As at 10am, it has been estimated that about 100 people have been arrested in various parts of Kuala Lumpur.

The police appeared to be stopping and arresting anyone suspected as Hindraf supporters, especially Indians, who were found walking in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Many by-passers have complained that they have been stopped and their bags checked despite having nothing to do with the rally.

Kuala Lumpur locked down

Meanwhile, the police have locked down Kuala Lumpur city centre ahead of the planned demonstration.

Roadblocks, some set up as early as 5.30am, were reported on Jalan Ampang, Jalan Kepong, Jalan Cheras, Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Duta–Sungai Buloh Highway, among others.

The march was supposed to have begun at the KLCC, but plans were apparently modified following the large presence of police personnel this morning. It was announced that the march would begin at the Renaissance Hotel at the Jalan Ampang-Jalan Sultan Ismail junction.

Meanwhile, an estimated 200 uniformed and plainclothed police officers - including four trucks with Light Strike Force (LSF) personnel - have been stationed on Jalan Ampang between Avenue K and the Petronas Twin Towers.

Reporters have been told to stay put near the bus stop on the KLCC side, but such directions are intermittently broken when a commotion breaks out elsewhere.

Around 9.15am, about 80 in groups of 10 to 30 HRP/Hindraf supporters marched from Renaissance Hotel towards KLCC, shouting "Makkal Sakthi" and other slogans - were arrested in front of Maya Hotel.


Two Malaysiakini citizen journalists (CJs) Mathavan Velayutham and Thiagarajan Marrapan were arrested while shooting footage of the protest. This was despite the CJs producing their press tags to the cops and wearing their 'Citizen Journalist' T-shirts.

A reporter from Tamil daily Makkal Osai was also among those taken in while reporting on the event.

Kedah HRP chief Ramu Ramasamy and a Penang HRP leader were arrested. Both have been brought to the Sentul district police headquarters.

HRP information chief Jayathas was arrested around 10am and brought to the Jinjang district police headquarters.

According to a police source, 78 people had been arrested up until mid-morning.

Amidst the commotion, a small group of students belonging to the Association of Tamil Students Malaysia, held a small demonstration on Jalan Mayang, off Jalan Ampang, near the Australian High Commission against the Interlok novel. They were dispersed without any arrests.

By about 10.20am, activity at the KLCC area appeared to have died down considerably with police personnel standing down.

The action by this time had moved to the Kootu Malai Pillayar Temple on Jalan Pudu near the Pudu bus station, where about HRP supporters and members have gathered and shouted 'Hindraf Velga!' 'Haramkan Interlok!' and 'Jangan hina kaum India' (Don't insult the Indian community!)


March proceeds to Pudu IPK

They carried banners supporting their anti-racism and anti-Interlok campaign.

After chanting for about half an hour, they proceeded to march towards the Kuala Lumpur contingent police headquarters.

They included about six disabled persons and Kota Alam Shah state representataive M Manoharan.

By about 11.45am, the crowd had swelled to a procession of about 200 moving towards the contingent police headquarters.

Water cannons were seen on standby.

During the march, the police drove two patrol cars into the crowd, forcing the HRP/Hindraf supporters to break up into two lines and onto the sidewalks flanking the road.

Upon arrival at the contingent police headquarters, the demonstrators demanded that Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Amar Singh release those arrested within the hour. Malaysiakini was informed that at least 183 have been arrested over the aborted HRP/Hindraf rally.

Or else, said the demonstrators, they would camp outside the Pudu police station. They made the assurance, however, that they would not block traffic.

Around 12.30pm, the bulk of the crowd at the contingent police headquarters dispersed, leaving behind only about 20 to continue the protest.

Many were headed in the direction of Jinjang district police headquarters, where HRP/Hindraf leader Uthayakumar has been detained.

It was reported that police checkpoints were set up on the way to the station.

Half a dozen police personnel have already stationed themselves at the gate in front of the Jinjang police station in anticipation of the crowd.

A crowd across from the station starts to grow.

Rally 2011 video

Uthayakumar arrested ahead of Hindraf protest

(Malaysiakini) Police arrested Human Rights Party (HRP) leader P Uthayakumar and about 109 others and erected roadblocks around Kuala Lumpur in the bid to stop an 'anti-racism' rally organised by it and its affiliate Hindraf in the city centre today.
NONEThe rally was also aimed at protesting the controversial 'Interlok' novel by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, which has been criticised for containing racial slurs and stereotypes against the Indian and Chinese communities.
Uthayakumar (right), who has been arrested numerous times, including as leader of the banned Hindraf, and spent 18 months in detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA), was today intercepted by the police as he left his apartment in Pantai Hillpark, Kuala Lumpur, at 8am.

“He was handcuffed and taken in a white van,” said Uthayakumar's younger brother, Waythamoorthy from London in an SMS message to Malaysiakini.

hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 4According to HRP information chief S Jayathas, Uthayakumar was been brought to the Sentul district police headquarters for questioning.
It is understood that the march is to begin now from the Renaissance Hotel, which is located about one kilometre away from the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).
In addition to Uthayakumar, scores of other persons suspected of being participants in the rally have also been taken in by the police this morning - seven at KLCC and 10 at the Renaissance Hotel.
hindraf rally with copsTheir identities have not yet been ascertained.
As at 10am, it has been estimated that about 100 people have been arrested in various parts of Kuala Lumpur.
The police appeared to be stopping and arresting anyone suspected as Hindraf supporters, especially Indians, who were found walking in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
Many by-passers have complained that they have been stopped and their bags checked despite having nothing to do with the rally.
Kuala Lumpur locked down
hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 3Meanwhile, the police have locked down Kuala Lumpur city centre ahead of the planned demonstration.

Roadblocks, some set up as early as 5.30am, were reported on Jalan Ampang, Jalan Kepong, Jalan Cheras, Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Duta–Sungai Buloh Highway, among others.
The march was supposed to have begun at the KLCC, but plans were apparently modified following the large presence of police personnel this morning. It was announced that the march would begin at the Renaissance Hotel at the Jalan Ampang-Jalan Sultan Ismail junction.
hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 6Meanwhile, an estimated 200 uniformed and plainclothed police officers - including four trucks with Light Strike Force (LSF) personnel - have been stationed on Jalan Ampang between Avenue K and the Petronas Twin Towers.
Reporters were told to stay put near the bus stop on the KLCC side, but such directions are intermittently broken when a commotion breaks out elsewhere.
Around 9.15am, about 80 in groups of 10 to 30 HRP/Hindraf supporters marched from Renaissance Hotel towards KLCC, shouting "Makkal Sakthi" and other slogans - were arrested in front of Maya Hotel.
hindraf mass rally against umno and interlok 270211 5
Two Malaysiakini citizen journalists (CJs), Mathavan Velayutham and Thiagarajan Marrapan, were arrested while shooting footage of the protest.
This was despite the CJs producing their press tags to the cops and wearing their 'Citizen Journalist' T-shirts.
A reporter from Tamil daily Makkal Osai was also among those taken in while reporting on the event.
Kedah HRP chief Ramu Ramasamy and a Penang HRP leader were arrested. Both have been brought to the Sentul district police headquarters.
Former ISA detainee M Manoharan later clarified that Ramasamy and the Penang HRP leader were at Jinjang district police station.
HRP information chief Jayathas was then arrested around 10am and brought to the Jinjang district police headquarters.
According to a police source, 78 people had been arrested up until mid-morning.
hindraf arrests klccAmidst the commotion, a small group of students belonging to the Association of Tamil Students Malaysia, held a small demonstration on Jalan Mayang, off Jalan Ampang, near the Australian High Commission against the Interlok novel. They were dispersed without any arrests.
By about 10.20am, activity at the KLCC area appeared to have died down considerably with police personnel standing down.
The action by this time had moved to the Kootu Malai Pillayar Temple on Jalan Pudu near the Pudu bus station, where about HRP supporters and members have gathered and shouted 'Hindraf Valge!' (Long live Hindraf!) 'Haramkan Interlok!' and 'Jangan hina kaum India' (Don't insult the Indian community!)
March proceeds to Pudu IPK

hindraf rally marchersThey carried banners supporting their anti-racism and anti-Interlok campaign.

After chanting for about half an hour, they proceeded to march towards the Kuala Lumpur contingent police headquarters.

They included about six disabled persons and Manoharan, who is also Kota Alam Shah state representataive.

rally proceeds to Pudu IPK police cordonBy about 11.45am, the crowd had swelled to a procession of about 200 moving towards the contingent police headquarters.
Water cannon and other Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) trucks were seen on standby at the headquarters.
During the march, the police drove two patrol cars into the crowd, forcing the HRP/Hindraf supporters to break up into two lines and onto the sidewalks flanking the road.
rally proceeds to Pudu IPKUpon arrival at the contingent police headquarters, the demonstrators demanded that Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Amar Singh release those arrested within the hour.
As of 11.40am, according to a police source, at least 183 have been arrested over the aborted HRP/Hindraf rally.
If the police refused to heed their demands, said the demonstrators, they would camp outside the police station. They made the assurance, however, that they would not block traffic.
At a press conference in the police station, meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur police chief Zulkifli Abdullah (left) clarified the number of those arrested was 109, not 183 as earlier reported.
hrp rally 270211 kl cpo zulkifli abdullah press conference183 was the total number of those picked up in the police operation, including by-passers and curious onlookers. These were later released.
Those who were held over involvement in the rally were from the ages 18 to 66 years old, and included eight women and eight HRP leaders, said Zulkifli.
Explaining the police action, Zulkifli (right) said: "We were forced to act to stop those who were planning the gathering as they were still adamant to proceed despite the permit for the gathering being rejected," he said.
Zulkifli also said two men had claimed to be alternative media journalist.
Malaysiakini understands that a group of unidentified persons posing as Malaysiakini journalists with counterfeit press tags, were spotted trying to pick fights with the police at the Kuala Lumpur contingent police station, claiming they were from the news portal.
All of those arrested were being detained and investigated under Section 27(5) of the Police Act, for participation in an illegal assembly, said Zulkifli.

He added that the eight identified as leaders of the HRP were also being investigated under section 45(1) of the Societies Act for being involved in an illegal organisation.
The Kuala Lumpur police chief said that he was disappointed with the people behind the gathering who had proceeded despite being told not to.

jinjang station gates 4pmZulkifli said further that he is also grateful to 13 Indian Ngo leaders who had volunteered to talk the Indian community out of participating in the illlegal gathering today.
Around 12.30pm, the bulk of the crowd at the contingent police headquarters dispersed, leaving behind only about 20 to continue the protest.
Many headed in the direction of Jinjang district police headquarters, where HRP leader Uthayakumar has been detained.
jinjang station gates 4It was reported that police checkpoints were set up on the way to the station.
About half a dozen FRU personnel and two dozen uniformed police officers had stationed themselves at the gate inside the Jinjang police station in anticipation of the crowd.
By 4pm the crowd across from the station had grown to over 200, shouting 'Hindraf vaalga!' and other slogans.
'We will stay here until Uthaya is released!' many of them were heard saying.

Live hindraf Rally 2011

Sarawak BN may fall like Berlin Wall, says British anti-Taib crusader














































































KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Barisan Nasional (BN) has held on to power in Sarawak through intimidation, but could still fall just like the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall, said the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has turned into an internet and radio crusader against Tan Sri Taib Mahmud’s administration.

Clare Rewcastle Brown, who operates radio station Radio Free Sarawak and blog Sarawak Report from Covent Garden in London, told The Malaysian Insider that “every person I have spoken to is scared of the fact that the BN government will know how they vote.”

But she said that even though voters “face naked threats that BN will withdraw vital services from longhouses that vote against them,” the tide of opinion can subtly change and “wash away the foundations of power without anybody quite realising.”

“The collapse of the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall took the world by surprise and almost happened overnight,” she said, recalling her experience as a reporter with Sky TV when the wall fell in 1989.

“I remember the shock of it all, as the grip of communist power had seemed so immovable for so long,” said the 51-year-old investigative journalist who began her career with the BBC World Service in 1983.

The Berlin Wall was the physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain, a symbolic partition between the communist and democratic halves of Europe until it fell in 1989, marking the end of the Cold War era and then erosion of communism globally.

Rewcastle-Brown made the comparison between the Iron Curtain and Sarawak in an interview with The Malaysian Insider today.

In the interview, she said that Radio Free Sarawak, which broadcasts to the state over short wave, a long range band of frequencies, has fed what “seems to be such a hunger for news in the jungles of Sarawak ... that they seem to be back tuning in to these old fashioned radios.”

The two media that she publicly took responsibility for on Wednesday, have repeatedly accused Abdul Taib and his administration of corruption and illegitimate political practices.

However, these allegations have also been made by others before and have not prevented the 74-year-old chief minister from holding power for 30 years.

Rewcastle Brown, who was born and raised in Sarawak until the age of eight, added that the opposition parties in the state have also realised that they need to unite and “are now putting normal political bickering and personal ambitions aside.”

Although Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties had ensured straight fights across the peninsular in the 2008 general election, Sarawak saw 15 state seats that were contested by more than two candidates in the 2006 state polls.

However, with state polls expected in April and the assembly’s mandate expiring in July, DAP, PKR, PAS and also the Sarawak Nasional Party (SNAP) have begun negotiations over seat allocations in a bid to ensure one-on-one battles with BN.

Anwar, Nik Aziz traitors to Malays, says Dr M

Two prominent opposition leaders are again in the crosshairs of the acerbic Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

KAMPUNG GAJAH (Perak): Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim and PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat are traitors to the Malays because they are willing to split the community for politics.

He said that Anwar was prepared to cause rifts among the Malays to get support to become prime minister while Nik Aziz regarded people who strived for their community as non-Muslims.

“I don’t know from which hadith (sayings and examples of Prophet Muhammad) or part of the Quran that Nik Aziz got this,” the former prime minister said at a gathering organised by the Perak Malay non-governmental organisation Pekasa.

According to Nik Aziz, said Mahathir, a Malay was not a Muslim unless he was a member of PAS.

“Is this the statement of a sane person?” Mahathir asked.

He added that the Kelantan menteri besar had even said that he was sad that he was born a Malay just to get the sympathy and support of the other communities.

-Bernama

Withdrawal of Interlok Mandatory

We now have access to the Official “Guidelines for the writing of textbooks” issued by the Text book division of the MOE itself, and on this basis there is no question that failure to observe these guidelines will make it mandatory that the work MUST be withdrawn as a textbook.


By Dr Collin Abraham

We are grateful once again for the opportunity to call for the total withdrawal of Interlok for the main objection stated from day one, namely, that the book does not meet the stringent pedagogic requirements for a text book.

Earlier objections were essentially on the grounds of the failure to identify specific theoretical frameworks, validity and reliability of the book material and methodology.

However we now have access to the Official “Guidelines for the writing of textbooks” issued by the Text book division of the MOE itself, and on this basis there is no question that failure to observe these guidelines will make it mandatory that the work MUST be withdrawn as a textbook.

The Chairman of the Panel, appointed to advise on the status of the book, is virtually certain to have pointed out to members that almost ALL the guidelines for a text book WERE NOT OBSERVED in the publication of INTERLOK.

The following criteria from the Guidelines should make this position absolutely clear.
1. Firstly and more specifically “Sensitive Elements and Negative elements” such as stipulated below MUST NOT be included.

“Matters which may be misconstrued, discriminatory, deemed insulting or offensive as pertaining to race, religion, culture, gender age or occupation.”

“Matters pertaining to attitudes, thoughts, and behaviour which are contrary to values in the society”

The book in fact abounds with a multitude of such sensitive and negative elements to the extent that it has been referred to as “a classic work of Malaysian racism”.
2. Other matters that MUST BE observed include the inculcation of “noble values and positive thinking”.
The ethnic and racial stereotyping that runs through the entire work totally negates and ignores this guideline.

3. The factual material must be “accurate in content and be consistent” The facts must be “valid based on ICT methods and must be reliable in theory and practice”.
The work is a fictional and imaginative novel and therefore these dimensions do not apply in the first place.
4. An important dimension repeatedly emphasized the need for critical thinking provisions stated as follows;
This should be “the platform for teaching and learning so as to stimulate and develop pupil’s imagination through thinking strategies and creative thinking”.
The book makes no attempt whatsoever to adhere to this guideline.


It would be tedious to comment on the very many submissions that the book should be retained. There may however be some reservations as to the implications and negative impact of the total withdrawal of this book in the context of national integration.
On the other hand, the government will be judged on the basis of making the final decision enhancing good governance with the important proviso that this unfortunate situation does not happen again.

The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil

by Robert Fisk, Independent.co.uk


The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.

Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.

But now a warning. It’s not over. We are experiencing today that warm, slightly clammy feeling before the thunder and lightning break out. Gaddafi’s final horror movie has yet to end, albeit with that terrible mix of farce and blood to which we are accustomed in the Middle East. And his impending doom is, needless to say, throwing into ever-sharper perspective the vile fawning of our own potentates. Berlusconi – who in many respects is already a ghastly mockery of Gaddafi himself – and Sarkozy, and Lord Blair of Isfahan are turning out to look even shabbier than we believed. Those faith-based eyes blessed Gaddafi the murderer. I did write at the time that Blair and Straw had forgotten the “whoops” factor, the reality that this weird light bulb was absolutely bonkers and would undoubtedly perform some other terrible act to shame our masters. And sure enough, every journalist is now going to have to add “Mr Blair’s office did not return our call” to his laptop keyboard.

Everyone is now telling Egypt to follow the “Turkish model” – this seems to involve a pleasant cocktail of democracy and carefully controlled Islam. But if this is true, Egypt’s army will keep an unwanted, undemocratic eye on its people for decades to come. As lawyer Ali Ezzatyar has pointed out, “Egypt’s military leaders have spoken of threats to the “Egyptian way of life”… in a not so subtle reference to threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be seen as a page taken from the Turkish playbook.” The Turkish army turned up as kingmakers four times in modern Turkish history. And who but the Egyptian army, makers of Nasser, constructors of Sadat, got rid of the ex-army general Mubarak when the game was up?

And democracy – the real, unfettered, flawed but brilliant version which we in the West have so far lovingly (and rightly) cultivated for ourselves – is not going, in the Arab world, to rest happy with Israel’s pernicious treatment of Palestinians and its land theft in the West Bank. Now no longer the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel argued desperately – in company with Saudi Arabia, for heaven’s sake – that it was necessary to maintain Mubarak’s tyranny. It pressed the Muslim Brotherhood button in Washington and built up the usual Israeli lobby fear quotient to push Obama and La Clinton off the rails yet again. Faced with pro-democracy protesters in the lands of oppression, they duly went on backing the oppressors until it was too late. I love “orderly transition”. The “order” bit says it all. Only Israeli journalist Gideon Levy got it right. “We should be saying ‘Mabrouk Misr!’,” he said. Congratulations, Egypt!

Yet in Bahrain, I had a depressing experience. King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman have been bowing to their 70 per cent (80 per cent?) Shia population, opening prison doors, promising constitutional reforms. So I asked a government official in Manama if this was really possible. Why not have an elected prime minister instead of a member of the Khalifa royal family? He clucked his tongue. “Impossible,” he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC – the Gulf Co-operation Council – read Saudi Arabia. And here, I am afraid, our tale grows darker.

We pay too little attention to this autocratic band of robber princes; we think they are archaic, illiterate in modern politics, wealthy (yes, “beyond the dreams of Croesus”, etc), and we laughed when King Abdullah offered to make up any fall in bailouts from Washington to the Mubarak regime, and we laugh now when the old king promises $36bn to his citizens to keep their mouths shut. But this is no laughing matter. The Arab revolt which finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places and corruption. Watch out.

But a lighter note. I’ve been hunting for the most memorable quotations from the Arab revolution. We’ve had “Come back, Mr President, we were only kidding” from an anti-Mubarak demonstrator. And we’ve had Saif el-Islam el-Gaddafi’s Goebbels-style speech: “Forget oil, forget gas – there will be civil war.” My very own favourite, selfish and personal quotation came when my old friend Tom Friedman of The New York Times joined me for breakfast in Cairo with his usual disarming smile. “Fisky,” he said, “this Egyptian came up to me in Tahrir Square yesterday, and asked me if I was Robert Fisk!” Now that’s what I call a revolution.

97 Quit PKR

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- Ninety-seven Parti Keadilan Rakyat members from Bayan Baru and Tanjong here have left the part, expressing disappointment with the leadership.

They applied Saturday to join KIMMA, the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress which is an associate member of Umno.

Their spokesman, Mohamed Ibrahim A. Siahoo, said the PKR leadership had not kept its promise to serve the people, especially Indian Muslims.

"Our decision is rational and not forced by any party, he told reporters after he and the others submitted their application forms to join KIMMA.

"All promises to look after the welfare of Indian Muslims have not been kept and we believe that KIMMA can strive for our cause," he added.

He said the group included youth and women leaders.

KIMMA president Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader said he understood the problems that Indian Muslims had in opposition parties.

"I urge them to join KIMMA because only KIMMA can represent the interests of Indian Muslims," he said.

Chairman of the Penang Umno liaison committee Datuk Zainal Abdidin Osman, who was present, congratulated the group for leaving the opposition party.