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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

U.N. panel: Sri Lankan government attacked civilians

Thousands of civilians were caught up in the final stages of Sri Lanka's decades-long bloody civil war in 2009.(CNN)- A United Nations panel investigating alleged war crimes in the Sri Lankan conflict has found credible evidence that the military shelled civilians in no-fire zones and sought to silence critics in brutal fashion, according to the panel's report, leaked to a Sri Lankan newspaper.

The report contradicts claims by the Sri Lankan government that it adopted a policy of "zero civilian casualties" in the final stages of its bloody 25-year battle with the Tamil rebels.

"The government shelled on a large scale in three consecutive no-fire zones, where it had encouraged the civilian population to concentrate, even after indicating that it would cease the use of heavy weapons," according to the report, published last week on the website of the newspaper, The Island.

"It shelled the United Nations hub, food distribution lines and near the International Committee of the Red Cross ships that were coming to pick up the wounded and their relatives from the beaches. It shelled in spite of its knowledge of the impact. ... Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling."

The Sri Lankan government denounced the report as "fundamentally flawed."

A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said that "among other deficiencies, the report is based on patently biased material, which is presented without any verification."

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said he will turn a planned May Day rally into a protest against the United Nations.

U.N. officials would not comment on the leaked report, but spokesman Farhan Haq said the published portions are accurate.

"They are incomplete, they're certainly not the full report, but they are accurate renditions of things that appear in the text," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed the three-member panel last year to advise him on accountability issues relating to alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the Sri Lankan war, which ended in May 2009.

The panel found both sides accountable for serious war crimes.

The report says the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who fought fiercely to secure an independent state for minority Tamils, "refused civilians permission to leave, using them as hostages, at times even using their presence as a strategic human buffer between themselves and the advancing Sri Lanka army.

"All of this was done in a quest to pursue a war that was clearly lost; many civilians were sacrificed on the altar of the LTTE cause and its efforts to preserve its senior leadership," the report says.

The government, the report says, "systematically shelled hospitals on the frontlines."

It also "systematically deprived people in the conflict zone of humanitarian aid, in the form of food and medical supplies, particularly surgical supplies, adding to their suffering. To this end, it purposely underestimated the number of civilians who remained in the conflict zone. Tens of thousands lost their lives from January to May 2009, many of whom died anonymously in the carnage of the final few days."

The report also is critical of government soldiers' screening of civilians in their hunt for rebels. Sometimes, it says, those who were singled out as suspects were summarily executed.

"If proven, those most responsible, including Sri Lanka Army commanders and senior government officials, as well as military and civilian LTTE leaders, would bear criminal liability for international crimes," the report says.

Sri Lanka's long and bloody conflict devastated nearly two-thirds of the population in its northern and eastern provinces. As many as 70,000 people were killed.

Utusan calls for 1Melayu, 1Bumi movement

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Utusan Malaysia called on its owners Umno today to spearhead a 1Melayu, 1Bumi movement involving all Malay parties — claiming DAP was intent on toppling the country’s Malay leadership.

“What Umno needs to do now, in this pressing time, is to launch a wave of racial unity - 1Melayu, 1Bumi. Launch 1Melayu, 1Bumi immediately with other Malay parties,” assistant chief editor Datuk Zaini Hassan wrote in the Malay daily today.

In his Cuit column, he said that DAP’s slogans in the recently concluded Sarawak state election called for Chinese voters to change the Malay-led government, adding that they already controlled everything and was now aiming for political power.

“Only absolute political power has not been controlled by the Chinese, everything else has been taken. Now DAP bringing great slogans among them, Undi Untuk Ubah (Vote for Change), Enough is Enough and Selamatkan Malaysia (Save Malaysia).

“In truth, those slogans are aimed at no one else but specifically the Chinese. It is displayed proudly on the chests of DAP candidates and supporters in the Sarawak election so that the Malay leadership of Malaysia is changed,” he added.

In his column, he said that the Chinese community was a united force whose “brotherhood” was unmatched by any other race in the country.

He said that despite their different political stands, Chinese voters would unite when the time came to decide the fate of their community.

Zaini also said that the Chinese community helped each other economically and stood together unwaveringly to protect their culture, language and vernacular education.

“The Chinese language is a high priority and it is said that even Chinese who cannot read Chinese will still buy Chinese newspapers.

“In short, the Chinese are actually very fortunate to be in Malaysia. They have controlled everything. The top ten Chinese are Malaysian billionaires,” he wrote.

However, he provided no facts to substantiate the claim that the Chinese community was such a united force.

Zaini said that while DAP has united the Chinese politically, Malays have so far done nothing in response.

“They are a race that is quite comfortable, complacent and apathetic. In fact, their thoughts are quite disorganised,” he wrote.

Zaini said that if PAS refused to participate in the 1Melayu, 1Bumi movement, Umno could join hands with the dozens of Malay NGOs who were established because they were “thirsting to fight for the interests of the race that is increasingly being left behind.”

He added that Chinese component parties in Barisan Nasional (BN) would not be upset with such a move to unite Malays as Chinese were already united.

Let religion stay in your heart

It is certainly courting danger when the line between religion and politics is blurred.
COMMENT

The key to peace and harmony lies in accepting and respecting the practices of the many different faiths existing in this country. This is a challenge that requires much understanding from all, more so the religious clerics.

In this respect, veteran muftis like Harussani Zakaria of Perak certainly can play a big role in bringing the people of different races together. But instead, the reverse is being done by this learned scholar who, for one reason or other, seems to have become insecure about the commitment of Muslims to their faith.

Harussani, a mufti of Perak for 19 years, has over the years developed an allergy to all things he claims are anti-Islam. Previously, there was a ruckus over the ancient practice of yoga which he claimed went against Islam and was better off prohibited to the Muslims.

In 2008, he said it was haram or forbidden for girls to dress up as boys or behave like the opposite sex. If causing conundrum through his “insights” was not bad enough, Harussani in 2009 decided to quit playing mufti to set foot into politics.

In that year, Harussani brought on the lethal cocktail of a religious cleric and budding politician when he said anyone who did not respect the ruler of a state would be considered a traitor. He said this after Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin refused to relinquish his post as Perak menteri besar even after being ordered to do so by the Perak Sultan, Azlan Shah.

In March this year, Harussani wants the poco-poco dance made forbidden to the Muslims because of the same reason, that it is deviationist in nature.

It is no less baffling to note the extent to which Harussani is willing to go to make sure he “shelters” Muslims from what he believes are the “forbidden fruit”.

But, like a reader of an English daily points out, asking the Muslims to hop from poco-poco to the joget dance is no less blasphemous, for joget has its roots in the Portuguese dance. Are the Portuguese not Christians?

“The mufti was quoted as saying that the cross-shaped movement in the poco-poco resembled a Christian symbol. Can an involuntary action depicting a cross be constituted as haram?” the writer asked.

Stop dabbling in petty issues

The writer said there were other pressing matters that a mufti could look into such as the plight of divorced mothers raising their children without alimony and social ills among Muslim youths, among others.

Making his point clear, the writer went on to say: “A few years ago, the Taiping district mosque had a new carpet laid out not because the old one had a cross on every prayer compartment for each congregant, but because it was worn out. Nobody made a fuss about it because we knew that the crosses were just geometrical designs of art.”

Chiding Harussani over “much ado about nothing”, the writer suggested that the mufti take a short drive to Taiping to discover why a piece of prime land belonging to the state Islamic Council, which Harussani heads, approved the construction of a huge septic tank at the busiest traffic junction in the heart of the town and this too about 20m from the 113-year-old heritage mosque.

Indeed, instead of creating uncalled-for controversies, it is only appropriate if muftis stayed true to their calling and helped forge camaraderie between people of different faiths and not use religion to drive a wedge between people of various ethnic backgrounds.

It is a task no less daunting for Harussani and fellow muftis must acquire as much understanding as possible about the various faiths practised in Malaysia. To find fault when there is none for the sake of raising the stake of Islam, the national religion, has created hostility between Malaysians of different races.

Muftis must acquire liberated minds

Thus far, Harussani has yet to display the maturity much needed of a mufti in effectively playing the role of a mediator. Take the issue of the release of the confiscated 35,100 Malay-medium bibles which Harussani said could lead to “Malay anger and fearsome consequences”.

This controversial mufti, in trying to play safe, said the Muslim did not object to the bibles being printed in Bahasa Malaysia but the word “Allah” had to be substituted with “Tuhan” which is another term for God.

Harussani said the Malay-Muslims exclusively owned the word “Allah”. And this despite history stating otherwise and with Jewish holy scriptures and Arabic Talmud referring to God as “Allah”.

It is becoming more and more apparent that Harussani has made up his mind that this country belongs to the Malays and the other races are merely “guests” who should never forget their “roots”.

Until and unless muftis like Harussani produce the much-needed courage to think “out of the box”, claims that border on racial sentiments will also rankle Malaysians in general.

Also, muftis must not take the liberty of professing a fatwa or religious decree for granted. To issue a fatwa against yoga, an ancient healing art, is ludicrous. Likewise, a fatwa on poco-poco has further made a mockery of how religious decrees are being abused.

Religions not arcane

To muftis, especially those who take it upon themselves to castigate non-Muslims under the pretext of morality, they could do better by letting religions stay where they belong – in the hearts of people.

It is certainly courting danger when muftis like Harussani blur the line between religion and politics, all for the sake of sending home the message that there is no religion as superior as Islam. Such attitude is not only open to conflict, it is leaves a nasty impression that the muftis are very desperate to keep Islam intact when, in reality, the religion is doing good.

The damage is always perpetuated by religious scholars who refuse to liberate their thinking and save the religion from being misunderstood.

When the Muslims severed the head of a cow and stomped upon it to exhibit their anger, where was Harussani and his fellow muftis? Did they not see it fit to advise fellow Muslims to respect the sentiments of the non-Malays or were the muftis glad over what had happened?

They say charity begins at home and if the muftis take a good look in their backyard, they will realise that instead of the preoccupation with fatwas, it is much more important that they play a role in nurturing and sustaining harmony between Malaysians of different races.

Leave the yoga, poco-poco and all else that in truth do no harm to Islam alone. Look at the bigger picture and understand why people quit a religion and end up as atheists. Then religion will no longer end up being arcane.

Behind the walls of Simpang Rengam

In this two-part interview with FMT, a former inmate shares his experience of having endured five years in the infamous prison.

PETALING JAYA: When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. The timeless adage may not strike a chord with some, but for those who have endured trying times, it brings strength when hope becomes a luxury.

In a recent interview with FMT, a former Simpang Rengam inmate revealed how being detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) changed his perspective of life and taught him to appreciate the little blessings.

Suresh (not his real name), 31, hails from Puchong. His body is covered with tattoos and his eyes flickered with sadness as he recalled his experience while sipping on a steaming cup of teh-tarik.

In 2003, Suresh’s life took a drastic turn when he was remanded for seven days at the Brickfields police station in connection with a murder case.

Relating his ordeal, the car repossessor said that it was “Deepavali every day”, alluding to the beatings he received in the lock-up.

“They wanted me to confess to the murder, so they beat me. That’s normal, everyone who goes in gets beaten with rubber hoses, boots, batons and everything else.

“They also forced me to drink grounded cili padi (bird’s eye chillies) mixed with water. Even when I think about it now, I can remember how my throat and stomach burned,” he said.

When his seven-day remand expired, Suresh said that he was taken on a “roadshow” whereby he was remanded at various places – Petaling Jaya, Puchong, Sentul, Ipoh and Johor – for 48 days.

“I knew they were going to send me to Simpang, and just as I suspected, in June, I was re-arrested under the EO and sent to the Taman Tun Dr Ismail police station for 60 days.”

Suresh said that just before the 60-day initial detention period ended, several police officers asked him to confess again, and he refused.

Following this, he was sent to Simpang Rengam with five others in August.

Playing the beating game

Upon arriving at the prison, Suresh said the police piled up 36 cases and spread them among the five.

“My share was 10 cases. I admitted being involved in two, but the rest, I have never even heard of them or the places where the crimes were said to have happened.”

After reading out the charges, the Unit Kawalan Penjara (UKP) instructed the new detainees to salute them before entering their respective cells.

“But one of the guys did not salute and because of him, all five of us got a beating on our palms with the baton. My palms were swollen for three days and I could not even sign my detention papers.”

Beatings, he said, were a common occurrence in Simpang Rengam and sometimes the prison authorities did it to kill time.

“On some occasions, they would give us cigarettes and drinks before beating us with canes dipped in boiling water. You just have to get used to the beatings.”

“If there is a fight among detainees, the UKP would beat everyone, regardless of whether you are involved or not.

“Even if there were no fights, the prison officers would instigate us, for instance like not putting salt in our food, serving food on unclean trays or even put a cockroach in our food.”

After a month in Simpang Rengam, Suresh said the prison board consisting of three magistrates, two officers from Bukit Aman, a lawyer from the Legal Aid Bureau and the prison warden, met him and asked him how he would plea to the crime of manslaughter.

“Of course I denied the charge, and they asked me again the following week, and I told them the same answer. The board never called me again. I even wrote a letter of appeal to them, but I did not receive a response.”

Trip to the icebox

Speaking about life in Simpang Rengam, Suresh said the detainees had to be ready for the roll-call at 7.30am every morning.

“We will be given breakfast at 8am. Then we would head to a workshop to do some carpentry and handicraft work. Lunch was served at noon and after that we were allowed to mingle with others.

“We would normally just chat or watch television. Once a month, we get to watch a DVD.”

Dinner, he added, was served 3.30pm and a bun was given for supper. At 6pm, the detainees had to head back to their cells.

Asked what was his worst experience, Suresh replied: “Definitely, the ‘ice box’.”

He then explained that the “ice box” was a cramped, dark and damp isolation cell where an errant detainee would be locked up for 14 days.

“For the first three days, we would only only get two meals; three slices of bread and stale milk for both breakfast and dinner. Those were the times I used to yearn for real food.”

He was also only allowed one bucket of water into his cell daily and that is the water he had to use for washing, bathing and drinking.

“The cement floor would be really cold because there’s water running underneath, and that’s why it’s called the ‘ice box’. You can go mad inside there.

“Many times, I could not even remember my name,” he said, adding that he had been locked up in the “ice box” three times during his five years in Simpang Rengam.

Suresh also recalled how prison guards would sometimes wake up the detainees in the wee hours of the morning to carry out checks on their cells.

“When we ask them why they do this, they would say it’s part of the rehabilitation,” he said.

However, he remembered that there was one Malay officer who was kind to them, and often brought them things.

“The officer used to bring us books, prayer items and other small things for us,” he said.

No to ‘sissy’ boot camp

It is an abuse of human rights and goes against the Convention on the Rights of the Child, say NGOs.

KUALA LUMPUR: Several lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) NGOs have criticised the Terengganu Education Department over the Besut boot camp for “sissies”, which is currently home to 66 schoolboys who have displayed “effeminate tendencies”.

Some have called this move as an abuse of human rights and that it goes against the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Malaysia ratified in 1995.

Terengganu Education Department director Razali Daud was quoted as saying that the link between effeminate behaviour and transsexuality/homosexuality should not be ignored.

He said that although the department understands that “some people end up as Mak Nyah or homosexuals”, “we will do our best to limit the number”.

He said the move was prompted by the rising number of effeminate schoolboys in the state.

“The students must understand that there are choices in life and we want them to know all the options available to them,” he said.

The boys, between 13 and 17, reported on Monday for the camp, where they will undergo religious and motivational classes, and physical guidance.

Public outcry

The camp provoked public outcry from not just local gay rights activists, but also internationally after the story was reported in The Telegraph and on the BBC.

Yusmar Yusof, coordinator of MyNETRA, a Facebook group which provides support to members of the transgender community, said that the camp was a flagrant abuse of human rights.

“Every child has the right to life, to identity, to privacy. Who is monitoring the teachers at this camp?”

She also questioned the methods with which the children were chosen. “How does one quantify ‘sissy’? What are sissy boys? Transvestites? Transgender? Gay men? How were they identified and selected?”

She also expressed concern regarding the activities and programmes that would be held at the camp, asking who created the modules.

Calling the boot camp a “fly by night” programme, Yusmar urged the government to come up with a better solution.

Phang Khee Teik, co-founder of the annual sexuality rights festival Seksualiti Merdeka and also arts programme director of The Annexe Gallery, called the camp an “endorsement” for other students to bully and make fun of these so-called “sissies”.

“Our society certainly has a problem with people needing to appear macho, leading to a lot of socially problematic behaviour from delinquency to violence to wife-beating. This is often a result of insecurity and disempowerment. We could do better to address this issue instead.”

Scarred for life

Phang added that all the schoolboys would learn from the camp is to “pretend” to be better in order to meet society’s expectations.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) was appalled by the introduction of the camp, saying that the education department’s policy to regulate the behaviour of students was against the CRC.

“The act of identifying and singling out boys who behave effeminately is highly discriminatory, bordering on the predatory. Article 2 of the CRC dictates that all children should be accorded equal rights and treatment without exception. The education department is clearly in violation of this.”

NGO Pink Triangle (PT) Foundation slammed the action of the education department, saying that forcing these schoolboys to change would be like telling them that they were not acceptable members of society.

“As far as I am aware, no religions force such doctrines on their followers. These teenagers may become scarred for life and it will take many years of counselling and psychotherapy to be able to accept themselves as they are,” said Raymond Tai, executive director and programme director at PT Foundation.

He also called the attempt to link mannerisms and traits to homosexuality a “myth that is not grounded on scientific research.

“There is no relation between male homosexuality and effeminate tendencies. With regard to transgenderism, science has still not conclusively proven whether it is nature or nurture.

“However, there is much evidence that most male to female transgenders already display feminine traits at a very young age, mostly during early childhood.”

Perkasa kecam pemimpin Melayu bisu tentang Al Kitab

Persoalannya sekarang mengapa Umno tidak berani ke depan berkaitan isu Al Kitab.

PETALING JAYA: Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) mempersoalkan sikap membisu pemimpin politik Melayu yang membisu dalam isu Al Kitab yang diterbitkan dalam Bahasa Malaysia.

Penerbitan Al Kitab dalam versi Bahasa Malaysia ini telah mendapat bantahan dari badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) Islam dan Jumaat lalu seramai 100 penunjuk perasaan mengadakan demontrasi di perkarangan Masjid Negara Kuala Lumpur.

Setiausaha Perkasa, Syed Hassan Syed Ali berkata, pemimpin politik Melayu dari Umno dan PAS menjadi bisu dan lesu dalam isu Al Kitab.

“Sejak sekian lama PAS menjadi parti pembangkang, pemimpin mereka selalu lantang mempertahankan ajaran Islam. Pelbagai kecaman (dilemparkan) terhadap Umno, parti yang mengetuai BN sejak merdeka lagi.

“Persoalannya sekarang mengapa Umno tidak berani ke depan berkaitan isu Al Kitab?,” soal beliau.

Mengulas lanjut, Syed Hassan berkata, PAS gagal mempertahankan perjuangan Islamnya dalam isu penjualan arak di Shah Alam setelah mendapat bantahan sekutunya, DAP.

“Agak menghairankan mengapa DAP tidak takut kepada PAS yang sama-sama dalam Pakatan Rakyat memerintah Selangor. PAS sepatutnya mengecam DAP yang mereka (parti itu) akan keluar Pakatan Rakyat tetapi sebaliknya PAS yang mengalah.

“Ini dianggap sebagai mengadai maruah bangsa dan kesucian Islam.

Walaupun begitu, Umno juga tidak berani menegur rakan kongsinya dalam BN dalam isu-isu yang membabitkan Islam,” katanya.

Menurutnya, MCA, rakan Umno dalam BN, yang paling lantang mempersoalkan keputusan kerajaan menahan Al Kitab di Pelabuhan Klang.

MIC man denies conning shrink x

R Ramanan rubbishes a report claiming that he cheated psychiatrist Dr Mahadevan of RM5.5 million over a land dispute with the Defence Ministry.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC Youth leader R Ramanan has denied cheating psychiatrist Dr M Mahadevan of RM5.5 million with regard to a land dispute between the latter and the Defence Ministry.

Responding to a FMT report, Ramanan said there were no dealings between him and the ministry.

“I have all the documents to prove that the statement made in the article is untrue and merely an attempt to tarnish my image and reputation,” he said.

Last week, V Ragunathan, a former close friend of Ramanan, filed a police report against the latter for fraud, accusing him of cheating the psychiatrist.

According to Ragunathan, he had received documentary evidence on April 10 regarding the MIC Youth leader’s involvement in the matter.

He claimed that Ramanan squandered the money after promising to settle the land dispute.

Ramanan, who conceded that there were several issues between him and Mahadevan, however stressed that the matters were purely business related.

“There is nothing political to it. I believe this is being done to divert attention from the ‘Zuna Nite’ accounts issue,” he said.

The Bandar Syed Putra MIC Youth chief said he believes that national MIC Youth chief T Mohan was behind the police report against him.

“I once again challenge him to take me to court. Four months have passed, but he has still failed to show the accounts for the ‘Zuna Nite’.

“I have every right to question the matter because I too donated a large sum of money for the charity dinner event,” he added.

Previously, Ramanan claimed that RM100,000 had gone missing from the account, but this was denied by MIC Youth treasurer J Dhinagaran.

Don’t be buoyant about economy, Bank Negara warned

Natural disasters will impact our economy as Japan cut backs on investments and prioritise reconstruction of the nation.

KUALA LUMPUR: Economists are expecting fiscal aftershocks to affect the Malaysian economy following the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan in last month.

“Bank Negara’s annual report is very optimistic,” said Ramon Navaratnam, former deputy secretary-general of the Finance Ministry.

“Firstly, the natural disasters will lead to a lower demand for imports on Japan’s end. It will also lead to an impact on the world economy, slowing progress globally.”

The well-known economist also said that Japanese investments here would suffer setbacks as their priority would be to reconstruct Japan.

He warned Bank Negara against erring on the side of optimism, advising them to be cautiously neutral.

AmResearch senior economist Manokaran Mottain echoed this, saying that exports would be affected, dropping between 5% and 10%.

Because of this, Malaysia’s GDP growth will be reduced by at least 0.3 percentage points.

“In this regard, we are now projecting the real GDP to be a weak 4% in the second quarter,” he said.

Manokaran, however, said he was confidence that projects such as the ETP (Economic Transformation Programme) and 10th Malaysia Plan would stabilise growth momentum to approximately 6% by the final quarter.

Japan is Malaysia’s third largest export destination, accounting for 10.4% of total exports.

A Bank Negara official concurred that the annual report had not taken into account the earthquake because it had been prepared last year.

“Our forecast is optimistic, but it must be noted that Japan contributes only 8% of global growth.”

Musuh nombor satu ialah kejahilan


Sekiranya kita melancarkan kempen boikot kedai makan Mamak dan kedai makan Cina yang meletakkan kerusi-meja mereka diluar kedai ditepi jalan maka, lama-kelamaan, amalan ini akan dihapuskan dan kegiatan haram, yang menjadi halal kerana rasuah, akan menjadi sejarah.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin
Apa dia musuh nombor satu? Ramai dari pembaca Malaysia Today akan berkata bahawasanya Barisan Nasional atau Umno ialah musuh nombor satu. Ada juga yang akan berkata rasuah ialah musuh nombor satu. Dan ada yang akan berkata kemiskinan ialah musuh nombor satu.

Yang sebenarnya, kejahilan ialah musuh nombor satu. Apabila kita jahil, maka kita akan mudah terpengaruh dan pihak kerajaan, ahli politik, atau pun media massa, akan mudah memutar belit keadaan dan menipu rakyat.

Jadi, kita perlu memerangi kejahilan. Jangan khuatir tentang rasuah, salah guna kuasa, dan lain-lain itu setakat ini. Itu bukan masalah kami yang sebenar. Kejahilan ialah masalah yang lebih ketara. Apabila kita jahil maka rasuah dan salah guna kuasa mudah dilakukan. Dan kerajaan atau ahli politik mudah menipu kita.

Biar saya bagi satu contoh. Ramai rakyat membantu dan bersubahat dengan rasuah. Tetapi, oleh kerana kejahilan mereka, mereka tidak menyedari yang mereka membantu atau bersubahat dengan rasuah.

Satu tidak bermaksud rasuah secara ‘direct’. Secara direct bermaknanya apabila kita ditahan polis kita membayar rasuah RM50 untuk mengelak dari membayar saman RM300. Itu ramai juga yang melakukan. Orang yang berbuih mulut menentang rasuah tidak teragak-agak membayar RM50 kepada polis untuk mengelak didenda RM300.

Yang saya maksudkan disini ialah penglibatan kita dengan rausah secara tidak menyedarinya. Dan ini kita lakukan oleh kerana kita jahil.

Saya ambil contoh kedai makan Mamak atau kedai makan Cina yang ada dimerata ceruk Malaysia. Kedai-kedai ini meletak kerusi-mejanya di luar kedai ditepi jalan. Itu satu perbuatan salah. Tetapi mereka boleh lakukan kesalahan ini kerana mereka membayar rasuah kepada pegawai Majlis Pembandaran atau Bandar Raya (local council atau city council).

Oleh kerana rasuah tersebut, mereka boleh letak kerusi-meja mereka diluar kedai ditepi jalan dan ini menyebabkan bukan sahaja gangguan dan sesak jalan raya tetapi juga bahaya kepada pelanggan.

Sekiranya kita membuat kajian, kita akan sedar bahawasanya ramai lebih gemar duduk diluar dari didalam kedai. Kadangkala didalam kedai tersebut kosong tetapi diluar sesak dengan pelanggan-pelanggan, ada yang bediri menunggu meja kosong diluar. Walaupun didalam kedai tersebut ada meja kosong, kita lebih rela berdiri diluar menunggu meja kosong dari masuk kedalam kedai dan duduk dimeja yang banyak kosong.

Jadi, tuan punya kedai meletak meja dan kerusi diluar kedai ditepi jalan. Dan untuk membolehkan mereka membuat demikian, mereka perlu membayar rasuah kepada pegawai kerajaan tempatan.

Bukan ke kita yang lebih gemar duduk diluar dan bukan didalam kedai tersebut membantu dan menggalakkan rasuah? Sekiranya kita menyedari yang ini akan menyebabkan kita bersubahat dengan rasauh, dan sekiranya kita enggan duduk diluar kerana kita tidak mahu membantu rasuah, maka kerusi-meja diluar kedai tersebut akan kosong dan tuan punya kedai akan terpaksa mengalihnya.

Tetapi, oleh kerana kejahilan kita, kita telah besubahat dengan rasuah dan, oleh kerana kejahilan kita, rausah telah berterusan.

Sekiranya kita melancarkan kempen boikot kedai makan Mamak dan kedai makan Cina yang meletakkan kerusi-meja mereka diluar kedai ditepi jalan maka, lama-kelamaan, amalan ini akan pupus dan kegiatan haram, yang menjadi halal kerana rasuah, akan menjadi sejarah.

Oleh kerana itu saya berkata yang ramai rakyat Malaysia jahil dan kerana kejahilan ini mereka telah membantu dan bersubahat dengan rasuah. Jadi ini ialah musuh nombor satu: kejahilan.

Observers to tell UN the true Sarawak story

The highly disputed Senadin win by Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) will be the leading example of polls malpractices which will be presented to the UN.

KUALA LUMPUR: The incident in Sarawak’s Senadin constituency involving PKR candidate Dr Michael Teo will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva today.

The disputed results on April 16 will form the spine of a presentation to be made by Sarawak Report (SR) and other observers of the recently concluded 10th Sarawak election.

According to SR blogger Clare Rewcastle Brown, “we will tell exactly what happened (in Sarawak)”.

Citing Senadin, she said PKR was leading by 1,000 odd-votes during the last ballot counting in Miri City Stadium when suddenly a blackout “conveniently occurred”.

The blackout, she said, lasted an hour during which time the Election Commission (EC) continued counting.

“Suddenly they brought in ‘postal’ votes at an illegally late hour and SUPP was declared ‘winners’ with a slim 58-vote majority.

“The EC also announced 158 spoiled votes favouring PKR. The commission refused a recount despite the fact that there was a clear case for it,” she said.

Brown added that the Senadin incident was only one example that SR was planning to present to the UN.

She said SR’s report to the UN would include the “mass disenfranchisement of much of the population in the interior”.

This, she said, enabled Taib to operate a “rotten borough system” where seats are decided by just a tiny number of people whom he can pressure and influence.

“Some 470,000 natives do not voting rights out of Sarawak’s 2.5 million population.

“There is also the illegal touting of projects and votes by Barisan Nasional politicians, including the prime minister, in the run-up to the election.

“These are used as a direct bribe and form of blackmail. They tell the voters that they will not get the projects and worse, may be discriminated against in the provision of basic amenities if they do not vote BN, ” she said in her posting on SR.

Postal votes and bribery

On postal votes, she said this was another issue which would be made known to the UN.

She said SR would inform the UN about the abuse of postal votes and the “outrageous targeting of postal votes at single constituencies” BN wants to influence.

“We will also tell them about the practice of doubling up by sending in postal votes by the army and then bringing in plane loads of the same soldiers to vote in person as well and the introduction of suspicious last-minute ‘postal votes’ in order to try and boost BN’s tallies far later than legally allowed.”

The other areas that the report will highlihgt include the use of gangsters to intimidate and turn away voters from the polling stations, the abuses by the EC which included switching voters’ polling stations away from their home areas to distant places they cannot get to and hiding ballot boxes.

The UN will also hear of the tampering of Form 14, cutting off mobile phone networks on polling day as well as the “naked bribery by BN” of poor voters on the eve of the election.

Brown said the scale of these bribes went sky high at this election and was indicative of how unpopular BN is.

BN secured 55 seats against the opposition’s 16 in the April 16 polls.

Experts doubtful of 1 Malaysia e-mail security

By Yow Hong Chieh | TMI

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Computer security experts have questioned the rationale behind the 1 Malaysia e-mail initiative and whether the Najib administration can keep the service secure and affordable.

Open source expert Colin Charles said he did not think it was a good idea for Malaysians to use an e-mail account controlled by the government as there was no guarantee its contents would remain safe.

“The worst that can happen is that someone in the government can read your e-mail,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

“My general advice is: don’t use the e-mail account to write about anything you care about.”

While he thought it an interesting idea, Charles was sceptical of the project’s long-term viability given that Datuk Seri Najib Razak would eventually have to step down as prime minister at some point.

Charles explained the prime minister’s successor would want to stamp his mark politically and was therefore unlikely to continue any of Najib’s 1 Malaysia initiatives, including the e-mail account.

Another expert, Gareth Davies, said it would be costly to provide e-mail accounts for every Malaysian aged 18 and above, estimated to number some 16 million.

“Even if they had 16 million accounts and you give everyone 100 megabytes… that’s a lot of storage,” he pointed out.

“And that’s only 100 megabytes. Imagine if they give one gigabyte,” Gareth said, adding that this was even before the cost of computer architecture, bandwidth, staff, management and software was factored in.

Najib announced yesterday all Malaysians aged 18 and above will be given secure 1 Malaysia e-mail accounts that will allow direct and secure communication between the public and the government.

The account is also part of a new one-stop web portal for government services, which will include social networking features as well as online bill payment and citizen application facilities.

The project is owned and operated by IT company Tricubes Berhad, which will use software from Microsoft — the company that now owns the free Hotmail account service.

The 1 Malaysia email service is part of Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) to achieve developed nation status by 2020.

He said today that the RM50 million investment will have a gross national income (GNI) impact of RM39 million up to 2015 and will enhance delivery of public services.

‘Sissy boot camp’ violates law, says Shahrizat

The Malaysian Insider
by Boo Su-Lyn

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry urged the Terengganu Education Department today to abolish a boot camp for “sissies” as it violated the Child Act 2001.

Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the Besut boot camp for 66 “sissies”, which started on Sunday according to the New Straits Times, could stir prejudice against the schoolboys and subsequently affect their mental health.

“We believe that such ‘boot camps’ must be abolished on the basis that they are harmful and do not serve the best interest of the child, and are therefore in clear violation of the Child Act 2001,” said Shahrizat in a statement today.

“Every child is entitled to protection and assistance in all circumstances without regard to distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, social origin or physical, mental or emotional disabilities or any other status,” added the minister, referring to the preamble of the Act.

The New Straits Times reported yesterday that the Terengganu Education Department had sent 66 secondary schoolboys with “effeminate tendencies” to a camp aimed at helping them behave appropriately.

Department director Razali Daud explained that the four-day camp in Besut admitted boys identified by their schools for displaying “feminine qualities”.

He said the 66 schoolboys were showing behaviours that were not “usually displayed by a normal male of their age.”

“We understand that some people end up as mak nyah (transvestites) or homosexuals, but we will do our best to limit the number,” Razali was quoted as saying.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) had also urged the Terengganu Education Department to abolish the boot camp.

The women’s rights group said earlier today the camp was against human rights and that it promotes homophobia and prejudice.

JAG also said the state Education Department was violating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Malaysia ratified in 1995, as all children were guaranteed equal rights and treatment without exception under that treaty.

“The ministry views with alarm and great concern the act of sending 66 schoolboys with effeminate tendencies to a camp with the aim of ‘correcting’ their behaviour,” said Shahrizat.

“The experience of being singled out on the basis of perceived characteristics is an extremely traumatising experience, in particular for adolescent teens. Such profiling has potentially serious psychological repercussions and could harm the development and mental health of the children, as it exposes them to prejudices among their peers and members of their family and community,” she added.

The New Straits Times quoted Razali as saying the link between effeminate behaviour among male students and transsexuality should be a matter of concern that should not be ignored.

He added that the state Education Department was not intervening with the process of nature as it was “merely trying to guide these students to a proper path in life”.

The students will be attending physical education and religious classes conducted by motivational speakers.

Maidam Sponsors Poor And Orphans For Pre-Diploma Programme

KUALA TERENGGANU, April 20 (Bernama) -- Five hundred poor students and orphans in Terengganu will be able to pursue pre-diploma programmes funded by the Terengganu Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (Maidam).

Maidam chief executive officer/secretary Wan Harujan Sulaiman said Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) leavers with a minimum of three credits including Bahasa Melayu, English and Mathematics were eligible to apply.

"Application forms have been distributed to the school counsellors and the closing date is April 30 for a one-semester course starting in June," he told reporters, here, Wednesday.

The course titled "Changing the Destiny of Our Children", is conducted by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), with the participants supervised by the university's lecturers.

"Maidam is expected to spend RM1 million for these 500 students," he said.

The first session was carried out with 126 SPM leavers costing Maidam RM252,000, he said, adding that eligible participants could further their studies at the diploma or degree level at UiTM.

Wan Harujan was met by reporters after a zakat collection presentation by Lembaga Tabung Haji (Tabung Haji), which was represented by its Corporate Finance and Services general manager Mohd Hisham Harun.

At the event, Tabung Haji handed over RM2,931,925.89 on behalf of its depositers in Terengganu and RM150,000 from its subsidiary company, TH Travel & Services Sdn Bhd, to Maidam representative Tengku Sri Bendahara Raja, Tengku Mustaffa Kamel.

Tricubes Berhad and 1Malaysia email

As you may be aware, Tricubes Bhd has been awarded the RM50m contract for the “1Malaysia email” service. But who owns Tricubes?
Let’s take a look at their Annual Report for 2010:
Major shareholders of Tricubes Berhad
As you can see, apart from CEO Khairul Zainal Mokhtar’s 31 per cent stake, Commerce Technology Ventures Sdn Bhd (CTV) owns 16 per cent of Tricubes. Who owns CTV? According to the official portal of the Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre (Mastic), CTV is a “partnership of Bank Negara Malaysia and the Commerce Group in promoting and developing technology financing in Malaysia”.
And “CTV is managed by CAV Private Equity Management Sdn Bhd, a member of the Commerce Asset-Holding Bhd group of companies.”
So who actually owns CTV? CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, as can be seen below in CIMB’s Annual Report for 2010.

Among the non-executive directors of Tricubes is Khairul’s father-in-law, former commissioner of police Zaman Khan.
Of interest is the ‘Emphasis of Matter’ in the external auditor’s report on Tricubes:
Without qualifying our opinion, we draw attention to Note 2 (b) of the notes to the financial statements. The Group incurred a net loss of RM3,346,752 and the Company recorded a net profit of RM653,582 for financial year ended 31 March 2010 and as of that date, the Group’s and the Company’s accumulated losses amounted to RM16,520,722 and RM4,938,227 respectively. These conditions indicate the existence of material uncertainties which may cast doubt on the Group and the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. The ability of the Group and of the Company to continue as going concerns depends upon the securing of viable contracts and continued support of bankers, creditors and shareholders.
Hmm, a RM50m job for a group that is clouded with “material uncertainties” that may cast doubt on its ability “to continue as a going concern”.
It is obvious the group, which has a paid up capital of just RM13.4m, is hoping to secure more government contracts. The Tricubes Chairman’s statement reads:
The Group expects to repeatedly close new orders from various banks, financial institutions and several government agencies in the next financial year for its T1030 and Sekure 3 products.
In addition, with the 10th Malaysia Plan coming into the picture, the Group is expected to enjoy a boost from greater government spending in the ICT sector. The Group’s prospective opportunities will remain generated from government agencies such as the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara, Road Transport Department and Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM), and the Group is targeting to penetrate other agencies such as the Immigration Department of Malaysia and the Ministry of Education.
The biggest question many are asking is, why do Malaysians need a new email address when most who have internet access already have one or more email addresses? And especially when you consider that many in the rural areas don’t even have internet access and in some places, not even electricity supply, let alone computers…
Who will benefit most from this RM50m project?

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN MALAYSIA trial at International Criminal Court in The Hague? Arrest P.M Najib Razak on overseas travel! – Dr. Raj Ghandhi, USA.

url pmIn this day and age it is hard to imagine a natural born child being denied a birth certificate and citizenship of a country of his/her birth. But that is exactly what happens to a Hindu child born in Malaysia. The State refuses to issue the birth certificate and keeps on finding useless and flimsy excuses. The child grows up to school age, and school refuses admission because the child does not have the birth certificate. Muslim children do not face this problem.

I was aware of some discrimination against Hindus in Malaysia who form about 7% of the population. I did not know about the wanton nature of this discrimination until I attended a lecture – presentation by Waytha Moorthy at the Global Mall in Atlanta, Georgia on the evening of 1st April, 2011, thanks to the India Awareness Foundation. My wife and I, along with everyone else in the audience were appalled with what we saw and heard that evening. How can a nation deny fundamental human rights to its own natural born citizens based on religion, and harass, physically abuse, imprison and torture them if they try to assemble peacefully and legally for a legitimate cause? On what basis does the government of Malaysia justify demolition of old Hindu temples which have been there for centuries? On what basis does it deny Hindus their right to worship and build temples?

Obviously the government of Malaysia is engaged in the practice of religious discrimination and criminal oppression of Hindu minorities.

In my view the Prime Minister and the King of Malaysia must be tried for crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court in The Hague or any other court of law, if possible. Having been successfully tried and convicted, they will become pariah in the eyes of many nations and will face the risk of possible arrest during their international travel. The publicity created by all this will be a bonus and act as a legitimate pressure on the government of Malaysia to bring about necessary reforms and restore fundamental human rights to its Hindu minorities. If no court of law is available, their crimes must be exposed fully so that they face trial in the court of public opinion. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International should take a leading role in this matter.

I admire and condone the efforts of Waytha Moorthy and others who have taken the worthy cause of fighting for their civil rights and the civil rights of fellow citizens who are being discriminated and mistreated by the government authorities. I urge the UNO and its member states to offer all possible help in this matter. I also urge the US government to exercise its political and moral authority to bring the necessary pressure to bear on the government of Malaysia to ensure long awaited civil right reforms for its minorities.

For my part, I wish Waytha Moorthy et al good luck and give them my best to succeed in this struggle. I also pray God to give Malaysian rulers some wisdom, sense of justice and fairness, and an element of conscience so that they may treat all their citizens equally, without any form of discrimination.

Raj K. Gandhi, MD (Atlanta, Georgia, USA); 16 April 2011

1 Malaysia email sparks online protests

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — The prime minister’s announcement today that every adult Malaysian will be given a 1 Malaysia email account has triggered multiple online protests by those dead set against the RM50 million project.

Like the virtual protests that mushroomed after the RM5 billion Warisan Merdeka tower was unveiled last year, the public has taken to social networking site Facebook to lash out against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s latest 1 Malaysia exercise.

Several Facebook pages have been created by Malaysians wishing to vent their anger, with the most popular so far being “1M Malaysians Who Don’t Want Najib’s 1 Malaysia Email”.

The page, which was created anonymously, has attracted 2,022 followers as of 8.05 tonight.

Its fans are united in their disgust at what they see as yet more public funds being wasted on an unnecessary service.

“RM50 million for email?? existing MP published email also can’t reply efficiently, What level of confident such will improve the effective or efficiency in communication? 1malaysia only for who? actually?” said one fan.

“Please use OUR money in the correct way, upgrade our broadband, subsidy gasoline, remove credit card tax or whatsoever! We already have our own email account (gmail/yahoo/hotmail/etc) which is free, we no need 1Malaysia email account. Totally disappointed to your motto and actions,” said another fan.

A third said: “It’s astonishing how the gov is able to frequently come out with nonsensical plans to waste our money. Malaysia Boleh!!”

Yet another fan urged Malaysians to come up with “stupid and rude” usernames like “thisplacesucks@1malaysia.com.my“ or “idontwantthisemail@1malaysia.com.my“ if the e-mail account was made mandatory.

It is not clear if the page was created by the same people behind the popular “1M Malaysians Reject 100-Storey Mega Tower” page, which has pulled in nearly 300,000 fans since its creation.

The 1 Malaysia e-mail project was also greeted with widespread derision on micro-blogging site Twitter, where #1malaysiaemail was the second-highest trending topic in Malaysia as of 8.05pm.

In addition to the #1malaysiaemail hashtag, terms like “RM50m” and “Tricubes” also made it to the list of Malaysia’s top 10 trending topics.

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) has been forced to go on damage control since the announcement was made earlier this afternoon.

Pemandu has clarified that the government will not be financing the 1 Malaysia email account and that it would not be made compulsory.

But questions remain over how Tricubes Bhd, in danger of being delisted from Bursa Malaysia due to financial irregularities, will finance the project.

Najib announced today that all Malaysians aged 18 and above will be given secure 1 Malaysia e-mail accounts that will allow direct and secure communication between the public and the government.

The account is also part of a new one-stop web portal for government services, which will include social networking features as well as online bill payment and citizen application facilities.

The Malaysia Insider understands that the 1 Malaysia email service will use software from Microsoft, the company that now owns the free Hotmail account service.

The 1 Malaysia email service is part of Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) to achieve developed nation status by 2020.

He said today that the RM50 million investment will have a gross national income (GNI) impact of RM39 million up to 2015 and will enhance delivery of public services.

Don't play up racial sentiments, Hisham tells publishers

By Hemananthani Sivanandam, The Sun

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein reminded newspapers not to play up racial sentiments.

“I want to remind newspapers, just like the voters in Sarawak, do not be excited that you can sell your paper but doing it at the expense of causing chaos in the country.

“If the country is in chaos, then you won’t even be able to sell one copy of your paper,” said Hishammuddin in a press conference in Parliament today.

He was referring to Utusan Malaysia’s columnist Awang Selamat, who said that Barisan Nasional (BN) should no longer be too “generous” as the average Chinese voters in Sarawak have rejected BN and supported the opposition.

The columnist, whose pseudonym is used by Utusan editors, said the BN state government could no longer be too generous to give place to the representatives from the community.

He added that the Sarawak cabinet must be reflective of the decisions and the attitude of the voters.

Hishammuddin said that regardless of the publication, the sentiments are similar.

“Utusan also in other editions speak in other ways, the same with The Star, they talk about the same sentiments. I've been monitoring the Chinese papers and it's worse,” he added.

Commenting on the results of the recently-concluded 10th Sarawak state election, Hishammuddin said Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Sarawak (PBB) should find a way to help Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP).

SUPP, the second biggest party in the Sarawak BN coalition suffered severe loss when it won only six out of the 19 seats contested.

Its president Tan Sri George Chan was the biggest casualty in the polls.

Hishammuddin, who is also an Umno vice-president, said BN is being tested but it should not let such matters break up the coalition.

“The different component parties in the coalition sort out difficult issues together, unlike the opposition who are seen to be together but have different aspirations,” said Hishammuddin.

Building Malaysia in London

IS the Federal Constitution secular or Islamic? Are the prime minister’s New Economic Model and Government Transformation Programme all they are cracked up to be? And what about corruption in Malaysia? Big questions, these, with discussions amongst politicians often ending up bitter, polemical and unyielding. Not to mention the name-calling, character assassinations and government muzzling of critical individuals and organisations.
PAN logo
PAN logo (all pics courtesy of UKEC)
Therefore, it was with great curiosity and slight apprehension that I accepted an invitation to speak at the United Kingdom and Eire Council of Malaysian Students (UKEC)’s Projek Amanat Negara (PAN). Held in London, PAN aims to “spur intellectual discourse amongst Malaysian youth studying in the United Kingdom and Ireland”. Thus, on 9 Apr 2011, I walked into the halls of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Green Park at 8am to be greeted by an army of bright-faced Malaysian students in business suits.
How would the students fare when discussing the “big issues” of our nation? I must confess that during my own undergraduate days in Melbourne, Australia in the late 1990s, it was, shall we say, difficult to drag me to any conference of Malaysian students. Not so with PAN. PAN (and UKEC) confirmed that my excitement and optimism about Malaysia and Malaysians are justified, albeit with a need for more empirical confirmation. Let me explain.
Pan-Malaysian solidarity
Dzulkefly
Dzulkefly Ahmad
First of all, how could I not love a group of bubbly young Malaysian students who took such pains to organise a day-long conference as their commitment to nation-building? And this was not some Biro Tatanegara-type camp. This was a conference explicitly discussing whether the Federal Constitution is secular or Islamic, where the country’s economy is headed, and what to expect in the next general election. And UKEC invited the likes of PAS’s Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, former Kedah Menteri Besar and Umno vice president Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, and human rights activist Edmund Bon of LoyarBurok andMyConstitution fame to share their candid views.
Sure, these discussions did get tense, not least because of the presence of a few older, critical Malaysian migrants to London who locked horns with a few speakers. But my commentary is not concerned with them. What I found remarkable throughout this event was how younger Malaysians, students all, listened calmly to all the ideas being discussed, and then asked pointed and critical questions of their own.
Edmund Bon (left) with Tai Zee How
Edmund Bon (left) with Tai Zee How
And for Malaysians who advocate an inclusive Malaysia that embraces diversity, the UKEC, which represents over 6,500 Malaysian students, provides an encouraging model of participation and leadership. The names of UKEC’s office bearers embody the functioning diversity of the group — the chairperson is a Farquar Haqqani, his deputy is a Tai Zee How, one of their vice-presidents is a Roshan Mark Singh Sidhu, and the editor of their magazine is a Natasha Su Sivarajah. Aren’t these wonderfully Malaysian names? Besides, I could also detect ideological diversity among the students there, which is noteworthy.
To check whether this was diversity imposed from the top down, I tried to hang out in the hallways and listen to conversations in between sessions. I also made it a point to lepak with the student organisers after the conference. The young men and women I hung out with were not only comfortable being Malaysian, with the delicious elasticity and ambiguity that the concept entails, but they were also hilarious. They had a sense of humour, and if we want to see sustainable change in Malaysia, I believe we also need to be able to laugh with each other good-naturedly.
Broken sociological record
Why am I so excited about a bunch of urban, elite young Malaysians, you might ask? That’s a valid question – most of the current UKEC bunch consists of bright young things who are studying under impressive state and corporate scholarships. How representative are they of general trends in Malaysian society? But can we define what “representative” means? Or you might ask, will they not eventually get co-opted by The System? My question is: can we define “co-optation” and “The System”?
Temple from Brickfields
Hindu temple (© Lainie Yeoh)
See, the issues of such sombre and current importance in Malaysia have been there for at least the past four decades. Back in 1976, social scientistDaniel Regan was already hinting, through empirical research, that race and religion would only become more politicised in post-independence Malaysia. Anthropologist Prof (Emeritus) Judith Nagatacorroborated Regan’s observations in 1980, observing for instance that Hindu temples were being attacked in West Malaysia in the late 1970s by advocates of a certain brand of Islamism.
So, the tensions we are seeing in Malaysia now with regard to authoritarian government and racial and religious tensions are not exactly new. What is arguably new is the emergence of voluntary organisations composed of a young and diverse assembly of Malaysians, such as UKEC. As Regan observed in 1976, “Mixed or integrated societies [in Malaysia] are scarce, and those that exist are less stable than those formed along strict religio-ethnic lines.” This is one of the reasons why he was not optimistic that trans-religious and trans-ethnic solidarities could organically emerge in Malaysian society. Thirty-five years on, I wonder if I have caught a glimmer of exactly the kind of trans-religious and trans-ethnic relationships that eluded Regan’s findings.
Measured optimism
Of course, I admit that this is hardly evidence of a revolution in the making. Besides, there are issues that UKEC needs to work out as well. For example, how is it going to grow women leaders within its ranks, and how is it going to ensure gender balance among its panel speakers in the future? How is it going to create connections with other Malaysian students back in Malaysia or in other countries? However, based not only on PAN as it was officially presented and documented, but also on the sorts of informal interactions and relationships I observed, I have faith.
PAN organising committee
PAN's organising committee
My faith does not rest on UKEC alone — let’s not endow it with messianic and millenialist powers it does not and should not have. What I mean to say is I’ve seen these dynamics before among other configurations of younger Malaysians. However, my examples must remain merely anecdotal for now. Furthermore, some of us who have observed these dynamics where diversity was celebrated,  might have thought they were one-off or inconsequential. And who could blame us for thinking these are isolated and inconsequential moments when the news headlines and political blog posts are often so depressing and bitter?
Here’s the thing, though: depressing news is important. It forces us to reckon with the journey Malaysia needs to take to become a truly just and democratic society. But if we fixate only on the depressing and allow ourselves to become embittered, we miss out on other interesting and hopeful developments that, frankly, are not headline material, such as UKEC’s PAN event. These are no less important developments, because they tell us that the nation can be built and continues getting built regardless of an environment of enduringly rubbish politics.

Skandal Scorpene: Suaram Lantik Hakim Bebas di Perancis

Dari Kerajaan Rakyat

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) pada mesyuarat 18 April lalu, memutuskan untuk melantik seorang hakim bebas di Mahkamah Perancis bagi membicarakan kes dakwaan rasuah pembelian dua kapal selam Scorpene oleh kerajaan Malaysia.
Pengarah Urusetia Suaram, Cynthia Gibrael, berkata tiga peguam yang mewakili Suaram, Joseph Breham, William Bourdon dan Renaud Semerdjian telah dimaklumkan untuk mendapatkan seorang hakim bebas di Perancis bagi mengendalikan kes itu.

“Siapa hakim bebas itu, akan diketahui dalam dua tiga minggu lagi,” kata Cynthia hari ini.

“Sama ada mereka yang terlibat ada di Perancis atau di negara luar tidak timbul kerana mahkamah boleh menggunakan pelbagai peruntukan antarabangsa untuk memanggil saksi bagi memberi keterangan,” kata peguam itu.Melalui pelantikan hakim bebas itu, beliau berkata, mahkamah Perancis akan diberi kuasa untuk memanggil atau mendapat maklumat dari mereka yang terlibat untuk diambil keterangan.

Awal april lalu, laman web Rue89 berpangkalan di Perancis mendedahkan kes mahkamah di negara itu yang menjalankan pendakwaan berhubung bayaran komisyen pembelian dua kapal selam Scorpene antara Armaris dengan Perimekar Sdn Bhd.
Armaris merupakan syarikat pembina kapal selam kelas diesel jenis Scorpene yang juga anak syarikat firma pertahanan Gergasi Perancis, DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) dengan usahasama firma Sepanyol Agosta.

Perimekar Sdn Bhd adalah syarikat milik isteri Abdul Razak Baginda, Mazlinda Makhzan. Abdul Razak yang terlepas dari kes pembunuhan kejam warga Monggolia, Altantuya Shaariibuu pada 2006.

Abdul Razak adalah bekas penasihat kepada Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Dalam keterangan Rue89, Armaris membuat kenyataan tidak pernah terlibat membayar Perimekar Sdn Bhd 114 juta Euro (RM493.53 juta) tetapi sebenarnya ia dibayar kerajaan Malaysia sendiri.

Perjanjian pembelian dua kapal selam Scorpene bernilai berbillion dollar itu dimeterai Najib selaku Menteri Pertahanan pada 2002.

Pada April tahun lalu, seorang ahli perundangan Perancis, Joseph Breham menfail aduan di mahkamah Perancis berhubung skandal pembelian dua kapal selam Scorpene kepada kerajaan Malaysia.

Mengikut perundangan Perancis, amalan memberi komisyen adalah jenayah berat.

Hot Money Flows Again in Asia

Image(Asia Sentinel) Foreign portfolio investors stir the pot once again

It is not just China that has been experiencing massive increases in money supply propelled by inward flows of money. Most of Southeast Asia is seeing the same phenomenon.

But what happens when the music stops? There now seems little likelihood that the US Federal Reserve will go for another round of so-called quantitative easing – buying US government bonds. And though US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke seems set on keeping interest rates well below inflation to help bail out banks and mortgaged households, the threat of downgrading of US debt just issued by S&P may force caution and push up rates.

So where will this leave Asian countries that have allowed their currencies to rise by 5-10 percent over the past year but have still been intervening to cool the upturns and in the process seen steep increases in their foreign exchange reserves and, as a consequence, in their money supplies? A part of the rise in reserves has been due to the appreciation of the euro, in which a minor part of reserves is held, against the dollar.

But this impact is small compared with actual inflows. These have proportionately been bigger in Southeast Asia than for China. In turn they have been behind mostly buoyant stock markets. Taiwan too, despite controls, has seen its reserves gain US$30 billion to US$392 billion in the past six months – though proportionately this has been insufficient to give a major boost to money supply.

But look at the numbers elsewhere. Between August 2010 and March this year Singapore's foreign exchange reserves rose by US$27 billion, or 13 percent, to US$233 billion, making an annual gain of US$36 billion. That is a huge amount even by Singapore standards of reserve accumulation. Given that Singapore's M1 money supply is a mere S$114 billion it is no surprise that even after sterilization efforts M1 has grown at 19 percent over the past year. Even M2 in Singapore is only roughly two thirds of foreign reserves.

Malaysia shows an even more remarkable performance – at least for a country that normally sees large-scale net inflows of short-term capital. The latter item has moved roughly into balance so with the country continuing to run a current surplus of some US$30 billion there has been a huge rise in official reserves – from US$95 billion last August to US$113.8 billion in March. Again, this is reflected in M1 growth of 13 percent in just six months or an annualized rate of 27 percent. Unless there is a sharp fall in export prices, the Malaysian ringgit, now at 3.02 to the dollar seems likely to continue to appreciate back to its pre-Asian crisis level of around 2.6 or even higher.

The story is repeated in Thailand where reserves hit US$184.6 billion in April, up from US$150 million level in mid-2010. While Thailand continues to run a healthy current account surplus, the surge has been mainly due to short-term capital flows. M2 has also spurted and is running at an annualized 20 percent. Thailand is now pushing up interest rates but that may simply encourage more inflows, at least until the market perceives that the baht is no longer undervalued – it is at 30 to the dollar and creeping towards its 1997 level – 25.5 to the dollar. But even that would be 30 percent below its level then when measured by the real effective rate which takes account of trade weights and relative inflation.

Even the Philippines has been seeing big net inflows, pushing the reserves up dramatically from US$49 billion last August to US$66 billion today with the central bank appearing to prefer accumulation to a further rise in the peso, which is up by 5 percent over the past year. The impact on money supply has been less marked than elsewhere but even so M1 is up 12 percent on an annual basis.

These numbers suggest that while Southeast Asian markets are not expensive by current global standards they are at risk either of a sharp reduction in flows if the US ceases to be so profligate, of domestic interest rises to counter inflation and deter real estate speculation, or of the impact on export earnings either of a sharp setback to commodity prices or significant additional currency appreciation. And however good their fundamentals may be compared with Europe, or the US or China, they are particularly sensitive to the skittishness of foreign portfolio investors.

Gerakan Vice-President Says BN Politicians Should Learn From PM's 'Touch Points'

KOTA KINABALU, April 19 (Bernama) -- Gerakan Vice-President Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah said Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians should learn from the emphasis of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on providing 'touch points' for the people to gain their support.

Najib's thought leadership, policies and presence in Sarawak were described as the major factors in helping BN retain a two-thirds majority in the recent state election.

"It is important that in whatever we do, it (the action) should reach out and touch them (the voters)," he told reporters here today when asked to comment on the results of the election.

Tan said BN politicians could learn a lot from the Sarawak election, especially in asking themselves whether they had done enough to resolve issues raised by the people.

"Probably, not enough. We cannot make assumptions that we have done enough," he added.

Tan said the decision by some voters in Sarawak to vote for Opposition parties should be accepted and that the swing in support for the Opposition had to do with dissatisfaction over unfulfilled needs of the people.

"We had seen a lot of things in our trips to Sarawak (during the campaign). At the back of my mind, there was a sentiment of unhappiness and frustration...that certain things that needed to be done, was not done," he said.

Tan, who is also Sabah Industrial Development Minister, noted that the wave favouring the Opposition did not just sweep over urban areas but also beyond such areas as could be seen from the sizeable number of votes obtained by the Opposition elsewhere.

"I don't want to single out the Chinese. It was across the board, every community, not just the Chinese voters.

"They (the voters) made their decision. There must be a reason for them to vote in this particular manner. They are not just looking at Sarawak (issues). Their mind was open, they were looking at various issues in the country."

But Tan also said that the Opposition capitalised on the people's frustration in an aggressive manner, literally.

"They (the Opposition) were also very well-prepared. They planned everything, were very organised, very detailed -- we should learn something from Sarawak. I learnt," he said.