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Friday, April 1, 2011

Arming Libyan rebels: Should U.S. do it?

Libyan rebels wave the flag of the rebellion as they gather near Brega March 31.

Washington (CNN) -- The United States has seen what happens when it arms rebel forces against brutal regimes -- and how it can backfire.

Libya could end up in that same category.

Here are some frequently asked questions on the situation in Libya, what the options are and the debate over arming the rebels.

What's at stake?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, of which the United States is a member, is working to take down Col. Moammar Gadhafi's brutal regime, which has reportedly killed thousands of Libyans since a revolt broke out over the past month.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that Gadhafi still wants to take back the city of Benghazi, the rebel stronghold, and that the dictator "will kill as many (people) as he must to crush the rebellion."

France was the first nation to step in to enforce the no-fly zone directive. French fighter jets struck military targets in eastern Libya on March 19.

Britain also stepped into the conflict by providing logistical support. Shortly after, U.S. fighter jets used air strikes to take out targets while warships launched missiles into the northern African nation.

The United States has since handed over the brunt of the mission to NATO, but it is still the major force behind the effort.

But administration officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, insist that "there will be no boots on the ground," or sending in U.S. troops to support the rebels.

By taking down Gadhafi, the country stands a chance at developing a democracy. In essence, Gadhafi needs to go and prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis that could help destabilize the entire region.

It's a point that has been made clear from President Barack Obama, his administration and leaders around the world.

Who are the opposition and what do they want?

Simply put, Libyans who are outraged at the atrocities that the Gadhafi regime has inflicted on its people including massive human rights violations.

But if the rebels are successful, there are concerns that such a fractured group could form an actual government -- or work with the U.S.

And perhaps that is why Central Intelligence Agency operatives are inside Libya, a U.S. intelligence source said, to get firsthand knowledge of who the coalition is working with.

In addition, a former counterterrorism official with knowledge of the U.S. policy in Libya told CNN there is a presidential finding authorizing the CIA to conduct operations in support of U.S. policy there, including assessing and meeting with the opposition and determining their needs.

Why it's a bad idea

Training Libyan rebels against Gadhafi's forces comes down to education. Can the rogue group learn to use sophisticated machinery and the tactics to employ it in time -- and with a clear directive?

"This is a nightmare trying to train the Libyans. I tried to do it many years ago, said Robert Baer, a former CIA operative. "These people are very difficult to manage."

Baer added that the type of discipline needed "takes a very, very long time, especially when you're dealing with a foreign force and you have to have Arabic speakers on the ground. It's tough."

So is it practical to arm the rebels fast enough?

"Well, the notion of the gang that couldn't shoot straight might be lived out," Retired Army Brigadier Gen. James Marks said. "Absolutely, there must be some degree of training that is associated with arming this force. However, some weapons systems clearly they can get a handle on and they can use immediately."

Another problem?

"We simply don't have control over the rebels. They don't have to follow our orders," Baer said. "They take our money and weapons and go shoot who they want."

Why it's a good idea

Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy secretary of defense under former President George W. Bush, said it's vital the U.S. supports arming the rebels.

"I think we should be doing everything we can to support the opposition," he said. "It's true, we don't know what the opposition would be like when they take over, but there are actually some promising signs."

Another Bush official said that arming rebels is vital to the overall mission.

"Somebody has got to be on the ground doing the hard work of taking the territory," said former National Security adviser Stephen Hadley. "And if it's not going to be U.S. troops -- and nobody really wants that -- then we're going to have to deal with the Libyan people and try to empower them to fight and win their own freedom. And giving them weapons has to be part of that."

Will history come back to haunt us?

The Soviet Union fought a brutal war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The U.S., strictly opposed to the move by the "evil empire," as former President Ronald Reagan called it, tried to tilt the balance by arming the Afghan mujahadeen against the Soviets.

Though in the short term it helped the mujahadeen drive the Soviets out, some of those same weapons were used years later against the U.S. during the war in Afghanistan -- the longest war in the country's history.

Republican Chairman

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said in a statement that he has deep concerns over such past efforts.

"We don't have to look very far back in history to find examples of the unintended consequences of passing out advanced weapons to a group of fighters we didn't know as well as we should have," said Rogers, , who is chairman of of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "We need to be very careful before rushing into a decision that could come back to haunt us."

But former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that sometimes arming opposition forces can work.

"We did a good job in Afghanistan (arming) the Northern Alliance and some of their militias in the south and they were very successful in driving al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and of changing the regime from the Taliban to the Afghan government," Rumsfield said.

Ties to terrorist groups?

According to Adm. James Stavrides, the U.S. NATO commander, U.S. intelligence has detected evidence of "flickers" of al Qaeda and Hezbollah elements among the rebels -- though the influence appears to be minimal.

Senior officials and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney seemed to downplay that notion, saying that the values being expressed by the rebels are "antithetical to the purposes and ideals set forth by terrorist organizations."

Rumsfeld, one of the key figure in taking the U.S. to war in Iraq, said there are concerns about terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah influencing the rebels.

He said that there are still a great deal of questions as to who is involved in the rebel group and therefore "you have to be careful about arming rebels."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana, asked Thursday: "How many of these citizen-soldiers fighting against Gadhafi -- how many are people who are tied into terrorist organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan and do we know who they are? Do we have any idea?"

He added that it's "a heck of a situation when we go into a conflict and we don't know who we are supporting."

What's it going to cost?

While NATO has taken over the military operations in Libya, the U.S. still has committed itself to support, which could result in billions of dollars in aid going forward.

Meanwhile in Washington, the battle in Congress is over cutting spending, reducing the deficit and passing a 2011 budget.

There is no doubt that critics on both sides of the aisle will grill administration officials on why the U.S. should add money the country doesn't have -- and whether the operation could stretch the already overstretched U.S. military.

Mission Interlok: The cloning of Ridhuan

When American teen sensation Miley Cyrus (who gained celebrity for playing Disney’s Hannah Montana) parodied the slit-eyed Chinese, there were howls of protest. She apologized.

‘Sepet’ is scattered throughout Interlok like birdshot but its author Abdullah Hussain remains unapologetic. Yet writing in The Malaysian Insider, Sen Tyng Chai bemoaned the widespread “wave of blind criticism” against Interlok.

clip_image003Mr/Ms Chai in his/her an article titled ‘Justice for Interlok’ disagrees ‘gemuk’, ‘sepet’, etc should be “perceived as derogatory, pejorative and insulting”. In our humble opinion, Chai is a spiritual cousin of Mohd Ridhuan Tee bin Abdullah, who’s quite the self-flagellating Chinese (think the equivalent concept of ‘self-hating Jew’).

Columnist Ridhuan coined the term ‘ultra kiasu’ to describe Chinese people. His description has been formalised through constant use in Utusan, and popularized among the Malay masses.

By defending the contentious novel, Chai is by extension allowing for ‘pariah’ in a classroom setting that will validate its use, if not increase the chances of Indian students getting bullied.

Blogger Scott Thong turned the tables: “Why don’t you try it the other way around and see if you still find it so acceptable”, what if school students were forced to read a book where the majority of Malay characters were portrayed as lazy, ignorant, arrogant and prone to violent and hateful rhetoric? Think Ridhuan Tee would be defending the book then?”

clip_image005Just as Ridhuan reinforced the Chinese bogeyman as a demagogue speaking from the inside (i.e. posturing as someone who himself belongs to the said community), Chai’s shameless apologia for Ketuanan Melayu casts him/her in the same mould of scapegoating the non-Malays.

These writers are secure in the comfort that the majority population as well as the brute force of authority will back them up.

Expressing his/her anguish with regard to the emotional public “outbursts” against Abdullah, Chai countered that Interlok is, on the contrary, a text indeed suitable for schools. He/she recommends Interlok “because it is historical fiction with strong messages of inter-racial unity”.

Not content with the overblown cliché, Chai piled on more praise, saying the novel “spoke of people helping one another regardless of creed and colour, and how humanity triumphs in the face of adversity”. It boggles the mind how Interlok can be hailed as promoting a “central message of unity”.

clip_image007On the contrary, conflict resolution in Interlok is achieved when Chinese children repudiate their fathers and are in turn disowned by their fathers. The Interlok formulation is that we’ll have one ethnically harmonious, racism-free Malaya when Chinese families are broken up and the next generation are ready to shed their Chinese-born traits (sarc.) of parsimony, cheating, swindling and conniving.
Instead of being about “the intertwined fate of Malayans from different communities who helped one another…” as so deceptively put by Chai, Interlok could well pass off for a BTN module in ‘Demonizing Immigrants 101’.

It’s to be expected that Ridhuan Tee would give stamp of approval to Interlok as an educational book. But here’s another fella/gal – this Chai Sen Tyng in such rhapsody over Interlok’s “literary and educational merits”.

These tiresome acolytes of Ridhuan in their tiresome writing and blog comments copy his template to a ‘tee’. What is it with these academics in local public universities? Something in the air they breathe?
clip_image008Malaysian education is thoroughly politicized. Where else in the world do you have a country’s biggest university shutting its doors to minority students on the basis of skin colour?

In which other multiracial country do you have every single one of the public university Vice Chancellors belonging to only one race? (But we’re waiting for Ridhuan Tee to break the glass ceiling).

Don’t you suspect that the selection of Interlok as a compulsory text was a politicized decision as well?

Siapa yang jadi kuda tunggangan politik Interlok?

Permas dan Mantap kaitkan bantahan terhadap Interlok sebagai 'usaha gadai maruah pribumi'.

Kontroversi berkenaan novel Interlok kini berterusan dengan kemasukan watak badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) baru seperti Majlis Penasihat Ayahanda Wilayah Persekutuan (Mantap) dan Pertubuhan Permuafakatan Majlis Ayahanda Malaysia (Permas).

Lantas persoalan yang timbul; dari mana datangnya NGO baru seperti cendawan selepas hujan.

Kedua-dua NGO ini dilaporkan menyelar sikap sikap mereka yang mempunyai kepentingan politik masih lagi mempermainkan isu yang sensitif ini dan cuba menangguk di air keruh, amat tidak senangi.

“Malahan sikap sebahagian daripada ahli parti komponen BN yang bersekongkol dalam mensensasikan isu ini juga amat biadap dan terpesong dari semangat keharmonian yang dilaungkan oleh kerajaan,” petik kenyataan itu.

Sehubungan itu, NGO Melayu turut mendesak kerajaan agar bertegas dan tidak mempedulikan tuntutan tersebut.

“Ingat! Pihak kami tidak sekali-kali akan membiarkan cacing naik ke mata dan keharmonian yang terbina sekian lama terkubur disebabkan kerakusan oportunis sebegini.

“Tekad kami, maruah bangsa perlu dipertahankan. Walau bergolok bergadai akan tetap kami harungi. Maruah pribumi wajib didaulatkan dan keharmonian negara mesti dikekalkan,” Permas dan Mantap dipetik berkata dalam kenyataan mereka.

Jawapan kepada Permas dan Mantap

Sebagai penulis yang mengikuti kontroversi sejak hari pertama, saya tidak dapat melihat motif politik pihak yang menentang penggunaan Interlok edisi murid.

Sesi taklimat berkenaan pindaan anjuran MIC turut dihadiri wakil daripada PKR dan DAP disamping perwakilan Badan Bertindak Interlok Kebangsaan (Niat) yang diketuai Dato’ Haji Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim.

Apakah motif politik yang digembar-gemburkan walhal hadirin dari pelbagai parti politik?

Permas dan Mantap nampaknya kurang senang dengan pendirian MIC yang dilihat sebagai bersekongkol.

Ia jelas menunjukkan bahawa Permas dan Mantap mempunyai pemahaman cetek mengenai politik perkongsian komponen parti Barisan Nasional (BN).

Setiap parti komponen menjaga kepentingan kaum mereka di dalam kerangka kerja BN.

Justeru itu, usaha MIC adalah selaras dengan memastikan undi masyarakat India kekal sebagai deposit tetap Umno dan BN.

Ia bukan biadap dan jauh sekali daripada menjejaskan keharmonian. Keharmonian terjejas apabila pelajar Melayu dan India misalnya, bergaduh ekoran pendekatan dan perkataan yang dipelajari dari Interlok edisi murid.

Permas dan Mantap berpandangan bahawa maruah bangsa dan pribumi akan tergadai sekiranya kerajaan akur kepada permintaan untuk menggugurkan novel Interlok.

Di dalam cerita 1: keluarga Seman, terdapat adegan di mana tok bomoh menggunakan tengkorak manusia sebagai medium perubatan.

Tidakkah ini menunjukkan kegoyahan akidah masyarakat Melayu walaupun telah menerima Islam?

Di manakah maruah bangsa dalam isu ini? Bukankah identiti Islam lebih penting daripada identiti Melayu?

Malah Perlembagaan Persekutuan mendefinasikan orang Melayu sebagai Islam. Maruah bangsa pribumi akan lebih terserlah apabila lebih banyak pengetahuan dan kesatuan rakyat Malaysia diperkukuhkan melalui penulisan sastera yang mengajak pembaca berfikir secara kreatif dan kritikal.

PSM: MRT will bring hell to Kota Damansara

Assemblyman Nasir Hashim worries that a lack of planning and wanton development will turn the town’s roads into a mess of never-ending traffic jams.

KOTA DAMANSARA: Persiaran Surian is a heavily travelled highway even during those hours when most people are supposed to be at work or at home. During peak hours, however, it is a monstrous serpent of stuck automobiles.
It is not the only road serving this hastily developed township. There are four others, and they too are notorious for traffic jams.
One would have thought that any public transportation project affecting the township would have included a plan to solve this perennial problem. However, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project is likely to make it worse.
No one is more convinced of this than Kota Damansara state assemblyman Nasir Hashim.
The PSM leader showed FMT blueprints of the six MRT stations planned for the township. They are named Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, Rubber Research Institute (RRI) of Malaysia, Kota Damansara North, Taman Industri Sungai Buloh, Kota Damansara South and Dataran Sunway.
Directly above Persiaran Surian
The stations will be sited along Persiaran Surian and Jalan Sungai Buloh, the two main roads serving the township.
Pointing to the Dataran Sunway blueprint, Nasir said: “It will be built directly on top of Persiaran Surian.”  The other stations too will more or less sit directly atop either of the two roads.
Nasir and his staff worry that some of the roads will be closed during the MRT’s development, resulting in traffic jams that are almost unimaginably severe.
“For sure some parts of the road are going to be closed,” Nasir said. “Right now, a four-lane road is already jammed. Are we going to need an alternative road? Are they going to expand the road?”

Nowhere near residential areas
He noted that some of the stations would be far away from highly-populated residential areas.
He pointed to the Taman Industri Sungai Buloh station. There are warehouses on the right and rubber estates on the left.
The placement of the Rubber Research Institute station too was unrealistic, he said. “There are very few houses in the area.”
PSM national treasurer A Sivarajan said he had heard that the government intended to acquire certain residential lots, even though they were far from the rail tracks shown in the MRT’s public display.
“Some of the people made a check on the land areas that were on the list for acquisition, but they’re not on the alignment,” he said.
He said the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) was not forthcoming with details of the acquisition.
“We’re not sure if they’re acquiring the lots for reasons other than the rail. So we’re quite blur about this.”
Depot next to village
The PSM leader also expressed worry over the possibility of a MRT depot being built right next to Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh.
According to MRT public display images, a huge plot of land has been reserved for this purpose, with track alignment diverting from the main railway line.
Going by the images, the total land area for the proposed depot is dozens of times larger than the largest industrial warehouse in the area.
“It’s a big section of land,” Sivarajan said. “It could be 30 to 40 acres in size.”
However, he was more concerned with the depot’s operating hours, and drew a comparison with aircraft testing near Ara Damansara.
“In Ara Damansara, all those people who bought houses near the airport have to bear with aircraft testing up to four o’clock in the morning.
“When you have a depot here by the village, trains aren’t going to be running at normal hours. They’re probably going to be working at three or four in the morning.”
He added that the proposed depot sat directly on top of several TOL (Temporary Occupation License) land tracts.
“There are people here who use this land for agriculture to support their livelihood. They will be affected.”
He said many of those people had been there for decades.
Subang Bestari isolated
Another concern for the PSM men is the adjacent Subang Bestari township, connected to Kota Damansara only by Jalan Sungai Buloh.
Sivarajan said that none of the MRT tracks passed through the township despite an “alleged 40 housing estates” located in the area.
He added that the Petaling District and Land Office would be moving to the area.
FMT also learned that HELP University College would build its upcoming Subang 2 campus there, near Persiaran Cakerawala.
Despite these developments, PSM said the government had no plans to put an MRT station in the area.
SPAD intends only to route MRT feeder buses in a general circle around the entire township, instead of going through the housing areas.
“People who want to access the MRT station will have to go through Persiaran Cakerawala to get to the Sungai Buloh road,” Sivarajan said.
“It’s going to increase the traffic there.”
Even now, he added, Persiaran Cakerawala was already packed heavy traffic.
“It would be better if they could pull the MRT stations further in, or have an access road for motorists to cut across the RRI land.”
What traffic assessment?
Rumours of development at the RRI land are also of great concern to Nasir. He worries that congestion in the area will become intolerable.
“What’s going to happen if the RRI land is going to be developed? We’re already jammed around here.”
“Are there going to be alternate roads for people to move around?”
Nasir accused the government of carrying out the MRT project without conducting traffic studies.
Construction for the MRT system is expected to begin this July.
“We don’t want construction to begin suddenly and then we will have to put up with 24 hours of traffic jams,” Nasir said.
Pointing to Persiaran Surian, he remarked: “Now it’s hell. Soon, it’s going to be super hell.”

Newly built Sabah bridge found collapsed

The bridge in Kg Bungan Kota Belud collapsed shortly after its completion in April 2009.

KOTA KINABALU: The underbelly of infrastructure and development work in Sabah has again been exposed as rotten by an opposition team monitoring such work in the state.

The latest instance of shoddy work is a recently constructed bridge that no longer serves its purpose a year after its completion, according to a Pakatan Rakyat team which visited the site.

The new bridge in Kg Bungan Kota Belud, constructed under the Rural Infrastructure Development project under the Prime Minister’s Department, collapsed shortly after its completion in April 2009, according to the team.

DAP Kota Kinabalu MP Hiew King Cheu, state DAP leaders Edward Ewol Mujie and John Lee Kim Seng, PAS Sabah deputy commissioner Mohd Aminudin B Aling and publicity chief Ag Laiman Tkin made the visit recently after being told of the incident.

Hiew said it was surprising to see that the completed bridge had fallen into the river and was no longer able to serve as a link to the nearby kampungs.

“This is a vital short cut from the main road to the kampungs and now the kampung folk had to travel on a long detour to reach home, especially on bad unsealed road,” he said.

A check by Hiew, an engineer by training, revealed that the foundation of the bridge abutment had failed and caused the collapse of the bridge by up to a meter.

“The concrete bridge is now beyond repair and needs to be rebuilt totally,” he said.

“The inspection has shown that the piling to the abutment/bridge head was either not sufficient or not done at all to support the weight of the bridge.”

Bridge to nowhere

The team said this was another example of costly development projects that had ended in disaster with public money being wasted and no one taking responsibility or made answerable.

The Pakatan Rakyat team wants the government to answer what went wrong and what action they intend to take on the matter.

“We cannot have this type of development projects going on under cover as if nothing had happened. There are plenty more in the Kota Belud district,” said Hiew.

This is the second instance of a bridge that was constructed but could not be used.

Last month, Hiew revealed a ‘bridge to nowhere’ at Kg Brunei in Membakut that has become an embarrassment to both locals and visiting dignitaries

The bridge near Beaufort on the west coast of Sabah, over a tributary of the Kimanis river at Kg Brunei, was completed in 2008 and was meant to replace a timber-bridge which was frequently affected by floods in the area, but is not connected to any road and is ‘sitting like a sculpture’.

Hiew said there could be many more such ill-conceived projects in the rural areas and urged the public to contact the Pakatan representatives to inform them of any problem in their area to ensure that the government spent their money wisely.

Gossip And Slander: A Muslim Response

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

It is with great dismay that we watch the recent events unfolding in Malaysia. As much as we are not in the position to guess the motives or the truth behind the issue of the recent scandal we should, as Muslims, remind ourselves of how we should react when confronted with such news.

Our declaration of “There is no god worthy of worship except Allah” compels us to believe and abide by the word of Qur’an. A scandal is exciting but it blurs our judgment. As Muslims it is imperative that we remain lucid and not be swayed. Allah has revealed the Qur’an as our guide to distinguish between right and wrong.

When confronted with an issue, instead of following our whims, we must allow the Qur’an to be the final word. From then it determines how we react and move forward.

As in the lesson of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) the Prophet Muhammad’s wife (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), to accuse someone of adultery, Allah says:

Why then, did not the believers, men and women, when you heard it (the slander) think good of their own people and say: “This (charge) is an obvious lie?” Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they (the slanderers) have not produced witnesses! Then with Allâh they are the liars. (Chapter 24 – The Light, Verses 12-13)

Islam upholds the sanctity of human dignity and it is our obligation to defend our fellow brothers’ and sisters’ honour. To accuse someone of adultery and to repeat it without evidence is a grave offence that infringes upon the rights of our fellow Muslim. To accept, judge the person and spread news based on stories or hearsay with no clear evidence is a form of oppression. Allah says:

When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great. (Chapter 24 – The Light, Verse 15)

The media carries a heavy responsibility and burden for the public. We must be careful of what we hear and pass on. We might not be in control of the news but we are responsible for how we deal with it.

We must remember to also look at the implications of our actions. This incident has a much longer lasting and negative effect on the youth of our country. The terrible way news is featured in the media and the direct access teenagers and children have towards obscene news will shape their outlook on politics, leadership, and private and public sins.

We must also be cautious not to fall into the trap of backbiting. Backbiting is something we take lightly but in reality comes with grave consequences.

We are warned in the Qur’an about suspicion, backbiting and spying where backbiting is likened to eating dead flesh:

“Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting)” (Chapter Hujurat – The Dwellings, Verse 12)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) defined backbiting: “Do you know what is meant by backbiting?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “To say something about your brother which he dislikes.” One asked, “Even if what I say is true about my brother?” He replied, “If such defects you say are true about him, then you have backbitten him, and if he doesn’t have what you say, then you have committed slander against him.” (Related by Muslim, Abu Dawood, and Tirmidhi)

He also emphatically stated “The gossiper will not enter paradise”. (Bukhari and Muslim)

We have so many other pressing issues at hand. From corruption to poverty to unemployment and that’s just to name a few.

During these times we must remind each other of the words of Allah so that the slandering does not perpetuate further and cause more harm to the society. We call upon everyone, our elders, our leaders, our brothers and sisters, and all Malaysians from all walks of life to always walk the moral high round when dealing with our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity.

Let us show our future generation exemplary conduct we can be proud of.

May Allah always guide us to the right path.

Young Worried Malaysian Muslims

Shortage of judges in syariah courts

The New Straits Times

THE syariah courts are still facing a shortage of judges, the Dewan Rakyat was told yesterday.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim said this is despite more judges being appointed to help reduce the number of backlog cases in the syariah courts.

"We have asked for more judges to be appointed, but so far, we have not managed to get the number we wanted.

"For example, we asked for 12 judges for the lower syariah courts but only six were approved.

We requested for eight judges for the syariah high courts and only four were approved," she said in reply to a supplementary question from Nasharuddin Mat Isa (PAS-Bachok).

Mashitah said in a year, a syariah judge had to preside over at least 800 cases.

Replying to Datuk Noraini Ahmad (BN-Parit Sulong), Mashitah said the procedures for Muslim marriages and divorces were consistent in every state.

"The content and sections in the Islamic family law for marriages and divorces are uniformed."

Battle Royale In Pending?

By Caroline Jackson

KUCHING, March 31 (Bernama) -- While the Sarawak United People's Party and the DAP are certain to do battle in the predominantly Chinese urban state constituencies, the fight is expected to be most intense in Pending.

A battle royale is widely anticipated as the Barisan Nasional goes all out to wrest Pending back from the DAP with a candidate whom the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak endorsed well before the nomination set for April 6.

Cardiologist Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian meets the criteria that Najib set that a candidate should be respected and liked and must have a good chance of winning.

The early confirmation of his candidacy showed how much confidence the government has in him to woo the Chinese voters, who account for 90 per cent of Pending's electorate of 29,488.

Dr Sim, who is president of the National Heart Association of Malaysia, resigned as head of the Department of Cardiology and the Clinical Research Centre of the Sarawak General Hospital in Kota Samarahan recently to contest the April 16 election.

His supporters understand that he decided to resign while at the top of his profession because politics would allow him a wider scope to serve the people, especially the Chinese community, and the country.

As the son of the late Datuk Amar Sim Kheng Hong, a former deputy chief minister, politics is in his blood. He is also related to SUPP secretary-general Datuk Sim Kheng Hiu, who was defeated by Pending incumbent Violet Yong in the last state election.

Serdang Hospital consultant Dr Annuar Rapaee refers to Dr Sim as "my former boss" and remembers how he treated all who worked with him as friends and was always willing to share knowledge, particularly in his field of specialisation.

He said that it would be a waste of leadership talent for the 47-year-old Dr Sim to confine himself to treating heart patients.

Dr Annuar, who had assisted Dr Sim at the cardiology department while a lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Kota Samarahan from 2002 to 2010, said his mentor was well-known internationally.

He believed that Dr Sim, a fellow of at least 10 medical institutions world-wide, was responsible for the American College of Cardiology making Malaysia its first chapter.

Kapitan Bong Kim Chiew noted that Dr Sim, a graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, returned to Malaysia in 1998 in response to a government call for him to come back and help overcome the shortage of specialists.

He said Dr Sim sacrificed a lot in terms of job and financial security because he really wanted to help the community.

"His late father had done a good job. The son sould be allowed to continue the good work," Bong told Bernama.

"With his ability and good intentions, he (Dr Sim) is the right man, in the right place, at the right time," he said, adding that the opposition had not done much for the Pending constituents in the past five years.

Dr Sim had recently expressed the hope that he could continue as a visiting doctor at the Sarawak General Hospital Heart Centre.

He has at the same time stressed that he wished to "serve people beyond the hospital".

"As a politician, I think I can be more effective," he said.

Pending is one of the six state seats that SUPP lost to the DAP in the May 2006 state election.

In Dr Sim, SUPP sees its best chance of reclaiming Pending.

Gaddafi's forces battle rebels for Brega

Troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have continued their advance against pro-democracy fighters as they moved eastwards toward Brega.

Brega is one of several oil towns along the fiercely contested coastal strip. Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, west of Brega, have both been retaken by Gaddafi's forces. Zueitina, east of Brega, is still in rebel hands.

Some rebel forces fell back on Wednesday as far as the town of Ajdabiya, the gateway to the east about 150 kilometres south of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Ajdabiya was still in rebel hands on Thursday.

For several weeks pro-democracy fighters and forces loyal to Gaddafi have been fighting across a strip of land between Ajdabiya and Bin Jawad.

Rebels armed mainly with pick-ups mounted with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and AK-47 assault rifles have been unable to hold on to gains despite almost two weeks of air strikes by coalition forces.

Brega and Misurata reportedly came under heavy attack from Gaddafi's forces on Thursday, with the frontline moving closer to Ajdabiya.

Misurata – the last major rebel stronghold in western Libya – has been encircled by pro-Gaddafi forces for weeks and repeated coalition air strikes aimed at protecting civilians there have not stopped them.

Civilian casualties

A rebel spokesman said pro-Gaddafi forces shelled Misurata on Thursday, leaving dozens of civilians dead in the past few days when their homes were hit.

"Massacres are taking place in Misrata," the rebel spokesman, called Sami, told Reuters by telephone.

"Artillery bombardment resumed this morning and is still going on. The [pro-Gaddafi] brigades could not enter the town but they are surrounding it.

"Twenty civilians were killed yesterday after their houses were hit by bombardments. Many people were wounded."

Residents say that figure added to the dozens who have been killed in fighting over the past 10 days.

Meanwhile, a NATO commander on Thursday said the bloc was taking seriously reports of civilian casualties in coalition air raids over Libya.

A top Vatican official citing reliable sources in close contact with residents told Reuters at least 40 civilians have been killed in air strikes over Tripoli.

"It is a news report and I appreciate the source of this report but it is worth noting that I take every one of those issues seriously," Lieutenant-general Charles Bouchard, the Canadian commander of the coalition's military operations over Libya, said.

"We are very careful in the prosecution of any of the possible targets that we have. We have very strict rules of engagement provided to us and we are operating within the legal mandate of our United Nations mandate."

'Gaddafi is staying'

A government spokesman on Thursday said that Gaddafi will stay in the country "until the end" to lead it to victory against its enemies.

Moussa Ibrahim, who spoke in Tripoli a day after Moussa Koussa, the former Libyan foreign minister, fled to Britain, said coalition air strikes had only united its top leadership against "a clear enemy".

"If this aggression did anything, it only rallied people around the leader and the unity of the nation," he said. "Especially now. They see a clear enemy."

Ibrahim said Gaddafi and his sons were still in the country.

"Rest assured, we are all here. We will remain here until the end. This is our country. We are strong on every front."

"We are not relying on individuals to lead the struggle. This is a struggle of the whole nation. It's not dependent on individuals or officials."

Source: Agencies

Interlok: For first time Chinese NGOs’ joins Hindraf & HRP in challenging Malay (muslim) supremacy and racist Interlok

Just before the 2007 Hindraf Rally when Hindraf first alleged UMNO racism even the then and now MCA President Dato Seri Chua Soi Lek remarked, ‘that the Hindraf attack on UMNO was akin to an attack on the Malays’ and supported UMNO against Hindraf.

But in the post Hindraf Rally, Malaysians started wanting to speak the truth, began speaking the truth and today websites, blogs, e-mails are directly attacking UMNO who are the real power ruling Malaysia but which has been hiding behind BN umbrella.

We uncovered for all to see the real enemy for all Malaysians – Umno, the rest being their mandores (henchmen) who are only to be dismissed contemptuously!
Hindraf had to pay the ultimate price. Four Hindraf lawyers including P. Uthayakumar were detained without trial under the ISA for 514 days. Hundreds of Hindraf supporters were arrested, jailed and prosecuted. Thereafter we had continued almost solo in fighting UMNO racism, Malay muslim supremacy and religious extremism as reported and documented on a day to day basis in

And then we had the likes of Anwar Ibrahim, his supporters and the Indian elite apologists who argued that UMNO racism cannot be fought with “Indian racism.”
But today history was created when the Chinese Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysian-China Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Chinese Associations Johor, the Penang Chinese Town Hall and 40 others, including the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and several Indian organisations, joined Hindraf and HRP in actually “challenging Malay supremacy (Malay Mail 30/3/2011) and (UMNO) Interlok as racist.

We have certainly come a long way!

UMNO still refuse to see the warning signs from the Middle East, the latest being in Syria, and is riding rough shot with impunity with their day to day acts of racism, and targeted at the softest target Indian poor, the worst hit who are the most likely to the spark that lights the Malaysian prairie fire.

Rights not Mercy.

P. Uthayakumar

BN MPs push for RCI on sex tape

Independent MP's proposal to unravel the truth behind scandal via the RCI gets enthusiastic endorsement.

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional backbenchers supported a proposal by Independent Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong that a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) be set up to unravel the sex tape fiasco.

Wee during the Supplementary Bill debate for the Home Ministry hit out at the police for their “pathetic” policing, citing the sex tape linked to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The former PKR leader said the police was slow to act and that the investigation on the sex tape leaves much to be desired.

He then said it was best that a RCI be set up.

“We even had a RCI for the nude-squat incident,” he told the Dewan, referring to the incident where a Chinese woman was forced to strip and do squats in a police lock-up some years ago.

“This tape involves a top leader, someone who is very established, so why can’t we have a RCI set up for this?” asked Wee who quit PKR after a fallout with Anwar.

Since his defection last year, Wee has embarked on a consistent offensive campaign against the opposition leader.

His idea for a RCI to be set up was backed by several BN backbenchers. The demand was led by Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan who rose from his chair to weigh in on the proposal.

“This issue has been too politicised. It has been too convoluted by politics so I support the idea that a RCI be set up,” said Abdul Rahman.

This prompted Khalid Samad, PAS lawmaker from Shah Alam, to stand up and reiterate Pakatan Rakyat’s position that the sex tape expose was politically motivated.

He defended Anwar and said those behind the sex tape were the ones who were politicising the issue and also echoed Wee’s views that the claims of conspiracy behind the sex tape can only be solved by a RCI.

“The ones politicising the issue are those behind the tape. What were their motivations. It is Umno that is politicising the issue. If the sex tape expose was done through the legal way, it would have been different,” he said.

Abdul Rahman responded by saying that it was exactly because both sides were accusing each other of malice in the scandal that it was best to leave the investigation to an independent body in the form of a RCI.

‘It is only porn if tape is authentic’

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had said in the past that establishing a RCI is not under his ministry’s purview. He also said the setting up of a commission will not stop police from its investigation.

He reiterated this at a press conference in Parliament here today and also revealed that “several experts have been called in to examine the tape”.

Hishammuddin’s deputy Wira Abu Seman, in his response to queries on the issue during his winding up in the House, also said there was no need for a commission at the moment.

The tape, purportedly showing a man resembling Anwar and having sex with a Chinese woman, was exposed by the “Datuk T” last Monday.

The “Datuk T” trio are former Malacca Chief Minister Rahim Tamby Chik, businessman Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and Perkasa treasurer Shuib Lazim.

The first two are now being probed under Section 292 of the Penal Code for possession and distribution of pornographic material.

However, no clarifications were made by either the police or the Home Ministry if the investigation included verifying accusations by the trio that it was Anwar in the tape.

But Abu Seman in his response to Rembau MP and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s question on the matter gave a vague answer: “Under Section 292 of the Penal Code, it is only porn if the tape is authentic.”

Anwar has denied he is the man in the tape and his Pakatan allies claim it was doctored and aimed at denting the opposition pact’s chances at the April 16 Sarawak polls.

They also accused Umno as the key player behind the scandal, a charge their leaders vehemently denied.

Mashitah: Poco-poco hanya senaman, tidak perlu diharamkan

Setiap negeri berhak mempunyai fatwa yang bersesuaian dengan negeri masing-masing

PUTRAJAYA: Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim berpendapat tarian poco-poco hanyalah sejenis tarian berbentuk senaman serta tidak perlu diharamkan di seluruh negara.

“Dari satu tempat ke satu tempat tarian poco-poco ini berbeza. Lagu pun tidak sama. Jadi besar kemungkinan ditimbulkan di Perak kerana di Perak tidak sama dengan tempat lain.

“Tapi di tempat-tempat lain yang saya sendiri perhatikan ia berbentuk lebih kepada senaman yang mana kalau nak buat aerobik itu pada orang tua mungkin agak agresif.Jadi poco-poco ini digunakan sebagai wadah untuk orang bersenam, itu yang saya lihatlah,” katanya kepada pemberita di sini hari ini.

Beliau diminta mengulas mengenai keputusan Jawatankuasa Fatwa Negeri Perak untuk mengharamkan tarian itu seperti yang diumumkan Mufti Perak Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria baru-baru ini.

Bagaimanapun, katanya setiap negeri berhak mempunyai fatwa yang bersesuaian dengan negeri masing-masing, begitu juga di Perak yang sudah tentu mempunyai alasan tersendiri untuk mengharamkan tarian itu.

Harussani dilaporkan berkata tarian tersebut diharamkan kerana ia mempunyai unsur kepercayaan agama lain iaitu Kristian selain pemujaan roh dan pewartaan terhadap fatwa itu akan dibuat tidak lama lagi.

“Poco-poco itu adalah muzakarah fatwa di Perak sahaja. Sehingga kini keputusan itu belum diwartakan. Bermakna selagi itu, ia tidak berkuatkuasa.

Kalau berkuatkuasa pun ia hanya di Perak sahaja kerana ia bukan hasil dari keseluruhan muzakarah mufti,” kata Mashitah.

Ketika ditanya sama ada Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) perlu mengkaji pengharaman tarian itu, beliau berkata ia perlu dikaji sekiranya terdapat aduan daripada rakyat.

“Kalau tidak ada orang nak mengadu, jadi tiada punca kita nak mengkaji benda ini kerana tidak ada sebarang aduan yang melihat bahawa poco-poco ini berkaitan dengan perkara-perkara yang bercanggah dengan agama,” katanya.

Terdahulu beliau melancarkan prapelancaran Album Masjid: Lambang Ketamadunan Islam di Malaysia yang mempamerkan keunikan gabungan seni fotografi dan fakta mengenai masjid-masjid di seluruh negara.

- Bernama

Free WiFi: Gerakan lauds CM’s U-turn

A Gerakan Youth leader lauds the initiative and stresses that the contract must be awarded through an open tender.

ALOR STAR: Kedah Gerakan Youth wing today welcomed the Penang government’s decision to consider bids by alternative companies to carry out the state’s free WiFi initiative.

However, the wing’s head Tan Keng Liang insisted that the RM8.5 million WiFi contract must be awarded to any deserving company only through an open tender system.

“Only an open tender system can ensure that the contract to provide free WiFi will be transparent,” he told FMT.

He was responding to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s announcement this week to allow other bidders for the free WiFi initiative.

Previously, the state government decided to award the contract for phase two of the free Wifi project to REDtone International Bhd.

Lim said on Monday that only one public-listed company had come forward to provide free broadband access under the state’s free WiFi initiative, the first such initiative in the country.

The chief minister said an open tender system was not offered for the project as the state government wanted a reputable company to take charge.

Moreover, REDtone was willing to set up, provide and maintain 750 free WiFi hotspots in public areas in the state without any funding from the state government under the first phase.

Under phase two, REDtone would install another 750 free WiFi hotspots over the next five years in Penang.

Lim, however, came under fire from several quarters for not exercising the state’s much-lauded open tender system in awarding the second phase contract.

Lim had said the main reason why REDtone was offered to carry out the phase two project “without an open tender” was because it was the only company that applied for and qualified for the award.

Moreover, he explained the company had to be public-listed for the state government to have “some sort of guarantee” on the completion of the project.

‘Against the Orange Book’

Following strong criticism, Lim made a U-turn and announced that the state government was willing to consider other bids provided that “the bidders accepted the conditions imposed on the current operating company.”

Tan said the refusal by Lim’s government to hold an open tender in the first place was against the principles of Pakatan Rakyat’s Common Policy Framework (CPF) and Orange Book.

He said the non-implementation of the open system actually implied that the Pakatan government had presumed that “no other company would take up the project.”

“The state government should not presume that the current offer is the best deal for the people. It shall be confirmed and affirmed transparently via the open tender exercise,” he stressed.

However, Tan appreciated the free WiFi initiative, saying that “it is timely and vital for the growth of the state and country’s telecommunication industry.”

“Such initiative is crucial in the current information age,” he added.

MACC man watched porn in office, says RCI

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — An anti-graft officer watched pornography in his office after interviewing Teoh Beng Hock, the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) investigating Teoh’s death said today.

RCI chairman Tan Sri James Foong said Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) assistant superintendent Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus had viewed pornography on his computer in the wee hours of July 16, 2009.

“After he interviewed Teoh Beng Hock, he viewed pornography on a website,” said Foong at the inquiry today.

“An important operation is going on (and) an officer is viewing porn even though there’s a government directive forbidding this,” added the sitting Federal Court judge.

Ashraf testified recently that the police had suspected him of killing Teoh.

He has also admitted that nine MACC suspects had accused him of abusing them.

Ashraf has said he and another MACC officer, Arman Alies, had interviewed Teoh from 10.30pm on July 15, 2009 to 12.30am the following day.

Teoh’s body was found hours later on the fifth-floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after the interview at the then-Selangor MACC headquarters on the 14th floor.

The anti-graft officers were investigating a claim that Teoh’s boss, Ean Yong Hian Wah, was abusing state funds.

Ean Yong is a Selangor state executive councillor and Seri Kembangan assemblyman from the DAP.

Ashraf, however, has denied roughing up Teoh.

“Do you know that Ashraf had downloaded pornography at 1.20am on 16th July 2009 when an operation was going on?” asked Foong.

Foong did not reveal how he received such information, but he had recently ordered the seizure of the computers of several MACC officers, who were involved in the investigations on the night of July 15 2009.

But Negeri Sembilan MACC director Hishamuddin Hashim, who was the Selangor MACC deputy director in 2009, said he was not authorised to punish his former subordinate for viewing smut.

“It’s beyond my scope of powers... This is not a question of work,” said Hishamuddin.

“If officers go and steal, it’s not your problem? How can you say that? You must take care of all your officers,” admonished Foong.

“This is a personal matter,” replied Hishamuddin, 46.

“So if they use force, you don’t want to know?” asked Foong.

Foong said Ashraf had been singled out in police identification parades 13 times based on information received by the commission.

Foong also read out a few reports yesterday dated February 2009 and February 2010 that the commission had received, where Ashraf was accused of slapping, punching and kicking people.

Hishamuddin stressed that he needed to know if his officers used force in their interrogations.

“But at that time... I had more important work,” said Hishamuddin.

Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee said, however, that a poison pen letter had accused Hishamuddin of using force during interrogations.

“It is stated that you have a trademark technique when interrogating witnesses,” said Cheow.

“You hold their belt from the front, hold them up and shake them,” he added.

“That’s slander,” said Hishamuddin, who has served the national anti-graft body for 19 years.

“You can call all the witnesses I interviewed,” he added.

Commissioner Datuk T. Selventhiranathan said yesterday there were 59 police reports against the MACC nationwide, of which 21 were against the Selangor branch.

Hishamuddin, who was dressed in a black suit and pale pink shirt, reiterated today that the MACC did not use force in its interrogations.

“It’s a very harmonious, polite atmosphere to get testimonies on what really happened,” said the moustachioed officer.

The senior graftbuster also claimed ignorance of police reports against his officers.

“The complaints were not addressed to me. I don’t know anything,” said Hishamuddin.

When asked if he investigated the complaints against Ashraf, Hishamuddin said: “I just asked in general. I let the police do investigations.”

Hishamuddin said he was holed up in his room in his office until about 5.45 am on July 16, 2009, while his subordinates were questioning Teoh and about four other witnesses.

Cheow asked if the MACC practised interrogation techniques like forcing witnesses to stand in a dark room without moving, blindfolding them, kicking chairs and tables in front of them and playing the good cop, bad cop routine.

The lawyer said one of the witnesses who was interviewed that night, Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah, claimed his interrogators used some of the techniques mentioned.

Hishamuddin denied that the national anti-graft body practised such methods.

“I’ve been an investigation officer the last 17, 16 years. I’ve never heard of such techniques,” said the curly-haired graftbuster.

He also said the MACC had not closed its case against Ean Yong, but classified it as “keep in view”.

“If there are other testimonies, investigations can be continued,” said Hishamuddin.

The inquiry resumes this Saturday with Hishamuddin and Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand on the witness stand.

Muhyiddin says government will not revisit ‘Interlok’

PAGOH, March 31 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today the federal government will not bow to fresh demands from Chinese groups to remove the controversial “Interlok” novel from the school syllabus.

The deputy prime minister said that as far as the government was concerned the issue had been resolved.

He also described groups raising the issue again as irresponsible.

Fresh trouble is brewing over the use of “Interlok” in schools, with Chinese groups yesterday condemning the novel’s depiction of Chinese characters as greedy, opium-smoking lechers keen to exploit Malays for profit.

Having weathered a storm of controversy from the Indian community over the novel’s use of the word “pariah”, the Education Ministry now faces Chinese calls to drop the “racist” book from the Form Five Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.

In a statement yesterday, Chinese associations from across Malaysia said the book was not only offensive to Indians but Chinese as well, as it depicted the character Kim Lock as a “miserly opium addict and callous adulterer” and his son, Cing Huat, as “cunning, greedy, unscrupulous and someone who would happily sell his daughters”.

“‘Interlok’ in its totality propagates the ideology of ketuanan Melayu. In our considered opinion, this novel is not only unhealthy but an insidious poison,” the statement released yesterday said.

But Muhyiddin insisted today that the government would not revisit the matter.

He accused opposition parties of exploiting the issue and being behind yesterday’s statement.

Lawmakers from the Chinese community are split along partisan lines over the call by Chinese associations to drop “Interlok” from schools, with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in support of the demand and Barisan Nasional (BN) against it.

DAP national vice-chairman Tan Kok Wai said he supported Chinese groups clamouring for “Interlok” to be dropped as it was “not suitable” to teach the controversial novel to impressionable young students.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said he did not know why the depiction of the Chinese community in the book was becoming a “big issue” now as it had been highlighted before.

He said the matter should not be blown out of proportion and urged detractors to read the book as a whole and in a rational manner.

DAP for, MCA against dropping ‘Interlok’

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Chinese lawmakers are split along partisan lines over the call by Chinese associations to drop “Interlok” from schools, with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in support of the demand and Barisan Nasional (BN) against it.

DAP national vice chairman Tan Kok Wai said he supported Chinese groups clamouring for “Interlok” to be dropped, as it was “not suitable” to teach the controversial novel to impressionable young students.

“It should be discarded because it will do national unity no good,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The Cheras MP said the book went against the Education Ministry’s stated goal — to help produce the next generation of Malaysian youths who will embody the values of tolerance and racial harmony.

He added that the manner in which “Interlok” tended to promote only one race while sidelining the others would only enhance racial bias rather than help unite multicultural Malaysia.

PKR vice president Chua Tian Chang said while the issue must not be overblown, the Education Ministry should take the book out of circulation and stop its use in class.

He said he had no trouble with books that chose to “depict anyone as anything”, saying literary creativity should be respected, but cautioned that students were not mature enough to read the book critically.

“We shouldn’t ask the author to change anything because that is his right. We should stop the polemic and stop using the book,” he said.

Fresh trouble is brewing over the use of “Interlok” in schools, with Chinese groups today condemning the novel’s depiction of Chinese characters as greedy, opium-smoking lechers keen to exploit Malays for profit.

Having weathered a storm of controversy from the Indian community over the novel’s use of the word “pariah”, the Education Ministry now faces Chinese calls to drop the “racist” book from the Form Five Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.

In a statement yesterday, Chinese associations from across Malaysia said the book was not only offensive to Indians but Chinese as well, as it depicted the character Kim Lock as a “miserly opium addict and callous adulterer” and his son, Cing Huat, as “cunning, greedy, unscrupulous and someone who would happily sell his daughters”.

“‘Interlok’ in its totality propagates the ideology of ketuanan Melayu. In our considered opinion, this novel is not only unhealthy but an insidious poison,” the statement said.

“In fact, ‘Interlok’ is barely a step away from the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) brainwashing that promotes racism and disunity.”

The statement was signed by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysian-China Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Chinese Associations Johor, the Penang Chinese Town Hall and 40 others, including the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) and several Indian organisations.

The associations pointed out, however, that they did not wish for national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussain’s book to be edited — as demanded by Indian groups unhappy with the word “pariah” — but called for the book not be used in schools.

They urged the Education Ministry not to allow “slurs” that hurt the feelings of the various communities to be uttered with impunity and asked that it substitute the book with reading material more suited to the classroom.

MCA, however, yesterday downplayed claims that the book was racist towards the Chinese.

Party Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said he did not know why the depiction of the Chinese community in the book was becoming a “big issue” now as it had been highlighted before.

He said the matter should not be blown out of proportion and urged detractors to read the book as a whole and in a rational manner.

“I think we have to see it from a broader dimension rather than just focus on some words,” he said.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai similarly said it was important to be objective about the book and its historical context.

“We cannot be prejudicial to any races but, as far as we are concerned, it is only literature,” he said, adding that the purpose of “Interlok” was to forge greater national unity.

Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said last week that the Cabinet had asked Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to edit the novel in order to replace terms offensive to Indians but refused to drop the book completely.

Muhyiddin added that his ministry will also provide a glossary to explain the phrases and concepts to students to provide historical context.

Hisham asks Christians to be ‘fair and reasonable’ over Alkitab

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein called today for Christian groups to be “fair and reasonable” in the ongoing Alkitab row after the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) rejected the government’s latest overture which it said failed to address the erosion of religious rights.

“I hope they can come to a solution that is fair and reasonable,” the home minister said when asked about CFM’s rejection of Putrajaya’s offer last week to mask the ministry’s stamp and serial numbering of 35,100 copies of the Malay bibles.

The continued impasse over the seizure of 35,100 Malay-language bibles now looks set to spill over into the Sarawak state election campaign which begins on April 6, where over half of the 1,000,000 voters in the state are Christians.

Hishammuddin (picture) also denied that Christians were unanimously against the government’s stand on the issue as he has been getting “mixed responses, and some say they will collect the bibles.”

CFM, which represents 90 per cent of churches in Malaysia, had rejected the government’s offer laid down last week by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who is in charge of the government’s economic transformation.

Jala, in his statement on March 22, also said that certain Christian donors had also offered to fully replace — free of charge — the two marked cargoes at Port Klang and Kuching, which had been seized and detained by Home Ministry officials.

The CFM did not seem mollified by Jala’s attempts to placate the community, maintaining that the act — which had been carried out quietly and without the Bible importers’ consent — amounted to a desecration of the Christian holy book and an outright show of disrespect, breaching the guarantees of this country’s highest law.

“Our position is that there should be no restrictions, proscriptions or prohibitions whatsoever on the Bible or the use of the language of our choice in the practice of our religion, as it was in the days before and after the formation of Malaysia,” CFM said in a statement yesterday.

It also noted that there has been a “systematic and progressive pushing back” of Christian rights — dating back to the 1980s — namely the right to practise, profess and express their faith.

It pointed to a series of restrictions imposed on Christians, such as the freedom to wear and openly display religious symbols like the cross, the building of churches, and even what words can be used in a Christian religious context.

The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) had yesterday picked up its shipment of 5,000 bibles from Port Klang but insisted that it will be preserved to remind future generations of Malaysian Christians of what it maintains was a deliberate and unjustified government move to deface their holy book.

“Concerning the offer to compensate BSM for the cost of this shipment, BSM wishes to make its stand clear that BSM will only accept a cheque from KDN (the Home Ministry) and will not accept any money from so-called ‘Christian donors’,” it said.

Hishammuddin said that Jala, who is also a Sarawak Christian, and “his Christian friends” were still working to resolve the issue.

Sarawak goes to the polls on April 16, where the opposition hopes to make significant gains on the back of issues such as the Alkitab row.

New Politically Motivated Police Investigation On Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim

Kenyataan Media

Siasatan Polis Bermotif Politik Ke Atas Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim

Pada 30 Mac 2011, pihak polis telah mengemukakan satu notis di bawah Seksyen 111 Kanun Acara Jenayah ke atas Ketua Pembangkang Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Notis tersebut mengarahkan beliau untuk hadir ke Pejabat Polis Daerah Ampang untuk disoalsiasat polis berkaitan ceramah yang beliau sampaikan pada hari Jumaat, 25 Mac 2011 di Pusat Khidmat Rakyat Parlimen Gombak.

Polis,secara salah telah mengacau-ganggu ceramah sebaik saja Dato’ Seri Anwar memulakan ceramah, melakukan tangkapan tidak sah dan mengasari Ahli Parlimen Gombak yang juga Timbalan Presiden KEADILAN, YB Azmin Ali.

Penyiasatan terbaru ke atas Dato’ Seri Anwar ini di bawah Seksyen 4(1) Akta Hasutan 1948 dan Seksyen 27(5) Akta Polis 1967.

Kedua akta zalim dan bercanggah dengan perlembagaan ini, lazimnya digunapakai oleh kerajaan Barisan Nasional untuk menghalang kebebasan bersuara dan berhimpun.

Kami memerhatikan BN secara terus menerus bertindak di luar batas moral dan undang-undang untuk merendahtarafkan ‘rule of law’ dan menjadikan negara ini sebagai negara polis.

Jelas terbukti, BN sedang bersedia untuk menggunakan apa jua kaedah-kaedah yang jelek dan berniat jahat untuk mengukuhkan cengkaman mereka ke atas negara untuk kekal berkuasa. Di dalam sistem demokrasi berparlimen, adalah merupakan satu hak yang sah dalam konteks perlembagaan mengenai peranan Ketua Pembangkang untuk membuat kritikan dan menyediakan peranan ‘semak dan imbang’ ke atas semua tindakan dan dasar kerajaan.

Menyalahguna dan memanipulasi kuasa untuk mensasar,mencabul dan menakuti Ketua Pembangkang lebih bersifat satu bentuk serangan ke atas sistem demokrasi kita.

Penyiasatan terbaru ke atas Dato’ Seri Anwar ini jelas bermotidkan politik, berniat jahat dan satu bentuk penyelewengan kuasa polis yang terang dan jelas.

Kami mendesak agar siasatan tidak berasas ini dihentikan pada kadar segera dan semua yang bertanggungjawab menginstitusikan penyelewengan ini dihadapkan ke muka pengadilan, tanpa mengira setinggi mana kedudukan ataupun kuasa mereka.

Kami juga mendesak agar sebuah Suruhanjaya Diraja ditubuhkan bertujuan untuk menyiasat penyalahgunaan dan penyelewengan Barisan Nasional atas pihak polis dan kuasa pendakwaan dalam menyerang, memalukan, menjatuhkan hukuman dan memenjarakan politisi pembangkang, aktiviti masyarakat, dan
pihak-pihak yang kritis ke atas pemerintah.


Four Women Charged With Corruption And Cheating

SHAH ALAM, March 31 (Bernama) -- Four women volunteers with the Malaysian Customs Department were Thursday charged separately in three Sessions Courts with corruption and cheating allegedly committed five years ago.

Before judge Mat Ghani Abdullah, Norfarisha Samsudin, 32, from Kampung Pandan Dalam, Kuala Lumpur, pleaded not guilty to asking for cash of RM4,000 from Syarikat Megah Stainless Steel Engineering owner, Wong Ying Lin, 31, as inducement not to impose sales tax on Wong.

The accused is alleged to have committed the offence at Megah Stainless Steel Engineering, No 4, Jalan SU, Taman Industri Selayang Utama, Batu Caves, Gombak, about 5pm on Sept 21, 2006.

Mat Ghani allowed Norfarisha bail of RM4,000 in one surety and fixed April 22 for mention of case and June 3 for hearing.

Before judge M.Bakri Abd Majid, Norfarisha, Pa'aiza Baki, 42, from Bandar Tasik Selatan, Kuala Lumpur, and Noor Asmarzillah Abdullah, 32, from Ampang, were jointly charged with accepting for themselves RM4,000 from Wong as inducement for doing the same at the same place, date and time. The three pleaded not guilty to the charge and claimed trial after the charge was read to them by the court interpreter.

M.Bakri allowed them bail of RM3,000 in one surety each and fixed April 22 for mention of the case.

Before judge Asmadi Hussain, Norfarisha and Noor Asmarzillah faced another charge together with Masitah Nasir, 30, from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, of cheating Wong by claiming that the three were Customs officers so that Wong gave them RM1,300 as contribution for advertising in the Customs Marine Officers Association's bulletin.

They are alleged to have committed the offence at Megah Stainless Steel Engineering, at about 11am on Sept 8, 2006.

Asmadi allowed the three bail of RM3,000 in one surety each and set April 22 for mention of case.