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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gerakan man: Ban ‘em, charge ‘em

Baljit Singh wants the authorities to throw the book at Perkasa's leaders, and charge them with various offences.

GEORGE TOWN: A Gerakan leader today called on the government to ban Malay organisation Perkasa and charge its leaders with sedition, among others.Penang Gerakan legal and human rights bureau head Baljit Singh said the government cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the threats posed by Perkasa against national security and unity.

“Perkasa must be outlawed immediately because it threatens the nation’s peace and harmony.

“Its leaders should be slapped with charges of sedition, criminal intimidation, disruption of peace and harmony and severe violations of human rights.

“Enough is enough! It’s time to put Perkasa and its leaders in the dock,” he told FMT.

Baljit was referring to Perkasa’s demonstration outside the MCA headquarters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday against the party for criticising the Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia.

During the protest, Perkasa activists allegedly warned about a repeat of the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

‘Backing from a political forceBaljit said that Perkasa was actually inciting violence in the country by raising the spectre of the racial clash.

“That’s a threat to the nation’s security and unity, and amounts to criminal intimidation. The government can’t go on allowing this racist element in society,” he added.

Baljit pointed out that the government had always been swift in taking uncompromising action against other human rights organisations, such as Hindraf Makkal Sakti.

Therefore, he said, Putrajaya cannot be seen as practising double standards in the application of law and administration of justice.

Baljit pointed out that Malaysia, besides Saudi Arabia, had created a world record by charging 54 human rights activists from a single organisation (Hindraf) for merely protesting against the Interlok novel.

Moreover, he pointed out that the government and police were swift in thwarting Hindraf’s anti-Interlok march on Feb 20.

However, he was puzzled why the authorities did not respond with the same speed to quell the Perkasa protest.

“It seems Perkasa has immunity from the law,” he said.

The Gerakan leader also noted that at times Perkasa’s character and behaviour seemed to suggest that it had “strong backing from a major political force in the country.”

Although Baljit did not elaborate, it was obvious that he was referring to Umno.

However, he believed that the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers would uphold their professionalism in dealing with Perkasa.

“All Malaysians hope the police and AG will be swift, fair and just in enforcing the law. Many Malaysians will want Perkasa to be banned and its leaders charged,” he said.

U.N. panel: Sri Lanka war crimes allegations credible

United Nations (CNN) -- A United Nations panel has found credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides during the final stages of Sri Lanka's armed conflict, according to a U.N. report released Monday.

The three-member panel recommends the government of Sri Lanka immediately conduct an investigation into the alleged violations of international law and take other measures to "advance accountability."

In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman said Ban "sincerely hopes that this advisory report will make a contribution to full accountability and justice so that the Sri Lankan government and people will be able to proceed towards national reconciliation and peace."

Human rights groups have already alleged that both government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels violated humanitarian laws and that thousands of civilians were killed during the war, which ended in May 2009 after the government declared victory.

The rebels had fought a 26-year bloody separatist war that left thousands dead and large numbers of others internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

The U.N. panel started investigating in September 2010 and submitted its report April 12, the United Nations said. The decision to release the report now was made in order to be transparent and serve the public interest, Ban's spokesman said.

Sri Lanka's government "strongly rejected" the report by what it called an "illegal advisory committee." In a response posted last week on the country's official government news portal, it called the report "biased, baseless, and unilateral."

The report focuses on the final phase of the military campaign to defeat the rebels, a phase that has been shrouded in controversy in part because local and international media were barred access to the battle zones.

Sri Lanka's government and the rebels have denied war crimes allegations. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also said "not one civilian was shot dead" by government troops.

The panel, however, said its findings reveal "a very different version" of events than that maintained by the government.

It said it found "credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international humanitarian rights law was committed both by the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (rebels), some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."

In the final stage of the war, which lasted from September 2008 to May 2009, the Sri Lankan army advanced into an area of northern Sri Lanka known as the Vanni, where about 330,000 were trapped.

The report said the government used "large-scale and widespread shelling" that left large numbers of civilians dead.

Some of the shelling happened in no-fire zones where the government had encouraged civilians to congregate, the report said. Government forces also shelled a U.N. hub, food distribution lines, and near ships belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross that were picking up the wounded and their relatives from beaches, the report said.

The government also shelled hospitals on the front lines, some of them repeatedly, the report said.

"Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling," it said.

While screening civilians for suspected rebels, some were summarily executed and some of the women may have been raped, the report said. Others disappeared, and some of those detained in camps were tortured, it added.

The rebels, meanwhile, used civilians as hostages or human shields during the fighting, the report found. Tamil Tiger rebels also used forced recruitment -- including of children as young as 14 -- and forced civilians to dig trenches and other military positions, blurring the distinction between combatants and civilians and exposing the latter to further harm, it said.

Starting in February 2009, the rebels also started "point-blank shooting of civilians" who tried to flee the conflict zone, the report found.

Sri Lanka's president has already appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, saying it would be sufficient to investigate allegations of war crimes, but the U.N. panel called the commission "deeply flawed" and ineffective.

"The government's notion of accountability is not in accordance with international standards," the panel said.

Instead, the panel recommended the government start "genuine investigations" into the allegations.

It also said Sri Lanka should take other immediate measures including facilitating the recovery and return of human remains to their families: provide death certificates for the dead and missing; release all displaced people and facilitate their return; and disclose the fate and location of people reported to have been "forcibly disappeared."

For suspected rebels, the panel said, the government should publish the names of all those detained; allow detainees regular access to family members and legal counsel, and either charge or release detainees.

The United Nations itself did not escape some criticism. The panel recommended a review of U.N. actions during and after the war, looking at how it implemented humanitarian and protection mandates.

Ban's spokesman said he would "respond positively" to that recommendation.

‘Umno has ditched MCA’

The Chinese community sees MCA as powerless in the Barisan Nasional coalition, say political analysts.

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has lost its relevance and it is surviving only because it is riding piggy-back on Umno, political analyst James Chin said.

He added that even this perception was recently shattered.

When Malay right-wing group Perkasa protested outside the MCA headquarters yesterday, nobody from Umno came in support of MCA, said Chin, from Monash University.

He said the Perkasa protest against MCA holds larger and deeper significance as far as Umno-MCA relations is concerned in that it reinforces the “petty” role played by the Chinese-based party in the ruling coalition.

“The big problem is that the Chinese community sees MCA as powerless in Barisan Nasional (BN). They see MCA as providing cover to Umno which can claim to have a multiracial government when in fact BN is Umno and Umno is BN,” he told FMT.

MCA, the second largest and a senior BN component, is attempting to rebrand itself under current president Dr Chua Soi Lek. Chua is trying to do away with the notion that his party is submissive to Umno in the coalition.

Chua has embarked on a crusade to restore MCA’s image as champions of the Chinese, often crossing swords with Umno’s top echelons and upsetting Perkasa, whose members are made up of Umno’s supporters.

Perkasa and Umno’s constant harping on communal sentiments to maintain its Malay powerbase is the reason behind MCA’s waning appeal, claimed Chua.

This includes the constant attack by Umno’s mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia on the Chinese community for continuing to support the opposition.

Chua blasted Utusan as “extremists” and racists, striking a raw nerve that forced Perkasa to rally in Utusan’s defence.

Chin said that one notable point in the ongoing MCA-Perkasa row is the absence of Umno in defending its senior coalition partner.

While Umno’s top guns have distanced themselves from Perkasa and Utusan, none have backed MCA’s condemnation of the two.

“The Perkasa demonstration outside MCA headquarters sends the message that Umno will not defend MCA if MCA challenges Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

“MCA’s strategy of speaking out will not work as it reinforced the view that it has no power in the government.
“It is no coincidence that some in the Chinese community call them Umno’s running dogs,” said the political analyst.

Nothing will change

With only 15 seats in Parliament, all won on Malay support, MCA is in no position to bargain, rendering its rebranding efforts useless and its political future bleak, said Khoo Kay Peng, a political scientist with think-tank SEDAR.

MCA loyalists have praised Chua and his party’s attempt to reconcile with the Chinese electorate but Khoo said such effort is merely staged to save MCA from complete humiliation, given that the party survives only on Umno’s political courtesy.

“Nothing is going to happen,” Khoo told FMT when asked how MCA plans to deal with Umno’s connection with Perkasa and its communal rhetoric via its mouthpiece Utusan.

“MCA will find it hard to get out of the box. The party will back away. Going against Umno is going against government policies,” he added.

Khoo’s statement resembles that of the DAP’s, which has challenged the party to quit BN if it was against Umno’s alleged racist politics. To stay with BN is to support what the DAP labels as racially discriminative policies.

Khoo, however, noted that racial politics bears little weight now as Malaysia’s electorate, especially urban voters, are wise to the ways of the ruling party.

It’s all about good governance and equitable policies which means that if BN implements complete and thorough reform, it could see a return of support regardless of race.

“If you put the money back in their pockets, they will come back,” he said.

Adun BN mencarut dalam sidang Dun Negeri Sembilan

Kekecohan itu berlaku gara-gara tindakan Adun BN-Sungai Lui Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad mengeluarkan perkataan "p*****".

SEREMBAN: Sidang Dewan Undangan Negeri (Dun) Negeri Sembilan ke 12 hari ini menjadi kecoh dan berlaku insiden bertikam lidah apabila seorang Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) dari Barisan Nasional (BN) mencarut.

Kekecohan itu gara-gara tindakan Adun BN-Sungai Lui Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad mengeluarkan perkataan “p*****” ketika sesi perbahasan titah Yang Dipertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan awal pagi tadi.

Semuanya bermula apabila Teo Kok Seong (DAP-Bahau) berkata kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat menang di beberapa negeri seperti Selangor, Kedah, Pulau Pinang dan Kelantan namun hanya di Perak ia dirampas oleh “lanun-lanun”.

Komen Teo kemudian mendapat reaksi berbeza daripada Zainal Abidin yang bangun dan mengeluarkan perkataan mencarut dan menghina itu. Gara-gara tindakan Zainal Abidin itu, sidang Dun mula kecoh selama tujuh minit.

Wakil rakyat Pakatan M Ravi (PKR-Port Dickson) membantah perkataan mencarut itu dan mahu ia ditarik balik memandangkan tindakan tersebut memberi penghinaan kepada kaum India.

Ini diikuti Cha Kee Chin (DAP-Bukit Kepayang) yang mahu Speaker Dewan Datuk Razak Mansor mengeluarkan arahan agar Zainal Abidin diperintah keluar dewan.

Menurut Cha, tindakan Zainal Abidin itu bukan kali pertama kerana beliau pernah mengeluarkan kata-kata kesat pada sidang Dun yang lalu.

Namun Razak berkata beliau tidak mendengar perkataan itu dikeluarkan oleh Zainal Abidin manakala Datuk Yunus Rahmat (BN- Klawang) kemudian mendakwa Teo adalah punca kekecohan itu berlaku.

Teo membalas bahawa dalam kamus Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka lanun membawa maksud “merampas”.

MIC candidates: Sweeping changes expected

MIC chief G Palanivel is expected to make sweeping changes to the party's candidates to be fielded in the next general election.

KUALA LUMPUR : MIC president G Palanivel is expected to make sweeping changes to the party’s candidates list for the next general election.

MIC sources revealed that Palanivel has set his sights on the next general election and all efforts are not spared in ensuring candidates from the largest Indian-based political party in the country wins back the seats its lost in the 2008 general election.

Top in the list of preparation is the party’s list of nine parliamentary and 19 state assembly candidates, and sources said Palanivel will wield his axe on several top guns in the party while providing space for the younger blood to take over.

“The top leadership has already drafted an unofficial list of candidates… leaders aligned to Palanivel have been given the go ahead to start work in specific constituencies like setting up service centres or building rapport with local leaders be it from Umno, MCA or MIC,” said a leader who did not want to be identified.

The party’s nine parliamentary seats are Tapah, Sungai Siput (both in Perak), Cameron Highlands (Pahang), Teluk Kemang (Negeri Sembilan), Kota Raja, Kapar, Subang, Hulu Selangor (Selangor) and Segamat (Johor).

The party’s candidates lost six parliamentary seats in 2008. MIC only won the Tapah, Cameron Highlands and Segamat seats in that election. The party recaptured the Hulu Selangor seat in a subsequent by-election.

Palanivel, who became party chief in December 2010, is said to be eyeing the Sungai Siput or Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituencies.

Palanivel who is now a deputy minister was appointed by virtue of being made a senator.

He was a three term MP for Hulu Selangor before his shocking loss in the 2008 general election. In the subsequent by-election held in the constituency, Barisan Nasional decided to drop Palanivel in favour of P Kamanathan, the MIC Putera coordinator.

“He has to contest a parliamentary seat if he wants to be a minister. Palanivel himself has announced that the party’s senatorship term will only be for one term. This applies to him as well.

“So to be appointed cabinet minister he has to contest a seat. For the time being we in the party believe only these two seats can save the president from another embarrassing defeat,” a source told FMT.

Samy Vellu’s bastion

However, the source also pointed out that retaking Sungai Siput, the former bastion of ex-MIC president S Samy Vellu, from the opposition will not be easy.

“Palanivel has to face challenges thrown by the opposition but he has to also soothe the feelings of hardcore (former president S) Samy Vellu supporters who are still very loyal to the former president,” he said.

It is however learnt that Samy Vellu has other plans for the seat. He has been sending veiled messages to the MIC top leadership that he wants Youth chief T Mohan to contest there.

“If Palanivel refuses to give the seat to Mohan and contests, then Samy Vellu will ensure Palanivel loses in the constituency,” said a source, adding that Palanivel’s latest actions indicated that he “is planning to kill Mohan’s political career.”

The source also pointed out that Palanivel can “checkmate” his former boss, if he picks Samy Vellu’s son and MIC publicity and communication chief Vell Paari as candidate for the seat.

“With Vell Paari in the fray, Samy Vellu will be forced to throw his backing for his son although Vell Paari is now aligned to Palanivel and working against the interest of his father,” he said.

Party observers feel that the chances of Palanivel winning the Teluk Kemang seat is considerably higher compared to Sungai Siput due to obvious reasons.

Palanivel, it is learnt, has promised the Teluk Kemang seat to former MIC secretary general T Rajagopalu as a trade off for vacating the secretary-general position.

Rajagopalu, was replaced by S Murugessan as the new secretary-general, while the former was appointed as Negeri Sembilan MIC chief last month.

“The party president will most probably go for Teluk Kemang. He will definitely not give the seat to S Sothinathan,” said the source.

Sothinathan, the former MIC vice president, is a known close confidante of Samy Vellu. He was a two-term MP for Teluk Kemang before losing the seat in the 2008 general election.

The Tapah seat, now held by party vice-president and Federal Territory and Urban Well-Being Deputy Minister M Saravanan is also said to be going through some problems.

Sources revealed that Perak state assembly speaker R Ganesan is targeting the seat.

According to the unofficial list prepared by Palanivel, Murugesan has been named to contest in Subang, former senator S Ravichandran in Kapar and M Mohana, a MIC central working committee member, in Kota Raja.

In a related development, the Cameron Highlands MP S K Devamany, who is also MIC vice president and deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, is trying hard to convince the leadership to allow him to contest the seat.

It is learnt that the seat will not be contested by a DAP candidate for the opposition as in the past but replaced with a PKR man and this will make it hard for Devamany to win the seat.

“The leadership wants a fresh face but Devamany is not budging,” said the source.

From the looks of it, only incumbent MPs Dr S Subramaniam (Segamat and Human Resources Minister) and Kamalanathan are save bets to contest their respective parliamentary seats.

MIC slams Perkasa’s ‘May 13′ warning

MIC says Perkasa has the right to defend the Malays, but it must not cross the boundaries of civility, whereas Hindraf accuses the authorities of double standard.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC has condemned Perkasa’s warning of another racial bloodletting in the country and urged the authorities to act against those who threatened national security.

Commenting on the movement’s protest outside the MCA headquarters yesterday, MIC publicity and communication chief S Vell Paari slammed Perkasa for making such provocative remarks.

He also questioned why the authorites appeared to be blind to Perkasa’s dangerous antics, asking if some movements had immunity and were regarded as being above the law.

“If Perkasa wants to protect the rights of the Malay community, that is fair. MIC does this for the Indians and MCA for the Chinese. But Perkasa must not cross the line of civility.

“Time and again, Perkasa leaders have made statements which undermine national security or in other words, statements which would have landed others under the Internal Security Act,” he said.

Vell Paari noted that in the past, Hindraf leaders, who staged a mammoth protest for the rights of the Indian community, were switfly labelled as subversive elements and locked up.

“Hindraf was regarded as an extremist outfit by the powers-that-be. The movement was banned and five of its leaders held under ISA. Isn’t Perkasa pushing the envelope too far as well?” he asked.

Perkasa had staged the protest to defend the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia after the daily was criticised by MCA leaders over its racially-slanted articles.

In the aftermath of the Sarawak state polls, which saw the Chinese community backing the opposition, Utusan had termed the Chinese as ingrates.

‘Government cannot distance itself’

Vell Paari warned that the government cannot distance itself from the actions of Perkasa and Utusan.

“Whatever said and done, Utusan is seen to be Umno-owned or Umno-linked, so naturally the people will get the wrong impression that its views received the sanction of its political masters.

“We cannot say that papers have the freedom to report when other publications have received warnings in the past for highlighting certain sensitive racial issues,” he said.

The MIC leader stressed that certain Umno leaders were also seen to be sympathetic towards Perkasa, and had even graced some of its events.

“While Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is working hard to make his 1Malaysia concept work, some quarters appear hell-bent on wanting time to remain still vis-a-vis May 13, 1969.

“Yes, the PM’s critics claim that 1Malaysia is just sugar-coated words, but we must understand that if it is said in the Bible that God himself took seven days to create earth, what more Najib, a mere mortal. He needs more time to realise his concept.

“But certain forces insist on burning the bridges and with the likes of them around, even 700 years would not be enough to bring us together,” he said.

Vell Paari also warned that Perkasa’s actions could undermine the economy as foreign investors would consider Malaysia a “racial timebomb”.

“If the FDI (foreign direct invesment) runs dry, even Utusan and Perkasa would be in a financial quandary,” he said, reminding them that both India and China were economic superpowers.

“So instead of trying to drive a wedge between the communities, they must use the Indians and Chinese to bring up this country. When the rest of the world cannot put a lid on the rise of India and China, does Perkasa think it could control us?” he added.

Vell Paari also pointed out that Malaysia was roping in investments from India and China using its cultural ties with the two nations.

“Like it ot not, after more than five decades of independence, we have become inter-dependent and one race cannot exist without the other.

“Gone are the days of threatening people. In this era of globalisation, it does not matter who has more parangs, it is economic strength which matters. The reality is that the Chinese wield the greatest economic strength in Malaysia. So is Perkasa prepared for an economic war?” he asked.

Quoting former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s accusation after the Sarawak election that DAP was separating the Chinese from the rest, Vell Paari said that Perkasa was doing the same with regard to the Malays.

‘One rule for them, one rule for others’

Meanwhile, Hindraf-Makkal Sakti leader P Uthayakumar also condemned the authorities for making “selective arrests” and pursuing “selective prosecutions”.

The former ISA detainee said in February, the police had swooped down on Hindraf activists when the movement organised a nationwide convoy in protest of the Interlok novel.

Following this, Uthayakumar said 123 people, including himself, were detained over the peaceful protest against the Interlok held in the city centre.

“The authorities then charged 54 Hindraf activists with being members of a banned movement. It was pointed out by an international human rights organisation that apart from Saudi Arabia, only in Malaysia were people charged with being members of a human rights NGO,” he told FMT.

On April 13, Uthayakumar said, Hindraf secretary P Ramesh was “rounded up and assaulted” by policemen when he participated in a peaceful protest outside the Perak State Legislative Assembly.

The lawyer said that in 2007, when he penned a letter to then British prime minister Gordon Brown on ethnic cleansing, where he mentioned the May 13 incident, he was charged with sedition.

“I am facing the prospect of a three-year jail term for this,” he added.

However, Uthayakumar said that when Perkasa threatened death and violence with a repeat of the May 13 incident, nobody was arrested.

“Article 8 of the Federal Constitution provides for equality before the law. This is double standard, there appears to be one rule for them, and another rule for others,” he added.

The police’s non-action, according to Uthayakumar, lent legitimacy to the Ketuanan Melayu or Malay supremacy concept.

“If it is a Malay issue, it is above the law. Perkasa is above the law whereas groups like Hindraf are victims of the law,” he said.

Sodomy II: Anwar to know his fate on May 16

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here set May 16 to deliver its decision whether Anwar Ibrahim will be called to enter his defence or acquited over his sodomy charge.Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah made the decision here today at the end of the prosecution’s case. Yesterday, the prosecution told the High Court the DNA profile of “Male Y” found in the anus of complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan belonged to Anwar.

The 63-year-old opposition leader is charged with sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful, 25, at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

- Bernama

Apabila orang tidak faham bahasa

Ramai yang tidak tahu topik perbincangan tetapi mahu tampil sebagai wira dan memberikan reaksi.

Hidup memang ceria apabila kita dikelilingi pelbagai golongan manusia. Tuhan memang menciptakan kita berbeza-beza dan hakikat itu wajib diakui; tanpa mengira kaum dan agama.

Atas dasar itulah juga saya sentiasa terus bersabar apabila terpaksa “berhadapan” dengan pelbagai kerenah dan karenah yang dibawakan pelbagai lapisan manusia.

Terbaru, dalam perbincangan berkaitan kedudukan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa milik seluruh Bangsa Malaysia – sebagai bahasa rasmi, bahasa kebangsaan, bahasa ilmu, bahasa komunikasi dan bahasa perpaduan di negara bertuah ini.

Bagi membantu pemahaman manusia yang “pelbagai” dari segi tahap pemahaman dan penguasaan bahasa kebangsaan, elok saya berikan ringkasan kisah yang berlaku mengikut kronologi.

[Sila maklum juga bahawa seseorang yang dilahirkan dalam kaum tertentu dan bahasa ibundanya adalah bahasa tertentu, tidak bermakna individu itu secara automatik mempunyai tahap pemahaman dan penguasaan tinggi dalam bahasa itu.]

Pada 31 Mac 2011, nampaknya akhbar Makkal Osai menyiarkan satu berita mengenai “Kamus Dewan mengandungi perkataan yang menyinggung perasaan kaum India”.

Saya bukan pembaca setia akhbar Tamil itu dan tidak juga berpeluang membaca berita berkenaan yang khabarnya disiarkan pada 31 Mac.

Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) hanya mendapat maklumat mengenai perkara itu apabila dimaklumkan oleh seorang “rakan” di Facebook baru-baru ini mengenai jawapan yang diberikan oleh Unit Komunikasi Korporat, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia di portal rasmi kementerian berkenaan.

Bahagian yang memberikan kejutan terbesar kepada Kavyan adalah seperti berikut:

“Kamus Dewan terbitan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka disusun berasaskan perkataan-perkataan yang digunakan oleh pengguna bahasa Melayu [sic], termasuklah perkataan-perkataan yang bersumberkan bahasa-bahasa lain seperti bahasa sukuan atau etnik, bahasa Inggeris, China [sic], Sanskrit, Tamil, Belanda, Arab dan sebagainya”.

“Sehubungan dengan perkataan-perkataan dalam bahasa Melayu [sic] yang terdapat dalam kamus-kamus bahasa Melayu terbitan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, ia hendaklah dilihat dari kaca mata bangsa Melayu, dan bukan dari kaca mata bangsa lain. … Setiap bangsa [sic] di Malaysia mesti menerima hakikat bahawa kamus bahasa Melayu mencerminkan bahasa, adat dan budaya Melayu.”

Lalu, Kavyan mengeluarkan kenyataan rasmi di blog pada 17 April 2011 kerana kecewa dengan jawapan yang diberikan oleh kementerian berkenaan.

Kavyan sedikit pun tidak berniat serta tidak berminat mahu masuk campur dalam soal apakah perkataan-perkataan yang dikatakan “menyinggung perasaan masyarakat India” dalam isu berkaitan berita yang disiarkan di akhbar Makkal Osai pada 31 Mac lalu.

Sebaliknya, seperti yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan itu yang ditulis menggunakan bahasa yang amat mudah, apa yang mengecewakan Kavyan adalah jawapan yang diberikan oleh Unit Komunikasi Korporat kementerian berkenaan ternyata cuba menafikan kedudukan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa milik seluruh Bangsa Malaysia. Sebaliknya, “memaksa” orang lain melihat serta menganggap Bahasa Malaysia (bahasa Melayu) sebagai milik kaum tertentu sahaja.

Pada pendapat Kavyan, kerajaan sepatutnya mengambil langkah “merakyatkan” Bahasa Malaysia dan bukannya “menyempitkan” bahasa kebangsaan kepada kaum tertentu. Apatah lagi dalam usaha menggalakkan generasi muda pelbagai kaum menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia dalam kehidupan seharian.

Kenyataan rasmi Kavyan turut dipetik dalam laporan yang disiarkan di portal berita The Malaysian Insider pada 17 April 2011 dan Kavyan telah mengharapkan reaksi daripada Kementerian Pelajaran bagi “membaiki” keadaan.

Sebaliknya, dalam laporan berita yang disiarkan pada 18 April, Gapena dan Pena tampil menegaskan bahawa “kandungan perkataan dalam Kamus Dewan tidak perlu dipertikaikan oleh mana-mana pihak termasuk Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan), pertubuhan mewakili penulis kaum India”.

Tentu sahaja saya amat kecewa – dan amat sedih – membaca reaksi yang agak dangkal seperti itu kerana reaksi yang cuba dikemukakan adalah reaksi terhadap apa yang dilaporkan di akhbar Makkal Osai pada 31 Mac dan bukannya reaksi terhadap kenyataan Kavyan pada 17 April.

Percanggahan pendirian juga amat jelas apabila Gapena mengakui “Bahasa Malaysia kepunyaan bangsa Malaysia … sebagai bahasa kebangsaan seluruh warga negara dan semua orang mempunyai tanggungjawab untuk memperkayakan bahasa itu”.

Dalam laporan yang sama, Pena pula berpendirian: “Apabila bercakap (mengenai) Kamus Dewan dan Bahasa Melayu, semua dilihat dari perspektif Bahasa Melayu”.

Malah, Pena juga dilaporkan berkata, “kenyataan terbaru Kavyan seolah-olah bersifat ugutan dengan tujuan agar perkataan-perkataan yang didakwa menyinggung kaum India digugurkan pula dari Kamus Dewan”.

Presiden persatuan penulis itu turut “menasihatkan Kavyan agar tidak mempertikaikan Kamus Dewan kerana ia akan mencemarkan kedaulatan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa rasmi negara” dan “Saya nasihatkan jangan nak menimbulkan huru-hara, ia nampak seolah-olah mahu menimbulkan ugutan dan hasutan”.

Tentu sahaja saya mengalami perasaan yang berbaur antara kecewa, terkejut, hairan, terkedu, ketawa dan sedih kerana reaksi yang diberikan memberi gambaran seolah-olah masih ada orang yang menghadapi masalah untuk memahami apa yang dinyatakan oleh Kavyan dalam kenyataan media yang hanya menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia yang amat mudah difahami.

Akibat daripada reaksi yang dikemukakan oleh Gapena dan Pena, muncul pula pelbagai reaksi baru di ruang siber daripada pelbagai individu yang kebanyakannya bersembunyi di sebalik identiti yang sukar dikesan.

Membaca reaksi (komen) mereka membuktikan sekurang-kurangnya tiga perkara:

Pertama, mereka hanya membaca berita yang memuatkan reaksi Gapena dan Pena.

Kedua, mereka langsung tidak membaca kenyataan asal Kavyan yang turut disiarkan di portal berita yang sama.

Ketiga, mereka menghadapai masalah memahami Bahasa Malaysia yang paling asas sekali pun.

Akibat manipulasi yang dilakukan pihak tertentu, seorang individu bernama ‘Subari Ahmad’ mengeluarkan kenyataan di rangkaian sosial Facebook: “… hantar saja si dia tu ke ISA kerana cuba menggugat ketenteraman rakyat”.

Rakannya yang bernama ‘Wan Asyeah Wan Nawang’ pula menyatakan sokongan: ‘Sudah naik tocang rupanya dia. Elok juga dikenakan ISA. Ini negara kita MALAYSIA bukan INDISIA”.

Nampaknya, sesiapa yang memperjuangkan kedudukan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa rasmi, bahasa kebangsaan, bahasa ilmu, bahasa komunikasi dan bahasa perpaduan di negara bertuah ini akan dikenakan tindakan ISA di negara bertuah ini!

Tidak perlulah saya mengulangi di sini beberapa lagi kenyataan dangkal yang dikeluarkan oleh beberapa “pakar” dari beberapa universiti tempatan yang ternyata tidak tahu hujung pangkal topik sebenar yang diperkatakan oleh Kavyan.

Saya dan Kavyan bercakap mengenai kedudukan Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa milik seluruh Bangsa Malaysia, tetapi terlalu banyak “tin kosong” yang berbunyi sesuka hati; bagaikan “anjing geladak”.

Terbukti bahawa perjuangan mengangkat maruah, kedudukan dan martabat Bahasa Malaysia di negara bertuah ini bukan suatu tugas yang mudah.

Khususnya apabila penguasaan bahasa anda lebih baik daripada kelompok tertentu yang ternyata tidak mampu memahami kenyataan media yang ditulis menggunakan bahasa yang amat mudah difahami.

Sementara itu, Kavyan yang diasaskan pada Ogos 1999 akan terus mengangkat Bahasa Malaysia sebagai bahasa milik seluruh Bangsa Malaysia.

Dirgahayu Bahasa Malaysia!

Uthaya Sankar SB adalah pejuang Bahasa Malaysia dan presiden Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan). Makna “anjing geladak” yang digunakan dalam tulisan di atas boleh dirujuk di Kamus Dewan atau Kamus Pelajar Bahasa Malaysia.

Witnesses: Libyan government forces shelling civilian areas of Misrata

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan government forces directed their assault Monday on civilian areas of Misrata, resulting in a number of civilian casualties, witnesses said.

"It's just hell," said Marie Colvin, a foreign affairs correspondent for the Sunday Times of London, who has been in the city for a week. "Civilian neighborhoods are being decimated as we speak." She said that at least 10 people had been killed and at least 30 others wounded.

But figures were difficult to confirm; CNN was not in the city.

A resident of Misrata who asked to be identified only as Mohammed said Monday that six people were killed in the morning.

A doctor at a hospital in Misrata put the number of dead Sunday at 16, with 71 wounded.

The indiscriminate shelling began after rebel forces routed forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi from the city center early Sunday, Colvin said. The rout came after rebels moved from building to building along Tripoli Street, the main boulevard, ousting government forces, she said. Twenty-five rebels were killed in one day, and an undetermined number of Gadhafi soldiers were killed, she said.

Asked about the rebel army, she laughed. "We're talking about an army of shopkeepers, engineers, car mechanics," she said. "Very, very few trained military."

At the fruit and vegetable market, government tanks that had been hidden under loading bays were set afire over the weekend. Their position there underscored the difficulty of NATO airstrikes in discriminating between government forces and civilians.

Since then, stationed on the city's edge, government forces have been firing shells randomly into residential neighborhoods of the city, she said.

"It's a free-fire zone on civilians," she said from the hospital, where she said she had seen casualties that ranged "from loss of limbs to an 8-year-old boy struck in the ankle by shrapnel. He'll keep the foot, but he was in bad shape."

Outside, a white tent served as a triage area; a refrigerator truck was packed with bodies.

When two people were killed in one house, the family got into a car, but it too was hit, killing a man and two children, she said.

Almost all of the shops in the city were shut, she said. Along Tripoli Street, "every single building has been hit by shells." Some bakery owners were giving away bread, and a few stores on the other side of town remained open, she said.

As of Monday night, the seaside city remained surrounded on three sides, she said.

Last week, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Khaim said that Gadhafi's military was withdrawing from Misrata and that tribal leaders would deal with the rebels.

But rebel commanders told Colvin that there were no negotiations going on between them and tribal leaders, the reporter said. The government's assertion that such talks were ongoing "appears to be a fig leaf or Gadhafi trying to cover the fact that his troops have been defeated," Colvin said.

Misrata has been the scene of some of the deadliest battles of the war as rebels attempt to oust Gadhafi, who has been in power for 42 years.

At least 36 people were killed there Sunday, rebel spokesman Col. Ahmad Bani said Monday.

In all, hundreds of people have been killed in the battle for the city, which has been under siege by Gadhafi's forces for seven weeks. Its population of about 450,000 makes it the country's third-largest city.

But that number has been dropping as residents have sought to get out. On Monday, the International Organization for Migration said it had taken nearly 1,000 stranded migrants -- most of them from Nigeria -- and 17 civilian casualties from Misrata to Benghazi on Sunday, with more such efforts planned.

The accounts of dire conditions in Misrata came as a government official said Gadhafi was well and in command of the country's affairs, despite what the official called a NATO attempt to kill him by bombing his compound in the capital city of Tripoli.

"The message that was sent by NATO in the early hours of this morning was sent to the wrong address," Mussa Ibrahim said in a written statement.

In a tour of the aftermath, Ibrahim said the flattened structure was a civilian office building.

In a statement, NATO said the target was a communications center in central Tripoli that had been used to coordinate attacks against civilians.

NATO is leading an international military operation in Libya that includes airstrikes targeting Gadhafi's military resources. It is operating under a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to protect civilians.

On Monday, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called U.S. President Barack Obama to tell him of his decision to provide additional military support by authorizing air-to-ground strikes on Libyan regime targets, the White House said in a statement.

"The two leaders agreed that additional pressure is necessary to strengthen the civilian protection mission, and the president emphasized that the best way to ensure the safety of the Libyan people is for Gadhafi to leave power," the statement said.

Libyan state TV said military and civilian casualties resulted from the strike on Gadhafi's Bab el-Azizia compound.

"We have no independent means of verifying reports of possible civilian casualties," NATO said in a statement on its website.

NATO has been issuing warnings to Libyan civilians to stay away from military sites and equipment, especially around Misrata.

Citing a military source, state-run Libyan TV reported late Monday that NATO ships struck an offshore fiber-optic cable, cutting communications to Sirte, Ras Lanuf and al-Brega.

It also reported that air strikes hit targets Monday night in Zawiya and Ayn Zarah of Tripoli district, resulting in casualties.

Since NATO took command of Operation Unified Protector on March 31, its aircraft have flown more than 3,700 sorties and more than 1,500 strike sorties.

Over the weekend, NATO aircraft destroyed multiple-rocket launchers, armored personnel carriers, bunkers and storage facilities in and around Misrata, Tripoli and Sirte, the alliance said.

"We are bringing all our capabilities to bear on all parts of the Gadhafi regime that remain intent on harming the civilian population," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in a statement. "As decided by the foreign ministers of NATO and operational partners, we will keep up the pressure until all attacks against civilians have stopped, Gadhafi's forces have withdrawn to bases, and full and unimpeded humanitarian access has been ensured."

The rebels, under the umbrella of the Transitional National Council, received a pledge Sunday from Kuwait for about $180 million. The announcement came during council chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil's visit to Kuwait, Kuwaiti state-run television reported.

EC: We did not go against DAP

The Election Commission defends itself against the DAP for allegedly undermining the party in an Utusan Malaysia report.

PETALING JAYA: Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar defended himself against DAP attacks for allegedly calling the party racist.

Citing his statements printed in the Umno-owned Malay daily Utusan Malaysia today, Wan Ahmad told FMT that it was not his intention to undermine the DAP.

“I was speaking to Utusan as an EC official, that is the body in charge of the display of campaign materials. I was not speaking against DAP, or am being biased towards BN,” he said.

“I have nothing against the DAP, but people have just misjudged me.”

Earlier today, DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua slammed Wan Ahmad for taking sides with the BN in the Utusan report.

The Malay daily quoted Wan Ahmad as saying: “It’s not wrong for me to say that there were racially-based campaigns in all the Sarawakian cities, of which the DAP played a big part.”

“Many people have such views, not just me,” he said.

Wan Ahmad also allegedly quoted Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim, who accused DAP Pending candidate Violet Yong of saying that Sarawak had had enough of a Melanau as a chief minister.

Racial flames

In the Utusan report, Wan Ahmad warned that if the DAP reused its Sarawak campaign tactics during the upcoming general election, it would “guarantee the spread of racial flames”.

Although not denying his words, Wan Ahmad said that he was only “speaking from facts”.

He also said that he had no control over Utusan’s angle, which prompted the DAP to accuse Wan Ahmad of concocting “desperate lies” to “justify to its political masters”.

“I can’t control them (Utusan). When they asked for my opinion, how the Utusan feature writer put it, I don’t know, that is beyond my control,” he said.

“They probably wanted it to have a strong punchline, but that was not what I had in mind.”

On the racially-based campaigns, Wan Ahmad said: “I was speaking from the context of Section 4 of the Election Offences Act 1954.”

He said that there were many banners put up during the campaign that could cause trouble between both sides of the political divide.

Legal action

Many of these banners, Wan Ahmad said, were seen as personal attacks against BN candidates.

“We saw the DAP banners which said that a vote for SUPP was a vote for Taib Mahmud,” he said.

“They can sell their programmes, and do anything with regard to vote fishing, but when you attack candidates, it becomes personal.”

“We got a lot of complaints from some people. In the spirit of Section 4, those banners shouldn’t have been allowed, but it was too late to take them down,” he added.

Wan Ahmad said he was baffled when DAP leaders ignored his requests to refrain from putting up banners attacking BN leaders.

“We met with DAP Kuching leaders three or four days before the nomination date, but they didn’t listen to us,” he said.

He said that BN component parties also put up banners attacking the DAP in a tit-for-tat action.

On Rais’ accusations against Yong, Wan Ahmad clarified that he was merely quoting what the minister said.

“If what Rais said was at all true, then the statement (allegedly made by the DAP) shouldn’t have been said,” the EC official said.

The DAP has strongly denied the accusation by Rais, and demanded that both Wan Ahmad and Rais apologise over the matter.

Pua said the DAP would take legal action if the duo failed to do so.

Rakaman Pidato Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim Dalam Siri Jelajah Perak

Why Muhyiddin’s education system sucks!

By Lim Kit Siang,

During the Sarawak state general election campaign, both the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin promised to consider the return of the teaching of science and mathematics in English (PPSMI) and that the government would study the possibility of using two mediums of instruction for teaching science and maths.

Has the Cabinet set in motion the return of PPSMI and the use of two mediums of instruction for teaching science and maths or is this just an empty campaign ploy for the Sarawak state elections?

Instead Muhyiddin as the Education Minister has brought forward the abolition of PPSMI by one year, from 2012 to 2011, catching parents and students by surprise.

Is he going to give the parents the option to decide whether to revert back to PPSMI for this year until a decision is taken whether the Cabinet is going to adopt two mediums of instruction for teaching science and maths?

The Barisan Nasional’s education system sucks basically for two reasons:

Firstly, failing to produce internationally-recognised a high-quality education system from primary to secondary and tertiary level which could meet the country’s aspirations to be a globally competitive nation with a creative workforce; and

Secondly, failing to be a major instrument of the Malaysian nation-building process.

I have just received a complaint that illustrates this outrageous aspect of the national education system – that although the Prime Minister is spending RM70 million to preach his 1Malaysia policy, the education system headed by the Deputy Prime Minister is already blatantly promoting the “1Melayu” call of Utusan Malaysia.

The latest April 2011 issue of Dewan Masyarakat with its feature article “Penghakisan Tanah Pusaka – Meruntuhkan Kuasa Politik Melayu (Bahagian Satu)” by Noor Azam which is compulsory reading material for all Form VI students for their General Paper is a case in point.

The article by Noor Azam, formerly political secretary to the Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and ex-Chairman of TV3, quoting extensively from Mahathir’s “Malay Dilemma”, reeks of rabid Malay communalism studded with lies and falsehoods especially about the DAP, promoted Utusan Malaysia’s “1Melayu” slogan and the “Ketuanan Melayu” concept.

Clearly Noor Azam has either never heard or rejects Najib’s 1Malaysia objective to create “a more vibrant, more productive and more competitive” Malaysia where “every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second and where the principles of 1Malaysia are woven into the economic, political and social fabric of society”.

Noor Azam’s article in Dewan Masyarakat is excellent educational material to illustrate the outmoded thinking and communal poison which Malaysians must transcend if they are to move from the narrow and exclusive “1Melayu” call to the all-embracing, inclusive “1Malaysia” concept.

But this clearly is not the case for the reason why this Dewan Masyarakat article is made required reading for all Form VI students for their compulsory General Paper.

All Cabinet Ministers should immediately get a copy of the April 2011 issue of Dewan Masyarakat and read Noor Azam’s article and decide whether it is promoting Utusan’s “1Melayu” call or Najib’s “1Malaysia” concept.

Malaysians await as to whether the Cabinet would do what is right and expected of them tomorrow – to rescind the decision of the Education Ministry to make the article compulsory reading for General Paper for Form VI students and to express regret that the official organ of a government agency, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka is openly challenging Najib’s 1Malaysia concept by adopting Utusan Malaysia’s contradictory “1Melayu” call.

Sai Baba to be buried on Wednesday, 5 Lakh expected for funeral

PUTTAPARTHI: One of India's most revered spiritual leaders with a following of kings and commoners alike, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, passed away on Sunday morning at 7:40 am of cardio-respiratory failure at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences here. He was 85.

Sai Baba's death was announced at 10.15 am by hospital director Dr A N Safaya, who said, "Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is no more with us physically. He left his earthly body on April 24, 2011, at 7.40 am due to cardio-respiratory failure." He was admitted to the hospital 28 days ago with cardiac problems and his condition deteriorated with many of his organs failing.

The Baba's body will lie in state at Sai Kulwant Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram until Tuesday for his devotees and followers to have a last darshan. He will then be buried close to his Yajur Mandir residence on Wednesday in line with the practice adopted for Hindu spiritual leaders. Sanyasis are said to symbolically submit their bodies to fire at the time of renunciation by donning saffron or flame-coloured robes.

"The exact time of burial will be announced later," said Andhra's industries minister Geeta Reddy. Five lakh people are expected for the funeral that will include national and international dignitaries.

Before announcing Sai Baba's demise, the police ordered a complete shutdown of Puttaparthi. All shops were closed and roads barricaded. Those arriving from Bangalore (barring mediapersons and government officials) had to stop 8km out of town.

"His body was wrapped in orange clothes and covered up to the eyes. Nobody uttered a word. Everybody wept," said Sai Kumar, 33, a local businessman and a devotee. "I spoke to him on March 18 for two minutes and took his photograph," he said, tears rolling down his cheeks.

At 3 pm, the body was shifted to Sri Kulwant Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam (the highest abode of peace), where Sathya Sai Baba gave discourses and met devotees daily for over four decades.

Toll rises as army storms Syrian towns

Syrian troops backed by tanks and heavy armour have stormed the southern town of Deraa and also Douma, a suburb of the capital Damascus, resulting in many deaths and dozens of arrests.

Security forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, the country's president, have also continued a crackdown in the coastal town of Jableh for a second day.

An activist said late on Monday that 18 people had been killed in Deraa alone.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Damascus, said the troop deployment was an "unprecedented" offensive against the wave of dissent that has swept the country since the uprising began on March 15.

She reported checkpoints and heavy security in central Damascus.

Witnesses in Deraa told news agencies that at least five people were killed when assailants opened fire on a car.

The vehicle was riddled with bullets, a witness told AFP. Intense gunfire could be heard reverberating across the town, he said.

"We need international intervention. We need countries to help us," a witness in Deraa told the Associated Press by telephone.

"The minarets of the mosques are appealing for help. The security forces are entering houses. There is a curfew and they fire on those who leave their homes. They even shot at water tanks on roofs to deprive people of water."

Al Jazeera is unable to confirm the reported deaths.

Syria closed all border crossings on its southern frontier with Jordan as the military launched its operation in Deraa, Al Jazeera has learned from a security offical.

'Bodies lying on streets'

Thousands of soldiers swept into Deraa in the early hours of Monday, with tanks taking up positions in the town centre and snipers deploying on rooftops, witnesses said.

"Bodies are lying in the streets and we can't recover them," one activist said, explaining that they have little idea of the total number of casualties.

Footage aired by an opposition news organisation on Monday, transmitted via satellite, appeared to show Syrian military firing at unseen targets with sniper rifles.

Al Jazeera is unable to verify the veracity of the footage.

"There are injured people. Scores have been arrested. The security are repeating the same pattern in all the centres of the democratic uprising. They want to put down the revolution using the utmost brutality," an unidentified rights campaigner in Damascus told Reuters.

In Jableh, where several protesters were gunned down on Sunday, witnesses said security forces in camouflage uniforms - some with their faces covered - and masked armed men dressed in black were roaming the town's streets.

"Jableh is surrounded by security forces," the witness said, speaking by telephone. "The dead are in the mosques and the houses. We can't get them out."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syrian rights group, said on Monday morning that at least 13 people had been killed in Jableh since Sunday's crackdown began.

The country has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted access to trouble spots since the uprising began, making it nearly impossible to get independent assessments.

Hardening tactics

Al Jazeera's Amin said that the events of Monday marked a change in methods by security forces.

Up until now, she said, security forces have cracked down in reaction to protests. But the flood of troops into Douma and Deraa had come in the absence of any demonstrations.

"Today, we're seeing a different tactic, with security forces sweeping the towns," she said, noting reports of house-to-house searches, arrests and random shooting coming from both towns.

Communications have been cut off and, for the first time, the military has become directly involved in quelling the uprising, much to the disappointment of opposition activists.

"They were hoping the army would not get involved," our correspondent said. "They feel this is only the beginning of a very serious crackdown."

One activist told Al Jazeera that some army officers had defected to fight alongside the people of Deraa against the government.

Two members stepped down from the provincial council in Deraa. The resignations came a day after two legislators and a religious leader from Deraa broke with the government in disgust over the killings.

Separately, Syrian intellectuals expressed their outrage over the violence, with a declaration on Monday signed by 102 writers and exiles from all the country's main sects.

"We condemn the violent, oppressive practices of the Syrian regime against the protesters and mourn the martyrs of the uprising," they said.

Sanctions weighed

As Syria continued its violent crackdown, a US official told Reuters the administration was considering a range of options against the Assad government, including possible sanctions on senior officials.

The measures could include a freeze on assets and a ban on business dealings in the US, the official said. There was no immediate word on when such sanctions might be imposed.

Earlier, the UN's highest human-rights official called on Syria to rein in its security forces and investigate nearly 100 killings of protesters reported over the weekend.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, denounced the escalation of violence in the country and called for detained activists and political prisoners to be released.

She said Syria has turned its back on international calls to "stop killing its own people".

"The first step now is to immediately halt the use of violence, then to conduct a full and independent investigation into the killings, including the alleged killing of military and security officers, and to bring the perpetrators to justice," Pillay said in a statement.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Ibubapa tuntut pengetua jelas isu pergaduhan

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today said Utusan Malaysia did not represent all Malays, despite Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin claiming the Umno-owned daily was the voice of the community.

“Utusan does not even have the same circulation as The Star even though there are more Malays. We never say that The Star represents the voice of the Chinese,” he said of the leading English daily that is owned by MCA.

MCA had called for a boycott of the Malay daily after it proposed a “1Melayu, 1Bumi” movement to curb Chinese political power in the country.

But Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin said today that its partner in Barisan Nasional (BN) should not worry that Utusan’s call would create chaos as “it is just the expression of a community’s feelings.”

“Even the non-Malays have said that there are sensitive reports in the non-Malay media. If we ask why such stories are reported, they will say that they reflect the feelings of the Chinese and Indian communities,” Muhyiddin said.

However, Dr Chua told The Malaysian Insider that no one could be said to represent the voice of an entire community and that “Muhyiddin was making a statement of fact” that Utusan Malaysia was pushing a Malay agenda.

“Just like if I said I wanted Malaysia to be the third Chinese country in the world, everyone will say that this does not represent the Chinese community in Malaysia,” he said.

“Utusan is not an official government paper even though it is majority owned by Umno. The prime minister has already said that it does not reflect BN’s stance,” said the former health minister.

He added that the “1Melayu, 1Bumi” agenda ran contrary to PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia slogan of inclusivity.

Government leaders including Najib have sought to distance themselves from the newspaper’s call last week, claiming the exhortation made in the Umno-owned daily was the personal opinion of the newspaper’s editors.

Perkasa patron Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also spoke out against the idea, saying it would be “disastrous” if it came to fruition.

The elder statesman said such a movement would eventually result in a two-party system, which would be dominated by the Malays and the Chinese on opposing sides of the divide.

Despite its patron’s statement, Perkasa said it would be willing to lead such a “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” movement.

Kit Siang: Utusan is Muhyiddin’s voice against Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — Lim Kit Siang rebuked Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today for saying Utusan Malaysia speaks for the Malay community, claiming instead that the deputy prime minister was using the paper to defy Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia.

The DAP strongman charged that Muhyiddin was “a picture of absurdity” for making his proclamation earlier today and described the statement as the latter’s “second unkind cut” against Najib.

He questioned if by endorsing Utusan Malaysia’s “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” movement, the country’s administration was running on two separate idealogies — Najib with his 1 Malaysia platform and Muhyiddin with “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi”.

“Utusan Malaysia is not the voice of the Malays as right-thinking and rational Malays like right-thinking and rational Malaysians have been migrating away from Utusan Malaysia particularly to online media.

“But what should really cause consternation is that Utusan Malaysia is at best the voice of Muhyiddin particularly at odds with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“How can Muhyiddin give endorsement to Utusan Malaysia’s call for ‘1 Melayu, 1 Bumi’ when it is clearly an open affront and repudiation of Najib’s 1 Malaysia signature policy?” Lim asked in a statement today.

He questioned if Najib’s Cabinet was prepared to resolve the apparent conflict between the country’s top two leaders, or if the prime minister dared to wield his power and force Muhyiddin into line.

“Or will all the Cabinet ministers from Umno, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, SUPP and the other Sarawak and Sabah component parties dig their heads deeper into the sand to pretend that they are not aware of such open policy conflict between the prime minister and the deputy prime minister — between 1 Malaysia and 1 Melayu?” Lim said.

He challenged Muhyiddin’s claim that Utusan Malaysia represented the voice of the Malay community, insisting the daily often stoked communal hatred and tension.

Utusan Malaysia ruffled feathers recently when it suggested that Umno spearhead a “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” movement to protect Malay unity, claiming g the just-concluded Sarawak polls showed DAP was attempting to destroy the country’s Malay leadership.

In response, MCA called for a boycott on the Umno-owned newspaper, warning that such a movement could lead to apartheid in Malay-majority Malaysia.

Speaking on the issue today, Muhyiddin refrained from condemning the paper for propagating the movement, saying instead that the government could not stop the newspaper from reporting the news.

“It is the voice and desire of the Malay community and also Malaysians in general. If we read Utusan, we can see that there are also reports on other things.

“Just like other media, there are pro and cons. We cannot stop a media from reporting what it wants to report but there is a limit,” he told a press conference.

In disagreeing with Muhyiddin, Lim called Utusan Malaysia’s editors a “disgrace” to journalism and accused them of doing the Malay race and Malaysia as a nation a disservice by playing up racial issues.

“If the police, the Attorney-Genereal’s Chambers and the judiciary are efficient, independent and professional institutions to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour, Utusan Malaysia editors would have no time to edit the Umno daily but would be trudging up and down the court houses over a mountain of criminal charges round-the-year!” he said.

Lim also reminded how National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Hata Watahari, who is also a senior Utusan journalist, had himself condemned his paper’s editors for fanning race rhetoric and allegedly causing its declining sale.

“Utusan Malaysia nose-dived from one of the nation’s top circulation papers to a disreputable rag, falling from a height of a daily circulation of 350,000 to less than half the numbers — as Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures for the full year ended June 30, 2010 showed its circulation had dropped to 170,558 as compared to 181,346 the previous year,” Lim said.

NGO serah akhbar Utusan Malaysia kecam DAP

Perjumpaan 'secara baik' antara NGO dengan wakil DAP berlaku kira-kira lima minit sahaja sebelum kumpulan terbabit bersurai.

KUALA LUMPUR: Kira-kira 20 penyokong daripada beberapa pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) Melayu hari ini mengadakan ‘protes aman’ mengecam kenyataan DAP terhadap akhbar harian Utusan Malaysia.

NGO yang diwakili Persatuan Veteran Tentera Melayu, Briged Nasionalis Muda, serta Umno Negeri Wilayah Persekutuan hadir dihadapan ibu pejabat DAP di sini mempertahankan akhbar tersebut.

Kumpulan itu bagaimanapun dihalang polis daripada memasuki pejabat DAP dan hanya membenarkan lima orang wakil sahaja.

Lima wakil tersebut kemudiannya naik ke pejabat pentadbiran DAP dan menyerahkan senaskhah akhbar Utusan Malaysia kepada Ketua Pentadbiran Pejabat DAP Pusat Wong May Ing.

Perjumpaan ‘secara baik’ antara NGO dengan wakil DAP itu berlaku kira-kira lima minit sahaja sebelum kumpulan terbabit bersurai.

Ketua Briged Nasionalis Muda Armand Azha Abu Hanifah berkata, mereka memberikan amaran keras kepada DAP supaya tidak lagi melakukan provokasi yang boleh mencetuskan api perkauman.

‘Jangan fitnah dan memburukkan Utusan Malaysia’

“Jangan begitu angkuh memfitnah dan memburukkan Utusan Malaysia. Akhbar ini adalah suara hak-hak orang Melayu.

“Tapi kita tahu tak semua pemimpin DAP bersikap sedemikian, cuma segelintir sahaja,” katanya kepada pemberita selepas perjumpaan di pejabat DAP.

Minggu lalu, Setiausaha Agung DAP Lim Guan Eng mencabar Presiden MCA Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek supaya mengenakan tekanan ke atas Umno agar ‘menegur’ Utusan berhubung artikel ’1Melayu, 1Bumi’.

“Lakukannya Chua! Bagi tahu Umno supaya arahkan akhbarnya untuk menarik balik cadangan penubuhan ’1Melayu, 1Bumi’ ataupun MCA sepatutnya berundur dari Barisan Nasional,” kata Lim dalam satu kenyataan.

Artikel ’1Melayu, 1Bumi’ yang ditulis Penolong Ketua Pengarang Kumpulan Utusan Datuk Zaini Hassan dalam ruangan Cuit minggu lalu berkata DAP telah berjaya menyatupadukan orang Cina.

Zaini berkata pada pandangannya, Umno kini perlu melancarkan gelombang perpaduan bangsa “1Melayu, 1Bumi”.

Sementara itu, Ketua Pemuda Umno Negeri Wilayah Persekutuan Rizalman Mokhtar berkata pihaknya mahu DAP segera menghentikan sebarang provokasi membabitkan kaum.

“Kita boleh terima provokasi tapi jangan terlalu melampau,” katanya.

Sementara itu, Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) dilaporkan turut mengadakan protes aman di Wisma MCA kerana mengecam peranan akhbar Utusan berhubung artikel yang sama.

MCA minggu lalu menggesa rakyat Malaysia supaya memulaukan akhbar Utusan Malaysia kerana mencadangkan gerakan ’1Melayu, 1Bumi’ diutamakan.

Timbalan Ketua Publisiti MCA Loh Seng Kok berkata, konsep ’1Melayu 1Bumi’ yang diilhamkan oleh akhbar milik Umno itu seperti mahu menghukum masyarakat Cina kerana melaksanakan hak demokrasi mereka semasa pilihan raya.

Workers to demand wage increase at Labour Day rally

More than 500 people are expected to attend a rally asking for wage increases in the face of rising costs.

KUALA LUMPUR: Come Labour Day, about 500 people will attend a workers’ rally demanding higher wages because of rising cost of essential prices.

Over 500 workers and civil society members are expected to take part in the rally that will start at the Chow Kit monorail station at 10.30am. Planned to end at Merdeka Square, the organisers of the procession do not expect any police trouble.

“We have notified the police,” said May Day committee spokesman S Arutchelvan at the KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here today.

He added that previous annual Labour Day events had been held mostly without a hitch.

“From 1994 to 2010, many of the (May Day) events have been quite peaceful, except for a few cases,” he said.

The organisers said that this year’s May Day theme is “Harga barang naik, bila gaji lagi?” (price of goods increased, what about our pay?)

They said that although the price of essential items had gone up considerably in previous years, wages have not.

A video shown to reporters revealed that Malaysia’s workers only enjoyed an average wage increase of 2.6% from 2000 to 2010.

Student Solidarity Movement secretary Mohamad Izzudin Hilmi Mohamad Zaini said that the government owed it to the people to at least come up with a minimum wage.

“The rising costs is the issue today, but the government has been going back and forth over this. When costs go up and the wages don’t, the people get oppressed,” Izzudin added.

Arutchelvan agreed with his comrade’s sentiment, and said that the government had been swayed by Malaysia’s employers at the expense of its workers.

“In the last two years, the Human Resources Ministry has said that it cannot rely on market forces (to set a minimum wage).”

“But what we hear from them is that they want to do a study on this. We are still talking about doing studies over the last 10 years!” Arutchelvan said.

He attributed the government’s delay to employers, and accused them of threatening to take their money elsewhere if general wages were raised.

“These employers have no loyalty to any country . They will go to any country,” he said .

“The government now needs to choose between the employers and the workers,” Arutchelvan added.

For Utusan, Perkasa swarms MCA HQ

The protesters take the Chinese-based party to task for criticising Utusan Malaysia, which Perkasa says is the 'sole defender of the Malay voice'.


KUALA LUMPUR: Some 100 Perkasa members staged a protest outside the MCA heaquarters here condemning the Chinese-based party for criticising the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia daily.

The protesters shouted “Hidup Melayu” and warned MCA against “playing with fire” as its actions could cause a repeat of the 1969 racial clashes.

MCA leaders had blasted Utusan for what they described as a continued racist attack on the Chinese community especially after the Sarawak polls.

The overwhelming Chinese support for the opposition led to the fall of 12 state seats, more than double the amount previously.

Utusan had described the Chinese as being ungrateful and called for the Malays to unite under a campaign called “1Melayu, 1Bumi”, mimicking Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia, which was meant to promote racial pluralism.

Columnists from the Malay daily also accused DAP, the Chinese-majority component party in Pakatan Rakyat, of racism and attempting to oust the nation’s Malay leadership.

Perkasa declared its intention to spearhead the “1Malay, 1Bumi” campaign and warned MCA that it would “face the consequences” if it did not stop its criticism against Utusan.

The Malay right-wing group also demanded MCA to retract its call for a boycott on the Malay daily, which Perkasa described as the “sole defender of the Malay voice”.

The demand was made in a four-point memorandum handed to a MCA delegate by Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali under the watchful eyes of the police.

At a press conference later, Syed Hassan said MCA’s continuous attack on Utusan was hurting the feelings of the Malays.

“If they do not stop, they will face the consequences that we promised,” he warned.

Najib, Mahathir distancing from Utusan

Najib had detached himself from Utusan’s Malay power rhetoric and said that the 1Malay, 1Bumi campaign had no connection with his party Umno.

He also said Utusan did not represent his party, suggesting a crack between Umno’s top leadership and its grassroots who were known to be Perkasa sympathisers.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had backed Perkasa’s effort to “empower” the Malays, also labelled Utusan’s 1Malay, 1Bumi campaign as dangerous.

However, Perkasa appeared unperturbed and vowed to press on with the campaign.

In the speaker’s chair: The challenge of impartiality

A PARLIAMENT unaccustomed to a larger and vibrant opposition bench has proven challenging for Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia. Often, he is the target of criticism alleging his bias towards the executive.
In the first part of an interview with The Nut Graph at his office in Parliament on 6 April 2011, Pandikar Amin talks about how he weighs his decisions as speaker and how he views the role.
TNG: What is the most difficult challenge being speaker of the Dewan Rakyat?
Pandikar Amin: When I exercise my discretion, which I really think is for the benefit of the people and for the good of Parliament itself, and yet my sincerity is doubted by parliamentarians who have their own personal views and agendas.
How do you deal with it?
I just have to be very patient. If it gets out of hand, I take stern action, and that’s when a few of them get suspended from the House.
Why should differences of opinion be seen as a challenge against the speaker?
Of course it is a challenge if neither side respects the other’s opinion. Having said that, you have to look at the differences in background of being a speaker in the Malaysian Parliament and a speaker in the [British] House of Commons.
The speaker of the House of Commons is a position that has been there for hundreds of years. It evolved [out of] the differences of opinion between the monarchy and the masses. The position of speaker in the UK Parliament is an institution by itself which everyone respects, including the government.
It is not so in our case. For instance, the budget for running Parliament doesn’t come from a special fund. It is from the consolidated fund, under the Finance Ministry. The appointment of officers in Parliament is not by the speaker as an independent body; they are still appointed by the Public Service Commission.
In England, if a speaker stands for election, no political party will put a candidate [against the speaker], he [or she] will win automatically, because the view is that the speaker is running [in the election] as the speaker of Parliament. Once [we have] this kind of platform, it is conducive for the speaker to make decisions, and then you can get a Parliament like the House of Commons.
British House of Commons (Wiki commons)
British House of Commons (Wiki commons)
What I want is for MPs to be practical. I have already made concessions as far as I am concerned. I was a very active politician. I was the Marudu Ketua Bahagian Umno. After I was appointed speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, I resigned from all my political posts. To me, that is a sincere gesture. What I want from all MPs is to show me something visible that they are doing to uplift our Parliament to what we aspire it to be.
But what I get is just the negative. From the word “go” in 2008, SO (Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat) 18 is being abused by the opposition for votes of no-confidence against the government. (Editor’s note: SO 18 allows an MP to raise a an emergency motion to discuss a matter of public importance, but this may be refused by the speaker if the speaker finds it is not “definite, urgent and of public importance”.)
If MPs want to object to a decision you’ve made, they have to do it by way of a substantive motion under SO 43 requiring three days’ notice. Has that ever happened in our Dewan?
Any challenge must be done according to the SO. If you are not satisfied with the speaker’s ruling, the proper way is not to argue there and then. If you look at SO 43, it says that once a decision has been made by the speaker, the House cannot review it. Nobody can appeal it and ask the speaker to reconsider, because it just cannot be done under SO 43. It can only be done by an independent motion. But here, no. Once I make a ruling, they will scream that I am biased, that I’m being used by the executive. That kind of behaviour by itself is also against the SO.
How many times has such a motion challenging the speaker’s decisions been raised in our Parliament? The picture we get is that such motions are never allowed and that the speaker, therefore, cannot be challenged.
It has happened before. Under me, there was one such motion by Jelutong (Jeff Ooi Chuan Aun-DAP). He was not satisfied with one of my rulings so I advised him [if he was not happy] to bring a motion. So he brought the motion and it was put in the order paper on 15 Dec 2010.

But they always complain that it is pointless to bring a motion because it will never come to light, meaning it will never be debated. Because the government’s agenda is always discussed first in every session. Now, that is also not my fault because SO 15 says that’s how it’s to be done. The government’s agenda must be put first before the agenda of other MPs. [Those are] the rules.
Can you see my dilemma? If, for instance, I allow a substantive motion from the opposition, and it gets discussed and then the House must vote on it, the government will win again because it has the numbers. So what is the point? I will be accused again and the government will be accused of arm-twisting the minority. There’s a quote by a Canadian speaker that “the government will always have its way and the opposition will have its say”. That’s just the way it is.
So Jelutong brought the motion, it was put in the order paper, but until now the House has not come to it yet because every day it is the government’s agenda that is discussed first. That is the rule in the SO and the MPs know it and they should not accuse me of being biased. Unless the rules are amended, there is nothing I can do. That’s what I’m saying: to have a very fair speaker, you must provide the platform for him to act accordingly.
Do you think there is a need for check and balance on the speaker?
The speaker has to follow the procedures in the SO.
In the UK Parliament’s question time, Private Notice Questions are first discussed by both the opposition and government, and then they will inform the speaker. But in our case, in accordance with our SO, all questions are predetermined with the MPs who want to ask questions giving two weeks’ notice so that the government ministers will have time to gather the necessary answers. The questions are all laid out in the order paper. So we practise parliamentary democracy, but our procedures differ.
If the PR comes to power, will they change the SO immediately to have a really independent speaker? If that is what they intend to do, why don’t they start practising it in their states?
Pandikar at the book launch of The Nut Graph's "Understanding the Dewan Rakyat" on 23 March 2011
Pandikar at the book launch of The Nut Graph's "Understanding the Dewan Rakyat" on 23 March 2011
What factors do you weigh when making a decision that involves your discretionary powers?
Whenever a motion comes before me, I seek all the information from relevant ministries and authorities. From there I form my opinion. To give credit to the prime minister and the chief whip, the deputy prime minister, they never get involved. I allowed, under SO 18(1), motions to debate the strike by fisher[folk], the rising price of rice and the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide, and also the (Genting Sempah) bus crash. These things are urgent, and I also want the government to be responsible and answerable.
But the opposition are very fond of reacting if I reject one of their motions. They will immediately hold a press conference outside to complain about it.
[But look at the motions brought]. There was a commotion over a road closure where [a few] people got injured, and the Serdang MP brought it for debate under SO 18(1). If I were to allow that, then I would have to allow every fight that breaks out to be debated in Parliament. Then there was a motion to discuss a collapsed bridge in Perak where a few students died. But the deputy prime minister had already gone there, the problem was already being attended to.
If I were to allow that motion, I would have to allow motions on all sorts of other things. Now I’ve just received another motion to debate the death of a seven-year-old boy under his religious teacher’s care. If I allow this, would I then have to allow every case of child abuse or death in the country to be debated?
Do you try to ensure that your decision to allow or not allow motions is not perceived as biased?
There is no way I can make sure it’s not perceived as such. You think some of these ministers are happy with decisions I make, when I allow supplementary questions from opposition members who are hard-hitting? Even BN ministers are not happy with me. As speaker I can choose anyone to ask a supplementary question. I could pick an MP whom I know is not hard-hitting. There was once a parliamentary question directed at the prime minister. Many MPs stood up to ask a supplementary question. I could have called a weaker MP, but I called Bukit Gelugor (Karpal Singh-DAP) because to me, I am giving opportunity to the government to explain.
The record shows that most opposition motions are rejected.
There are also motions by the backbenchers which I have rejected because of SO 15 that the government’s agenda must come first. But they don’t highlight it or hold a press conference to complain about it. Even backbenchers face the same thing – their motions never see the light of day because they get pushed down the list on the order paper – that opposition MPs complain of.
There’s another thing I’m doing. The way questions in the order paper are arranged. There is nothing in the SO that says I have to order parliamentary questions a certain way. But I order it so that opposition and government MPs can take turns in asking their questions. First, a question by a BN MP, followed by a question from an opposition MP. I do the same with supplementary questions. So, I’m already doing something positive: a signal to parliamentarians that I am departing from our normal style of Malaysian politics. So they must also try to do something positive.

On your first day as speaker, you didn’t allow MPs to ask any supplementary questions, citing “time constraints”. But aren’t supplementary questions an important way for MPs to question and scrutinise the government on its performance and policies?
Under our SO 24(3),  the speaker may allow not more than three supplementary questions. The text says “may”, not “shall”. This is a matter of interpretation. (Editor’s note: Under SO 99, the speaker’s interpretation of the rules is final.)
On that day, at the time, there had been a commotion going on for almost one hour, all because Bukit Gelugor took issue with [how some MPs did not raise their hands properly when they were sworn in]. We had not yet even started the meeting. When we finally did, I wanted to be fair to all the other MPs who had posed parliamentary questions as listed on the order paper. Shouldn’t we also let others further down the order paper have their questions answered?
So that was the reason I didn’t allow supplementary questions on that day. My decision is based on my interpretation of the SO which states that I “may” allow up to three questions. Not “shall”. Even then, the backbenchers stood up to complain against me. But it’s a decision I still stand by. If MPs are not satisfied, they can file a motion using SO 43, not by ridiculing me.
You’ve mentioned that the law must first provide for the speaker to be impartial, such as in funding and appointment of staff. But the law as it is, doesn’t stop you from making impartial decisions.
There is no such law. I’m not the government, I can’t make such law. It must be the executive who says, “We want to have an independent speaker’s office. So therefore the budget must not come from the consolidated fund, it must be from a separate fund.” And all the officers in Parliament must be appointed separately; like the police or army, they have their own system of recruitment.  Provide that, give that to whoever sits in the speaker’s chair. So how can you blame me when that is the system that has always been there? I can’t change the system alone without the government’s backing.
In one word, describe your job as speaker:
Dilemma. Always in a dilemma. Whatever I do is perceived as not right.