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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PRU 13: Tiada jalan mudah buat Najib, BN

Membubarkan Parlimen seawal Julai 2011 juga dilihat tidak memberi banyak kelebihan dan alasan yang konkrit buat Perdana Menteri dan Barisan Nasional yang dikepalainya.

Pilihan Raya Umum ke 13 (PRU-13) dijangkakan tidak akan diadakan seawal bulan Julai ini walaupun muncul spekulasi yang bertiup kencang PRU-13 bakal diadakan Julai tahun ini.

Tindakan Umno menunda pemilihan dalam parti yang sepatutnya diadakan pada tahun ini sehingga 18 bulan juga telah memberi ruang untuk parti itu bersedia untuk menghadapi PRU-13 sekurang-kurangnya sehingga tahun 2013 sebelum pemilihan parti diadakan.

Membubarkan Parlimen seawal Julai 2011 juga dilihat tidak memberi banyak kelebihan dan alasan yang konkrit buat Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak dan Barisan Nasional (BN) yang dikepalainya.

Jesteru itu, tiada sebab Najib perlu membubarkan Parlimen tahun ini sedangkan mandat yang diperolehi BN ketika diketuai oleh bekas PM, Tun Abdullah Badawi pada Mac 2008 hanya akan luput pada 2013.

Alasan beberapa pemerhati dan ahli politik yang berpendapat ketika ini Najib mahukan mandat pertamanya sebagai PM sekaligus membuktikan kekuatannya sebagai peneraju utama BN juga tidak terpakai sekurang-kurangnya hingga ke hari ini.

Sokongan Melayu meningkat, Cina merosot

Berbanding Najib yang dikatakan dahagakan mandatnya sendiri untuk membuktikan pengaruhnya, beberapa perkara lain yang lebih penting tentunya menjadi perhitungan utama Najib ketika ini.

BN juga tidak boleh terlalu berbangga dengan keputusan beberapa siri pilihan raya kecil (PRK) sebelum ini yang menunjukkan peningkatan sokongan pengundi Melayu kepada BN.

Bagaimanapun keputusan siri PRK tersebut tidak memberi sebarang jaminan yang baik buat BN bagi mengekalkan kuasanya di Putrajaya bahkan kedudukan Najib sendiri sebagai PM sekalipun BN kembali berkuasa.

Keputusan siri-siri PRK yang sama turut memperlihatkan penyusutan sokongan pengundi bukan Melayu yang ketara khususnya golongan kedua terbesar iaitu pengundi di kalangan kaum Cina.

Keputusan yang sama turut berlaku ketika Pilihan Raya Negeri (PRN) Sarawak yang baru diadakan sebelum ini, malah jelas menunjukkan kemerosotan sokongan rakyat negeri itu terhadap BN.

Dalam keputusan PRN Sarawak lalu, undi popular bagi BN merosot walaupun sokongan yang diterima dari pengundi Melayu meningkat gara-gara kehilangan sokongan pengundi bukan Melayu di negeri itu.

Sekurang-kurangnya bagi negeri Sarawak, BN diramalkan akan kehilangan beberapa buah kerusi parlimen dari negeri ini sekiranya PRU-13 diadakan dalam masa terdekat ini.

Mengekalkan pengaruh di Sabah dan Sarawak tentunya dilihat sebagai sesuatu yang penting buat BN sehinggakan dua negeri tersebut dianggap sebagai negeri ‘simpanan tetap’ parti itu.

Disebabkan Sarawak merupakan antara negeri yang terbanyak menyumbangkan kemenangan BN di Parlimen, kedudukan Ketua Menteri Sarawak, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud yang mulai dianggap sebagai liabiliti kepada BN dipercayai turut menjadi perhitungan Najib bagi mendapatkan ilham tarikh PRU-13.

Pengunduran Taib di Sarawak sebelum menjelangnya PRU-13 boleh dianggap sebagai satu kelegaan buat jentera BN negeri itu dalam menghadapi serangan pihak lawan.

Jelas dari segi peratusan undi popular, peningkatan sokongan dari pengundi Melayu itu tidak memberikan impak yang besar terhadap BN kerana diimbangi oleh penyusutan sokongan di kalangan pengundi bukan Melayu.

Ancaman dalaman Umno sendiri terhadap Najib


Najib dan BN bukan sahaja bakal tersungkur sekiranya BN gagal mempertahankan majoriti mudah di parlimen, malah beliau turut bakal berhadapan dengan ancaman timbalannya, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Rata-rata para pemerhati berpendapat, sekalipun BN berjaya memenangi PRU-13 nanti, kedudukan Najib masih terancam sekiranya BN gagal memperolehi majoriti dua pertiga di parlimen.

Tindakan Muhyiddin yang akhirnya mendorong perletakan jawatan PM kelima Malaysia, Tun Abdullah tentunya sentiasa menjadi igauan Najib.

Selain itu, sekalipun BN berjaya memperolehi kemenangan dua pertiga di parlimen, kegagalan merampas negeri-negeri yang dikuasai oleh Pakatan Rakyat (PR) khususnya negeri Selangor ketika ini juga boleh merosakkan parti kemenangan Najib.

Sekiranya PRU-13 diadakan seawal Julai ini, kebanyakan pemerhati politik tanah air menjangkakan BN hampir pasti gagal untuk merampas Pulau Pinang dan Kelantan dari tangan PR.

Manakala di Selangor dan Kedah pula pastinya pertembungan sengit akan berlaku antara kedua-dua belah pihak BN dan PR.

Not a single decent road in oil-rich Sabah

The federal government had failed to build a modern road network in Sabah despite 47 years of nation-building, says a former minister.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is clearly not in the nation-building plans of the Barisan Nasional government in the last 47 years. For todate, “not a single decent trunk road or highway” has been built for the state.

A former Sabah minister, Kong Hong Ming, said the federal government had failed to build a modern road network in the state almost half a century since the formation of Malaysia.

He said Sabahans were still begging for infrastructural development despite regularly giving away 95% of the state’s oil and gas resources to the federal government.

Kong, now a PKR leader, has accused the Umno-led BN federal government of taxing Sabahans and treating Sabah as a backwater.

“With all our oil and gas resources, there is not a single decent trunk road or highway in Sabah after 47 years.

“Worse still, almost all the trunk roads linking the major towns in Sabah are in bad shape due to lack of maintenance despite billion of ringgit spent on the task.

“Meanwhile, we watch and admire the modern and expensive communication system and networks in Peninsular Malaysia built and enjoyed by the people there.

“Obviously, what we have in Malaysia is one country with two systems of administration, with Sabah given lower priority in every aspect of development,” Kong said, adding that the BN government had nothing to shout about in so far as development in Sabah was concerned.


Unserviceable roads 

Kong, who is PKR’s Tawau division chief, was commenting on numerous public complaints over the deteriorating condition of the controversial Sapulut-Kalabakan Road, constructed at a cost of RM565 million.

Kong, who happened to be the “whistle-blower” of the controversial project, also warned that the government might end up wasting another RM270 million of taxpayers’ money on the “upgrading” of the road.
“It is almost certain that RM565 million of public funds spent on Sapulut-Kalabakan Road has gone to waste.

“It is also likely that the government will be throwing away another RM270 million for nothing without a proper study of the current resent deplorable conditions of road.

“It appears that the supposedly new road is now already beyond repair and re-construction is necessary,” said Kong, a civil engineer.

He noted that the federal government had pledged in Parliament in April last year, an additional allocation of RM270 million for upgrading the road, which is meant to link Tawau to here.

However, to this day no upgrading has been done.

Kong said that in less than five years after Sapalut-Kalabakan Road had been completed, the gravel road has become unserviceable, unfit and unsafe for road users.

“More than 10 sections of the trunk road meant to serve Tawau and Kota Kinabalu are impassable.
“Major landslides and erosion problems, coupled with the lack of proper maintenance, have caused extensive damage to the road.

“It is a nightmare for the people who have to travel on this road and suffer such inconvenience,” he said.
According to Kong, he had received complaints that the road is “worse than the logging” paths maintained by timber companies.

“It is a scandal as well as a complete waste of public funds,” he said.

He questioned the silence of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the two reports lodged by him on the matter in 2008.

Recently, a group of 63 tourists from Limbang, Sarawak, highlighted their disturbing journey along the route in their bid to get to the east coast town of Semporna.

The group was forced to turn back after their vehicles risked becoming bogged down in the road that had turned into a quagmire.

Bersih rally: Hindraf opts out

The movement's leader says since Pakatan failed to endorse its 18-point demand, Hindraf will not participate in the rally.

PETALING JAYA: Hindraf Makkal Sakti will not be participating in the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally, said its leader P Uthayakumar.

“We are not participating because Pakatan Rakyat failed to endorse our 18-point demand made in 2007,” he added in a press statement.

Uthayakumar was responding to a news report that linked the Hindraf rally to the first Bersih rally in 2007 that swung public sentiment against the government during the 2008 general election.

The former Internal Security Act detainee said back then, the movement supported Pakatan because it did not have a choice.

“Hindraf did not have a political choice but to give the unconditional political directions to support Pakatan. But after the 2008 general election, it became more plain and obvious that PKR, DAP and PAS like the Umno-BN regime only wanted Indian votes,” he said.

He added that the situation was different now because Hindraf has a political platform, namely the Human Rights Party (HRP).

However, Uthayakumar said Hindraf will back Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan on the condition that HRP is allowed to contest 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats in the next polls.

“We are committed to politically ending Umno’s rule of Putrajaya; we support Pakatan taking over Putrajaya and even Anwar becoming the next prime minister of Malaysia but on condition of HRP’s ‘Project 15/38′ as the internal check and balance mechanism so that the Indian poor are not segregated or excluded from national mainstream development of Malaysia,” he added.

He also indicated that there were proposals for another Hindraf rally to be held on Nov 25.

WIKILEAKS: Syed Mokhtar al Bukhary's foray into Iran


SKS is small operation controlled by Syed Mokhtar al Bukhary, one of Malaysia's wealthiest industrialists with a Forbes Magazine estimated net worth of $2 billion. Much of Syed Mokhtar's personal wealth has been acquired in dealings with the GOM and GOM-linked corporations. He controls Malaysia Mining Corporation, DRB Hicom, Malakoff, and Gas Malaysia among other significant Malaysian operations.
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 000059

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/ESC THAMMANG
STATE FOR EEB/TFS CBACKEMEYER
STATE FOR NEA/IR RWADHWANI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2020
TAGS: ECON, EFIN, ENIV, ENRG, EPET, ETTC, IR, KNNP, MY
SUBJECT: MALAYSIA: SKS VENTURES EXPLAINS ITS IRAN INVESTMENTS

REF: A. 09 STATE 121808
     B. KUALA LUMPUR 0037

Classified By: Econ Counselor Matt Matthews for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1.  (C) Summary: SKS Ventures (SKS) CEO Abang Iskandar Muas (Iskandar) met with Econoff January 19 to discuss SKS plans to develop the Golshan and Ferdowsi gas fields (G&F) in Iran.
Iskandar said that the GOM had initially negotiated the deal with the GOI and handed the project to SKS just prior to signing.  Iskandar told us that development of the G&F fields is going slowly because sanctions impeded National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) ability to perform basic due diligence functions.  He also stated that NIOC has been extremely difficult to work with and that the initial buyback service contract signed in Dec. 2007 is the only commercial agreement between SKS and NIOC. 
SKS’s only investment over the past two years since the announcement was limited to staff time from their 15 employees and air tickets for meetings with a total value under $1 million, according to Iskandar.  He was pessimistic on prospects for the deal and said that SKS is considering pulling out altogether. 
However, he emphasized SKS would need GOM approval prior to exiting the transaction because Malaysian Trade Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials had encouraged SKS to enter into the deal in the first place and had reconfirmed GOM support for trade cooperation with Iran at a recent meeting. 
Iskandar also denied reports of SKS participation with NIOC in a refinery projects in Syria and Indonesia and downplayed its deal with NIOC which is under review in Malaysia.  End Summary.
2.  (C) Comment:  SKS is small operation controlled by Syed Mokhtar al Bukhary, one of Malaysia's wealthiest industrialists with a Forbes Magazine estimated net worth of $2 billion.  Much of Syed Mokhtar's personal wealth has been acquired in dealings with the GOM and GOM-linked corporations.  He controls Malaysia Mining Corporation, DRB Hicom, Malakoff, and Gas Malaysia among other significant Malaysian operations. 
Post believes Iskandar is a credible interlocutor that provided an important window on the GOM's role in the deal and SKS current thinking on the transaction. Iskandar seemed genuinely frustrated that the G&F deal turned out to be an empty business proposition due to NIOC incompetence and Iran sanctions.  Other oil and gas industry contacts have confirmed the small size and scope of the SKS operation.    End Comment.
SKS Ventures
3.  (C) Econoff met January 19 with SKS Ventures (SKS) CEO Abang Iskandar Muas (Iskandar) to discuss the SKS intentions to develop the Golshan and Ferdowsi gas fields (G&F) in Iran and implications under the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).
Iskandar mentioned early in our conversation that Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Senior Director Wong had called him January 15 informing him that the embassy had been trying to contact him and he needed to meet with us. Econoff delivered ref A points and offered additional background on our information request. 
According to Iskandar, SKS has 15 full time employees and works on projects outside of Malaysia for Syed Mokhtar.  Iskandar is an experienced O&G industry professional, having worked for Shell Oil USA (based in Houston) for fifteen years in Sarawak, Saudi Arabia (where he was VP for Finance and Human Resources), and Kuala Lumpur prior to assuming his current position with SKS two and one half years ago. 
Iskandar fondly reminisced of his frequent travel to the U.S. for business and family vacations prior to assuming his position at SKS.
Golshan and Ferdowsi: G2G Agreement
4.  (C) Iskandar said the G&F deal grew out of government-to-government negotiations between Malaysia and Iran during 2007.  The GOM brought SKS to the table late in the negotiations, according to Iskandar, finalizing a buyback service contract between SKS and National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in December 2007. 
He added that SKS entered into the agreement based on the GOM’s policy of expanding trade cooperation with Iran and the belief that the business climate for oil and gas (O&G) in Iran was improving during 2005-6. 
Iskandar said that the initial business strategy was for SKS to plan the project, NIOC to perform physical due diligence (appraisals, seismic analysis, feasibility studies, etc.), and, once the project was ready to start, sell controlling interest, at a profit, to an international oil company that could bring resources to develop the fields.
Iskandar commented, "We have no wells, no drilling rigs, no facilities, no experts, and no technology" to implement a project the size of G&F.  His explanation as to why the Iranians would enter in to a transaction the size of G&F with such a small entity was, "in order to be friendly to the government (of Malaysia)."
NIOC Difficulties
5.  (C) Working with NIOC, according to Iskandar had been "extremely difficult."  He added, "we should have taken a lesson from Petronas" claiming that Petronas will not deal with NIOC any longer because NIOC still owed a substantial amount of money to Petronas from its buyback service contract for South Pars Phases 2 and 3. 
Iskandar said that NIOC has made no progress on its due diligence obligations at G&F due to international contractors refusing to work in Iran because of sanctions.  He complained that SKS and NIOC also have not reached any commercial agreements on the project in the last two years. 
Iskandar stated, "We have no idea how we would be paid.  NIOC has not agreed to LNG and we have no interest in selling gas domestically.  Iran uses most of their gas to inject into their oil fields to get more oil or to produce heavily subsidized electricity." 
He listed numerous other problems plaguing the project related to Iran sanctions such as the inability to import LNG technology or hire expat expertise, a low likelihood that Iranian LNG could be consistently sold on the open market, and NIOC's lack of access to financing.
SKS Ready to Walk Away
6.  (C) Iskandar described the SKS agreement with NIOC on G&F as "barely hanging on" and that SKS is currently deciding whether to stay in or pull out, and added, "The decision will come sooner rather than later."  He viewed the buyback service contract as having "no commercial value" at this time. 
He noted though that Syed Mokhtar's close connections to the Malaysian government mean SKS will not move on a G&F decision without policy direction from the GOM.  "We do not want to be on the wrong side of the government and we have not heard from PM Najib", according to Iskandar.  However, he added that SKS has "no money in the ground" in Iran, because the firm did not pay an initial "signing bonus" as the buyback service contract did not carry any vested rights to the gas. 
He also stated that SKS management is aware of the change in the international political environment with regard to Iran and is "not entrenched," implying SKS would quickly drop the transaction if permitted by the GOM.
Another View of the MITI Meeting
7.  (C) Iskandar offered a different account of the recent meeting between MITI and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) officials and officers from the three Malaysian companies listed in ref A.  Iskandar said that after the companies answered MITI queries on their Iran investments, the companies, especially Petronas, pushed back at MITI and MFA asking "What is the government's stance on trade cooperation with Iran?" and "Should we adjust our investment strategies?"
MITI responded that the GOM still supports trade cooperation with Iran, according to Iskandar.  (Comment: The MFA account of the meeting (ref B) was similar to Iskandar's but omitted the companies' questions and MITI's response.  End Comment.)
Other Announcements Inaccurate
8.  (C) Toward the close of the meeting, Iskandar addressed recent Iranian and Malaysian press announcements of SKS participation in other transactions with NIOC.  He stated that the GOM asked SKS to commission a feasibility study on a project with NIOC. It involved a refinery project in Kedah with a pipeline across the Malaysian Peninsula to Terengganu.
Iskandar commented that the pipeline is economically unwarranted and an Iranian partner likely makes the refinery unfeasible.  He added that recent announcements of SKS participation in a refinery project in Syria with Iranian and Venezuelan partners and SKS participation in an Indonesian refinery project with Pertamina and NIOC are blatantly false.
He said that the first SKS had heard of either project was in press reports.  He explained that SKS never issued denials of participation in the deals in order to avoid embarrassment in case the government was involved.
KEITH

Lawyer hacked to death

Tragic: Anbalagan slashed to death at a temple in Kapar on Monday.The Star
by STEVEN DANIEL

SHAH ALAM: A prominent lawyer and businessman was viciously slashed to death after he performed prayers at a temple in Kampung Perepat, Kapar.

Datuk R. Anbalagan, 56, suffered multiple slash wounds on the back, face, shoulder and left arm in the attack that took place on Monday night. He died on the spot.

Klang Utara OCPD Supt Shukor Sulong said a 26-year-old suspect, an Indian national believed to be an employee of the victim, fled in Anbalagan's four-wheel drive with a handphone and 800gm of gold jewellery. However, it is learnt that police have arrested the suspect and recovered the vehicle and valuables.

The family's Indonesian maid, who was present at the Sri Ramalingesverer temple at the time of the murder, said that she had accompanied Anbalagan to the temple in his oil palm plantation.

“After the prayers ended at 9.30pm, Datuk (Anbalagan) told me to wait in the car while he went to the house built for the workers. Fifteen minutes later, I heard him screaming.

“When I got out of the car, I saw him running out of the house and being chased by a man with a parang,” Siti Aminah Mohd Amran, 24, said.

She said Anbalagan collapsed in the temple and the man slashed him until he became motionless.

“I shouted for help and two workers came rushing out, but they were too terrified to approach the attacker.

“He was slashing Datuk repeatedly for almost three minutes,” she said.

She added that the man stared at her before taking the valuables and driving off in Anbalagan's Mitsubishi Storm.

Siti Aminah said she was puzzled over the motive of the attack, saying the man had worked for Anbalagan for slightly over a year.

It was learnt that Anbalagan had amassed his wealth via property investments as well oil palm plantations

The atmosphere at Anbalagan's home in Shah Alam was sombre as relatives and friends were left stunned by the senseless murder.

They described Anbalagan as a rags-to-riches millionaire, who had worked hard throughout his life.

“He went to the Himalayas twice to perform prayers. He was a religious man,” a relative said.

Anbalagan leaves behind wife Thelagam Arumugam, 48, and daughter Sri Ananthavalli, 11.

The daughter said she last saw her father on Sunday night just before going to bed and he told her to “take care”.

PM Hopes Minimum Wage Policy Can Be In Place By Year End

SUBANG JAYA, June 14 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today he hoped a minimum wage policy could be implemented by year end.

He said that he was informed by the Human Resource Ministry that the National Wage Consultation Council Bill 2011 would be presented to the Cabinet for a decision before it is tabled at the current Parliament sitting.

"If passed (by Parliament), we will set up the council. I hope by year end the minimum wage policy can be in place," he said when addressing Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) members at a dinner here Tuesday night.

Also present were MTUC president Mohd Khalid Atan, Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Maznah Mazlan and Umno Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin.

Najib said besides the policy, several other matters like cost of living allowance (Cola), retirement and foreign workers which were raised by Mohd Khalid in the latter's speech would also be referred to the council to be studied in detail.

"What was raised by the MTUC president has the government's support and needs to be pursued. If the council feels they are justified, they will be brought to the Human Resource Minister for consideration so that the appropriate decisions can be taken for the good of all," he said.

He said the government had taken several initiatives that showed its caring attitude with examples being the salary hikes for postmen and security guards.

Najib also praised the umbrella union for private sector employees for the role it played in helping Malaysia to be where it is today.

"To the 12 million workers in the country, I congratulate you for the success in transforming Malaysia from an agricultural state to a modern industrialised nation within a generation," he said, adding that their next challenge was to join the government in making the country a high income nation by 2020.

He said the days of confrontational positions between unions and employers like in the 60s and 70s were long gone and that today it was symbiotic relationships that produced the best results for everyone.

At the function, Najib also launched a complaints portal for workers that was developed in collaboration with Umno Youth.

Syrian forces head for second northern protest town



(Reuters) - Syrian troops using tanks and helicopters pushed toward a northern town Tuesday after arresting hundreds of people in villages near Jisr al-Shughour, residents said, as more refugees fled to Turkey.

More than 8,500 Syrians have sought shelter across the border to escape President Bashar al-Assad's latest military drive to crush protests demanding political change in a country ruled by the Assad dynasty for the last 41 years.

Thousands more people are living rough just inside Syria.

Dozens of refugees with mud covering their boots and clothes clambered to a Turkish village to find bread for families waiting across the border in Syria in sodden make-shift camps.

Reuters footage showed refugees on the Syrian side of the border trying to dry rain-sodden blankets, children washing in buckets of rain water, and people lying under plastic sheets.

"We are desperate here. We are under the rain, our children are sick. We have no medicine and no food," said a crying woman with a baby lying next to her.

Most of the refugees came from Jisr al-Shughour, 20 km (12 miles) from the border, where authorities say 120 security personnel were killed by gunmen 10 days ago. Some activists say deserting troops and residents clashed with security forces.

The army retook the rebellious town Sunday and appeared to be moving toward the town of Maarat al-Numaan, which straddles the main north-south highway linking Damascus with the second city of Aleppo and has also been the scene of protests.

The government says the three-month-old protests are part of a conspiracy backed by foreign powers to sow sectarian strife. Syria has banned most foreign correspondents, making it difficult to verify accounts of events.

Othman al-Bedeiwi, a pharmacy professor in Maarat al-Numaan, told Reuters by telephone that helicopters had been ferrying troops to a camp in Wadi al-Deif, several km from the town.

"We met the (provincial) governor today and he assured us that the army will go in only to arrest 360 people it has on a list," he said. "The people of Maarat, however, are skeptical."

"My name is on the list to be arrested as being a gunman. I never carried a weapon in my life."

REFUGEES

Turkey has set up four refugee camps just inside its borders and the state-run Anatolian news agency said Tuesday authorities might provide more. It said the number of refugees had reached 8,538, more than half of them children.

Anatolian also reported that Assad phoned Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on his election victory two days ago. It said the Turkish leader told Assad to avoid using violence against his people and to launch reforms as soon as possible.

Erdogan, who has had a close rapport with Assad, had said before being re-elected that once the election was over he would be talking to Assad in a "very different manner."

Syrian rights groups say 1,300 civilians have been killed since the start of the uprising in March. One group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says more than 300 soldiers and police have also been killed.

Assad, who inherited power when his father died in 2000, has offered some concessions aimed at appeasing protesters, lifting a 48-year state of emergency and promising a national dialogue, but many activists have dismissed those steps.

France, with British support, has led efforts for the United Nations Security Council to condemn Assad's repression of the protests but Russia and China have suggested they might use their veto power to kill the resolution.

"France wants the UN Security Council to take a stance on the intolerable situation in Syria and the lack of restraint being shown by the authorities in Damascus," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
"We regret that a consensus has not been reached within the Council," he added, describing the death toll and reports of torture and rights violations as "catastrophic."

The West's response has also been tempered by fears of regional instability if Syria, an ally of Iran and supporter of militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, is tipped into turmoil.

The United States has urged Assad to lead a transition to democracy or "step aside," but unlike France it has not yet declared that Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule.

"What happened there over the weekend and what continues to occur is absolutely revolting, and we condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest possible terms," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner, referring to events in Jisr al-Shughour.

Iran, which crushed its own anti-government protests after the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, accused the United States and Israel of "provoking terrorist groups in Syria and in the region to carry out terrorist and sabotage operations."

Lebanese opposition politician Faris Saeed said Lebanon's new government, announced Monday and dominated by allies of Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah, was designed to "help the Syrian regime from Lebanon...to control the uprising in Syria."

He said Lebanon, which currently sits on the Security Council, would oppose sanctions or resolutions condemning Assad, who retains considerable influence in Lebanon despite pulling troops out six years ago under international pressure.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said the movement supports Assad and the removal of his government would only serve U.S. and Israeli interests.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Guvecci, Turkey and Ece Toksabay and Simon Cameron-Moore in Istanbul, Yara Bayoumy in Beirut, Nick Vinocur in Paris; Writing by Dominic Evans, editing by Tim Pearce)

Marriage rooted in mutual respect not bedroom KPIs

By Amelia Vijayamala,
The Malaysiakini June 4 article 'Club to coach wives to be 'whores in bed'' that has drawn a lot of controversy. Thankfully, many women have voiced strong disagreement with the club.

Even the Syarie Lawyers Association (PGSM) deputy president Musa Awang in another Malaysiakini article dated June 8 titled 'Syarie lawyers: Wives are not mere sex objects' expressed outrage at such a move.

To me, such a club reflects a negative view - that Muslim wives have on the whole not been obedient.

I can only guess at the deep hurt felt by these wives because of the harsh criticisms and I feel for them. Little do men realise that every wife yearns for her husband's nurturing, permanent affection and respect.

Her wish is that he would love and cherish her, respect and value her and truly see her for who she really is. She is not a sex object to be used. She is a human being, created by God to partner man. She is different from man but his equal.

As a Christian wife, I hold very dear the truth that I am created by my maker and He has given me the creative potential to live out my life as a woman with dignity and honour.

My faith commands me to submit to my husband as the head of our home. I am to love, honour, respect and please him, and be his helpmate and companion.

My faith also commands my husband as the head of the home to love, respect, honour and protect me. He knows the success of our marriage relationship rests just as much upon his shoulders as on mine.

As his wife, I seek to submit to him because I love him and to honour God's command, not because I need to keep my husband by my side and stop him from straying. Do I consistently fulfill the requirements of my wifely role? No, I am painfully aware that I do not, but I am still learning...really!

Is my husband always totally pleased with me? I dare not make such a claim, but I do know he is also learning to understand my struggles and help me.

Is my husband always a good example of a leader of the home as required by our faith? Not always, but he is getting better at it every day and I love him all the more as I see him do his part and I see his progress.

The beautiful thing is that I am assured of my own value and worth. I know they are not pegged to my performance in the bedroom or elsewhere but come from my understanding of how I have been given life by God, my certainty of my identity. I also know I am most valuable to God.

Yes, I know I don't quite 'make the mark' at times. I am often not at my best and I am pretty sure I do disappoint my husband at one time or another. While he may express his displeasure with me, I am still assured that my husband will not evaluate or rate me as a woman or wife accordingly.

We both know it is never our performance that keeps us in each other's hearts. We know that we will not be diminished in each other's eyes nor have any less of each other's affection when either of us fail at a task, for that does not make us failures – that is merely an event in our lives, from which we can learn together to become better.

Do we have disagreements? Of course! But when we took our marriage vows before God, we knew it meant a lifelong commitment to one another, forsaking all others. It meant serving each other, nurturing and encouraging each other to strive to be the best God created us to be. It meant there must be an abiding love for one another…a love unconditional.

It means seeking God for wisdom and strength to build our marriage upon love and respect for each other and having an open and healthy communication at all times.

God's command that a man should give himself to only one wife is really for our own protection and well-being. What could be more rested and fulfilling than to know we are safe and accepted and can give of ourselves fully to one another in such intimacy of heart, mind and body and that any betrayal of that trust cannot happen, if the marriage is rooted in love and respect for each other and true reverence for God?

My heart goes out to those who feel they need to be members of an Obedient Wives' Club. I wonder how they are coping with the humiliation and criticisms and I hope they have the strength and wisdom to see themselves as valuable human beings. And I do hope their husbands recognise their worth.

Surely love and respect for one another in a marriage must be the foundation for a stable family life and these in turn should form the very basic thread for a healthy and whole community.

Mother paraded naked in Pakistani village: Police

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani mother has been forcibly paraded naked through a village after her sons were accused of sleeping with a married neighbour who became pregnant, police said Tuesday.

Pakistan is a deeply conservative Muslim country, where women, especially in poor, rural areas, enjoy few rights, have little protection from the police and are often treated as commodities by their relatives.

The incident happened after neighbour Mohammad Salman grew suspicious that the woman's sons slept with his wife in Neelor Bala village, 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Islamabad, said police official Akhtar Nawaz.

Enraged Salman and his brothers went to confront the suspects, who were identified only as Rashid and Kazim, but they had fled, leaving behind their mother, Nawaz said.

"They dragged her out, tore up her clothes and forced her to walk naked on the street," the police official said.

"No one has come to lodge a formal complaint. Police registered a case themselves after receiving reports from local residents," he said.


An investigation is underway and two people have been taken into custody for questioning, he said. Police investigation officer Shabbir Hussain Shah said the statement of the woman, who is aged about 50, had been recorded.

Salman, who works in the eastern city of Lahore, believed that one of the brothers had got his wife pregnant while he was away from home, Shah said. Rights for women in Pakistan are bleak. The nation still remains without a domestic violence law, pending objections from a hardline Islamic party.
- The Times of India

Squats not part of procedure, Immigration to probe reports

The Singapore Straits Times reported today that both women were questioned by Malaysian immigration officials, handcuffed, thrown behind bars and made to do squats while naked. — Trekearth.com pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — The Johor Immigration Department said today it would probe reports that two Singaporean women were made to do squats in the nude, while pointing out that such a punishment was not prescribed under the law.


It was reported in the Singapore Straits Times today that the two women who drove to Johor Baru for supper last week were questioned by Malaysian immigration officials, handcuffed, thrown behind bars and made to do squats while naked.

The two women said they had driven into Johor Baru without getting their passports stamped, through an unmanned immigration lane.

Following their punishment, they were allowed to return to Singapore after 48 hours with a warning.
Now back in Singapore, both women say they will never go back to Malaysia.

Johor Immigration Director Mohd Nasri Ishak told The Malaysian Insider today that naked squats were not part of any procedure to punish foreigners for entering the country illegally.

“They can be fined up to RM10,000 or sent to jail for up to five years,” he said.
Mohd Nasri added that his department would conduct a probe into the matter immediately.
He pointed out that the media should not just report one party’s version of events.

“We will investigate and listen to the other party first,” he said.

One of the women, who only identified herself as Chang, said she had been driven to Johor Baru by her friend, a property agent in her late 20s, who wanted to be known only as Lim, at about 1.30am last Thursday, the Straits Times reported.

Lim was driving her new Nissan Latio. It was the first time she had driven to Malaysia, although she had been driven there before by friends, according to the Singapore newspaper.

“We just wanted to go for supper, polish my car and explore a bit,” she said. “I just bought my car a month ago, so we thought we’d make it an adventure.”

At the Malaysian immigration side of the Causeway, they drove into a lane that was not manned.
‘There wasn’t anyone at the station and the green light was on,” Lim told the Straits Times.

“I pressed the intercom and couldn’t hear anything because of the static, so I just continued driving when the barrier opened.”

Chang told the daily they drove on because they thought that Malaysia’s newly introduced biometric system — which has been in the news — would be ahead.

The women realised that they had proceeded without getting their passports stamped, and immediately did a U-turn.

By 2am, they were back at the checkpoint and explaining their mistake to the officers there. But they said the officers did not buy their story, although they pointed out that their Singapore passports would show that they had just entered Malaysia, the newspaper reported.

According to the news report, the two women were left on their own in a room for about two hours before they were taken to another meeting room at about 4am.

Chang said that at about noon last Thursday, an officer told them they would have to pay a fine of RM3,000 (S$1,200) each before they could be let off. Another officer had earlier said they could be fined up to RM10,000 and jailed for five years for illegally entering Malaysia.

The women said they signed a statement in Malay, and asked to be taken to an ATM. They waited for three hours but no one came for them, they told the newspaper.

At about 5pm, they were told that they would be transferred to the Pontian Remand Centre and held for up to 14 days.

At the remand centre, the women were handcuffed. They also had to remove their belongings before being patted down by a female officer.

“They asked us to strip, take off all our clothes and underwear, and then asked us to stand up and down while pulling our ears,” said Lim to the Straits Times.

After doing 10 squats, the women were told to put on their jeans and were given T-shirts. They were then locked in a cell three-quarters the size of a basketball court with 50 other women, mostly from Indonesia, China and the Philippines.

The women spent the night in the cell. At about 5pm the next day, they were told they would be released, and were driven in a six-seater van back to the immigration checkpoint at the Causeway where they received a warning letter.

In Parliament today, the DAP demanded that the Home Ministry respond to the reports.

Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran said that the act was “humiliating” and “ridiculous,” while Bakri MP Er Teck Hwa said the incident would give other countries the perception that Malaysia was a “lawless” country.

RM1.8 million for six Facebook pages

While the deputy tourism minister justifies the exorbitant cost, a DAP MP, however, calls it ridiculous.

KUALA LUMPUR: Close to RM1.8 million has been spent to create six Tourism Malaysia Facebook applications, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Tourism Minister James Dawos Mamit said that each application cost RM293,072 to develop, or RM1,758,432 in full.

He said this in response to questions raised by DAP-Rasah MP Anthony Loke and Umno-Tangga Batu MP Idris Haji Haron, who asked why the ministry spent such a huge amount on its social media campaign.
Mamit identified these applications as:
a) Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia
b) Citrawarna 1Malaysia
c) Karnival Jualan Mega 1Malaysia and Karnival Jualan Akhir Tahun
d) Festival Pelancongan Seni Kontemporari 1Malaysia
e) Kempen 1Malaysia Bersih, 1Malaysia
f) Fabulous Food 1Malaysia

He added that the Citrawarna 1Malaysia Facebook page attracted a total of 20,292 Facebook “likes” since its launch on May 21 this year.

Mamit said that the reason why each application cost so much was because of the tasks associated with them.

“These cover creative works, concepts and ideas, design, flash programming and coding, testing and debugging, uploading and launching of application, system server development and maintenance, development of database from the contest, campaign management and monitoring as well as online advertisements and fan recruitment in Facebook and Google,” the deputy minister said.

‘DAP’s page did not cost a sen’


This reasoning, however, was rubbished by Loke, who called it “ridiculous”.
“These are just Facebook fan pages,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby later.

Showing reporters the Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Facebook page on an Ipad, he added: “Anyone can do this. (…) Everyone knows that Facebook pages are free, and you don’t need servers or designs (for them).”

He also pointed to the Citrawarna 1Malaysia flash application, which was linked to a Facebook game.
FMT later opened the application, and found that it was a flash music rhythm game.

According to the application, players who attained high scores while playing Citrawarna 1Malaysia stood a chance to win an IPad 2.

Calling it a waste of public funds, Loke said DAP created similar Facebook fan pages and flash applications at no cost.

He said the Visit Penang Facebook page, designed by the Penang state government did not cost “a single sen”, and had gotten nearly 120,000 Facebook “likes” in the past two years.

Pencarian lelaki mirip Anwar, Wan Azizah ditawar jadi panel

Wan Azizah ditawarkan sebagai ahli panel memandangkan beliau merupakan insan paling rapat dengan Anwar dan diharap dapat membantu merungkai siapa pelaku sebenar video seks tersebut.

PETALING JAYA: Presiden PKR Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ditawar menyertai tiga ahli panel untuk menilai satu pencarian lelaki mirip Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang didakwa adalah pelaku dalam klip video seks.

Pengerusi Parti Kesejahteraan Tanah Air (Kita) Kedah Zamil Ibrahim berkata Wan Azizah ditawarkan sebagai ahli panel memandangkan beliau merupakan insan paling rapat dengan Anwar dan diharap dapat membantu merungkai siapa pelaku sebenar video seks tersebut.
Menurut Zamil, tiga panel yang diundang khas sebelum ini terdiri daripada kalangan rapat Anwar iaitu ahli perniagaan Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, Presiden Kita Datuk Zaid Ibrahim dan bekas Ketua Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK) yang juga Senator Dewan Negara Ezam Mohd Nor.

“Saya buka peluang kepada Wan Azizah untuk menjadi salah seorang pengadil dan ini merupakan satu penghormataan kepada beliau.

Beliau mengetahui luar dalam Anwar maka beliau wajar diberi peluang menjadi ahli panel.
“Sepanjang pencarian itu berlangsung saya terima hampir 300 panggilan serta e-mail dan kesemuanya hampir sama jawapannya – tiada mirip Anwar.

Namun ada lima orang pemanggil yang kata bekas Presiden Majlis Belia Malaysia Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim mirip dengan susuk dalam video klip itu.

Bila diamati klip video itu, pemanggil berkata Shuhaimi lebih muda dan dada beliau bukan seperti yang dilihat dalam klip tersebut,” katanya kepada FMT.

Individu yang berjaya membawa seseorang mirip Anwar ini akan memperoleh ganjaran berupa sebuah kereta mewah jenis Rolls Royce dan wang tunai RM10,000.

Zamil berkata tawaran yang berakhir 10 Jun lepas dilanjutkan sehingga 10 Julai depan disebabkan permintaan orang ramai.

“Kita buka tawaran ini kepada orang ramai daripada seluruh negara Asia lebih-lebih lagi Thailand. Ini kerana terdapat dakwaan video itu dibuat di Thailand.

“Kita alu-alukan pemuda atau orang ramai di Asia untuk tampil membuktikan ada susuk lain mirip Anwar ini,” katanya yang juga merupakan bekas Ketua AMK.

Pada 21 Mac lepas, trio ‘Datuk T’ yang terdiri daripada bekas Ketua Menteri Melaka, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, Bendahari Perkasa Datuk Shuib Lazim dan ahli perniagaan Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah menayangkan klip video seks di Carcosa Seri Negara.

Bagaimanapun Anwar yang memberi keterangan berhubung isu video seks di Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Dang Wangi pada 28 April lalu menafikan dakwaan individu dalam klip video itu adalah dirinya.

Developer yet to receive show-cause letter

The Selangor government has yet to send a show-cause letter to Peter Brickworks asking why it is delaying building low-cost flats for longhouse residents.

PETALING JAYA: It looks like Peter Brickworks Sdn Bhd is not keen on keeping its promise of building low-cost flats for the longhouse residents in PJS 1.
The Selangor government has drafted a show-cause letter to the developers asking why it had delayed building the flats for the residents.

“However, the letter has yet to be delivered to the developer,” Selangor state secretary Khusrin Munawi said.

Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim had instructed Khusrin to acquire three plots of land belonging to Peter Brickworks after the latter demolished two longhouses belonging to V Mahalingam and A Pushparani using a court order on June 3.

This came despite the developer’s assurance to the state government, a week earlier, that it would not demolish the houses before reaching an amicable solution with the residents.

On how soon the state could acquire the land after issuing the show-cause letter, Khusrin said the process may take some time.

He added that the show-cause letter itself would grant the developer 21 days to explain on why it had delayed building the flats for the residents.

“If the developer does not provide a satisfactory reply, then we will pursue with the land acquisition,” said Khusrin.

The 27 families residing in the area were moved from Kampung Pinang, Kampung Petaling Tin and Kampung Muniandy by Peter Brickworks, promising to build low-cost flats for them in 2003.

However, the developer failed to build the flats citing a legal hurdle, as the existing residents on the land slated for the project obtained a permanent injunction against the project.

After the developer issued eviction notices to Mahalingam and Pushparani on May 23, they demanded that the state government and the developer provide them with alternative housing and free rental until their flats were built.

Why Is Perkasa Against Bersih?


It may be that the Government takes no action against him because it considers him a clown, or even a paper tiger. Or it may be that he is actually helping the Government by opposing the Bersih 2.0 rally because the ruling party seemingly does not endorse the idea of free and fair elections. After all, the 2007 rally was partly instrumental in its loss of its two-thirds majority. The ruling party would no doubt be worried that another such rally could dim its prospects at the next general election.
 
by Kee Thuan Chye, Malaysian Digest  
MANY people have come to regard Ibrahim Ali as a clown, including Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz. One hopes Ibrahim was just talking like a clown when he recently announced that his organization, Perkasa, would oppose the planned Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9 by staging a counter-demonstration. “That means,” as he himself says, “on that day, there will be confrontation.”
This is militant talk. This is a threat to cause violence. And to add fuel to it, Ibrahim has pledge that in the event of a clash, “I will fight to the end”.
But why would Perkasa want to oppose the Bersih 2.0 rally? The rally has nothing to do with race – it is not demonstrating against Malay supremacy, which Perkasa was set up to defend. The rally is calling for electoral and institutional reform. It is calling for the electoral roll to be cleaned up, postal voting to be reformed, indelible ink to be used at elections, all political parties to be given free and fair access to the media, automatic voter registration, a minimum of 21 days for the campaign period, the strengthening of public institutions, a stop to corruption, and a stop to dirty politics.

Is Perkasa against free and fair elections? Is it against calling for a stop to corruption?

Ibrahim explains: A big demonstration like the Bersih rally, which expects to draw about 100,000 protestors, will cause chaos. It could be like the protests in the Middle East.

Ibrahim thinks people will throw stones, burn cars, and injuries will result like in Tunisia.

History has shown that this was not the case during the last Bersih rally in 2007. About 40,000 people were estimated to have taken part then, but it was an entirely peaceful rally, except when the police fired water cannons and hurled tear gas at the protestors. No one was out to throw stones or burn cars.

This time around, the rally is expected to be peaceful as well, aimed at creating awareness among Malaysians of the need for electoral reform. If no one intervened, including the police, if the permit was granted and the police kept vigil merely to pre-empt untoward incidents, there should be no harm done.

So, what Ibrahim has predicted is unfounded. Besides, his reference to Tunisia is ironic. The protests there actually brought down an unpopular and repressive regime. Is such a positive cause, like Bersih 2.0’s, to be spoken of in negative terms?

In fact, what will cause chaos is the clash that could result if Perkasa and the other NGOs he proposes to co-opt take to the streets at the same time to oppose the Bersih 2.0 rally. What he is proposing to do is the real danger. But Ibrahim knows he can get away with expressing it because he has always been untouched in the past. Many have been the times when he said things that could have caused him to be charged with sedition, but never has he been called to account for them. Last month, he said he would launch a jihad against Malaysian Christians if they tried to usurp the position of Islam, and before that, he had said other things that incited hatred against non-Malays.

It may be that the Government takes no action against him because it considers him a clown, or even a paper tiger. Or it may be that he is actually helping the Government by opposing the Bersih 2.0 rally because the ruling party seemingly does not endorse the idea of free and fair elections. After all, the 2007 rally was partly instrumental in its loss of its two-thirds majority. The ruling party would no doubt be worried that another such rally could dim its prospects at the next general election.

Whatever the reason or reasons, in the context of Ibrahim’s current pronouncement, it looks bad for the Government. Speculation has already been rife that Perkasa is actually affiliated to Umno, that it is the organization to which Umno has outsourced the job of defending Ketuanan Melayu so that Umno is not seen to be racist; now, with Perkasa going outside of its prescribed agenda and raison d’etre as an organization to oppose Bersih 2.0, it appears to be another Government stooge.

In politics, perception often takes ascendancy over reality, so even if is not true that Perkasa is affiliated to Umno, the perception that it is has now been confirmed.

Ibrahim says he is stopping the Bersih 2.0 rally in the name of democracy. This is based on his reasoning that “there are people who do not agree with this rally”. Well, fine. The people who do not agree have a right to express it publicly too. But by the same token, Bersih 2.0 has a right to stage its rally, so stopping it is actually anti-democratic.

He reportedly goes on to say that he is not worried by the expected Bersih 2.0 turnout of 100,000 people because most Malaysians will not accept the movement’s demands. If he’s not worried, then why bother to oppose it? He reasons that since Malaysia has a population of 27 million people, even if Bersih 2.0 were to bring 300,000 to the rally, there would still be 26 million plus who would not agree with it. His mathematics is okay, but his reasoning is clearly faulty and hopelessly warped.

Nazri may be right after all in calling Ibrahim Ali a clown. But even so, if there is a movement going on to campaign for reform, clowns should not be allowed to spoil the party. Especially if they are clowns who might start an unwanted fire.

PAS warns Perkasa against causing trouble


L-R: Hatta, Suhaizan and Mat Sabu
 
(Harakah Daily) - PAS leaders have warned UMNO's sister organisation Perkasa against any act of violence to thwart the planned rally on July 9 by electoral reform group Bersih.
Kuala Krai member of parliament Dr Hatta Ramli, who is also in the Bersih committee, described Perkasa's threat to disrupt the rally with its own gathering as "terrorist-like".

“We never stop Perkasa from gathering. But (we hope) it gathers to fight for (what it believes as) their right, not to stop us.

It looks like a physical war had been declared. That’s not the way, this is terrorist way,” Hatta said when met at the Parliament.

Perkasa's chief Ibrahim Ali vowed to stop the Bersih rally by countering it with a similar rally on July 9, hoping both gatherings would clash.

“(If they proceed) there will be a clash (pertembungan). If that happens, it is for the better. I cannot imagine, when they bring a big crowd and start throwing stones, burning cars...Perkasa will go down to make sure we stop (the Bersih rally)," said Ibrahim, who again invoked the term "jihad" to describe his right-wing activities.

"Jihad is to prevent bad things from happening... I have every right to stop (the rally),” he added.

Johor PAS Youth meanwhile said Ibrahim's plan to disrupt the Bersih rally was proof that Perkasa was only interested in creating trouble, and urged police to take action.

"The police with all their equipment should be able to use their wisdom to prevent any disturbance. They can ensure peace during the Bersih rally by placing policemen along the road leading to the Palace," said its leader Suhaizan Kayat, referring to Bersih leaders' plan to hand over a memorandum to the Agung on that day.

He added that if Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali (left) was interested in holding any gathering of their own, they can also be allowed to do so by using another route.

PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu said it was not up to Perkasa to determine whether chaos would happen during the Bersih rally, the second such major gathering in the city since its successful 2007 rally which saw tens of thousands demanding for electoral reforms before the general election.

Mat Sabu, saying Bersih chairperson had guaranteed the rally would be peaceful, said it was the police's job "to determine whether it is peaceful or not."

Mat Sabu also dismissed the threat from Ibrahim, while acknowledging Perkasa's right to gather.

“We will continue, Perkasa wants to do the gathering, it’s their right. But Perkasa, if you really want to do a gathering, choose a different date, as this date (July 9) we have proposed long time ago,” said Mat Sabu, who has been spearheading efforts to mobilise PAS members for the rally. Earlier at the PAS Muktamar, PAS had pledged 300,000 members to attend the rally.

Earlier, Bersih chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan said the group would not be cowed despite whatever the threats or police reports lodged.

“We will not be intimidated,” she said.

Press Release: Perpetrators of war crimes not welcomed


Image The Malaysian Bar commends the stand taken by Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz in expressing grave concern over the invitations that have been extended to President Omar al Bashir of Sudan and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, to attend the Langkawi International Dialogue next week.

Both these individuals have been condemned internationally for various atrocities.  Futhermore, Omar al Bashir is the subject of an indictment by the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), which issued a warrant for his arrest in February 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Particularly in light of the Malaysian Government’s recent announcement of its decision to ratify the Rome Statute and thus become a member of the ICC, it would be highly remiss of the government to allow someone with a record of such severe breaches of human rights, and an outstanding warrant of arrest, to be its guest.

We call on the Malaysian Government to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and the cause of international criminal justice, by effecting the withdrawal of the invitations to Robert Mugabe and Omar al Bashir.


Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar

Wujud situasi ‘menang-menang’

ImageMALAYSIA memang terkenal dengan program bantuan kemanusiaan di seluruh dunia. Lihat saja hampir semua negara yang bergolak dan ditimpa bencana, negara kita sering menawarkan diri menjadi sukarela membantu meringankan beban.

Mungkin daripada aspek kewangan, negara kita tidak sehebat negara besar lain seperti Amerika Syarikat, namun kita tidak pernah gentar biarpun mempertaruhkan nyawa demi mencapai misi bantuan kepada golongan yang memerlukannya.

Begitu juga dengan program berkaitan hak asasi manusia, negara kita lantang memperjuangkannya sehingga Malaysia terpilih menjadi ahli dalam Majlis Hak Asasi Manusia di Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (UNHCR) bagi 2010 hingga 2013.

Begitu tinggi pengiktirafan diberi kepada Malaysia, apatah lagi jika melihat latar belakang keamanan 27.5 juta penduduk berbilang kaum yang hidup aman dan penuh harmoni.
Namun bagi isu pelarian, Malaysia memilih untuk tidak menjadi ahli bagi Konvensyen 1951 (Konvensyen) dan Protokol (Protokol) 196 atas sebab tertentu.

Mengulas isu itu, Pengerusi Komuniti Hak Asasi Manusia Majlis Peguam Malaysia, Andrew Khoo Chin Hock berkata, Malaysia perlu memberi perlindungan kepada pelarian kerana tujuan mereka berhijrah adalah untuk mendapat perlindungan disebabkan ancaman keselamatan di negara asal.

“Biasanya pelarian terpaksa meninggalkan negara asal disebabkan ketakutan atau wujud ancaman keselamatan mereka di negara asal. Berdasarkan takrifan konvensyen, ancaman berkenaan disebabkan beberapa faktor termasuk nasional, agama, kewarganegaraan, pembabitan dan pandangan politik serta tidak mendapat perlindungan dari negara asal.

“Mereka terpaksa atau tiada pilihan lain kecuali berpindah ke negara lain untuk mendapat perlindungan. Oleh itu, pelarian mempunyai pengiktirafan khusus dalam undang-undang antarabangsa dengan mengambil kira hakikat tiadanya perlindungan keselamatan di negara asal.

“Keadaan ini biasanya disebabkan berlaku peperangan di negara asal seperti di Myanmar dan Afghanistan, menyebabkan mereka terpaksa melarikan diri. Ia berbeza dengan pendatang tanpa izin (Pati) kerana golongan ini berpindah ke negara lain secara sukarela atas faktor ekonomi dan sebagainya,” katanya.

Andrew berpendapat, Malaysia tidak mahu menggalakkan kehadiran pelarian, menyebabkan negara tidak menjadi ahli dalam Konvensyen dan Protokol walaupun sudah 60 tahun diwujudkan.

Beliau berkata, keadaan itu mungkin disebabkan Malaysia tiada sumber mencukupi dan menepati garis panduan dalam Konvensyen dan Protokol bagi menampung pelarian.

Katanya, ini kerana, dengan mempersetujui kedua-dua perkara itu, Malaysia perlu memberi komitmen terhadap pelarian, termasuk memenuhi garis panduan dikenali sebagai hak pelarian di negara penerima, termasuk kebebasan bergerak, penempatan dan pemberian status atau identiti serta dokumen perjalanan sah.

“Golongan ini bukan akan tinggal selama-lamanya di negara penerima. Menurut Pejabat Pesuruhjaya Tinggi PBB untuk Pelarian (UNHCR), status pelarian mereka akan terbatal secara automatik dan mereka harus kembali ke tempat mereka jika keadaan negara asal stabil atau tidak lagi berlaku ancaman keselamatan.

“Namun kekacauan di negara asal memakan masa panjang, menyebabkan mereka terpaksa berada lama di sini. Oleh itu, Malaysia perlu menjaga kebajikan mereka dalam usaha meringankan beban yang mereka tanggung.

“Saya juga melihat perkara ini memberi situasi menang-menang, di mana negara kita juga memperoleh banyak kebaikan jika Malaysia memberi pengiktirafan kepada pelarian yang datang ke sini,” katanya.

Satu daripadanya ialah menunjukkan komitmen Malaysia menerusi perkongsian beban dalam menangani isu pelarian dalam konteks global. Isu pelarian adalah isu kemanusiaan yang memerlukan sokongan masyarakat antarabangsa untuk meringankan beban yang ditanggung oleh pelarian.

“Selain itu, kita juga boleh mengatasi masalah kekurangan tenaga kerja yang dihadapi ketika ini. Golongan pelarian boleh mengisi tenaga kerja di sektor seperti industri pertanian dan pembinaan yang kebanyakannya tidak mendapat sambutan di kalangan masyarakat kita.

“Pada masa sama, negara boleh mengurangkan kebergantungan kepada tenaga buruh asing serta banyak kos, terutama perbelanjaan membawa tenaga asing dari luar untuk bekerja dalam negara kita. Ini kerana pelarian biasanya datang sendiri ke negara kita.

“Bayangkan sekarang jumlah pelarian di negara kita kini mencecah 100,000 orang, ia satu sumber potensi tenaga buruh yang besar, lebih-lebih lagi pertumbuhan ekonomi pesat memerlukan tenaga kerja ramai,” katanya.

Difahamkan, ada juga pelarian mempunyai latar pendidikan tinggi serta mampu bekerja di sektor profesional. Bukan mengambil kesempatan dalam kesusahan hidup mereka, tetapi negara boleh mendapat tenaga kerja yang baik dan pada masa sama membantu pelarian menjana kewangan sendiri tanpa mengharapkan ihsan dan bantuan semata-mata.

Jika Malaysia mengiktiraf Konvensyen dan Protokol, pelarian tidak akan ditahan ketika operasi berkaitan migrasi haram sebelum dihantar ke depoh tahanan Jabatan Imigresen.

Kebanyakan depoh tahanan di negara kita melebihi kapasiti umum, menyebabkan tahanan terpaksa tinggal dalam keadaan sesak serta berdepan pelbagai masalah, terutama ancaman penyakit.

Justeru, dengan pengiktirafan status mereka, pelarian tidak akan ditahan pihak berkuasa, sekali gus mengurangkan kapasiti tahanan di depoh Pati. Ia juga dapat menjimatkan perbelanjaan kerajaan, khususnya dalam mengurus depoh tahanan itu.

“Namun kini, kebanyakan nasib pelarian di negara kita tidak terbela. Mereka sering dieksploitasi oleh pihak tidak bertanggungjawab. Oleh kerana pelarian tidak diiktiraf di negara kita, mereka tidak boleh berbuat apa-apa sepanjang berada di sini, disebabkan mereka tiada hak kebebasan bergerak, mendapat tempat tinggal serta bekerja.

“Ada antara mereka terpaksa bekerja di ‘pasaran gelap’ iaitu bekerja secara tidak formal. Oleh itu, pengeksploitasian sering berlaku ke atas mereka seperti tidak dibayar gaji, kerja lebih masa dan sebagainya. Pelarian pula tiada pilihan kecuali menerima keadaan itu, selain tidak dapat membuat aduan kepada pihak berwajib memandangkan status pelarian yang tidak diiktiraf.

“Malah ada sebahagiannya terpaksa terbabit dengan kegiatan jenayah dan masalah sosial seperti pelacuran dan kongsi gelap akibat ditipu atau tiada pilihan kerana tidak boleh bekerja di tempat lain,” katanya.

Selain isu pekerjaan dan kebebasan bergerak, golongan ini juga berdepan masalah pendidikan. Difahamkan, satu pertiga daripada jumlah pelarian di Malaysia adalah golongan kanak-kanak pada tahap persekolahan.

Jika mahu menghantar ke sekolah, ramai pelarian tidak mampu disebabkan tiada pekerjaan dan pendapatan mencukupi untuk menampung kehidupan seharian.

>>Konvensyen 1951

Menggariskan variasi hak yang perlu diberi kepada golongan pelarian, termasuk kebebasan beragama dan bergerak, hak untuk bekerja, pendidikan dan dokumen perjalanan. Elemen terpenting, negara penerima tidak boleh menghantar pulang pelarian ke negara asal kerana mereka akan berdepan ancaman keselamatan di negara asal.

Bagaimanapun, interpretasi konvensyen ini terhad kepada pelarian Eropah sebelum Januari 1951 berikutan Perang Dunia Kedua pada 1945 dan mengorbankan hampir 60 juta orang.

Ia adalah konvensyen pertama bagi melindungi aspek fundamental pelarian. Ia juga menggariskan satu set hak asasi manusia yang perlu diberi kepada pelarian, selain satu rangsangan kepada kepentingan kerjasama antarabangsa.


>>Protokol 1967

Merujuk kepada instrumen perundangan antarabangsa berkaitan perlindungan pelarian yang diwujudkan bagi menyelesaikan keterbatasan interpretasi dalam konteks geografi (Eropah) dan waktu kejadian yang berlaku sebelum 1951 seperti yang terkandung dalam Konvensyen 1951.


Antara hak pelarian

•Tidak boleh dihantar pulang secara paksa ke negara lain, termasuk negara asal yang mana mereka berkemungkinan berdepan ancaman bahaya

•Pengecualian atau pembebasan daripada sebarang bentuk hukuman kerana memasuki wilayah atau kawasan di negara ahli secara tidak sah

•Hak untuk mendapat pekerjaan, penempatan, pendidikan, bantuan umum atau sokongan, kebebasan beragama dan akses kepada pengadilan, kebebasan bergerak serta diberi status atau identiti serta dokumen perjalanan sah

FAKTA

•Setakat April 2011, seramai 94,300 pelarian dan pemohon perlindungan berdaftar dengan UNHCR di Malaysia

•Seramai 86,700 dari Myanmar, iaitu 36,200 suku Chin, 20,800 Rohingya, 9,900 Myanmar Muslim, 3,900 Mon, 3,500 Kachin dan beberapa etnik lain

•Seramai 7,600 pelarian dan pemohon perlindungan pula dari negara lain termasuk 4,100 dari Sri Lanka, 1,100 (Somalia), 720 (Iraq) dan 490 (Afghanistan)

•Sebanyak 70 peratus pelarian dan pemohon perlindungan adalah lelaki, 30 peratus wanita manakala 18,900 berusia bawah 18 tahun

(Sumber: UNHCR di Malaysia)

Adakah Benar Kita Mahu Dataran Merdeka Menjadi Tahrir?


Salam BERSIHkan 1Malaysia,

Artikel hari ini terbit dari kesedaran yang telah lama terpendam. Bukan untuk berbicara lebih terperinci mengenai 8 tuntutan BERSIH2, tetapi untuk sama-sama fikir di manakah punca huru-hara setiap kali perhimpunan aman berlangsung.

Pertama sekali, berhubung dengan 36 laporan polis terhadap usaha perhimpunan BERSIH2 9 Julai nanti. Laporan-laporan polis yang banyak itu adalah sebenarnya suatu yang memberangsangkan malah menggalakkan lebih ramai yang akan menyertai himpunan terbesar dalam sejarah. Justeru itu, ucapan setinggi terima kasih dirakam kepada NGO dan individu yang telah membuat laporan polis. Ia bukan sahaja secara tidak langsung mempromosi event BERSIH2, malah memaklumkan pada pihak berkuasa betapa kali ini himpunan aman adalah luar jangkaan kehadirannya. Saya ulang, himpunan aman menuntut pilihanraya BERSIH dan Adil.

Pihak polis harus sedia maklum, dengan jumlah demonstran yang seramai lebih 3 ratus ribu, pastinya tindakan lebih baik untuk pihak polis dan FRU ialah dengan menjalankan tugas menjaga para demonstran, bukan memukul sepak terajang. Adalah lebih baik pihak polis mengambil langkah mengawal laluan demonstran ke Istana Negara daripada menghalang demonstran dengan gas dan air kimia.

Percayalah sekiranya perhimpunan ini dikawal dengan baik oleh pihak polis, sudah tentu semua demonstran akan sampai ke destinasi yang dituju dengan selamat. Jika polis tidak menyerbu demonstran tak tentu hala, manakan sanggup peserta demonstrasi lari masuk ke Sogo untuk berlindung? Lari masuk HQ PAS itu adalah kes berasingan. Mungkin Sogo juga akan buka seperti biasa dengan market ratus-ribu pengunjung dari seluruh negara akan berada di depan Sogo.

untuk membaca lanjut klik http://edyesdotcom.blogspot.com/2011/06/adakah-benar-kita-mahu-dataran-merdeka.html

PAS akan teruskan himpunan Bersih