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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Punish Bersih or risk losing support, Utusan warns BN

Police arrested nearly 1,700 people during the July 9 rally in Kuala Lumpur. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — The Barisan Nasional administration must penalise the outlawed Bersih 2.0 movement and the people behind it or risk  losing electoral support for its perceived weakness, the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia said today.


“The government needs to learn from this incident. To ensure peace and public safety, the authorities should immediately act against the troublemakers. Don’t waste the support of more than 4,000 non-governmental organisations and individuals who have lodged police reports against Bersih.

“The delay in taking action against the organisers and supporters of the illegal rally on July 9 can erode the people’s support because the government is seen as unable to implement the law. So, do not send the wrong message to the people, (that you are) afraid to take any action against the opposition leaders and Bersih organisers,” the Malay-language daily wrote in an editorial today.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Ismail Omar announced two days ago that Bersih 2.0 marchers arrested during the July 9 rally will be charged soon for taking part in what the authorities have classified as an illegal assembly, with the police confident of wrapping up investigations this week.

Police arrested nearly 1,700 people, including Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, and Pakatan Rakyat leaders during the rally for electoral reforms.

Ismail was cited as saying two days ago by state news agency Bernama that his men were still looking into the issues played up by various individuals, saying that there are some who continued to make statements that did not portray the actual situation that day.

“Police chief Tan Sri Ismail Omar had said that a thorough investigation regarding the rally is expected to complete this week. But more importantly is that immediate action is taken, including charging those who were involved.

“As long as there is no legal action against the Bersih organisers who had triggered chaos in the capital city recently, it will seem like they are free to continue to spread accusations during their political talks,” the editorial continued.

City police obtained a court order banning 91 individuals from entering Kuala Lumpur on July 9, while almost 200 were picked up prior to the rally.

The police have released all those arrested except for six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, who are being detained under the Emergency Ordinance for allegedly attempting to wage war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The six were supposedly found with T-shirts bearing the likenesses of former communist leaders.
“What we are concerned about is the wrong perception will arise if the authorities are too careful and slow to take action against those who were involved. It will even give chance to the group to manipulate the Bersih demonstration as is happening now,” it said.

The ruling BN coalition has been on the defensive over the rally, with international media from Singapore to the UK criticising the government’s handling of public dissent.

Last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also claimed the Bersih movement was a veiled attempt to topple his administration through street demonstrations akin to those that are now claiming Middle Eastern despots.

Bersih claimed that 50,000 people showed up for its rally despite efforts to prevent the gathering from taking place. Police said there were 6,000.

The protest turned chaotic when police fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and the death of former military man Baharuddin Ahmad, 59.

The government has promised to investigate allegations of police brutality while the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will hold a separate public inquiry into police conduct during the rally. - TMI

For BN, a call to arms

Muhyiddin was said to have told the lawmakers to begin working their home ground as though they were already campaigning. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — As speculation rises over the likely date of the next general election, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin rounded up over 100 Barisan Nasional lawmakers on Monday night and told them to work as if the “polls could be held at the end of the week”.


“The deputy prime minister did not give any indication except to tell us to be ready at all times, to assume as if the polls could be held at the end of the week... that was the only indication, nothing else,” one MP told The Malaysian Insider.

The first-term MP added that Muhyiddin also urged all representatives gathered for the annual meeting to make preparations as though they were already facing the polls.

“He (Muhyiddin) said there is a likelihood that the polls will be held this year or early next year, but we must continue working, to meet with the people and work as if the polls could be held at the end of the week. That was his message, yes, and it is his hope,” said the MP.

Monday’s discussion, which comes just three weeks after the tumultuous Bersih 2.0 rally calling for electoral reforms, was held in PWTC and saw the attendance of MPs from the BN Backbenchers Club and deputy ministers.

Several MPs also confirmed that the meeting centred largely on gearing up for the polls, which many speculate will likely be held sometime after Hari Raya, in the months of October or November.
The Najib administration’s mandate only ends in 2013.

“It (the discussion) contained a lot of advice on how to face the upcoming elections. More than 100 MPs attended this time,” said another MP.

Several MPs who attended the discussion were also seen exchanging messages with one another via the Twitter micro-blogging and believed to be related to the meet, with one comment saying, “You asked an interesting question”.

But details of the “question” or its response could not be ascertained.

Another MP who attended the meeting said that Muhyiddin, who is also BN’s deputy chairman, had told representatives to spend more time in their respective constituencies.

“The deputy prime minister told us, if we have no official duty, to try and spend time in our areas, to meet constituents and hold plenty of activities,” said the MP.

Muhyiddin also purportedly told MPs to use social media tools to get closer with their voters.

“According to Muhyiddin, now more voters are using social media, especially newly-registered voters. If possible, [we are to] use one more media platform, whether Twitter, blogs or Facebook to communicate with the people... this was the aspect stressed on by the deputy prime minister,” said another MP.

When officiating the 19th annual congress of the Indian Progressive Front (IPF) last Sunday, Muhyiddin had asked all BN component parties to work together as a team to face the coming 13th general election.
“We don’t have much time. It’s only a matter of a few months ahead and we must show to the people that we are solidly united to face the general election.

“We may have had team one or team two and so on, but from now on I want us to have only one team, that is Team BN,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama Online.

Ahead of polls, Najib’s last card is the budget

What is contained in Najib’s briefcase at the next Budget session will have strong bearing on his political fortunes. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — With less than two years left of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) mandate, hopes of an opportune time for federal polls are slim for Datuk Seri Najib Razak as dissent grows and the economy remains sour.


Politicians from both sides of the divide told The Malaysian Insider that with a cash-strapped Treasury struggling to maintain subsidies in the face of surging inflation, the prime minister should announce an election budget at the end of the year and dissolve Parliament soon after.

Analysts also believe that while heightened racial rhetoric has recovered some Malay support for the ruling coalition, it is a zero-sum game that is delivering centrist voters to Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

“We should have a good budget first. Tun Abdullah Badawi didn’t have such a budget and then called an election,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, referring to the former prime minister who was forced to step down a year after BN recorded its worst showing ever in Election 2008.

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali agreed, pointing out the economy was still lagging behind Putrajaya’s six per cent growth target, only recording 4.6 per cent GDP growth in Q1 and is expected to remain under five per cent until June 2011.

“In two years, things can’t get much better. But the question is with the government already short of funds, what can BN promise in its next budget?” the Gombak MP told The Malaysian Insider.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng went further, saying “things are going to get worse for Najib.”
“There is no point waiting. The economy is going to be tougher in 2012 and meanwhile, no logical government will allow the likes of (Malay rights group) Perkasa and Utusan Malaysia to run rampant. It shows that Umno ultras are asking for a bigger slice of the pie. Najib is losing the middle ground,” he said.
Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said this was due to the ease with which issues could be politicised post-Election 2008.

“It doesn’t matter what is the timing. Whenever it is, the opposition will just play up an issue for votes. Najib should just ensure the party machinery is ready because from now to 2013, nothing much is going to change,” the Umno division chief said.

Najib, who succeeded Abdullah in April 2009, is said to require an improved performance in the next general election and anything short of reclaiming the ruling coalition’s customary two-thirds of Parliament will put his hold on the prime minister’s office at risk.

But inflation has hit pockets hard, with the consumer price index reaching a two-year high of three per cent in March and continuing to surge to 3.5 per cent last month after the Najib administration was forced to cut subsidies to fuel, electricity and sugar.

This has been coupled with an economy that has recorded four consecutive quarters of slowing growth, down to 4.6 per cent in the first quarter of the year as compared to 10.1 per cent in the same period for 2010.

Former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the prime minister still believes that his economic and government transformation packages will kick in by 2013 and turn the economy around.

“But it is true that with the global uncertainty, there is no crystal ball. Things could get better, but they could also get worse,” the Pandan MP said.

The unfortunate ones of Ladang Bukit Jalil

After living in the estate all their lives, the government now wants to take over the land and shunt them into cubicles called high-rise flats.
FEATURE
PETALING JAYA: There is something whimsical about Ladang Bukit Jalil. The houses still have chimneys, and the roads that lead to these homes look like something out of an Enid Blyton book. The houses are simple, but spacious and sitting inside one of them will make you oblivious to the scorching heat. It seems an idyllic, placid place; nothing about it says that the 41 families residing there are in danger of losing their homes.

But today, however, they have chosen fun over fret, forgetting the bulldozers, local authorities and the police, just to mention a few of their daily concerns.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is invoking the Emergency Ordinance (1969) to evict the 41 families who still reside there, which their lawyer claims is illegal as they are licensed former estate workers.

The foot-high grass has been cut, the tents are up and sound-system plays the latest Tamil hit songs. A row of chairs have been arranged on the still dewy ground for guests and behind this is a table where simple prizes await the children who will win the sporting games a little later. Some are seen already picking out what they think might be theirs for the taking. One child is overheard saying this to a her friend, “Don’t worry. If I win the colour pencils, I will share them with you.”

There is an indelible sense of camaraderie and companionship, not to mention an enviable feeling of security for anyone who chooses to either live there or just stop by for a visit because that’s the kind of people who live in the Bukit Jalil Estate.

For the moment, several students from various local universities are enjoying the hospitality of the entire village. Organised by the Persatuan Pelajar India Malaysia (MISA), the young people are here as part of the Projek 3C (Community Care Circle). This is an effort to encourage better understanding and appreciation of these students for the hardship endured primarily by estate dwellers and other sidelined communities.

“About a month before the project began, MISA visited with the residents and told them about the programme. We want them to know that it’s not about making speeches but doing what needs to be done. The students who will be staying with the residents for two weeks will assist the residents with daily duties while carrying out their own findings on personal experiences of living in the estate,” said Gobi Krishnan, MISA vice-president-cum-organising committee chairman.

And there will be plenty for the students to discover, more so now with the land tussle that is taking place.

A fraction of what’s left


Ladang Bukit Jalil was previously all of 1,800 acres when the government first acquired the estate. “Was” because now it’s down to a paltry 26 acres, with much of the land sold off to private developers such as Berjaya group, Island and Peninsular and Ho Hup.

The Bukit Jalil National Stadium stands on part of this land as does a detention centre for undocumented migrant workers, luxury houses, tolled highways and golf courses, among others. And while all this development was taking place, no concessions were made for these people who had stayed at the estate for the longest time – some for up to 80 years.

Now, only 26 acres of land remain, and there is talk of even this being needed for a burial park. There is a private developer by the name of Bukit Jalil Development Sdn Bhd, waiting to acquire the final bit of land. This private company is allegedly linked to a former Datuk Bandar of Kuala Lumpur, during whose tenure the Ladang Bukit Jalil workers were branded squatters and received notices under the Emergency Ordinance (Clearance of Squatters Regulation) 1969.

In spite of all this, the residents are just asking for four acres of land to house the 41 families which comprise about 160 people. This request has of course been ignored and there are plans to move the families into the tight quarters of high-rise flats.

The residents have been refused the four acres.
About a week into the 3C project, about 30 DBKL and 10 Special Branch officers paid Ladang Bukit Jalil a visit and so did the tractors.

Sivashangari Veloo, a 23-year-old accountancy student from Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, admits that seeing this frightened her initially. “It also made me sad to realise that there are many of us who take our homes for granted when here, they are defending theirs.” Her friend, K Durgashini, was just surprised to find a rubber estate in the Klang Valley. “And it’s not like what I imagined it to be either,” she says.

Gobi says that the difference between Ladang Bukit Jalil and most other similar dwellings is that this one is more of an urban estate. There are rubber trees, but the residents have stopped tapping rubber for a livelihood and only do it to preserve something that is an inherent part of their culture.

You will find a Hindu temple, a Tamil school, a self-contained grocery store, and a community centre ensconced among the quaint wooden houses.

“Some quarters have accused the residents of rejecting modernisation. They aren’t doing any such thing. All they want to do is retain their heritage and culture and live on a land that they have called home for over 80 years. Many of the residents hold good jobs in the city, but prefer to live in the estate,” he says.

A tale of two plantations


Ladang Bukit Jalil is also a tale of two plantations owned by the same company: the Bukit Jalil Estate Agencies (Kinrara Group Estates Sdn Bhd). One estate was acquired by the government, while the other was not, and stayed in private ownership.

The one which was not acquired by the government – Kinrara Estate – gave land and built low-cost terrace houses for its workers. Each worker only needed to fork out about RM5,000 to purchase a house. Other facilities, such as temples and schools, were retained.

What has been given to the workers in the estate acquired by the government, Ladang Bukit Jalil, is in stark contrast.

The workers were not offered low-cost terraced houses and were told to move to high-rise, low-cost flats. Worse still, the government had milked the workers of their remaining labour for another 15 years without paying them EPF, Socso and retirement benefits.

“And after this, the government tells them to get out because the residents are now deemed squatters?” Gobi asks incredulously
Recently, Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam worked out two compensation packages for the now ex-workers, amounting to RM11,000 for some and RM23,000 for others, based on the 15 years they were denied these statutory benefits.

It seems that if the government had not acquired Ladang Bukit Jalil, the ex-workers would have received the same or better benefits like their more fortunate counterparts in Ladang Kinrara, and would now be living on their own landed property.

Up to the 1980s, income from rubber and oil palm played a major role in financing the development of our country. The country prospered and plantation companies reaped huge profits, while plantation workers lived in abject poverty and deprivation generated by below-poverty-line wages and the most backward of wage structures.

Seeing this for what it truly is, four-acres of land as a social wage to compensate for their contribution towards the nation is surely not too much to ask for.

Eviction notices issued to three PJS 1 residents

The residents, also buyers of the stalled Block E project, were told to vacate their homes by Aug 3 or face action under the National Land Code.


PETALING JAYA: Three buyers of the stalled Block E low cost flat project in PJS 1 were issued eviction notices by the Petaling Land Office, instructing them to vacate their homes by Aug 3.

The buyers; B Maniarasan, A Bavani and Galinti ak Gemuk, who are currently living in the Kampung Muniandy squatter settlement, were issued the notices on July 21.

The notices, signed by Petaling assistant district officer Yahaya Hassan, indicated that action would be taken against the trio under Section 425 of the National Land Code, including demolishing their premises, should they fail to comply with the directive.

In 2003, over 270 families were relocated from Kampung Muniandy, Kampung Petaling Tin and Kampung Pinang by developer Peter Brickworks Sdn Bhd after promising to build low cost flat units for them.

While the developer had built four blocks of the flat unit, Peter Brickworks failed to build Block E at a site near Taman Kanagapuram due to an injunction obtained by the residents there.

Block E residents action committee chairman M Sugumaran said the three buyers are still living in the remaining houses in Kampung Muniandy as they were not offered alternative housing since 2003.

“I’m not sure why they didn’t get them. This is something you must check with the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and the developer,” said Sugumaran when queried on the matter.

Sugumaran and the buyers had since taken up the matter with the Selangor state exco for housing Iskandar Abdul Samad, whose assistant, Lt. (Rtd) Kamaruzaman Ahmad Nor yesterday had promised to resolve the matter for them.

A police report had also been filed at the Petaling Utama police station yesterday.

Sugumaran then criticised the state government for failing to resolve the problems faced by the buyers despite the promises made by the state government last month.

“The Selangor state government had said that it will not evict anyone forcefully. It’s just empty talk. They should have settled the buyers’ problems first before issuing eviction notices,” he said.

In a reply via text message, Kamaruzaman said the land office and MBPJ would hold a meeting with the three buyers on Friday to resolve the matter.

“We will investigate the matter but they need to bring proof that they are buyers of the stalled flat project. As far as I know, the Block E buyers are living either in the longhouses or in Lembah Subang,” he said.

Last month, the Selangor state government announced that it would build the low cost flats for the residents after years of delay by Peter Brickworks in carrying out the project.

However, the state government had yet to commence the project pending a discussion with the federal government and resolving the buyers’ unpaid interest charges worth about RM1.1 million. - FMT

The ghosts of Mahathirism

Najib has failed the leadership test in his handling of Bersih 2.0.
COMMENT - FMT
Is Mahathirism back with a vengeance?

Recent events do make it seem like the Najib regime has decided to adopt the former prime minister’s authoritarian style in saving its flagging political fortunes. It has resorted to using draconian laws and shameless propaganda in the face of an awakening electorate and increasing exposures of its misdeeds.
The government seems to have ignored the strong signal given by the 2008 election result that Malaysians want more democratic space. And what was Bersih 2.0’s July 9 rally if not a reaffirmation of that demand?

But instead of using the occasion to promote his much-vaunted liberalist image, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak seemed to have done what Dr Mahathir Mohamad would have done—crush them and damn what the world says.

After May 13, 1969, Mahathir ominously proclaimed: “There is not going to be a democracy in Malaysia. There never was and there never will be.” He was speaking then as a critic of the government, but during his 22-year tenure as prime minister, he seemed to have applied himself to ensuring that his prediction would be realised.

Khoo Boo Teik, in his Paradoxes of Mahathirism, wrote: “Certainly Mahathir did not balk at using authoritarian means to restore his control over mass dissent in October 1987. Then he professed to lament the irresponsibility of misfits who had abused his liberalism, not unlike how, after May 13, 1969, he spoke of the immaturity of the people as an obstacle to the full practice of democracy.”

The Mahathir era witnessed the full exploitation of repressive laws, notably the Internal Security Act and the Police Act. The latter law requires police permits for public gatherings. This condition was stringently enforced against opposition groups but ignored for government parties. Things have not changed.

Mahathir’s government amended the Societies Act in 1981 and the Official Secrets Act in 1986 to constrict further the arena of public debate. It also consistently exploited its two-thirds majority in Parliament to make constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening its political position.

Money politics

It was also during the Mahathir era that the Malaysian judiciary lost its independence and respectability. Mahathir tried to keep whittling away at that independence even in the last years of his tenure. In 1999, he was quoted as suggesting that the judiciary needed further reform because judges “tend to favour” the opposition.

The practice of “money politics” deepened its roots during the Mahathirism era. Scholars Graham K Brown, Siti Hawa Ali and Wan Manan Muda wrote in their research paper on Policy Levers in Malaysia: “Initially, under the guise of the 1971 promulgated New Economic Policy, the regime developed a fearsome machinery for dispensing patronage to supporters of the government. This money politics involves both state and private funds the BN parties control between them, a massive corporate empire that operates on the individual, corporate and even state level. The abuse of public funds is often unabashed.”

Another defining feature of Mahathir rule was electoral gerrymandering. A Commonwealth observer group invited to oversee the 1990 general election concluded that the conduct of the elections in the country was free but not fair.

Academician Lim Hong Hai, who conducted research on the delineation of electoral constituencies, said regular constitutional re-delineation exercises carried out by the “nominally independent” elections committees invariably favoured the ruling regime.

In the 1999 general election, the BN regime won more than three quarters of the electoral seats on a popular vote of barely 56%. There were allegations of actual fraud during the election, but these have always been difficult to substantiate with proof.

In October 2003, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi succeeded Mahathir, inheriting a governing structure and a political system centralised in the hands of the prime minister. But he promised reforms and, largely on the strength of those promises, helped BN win a landslide victory in the 2004 general election.

But the ghosts of Mahathirism got the better of Abdullah. Vested interests in BN, particularly Umno, prevented him from delivering on those promises. And so he met his Waterloo in 2008.

Leadership blunders


Will Najib repeat the same mistakes? Before Bersih 2.0, many used to argue that Najib, born a snake according to the Chinese horoscope, was unlikely to commit the same leadership blunders, despite the limited success of his 1Malaysia campaign and widespread criticism surrounding his “transformation from within” rhetoric.

However, his handling of the Bersih issue has changed that perception somewhat. In the age of the social media, it is indeed a major mistake to resurrect the ghosts of Mahathirism, which thrived on government propaganda aimed at an electorate that had little access to alternative information.

The glossary of words used in Internet discussions about the anti-Bersih operation are telling: “demonise, discredit, doublespeak, double standards, draconian detention”.

Najib has failed in the leadership test, principally because of his failure to exorcise the ghosts Mahathirism.

Should we allow our nation to be made the laughing stock of the 21st century by our dependence on the communist bogey to silence dissent and by our use of black ink to censor articles widely available on the Internet?

Ironically, the one way we can escape ridicule is by following an advice given by Mahathir himself. In a press interview in 1995, he said the only form of censure he found acceptable for an elected government was its replacement through an election. “Hence, if they prefer another government, they are welcome to it.”

The choice is yours, Malaysians.

Stanley Koh is a former head of MCA’s research unit. He is also an FMT columnist.

Hard talk

The Sun
by PAULINE WONG


> Deputy EC chief comes under fire from Bersih supporters at forum

SHAH ALAM: The Election Commission yesterday faced up to its harshest critics – supporters of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0).

In a forum discussion held at the Karangkraf headquarters, deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar took questions that came hard and fast from the hundreds-strong crowd.

He was part of three-person panel which included Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Ethnic Studies Institute director Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri.

The questions were on the issues raised both by Bersih and the opposition front, namely cleaning up of electoral rolls, phantom voters, and vote-buying.

Said Wan Ahmad: “We are defending ourselves from bullets from all directions. We do not favour the Barisan Nasional. We hold discussions with all parties, We cannot remove names without verification from the National Registration Department.”

He insisted that the EC is but a management body to manage elections and it is the police that enforce the law.

To a heckling, jeering crowd, Wan Ahmad explained that a booklet which was released by EC on July 13 had explained these very issues.

“We have nothing to hide but you must keep an open mind,” said a visibly frustrated Wan Ahmad, who was constantly booed by the crowd.

Tempers frayed as a lawyer stood up to ask Ambiga if Bersih would continue to “break the law” by holding illegal assemblies. Ambiga replied that the Federal Constitution gives the right to assemble.

“However, there are provisions and restrictions imposed but if they restrict and contradict the right of the Federal Constitution to the point they become illusory, then the provisions are void,” she said.

She then turned to Wan Ahmad, asking if the EC is prepared to set up a committee comprising representatives from political parties as well as NGOs to look into these issues.

“We are open to suggestions,” replied Wan Ahmad, to more boos from the crowd. “We will invite all political parties and NGOs to EC to hear their suggestions.”

Several times, the moderator had to warn the crowd to stop heckling.

On why the plan to use indelible ink was shelved, Wan Ahmad said less than two weeks after EC announced the use of the ink, reports were received on people wanting to use indelible ink with the intent to sabotage elections and EC decided to take the safe route.

“You laugh. You heckle. In politics, anything can happen. We did not want to take the chance of anyone getting his hands inked  forcibly,” he said.

He said the biometric system will be the best way to solve the issue of phantom voters.

However, Ambiga disagreed, saying that indelible ink has been used in many countries including India and Indonesia.

“It is a cheap and effective way to ensure the authenticity of the voting system if the biometric system cannot be implemented on time for the next general election,” she said.

When asked why it is so difficult for the EC to implement the use of indelible ink, Wan Ahmad said this is because Malaysia is an advanced country.

“We are moving forward. The countries which use the ink are those countries which do not have identity cards and biometric records like we do,” he said.

“We will clean the roll based on the authenticity of the biometric data. It is foolproof. Give us the chance to explain. We are in the final stages of planning for the biometric system. Don’t make assumptions based on perceptions."

No detention for child offenders

The New Straits Times
by Masami Mustaza


KUALA LUMPUR: The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry will amend the Child Act 2001 to prevent children who commit minor offences from being sent to juvenile detention centres.

Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the ministry was looking to implement a restorative justice system for juvenile offenders in line with the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Malaysia ratified in 1995.

Speaking after chairing the National Council of Advisers and Consultants for Children meeting yesterday, she said the amendments to the act were expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

Shahrizat added that children who committed minor offences -- such as stealing chickens, shoes, mobile phones, motorcycles, house-breaking or for failing to carry their identification cards with them -- should not be allowed to languish in juvenile detention centres.

"They should be given counselling or sent for rehabilitation. It doesn't benefit children when they are put under remand longer than necessary or when they are forced to be at the detention centres while waiting for their cases to end."

Child offenders should, instead, be put under a community service order programme, she added.

This would facilitate their re-integration into society and prevent them from mingling with bad hats at detention centres.

Malaysia Early Childcare and Education Council president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng said the council was looking at restorative justice systems for children used in Singapore, Philippines and New Zealand before deciding on the best approach for Malaysia.

She said Singapore used a mediation system that allowed child offenders to make amends or to pay compensation for their errors.

The council, she added, had interviewed and observed child offenders at Asrama Akhlak and Sekolah Tunas Bakti detention centres as well as the police lockup.

"Many of these children are not criminals. They are ignorant or had committed offences due to circumstances. Some committed offences because they were dared by friends in the name of fun."

Dr Chiam said what these children needed was guidance so that they could contribute to society.

Lawyer Raj Preet Kaur lauded the ministry's move, saying the restorative justice system would work better for children who had committed minor crimes, especially first-time offenders.

"Juvenile detention centres are no place for most child offenders. They need more counselling."

However, this would have to be based on a case-to-case basis, for example, by looking at the extent of the offence committed, the circumstances involved and whether the child was a repeat offender, she added.

"Mediation will not work for every child, especially those who lean towards the wrong side of the law and must be punished."

Lawyer Suraj Singh. who agreed with Raj Preet, cited his client, 15, who is charged with raping a minor.

He said it was consensual sex between his client and the boy's girlfriend.

In cases such as this, the accused could be sentenced up to three years' jail and placed at the Henry Gurney School, he said.

Suraj said the Compulsory Attendance Act 1954 could order offenders to perform community service but many public prosecutors were not familiar with it and usually pressed for a deterrent sentence.

"There are learning facilities at Henry Gurney and there are inmates who had come out on top in their examinations, but it's hard for them to be accepted when they rejoin society because of negative perception.

"Pre-approved schools are also rife with disciplinary problems because the inmates don't receive attention and love from their parents while serving their sentences."

He said there should be mandatory reconciliation and counselling for children and parents with the addition of community service.

Pakistan, two rebel hearts

Pakistan
Pakistan - fleeing an unjust law

She is a Muslim and he is a Christian. The law stands between them. Following family feuds they have fled in search of a better life

MAURO PIANTA turin
Hopefully now that they have hidden themselves and are safe, no one will be able to touch Salma and Stephen. The names are fictional but their story, unfortunately, is not.  

Their relationship could have been like that of any young boy and girl from any country in the world. It could have been, but this is Pakistan. In Kharian, a city between Islamabad and Lahore, a Muslim woman cannot fall in love with a Christian man, let alone marry him. The law makes sure of that.

Salma and Stephen met at high school. At first the law seemed to far away. They fell in love and continued seeing each other in secret even after starting university: he studied IT and she studied literature.

 But the law is vigilant and merciless. The Vatican Insider learnt from anonymous local sources that last May, the voice of the law spoke through the girl’s mother: “Forget it, you know how it works. You have to forget about him…” The answer she got in reply was not much appreciated by established order. Then Salma’s brother came on the scene. Apparently “He started screaming at his sister. Then he went and had an argument with Stephen’s brothers and the whole thing ended in a punch up.”

 Salma’s family decided to ground her. “She’ll have time to think things over better this way.” But she sneak a mobile phone into her room. And so, trapped in the nightmare she found herself in, she managed to keep in touch with Stephen for quite a while, exchanging a few words each night. Finally made a decision: it was better to escape than suppress their feelings. Their souls were on the brink of hell, they met in the dark, after an entire day filled with tears and prayers.

In the morning, Salma’s father was overflowing with rage: “It was the Christians. Now we will kidnap any Christian girl we find nearby.” The parents of Christian families in the neighbourhood are having to let their daughters flee. And even Stephen’s relatives have been forced to escape.
 
Hopefully no one can touch Salma and Stephen any more. But some one had better do something to touch up that awful law.

Newsflash: Apa Selepas 9 Julai?





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Police culture of impunity has worsened, says group

(Malaysiakini) The culture of impunity that surrounds the work of the police and other law enforcement agencies has worsened, according to a human rights report by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) for 2010.

Even as complaints against the police have mounted, the police appear to be getting more "trigger-happy" by the year.

Unless there is immediate change whereby the authorities operate in a more transparent and accountable manner, the number of people dying from police bullets and within police custody will climb further, said the report.

NONERevealing the findings today, Suaram chairperson K Arumugam (left) predicted that the situation will worsen due to the authorities' failure to halt the downward slide in the human rights situation.

“The human rights situation next year will worsen as people in power do not want to change. They cling to power instead of fighting for liberty," said the activist lawyer.

The report was launched today in Kuala Lumpur by Suaram.

Also present at the launch was 32-year-old noodle seller Ho Chei Hang, who was shot by police last year.

Ho, whose case were among those documented in the Suaram report, was shot four times in the back by police on November 16.

"My husband had an operation in January to remove the last bullet in him, but the operation failed. The doctor said that the bullet was too close to a blood vessel," said Ho's wife, Tan Chsiew Yong.

The police have said they believed Ho was a suspected drug-trafficker who had tried to ram into their officers.

Police shootings on the rise
The report documented a similar explanation by police over the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Aminurulrasyid Amzah after a high speed car chase on April 26, 2010.

NONEPolice had claimed that Aminurulrasyid (right) had attempted to reverse his vehicle into police officers, forcing them to open fire.

In addition to Aminulrasyid, a total of 18 other individuals - foreigners and locals - were shot dead by police last year, states the report.

The report attributed the trend of police shooting to “systematic non-compliance” and disregard for human rights by the authorities and their lack of political will to ensure robust investigation into such cases.

“Every complaint of abuse of power is an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and improve the police force and other enforcement agencies.

“Yet, the authorities continue to resist such demands for systematic change,” the report reads.

It recommended that the police force be open up to independent investigation through the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct (IPCMC) and a Coroner's Court to arrest the present trend of police shootings.

Echoing the recommendations, Suaram director Kua Kia Soong, insisted that IPCMC must be set up if the immunity currently enjoyed by the police despite abuses is to stop.

Bersih: Use indelible ink until biometric reliability proven

SHAH ALAM, July 26 — Electoral reform group Bersih said today the use of indelible ink remains the cheapest and most effective way to prevent fraud, but it is still open to the proposed biometric system as long as it can be implemented in a transparent manner.

Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan raised concerns whether the proposed biometric system could be implemented before the next general election, and also whether the system would rely on data from the National Registration Department (NRD).

Ambiga said the EC must furnish to the public more details on the biometric system before rushing to implement it. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The Election Commission (EC), she said, must furnish to the public more details on the biometric system before rushing to implement it.
 
“The EC must explain everything in full; will it be ready by GE13?

“The data has to also be of integrity; will it rely on data provided from the NRD?

If the biometric system is tied to the NRD, and if the department cannot determine which voters are deceased, then this is a grave concern,” she said during a public forum here with EC deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.

Ambiga said the EC should be open to the option of indelible ink, adding that this was a cheap and effective solution.

“If GE is soon, I do not think the biometric system can be implemented. You have to do dry runs throughout the country, and explain how it works. Will it also be tamper-proof?” she said.

The former Bar Council chairman also stressed the need for automatic voter registration, saying that the election system should be geared towards making sure those age 21 and above should vote.

“The whole process (biometric system) must also be transparent, from the tender process to the implementation,” she said.

In response, Wan Ahmad said the biometric system would be the “best way” to solve the problems concerning the current electoral roll.

“Through fingerprint scans, no two persons will have the same biometry. When it is ready, the biometric system will be matched with 12 million registered voters,” he said.

But the EC deputy head was mum when asked by reporters later whether it could implement the new system by the next general election.

“Elections are up to when Parliament is dissolved... We can only speculate, but we don’t know when that is,” he told a news conference.

Bersih claimed that 50,000 people showed up for its July 9 rally for electoral reforms despite efforts to prevent the gathering from taking place. Police said there were 6,000.

The protest turned chaotic when police fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and the death of former soldier Baharuddin Ahmad, 59.

The government has promised to investigate allegations of police brutality while the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will hold a separate public inquiry into police conduct during the rally.

Biometric voting system a sham?

Sarawak DAP believes the biometric voting system can be manipulated by the Election Commission.

KUCHING: The biometric voting system being touted by the Election Commission (EC) is not a solution to a free and fair election process.

According to state opposition DAP, the system can “still be manipulated”.

The EC had said that it would introduce the biometric system for the coming parliamentary election.
But state DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen thinks otherwise.

“The biometric system can still be manipulated.
“Secondly, it is too costly. The EC needs to have thumb-print reader in every stream and in every polling station.

“It’s not practical. We would prefer the EC to use the indelible ink. It is much cheaper. This is our party’s stand,” he said.

In the last parliamentary election, the EC was supposed to use the indelible ink.

The EC had bought RM2.9 million worth of ink from overseas but at the eleventh hour, it decided not to use it due to “security reasons”.

End to phantom voters

Defending the biometric system, EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mod Yusuf said here it will put an end to allegations of “phantom voters”.

He said phantom voters will no longer “exist” in the electoral lists once the biometric system is used to verify registered voters.

He said that over the years the EC has been receiving allegations and accusations about the existence of phantom voters and it has never stopped.

“In fact, there is no end to this (accusations of phantom voters).

“This system will demolish its existence,” he said, adding that the system was not a new invention as it was currently used by the Home Ministry, national anti-drugs agency, the Immigration and the police.

Issue of trust

But yesterday, a Bersih 2.0 steering committee member, Wong Chi Huat, said it was not the system itself which was being questioned.

“I don’t trust the biometric system because I don’t believe the EC has the competence and integrity to prevent rigging and other abuses,” he said.

He also questioned the EC’s ability and competence in maintaining the system and “detecting or eliminating” hacking by an external party.

Drawing an analogy to the usage of online banking for transactions, Wong said the issue now was trust.
“Do you trust the EC and can it guarantee the biometric system is foolproof ?

“The issue here is the level of trust in EC to implement the biometric system and much depends on the integrity of the EC itself,” he said.

Indian students victimised again

MIC leader disputes figures provided by Higher Education Ministry on allocation of places in varsities for the community.

PETALING JAYA: The new 2011 local universities admissions list released recently has once again riled the Indian community over allocations of places for its students.

According to a Higher Education Ministry source, out of the total 41,267 seats allocated nationwide in local universities, only 1,511 or for just 2.6% had been given to Indian students.

Talking on condition of anonymity, a veteran MIC leader said according to the ministry, there were 64,073 applications submitted to the Unit Pusat Universiti (UPU) for various courses.

“There were 39,998 applications from Malays, 10,677 Chinese, 1,813 Indians and 728 for others. That’s a total of 53,216,” he said.

He, however, disputed the figures. “How come the such a low figure for Indians when almost 20,000 finish their SPM and STPM yearly?” he asked.

“And what about the remaining 10, 857 places unaccounted for from the official figure?
“What happened to the election pledge made by Umno and MIC in 2008 to increase the intake of Indian pupils in local universities to 7.5% or 3,300 seats?”

He criticised Higher Education Minister Mohd Khaled Nordin for not being sensitive to Indian students’ aspirations to pursue critical courses.

According to him, there were only 50 seats awarded to Indian students out of the total 1,000 seats for medical courses.

“Four seats were given in dentistry, seven in pharmacy and 37 for mathematics courses and out of the 3,500 engineering admissions, only 83 were allocated to Indians.”

“Who will take the responsiblity for this?” he asked, adding that prime minister Najib Tun Razak and MIC president G Palanivel must clear the air at the party’s AGM over the weekend.

Tamil studies courses

Meanwhile, in a related development, another MIC leader urged the higher education ministry to explain the seat allocation to Indian students in Universiti Malaya.

E Segaran, the Petaling Jaya Selatan MIC division information chief, said only 20 seats were given to the Indian students for the courses related to Tamil studies.

Segaran claimed the ministry had deliberately denied places to 280 students who qualified to pursue courses of their choice.

“This is clear cut discrimination against the Indian community,” he told FMT.

Segaran added that by keeping to a minimum the intake of students for Tamil related courses, there will be dearth of graduate teachers in vernacular schools.

He said it was strange that while the education ministry was urging more Indian students to take Tamil related studies to fill shortage of teachers in Tamil school, the higher education ministry is denying them places for such studies.

According to him the Tamil courses in UM is highly sought after by the Indian students.

“So is there a problem with higher education ministry to grant more seats?” he asked. “I’ve already raised this issue at the recent Selangor MIC AGM.

“I sincerely hope prime minister Najib Tun Razak will intervene and help address the problem and resolve it soon,” said Segaran. - FMT

Bourdon disputes minister’s claim

The French lawyer disputes Hishammudin Hussein's accusations of a social visa violation.
EXCLUSIVE
PETALING JAYA: Prominent French human rights lawyer William Bourdon is baffled to learn that his deportation is attributed to a violation of his social visa.

According to him, he never had such a visa in the first place.

Home Minister Hishammudin Hussein yesterday said that Bourdon, 55, was deported last Friday because he violated his social visa by giving a speech in Penang and insisted that there was no hidden political agenda.

“I don’t know what the minister is talking about because I didn’t even have a social visa. So it is very strange that he is speaking of one,” Bourdon told FMT in an interview from Paris.

His fiancee, Lea Forrestier, confirmed this in a later text message and added that citizens of the European Union do not need a visa for travel into Malaysia.

She also said that the only documentation Bourdon had filled up was a small card on which he had clearly specified that he was in Malaysia for “professional purposes”.

“My personal interpretation is that there is political motivation behind my deportation. There was no basis for the decision. And this is a very sensitive case for Malaysia,” Bourdon said.

Bourdon had first arrived in Penang on July 21 to speak at his client’s dinner on the controversial Scorpene submarine deal between Malaysia and France.

His speech at the Ops Scorpene fundraising dinner in Bayan Baru had reached – and burnt – government ears, for the lawyer, who was scheduled to give a talk here and in Ipoh, was detained by immigration authorites and sent home the next day.

His client, Suaram, had hired Bourdon in 2009 to file a case against French naval giant DCNS over irregularities in the Scorpene deal that allegedly involved millions of ringgit in kickbacks.

The French authorities are currently probing the deal, which was also linked to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Who should lead Pakatan after Anwar?



Nizar Jamaluddin
The truth is Pakatan needs Sabah and Sarawak to win the upcoming General Election and PKR is not helping by making mistake after mistake in these two states. I would say that the most suitable leader to replace Anwar if he is found guilty in the sodomy trial as Pakatan leader should come from either DAP or PAS. The opposition needs a good politician as its leader and currently in my humble opinion PKR has none of them.
by Zamiel Geta Hussaini, Malaysian Digest   
Of all people, it was legendary American footballer Joe Namath once said,"“To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn't know where he is going.” In the context of Pakatan Rakyat, the current leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is currently facing heaps of challenges to the point of hinting on the possibility that he might have to face incarceration yet again. I'm very sure that Pakatan is seriously considering a name to replace their charismatic leader in the event that he is found 'guilty' in his second sodomy trial.
Nik Aziz and Kit Siang
The tricky part is actually to find the most suitable candidates to fill in Anwar’s shoes, a leader who is one hundred percent sure of his political direction. They are only a few that meet this requirement, DAP parliamentary leader and Ipoh Timor MP, Lim Kit Siang being one of them. But bear in mind that Kit Siang is not getting any younger, he is 70. Then there is PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat who is 80 this year.
Other then these two prominent veterans, who else would be the most fitting person to become Pakatan chief? We are not just talking about being an MP, state assemblyman or a minister. We are talking about the possibility of naming the next Malaysian Prime Minister if ever Pakatan manage to take over Putrajaya.
Lim Guan Eng
DAP seems to have a few adept candidates. Number one is its Secretary General and Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng. With his leadership Penang has become the No. 1 state for total capital investments in 2010 attracting RM12,238 million, up nearly five times as compared to RM2,165 million In 2009 and comprising 26% of Malaysia’s total investments of RM47,177 million for 2010. This is based on a report by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA). A commendable achievement since that it is a known fact that Penang has been experiencing budget surpluses for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The fact that many people highly regard Guan Eng to be a humble leader is another plus point. But Guan Eng himself in an interview with The Edge confessed that he has no higher ambitions. He claimed there are many people more qualified than me to be the prime minister.
Tony Pua
Then there’s Tony Pua who is the Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara. Pua who graduated from Keble College, Oxford University is definitely one of the most prominent MPs from DAP in Dewan Rakyat. Pua currently is one of the most aggressive in pressuring the government on the issues of high profile defense budget.
Mat Sabu
There are also a few names from PAS that could make the list. The leading name is obviously its new deputy president Mohamad Sabu who is also known as Mat Sabu. Mat Sabu is very well known for his public speaking abilities which would be a big advantage for him. The man who had been detained twice under the Internal Security Act (ISA) had recently caused a stir when he claimed he was intentionally rammed by a police car during the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9. The police then screened a video which showed that the motorcycle which Mat Sabu was riding pillion, was not hit by a police Land Rover as alleged, but when the motorcycle was making a "U" turn, it hit the Pajero's (not Land Rover as Mat Sabu had claimed) fender which caused the motorcycle to go out of control before skidding in the Seri Persekutuan housing area.
Khalid Samad
Then there is former Perak Mentri Besar and Bukit Gantang MP, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin. Nizar is especially popular with his ability to speak Mandarin since coming from a half Malay and half Chinese parentage – a perfect combination for a leader of multiracial Malaysia. Another popular name from PAS is Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad. Khalid is known for his unconventional approach. In my opinion Khalid has taken actions that merit praise, like visiting a church after his win during the elections. And yet he was criticized by Umno leaders for it earning the nickname 'Khalid Gereja'.

I've been naming potential leaders from PAS and DAP and yet none from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). It’s in my opinion that I can't find a single leader that are talented enough to take over the highly demanding position of the opposition leader. I've always believed that PKR is lacking in leaders who are real politicians since most of them came from NGO background. They can fight for the rakyat and I'm pretty sure that almost all of them have good intentions. But what is lacking is that that their ability to make good political decisions. PKR have been known to make a number of mistakes like its tussle with SNAP which had affected both parties performance during the Sarawak state election.

The fact that PKR is filled with former disgruntled Umno members doesn't help either. This was reflected in its party election. There were claims of corruption during the election resulted in the departure of a number of top leaders including Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and N Gobalakrishnan.

The truth is Pakatan needs Sabah and Sarawak to win the upcoming General Election and PKR is not helping by making mistake after mistake in these two states. I would say that the most suitable leader to replace Anwar if he is found guilty in the sodomy trial as Pakatan leader should come from either DAP or PAS. The opposition needs a good politician as its leader and currently in my humble opinion PKR has none of them.

Nazri agrees to debate with Kit Siang over Teoh RCI

KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz today declared his willingness to debate the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Teoh Beng Hock’s death with Lim Kit Siang.

Through his media officer, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who is now in London, said he would accept Lim’s offer but suggested that the meeting with the DAP stalwart be held after the fasting month of Ramadan.

In a blog posting yesterday, Lim had slammed Nazri (picture) for saying that the Teoh RCI had absolved the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) of murder charges and called on the minister to justify his stand.

He invited Nazri to do so at a forum tonight entitled “Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission Inquiry Report — Where is the promised truth?” scheduled for 7.30pm at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here.

In a Twitter posting this afternoon, Nazri’s aide said: “Nazri Aziz accepted YB Lim Kit Siang’s challenge for a debate as posted on the latter’s fcbk @limkitsiang stil waitng 4 a response from YB.”

The aide added: “Nazri accepted the challenge n suggested the forum is 2 b held after Ramadhan” and explained later that the minister is now in London for the 57th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference which goes on until Thursday.

When contacted, Lim acknowledged the tweet and said he would respond at tonight’s forum.
“I did not use the word ‘debate’... I invited him to the forum tonight to explain his position. But, through his officer, he said he accepted the debate so I will respond tonight,” he said.

On Twitter again, Nazri’s aide wrote: “Nazri mahu forum mesti diadakan juga, tidak kisah dimana, berapa ramai dan siapa lagi ahli forum, dia tunggu dgn kesabaran.” (Nazri wants this forum to be held, regardless of where, how many people and whoever else takes part in it, he patiently waits.)

Lim’s challenge to Nazri came following the latter’s interview with Utusan Malaysia carried on Sunday where he declared that there was no need to form another RCI although Teoh’s family rejected the panel’s conclusion that Teoh had committed suicide.

In the interview, Nazri had also said that although the MACC needs to revamp itself, the RCI had absolved it of murder charges and this should not be questioned further.

But Lim refuted all charges, reiterating his stand that the MACC should be held responsible for the tragedy as the RCI had discovered that Teoh’s suicide had resulted from the “aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation” by its officers. - TMI

Malaysia and Australia seal deal for asylum seekers

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Australia have inked a landmark agreement to transfer and resettle asylum seekers.

Under the agreement, Malaysia will take up to 800 asylum seekers arriving by boat, in return for Australia accepting 4,000 processed refugees.

It was signed by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein andAustralian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

The process is expected to take four years to complete and will be funded by Australia to the tune of RM940mil.

The announcement for the agreement was made on May 7 by AustralianPrime Minister Julia Gillard.

While the start date for the exchange of asylum seekers has yet to be finalised, the first batch of transfers is expected to take place this year.

Hishammuddin and Bowen said Monday the deal reflected both countries' commitment to solve human trafficking and other issues such as terrorism and arms and drug smuggling.

Hishammuddin said this agreement was the first of its kind in the world and an "out of the box" approach to tackling such issues.

Bowen said the Australian government would spend A$292mil over the next four years under the deal.

On Sunday, Australia's Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said in Melbourne that the Australia-Malaysia asylum seeker swap deal had already deterred a very large number of asylum seeker boat arrivals.

"We want to treat people fairly. We do know that this is an innovative approach and we do believe it will undermine the people smugglers' model which is effectively saying 'if you get on this vessel we will get you to Australia and you will be settled there,'" O'Connor told ABC's "Insiders" chat programme Sunday.

That had led to people undertaking perilous voyages which sometimes ended in tragedy, he said.

"Indeed, since the announcement on May 7, we have seen a very significant decline in irregular arrivals in that period. Five hundred or so people have arrived, compared with... 1,700 in the same period last year.

"We are already seeing impacts as a result of the announcement," he said.

Vedanta: time to give up on Niyamgiri mine 26 July

Vedanta's AGMs have seen numerous protests against the planned bauxite mine.
Vedanta's AGMs have seen numerous protests against the planned bauxite mine.
© Survival
FTSE100 company Vedanta Resources will face vocal protests tomorrow from Survival and other groups telling the company to give up on their notorious Niyamgiri mine in Orissa, India.
Vedanta was denied permission to mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, home of the Dongria Kondh tribe who have been vigorously protesting against the mine. Now the issue has returned to India’s Supreme Court. At tomorrow’s AGM the company will be told by protesters inside and outside the meeting to respect the stance of both the government and the Dongria Kondh and to give up on the Niyamgiri mine.
Actor and Survival supporter Michael Palin, who has visited the Dongria Kondh, said today, ‘I am very disappointed that the decision to stop Vedanta’s mine by India’s Environment Minister is now being challenged in the Courts. Vedanta needs, once and for all, to abandon this ill-conceived project and respect the rights of the Dongria Kondh people.’
The Dongria Kondh have repeatedly said they don't want Vedanta to mine their sacred mountain.
The Dongria Kondh have repeatedly said they don't want Vedanta to mine their sacred mountain.
© Survival
Several shareholders have disinvested a total of over US$40m from Vedanta in protest over the Niyamgiri mine project and other concerns over the company’s human rights and environmental record. Asset manager Aviva Investors has declared that it will not support key resolutions at tomorrow’s AGM due to concerns over the company’s behaviour.
Stephen Corry, Director of Survival, said today, ‘When shareholders are disinvesting, and expressing serious concerns about company conduct, it’s time to reconsider policy. Vedanta should respect the resounding ‘no’ from the Indian government and abandon the Niyamgiri mine: it might go some way to righting its appalling human rights record.’
Note to editors:
Vedanta’s AGM is at 3pm on July 27th at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE.  The demonstration starts at 2pm.