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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Luxury, horror lurk in Gadhafi family compound

Shweyga Mullah, a nanny for Hannibal and Alinesays Aline burned her with boiling water.
Moammar Gadhafi told his people he lived modestly during his nearly 42-year rule over Libya, often sleeping in a Bedouin tent.

Even if that was true for the leader, it certainly wasn't for his sons.

At a seaside compound in western Tripoli, the Gadhafi boys enjoyed a decadent lifestyle that his people could only dream about, while perpetrating unspeakable horrors on the staff that served their every whim.
CNN visited the seaside homes Sunday.

The first house we entered was apparently the "party" beach condo with an oversized door that led into sleek, modern, black-and-white rooms. It had been ransacked by the rebels, but still it was spectacular, with panoramic ocean views and plenty of evidence of the hedonism for which Hannibal Gadhafi -- one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons -- is famous.

Discarded bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label Scotch and Laurent Perrier pink champagne cases littered the floor. Much of the electronic equipment had been plundered, but instruction manuals remained for high end Harman/Kardon stereo components. Cabinets designed to hold two huge TV screens could still be seen.

The bedroom held a circular bed, while the in-suite bathroom was complete with sunken Jacuzzi tub lined with plastic white flowers. Outside, a hot tub, a bar and a barbecue area adjoined the private beach.

Another villa contained a white baby grand piano and more expensive stereo equipment. Next door was a huge swimming pool and diving complex, a gym, a steam room and a sauna faced in white marble. In other house.

We came upon rebels furtively dividing up a huge stash of alcohol. They seemed edgy and tense -- this is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and alcohol was supposedly banned under the Gadhafi regime.

We filmed them quixotically studying the labels of Cristal champagne and fine St. Emilion Bordeaux, apparently not realizing each bottle is worth hundreds of dollars.

As we were about to leave, one of the staff told us there was a nanny who worked for Hannibal Gadhafi who might speak to us. He said she'd been burnt by Hannibal's wife, Aline.

I thought he meant perhaps a cigarette stubbed out on her arm. Nothing prepared me for the moment I walked into the room to see Shweyga Mullah.

At first I thought she was wearing a hat and something over her face. Then the awful realization dawned that her entire scalp and face were covered in red wounds and scabs, a mosaic of injuries that rendered her face into a grotesque patchwork.

Bersih says vindicated by new poll

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Bersih 2.0 has said it had expected the overwhelming two-thirds support for free and fair elections published by a local research house yesterday, adding it was inspired to ramp up its campaign to educate Malaysians nationwide on polls ahead of the 13th general election.

The electoral watchdog’s chief Datuk Seri Ambiga Sreenevasan said she had expected the overwhelming support from Malaysians polled by the Merdeka Center and published yesterday.

“That accords with our stand and the reason for that is because our demands are so wholly reasonable,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

But the lawyer disputed the pollster’s analysis that “Malays were also the only group where more agreed with the way the Najib administration handled Bersih than not, with 53 per cent saying they were satisfied with how the government reacted to the rally”.

Ambiga’s fellow Bersih 2.0 steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, however, seemed to sport a different view when she said the Merdeka Center poll finding was a “fair observation of Malaysians’ view of electoral reform”.

“We definitely need to do more work to reach out to those out of town and in the rural areas, not just to Malays. It’s an indication for Bersih. We don’t think our demands have reached out to every city in Malaysia, for example, Sabah and Sarawak," Chin said.

The head of Empower, a non-government linked group to Bersih 2.0, said the committee will also unroll a new programme to attract more support after the week-long Hari Raya-National Day twin festivities.

Chin also told The Malaysian Insider it had drawn up its strategies to promote its eight demands to free up the electoral process but will only announce them later.

She however, was overjoyed at the positive response from ordinary Malaysians towards the 62-member coalition, which the Home Ministry had outlawed last month.

“We need people from every state,” she said.

Thousands of Bersih supporters flooded the streets of the capital on July 9 to demand for free and fair elections after talks between the election watchdog and the government broke down.

This was despite an unprecedented intervention by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who called on both sides to reach an amicable solution for the sake of national stability.

Bersih has demanded that Putrajaya execute eight electoral reforms before the next general election, expected to be called soon.

The survey by the Merdeka Center of 1,027 randomly selected registered voters aged 21 and above was carried out between August 11 and 27.

Over two-thirds of Malaysians agree with the demands mooted by Bersih 2.0 while close to half disagreed with the way Putrajaya handled the July 9rally and the events leading up to it, the latest Merdeka Center poll results showed.

Seventy per cent agreed that foreign observers should be allowed to monitor elections while 68 per cent felt opposition parties should be given access to government-owned television and radio stations for at least one hour a day.

Support for foreign observers and greater opposition access to media were strongest among the Chinese (74 per cent and 84 per cent, respectively) while Indians were most likely to agree to the use of indelible ink (83 per cent).

Sweeping changes to MIC candidates list?

Party sources reveal that several top guns are expected to be dropped as candidates for the next general election.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president G Palanivel is expected to make sweeping changes to the party’s candidates list for the next general election, expected to be called within the next 18 months.

Party sources reveal that the new president, who took the helm of the MIC late last year, will drop several top guns and nominate news faces to fill in the vacant slots.

Sources say Palanivel has prepared a list of candidates to contest the nine parliamentary and 19 state assembly seat allocated to MIC under Barisan Nasional’s seat sharing system.

This follows a call by Deputy Prime Minister and deputy BN chief Muhyiddin Yassin who recently asked all component parties to prepare their list of candidates for the next general election.

MIC is the third largest BN component party after Umno and MCA. The party’s nine parliamentary seats are Tapah, Sungai Siput (both in Perak), Cameron Highlands (Pahang), Teluk Kemang (Negri Sembilan), Kota Raja, Kapar, Subang, Hulu Selangor (Selangor) and Segamat (Johor).

The party suffered its worst general election setback in 2008, retaining only three of the nine parliamentary seats.

Among those who lost their seats were then party chief S Samy Vellu and his former deputy Palanivel. Samy Vellu, the longest-serving MIC president prior to his retirement last year, lost in Sungai Siput while Palanivel lost the Hulu Selangor constituency.

However, the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat came back to BN through a by-election last year.
For this by-election, the BN top leadership rejected Palanivel as a candidate and named former MIC information chief P Kamalanathan as the candidate. The reason given for Palanivel’s rejection was because the ruling coalition wanted a “winnable” candidate.

Palanivel eyeing Cameron Highlands?

Party insiders reveal that the newly crowned MIC chief is now eyeing the Cameron Highlands parliamentary constituency replacing MIC vice-president SK Devamany, who is also deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

“Palanivel intends to contest in Cameron Highlands… he considers it to be a winnable seat,” said a party leader.

He said although Palanivel is Selangor MIC chief, he has yet to gather enough grassroots support in the state for him to contest one of the four parliamentary seats allotted to MIC in Selangor.

Another fear is that Palanivel will lose by contesting in Selangor as all the four seats – Subang, Kapar, Kota Raja and Hulu Selangor – are said to be “conquered” by Pakatan Rakyat.

“Palanivel was previously eyeing the Sepang parliamentary seat. However, the idea was dropped after Umno refused to swap the seat with the Kota Raja parliamentary constituency,” said the party source.

Out of the nine parliamentary seats, only the Segamat seat looks like a good bet for MIC. Party deputy president and Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam is expected to stay put to contest the seat.

“Based on this, Palanivel needs a safe seat which would ensure a BN win. If he losses and Dr Subramaniam wins, Palanivel would have to vacate the presidency and that would effectively end his political fairytale,” said a party insider.

On another front, speculation is rife that M Saravanan, who is a deputy minister and MIC vice-president, will be shifted to the Kapar constituency. Saravanan, the Tapah MP, is also the Federal Territory MIC head.

It is learnt that Perak State Legislative Assembly speaker and state MIC deputy chairman R Ganesan is being groomed to replace Saravanan in the Tapah constituency.

The announcement by the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) that it will field its candidate in Kapar will turn the largest parliamentary constituency in the country in terms of voters, into a hot seat.

“With MCLM in the fray, the Kapar seat would definitely be too close to call. Fielding a top gun like Saravanan would only brighten BN’s chances of winning the seat,” said a party insider.

Sources also reveal that incumbent Kapar MP S Manikavasagam of PKR will not contest the seat in the next general election.

S Sothinathan back in the race

A surprise inclusion in the MIC list will be S Sothinathan, who, MIC insiders say, will contest the Teluk Kemang seat in Negri Sembilan.

Sothinathan has been in “cold storage” since he lost in his bid to contest the MIC deputy president’s post in 2009. He was a two-term Teluk Kemang MP before losing the seat in 2008.

Palanivel, sources say, offered an olive branch to Sothinathan in order to “check” Dr Subramaniam.
FMT also learnt that MIC secretary-general S Murugesan will be asked to contest the Sungai Siput seat while party treasurer Jaspal Singh will be fielded in Subang.

MIC central working committee member M Mohana from the Puchong division is said to be the party’s candidate for Kota Raja.

Kamalanathan is expected to be retained for Hulu Selangor.

MIC Youth and Wanita chiefs T Mohan and P Komala Devi respectively will not be given any seat to contest, said the party source.

A MIC leader, who declined to be named, said although the list has been drawn up, it is not final.
“The candidates need to be endorsed by the respective divisions. Furthermore, ground work needs to be done if the named candidate is acceptable to all, not only Indian voters,” he said.

The fate of former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam is also unknown.
“The same with Samy Vellu’s son Vell Paari… it’s a million-dollar question. As I said earlier, the list is just the beginning… there is a possibility of minor changes,” he said.

India’s anti-graft drive triumphs amid concerns

By challenging the supremacy of Parliament, India's movement against corruption has set a dangerous precedent.
by Siddhartha Kumar
NEW DELHI: Indian activist Anna Hazare’s dramatic campaign, which forced the government to take decisive steps towards a tough anti-corruption law, has sparked mass celebrations but could well have set a dangerous precedent for the world’s largest democracy by challenging the supremacy of its Parliament.

Hazare, 74, went on a hunger strike on Aug 16 after rejecting as “ineffective” an anti-graft ombudsman, or lokpal bill, introduced by the government.

The campaigner said he would not end his fast until Parliament introduced and passed a stronger version of the bill called jan lokpal, or citizen’s ombudsman, prepared by his team.

Despite repeated appeals by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Parliament over the past days, Hazare and his supporters insisted on bypassing parliamentary procedures and displayed an unwillingness to consider other proposals.

It was only after Parliament agreed that three key demands from Hazare’s version would be considered by a panel for inclusion in the lokpal bill that the feisty reformer gave up his protest on Sunday at New Delhi’s Ramlila grounds, leading the embattled government to heave a sigh of relief.

It was the first time that India’s Parliament explicitly agreed to accommodate demands raised by an outside entity, that too when the official bill had already been moved.

Parliament, however, did not pass a resolution or hold an oral vote on Hazare’s demands. The government employed every trick in the Parliament rulebook not to commit itself through either voting or a resolution.

“There was no surrender of Parliament’s supremacy, there was also victory of people’s power,” Hazare’s key aide Medha Patkar said, describing it as a “win-win” situation for both the government and the movement.

Coercive tactics

Critics of Hazare’s strident campaign have also grown, with some associates distancing themselves from the movement.

Nikhil Dey, convenor of the National Campaign from People’s Right to Information, which has fought for greater government accountability, has differences with Hazare on the method of the
passage of the bill.

Like the government and Parliament, Dey’s group wanted a debate before the law was passed.
“You cannot dictate Parliament to pass law in a particular timeframe. But the Parliament handled the crisis maturely. So, while their (Hazare’s) demands have been accommodated, Parliament has also protected the processes by which it frames laws,” Dey said.

“It was not so much of a capitulation since the parliamentary panel will examine the proposals after which there will be discussion and vote,” he said.

Hazare began his protest with the shrill pitch of “Pass the Bill or Leave,” leading ruling Congress party politicians to say that the activist’s coercive tactics would undermine parliamentary democracy in the country.

There has also been criticism of Hazare’s aides Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, who mocked at parliamentarians and urged the crowds to disrespect lawmakers.

Former Parliament speaker and communist politician Somnath Chatterjee described Hazare’s movement as anti-democratic.

Indefatigable campaigner

“Hazare was openly saying that the fight was against the Parliament and its members. Undermining the Parliament is demeaning the constitution itself. Parliament represents the entire nation, while Ramlila grounds represent 200,000 to 300,000 people at the most,” Chatterjee said.

There are concerns that Hazare’s campaign could well spur similar agitations by groups seeking to compel the government to get their demands passed as law within a given time, Dey said.

But the masses celebrating the success of the anti-corruption campaign on streets across the country remain convinced that hardline tactics such as Hazare’s indefinite fast were needed to force a reluctant government to act on the lokpal bill, which has languished in a house committee since the late 1960s.

Hazare had gone on a similar fast in April, which pressured the government to introduced the bill in early August.

Social scientist Yogendra Yadav said it was a major victory for civil society.

“One is profoundly mistaken to believe that street contestations and agitations are against the spirit of a democracy. These pulls and pressures are very much the staple of democracy and strengthen it,”
he said.

“Hazare’s movement may institutionalise pre-legislative consultations. It has also infused a lot of energy and leadership in our public life and given opportunity to Indians to transition from
subjects to citizens,” he said.

There is no stopping Hazare, yet. The indefatigable campaigner announced his next campaign just before being hospitalised post his 13-day fast.

The new Indian icon has marked election reforms as his next mission, and said he would embark on a countrywide tour to ensure that no tainted leader gets elected to Parliament.

The Menace of HIV in Asia

An angel in the fight aganst Aids
New UN report indicates progress but says there is also cause for alarm
Although new HIV infections in the 30 countries that make up the Asia-Pacific region have fallen by 20 percent since 2001, prevalence among intravenous drug users is climbing alarmingly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, according to a new joint United Nations report.

In Pakistan, according to the report, released over the weekend, HIV prevalence almost doubled among people who inject drugs, from 11 percent in 2005 to 21 percent in 2008. In Bangladesh, prevalence rose from1.4 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2007, the latest figures available.

The Philippines, which had been presumed to be less at risk because there were fewer intravenous users and because it was off the main heroin trafficking routes, “is experiencing a rapidly growing epidemic,” the report noted. In Cebu, according to the report, HIV prevalence in people who inject drugs increased from 0.6 percent to 53 percent between 2009 and 2011. The report, however, does not say how big the drug-injecting population is.

In the Philippines especially, where the Catholic Church frowns on the use of condoms, the overlap between injecting drug use and sex means that HIV epidemics invariably spread to other population groups unless effective prevention efforts can be put in place. So far, there has been little sign of effective programs from the government.

Because of the sheer size of its population, India now accounts for nearly half of Asia’s HIV epidemic, with 2.4 million people living with the disease. New infections were estimated at 140,000 in 2009, with 170,000 Indians dying of the disease. Women account for 39 percent of all reported HIV cases, most of whom were infected by their sexual partners. Men who have sex with men, (7.3 percent) and injecting drug users (9.2 percent) were the top single categories. Some 320,074 were receiving antiretroviral therapy at the end of the year.

The report, delivered at the five-day 10th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, which ends on Aug. 30 in Busan, South Korea, stressed that with support from civil society, communities and development partners, governments have made steady progress in slowing the spread of the epidemic. But while there has been a three-fold increase in access to anti-retroviral therapy, the epidemic still is outpacing the response.

There are still almost two new HIV infections for every person who starts treatment, according to the report, titled “HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero.” Governments are not focusing adequately on so-called on most-at-risk-populations and neither domestic nor international sources are putting u p enough funding to combat the disease.

An estimated 4.9 million people were living with HIV in this region in 2009, the last year4 for which figures were available, almost the same as in 2005. The majority live in one of the 11 countries in the region - Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Vietnam.

Significant progress has been made in getting sex workers to insist that their customers use condoms, according to the report, particularly in Cambodia, 99 percent of sex workers said their most recent customers had used a condom. Burma reported 96 percent, Laos 94 percent. The laggard countries are Pakistan, where only 43 percent reported their customers used a condom, Papua New Guinea, 53 percent and Malaysia, 61 percent.

Cambodia, India, Burma and Thailand reported reducing their infection rates significantly. Cambodia is one of just eight countries of the world providing antiretroviral therapy to more than 80 percent of the people eligible for it. More than 60 percent of the people in the Asian region who need treatment do not have access to it, however. Only US$1.1 billion was being spent on AIDS across 30 countries in the region in 2009, according to the report. And, although new HIV infections have decreased among children by an estimated 15 percent, regional services to prevent new infections in children are falling behind, especially in South Asia.

An estimated 260,000 to 340,000 people still died of AIDS-related causes in 2009, the report said. As could be expected, new infections remain concentrated among people who buy and sell sex or inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender people. Epidemics “start with the virus spreading rapidly among people who inject drugs and use non-sterile injecting equipment. Many may also buy and sell sex, allowing HIV to spread to larger networks of sex workers and their clients,” the report said.

An estimated 75 million men across Asia and the Pacific are male clients of sex workers. They are the key determinants of both the spread and magnitude of HIV epidemics across the region, the report continues, transmitting the disease to their sexual partners. Women make up about 35 percent of the people living with the disease in Asia and the Pacific, a figure that has remained stable for the past decade. The majority of them were infected by their male partners.

Society in general still discriminates and stigmatizes those with HIV, according to the report. Punitive laws against sex workers and their clients; injecting drug users, men who have sex with men; and transgender people, ironically block access to life-saving services for these affected populations.

Data also suggest that a significant proportion of new HIV infections within key populations are among young people under the age of 25 years. In most settings, HIV prevention programmes are failing to sufficiently reach most at risk young people.

Though China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Samoa and Thailand are funding the bulk of their HIV response from domestic resources, many countries in Asia and the Pacific depend heavily on foreign funding, particularly for the provision of antiretroviral therapy. Funding cut backs from international donors is further aggravating the problem. So, increased investment of domestic resources, especially in middle-income countries, is critical for the ongoing regional response to HIV.

Indonesia: Islamic group seeks to censure film that promotes pluralism

Jakarta, 29 August (AKI/Jakarta Post) - Indonesia's Islam Defenders Front (FPI) is calling for a dialogue with filmmaker Hanung Bramantyo over the latter’s film, which promotes religious pluralism.

“We refuse [for the film to be screened], so let’s sit together in a discussion to decide which parts of the movie should be cut,” FPI chief Habib Salim Alatas said Monday.

Habib added that the discussion was necessary to prevent further demonstrations over the film.

The FPI is a hard-line Islamic group that claims to enforce moralism and defend Islamic principles.

“Hanung should talk about the film’s mission, and after that we shall decide whether the movie should be screened at theaters.”

On Saturday last week, hundreds of FPI members demonstrated in front of SCTV television station in Central Jakarta over its plan to broadcast the film on the night of Idul Fitri.

After meeting with the protesters, SCTV management later decided not to screen the film.

In April, FPI also demonstrated against the film being screened at theaters. At that time, Hanung met with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and decided to cut some parts out of the movie.

Najib’s approval rating slides

A survey has shown that dissatisfaction over Najib's performance has increased in the last three months.
PETALING JAYA: Political instability, price hikes, unfavourable economic conditions and the Bersih 2.0 rally have caused a significant dent in Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s approval rating.

A recent survey conducted by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research saw the 1,027 respondents pushing Najib’s rating down 6% from 65% in May 2011 to 59% in August.

When broken down into ethinic groups, 69% of Malays, 38% of Chinese and 69% of Indians approved of his administration.

Merdeka Centre concluded that the latest rating could be linked to pocket book issues as well as public perception of the government’s handling of the July 9 Bersih rally and its aftermath.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the government’s handling of the Bersih 2.0 issues compared to 48% who felt that the matter could have been dealt with better.

Meanwhile, 49% said they understood Bersih 2.0′s eight demands for electoral reforms with 88% backing the coalition’s call for a review and “clean up” of the electoral roll.

However, none of the factors that contributed to the drop in Najib’s approval rating appeared to impact the optimism that the country was headed in the right direction.

Fifty-one percent of respondents gave the nation’s direction the thumbs up with the most optimistic being the Malays at 64%, down 1% in May 2011.

Confidence among the Indian electorate however sank from 56% to 39% while Chinese confidence crawled upwards from 30% to 31% during the same period.

The survey also noted that the public’s top concerns remained the economy at 38% which was 14% higher than eight months ago, followed by social problems at 10%.

Social problems ranked second at 10% with politics, race and leadership issues comprising further 9%.

PSM: Utusan tidak lapor isu sebenar

Timbalan Ketua Polis Negara juga dikritik kerana mengeluarkan kenyataan

PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) hari ini mengecam Utusan Malaysia kerana membuat laporan yang berunsur fitnah kerana memusing fakta isi ucapan Timbalan Presiden PAS Mohamad Sabu berhubung peristiwa Bukit Kepong.

Setiausaha Agongnya S Arutchelvan berkata PSM berpendirian bahawa apa yang ditulis oleh akhbar arus perdana milik Umno itu bukanlah isu sebenar dan terkeluar dari konteks maksud apa hendak disampaikan oleh Mohamad Sabu.

Ini adalah kerana sejarah negara ditulis dari kaca mata Umno yang telah bersekongkol dengan British untuk mendapat kemerdekaan,” ujar Arutchelvan yang mendakwa pejuang kemerdekaan aliran kiri seperti Shamsiah Fakeh tidak direkodkan di dalam buku sejarah.

Pemimpin PAS yang juga dikenali sebagai Mat Sabu mendakwa bahawa anggota komunis yang menyerang Balai Polis Bukit Kepong pada tahun 1950 adalah pejuang negara yang sebenar dalam satu ceramah di Tasek Gelugor pada 21 Ogos, lapor Utusan Malaysia.

Rentetan itu, semalam Timbalan Ketua Polis Negara Datuk Seri Khalid Abu Bakar menasihatkan Mat Sabu agar mempelajari sejarah sebelum mengeluarkan kenyataan.

Arutchelvan turut mengkritik Utusan Malaysia dan pasukan Polis DiRaja Malaysia yang memanipulasi kenyataan Mat Sabu.

“Utusan Malaysia dan PDRM juga membuat pelbagai tohmahan dan cerita,” kata Arutchelvan berdasarkan pengalaman penahanan 31 anggota partinya pada Jun dan Julai termasuk penahanan enam pemimpin parti di bawah Ordinan Darurat (Pencegahan Jenayah dan Ketenteraman Awam) 1969.

Kebal bercakap bohong

Ujar beliau, “pengalaman yang PSM belajar ialah Utusan Malaysia kebal bercakap bohong dan tidak ada apa yang boleh dilakukan.

“Begitu juga ada ahli Perkasa (Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia) dan orang Umno seperti (Senator) Ezam (Mohd Nor) yang boleh membuat ugutan berunsur jenayah.

“Tetapi mereka kebal dan tidak ada apa-apa tindakan pun diambil terhadap mereka,” ujar Arutchelvan sambil merujuk kepada kegagalan polis bertindak terhadap Perkasa dan Ezam.

Arutchelvan turut meminta agar pihak polis bersikap neutral dalam penyiasatan kes ini.

“Sebagai seorang pegawai polis beliau sepatutnya menyiasat samada kenyataan Mat Sabu mempunyai unsur jenayah atau tidak.

Pemimpin PSM tersebut turut menyelar kenyataan Khalid seumpama kenyataan seorang ahli politik.

“Beliau tidak sepatutnya mengeluarkan kenyataan seperti seorang ahli Umno atau ahli politik. Jika beliau ingin menyertai politik, bersaralah dan masuklah gelanggang politik,” tegas beliau.

Sementara itu, di Kangar, Mat Sabu mendapati apa yang dilaporkan oleh Utusan Malaysia itu berkaitan dengan tragedi Bukit Kepong adalah fitnah terhadap beliau dan PAS.

Sehubungan itu, beliau telah mengarahkan peguamnya untuk menghantar notis saman kepada akhbar itu dan memintanya meminta maaf dan menarik balik laporan palsu itu.

Forum on ‘future of Indian M’sians’

A business organisation will hold a forum to look at the battle for Indian votes ahead of the next general election.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) will be organising a forum here on Sept 11.

Titled “Future of Indian Malaysians – Towards the 13th general election”, the forum would feature Indian political leaders from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat as well as activists, community and business leaders.

In a statement, Miba president P Sivakumar said the last general election witnessed an erosion of support for BN.

“After 11 general elections of solid block support to BN, a majority of Indians voted opposition candidates as reflected in the current representation in Parliament and state assemblies.

“However, since 2008 and after 16 by-elections there are some indications of a change with regard to the return of Indians back to BN due to the community’s confidence in Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s leadership style and inclusive approach.

“The battle for the Indian vote is at hand and therefore this forum seeks to provide an opportunity for an intellectual discussion to ascertain the current status of events.

“This forum is a meeting of minds and we hope that all parties will take the opportunity to use this forum to debate their views, challenges, hurdles and future possibilities,” he added.

Sivakumar said this is the time for stock taking to compare what was promised, with what was delivered, between what was part of the election manifesto in 2008 and the track record in terms of delivery and public confidence.

“We acknowledge that the Indian community is a very diverse political community. We believe all groups irrespective of the political divide are committed towards seeing the advancement of the Indian community in the context of socio-economic development of all Malaysians.

“The forum provides a platform for politicians and aspiring politicians to share their dreams and hope for the community in the context of what they have promised and delivered,” he added.

Registration fee is RM100. The forum would be held at the Menara PKNS here. For further information, contact Miba’s office at 03-7859 1670, fax:03-7859 1864.

India must pressure Malaysia over ethnic issue

London-based lawyer P Waythamoorthy believes that India's Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs should take the lead to champion Hindraf’s cause.

GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti today called on New Delhi to exert international pressure on the government to address and resolve the ethnic Indian community issues in Malaysia.

Given India’s growing stature as a regional economic and political power, Hindraf supremo P Waythamoorthy said the Indian government should raise issues of human rights violations on Malaysian Indians in international forums.

He recalled how India pressured the Commonwealth to expel Fiji a few years ago.

“We in Malaysia were thrilled over it,” he said.

Waythamoorthy was speaking to Prof V Suryanarayan from India-based South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) during a special interview recently.

Excerpts of the interview were published on SAAG’s website on Saturday.

According to Waythamoorthy, if India, especially Tamil Nadu, expressed solidarity with Malaysian Indians, it would inspire and intensify Hindraf’s struggle.

He also called on all political parties, academic community, civil society groups and media in India to show greater sensitivity to Malaysian Indian problems.

London-based Waythamoorthy, who is now attached to an international lobby in India, suggested that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs should take the lead to champion Hindraf’s cause.

He told SAAG that Hindraf’s struggle had been based on the principles of the late Indian independence hero Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi.

He said through Gandhian principles, Hindraf was able to convince the Malaysian Indian community to discard their fear of the government’s brute force and come to the streets to voice against injustice.

“Gandhian non-violent means have inspired us to mobilise national and international support to our struggle,” said Waythamoorthy.

Neglected community

SAAG is a non-profit think tank conducting public interest and advocacy work. The group consists of Indian academics and former government officials.

Its objectives are advancing strategic analysis, promoting public understanding and contributing to the expansion of knowledge of security internationally.

The group also seeks to address the decision-makers, strategic planners, academics and the media in South Asia and the world at large.

SAAG’s scope of work covers from Iraq to China.

On the fate of the Malaysian Indians, Waythamoorthy said like Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Rakyat state governments have also neglected and sidelined the community.

He said Malaysian Indians had high hopes when Pakatan swept to power in several states, largely due to Hindraf-inspired political protests.

“Pakatan has equally let down the Indian community,” he added.

He said Pakatan’s excuse that it can only deliver to the Indians after capturing the federal government was unacceptable.

“State governments have absolute control over land matters, business opportunities and awarding of state scholarships.

“Yet they too have marginalised Malaysian Indians,” said Waythamoorthy.

Pakatan uncomfortable with Hindraf

He said Hindraf had made repeated requests for meetings with the Pakatan state governments to find a common solution to the manifold problems facing the Indian community.

But, he said, Pakatan leaders had refused to entertain all the overtures perhaps “because the state governments were uncomfortable with Hindraf”.

He feels that Pakatan could be uneasy with Hindraf’s struggle which emphasises on basic human rights, equality and putting the Indian community in the mainstream economic development.

“Pakatan appears preferring to deal with politically weak ethnic Indian politicians, who will play second fiddle to them,” he said.

He said that given the current political reality that the Indian votes may tilt the balance in many constituencies, Hindraf may field its own candidates in the next general election through the Human Rights Party.

“We will use this card to our advantage.

“I am sanguine that in the next election, we will have more Indian state and parliamentary representatives,” he said.

Britain is accountable

On the impending British suit, he said the former colonial government shall be held accountable for its wrongdoings and exploitation of ethnic Indians for some 200 years.

He said Indian rights as British subjects, minority citizens and human beings were disregarded in the new Malaya Federal Constitution.

He noted that racist provisions favouring Malay-Muslims were enacted that would be used to oppress, suppress and marginalise the minority Indian community.

Monetary compensation aside, he said the litigation was mainly to make the world aware that the colonial government has failed in its international obligations to treat all men as equals.

“It will set a precedent to other struggling people across the world and can open up avenues for international law,” Waythamoorthy said.

S’gor rejected motions to improve Indians’ lot

A state assmblyman whose motions to assist the Indian community were dismissed in the July sitting of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly is planing to re-table his bids in October.

PETALING JAYA: Just days after Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers conceded that the opposition pact, which rode to victory in five states on the wave of Indian support in 2008, had failed the community, a legislator revealed that several motions beneficial to Indians had been dismissed by the Selangor State Legislative Assembly.

According to Kota Alam Shah state assemblyman M Manoharan, the assembly has dismissed seven motions which he had tabled in July.

He said if the motions had been passed and become law, not only would the Indians have benefited but all the poor in Selangor would have also found reprieve.

Explaining the motions, Manoharan said he had moved for a Felda-like scheme involving 2,000 acres of land to be set up for 200 hardcore Indian poor in Selangor.

He had also moved for a RM10 million fund to be set up to assist Indians in small and medium enterpries in the state.

“I also tabled a motion to set up an Indian affairs bureau under the purview of the menteri besar and asked for at least 10 acres of land for all Tamil and Chinese schools in the state,” he said.

The other three motions he had tabled were renaming Jalan Barat in Petaling Jaya to Jalan V David to commemorate the late unionist, a seven percent discount for all poor Malaysians who are purchasing homes from the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) and a “no demolition” order or shifting of temples erected in the state before 2008.

“But the only motion that was accepted by the assembly was the temple order.

“But that too they (Pakatan lawmakers) tweaked to read no demolition or shifting a temple without the approval of the executive council in charge,” said Manoharan, who added that he will again table the same motions in October sitting of the assembly.

Land and housing

Manoharan, who was upset with the dismissal of his bids, said it was “high-time Indians enjoyed the benefits denied to them since Independence”.

“About one-third of the entire Indian population in Malaysia lives in Selangor.

“If the motions had been passed and become law, they would not only help Indians but also all those who are poor in the state.

“I asked for the land so that we can teach the Indian community to cultivate it for agriculture or livestock.
“This would also empower our youths and deter them from joining criminal activities,” said Manoharan, who is from the DAP.

On the housing issue, he said owning a house was a basic necessity for everyone.

He added that PKNS was in a position to assist Indians and the low-income earner acquire homes.
“PKNS is an established property company and it makes money from its housing projects.
“Surely, it can help our low-income people by offering discount.

“Besides, the Menteri Besar (Khalid Ibrahim) is the chairman of the government-linked agency and he can monitor it directly,” said Manoharan.

Malay votes

Asked why the other Pakatan state assemblymen refused to support his motion, Manoharan said it could be due to fear of losing Malay votes.

However, he added that even the Malay assemblymen were aware that the Indians were left behind in many areas.

“Some lawmakers did come to me after the state assembly meeting and said my ideas were good.
“But when I asked why they didn’t support it then, they kept mum,” he said.

However, Manoharan stopped short of criticising the Pakatan state government, saying the assemblymen now enjoyed more freedom to table their motions unlike in the previous state government.

“The Indian representatives then would not even dare to table such motions.

“I must thank our current speaker (Teng Chang Khim) for allowing more freedom in the assembly.
“And I am going to table the motions again in the next state assembly sitting in October. I’m confident my fellow Pakatan assemblymen will support me,” said Manoharan.

‘Good ideas’

Meanwhile, newly appointed Senator V Subramaniam, from MIC, supports Manoharan’s motions, saying the ideas “were good”.

Subramaniam, however, conceded that allocating 10 acres for Tamil schools in Selangor would be tough as some schools were located in densely populated areas like Petaling Jaya where land is scarce.

“However, the rest of the motions are good. The (state assembly’s) rejection shows that Pakatan is not sincere in helping the Indians despite riding high on the community’s votes in 2008,” said Subramaniam, who is better known as Barat Maniam.

Subramaniam, who is Petaling Jaya MIC’s division chief, said if BN wins Selangor in the next polls, MIC representatives will support the motion to improve the Indians’ lot in the state.

“The ideas are in line with the 1Malaysia concept. If we win in the next polls, we will look out for the welfare of all Malaysians.

“Besides, that is why we are elected into the post,” he said.

Last week, Indian DAP leaders conceded that the opposition pact had failed the community after having a closed-door meeting involving 50 DAP members, including lawmakers.

One DAP member said that Pakatan is doing “another BN” for Indians in Selangor, Penang and Kedah.
Among those present at the meeting were DAP national vice-chairman and Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, Penang DAP deputy chairman and deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, Perak DAP deputy chairman and Tronoh assemblyman V Sivakumar, Perak DAP vice-chairman and Sungkai assemblyman A Sivanesan and former ISA detainee V Ganapathirau.

Salam Aidilfitri & Selamat Hari Merdeka-54

Maaf Zahir Batin & Happy Merdeka Day!
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin to all Muslims in Malaysia.
The coinciding of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the 54th National Day and the 48th Malaysia Day should be a special triple occasion of joy and celebrations for all Malaysians.

It must be a matter of concern to all Malaysians, however, that this is not the case with the recent irresponsible and incessant ramping-up and incitement of race and religious hatred and tensions through baseless and incendiary allegations by certain media.

A call must urgently go out to all Muslim and non-Muslim Malaysians to dedicate themselves to promote the values of justice, freedom, love and compassion on the triple occasion of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, 54th National Day and 48th Malaysia Day – values which are common to all the great religions which have found a home in the country.

Whether we are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or Orang Asli, whether Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Taoists or Sikhs, let us unite as one Malaysian people first and last to give real meaning to the triple occasion of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the 54th National Day and 48th Malaysia Day.

Najib Condemns Attempts To Discredit Sacrifices Of Forefathers, Security Forces

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tonight vehemently condemned the statements and attempts by anyone to discredit the sacrifices of the country's forefathers and security forces in the struggle for independence.

He said it was most regrettable that there were people who hero-worshipped the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) which he said was anti-national and against God and religion.

The prime minister said this in his special message for Aidilfitri and the 54th anniversary of independence, and was apparently referring to a statement allegedly made by PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu.

Mohamad Sabu was alleged to have said that the communist terrorists who attacked and killed 25 police personnel and their families in the Bukit Kepong bloody tragedy in 1950 were the real heroes because they were fighting against the British.

"While we are in a celebrative mood, let's not ever forget the sacrifices and blood and sweat of our forefathers and members of our security forces who fought for independence," Najib said in his message broadcast over Radio Television Malaysia (RTM).

He said the people should bear in mind that what the country enjoyed so far did not come by accident or that it could be sustained if the country's independence was not appreciated or safeguarded.

Najib said that it was important that the people nurture national unity and patriotism.

He also said that the coming of the Aidilfitri and National Day celebrations brought about a deep meaning about how blessed Malaysia was.

Calling on the people to continue with the open house tradition, Najib assured them that the government would continue with providing direct subsidy on essential items such as rice, cooking oil, flour and sugar as well as fuel such as the RON 95 petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas apart from the subsidy on health and education.

The government, however, would be doing so in a prudent manner so as not to hurt the country's fiscal health, he said.

He said several initiatives had already been launched to help ease the burden borne by the people, such as through the introduction of the 1Malaysia Shop which offers essential items at a lower price.

Apart from that, basic healthcare can be obtained for RM1 at 1Malaysia Clinics. Under the 1Malaysia Welfare Programme (KARISMA), a total of RM1.4 billion has been allocated for half a million senior citizens, disabled persons, single mothers as well as police and armed forces widows.

Najib who is also finance minister said although the increase in food prices was a global phenomenon, the government would still work on finding the best ways to handle the problem and also the high cost of living.

The Cabinet Committee on Supplies and Prices chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also proves the government's commitment to ensure the planned and implemented programme will really help the people.

Najib stressed that the government's efforts would not cease because there would be comprehensive follow-ups to effectively handle problems faced by low and medium-income families in the 2012 budget, to be presented early October.

He is proud of the country's achievements, and described Malaysia as an oasis in the midst of a chaotic world hit by constant political and economical upheavals.

"Today, as we know, the economic giants of the world such as the United States and several European countries, which are advanced economies, are facing serious financial crisis to the extend of requiring a 'bailout.'

"On the other hand, Malaysia, as a result of a prudent and efficient economic management, is not only able to expand its economy and create job opportunities but also able to give a half month bonus to 1.4 million civil servants involving RM2 billion to celebrate the Aidilfitri and the National Day," he said.

Najib reminded the people not to be contented with the success achieved thus far as the highest objectives of the government was to raise the welfare of the people as the main national vision since independence.

He said the government would continue to implement proactive programmes to ensure the creation of new wealth and continuous economic growth and produce high income jobs in line with the higher skills acquired.

"What is desired is a prosperous and harmonious country, where each individual is willing to work hard and raise his level of skills and use all available opportunities wisely for a better life and bring benefit to our generations to come," he said.

Now Masterskill sues Jeyakumar

It’s been a tough couple of months for Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj.
First, he was arrested on 25 June 2011 and kept in solitary confinement. He was released a week later – only to be re-arrested under the Emergency Ordinance and kept in solitary confinement for another month. Then he was released again only to be hit with charges under the ISA and the Societies Act for which he has to appear in court in October 2011.
That’s not all: along with eight of the 30 PSM activists to be tried in October under similar charges, Kumar was called to have his statement recorded under investigations for alleged sedition.
Now, in an unrelated development, he has been slapped with a writ of summons by a private nursing college, Masterskill (M) Sdn Bhd, over comments that appeared in a couple of newspapers and a blog which the college claimed had damaged its reputation. The Sungai Siput MP had earlier lodged a police report against the college.
Masterskill (M) Sdn Bhd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Masterskill Education Group Bhd, which last year (2010) made a group-level profit before tax of RM118m. But The Edge reports that CIMB Equities Research has downgraded Masterskill Education Group Bhd (MEGB) from Outperform to Neutral, reducing its target price and also slashing its earnings per share (EPS) forecast.
It said on Monday, Aug 29 Masterskill’s annualised 1H11 core net profit was a letdown, coming in at 43% below its forecast and 40% below consensus because of poor student numbers and a 10.8 percentage points shortfall in EBITDA margin due to surprisingly high operating costs.
“The 44% year-on-year plunge in net student intake was a negative surprise and should be equally weak in 2H. In the medium term, student intake prospects are unexciting and margins will be under pressure,” it said.
Some background info about Masterskill Education Group Bhd, gleaned from the firm’s 2010 Annual Report:
  • the Group CEO is Edmund Santhara (who along with his spouse are major shareholders);
  • the chairman of Masterskill University College of Health Sciences’ (Much) Governing Council is Mohamed Nazim Abdul Razak (brother of PM Najib Razak); and
  • the University Chancellor is Raja Azureen, daughter of the Sultan of Perak.
  • Major shareholders also include Masterskill Holding Ltd (direct stake of 22 per cent) and Sami Ali A Sindi (indirect stake of 24 per cent).
The lawsuit against Jeyakumar is the latest in a string of libel/defamation-type suits that have come to light in recent weeks.
Tajudin Ramli is suing Malaysian Insider, its editor, and young journalist Shazwan Mustafa Kamal for RM200m.
A Japanese multinational firm based in Malaysia has come to an out-of-court settlement over a lawsuit it brought against human rights lawyer Charles Hector regarding complaints made by 31 Burmese workers which he had highlighted on his blog. Hector will have to pay RM1 in costs and the same amount in damages to the company and publish a half-page apology in the Malaysian daily newspapers The Star and Nanyang Siang Pau. He is now trying to raise funds to cover the cost of those advertisements. See details on the Aliran website.
And the Shah Alam High Court has ruled in favour of Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek in a defamation suit against The Edge over an article entitled “Ascot given preference due to its experience, says MOF”. A court registrar will assess damages, though The Edge is expected to appeal. Awang Adek had claimed RM10m in a letter of demand.
In a report, The Edge said the article in question was based completely on a Ministry of Finance written reply to Parliament in July last year with no editorial opinion attached. But the article had erroneously attributed the written reply to Awang Adek, the deputy finance minister, instead of the Ministry. The Edge Communication had then promptly corrected the report on 9 July 2010 and issued a personal apology to Awang Adek as “a gesture of good faith”.
And Utusan is suing Teresa Kok over her comments that the daily had distorted her statements to the national media and in her own blog about the food served to her while being detained under the ISA in 2008. See Sun report here.