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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Zaid: Raid is against Federal Constitution

The Kita president defends the right of Muslims to religious freedom which he says is enshrined under Article 11.
PETALING JAYA: Kita president Zaid Ibrahim said the controversial church raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) would not have taken place had Article 11 of the Federal Constitution been upheld.

More than 30 police and JAIS officers stormed a thanksgiving dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) premises last Wednesday.

The authorities claimed they had received a complaint that Christians were attempting to convert the 12 Muslims present at the dinner that night. Until today, no evidence or details of the complaint had been made public.

Zaid however pointed out that the true essence of Article 11 forbade proselytising to Muslims but acknowledged a Muslim’s right to religious freedom.

“Kita believes that this freedom belongs to everyone – Muslims and non-Muslims – and is a fundamental right of every human being,” he said in a statement today.

“We believe it is cruel for anyone to be forced to accept a religious belief or faith that he or she in all good conscience has renounced or refuses to believe in.”

The lawyer-turned-politician warned of similar raids in other parts of the country and of more Muslims being punished for exercising their freedom to believe.

“There will be more confusion and an escalating war of attrition among religious communities,” he predicted. “State laws will continue empowering officers to make arrests and raid premises so that they can make sure Muslims are not in the company of evangelical Christians.”

Zaid rapped JAIS of being too duty-bound in preventing Muslims from exercising their right to convert instead of understanding what “lies inside the heart of Muslims”.

“JAIS is simply happy to punish and imprison someone like Kamariah Ali (a follower of Ayah Pin) and regard her as a deviant Muslim,” he said. “It does not matter what her true beliefs are, just as it does not matter if she is happy with the faith.”

Silence from the Pakatan camp
 

The former PKR supreme council member also said that the Pakatan Rakyat component parties would not support the true meaning of Article 11 for different reasons.

PAS, he said, would not step up because of its belief that freedom of choice would give a “lesser” Muslim the opportunity to deviate from the faith.

He added that PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim would not risk his chances of becoming prime minister while DAP would be concerned about losing votes and Penang.

“That explains why the great defenders of freedom in Pakatan had to issue a gag order. Don’t address sensitive issues, is what they seem to be saying… get to Putrajaya first,” he said.

Zaid said hat the issue would be dealt with differently under a Kita-run government as the party was the only one in the country fearless enough to defend Article 11.

“We would refer Article 11 to a properly constituted Constitutional Court,” he said.

“If the court was to hold that Article 11 applies to Muslims as well, then they would not need to hide in church premises to exercise their beliefs.

“And agencies such as JAIS would not need the power to trespass and ransack private properties to look for possible converts. Our motto would be, ‘To each his own’.

“If the Constitutional Court rules that the intent of Article 11 is not to accord religious freedom to Muslims as well then we would need to amend the Federal Constitution,” he continued.

“We would insert an all empowering Article stating that all laws must conform to the Quran, and that laws contravening Islamic tenets and practices would be void. Islamic tenets and Islamic practices, in this case, would be those that are approved by the Conference of Rulers,” he said.

According to Zaid, the problem today is that Malaysia had a secular Federal Constitution but politically wanted Muslim laws to be the primary governing instrument.

And the politicians, he claimed, would not touch a crucial issue if it meant jeopardising their popularity.
“Some will continue to express anger and frustration, but nothing will change,” he said. “Kita is the only party that is truly ready and capable of making that change happen.” - FMT

Iranians Use London Riots As Propaganda

Lisa Holland, foreign affairs correspondent

The shocking violence and looting in England have been seen by people all over the world - even in Iran, where the scenes were being used as propaganda.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a London riot policeman
Iran reportedly wants to send a human rights delegation to Britain

:: London Riots: All The Stories, Video And Images From Sky News
Criticised internationally for the brutal crackdown on human rights protesters during the so-called 'Green Revolution' a few years ago, the Iranians have issued a stark warning to the British authorities.
Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast urged the police to exercise restraint against "the protesters", according to the Fars news agency.
Mr Mehman-Parast called on the British government to open a dialogue with rioters and listen to their demands in order to calm the situation.
Clapham
Damage caused by looters in London on Monday night
He also urged independent human rights organisations to investigate the killing of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police last week.
His death set off a chain reaction of events that began with rioting in Tottenham on Saturday night.
Copycat violence and looting has since plagued London, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.
Attempting to put their own spin on the situation, Tehran was apparently keen to send its own representatives to the UK, Fars reported.
Volunteer cleaners in Clapham Junction
Volunteers help clean up the mess left behind by looters in south London
"The Islamic Consultative Assembly (Iranian parliament) announces its readiness to send a human rights delegation to Britain to study human rights violations in the country," said Hossein Ebrahimi, deputy head of the country's national security and foreign policy commission.
"We urge the British government and the regime's embassy in Tehran to provide the ground for the presence of the Iranian human rights rapporteurs in Britain and avoid making unreal excuses."
Iran's warning to the British authorities is a classic piece of vintage Iranian theatre.
The country has frequently been condemned for its ruthless suppression of free speech - so it's a great irony it should presents itself as a protector of human rights.

Cabinet member, Najib’s aides are ‘non-heterosexual’, says leaked US cable

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — A recent Cabinet member and some of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s senior aides would have found themselves under investigation for homosexual “behaviour” if the government were on a morals campaign, according to a leaked United States diplomatic cable.

The cable to Washington from the US embassy here cited the “non-heterosexual behaviour” of an unnamed Cabinet member and Najib aides in its primer for State Department officials to understand the alleged political act of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II prosecution.

“Anwar’s prosecution is not part of a morals campaign.  The GOM does not aggressively target non-heterosexual behaviour; if it did so, a recent cabinet minister, senior staff associated with PM Najib and other prominent citizens linked to the government also would find themselves under investigation,” US Ambassador James R Keith said in the diplomatic note to Washington that was leaked by whistleblower site Wikileaks through the Malaysia Today website.

The cable did not name the Cabinet minister or Najib’s aides.

But Ambassador Keith pointed out that the facts of the case against Anwar made it clear that the prosecution was foremost a political act against the Opposition Leader.

“The Malaysian government does not aggressively prosecute cases of sodomy; we find record of some 55 cases since 1991, or an average of 3 per year.  The vast majority of such cases involve adults assaulting minors,” Keith wrote.

Keith also reiterated a long held view of the US government that Anwar’s original Sodomy prosecution 1999 had been grossly manipulated by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He also pointed out that “keeping in mind Najib (picture) and Anwar remain bitter enemies, it is striking that Najib met personally with the complainant Saiful prior to the police report.”

The US ambassador also noted the involvement of senior politicians in the case as well as the leakage of information.

“From the very early stages, the senior-most officials in the government, including then PM Abdullah, current PM Najib, cabinet ministers, the AGO and national police chief (the latter two having played important roles in Anwar’s 1998-1999 flawed trials) and officials of the ruling Umno party have been intimately involved in decisions regarding the case, according to Embassy contacts and publicly available sources.

“Senior government leaders provided law enforcement information on the case to leaders of Anwar’s coalition partner, the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), in an unsuccessful attempt to split PAS from the opposition.  A recent internet report claims that the government has provided some government-directed press editors with a ‘sneak preview’ of evidence against Anwar.”

The cable appears to have been written in 2009 just before Anwar’s trial started.

Anwar is currently facing sodomy charges for the second time in his life. He was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet, and was later convicted and jailed for both offences.

He was freed in September 2004 and later resurrected his political career by winning back his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a by-election in 2008, which had been held in the interim by his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

He later led the loose pact of PKR, the DAP and PAS to a historic sweep of five states and 82 parliamentary seats in Election 2008.

Little excitement over regaining Penang

Intelligence reports say BN may wrest Penang from the opposition in the next national polls but this is not stirring much interest.

GEORGE TOWN: Not all Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians are over-excited with the prospects of regaining the lost Penang government in the next general election.

MCA state secretary Lau Chiek Tuan is among them who believes BN should embark on a “deny two-thirds” election campaign rather than pursue an ambitious grand plan of recapturing the state administration.

He said BN stood a better chance of increasing its current 11 state seats in the next national polls with the “deny two-thirds” strategy.

“People may consider strengthening the opposition to check and balance the state government.
“But, if BN were to battle with Pakatan Rakyat to recapture the state government, it will backfire,” said Lau.

He dismissed intelligence reports predicting that BN stands a good chance of regaining the state government.

BN sources claimed that the reports have identified at least 25 constituencies as winnable seats – 15 on the mainland and 10 on the island.

Shocking results


Lau said the same intelligence reports had also predicted that BN would retain the state government in the 2008 general election.

“But the results were shocking… we were wiped out,” he told FMT here today.

In the 2008 general election, BN won 11 out of the 40 state and two out of 13 federal seats, all through Umno. Gerakan, MCA and MIC were all swept away.

BN sources told FMT recently that intelligence reports have identified the winnable mainland seats as Bagan Dalam (Bagan); Berapit and Machang Bubok (Bukit Mertajam); Bertam, Penaga and Pinang Tunggal (Kepala Batas); Teluk Air Tawar, Permatang Berangan and Sungai Dua (Tasek Gelugor); Penanti, Permatang Pasir and Seberang Jaya (Permatang Pauh); and Jawi, Sungai Bakap and Sungai Acheh (Nibong Tebal).

On the island, the reports have marked down Sungai Pinang and Datuk Keramat (Jelutong); Seri Delima and Air Itam (Bukit Gelugor); Batu Uban, Pantai Jerejak and Batu Maung (Bayan Baru); and Bayan Lepas, Pulau Betong and Teluk Bahang (Balik Pulau).

The reports have also boosted Penang BN confidence of winning Kepala Batas, Tasek Gelugor, Batu Kawan, Nibong Tebal, Balik Pulau and Bayan Baru parliament seats.

But state Gerakan legal and human rights bureau head Baljit Singh disagreed with the intelligence findings, saying that undercurrent sentiments were very much against BN.

He said people were generally dissatisfied with the Umno-led federal government for its lack of reform programmes to transform society.

Contentious issues


He said people were also upset over the lack of decisive actions to resolve contentious issues such as the rising cost of living and religious conversions.

He added that people were also unhappy with the government for mishandling the controversial Interlok issue and Bersih 2.0 rally.

“They were also angry over the detention of six Parti Sosialis Malaysia activists under the Emergency Ordinance,” said Baljit.

He said Gerakan, MCA and MIC may win certain seats in the next election because the people may want non-Umno opposition representatives.

“But at the same time, Umno also can lose their current seats. In the end, the status quo would be retained,” he said.

WIKILEAKS: ANWAR IBRAHIM'S SODOMY TRIAL II - A PRIMER


Most observers conclude that a conviction in Anwar's case, one upheld on appeal, would essentially end Anwar's political career given the legal penalties and Anwar's age (62). According to the Federal Constitution, a member of Parliament will be disqualified from holding his seat if he is convicted of an offense and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than US $570 (RM 2,000) and has not received a free pardon.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 07 KUALA LUMPUR 000529

SIPDIS

FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/01/2019
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, KJUS, MY
SUBJECT: ANWAR IBRAHIM'S SODOMY TRIAL II - A PRIMER

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR MARK D. CLARK, REASON 1.4 (B AND D).

Summary and Comment
1.    (C) Malaysian Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will go on trial beginning July 8 on charges of sodomy -- a criminal offense in Malaysia -- with a former aide.  Anwar was previously tried and convicted of sodomy in 2000 in a heavily manipulated trial that the U.S. concluded "was marred by deep flaws in the judicial process."  The verdict was overturned on appeal in 2004. 
Senior Malaysian authorities were very aggressive in handling the present case during the initial period of June-September 2008, but, coinciding with the passing of Anwar's deadline to bring down the government through Parliamentary cross-overs, have since taken a more measured "rule-of-law" approach in public.  Authorities have not taken all the legal and extra-legal measures available to them, for example, to challenge Anwar's bail provisions or resolve an earlier impasse regarding the court venue.
Anwar's conviction in this trial, which may last many months, could end his political career; the judge would decide whether Anwar would remain free pending an appeal.  This cable provides a primer for the Department's reference, including background on the 2000 conviction and the present case, a synopsis of the specific legal charges and penalties, a summary of likely evidence to be presented in court, and three possible scenarios for the trial.
2.  (C) Comment:  The issue of the specific actions between Anwar and his aide will play out in court and, we suspect, in a very sensationalistic fashion.  The facts surrounding the case, however, make a compelling argument that the government's prosecution of the case is foremost a political act against the Opposition leader. 
Whether the incident in question was wholly concocted or has some basis in fact, the case is not part of a morals campaign or a normal criminal matter and has been the subject of extensive political interference and manipulation.  As one consequence, much of the Malaysian public remains deeply sceptical about the government's prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim. 
Anwar's flawed trials in 1998-2000 produced a public uproar and attracted international condemnation; in today's information-intensive environment, such effects may be exacerbated depending on events in court.  Embassy will provide draft press guidance for the Department's consideration prior to the July 8 trial date.  End Summary and Comment.
Sodomy Case I, 1998-2000
3.  (SBU) Under the government of former Prime Minister Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim was charged and convicted of sodomy (and abuse of power) in a sensationalistic trials in 1998-2000, directed and heavily manipulated by Mahathir against his former deputy.  Anwar was charged with sodomizing his wife's driver. 
During his pre-trial detention, Anwar was beaten by the then Inspector General of Police.  The High Court convicted Anwar of sodomy in August 2000 and sentenced him to nine years imprisonment. 
The U.S. expressed deep concern with the first sodomy trial, noting "that the trial and (Anwar's) resulting conviction and nine-year jail sentence were marred by deep flaws in the judicial process."
After Mahathir stepped down in favor of Abdullah Badawi, the Federal Court overturned the conviction in September 2004 and released Anwar from prison (Anwar's separate conviction for abuse of power remained in place).  The Federal Court found there were "many unusual things that happened regarding the arrest and confession" of certain prosecution witnesses, including the fact that Anwar's driver stated that he was paid to make the allegations against Anwar. 
In an unusual move and possible political compromise, the Federal Court judges included in their judgment the conclusion that there was evidence to confirm "the appellants were involved in homosexual activities," but added that the prosecution failed to prove the alleged offenses beyond reasonable doubt.
Because Anwar's conviction on the separate charge of abuse of power was not overturned, he was barred from political office until April 2008.
Sodomy Case II, 2008
4.  (SBU) Less than four months after Anwar Ibrahim's People's Justice Party (PKR) and its opposition partners made significant advances in the March 2008 national elections, and three months after Anwar became eligible for political office, an aide to Anwar, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, filed a police report on June 28, 2008, alleging that he had been forcibly sodomized by Anwar on several occasions. 
The following day, Anwar took refuge in the Turkish ambassador's residence, claiming that he feared a repetition of his 1998 arrest and for his personal safety.  He remained with the Turkish ambassador for only one day, departing after public assurances of his safety from the Foreign Minister and Home Minister. 
In the midst of a highly charged political atmosphere, which included Anwar's claims that he could bring down the government through Parliamentary defections by September 16, 2008, and new allegations linking then DPM Najib with the Altantuya murder case, the police investigation proceeded. 
It came to light that Saiful had had contact with the office of then DPM Najib prior to working with Anwar, and more significantly Saiful had met with Najib (and allegedly his wife Rosmah) at Najib's home just prior to filing his police complaint. 
Najib first denied publicly he had any connection with the case, and then acknowledged meeting Saiful, an admission that preempted internet reports about to be released by blogger Raja Petra (who is now a fugitive from sedition charges).
5.  (SBU) As authorities made known their intention to arrest and charge Anwar for sodomy, Anwar's lawyers arranged for his voluntary appearance before police for questioning and charging.  Contrary to the agreement, on July 16, police in commando-style outfits waylaid Anwar's convoy en route to the police station and arrested him on the street.  Police questioned Anwar, took him to a hospital to provide a DNA sample (which Anwar refused, citing lawyers' advice and fear of "manipulation"), and held him overnight.  Anwar was released on police bail by a magistrate on July 17.
The Charges
6.  (SBU) On August 7, 2008, prosecutors charged Anwar Ibrahim before a Sessions Court under Section 377B of the Penal Code, which reads:  "Whoever voluntarily commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years and shall be liable to whipping."  Section 377A of the Penal Code defines "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" as including sodomy. 
Prosecutors specifically charged Anwar with the sodomizing of Saiful Bukhari Azlan at a Kuala Lumpur condominium (owned by Anwar's friend) on June 26, 2008.
Although Saiful originally claimed he was forcibly sodomized on several occasions, the prosecutors chose not to pursue charges against Anwar under a separate Penal Code section (377C), which pertains to non-consensual sodomy (with a higher burden of proof), and also to focus on only one alleged incident. 
It is important to note that under Malaysia's legal system, prosecutors may amend the charges during the course of the trial.  Saiful himself does not face charges for the alleged acts.  The Court ordered Anwar to remain free on a personal bond of US $5,700 RM 20,000 and did not impose other restrictions (for example, Anwar has been free to travel abroad and has done so on many occasions since August 2008).  The government did not attempt to dispute or revoke the bail provisions.
Wrangle and Delay over Court Venue
7.  (SBU) Following Anwar's formal charging, and with Anwar's 9/16 deadline looming in the background, prosecutors quickly moved to transfer the case from the Sessions Court to the High Court. 
The prosecution argued on September 10, 2008, that such an important case with possibly complicated legal issues should be dealt with at the High Court and produced a certificate signed by the Attorney General to move the case, which under normal circumstances automatically results in a transfer. 
However, Anwar's lawyers objected to the transfer out of concern that the more politicized High Court level would result in a pro-prosecution judge hearing the case, as happened during the first sodomy trial in 1999-2000. 
In November 2008, independent-minded Sessions Court judge Komathy Suppiah rejected the certificate of transfer, noting that Attorney General Gani Patail faced allegations of evidence tampering in Anwar's 1998 case and the transfer order signed by the AG would "undermine the public perception of the judiciary."
8.  (C) Judge Komathy was overruled in March 2009 by High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Md Diah who decided the Sessions Court has no authority to refuse the Attorney General's transfer order; Zabidin himself was then assigned to preside over the sodomy trial. 
Anwar's lawyers filed an appeal against the transfer; the Court of Appeals only began to hear the appeal on June 30; based on precedent, Anwar's camp admits the appeal has little chance of success.  Zabidin initially attempted to schedule the trial to begin in May 2009; defense lawyers argued they needed more time and hoped their appeal would be heard prior to the trial. 
(Note:  The High Court often takes one to two years before setting trial dates in normal criminal cases.  End Note.
Zabidin subsequently set the trial to begin on July 1.  Anwar's lawyers filed an application to compel the prosecution to provide them with full documentation and evidence that will be introduced at the trial, which the prosecution has thus far failed to do in apparent violation of the Criminal Procedure Code. 
With the hearing on the disclosure of evidence set for July 1 (now pushed back to July 3), Judge Zabidin postponed the trial start to July 8.  The judge originally specified a three-week duration for the trial, but lawyers assume that the trial will take many months to conclude.
The High Court Judge
9.  (C) High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Md Diah is a lawyer by training.  After private law practice, he joined the judicial service as a Sessions Court judge and was elevated to judicial commissioner in 2004.  After two years on contract, Zabidin was promoted to become a permanent High Court judge in 2006. 
Zabidin is not a well-known judge and is not associated with high profile or controversial judgments, according to our senior legal contacts.  Anwar's lawyers allege that Zabidin is beholden to the government and will favor the prosecution; the judge's unusual rush to bring the case to trial is viewed by the defense as an early indication of his bias.
Government Switches Gears
10.  (C) Senior government and UMNO party officials adopted a very aggressive public and private approach to the Anwar case during the June-September 2008 period.  This included frequent, prejudicial statements in public, and strong claims in private to other politicians and diplomats regarding Anwar's guilt. 
This intensive phase encompassed the initial news of the allegations and Anwar's formal charging, but also Anwar's own aggressive political posturing and claims that he could bring down the government by September 2008 through Parliamentary crossovers. 
After Anwar's deadline passed in September, and after resolution of the UMNO leadership battle in favor of Najib's succession in October 2008, we observed a definite toning down of the Government's approach, and a shifting to a lower gear.  For example, we did not hear reports of government intervention to quickly resolve the matter of the court venue, which effectively delayed the prosecution by some seven months. 
Anwar's bail provisions remained in place and unchallenged.  Public statements by senior government officials, outside of by-election campaigns, became infrequent.  This toned down approach has continued through the present; it would fit within a hypothetical decision to demonstrate that the trial is a law enforcement matter, rather than a political battle. Regardless, it is clear that the government has not taken all the legal and extra-legal steps against Anwar that it could have since September 2008.
GOM Confidence:  Waning or Recalculating?
11.  (C) Many of our government and UMNO contacts have insisted to us, emphatically so in the early months of the case, that the evidence against Anwar is very conclusive, often hinting at video footage and physical evidence like DNA (see below). 
Recently, some contacts sympathetic to Anwar but not part of his team claimed the government over time had become less certain it had sufficient evidence to convict Anwar. 
According to one unconfirmed account, in June several key aides to PM Najib advised him to drop the case against Anwar because the evidence was not strong enough for an easy conviction and the political cost of forcing through a guilty verdict would be too high.  It is also possible that the toned down rhetoric from the government has been misinterpreted as uncertainty on the authorities' part.
Evidence at the Trial  
12.  (C) Based on available information, we believe the following evidentiary aspects will feature in Anwar's trial:
Saiful's complaint:  The testimony of Saiful is central to the government's case, and he is expected to take the stand. Saiful has continued to assert that he was forcibly sodomized, although the charges under Section 377B do not require proof of a non-consensual act; given his youth (age 23) and physical size, Saiful will need to explain specific circumstances of the incident to support his assertion of rape.
Medical reports:  As publicly revealed by defense lawyers, Saiful underwent two medical examinations on June 28, 2008, just prior to lodging a police report.  The first examination by a Burmese doctor at a local hospital concluded there was "no conclusive clinical findings" suggestive of sodomy, and the doctor recommended he be examined at a government hospital in line with police procedures in such cases.
(Note:  The Burmese doctor briefly left Malaysia after being held for questioning by police.  End Note.
The second examination at the police-approved government hospital also failed to uncover medical evidence of sodomy, according to copies of hospital reports released by the defense.
DNA:  The defense team believes prosecutors will introduce DNA evidence, based on DNA samples held by the police since 1998, and are preparing expert witnesses.  The government's hurried passage in Parliament of a DNA bill, approved by the lower house on June 23, is widely seen as tied to the Anwar trial and will permit the government to utilize the 11-year old samples.  The defense could claim the samples were planted, as is widely believed to be the case in Anwar's earlier prosecution.
Anwar's alibi:  Anwar's lawyers claim that five persons will testify that Anwar was with them at the time of the alleged incident.  They also claim that police attempted but failed to intimidate some of these defense witnesses to change their accounts.
CCTV:  The prosecution may use CCTV footage from the condominium where the alleged incident took place to confirm Anwar's presence at a specific date and time.
Character witnesses:  As happened in the 1999 case, it is very possible that prosecutors introduce witnesses to attack Anwar's character and actions aside from the alleged 2008 sodomy incident.  There are unconfirmed reports that the prosecution will call 30 witnesses to the stand.
Defense witnesses (PM Najib and wife Rosmah?):  In an effort to demonstrate the political motivation in the government's case, defense lawyers could call PM Najib, his wife Rosmah, and other senior officials such as Najib's aide Khairil Anas Yusof who appear connected to the case (Najib and Rosmah because they met Saiful and discussed his reporting to the police).  While this will make for momentary drama, we expect the judge to disallow such moves.
Bail and other Conditions during the Trial
13.  (C) Anwar's legal team has expressed concern that the prosecution may apply to revoke the personal bond that allows Anwar to be free pending the trial or seek to impose other conditions, such as impounding his passport or restricting his movement to within Kuala Lumpur. 
The lawyers acknowledge that there is not a strong precedent for overturning the existing bail decision.  In several recent politically-charged court cases, however, Malaysian judges have ignored precedent decisions.
(Note:  We have no information on the prosecution's intentions in this matter. End Note.)
What if Anwar is Convicted?
14.  (C) Most observers conclude that a conviction in Anwar's case, one upheld on appeal, would essentially end Anwar's political career given the legal penalties and Anwar's age (62).  According to the Federal Constitution, a member of Parliament will be disqualified from holding his seat if he is convicted of an offense and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than US $570 (RM 2,000) and has not received a free pardon.
This stipulation comes into effect after all appeals are exhausted (at the Court of Appeals and Federal Court).  The constitution also provides that a convicted person can only be active in politics after five years from the date of his release from prison.  At age 62, a second conviction could effectively bar Anwar permanently from political life.  In the event of a conviction, Anwar will certainly appeal. 
The judge will decide whether Anwar remains free pending appeal or immediately goes to jail.  While officially remaining a Member of Parliament pending the final outcome, he would be unable to operate from prison as the Opposition leader.
Political Interference and Manipulation
15.  (C) The issue of the alleged actions between Anwar and Saiful will play out in court, and sodomy, even a consensual act, is a crime under Malaysian law.  The facts surrounding the case, however, make it clear that the government's prosecution of the case is foremost a political act against the Opposition leader. 
The Malaysian government does not aggressively prosecute cases of sodomy; we find record of some 55 cases since 1991, or an average of 3 per year.  The vast majority of such cases involve adults assaulting minors.
Anwar's prosecution is not part of a morals campaign.  The GOM does not aggressively target non-heterosexual behavior; if it did so, a recent cabinet minister, senior staff associated with PM Najib and other prominent citizens linked to the government also would find themselves under investigation.
16.  (C) Aside from the immediate comparison with Anwar's previous prosecution for sodomy, which was grossly manipulated by former Prime Minister Mahathir, the indications of political interference and manipulation in the present case are compelling; much of the information is in the public realm.  Collateral reporting, not addressed here, provides further substantiation.
Najib connection:  Keeping in mind that Najib and Anwar remain bitter enemies, it is striking that Najib met personally with the complainant Saiful prior to the police report, and allegedly arranged for Saiful to have intensive contact with senior police officials in the days before he filed the complaint.
Senior officials' involvement:  From the very early stages, the senior-most officials in the government, including then PM Abdullah, current PM Najib, cabinet ministers, the AGO and national police chief (the latter two having played important roles in Anwar's 1998-1999 flawed trials) and officials of the ruling UMNO party have been intimately involved in decisions regarding the case, according to Embassy contacts and publicly available sources. 
Despite the current toned-down government approach, and emphasis that the Anwar trial is a normal law enforcement matter, senior-most executive and UMNO party officials continue such a directing role.
Leakage of information:  Senior government leaders provided law enforcement information on the case to leaders of Anwar's coalition partner, the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), in an unsuccessful attempt to split PAS from the opposition.  A recent internet report claims that the government has provided some government-directed press editors with a "sneak preview" of evidence against Anwar.
Public statements:  From the initial public reports of the complaint against Anwar in June 2008 to Anwar's election to Parliament in August 2008, PM Abdullah and other senior leaders spoke publicly and frequently about Anwar's alleged crime and the need for justice, and the case featured prominently in the parliamentary campaign against Anwar.
There have been far fewer statements since September 2008, except during by-election campaigns.
Press:  The Government-directed mainstream press, which includes all major dailies and all TV stations, provided extensive coverage of Saiful's allegations while severely limiting reporting on Anwar's response during the heated period of June-August 2008.
Alleged intimidation:  The police detained for questioning the doctor who first examined Saiful, causing him to leave Malaysia temporarily out of concern for his safety.  Police also pressured the hospital in question to hold a press conference to state that the doctor was not qualified to conduct such an examination, according to our sources.
According to defence lawyers, several of their witnesses have been threatened by police in an effort to change their testimony.  The Imam for the Federal Territories (including Kuala Lumpur and the administrative capital Putra Jaya) claimed publicly that he was forced to witness an "improper" Islamic oath taken by Saiful; he was subsequently sacked by the Prime Minister's Department.
Customized Legislation, the DNA bill:  The government hurriedly prepared a bill on DNA evidence, following shortly after Anwar's refusal to provide a DNA sample at the time of his arrest, which compels suspects to provide samples and allows authorities to utilize previously stored samples in new criminal cases.  The government originally introduced the bill in August 2008 and voted it through the lower house only on June 23, 2009; several steps remain before it becomes law.
Public Scepticism
17.  (C) In the run-up to Anwar's August 2008 arraignment, public opinion polling conducted by the Merdeka Center, Malaysia's most respected opinion survey group, revealed that a preponderance of Malaysians believed the charges against Anwar were unjust, indicating a deep public scepticism regarding the government's case. 
We understand that new polling on this question will be released before the July 8 trial date.  Pollsters have informed us that the new data continues to reflect widespread public suspicions.
Reportedly, only 15 percent of ethnic Malays and 10 percent of Malaysians overall believe Anwar's prosecution to be justified.  Outside of government circles, many Embassy contacts, including those who give credence to rumors of Anwar's personal life, take it as a matter of fact that the government is prosecuting Anwar for political reasons. 
In a public statement made on June 24, former Bar Council president (and U.S. Woman of Courage awardee in 2009) Ambiga Sreenvasan urged the government to drop the charges against Anwar in order to restore credibility to PM Najib's ruling coalition.
Scenarios
18.  (C) When viewed as a political matter, a number of potential scenarios for the Anwar prosecution present themselves; below we review three that are most apparent.  In these scenarios we assume that Najib will exercise the deciding voice on how and whether to proceed, though he also will need to weigh the opinions of other UMNO ruling party elites.
-- Conviction at all costs:  Based on an assessment that Anwar is a threat to UMNO's continued rule at least at the time of the next national elections, Najib and UMNO elites decide that the political costs of prosecuting Anwar are acceptable and pursue the matter aggressively inside and outside the courtroom with the overriding goal of convicting Anwar and removing him permanently from politics. 
While asserting that this is purely a law enforcement matter, the government exerts political pressure as necessary, accepting reputational risks in the process, and achieves a conviction after months of high-profile drama in the courtroom.  The courts hear and reject Anwar's appeals in an expedited manner, well ahead of the next national elections in 2012 or 2013. 
This scenario appeared to be in play during the initial months of the case and in the lead up to Anwar's September 2008 deadline to overturn the ruling coalition's majority; it has been less apparent since then.  Recalling the deep personal animosity between Najib and Anwar, and the singular importance of Anwar to the opposition coalition, this scenario remains plausible, even though Anwar's immediate threat to UMNO's rule has passed.
-- Merits of the case, reputational damage:  In a second scenario, the government proceeds with the prosecution but refrains from exerting undue pressure to achieve conviction, believing that the evidence presented and/or the court proceedings themselves will sufficiently damage Anwar's reputation and this will outweigh harm to the Najib administration's credibility. 
Conviction remains the desired outcome, supported by sufficient evidence, but the government accepts some risk of a final verdict of innocence after all appeals are heard.  This scenario rests on the assumption of sufficiently clear evidence against Anwar that will swing public opinion in favor of the government even in the event of an eventual acquittal.  Absent greater information on the government's evidence against Anwar, it is difficult to judge the prospects for this scenario.
-- Withdrawal:  In a third scenario, Najib and UMNO elites decide that the government's case is not strong enough to pursue, entails unacceptable political costs, or is no longer necessary because of the diminished threat from Anwar.  The government withdraws the charges prior to the trial start of July 8, or shortly after the trial begins, possibly under conditions of "discharge not amounting to acquittal."
(Lawyers tell us that such a discharge in theory would allow the government to reactivate the case at a future time, thus maintaining this as a lever over Anwar.) 
Najib, confident that he can beat back an opposition challenge in the next election, attributes the original decision to prosecute to the previous administration of Abdullah Badawi and takes credit for respecting the rule of law in this high profile case involving his determined political nemesis. 
In contrast to 2008, Najib's currently secure position as UMNO leader and Prime Minister, along with Anwar's diminished threat, make this scenario a political possibility, though some UMNO elites and perhaps Najib himself may not want to give up the opportunity to remove Anwar Ibrahim from politics once and for all.
KEITH

Malaysia prepared to receive asylum seekers from Australia as part of deal

The Star
by MAZWIN NIK ANIS


PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is ready to receive asylum seekers whenever Australia is ready to send them, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

Despite the initial hiccup of a court injunction, Malaysia and Australia remained committed to tackle human trafficking through the recently inked refugee resettlement and transfer programme, he added.

“Notwithstanding the hiccup, the agreement remains the best way to tackle the menace of people traffickers in a way that protects the interests of Australia, Malaysia and above all, the immigrants involved.

“We hope to see it up and running as soon as possible.

“Malaysia and Australia remain steadfastly committed to make this programme a success,” he told The Star yesterday.

Australia's plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia as part of a refugee swap deal has been delayed for at least two weeks until the Australian High Court can rule on its legality.

Refugee advocates obtained an injunction in the court late on Sunday against the government flying the first 16 asylum seekers to Kuala Lumpur on Monday morning.

Justice Kenneth Hayne had ruled the injunction would remain in force until the full bench of seven judges hear the case beginning Aug 22.

Melbourne-based Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre was challenging the government's claim that Malaysia would provide adequate protection.

On July 25, the two countries signed a landmark agreement on the transfer and resettlement of asylum seekers, which aims to put a cork on human trafficking syndicates profiting from human misery by promising them places in the two countries.

The historic deal the first in the world will see 4,000 refugees currently residing in Malaysia be sent to Australia and 800 asylum seekers redirected here over the next four years.

Australia is expected to fork out A$292mil (RM900mil) for the programme.

Malaysia has given its assurance that refugees who are sent here will be treated with dignity and respect.

JAIS mohon waran tangkap 12

Berita Harian
Oleh Khairul Anuar Abdul Samad dan Khairul Azran Hussin


Gagal hadir bantu siasatan dakwaan gereja sebar agama terhadap orang Islam

SHAH ALAM: Seramai 12 individu beragama Islam yang hadir pada satu majlis di Gereja Methodist Damansara Utama (DUMC), Petaling Jaya, yang sepatutnya memberi keterangan di Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) di sini, semalam gagal berbuat demikian walaupun pihak berkuasa agama itu sudah menyerahkan surat dan menelefon mereka untuk memberi kerjasama. 

Sehubungan itu, Penolong Pengarah Bahagian Siasatan dan Penguatkuasaan JAIS, Sharom Maarof, berkata pihaknya akan mengeluarkan waran tangkap terhadap mereka dalam tempoh terdekat ini.Beliau berkata, tindakan itu diambil selepas mereka enggan memberikan kerjasama walaupun pihaknya sudah menyerahkan surat termasuk menelefon untuk hadir.

“JAIS akan memohon waran tangkap dalam tempoh 24 jam daripada Mahkamah Syariah selepas surat dikeluarkan hari ini (semalam). Sepatutnya mereka hadir membantu siasatan, tetapi seorang pun tiada. 

“Kita tetap beri masa kepada mereka dan mereka boleh hubungi JAIS pada bila-bila masa untuk hadir, tetapi tidak berbuat demikian,” katanya ketika dihubungi di sini, semalam. 

Baru-baru ini, JAIS menyerbu DUMC di Petaling Jaya selepas mendapat maklumat orang Islam menghadiri majlis di gereja berkenaan. 

Ketika serbuan dilakukan kira-kira jam 9 malam, seseorang sedang mengadakan pengucapan awam yang diselitkan perkataan al-Quran dan terdapat bukti kegiatan penyebaran agama bukan Islam terhadap penganut Islam. 
Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Tetap Hal-Ehwal Islam, Adat-Adat Melayu, Infrastruktur dan Kemudahan Awam Selangor, Datuk Dr Hasan Mohamed Ali, berkata anggota penguat kuasa JAIS bersama polis menjalankan pemeriksaan di premis itu dihalang penganjur. 

Mengulas lanjut, Sharom berkata, pihaknya difahamkan semua mereka dinasihatkan oleh peguam masing-masing untuk tidak hadir membantu siasatan JAIS berhubung perkara terbabit. 

Sementara itu, Pengarah JAIS, Marzuki Hussin melalui satu SMS yang dihantar kepada pemberita meminta semua pihak bertenang mengenai isu terbabit. 

“JAIS meminta semua pihak bertenang berhubung dengan pemeriksaan ke atas DUMC sehingga kertas siasatan selesai. Buat masa ini pihak JAIS masih dalam siasatan berhubung kes itu,” katanya. 

Di KOTA BHARU, Timbalan Pengerusi Perhubungan UMNO Selangor, Datuk Seri Noh Omar, berkata parti itu tidak harus dikaitkan dengan tindakan JAIS memeriksa DUMC, kerana tindakan itu mengikut peruntukan undang-undang. 

Katanya, sekiranya JAIS tidak mengikut undang-undang, pihak gereja terbabit sudah tentu boleh mengambil tindakan dengan menyaman agensi berkenaan. 

“Bagi pandangan saya, JAIS sudah tentu bertindak mengikut undang-undang, kalau tidak sudah tentu boleh disaman kerana menceroboh dan semua pihak perlu faham agensi terbabit cuba menyelesaikan masalah,” katanya selepas menyampaikan Bantuan Wang Ihsan Banjir 2010 kepada Petani Lembaga Kemajuan Pertanian Kemubu, di sini semalam. 

Sementara itu, Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Pusat, Nasruddin Hassan mengingatkan semua pihak supaya menghormati Islam sebagai agama rasmi dan tidak menjalankan aktiviti yang boleh menggugat akidah umat Islam. 

Beliau berkata, pihaknya juga berpuas hati dengan penjelasan diberikan oleh Hasan berhubung tindakan JAIS. 

“Beliau (Hasan) cakap ada bukti kukuh tapi saya tidak tengok bukti itu sebab ia masih dalam siasatan,” katanya selepas mengadakan pertemuan dengan Hasan berhubung serbuan gereja itu, di sini.

Najib Stresses Divisional Unity To Win Polls

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 9 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told Umno members to strengthen unity at the divisional level to win the 13th general election.

The Prime Minister and Umno president said the divisions were the pillars of the party and the "parental household" of the organisation.

"I hope we all know how to take care of our household because if we are truly united we will face the polls with increased strength," he said at the breaking of the fast with about 1,200 people at Seri Perdana Tuesday.

Also present was his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

He said that party unity was among three factors that should guide Umno members in preparing for the general election. "Therefore, promote unity and try to set right anything that is not proper. Do not practise factionalism. To do so is to court disaster," Najib said.

The Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman said the second factor was closeness to the people, and the third was giving priority to party interests in the political renewal now being carried out.

Najib said that Umno and the BN must be seen and accepted as the party fighting for the interests and wellbeing of the people.

In line with the political transformation, winnable candidates must be fielded, he said.

"I hope this concept can be accepted. The criteria (to decide who can win) we will think about and outline together.

"However, it should be left to the top leadership to make the (final) decision on who the winnable candidates are," Najib said.

If the concept was accepted and practised, no seat would be lost for want of a better candidate, Najib said.

Najib said the nation saw recently a lot of play-acting and manufactured drama by the opposition, among whom people could choose the best actor.

As for the welfare state that PAS now says it is aiming for, Najib said that Umno and the BN had long practised the concept.

"We do not need to say welfare state because we have always been the champion of the welfare of the people," Najib said.

This year alone, he said, the government set aside RM20 billion as subsidies for the people, and this must be made known.

'Fatwa' sheikh with links to Irish Muslims is refused visa

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

A CONTROVERSIAL religious leader with close links to Ireland's largest Muslim organisation has been banned from entering the country, the Irish Independent has learned.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service refused to approve an entry visa for Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric who has defended suicide bombing and advocated the death penalty for homosexuals.

Sheikh al-Qaradawi (84) is head of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR), a private Islamic foundation whose headquarters is in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI) in Clonskeagh, Dublin.
Immigration officials are understood to have blocked his entry to the country after Mr Al-Qaradawi described suicide-bombing attacks on Israelis as "martyrdom in the name of God".

The Irish Independent has learnt the elderly religious leader was denied a visa when he last tried to enter the country on ECFR business.

The Irish ban follows similar ones in the US and UK.

Mr Al-Qaradawi had his US visa revoked in 1999 and was also refused entry to the UK three years ago.
He now spends most of his time in Qatar, where he is a regular guest on satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Despite Mr Al-Qaradawi's controversial remarks, the ICCI, the largest Muslim organisation in the country, has refused to criticise him. Its chief executive, Dr Nooh al-Kaddo, confirmed to the Irish Independent that Mr Al-Qaradawi's foundation had its headquarters at the ICCI. He described the sheikh as "widely respected" and a "learned scholar".

"His views are representative of Islamic teachings and are not assumed to be a violation of same," said Dr al-Kaddo.

Mr Al-Qaradawi is viewed as a complex character in the Muslim world. Although accused of anti-Semitism and homophobia, he has expressed some moderate views, condemning the 9/11 terror attacks and supporting Muslim integration in Western societies.

The Irish Independent has learnt that immigration officials have been concerned about him for some time and have blocked his entry to Ireland for the past three years.

A visa application made by Mr Al-Qaradawi in June 2008 was refused. Since then he has been "red flagged". This means he would be arrested and immediately deported if he turned up at an Irish port of entry.

The decision is believed to have been made after consultation with other governments who imposed similar bans.

No official reason was given for the red flagging and it is unclear if other religious figures have been the subject of similar bans.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said it could not comment on specific cases.

Violence

When Mr Al-Qaradawi was banned from the UK in 2008, the Home Office there said he was refused entry because of fears his views "could foster inter-community violence".

The ICCI's defence of Mr Al-Qaradawi is likely to give rise to criticism in some quarters of the Irish Muslim community who have previously accused the body's leadership of not being tough on extremism.
However, Dr Al-Kaddo said he rejected such criticism.

"The ICCI is aware that on occasion there are claims it does not take a sufficiently strong stance against global extremism," he said.

"The ICCI has, on all occasions of extreme violence carried out against innocents, condemned it, especially when the perpetrators claim it to be in the name of Islam."

Dr Al-Kaddo also disputed claims, made in leaked US embassy cables, that ICCI members celebrated the kidnapping of Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan in 2004.

"We cannot be held accountable by our community or others for the actions of a few who see matters in a different light," he said.

"We are not aware that these celebrations took place. However, we do not condone it if they did. If we had knowledge of such celebrations on our premises we would have endeavoured to address the matter immediately and stopped such atrocious behaviour."

Dr Al-Kaddo also denied other US embassy-cable claims that children of ICCI members did not turn up for school and were visibly sad following the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, in 2006.

"We did not uncover any evidence that these events took place," he said.

"However, we cannot guarantee that all families are exempt from harsh viewpoints and we cannot prevent such actions.

"But we can advise and preach with the hope of ascertaining a balanced view with those who listen."

- Shane Phelan Investigations Editor
Irish Independent

Perkasa claims proselytising, makes police report

Dr M: Congrats for ‘destroying’ Umno

Responding to a FMT report, Mahathir says that certain quarters may have sown the seeds of suspicion among Umno leaders and members.

PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has responded to the speculation that he is once again working backstage to bring the curtain down on another political career – that of his protege Najib Tun Razak.

The former premier complained about a FMT report which portrayed him as being the force behind the alleged move to replace Najib with current number two Muhyiddin Yassin.

Mahathir also congratulated those who had expertly used psychological tactics to “destroy” Umno and sow suspicion among party leaders and members.

The former Umno president said that efforts were underway to weaken the ruling party ahead of the next general election.

Last week, FMT reported that Penawar, an organisation comprising former Umno MPs, had voiced dissatisfaction over Najib’s leadership and wanted him to step down.

The next day, Penawar’s head, Aziz Shamsuddin, a former political secretary to Mahathir, had denied the report, despite refusing to comment the day before.

‘Najib may be suspicious of Muyiddin and me’

Mahathir, credited with playing a key role in ousting former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and prior to that, ending the careers of three deputy prime ministers during his 22 year reign, said the FMT report would lead Najib to doubt Muhyiddin and him.

He warned that if Najib suspected Muhyiddin, Umno would crack, with some backing the president and others throwing their weight behind Muhyiddin.

“The strategy was to claim that Penawar held its meeting to undermine Najib and that Muhyiddin and myself were the hidden hands. Of course, Najib would become suspicious of us and Penawar.

“The report also spooked Penawar and other NGOs that Najib would be suspicious of their meetings and expose them to the accusation that they were Mahathir’s people,” he added in a blog posting.

Mahathir said such reports would make the Malays afraid of politicking and the opposition would achieve its aim of seeing the race becoming disunited and not being able to defend its rights.

‘Malay or Malaysian first’

The former premier also noted that a reporter had recently asked Najib if he was a Malay or Malaysian first, landing the latter in a spot.

Mahathir alleged that the question was deliberately posed to put Najib in a dilemma.

“If he had answered that he was more Malay, then he would be called a racist just like how Muhyiddin and myself were accused. And if he had said ‘Malaysian’, then he would be seen as not sharing the view of his deputy,” he said.

“Najib replied that he did not want to be seen as not being on the same page with his deputy, and this indirectly meant that he was more Malaysian unlike Muhyiddin. Surely, this would strain ties between the two Umno leaders,” he added.

According to Mahathir, the same question must be posed to all Malaysians as well as politicians and NGO leaders.

Commenting on him being labelled as an ultra Malay, the former premier asked if only the Malays had benefitted from all the development and reaped the riches during his tenure. -FMT

No Indian reps in Pakatan’s budget committee, claims NGO

But PKR's Sivarasa says there are Indian MPs in the committee and denies that the Indians have been sidelined.

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat must admit at least two Indian representatives in its “national budget” committee as this would enable the opposition pact to draw up plans to assist the community, if it came to power after the next general election.

The Federation of Indian NGOs president A Rajaretnam, in making the call, said the community was frustrated and vexed with the opposition pact for not including even one Indian in the committee entrusted to draw up the alternative “national budget”.

“Why aren’t there any Indians in the committee? Pakatan has so many Indian MPs and state assemblymen. They are capable of bringing up the woes of the community but why are they not included in the committee?” he asked.

Speaking to FMT, he said Pakatan should immediately appoint two Indian leaders to sit in the committee.
Pakatan set up the alternative “national budget” committee early this month to come up with a comprehensive alternative strategic budget for the country. This was to counter the national budget to be tabled by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also Finance Minister, next month in Parliament.

Pakatan component parties – DAP, PKR and PAS – have two representatives each in the committee. The committee is also made up of industry experts, academics and corporate figures.

The PKR committee members are Tian Chua (Batu MP) and Nurul Izzah Anwar (Lembah Pantai), DAP is representated by Liew Chin Tong (Bukit Bendera) and Tony Puah (Petaling Jaya Utara) while PAS has Dzulkifli Ahmad (Kuala Selangor) and Rosli Yaakop (PAS Negri Sembilan
deputy commissioner).

The alternative “national budget” will focus on a more “decent and sustainable growth” whereby top priority is given to “increasing disposable income”, “redistributive justice” and creating a “sustainable and not reckless” national expenditure.

Rajeretnam said both Pakatan and Barisan Nasional should not treat the 1.8 million Indians in the country as their slaves and behave like their “mandores”.

“Times have changed. We want to have a say on policy matters too,” he said, adding that Pakatan was “always using the multi-racial party” card to sideline and marginalise the Indian community.

“While Pakatan claims to champion the cause of all communities, it has conveniently sidelined Indians. This is even before it came to power. Why is it so difficult to have two Indians in the community?” he asked.

He said the Indians supported Pakatan in the 2008 general election after being let down by the BN which did not address various social issues affecting the community.

“But now it seems like Pakatan is also doing the same thing,” he said.

Not true, says Sivarasa

Meanwhile, when contacted, former PKR vice-president R Sivarasa denied that Pakatan has sidelined Indians in drawing up an alternative national budget.

“Actually, there are a few Indian MPs in the committee. But this was not stated in earlier news reports. I am also one of its committee members,” he added.

He said Pakatan was concerned about the Indian community and if the opposition pact came to power, it would never forsake them.

However, Sivarasa admitted that the committee was recruiting a few Indians “advisers” to sort out the grouses of the community.

“We will not forget the role played by the Indians in the 2008 general election. They ensured our victory in at least four states and reducing the BN’s two-thirds majority in Parliament,” he added.

Sodomy II: Interviews with ex-top cops stalled

Ashamed or not, ex-IGP Musa Hassan refuses to see Anwar face to face


Ashamed or not, ex-IGP Musa Hassan refuses to see Anwar face to faceFor reasons known only to himself, former top cop Musa Hassan does not wish to see Anwar Ibrahim face to face, refusing to proceed with the interview to screen witnesses in the sodomy trial against the Opposition Leader if he was present.

Both Musa and former Malacca police chief Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof have insisted that Anwar absented himself during the interview sessions with the defense lawyers, sparking comment that they were too embarrassed to see the man who has accused them of deliberately conspiring to kill his political career.

"Anwar's presence is needed as he is the person accused, and he has the right to be there. He has to be there as we may need to seek certain instructions. This, I have to emphasise, has never happened before in my legal practice and this is a first," lead defense counsel Kaparal Singh told reporters on Tuesday.

The 64-year Anwar was accused of sodomising a former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan at a posh condo in Kuala Lumpur in June, 2008, soon after he announced his plans to make a parliamentary comeback.

Anwar has accused Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor of hatching the scheme, which also involves the Attorney-General Gani Patail, Musa and Rodwan. Like Najib, Rodwan had also met Saiful in the days before the aide lodged the police complaint leading to the current trial.

Too good to be true

On Monday, the judge sprang a surprise when he allowed the defense to interview all 15 witnesses, including Najib and Rosmah, before they took the witness stand.

Many observers had predicted "it was too good to be true" and chances were high the Najib administration would throw all forms of obstacles to get Najib and Rosmah off the hook from having to appear as witnesses.

On Tuesday, Solicitor-General II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, who is heading the prosecution team, said in a text-message that Anwar's presence was not necessary.

According to Karpal, Yusof also wanted to meet with the trial judge for further directions on the matter.

"We will wait for the prosecution to meet the judge, for they cannot meet him alone. We have to also be present as well," said Karpal, stressing that it was the prosecution that was intentionally creating the delay.
He pointed out that Saiful's father had publicly complained and accused Anwar of delaying the trial.

Meanwhile, the interview sessions have been put on hold until the objection over Anwar's presence is resolved. Another six witnesses had been scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow.

"If at this stage, Musa Hassan and Rodwan are kicking up so much fuss, imagine what happens when Rosmah and Najib's turn comes," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

The first couple are among the 15 witnesses and have already sounded a warning that they will co-operate only if a subpoena was issued. This has sparked criticism that they were not responsibe or civic-minded citizens as Anwar stands to be jailed for 20 years if found guilty.

- Malaysia Chronicle

Tension Grows in Malaysian Religious Controversy


Image
Damansara Utama Methodist Church
Religious police accuse Christians of attempting to convert Muslims 

(Asia Sentinel) Always-tense relations between Malaysia’s religious communities continue to be strained again over a raid on Aug. 3 by officials of the Selangor Islamic Religious Department on a Methodist church in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Petaling Jaya where they said Malay Muslims were being converted to Christianity.

The Christian leaders say nothing of the sort was going on, and that the affair was a dinner to recognize an NGO called Harapan Komuniti (Community Hope) for its efforts to combat Aids. About 100 to 150 people were attending the dinner, among them 12 ethnic Malays.

Yesterday afternoon, the religious department said it was considering arrest warrants for the 12 Muslims, who apparently have refused on the advice of lawyers to give the department statements about their activities at the dinner.

Both Malays and Christians have repeatedly accused the other of attempting to convert the opposite members to their respective religions. According to Malaysia’s Demographic Statistics Division, 60.3 percent of the population is ethnic Malay, 22.9 percent Chinese and 6.7 percent Indian, with other races making up the difference, although the size of the Malay majority is disputed by the smaller ethnic groups.

The story has been complicated by reports in the Malay-language Berita Harian, a daily owned by the United Malays National Organization, and Harian Metro, a tabloid, that two women who attended the dinner said they had been offered RM1,000 each to convert to Christianity. The stories said Christian groups often target poverty-stricken Malays and offer them money to change their religion. The religious police also said the fact that a speaker had used the words Quran and “pray” in a speech was an indication of proseylitizing.

Christian leaders denied the charge. The raid has been roundly condemned by other religious groups as well, who expressed shock that Islamic religious police would enter a church. However, the youth wing of Perkasa, a group that advocates so-called Ketuanan Melayu, or Malay rights, said the reports by the two papers could be credible and asked for a police investigation into the claims.

The federal constitution, which ensures freedom of religion in Malaysia, also bans conversion attempts. Other state governments have enacted other statues that prohibit proselytizing by non-Muslims.

The presence of the Malays at a Christian church dinner during the Muslim fasting month was particularly sensitive, said a Malay source in Kuala Lumpur. “You don’t enter a church during Ramadan,” he said. Muslims are forbidden by their religion from taking food between sunrise and sunset.

The raid has caused confusion because the Selangor State government, which has control over the Islamic religious department, is in turn controlled by the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition. Typically it is the United Malays National Organization, the leading ethnic party in the national ruling coalition, which is accused by the opposition of fomenting religious tension. In fact, the raid was condemned by Khairy Jamaluddin, the chief of the UMNO youth wing, although mainly because the opposition coalition had allowed it to go forward.

Parti Islam se-Malaysia, which is still largely a fundamentalist Islamist party despite the election of moderate officers earlier this year who declared the party to be secular one now, shares an uneasy balance in largely moderate, middle-class Selangor state with the ethnic Chinese Democratic Action Party and more moderate urban Malays.

The state’s chief minister is Khalid Ibrahim of PAS, who apologized to the church. However, Hasan Ali, the executive councilor in charge of Islamic matters, defended the raid. No action apparently is being contemplated against Hasan by the party despite the embarrassment the raid has caused with the coalition’s non-Malay elements. That has spurred speculation that party leaders are concerned that action against Hasan would alienate conservative Muslims in the kampongs, or rural villages who are uneasy about the basic shift in the party’s philosophy.

The strongest condemnation came from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism,, an interfaith group that said in a prepared release that it “unreservedly condemns the unwarranted raid... which clearly breached the constitutionally guaranteed, and internationally recognized, sanctity of a holy place of worship – an event which has been confirmed by the Malaysian AIDS Council to have been organized to raise funds.”

The council described itself as “astonished as to how using the words “Quran” and “Pray” in speech can amount to proselytizing towards Muslims when these very words are used every day by Malaysians when conversing with each other.” The religious police’s action, the council said, “sets a dangerous precedent which must be stopped and condemned by all peace-loving Malaysians. The constitutionally guaranteed and internationally recognized sanctity of all places of worship cannot be compromised, and this unprecedented violation must be investigated and those responsible, appropriately punished.”

The statement also questioned whether any people had been asked to convert, as the newspapers reported, and demanded that: “If the newspapers in question are found to have published false statements likely, or meant, to incite religious or racial hatred between Malaysians, the authorities must initiate the necessary action to punish them to the full extent provided for in our laws.”

The UMNO-owned newspapers in the past have been criticized for consistently using inflamed language to describe relations between the races. At one point earlier this year they reported that Christian leaders in Penang had met to seek to convert Malaysia from an Islamic state to a Christian one, which Christian leaders dismissed as nonsense.

Bursa losses at RM91 billion since last Monday

An investor monitors stock market prices in Kuala Lumpur August 5, 2011. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 — Malaysia’s benchmark index regained some ground today but still fell 1.66 per cent as regional markets struggled to halt their slide on European and US debt crises fears.


The index recovered from its early morning low of 1,423.47 to end the day at 1,472.14, down 24.85 points from the start of trading. Losers continued to outpace gainers 828 to 159, with 179 counters unchanged.

The broad-based Emas index meanwhile rebounded to 10,048.74 at market close after losing as much as 490.12 points, or 1.75 per cent, earlier.

The Kuala Lumpur share market is down an estimated RM91 billion from last Monday following last week’s rout on Wall Street, the worst since Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.

OSK Research yesterday downgraded the bourse from overweight to neutral and cut its year-end target for the benchmark index to 1557 from 1680 due to a global crisis in confidence.

Other Asian stocks continued to tumble today despite unprecedented policy actions by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Obama administration to prop up investor confidence.

The Nikkei dipped 1.68 per cent to 8,944.48, the Hang Seng Index plunged 5.66 per cent to 19,330.70, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.03 per cent to 2,526.07 and the Kospi Index fell 3.64 per cent to 1,801.35.

As of yesterday, stock losses had wiped more than US$3.8 trillion (RM11.4 trillion) from investor wealth globally over eight days and sent investors rushing for safety in the Swiss franc, the Japanese yen and gold, according to Reuters. - TMI

Malaysians Planning To Travel To London Advised To Inform High Commission

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 9 (Bernama) -- Malaysians intending to visit Britain, particularly London, should inform the High Commission in London of their travel plans, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said.

He said this was a precaution as the situation was escalating with rioting reported to be spreading to other areas of London.

At a press conference here, Anifah gave the telephone numbers for families concerned about the wellbeing of relatives in London to dial for information as the rioting entered its fourth day Tuesday.

The families in Malaysia could call the Foreign Ministry at 03-88874353, 88874570 and 88892746.

They can also call the High Commission in London at ++44 020 7919 0242.

Earlier, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said in Bangi that Selangor-born student Asyraf Hazlan sustained a jaw injury and was treated at the Royal London Hospital.

He said the accountancy student, who is in his 20s, was attacked by a group of rioters while on his way to meet a friend.

‘Non-Malays saved Malaya from ruin’

If not for the economic contributions of the Chinese and Indians, Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy says, the newly-born nation would have gone bankrupt.

GEORGE TOWN: The Federation of Malaya would have gone bankrupt if ethnic Indians and Chinese had not adopted the fledgling independent nation as their home, said Hindraf Makkal Sakti chief P Waythamoorthy.

“We should be grateful to Indians and Chinese who sacrificed their rights to save the newly-born Malaya from economic ruin,” he said when revealing findings of his research into thousands of documents pertaining to Malaya’s pre-independence talks.

He said the then auditor-general HM Watson’s report on the accounts of Federation of Malaya as of Dec 31, 1957 revealed that rubber and tin export constituted the top two contributors of export duty for the country.

Rubber contributions made up 68% of tax revenue at $124.4 million in 1957 and $143.9 in 1956. Tin contributions came in second at 28%, generating tax revenue of $54.2 million in 1957 and $60.2 million in 1956.

The workers in the rubber industry were predominantly Indians while the Chinese dominated tin mining.
“If the British deported the Indians and Chinese out of the Federation following independence, obviously Malaya would be bankrupt instantly,” he said.

His studies also revealed that Malaya would not have survived if the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca stayed out of an independent Malaya and remained British crown states.

He said Penangites and Malaccans were British subjects then entitled to United Kingdom citizenships and the Malay rulers had no powers over these two states.

“But the non-Malays sacrificed their rights to make Malaya their home,” he disclosed.

He said ethnic Indians and Chinese were dominant communities in the Straits Settlements then, numbering some 1.3 million. The difference in population and property ownership between the two communities was razor thin.

The total population of both Malays and non-Malays in the other states was about four million then.

‘Special position only for 15 years’

During constitutional talks and submissions to the Reid commission, Waythamoorthy said document revealed that the Tunku Abdul Rahman-led Umno delegation wanted the Straits Settlements to be part of the federation in return for citizenship and equality for non-Malays.

At the same time, Waythamoorthy said Tunku and Abdul Razak Hussein requested and assured the Reid Commission that the Malay special position would be implemented “only for 15 years, between 1957 and 1972, and after that all citizens shall be treated with equal status.”

He claimed that Umno later manipulated and colluded with the British to make the provisions in Article 153, which governs the Malay special position, a permanent feature against their submissions and undertakings to the Reid Commission.

Based on his findings, Waythamoorthy said the notion that Indians and Chinese were immigrants and should be thankful for the opportunity given to prosper here “should stop once and for all.”

“The country would have been impoverished should the Indians and Chinese decided to stay out of the Federation while Penang and Malacca remained as British colonies.


“Should the two states have remained under the British, the ethnic Indian and Chinese populations would be entitled to equality under the British laws. They would have prospered.

“It would have encouraged Indians and Chinese in other states to migrate to the Crown Straits Settlements and they would not be subjected to a racist system and be treated as second-class citizens like today,” argued the London-based Hindraf chairman.

Waythamoorthy is scrutinising the pre-independence documents to prepare for his US$4 trillion class action suit against the former colonial master, the British government.

He originally filed the class action suit in London on Aug 31, 2007, the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence, to demand compensation for Indian Malaysians, whose ancestors were brought in by the colonial government as indentured labour.

However, the suit was stalled following the Malaysian government’s clampdown on Hindraf and arrest of several lawyers under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The suit claimed that, after granting independence to Malaya, the British had left the Indians without representation and at the mercy of the Umno government.

Hindraf’s London-based lawyers would be in Malaysia for several days from Thursday onwards to meet potential ethnic Indian clients to become co-claimants in the suit.

‘Built on their sweat, blood and tears’

Waythamoorthy said his findings proved that the newly-born Malaya was “over-dependent” on the economic contributions of the Indian and Chinese communities.

He said the rubber and tin industries generated other parallel revenues and development for the country such as infrastructure, transport and taxes.

He believes that the socio-economic factor compelled the British to keep the Indians and Chinese in Malaya.

He said the British wanted to protect the interests of their business and that of Malay rulers, who were direct beneficiaries of the contributions of the so-called “pendatangs”.

“Non-Malays adopted Malaya as their new home as they were encouraged and welcomed by the British and Malay Rulers then. Truth is, this country was built on the blood, sweat and tears of ethnic Indians and Chinese,” he said. - FMT