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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mystery witness’ a former college mate of Saiful

Saiful hated Anwar, campaigned for BN, says witness.
KUALA LUMPUR: The “mystery witness” in Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II trial today turned out to be a former college mate of accuser Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
Mohd Najwan Ali, who now works at the office of Selangor economic adviser (Anwar), said he knew Saiful since 2003 and was shocked when Saiful joined Anwar’s office in 2008 as he had previously expressed hatred towards Anwar and was very “pro-government”.
“When I knew him, he hated Anwar, from all the conversations I had with him,” said Najwan.
Najwan said that he had previously seen in Saiful’s social networking site Friendster a photo showing a banner saying “Anwar pemimpin munafiq” (Anwar is a hypocritical leader) and another with the Barisan Nasional (BN) logo.
Najwan testified that he believed the photos meant Saiful had campaigned for BN, and Saiful told him that Anwar could not be trusted.
He also said Saiful was “publicity crazy” and loved attention.

Indian voters in the role of kingmakers

In the 2008 general election Indians voted for Pakatan but for the coming election they are undecided and that is why their votes are so important for the opposition and BN

Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, earlier this week, released a detailed analysis of how the voting pattern, Indians in particular, went during the 2008 general election with some comparisons from 2004. The figures are both from independent analysts as well as from Hindraf, the ad hoc apolitical human rights movement run from London.

Extrapolating from the figures by logical deduction, Hindraf has since discovered that the Indian community is generally split down the middle, confirming earlier observations. Both national coalitions, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat, today command equal support from among Indians.

This emerging scenario can only be seen as a severe setback for Pakatan which could commanded 85 per cent Indian support during the 2008 general election. This made a telling difference in 63 of the 67 Parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia where Indians make up a significant number of the voters while Malay votes were generally for BN.

If elections were to be held tomorrow, Hindraf projects that some 30 per cent of the registered Indian voters would again, as in previous elections, not turn out at all. Hence, it appears that one problem here is strategizing in a way which can help increase the Indian voter turnout come polling day to head in a particular political direction. Traditionally, such voters can be seen as pro-opposition.

Of the remaining 70 per cent, 49 per cent comprise the underclass championed by Hindraf for being denied even cendol permits among others, 14 per cent the middle class – about three-quarters still for Pakatan as in 2008 — and seven per cent the top crust which have always been with the BN.

The underclass is equally divided between Pakatan and BN unlike in 2008 when 85 per cent of them voted with the makkal sakthi – people power – wave to put the opposition in power in five states and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

Indian underclass disillusionment with Pakatan, the reason for the trek away from the opposition alliance, is hardly surprising. The opposition state governments in Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan have been seen as largely too pre-occupied with reaching an enduring power-sharing accommodation between the Malays and Chinese, rather than worrying about Indian woes.

The DAP has been largely dismissive of Indian efforts to strike out politically on its own and sees the community as part of its own, ostensibly multiracial, turf.

The Indians don’t see why they must add to the strength of the Chinese numbers in the state assemblies and Parliament at their expense. Indian DAP leaders beg to differ. However, they have been largely silenced and shackled by their own incompetence and impotence in the wake of the infamous Kampung Buah Pala incident in Penang where the DAP-led state government seized Indian trust land and chased out the inhabitants without batting an eyelid.

Losing the shackles

If nothing is done to intervene on the Indian voting pattern, including Hindraf staying out of the fray, it’s more than likely that Pakatan will lose Selangor and Kedah at the next, the 13th general election while only hanging on to Penang and Kelantan and missing the chance to re-take Perak which it won in 2008.

However, should Hindraf come out on the side of Pakatan and woo the Indian underclass as in 2008, it’s a certainty that the opposition alliance will not only maintain its current haul of four states, but re-take Perak and add Negri Sembilan as well. Again, the figures in the analysis of the voting trends in 2008 speak for themselves.

Getting Hindraf on board the Pakatan bandwagon would mean the opposition making a deal with its political wing, the Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRPM), to accept its latest minimum demand of five to seven Parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia and 14 to 15 state seats.

The party, as yet unregistered, had initially targeted 15 Parliamentary seats and 38 state seats. It’s likely that HRPM candidates would have to stand under the symbols of the various Pakatan component parties.

Between Hindraf, Pakatan and BN, the Indian community would have to consider whether or not they would be better off striking out on their own to bring change and reform to the politics of Malaysia.

There’s considerable interest, including from Hindraf, in a radical new school of thought making its way through cyberspace i.e. that the Indian community would be better off in the long run if they deliberately embarked on a strategy of uniting to throw out the ruling party, whether at the state or Federal level.

In short, the idea is not to vote for but against someone.

Elections not too soon

How this will translate into reality on the ground remains to be seen. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The Indians have nothing to lose but their shackles .

An intelligent guess-estimate, given the radical new school of thought, is that Pakatan would only be able to maintain Penang and Kelantan but, given Indian support, will re-take Perak and add Negri Sembilan to the haul. Again, these numbers would mean Pakatan would hang on to four state governments, two old, regain one and add a new one.

If proponents of the new school of thought have their way with or without Hindraf’s support, the Federal Government is likely to fall to Pakatan at the 13th general election but only if the opposition alliance can pull off the impossible and get the Indian community on board.

The current thinking among political pundits is that the BN, is in no great hurry to call for an early general election although Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has already begun his campaigning.

The political campaigning will continue, but the general election will only be held when the BN has completed its five-year term in 2013.

Between now and then, the opposition alliance will be reduced to watching the ruling party campaign desperately to cling on to power by hook-or-crook.

If the opposition alliance tries to emulate the BN and launch a similar political campaign of their own in preparation for the 13th GE, they are likely to be dragged to court by the police for not having the required permits.

RM2 million, 11,000 policemen to contain Bersih rally

The Home Ministry revealed that over RM2 million was spent to contain the one-day Bersih rally.

KUALA LUMPUR: Police spent a whopping RM2 million and used 11,000 policemen to contain the Bersih rally on July 9.

This was revealed by the Home Ministry in a written reply to a question posed by Seputeh MP, Teresa Kok, in Parliament.

The total cost to contain the “illegal” assembly which saw thousands of people taking to the streets was RM2, 018, 850.06.

“PDRM had to make preparations which included expenditure for additional fittings, food and drinks, lodging and other logistic needs,” Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in explaining the expenditures.

The Bersih 2.0 rally was to seek free and fair elections. Police fired tear gas and water cannons on some 50,000 demonstrators according to Bersih’s estimations, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests and scores of others injured.

Kok also enquired about the number of policemen that were deployed in the Klang Valley from the July 6 till 9.

The Home Ministry stated that policemen came from all over the country to help the Kuala Lumpur police contingent.

The number of policemen on duty that day in the Klang Valley were 11,046 with an additional of 2,600 officers on stand-by.

There were numerous complaints of police high-handedness during the rally. One such prominent example is the Tung Shin hospital incident where police were accused of firing tear-gas and spraying water cannon directly into the hospital compound.

The police had set up three special committees to look into such allegations; however, they have yet to release their reports.

Electoral reforms

The government’s response to the rally was heavily criticised as over-zealous and aggressive by the international community.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was forced to go on an extensive damage control measures, including making key concessions in a bid to recoup lost support from Malaysia’s huge chunk of fence-sitters.

Among them is the setting up of the parliamentary select committee (PSC) to look into cleaning up Malaysia’s election system but voters have greeted the move warily after he failed to promise the implementation of reforms before the 13th general election is held.

Najib is likely call for snap polls within the next six months.

The PSC, which held its first meeting this morning, will have six months to do its job and make recommendations on ways to improve the electoral process.

Putrajaya said the setting up of the panel was not an admission that the electoral system was flawed but was done in good will and to prevent any accusations of bias against the Election Commission in the future.

Bersih wants detailed breakdown

In an immediate reaction, Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said that a more transparent expenditure breakdown was needed.

“(Home Ministry) said that they spent RM2 million on food expenditure and others but I think a more transparent breakdown is needed on where the money went,” she told FMT.

Asked if the money spent was justified, she merely shrugged, saying that the police force was there to protect the people.

“But I think they spent more on suppressing the people more than food expenditure”.

ISA repeal delayed to consult stakeholders, say ministers

The Malaysian Insider
By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — The government said today that the Internal Security Act (ISA) can only be repealed in March as it needs to consult and engage with stakeholders to ensure “we get it right”.

The replacement of the ISA, which allows for preventive detention, with two new laws was the highlight of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Malaysia Day address in which he promised more freedom to the public.

But opposition lawmakers have called the delay in repealing the law, which it says Barisan Nasional (BN) abuses to silence dissent, a “cop out” as the prime minister is likely to call snap polls soon after Budget 2012 is passed.

“No, it’s a question of engagement and consultation. We want to get it right,” Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture) told reporters when quizzed on the delay.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz also said that the new laws were now in the hands of the Attorney-General and the government would need to be cautious when repealing the ISA.

“If we have no new law, then we must immediately release terrorists currently detained under the ISA,” the de facto law minister told reporters in Parliament today.

When told that the Bar Council has said that no new laws were needed as Malaysia had other legislation to deal with terrorism, Nazri said “that is the Bar’s view and it is one which we will look at.”

Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled in Parliament today the repeal of the Restricted Residence Act and the Banishment Act, as announced in his Malaysia Day address to kick off his reform package.

The repeal of the two laws is scheduled for debate on Wednesday.

However, the repeals of the ISA and three emergency declarations were not mentioned in Dewan Rakyat today.

These reforms appear to be key concessions by Najib to win back middle Malaysia before snap polls expected early next year.

His administration had come under heavy fire for its clampdown on the July 9 Bersih rally for free and fair elections.

Police had fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse tens of thousands of demonstrators in chaotic scenes which resulted in nearly 1,700 arrested, scores injured and the death of an ex-soldier.

Haj Pilgrims Reminded Not To Hide Diseases

MEDINA, Oct 4 (Bernama) -- Pilgrims have been reminded not to falsify documents or try to hide information about diseases because they want to perform the haj.

Medina Haj Operations Director (Medical) Dr Mahyin Kudong said they were cases where pilgrims tried to hide information about health or attempted to falsify documents fearing they would not be allowed to perform haj.

He said haj pilgrims who hid their diseases would only complicate detection of health problems if they suddenly fall ill.

"Pilgrims must take medication at certain time, drink a lot of water, avoid long exposure to sunlight and get plenty of rest," he told a Tabung haji (TH) media task force at pilgrims treatment centre at Alauddin building here today.

Diseases which pilgrims tried to hide include diabetes, kidney failure and high blood pressure.

Earlier, the media members were brought to tour the treatment facility provided at the medical centre which opened several few days ago.

Dr Mahyin said the treatment centre provides 20 beds for patients and more could be made available to accommodate more patients.

"If after adding the beds, we can't accommodate the patients, they will be sent to other hospitals in Saudi Arabia.

"But this has not happened as we have enough beds. It may not be comfortable as they will be less space but it is not serious and does not last long," he added.

The medical team in Mecca and Medina consist of 253 staff with 30 specialist doctors, 19 medical officers while the remaining are assistant medical officers and nurses.

At Medina, a medical team with a doctor is always stationed at the airport as soon as the flight carrying pilgrims from Malaysia arrived.

A team of two doctors are stationed at two major pilgrim hotels in Medina - Al-Haram Hotel and Movenpick Hotel while the rest are placed at Alauddin building.

Muslim extremists and authorities shut down Protestant church in West Java

by Mathias Hariyadi

The village chief in Mekargalih, along with members of the Islamic Defender Front, expels Christians from their place of worship for allegedly engaging in “proselytising” in a predominantly Muslim area. A Christian woman complains, “Police have no guts against this radical group.” Pancasila principles are violated.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A group of extremists from the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) have shut down a Protestant church in Jatinangor, in Bandung sub district, last Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. As in previous occasions in which Christian places of worship were seized and religious activities interrupted, the fundamentalists were aided and abetted by the local administration.

Recently, rumours spread according to which the Protestant church was a haven for a “community of newly baptised”. Extremists also accuse Rev Bernard Maukar, head of the Christian community, of engaging in proselytising in a predominantly Muslim area.

Arief Saefolah, village chief in Mekargalih (where the church is located), said he had the right to close down the place of worship as “illegal” because it was within his jurisdiction. “This area is under my authority,” he told the Christian community. “Please, get out as soon as possible.”

Tensions had been rising until last Friday’s showdown. Saefolah and other local security officials (Satpol PP), plus 30 FPI members, seized all Christian properties, including chairs, musical instruments, tables and cars.

A Christian woman from the community, known only by her nickname Pur, lamented the fact that police did not lift a finger to stop the “vandalism”. In her view, “police have no guts against this radical group.”

The village chief denied claims that he brought in FPI fundamentalists to shut down the church. However, he did urge Christians to “go elsewhere” to worship their faith.

Outraged, Christians had rejected the proposal because it would force them to undertake long trips. Besides, they note that Arief Saefolah’s orders violate the principles of Pancasila, which define modern Indonesia, based on pluralism and freedom of worship.

Devamany: Amendments to protect workers

Decision on Najib, Rosmah’s application on Thursday

The judge will decide if the prime minister and his wife will have to appear in court as defence witnesses in Anwar's trial.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court will decide on Thursday the joint application by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor to set aside subpoenas compelling the couple to testify in Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II trial.

Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah set the date after hearing submissions from the couple’s lawyers, as well as from lawyers representing Anwar.

Anwar’s argument is that it was important to have Najib and Rosmah to testify in his trial so that he could find out what had transpired in a meetings involving the prime minister and complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Anwar also wants Rosmah to explain about her meeting with Muhamad Rahimi Osman, a close friend of Saiful. (Rahimi was said to have gone to Rosmah to seek assistance on behalf of his friend.)

Najib and Rosmah have however stressed that they have no knowledge of the alleged sodomy and stated they were not relevant to the trial.

Both had denied conspiring with anyone to incriminate Anwar despite Najib admitting in his affidavit that he had met Saiful two days prior to the alleged sodomy.

One of Najib’s lawyers, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, today submitted that the couple could not provide “relevant and material” evidence to the proceedings.

He also accused the defence of embarking on a “fishing expedition”as Anwar had failed to show connections and nexus on why both Najib and Rosmah could provide relevant evidence to the trial’s proceedings.

Meetings not linked to trial

Reading excerpts of Najib’s affidavit, Teh said: “I have no knowledge at all of the incident (sodomy) that had occurred on June 26. I have never seen Saiful before June 24, I only met him then and do not know him previously”.

Teh argued that the June 24 meeting had no relevance to what had happened on June 26.

“This meeting has got no nexus or connection whatsoever with the (sodomy) charge on June 26. He (Anwar) wants Najib to provide further clarification and gratification on what had happened on June 24. But there is no connection,” he said.

He added that the primary charge in the trial was to prove whether the sodomy act had occurred on June 26 and not to discuss matters which happened “a day before or the day after”.

On Rosmah’s meeting with Rahimi, Teh asked what was the connection between the meeting and what had transpired on June 26. He also said that Rosmah in her affidavit had denied ever meeting Saiful.

Adding to this argument, Solicitor General Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden said that nowhere in Anwar’s affidavit did he state what relevant evidence did Najib and Rosmah have in order for them to testify in court.

“(Anwar) has to show that Najib and Rosmah have in their possession relevant evidence to cause them to testify in court. In both affidavits, nothing has been stated on what is the relevant or material evidence (that they possess) that is significant and essential to help the court come up with a decision,” he said.

“Not only does he have to show the evidence, he must show the evidence which will effect and influence the court’s decision and that the respondent (Anwar) has failed,” he added.

Important to know what transpired at meetings

Anwar’s lawyer Karpal Singh argued that Najib had admitted meeting Saiful for half an hour, and this was “quite a period of time” during which they must have discussed other matters which may be relevant to the trial.

He added that since clarification and explanation over the meetings were sought, and both Najib and Rosmah had declined to be interviewed by Anwar’s counsel on Aug 12, a subpoena was the only way to obtain more information.

“We wanted to know from the prime minister of what transpired during this time,” he said.

He also said that it was ‘mind-boggling” that Saiful, merely two days after receiving advice from Najib to lodge a police report on Anwar’s alleged actions, would allow himself to be sodomised again on June 26.

“Surely, one would follow the advice of a personality of no mean rank,” he said.

On Rosmah, Karpal argued that investigating officer DSP Jude Blacious Pereira had given evidence in the trial that a statement under section 112 of the Criminal Code Procedure (CPC) had been recorded from Rosmah.

Karpal said that under Section 112, she was “suppose to have been acquainted with the facts and circumstance of the case” against Anwar. Hence it was bona fide to ask Rosmah to appear in court.

Last month, Najib and Rosmah were subpoenaed by Anwar’s defence team to appear as defence witnesses.

On Sept 21, Najib and Rosmah filed the applications to set aside the subpoenas, which was heard before the trial judge today.

Anwar, 64, claimed trial on Aug 7, 2008, to committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

Anwar’s trial meanwhile will continue tomorrow.

Indians need affirmative action

Premier Najib Tun Razak's programmes targetting the Indian community is too focused on 'giving out handouts', says Denison Jayasooria.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Indian community which comprise less than 10% of the Malaysia’s 27 million population has always cried discrimination even from as far back as the 1970s when the New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced to, primarily, help improve the lot of the Malays.

Since independence and despite lacking in numbers and economic strength, the Malaysian Indian community has struggled to make their plight heard while giving its undivided support to the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

But in 2008, the community finally lost its patience and gave their votes to the opposition in the 12th general election.

This caused the BN to lose its customary two-thirds hold in the Parliament. The community gave the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition historic wins in five states.

Their swing to the opposition proved that the Indian votes are a force to be reckoned with and should never be taken for granted any longer.

In a recent interview, former Yayasan Strategik Sosial (YSS) director Denison Jayasooria shared his thoughts on the issues plaguing the Indian community and ways to address their plight.

Understanding Indians

For starters, he said, the government must understand that the Indian community is not a homogenous group.

“There are socio-economic, historical and cultural differences within the community itself,” said Denison.

He said the government should prioritise helping Indians who come under the low income category.
This group, he said, consisted of mainly former plantations workers or their descendants.

Denison explained that when plantation land were taken away for massive development projects in the 80s, the community was forced to move to urban areas.

Lacking the necessary skills to live in high density areas, the community’s social support system slowly deteriorated and eventually broke down as they were unable to fend for themselves.

“While political parties and non-governmental organisations did try to help, it was not enough to mitigate the adverse effects caused by the displacements, rendering them marginalised and disadvantaged,” said Denison.

Needs of minorities ignored by some

Being low income earners also poured fuel into the fire as the Indian youths felt helpless. Many turned to crime to earn a living.

To help them, Denison said the government should moot an affirmative action plan to assist the minority groups in the country.

“And the plan should include all low income earners such as the aborigines and the indigenous people from East Malaysia.

“The aid must be given on a needs basis,” said Denison.
He added that although the NEP was originally crafted to address this issue, over time, the needs of the minority were ignored by certain institutions.

He added that under the premiership of Najib Tun Razak, the government had introduced many programmes through the YSS, the social wing of MIC and the newly minted Special Implementation Taskforce which comes under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department..

However, Denison said, the programmes are very much politicised and were more focused on dishing out handouts to the community.

“What the community really needs is a comprehensive plan to break away from the cycle of poverty,” said Denison.

Need for better access 

For starters, Denison said, the community needs better access to pre-school programmes and more education and skills training opportunities.

“The Indians also need comprehensive training on how to start a business and easier access to micro credit schemes,” he said.

Denison also lauded the Pakatan-led state governments for mooting their own projects to address the needs of the Indian community.

“States like Selangor and Penang have included Indian civil society leaders as local councillors and direct allocations have been made to help the community there,” said Denison.

However, he admitted the programmes would take time to bear fruit as there is no shortcut to solve problems plaguing the community for decades.

“But I’m optimistic that Indian community would overcome these hurdles sooner or later,” he said.

Khalid Samad on Hudud and Heroes of Independence

Women Appear on India Inc's Radar

Anything men can do, I can do better
Companies finally look at a major untapped talent resource
Corporate India, facing a looming talent crunch, is reversing historical gender discrimination against women in a concerted drive to augment their female headcount.

Companies are not only bringing in more women, they are also trying to retain the existing lot in novel and more proactive ways. A recent study by the Chennai-based FLEXI Careers India, which sources only women executives, suggests that diversity hiring intent among leading companies has gone up by almost 500 percent since last year.

That is a dramatic reversal from 2001, when the census found that most women remained outside the organized sector, with women making up only 2.3 percent of administrators and managers as well as only 20.5 percent of professional and technical. Women suffer enormous disparities in the wider society. According to a report by the Insead graduate business school, 2010 literacy rates for women – crucial for representation in the workforce -- were 53.67 percent, lagging those for men at 75.26 percent

The multinationals are at the forefront of attempts to reverse these figures. Software giant IBM India, for instance, is conducting women-only recruitment drives across different Indian cities several times a year. The organization has hired more than 2,000 women workers in the past two years, pushing up the organization’s total tally of female workers from 24 percent to 26 percent.

Companies like Hindustan Unilever Ltd., Godrej Industries, PepsiCo India, Genpact, Kraft, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Deutsche Bank, among others have also stepped up their gender diversity hiring. The sectors actively recruiting women include telecoms, retail, outsourcing and knowledge processing firms, and pharmaceutical research companies.

Energy management company Schneider Electric, 50 percent of whose employees are blue-collar workers, has also pushed up its women’s headcount from 9 percent in 2009 to a still-modest 20 percent this year. Banking and financial services, hospitality, media and consulting too, are seeking to drive up female employee numbers. The flexibility of work hours and work-from-home options introduced by various IT firms has been a major factor in hiring and retaining women.

The food and beverage conglomerate Kraft has gone a step ahead by hiring women for what were hitherto “male-specific” jobs: finance, legal and frontline, modern trade roles. At IBM, more women are opting for positions in technology and product development.

The drive to hire women makes sense considering there is a worldwide shortage of job-seekers with industry-specific training, both male and female, but it is an overwhelming issue in Asia. Common sense dictates that more women be trained in fields where demand for talent is high.

"As corporations face increased global competition from everywhere, they must build growth and drive strategy,” says Arjun Sabharwal, human resources director of Compscope, a Delhi-based IT company. “India Inc wants more women on its rolls, not because it's fashionable, but because it makes good business sense. This creates the need for experts with diverse skill sets. The best ideas flourish in a diverse environment, and companies benefit from accessing female talent.”

Companies are increasingly endorsing healthy male-female ratios coupled with being equal opportunity providers. More and more women are actively participating in career enhancement and growth within the corporate world --hence pushing boundaries of their career span further.

According to a Global Asia report “The Secret to Asia's Long-term Prosperity? Improving Roles for Women at Work” by David Arkless, Asian women are among the most under-utilized assets in today's labor market. Limits on women's participation in the workforce across the Asia-Pacific region cost the economy an estimated US$89 billion a year.

Increasing the number of women in the workforce, suggests the report, “will not only stimulate greater economic growth; it would provide a model for gender parity in all regions of the world.”

The study also suggests that bringing more women into the workforce is a necessary and vital step for companies to thrive in today's cutthroat competition. “A swelling women’s workforce will accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty, improve health care and social programs and ensure greater social well-being across the region.”

According to the global HR consultancy Hewitt Associates, a majority of Indian companies, particularly those in infrastructure and energy sectors, are keen on a women’s-only recruitment drive in the next few quarters.

Analysts say that despite eagerness to hire women in India, their presence at senior management echelons is hardly noticeable as most quit long before reaching the top rungs. A study by Women in Leadership (WILL) Forum underscores that far fewer women are in senior positions in Indian companies compared with multinational firms.

Western companies in the country still remain several notches higher in having women-friendly policies. The WILL study states that Indian banks like Axis Bank had 21 percent women participation in its total workforce. In comparison, 43 percent of total staff strength in American Express’s work force of 5,500 are women. The study also shows that 84 percent of Indian subsidiaries of multinationals have adopted women's advancement strategies compared with only 37 percent of India-headquartered companies.

What do the male candidates have to say about their organization’s female-centric HR policies? While many welcome the move, others are not so sure.

“There's a price to be paid for diversity. Women often have to manage both home and office in India, while men do not,” says Kumar Bhasin, an entrepreneur and former Infosys employee. “If we want them to compete on equal terms, we will have to provide for a handicap else it won’t be a level playing field.”

Says another male employee, “By giving precedence to men, we lose out on the thoughts, perspectives and rich ideas that women can bring to the table. This thought process encourages an unbalanced, male-centric society.”

However, most employees are unambiguous that though diversity makes for a good HR policy, it shouldn't be practiced just for the sake of meeting a quota requirement. “Diversity is about having a healthy mix and being inclusive in your thinking,” Sabharwal said. “It shouldn’t be at the cost of ruling out meritorious male candidates.”

(Neeta Lal is a New Delhi-based senior journalist)

Najib’s ISA Replacement Laws Are Against Democratic Norms

I refer to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s statement in the Dewan Rakyat today that the two new laws intended to replace the ISA will ” provide a balance between civil liberties and safeguarding public order.” This is a hollow and misleading statement designed to persuade the people of this country that detention without trial is necessary, and that their fundamental freedoms will be protected. It is important to remember that under the new ISA replacement laws, preventive detention will be allowed for both terrorism and public order threats. The PM in his September 15 speech cited the United States and United Kingdom as examples of countries allowing preventive detention. This was frankly dishonest of the Prime Minister. In contrast with Najib’s proposed new laws, the US and UK do not allow preventive detention on public order grounds; both countries allow very limited preventive detention in suspected terrorism cases only. In the US only non-citizens can be held without trial as in the case of the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States constitution absolutely prohibits security-related preventive detention. As such Najib’s new preventive detention law on public order grounds has no parallel in countries like the US, UK, Australia or Canada. It is aberrant in a democracy and anathema to the rule of law.

As regards terrorism laws, it should be noted that the UK, Australia and Canada anti-terrorism provisions are extremely limited. In Australia, detention is only allowed in the case of an ” imminent terrorist act” and limited to 14 days. Anti-terrorist laws in the UK allow up to 14 days detention, whereas Canada allowed preventive detention only for 72 hours. Even these limited preventive laws have come under severe criticism in the respective countries.The trend in the West is to progressively reduce preventive detention powers. There has been no preventive detention law in Canada since 2007, when the Canadian parliament acted on principle and refused to renew it. In the UK, the previous detention limit of 28 days was reduced to 14 days earlier this year. In short, there are no ISA-like anti-terrorist laws existing in advanced Western countries post- 9/11. This is a deliberately distorted picture advanced by many BN leaders, including the Prime Minister in his September 15 speech, in order to justify the continued existence of detention without trial laws in Malaysia. Trying to justify detention without trial on public order grounds, by vague and inaccurate references to terrorism laws in the West is unprincipled and unbecoming in a sitting Prime Minister. In any case, the terrorism threat can be combated by tightening existing penal laws that target terrorism related activities, and by good police and intelligence work. The PM and his Cabinet must urgently reverse the government’s intention to replace the ISA with two new preventive detention laws and repeal Article 149 of the Federal Constitution. All laws passed by our nation’s Parliament must be consistent with the rule of law and and international legal norms.

Issued by,


Press freedom, a la MCA

by Thomas Lee Seng Hock

MCA president Chua Soi Lek has declared that his party wants the current restrictive and oppressive Printing Presses and Publications Act scrapped, to keep up with the increasing public demands for more openness and freedom of expression.

Chua said at the recently concluded 58th MCA annual general assembly that the aspirations of the new generation of Malaysians for a more liberal and democratic society means that the Barisan Nasional government should be bold and confident enough to dump the intolerable piece of harsh and authoritarian legislation, not just make amendments to it.

“We must work towards abolishing the Printing Presses and Publications Act and set a time frame for that. The government has to be bold and confident enough to take such a step,” he said.

Chua pointed out that there is no level playing field now in the communication and information arena between the traditional main stream media (MSM) and the fast expanding and influential cyber media.

“The print media is subject to various laws, but the new media seem to have a free hand. There should be no such discrimination,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced in his Malaysia Day message to the nation on 16 September 2011 that the Barisan Nasional administration would amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act to exempt newspaper publishers from the current mandatory obligationto apply for a new printing permit annually.

The MCA proposal to go beyond just making adjustment to the intensely unacceptable and undesirable legislation iscertainly commendable and deserving of praise and support.

But, an honest and objective look at the current attitude, policy and practice of the party in the area of press freedom surely exposes the hollowness of the Chua proposal, and the insincerity,and even hypocrisy, of the party leadership.

If Chua and the MCA are truly and sincerely in favour and supportive of the real and pragmatic practice of press freedom, advocating the unrestrictive, unregulated, and unreserved media culture in the country, then the very first thing the MCA must do is to divest itself totally of its control of The Star and other related publications, by selling its shares in these media companies to the general public. At the same time,the party must remove all political appointees currently running the editorial operation of The Star and the party-controlled Chinese newspapers.

Chua Soi Lek should shut up about the issue of press freedom if he is not able to make the MCA give up the control of The Star and other newspapers it currently owns.

The political control of the nation’snewspapers is surely the most glaring and conspicuous of a bad press culture,of which the MCA is among the top two culprits, the other being Umno which controls the Utusan Malaysia and other Bahasa Melayu newspapers.

Chua Soi Lek wants to project himself as one who believes in and advocates the practice of a free press culture, yet he is not prepared to lift the political control and abuse of the newspapers owned by the party.

If The Star can publish in full Chua’s presidential address at the MCA assembly, it should also publish in full the policy message of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, if it is truly a free and independent paper, with the catchphrase tagline “The People’s Paper”.

The political slant in its news reporting and political commentaries is very obvious. Anything spoken by the MCA bosses must be published in full, while anything from the DAP or other opposition groups, especially those critical of the MCA, will not see the light of day.

Editors at the MCA-control newspapers practise self-censorship to ensure nothing detrimental to the party and its leaders is published. Such a bad press culture in these newspapers is largely responsible for the eroding of the independence and freedom of the media in our nation.

I challenge Chua Soi Lek to walk the talk on the matter of press freedom by freeing The Star and the MCA-owned Chinese newspapers from the party control. The test of his credibility and sincerity is not just in the talk advocating a free press culture, but in a determined, decisive, and deconstructive effort to deactivate the political control and abuse of The Star and other MCA-owned newspapers.

Until Chua Soi Lek liberates The Star and other MCA-control newspapers, he has no moral right to talk about the freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Public Seminar on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia

Bar Council together with Delegation of the EU to Malaysia and SUHAKAM will hold a public seminar titled "The Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia". This is the first public seminar under the Anti-Death Penalty Campaign. To learn more about this issue, please come and attend the seminar which will be held as follows:

Date: 13 Oct 2011 (Thursday)
Time: 3:00 pm to 7:30pm
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur

For more details or to register, please contact Adi Irman (03-2050 2102; or Adilah Ariffn (03-2050 2091; or click here to download Circular No 187/2011 dated 25 Aug 2011.

Najib, Rosmah Not Relevant Witnesses To Anwar's Sodomy Trial - Counsel

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, were not relevant or material witnesses in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's ongoing sodomy trial, the High Court heard Monday.

Counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, representing Najib and Rosmah, said although the first applicant (Najib) in his affidavit in support, admitted that he had met complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan on June 24, 2008, two days before the alleged offence, there was no connection and nexus to the charge faced by the respondent (Anwar).

"We agree with the contention of the respondent (Anwar) that he has the right to subpeona both Najib and Rosmah, but at the same time, the applicants also have the right to come to court in setting aside the subpeonas," he argued.

Citing several case laws in relation to material witness, Hisyam said Anwar had no legal right to call witnesses who did not have in their possession, any material evidence.

Referring to Najib's affidavit to support his application to set aside the subpoena, he said the charge faced by Anwar was on the alleged incident on June 26, 2008 and therefore, whatever transpired between Najib and Mohd Saiful during a meeting at his residence in Taman Duta, two days earlier (June 24), was not relevant to the case.

In the application filed on Sept 29, Najib and Rosmah sought the High Court to set aside the subpeona and stressed there was no conspiracy whatsoever, against Anwar, nor did they instruct anyone to fabricate incriminating evidence against the accused.

"It's our submission that it is just a 'fishing expedition' and abuse of the court process on the part of the first respondent and therefore, the court should allow the applicants' applications in setting aside the subpeonas," said Hisyam.

He submitted that it was very clear that the purpose of the two subpoenas was clarification and confirmation for Najib and Rosmah on what transpired during the meeting with Mohd Saiful.

"The law, as it stands, allows both the applicants to have the subpoenas set aside, if the party requesting the subpoenas to be issued, cannot pass the twin tests of relevancy and materiality," he added.

Karpal Singh, in his submission, told the court that the purpose for subpoena was for clarification on Mohd Saiful's visit and meeting with the then deputy prime minister.

He said Najib's former special officer, Datuk Khairul Anaz Jusoh, during the witness interview on May 25, this year, had told the defence counsel that Najib and Mohd Saiful's meeting lasted for an hour.

Karpal said the time was quite substantial and the defence wanted to know what actually transpired.

"Such evidence would be, it is emphasised, relevant and material. It is submitted that the application by Anwar is bona fide and does not constitute abuse of process of court nor oppression against the prime minister. The right of the party to the attendance of a witness is a crucial part of the judicial system," he said.

Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden, representing the second respondent (prosecution) supported Hisyam's submissions.

He said Anwar had to show the court the relevant evidence in Najib and Rosmah's possession, but failed to do so.

He said the relevant or material evidence was essential to influence the court to arrive at a decision.

Najib, in his affidavit affirmed on Sept 23, this year, had confirmed he had met Mohd Saiful on June 24, 2008, about 8.30pm at his residence where Mohd Saiful had told him he was sodomised by first respondent (Anwar).

He also stated that he had told Mohd Saiful to leave the matter for police investigations.

Najib said that since he had no knowledge or information from the complainant on the alleged incident on June 26, 2008, he could not assist Anwar in his defence.

He said the subpoena obtained by Anwar was malafide and an abuse of the court process.

Rosmah, in her affidavit affirmed on Sept 21, said she never met or spoke to Mohd Saiful at anytime, and therefore, she could not give any information or evidence on any issue raised by the defence.

Anwar, 64, pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court on Aug 7, 2008, to committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26, the same year.

The trial judge, Justice Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, set Thursday for decision on the application.

Chemistry Department director-general Lim Kong Boon will testify at the main trial which resumes tomorrow.