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Monday, September 26, 2011

Girl accused of blasphemy for a spelling error

Eighth-grader expelled from school; mother forced to move from city.
ABBOTTABAD:  It may have been a mere misplaced dot that led to accusations of blasphemy against a Christian eighth-grader, whose miniscule error led to her expulsion from school and uproar amongst local religious leaders.
Faryal Bhatti, a student at the Sir Syed Girls High School in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) colony Havelian, erroneously misspelt a word in an Urdu exam while answering a question on a poem written in praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The word in question was ‘laanat’ instead of ‘naat’ – an easy error for a child to make, as the written versions of the words are similar.
According to the school administration and religious leaders who took great exception to the hapless student’s mistake, the error is ‘serious’ enough to fall within the realm of blasphemy, Saturday.
Spelling out her punishment
On Thursday, Faryal’s Urdu teacher was collecting the answer sheets from her students when she noticed the apparently offensive word on her pupil’s sheet. The teacher, Fareeda Bibi, reportedly summoned the Christian girl, scolded her and beat her. Her punishment, however, did not end here. When Faryal’s class fellows learnt of the alleged blasphemy, the teacher brought the principal’s notice to the matter, who further informed the school management.
In the meanwhile, the news spread throughout the colony. The next day, male students of the POF colony school as well as certain religious elements took out a rally, demanding the registration of a criminal case against the eighth-grader and her expulsion from the area.
Prayer leaders within the community also condemned the incident in their Friday sermons, asking the colony’s administration to not only take action against Faryal but her entire family. In the wake of the increasing tensions, Managing Director POF Colony Havelian Asif Siddiki called a meeting of colony-based ulemas and school teachers to discuss the situation. The girl and her mother were asked to appear before the meeting, where they explained that it was a mere error, caused by a resemblance between the two words. The two immediately apologised, adding that Faryal had no malicious intentions.
In a move that was apparently meant to pacify the religious elements clamouring for action against the teenage ‘blasphemer’, the POF administration expelled her from the school on Saturday. Faryal was not the only one who got in trouble for her spelling error, however, as her mother, Sarafeen Bhatti, who was a staff nurse at the POF Hospital Havelian for several years, was immediately transferred to POF Wah Cantonment Hospital.
Decision applauded
While talking to The Express Tribune, Maulana Alla Dita Khateeb of Gol Masjid praised the decision of the POF colony administration, claiming that he had personally seen the answer sheet in question. He further went on to say that he had met the girl himself, who had apologised for the word used in error.  Asked whether the incident still fell within the realm of blasphemy and whether Faryal deserved expulsion when she had misspelt the word unintentionally, Khateeb said that although he was unclear about the intentions of the girl, the word she had used was sacrilegious.
The managing director of POF Colony was not available for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2011.

DAP leadership to cede office if hudud law part of Pakatan agenda

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 – DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today threatened the resignation of his party’s entire leadership if the implementation of hudud law is forced into Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) common policy framework.

His statement comes ahead of plans by the PR leadership to address the longstanding issue during a meeting this Wednesday.

According to Star Online, Lim (picture) pointed out that the tripartite PR pact comprising DAP, PAS and PKR was founded on common policies and understanding, particularly on issues like fighting corruption and upholding justice.

Hudud law, he said, was never included in PR’s common policy framework or its Buku Jingga and should therefore never be part of the pact’s agenda.

“If there is any mention that we want to implement hudud law in our common policy framework and Buku Jingga, the party’s entire central committee will resign,” Lim was quoted in Star Online as saying to reporters after officiating DAP’s Federal Territories convention here.

DAP and PAS has been at loggerheads over the Islamist’s party’s support for the controversial law which prescribes stoning, whipping and amputation as punishment for criminal offences.

PAS has refused to back down from its plan, with its spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat reportedly saying recently that DAP could leave the coalition if it refused to offer support.

Hudud is a prickly subject in multicultural Malaysia where race and religion are closely-linked. The country’s 28-million population is also still haunted by the bloody racial riots of May 13, 1969.

The issue is raised cyclically as political fodder as its divisive nature often causes conflicts to occur within otherwise-friendly circles, making it ideal to pit parties with opposing ideologies against one another.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has also backed the introduction of hudud in Kelantan, saying it would not infringe upon non-Muslims’ rights, further escalating the dispute.

The PR de facto leader also rebuked Barisan Nasional (BN) for purportedly exploiting hudud, or Islamic laws, to gain political support as national polls nears.

He accused Umno of provoking greater tension among the different races and faiths by telling Muslims one thing and non-Muslims something else.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak too had yesterday pledged his administration would block any attempt to implement the Islamic penal law, in a bid to curtail further debate on the fractious subject.

Najib is the second PM to take a strong stand against hudud, after fourth prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had blocked Kelantan’s attempts to implement the Islamic laws in the state.

Najib’s Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, recently expressed support for hudud earlier this week, upsetting Umno’s Chinese partner MCA.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has threatened pull his party out of the ruling coalition if senior ally, Umno, goes ahead with enforcing hudud. Gerakan has expressed the same threat.

Taking the fight to enemy territory

BN supremo Najib Tun Razak is leading the charge in the political battle but he is not gettting support from his allies.

KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Tun Razak is on the offensive – the prime minister has gone down to the grassroots to make his case and at the same hitting out at the opposition.

najib bn SPRFor the last two years, he has borne the brunt of the opposition onslaught on him – ranging from his personal life to the policies he had mooted and implemented.

Now he is taking the battle to the enemy territory and his intense “campaigning” has sparked strong speculation that the 13th general election is just around the corner.

Since taking over the helm of the nation in April 2009 from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib had straightened out and strengthened Umno, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).

The party has postponed its election this year to next year, a move aimed at staying united before the next general election. In many past instances, Umno has always been plagued with internal feud immediately after the party elections.

With Umno now united and strong, Najib feels more confident to lead the party in the “political war” against Pakatan Rakyat. Already, he has set his mind on taking back Selangor despite the state Umno being divided into three factions – each wanting its leader to be the next menteri besar if the Barisan Nasional succeeds.

Najib is not about to announce who he would pick to head the state if BN succeeds, as this would create more division and disgruntlement. Although Umno appears to be united, any wrong move by the prime minister could create unnecessary rift.

However, Najib’s main worry is still the Chinese-based parties in the ruling coalition – MCA and Gerakan.

Worries for Najib

MCA under Dr Chua Soi Lek has been making all the appropriate noises in its bid to champion the Chinese cause, at times taking on a racial overtone. But the party has yet to regain the confidence of the Chinese community.

The Chinese abandoned the party in 2008 and until today it has yet to return, which is causing a lot of worries to Najib.

Hence, Najib is going to war in Selangor with only Umno following him while MCA leaders can only show moral support without the backing of the Chinese community.

MCA won only two state seats in Selangor in 2008 and has yet to recover from its devastating show. Najib expects MCA to do its work fast as the momentum for the coming general election picks up.

Najib needs Chinese votes to carry him through his plan to wrest back Selangor but MCA is not making things easier for him.

Gerakan, on the other hand, is a lost cause. The party has yet to pick up the pieces since it lost Penang and all the seats it contested in the 2008 general election.

To help Najib in the “Selangor offensive” is out of the question. Gerakan is currently facing internal turmoil, with members calling on their president Koh Ksu Koon to step down.

The internal feud in Gerakan is not about to end anytime soon or in the near future, thus putting the party out of action in the Selangor offensive.

Core issue

Umno and its BN partners have still not got over the 2008 electoral whacking it received from Pakatan allies – PAS, DAP and PKR – which grabbed Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor, and retained Kelantan. It also nearly took Negri Sembilan.

However, BN succeeded in taking back Perak when three Pakatan assemblymen crossed over to become independents. But the defections did not mean the voters have swung back to the BN camp. It is only the assemblymen who came over, and not the voters.

Then Pakatan leaders in the states they ruled began highlighting the weaknesses of the previous BN administrations, forgetting that they were elected to rule the states and develop them.

While the Pakatan-ruled states were busy searching for issues to keep the amber of “hatred towards BN” burning, Najib began introducing policies to bring back confidence to the BN.

He launched the economic transformation plans, followed by political reforms. He amended some of his policies to accommodate the wishes of some dissatisfied quarters.

Najib has succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the young and new voters through the cyber medium, the vehicle the youths have been using to communicate and exchange views and debate issues with him.

Najib succeeded in directly addressing and debating with them the core issue that matters to them – the future of the nation through education.

He has also succeeded in regaining the trust and confidence of the business community through his economic reforms, which are based on merit rather than on Malay privileges.

Najib is fighting a lone battle and whatever support he can muster – be it from Umno or any other party in the coalition – can be considered a bonus for his efforts.

Is MCA in a better position to face GE?

By Alan Ting LUMPUR: Come Oct 2, the MCA will hold its 58th annual general meeting (AGM), an important general assembly to be attended by party members and delegates, before it heads towards the 13th general election (GE).

No doubt, the second largest Barisan Nasional (BN) component is more stable and its leadership more focused on efforts to rebuild the party after two turbulent years, following the party’s worst-ever performance in the last general election in 2008.

However, questions abound as to whether MCA is really in a better position to face the next general election.

Party grassroots leaders such as Selangor MCA Public Complaints Bureau chairman Theng Book believes this is so.

He reasoned that people are generally satisfied that MCA is more stable and accomodating under current party president Dr Chua Soi Lek’s leadership.

“So far, I have not met anyone complain about Chua. They are quite OK, with the people saying he is capable. He has done his part, now it is up to the Chinese community to decide. I personally feel, under the current situation, when the party is facing internal and external threats, he (Chua) is the best person to handle (such situations).

“We are not saying that under Ong Ka Ting, it was not okay. Under the current situation, Chua is the best person to handle (whatever pressing issues) while the immediate past president (Ong Tee Keat ) was acting more like the opposition,” he said.

Ka Ting was MCA president from 2006 until October 2008 while Tee Keat was at the party helm from October 2008 until March last year before he was succeeded by Chua, through a fresh party election to end the leadership crisis.

No logic

Theng said there was no logic to the notion that MCA would be wiped out in the next GE as the fact remained that opposition party DAP could not accept the more Islamisation approach taken by PAS, its partner in the opposition pact.

“If anyone says that MCA is going to close shop in the GE, that person is either a supporter or member of the opposition party. If you look at what they have done, so far, in some states under their control, many people are also frustrated as they were given false hopes,” he said.

Political analyst Dr Chin Yew Sing, who heads the Oriental Strategy Research centre, a think-tank under the Federation of Chinese Associations of Malaysia (Huazhong), also believed the party was in a better position to face the next GE.

He said MCA had become more agressive and vocal in voicing out issues related to the Chinese community.

“Whether it can be solved or not, is another matter, altogether. People know that issues can’t be resolved overnight. Whether MCA is effective or not, also very much depends on how Barisan Nasional handles the issues. BN lost in 2008, not because of the opposition, but because of themselves,” he said.

However, he said, MCA and BN were now seen to be working together to address some issues such as corruption, crimes and human rights issues, as well as funding for Chinese schools, as the government had introduced transformation plans.

Centre for Strategic Engagement co-founder Rita Sim said MCA appeared to be more stable under its “war-time president” Chua, who had come up with several good initiatives such as 1MCA medical fund and 1MCA scholarship, targeted at ordinary people.

“He works very hard on the ground. Whether it works or not, no one can be sure until the next general election. Certainly, if they (MCA) don’t do anything, it would be even worse. MCA has wasted a lot of time due to the internal fighting,” she said, adding that MCA’s performance also depended on issues the voters faced near the election, as well as the mood of the voters at
the time of the election.

Negative perception

However, Monash University political analyst James Chin does not believe the MCA is in a better position to face the GE as the party still faced internal problems, but concealed the split by presenting a united front in the run-up to the GE.

“Although Chua is seen to be moving on the ground and trying his best to revive the party, the bigger issue is how to select candidates for the general election. The split is still there.

“I believe the split will surface again when many are jockeying and lobbying for seats, closer to the election,” he said.

Besides, he said, MCA was also facing difficulties to win back the tough urban constituencies which were known to be opposition strongholds as the party still suffered negative perception.

Meanwhile, Sim pointed out that the urban seats had always been difficult for MCA, but believed, should BN be able to improve the result even by a small margin, it would favour the coalition in the overall result.

“Even during the best years, the level of support for MCA in these seats was only between 35 and 38 percent. During Pak Lah’s (former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) “feel good” general election in 2004, the support even went below 30 percent. Now, it is only about 20-25 percent.”If they (MCA) can get back between four and five percent, the result will certainly be better as many seats were lost, with the majority of less than 2,000 votes. If you can cut opposition support by between four and five percent in these constituencies, it could tip the balance,” she said.

The focus is not just on the Chinese voters, but also on Indian and Malay voters as a little increase of support from these two groups would contribute to better results for BN.

Another analyst, Khaw Veon Szu, explained there was no political party that could consolidate its members 100 percent.

“If you can get 60-70 percent, it is considered very good as you can do a lot of things.”

Nevertheless, there are some political analysts who believe MCA is not getting the right approach.

A Penang-based political analyst at the Han Chiang College, Chech See Kian, believes that MCA fights for party survival, instead of focusing on the people’s aspirations.

“For example, when they said MCA leaders would not take up Cabinet posts if they lost in the next general election… this is not good. You have to tell the people that you want to do more, not just maintain the status-quo. MCA must change its strategy, to be more sincere and focus on the people. Put the people first, not the party,” he said.


The four-letter word called SEX

So the state religious authority can actually be called ‘The Department of Anti-Illicit Sex’. It is not actually a religious department. It is an anti-illicit sex department. Millions of Ringgit of your taxpayers’ money is spent to employ thousands of officers whose job is to make sure that you only bonk your wife, and from the front, and no one else other than that and not from any other position other than the front.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Sex video allegations ‘cruel’, says Customs DG
(The Malaysian Insider) - Customs’ chief said there was no proof its officer was in a sex video recently unveiled by pro-Umno bloggers, adding it’s “cruel” to link it to Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed’s death.
“Although the blog clearly showed sexual acts, until today there has been no further information over who was involved. As such, it cannot be conclusively said that it involved a Customs staff,” Customs director-general Datuk Seri Mohamed Khalid Yusuf said in an SMS response to The Malaysian Insider
“Linking the sex act to Sarbaini’s case, which I cannot even see the link, is a cruel act and an irresponsible one, if it seeks to humiliate a person who has died,” he added.
If there was proof, then Khalid said the evidence should be passed to the police, not revealed in public.
Earlier this week, Umno-linked blogs released a video in an apparent attempt to tarnish the reputation of Customs officers ahead of Monday’s verdict in the Sarbaini inquest.
The video — which appears to have been secretly recorded — shows a Malay man engaging in sex with a Caucasian woman in what looks like a hotel room.
Umno-linked blog was the first to release the video, claiming the man in the recording was a Customs officer while suggesting the woman was a Russian prostitute.
The man in the video is not named, but the blogger links the recording, which is titled “Pegawai Kastam Yang Terlampau,” to the senior Customs officer’s death while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) earlier this year.
When all else fails, raise allegations of sexual misconduct. It works every time. When they wanted to bring down Anwar Ibrahim in 1998, they did this. Why not raise allegations of abuse of power or corruption involving contracts, projects, shares, etc? I am sure they can find many instances where friends and even family members of Anwar were recipients of government ‘favours’.
Every Barisan Nasional politician (and/or their friends/family members) benefited from some form of government handout. I know of many instances where those close to both Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar benefited from being close or related to the Prime Minister/Deputy Prime Minister.
It would not be that hard to find at least one instance where Anwar can be said to have abused his position to enrich his friend or family member. I personally know of some, although I will not mention them or else there will be allegations made against me that I have been bought, have turned, am a Trojan Horse, etc. Anwar can do no wrong so I better not say he did if I value my life.
Rahim Thambi Chik, the one-time Chief Minister of Melaka, was absolutely corrupt. There would be scores of instances where he was involved in corruption to the tune of hundreds of millions. But it was the ONE allegation of sexual misconduct and not the 50 cases of corruption that brought him down.
Mat Sabu and Ahmad Sarbaini (the Customs Officer who died at the hands of the MACC) are now being smeared by sexual misconduct allegations as well. Why sexual misconduct and not something else? Because allegations of sexual misconduct works every time and has never failed thus far to bring someone down.
Even if all these people are sexually promiscuous, so what? Even if they are gay or bi-sexual, so what? Even if they do poke their peckers into all and sundry and bonk all over the place, so what? How does it affect me personally? In what way do I suffer? Do I lose anything? Does the country lose anything? Will it bring the country to bankruptcy? Will the country’s economy collapse? Are the taxpayers paying for it?
Yes, what is it that does affect me personally? In what way would I suffer? In what way do I lose? In what way does the country lose? What is it that will bring the country to bankruptcy? In what way will the country’s economy collapse? In what way will the taxpayers pay?
All the above, and more, will happen only when the country is mismanaged and the country’s wealth is plundered by those who walk in the corridors of power. Other than that, neither the country nor I suffer in any way -- even if those who walk in the corridors of power indulge in orgies every weekend.
So, why this fixation on sex rather than on how the country is being mismanaged and on how the country’s wealth is being plundered? Well, because most Malaysians don’t care a damn about important issues. Most Malaysians are kay poh. They only want to know who is bonking whom and whether from the front or from the back.
That’s Malaysians for you.
So they raise allegations of sexual misconduct and use this to bring their adversary down. And that is why the deceased Customs Officer is now being smeared by the Umno Blogs.
Initially, he was said to have been involved in a multi-billion racket. Then it was reduced to a mere few hundreds of millions. Now it is sex with a woman who is not his wife. The last minor allegation -- though of no impact to me, you, or the nation -- is the sure formula for success.
I suppose, to the Chinese, this type of allegation would not matter. In fact, it can even enhance your chances of becoming the party president. If Chua Soi Lek can arrange for 100 more DVDs to be released showing him in various Kamasutra positions, he might even go on to become the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. But to the Malays, this is taboo. This will bring you down if you are Malay.
Why are Malays so fixated with that four-letter word, sex? I am not a sociology or anthropology student but it is not that difficult to analyse the Malay mind. Let me very briefly tell you why (hey, can I get a PhD for this?).
Let’s look at the current controversy raging in Malaysia with regards to the Islamic law of Hudud. Hudud is actually one of many laws under the Shariah and involves what can be considered as serious crimes under Islam. These are crimes such as robbery, rebellion, murder, etc., plus allegations of sexual misconduct.
Yes, that right, the allegation of sexual misconduct is amongst the serious crimes such as robbery, rebellion and murder. In fact, Islam regards false allegations (fitnah) as worse than murder (the taking of a human life).
Amongst the seven serious crimes stipulated under Hudud is the crime of alleging that a woman is immoral. If the allegation is true and can be proven -- or can be supported by the testimony of witnesses (or a video/photograph, which can be taken as evidence) -- then the punishment is very severe. Some say she must be whipped with 100 lashes. Some say she should be whipped with 100 lashes only if she is not married. If she is married then she should be stoned to death. And if the accuser can’t prove the allegation, then the accuser should be whipped with 80 lashes instead.
So you see, allegations of sexual misconduct sit way up there amongst the sevens serious crimes in Islam. Racism, persecution, discrimination, corruption, abuse of power, abuse of public funds, spending tens of millions of the taxpayers’ money for your wife’s shopping sprees, cruelty to animals, and many more are not serious crimes covered by Hudud. Making false allegations of sexual misconduct is.
So Malays, being Muslims, have been brought up with this mindset. There is nothing more serious than allegations of sexual misconduct. Racism, persecution, discrimination, corruption, abuse of power, abuse of public funds, spending tens of millions of the taxpayers’ money for your wife’s shopping sprees, cruelty to animals, etc., are not serious crimes.  An allegation of sexual misconduct is!
This is why you see all these allegations being made. Malays are fixated with sex. Everything is about sex. The Malay mind is submerged in sex.
If you still don’t think so, let us look at the Shariah courts. What do the Shariah courts deal with other than family matters and matters such as eating during the month of Ramadhan when you should be fasting? Why, sex, of course.
The state religious authorities conduct raids to catch people indulging in illicit sex. Do the state religious authorities conduct raids to catch people involved in racism, persecution, discrimination, corruption, abuse of power, abuse of public funds, spending tens of millions of the taxpayers’ money for your wife’s shopping sprees, cruelty to animals, etc? Of course not! They do not care about all that. They only care about those people indulging in illicit sex.
So the state religious authority can actually be called ‘The Department of Anti-Illicit Sex’. It is not actually a religious department. It is an anti-illicit sex department. Millions of Ringgit of your taxpayers’ money is spent to employ thousands of officers whose job is to make sure that you only bonk your wife, and from the front, and no one else other than that and not from any other position other than the front.
Sounds pathetic, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it IS pathetic.
So now do you understand the Malay mind? And this is why all these allegations of sexual misconduct are surfacing. It is because of the way the Malays have been brought up and because of how they have been educated.
The Malay mind can be summarised in just three words -- sex, sex, sex!
Have I upset some Malays? Well, I hope so. I intend to upset them.

'Replace OSA with new law'

The New Straits Times
by Lydia Gomez

KUALA LUMPUR: The Official Secrets Act (OSA) should be reviewed and replaced by a more balanced law to protect government secrets and the people's right to information.

National Union of Journalists general secretary V. Anbalagan said the union was firm in its view that the mandatory jail term in the act should be replaced with only a fine.

He said the OSA was an obsolete law that prevented journalists from performing their duties on matters of public interest.

"This act carries a jail term and journalists are supposed to report on matters of public interest. 

"The definition of an official secret is also vague and subjective." 

Anbalagan said certain classified information about the country and its leaders was already exposed through whistleblower sites like WikiLeaks.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently announced that the Internal Security Act would be abolished and two new laws would be introduced to safeguard peace and order. 

He also said the government would repeal the Banishment Act 1959, while a comprehensive study would be carried out on the Restricted Residence Act 1993 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 where annual renewals would be done away with, and replaced with the issuance of licence until it was revoked.

Former New Straits Times journalist Sabry Sharif, the first local journalist to be convicted under the OSA in 1985 for a news report on alleged irregularities in a defence contract awarded by the Royal Malaysian Air Force, said the use of the OSA would only victimise journalists.

Sabry, 53, who had served the NST between 1981 and 1998, said the law did not recognise the need for journalists to seek the truth.

"I think all journalists should ask for the OSA to be reviewed if the government wants to curb abuse and if they are advocating transparency in government.

"The review of laws should be done in a holistic manner.

"I think editors and journalists should be allowed to do their jobs without fear," he said.

Centre for Independent Journalism programme officer Chuah Siew Eng said the OSA prevented journalists from fulfilling three important journalistic principles: their obligation to tell the truth, their loyalty to citizens in matters of public interest and their role as an independent monitor of the ruling power.

"The wide powers given to the executive in classifying any information as secret, even beyond the reach of judicial scrutiny, makes the law open to abuse. 

"It has no place in the best democracy that the prime minister envisions for Malaysia.

"It should instead be replaced by another law to allow the right to information, which would balance the need to protect government secrets and the people's right to information.

"And by encouraging a culture of transparency and openness in public bodies, it will serve as a first check against corruption and abuse of power," she said.

Old Penang: Weld Quay

As you can see, Penang once had a decent public transport system.

Trolleybus No. 36 passing by the Railway Jetty at Weld Quay - Photograph from Ric Francis, also published in his book Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways
Thanks to Ric for this photo from the 1950s. Click on the photo to view a full-screen version.
Here you can see a trolleybus passing by the Railway Jetty along Weld Quay. The Railway Jetty was located at the site of the present-day Church Street Pier. You can see a newspaper vendor and money-changer at the entrance to the Jetty.
Trolleybuses, ferries and trishaws and not a car in sight. People used to buy a train ticket at the KTM office on the island and then hop on a ferry to the Prai Junction railway station, where they could board the trains. The two ferries shuttling to Prai in the early 1950s were known as ‘Elizabeth II’ and ‘Victoria’, recalled a senior citizen. According to him, the trolley buses and tram cars were a major attraction for visitors to Penang. “It felt as if we were entering a foreign land.”
The present railway station in Butterworth was only opened in 1967.
Unfortunately, the state government is now taking the regressive step of catering for private motor vehicles with all the road infrastructure projects in the pipeline.
If you have any other old photos to share of places and people of interest, do send them to me. (See ‘Submit photos’ link at the top of the page.)

Behold – Najib & Rosmah’s idea of what a ‘do away with protocol’ bus ride is like

For the first time in his nationwide tour, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and entourage boarded a bus plying to attend programmes in Perak.
“It used to be by car but this time we board the bus to meet the people. I want to feel what its like to do away with protocol.
“There must be no barrier to separate leaders and the people,” he said at his first event
Great!! I’m sure there’s a photo out there somewhere showing our beloved PM experiencing what everyday rakyat experience, having to take public transport…..

Sigh. Najib old boy, if you wanted to ‘do away with protocol’ and experience what the rakyat experience, the photo would have been more like this:

Haihz. (And I mention this only because it came up in the google image searches), maybe we should just be thankful he’s not going around on buses doing this: