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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Dr M supporting Perkasa’s holy war?

Penang Gerakan is fervently hoping that Malays aren't buying into Perkasa's propaganda about a non-existent threat from Christians.

GEORGE TOWN: A state Gerakan official has chided Perkasa as the Malaysian version of the American white supremacist movement, Klu Klux Klan.

Lawyer Baljit Singh, who heads the Penang Gerakan’s legal and human rights bureau, said like the Klu Klux Klan, Perkasa too advocated racism and fascism.

“Like the American group, Perkasa incites racial hatred by creating pretentious enemies.

“Perkasa also talks about Malay supremacy over other ethnic groups,” he told FMT here yesterday.

He was referring to Perkasa’s threat to wage a holy war against minority Christians if they undermined the official status of Islam in the country.

Calling on the home ministry to act swiftly to cripple Perkasa through legal means, Baljit said the government must not treat lightly the threat posed by Perkasa to national security and harmony.

He said that although he does not support draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Sedition Act, he wants the government to wield those legislations to curb Perkasa.

Baljit said that he wants Perkasa banned, adding that the government has a public duty to crush the movement’s ugly racism.

“If Putrajaya fails to do so, Perkasa is set to lead the nation to the kingdom of doom,” he said.

Non-existent threat

Baljit also called on Perkasa patron, ex-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to openly declare his stand on the organisation’s “holy war” stance against the Christians.

He said that Malaysians would love to know Mahathir’s stand on Perkasa’s constant play with the fire of racism and fascism.

“Is Mahathir too supporting the holy war?” he asked.

He hoped Malays would not buy into Perkasa propaganda about a non-existent threat from Christians or anyone else.

He pointed out that the Federal Constitution can only be amended with a two-thirds majority if anyone wanted to change the official religion of the country.

He said this was unthinkable in the country’s current racial and political landscape which was not overwhelmingly dominated by any particular ethnic or religious groups.

“Under the current political scenario, it’s virtually impossible.

“I hope the Malays understand this,” Baljit said.

Nazri opens floodgates to religious hatred

'Does it mean we can all now make seditious and insensitive remarks without any repercussions? This has gone out of line.'

Nazri: No action against Ibrahim Ali

Roberts: De facto law minister Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz misses the point. Yes, it is true that hundreds of irresponsible bloggers of all colour and creed have made sensitive comments to hurt and inflame other communities. But they are individuals.

Perkasa is a registered organisation and Malay daily Utusan Malaysia is a licensed newspaper. Can they act in the same wanton abandon as irresponsible bloggers and tweeters?

Rape is rampant in Malaysia - do we want to condone it by saying that it is the norm? Corruption is rampant - shall we then legalise it? Drug addiction is widespread, shall we let it be and say it is the norm? Crime is widespread these days - shall we do nothing about it?

There will always be irresponsible individuals, but when institutions like Perkasa and a national daily act recklessly, then our society will really go down the drain, for these institutions represent our collective conscience and morality.

Black Mamba: I am shocked that the de facto law minister can come out with such a lame explanation like that. Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali did not tweet nor blog his warning to the Christians. He aroused religious sentiments in a public rally in front of a 150-strong crowd.

If you are prepared to condone such actions, be prepared for the consequences.

Hamisu: Does it mean we can all now make seditious and insensitive remarks without any repercussions? This has gone out of line. Now it appears that if something's a norm, then there's nothing wrong with it.

This appears to be the prevailing twisted logic of our de facto law minister. Crimes are the norm. Drug abuse has become the norm. Abandoning babies has become the norm. Domestic violence has become a norm. Does it mean everything is alright? What kind of minister is this?

Changeagent: What a weak and lame reasoning by the de facto law minister. Just because something is a Malaysian norm doesn't mean that it has to be tolerated, not especially when it relates to matters as serious as religious extremism, creating racial tension and inciting social upheaval or violence.

That is why we have common laws to safeguard public order, security and civility. Anyone who breaches the law or commits an offence must be prosecuted, and it matters little whether the crime is considered a norm or not.

It seems that Nazri is extremely unqualified to hold onto his current portfolio ministership when he doesn't even understand the basic functions of law in society. He is seriously out of his depth here.

Cannon: That's how arrogant and defiant Umno is in standing up for its rabid mouthpiece. Other than practising tokenism, Umno refuses to share power with its BN 'partners', let alone turn over its power to another.

That's why it violently resists the possibility of Pakatan taking over Putrajaya and, through Perkasa, threatens to spill the blood of Christians, if they should vote for the opposition. This gangsterism of Umno/Perkasa is a 'norm' Malaysians have to accept.

Nazri has made a mockery of PM Najib Razak's moderation. The fact is, Umno will not accept a two-party system, which means that a vote for BN is a vote for Umno and for more of this nonsense - and worst.

If Umno should retain power, it will ensure that the two-party system will never take root. Umno will finish dismantling our system of checks and balances to safeguard its power. It's vital for Malaysians to unite and vote out Umno in GE13 before it demolishes our democracy.

Alan Goh: Nazri says that it is the norm for everybody to make seditious remarks and the news media can print anything, and therefore no action will be taken against them.

Thank you, Nazri, for the clarification. But please ensure that this new interpretation of the law applies to everyone and not just Umnoputras, Ibrahim Ali and Utusan.

Anonymous_40a7: Nazri, from this second onwards, you and the government will be held responsible for all the abuse, torture, suffering, victimisation, injuries and death to the Christian community by the radicals and fanatics of Islam due to your insensitive and warped thinking. Remember - each blood dropped is on your hands now.

Tan Kim Keong: Nazri, if the need is there to prosecute all people accused of making seditious statements, then it has be to done. You are a lawyer. A felony is a felony. I believe you know this very well.

In a civil society, people who commit felonies do not go unpunished. Otherwise the authority will be deemed as condoning incitement of religious and racial hatred, as in the case of Ibrahim Ali.

So what is stopping you from charging Ibrahim Ali with making seditious statements against adherents of another religion?

Chipmunk: So what Nazri is saying is that since it is a "norm" in Malaysia, the door is open for all to criticise every other religion, and I believe, that includes Islam and the Muslims? Can Nazri issue a directive that we can now criticise the Malays as well?

The other races have been tolerant and have refrained from saying anything about Islam, but since it is a norm, as what Nazri said, I want to see if any action will be taken if the Malays were criticized.

Easyone: Don't fall to Nazri's trap. The moment DAP says something disputable, they will be put under the ISA. These lackeys cannot be trusted.

Anak Kedah: This moron and his handlers are trying to provoke a violent response to Perkasa's verbal vomit so that they can use it as an excuse for Ops Lalang II.

They have been trying hard to decapitate Pakatan Rakyat's leadership - Anwar Ibrahim with the sham Sodomy II trial, and now preparing the ground to round up the rest of Pakatan leaders with Ops Lalang II.

The Tarik: If making such sensitive statements is okay, then why do we have ISA and the Printing Presses and Publication Act?

If you are sincere, then scrap both these acts. Let all the newspapers in the country openly discuss the so-called sensitive issues. Let the Star, New Straits Times, Tamil Nesan and Sin Chew Daily report the scams and scandals that are being discussed only in the alternative media.

Let there be press freedom. Give Pakatan licence to start newspapers. Let our country's press freedom index rise from the bottom.

Otherwise, Nazri, your comments are pure baloney. Otherwise you are practising selective persecution and are not fit to be the law minister. Otherwise you are a law minister only to protect the interests of Umno, Perkasa, and Utusan. And otherwise, your comments smack of stupid hypocrisy.

Solomon Moses: Very well, Nazri, you have opened the floodgates. I am calling on all level-headed Malaysians to declare 'jihad' against Umno and Perkasa, and all level-headed Malaysians, I am sure, will join this 'jihad'.

Dood: Well, if they're not going to take action against Ibrahim Ali for his very obviously dangerous threats, then why would there be any question of any action against what the pastors supposedly said?

Is it more dangerous to declare 'jihad' against another community or to declare a desire for a Christian PM (if that even happened)?

Case for English-medium schools

By Lan Boon Leong | The Sun

THE United Nations in its various declarations and conventions has continually affirmed the universal rights of minorities, including indigenous people, to an education where the medium of instruction is their mother tongue.

Mother tongue is usually narrowly defined as the language of one’s ethnic group. A wider definition of mother tongue, according to the Oxford dictionary for example, is the language that one first learns to speak as a child – in other words, one’s first language. In this broader sense, a person could have more than one mother tongue and the ethnic language may not even be a mother tongue.

Our present education system caters for minorities but only those whose mother tongue is either Mandarin or Tamil through national-type schools.

Not catered for, among others, is a growing minority of Malaysians – of diverse ethnic backgrounds – whose mother tongue or first language is English.

This linguistic minority has the same right as all other minorities, including the indigenous people, to an education in their mother tongue in a national-type school. They should not have to compromise and attend a national or national-type school where the medium of instruction is not English.

Children who begin their schooling in a language which is not their mother tongue face two simultaneous challenges: learn a new language and learn in the new language.

Those who cannot cope with the former will obviously not be able to cope with the latter. How can the poor child understand what is taught if the child has difficulty understanding the language of instruction.

Inability to understand what is taught leads to a loss of not only interest in learning but also self-confidence as a learner. Disadvantaged by the language of instruction, even smart kids eventually drop out of school.

It is therefore not surprising that numerous studies have confirmed children learn best if the medium of instruction is their mother tongue (Paper commissioned for U, Jessica Ball, 2010).

These children perform better academically, and they have lower dropout rates and higher self-esteem than their counterparts who learn solely in a language which is not their mother tongue.

Moreover, once they have achieved academic proficiency, particularly literacy skills, in their mother tongue, these children tend to achieve higher proficiency in the official or national language, which is taught as a subject, than their counterparts who learn exclusively in the official language.

The government’s conviction that science and mathematics “need to be taught in a language easily understood by students” led to the reversal of the PPSMI policy of teaching and learning the two subjects in English. The reversal means that the two subjects, like all other subjects, will be taught solely in Bahasa Malaysia in national schools, and solely in Mandarin or Tamil in national-type schools.

One of the reasons cited by the government for its conviction was: “Unesco studies showed that it would be easier for students to learn in their mother tongue at the early stage of education”.

If the government believes science and mathematics are best learned in the mother tongue, surely it must also believe the same is true for all other subjects.

So when will we have English-medium national-type schools, where Malaysian children from diverse ethnic backgrounds learn in their mother tongue and learn the national language together?

Parents who are in favour of English-medium national-type schools should vote for them on the webpage which I have set up. Please tell other parents you know to vote too. Your votes will further strengthen the case for such schools. I plan to report the results in my next column.

* Dr Lan Boon Leong is an associate professor at the Monash University Sunway Campus. He thinks and dreams solely in English.

Bar council: Have separate commission for cops

The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council feels that a separate independent commission should be set up to handle public complaints against the Royal Malaysian Police, alongside the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC).

Its vice-chairman Christopher Leong said the setting up of the EAIC did not mean the proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) should be forgotten.

“The IPCMC should still be implemented as the police force is the biggest law enforcement agency,” he told The Star yesterday.

He said the police must be taken out of the purview of the EAIC and the IPCMC set up solely to monitor the police.

“Both these independent commissions must be given the power to institute disciplinary action, otherwise they will be toothless,” said Leong.

He added that while the EAIC had no powers of prosecution, it might be undermined and embarrassed if enforcement agencies chose to ignore its recommendations and findings.

“If the agencies choose to take actions against the officer involved, it will prolong the complaints procedure as they need to look into the case again and this will incur more time and costs,” said Leong.

He said provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act or similar provisions could be provided to protect the complainants to overcome the natural reluctance and fear of the public coming forward to lodge a report.

“Protection could be revoked if it is found that the complaints were lodged in bad faith, that is knowingly lodging a false complaint for collateral purpose,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusof described the EAIC as a positive step towards instilling integrity among enforcement officers.

“EAIC strikes a proper balance as it covers complaints not only against the police but also against officers from other government enforcement agencies,” he said yesterday.

Jakarta to lift ban on maids

The New Straits Times

PUTRAJAYA (May 17, 2011): Indonesia will lift a two-year moratorium on sending its maids to Malaysia with the signing of an agreement between both countries in Jakarta later this month.

Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, when contacted by Bernama, confirmed this but said the date for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had yet to be fixed.

“We are waiting for the Indonesian government to fix the date,” he said.

“When they have set the date, I’ll go to Jakarta. What is certain is  that the MoU will be signed before the end of this month.”

He said discussions were held between officials from both countries and they were now fine-tuning some of the details.

Subramaniam said that some of the points that had been agreed upon by both countries dealt with the passport problem, cost structure and the off day for maids.

He said the government would also make it compulsory for employers to bank in the wages of maids.

He said maid agencies in Indonesia would be required to send only trained maids and to provide replacements should any maid run away.

Based on the number of employers registered with maid agencies in the country, Malaysia is in urgent need of almost 35,000 maids.

Organ trafficking: 'Her heart was missing'

This Chinese man is offering to sell his organs to pay the bills, typical as poverty drives the trade; the World Health Organisation estimates that trafficking accounts for at least five per cent of global kidney transplants [GALLO/GETTY]
The stories are grim and often impossible to confirm: illicit clinics, corrupt doctors and global networks dealing in human flesh.
International organ trafficking is a big business, with an estimated value of $50m in 2008, according to Michael Bos from the European Platform on Ethical Legal and Psychosocial Aspects of Organ Transplantation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated in 2007 that organ trafficking accounts for between five and 10 per cent of kidney transplants performed annually across the globe.
Antonio Medina, 23, a paperless Central American migrant moving through Mexico to the US, says he knows a fellow traveller who witnessed organ trafficking, after he and his wife were captured by a criminal gang.
"He was travelling with his wife and they [gangsters] took both of them," Medina told Al Jazeera during an interview in Mexico. "They [gangsters] put them in separate rooms. He heard his wife screaming. After he went in and saw her on a table with her chest wide open and without her heart or kidney."
Medina's friend said he was saved from the grisly house-turned-clinic by Mexican soldiers. The claims, like many aspects of the organ trafficking business, are impossible to independently verify.
The profit motive
"I have no doubt organs are being removed from bodies," says David Shirk, a professor of political science and director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego who has investigated trafficking. "But for the most part, organ trafficking occurs in hospitals, where there are corrupt medical practitioners."
"Maybe people are cutting organs out as a form of torture - a great way to torture someone would be to tie them to a chair and pull their guts out in front of their eyes - but it is not credible to me that bodies are being used for transplants, as the procedure requires very sanitary conditions and careful donor matching," he told Al Jazeera.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines organ trafficking as commercial transplantation, where there is profit, or transplantations occurring outside of national medical systems. Direct organ theft, including the case Medina described, represents only a small portion of global trafficking.
"There are criminal underground organisations providing kidney transplantations," says Luc Noel, coordinator of essential health technologies at the WHO. "But most cases involve the poor, the destitute and the vulnerable that are willing to part with an organ for money."
"The common denominator [with theft and "consensual" sales] is profiteering," he told Al Jazeera.
This browser does not support the iframe element.
View International organ trafficking in a larger map
Poor people can reportedly earn between $3,000 to $15,000 for selling their organs, specifically kidneys, to middlemen who re-sell them to wealthy buyers for as much as $200,000
In a 2009 report on organ trafficking, the Council of Europe and the United Nations concluded that there was possibly "a high number of unreported cases", attributing this to the "huge profits and rather low risks for the perpetrators".
Mexico is not considered one of the worst countries for organ trafficking; the grisly practice is thought to be most prevalent in Israel, India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil, Nepal, the Philippines, Iran, South Africa and former Soviet states in eastern Europe including Kosovo and Ukraine.
"Transplant tourisms flourishes in areas with weak authorities," says Noel from the WHO. "We do not want to see a society where the destitute become a store of organs for the wealthy and powerful."
Online buyers
Customers normally come from the US, Western Europe, the Arab Gulf states, Israel and wealthy enclaves in the developing world. "The patients are also vulnerable and often extremely sick," Noel says. "The solution is that each community should address its needs in organs. Public authorities need to increase awareness on the benefits of [volunteering] for transplants."
Most people are coerced into selling their organs through a combination of misinformation and poverty, says Debra Budiani, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania's Centre for Bioethics.

So, how does one go about buying an illicit organ? It's a bit more complicated than walking to a shady part of town and haggling with a guy carrying wads of kidneys in his trench coat.

"The procedure for American patients is to go online and look for these services," Budiani told Al Jazeera. "This has been the framework for transplant tourism."
China has been particularly sophisticated in using the internet to attract transplant tourists, she says. The nominally communist country has one of the world's highest execution rates, and dead convicts provide a ready supply of healthy young organs.
Once patients arrive in China and the deal is set up, organisers will often force them to compete for the organs in intense bidding wars, Budiani says. "They will get into a situation in the hospital where they are waiting to see who will get the first organ from an executed prisoner," and the highest bidder gets first pick, even though prices are normally negotiated before foreigners arrive in China.
"There is a lot of dirty business around these operations," she says. "And it started with a lot of coordination on the internet."
In a posting on a free announcements website in Tuxla Gutierrez, the capital of economically marginalised Chiapas state in southern Mexico, a user offers to pay $25,000 for an organ and promises to be "absolutely discrete and serious" with whoever responds to the add. The user leaves an e-mail address and says that the operation will be done in Houston, Texas. The proposed transaction is illegal, Budiani says.
New organising tools

In addition to her academic work at the University of Pennsylvania, Budiani directs the Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions, a grassroots advocacy group.

The coalition is planning a trafficking hotline, to take calls from victims, so they can be linked to doctors and the appropriate authorities."We are establishing a virtual social network, with mobile phones as the common denominator," Budiani says. "Even if they are illiterate, they still have access to mobile phones."

A prototype of the plan will be tested in Egypt and India in the coming months. The hotline could also act as a resource for understanding the sources of this kind of crime, she says, adding that Egypt's recent revolution, and the political instability it has caused, creates a "vulnerable period where human trafficking could thrive".

Back in Mexico, Antonio Medina says his friend whose wife had her organs stolen just wants to forget the whole experience. "We keep in touch by email, he is back in Honduras."

As seems standard with trafficking victims, they fall back into the shadows, often irreparably physically and emotionally scarred, isolated and alone.
"Migrants are highly vulnerable to various forms of exploitation," says David Shirk. And that reality extends across the globe, from refugees of Sudan's internal conflicts facing organ trafficking in Egypt to Moldovans and Kazakhs who have had their kidneys illicitly removed in Kosovo.

Debra Budiani hopes the proposed anti-trafficking hotline will help prevent abuses, while providing solace to those who are missing organs, facing shame and sickness.

"We want to allow people to mobilise and share resources on how they have been abused," she says, "to put them in touch with other victims so they aren't so isolated."
Follow Chris Arsenault On Twitter: @AJEchris

Teen’s family want police nod for another autopsy

Johari's grandmother speaking to the media.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — The family of Johari Abu Bakar shot dead by police last Friday will seek approval tomorrow for a second post-mortem on the 17-year-old youth.

PKR legal bureau chief Latheefa Koya confirmed with The Malaysian Insider today the appeal will be sent in writing to the Sepang district police chief in the morning.

“We need to find out if they are willing to agree to a second post-mortem before taking it further,” she explained when contacted.

Should the police refuse the request or fail to respond, Latheefa said the family will then file a petition in court.

Johari, a school dropout who became an odd-job worker, was killed in a shootout with the police behind a budget hotel at the Cyber Valley Commercial Centre, Dengkil, at about 10.30pm on Friday.

According to the police, the youth was believed to have been hiding in the hotel with four other suspects after they allegedly stole a Toyota Alphard near Taman Megah, Kelana Jaya, on May 10.

He was purportedly gunned down after he opened fire at the cops when he was ambushed outside the hotel.

Johari’s family members are however questioning the circumstances surrounding the boy’s fatal shooting, accusing the police of giving inconsistent accounts of the incident.

They have also complained of “suspicious” signs of assault seen on Johari’s body, like a broken right arm.

Johari’s family members, including his mother, grandmother and two brothers, lodged a police report on the incident at the Damansara police station on Sunday, seeking an independent investigation into the boy’s death and urging for a second post-mortem.

‘Jangan hina Islam’

Menurut presiden Perkasa, ada segolongan yang tidak tahu menghormati Islam.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pemimpin tinggi Perkasa sekali lagi mengingatkan pihak tertentu supaya menghentikan tindakan menghina Islam.

Datuk Ibrahim Ali berkata, jika mereka terus berbuat demikian orang Melayu akan berjihad mempertahankan Islam.

“Orang Melayu berjihad mempertahankan Islam walaupun hanya saya seorang” kata presiden Perkasa di depan 300 ahli dan penyokong di sini hari ini.

Kira-kira 50 anggota polis berkawal di sekitar kelab Sultan Sulaiman Kampung Baru di mana program itu diadakan.

Bagaimanapun, Ibrahim ahli parlimen bebas Pasir Mas berkata, Perkasa tidak mahu menimbulkan kekacauan dan bergaduh dengan kaum lain.

Tetapi menurutnya, ada segolongan yang tidak tahu menghormati Islam.

“Kepada golongan ini saya mahu mereka jangan bermain api. Saya tidak mahu mereka sentuh agama Islam.

“Saya tidak mahu tengok anjing pegang Al Quran. Saya tidak mahu tengok gambar babi dalam internet. Saya tidak mahu tengok perempuan bogel duduk atas Kaabah,” katanya yang mendapat tepukan semangat dari orang ramai.

Malaysian with links to Karunanidhi probed in land scam

Indian investigators have quizzed an influential Malaysian businessman over a mega-million-ringgit land deal.

NEW DELHI: A Malaysian, believed to be an influential businessman back home and in the Indian business fraternity, has been questioned by Indian investigators for his alleged link to a mega-million-ringgit land scam in Chennai, which also involved top south Indian politicians.

Yesterday, India’s leading probe agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), queried the Malaysian, believed to be closely linked to immediate past Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and his daughter, K Kanimozhi, reported the Indian media.

Karunanidhi also heads the Dravida Munnetra Khazhagam’s (DMK), one of two leading political parties in Tamil Nadu.

According to the media, the Malaysian played a leading role in the deal of the 53,000 sq ft plot located on the Ann Malai Road in Chennai, which was taken on lease by a big industrial house for nearly 30 years.

“The Malaysian reportedly managed to obtain the plot from the owners and sold it to a private company just before the (2009) general election,” said the newspaper.

Among others, the CBI is probing why the land was sold to the Malaysian businessman at RM17 million, when the prevailing market price was nearly RM135 million, and whether DMK politicians influenced the land transfer for personal gains.

According to media reports, the Malaysian and an Indian chartered accountant who played a key role, were grilled by CBI for nearly seven hours in Delhi.

Last April, a Kuala Lumpur-based Malaysian “Datuk” was also questioned in connection with the scandal – which rocked the Indian Parliament for months because the exchequer lost billions of dollars in revenue due to the scam.

Kanimozhi, a legislator herself, is being charged by an Indian court for her involvement in the mobile phone licensing scandal or 2G scam, and the land sale, as chunks of funds collected from the sale, were suspected to have been diverted to her party-owned television channel.

Another senior DMK politician who was the previous telecom minister, A Raja, is now in Tihar Jail for awarding the licences to selected corporate firms at very low price in 2008.

On May 13, when the state election results were declared, the then ruling DMK suffered a major setback in the state, wining only 30 of the 234 seats.

Indian political analysts concluded that the 2G scam had an impact on DMK’s poor performance and people of Tamil Nadu clearly wanted to purge dynasty-based politics and the widespread graft in the state.

- Bernama

Right to practise own religion guaranteed, says DPM

The basis of harmony arises from mutual respect for every faith, says Muhyiddin Yassin.

KUALA LUMPUR: The celebration of various religious festivals in an atmosphere of harmony is clear evidence of the existing close relations among the various races and religions in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today.

He said the basis of this harmony among the people of the various religions arose from the mutual respect of the people for every religion practised in the country.

Muhyiddin said that though Islam was the official religion of the country, the right of every citizen to practise his or her own religion in peace and harmony was enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“This has been established in Malaysia for a long time. It is common for Malaysians to extend festival greetings to their friends from other faiths,” he said in his address at the Wesak Day Open House at Wisma Dharma Cakra, Buddhist Maha Vihara, in Brickfields, here.

Muhyiddin said the government not only allowed the building of houses of worship of every religion, but also declared public holidays on festival days to enable the people to celebrate the festivals in a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere.

Muhyiddin said the Wesak Day public holiday, declared in 1962 by then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, was evidence of the government’s recognition of the position and role of Buddhists in the country.

He said that about 19% of the people in the country were Buddhists, many of them from among the Chinese community.

“The government encourages the multi-religious community to take advantage of the opportunity (of the festivals) to express respect. I believe this practice of expressing respect should continue to be cultivated. Hopefully, this will help to strengthen solidarity and harmony,” he said.

He said he was happy with the role played by the leaders of the various religions in the country in ensuring continued harmony among the people, adding that the harmony would help maintain the peace and prosperity of the country.

He said Malaysia’s experience and success as a multiracial and multi-religious country was known to the world.

Good relations

Muhyiddin said foreign leaders and visitors were often amazed at the good relations among the people of various faiths in the country, which they might regard as unusual.

In fact, in Malaysia, houses of worship of the various religions are located close to one another, such as in Brickfields, and this is the manifestation and the willingness to recognise and accept the diversity in the country.

At the event, also attended by several ministers and deputy ministers, Muhyiddin planted a sapling in the compound of Wisma Dharma Cakra.

Buddhists and visitors took the opportunity to shake hands with the deputy prime minister.

Meanwhile, thousands of Buddhists and others as well as tourists thronged the Wesak Day celebrations from early today to, among other things, receive blessings from the priests.

In GEORGE TOWN, thousands of Buddhists thronged the Malaysian Buddhist Association at Burmah Road and the Penang Buddhist Association at Anson Road for prayers since last night.

Penang Wesak celebrations committee chairman Dr Loh Hock Hun said preparations for this year’s Wesak Day celebrations, carrying the theme “Cultivate loving kindness, foster harmony”, had begun in mid-April.

Wesak Day has been celebrated in Penang for over 35 years.

Loh said the Wesak Day procession tonight was expected to be attended by more than 10,000 Buddhists.

“A total of 18 floats decorated with lotus flowers and Buddha statues will lead the procession of devotees over a 7km distance,” he said.

The Wesak Day procession will start at the MBA in Burmah Road and wind through Pangkor Road, Kelawei Road, Perak Lane, Peel Avenue, Macalister Road and Madras Lane.

- Bernama

Remembering massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka

Special prayers will be held tomorrow to mark second anniversary of the killing of 40,000 civilians by Sri Lankan troops.

KUALA LUMPUR: Tamils throughout the world, including those in Malaysia, will be holding special prayers tomorrow to the mark the second anniversary of the killing of 40,000 civilians by the Sri Lankan army.

This occurred during the savage final onslaught by government troops against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters on May 18, 2009 in Mullivaikal in the north east of Sri Lanka.

Called Mullivaikal Thinam (Mullivaikal Day), local organising committee chairman S Pathi urged Malaysians to attend the prayers in support of families of those killed by the army.

He said about 500 people are expected to attend the prayers at the Girl Guides Hall in Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, Brickfields at 8pm tomorrow.

“We want to show our solidarity with family members of those killed during the conflict and to the people of Sri Lanka that we care for them,” said Pathi.

He added that currently there were about 4,000 Tamil Sri Lankans registered with the UNHCR here and several local NGOs are assisting these refugees with basic supplies of food and temporary shelters.

On May 18, 2009, Sri Lanka forces declared victory over LTTE and in their savage onslaught of Mullivaikal, ignored the civilian population numbering in the thousands in the area.

Sri Lankan troops forced these Tamil civilians into a narrow strip of land on the North-eastern coast and indiscriminately bombarded the area using heavy weaponry.

The Sri Lankan government declared ‘no-fire zones’ on three different occasions, urging civilians to seek shelter there and then continued their bombardment of these “safe zones”.

Sri Lankan soldiers also fired artillery that directly struck or landed near hospitals on many occasions. Up till today over 146,000 Tamils are unaccounted for.

WikiLeaks and the Altantuya Murder

(Asia Sentinel) Cables show the US embassy in KL feared "prosecutorial misconduct" during the sensational 2009 trial

The US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur closely followed the trial of the accused killers of Mongolian interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu and frequently discussed whether current Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was involved in the killing, according to diplomatic cables supplied to Asia Sentinel by the WikiLeaks website.

The diplomats, like much of the public, also speculated that the trial was being deliberately delayed and feared what one cable calls "prosecutorial misconduct" that was being politically manipulated. The embassy officials based their concerns on sources within the prosecution, government and the political opposition.

The cables also draw attention to an intriguing allegation that then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi may have attempted to use the proceedings to implicate Najib, a claim that was quickly hushed up in the Malaysian press.

Altantuya was murdered in October 2006 by two of Najib's bodyguards, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 30 and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35. who stood trial and were pronounced guilty in April 2009.  Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib's best friends and Altantuya's lover, was accused of participating in the murder but was freed without having to put on a defense.

The murder has been tied closely to the US$1 billion acquisition of French submarines by the Malaysian ministry of defense, which Najib headed as defense minister during the acquisitions. Altantuya reportedly acted as a translator on the transaction, which netted Razak Baginda's company a €114 million "commission" on the purchase.  Reportedly she had been offered US$500,000 for her part in translating.  After she was jilted, she vainly demanded payment. A letter she had written was made public after her death saying she regretted attempting to "blackmail" Razak Baginda.

French lawyers are investigating whether some of the €114 million was kicked back to French or Malaysian politicians. Despite the scandal, the US government has not publicly backed away from Najib. In April 2010, Najib visited the White House and was praised by President Barack Obama for the parliament's passage of an act allowing Malaysian authorities to take action against individuals and entities engaged in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The cables are replete with accounts of a long series of meetings with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who repeatedly told the Americans that Najib was connected to corrupt practices in the acquisition of the submarines as well as the purchase of Sukhoi Su-MCM-30 Flanker fighter jets from Russia.  Anwar also called attention to Najib's connection to the Altantuya case.

A Jan. 24, 2007 cable, marked "secret," wrote that "Perceived irregularities on the part of prosecutors and the court, and the alleged destruction of some evidence, suggested to many that the case was subject to strong political pressure intended to protect Najib."

In a Feb. 1, 2008 cable, the embassy's Political Section Chief, Mark D. Clark, wrote that a deputy prosecutor had told him "there was almost no chance of winning guilty verdicts in the on-going trial of defendants Razak Baginda, a close advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, and two police officers.  She described the trial as interminably long." (That, of course, turned out to be wrong. Sirul and Azilah were ultimately convicted and have appealed their sentence)

Clark called the trial a "a prosecutorial embarrassment from its inception, leading many to speculate that the ineptitude was by design.  On the eve of the trial,Malaysia's Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail dropped his lead prosecutors and replaced them with less experienced attorneys.  Similarly, a lead counsel for one of the defendants abruptly resigned before the trial 'because of (political) attempts to interfere with a defense he had proposed, in particular to protect an unnamed third party.'"

The protracted nature of the case, Clark continued, led "at least one regional newspaper to speculate that 'the case is being deliberately delayed to drive it from public view. Malaysia's daily newspapers rarely mention the case's latest developments, and it is unprecedented in Malaysian judicial history that a murder trial could drag on for seven months and still not give the defense an opportunity to present its case.  Such an environment has led many to conclude that the case was too politically sensitive to yield a verdict before the anticipated general elections."

A January 2007 cable called attention to Razak Baginda's affidavit confirming that he sought the help of Musa Safri, later identified by reporters as Najib's aide-de-camp, in ridding him of the jilted woman, and in other cables pointed out that Musa had never been called for questioning.

In another cable, dated May 16, 2007, Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, a deputy home affairs minister in former Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi's cabinet told US Embassy officials that he was "certain that government prosecutors would limit their trial activities to the murder itself and the three defendants; prosecutors would not follow up on allegations of related corruption or other suspects."

In a Jan. 27, 2007 cable, marked "Secret," embassy officials wrote that "In December we heard from one of (Anwar's) lawyers that Razak Baginda's wife was in contact with Anwar and Wan Azizah, suggesting one possible source for Anwar's information." 

Razak Baginda's wife, during one of his first appearances in court, screamed that her husband "doesn't want to be prime minister." That was taken by observers as a reference to the fact that Najib reportedly had been having an affair with Altantuya but passed her on to Razak Baginda because it would be unseemly to have a mistress when he succeeded Abdullah Badawi as premier.  Najib has offered to swear on the Koran that he had never met the woman.

However, in July 2008, P Balasubramaniam, a former policeman and private detective who had been hired by Razak Baginda to protect him from Altantuya, filed a sworn statement saying he had been told by the accused man that Najib not only knew the murdered woman but had an affair with her and introduced her to him, passing her on because he did not want the onus of having a mistress in the event that he would become prime minister.

In a telephone interview on May 9, Anwar, however, told Asia Sentinel that Razak Baginda's wife was not the source of his knowledge of Najib's connection and that instead he had been told of the connection by Setev Shaariibuu, Altantuya's father, who said he had wished to present evidence of Najib's involvement, but was not allowed to do so.  Multiple attempts to contact Setev by Asia Sentinel have been unsuccessful.

Almost immediately after he made the statement, Balasubramaniam was picked up and driven to a police station, where he was forced to withdraw the statement and write a new one saying Razak Baginda had told him nothing of the sort. Balasubramaniam fled Malaysia for India.  He later said Najib's brother, Nizam,  and wife, Rosmah Mansor, had met with him and that he was offered RM5 million (US$1.48 million) to forget his statement connecting Najib to Altantuya. Balasubramaniam displayed a flock of checks drawn on the account of an associate of Najib's wife.  The former private detective has made a a series of statements from outside the country about Najib's involvement.

A February 2008 cable from Political Section Chief Clark gives a hint that Abdullah Badawi himself may have been trying to get rid of Najib by forcing Razak Baginda to implicate him in the murder.

"In the latest turn of the ongoing Altantuya murder trial (reftels), accused political insider Abdul Razak Baginda, who has remained calm and composed through most of the proceedings, unleashed an emotional tirade shortly after the February 20 noon recess on the trial's 90th day," Clark wrote. "Referring to the Prime Minister by his nick-name 'Pak Lah,' Razak reportedly exclaimed:  'You can die, Pak Lah! (in Malaysian - Matilah kau, Pak Lah!) I'm innocent!' according to unpublished journalist accounts. 

"Local  newspapers and the government news service Bernama reported the fact of the outburst, but did not print Razak's  statements.  The short-lived exception was the English language newspaper The Sun, which included the quotations from Razak in its early morning February 21 edition.  Sources at newspaper confirmed to us in confidence that the Ministry of Internal Security compelled The Sun to withdraw and recall thousands of copies of their first run paper in which the original quote was included.  Prime Minister Abdullah serves concurrently as Minister of Internal Security."

During the trial, Clark wrote, Razak Baginda, "appeared uneasy throughout the morning session of court on February 20.  Razak's father, Abdullah Malim Baginda had whispered something to him shortly before the trial had begun for the morning and apparently upset the accused.  Razak had remained quiet throughout the morning hearings, but just after the noon recess was called and as he was leaving the courtroom he kicked and banged the door and yelled "You can die, Pak Lah! Die, Pak Lah!  I am innocent.  I am innocent."  He was later seen crying before his lawyer while his mother attempted to comfort him."

"Speculation is rife in Malaysia's on-line community concerning what it was that set off Razak Baginda  outburst, including conspiracy theories alleging the Prime Minister's office had urged Razak to implicate Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak …in return for  sparing Razak a guilty verdict and its mandatory death sentence," officials wrote.  

The cable goes on to write, "Regardless, the Internal Security Ministry would want to limit any possibly inflammatory reference to the Prime Minister at the trial, and particularly at this juncture due to the proximity of Malaysia's general election to be held on March 8.  Any connection between the Prime Minister and the murder trial would be scandalous.  The GOM (government of Malaysia) reportedly has worked hard to 'drive (the case) from public view' … and is not about to allow the case to influence the coming elections."

Nazri: No action against Ibrahim Ali

No action can be taken against Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali over his warnings of violence against the Christian community as such remarks are now a Malaysian norm, said de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.

No matter how unsettling such remarks are, Malaysians therefore "need to live" and "be mature" in dealing with such characters as Ibrahim and his ilk since social platforms and media such as Twitter and blogs have allowed statements such as Ibrahim's to proliferate beyond the government's ability to proscribe - or punish - them, he added.

"It's difficult to take action against Ibrahim now with the existence of Twitter and blogs ... because we cannot be selective in our prosecution," he told Malaysiakini when contacted today.

Ibrahim had caused public outrage after issued an ultimatum of sorts against "ungrateful Christians" if they went on with a purported plot to subvert the position of Islam as the official religion of the federation.

NONEIbrahim had based his remarks on an Utusan Malaysia report earlier this month that alleged Christian leaders were conspiring to change the federal constitution in order to install a Christian as a prime minister and turn the Muslim-majority country into a Christian state.

Nazri (left) said users of Twitter and bloggers have been guilty of making statements deemed sensitive to one or other group.

"If I take action now (against Ibrahim), I have to move on all (of such) blogs and those (issuing similar remarks) on Twitter," said Nazri.

That, he added, will be a difficult task as the government would then be accused of stifling freedom of speech.

"The courts will be full of prosecutions against (persons accused of making) seditious statements," he reasoned.

He stressed the mammoth prospect of such a task presently compared to a few years ago when those propagating extremism and those uttering racial insinuations were hauled to court and punished.
Nazri: Live with it
Mohd Nazri had previously said that the government should "get rid" of the right-wing group, as it had acted in an extreme manner.

His comments came at a time when Perkasa had acted as a major stumbling block to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's economic reform efforts, as the group had decisively opposed the PM's proposal to gradually lift affirmative action policies to encourage open competition.

Mohd Nazri had then stressed that action can be taken if leaders of such groups uttered seditious remark.

In contrast, Nazri now says, "The state of the country is now beyond this... we have to live with it now.”
Religious leaders, critics and politicians from both sides of the fence have been mounting pressure on the government to act against Umno-linked Utusan Malaysia for its reckless reports on the alleged 'Christian conspiracy'.

utusan malaysia kritsian agama rasmiUtusan front-paged an article titled 'Kristian Agama Rasmi?' (Christianity the official religion?) that cited unsubstantiated allegations on two pro-Umno blogs that Christian pastors were supposedly hatching a conspiracy to take over the country, abolish Islam as the religion of the federation and install a Christian prime minister.

The parties alleged to be involved have vehemently denied the reports and had lodged police reports against the Malay daily, and Utusan as well as the bloggers are presently under police investigation.

Siapa orang ketiga bersama Razak Baginda dan Altantuya ke Malta?

KUALA LUMPUR: Pemilik KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd, Abdul Razak Baginda dan warganegara Mongolia yang dibunuh dengan kejam Altantuya Shariibu pernah dikatakan bersama seorang lagi individu menaiki penerbangan ke Malta bagi urusan pembelian komisyen kapal selam Scorpene. Perkara itu didedahkan akhbar rasmi Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Suara Keadilan yang memetik kenyataan Pengarah Urusetia Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Cynthia Gibrael.

Dalam laporan itu, Cynthia berkata, dua tiket penerbangan itu disahkan atas nama Abdul Razak dan Altantuya. “Siasatan mendapati Gifen- sebuah subsyarikat kepada DCNS berpengkalan di Malta, berperanan sebagai pembuat bayaran. Mereka jumpa bayaran e-tiket melibatkan Razak baginda, Altantuya dan seorang lagi,” kata Cynthia.
Maklumat lanjut mengenainya disiar menerusi Suara Keadilan, edisi ke 16 yang boleh diperoleh di pasaran mulai hari ini.
Suara Keadilan minggu lalu, mendedahkan dua lagi bayaran komisen berjumlah RM32.5 juta, selain RM493 juta yang didedah lebih awal dalam proses pembelian dua kapal selam Scorpene.
Dua komisen itu terbongkar selepas pihak berkuasa Perancis memperoleh dokumen hasil serbuan ke atas DNCS, syarikat yang membina dan menjual kapal selam kepada negara ketiga termasuk Malaysia.
Sebelum ini, sebuah laman web Perancis, Rue89 mendedahkan, syarikat Perancis, Armaris tidak pernah membayar Perimekar RM493 juta, sebaliknya ia sebenarnya dibayar kerajaan Malaysia sendiri.
Perimekar adalah syarikat yang dimiliki sepenuhnya KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd, di mana pemegang saham terbesarnya dimiliki isteri Abdul Razak.
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Railway double-tracking contracts

While Malaysians are being distracted by the Anwar trial and by those trying to divide us on the basis of ethnicity and religion, big contracts are being dished out, including the last portion of the double-tracking project.
Initially in 2002 the whole North-South double-tracking was supposed to have been handled by China and India at around RM40bn with payment to made in the form of crude palm oil.
In Oct 2003, MMC-Gamuda bagged the job at RM14.3bn but that did not go down well with the foreign parties. Two months later, just after Abdullah Badawi had taken over, the project was shelved.
The project was revived in 2007 and this is the current state of play of the double-tracking contracts:

Padang Besar-Ipoh (329km):

MMC-Gamuda, awarded in 2007, RM12.5bn
Ipoh-Rawang (179km – completed):
Work done by DRB-Hicom (contract terminated after 88 per cent of work) and completed by UEM Construction (per Wikipedia)

Seremban-Gemas (94km):
Indian Railway Construction (Ircon), RM3.5bn
Gemas-Johor Baru (>200km plus transportation hub in JB, perhaps linking up to Singapore MRT):
Chinese government has reportedly nominated three firms to partner local companies
- China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC),
- China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC)
- understood to be a firm partnering Tan Kay Hock, who controls Johan Holdings Bhd and George Kent.
The government has appointed two consultants to conduct studies and to negotiate with the China consortiums.
Estimated cost: > RM7bn
Let’s wait and see which local company is selected to partner a firm from China.
I am just wondering why so many different companies are selected for a north-south railway line that isn’t all that long.
(The above information is extracted from a report that appeared in The Edge, 2-8 May 2011.)