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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Putrajaya responsible for police handling of Bersih, says law expert

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — A constitutional expert has criticised the government for blaming the police for the way the Bersih rally was handled, saying today Putrajaya should be held responsible for the public fallout over the matter as police officers had acted strictly under government orders.
 
Professor Abdul Aziz Bari said that Malaysia practised a Westminister model of democracy, whereby Article 43 (3) of the Federal Constitution dictates that the police force answers to no one but the government of the day.

“The government cannot blame the police in the Bersih issue. The police force is part of the public service and this, in turn, is under the care of the executive, namely the government of the day.


Constitutional expert Professor Abdul Aziz Bari said today that “the buck stops with the government” over the police's response to the July 9 Bersih rally. — file pic
“Like in other Westminster democracies, the government is responsible for the public servants, including the police force. As they are not elected, it is the elected Cabinet who must be made accountable. That is the essence of responsible
government as laid down under Article 43 (3) of the Federal Constitution,” he told The Malaysian Insider today via email.


Aziz was responding to remarks made earlier today by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon. Koh had said that the police’s handling of the July 9 Bersih rally was the cause of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recent approval rating decline.

The Gerakan president agreed with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s view that the rally had affected the government’s image, but stressed that Putrajaya had never meant to “stifle” anyone’s freedom of speech or right to express themselves.

Koh, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said measures taken by the police during the rally had given the public the “impression” that the government was “too restrictive”, and that this was not true.
“The buck stops with the government; it cannot point the finger at the public servants ... In the Bersih affair, the police were acting under the instructions of the government,” Aziz explained further.

He said that the Najib administration’s move to pin the blame on the police was not a new occurrence, and that a similar tactic was employed by Dr Mahathir during the infamous Operasi Lalang incident.
“Serve the police right. They have become a guinea pig again,” Aziz added.

Dr Mahathir, in an Astro Awani interview aired yesterday, said that Najib’s recent approval rating decline was due to his administration’s handling of the Bersih rally.

He had agreed with the findings of Merdeka Center’s latest survey, which saw Najib’s approval rating slide to its lowest point of 59 per cent since last May’s high of 79 per cent. He said that the government’s image was badly affected due to the strict measures taken by the authorities to maintain public order on July 9.

The former prime minister pointed out that Putrajaya had acted wrongly by banning people from wearing yellow garments.

A Merdeka Center survey had concluded that the rating drop was fuelled by rising concerns over the surge in living costs and Putrajaya’s handling of Bersih 2.0.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have basked in the aftermath of the survey results, claiming it indicated a clear voter swing towards the federal opposition, while Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have chosen to stay indignant, saying the poll may not be an accurate reflection of voter sentiment.

The survey involved respondents aged 21 and above across the peninsula who were selected through a random stratified sampling along the lines of ethnicity, gender, age and state of residency. Of the 1,027 polled, 59 per cent were Malays, 32 per cent Chinese and nine per cent Indians.

Three brothers file report over police brutality

Handcuffed, assaulted and asked to pay a bribe of RM150 for a traffic violation

KUALA LUMPUR:  Three brothers lodged separate police reports against police after they were allegedly beaten up while hancuffed and asked to pay a bribe to settle a traffic offence.

M Gunasegaran, 22, M Thenes, 20 and M Magendran 15 lodged their reports at the Tanjung Malim Police station in Perak after the incident.

Gunasegaran, a wireman, said that on Sept 4, he was on his way to buy groceries at a shop not far from his home when he was stopped by a police officer for not wearing a helmet.

“I was not carrying the necessary documents when I was stopped and offered to show it to  the officer if he allowed me retrive them from my home.

“He then took me to my house and having found that I did not have a valid driving license, he began using abusive language on me and called for back up,” said Gunasegaran.

Four  plainclothes officers arrived soon after and arrested Gunasegaran, his youngest brother Magendran and a relative, Surish Kumar, who was visiting his family.

“They beat me and my brother, a student, and arrested all of us, including my relative who was at home during the incident,” he said.

At the police station, Gunasegaran alleged that police officers  taped their eyes shut and started punching and kicking them. They also choked them with a rubber hose.

Thenes, the younger brother of Gunasegaran said he rushed to the station after learning of his brothers’ arrest.

“An officer in uniform told me that my brother had broken the law and said that he would have to pay RM2,500 if they hauled him to court,” said Thenes.
“The officer then offered to release all of them if I paid RM150. I had no choice but to pay up the money demanded by him,” he added.

Gunasegaran said he made a police report at the station over the incident and is planning to take legal action.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Tamil Students Progressive Association president MS Arjunan described the police action as disgusting.

“Cruelty by law enforcement officers must not be condoned. They are entrusted to keep  peace and security,” he said.

He said that he will file a complaint with the Ministry of Home Affair and the Inspector general of police over the matter.

Pakistani Christian killed during pilgrimage to the town of Mary

Sunil Masih, 25, left the group travelling to Mariamabad and never returned. The corpse showed signs of injury. Police deny possibility of his being run over by a truck. Identity of the perpetrators of the murder still unknown. The pain of the family, who lost their only son.

Mariamabad (AsiaNews) - Sunil Masih, a 25 year old Pakistani Christian, was kidnapped and killed as he walked on a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Mariamabad, the "city of Mary," in the province of Punjab. The Pakistan Christian Post (PCP) reports that during the journey the young man left the group for a few minutes, heading for the fields for physiological needs, and his body was found shortly after, with visible signs of injuries (see photo). The boy was run over by a truck, to make it appear an accident. However, police investigating the body and the dynamics of episode, strongly denyi the possibility of it being an accident.

Sunil Masih was an only child and sole source of income for the family, because his father suffers from serious kidney problems. At the news of the death of the young man, the mother fainted from the pain. Human rights activists and Pakistani Christians denounce repeated deaths, thefts and robberies perpetrated against the religious minority. They demand greater protection from police and government authorities.

For 60 years now, September 4 marks the beginning of the traditional pilgrimage to the Grotto of Our Lady, Daman E Mariam, located in one of the oldest Christian places of Pakistan, about 115 km from Lahore. The culmination of the festival coincides with September 8, the day the Church celebrates the Nativity of Mary, Mother of Jesus.

The faithful from around the country are travelling on country roads on foot or by bicycle. Some groups are moving by train, those who have them, by car. All embellish their means of transport with streamers or banners to signal that they are travelling to the village of Mary. Catholics are moving along with Christians of other confessions, but also Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Our Lady of Marialabad has many devotees and over the years has called to her a growing number of pilgrims.

The construction of the grotto dates back to 1927, built by a missionary, Fr Ostar. Years later, in 1949, Fr. Emmanuel Asi promoted the first pilgrimage over three days, starting then as now on September 4th, the faithful throughout the country make their journey to pay homage to the Virgin and ask for her intercession.

Chegu Bard mahu Utusan Malaysia sedar diri

“Minggu lepas saya telah menghantar email kepada Utusan Malaysia bagi menjelaskan semua ini tetapi sehingga hari ini tiada sebarang respon dari mereka."

SEREMBAN: Kecewa dengan pemberitaan akhbar Utusan Malaysia yang didakwa menipu orang Melayu, Pengerusi Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM), Badrul Hisham Shaharin  bersama ahli SAMM mengambil tindakan menampal tiga keping poster bermesej di hadapan pejabat akhbar tersebut di Seremban.

Chegu Bard bersama penyokongnya menampal poster tersebut bagi menjelaskan dan menafikan tuduhan laporan akhbar tersebut pada 30 Ogos lalu yang mencabarnya untuk membuat laporan Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) terhadap pendedahan isu cincin berlian RM24.45 juta yang dikaitkan dengan isteri Perdana Menteri, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

“Utusan Malaysia merupakan media pekak bagi Umno yang mengamalkan strategi “pembohongan besar”.Akhbar tersebut mencabar saya membuat laporan SPRM pada 30 September sedangkan laporan SPRM telah pun saya buat pada 13 Julai di SPRM Pulau Pinang dan wartawan Utusan Malaysia juga berada dalam sidang akhbar tersebut.

Tiada respon

“Minggu lepas saya telah menghantar email kepada Utusan Malaysia bagi menjelaskan semua ini tetapi sehingga hari ini tiada sebarang respon dari mereka.

“Maka sebagai langkah terakhir saya datang sendiri ke pejabat Utusan Malaysia dan menampal segala penjelasan saya berhubung pendedahan isu cincin berlian RM24.5 juta yang dikaitkan dengan Rosmah dan penafian tuduhan Utusan Malaysia terhadap saya yang disiarkan oleh akhbar tersebut pada 30 September lalu.

“Utusan Malaysia melaporkan isu tersebut ikut suka hati mereka dan tindakan saya pada hari ini ialah untuk bagi mereka sedar diri dengan sikap tidak bertanggungjawab mereka” kata Chegu Bard  yang juga merupakan Ketua Cabang PKR Rembau.

Kedah, not Malacca, the oldest kingdom

Latest archaeological findings by a USM archaeological team places the Kedah sultanate as possibly the oldest in the world.

KUALA LUMPUR: Local history books may have to be re-written to accommodate a Universiti Sains Malaysia(USM) archaeological team’s discovery that the Kedah sultanate pre-dates Malacca as the oldest in the Malay peninsula.

The team from USM’s Centre for Global Archaeological Research (PPAG) has unearthed evidence of ancient artifacts and an iron smelting site in Kedah dating back to 110 AD.

Among the discoveries were a complete and intact foundation of a stone building constructed with detailed geometrical precision, revealing the unification of the concept of squares and circles.

The excavation, which began in February 2009, is expected to provide answers to various questions regarding the history of the excavation site at Sungai Batu, Bujang Valley.

Associate Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin, the director of PPAG, said that these latest crucial discoveries must be acknowledged by the government, and concedes that Kedah pre-dates Malacca as the starting point of local history.

S Gobikrishnan, an independent researcher, added: “It (the government) must accept the hard evidence and set the record straight about the early history of Bujang Valley, and Malaysia’s history should start with Kedah and not Malacca.”

Gobikrishnan, the head of the Lembah Bujang Independent Research Group for the past seven years, said the federal government deliberately concealed the facts about the history of Kedah and in the process played out the Sultanate of Kedah by giving prominence to Malacca.

According to him, Merong Mahawangsa, the founder of the Kedah kingdom, was originally a prince by the name of Maaran Mahavamsan from Persia and not Macedonia.

Wrong assumptions

He said most historians have made wrong assumptions about Merong Mahawangsa.

“Mahavamsan”, means “from a great generation” and Maaran Mahavamsan comes from the lineage of Alexander the Great.

“After Alexander won the Battle of Gaugamela in Persia, he married a local princess by the name of Shaher Ul Beriah. And Maaran Mahavamsan was a 11th generation decendent of Shaher Ul Beriah,” said Gobikrishnan.

Although Maaran Mahavamsan was born in Persia, his name clearly suggests he was of Hindu stock, said Gobikrishnan, who added that for trading purposes, he travelled to a port city called Nagapattinam which still exists today in South India.

From there he sailed to Kedah and formed the Kingdom of Kedah. Athough there are many theories for Maaran’s arrival in Kedah, trade seemed to be his main purpose. Moreover, Kedah was considered part of “greater India” from West India to Cambodia.

Gobikrishnan also said that under Maaran’s administration, Kedah become a famous entreport and a second century inscription found at the Puhar Port (in Chola Kingdom, India) clearly acknowledges the existence of Kedah.

The inscription states that Kedah was famous among traders for trading in “luxuries” (spices). A recent discovery also showed that Kedah had an old port constructed of wood in Merbok.

“So, all the earliest sites like the iron smelting foundary, port and stone structures showed that Kedah played an important role as an industrial and trading centre.

“Starting with Maaran Mahavamsan until Maharaja Durbar Raja who was also known as Sultan Muzaffar Shah (1136-1179), Kedah had eight Hindu kings before Durbar Raja converted to Islam,” said Gobikrishnan.

Parameswara originated from Kedah?

He added that the Kedah sultanate was unique and one of the oldest in the world.

“The current Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah is the 35th generation of Merong Mahawangsa. The federal government deliberately refused to accept these facts.

“Why is the federal government acknowledging Malacca as the first Malay sultanate when the facts show that Kedah deserved that honour? asked Gobikrishnan.

He also pointed out that Ganga Negara, the Thailand kingdom, and even Parameswara, the founder of Malacca, all originated from the Kedah kingdom.

Gobikrishnan appreciated the federal government’s initiative to set up a place for taking care of the things found in Bujang Valley.

“But, it is not enough. The government should re-write the history and honoured Kedah and the Sultan.”
He added that sidelining Kedah from history is a big embarrassment to the Kedah sultanate which was the earliest in the Malay Peninsula.

Gobikrishnan also urged the Kedah state government to take the initiative to ensure Kedah takes its rightful place in Malaysia’s history.

Fatwa needed on 'Abdullah' rule change

The New Straits Times
By Baharom Bakar

KUALA BERANG: The state government's proposal for Muslim children born less than six months after their parents' marriage to carry their fathers' name may come into effect much sooner as no amendment to the National Registration Act 1960 is needed.

A state National Registration Department (NRD) spokesperson said there was no need to amend Section 13 of the act as this could be implemented if the National Fatwa Council were to give its green light.

Hulu Terengganu member of parliament Mohd Nor Othman said he supported the state government initiative and had contacted the NRD and the Home Ministry about the possibility of implementing it.

Information gathered showed that the council approval was needed before it could be implemented.

"The approval is needed as the father's name in the identity card will also affect other procedures like inheritance and marriage under Islamic laws," he said.

Nor was commenting on the state government's proposal to the NRD that would enable Muslim children born less than six months after their parents' marriage to carry their fathers' name in their identity card, with an additional "Section 13" note as reported in the New Straits Times yesterday.

Currently, the NRD will state "Abdullah" as their father's in their identity card.

The proposal was formulated during a special meeting between the Terengganu Islamic Affairs Department (JHEAT), the state NRD, the state Mufti Department and the Terengganu Syariah Judiciary Department last Monday.

State religion and information committee chairman Khazan Che Mat, who chaired the meeting, said it was to prevent such children from facing an emotional trauma due to the social stigma of not having their father's name on their identity cards.

Nor said he would bring up the matter during the next parliamentary session next month.

"I am all for the proposal as it is understood that there are more than 300,000 children in the country facing such a predicament," he said.

New York cracks down after "credible" 9/11 threat

(Reuters) - New York police amassed a display of force on Friday including checkpoints that snarled traffic in response to intelligence about a car or truck bomb plot linked to the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Officers armed with automatic weapons were stationed at city landmarks including Wall Street, Times Square and the September 11 memorial site where the Twin Towers once stood.

U.S. officials called the threat "credible but unconfirmed" and timed to the anniversary of the hijacked plane attacks that killed 2,995 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

There was reason to believe threat may be linked to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, a U.S. official told Reuters on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

New Yorkers who have grown accustomed to bag searches at subway stations and random displays of police presence encountered increased vigilance after the threat, which prompted President Barack Obama to order a redoubling of U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

A manhunt was under way for two or three suspects, U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity. One said there could be a link to Zawahri, who took the reins of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed in May in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.

Near the site known as Ground Zero, where a new World Trade Center is under reconstruction and Obama will attend Sunday's commemoration, police established a checkpoint behind the historic Trinity Church, stopping vehicles, opening the cargo bays of trucks and checking drivers' licenses.

Similar checkpoints went up at Times Square, Columbus Circle on the southern edge of Central Park and outside the Macy's department store in midtown, creating traffic jams all over Manhattan.

"I think for our safety it is good," Eva Kurzawska, 57, said as she watched irritated drivers a checkpoint in midtown.

"The commute on the train this morning was horrible but it was worth it because we are being protected," said Mario Vigorigo, 42, a wireless manager from Brooklyn.

Sam Ginzburg, a senior trader at First New York Securities, said warnings of a potential attack was one factor unnerving traders before the weekend. "There is an extreme amount of negativity," he said as U.S. stocks fell on Friday.

A senior law enforcement official told Reuters police patrols and security will be stepped up beginning at 3 p.m. EDT to coincide with the evening rush hour. The operation will involve a "big show of force" which will include teams of officers armed with heavy weapons.

While the rush-hour operation had been planned some time ago, the forces and tactics deployed were increased after authorities received the intelligence threat this week.

'TERRORISM IS THEATER'

The intelligence included possible threats of attacks targeting subways or commuter trains or possible car bomb attacks in New York or Washington, U.S. officials said.

"We have to be concerned. Terrorism is theater and this is a stage, right now probably the world's biggest stage," New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told CNN.

"We have the opening of the 9/11 memorial, the president and two former presidents here, obviously a lot of high profile public officials will be here, so we have to be concerned," Kelly said.

In addition to the vehicle checkpoints, police would assign additional officers to cover bridges and tunnels, increase bag searches in the subway system, deploy radiation detectors and employ bomb-sniffing dogs, Kelly told NY1 television.

Vice President Joseph Biden said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program on Friday morning, "We don't have the smoking gun but we do have talk about using a car bomb."

A counterterrorism official said the threat information came from Pakistan's tribal areas.

Documents discovered in Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after he was killed in a raid in May by Navy SEALs, highlighted his persistent interest in attacking the United States around the anniversary of the 2001 attacks. But it is unclear if the plans ever evolved beyond aspiration.

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Michelle Nichols, Edward Krudy, Brian Snynder and Jennifer Marostica in New York; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Hindu Americans react to terror strikes at New Delhi's High Court

Washington, D.C. (September 9, 2011) - Leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) were stunned after the deadly bombing yesterday that killed twelve and injured dozens outside the Delhi High Court in India's capital. The attack using a briefcase bomb was strategically planned to maximize casualties as Wednesdays see large crowds at the High Court.
 
"We offer our condolences to the families of those who perished and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Director. “It is our sincere hope that the state brings the perpetrators to justice. Citizens of the world’s largest democracy should never fear visiting their government institutions, or any public space.”
 
Yesterday's bombing was the first major attack in New Delhi in over three years, though India’s financial capital, Mumbai, saw blasts that killed over 20 in crowded market places this past July. South Asian-based terror group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), listed by the U.S. State Department as having links to al-Qaeda, and the indigenous Indian Mujahideen, which also has international terrorist links, have both made conflicting claims of responsibility for the violence.
 
HuJI and other groups have conducted similar bombings in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and in other parts of India, and this has been documented in HAF’s annual human rights report. Police forces have detained five people in connection with Wednesday’s blasts, but believe it is too early to name any one particular group as responsible.
 
"It is imperative that the Indian government provides adequate security in places where large crowds gather, especially in and near government buildings,” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s Associate Director. “Many of the perpetrators of the horrific attacks on India’s Parliament in 2003 and in Mumbai on November 2008 and July 2011 are yet to be brought to justice. In the meantime, these groups with clear ties to Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency continue to use terror to carry out a proxy war on India. We urge the U.S. to curb funding to countries who use terror as an instrument of state policy.”

Dr M pins Najib’s ratings slide on Bersih rally handling


Dr Mahathir said the move by authorities to ban yellow T-shirts had reflected badly on Najib and his administration. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recent approval ratings decline was due to his administration’s handling of the July 9 Bersih rally, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed has said.
 
The former prime minister agreed with the findings of Merdeka Center’s latest survey, which saw Najib’s approval rating slide to its lowest point of 59 per cent since last May’s high of 79 per cent.

Merdeka Center had then concluded that the ratings drop was fuelled by rising concerns over the surge in living costs and Putrajaya’s handling of Bersih 2.0.

Dr Mahathir told Astro Awani in an interview aired today that the government’s image was badly affected due to the strict measures taken by authorities in maintaining public order on July 9.

He pointed out that Putrajaya had acted wrongly by banning people from wearing yellow shirts.
“This has been blamed on (Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Najib but I do not know what Datuk Seri (Najib) did by ordering that people could not wear yellow shirts.

“I do not think he would tell the police not to allow yellow shirts. But the fact is that those who wore yellow shirts were seen as enemies. This is a move by the Malaysian government and that gave a bad image to the government,” the country’s longest-serving prime minister said.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have basked in the aftermath of the survey results, claiming it indicated a clear voter swing towards the federal opposition, while Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders chose to stay indignant, saying the poll may not have been an accurate reflection of voter sentiment

The survey involved respondents aged 21 and above across the peninsula who were selected through random stratified sampling along the lines of ethnicity, gender, age and state of residency. Of the 1,027 polled, 59 per cent were Malays, 32 per cent Chinese and nine per cent Indians.

Dr Mahathir said that as a result of the rally, the Bersih 2.0 organisers had succeeded in what he called their objective of attacking the government’s image and Najib’s leadership.

“I feel that Bersih succeeded in achieving its mission to discredit the government’s image. They knew that if they did a demonstration, the government would place teams to prevent it. Because of this, the government’s image is affected because of its actions such as banning people from wearing yellow shirts and so on,” Dr Mahathir added.

When asked to comment on his own daughter’s (Datuk Seri Marina Mahathir) involvement in the rally, the former PM said that he respected her freedom to do what she wanted.

“I did not say my daughter had to follow me. They can think for themselves. Alhamdulillah, she joined but she was unharmed,” he added.

More unhappiness over vacant MIC senator post

The president has indicated that the vacant slot will go to the national treasurer but the youth wing feels it deserves the post.

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a minor revolt in MIC over the party president’s pick to fill a vacant senator’s post.

A party source said that MIC president G Palanivel has indicated that he will select national treasurer Jaspal Singh to fill the senator’s post which will be vacant as Daljit Singh Dalliwal’s term ends today.

The source said the youth wing is not happy with the president’s suggestion as Palanivel has gone on record as saying the youth wing deserves a senator’s post.

“The proposal was truly unfair as the president promised a senatorship for the youth wing at a Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting,” the source said.

The MIC youth desperately need a senator’s post to convince Indian youths who have no faith in MIC.
“We need the post to voice out our problems affecting Indian youths ,” the source said.

Meanwhile, a senior branch chairman said that Palanivel’s move will not go down well with party members.

The branch chairman from Kedah said most of the Kedah members are upset after the president decided to give two senatorship to the same division.

Last month, Petaling Jaya Selatan MIC chief V Subramaniam and division Wanita head A Sivabagiam were appointed senators.

“It looks like the party central committee is sidelining state leaders,” he said.

He added that Palanivel should be aware that when it comes to general election the state leadership is more important than the central committee.

He also said that MIC has a total of six senatorships. Besides Penang chief PK Subbayah and Tapah division chief S Malasingham, the rest are all Selangor leaders.

Youth chief T Mohan refused to comment on the speculation.

“It is just a rumour. Why should I comment on that?” he told FMT. “Actually, the youth wing is now focused on the upcoming general election.”

He added that the youth wing is working closely with the party president to win back all the MIC seats. He said the youth wing has decided to ask the same number of seats as in the last election.

In the 12th general election, former president S Samy Vellu gave two parliament and three state seats to the youth wing.

Except for M Asojan who won the Gambir seat and R Vidyananthan who retained the Kahang state assembly seat, the rest were defeated.

Residents livid over second eviction notice

Despite instruction from the state government, the Petaling land office issued a second eviction notice to the residents in Kampung Muniandy.

PETALING JAYA: Eight buyers of the stalled Block E low cost flat project in PJS 1 received a second eviction notice from the Petaling land office on Wednesday.

The notices were sent despite assurance by the Petaling Jaya City Hall (MBPJ) that the buyers would not be evicted until the state government found suitable temporary housing for them in a nearby area.

The latest notice, signed by assistant district officer Abdul Shariz Izwan Abd Shukor, said that officers could come anytime to evict them as the deadline given in the first notice had expired.

On July 21, the land office issued the residents from the Kampung Muniandy squatter settlement eviction notices under Section 425 of the National Land Code.

It said that the residents were squatting on government land and were given 14 days to vacate the area. The deadline expired on Aug 4.

The residents highlighted the matter to the state government and MBPJ in a meeting on July 29.
Present at the meeting were Taman Medan state assemblyperson Haniza Talha, Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sean and state exco Iskandar Abdul Samad’s's aide, Mahyuddin Ismail.

MBPJ then sent a letter to the land office on Aug 4 urging it not to evict the residents till temporary housing was provided.

‘Build our flats’
Block E buyers residents association committee chairman M Sugumaran said he was upset with the new developments as he thought the matter was resolved in August.

In his correspondence with MBPJ’s deputy director of development Zain Azly Abdul Rahman, Sugumaran was informed that Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim had instructed the land office not to vacate the residents.

Zain had said that he would arrange another meeting for the residents with Khalid to resolve the matter.
“We just want the problem to be solved. If the government plans to move them to the longhouses, at least repair the houses first as many are in bad condition,” said Sugumaran.

One resident, wheelchair-bound A Selvarajah, 47, said he was frustrated that the government was trying to evict him without building the low cost flat he purchased about eight years ago.

“We keep getting notices but no one offered us alternative housing,” said the father of eight who has lived in the squatter settlement for the past 10 years.

However, Selvarajah admitted that MBPJ did offer him a place to stay at the Lembah Subang low cost flat unit but he rejected it.

“I have eight children who study here. My wife works as a helper at a nearby kindergarten. Lembah Subang is too far and moving there will increase our living expenses,” he said.

Selvarajah added that he hoped the government would also provide an assurance letter that it would build his flat as promised in June.

Another resident, R Karupayee, 69, said she hoped the flat she purchased would be ready for her grandchildren, who are in their 20s.

“My husband died before seeing our new flat and I don’t need it for long as I am too old. I just hope my grandchildren get the flat,” she said.

What happened to the Indian Cultural Centre?

A consumer group wants previous and current Selangor state administrations to account for the hefty allocation set aside for the project.

KLANG: The Malaysian Consumer Advisory Association (MCAA) wants the previous administration and the current Selangor state government to account for a sizeable allocation that was set aside for the construction of an Indian Cultural Centre prior to the 12th general election.

Association president G Varatharajoo, who forwarded a Jan 20, 2008 news report on the matter to FMT, said the the BN state government had allocated a hefty sum for the Indian cultural centre to be built in Selangor.

According to the report, former menteri besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo acknowledged that the state had awarded funds for the centre and had commissioned several Indian-based NGOs, headed by MIC’s Kamala Ganapathy, a former state executive councillor, to come up with a blueprint for it.

The news article stated that the BN state government had also approved RM2 million for the betterment of Tamil vernacular schools in Selangor.

However, both these allocations have not been accounted for after BN was defeated in the 2008 general election.

“We want to know what happened to these allocations,” Varatharajoo told FMT.

“The Pakatan Rakyat government should follow up on the idea for an Indian cultural centre. It cannot sidelined the project simply because it was BN’s brainchild.”

Contacted later, Kamala claimed that the fund for the cultural centre is with the current state government.

“The project was delayed after we could not find suitable land to build the centre. And after BN lost in Selangor, the fund was transferred to Pakatan state government,” she said.

When asked about the RM2 million allocation for Tamil schools, Kamala claimed the money had already been disbursed to several schools although she could not recall how many schools had benefited from the allocation.

FMT could not reach Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, the current state executive council member in charge of Indian Affairs, for further clarification on both the issues.

ABU: ‘anything but Umno’ or ‘asal bukan Umno’


Since the house in Seremban is not registered in the AG’s name, this means the house does not belong to him and what Malaysia Today reported is therefore false. And this would also mean that the investigation is now complete and no further action needs to be taken against Gani Patail.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Pressure on MACC chief to clarify Ho Hup 'visit'
(Malaysiakini) - Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed should issue a statement on the graft busting body's "visit" to Ho Hup's Bukit Jalial headquarters two days ago.
Social Care Foundation chairperson Robert Phang said the MACC's quiet role would help allay fears that it will not be intimidated when acting or investigating allegations of corruption of a person while acting without fear or favour.
"MACC's Abu Kassim should issue a statement with his pledge that the MACC would not be intimidated or influenced by any person stature and that action would be taken to investigate regardless that the subject or suspect may be a 'big fish' and not just some 'ikan bilis'.
"If only Dato Seri Abu Kassim would make that announcement, that would allay all public cynicism and skepticism. That would assure the public not to worry because MACC is vigilant and alert to allegations that are already circulating in the public domain," he said in a statement. 
Phang added that this is the only way that the MACC can regain the rakyat's trust and confidence.
It was reported yesterday that Ho Hup officials admitted the MACC had visited them on Wednesday, contrary to an earlier report which appeared in political blog Malaysia Today, terming it a raid.
The report also carried a denial from Ho Hup officials that documents were taken in the half-hour visit. Allegations in the public domain from Malaysia Today since last month had linked attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail with the construction giant.
This follows claims that Ho Hup had paid for the renovations of Gani's house in Seremban in return for a favour done to one of its former directors. Gani had vehemently denied owning any property there.
Leave of absence advice
Phang in the statement also said it would be commendable for the government and the MACC be transparent in this matter.
"It would be more commendable for all parties if the investigation can be transparent. Already talk is rife that the visit and seizure of Ho Hup's documents are to achieve some other ulterior objective namely to destroy evidence of any misconduct by the AG. That perception is unfortunate," he said.
Thus, one way in which Gani, the MACC and the government can show transparency in this mater is to ask Gani to go on leave of absence until the investigations are over, he added. "
"This would sweep away all the dust of suspicion that otherwise would linger on in this matter."
The social activist had resigned as MACC advisory board member when claims surfaced in blogs that he was involved in corrupt practices. To protect the anti-graft body's integrity, Phang quit the committee.
He was eventually cleared by the MACC of the allegations which had surfaced earlier this year.
"I ask AG Gani Patail to be selfless in this and do what I had done when an unfounded allegation was made against me earlier this year. Then, Gani Patail would earn my respect as a true patriot."
Phang also clarified his earlier statement titled 'AG Gani Patail: MACC must show independence and not impotence' which may have upset certain MACC quarters.
He said it was not to demean the MACC but to challenge, motivate, provoke and fire-up the anti-corruption entity and its officers so they would be vigilant in the fight to stem corruption.
"After all, I still regard myself as part of the MACC support group," he said.
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That was what Malaysiakini reported. What was not reported, however, was that the MACC officers who raided Ho Hup’s office told the Ho Hup staff that Malaysia Today’s report about AG Gani Patail owning a house in Seremban is not true. According to the MACC, the house is not registered in Gani Patail’s name. So this means the house does not belong to him.
Since the house in Seremban is not registered in the AG’s name, this means the house does not belong to him and what Malaysia Today reported is therefore false. And this would also mean that the investigation is now complete and no further action needs to be taken against Gani Patail.
The fact that the MACC has already come to a conclusion means we can expect what the result is going to be. It is going to be No Further Action or NFA. And the AG is, again, going to get off scot free like the investigation on his pilgrimage to Mekah.
A few of Ho Hup’s staff have been summoned to the MACC office for their statement to be recorded. But since they have already been told that the allegation against the AG is a lie, they will have to make sure that their statement dovetails with the conclusion already made by the MACC. It would be foolish for them to make a statement opposite to this and contradictory to what the MACC told them -- that the allegation is not true.
In the meantime, to make sure that no one deviates from the story which the MACC has already decided is the ‘true story’, Dato TC Low is being made to face a criminal charge. Further to that, his sister, Low Lai Yong, is facing 11 charges for various technical offences under the Companies Act and Securities Commission Act. Each charge is subject to a bail of RM 1 million!
That should frighten everyone and which will ensure that everyone toes the line and says what the MACC wants them to say.
And, as a final nail in the coffin, the Social Care Foundation chairperson, Robert Phang, is also being investigated to determine whether he is working in concert with Malaysia Today. That, of course, is meant to frighten Robert Phang in the hope that he will back off or else suffer the allegation of being Raja Petra Kamarudin’s ‘team member’.
Now do you know why we need changes? Now do you know why we need to kick out Umno and Barisan Nasional come the next election?
Honestly, I do not know whether Pakatan Rakyat can be a better government. But for sure they can’t be worse that what we are seeing thus far.
We may need to forget about whether Pakatan Rakyat can be better than Umno or Barisan Nasional. We may need to just embark on ABU (anything but Umno or asal bukan Umno). That may be our only hope for change.

The haze and the malaise

Ethnic politics makes Malaysia’s transition to a contested democracy fraught and ugly
 SKYSCRAPERS and lampposts in Kuala Lumpur are still festooned with flags left over from independence day festivities at the end of August. 

Fittingly, this week they were shrouded in the annual “haze” of smog from forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Malaysia’s politicians are not in the mood to celebrate nationhood and unity. Rather, with an election in the offing, everything is a chance for political point-scoring.

That includes independence itself. One huge banner in the centre of the capital shows the country’s six prime ministers since the British left in 1957, with the incumbent, Najib Razak, in the foreground, gazing into a visionary future. All six hailed from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which has led the “Barisan Nasional” (BN) coalition government ever since 1957. Some opposition politicians now complain that the official narrative of Malaysia’s history ignores the role of non-UMNO freedom fighters. Since the most recent general election, in March 2008, the opposition has had a real chance of winning power. For the first time since independence in 1957, the BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament that allowed it to amend the constitution on its own. No longer a one-coalition state, the opposition argues, Malaysia has to rethink its own history.
The next election is not due until 2013. But, out of tradition and political calculation, Mr Najib is expected to call it earlier—and to win it. Some think it could come this year, after a generous government budget in October. A crowded calendar of regional summitry makes that awkward, and Mr Najib has other reasons for delay. Since he took over in 2009, he has launched a plethora of initiatives to improve Malaysians’ lives and a “Performance and Delivery Unit” to implement them. Results take time.

Three factors, however, argue for a hasty dash to the polls. The first is that Mr Najib, who took over UMNO and the prime ministership after the BN’s unprecedentedly poor showing in 2008, still had an approval rating of 59% in a recent survey. That is well below his initial popularity, however, and he will not want to mimic Britain’s Gordon Brown in delaying too long before seeking his own mandate. Second, economic storm clouds are gathering in the West. Malaysia’s economy is still growing at over 4% a year, but is vulnerable to a downturn in external demand.

Third, the opposition coalition is in some disarray. Its figurehead, Anwar Ibrahim, is on trial for sodomy, illegal in Malaysia, and many expect him to go back to jail soon, as he did (for the same alleged offence) in 1998. He is a divisive figure. But without him, there is no obvious opposition candidate for prime minister. The president of his party is his wife, and its most impressive politician is his 30-year-old daughter, Nurul Izzah. The other components of the coalition are the Democratic Action Party, which draws its support from the Chinese minority, and an Islamic party known as PAS, whose religious conservatism alienates many liberal Malays. So there is even talk of a revival of the prime ministerial ambitions of Razaleigh Hamzah, a veteran UMNO rebel, as an opposition rallying point.

The government helpfully provided another rallying point with its cack-handed crackdown on an NGO-led protest in Kuala Lumpur in July calling for electoral reform. Mr Najib has since agreed to a parliamentary committee to look into the demands, which are mostly unexceptionable: to clean up voters’ lists, allegedly swollen with “phantoms”; to extend the election-campaign period, at present just seven to nine days; to tighten up the postal-vote system; and so on. But he has not agreed to postpone an election until after the committee has ruled.

Whatever technical reforms are made before the next election, it will still be dominated by the original sin of ethnic discrimination set out in the country’s 1957 constitution. This was designed to allay the fears of the majority ethnic-Malay population of being marginalised by Chinese and Indian minorities, which now make up respectively 23% and 7% of the population of 28m. Perks, much extended after race riots in 1969 (still often referred to in Malaysia as if they happened yesterday), gave Malays privileged access to public-sector jobs, university places, stockmarket flotations and government contracts.

Both government and opposition talk of dismantling these privileges, which have contributed to corruption and large-scale emigration. Mr Najib has indeed started tinkering with Malay privileges, much to the outrage of the UMNO right and a vocal Malay-rights ginger group known as Perkasa. Ibrahim Ali, Perkasa’s front man, argues that, with the Malay vote split, the minorities have disproportionate electoral power, to which the mainstream parties pander.

Malay power

That is nonsense. As elections loom, it is the Malay voter whose opinion matters, and he is assumed to resent any effort to curtail his privileges. And that means that both coalitions have to resort to defending the indefensible: a system in which families that have lived in Malaysia for generations are told to tolerate discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, to bolster allegedly fragile racial harmony. Malays and minorities alike lament that the races are living increasingly separate lives—studying in different schools, eating different foods and going to different parties. The divide is further widened as more Malays, who, constitutionally, are all Muslims, become religiously conservative.

The Malaysian malaise stems from the congruence of two seemingly conflicting trends. One is the healthy development of pluralist competition in a system that had seemed stuck for ever in an UMNO-dominated quasi-democracy. The other is the sharpening of ethnic and religious dividing lines. It is alarming that, instead of seeing competitive politics as a way of bridging the ethnic divide, too many Malaysian politicians see the ethnic divide as a way of winning the political competition.