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Monday, July 4, 2011

Hindraf slams EO detention

The movement takes the government and Umno to task for 'violating' the rights of the citizens as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti has condemned the re-arrest of six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members under the Emergency Ordinance and the police crackdown on Bersih 2.0 ahead of its July 9 rally.

Hindraf demanded that the authorities release all the detainees unconditionally.

The movement’s adviser N Ganesan said Umno’s gloves were coming off and the federal government was again showing its real self.

Citing the police clampdown on Hindraf after the Nov 25 rally in 2007, he said Umno, with the police’s help, was repeating it on Bersih and PSM.

The PSM six, including Sungai Siput MP Dr D Michael Jeyakumar, were re-arrested Saturday under Section 3(1) of the EO on suspicion of causing civil unrest by any means.

They were among 30 PSM leaders and members arrested by the police at the Sungai Dua toll plaza along the North-South Expressway on June 25.

They were originally remanded for a week to be investigated under Section 122 of the Penal Code for allegedly waging war against the King.

The six were released from the charge on Saturday, only to be re-arrested immediately under the EO, which is normally used to detain suspected hardcore criminals for 60 days without trial.

This was the first time the draconian law had been used against political party members, especially against a sitting MP.

‘Umno is not above the law’

“July 2, 2011 is just another black day like Dec 13, 2007 when Hindraf lawyers were detained under the draconian Internal Security Act,” said Ganesan.

He slammed the Umno government for contravening the citizens’ rights guaranteed in the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declarations of Human Rights.

He pointed out that the Federal Constitution unequivocally states that every citizen had the right to freedom of speech and expression; all citizens had the right to assemble peaceably and without arms; and all citizens had the right to form associations.

“However, Umno has mocked these rights granted and guaranteed by the Constitution,” stressed the Hindraf leader.

He said Malaysia was increasingly being run against the will of the people.

Ganesan alleged that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar acted in complicity in this and many other blatant violations of the Federal Constitution against the wishes of the people.

“Brute force is being applied to simply promote and protect the interests of Umno,” he said, adding that more repressive action would be employed in the coming days.

Ganesan reminded the Umno government that it was not above the law, and should always abide by all the provisions in the Federal Constitution.

“If Umno does not take heed of this call, Umno bears responsibility for making Malaysia a lawless nation,” he said.

African Union: Members will not cooperate with Gadhafi warrant

Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi has made clear he would not recognize the International Criminal Court's authority.(CNN) -- The African Union says its members will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, arguing that the measure jeopardizes efforts to negotiate a peace deal in the war-torn nation.

The arrest warrant "seriously complicates the efforts aimed at finding a negotiated political solution to the crisis in Libya," said a statement summarizing the countries' decision at a summit in Equatorial Guinea that ended Friday.

A three-judge panel at court in the Hague in the Netherlands issued arrest warrants June 27 for Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi.

The warrants are "for crimes against humanity," including murder and persecution, "allegedly committed across Libya" from February 15 through "at least" February 28, the court said in a statement.

The court's judges said the arrests were necessary "to ensure their appearances before the court," ensure that the three "do not continue to obstruct and endanger the court's investigations" and "prevent them from using their powers to continue the commission of crimes."

Libya is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the international court's authority, and the court does not have the power to enter Libya and arrest the leaders.

Gadhafi has made clear he would not recognize the court's authority.

Some analysts said last week that the court's move could damage efforts to get Gadhafi to end his 42-year reign, stopping him from leaving the country for fear of being prosecuted.

"In effect, the ICC arrest warrant tells Gadhafi to fight to the death," said Michael Rubin, an analyst with the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Speaking to reporters after the court issued the warrants last week, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo batted away questions from reporters about whether an ICC arrest warrant would discourage Gadhafi from stepping down.

He said the decision to investigate Gadhafi came from a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution, not the court.

The U.N. Security Council referred the matter to the ICC through a resolution February 26, following widespread complaints about Gadhafi's efforts to crush a rebellion.

In a statement Sunday, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office called on Gadhafi to end violence and leave office, noting that the NATO coalition's aim was to protect civilians, not arrange a safe exit for the Libyan leader.

"We have been clear that those responsible should be held to account. The ultimate political objective is to facilitate a transition to a stable, democratic Libya," the spokesman said in a statement. "To achieve this, Gadhafi must step down, and leave Libya to the Libyan people."

On Sunday South African President Jacob Zuma was scheduled to head to Russia for a meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya.

The situation in Libya is slated to be a top agenda item at a Russia-NATO Council meeting Monday, Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing the Kremlin.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as part of the meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi, the news agency reported.

"The sole possibility of stabilizing the situation in Libya is an immediate cease-fire and the start of talks between the internal Libyan participants in the conflict with the support of, but not interference from, outside," the Kremlin said, according to RIA Novosti.

Sri Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra :: A Global Festival for Hindu unification :: Hare Krishna !!!

Lakhs of devotees thronged and participated in Puri for Ratha Yatra – Car Festival today. Three Rathas safely reached Gundicha Temple near evening. Utter satisfaction caused to the devotees. Read here….eBS.  

Lakhs of devotees in Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra - Car Festival at Puri 2011. Current view from AP.

Sri Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra 2011 starts.

HE Correspondent from Puri || 3rd July 2011.
Famous sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik made a beautiful replica in Puri Sec beach.

Sri Sri Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra or Chariot festival of Jagannath Puri  is one of the largest religious ceremonies in Bharat (India) and the world too.  Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra  dates on 3rd July , Sunday, this year 2011. Puri Rath Yatra commemorates the significant journey of Lord Krishna from Gokula to Mathura. This annual festival is celebrated on Ashad Shukla Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashad month).

As a part of Rath Yatra, the sacred wooden idols  Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Mother Subhadra are taken out from the sanctum sanctorum of world famous Puri Jagannath temple in a large procession of millions to the Gundcha Temple and remain there for seven days. In three separate Chariots, eye balls of the devotees complete their journey in phases capturing all attentions for more than 8 hours.  Then the deities are returned again to the Puri Jagannath temple through a Return Charriot Yatra (Ultto Ratha) after observing certain rituals. The return journey in Puri is also known as Bahuda Yatra.

For the rath yatra, three huge chariots – each with about a dozen wheels up to 7 feet in diameter – are ritually pulled through the streets, from the Jagannath temple to the temple of Gundicha Mandir. The Raths are replicas of the Jagannath temple and each of them carries an idol – of Jagannath in Nandighosa Ratha, of his brother Balbhadra in Taladhwaja Ratha and his sister Subhadra in Dwarpadalana Ratha.
New painting at temple top to make a colorful celebration at Puri Rath Yatra.

Rituals of Puri Ratha yatra begins formally on Akshay Tritiya through the Chandan Yatra, when the making of the chariots and sandalwood paste offering to the deities are started.

All are now set to have a glimpses on to Lord Jagannath, with a chanting… “Jagannatha Swami, Nayana Patha Gami, Bhabatu Me” – Oh! Lord please be visible once before my eyes !!!…..

It is believed that the rebirth cycle is ceased as one sees the Lord in his Charriot at Puri Ratha Yatra. “Rathapori Vamanm dristva Punarjanma na vidyatee”…..

The Railways authority in India has arranged specials trains for Ratha Yatra Festival this year also like previous years. A big arrangements are aslo done by the respective authorities to facilitate the thousands of pilgrims already reached Sri Dham Puri. Hundreds of NGOs including Bharat Sevashram Sangha run their Seva Works for the thousands pilgrims assembled in thousands and lakhs every year.

Some 5000 devotees took part on Saturday morning, during the whole day in “Gundicha Marjan”, cleaning of Gundicha Temple premises, where the Lord Jagannath will reach in some moments with his elder brother and younger sister through the auspicious Rath Yatra, which is nothing but the direct interaction of Lord of this Universe with his devotees to get this chance in streets to the hearts.

The chariot Festival  is now considered as a major festival in the Global hindus as every continent and mojor cities are absorved with the fervor o Charot estival of lord Jagannath. ISKCON is the main organisation  for for this. Hare Krishana !!!

Bhagwan Jagannath’s 134 Rath yatra in Ahmedabad. 

At Jagannath Mandir, Modi prays for arrival of rain

Ahmedabad, 2 July, 2011 || Courtesy : Desh Gujrat.
On the eve of Bhagwan Jagannath’s 134 Rath yatra in Ahmedabad, Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi today visited the Mandir and received blessings of Mahant Shri Dilipdasji Maharaj. Shri Modi expressed hope that Bhagwan Jagannath’s blessings will shower on Gujarat in the form of arrival of monsoon and it will shower happiness over the towns, villages, poor people and farmers.
The Chief Minister further said: spiritualism is identity of India and its expression takes place through various celebrations in the country. In entire country Jagannath Puri and Ahmedabad are two places where Rath yatra takes place for last more than 100 years. Bhagwan Jagannath is the God of poor people. He is concerned about happiness and sorrows of poor people. This is therefore the festival of poor people.

Bakri MP Er Teck Hwa, 5 others arrested

Najib says Bersih can go ahead if held in a stadium

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today that the government was willing to allow the Bersih rally to proceed if it was held in a stadium.

“This is a reminder before it’s too late. If they want to submit a memorandum and so forth they can show democratic decency by cooperating with authorities.

“We are willing to provide a stadium for them to rally but why choose to protest in the streets. The government is not against them rallying in a stadium from morning until night. Just don’t hold street protest as it is very risky to the nation,” he said.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong: Call for negotiations.
Najib’s remarks come a day after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, stepped in and asked the government and Bersih to negotiate their differences.


The prime minister was addressing civil servants at his department’s monthly gathering this morning.

He pointed out that the planned July 9 rally was not a good way to find a solution to any grievance the groups have.

“The illegal rally is not intended to correct the system but is politically motivated to gain power via undemocratic means.

“Street protests will give a free ride to many people. There is no guarantee that everything will proceed peacefully. Those who love rioting and chaos will take advantage of the situation. This is what we want to avoid,” he said.

Najib’s remarks comes after the government embarked on a nationwide clampdown on Bersih 2.0, hoping to block the now-outlawed coalition’s plans for its July 9 rally.

The police have made hundreds of pre-emptive arrests, raids, confiscation of rally-related materials.
The Emergency Ordinance has been used on six Parti Sosialis Rakyat (PSM) members as well.

But Najib is risking damage to his reputation and commitment to reforms as a result of the crackdown.
Opposition politicians have accused the government of abusing the law to arrest activists and seize items related to the planned rally.

‘The army is ready to preserve peace’

However Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid urges Bersih, Perkasa and Umno Youth to heed the King's advice calling upon all to preserve the peace in the country.

KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) is prepared for any eventualities and will act if the King decrees an emergency.

“The army is always ready,” said Zahid at an event at the Defence Ministry here.

Commenting on the upcoming rallies by Bersih, Perkasa and Umno Youth this Saturday, Zahid however called upon the participants to heed the King’s statement yesterday calling upon all to preserve the peace in the country.

Yesterday, the head of state, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin issued a rare statement, amidst escalating tension among the state apparatus and the rally organisers, calling upon all parties to resolve any issues through consultation and not to succumb to emotions.

“The fact is, street demonstrations bring more harm than good although the original intention is good. Instead we should focus on our main objective to develop this country, not to create problems that will cause the country to lag behind,” said the King.

Zahid, who is also Umno vice president, said everyone concernced should heed the King’s advice and abandon their plans to demonstrate on July 9.

He also expressed confidence in the police’s capability to handle the situation.
“Be it yellow shirt or red shirt, please heed to the police instruction,”said Zahid.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) is holding a press conference later today and is expected to respond to the King’s advice.

Bersih plans to hold a massive rally on July 9 to seek a clean and fair elections.

Responding to Bersih’s rally, Malay rightwing group Perkasa said t too would be holding a counter-demonstration to oppose Bersih. Umno Youth will also be gathering on the same day to defend the Election Commission.

The police have declared all three gatherings as illegal, and have also declared Bersih as an illegal association. More than 150 people have been arrested for supporting the Bersih rally.

MP PAS kecewa khutbah diguna untuk halang Bersih

Jumaat lalu, khutbah di sekitar Wilayah Persekutuan mengharamkan umat Islam dari melibatkan diri dalam perhimpunan itu.

PETALING JAYA: Ahli parlimen PAS Shah Alam, Khalid Samad kesal kerana khutbah Jumaat digunakan untuk menghalan perhimpunan bersih Sabtu ini.
Jumaat lalu, khutbah di sekitar Wilayah Persekutuan mengharamkan umat Islam dari melibatkan diri dalam perhimpunan itu.

Hujah untuk mengharamkannya bahawa perhimpunan ini bertujuan melakukan huru-hara, tumpah darah, membawa kerosakan dan berniat untuk menjadikan keadaan negara lebih teruk dari yang sedia ada.

“Amat malang apabila mimbar masjid digunakan untuk menyebar fitnah dan tohmahan kerana pada hakikatnya Bersih  inginkan suatu pembaikkan kepada yang sedia ada melalui satu perarakan yang aman.

“Kalau ada yang inginkan huru-hara, ianya bukan Bersih. Kalau ada yang inginkan tumpah darah, ianya bukan Bersih,” katanya.

Tabur fitnah

Khalid menambah amatlah sedih apabila khutbah dipergunakan sebegini rupa da melihat mimbar digunakan untuk menabur fitnah dan dakyah demi kepentingan politik Umno/BN.

Katanya, sebenarnya umat Islam sepatutnya yang pertama bangun untuk menjadi pejuang keadilan dan kebenaran, penentang penipuan dan kezaliman.

Beliau juga menyifatkan Umno dalam keadaan kelam-kabut dan gundah-gulana dalam usaha menangani perhimpunan Bersih.

“Berdasarkan ucapan, tingkah laku dan riak wajah mereka, satu mesej jelas terpampang, iaitu ‘Bersih’ akan mengakibatkan Umno/BN tersungkur dalam pilihan raya ke-13.

“BN memahami hakikat sebenar usaha Bersih. Namun mereka tetap berusaha keras untuk menfitnah usaha Bersih dengan bermacam-macam tohmahan dan dakwaan palsu.

“Mengapa? Jawapannya mudah sahaja. BN sedar bahawa pada hakikatnya rakyat sudah tidak bersama mereka dan pilihan-raya yang bersih, tanpa penipuan undi pos, kad pengenalan palsu, monopoli media dan sebagainya, akan menghasilkan kekalahan bagi BN,” jelasnya.

WIKILEAKS: Farah Pandith’s visit shows many faces of Islam in Malaysia


In contrast, under Islamic rule citizens could be confident that rulers (who could be chosen through democratic elections, perhaps) would act within the bounds of behavior as laid out in the Koran and Sunnah, and citizens were law-abiding because of their strong religious beliefs. Asked whether his description of Islamic rule was Utopian, Zaid answered that, on the contrary, such rule had existed under the Caliphs. Realistically, Zaid concluded, Muslims in Malaysia could not expect to establish Islamic rule in the near term, nor was JIM advocating such a step, but there was a need to offer a competing vision to that of the west.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KUALA LUMPUR 001014

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

FOR EAP/MTS AND S/SRMC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAOY, PHUM, KDEM, MY
SUBJECT: FARAH PANDITH'S VISIT SHOWS MANY FACES OF ISLAM IN MALAYSIA

REF: A. KUALA LUMPUR 716 -- CANING PUNISHMENT POSTPONED
     B. KUALA LUMPUR 980 -- AMB VERVEER'S VISIT TO
        MALAYSIA

KUALA LUMP 00001014  001.2 OF 004

SUMMARY
1. (SBU) Special Representative to Muslim Communities (SRMC) Farah Pandith visited Malaysia to begin engagement with civil society and establish contacts with government officials, politicians, teachers, students, and NGOs on December 13-14.
SRMC Pandith explained her recent appointment as the Special Representative to Muslim Communities, emphasizing the President's and the Secretary’s policy of creating new partnerships  with Muslim communities around world.  SRMC Pandith was well received by the Malaysians--both as a champion of Islam and for her efforts in promoting a new relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect between the U.S. and Muslims around the world--but concerns over U.S. foreign policy remained apparent in meetings with politicians, government officials and students. 
SRMC Pandith established solid connections during her initial visit and several organizations expressed interest in remaining in contact with her.  Post hopes that she will be able to capitalize on her initial success with a return visit in 2010.  End Summary.
SISTERS IN ISLAM, SISTERS IN THOUGHT
2. (SBU) On December 13, Farah Pandith met with the pioneers of the local NGO Sisters in Islam (SIS): Zainah Anwar (Founder), Hamidah Marican (Executive Director), and Norani Othman (co-founder) and discussed a wide range of social and religious issues pertaining to Islam. 
Zainah explained that she started the organization 20 years ago out of concern that Muslim women in the country were being discriminated against, especially in issues concerning Family Law (marriage, divorces, custody), which is the purview of Syariah courts.
According to Zainah, "Everything was argued in the name of religion and no one questioned it."
3. (SBU) Sisters in Islam attracts criticism from conservative Muslim groups in Malaysia because SIS argues for fresh interpretations of the Quran, and is seen as backing a Western approach toward equal rights for women.  There have been numerous calls to ban the organization, including from the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS).  Pandith asked about SIS' relationship with GOM and civil society. 
Zainah replied that the NGO has been subject to police harassment for criticizing the caning sentence of Kartika, a Muslim woman arrested by religious police for drinking beer (reftels).
SIS is very concerned over rumors that members could face trial on sedition charges.
4. (SBU) SRMC Pandith welcomed SIS's courageous approach to issues such as women,s rights and suggested that SIS try to penetrate the Malay youth demographic by using comics and graphic novels.  SIS members were interested in the idea and requested technological assistance and further contact with Pandith.
VISIT TO MADRASAH SCHOOL
5. (U) To get closer to grassroots Muslim life in Malaysia, SRMC Pandith visited the Al-Amin Madrasah School located in Bangi, a one hour drive from Kuala Lumpur in the shadows of the National University of Malaysia, on December 14. 
Founded in 1989, this private school with 100 teachers and 893 primary and secondary students is part of a network of madrasahs comprising 35 schools and 8,000 students and is chaired by Ustaz Megat Mohamed Amin. 
Amin, who recently returned from a "life-changing" multi-regional International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on secondary and elementary education in the U.S., was instrumental in establishing in 2008 an English Language Access Microscholarship program for 60 Muslim students to learn after-school English for two years at a madrasah in the conservative state of Kelantan.
6. (U) During the discussions, a school board member noted that the madrasah taught the government-required curriculum in addition to Islamic courses.  SRMC Pandith complimented the team on its broad curriculum and encouraged sharing the model with other Muslim communities. 
In response to Ustaz Amin's comment that the school could do better in encouraging interactions with non-Muslim communities, SRMC Pandith suggested the expansion of the madrasah's social entrepreneurship-based community development projects to include non-Muslim schools in the local community.
POLITICIANS SHIFT CONVERSATION FROM ISLAM TO OBAMA, PALESTINE
7. (SBU) SRMC Pandith, DCM Rob Rapson, and Poloffs met with politicians from each of the three predominantly Muslim parties over lunch: the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the People's Justice Party (PKR), and the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS).  All three politicians agreed that Islam is compatible with democracy.  UMNO Member of Parliament (MP) Nur Jazlan stated that the ongoing "Islamization process" in Malaysia started "around 30 years ago." 
(Note: this was a thinly veiled suggestion that it started after then-Islamist activist Anwar Ibrahim joined UMNO in 1982.  End Note.) 
Jazlan stated that once the process started, UMNO and the government "could not turn back the clock" and therefore UMNO was forced to embrace Islamization.  Jazlan candidly stated if UMNO did not embrace the challenge, the party would be accused of being "un-Islamic." 
Jazlan conceded that he is not happy with what is happening, but is unable to stop it due to political considerations. 
PAS Youth Secretary General Kamaruzaman Mohamad, not a member of Parliament, added that PAS is committed to democracy until "we capture power."
8. (SBU) PKR MP Yusmadi Yusuf welcomed President Obama's Cairo speech but expressed concern from PKR leaders, including party advisor Anwar Ibrahim, that Obama seems to be "speaking on behalf of Muslims," and that this slant is not going down well among them. 
(Comment: post does not feel that this is an accurate assessment of Anwar's views.  End Comment.
Yusmadi felt that President Obama should instead address the problems in the "Muslim world" as an outsider. He nonetheless stressed that Muslims in Malaysia welcomed the new administration which he felt "is genuinely concerned" about the "Muslim world" compared to the previous administration. 
Yusmadi also suggested that the U.S. should formulate an economic model for Muslim countries which he claimed "would endear the U.S. among Muslims."  He cited Southern Thailand as a possible region to implement this economic model. 
Kamaruzaman echoed Yusmadi's view that there is a genuine optimism among Muslims over U.S. policies after the Obama administration came to power, but pointed out that Muslims will always have problems with the U.S. so long as the Palestinian issue is not resolved.  He criticized the U.S. for being a staunch and uncompromising ally of Israel.
Until the U.S. can become more of an "honest broker", said Karamuzaman, the U.S. will always be viewed with suspicion by Muslims.
RELIGIOUS MINISTRY: TOLERATING RELIGION, IF DONE THEIR WAY
9. (SBU) SRMC Pandith met with Minister for Religious Affairs Jamil Khir Baharom, who immediately reflected upon his positive experience attending graduate school in the U.S., and elaborating on the similarities between the U.S. and Malaysia. 
Jamil noted that both countries are multi-racial and commented on how other races have the freedom to celebrate their religion in Malaysia.   The Minister then went on to explain that Malaysia practices Sunni Islam exclusively, noting that Shia and Sufism are not allowed in Malaysia.  According to Jamil, "it's better to have one school of thought instead of many."
10. (SBU) The Minister noted that Islamic education is compulsory for all Muslims, starting with primary and secondary students with continuation in public universities.
He recalled the poor Islamic education system in Malaysia prior to independence and felt privileged that the Federal Government took over the education system by outlining the school syllabus and having it standardized.  The teachings also differed from one village to another, which led to different schools of thought. 
Jamil added that the Ministry of Higher Education collaborates with the Religious Affairs Department in setting up the syllabus, and now many Malaysian scholars study abroad, especially in Egypt and Jordan. 
Jamil did not elaborate on other activities that the Ministry engages in, though he did say that one of them is to monitor sermons given after Friday prayers.
ENERGIZING THE NEXT GENERATION OF GLOBAL MUSLIMS
11. (U) At a round table discussion with Islamic scholars, academics, students, Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program alumni, and a local entrepreneur, SRMC Pandith emphasized her role as convener, facilitator, and intellectual partner listening to the next generation and encouraging initiatives for the common good. 
She stressed the diversity of Islam and the desire to build relationships across Muslim communities over time and based on mutual interest and respect.  She noted the power of traditional and social media networking to spread information, expand engagement, and reach more global youth interested in positive change.
12. (U) Faisal Hassan, President of the YES Alumni Association of Malaysia, spoke of his group's diverse activities including community service and development projects (promoting peace, building leadership skills, developing English-language programs), organizing a worldwide YES Alumni Conference in Malaysia in November 2009, participating in the AFS World Congress in Kuala Lumpur in November 2009, and networking with other alumni abroad to share best practices and experiences.  SRMC Pandith encouraged YES to expand its network even further through social media and to consider working with other entrepreneurs to "scale up" their activities and have an even greater impact around the world.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP'S POSSIBILITIES AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL
13. (U) SRMC Pandith spoke about the power of entrepreneurship for Muslim communities at the roundtable, mentioning entrepreneurship not only in its traditional business context, but also in terms of innovation (technology and ideas) and social entrepreneurship (giving back through community development). 
She stressed that examples of Muslim entrepreneurship successes highlight "the good side of Muslim communities around the world."  Malaysian entrepreneur Dhakshinamoorthy "Dash" Balakrishnan, CEO of Warisan Global, shared his personal experiences at the grassroots level in hiring over 800 Malaysian Muslim graduates to engage villagers in entrepreneurial projects making greater use of the Internet and to create markets for their cottage industry products. 
He also noted the success during the recent Global Entrepreneurship Week that he organized.  He concluded that entrepreneurship has broken both mental and racial barriers and that partnership-based entrepreneurial activities have created stronger levels of trust between various communities in Malaysia.
INTERVIEW WITH FEATURES REPORTER, BERITA HARIAN
14. (U) Following her roundtable with university students and faculty, SRMC Pandith held an exclusive interview with Berita Harian, one of KL's major Malay-language dailies with nationwide weekday circulation of nearly 200,000.  In the interview, SRMC Pandith explained why she had chosen to visit Malaysia, echoing President Obama's description in his Cairo speech, of Malaysia as a "progressive Muslim-majority country" and one that must not be ignored. 
She also talked about why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is putting an emphasis on grassroots and people to people connections. She also spoke about her position as the Special Representative, her interest in convening dialogues and facilitating networking among like-minded people who support the "diversity of Islam" and want to make a difference. 
She mentioned how the U.S. sees its role as a convener and facilitator, and as an intellectual partner with Muslim communities around the world.  SRMC Pandith stressed that the U.S. is open to new ideas and mentioned her hope that proposals for undertakings between the U.S. and Malaysia can come from a renewed dialogue with Malaysians in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. 
When asked whether public perception and treatment of Muslims in the U.S. had improved since 2001, SRMC Pandith replied that "As is the case in many societies around the world) there is still a need for education about diversity and mutual respect," but stressed that "Muslims in the United States have more freedom to practice their religion than anywhere else in the world."
(Note: A feature article from this interview will be published shortly in Berita Harian's weekend edition. End note.)
JAMAH ISLAH MALAYSIA (JIM): AN NGO WITH CONSERVATIVE IDEALS
15. (SBU) At a December 14 dinner meeting with SRMC Pandith, President of the conservative Islamic NGO Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) Zaid Kamaruddin and colleagues explained that the 10,000-member organization, many of whom are spread at all levels of the government strata, was dedicated to strengthening Muslim values in Malaysia. 
He and fellow believers set up the NGO in 1982 after Anwar Ibrahim, who was then leader of the Muslim Youth Organization (ABIM) decided to join the ruling political party, UMNO.  Zaid and others thought the struggle for Muslim values had to remain outside the government. 
Zaid said JIM sought to offer an alternative vision to what he called the "liberal western" system of government that Malaysia had adopted.  Democracy was a significant achievement, but Islamic government "by God" would be better.  In addition, materialistic western values meant citizens lacked ethical discipline, so democracy required extensive regulation and a robust police force to keep society under control.
16. (SBU) In contrast, under Islamic rule citizens could be confident that rulers (who could be chosen through democratic elections, perhaps) would act within the bounds of behavior as laid out in the Koran and Sunnah, and citizens were law-abiding because of their strong religious beliefs. 
Asked whether his description of Islamic rule was Utopian, Zaid answered that, on the contrary, such rule had existed under the Caliphs.  Realistically, Zaid concluded, Muslims in Malaysia could not expect to establish Islamic rule in the near term, nor was JIM advocating such a step, but there was a need to offer a competing vision to that of the west.
17. (SBU) We asked Zaid about two current controversies in Malaysia with religious overtones:  the Catholic Herald's effort to overturn a law restricting the use of the word "Allah" to Muslims, and the pending caning of a Muslim woman, Kartika, for drinking alcohol, noting that these cases attracted attention outside of Malaysia. 
Zaid said that the law restricting the use of "Allah" was not based on Muslim beliefs, but nevertheless a law was on the books and JIM would not risk alienating other Muslim groups by defending the Catholic Herald. 
On the Kartika case, he said there should be no controversy:  she had broken Syariah law in Pahang state, and the required penalty was caning.
18. (U) SRMC Pandith cleared this cable.
KEITH

Bersih: It’s not about black or white

By Koh Lay Chin | The Nut Graph,


Still sitting on the fence?
Still sitting on the fence?

TO go yellow or not to go yellow? This seems to be the question among Malaysians these days. In cyberspace, Malaysians of all backgrounds are writing, forwarding and sharing comments and articles about the planned 9 July Bersih 2.0 march.

But what exactly are people saying about the ideas and principles behind the march itself? And why are people deciding to march or not? Are the issues clearly black or white?
To march…?

The good news is that there are definitely diverse opinions about the march. The bad news is that conversations have degenerated somewhat into an “Us” against “Them” dichotomy. If you don’t march or “go yellow”, it has been implied you may be chicken. If you do march, you are just a plain government-hating oppositionist.

It would be a mistake to assume that people against the Bersih march, or unwilling to support it fully, are all rabid Barisan Nasional supporters. There are writers and commentators in civil society who have already pointed out various reasons why they would rather not march.

Hadi Awang walking amidst others in Bersih 2007 rally (© lastsham | Wiki Commons)
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, during the Bersih 2007 rally (© lastsham | Wiki Commons)

Some are unhappy that the march has been influenced, at best, or completely hijacked, at worst, by politicians and parties. Many are convinced that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who reportedly boasted he could call off the march with a call to Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, has his tentacles in the show. Although Ambiga swiftly negated his comments and Anwar later said he was taken out of context, the fact is that many people do indeed see this as a Pakatan Rakyat-influenced show.

With parties like PAS publicly backing and promising to send thousands to the rally, and PR politicians promoting the event, many are wary or uncomfortable with the idea of aligning or marching with politicians. There are also those who are anti-Anwar, anti-Pakatan, anti-BN, or anti-Perkasa who find being lumped under one umbrella unsavoury.

Others question the impact of a usual “pass a memorandum to the Agong” march, or insist that the electoral reform agenda itself has become but a side-show.

…or not to march?

While some who choose not to march have genuine ideological dilemmas, some other reasons cited for not marching are just baffling. The most perplexing is probably the argument that protesting in the city is a nuisance to taxi drivers and businesses or could cause traffic jams.

These groups seem to forget that peaceful protests are a hallmark of democratic, developed nations, and that avoiding some amount of traffic disruption is not more important than citizens’ civil rights.

Wong
Wong

In fact, as political scientist and Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Wong Chin Huat points out — a peaceful demonstration may actually drive business into central Kuala Lumpur.

BN-supporters have argued, not without some truth, that in reality Bersih 2.0 is now deemed a general protest rally against the government in power, and not just about electoral reforms per se. To say, however, that Bersih’s agenda is to “seize power” is rabble-rousing unbefitting of a senior government minister.

It must also be remembered that there is context to Bersih 2.0, and that it is not just having a protest for the sake of having one. Having been blatantly shut out from observing the April Sarawak election, the coalition decided to organise this 9 July gathering to press for electoral reform with their eight demands.

Showing solidarity creatively

For those disinclined to march but still intend to support demands for electoral reform, there are other ways to show solidarity. Solidarity to a cause does not mean uniformity.

Some Bersih dissenters say protesters should go march somewhere else, not the city centre. Although that reasoning is flawed, there is food for thought. Why, after all, follow Putrajaya in their obsession for a monolithic, centralised and unimaginative way to prove a point? Those in the activism, arts, music or youth scenes can ensure the people’s voices are heard through other means, and other centres beyond KL.
(designed by Joe Kidd)
(designed by Joe Kidd)

Some are already starting to emphasise creativity, humour and new ideas as fresh ways to get the message through. Why not little groups of five or less “gathering” in whatever colours they feel like, in all parts of the country? Peace inspired flower-giving or sweeping roads, a la the “Flash Mop” by a small group of artists in Kuala Lumpur in 2010?

While one supports their friends and foes’ right to march, one could also easily take part in small shows of solidarity. In all instances, there are ways to peacefully show that public spaces are for the common people.

Non-negotiables

There are many things about this march that are not clearly black or white. By framing the march as such, both ends of the spectrum risk missing the opportunity to engage with thousands of Malaysians who may not want to march but still feel the urge to show their public spirit or civic-mindedness.

There are however some non-negotiable principles in all of this.  Violence, threats and unnecessary arrests are unacceptable. It is the duty of the police to protect any Malaysian who wishes to protest peacefully. Hauling people away for wearing T-shirts is not okay. Police intimidation is not okay. Issuing death threats to people is not okay. These acts do not reflect the “thriving democracy” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak boasted about when he appeared on CNN’s Talk Asia in November 2010.

It’s fine to disagree with the march. In fact, it’s great that Malaysians are so willing to express their views and debate openly about national issues. And it’s a personal choice whether one marches or not on 9 July. But it would be an unconscionable act of detachment however, to stand by silently while aggressive vitriol and heavy-handed measures are inflicted upon peace-loving Malaysians.

Amnesty International: Release or charge Bersih activists

The Malaysian Insider
by Melissa Chi


KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — Human rights group Amnesty International today demanded the government either immediately released Bersih 2.0 activists or charged them in court, instead of using detention without trial laws.

Police have detained six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members under the Emergency Ordinance since last Saturday for investigations that they were “waging a war against the Agong” as they were found with T-shirts that had pictures of former communist leaders.

“Immediately release all activists or charge them with a recognisable criminal offence, drop unfounded charges, and respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Amnesty International said.

The international non-governmental organisation (NGO) pointed out that Malaysian authorities were arbitrarily arresting and detaining scores of peaceful electoral reform protesters in the “worst repression of free speech and freedom of assembly” in recent years.

Since June 24, more than 100 activists have been arrested or questioned by police over their support of an electoral reform rally.

The demonstration is being planned for July 9 by the Coalition for Fair and Free Elections, also known as Bersih 2.0, meaning “Clean”.

“The Malaysian authorities are muzzling calls for electoral reform by throwing peaceful protestors in jail,” said Donna Guest, deputy Asia-Pacific director at Amnesty International. “We have not seen such a crackdown on political activists across Malaysia in many years.”

People have been arrested for as little as wearing yellow, which is the colour of Bersih 2.0, are being held without charge, and face investigation for sedition and unlawful assembly.

The government had also threatened to invoke the Internal Security Act over the rally, allowing for indefinite detention without trial.

“Malaysia is undermining its claim to be a moderate democracy through this campaign of repression,” Guest said.

On June 29, police raided the office of the Bersih 2.0 secretariat without a warrant, briefly detaining seven people and confiscating laptops, cameras and rally materials. 

The chair of the Bersih 2.0 organising committee, prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, and Malaysian poet laureate A. Samad Said are both being investigated by police under the Sedition Act and Police Act for organising an “unlawful assembly”.

“This repression is clearly politically motivated to intimidate people from marching for electoral reform,” Guest said. “The use of repressive laws to criminalise peaceful political activism is appalling.”

Bersih 2.0 plans to hold the July 9 rally to demand a set of electoral reforms. These include fair access of all political parties to the media, reform of postal ballots and revisions of the electoral roll to address irregularities.

Thai prime minister concedes, congratulates first female premier


Bangkok (CNN) -- Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva conceded Sunday that Yingluck Shinawatra had won the nation's election.

"Congratulations to Thailand's first female prime minister," he said.

Authorities were still counting votes, but Yingluck said her Pheu Thai party already appeared to have garnered a majority of votes based on the existing tally.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people and thank you for every vote you have given to us," Yingluck told reporters at her campaign headquarters Sunday night.

Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted as prime minister in a 2006 military coup.

With about 47 million eligible voters in Thailand, the balloting was held to decide Thailand's first general election since 2007, an election that many hope will bring an end to years of unrest between two political factions that climaxed last year with protests that turned deadly.

"There is a lot more hard work to do in the future for the well-being of our sisters and brothers, the people of Thailand," Yingluck said Sunday. "There are many things to accomplish to make reconciliation possible, paving the way for a solid foundation for a flourishing nation."

Tensions between the Democratic Party and the Pheu Thai party, which reflect deep divisions within Thai society, erupted last year, with protests against Abhisit's government leading to a military crackdown. More than 90 people were killed and hundreds were injured.

After the riots, the Thai government pledged to work toward a process of national reconciliation to heal class and political divisions, though the divide between the two groups remains wide.

Early exit polling Sunday in Thailand showed Yingluck with a wide lead over Abhisit of the Democratic Party.

It also showed Yingluck's party may take more than 300 of the 500 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs in the election, according to data collected by the Suan Dusit Poll. It would be one of the few times in recent decades, if the polling is correct, that a party won a majority, allowing it to form its own administration without having to build a coalition.

The Suan Dusit Poll is conducted by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, a well-respected institution that conducts a number of polls and surveys.

The Pheu Thai party led by a narrow margin in pre-election polls.

Bangkot Maneemarn, a street vendor working outside one of Bangkok's polling stations, said most Thais were thinking about the economy when they cast ballots.

"I want him or her to improve the economic situation. The cost of living is very high," Maneemarn told CNN. He did not say who he voted for in the race.

Forty parties competed to fill the office of prime minister and 500 seats in the House of Representatives, according to the Thai Election Commission website.

The commission said 1.2 million election workers were at hand at more than 94,000 polling stations for the country's estimated 47 million eligible voters to cast ballots.

Who wins Sunday's vote is far less important geopolitically than whether or not the results are accepted, according to Ernest Bower, Southeast Asia program director for the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

The main regional players -- the United States, China and Thailand's neighbors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- will be watching the outcome closely, knowing that further unrest in what has historically been one of the most stable countries in southeast Asia could affect the balance of power.

"The best outcome for the U.S. and the region as a whole is that there is an election, that the Thai people agree that it was run fairly and that all parties accept the results," Bower told CNN, before voting began.
The fear, or "unhappy scenario," as Bower put it, is if a party wins, and the other side does not accept the result, either by rejecting the election results or the process itself.

Abhisit was put in office in 2008 by a parliamentary vote after the courts dissolved the previous ruling party.

Abhisit draws his support from the south, the urban elite and the military, while Yingluck is liked by the poor.

But there are concerns about what a victory for Yingluck would mean for her brother, who faces a warrant for his arrest on terrorism charges related to last year's protests. He lives in self-imposed exile.

Yingluck's critics worry she is simply a puppet for her brother especially after his recent comment that she is his "clone." But she told CNN before Sunday's elections that she was "not a puppet."

"The cloning means the logical thinking and the management style because I work with him since like (my) first job. So I learned a style from him. But I can do (things) on my own. I can make decision with the leadership of the company or the party," Yingluck said during a recent interview.

Abhisit has said Thaksin's fingerprints are all over her campaign.

"He's got a lot of money. He's got his own network political and other in other circles. So he continues to exert and influence but the issue is that influence is now being exerted for his own interest at the cost of the country and we want to move the country beyond that," the current prime minister said.

The biggest worry he and his party supporters have is that Yingluck will make a move to try and bring her brother back to Thailand by offering special concessions to keep him out of jail.

Yingluck has denied the accusation. "I can't do anything special for my brother," she has said.