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Monday, May 2, 2011

It is not Anwar, says HRP

Uthayakumar also accused the government of trying to influence HRP to be part of a conspiracy to implicate Anwar in the sex scandal.

KUALA LUMPUR: Indian rights activist P Uthayakumar got a shock when he found a copy of the alleged Anwar Ibrahim sex video in his mailbox.

The Human Rights Party (HRP) secretary-general said that the video, which was in a CD, was sent to him on April 29 via airmail from Thailand.

“When we played the CD to find out what it was, we discovered it was the (alleged) Anwar sex video,” he told reporters at the HRP office.

Uthayakumar said the envelope was postmarked in Thailand on April 25.

He said that he and other HRP members later watched the video in full, and was convinced that the adulterer was not the opposition leader.

Instead, he said that the video was the government’s efforts in trying to “politically kill” off Anwar.

“I think the sender wanted me to influence me to be part of the conspiracy to implicate Anwar,” he said.

Uthayakumar also said that HRP’s vocal criticism of Pakatan Rakyat’s policies may have been a factor in sending the video to him.

“I am not a blind supporter of Anwar and we are very critical of him,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said that the video was part of a greater conspiracy targeted at the PKR supremo.

He accused the police and the Special Branch of having a hand in sending the video to his house, which he claimed not even his close friends knew.

“Nobody knows my exact address,” he said, adding that the letter’s was supposedly printed by the authorities.

‘Police the perpetrators’

Uthayakumar said that the manner in which the letter was sent was similar to a 2004 envelope containing a live bullet mailed to his residence.

He said that he was not going to file a police report over the CD, citing a total lack of confidence over the matter.

“They (police) are the perpetrators of this crime,” he said, adding that there is also a loss of faith in the Malaysian judiciary.

Instead, Uthayakumar said: “We are going to send this CD to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s office with a message to stop this level of gutter politics.”

He added that he was planning on doing so next week.

The sex video was shown in early April to a group of journalists at the Carcosa Seri Negara hotel.

Revealed by businessman Shahzryl Eskay Abdullah, Perkasa treasurer Shuib Lazim and former Malacca Chief Minister Rahim Tamby Chik (collectively known as Datuk T), the video appeared to depict Anwar having sex with a Chinese sex worker.

Anwar has since vehemently denied the claims, and accused the government of political assassination.

U.S. forces kill elusive terror figure Osama bin Laden in Pakistan

(CNN) -- Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil, is dead, officials said -- almost 10 years after the attacks that killed about 3,000 people.

The founder and leader of al Qaeda was killed by U.S. forces Monday in a mansion in Abbottabad, north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, along with other family members, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

In an address to the nation Sunday night, U.S. President Barack Obama called bin Laden's death "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda."

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," Obama said. "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

A congressional source familiar with the operation said bin Laden was shot in the head.

A U.S. official told CNN that bin Laden was buried at sea. The official said his body was handled in the Islamic tradition, but did not elaborate.

Half a world away, the scene outside the White House was one of pure jubilation.

Hundreds reveled through the night, chanting "USA! USA!" Others chanted "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye!" in reference to the demise of bin Laden. Many also spontaneously sang the national anthem.

In New York, a cheering crowd gathered at ground zero -- the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. Strains of "God Bless America" could be heard intermittently trickling through the crowd.
One former New York firefighter -- forced to retire due to lung ailments suffered as a result of the dust from ground zero -- said he was there to let the 343 firefighters who died in the attacks know "they didn't die in vain."

"It's a war that I feel we just won," he said. "I'm down here to let them know that justice has been served."

Bob Gibson, a retired New York police officer, said the news of bin Laden's death gave him a sense of "closure."

"I never thought this night would come, that we would capture or kill bin Laden," he said. "And thank the Lord he has been eliminated."

The news also brought some relief to family members of those killed on 9/11.

Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son when the World Trade Center's north tower collapsed, said he was gratified when he learned of bin Laden's death.

"(My) son still isn't coming home," he told CNN. "(There's) no closure, but at last at least some justice for the murder of 3,000 Americans, finally."

"This is important news for us, and for the world," Gordon Felt, president of Families of Flight 93, said in a statement. "It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil."

Bin Laden eluded capture for years, once reportedly slipping out of a training camp in Afghanistan just hours before a barrage of U.S. cruise missiles destroyed it.

He had been implicated in a series of deadly, high-profile attacks that had grown in their intensity and success during the 1990s. They included a deadly firefight with U.S. soldiers in Somalia in October 1993, the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 224 in August 1998, and an attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in October 2000.

In his speech, Obama reiterated that the United States is not fighting Islam.

"I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims," Obama said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, released a statement Monday morning welcoming the death of bin Laden.

"As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide," the statement said.

While the death of bin Laden "is a significant victory," the war on terrorism is not over, said Frances Fragos Townsend, former Homeland Security advisor to President George W. Bush.

"We've been fighting these fractured cells. We've seen the U.S. government, military and intelligence officials deployed around the world," Townsend said. "By no means are these other cells nearly as dangerous as he is, but we will continue to have to fight in chaotic places."

U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world were placed on high alert following the announcement of bin Laden's death, a senior U.S. official said, and the U.S. State Department issued a "worldwide caution" for Americans.

The travel alert warned of the "enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan." Some fear al Qaeda supporters may try to retaliate against U.S. citizens or U.S. institutions.

But for now, many Americans were soaking up the historic moment.

"It's what the world needed," said Dustin Swensson, who recently served in Iraq and joined the revelers outside the White House. "(I'll) always remember where I was when the towers went down, and I'm always going to remember where I am now."

Gunners pound rebels, embassies sacked after Gadhafi's son said killed

Libyan rebels on patrol near the airport at al-Ghiran close to the key port city of Misrata on April 30, 2011.Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Government forces pounded rebel-held cities and crowds ransacked empty embassies in Tripoli on Sunday after Libyan authorities reported a NATO airstrike killed one of longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi's sons and three of his grandchildren.

The U.S. Embassy was attacked by what one U.S. official called an "organized mob," along with the British, French, Italian and Qatari embassies, British and Italian officials told CNN. Meanwhile, pro-Gadhafi forces stepped up their shelling of rebel positions in Misrata after Libya's government reported the deaths.

"It's going to be like revenge," one eyewitness in the embattled coastal city of Misrata said.

The eyewitness reported significant damage and some casualties in Misrata, the country's third-largest city. The city remains in rebel hands, with no forces aligned with Gadhafi remaining in the city itself, he said.

Another witness, who agreed to be identified only as Mohammed, said "very heavy shelling" targeted the coastal city's port.

"I have been here during all days of the conflict," he told CNN. "Last night was the worst."

And a third man, who wanted to be identified only as Abdsalam, said the port was heavily bombarded. Electricity is out in nearly the entire city, and food and fresh water are running scarce, he said.

"They are using every every possible type of weapon," he said.

The Libyan government said Sunday that Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi, and three grandchildren died in the strike that destroyed the son's home in Tripoli. The Libyan government identified the children as Saif al-Arab's sons Gartaj Hannibal Muammar al-Gadhafi, age 3, and 2-year-old Saif Mohammad al-Gadhafi, as well as Mastoura Hamid Abuzitaia, the daughter of the leader's daughter Aysha.

State TV aired video of two bodies, wrapped in white shrouds and draped with flags, one of which was reported to be the body of Gadhafi's son. A funeral procession and burial for the fallen "martyrs" will be held on Monday, state TV said.

The Libyan leader and his wife were in the house when it was targeted, but they are in good health, government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told journalists.

The building was in a residential area of Tripoli that houses several embassies. Ibrahim called the bombing a "war crime." The strike destroyed the two-bedroom, single-story house, leaving a massive crater in its place.

CNN could not independently confirm the reports, and NATO said in a statement Sunday that the alliance 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," said Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO's military operations. However, Bouchard said, 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."

But U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a leading supporter of the Libya campaign, called the elder Gadhafi a "murderer" and "a legitimate military target."

"He's not the legitimate leader of Libya, and the way to get this to end is to go after the people around him and his support system," Graham told "Fox News Sunday." The South Carolina Republican is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In Benghazi, a hub for rebel forces and their transitional government, the news triggered celebratory gunfire even as a rebel spokesman dismissed the reported death as "a desperate attempt to get sympathy."

"In all honesty, we never heard of Saif al-Arab until the start of the uprising," said Hafiz Ghoga, deputy chairman of the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, on Sunday.

"We don't believe this is true ... This regime constantly lies and keeps lying," he added.

Opposition members, citing witness reports, also warned that pro-Gadhafi troops in the town of Zintan, 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Misrata, and other nearby areas have been equipped with gas masks. The opposition figures say that suggests the government forces are preparing to use chemical weapons against rebel forces -- but the accounts lacked detail, and CNN could not independently confirm the reports.

Ibrahim dismissed the allegations as "all lies."

"Every time they come with a lie, they jump out to the next lie," he said. "The media cannot report from one side of reports. It is the same lie when they said we are using cluster bombs."

Human Rights Watch reported in mid-April that pro-Gadhafi troops were firing cluster munitions into Misrata and displayed a portion of a Spanish-made mortar shell that releases 21 smaller bombs across a wide area. The Libyan government denies the allegation.

Fighting also intensified Sunday near the rebel-held Djerba border crossing into Tunisia, witnesses and Tunisia's state news agency reported. The TAP news agency said the flow of refugees out of Libya had slowed, possibly as a result.

NATO began bombarding Libya on March 19, after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution authorizing any means necessary to protect civilians demanding the end of Gadhafi's nearly 42-year rule. The alliance said it targeted a "command-and-control building" in Tripoli on Saturday, as well as hit seven ammunition depots around the capital.

According to a NATO military official, the airstrike that Libya says killed Gadhafi's son involved four precision-targeted bombs, one of which failed to detonate. The official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the alliance was certain the target was a command-and-control facility and said the building hit, although above ground, had reinforced portions.

The official said NATO had "no evidence" that Gadhafi's relatives had been killed.

A photograph of the site showed the unexploded bomb, a 2,000-pound weapon designed to penetrate reinforced concrete, but NATO would not confirm what other types of ordnance may have been dropped. Nor would it disclose which nation's aircraft carried out the strike, or what type of aircraft were used.

Libyan officials attacked the U.S. Embassy compound in Tripoli Sunday, as well as the British, French and Italian missions, according to a senior U.S. official in Washington. All four NATO nations are taking part in the airstrikes.

Mark Toner, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said he had seen reports of violence against the diplomatic facilities and that if true, "we condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms."

Italian officials told CNN that the embassy of Qatar, a Gulf Arab state that supports the campaign and is supplying arms to the rebels, was also targeted.

The senior U.S. official said Turkey, the protecting power for U.S. interests in Libya, is trying to keep an eye on the American compound -- but "there isn't much they can do when you have an organized mob, as this appeared to be."

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague expelled Libya's ambassador to the United Kingdom after the attacks. Hague said the Tripoli government is breaching its international obligation to protect diplomatic missions by allowing the vandalism.

"The attacks against diplomatic missions will not weaken our resolve to protect the civilian population in Libya," Hague said.

Ibrahim told CNN the attacks happened because "the people were upset" and that Libyan security forces stopped the attacks and prevented the embassies from being destroyed.

"There are embassies that have not been touched," he said.

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said later the government deeply regrets the looting and violence at the embassies. Angry crowds simply overwhelmed police, he said.

In addition, 12 U.N. international staffers left Tripoli because of the unrest and are in Tunisia, the world body said Sunday. Spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said the United Nations would not identify the staffers or their agencies for safety reasons. U.N. national staffers are still in the country and international staffers remain in Benghazi.

Putrajaya looking at ‘1School’ for unity, harmony

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Putrajaya is to study a proposal for a standardised school system dubbed “1School” which is set to re-ignite debate over the necessity of vernacular schools, similar to the arguments when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad initiated the Vision School to enhance unity.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the Youth Development Lab in the Ministry of Youth and Sports has recommended the establishment of a standardised school system called “1School” to promote unity and diversity.

The lab also has requested the Ministry of Education to draft an education standardisation roadmap that will be divided into four phases against the current national primary school system which has parallels with the Mandarin and Tamil school systems.

Sources said the first phase will be a co-ordinated exchange of programmes between vernacular and national schools while the second phase will be the introduction of a third language in both schools.

He said the programme will initially start in selected schools and later implemented at all schooling levels. The choice of a third language will however be based on the school demography.

The third phase will be co-locating of schools and the final phase is the implementation of the 1School system.

Dr Mahathir’s administration had proposed the formation of Vision Schools to group national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools in one single compound, but his idea was opposed by vernacular educationist groups and only a few such institutions were ever set up.

The Vision Schools envisioned children learning together within an area without regard for race or religion to foster solidarity, integration and respect among them by sharing school facilities and implementation of other extra-curricular activities.

His son, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, has also been lobbying for the unification of the education system and said that that it is an idea that was first proposed in the Penyata Razak (Razak Report) of 1956.

He made reference to the report by former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the then-Education Minister, which was to “unify students from all races with one education system that covers all races. We are of the opinion that to carry this out, we need to integrate the syllabus of all schools.”

Mukhriz had suggested that the current dual-stream system of national and vernacular schools be scrapped and be replaced by one which would use Bahasa Malaysia as its medium of instruction in all subjects except science, maths and language subjects.

However, his suggestion came under heavy fire from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties to the extent that he was accused of sedition, with a police report filed against him.

Mind your own business, Khalid tells Soi Lek

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — PAS’s Khalid Samad has told Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to mind his own business and not deflect focus on the MCA’s troubles onto the Islamist party ahead of the 13th general election.

The MCA president had shut the door on PAS joining the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition yesterday, ironically telling the opposition party to drop its Islamic principles even as he conceded Datuk Seri Najib Razak had extended the offer again based on the common creed.

“MCA’s stand has been very clear that we will not accept PAS trying to make this country into a theocratic Islamic state. We will not accept that and PM is fully aware of MCA’s stance,” Dr Chua told reporters in Malacca.

Khalid, who is a PAS political bureau member, cast doubt that Dr Chua knew what he was talking about when he raised the matter.

“I doubt very much if CSL knows what he is talking about as what PAS sees as its objectives have never been presented to him before as he has shown little or no interest to find out,” Khalid told The Malaysian Insider in a text message yesterday evening, using the MCA politician’s initials.

“What he envisages as PAS’s political objectives may not be what PAS has in mind. So before setting conditions for accepting PAS, please ensure (1) PAS is even interested being accepted by the MCA and (2) you know what you are talking about,” Khalid said.

The Shah Alam MP advised Dr Chua to pay more attention to the MCA’s sliding popularity among the Chinese community than PAS’s need to be accepted by the MCA.

He said the first issue was a factual problem for the senior partner in the ruling coalition “while the latter is of no concern to anyone, least of all to PAS”.

“If the MCA is rejected by the Chinese community, then its likes or dislikes and its preferences are of no concern to anyone except itself,” Khalid said, noting that even Umno, its BN partner, no longer paid attention to the MCA.

Najib’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 had dominated the 2009 PAS Muktamar, which saw a number of leaders keen on exploring talks with Umno emerge as big winners.

More recently, top PAS and Umno leadership met at a Christmas Eve dinner, hosted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last year, during which the subject of Malay unity was once again broached.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider the move then to bring PAS into BN entailed both PAS president Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang and his deputy Nasharuddin Mat Isa being given a prominent role in Putrajaya if the party decides to abandon Pakatan Rakyat (PR), but spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat continues to be the major obstacle in bringing PAS closer to the ruling coalition.

Following the furore over the Christmas Eve meet, Hadi had reassured his partners in PR that the Islamist party was committed to remaining in the pact.

Desak Sumpah Balas: Jelas Langgar Prinsip Maqasid Syariah

Oleh Al-Bakistani

Eskay telah bersumpah laknat dalam mendakwa Anwar Ibrahim adalah pelaku dalam video seks yang telah tersebar. Ramai tokoh- tokoh agama di Malaysia yang terlupa ingin menyebut hukum qazaf, tetapi lebih seronok menyebut “sumpah balas” dari Anwar Ibrahim.

Sepatutnya, mereka perlu mengeluarkan kenyataan mendesak agar pihak mahkamah syariah mengambil tindakan terhadap Eskay atas kesalahan Qazaf. Ini kerana, tuduhan secara terang itu terpancul dari mulut Eskay dengan menyebut Nama Anwar Ibrahim.

Sumpah tidak semestinya menentukan benarnya dakwaan tersebut, tetapi dalam syariah, kebenaran itu melalui saksi seramai empat orang lelaki yang adil, yang tidak melakukan dosa kecil dan dosa besar. Disamping saksi tersebut melihat dengan mata kepalanya sendiri, bukan melalui video atau CCTV. Bersumpahnya Eskay itu, tidak menyebabkan tergugurnya kewajipan bagi dirinya mendapatkan empat orang saksi. Malahan, dia menyebut nama Anwar Ibrahim disamping bersumpah itu merupakan bukti kukuh bagi mahkamah syariah menangkap Eskay untuk dihadapkan mahkamah atas kesalahan Qazaf.

Tindakan menyuruh Anwar Ibrahim membalas sumpah tersebut merupakan satu perkara yang salah. Ini kerana, ia mampu menghapuskan kandungan maqasid syariah yang terpenting juga, iaitu menjaga maruah. [Sebilangan besar ulama mengatakan penjagaan maruah ini termasuk dibawah penjagaan keturunan, tetapi Al-Qurafi dalam kitab al-Furuq menyatakan penjagaan maruah itu adalah satu kandungan maqasid yang keenam]

Ada pihak menyatakan dengan cara bersumpah balas dapat menjaga maruah Anwar Ibrahim seperti yang dikehendaki oleh kandungan Maqasid Syariah. Kenyataan ini jika dilihat dari lapisan yang nipis, akan dianggap sebagai benar. Tetapi jika dihayati secara mendalam, ia merupakan perkara yang salah dan boleh disifatkan sebagai mewujudkan perkara baru dalam agama, atau diistilahkan sebagai bidaah.

Ini kerana, dalam maqasid syariah, tidak boleh melakukan satu tindakan dengan tujuan untuk menghilangkan satu kemudharatan, boleh melahirkan kemudharatan yang lain. Dengan maksud, sekiranya Anwar Ibrahim tetap bersumpah juga, ia akan mendatangkan implikasi yang cukup buruk selepas dari itu. Iaitu, implikasi bahawa amat mudah berlaku kejadian tuduhan zina, penjenayah mampu mengelak diri dengan semata-mata bersumpah, hukum qazaf akan jadi hukum yang tidak relevan lagi di minda rakyat Malaysia dan banyak lagi.

Ada pula pihak mendakwa dibenarkan tindakan Anwar Ibrahim bersumpah balas itu dengan merujuk kepada hadis kisah Ifk, iaitu Peristiwa fitnah zina yang berlaku ke atas Sayyidatuna Aisyah. Ini kerana, ketika Rasulullah SAW bersoal jawab dengan Aisyah bagi mendapatkan kepastian tentang apa yang dituduh.

Bermaksud :
“Lalu Rasulullah SAW keluar sehingga sampai ke rumah Abu Bakar dan menemui Aisyah. Baginda berkata : Wahai Aisyah, jika kamu telah melakukan perkara ini katakan padaku supaya aku memohon keampunan kepada Allah bagi kamu. Lalu Aisyah menjawab : Demi Allah aku tidak akan sekali-kali memohon keampunan Allah kerananya, jika aku telah melakukannya, tiada keampunan Allah bagiku, aku tidak dapati diriku dan diri kamu semua kecuali seperti yang berlaku kepada bapa Yusuf (sambil membaca surah Yusuf ayat 86)”

Perlu diperlu diperhatikan pada hadis ini, bahawa sumpah yang dilakukan oleh Aisyah bukan merujuk kepada bersumpah untuk nafikan tuduhan fitnah, tapi ia tidak mahu memohon keampuan kepada Allah.

Jadi, dakwaan boleh bersumpah balas itu dengan merujuk kepada hadis ini adalah salah dari sudut pengadaptasiannya. Malahan, ia merupakan tindakan yang tidak cermat dalam merungkai perkara syariah.

Sekian

Wallahu ‘Alam

May Day: Maju Junction scenes

Air France crash recorder recovered

Deep sea search parties have found one of two recorders from an Air France flight that crashed off the coast of Brazil in 2009, according to investigators.

The news on Sunday revived hopes of understanding what caused the crash.

The Airbus 330-203 jet fell into the Atlantic Ocean off the northeast coast of Brazil en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro in June 2009, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board after the flight hit stormy weather.

The flight data recorder (FDR) could give vital clues about the flight's final moments.

French investigators said in a statement the FDR, which together with the flight-deck voice recorder is called the "black box", had been hauled up to the deck of a search boat.

Pictures published on the website of France's BEA air accident inquiry office before the instrument was pulled to the surface show an orange cylindrical object half-buried in sand.

A BEA statement said the "memory unit" was "in good physical condition" after it was "raised and lifted by the Remora 6000 ROV [robot submarine] on board the ship Ile de Sein at 16h40 UTC".

'Good physical condition'

The discovery comes after years of start-and-stop search efforts on a 10,000sq km area of sea floor to locate the aircraft's two recorders, which investigators hope will settle a dispute over the cause of the crash.

Jean-Paul Troadec, the BEA's director, said: "At this stage, the box seems to be in good physical condition. Our experts will tell us if there's hope to read the data.

"If the data can be used it will allow the enquiry to make headway because the FDR records the altitude, speed and the various positions of the rudder."

The FDR was expected to arrive at BEA offices within eight to 10 days, to allow for the search of the flight-deck voice recorder, so the two can be taken back to France.

Speculation about what caused the accident has focused on the possible icing up of the aircraft's speed sensors, which seemed to give inconsistent readings before communication was lost.

Investigators announced on Wednesday that search teams had retrieved part of a "black box" from the aircraft but not the part containing the key data.

BEA said the chassis that held one of the recorders was found a day after a salvage ship began working to retrieve bodies and recently discovered wreckage using the Remora submarines.

Previous searches had recovered a limited amount of wreckage and about 50 bodies.

Air France and Airbus - which are being investigated for alleged manslaughter in connection with the crash, the deadliest in the carrier's history - are paying the estimated $12.7 million cost of the search.

Source:Agencies

Scepticism surrounds 'Gaddafi son's death'

Libyans in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi have taken to the streets to celebrate the government's announcement of the death of Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son in an air strike, but growing scepticism remains over the veracity of the news.

Gaddafi and his wife were in the Tripoli house of his 29-year-old son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, when it was hit by at least one missile fired by a NATO warplane late on Saturday, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said on Sunday.

Al-Arab's compound in Tripoli’s Garghour neighbourhood was attacked "with full power" in a "direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country", Ibrahim said, calling the strike a violation of international law.

"What we have now is the law of the jungle," he told a news conference. "We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians."

Ibrahim had earlier taken journalists to the remnants of a house in Tripoli, which Libyan officials said had been hit by at least three missiles. It appeared unlikely anyone inside could have survived.

No NATO confirmation

The strike drew criticism from Russia, which accused NATO of going beyond its UN mandate to protect civilians.

"More and more facts indicate that the aim of the anti-Libyan coalition is the physical destruction of Gaddafi,'' Konstantin Kosachyov, a Russian lawmaker who often serves as a spokesman for the Kremlin's views on foreign affairs, said.

NATO continued strikes against military installations in the Libyan capital, including one on a known command and control building in the Bab al-Aziziya neighbourhood, but it could not confirm the deaths of some of Gaddafi's family members, Carmen Romero, the deputy NATO spokeswoman in Brussels, told Al Jazeera by phone.

NATO targets do not include individuals, as they are military in nature and clearly linked to the regime's systematic attacks on Libyans, Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO's Operation Unified Protector, said earlier on Sunday in a statement.

"This was a military target and we cannot confirm who was there," Romero emphasised, dismissing questions over the target site being a family home.

UK prime minister David Cameron echoed NATO's stance on the western coalition forces’ targeting policy, and refused to comment on an "unconfirmed report".

'Embassies vandalised'

The comments came as clashes continued in several parts of Libya, with reports of vandalism on the British and Italian embassies in the capital.

Following the reports, the UK expelled the Libyan envoy, giving him 24 hours to leave the country.

"The Vienna Convention requires the Gaddafi regime to protect diplomatic missions in Tripoli. By failing to do so that regime has once again breached its international responsibilities and obligations," William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said in a statement, referring to Gaddafi.

"I condemn the attacks on the British Embassy premises in Tripoli as well as the diplomatic missions of other countries," Hague said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations announced it had evacuated its international staff from the capital due to the unrest.

Stephanie Bunker, a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on Sunday that 12 staffers had left Libya and were now in neighbouring Tunisia, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Elsewhere, fighting continued on the western border near Tunisia, where a number of Gaddafi's troops tried to break through the border crossing into Tunisia.

Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from the Tunisia-Libya border, said she could hear Grad rockets whizzing past.

"Rebel forces seem to know the territory very well here, and as long as they occupy the higher ground, they appear to have the upper hand."

There were also reports of fierce fighting in the city of Misurata, as opposition fighters try to seize the city's airport from Gaddafi forces. Pro-democracy forces also reported fighting near the opposition-held city of Zintan, where they said NATO air strikes hit pro-Gaddafi troops.

Distrust of Gaddafi

The fighting came as Libyan state television showed what it called footage of the body of Gaddafi's son who was allegedly killed in the NATO air strike a day earlier.

Rifle fire and car horns rang out in Benghazi as news of Saturday's attack spread. Cars whizzed by the sea front beeping their horns and shouting "God is greatest" as the night sky was lit up by red tracer fire.

But opposition fighters there who control a vast swathe of the east of the country say they cannot trust Gaddafi.

Al Jazeera's Sue Turton, reporting from Benghazi, said there were "an awful lot" of suggestions in Libya that the news of the deaths could be fabricated.

"One of the main spokesmen for the Transitional National Council, Abdul Hafez Goga, is saying he thinks it could all be fabrication, that it may well be Gaddafi is trying to garner some sympathy," she said.

"Back in 1986, Gaddafi once claimed that Ronald Reagan, then US president, had launched a strike on his compound in Tripoli and killed his daughter. Many journalists since then dug around and found out that the actual child that had died had nothing to do with Gaddafi, that he sort of adopted her posthumously."

Saif al-Arab Gaddafi is the most unknown of the Libyan leader's children, Al Jazeera's McNaught said.

"He's one of the low-profile of his children and has been largely invisible since the conflict began", she said.

"He hasn't been visible in any significant form. He hasn't appeared on TV or made any speeches, he hasn't been on any crowd-rallying marches."

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

MCA gambling away Malaysia’s future, Guan Eng says

KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — Lim Guan Eng slammed political foe MCA and its president today for what the DAP leader labelled a reckless and desperate gamble to ensure its survival by asking Chinese Malaysians for support to ensure a place in a Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

The Penang chief minister said if the MCA won in the coming general elections, they will not be able to attribute it to support from the Chinese community they are supposed to represent, but the voters’ fear of losing their voice in government.

“What is the point then of electing wakil rakyats [elected representatives] who neither listen to the people nor do the people’s work but will only listen to Umno and do Umno’s dirty work of corruption and abuse of power?” Lim asked in a statement today.

“What hope is there for Malaysians, if BN, Umno and MCA are allowed to continue to steal our children’s future?” he added.

The MCA, led by its president, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, had pledged to stay out of government if it failed to improve its flagging support among Chinese voters in the 13th general election, expected now to be called anytime from August to early next year.

Dr Chua and his men had warned the Chinese that they stood to lose if MCA had no seat at the government table.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also Umno chief, reminded the community yesterday to either support MCA or lose representation in a Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

MCA won 15 out of the 40 federal seats and 31 out of 90 state seats in Election 2008.

The DAP secretary-general said Dr Chua’s political gamble has opened the way for Umno’s top leaders to jump in and stir up racial tension by pitting Malays against Chinese and Malays against Malays, as signalled in Najib’s latest overture to PAS to rejoin the BN.

“Unfortunately this has also deepened racial polarisation by giving Umno the opportunity to show that they are ultra-Malay defenders by inviting PAS to join Umno in BN,” he said.

The Islamist party is the DAP’s partner in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact, together with PKR.

Lim said the gesture was a betrayal of the PM’s own 1 Malaysia movement and indicated the set up of “a grand coalition of racist and extremist Malays”.

The opposition lawmaker also challenged Dr Chua to prove his sincerity as and pull the Chinese party out of the BN if it loses again in the national polls.

“What is the point of just withdrawing from Cabinet when you do not withdraw from BN?” the Bagan MP taunted, reminded of Dr Chua’s statement that MCA will stick with the 13-party coalition even if it lost.

“Voters are voting against BN as this is the symbol and not MCA’s symbol when contesting in elections,” Lim said.

Minister taken to task over minimum wage tweets

Human Resources Minister comes under fire for suggesting that higher wage depends on increased productivity.

PETALING JAYA: DAP economist and Klang MP Charles Santiago today lashed out at Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam over his comments which appeared to demean the demands for a minimum wage.

“In the last 10-15 years, workers face wage stagnation. Their wages increased only by 2.6% during the same period,” said Santiago.

He added that to make matters worse, household debts make up 78% of the Gross Domestic Product which contributes to 50% of Malaysians to be highly in debts.

He was responding to comments made by Subramaniam on minimum wage this morning when he alluded that high income as sought by the proponents of minimum wage must be in tandem with increased productivity.

The minister, also the MIC deputy president tweeted: “Income should increase with productivity. Prices in Malaysia are competitive on a global scale.

“Shift of industry towards knowledge and technology will move wages up,” he added.

A clearly peeved Santiago also debunked the notion that skilled workers earned more.

“A total of 400,000 skilled Malaysian workers are working in Singapore because the salary scale for the skilled work force is lower here compared to Singapore,” he said.

Elaborating further Santiago said that the Human Resources Ministry is only contemplating of setting the minimum wage at RM500 to RM700. The current poverty line is set at RM720.

“The round table conference on minimum wage which I hosted on Friday determined that the minimum wage should be on the scale of RM1,500 to RM2,000,” he said.

He also raised concerns over who was in charge of determining the minimum wage – was it the Human Resources Ministry or the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Amnesty row: Mohan urged to reveal stand

Perak MIC leader and state assembly speaker R Ganesan implies that the Youth chief is the hidden hand behind the voices of discontent.
UPDATED - FMT

PETALING JAYA: MIC Youth chief T Mohan has been urged to make public his stand on the dispute surrounding the readmission of several sacked party members.

Responding to a report filed with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) over the matter by youth secretary C Shivarraajjh, Perak MIC leader R Ganesan implied that Mohan was the hidden hand.

“He should come forward to make his stand openly on the issue since his secretary has gone against the decision of the elected CWC (central working committee) and interest of party members.

“Everyone knows who is behind Shivarraajjh,” added the Perak state legislative assembly speaker.

On Friday, Shivarraajjh filed the report with the Selangor ROS, stating that the CWC’s decision to readmit the sacked members and reinstate them to their former positions contravened the party constitution.

Among those reinstated were Youth deputy chief V Mugilan, CWC members KP Samy and G Kumar Amaan as well as Petaling Jaya division chief V Subramaniam.

The four, sacked by former president S Samy Vellu last year, were instrumental in the formation of the now-defunct Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu or GAS.

Samy Vellu’s successor G Palanivel had resolved to offer them an amnesty in order to re-unite the different factions. The CWC later endorsed this after a heated debate.

‘President is trying his best’

Meanwhile, Ganesan backed Palanivel on his reunification efforts, saying the president was trying his best to introduce inclusive policies at every level and prepare MIC for the next general election.

“His readiness to bring back sacked members and office bearers is welcomed by the Indian community,” he said, adding that those who opposed it were backward thinkers with ulterior motives.

Ganesan said that it was important for all quarters in MIC to view this development positively in the interest of Barisan Nasional.

“Reconciliation and strengthening MIC should be of utmost importance, only then will MIC be relevant to the Indian community,” he added.

Commenting further on Shivarraajjh’s action, Ganesan asked why the former had used the national youth’s official letterhead to send a press statement when he claimed to have acted in his own capacity as a branch youth leader.

“Questioning the decision of elected CWC members by an ordinary youth branch leader and appointed national youth secretary is similar to questioning the wisdom of party delegates since they elected the CWC members, who are the highest decision-making body in the party,” he said.

Ganesan also urged the president to have a balanced representation of youth leaders from other states in the national youth council.

Currently, he said, the council was over-represented by those from Selangor, particularly those from the Puchong division such as Mohan and Shivarraajjh.

“There is an urgent need to empower and mobilise youths from various states to face the next general election,” he added.

No political agenda

In a statement to FMT later, CWC member N Rawichandran slammed Shivrraajjh for taking the matter to the ROS, and urged Mohan to act against him.

“He is only an appointed leader, unlike the CWC members, who were voted into the committee by the party’s delegates. The CWC is a superior body.

“Mohan should ask his secretary to step down or retract his report,” he said.

Rawichandran, who is also Selangor MIC treasurer, stressed that the move to readmit sacked leaders or those who left on their own accord was because of unity, and there was no political agenda.

“It is not only about the four. It is open to everyone. As for reinstating them to their previous posts, it was done out of respect for the delegates who voted for them in the party elections,” he said.

The CWC member also believes that Shivarraajjh’s action did not reflect the stand of the entire youth wing.

Mohan bites back

Contacted later, Mohan told FMT that unlike some leaders in the party, he was not an apple polisher.

“Every CWC member, including Ganesan, knows my stand on this issue. As for Shivarraajjh, he has the right to voice his views as an ordinary member and we have to respect that right,” he said.

“When the decision to sack them was made, the same CWC member Ganesan backed it, but now because he wants positions and a seat in the general election, he sings a different tune,” he added.

Malay special rights must be respected, says Dr Chua

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider

MALACCA, May 1 — Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has stressed that Malay special rights is protected under the federal constitution, explaining today his offer to vote for PKR was to expose Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) deception.

The MCA president said the statement in a YouTube clip posted by his party was taken out of context as it was a response to a question during a meeting with his Facebook fans.

“There was this young man that said MCA was not pushing hard enough to ensure equality and abolishment of Malays special rights.

“I said very simply that the Malay special rights is entrenched in the constitution under article 153 and in order to remove that you require two-thirds and you also need the ruler’s council approval even if you get approved in parliament,” he said today.

In the clip, Dr Chua said, “If PKR dares to amend the constitution and cancel Malay privileges, I will be the first to raise my hands to vote for PKR,”

He added the public has been misled by PR’s promise of false hope.

“I said that they have been misled and the opposition only gives hope that as if they are pushing for abolishment of Malay special rights because you can see the DAP everyday is talking about equality among the races. I said that if they dare to do it then we will also be supporting them.

“Because they are not doing it but they are just spinning it and bluffing the rakyat and rising the hope and expectation of the Chinese community towards MCA and Barisan Nasional. It is a false hope,” he said.

MCA has been under heavy scrutiny following the April 16 Sarawak election where BN lost nearly all Chinese-majority seats to PR.

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.

India Rejects, US, Russia on $11bn fighter contract

Image(Asia Sentinel) Decision stuns US, the front-runner because of its intensive efforts to woo India's defense establishment

India used to be a proud leader of the old Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), standing notionally between the US and Soviet blocs, but always tilting towards Moscow.

It is therefore both apt and heartening to hear today reports that the government is taking a truly NAM-style route on an $11bn contract for fighter jets by rejecting bids from both America's Lockheed Martin F-16s and Boeing F-18s and Russia's MiG-35s.

This is a diplomatically brave decision that most observers never expected after India signed its nuclear power deal with the US in 2008. Numerous US officials from President Barack Obama downwards have lobbied hard for the $11bn multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) contract, indicating that it was expected as a nuclear thank-you. What seemed most likely therefore was that Lockheed or Boeing would be included – even though, as India knows, its supplies are unreliable – until the end of the process. Then the US would not give up until it had driven other bidders out of the contest.

The US offerings however did not match up to required standards during flight testing – nor did the MiGs. The F-18 failed tests in the cold and high Himalayas of Ladakh, and the F-16, flown by Pakistan, is long in the tooth. The Griffin fighter from Saab of Sweden has also been rejected.

The contest is now between Typhoon jets (above) from the four-nation EADS Eurofighter consortium (Germany, Spain, UK and Italy) and Rafale from Dassault of France. India's MoD is believed to have been impressed with the Typhoon, while the IAF has strong links with Dassault, whose Mirage fighters have been successfully in service in India since the early 1980s and are now being upgraded.

Rejection of the US companies therefore shows a degree of sophisticated detached decision-making from the Ministry of Defence's minister, A.K.Antony. Together with his senior acquisition officials, he seems determined to clear a logjam of pending defence contracts, and to do so in a way that shows rare integrity in a country that has become internationally infamous for widespread corruption. The "clean" record of Antony, and of at least some of his top officials, is important because there are bound to be allegations of corruption, especially since there was a scandal in the early 1980s over the Mirage deal.

Curiously the US ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, chose today to announce his resignation – "for personal, professional and family considerations". That is being widely interpreted as a reaction to the loss of the MRCA contract, as well as the failure of the India-US nuclear deal to generate increased defence co-operation between the two countries, plus nuclear power plant contracts for US companies.

However, I am told that Roemer's resignation has been expected for some weeks because, as a senior Democratic politician, he is returning to the US to work on Obama's re-election campaign. If that is so, it was surely silly to announce the departure today.

Billion $ sops
In any case the defence industry expects sops to be announced for the US very soon, notably a $5bn order for ten Boeing C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft with an additional order for a further six aircraft, both being placed through the negotiated government-to-government foreign military sales (FMS) route without competitive tenders. Lockheed is also expected to receive further negotiated orders for its C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, six of which are already contracted. Russia might be disappointed that its MiGs have been rejected, but it already has substantial orders for current and future jet fighters.

Despite the personal and political angle for his departure, Roemer cannot have helped America's cause when he was reported recently by WikiLeaks saying the India's aerospace industry was "two to three decades behind the US and other western countries", adding that Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), the government's aircraft manufacturing company, was "untested and suspect" as a partner for advanced aircraft. All that is true but it must have upset HAL and the defence establishment.

However, to come back to my main point, the decisions do show an unexpected independence from US influence that had not been expected when the nuclear deal was struck. It has not been a good year so far for India with all the current corruption scandals, but this indicates that, in international diplomacy, it is keeping the US firmly in its place.

John Elliott blogs at Riding the Elephant (,http://ridingtheelephant.wordpress.com/) which appears on the right side of this page.

If Allah is the name of God in Islam, can Christians also call their God Allah?

By N H Chan

The nomenclature of God

If you look up the word “Allah” in any English dictionary you will find this definition: Allah noun the name of God among Muslims; or Allah n. the principle Muslim name for God. In fact all English dictionaries are definite about the meaning of the word Allah; it is the name of God in Islam. Surprisingly the dictionary does not say that it is an Arabic word. Actually it is not strange at all. As I have already explained before, this Arabic word has become an English word since the sixteenth century when it was spelt using the English alphabet to represent the speech sounds of the Arabic word. It is only an Arabic word if it is written in the original Arabic text as distinct from the phonetic spelling in English.

If Allah is the Islamic God then, since Christians are not Muslims, could or should Christians call their God Allah?

The answer will depend on whether, as a fact, Allah in Arabic was first coined by the founder of Islam or that this Arabic word Allah had predated Islam and had been in existence as a name for “The God” – “The” meaning “the only one of its kind”, as in “the only God” – long before Prophet Mohammed’s Call, the legendary revelation of Allah in 611 AD. As a matter of fact, even before there was Jesus Christ, “Allah” meaning “the only God” was already a word in Arabic a Semitic language spoken by the ancient Arabs who belonged to the ethnic group of peoples known as the Semites.

Historically, therefore, the Arabic word Allah was not coined by Islam’s founder at all. According to the Bible, God made Abraham, his two sons Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants His people. Since then monotheism – a religious belief that there is only one God – was founded. The descendants of Abraham from the line of Ishmael (the Arabs) and Isaac (the Jews) worshipped the only God named Allah in Arabic and Eloah in Hebrew. In Arabic, Allah was derived from Al – Ilah meaning Al (The) + Ilah (God). In Hebrew God was Eloah with a capital E.

Muslims worship the same God that Abraham, his two sons and their descendants had first worshipped more than 2000 years before Islam was founded and more than 1500 years before Jesus Christ was born.

Before Abraham there was god and there were gods without a capital G. For example: “elohim” means “gods” in Hebrew and “ilah” means “god” in Arabic. Since Abraham, after God made him and his two sons and their descendants His people, God is called Allah in Arabic and Eloah in Hebrew and they mean “The only God”.

So that the Arabs and the Jews, and after the founding of Christianity and Islam, Christians and Muslims throughout the world worship the same God that Abraham, his two sons and their descendants first worshipped in biblical times thousands of years before there were Christians and Muslims.

Allah was the Arabic name for the only God long before Islam was founded. Abraham worshipped the only God whose name even then was Allah in Arabic and Eloah in Hebrew. Before Abraham there were also those who worshipped the only God. In biblical times English was not then spoken yet, so the Deity was not called God in English. But Arabic was already a spoken language in ancient times and Allah in Arabic was worshipped by those who believed in the only God even then.

But even in ancient times there were those who worshipped other god or gods and the true God was displeased with them (see the Quran) and they were punished. The Quran acknowledged and confirmed the biblical story of Noah (Nur), Surah 71, Abraham (Ibrahim), Surah 14 where Moses was also referred to. The Quran has also confirmed that even in the days of Noah, Abraham and Moses, Allah meaning the only God had been worshipped thousands of years before Islam was founded. That being the case, it has been established beyond peradventure that there were believers who had been worshipping Allah the only God so many thousands of years before Islam was founded in 611 AD.

Therefore, it is dishonest for those narrow-minded politicians and clerics to claim that only Muslims can use the word Allah when before Islam was founded others had been worshipping Allah, meaning the only God, for thousands of years by the Arabs and the Jews. In biblical times Allah was not worshipped by Muslims because Islam had not been founded yet.

That being so, I have often wondered why some people in our government today are so obsessed with the view that only Muslims can use the word Allah. Why should human beings prevent others from worshipping God according to their faiths by decreeing that those who worship the God of Abraham, as Christians do, are not allowed to call their God Allah? God never said His name Allah is for Malay Muslims only! God is never a racist. Only the misinformed are the racists. However, Muslims elsewhere do not mind Christians calling their God by the name Allah because God can be addressed in any language. For example, why should anyone be upset if a Chinese Christian addressed the only God as their God or Allah without using any Chinese word? For that matter, should a sensible Arab Muslim or Christian be upset when an Indian Christian addressed his only God in English or in Arabic, by calling Him God or Allah instead of using Hindi or Tamil?

The etymology of the Arabic and Hebrew languages for God

The Semites or Shemites are an ethnic group of peoples who speak a Semitic language, including the Jews and Arabs as well as the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians and Phoenicians. Of these peoples who came from the same national or cultural background only the Arabs and the Jews still exist today.

Of the Semitic or Shemitic languages that include Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Amharic, and such ancient languages as Arkadian and Phoenician, only Arabic and Hebrew are still spoken.

In the Semitic languages, God is ‘Allah’ in Arabic, ‘Eloah’ in Hebrew and ‘Elah’ in Aramaic – these words, signifying God, are being pronounced according to their phonetic spelling in English as most, if not all, of us do not speak or write any of the aforesaid Semitic languages. Why do the mentioned languages sound so much alike? They sound similar because the Arabs and the Jews belong to the same ethnic group of peoples called Semites who shared and speak the same genus of Semitic languages. By the same token the Chinese people even though they speak different dialects like Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka, etc their language is written in Chinese characters which an educated Chinese can read irrespective of his spoken dialect. Similarly a scholar of any of the ancient Semitic language could decipher and read another language of the same Semitic genus.

To find out when Allah became the name of God to his people, we have to go back in time to ancient biblical history. We start with Shem who was the eldest of Noah’s three sons: see Genesis 10:21 in the Old Testament. The descendants of Shem were the Shemites or Semites, hence the name of this ethnic group of peoples. The ancient Babylonians, Assyrians and Phoenicians, including the Jews and Arabs were regarded as descendants of Shem: see The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology.

The phases of God: from making Abraham and his descendants His people to being worshipped throughout the world from the teachings of Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed

According to the Old Testament of the Bible, Abraham was the first of the patriarchs and the founder of the Hebrew people (Genesis 11 – 25). Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar who was Sarah’s maidservant, was the ancestor of 12 Arabian tribes (Genesis 21: 8 – 21; 25: 12 – 18). Isaac was the younger son of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17: 21 – 27).

In How to Judge the Judges I wrote, pages xxix, xxx:

Abraham was the founder of the Hebrew people. According to the Old Testament, Abram (later Abraham) at God’s call abandoned civilization, his father’s household and his people to wander in the desert as a nomad. His wife Sarai (later Sarah) had borne him no children. So Sarai took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. Hagar soon conceived with Abram’s child. But Sarai mistreated Hagar and heavy with child she ran away. According to the Old Testament, the angel of God found Hagar and told her to return to Abram and added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” God also told Hagar that she shall name her son Ishmael for God has heard of her misery at the hands of Sarai. Ishmael means God hears. So Hagar bore Abram a son and he gave him the name of Ishmael. According to the Old Testament, Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. When Abram was 99 years old, God said to Abram that no longer will he be called Abram (it means exalted father); your name will be Abraham (it means father of many) for you will be the father of many nations – he will be fruitful and kings will come from him. In return, Abraham and his descendants will worship the God of Abraham who will be the God of his descendants for generations to come and the Covenant (agreement) they are to keep were; Every male among him shall be circumcised. For the generations to come every male who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in the household or bought with money from a foreigner – those who are not their offspring. Those who are not circumcised will be cut off from his people. As for Sarai, her name will be Sarah and she will be blessed and she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her. A son will be born of her. His name will be called Isaac. Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

As for Ismael, God said he had heard Abraham: “I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.”

And so on that very day, so the story goes in the Old Testament, Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household, and circumcised them. Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised, and his son Ishmael was 13. And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born to him by Sarah, and he was circumcised.

And at page xxxi:

So now we know that the Arabs and the Jews were descended from Ishmael and Isaac whose father was Abraham (Ibrahim); and the God of them is the same God. And God has marked them as His people by circumcision.

Those events took place some two millennia before Jesus Christ was born, and before Prophet Mohammed founded Islam some 600 years after the birth of Jesus Christ.

After Abraham, with the advent of Christianity and Islam the worship of the only God extended to worshipping Him throughout the world. Monotheism, the religion of worshipping only One God, has become a world religion.

I ask, because I am unable to understand, why our government is trying so hard to separate the inseparable, that is, the people who believe in worshipping the same God to demean another of the same faith by decreeing that Christians are not allowed to call their God Allah and desecrating their Bible just because Christians call Allah their God. But the Quran had accepted Jesus Christ as being sent by God (Allah) to deliver the teachings of Allah (God).

National Wage Consultation Council Bill To Be Tabled In Next Parliament Session

IPOH, May 1 (Bernama) -- Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said the National Wage Consultation Council bill will be tabled in the next Parliament session.

Subramaniam said once passed, the implementation (of the minimum wage) and all future decisions on it will be done through the council based on the power which will be provided by the new Act.

"The council will be the main platform for wage determination in the country. Through the council we will announce certain measures needed for the minimum wage requirement in the private sector," he told reporters at the Cuepacs National Labour Day celebrations at the Indera Mulia stadium here Sunday.

Subramaniam said the Ministry's study in 2009 which covered 1.3 million workers in the country showed that 33.8 per cent of them received a salary of less than RM700 per month, which was below the poverty line of RM720 per month.

He said the salary of workers in the manufacturing sector, especially electrical and electronic sectors was RM500-RM550, textiles RM500-RM600, furniture RM550-RM700, plastics RM550-RM650 and rubber gloves RM500-RM650.

As such, said Subramaniam, the standardization and determination of a new pay structure must be carried out to ensure that the people in the country did not lag behind as the country progressed.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with Labour Day today, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) reiterated its demand to the government to implement six request quickly.

MTUC vice president A. Balasubramaniam said the six claims were for the government to implement the RM900 a month as minimum wage, reduce compulsory working hours from 48 to 40 a week, increase retirement age to 60, set retirement age benefit at a month's salary for every year served, abolish the contract workers and ensure a safe working environment plus the setting up of child care centres at work place.

"In conjunction with Labour Day we urge the government to not drag its feet in implementing the minimum wage scheme. Based on government statistics, 34 percent workers are paid wages that are below the poverty line," he said.

Sarawak Pakatan's shadow cabinet

In a step closer towards a two-coalition system in Sarawak, Pakatan has formed a 16-member shadow cabinet for the state.
In 2009, the Pakatan announced a shadow cabinet of sorts at the national level. See Teresa Kok’s blog. I am not sure if it is still functioning or whether folks like Zahrain and Zulkifli Nordin have been replaced!
But this move in Sarawak is a positive development for the opposition alliance:
State Opposition Leader – Wong Ho Leng (DAP)
Natural Resources, Good Governance – Wong Ho Leng (DAP)
Land Development, NCR Affairs – Baru Bian (PKR)
Finance – Chong Chien Jen – (DAP)
Local Government – Ling Sie Kiong (DAP)
Tourism, Heritage, Environment – See Chee How (PKR)
Rural Development – Chew Chiu Sing (DAP)
Industrial Development – Yap Hoi Liong (DAP)
Public Health – Dr Wong Hua Seh (DAP)
Social Development, Women’s Affairs – Violet Yong Wui (DAP)
Public Utilities – Wong King Wei (DAP)
Infrastructure Development, Communication – Chew Wang See (DAP)
Agriculture – Ting Tze Fui (DAP)
Housing, Urban Development – Fong Pau Teck (DAP)
Consumer Affairs – David Wong Kee Woan (DAP)
Religious Affairs, National Unity – Ali Biju (PKR)/Adam Ahid (PAS)