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Friday, March 11, 2011

Rebel forces retreat from Ras Lanuf

Opposition fighters have been forced to withdraw from the central port city of Ras Lanuf as forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi launched a major offensive against rebels fighting to end the Libyan leader's decades-long rule.

Pro- and anti-government forces are locked in intense fighting for control of several other cities and towns along the coastline to the east of Tripoli, including Brega and Bin Jawad, as well as in Az Zawiyah to the west of the capital.

Rebel forces in the port city of Ras Lanuf, which is the site of a key oil installation, are now retreating from their positions and heading further east.

Opposition fighters were seen trooping into cars and trucks by the hundreds and fleeing eastwards, after coming under intense mortar and rocket fire, as well as aerial bombardment earlier in the day.

Pro-Gaddafi forces hit a natural gas installation, as well as bombing a civilian house and the area around a hospital, opposition forces said.

In an interview with Reuters news agency, Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam said the time had come for full scale military action against the rebels.

"There is no more chance for negotiations with rebels fighting the Libyan government," he said on Thursday.

He said the military would never give up, that they will fight in Libya and die in Libya.

In a press conference late on Thursday, Khalid al-Kaim, Libya's deputy foreign minister, reiterated that it was "clear" that most anti-government protesters and fighters were members of al-Qaeda.

Major offensive underway

"We've been wondering for the last few days about why Gaddafi has not employed his full forces, and today we've seen those forces in action," reported Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley, who is in Ras Lanuf.

"We were caught right in the middle as his forces out-flanked, and then out-bombed and out-shot the opposition forces. There was sustained aerial and artillery and mortar bombardment, and then following in by a flanking movement.

"There have been a number of casualties. We've seen trucks going along the highway, but that's being shelled by Gaddafi forces all the way along. I counted ... 50 shells falling.

"We've seen trucks with wounded lying in the back of pick-ups, and I think the casualty toll is going to be high. We also saw and heard extensive ground fire coming from the beach [in the north], we think there's been a flanking movement from the beach.

"But it seems like the major offensive that we thought was going to happen is underway now."

Birtley reported that while many opposition fighters had now left the town, a "hard core" was going back to fight.

He said the attack showed the "professionalism of Gaddafi's troops, and it shows that ... he's hitting back."

Engineers at the town's oil facilities have been burning off poisonous gas in case of a direct hit on the refinery, rebels say.

"We've been defeated. They are shelling and we are running away. That means that they're taking Ras Lanuf,"  a rebel fighter, dressed in military fatigues who gave his name as Osama, told the AFP news agency.

"The town of Ras Lanuf has been purged of armed gangs and the green flags have been hoisted over all [government] buildings," Libyan state television reported on Thursday evening. The report said that government forces were "advancing on Benghazi".

Rebel confidence low

Hoda Abdel-Hamid, our correspondent in Benghazi, reported that officials confirmed that Ras Lanuf and Brega, another town with key oil installations, had come under attack from gunboats. Brega, a key oil and gas hub, was also under attack from the air.

She reported that rebels in Benghazi feel the tide "may be reversing", and that there is a "realisation that this is going to be a long, long uprising".

Gaddafi's men also pounded Az Zawiyah with tanks and war planes.

"The revolutionaries control the centre of Zawiyah and Gadhafi's forces are surrounding it. It's 50-50," a resident who fled the city said.

"There was no one in the streets, the town is completely deserted, and there are snipers on the roofs," he said, adding that he did not know which side they were on.

An official at one of Libya's largest refineries, which is located in Zawiyah, said it has remained shut for the fourth consecutive day, and would only reopen on Friday if there was no fighting overnight.

Conflicting claims

Forces loyal to Gaddafi say they have wrested the city from the hands of rebels, a claim denied by those fighting against the Libyan leader.

Any independent confirmation of the claims and counter-claims, however, is difficult since journalists are unable to reach the city.

The rebel fighters are largely inexperienced. Abdul Razik Bubakar, 32, car mechanic who has joined anti-Gaddafi forces, told the AP news agency that he is learning how to use anti-aircraft gun on the fly.

"I didn't know anything about it. I just learnt in two or three days. Now I know how to use it, thanks to God. Now I am really quick using it, cleaning it and fixing it," said Bubakar.

"Maybe I don't have enough knowledge for this, but when I do it, thanks to God, it works out."

The battles are raging as rebels pile on pressure on the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to cripple Gaddafi's air force.

While several world powers have backed such a measure, the logistics are yet to be worked out with Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, saying such a move should be driven by the United Nations and not the United States.

NATO and the European Union began fresh talks on a no-fly zone on Thursday, with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato's secretary-general, saying that "further planning will be required" if a no-fly zone were to be enforced, under the UN's mandate.

Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on Thursday warned that Libya was in a state of "civil war", and appealed for aid workers to be given greater access to the country.

Amid such discussions, Gaddafi has launched his own diplomatic effort, sending emissaries to Brussels and Cairo.

Opposition forces vowed to continue fighting against Gaddafi, even if a no-fly zone was not imposed.

"If they implement a no-fly zone we will ask for other things. Even if they do not implement it, we will fight," Iman Bugaigis, a media officer with the rebel February 17 Coalition, told reporters in Benghazi.

"There is no return for us. This nation will not bear both of us. It is us or his (Gaddafi's) family. After what happened
in Zawiyah, how can we live with this person?" she said.

Journalists tortured

Meanwhile, Britain has condemned the arrest and torture of three BBC journalists in Libya, saying it was more proof of atrocities committed by Gaddafi's regime.

The three were subjected to mock execution after being arrested on Monday at a checkpoint nearly 10km south of Az-Zawiyah.

The three men were then taken to a military barracks in Tripoli where they "suffered repeated assaults" by members of Libya's army and secret police before being released 21 hours later.

One of the reporters said he had seen 10 or 12 men from Az Zawiyah in a prison cell who were "badly beaten", bearing signs of "torture on their faces and their bodies".
Cameraman Goktay Koraltan said he "heard a lot of screaming" where he was being held. "... I've seen a lot of bad stuff," he said.

Two more journalists were reported missing on Thursday by their UK- and Brazil-based newspapers, though state authorities said that one of them was to be released shortly.

The Libyan government has restricted the movements of foreign journalists based in Tripoli and says they must
only travel with official escorts.

Meanwhile, scuffles were reported at a transit camp in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, for thousands of stranded migrant workers from Libya. Tunisian troops pushed back hundreds of angry labourers from Bangladesh who tried to force their way into a UN storage facility. They said they were not being given enough to eat, and were not being repatriated fast enough.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Racial tension is boiling over at a crucial political moment.

The Wall Street Journal

Malaysia was once regarded as one of Asia’s most promising emerging economies, but over the last decade that story has soured. Output growth has cooled, and foreign investment plummeted from its peak in 2008. The government’s failure to speed up economic reform is partly to blame, but the underlying cause of the policy gridlock is social tension. With the United Malays National Organization at its head, the ruling National Front coalition maintains an uneasy peace between the country’s three main ethnic groups: Malays, Indians and Chinese.

Protests by Indian activists last month reveal just how fragile that peace is. The controversy arose late last year when the government announced the addition of "Interlok," a 1971 Malay-language novel, to the curriculum in some public schools. Cabinet ministers from the Malaysian Indian Congress, the largest ethnic-Indian party in the National Front, cried foul, saying that the novel depicted the Indian community in an offensive way.

The issue ignited furious debate in the Malaysian media but did not at first seem to threaten broader unrest. A group of ethnic-Indian NGOs undertook a formal investigation of the novel’s content and found that it did contain a number of historical errors and misrepresentations. In mid-January the Ministry of Education convened a committee to amend the novel’s offensive bits, apparently satisfying the MIC.

Protesters gather near Kuala Lumpur to urge the government to ban the controversial Malay-language book Interlok.

The situation intensified, however, when two Indian-rights organizations—the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, and a splinter group, the Human Rights Party—called for nationwide protests against both the book and what they say are UMNO’s "racist" policies generally. Hindraf was banned in 2008 for holding a massive antiracism rally the year before, at which hundreds of its supporters were jailed under the country’s stiff Internal Security Act. Last month, police denied the groups’ requests for public-assembly permits and threatened to charge anyone who attended protests with participating in unlawful organizations.

Undeterred, demonstrators took to the streets in several cities, first on Feb. 13 and then in greater numbers last Sunday. Police delivered on the promised crackdown, patrolling the protest route with trucks and keeping water cannons menacingly nearby. Around Kuala Lumpur, officers appeared to be accosting anyone even suspected of being a Hindraf sympathizer. On Sunday over 100 people were jailed, and though most were released the next day, 11 remain under investigation.

This sort of response to peaceful protests shows the troubled state of civil liberties in Malaysia. Since taking office in 2009, Prime Minister Najib Razak has clamped down on the press, jailed bloggers and suppressed public demonstrations, all in the name of maintaining unity and stability. In a speech early last month, he cautioned his countrymen against getting any ideas from the revolutions unfolding in the Arab world. "We will stop any attempt to bring such trouble into Malaysia," he said.

In part, it was the National Front that created the conditions for the present turmoil to begin with. Less well-off than Malaysia’s Chinese, Indians attribute their economic woes to affirmative-action rules that favor ethnic Malays in hiring and education. Groups like Hindraf accuse the ruling coalition of yielding too readily to nativist Malay voices that agitate against meritocratic reforms.

Political games seem also to be afoot in the Indian groups’ rabble-rousing, though. Hindraf and the HRP are likely using the present conflict to galvanize the Indian community ahead of a general election expected later this year. They may even calculate that an excessively harsh reaction by the government or ethnic-Malay factions to protests will win them additional public favor.

But the MIC has distanced itself from last month’s unrest, and even opposition parties like the National Justice Party, or PKR, appear uneasy about siding with the protesters. Addressing his supporters in January, PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim advised against using the "Interlok" issue to score political points. "It would be extremely useful for the Ministry of Education to listen to reasonable comments on ‘Interlok’ and not to turn it into a divisive political issue," he said.

Too late for that, it seems. Malaysia’s Indians have legitimate reason to feel marginalized in society and ignored by their own leaders. But the risk now is that political parties representing the three races will be steered by extremist groups that exacerbate conflict for their own gain. The past month’s events suggest that years of redistributive policies designed to paper over ethnic divisions have only perpetuated the strife instead.

On the stump, Anwar strikes back at Dr M

Anwar trotted out his long-standing accusations of nepotism and cronyism against Dr Mahathir. — file pic
BANTING, March 11 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim went on the offensive last night in a renewed battle with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, repeating his accusation that his political mentor practised cronyism and nepotism in his 22-years as prime minister.

Anwar sought to avoid directly addressing claims by Dr Mahathir in his memoirs out earlier this week, that he had propositioned four girls for sex and not denied accusations of sodomy while he was still deputy prime minister in the 1990s.

Dr Mahathir wrote that Anwar had not denied the 1998 sodomy claims.
Instead, he attacked the former prime minister’s credibility in a political rally here last night, saying the Mahathir administration, which lasted from 1981 to 2003, was rife with corruption.

The opposition leader compared Dr Mahathir’s government unfavourably against that of the early Muslim caliphates, who he said were remembered for eliminating poverty.

“In his 22 and a half years, how could he take care of the poor when his friends and children were billionaires?” said the PKR de facto leader.

The country’s longest-serving PM said in his autobiography that Anwar did not deny accusations of sodomy before being sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998, and should have succeeded him as prime minister if not for his own actions.

In the book titled “Doctor in the House: The Memoirs of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he said that when Anwar had been hauled up before the Umno supreme council, he “never once referred to the question of homosexuality, focusing only on the affairs with women.”

In his long-awaited memoirs, Dr Mahathir also claimed to have met four girls who said they were propositioned by Anwar for sex.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have said Dr Mahathir’s move has been timed to coincide with Anwar’s ongoing second sodomy trial and attacks against his relevance as opposition leader after two bruising by-election defeats last weekend.

Anwar alleged last night that the government had recently reallocated RM23 billion of Petronas funds meant to be invested overseas, moving these back into the country to be given to cronies such as Dr Mahathir’s son, Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir.

He claimed that Mokhzani’s Kencana Petroleum was one of three local companies to sign multi-billion ringgit deals with the national oil company.

The Permatang Pauh MP also reminded over 1,000 supporters at Stadium Jugra last night that while Malay PAS and PKR leaders were accused of selling out to the Chinese in DAP, it was Dr Mahathir who had given out gambling contracts to Chinese cronies.

He cited the betting operations of Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Group and the casinos operated in Genting Highlands by the family of the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong.

Anwar also savaged Dr Mahathir for purportedly being fooled by former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, who was recently charged with cheating the Cabinet in 2002 over the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, which could end up costing the government RM12.5 billion.

Promised that PR would reverse these practices once in power, Anwar made a firm vow that fuel prices would be reduced as soon as it took Putrajaya.

Taib keeps mum but rivals feud

Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's lack of urgency to rebut speculations that his son Mahmud Abu Bekir could be moving into politics is no help to warring Sadong Jaya factions within PBB.

KUCHING: Trouble is brewing in Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) with two factions at loggerheads over the candidacy of Mahmud Abu Bekir, the eldest son of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.

Although Taib has refused to confirm or deny speculations as to whether he will field Mahmud in the coming state election, rival groups in the Sadong Jaya PBB division are feuding over the choice of candidate.

On Monday, a group in Sadong Jaya had urged Taib to field Mahmud in Sadong Jaya but another faction loyal to incumbent Wan Wahab Wan Sanusi had cried “sabotage”.

Taib yesterday said he would only announce the names of candidates, including the person for Sadong Jaya, on nomination day and fended off reporters’ questions.

He, however, said that Mahmud had expressed reservation about entering active politics, adding that “one brother in politics is enough”.

Taib also said this was not the first time BN supporters had lobbied for Mahmud’s nomination, adding that similar requests had also been made before, including from people in Samarahan and Mukah.

Taib’s response has a familiar ring to it. In 2008, his younger son Sulaiman, who was also initially reticent, went on to contest in the Kota Samarahan parliamentary seat previously held by Taib.

He won the seat and had a brief stint as deputy tourism minister in the federal Cabinet before he dissappeared from the political radar.

In the initial days, Taib too kept Sulaiman’s candidacy close to his heart.

Mahmud, who is deputy chairman of Sarawak’s largest conglomerate, Cahya Mata Sarawak Group, is also facing a financial battle on his homefront. His wife of 18 years, Shanaz Majid, is seeking a RM400 million divorce settlement.

Shanaz, 48, who is jazz queen Sheila Majid’s sister, claimed that Mahumud had mentally and physically tortured her and that they had lived apart since 2001.

She also claimed in her divorce application that Mahmud was married to a Russian with three children.

Legal action

Meanwhile, in the agriculturally rich Sadong Jaya constituency, warring factions are bent on having “their” respective choice of candidates.

Said an observer familiar with the discord: “It shows just how much the people love Taib and hate him as well. But all this could land them in court.”

Wahab, a five-term incumbent, had declared at the State Legislative Assembly sitting in November last year that he would not be defending his seat.

But PBB Sadong Jaya division members are refusing to let him go.

“We still want him (Wahab) to defend the seat,” said its vice-chairman Abdul Mutalib Julaihi.

He accused the 113 residents from 13 villages, who had gathered outside the PBB headquarters on Monday calling for Mahmud to represent them, as being “non-PBB members”.

“Those who submitted the resolution wanting the son of the chief minister to contest are not PBB members from Sadong Jaya,” he said.

Withdraw resolution

Mutalib was commenting on press reports of the placard-carrying villagers who had gathered outside PBB headquarters here on Monday to demand that Mahmud be their candidate in the coming election.

Group spokesman Ain Mahil, who had on behalf of the villagers, submitted a resolution to Taib via PBB executive secretary Awang Bujang Awang Antek calling for Mahmud to be fielded, said they wanted a “true leader” who they believed could bring much-needed change to Sadong Jaya.

But angry Sadong Jaya PBB members have strongly disputed the need for a “true leader”, alleging that the villagers were “paid” to stir trouble.

“They were paid by another party with the intention to stir up disharmony in PBB and Barisan Nasional.

“They are merely seeking attention with malicious intention to take over from the present PBB committee,” Mutalib said.

He added that the group should withdraw the resolution immediately.

“PBB Sadong Jaya committee is seeking legal action against the irresponsible group and we are awaiting instructions from our lawyers for further action.”

Sadong Jaya is part of Batang Sadong parliamentary constituency.

Taib already has several family members in politics. Besides Sulaiman, there is his uncle Mohammad Ali Mahmud who is assemblyman for Muara Tuang.

“If Mahmud is to be fielded, there will be three siblings of Taib in Parliament and the State Legislative Assembly.

“Another niece, Norah Abdul Rahman, is the MP for Tanjung Manis,” said the observer.

Real misery and false promises

DAP to highlight plight of Kampung Gunung Cheroh in Perak State Legislative Assembly.

IPOH: If DAP gets its way, the Perak State Legislative Assembly convening next month will hear the heart-rending story of Kampung Gunung Cheroh, a village with a history of tragedy and now facing the threat of extinction.

DAP’s A Subramaniam, the assemblyman for Buntong, told FMT today that he would highlight the plight of the 21 poor families living there.

He said they had long been hearing false promises of help from MIC and the state government and were now about to lose their homes and the temple they attend.

A property developer, Fasa Unggul Sdn Bhd, has gone to court to get an eviction order so that it can demolish the village. The Ipoh High Court will give its decision on March 23.

Kampung Gunung Cheroh lies at the foot of a limestone hill. In December 1973, a gigantic slab of limestone chipped off and flattened part of the village. More than 70 villagers perished in the tragedy.

Shorty afterwards, MIC claimed it had found alternative housing for survivors who had become homeless and paid partial compensation to some.

According to S Mogan, who chairs a committee representing the villagers, the compensation was only RM3,000 per family and many did not get the promised alternative houses.

When Pakatan Rakyat was ruling Perak, 12 more families got their new houses.

Last year, when Barisan Nasional (BN) was already in control of the state, the remaining villagers got wind that Fasa Unggul had acquired the land for property development.

Alternative housing

Distressed by the news, they approached Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir’s special adviser on Indian affairs, S Veerasingam, for help to find alternative housing and another piece of land to which they would shift the existing temple.

Mogan said Veerasingam promised on April 12 last year to resolve the issue but had yet to keep his word.

When they received an eviction notice from Fasa Unggul, he added, the villagers again approached Veerasingam. He allegedly told them to pay RM10,000 to Perak MIC Wanita chief S Thangeswari, a lawyer, so that she would represent them in court.

“Where are we going to find the RM10,000?” said Mogan, who appeared still shell-shocked when he spoke to FMT. “Our daily earnings are just enough for our daily meals.

“Why can’t MIC just waive the legal fees?” he asked.

Mogan today lodged a report in Ipoh, accusing MIC, the state government and Fasa Unggul of conspiring to chase the villagers out of their homes.

He is sending copies of the report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Prime Minister’s office.

The Buntong assemblyman was livid. “Why is the government not giving priority to these three generations of residents who have lived there for 80 years, but instead has chosen to give the land to a private developer?”

He told FMT that the Kinta Land Office had “for umpteen times” rejected applications for land titles submitted by the villagers.

Subramaniam said it was likely that Fasa Unggul’s plan violated a local regulation requiring a 100-metre space between the base of a limestone hill and any form of built structure.

He also raised the possibility of the development causing worsening floods in Ipoh.

Malaysia: Government Reveals Nearly 30,000 Foreigners Caned


Malaysia should immediately halt the judicial caning of refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said after the government disclosed that almost 30,000 foreigners had been caned in five years.

In a response to a parliamentary question on 9 March, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein disclosed that Malaysia had caned 29,759 foreigners between 2005 and 2010 for immigration offences alone.

“The government’s figures confirm that Malaysia is subjecting thousands of people to torture and other ill-treatment each year,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia Pacific director at Amnesty International. “This is a practice which is absolutely prohibited under international law, no matter what the circumstances.”

“As a first step, the Malaysian government has to immediately declare a moratorium on this brutal practice.”

Amnesty International also called for a complete abolition of all forms or corporal punishment, which constitutes torture or other ill-treatment.

In December 2010, Amnesty International published an in-depth investigation into judicial caning in Malaysia. In each of the 57 cases it examined, Amnesty International found that the caning amounted to torture, as the authorities had intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering through the punishment of caning.

While most countries have abolished judicial caning, Malaysia has expanded the practice. Parliament has increased the number of offenses subject to caning to more than 60.

Since 2002, when Parliament amended the Immigration Act 1959/63 to make immigration violations such as illegal entry subject to caning, tens of thousands of refugees and migrant workers have been caned.

At least 60 per cent of the 29,759 foreigners caned were Indonesians, according to Liew Chin Tong, the parliamentarian who submitted the question. In March 2010, Amnesty International documented how unchecked abuses by unscrupulous labour agents led to many migrant workers losing their legal immigration status and thus being subject to caning.

Refugees are also caned for immigration violations in Malaysia. Since Malaysia has not yet ratified the UN Refugee Convention, asylum seekers are often arrested and prosecuted as illegal migrants. Burmese refugees in Malaysia have told Amnesty International how they live in fear after being caned.

“Malaysia is subjecting thousands of people from other Asian countries to torture and other ill-treatment,” said Sam Zarifi. “Indonesia, which chairs the Association of South East Asian Nations and its human rights Commission this year, must press Malaysia to stop caning their citizens.”

For more information: In London, Lance Lattig (+44-7735-381672)


1. Someone asked what about the "Orang Asli" literally the "Original People". Weren't they in the peninsular before the Malays?

2. They could be. So are the Red Indians, the Maoris, the aborigines of Australia, the many tribal people in many countries of the world.

3. If we consider that the Orang Asli have more rights to claim Malaysia as their own then we should acknowledge and respect the rights of the Red Indians, the Maoris, the Australian aborigines and all the other aborigines to be given back the land we now call America, Australia, New Zealand etc.

4. Perhaps in recognition of their rights, they are now not so ill-treated and killed as they were when the Europeans seized their lands. But this is not the same as declaring that the countries belong to the people originally found there.

5. In Latin America there were native, indigenous or Orang Asli governments when the Europeans arrived. The Aztecs, the Mayas, the Incas had recognisable states. But the Spaniards and the Portuguese conquered their lands and set up new States and Governments. The world have recognised these states.

6. In Malaysia the Orang Asli are as much citizens of the country as are the people of other races. They had never set up their own states and governments.

7. When the Europeans came, the governments and the states they had to deal with were Malay. All treaties were made with the Malay Governments. Even the Japanese recognised the existence of these Malay States when they drove the British out of the peninsular.

8. Of course when the British came back, they had to gain the assent of the Malay rulers in order to set up the Malayan Union. All subsequent agreements were with Malay rulers and Malay political leaders.

9. It is important to note that the Malay rulers only recognised Malays as their natural "rakyat". They also recognised "Orang Asli" and non-Malays who had been assimilated as "rakyat". However, non-Malays who continued to identify themselves with their countries of origin were not regarded as rakyat.

10. It was only after the Malayan Union was formed that the concept of citizenship was created. Still those recognised as rakyat of the rulers were acknowledged through what came to be regarded as special positions.

11. This was enshrined in the constitution. But the constitution also made it clear that the non-Malay citizens also have special position. Thus they may retain their original identity, use their own home language (mother tongue?) and perpetuate their own culture. They also have the right to teach in their own languages in Government supported primary schools and can set up their own private secondary schools.

12. The setting up of schools which teach in their own languages is not to be confused with schools for teaching other languages.

13. We would like to see the end of all special privileges so that we can all be together. We should all be just Malaysians speaking and teaching in one national language, practitioners of one national culture, and owing loyalty only to this beloved country, Malaysia.

A clarion call to the Christians in Malaysia

By Thomas Lee

Enough is enough! The usually docile, meek and temperate Christian community in Malaysia has had enough, and has exploded in anger over what they perceive as their human, civil and constitutional rights being denied and rendered illusory, with the latest seizure of 30,000 Malay Bibles from the Kuching Port in Sarawak.

Several such incidents over the last few years are nothing less than an assault on their God-given rights to worship, and to practice and propagate their faith in their own national language, without any legal restriction or political oppression.

There should no place for such evil bigotry and discrimination towards any religious belief in our country which is founded on the fundamental human right basis of freedom to worship and to practice and propagate one’s faith without hindrance, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Article 8 of the Federal Constitution states that “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”, and “there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law ….”.

Article 11 provides for every person to have “the right to profess and practice his religion”, and that every religious group has the right (a) to manage its own religious affairs, (b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes, and (c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with the law.

The refusal to allow the Christians in the country to use certain Bahasa Malaysia words in their publications is a direct infringement of their constitutional right to freedom of religious worship and practice. As patriotic citizens of the nation, the Christians in Malaysia should automatically have total access to use the complete vocabulary of the national language. There is no such thing as the monopoly of certain words by any particular group.

The seizure of the Malay Bibles on the contention that they contain several Bahasa Malaysia words deemed incongruous for use by the Christians is an infraction of their constitutional rights as legitimate loyal citizens, and a direct transgression of the universal human right provisions of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on 10 December 1948.

It is definitely wrong, unconstitutional, even immoral, when a certain section of the citizenry is denied and deprived of their human and constitutional rights based on the unilateral action of some bias and racist extremist civil servants.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), an umbrella body that represents over 90% of churches in the country, is surely justified in publicly challenging the Barisan Nasional federal government to explain the latest seizure of the Malay Bibles at the Kuching Port, and questioning its sincerity and integrity in dealing with the fiasco and other similar related issues over the last few years.

What then should the Christians in Malaysia do in the face of such an oppressive political tyranny, in which their freedom to practice their faith is being undermined?

First of all, as Christians, we believe in the power of divine intervention, so we must unite in unceasing prayer before the throne of grace to seek God’s help. A nationwide non-stop prayer vigil should be organized by the various churches to pray for the nation and its leaders. Individual Christians on their own should also set aside a day each week to fast and pray.

Secondly, the Christians must be united in their stand to defend their human and constitutional rights, to curb and prevent any breach or dilution of such fundamental rights. They should give steadfast and strong support to the CFM and church leaders in their negotiation with the authorities on the matter. At the same time, the CFM and its leadership should be resolute and unwavering in their stand, without fear or favour. Those who are afraid and not willing to risk the prospect of being detained for standing up should step down from the leadership positions.

Thirdly, the churches should start holding talks and forums to inform and educate their members on the issues affecting them. Pastors should preach and teach on biblical subjects such as Christian responsibility in society. For too long, the Christians, including the pastors and church leaders, have been basking in their comfort zone within the four walls of their churches, with nary a concern about their rights being eroded or tramped on. The time has come for the Christians to emerge from their spiritual slumber to play a more vocal and visible role as loyal citizens of the nation. They should mobilize themselves to campaign and vote for those who are righteous, just, honest, fair, humble, competent, and incorruptible to serve as their representatives in Parliament and the various state assemblies.

Finally, Christians who are qualified and willing to serve the nation in the socio-political arena should offer themselves as candidates for election to Parliament and the various state assemblies. We need Joseph who became the prime minister of Egypt and saved the country from famine and economic disaster, Moses who fought for the liberation of those oppressed slaves of Egypt, Daniel who stood firm for his faith in the face of religious persecution, David who served as King and unified the nation, Nehemiah who served as a high government official and used his position to help rebuilt Jerusalem, John the Baptist who was beheaded for exposing and condemning the immorality of Herod, and the apostle Paul who exercised his citizenship rights to stand up for his faith. Of course, the prime example is the Lord Jesus who challenged and spoke out against the hypocritical Jewish religious leaders and the oppressive Roman political authorities, and was crucified.

The clarion call to the Christians in Malaysia today is to join with all other Malaysians of like vision and mission to partcipate in an active national service to bring about the transformation of the nation to a new and better Malaysia.

Christian federation calls for release of bibles

The Sun
by Pauline Wong

PETALING JAYA (March 10, 2011): The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is calling for all copies of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia seized by the Home Ministry, including 30,000 copies of Perjanjian Baru, Mazmur dan Amsal or New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs stuck at the Kuching port, to be released.

“We are concerned about the repeated detention of bibles written in our national language, Bahasa Malaysia,” CFM chairman Bishop Ng Moon Hing said.

“The government had given the assurance that the bible in Bahasa Malaysia will be freely available in Sabah and Sarawak, where a large majority of Christians are Malay-speaking.

“They must have access to bibles in Bahasa Malaysia in order to read, comprehend and practise their faith,” he said in a statement today.

On Tuesday, National Evangelical Christian Fellowship secretary-general Sam Ang had claimed that the ministry had confiscated and retained 5,000 copies of the Malay-language Bible at Port Klang since March 2009, despite the Cabinet having approved the release of the consignment.

The most recent to be seized were the copies of Perjanjian Baru, Mazmur dan Amsal, which have been withheld since January.

The Bible Society of Malaysia was reported as saying it will consider legal action against the ministry for the release of the bibles.

However when contacted, the society’s general-secretary Dr Simon Wong denied this and said the society would wait for a firm decision from the ministry on the matter before proceeding further.

“We will wait and pray that the government will be moved to release the bibles,” he told theSun.

On Wednesday, a ministry statement said the bibles had not been confiscated, but were denied entry for not fulfilling ministry requirements. However, it did not elaborate on what the requirements were.

59 reports against MACC officers

The Star

A TOTAL of 59 police reports were lodged between 2005 and 2010 against the Malaysian Anti-Cor­ruption Commission (MACC) officers for allegedly using force on complainants during investigations.

Out of the number, 23 are still pending investigations by the police, 29 are awaiting instructions from the Attorney-General’s Chambers and seven have been classified as “no further action”.

The figure was provided in a written statement from the Home Ministry to Gobind Singh Deo (DAP - Puchong).

“It is strange that none of these 29 reports was taken to court despite complaints made as far back as 2005,” he said in Parliament lobby yesterday.

“The Attorney General should explain why his office is still sitting on those files.” 

Libya state TV: Ras Lanuf 'cleansed' of gangs

Ras Lanuf, Libya (CNN) -- Libya claimed it took control of the key oil port of Ras Lanuf from opposition forces Thursday, as international diplomats and leaders maneuvered to counter and undermine the tenacious regime of embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Battles have been raging in and around Ras Lanuf and many cities, with the regime using planes and heavy artillery in an effort to reclaim areas that have been taken by the opposition and standing firm in their fight.

Libya's state TV reported on an "urgent" banner that "Ras Lanuf has been cleansed from the armed gangs connected to al Qaeda." The fighters were clearly on the defensive Thursday, but the ousting of opposition forces cannot be independently confirmed.

"We will never surrender," said Saif Gadhafi, the son of Moammar Gadhafi and a prominent spokesman for the regime.

As the fighting got the better of the rebels on Thursday, the Libyan opposition gained momentum internationally, thanks to gestures from major Western powers, as NATO mulled the option of a no-fly zone.

The French government recognized the newly created Libyan opposition movement as the sole representative of the country, the British foreign secretary spoke to an opposition representative over the phone. In the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced plans to meet with opposition leaders next week. She said the United States was suspending relationships with the Libyan Embassy in Washington, and an administration official added the embassy "must shut down."

Protests against the 68-year-old Gadhafi began February 15 as anti-government demonstrators sought his ouster after nearly 42 years of rule, and the discontent devolved into a fierce and bloody civil war.

A few days ago, rebel forces were advancing steadily westward toward Gadhafi's stronghold in the capital, Tripoli. But that advancement appears to have reversed. Opposition fighters, armed with anti-aircraft guns and Soviet rifles, were outgunned by the heavily armed pro-Gadhafi forces.

On Thursday, the wrath of the Libyan military could be seen and heard in Ras Lanuf.

Witnesses said Libyan naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea bombarded a residential area on the eastern edge of Ras Lanuf, and army forces moving toward the city fired tank or mortar rounds at a mosque and just outside a hospital.

Witnesses think civilians have fled the town, and many opposition forces have pulled out of the city amid a steady bombardment from government troops.

Several badly wounded opposition fighters were being carried out of Ras Lanuf in the back of pickup trucks, witnesses said. The back window of a car carrying an Al-Jazeera English crew was smashed by a bullet fired by government forces in Ras Lanuf. The crew was shaken by the incident but is doing well.

A doctor who worked in Ras Lanuf said at least three people were killed and 30 wounded in fighting before the main hospital had to be evacuated. Doctors at a hospital in the city of al-Brega reported two deaths and more than 20 injuries from fighting in Ras Lanuf.

West of Ras Lanuf, in Misrata, citizens braced for an attack that seemed imminent Thursday, according to a spokesman for the opposition. Eyewitnesses have seen Gadhafi's forces massing in an area west of the city preparing to launch an offensive, the spokesman said.

Opposition fighters were shooting in the air as jets flew over al-Brega.

America's top U.S. intelligence official, James Clapper, took note of Libya's military prowess at a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting Thursday. He said Gadhafi is in the fight for the long haul and is intent on staying put and fighting.

At present, the Libyan military has the superior firepower to survive opposition offensives said Clapper.

Clapper described the Libyan air defense as "substantial," saying it is second largest in the region, after Egypt, but he did not address how fighting would fare against Libya if a no-fly zone or other military strategies were imposed.

He said Gadhafi has a lot of aircraft, although a lot are not very operational. To "some extent," he said, the aircraft have been used for attacks, but they have caused more structural damage than injury.

In Brussels, Belgium, NATO defense ministers discussed the option of a no-fly zone over the North African country. Its secretary-general said a move to impose one would have to be predicated on a clear mandate from the United Nations.

The body also decided to bolster its presence in the Mediterranean Sea and perform detailed planning on humanitarian assistance.

International military officials say the imposition of such a no-fly zone could be very complicated, but many opposition figures -- such as Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, a former justice minister who quit last month in protest and now heads the interim government in eastern Libya -- are advocating for the move. Gadhafi has said that imposing such a zone would simply unite Libyans behind him.

Saying NATO is "united," "vigilant," and "ready to act," Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the group's secretary-general, said the body has begun around-the-clock airborne surveillance of Libya's airspace.

Rasmussen said that AWACS aircraft, sophisticated airplanes with the ability to detect aircraft and act as command and control centers, have been deployed. However, their presence doesn't mean that NATO is deciding to stage operations now. He said they are monitoring what the Gadhafi regime is doing to its people and that NATO will stand ready to help if there is a clear need and support.

"Time is of the essence," he said, adding that the crisis requires "close international coordination" between organizations such as NATO, the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and the Arab League.

Asked whether he would characterize the conflict as a civil war, Rasmussen said "what we can see is that it's an armed upheaval. There is fighting. There is also, of course, the risk of division with the country, and the risk of seeing a failed state in the future that could be the breeding ground" for terror.

On a number of fronts, the opposition and the Gadhafi government moved to garner support.

France has formally recognized the National Transitional Council, Libya's opposition body, as the country's only legitimate representative, the French government confirmed Thursday.

The Gadhafi government will consider ending its relationship with France in light of the development, according to Libyan state TV.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke by telephone with Mahmoud Jabril, the National Transitional Council's special envoy.

He said European foreign ministers on Thursday talked about how the EU should react "to the continuing appalling and unacceptable actions" of the regime.

A Foreign Office statement said Jabril urged humanitarian aid and options to hinder Gadhafi's "ability to inflict further violence on the Libyan people," such as a no-fly zone.

Hague "made clear that planning was under way on a full range of responses, including the possible establishment of a no-fly zone. It would need international support, a clear trigger and a legal basis. He also said that another diplomatic mission would be sent to Benghazi shortly," the statement said. Benghazi is the base of the Libyan opposition.

In the United States, Clinton on Thursday echoed the widespread international sentiment that Gadhafi must depart immediately and that sanctions, pressures and isolation are needed to stop the regime's violence.

Testifying Thursday before the House Appropriations Committee, Clinton said the United States is "suspending our relationships with the existing Libyan embassy so we expect them to end operating as the embassy of Libya."

A senior administration official, speaking on background because he was not authorized to speak on the record, told CNN this is a sign that "Gadhafi is no longer the legitimate leader of Libya and therefore his representatives should leave."

The Council of the European Union Thursday announced it will extend restrictions against Libyan entities.

"The funds and economic resources of the five designated entities will be frozen and an additional name will be added to the list of 26 individuals deemed responsible for the violent crackdown on the civilian population since 15 February and subject to an assets freeze," the EU said in a statement.

The body previously banned "the supply to Libya of arms, ammunition and related material, prohibited trade with Libya in equipment which might be used for internal repression and imposed a visa ban and an assets freeze on 26 individuals," including Gadhafi, members of his family and close associates.

As for Gadhafi's government, it has sought to influence international sentiment, announcing that its secretary of state for international relations will travel to Portugal, Greece and Malta on an exploratory, fact-finding mission that may include other destinations.

The country has also invited British, French, Dutch and German fact-finding teams to examine reports of aerial bombardment and massacres. None has taken up Gadhafi on the offer.

The fighting has been brutal. Death toll estimates have ranged from more than 1,000 to as many as 2,000. And the war has forced out 215,000 people, many of them poor migrant workers who have been stranded at both the Tunisian and Egyptian borders, the U.N. refugee agency has said.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Thursday condemned the detention and possible torture by Libyan authorities of a BBC news team working to cover the conflict in the western city of Zawiya. The journalists, released from detention in Libya Wednesday, told of beatings and mock executions.

The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, reported that one of its correspondents, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is missing.

He was traveling with Andrei Netto of the Brazilian newspaper Estado, who was detained by authorities while reporting from Libya, the Guardian said. Netto was released Thursday and will leave the country Friday

Hand Memorandum at Parliment

Gobala's exit and attacks cash greased, says PKR

Ballot box the only way

Employing brute force to crush dissent is not the answer to solve social ills. State terror as an instrument of policy is a poor substitute for reasoned dialogue and level-headed discussion. Beatings, tear gas, boots, truncheons only inflict pain on the body but they can never pulverise the spirit of a people determined to seek justice. In the Arab world, the people have shown dogged resistance against the might of repressive governments and, against all odds, beat back the tide of state-sponsored aggression. They taught the world a lesson in the power of unarmed people to root out uncaring rulers. The state may have an arsenal of weapons at its disposal but they are useless against a popular uprising.

The march against racism on Feb 27 is nothing compared with the days of rage that shook the Arab regimes to the core. But that is beside the point. The fury that drove the people in West Asia to take on the might of the state is no different from the anger that propelled the marginalised minority in Malaysia to brave the wrath of the ominipotent government. Their action may not have inflamed the whole country but they have sent a strong message to the political masters: do not play with the fire of racism. Racial discrimination is abhorrent. It is a poison that can destroy both people and country.

But the leaders are not listening to the strident cry for justice. Or are merely paying lip service. They treat the minority race with contempt as exemplified by the actions of the police who looked upon every Indian on the city streets as enemies of the state. Their ruthless assault on the defenceless protesters is indeed an act of rank racism. The demonstrators were seen as criminals instead of a disadvantaged group who merely wanted to right the wrongs perpetrated on them. Their cause is righteous but the powers that be saw fit to tar and feather them all the same. In their eyes, the marchers were all trouble-makers. They refused to acknowledge the justice of their cause.

Were all those men and women a threat to national security? They certainly were not. They did not attack the institutions of law and order with guns and Molotov cocktails. They did not burn, loot or harm properties or persons. They did not run riot on the streets. They simply gathered peacefully to tell the rulers it is wrong not to remove a much-aligned book from the schools and morally wrong to pursue flawed policies that sidelined other races. Their grievances are geniune. Their hurt is deep. But their pleas were lost in the burst of senseless police violence. The robotic police, doing the bidding of their cold political masters, are indeed a menace to the exercise of freedom of expression. The politicians, who listen to their own counsel, represent an even bigger peril to the very institution of democracy. The people including the marginalised group elected them to high office but they have turned the government of the people into a government without the people.

It is unlikely that the political bigwigs will back down from their entrenched position. Power is in their hands and they will do everything to beat down any challenge. They will continue to use the race card given the dominant position of the majority race. In time to come they might even throw overboard all their partners and the rule the waves alone – and become more overbearing. But the country still believes in the benefits of democracy. The spirit of persecution alone cannot sustain the wellbeing of a nation for long. A nation in perpetual strife cannot stand united. Violence will only breed more violence. Only in democracy – and the power of the ballot box – can the poor and downtrodden find the ammunition to topple unjust rulers and end the reign of blind terror.

A general election is looming. It is a crucial battle that will decide the course of the country in the next five years. The marginalised citizens will have the chance to make their stand known loud and clear. They may not carry a big clout but by aligning with forces sympathetic to their cause, they can make a big difference in the outcome. They may even play the role of kingmaker and install a government better suited to the temper of the people. In their thousands they can come out and cast their ballots. They do not require a permit to choose their leaders and there is nothing the police can do to stop them from exercising their rights. If their voice was snuffed out in public, their votes will do them justice in secret. Power that issues from the weapon of suffrage is a better safeguard of liberty than power that comes out of the barrel of a water cannon.

With MIC bending backward to please UMNO, Malaysian Indian’s position become mor

By Senator Ramakrishnan,

In the Merlimau “buy election”, MIC was effectively used by UMNO to secure Indian votes to strengthen UMNO’s political grip. MIC and their other cohorts like IPF and PPP served Malacca CM Ali Rustam and UMNO well to get the Indian voters. They effectively used Minnal FM, TH Raga, 1Malaysia T-shirts, small goodies worth about RM30 each, dinners and promises of Tamil school and temple to deceive plantation workers to vote for UMNO.

Besides the handouts, MIC also ensured that the Indian voters don’t listen to PR leaders. They hire buses to take out voters for dinners, trips and RM50 cash each. Many Indian voters received goody bags five or six times during the short campaign period. The poor plantation workers are kept ignorant and in fearful state. Therefore with MIC around, Malaysian Indians don’t need enemies. The plantation based Indians will remain poor for a long time to come.

The UMNO victory in Merlimau and Kerdau is hard work at all cost. Credit must be given to BN for their tireless effort in using all government machinery from PM office to local councils, media, police and money. Everything at their disposal was utilized to the maximum. Cabinet members and BN chief ministers were present meeting the people throughout the one week campaign period. The roads were tarred and the town cleaned with blockages in drains all removed within the short campaign period. Flower decorations were arranged along the main roads. Merlimau would have never seen such a make-shift before. PAS was not only contesting against UMNO but also the entire government machinery. At this rate it is Impossible to defeat BN in a buy election. BN wants to win by hook or crook. PR is just making their presence felt because they were never visible in these areas working on the ground before. Even the voters will tell that they have never seen opposition working like this before.

Against such a formidable opponent, PR component parties do not have the resources. PR activities were meek and lack pomp and splendor to attract younger voters and crowd. Their public rallies were crowded with non voters from surrounding areas. There were no coordination nor central command, monitoring the whole operations for PR. PAS has support in certain Malay kampongs while PKR has no grass root presence. DAP’s presence are in Chinese areas which is small in Merlimau. Indian voters were left to DAP and PKR Indian leaders to handle. But everybody did their best in making their campaign work. The results may not be immediate in view of the mighty BN money and machinery but their presence were made. Voters in Merlimau could not resist the goodies delivered by BN left right and center.

Since the PR candidate was from PAS, they have to appeal to both non-Malays and Malays. PAS is so insulated by their Islamic ideology that they are unable to understand the feelings and wants of non-Malays. Their religiousness is so entrenched that they seem to overlook the economic and political reality. UMNO can easily hoodwink the poor Malay and non Malay voters by giving them pittance and in return secure their votes to rule this country. PAS has to outgrow and look at the larger issues like good governance, corruption, economic growth for all Malaysians if it aspires to reach Putrajaya. Hardliners in PAS are more concerned about policing the moral behaviors of Malays in valentine dinners and gambling outlets. They are driving away the moderate Malays, educated Malay women and non-Malay voters. PAS will be accepted by all Malaysians when the moderate leaders lead the party. The moderate leaders of PAS are Prime Ministerial Candidates. Will the hardliners allow moderate leaders to lead the party? Only time will tell if this is possible.

Defeating BN in a by election is not possible when the election commission turns the other way at every abuse of BN. However, the presence of PR is exerting pressure on BN to deliver and voters are benefiting from it. By elections are becoming expensive affairs and can BN maintain the expensive buy elections? How the voters vote in the General elections will be interesting to look for.

India rejects Sri Lankan charge of Tamil Tiger camps

The body of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran is carried on a stretcher through a group of Sri Lankan soldiers at Nanthikadal lagoon, in northern Sri Lanka, in this file photo of May 19, 2009. Sri Lanka says March 10, 2011 that separatist rebels were training members in Tamil Nadu to carry out assassinations. – Reuters pic
NEW DELHI, March 10 – India denied today the presence of Tamil Tiger camps in its south, a day after Sri Lanka said the separatist rebels were training members in Tamil Nadu to carry out assassinations. Sri Lankan Prime Minister D.M. Jayarathne told parliament on yesterday intelligence reports showed that remnants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had established three training camps in the southern Indian state.

The allegations of Indian involvement struck an unpleasant chord in Sri Lanka, because India in the 1970s and 1980s trained the LTTE and other Tamil separatist groups in Tamil Nadu as part of a strategy to counter US influence in its tiny neighbour.

“There are no camps of the LTTE in India as far as we are aware. The LTTE is still a banned organisation and wherever we find their cadres we will arrest them,” India’s Home Secretary Gopal Pillai said.

“If they have any information, the Sri Lankan government can pass it on to us and we will follow it up.”
The Sri Lankan government crushed the LTTE in May 2009 after a quarter-century war during which the Tigers fought to create a separate state for the Tamil minority, who represent about 15 per cent of the island nation’s 21 million people.

Tamil Nadu is 40km across the Palk Strait from Sri Lanka and is home to roughly 65 million Tamils. Many supported the LTTE, and state politicians have used the ethnic bloc to influence New Delhi’s policy toward Sri Lanka for decades.

Sri Lanka’s Jayarathne told parliament yesterday that information showed at least one of the secret camps was set up to train fighters in VIP assassinations, an LTTE specialty. During the war, they killed two Sri Lankan heads of state and former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

“Intelligence has gathered information that in the hope of assassinating Indian state leaders and re-establishing themselves in Sri Lanka, the Tigers are training in three secret locations in Tamil Nadu,” Jayarathne said.

Sri Lanka’s US$50 billion economy has been on a revival course since the end of the war in 2009, but the country still remains under some wartime emergency laws that give the government powers of arrest and detention without cause.

Although Western governments have pressed the government to relax them further, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has used his large parliamentary majority to keep them in place, arguing that to relax them would mean some LTTE operatives would go free. – Reuters

MIED fiasco: Samy’s appeal quashed

The Court of Appeal dealt the former MIC boss a blow by upholding the ruling for all MIED documents to be disclosed.
PUTRAJAYA: Fomer MIC president S Samy Vellu was dealt another blow when the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal filed by him and seven other trustees of Maju Institute for Educational Development (MIED).

The appeal was filed against a High Court ruling that MIC’s education arm disclose all documents since 1990.
With the latest decision, Samy Vellu as MIED’s chairman and the trustees must hand over cheque butts, bank statements, receipts, donation books, ledgers and invoices fom 1990 to July 2010.

The order also involved documents relating to the construction of the Asian Institute of Medicine Science and Technology (AIMST), which allegedly caused huge financial losses.

The three-men bench comprising Court of Appeal judges, Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud, Sulaiman Daud and Mohd Apandi Ali, also ordered that all the documents be handed to law firm Azalina & Co by March 18, the firm which acted on behalf of former MIC Youth chief SA Vigneswaran.

Counsel A Vasanthi told FMT that the bench, headed by Tengku Baharuddin, ruled that the court would not disturb the findings of the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Jan 10 this year.

She said documents sought by her client also covered all the contracts, tenders, payment made and minutes of meetings, as well as all details of receipients of Rolex watches and jewellery which were purchased with MIED funds.

The High Court had ordered Samy Vellu and the trustees to disclose all the documents and also allowed Vigneswaran’s application for the defendants to reveal the letter of appointment of MIED’s former chief executive officer P Chitirakala and her scope of work.

MIED had sought a total of 12 documents after High Court Judicial Commissioner Mah Weng Kwai on June 14 last year, allowed an application by Vigneswaran to name MIED as the plaintiff in its proposed suit against the trustees of MIED.

Besides Samy Vellu, the other defendants are his successor G Palanivel, M Mahalingam, T Marimuthu, S K Ampikaipakam, Karnail Singh Nijhar, K Kumaran and G Vadiveloo.

Other documents sought under the custody, possession and control of defendants were documents showing monies received and paid out by MIED from 1990 up to the date Vigneswaran filed a RM100 million suit against Samy Vellu and the trustees of MIED on July 5, 2010.

In the suit, MIED (Vigneswaran) claimed that all the defendants had breached their fiduciary and statutory duties, and failed to discharge responsibilities as trustees and auditors.

MIED was also seeking an injunction to restrain Samy Vellu from continuing to helm the institute, stripped of his membership in MIED and for him to return all monies or profits made from MIED either by himself or through family members and close friends.

MIED was also seeking a court order to make Samy Vellu compensate for all the financial losses incurred by the institute in the time he had administered MIED as its chairman.

Vigneswaran, who is also a member of MIED, had sought the court’s permisssion to initiate the suit under the Companies Act 1965 where the Act requires a company seeking to be a plaintiff in a suit to first get the court’s permission.

Bukit Jalil folks’ demand can be met

Land scarcity is a lame excuse to dismiss request of former estate workers' who have contributed immensely to nation-building, says MIC youth chief

PETALING JAYA: MIC youth chief T Mohan urged the Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Ministry to give Ladang Bukit Jalil residents the four-acre land they are seeking.

Taking a swipe at the ministry’s deputy minister M Saravanan, Mohan said scarcity of land was no excuse to deny the estate workers’ demand.

“The government can afford to give away four out of the 26 acres of land City Hall has acquired for development, in recognition of their (the residents’) contribution to nation-building,” said Mohan.

On Monday, Saravanan, who is also MIC vice president, said the government could not meet the residents’ request as there was a scarcity of land space in Kuala Lumpur.

He also said that while those who had moved out earlier were given only RM1,000 with an option to rent units at a nearby City Hall flats, those remaining were getting a better deal.

Saravanan’s boss, Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, on Feb 23, offered RM23,000 each to those who had worked in the rubber estate for more than 15 years and RM11,000 for the rest.

He also threatened them with eviction irrespective of whether they took up the offer, which he said was equivalent to getting a free house.

Dismissing the minister’s claim, Mohan said there were instances of estate workers getting a better deal than what is being offered by DBKL to the Bukit Jalil folk.

“The former workers of Bukit Tinggi estate were given units on the ground floor of a low cost flats while former workers of  Braemar estate received low cost flats for free.

“In fact, the Kinrara estate residents near Ladang Bukit Jalil were given low cost houses in Kinrara itself by the developer,”said Mohan.

The Bukit Jalil folk who rejected Nong Chik’s offer have sought help from the Bar Council help on Tuesday to stop the planned eviction scheduled for March 15.

They also submitted a memorandum to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) for assistance and will be  heading to the Parliament today to enlist the support of friendly MPs.

‘Raw deal’ for Gerakan Indians

The party's Indian members are upset that only one Indian has been chosen among the 17 constituency coordinators.

GEORGE TOWN: Gerakan Indian members are seeing red with the party leadership for giving them a “virtually zero deal” in Penang with regard to the next general election.

They claimed that the state leadership, now helmed by Dr Teng Hock Nan, “has played them out again.”

Businessman A Mohan was the only Indian among the 17 constituency coordinators appointed during a high-powered state meeting in late January. He was appointed as the Batu Kawan parliamentary constituency coordinator.

Teng had said the coordinators were the front-liners for candidacy in the next election.

FMT learnt that the state committee had omitted vocal lawyer, Baljit Singh, from the candidature list to make way for Rowena Yam, who is said to be Teng’s crony, for the Pulau Tikus state constituency.

Baljit was among the 25 hopefuls who attended a special interview session last December conducted by an ad-hoc committee.

Despite being a favourite to land Pulau Tikus, a party insider alleged that Teng, with tacit backing from party president Koh Tsu Koon, left out Baljit because the lawyer was not in the good books of the party top brass.

Sources claimed that even Mohan’s position was not sealed. They speculated that he would be substituted by the constituency division chairman Ng Siew Lai in the last minute. Ng is also closely aligned to Teng.

A Gerakan Indian member from Seberang Perai claimed that while Indians form some 30% of Penang Gerakan’s 63,000 members, their representation had never been proportionate be it within or outside the party.

“Gerakan only wants qualified Indians as political mandores and decoration for its so-called multi racial facet. Grassroots Indian members are used only to wave party flags, put up banners, streamers and glue posters,” said the vexed member.

This was not the first time Gerakan had slapped Indian members with such a raw deal.

Under the previous state leadership of former chief minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Gerakan had only nominated one Indian candidate in Penang – Rhina Bhar for the Jelutong parliamentary seat in 1995.

Comparing the party with rivals DAP, Gerakan’s Indian members argued that the Chinese-dominated DAP fielded Indians in two federal and four state seats in 2008, while Gerakan had none.

Stringent vetting system

However, Chin Fook Weng, who heads the ad hoc committee, said the lack of Indian participation was a result of a stringent candidate vetting system based on political skills not skin-colour.

Chin’s five-man ad-hoc committee, formed by the party central working committee (CWC), sources and develops potential political leadership talents and candidates to fill up various positions offered to Gerakan within the Barisan Nasional sphere.

He said the party chose candidates based on various merits including political skills, abilities, experience, desires, public rapport, activeness within the party and community work, and most importantly, winning credentials.

“We can’t afford to pick a candidate based on skin colour especially when Gerakan is keen to advocate multi-racial politics and meritocracy,” he explained.

However, he admitted that shortage of Indian political talent had been among the major failures of Gerakan, despite controlling the Penang government for 39 years.

“It has always been the party’s Achilles heel,” he said.

Gerakan was wiped out in all four federal and 13 state seats, allotted under the BN electoral formula, in Penang in the last election.

Bersih warns of Egypt-style rally

The electoral reform groups points out that the government in Egypt fell because the people could not exercise their voting rights in a free and fair manner.
KUALA LUMPUR: Electoral reform group Bersih may consider holding a second mass rally ala Egypt’s Tahrir Square uprising to demand for reform in Malaysia’s election system.

The idea will have PAS’ backing, said Mohd Sabu, chief of the Islamic party’s Democracy Driver Committee.
According to him, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has forced voters to resort to such a move.
“The BN government is forcing people to take the streets,” he told a press conference at the PAS headquarters here.

Bersih held its first mass rally in the city in late 2007 which saw close to 80,000 people taking to the streets to protest against the Election Commission (EC) and its alleged biasness.

Two new demands
The protesters marched towards the National Palace to hand over a memorandum demanding the implementation of four key reforms:

The review of the alleged tainted electoral roll, abolishing postal votes, fair media coverage and a minimum of 21 days campaigning period for the general election.

PAS, whose leaders sit on the Bersih Steering Committee, said two more demands have been added to the original – that constituency delineation be done based on social needs and better enforcement to prevent political bribery.

One of the leaders, PAS central working committee member Dr Dzulkelfly Ahmad cited two alleged cases of “blatant” political bribery made by BN chairman and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

One was in the Sibu by-election where Najib was quoted by the media as saying “you help me, I help you” when he promised voters there to tackle the prolonged flood problems if BN won the parliamentary seat.

Dzulkefly said Najib made an almost similar remark at the recent Kerdau by-election in Pahang that saw PAS defeated by BN.

The premier purportedly told Kerdau voters during a ceramah “we do not buy votes but if you support us we will increase your allocation”.

“If this is not corruption, I don’t know what is corruption,” the PAS leader told the same press conference.
There were no concrete discussions yet on the second rally dubbed “Bersih 2″ but Mohd Sabu hinted that a mass demonstration was more than likely.

“Whether or not we take to the streets depends on the leader. If they do not meet our demands (for electoral reform), then the voters will definitely resort to street protest,” he said.

Should Bersih decide otherwise, the former PAS vice-president said the PAS leadership would meet to discuss what path to take next.

Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin had both warned against any attempt by opposition supporters to emulate the bloody Egypt uprising and accused Pakatan Rakyat leaders of intentionally using the upheaval there to instigate their supporters.

However, Mohd Sabu said the rally would not be held to topple BN but to demand what “is inherently the voters’ right to free and fair elections.”

“The government of Egypt fell because the voters no longer can exercise a fair, free election and they resorted to street protests,” he added.

EC deputy chairman must resign
Meanwhile, Syed Azman Syed Ahmad, another PAS central working committee member who sits with the Bersih leadership, claimed that he has evidence that deputy EC chief Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was conspiring with BN to topple Pakatan state governments.

He made no disclosure of the proof to back his allegation but demanded Wan Ahmad’s immediate resignation.

“He is supposed to act impartially but he has been blatantly open in his support and has acted like a BN stool,” said Syed Azman.

Why interrogate Teoh for so long?

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officer was today asked why he had taken almost two hours to interrogate Teoh Beng Hock when the scope of his investigation was confined to just four documents.

James Foong, the chairman of the Royal Commission of Inquiry investigating Teoh’s death, asked assistant enforcement officer Arman Alies: “You were just ordered by your superior to check through four documents, why did that take so long?”

Arman, 35, said that it was because he and Teoh had to go through all the documents contained in four large folders and not just the four invoices.

Foong then asked Arman if he had asked Teoh about matters other than the four invoices he was ordered to check through with his colleague Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus.

“Yes, I asked about other documents,” said Arman.

“So Arman, you did more than what (your superior) Hairul (Ilham Hamzah) tasked you to do, which is to check those four documents. Why did you exceed your powers?” asked Foong.

Later on, Foong again queried if anything else had happened as he was unconvinced that the questioning could last two hours.

“Why did you take so long for such a small thing, it’s just claims and signatures. Since you said all the documents were suspect, then to tag all these could just take half an hour. Was there anything else that happened?”

Close perusal of documents

When questioned by conducting officer Awang Armadajaya Pengiran Mahmud, Arman then defended himself.

Awang: Like the chairman asked, why did it take two hours?

Arman: It’s actually not two hours, just one hour plus.

Awang: Okay then, but why did it take so long?

Arman: I just asked him (Teoh) and he just looked through the documents again and again. All the four files, he went through the documents one by one.

Awang: And he took one and a half hours for that?

Arman: Yes, almost.

Awang: When you left the MACC office, did you think about the welfare of Teoh or you just did not care at all?

Arman: After 11.50pm (when the questioning ended) I did not see him anymore. I can’t say I didn’t care, that’s too harsh. My official duty with him was over. I believed that the investigating officer should be taking over from me.

Was it a fishing trip?

Arman was also asked by the commission on what basis he had found documents taken from Teoh’s laptop to be suspicious.

Foong: Where is your basis for your suspicions? Had you gone over to the place where the projects were allegedly not completed? Or were all documents suspicious?

Commissioner Abdul Kadir Sulaiman: There must have been a basis to suspect a person of something, was it based on secret information received?

Foong: Or were you just going on a fishing trip?

Kadir: Maybe you are holding a personal grudge against someone like Teoh, so you pick on certain people to be suspects. That’s why we want to know the basis of your suspicions.

T Selventhiranathan: You could have gone to the company owners to see if the signatures on the claims documents were real. That should have been the first thing you did.

Arman: Actually those could have been done, but I was ordered to just check the four documents so that’s what I did.

Silent and soft spoken

Earlier, Arman said he was tasked by Hairul to cross check four invoices with documents from four files. He said that he did not know more about the investigations and his scope was merely the four documents.

Responding to Awang, Arman said during the interview, he had asked Teoh his name, his origin, his educational background and how long he had known Seri Kembangan state assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah.

Arman said he also asked if Teoh had the authority to sign documents on behalf of Ean Yong.

“I also asked why most of the jobs were through direct negotiation and without quotations from other companies…also whether Teoh was aware of a council ordinance that stipulates that three quotations were needed before a job could be approved… I asked who decided who got the jobs,” said Arman.

He said he ordered Mohd Ashraf to tag documents that seemed suspicious.

Arman said Teoh was often silent and spoke softly but did not look stressed. He seemed to be always thinking and concentrating, and trying to remember something.

Meanwhile, the commission announced that it will be providing Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand with personal bodyguards during her stay in Malaysia.

“The commission received an application from Dr Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan through Malik Imtiaz Sarwar today to enlist the services of a personal bodyguard the whole time she is in Malaysia. The commission has agreed to fulfil this request,” said commission secretary Saripuddin Kassim.

However, he said the commission has asked her to reconsider her request to give a statement at a later date.

Pornthip sought to postpone the dates from March 16 to 17 to April 18 but the commission has asked that she come before April.

In the afternoon, Arman was also grilled by Bar Council lawyer Christopher Leong on several points.

Leong suggested that there was actually no need to ask Teoh to check through the documents as Arman could have done it himself. Arman disagreed.

But when suggested that Ashraf was actually not needed during the interrogation, Arman agreed.

Leong also suggested that the entire exercise was an easy one and could have taken a shorter time.

“The reason you spent so much time with Teoh, is to intimidate Teoh,” asked Leong, to which Arman said: “I don’t agree.”

Leong managed to find a conflicting statement with Arman’s testimony during the inquest.

“Earlier, your police statement stated that the interview lasted between 10.15pm and 12.40am but now you’re saying it is between 10.40pm and 11.50pm,” said Leong.

Attempting to defend himself, Arman said that the police officer at the police headquarters had refused to hear his statement properly.

“When I told the officer, he did not hear it properly (that’s why the timing is off),” said Arman.

However, this prompted a rebuke from Foong, who said: “Teoh had written in a note that MACC people had wrote different things when he said something different too. You complain about people’s department but look at your own house first.”

Inconsistent statements

Arman also contradicted his statement on the time he last saw Teoh.

Initially at the inquest he had said that he had left the interrogation room and returned to inform Teoh about another officer recording his statement; today, he said he had left the room and never saw Teoh again.

However, when Leong pressed him on the inconsistency, Arman said he actually did return.

“This is quite different, isn’t it, from what you’ve stated? But never mind, we proceed,” said Foong.

Before the proceedings adjourned, MACC lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informed the court that the MACC was trying to find the handwritten notes taken during Teoh’s questioning.

Previously, Selventhiranathan asked MACC to tender those notes as evidence in the inquiry.

Shafee said unlike in the old days where enforcement agencies carried notepads which were endorsed by their superiors, nowadays, handwritten notes are destroyed.

“I am informed that in MACC, they would convert those written notes into typed statements that are then made official; therefore it is difficult to get these notes but MACC will try,” said Shafee.

However, Leong immediately stood up and said: “I am astonished by Shafee’s statement. I have never heard of police or any enforcement diaries being destroyed before.”

Put on the defensive, Shafee then said: “Never have I in all my years as a defence lawyer seen an investigating body that has revealed that much. MACC has been very positive in the way it has declassified so many documents.”

However, Foong stopped the exchange, saying that the private investigator would be tasked into looking into this.

The commission reconvenes on Monday morning.

Teoh, the political aide of Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong of DAP, was found dead on July 16, 2009, on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam.

He had been interrogated the night before by MACC officers at their office, located on the 14th floor of the same building.

The MACC was investigating the alleged misuse of Selangor government allocations.

On Jan 5, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas returned an open verdict in the inquest into Teoh’s death, ruling out both suicide and homicide. Subsequently, the government caved in to public pressure and established the commission now sitting.

It is investigating both the cause of Teoh’s death and MACC’s interrogation methods.

The inquiry is scheduled to end on April 25.

Gobala is suddenly rich, says PKR

Saifuddin Nasution accuses the Padang Serai MP of betraying the party for money.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR today accused Independent Padang Serai MP N Gobalakrishnan of receiving payment for betraying the party, but the latter has dismissed the charge as false.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail showed reporters copies of two Hong Leong cheques for a total of RM1.4 million, supposedly signed by the party renegade.

The cheques were dated last Jan 12 and March 15. January and March were the months in which Gobalakrishnan made his most fiery attacks against PKR, Saifuddin noted.

“Where did the money come from? Who was so kind to help?” he said at a conference with reporters covering Parliament. He is the MP for Machang.

Gobalakrishnan, interviewed afterwards, said Saifuddin was jumping to conclusions.

“I’m not the one who signed the cheques,” he said. “The most I’ve ever signed is RM10,000, and I don’t think I’ve ever signed any cheques this year.”

Saifuddin told reporters that Gobalakrishnan ran into financial troubles after joining PKR in 1999 and alleged that he left the party because he could not get a position in a company controlled by a Pakatan Rakyat state government.

He also said Gobalakrishnan owned a company known as Embun Megah Sdn Bhd and that it was strange that the company was suddenly able to settle payment to Kumpulan Pertanian Kelantan Bhd (KPKB) over a land lease dispute in Lojing, Kelantan.

He alleged that it would have been impossible for Gobalakrishnan to get “this kind of money” to settle his business affairs if he had remained in the party.

“If Gobalakrishnan can settle RM1.4 million in three months, how much did he receive for betraying the party?”

Out-of-court settlement

Gobalakrishnan denied that he owned Embun Megah, but said his siblings had a “70 to 80 percent” share of the company and once had a legal dispute with KPKB, a minority shareholder.

He said Embun Megah and KPKB reached an out-of-court settlement last January and the siblings would have to pay out RM1.5 million.

The money, according to him, would come from a property developer who had agreed to work on the land in Lojing. The developer would pay another RM1 million to Embun Megah, he added. He did not name the developer.

Gobalakrishnan also attacked PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim, alleging that he had not returned one of two cars he lent him two years ago.

He said Anwar borrowed the Nissan cars for his bodyguards in March 2009, and had returned only one of them.

Gobalakrishnan left PKR early this year, after publicly making a series criticisms against the party and its leaders.

Nazri: Opposition like 'headless chicken'

By Zuhrin Azam Ahmad, The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The Opposition has no leader in Parliament simply because they cannot accept each other, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

He said they could have easily picked seasoned MPs such as Lim Kit Siang or Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to lead them.

"However, they just could not reach a consensus on who should lead them (in Parliament) because they are not really together.

"The DAP won't accept a PAS representative and I think PAS too, cannot see a DAP MP leading the Opposition bench.

"They are headless chicken," he told newsmen after meeting 229 Public Services Department-sponsored Japan-bound students here Thursday.

Nazri, however, expected the current Parliament session to be lively even though the Opposition were headless.

He said the Government backbenchers were capable of bringing up relevant issues and participates in the debate with facts.

"It is business as usual," he said.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was suspended for six months in December for linking Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's 1Malaysia concept to the One Israel campaign.

The Permatang Pauh MP and PKR adviser had said that the Government's public relations consultancy - Apco Worldwide - had masterminded both the initiatives.

Three other Pakatan MPs - Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor), Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) and R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) - were also suspended for alleged contempt of the House when they revealed confidential proceedings of the Rights and Privileges Committee's investigations into Anwar's accusations.'

They were each handed a six-month suspension.

Earlier this month, Lim, who is also Ipoh Timur MP, said in his blog that Anwar would remain as the Opposition leader even if PKR MPs numbered less than DAP's 28.