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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Unearthed Kerala Temple Treasures reveal a richest Hindu Past. Who ruined this country ??


Rs. 50,000 cr worth treasure in Kerala temple

Ananthakrishan G, TNN
'Ananth Shayan Vishnu' as seen in the Padmanabha Temple
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The legend of El Dorado was definitely not set on the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. But the seven-member panel, which is drawing up a list of assets at the famed shrine here, had a feel of the lost city of gold as they set foot in one of the two secret vaults located inside the sprawling granite structure which gives the Kerala capital its name.
On Thursday, the team assisted by personnel from the fire services and archeology department opened the locks of vault A to find a narrow flight of stairs leading down to an underground granite cellar. Oxygen was pumped frequently into the chamber and artificial lighting provided to enable the observers to work inside.

Image :Sree Padmanabh Swamy
What they saw inside was startling, sources said. Gold coins dating back thousands of years, gold necklaces as long as nine feet and weighing about 2.5 kg, about one tonne of the yellow metal in the shape of rice trinkets, sticks made of the yellow metal, sack full of diamonds, gold ropes, thousands of pieces of antique jewellery studded with diamonds and emeralds, crowns and other precious stones lay scattered in the chamber marked ‘A’.
Friday threw up far more surprises in the form of 17 kg of gold coins dating back to the East IndiaCompany period, 18 coins from Napolean’s era, precious stones wrapped in silk bundles besides over 1,000 kg of gold in the form of coins and trinkets and a small elephant made of the yellow metal, sources said.
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The vetta/arattu processions of the devotees
There were also sovereigns bearing the 1772 seal indicating they were from the reign of the then native king Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma. There are a total of six vaults marked A to F in the shrine. The A and B cellars have never opened since 1872.
…………………….
Reports said the value of the recoveries so far from vault A alone may exceed over Rs 50,000 crore. This doesn’t take into account their antique value. With chamber B, yet to be opened, speculation was rife that the shrine would pip Tirupati Balaji, who too has been assessed at a little more than Rs 50,000 crore to a distant second. No official confirmation has been forthcoming on the value of the recoveries.
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Devotees thronged to see their Lord
Retired Kerala high court judges — Justice M N Krishnan and Justice C S Rajan — appointed observers by the Supreme Court said, ”It’s difficult to give an exact date about when the stock-taking would be completed. The B and E vaults remain to be opened. We think it may take another week.”
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Asked about the value of the assets, Justice Krishnan said the committee was drawing up the inventory of items and were not determining their price. The panel had set out on the job on June 27 and opened three vaults marked C, D and F till Wednesday. Assets found in these chambers were estimated to be worth over Rs 1,000 crore.
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The wealth discovery has raised questions on the shrine’s security. As of now, the internal security is managed by the temple employees, but this may be inadequate in the light of the events.
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GOD’S OWN WEALTH
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* Gold coins dating back thousands of years, gold necklaces as long as 9 feet and weighing 2.5 kg; one tonne of gold in the shape of rice trinkets; sticks made of gold, sack full of diamonds, gold ropes and thousands of pieces of jewellery studded with diamonds and emeralds.
………………….
* 17 kg of gold coins dating back to the East India Company period; 18 coins from Napolean’s era, precious stones wrapped in silk bundles besides over 1,000 kg of gold in form of coins and trinkets and a small elephant made of gold.

* The value of recoveries from vault A alone may exceed over Rs 50,000 cr. With chamber B yet to be opened, speculation is rife the shrine would pip Tirupati Balaji’s assets, which too has been assessed at over Rs 50,000 crore.

Saudi Arabia "to drive out" all Indonesian migrants

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Tension remains high between Riyadh and Jakarta in the aftermath of the beheading of an Indonesian woman in Saudi Arabia. The latter has decided to ban Indonesian workers (called Tenga Kerja Indonesia or TKI) from the country, but Indonesia had already decided to bring home the majority of its citizens migrated to Arabia, to ensure their safety.

Riyadh’s decision is effective from today. The Indonesian Minister for Human Resources Muhaimin Iskandar, however, commented on June 30 that "there is no problem, because their decision is in line with our moratorium." During a debate, he added that "they still need our TKI ... so we are not concerned about the decision to ban them."

President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono had already promulgated the decision to recall some of the Indonesian workers who have migrated to Arabia, as of August 1. Jakarta aims to protest the beheading its citizen Rubati bin Satupi, carried out by Riyadh in violation of "international standards", without even informing Indonesia (in the picture: a moment of street protests in Indonesia).

The ban affects about 1.5 million Indonesian migrants who live in Saudi on a regular basis and send home at least 2 trillion rupees a year. Experts believe that the two countries should seek a solution together, rather than take unilateral decisions.

Jumhur Hidayat, head of the Indonesian national office for the placement and safety of TKI, said the Saudi decision is in line with Indonesia to stop this migration, but fears that it "will result in many illegal TKI without official documents."

Rusdi Basalamah, Secretary General of the Indonesian TKI agency, explains that there are thousands of Indonesian workers who have already applied for a visa and are ready to leave for Saudi.

Muhammad Yunus Yamani, head of the Agency, shows that this situation creates problems for both countries, because "Saudi Arabia has a strong need of our TKI and Indonesia relies heavily on TKI remittances from abroad ".

The National Commission for Human Rights of Women believes that any travel ban will have no effect unless alternative forms of employment are created for millions of unemployed domestic workers.

President Yudhoyono is concerned, however, to ensure the effective presence abroad of the newly created body for the safety of TKIs. He notes that there are at least 200 TKI, who are domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore and Malaysia, subject to charges involving the death penalty. "20% of them – he said yesterday - are involved in murder cases, while others in case of narcotic drugs or sexual abuse." "The Task Force for the TKI should provide them legal assistance and take all steps to minimize the possibility of death sentence." "We must ensure that any death sentence is transmuted to life imprisonment."

Minister Muhaimin Iskandar noted however, that the legal protection abroad is only one problem with TKI to discuss with Riyadh. It is also necessary to mention the minimum monthly wage, which Jakarta has asked be raised to at least 11 thousand reais (around 3 thousand dollars), however, this has met with objections.

Sosilawati Murder Trial Starts Tomorrow

SHAH ALAM, July 3 (Bernama) -- The murder trial of cosmetics millionairess Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three others will commence and proceed for three months at the High Court here tomorrow.

The case, which drew nationwide publicity, will be heard before Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir with 50 witnesses expected to testify on behalf of the prosecution.

Former lawyer N. Pathmanabhan and three plantation workers T. Thilaiyagan, R. Matan and R. Khatavarayan, pleaded not guilty to the murders of Sosilawati, 47, bank officer Noorhisham Mohamad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and Sosilawati's driver, Kamaruddin Shamsuddin, 44.

They were alleged to have committed the murders at Lot 2001, Jalan Tanjung Layang, Tanjung Sepat, Banting, on Aug 30, last year.

The four were charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Ishak Mohd Yusof, Saiful Edris Zainuddin and Idham Abd Ghani make up the prosecution team, while all the accused would be represented by Manjeet Singh, Puspha Ratnam, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Datuk Ng See Teong, Ravi Nekoo and Gurbachan Singh.

The trial would alleviate to a certain extent the distress of the victims' families after a wait of almost a year for it to start. It had been reported they had been missing since Aug 30 after informing their families they were going to Banting about a land deal.

The mystery of the missing victims was cleared last Sept 12 when Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin confirmed all of them had been brutally murdered, burnt and their ashes thrown into a river.

Last Feb 21, the High Court here heard an appeal and review of sentencing on two others charged with disposing the bodies of Sosilawati, Noorhisham, Ahmad Kamil and Kamaruddin.

High Court Judge Datuk Mohtaruddin Baki increased K.Sarawanan and U.Suresh's sentences from seven to 20 years.

By the powers vested under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to review a lower court's decision, Judge Mohtaruddin found the magistrate had erred in handing down a seven-year sentence for such a 'heinous' crime.

Sarawanan, 20, and Suresh, 27, were each sentenced to 28 years in prison after they pleaded guilty at the Telok Datok Magistrate's Court on four counts of disposing evidence.

Sarawanan confessed to burning the bodies of the victims at Lot No 2001, Jalan Tanjung Layang, Tanjung Sepat, Banting on Aug 30 last year while Suresh disposed off the ashes in the Panchau River, Jalan Morib, Banting the next day.

Mohtaruddin also ordered their prison terms to run consecutively instead of concurrently as handed down in the Magistrate's Court earlier.

It is believed that the prosecution would call on Sarawanan and Suresh to testify during the proceedings.

King intervenes, tells Putrajaya, Bersih 2.0 to hold talks

Bersih leadership being cheered on last month at an assembly.
KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, moved to defuse tension tonight, advising the Najib administration and Bersih 2.0 to hold consultations over the issue of free and fair elections.

The constitutional monarch rarely issues edicts or statements but the heightened atmosphere over the past week has prompted Istana Negara's intervention.

“I urge that amid the political fervour of a section of the people to bolster democracy in our country, it must also be ensured that this demand on democracy does not bring destruction to the country.,” the King said.

He added that the people “cannot be following too much the practices in other countries, as harmony and stability are vital foundations for a country and which all quarters must protect”.

“I also urge the government to carry out everything that is entrusted to it by the people in a just and wise manner, and it is important that I as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong do not want to see this country with a plural society in a situation where there is animosity among them or a section of the people being enemies with the government, on whatever grounds.

“When any problem arises, we as a civilised society must resolve it through consultations and not follow our emotions, as the Malay saying goes, “Yang Dikejar Tak Dapat Yang Dikendong Berciciran (Not getting what we chase and spilling what we carry),” Tuanku Mizan added.

He pointed out that street demonstrations bring more bad than good “although the original intention is good, saying that the people should focus on “our main objective to develop this country, and not create problems that will cause the country to lag behind”

“Remember that there is no land where the rain does not fall, there is no ocean that is not turbulent.

“That is how important moderation and compromise is, which has been long been in practice by our nation’s administration,” he said, expressing confidence that Datuk Seri Najib Razak can handle the issue.
The ruler’s unprecedented intervention tonight, could well leave Bersih 2.0 and its supporters from Pakatan Rakyat (PR), in a lurch, for going ahead with the rally can be seen as a direct affront to the palace.

At the same time, the King’s text, which is usually prepared by the government, could also be an indication that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government remains unsure if its strong arm tactics in attempting to stop Bersih’s march had successfully spooked the group into backing out.

To date, more than 100 people, including opposition politicians and civil society activists, have been detained in connection with Bersih 2.0’s rally while six have been placed under Emergency Ordinance (EO).

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has outlawed the loose coalition while Najib himself has openly defended the EO arrests and accused Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan of having threatened Islam in the past.

Earlier today, six Johor DAP leaders were arrested during a gotong-royong exercise in Taman Pelangi as they were garbed in yellow shirts bearing the word “Bersih” on it.

More arrests possible under Emergency Ordinance

The deputy IGP also told outsiders not to meddle in the affairs of the country.

PETALING JAYA: Police have not dismissed the possibility that more people will be arrested under the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) 1969 for subversive activities.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Abdul Khalid Abu Bakar also brushed aside claims by some groups that police were out to arrest anyone according to their whims.

“We have a law for this. We do not simply arrest – whatever action we take is based on the regulations and laws we have in Malaysia,” he said.

Yesterday, police detained Sungai Siput Member of Parliament Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj and five members of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) under the Emergency Ordinance.

To date, 152 people have been arrested under Section 27(5) of the Police Act, he said.

Meanwhile, police have received 2,500 reports from various quarters including traders, individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) throughout the country objecting to illegal street demonstrations planned for July 9.

Abdul Khalid asserted that police had sound reasons to disallow the illegal assemblies while being responsible to ensure security and wellbeing of the people.

“To outsiders who have made various comments against our action my advice is, don’t meddle in the affairs of our country,” he said.

IGP issues his warning

Meanwhile in BUTTERWORTH, Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar said the police will act according to the provisions of the law against anyone posing a threat to national security.

He said that if the rallies planned for July 9 were to go ahead, they would jeopardise national peace
and lead to chaos.

“Don’t challenge the sovereignty of the law which has been enshrined in the federal constitution. Police will take appropriate action using the law provided against anyone violating the law,” he said here today.
He also urged those intending to participate in the illegal assembly next week to abort their plan or face police action.

Ismail said police had certain strategies which could be used to maintain security.
- Bernama

Malays don’t need ‘lazy uneducated’ Umno reps

If PM Najib retains his seat in his homeground Pekan in the next general election, it will 'only' be due to his 'personal' charisma and not because Pekan Umno worked hard.

COMMENT
Umno people don’t want to work hard. What’s the point of working hard when you don’t know whether you are contesting or not.

Maybe the Umno leaders have forgotten the bad habits of Umno people. They only work hard if they have a chance at becoming wakil rakyat or a member of parliament.

Hello! Malays don’t need a wakil rakyat who is uneducated and lazy. Umno people only want to work hard if they are selected as candidates.

Take Pekan Umno for instance. It’s Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s homeground. But even here the situation is not good.

The situation in Pekan is like it was in the 1990s. The people, namely the Umno operatives, noisely gather to welcome the PM’s return to Pekan.

They come in droves to fiesta at the PM’s residence in Pekan. They party to welcome the PM and to send him back.

Apart from that Pekan Umno is deadpan silent.

‘Personal’ factor

Nobody wants to do more because even if you do more the boss cannot see. What is more important is to ‘show’ we are working hard and that too only if the boss is aware and knows you are working.

So if Najib wins in Pekan, it won’t be because Pekan Umno worked hard. It will be merely because of Najib’s ‘personal’ factor.

His body alone is worth half the votes in Pekan. The balance will come from donations and gifts forwarded here and there.

Maybe this is the reason why the Pekan Umno information unit is inactive. Perhaps it sees no need to be active.

By the way, it’s infromation chief wants to be a candidate.

And if there is an indication of a possible candidacy for him then he is prepared to work 26 hours a day.
Getting into Kuala Lumpur from Pekan you hear tales of disappointment at the performance of the Pekan Umno information chief.

I dare speak about Pekan Umno division because I come from there. And I follow the division’s development.

Important to note is the fact that the division’s treasurer is busy soliciting donations and funds presumably to boost the division’s coffers.

This, so that the division can pay workers and soldiers to do their job during the elections.
If this is happening in the PM’s own division, it means it is being done elsewhere too. That I can guarantee.
In which case what has happened to our Umno?

This is an excerpt from the writer’s sakmongkolak47 blog. The writer is also an FMT columnist

Ordinan Darurat hina amalan demokrasi

Menurut Anwar, sejak beberapa hari ini pihak pemerintah cuba memintal fitnah dengan mengaitkan tuntutan pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil dengan gerakan subversif.

PETALING JAYA: Penahanan Ahli Parlimen Sungai Siput Dr Michael Jeyakumar di bawah Ordinan Darurat merupakan suatu penghinaan terhadap amalan demokrasi dan institusi Parlimen di negara ini.

Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, beliau selaku Ahli Parlimen yang dipilih berhak menyuarakan hasrat rakyat yang mahukan pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil.

Menurut Anwar, sejak beberapa hari ini pihak pemerintah cuba memintal fitnah dengan mengaitkan tuntutan pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil dengan gerakan subversif.

“Sedangkan sudah beberapa kali Sekretariat Bersih menegaskan perhimpunan yang bakal diadakan pada Sabtu ini merupakan perhimpunan aman.

“Malahan Sekretariat Bersih sedaya upaya berbincang dengan pemerintah agar tuntutan berkaitan pilihan raya dapat dilaksanakan,” kata Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh itu dalam satu kenyataan media hari ini.
Namun demikian kata Anwar, gesaan dan tuntutan itu ditolak dengan penuh keangkuhan. Sewajarnya pemerintah tidak perlu gentar dengan tuntutan yang diharap dapat membawa kebaikan buat rakyat dan negara Malaysia.

“Saya menggesa pemerintah dengan segera membebaskan semua yang ditahan kerana dituduh terlibat dengan Bersih termasuk Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj dan lima yang lain,” katanya.

Beliau mendesak pemerintah menghormati dan mematuhi prinsip Kedaulatan Undang-Undang serta Perlembagaan sepertimana yang termaktub dalam Perkara 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Semalam, Dr Michael Jeyakumar dan bersama lima aktivis Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) yang dibebaskan selepas direman selama tujuh hari ditahan semula di Butterworth di bawah Seksyen 3(1) dan Seksyen 4(1) Ordinan Darurat (EO) 1969.

Lima aktivis PSM yang ditahan semula bersama Dr Michael Jeyakumar ialah M Saraswathy, Choo Chon Kai, M Sukumaran, A Letchumanan dan R Sarathbabu.

Peruntukan tersebut membolehkan pihak berkuasa menahan individu terbabit selama 60 hari tanpa bicara.

Malaysians abroad calls for end to repressive crackdown in Malaysia


PRESS RELEASE- Bersih 2.0 Global Solidarity Network
The events unfolding in Malaysia in the lead up to a rally calling for electoral reform on 9 July 2011, by Bersih 2.0, a civil society coalition,  have jarred a nerve with many Malaysians living abroad.
In the wake of the government crackdown, over the last week, of the legitimate rights of the Malaysian people to peacefully demonstrate, a Bersih 2.0 Global Solidarity Network has sprung up with co-ordinated action and support developing in Australia, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Austria and United States to date.

Global solidarity walks and demonstrations have been planned on the 9th of July 2011 in London, Taiwan, Sydney, Melbourne, Cranberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington in the pursuit of clean and fair elections in Malaysia.

Since the 24th of June 2011, more than 100 activists have been arrested or questioned by police for their role and participation in activities related to the mass rally calling for electoral reform on the 9th of July 2011. Most recently, on the 2nd of July 2011, six people arrested on the 25th of June 2011 in Penang were re-arrested under the Emergency Ordinance a law which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

We believe the incidents above are clearly politically motivated and are aimed at intimidating the Bersih 2.0 organisers, political activists and the wider public from going ahead with the planned rally on the 9th of July.  This crackdown shows an utter disregard for freedom of peaceful expression and assembly, a right which is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and  under Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution. We believe by continuing these scare tactics, the Malaysian government is seriously damaging the country’s reputation abroad.

There remains a growing concern that the government and associated right wing groups such as PERKASA and PERKIDA might attempt to orchestrate violence at the peaceful rally and use it as an opportunity to arrest many human rights activists and opposition leaders under Malaysia's notorious Internal Security Act that allows for indefinite detention without trial.

We call on the Malaysian government to:
•    Release all activists who have been arrested immediately and unconditionally and drop all unfounded charges against them;
•    Ensure all those detained have access to lawyers, their family members and any medical care they may require;
•    Stop the use of repressive laws such as the Emergency Ordinance, Police Act and Sedition laws to criminalize peaceful political activities;
•    Respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly
•    Conduct itself in a manner that is befitting of a member of the UN Human Rights Council and in doing so earn the respect of the international community and the Malaysian people it serves.

Please take positive action and attend a solidarity walk near you.

Bersih 2.0  Australia

Canberra's Update:


Event Page - https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164833410249161
Date: 9th July
Venue: Parliament Front Entrance

Time: 12.30pm

If you need transport, please be at Davey Lodge at 12.00pm. Please wear yellow and bring cameras along with you to capture this historical moment. Apart from the photo session, we will be having a small picnic with the organizers so may bring some simple things to share (chips, biscuits, fruits, soft drinks, etc)

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Sydney's Update:

Event page - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125777650841738

Date: 9th July

Venue: Sydney CBD Town Hall

Join us to support BERSIH. For democratic, for clean & fair elections, for a better Malaysia.

***********************************************************
Melbourne's Update:

Event page - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=197771980273705

Date: 9th July

Venue: Federation Square

Time: 1.30pm

***********************************************************

Perth's Update:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=193179104064996

Date: 9th of July

Venue: Malaysian Consulate-General, 252 Adelaide Terrace, Perth, Australia

Time: 1.30pm

***********************************************************
Adelaide's Update:

Fan Page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bersih-20-Adelaide/247082418638582?sk=wall
Event page - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=234301723260692

Date: 9th of July

Venue: Victoria square, Adelaide (opposite hilton adelaide, near the victoria water fountains)

Time: 2pm

FELLOW MALAYSIANS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN BRINGING IN CHANGE ARE MOST WELCOME TO JOIN!!

***********************************************************
Brisbane's Update:

Event Page - https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=115134585242627

Date: 9th July

Venue: Brisbane Square

Time: 1.30pm

Let's join us to support BERSIH. For democratic, for clean & fair elections, for a better Malaysia.


***********************************************************

Bersih 2.0 London

Date : 9th July 2011

Time: 12-2pm

Location :  Meet Malaysian High Commission, Belgrave Square at 12pm sharp
                  (nearest Tube Station Hyde Park Corner)
                  12.20-2pm Solidarity Walk ending at Trafalgar Square

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Bersih-20-UK-Walk/111909382231134

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Bersih Taiwan

Date : 9 Julai 2011

Time : 2.00pm

Location :  The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Liberty Square,Taipei
...
Please try to wear yellow clothing and bring your umbrella
請各位身穿黃色衣服,並攜帶雨具。歡迎大家自行攜帶符合集會主題的訴求工具(如海報、大字報、布條等)

以下為當日的主要流程,另外我們也歡迎提供對流程的意見:

1. 向出席者説明主辦此次集會的目的與意義
2. 念訴求
3. 輪番演講(如莊迪澎先生)
4. 現場交流
5. 出席者簽備忘錄(將交到馬來西亞駐台辦事處)

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=192990560751119

************************************************************

Bersih 2.0 USA

San Francisco’s update

Date: 9th July 2011

Time: 9.30-12.20pm

            Location : Chrissy Field Picnic Area (near Warming Hut), Presidio, San
            Francisco

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=213741041997443

************************************************************
Los Angeles Update

Date : 9th July 2011

           Time  : 10:00 - 13:00

           Location : Pershing Square, Downtown LA  532 South Olive Street
                            Los Angeles, CA

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=113221532103019&ref=ts

***********************************************************
New York City Update

Date :  9th July 2011
            Time : 10:00 - 13:00

           Location  : Consulate General of Malaysia , 313 East 43rd Street ,New York, NY

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=181904048529782

***********************************************************
Washington

Date : 9th July 2011

Time  : 14:00 - 17:00

Location : Embassy of Malaysia, Washington ,3516 International Court Northwest, Washington, DC

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=222120537822082
**********************************************************

Bersih 2.0 Paris

Date : Saturday 9th July 2011
Time : 2-4pm
Place: Place du Trocadéro, 75016 Paris
Metro: Trocadéro (lines 6 and 9)

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=166717446726635

************************************************************
Background

Despite the Malaysian government working hard to sell Malaysia as a tourist destination and being a member of the UN Human Rights Council, it remains clear that its dismal human rights record leaves much to be desired.  The Malaysian people continue to find their civil liberties and basic human rights curtailed on a daily basis by a range of repressive laws. Corruption and a lack of government accountability and transparency continue to be seen as real problems by many Malaysians.

One of the biggest threats to developing a mature democracy in Malaysia is the impediments to free and fair elections. Malaysia's elections are frequently marred by gerrymandering, money politics, phantom voters, voter buying, rigging and various other fraudulent practises. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has in two recent by-elections been caught on video offering millions of ringgit to voters in exchange for their votes.

In 2005, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) was formed. It is comprised of Malaysian civic and human rights organisations campaigning for electoral reforms and independent monitoring of elections in the country. Bersih 2.0 plans to hold a mass rally on 9 July 2011 to demand, among others, fair access of all political parties to the media, reform of the discriminatory postal ballots system and a revision of the electoral roll to address irregularities for the upcoming 13th General Elections to be held in mid-2012. A similar rally in 2007 attracted over 40,000 supporters and was conducted in a peaceful and organized manner. It was re-launched in 2010 as BERSIH 2.0, still with eight (8) basic demands, which including (1) cleaning up the electoral roll (2) Reform the postal ballot (3) Use indelible ink (4) Minimum 21 days campaign period (50 Free and fair access to media (6) Strengthening public institutions (7) Stop corruption (8) Stop dirty politics.

On the 25th of June 2011, 30 activists from the Parti Sosialis Malaysia were arrested by the police in Kepala Batas, Penang. They were accused of ‘reviving the communist ideology’ and have been remanded under Section 122 of the Penal Code for “waging war against the King.

On the 27th of June 2011, the chairperson of Bersih 2.0, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and poet Datuk A. Samad Said were summoned to the Dang Wangi police station. Both are being investigated under Section 27(5) of the Malaysian Police Act for organising an “unlawful assembly” and Section 27(5) of the Sedition Act.

On the 29th of June 2011, police officers from the Selangor State Headquarters raided the office of the the Bersih 2.0 Secretariat without a warrant. They arrested 7 people and confiscated laptops, cameras as well as materials prepared for the rally including t-shirts, leaflets, banners and placards.  On the 30th of June 2011, police arrested four people in Ipoh, including a member of parliament and state assemblyman, while they were meeting voters wearing yellow clothes, the official colour of the Bersih movement. On the 2nd of July, six of those arrested were charged under the Emergency Ordinance, a law that allows for indefinite detention without trial.


Press contact :
Josef Roy
Tel : ++ 44 (0) 794260804

Yolanda Augustin
Tel : ++ 44 (0) 7894319056

Email: bersih2.0global@gmail.com

Putting it in perspective



I repeat: politicians can never be trusted. They never serve the Rakyat’s interest. We, the Rakyat, have to take matters into our own hands. We need electoral reforms. So we need BERSIH to be able to bring about those electoral reforms. It is about seeing clean, fair and free elections.
NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Stay away from illegal rally, says Sultan
(The Star) - The Sultan of Pahang has urged the people to not get involved, either directly or indirectly, in the July 9 illegal assembly.
Sultan Ahmad Shah said the assembly would only bring trouble and won't benefit the people.
'I appeal to the people not to get themselves involved in this. Whether it is bersih (clean) or dirty, as long as it is a demonstration, it is not clean,' he said after opening the new Mardi office in Muadzam Shah near here.
The Sultan added that such an assembly should not take place in Malaysia. 'I'm personally against this,' Bernama quoted him as saying. The country's 1.2 million civil servants have also been told to stay away from the rallies.
This is to safeguard the principle of 'neutrality and impartiality' of public sector employees, Public Service Department director-general Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdullah said. He said in a June 30 directive that the General Orders clearly stated that civil servants were not allowed to put their personal interests before the Government's.
Mr Abu Bakar said civil servants were not allowed to participate in any illegal activity, even after office hours. 'In fact, they cannot leave their work stations to even watch such activities being held,' he said, adding that action could also be taken against any civil servant who used government facilities for such activities.
***************************************
Muhyiddin: Opposition wants to seize power through street protest
(The Star) - The Pakatan Rakyat does not respect the mandate of the majority and chooses to use street protest to wrest power from the government said Barisan Nasional deputy chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said that it is crucial in any democracy for political parties to respect the mandate of the majority.
“The mandate of the majority must be accepted by the parties. This is a rule of democracy,” he said officiating the Federal Territories Barisan Nasional Convention Sunday.
Instead of recognising this fact, he said the opposition has disregarded the will of the majority that had voted for Barisan.
“They (opposition) does not respect the mandate of the majority but chooses to use street democracy as a means to wrest power,” he said.
He said the Barisan would oppose the opposition's dirty tactics of attempting to wrest power via street protest.
He said the opposition was using the Bersih rally as a front to cause chaos.
“We know they (opposition) are behind several non-governmental organisation to hide their dirty intentions.
“They claim the gathering is peaceful which is guaranteed by the Constitution,” he said.
However, the deputy Prime Minister said opposition claims of the country not having a free and fair democratic system is unfounded.
The opposition, he said, denied the reality of their victory in the previous general election.
“If they claim that elections in our country is not fair and dirty, it is impossible for the opposition to win in so many seats and control several states,” he said.
He said it was a farce for the opposition to talk about democracy when there are top leaders within Pakatan Rakyat who were appointed' to power.
***************************************
It is times like these that make me proud to be a member of the royal family. When I read what His Highness the Sultan of Pahang said it brought a tear to my eyes. Malaysia’s ten Monarchs -- the seven Sultans, the Raja of Perlis, the Yam Tuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan and the Agong -- are Islam’s Fidei Defensor.
For the uninitiated, ‘Fidei Defensor’ is Latin for ‘Defender of the Faith’ -- just as ‘Petra’ is Latin for ‘rock’ (now you know why I am stubborn and hard-headed like a rock).
It is good that sometimes the Rulers advice the Rakyat about what is the right thing to do and remind us to not do the wrong thing, especially if that particular action violates the laws or religious edicts. If it is not the Rulers who speak out then who else can speak out, especially when it concerns wrongdoings perpetuated by the Rulers themselves?
Is it not correct to say that one must be judged by one’s peers? That is how the legal system works (although Malaysia has already ended the jury system and you are now no longer judged by your peers).
My peers are fellow-bloggers so let fellow-bloggers judge me. The Rulers, on the other hand, must be judged by fellow-Rulers. You and I can’t pass judgement on the Rulers.
In the past, only God could judge Rulers as Rulers took instructions directly from God (thank God that system has since been abolished or else God will not have time for any other work with so many cases or Rulers’ misconduct to manage).
So we need the Rulers to speak out when necessary. There are many wrongdoings being committed not just by the Rakyat but also by the Rulers.
Take gambling, as an example. Never mind whether you are Muslim or Christian, gambling is haram in all religions. But many Malaysians gamble and this cause a lot of social problems. It is an even bigger problem when the Rulers themselves gamble because they are not gambling with their own money, like the Rakyat. They are gambling with our money.
Some Rulers go to the US, UK, Australia, etc., and waste millions of Ringgit in a single day at the casinos. And the government has to foot the bill for these gambling loses.
Ask the two cousins -- Hishammuddin Hussein and Najib Razak. Both their fathers were once-upon-a-time Prime Ministers of Malaysia and they know how much problems their fathers faced in trying to keep the Rulers in line. They both know how much money the government had to fork out to pay off the gambling debts of the Rulers.
So it is good that His Highness the Sultan of Pahang has spoken out and has advised us not to do anything unlawful, illegal or sinful. We need those kinds of reminders. If not many Malaysians would misbehave. And this would cost the nation millions and billions in taxpayers’ money. 
What the Deputy Prime Minister said is also very true. There are attempts to use the BERSIH march of 9th July 2011 to grab power through street demonstrations. But maybe the intelligence agencies have not correctly advised Muhyiddin on what is really happening.
He said that the opposition is using BERSIH to grab power. Actually that is not quite correct. The opposition is not using BERSIH. The Rakyat is using BERSIH.
The truth is, to us Rakyat, both the ruling party and the opposition are all the same. They are all politicians. And politicians are self-centred and serve only themselves, not the Rakyat.
Politicians can’t be trusted. History has shown us that. Look at what the Bolsheviks did in Russia. They kicked out the Tsar but became worse than the Tsar. The Tsar’s secret police murdered 6,000 dissident Russians. When the Bolsheviks took over they killed 200,000 Russians. That shows we can’t trust the politicians.
The same happened when they ousted King Louis XVI of France. More people died at the hands of the Revolutionaries than at the hands of the King.
So, no, I as the Rakyat do not trust politicians. If we have not learned from history then we must be plain dumb. And that is why I criticise the opposition as much as I criticise the ruling party. And that is why I criticise Anwar Ibrahim as much as I criticise Najib Razak. Both are politicians and we should be careful with both. 2,000 years of recorded history has shown us that.
If you are Christian, which means you probably went to church today, you would believe that Jesus Christ was crucified. And who crucified Jesus or went before the government and demanded that he be crucified? Was it not politicians who were worried that Jesus was becoming too popular and was undermining the power of the politicians?
If you are of the Muslim faith you would believe in Prophet Muhammad. And who were the ones who persecuted the Prophet and his followers? Was it not the politicians, those heading the government of Mekah, who feared that they might lose power if they did not act against the Prophet?
Yes, all through history, politicians have betrayed us and have put to death those viewed as dangerous to them, prophets included. So, no, the politicians are not behind BERSIH. We do not trust them enough to allow them to be behind BERSIH. It is the Rakyat who are behind BERSIH. And both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat better know this and had better remember this.
So Muhyiddin is wrong if he thinks that BERSIH is about making Anwar Ibrahim the next Prime Minister. I would never agree to that. I would oppose that even if every single Malaysian condemns me and alleges that I have been bought, have done a U-turn, am a turncoat, am a Trojan horse, or whatever.
I repeat: politicians can never be trusted. They never serve the Rakyat’s interest. We the Rakyat have to take matters into our own hands. We need electoral reforms. So we need BERSIH to be able to bring about those electoral reforms. It is about seeing clean, fair and free elections.
Who eventually wins that election -- Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat -- is secondary. The important thing is that whosoever it is that may win must win fairly. And if the majority of the Rakyat chooses Barisan Nasional then Barisan Nasional it will be. And if instead they choose Pakatan Rakyat then so be it. But it must be on the basis of a clean, fair and free election.
Of course, if you were to ask me whom I would vote for I will make no secret about it. I will vote for Pakatan Rakyat. But this is not about whom I support or will vote for. It is about ensuring that the election process is clean, fair and free.
Oh, and one more thing, Muhyiddin said, “If they claim that elections in our country is not fair and dirty, it is impossible for the opposition to win in so many seats and control several states.” Actually, if the elections had been clean, fair and free, the opposition would not have just won so many seats and five states, Barisan Nasional would have been kicked out totally.
So the Deputy Prime Minister’s argument is terribly flawed. The fact that the opposition won so many seats and a few states is not the yardstick to declare that Malaysia’s elections are clean, fair and free. That fact that Barisan Nasional is still in power is proof that the elections are not clean, fair and free.

Uncommon Sense with Wong Chin Huat: Bersih 2.0 – Why walk?

By Ding Jo-Ann | The Nut Graph,


THE planned Bersih 2.0 rally calling for improvements to Malaysia’s electoral system has been garnering mixed reactions. Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said police may arrest illegal demonstrators, even under the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite state detention without trial. Perkasa said they would demonstrate, too, to keep Bersih protesters from mischief. Umno Youth will march apparently to support the current democratic system and make suggestions to improve the electoral process.

Meanwhile, thousands are reportedly preparing to heed Bersih 2.0’s call to march on Saturday, 9 July 2011, despite the threat of arrests and potential harm.

Bersih rally in 2007 (Pic courtesy of theSun)

Is the march really necessary? What about having dialogue and closed-door meetings instead? How should the government handle its fear of “chaos” arising from the march? The Nut Graph asks political scientist and Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Wong Chin Huat to answer these questions.

TNG: What is the value in demonstrating for free and fair elections? The government has offered alternatives such as holding gatherings in stadiums and having meetings with the Election Commission (EC). Wouldn’t those options be less disruptive and more productive?
 
Demonstrations are free advertisement for the people. It’s about telling fellow citizens: “Hey, so many of us are here for this cause, don’t you want to join us?” It is infectious, sensitising the apathetic, emboldening the meek.

It is therefore important for demonstrations to be held in the open. Holding demonstrations in stadiums turns them into “closed-door” activities, speaking only to the converted. The rest of the public cannot see it for themselves. It makes sense for concerts to be held in stadiums which are meant to be exclusive, but not protests that aim to reach out. Having it indoors also limits the size – can you find a stadium that can accommodate 100,000 or more?

There is also no guarantee that an indoor rally will be allowed to run smoothly, without roadblocks. Ultimately, if the authorities are open to demonstrations, whether they are outdoors or indoors does not matter. If the authorities are hostile, they will find or create problems regardless of where the demonstrations are held.

As for holding meetings, Bersih has met with the EC and will continue to do so after the rally if they are sincere. But talking does not work when the public is not involved. Openness is crucial. The EC wants everything behind closed doors. They submit proposals to the cabinet and keep quiet when their proposals are shot down, leaving the public in the dark.

Bersih, on the other hand, wants the public involved. We are happy to debate with anyone from the EC or the cabinet. As the Malay saying goes: “Berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah.”

It is possible for the demonstration to be productive and not disruptive by getting the police to do their job in directing traffic and maintaining order. If you have 100,000 walking in the city centre for two hours, they will need to eat and drink. Some may go shopping before and after. Many will take public transport into the city in anticipation of the jam. So, there will be business for hawkers, restaurants, shopping malls and taxi drivers. Bersih can also help DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) clean up the street – collecting not only rubbish produced by the demonstration, but those by others, too, as we did in 2007.
The only reason the demonstration would be disruptive is if the police insist on turning this golden business opportunity for central Kuala Lumpur into a nightmare for everyone.


Anti-government demonstrations during the 2010-2011 Tunisian uprising, also known as the Jasmine Revolution (Public domain | Wiki commons)

Is the federal government’s fear of “chaos” arising out of the Bersih 2.0 assembly legitimate? What should be done to address this fear? 

The federal government is living in its own imagined nightmare. They suspect the Bersih 2.0 demonstration will turn out to be the Malaysian version of the Jasmine Revolution. Perhaps subconsciously they compare themselves with the illegitimate and corrupt rule of Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali or Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

However, as much as Bersih has criticised the flaws of the electoral process, it has committed itself to recognising the basic legitimacy of elected governments. Even for Sarawak, where the election was severely manipulated, Bersih has not called for the ousting of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud via lasting demonstrations.

My advice to the government is to stop shooting at shadows. The more you react like Ben Ali or Mubarak, the more you become one.

Addressing the fear of chaos is simple. The authorities should sit down with Bersih to negotiate the entry and exit time. Bersih has asked for two hours. If the assembly takes much longer than that, then they can spray water cannons and tear gas, as they have done in the past. They would then have public support to do so. Bersih will lose credibility. Good deal, isn’t it?

Malaysians should also indicate their willingness to join the rally en masse. Uncertainty and possibility of clashes increase at the beginning as the number of demonstrators rise, but will soon slow down, plateau, and eventually drop sharply when there is critical mass. Imagine, if two million Malaysians wore yellow, raised flags or signed up to Facebook groups supporting Bersih, can the police afford to lock down Kuala Lumpur? Mass support would get them to wake up from their self-imagined nightmare and deal with reality. On the other hand, if you stay home out of fear, what you fear may just become real!

Is it problematic that Perkasa and Umno Youth also plan to hold their own demonstrations on the same day? What role, if any, should the state play in situations such as these where multiple groups with different views intend to demonstrate simultaneously?
 
No, it shouldn’t be problematic if the police are there to maintain order and signal clearly that the troublemakers cannot act with impunity. The problem with Perkasa is not their racism; democracies must have room for all sorts of people, the stupid and crazy included. The problem is Perkasa has been given impunity. They can threaten crusades and Bukit Aman seems to okay Perkasa’s “Gerak Aman” with their ineloquent silence.

Edmund Burke said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men [and women] to do nothing.” Here, the men and women in blue are indeed doing nothing. The moment they are willing to maintain order, which is what they are paid for with taxpayers’ money, they can plan different routes for all three groups to express themselves. If anything unpleasant happens, Bukit Aman must be prepared to answer to the public before anyone else for the impunity they have effectively granted to Perkasa so far.

Anwar

Bersih 2.0 has been accused of being an opposition tool, and a remark by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim seemed to suggest that he held sway over the organisation, although he later said he was taken out of context. Is Bersih 2.0 linked with the federal opposition? Does such a perception hinder this civil society movement in what it is trying to achieve? 

Political parties would of course try to court civil society movements. The question is not why the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is keen to support Bersih to the extent that Bersih is labelled by some as their front. Rather, the question is, why doesn’t the Barisan Nasional (BN) do the same? Bersih has always invited BN leaders to attend our functions, but they have never attended. Why don’t they bother even talking to us? They are not even keen to talk, and now they complain that we talk to others too much. Isn’t this unreasonable?

Has the BN’s choice of non-engagement cost Bersih 2.0 our credibility? No, we have many agendas that might make some PR state governments uneasy, too: we want local elections, rules and regulations to restrict administrative neutrality, state funding for political parties. Our detractors can wait to see if Bersih will spare PR pressure on these issues.

We at Bersih 2.0 mean business  – that is, politics as clean business, not business as usual.

US professors stay mum on sex video

(Malaysiakini) Two American college professors who conducted facial recognition analysis on the Carcosa sex video alleged to be of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, shied away from the media after the Datuk T trial ended in a guilty verdict for the video screeners late last month.

alleged four full sex videos on youtube 290411 17During the Datuk T trial, defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah claimed that the computer science duo from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire had concluded a 99.99 percent match between the man in the video and a known photo of the PKR de facto leader.
However the professors have not return multiple requests from Malaysiakini for comment on the subject.

Of the two academics, Lorenzo Torresani, an assistant professor of computer science, has written several papers on 3-D modeling, object classification and motion styles.

The National Science Foundation Career award recipient previously worked at several industrial research labs, including Microsoft Research Cambridge, Like.com and Digital Persona.
As part of a visual learning research group at Dartmouth, Torresani studies ways to create real-world models of visual data.
Known from Osama case
Hany Farid - whose research focuses on digital forensics, image analysis, computer vision and human perception - has been teaching computer science for more than a decade.
Farid also serves as chief technology officer and co-founder of photo forensics company Fourandsix Technologies.

The go-to consultant for image authentication and forensic photographic analysis appeared in the headlines recently for debunking doctored photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse and taking a closer look at former US rep Anthony Weiner's tweeted misdeeds.

With regards to the video screen by Datuk T the results of their reports "verified the authenticity of the video, that there was no tampering or any act of superimposing and that it originated from a DVR camcorder taken from Shazryl," said deputy public prosecutor Kamalluddin Md Said when reading the facts of the case in court on June 24.

Muhammad Shafee meanwhile showed a copy of the June 4 analysis to reporters during the trial but refused to allow the document to be reproduced.

The percentage of certainty was not included in the statement of facts read out in open court and the figure was blacked out in a copy of the statement obtained by Malaysiakini.
To date there are no known reports of the professors verifying Shafee's figures mentioned in court.

What Is This Country Coming To?

by Kee Thuan Chye   
WHAT is this country coming to? Many Malaysians are asking this question in view of the numerous actions taken by the police over the past week.
 
First, they arrested 30 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, including MP for Sungai Siput Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, and are now investigating them for resurrecting Communism and waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. While on their way to a Bersih roadshow in Penang, they were arrested in Kepala Batas and found to have in their possession T-shirts bearing faces of Chin Peng and Rashid Maidin. They have been remanded for seven days.

Communism? That’s crazy talk. The Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) is long dead and gone. Chin Peng is a geriatric and Rashid Maidin is dead. The party disbanded in 1989 after signing a peace treaty with the Malaysian Government, and its members were allowed to reside in Malaysia if they chose to do so. After 22 years of its being defunct and virtually forgotten, why is Communism still a threat today?

And if it were – by some stretch of the imagination – are we to believe that this threat is manifest in these 30 PSM members among whom 14 are women, the oldest aged 64?

A friend of mine who was at the court in Penang when the 30 were brought in told me they were just “a motley crew” of people who didn’t look like they would carry a stick to fight, much less wage war against the Agong. “When I saw that, my faith in the system hit rock-bottom,” he said.

“And to see Jeyakumar in handcuffs was too much,” he added. “He alone is worth many of our people in power put together. Top scorer in exams, a doctor, a man who has dedicated his life to helping poor people – he doesn’t deserve this.”

Like my friend, I too knew Jeyakumar while at school. He was one year my junior at the Penang Free School, and I remember him well as a thoughtful, gentle person. He was soft-spoken, cerebral, and humble despite his well-to-do background.

I find it hard to believe that someone like him would wage war against the Agong. Only someone stupid or deranged would consider doing that. He might be a socialist, but that’s a far cry from being a Communist. Don’t the police and the Government know the difference? To all intents and purposes, he is probably someone who transcends labels and merely cares for the poor.

And why remand him and the others for a week? The High Court has since upheld this decision and said it is correct. Justice Zamani A Rahim said the case was serious. “It involves the security of the country, of everyone – you and me and our children.” These 30 people are so dangerous that they are a threat to us and our children?

Case number 2: Sasterawan Negara (National Laureate) A Samad Said was called in by the police and told he was being investigated for sedition because he had read part of a poem at the Bersih launch on June 19.

When has reading a poem been seditious? In any case, did it provoke an uprising afterwards?

Look at the poem. Can it threaten national security?


Unggun-bersih

Semakin lara kita didera bara –
kita laungkan juga pesan merdeka:
Demokrasi sebenderang mentari
sehasrat hajat semurni harga diri.

Lama resah kita – demokrasi luka;
lama duka kita – demokrasi lara.
Demokrasi yang angkuh, kita cemuhi;
suara bebas yang utuh, kita idami!

Dua abad lalu Sam Adams berseru
(di Boston dijirus teh ke laut biru):
Tak diperlu gempita sorak yang gebu,
diperlu hanya unggun api yang syahdu.

Kini menyalalah unggun sakti itu;
kini merebaklah nyala unggun itu.


Translation:


Cleansing Fire

Even as we are lashed by the sickening fire,
we still shout out the message of Merdeka:
Democracy as brilliant as the sun,
united in purpose as pure as self-worth.

Long have we been restless – democracy is wounded;
Long have we been sad – democracy is ill.
Democracy that is arrogant disgusts us;
We dream of a free voice that is full and strong!

Two centuries ago Sam Adams declared
(in Boston while tea was being poured into the blue sea):
No need for noisy, trivial cheering,
all that’s needed is a serene bonfire.

Light now that magic fire;
illuminate to others the flame of that fire.


Samad Said was prompted to say to the media afterwards that instead of intimidating writers, the action the police had taken against him could spur fellow writers to use the power of literature to state their views openly.

Indeed, it is time for Malaysian writers to come forward and defend what is right. All those who have been conferred the Sasterawan Negara award, like Shahnon Ahmad, Abdullah Hussain, Muhammad Haji Salleh, Noordin Hassan, Anwar Ridhwan and the newly installed Kemala should use their pen to “menyala unggun sakti” and “merebak nyalanya”.

Case number 3: More than a hundred people have been arrested for wearing Bersih T-shirts. Eight of them were among 14 people giving out the national flag at a wet market in Sungai Siput. All 14 were arrested.

But what is the offence? Which part of the law says it is an offence to wear Bersih T-shirts in public?

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has come up with the justification. “If the Bersih T-shirt is related to an illegal activity, then wearing it is illegal,” he said. Is that logical? What “illegal activity”? The Bersih rally hasn’t happened yet. Until the rally is carried out, no illegal activity has been performed yet. So how could he declare it illegal? On that score, why should it be illegal to wear a Bersih T-shirt?

As an analogy, if I were to express an intent to do something illegal, like smoking marijuana openly in public, but I haven’t done it yet, would it make sense for the police to arrest me? If they should do so, the case would be thrown out of court straight away. Doesn’t Hishammuddin, who is a lawyer himself, know that?

Case number 4: The police raided the Bersih secretariat and detained its staff members. According to Bersih, the cops did not produce a search warrant. They confiscated Bersih T-shirts, leaflets and other paraphernalia.

Why raid only the Bersih secretariat? Why not raid those of Perkasa and Umno Youth as well since they will also be holding rallies? And why did the cops not produce a search warrant but instead threaten to break open the gates?

Later that day, the announcement came from the Inspector-General of Police, Ismail Omar, that the police would not only arrest those wearing Bersih T-shirts but also those using any medium to promote the Bersih rally. “Not just T-shirts but shoes, cars, buses. If these are the tools used to encourage people to gather (illegally), this amounts to sedition,” he said.

Shoes too? Sedition? For dressing as one likes? Aren’t Malaysians allowed the freedom to dress as they like? Are there new laws that have come into place without our knowing?

Gopeng MP Lee Boon Chye was arrested for wearing a yellow T-shirt the next day. It did not even have “Bersih” printed on it, it was just a plain yellow collared T-shirt. The police told him he was arrested for illegal assembly as he was with three other people at a wet market. Two of them wore Bersih T-shirts and the third a white shirt. Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Azisman Alias said, “The shirts are evidence that they are trying to get people to take part in the illegal rally.” Is that all it takes?

What is happening to our beloved country? Is it all turning into a farce? Do we laugh or cry?

My friend in Penang was full of admiration for the 30 PSM members arrested in Kepala Batas. He said when they were marched out to face the music, they were not cowed by it. “I tell you, I never thought I would have lived to see this. Despite the situation they were in, they were shouting, ‘Hidup rakyat! Hidup rakyat!’,” he said. “I’ll never be able to forget that.”

Now the question is, will the rakyat be able to survive the power of the police? And also that of the State?

Bersih remains adamant on rally

The New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a stand-off between police and the organiser of the July 9 rally.

While police yesterday insisted that they would not allow any rally, Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk S. Ambiga insisted that they would go on.

Ambiga told the New Straits Times yesterday that they are currently mapping out a route for the march to Istana Negara.

In a meeting with police on Thursday, Ambiga had suggested that police map out the route so that they could effectively control the crowd. This was rejected by the cops in the interest of public safety.

Ambiga said this left them with no choice but to map out their own route.

"A committee has been formed for this and a meeting to discuss the route will be held soon," Ambiga said.

"We will announce the intended route to the public once it has been determined."

She said she had intended to continue their discussions with the police in hopes of achieving an amicable solution.

"But if all else fails, we will still go on with the rally until the very end, despite the police saying they will no longer negotiate with Bersih on the matter."

Ambiga said they realised they would face stiff police resistance but it will be "worth it".

"We are fighting for our fundamental rights. I believe it is an insult to the people when the police say the event will turn violent, as if we are so immature that we are incapable of holding a peaceful rally," she said.

Bersih claimed it would have 5,000 marshals who would be in charge of crowd control.

"Many of these marshals were present at Bersih's 2007 rally. They know what to expect and how to defuse tension." 

She said the intended rally was not about which political parties win in elections.

"The argument against us, that opposition had won numerous seats in past general and by-elections, therefore, the election processes are working, is irrelevant.

"The Bersih movement is about compelling reforms to ensure the results, regardless of who it favours, accurately reflect the will of the people. The rally will serve to raise public awareness."

Umno Members Reminded To Uphold Three Principles Of Political Transformation

PEKAN, July 3 (Bernama) -- Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today reminded Umno members to uphold the three principles of political transformation, namely fielding winnable candidates, having zero internal problem and being inclusive in order to win the coming general election.

The prime minister said each Umno member needed to support the winnable candidates as the selection would be made objectively and based on the people's choice.

"I don't have individuals who can be called my blue-eyed boys or blue-eyed girls. I only have my family and party colleagues, and I value friends. And whether we have achieved our KPI (Key Performance Indicators) or not, it's in the hands of the voters," he said in his adjournment speech at the annual delegates' meeting of Umno Pekan, of which he is the division chief.

Najib said Umno should also resolve all internal problems which could be the thorn in the flesh for the party.

He said those not selected as candidates (for the general election) should not feel hurt or disheartened, but should instead give their support to the candidates chosen by the party.

"Although disappointed for not getting what they want, they should not do anything at the expense of the party," he added.

Najib also said that Umno members needed to be inclusive by attending to the needs of all citizens and not party members only.

"In Pekan, for example, 42 per cent of the voters are Umno members and if each party member goes out to cast their votes, it is still not enough for a win....we need the support of every voter."

Therefore, Najib said, Umno members should be fair, kind, courteous and humble in order to win the hearts of the people.

Cries of ‘hidup rakyat’ greet news of reduced remand

After an afternoon of bad news – six political activists freed only to be re-arrested under emergency era laws – a ray of hope as dusk fell: two teens to be released tonight, a woman freed and the remaining 22 to be remanded only until Monday.
"Hidup rakyat!" they chant as trucks carrying the detainees emerge from the Butterworth Magistrates Court at sunset - Photo: Anil

After news broke that six including Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj are to be detained under an ISA-like law, Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 (or POPO), the crowd of some 100 relatives and supporters outside the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court appeared glum, fearing the worst i.e. another seven-day remand extension for the remaining 24 detainees on top of the initial seven days granted last Sunday.
Detention without trial for Dr Jeyakumar and five others after all the hard work among the marginalised they have put in? It is surreal; I still find it hard to believe this is happening. They didn’t use the ISA, which has been thoroughly discredited by now. But the emergency ordinance? It is still detention without trial – 60 days plus two years. In the past the emergency ordinance has been used on suspected criminals, drug lords and secret society members detained in Pulau Jerejak and other places.
The six political activists were re-arrested moments after being freed at the Kepala Batas Police Station. Family members spent a few minutes with them before the detainees were taken to separate cars, each with four police officers inside, two in front and two at the back. They were whisked away at high speed to Bukit Aman in two convoys, each with about half a dozen cars, blue lights flashing. The six taken away were Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, PSM deputy chairman M Saraswathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M Sugumaran,  national youth chief R Sarathbabu and Sungai Siput branch secretary A Letchumanan.
Earlier in the morning, by 8.00am, all 30 detainees had been brought to the Butterworth Magistrates Court from four police stations (the men from Penang Road and Butterworth, the teens from Sungai Dua and the women from Kepala Batas). Everyone was in court by 9.00am, but then, for reasons unknown at the time, the detainees were all transported to Kepala Batas Police Station at around 10.30am. The hearing was to to be postponed to 3.00pm. By 1.45pm the reason for this sudden turn of events became clear: six were freed at Kepala Batas only to be re-arrested under emergency laws.
A team of 22 pro bono lawyers, led by Haji Sulaiman Abdullah, had been deployed at various locations in the morning to ensure the remand hearing was properly carried out in court. When the hearing finally began at 3.00pm at the Butterworth court, lawyers Haji Sulaiman, Agatha Foo, Ravin Singh, Karen Lai and Chandrasegaran put forward their reasons why the 24 should not be remanded any further beyond the initial seven days. Sulaiman made a special plea for the release of the two minors.
The hours passed and the crowd outside the perimeter of the court – they were not allowed past the front gate – resigned themselves to the worst, their concern heightened after hearing news at 3.45pm that the Deputy IGP had announced the police were seeking further remand.
By then a dozen Pas supporters, a few in white haj caps and attired in baju Melayu, about 10 PKR supporters and half a dozen rights activists had turned up to express their solidarity with the crowd.
A Pak Haji seated on a grass verge sighed, “Allah yang maha kuasa melihat semua yang berlaku. In the afterlife, everyone has to account for what he or she has done.” He nodded in the direction of the anxious relatives of the detainees, seated on a pavement outside the court perimeter. “Lihat mereka, mereka dizalimi. What have the detainees done? They haven’t committed any serious crime like murder or armed robbery. I don’t care what race they belong to. That’s why I am here.”
A couple of men from a local taxi drivers association turned up, bringing a large bundle of nasi bungkus for the waiting relatives, many of them senior citizens, probably parents, and supporters, their faces etched with anxiety.
As the evening rays cooled the sweltering afternoon heat, news filtered out at around 6.30pm that two teenagers would be released tonight while the remaining 22 would be remanded only until Monday.
The crowd erupted jubilantly, “Hidup hidup, hidup rakyat!” And then some uncertainty. Could it really be true? Confirmation soon arrived – and the crowd celebrated.
Soon, the now familiar convoy of trucks carrying the detainees rumbled out from the heavily guarded court premises. Relatives and supporters pumped their hands in the air to more cries of “hidup rakyat!
Then the lawyers emerged – and the crowd surged forward and mobbed them, shaking their hands and expressing their gratitude. All that shuttling to and fro from Kepala Batas to Butterworth and the long and arduous wait had yielded some result.
Later, at a restaurant in a nearby hotel, I asked Haji Sulaiman what would happen to the 22 detainees on Monday.
One of three things, he replied: they may be charged, they may be freed or they may be released on police bail.
Other options don’t bear thinking.
Later, news emerged that about a hundred people had gathered outside Bukit Aman for a vigil in solidarity with the six detainees. Police warned them to disperse. Lawyers were again barred access to the detainees.
Back in Penang, a woman, Choong Mooi from Perak, was freed. The two teens also were finally released late into the night. But they, along with the other 21 detainees, will have to report at the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning to find out their fate.