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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Islamic-Malay bias in history text books

(Malaysiakini) Historian and writer Ranjit Singh Malhi contended that in his expert opinion, there is an Islamic-Malay centric bias in Malaysian history text books and will not stay silent about it.

"So what, I lose a few million(in book contracts). I will be unpopular. It's all right. Don't sell your soul... Speak the truth and shame the devil," said the historian at a forum organised by the Catholic Teacher's Asociation in Petaling Jaya.

NONEBemoaning the "lopsided" and "biased" crop of local history textbooks, he lamented some historians do not admit that such things occurred in our history text books.

He quoted a local historian whose statement was published in the Malay Mail on Dec 17 last year dismissing bias in the writing of history text books.

As proof of his claim, Ranjit submitted his own research which has shown that references to other religions were reduced significantly while those to Islam have bloated from 17 percent in the previous form four history text book, to 41 percent in the current one.

Proving perhaps that you can read the book by its cover, Ranjit held up successive versions of history textbooks and how significantly they differed from the early ones compared with the current crop.

He argued that previous covers included representations of non-Malays as well as civilisations other then Islam, but noted that in the current versions, only Malay leaders and depictions of Islamic civilisation are included.

NONERanjit (left) who has written numerous history textbooks for the Malaysian education system said that he had stopped doing so being unable stand the shenanigans he had observed in the way history was selectively written.

"History was distorted. It all started in 1996. Prior to that there no value judgements in history text books. But the form four history text books for example are full of value judgements,"he said.
Value judgements mar text books

He was commenting on recent addendums to such text books which he indicated has prescribed morale judgements on historical events biased in favour of one race and one religion in particular.

At the time when Ranjit said that these "distortions" began, current Premier Najib Razak was the education minister, serving from 1995 to 1996 prior to taking on the mantle of defence minister.

Such practices as putting in value judgements in historical texts said Ranjit go against the principles of good history text.

Good history text books, he said, must be;
  • Factually accurate,
  • Generally objective,
  • Well balanced, and,
  • Devoid of value judgements.

However ,he argued that he can prove that history text books nowadays are totally the opposite of such values.

Ranjit listed four faults of our current history textbooks after poring over them word by word. In his expert opinion, the current crop exhibit;
  • Islamic-Malay centric bias,
  • Some half truths,
  • Numerous factual errors and contradictions, and,
  • Politically motivated orientation.

'Historical death'

One 'crime' observed the veteran writer, is the intentional 'killing off' of certain important non-Malay historical figures from the pages of official history.

"I call it historical death, you won't find it in books, because it is a term I invented,"he explained in relation to non-Malays and their contributions to Malaysian history he claimed were edited out.

He listed several key figures, crucial to Malaysian history who have NONEbeen left out of in the modern official re-telling;
  • Yap Ah Loy responsible for building early Kuala Lumpur, well acknowledge by world historians, have been reduced to one sentence in Malaysian historical text books,
  • Gurchan Singh, the 'Lion of Malaya' who published and distributed an underground newspaper during the Japanese occupation, and,
  • Sybil Karthigesu, the nurse who helped treat MPAJA soldiers and did not desist even after the Japanese tortured her.

As for factual errors and half-truths, Ranjit pointed out a few of the more glaring ones, including the omission of the fact that Parameswara was Hindu and died a Hindu and the glossing over and belittling of the contribution of non-Malay troops in the defence, of then Malaya, against the Japanese onslaught.

"This is bulls***t!" he jokingly exclaimed, quickly apologising for swearing in a holy place of worship.

He also pointed out the miraculous appearance of references to Ketuanan Melayu which was not found anywhere in history text books prior to recent events.

The historian also recommended several steps which he believes will help to resolve the matter;
  • A review of all history text books to ensure factual accuracy, consistency, objectivity and a balanced account,
  • History text writers must have content mastery, good track record and are meticulous,
  • History text books must be devoid of value judgements,
  • Emphasis on critical thinking and learning as opposed to rote learning and memorisation, and,
  • More involving and inclusive history lessons as opposed to traditional lectures.

However, Ranjit clarified that he has no problem with the Malays or Islam in general, but his problem lies with the lopsided depiction of history alone.

The forum about the biased depiction of history in school text books was held at the Assumption Church in Petaling Jaya and was well attended by NGO representatives, parishioners and members of the media.

It also featured a commentary on the same issue by SUN editor Terence Fernendez and was moderated by Father Micheal Chua.

Minister said 'former Estate workers', affidavit state squatters

Pro-democracy protests sweep Syria, 22 killed

Main Image(Reuters) - Protests erupted across Syria against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad on Friday and sources said 22 people were killed in the southern city of Deraa, the cradle of the unrest.

In the east, thousands of ethnic Kurds demonstrated for reform despite the president's offer this week to ease rules which bar many Kurds from citizenship, activists said.

Protests swept the country of 20 million people, from the Mediterranean port of Latakia to Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, as demonstrations entered a fourth week in defiance of Assad's security crackdown and growing list of reform pledges.

"Freedom, freedom, we want freedom," thousands of protesters chanted in many Syrian cities. Some shouted: "We sacrifice our blood and soul for you, Deraa."

Residents said security forces used water cannon and smoke bombs to break up 2,000 protesters in Hama, where thousands of people were killed in 1982 when Assad's father Hafez al-Assad crushed an armed uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Deraa, where demonstrations first broke out in March, residents said security forces fired on thousands of protesters, who set fire to a building belonging to the ruling Baath Party and smashed a statue of the president's brother, Basil.
Main Image
A volunteer at Deraa hospital and an activist said 22 people were killed and 120 wounded. It took the death toll in three weeks of protests to more than 90.

State television said armed groups killed 19 policemen and wounded 75 in Deraa.

Authorities have blamed armed groups for the violence and state television broadcast footage on Friday of plain clothed gunmen it said fired at security forces and civilians alike.

Syria has prevented other news media from reporting from Deraa.

"I saw pools of blood and three bodies in the street being picked up by relatives," a Deraa resident told Reuters by phone.

"There were snipers on roofs. Gunfire was heavy. The injured are being taken to homes. No one trusts putting his relative in a hospital in these circumstances," he added. Many protesters feared they would be arrested if taken to clinics.


Another resident who gave his name as Abu Salem said many bodies were lying on the streets of Deraa.

"But no one can reach them because the area is surrounded," he said, suggesting that death toll could be higher than first believed.

Hisham to sue Anwar over sex video claims

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein will sue Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over allegations that he was behind the sex tape allegedly featuring the opposition leader if Anwar does not retract his statement before the weekend is up.

Hishammuddin’s move comes as no surprise as the home minister had already stated on March 23 that he was considering legal action against Anwar.

The Malaysian Insider understands that a letter of demand was delivered to Anwar’s home in Segambut on Thursday.

“The letter states that Anwar is given 48 hours to retract and other demands before legal proceedings (are) initiated,” a senior PKR leader told The Malaysian Insider.

The PKR leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hishammuddin, in the letter of demand, wanted Anwar to retract statements made against the home minister on March 22 at the Dang Wangi police station.

“Basically, Hishammuddin is alleging that the statements made against him by Anwar are defamatory in nature,” said the PKR source.

Two weeks ago, a mysterious “Datuk T” had screened a video purportedly showing Anwar having sex with an unidentified woman.

Former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, businessman Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and Perkasa treasurer-general Datuk Shuib Lazim then claimed responsibility for the video, saying they screened the video to show “a man who wants to be prime minister is not qualified.”

Anwar had on March 22 instead trained his guns on Hishammuddin and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, accusing them of being involved with the screening of the video to press members.

But both the PM and the home minister denied any involvement by the police and Home Ministry over the emergence of the sex video.

“The letter was only delivered to his residence, it was not served on him personally,” stressed the PKR leader.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Anwar is engaging veteran lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah to assist him in the matter while Hishammuddin has engaged Tan Sri Cecil Abraham from the firm Zulrafique and Co to represent him.

The letter of demand was sent via Zulrafique and Co.

A 107-second snippet surfaced on the Internet on Sunday, just two days after police said the video was not doctored.

It made public part of the video that was only screened to select individuals and reporters prior to this but the clip has since been taken down from YouTube for violating the video site’s policy on nudity and sexual content.

PKR has claimed that the clip proved the man in the video was not its de facto leader and repeated its demand that the trio be arrested for pornography.

DAP lawmaker and veteran lawyer Karpal Singh said recently that the “Datuk T” trio could be charged under section 292 of the Penal Code and section 5 of the Film Censorship Act for allegedly distributing obscene material as well as criminal defamation and criminal intimidation.

Search your soul, Pakatan told

Indian leaders tell the opposition alliance why it is losing the community’s support.

GEORGE TOWN: Indian community leaders in and outside Pakatan Rakyat have called on the opposition coalition to do some soul-searching over its loss of Indian support.

They say Pakatan must question the sincerity of its leaders and the competence of its state administrations in addressing Indian concerns.

Hindraf Makkal Sakti adviser N Ganesan warned that Pakatan would not be able to woo back Indian votes if it continued with what he called “shadow-play” politics, occasionally using officials with “Indian-sounding names” to hand out “peanut funds” for Indian NGOs and Hindu temples.

He said Pakatan had failed to capitalise on its control of several state governments, pushing the Indian working class back to BN “because they prefer the familiar devil to a friend they don’t know”.

A DAP leader in Penang said it was time for Pakatan to carry out “pro-active initiatives” that would bring “real benefits” to the Indian community.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said last weekend’s meeting of the Pakatan Indian leadership was a good start but must be followed up with dialogue sessions involving the coalition’s Indian members and NGO representatives.

The meeting was held in Penang and attended by Pakatan leaders from states with high Indian populations. It was chaired by P Ramasamy, one of Penang’s deputy chief ministers.

He said Pakatan should not wait too long to hold the follow-up sessions in light of speculation about the imminence of the next general election. Pakatan states should use the findings as bases for policies benefitting the Indians, he added.

Another DAP man lamented the Pakatan governments’ failure to form state-level caucuses immediately after the last general election to address Indian-related issues.

G Asoghan, chairman of DAP’s Jalan Bagan Luar branch here, said Indians abandoned BN to vote for Pakatan in the last general election because they thought the opposition parties could resolve long-standing issues affecting their community.

“They are now disappointed that Pakatan governments have failed to carry out any noteworthy policy to help the predominantly poor Indian working class, even in Penang, where there is a deputy chief minister of Indian origin.”

Bad governance

He rebuked Pakatan governments for focusing on building support among Malays and Chinese while neglecting the Indians.

“This is not good governance,” he said.

He belittled last weekend’s meeting, saying that the exclusion of some elected representatives showed a lack of seriousness in addressing Indian concerns.

Absent from the meeting were state assemblymen M Manoharan of Kota Shah Alam, S Sivasubramaniam of Buntong and V Sivakumar of Tronoh. Sivakumar was the Speaker of the Perak State Assembly when Pakatan controlled the state.

Asoghan also spoke of rumours about misappropriation of funds collected by DAP in a 2008 campaign to help Sri Lankan Tamils.

According to one of the rumours, part of the money has been deposited into the account of a London-based Sri Lankan who is under suspicion of funding terrorism.

He said he would write to DAP headquarters for clarification. “Party members have the right to know the status of the fund now.”

Ganesan said the governments of Penang, Kedah and Selangor had committed the same wrongdoings that their BN predecessors were guilty of.

He pointed to the demolition of Kampung Buah Pala in Penang, the destruction of a Hindu burial ground in Kuala Ketil, Kedah, and the closing down of a temple in Bukit Gasing, Selangor.

Four Malaysian homosexuals seek asylum in the UK

Four Malaysian men have sought refuge in the UK due to fear of persecution under the Malaysian Penal Code.

PETALING JAYA: Four Malaysian homosexuals claimed asylum in the United Kingdom (UK) out of fear of being persecuted in their home country due to their sexual orientation.

In a statement, Dotcom Solicitors said that the four individuals, who applied for asylum between December 2010 and February 2011, were initially detained at the Harmondsworth Detention Centre (HDC) but their cases were dealt swiftly.

“In Malaysia, homosexuals are punishable under Section 377 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonement, a fine and whipping,” lawyer R Uma Devi said in a statement issued by Dotcom Solicitors.

One of the four, known only as CFK, was granted refugee status immediately by the UK Home Office after he was detained and interviewed for overstaying for 12 years.

“Another Malaysian homosexual, Huon Neon Hook, became the first Malaysian homosexual male to have his case appealed successfully at the Immigration Tribunal, granting him refugee status.

“Huon claimed asylum in December 2010 after first arriving in the UK in 2006. He stayed as a student till May 2009 and overstayed since then.

“Initially, Huon was arrested for a drug-related offence and was detained at HDV pending removal,” Uma Devi said.

Another appellant, only identified as WTM, was also successful in his appeal against the Home Office in the same case.

“WTM arrived in the UK in 2002 and was removed from the UK in October 2003 for overstaying. However, he returned with a holiday working visa till September 2009 and was granted asylum after a successful appeal,” Uma Devi said.

However, the appeal of the fourth appellant, only known as LHJ, was rejected and his case is currently pending at the Court of Appeal.

“The Court of Appeal will decide on the fairness of the Malaysian Penal Code in light of the UN Convention on Human Rights 1951 for LHJ’s case.

“If the decision is in favour of him, UK may turn to be a hub for Malaysian homosexuals to seek asylum,” she said.

Life savings gone into sinking homes

Residents of a village are crying foul because the houses they built on a former dumpsite are tilting dangerously.

(Free Malaysia Today) IPOH: Ten families who used their life savings to build their dream homes 15 years ago are now having sleepless nights – their houses are slowing sinking.

Life for these families from Kampung Tersusun Buntong Tiga Tambahan has become a daily nightmare since then.

The distraught residents feel they have been short-changed by the state government into building their houses on a former dumpsite.

The families are former squatters who have been relocated from various squatter areas by the state government to this village which has about 500 houses.

The affected families had invested between RM50,000 and RM80,000 each from their life savings including the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to build their houses on the land given by the state government.

But to their horror, the families found out that the houses were built on an unstable dumpsite. With the passage of years, their houses began to tilt.

One of the affected residents, E Sutharam, 70, a schoolbus driver, told reporters today that he had withdrawn RM75,000 from his EPF to build his house in 1997. But after two years, he saw cracks appearing on the walls.

Over the years, the foundation of his house started to sink and now his house has tilted to one side.

Fearing for the safety of his family, Sutharam moved out, saying that his house may collapse at any time.

He is also worried that he might lose his job because of his age and wonders how he is going to pay the monthly RM450 for his rented house.

Gas-like odour

Another victim, A Sellahma, 70, took out all her family savings of RM50,000 for her house in 1994.

According to her, the house is now tilting and the back portion has sunk. But she said she does not want to move out to her children’s place because she has invested all her savings in the house.

Residents have also detected gas-like odour emitting from the ground and claimed it is flammable.

Another resident K Subramaniam, 70, also a schoolbus driver, had invested RM80,000 into his now sinking house and feels the state government has short-changed the residents.

All the 10 families had approached the state government in 2003 just before the general election. They also sought the help of former state MIC chief G Rajoo who allegedly promised them alternative houses or government quarters.

But until today, the state government has yet to fulfil its promise of repairing the damaged houses or providing alternative housing.

Meanwhile, DAP Buntong assemblyman A Sivasubramaniam said he highlighted the plight of the residents at the Perak State Legislative Assembly sitting on Aug ,3 last year.

But he claimed the state government was evasive in its reply.

He also alleged that the state government had made election promises in 2004 and 2008 of providing relief to the residents but they were not fulfilled

He added that he would raise the issue again at the next assembly sitting on April 12.

He also suggested that the government could relocate the residents to 27 unoccupied houses in Taman Buntong Ria.

Sarawak 2011 - Vote for Change

Deepak vs. RPK: Round 5

This was P.I. Balasubramaniam’s statement, which was recorded by his lawyer, Americk Sidhu, and handed over to the Malaysian authorities. This statement contradicts what Deepak Jaikishan said in his recent press conference. And it took Deepak a long time to rebut what Bala alleged a couple of years ago.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
What happened on the journey from Cheras to Rawang?
ASP Suresh received some calls on his handphone from persons I subsequently discovered were Dinesh and Deepak. They apparently wanted ASP Suresh to arrange a meeting with me. At first ASP Suresh did not agree to any meeting but finally agreed to meet in a Bak Kut Teh shop in Rawang.
Did you go straight to the Bak Kut Teh shop?
No, we first went to the Kuala Garing area to burn some cables and wires. After that we went to the Bak Kut Teh shop where both Deepak and Dinesh were waiting for us.
What did you discuss?
Deepak started talking to me to try and persuade me to withdraw my 1st statutory declaration. He mentioned to me that there was a red car outside my house in Rawang with military intelligence personnel in it, and that they knew my wife and children were at home.
What was your reaction to this piece of information?
I was very concerned about this as my wife had called me on my handphone while I was on my way to Rawang with ASP Suresh to inform me that there was a suspicious looking red car parked opposite our house and that the persons inside appeared to be watching the house. She had been informed of the presence of this car by a neighbor. I told her to lock the gates and to remain inside.
What else did Deepak say?
He talked to me about the virtues of the present government and what a wonderful woman Rosmah was. He told me he was very good friends with Rosmah and how she visited his shop all the time . He then offered to pay me RM4 million to withdraw my 1st Statutory declaration. I was rather stunned but before I could say anything, ASP Suresh signaled me to refuse this offer. I said I was not interested in money and so Deepak said he could also organize the release of 5 Hindraf leaders in Kamunting, he could arrange for 528 Tamil schools to become fully aided schools by the government, that he could get ASP Suresh’s job back and also give him RM4 million as well. He wanted to take me to Putra Jaya and kept persisting but I refused to go.
What happened next?
ASP Suresh asked Deepak to raise the offer to 5 million and he agreed straight away. He also told me he was willing to organize a monthly payment of RM20,000.00 and that if there was anything else I wanted to put this in writing. He then made a few phone calls on his handphone and then told ASP Suresh to drive me to The Curve near One Damansara Utama.
Were you negotiating with Deepak?
No, I did not say anything. ASP Suresh was doing all the talking and negotiating. I was more concerned with the safety of my family as I did not know what was going to happen to them.
What happened next?
Deepak left by himself leaving his brother Dinesh with us. After about half an hour we all left in ASP Suresh’s car. Dinesh was seated in the front passenger seat and I sat in the rear seat. We reached The Curve about half an hour later. The time now was 11.45 pm.
Why were you going to The Curve?
ASP Suresh told me we were going to meet a VIP there. When we reached the curve I suggested we go to the MacDonald’s restaurant but ASP Suresh said that was not a good idea because there were CCTV cameras there. We then proceeded to the Volkswagen showroom where a Malay gentleman arrived with his pregnant wife and Deepak.
Who was this Malay gentleman?
I did not recognize him. I was just told he was a VIP Datuk. I did however recognize his wife. 
Did you speak to this Malay Datuk?
Yes, I was introduced to him by Deepak. I was very surprised when I realized who he was.
What did this Malay Datuk talk to you about?
He told me he knew I had a family and asked me whether I loved them. I replied saying of course I loved my family. He then told me I should take good care of them as anything could happen to them. He then told me that if I wanted to avoid any problems with my family I should just follow Deepak’s instructions and everything would be OK. He told me I had to retract the contents of my 1st statutory declaration.This Malay Datuk then left immediately with his wife.
What happened next?
Deepak gave instructions to Dinesh to book a room at the Hilton Hotel KL Sentral. I left with ASP Suresh to my house in Rawang to see my wife and explain to her what was happening. I was concerned for the safety of my family. Deepak had informed me he wanted me to retract my 1st statutory declaration and then to immediately leave the country with my family. I was in a state of shock as to what was happening. I had anticipated that I would be arrested and interrogated after releasing my 1st statutory declaration but I did not anticipate my family would be threatened so I was not prepared for this. As this VIP Datuk was also involved, I realized the situation was very serious.
What time did you arrive home after leaving The Curve?
ASP Suresh and I arrived at my house at about 2.00 am that morning. I explained everything to my wife and told her we had to pack up and leave Malaysia that very day, as I had been instructed. I also told her to get ready to go to the immigration department that morning to apply for my children’s passports and to renew hers. I had arranged with a friend of mine called Christopher to pick them all up at 8.30 am and to drive them to the Pusat Damansara immigration department that morning with all their luggage.
Where did you go next?
ASP Suresh then drove me to the site at which he was burning wires where he organized his workers to do the loading onto some 3 ton trucks. We then left for the Hilton Hotel in KL Sentral.
What time did you arrive at the Hilton Hotel?
We reached the Hotel about 3.00 am. ASP Suresh called Dinesh to find out the room number. Both Deepak and Dinesh met us in the lobby and we all went up to the room. I had been told earlier that my family and I would be sent to Hong Kong. I said I was not happy about being sent to Hong Kong and I would prefer to go to Chennai. Deepak agreed to this. He then tried to arrange a private jet for us. This had to be cancelled when it was realized we would have to go through immigration at the airport. Deepak then suggested we go through Singapore by road, then fly to Bangkok en route to Chennai. I agreed. They continued talking to me about the seriousness of my 1st statutory declaration and that I would have to retract it otherwise they could not guarantee anything if the deal failed. Eventually Dinesh left for home to take a nap.
What else did you discuss while in the hotel room?
Deepak was telling me how he had become very good friends with Rosmah from the time she used to visit his shop in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. He wouldn’t let me sleep as he was talking all the time.
Did anything else happen that morning?
Dinesh returned to the hotel looking refreshed. At about 7.45 am someone delivered a draft copy of the 2nd statutory declaration to the hotel. Deepak went down to the lobby to collect it  after receiving a call on his hand phone. Sometime later a Commissioner for Oaths arrived. He was a Malay man. I was asked to sign this statutory declaration in front of this commissioner for oaths and he attested my signature. He asked me if I knew where his office was and I said I did not. He then told Deepak to make sure he showed me where his office was on the way to the Prince Hotel. I was never given an opportunity of reading the contents of this statutory declaration.
Did you know at this stage that you would be taken to the Prince Hotel?
Yes. Deepak had informed me that he would be organizing a press conference at the Prince Hotel later that morning and that he would make sure a lawyer represented me. He told me not to worry and that I would not have to say anything, just leave it up to the lawyer to talk to the press.
What time did you leave the Hilton Hotel?
About 8.45 am.  Deepak, Dinesh and I left together. I went with Dinesh in his BMW while Deepak went on his own. Dinesh  did not show me where the Commissioner for Oaths office was.
What time did you reach the Prince Hotel?
We arrived at the Prince Hotel at about 9.15 am and drove up the ramp to the car park where we waited for further instructions from Deepak who was apparently downstairs by that time. Eventually Dinesh received a call on his hand phone and he escorted me to a lift which took us down to what looked like a type of lobby on an upper level.
Did you meet anyone in this lobby area?
Yes. Deepak was waiting in this lobby with another Indian man. This Indian man was introduced to me as one Mr. Arunampalam, a lawyer. This lawyer spoke to me and told me to just keep quiet in the press conference arranged for us in the main lobby. He told me not to talk to any of the reporters under any circumstances and that he would do all the talking. Deepak then told Arunampalam to answer not more than 3 questions from the reporters waiting downstairs and handed him a few copies of the 2nd statutory declaration to distribute to the reporters.
What happened next?
At about 10.00 am Mr. Arunampalam and myself took the lift down to the main lobby where we met about 4 or 5 reporters. Mr. Arunampalam talked to them and gave each of them a copy of the 2nd statutory declaration. He told the reporters that I had been forced to sign the 1st statutory declaration under duress and that I now wanted to retract the contents. He would not answer any of the questions the reporters asked him.
Where were Deepak and Dinesh during the press conference?
I think they left the hotel as they did not join us in the press conference.
What happened after the press conference?
Mr. Arunampalam then drove me back to the Hilton hotel in his own car. He dropped me off at the lower lobby and I never saw him again.
Did you at any time engage Mr. Arunampalam as your lawyer to appear in the press conference?
No. I have never met this lawyer before. Deepak was the one who arranged for him to represent me at the press conference. I never told him what to say. All this was arranged by Deepak and not myself.
What did you do once you had been dropped off at the Hilton Hotel?
I went back to the room and knocked on the door. Deepak and ASP Suresh were there. I waited in the room while Deepak was making phone calls to a Ms. Wong who I think was his secretary. She was apparently with my wife and children at the Pusat Damansara immigration centre helping my wife with the passport applications and renewal.
During this period Deepak gave me RM20,000.00 in Hong Kong dollars for my expenditure. He told me he had arranged a tourist van to drive me and my family to Singapore where we were to catch a flight to Bangkok.
What time did you leave the Hilton Hotel?
At about 1.00 pm Deepak received a phone call from Ms. Wong informing him the passports had all been done and so I left the Hilton Hotel in the van with a Malay driver. This van then drove me to the Pusat Damansara immigration centre. The driver was talking to Ms. Wong during the journey and was receiving instructions where to meet my wife and children. When we arrived at the Pusat Damansara immigration centre, I met my wife and children and we loaded all the luggage into the van and proceeded on our journey to Singapore.
What happened when you arrived in Singapore?
The driver stopped at the Malaysian immigration at the causeway and we all had to get out of the van to present our passports at the counter. None of our passports were stamped. We then proceeded across the causeway to Singapore immigration who did stamp our passports. After clearing immigration, we were driven straight to Changi Airport.
What happened at Changi Airport?
I changed some money to get Singapore coins so I could call Deepak to find out about our flight to Bangkok. Deepak told me our tickets were waiting for us at the Swiss Air counter. I proceeded to this ticket counter and collected our tickets. We all caught the evening flight to Bangkok which left Singapore at about 8.00 pm.

NGOs want inquiry into Customs man's death

The Sun
by Alyaa Alhadjri

KUALA LUMPUR (April 7, 2011): Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have called for an independent and speedy inquiry into the death of Selangor Customs Department assistant director Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed.

Its president, Datuk Paul Low, said the inquiry should also cover Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's (MACC) current operating procedures, processes and guidelines in the investigation of corruption cases.

"Any person in MACC's care, be they a witness, suspect or visitor, must be accorded fundamental protection at all times.

"We also urge the immmediate implementation of recomendations and proposal from the MACC complaints committee such as interrogation rooms placed at the lobby or the basement area to prevent untoward incidents and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in interrogation and waiting rooms," he said in a statement today, according to Bernama.

Nevertheless, Low said, such an incident should not undermine MACC's ongoing investigations, following recent raids and arrests involving customs officers.

He said the commission should also not fear acting against any "big fish" linked to corrupt practices.

In a a joint statement issued today, 73 NGOs called for an immediate establishment of a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the incident, with half of its members nominated by civil society organisations.

It also called for the immediate suspension of MACC investigations director Datuk Mustafar Ali and all officers involved in investigating Ahmad Sarbani's case, pending completion of the RCI.

"We are saddened that the very institutions of the state that are supposed to protect and advance the public's interest have apparently abandoned the principles of democratic governance.

"Not only have human freedom and dignity been degraded, lives have also been unnecessarily lost," the NGOs said in the statement.

At a press conference at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese assembly hall (KLSCAH), its civil rights committee chairman Liau Kok Fah recalled the death of former DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock who was found dead on the fifth floor of Selangor MACC office at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam in July 2009.

"Will Ahmad Sarbani be the last? I sincerely hope that it will be the last time that we come together in making this demand for action to be taken by the government," said Liau.

Suaram president Kua Kia Soong reiterated calls which have been made since 2003 following findings of an RCI that recommended the formation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

He said there has been a clear lack of political will in implementing necessary changes, among others, installing recording devices in places where interrogations are conducted.

Human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen stressed the importance for witnesses to engage legal representation, or inform their family about their whereabouts before going in to give any statements.

Also present were All Women's Action Society (Awam) deputy president Ho Yock Lin, human rights communication centre KOMAS co-founder Tan Jo Hann and Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia core group member A Jayanath. 

Time running out, Cheong family cries for help

The Sun
by Alyaa Alhadjri

KUALA LUMPUR (April 8, 2011): There is not much time left for 27-year-old Cheong Chun Yin who was sentenced to death by Singaporean authorities in February last year for drug trafficking, claims his distraught family members.

Cheong has exhausted all his appeals and is now awaiting the final verdict, following submission of a "Petition for Clemency" to the Singapore President S.R Nathan on Jan 31, they told a press conference held at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) today.

The outcome of his application is expected to be known by the end of this month.

The family, together with Amnesty International executive director Nora Morat, highlighted Cheong's plight and enlisted support to save Cheong.

Cheong, and another Malaysian, 54-year-old  Pang Siew Fum were reportedly arrested by the city-state’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers on June 16, 2008 after they were found to be trafficking a total of 7.7kg of diamorphine.

Cheong had claimed that he was told to carry the bags containing the drugs and passed them to Pang, thinking they contained gold bars.

A strong advocate for abolishing the death sentence, Nora said: "As a developed nation, the death penalty have to stop. It has no place in any parts of the legal system."

She added that it also very important give "human faces" to the death penalty in order to highlight stories of people who might have been victims of unfortunate circumstances.

Based on the Amnesty International's Death Sentences and Executions report 2010, Nora said there were 114 death sentences handed down in Malaysia last year, mostly for drug related offences, but only one was carried out.

Another supporter of the call to abolish the death sentence was Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne who said: "The death penalty have not proven to be an effective deterrent. Instead, more people are falling victims to professional drug barons who use them as mules."

Emotions were running high as Cheong's parents, Cheong Kah Pin and Lim Mooi Hoh were seen wiping away tears as they recounted their son's plight.

They had come from Johor Baru, accompanied by Cheong's two sisters, Jesleen Cheong and Joanne Cheong.

Also present was lawyer and KLSCAH civil rights committee vice-chairman Ngeow Chow Ying.

Deepavali Public Holiday, Subramaniam To Discuss With Sarawak Government

KUCHING, April 9 (Bernama) -- Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said he will discuss with the Sarawak state government on the possibility of making the Deepavali celebration a public holiday.

"I will take it up with the state government. It's a national holiday but the state government here must accept it.

"The previous argument was that there are to many national holidays (in the state). That's the issue...we will look at how we can resolve it," he told reporters after meeting members of the Sarawak Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Sri Maha Kaliamman Temple, here Friday night.

Deepavali is not a federal public holiday in Sarawak.

Subramaniam, who is the sole representative of the Indian community in the Cabinet, said the government was making continuous efforts to uplift the living standard of Indians in the country.

"These include the economy, education, job opportunities in the government, skills training and scholarships. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the Indian community has seen a big change concerning their wellbeing.

"Every citizen has a fair chance to progress. Opportunities are increased from time to time. Three temples in Kuching were given assistance during my visit this time and we will be discussing with the federal and state governments to provide additional allocations," he said.

He said from his observation, the vast majority of Indians in Sarawak were strong supporters of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and believed that they would continue their support in the April 16 Sarawak state election.

"I don't think there are other directions, they are with us," he said.

There are 1,805 Indian registered voters throughout Sarawak. Kuching has 1,008 voters with most of them in Batu Lintang.

Law minister gets law completely wrong.

By Nathaniel Tan,

I’ve written something about Sarbani, will see where/when it will get published.

For now, something of interest I just read on TMI:

The lawyers insisted that prostitution is not illegal in Malaysia though soliciting for sex is, saying that the de facto law minister would be challenged to prove his case even following the standard criminal procedures.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee denounced Nazri’s remark as off-the-mark and said the Bar is against the establishment of an RCI just for the sex video clip incident.

“If there was a criminal offence, then it should be investigated as such,” he told The Malaysian Insider in a response to the minister’s statement yesterday.

“Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia. If you participate, or you are aiding and abetting in prostitution, if you patronise prostitutes for sex, this is a crime.

“The RCI would be to determine the identity of the man in the video and of the woman he was having sex with, whether she was a prostitute,” Nazri had told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Anwar has denied he is the man in the grainy 21-minute black-and-white video clip, first shown on March 21 to selected journalists.

Lim said prostitution in itself is not a criminal offence.
Lim pointed out that there are clear provisions relating to prostitution.

“Prostitution in itself is not a criminal offence,” he stressed, though he acknowledged there were certain provisions in the law to prosecute those who offer sex in exchange for money.

He pointed to section 372A of the Penal Code which provides for action against persons living on or trading in prostitution.

“Whoever knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of the prostitution of another person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fifteen years and with whipping, and shall also be liable to a fine,” Lim said, citing the law.

He said the law had even defined that only a person who “is proved to have exercised control, direction or influence over the movements of a prostitute in such a manner as to show that that person is aiding, abetting or compelling the prostitution of the prostitute with any other person” can be charged.

A number of interesting things. It appears it is not illegal for a woman to accept money for her services (although it is illegal to solicit – ie, to offer to sell her services), but it is illegal for someone else to profit from such a sale. Basically, sounds like there’s legal space for a prostitute to operate but not for a pimp. This would probably be considered surprisingly progressive.

Of course, I’m sure there are many who would disagree. We shall see if these state of affairs survive.

In any case, more to the point, our Minister for legal affairs seems to be ignorant of the law. I’m glad he was called out by Lim Chee Wee, who seems to be vigorously carrying on the tradition of a vocal Bar Council which grounds its positions on solid foundations (I confess, I didn’t realise he had taken over as President – thanks Ragunath for all your great work!).

It is distressing to see Nazri completely misquote the law; he has in the past demonstrated a modicum of intelligence, although if ministers like him has had as much brains as bravado, perhaps we wouldn’t be in such a sad state of affairs.

While I’m not saying that the video isn’t of interest to the public and will probably continue to be an issue in Malaysian politics for a while at least (whether we like it or not, and I know many have expressed just how much they don’t), I concur w/the rest of the views in the TMI article.

This issue does not seem to merit the same level of inquiry as say the VK Lingam video or Teoh Beng Hock’s death. Altantuya and the cops her apparently murdered her with no discernible motive did not get an RCI either.

In any case, RCI or not, I think my thoughts are mostly on Sarawak and Sarbani. Just felt like writing about our rather silly law minister.

Deaths reported amid clashes in Syrian city

(CNN) -- Security forces fired on protesters in a show of force after Friday prayers in Daraa, leaving at least 22 unarmed civilians dead, a doctor told CNN.

But the government had a different account, saying 19 security force members were killed in the violence.

A tense calm settled on the restive southern city as evening approached, but it seethed over the bloodshed and conflict.

The doctor said more than 40 people were injured, and of the dead, five had been returned to their families for burial. Dozens of people complained of breathing problems from tear gas.

Wissam Tarif, a human rights activist outside Damascus who had received reports about the unfolding violence, said security forces also were arresting protesters.

Daraa was one of several cities where protesters took to the streets Friday, and Amnesty International said unarmed people calling "for greater freedoms were reportedly attacked by security forces firing live ammunition."

"The alarming reports coming from Syria today show that the authorities have not altered their violent methods for dealing with dissent," said Philip Luther, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

"The Syrian government needs to take urgent action to rein in its security forces and prevent the loss of further lives," he said.

Security forces kept doctors from getting to the city's main hospital to tend to the wounded, witnesses said. Gunfire could be heard in the background as the witness spoke to CNN.

According to state TV's report, 19 members of the Syrian security forces and 75 were wounded after "armed groups" opened fire on citizens and security forces in Daraa.

The gunmen also fired on an ambulance while it was transporting the injured to a hospital, killing the driver of the vehicle, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported. It said that state television broadcast images of the gunmen firing into crowds in Daraa.

CNN could not independently confirm the accounts.

The violence began after thousands of people poured out of mosques around the city and headed for the main square in Daraa, according to the doctor tending to the wounded.

The protesters were chanting for greater political freedom and the release of political prisoners, according to a human rights activist in Daraa who agreed to be identified only by his first name, Mohamad.

Security forces surrounding the square fired on protesters before they reached the square, the doctor said.

Protests and violence were also reported Friday in Nawa Province, Al Hirak, Inkhel, Jasem City, Al Sanameen and other towns, according to Mohamad.

Anti-government protests began in mid-March, with unrest first centering in the Daraa region and spreading to other parts of the country, such as western coastal city of Latakia, the Damascus suburb of Douma, and Qamishli in the northeastern Kurdish region.

Scores of people have died, and President Bashar al-Assad's regime has been criticized for the lethal force used against anti-government protesters.

Amnesty International said on Friday that at least 171 people are believed to have been killed during the last three weeks of protest, counting at least six in Daraa and two in Homs, in the west, on Friday.

"Since the first protesters died (in Daraa) on 18 March, Amnesty International has recorded the names, via information received from sources including human rights activists and lawyers, of 171 people killed," it said. "The majority appear to have been killed by live ammunition fired by the security forces."

Syria state TV said armed gunmen injured six people in Homs.

Union wants Najib to explain Sarbani’s death, clear Customs’ name

Customs officers praying outside the autopsy room of the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia where Sarbani’s body had been taken on April 6, 2011. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — The main Customs officers union decided today to seek an explanation from Datuk Seri Najib Razak and clear the department’s name after the fatal death plunge of a senior officer being investigated for suspected corruption over billions of ringgit of unpaid tax.

The Peninsular Malaysia Customs Union also wants the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to explain Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s death at its Federal Territory office in Jalan Cochrane here on Wednesday and clear his name as a suicide case.

“We hope that Sarbani’s name will be cleared from the word suicide,” union president Ibrahim Ahmad told reporters here after a two-hour meeting with Cuepacs, the umbrella organisation for civil servants.

The prime minister promised yesterday a transparent and professional investigation into Sarbani’s death but said the circumstances were different from a similar death plunge involving Teoh Beng Hock as the Customs officer was not being questioned on Wednesday unlike the DAP political aide.

Ibrahim speaks to the press after the meeting with Cuepacs today, April 8, 2011. — Picture by Jack Ooi
Incidentally, the Royal Malaysian Customs is under the purview of the Finance Ministry which is headed by Najib.

“We want to meet with the prime minister for an explanation and clear the Customs’ name.

“We also want to meet the MACC chief and ask for his explanation and what MACC plans to do next,” Ibrahim said.

He also warned MACC to be more professional during its interrogations and not cause any physical harm.
Ibrahim also said that it was unfair for MACC to target Customs officials in its bid to recoup a whopping RM108 billion in reported revenue loss to the country annually.

“We have consistently submitted our revenue report and every year we earn about RM28 billion so it is illogical for us to be responsible for the RM108 billion,” he said, referring to last week’s raid that led to the arrest of 62 officers, including Sarbani.

The MACC raided over 100 premises including 25 Customs offices in a nationwide dragnet for alleged tax evasion, money laundering and illegal funds outflows worth billions of ringgit.

The Selangor Customs assistant director was found dead on the ground outside the MACC’s office in Jalan Cochrane at about 10.20am on Wednesday, where he is believed to have fallen out of the building’s third-floor window.

Sarbani’s death comes as a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) is investigating MACC operational procedures and the death of Teoh on July 16, 2009 after a coroner’s inquest returned an open verdict of neither suicide nor homicide.

The aide to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah was a witness whose body was found sprawled on the fifth-floor corridor of the anti-graft body’s Selangor headquarters following overnight questioning there.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah also confirmed that Sarbani suffered injuries that were consistent with a fall from height but refused to say if the 56-year-old father had suffered any other injuries.

Nazri slams Gerakan’s ‘Punjabi boy’

Baljit Singh comes under fire from the minister over his call for Najib and his Cabinet to prove their moral standards.

KUALA LUMPUR: Gerakan leader Baljit Singh has drawn flak for calling on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his Cabinet to take individual religious vows to prove that they are of impeccable moral standing.

Rubbishing the call, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said Barisan Nasional leaders were not speaking from a moral high ground.

“Tell this Punjabi boy, where is he coming from? Is he from BN or is he from the opposition?” he told FMT yesterday.

On Wednesday, Baljit, who heads Penang Gerakan’s legal and human rights bureau, said BN leaders must take the vow to prove that they were better than Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The vocal BN leader was responding to the latest sex video scandal which implicated Anwar, and had told the latter’s detractors that “he who has not sinned, shall cast the first stone”.

However, Nazri, in taking a swipe at Anwar, said those who wished to become prime minister must have high moral standards.

“I don’t talk about morality. We don’t preach. We don’t aspire to be prime minister. Those who aspire to be PM must show high morals.

“Why should we take a vow of morality when we have done nothing wrong? We are not saying we are angelic or anything like that. It is about the (sex) video. I don’t have a video, so why should I take a vow?” he said.

The minister added that the call to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) would not have arose if the opposition did not jump to conclusions and blame BN for the video.

“Had they not blamed us, we won’t be called to make such statements or to call for a RCI,” he said.

The minister also launched a broadside on Baljit for slamming Nazri for stating that Anwar’s wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was not the right person to identify the man in the video.

“If this Punjabi is smart enough, he should realise that there is a conflict of interest (involving Anwar and Wan Azizah).

“Any ordinary person will understand that if you have a conflict of interest, you cannot be a party to investigate your husband’s identity. She is his wife, and this is the conflict,” he said.

In taking Nazri to task over this, Baljit had previously asked if Nazri knew Anwar’s body better than Wan Azizah.

Samy Vellu: I never gave instruction to withdraw RM4m

The former MIC president rebuts allegation that he asked former MIED CEO to withdraw money from MIED's accounts.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former MIC president S Samy Vellu denied today that he had instructed the then Maju Institute of Educational Development CEO P Chithirakala to withdraw RM4 million from MIED’s accounts and prepare three cheques to purchase shares for his son, S Vell Paari.

“It’s a lie. I never gave such instruction,” Samy Vellu said under cross-examination by Chithirakala’s counsel J Chandra, at the Sessions Court here.

He also disagreed with Chandra’s suggestion that the money actually belonged to him but was kept under the name of Rashid Manaf, an AIMST Sdn Bhd shareholder.

When questioned further, Samy Vellu said he was not aware of a letter from Rashid requesting the issuance of a RM1 million cheque and another, also for RM1 million, on May 3, 2007, allegedly to acquire 20% shares in two companies, Wirna Jernih Sdn Bhd and Silver Line Sdn Bhd, for Vell Paari.

He stressed that he recalled signing a supporting letter for Silver Line in bidding for a national camp project but had no knowledge on the purchases of the said shares as contended by the defence.

Samy Vellu pointed out that MIED and MIED Capital were two different entities and that he had nothing to do with MIED Capital, saying its signatories were M Mahalingam and M Kumaran.

He also explained that MIED did not have the fund when MIC mooted the idea of a medical college and that he approached Rashid and succeeded in securing a loan of RM5 million.

On May 11 last year, Chithirakala, 40, claimed trial to cheating former MIC treasurer-general M Mahalingam, 74, a director and signatory of MIED Sdn Bhd by inducing him to sign three cheques – two for RM1 million each, and another, for RM2 million in 2007.

Questioned further by Chandra why the Registrar of Companies’ (ROC) record revealed that Rashid owned a substantial amount of shares of MIED Capital, Samy Vellu said it was a government policy to allocate 30% Bumiputera ownership and that since the MIC did not have the money at that time, it decided to allocate 40% of the shares to him.

He also told the court that the decision was not his alone but the board’s decision and was minuted during one of MIED board meetings.

Asked whether he could produce the minutes, Samy Vellu said he needed to check because some of the documents were with the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

On the issue of whether he was a shareholder of Nimat Sdn Bhd which bought a piece of land next to MIC building, Samy Vellu said: “I was not the shareholder. I just represented MIC in the beginning where Maika Holdings also had shares in that company.”

When asked whether Rashid also had an interest in the company, he said he was not aware about it.

The hearing before judge Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh continues on May 26.

Chandra is assisted by counsel Afifuddin Hafifi, while the prosecution is represented by deputy public prosecutors Kevin Morais and Wong Pooi Yoke.

- Bernama

Navaratnam: Less corruption means more investments

The bold initiatives of the MACC in cracking down on graft can reap good dividends, according to the social commentator.

ramon navaratnamKUALA LUMPUR: Community leader and social commentator Ramon Navaratnam says the bold initiatives of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will invariably improve the Corruption Perception Index, which will eventually have a positive effect on investments into the country.

“All potential investors look at the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and there is no reason why they would want to put their money into a country that is more corrupted than the other.

“With Malaysia’s CPI set to improve through the initiatives of the MACC, the country can expect more investments as governance is an important pre-determinant before an investor decides to invest in a country,” said Navaratnam, who is also the Sunway Group’s Corporate adviser.

A special task force led by the MACC, Inland Revenue Board (IRB) and supported by five other agencies, simultaneously raided 84 forwarding agents, a holding company and 24 of its related companies and 25 Customs premises throughout the country recently.

The MACC had already arrested 62 Customs officers of various ranks and posts under “Operation 3B” for alleged involvement in corruption, money laundering and other offences.

MACC investigation director Mustafar Ali said the investigations carried out since last Monday, with the cooperation of five other agencies, found that more than RM10 billion had been smuggled out of the country.

Meanwhile, the chief economist at Maybank Investment Bank Suhaimi Ilias said that the initiatives of the MACC were likely to bolster confidence and could lead to an increased inflow of investments as this would signal that the cost of doing business in Malaysia was lower.

“We can reduce the level of over-paying and this should augur well for the prevailing business sentiment in the country,” he added.

Successful formula

Navaratnam agreed that the MACC can keep inflation down as corruption adds to cost and keeps inflationary pressure up.

“Through the efforts of the MACC, consumers can enjoy better quality products with prices that commensurate with actual costs and not added costs through corruption,” he said.

Navaratnam, who was also until recently the chairman of the corruption prevention panel of the MACC, added that the MACC had to be highly commended for its successful raids as its taskforce had shown a very high degree of professionalism while executing the carefully coordinated action with other agencies.

The “successful formula” used by the MACC in the recent crackdown on corruption and related offences jointly with other agencies should now be extended to big cases and outside the borders.

“The proven formula that has yielded good results should now be extended to big cases and outside the national boundaries. If this momentum continues, the image of the MACC will be considerably enhanced,” Navaratnam said.

He said that the MACC was approaching a turning point compared to the poor reputation that it had in the past.

“With the high-profile cases involving billions of ringgit, the public will be more appreciative of MACC’s success and steady progress.

“Since MACC’s formation a few years ago, it has grown in strength and calibre. So, this is a maturing process by garnering big scoops, and it is hoped that it will take on bigger cases even if it involves prominent individuals,” Navaratnam said.


What will Umno do to Rahim & Co?

A highly embarrassed Umno must decide quickly on how to deal with the treachery committed by the Datuk T trio.

Umno is hurting. Rahim Thamby Chik’s actions over the video alleging PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim having procured the services of a prostitute has brought Umno into wretched disrepute.

The video was received with utter disbelief. People are linking it to Umno. Rahim TC is an Umno Supreme Council member.

He has dragged Umno into public contempt and odium.

This is the context to which Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah referred to when he said, Malaysian politics has been reduced to gutter politics.

That’s generally meant to refer to dirty politics.

Perhaps the more appropriate term should have been cesspool politics since a cesspool collects sewage and other unmentionables.

The night soil collectors are Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and Rahim.

Never in the history of Umno has the bedroom activities of anyone been brought out into the open and used as the fatal blow to one’s opponents.

The early Umno leaders were not saints – if we were to examine the lives of past leaders, almost all of them were blemished leaders.

Yet not one among them would ever dream of using personal foibles as a tool to kill of his opponent.

Yet this is happening to modern day Umno – the party that claims pole position as the champion of the Malays.

Umno is to modern Malays as what Malacca was to Malays of antiquity. The downfall of each was brought about by the machinations and treachery of thambis.

In the coming days, Umno leaders will realize that the expose of the video has generally backfired on them.

In old Malay history (Sejarah Melayu) such treachery called for execution or castration.

Will Umno now do the modern day honours to Rahim, Eskay and Shuib Lazim?

Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz is a former Umno state rep and blogs at sakmongkolak47. This is an excerpt of an article which first appeared on his blog.

Mystery over Bukit Jalil estate land ownership

DBKL claims that the land belongs to the state religious department Jawi, but the land office has no record of this.

KUALA LUMPUR: The tussle between Ladang Bukit Jalil residents and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has taken a mysterious turn with the Putrajaya Land office claiming the land did not exist in its records.

Independent observer Chin Choong Men said although DBKL, in its affidavit, said the land belonged to the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi), there was no evidence provided to back this.

“The land office told us there are no documents to prove that someone owns the land as the land itself does not exist in their records,” he told a press conference here.

Also present were Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan, Human Rights Party national coordinator K Balakrishnan and the estate’s action committee secretary S Thiakarajan.

On March 14, the 41 families living in the estate obtained an interim injunction to stop DBKL from demolishing their homes after being slapped with eviction notices on March 1.

The court had set April 27 to hear an inter-parte hearing between both parties and the residents would be represented by Lawyers for Liberty coordinator Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and PKR vice president N Surendran.

Residents classified as squatters

Arutchelvan said that DBKL, in its affidavit, also sought to declare the residents as squatter dwellers and its notices on June 2007 to evict them under the Emergency Ordinance as legal.

“The Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Ministry had already told that these people are former estate workers and that is why compensation is being offered.

“Now their legal team is calling them squatters. So who is lying here?” he asked.

In February, Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Minister Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin had admitted that the residents were former estate workers after a meeting with them.

Arutchelvan also took a swipe at DBKL for giving more consideration to the dead while trying to evict the residents.

“It is stated in the affidavit that the land belongs to Jawi and it is slated to be turned into a cemetary.

“We are disturbed by the fact that the entire 26-acre land is being alloted to the dead. Is it wrong to set aside a four-acre land for the living?” he asked.

Saying that the affidavit contained false information, Arutchelvan urged Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to intervene and resolve the matter amicably.

About sex and bribery

The syndicate involved the Police, Customs and Road Transport Departments. Everyone was involved and everyone received a share of the hundreds of millions they made. The current scam involving the Customs Department, which resulted in the death of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, runs into billions of Ringgit.


Raja Petra Kamarudin
The current controversy about Anwar Ibrahim’s Omega watch and whether it is with the police or still with Anwar reminds me of a joke I heard some time ago, which goes as follows:

A boy was showing his friend his expensive Omega watch and the friend asked him whom he stole it from.

“I did not steal it,” he replied. “My dad gave it to me.”

“Your dad?”

“Yeah. I walked into his bedroom last night while he was having sex and he gave me this watch as a bribe to get the hell out of there.”

The friend thought that this was a very neat scam so that night he waited outside his dad’s bedroom and just as his dad was about to reach orgasm he charged into the room.

“What do you want?” the exasperated dad asked.

“I wanna watch,” he replied.

“Okay, go sit in the corner and watch but don’t make any noise,” the dad replied.

Member of Parliament Ibrahim Ali has his own version of this sex joke. The reason men have sex outside the home is because their wives are too busy to have sex with them, said Ibrahim Ali.

The husbands get to see all sorts of sexy women when they go out and this makes them horny. So, when they come home, they are in the mood for sex but the wives are always too busy for sex. So the men have no choice but to seek satisfaction elsewhere.

The Islamic thing to do, argued Ibrahim Ali, is for the wives to drop everything they are doing and drop their panties as well and dart for the bedroom in super-quick time.

This is probably the scenario.

Husband comes home from work and enters the kitchen, “Honey, I’m in the mood for sex after seeing all those gorgeous women at the office.”

Wife, switching off the stove while taking off her panties, “Okay dear, dinner can wait. Let’s go screw first.”

The key word here is Islam. This is the Islamic thing to do, says Ibrahim Ali.

Why is everything always about Islam? And why is Islam always associated with sex?

Whenever these people talk about Islam, sex and Islam must always be in the same sentence. It gives the impression that Islam is only about sex. Most of the ‘rules’ seem to touch on sex. Even Jihad is about the reward of sexy virgins in the hereafter. You tie bombs around your chest and kill women and schoolchildren and you are rewarded with more virgins than you can handle.

Seldom do we hear so-called religious people and scholars talking about more important things like abuse of power, corruption, lack of tolerance, persecution, discrimination, selective prosecution, manipulation of the judiciary, and the other social ills and transgressions faced by Malaysia. It is always about sex.

This gives the impression that Islam is only concerned with sex. It is not concerned with abuse of power, corruption, lack of tolerance, persecution, discrimination, selective prosecution, manipulation of the judiciary, and the other social ills and transgressions faced by Malaysia.

I have said this before and I will say it again: the Muslims are Islam’s greatest enemy. They give Islam a bad name. They make Islam appear like a very shallow and outdated religion.

The death of the Selangor Customs Department assistant director, Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, is most tragic. It is the second death to be associated with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). How did he die? What were the circumstances behind his death? Is Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed the ‘Teoh Beng Hock Version 2”?

We really don’t know but even before the facts are established the issue is being highly politicised.

Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s death is actually a Godsend for the opposition. His death was on the Sarawak state election Nomination Day and certainly this cow will be milked till its tits run dry the entire campaign period up to Polling Day on 16th April 2011.

But let us separate the chaff from the oats. We do not welcome Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed’s death, or any person’s death for the matter. What happened must certainly be thoroughly investigated and the culprits brought to book. There should be no compromise on the matter.

But let us not also lose focus on one very crucial thing. There is very serious and rampant corruption in the Customs Department, as there are in the Police Department and many other government agencies as well. In fact, the worse corruption is in the Local Councils -- with the Customs and Police Departments trailing very close behind. (For that matter there is even serious corruption in MACC itself: the foxes being in charge of the hens that end up eating all the chicken).

The MACC needs to clean up the Customs Department. The corruption there is big time. Anyone who deals with the Customs Department can tell you that. And this problem has prevailed since way back in the 1960s and has not changed one bit over 50 years or so.

Isn’t this what we in the opposition want: to clean up corruption?

Did you know that a few years ago the Chief Police Office (CPO) of Johor, Zakaria Chik, ran a car hijacking syndicate involving many government departments?

Car thieves stole expensive cars from Singapore. The Customs Department allowed them to be ‘imported’ into Malaysia through Johor. The Road Transport Department issued the valid registration papers. The cars were then sold through second hand car dealers and the police would be given the registration numbers of the cars with instructions to ‘leave them alone and do not disturb them’.

The syndicate involved the Police, Customs and Road Transport Departments. Everyone was involved and everyone received a share of the hundreds of millions they made. The current scam involving the Customs Department, which resulted in the death of Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, runs into billions of Ringgit.

So, yes, let’s separate the chaff from the oats. The death is one issue, and a most unfortunate issue at that. But let us not lose focus of the scam that involves billions of Ringgit and involves the Customs Department. Let us not throw the baby out with the bath water. While we want the death investigated and the culprits (if any) punished, we do not want MACC to back down and allow the massive corruption to continue.

And why is all this corruption involving Muslims? Everywhere we turn, whenever we read about corruption, invariably the names of Muslims pop up.

Malaysians are so focused on the sexual misconduct of Muslims (the recent one being Anwar Ibrahim). Is sex the only issue? Is sex more important a matter to discuss compared to corruption?

It has just been revealed that what the Deputy Minister of Defence told Parliament back in 2006 was a lie. He said that the French and not the Malaysian government paid the half a billion Ringgit commission on the submarines. Now it has been proven that the commission was actually paid by the Malaysian government.

But is anyone talking about this? Are any websites and newspapers carrying this story other than just Malaysia Today? No one cares. This matter is not important. What is important is the video recording of Anwar Ibrahim allegedly having sex with a Chinese prostitute.

So what if it is Anwar? So what if it is not Anwar? Either way, will our lives improve? Will Malaysia be a better place if it is proven one way or another? Is the issue of Anwar Ibrahim’s sex life so important that the future of the entire nation depends on this?

Malaysians do not appear to know what is going to decide the future of their country. It is not sex but whether we can eliminate abuse of power, corruption, lack of tolerance, persecution, discrimination, selective prosecution, manipulation of the judiciary, and the other social ills and transgressions faced by Malaysia.

This is where the future lies. But Malaysians are so dumb that they allow themselves to be distracted by a very clever Red Herring that has been created by the government to make Malaysians focus on the lesser important things so that they forget the more important things that is going to decide if Malaysia lives or dies.

The I.S.A. : A Draconian Law

India's Tata Succession Struggle

Ranan Tata: Can't anybody do this job?
(Asia Sentinel) Indian way of succession leaves something to be desired

India's largest conglomerate -- the US$71-billion salt-to-steel behemoth Tata Group, is struggling to finding a successor to its talismanic chairman Ratan Tata who will retire in 2012 next year after a spectacular, two-decade run at the group's helm.

In a marked departure from the Indian tradition in which businesses chose their heirs from family, often generating bitter feuds, the Tata Group embarked on a global search for a successor to Tata by setting up a five-member selection committee last August.

The publicly-fought succession battle between the Ambani brothers – Mukesh and Anil, heirs to the Reliance group after the 2006 death of their father and the founder, is part of corporate folklore. The matter had to be resolved through intervention by the country's Supreme Court. However, despite the distribution of the group's assets, the siblings, who feature regularly in the Forbes' rich list, continue to be at loggerheads.

The Tatas' committee had been scouring candidates both within the organization and outside and even abroad to decide on a suitable successor by its March deadline this year. Rumors were also rife that PepsiCo Chief Indra Nooyi, a personal friend of the Tatas, was also a strong contender for the post.

However, having failed to find a worthy successor in the past eight months, it now seems the group may be forced to tweak its selection parameters. "Our committee has come to the conclusion that we cannot find a replacement for Mr Tata!," said a panel member in an interview to a Tata in-house journal. "We may have to change and rearrange the model in terms of what we are looking for."

Tata, who has molded the group into an international conglomerate, will retire in December 2012 after turning 75. In November last year, the tycoon had told the Wall Street Journal: "The successor, I would hope, would have integrity and our value systems in the forefront and carry on the path that we have tried to set for the company's growth.''

The large, complex and diverse group will have to make the task of the successor easier. This, say insiders, might involve a changed dynamic in the interrelationship between Tata Sons and operating companies.

The Tata Group has been at the succession crossroads twice earlier. In 2002, when Tata was to retire at 65, the board promptly re-designated him non-executive chairman, which empowered him to continue for another five years. Three years later, the board ratcheted up the retirement age of the group's non-executive directors to 75, again to somehow retain Tata.

The deadline to name a successor is now being extended to May with the group even being open to appoint a foreigner at the top post.

Tata's succession has global relevance considering about 60 per cent of the group's revenue is generated from abroad. It has a presence in over 80 countries and is the largest private sector employer in India with over 350,000 employees. The conglomerate straddles 98 operating companies – including India's foremost vehicle maker, software services firm, private sector power producer and the world's eighth-largest steel maker by output.

An architecture graduate from the Cornell University, Ratan N Tata joined the group in 1962. In 1981, he became the chairman of the Tata Industries, and has been the chairman of Tata Sons, the promoter company of the Tata Group, since 1991.

As chairman, Tata has striven to give the group a more global and cohesive identity with Tata Sons as the flagship company. The tycoon's big-ticket acquisitions including Anglo-American steel giant Corus and luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover further consolidated its global footprint.

Insiders say Tata's professional trajectory must feel special to him considering that when he took over the reins as Tata Group chairman in 1991, his critics were scathing in their disapproval and skepticism for his candidature. The businessman was considered to have gained his position purely on the “strength of his surname".

Turning preconceived notions on their head, nearly 20 years later, Ratan Tata surpassed all expectations by crafting one of India's most respected business houses with a revenue that is nearly 40 times the 1991 level while net profit has quadrupled.

Even so, lending complexity to the Tata succession is the fact that the family belongs to the diminishing minority Parsi community in India which numbered about 70,000 according to the 2001 census. The Parsis are thus employing subtle pressure on the Tatas to choose an heir from one of their own.

The community's wish may well be granted given the fact that Tata's half -brother Noel Tata is tipped to be a particular favorite to fill the top slot. He was first appointed chairman of Tata Investment Corporation in June and later named managing director of Tata International after giving up his position as managing director of the retail firm Trent Ltd.

What obviously works in Noel Tata's favor is the Tata name. He is also the son-in-law of Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, the single largest individual shareholder in Tata Sons, with around 18 percent percent of the concern. Pallonji Mistry's son Cyrus is also on the board of Tata Sons.

The pro-Noel lobby draws a parallel between him and Ratan Tata – both are shy and introverted yet extremely driven professionally. Noel has zealously pushed for new business innovations in the 141-year-old business house. He is also credited with having pioneered private labels by Indian retailers. Since taking over as the managing director of Tata International in June last year, he has diversified into footwear retailing, accelerating exports and making many acquisitions.

Ranan Tata has distanced himself from his succession issue and given complete freedom to the appointed committee. In any case, the succession issue may be the least of the tycoon's problems right now as he finds himself embroiled in the multi-million dollar 2G scam controversy. He appeared this week before a parliamentary panel probing the telecoms graft scandal, which has damaged the ruling UPA government's credibility and alarmed investors in Asia's third largest economy.

Estimates suggest that India may have lost as much as US$39 billion in revenue due to the violation of rules when lucrative 2G mobile phone licenses were granted in 2008, a sum equivalent to the country's defense budget.

Tata was interrogated soon after the police made the first indictments in the case, naming Andimuthu Raja, the former telecoms minister, a unit of the Reliance group and the Indian partners of Etisalat and Telenor among the accused.

Andimuthu Raja was forced to resign and has been arrested. He was charged last week with abuse of official position, cheating and criminal conspiracy. Tata had earlier backed Raja and the policy changes he made, saying they "broke the powerful cartel which had been holding back competition."

Neeta Lal is a New Delhi-based senior journalist; neetalal@hotmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it