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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gunfire erupts in Libyan capital

Sustained gunfire has erupted in the centre of Libya's capital, Tripoli, an area that has so far been relatively free of violence.

It was unclear who was carrying out the shooting, which started at about 5:45am (0345 GMT) on Sunday, or what caused it, Anita McNaught, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital, said.

Automatic weapon rounds, some of it heavy calibre, echoed around central Tripoli along with pro-government chants and whistling and a cacophony of car horns as vehicles sped through the vicinity, witnesses said.

However, a government spokesman denied any fighting was under way in Tripoli. "I assure you, I assure you, I assure you, I assure you, there is no fighting going on in Tripoli," Mussa Ibrahim told the Reuters news agency.

"Everything is safe. Tripoli is 100 per cent under control. What you are hearing is celebratory fireworks. People are in the streets, dancing in the square."

Tripoli is the main stronghold of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is facing a sustained rebellion that has posed the biggest challenge ever to his more than 41-year-old rule.

The show of force comes a day after anti-government fighters in the western Libyan town of Az-Zawiyah repelled repeated attacks by forces loyal to Gaddafi.

Gaddafi's forces encircled Az-Zawiyah on Saturday, manning checkpoints about 3km from the centre after fighters pushed them back in fierce fighting earlier in the day.

Troops later mounted a second attack on the town, which lies just 50km west of the capital Tripoli, but were again pushed back.

More than 30 people were killed and as many as 200 people were said to have been wounded in the fighting that drove government forces out of the town.

Youssef Shagan, a spokesman for the fighters in the town, said that Gaddafi's forces had entered Az-Zawiyah at 6am (04:00 GMT) with hundreds of soldier, along with tanks and armoured vehicles.

Gaddafi's forces had broken through defences into Martyrs' Square, in the heart of the town, but hours later were pushed back.

"Our people fought back ... We have won for now and civilians are gathering in the square," Shagan said.

National council

Elsewhere, anti-government forces were in control of Ras Lanuf, which houses a major refinery and petrochemical complex, and the nearby town of Bin Jawad.

The area is significant because it takes the fighters closer to Sirte, a Gaddafi stronghold.

Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent who had visited the area, said: "I have to say on the road all I've seen was convoy after convoy - a mixture of volunteers, fighters and regular soldiers making their way to Ras Lanuf and past Ras Lanuf.

"They are regrouping there. They are very proud of all the gains they've made - they say they are going straight to Sirte, and after Sirte to Tripoli."

A report from the Reuters news agency said that one of its correspondents was shown the wreckage of a warplane in the area of Ras Lanuf that fighters said they had shot down.

In Benghazi, Libya's second city which is in the hands of anti-government forces, the self-declared opposition national council, held their first meeting on Saturday.

The 30-member body is headed by Mustafa Abdel Jalil, a former justice minister who defected from Gaddafi's camp after protests against the Libyan leader's rule erupted two weeks ago. The meeting was held in secret.

The group later announced it had set up a crisis committee, to be headed by Mahmoud Jebril, one of a group of intellectuals who had called for a democratic state.

Omar Hariri, one of the officers who took part in Gaddafi's 1969 coup but was later jailed, was appointed head of military affairs and Ali Essawi, a former ambassador to India who quit last month, was put in charge of foreign affairs.

'Call to arms'

Tony Birtley, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Benghazi, said that resistance to Gaddafi's rule was strengthening.

"I think they're coming to the realisation that the outcome is in their own hands. They did think that Gaddafi would leave peacefully, they then thought that the international community would take steps and force him out," he said.

"I think the pendulum has swung now and they believe it is in their own hands.

"They are answering the call to arms, they are coming from all over eastern Libya, bringing their weapons, getting whatever training they can and moving on."

Gaddafi has had little success in taking back rebel-held territory - which includes the entire eastern half of the country and some cities near the capital - but a number of cities, including Tripoli, remain firmly under his control.

Human rights groups say about 6,000 people have been killed since protests against Gaddafi erupted on February 15. The UN says that more than 1,000 have died.

Western powers say they are studying a no-fly zone against Libya to prevent attacks on civilians.

But diplomats say that no official request for such action has been made to the UN Security Council.

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

FRIENDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS SEEKS HELP TO RAISE BAIL FUNDS

IMG_5375
Press Conference Media Statement
6th March 2011

RE : FRIENDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS SEEKS HELP TO RAISE BAIL FUNDS 

Trustees:

Pathmarajah & Co
Chartered Accountants, Certified Public Accountants

MBB Account No: 514075011112

Contact: Mr.Vijay -0133407197
           Dr.Paraman-0192358284

On the 27th February 2011 Hindraf Makkal Sakthi organised and mobilised a Solidarity March Against UMNO Racism in the heart of KL to lodge a police report on the Institutionalised Racism suffered by 12 million non-Malays in Malaysia. Unfortunately Police began their crack down, intimidation, harassment for 2 weeks prior to the march.

Despite all obstacles more than 3,000 people managed to enter Kuala Lumpur though they were scattered all over KL and in the outskirts. It is disappointing to see this UMNO led Government clamped down on the expression of legitimate grouses of the people resulting in the arrest of about 300 people.

The Minority Malaysian Indian communities have suffered tremendously under the racist policies implemented by the UMNO led Government since independence and their condition is worsened as most are from low paid working class group. This community is left with no other choice but to raise their grouses in legitimate ways. One such ways is the recently organised Solidarity March.

The Government realises that Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and the Human Rights Party is opening a new dimension in the outlook of Malaysians in the area of human rights and have changed the political equations, and thus as usual have taken the most drastic method of clamping down these Human Rights Defenders by pressing criminal charges upon them. This is a blatant abuse of power and Human rights.


We, FRIENDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, are appalled by this act of targeting Key leaders and their well wishers in the hope that this democratic movement could be clamped forever. We feel sorry for those persons who were detained and some who suffered injuries

So me and a group of friends and well wishers have stepped forward as Friends of Human Rights Defenders, to raise funds and post bail for those 100 odd persons who have been charged or expected to be charged. Today, another 6 persons will be charged in Kedah.

The money collected will be placed in a bank account operated by independent accountants as ‘clients account’ and will be disbursed solely for bail for those who stand up for human rights.

We shall administer these funds in the most professional manner, account for the funds disbursed and make it public by placing the details of collections in the Human Rights party website  http://www.hrp-my.org/.

We urge all Malaysians, including Chinese and Malays to show their support and contribute. For human rights concerns all, not just the Indians. Fighting for human rights is fighting for all.

Thanking you.

Friends of Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and Human Rights Party

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The MIED battle and legal loopholes

MIED's board of trustees continue way past their age limit via a loop hole in the Companies Act and this has irked several MIC leaders.
PETALING JAYA: Last week, former MIC chief S Samy Vellu as the chair of the party’s education arm – Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED) – announced that he was seeking to enlarge the MIED’s membership, which now stands at 38 members.

This drew the ire of several MIC top leaders, although not publicly.
Party leaders want Samy Vellu to hand over the MIED, which has amassed assets worth nearly RM1 billion, but the former MIC supremo wants to hold on to it.

And to achieve this, Samy Vellu, 75, wants to enlarge the MIED membership base by adding another 10 members.

The question arises, what would he gain by adding members and how could he consolidate his position by enlarging the MIED membership base?

FMT did its own research and spoke to some disgruntled leaders who did not want to be named. The problem was with the loopholes in the nearly 50-year-old Companies Act.

Section 129 (1) of the Act states that no person of or over the age of 70 shall be appointed or act as a director of a public company or of a subsidiary of a a public company.

MIED is a company limited by guarantee and since no shares are involved, the Indian community becomes the beneficiary.

It is also due to this reason, MIED has trustees instead of directors. However this does not make MIED immune from the above stated section.

The loophole in this section is that it allows for the trustees to remain in their position provided they have two third support of the total membership.

Section 129 (6) allows for anyone above the age of 70 to hold on to the position if a resolution was passed at an annual general meeting and consent of “majority of not less than three-fourths of such members of the company” is obtained.

They can be appointed or reappointed as a director and hold office until the next annual general meeting or be authorised to continue in office as a director until the next annual general meeting of the company.

Over the years, in the normal circumstances, MIED trustees and members, were appointed by the MIC central working committee, the party’s highest decision making body.

When contacted, MIC vice president S K Devamany declined comment on this matter as “it would be subjudice.”

“Let the law take its course. I cannot comment,” he said.

MIED member, S A Vigneswaran, obtained an injunction on Friday to stop Samy Vellu from raising the number of members in MIED.

“Samy Vellu is looking to extend his term as the MIED chairman. He also wants the terms of those close to him to be extended as well. If the 10 proposed members are allowed in then he would obtain the two-thirds majority required by the Companies Act,” said a party insider.

“On the other hand, those aligned to (current president G) Palanivel want him out. This is because MIED is a cash cow. It has funds to help needy Indian students.

“With this in hand, Palanivel would touch base meeting Indian students who want to pursue their higher education. Presently, although Palanivel is the party president, the community especially the students meet Samy Vellu to take up MIED loans.

“Palanivel’s people feel that he is losing out because he does not control all segments of the party,” he added.

PRK Merlimau: PAS eksploitasi kanak-kanak

Adik-beradik terbabit ditemui memegang bendera PAS dan sepanduk bertulis "Pemimpin Bela Kroni".
MERLIMAU: Kehangatan suasana hari mengundi pada pilihan raya kecil di Dewan Undangan Negeri Merlimau, Melaka hari ini dicemari insiden kurang enak apabila PAS didakwa mengeksploitasi kanak-kanak bawah umur untuk meraih undi.

Kanak-kanak terbabit yang merupakan adik-beradik dan seorangn kenalannya ditemui di Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Merlimau bagi peti undi Pengkalan Samak.

FMT bertemu adik-beradik terbabit di tepi jalan berdekatan pusat pengundian dan sedang memegang bendera PAS dan juga sepanduk bertulis “Pemimpin Bela Kroni”.

Menurut Mohd Fahmi Asri, 10, mereka berada di situ kerana mengikut ayah yang sedang bertugas. Difahamkan ayah beliau merupakan petugas PAS untuk meraih undi di kawasan itu.

Dua beradiknya yang lain dikenali sebagai Mohd Fahim Asri, 11, dan Fatin Farhana Asri, 7 tahun itu datang ke Merlimau seawal 8 pagi bagi mengikuti ayah mereka yang sedang bertugas.

“Kami ikut ayah (Asri) dia sedang bertugas. Kami bukan dari sini kak, kami datang dari Batu Berendam, Melaka.

“Mak tidak datang ada di rumah dengan tiga adik kami yang lain,” kata Fahmi kepada FMT.
Namun penulis yang sedang menjalankan tugas menemubual adik-beradik itu, tiba-tiba didatangi dua lelaki yang mula kelihatan curiga.

Salah seorang daripada lelaki itu difahamkan ialah ayah kepada tiga beradik itu.

Seorang lelaki yang lengkap berpakaian sebagai petugas PAS dan mempunyai logo parti itu mengugut penulis dan akan menyaman akhbar (Sinar Harian?) sekiranya berita itu disiarkan.

Beliau yang menyangka penulis ialah wartawan Sinar Harian kurang senang dengan tindakan penulis yang mengambil gambar dan menemubual kanak-kanak terbabit.

“Kamu dari Sinar ya? Kalau awak siarkan cerita ini, kami akan saman Sinar Harian,” katanya kepada penulis.
Lelaki terbabit turut bertindak melihat tag media penulis, namum tiada kata-kata kesat dikeluarkan.

Interlok: Punish Education Ministry officers, says Niat

(Malaysiakini)The National Interlok Action Team (Niat) has yesterday demanded that the Education Ministry officials who recommended and approved the 'Interlok' novel as a compulsory Malay literature text for Form Five students, be identified and punished.

NONEThis is one of the five resolutions Niat adopted at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. It was its second meeting within a week.

"This 'Interlok' novel is contrary to the spirit of national unity. The ministry officers who approved this novel as a textbook must be identified and severely punished by the government," Deputy president of Malaysian Hindu Sangam, Dr Bala Tharmalingam, said.

Niat also claimed that its demand that the novel be withdrawn immediately has been receiving considerable support from the members of all the communities and various NGOs.

"At the start, there were 140 Indian NGOs that supported the call for the withdrawal of 'Interlok'. Now, it is 250 Indian NGOs representing some 500,000 Indians," Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim, the chair of Niat, claimed.
Deadline for Interlok withdrawal
Niat at its meeting held yesterday also adopted another four resolutions.
The first one reiterated its earlier demand that the novel must be withdrawn by March 31.

The second one called for the observance of a fast on March 20 throughout the country for the purpose of raising the awareness of the Malaysian public to the damage the novel would cause to national unity.

The third resolution invited concerned parents to access Niat's website www.myniat.com to register their objections to the novel, thus giving expression to their concern.

According to Niat, the objection to the 'Interlok' novel is not a matter concerning just only one community, it is a national issue involving everyone who cares for national unity.
To demonstrate this unity, the fourth resolution called for a conference of all NGOs in the country, which will be held on March 27.

The 'tongkat' may be weak, but Malays still need it: Dr M

Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Malays still need government assistance because the New Economic Policy did not achieve its goal.

Even among the few successful Malay entrepreneurs, most cannot compete with the non-Malays, the former prime minister said.

"It is not the right time for the government to stop helping the Malays because the existing economic policy has yet to reach its objective," Mahathir said at the Kedah Malay Contractors Association charity dinner at Dewan Wawasan in Jitra last night.

"This tongkat (walking stick), when used many times, will become weak, but it is the only power available to help them," he added, referring to the policy.

Mahathir said that Malay contractors still depended on the government because the private sector rarely awarded them projects.

"As it is Malay contractors are not awarded many projects. If the government the people chose does not sympathise with them, they will be jobless," he added.

Bumi contractors told to clean up their act


Mahathir advised Malay contractors to clean up their act and eradicate weaknesses in their outfit to gain the trust of non-Malays.

He said that poor financial management was the main weakness of Malay contractors which they must overcome to be successful.

Because of this weakness, even other Malays were reluctant to give them projects, Mahathir said, citing studies.

He said that franchise had offered bumiputera businessmen a chance for easy profit through sale of an established product or service.

They failed when all they needed to do was follow regulations, Mahathir said, and added:

"Those who manage their finances well will reap big profits while those who don't will get nothing and will in fact lose money."

- Bernama

Notis Rakyat Pada Najib Razak

Still far from equal

The Star
by HARIATI AZIZAN

The UN is willing to help Malaysia draft a gender equality law to give women here a step up.

IT took Alice Lim* almost 11 years of hard work to climb up the corporate ladder into a managerial position. When she gave birth to her twins two years ago, she had no choice but to quit her job.

“What else could I do? After weighing the pros and cons, the best thing to do was to give up my career and stay home for my kids. I love being a full-time mum, but when I think of the sweat and tears I shed over work, I feel a bit sad. Not to mention, the years I spent slogging at university,” Lim sighs.

Malaysia has made good progress in providing opportunities for its women to attain education and work, says Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator Malaysia.

However, there is a lot of room for improvement, he says.

“When it comes to women’s participation in the labour force, Malaysia has stagnated at 47% for over the decade or more.”

A big issue, he highlights, is the lack of an alternative childcare system which allows women to fulfill their double or triple burden of responsibilities – at home and outside home.

Like Lim, many working women are forced to leave the workforce because there is no adequate support system to deal with that.

On Tuesday, Malaysia will join the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day which carries the theme “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.”

It is the 100th global celebration of women and to be fair, Malaysia has made progress in empowering women in education and work.

According to Malhotra, one area that Malaysia has made most progress in is providing equal access to education at all levels – primary, secondary and tertiary – to girls.

“In tertiary education, for one, there is a higher number of female students enrolled in higher education institutions compared to male students,” he highlights.

The quality of education received, however, is a point to consider, he opines.

Malaysia still lags behind countries in the region like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan in creating a critical mass of highly-skilled science and technology graduates, while the number of women in those areas remain insignificant.

More importantly, he points out, when you contrast women’s participation in the workforce with men, “it is the opposite picture.”

This has a lot of social and economic consequences in the terms of equity, he adds.

Contrary to common belief, this has nothing to do with culture. Says Malhotra, it may be a factor for the older generation but not so much for the young. Although child rearing and other responsibilities inside the home are still seen as primarily the responsibility of women, it is changing, he says.

He shares that there is also anecdotal evidence that women of a certain (child-rearing) age – or those who have taken long maternity leave have been discriminated against by their employers.

Another scope for improvement, says Malhotra, is the parity of equity in terms of pay: “Women get paid 20% less in certain professions.”

Women’s participation in high-level-and-political decision making also leaves much to be desired, he adds.

In parliament and state assembly, or in the public and corporate sector, the number is still low, he notes.

“In 2009, only 14% of women were at the high level of decision-making.”

He draws attention to the commitment the Malaysian government has made: “Here, a plan of action at a Beijing Conference in the early 1990s established a target of 30%, and Malaysia itself established that target in its Ninth Malaysia Plan but the achievement remains way below the target.”

Malhotra, who is also the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative for Malaysia, shares that this is a particular interest for the agency.

“We were asked by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to come up with a national action plan in 2008. But we have been waiting patiently for it to go to Cabinet for approval and subsequent implementation. It’s now 2011 and it has not even gone to Cabinet.”

He says this is an issue that he has raised a number of times with its minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

“I will raise it again when I meet the minister next week. It is an issue that comes up every time we meet. We are hoping that at least now that it’s 2011, it will go to Cabinet soon. We stand ready at UNDP to help with the implementation once there is a Cabinet decision.”

According to a source from the ministry, they are preparing the groundwork to ensure that the plan will be accepted by all before it is presented to the Cabinet.

Having a gender equality law and commission may be a useful step, says Malhotra.

“There is a lot Malaysia can learn from Scandinavian countries which have implemented a wide range of enabling and supportive as well as complementary measures (like the gender equality law and gender equality commission) to give their women a step up. The percentage of women’s participation in the boardroom and parliament of Norway and Sweden is at a high 40%.”

This is an area that UN is willing to provide assistance to Malaysia, he adds, especially to draft the gender equality law and establish the gender equality commission here.

However, he says, to achieve real gender equality, Malaysia has to first remove its reservations on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw), which it ratified in 1995.

A stumbling block is that most of the reservations impinge on gender and the interpretation of syariah law, concedes Malhotra.

He believes that it is time to review the reservations as they affect the rights of Muslim women – particularly in issues to do with the age of marriage, division of property and many other aspects.

“Malaysia needs to synchronise the two systems of law in the country (Syariah and Civil law) and ensure consistency between the two because now it appears that non-Muslim women have better rights than Muslim women. In fact, according to some commentators, Muslim women had more rights in the country two decades ago,” he says.

The main UN organisation that has a lead in this is the newly established UN Women, he adds, and we would encourage it to remove all the reservations, especially Article 16 (see chart).

Acknowledging the sensitivity of the issue which impinges on gender and Islamic law, Malhotra believes that Cedaw is not inconsistent with Islamic law.

“We are also willing to provide evidence that many Muslim majority countries have signed Cedaw without reservation, including countries in the Middle-East and this region such as, I believe, Indonesia.

“We do know that it is down to the interpretation of the Syariah Law and what the Quran says. It is not for us to judge, but we know that Cedaw has been signed by Muslim majority countries without reservation such as Tunisia and Morocco, and we know that in Tunisia, it was fully implemented even under the old regime.”

Stressing that the push should not be seen as an interference in Syariah law, Malhotra informs that UN has a mandate to encourage signatories to remove their reservations, so it is not specific to Malaysia.

“We believe that if it is accepted by some Muslim majority countries, then it should not be inconsistent.”

Check out StarTwo for its special coverage of the International Women’s Day tomorrow and on Tuesday.

* Not her real name

Tindakan keras jika hasut rakyat guling kerajaan

Berita Harian

Laman sosial Facebook, SMS, media alternatif dipantau: Rais

TEMERLOH: Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM), Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) dan agensi berkaitan akan memantau tindakan pihak yang cuba menghasut rakyat menerusi laman sosial Facebook, SMS dan media alternatif lain.

Menteri Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, berkata SKMM dan pihak berkuasa lain boleh menggunakan undang-undang sedia ada bagi mengambil tindakan terhadap pihak yang memprovokasi rakyat untuk menggulingkan kerajaan.

“Kita sedang melihat perkembangan ini dengan teliti termasuk kata-kata yang mereka keluarkan dalam media alternatif,” katanya selepas melancarkan Kampung WiFi Rumpun Makmur, di sini, semalam.

Beliau mengulas laporan media semalam, berhubung amaran kerajaan supaya pembangkang ‘tidak bermain api’ atas cubaan menghasut rakyat bagi menggulingkan kerajaan seperti di Asia Barat.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin semalam dilaporkan berkata, tindakan pembangkang itu sengaja mahu menimbulkan huru-hara dan bertujuan memporak-perandakan kerajaan, menggugat keamanan serta kesejahteraan rakyat.

Sementara itu, Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, berkata kerajaan akan bertindak mengikut Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) jika kes itu semakin serius.

“Pemantauan mendapati pihak terbabit cuba mencetuskan gerakan seumpama itu dengan tujuan dan matlamat bersandarkan politik dan mahu mengambil kesempatan dengan situasi yang berlaku di Asia Barat,” katanya selepas diberi taklimat berkaitan operasi pasukan polis sepanjang proses pilihan raya kecil Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Kerdau di Markas Teknikal Polis (MARTEK) Kerdau di sini, petang semalam.
Hishammuddin juga mengesahkan pihaknya menerima permohonan Ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar untuk menerbitkan akhbar Utusan Rakyat dan pertimbangan sedang dibuat.

Sementara itu, pensyarah Undang-undang Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM), Profesor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, berkata, gejala fitnah dan hasutan di blog kian berleluasa dan tidak terkawal berikutan pertumbuhan blog tidak beretika. 

Live updates - Merlimau and Kerdau

Live updates and discussion of the last-minute campaigning and the results of the Merlimau and Kerdau by-elections.