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Friday, May 27, 2011

New airstrikes pound Libya's capital

(CNN) -- Another night of NATO airstrikes on the Libyan capital began late Thursday, with a tribal site near central Tripoli the target of the latest attacks, a Libyan official said.

Smoke billows behind the trees following an air raid on Tajura, about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) east of Tripoli on Tuesday.Five explosions, most large enough to shake buildings some distance away, struck Tripoli shortly before 11:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. ET). The Libyan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the target was the tribal compound at Bab Al-Azizya, about 2 kilometers (1.3 miles) from the center of Tripoli.
CNN could not independently confirm the report.

The site is a former military base now used to welcome tribal visitors to Tripoli, offering them guest houses during their stay, the official said. It has been used as a center for people volunteering to support Libyan authorities since the revolt against longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi erupted in February.

NATO began bombing Libya on March 31, under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians during the fighting between government forces and rebels who have seized most of eastern Libya.

NATO member Spain said Thursday that Libya had sent a message to Madrid and other European capitals, listing "a series of proposals that could lead to a cease-fire," but the allies have so far rebuffed earlier Libyan proposals for an end to the fighting.

Muslim divorces hit all-time high in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Muslim couples get divorced every 15 minutes in Malaysia, a startling number that has the government worried, the Singapore Straits Times reported today.

The latest statistics from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) showed there were 27,116 divorces in 2009, up from 17,749 in 2005.

The paper said divorce rates among Muslims are now at an all-time high, making up about 82 per cent of total divorces in Malaysia, though Malay Muslims comprise 60 per cent of the population.

Divorce cases among well-known Malays often make headlines. Last year, popular actress Maya Karin (picture) announced she and her British husband Steven Shorthose were divorcing after just two years. Earlier this month, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, son of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, divorced his wife of 19 years, Shahnaz Majid, due to irreconcilable differences. Shahnaz is seeking an eye-popping RM400 million in the divorce.

Jakim said irreconcilable differences — which it defined as “disrespectful towards spouse, communication problems, selfishness, laziness, unwilling to help and psychological issues” — were one of the top factors for Muslim divorces.

The department provided a laundry list of other reasons including irresponsible spouses, health, sexual, social and financial problems, third-party interference, religious background and cultural differences.
However, it did not break out polygamy as a factor — Muslim men are allowed four wives — though such issues could fall under third-party interference or irresponsible spouses.

The Straits Times also reported that the government blames the rising divorce rate on neglect of Islamic teachings. “If they can’t even perform their five daily prayers, imagine how hard it is for them to carry out their duties and roles as husband and wife,” it quoted Datuk Mashitah Ibrahim, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, as saying last month.

Those who have gone through divorce, however, blame the breakdown of their marriages on the strains of modern life.

“There isn’t any effective communication between spouses, especially when both are working and have children,” it quoted a 40-year-old advertising director, who is divorcing her unfaithful husband after 15 years of marriage, as saying. “They are busy with their own lives and their children’s lives.”

A 37-year-old business planning manager said his wife asked for a divorce after nine years because he was “too busy with work”. They also found it “tough” to live in Kuala Lumpur on his RM5,000 monthly salary, the Straits Times reported him as saying.

The newspaper also said younger couples appear at greater risk of divorce. In 2009, the most recent numbers available, separations were common among couples aged between 25 and 30 in Terengganu. The reasons they gave included body odour, humdrum sex and boring sleepwear.

It reported syariah lawyer Halimatunsa’diah Abu Ahmad as saying that many couples, particularly younger ones, do not understand each other’s obligations. “They are spoon-fed and expect to be rewarded all the time,” she said. “They expect people to do everything for them.”

The Facebook social networking site is a common cause of break-ups, she noted: “For every five divorce cases I see, two or three will have been caused by Facebook. That is where they rekindle their old relationships with their first girlfriend or boyfriend,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

The Straits Times said Jakim is planning a campaign to create more awareness on the roles of spouses, parenting skills, family education and how to handle finances. Troubled couples may also seek counselling from state religious departments. Muslim couples already go through three-day pre-marriage courses.
But some feel the new campaign will not do much. The 40-year-old art director said: “Any initiative by the government in the form of education has many advantages. But I don’t think it has anything to do with religion or faith per se. It’s a society problem.”

Truth buried in the printed pages

The mainstream newspapers are the voice of their political masters and this has seen the growth of the alternative media.
Not so long ago “don’t believe all that you read in the newspaper” was said in jest. Now, unfortunately there is a ring of truth to this statement.
Ask just about anyone what they think about the mainstream media and chances are you will get a look of disgust. The mainstream media is owned by political parties and their glossed-over news coverage has given rise to the alternative media.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) has a stake in all the country’s premier’ newspapers such as New Straits Times (NST), The Star, Utusan Malaysia, Tamil Nesan and Sin Chiew Jit Poh through its investment companies
The Utusan Melayu Group is owned by Umno and publishes three Malay language dailies.
The major English newspapers, The Star and New Straits Times, are also owned by the political parties. The Star is owned by the MCA while NST is owned by Umno. Besides The Star, MCA also controls four other dailies – Sin Chew Jit Poh, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press and Guang Ming Daily.
Private interests aligned with the MIC control Tamil newspapers such as Makkal Osai and Tamil Nesan.
Under such tight leash, the mainstream media are left with no space to engage in a fair and free reporting. They end up parroting all that the government of the day says.
Take, for example, the incident in 1995 where an investigative team from The Sun newspaper investigated the circumstances leading to the deaths of 59 detainees, mostly Bangladeshis, in an illegal immigration detention camp. These detainees died of beri-beri, a symptom of malnutrition and typhoid, which is easily preventable.
The team’s report stating that it was a case of criminal neglect on the part of the police who ran the camp was spiked hours before it went to print.
Bias reporting continues

More recently, the lopsided reporting by the mainstream media was evident during Sarawak’s April 16 state election. The NST had nothing but only “nice” things to report about BN, including why the people should dismiss the opposition alliance of Pakatan Rakyat.
But what the NST did is nothing new. Be it the by-elections or general election, these mainstream newspapers do a good job of serving their political masters and betraying the trust of their readers.
The NST is not the only culprit. The government-owned Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) channels have long forgotten the importance of reporting without fear or favour.
RTM1’s Berita Wilayah aired at 5pm daily is a classic example of how reporting is manipulated by the “powers that be”. The one-hour news has all things good to say about the BN government’s “remarkable” job in serving the people when the truth really is otherwise.
Likewise, the television stations including those owned by Media Prima do not have the guts to report the truth. At best, they do a fantastic job of glossing over BN and condemning the opposition parties.
Media Prima Bhd, by the way, is a subsidiary media corporation that controls several television networks, newspapers, and radio stations and is linked to Umno.
Media Prima also controls English newspapers such as NST and Malay Mail, as well as Malay papers like Berita Harian.
Just as bad is the national news agency, Bernama, which has trespassed all sense of accountability it has to the public by manipulating the truth. Because of this, the government propaganda organ has to work very hard to earn its long-lost respect from the public.
The business of restoring public trust has been taken over by the online media which has gone on to reveal all the dirt previously swept under the carpet by the mainstream media.
Mainstream media vs credibility
The biggest culprit that keeps harming racial unity among Malaysians is none other than Utusan Malaysia.
On May 7, the newspaper published a front-page report alleging that Christianity was moving in to replace Islam as the official religion. The article which relied solely on postings by bloggers is akin to adding salt to injury, causing great unrest among the people with its false reporting.
Clearly, the Utusan management has taken the “tabloid” approach, sensationalising issues for the sake of selling its no-longer saleable newspaper.
Prior to this, Utusan Malaysia made a call for 1Melayu, 1Bumi which caused a furore among the non-Malays. When pressured on the matter, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak feigned ignorance on the gravity of the issue, saying the article was the personal opinion of the writer.
On April 20, Utusan Malaysia assistant editor-in-chief Zaini Hassan wrote in his column “Cuit” that the Malay community and the non-governmental organisations can only unite if they come together under the “1Melayu, 1Bumi” banner.
Zaini’s writing bases its logic on DAP’s success in uniting the Chinese when the party won 12 out of 15 seats it contested in the Sarawak state election on April 16.
However, the “1Melayu, 1Bumi” concept Zaini writes of will further wear out the spirit of muhibbah between Malaysians of different races. Does Zaini know something the rest of the Malaysians do not, where unity is concerned?
What then about Najib’s 1Malaysia propaganda? Does Utusan Malaysia have no faith in it? Or does Najib care less if Utusan keeps spinning the racism wheel.
Respect readers feelings
If Utusan Malaysia finds it advantageous to play the racial game, the NST, on the other hand, places little discretion on the headings used to describe a story. Its recent report dated April 18 stated “Besut boot camp for 66 sissies”.
Could the report not have relied on the term “effeminate” instead of “sissies” knowing fully well the deep-rooted prejudice society has against these people?
By using the term “sissies”, the newspaper concerned has only made matters worse, affirming public perception that such boys need “help”.
Is this newspaper not guilty of perpetuating the stigma and prejudice faced by the marginalised communities when its choice of word only serves to discriminate instead of create awareness?
The scenario seems to be that the mainstream media is devoid of compassion when touching on issues concerning marginalised communities. No thought is given to the choice of words used so long as it catches the readers’ attention.
Instead of educating the readers, the mainstream media has for a long time been denying them their right to know the truth. In fact, they have abdicated their responsibilty to tell the truth.

Too many top scorers, not enough scholarships

'Perhaps the major problem is not there are too few scholarships, but too many applicants from an examination that have too many top scorers.'

High achiever's PSD scholarship dreams dashed

Wfworker: While I sympathise with parents with 'brilliant' children, I like to relate two incidents regarding my friends' children.

One parent expressed her surprise over her son's achievement of 5As at the recent SPM examination. The reason being that he had failed in all his subjects at the school trial examination.
Another mother had been complaining that the son was performing equally bad during the school's trial but his result was 9As.

Hence, my apprehension for the nation when As are just churned out by the examination board. Surely the school teachers can't be setting that much higher standard than the syllabus demanded.

Hann Wei Toh: I checked the Singapore PSC (Public Service Commission) scholarship website - it looks like it gives about 90 scholarships every year. I suppose O Level candidates are not eligible.

The Malaysian PSD (Public Service Department) gives about 300 merit-based scholarship to SPM/O Level holders every year, plus several hundred that takes income and other factors into account.
The numbers seem comparable based on the population sizes, though the latter have lower requirements (SPM/O Levels, instead of A Levels).

Perhaps the major problem is not there are too few scholarships, but too many applicants from an examination that has too many top scorers.

Bangsamalaysia: My son scored perfect 10As out of the 10 subjects he sat for. He also played for Malaysia in the junior world cup for his chosen sport.
He wanted to study medicine overseas under a PSD scholarship. He was rejected with no alternative offers. There was no explanation given.

I took the case to S Samy Vellu, then MIC president, because he made a press statement that MIC would appeal to the education minister and help deserving students. Complete bullshit.

My son was completely devastated because his bumiputera friends and even Indian Muslim friends with lesser results were offered several countries to choose from. Imagine his frustration at this unfair system.

He has gone on to graduate from a top university overseas with his family's support. Do you think he will come back and serve here?

BernieBaby: At 20 , I was an incumbent Computer Engineering student in USM, Penang and they asked me 'how many seats are there in the Dewan Rakyat' during my PSD interview. I replied that I didn't know.

They accused me of not being a true Malaysian and didn't deserve a government scholarship.
So there you go. Singapore will be a better place for Malaysian talents. Besides you can get more income and stay in Johor Bahru, just like I do now.

Don't worry Heamanthaa Padmanaban, you will have the last laugh.

Simpang 4: Where is Minister in the PM's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz now? Are the civil servants becoming the disobedient implementors of government policies?
Is the cabinet in control of the government? It is time the chief secretary crack the whip on recalcitrant government servants before the rakyat become disillusioned.

Joker: We don't hear any sob stories from Malay students but funnily, that clown, Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali, said that it is the Malays who lose out in the scholarships.

If the PSD has the guts and confidence in their selection criteria, then let us see the final list of students of who gets what scholarship to study where and what course. Throw in the results obtained by these students as well.

I don't think such an information should be under OSA (Official Secrets Act) nor is this considered as 'politicising' the issue. This is just plain transparency and fairness. Berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah.

Ben Hor: This is yet another 'government' handout to the bumiputeras. I've personally know someone who received a full government scholarship to attend a university in the US.
He did not achieve outstanding results for his SPM, 6As out of 10 subjects. He received the scholarship only because he had an 'inside connection'.

To Ibrahim Ali and Co, scholarships are not a Malay right, but the right for all Malaysians for stellar performance. Go create your own 'Perkasa Scholarship Fund' if you want it to be exclusive.

Makcik Har: PSD should stop giving scholarships after SPM. There are a lot of students with a collection of distinctions but can't carry out a decent argument or conversation.

Besides I don't trust the passing mark of the Malaysian Examination Syndicate. Somebody suggested 35 percent.
The Education Ministry should make everybody go to Form Six and do the STPM. Then give scholarships to the top achievers regardless of race.

TehTarik: The so-called PSD interview is a farce. When my daughter was called for the interview, there were six candidates being interviewed simultaneously by the interviewer for about 15 minutes.

My impression was that a decision had already been made to select the candidates before the interview. It is also said that some less deserving but politically well-connected candidates are also given scholarships.

Anonymous_5fb: Would Heamanthaa be able to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak to get a scholarship like what Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan did? What was Saiful's examination results then when he met Najib?

Don't Wait Till Last Minute To Register As Voters, 3.9 Million Told

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 (Bernama) -- The 3.9 million Malaysians aged 21 and above have been advised to register as voters fast so as not to affect their chances of voting in the coming general election.

Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the advice was given as the process for voting eligibility would take two to three months.

"Malaysians like to do things at the last minute, whether it's paying utility bills, assessment rates or traffic summonses. So I urge that they register as voters immediately when they've reached the voting age," he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama.

Abdul Aziz said the process began with registration, displaying the electoral roll, the objection process, public investigation, appeal against the objection, gazetting the electoral roll, and combining the supplementary electoral roll with the electoral master roll.

He said that until February this year, 15,784,484 Malaysians aged 21 and above were eligible to register as voters and out of this number, 11,811,452 had done so.

"The remaining 3,973,032 or 25.2 per cent have not registered as voters."

Abdul Aziz said the EC had finished displaying the supplementary electoral roll for the first quarter of 2011 from April 28 to May 4 at 1,005 locations nationwide.

"In that quarter, 360,246 people had applied to register as voters, comprising 301,171 new applications and 59,075 for change of polling centre address."

He said the number would increase when the supplementary electoral roll for the 1/2011 quarter was confirmed and combined with the electoral master roll.

Bosnia genocide suspect Ratko Mladic arrested in Serbia

(CNN) -- Ratko Mladic, the onetime Bosnian Serb commander accused of presiding over Europe's worst massacre since World War II, was in custody Thursday after more than 15 years in hiding, Serbia's president announced.

Mladic was the highest-ranking war crimes suspect to remain at large from the wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He was arrested in the Serbian town of Lazarevo after a three-year investigation, President Boris Tadic said in a dramatic and hastily announced news conference in Belgrade.

"All war criminals must face justice," Tadic said. He refused to give more details about the operation but said Serbian authorities continue to probe "who aided and abetted Mladic ... and those people will face justice."

Mladic, now 69, led Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has charged him with leading a genocidal campaign against Bosnia's Muslim and Croat populations and with having "direct involvement" in the 1995 killings of nearly 8,000 men and boys in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica.

He was transferred from Lazarevo, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Belgrade, to courthouse in the capital for a preliminary hearing after his arrest, and the tribunal said it looked forward to his "expeditious transfer" to the Hague, Netherlands, for trial.

Once there, he will be allowed to enter a plea to the charges against him, which include genocide, crimes against humanity and violating the laws of war, according to a statement from the court.

"The arrest of Mladic is a milestone in the Tribunal's history and brings the institution closer to the successful completion of its mandate," the tribunal said. The sole remaining fugitive from the court is former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic, "and the Tribunal hopes he will be arrested in the very near future."

Mladic is accused of leading a campaign of "ethnic cleansing," widespread killing, forcible deportations, torture, forced labor and physical, psychological and sexual violence during the Bosnian war. But he remains a hero to some of his former soldiers, said David Owen, a former European Union envoy to Yugoslavia, suggesting that his supporters had sheltered him in Serbia.

The international police agency Interpol praised the arrest as "a triumph for international justice." Interpol officials had met with Tadic in January to discuss closer cooperation in the hunt for war crimes suspects, the organization's secretary-general, Ronald Noble, said in a statement on Mladic's capture.

"After today's arrest, no one should doubt Serbia's commitment to the rule of law and justice," Noble said.

Tadic said the arrest will help the process of reconciliation throughout the Balkans and should pave the way for Serbia's entry into the EU. James Ker-Lindsay, a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, called Thursday "an incredibly important day for Serbia."

"Ratko Mladic was the person to get hold of. This totally transforms Serbian prospects for getting into the European Union," he said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton hailed the arrest as a victory for "the rule of law in Serbia" and praised Tadic and his government for "this courageous action."

Ashton called for the quick transfer of the suspect to the Netherlands for trial. But Tadic declined to say how long the extradition would take, explaining it was not up to him.

Mladic had been on the run since the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended in 1995. The Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List was the first to report his arrest, saying police were doing DNA tests on a suspect to determine whether he was the notorious former commander.

Mladic was the last fugitive from a triumvirate of Serbian leaders accused of genocide against Muslims and Croats as the three populations fought a brutal war over Yugoslav territory.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was toppled in 2000 and sent to face charges in The Hague. He died in 2006 while the trial was still going on.

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested in July 2008 and is now on trial in The Hague.

Karadzic was removed from power under the Dayton Peace accords that ended three years of brutal fighting. He went into hiding, grew a full white beard and long hair, and was working in an alternative medicine clinic in Belgrade -- right under the noses of authorities -- when he was captured.

Karadzic has insisted on defending himself at The Hague. Prosecutors accuse him of deliberately obstructing the trial with delaying tactics, and judges have threatened to impose a defense lawyer on him if he does not cooperate.

The Bosnian war was the longest of the conflicts spawned by the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Backed by the Milosevic government, Bosnian Serb forces seized control of more than half the country and launched a campaign against the Muslim and Croat populations.

The United Nations declared Srebrenica to be a safe haven, and tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims flooded in, expecting protection. But a small contingent of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers, lightly armed and aware that no reinforcements were coming, stood aside and allowed Mladic's troops to overrun Srebrenica, leading to the slaughter.

NATO intervened in the conflict, bombing Bosnian Serb military positions. The United States brought the leaders of the warring factions to an agreement in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995, bringing the violence to an end.

High achiever's PSD scholarship dreams dashed

(Malaysiakini)Every year, we hear stories of high achievers not being able to secure government scholarships to pursue the courses of their choice despite fulfilling the necessary requirements.

Heamanthaa Padmanaban was among those who had suffered this setback to follow her ambition to study medicine abroad and also did not qualify to take up a course in biotechnology locally.

The 17-year-old from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Tuanku Jaafar in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, scored 10A+ and 1A in last year's Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations and was an all-rounder in extra-curricular activities.

"I qualified for cross-country runs and played hockey at state level, and was a school champion in chess and badminton.

"NONEIn April last year I was among those chosen to participate in the Malaysia-America Soccer Exchange programme with 12 other women," Heamanthaa (right) told Malaysiakini.

All these, besides her academic qualification, were means to secure a Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.

"I got the letter from PSD on May 13 and when I saw it I was happy thinking I must have qualified.

"After reading the contents of the letter I felt as if all my efforts and everything I had strived for had shattered.

"I cried and when I told my mum about it she broke down crying, too, she couldn't take it," she recounted.

Instead of an opportunity to study medicine or biotechnology, the petite and athletic looking Heamanthaa was offered a Diploma course in English at University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI).

"If it was my ambition to teach English, I would have taken up the offer but I want to be a doctor. It doesn't make sense," she said.

'I believed in the govt'

Although disappointed, she has appealed for an alternative offer as she is determined to become a doctor, specialising in oncology.

But without a scholarship, Heamanthaa's chances of achieving her dream are bleak as her family may not be able to sustain and fund her tertiary education if she decides to pursue medicine privately.

Her father deals in health products and her mother is a primary school teacher while her younger brother is in Form 4.

"Private institutions have offered scholarships but they are only enough to pay tuition fees. I worked hard to study overseas and I believed in the government's word that students with 9A+ will be given scholarships and also to study the courses of their choice," said Heamanthaa.

In July last year, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced that PSD scholarships would be awarded to all students, regardless of ethnicity, who managed to score 9As or higher, for either local or overseas studies.

On May 4, the cabinet decided that all students who scored 8As and above in the SPM would be eligible for PSD scholarships and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Aziz reiterated that the promise will be kept.

Later, Nazri had rubbished Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong's allegations of malpractice in the PSD's selection of scholarship recipients.

The minister also said the PSD's focus includes medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, engineering, science and technology and several areas under social sciences.

"Two of my peers were offered medicine, one at a medical college in New Zealand and another at the International Medical University (IMU).

"We all got more less the same grades but why didn't I get any such offers? I want to do medicine and it is one of the critical courses under PSD," said Heamanthaa.

'Think about our feelings'

She related that during her 45-minute interview with four PSD panel members on April 13, she was asked several perplexing questions.

"They asked me why doctors don't want to work in rural areas; why PSD scholars don't want to come back to the country to work; and what inspires me to be successful."

In PSD's merit category - 85 percent is based on academic excellence, 10 percent on co-curricular activities and five percent on the interview.

Heamanthaa's father Padmanaban opined that it is unlikely for his daughter to fail her PSD interview, as she had received good remarks from the US Embassy visa approval officer when she attended an interview last year.

At a press conference yesterday, Heamanthaa said she had appealed to MCA and MIC as well as to several NGOs.

"Please give it to those who are worthy - that's all I ask, give scholarships to all those who deserve them," she added.

Imagine the anguish when their applications are rejected or not offered the courses they want, she said.

Another who suffered the same fate as Heamanthaa was Chai Sheng Min from SMK St Joseph in Kuching, Sarawak who obtained 10As. He said he was only offered a scholarship to study engineering at Universiti Technology Petronas, while his two friends with 4As and 5As respectively were awarded scholarships to pursue science degrees in the United States.

"I hope this doesn't get repeated again in the coming years and the issue is addressed once and for all," Hemanthaa said.

Chitrakala: Supporting Letter To Then-DPM: Samy Unaware Who Company Directors Were

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 (Bernama) -- Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED) chairman Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu told the Sessions Court Thursday, that when he wrote a supporting letter to then-deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (now prime minister) in 2007, to secure a company's application for a National Service (NS) camp project, he was in the dark who the directors of the company were.

He said he was unaware that former MIED chief executive officer (CEO) P. Chithirakala was one of the directors of Silver Line Services Sdn Bhd.

During re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Morais, Samy said nothing was mentioned about the directors of the said company, except that it was an Indian-owned company.

The former MIC president also said he wrote the letter in his capacity as the works minister at that time, using the ministry's letter-head, adding he never intended to "abuse" the letter-head, as suggested by the defence.

Today was Samy's fourth day in court after testifying for three days, beginning April 6, in the trial of Chithirakala who is facing three counts of cheating, amounting to RM4 million, allegedly belonging to MIED.

To another question by Morais, Samy said Tan Sri Rashid Manan was initially given 30 per cent shares in MIED Capital as requirement of bumiputra quota.

However, Rashid eventually returned the shares to MIED when such requirement was not needed anymore, he added.

"It was my decision in awarding the shares to Rashid Manan, and MIED board members were fully aware of the shares," stressed Samy.

He also told the court that Rashid eventually was asked to take over the construction of MIED-owned medical college AIMST in Kedah when MIED could not pay the main contractor.

On April 7, Samy, during examination-in-chief, had told the court that when MIC mooted the idea of the medical college, it was Rashid who provided the initial loan of RM5 million to start the project.

On May 11, last year, Chithirakala, 40, claimed trial to cheating former MIC treasurer-general Tan Sri M. Mahalingam, 74, a director and signatory of MIED Sdn Bhd, by inducing him to sign three cheques -- two for RM1 million each, and another, for RM2 million in 2007.

Cross-examined by counsel Jadadish Chandra, as to whether the three cheques which were subject matter of the charges, were signed by him, Samy replied that Mahalingam and Datuk K. Kumaran signed as directors of MIED Capital Sdn Bhd.

"I only signed cheques related to MIED and normally, the cheques will be accompanied by vouchers," he explained.

However, he agreed with Chandra there were instances where he had signed cheques without vouchers.

He also told the court that as MIED chairman, he had initiated several civil suits against Chithirakala and another former MIED staff, Ramachandran Shasi Iyer, as part of efforts to recover RM1.7 million, the "theft" of which, he alleged, was committed by the duo.

Second prosecution witness, Samy's son, Vell Paari, under examination-in-chief, told the court that Chithirakala was not entitled for payment of RM4 million when shares in Pyramid Saimira Theatre Chain (M) Sdn Bhd and Asian Integrated Industries Sdn Bhd were transferred back to him, although initially, both of them owned equal shares.

"She was just holding the shares on my behalf, for which the initial paid-up capital was RM2 and RM4, respectively, for the two companies, when she assisted me in setting them (companies) up in 2007," he explained.

He said Chithirakala decided to hand over the shares to him after she declined to be guarantor of bank loans for both companies which were involved in distributing movies from South India.

Cross-examined by Chandra that since the paid-up capital of Asian Integrated in July 2007 was RM2.5 million and should be enjoyed as 50:50 partnership of the company, Vel Paari said the money came from him, and nothing from Chithirakala.

The hearing before Judge Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh continues on June 27, where Rashid is expected to testify as third prosecution witness.

Hollywood deal for film of bin Laden killing

LOS ANGELES, May 26 – US film giant Columbia Pictures said Tuesday it has won the US distribution rights for a film about the killing of Osama bin Laden, to be directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow.

Bigelow (picture) and journalist-turned screenwriter Mark Boal, who won Oscars for Iraq bomb squad movie “The Hurt Locker” in 2010, had already been working on a project about the Al-Qaeda chief’s capture or killing, before his death on May 2.

Immediately afterwards there were reports they were scrambling to decide what to do with the project, but Tuesday’s announcement by Amy Pascal of Columbia’s parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment confirmed the plans.

“Bigelow and Boal have been developing the project since 2008 and plan to incorporate recent events into the film,” said a statement, adding that the film will focus on “the black ops mission to capture or kill” bin Laden.

Pascal added: “With the death of Osama bin Laden, this film could not be more relevant. Kathryn and Mark have an outstanding perspective on the team that was hunting the most wanted man in the world.

“Mark is second to none as an investigative journalist, and Kathryn will bring the same kind of compelling authenticity and urgency that distinguished The Hurt Locker and made that film so memorable and special.”

Boal and Bigelow will produce the as-yet unnamed movie with Annapurna Picture’s Megan Ellison, and executive producer Greg Shapiro. Filming will start in late summer, with the film to be released in the last quarter of 2012.

There is a long history of movies based on real events, from “JFK” to “Titanic,” or more recently “United 93” about the heroism of passengers who prevented a fourth plane from hitting its mark on 9/11.

Bigelow has built her career via movies notable for their macho characters, whether it’s bank-robbing surfers in “Point Break” to adrenaline-addicted bomb squads in “The Hurt Locker.”

She became the first woman to win the best director Oscar last year for “The Hurt Locker,” a nerve-jangling movie about a US Army bomb disposal squad in Baghdad.

The low-budget drama, based on a screenplay by Boal after he was embedded with a bomb squad in 2004, beat sci-fi epic “Avatar,” directed by her ex-husband James Cameron, at the 2010 Academy Awards. – Reuters

‘Cops beat me, told me to die’

A 20-year-old student claims that he was assaulted and verbally berated after knocking into a policeman's motorcycle.

PETALING JAYA: “The policemen kept beating me and called me ‘keling’. They also shouted at me, saying I should just die so that they can close the case.”

A 20-year-old student was allegedly beaten up and verbally berated when he knocked into a policeman’s motorcycle at a roadblock in Rembau, Negri Sembilan, during the wee hours of the morning.

After the Monday incident, S Ganesan was also warned against lodging a complaint before he was put into an ambulance and sent to the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital.

However, Ganesan summed up the courage to lodge a report with the Chembong police station on the same day.

In the report, he stated: “I want the authorities to take action against the errant policemen. I don’t understand why they treated me like an animal although I repeatedly apologised for the accident.”

Ganesan said that he fell to the ground when his motorcyle collided with the policeman’s bike, and an officer identified only as Hisham allegedly started raining blows on him.

“Soon, several other officers joined him to beat me up,” he added.

Ganesan claimed that he was kicked in his stomach, arms and back. The policemen, who also used a
helmet to assault him, then allegedly tore his shirt, threw him into a drain and stomped on him.

Apart from the beating, the student claimed that the policemen had also hurled racial insults, among others, calling him “keling” (a derogatory term used on Indians).

“They also said I should just die so that they can close the case,” he alleged.

Despite several attempts, FMT failed to reach Negeri Sembilan CID chief ACP Hamdan Majid for comments.

‘Put an end to this now’

Commenting on the matter, Indian-based NGO Aastivaram Foundation said it was high time for the government to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

“The commission is long overdue. Currently, the police themselves investigate cases of police abuse and I believe they tend to cover up such cases,” said its vice-president R Sri Sanjeevan.

Citing the example of a lorry driver’s assistant in Bahau being allegedly threatened and beaten by policemen, he said the police had not been able to provide any updates to the victim to date.

On April 13, S Devan was handcuffed and beaten by several plainclothes individuals claiming to be policemen after they failed to locate his friend, known as Thiagu.

One of them had allegedly shoved a gun into Devan’s mouth.

Sanjeevan called upon Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar to put an immediate end to such brutality.

“If left unchecked, it may bring the downfall of the (Barisan Nasional) government,” he warned.

MCA wants review of PSD scholarship quota

MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek urges the government to take a second look at the race-based quota.

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek today urged the government to review the racial quotas for Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships for overseas courses.

However, he said that MCA supports quotas for the socially disadvantaged groups, students in Sabah and Sarawak and those based on merit.

“We support the quota for socially disadvantaged groups and students in Sabah and Sarawak. That’s only fair because school facilities in Sabah and Sarawak are not of the same standards as those in Kuala Lumpur or even Ipoh.

But he suggested that the 60% racial quotas should be reviewed.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz, who is in charge of the PSD scholarships, said that the government had allocated 1,500 overseas scholarships to top students.

Of this, only 300 or 20% of the total were given based entirely on merit to students who score straight 9A+.

The rest of the scholarships are divided under the categories of Sabah and Sarawak (10%), the socially disadvantaged (10%), and race-based (60%).

“We fully support the 60% quota but there is a need to review it,” Chua said.

He also said that applicants who were qualified for degree courses should not be downgraded to doing diploma programmes.

Chua added that the merit-based scholarship recipients should be sent overseas while the rest could study at local institutions.

He promised to raise the issue at the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) meeting with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak tomorrow.

MCA was the first to cry foul about the distribution of PSD scholarship. Its Youth chief Wee Ka Siong revealed that 363 straight A+ students had failed to get scholarships despite Najib’s promise that all students scoring 8A+ and above would secure placements.

Najib will also meet with the PSD officials tomorrow to look into the scholarship dispute.

Suicide, depression hits Australia detainees

The uncertainty caused by being held indefinitly was triggering serious mental health issues.

SYDNEY: Australia’s asylum seeker policy came under more fire Thursday with the Human Rights Commission warning that suicide and depression were major concerns in the country’s detention centres.

A new study focusing on the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney was released as criticism mounted of Canberra’s plan to send boatpeople to Malaysia, where detainees can be caned.

Detention is mandatory for asylum seekers who arrive in Australia until their claims are processed, with some remaining locked up for over a year.

The Australian Human Rights Commission said three apparent suicides at Villawood last year and high rates of self-harm should serve as a warning.

Commission president Catherine Branson said that the uncertainty caused by being held indefinitly was triggering serious mental health issues.

“What we saw at Villawood was the result of the system of mandatory and indefinite detention, where people can see no end in sight because there is no set time limit on the period a person can be held in detention,” she said.

Sixty percent of those in detention when the commission visited Villawood had been held for longer than six months, and 45 percent for more than a year.

“We saw people scarred from self-harming. We heard others talk of sleepless nights, days of depression and frequent thoughts of suicide,” said Branson.

“The commission has been deeply concerned for some time about the detrimental impacts of prolonged and indefinite detention on people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

She added that the concerns had escalated over the past year as thousands more people arrived, usually on boats from Indonesia.

“I urge the government to make greater use of community-based alternatives that are cheaper, more effective and more humane, such as the use of bridging visas or community detention,” she said.

Illegal deal

Some 8,000 boatpeople have arrived in Australian waters since the beginning of 2010, and recent violent riots and rooftop protests have prompted the government to approach Malaysia about taking some for processing.

Canberra plans to send 800 there and in return will accept 4,000 people already assessed to be refugees from Malaysia for resettlement over four years.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights this week warned Australia the plan could be illegal, with Malaysia not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention nor the UN Convention against Torture.

According to Amnesty International, Malaysia canes up to 6,000 detainees a year, claims seized on by critics Thursday.

“I would have thought this is a fairly fundamental, basic check-off in terms of the human rights issues that will need to be squared away if you were going to conclude this sort of deal,” said opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison.

Three parties can’t form the federal government

If Barisan Nasional can’t make it with just three political parties even with everything working in its favour (plus election fraud and vote rigging thrown in), what makes you think that Pakatan Rakyat can do so when the playing field is extremely far from level?

Raja Petra Kamarudin
Way back in 1969, Umno already realised that it can’t form the federal government with a coalition of a mere three political parties. At that time the coalition of Umno, MCA and MIC was called the Alliance Party. That was why Barisan Nasional was formed a few years later -- so that they could enlarge the three-member coalition to include more parties.
A total of 7,944,274 Malaysians voted in the 2008 general election. Umno garnered 2,381,725 votes while MCA and MIC garnered 840,489 and 179,422 votes respectively. Combined, the ‘Alliance Party’ managed only 41.89% of the votes.
In terms of parliament seats, Umno, MCA and MIC won 79, 15 and 3 respectively. But we must remember that Umno’s 79 seats included 11 from Sabah. Therefore, minus Sabah, Umno won only 68 seats -- which means the ‘Alliance Party’ minus Sabah won only 86 out of the 222 seats in Parliament (or 97 seats if including Sabah).
With or without the 11 Umno Sabah seats, the ‘Alliance Party’ of Umno, MCA and MIC can’t get enough seats to form the federal government. They need Barisan Nasional to be able to form the federal government. And, today, Barisan Nasional is a coalition of 14 political parties (if you do not include the Election Commission, Police, Judiciary, AG’s Chambers, etc. -- which would then make it a coalition of 20 or more members).
The bottom line is: with a mere three political parties, Barisan Nasional can’t form the federal government. It needs 14 political parties to do that.
Now let us look at Pakatan Rakyat. It is also a coalition of three political parties. If Barisan Nasional can’t form the federal government with just three political parties (even with the help of the Election Commission, Police, Judiciary, AG’s Chambers, etc.) can Pakatan Rakyat do so (with the Election Commission, Police, Judiciary, AG’s Chambers, etc., all working against the opposition)?
I have said this before and I am going to say it again: Pakatan Rakyat must enlarge the coalition to include more political parties. It can’t expect to form the federal government with just PKR, DAP and PAS. It needs more parties to join Pakatan Rakyat, not only from West Malaysia but also, and in particular, from East Malaysia.
Pakatan Rakyat, in particular PKR, must not be sombong. It can’t make Pakatan Rakyat an ‘exclusive club’ of three parties. It has to reach out to more parties and invite them to join Pakatan Rakyat. If not Pakatan Rakyat is never going to form the next federal government.
The 2008 general election was the peak for Pakatan Rakyat. Pakatan Rakyat can’t expect to better the 2008 general election result with just three parties. Even if Pakatan Rakyat can just maintain its 2008 election result that would be a consolation enough. My fear is that in the next general election Pakatan Rakyat will drop from its 2008 height of 82 parliament seats to a mere 52 seats or so (a repeat of what it did in 1999 when it used to be known as Barisan Alternatif).
Pakatan Rakyat, in particular PKR, should stop making enemies and start making friends. It should remove that chip from its shoulder and stop looking down on those who share the common agenda of seeing change in Malaysia. There are many who share this aspiration for change. But Pakatan Rakyat acts like only it has that exclusive right of fighting for change. That is very sombong.
Let me repeat that: if Barisan Nasional can’t make it with just three political parties even with everything working in its favour (plus election fraud and vote rigging thrown in), what makes you think that Pakatan Rakyat can do so when the playing field is extremely far from level?
There are ten non-Barisan Nasional political parties. But only three are in Pakatan Rakyat. Why can’t Pakatan Rakyat become a coalition of at least seven parties even if it can’t be a coalition of ten parties?

Man Had Ears Cut Off Because Of Affair

NIBONG TEBAL, May 26 (Bernama) -- A pork seller had both his ears cut off Thursday because of an affair he was believed to be having with a married woman.

The 47-year-old man was found in a drain near his house at Taman Kasawari in Simpang Ampat at about 8am, Seberang Perai Selatan police chief Supt Shafien Mamat said.

He told reporters here that the man was attacked with a sharp object and had been sent to hospital for treatment.

Shafien said that a 46-year-old lorry driver was detained about two hours later.

Police believe that the attacker was driven by jealousy.

Still waiting for post-mortem

1913: The hospital’s lawyer has been in touch with Latheefa Koya, the lawyer for the family of shooting victim Johari bin Abu Bakar, 17. Latheefa says she was told the hospital wants to comply fully with the court order, which includes a provision for a qualified independent observer.
The provision for an observer had actually been included in the court order at the request of the family who wanted additional assurance.
But the family are now unable to find a qualified observer at such short notice especially as many doctors are away for the Malaysian Medical Association’s annual general meeting in Ipoh tomorrow. (Dr Mary Suma Cardosa will be installed as the first woman president of the MMA.) So the family are now willing to waive their request for an observer as they want the postmortem to proceed without delay.
The hospital, however, is sticking to the letter of the court order and wants an independent observer to be present.
Latheefa and the family are now desperately trying to locate a qualified observer. They are upset that the family has been kept in the dark for so long.
1809: The lawyer acting for the family of a teenager who was fatally shot has sent out this alert: “Please be informed, family of police shooting victim Johari bin Abu Bakar, 17 years old, is still waiting outside forensic pathology department since morning.
“Hospital yet to address the family why post-mortem not conducted yet,” said Latheefa.
Is University Malaya Medical Centre still following “proper procedure”?