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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bomb alerts force PIA jets to land in Turkey, M’sia

Pakistani passenger jet with 187 people on board landed in Kuala Lumpur at 9:24 pm yesterday following a bomb alert, but a search of the aircraft found no explosive devices on board.

ISTANBUL: Bomb alerts forced two Pakistan International Airlines planes Wednesday to land at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport and in Kuala Lumpur, but no bombs were found, officials and news agency reports said.

Security officials in Istanbul with sniffer dogs searched the Boeing 777-300EA, which had 378 passengers on board, as well as passengers’ luggage for three hours, Anatolia news agency said.

No explosives were found and the bomb threat was declared a hoax, CNN-Turk and NTV news channels reported, quoting airport authorities.

The plane had departed from Lahore in Pakistan bound for the British city of Manchester, when it was diverted to Istanbul, a spokesman at Manchester airport told AFP.

The bomb alert, which came as the aircraft was flying over the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, caused panic among passengers, Anatolia news agency said.

After landing in Istanbul around 1400 GMT, the passengers were evacuated from the aircraft, which was moved to a security zone.

In Malaysia, a Pakistani passenger jet with 187 people on board landed in Kuala Lumpur at 9:24 pm following a bomb alert, but a search of the aircraft found no explosive devices on board, officials later said.

The scheduled flight from the Pakistani city of Lahore to the Malaysian capital landed after the bomb threat was received while it was in mid-air.

“According to our people on the ground, the plane has been searched and they have not found any bomb, it appears to be a hoax,” Pakistan High Commission official Hamid Raza Khan told AFP.

Airport authorities confirmed that police completed a search of the plane’s cabin and cargo hold and “declared the aircraft to be cleared of any explosive materials”.

“The checked-in luggage have been offloaded from the cargo compartment and screening of the luggage will be performed by the Bomb Disposal Unit and the K-nine Unit,” the airport said in a statement.

Bomb warning

Airport officials said they had received information from PIA officials of “an aircraft bomb warning” for Flight PK898 from Lahore to Kuala Lumpur at 8:45 pm.

“The flight PK898 safely landed at 9:24 pm. The airline confirmed a total of 164 passengers, three cockpit crew and 10 cabin crew on board,” the airport said.

The airport said all the passengers had left the plane and were being held at a secure lounge while they were screened.

A senior PIA official confirmed the two bomb threats.

“We received emails about the presence of bombs on two PIA flights,” the official told AFP.
“Since the flights had taken off already, the pilots were directed to land at the nearest airport.”

“One flight bound for Manchester landed in Istanbul and the second flight touched down at Kuala Lumpur,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Give back school’s land, MIC told

Party branch chief revives controversy about alleged land grab in Bandar Utama.

KLANG: A local MIC leader today asked the party to return a piece of land that he said was originally alienated for a Tamil school.

V Thiagarajan, who heads the Taman Mujur MIC branch, said party president G Palanivel should “do the right thing” by ensuring that the Effingham Tamil School get back the three acres of prime land.

The school is located in Bandar Utama, Damansara. The accusation about the land grab first surfaced in 2009, with former students and residents of the area claiming that the developer of Bandar Utama had set aside six acres for the school in 1999.

They said the late K Sivalingam, an MIC leader and an executive councillor in the then BN-led state government, decided that only three acres should be given to the school and the rest to the party.

There was also an allegation of mismanagement of RM300,000 in developer contributions to the school. MIC was accused of trying to channel the money to its Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED) although the developer disagreed.

MIC has claimed that there was an error in the description of the proprietor in the land title and that the party is the rightful owner of the three acres.

Currently, the school has 600 pupils, but the number is expected to increase steadily.
Thiagarajan told FMT he had “solid evidence” that all six acres belonged to the school.

“I plead with Palanivel to use his veto power to give back the land to the school,” he said.
“I have all the evidence to show clearly that the land MIC claims as its own should be part of school.”

‘Islamicism’ Canada’s Biggest Threat: PM

Canada, terrorism, Islamicism
"If you are talking about terrorism it is Islamicism," Harper said

CAIRO – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes that “Islamic militancy” poses the biggest threat to Canada.

"There are a number of threats on a number of levels, but if you are talking about terrorism it is Islamicism," Harper said in an interview with the CBC, to be broadcast on Thursday, September 8.

"That is the one that occupies the security [establishment] most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats."

The interview comes as the United States marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Harper said that Canada is safer now than it was during the 9/11 attacks.

However, he said, "the major threat is still Islamicism."

"When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of some place in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world."

Harper said the threat of terrorism is diffused across the globe, citing a recent attack on a UN headquarters in Nigeria.

And in Canada, "homegrown [Islamic] terrorism is something we keep an eye on."
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.

A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.

Terror Laws

The Canadian premier also hinted that his government would re-introduce anti-terror laws that were scrapped four years ago.

"We think those measures are necessary,” Harper told CBC.
“We think they've been useful.

‘And as you know … they're applied rarely, but there are times where they're needed."

Following the 9/11 attacks, the Canadian parliament passed tough laws to fight terrorism.

Under one provisions of the laws, police had the power to arrest suspects without a warrant and detain them for three days without charges.

Another provision allowed a judge to compel a witness to testify in secret about past associations or perhaps pending acts under penalty of going to jail if the witness didn't comply.

In October 2006, a parliamentary committee recommended extending the two provisions after their expiry.

In 2007, opposition parties rejected a proposal by the Conservatives to keep the measures in place for three more years.

The rest of the legislation remained in force.
When asked if he would try to bring those laws back, Harper replied: "That is our plan."

Mydin to leverage Kedai Rakyat to keep own prices low

Ameer Ali said suppliers also stood to gain from higher order volumes. — Picture by Jack Ooi
SUBANG JAYA, Sept 8 — Local wholesale and retail giant Mydin expects additional orders of generic items for its Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia operations to push down prices of the company’s own store brand products, which are sourced from the same suppliers.

Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin said that while the government-backed mini market was part of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), there was also a profit motive behind its offer to set up and run Kedai Rakyat.

“In the long term, the supply chain of this is very profitable because the more chocolate drinks I order, the more the supplier becomes subservient to me,” he told The Malaysian Insider in an interview.
“And he has to give cheaper to Mydin, correct or not? So, indirectly, there is a hidden benefit to Mydin because of that massive supply.”

Savings from lower procurement costs will be passed to customers, who will be able to enjoy cheaper goods at Mydin stores, he said.

But Ameer Ali pointed out that suppliers also stood to gain from higher order volumes, especially since many of the companies involved in processing and packing generic products were small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in need of custom.

Calling it another “hidden benefit”, he said this would help SMEs develop their business as well as allow them a “rare opportunity” to promote their goods on a wider platform than would otherwise be possible.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the first of many Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia at the Kelana Jaya LRT station in June. There are now three such shops in the Klang Valley with 22 more in the pipeline.

The 2,000 sq ft shop offers 250 generic products like rice, oil, flour, bread, eggs, milk powder and diapers at prices 30 to 40 per cent lower than market rates as well as Mydin products and branded goods.
Najib said more Kedai Rakyat will be set up in other locations similar to the 1 Malaysia clinics his administration has established in states like Sabah and Sarawak.

Ameer Ali also said Mydin’s long-term goal was to increase the proportion of Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia brand items from some 25 per cent now to “almost everything” in future.

He said, however, that this would only happen once a sufficient number of outlets have been opened as suppliers were not going to produce goods in small batches.

“The factories are not going to produce 20 cans of sardines... As more and more outlets open, then you’ll be able to have more and more (generic) brands out there,” he said.

Mydin will not limit itself to LRT stations, which were not designed for commercial purposes, when considering future locations for Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia, Ameer Ali added.

Umno leaders must stop this madness

Umno did not fight a war to gain independence. It just ran the final fourth lap.
Utusan Malaysia’s suggested description of PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu or Mat Sabu as an Islamic communist will add a new twist to Umno’s political lexicon – one can be godless and Muslim at the same time.

Only Utusan and Umno are capable of doing that and it does not matter how imbecilic and mundane it sounds.

Umno’s godsend issue now is the communism of Mat Sabu. But where is the political premium for Umno in debating this issue?

There is no mileage in Umno escalating the issue of Mat Sabu extolling communism.

If pursued further, in the end, Umno will be exposed for what it truly is – a racist non-inclusive Malay political party.

Umno leaders must stop this madness. Don’t sacrifice potential long-term gains for the allure of short-term gains.

The short-term gain is winning the argument against Mat Sabu. The long-term gain is to ensure Umno retains its image as a voice of moderation and reasonableness.

Isolating Mat Sabu

And how do we do this? The strategy is to isolate Mat Sabu.

What Mat Sabu said has nothing to do with communism. The godless creed remains Islam’s eternal enemy.

Umno foot soldiers will find it increasingly difficult to defend its fictional creation.

PAS leadership will stand behind Mat Sabu, insisting that what he meant was historical injustice done to one Mat Indera.

Umno can simply demolish this allegation of historical injustice. The Umno-led Johor government had in fact honoured Mat Indera by listing him as one of the influential Johoreans who had contributed to the state.

The Johor government has done substantially more to the memory of Mat Indera than Mat Sabu’s rhetorical stunt in his speech.

And the issue should have stopped at just that. Nail Mat Sabu for his stupid stunt.
But we will let Umno drown in its stupidity if it chooses to escalate Mat Sabu’s communism to a racial issue.

It will be an exercise in futility and counterproductive to the reinvention of Umno’s image as a party of moderation and reasonableness.

Umno did not fight a war

What this furore has done is to heighten awareness of who Mat Indera was and what he did.
The danger however is this – the reassessment of Mat Indera’s position in the history of Malaya.

This will force people to also reassess Umno’s own legitimacy in determining history and their historical appreciation of politics in the country as well as the role that Umno played.

Umno didn’t take up arms to secure independence. Other people laid down their lives for independence.
What Umno did was run the final fourth lap, whereas the previous three freedom fighters were executed by others.

What the hawkish and right-wing elements in Umno have done is to claim absolute credit. Umno’s credit doesn’t rest on running the last lap.

Its credit rests on its image as the voice of moderation and reasonableness, both of which have enabled Umno to become the unifying force for all races in Malaysia.

This excerpt is from the writer’s blog sakmongkolak47. The writer is a FMT columnist.

Not right to detain teens under EO, says Suhakam

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The young, especially those who are in their teens, should be put on trial if they have committed a crime and not be detained under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance (EO).

Suhakam commissioner Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah said there were 30 youths, aged between 16 and 21, detained for various offences at the Rehabilitation Centre in Machang, Kelantan, when the commission visited on April 13.

He said the use of preventive detention on children contravened the Child Act, which defines children as those under 18, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines them as persons up to the age of 18.

“The EO should not be used on children. They must be charged in court or they must be released,” said Sha'ani, who reiterated Suhakam's stand that detention without trial was a violation of human rights.

Of the 30, he said, five were suspected of stealing motorcycles, three of breaking into a house/car, one of buying a stolen motorcycle, one of causing a death in a fight, and 20 of being involved in gang fights, robbery or armed/gang robbery.

He wrote to the Home Ministry, Inspector-General of Police, Welfare Department, Prison Commissioner-General and Attorney-General's Chambers about their findings but had yet to get a reply.

Asked whether the detainees had expressed any hope to the Suhakam commissioners and officers who interviewed them, he said 24 were keen on continuing their schooling either there or after their release, taking the PMR or SPM, or picking up some vocational/skills training.

“A few complained that there was limited reading materials,” he said.

Asked whether any had made representations to the Advisory Board for a review, Sha'ani replied: “None of the 30 we interviewed had legal representation at any stage.”

“What's the point in having the right to be told of the accusation against you, possibility of release through a habeas corpus petition or the right to make a representation if you don't know about them, the authorities don't tell you and you have no lawyer to advise you?”

Before 2005, several cases collapsed after trial judges threw out caution statements on grounds police may have coerced the confessions.

Sha'ani reckons the 2007 amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code abolishing cautioned statements could be why many suspects of motorcycle theft end up as EO detainees.

“The police can't rely on a confession any more.

“By using the EO, they circumvent the A-G's Chambers and the court,” he added.

In March, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which had been invited here last year by the Government, said the same in its report to the UN.

Pas Clarifies Stand On The Fight For Independence

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 (Bernama) -- PAS declared today that it rejected the communist ideology and struggle and said it did not deny Umno's role in fighting for the country's independence.

This statement by the party's secretary-general, Datuk Mustafa Ali, was in direct contrast to the statement attributed to deputy president Mohamad Sabu recently.

Mohamad had allegedly praised communist terrorists and discredited the country's security forces when commenting on the former's killing of 25 policemen and their families in the tragedy at the Bukit Kepong police station near Muar in Johor in 1950.

Mustafa told a news conference at the party headquarters here that the struggle for independence was fought in two ways -- through "confrontation and peaceful cooperation".

He explained that the confrontation against the British colonialists began way back during the time of Malay warriors such as Datuk Maharajalela (in Perak), Datuk Bahaman (Pahang), Dol Said (Melaka and Negeri Sembilan), Tok Janggut (Kelantan) and many others.

Mustafa said today's statement reflected the official stand of PAS after the party had looked at the statement attributed to Mohamad.

Mohamad, who was present at the news conference, said Tunku Abdul Rahman and Onn Jaafar were rightly freedom fighters, but added that other freedom fighters should also be grouped with them.

Mohamad also said that the police had asked him to give a statement two days ago over his speech made in Tasek Gelugor, Penang, on the matter.

More than 500 police reports had been made in the country by various quarters in protest against Mohamad's statement allegedly hailing communist terrorists as national heroes.

Terror strikes Delhi again, 11 dead in HC blast

New Delhi: The national capital was once again the target of a terror strike when a high intensity bomb blast outside the Delhi High Court on Wednesday killed 11 people and injured 76 others. The bomb, reportedly a combination of ammonium nitrate and pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) and planted by terror group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in a suitcase, exploded at 10:14 AM outside Delhi High Court's Gate No. 5 where more that 100 litigants had gathered for passes to enter the court's premises. 

What made planting of the bomb in one of the most high security area an easy job was the fact that there were no CCTV cameras installed at the gate. Even the metal detectors and scanners were not functioning making the task of checking and frisking hundreds of litigants, lawyers and visitors a tough job for the security personnel.

Unlike most of the recent bomb blasts, the terror strike at the High Court was carried out in the morning and the day was also carefully chosen as Wednesday is one of the heaviest days of court business because it is the day when Public Interest Litigations (PILs) are filed.

Even though Home Minister P Chidamabarm said in the Lok Sabha that the terror group behind the dastardly attack has not been identified an e-mail sent from the id claimed that HuJI had carried out the blast in retaliation of Parliament attack Afzal Guru's death sentence.

The investigations into the blast will be carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). NIA chief SC Sinha announced that a team of 20 officials will investigate the case.

What is extremely worrying is the blast took place in a high security area with Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and India Gate in the vicinity and comes less than four months after an explosion took outside the same complex.

The injured were taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and Lok Nayak Jay Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital with some of them reportedly in a critical condition.

The Delhi government announced that Rs 4 lakh would be given as compensation for families who have lost adult members and Rs 1.5 lakh to families who have lost minors. The seriously injured will get Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 will be given to those who sustained minor injuries. Those permanently incapacitated in the blast will get Rs 2 lakh.

Wednesday's attack is the worst terror attack in the capital since the triple blasts on September 13, 2008 in which 25 people were killed. On September 13, 2008 serials blasts had rocked Karol Bagh, Connaught Place and Greater Kailash in the capital in which over 150 people were injured.

Helpline numbers: Safdarjung Hospital: 011-26707444
RML Hospital: 011-23348200, 23404446, 23743769, 23404478
AIIMS: 011-26588700

2 Killed and Many Injured in Muslim riots during Ganesh festival in Madhya Pradesh

A typical Ganesh Idol installment during Ganesh Chaturthi
A typical Ganesh Idol installment during Ganesh Chaturthi

Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh (CHAKRA) -  There were Hindu – Muslim riots on the issue of installation of Ganesh idol at Ujjain. Two persons were killed and many got injured during these riots. Curfew has been imposed in the jurisdiction of 9 police stations in the city.

The trouble began on Friday night in the Daulatgunj old town area of Ujjain after a Hindu shop-owner installed an idol of Ganesh at his store, which is adjacent to a mosque. Police said that some members of the Muslim community objected to it since the idol is un-Islamic and was near the Mosque where Muslims were praying. Although the idol was on the shopkeepers property, police urged the shopkeeper to shift the idol to another spot to calm the Muslim mob.

When discussions were going about place of installation, riots started. The Muslim group tried to move the idol and began to stone pelt Police and Hindus trying to install the Ganesh idol.

Two persons have been killed and many injured during the riots.

  The violent mob was caned and police opened tear gas shells to have control over them. The police, however, declared curfew when they failed to bring the situation under control. Additional police force has also been called from the neigbouring district to calm the Muslim extremist mob.

What has the Indian community come to?

September 7, 2011 From MK Periasamy, via e-mail, FMT LETTER
Having recently received a mass forwarded e-mail about an upcoming conference on the future of Indians, I was interested to see who had taken the initiative to organise this event. In any event, another conference is just BN’s and PR’s delaying tactics.

It seems to me that what needs to be done for the Indians is clear for all except the politicians and current Indian ‘champions’. The promoters in the case of this conference are P Sivakumar, Malaysian Indian Business Association president and Denison Jayasooria.
The Jokers: Sivakumar & Denison Jayasooria
On Sivakumar, I read with interest a letter from SA Kumaresan recently who correctly questioned the contributions of MIBA since it was setup by Sivakumar more than 10 years ago now.

MIBA has generated next to nothing for the Indian community apart from organising talk shop after talk shop, where like minded people get together and lament dishonest politicians and poor delivery but never ever themselves step up to do anything about it.

Sivakumar has managed MIBA the MIC way without holding proper elections and summarily dismissing people from his organising committee according to his will and fancies. It would be a surprise to many if this Johor Bahru organisation of not more than 25 people pretending to be a national organisation ever achieves anything.

He has excluded the SMC and other notable Indian NGOs from this forum, NGOs that actually contribute to the Indian community.

This clearly shows that Sivakumar’s only motivation is to scale the social ladder and become yet another empty vessel Indian ‘champion’, content to occupy centerstage but unwilling to sacrifice in order to achieve.

Sivakumar is joined by Denison Jayasooria, the one time protégé of S Samy Vellu. Over the last 10 years of Samy Vellu’s reign as MIC president, Denison was his brains trust and one-man think tank.

If anyone can recall any positive changes that were delivered to the Indian community over the last decade of Samy Vellu’s reign, many Indians would be interested to know what these are as we cannot recall any.

How Denison and the MIC foundation, YSS, that Denison led spent RM30 million are still things that have not been cleared up. One thing Denison did do, while under Samy’s watchful eye, was to organise conference after conference and conduct a lot of research that never ever amounted to actual improvement in the lives of Indians.

He regularly publishes books compiling the outcomes of the conferences he organises, books that are really not worth the paper they are printed on. The only reason he left Samy is because he was refused a seat and a deputy ministership when he personally approached Samy for this before the 12th General Election.

More recently, he was also removed from the Special Implementation Taskforce of the BN government because he wanted to replace minister Dr Subramaniamas as chairman of the said taskforce.

In order to shore up his relevance, and rather than take risks and be bold as people like S Ambiga have been, he has chosen to do research loudly i.e. to catch the public eye and therefore hope to maintain his dwindling relevance to the Indian community.

Furthermore, he and a group of has-beens regularly put out statements from a group called Proham on any issue of the day, content to comment but never to act.

If the initiative to chart the future of the Indian community is now left to people like Sivakumar and Denison and not with members of the Indian community that have actually achieved something real for themsleves and for the community, then we Indians are really in trouble.

The BN and PR will not honestly help us out, and if these two jokers are what we are left with, then we really have to wake up and take notice.

Dr Asri: Restriction of Islam could provoke apostasy

Dr Asri also said that religious authorities were using their power over Islam to hamper the development of the religion itself. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — Influential Muslim scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin today accused religious authorities of using a colonial system to restrict Islam, saying this could further provoke apostasy.

The former Perlis Mufti was responding to the Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) decision to charge PAS MP Khalid Samad over delivering an unauthorised sermon and for revoking Selangor PAS chief Dr Rani Osman’s religious credentials.

The outspoken leader came to the defence of the duo in a strongly-worded statement on his Facebook profile page this morning.

“... sympathies when there are MPs punished by Jais for giving sermons ... although there was no proof of errors in the sermon ... so hard to preach ... colonial system used to restrict own religion ... do not be surprised if more leave the faith,” he said.

He added that religious authorities were using their power over Islam to hamper the development of the religion itself.

“The ones unqualified to propagate religion are given the immunity that was not even accorded to the al-Khulafa al-Rasyidin at all,” he said.

According to Harakahdaily, Khalid was summoned to Jais yesterday where he was notified of a charge in relation to a sermon he had given in Klang during the recent fasting month.

The PAS party organ also said that Dr Rani, whose credentials expired during Ramadan, had his renewal application rejected.

“I received the credentials last year and applied to extend them but I received a letter from Jais informing me that my application has been rejected and my credentials revoked,” the Meru assemblyman said of the license which allows a Muslim scholar to give sermons without prior permission.

Khalid was charge under Section 119 of the Selangor Islamic Religious Administration Enactment for giving a sermon in a surau at Taman Seri Sementa, Kapar in Klang on August 16 without prior permission.

The Shah Alam MP will face trial on November 24 in the Klang Syariah court.

He told Harakahdaily that the sermon had touched on the role of Muslims in the religious affairs of the state.

“I gave a sermon saying Islamic justice is not just for Muslims but also for Jews or even those at odds with Islam itself. I was relating it to how we should hear both sides in the case of Jais’s investigations into the church,” he said, referring to the religious authorities probe into alleged proselytisation last month.

Jais had showed up at a dinner event at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya on August 3, claiming that it was acting on a complaint that Muslims were being converted by Christians at the time.

The church had denied the allegations and insisted that the 12 Muslims present that night were attending a thanksgiving dinner by a local NGO.

The contentious raid has escalated religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the country, with Malay newspapers highlighting allegations of Christians trying to convert Muslims through welfare work.

Najib sees no harm meeting with judges

The prime minister says he attended the conference at the invitation of the outgoing chief justice.

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said he saw no harm in attending a meeting with the country’s top judges as it did not breach the principle of separation of powers.

Some quarters have argued that his presence at the Council of Judges’ Conference was tantamount to tampering with the judiciary.

Several lawyers including former judges have said Najib’s visit to the Palace of Justice alongside the country’s top judiciary members, including the outgoing Chief Justice Zaki Azmi, could be perceived negatively.

Najib said his visit was at the invitation of Zaki.

“I had to think hard before I accepted the invitation,” he said in his speech before the judges.
“I only agreed to visit after the chief justice invited me and assured me that there was no problem,” he added.

Zaki said the meeting with Najib was merely to prove that the allocation of RM130 million in public funding to modernise the courts was well spent.

Najib agreed, saying that his visit to the Palace of Justice was to observe the changes made in the judiciary under Zaki’s helm.

Initially, the top agenda of the conference was to discuss the delays in submitting written judgments.
However, it was changed at the last minute to include a trip to the Palace of Justice to meet and take photo-shots with Najib.

No such meeting before?

However, critics, including former Bar Council president, K Ragunath, was quoted by an online news portal as saying that the meeting was the first of its kind in the country’s history.

But incoming Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, who was also present, told reporters that there had been two such meetings in the past where a prime minister had attended to have a dialogue with the judges.

Meanwhile, Najib praised the courts for speedily reducing the backlog of cases by up to 90% over the past two years under Zaki.

The new policy had supposedly resulted in three-quarters of the courtrooms now only dealing with cases filed in 2010 and 2011.

Najib claimed that a World Bank report released on Monday praised the judiciary for reducing the the backlog, saying it had achieved results “rarely reached”.

Why Indonesian maids shun M’sia

Poor policies, ill-treatment and official arrogance are among reasons why they avoid Malaysia as an employment destination, says Tenaganita.

PETALING JAYA: Indonesian maids are turning away from Malaysia as an employment destination because of poor treatment and official arrogance on matters concerning their welfare, said Tenaganita.

Its executive director, Irene Fernandez, said this in response to the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (PAPA) recent call to the government to look into why Indonesian maids were not coming into the country.

PAPA said maids were avoiding Malaysia despite amendments to the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed in May and designed to end a two-year moratorium on the recruitment of domestic workers from Indonesia.

Irene said that the Indonesian Embassy has stated that there was no such moratorium enforced in place and that Indonesian women “simply do not want to work as domestic workers in Malaysia”.

“The MoU signed three months ago with Indonesia does not protect the rights of the domestic workers to Malaysia. The Employment Act does not recognise them as workers but as servants. This non-recognition opens the gate to exploitation,” said Irene.

She added that the right to day/days off in a week was vague in the MoU and there were no means to account for what constitutes as overtime and how it will be documented.

“The Human Resources Ministry has yet to develop a standard contract for work. The current policy and the MoU do not protect rights of domestic workers and thus they find that Malaysia is no longer a safe place to seek employment,” said Irene.

Dangerous destination for Indon maids
Tenaganita, she said, had conducted a study recently on recruitment of maids from Indonesia and it revealed that families “did not want to send their daughters to Malaysia as their lives will be threatened”.

“Malaysia is seen as a dangerous place, especially for women and domestic workers. Recent media reports of maids being locked away for days with little food and some being severely abused or even found dead only reinforces this belief,” she added.

Irene also said Malaysia’s response to these issues smacked of arrogance as there has been “absolutely no soul searching” on the part of the government to solve these serious problems.

She slammed director general of labour, Sheikh Yahya Sheikh Mohamed, who was quoted in The Star, as saying that Malaysia was not “desperate” for Indonesian maids and could hire maids from other countries.

“His statement smacks of arrogance. What he is saying is that since we are ‘rich’, we can move anywhere to recruit maids,” said Irene.

The recent decision by the Australian High Court to block the refugee swap deal between Australia and Malaysia was a slap to Malaysia’s policies and should “awaken us to change”.

Malaysia she said was shamelessly sliding back into exploitation and slavery as other nations move towards developed sustainability.

“The government can no longer sustain this form of modern day slavery manifested in domestic labour.
“Employers must realise that they can no longer expect cheap labour, demand 18-hour work schedules and silence migrant workers with the support of the state.”

Indians vs Indians debate an insult, says Ramasamy

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II denounces upcoming forum and wants a showdown with Umno on issues plaguing the community

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy wants to debate with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and any other top Umno leaders on Indian issues in the country.

He does not want to be entrapped by Umno into debating with other Indian political leaders on the pressing issues facing the community.

“Why are Indians being pitted against Indians yet again to quarrel over Indian issues? The real culprit is Umno … we should debate with Umno,” he said.

Ramasamy was commenting on the open debate forum to be organised by the Malaysian Indian Business Association (MIBA) this Sunday.

The forum entitled: ‘Future of Malaysian Indians Towards the 13th General Election’ is scheduled to be held at Menara PKNS in Petaling Jaya.

It would see Indian leaders from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat facing off in an open debate on the future of Indians in the coming general election.

Ramasamy aside, MIC president G Palanivel, PPP president M Kayveas and Gerakan vice-president A Kohilan Pillay, Selangor exco Xavier Jayakumar have been invited for the forum.

Participants will be charged RM100 per person.

Ramasamy is not attending the forum due to pre-arranged programmes and because he has a ‘fundamental and principled disagreement’ about it.

“It’s an insult to organise an Indian versus Indian debate in the first place,” he said.

He even suggested that Umno could be behind the proposed debate merely to keep Indians busy quarreling with each other while Umno escaped scot free.

“I think MIBA should focus on helping Indian businesses instead,” he said, adding that he had never agreed to take part in the proposed debate.

Umno needs to be dismantled

He said the debate would be meaningless because MIC and other Indian leaders in BN were actually spineless and powerless.

He added that Umno’s Malay hegemony is solely to be blamed for the systematic marginalisation and backwardness of the Indian community for 50 over years.

“If I want to debate on the issue, I will debate with Najib or Umno leaders anywhere anytime, not with another Indian.

“If you want to liberate the country, you should dismantle Umno,” the state DAP deputy chief told a press conference in Komtar here today.

Ramasamy said he even wanted to debate with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but dropped the idea because “the old man has now become senile.”

“The existence of many unregistered Hindu temples and shrines, the dilapidated condition of Tamil schools and stateless status of thousands of Indians are products of Umno’s hegemony and racist agenda,” said Ramasamy.

Ramasamy is furious that he was not notified before hand to be included in the debate.
“I was not given an official invitation nor told about it. The organiser simply announced my name and called me to inform about it two days ago.

“It’s also ridiculous to charge people RM100,” he said.

The hill still belongs to BN

Cameron Highlands, with its high number of Orang Asli voters, continues to be a safe bet for the ruling coalition.

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Boasting the highest number of Orang Asli voters, Cameron Highlands continues to be a safe bet for Barisan Nasional.

The parliamentary seat has 25,000 voters – Malays at 32%, Chinese 34%, Orang Ali 20% and Indians 14%.
Speaking to FMT, a local MIC branch chairman said that winning over the Orang Asli voters is a major factor in Cameron Highlands.

The constituency has 89 villages comprising those from the Senoi, Temier, Jakun and Negrito tribes.
Some of these villages are deep in the forest and to reach them, one needs to travel by boat for more than two hours.

“There are almost 6,000 Orang Asli voters in the the parliamentary constituency who are considered as ‘fixed deposit’ for BN,” the branch chairman told FMT.

While it is difficult to gauge Chinese and Indian votes, he said that most of the Malays however are from Felda settlements.

“We all know that Felda settlements are Umno strongholds,” he added.

Who will contest?

Speculation has been rife that MIC president G Palanivel is eyeing the seat, but the MIC branch chairman believes that it would not be a wise move.

“As the party president and minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Palanivel should not ‘jump’ from Klang Valley,” he said on condition of anonymity.

He said that in the last general election, MIC only managed to retain three parliamentary seats, with Cameron Highlands being one of them.

This time around, MIC believes that it could win back the six seats which the party lost to the opposition in 2008.

“But to win back the support of the Indians and the six seats, there has to be a concerted effort from all its leaders. At this critical juncture, candidates who won in the last election must be rewarded not punished,” he said, referring to Cameron Highlands incumbent MP SK Devamany (photo).

The MIC vice-president defeated DAP candidate J Applasamy by a majority of 3,117 votes.

Contacted later, Devamany, who is a deputy minister, refused to comment on the speculation but vowed to continue to serving his constituents.

“I will continue to serve my constituents and MIC with more vigour,” he said.

Meanwhile, Applasamy admitted that it would be an uphill battle for Pakatan Rakyat to win the seat since the opposition was unable to “penetrate” the Felda settlements and Orang Asli voters.

“The veteran settlers remain loyal to BN because it looked after them from the time when they were landless peasants,” he said.

However, Applasamy said if the Malay votes were divided and if Pakatn increased Chinese and Indian votes, Pakatan stood a good chance of winning the seat.

Are we still on track?

The leader of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) also initially called for ISA to be abolished, and on December 1 said PPP would withdraw from BN unless if the ISA were not amended before the next election.  In response, Prime Minister Abdullah called PPP's bluff and said the small party, which holds no seats in Parliament, could leave BN if it wished. -- US Embassy, KL
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Ali Rustam: PPP can leave BN - now
(Malaysiakini, 20 Oct 2007) -- People’s Progressive Party (PPP) members are left reeling after receiving a political blow from Umno’s third most powerful leader during the Malacca PPP annual general assembly early this week.
At the assembly on Monday, Umno vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam delivered a scathing speech which chided the PPP for “threatening” Barisan Nasional for more seats to contest in the coming general election
He also repeatedly stressed that PPP could leave the BN fold if it was unhappy.
This left many party members in a daze at how Mohd Ali - who was the guest of honour as Malacca chief minister - could utter such remarks.
“He came to our house, seemingly with the intention to humiliate us,” said a PPP source who attended the event.
Eyewitnesses said a handful of party members stormed out of the venue in protest, but that did not deter Mohd Ali.
“PPP can leave BN,” said Mohd Ali.
He then pointed at the stunned delegates and added: “All of you can leave. Either today or tomorrow. Why wait until the general election? What’s there to wait for?”
Show of hands
Mohd Ali also claimed that the Umno supreme council was unhappy with PPP for accepting former Umno members as their members.
He even asked if any of the delegates formerly with Umno, MCA, Gerakan and MIC to put up their hands.
Mohd Ali also took a dig at Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob for suggesting that PPP should ask every state for a seat to contest in.
“That's his business. As far as I am concerned - no seat in Malacca (for PPP),” he added.
When Mohd Ali wrapped up his tirade and declared the assembly open, PPP delegates refused to applaud.
Eyewitnesses reported that PPP president M Kayveas maintained his composure throughout the hour-long speech and was seen vigorously taking down notes.
Funeral-like atmosphere
When contacted, Kayveas said delegates were “disappointed and dejected” by the “unwarranted and undiplomatic” remarks uttered by Mohd Ali.
Kayveas said delegates were expecting inspiring speeches from Mohd Ali in order to prepare the party for the upcoming general election.
“(Instead) the chief minister's speech made the entire assembly feel like a funeral. As the third highest ranking in Umno, the consequences of his speech worries me,” he said.
He added that some remarks which Mohd Ali made regarding other BN component parties and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were also uncalled for.
According to media sources, Mohd Ali had asked journalists to exclude the hard-hitting part of his speech in their reports. He claimed these were only meant for the delegates.
It is uncertain if Mohd Ali’s speech would lead to souring ties between PPP and Umno.
However, there is already talks within PPP rank-and-file that the party may silently boycott Umno programmes and functions.
PPP says it will leave BN if ISA is not amended
(The Malaysian Insider, 1 Dec 2008) -- The PPP, a minor party in the Barisan Nasional (BN), has threatened to pull out of the ruling coalition if the Internal Security Act (ISA) is not amended before the next general election.
It is the latest party to join the bandwagon calling for reforms to prevent the abuse of the legislature which allows detention without trial.
Party president Datuk M Kayveas said today: “I ask for amendments to the law so that it does not become a draconian law imposed on innocent citizens.”
While Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties PKR, DAP and Pas have always adopted an anti-ISA position, BN parties have always staunchly defended the law as necessary until recently.
Datuk Zaid Ibrahim resigned from the Cabinet recently in protest against the use of the ISA on a journalist, blogger and a senior Selangor PR government official.
There has even been growing calls from the MCA, the second biggest party in BN after Umno, urging for either reform or repeal of the ISA.
Speaking at his party’s youth and women’s wing congress today, Kayveas said BN should amend the ISA if it was serious about rebranding itself.
“BN has to make changes before the next general elections. It is suicidal if we do not plan.
“The problem with BN is its success. Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they cannot lose,” he said.
Kayveas added the March election results have shown that multi-racialism and good governance is what the voters are looking for.
“The solution has always been multi-racialism but we are caught in our own political racial configuration,” he said.
PM to PPP: Go if you want to
(The Star, 10 Dec 2008) -- PPP is free to quit the Barisan Nasional coalition if it wants to, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.
The government has no plans to amend the Internal Security Act (ISA), said Abdullah, also the coalition chairman, after a Barisan supreme council meeting here on Tuesday.
Recently, party president Datuk M. Kayveas said the PPP would pull out of Barisan Nasional if the ISA was not amended before the next general election.
He said PPP’s Youth and Wanita divisions wanted the ISA abolished, and he had to follow their proposals.
He also said Barisan had to make changes before the next general election, adding that “it would be suicidal if we did not.”
When asked whether this meant that PPP was free to leave the Barisan, Abdullah said: “If that is their choice, what can we do?”
Kayveas’ statement was slammed by many Barisan leaders, largely members of the largest component party Umno, who said it reflected badly on the coalition’s unity.
However, MCA central committee member Wong Nai Chee said his party supported PPP’s call to amend the ISA.
Don't push us, Gerakan Youth tells BN leaders
(Malaysiakini, 7 Sep 2011) -- Telling BN leaders not to “push Gerakan to the edge”, Ang said the party “will fight back with dignity”.
“We will not be a punching bag of Umno and we will no longer keep quiet when you shout. Gerakan is now 43 years old and we are old enough and experienced enough to decide our own destiny and direction that we do not need Umno or any other party to tell us where we should contest.
“We will decide where we should contest and we will let them know when (the) time is right,” said Ang in his tersely-worded statement.
Ang was responding to remarks by Umno supreme council member Mohd Ali Rustam that the state BN would field a "winnable candidate" from either Umno or MCA - instead of Gerakan - for the Bachang state constituency in the next general election.

The Bloody War for Southern Thailand

Soldiers accompany Buddhist monks in southern Thailand
Islamist separatists clash with Thai Army as Buddhists, Muslims die 

Each morning, Buddhist monks wrap themselves in saffron-colored robes and silently stroll, collecting alms in Thailand's three southern provinces while a phalanx of troops armed with assault rifles walk alongside, protecting them from Islamist assassins.

Buddhist and anti-separatist Muslim teachers suffer a similar deadly fate in the south, despite military escorts to and from campus, armed soldiers posted inside classrooms, and official permission for every teacher to carry a gun. In the grim struggle, which escalated in 2004, more than 4,700 people on all sides -- Buddhists and Muslims -- have been killed plus 9,000 injured.

On Sept. 6, suspected Islamist guerrillas shot dead a school teacher, poured gasoline on his body and set him on fire in Yala province, Police Lt. Col. Krisanapong Paetsith said after shocked villagers discovered the corpse in flames on the side of a road. The teacher had been executed with a bullet to the head. He had been riding his motorcycle, which lay abandoned nearby, after helping students in an academic contest.

The military has also set up fortified outposts along the graceful walls of Buddhist temples in the south to safeguard monks and worshippers amid shrines and statues of the Buddha, where troops also detain suspects for questioning. But often the military is thwarted, as on Aug. 23, when an improvised explosive device injured one monk, nine soldiers and three civilians in Pattani province, despite 15 soldiers escorting the monks and young novices returning to their temple, police said. The remote-controlled bomb was hidden in a five-kilogram cooking gas cylinder in an untended pushcart, which had been used to sell fried chicken. The same day, in neighboring Yala province, a bomb at a bridge killed two paramilitary rangers on a motorcycle.

Muslim guerrillas bomb, shoot, stab and behead government officials, teachers, moderate Muslims, rubber plantation workers, shopkeepers, restaurant owners, hoteliers, businessmen, Buddhist monks, worshippers and others to force an exodus of residents who oppose the Islamists' demands for autonomy or independence in the south. But on the other side, army and police in the mountainous jungle region unleash their assaults with mixed results, amid documented reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment and other human rights violations.

In July, a court ordered the army, defense ministry and police to pay US$175,000 to the family of a Muslim religious teacher who was killed in military custody while undergoing violent interrogation for two days in 2008. Yapa Koseng, 56, had been arrested for suspected links to the guerrillas, but the court ruled the imam was not involved with the insurgency.

Thailand's new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was elected on July 3, now faces a seemingly intractable war. The violence is mostly confined to the three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat where ethnic Malay-Thai Muslims comprise a 95 percent majority of the region's 1.7 million population along Thailand's border with Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Politicians and the military denounce the Islamist guerrillas as greedy and corrupt Muslims, allied to criminal gangs, who want to terrorize Buddhists and Muslims, seize their property, and create anarchy so they can smuggle drugs, weapons and other black market items.

"Those who subscribe to a true separatist ideology make up only 20 percent of the insurgents. The rest are drug traffickers and oil smugglers who stage insurgent violence," said Lt. Gen. Udomchai Thammasarorat, the army chief in charge of the military's assaults in the south. "Every time they deliver drugs, they will plant bombs to divert the authorities' attention," he said in August.

Independent analysts, however, say the Islamists want political, ideological and economic control over the region's profitable rubber plantations, coastal fishing industry and other natural resources, and to dominate the population under sharia law.

To avoid discovery, the guerrillas keep themselves hidden, do not identify any leader or spokesman, and do not claim credit for successful attacks except for occasionally scattering printed warnings about their vengeance.

Investigators link most attacks to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN-C), or National Revolutionary Front-Coordinate, which is rooted in the pan-Arab Islam of the 1960s. The BRN-C appears to use mosques and Muslim "pondok" schools to spread a fundamentalist Islamic doctrine, and operates a village-based cell structure to ensure confidentiality which has enabled it to become the Thai military's most difficult and deadly enemy.

Another group, the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO), was founded in 1968 but now has its main spokesman Kasturi Mahkota based in Sweden. Critics say PULO has no control over the south's new generation of increasingly hard-line Islamist guerrillas.

Rival groups have also staged attacks, but have grown weaker over the past two decades due to arrests, deaths, defections and splits. Graffiti and pamphlets by various Islamists herald the revival of an independent Pattani, which they describe as a prosperous Malay sultanate before it was invaded in 1786 by northern Buddhists.

In 1909, British colonialists arranged for the territory to be annexed by Bangkok, which curbed the Muslims from emphasizing their Malay dialect and history, and boosted the use of Thai language and a sanitized, nationalistic storyline. But the dream of a "liberated" Pattani has not disappeared. When an appeals court on July 27 upheld a life sentence for rebellion against an Islamist guerrilla, Rosdi Mayama, it said he was terrorizing southerners to create an independent Pattani nation. Prosecutors said Rosdi organized rebels to bomb targets and execute informants.

Some Malay-Thai insurgents fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and chaotic aftermath of the 1990s, while some Muslim clergy were influenced by a puritanical Salafi or Wahhabi theology, which dates back to Islam's earliest followers and remains inspirational in some Arab nations.

Other Malay-Thai rebels have loose links with guerrillas in neighboring Indonesia and the Philippines. But US and independent investigators have not found any major relationship with al Qaeda or other foreign-based jihadists, and describe Thailand's war as home-grown and localized mostly to the south.

The army insists its 60,000 troops in the south have whittled the rebels to less than 5,000 fighters, but the guerrillas seemingly attack at will -- often several times a week -- and usually escape.

Thailand's senior generals meanwhile are more often focused on the disastrous ramifications of their opportunistic 2006 coup and ensuring military promotions, lucrative procurement contracts, and legal immunity for their actions in the south and elsewhere, despite the war's urgency.

The U.S., however, has been warning of Bangkok's mistreatment of southern Muslims.

"Apart from a distinct regional identity based on the historical Kingdom of Pattani, the southern insurgency is fueled by a communal sense of grievance based on an overall lack of justice," the U.S. Embassy wrote in a March 20, 2009 confidential cable to Washington released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

"The police and judiciary have historically been part of the problem in the deep south," said the cable, signed by then-U.S. Ambassador Eric John. "Corrupt and abusive police units, coupled with a weak and opaque judicial system, have inflamed the long-standing animosity of majority Malay-Muslim population towards the central government. As these institutions have exacerbated the problems in the South, their reform is crucial to any RTG [Royal Thai government] effort end the violence," it said.

"We have a guidance in the embassy: 'No boots on the ground in the south.' That means no military people down there," said Randall D. Bennett, Senior Regional Security Officer at the American Embassy in Bangkok in a rare public description of U.S. government anti-terrorist activity in the south.

"If we go, we go down without profile. We go down from point A to point B. We don't wander around. It's kind of an invisible presence," Mr. Bennett said in a news conference last year.

When Thailand's military invited him to the southern war zone, "I went straight to Hat Yai, they flew me into the Yala base, and I met with the senior command, and we had a lot of good discussions about terrorism and ways that you can win people over," Mr. Bennett said.

"We have a program called the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, where we provide about 12 courses, every year, to royal Thai police and royal Thai government officials in a wide range of topics that typically are somehow anti-terrorism related."

That program is officially known as Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorist Training and includes "training in intelligence, VIP protection, canine operations, small arms, and similar subjects," according to the 2009 U.S. Embassy cable.

During 2009 and 2010, "I think we've had about 30 courses. So we bring a lot of the southern force people up here, the leaders, the commanders, and we train them here, and then they go back," Mr. Bennett said.

"We are very concerned, we are very interested, but this is an internal insurgency."