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Friday, July 15, 2011

Sizzling yellow reception for Najib in UK



















(Malaysiakini)Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's visit to the United Kingdom was greeted by protesters in yellow condemning the high-handed crackdown on Bersih 2.0 rally last Saturday and demanded electoral reform.

Dozens of protesters, comprising both Malaysians and foreigners, gathered outside Mansion House at London an hour before Najib's arrivalfor a meeting with the London business community.

Yellow posters and banners, condemning the clampdown on Bersih 2.0 were unfurled, urging the Malaysian government to release six Parti Sosialis (PSM) activists dubbed "EO6" being held under the Emergency Ordinance which allows indefinite detention without trial.

According to the Sarawak Report portal, Najib in a big convoy gave a cheery wave as soon as he spotted the crowd.

It said the protest went off peacefully with the policing minimal and friendly.

According to a protester, PKR youth leader Ginie Lim the police deployed a truck to block the protesters from the view of the delegates attending the meeting.

Yellow begins to reign supreme

There was another peaceful protest at Downing Street, London, where the official residence of UK Prime Minister is located. Najib was there to meet his UK counterpart, David Cameron.

Both leaders signed a memorandum of understanding on enhancing strategic cooperation to combat trans-boundary crime and international terrorism.

Protesters in yellow clothes put up posters, in matching colour, that read "Shame on you, Malaysia PM, clean and fair election and free our leaders now".

Another protest will be called at the Inter Continental Hotel today in UK time 7pm where Najib is expected to attend a function.

Before the meeting with Cameron, both Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, had an audience with Queen Elizabeth II yesterday in Buckingham Palace, who coincidently wore a bright yellow dress.

Col Muammar Gaddafi's 'plan to blow up Tripoli'

Col Muammar Gaddafi has devised a suicidal last ditch plan to blow up Tripoli if the capital falls as the dictator demands that his troops destroys territory they cannot hold.

Col Muammar Gaddafi has devised a suicidal last ditch plan to blow up Tripoli if the capital falls as the dictator demands that his troops destroys territory they cannot hold.  

Western officials believe Col Gaddafi is increasingly beleagured as his grip slips from 

Under fire, Putrajaya protests thrashing over Bersih

KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The Najib administration has finally responded to days of heavy criticism in the foreign media over its handling of Saturday’s Bersih rally, insisting in a letter to the Wall Street Journal that Malaysia is a “true democracy”.

The international business newspaper has been one of the fiercest critics of Putrajaya following clashes between police and tens of thousands of demonstrators who demanded electoral reforms last weekend, accusing the government of creating an atmosphere of “fear and repression”.

Bersih protestors running away from the police at Saturday’s rally. — File pic
But a senior Wisma Putra official has denied the claim by the WSJ that “protesters in Kuala Lumpur have suffered “intimidation” and “repression” at the hands of the government in recent weeks,” referring to the editorial titled “Crackdown 2.0 in Malaysia” that was published on July 12.
  “To claim that Saturday’s events mean Malaysia is not a ‘true democracy’ is simply wrong.

“As the strong performance of opposition parties in the last general election demonstrates, the ballot box remains the most powerful force in Malaysian politics,” said Ahmad Rozian, the Foreign Ministry’s undersecretary of information said, repeating the ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) coalition’s line on the credibility of elections in Malaysia.

Although Ahmad admitted that Malaysians have a constitutional right to peaceful assembly, “protest organisers chose to reject” Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s offer of a “large-capacity stadium where the event could be held safely and without disrupting the lives and businesses of ordinary Malaysians.”

“Instead (they called) on supporters to assemble at a much smaller stadium ‘come what may,’ despite the fact that it was unavailable,” he said of the electoral reform group’s insistence on gathering at the historical Stadium Merdeka.

Bersih had initially accepted the prime minister’s offer to move its street rally to a stadium which came after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had intervened to diffuse tension, calling on both parties to negotiate over the issue of free and fair elections.

But the authorities told the coalition of 62 NGOs to move its rally outside of the capital and refused to issue a permit to gather in Stadium Merdeka, resulting in chaotic scenes on July 9 where nearly 1,700 were arrested, scores injured and one, the husband of a PKR leader, dead.

“Faced with thousands of people attempting to enter an unsuitable venue in a densely populated area, the police were forced to intervene to disperse the crowd, a task that was made more difficult by the presence of a small minority of protesters intent on violence,” Ahmad explained.

The police clampdown, which began with over 100 arrests in the weeks leading up to the rally, has led to widespread criticism from international media.

This includes influential American and British publications such as the WSJ and the Guardian, television channels (Al-Jazeera) and also top regional newspapers like the Singapore Straits Times and Jakarta Post.

The Najib administration has embarked on a damage control exercise, sending Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to Indonesia to explain the government’s actions while the prime minister himself has had to field persistent queries on the rally in his ongoing London visit.

Rings of questions over Rosmah

Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers are asking where and how, if true, did the prime minister's wife get her alleged RM73 million ring.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister’s wife Rosmah Mansor’s alleged RM73 million diamond ring has left many in Pakatan Rakyat curious.

PAS Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar asked how Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak got his hands on the funds needed to buy the ring.

“If the allegation is true, where did the money to buy this blue diamond come from?” he asked.

The ring was supposedly supplied by New York-based jewellers Jacob & Co. Pictures showing the ring moving through customs at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in April this year were released online this week.

The pictures, which first appeared on the pro-Pakatan blog Milo Suam, showed that the ring was last “inspected” by Rosmah.

Former PKR Youth leader Badrul Hisham Shaharin (also known as Chegubard) lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the jewel.

Mahfuz said that Rosmah had no official governmental position, and would have to rely on her husband, Najib, for the purchase of the ring.

However, Mahfuz pointed out that Najib could not have saved enough to buy the ring from the combined salaries of his two portfolios – that of prime minister and finance minister.

“Is there another party involved?” Mahfuz asked, and wondered if the ring may have been a gift to the prime minister’s wife in exchange for some unknown government favour.

PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said that the onus of investigation rested with the MACC.
“I call upon the MACC to investigate this matter thoroughly, and verify claims made regarding the amounts involved,” she said.

Nurul also questioned Najib’s policies, introduced during his current stay as the prime minister, and connected them to Rosmah’s ring.

“Malaysians will be dealt a severe blow if policies introduced by the prime minister at our hour of need are merely to fulfil his wife’s personal desires,” she added.

When contacted, DAP MPs appeared guarded over the alleged ring saying that they wanted to wait for more confirmation on the matter before commenting.

WIKILEAKS: UNPRECEDENTED SEDITION CHARGES AGAINST BLOGGER



Raja Petra was charged after posting an article on his website on April 25 entitled ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell’ that implied that DPM Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were connected to the 2006 murder of a young Mongolian interpreter, Altantuya Shaaribuu. He also accused PM Abdullah of holding on to evidence that implicates his deputy in order to keep Najib in line. 
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 000355

SIPDIS

FOR EAP/MTS AND DRL - JANE KIM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/18/2018
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PINR, KDEM, KPAO, MY
SUBJECT: UNPRECEDENTED SEDITION CHARGES AGAINST BLOGGER

REF: A. A) KL 130 - PRESS STIFLED IN ALTANTUYA TRIAL
     B. B) KL 73 - PROSECUTOR DOWNBEAT ON ALTANTUYA CASE
     C. C) 2007 KL 291 )RAZAK BAGINDA CASE

Classified By: Political Section Chief Mark D. Clark for reasons 1.4 (b and d).

 1. (C)  Summary. For the first time, Malaysian authorities have resorted to a colonial-era law to bring sedition charges against a blogger and the author of a comment on an internet web site.  Blogger and veteran anti-government activist Raja Petra Kamarudin touched a sensitive nerve in implying that DPM Najib Tun Razak and his wife were connected to 2006 murder of a young Mongolian interpreter, Altantuya Shaaribuu (reftels).  He also accused PM Abdullah of holding on to evidence that implicates his deputy to keep Najib in line. 
Visiting EAP DAS Marciel raised the issue with Deputy Home Minister Wan Farid on May 6, and Wan Farid indicated the proceedings against Raja Petra should be a warning to other bloggers.  The Raja Petra case will continue to keep public focus on the Altantuya case and allegations of Najib's involvement.  Prosecuting a blogger for sedition also complicates Prime Minister Abdullah's efforts to be seen as a reformer.  End summary.
Colonial-era Sedition Act utilized
2. (SBU) On May 6 Malaysian Police charged blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin and Syed Ali Akhbar, who posted a comment on Raja Petra's website, with sedition.  This is the first time Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act (enacted by British colonial authorities in 1948) has been used in response to material appearing on the internet. 
The Section reads, ‘Any person who prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication’ can be charged with sedition.  If found guilty, Raja Petra and Syed Ali could be jailed for a maximum of three years and/or face a fine of up to USD1,600. 
Syed Ali was released on bail after pleading not guilty and the court fixed June 10 to hear submissions by the defense and prosecution on a preliminary objection raised by the defense, which claimed that the charge was groundless.  Raja Petra initially refused to post bail and was remanded at the Sungai Buloh prison, but on May 8 he changed his stance and he was scheduled to be released on bail May 9.  His trial is fixed for October 6-10.
3. (SBU) Another prominent blogger described Raja Petra’s action to poloffs as a gambit to not only generate publicity for himself but also for his news portal Malaysia Today (www.malaysia-today.net).  The local blogger community as a whole has reacted with outrage to what is seen as a threat to the free exchange of ideas on the internet.
The Malaysian Bar Council called on the authorities to withdraw the charges against Raja Petra and Syed Ali, describing the relevant section of the Sedition Act as a draconian, archaic and repressive legislation that has long outlived any perceived utility it might ever have had. 
A number of prominent civil society groups issued a statement characterizing Raja Petra’s arrest as politically motivated and aimed at silencing principled and uncompromising voice speaking against the abuse of power, including those stemming from the highest level of government and authority.
4.  (C) DPM Najib publicly denied that the arrests were politically motivated or an indication of government intentions to crack down on internet sites.  Visiting EAP DAS Scot Marciel raised the case with Deputy Home Minister Wan Farid on May 6 and questioned why the government was using sedition charges in such a case. 
Wan Farid said bloggers could not be allowed to accuse people of murder and not back up such claims.  "You can't just (post) anything on the internet," and not expect consequences, indicating this was a warning to other bloggers.  The government would proceed with the case in court, Wan Farid said.
Raja Petra a thorn in UMNO’s side
5. (SBU) Raja Petra was charged after posting an article on his website on April 25 entitled ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell’ that implied that DPM Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor were connected to the 2006 murder of a young Mongolian interpreter, Altantuya Shaaribuu.  He also accused PM Abdullah of holding on to evidence that implicates his deputy in order to keep Najib in line. 
Two police officers from the security detail of DPM Najib have been charged for killing Altantuya, while Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of DPM Najib, was charged with abetting the murder.  The murder trial that began in June 2007 has been dragging along for nearly a year, giving rise to suggestions of deliberate delays for political reasons (Ref A ).
6.  (SBU) This is not the first time Raja Petra, a cousin of the current Sultan of Selangor, has challenged the ruling establishment. He was one of the key leaders of the reformasi movement launched in September 1998 by former DPM Anwar. 
In 2000 he became the Director of the Free Anwar Campaign (FAC) and founded the FAC website that regularly posted articles criticizing the government. 
In 2001 he was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and held for 52 days before being released unconditionally, reportedly due to pressure from his uncle the then King, the late Sultan of Selangor. 
In July 2007 he was detained, questioned and released after UMNO Information Chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib filed a police report against him for allegedly insulting the King and Islam.
7. (SBU) Raja Petra launched Malaysia Today in August 2004 "to test how far Malaysia under its new Prime Minister (PM Abdullah) can honor, respect and tolerate free speech."  The blog grew to an average of 1.5 million hits a day and was voted one of the top ten websites by local internet users in 2007. 
One reporter describes it as Malaysia’s answer to the U.S. Drudge Report, a news aggregation site, dedicated to entertaining tales of political intrigue.  In meetings with poloffs, Raja Petra has nevertheless insisted that all of his reports are backed by hard evidence.
8. (SBU) UMNO leaders have blamed internet media and bloggers, in particular Raja Petra, as contributing to the BN’s setback in the March election.  Raja Petra agreed, telling reporters on May 6, they lost in the election because of the internet war. Malaysia Today was one of the culprits. He added that his defense team would prove there was no case against him and that it was a matter of political persecution.
One sympathetic academic described the action against Raja Petra as the return to sledgehammer rule by UMNO, but added recalcitrant bloggers like Raja Petra threaten UMNO’s survival, because the ruling party has failed to find a formula for countering its internet critics.
Syed Akhbar Ali: Easy to Impress the Malays
9. (SBU) In Syed Akhbar Ali's case, the author was belatedly charged for posting a comment in June 2007 on a Raja Petra authored Malaysia Today piece alleging strong links between Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan and a major organized crime syndicate. 
Raja Petra had written that the syndicate protected by the IGP was involved in prostitution, drugs, and illegal gambling.  In his comment, titled Easy to Impress the Malays, Akhbar used crude language in maintaining that massage centers are mushrooming in the city due to the sudden increase in Arab visitors, and in a similar vein went on to make some scurrilous comments about the Arabs and Islam, and the naivety of Malays in accepting Arab ideas.
Comment
10.  (C) In another indication of the growing influence of internet media, both DPM Najib and his wife have been compelled to go public in responding to Raja Petra’s report, maintaining that the allegations are unfounded and unfair. 
The Raja Petra case will continue to keep public attention on the Altantuya murder and on allegations of Najib's involvement in the crime at a time when Prime Minister Abdullah has announced Najib as his eventual successor.  Prosecuting a blogger for sedition complicates Prime Minister Abdullah's efforts to be seen as a reformer and will further boost the profile of Malaysia's anti-government internet activists.
KEITH

Video Interview: Malaysian PM on KL protests

Samad Said: Najib ‘Memang Kejamlah’

Why did the police do what they did?

JULY 15 — The tough policeman with the huge muscles grabbed me by my shoulders and flung me towards the sidewalk not caring that I had a press tag around my neck.

I struggled to keep my balance and not drop my camera. I barely managed to not trip over the curb.
“Halau cameraman itu! (Get rid of that cameraman!)” screamed the policeman’s other colleagues.

My crime? I was shooting a bunch of arrested demonstrators being led out of Tung Shin Hospital and through a police line.

The detainees had their hands “cuffed” and looked pretty much subdued. However, as they were led through the line, they were kicked and punched by the police.

I was on assignment for The Malaysian Insider to gather video footage of the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on July 9.

But I couldn’t get enough footage of that incident since I ended up behind police lines along with other members of the media, cordoned off from what was happening.

There were many instances on the day when demonstrators were being arrested and people around would start yelling for the media to come document it.

“Media! Cepat! Polis tengah tahan orang! (Media! Hurry up! The police are arresting people!)” they would scream.

Many of them wanted visual proof that the police were being overly-aggressive when it came to arresting peaceful demonstrators.

Many also realised that if the media was around during the arrests, the police were less likely to use excessive force.

To me, that is just proof that a free and balanced media is a very important component to keep the wheel of democracy spinning smoothly.

But, of course, keeping things going smoothly can be close to impossible while being under such tense situations.

In the morning, before the demonstrators arrived in the city, the situation was very calm even though there were police everywhere.

The media, myself included, were free to roam around, taking pictures and video of the police all ready to face the day.

When the demonstrators started arriving, things got a bit tense. However, as far as my observations went, the tension did not arise from the demonstrators.

They were just marching and chanting for free elections. It was when the crowd got big (around 10,000 of them) that trouble started in front of Menara Maybank.

The trouble definitely did not start with the demonstrators. They didn’t approach the police. It was the police who came in firing tear gas and chemically-laced water.

The demonstrators were pushed back towards Jalan Pudu and that’s when all the aggressive arrests started happening.

At this point, the media were allowed free movement, even though we were screamed at to move away by the police. But we were not physically man-handled.

It was only after the second wave of tear gas attacks that the police started to control the media by cordoning them off behind police lines.

My friend, film director Liew Seng Tat, came to me and said he saw the police firing tear gas into Tung Shin Hospital. He then disappeared to join the rest.

Twenty minutes later, he was arrested and brought through the same police line that kicked and punched him while his hands were cuffed behind him.

The media must be given freedom to be there, if not to prevent it from happening in the first place, then definitely in order to inform the public of what happened.

I spoke to a journalist from a local 24-hour news channel and told him about how the police shoved me away and didn’t allow me to shoot them beating up detainees.

“Footage macam itu memang tak boleh keluar TV pun (Footage like that can’t be shown on TV anyway),” he shrugged.

The response that I got from him showed me the defeatist attitude of some segments of the local media and this almost got me down for a while.

But thank God that feeling didn’t last long and I still believe in the power of the media when it comes to sticking up for human rights and defending the ordinary folk.

I also believe that the police exist to serve the people and keep them protected and safe. Then why did they attack, arrest and beat peaceful demonstrators?

They must know that they were doing wrong if they felt the need to keep the media away from witnessing what they were doing.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Mick Jagger, A R Rahman Release Their First Single

NEW DELHI, July 15 (Bernama) -- Former 'Rolling Stones' frontman Mich Jagger, who has collaborated with A R Rahman and three other music superstars for a new band 'Super Heavy', have released their first single 'Miracle Worker'.

The three others are Dave Stewart, Joss Stone and Damien Marley, and all five of them are also planning to come up with their first album by September, according to Press Trust of India (PTI).

Rahman, who one two Oscars for his music in 'Slumdog Millionaire', is thrilled by the idea of being part of such a band.

"It took me way back to my high school days when I was playing in a rock band, but this one was a real one!" said Rahman.

Whilem Jagger says he couldn't believe that the band would actually come to life.

"I said it sounds like a good idea, I never thought it would actually happen," said Jagger.

The band 'Super Heavy' with diverse and electric line up who share 11 Grammy Awards between them, have been recording together in various studios around the world.

"It's the most complicated record ever made. Imagine, some of it's recorded in LA, some of it's recorded in the South of France, some of it's recorded off the coast of Cyprus, some of it's recorded in Turkey, some of it's recorded in Miami, some of it's recorded in the Caribbean, and some of it's recorded in Chennai, in India," said Stewart.

Jailed: Predatory sex beast who disguised his car as a taxi to pick up and rape a young woman on night out in Manchester

Anime Kacem attacked his victim and then calmly drove her back to her hotelAnime Kacem attacked his victim and then calmly drove her back to her hotel
 
A predatory rapist disguised his car as a taxi to lure a young woman and violently attack her.

Amine Kacem, 24, prowled Manchester city centre looking for victims in a car on which he had deliberately put a large yellow sticker to make it look like a private hire vehicle.

The sex attacker, also known as Nazim Hamido, abducted and twice raped the woman after she got in the back of the car on Sackville Street.

Kacem, who was on his first ever visit to Manchester, then calmly drove her back to her hotel. Judge Andrew Blake at Manchester Crown Court said he believed Kacem had deliberately posed as a taxi driver and put a ‘considerable amount of planning’ into the crime.

Jailing Kacem, who buried his head in his hands, the judge told him: "You targeted the victim, whom plainly you correctly identified as being drunk. You showed her no mercy."

The victim was left so psychologically scarred she washed herself with bleach after the attack.
Kacem fled the country for his native France after the attack.

The court heard how a nationwide appeal to track him down was launched and he returned to Britain months later after his girlfriend begged him to come back.

But Kacem did not hand himself in. Instead, he stole a bundle of banknotes from a customer at a Bureau de Change in London because he thought he needed cash for a lawyer.

When he was arrested for that offence, his DNA was taken and he was exposed as a rapist on the run, 18 months after the attack.

Kacem, of Golders Green, London, was jailed for nine years for the rapes. He claimed he was innocent, saying he had consensual sex with the woman and that someone else must have raped her afterwards.

The court heard she had become separated from pals when she was picked up by Kacem in the early hours of March 27, 2009. She told court that the memory of his vehicle with the large yellow sticker had come to her in a flashback.

Neil Fryman, prosecuting, said: "She got in the vehicle thinking she was safe."
The woman suffered a fractured right wrist in the attack, was left badly cut and bruised.
For several months, she feared that she had contracted HIV in the attack.

Mr Fryman said: "Psychologically, she has been affected because she’s now virtually housebound. She has been washing herself with bleach from time to time."

Protesters: We'll protest until PSM6 are out





Liow orders probe into Tung Shin hospital incident

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The Health Ministry will now investigate whether tear gas and water cannon was fired at the Tung Shin Hospital during the Bersih rally on Saturday following differing accounts from the police and eyewitnesses, minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said tonight

He said that a high-level committee headed by Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Kamarul Zaman Md Isa will conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident at the hospital in the capital city as patient security and hospital safety was paramount.

“This will clear the contradictions in various statements made by different parties over the last few days,” Liow (picture) said in the statement.

The Tung Shin Hospital board had on Monday informed Liow that no tear gas canisters and water cannons were fired directly into the hospital compound during Saturday’s illegal rally but numerous eye witness accounts have alleged otherwise. A group of medical consultants had written to the media saying the police and hospital versions of the incident were wrong.

“Members of the public who witnessed the incident can come forward to assist the inquiry. Those who wish to remain unidentified can choose to do so,” Liow said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in London today that police took only mild action in the security crackdown against the Bersih rally calling for free and fair elections on July 9.

In the days following the alleged incursion Liow's party leader Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, a former health minister himself, said the police had to fire tear gas near Tung Shin Hospital to protect its patients from Bersih 2.0 protesters who had sought refuge there.

The MCA president said the situation should be viewed “in totality”, pointing out that the police would be accused of not doing their job had they decided against dispersing the crowd of protesters that had run into the hospital.

Liow also has that shots from the water cannons had only brushed the edges of the hospital walls. The police have also denied shooting directly into the hospital compounds after protesters had sought refuge there.

However the declaration by the doctors has placed both the government, the health ministry in particular, and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) in a difficult situation.

On Saturday, the Bersih rally protesters who were heading to Stadium Merdeka were pegged back by police in various spots in the city through a series of roadblocks and police-lines. A significant portion of the protesters were forced-in on the stretch from Puduraya to Bangunan Magnum on Jalan Pudu. Tung Shin Hospital is located within this stretch.

Repeated police action in releasing tear gas and water cannons on the protesters forced a section of the protesters into the hospital compound. A large number of personal accounts and video loaded up on the Internet support that the police did fire into the hopital compound before sending in their personnel to apprehend the protesters.

Tales of cops gone wild

Several Bersih 2.0 protesters recount the horror they experience at the hands of policemen during last Saturday's rally.

PETALING JAYA: After being beaten, bruised and handcuffed, Liew Seng Tat thought that he would be taken to the police station. But what followed shocked the 31-year-old filmmaker.

According to him, a policeman allegedly thrust a dirty towel soaked in chemical-laced water into his face.

“I heard him say ‘ambik ni’ (take that). I could not see anything. It was horrible. My face was burning from the chemical. I could not open my eyes as it stung,” he said, adding that he did not know why the policeman did that since he was already handcuffed.

Liew was recounting his ordeal at the Bersih 2.0 rally last Saturday during a meeting with Suhakam at the human rights commission’s office here today.

He was also among those who had sought refuge at the Tung Shin Hospital. The police had been accused of firing tear gas and their water cannons into the compound.

“I personally witnessed multiple rounds fired into the hospital compound; a group of policemen then rushed in and ambushed us. We tried to run up the slope but we were cornered. I really have no idea why they did this. I thought hospitals were supposed to be a safe place.

“There was a group of 10 young girls probably still in college. We men locked arms to protect them. I don’t understand, the police are supposed to be our protectors but now we were protecting ourselves from them,” he said.

Liew said when the police charged, everybody ran and he was caught and pinned to the ground.
“I was handcuffed and then some policemen started jumping on me and kicked me with their boots. I was slapped around even though I was cooperating. I wasn’t armed, I don’t look threatening. Why beat me?” he asked.

As he was being led away, Liew claimed that other policemen had hit him with their batons and punched him when he walked past.

‘They whacked the hell out of me’

Another protester, K Arun, said that he witnessed several policemen making “violent arrests” and he himself was beaten when he tried to intervene in one case.

“The rally finished at about 4pm but the cops were still arresting. I was trying to stop them from hitting one man, asking them not to beat him, but they came after me instead.I was cuffed and then they started whacking the hell out of me.

“They even threatened to kill me. ‘Bunuh dia lah’ (kill him), one of them said. Some of them had mercy, some didn’t at all. What I can say is that they were just not instructed to be kind to us,” he added.

The Suhakam panel also heard from PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who suffered a torn ligament in his right knee when a police car allegedly rammed into the motorcycle he was on.

He claimed that a police Mitsubishi Pajero stopped on the side of Jalan Bangsar to force him onto the remaining open lane where a police Proton Waja rammed into his motorcycle head-on.
“My leg was caught between the two vehicles,” he said.

The PAS leader said the policemen then carried him into their vehicle and took him to the Dang Wangi police headquarters where he was treated at a clinic. He was later brought to Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
“I was in great pain the entire time. Based on the pain I was experiencing, I should have been detained at the (hospital) ward,” he added.

‘If not for the cops, he would be alive’

Another victim, Brian Yap, said he was hit multiple times by two or three policemen when he was trapped inside Tung Shin Hospital.

“I shouted ‘cukuplah (enough), you already have me’ but they kept hitting and pulled my shirt over my head so I could not see anything,” he said.

“There was no reason at all for the violence, we had almost dispersed,” said the assistant for Bukit Lanjan assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong.

Hii Tiong Huat, 60, the colourful independent candidate for Bukit Assek, Sibu, who was arrested when he waved a Malaysian flag and a signboard around at Petaling Street on July 8, said he was also badly abused.

“When they brought me in, they gave me repeated backhand slaps. It’s no joke, I received 10 or so of those slaps, my spectacles flew out and at one point I lost consciousness,” he said.

Meanwhile, the nephew of Baharuddin Ahmad, 58, who died after fleeing from policemen, said that his uncle would still be alive if not for the police.

“I’m here to seek justice. He only has high blood pressure, never had heart problems. He is from the army and always took care of his health,” said Azhar Kasim.

“I was told his ribs and teeth also broke. He had lived simply in a flat and now leaves behind three children aged 29, 22 and 19,” he added.

Claiming that the police were “instructed to abuse their powers”, Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said that the first-hand accounts “spoke volumes” and showed that police action was “no holds barred”.

Suhakam to probe 'police violence'

The humans rights watchdog believes that human rights violations may have taken place during the Bersih rally.
UPDATED
KUALA LUMPUR: Suhakam will hold a public inquiry into the allegations of excessive force used by the police during last Saturday’s Bersih 2.0 rally.

Suhakam vice-chairman Prof Dr Khaw Lake Tee said the inquiry would be launched as soon as possible.

“We are currently compiling the evidence and we also urge the public to come forward to testify,” she added.

Khaw was speaking to reporters here after receiving a joint memorandum from Bersih 2.0 and Suaram regarding the alleged police violence.

While the government denied that police had used excessive force, video footage and photographs from the rally suggested otherwise.

“In view of the number of complaints of excessive force used and the preventive actions of the police, we believe that various violations of human rights may have occured,” said Khaw.


She said the complaints included the serious allegation that tear gas was fired into the Tung Shin hospital, the death of Baharuddin Ahmad who collapsed after fleeing from the FRU as well as the denial of acess to legal assistance for those detained.

Khaw said Suhakam was still studying what the terms of reference of the inquiry would be and hoped that it could be held as soon as next month.

“We will be taking testimonies from witnesses as well as from the police, we want to hear from both sides. We also had our own people on the ground on July 9 who monitored the situation,” she said, adding that an announcement would be issued soon.

Khaw also said that Suhakam had the power to compell witnesses to attend the hearing with subpeonas under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act.

Victims, eyewitnesses tell their stories

Earlier, Suhakam heard from several eyewitnesses and victims of alleged police brutality, including the first hand account of PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu.

The opposition leader was now confined to a wheelchair following a knee injury which he suffered when he was allegedly knocked down by a police car during the rally.

The Bersih 2.0 representatives and supporters present at the Suhakam headquaters applauded when Khaw revealed that a public inquiry would be held.

Welcoming the move, Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said: “We will now assist in compiling more cases and hope more people will come forward with their own accounts. So far we have more than 10 cases of police assaults.”

The memorandum, read out by Suaram coordinator Lucas Yap and Bersih 2.0′s Temmee Lee, also urged Suhakam to pressure the government to review legislation which restricted or prohibited peaceful assemblies.

The memorandum asked Suhakam to focus on several key incidents of violence:
  • the avoidable death of Baharuddin Ahmad
  • violent arrest of Mohamad Sabu
  • unwarranted police attacks at the KL Sentral underpass
  • violent abuse by police
  • indiscriminate shooting of water cannons and tear gas into areas of essential services (eg. Tung Shin Hospital)
In the memorandum, it was also highlighted that 223 people were arrested or called up between July 22 and July 8, even before the rally. This included six Parti Sosialis Malaysia members currently detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance.

“Bersih 2.0 events also faced obstacles from the police including the setting up of road blocks, sealing off venues and harrassing local organisers and arresting those wearing or selling Bersih 2.0 shirts,” Lee said.
She also said the police raided the office of Empower, an NGO endorsee of Bersih 2.0, on June 28 and did not produce any warrants and had threatened to break into the office.

She added that the mainstream media then wrongly painted Empower as “reviving communism.” Bersih 2.0 was subsequently declared an illegal organisation on July 1.

“The mainstream media went out of their way to paint prominent members of Bersih 2.0 as fronts for ‘foreign powers’ with very little credible evidence offered. Other accusations include instigating chaos, racial riot, violence, backed by Christians, Jews and communists, to name a few,” said Lee.

She also said various institutions, including the Election Commission (EC), also played a part in the smear campaign against Bersih 2.0, with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak calling the coalition’s chairperson S Ambiga an “enemy of Islam”.

“Students in local universities also received a circular prohibiting them from attending any ‘illegal rallies’ under threat of expulsion. Civil servants also received threats of disciplinary action and sacking,” she added.

Cops cooking up violent plot theory, says PSM

Arutchelvan accuses BN of planning a media campaign about his party trying to oust the government through an uprising that will include suicide bombing

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is planning a media campaign that will accuse Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) of trying to oust it through a violent revolution, according to the party’s secretary general, S Arutchelvan.

He said police had forced detained PSM activists to sign false statements to support the theory.

He told a press conference today that the detainees gave this information to lawyers and relatives who had visited them. PSM received similar information from 24 Perak-based party members who had been released on bail, he added.

“The police are making conspiracies that members have undergone special training such as suicide bombing,” he said.

Apart from statements forced out of the detainees, the police would point to a PSM resolution to support uprisings in the Middle East and a leaflet calling for a change of government, he added.

The activists in detention are Sungai Siput MP Dr D Michael Jeyakumar, PSM deputy president M Saraswathy, central committee members Choo Chon Kai and M Sugumaran, youth chief R Sarathbabu and Sungai Siput branch secretary A Letchumanan. They are held without trial under the 1969 Emergency Ordinance (EO).

Police arrested them last month under Penal Code, accusing them of waging war against the King.  They were released and rearrested under the EO on July 2.

Arutchelvan said Special Branch police had prepared answers to their questions and forced the illiterate among the detainees to sign the answer sheets.

He gave the following examples of questions and answers:
Why did you join PSM? Because of the communist ideology but peaceful.
What activities do you do in PSM? Help the poor and topple the government.

Other questions raised, Artuchelvan said, were about PSM’s relationship with Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar Ibrahim, and Bersih.

He urged the police to “stop the bullshit” and said he was arranging for a meeting next week with Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar and his deputy, Khalid Abu Bakar.

PSM president Nasir Hashim would attend the meeting.

Arutchelvan also told reporters that lawyers and family members would be meeting the EO detainees tomorrow and that three MPs had been given permission to visit Dr Jeyakumar in Bukit Aman following a request by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The three are Lim Kit Siang of DAP, Salehuddin Ayub of PAS and R Sivarasa of PKR.

Malaysia Bans Books

Image
This is a watchbird, watchng you
Making fun of the government is not allowed
A Malaysian High Court judge has upheld the banning of books by a popular political cartoonist for the online news site Malaysiakini and by a columnist closely connected to the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

The ban, requested by Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein under the country’s Printing Presses and Publications Act, is on two books by the cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaq, known by his pen name Zunar, and a third by columnist Yong Thye Chong, who writes under the pen name Kim Quek.

The authors’ lawyers argued that the ban violated the right to freedom of speech, which is guaranteed under the country’s federal constitution, was not implemented fairly because the authors weren’t given the chance to explain themselves before the ban was made, and weren’t told the reasons for it.

However, Justice Rohaya Yusuf, in delivering her decision, said Hishammuddin was correct in banning the books if the court “takes into view the sensitivities surrounding the country.”

The Printing Presses and Publications Act, passed in 1984, has long been under fire by press critics who say it has curtailed freedom of speech, restricted political discourse and silenced political opponents. The critics say the act allows the home affairs minister virtually total control over the print media.

Newspapers and other periodicals must apply for the renewal of their licenses annually, giving the minister the power to ban them according to his discretion. All of the conventional media are owned by political parties, with the biggest newspapers owned by the United Malays National Organization and the Malaysian Chinese Association, the two biggest components of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. While opposition parties also own newspapers, they are not allowed to circulate freely.

As a result, the country ‘s bloggers have developed one of the strongest online presences in Southeast Asia, with several strong websites including Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider and Malaysia Today, run by gadfly Raja Petra Kamarudin. The blogs were given credit for playing a major role in the upset March 2008 election that broke the 50-year two-thirds hold of the Barisan on the Dewan Rakyat, or national parliament.

The decision to uphold the ban was assailed by the Committee for Independent Journalism in Kuala Lumpur, which said in a press release that the two cases “illustrate yet again how the vagueness of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, especially in defining problematic phrases and terms, such as ‘prejudicial to public order,’ as well as the overbroad powers the law grants the Home Minister, continue to pose a formidable challenge to freedom of expression in Malaysia.”

Kim Quek’s book, “The March to Putrajaya,” was originally ordered banned by Hishammuddin on September 30, 2010, allegedly for inciting hatred against the constitution. Although Kim is a Malaysiakini commentator, he is a supporter of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, headed by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. The Home Ministry’s secretary general, Mahmood Adam, said the book is “not suitable for general reading,” containing what he called “elements of baseless accusations and speculations” against national leaders and could incite public hatred and anger.”

Illustrating the porosity of the ban, the 375-page book, a collection of Kim’s columns, is readily available on the Internet at http://www.mediafire.com/?yxy1yzc73lkl5cl. The author has offered it for free for those who wish to download it.

Most of the material in the books has long been available. “1 Funny Malaysia" is a collection of cartoons that Zunar published in the column Cartoonkini on the Malaysiakini news site between 2005 and 2009. "Perak Darul Kartun" is published by Zunar's own company, Sepakat Efektif Sdn Bhd, and features the works of Zunar and several other local cartoonists and writers.

Dismissing the request for review of the ban filed by Zunar's publisher Malaysiakini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, Yusuf said she did not find the decisions to ban the books “to be in defiance of logic that it is arbitrarily made, or that it is based on improper facts. Because of this public order issue, there is therefore a need to restrict fundamental liberties provisions guaranteed under the federal constitution."

Both Zunar and Kim said they would appeal the decision to the highest level possible although both added that they were skeptical that higher courts would rule in their favor.

"The Malaysian courts are like the atmosphere,” Kim Quek told reporters. “The higher you go up, the less oxygen there is."

Despite the ban, Zunar's other books are available from Kinibooks, including his latest title 'Even My Pen Has a Stand'.

In a prepared statement, Kim Quek said the judgment “cannot help but convey the unmistakable signal that the present political hold on the judiciary to deliver what the political masters want is intact. It means that Malaysians will continue to be denied their fundamental liberties guaranteed under Part Two of the Constitution – which include the freedom of expression – through abuse of power by the Executive, which will be ultimately protected from legal accountability by a compliant judiciary.”

Bersih: My final thoughts — Art Harun

JULY 14 — “Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise.” — Cato the Elder (234 BC – 149 BC) from Plutarch, Lives.

In my opinion, the biggest mistake that the government had made in the Bersih issue was to isolate a large section of the society from itself, anger them and convert them into a Bersih sympathiser and/or supporter.

At some point of time before the Bersih rally — in my opinion it was about the time Pak Samad said was hauled to the police station — the Bersih movement had transcended its electoral reform objective into a full-scale platform for the people to vent their frustrations, disappointments, angst and anger to the government.

To put it crassly, from that point of time Bersih became a platform for many people to show their middle finger to the government, for whatever personal reason(s) they may have.

All the government had to do in the early days of Bersih 2.0 was to deal with Bersih and its demands. The demands were not about the escalating inflation and price of household items; not about Teoh Beng Hock or Sarbaini; not about corruption; not about the electricity rate hike; not about the Astro price hike; not about the police, MACC or whichever agency.

The demands were just about fair and just elections or what was perceived by Bersih as such. That was it. It was politically related but not politically motivated. (For the uninitiated, there is a difference between the two.) The fact that some opposition political parties were in solidarity with Bersih did not demote Bersih into a political party with the inevitable and attendant political baggage.

The premise of Bersih was an idea, a thought. The idea was our election process is not fair. The resulting conclusion from that idea was that our electoral process needs reform or at least a change. That was all.

Being an idea, or a thought, Bersih operates and infects the masses insidiously. It is in their head that the idea is planted. It is not in their behaviour. A Bersih sympathiser or supporter with the said planted idea would not act in a way an Al-Qaeda member would. He or she was not going to strap C4 around his or her body, go to the mall on a Sunday, and buy the proverbial ticket to heaven by blowing himself or herself up.

Planted with that idea, a Bersih sympathiser or supporter would try to convince others that that idea was correct. That idea will infest and continue to infest.

The wearing of yellow T-shirts with the word Bersih was just a way or means employed by carrier of such idea to make known that he or she subscribed to that idea to the open world.

The yellow T-shirts were not even a manifestation of the idea which he or she carried. With or without the yellow T-shirts, the idea still infests their mind. Similarly, the colour of the T-shirts did not matter. It could have been pink for all they cared but the idea stayed the same.

The idea, as I said earlier, was that the election process is not fair and it needs reform.

And so this was what, allegorically, the government was facing about a month before the rally. There were some yellow mosquitoes flying around in some wet markets, shopping malls, seminar rooms and on the streets. That was it. Nothing more.

It was like the proverbial bloody fly in the car cockpit. Irritating, yes. Annoying, yes. Threatening, absolutely not.

And how exactly did the government react to this handful of yellow mosquitoes? Well, it took out some really large and heavy cannons and shot the mosquitoes!

The government firstly denied that our election process was not fair. That was okay. Because by doing that, the government was actually trying to supplant an opposing idea. But what it did later was beyond rationale. Any strategist, political or otherwise, worth his or her salt, would cringe in disbelief.

It went out seizing the yellow T-shirts. People who wore the offending attire were arrested. How did arresting people wearing yellow and seizing the yellow item assist in erasing the idea which Bersih had planted? The idea was in the head. That idea did not reside in the yellow T-shirts. That was the government reacting according to the proverbial “marahkan nyamuk kelambu dibakar” (loosely translated, angry with the mosquitoes, burn the mosquito net) way.

First, the public reaction was one of disbelief. Soon it became a joke. The government, the police, the home minister and all else who were perceived to be the instigator to the act of banning the colour yellow became a big joke.

The joke then became even a bigger joke. That was when the government and its machinery, direct and indirect, embarked into phase two of their “war propaganda”.

I have stated in “The Doctor is Not In” that an oppressor would cling to every “fact”, even manufactured ones, to justify its oppression. I quoted Umberto Eco in “Turning Back The Clock” who said:
“In general, in order to maintain popular support for their decisions, dictatorships point the finger at a country, group, race, or secret society that is plotting against the people under the dictator. All forms of populism, even contemporary ones, try to obtain consensus by talking of a threat from abroad, or from internal groups.”

How true is that? Umberto Eco could have been talking about Malaysia actually. Did he have a digital crystal ball or what?

Barely recovering from shaking our collective head over the arrest of people wearing yellow, the government went into ape mode. Bersih was infiltrated by communists. It was also funded by Christian groups. Some ministers and the police then said there were evidence that Bersih had certain “foreign elements” bent on creating havoc and overthrowing the government.

All classic wartime propaganda. But really, who was at war? Nobody except for the government.
Sticking with the “war” theme, the government’s well-known, but the most laughable and idiotic shit stirrer, Perkasa leader Ibrahim Ali, launched a counter movement and called themselves Gerak Aman (Peace Movement, in English), with Ibrahim Ali as its “war general.”
So, we had a peace movement with a war general. And a war general without any war to go to. He then promptly issued a really peaceful statement, i.e. the Chinese had better stocked up food and not come out to the streets on July 9.
This was followed by some silat organisation declaring that it will “wage war” against Bersih participants. The next day this organisation appointed itself as the “third line of defence” of Malaysia, an appointment which was duly accorded official approval by none other than the prime minister himself later.

At this point in time, the government’s handling of the Bersih issue had moved from disbelief-dom to jokes-ville and now to a surreal and burlesque town. The government had then managed to anger the Bersih sympathisers and supporters, isolated the Christians and Chinese, and turned itself into some kind of a mixture of Robin Williams and Russell Brand (no insult meant to Katy Perry, of course).

Ambiga, the chairperson of Bersih, was instantaneously declared as an enemy of Islam. Quite how Bersih’s electoral reform agenda became intertwined with race and faith is quite beyond many to conjure. But enemy of Islam she was. That managed to isolate the non-Muslims and even the thinking Muslims from the government’s stance.
So, after that, the pesky yellow mosquito problem had turned into a full-scale stampede of biblical proportion, joined in by the elephants, lions, tigers, snakes and what have you. Congratulations.

The climax of all of these — the mother of all screw ups — to me, was the mounting of roadblocks during the morning peak hours from Wednesday, July 6 onwards.

By this time, even the normal apathetic middle-class Malaysians who could not even be bothered to register themselves as voters became agitated and upset.

This apathetic middle class are a very comfortable lot. They will not move their ass to do anything if that would mean bringing themselves out of their comfort zone. Finding the TV remote control is bringing themselves out of their comfort zone to these people. They will not be asked to do anything until and unless they become uncomfortable.

And, of course, being stuck in a traffic jam in their second-hand BMWs, Benzes and whatever was uncomfortable to them. And they told themselves, enough with this crap. I am going to show my middle finger to the police!

By this time, almost the whole section of the urban society was isolated by the government. Even the civil servants who were late for work were thinking of joining the rally.

Speaking of the police, apart from being busy carrying guns and waving the traffic to pass by, they managed to find parangs and Molotov cocktails at Sogo. There you have it. Bersih was bent on creating havoc.

Why parangs? Why not guns and bombs? And to think about it, the Molotov cocktails were made in plastic bottles. Who in their right mind would make Molotov cocktails in plastic bottles, hello? From which university did the guy graduate? Off campus? Online course?

Disbelief. Joke. Burlesque. Ridicule. Anger.

What a transformation.

The easiest thing to do was to fight the idea that our election process needs reform. That was all that was needed. An idea is fought by, firstly, showing that that idea is not quite correct. Or that it was not credible. Then neutralise that idea with a better and more acceptable idea.

An idea is not fought by arresting the people having that idea. Or by banning a colour depicting subscription to that idea. Or by declaring the person heading the movement perpetuating that idea as anti-Islam. Or that it was Christian idea. Oh my God. Fail!

Now, let’s not talk about what happened during the rally. Suffice if I say that the people joining the rally were not the hooligans they were made out to be. We all could watch all the YouTube videos and decide for ourselves.

The thing which I want to comment about is this.

If the government’s handling of Bersih before the rally was beyond belief in its irrationality and unreasonableness, its handling AFTER the rally is not any better, if not far worse.

The IGP became a laughing stock when he quickly announced that only 6,000 people attended the rally. Then the home minister chipped in to say the police was fair and in fact very restrain in their approach on July 9. The prime minister said the police were a picture of tranquillity and displayed a monk-like attitude towards the rally goers.

Ha ha and ha.

The Minister Liow denied teargas was fired into compound of Tung Shin. Chua Soi Lek, not be left out, chipped in to say the police had to tear gas the hospital in order to protect the patients. And today, 11 doctors from that hospital state their willingness to affirm affidavits under oath that the police did in fact shoot water and tear gas into the compound of the hospital on July 9. They said the police even entered into the buildings to search for rally goers.

The prime minister has left for the UK. The mainstream media went ape-like in blaming Anwar and mocking his injury. This obsession with Anwar Ibrahim is actually quite irritating. Let me tell you all something. Most rally goers did not give a hoot about Anwar that day. That day was not about Anwar. It was about their middle finger which they had wanted to point to some others.

The international press — which, of course, in the government’s book, are always bias and out to pursue their secret agenda against our country — have not been kind to the government. Even the Jakarta Post editorial (“Malaysia is rich but not free”) was not flattering. Yesterday, Bloomberg’s William Pesek was scathing in his opinion. Pesek is an influential writer and Bloomberg is a reference point for many foreign investors. So, what’s the plan here?

Someone died during the rally. Have we heard a word of sympathy or condolence from the government’s side? I have not. All we had was the usual defensive “don’t blame me” statements.

Are we human? Or have we stopped being human? Since when? — art-harun.blogspot.com

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.