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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fire at DAP HQ, leaders cry arson

First it was splashed with red paint, and now a fire breaks out at the Penang DAP headquarters. The party's state chief believes that those with political motives are behind the attacks.

PETALING JAYA: A fire broke out at the Penan
g DAP headquarters this morning, four days after the premises was splashed with red paint.

A stack of newspapers placed outside the building was razed in what is believed to be an arson attack on the office in Jalan Talipon which is located in a residential area.

“I have nothing but words of condemnation against those who have perpetrated such a dangerous, violent and shameful act,” said state party chief Chow Kon Yeow, adding that it could have endangered the lives of those living next door.

“Our headquarters is neither a bungalow nor a tower; we are joined with houses of the people.

“This reckless attempt at burning down our office could have endangered the lives of others living in adjacent units. If not for the quick-thinking and resourceful neighbours we have, this fire could have had worse consequences,” he added.

Chow said in view of recent incidents, he believed that the arson attack was part of a coordinated act by those with political motives.

Related to ban?

The arson attack, according to the twitter postings by several DAP leaders, could be related to the decision in Penang to bar the use of loudspeakers for reciting verses from the Quran before dawn prayers.
The ban was played up by certain quarters to portray DAP as stifling the rights of Muslims.

Penang mufti Hassan Ahmad however clarified that the decision was made by the state religious authorities, and not the state government.

Chow also urged parties dissatisfied with decisions made by the Penang government to air it via proper channels instead of resorting to violent means.

“We are ready to engage citizens who have genuine concerns, we are open to criticism, and we are ready to provide answers to the questions that have been asked of us,” he said.

He also urged the police to investigate the attacks on the DAP headquarters.

“The longer the police delay action, the more it will look like hate crimes against DAP are permitted,” he said.

Muhyiddin mulls over strategic options

Time is not on the side of the deputy prime minister if he is aiming for the top job. He can either go for broke, plan an exit strategy or hope his boss will do badly in the coming general election.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, a battle-hardened veteran, has suddenly found that time is not on his side at all, and with good reasons too. He stands poised at 64 to enter the wrong side of the 60s in the blink of an eye.

The word from his people is that their man has to decide, sooner rather than later, from among several strategic options arrayed before him.

He may prefer, as he has been doing for some time now, to run hard in the same place. Such an approach is clearly exhausting and can by no means be retained for the long haul.

His current education portfolio, once a minefield and a stepping-stone to the premiership, is a virtual bummer after all the politicising that has gone on here for so long.

No one except for the oddball here and there is in the least bit interested whether national schools retain Malay or English, or both, for the teaching of maths and science. The deputy prime minister is trying to squeeze water from a stone here.

No one batted an eyelid either when Muhyiddin called in recent days for the teaching of English to be reviewed. There was only ominous silence when he revealed that after 17 years of learning English in school – two years nursery, two years kindergarten, six years primary, five years secondary and two years pre-university – a student can only smile and giggle nervously when interviewed in English.

Exit strategy

Muhyiddin can also work out an exit strategy, anathema to his many supporters, or go for broke and take on Najib Tun Razak, his boss and Umno president who is a good many years his junior.

Screaming that enough is enough is not an immediate option since Najib has craftily postponed the Umno elections until after the next general election. The excuse was provided by Muhyiddin’s infamous statement not so long ago that he’s Malay first, a Malaysian second. That was seen as knocking Najib’s 1Malaysia theme for his administration in the teeth at a time when he most needed support.

Muhyiddin has survived the storm in a teacup that followed. However, his deliberately calculated insult on national television has neither been forgiven nor forgotten by Najib’s people. It will be payback time at the first opportunity that Najib gets to even scores with a deputy whose loyalty is now seriously in doubt.

Najib knows that he has to keep looking over his shoulder now all the time when he’s not sleeping with an eye open, his rusting keris poised at his side. Such is the intrigue that has gone on in Malay politics since the Malayalee Muslims in Singapore first raised the banner of Malay nationalism to cope with the Chinese commercial spirit.

Muhyiddin has to now contend with the distinct possibility that many of his supporters will be summarily dropped from the slate for the next polls. Many of those who are retained will certainly not be given places in government if they win. Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the eternal Machiavellian, employed this strategy to good advantage during his long innings, 22 years, in power.

Do-nothing strategy

Muhyiddin has yet another option– to wait it out until the general election is over and gamble on the possibility that Najib will be ousted if the ruling Barisan Nasional fails to wrest back its two-thirds majority in Parliament. That’s the fate that Najib’s predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, suffered after a drubbing at the 2008 general election. The opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, retained Kelantan as expected and bagged another four states in Peninsular Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur.

Muhyiddin’s best bet is that Najib would have proven himself weak, at least on the surface, in the face of the machinations of the grand puppet master Mahathir within the Umno supreme council, which is in his pocket. The former premier, going on to 87, is determined to witness his son, Mukhriz, occupying Muhyiddin’s chair before he meets his maker. In order for that to happen, Mahathir has to stage-manage Muhyiddin’s political career and have him kicked upstairs to be a seat-warmer for his son.
In short, Muhyiddin can adopt the do-nothing strategy but it’s by no means a safe strategy.

Time is not on Mahathir’s side.

However, there is still, as yet, no sign that he will become senile in the near future and/or succumb to dementia although he has been known to plead temporary amnesia in the past.

If Mahathir forgets, Muhyiddin will be history, Najib too but that be more because the latter will die laughing. They may all, as yet, cancel each other out and remove themselves from the political equation. That would be one huge relief to all Malaysians who see Mahathir as the bane of their life, Najib a pitiful clown and his deputy one long in the making.

Between Najib and Muhyiddin, there are brickbats and bouquets as well for guessing if the opposition can fathom who’s the lesser of two evils. Blame this on the Mahathir factor, among others, which has seen Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim embroiled in a long-running Sodomy II in court. True, Mahathir used Najib to launch Sodomy II, a fact which Muhyiddin’s people keep reminding Anwar. But Muhyiddin is no angel either as evident from his involvement with Mahathir and Mukhriz to ease out Najib from the premiership. He (Anwar) may yet beat the odds and at least have the long, last laugh when the next general election results drift in. He is no doubt keeping his fingers crossed.

India faces risk of its own Arab Spring

A growing anti-graft movement is snowballing into one of the biggest challenges for the ruling Congress party.
By Paul de Bendern
NEW DELHI: An anti-corruption movement led by a feisty 74-year-old social activist is snowballing into one of the biggest challenges in decades for the ruling Congress party and, if not contained, risks sparking India’s own version of an Arab Spring revolt.

While no one is expecting an Egypt-like overthrow in the world’s biggest democracy, a galvanised and frustrated middle class and the mushrooming of social networking sites combined with an aggressive private media may be transforming India’s political landscape.

Anna Hazare has quickly become a 21st century Mahatma Gandhi inspiration for millions of Indians fed up with rampant corruption, red tape and inadequate services provided by the state despite the country posting near-double digit economic growth for almost a decade.

“Democracy means no voice, however small, must go unheard. The anti-corruption sentiment is not a whisper – it’s a scream. Grave error to ignore it,” Anand Mahindra, one of India’s leading businessmen and managing director of conglomerate Mahindra Group, wrote on Twitter.

Hazare’s arrest on Tuesday, only hours ahead of a planned fast until death against graft was the last straw and sparked spontaneous protest across the country of 1.2 billion people.

The young and old, rich and poor, without apparent political affiliations, took to the streets in a rare voice of solidarity – a potential lethal cocktail for any party in power in India.

Politicians are increasingly being judged on governance rather than old caste and regional ties – as has already happened in states like Bihar – and the new social shift will push national parties to be more responsive to voters’ needs.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Congress party of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty and the police stood isolated over the decision to arrest a man for planning a peaceful fast.

The Congress has for the past year reeled from mounting corruption scandals, including allegations of millions of dollars in kickbacks in the sale of mobile phone licences in what is emerging as India’s biggest-ever graft.

A former telecoms minister, top corporate executives and senior Congress party officials are in jail awaiting trial.

Indians have routinely voted out governments and in that sense the anti-graft movement is different from those sweeping the Middle East.

The next election is due in 2014 and an opinion poll last week by India Today showed that if elections were held today, Congress would just about lose out to the main opposition party.

Wake-up call

In a passionate speech in Parliament, 58-year-old opposition leader Arun Jaitley said protests witnessed over the past 24 hours, reaching even the remotest villages, were something he had not seen in his lifetime and must be a “wake-up call” for politicians to put their house in order.

Students, lawyers, teachers, and business executives have taken to social networks like Twitter and Facebook to spread the message and vent frustration against corruption.

“These protests are part of a global phenomenon, thanks to technology and a more proactive media,” said N Bhaskara Rao, social researcher and chairman of independent think-tank Centre
for Media Studies.

Most people do not expect India to follow the example of North Africa and the Middle East. But one of five Indians go hungry and almost half the vast population is poor – causes for potential unrest.

India has been governed for most of the time since Independence in 1947 by the same family dynasty. For decades Indians united under these leaders but this year has seen a seismic gap emerging between the old guard and a vibrant and younger population.

“This has the ingredients of being India’s own non-violent Arab uprising,” said Savio Shetty, a stock market analyst in India’s financial hub Mumbai.

“But the dish needs to be cooked and looked after! Tahrir square was a rebellion against the government itself… of a 40-year tyrannical rule… things are quite different here.”

Manmohan remained defiant in Parliament over the arrest of Hazare, maintaining that anti-graft laws should be discussed and passed in Parliament and not by activists in the streets.

“When people exhaust their capacity for tolerance, then you should take it that it is a beginning of some kind of revolution. Now it has gone above people’s tolerance level,” Hazare told Reuters in a recent interview in his home village.

India ranked 87 in Transparency International’s index on corruption in 2010, behind rival China and polls show corruption vies with the high cost of living as the number one voter issue.

What is also apparent is that the anti-corruption protests have shown the limited influence of opposition parties, largely sidelined. They will need to reform to win over an increasingly disenfranchised population.

New power – middle class

The bulk of India’s political activism has been those aligned to political parties or paid to protest on their behalf.

But in recent years a growing and more prosperous middle class has given up its traditional distaste for politics and is seeking ways to exert greater influence.

“The new corporate middle class has little patience with the politics of dignity and identity that are – for better or worse – central to Indian politics,” wrote Vinay Sitapati in the Indian Express newspaper.

Almost half of India’s 1.2 billion population are farmers, many live on government subsidies and are reluctant to challenge local and national governments over endemic graft.

But with costs of living rising fast and daily news reports of state officials with meagre salaries caught with bags of cash and kilogrammes of gold, or registered as owners of multi-million-dollar homes, patience seems to have been snapped.

“Now citizens want to play a more participatory role in governance,” said Rao. “This will bring in a sea change in Indian politics.”
- Reuters

The case of Mr Khan

The sad truth is that most Malaysians have a short memory on matters that they would rather not get involved with.
By Lim Teck Ghee

Many Malaysians have forgotten how much we owe to Hindraf and its supporters for awakening the spirit of dissent and conscience of the people against the Barisan Nasional’s unscrupulous use of state force and power.

A little over three years ago, it was a Hindraf organized rally against the socio-economic and religious marginalization of poor Indians, especially of Tamil origin, that brought over 40,000 supporters to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demonstrate for the right to justice and fair treatment.

It was an event that was quite unprecedented in our political history, including in the overkill and repressive measures used by the police and other government authorities.

We also seem to have forgotten the extraordinary personal sacrifices of the movement’s leaders in their efforts to assert their legitimate right to dissent and to draw attention to the plight of their community.

Five prime movers of the movement were incarcerated under the Internal Security Act and many supporters were subject to pressure and other forms of disincentives to compel them to abandon their struggle.

The political impact of the Hindraf movement can be seen in the results of the 2008 general election when a disenchanted electorate – drawing inspiration from the Hindraf struggle – saw through the hypocrisy of the BN’s policies and leadership and lost its fear of opposing the incumbent ruling parties.

Because we owe them so much, it is doubly disappointing that so few Malaysians appear to be concerned over the recent deportation of Imran Khan, the solicitor appointed for the Hindraf suit in Britain.

Khan was detained at KLIA on arrival at 2pm last Friday and deported at 2am the next day and apparently attempts by top officials from London and the British High Commission to assist him were not entertained by the Malaysian authorities.

Condoning deportation standards

The Malaysian authorities have not explained why they stopped a solicitor from meeting his clients.
To date too apparently, neither the Malaysian Bar nor any of the civil society movements nor members of Parliament have registered any concern or protested publicly, according to a Hindraf source.

This silence is all the more stunning given the audacious excuse by the authorities that Khan is a “prohibited immigrant” and his name is on the list of ‘wanted’ persons.

In fact Khan is a prominent Commonwealth citizen renowned for his work in human rights and the fight against racism.

Whatever misgivings one might have with Hindraf as Khan’s clients, it is important that we raise our voices and not be seen as condoning his deportation especially when this is a breach of recognized international protocols and when he has not uttered a word against the Malaysian government and can in no way be construed as “a threat to the country’s security”.

A chorus of protests was raised against the government when the solicitor from France, William Bourdon, was deported a month ago in connection with his visit to draw attention to the scandal over the Scorpene submarine case.

The same Hindraf source has noted that there has been a deafening silence for almost a week on Khan’s deportation and commented that “surely, the entire “civil society” and Bar could not possibly be ignorant?”

He was probably being sarcastic. The sad truth is that most Malaysians have a short memory on matters that they would rather not get involved with or whatever memory cells they have are easily short circuited by the official spin.

Four more ex-soldiers admit to postal vote fraud

Malaysiakini Postal vote manipulation has been a common practice in the military for many years – so it seems – now that more retired military personnel are speaking up.

Now, four ex-military personnel have confessed to committing election fraud – the same way an ex-army man said he did so earlier this month.

The four, who had served at army and air force bases across the country, say they marked thousands of postal votes in three separate general elections between 1978 and 1999.

The four – Major (Rtd) Risman Mastor, Kamarulzaman Ibrahim, Mohamed Nasir Ahmad and Mohd Kamil Omar – said they were ordered by their commanding officers to mark postal votes for the hundreds and thousands of personnel who were out in the field.

Their expose today is the second after an ex-army man came forward earlier this month, making a similar claim that he was ordered to mark postal votes for other personnel.

Kamarulzaman, who was a clerk working at the Terendak army camp in Malacca, said he was ordered to spend three days marking thousands of ballot papers during the 1986 general election.

The 53-year-old said he was given three pens of different colours, which he used alternately to sign the postal votes in the absence of the army personnel who were on their tour of duty.

“For example, I would use a blue pen to sign for one serviceman and a black pen to sign for his wife. I was also ordered to mark votes for the opposition,” he said at a press conference hosted at the PAS headquarters by the party’s youth wing.

When asked how many postal votes he signed, Kamarulzaman said he could not remember the exact number but was sure that it ran into the thousands.

“If you want to say how many, let’s just say my hand went numb (from signing the ballot papers). I basically voted for soldiers from all over the country.”

‘It was the wrong thing to do’

Kamil, a retired Air Force commando based at the Butterworth Air Force base, claimed he was offered a “reward” if he complied with the order to mark a box full of postal votes during the 1999 general election.
The 21-year veteran however refused to carry out the order, saying that he realised it was not right for him to mark ballots for his colleagues.

“They gave me a box, and expected me to mark all the ballots in 30 minutes. I realised it was wrong,” said the 49-year-old, adding that he has no idea what the “reward” was since he did not carry out the order.
Nasir, 50, who was a clerk based in Sandakan during the 1986 general election, said he and another colleague were told to split over 900 postal votes between them to be marked on behalf of their fellow soldiers.

He pointed out that being in the military, orders are orders and that soldiers were “not too bothered” about politics.

“Even after retirement, we didn’t care so much about politics. But when Bersih came about, we started to realise that what we did was not right,” he said.

Risman stressed that this practice went as far back as the 1978 general election, when he and nine others were ordered to go through around 200 sacks – each containing 10 postal votes – during his time at the Kampung Sawah army camp in Port Dickson.

“I did it just that one time… I don’t remember the figures but I believe there were about 10 (ballots) in each sack. In effect there were just 10 of us actually voting,” he said.

Global food price warning

We still think we can manage without creating food self-sufficiency and paying more attention to sustainable farming and agriculture?
From Democracy Now!
The World Bank has unveiled a report warning food costs are approaching levels that sparked massive unrest across the globe three years ago. José Cuesta, a senior economist at World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Equity Group, unveiled the new findings.

José Cuesta: “Global prices of food remain very high, very close to 2008 peak levels, and basically one-third above of the prices that they were one year ago. They will find more difficult to access and to buy food. They will find more difficult to diversify their diets. And the cost of living for everyone, for all consumers, of course, especially the poor, will worsen. The cost of living will increase, and that will worsen their ability to buy the diversified foods.”

Toronto religious leader charged in sex assaults

A Toronto religious leader who police say has travelled the world has been charged with 13 sex offences, and investigators believe there may be more victims, both here and abroad.

Mohammad Masroor, 48, is the imam at the Baitul Mukaram Islamic Society on 3334 Danforth Ave. He has been teaching there since he came to Canada in 2008.

Masroor was arrested Aug. 10 and charged with 13 sex-related offences allegedly committed against five victims. The assaults allegedly occurred between Nov. 1, 2008 and July 28, 2011.

“The victims are both male and female,” Det. Const. Karen Armstrong said. “We believe there are other victims as (the accused) has lived and worked worldwide.”

Armstrong said police have been in touch with other victims and the investigation, which began three weeks ago, is “progressing.”

She said the accused “is known to the victims, but I can’t go into more detail than that. I don’t want to jeopardize the safety of the victims in any way.”

Masroor teaches in the mosque as well as in private homes.

Police say that before coming to Canada, Masroor was teaching in Florida, Michigan and Bangladesh. He has also lived and taught in Germany, France, Hungary, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. However, “our investigation is not limited to these locations,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said the accused “was seen as a leader in the community and he used that to his advantage.”
Abdul Fattah Aboud, who used to work as an assistant imam at the same mosque as Masroor, said he was shocked at the charges.

"Is it possible? Someone like him?" he told the Star. "He's a very well respected person in the community."
Mir Mofazzal, who works as a caretaker at the mosque, has had dinner at Masroor's home. He said Masroor is married with two daughters and three sons.

"He's a very pious man," he said.

Police said Masroor is being held in custody, and that a publication ban is in place.
Toronto investigators have yet to speak with foreign police forces about the case, Armstrong said.

With files from Chloé Fedio

UK lawyer 'appalled' by state of Indians in M'sia

Putrajaya to review press act, but firm on race, religion issues

Hisham said today that a review of the law, which requires all print media to apply for an annual license, was one of the revisions currently being considered. — file pic
PUTRAJAYA, Aug 17 — The Home Ministry will review the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) but will stand firm on issues involving race and religion, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today, in response to the prime minister’s promise to review the government’s censorship policy.

The home minister told reporters today that a review of the law which requires all print media to apply for an annual license was one of the steps the government was looking at in fulfilling Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise.

“Yes but let it be non-political and not at the expense of issues of race and religion,” Hishammuddin said when quizzed on calls for the PPPA to be reviewed following Najib’s pledge that current censorship laws would be reviewed.

However, he cautioned that “in a multiracial and multi-religious society, filtering must be done as absolute freedom can cause chaos.”

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had also said yesterday that the government will implement a special system to “monitor” the media, and that this mechanism will eventually replace censorship laws.

Najib had said that censorship laws are no longer effective in this day and age and can cause even more damage, citing the example of how his administration’s blacking out of an article on the July 9 Bersih rally by The Economist garnered more negative reaction than the actual story itself.

Hishammuddin added today that Putrajaya would continue to pursue a Media Consultative Council (MCC) as a “self-regulatory body” which will draw a consensus from media practitioners themselves.

He said that the ministry had met chief editors from several newspapers yesterday to begin discussions on the proposal.

The Malaysian Insider had reported that several media heads had chosen to snub a meeting last month to discuss the MCC’s terms of reference over fears that it would lead to even stricter press controls.

Under the PPPA, the print media can be punished under the “national security” clause while “false news” is punishable with a one-year imprisonment.

Critics of the law have described it as a sword hanging over the heads of publishers and editors, and exploited by the government to control dissent.

PSM demands probe on sexual misconduct by police

PSM has slammed the police's lackadaisical attitude towards its previous reports.

PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) activists today lodged a disciplinary report against the police demanding that they investigate previous claims of sexual misconduct against detainees.

Party secretary-general S Arutchelvan said today’s report revolved around previous police reports that were lodged by members in Kepala Batas, Penang and Ipoh on the same issue.

Early last month, 36 PSM activists were detained while carrying out their “Udahlah Bersaralah” campaign in Perak.

(“Udahlah tu.. Bersaralah or Enough already, Retire now” was a nationwide campaign to remind Malaysians of the pitfalls of returning Barisan Nasional to power in the 13th general election.)
They were detained in Kepala Batas, Penang.

They have been charged with distributing subversive documents and Bersih 2.0-related paraphernalia.
According to Arutchelvan, the detained activists had to endure abuses including sexual abuse during their detention.

“There were detainees who were told to undress in the presence of male police officers,” he told FMT today.

Today’s police report was lodged by activists P Jothi, G Pakialetchumi, P Indra, R Ramasamy and G Velayutham.

Asked about the reaction from the police on today’s police report, Arutchelvan said that the report was received by one officer known only as ASP Krishnakumari.

“She told us that they (the police) would need six months to investigate the matter.”

Arutchelvan also questioned the police’s lackadaisical attitude in acting on the previous reports.
“The police should have interviewed our people and conducted an identification parade,” he said.

Hindraf lawyer: No dignity even in death

British lawyer Suresh Grover's fact-finding mission takes him to various places around the country, including visiting poorly maintained Hindu cemeteries.

BATU KAWAN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti lawyer Suresh Grover is appalled by the poor living conditions of many Indian families in this country.

“There is no dignity even in death for Tamils. It’s happening here today… it’s shocking,” the visiting British lawyer who is on a fact-finding mission to Malaysia told some 100 residents here last night.

Suresh described several Hindu cemeteries that he visited as swamp-like graveyards lying on water-logged landscape without proper drainage and engulfed by overgrown vegetation.

Although he acknowledged that a segment of ethnic Indians were living in the comfort zone, he said the bulk of the community was still impoverished.

He blamed the sub-standard quality of life of these working class Indians on state-sponsored marginalisation policies.

Since arriving here, Suresh said he saw ethnic Indians besieged with problems such as stateless status, lack of basic education and housing, and religious conversion.

“I am not saying that Malaysians are racists. But definitely there are elements to prove institutionalised racism,” said the prominent human rights lawyer.

Besides his fact-finding mission, Suresh is here to meet potential co-claimants for the US$4 trillion suit to be re-filed by Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy against the British government.

Suresh arrived in Malaysia on Friday afternoon with another British human rights lawyer Imran Khan, who was refused entry.

Originally, Waythamoorthy filed the suit against the British government in London on Aug 31, 2007, seeking compensation for Indian Malaysians whose ancestors were brought into Malaya as indentured labourers.

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

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

‘Hindraf is not racist’

In Kulim, Suresh met three teenage girls, aged 16 to 18, who never went to school because they did not have birth certificates or identity cards.

During a visit to Nibong Tebal later, he met an aging widow with 14 children living in a room. Her monthly income was the mere RM300 pension received for her years of service in a nearby plantation.

He also met an elderly couple. The Muslim man and his Hindu wife got married in 1966 and have 10 children and 45 grandchildren.
“But until today, the government has not recognised their marriage,” he said.

He said the couple’s children were forced to be registered as Muslims merely to obtain relevant identity certificates, although all of them were practicing Hindus.

In Kampung Medan, Petaling Jaya, Suresh met an Indian man, who was seriously injured during the racial attacks that happened there over a decade ago.

Suresh was dismayed that until today, the authorities had not compensated or, arrested and prosecuted anyone even though four people were murdered and 13 others severely wounded .

“There must be social justice, equality, freedom and civil liberty if a country wants to grow as a peaceful developed nation and democracy,” he stressed.

He rubbished claims by detractors that Hindraf was a racist organisation and its British suit was politically motivated.

“I know Waythamoorthy for years, he has never been racist. Hindraf struggle is not racist… it’s against racism. Imran and I would never have taken up the case if Hindraf was racist,” he pointed out.

He equated Hindraf struggle with that of the American black civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

He said the suit was purely legal and not about political vengeance against the British or other quarters.
However, he acknowledged that a case of such magnitude would surely have political, socio-economic and cultural impacts.

“It’s unprecedented as never before a former colonial subject has filed a class action against the British government. We need thousands of documents to prove our case … it’s challenging,” he said.

Overwhelming number of clients

Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Suresh told reporters that he was restrained by the lawyer-client confidentiality from revealing the number of clients for the suit against the UK government.

However he added that the number was overwhelming
“There is no shortage of claimants despite the situation that they (the Indian minority) are in,” he said, adding that Wathamoorthy was the first claimant.

He also said that Hindraf’s lead counsel Imran would visit Malaysia again despite being deported last week
“Imran cannot be stopped unless he obstructs the police in a criminal case,” he said, urging lawyers in Malaysia to raise the issue on the basis that the claimants need to see their legal counsel. -- FMT

How Zul Noordin distorts the truth

In the year 638, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, Umar, the third Caliph, led an army to conquer Jerusalem. The Christian leaders of Jerusalem invited Umar into the Church of Holy Sepulcher so that he could fulfil his prayers. Umar, however, refused to do so out of respect for the Christians. Instead, he chose to pray outside the church.

No Holds Barred
Raja Petra Kamarudin 

First, see the video below from minute 6:23.
At minute 6:23 in that video, the Member of Parliament for Kulim Bandar Baru, Zulkifli Noordin, said that the Caliph Umar refused to enter a church when invited to do so. This is proof, he said, that Muslims should not enter a church. 

He does not care about the law, argued Zul. Malaysian law may not have made it illegal or haram for Muslims to enter a church. But he is not concerned with that. He is guided by the example (sunah) of the Prophet’s Comrades (Sahabat Nabi) and Caliph Umar, one of the Prophet’s Comrades, refused to enter a church. This is all that matters.

Zul did not offer any details on this incident he quoted. He did not clarify when and where this incident was supposed to have happened. Either he is not clear about the incident or he is intentionally trying to mislead his audience.

Well, in that case, since Zul is either not too clear about the incident or refuses to clarify his statement with intent to mislead his audience, let me help with the clarification.

In the year 638, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, Umar, the third Caliph, led an army to conquer Jerusalem. The Christian leaders of Jerusalem invited Umar into the Church of Holy Sepulcher so that he could fulfil his prayers. Umar, however, refused to do so out of respect for the Christians. Instead, he chose to pray outside the church.

Umar’s main concern was that, if he entered the church to pray, future generations of Muslims might misinterpret his action as he had ‘acquired’ or ‘captured’ the church and had turned it into a mosque. That was why he chose to pray outside the church rather than in the church. This was to safeguard the church and not trigger a precedence where churches are taken by force and turned into mosques.

That was the real reason why Umar refused to enter the Church of Holy Sepulcher to pray. He intentionally prayed outside the church to avoid any misunderstanding and conflict. He wanted to demonstrate that even though the Muslims had conquered Jerusalem, they did not disturb any churches or took these churches by force. Churches would remain churches and Muslims would have to build their own mosques if they wanted to pray.

I don’t wear a songkok or white skullcap like Zul. But I know my history. And that was the history of what happened when Umar conquered Jerusalem. And that was the real reason why Umar declined the invitation to enter the church to pray. It was to avoid any misunderstanding and conflict, and not as Zul is tying to mislead us.

Malaysia Looks West for Investments

LONDON — With Europe’s economy mired in a debt crisis, governments in the region have been looking east for a helping hand, tapping the likes of China and Japan to buy their bonds and step up investments.
Queen Elizabeth met with Najib Razak, Malaysia's prime minister, and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, at Buckingham Palace. 

But at least one Asian country — Malaysia — still sees value in turning the opposite way, to enhance opportunities for its more assertive multinationals as well as bolstering investments from the West.

The Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, led a large official delegation last month to Britain via Turkmenistan, to capitalize on his country’s strong economy and investment inflows and assuage concerns about political agitation in the multicultural Southeast Asian country.

In past years, “it was just ‘please come to Malaysia,’ ” the trade minister, Mustapa Mohamed, said during an interview on the trip. “Now we are going to foreign countries to help provide access to Malaysian companies.”

Part of the sales pitch is selling the economic recovery story. The economy grew by 7.2 percent last year after shrinking 1.7 percent in 2009, and the government anticipates expansion of about 5 percent this year and next. The Malaysian inflation rate has been creeping up, though it remains moderate by global standards, at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in June.

But officials were also eager to ease potential concerns about the Malaysian political challenges.
“I think many investors have been to Malaysia, they understand the complications in Malaysia — multiracial, multireligious,” Mr. Mohamed said. “We need to have laws in place to ensure that things don’t get out of hand.”

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, or Bersih, an amalgam of nongovernmental and activist groups, has pushed for changes in electoral law from the coalition government led by the United Malays National Organization, which has dominated politics since independence from Britain in 1957.

Bersih was declared illegal July 1, after which hundreds of activists were rounded up. Most of them were quickly released, but some were held longer. On July 9, thousands of protesters defied a government ban and held a large street protest, during which the police fired tear gas and water cannons and arrested about 1,700.

“We have to engage,” Mr. Mohamed said, “we have to continue changing, reform.”

Underneath the political tension is an economy that has proved increasingly attractive to overseas capital.
Nonequity foreign direct investment inflows in 2010 were $9.1 billion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, up from $1.4 billion a year earlier. The government is confident that it can retain that momentum.

“It’s not having an impact on investor confidence,” Mr. Mohamed said of the recent disturbances.
Ian Bryson, an analyst in Singapore at Control Risks, a consulting firm, said that there was less political risk in Malaysia than most of its regional peers and that the country benefited from relatively low corruption and a fairly dependable judiciary.

“I don’t think the current political agitation is pivotal or that the country is at a tipping point,” he said. “Malaysians are not interested in a full-scale upheaval.”

“The opposition is factious but vociferous,” he said, adding that splinter, conservative groups from the United Malays group still had the potential to destabilize the governing coalition in the next election, which is expected to be called in 2013.

On the economic front, Mr. Bryson cited concerns about limits on equity ownership in certain sectors — favoring ethnic Malays known as Bumiputera — and the employment of foreigners. He also noted broader skills shortages and restrictive local hiring and firing rules. “It’s generally very open to business, but with some cultural and sociopolitical limitations,” he said.

A report from the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, ranked Malaysia 21st out of 183 economies globally for the ease of doing business. The country scored lower for starting businesses and enforcing contracts.

Government Will Do Its Best To Improve Electoral System, Says PM

PORT KLANG, Aug 17 (Bernama) -- The government will do its best to improve the electoral system in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said towards this end, the government had agreed to set up a parliamentary select committee and that this showed its sincerity in wanting elections that were clean and fair.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) government was unafraid of changes to the electoral system as it wanted to ensure that the government of the day was returned by the people's mandate, he told a people's gathering for the breaking of the Ramadan fast at the Sri Perantau apartments here today which was attended by some 10,000 people.

Najib said that if the elections in the country were crooked, obviously the BN would not have surrendered Selangor to the opposition after the last general election.

The prime minister also reminded the people not to take for granted the peace and harmony they were enjoying or look down on the achievements that have been attained.

Instead, Malaysians should continue to preserve and value the peace and harmony they were enjoying, he said.

Najib said he could empathise with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron who had to face riots in his country recently.

Cameron had said Britain, a country that practised parliamentary democracy, had lost the moral high ground because of a 'sick" segment of society which resorted to wanton rioting and looting in the aftermath of the killing of a youth by a policeman.

On Umno, Najib, who is also Umno president and Selangor Umno chief, said the government was willing to consider requests from the people of Selangor as voiced out by Kapar Umno for the 1Malaysia retail outlets and 1Malaysia clinics to be opened in the state.

He also extended his gratitude for the large turnout despite poison pen letters going around that he would not be turning up for the function.

Also present was Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar, who is also Selangor Umno deputy chief.