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Monday, August 8, 2011

Malaysians against racism

Astro programmes: ‘Palanivel solicited RM5m’

MIC chief G Palanivel is questioned over his use of a party letterhead to solicit for RM5 million from the Prime Minister's Department on behalf of a private company.

PETALING JAYA: MIC president G Palanivel is accused by a branch chairman of practicising cronyism by soliciting RM5 million funding from the government on behalf of a private company.

His loyalists, however, reject the claim, stating that Palanivel was not aware of the financial workings of the project – a community development TV programmes to be aired on Astro Vanavil.

The issue is over a letter signed by Palanivel on a MIC letterhead and addressed to the Prime Minister’s Department, requesting the sum for the community development TV programmes.

Palanivel, in the letter dated March 7, asked for the amount on behalf of Vanakkam Malaysia Dotcom Sdn Bhd for two programmes called “Paarvai” (Outlook) and “Malarchi” (Development).

The Tamil language programmes consist of a daily community bulletin and two weekly magazines to cater to the Indian community. Currently, only “Paarvai” is on air every weekend.

Under the proposal, the daily production cost of the 365-episode “Paarvai” is listed as RM8,000, while “Malarchi” is produced at a cost of RM40,000 for two episodes a week, other documents seen by FMT revealed.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak launched “Paarvai” at the Tamil New Year celebrations organised by MIC in April this year.

A check by FMT also revealed that Vanakkam Malaysia Dotcom is owned by M Thiagarajan, a Bernama TV Tamil news reader and RG Desigan, a former RTM staff.

‘Why not funds for education instead?’

While Palanivel’s letter sought RM5 million for the two programmes, it could not be ascertained if the full amount was disbursed by Prime Minister’s Department.

“It is not important how much the prime minister gave for the programmes. The issue is why must Palanivel ask the prime minister to fund a private outfit?” asked a MIC branch chairman.

“There are several programmes with similar content as ‘Paarvai’ being aired on Astro. So, what’s the necessity for another programme to cater to the Indian community?”
“It’s a case of Palanivel abusing his position as a leader of the Indian community and indulging in cronyism,” said the branch chairman.

He wants Palanivel to explain why he sent the proposal letter on behalf of Vanakkam Malaysia Dotcom.
“The community has been sidelined in the past 54 years, especially in education. So, what is the point of pleading for funds for TV programmes and not for education?” he asked.

When contacted, MIC information chief VS Mohan said the party had nothing to do with the programmes or the company.

“Despite the programmes being launched by the prime minister at the new year celebrations, the programmes do not belong to the MIC at all,” he said.

Palani has no knowledge over funding

However, MIC central working committee member KP Samy said that the programmes were MIC’s “brainchild”.

He said Palanivel had suggested and proposed the programmes to the government as a way to uplift the community but had no knowledge of the financial aspects.

“The budget issue involves Astro, Vanakkam Malaysia and the government,” said Samy, a close Palanivel ally.

“Of course, ‘Paarvai’ was launched during the MIC’s event but the president has no idea of any financial dealings behind the programme,” he told FMT.

Islamist group backs JAIS action

"Kita bersama Hasan walaupun dia orang PAS jika terbukti dakwaannya itu benar," kata ketua wiranya.
KUALA LUMPUR: Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa (Perkasa) hari ini membuat laporan polis menggesa siasatan dakwaan wujudnya usaha memurtadkan orang Islam dijalankan.

Ketua Wira Perkasa Malaysia Irwan Fahmi Idris membuat laporan itu di Ibu Pejabat Daerah (IPD) Dang Wangi kira-kira 2.30 petang tadi.

Irwan dalam laporannya mahu dakwaan Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais) mengenai usaha untuk memurtadkan orang Islam secara halus iaitu dengan menawarkan bantuan untuk meringankan beban hidup disiasat dengan segera.

Ini berikutan serbuan Jais terhadap satu majlis makan malam di Gereja Methodist Damansara Utama di Petaling Jaya 3 Ogos lalu.

Selain itu, beliau juga mahu agar laporan akhbar Harian Metro dalam temubualnya yang melaporkan salah seorang Muslim mendedahkan mereka diberi Bible dalam bahasa Melayu disiasat.

Katanya, sungguhpun Artikel 11(1) memberikan kebebasan beragama, tetapi masih ada batasnya seperti di Selangor wujud Enakmen Agama Bukan Islam 1988.

Dalam enakmen itu menyebut menjadi satu kesalahan sekiranya seseorang memujuk, mempengaruhi, atau menghasut seorang Islam untuk cenderung kepada agama bukan Islam, atau menjadi pengikut atau ahli agama bukan Islam atau meninggalkan atau membelakangi agama Islam.

Gesa bertindak

“Saya amat mengharapkan pihak berkuasa mengambil tindakan tegas sebelum nasi menjadi bubur.
“Cukupkah dengan beberapa orang yang yang telah dimurtadkan secara berani seperti Aishah Bukhari, Azlina Jailani (Lina Joy) dan sebagainya,” katanya ketika ditemui pemberita diluar perkarangan IPD Dang Wangi.

Sementara itu, beliau turut mempertahankan pendirian Exco Hal Ehwal Agama Islam, Adat Melayu, Infrastruktur dan Kemudahan Awam Selangor Datuk Dr Hasan Ali mengenai serbuan Jais itu.

Katanya, sebagai badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) akan terus menyokong tidak kira parti politik mana pun jika ia menyentuh hal ehwal agama dan kedaulatan Melayu.

“Kita bersama Hasan Ali walaupun dia orang PAS jika terbukti dakwaannya itu benar,” katanya.

Hasan dalam kenyataannya minggu lalu berkata pemeriksaan itu dilakukan selepas Jais memperoleh bukti wujudnya percubaan untuk memurtadkan 12 umat Islam yang menghadiri majlis itu.

Muslim Extremists in India Attack, Threaten Christian Women

By Compass Direct News

NEW DELHI – Four months after a recent convert to Christianity from Islam in eastern India’s West Bengal state was stripped and beaten, about 50 Muslim extremists yesterday disrupted a prayer meeting held in her home, threatening to burn it down if she did not return to Islam, area Christians said.

The extremists warned Selina Bibi of Motijil village in Murshidabad district that if she did not return to Islam, then she must either leave the area or see her house burned down. At her baptism at Believers Church four kilometers from her home on March 29, a large crowd of Muslim extremists disrupted the service, said a pastor identified only as Bashir.

“I pleaded with them to let me at least finish the worship service before they attack us,” he told Compass.
When word of her conversion to Christianity reached her village, another extremist group from Motijil led by Jamal Shaike disrupted the service. Shaike and the others verbally abused the Christians, and he ordered his son who was present at the service to leave immediately, Bashir said.

The pastor said that on April 5, two Muslim women along with members of the extremist group summoned Selina Bibi to one of their homes and forcefully stripped her naked.

“The radicals believe that when any person from the Muslim community becomes Christian, they get Christian marks on their body,” Bashir said. “When the radicals could not find such marks, they started beating her up.”

The Muslim extremists later gathered at the local mosque and resolved to ostracize her until she returned to Islam. She lives only with her two teenage sons.

Selina Bibi told Bashir that her body bore the marks of suffering for the sake of Christ, and that she was being treated like a criminal.

“She was not allowed to buy goods from the store, nor was she allowed to sell any vegetables,” he said.

“They have also restricted her from procuring water from the village well. In spite of the persecutions she constantly faces from the radicals, she has started conducting a Bible study for ladies every Thursday at her home.”

After the extremist threats yesterday, study member Naseema Bibi said she and some of the other women attending the meeting went to the Murshidabad police station to file a complaint. Police called both parties, and they agreed in writing to allow each other to practice their respective faiths, and that police would prosecute any further attacks or disturbances, she said.

Burn Threat

In Natungram, Murshidabad district, Muslim extremists held three Christian women for an hour on July 21, threatening to beat and burn them alive if they continued worshipping Christ, area Christians said.

Moyazan Bibi and Aimazan Bibi of Believers Church told Compass that at 5:30 p.m. they had set out to visit a widow, Suryja Bibi, to share the message of Christ at her invitation. As they reached her house, a large mob of Muslim extremists led by Fakir Shaike, Sajahan Shaike, Manuwar Shaike, Samsul Shaike, Ahamed Shaike and Jalal Shaike blocked their way, pushed them around and verbally abused them for their faith in Christ as they threatened them.

“The extremists called us infidels and held us captive, threatening that they will call a public meeting to socially boycott us,” Aimazan Bibi said. “The extremists angrily shouted that we should not return to our homes, while they continued to mock and push us around.”

The extremists rushed Suryja Bibi, asking her why she invited “infidels” into her home as they were pushing her. One of the assailants twisted her hand, the Christian women said.

“She was injured, but by God’s grace it was not broken,” said Bashir, founder and pastor of the Believers Church. “They warned Suryja Bibi never to call the Christians to her home again or leave the area and they also threatened all the villagers with the dire consequences they will face if they attend Christian meetings or talk to any one of them.”

Suryja Bibi tried to file a police complaint the next day, July 22, but the local Muslim head and other extremists stopped her, threatening to harm her, area Christians said.

Bashir said Suryja Bibi showed interest in hearing more about Christ, and that he met her and her daughters Mamoota and Darju at his house church fellowship on July19.

“Since then, the radicals have warned them not to attend any Christian service or talk to any Christians or else they will be burned alive,” he said.

Naseema Bibi informed Bashir of the incident by phone, and he called police, he said.

“I also tried to call Aimazan,” he said. “At that time she could not take my call, as some radicals were trying to snatch her mobile phone from her.”

Moyazan Bibi said she pleaded with the assailants.

“I asked the attackers what crime have we done for them to torture us in this manner?” she said. “But the enraged extremists brutally pushed us around, furiously shouting at us to convert back to Islam or face dire consequences.”

After holding and harassing the Christian women for about an hour, the extremists fled in fear after they learned that Bashir had contacted the police, the women said.

The area was still tense at press time, with Suryja Bibi and her family unable to attend any Christian meetings as the extremists are closely monitoring them and are prepared to pounce on them at the slightest opportunity, Bashir said.

“We are trying to contact Suryja Bibi, but the radicals are not allowing any Christian to contact or meet her,” he said. “But we are praying for her safety.”

Aizama Bibi and Moyazan Bibi, who two years ago began trusting Christ as their Savior, told Compass that last December the extremists tried to chase them away from the village, threatening to burn them and their houses. They were not allowed to sell and buy in the area and were kept from using the public bathroom and the water well.

The extremists also burned the crops field of Aimazan’s husband, Gaffar. The Christians reported the matter to police, and officers warned the Muslim extremists not to disturb the Christians again.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India last year reported that Muslim extremists in Natungram on Nov. 28, 2010, ostracized another member of Believers Church, keeping Chanda Bibi and her family from selling and buying. They also warned the family to stop attending church services and threatened to impose a fine on her if her family continued to follow Christ.

Mahkamah benarkan Anwar temubual PM, isteri

Chinese punishing ‘cocky’ Umno brother

The general economic independence of the Chinese community in Malaysia gives them the luxury of choice - to choose or not to choose Barisan Nasional.
All is not well with our country. The majority of the Chinese are not going to vote for Barisan Nasional.

Moving from one Chinese based party (MCA) to another( DAP) presents no mental hurdle for the Chinese. They are businesslike in their decisions.

For one, the Chinese are aware that Chinese interests are better looked after by a more aggressive political party.

Secondly, stepping out from Umno’s shadow offers some satisfaction for the Chinese because doing so remits a form of punishment to their cocky big brother

The Chinese have long wanted to teach MCA a lesson. MCA will not be able to stop this rising disenchantment.

Most important of all, the general economic independence of the Chinese gives them the luxury of choice.

They can choose and Umno and BN don’t appear on their radar screen.

MCA will probably be left with five parliamentary seats while MIC will be completely annihilated.

Umno deceiving itself

MIC will be reduced to another People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Indian Progressive Front (IPF) and operate on the same level as KS Nallakaruppan’s party MIUP.

The more pragmatic Indian parties will chose to work with whoever comes into power for the sake of the Indian community.

The Indian parties do not have friends. They have only permanent interests.

Meanwhile Umno veteran Tun Daim Zainuddin’s prognosis of Umno is shattering. It seems Umno people continue to enthrall themselves into believing that all is still well.

They have no inkling that the next general election will be the most formidable fort them.
Some commentators in my blog have said that the opposition Pakatan Rakyat can never influence the kampung people.

What keeps the kampung people loyal at the moment is the reasonably good prices of rubber and palm oil.
They couldn’t care less about the quality of BN and Umno’s leadership.

New stories

They are worried about the roofs over their heads, food on the table, schooling for the children, jobs for them.

But the bumper years of good rubber and palm oil prices are slowly and painfully being cancelled out by the rising cost of living.

The price of essential goods keeps rising while incomes remain stable.

Once that tenuous balance is dislodged, then the full wrath of the people will be seen.
So Umno shouldn’t go on banking on the steadfastness of kampung people.

Their (kampung people) own political perceptions are continuously being moderated by those of their more socially and politically conscious children. Sons and daughters return to kampungs to debrief parents.

The younger generation’s views are shaped by the new media of the Internet, twitters and Facebooks. They tell a different story from those which parents are accustomed to.

The new stories the children bring demolish the once captive minds of the older generation – minds that were once shaped unchallenged by the old tired and boring media.

The excerpt is from the writer’s blog sakmongkolak47. The writer is an FMT columnist and former Umno state assemblyman .

Enter Intraf to look after Indian interests

A new coalition of Indian NGOs will try to makes some changes to the community, especially at the youth and education levels.

PETALING JAYA: There is a new coalition of Indian NGOs with a noble aim – to look after the rights of the minority. But first they will concentrate on trying to make some positive changes to the Indian community.

Calling themselves Intraf (Indian Transformation and Rights Action Front), the NGOs will concentrate on achieving a level playing field for youth and education for the community.

Gobi Krishnan who is Intraf executive secretary claimed that nearly 100 NGOs are with the new coalition.

They have come up with seven initiatives to achieve this.

He said these are called initiatives and not demands or resolutions because the Intraf committee seeks to be involved in the implementation process.

These seven are: United Nations Minorities Protection Act 1948; special Indian economic policy; all Tamil schools must be fully aided; standard exams for university entrance; youth empowerment policies; formation of the Minority Affairs Ministry and fair representation in policy making.

“It’s no secret that the Indian community has been left out and we thought that there should be a group that champions their rights. If you really look at it, there is no one representing us,” he explained.

When asked about the role of MIC, Gobi said: “Their presence here isn’t for the Indian community at all, but instead to act as an agent for the government”.

“With MIC, it’s always a case of, ‘Take what the government gives you. Intraf will be doing things differently,” he said.

Gobi added Intraf would will represent the people directly. “It’s the people who give us the mandate and the community is going to get involved in bringing about this change.”

Intraf eventually hopes to be include everyone considered a minority. “We’re just focusing on the Indian community first as a first step.

“We want to do this properly and make sure that there is equality for all, so taking a step-by-step approach seems the best option. Having said that, we are not going to move slowly either. There is no better time than now to make some positive changes,” he added.

UK lawyers to meet clients for Hindraf suit

The movement's London-based lawyers will be down to meet potential clients for the class action suit against the British government.
By Athi Sankar - FMT,

GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti’s London-based lawyers, who will be here starting Thursday, want to meet potential co-clients for the class action suit against the British government.

In a statement to FMT, Hindraf counsel Imran Khan said he would be in Malaysia for several days to accept instructions from ethnic Indians as their legal representative in order to consider including them as co-claimants in the suit.

The two-man delegation would also engage in a fact-finding mission to obtain first-hand information on the perceived injustices meted out on ethnic Indians.
Hindraf would be organising a public forum on this at the Hokkien Hall in Klang on Aug 14.
Imran said the suit was initiated by Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy due to the former colonial master’s failure to protect the ethnic Indian community’s rights, interests and benefits under the Malaya Federal Constitution.
He said his client saw the legal action as a class action on behalf of current ethnic Malaysian Indians, whose forefathers were transported as labourers under the indentured labour system.
He pointed out that Waythmoorthy’s own great grandfather was forcibly abducted and transported to Malaya as a labourer.

The indentured labour system was devised by the British colonial office to address the acute labour shortage in Malaya. Most ethnic Indians were brought in to work in rubber plantations.

Waythamoorthy’s research of British records on Malaya revealed that rubber export was undisputedly the number one revenue earner for the country for decades, even after independence.

He originally filed the class action suit on Aug 31, 2007, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence, in London seeking US$4 trillion as compensation for Indian Malaysians.

However, the suit was stalled following the Malaysian government’s clampdown on Hindraf and arrest of several lawyers, including Waythamoorthy’s brother and the movement’s legal adviser P Uthayakumar, under the Internal Security Act.

Among others, the suit claimed that after granting independence to Malaya, the British had left the Indians without representation and at the mercy of Malay extremism practiced by the Umno government.

Suit to be re-filed

Following Waythamoorthy’s instruction in 2009 to re-file the stalled class action, Imran had the opportunity to consider several documents pertaining to the independence of Malaya.

After a perusal of the documents, Imran and Waythamoorthy had a conference on issues of relevance with a senior Queen’s Counsel in June, 2010.

“Due to client confidentiality, I am not able to reveal the outcome of the conference,” said Imran.
Acting on the QC’s advice, Imran wrote to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London to request the release of all documents pertaining to Malaya’s independence.

The documents kept under the British Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 were mostly from the period between 1945 and1957.

Imran said FCO recently confirmed that some documents in its possession remained classified.
Access to those documents would not be possible until FCO consulted relevant departments before deciding on whether to declassify the documents.

As of now, the FCO had used its discretionary powers vested under the FoI to deny Hindraf access to the documents.

Following this, Imran took legal steps under the recommended appeal procedure to challenge the FCO decision.

Fitnah 2: Najib, Rosmah diperintah ke mahkamah

(Oleh: Ahmad Fadli)

KUALA LUMPUR: Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak dan isterinya, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor dipanggil ke mahkamah sebagai saksi dalam kes perbicaraan fitnah Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Selain Najib dan Rosmah, mahkamah juga membenarkan pihak pembela, memanggil 18 saksi lain termasuk bekas Ketua Polis Negara, Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

Perkara itu diputuskan Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah pada awal perbicaraan yang menyaksikan hari pertama Anwar dipanggil membela diri.

Zabidin dalam keputusannya berkata apabila pendakwa raya menawarkan saksi maka pendakwaraya bertanggungjawab memastikan saksi hadir ke mahkamah.

Hakim juga bersetuju peguam bela berhak menemubual saksi dengan syarat mereka  sedia dipanggil.
“Justeru, mahkamah membenarkan kedua-dua permohonan (untuk temu bual 15 saksi) termasuk perdana menteri Najib Abdul Razak dan isterinya Rosmah, bekas IGP (Tan Sri Musa Hassan),” katanya.

Dalam permohonan sebelum ini, Anwar memohon mahkamah mengarahkan pihak pendakwa memastikan kehadiran semua saksi, yang ditawarkan  di akhir kes mereka, untuk ditemu bual oleh pihak pembelaan.

Anwar mahu memanggil Najib, Rosmah, pemilik unit kondominium, Hasanuddin Abd Hamid, bekas Ketua Polis Negara Tan Sri Musa Hassan dan bekas Ketua Polis Melaka Datuk Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof.

Selain 5 saksi itu, Ketua Pembangkang itu juga mahu menemu bual 10 saksi alibi. Kesemua 15 saksi berkenaan ialah antara 25 saksi yang mahu ditemu bual oleh pihak pembelaan dalam membuat persediaan bagi kes pembelaan dijadualkan pada hari ini hingga 26 Ogos.

Dr Mohamad Khir Ordered To Enter Defence

SHAH ALAM, Aug 8 (Bernama) -- The High Court here today ordered former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo to enter his defence on the charge of corruption pertaining to the ownership of two lots of land including a bungalow at Section 7, here, four years ago.

Judge Datuk Wira Mohtaruddin Baki made the decision after being satisfied that the prosecution had succeeded in proving a prima facie case against the accused.

"After listening to the oral evidence, documentaries and referring to points of law and studying the arguments presented by both the prosecution and defence, based on maximum evaluation, the prosecution has succeeded to prove a prima facie case aganst the accused," he said in his judgement.

Dr Mohamad Khir is alleged to have obtained for himself and his wife, Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, a valuable property, namely two lots of land and a house at No 8 & 10, Jalan Suasa 7/1L, here from Ditamas Sdn Bhd (Ditamas) through its director, Shamsuddin Hayroni.

The property, located at Section 7, was purchased at a price of RM3.5 million, although the purchase price by Ditamas on Dec 23, 2004 was RM6.5 million.

The transaction was alleged to have been made when Dr Mohamad Khir knew that Shamsuddin had ties with his official duty as the Selangor Menteri Besar then.

Dr Mohamad Khir, who is also the State Assemblyman for Sungai Panjang, is alleged to have committed the offence at the official residence of the Selangor Menteri Besar at Jalan Permata 7/1, Section 7, here on May 29, 2007.

Dr Mohamad Khir, who was the Menteri Besar from August 2000 until February 2008, is being charged under Section 165 of the Penal Code which provides for a maximum jail term of two years or a fine or both, upon conviction.

Shamsuddin was acquitted and discharged of the charge of abetting Dr Mohamad Khir with regard to the charge on June 6 and subsequently turned the second prosecution witness in the case.

In his judgement, Mohtaruddin said the prosecution had succeeded in proving the case prima facie on the essence of the charge taking into account three major elements.

He said the elements were that the accused was a public servant at the time of the incident, the accused had purchased a property from Shamsuddin at a purchase price said to be inadequate and the accused knew that Shamsuddin had connections with his official work as a public servant on the day of the incident.

Mohtaruddin said Dr Mohamad Khir had purchased the property from Shamsuddin at an inadequate purchase price.

The judge said that he would not hesitate to convict Dr Mohamad Khir if he remained silent.

At the proceedings Monday, the prosecution was led by Abdul Wahab Mohamad while the defence was led by M.Athimulan.

Twenty-five prosecution witnesses had been called up to give evidence at the trial which concluded on June 22.

Mohtaruddin later fixed Sept 26 to 30 for the defence who was expected to present nine witnesses.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the judgement today, Dr Mohamad Khir merely said: "I have no comment."

Gold coins of Ganga period found from Pachrahi excavation

Pachrahi Gold Coin
The excavations at Pachrahi, district Kabirdham, Chhattisgarh opened many hidden treasures in the Indian archaeology and history. The excavation revealed more than 8 temples, big royal palaces, more than 200 coins of gold, silver and copper coins. The outstanding discoveries are the fossils of 15 crore years old and a large prehistoric site.

The outstanding discovery is the finding of gold coins of Ganga period of Odisha.Gangas were the mighty dynasty of Odisha in the medieval period. In this dynasty one king Chodaganga dev has been considered to be the most powerful king of his time in eastern Inida.By erecting the Jagannatha temple and by increasing the importance of this famous shrine he also earned immortal fame in Orissan history.

During his time he attempted to enlarged his empire in all the directions. So he attempted to occupy the some portion of South Kosala area(Chhattisgarh area).But by that time this South Kosala area had been occupied by  the Kalachuris of Ratanpura.So he waged a war against the Kalachuri king Ratan dev II(AD1120-1135). But the result of the war is not clear.

Howevere the findings of gold coins of this dynasty in the south kosala area  or Chhattisgarh area ,clearly indicates that there was some sort of political or cultural or trade relation between the Kalinga country and south kosala area.

Note: For the first time the gold coins of Ganga dynasty have been found in this area which shows the cultural, political, and trade relation between two states during that period.

Punjab: Christian woman forced to convert and marry her kidnapper

by Jibran Khan

Mariam Gill was abducted on her way home from the market. Her father and brother filed a complaint with police, which failed to intervene however because her kidnapper is “a respectable Muslim businessman”. A Muslim religious leader says the action was in accordance with Islamic law. Islamabad bishop warns that cases of forced conversion are “rising at an alarming rate”.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Another young Christian woman in Pakistan has been abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper. Despite a formal complaint, police did not intervene because the author of the crime is a “respectable businessman”. Local Muslim religious authorities also claim that the woman’s conversion was legal. However, her case however is similar to that of Farah Hatim (see Jibran Khan, “The drama of Farah Hatim, common to many women in Pakistan,” in AsiaNews 25 July 2011) and is indicative of a climate of impunity for people who abuse Christian women. The bishop of Islamabad warns that the “the cases of forced conversion are rising at an alarming rate”.

Mariam is a young woman from Kahota, a town some 20 kilometres from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. She was abducted on Wednesday by one Muhammad Junaid, a local Muslim, who forcibly converted her to Islam and married her.

The young woman’s father, Munir Gill, said that Junaid is an “important businessman”. He had “his eyes on my daughter and asked her for marriage.” He complained to the man’s fathers “without results”.

“Mariam went to the market on Wednesday, but never returned,” said her brother Sohail Gill. “We searched for her everywhere. Some people in the market told us that they saw Muhammad Junaid forcefully taking Mariam from the market. We went to the police to register a case, but they delayed the application and showed no interest in the matter.”

Yesterday, a local Muslim religious leader, Maulana Hafeez Aziz, “converted Mariam to Islam and celebrated her marriage with Muhammad Junaid”.

“Muhammad Junaid is a respectable Muslim businessman,” said Amir Mirza, a police officer in Kahota. “The young woman converted and married him of ‘her own free will’.

For Maulana Hafeez Aziz, “Muhammad Junaid is a true follower of Prophet Muhammad. He has fulfilled Sharia. Converting a non-Muslim is a pious act. Only a true Muslim can do that.”

Yesterday, Mariam Gill was interrogated by local officials. She told them that she was abducted and forced to convert and that she has no intention of abandoning Christianity.

At the end of the meeting, they decided to return the young woman to her family, urging the two sides to reach an agreement. However, Muhammad Junaid issued threats, saying that if he did not get the young woman back, there would be “terrible consequences” to pay.

Contacted by AsiaNews, the bishop of Islamabad Rufin Anthony described the case as “a dreadful incident”. In his view, “the cases of forced conversion are rising at an alarming rate. The matter needs to be checked, kidnapping of Christian girls is becoming a common practice in Punjab. Law enforcement agencies need to enforce the law.”

Young Christian women are not alone. Many young Hindu women have been forced to flee across the border into India in the face of government and police indifference.

“It is time to take concrete action to guarantee the safety of minorities in Pakistan,” the prelate said.

PAS to meet with Jais, DUMC over raid

PAS mahu temui gereja, Jais

Datuk Dr Hasan Ali telah memberi penjelasan tetapi tidak cukup, kata Presiden Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

KUALA LUMPUR: Jawatankuasa Kerja PAS Pusat hari ini memutuskan untuk menemui pihak Gereja Methodist Damansara Utama dan Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais) untuk mendapatkan maklumat lengkap berhubung isu ‘serbuan’ gereja itu Rabu lalu.

“Kami tidak boleh membuat kenyataan sebelum mendapat penjelasan dari pihak gereja dan Jais. Datuk Dr Hasan Ali telah memberi penjelasan kepada pimpinan PAS hari ini tetapi itu tidak cukup.”

Demikian ditegaskan oleh Presiden parti, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang selepas mempengerusikan mesyuarat bulanan dalam satu sidang akhbar di ibu pejabat parti, di Jalan Raja Laut petang tadi.

Menurutnya, Datuk Mustafa Ali (Setiausaha Agung PAS) akan mengatur pertemuan dengan pihak gereja dan Jais.

Dr Hasan katanya, kekal menjalankan tugas exco agama kerajaan negeri Selangor.

Hadir sama Timbalan Presiden PAS Mohamad Sabu, dua timbalan Salahuddin Ayub dan Dato’ Mahfuz Omar serta Mustafa.

Isu serbuan Jais ke atas gereja tersebut bertukar menjadi kontroversi kerana dipertikaikan pelbagai pihak termasuk pemimpin PAS Selangor sendiri.

Hadi juga menegaskan PAS menyerahkan Kepada Menteri Besar Selangor Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim untuk bertemu Sultan Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Shah.

Kelmarin Khalid berkata beliau akan bertemu Sultan Selangor bagi mendapatkan nasihat dalam mencari penyelesaian isu tersebut.

Presiden PAS berkata, “kita tidak ada masalah dengan kerajaan negeri Selangor. Kita adalah sebahagian kerajaan negeri.

PAS bergabung dengan PKR dan DAP untuk membentuk kerajaan negeri setelah memenangi pilihan raya umum 2008.

Palani’s tips for students on being successful

Stay motivated and pick up Mandarin to make yourself marketable, says the MIC president to SPM students.

PETALING JAYA: MIC president G Palanivel today urged students to remain motivated and be easily marketable in order to be successful.

“Motivation is the key to success. A person who stays motivated will succeed in life,” he said while addressing some 1,200 students who will be sitting for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination later this year.

The students were attending a ’1Malaysia – The Most Powerful PMR and SPM Seminars 2011′ held at the Segi College at Kota Damansara here today.

The seminar was organised by Ti-Ratana Community Centre and this is the ninth year the centre has organised such seminar for students who will be sitting for SPM.

alanivel, who is also a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said education was a life long journey.

“It does not end when the formal schooling life of a person ends.”

He said it takes great effort to stay motivated. But, he stressed that it has to be done in order to succeed in life.

Palanivel also urged the non-Mandarin speaking students to take up Mandarin.

“Students who can speak Mandarin are said to be easily “marketable” and I heard they also get paid higher because the language is being more and more widely used in the business circle.”

The students were also blessed by leaders of all the faiths in Malaysia.

Anwar kicks off defence; on witness stand tomorrow

(Malaysiakini) Fresh from his trip to Manila, Anwar Ibrahim will be back in court tomorrow to take the witness stand for the first time at his sodomy trial.

The hearing is expected to last until Aug 26 in which, besides Anwar, a long list of other witnesses will be called.

azlanThis is the most crucial stage for the former deputy prime minister as he has to convince the court, as well as the court of public opinion, as to his guilt or innocence in the second sodomy charge he faces in less than 15 years.

Anwar had maintained from the outset that the charge and the recently released sex tape were part of a 'political conspiracy', trumped up by those in power.

He claimed that both were aimed at undermining his task of mounting a strong challenge against Umno and dislodge the ruling BN coalition from power.
The second sodomy allegation surfaced just before Anwar returned to Parliament by winning the Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008, a seat vacated by his wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Decision on application to quiz PM, Rosmah

However, before the trial proper commences, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah will deliver his decision on whether to allow Anwar's application to interview 15 witnesses, including Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and former inspector-general of police Musa Hassan.

NONEZabidin (left) had heard submissions from both the defence and prosecution over this matter on Wednesday.

Najib and Rosmah had allegedly met with complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at their official residence when he was the deputy prime minister, two days before the alleged sodomy incident.

Solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden said Najib, Rosmah and Musa were willing to be interviewed, but only if subpoenaed.

He also told the court that the trio were not related to the charge at hand where the alleged incident took place at the Desa Damansara condominium.

Lead counsel Karpal Singh had in his submission sounded a warning to the court that the need to subpoena witnesses to be interviewed would set an unusual precedent as this goes against normal jurisprudence practise and what was agreed upon before Anwar's defence was called.

To make matters worse for Anwar, he was not given copies of these witnesses' statements which were recorded by the police as the Federal Court had earlier overturned the High Court decision to make such documents available.

Initially the defence lawyers were also denied the witnesses list, but they finally got it after Anwar's defence was called.

Five witnesses already interviewed

The defence team had so far interviewed five witnesses on the witnesses list who may be called in Anwar's defence.

They included Mumtaz Jaafar, former national athlete and close associate of Rosmah, Hospital Pusrawi doctor Dr Mohamad Osman Abdul Hamid, the physician who first examined Saiful.

Mumtaz had allegedly met Saiful after the sodomy incident.

Others whom the defence had interviewed were former special officer to the deputy prime minister Khairil Annas Jusoh, who had worked for Najib and had met with Saiful earlier; a Hospital Kuala Lumpur medical officer Dr Anantha Raj Daniel; and Saiful's sister Saidati.

rosmah and najib bakti event 070709 04Besides Najib, Rosmah and Musa, the defence also wanted to interview former Malacca police chief Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof, condo owner Hasanuddin Abd Hamid and his wife, Noor Sham Abd Hamid, their maids Suliati and Fitria Dipan.

Rodwan also played a pivotal role in the first sodomy case.

Others are alibi witnesses who were in the condo include former PKR supreme council member Nik Mahmood Nik Hassan, former Bursa Malaysia chief operating officer Omar Malek Ali Merican, Deutsche Bank chief executive officer Raymond Yeoh, Anwar's former bodyguards, Mokhtar Mustafa and Abdullah Sani Said, and Anwar's former driver, Mohd Khoharullah Abdul Majid.

In addition, Anwar's expert witnesses - forensic pathologists Dr David Wells and DNA specialist Dr Brian McDonald - are also expected to take the stand.

Saiful's dad complains to Suhakam

In a related development, the complainant's father Azlan Mohd Lazim had on Friday submitted a letter dated Aug 2 to the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) hoping for its intervention to ensure the trial is not postponed upon its resumption on Monday.

saiful bukhari azlan and anwar ibrahim sodomy 2 pc 150808 08 father azlan mohd lazimHe said the trial had entered its third year since Anwar was first charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

Azlan said his son's right as a victim had not been observed as the trial had been dragging on for too long.

“I hope that Suhakam would monitor the situation as any further postponement would hold grave implications,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar's defence lawyer Karpal Singh ticked off those calling for outside intervention, arguing that this could amount to “contempt of court”.

“Anwar's trial should be allowed to proceed without any interference from any quarter,” he stressed.

Anwar was called to enter his defence on May 16 when justice Zabidin, in an elaborate judgment which took him one hour and 40 minutes to read, found the prosecution had proven a prima facie case against the opposition leader.

Malaysiakini will be carrying the trial LIVE tomorrow.

Landslide: Three Confirmed Dead

CAMERON HIGHLANDS Aug 8 (Bernama) -- Three women were confirmed to have died in the landslide which hit the Sungai Ruil Orang Asli settlement here Sunday.

Cameron Highlands Police chief DSP Wan Mohd Zahari Wan Busu said that three others, two men and a woman, were seriously injured in the landslide which occurred at about 5.45pm during heavy rain.

He said that at least three others were feared to be still buried in the landslide.

Wan Mohd Zahari told reporters that the body of the first victim was recovered at about 6.15pm while two of the injured were pulled out of the mud 20 minutes later.

He said the body and the two injured were sent to the Hospital Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom in Tanah Rata.

Three houses were reported to have been buried in the landslide and two others slightly damaged.

Up to midnight, more than 100 policemen, firemen and civil defence department personnel were carrying out search and rescue operations with the help of the residents.

A spokesman of the operations room of the Brinchang district police said that all the victims are from the settlement.

Residents living close to the landslide have been evacuated to the Brinchang multi-purpose hall.

The settlement near Tanah Rata have 145 houses for a population of 1,300 people.

Huge protests in Israel over housing, cost of living

Huge peaceful protests are taking place in Israel – and there are lessons we can draw.


Of course the first lesson is that large protests can be peaceful, and there is no need for heavy-handed action. There is also another lesson: Israel has been dismantling its welfare state, cutting expenditure on social services and reducing taxes on the rich – neoliberal policies which have made life more difficult for many Israelis.
According to the 972 mag website, at the heart of the latest protests is real estate: apartment prices are getting more expensive for the average Israeli. And governments in Israel, more interested in neo-liberal policies, have not placed much emphasis on affordable housing.
The best investments for wealthier Israelis were in real estate and together with those returning from abroad, they invested heavily buying property, driving up the prices for the rest of the Israelis.
A well-known method used to estimate real estate cost is to divide the price of an asset by the average monthly salary. Dr. Danny Ben Shahar of the Technion Institute for Science in Haifa, estimated that the median Israeli family had to spend 50 full salaries for an average Israeli apartment in 1989. Two decades later, this figure nearly doubled – in 2011, buying an average apartment would cost the same family 90 full salaries. According to Dr. Ben Shahar, An average apartment in Tel Aviv – just an average one – is too expensive for 90 percent of the population, even if they can spread their mortgage over 30 years.
Dr. Ben Shahar presented his findings in a panel at Tel Aviv University a few months ago. He told his listeners that the real estate market is “a social time-bomb.” I spoke with Dr. Ben Shahar a few days ago for a piece I did for an Israeli magazine; he admitted that he didn’t expect things to happen so fast. “If this problem isn’t taken care of, what you see now is just the beginning.”
In Malaysia, the average monthly household income is around RM3300. How many times of that monthly income does an average person in an urban area need to buy an average apartment? If an average apartment costs say, RM250000, that would make it over 75 times monthly income or over six years of income. If the apartment price is RM300000, that would be over 90 times monthly income or over seven years of income. (Bear in mind that home ownership in Penang is around 75 per cent.)
In the first half of the previous decade, Israel experienced a small scale economic crisis, a result of the second Intifada. The Finance Ministry, led by Silvan Shalom and later Binyamin Netanyahu (both from Likud) cut government expenses while lowering taxes for the more affluent Israelis. When the crisis ended, the best options for investment for those Israelis, and for money coming from abroad, were in the real estate market, especially in the cities.
Investors began buying apartments, driving prices up. Many of them were Jews – mostly from the United States and France. The richest of them didn’t even bother to rent out their assets to Israelis in their absence; they just wanted a house in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Such assets were considerably cheaper than in New York or Paris, and had special sentimental value for those Jews. The result is the now-infamous “ghost apartments,” occupied for only a few weeks each year. One luxury housing project in Jerusalem, overlooking the old city, is especially notorious for having no permanent tenants.
Young Israelis were angered by and resented this trend, and rants against “the rich Jews” became very common in the last few years. It was not surprising that a few days ago protesters in Jerusalem tried to break into some ghost apartments, ending up barricading themselves in the garden for a few hours.
All of this could have been similar to what happened in other large cities around the world – prices going up, investors coming in, locals and young people gradually moving out – if it weren’t for some unique factors in Israel, which complicate the situation: First and most important, Israeli cities have no efficient public transportation systems.
Of course, one of the major differences here in Malaysia is that rentals are cheap relative to home ownership price and landlords themselves are likely to ‘lose’ money if they are buying property to rent out. But house and apartment prices have been soaring.
There is a lesson here about the importance of ensuring adequate affordable housing and public transport for the population. We also need to turn away from those neo-liberal policies such as privatisation of essential services, and cuts in corporate/income taxes and corresponding cuts in spending on essential social services.