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Thursday, September 29, 2011

US confronts Pak with evidences of ISI's terror links

The recent attack on its embassy in Kabul, says US,
crossed all limits.
Washington:  The US confronted Pakistan with "concrete evidences" of links between the ISI and extremist organisations like the Haqqani network and LeT, before it launched a frontal attack on the spy agency for its terror ties, Pentagon officials have said.

"They (ISI) provide financial support (to extremist organisations). It provides technical support. It provides physical support. They (Pak officials) are allowing the safe heavens to operate," a defence official told PTI on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Another defence department official said that Pentagon has been providing such evidences to Pakistan "since ages" but it is only after the recent attack on a hotel in Kabul and the US Embassy in Kabul that this crossed all limits and the Defence Department decided to go public.

But the senior defence official maintained that these evidences gives concrete proof of the relationship between ISI and the extremist organisations including Haqqani network and LeT.

The senior defence official familiar with it refused from giving further details of the type of evidences that the US has provided to Pakistan, based on which Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a key Congressional committee, last week that the Haqqani network "acts as a veritable arm" of Pakistan's ISI.

Officials said Mullen shared his thoughts and text of his remarks with Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, before he went to make such a strong comment against Pakistan in a public hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

1 mil ‘anti-Interlok’ CDs to be printed

The objective, says NIAT chairman Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim, is to get the message across to all Malaysians.

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Interlok Action Team (NIAT) has come up with a new plan to remove the controversial novel from schools.

NIAT steering committee chairman Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim said one million CDs will be printed and distributed nationwide to give the people the true picture of Interlok.

“Our objective is to get the message across to all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or political affliation,” he told FMT.

“We are now confronted with a new danger – ethnic characterisation. Introducing Interlok as compulsory reading material for SPM students will take these students back 100 years,” he added.

He also said that Interlok, penned by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, would damage the respect between the different races in the country.

Last year, the novel was included in the secondary school syllabus for the Malay Literature subject as compulsory reading for Form Five students in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan.

However, MIC, Gerakan and Pakatan Rakyat urged Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to ban the book because it contained disparaging racial remarks.

In January, the Education Ministry agreed to withdraw the books from schools pending amendments but several quarters demanded a total ban.

‘Novel insults all races’

According to Thasleem, Interlok contained insults against the Indians, Malays and Chinese.
“For example, the novel has words such as ‘India Pariah’, ‘Melayu Malas’, ‘Cina Kuai’, ‘perempuan totok’, ‘babi’ and ‘syaitan putih’…,” he said.

Apart from this, he said the book also contained unhealthy elements such as pre-marital cohabitation, infidelity, spirit worship, trading in humans and much more.

Citing Muhyiddin’s statement that the novel was introduced to forge racial ties, Thasleem said that while the intention was noble, the wrong tool was being used for this purpose.

“The novel would only create more suspicion among the races, reinforce stereotypes and distrust. The moral of the story is that the Malays are lazy, the Chinese are liars, who hate Malays and will do anything for money, while the Indians are of low-caste and an inferior race,” he added.

Thasleem also noted that the novel failed to meet the criteria set by the Textbook Department in the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka’s Education Philosophy and Literature Department.

“Our research shows that the book failed to meet at least five guidelines,” he said.

‘Muslims must support ban’

Thasleem also urged Muslims to support the call for the book to be banned since its contents went against the teachings of Islam.

“As a Muslim, I am saddened that Interlok has become a literature textbook,” he said, adding that the Quran clearly indicated that such things should not happen in Islamic countries with regard to building human capital.

Thasleem revealed that he wrote a letter to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom and to the muftis of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan, to seek clarification if the novel went against Islamic teachings.

“Till today, none of them have replied which means they agree with my findings that the novel is against Islamic concepts,” he added.

Elaborating on the CDs, Thasleem said the editing process was underway. The 12-minute CD would include speeches of politicians and NGO leaders on the matter.

“We are forced to print the CDs since the federal government has not listened to our grouses,” he said, adding that letters sent to the prime minister, deputy prime minister, director-general of the Education Department were ignored.

Thasleem also denied that the CDs would be used as campaign material for Pakatan Rakyat in the coming general election.

The benefits of English-medium national-type schools

The benefits of English-medium national-type schools, which are vital to our country’s future, are crystal clear.

By Lan Boon Leong

It was reported in the press last month that the Education Ministry is sticking by its decision to abolish the PPSMI policy of teaching and learning Science and Mathematics in English.

The abolishment of the policy means that the two subjects will be taught solely in Bahasa Malaysia in the national schools, and solely in Mandarin or Tamil in the national-type schools.

The Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi said he and many other academics believe the two subjects need to be taught in the students’ mother tongues.

UNESCO, in fact, advocates mother-tongue education for all subjects because studies have shown that children learn better in their mother tongue.

However, mother-tongue education, although desirable, will make the national and national-type schools even more ethnically polarized than they are today.

Moreover, there are many Malaysian children of diverse ethnic background – Malays included – whose mother tongue or first language is English.

But there are presently no English-medium national-type schools to accommodate them. These children are academically disadvantaged compared to their peers whose mother tongue is Bahasa Malaysia or Mandarin or Tamil.

The solution to these two problems – ethnic segregation and linguistic inequity – is obvious: the government needs to add English-medium national-type schools to our national school system.

These schools will clearly not be attended solely by English-speaking Malaysian children. Many parents of children whose mother tongue is not English would also send their children to these schools because they understand the importance of English for their children’s future.

Convert nation schools

English-medium national-type schools will therefore have a much better ethnic mix of students than the Mandarin or Tamil counterparts and the national schools, and thus able to foster ethnic harmony unlike our present schools.

Furthermore, children whose mother tongue is not English who attend these schools should be more proficient in English.

These benefits of English-medium national-type schools, which are vital to our country’s future, are crystal clear.

So what is stopping the government from establishing them? It is not difficult to do so – we could start simply by converting some national schools, particularly the mission schools, to English-medium ones.

If you are a Malaysian parent who is in favor of the establishment of English-medium national-type schools, please vote at and join PENS (Parents for English-medium National-type Schools) at!/groups/PENSmember/ to help recruit more members.

If we do not push for English-medium national-type schools, they will never be established. But if our collective voice through votes is loud enough, there is at least a possibility. Vote and campaign for your children’s future!

Lan Boon Leong is an Associate Professor at Monash University Sunway Campus.

Stay out of NS, Mat Sabu warned

Perkasa says that if Mat Sabu attends any ceramah in the state, they will again stage protests.

SEREMBAN: If Perkasa has its way, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu will be persona non grata in Negeri Sembilan.

The state Perkasa will be watching very closely to see if Mohamad Sabu (popularly known as Mat Sabu) will be attending any PAS ceramah in the state in the near future.

Its state president Mohd Noor Nordin Abdullah said if he turns up, Perkasa will stage a protest.

Mohd Noor Nordin said they are not against PAS but only against Mat Sabu.

“As long as Mat Sabu attends any ceramah sessions in any part of Negeri Sembilan, we will stage protests unless he apologizes to the families of the policemen who died during the Bukit Kepong incident,” he said.

The controversy surrounding the Bukit Kepong incident came about when Mat Sabu had allegedly defended communist fighters who attacked the Bukit Kepong police station on Feb 23, 1950.

Utusan Malaysia, in its report on Aug 27, said Mat Sabu, in a speech on Aug 21, hailed communist fighters as heroes and not the 17 policemen who died during an exchange of fire.

“He also must publicly apologize to servicemen as most of them are hurt by his remarks,” said Mohd Noor Nordin.

On another note, Mohd Noor Nordin denied that the protest at Ampangan last Saturday was pre-planned.

“It was a spontaneous protest by certain individuals who represent former soldiers and NGOs.

“I was only told about the protest at 7.30 pm and at that point of the time I was at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)”, said Mohd Noor Nordin.

Yesterday FMT reported that the state PAS will be inviting Mat Sabu again for another ceramah session next month in Seremban.

The hudud hubbub

By Kapil Sethi (TMI)

 SEPT 29 — Has PAS decided it is better to continue ruling a state or two than take a shot at running the country and maybe lose a state or two? It certainly looks like it when Nik Aziz Nik Mat reiterates his insistence on turning Kelantan into a medieval caliphate, complete with gibbets, stoning and amputations.

But why is the issue of implementation of hudud, which is after all a part of wider sharia, such an emotive issue that it has the potential to dramatically affect electoral fortunes? Why are the likes of Mahathir Mohamad, Chua Soi Lek, Nik Aziz, Lim Guan Eng and Karpal Singh so invested in this issue to issue rapid fire statements in this regard?

There are significant differences of opinion not only between PR and BN, but internally too between Umno and the MCA, and between the DAP and PAS.

Clearly while the image of Malaysian Islam is at stake, the issue goes beyond being an internal Muslim community debate. At its core it is actually a debate between liberals and conservatives, tradition and modernity, regression and progress, and the state versus the individual.

While the concept and principles of hudud may be relatively benign, it is the eye-catching nature of the punishments that distort perception. Logically, is there a big difference in hanging people or beheading them, or between flogging people behind bars or in public?

The conflict arises because in the Western paradigm of progress, justice must shift broadly from a retributive to a rehabilitative paradigm. Therefore, the increasing anger in the developed world over the execution of convicts.

In a broad sense the liberal worldview sees itself as focused on individual liberty and as such humane, reformist and modern, and conservatives as barbaric, retributive and medieval.

The conservative worldview equally believes in the primacy of social good and that the modern condition of an absence of shared values is leading to a soulless world plagued by rising crime, greed and anarchy, the solution to which is in a return to original guiding principles that fostered social cohesion in an earlier time.

Therefore, the perception of the nature and impact of hudud depends on how well these differing worldviews mirror our own.

Conservatives, whether Muslim or otherwise, feel much more comfortable with the status quo than with change. In an era of rapid technological driven change and rising economic uncertainty, they look for reassurance in that which is perceived as timeless such as traditional occupations, traditional social and familial bonds, and traditional spirituality and religion.

For this group the answers to the problems of modernity are all around in a past based on a set of unchanging values, whether it is caning our children if they break the rules or in chopping off the hands of those who steal.

Liberals on the other hand want to deal with the uncertainties of modernity by advocating even more change. Broadly in Malaysia, this seems to boil down to the advocacy of reform in every sphere.

Reform the police to reduce crime, reform the government to save the people and reform children through love. While we are at it why not just a general slogan of Reformasi?

But for a lot of everyday people the boundaries are not so clear cut. Especially in urban areas, people are forced to juggle the tightrope of both tradition and modernity.

The reaction to the very cosmopolitan demands of urban public life is often a retreat into tradition in our private lives. English at work and the vernacular at home, foreign holidays and balik kampung, respect for other races and faiths in public and looking down on them at home — these contradictions are real and present in what is termed Middle Malaysia.

This is why every politician recognises the power of this issue. Are rural voters who are comfortable with tradition more important the urban voters who have given up on the past in the quest for a brighter future?

Or is it the large mass of people in between who handle these apparently contradictory philosophies quite easily in their daily lives the most important?

So advocating an Islamic state may be a no brainer in Kelantan, as is advocating developed nation status in 2020 in Kenny Hills, but what about ordinary people who want a combination of both?

For Middle Malaysia, the answer may lie in espousing the middle ground. Is there a way to hold on to what is best in Malaysian tradition, culture and faith in a way that does not make Malaysia look out of step with the developed world?

Is there an interpretation and vision of sharia law that does not make moderate Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia feel like they are beginning to resemble Afghanistan under the Taliban? Is there an interpretation of hudud within sharia that allows for a marriage between traditional Islamic jurisprudence with the modernist notion of punishment that emphasises rehabilitation rather than revenge?

Finally, the benchmark to measure the desirability of any kind of change to the justice system should be whether the change narrows the differences between Malaysians of different philosophical and spiritual persuasions instead of raising mistrust.

In this instance the prime minister seems to have gotten it right when he says the spirit of hudud is already present in Malaysian sharia law, without its extremes.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

The lazy country

Lazy people should be made to bear the consequences of their own doings. Greece is not the only lazy state on this planet.

By Tay Tian Yan (MySinchew)

The menace that Greece poses to the world today is comparable to the threats of Alexander the Great to conquer the world 2,000 years ago.

Alexander the Great launched his tireless assaults across thousands of miles of terrain, much to the fright of the world.

Today, the self-destructive Greeks are taking global finance system for a ride, and vows to trample stock markets worldwide. The trumpets heralding an imminent downturn of global proportions chill the bones of many.

Two millennia ago, the Greek troops scourged a vast mass of land stretching all the way to India, but the debt crisis of modern-day Greece has a spillover effect that easily wraps up the entire planet.

Just as governments across the world are cracking their heads to seek workable solutions to fix Greece's problems, and entrepreneurs and investors lamed under the mounting pressure thanks to the debt crisis of the Mediterranean state, the Greeks respond by holding one after another street parties.

Greece's transport workers, civil servants, teachers, etc. take to the street for massive strikes, which are pretty common in that country, some having their dates scheduled all the way to next month.

The objective of the demonstrations and strikes is to protest against the government's decision to trim wages, pensions, benefits and subsidies as well as an intention to perk up taxes.

The measures adopted by the Greek government have been made to satisfy the demands of IMF and other creditors. Their rationale is straightforward: Greece needs to fix its own house before it can secure foreign assistance.

The Greek economy has headed downhill since its admission into the Eurozone club. Nevertheless, the government has remained lavishly generous and its people addicted to all the benefits and enjoyments befitting the people of a developed state.

Everyone wants a comfortable life, and the government has to issue bonds to meet their needs so that they can continue with their extravagant lives and the government continues to get a ticket to rule.

As such, the government hires a multitude of civil servants. One in ten employed Greeks draws his salary from the national coffers, complete with all the perks.

In addition to easy work, they can advance their retirement benefits after they turn 40. In the event they pass away, their children can inherit the annuities.

The private sector is just as lucrative. The government continues to fork out medical subsidies, education, food and accommodation bills. You don't need to worry about the taxes, for the enormous underground economy offers a way out for tax evaders through bribes.

Over the decades, Greece has evolved into a Lazy Country, where the people are unproductive, the government incapable and the country uncompetitive.

When the mountain of debts begins to fall apart and all the prosperity turns into bubbles, the people remain recalcitrant with their good old life.

They would rather take to the street than to soberly accept a more simplistic and thrifty lifestyle. They believe they can go on with the good life by holding on to the Euro Big Brother Germany or holding the world for ransom.

But, the world has already got sick of Greece. Many economists feel that Greece should be thrown out of the Eurozone, or allowed to go bankrupt. Only utter destruction could give Greece a ray of hope for regeneration.

Lazy people should be made to bear the consequences of their own doings. Greece is not the only lazy state on this planet.

Pakatan: Hudud only if all parties agree

Anwar said PR will continue to allow its members to air different views. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) agreed today that the contentious hudud or Islamic criminal law is not part of its joint policy until all parties agree to it, stepping back from the brink of a major difference that broke an earlier opposition coalition.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a press conference just after midnight that the set of Islamic laws was “certainly now not PR policy and DAP’s objection has to be respected.”

“Yes, very clear, it has to be together,” the PKR de facto leader replied to a question on whether any move to implement hudud would need the unanimous agreement of all three parties in the pact.

He had earlier backed imposing the law in Kelantan, just like political foe Umno whose former leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dredged up the issue last week.

Close to 30 top PR leaders had met for over three hours last night to resolve the longstanding hudud issue which has seen the DAP and PAS repeatedly at loggerheads.

Dr Mahathir, who opposed hudud when Kelantan passed the law in 1993, dared Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the state’s mentri besar, to implement hudud now that the country’s longest-serving prime minister was no longer in power.

The PAS spiritual leader then called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to propose amendments to the federal constitution to allow the Islamic law, which prescribes stoning, whipping and amputation as punishment for criminal offences.

But the DAP has insisted that it is not part of PR’s common policy, leading to the three-year-old pact’s unity being questioned.

Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng vowed this week that his entire central leadership would resign their posts if hudud became part of the coalition’s joint stand.

PR issued a gag order earlier this week, barring their members from speaking on the issue until the pact’s emergency meeting last night.

Anwar also said PR will continue to allow its members to air different views but that no policy would become part of its common platform without the consensus of all.

“Why must PAS be denied the right to articulate their views? We cannot deny the right of any party to bring forward any view. PR respects PAS’s initiative and aspiration but we have to reach a consensus,” the former deputy prime minister said.

He added that he could not understand “why (hudud) cannot be discussed? Why the strong abhorrence?”

The Permatang Pauh MP also said that the hudud enactments that were passed in PAS-ruled Kelantan and Terengganu in 1993 and 2003 respectively were done before PR had been formed.

Anwar said that “both enactments are there, but it requires PR consensus and an amendment to the constitution. DAP is not supportive of that particular position.”

Bersih can challenge order, rules court

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has allowed the Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee to challenge the Home Minister’s order declaring the movement as an unlawful society.

High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Rohana Yusuf granted the committee leave to initiate a judicial review application.

Justice Rohana, however, dismissed the committee’s application for leave to get an order prohibiting the Home Minister, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and their officers from entering and searching any of their premises as well as seizing any property belonging to them.

The judge also rejected the committee’s application for leave to get an order directing the minister and/or IGP to release to the applicants all T-shirts, placards, newspapers, books, circulars, pictorial representations, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, proclamations, accounts, banners, list of members, seals, and related documents bearing the logo and words of Bersih 2.0 seized from them.

Justice Rohana refused a preliminary objection raised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers that the applicants have no legal rights to institute the action against the Government and two others.

The judge made the order after meeting the parties in chambers yesterday.

Committee chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the court also granted leave to them to alternatively seek a declaration that the minister’s order was invalid.

Justice Rohana has set Nov 22 to hear merits of the judicial review application.

Senior federal counsel Datuk Kamaluddin Said said he would seek further instructions from the Attorney-General on whether to appeal the court ruling.

Ambiga and 13 others filed the application for leave to quash the July 1 order, made under Section 5 of the Societies Act declaring the movement as an unlawful society.

The Home Minister, IGP and the Government have been named as respondents in the application filed on July 8.

In a statement, Ambiga welcomed the High Court decision to allow the movement to challenge the Home Minister’s order.

She said it was “absolutely vital” in a democratic society that citizens, affected by executive powers, to be given the opportunity to challenge them fairly in court.

Rosmah, melumur garam di atas luka

Rosmah, melumur garam di atas lukaWanita Pertama Negara Rosmah Mansor kembali lagi. Kali ini, imej mewah yang ditonjolkan membuat rakyat golongan bawah merasa terhina. Bak kata pepatah, orang berkeringat, dia berhibur. Orang membanting, dia bersantai. Bila membayar, orang lain yang kena!
“Ia bagaikan melumur garam di atas luka,” kata Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia – SAMM pada Mesyuarat Agung Kebangsaan mereka baru-baru ini yang mana kehadiran ramai penggiat NGO Anak Muda itu dari seluruh negara.

Sesungguhnya, isteri Perdana Menteri Najib Razak, 60, perlu meyakinkan rakyat segenap lapisan takala dilihat bermewah-mewahan tanpa rasa bersalah. Samada suaminya masih memegang tampuk kuasa negara atau tidak selepas PRU-13, pentadbirannya akan dikenang sebagai yang paling banyak berbelanja, pembaziran yang mengundang masalah kepada diri sendiri.

“Tidak ada sesiapa pun yang menginginkan Rosmah gering, tetapi tidak Nampak yang beliau merubah sikap rakusnya dalam berbelanja. Bagi saya, beliau tidak mungkin akan dikenang kerana sewaktu menjadi isteri PM, beliau sebenarnya boleh melakukan banyak perkara-perkara yang baik,” ujar Ketua Wanita PKR Zuraida Kamaruddin kepada Malaysia Chronicle.

“Sekarang ini, bila kita bercakap pasal Rosmah, orang akan tergelak dan menjawab, ‘Oh, cincin bertatah berlian RM24 million atau tas tangan bernilai RM1 juta. Bagi saya itu bukanlah satu legasi yang boleh dikenang dan dihormati kerana sekarang ini pun kita masih menunggu jawapan dari pejabat PM soal kos perjalanan mereka ke KAzahkstan, Timur Tengah dan Eropah.”
Pemimpin PKR itu merujuk kepada cincin bertatah berlian bernilai RM24 juta yang ditempah daripada New York JEweller Jacob & Co. Rosmah juga menjadi terkenal kerana koleksi tas tangan pelbagai warna yang harga terkumpul mencecah lebih dari RM 1 juta.

Najib terpalit sama
Turut tertekan ialah Najib sendiri yang juga berbelanja sakan seperti isterinya.

Setakat apa yang rakyat ketahui, beliau terlalu percaya kepada para penasihatnya. Beberapa minggu yang lalu, sekumpulan pakar strategi politik yang pernah bekerja untuk pentadbiran Tony Blair “New Labour” memulakan kerja membaikpulih imej 1Malaysia Najib. Tetapi, kepincangan 1Malaysia bukanlah kerana salah promosi dan publisiti, tetapi kerana tidak ada pengemaskinian selepas ianya dilancarkan.
Selain mendapatkan khdimat Mr. Alastair yang mengepalai projek ini, Najib juga mendapatkan nasihat pakar dari Paul Stadlen, mantan pengarah APCO Malaysia, yang mana kontraknya diperbaharui walaupun mendapat tentangan dari majikan yang berpangkalan di New York yang mana mereka ini adalah bekas pegawai tertinggi perisikan Israel.

Namun, dibelakang kelompok penashit dari UK dan US/Israel ini ialah Omar Mustapha, Pengarah firma minyak negara Petronas. Dicemuh oleh Mahathir, kemasukan Omar ke dalam Petronas memberikan tamparan hebat kepada Najib yang mana rata-rata pegawai senior firma itu menolak keras perlantikan Omar ke dalam Petronas.

Namun, Najib tidak mengendahkannya dan Omar, berusia sekitar 30-an, lulusan Oxford University, yang juga selain mengelola firma perundingan kewangan Ethos telah membantu mempromosikan imej Najib sejak 2009, bilamana Najib mengambilalih kerajaan dari Abdullah Badawi.

Strategi Najib sangat licik. Dengan menggunakan akhbar Utusan Melayu yang mengeluarkan pelbagai kenyataan berbau perkauman yang pertama kali berlaku dalam sejarah 5 dekad negara ini.

Menurut pemerhati politik, ini adalah cara untuk memastikan kuasa orang Melayu terus terjaga dan orang bukan-Melayu melihat Najib sebagai seorang yang jujur. Samada strategi ini datang dari Najib sendiri, Omar atau APCO dan sekarang ini dari penashit British, ia sangat sukar diketahui. Kesemua mereka ini akhirnya nanti akan kecundang juga.

Majlis Tertinggi: Perjelas Hudud!

Walaupun sudah banyak menggunakan dana rakyat yang nilainya ratusan juta, popularity Najib menurun 6 peratus bulan Ogos lalu. Angka ini jatuh teruk sejak bulan Mei iaitu 65 peratus.

Walaubagaimanapun, Najib dan para penashitnya tidak sesekali tunduk mengalah, sebaliknya terus melancarkan pelbagai isu-isu yang boleh dibangkitkan untuk mengalihkan pandangan umum. Mungkin juga, isu hukum hudud yang mengguris hati orang Melayu/Islam akan mengakhiri zaman pemerintahan Najib.

Orang dalaman UMNO ada berbunyi menyatakan Najib akan diminta menjelaskan oleh Majlis Tertinggi tentang kenyataannya yang hudud tidak akan dilaksanakan di Malaysia. Kepincangan Najib berpolitik akan dibandingkan dengan kenyataan Timbalannya Muhyiddin Yassin yang berkata, masa untuk pelaksanaan hudud belum lagi sesuai.

“Pemimpin UMNO di Kelantan amat marah dengan Najib yang berkata ‘Tidak’ kepada hudud. Kerana kenyataan itu, UMNO boleh tutup kedai di negeri itu,’ ujar pakar undang-undang UIA, Prof Aziz Bari.

Kegagalan yang ditanggung semua rakyat

Kadangkala, kita perlu menggunakan firasat, berbanding mengharapkan sesuatu terjadi secara politikal, tidak kira berapa bayarannya. Tanpa ragu-ragu, Najib tidak langsung mengendahkan ini semua. Baginya, rakyat yang harus menyelamatkan diri mereka sendiri takala berada didalam situasi harga barang dan inflasi meningkat mendadak.

Begitu juga barang yang mahal tidak semestinya baik. Seperti cerita tas tangan Rosmah dan cincin bertatah berliannya – kemewahan akhirnya mengundang bencana pada diri sendiri.

- petikan dari Malaysia Chronicle

Barrage of questions over Spice at press conference

State government and senior MPPP officials faced a barrage of questions over the Spice convention centre during a press conference on Tuesday.

I was among the journalists who raised these questions, and I jotted down some notes. I hope I got it down accurately, as the answers sounded vague and unclear in some places. Bear in mind, these are not actually quotes but just my notes.
The replies were provided by state exco member Chow Kon Yeow, the MPPP president Patahiyah Ismail and other senior MPPP officers.
Was this RM250m project approved in a full council meeting of the MPPP before the agreement was signed? If not, why not?
It was approved by the Lembaga Perolehan, chaired by YDP, along with the State Financial Officer and a few others.
It was tabled before a full council meeting. (This sounded vague, According to some MPPP councillors, there was no submission or discussion at a full council meeting for the details of the agreement of the project.)

If that’s the case, why were councillors not aware of the details of the agreement or not even a copy of the agreement? Why did they have to request for a special meeting for more information?
Even the State Exco were not given a copy . The agreement itself need not go to full council; otherwise with so many agreements around, only a handful of agreement can be completed.
But we are talking about major outlay of Council money. Was the RM50m to be incurred by the MPPP and the other terms for Spice deliberated and approved by a full council meeting before the agreement was signed?
(No real answer given)
At present, the agreement is only available for viewing at the MPPP office by appointment for two hours at a time. Will it be made public?
We have already created a first in the country by making the agreement open for public viewing. The public can also come back again for another viewing if two hours is not enough.
The agreement was only exhibited after it was a done deal. Why was the agreement not exhibited before it was signed?
(No real answer given.)
If there is nothing to hide, why not put the agreement on the MPPP website?
(No real answer given.)
Who were the other bidders for this project? How can it be an open tender if it is restricted to only those with existing projects in Penang? Were all the bidders offered the 1500 units in extra density?
There was a call for open tender but there no were takers. So the open tender process was then ended.
We then invited requests for proposals. We received three.
Can you give us the names of the other two?
A company called PICO and the other was Taman Kasturi.
Who was involved in the negotiations on the state government/MPPP side?
(Answer wasn’t very clear.)
The developer will benefit from income derived from rentals of the retail outlets, convention centre, indoor stadium and car park. Will the MPPP be entitled to profit-sharing during the 30-year concession period?
(Didn’t have time to ask this question, but heard MPPP not entitled to any profit-sharing.)
The assessment payment to MPPP is being waived for sPICE convention centre, indoor stadium, Aquatic Centre and car park? How much per year is the MPPP losing?
The property belongs to the MPPP; so that’s why assessment is being waived.(But if MPPP owns the land, why is it not entitled to any rentals? It is a Build-Operate-Transfer project for an initial 30 years and the MPPP won’t get any income for their outlay.)
Why is this project exempted from a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study?
The SIA is a new thing and most of our projects don’t have this. We will have a traffic impact assessment.
Is the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) report binding or merely for “academic purposes”?
(They didn’t seem too sure about this. I don’t think it will be binding as it will probably be done by their own consultants).
You have a 6000-capacity convention centre with only 2000 parking lots and a limited number of parking bays for tourist buses. How are you going to cope with the extra traffic?
Road widening around the area will be required. The project will also be integrated into the Penang Transport Masterplan (They also mentioned something about transport interchange nodes. But I don’t think there has been any serious thought about all this.)
We will look again into the parking lots situation when the actual plans come up for approval.
Who is the consultant and will the consultant be independent of the developer?
As this is an MPPP property/project, the MPPP will also be looking into the traffic aspect.
Is this a flood-prone area? Have any studies been undertaken about the water-table in the area?
(Didn’t have time to ask this question).
Why the need to give 1500 units in extra density to the developer?
We are getting a RM250m convention centre paying only RM50m (less repairs and renovation saved etc). The extra density is to allow the developer to raise funds for the project.
There is a perception that the terms are generous. How did you agree to the figure of 1500? Can we see your calculations?
You can assume any figure for the selling price of the extra apartments. We could also assume that it may cost RM300000, in which case they might raise RM200m (which covers the cost of the convention centre).
They can easily raise that amount, no problem, perhaps  more. Surely you would have done your own calculations. Can we see your calculations?
There are also intangible and subjective benefits to the state while the project carries certain risks. The MPPP will be a big winner; so will the state and Penangites. The concessionaire is responsible for the risks.
If the project is financial viable, why give ‘compensation’ of 1500 units in extra density? Is there a business plan to show that this project is viable?
(No real answer.)
The MPPP development charge is being waived for the 1500 extra units. There is a reason why development charges are imposed. Why is it being waived in this case? And how much are the amounts waived? Please provide us with figures.
It depends on the actual projects and where the 1500 units will be built. They can only use these extra units for larger projects where there are 8000-10000 units. (Not very clear.)
On what basis are the higher plot densities being allowed? 120 units per acre? Aren’t these well above existing plot ratios? What is the maximum permissible under the Local Plan?
The State Planning Committee has the power to decide the densities.
But the Local Plan was approved by the MPPP in 2008?
The Local Plan is not yet in force so it is a guideline. Under existing guidelines, low-and-medium cost housing is allowed 120 units/acre and the Local Plan also allows. (But is this restricted only to LMC?)
Why is MPPP providing land free-of-charge for SP Setia for the low-cost housing? What is the estimate cost of the land?
The land needed is not that big as what has been speculated. Based on current density guidelines, only about 3.75 acres is needed and not 16ha as speculated. We want to ensure that affordable housing is built.
Why is this precedent being set for providing land?
(No time to ask this question)
The hotel – this is the jewel in the crown of the project. How was the price of RM100psf arrived at for the sale of the land? Who did the valuation?
It is based on transactions in neighbouring sites. The valuation decided by MPPP’s own valuation department.
Why is the hotel and land not being returned to MPPP after 30 years? Why is it 99 years?
The land is being leased for that period.
Can you give us a total estimated cost for all the additional related costs (development charge and assessments waived, free land provided) on top of the RM50m to be incurred by the MPPP? What are the total costs (direct and indirect) to the MPPP?
(Vague answer. They are sticking to the line that “we pay RM50m and we get a convention centre, ‘people’s park’ etc worth RM250m which will serve the needs of Penang”.)
Final note
The press conference, which began at 1.00pm, ran until 2.35pm, forcing the cancellation of a scheduled OSC committee meeting. Credit to the MPPP and state exco for facing the press.
But while appreciative of the opportunity to raise questions, I didn’t really get much new information except for the identities on the other parties who were supposed to have made proposals.
While it is arguable whether Penang needs a convention centre, what I am more concerned about how this deal is being pushed through the MPPP, the swap mechanism and financial implications for the MPPP, and the worrying precedent this will set for other possibly bigger swap deals.

Libyans claim Gadhafi is hiding in western border area

Moammar Gadhafi often turned to the nomadic Tuareg to bolster his forces.
Moammar Gadhafi often turned to the nomadic Tuareg to bolster his forces
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is believed to be hiding out near the western town of Ghadamis under the protection of Tuareg fighters, an interim government military spokesman told CNN Tuesday.

"We have reliable information that Gadhafi is protected by the Tuareg tribe located between Niger, Algeria, and Ghadamis town in Libya," said Col. Abdul Basit.

He said Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam is in Bani Walid and another son, Mutassim, is in Sirte. Both cities are among areas in Libya that remain contested, with loyalist Gadhafi forces fighting to the bitter end to retain control.

Basit did not provide insight as to how the interim government discovered Gadhafi's whereabouts and the claims could not be verified. The National Transitional Council has in the past made claims that turned out to be false.

Ghadamis lies in western Libya, on the border with Algeria. Tuareg tribesmen, known as capable mercenaries, have helped Gadhafi loyalists escape Libya across the expanses of the Sahel.

During his rule, Gadhafi often turned to the nomadic Tuareg to bolster his forces and his attempts to manipulate and destabilize the poor countries to the south of Libya: Niger, Chad and Mali.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, has arrest warrants out for Moammar and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi. They are wanted for alleged crimes against humanity committed after the start of the Libyan uprising in February.

After the fall of Tripoli to revolutionary forces, purported messages from Moammar Gadhafi were aired on Syrian-based television Al-Rai. The longtime dictator has not been seen in public for months.

Libya's new leadership has been meeting in Benghazi to discuss the formation of an interim government. Meanwhile, battles are still raging in Sirte and Bani Walid -- NATO estimates that 200,000 of Libya's 6 million people are still under threat from Gadhafi's supporters.

Insurgents kill 4 soldiers guarding Thai school

PATTANI, Thailand (AP) — Muslim insurgents disguised as paramilitary rangers attacked troops guarding a school in southern Thailand on Wednesday, killing four soldiers and wounding two others, police said. A 6-year-old boy was shot in the stomach during the assault.

Police Lt. Gen. Satanfah Wamasing said 15 assailants walked up to the school and began talking with soldiers assigned to guard teachers there. They opened fire at close range and fled with four of the soldiers' M-16 automatic rifles.

The bloodshed in Narathiwat province's Rue So district is the latest in a wave of violence in Thailand's Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces since an Islamist insurgency flared in 2004.

Government soldiers are often designated to guard teachers and monks in the region.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet that the New York-based group has warned Thai authorities "that the simultaneous use of school for military and education purposes will put civilians at risk."

But Sunai condemned the attack, saying: "Insurgents knew they could also harm students and teachers. Such brutality is sickening."

In a separate incident Wednesday in neighboring Pattani province, two gunmen on a motorcycle fatally shot a 48-year-old person in a market in Nong Chik district, police Lt. Gen. Chonnavi Chamaroek said.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International condemned the insurgents for targeting civilians in the conflict, saying such attacks constitute war crimes.

It said noncombatants have accounted for two-thirds of the nearly 5,000 deaths reported during the insurgency in the past eight years, while close to 8,000 people have been wounded.

Most of the violence has been confined to three southern provinces dominated by ethnic Malay Muslims who are a minority in mostly Buddhist Thailand. The area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century.

Pakatan fails to reach consensus on hudud

Don’t wait two years to build school building

The deputy prime minister had promised RM6 million for the building but they will have to wait two years.

BATU KAWAN: Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had promised a RM6.3 allocation for a new building for the Batu Kawan Tamil school but the school will have to wait for two years.

Two weeks ago, Muhyiddin promised that the government would build the school within two years time.

Hindraf Makal Sakthi advisor N Ganeson hopes that it is not an election promise and he says that the building should be built right now.

“Why wait for two years … why not now?” asked Ganesan (photo, below), saying Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Sunday had assured the federal government would be fair to all communities in education.
He noted that Tamil education has contributed immensely to the country’s talent pool in the past.

“It’s the government’s duty to develop and re-develop Tamil schools,” he told FMT here today.

Currently SRJK (T) Ladang Batu Kawan is housed in a few containers along with the estate clerk’s house, after its earlier colonial barn like building was burnt down some 10 years ago.

The new school building will be constructed on a two acre site that was allotted by the previous state BN government.

Under the federal project, the primary school will have eight classrooms, a teachers’ common room, a office and a canteen.

The Public Works Department (PWD) is now finalising the school building project plan to be submitted soon to the Seberang Perai Municipal Council for approval.

Batu Kawan BN coordinator A Mohan said he would formally submit a request to the Pakatan Rakyat state government to set aside another two acres for a school field.

“I hope the state government would not hesitate to assist a Tamil school,” he said.

During the 2004 and 2008 pre-general election periods, he recalled that many BN politicians promised a new school building for Batu Kawan Indians merely to fish for votes.

“Now the federal government wants another two years with the country’s 13th general election just around the corner.

The country has 523 Tamil schools with 102,000 student population in 2011, comprising about half of all primary school-going ethnic Indian children.

Namewee calls Utusan ‘trash’

Rapper and Nasi Lemak 2.0 director comes out with a scathing YouTube video in response to attacks by Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia
PETALING JAYA: In his usual acerbic style, rapper Wee Meng Chee (better known as Namewee) has come out guns a-blazing against Utusan Malaysia for their attacks on him.

Through a YouTube video entitled “Namewee F–k Utusan!!!”, the Nasi Lemak 2.0 director slammed the Umno-owned newspaper for claiming that he had offended the Malays.

“(The role of the) newspaper is to report, report! You are judging people. You don’t write to shiok sendiri (please yourself).”

“That kind of newspaper runs down Malaysians, runs down the people… You have a pen, you have a keyboard and you’re considered a reporter,” he belted out sarcastically in Malay, along with a series of expletives.

“Trash newspaper! Scum of society! Trash writer!” he added.

Wee was responding to an article entitled “Bukan Nasi Lemak 2.0, soalnya Namewee” (It’s not Nasi Lemak 2.0, the question is Namewee) by Utusan feature writer Fauziah Arof.

Fauziah stressed that she would not watch Wee’s Sept 8-released movie even if she was given free tickets.

In several volleys against the rapper, she claimed that he had offended Malaysians, especially the country’s “Malays and Muslims”.

The newspaper said it was strange for Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz to receive Wee without taking action against him.

Fauziah also claimed that the rapper was given “too much face” and rubbished Wee’s support of the 1Malaysia concept.

“Who is this Namewee, and what is so special about him?” she asked, adding that she had no problems with local films, and was willing to spend money to watch “Malay films”.

In his nearly three-minute-long video, Wee did not appear to be amused with Fauziah’s words.

Do you understand my lyrics?

He said the least the Utusan writer could have done was to watch his movie before making her comments.

“You think all the other newspapers are stupid? If it wasn’t good, they (would) write that it wasn’t… they can write (that) because they have gone to watch the movie!”

“What about you? Have you done your research?” he asked, and offered to buy the Utusan writer two tickets to watch his movie.

Wee also asked if the newspaper understood what his songs meant, and attacked it for claiming that he was a racist.

“Do you understand what my songs are about? Do you understand (what) my lyrics (mean)? … I told people not to be racist … to work properly,” he said.

“Where is your certificate? Is it from the drain? If you don’t know what it means to be a reporter, go back to school. Tell your boss, you and all your friends to go back to school!”

Utusan Malaysia’s salvo against Wee was one of many attacks levelled against the rapper in recent weeks.

A few weeks ago, protesters in Ipoh demanded a boycott of Nasi Lemak 2.0, linking it to the recent Bersih 2.0 (Coalition for Free and Fair Elections) demonstrations.

Umno-friendly bloggers have also been critical of the rapper, with some threatening physical violence against him should he allowed to meet Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Hudud held back by lack of consensus

Islamic law cannot take place without DAP's agreement, agreed Pakatan leaders tonight.

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS’ hudud dreams in Kelantan remained just that today after Pakatan Rakyat agreed that it has to have a consensus among all three partners – PAS, PKR and DAP – for the Islamic law to be implemented.

At the same time, the pact also agreed not to stop PAS from raising the hudud issue again.

More importantly, Pakatan noted that any implementation of the Islamic law in Kelantan, or even nationwide when Pakatan comes to power, would need a constitutional amendement first in the parliament.

“Pakatan respects the PAS initiatives and aspirations (to implement the hudud in Kelantan), but we have to reach a consensus… DAP is opposed to that and PKR and PAS respect that decision,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim after a lengthy Pakatan meeting tonight.

He said that Pakatan respected PAS’ and PKR’s support for the implementation of hudud in Kelantan just as it respected DAP’s opposition to it.

“However (a change to Islamic law) requires a Pakatan Rakyat consensus and an amendment to the (Federal) Constitution, and DAP’s position is that they are not supportive of that particular proposal,” he told reporters at the PAS party headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut.

The meeting, attended by all Pakatan top leaders, started at about 9pm and ended almost after midnight. Anwar was the only leader who spoke at the press conference.

The PKR supremo said that Pakatan’s leaders acknowledged the existence of the Second Syariah Kelantan Criminal Enactments 1993 and the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactments 2003.

“Both enactments are already there, but there is a need to refer to Pakatan Rakyat because it involves federal constitution amendments… As it stands, the matter is a non-issue,” he said.

Anwar said the need for a Pakatan consensus on the matter does not mean PAS will be stopped from  talking about implementing hudud laws.

“This is not an Umno-controlled Pakatan Rakyat. We respect the right of people to present their case, ask questions and raise the matter… To deny PAS to articulate their position is not fair,” he said.

Victory for DAP

Pakatan Rakyat’s hudud uproar erupted last week following a dare by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad to the PAS-ruled Kelantan to impose hudud.

Kelantan menteri besar and PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat immediately said that the state was ready for hudud laws, a move which was supported by Anwar in his personal capacity.

However DAP was opposed to the idea as it claimed that implementation of Islamic laws was not part of Pakatan’s common policy framework.

A tense stand-off ensued between PAS and DAP with leaders from both sides fighting for their case.

PAS Youth leader, Nasarudin Hassan Tantawi was among those who strongly defended PAS’ right to implement hudud.

In a bid to stop the turmoil from escalating, Pakatan imposed a gag order on its leaders from openly disputing the hudud issue. The Pakatan meeting today was held to solve the hudud impasse.

However the outcome of the meeting is seen as a victory for DAP as it has managed to stop PAS from moving forward with its hudud plans, although any such immediate plan could have been thwarted at the parliamentary level as the Barisan Nasional government has always rejected PAS’ hudud plans.

When approached by reporters after the meeting and asked if he was happy with the outcome, Nasarudin merely said, “its a common consensus and our (Pakatan) stand is clear”.

PAS’ influential secretary-general Mustafa Ali was asked how he would react to claims that PAS had sacrificed its Islamic state ideals to reach a common consensus with Pakatan, to which he said:

“Let people say first then we would react to that later,” he said.

When asked to elaborate on the common consensus as it seemed quite vague, Mustafa merely said, “this is a strong consensus”.

Apart from Anwar, the Pakatan meeting was attended by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang , PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang, DAP chairman Karpal Singh and other senior leaders from the three parties. Nik Aziz was absent and was represented by Kelantan exco member, Takiyuddin Hassan.

Mecca for the rich: Islam's holiest site 'turning into Vegas'

Historic and culturally important landmarks are being destroyed to make way for luxury hotels and malls, reports Jerome Taylor
In the eyes of Wahabis, historical sites and shrines encourage "shirq" – the sin of idolatry or polytheism – and should be destroyed. When the al-Saud tribes swept through Mecca in the 1920s, the first thing they did was lay waste to cemeteries holding many of Islam's important figures. They have been destroying the country's heritage ever since. Of the three sites the Saudis have allowed the UN to designate World Heritage Sites, none are related to Islam.
Independent UK
Click HERE to download graphic: Mecca For The Rich (430.39kB)
Behind closed doors – in places where the religious police cannot listen in – residents of Mecca are beginning to refer to their city as Las Vegas, and the moniker is not a compliment.
Over the past 10 years the holiest site in Islam has undergone a huge transformation, one that has divided opinion among Muslims all over the world.
Once a dusty desert town struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of pilgrims arriving for the annual Hajj, the city now soars above its surroundings with a glittering array of skyscrapers, shopping malls and luxury hotels.
To the al-Saud monarchy, Mecca is their vision of the future – a steel and concrete metropolis built on the proceeds of enormous oil wealth that showcases their national pride.
Yet growing numbers of citizens, particularly those living in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, have looked on aghast as the nation's archaeological heritage is trampled under a construction mania backed by hardline clerics who preach against the preservation of their own heritage. Mecca, once a place where the Prophet Mohamed insisted all Muslims would be equal, has become a playground for the rich, critics say, where naked capitalism has usurped spirituality as the city's raison d'ĂȘtre.
Few are willing to discuss their fears openly because of the risks associated with criticising official policy in the authoritarian kingdom. And, with the exceptions of Turkey and Iran, fellow Muslim nations have largely held their tongues for fear of of a diplomatic fallout and restrictions on their citizens' pilgrimage visas. Western archaeologists are silent out of fear that the few sites they are allowed access to will be closed to them.
But a number of prominent Saudi archaeologists and historians are speaking up in the belief that the opportunity to save Saudi Arabia's remaining historical sites is closing fast.
"No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism," says Dr Irfan al-Alawi who, as executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, has fought in vain to protect his country's historical sites. "We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it's not too late to turn things around."
Sami Angawi, a renowned Saudi expert on the region's Islamic architecture, is equally concerned. "This is an absolute contradiction to the nature of Mecca and the sacredness of the house of God," he told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. "Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers."
Dr Alawi's most pressing concern is the planned £690m expansion of the Grand Mosque, the most sacred site in Islam which contains the Kaaba – the black stone cube built by Ibrahim (Abraham) that Muslims face when they pray.
Construction officially began earlier this month with the country's Justice Minister, Mohammed al-Eissa, exclaiming that the project would respect "the sacredness and glory of the location, which calls for the highest care and attention of the servants or Islam and Muslims".
The 400,000 square metre development is being built to accommodate an extra 1.2 million pilgrims each year and will turn the Grand Mosque into the largest religious structure in the world. But the Islamic Heritage Foundation has compiled a list of key historical sites that they believe are now at risk from the ongoing development of Mecca, including the old Ottoman and Abbasi sections of the Grand Mosque, the house where the Prophet Mohamed was born and the house where his paternal uncle Hamza grew up.
There is little argument that Mecca and Medina desperately need infrastructure development. Twelve million pilgrims visit the cities every year with the numbers expected to increase to 17 million by 2025.
But critics fear that the desire to expand the pilgrimage sites has allowed the authorities to ride roughshod over the area's cultural heritage. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca's millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone.
The destruction has been aided by Wahabism, the austere interpretation of Islam that has served as the kingdom's official religion ever since the al-Sauds rose to power across the Arabian Peninsula in the 19th century.
In the eyes of Wahabis, historical sites and shrines encourage "shirq" – the sin of idolatry or polytheism – and should be destroyed. When the al-Saud tribes swept through Mecca in the 1920s, the first thing they did was lay waste to cemeteries holding many of Islam's important figures. They have been destroying the country's heritage ever since. Of the three sites the Saudis have allowed the UN to designate World Heritage Sites, none are related to Islam.
Those circling the Kaaba only need to look skywards to see the latest example of the Saudi monarchy's insatiable appetite for architectural bling. At 1,972ft, the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, opened earlier this year, soars over the surrounding Grand Mosque, part of an enormous development of skyscrapers that will house five-star hotels for the minority of pilgrims rich enough to afford them.
To build the skyscraper city, the authorities dynamited an entire mountain and the Ottoman era Ajyad Fortress that lay on top of it. At the other end of the Grand Mosque complex, the house of the Prophet's first wife Khadijah has been turned into a toilet block. The fate of the house he was born in is uncertain. Also planned for demolition are the Grand Mosque's Ottoman columns which dare to contain the names of the Prophet's companions, something hardline Wahabis detest.
For ordinary Meccans living in the mainly Ottoman-era town houses that make up much of what remains of the old city, development often means the loss of their family home.
Non-Muslims cannot visit Mecca and Medina, but The Independent was able to interview a number of citizens who expressed discontent over the way their town was changing. One young woman whose father recently had his house bulldozed described how her family was still waiting for compensation. "There was very little warning; they just came and told him that the house had to be bulldozed," she said.
Another Meccan added: "If a prince of a member of the royal family wants to extend his palace he just does it. No one talks about it in public though. There's such a climate of fear."
Dr Alawi hopes the international community will finally begin to wake up to what is happening in the cradle of Islam. "We would never allow someone to destroy the Pyramids, so why are we letting Islam's history disappear?"
Under Threat
Bayt al-Mawlid
When the Wahabis took Mecca in the 1920s they destroyed the dome on top of the house where the Prophet Mohammed was born. It was thenused as a cattle market before being turned into a library after a campaign by Meccans. There are concerns that the expansion of the Grand Mosque will destroy it once more. The site has never been excavated by archaeologists.
Ottoman and Abasi columns of the Grand Mosque
Slated for demolition as part of the Grand Mosque expansion, these intricately carved columns date back to the 17th century and are the oldest surviving sections of Islam's holiest site. Much to the chagrin of Wahabis, they are inscribed with the names of the Prophet's companions. Ottomon Mecca is now rapidly disappearing
Al-Masjid al-Nawabi
For many years, hardline Wahabi clerics have had their sites set on the 15th century green dome that rests above the tomb holding the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar in Medina. The mosque is regarded as the second holiest site in Islam. Wahabis, however, believe marked graves are idolatrous. A pamphlet published in 2007 by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, stated that "the green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet's Masjid".
Jabal al-Nour
A mountain outside Mecca where Mohammed received his first Koranic revelations. The Prophet used to spend long spells in a cave called Hira. The cave is particularly popular among South Asian pilgrims who have carved steps up to its entrance and adorned the walls with graffiti. Religious hardliners are keen to dissuade pilgrims from congregating there and have mooted the idea of removing the steps and even destroying the mountain altogether.

Positive Court Ruling for Malaysian Reform NGO

You guys won't be needed today.
Bersih 2.0 can challenge decision saying it’s illegal, judge says
(Asia Sentinel) A High Court Judge in Malaysia ruled Wednesday that Bersih 2.0, a coalition of 80-odd NGOs demanding changes in the country’s electoral laws, can appeal a July 1 decision of Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, outlawing it.

There continue to be deep suspicions in Malaysia that the government is stalling on putting in place the electoral reforms that Bersih’s component members are advocating.

Nonetheless, “We welcome the decision,” said Wong Chin Huat, one of the leaders of the organization, in a telephone interview. “There is no guarantee that we will win and we don’t want to be overly optimistic but it is a good sign.”

In a prepared statement, Bersih’s leaders said they welcomed the judge’s decision and added that: “It is absolutely vital in a democracy that the courts are prepared to allow scrutiny of executive powers by allowing citizens who are affected by the exercise of these powers to have the opportunity to challenge them fairly in court.”

Hishammuddin declared Bersih 2.0 illegal prior to a July 9 march demanding electoral reform in Kuala Lumpur in what blossomed into a harsh attempt to stop the organization from fulfilling its goals. At one point, police were arresting anybody wearing a yellow Bersih tee-shirt.

Given that Malaysian courts do not operate in a vacuum but tend to take their marching orders on political affairs from the ruling government coalition, some observers believe the government, embarrassed by naming Bersih an illegal organization in the first place, could have signaled to the court to allow the group’s complaint to go ahead.

Bersih, the Malay language word for “clean,” is formally known as the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections.

Wong said he was heartened by the fact that six leaders of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) leaders who had been arrested in the run-up to the march were released unconditionally in late July, a possible indication that the government was softening its stance.

The country was badly embarrassed after police sought to stop the July 9 march, chasing down nonviolent marchers with tear gas and water cannons and arresting 1,667 people including most of Bersih’s leaders. Despite police refusal to grant a permit for the march and establishing roadblocks to shut down Kuala Lumpur to keep people out of the city, an estimated 25,000 people got through anyhow. The government was doubly embarrassed when censors blacked out parts of a story in The Economists describing the crackdown, an act of censorship that hasn’t taken place in years.

As domestic and international criticism continued, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak apparently yielded to Bersih’s demands and announced in August that a select parliamentary committee would be formed to seek to reform the country’s electoral system.

However, since that time little or nothing has been done besides cleaning the electoral rolls of some 70,000 disqualified voters, leading to criticism that Najib could be stalling. Bersih leaders are continuing to be harassed and investigated by police, leaders said. So far, there is no indication that the parliamentary committee has been formed. No Bersih leaders have been asked to join the committee. However, the Dewan Rakyat, or parliament, is in recess and is not due to reconvene until Oct. 2.

Under Malaysia’s parliamentary system, elections must be held in 2013 at the latest. The current betting is that Najib will call for dissolution of parliament sometime in March 2012, when the country’s schoolchildren are on holiday and the schools can be used as polling stations. Bersih has asked that the select parliamentary committee be allowed to meet and conclude its business prior to the election. Given the complicated machinery of changing the country’s constitution and other legal issues, it is questionable if the committee can meet and transact its business prior to the election.

Bersih has repeatedly asked that the elections be delayed until after the committee finishes its work. The NGO recently issued a statement saying it is ”disappointed at the on-going display of arrogance by the ministers of our country in negotiating the terms of reference and composition of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform. We remind the leaders of the nation that as representatives elected by citizens of Malaysia, they should humbly listen to the voices of the people and act as the people wills them.”

Bersih has published a list of eight demands they say are necessary to clean up the country’s voting procedure, saying that as many as 3.5 million voters have been disenfranchised by the current electoral process, that rolls must be cleaned to eliminate ghost voters and that the electoral period must be lengthened because the ruling national coalition has the ability to put its campaign machinery in place, then call a snap election before the opposition has the opportunity to mount a campaign.

They have also demanded that the country’s press be allowed to report more fairly on the opposition, who are consistently featured negatively if they are featured at all. Given that all of the major media are owned by component political parties of the Barisan Nasional, that seems problematical. Just last week, a public service video by a local musician promoting the right to vote was taken off the air on orders of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission because it featured opposition figures and a speech by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that featured some negative comments.

Mengapa Najib, Rosmah Mesti Jadi Saksi

Anwar Ibrahim hari ini memfailkan afidavit jawapan berhubung permohonan Perdana Menteri dan isterinya untuk mengketepikan sepina yang disampaikan kepada mereka supaya tampil sebagai saksi pembelaan dalam perbicaraan kes liwat.

anwar sodomy saiful bukhari azlan allegations 290608Dalam dokumen yang ditandatanganinya petang ini di hadapan pesuruhjaya sumpah di Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur, Anwar berkata, Datuk Seri Najib Razak dan Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor diperlukan untuk membantu kes berkenaan.

Ini dikaitkan dengan maklumat yang dibekalkan oleh bekas pembantu Najib, Datuk Khairil Annas Jusoh, ketika diwawancara oleh peguam Anwar semasa proses merakamkan kenyataan daripada saksi-saksi yang berpotensi.

Khairil Annas telah mengesahkan bahawa dia membawa pengadu kes liwat itu, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan untuk bertemu dengan Najib, yang ketika itu adalah timbalan perdana menteri.

“Saya seterusnya menyatakan bahawa saya telah dinasihatkan oleh peguam-peguam saya, nasihat yang saya percayai adalah tepat dan benar, bahawa Datuk Khairil Annas Jusoh telahpun memaklumkan kepada mereka di dalam temuramah tersebut bahawa beliau telahpun membawa pengadu berhumpa dengan pemohon paad 26 Jun 2008 untuk lebih kurang sejam di kediaman pemohon.

NONE“Oleh yang demikian, saya percaya terdapat banyak lagi perkara yang telahpun dibincangkan antara pemohon dan pengadu tersebut semasa pertemuan tersebut yang saya yakin adalah relevan dan materrial kepada pembelaan saya,” katanya dalam afidavit itu.

Menurut Anwar lagi, Najib pada mulanya menafikan bertemu dengan Saiful tetapi kemudian menukar pengakuan dan berkata Saiful telah memohon bantuan bagi mendapatkan biasiswa.

Justeru, peguamnya mahu mendapatkan penjelasan lanjut.

Tambahnya lagi, semasa wawancara pada 12 Ogos lalu, Najib dan Rosmah tidak bekerjasama dalam memberikan kenyataan kepada peguamnya.

Anwar, berkata beliau mempunyai hak di sisi undang-undang untuk memanggil saksi dan sehubungan itu mengarahkan peguamnya untuk mensepina Najib dan isterinya.

New Ministry, Seven New Faces In Sarawak Cabinet Reshuffle

KUCHING, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- The state cabinet reshuffle that will take effect on Friday will see a new ministry being created, five ministries renamed and seven new faces including a woman to be appointed as assistant ministers.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the new ministry would be named the Welfare, Women and Family Development Ministry, to be headed by Datuk Fatimah Abdullah and assisted by two new assistant ministers who are also new faces, Rosey Yunus and Robert Lawson Chuat Vincent.

"The other new faces as assistant ministers are Julaihi Narawi, Abdul Karim Hamzah, Datuk Len Talif Salleh, Dr Jerip Susil and Liwan Lagang," he said, adding that the seven would be sworn in on Friday.

Julaihi will be appointed as Industrial Development Assistant Minister (Investment and Promotion) and Rural Development Assistant Minister, and Abdul Karim as Housing Assistant Minister and Social Development Assistant Minister (Youth Development).

Len Talif will be appointed as Resource Planning and Environment Assistant Minister (Environment) and Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Office (Technical Education Promotion), Dr Jerip as Local Government and Community Development Assistant Minister (Public Health), and Liwan as Social Development Assistant Minister (Culture and Heritage).

"All the full ministers will be retained and some of their ministries renamed," he said.

The five ministries renamed include the Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry, which is now known as Social Development Ministry and headed by Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom and Environment and Public Health Ministry, now known as Local Government and Community Development Ministry, headed by Sarawak United People's Party deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

The Planning and Resource Management Ministry will be known as Resource Planning and Environment Ministry, Housing and Urban Development Ministry as Housing Ministry, and Tourism and Heritage Ministry as Tourism Ministry, with both the ministries under the purview of Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president.

Taib who retains his portfolios in the Finance Ministry and Resource Planning and Environment Ministry, said there was no urgent need for the appointment of second Deputy Chief Minister.

He said the one Deputy Chief Minister post now held by another PBB deputy president, Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, who is also Rural Development Minister, should not be a big issue.

He said Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing who had been retained as Land Development Minister, would also be holding senior minister porfolios together with Soon Koh and Mawan.

He said their role as senior ministers would be to coordinate specific development projects and programmes needed to be undertaken together.

He said PBB senior vice-president Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan would be the new Industrial Development Minister, as well as the second Resource Planning and Environment Minister and Public Utilities Minister, while Datuk Seri Michael Manyin retained his portfolio as Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister.

He said the Public Works Department (PWD), Agriculture Department and local councils were also being revamped.

"The PWD revamp is almost completed while it may take about five years for the others," he added.