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Friday, May 20, 2011

Nazri: Free speech for all, even Ibrahim Ali

Nazri said it was hard to prosecute Ibrahim for sedition as his threats have not caused violence. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Standing by his decision not to haul up Datuk Ibrahim Ali for threatening a “crusade” on Christians, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz has pledged the same treatment for all similar transgressions in the future. “It is not just the opposition politicians but also those in the Barisan Nasional (BN). In fact, anybody at all... bloggers and so on,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.
The de facto law minister said this was because the existence of the new media like blogs, Facebook and Twitter had forced the government to relax its control over an individual’s right to free speech.
“We cannot practise selective persecution. So if we were to act against Ibrahim, then we have to act against bloggers or newspapers or Twitter users. And yet, these people are also protected by the Bill of Guarantees (BoGs),” he said, referring to the government’s pledge not to censor the Internet under the 10-point BoGs of the Malaysian Multimedia Super Corridor.
Nazri stressed, however, that this did not mean he backed Ibrahim, whom he previously clashed with in the media, and called on all Malaysians to judge wisely statements made by any individual.
“The landscape has changed. Sensitive matters are now being discussed in the open.
“When something is mentioned all the time, it becomes less sensitive and this is a good thing because then things can be mentioned but people will not take offence to it,” he said.
Nazri pointed out that if Ibrahim had made a similar statement 40 years back, he would have likely triggered a riot among the country’s various races.
“But it has been days since he made the statement and yet, we do not see any riot on the streets. People are no longer as sensitive as they were before.
“Now, people just laugh at Ibrahim and call him a clown,” he said.
Ibrahim threatened Christians with a crusade. — file pic
He said it was likely because PAS members, all of whom are Muslims, as well as Umno members, rejected Ibrahim’s views. “So you cannot even say that Ibrahim’s words have caused the Malays to rise against the Christians.
“It is no longer a shock to Malaysians when these issues are raised because of the new media... we have been talking about it openly all the time.
“If you speak, for example, of Article 153, people are no longer as sensitive as before and is this not a good thing?” he said.
Nazri claimed that wielding the Sedition Act or any such legislation against an individual would be a difficult, saying it has to be proven in court that the person’s words or actions had led to violent circumstances.
“But in this case... how to prove? Did anything happen? None,” he pointed out.
Ibrahim threatened Christians nationwide during a rally in Gombak on Saturday with a crusade or holy war should they proceed with their purported agenda to usurp Islam.
The Perkasa president thundered to an audience of some 200 at Kampung Changkat here that he was willing to take the fall for his statement in order to defend the dignity of Islam.
Although he complained of fatigue from his nine rallies from Kelantan to Gombak since last Friday, the Pasir Mas MP also said his blood was boiling with rage and “hairs standing on end” following recent reports of a Christian conspiracy between religious leaders and opposition party politicians.
“In Kelantan earlier, I declared before the police, I told the security forces present that if they want to send my messages to Bukit Aman (police headquarters), please go ahead.
“Please record my words — if there is any party in Penang, especially the Christian priests who are being backed by the Penang DAP, should continue with their agenda which we already know, I would like to offer that if they want to hold a crusade, we can,” he charged.
Ibrahim was referring to the recent row over a controversial newspaper report in Utusan Malaysia entitled “Kristian Agam Rasmi?” (Christianity the official religion?) in which it was alleged that DAP leaders and Christian priests were conspiring to take over Putrajaya, abolish Islam as the religion of the federation and install a Christian prime minister.
The report was based entirely on unsubstantiated blog posts by two pro-Umno bloggers, one of whom is currently under investigation by police. The second blogger has since deleted the entire contents of his blog.
Christian leaders and DAP members have denied the reports and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was also forced to host a meeting with the religious chiefs to solve the issue but Ibrahim insisted on Saturday that the report was true.
Utusan Malaysia’s Christian conspiracy report is presently under police investigation.

Leaders of hate

Unless Najib rebukes Mahathir, Ibrahim and the likes of them for creating ill-will among Malaysians of various faiths, only then will the rakyat take 1Malaysia seriously.

Last Sunday, I stepped out of the house after a long hiatus to purchase a stroller. I decided to take the taxi back home and as I set foot inside the cab, I asked the cabbie whether he would quote the travel fare based on the metre. His reply:

“Why do you ask? Of course I use the meter. Don’t take offence but I must tell you it is the Indian cabbies who are the culprits. They never use the meter. This makes me very angry. It also makes me very angry when the Malay rights are questioned. We the Malays are very sensitive when it comes to our privileges.

“If bloodshed is necessary to defend what is ours, we will do so,” the cabbie retorted.

When I reached home, the meter showed RM8.10 and in the blink of an eye it increased to RM10. Curious, I questioned the cabbie.

“Oh! I thought you had a big purchase so I decided to charge you extra.”

This despite the fact that the stroller was resting on the back seat of the cab and not in the luggage compartment. I reminded him it was merely a stroller and upon hearing this, the already embarrassed cabbie asked for RM8.

Somehow the cabbie’s words served as a déjà vu when the following day I read in the newspapers the caveat coming from former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to the Malays – that they must be united if they want to have a Muslim prime minister.

“It is up to Malaysians… if you do not want to choose a Muslim PM, you will get a non-Muslim one.

“We hope Muslims here get to decide on the PM because they are the majority. If they (Muslims) are split, then we cannot do anything,” one of the newspapers quoted Mahathir as saying.

The good doctor felt compelled to comment after law expert Professor Abdul Aziz Bari said the Federal Constitution does not require a Muslim prime minister to lead the government and that any such provision would be against Malaysia’s law of equality.

Threats and more threats

Both the cabbie and Mahathir have something in common – both unabashedly go about shouting that Islam is superior and any move to thwart what the dominant race is enjoying will incur severe repercussions.

What is happening here? Why the fixation that only a Muslim is most qualified to lead this country? Is an Indian or a Chinese leader, should there be any of such calibre, a no-no all because Muslims make the majority in Malaysia?

Three months ago, on Feb 1, Mahathir warned the non-Malays not to get carried away thinking Malaysia is their homeland as the “rightful” owners are the Malays because Malaysia was once called Tanah Melayu.

It does seem that no effort is being spared to put the non-Malays down, one way or another. To send the message out that only a non-Malay will never be tolerated as a prime minister says that all is not well when it comes to professing Malaysia as a united nation, in the true sense of the word.

To Mahathir, the “defenders” of Malay rights are no less heroes and it disturbs him why they are labelled as bigots. Indeed, when it comes to changing his tune, Mahathir is a regular natural.

Asserting the claim that only the majority race has the right to helm the country raises the question that Mahathir should answer with sincerity – where do the non-Malays really feature when it comes to “negaraku, tanah tumpahnya darahku, rakyat hidup bersatu dan maju” (my country, the land where my blood has spilt, the people living united and progressive) as declared by the national anthem “Negaraku” (My Country)?

Why the insecurity and worry over the idea that a non-Malay could some day make his way to Putrajaya, the nation’s administrative centre and call the shots?

What does Mahathir and the like risk losing should a non-Malay make history as the nation’s prime minister?

How about the fact that Mahathir who holds the record for having led Malaysia for 22 years is not a true-blue Malay, keeping his Indian-Muslim roots in mind? So why then does he harp on the fact that only a Muslim must lead Malaysia?

Mahathir’s malignant remark asking the Malays to stay united to prevent a non-Malay from taking over as premier smacks of bigotry. And there is no denying that this former prime minister has turned racist to the core, sparing no opportunity in putting the other races down.

Now, the ultra Malay-group Perkasa has jumped on the bandwagon, insisting that the prime minister’s post is reserved only for a Malay-Muslim. Its women’s wing Youth chief Zaira Jaafar stubbornly insisted that the sovereignty of the Malay rulers was made clear in the Federal Constitution – hence the PM’s post could only be filled by an individual from the majority race.

“It is implied,” was Zaira’s counter reply to the arguments coming from independent constitutional experts that there are no provisions stating that a premier must be a Malay-Muslim.

When leaders incite hatred

With so much dislike for the non-Malays, doubt has started creeping in as to whether harmony and unity will remain the bedrock of this country which is home to people of various races and faiths.

What is sad is that it is the leaders who keep inciting hatred among Malaysians of different beliefs, continuously warning the non-Malays to be thankful to the Malays for the chance given to call Malaysia home.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has said that national peace is important and no one is at liberty to meddle with it. That being so, why are Mahathir and Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali never taken to task each time they hit out at the non-Malays with their seditious remarks?

Until and unless Najib rebukes Mahathir, Ibrahim and the likes of them for creating ill-will among Malaysians of various faiths, only then will the people take Najib’s 1Malaysia seriously.

Creating racial crevasse has become an agenda for former leaders like Mahathir and if this continues, there is no saying to what extent and how quickly peace and unity among the people is going to erode.

Sabah Indians want a ‘voice’ in state assembly

Following in the footsteps of peninsula-based Gerakan, MIC is seeking to secure a foothold in Sabah politics.

KOTA KINABALU: The minority Indian population in Sabah is seeking to revive a “nominated-seat” once held by the community in the State Legislative Assembly.

According to Sabah MIC Youth, when the state constitution was first drafted, the goverment had made allowances for “nominated seats” in the state assembly mainly to cater for the minority groups in Sabah.

In the past, Indians in Sabah had a “nominated” seat in the assembly but that has since somewhat disappeared.

Making the request to Chief Minister Musa Aman, Sabah MIC Youth chief Taren Sunil Manoharan said it was necessary for Indians in Sabah to have a voice.

“This is because the problems faced by the Indians in Sabah are peculiar and are not necessarily the same faced by Indians in Peninsular Malaysia.

“For example, some of the Indians residing in Sabah were brought to work here under the Migration Fund Board Scheme from Malaya.

“Those people entered into an agreement with the Migration Fund Board which was established on Aug 25, 1966.

“Among the terms of the agreement are that these people are eligible to obtain permanent stay status in Sabah and to participate in the land settlement scheme after they had worked for two years in Sabah.

“Unfortunately, these terms were not fulfilled by the authorities concerned.

“As a result, some of these people and their children and grandchildren have been neglected and they are living below the poverty level,” he said.

‘Notable role’

Manoharan said many of these migrant workers also did not have proper documents even though their parents and grandparents were brought from Malaya to work in Sabah.

“The Indian community in Sabah has been around for umpteen years and has contributed a lot to the development of the state.

“Although we are not a very large group, we are nevertheless a sizeable minority and we need a voice in the state assembly,” he said.

Urging Musa to look into the community’s request, Manoharan said the Indian community in Sabah had played a “notable role in the public service, especially in the teaching and medical profession and the police force”.

“We’ve also been every active in business and trading, thus providing many work opportunities for locals.

“With a voice in the Sabah state assembly, our BN state government would be able to get regular input from MIC on different matters affecting the populace, ” he said.

Manoharan also offered the state government an alternative proposal in the event Musa was unable to accomodate Sabah MIC Youth’s request.

“We hope our chief minister will consider our appeal for a nominated seat.

“Alternatively, we would like to request for a senatorship as MIC has always supported the BN government both at the state and federal levels.

“Giving MIC Sabah a role in the state assembly or in the Senate (Dewan Negara) would further enhance that bond of cooperation.

“It would also give MIC Sabah a platform to voice the grievances of the Indians residing in Sabah,” he said, adding that they were not trying to pressure the state government.

“Rather, it is an appeal to the state government to accommodate our humble request with due consideration.

“We understand that it is entirely the prerogative of the chief minister to consider our appeal,” he said.

Check, some news just isn’t right

The Star (Used by permission)

The irresponsible, unfounded and silly abound on the Net. It is up to responsible news organisations to verify the truth of the matter before picking up the story.

HEY! Guess what? The other day I was wandering around Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur and I saw a group of Hindus discussing something in their temple compound.

You know what? I think they want to make Malaysia a Hindu state!

They are somehow going to get two-thirds of both the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara along with the Council of Rulers to change the Constitution and make us a Hindu state.

No, don’t laugh. I recognised a politician in there among them, so it must be true.

How can you tell this story is true? Well, you are reading it in a newspaper aren’t you? And to make sure this story is truly credible, I’m going to make the same assertions on my blog.

Does this sound stupid to you? It does? Well, that is because it is.

Now in the world we live in today, anyone with a computer can say any old thing, no matter how obtuse, and then get it out for the whole planet to see.

For example, the “scoop” that a bunch of priests and politicians are going to turn this country into some sort of Christian state.

It’s a wild accusation – irresponsible, unfounded and silly.

However, on the information super highway, you get a lot of silliness and this is to be expected.

In my view, this freedom to be as dumb as you can be is a price worth paying for the freedom of expression the Net gives us.

However, I find it is surprising that this “scoop” would be carried by a newspaper. Aren’t newspapers supposed to work within this strange thing called “journalistic principles”?

Shouldn’t a newspaper check out a story first by doing a spot of investigating? I don’t know, perhaps by calling the organisers of this “insidious” meeting of Christians and asking them.

The conversation could sound something like this: “Hello Padre, are you going to convince Parliament and the Council of Rulers to make this a Christian state? You aren’t? Are you sure, because a blogger said you are.

“What’s his name? I don’t know because he uses a pseudonym. Perhaps there is some other way you want to do it, maybe by force?

“What did you say? Oh, yes, Christians make up only 7% of the population and there is no Christian Army to call upon.

“I see, so it’s just a silly accusation then? Right, well, thanks for your time Padre.”

There you go, simple. No need to do a Woodward and Bernstein with midnight visits to underground car parks to meet informers named “Deep Throat”.

A simple phone call is all it takes.

Speaking of simple, it came as no surprise at all to me to hear Ibrahim Ali jumping on this story and then proceeding to rave and rant.

He promises to lead a crusade against Christians, and that he and his jolly Perkasa pals will be the first to lay down their lives.

What a brave man he is because I would have thought that such language would definitely bring the law down on your head.

I mean what if some Buddhist said he wanted to wage war on Muslims, he would have been locked away under the ISA or the Sedition Act before he can say “bad karma”.

But then it doesn’t take much bravery to say such things where Ibrahim Ali is concerned. Especially if the de facto Law Minister has given you the freedom to make such comments.

He said we have to live with such comments and he won’t use the Sedition Act.

This is because people say such things on the Net anyway and to single out Ibrahim Ali would not be right.

Hey, that’s good to know. So if lots of people say the same thing on the Net, then the Government won’t take action against any single person? This is a fascinating new policy.

Does this mean that if, say, a thousand of us put on our blogs, tweets and Facebook that we want an armed rebellion, no action will be taken?

Protection for abused foreign wives, too

The Star (Used by permission)
KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign wives of Malaysians will be accorded the same protection against domestic violence as locals, said Deputy Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Senator Heng Seai Kie.

Heng said the women deserved acknowledgement for their sacrifices in leaving their home country to bring up their children and to bring happiness to their husbands.

She added that the country was obliged to protect the women who may apply for Malaysian citizenship after their marriage.

“We will help all who need to be helped regardless of their citizenship status,” she said.

“The country must help these wives to assimilate into their new home and offer them full protection as it is also their right,” Heng told reporters after a two-hour closed-door meeting with 30 members of the Formosa Women Organisation of Malaysia here yesterday.

Formosa, represented by chairman Datin Fang Shu Hua, consists of about 200 women of Taiwanese descent married to Malaysians.

Heng said the group expressed concern over domestic violence and citizenship application.

Police statistics revealed a reduction in the number of reports in domestic violence last year, from 3,643 cases to 3,173.

Of these cases, 1,660 were reported in Malay families, 707 Indian, 405 Chinese and 413 for other races.

Heng said the cases listed under other races also included reports by foreign wives, although she could not confirm the exact figure.

“Nationalities aside, the main cause for domestic violence last year was misunderstanding between husband and wife, which resulted from a lack in communication, a sense of distrust in the other party and a stressful lifestyle,” Heng said.

Fly me to the moon: The Bangkok optician who makes bamboo saxophones

Optician Waiboon Tungyuenyong plays a few bars of "Fly Me To The Moon" on one of his bamboo saxophones.
Not far from Bangkok's Khlong Lod canal lies an optician's run by a man named Waiboon Tungyuenyong. It is set in a long row of  shophouses that lines one side of Atsadang Road.
The story of the shop and its owner is replicated many times over in this part of the city, with one exception. This particular store also doubles as a purveyor of bamboo saxophones.
Bamboo saxophones
“Sometimes people ask me to teach them, but they don’t have the patience, and they can’t pick the wood," says Waiboon.
“I was born here, upstairs," Waiboon explains, gesturing to the ceiling. "My parents came from mainland China, and they ran a shop, like a 7-Eleven. Next door was a general store, selling hammers, nails, mosquito nets. This area was the centre of Bangkok around 80 years ago. The suburbs were just fields."Bangkok’s shift from genteel town to economic and political hub is mirrored by its growth outwards, down the canals, along Charoen Krung, towards Sukhumvit and beyond. The city's initial boom was engendered by hundreds of Chinese migrant workers and their families.
Waiboon isn’t sure what triggered his parent’s move. Initially working as a chef, his father eventually saved up enough to set up his own business. Klong Lod used to be surrounded by government offices, which proved lucrative, as hundreds of employees poured out at lunchtime to purchase goods.
People would also travel in from the rural areas, due to a lack of amenities in the countryside. Eventually the shop started to stock items imported from Japan such as watches and eye-glass frames. While European goods were highly desirable, they were beyond the reach of most people’s pocket.
The bamboo saxophones, however, came from pure curiosity.
“About 30 years ago, I watched a TV show with this German guy on it, who made bamboo saxophones in the northern part of Thailand," says Waiboon. "I can play flute, and the bamboo instrument has the same fingering. The sound touched my heart. I felt sure I could play it.”
bamboo saxophones
Waiboon's shop is filled with cuts of bamboo, machinery and half-made instruments.
Eventually the two met in Bangkok, and Waiboon took to teaching himself to play the instrument, as well as trying to learn tunes off the radio.“I always listened to the radio at night," he recalls. "Frank Sinatra, Pat Boone, Beethoven, instrumental music. I was always listening, but I didn’t know the names of the songs.”
He would occasionally go to a friend’s nearby record store to find out the names. A particular favorite was "Baby Elephant Walk" by Henry Mancini.
This would lead to Waiboon occasionally accompanying local restaurant bands, in what were effectively early karaoke bars.
“I didn’t know the notes, my timing was so bad. I didn’t know which key it was in either. I’d write the keys down to remember for each song.”
His playing intrigued some of the other customers, who wanted to know where they could get a similar instrument.
Bamboo saxophones
The final product: Waiboon plays a tune on a finished bamboo saxophone. In the background, a photo of him performing for the Thai princess.
“They said, ‘If you can play it, you can make it’.  Every time I went out, it was the same.  So I thought if I can make it, then I can make money. This was the starting point.”Having no background in manufacturing instruments, Waiboon began a four-year period of trial and error, during which friends would occasionally suggest he should give up on his quest.
Eventually he put together his first prototype, but the sound was terrible. Despondent, he put it in the window of his shop, where it stayed for almost a year.
“One day a customer asked if it was for sale. I told him 'you can’t play it.' He asked to try, and it sounded fine.
"It’s because before, the wood wasn’t properly dry, so there was no sound. So then I learned you have to let the bamboo dry out first. After this I had success. Now I hold it over a grill.  It darkens the wood, and kills any bugs at the same time.”
Around the back of the store lies Waiboon’s workshop, dotted with cuts of bamboo, machinery and half-made instruments. There’s also a photo on the wall commemorating the time he played for Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at a trade fare.
Like Por, the overseer of nearby Klong Lod market, I wonder if he has a successor in mind.
“Sometimes people ask me to teach them, but they don’t have the patience, and they can’t pick the wood," Waiboon laments.
He then picks up his recently-made tenor sax, and the notes of "Fly Me To The Moon" waft out into the afternoon air.
Waiboon Optics is located on Thanon Atsadang, Klond Lod. Saxophones start from 5,000 baht each. It takes Waiboon 2-4 weeks to make a bamboo saxophone, depending on the model.

Chris Menist is a well-known Bangkok DJ who spins alongside DJ Maft Sai at their bi-monthly Paradise Bangkok parties. The next event will take place on May 28. Visit ZudRangMa Records for more info.

India film megastar Rajinikanth in intensive care

CHENNAI, India, May 19 — Indian film superstar Rajinikanth was being treated in intensive care for breathing problems today, doctors said, as legions of ardent fans prayed for his recovery.

The Sri Ramachandra hospital in the southern city of Chennai said that the 61-year-old Tamil language cinema icon was moved to a special ward yesterday to improve his breathing.

“He is showing a positive response to the treatment,” the hospital said in a statement issued last evening.

Rajinikanth, a former bus conductor turned actor, fell ill on the first day’s shooting of his new film “Rana” (The Monarch) at the end of April and has been admitted twice to hospital.

He has been in the private Sri Ramachandra hospital since last Friday. Medical sources said he is being treated for pneumonia and a kidney ailment.

On Monday, doctors removed fluid from his chest that was causing breathing difficulties.

“A multi-disciplinary team is closely watching his vital parameters to assess the benefits from a multi-pronged treatment strategy,” the hospital statement said.

Rajinikanth, who has starred in more than 175 films, is one of India’s biggest movie stars and inspires fanatical devotion from his many fans.

One fan, Karthik H, wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter: “You have problematic kidneys? I have two clean ones. Take one. Please get back to acting soon.”

The star’s family, though, has urged fans not to hold a vigil at the hospital but instead to offer prayers at local temples.

Last year he starred in “Endhiran” (Robot), the most expensive Indian movie ever made, which broke box office records. —

Police Bust Facebook Scam Syndicate

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 (Bernama) -- Police have crippled an international scam syndicate, which used social networking site Facebook to woo women, following the arrest of a Nigerian couple and a local woman.

Bukit Aman CID deputy director II Datuk Rodwan Mohd Yusof said Thursday the suspects, aged between 26 and 39, were arrested on Monday in two separate raids in Seri Kembangan and Cheras.

Police started investigations after a 43-year-old Taiwanese businesswoman reported being conned of RM380,000 after falling in love with the Nigerian man on Facebook.

Rodwan told reporters at his office here that the man posed as a British national by the name of John Miller on the website where he started a relationship with the woman three months ago.

The suspect claimed to reside in the United Kingdom and told her that he would send a parcel containing items valued at Pound Sterling 950,000 for her to pick up in Malaysia.

"The woman lives in Taiwan. The suspect told her that she must pay a certain amount of money as the parcel was held in Malaysia," he said.

It was only after she did transactions amounting to RM380,000 that she realised that she had been duped in what had been dubbed the African Scam, Rodwan said.

He said the Taiwanese woman flew to Malaysia and filed a report at the Taiwan Embassy here which was passed on to the police.

In the Seri Kembangan raid, police seized RM100,000 worth of jewellery, USD15,000, RM14,260 and computer equipment, among other things, he said.

Police believe that money from the scam was used to operate a rental car business registered under the local woman's name.

Four vehicles including a Toyota Rush and Honda Accord, worth about RM400,000 were confiscated from the business premises located near the home of the couple in Seri Kembangan.

The couple have a 18-month-old son and the husband is residing in Malaysia using a tourist visa. The wife is a businesswoman.

He said the local woman, who was arrested at an apartment in Cheras, is a private college student.

Rodwan said the syndicate was believed to have begun operations about three or four months ago.

"We will investigate whether the syndicate was involved in other reported cases," he said.

He added that the suspects were remanded for four days until Friday.

Rodwan said that 759 fraud cases were reported last year involving estimated losses of RM20.5 million with 130 people convicted.

Up to last month, 245 cases were reported with RM9.4 million in losses and 48 people charged, he said.

Mat Zain says Najib risks losing Muslim support over Datuk T

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — A retired senior police cop today warned Datuk Seri Najib Razak of a severe Muslim backlash if he failed to punish the “Datuk T” trio for “ridiculing” Islam when they attended a recent sumpah laknat ceremony in a mosque wearing bulletproof vests.

Former KL CID chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim said Najib could fault no one if he loses the confidence of the country’s Muslims by displaying his willingness to protect his “friends” at the expense of insulting Islam.

“YAB (Yang Amat Berhormat) cannot blame anyone if the Muslims in the country, who are not few in number, have lost their confidence in YAB.

“Moreover, when there is an increase in the number of civil service, army and police retirees, many of whom are Muslims, who are beginning to feel cheated and enslaved and more doubtful of YAB’s direction and ability to lead the government.... this is not a very good development for YAB,” he wrote in his letter to the prime minister today.

Mat Zain said that it would be a clear case of power abuse if Najib (picture) chooses to protect an it offender for his misdeeds simply because he considers the latter an ally.

“In Najib should refuse or deliberately find for excuses not to take lawful action against the three, then it will not only be deemed that he has abetted in the crime and conspired with the offenders, but he also appears to be fanning the fires of hatred,” he said.

Najib, he said, would also be allowing himself to be deemed a leader who has betrayed and ridiculed Islam.

“It is even more distressing that YAB has allowed a person, whom his own Cabinet regards as an individual who has not only insulted Islam but also abused power, is corrupt, a cheat and a rapist, to bring pornography and prostitution to the house of God,” he said.

Mat Zain was repeating his accusation last week that “Datuk T” — Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik and Datuk Shuib Lazim, the trio behind the recent sex video caper — had violated section 295 of the Penal Code when they attended Shazryl’s sumpah laknat ceremony at the Masjid Amru Al-As in Sentul wearing bulletproof vests.

At the time, Shazryl was swearing on the Quran that the man in the 21-minute sex video was Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Mat Zain complained that their actions had created the perception that the situation in the mosque was unsafe.

Section 295 states that “whoever defiles any place of worship, with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such defilement as an insult to their religion” will be jailed for up to two years and/or fined.

Mat Zain said that if the trio were to be charged under syariah law or the Penal Code for their actions, the case would not affect police investigation on the video itself.

“The two cases are separate,” he said.

He said that even if the identity of the man featured in the video was to be revealed, it would not free the trio from blame for insulting the mosque and ridiculing Islam.

“These two matters are separate criminal offences.

“Other than that, YAB and the Attorney-General have no power or right, according to any law, to indemnify the trio and free them from any criminal liability,” he said.

Mat Zain also insisted today that Utusan Malaysia’s reported claims of a purported Christian uprising against the Muslims was “artificial” in nature.

He pointed out that it was unprecedented in the country’s history that the Christians, who represent the minority group, had risen to usurp Islam from its position as the religion of the federation.

“In my opinion, only irrational Muslims who fear their own shadows will believe and view seriously this likelihood,” he said.

Mat Zain also reminded Najib of the killing of Othman Talib at Felda Lubok Merbau, Padang Terap, Kedah, in 1985, which he said was the result of an “intense political turmoil” during the Padang Terap election campaign.

He explained that he knew the full details of the incident as he had been installed as the Padang Terap district police chief just three days before it occurred.

“As a Muslim, I was saddened to see a group of Muslims weeping and mourning the death of a fellow Muslim, while at the same time, not far off, there was another group of Muslims who cheered as if celebrating a war victory.

“Even more distressing is that there were other rogues proclaiming themselves as Muslims who took the opportunity to ignite the fires of hostility among those of the same race and religion,” he said.

Mat Zain added that he hoped the event would bring Malaysians to realise that it is not the followers of Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity who were trying to destroy Muslims but the Muslims themselves.

“We should be ashamed of ourselves and not find a way out by issuing threats and attempting to intimidate those who are innocent,” he said.

‘Actors of influence’ in Najib government named in Wikileaks cable

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — US diplomatic cables leaked and published on Malaysia Today earlier this evening have singled out 19 key business leaders as “actors of influence” in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s inner circle.

The cable, penned by political counsellor Mark D. Clark to help the US State Department “examine Najib’s emerging administration and policy decisions”, was the first to be published on the popular blog after it signed a memorandum of understanding with whistleblower site Wikileaks on Monday.

Ethos Capital chairman and partner Rohana Mahmood topped the list of corporate giants, with the cable noting that she appeared “connected in some manner to most of the companies associated with Najib (picture)”.

“Among the 19 key business leaders listed, Rohana Mahmood stands out as deeply embedded in the Najib family’s commercial interests,” the cable said.

Rohana co-founded the now-dormant Malaysian Strategic Research Centre with another close Najib aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, who was acquitted in October 2008 of abetting in the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shariibuu.

The opposition has repeatedly alleged that Altantuya, who helped secure the US$1 billion (RM3 billion) Scorpene submarine deal, was killed over her personal relationship with Najib, a claim the prime minister has denied.

Abdul Razak’s company is said to have scored a €114 million (RM488.64 million) commission from the purchase of the French submarines.

Other heavyweights who made the list were MMC Corp Bhd’s Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, Berjaya Corp Bhd founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Hong Leong Group chairman Quek Leng Chan.

“MMC Corp Bhd Syed Mokhtar Albukharry [sic]... has significant business operations in Najib’s constituency and in the defence sector,” the cable said, adding that the billionaire was also believed to have a good, if not better, relationship with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Syed Mokhtar has emerged as a major contributor to Umno’s war chest after some Chinese Malaysian tycoons, irked by lack of contracts under the Najib administration, cut funding to the party.

The Malaysian Insider also understands that Syed Mokhtar is fast gaining a chokehold over the logistics industry as he seeks to extend MMC Corp’s control over Johor Port and Tanjung Pelepas Port to the country’s premier port, Northport, and the port in Tanjung Bruas.

He already holds the reins to several other critical sectors including the rice import business through national rice supplier Bernas, and the gas distribution business through MMC Corp subsidiary Gas Malaysia.

Other strategic sectors in which Syed Mokhtar has a significant presence include the sugar trade through Tradewinds, the power production business via the nation’s largest independent power producer (IPP), Malakoff Corp, and the water treatment sector through Aliran Ihsan Resources.

MMC Corp is also the project delivery partner for the new Klang Valley mass rapid transit (KVMRT), the costliest infrastructure project in Malaysian history, with the consortium widely tipped to be awarded the tunnelling portion of the system’s construction.

Also included in the list were:

• Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Azman Mokhtar;

• Khazanah director Mohamed Azman Yahya, founder and chief executive of Symphony House Bhd;

• Johan Holdings Bhd chairman and chief executive Tan Kay Hock, who is also a member of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA);

• Sapura Group’s Shahril Shamsuddin;

• Khazanah executive committee chairman and former Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) managing director Nor Yusof;

• Konsortium Transnational Bhd chairman and managing director Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh;

• CIMB Group executive director and former Economic Planning Unit (EPU) consultant Dr Gan Wee Beng;

• Ethos Capital co-founder Omar Mustapha Ong, Najib’s former special assistant;

• Paramount Corporation Bhd managing director and chief executive Teo Chiang Quan;

• TH Group Bhd managing director Lei Lin Thai;

• Mamee Double Decker Bhd chief executive Pang Tee Chew;

• Multi Vest Resources Bhd (MVest) chief executive Kenneth Eswaran, who the cable said was close to Najib’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor;

• Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) Holdings Bhd chief executive Bakke Salleh; and

• Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) chief Lodin Wok Kamarudin

The leaked cable, written prior to Najib’s confirmation as prime minister, follows the publication of a series of secret exchanges between Washington and the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in Asia Sentinel detailing US concerns over the trial of the two policemen accused of killing Altantuya.

The cables showed that US diplomats’ misgivings about the trial, which they suggested would be subject to “prosecutorial misconduct” and delays to drive the high-profile murder case from the public eye.

“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,” a cable dated January 24, 2007 said.

Altantuya was murdered in October 2006 by two of Najib’s bodyguards, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 30, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, who were pronounced guilty in April 2009.

Najib is currently on a week-long tour of the US to enhance trade and investment ties between the two countries.

Police skip ‘Rais rape’ interview

They wanted to record a statement from Tenaganita’s Irene Fernandez, but did not turn up.

PETALING JAYA: Police failed to turn up to record a statement from human rights group Tenaganita over rape allegations involving senior minister Rais Yatim and his former maid.

Tenaganita executive director Irene Fernandez said that officers from the Ampang police district headquarters were due to arrive at the group’s Jalan Gasing office at 3pm today.

“I was expecting to get a response from the police today,” Fernandez said, after waiting for more than an hour for the officers to show up.

She said the officers intended to question her over a report allegedly posted on the group’s website last Dec 26.

The report, about Rais’s alleged rape of his Indonesian domestic worker in 2007, was supposedly written by domestic workers’ rights group Migrant Care.

Fernandez said police initially sought an interview with her on May 12. As she was away then, she postponed the meeting to yesterday. Since no police officer turned up, she re-scheduled the meeting for today.

She called the Ampang police district headquarters several times today, but received no answer.

Fernandez said police originally intended to speak with her in January, but failed to do so at the time.

She also said Tenaganita could not have posted the report on Dec 26 since its office was closed for a week after Christmas.

‘Police not interested’

There were concerns about the group being singled out over the investigations, seemingly resurrected after a six-month hiatus.

Tenaganita’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya, questioned the police’s motives. She asked why they were more interested in investigating the exposure of the alleged rape rather than the crime itself.

“Why have they not done any investigation of the allegation? Have they taken statements from Rais Yatim or Migrant Care? As far as we know, the police are not interested in investigating the allegation.”

Ampang Jaya district police chief ACP Amiruddin Jamaluddin told FMT that today’s no-show was merely a case of miscommunication.

“My officers were actually waiting for a call from the NGO as they have tentatively stated the time to meet but had yet to confirm if they were available,” he said.

Amiruddin added that the probe over Rais’s alleged rape was not yet closed.

Fernandez also spoke of a rise in cases of employers sexually abusing their domestic workers.

She said that 40% of cases reported to the organisation this year involved sexual assault and that this was an increase of 20% over the same period last year.

“There have always been cases of domestic workers being abused or raped, but to see it at 40% is very worrying,” she said.

‘Policeman shoved gun into my mouth’

A youth says he was assaulted by eight men who claimed to be police officers.

PETALING JAYA: A youth from Bahau, Negri Sembilan, said eight men claiming to be police officers assaulted him when he was staying at his friend’s house.

S Devan, 20, lodged a report at the Ayer Hitam police station on Saturday. In the report, Devan claimed that one of the “officers” had shoved a gun into his mouth.

Devan, who works as a lorry driver’s assistant, said it all started when he stayed over at the house of his friend, known as Thiagu, in Taman Satelite, on April 13.

“About 2pm, I heard someone knocking loudly on the front and the back door of the house. When I opened the door, eight men entered and kicked me,” said Devan, who claimed the men did not show their authority card.

Claiming to be police officers from Johor, the men who were in plainclothes then handcuffed him and continued to assault Devan while asking him of his friend’s whereabouts.

“I told them that Thiagu had gone to work. They then threatened to detain me under the Emergency Ordinance and lock me away in Simpang Renggam for two years.

“That was when one of the ‘officers’, an Indian man, shoved his gun into my mouth,” said Devan.

He added that the men also confiscated his MyKad, mobile phone and his wallet before taking him to a restaurant.

There, Devan said, the men threatened to shoot him if he tried to run away.

“Later they brought me back home and continued to beat me. Before leaving, they told me not to tell anyone what happened.

“They also said they will put me under surveillance to watch my every move,” said Devan, who is now fearful for his life as the men continued to threaten him over the phone.

Aastivaram Foundation vice-president R Sri Sanjeevan criticised the police for dragging their feet on the case though the report was filed five days ago.

When contacted, Negri Sembilan OCCI (officer in charge of criminal investigation) ACP Hamdan Majid refused to divulge any details of the case, citing confidentiality.

Notis pembatalan PKR berniat jahat – Saifuddin

Beliau berkata demikian ketika mengulas mengenai notis Jabatan Pendaftaran Pertubuhan Malaysia (ROS) yang mahu membatalkan pendaftaran PKR pada 9 Jun depan.
PETALING JAYA: Jabatan Pendaftaran Pertubuhan Malaysia (ROS) berniat jahat apabila mengeluarkan notis ‘ancaman’ mahu membatalkan
pendaftaran PKR pada 9 Jun depan, kata Setiausaha Agung parti itu Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
Beliau berkata, dalam notis yang dialamatkan kepada pejabat PKR di sini pada 9 Mei lalu, kenyataan itu menyebut kuasa pembatalan itu
dibuat mengikut Seksyen 13(2) Akta Pertubuhan 1966 kecuali PKR pada tarikh sebelum 9 Jun memberikan alasan yang memuaskan ROS untuk tidak membatalkan parti itu.
Dalam notis itu, ROS memberi alasan ‘PKR telah sengaja melanggar Fasal 3.2.1 Undang-Undanng Berdaftar Parti kerana memecat keahlian A
Rajagopal pada 1 April 2009 dan 27 April 2009 tanpa terlebih dahulu disoal siasat dan dibicarakan oleh Lembaga Disiplin’.
“Dakwaan ini karut kerana Fasal 32.2.1 langsung tidak wujud dalam perlembagaan parti. Walaupun ianya kesilapan ejaan, Fasal 32 langsung tidak ada kaitan dengan isu disiplin dan Lembaga Disiplin.
“ROS turut melakukan kesalahan kerana rekod parti menunjukkan bahawa nama individu yang dinyatakan sebenarnya adalah Jayagopal a/l Andaikallam (No KP 520929-02-5709) dan bukannya Rajagopal a/l Andaikallam,” kata Saifuddin dalam sidang media di ibu pejabat PKR di sini hari ini.
Salinan notis yang ditandatangani oleh pegawai tertinggi ROS Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman itu juga dihantar ke alamat kediaman Presiden PKR Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail di Segambut, Bendahari Agung PKR William Leong Jee Keen, serta Penolong ROS Selangor.
Saifuddin menjelaskan terdapat 33 Fasal dalam Perlembagaan PKR, dan Fasal 32 itu hanya menyebut tentang ‘jika berbangkit sebarang perselisihan diatas tafsiran perlembagaan ini atau peraturan tetap bagi Kongres Nasional parti yang dibuat dibawah kuatkuasanya, maka tafsiran yang diberikan oleh Majlis Pimpinan Pusat (MPP) adalah muktamad’.
“ROS memetik klausa (.2.1) yang tak wujud dalam perlembagaan PKR untuk mengharamkan parti ini,” katanya.
Berhubung pemecatan ‘Rajagopal’, beliau menjelaskan MPP telah membuat keputusan memecat bekas ahli PKR Cabang Alor Setar itu pada 26 April 2009 dan bukannya seperti tarikh yang dinyatakan ROS dalam notis tersebut.
“Ini atas kesalahannya bertanding sebagai calon pilihan raya kecil (PRK) Bukit Selambau tahun lalu tanpa watikah daripada PKR dengan tujuan menentang calon PKR sendiri (yang menyaksikan kemenangan calon PKR S Manikumar).
“Tiada parti didunia ini yang akan memaafkan tindakan sebegitu sehingga akhirnya MPP terpaksa membuat keputusan memecatnya,” katanya.
Jayagopal selepas dipecat daripada PKR telah bertanding dalam PRK Bukit Selambau sebagai calon Bebas, namun tewas dengan hanya mendapat 35 undi (0.14 peratus).
Beliau berkata pemecatan itu juga sahih berdasarkan surat pekeliling yang telah dikeluarkan oleh bekas Setiausaha Agung PKR Datuk
Sallehuddin Hashim pada 11 Mac 2009 kepada seluruh ahli yang menyebut ‘mana-mana ahli bertanding tanpa watikah parti akan dipecat serta merta tanpa merujuk kepada individu itu sendiri’.
Sehubungan itu, Saifuddin berkata pihaknya akan mengemukakan surat jawapan kepada Abdul Rahman hari ini juga.
Beliau dalam surat jawapan itu memberikan tempoh tujuh hari kepada ROS menarik balik notis tersebut serta-merta dan telah merujuk kepada peguam sebagai langkah berjaga-jaga untuk melindungi kepentingan parti dan anggotanya.
Isu disiplin hal dalaman parti

Sementara itu, ahli Biro Politik PKR R Sivarasa berkata isu disiplin adalah hal dalaman parti dan MPP ada hak untuk membuat keputusan secara muktamad.
“Kali pertama dalam sejarah parti politik isu disiplin seorang daripada 500,000 anggota PKR yang berkaitan dengan pemecatan
dibangkitkan ROS untuk dijadikan alasan membatalkan parti.
“Jelas dalam kes in ROS bertindak dengan niat jahat dan bekerjasama dengan Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN),” katanya.
ROS merupakan salah satu jabatan yang terletak dibawah seliaan Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN).
Sementara itu, Naib Presiden PKR Chua Tian Chang berkata, tindakan ini merupakan salah satu ‘serangan bersiri’ BN menyerang PKR sekaligus menunjukkan tanda-tanda tarikh pilihan raya umum semakin hampir.
“Menteri harus memberikan penjelasan sama ada wujudnya cubaan Umno-BN menggunakan agensi kerajaan untuk menindas parti pembangkang terutamanya PKR,” katanya.

Anwar: Umno tool Perkasa an insult

The opposition leader says Umno is using Perkasa to create racial tension, but the movement's boss Ibrahim Ali calls Anwar a “sick man”.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has described Perkasa as an Umno tool to create problems in the country.

With its “racial tirade”, he said, Perkasa was an “insult to the intelligenge of Malaysians”.

“It’s also an Umno ploy to create mischief and racial tension,” he said, condemning both Umno and Perkasa for playing the racial card in a desperate attempt to cling on to power.

Anwar had made the remarks during the “Yahoo! Malaysian Question Time with DSAI”, a chat session between the PKR leader and more than 2,000 people.

His attack on Perkasa drew an immediate response from the movement’s president Ibrahim Ali, who retorted: “Anwar is a sick man who has lots of problems… to me he is a gone case.”

“A person with no morals is the one who insults the intelligence of Malaysians. He talks about truth, justice, racial harmony and many other things but (has) double standard. He is the one who insults people because he lies,” he added.

Ibrahim also denied that Perkasa was linked to Umno, and added that while Anwar could fool his wife and daughter, he cannot hoodwink everyone.

Questions on sodomy, sex video

Anwar’s online chat session proved so popular that it went on for an extra 15 minutes, exceeding the original hour-long allotment.

The opposition leader was quizzed on numerous issues, but the main focus was still his ongoing sodomy trial and the sex video issue.

There were also some light-hearted moments when Anwar was quizzed, among others, on his reading preferences, to which he said the list included Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore and the Quran.

He also revealed that his favourite vacation spot would be the beach, because of its tranquillity.

Anwar also promised that Pakatan Rakyat would remain committed to the agenda for freedom and justice, and reclaim Perak in the next general election.

As for Putrajaya, he said: “Insya’Allah.”

New school an empty election promise

The DPM officiated the ground breaking ceremony, but till today nothing has happened

Petaling Jaya: The Indian community in Merlimau, Malacca want to know if the intention to build a new Tamil school for them was just another election promise.

The deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin even went to the extend of officiating the ground breaking ceremony on Feb 14 just before the Merlimau by-election.

G Rajendran, Malacca PKR vice president said after the by-election, which the BN won, there is no sign of any brick or mortar.

Rajendran said that during the by-election, Muhyiddin and local MIC leaders promised the Indian community that the government will build a new building on a five acre land to replace the old school which has been squatting on someone else’s land for more than 20 years.

“Now, it is already three months. Where is the new building?” he asked.

As an example he cited the Hulu Selangor by-election last year , where BN gave RM 3million to a Chinese school in Rasah, Hulu Selangor just two days after BN won the election.

“So, it is clear that the Education Ministry deliberately delayed this project and has sidelined the Indian community,” he said.

He added, it is learnt that Merlimau Tamil school projects fall under 10th Malaysia Plan(10MP) and the government intends to build all the Tamil schools which fall under 10MP after 2013.

“Obviously, the BN government will use the the same method upcoming general-election,” he said . He said during the by-election the Merlimau Tamil school was a key factor BN used to win over the Indian voters .

“I am sure, MIC once again will force the Merlimau Indians to vote for BN. They will ‘threaten’ the voters, by saying vote BN otherwise the government will not build the new school ,” he added.

Rajendran said he will send a letter to Education ministry and Public Works Department(JKR) asking to clarify the current situation of the school.

He also said that the current structure was not safe as the school in a poor state of repair.

Despite numerous attempt, Malacca MIC chief G Perumal could not be reached for comment.

President’s critic gets show-cause letter

Bagan MIC chief Henry Benedict Aasirvatham is slapped with a show-cause letter for accusing G Palanivel of plotting his deputy's downfall.

PETALING JAYA: MIC leader Henry Benedict Aasirvatham has been slapped with a show-cause letter for making allegations against party president G Palanivel.

“MIC has not learnt its lessons. It is repeating the same mistakes. What I said is the truth and nothing but the truth,” the Bagan MIC chief told FMT.

Aasirvatham was, however, unfazed about the letter or the possibility of being sacked. “In the name of unity, Palanivel will take me back and reinstate my position,” he said, sarcastically.

Contacted later, a source from the MIC headquarters claimed that the show-cause letter was issued because of Aasirvatham’s remarks to FMT early this month.

In that FMT report, he said that Palanivel was bringing back sacked members under the guise of unity but the latter’s real motive was to finish off his deputy S Subramaniam.

“Palanivel knows he is not safe with Subramaniam running around,” he was quoted as saying.

Aasirvatham, who received the show-cause letter yesterday, had 14 days to furnish a reply to the party disciplinary committee.

Prove you’re sincere, faith council tells PM

PM and his administration must distance themselves from Ibrahim Ali, says Rev Thomas Philips.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak must unequivocally distance himself from Perkasa leader Ibrahim Ali to prove that he was sincere in his recent call for moderation in religion, the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said today.

Other members of Najib’s administration must do the same, said the council’s president, Thomas Philips, in response to the Prime Minister’s speech at Oxford University this week and to Ibrahim’s call for a jihad against Malaysian Christians.

“In all religions, not just Islam, there should be moderation,” he said. “Najib should also address the question in Malaysia and carry his message here and not only speak of it on an international stage.”

In his speech at Oxford, Najib said: “In Malaysia, Islam is synonymous with moderation, inclusiveness and good governance.”

He also said: “There is no such thing as a liberal Islam or an extremist Islam, a conservative Islam or an enlightened Islam, a jihadist Islam or an appeasing Islam, a modern Islam or a mediaeval Islam. There is only Islam, a complete way of life. Being moderate cannot in any way be equated to (being) a wimp, unprincipled, weak or appeasing.”

Many observers have noted that this call for moderation sounds insincere considering Putrajaya’s reluctance to come down hard against Ibrahim for his strident remarks against the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia for articles generally considered inflammatory.

Speaking to FMT, Philips said national leaders, especially from Barisan Nasional, should make statements to distance themselves from Ibrahim’s “highly provocative” call for a jihad.

“We want statements from national leaders. We want to know their stand on the matter. Say something to distance themselves so the minority would be reassured. Otherwise, they would be highly sceptical of the government.”

Invitation to talks

Ibrahim accused Christians of questioning Islam’s position as Malaysia’s official religion.

This accusation was based on the Utusan Malaysia report claiming that the DAP-controlled government in Penang, together with Christian leaders, had a meeting to conspire to replace Islam as the official religion and to install a Christian prime minister. The report was based on two blog postings. DAP and Christian leaders have said there was no such conspiracy.

Yesterday, one of the persons who attended the Penang meeting, Transparency International Malaysia president Paul Low, said no such pact was made.

Philips also responded to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz’s comment that statements like Ibrahim’s were now becoming a “norm” in Malaysia.

Nazri had told Malaysiakini that the government would not act against Ibrahim because it was difficult to do so in the age of social media. He said Malaysians would have to be “mature” and “live with” such statements.

Philips said he agreed with Nazri about social media carrying “harsh criticism” on many issues, but said “mature leaders” must nevertheless manage these comments.

He invited the Perkasa chief to meet with Christian leaders to discuss his fears about a Christian takeover of the country, saying that would be more constructive than making provocative statements.

Nationwide probe into native land rights

Suhakam to release findings by June next year.

PETALING JAYA: Suhakam will conduct a nationwide inquiry into the land rights of indigenious people from June to January 2012.

The human rights commission would kick-start its inquiry in Sabah from June 17 to July 5 before moving to Sarawak and the peninsula.

The inqury panel, chaired by Suhakam chairman Hasmy Agam, would also include several independent consultants experienced in issues pertaining to the indigenous people.

“Among others, the panel would review domestic land laws and other related policies in order to ensure their rights are protected under the law.

“It will also address problems plaguing them over claims to their native land,” said Suhakam’s head of public relations Noor Azizah Atdenan.
“We would also like to invite the public to send in written submissions about any issue with regard to native land rights during the course of our inquiry nationwide,” said Azizah.

Jannie Lasimbang, who is the head of the panel committee, said they would travel throughout the country to compile a comprehensive report on the issues plaguing the indigenous community.

“After gathering the data, we will review the land laws and propose policies consistent with international laws to protect the rights of these people,” said Lasimbang.

Lasimbang said Suhakam would release its findings in mid-2012.

“We hope to finish gathering and compiling the data by January next year as we plan to make our recommendations public by June.” she said.

Is PDRM playing politics?

Is it probably because the man in the video is NOT Anwar and that is why the Deputy IGP refuses to confirm this? If it is Anwar tell us. Then we can prepare ourselves for the next stage of developments. If it is not Anwar then it is only fair that we are told.

Raja Petra Kamarudin
One-time federal minister Mokhtar Hashim, who was convicted for murder, said that the most troubling thing for death row prisoners is not knowing when you are going to be executed. And he said this in front of the then IGP, Tun Haniff Omar.
Once the trial is over and you are convicted and sentenced to death, a feeling of peace engulfs you, Mokhtar Hashim said. But then you have to wait years in death row for your turn to come. And when you hear that the next day someone is going to be executed, every prisoner in death row goes into depression because they do not know which one of them is going to be executed the following day.
Mokhtar Hashim added that most prisoners would rather the hanging is done as fast as possible so that they can get it over and done with. I suppose if this had been done then Mokhtar Hashim would have never received his pardon and would not have walked out of the Pudu Prison a free man.
This is probably how many of us feel as well with regards to the ‘Anwar’ porn video issue. It is most perturbing to see the Malaysian Police or PDRM playing politics. Why does the Deputy IGP not want to tell us whether the man in the video is Anwar or not?
Is it probably because the man in the video is NOT Anwar and that is why the Deputy IGP refuses to confirm this? If it is Anwar tell us. Then we can prepare ourselves for the next stage of developments. If it is not Anwar then it is only fair that we are told.
This is not about Anwar. This is about us. We need to know so that we then know what we should do next. I am really not concerned about Anwar’s future. I am concerned about the country’s future. The entire future of the country cannot rest on just one man. And currently with this issue still hanging we just cannot more forward.
My suspicion is that the Deputy IGP refuses to confirm who the man in the video is because it is not Anwar. So he is prolonging our agony just like what Mokhtar Hashim said about those who are waiting many years in death row for their turn to die.
While on the subject of the police playing politics, let me give you another example. The Selangor state government is facing a lot of problems with premises being used for gambling, prostitution, and other vices. The problem is, the local councils can do very little if the police do not act. And in this case the police are not acting so it appears like the Selangor government is in cahoots with the underworld and crime syndicates.
The local councils have no power to arrest anyone. Only the police can do that. And if the police do not then the local councils’ hands are tied.
No doubt the local councils can try to close down those establishments. But the process is cumbersome and those establishments that are closed down just open up in a new place the very next day.
The only way to stop these vice activities is to arrest the people behind them and send them to jail. But only the police can do this. The local councils can just harass the building owners. The building owners, however, are not the ones running the prostitution or gambling dens. So no action can be taken against them.
We need the police to stop playing politics and to start doing something. I suspect the police are purposely doing nothing so that the Selangor state government gets a bad name. And the same goes for the so-called ‘Anwar’ porn video. I am sure that if it is Anwar in that video they could not wait to announce it. It is because it is not Anwar that they are refusing to tell us who the man in that video is.

Lower Food Prices Will Help Asia's Poor

Setting a cheaper table
(Asia Sentinel) The commodity boom is over and rice and other necessities should come down

The news earlier this week that billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros had dumped nearly US$800 million in gold ought to be a signal, if any were needed, that barring major weather disruptions the massive rise in commodity prices that has taken place since mid-2009 is really over.

For the hundreds of millions of people across the world who survive on less than US$2 a day, that should be enormously welcome news, although at the moment prices have more levelled off than fallen steeply, according to the Commodities Research Bureau index. They may well come down more sharply, with economists forecasting a deep correction in commodity prices over the next three months. 

It is good news for several governments in the region, particularly Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, all of which subsidize a variety of commodities. With elections looming in both Thailand and Malaysia, the slowdown in commodity prices means encouraging news for their treasuries and incumbent politicians.

Partly the slowdown is driven by world economic conditions, although the breaking of bubbles, as in gold and silver, has discouraged speculators who are following Soros out the door. 

Quite often, despite explicit evidence, investors will act counter to the best possible course of action for fear of not being part of the ‘group,’ difficulties in admitting their mistakes or because they have led themselves to believe in a certain outcome,” said Sean Darby, chief strategist for Nomura in Hong Kong. “How investors deal with the problem of holding two contradictory beliefs ultimately causes ‘tipping points’ to arise in financial markets. Markets climb a wall of worry, but crumble as the herd changes all at once.”

The big question is whether the spike in crude oil prices, which was the catalyst for the original food shock in 2007, is also over, or whether continuing unrest in the Middle East might drive prices back up.

However, with the Eurozone and the United States still growing feebly, the economy in China, the world’s growth driver since the onset of the global financial crisis, is starting to moderate, with some important indicators flattening out – steel consumption, construction activity, domestic imports and non-energy-related commodities.

That break has followed a long, torrid year. Until March, global food prices increased in eight straight months, with prices of all commodity groups rising except for sugar, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which forecast that “In the face of a growing demand and decline in world cereal production in 2010, global cereal stocks this year are expected to fall sharply.”

That apparently hasn’t happened. In early May, the FAO reported that while global cereal supply and demand remain tight, especially for coarse grains, “production is expected to rise in 2011 as plantings expand, prompted by high prices, and as weather conditions return more to normal.” The FAO expects wheat production to increase by 3.5 percent, replenishing wheat inventories for 2011 and 2012. Rice output is also expected to rise by about 3 percent.

“Food prices may be high, but they are no longer rising – indeed, global agricultural indices have been flat since the beginning of the year and retrenched outright in recent weeks,” wrote Jonathan Anderson, the emerging markets economist for the UBS investment bank. “It is the latter trend that really matters for emerging economies.”  The UBS economics team believes prices will continue to correct sharply over the next three months. 

It could go on longer than three months. It is a question of how much those skyrocketing prices have been driven by nature and global population growth, and how much by the vagaries of the markets. 

Both China and India forecast record grain harvests for the current crop year, with China announcing the eighth straight year of record harvests and India predicting an all-time record that should turn the country into a net exporter.

Global rice production also has been outpacing demand since the 2004-05 crop year, the seventh straight year of surplus production at a time when demand growth for rice has averaged only 1.1 percent annually over the past 10 years. Soybean production is expected to rise by 4.1 percent year on year as well. 

In addition, driven by the rising prices, considerable new agricultural land is expected to come into production in Brazil, the Congo, Sudan, Angola, Columbia, Argentina and Bolivia, according to the FAO. Angola has large resources of fresh water and substantial unused land. Russia and the Ukraine still have 41.3 million hectares and 6.3 million hectares respectively that were taken out of production 20 years ago with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Central Africa, Kazakhstan and Australia all have surplus land for planting.

That doesn’t mean life is going to get much better for the world’s poor right away. Whatever the factors that led to the spike in prices, they have been very real. And prices to the consumer have a habit of sticking stubbornly in place as producers take advantage of falling wholesale prices to fatten their bottom lines.