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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Time for reforms running out, Kit Siang warns Najib


Najib’s approval rating has taken a beating due to the Bersih crackdown and rising prices. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — DAP’s Lim Kit Siang reminded Datuk Seri Najib Razak today that the ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) mandate was nearing its expiry, and warned the prime minister to carry out his promised reforms soon or face voter backlash in the coming polls.


The BN still has some 19 months to go before its mandate ends in March 2013, but Najib, whose popularity dipped six points in a recent opinion poll, is widely expected to call for general elections by the end of this year to avoid the repercussions of a predicted gloomy global economy next year.

“Malaysians flew the national flag yesterday but most of them have a common disquieting question — Quo Vadis Malaysia?” the senior opposition leader asked. (The Latin phrase translates to ‘where are you going, Malaysia?’)

Lim noted that many of yesterday’s National Day messages from the ruling coalition’s component party leaders called for Malaysians of diverse racial and religious backgrounds to be more united, moderate and tolerant of each other, which the DAP stalwart claimed had fallen flat.

This, Lim said, was because of the present-day “divisive and discordant” national landscape, coupled with Najib’s inability to stamp his mark as a leader.

The Ipoh-Timur MP pointed to what he described as “irresponsible and reckless attempts to polarise the country along race and religious lines”, and gave as an example government broadcaster RTM’s recent show in the run-up to National Day that reportedly linked several DAP leaders and the chairman of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) to a Facebook group calling itself “Murtads in Malaysia & Singapore”.

“Lies have become the staple diet served by the mainstream media, whether the canard that DAP wants to create a Christian Malaysia and have a Christian prime minister or the falsehood that the PAS deputy president Mat Sabu glorified the communists and regarded Datuk Onn Jaafar and Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman as traitors,” Lim said in a statement today.

He said such efforts were not helping to unite Malaysia’s multiracial and multireligious people, but the opposite.

Lim stressed that if Najib was serious and sincere in being PM for all, he must “walk the talk to provide leadership or be exposed as a purveyor of empty slogans”, listing the numerous government and economic reform policies that have been rolled out, revised and delayed since the latter took office in April 2009.

“The successful Bersih rally of July 9 is proof that if Najib and those in power refuse to act, then ordinary Malaysians whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans,  Ibans or Orang Asli, whether  Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Taoists, Confucianists or Sikhs  are prepared to act in unison to save Malaysia,” Lim said.

A recent opinion poll by local research house Merdeka Center found over two-thirds of Malaysians agree with the demands mooted by electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 while close to half disagreed with the way Putrajaya handled the July 9 rally and the events leading up to it.

Bersih 2.0 has demanded that Putrajaya execute eight electoral reforms before the next general election and said it will step up its outreach programme for further support ahead of national polls.

CHRISTIAN CONVERTS FROM ISLAM FLEE FROM MUSLIMS IN NORWEGIAN ASYLUM CENTER…….

It isn’t a hard decision to make, the former Muslims are more than welcome to stay, the Muslims who are doing the attacking, kick them the hell out. KGS

NOTE: The Tundra Tabloids met in Israel a Christian convert from Islam, a Palestinian former Muslim, who was as fearful for his life as the person interviewed in this article. It’s a fact of life, you’re dead meat if you leave Islam.

H/T: Frank Kitman, translated by Trinity

NORWAY: “Christian converts from Islam flee in fear from muslims at asylum reception center”

Dagen.No: Muslims at the asylum center told him: “This is Jihad, holy war, and we are waiting for at fatwa (licence to kill) from the local imam at the mosque in Sandnes”

I had to escape and flee the asylum reception center in fear for my life, “Arsland” tells the news paper Dagen.

“Arsland” is from Afghanistan, converted to Christianity a while a go, and is now baptized as a Christian.
Arsland is friends with “Ali”, the Christian convert from islam who got attacked with boiling water and acid at the asylum reception a few days ago.The young Afghan man is afraid to show his face and real name to the reporters, because he knows the muslims are out to get a hold of him.

Hostile attitude:
- Another Christian friend of mine also noticed the hostile attitude of Muslims at the reception. “We must escape, for I fear that they will kill us,” he said.

So I rode off at 1:30 Sunday morning, and went to the Bird Park at Nærbø. There, I tried to sleep on a bench while it was raining, says “Arsland”. Sunday he was taken care of by Christian friends who live in that area.

Over the weekend, “Ali” moved to another asylum seeker reception because of the lack of security at Hå asylum reception center. while three other Christian converts from Afghanistan also fled Hå reception center, and is scattered in Jæren among Christian supporters.

Eyewitness:

“Arsland” was an eyewitness to some of the harassment and violence “Ali” was exposed to last tuesday
I heard screaming and went out of the room to see what happened. I witnessed that “Ali” fell on to the floor after it was being poured boiling water over him. Muslims from Somalia turned loose on him and they shouted · «This is jihad (holy war), says” Arsland “.

The involved muslims ran quickly to their rooms when “Arsland” showed up.Together with another Afghan “Arsland” lifted “Ali” carefully and carried him to his room.”Arsland” tried to warn police about what had happened, but without getting any response. A woman from the Lutheran Free Church was at the reception at the same time that this happened. She quickly called the police and they came after about half an hour. Later the ambulance arrived, and “Ali” was taken to hospital for treatment. He was back at the reception on Wednesday.

No response from the asylum centers management:

“Ali” has been bullied and harassed several times in the past before the terrible incident last week. “Asland” says that he went to the head of the reception center and told me about this, but nothing was done.

- I have even been threatened several times by the Muslims at the reception. But this was not taken seriously when I complained to the manager. “You must contact the police” was the reply I got from her, said, “Arsland”.

- How did you react to what happened with “Ali”?

- I was very scared. On Saturday night I went out of my room and met some Muslims. They were angry and said that no Muslim would allow “Ali” to live. At the same time they stressed that it was an “accident” what happened to him when he got thrown boiling water over him self… “But we are waiting for a fatwa (license to kill) from the Imam in Sandnes. “Ali” has destroyed our religion Islam, “they emphasized.

“Arsland” and his friend then realized that now their lives was also at risk, and therefore escaped the Hå asylum reception center.

- I will never go back to the reception center , he emphasizes.
- Do you regret that you accepted Jesus as your savior?
- No, not at all! I feel safe with Jesus, answered “Arsland”.

Press Release: Merdeka means maturity of rule of law and rights of humanity


ImageWe have just celebrated the 54th anniversary of Merdeka, and in a few days’ time we will celebrate the 48th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia.  Both events serve to remind us of the time we assumed responsibility for our own future and destiny.  We became a sovereign country, and took our rightful place amongst the family of nations.

Sovereignty, however, is not simply the right to do things our way.  As we live in a global village, sovereignty involves not just rights, but responsibilities.  In particular, it encompasses the responsibility to conduct our nation’s affairs in consonance with internationally-acceptable standards and norms.   As we play our role internationally as a sovereign nation, this nonetheless means playing by the rules of the comity of sovereign nations.

A sharp reminder of this was provided on 31 August 2011 by the High Court of Australia, which ruled in a 6-1 majority decision that the so-called “Arrangement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Malaysia on Transfer and Resettlement”, more commonly referred to as the “refugee swap deal”, was invalid.

Under this refugee swap arrangement, Australia was to transfer to Malaysia up to 800 irregular maritime arrivals, intercepted on the high seas by the Australian authorities, for processing of their refugee claims in Malaysia.  In return, Australia would accept 4,000 refugees already registered by the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (“UNHCR”) in Kuala Lumpur for resettlement in Australia.

In interpreting the provisions in the Australian Migration Act 1958 that authorised the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to remove asylum seekers to a third country to process their asylum claims, the High Court of Australia held the Minister could only do so if that country were legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to: “provide access for asylum seekers to effective procedures for assessing their need for protection; provide protection for asylum seekers pending determination of their refugee status; and provide protection for persons given refugee status pending their voluntary return to their country of origin or their resettlement in another country”.  In addition to these criteria, the Migration Act required that the country “meet certain human rights standards in providing that protection”.

The High Court of Australia found that Malaysia is not legally bound to provide the access and protections that the Migration Act required in order for Malaysia to be validly declared as a country to which asylum seekers could be sent for processing of their asylum claims.  Malaysia is not a party to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees (that just celebrated its 60th anniversary) or its 1967 Protocol.  The arrangement that the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Christopher Bowen, signed with our Minister for Home Affairs, Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, on 25 July 2011, expressly stated it was not to be legally binding.  Malaysia is not legally bound to, and does not, recognise the status of refugees in its domestic law.  Malaysia does not undertake any activities related to the reception, registration, documentation or status determination of asylum seekers and refugees.  Instead, it permits UNHCR to undertake those activities in Malaysia and allows asylum seekers to remain in Malaysia while it does so.

This non-law-based approach to protection of refugees and asylum seekers is immature, if not disturbing.  It is time (some would say overdue) for Malaysia to “grow up”, where respect for the rule of law and the right treatment of people (whether citizens or not) are concerned.  It is not enough that we celebrate one national birthday after another, patting ourselves on our backs, congratulating ourselves on how we have done well as a country and not rent ourselves asunder through racial and religious intolerance and civil unrest.  Merdeka must also mean maturing in our profession and practice of the rule of law and the protection and promotion of the rights of humanity.  In these respects it is clear that much more can, and needs, to be done.

As a start, Malaysia must, at the very least, enact municipal laws that recognise the status of refugees and that accord refugees and asylum seekers internationally-accepted minimum standards of protection.  The next stage would then be to accede to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol.

Ultimately Malaysia has to cease being a laggard when it comes to respect of human rights of both its citizens and non-citizens.  If not, other attempts at international cooperation may well suffer the same embarrassing fate.  It would be a great birthday present to ourselves if by this time next year we were to have passed the necessary implementing domestic legislation to accede to the numerous international human rights conventions to which we are yet a party.  Then we would indeed be able to stand tall, with our heads held high, in the community of sovereign nations.

Selamat Hari Merdeka, Selamat Hari Malaysia.    

Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar

Libyan teen says Gadhafi's troops forced her to execute rebels




(CNN) -- Nisreen lies listless curled under a blanket, an armed rebel guard at her door.
She looks vulnerable, and younger than her age - 19. She has soft features, a heart-shaped face, large brown eyes and full lips.

She speaks haltingly, often falling into a tortured silence, unable to verbalize her thoughts and emotions as haunting images of what she did play out like a curse in her mind.

"One of them had facial hair, like this." She gestures in the shape of a goatee around her mouth, recalling the face of one of the young men she shot dead.

Nisreen became an executioner for Moammar Gadhafi's forces. She admits she murdered 11 rebels, all prisoners of the Gadhafi regime. (CNN is not identifying Nisreen with her full name because of her experiences in Gadhafi's all-female brigade.)

"They brought one person in at a time and they said shoot him," she tells us, her voice quiet, her words chilling. "There was someone on either side of me and one behind and they said if you don't shoot we will shoot you."

She pauses, sliding back into that horrific moment.

"I would turn my head away and shoot. I saw the blood dripping, it just kept flowing."
She says she was told the rebels wanted to rape women and pillage the capital.

Nisreen was a member of the female unit of Gadhafi's popular militia. She says she was forcibly taken from her mother - who is battling cancer - by the head of the unit, a family friend. She says the two argued, about what she doesn't know. That was around a year ago.

She was trained to handle weapons and then kept by her commander at the headquarters of the 77th Brigade, right next to Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound. She and the hundreds of other women who made up her unit were kept isolated, cut off from their families.

Some of the women with her were ardent supporters of the regime. She says she wasn't, but she couldn't leave.

"My brother came and tried to get me out," she says, but he was threatened and told to leave.
When the uprising began in February, she says her female leader summoned her to see the 77th Brigade commander. He raped her.

"I screamed," she tells us. It made no difference. She was summoned twice again and raped by two other commanders. Her leader told her she had to bear it.

She says all the women in her unit were raped, but they were forbidden to speak about it.

As the rebels closed in on Tripoli, she and two other young women were assigned to the Bousalim neighborhood, where some of the heaviest fighting was taking place. It was there that she was forced to be an executioner.

"They were all so young," she says of her victims before sliding into yet another heavy, burdened silence.
She escaped by jumping out of a second-story window as a firefight erupted behind her. She was captured by rebel fighters and brought to the hospital.

Although the rebels plan to put her on trial, many of them seem to pity her, as do the hospital staff.
One of her doctors, Nadia Benyounis, says she was speechless when she first heard about her case.
"When I saw her, I thought that she looked like a kid. Her face is so young, innocent, totally innocent," she says. "She lost her life."

"She was manipulated by Gadhafi forces, unfortunately. Gadhafi manipulated us all."
Benyounis says Nisreen was robbed of everything -- her dignity, her self-worth, her family -- and turned into a killer.

"She is silent all the time." Benyounis tells us. "I watch her closely, she tries to sleep all the time to escape from this reality."

But there is no escape.

Nisreen's mother is in Tunisia getting cancer treatment. Nisreen says they spoke on the phone and she told her everthing. "My mother was very upset," she says.

Her father doesn't know. The family fears he is too ill to bear the news.
Her eyes well with tears.

"All I want is to go home," she says. "I want my mother."

Australian court blocks Malaysia refugee swap

Lawyers argued that the swap was illegal because Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention [Reuters]

Australia's High Court has blocked the Federal Government's plan to send asylum-seekers to Malaysia as part of a refugee-swap deal, saying that the proposal was "invalid".

In a major blow to the government's plans to ship up to 800 asylum-seekers to the Asian country in exchange for resettling 4,000 of its refugees, the court extended an injunction on Wednesday on removing asylum-seekers to the country.

"Today the High Court held invalid the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship's declaration of Malaysia as a country to which asylum seekers who entered Australia at Christmas Island can be taken for processing of their asylum claims," the court said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the court granted a temporary injunction to civil rights lawyers acting on behalf of two asylum seekers who were scheduled to be among the first to be transferred to Malaysia.

The lawyers argued that the deportations would be illegal because Malaysia does not meet the human rights standards stipulated in Australian law, as it is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.

"This is about life or death matters and our clients are challenging the government's power to expel them to Malaysia where they fear they will not be protected and they are at real risk of harm," said David Manne from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre in Australia.

Manne said that Australian law requires that the refugees' claims be considered in Australia, not expulsion.
The government of Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, signed the Malaysian deal to deter human trafficking, and to fight perceptions that her government was soft on asylum seekers.

However, the deal came under increasing criticism after it was revealed that unaccompanied children who arrived by boat would not be exempt from transfer.

Commenting on the High Court's ruling, Marianne Dickie, an expert on migration law at the Australian National University, said: "It's a slap in the face for the Gillard government, it's a huge setback for the Malaysian solution. It effectively hobbles it [the policy], if not ending it."

Prior to the ruling, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, in a filing to the court, said Malaysia had made a "significant conceptual shift" in its treatment of asylum seekers and he deemed conditions there acceptable.- Al Jazeera

Iranian web users rank highest for visits to porn sites on Holy Day

By Michael Ireland
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS) -- Authorities say Iranian internet users chalked up more visits to pornographic sites than people from any other country on Ashura Day, a Shiite day of mourning.

Mohabat News, the Iranian Christian News Agency, citing a Radio Zamaneh report from the Fars news agency, reports that Ebrahim Bayani, a senior official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, told a meeting of IRGC commanders and administrators that the Revolutionary Guards Cyber Army has established that among internet users from 182 countries, Iranians made the highest number of visits to "immoral sites" on Ashura Day.

Bayani added that these "alarming statistics" and the use of satellites mean "we cannot expect the youth of the country to have any motivation to fast or go to mosque."

According to Wikipedia, The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram.

Wikipedia says it is commemorated by Shia Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (October 2, 680 CE).
According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Muhammad fasted on this day and asked other people to fast. Sunni Muslims also remember the day claiming that Moses fasted on that day to express gratitude to God for liberating the Israelites from Egypt.

Wikipedia states that in some Shia regions of Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Bahrain, the Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali has become a national holiday and most ethnic and religious communities participate in it. Even in predominantly Hindu country like India, Ashura (often called Moharram) is a public holiday.

Mohabat News says Iranian internet users are heavily restricted in their web access, barred from visiting several news sites and sites that the government deems "immoral."

However, Iranian web users can overcome state restrictions with special software designed to break through filters, the news agency said.

Mohabat News explained that Iranian Prosecutor Ghilamhossein Mohseni Ejei heads a committee that decides which websites should be blocked by the Islamic Republic government.
The committee is comprised of representatives from the ministries of education, communications, intelligence, technology and culture, as well as representatives from national broadcasting and security forces.

Bayani argued that "the enemies" use cultural means and "corrupt internet sites and satellite channels to separate the people from religion and deplete the regime from within."

He added that "strikes against religious values such as hijab [the Islamic dress code] modesty, philanthropy and hard work, as well as the promotion of loose behavior are among the aims of our enemies' satellite programming."


** Michael Ireland is Senior Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior Reporter

Tee Keat stands by 'Chinese marginalised' remarks

(Malaysiakini) Former MCA president Ong Tee Keat today confirmed telling US diplomats that ethnic Chinese in the country were marginalised but reiterated that he was merely conveying the sentiments of the minority community.

"It is worth reiterating that the comments purportedly made by me was largely my observation and assessment of the Chinese community's sentiment and perception pursuant to the statement of marginalisation by (Minister Mentor) Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore," he said.

NONELee (left) had in September 2006 told journalists at the sidelines of a World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting in Singapore that ethnic Chinese in both Malaysia and Indonesia were marginalised - a provocative statement that resonated with a significant segment of the Chinese populace across the causeway.

"Our neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful. They are hardworking and, therefore, they are systematically marginalised," Lee was quoted as saying.

US diplomats had then sought Ong's opinion on the comments, who remarked that the Chinese community in Malaysia were well aware that they were marginalised.

'Leftovers', 'crumbs' are metaphoric descriptions


In a statement to Malaysiakini today, Ong denied that his description of "leftovers" and "crumbs" referred to government projects, explaining that they were something that was expressed by the Chinese business community.

ong tee keat pandan mp supporters dinner 4"The metaphoric descriptions of 'leftovers' and 'crumbs' were the exact words I quoted from certain corporate personalities that were coincidentally shared by the petty traders in my own constituency over the issue in September 2006," he said.

His comments come after Malaysiakini reported a confidential cable between Washington and its embassy in Kuala Lumpur that was released by whistleblower site Wikileaks last week, detailing Ong's meeting with US embassy officials.

According to the cable, Ong was quoted as saying that "there was once a day in Malaysia when MCA would get the leftovers, but now we are just hoping to get some crumbs from the Umno table".

Ong was VP when he made the remarks

Standing by his statement to US diplomats, the Pandan MP conceded that he had kept his views private because he knew it would raise eyebrows within the MCA leadership.

"Throughout the conversation, the only view of mine expressed was the prior assessment of the Chinese support for BN/MCA in the 12th general election. I was not at all optimistic then.

"Unfortunately, what I described as 'plummeting Chinese support for the party' really came true as an enormous wave of political tsunami in the 2008 poll later."

In what appears to be a challenge to the current MCA president Chua Soi Lek, Ong said that it was up to MCA to decide if they share the sentiment of the Chinese community.

"As to whether MCA shares the (Chinese) community's perception of being marginalised or otherwise, the current party leadership should have the courage and wisdom to answer. After all, I have no role to play in it any more," he said.

Ong was a MCA vice-president when he made the remarks in 2006 and later went on to helm the party's presidency before being ousted by Chua in 2010.

54th Merdeka in the shadow of ethnic distrust

(Malaysiakini) As Malaysians mark the 54th anniversary of the country's independence, the usual pomp and pageantry comes at a time of increasingly tense ethnic and religious ties.

Malaysia prides itself on its thriving multicultural society and the freedom of religion against the backdrop of a majority-Muslim population, but racial tensions have always simmered under the surface.

A survey conducted by independent polling group Merdeka Centre this year revealed that the number of Malaysians who felt that ethnic relations were good had dropped to 66 percent from 78 percent five years ago.

The poll also showed a particularly high level of distrust among Malaysians of different ethnic backgrounds.

"In our view, the survey findings reflect a significant shift in Malaysian public thinking - the optimism of the mid-2000s appears to have given way to increased insecurities and distrust, which is in part due to the current competitive political environment," the centre said this month after its survey results were announced.

Race and religion have always been sensitive issues, but interracial clashes in recent years have exacerbated the growing ethnic divide.

Last year, the Home Ministry appealed against a High Court decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word 'Allah', a ruling that had riled most Muslims.

Metro Tabernacle church after the firebombingThe case led to at least eight churches being attacked, including one in Kuala Lumpur city centre which was firebombed.

No casualties were reported in any of the attacks, but many observers noted that the incident brought to light the fragile and tense relationships within multi-religious Malaysia.

Despite Prime Minister Najib Razak's stated commitment to closing the racial divide since he took office in 2009, Malaysia's political, education and economic structures continue to be deeply entrenched along racial and religious lines.

The worrying level of ethnic tensions of late has been blamed largely on irresponsible politicians playing the race card.

'1Malaysia just lip service'


Government policies on almost every area - from education to economic and electoral reform - continue to be "articulated from an ethnic framework, rather than seeking to find commonalities," said Denison Jayasooria, a lead researcher in ethnic studies in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

"This articulation and the attempt to champion ethnic policies has had an impact on contemporary Malaysian society," Denison said.

A poll conducted by the Merdeka Centre in August also revealed that Najib's popularity has suffered, with his approval rating dropping 6 percentage points over a period of three months from May.

While the rising cost of living and continued concerns of a high crime rate were some of the major reasons for the drop, observers noted that Najib's handling of racial and religious issues in recent times may have also contributed to his lagging support.

NONEHis '1Malaysia' campaign, which aims to break down racial divisions and create a single, unifying Malaysian identity, has been criticised as hypocritical vote-grabbing after his ruling coalition suffered badly in the 2008 general elections.

"I don't believe in Najib's 1Malaysia. It's just lip service," said journalist Maria Hasan.

"The reality on the ground is that there is an increasingly wide racial divide," she said.

Denison said that while Najib had put in place positive reform policies, he continued to "remain silent" in addressing racially tinged statements coming from members of his ruling Umno.

But despite the grim outlook for ethnic and religious harmony, Denison said he remains hopeful that the growing number of moderate Malaysians would respond rationally to sensitive situations.

"In the long run, Malaysians will reject extremism of all kinds," he said. "The Malaysian spirit ... will draw us towards balance."

- dpa

‘Malaysia Solution’ illegal, says Australian court

Sri Lankan asylum seekers threaten to go on a hunger strike at Cilegon harbour after being prevented from continuing towards Australia, October 16, 2009. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — The refugee swap deal between Australia and Malaysia was deemed illegal by Australia’s High Court today.


The hugely controversial arrangement has been popularly referred to as the “Malaysia Solution” in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran an Australian Associated Press report that quoted Chief Justice Robert French as saying that “the declaration made... was made without power and is invalid.”

The court barred asylum seekers held by Australia from being sent to Malaysia, a ruling that will likely derail the swap deal intending to send 800 boat people to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 already-processed refugees to Australia.

The move was put on hold earlier this month after Melbourne lawyer David Manne won a High Court injunction to prevent deportations pending a decision on the deal.

He argued that Australian-held asylum seekers had rights to refugee protection assessed in Australia, and that the High Court could review Bowen’s declaration that Malaysia was a suitable destination for offshore processing.

With Canberra agreeing to pick up the RM1 billion bill for the swap, the Gillard administration's popularity has sunk under pressure from opposition leaders and human rights activists in both Pacific nations.

But Australia’s Labor government insists the swap will stem human trafficking despite a Parliament motion condemning it due to concerns over Malaysia’s treatment of refugees.

There has also been concerns that a biometric system used in Malaysia to register migrants is “riddled with problems” and reports of scalps taking advantage of an ongoing amnesty programme for illegal immigrants have raised further questions over its ability to deal with incoming asylum-seekers.

According to the AAP, refugee lawyers asked the High Court to strike down the deal, arguing that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen did not have the power to send asylum seekers to a country that has no legal obligations to protect them.

They also argued that sending unaccompanied minors to Malaysia would breach the minister's duty of care as their legal guardian to act in their best interests.

But the Australia's Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler had argued the government could lawfully declare Malaysia a safe third country even though it had no domestic or international legal obligations to protect asylum seekers.

‘We’re not fighting together anymore’

To former soldier Ng Kim Boon, the renunciation of the traditional Warrior's Day ceremony to a field-style commemoration is liberty lost and comrades dishonoured.
FEATURE
KUALA LUMPUR: On the rainy morning of Aug 31, 1957 a troop of Victoria Institution cadets walked from their alma mater to the neighouring Merdeka Stadium where they assembled in proud straight lines.

In a few hours they would march in their newborn country’s first Independence Day parade with the freedom cries of their first prime minister reverberating overhead. And they would march with heads held high as the new sons and citizens of Malaysia.

Among them was 14-year-old Ng Kim Boon who would later rise to the ranks of Lieutenant Colonel in the country’s armed forces.

And like the rest of his teenage comrades on the field that day, he hadn’t the faintest idea of what it all meant.

“If you want me to say I felt sense of nationalism or freedom then I’m very sorry because it was just a parade to me,” Ng, 68, said bluntly.

“The whole concept of independence was too abstract and irrelevant to an adolescent who had his mind on more important things like exams.”

It wasn’t until a full decade later that he had his first brush with liberty.

He was a Captain in the army, the British were finally packing their bags and the Malaysians were stepping into their shoes.

Ng was dispatched to East Malaysia as part of the ‘handover-takeover’ team of the British camps.
As  both sides went over the inventory list, he was struck by the realisation that they were now on their own and they had better make good of it.

“You must understand that when I graduated from military college the British were still lording over us.
“Nothing had changed, there was no dramatic revolution like in other countries.

“The transition towards independence was so gradual that you hardly felt it,” he explained.

Renunciation of traditions

But once the feeling sank in, the Malaysian army was seized by a fierce determination to preserve and shield the new nation from the threats of the communist insurgency war and the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation.

During that time, ‘liberty’ meant ‘the pride of being able to protect one’s own country by oneself’.

Then came the racial riots of 1969; followed by the New Economic Policy (NEP) and gradually the face of ‘liberty’ took on a different expression.

Said Ng: “Politics, race and religion slowly permeated the army. The new batch of soldiers were being brought up to place on racial identification being above esprit de corps.

“Racial barriers didn’t exist in my days so much so that I could eat pork beside a Muslim soldier without any trouble.”

“We were Malaysian soldiers raised in a culture that drew no lines between us.
“But the traditions that made the army what it was have been broken and cast aside because they are (thought of as) foreign traditions.”

The most painful stab in this renunciation of traditions was on Warrior’s Day celebrations last month.
The army replaced the tradition of laying wreaths at the foot of the bronze sculpture in the National Monument with a commemoration in a field instead.

Liberty lost

For Ng this rewriting of tradition was sacriligeous.
“(The 12th Yang di-Pertuan Agong) Syed Sirajuddin (Jamalullail) deemed it unIslamic to pay respects to figurines.

“And with that we lost the army value of honouring our fallen comrades.

“The army has lost more than it gained since the British left.

“We lost traditions to religious beliefs which seemed to have suddenly sprung up.

“There is no pride in being a soldier any longer. So I opted for early retirement in 1990,” said Ng who is a fourth-generation Kelantanese Peranakan.

In his culture a patriach is called Pok Long. But Ng doesn’t see himself as the Pok Long of Malaysia.
To him the all-encompassing ‘liberty’ of before has shrunk to an insular definition.

“It (liberty) now just means the freedom to go about my daily life…

“The country is unable to bring back the liberty we once felt because we’re not fighting together for anything any more.

“Instead we fight each other over whose religion and whose politics are better,” he said simply.

World’s 7 billionth person about to be born

In all probability, the birth will take place in China or India, the two countries with more than a billion inhabitants.
FEATURE - FMT
By Christoph Sator

BERLIN: In the days ahead, a baby will be born who will take the global population above 7 billion for the first time, and in all probability that birth will take place in China or India, the two countries with more than a billion inhabitants.

No one is sure. There may already be 7 billion passengers on spaceship earth, as no statistician would be prepared to say exactly when this event of largely symbolic significance takes place.

The United Nations has fixed Oct 31 as the date of the fateful birth, but events have so often proved demographers wrong in the past that the expectation is that it will be sooner rather than later.

The rate of population growth has soared over the course of recorded history: When Jesus was born, there are thought to have been around 300 million people on earth.

The billion mark was reached only after 1800. As many as a billion have been added in the 11 years of the 21st century alone, and predictions on future population growth are now treated with the same caution and scepticism as long-range weather forecasts.

David Bloom of the Harvard School of Public Health says that the multitude of unpredictable factors means that taking a global view is problematic.

“Among them are infectious diseases, war, scientific progress, political change and our capacity for global cooperation,” he says.

High birth rates

The general expectation is, however, that population growth will tail off, with UN predictions for 2050 ranging from 8.0 to 10.5 billion.
What is clear is that the proportions will shift between the continents, driven by high birth rates in Asia and Africa. Soon India, with 1.2 billion currently, will take the lead from China, with 1.3 billion, as the world’s most populous nation.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country today with 162 million, will see its population increase to almost 750 million by the middle of the century.
Another example: highly industrialised Germany and developing Ethiopia each have a little more than 80 million people. In another 40 years, there will probably be 174 million Ethiopians, while
Germany’s population will decline to 72 million.
And the industrialised world is ageing rapidly.
This also means that relations of political power will change. Countries like China, India and Brazil, with its 193 million people, are already growing in political influence.
This has led European leaders, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to warn that “in a world of 7 billion people, we 500 million Europeans will have to stick together,” or European prosperity and
values will both go down the drain.
Struggle for resources

The sheer weight of numbers means increasing pressure on land, food and energy sources, and there are increasing fears of a struggle for resources. Many believe that there will be wars between
neighbouring countries over water.
The environmental organisation WWF estimates that three planets will be needed by 2050 if we do not change our habits.
“In the next 40 years we will have to produce the same amount of food as over the last 8,000 years,” the WWF’s Jason Clay believes. He notes that far too much is still thrown away in the industrialised world.
The optimists note that there have been repeated apocalyptic warnings of impending doom resulting from population growth, although they have not yet been realised.
In fact, technical and medical achievements have often led to a more positive outcome than that feared – not only as a result of the Pill and condom, but also through agricultural improvements.
And even the current population mark being passed takes on a new perspective when compared with the number of people the earth has played host to over the course of human history.
It is estimated that since Homo sapiens first appeared, there have been more than 100 billion of our kind – against which the current 7 billion should be set.
- dpa

A wish list of freedoms


By Marina Mahathir, The Star 

We still need the fundamental freedoms that every human being desires, especially freedom of speech and expression. Our foreparents understood 54 years ago that we had a fundamental right to freedom and self-determination.

FIRST of all, let me wish everyone Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Also, as the days happen to almost coincide this year, Selamat Hari Merdeka. In many ways, this is very significant.

Raya is the day we free ourselves from a month of abstinence and restraint. Ramadan is a time for reflection on what good we have, or have not, done over the past year. It is a time to ask for forgiveness for our past sins and mistakes, and hurt we may have caused others.

Sadly, this Ramadan has hardly been an exemplary one. With insults galore, shouting and screaming, burning and threats, it has hardly been one of restraint and reflection, at least on the part of public figures. Nor was there any sense of shame at these violations of the good and holy month.

Since Raya coincides with Merdeka this year, I thought I would write a list of freedoms we should give ourselves in these coming months, besides the freedom to now eat.

First, let us have Freedom from Imagined Slights. I am sick and tired of the people who have nothing better to do than scour the media for all sorts of insults, while at the same time feeling entitled to slight others.

Some people’s skin is stretched so thinly over their rounded bulks it’s a wonder it hasn’t ripped. Every little imagined offence calls for protests and demos, almost always outside mosques after Friday prayers. One wonders if God feels slighted at this trespassing on His property, which should be oases of calm and tranquility.

As a corollary to that, let us also have Freedom from One-Sided Prosecutions. For example, some people seem to insist on having the monopoly on being sensitive. Everyone else is assumed to have thick skin, so much so that it is now apparently OK to insult people to their faces.

Thus, action is taken only when they have been offended, but never when they offend others. One has to wonder what is so great about displaying such thin skin? Won’t you wither under the sun?

Let us also demand Freedom from the Forgetful Politician, that is, those who forgot who voted them in. First off are those who insist that we should be grateful that they are there to lead us. Talk about a circular argument!

Then there are those who, although usually insisting that Malaysians are a unique species of people, totally different from everyone else in the world, are then quick to equate those same Malaysians with the worst of foreigners, those who riot, loot and destroy property.

Makes you wonder how that gels with our tourism campaigns. Are we supposed to be nice hospitable people or rioters?

One great freedom that I really wish we would give ourselves is Freedom from Snoopers, especially those intent on sticking their noses into our private lives. If one wants to create a moral society, then let’s widen that definition to include ethics instead of just keeping it totally focused on our sex lives.

A moral society is not just one where everyone behaves well sexually, if such a thing even exists, but also where people feel a strong civic duty to uphold the law, not be corrupt, treat the poorest and most vulnerable well, and protect and preserve the environment.

Instead, we have increasing official “busybodiness” coupled with the encouragement of society to be bu­sybodies. Thus our young feel that they are constantly under suspicion of doing something bad, even when they are not. Does this stop all sorts of social ills? Of course not.

Indeed we should also demand Freedom from the Ostrich, the stick-their-heads-in-the-sand attitude that insists that some things just don’t exist in our country. On the one hand there are people who see a conspiracy under every pebble and on the other there are those who just refuse to connect the dots.

For example, young people don’t have to become pregnant outside marriage if we educate them and provide the services they need to make the best choices. Instead, we refuse to educate them and then blame them for having babies out of wedlock. Some even insist that the solution is to marry them off early.

That’s where we need Freedom from the Short-sighted, those who only think in terms of short-term solutions and not the harm that will come many years down the line.

At heart, however, we still need the fundamental freedoms that every human being desires, especially freedom of speech and expression. Without these, the Snoopers, Ostriches, Short-sighted and all these others will continue to thrive and make our lives miserable.

Our foreparents understood that we had a fundamental right to freedom and self-determination 54 years ago. Let’s not forget that the next time we vote.
Merdeka!

Rule of law or rule by law?


Whether these people can or cannot leave Islam is a matter for the Muslims to resolve. This has nothing to do with the church and the church cannot be subjected to Islamic laws. As far as the church is concerned, these people are no longer Muslims. But if there is no such thing as ‘ex-Muslims’, then a law needs to be passed stating so. Then the confusion will be cleared up. Then the church would be barred from preaching to anyone born a Muslim since the word ‘murtad’ would no longer be in the Muslim vocabulary.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia has tens of thousands of lawyers. But how many lawyers actually ‘practise law’ or are most in this only for the money? Seldom do we hear lawyers speak out on what is right and what is wrong. It should be the job of lawyers to educate Malaysians as to what the law is all about. Only then can it be said that they are true to their profession.
Laws are man-made. Sometimes we say that these are God’s laws or this is what God ordained. Invariably, all laws are made by man but blamed on God. Why are the lawyers not telling us this?
Just because it is law does not make it right. Are we talking about rule of law or rule by law? “What’s the difference?” you may ask. A lot of difference! And it is the duty of lawyers to educate us on the difference between the rule of law and rule by law. 
Queen Elizabeth I ordered Parliament to appoint her as Governor of the Church. Since she was a woman, she could not be appointed as a proper head of the church like her father and brother before her -- which would tantamount to the position of the English Pope. So they made her the governor instead.
Then Elizabeth banned the practise and belief of the wafer as the body of Christ and wine as the blood of Christ. All the Catholic Bishops opposed this and they instigated the citizens to defy this new ‘heretic’ law.
The Bishops were all rounded up and imprisoned and replaced with Protestant Bishops. The Catholics were forced to go underground and to practise their faith in secret and behind closed doors. There were pockets of rebellion all over the Kingdom, even as far as Scotland where they deposed their Catholic Queen (later they chopped off her head as well).
Of course, this conflict between the Church and the Throne was not new. Even back in the days of Henry II, 400 years earlier, there was already a conflict and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was assassinated because of his conflict with the King over the rights and privileges of the Church.
So, was Elizabeth right? Of course, she had the power. But just because she had power and just because a law had been passed does this make it right? Who was Elizabeth to decide that this is what God ordained? Did God speak to her? Or was this merely a political move?
You see: England, then, was only South England. From York onwards, this was Catholic country. So, by getting rid of the Catholic faith, this meant England could unite and Scotland, if it turned Protestant, would become part of English territory.
Scotland was also aligned to France. And France was Catholic and the age-old enemy of England. So, by ‘occupying’ Protestant Scotland, this meant that the danger of a French invasion (through Scotland) would be eliminated. 
So there you have it. It was not about what God wanted. It was about what Elizabeth wanted. And Elizabeth wanted Scotland under her control. And she wanted the French Catholic Queen kicked out of Scotland. And she wanted the French army kicked out of Scotland. If not, her throne would be in jeopardy of a ‘Catholic’ invasion with a new Catholic Queen from Scotland installed onto the throne.
In short, Elizabeth had to control and dictate what is and is not acceptable religious beliefs and practises to be able to control England and get rid of the Scottish-French threat to her throne.
Elizabeth used religion to hold on to power. 
Today, we celebrate Merdeka. But how are we celebrating Merdeka? By raising the flag? By sleeping at home? Merdeka should be celebrated by respecting the ‘Merdeka Agreement’, which is basically the Federal Constitution.
How can we say we are remembering or honouring Merdeka when we do not respect the Constitution? The Constitution was the foundation of Merdeka. Without the Constitution there is no foundation and therefore no Merdeka.
This, the lawyers should tell the people far and wide, the length and breadth of Malaysia. The basis of our laws is the Constitution. However, many of our laws violate the Constitution.
Many things ail Malaysia. But I want to talk about only one ailment today. And this ailment, the latest in a series of ailments, is the conflict between Church and State brought on by the DUMC raid and the allegations made against the Church.
The DUMC raid was not the only conflict between Church and State. Earlier, we had the Allah issue, the Bahasa Malaysia Bible issue, and so on. It appears that all along the way the Church is in conflict with the State.
But has this not been so for more than 1,000 years? The Church has always had its differences with the State (or more like the State resented the power the Church had over the people and thus started the ‘turf war’ between the State and the Church).
Anyway, Article 3 and Article 11 of the Constitution are very clear (by right, lawyers ought to be talking to you about this, not me). Let us consider what it says.
Islam is the religion of the Federation. No dispute.
Other religions may be practised in peace and harmony. No dispute.
The Ruler is the Head of the religion of Islam in his State. No dispute.
Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs. No dispute.
Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it. No Dispute.
There should be no propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam. No dispute.
So, where is the dispute then?
Let’s look at “Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs”. What does this mean? If the Christians want to publish a Bahasa Malaysia Bible, would this be under the clause of “manage its own religious affairs”? Can the government then dictate what language the Bible can and cannot be published?
Let’s look at “Christianity cannot be propagated to persons professing the religion of Islam”. But what if that person has announced that he or she has left Islam?
Now, you may say that once a person is born to Muslim parents then he or she is automatically a Muslim and a Muslim is a Muslim for life and cannot leave Islam. But that is between the Muslim and his ‘Church’. Once a Muslim renounces Islam (murtad), he or she is an apostate. Technically, he or she is no longer a Muslim. 
The State may say that he or she is still a Muslim. That’s according to the government. But in the ‘eyes’ of God, he or she is no longer a Muslim. He or she has become a murtad.
So, where is the crime here?
Actually, the issue is not that complicated. It is just that the lawyers would rather not get involved in this issue because it is very sensitive and Malays are a very emotional people who would run amok if they think that they cannot win by words and need to resort to violence to win an argument.
A true lawyer would educate us. Most lawyers, however, would remain silent and allow the ignorance to continue. And this ignorance has caused a lot of confusion.
In short: Christians cannot preach to Muslims. That is the law. But if that person has left Islam, technically, he or she is no longer a Muslim but an ex-Muslim. So, it is not against the law to preach Christianity to these people (who are technically not Muslims any more).
Whether these people can or cannot leave Islam is a matter for the Muslims to resolve. This has nothing to do with the church and the church cannot be subjected to Islamic laws. As far as the church is concerned, these people are no longer Muslims. But if there is no such thing as ‘ex-Muslims’, then a law needs to be passed stating so. Then the confusion will be cleared up. Then the church would be barred from preaching to anyone born a Muslim since the word ‘murtad’ would no longer exist in the Muslim vocabulary.
However, as it stands now, the word ‘murtad’ does exist. And this means Islam recognises the existence of 'ex-Muslims'.
So, where do we go from here? And why are the lawyers not speaking up?
***************************************
Article 3 
    1. Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.
    2. In every State other than States not having a Ruler the position of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the Constitution, all rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observance or ceremonies with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed that they should extend to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his capacity of Head of the religion of Islam authorize the Yang di-pertuan Agong to represent him. 
    3. The Constitution of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak shall each make provision for conferring on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be Head of the religion of Islam in that State.
    4. Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.
    5. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be the Head of the religion of Islam in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan; and for this purpose Parliament may by law make provisions for regulating Islamic religious affairs and for constituting a Council to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in matters relating to the religion of Islam.
Article 11
    1. Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.
    2. No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purposes of a religion other than his own.
    3. Every religious group has the right -
        (a) to manage its own religious affairs;
        (b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and
        (c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law.
    4. State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.
    5. This Article does not authorize any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality.

Dato Seri Wan Azizah: Raya Semakin Mahal, Rakyat Perlu Pembelaan

KUALA LUMPUR 31 OGOS : Presiden Parti Keadilan Rakyat Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail mahu keadilan terbela bagi rakyat yang terpaksa menghadapi kesan kenaikan harga barang dalam kegembiraan menyambut perayaan Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Oleh itu, beliau turut mencadangkan agar Kerajaan Persekutuan memperketat dan memantau  mekanisma kawalselia harga agar keperluan rakyat dan peniaga dapat dijaga.

"Kekangan dan bebanan sara hidup yang semakin meninggi akibat tatakelola dan perancangan yang tidak dilandasi semangat kerakyatan dan kesederhanaan. Rakyat terus dibebani dengan kenaikkan harga barang yang tidak terkawal terutamanya barang keperluan raya," katanya dalam satu Perutusan Khas sempena Hari Raya hari ini.

Dalam menyambut bulan Syawal, Wan Azizah turut mengajak rakyat Malaysia khususnya yang beragama Islam meneladani pengajaran pembersihan jiwa sepanjang ramadan dengan terus berjuang demi keadilan , kebenaran dan perpaduan sejati.

Dalam perutusan Hari Raya beliau, Wan Azizah mahu kemenangan yang disambut dalam bulan Syawal hasil daripada pentarbiyahan dalam menjalani latihan dan disiplin sepanjang Ramadhan memberi semangat kepada setiap umat Islam.

"Ramadhan adalah bulan dan masa yang amat sesuai untuk kita semua meningkatkan ilmu, keimanan dan ketaqwaan kepada Allah S.W.T. Kita sedar bahawa bulan ramadhan ini juga adalah tempat para pejuang yang mahu menegakkan keadilan dalam menghadapi pelbagai ujian, cabaran dan fitnah dunia yang mencengkam kebebasan dan kemerdekaan rakyat," kata beliau dalam satu kenyataan hari ini.

Selain itu, Wan Azizah mahu ahli PKR terus komited dalam perjuangan parti itu dalam memastikan negara ini bebas dari cengkaman dan fitnah yang membelenggu kehidupan rakyat dan seterusnya memartabatkan keadilan sejati.

"KEADILAN menyeru agar kita tidak terus berpeluk tubuh dan membiarkan kemarakan fitnah ini membinasakan kebenaran,keadilan dan perpaduan ummah. Marilah kita terus bersama menghindarkan diri daripada bersubahat dengan fitnah," kata beliau.

"Oleh itu kita perlu begandingan dalam membina keyakinan untuk terus meneladani kebabasan dan keadilan sejati," tambahnya lagi.

Najib Asks People Not To Forget Sacrifices Of Past Leaders

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today reminded the people not to forget the sacrifices of past leaders in freeing Malaysia from the colonialists.

He said that while Muslims were celebrating Aidilfitri, which entered its second day today, they should never forget the achievements of leaders who won the nation its independence.

"In the joy of Aidilfitri, I hope we do not forget the struggles of our forefathers in fighting for the country's independence. Happy 54th Merdeka Day," he said in a Twitter feed.

This year's National Day, carrying the slogan "1Malaysia: Successful Transformation, Prosperous People", is slightly different in that it will be celebrated simultaneously with Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

Yesterday, at the Aidilfitri open house of the prime minister and cabinet ministers at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya, Najib cut a cake in a symbolic gesture to mark National Day.