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Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day: Arrest at Dang Wangi

Libyan official: Gadhafi son killed in NATO airstrike; threat issued

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- One of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's sons -- Saif al-Arab Gadhafi -- was killed in a NATO airstrike, a spokesman for Libya's government said Sunday at a press conference.

Moammar Gadhafi and his wife were in their son's house when it was targeted, spokesman Musa Ibrahim said. Both of them are in good health, according to the spokesman.

Saif al-Arab Gadhafi is one of two Gadhafi sons whose names begin with Saif. The other is Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who had previously touted reform but has emerged as one of his father's most visible defenders in recent months.

Ibrahim said three of Moammar Gadhafi's grandchildren also died in the attack.

The house in Tripoli was destroyed by the strike with a massive crater where the house used to be. At least one unexploded bomb could be seen.

The building was in a residential area of Tripoli, according to Ibrahim, who insisted that Saif al-Arab Gadhafi was a student in Germany who was not deeply involved in Libya's military and government. The 29-year-old was the sixth of Gadhafi's eight biological children.

Ibrahim railed against NATO after the strike, calling it an illegal act and a "war crime."

Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO's military operations, said in a statement Sunday that he was "aware of unconfirmed media reports that some of Gadhafi's family members may have been killed."

"We regret all loss of life, especially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of this ongoing conflict," Bouchard said. "NATO is fulfilling its U.N. mandate to stop and prevent attacks against civilians with precision and care -- unlike Gadhafi's forces, which are causing so much suffering."

The NATO commander stated that all targets "are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the Gadhafi regime's systemic attacks on the Libyan population ... We do not target individuals."

A senior official in U.S. President Barack Obama's administration said the U.S. government is "very aware" of the reports but cannot confirm who, if anyone, died in a strike until they see the evidence.

Gunfire broke out around Tripoli after the news came out, while a large crowd of demonstrators gathered around Moammar Gadhafi's compound. Images on Libyan state TV showed what appeared to be dozens of people chanting and waving flags.

Protesters could be heard yelling, "We want to redeem the martyr," and, "Oh youth, this is time for jihad."

They were joined at one point by Ibrahim, who told the demonstrators, "Every one of you are Saif al-Arab."

"We will make Libya the grave of all invaders," he told the crowd.

A spokesman for the Libyan opposition doubted the veracity of the report of Saif al-Arab Gadhafi's death, saying, "In all honesty, we never heard of Saif al-Arab until the start of the uprising."

"We don't believe this is true," said Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, deputy chairman of the Transitional National Council in Benghazi. "It is all fabrications by the regime in a desperate attempt to get sympathy. ... This regime constantly lies and keeps lying."

Ibrahim, the spokesman for Gadhafi's government, accused NATO of launching the strike specifically in order to kill the Libyan leader.

Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz acknowledged that "our own laws" would affect any decision to try to assassinate Moammar Gadhafi directly.

"I don't believe that any credible group or individual sees the solution to the Libyan problem without the removal of Moammar Gadhafi, one way or the other," he said. "But our job and our goal is to get a political solution, but through the means that we are allowed to by our own laws."

This is not the first time that Moammar Gadhafi reportedly has been at the site of an airstrike that killed one of his children.

In April 1986, U.S. forces launched an airstrike that targeted Moammar Gadhafi's residential compound. As a result, the Libyan leader's adopted daughter, Hanna Gadhafi, was killed.

Saif al-Arab Gadhafi, then just 3 years old, was hospitalized after suffering injuries in that strike, Libyan officials said then. Video shows what Libyan officials claimed were him and his brother Khamis, though both boys were heavily bandaged and their faces were not clearly visible.

At the time, U.S. President Ronald Reagan told the American people the bombings were an act of self-defense following the bombing of a West Berlin, Germany, club that killed two American servicemen and injured several others.

On Monday, Ibrahim issued a defiant statement saying Moammar Gadhafi was alive despite what the Libyan government called a NATO attempt to kill him by bombing his compound.

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

Bruce Riedel, a former adviser to three U.S. presidents and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, said the reported killing could complicate any chances that Moammar Gadhafi might leave Libya peacefully after a negotiated solution.

"A political solution was always a long shot," Riedel told CNN by e-mail. "But in Libya's very tribal politics, the death of a son makes any political settlement all that much harder."

Najib's political blackmail an act of desperation

'It is both tragic and harrowing that Najib should see it fit today to warn, threaten or otherwise hold the Chinese at ransom in such a cavalier fashion.'

Chinese must choose - vote MCA or else no gov't posts

Onyourtoes: Now I am confused, PM. You told us to support MCA or be left out of the government. But are Chinese, through MCA, part of the government in the first place?

I think the Chinese do not want to be in charge of road accidents, dengue fever or clogged drains anymore. See the irony, before the Chinese could contemplate your calling, your outsourced extremists, Perkasa, has already warned the MCA and Gerakan to toe the line or lose Malay votes. So how?

When you said Chinese representation in government, do you mean Chinese will be allowed more opportunities to do business only? What is the point of doing business in an increasingly uncompetitive and rent-seeking environment? How do you do business and have better quality of life when the government is increasingly corrupt, inefficient and incompetent.

No, the Chinese do not want just to do business only. The Chinese want to be judges, in charge of civil service, municipals, districts, defence, trade and finance. We want to do so not because we want to abuse or dominate others. We want to help to better manage this country. Can or not?

Singa Pura Pura: Perhaps the uneasy leader of Umno and his eager deputy need more time to let it sink in. The MCA has reached the end of its shelf life in Malaysian politics as far as Chinese representation in the government goes.

The MCA has had close to half a century to serve the Chinese in Malaysia but it has failed to do so in any meaningful manner. Its leaders have, successively and continuously, failed the Chinese Malaysians, generation after generation.

The MCA has not grown any stronger or wiser since its inception. On the contrary, it has grown increasingly weaker, become less relevant and ended up as a mere doormat for Umno leaders to wipe the dirt off their grimy soles. It is both tragic and harrowing that the leader of Umno should see it fit today to warn, threaten or otherwise hold the Chinese Malaysians at ransom in such a cavalier fashion.

That it has come to this is spine-chilling. This is a watershed for the Chinese in Malaysia. It is time to say: take your four second-class ministerial posts and shaft it up Umno's posterior. We don't want or need it. The MCA ministers have never done anything for us and we do not expect that they ever can or will.

From the time of Lee San Choon, right down to that of Chua Soi Lek, through Tan Koon Swan, Ling Liong Sik, Ong Ka Ting and the others - what have the MCA presidents done for the Chinese or for the country? For whom did they slay the stolen calf?

The presidential history of the MCA is fraught with fraud. That is a fact. MCA representation in the cabinet amounts to no representation. It was zero representation all along. So take your four slots in the cabinet and - you know what to do with them.

Teh: Najib is doing a 'Saya pantang dicabar' ala Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. With the MCA in government, the typical Chinese Malaysian feels like a second-class citizen anyway. So what have they got to lose by not voting MCA? And whatever happened to Najib's 1Malaysia? Or is it 1MCAMalaysia?

Kutty: The PM speaks as if Malaysia is BN's to rule for all eternity. This sparks of arrogance and political naivety. He takes it for granted that people will continue to be coaxed to vote BN into power with each and every election.

Pray tell, Mr PM, what if Pakatan Rakyat is voted into government after the next general election? Doesn't that mean that the Chinese (or any other races for that matter) who voted for Pakatan representatives will be represented (based on your theory, not mine)?

Speaking of that, what does it matter if MCA is there to represent the Chinese or not? A minister of the cabinet is to serve all the rakyat, each and every one, rich or poor, regardless of race or creed.

Why do you need us, political nobodies, to advise you the very basic principles of democracy?

Md Imraz Muhammed Ikhbal: My dear Chinese brethren, search your conscience and engage your God-given intelligence and answer just this one simple question with utmost honesty - for the sake of your race, do you really care if your race is represented by MCA?

Or are you way better off represented by non-Chinese who truly care for the nation and treat all races, not withstanding creed or religion, with respect and dignity?

For those of you blessed with IQ higher than that of a hamster, come next GE, go tell Najib to shove his threat up you know where. Believe you me, we Malays with like thinking shall do exactly that.

EugeneT: Chua Soi Lek must be really desperate to think he can blackmail the Chinese into voting for MCA to be a running dog for the Umnoputras. Najib must really be out of sync with the Chinese to think Soi Lek's threat will pull votes back to BN. My response to Soi Lek and the PM: Naaaaaah!

Gerard Samuel Vijayan: Najib, please call the GE13 tomorrow. I am sure that your threats against the Chinese and urban Indians will win you more votes. Fine, no representation without votes. So what legitimacy will your government have with less than 50 percent of the Malay votes and no votes from the large non-Malay ethnic groups?

Najib's statement also comes across as exclusionary based on race, so 1Malaysia is officially dead.

Anonymous_5fb: Najib, are you not aware that if MCA and Gerakan lose all the seats they contested, Umno will not be able to form government in both state and federal levels? So, your contention that Chinese will not be represented doesn't arise at all since you will not be the PM and BN will not be able to form government.

But even if BN is able to form the next government, can't the BN be a government for all even if no one from MCA is in your cabinet? This simply shows how arrogant and ignorant Umno and BN are.

One more thing Najib, you failed to realise this is not about race, but that you have lost your credibility to govern the country. You don't even realise that Umno is no more a party that represents all Malays.

Oscar Kilo: Why is Najib still talking along racial lines? If he truly believes in 1Malaysia, then race won't matter anymore. He's telling the Chinese to vote for MCA, but there are Chinese who would rather vote for PAS.

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda.

May Day: PSM's Sg Siput MP among dozens arrested

(Malaysiakini) PSM's Sungai Siput MP was among about 20 political, labour and rights activists and leaders caught today in a police dragnet on what was supposed to have been a march in solidarity for workers and to call for a minimum wage law.
NONEDr M Jeyakumar Devaraj (left) had just arrived this morning at the corner of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Dang Wangi, near the Maju Junction shopping complex when, after a few minutes of talking to the police to persuade them to let the group march, Jeyakumar was arrested and taken away.
Police have also barricaded both roads leading to the Dataran Merdeka - Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja Laut - where the march, beginning at the Chow Kit monorail station, was supposed to end.
psm registration rejected 160806 arutchelvanPSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan (right) had earlier also tried to negotiate with the police near the Chow Kit monorail station before being taken away by police officers, believed to be from the Dang Wangi district police headquarters.
Arutchelvan, one of the key members of the Labour Day organising committee, was supposed to have joined others in the march from Chow Kit to the Dataran Merdeka.
In a a short press conference prior to his arrest, Arutchelvan told reporters that he considers the police obstruction to the peaceful march a "violation of basic right".

He also said that he had already informed the police prior to the march, and said such a notice is sufficient as opposed to a police permit.
No permit was issued by the police.
The 100-member strong police contingent had assembled at the monorail station since early morning moved to arrest Arutchelvan shortly after he arrived.
PSM treasurer A Sivarajan was the third party leader to have been arrested by police.
About 20 people have been arrested so far in the police dragnet.
NONEMeanwhile, groups of protesters had left Chow Kit in twos and threes and re-assembled at the nearby Maju Junction shopping complex.
Made up of activists from PSM and other organisations such as grassroots workers network Jerit and student activist group Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM), they organised a sit-in protest at the new Suhakam headquarters on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman near Maju Junction.
may day march 010511 03About 100 police were on hand to observe but did not move in.
At least two other PSM activists, however, were arrested after a short altercation with police.

The small demonstration filled the driveway in front of the Maju Junction-Tabung Haji office, where they chanted slogans and sang workers' songs.

may day march 010511 sit in at suhakamThey blamed the police for obstructing their peaceful march and demanded the release of their arrested compatriots.
Under the watchful eye of the police, a group of students wearing black headbands with the words "May Day Parade" printed on it, unfurled several banners.

One of the banners read "Pergi Mampus Dengan Kapitalis" ('To Hell with the Capitalists!), while others protested free trade agreements and the conditions of workers.
may day march 010511 banner pergi mampus kapitalisBy 12.50pm, the areas around Maju Junction and the Chow Kit monorail station are empty of protestors, many of whom were picked up by three chartered buses to transport them to their respective homes.
Some have headed to the Dang Wangi police station where 19 of their compatriots - including three reported minors - have been detained.
When met at the police station, Bar Council's human rights committee deputy chair lawyer Roger Chan said those arrested were not told the reasons for their arrest.
"They (police) should either release of charge them. In these circumstances, I think they should be released," said Chan.
One activist was arrested outside Dang Wangi police station after he unfurled a May Day banner.

PKR VP tells Najib to withdraw threat to Chinese voters

KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — PKR vice-president N. Surendran has told Datuk Seri Najib Razak to respect the basic principles of democracy and withdraw his “threat” to the Chinese community to vote in MCA in the coming general elections.

“Unable to win over Chinese voters by persuasive argument or by just policies, he now resorts to open threats and intimidation.

“Najib’s statement is evidence of racial politicking of the worst kind. It is proof positive that the biggest obstacle to national unity in Malaysia is the Barisan Nasional and its parochial policies,” he said in a statement today.

Surendran (picture) was responding to the PM’s words to the Chinese community yesterday, telling them they must choose to vote in MCA if they still wanted to represented in Putrajaya, or be left out.

He said the statement undermines and subverts Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy.

Najib, who is also Umno and the ruling BN coalition’s chief, said its Chinese partner had sent out a clear message to voters that they cannot have it both way.

“I see the MCA sending the message that the Chinese cannot support the opposition and at the same time expect strong representation in the government. They have to choose,” he was reported as saying by state news agency, Bernama.

Najib pointed to MCA president, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s pledge that the Chinese party would not accept any post in the federal and state governments if it scored worse in the coming 13th general elections.

Surendran said the PM “has by his own words finally proven that his much promoted 1 Malaysia concept is little more than an opportunistic sham”.

The lawyer said the federal government must understand it stands for everyone and not just a select section of society.

He challenged Najib to withdraw immediately his message and to put in law the Restoration of Democracy Act (RDA), which had been mooted by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact for public benefit.

The RDA was one of the key policies the PR had promised to carry out once they take over Putrajaya.

Among the main points are to restore local government elections and abolish emergency declarations.

Surendran also noted that Dr Chua has been silent in the face of Najib’s “outrageous threat” to the nation.

“MCA and its leaders simply have no courage or moral backbone,” he said, and added that was why the Chinese had deserted the BN’s Chinese party.

Dr Chua is expected to call for a press conference later today.

Libyan leader calls for cease-fire negotiations with NATO

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Saturday urged NATO to negotiate an end to airstrikes, accusing the international coalition of killing civilians and destroying the nation's infrastructure in a bid to take over its oil production.

"Come and negotiate with us. You are the ones attacking us. You are the ones terrifying our kids and destroying our infrastructure. You American, French and British come and negotiate with us," Gadhafi said during a rambling 45-minute address on Libyan state TV.

It was a rare appearance for the leader, who has not been seen in public since international forces began bombing regime targets last month.

The airstrikes started after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution authorizing any means necessary to protect civilians demanding the ouster of the ruler, who has been in power for nearly 42 years.

From the time NATO began its operation on March 31, the organization had conducted 4,398 sorties, of which 1,821 were strike sorties, according to an update issued Saturday. Facilities in or around Tripoli, Zintan, al-Brega and Sirte were targeted on Friday, it said.

At times, Gadhafi's address appeared to be a tirade against NATO and the United Nations.

"What are you trying to do? Trying to take the oil?" he said. "The Libyan people will not allow you ... The oil is under control of the Libyan government and for the people."

He called on the United Nations to review the NATO attacks, saying his country agreed to a cease-fire.

"We are the first ones who wanted and agreed on a cease-fire. But the NATO crusader airstrike did not cease," he said. "It cannot be a cease-fire from one side."

A NATO spokeswoman called for actions, not words shortly after Gadhafi's address.

"The regime has announced ceasefires several times before and continued attacking cities and civilians," NATO deputy spokeswoman Carmen Romero said in a statement.

"Just hours before colonel Qhadafi spoke of a truce, his forces indiscriminately shelled Misrata, killing many people, including children. His forces tried to mine the port to block the access of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered civilians of Misrata. All this has to stop, and it has to stop now."

A spokesman for the Libyan opposition accused Gadhafi of lying and trying to play both sides.

"He's playing both parts. He's buying time at the same time projecting himself as somebody who's trying to find a solution to this problem, while the reality on the ground is he is the one who's seeking to kill and carry out all kind of crimes against the Libyan people," said Jalal al Gallal.

"The man has no credibility anymore," he added.

Gadhafi took to the airwaves after his government threatened to sink any ship approaching the besieged port city of Misrata. The declaration essentially threatens NATO patrols and humanitarian aid ships that have been bringing in food and medical supplies, and ferrying out refugees and the wounded.

The government threat came shortly after NATO said it intercepted government forces laying mines in Misrata's harbor, which has been a lifeline for humanitarian aid.

It also came as Gadhafi's forces were shelling Misrata in an attempt to re-enter the city after being pushed out by rebels. Misrata, the country's third-largest city, has been hemmed in on three sides for weeks by Gadhafi's forces, leaving the sea as the only escape route.

At least nine people were killed and 30 more wounded in Friday's attacks in Misrata, said a doctor, who is a member of the medical committee in the city.

"There is an indiscriminate shelling now in Misrata," said the doctor, who asked not to be identified because he feared retribution by Gadhafi's forces.

Meanwhile, Libyan state TV announced that the military had successfully suppressed operations of the port.

"We will not allow any ship to dock at the port without being inspected by the Libyan government," said Musa Ibrahim, a government spokesman.

He said any aid to Misrata must be delivered through designated land routes.

Opposition spokesman al Gallal said reports of a government takeover of the port were untrue and that rebels are still in control of operations there.

Dr M says political divisions make Malays weak

ALOR STAR, April 30 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told the Malays today they must unite under the Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional (BN) because division into three parties has made them weak.

The former prime minister said a general election, expected to be held within the year, was an important test for the Malays.

“If we are swayed by fairy tales then we will reject BN and vote for the opposition.

“These days, I find that the cry of ‘Hidup Melayu’ (long live the Malays) does not get a lot of support. Malays seem to be afraid of saying ‘Melayu’ in their own land,” he said to over 1,000 Malays in his birthplace.

“When we say ‘Melayu’ we will be called racist,” Dr Mahathir said at a gathering here dubbed Perhimpunan Melayu Perkasa Kedah.

Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister said that in the past, the Malays were only loyal to their respective state Rulers and were easily controlled by other nations such as the Chinese and Siamese.

The Perkasa patron said that Umno had united the Malays and gained independence from the British.

However, PAS’s emergence split the Malays into two and caused the Malays to fight among themselves, he said.

Dr Mahathir said when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim formed PKR after being sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998, it further divided the Malays into three groups.

“He doesn’t care about Malay unity, he just wants to be prime minister,” he said.

Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak had earlier today invited PAS to leave the opposition as it could not further Islam while partnering the DAP.

The prime minister’s invitation follows a call last weekend by Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia for a “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” campaign to unite the Malays against what the newspaper said was racial politics by the DAP to stir up Chinese sentiment.

It also continues concerted efforts by Umno post-Election 2008 to get PAS to join forces in the name of Malay-Muslim unity.

The subject of unity talks between PAS and Umno dominated the 2009 PAS Muktamar, which saw a number of leaders keen on exploring talks with Umno emerging big winners.

Dr Mahathir told reporters later that it was good if PAS wanted to join BN “but when they joined before, they caused trouble. If they are sincere then it is okay.”

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said the Malay rights NGO supported the move even though he did not “think it would become reality.”

“This is because PAS does not think of Malay unity but only taking power and Putrajaya.”

Perkasa warns MCA, Gerakan toe the line or lose Malay votes

ALOR STAR, April 30 — Perkasa warned the MCA and Gerakan today that it would tell the Malays not to vote for their candidates in the next general election if they fail to stand up for the Malays and Islam.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Chinese-based parties would not win any seats without Malay votes and cautioned them to “be friends with Perkasa.”

“We will see whether candidates defend Malays and Islam. If not Perkasa will give the green light to pancung (cut off) them in the general election,” he said at a gathering organised by the Malay rights group here.

Although the Pasir Mas MP extended this threat to all candidates for a general election expected within a year, he singled out the MCA and Gerakan as those that needed Malay votes to win.

“With no Malay votes, not even one can win. They better be friends with Perkasa,” he said.

A majority of Perkasa members are also in Umno, the dominant partner in BN.

Perkasa had supported Utusan Malaysia’s call for a 1 Melayu, 1 Bumi movement after BN lose nearly all Chinese-majority seats in the April 16 Sarawak election.

The result echoed the loss of Chinese votes in the March 2008 general election where MCA won just 15 seats in Parliament — fewer than half the 31 MPs it had before — and Gerakan were wiped out in its former stronghold of Penang.

Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia called for the 1 Melayu, 1 Bumi campaign to unite the Malays against what the Umno-owned daily said was racial politics by DAP to stir up Chinese sentiment.

This led to a running feud with Chinese-dominated parties especially the MCA who called for a boycott of the newspaper.

Ibrahim recently attacked MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek for blaming the loss of Chinese support on Perkasa and the Malay daily, saying that the party’s “immoral leaders” were the cause instead.

He was referring to the sex video that surfaced at the end of 2007 which led to Dr Chua resigning as health minister and MCA vice-president.

Although Ibrahim again criticised Dr Chua for using Perkasa as a “punching bag” today, he supported the announcement that the MCA would decline any government posts if it did not perform in the next general election.

“This is an honourable move. I hope this makes the Chinese aware that they will not be represented if they don’t support BN,” he told reporters after the Perhimpunan Melayu Perkasa Kedah gathering.

Earlier, he had told over 1,000 Malays that the Chinese should be satisfied that “they can do anything in business.”

“They control gambling, alcohol and entertainment centres. These are worth billions. Do Malays stop them? Does the government stop them?

“Still they are not satisfied. What more do they want?” he said.

Chinese must choose, says PM

Najib Tun Razak says the Chinese community must either vote for BN or lose their seats in the government.

KUALA TERENGGANU: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said today the Chinese community must decide whether to vote for a Barisan Nasional (BN) component party or lose representation in the government.

“They have to choose. If they want the opposition, they must sacrifice the party in government. If they want a bigger say to serve their interests, they have to support a BN component party,” he told reporters here after opening Pangsapuri Rakyat on Duyong island here.

“Chinese voters have already been given a clear message on this,” he said.

He was commenting on the statement by MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek yesterday that the party would not accept any post in the federal and state governments if it were to fare worse in the coming general election than it did in the 2008 polls.

Najib said he saw that the MCA was sending a message to Chinese voters that they could not support the opposition and at the same time expect strong representation in the government.

In the 2008 polls, the MCA won 15 of the 40 parliamentary seats it contested and 31 of the 90 state constituencies it vied for.

Najib was confident that the MCA would always be with BN because “they know BN is a fair government and only BN can ensure stability and harmony in this country”.

“We have a proven track record, our policies are accepted by all communities, so MCA, whatever the situation is, will remain with BN,” he said.

Meanwhile, in MUAR, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the Chinese community would suffer a huge loss if there were to be no MCA representatives in the government.

“I hope this does not happen. BN upholds the struggle of all communities, with fair representation of all communities,” he told reporters after opening the meetings of the Youth, Wanita and Puteri wings of the Pagoh Umno division.

Muhyiddin rejected suggestions that the MCA decision was a desperate act.

He was confident that the MCA could, with renewed effort, regain the support of the Chinese community.

-Bernama

An Open Letter to Our Education Minister

The recent focus given to history as a compulsory subject in the Malaysian school curriculum has driven me as a parent of school going children to gain an insight of what my children are learning in history as a subject in school. Before I summarise my findings (via reading my children’s history text books from Form 1 – 5), allow me to briefly take you through what is being taught as history in our government school:

Form 1 students are taught predominantly about the Malacca Sultanate with sporadic anecdotes of the other states. Penang is not mentioned at all and if I’m a student studying in Penang, I will seriously be wondering why. That is until I go to Form 2 whereby I will learn about the Straits Settlement, Tin Mining, Rubber Plantation and Exploitation by the British. Form 3 students learn about the Japanese Occupation, the Communist Party of Malaya, leading to Malaysia’s independence in 1957. A very detailed account of all the political parties in Malaysia is also elaborated. The 1955 Election Results seemed to be an important account in history as it is mentioned twice, in Form 3 and again in Form 5.

In Form 4, other than the first two chapters where one learns about the early civilization and the emergence of various religions, the rest of the year you will be doing an in-depth study of Islam – Islam Civilisation, Islamic Government in Medina, Formation of Islamic Government & Its Contribution, Islam in South East Asia, and Islam Influence in Malaysia. One could not be faulted to ask the question if one is learning history or religious study. I believe Azmi Sharom has expounded succinctly and rather ingeniously on this issue in his article in The Star on 30 Dec 2010.

Form 5 is an overkill on the study of nationalism and the development of race and nation. Out of 10 chapters, Chapters 2 – 8 bear the following titles:

Bab 2: Nasionalisme di Malaysia sehingga Perang Dua Kedua
Bab 3: Kesedaran Pembinaan Negara dan Bangsa
Bab 4: Pembinaan Negara dan Bangsa
Bab 5: Pembinaan Negara dan Bangsa yang Merdeka
Bab 6: Pengukuhan Negara dan Bangsa Malaysia
Bab 7: Sistem Pemerintahan dan Pentadbiran Negara Malaysia
Bab 8: Pembangunan dan Perpaduan untuk Kesejahteraan

I am making a moot point in not translating the above. And finally, in the last chapter in Form 5, you learn about World War I & II; the significance of which are reduced to only five pages in the entire five years of studying history.

I am completely perplexed! Is this all my children are learning in school? Does this not make them myopic and insular? Learning history is much more than learning about Malaysia. One needs to learn about world history. I talked to my children about the Hundred Year Wars, the Renaissance Period, the Mogul Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, the Boston Tea Party, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, Slavery and the American Civil War, The Long March etc and they have no inkling what I am talking about!

There is also an obvious disconnect in the overall flow of the subjects covered. Subjects are doled out independently without any link or correlation to significant events. For example, the Japanese Occupation in Malaya is studied independently and students are not made aware that the Japanese invasion is part and parcel of WWII. Another point I would like to make is that we must use proper English names for the organizations that are mentioned. For example, United Nations is translated to Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu, which is fine until we use PBB as the acronym for UN. Which other country in the world would know what we are talking about if our students refer to UN as PBB? Another bad case of translation is NAM – Pergerakan
Negara-Negara Berkecuali; are we lost in translation yet? I am truly glad that our historians did not attempt to translate Commonwealth and instead use the literal “Komanwel”.

I shall not comment about distortions, half-truths or inaccuracies but I feel strongly that the spirit of the history text books should be written to reflect a fair and realistic account of history, plain and simple. The way it is written now, Malaysia is perceived as a victim of circumstance; we are always the good guys while the rest of the world are the bad guys. I am not sure why we need comments like “Singapura menjadi ‘duri dalam daging’ kepada Malaysia” is in our history text book.

What is the rationale behind our history syllabus? What is the reason for making history a compulsory pass in SPM? We have five solid years to impart history to our school going children and the government has decided that a Malaysian student should learn (almost) solely about
Malaysia and to use this subject as the platform to inculcate nationalism.

History is an important subject as we need to understand the past to appreciate the present in order to achieve the desired future.

I would sincerely like to call upon our Education Minister to re-look the entire history syllabus. We need to give our children a balanced view of world history and yet understand the significance of Malaysia in context. We owe it to our children.

CJ Yong

A Parent

PAS Must Be Sincere To Join BN, Says Mahathir

ALOR SETAR, April 30 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that PAS must be sincere if it wants to join Barisan Nasional.

The former Prime Minister said the party could cause havoc if its leaders were not sincere when admitted into BN.

"That's the problem ...they can cause trouble," Dr Mahathir said when asked to comment on a statement by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak indicating that BN was ready to accept PAS.

Dr Mahathir told reporters that BN should only accept PAS on the condition that it was sincere in wanting to join the coalition. Dr Mahathir also said the Malays needed to think about the colonial past in their country before they make their decision in the coming general election.

If they voted wrongly, they could end up as a marginalised community like the Malays in Singapore, he said.