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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Murnikan Interlok atau keluarkan terus, kata Kavyan

Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan tidak mahu berkompromi dalam usaha murni memulihkan maruah Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain

PETALING JAYA: Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) tetap dengan pendirian bahawa Kementerian Pelajaran perlu mengambil langkah segera memurnikan novel Interlok edisi murid (2010) dengan membetulkan segala kesilapan bahasa, fakta dan perkara yang menyentuh sensitiviti masyarakat pelbagai kaum.

Presidennya, Uthaya Sankar SB berkata, sekiranya kesemua kesalahan dan kelemahan yang amat nyata itu tidak dimurnikan, adalah lebih baik membatalkan sahaja keputusan menjadikan novel itu sebagai teks Komponen Sastera Dalam Mata Pelajaran Bahasa Malaysia (Komsas).

“Hasil penelitian Kavyan sejak Januari lalu, kami menemui sekurang-kurangnya seratus perkara berbentuk kesilapan bahasa, kesalahan fakta dan bahagian yang menyentuh sensitiviti pelbagai kaum dalam novel Interlok edisi murid.

“Segala kelemahan ini sepatutnya sudah dibaiki dan diperbetulkan sebelum karya agung oleh Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain dijadikan teks Komsas,” katanya ketika dihubungi, pagi ini.

Menurut Uthaya, Kavyan mengadakan taklimat pada pertengahan Januari lalu untuk menerangkan perkara-perkara yang perlu dimurnikan sebagai usaha mencari penyelesaian terhadap kontroversi yang timbul.

“Cadangan pemurnian teks yag disarankan oleh Kavyan tidak bermakna nilai sastera novel Interlok dipersoalkan, sebaliknya melalui langkah ini, nilai sastera Interlok dapat ditingkatkan serta maruah pengarang boleh diangkat serta dipulihkan berikutan kontroversi yang timbul,” katanya.

Pada pandangan Uthaya, amat malang sekiranya Kementerian Pelajaran hanya bersedia melakukan pindaan yang terlalu minimum walaupun dimaklumkan tentang pelbagai kesilapan yang nyata dalam novel edisi murid itu.

“Jika situasi seperti itu timbul, adalah lebih bermaruah jika novel Interlok tidak dijadikan teks Komsas kerana karya yang dijadikan teks di sekolah tidak boleh mengandungi unsur-unsur sensitif iaitu unsur yang menimbulkan prasangka dan diskriminasi, menjatuhkan maruah serta merendahkan martabat terhadap kaum, agama, kebudayaan, jantina, usia dan pekerjaan,” katanya.

Panel bebas yang dilantik untuk meminda dijangja akan menyerahkan laporan mereka kepada Timbalan Perdana Menteri yang juga Menteri Pelajaran, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin jam 2 petang ini di Parlimen.

Radiation prompts Japan plant evacuation

Japan has suspended operations to prevent quake-affected Fukushima nuclear plant from melting down after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility.

Yukio Edano, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said on Wednesday work on dousing reactors with water was disrupted by the need to withdraw.

The level of radiation at the plant surged to 1,000 millisieverts early on Wednesday before coming down to 800-600 millisieverts. Still, that was far more than the average. "So the workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now," Edano said.

Earlier, a fire broke out at the nuclear reactor again, a day after the Fukushima Daiichi power plant emitted a burst of radiation that panicked an already nervous Japan and left the government struggling to contain a crisis caused by last week's earthquake and tsunami.

The outer housing of the containment vessel at the Unit 4 at the nuclear complex erupted in flames early on Wednesday, Hajimi Motujuku, a spokesman for the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), said.

On Tuesday, a fire broke out in the same reactor's fuel storage pond - an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool - causing radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere.

TEPCO said the new blaze erupted because the initial fire had not been fully extinguished.

About three hours after the blaze erupted on Wednesday, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said fire and smoke could no longer be seen at Unit 4, but that it was unable to confirm that the blaze had been put out.

Public broadcaster NHK also said flames were no longer visible at the building housing the Unit 4 reactor.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said two workers were missing after the multiple explosions and fires at the plant in Fukushima, 240km north of Tokyo, since the quake and tsunami damaged its cooling system.

Radiation levels in areas around the nuclear plant rose early on Tuesday afternoon but appeared to subside by evening, officials said.

But the unease remained from the massive disasters that are believed to have killed more than 10,000 people and rattled the world's third-largest economy.

The radiation leak caused the government to order 140,000 people living within 30km of the plant to seal themselves indoors to avoid exposure, and authorities declared a ban on commercial air traffic through the area.

'Fuel rods damaged'

Separately, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said 70 per cent of the nuclear fuel rods in Unit 1 may have been damaged following an explosion.

Minoru Ohgoda, a spokesman, said "it's likely that roughly about 70 per cent of the fuel rods may be damaged".

But he said "we don't know the nature of the damage, and it could be either melting, or there might be some holes in them".

Worries about radiation hung heavy over Tokyo and other areas far beyond that cordon. The stock market plunged for a second day, dropping 10 per cent.

The troubles cascaded on Tuesday at the Daiichi plant, where there have already been explosions at two reactor buildings since Friday's disasters.

An explosion at a third reactor tore out a 26ft hole in the building and, experts said, damaged a vessel below the reactor, although not the reactor core. Three hours later, a fire broke out at a fourth reactor, which had been offline for maintenance.

In a nationally televised address on Tuesday, Naoto Kan, the Japanese prime minister, said radiation had seeped from four of the plant's six reactors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Japanese officials informed it that the fire was in a pool where used nuclear fuel rods are stored and that "radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere".

Long after the fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the pool might still be boiling. Depending on how bad the blast was at Unit 2, experts said more radioactive materials could seep out.

If the water in the storage pond in Unit 4 boils away, the fuel rods could be exposed, leaking more virulent radiation.

Risk perceptions

Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water and the falling radiation levels suggest the situation could be stabilising.

Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao, reporting from Yamagata on Tuesday, said a no-fly zone had been established in a 30km radius over the Fukushima plant.

Four out of six reactors at the facility were in trouble, he said.

Yukio Edano, the government spokesman, said the radiation leak potentially affected public health. But authorities and experts said the risks to the public diminished the farther the distance from the plant.

At its most intense, the leak released a radioactive dose in one hour at the site 400 times the amount a person normally receives in a year. Within six hours, that level had dropped dramatically.

A person would have to be exposed to that dose for 10 hours for it to be fatal, Jae Moo-sung, a nuclear engineering expert at Seoul's Hanyang University, said.

Radiation elsewhere never reached that level. In Tokyo, 270km to the southwest, authorities reported radiation levels nine times normal - too small, officials said, to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital.

Weather patterns helped, shifting on Tuesday night to the southeast, blowing any potential radiation from the plant towards the sea.

The IAEA said on Tuesday that all other Japanese nuclear plants were in a safe and stable condition.

Growing panic

Though Kan and other officials urged calm, the developments triggered panic in Japan and around the world amid widespread uncertainty over what would happen next.

In the worst case scenario, one or more of the reactor cores would completely melt down, a disaster that could spew large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

Three of the plant's six reactors were out of service for maintenance at the time of Friday's disasters, which compromised cooling systems at all of the reactors. Before Tuesday's fire in Unit 4's storage pool, workers were desperately trying to pump seawater to cool the fuel rods in the three active reactors.

Conditions in Unit 2 are less clear after a blast near a suppression pool, into which fuel rods are plunged to cool them and which also serves as an emergency receptical for excess steam, according to TEPCO.

The nuclear core was not damaged but the bottom of the surrounding container may have been, Shigekazu Omukai, a spokesman for Japan's nuclear safety agency, said.

The IAEA's head, Yukiya Amano, urged the Japanese government to provide better information to the agency about the situation.

Temperatures in the two other offline reactors, units 5 and 6, were slightly elevated, Edano, who is also Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said.

Fourteen pumps have been brought in to get seawater into the other reactors, and technicians were trying to figure out how to pump water into Unit 4, where the storage pool fire occurred.

Early on Wednesday, TEPCO officials said they had scrapped a plan to use helicopters, deeming them impractical, and said they were considering other options, including using fire engines.

About 70 workers remained at the complex, struggling with its myriad problems. The workers, all in protective gear, are being rotated in and out of the danger zone quickly to reduce their radiation exposure.

Kan and other officials warned 30km of the Fukushima plant to stay indoors to avoid exposure that could make people sick.

Some 70,000 people had already been evacuated from a 20km radius from the Daiichi complex. About 140,000 remain in the wider zone.

Four days after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, millions of people strung out along the east coast had little food, water or heat, and already chilly temperatures dropped further as a cold front moved in. Up to 450,000 people are in temporary shelters.

Likely death toll

Officials have only confirmed about 3,300 deaths, but officials have said the toll was likely to exceed 10,000 in one of the four hardest-hit areas. Experts involved in the 2004 Asian tsunami said there was no question more people died, despite Japan's high state of preparation, and like the earlier disaster, many thousands may never be found.

In a rare bit of good news, rescuers found two survivors on Tuesday, one of them a 70-year-old woman whose house was torn off its foundation by the tsunami.

Mostly, though, search teams found few signs of life. More than 200 rescue crews from the US and Britain poured on Tuesday into the coastal city of Ofunato, finding little but rubble and people looking for lost possessions.

As rescue teams and survivors hunted through ruined communities and officials struggled to deliver supplies to the displaced, Japan was shaken by more strong aftershocks, prompting buildings to sway in Tokyo.

The first, measuring 6.2 in magnitude, struck on Tuesday night off the coast of Fukushima prefecture.

Three minutes later, a 6.0-magnitude quake hit Shizuoka prefecture, 90km southwest of Tokyo.

"We had an aftershock of about 6-magnitude," Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Akita, said. "I was on the 11th story and certainly the building did sway for about 30 seconds."

Foreigners began leaving in larger numbers on Tuesday. China organised an evacuation of its citizens from Japan's stricken northeast. The US urged Americans to avoid travel to Japan. Austria moved its embassy from Tokyo to Osaka. Lufthansa diverted its two daily flights to Tokyo to other Japanese cities.

The US navy shifted some ships from Japan's east coast to western waters to avoid hazards from debris dragged into the sea by the tsunami and to be away from any radiation plume. One ship at its base south of Tokyo detected low levels of radiation from the Fukushima plant.

Source: Agencies

Lawyers mull boycott, march to protest KPIs

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — The Malaysian Bar Council has been given the mandate by lawyers to consider a boycott of the courts or to organise a march to protest Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi’s key performance indicators (KPIs) in courts. The Malaysian Insider understands that a boycott and a protest march were among the drastic measures discussed at last weekend’s Bar annual general meeting which passed a no-confidence resolution against Zaki and gave council members the power to decide on “appropriate steps to protest.”
Tommy Thomas, the prominent lawyer who had moved the resolution at the AGM, said that litigation lawyers and even police investigating officers were at “breaking point” over the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) in courts.
This was because judges were insisting on their appearance in different courts because of pressure to clear cases from the KPIs.
Thomas told The Malaysian Insider that applying KPIs in the courts was similar to applying it in hospitals.
“Common sense will tell you that applying KPIs to surgeons in a hospital is stupid.
“Similarly you cannot generalise when it comes to trial. It will depend on the circumstances of the case. Some trials will require one day, some will require one week and some others may require a longer time,” he told The Malaysian Insider in an interview this week.
Criminal lawyers and police investigating officers approached by The Malaysian Insider have also confirmed that KPIs are wreaking havoc on the criminal justice system.
This is because police investigating officers are required to appear as prosecution witnesses, but their involvement in different cases at the same time is compounded by the insistence of various judges for them to turn up in different courts at the same time.
At last weekend’s Bar AGM, newly-elected Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee told reporters that despite talks with Zaki, judges and judicial officers still “misbehaved” in order to meet the KPI requirements, which in turn affected the administration of justice.
Lim had said the courts sometimes brought forward hearing dates without counsel’s consent, rushed to close cases and failed to give enough time for lawyers to prepare a defence in criminal trials involving serious offences.
Lawyers were “crying out” as they were not being given enough time to interview witnesses, prepare written submissions or draft appeals due to the current “compacted” nature of court proceedings, he said.
In an interview this week, Thomas confirmed that protest measures discussed at the AGM include a boycott and a protest march.
“Lawyers must have enough time to prepare. No two cases are the same and no two litigants are the same,” he said.
“They always say that there are 13,000 lawyers but actually there are only about 5,000 who do court work as advocates. If there is a perception that these 5,000 are lazing in the sun that must be demolished because the truth is these lawyers are at breaking point,” he said.
Thomas also questioned whether there was indeed a backlog of cases, pointing out that he had never faced problems in getting hearing dates.
The senior lawyer suggested that the authorities set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry if there was really any radical problem affecting the courts system and the administration of justice.
“The law is evolutionary never revolutionary. Changes come slowly but the KPI is revolutionary,” he said.

As Samy Vellu tightens MIED grip, MIC squeezes back

Samy Vellu has been accused of trying to hijack MIED from MIC. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s perceived attempt to consolidate control of the Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED) has spurred calls from MIC and the Indian community for Datuk G. Palanivel to be given the reins of the party’s education wing. MIC divisions are openly urging Samy Vellu to step down from the education arm, along with Indian non-governmental organitsations (NGOs) and social organising who say the best way to ensure MIED remains within MIC is for Samy Vellu relinquish his seat as MIED chairman.
Yesterday, the Johor Baru MIC division set the ball rolling by convening a meeting to pass a resolution demanding that the MIED remains with the MIC.
The division’s chairman, Datuk S. Balakrishnan, said every MIC branch had donated to the building of AIMST University.
“Lottery tickets were sold to the public to raise funds. The MIED should not go into the hands of an individual,” Balakrishnan, a veteran MIC leader, said.
“Whoever is MIC president should be the MIED chairman as well,” Balakrishnan added.
 “There is no sure and better way than for Samy Vellu top quit as MIED chairman,” said Klang businessman KP Samy, a former MIC central working committee member who was sacked last year for urging Samy Vellu to step down as MIC president.
“He should quit MIED,” he said.

Calls for Palanivel to take Samy Vellu’s place did not receive universal support. — file pic
Samy Vellu retired as MIC president on December 6, after three decades in power, but remains as MIED chairman. Last month, he sparked controversy by trying to add ten chairs to the MIED, which his critics claim was an attempt to solidify his grip on the education wing after some members began siding with Palanivel.
The move was blocked when the former president’s arch rival, Datuk S. Subramaniam, and two other MIED members obtained an injunction to stop Samy Vellu from increasing the body’s membership. The case will be heard tomorrow.
The MIED, which owns AIMST University, is said to be worth RM1.6 billion.
It was incorporated as company limited by membership in 1984 and was always advertised to the Indian community as MIC’s education arm.
Lately, however, Samy Vellu and his supporters have argued that MIED had no affiliations with MIC other than that some of its leaders are also members of MIED.
These statements had angered the Indian community, who view the AIMST University — to which they had donated generously — as theirs.
The government had also given a RM300 million grant for AIMST’s construction.
But not all quarters support the call for Samy Vellu to be replaced by the same man who succeeded him in MIC.
“Kicking out Samy Vellu for Palanivel does not change anything. We are just exchanging one politician for another,” said a retired University of Malaya academician, who requested anonymity.
He said the MIED should be headed by academicians and other professionals.
“A panel of local and international experts can be appointed to manage MIED and AIMST University,” he said, adding that political infighting should not affect the university’s management.
Another former Universiti Sains Malaysia don echoed his views, “Politics and the struggle for academic excellence should not mix.”
“Let’s do it like UTAR,” she said referring to the MCA-owned University of Tunku Abdul Rahman that is run by a panel of eminent people.

‘Ku Li was Razak’s protege, not Dr M’

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's rendition of incidents during his early days in Umno is somewhat distorted, according to a former Umno assemblyman.

Author and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks of a house divided in one of the chapters in his recently published memoir. He is opening up old wounds when the time now is of reconciliation.

The memoir indirectly serves to elevate the status of Umno stalwart Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah since Mahathir acknowledges he is prime minister material.

“He could have been if he ( Razaleigh) was patient,” notes Mahathir.

How can we know what went on or what motivated people who were close comrades to go against one another?

Certainly we have to listen to both sides. In his memoirs Mahathir tells his side of the story.

Razaleigh may not be ready to write his memoir yet, but there are others who dispute what Mahathir has said.

If Mahathir continues to blame Razaleigh for all the ills that are setting upon Umno now, Razaleigh may have justifiable reasons to abandon Umno once more.

If he does that then he is simply emulating Mahathir. For the record, Mahathir was expelled from Umno once.

Mahathir then went on to destroy the Umno he was expelled from.

He formed a new Umno. Two or three years after forming the new Umno, Mahathir resigned.

And if I interpret such actions as a person wanting the cake and eating it- I can’t be faulted.

Distorted politics

Mahathir shifts the goal posts as many times as he want. Some people may even describe Mahathir as a selfish person.

He has done it according to his favorite song – I did it my way.

If more than 10,000 people bought the book in the first few days, I agree that Mahathir is an immensely popular person. I am also a fan of Mahathir.

But that does not mean that everyone has to take what Mahathir tells as absolute truths.

I am not going to dispute his views on family, values, childhood, etc. It’s the politics that Mahathir speaks of that are open to debate.

Umno politics is not a story that ONLY Mahathir can tell. Since Umno’s story and history is shared by all, everyone else deserves space to tell their version.

And their version may not conform to what Mahathir has said in his memoirs. But then this is to be expected.

The Razaleigh route

There are so many chapters written by Mahathir which I find pleasant and agreeable.

But I don’t accept his version on some of the politics that he raised.

This disagreement does not however diminish our reverence to Mahathir and to the many path breaking ideas that he introduced into Malaysia.

Chief among these ideas must be a sense of supreme confidence to chart the future based on our abilities. He did indeed make Malaysians proud to be Malaysian citizens.

But his rendition of Umno politics is a different matter.

Take for example the part where Mahathir said his salvation came from Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who overlooked his behavior.

We find this to be an oversimplified version and self-serving.

Yes, he became a minister because Razak appointed him. But Mahathir wasn’t in Razak’s radar in the first place.

The late Harun Idris played a pivotal role in exposing the good doctor to Razak.

And Mahathir did not mention that his entry into Razak’s radar screen was also facilitated by Razaleigh.

Self-described troublemaker

Mahathir would hang around in Razaleigh’s office at BBMB (Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad) on most occasions when he travelled from Alor Star to KL.

Razaleigh would then bring Mahathir into Razak’s sight.

So, I would say that Mahathir’s claim that Razak was his mentor isn’t quite whole – it was Razaleigh who was Razak’s protégé in more ways than Mahathir.

In the book, Harun’s role was overshadowed by Mahathir’s eagerness to point out the fact that Harun Idris and his sons helped Razaleigh to contest against him.

Surely, such defiance would jolt the minds of readers to question as to why friends like Harun Idris and Razaleigh, who were once jointly instrumental in rescuing Mahathir from political wilderness, would then stand opposed to Mahathir?

Mahathir sees no wrong in describing himself as a rebel and a troublemaker but finds it almost blasphemous when people rebel against him and played troublemaker to him.

I am conscious that this is a Mahathir memoir, a personalised one with much nuances.

Mahathir has every right to state the facts and the stories as he sees fit.

It therefore incorporates his own subjective views and his understanding and the version of a particular story he wants to put across.

Mould breaker

When his version and his personalised account are at odds with what we, who deserve to enjoy the same rights and privileges as Mahathir has, we have every right to offer a counter narration.

Isn’t this what democracy is all about? The presentation of choices to people?

I take it as a duty to read the book in preparing to disagree. His chapter 1 is also an uplifting narration.

That a commoner can eventually become a prime minister in itself has symbolic significance.

As pointed out by Mahathir himself, all previous PMs came from the elite of society – Tengku Abdul Rahman was a prince, Razak was a chieftain from Pahang, Hussein Onn came from Johor’s elite family with close links with Johor Royalty.

I can find no fault when Mahathir says – “but I broke the mould and paved the way for them to head the government of Malaysia.

“An ordinary person can become a PM of Malaysia – but here is where I must add, that the ordinary person must distinguish himself in terms of being able to contribute something.”

Mahathir has indeed broken the mould to present us, what I have written in several articles before and on many occasions – that the selection of a person to high office is no longer because of inherited status, no longer as a result of ascriptive attributes.

Anyone then can become a PM not because of who they are but because of what he can do. What he can become is no longer restricted by social stratification.

That is indeed uplifting.

This is an excerpt of a commentary which first appeared on the writer’s sakmongkolak47 blogsite.

Workers abandon Japan nuclear reactor due to radiation risk

TOKYO: Workers were ordered to withdraw from a stricken Japanese nuclear power plant on Wednesday after radiation levels rose, Kyodo news reported, a development that suggested the crisis was spiraling out of control.

Just hours earlier another fire broke out at the plant, which has sent low levels of radiation wafting into Tokyo in the past 24 hours, triggering international alarm.

Japan’s chief government spokesman said it was “not realistic” to think the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima, 240 kms (150 miles) north of Tokyo, would reach the start of a nuclear chain reaction, but said officials were talking to the U.S. military about possible help.

While public broadcaster NHK said flames were no longer visible at the building housing the No.4 reactor of the plant, TV pictures showed smoke or steam rising from the facility around 0100 GMT.

Academics and nuclear experts agree that the solutions being proposed to contain damage to the reactors are last-ditch efforts to stem what could well be remembered as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

“This is a slow-moving nightmare,” said Dr Thomas Neff, a research affiliate at the Center for International Studies, which is part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Concern had earlier been mounting that the skeleton crews dealing with the crisis might not be big enough, or were possibly exhausted after working for days since Friday’s massive earthquake damaged the facility. Authorities had withdrawn 750 workers on Tuesday, leaving only 50.

The plight of hundreds of thousands left homeless by the quake and devastating tsunami that followed worsened overnight following a cold snap that brought snow to some of the worst-affected areas.

While the official death toll stands at around 4,000, more than 7,000 are listed as missing and the figure is expected to rise.

In the first hint of international frustration at the pace of updates from Japan, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he wanted more timely and detailed information.

“We do not have all the details of the information so what we can do is limited,” Amano told a news conference in Vienna. “I am trying to further improve the communication.”

Several experts said that Japanese authorities were underplaying the severity of the incident, particularly on a scale called INES used to rank nuclear incidents. The Japanese have so far rated the accident a four on a one-to-seven scale, but that rating was issued on Saturday and since then the situation has worsened dramatically.

France’s nuclear safety authority ASN said Tuesday it should be classed as a level-six incident.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday urged people within 30 km (18 miles) of the facility — a population of 140,000 — to remain indoors, as authorities grappled with the world’s most serious nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

Officials in Tokyo said radiation in the capital was 10 times normal at one point but not a threat to human health in the sprawling high-tech city of 13 million people.

But residents have nevertheless reacted to the crisis by staying indoors. Public transport and the streets are as deserted as for a public holiday and scores of shops and offices closed.

Winds over the plant will blow from the north along the Pacific coast early on Wednesday and then from the northwest toward the ocean during the day, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Fears of transpacific nuclear fallout sent consumers scrambling for radiation antidotes in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada. Authorities warned that people would expose themselves to other medical problems by needlessly taking potassium iodide in the hope of protection from cancer.

The nuclear crisis and concerns about the economic impact from last week’s earthquake and tsunami have hammered Japan’s stock market.

The Nikkei index ended the morning up 4.37 pct after closing down 10.6 percent on Tuesday and 6.2 percent the day before. The fall wiped some $620 billion off the market.

Scramble to stop water evaporating

Authorities have spent days desperately trying to prevent the water which is designed to cool the radioactive cores of the reactors from evaporating, which would lead to overheating and the release of dangerous radioactive material into the atmosphere.

Levels of 400 millisieverts per hour had been recorded near the No. 4 reactor, the government said. Exposure to over 100 millisieverts a year is a level which can lead to cancer, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Several embassies advised staff and citizens to leave affected areas in Japan. Tourists cut short vacations and multinational companies either urged staff to leave or said they were considering plans to move outside Tokyo.

German technology companies SAP and Infineon were among those moving staff to safety in the south. SAP said it was evacuating its offices in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya and had offered its 1,100 employees and their family members transport to the south, where the company has rented a hotel for staff to work online.

What the hell is going on?

Japanese media have became more critical of Kan’s handling of the disaster and criticized the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. for their failure to provide enough information on the incident.

Kan himself lambasted the operator for taking so long to inform his office about one of the blasts on Tuesday, Kyodo news agency reported.

Kyodo said Kan had ordered TEPCO not to pull employees out of the plant. “The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the premier’s office for about an hour,” a Kyodo reporter quoted Kan telling power company executives. “What the hell is going on?”

Nuclear radiation is an especially sensitive issue for Japanese following the country’s worst human catastrophe — the U.S. atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

There have been a total of four explosions at the plant since it was damaged in last Friday’s massive quake and tsunami. The most recent were blasts at reactors Nos. 2 and 4.

Concern now centers on damage to a part of the No.4 reactor building where spent rods were being stored in pools of water outside the containment area, and also to part of the No.2 reactor that helps to cool and trap the majority of cesium, iodine and strontium in its water.

Villages and towns wiped off the map

The full extent of the destruction from last Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that followed it was becoming clear as rescuers combed through the region north of Tokyo where officials say at least 10,000 people were killed.

Whole villages and towns have been wiped off the map by Friday’s wall of water, triggering an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.

There have been hundreds of aftershocks and more than two dozen are greater than magnitude 6, the size of the earthquake that severely damaged Christchurch, New Zealand last month.

About 850,000 households in the north were still without electricity in near-freezing weather, Tohuku Electric Power Co. said, and the government said at least 1.5 million households lack running water. Tens of thousands of people were missing.

Hiromichi Shirakawa, chief economist for Japan at Credit Suisse, said in a note to clients that the economic loss will likely be around 14-15 trillion yen ($171-183 billion) just to the region hit by the quake and tsunami.

“The earthquake could have great implications on the global economic front,” said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lec Securities in New York. “If you shut down Japan, there could be a global recession.”

- Reuters

‘We will not fall for Umno’s bait’

By S Jayathas

The single biggest strength Umno sees in Hindraf Makkal Sakti and the Human Rights Party today is their almost zero internal problem and that they are able to focus on the real culprit, the racist Umno.

It is the shrewd Umno top politicians and the Bukit Aman special branch agenda powered by multi-million ringgit, if not unlimited funding, to create the make belief situation of the non- existent or so-called “divided five Hindraf leaders.” This is to demoralise the Indian poor with the belief that when even these five Hindraf leaders are not united, how are they going to unite the 2.5 million Malaysian Indians.

From the very beginning, there has never been “five Hindraf leaders”. Why should this be so for Hindraf when all other NGOs, political parties and organisations have only one leader? Logic dictates that there should only be one captain to a ship. Why is Umno trying to impose five leaders on Hindraf? Isn’t is plain and obvious?

P Waytha Moorthy is the one and only Hindraf leader (chairman). His brother Uthayakumar has repeatedly denied, and so has M Manoharan, being a Hindraf leader. But Uthayakumar has publicly agreed to being one of the five Hindraf lawyers together with his long standing friend Manoharan even to this date. The other two newcomer Hindraf lawyers’ involvement with Hindraf was only for about three months prior to the Nov 25, 2007 rally. (See Uthayakumar’s book “25th November 2007” in for the full chronology of their participation).

The fact remains that there have been five Hindraf lawyers, never five Hindraf leaders. The five Hindraf leaders propaganda is the top Umno and police special branch ploy and agenda to include one police plant, non-lawyer ASP Vasantha Kumar and also to project him as one of the top five (non-existent) Hindraf leaders for the “destroy Hindraf from within plan”, dubbed Ops Padam Hindraf.

This ASP was appointed a “Hindraf leader” by no less than the then inspector-general of police Musa Hassan on Dec 13, 2007 by merely being detained as one of the five “ISA detainees cum five Hindraf leaders”.

A Google search before this ASP’s supposed ISA detention reveals zero postings or involvement in any NGO, let alone any political party. Was he clutched from thin air?

The other three of the supposed “five Hindraf leaders” suffered a great deal during their ISA detention as they were caught off guard and never expected to be detained as they were never part of the day-to-day operations of Hindraf but merely invited as speakers by Uthayakumar and Waytha Moorthy at the various nationwide Hindraf public forums in the prelude to the rally.

Also they have never been involved in the policy making and decision making process in Hindraf. And after their release, they are back happily with their families and concentrating on their careers, never wanting to risk getting arrested again for the Hindraf cause. We respect their wish.

For people in the know, Uthayakumar, unlike all the other five Hindraf lawyers, including Waytha Moorthy, has been a human rights activist for about 20 years and his ISA arrest was his tenth arrest.

Waytha Moorthy has given up legal practice and is working full time on Hindraf from London. So has Uthayakumar who has also given up legal practice although he has a practicing certificate.

One of these non-existent five Hindraf leaders told us that he earns up to RM30,000 per month and that his law library alone is worth RM800,000 and has applied to migrate to Australia. Another has become the director of the lucrative Selangor sand mining company Semesta and another a state assemblyman. This accounts for the rest of the three non-existent “five Hindraf leaders”. We don’t blame them. In fact, it is their right not to want to risk another arrest.

If indeed there was this “five Hindraf leaders” as Umno and their Pakatan Rakyat Indian mandores keep repeating from time to time (especially in the Tamil media to confuse and divert the Indian poor) with the latest being now, immediately after the Feb 27 Hindraf rally when Hindraf’s ratings went up:-

1. Why has the “director” as one of the “Hindraf leaders” refused to return the RM50,000 bail money from the Hindraf public donations to our Chartered Accountants Pathmarajah & Co Maybank account No. 514075010438 especially so now that 53 Hindraf supporters have been prosecuted in court and are in dire need of bail money and money to pay their lawyers and fines? Wouldn’t it be something that comes naturally for a genuine Hindraf leader?

2. Why have these “five Hindraf leaders” refused to represent the 53 Hindraf supporters prosecuted in court? (except for Manoharan and Uthayakumar)

3. Why didn’t these “five Hindraf leaders” independently organise another Hindraf rally at KLCC in two weeks’ time (or ever do so) to protest against Umno’s atrocities and the non-fulfillment of Hindraf’s 18-point demand? This will be the most accurate litmus test as to whether one is a true Hindraf leader.

4. And organise nationwide forums on Umno’s non-fulfillment of the Hindraf-18 point demand.

5. Why have they abandoned the Hindraf 18-point demand?

6. Note that these “five Hindraf leaders” have refused to speak up against the very serious Umno racism and religious supremacy vis-a-vis the Hindraf 18-point demand.

But instead Umno and their top police special branch very desperately want the “five Hindraf leaders” up in one platform with the primary ulterior objective being that these five will end up quarrelling. They also use the Tamil media to yet again divert the people’s attention away from the real problems of the Indians.

As had been the case of S Samy Vellu and S Subramaniam fight in the last 30 years and many other Indian mandore fights such as those involving PPP’s M Kayveas and T Murugiah, Makkal Sakti’s R Thanenthiran versus Ipoh Vethamurthi, the real culprit, Umno, gets away scott-free.

While we acknowledge the media coverage in the three Tamil dailies on the Indian poor, we regret however that creating this Indian versus Indian fight under Umno’s instructions is the single biggest disfavour they are doing to the Indian poor. (See Malaysia Nanban 6/3/2011, page 3).

To us, we will not bite this Umno bait.

S Jayathas is the information chief for Hindraf Makkal Sakti and the Human Rights Party.

BN's systemic weaknesses are not going away

During the latter half of the Abdullah Badawi period, in 2007-2008, it was the blatantly unequal treatment of citizens by the administration on issues of political affiliation, religion and race, coupled with the unaccountability of ministers and others associated with the BN, which made it impossible for mild-mannered but concerned voters to continue supporting the federal government.

by Ooi Kee Beng, Today Online

Just when things were starting to look up for Malaysian Premier Najib Abdul Razak and the ruling Barisan Nasional, come disturbing reminders to voters that the essential nature of the UMNO-controlled ruling coalition has not changed.

Although Mr Najib's 1Malaysia initiative and economic reform documents such as the Economic Transformation Programme and the Government Transformation Programme may have won him some support, they do not go so far as to promise betterment of governance or the diminishing of racialism in governance that voters had been demanding.

Be that as it may, the BN has been patting itself on the back after winning five by-elections in a row, the latest being the twin polls on March 6 in Merlimau in Malacca and Kerdau in Pahang. The last two victories were largely expected, but still, a victory is a victory. And within the government's adopted strategy of "small reforms but big spin", that is encouragement enough.

However, Mr Najib's achievement over the last months is not so much in the winning of by-elections or in using foreign consultants, as in managing to keep old and new controversies from reminding voters of the reasons they deserted the government throughout the northern states three years ago. Furthermore, the ongoing sodomy trial against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has kept the latter disoriented and his Parti Keadilan Rakyat unable to take bold initiatives.

During the latter half of the Abdullah Badawi period, in 2007-2008, it was the blatantly unequal treatment of citizens by the administration on issues of political affiliation, religion and race, coupled with the unaccountability of ministers and others associated with the BN, which made it impossible for mild-mannered but concerned voters to continue supporting the federal government.

The present strategy of allowing the formation of a Malay Supremacy NGO like Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia to take over the traditional racially strident role of UMNO Youth, while keeping controversial UMNO leaders out of the limelight, did lessen the pressure on the Prime Minister. But without serious reforms, the systemic weaknesses of BN's governance were bound to shine through again sooner or later.

Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, whose infamous waving of the keris at successive UMNO assemblies lost precious votes for the government in the last general election, had to reappear on the mass media stage to threaten to leave no stone unturned in investigating critics of Sarawak state's long-time Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.

Mr Taib came to power in 1981, the year Dr Mahathir Mohamad became Prime Minister, and is today, 30 years later, also the state's Financial Minister and Planning and Resource Management Minister. He is a Melanau, whose Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu is one of the 13 members of the BN. Elections in the state have to be called by July this year, which explains the federal defence of Mr Taib's ill-repute at this time.

Allegations of corruption and of abuse of power from national and international quarters have been a constant companion during his time in power. The latest such critic to grab the international headlines is the Radio Free Sarawak, run from London by Sarawakian DJ Peter John Jaban and former BBC journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown. The latter is the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which naturally adds to the wide interest in the controversies.

Instead of investigating the allegations and giving the new though already badly tainted anti-corruption agency, the MACC, the chance to repair its damaged reputation, the federal government has decided to go after the whistle-blowers instead; in the process, giving Malaysians a strong experience of deja vu about the state of governance in the country.

Another issue that holds serious consequences for the coming elections in Sarawak - and the expected snap general election later this year - is the seizure of 35,000 bibles at the port of Kuching in Sarawak and at Port Klang near Kuala Lumpur. These books are in Bahasa Malaysia and are largely meant for the many Christian bumiputeras who are indigenous to the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

What's worse, this impoundment by officials seems to be occurring against the will of the Prime Minister. While this has riled major Christian and other bodies in the country, the influential Muslim organisation, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, is demanding that Mr Najib state his final stand on the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims. The High Court had on Dec 31, 2009 disallowed a Home Ministry directive banning such usage, but that decision had since been stayed by an appeal from the government.

The key question stemming from these developments is: Can the BN really change?

While in these days of DNA engineering, a leopard should be able to change its spots, putting the animal to sleep and getting it to surgery is not without its dangers - even for PM Najib Razak.

Ooi Kee Beng is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of South-east Asian Studies. His latest book is The Right to Differ: A Biographical Sketch of Lim Kit Siang.

‘Anwar must give his DNA’

(The Star) - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should give his DNA sample, which can help him prove his innocence, said Kita president Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

He said doing so would also boost Anwar’s credibility as the public would find it hard to accept a leader who refused to furnish “facts that can clear his name”.

Zaid said public opinion and sympathy were still vital factors to a leader’s popularity.

“They are still the most important factors for a politician like Anwar aspiring to be in Putrajaya.

“That is why I believe he should submit the samples requested by the prosecution,” he said yesterday.
On Friday, Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden applied for the court to compel Anwar, under the Evidence Act, to provide his DNA for profiling.

Zaid said technical reasons could be furnished by lawyers Anwar engaged but only his courage to deal with the truth could protect him.

“He has maintained that he is innocent and if true, his innocence will be proven and he will once again be able to build on his image as a leader who had been unjustly treated.

“Why should he be unwilling to volunteer facts that can clear his name. This will be difficult for the majority of the rakyat to swallow,” he said.

Zaid said that in Sodomy I, the Federal Court had acquitted Anwar despite the damaging testimonies delivered during the trial.

“So Anwar got the public sympathy and his black eye experience helped him tremendously.

“Regardless of the verdict and the evidence given, it was clear in 1998 that the public was willing to accept Anwar as a victim and there were strong grounds for that belief as well,” he said.

He added that in Sodomy II, Anwar’s continued refusal to surrender his DNA samples could lead to a disappointed public and an eventual dip in support for the Opposition Leader.

The marginalised have suffered enough

Looking at the larger social setting, in the wake of Hindraf 1 and 2 and the state’s neglect of many of those in abandoned or neglected plantations, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the sense of desperation and exasperation among Indian Malaysian under-class finds resonance among other marginalised groups in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak. David Anthony describes the angst.
Photo credit:
I am sad. I cannot be Malaysian, first or last or ever so long as the word ‘bumiputra’ is in our vocabulary. How can I be Malaysian when ‘bumiputra’ reduces me to a second-class citizen?
I am Indian and the other day the HRP/Hindraf’s effort to march in KL to protest the marginalisation of the Indians, racism and ‘Interlok’ was decimated by mass arrests.
Indians in Malaysia have been selectively persecuted by the British, the Japanese and Barisan Nasional throughout history because they are a minority. It is this minority that suffered malarial fever, snakebites and death to clear the jungles to plant rubber that filled the coffers of the British shareholders in London and now the stockholders in KL. This is the minority that fought the invading Japanese army on the beaches of Kota Baru and the Siamese border to save the country. This is the minority that numbered the largest among the 90,000 Asian civilians who perished in the Burma Death railway construction. Nobody kept strict count of them because they were not important. They were buried incognito in mass graves. This is the minority that again cleared the jungles of Malaya to lay the Tanah Melayu railroad and pave the tar roads and link the telegraph wires from pole to pole through hazardous terrain. This indeed is the majority of the minority Tamils, the rest of whom are the English-educated Tamils, who disdain to associate with them.
These are the plantation workers many of whom have been kicked out of plantations ear-marked for other development and ended up as urban squatters. This is the minority who until today do not have a basic wage.
This is the minority now labelled as the ‘pariah’ Indians, nevertheless, inclusive of all Indians in Malaysia. So we are all pariahs – social outcasts – vagabonds of low breed. Gandhi preferred to call them the ‘People of God’. The Tamil word ‘paraiyar’ means a drummer.
The Tamils here have learned the hard lesson over the years not to depend on others to come to their aid. They have to fight their own battle come what may. So if every Tamilian here will take hold of his drumstick and beat his drum even the deaf will begin to hear. The thalam, keeping time with the beat, however, must synchronise with the ragam. Thalam, in Tamil also means suffering from want. Indian Malaysians have suffered enough. The minority ragam rising with passion and desire and crimson red with the thalam should stir every Tamilian to want to be a Malaysian and demand his or her right to be a full-fledged citizen.
David Anthony is an Aliran member

Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) in conversation with Nicholas Farrelly, March 2011

Mahathir slammed for belittling Orang Asli

The Sun
by Karen Arukesamy

KUALA LUMPUR (March 15, 2011): Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is fully aware of the repercussions of his statement that the Orang Asli do not have more right than the Malays to claim Malaysia, said Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM) coordinator Tijah Nyok Chopil.

Mahathir had in blog posting on March 10 opined that giving the Orang Asli greater rights to claim Malaysia as their own would be like handing back the US, Australia and New Zealand to the Native American, Maori and Aborigine natives respectively.

Tijah said: "Mahathir did not say this out of ignorance, he said it out of arrogance and power because he knows that the Orang Asli would not challenge him. But don't take us for granted!"

“First of all, whatever we have advocated and claimed for over the years is the recognition of customary land, which is the heritage of our ancestors,” she told a press conference at the Bar Council today.

She said every region of native land claimed is ancestral property.

“We are just claiming what is rightfully ours," Tijah said adding that the community has never touched on the rights and privileges of other races in the country.

“We have never claimed the whole of Malaysia or demanded that Peninsular Malaysia be returned to the indigenous community,” she said.

An emotional Tijah said Mahathir had not just insulted the indigenous people, but also violated the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and manipulated the actual scenario.

“His statement can have negative impact on the community, where it will further expose the community to the greedy businessmen and loggers," she said.

In support of JKOASM, the Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said there was ample historical evidence that the indigenous people have continuously occupied Peninsular Malaysia for thousands of years with their own form of self-government, customs, traditions and practices.

“Mahathir’s claim also went against the position of the court, pointing out that the Court of Appeal had recognised the Orang Asli as the “First People” in the Sagong Tari case.

“Mahathir’s views are just plain and simply wrong,” he said at the same press conference.

Furthermore, Lim said the Federal Constitution and the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 have recognised the status of the indigenous people and their customary rights over their ancestral lands.

The Bar and JKOASM has demanded for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to make a stand in this controversy.

Bukit Jalil: Injunction stops demolition

Handful of 'heroes' battles to keep nuclear plant under control

Tokyo (CNN) -- After three explosions and a fire in four days, the situation at Japan's earthquake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant grew more serious Tuesday, chasing all but a handful of workers from the site and raising fears of a far more dangerous radiation threat.

The latest incidents, an explosion Tuesday at the plant's No. 2 reactor and a fire in a cooling pond used for nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor, briefly pushed radiation levels at the plant to about 167 times the average annual dose of radiation, according to details released by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

That dose would quickly dissipate with distance from the plant, and radiation quickly fell back to levels where it posed no immediate public health threat, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

But the deteriorating situation and concerns about a potential shift in wind direction that could loft radiation toward populated areas prompted authorities to warn people as far as 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) away from the plant to stay inside.

"There is still a very high risk of further radioactive material coming out," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, asking people to remain calm.

About 200,000 people living within a 12.4-mile radius of the plant already had been evacuated.

Authorities also banned flights over the area and evacuated most workers from the plant.

Those who remained behind continued a seesaw, last-ditch effort to flood reactors with seawater to keep them cool and prevent a wider environmental and public health catastrophe.

The beleaguered crew had to abandon the plant control room Tuesday night because of high radiation levels, Kyodo News reported, citing plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company.

"Their situation is not great," said David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University. "It's pretty clear that they will be getting very high doses of radiation. There's certainly the potential for lethal doses of radiation. They know it, and I think you have to call these people heroes."

Troubles at the plant began shortly after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Friday off the shore of northeast Japan.

Although the plant's three functioning reactors shut down automatically when they detected the quake, the tsunami that followed swamped the diesel generators that provided backup power to the reactor cooling systems.

Crews eventually were able to restore backup power, but problems keeping the reactors cool eventually forced plant officials to take the drastic step of flooding them with seawater in a bid to keep the temperatures down. Still, pressure buildups, problems with valves and even a failure to fill a generator's gas tank have led to explosions and other problems with keeping the reactors under control.

Tuesday's incidents appeared to escalate the situation: Edano said the radiation releases from the explosion and fire were the first that appeared to pose a threat to human health, if only briefly.

Radiation levels also spiked Monday, after workers vented steam to release pressure, but the levels quickly dropped, officials said.

Also Monday, an explosion in the building housing the plant's No. 3 reactor apparently damaged both a water-filled chamber at the base of the reactor and the reactor containment unit itself, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said at a news conference Tuesday.

Damage to the core involved about 5% of the core's nuclear fuel, Amano said.

It was still unclear how much radioactive material may have been emitted, what kind of health threat that could pose or when the danger would end.

The central concern Tuesday seemed to be the cooling pool for used nuclear fuel that caught fire Tuesday, as well as others like it.

"The fire there yesterday dramatized quite clearly the dangers there," said Dr. Ira Helfand, a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

"There are enormous quantities of radiation," Helfand said. "The containment is not nearly as good as around the reactor core themselves. The potential for a major release of radiation from those sites is very real, as we saw last night with the fire while it was burning."

Japanese officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency that radioactivity was "being released directly into the atmosphere" during the fire, according to a statement from the U.N. watchdog organization.

High temperatures inside the building that houses the plant's No. 4 reactor may have caused fuel rods sitting in a pool to ignite or explode, the plant's owner said.

Crews put that fire out, and by Tuesday afternoon, Edano said radiation readings -- which had reached dangerously high levels at the plant earlier -- had decreased.

Still, concerns about hot radioactive fuel boiling off cooling water and catching on fire continued into Wednesday, with plant operators and government officials considering a plan to use helicopters to drop water into the cooling pond through the damaged roof of the reactor building, according to a Kyodo News report.

And as if the suddenly minimal crew at the plant did not already have enough to worry about, Edano said, cooling systems at two other reactors, No. 5 and No. 6, were "not functioning well."

Plant managers were said to be considering removing panels from the buildings housing those reactors in an effort to prevent the hydrogen buildup that officials believe caused the other explosions, according to the IAEA.

Tuesday's announcement "points to something different, something more serious" after the explosion at the No. 2 reactor, CNN analyst James Walsh said. "But we don't have the definitive evidence yet."

Edano said earlier that he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown at all three troubled reactors at the plant.

A meltdown occurs when nuclear fuel rods cannot be cooled and melt the steel and concrete structure containing them. In the worst-case scenario, the fuel can spill out of the containment unit and spread toxic radioactivity through the air and water. That, public health officials say, can cause both immediate and long-term health problems, including radiation poisoning and cancer.

If fuel rods inside the reactors are melting, Walsh said, a key detail is whether the melted material stays inside the reactor.

"The Japanese plants and all modern plants have a containment vessel. Essentially the reactor is inside of a vault. And that vault is made of thick concrete and steel," Walsh said. "The million-dollar question is whether that melting will be contained. ... We'll know within 24 hours. That's the key thing people should be paying attention to."

The long-term impact on public health from the crisis at the plant remains unclear. At the moment, it appears minimal, Brenner said.

"I think, at this point in time, there's no real evidence that there are health risks to the general population," he said.

Until crews are able to bring the situation under full control, it's impossible to say how much radiation may be released from the plants or for how long.

A fresh concern was the weather. Wind patterns that had been blowing the thin plume of radiation out to sea appeared to be shifting towards more populated areas, CNN meteorologist Jennifer Delgado said. The IAEA said it believed the winds would continue to blow the radiation out over the ocean, where it would pose little risk to overseas populations.

The U.S. Department of Energy has sent a team and a package of monitoring equipment to help detect any movement of dangerous concentrations of radiation toward population centers, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission also announced that it was sending nine more experts to Japan.

U.S. Navy personnel in Japan began limiting outdoor activities and securing external ventilation systems after instruments aboard an aircraft carrier docked in Yokosuka detected low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the Navy said.

The USS George Washington was docked for maintenance about 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the plant when instruments detected the radiation at 7 a.m. Tuesday, the Navy said in a statement.

"These measures are strictly precautionary in nature. We do not expect that any United States federal radiation exposure limits will be exceeded even if no precautionary measures are taken," the Navy said.

On Monday, defense officials said the Navy had repositioned the USS Ronald Reagan after detecting low-level radiation on some sailors and equipment.

Radiation levels in Tokyo, about 225 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of the plant, were twice the usual level on Tuesday. The concentration -- 0.809 microsieverts per hour -- still was too negligible to pose a health threat, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said.

MACC’s logic boggles the mind, says RCI

Commission chairman Foong says there were no good reasons to hold Teoh overnight.
KUALA LUMPUR: It was unreasonable for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to hold Teoh Beng Hock overnight to interrogate him, the head of the commission investigating his death said today.
James Foong, chairman of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, asked MACC’s Hairul Ilham Hamzah if it was “really necessary” to keep Teoh overnight when investigations could be continued the next day.
“Or did you have other intentions for keeping him there?”
Hairul heads the investigation unit of the MACC’s Selangor office.
Foong said MACC should have immediately accepted Teoh’s assistance when he told investigators that he was able to supply the documents they needed.
“Why did you want to do a roundabout work?” said the chief commissioner.
“Teoh said he was able to provide, but you wanted to take it from the land office later. By right you should have gone to the land office earlier anyway. Your logic (for keeping him) is really mind blowing to me.”
Hairul, 35, had earlier told the commission that he was heading an operation to investigate alleged misuse of state allocations for the Kampung Tunku and Seri Kembangan constituencies in 2009. He said he did not release Teoh because there were statements to be recorded.
“If you had wanted to build a case against YB (Ean Yong Hian Wah of Seri Kembangan), you needed some basis for your suspicions,” said Foong.
He said Teoh, by leading the officers to his office for supporting documents, could have then and there provided documents to either help MACC  build a case or drop it. But, he noted, MACC decided to get those documents from the land office later instead.
“If you were thinking that way, why didn’t you just release him first, get the documents and see what happens? He was a witness. He should not be treated this way.”
‘This is normal’

Hairul tried to respond, but Foong cut him off, saying: “It seems all the reasons to prolong Teoh’s release were unreasonable.”
Hairul then said: “In all investigations of MACC, this is normal.”
Foong: Then doesn’t this amount to harrassing someone?
Hairul: No.
Asked by conducting officer Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud why he did not postpone interrogating Teoh the night of July 15, 2009, Hairul said he did not want Teoh’s statement to be an afterthought.
“But if all documents, either in the CPU or laptop, were all in the hands of MACC, how can his  statement change?” Awang asked.
Hairul: “Seeing that we have already started taking statements from Teoh, might as well finish it.”
He admitted that the law does not stop Teoh from going home anytime if he wanted to, but he said Teoh did not ask to be excused and was cooperative.
Hairul said there was a commotion outside the MACC office that night, with Ean Yong asking why the investigations had to continue through the night and demanding Teoh’s immediate release.
“However, I told him there was nothing I could do to release Teoh as the interview was being carried out and his statement had yet to be recorded,” said Hairul, adding that he assured Ean Yong that the questioning was likely to end by 5am.
Awang: What was the real reason for an overnight questioning?
Hairul: There were a few reasons. The first was because most of the witnesses in MACC cases, specifically those investigated under Section 11(c) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 and Section 18 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009, are interested parties. For example, witnesses who are workers, family, people close to the suspects.
In my experience, I do not want a witness to give a statement as an “afterthought” and recording the statement from the witness as soon as possible would lessen the chances of that happening.
Awang: Would the same risk happen even after all documents have been seized?
Hairul: In MACC, we want the story behind the documents. Documents do not change, but the story behind the document, may change.
Commissioners Abdul Kadir Sulaiman and T Selventhiranathan also questioned the need to hold on to Teoh.
“Whether or not a project was done could be determined at the land office or with documents from Teoh’s office,” one of the commissioners said. “In such a situation, why hold Teoh when there could be documentary evidence to show whether this was done or not?”
Hairul: True. But I think that this is normal. That’s the way we work.
Foong: So do you think this way of working should it be changed or not? You want to be such as the Hong Kong’s ICAC, Scotland Yard. People respect them. For MACC, don’t you want your image to be better?
Hairul: Yes.
Foong: Why don’t you give us recommendations, if MACC should change this practice?
Hairul: I am not qualified to give suggestions. But there are specific urgencies for certain cases.
Selventhiranathan: But was there urgency in this case?
Hairul: Well, it was considered sensitive as it involved YB Ean Yong.
Target: Pakatan YBs
In an earlier hearing, Hairul told the commission that the operation that he headed had focused mainly on “YBs who were from Pakatan Rakyat”.
This morning, assistant enforcement officer Arman Alies told the commission that he had never had a reason to get angry with anyone during an interrogation and that he did not get angry with Teoh when he and colleague Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus were questioning him.
Arman was being questioned by Universiti Sains Perubatan Cyberjaya’s forensic psychiatry consultant Professor Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom, who asked: “Is it common to get angry in your life?”
Arman: It’s common.
Hatta: What would make you angry?
Arman: Depends.
Hatta: Can you give us an example of what would anger you?
Arman: If people disturbed me, I would be angry.
Hatta: An example, please.
Arman: Maybe in a game, if someone tried to injure me.
Hatta: It has been two and a half days since you’ve been in court. How many times did you get angry?
Arman: When I was being bombarded relentlessly with personal attacks.
Hatta: When?
Arman: When questioned by the Bar Council.
Hatta: All of them?
Arman: Not all, but especially that handsome guy sitting at the end (points to Edmund Bon).
Hatta: You felt angry with him?
Arman: Not really, just felt pressured by his questions.
Hatta: You’ve worked for MACC for about 10 years. When you interrogate a suspect or witness, what would make you angry?
Arman: I think I’ve never felt angry with a witness before. Plus, I more often go out on the field rather than do questioning.
Hatta: Don’t tell me there hasn’t been any witnesses or suspects who slighted you.
Arman: For us, it’s alright if a person wants to talk or not. Regardless, we will find other documents or other witnesses to find what we need. So there’s no use getting angry at anyone.
Hatta: So you’ve never felt angry?
Arman: I don’t think I have. Sometimes, perhaps, if that person is not telling the truth, personally I’d feel … I can’t explain. But not angry at him.
Hatta: When you were with Teoh? How many times did you feel you wanted to get angry with him?
Arman: Not at all.
Hatta: Was Teoh like other witnesses you usually question?
Arman: He was just like any other ordinary person, there was nothing special about Teoh.
Hatta: Between you and Ashraf, who would get angry more easily with Teoh?
Arman: Neither of us.
Hatta: Here (in court), I noticed that Arman appeared irritated a number of times.
Arman: I’ve been exhausted actually, not irritated.
Hatta: Why exhausted?
Arman: Because I’ve been questioned since morning and I’ve not slept much.
Commissioner Selventhiranathan asked Arman why many parts of the record in his second investigation diary were similar to entries in the first although he claimed that he did not have a copy of the latter.
“There are some parts where there are common words, that are exactly the same and not altered. But you told us you don’t have other than the first and second pages. How did you do that? Do you have a photographic memory? ”
Arman said he did not understand the question.
A week to type
When MACC lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah asked him the same question, he said he had typed his entries for the second diary from memory.
Earlier, replying to Awang, Arman said he sometimes took a week to type out his investigation diary. But he said it should be a day-to-day exercise.
He said he sometimes delayed this work because there were more important things to do.
Investigation diaries are supposed have details of an ongoing investigation, including dates, time, actions taken in the conduct of the investigation.
Meanwhile, Sor Cher Wei, who was Teoh’s fiancée,  has agreed to be interviewed by psychiatric experts for the commission.
Commission secretary Saripuddin Kasim said that Sor had set two conditions for the interview.
“The interview is to be recorded with a video camera and her lawyer should be with her the whole time,” he said.
Saripuddin added that Teoh’s eldest brother, Meng Kee, had also been contacted but had said that referred “all discussions” should be with the family’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo.
Three psychiatrists have been employed by the commission to ascertain Teoh’s personality and state of mind before his death.
Teoh, who was political aide to Ean Yong, 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 building.
The MACC was investigating the alleged misuse of Selangor government allocations.
On Jan 5, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas returned an open verdict in an 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.

‘Stop attacking Anwar or out come your skeletons’

Ummi Hafilda's former business partner warns her that if she does not stop attacking the opposition leader, he will bare it all.
KUALA LUMPUR: The former business partner of Ummi Hafilda lashed out at the latter for attacking Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim during ceramahs at recent by-elections.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament today, Beginda Minda said he could no longer stand back and watch while Ummi took pot shots at Anwar’s morality when she herself was no stranger to scandals.

“She was involved in a scandal herself in London with me. Where are her morals?” he asked, without elaborating.

Beginda, who is the Sarawak PKR fund-raising bureau chief, also threatened that he would travel the length and breadth of the country to expose more secrets about Ummi if she refused to stop.

Ummi is the sister of PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and a witness during Anwar’s first sodomy trial in 1998.

She had been keeping a low-profile until the Merlimau and Kerdau by-elections earlier this month where she campaigned for Barisan Nasional.

Ummi was paid but what does she get out of it?
Beginda also claimed that Ummi would have been paid for taking the stage to spew venom on Anwar.
“Although Deputy Minister Muhyddin Yasin claimed that Ummi was not paid, I know Ummi. She will not do something without being paid,” he said.

He also alleged that Ummi was paid RM10 million by former finance minister Daim Zainuddin to “make-up stories to defame Anwar” and questioned where the money had gotten her.

Sehingga sekarang dia terpaksa jual punggung Saiful untuk dapat wang, (till now she is forced to sell Saiful’s bottom to get money)”, he said, referring to Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the complainant in Anwar’s ongoing sodomy trial.

Beginda also warned that he was capable of revealing more bizarre matters than Ummi. “If she digs deep, I can dig deeper”.

Muhyiddin sees no issues with nuclear plans

The deputy prime minister is confident that the government agency tasked with overseeing the matter, “will implement what is best”.
PUTRAJAYA:   Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin believes that Malaysia is capable of handling its nuclear ambitions.

While acknowledging the concerns in view of radiation leaks from Japan’s tsunami and quake-hit nuclear plants, he, however, assured that the government’s plans to build two plants here is safe.

“I think every country in the world is taking note of what is happening in Japan. There are many things that we can learn but what is important is the safety of the country and the public.

“In this matter, we have an agency that is responsible and we are confident that they will implement what is best,” he told a press conference here.

His statements come amid calls by both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat leaders for a review of the nuclear plans which aims to address the nation’s energy problem.

Yesterday, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek joined Gerakan and rivals DAP to call on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s administration to reconsider following the situation in Japan.

Chua said the government must first review the necessity of the plants and secondly consider the fact that Japan’s nuclear emergency, considered the worse since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago, could happen to Malaysia due to the proposed location of the new plants.

The MCA president echoed the suggestions raised by rival DAP, who argued that Malaysia was more than capable of addressing its energy problems via other safer alternatives like solar and wind power.

DPM unsure if rare earth plant approved

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin appeared to be in the dark over another radiation related problem involving the construction of a rare earth refinery plant in the outskirts of Kuantan, Pahang.

Recently, Najib confirmed a New York Times (NYT) report published last week of the plant’s construction by Australian mining giant, Lynas Corporation.

However, Muhyiddin assured that there would be no repeat of the radioactive waste problem involving a now-shut plant in Bukit Merah near Ipoh.

“We understand that the residents are concerned but there are certain conditions that must be met like the safety and the environment.

“So the relevant agencies must study before a decision is made. Whether it has been approved or not, I am not sure,” he told reporters.

According to the NYT report, the government was pursuing a multi-billion ringgit investment in rare metals, which were key components in many hi-tech products.

Backed by the investment from Australian mining giant, Lynas, a massive processing plant would be constructed in Kuantan to produce metals used in products such as Apple’s iPhone, Toyota’s Prius and Boeing’s smart bombs.

Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board director-general Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan told NYT that the project was only approved after an inter-agency review and assurance that the imported ore and subsequent waste would have low enough levels of radioactivity to be manageable and safe.

However, toxicologist Dr T Jayabalan, who treated leukaemia victims whose illnesses he and others had attributed to the Mitsubishi Chemicals plant in Bukit Merah, said that low or otherwise, exposure to such material remained hazardous.

‘Green’ Rosmah hit by Twitter tsunami

The self-styled First Lady has come under attack from Twitter users over her comments regarding the tragedy in Japan.
KUALA LUMPUR: Self-styled First Lady Rosmah Mansor has come under fire from the Twitter community after a video of her commenting on the disaster in Japan began making its rounds on the Internet.

In the video aired over Astro Awani, Rosmah had allegedly said that the tragedy was a result of carelessness in implementing environmentally-friendly planning and development in the country.

She was also quoted as stating that the catastrophe should serve as a lesson for Japan and other countries, saying the disaster was a result of rapid development and climate change.

The wife of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak also urged nations to have a thorough and well-structured development planning, and to consider climate change and green technology.

The video of her, shot at the International School Kuala Lumpur’s recent “Walk For Children: 1Malaysia Goes Green” event, was aired on Astro Awani just after the tragedy struck Japan and picked up by TV Selangor (see video).
Responding to her comments, the Malaysian Twitter community took Rosmah to task, with some even commenting about her hairstyle and that her hairspray contained CFC which was not environmentally-friendly.
“Rosmah, our very own expert on green technology, doesn’t seem to know earthquakes and tsunamis are natural disasters,” read one Tweet.

“Congrats, Malaysia – we’re officially dumbasses. Thanks, Rosmah!” stated another.

There were also Twitters who urged Najib to keep his wife in check, while one tweet claimed that the only green technology Rosmah was familiar with was the “greenback” or US dollar.

Even local celebrities jumped on the bandwagon, with well-known actor and radio personality Patrick Teoh reminding Rosmah that “her husband approved a rare earth processing plant in Malaysia.”

Singer-songwriter Pete Teo Tweeted, “Thousands of lives destroyed in horrific watery graves. And FLOM (First Lady of Malaysia) puts her foot in her mouth. Sigh. Malaysia Boleh.”

Rosmah’s comments were also reported on CNN’s citizen journalism wing, iReport.

Commenting on the matter, PKR MP Johari Abdul expressed shock, saying that the wives of previous prime ministers never interfered in such matters.

“Look at (Dr) Siti Hasmah Ali (wife of Dr Mahathir Mohamad), she never got herself embroiled in any controversies, similarly Jeanne Abdullah (wife of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi).

“Everytime she (Rosmah) opens her mouth, it becomes a problem for the government, just keep quiet and play your role as a wife and not try to be a ruler,” he told reporters in Parliament.

The Sungai Petani MP also called on Najib to “control” his wife to prevent her from embarassing the government and nation.

Sendai, the capital city of the Miyagi prefecture, was hit by a 9.0 megathrust earthquake last Friday. This created an extremely destructive tsunami of up to 10 metres. The earthquake also triggered nuclear shutdowns, meltdowns and failures in power plants across Japan.

The Japanese National Police Agency have confirmed 2,414 deaths, 1,885 injuries and 3,118 people missing across 16 prefectures, but estimated numbers were said to be much higher.

It’s the next phase that counts

Malaysia Today is not in the business of entertaining you with stories of sex romps and bonking in the corridors of power. We want to see the success of the ‘Rakyat Reform Agenda’ or RARA. And this can only happen if we see reforms and/or a change of government. So that is the focus of our work from hereon till the next general election.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

There are some who comment that Raja Petra Kamarudin or Malaysia Today is no longer the same. In the past, Malaysia Today focused on exposes and revelations. Now there is not much of that. Because of this many no longer read Malaysia Today, say these people.

Yes, I know, many enjoy reading the secrets of others being exposed or revealed. They enjoy it even more when it is stories of the sex lives of VIPs or those who walk in the corridors of power. Spin a good gossip and everyone’s ears will be primed.

But is this what it all boils down to? Is Malaysia Today a ‘rag sheet’ whose job is to entertain our readers with delicious stories of this person bonking that person who in turn bonks another person?

Actually, these types of readers are syiok sendiri (self orgasm). They like to hear about the negative things involving those who walk in the corridors of power and this convinces them that Barisan Nasional is going to be kicked out come the next election and Pakatan Rakyat is going to be the next government.

Sure, Malaysia Today can keep exposing and revealing the wrong-doings, transgressions, crimes, abuse of power, thievery, and so on, of those who are running this country. We have in fact been doing this for 15 years since the Internet first came to Malaysia in the mid-1990s.

I remember, in the mid-1990s -- at that time Anwar Ibrahim was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government -- my website (Raja Petra’s Website) exposed and revealed the shenanigans of the government.

And know what? Anwar Ibrahim and his cronies were some of our prime targets. Some of these people are, of course, today, in the opposition. But in the 1990s they were part of the government and Raja Petra’s Website whacked them good and proper and revealed all the shit they were involved in.

Then, in 1998, Anwar was sacked, arrested and beaten up and Raja Petra’s Website rallied to his side and supported him. In a way we ‘forgave’ him for the 17 years he was in government, about seven years of that as Dr Mahathir’s number two, and we never raised all the transgressions he and his gang perpetuated when in the government.

In short, we agreed to allow bygones to be bygones and not ungkit (resurrect) history. What he did in the past is not as crucial as what he is doing now and can do for the country in future.

In 1999, when I joined Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN) to head the media unit, I retired Raja Petra’s Website and set up two websites called The Malaysian (in English) and Kini (in Bahasa Malaysia). That was before the launch of Malaysiakini.

I also started a mailing list and every day I sent out thousands of e-mails (one in English and one in Bahasa Malaysia) to the e-mail addresses on the list. I also started a chat group (what we would call a Yahoogroup today).

So, for more than 15 years, we have been running a media war on the Internet. But it was not until about seven years ago (or four years before the 2008 general election) that it took the country by storm. And the result, of course, was the March 2008 general election where the opposition performed extremely well.

But look at the last few by-elections. Since March 2008, Malaysia has seen 16 by-elections. Initially, the opposition swept these by-elections, even those that were Umno or Barisan Nasional seats. But towards the end, of late, Barisan Nasional has been sweeping the seats -- and with an even bigger majority than before, on top of that.

So what do you expect of Malaysia Today? You want us to continue with these exposes and revelations? Is that going to work? Is the opposition going to win the next general election and form the next government if Malaysia Today keeps revealing all the shit in Putrajaya?

No, we need to do more than that. Revealing more shit of the same shit is not going to help Pakatan Rakyat win the next general election. We need to do more than that. We need to enter into phase two.

So yes, I admit, Malaysia Today, as some of you say, has lost its oomph. Maybe you are no longer getting to read about who is having sex with whom. You would like to hear all the juicy gossip about who has her knickers down and who is blowing whom. But the question is: if I satisfy your lust for such stories, is Pakatan Rakyat going to get to form the next government?

And phase two is to get Pakatan Rakyat to get its act together. The feedback I am receiving is not that encouraging. The people on the ground -- the hawkers, taxi drivers, working man and woman -- are quite happy with the Penang state government. They tell me that Lim Guan Eng is a superb Chief Minister and they have no problems giving Pakatan Rakyat a second term as the state government.

But they are not saying the same thing about the other states -- although many have indicated that they will vote Pakatan Rakyat in Perak in the next general election.

The bottom line is: Penang is safe, Perak has a good chance, and Kelantan, Selangor and Kedah are touch-and go.

In 1999, the opposition won 52 seats in Parliament. The following election in 2004 it dropped to just 20 seats. In the last election in 2008 it increased to 82 seats (but now down to 76 with the exit of six frogs). But what can we expect in the next general election?

Anwar Ibrahim says Pakatan Rakyat is going to march into Putrajaya come the next general election. That means the opposition needs to win an additional 50 or so seats on top of the 76 it already holds (to be safe and so that the frogs can’t bring the new government down). Can this be achieved?

I worry that Pakatan Rakyat can’t win these additional 50 or so seats. In fact, I worry it can’t even hold on to the 76 seats its already owns. What will happen instead is it may drop to just 50 seats, 70 seats or so short to form the next federal government.

The last few by-elections appear to point to this scenario. In spite of all the exposes and revelations and secret documents that we published to prove that corruption is still rife and rampant, Barisan Nasional not only swept all the seats but also did so with an increased majority. Therefore more is needed if Pakatan Rakyat is going to win the next election and form the next federal government.

We need to impress upon Pakatan Rakyat that it should not take the voters for granted. It must not assume that the voters will support it just because they are unhappy with Barisan Nasional. In 2008 it was about ABU (‘Anything But Umno’ or ‘Asal Bukan Umno’). This time around it has to be more than just ABU.

If just by exposing and revealing the transgressions and crimes of the ruling government this can help Pakatan Rakyat march into Putrajaya then we can continue doing that. But we worry that the last few by-elections have proven that this is not enough.

Pakatan Rakyat can’t get to form the next government on the back of the weaknesses of Barisan Nasional. It can only get to form the next federal government if it can convince the voters that it can be a better and more capable government.

And exposing and revealing the wrongdoings of Barisan Nasional does not mean that Pakatan Rakyat can be a better government. It just means that Barisan Nasional is a worse government. And that is not good enough.

Malaysia Today is not in the business of entertaining you with stories of sex romps and bonking in the corridors of power. We want to see the success of the ‘Rakyat Reform Agenda’ or RARA. And this can only happen if we see reforms and/or a change of government. So that is the focus of our work from hereon till the next general election.

Then, depending on the outcome of the next general election, we shall see where we go from there.