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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why Do Women in India Become Sex Workers?

Image(Asia Sentinel) They can make more money and live better

Poverty and limited education push females into labor markets at an early age, but the sheer desire for a better income and a better life pushes them into sex work, according to a path-breaking, pan-India survey of sex workers. 

Only about 20 percent of the women surveyed were forced, sold, cheated or otherwise pushed into sex work according to the study, which was conducted in 2009 and only recently released.  Nearly 80 percent of the 3,000 females surveyed in 14 states across the country entered sex work by themselves. The higher incomes and livelihoods they could access weighed significantly in that decision. The harsh fact is that for many women, working conditions are cruel or incomes are disastrously low in other labor markets, the survey categorically revealed. 

 "Sex work as work should be placed in the context of women's choice rather than our own understanding or preferences," said economist Rohini Sahni, who released the preliminary findings of the survey in Mumbai.

In the post-HIV context, hygiene or control of the 'high risk' population dominates surveys of sex workers, but there was no information on the economic aspects of their work, Sahni said. 

Sahni and V. Kalyan Shankar of Pune University's Department of Economics analysed the data emerging from the survey, which was conducted under the aegis of the Centre for Advocacy on Stigma and Marginalisation (CASAM) as part of the Paulo Longo Research Initiative (PLRI) on sex work research. 

The women who participated in this unique survey come from different backgrounds, ages, language, cultures and states as diverse as Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, and so on. More than 35 civil society organizations and individuals fanned out to administer a questionnaire to the sex workers, chosen in areas where they were not collectivized so as to preclude any influence in the responses.

What they found was that poverty and limited education push women into the labor force at early ages and sex workers are no exception. While 60 percent were from rural family backgrounds and 65 percent from poor family backgrounds – 26 percent are of middle class origins. Half of them had no schooling while the educational levels of the others were seven percent (primary schooling up to Class Four), 13.4 percent (secondary schooling up to Class Seven), 6.5 percent (up to Class Ten) and 11.3 percent (up to Class Twelve).

The percentages of those who were forced (7.1), sold (2.8), cheated (9.2) or were 'devadasis' (0.6), as against the 79.4 per cent who said that they entered sex work of their own volition, was an interesting indicator of the 'force' versus 'choice' debate in many discussions on sex work.  

"There is a lot of misinformation on this issue because of our obsession with trafficking. Very few women are forced into sex work but the public narrative is overwhelmingly that of force," said anthropologist Professor Andrea Cornwall of  the University of Sussex, UK, who is part of PLRL, a global network of academics and activists engaged in research on sex work. 

The findings of such a survey would give recognition to the labour of women in sex work as well as start a discourse on their working conditions – a precursor to determining their rights, Prof. Cornwall added.

Of the 3,000 women surveyed, 1,158 said that they had entered sex work directly, 1,488 said they had experience of other labor markets before or alongside sex work, while 326 had other work identities but the sequence of their entry was not known. Sahni, unscrambling the data, revealed that the sex workers listed a range of activities they did before getting into sex work: Puri and papad-making, domestic work, tailoring, working in beauty parlors, doing agricultural labor or construction labor, or peddling anything from bangles to socks to fruit and vegetables.

Asked why they left their earlier occupations, the predominant response was economic: Low pay, no profit in business, no regular work, insufficient money to run the home. The harassment and harsh working conditions they faced as unorganized laborers, coupled with insufficient income, made them consider sex work as a more economically rewarding option, according to Sahni.

Respondents said they made incomes between Rs 500-1,000 per month (US$1=Rs 44) in other labor markets. They revealed that there was an immediate jump when they came into sex work, citing incomes ranging from Rs 1,000-3,000, with a substantial number saying they earned anything between Rs 3,000-5,000.

Interestingly, an examination of the categories of those forced/sold/cheated or involving an element of abuse was roughly similar across those who entered sex work directly and those who entered after working in other labor markets, at 22.1 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively. However, those sold were much higher in the category of direct entrants, and the agents involved in this abuse were husbands, lovers, friends and acquaintances.

Another interesting aspect emerging from the preliminary analysis of the data was that 60.27 percent of women who entered the profession were in the 19-22 age group. While some of them may later go on to work in other labor markets (at 23-26 years of age), the females from other labor markets who enter into sex work do so at 19-22 years, with others in the 23-26 year or 27-30 year age groups.

The survey yielded a rich store of data, but more number crunching and analysis are required to determine trends related to sexuality, abuse, stigma, migration patterns for the female, male and transgender sex workers. But, as Sahni put it, at least some middle ground can be established to address the reality of sex work and demystify simplistic and stereotypical narratives about it.

© Women's Feature Service

Reagan daughter pose nude at age 58

Perkasa receives hate mail

An anonymous letter with mysterious orange powder was sent to Perkasa's office.

KUALA LUMPUR: Perkasa today received a envelope containing a threatening letter and unidentified orange powder.

Perkasa secretary-general, Syed Hassan Syed Ali, said that he noticed the letter when he retrieved the mail from the post box this morning.

The letter was addressed to Perkasa president, Ibrahim Ali, and bore a “NMC Shah Alam” postage mark.

“When I opened the envelope I noticed that the paper inside was stained orange,” he told FMT. “I unfolded the letter and saw that it was packed with orange powder.”

“The letter was a computer printout typed in Bahasa Malaysia by Gerakan Melayu Dinamik. I have never heard of that group before. The contents were verbally abusive and lambasted Perkasa for trying to be a hero to Malays.”

Syed Hassan said that he only managed to read the two-page letter halfway because his fingers touched the powder and started to burn. He lodged a report at the Dang Wangi police headquarters at 4pm today.

“I’m not sure what the power is but my fingers are still burning,” he said. “Whoever wrote that letter harbours uncontrollable rage for Perkasa to resort to something like this. But there were no threats made against any individual.”

“We don’t want to speculate on the culprit. Let the police investigate it. But we’re taking it very seriously and will be extra careful with the mail from now on.”

When asked for his response, Ibrahim issued a terse reply via text message which simply read, “Poisonous powder.”

PSD shatters brilliant student’s dreams

Seremban schoolgirl gets 10A+ and 1A but she is not given a scholarship for medicine, instead she is given a teaching scholarship.
KUALA LUMPUR: She always wanted to be a doctor. P Heamanthaa burned the midnight oil for her SPM exams and her diligence and hard work paid off.

The schoolgirl from SMK Tuanku Jaafar in Seremban scored 10A+ and 1A in SPM. She thought her dream of becoming a doctor was about to be realised. She confidently applied to PSD for a scholarship in medicine.

But with one letter PSD shattered her dreams. She received the letter informing her that she only qualified for the PSD scholarship in Diploma in English at University Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjong Malim.

A stunned Heamanthaa said: “I was saddened and did not sleep the whole night”.
Now she is requesting that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak take a personal interest in her case and grant her a Public Service Department (PSD) overseas scholarship in the medical field.

“Why am I am not qualified for the medical course despite scoring 10A+?” she asked.
Heamanthaa is the eldest in her family. Her father is a health product seller and her mother is a primary school teacher.

She is one of the top students in her school and she represented the state and district levels in hockey and athletics.

She was also among 13 students from Malaysia who participated in women’s football exchange programme held in the United States.

She said she would not continue her studies in Diploma in English if the government rejects her appeal.

Scrap the interview system

Meanwhile Malaysian Indian Student Association (MISA) president Kishur Goonasaran urged the federal government to do away with the PSD interview to choose the students for the merit quotas.
According to Kishur, interviews can lead to discrimination and abuse of power.

“We do not understand why the PSD is still keeping the interview system. They should award all top scorers who meet the government requirement of 8A+ and above .

According to Minister in the PM’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, the total number of scholarships offered are 4,000, of which 1,500 are for overseas and 2,500 for local universities.

From the 1,500 scholarships on offer, 300 are awarded under merit, 900 based on racial composition, 150 to Sabah and Sarawak bumiputeras while the balance of 150 are given to the socially disadvantaged.
Kishur said the government must give first priority to the 700 students who scored 8As.

“So, why has the PSD refused to award the 700 students overseas scholarships? ” he asked.
“A total of 8857 students applied for scholarships. And we do not know how many of them are awarded scholarship?”

In another development MIC leaders held a special meeting at party headquarters today to discuss the scholarship issue. It is learnt that MIC has received more than 400 complaints in the last few days.

Ustaz video clip attacks Chinese, Indians

A religious teacher urges Muslims not to give in to the Chinese and Indians.
VIDEO INSIDE
PETALING JAYA: Even before the dust has settled over the controversial “Christian plot”, a new video clip has surfaced attacking the Chinese and Indians for “questioning Malay rights”.

The video clip features a religious teacher urging Muslims not to betray their own religion by giving in to the Chinese and Indians, who he claimed are beginning to question Islamic and Malay rights.
The clip was uploaded to video-sharing site YouTube on Saturday.

It comes at a time when the country is still seething over the controversial Utusan Malaysia’s report of a “Christian plot” to overthrow Islam as the official religion.

“Today, their races (Chinese and Indians) are questioning ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy)… that’s rubbish… we are the ones who have given them the space to speak. The Malays have been very generous with them. We share the country with them. Give them land. Give them positions. They are not satisfied still?” said Ustaz Mohammad Kazim Elias Al Hafiz in the video titled “Ustaz Kazim Elias kutuk Cina India? (Ustaz Kazim Elias criticises Chinese and Indians?)

“Why is it like this? The answer is simple. Because there are Malays who support them. If they ruled us, they wouldn’t get what we’re giving them now,” said Mohammad Kazim, who is the president of Pusat Pendidiakan Al Barakah, a private learning centre based in Perak.

He urged his audience, believed to be in a mosque, to “return to Islam”, saying that “if we become the minority religion, they won’t build mosques for us”.

‘Temples everywhere’

He said that in foreign countries, religions other than the country’s official religion do not enjoy as much freedom as in Malaysia.

“Look at the temples: the Chinese here are so few but temples everywhere. The Hindu temples are all over the roads. Even then they are not thankful, still need to dispute over it,” he said.

“Look at the Hindus in Malaysia, which Hindus have been stopped from building a temple? Everywhere they build their temples. We have tolerated… them. Don’t let it reach a point where we fight. Don’t reach a point where they step on our heads,” he said.


Mohammad Kazim said that non-Malays were questioning Malay supremacy because they have not tasted how it felt to be slaves.

“You look at the Chinese people: what do they do at night? They loiter around the shops, ignorantly drink alcohol and ignorantly go to the discos,” he said.

On the other hand, he cited the conditions of the navy men who lived in deplorable conditions in warships, saying “all of them are Malays and (followers of) Islam”.
“There are also Malay soldiers who sleep in the forest and guard the seas. Now who actually is the master and who the slave?” he said.

Mohammad Kazim also questioned whether the non-Malays were willing to be soldiers and police.
“Look at the police: how many percentage of them are Chinese? Those who patrol at night, take the risk of being shot, killed, not sleeping at night. Who are they? Are they not Malays? What do the taukeh (bosses), the Chinese, do? Who are the people in the fire department, the people who wash the toilets and takes the trash?”

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to5w7r_WxTk

Estate folk allege ‘official vandalism’

Bukit Jalil residents claim that City Hall officers and policemen tore their banners and broke their chairs.
KUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Jalil Estate residents have accused police and City Hall officers of thuggish behaviour in their neighbourhood today.

They went into the area at 10.30 this morning and proceeded to commit acts of vandalism despite a court injunction against demolition works there, according to K Balakrishnan, an official of the committee representing the residents.

He has lodged a report with the Bukit Jalil police station.

He said the intruders numbered about 30. Some 20 of them were officers of Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) and the rest policemen, he added.
“They came and tore the banners at the entrance to our estate. They also entered our guard post and broke our chairs.”

Several estate residents who were at the guard post reminded the officers that there was an injunction against City Hall, but they brushed them off rudely, calling them squatters, Balakrishnan said.

He said he arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and told them they could not demolish anything in the area or evict anyone because the matter was with the courts.

“A police officer named Chandraratna asked for our MyKads. We refused to show our cards and told him that we have an injunction against DBKL,” he said.
“When I tried to show the injunction letter, he refused to see it and walked away.”

The officers left the scene at about noon.
Balakrishnan, who is also Hindraf Makkal Sakthi national coordinator, criticised the policemen for working in cahoots with City Hall to evict the residents.

“If there’s no action against these errant officers, we will approach Bukit Aman for assistance,” he said.
The 41 families residing at the estate obtained an ex-parte interim injunction from the Court of Appeal on May 13 to stop DBKL from demolishing their homes.

Their lawyers filed an appeal after the High Court rejected their application for an injunction pending a trial scheduled for October.

Perkasa: Scrap scholarships for basic degree courses abroad

Ibrahim Ali says funding should instead be given to post-graduate students in fields not available locally.

PETALING JAYA: Malay extremist group, Perkasa, wants the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships for overseas first-degree programmes scrapped.

Its chief, Ibrahim Ali, said: “The cost of funding a student overseas is equivalent to funding two to three students locally. Overseas scholarships should be given for post-graduates studies in disciplines that are not available locally.”

“That’s why Perkasa is proposing that scholarships for overseas first-degree programmes be scrapped,” he added.

Ibrahim also urged the PSD not to give in to BN component parties MCA and MIC in disbursing scholarships.

“It is a government matter. MCA and MIC must not disrupt the PSD. Umno and its Youth wing never disturbed the PSD though many Bumiputera students failed to secure scholarships.”

Ibrahim also took Deputy Education Minister and MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong to task for saying Chinese support for BN has eroded due to government’s failure to provide scholarships.

“What about the Malays who fail to get scholarships?” asked Ibrahim.

“As far as I know, Malays who failed to obtain scholarships still support the government. But for some races, they are not supportive even when they are given scholarships. Similarly, the shift in support for MIC is also small,” Ibrahim said.

Political mileage

The perennial controversy over the award of PSD scholarships resurfaced last week when Wee claimed that 363 straight A+ students failed to get scholarships this year.

This is despite the pledge recently made by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that all students scoring 8A+ and above will receive the PSD scholarships.

Yesterday, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz defended the PSD and took Wee to task for claiming there was abuse of power in the award of government scholarships.

He said Wee was using the issue to gain political mileage and challenged Wee to furnish proof of his claims.

The PSD scholarships fall under two primary categories: the overseas degree programme for 1,500 selected students and the local degree programme for 2,500 applicants.

Blog Hina Islam, Perkasa tampil lapor polis

Entri blog itu dikesan pada Isnin lalu dengan menggunakan nama Makcik Hajjah Sitt Al-Wuzara.
PETALING JAYA: Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) akan membuat laporan polis berhubung satu entri blog yang didakwa menghina agama Islam dengan memaparkan gambar seekor jerung di atas Kaabah selain menggunakan kata-kata yang menghina agama tersebut.

Entri blog itu dikesan pada Isnin lalu dengan menggunakan nama Makcik Hajjah Sitt Al-Wuzara atau http://makcikhajjahsittalwuzara99.wordpress.com.
Malah sebuah akaun laman sosial Facebook turut dikesan menggunakan profil ‘Makcik Hajjah Sitt Al-Wuzara’.

Ketika dihubungi FMT, Ketua Wira Perkasa Irwan Fahmi berkata laporan akan dibuat di Ibu Pejabat Polis Dang Wangi (IPD), Kuala Lumpur jam 3.30 petang ini. Laporan polis itu dijangka telah dibuat apabila berita ini ditulis.

Menurut Irwan, beliau dan Presiden Perkasa Datuk Ibrahim Ali telah membaca entri blog terbabit dan menyifatkan ia satu tindakan yang tidak bermoral dengan menghina Islam yang merupakan agama rasmi negara ini.

Irwan berkata laporan itu untuk mendesak pihak polis dan Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) untuk menyiasat lebih lanjut dan mengambil tindakan sewajarnya terhadap pemilik atau jurublog tersebut.

“Ia satu penghinaan yang sangat kurang ajar dan melampau batasan. Saya minta orang yang bertanggungjawab hormati agama Islam.Maka kami mahu desak pihak polis untuk membuat siasatan lanjut. Kalau boleh letak orang yang terbabit dalam ISA…..kerana tiada toleransi bila membabitkan hal agama.
“Kita perlu tegas kerana ia soal agama. Bagaimana jika perkara ini berlaku kepada agama lain?,” soalnya.


Irwan berkata selain entri blog itu, Perkasa turut membuat laporan berhubung tindakan Timbalan Menteri Pelajaran Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong yang memprotes ekoran dakwaan berlakunya salah urus dalam pengagihan biassiswa oleh pegawai Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA).

Masalah biasiswa

Semuanya tercetus apabila timbul dakwaan bahawa 363 pelajar yang memperoleh kesemua A+ gagal memperoleh biasiswa daripada JPA.
Menurut Irwan tindakan memprotes itu tidak wajar memandangkan ia adalah satu keputusan kabinet.

“MCA jangan mahu kaitkan keputusan kabinet dengan nyatakan baru-baru ini bahawa pemuda MCA tidak akan bersama kerajaan lagi. Saya mahu tanya masa pilihan raya umum lalu MCA menang banyakkah? Maka saya minta MCA jangan ganggu apa yang sudah diputuskan biar JPA laksanakan tugas,”katanya.

Sehubungan dengan itu, menurut Irwan Perkasa menyokong penuh kenyataan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz bahawa kerajaan sedia memberi 12,000 biasiswa untuk membantu pelajar menamatkan ijazah pertama, sekaligus mengetepikan dakwaan Wee itu.

WikiLeaks: How Najib overcame the Kartika dilemma

US diplomats stated in their confidential cable that the caning of three Muslim women for illicit sex in 2010 reflected Umno's political tactics.

KUALA LUMPUR: The caning of three Muslim women in 2010 under the syariah law for committing adultery was a tactical manoeuvre undertaken by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s new administration to retain the conservative Malay voters, Malaysia-based US diplomats believed.

They also felt that the caning of the three women was perhaps an attempt by Najib and his party Umno to test the waters to forecast the sentiments on part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno’s caning for beer-drinking.

Kartika was found guilty by a Pahang Syariah Court in July 2009 of drinking beer at a hotel in Kuantan and was sentenced to six strokes of rotan and a fine of RM5,000.

The court’s finding to cane her attacted wide attention, both from within and internationally, and the ruling had taken place just a year after Najib had become the prime minister. While her caning was pending for months for various reasons, the three women were caned in February 2010.

“Kartika’s case put Prime Minister Najib’s new administration in the difficult position of balancing the competing forces fighting for Malaysia’s Muslim identity.

“While concerned about preserving Malaysia’s image as a moderate Muslim state, Najib has been unwilling to date to criticise syariah law or otherwise downplay the seriousness of Kartika’s offence for fear that it could damage Umno’s Islamic bona fides,” wrote a senior political officer based in the US embassy here in a confidential cable to the US State Department in Washington.

Details of the confidential cable sent in 2010 were leaked by WikiLeaks to popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin who had published the cable in his Malaysia Today website today.

“That the GOM (government of Malaysia) chose to cane three anonymous women, rather than the internationally renowned Kartika, seems to be a tactical manoeuvre by Umno to retain or lure back conservative Malay voters as well as perhaps a testing of the waters presaging Kartika’s caning.

“That Najib feels the need to placate the most conservative Malays suggests that his stated intent to change to a more inclusive, less Malay-centric economic and political model is facing considerable, resistance within his own coalition,” added the cable.

The cable must have been sent to the State Department immediately after the caning of the three women on Feb 9, 2010 as it makes no mention of the eventual outcome of Kartika’s case. Following the intervention of the Sultan of Pahang, Kartika’s caning sentence was eventually commuted to 20-day community service in April 2010.

The three women were sentenced to be caned for committing adultery in violation of Section 23 (2) of the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Offences Act of 1997.

Hisham the Islamic cleric

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussien had announced on Feb 17, 2010, that government officials had caned three Muslims on Feb 9, 2010. The three women were believed to be the first women to be caned under the law in Malaysia.

Two of the women received six strokes of the cane and the other received four. The women were caned in a female prison.

The US cable noted that the sentencing of women to such corporal punishment under syariah law contradicts the federal law outlined in Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code that states that women are not to be subject to caning.

“In the current case, the three women, previously unknown to the public, were caned and the public was not informed for over a week.

“The canings were administered by federal prison officials in a federal women’s prison. This gives rise to a possible violation of federal law that the GOM has yet to explain or address,” added the cable.

The US cable also said that federal government was clearly playing a role in meting out a syariah punishment, with Hishammuddin “sounding like an Islamic cleric” in justifying the caning on the three women.

“The federal government has highlighted its role in meting out these sentences, indicating that the decision had Najib’s support.

“Hishammuddin placed himself at the forefront of this issue, announcing on Feb 17 that the women had been caned, commenting that ‘the punishment is to teach and give a chance to those who have fallen off the path to return and build a better life for the future,’ sounding much like an Islamic cleric,” said the cable.

The US diplomats noted in the cable that Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also failed to address the legal issue surrounding the caning of the three women, and had instead focused “on the need to explain that syariah caning is ritualistic rather than severe”.

The cable further pointed out that the federal government’s role in caning the Muslim women was also evident in a statement issued by minister in charge of religious affairs Jamil Khir Baharom who had reportedly said that the women were remorseful and “welcomed their sentence”.

Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Jalil was also reported to have said: “As the minister in charge of women affairs in this country, I really hope that the whipping sentence on Muslim women will be carried out fairly and judiciously.”

Islam as a tool of Umno's political game



In the current case, the three women, previously unknown to the public, were caned and the public was not informed for over a week.  The canings were administered by federal prison officials in a federal women's prison.  This gives rise to a possible violation of federal law that the GOM has yet to explain or address.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUALA LUMPUR 000108
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2020
TAGS: KTIP, KCRM, KWMN, PGOV, PHUM, PREL, SMIG, MY
SUBJECT: CANING OF THREE WOMEN REFLECTS UMNO'S POLITICAL TACTICS

REF: A. KL 20 WHAT IS GOING ON IN MALAYSIA?
     B. KL 14 UPDATE ON THE ALLAH ISSUE
     C. KL 11 OVERNIGHT ATTACKS ON 3 CHURCHES
     D. KL 03 GOM APPEALS KL HIGH COURT RULING ON USE OF THE WORD ALLAH
     E. 09 KL 716 CANING PUNISHMENT POSTPONED

Classified By: Political Counselor Brian McFeeters for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

--- SUMMARY AND COMMENT ---
1. (SBU) Summary: On February 17, Home Minister Hishammuddin announced that three women and four men who had been found guilty of illicit sex under Syariah law had been caned on February 9.  The three became the first women to be caned in Malaysia. 
Caning of women in Malaysia had recently become the subject of international scrutiny, and Malaysian legal scholars are wondering what the decision means for the legal system, since caning of women is against federal law. 
On July 20, 2009, Malaysian Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a Muslim woman, was sentenced by a state-level Syariah court to six lashes with a cane and a fine for consuming alcohol in public.  To date, Kartika has not yet been caned.  Viewing the caning as a political maneuver, the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) was critical of the GOM's actions contending they were not consistent with Islam.  NGOs too were critical of the caning contending that it does not comport with federal law.  End Summary.
2. (C) Comment:  Kartika's case put Prime Minister Najib's new administration in the difficult position of balancing the competing forces fighting for Malaysia's Muslim identity. While concerned about preserving Malaysia's image as a moderate Muslim State, Najib has been unwilling to date to criticize Syariah law or otherwise downplay the seriousness of Kartika's offense for fear that it could damage United Malays National Organization's (UMNO) Islamic bona fides.
That the GOM chose to cane three anonymous women, rather than the internationally renowned Kartika, seems to be a tactical maneuver by UMNO to retain or lure back conservative Malay voters as well as perhaps a testing of the waters presaging Kartika's caning.  That Najib feels the need to placate the most conservative Malays suggests that his stated intent to change to a more inclusive, less Malay-centric economic and political model is facing considerable, resistance within his own coalition.  End Comment.
--- FIRST WOMEN CANED IN MALAYSIA ---
3. (SBU) Home Minister Hishammuddin announced on February 17 that GOM officials caned four Muslim men and three Muslim women found guilty of illicit sex under Syariah law.  Sex out of wedlock is unlawful under Syariah law.  The canings took place on February 9, and the three women are believed to be the first women to be caned under the law in Malaysia. 
Two of the women received six strokes of the cane and the other received four.  The women were caned in a female prison.
According to the Home Minister, one was released on February 14, one will be released in the coming days, and the third will be released in June.
--- MALAYSIA'S DUAL LEGAL SYSTEM ---
4. (SBU) Article 3 of the Malaysian Constitution states that "Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation."  Article 3 further provides that issues of Islamic law are state, rather than federal, matters.  Thus, states, and the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory, have individual Syariah law codes and have established Syariah courts, with jurisdiction over Muslims, to deal with family law and certain infractions under Islamic law. 
The constitution makes clear that federal law has precedence over state law (articles 4 and 75, "if any State law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail and the State law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void").  Hence, because Syariah law is a state matter, any inconsistencies between these two legal systems should, according to the language of the Federal Constitution, be resolved in favor of the federal system.
However, Article 121(1A) of the Constitution, added under former Prime Minister Mahathir in 1988 says, "the courts referred to in Clause (1) (the High Courts) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts."  This amendment introduced ambiguity about Syariah versus civil law that has yet to be resolved clearly.
--- CANING IN MALAYSIA ---
5. (SBU) Under federal law, Malaysian judges routinely include caning in sentences of individuals convicted of kidnapping, rape, and robbery.  The law also prescribes caning for illegal immigrants and their employers and as an additional punishment for those convicted of some nonviolent crimes such as narcotics possession, criminal breach of trust, and alien smuggling. 
The caning is carried out with a half-inch wooden cane that can cause welts and scarring. Federal law exempts men over 50 and all women from caning. Conversely, some states prescribe caning under Syariah law, for which there are no exceptions for women. 
In Syariah caning, a smaller cane is used and the caning official cannot raise the cane above his shoulder.  Additionally, the subject is fully clothed so that the cane will not touch the flesh.
Local Islamic officials claim that the intent is not to injure but to make the offenders ashamed of their sins and repent.
--- THE CURIOUS ROLE OF THE GOM IN CANING THREE WOMEN ---
6. (C) In the February 9 case, the three women were sentenced to caning for committing adultery in violation of Section 23(2) of the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Offenses Act of 1997.  The sentencing of women to such corporal punishment under Syariah law contradicts the federal law outlined in Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code that states that women are not to be subject to caning. 
In the current case, the three women, previously unknown to the public, were caned and the public was not informed for over a week.  The canings were administered by federal prison officials in a federal women's prison.  This gives rise to a possible violation of federal law that the GOM has yet to explain or address.
7. (SBU) The federal government has highlighted its role in meting out these sentences, indicating that the decision had Najib's support.  Home Minister Hishamuddin (Prime Minister Najib Razak's cousin) placed himself at the forefront of this issue, announcing on February 17 that the women had been caned, commenting that "the punishment is to teach and give a chance to those who have fallen off the path to return and build a better life for the future," sounding much like an Islamic cleric. 
In a February 19 interview, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin did not address the legal issue, focusing instead on the need to explain that Syariah caning is ritualistic rather than severe.  The government-influenced daily, Bernama, on February 19, quoted Minister for Religious Affairs in the Prime Minister's Department Seri Jamil Khir Baharom as saying that the women were remorseful and "welcomed their sentence." 
In a separate article, Bernama reported that Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development Shahrizat, said that her Ministry will monitor future caning of women noting that "as the minister in charge of women affairs in this country, I really hope that the whipping sentence on Muslim women will be carried out fairly and judiciously."
--- REACTION FROM PAS ---
8. (SBU) When the canings were announced, some observers wondered whether the punishments could be seen as an effort to divide the opposition coalition People's Assembly, expecting PAS to support the punishments, while the secular Democratic Action Party (DAP) would likely oppose the canings. However, PAS Central Working Committee Member and Member of Parliament Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad of Selangor urged his party not to fall into the trap of allowing UMNO to portray itself as the defender of the Islamic agenda. 
He asserted that there is a political motive behind the caning of the three women.  If UMNO were sincere about upholding the principles of Islam, it would address the source of problem rather than just implementing the sentence and would be combating corruption, abuse of power, cruelty, and embezzlement of the wealth of the country by political cronies.
9. (SBU) PAS Women's Movement Chief Nuridah Salleh asserted that the GOM's caning of the seven individuals did not conform to Islamic principles because it was done in private and not in the open as required by Islam.  She explained that canings are to be public in order to educate and instill awareness among the people and to ensure the violators do not commit the crime again.  She called on the Home Minister to remember this intent prior to carrying out future caning sentences.
--- REACTION FROM CIVIL SOCIETY ---
10. (SBU) Civil society groups have condemned the GOM caning of the women.  The Malaysian Bar Council, on February 18, issued a press release expressing its "shock and disappointment" and elaborating, "given that the Kartika issue remains unresolved and the public outcry on issues of constitutionality in regards to the fact that corporal punishment is forbidden for women under Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is indeed shocking that the Government has made the announcement only after the punishment has been carried out."
Similarly, Sisters in Islam questioned the GOM's motive behind caning the Muslim women while the issue of Kartika's case remains unresolved. All Women's Action Society president Sophia Lim asserted that "the Home Minister needs to explain why the government allowed the punishment to be carried out in secret on an issue that is of high public interest with very far ranging and damaging consequences."
KEITH

Talking Malay on false premises

Sakmongkol AK47

MAY 25 — Let us demolish one pet belief of Umno people and those who think they speak for Umno. It’s time for the real Malay to speak for the Malay. Where have the real Malays gone?

How can we force ourselves to suffer fools by allowing ourselves to consume the hate spewing writings of some bloggers whose Malay-ness are questionable? Why isn’t the peddler of rancid curry speaking on behalf and for Kimma members? He looks more kitol-ish that the person he castigates as Kitol. Why isn’t the gold nugget seller doing the same? We thank you but no thanks.

Jadi jadi lah kita orang Melayu kena tipu.

I find myself in strange territory listening to people like Reezal Merican, or Azeez speak for the Malays. I would have thought, Malays are better off if these people speak on behalf of KIMMA. I think Malays have got enough talented people to speak for ourselves.

Then we have those who pretend they speak for Umno but are themselves not Umno members. Can they have the same thinking dynamics of an Umno member? And I am not even differentiating between good and bad thinking- just undifferentiated Umno thinking. Why is this important?

It’s important because then, what we say can be leavened with realistic assessment. Then we can appreciate the Umno spirit.

Without the Umno spirit, what you write is mechanical.

The real Umno man wouldn’t speak of an imagined clash of Christians and Muslims or spun the story about Christians taking over this country. I think Malays are already suffering from an overdose of ghost stories and will NOT want to add to their consumption , manufactured tales about DAP becoming PM or Christians taking over this country.

Does a Malay cease to be a Malay if he is not Umno member? Being Umno is not an absolute requirement to fight for a Malay cause. Even being Malay is not an absolute guarantee that Malay interests are taken care of. Both require the right Malay with the right values and the Umno Malay with the right values.

Consider the record before us. From the day we got independence, most of our MBs are Malays. The top bosses in the Police and the army are Malays. The KSUs and TKSUs are almost invariably Malays. The top government officers are Malays. All the District officers are. All penghulus are Malays. All the Kings? All are Malays.

Now, one would be justified into assuming that given the fact that almost all the important office bearers are Malays and the governmental institutions we have are peopled by Malays, the lot of the Malays would be greatly improved or would have been vastly improved. Wouldn’t it?

Well, in terms of control of the economy, Malay economic interest is just about 20 per cent. That’s 20 per cent of the overall wealth being shared by 65 per cent of the population.

We would further imagine that Malays would own more land in this country. We would also imagine that Malays owned better housing. Their education would be of higher standard.

With Malays in power, there would have been more rich Malays than rich non Malays. Yet in the top 20 richest in Malaysia, you would find probably one fellow. In the top 40, you start getting more Malays but you also get more non Malays.

So what conclusion can you deduce from these observations? The only valid and justifiable conclusion, is having Malays up there does not readily translate into Malay prominence in any of the fields we mentioned. It follows from here, that positioning Malays in strategic offices is not necessarily beneficial and advantageous to Malays.

The other conclusion is those Malays in power have not helped other Malays. So if Umno insists that Umno is Malay and Malay in Umno, then by extension, Malays in power do not help the rest of Malays will also mean, Umno in power does not help the rest of the Malays.

Umno people must be realistic on this. One doesn’t stop becoming Malay if one dismisses Umno. People are already doing that if you still don’t realize it. 1.5 million Umno members protested by not voting in Umno candidates. That should be interpreted as a rejection of not merely the candidates but perhaps more so of the policies and vision that Umno projects. 1.5 million members didn’t share in the vision of Umno. 3.7 million Malay (including the 1.5 million) voters didn’t subscribe to the Umno ideals peddled by Umno leaders.

Yet the leadership is hyping themselves, aided by a pliant audio visual and print media into believing all is well. Ignorance is really bliss. — sakmongkol.blogspot.com

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. He was Pulau Manis assemblyman (2004-2008).

52 Families In Taman Sri Gombak Worry About Soil Erosion

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 (Bernama) -- Fifty-two families in Taman Sri Gombak are worried about soil erosion on a hillslope taking place only about 30 metres away from their housing area.

A resident, Yusri Kamaruddin, 40, said the soil erosion occurred little by little since the end of 2009.

"However, at about 7 tonight, the erosion worsened and could also affect the TNB sub-station located near the houses on higher ground.

"Since a month ago if there's heavy rain we would hear sounds like landslips occurring in the area," he told reporters.

He said if the soil erosion worsened and the electricity sub-station gave way, it could endanger the occupants of about 20 houses in Kampung Sungai Cincin at the foothill.

Seven members of the Civil Defence Department and police were at the scene to monitor the situation.

4-hr wait for body in van outside hospital

The body of Mohamad Johari Abu Bakar who was shot on 13 May had to wait for four hours in a parked van before University Malaya Medical Centre finally accepted it late this evening. 
 
“Complete insensitivity,” said an irate Latheefa Koya over the phone just now. “I am shocked,” the lawyer added of the hospital’s delay in accepting the body for a second post-mortem despite a court order obtained this morning. See Star report here.

The boy’s mother Salmah had filed the application after her son was shot by the police behind a budget hotel in Cyber Valley Commercial Centre on 13 May.

The court order was obtained at around 9.00 or 10.00 this morning. The body was released by the Serdang Hospital at around 2.00pm. The van carrying the body arrived at University Hospital at around 3.00pm and the body was finally accepted at 7.00pm.

“I asked the family to take a last look (when the body was finally accepted) and they were very disturbed,” said Latheefa. “The face had ‘melted’ and there was a strong stench.”

She said she had earlier spoken to a top official at the hospital, pointing out the urgency and the fact the family had obtained a court order. But the official responded the hospital had to follow proper procedure.
Meanwhile, the body was left in the unrefridgerated van for four hours.