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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cops kicked boy, pushed girl to ground, Bersih inquiry told

Protesters fleeing after another round of tear gas during the Bersih rally, from the file pics.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — Riot police violently shoved a tudung-clad reporter to the ground while others repeatedly kicked a boy during the Bersih 2.0 rally crackdown, a witness told a public inquiry into the July 9 protests today. Kenneth Steven Chan Wen Chin told the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry he saw a Selangor TV female reporter accosted in Brickfields.
“We were headed to Jalan Tun Sambanthan where we heard police personnel shouting “Tangkap! Tangkap!” (Arrest! Arrest!). We saw a Malay girl with a tudung, police grabbed her and pushed her to the ground very roughly, pushing her head down on the road,” said Chan.
He said his girlfriend, who is a reporter, was present with him when the incident happened and they took pictures.
Chan also claims he saw several policemen kicking a boy in Jalan Pudu, and that he had also taken photographs of the alleged incident.
“The police warned us against taking pictures, saying they would break our camera. The boy was saying something about the police and they moved in on him.”
Chan is the first witness to testify in the inquiry which has set itself three terms of references- to identify human rights violations on or before July 9, to determine how the violations occurred, the process and agency involved and to make recommendations to prevent any recurrence.
The inquiry is led by Suhakam vice-chairman Professor Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee, commissioners Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen.
The Bar Council is represented by Roger Chan and Richard Wee, while the police is represented by ASP N Rajagopal and ASP Lim Chee Wah.

Sultan’s ruling given cautionary welcome

Harapan Komuniti's lawyer says that the Sultan's statement suggests that proselytising did take place during the NGO's Thanksgiving dinner.

PETALING JAYA: The Sultan of Selangor’s ruling that no group should be prosecuted over the controversial raid on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) on Aug 3 has been cautiously welcomed by a lawyer of one of the accused parties.

The Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) raided a Thanksgiving dinner organised by NGO Harapan Komuniti following a tip-off that proselytising activities were taking place during the event.

Harapan Komuniti denied this and insisted that the event was a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS supporters.

In a statement yesterday, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah ruled that the JAIS report on the raid indicated that its actions were correct and had not breached any state laws.

The sultan also ordered JAIS to provide counselling to the Muslims present at the dinner to restore their belief and faith in the religion.

While DUMC has “warmly welcomed” the sultan’s ruling, Annou Xavier of Messrs Azri, Lee Swee Seng & Co who represents Harapan Komuniti has refrained from expressing the same sentiments.

“I can’t say if I’m happy or not because the sultan’s statement was neither here nor there,” he told FMT.

“If you read it carefully the sultan appears to have alluded to the fact that proselytising had indeed taken place during the dinner.

“Also the manner in which JAIS had conducted the raid was thoroughly unprofessional in its casting of aspersions and leaking details of the initial findings of its investigations.”

Death threat on Harapan Komuniti

A six-minute video clip showing scenes of the raid surfaced on pro-Umno blogs two weeks after the raid followed by photographs and personal details of the Muslim dinner guests.

Questions were raised as to how supposedly confidential JAIS evidence had fallen into these bloggers’ hands.

Xavier also said that he hadn’t yet seen JAIS’ final report and wasn’t privy to any of the details.

“Since we are the accused party, the least JAIS could do is give us a copy of the final report,” he said.

“I’ll have to ask the DUMC lawyers whether they have already requested one from JAIS.”

He added that DUMC and Harapan Komuniti are expected meet later this week and issue a joint statement on the sultan’s ruling.

On another note, Xavier said that no progress had been made on investigations into the death threat received by Harapan Komuniti on Aug 26.

“Everything is still status quo and we don’t expect it to change,” he stated.

“If the police didn’t investigate the death threat received by (Home Affairs minister) Hishammudin (Hussein) then who are we to expect any different?”

Abolish all forms of death penalties, says Amnesty

The Star (Used by permission)

KUALA LUMPUR: Parliament should not just look into abolishing the mandatory death sentence for certain offences in Malaysia but all death penalties.

Amnesty International-Malaysia (AI-M) executive director Nora Murat said Malaysia made history on June 27 when an inter-parliamentarian caucus under Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz agreed to push for a resolution to abolish the mandatory death penalty.

However, she urged political leaders to not just abolish the mandatory death penalty but completely abolish the death penalty in Malaysia.

“We need to follow the human rights trend of the 140 UN member states who are abolitionist either in law or practice,” said Nora, in conjunction with the ninth World Day against Death Penalty yesterday.

She said Malaysia was already taking the right step - there was only one execution between January and September 2010.

Nora said the mandatory death penalty stripped judges of their ability to make good sentencing decisions, adding that there had been cases where the mandatory death penalty resulted in miscarriage of justice and unfairly discriminated against the poor and uneducated.

Describing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's Malaysia Day speech as breaking the ground for a better human rights culture, Nora said Malaysia would be seen as a state that placed human rights as its guiding principle by “executing the death penalty.”

Nora is among the speakers at a public forum to be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Thursday.

Others include Nazri, who will deliver the keynote address, and Lord Alf Dubs of the British House of Lords.

This is the first seminar under the Anti-Death Penalty Campaign - a joint effort by the Bar Council's Human Rights Committee, Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia and Suhakam.

Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr sentenced to 90 lashes, year in jail for role in My Tehran for Sale

Marzieh Vafamehr
Scene from My Tehran For Sale...actresses Marzieh Vafamehr and Asha Mehrabi. Source: Supplied
AN Iranian actress who helped make a movie with Australian film producers has been sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in jail.
Actress Marzieh Vafamehr was handed the sentence on the weekend, according to a Iranian opposition website

'A verdict has been issued for Marzieh Vafamehr, sentencing her to a year in jail and 90 lashes. Her lawyer has appealed the sentence, which was handed down yesterday (Saturday),' the website stated.

Vafamehr was arrested in July after appearing in 'My Tehran for Sale,' which came under harsh criticism in conservative circles.

The film, produced in collaboration with Australia, tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose theatre work is banned by the authorities.

She is then forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically.

The Fars news agency said the movie had not been approved for screening in Iran and was being distributed in the country illegally.

Vafamehr was released in late July after posting unspecified bail.

Anwar on MPs' allowances

Lagi video ‘Anwar’ di Bangkok ditayang

Video dalam blog upahan Umno pagi tadi mendakwa kejadian itu berlaku semasa Anwar berada di Patpong, Bangkok.

(Video Didalam) PETALING JAYA: Skandal klip video adegan lucah yang didakwa melibatkan Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim didedahkan lagi, kini dikatakan berlaku pada 13 Januari lalu di Bangkok, Thailand.

Klip video kira-kira dua minit itu mula dimuat naik dalam blog upahan Umno pagi tadi, mendakwa kejadian itu berlaku semasa Anwar berada di Patpong, Bangkok dua hari sejak 12 Januari lalu.

Bertajuk “Paman Anwar di Patpong Bangkok”, adegan itu dirakam dalam sebuah bilik dan kamera difokuskan ke arah katil menunjukkan tempoh masa bermula pada pukul 1.54 pagi dan waktu terakhir pada 8.30 pagi.

Manakala pelaku yang dikatakan ‘Anwar’ itu kelihatan memakai jubah mandi sedang berlegar-legar disekeliling bilik sambil memegang telefon bimbit.

Bagaimanapun, visual kamera itu gagal menunjukkan jelas rupa paras individu dalam video tersebut, tambahan ia rakaman hitam-putih.

Penulis blog upahan Umno ‘Papa Gomo’ dalam blognya mendakwa Anwar berlepas ke Bangkok pada 12 Januari lalu menggunakan pesawat Malaysia Airlines (MAS) bernombor MH 782 dan berlepas pada jam 3.15 petang dari Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur (KLIA).

Katanya, Anwar kemudiannya tiba di Bangkok pada jam 4.20 petang waktu Thailand atau jam 5.30 petang waktu Malaysia.

“Video ini adalah rakaman tulen dan sahih seratus peratus ketulenannya. Pelaku didalam video ini juga adalah Datuk Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim yang mana beliau tahu dan pasti beliau adalah pelakunya,” kata penulis blog itu.

Beliau mendakwa setelah lebih kurang 19 jam berada di Bangkok untuk ‘aktiviti-aktiviti’ dan ‘tugas-tugas rasmi’ tertentu, Anwar pulang ke tanah air pada pukul 11.05 pagi dengan menggunakan pesawat MAS bernombor MH 785 dan tiba di KLIA pada pukul 2.15 petang dan kemudiannya ke Ibu Pejabat PAS di Kuala Lumpur pada pukul 5.30 petang.

Penulis blog itu turut membangkitkan persoalan mengenai kegiatan setiap kali pemergian Anwar ke Thailand sejak dua tahun lalu, soalan sama yang pernah diutarakan ahli perniagaan ‘Datuk T’ Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah sebelum ini dalam skandal video seks yang lalu.

“Rakaman penuh akan menyusul dan harus kita ingat bukan kami nak mengaibkan Anwar Ibrahim dan para keluarganya namun demi menyelamatkan rakyat Malaysia maka pekara sebegini haruslah didedahkan agar rakyat memilih pemimpin yang berkaliber bagi memimpin kita,” katanya.

Kohilan eyeing Puchong seat?

It is said that the deputy minister from Gerakan is sharpening his blade to recapture the parliamentary constituency from DAP.

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Foreign Minister A Kohilan Pillay is said to be eyeing the Puchong parliamentary seat, currently held by DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo.

Despite DAP’s easy victory in the last general election, there is no guarantee that the party would be able to retain the seat in the coming polls.

An unofficial report revealed that Puchong had now become one of the largest constituencies in the country with almost 100,000 voters as opposed to 75,625 voters in the last election.

Kohilan, who is the Gerakan vice president, would be able to win if the Indian voters swing back to Barisan Nasional.

The former Stamford College lecturer became a full-time politician after he was appointed senator in 2008.

Kohilan, who is also the Selangor Gerakan chairman, is said to be well-liked by the Indian community due to his ability to mingle with people from all walks of life.

Contacted later, a MIC branch chairman from Puchong admitted that there is a possibility for BN to recapture the Puchong seat.

Noting the importance of Indian votes for that seat, he said: “If it is true that BN will field an Indian candidate then BN stands a good chance of winning the seat.”

“We should understand that in 2008, DAP won the seat because of a major swing in Indian votes for the opposition due to the Hindraf rally,” he added, declining to be named.

‘Not happy with DAP’

Meanwhile, a local PKR branch chairman claimed that party members in Puchong were unhappy with the DAP administration there.

“As branch chairman, till today, I have not received a single cent from Gobind or (Kinrara assemblywoman and state exco) Teresa Kok.

“I’m a Pakatan Rakyat loyalist, but at the same how are you going to serve the community without help from the man in charge of the constituency?” he asked.

However, Puchong division PKR chief S Murali rubbished the branch chairman’s allegation.

“Gobind is doing a lot of good things in the constituency. So, why should the people vote against him?” he told FMT.

It aso rumoured that Gobind might replace his father Karpal Singh for the Bukit Gelugor parliament seat in Penang as the latter was expected to retire from politics.

“I have also heard about the rumour, but I believe Gobind will stand here again,” said Murali.

Budget alone can’t win back Penang

BN leaders admit that the 'feel good' factor in Budget 2012 will not win back the state. More must be done to inspire voters' confidence, they say.

GEORGE TOWN: The state Barisan Nasional acknowledges that the impressive Budget 2012 will not be enough to wrest back Penang from Pakatan Rakyat.

State BN information chief M Loga Balan (photo) said although the budget was much applauded as a people’s budget, the state BN needed to work a lot more to regain voters’ confidence.

“The prime issue of the budget is not winning elections. It’s the nation’s wealth being distributed for the people to enjoy. Budget alone won’t win back Penang for us,” the state PPP chairman told a press conference after a state BN working committee meeting here today.

Also present were committee chairman and Gerakan state chief Dr Teng Hock Nan, state MIC chief Senator PK Subbaiyah and state BN secretary Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

Prime Minister and Finance Minister Najib Tun Razak tabled the Budget in parliament last Friday.

Among the goodies for the people were RM500 cash gift each for households earning less than RM3,000 per month; RM100 cash gift each for all school pupils; and RM200 voucher each for Form Six and higher learning institute students.

State BN would set up a state secretariat to deal with the cash handouts to the people.

BN service centres of all 11 Umno state assemblymen, state constituency coordinators and two senators – Subbaiyah and Bukit Gelugor Umno women wing chief Norliza Abdul Rahim – would assist the secretariat.

The secretariat would be set up by the end of this year

Teng said the state BN had received positive grassroots feedbacks on the budget, while many people had inquired on details pertaining to the cash gifts.

‘Twist and turn’ Guan Eng slammed

Commenting on the unstable four-storey car-park near the Penang Hill lower station, Loga Balan slammed Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for resorting to his trademark politics of “twisting, turning and twirling” to blame BN for the project.

The completed car park raised public concern on the building’s stability following an independent soil investigation report carried out by UD Geotechnics Sdn Bhd on the structure in February 2009.

Referring to the October edition of state-published Buletin Mutiara, Loga Balan accused Lim of implying that the previous administration was responsible for the problem.

He said the question regarding the car park was not its viability but the technical details approved by the local council MPPP for the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) in 2009.

“The technical details were approved by the current government. Lim should stop spreading lies and blame others. He should have the guts to admit flaws of his administration,” he said.

The soil study was commissioned by PDC Consultancy Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of PDC, to UD Geotechnics.

Raja Nazrin asks Islamic religious council to review programmes

(Bernama) - IPOH: The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, wants the State Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIP) and Islamic Religious Department (JAIP) to review their programmes towards developing the Muslim community's economy in a sustainable manner.

He said greater attention should be given to economic activities involving the role of the Perak Islamic Economic Development Corporatision, zakat and Baitulmal, and managing of funds to ensure viability and high impact of every programme implemented.

Speaking at the 177th MAIP Conference here on Monday, Raja Nazrin said he not only wanted to see figures on vouchers and receipts audited, but also evaluation of programmes in terms of quality and impact towards achieving the objectives.

He said for a meaningful impact, MAIP and JAIP needed to place the Key Performance Indicators at a more dynamic level.

"The existing management culture needs to be revamped and the work culture of 'business as usual' be changed in every activity organised.

"Each year, I attend functions organised by MAIP and JAIP such as the Maulidur Rasul and Maal Hijrah celebrations. A lot of time and money were spent on organising these events, but each year the programmes were the same without the injection of innovative ideas to make them more dynamic.

"Such programmes have become ritual, merely to fill the calendar of events, and devoid of the spirit to touch the hearts of the attendees, thus not meeting the objectives."

In fact, he said, those who came were just obliging the invitations and returned home spiritually unfulfilled.

Raja Nazrin said MAIP and JAIP needed to take a new approach by giving a new image and content to the programmes to be organised in 2012.

He said the content and venues for the programmes should be planned early and carefully and after approval by the committee, be presented to him for his views and consent, especially on the financial implications.

The MAIP conference on Monday also recorded its condolences to the Raja Kecil Besar of Perak, Raja Iskandar Dzulkarnain Sultan Idris Shah, on the demise of his mother, Raja Perempuan Muzwin, on Oct 6.

Raja Nazrin also presented the letter of appointment to State Financial Officer Datuk Ghazali Jalal as a member of MAIP, replacing Datuk Jamaluddin Al-Amini who has gone on compulsory retirement. - Bernama

Malaysian Tycoon Embroiled in India Scandal

Ananda Krishnan in happier times
Ananda Krishnan, friend to top politicians, is charged in telecoms mess
Billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan, Malaysia’s richest man, has been ensnared in the giant telecommunications scandal that has wracked India and played a major role in fueling the protest led by Anna Hazare that threatens to bring down the Indian government and change the nature of politics.

Indian investigators have filed charges against the tycoon and a top Krishnan executive, Ralph Marshall, along with former Indian telecommunications minister Dayanidhi Maran and Maran’s brother, Kalanidhi, according to the Press Trust of India, on charges of criminal conspiracy over a controversial deal involving the telecommunications giant Maxis Communications Bhd. and a sister company of Krishnan’s, Aircel.

Few details have been given of the charges. Local media in Kuala Lumpur reported that Krishnan’s headquarters said they were aware of the charges but made no further comment and that the charges would have no effect on the stock. The Press Trust of India reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed charges in connection with the purchase by Maxis of Aircel India in 2006.

A sister company of Aircel invested R6.75 billion (US$137.5 million at current exchange rates) in the Maran family’s Sun TV DTH venture in 2006, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. Under the terms of the agreement, Ananda planned to produce TV channels catering to the Indian market, particularly to the Indian diaspora in the United States and Europe. Krishnan was said to also be planning TV services featuring Web-based interactivity.

The 73-year-old Krishnan was listed by Forbes Magazine as Asia’s second-richest businessman, with US$9.6 billion in assets, behind sugar king Robert Kuok. Born of Sri Lankan parents in relatively modest circumstances in Kuala Lumpur, Krishnan’s association with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is considered to have played a major role in amassing his fortune. His publicly traded gaming company, Tanjong, operates three lotteries in a predominantly Muslim country that frowns on gambling. He especially endeared himself to Mahathir by agreeing to become the anchor tenant in the country's iconic Petronas Towers, owned by the national energy company.
After Mahathir’s departure from power, Krishnan has continued to remain close to members of the ruling Barisan Nasional, He holds the title of Tan Sri, one of the highest accolades in Malaysia’s odd system of titles.

Krishnan has a dizzying number of businesses including media, satellites, oil and gas, telecommunications and a wide variety of other holdings involving power generation, gaming and leisure facilities across a broad swath of Southeast Asia including Singapore and Indonesia. His MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems boasts three communications satellites.

It isn’t the first time that Krishnan has found himself in a joint venture gone sour. In Indonesia, a high profile partnership between Krishnan's Astro and the Lippo Group's First Media pay TV operation was unwound and in dispute shortly after it reached the air. That JV, Direct Vision, ended up in private arbitration in Singapore as the two sides each accused the other of wrongdoing. Astro sought $250 million in damages. The arbitration court found in Astro's behalf but the bitterness reportedly lingers and the two sides have yet to come to a settlement.

The telecommunications scandal, involving the licensing of spectrum for 2G services in 2008, has been cooking in India for more than a year. So far more than a dozen top businessmen, government officials and politicians have been implicated, including another former telecommunications minister, A. Raja, who was forced to resign in November 2010.

The Indian treasury is said to have lost nearly US$40 billion after the ministry sold the licenses at 2001 prices on a first-come, first-serve basis instead of auctioning them as other countries do. The sale was designed to benefit a select few bidders, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Among those implicated are some of India’s most illustrious companies including Reliance Communications, run by Anil Ambani, and the Essar Group, run by the Ruia family. Mukesh Ambani, who runs the separate Reliance Industries group and is an active rival of his younger brother, has also been linked to ministers involved.

The prime minister’s office itself has been tarnished by the scandal as it has come clear that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh knew what Raja was up to and declined to do anything about it.

The scandal might have disappeared as other corruption scandals have in India. However, the opposition parties capitalized on the auditor general’s report to drum up rising public anger. Singh and his Congress Party political boss, the ailing Sonia Gandhi, who was recently operated on for cancer in the United States, have both been attempting contain the crisis with little effect, especially after Hazare, a 74-year-old retired army driver, went on a hunger strike that attracted millions of followers. Hazare was jailed but public outrage soon freed him. One lawyer said he would produce evidence implicating Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi’s own son-in-law.

Hazare’s movement appears to have raised the political temperature across the entire country, with his hunger strike bringing together an unprecedented demand for cleanup crossing caste, class, regional and religious lines, with Hindus and Muslims both demanding reform. There seems little hope of stemming corruption, however, from officials’ street-level bribes and killings to national scandals – despite the Hazare movement.

However, according to widespread anecdotal reports, officials at all levels of government are becoming so frightened of facing corruption accusations that they are reluctant to make decisions, seriously delaying policy implementation.

“I am extremely Melayu”

Ramli Ibrahim
Ramli Ibrahim (all pics below courtesy of Ramli Ibrahim)
LEGENDARY Malaysian dancer Ramli Ibrahim, 58, has been captivating audiences with his performances and choreography of Indian classical dance for almost three decades. After returning from Australia, Ramli founded Sutra Dance Theatre in 1983. He has gone on to perform and win awards both locally and overseas, and has also groomed many a talented dancer.
In this 11 March 2010 interview with The Nut Graph in Petaling Jaya, Ramli talks about his staunch yet fluid Malay-ness, and his desire for a Malaysia that can be comfortable with its own diversity. A fuller version of this interview was published exclusively in Volume 1 of Found in Malaysia.
Ramli's parents
Ramli's parents
TNG: Where and when were you born?
Ramli Ibrahim: I was born in Kajang, on 20 May 1953, and brought up in Kuala Lumpur.
Where in Kuala Lumpur did you grow up?
I grew up in Jalan Pekeliling, which is now Jalan Tun Razak. I went to the Pasar Road Malay School and then to the infamous Cochrane Road School, where all the gangsters were, then to the Royal Military College (RMC), and then to Australia.
I didn’t do my “O” levels but did my matriculation. I was the earliest of the Mara (Bumiputera Council Trust) batch of matriculation students who were sent to Perth.
I did my degree in engineering, knowing very well that my eventual destiny would be in the arts as a dancer or in theatre.
Just to digress: I have always been interested in the healing aspect of mak yong. I started delving into mak yong when its public performance was banned in the early 1990. I have looked at mak yong through main ‘teri (from “main petri”).
I am interested in the use of myth to heal the psyche. I am fascinated by the two polarities of personality-types of dewa muda and dewa pechil (dewa terpencil), the extroverted and the introverted in traditional Malay character archetypes found in mak yong and used in healing.
Main ‘teri is a compelling example of how traditional psychotherapy functions through the performance of the tok ‘teri (shaman) who manipulates the metaphors found in these myths to enable him to heal through the release of blocked angin and strengthening of the semangat. The approach found in traditional healing of “unusual sickness” or sicknesses of the mind, is fascinating for me.
Among a thousand pillars in Tanjavur, India (by Karthik Venkataraman)
Among a thousand pillars in Tanjavur, India (pic by Karthik Venkataraman)
But on this subject of culture and tradition, can you trace your ancestry?
I was told that my father was from Rawa, Sumatera. My mother was more or less from the Malacca area, or Kelemak. Is there such a thing as “pure Malay”? I don’t know; my mother and grandmother looked a bit Chinese. My father is dark; he could look like a mamak. That has never been a problem for me. Anyway, I’m not into tracing my family tree (yet).
But I think we are as Malay as you can get.
A chubby Ramli, the heart-breaker at two and half years of age (1955).
A chubby Ramli, the heart-breaker at two and half years old (1955).
So growing up in Jalan Pekeliling, what is your strongest memory?
As a child I read Hikayat Malim Deman, and [all the others] in Jawi! My father was a Malay literature lecturer. So we were surrounded by Syair Siti Zubaidah, Sejarah Melayu and the old Malay books. I recited those syairs, and I was even johan syair kebangsaan (national syair champion) in Kuala Lumpur when I was 11. It was only after my remove class that I started to speak English.
There must be a link somewhere between all of this and doing classical Indian dance.
It’s a progression. My mother and father were religious and staunch Umno supporters. My mother was in the Kaum Ibu. I was brought up on that wave of perjuangan. So I am familiar with stalwarts like (Tan Sri) Aishah Ghani. But this is a bygone era — the perjuangan thing is over. It probably died with Tun Ghafar (Baba). I find the present globalised era devoid of the true perjuangan ethos, and there is cynicism when altruism is mentioned, especially in politics.
Are there are any stories from your parents or grandparents that stick in your mind?
My mother always talked to me about the Haw Par Villa (in Singapore): the concept of good and evil, and in neraka how you’re going to be paralysed and potong lidah (have your tongue cut off) and all those things. She terrified me with images of the hereafter.
One of the things she told me as a child that I thought was cruel was that I was a Chinese anak angkat (adopted child) from a Chinese vegetable seller. I found that this is the kind of story every parent tells all the time. They don’t know that this has an incredible effect on their own child.
But my mother’s stories were character forming. My father was quiet. His influence, not to say that he [did not have] much effect on me, was not the same.
I think eventually the balancing of my anima and animus was important because I am now very comfortable with my anima. It balances my androgyneity, which is important for Indian dance. I tell my students, “If you are a good performer, you have to balance the ‘male’ and the ‘female’ within you.” You have to be almost neutral [so as to] inhabit the character and feel the “rasa”. And especially in Indian classical dance where you have to take on many roles, you have to be quicksilver when making this transformation.
One of the saddest things about the present Malay situation is not being able to understand the energy transforming from one manifestation to another. You cannot pinpoint and say, “This is the only way you can do it.” But the Malays through the introduction to a more patriarchal and Semitic religion, have become literal-minded rather than [exercise] their ability to use metaphors — which they used to be able to do. Now they want only the concrete thing, whereas the real thing is not so easy to grasp.
A five year old Ramli already showing off as a singer at a wedding function, Kerling (1958)
A five-year-old Ramli already showing off as a singer at a wedding function, Kerling (1958)
As a Malaysian is there anything you struggle with about yourself or your identity?
Whatever happens, I’m psychically connected with this place. I was in Australia for 14 years but was less psychically connected with Australia. I can’t remember much of my time there; except for some performances, nature, or surfing. Whereas in Malaysia or in this region, with India and Indonesia, I have an intense psychic connection.
This where I am. I have been fighting my battle in Malaysia. Come what may, this is where I’m going to be. I see it as a process. Nothing is going to be completely good, but I must have the equanimity to accept it, and be with it and do whatever I can.
But there’s this current debate about what it means to be Malay, “Jangan cabar Melayu,” “Jangan cabar Islam,” — what do you think of all this?
Look, I do Indian classical dance because I find it’s one of the most challenging and difficult art forms for solo [dance]. In that sense I’ve always been a global person, because I am into all the best that [the world] can offer. At the same time, I’m very nationalistic. I don’t like it when I see mak yong, main petri and wayang kulit being banned. I think they’re the best of Malay traditional pastimes that we have.
Ramli (in songkok), a “freshie” at RMC, roped in to do the Malay joget. Back row, L, 1969
Ramli (in songkok), a “freshie” at RMC, roped in to do the Malay joget. Back row (left), 1969
As an advocate of Malay culture, do you think now that some people who claim to champion Malay culture have things back to front?
The people who [truly] champion Malay culture now are not necessarily Malay. We go back to being Malaysians. And Malay culture is part of Malaysian culture. So now there are non-Malays championing makyong or wayang kulit. They also champion Chinese opera and Indian classical dance. They see it as, “The richer we are in culture, the better.”
What about the politicians who say, you cannot challenge this or that, this is what it means to be Malay.
I think the Malays have got their own insecurities. Having said that, life is not easy. That’s why the mak yong has a tendency to identify with the dewa pechil, or dewa terpencil. Dewa pechil is a Malay archetype. He is complex as he is very sensitive. But when he leaves, the nation is bereft of “seri”. He is the kind of person who always merendahkan diri, (appears) to want to be in the background. This is one aspect of the Melayu that I find endearing, and at the same time exasperating. Not pushy, very accommodating, affectionate and loving.
And I think the Malays have always been in between the entrepreneurial races, with the Chinese on one side and so on. It’s difficult now to make a shift to being tough, because it is against the grain. But it can be done. It is a complex problem: how do we balance this?
Ramli, the trendsetter, modelling the sarong during a university student function
Ramli, the trendsetter, modelling the sarong during a university student function
But [spoon-feeding Malay Malaysians] is not going to help either, because the entire political scene is suspect. And the more you are spoon-fed, the weaker you get. So this has got to be a balancing act, and we need visionary leaders whom we can trust and who can change a lot of atrophied mindsets.
It’s hard to find a solution — the problem lies in the nation’s psychic make-up which is not homogenous and cannot be measured quantitatively in profit and loss. It’s one of the complex human dramas which can be alluded to in an artistic manifestation, in literature, film or theatre. That’s why art is so important as a moderator and as an agent of understanding that brings about change of the nation’s psyche.
So then what kind of Malaysia do you want to see?
I want to see Malaysians only. The generations of non-Malays are fully Malaysians, [as are] Malays also. Malays now are changing, especially the urban ones. But we don’t know what the non-urban ones are thinking because there has been insecurity there. The ketuanan Melayu thing, the religious upbringing, the madrasah, the indoctrination through Friday khutbah, is happening on different and subversive levels. And this is indoctrination from young. It’s not a homogeneous society.
I think Malaysia has to resolve her issues about Malaysian-ness. How this process [will] be brought forward is going to be difficult, because Malays will feel like they are losing something, whereas they are already losing a lot.
For example, when it comes to religion, I think one of the worst things is what fundamentalist Islamism has done to women [and] to men. We don’t want this kind of fanatical and rigid Islam. What do you think? What I’m saying is true, isn’t it? That kind of Islam is a regression — it’s the worst that could befall us.

Kerajaan Negeri Hormati Titah DYMM Sultan Selangor

Kenyataan Akhbar
10 Oktober 2011

Kerajaan Negeri menghormati titah DYMM Sultan Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah berhubung laporan pemeriksaan terhadap Dream Center di Damansara Utama yang telah diperiksa oleh Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS).

Kerajaan Negeri yakin dan percaya, titah baginda ini adalah keputusan terbaik dan adil serta mengambil kira keharmonian masyarakat berbilang kaum dan agama di negeri ini dan Malaysia amnya.
Sebagai rakyat Selangor, kita mesti menghormati dan menerima titah ini dengan hati terbuka dan positif kerana baginda adalah ketua negeri dan tempat masyarakat berbilang kaum berlindung.

Kerajaan Selangor tidak akan menoleh ke belakang lagi disebabkan isu ini. Sebaliknya isu ini memberi kesedaran tentang keperluan untuk mengukuhkan penguatkuasaan JAIS serta pengumpulan bukti.

Justeru, Kerajaan Negeri akan menubuhkan jawatan kuasa khas untuk memperkasakan Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) di JAIS agar jabatan itu dapat memantau cubaan untuk memesongkan kepercayaan dan akidah umat Islam dengan teliti dan berkesan.
Jawatan kuasa khas ini akan dianggotai tokoh perundangan dan pakar agama selain pegawai kanan kerajaan yang mana nama-nama mereka ini akan diumumkan kelak.

Green Voters 2.0 movement reaches Penang

The Green Voters 2.0 movement has landed on the shores of Penang..

Green Voters
The Green Voters 2.0 movement arrives in Penang
The movement had its Penang launch at the Dewan Sri Pinang yesterday.
Green Voters is a national non-partisan movement working towards setting up voters’ committees in all constituencies.
One of the Green Voters demands is sustainable development – and not ad-hoc development causing irreversible damage to our environment such as traffic jams, pollution, loss of green spaces, hill-cutting, reclamation and “dirty” industries.
The movement is also calling for Freedom of Information and the restoration of local council elections. Check out their website.
Rock on, Green Voters!