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Monday, May 9, 2011

Christian Malaysia will threaten Islam’s position, says Utusan

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Utusan Malaysia has continued accusing the country’s racial minorities for wanting to establish a Christian state and a Christian prime minister despite repeated denials by Christian groups nationwide.

The Umno-owned daily’s claims and reports on Christians plotting a takeover of the country are based on unsubstantiated claims made by two-pro Umno bloggers.

“Now there are attempts by some quarters to anger the majority of this country... the suggestion for Christianity to be made an official religion of the country as well as a Christian prime minister from that religious group cannot be accepted,” Utusan said in an editorial today.

The editorial insisted that Islam is the official religion of the country under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, and that other races had no choice but to accept this as a fact.

“We know the consequences when the minority of this country play up things which the majority are uncomfortable with.

“For over 50 years since our country achieved its independence, what is in our minds is that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia... this cannot be changed without amendments on the parliamentary level and sanctioned by the Conference of Rulers. We believe this is unlikely to happen,” the editorial said.

But Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution does not position Islam as the “official” religion of the country.

It only states that “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

Likewise, the Federal Constitution does not expressly specify race or religious requirements for the position of prime minister.

Article 43(2)(a) of the constitution states only that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint as PM a member of Parliament who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat.

Elaborating further, the Umno daily said today that non-Muslims in the country should be grateful for being allowed to practise their own beliefs freely, and that they were even “allowed” to practise their faiths in schools as well as build even more places of worship.

“Non-Muslim societies in schools are not banned from conducting their own activities... we can even see now more temples, churches and houses of worship being built across the country.

“What is hoped is that everybody respects Islam’s position as the official religion of the country... why must Islam’s position in the country always be questioned by some parties?” the daily said.

Utusan called for government interference in the matter, saying the government should monitor blogs and online reports which “criticised” and “insulted” Islam.

“We are concerned that these writings have certain motives which will eventually make people hate and insult Islam.

“The issue of religion and race must be treated carefully, considering the conservative attitudes of a multi-racial Malaysian society,” the daily said.

Utusan carried a front-page article on Saturday claiming that the DAP was conspiring with Christian leaders to take over Putrajaya and abolish Islam as the country’s official religion.

The report, based on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers, had charged the DAP with sedition for allegedly trying to change the country’s laws to allow a Christian prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described as a secret pact between the opposition party and pastors at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday.

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), together with partners Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship, said the claims against their community were lies, and has refuted the bloggers’ allegations.

Similarly, DAP leaders have denied the report and have accused Utusan of lying and have lodged police reports over the matter.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has called for calm and to allow the matter to be investigated first before making conclusions.

Meanwhile, law expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari said that having a Malay prime minister was not necessary in order for Islam and Malay rights to be protected.

He said that even a non-Muslim prime minister could safeguard Malay-Muslims as long as the individual abided by the Federal Constitution.

Aziz blamed former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for amending the constitution and inadvertently creating the impression that a Malay PM was needed to safeguard Malay-Muslim interests.

“The need for a Malay PM came about as the constitution has been tampered with by (Dr) Mahathir. Otherwise the system was good, Islam and Malays have been given enough protection by the constitution through the frame work it created,” Aziz told The Malaysian Insider.


‘My generation is becoming the homeless generation’

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Twenty-something media consultant Angela Ooi has all the right boxes ticked when it comes to the type of resident a world-class aspiring city like KL would like to attract.

She’s a university graduate and worked in respectable media company before striking out to start her own successful small business.

Yet, she finds herself unable to afford a reasonably liveable home that doesn’t require either taking out a back-breaking bank loan or moving out to a distant and bland housing estate that involves mind-numbing daily commutes.

“My generation is slowly becoming the homeless generation or the urban sprawl generation,” said Ooi, who has had to resort to renting and feeling very sore about the supply of reasonably priced but decent housing stock.

Her concerns are shared by many young adults who are the future economic drivers of the city.

Tuition business entrepreneur Amin, 29, said property prices are now “very expensive.”

“I am looking to buy but property prices are now beyond reach,” he said.

While some developers suggested that young adults move away from the city where property is more affordable, Amin said the resulting lengthy commutes would be a waste of time and impact productivity.

“Living far away is really inefficient,” he said. “Our public transport is not the best and you’ll have to deal with disruptions such as bad weather or the bus breaking down.”

Another accountant, Patrick, who has several years of working experience with multinationals recently bought a new 600-plus sq ft one-bedroom condominium in Kota Damansara, which is located about 15km from the city centre, for approximately RM350,000 or about RM550 per sq ft (psf).

As a local however, he said the risk of buying for him is reduced as he currently saves money by staying at home with his parents, adding that if things don’t work out with the condominium, he can still fall back on his parents while other young adults may not be so lucky.

And even though he has been able to buy a condo, Patrick still feels property has become overpriced.

“Salaries have not gone up much and cannot play catch up with property prices,” he said, noting that he’ll have to commit a significant chunk of his monthly income to servicing the housing loan.

Another twenty-something accountant with a multinational, who wanted to be known only as Rais, grew up in the expensive Damansara Heights neighbourhood but even then has balked at house prices.

“Either I buy a studio apartment which is now also not cheap and is like living out of a hotel room or spend my young adult life in a car driving long commutes,” he said. “That’s not the lifestyle I want.”

Rais said he and his friends are now taking a wait-and-see attitude towards buying a home due to the “ridiculous prices.”

At a recent Real Estate Developers Association (Rehda) media briefing, some developers suggested that young adults look beyond new houses to the secondary market of older homes which they can then fix up.

Ooi pointed out however that older homes in mature neighbourhoods are still costly before even adding on the cost of renovation.

“So, even if I manage to put a 10 per cent downpayment on a RM700,000 place, which is RM70,000, how about money for replacing old pipes and wiring and furniture?”

Ooi suggested that to help overcome the problem, the government could emulate some local governments in the US which offer financial incentives such as grants to those who move into older, dilapidated areas of the city as it will help with area gentrification.

“It’ll be nice if you live upstairs in a nice cleaned-up space just above a cafĂ©, that serves good coffee and kaya toast, and down the street there’s a mom and pop grocery store, that conforms to cleanliness laws, so they don’t leave rotting veges in the street that will attract rats, and maybe set up a walking neighbourhood which is viable for outdoor activities on the street,” she said.

Rehda president Datuk Michael Yam said however that gentrification in Malaysia could be more efficiently done by developers.

National House Buyers Association secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said recently that the rapid inflation of assets has put house ownership beyond the reach of young adults.

Yam told The Malaysian Insider however that property prices were a complex issue and were now largely driven by escalating land costs and rising material costs on top of the social obligations that developers have to carry out, which are then built into the prices.

He also noted that some Western countries overcome affordability issues by reserving certain housing units for essential service providers such as nurses and firefighters.

For Ooi however, all she wants is a place in the city to call home, a dream currently now frustrated.

Di mana penulis kaum India?

Kehadiran penulis kaum India dalam sastera Bahasa Malaysia masih belum cukup menyerlah, kata penulis.

Dalam koleksi rencana yang diterbitkan dengan judul A Plea for Empathy: The Quest for Malaysian Unity (2010), Dr Chandra Muzaffar beberapa kali mengulangi cadangan dan pendirian bahawa penulis pelbagai kaum di Malaysia perlu diberi ruang dan peluang untuk menggambarkan citra budaya kaum masing-masing dalam karya Bahasa Malaysia.

Tentu sahaja saya amat bersetuju dengan saranan itu kerana Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) yang saya wakili sejak 1999 turut berusaha ke arah itu dengan moto “Bahasa Malaysia, Bangsa Malaysia”.

Pada masa sama, tentu sahaja saya, Kavyan, Dr Chandra Muzaffar dan sesiapa sahaja tidak mempersoalkan atau pun menafikan hak mana-mana individu berkarya dalam apa-apa bahasa; khususnya Bahasa Inggeris, Tamil dan Mandarin.

Suatu hal yang menarik untuk diperhatikan adalah bahawa sejak tercetusnya kontroversi berhubung novel Interlok (edisi murid) pada Disember 2010, ramai juga dalam kalangan kaum India yang “marah-marah”.

Saya saksikan sendiri bagaimana ramai pemimpin masyarakat dan anggota masyarakat mula memperkatakan mengenai kandungan karya sastera dan novel Bahasa Malaysia yang berusaha menggambarkan citra budaya kaum India di negara ini.

Antara karya yang disebut-sebut adalah novel Sinappapal (1993) dan Sangeetha (2006) karya Azizi Haji Abdullah yang menampilkan watak kaum India tetapi tidak ada jaminan bahawa watak-watak dalam karya itu boleh membantu pembaca mengenali citra budaya sebenar kaum India di Malaysia.

Komen, rungutan dan kritikan mengenai “kegagalan” karya sastera Bahasa Malaysia dalam menggambarkan citra budaya kaum India memang selalu saya dengar dan alami sendiri.

Namun begitu, soalan saya adalah: Berapa ramai dalam kalangan kaum India yang sedia, sanggup dan mampu menghasilkan karya (fiksyen) Bahasa Malaysia yang boleh menggambarkan citra budaya dan pemikiran masyarakat India di Malaysia?

Apabila saya mengemukakan pertanyaan ini pada ruangan status di Facebook, seorang rakan memberi komen: “Kita semua sedar yang ada segelintir anak muda kita yang mampu menghasilkan karya sastera Bahasa Malaysia yang bermutu dan menggambarkan budaya kita, tetapi berapa banyak karya yang mendapat perhatian dan diberi sokongan adil seperti karya-karya hasil Bukan Kaum India?”

Komen yang diberikan oleh Jothy Jojo secara tidak langsung memberi semacam nafas baru kepada saya bahawa masih ada harapan untuk melihat kelahiran penulis kaum India yang mampu menghasilkan karya bermutu dalam Bahasa Malaysia.

[Tentu sahaja saya tidak mahu ambil pusing terhadap “usaha” pihak tertentu menghalang penglibatan masyarakat pelbagai kaum dalam sastera Bahasa Malaysia menerusi “kempen” menafikan kewujudan istilah “Bahasa Malaysia” serta “kempen” menafikan hak rakyat pelbagai kaum di negara ini terhadap Bahasa Malaysia.]

Kurang memberangsangkan

Seorang lagi rakan, Mak Hua Chyang berkongsi pandangan bahawa setiap kaum di Malaysia masih terikat dengan adat resam masing-masing dan “agak sukar untuk menghasilkan karya Bahasa Malaysia yang benar dan tulen kerana semua karya akan ditapis berulang kali bagi menjaga kepentingan sesuatu pihak”.

Berhubung kedua-dua pandangan di atas, saya sebenarnya sering berbincang bersama-sama rakan-rakan yang bertugas sebagai editor di beberapa majalah arus perdana yang menyediakan ruang penyiaran karya; khasnya sajak dan cerpen.

Maklum balas yang saya terima – dan saya pasti adalah benar – adalah bahawa jumlah penulis kaum India yang mengirim karya ke majalah-majalah berkenaan adalah amat sedikit. Ini belum lagi mengambil kira mutu karya itu serta penguasaan bahasa dalam penulisan. Juga belum mengambil kira kemampuan penulis itu menggambarkan budaya kaum India menggunakan Bahasa Malaysia.

Untuk berlaku adil, hakikat yang memeritkan tetapi tidak dapat dinafikan adalah bahawa belum ada ramai penulis kaum India yang aktif menghasilkan karya Bahasa Malaysia sejak tahun 1970.

Malah, kebanyakan nama yang muncul pada 1970, 1980, 1990 dan 2000-an tidak terus bertahan. Ramai yang tenggelam atau tenggelam-timbul.

Kita boleh merujuk senarai nama penulis yang disebut oleh Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman dalam rencana pendeknya di akhbar Berita Harian (6 Februari 1999) dan membandingkan dengan nama-nama penulis yang masih aktif dewasa ini untuk membuktikan hal ini.

Satu-satunya buku yang memuatkan sepenuhnya cerpen Bahasa Malaysia oleh penulis kaum India di Malaysia adalah Vanakam (2002) manakala beberapa usaha menerbitkan buku kedua seumpamanya kurang berjaya.

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) berusaha menganjurkan sebuah bengkel cerpen khas untuk penulis muda kaum India pada Mac 2011; tetapi terpaksa dibuka kepada penulis kaum lain kerana jumlah peserta kaum India kurang memberangsangkan.

Kavyan juga sering menganjurkan bengkel penulisan cerpen dan sekiranya mahu diteliti, jumlah peserta kaum India memang amat kurang. Maka, saya tidak akan bersetuju atau menyokong mana-mana pihak yang mengatakan bahawa penulis muda kaum India tidak diberi ruang dan peluang.

Pengarang kaum India yang sering menjadi sebutan dan rujukan ialah Saroja Theavy Balakrishnan. Namun, sejak beberapa tahun lalu, beliau sudah amat jarang menghasilkan cerpen. Beliau sering menceritakan kepada saya tentang puncanya dan saya memahami alasan yang diberikan.

Seorang lagi pengarang kaum India yang berpotensi ialah M Mahendran. Malangnya, belakangan ini beliau nampaknya sudah kembali menumpukan pada penghasilan karya Bahasa Tamil.

Malah, apabila saya menghubunginya semalam (8 Mei), beliau mengatakan bahawa beliau tidak berkarya di mana-mana pada masa kini kerana kurang mendapat inspirasi. Saya perlu bertemu beliau dalam masa terdekat untuk memberi sedikit motivasi!

Satu-satunya pengarang kaum India yang sering menerima undangan membaca puisi di serata tempat ialah Raja Rajeswari, pengarang yang lahir dan semakin menonjol sejak sepuluh tahun lalu. Namun, apabila bercakap secara khusus soal menggambarkan citra budaya kaum India, puisi-puisi Raja Rajeswari kurang menyumbang ke arah itu.

Memang terdapat ramai penulis di negara ini yang menghasilkan cerpen, sajak dan novel bermutu dalam Bahasa Tamil. Namun, saya lebih berminat terhadap karya Bahasa Malaysia kerana secara langsung, karya itu boleh dibaca, difahami, dinikmati dan dihayati semua rakyat Malaysia.

Maka, soalan yang masih wujud sejak 1970: Berapa ramai dalam kalangan kaum India yang sedia, sanggup dan mampu menghasilkan karya (fiksyen) Bahasa Malaysia yang boleh menggambarkan citra budaya dan pemikiran masyarakat India di Malaysia?

Uthaya Sankar SB akan menyertai “Writers Unlimited Tour” di Kuala Lumpur pada 10-12 Jun 2011. Maklumat lanjut di

Out of the box

Can you see that these people are ready to abandon Umno and BN but they are looking at Anwar as the alternative to Umno and BN. Why can’t they see beyond Anwar? Why can’t they see that the alternative to Umno and BN is Pakatan Rakyat and not Anwar?
Raja Petra Kamarudin
My ‘habit’ when writing my articles is to puff on my cigar while listening to my favourite music channel,
Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, you may not be able to tune in to this channel (as it is blocked) but for those who can please switch on your speakers and listen to the greatest of the great music, my kind of music, while you read this article.
And for those who can’t tune in to this channel, migrate to England where you can.
There are some who still do not get what I was trying to say in yesterday’s article: Bridge over troubled water. I suppose this is what we would call ‘mental block’, a syndrome of our brain being programmed to think only one way and where we are not capable of thinking any other way.
 Malays call this ‘katak bawah tempurung’ -- translated as ‘frog under a coconut shell’. The English would say ‘boiling a frog slowly’.
Today, I am going to talk about thinking and doing things ‘out of the box’. You could also say this is like getting the frog to break out from the confines of the coconut shell -- or getting the frog to jump out of the water before it reaches boiling point.
Basically, what this means is we need to break out of the mould and not allow ourselves to think and do things the way the government or Barisan Nasional wants us to think and do things. We need, as what Freddy Mercury said, to break free.
Let me give you an example of one issue, the issue of the church thing in Penang.
DAP has been accused of hosting a gathering of Christians where they allegedly swore an oath to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia so that a non-Muslim can become the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Now, have you noticed how deafening the silence was? PKR and PAS maintained an eerie silence other than accuse Utusan Malaysia of propagating Umno’s agenda and asking the government to take action against this Umno controlled newspaper.
Is that the best PAS and PKR can do in coming to DAP’s defence? It is almost like they are washing their hands of the matter and are leaving DAP to handle this matter all by itself.
Why did Pakatan Rakyat not remind the rakyat that Malaysia is a secular state and that Islam is only the official religion of Malaysia and that Malaysia is not an Islamic State?
No one, not even if they control more than two-thirds majority in Parliament, can remove Islam as the official religion. Only the Rulers can do this and we have ten Rulers (one Agong, one Yam Tuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, one Raja of Perlis and seven Sultans).
So, even if DAP controls more than 148 out of 222 seats in Parliament, they can’t remove Islam as the official religion of Malaysia and install Christianity as the new official religion.
Anyway, how can DAP control more than 148 seats in Parliament when it contests less than 80 seats? Even if DAP contests 100 seats and wins all the 100 it contests (which is not possible plus PKR will not allow it to contest more than one-third the seats) it is still short of 148 seats.
Why did Pakatan Rakyat not argue this and use this argument to defend DAP?
So there you have it. There is no way DAP can make a deal with the church to remove Islam as the official religion and make Christianity the new official religion of Malaysia. Even if PAS and PKR agree to this (which they will not) it still can’t be done because the power lies with the ten Rulers with whom Islam comes under.
And you can’t amend the Constitution to change this. This is the absolute power (kuasa mutlak) of the Rulers. And if you try to illegally amend the Constitution to remove the powers of the Rulers as far as Islam is concerned, then the Agong, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, can declare an emergency, suspend Parliament, and get the army to ‘restore order’.
Why did Pakatan Rakyat not argue this and use this argument to defend DAP?
Secondly, why would DAP need to remove Islam as the official religion and make Christianity the new official religion to be able to install a non-Muslim prime minister? Don’t you remember what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said? He said that there is nothing in the Federal Constitution that says the prime minister must be a Malay-Muslim.
In short, there is nothing illegal if a non-Malay-non-Muslim becomes prime minister of Malaysia. The Constitution only says that the Agong shall appoint a prime minister who has the majority confidence of the house, that’s all. So why the need to remove Islam as the official religion? We can have a non-Malay-non-Muslim prime minister even if Islam is the official religion of Malaysia.
Why did Pakatan Rakyat not argue this and use this argument to defend DAP?
Okay, next example, the issue of Anwar Ibrahim’s porn video.
PAS is being very careful about taking a stand on this matter and they are leaving it to the court to decide. Why must the court decide this? PAS must state its stand, period.
Pakatan Rakyat is playing right into Umno’s hands. They are being very cleverly divided on this issue. They are worried that if they express support for Anwar and it turns out that it is really Anwar in that video then they are all going to end up with egg on their face.
Why do we need the court to decide this matter? Is sex with another woman who is not your wife a crime? If it is then Chua Soi Lek should be in jail instead of being made the President of MCA. And Chua Soi Lek admitted that it is he in that video, mind you.
You might say it is a crime as far as Islam is concerned. Okay, then take this issue to the Shariah court. Can the Shariah court take action against Anwar? The answer is of course ‘no’, not unless Anwar admits to the ‘crime’ or there are four witnesses to the crime.
The bottom line is the Shariah court can’t do a damn thing, and neither can the common law court. So what is the issue here? If based just on allegations then many more people, especially those in Umno, would be behind bars.
The issue is not whether it is or is not Anwar in that video but whether Anwar is able to run this country and do a better job than the government we currently have. Anwar’s sex life is not going to determine the future of Malaysia and the future of our children and grandchildren. That is what we should focus on.
Let me go to a third example. Many people say that ‘if not Anwar then who?’ In other words, they see only Anwar as the suitable candidate to lead the opposition.
I normally oppose this statement and of course they view this as my ‘anti-Anwar’ stance. Actually, this has nothing to do with my anti-Anwar stance as much as my ‘anti-not out of the box’ stance. We need to think out of the box. We need to break free.
If we close our minds and think that only Anwar and no one else can lead the opposition, what would we do if something happens to Anwar? We would panic. The opposition would disintegrate. Everything that we worked for would come to an end.
So we need to psyche ourselves in that there IS life after Anwar. If something happens to Anwar life would go on. The opposition would not collapse. The cause can go on with or without Anwar.
In the old days, wars centred on the leaders. So when you take out the leaders all resistance would end. If the leaders were killed the army would surrender. No one had the spirit to fight on.
Why do you think Umno is so bent on destroying Anwar? They know that many in the opposition look to Anwar and only Anwar as the opposition leader. So if Umno can destroy Anwar then the opposition can be destroyed.
That is why I am opposed to this ‘if not Anwar then who’ doctrine. We need to show Umno that there are many Anwar Ibrahims in the opposition. They can destroy Anwar and ten Anwars will emerge in his place. Destroy these ten Anwars as well and another 100 Anwar’s will rise up.
Those who scream ‘if not Anwar then who?’ are actually signing Anwar’s death warrant. You are the reason why Umno wants to destroy Anwar. Remove Anwar as the crucial factor and Umno will find there is no longer any value in destroying Anwar.
We used to say ‘if not Ustaz Fadzil Noor then who?’ Then Ustaz Fadzil died and we panicked. But then we found that there is life for PAS after all even with the death of Fadzil Noor. And today we say even if Ustaz Hadi Awang goes PAS will not die. There are many more in PAS who can replace Hadi and maybe even do a better job.
The same goes for DAP. You mean without Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh DAP is dead? There are many in DAP who are ready to take over and may even bring DAP to new heights. Lim Guan Eng is one name that comes to mind.
That is what I call thinking out of the box, breaking free, looking at things from a different perspective.
You might think you are doing Anwar a favour by making him indispensible. Actually you are giving him a death sentence. Anwar becomes more valuable dead than alive. It’s as simple as that.
Another reason I oppose this ‘if not Anwar then who?’ doctrine is because this same doctrine is used in the ‘if not BN then who?’ argument.
Many people feel that only BN can run Malaysia. They feel that without BN the country would be in trouble. And I find that the people who argue ‘if not Anwar then who?’ are the same people who would say ‘if not BN then who?’
So it is all about Anwar versus BN. It is either Anwar or BN. And that is dangerous because if something were to happen to Anwar, or these people lose confidence in Anwar, then they would all go back to BN.
I have many friends who say that they are fed up with Umno and BN but they have no confidence that Anwar can do better. Why compare BN to Anwar? Why not compare BN to PR?
Can you see that these people are ready to abandon Umno and BN but they are looking at Anwar as the alternative to Umno and BN. Why can’t they see beyond Anwar? Why can’t they see that the alternative to Umno and BN is Pakatan Rakyat and not Anwar?
This is going to be the problem the opposition is going to face come next election. The voters are going to evaluate Anwar and will overlook what good Pakatan Rakyat can bring to Malaysia. It is okay if they see the good in Anwar. But if they don’t like what they see in Anwar then Pakatan Rakyat is in deep shit.
When friends ask me ‘if not Anwar then who?’, I reply Nurul Izzah. There is a moment of stunned silence before they reply: Nurul is too young, Nurul is not ready yet, Nurul needs more time, and so on.
“Okay, so who then?” I ask them. They reply that they do not see anyone other than Anwar.
“Okay, what happens if they put a bullet in Anwar’s head?” I ask them. They have no reply.
What is this? Are we all a group of young chicks who will die if the mother hen dies? Come on! There are 28 million Malaysians out there and four million are in the opposition. You mean there is no one who can lead the opposition if they assassinate Anwar? You mean we close down Pakatan Rakyat the day they place Anwar in his coffin and put him in the ground?
The more you say ‘if not Anwar then who?’ the more determined they will be in destroying Anwar. But if we say to hell with Anwar because there are 100 other Anwar’s who can take over then Umno will be at a loss. They can kill one Anwar but they can’t kill 100 Anwars.
Get it? Think out of the box for a change. Break free. Try to start looking at things from another perspective.


Farish Noor in Singapore shares with us his thoughts on a landmark general election. “Looking as the campaign as whole it can be said that the opposition parties have managed to build a wider support network than before. “Though this did not lead to a massive swing, it has forced the PAP to take notice of public opinion. The PAP now sees the potential of the internet and some of their politicians have finally gone on twitter. “Issues like house prices and jobs will have to be addressed in the near future.” Some Singaporeans maybe disappointed, but I think the results give them something to build on. The Singapore government has also been put on notice about the high income inequality in the republic. Singstat provides the Gini coefficient for employed households and at no point in the past 10 years is the Gini lower than 0.430, and that only if we take into account transfers to households. If only earned income is used as the basis, then the Gini, at lowest (in 2000) was 0.444, at highest (2007) at 0.489 and in 2010, 0.48. The overall trend over the last 10 years has been upwards. Malaysia too has similar problems. If one were to calculate the gini on the same basis as the one in singstat’s report, then Malaysia’s Gini would be around the same level of 0.48-0.49. Time for both government’s to sit up and take notice of serious income inequalities.

Farish Noor in Singapore shares with us his thoughts on a landmark general election.

“Looking as the campaign as whole it can be said that the opposition parties have managed to build a wider support network than before.

“Though this did not lead to a massive swing, it has forced the PAP to take notice of public opinion. The PAP now sees the potential of the internet and some of their politicians have finally gone on twitter.

“Issues like house prices and jobs will have to be addressed in the near future.”

Some Singaporeans maybe disappointed, but I think the results give them something to build on.

The Singapore government has also been put on notice about the high income inequality in the republic. Singstat provides the Gini coefficient for employed households and at no point in the past 10 years is the Gini lower than 0.430, and that only if we take into account transfers to households. If only earned income is used as the basis, then the Gini, at lowest (in 2000) was 0.444, at highest (2007) at 0.489 and in 2010, 0.48. The overall trend over the last 10 years has been upwards.

Malaysia too has similar problems. If one were to calculate the gini on the same basis as the one in singstat’s report, then Malaysia’s Gini would be around the same level of 0.48-0.49.

Time for both government’s to sit up and take notice of serious income inequalities.

Bishop warns of ‘new McCarthyism’

The Catholic Church leader slams politicians who engage in witch-hunts and scaremongering to divert attention from their woes.
PETALING JAYA: Catholic Church leader Bishop Paul Tan has lashed out at politicians who engage in witch-hunts and scaremongering as diversions from their sinking popularity.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia also warned of the rise of a “new McCarthyism” in Malaysia.

Tan was responding to the allegations that Christian groups were out to undermine the status of Islam as the official religion.

“The last time a calumny like this was visited on Malaysian Christians was in the early 1970s when a past president of PAS described us as a greater national security threat than the Communists,” he said.
“Fortunately, that was a lone instance and reflected one individual’s fevered imagination.

“But now we see various groups of politicians intent on resurrecting this bogey to divert attention from the problem of their slumping popularity,” he added.

Tan said instead of dealing with the obvious causes of their sinking popularity, like widespread corruption, racism and intolerable economic inequities, these politicians engage in witch-hunts against assorted scapegoats.

“It appears their flavor of the month is the Christians whom these scaremongers have rounded on and perhaps now regard as a soft target,” he added.

The Bishop warned that Christians would not be daunted by the “rise of this new McCarthyism in Malaysian society” where everyone else was blamed except those most culpable for the worrisome situation.

“In the face of demagogic threats to their loyalty to the country and the Federal Constitution, Christians must renew their determination to join people of goodwill to tackle the country’s manifold problems which have arrived at a level responsible citizens find deeply unsettling,” he asserted.

He urged Christians to make fidelity to the Federal Constitution a touchstone of their faith in the country and its future.

McCarthyism explained

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is a mid-20th century political attitude characterized chiefly by opposition to elements held to be subversive and by the use of tactics involving personal attacks on individuals by means of widely publicized indiscriminate allegations especially on the basis of unsubstantiated charges. Wikipedia says it was originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of US Senator Joseph McCarthy, ‘McCarthyism’ soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries

PM calls for cool heads over religious issues

Najib says an investigation will be done on the meeting involving the Church while Mahathir accuses extremists of taking advantage of a weak BN government.

JAKARTA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak has called on Malaysians to calm down and not to exploit religious issues now being played up in the Malaysian media.

“Calm down until we get the facts. It is not going to be of benefit to anyone. Whoever they are, whether they are the opposition or pro-government, they cannot and should not exploit this issue,” he told Malaysian journalists, here after the 18th Asean Summit, Sunday.

The Prime Minister was commenting on a news report over a gathering in Penang where its participants had allegedly vowed to change the country’s official religion to Christianity and the the prime minister will be a Christian. The organiser of the meeting has however denied this.

Najib said the government would investigate the matter and that it should not be blown out of proportions.

“If we don’t put a stop to it, it can lead to serious polarisation in our society,” he said.

Najib said religion was a sensitive matter and everyone in the country must preserve the peace and avoid tension among the people.

“Malaysia upholds the constitution, which means that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia while, at the same time, the people are also free to practice other faiths.

“This is an important principle which was the key in the formation of Malaysia which cannot be disputed.

“If there is anyone who tries to jeopardise national peace, we will not allow it to happen because what is important is national harmony,” he added.

Extremists taking advantage

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also expressed his views on the matter, claiming that certain extremists are making all kinds of demands – some even requiring change in the constitution – because they think the government is weak.

He said the Barisan Nasional loss of two-thirds majority in Parliament had emboldened these people to create various problems, unlike the situation when he was at the helm.

“During my time, there was none (of this kind of problems). I had the support of all. Christians, Hindus, Buddhists all gave their support. There were no demands,” he told reporters after opening the Cheras Umno division delegates meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

“These extremists are acting this way because they see that the government is weak and they are causing problems to worsen the situation,” he said.

He was asked to comment on the media report which alleged of the secret meeting in Penang between the DAP and Christian priests from throughout the country.

Mahathir said that he did not want to comment further because a statement made without clear proof could make matters worse.

Earlier today, both the Christian Church and the DAP denied that such a matter was raised in the meeting in Penang last week. The Church also lashed out at Utusan Malaysia for carrying the provocative and baseless news based on write-ups found in pro-Umno blogs.

- Bernama

Cemetery protest nearly turned unruly

A group in support of the HEB takeover of the old Batu Kawan cemetery was met with resistance from another set of people supporting a Hindu temple's ownership of the cemetery.

Supporters of Penang Hindu Endowment Board

BATU KAWAN: A peaceful demonstration this morning in show of support for the Penang Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) takeover of a Hindu cemetery near Batu Kawan stadium nearly turned ugly when rival groups began a shouting match against each other.

Things nearly turned out of control when a local temple group arrived at the scene to stop the pro-HEB group demonstration, which began at 10am.

Only swift intervention by police personnel from the Seberang Perai Selatan district managed to thwart any untoward incident between the two groups.

The irony was the rival groups involved two brothers, elder A Nallakumar and younger A Kumaravel, at the helm of opposing sides.

The almost one hour commotion was then peacefully dispersed by the police.

In support of DCM ll P Ramasamy

It all started when a pro-HEB group of some 100 people, who also supporters of Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, erected a canopy, demonstrated and displayed banners near the cemetery to show support to the HEB take over.

Ramasamy had revealed last Tuesday that the HEB, which he chairs, plans to take over ownership and management of the cemetery.

The Prai assemblyman and Batu Kawan MP claimed that the cemetery was abandoned and left to rot by its previous owner, a Hindu temple in Ladang Batu Kawan, Sri Maha Muthu Mariamman Kovil management committee.

The pro-Ramasamy group was led by Batu Kawan village safety and development committee chairman G Dumani and Kumaravel, a local resident.

Also in the group were DAP councillor in the mainland municipality (MPSP) Teoh Seang Hooi and Ramasamy’s political aide Sateesh Muniandy.

War of words

The other group

While some of the demonstrators took turns to speak on a loud hailer, the rival group led by the temple chairman Nallakumar and local IPF leader MV Mathialagan arrived at the scene at 10.30am with their own 100 supporters.

They instantly demanded the pro-Ramasamy group to dismantle their canopy and ‘disappear’ from the place.

This sparked a war of words and there were some pushing and shoving among rival supporters before police managed to split and disperse both groups.

Nallakumar later lodged a police report at the Batu Kawan police station at 5pm. When contacted Sateesh said the pro-Ramasamy group did not lodge any report.

Ramasamy has previously claimed that the temple had abandoned the cemetery after receiving a new two-acre burial land, some two kilometers away, as compensation from the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) to facilitate the stadium development years back.

He also said the HEB would only need to fork RM1 to acquire the land, unlike the temple committee which would need millions of ringgit to do so.

Nallakumar however, dismissed Ramasamy’s claims, insisting that the cemetery was always under the temple ownership and it was never abandoned.

He claimed that PDC had given back the cemetery to the temple after originally acquiring it following mass protest by the local residents.

“This happened during the previous Barisan Nasional administration in 1990s.

“We have been using the cemetery until before the last election when we began to use the newly allotted cemetery land,” he said.

Following Pakatan Rakyat takeover of the state government, he said the temple committee requested a RM300,000-state fund from Ramasamy to reconstruct the landscape and beautify the cemetery.

However, he said Ramasamy until today had not responded to it.

Documentary proof of ownership

'Cemetery belongs to the temple'

He said the temple committee was infuriated by Ramasamy’s autocratic style of trying to bulldoze his way to take over the cemetery without any discussions with the temple committee.

“Suddenly he wants to take over the cemetery when he could have provided us the fund to upgrade the cemetery,” said Nallakumar.

Last Sunday, Nallakumar and Mathialagan led some 100 people to protest against the HEB’s proposed takeover.

Nallakumar said the Ladang Batu Kawan cemetery started during the British colonial days in 1817 and contained some 1,800 deceased burial grounds.

‘We have all the documented proofs to show the temple committee is the owner of the cemetery.

“HEB has no rights over our land,” insisted Nallakumar.

Ramasamy’s cemetery plan was also criticised by the Human Rights Party (HRP) on Friday.

Citing Section 94 of the Local Government Act 1976, HRP pointed out that it was incumbent on the local council MPSP, and not the HEB, to gazette, manage and maintain the burial grounds

‘Boss’ Anwar vows to look after Indian community

Opposition Leader Anwar renews pledge to defend rights of the Indians.

KLANG: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim renewed his pledge to defend the rights of Indian community at the Malaysian Indian Voice (MI-Voice) gathering held at Dewan Hamzah here last night.

Speaking to a crowd of 2,000 predominantly Indians, he said: “We in Pakatan Rakyat will defend the rights of the Indians no matter what happens.”

He followed up by brushing aside Umno’s allegations that he was a foreign agent of America, the Jews and the others, by saying: “I am not an agent, I am Sivaji the Boss.”

Sivaji the Boss is a hugely successful Tamil movie acted by Tamil superstar Rajnikanth in which the protagonist fights for the rights of the people.

He also blamed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak of dwelling in gutter politics by allowing a sex tape to be released by the trio of Datuk T, in which they had claimed Anwar was the man having sex with a foreign woman. Anwar had denied this.

“Najib is a real ‘pandikutti’,” he said, drawing laughter and applause from the crowd. Pandikutti is a Tamil word for piglet.

Anwar dubbed the MI-Voice as the new spirit of Indians that would assist Pakatan’s path to Putrajaya.

Later, MI-Voice advisor V Ganabatirao and his brother V Raidu, who is the protem chairman of MI-Voice, pledged their support for Pakatan and submitted a 10-point memorandum to Anwar.

Senior Pakatan Rakyat leaders attended the function last night, including Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, Klang MP Charles Santiago, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran and Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo.

U.S. officials unveil videos of bin Laden

Exclusive: Bin Laden's young Yemeni bride was confident, conservative

Amal al-Sadah's passport, which a relative said was obtained for the purpose of marrying bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2000.

Ibb, Yemen (CNN) -- When 18-year-old Amal al-Sadah became the fifth wife of 43-year-old Osama bin Laden in 2000, she was "a quiet, polite, easygoing and confident teenager" who came from a big, conservative family in Yemen, a relative told CNN in an exclusive interview.

The relative, Ahmed, who knew al-Sadah growing up, said she came from a traditional family in Ibb, Yemen -- established and respectable but certainly with no militant views paralleling the al Qaeda leader's terrorism.

The family had no connection to al Qaeda prior to the arranged marriage, Ahmed told CNN during an interview in Ibb on Friday.

While some accounts say a matchmaker put the couple together, the relative wasn't sure of that report, adding he heard many stories about how the two were betrothed.

"She was a very good overall person," Ahmed told CNN. "The Sadah family is a big family in Ibb. The family of Amal was like most Yemeni families. They were conservative but also lived a modern life when compared to other families.

"The family is a respected family and is well known. The family had no extremist views, even though they came from a conservative background," Ahmed said, referring to al-Sadah's parents and siblings.

The Yemeni government is apparently pressuring the family not to speak publicly about their notorious in-law, bin Laden, Ahmed said.

"From what I know, the government would give the Sadah family an extremely difficult time and always warns them from talking to the media," Ahmed said. "The government tells them that the information or comments they give would be misunderstood or misinterpreted and could hurt the family more than the government."

An al Qaeda figure in Yemen named Sheikh Rashed Mohammed Saeed Ismail said he arranged the marriage and told the Yemen Post in 2008 that he was "the matchmaker" and that al-Sadah was one of his students, describing her as "religious and pious enough."

Ismail, whose brother spent time as a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, accompanied the young bride-to-be to Afghanistan in July 2000, where she and bin Laden were married after he gave her family a $5,000 dowry.

The marriage was apparently a political alliance to shore up bin Laden's support in the land of his ancestors.

"I was told after they got married that Osama did not want to cut his ties with his ancestral home, Yemen," Ahmed said.

Back in Yemen, al-Sadah was barely spoken of again, Ahmed told CNN.

"After her marriage, we heard a little about her, and her direct family knew the dangers of talking about such topics," Ahmed said. "Even if anyone asked them about her, they would avoid talking about the issue."

At first, Yemeni authorities didn't seem aware that they were giving al-Sadah a passport in 2000 for the purpose of marrying bin Laden in Afghanistan, Ahmed said.

"Only a small number of people knew about the story of the marriage in the start, so it wasn't difficult to travel," Ahmed said. "The Yemeni government gave the family a hard time after she left Yemen. The family is still being watched and have been interrogated dozens of times. Her father also went through a lot."

The marriage was immediately fruitful, and al-Sadah and bin Laden gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Safiyah, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the weeks after 9/11.

According to Pakistani officials this week, Safiyah was inside the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound where bin Laden was killed Monday by U.S. Navy SEALs, and she probably saw her father shot dead.

Ahmed asserted that al-Sadah and bin Laden also bore other children, but he couldn't provide details in his brief interview with CNN.

After 9/11, bin Laden told Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir that he had plans for his youngest daughter, Safiyah.

"I became a father of a girl after September 11," he said. "I named her after Safiyah who killed a Jewish spy at the time of the Prophet. (My daughter) will kill enemies of Islam like Safiyah."

In the aftermath of bin Laden's death, al-Sadah has told interrogators that for five years, she didn't venture outside the walled compound, according to a Pakistani military spokesman.

Al-Sadah, now 29, who was wounded in the raid, said she lived in the compound in Abbottabad with eight of bin Laden's children and five others from another family, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN this week.

All of them have been in Pakistani custody since the pre-dawn U.S. commando raid Monday that killed bin Laden, and they will eventually be returned to their country of origin, Abbas said.

With five wives, bin Laden had a total of 20 children, and one of his adult sons was also reported killed in the commando assault.

Al-Sadah is the youngest of the five wives.