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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Christian girl, 12, kidnapped, beaten and raped for eight months until she converted to Islam

  • Asian Human Rights Commission claim girl was lured on shopping trip by friend before she was kidnapped.
  • Abductors drove her 120 miles before raping her, then forced her to sign marriage papers
  • Victim managed to escape eight months later, but police refuse to prosecute rapists because they are tied to militant Islam group
A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and repeatedly raped for eight months in Pakistan by a man who then falsified marriage documents with her, it was claimed today.

The girl was lured on a shopping trip in Lahore by a friend, before she was driven 120 miles to Tandianwalla and raped by the friend's uncle in January this year.

Two days later, she was forced to sign papers consenting to marriage with the man and beaten for refusing to convert from Christianity to Islam.

Attack: A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped, beaten until she converted to Islam and repeatedly raped for eight months in Lahore, Pakistan (pictured), according to a human rights organisation
Attack: A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped, beaten until she converted to Islam and repeatedly raped for eight months in Lahore, Pakistan (pictured), according to a human rights organisation
She was then held against her will for eight months, before managing to escape and contact her family.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said the rapists have not been arrested because of their affiliation with a militant Muslim organisation - the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

It claims the police have refused to order a medical check-up on the girl, and have warned her parents that it would be better for them to hand over the girl to her 'legal' husband or a criminal case would be filed against them.

An investigation into the kidnapping found the girl's father reported her disappearance in January and made complaints against her abductors, but police took no action for eight months.

Last month, the girl - who has not been named for legal reasons - called her family from Tandianwalla and told them she had been abducted, but had escaped and was hiding at a bus stop.

Militant ties: The Asian Human Rights Commission claims Pakistani police have refused to investigate the kidnapping because the perpetrators are tied to an extremist group (file picture)
Militant ties: The Asian Human Rights Commission claims Pakistani police have refused to investigate the kidnapping because the perpetrators are tied to an extremist group (file picture)
The girl's parents travelled to the town and rescued her, before taking her to a local magistrate to give a statement.

The rapists then contacted the police through their religious group and produced a marriage certificate that claimed to show one of them was married to the 12-year-old.

As a result of their complaint, the Christian family has gone into hiding as members of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are searching for them.

The group claims the girl is pregnant, but her mother has denied this is true.

The AHRC said that police never asked the religious group how a 12-year-old could be married. The legal age for marriage in Pakistan in 16.

It claims the Punjab provincial government is patronising banned militant organisations.
The British Pakistani Christian Association has launched a petition calling on the Pakistani government to investigate the attack.

For more information, visit

Imam found guilty of abusing young girls

Ebrahim Yusuf KaziA ‘DESPICABLE’ paedophile who abused three girls when he was an Imam at a town centre mosque has been convicted by a jury.

Ebrahim Yusuf Kazi, 67, was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault on three girls aged under the age of 13.

The offences took place between 1979 and 1986 at Broad Street Mosque, where Kazi was an Imam before moving to Gloucester.

The victims have been praised by the police for their bravery in coming forward and one victim told the Adver she will come face-to-face with him at court next month to see him sentenced.

Kazi’s crimes were only revealed after one young victim contacted Wiltshire Police.

PC Dawn Simmonds, the investigating officer, said that Kazi had abused his position to commit his crimes.

She said: “Ebrahim Yusuf Kazi was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault on three girls aged under the age of 13.

“The offences took place in the 1980s when Kazi was the Imam at the Broad Street Mosque in Swindon. As an Imam, Kazi was in a position of responsibility and trust, a position which he abused for his own gratification.

“Not only did he subject these children to these despicable acts but he has shown no remorse for his actions, having now also put them through the ordeal of a trial.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the victims who have shown great courage in coming forward. Without their continued assistance, this trial would not have been possible.

“We encourage anyone, child or adult, who has been the victim of a sexual assault to tell someone.

“If you don’t want to report it to police, you can tell a trusted adult who can report it on your behalf, not only so that the offender can be identified but to ensure that you are provided with the appropriate help and support.

“Sexual abuse has an enormous impact on victims and their families. We hope that the outcome of the trial will offer these three women some piece of mind.”

Kazi is set to be sentenced at Swindon Crown Court on November 2.

Perception: Budget 2012

Cops break up peaceful 'Occupy' event

Cops shoo away local ‘Occupy Wall St’ offshoot

Police direct attendees of the “Occupy Dataran” event to disperse, four hours after the even started.—Picture by Jack Ooi
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — A 50-strong crowd gathered in Dataran Merdeka today to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, only to be dispersed by police after four hours of fun and games.

About 10 uniformed policemen cut short the “Occupy Dataran” event at 7.35pm after telling the organisers they could not gather in the public square without a permit from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

The gathering, organised by the Kuala Lumpur People’s Assembly, had been scheduled to go on for 14 hours from 4.00pm today until 6.00am tomorrow.

The police and DBKL officials kept close watch on the proceedings, which kicked off earlier this evening with sketches, a picnic, games and musical performances, including a spirited rendition of the Zee Avi hit, “Kantoi”, on the ukulele.

Unlike more confrontational Occupy Wall Street solidarity protests held in other cities around the world today, the mainly twenty-something participants of “Occupy Dataran” — some clad in Bersih and anti-Lynas T-shirts — waved no placards and chanted no slogans.

Authorities only stepped in after three-and-a-half hours of merrymaking when the KL People’s Assembly convened in earnest.

An attendee at the “Occupy Dataran” event stands under the national flag at Dataran Merdeka. — Picture by Yow Hong Chieh
An autonomous gathering without hierarchy, the assembly seeks to give the public a forum through which they can air their views on issues of concern without the involvement of political parties or elected representatives.

Participants in tonight’s assembly, the twelfth since the weekly exercise began on July 30, were only 30 minutes into mooting topics for discussion — including the “injustice” of capitalism and the need for free tertiary education — when the police told them to disperse.

The officer in charge, a Chief Inspector Karthik, stressed that the police were not treating the gathering as an illegal assembly but was merely helping DBKL enforce regulations governing the use of Dataran Merdeka.

“The group there, you’re doing something, you must have permission from DBKL... Dataran Merdeka is under DBKL so you must talk to them,” he told the assembly’s representatives.

After deliberating for some 20 minutes on whether to stay and risk arrest, the assembly adjourned but many chose to remain. Some continued playing music while others went to watch a screening of the Liverpool versus Manchester United English Premier League match there.

Bar Council human rights committee chairman Andrew Khoo, who watched the proceedings from the sidelines, said he failed to understand the rationale behind the order to disperse.

“It’s okay to come here and to sit in a group and to watch a football match, but it’s not okay to sit down and to gather and to talk with one another. What’s the logic of that?” he said.

“I think sometimes we have... to question the reason behind the rules and people who implement the rules have to ask themselves, are they just robots mechanically enforcing a rule without trying to understand.”
During his Malaysia Day address, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak pledged a raft of security reforms that included, among others, changes to the Police Act to allow for freedom of assembly.

‘Do away with race-based policies’

Gerakan Youth calls for a serious review of race-based affirmative action so that it does not stray from the original intent of eradicating poverty and ensuring equal distribution of wealth.

KUALA LUMPUR: Race-based affirmative action is a thing of the past, admitted two Barisan Nasional Youth leaders – Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Gerakan counterpart Lim Si Pin, today.

Lim, in his speech at the Gerakan Youth conference, said: “If we continue to advocate affirmative action for the majority, who is going to take care of the minorities and the needy?

“It is time to question whether we still (need) affirmative action based on ethnic lines. It will remain a noose around our necks if we do not deal with it (raced-based policy) with decisiveness.

“If we continue to enrich the few who do not need it and ignore the poor, then we will create instability,” said Lim, who reminded the government it would face “dire consequences” if it failed to listen to the masses.

He said he was not calling for such policy to be totally abolished, but a serious review to go back to its original intent to eradicate poverty and equal distribution of wealth.

Khairy, agreeing with Lim, said that even now the government is looking at changing the policies in regard to affirmative action.

“It is changing; now we are making sure that our priority is the lowest 40 percent based on income. These are the groups we must help regardless of whether they are Malay Chinese, Indians or other races. (Prime Minister) Najib (Tun Razak) has expanded this, within Umno too,” said Khairy.

“It is no longer about race. Within Umno we are supporting this, because we know those at the bottom 40 percent deserve assistance.

The change in affirmative action will help some of you understand that economic transformation is happening,” said Khairy.

He added that reforms alone are not enough and merely repealing the Internal Security Act will not do.

“As far as the Printing Presses and Publications Act (is concerned), the current changes are not enough.

We have to go further. Why are we scared of a free media? Do we lack confidence that we can’t face the free media? Let the media regulate themselves.
There’s no need for the Home Ministry and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to regulate,” he said.

‘Young voters returning to BN’
Khairy also called for a Freedom of Information Act that counters the Official Secrets Act. “There are certain things we cannot reveal to the public… but we must show there are no secrets within the government, ” he said, adding that Section 15 of the Universities and University Colleges Act, which prohibits student participation in politics, must also be done away with.

Earlier, Lim called on the setting up of an independent commission to monitor civil service malpractices as well as police abuses.

Citing an example where a Malaysian who applied for a scholarship was rudely rejected because of her race, Lim said that race issues still prevail in the country and the commission should stop any discrimination in the public service.

Lim also said if the government implements the Goods and Services Tax (GST), it must not tax the ordinary people in areas such as food, domestic transport and essential medication.

Khairy, meanwhile, said that if BN wants to be relevant to the young generation, it must stop telling voters to be thankful for what it did in the past but tell them what it can do for them now.

“We have to ask ourselves difficult questions: are we a relic of the past? Do we really feel and understand what young Malaysians want? Or do we want Malaysians to be thankful for what we have done in the past? If the older BN leaders want to keep on using such arguments, they should go home, close shop and just sleep,” said Khairy.

“We need to to show to them we have a proposition, we have policies to address their problems. We don’t want rhetoric but we need to be solution providers. That’s important,” said Khairy, adding that based on by-election results, young voters are coming back to BN.

What’s the beef?

Now, the Christians condemn Islam for being barbaric (in particular reference to Hudud). But these are the same laws in the Bible. And the fact that Christians and Christian countries no longer follow these laws does not mean that the Bible has abolished these laws. These laws are still in the Bible. In fact, it says very clearly in the Bible that you are to kill your own children if they become apostates.
Raja Petra Kamarudin

I remember back in the 1980s (if I’m not mistaken) when Malaysia introduced the RM1,000 fine for littering. We joked that if you smoke a cigarette during the fasting month of Ramadhan and you see a policeman, keep smoking. If you were to throw the cigarette onto the road you would get fined RM1,000 for littering. If you keep smoking you would get arrested for smoking in public when you are supposed to be fasting. The fine is only RM300 -- so it is cheaper.
What has that joke got to do with what I am going to say today? Nothing, really, I just wanted to get your attention. Well, actually it is linked in some small way. I wanted to demonstrate that Islamic laws or Shariah laws have existed for a long time in Malaysia. It is not something new or something that is just about to be implemented. And there are many laws under the Shariah, the only one that is yet to be implemented would, of course, be that very controversial law called Hudud, which deals with ‘serious crimes’ (at least from the Islamic perspective).
However, Shariah laws have always been imposed only on Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslims or suspected to have converted to Islam: hence the body snatching cases). Non-Muslims are exempted or immune from these laws.
We once discussed a hypothetical situation. What if a man (or woman) was arrested for khalwat (close proximity: which means being in a secluded place with someone you are not married to) and he (or she) was dragged before the Shariah court to face charges? The charges are read to him/her and he/she responds by asking the court to prove that he/she is a Muslim.
You see; close proximity is only a crime if you (or both of you) are a Muslim. If you are not a Muslim then no crime has been committed. So this man (or woman) asks the court, “How do you know that I am a Muslim?”
That is a valid question. He/she may have been born from Muslim parents and may even have a Muslim name on his/her birth certificate and identity card. So, ‘constitutional speaking’, he/she is a Muslim.
But what are the criteria for one to be regarded as a Muslim? Aren’t there certain doctrines you have to believe in (beyond any shadow of doubt) to be a Muslim? And aren’t there certain fundamentals you have to believe in plus certain rituals you have to perform to be a Muslim?
What if you doubted that Prophet Muhammad was really a Prophet? What if you suspected (but are quite not sure) that he learned ‘Islam’ from Khadijah’s cousin Warakah Nawfal, who was a Christian Ebionite priest -- considering that there is a lot of overlapping between Islam and the Old and New Testaments? (Khadijah was Prophet Muhammad’s first wife). What if you suspected (but are quite not sure) that the Koran may not have come from God but was actually drafted by Prophet Muhammad from what he had learned from Warakah?
If you start thinking like this then never mind if you were born from Muslim parents and have a Muslim name in your birth certificate and identity card. You are NOT a Muslim. You doubt the prophethood of Muhammad and you doubt that the Koran is God’s word. That means you are not a Muslim.
So, if you were to tell the Shariah court this -- about your doubts and that you do not think what Islam says about Prophet Muhammad and the Koran are correct and maybe are just myths -- then the court cannot try you as a Muslim. And since the Shariah court can only try Muslims, then it would have to stand down. 
Of course, then the religious department can arrange to send you for ‘religious rehabilitation’. But that is another matter. The point is, they can’t try you for khalwat since you have professed to not believing in the doctrine of Islam and that you doubt its veracity and suspect that these stories are mere myths and old wives’ tales.
Say, after many months in the detention camp and they still can’t ‘rehabilitate’ you. You still insist that you do not believe in what you consider myths. Well, they can’t put you to death because Hudud laws have not been implemented yet in Malaysia. So they will eventually have to let you go (which is what happened to one of my friends after two years of detention).
Now, if they had implemented Hudud, and if the Hudud law for apostasy is death, then they can cut off your head.
Actually, if you were to analyse the Hudud laws carefully, you can see that they are actually similar to the old Judeo-Christian laws. So one would not be faulted if one were to say that Islam was ‘hijacked’ from earlier religions (although Muslims would get very upset with you for saying this).
Now, the Christians condemn Islam for being barbaric (in particular reference to Hudud). But these are the same laws in the Bible. And the fact that Christians and Christian countries no longer follow these laws does not mean that the Bible has abolished these laws. These laws are still in the Bible. In fact, it says very clearly in the Bible that you are to kill your own children if they become apostates.
This is still in the Bible and has never been amended. And the fact that Christians and Christian countries today no longer implement these laws is for no other reason other than that Christians are bad Christians. The Christians have defied God and have rejected the Bible. There are very few Christians who still listen to God and follow God’s word as laid out in the Bible. If they were true Christians, they too would kill apostates -- people who leave Christianity to become Muslims.
Anyway, some Muslims want Islamic laws to be implemented. I am of the opinion that we let the Muslims work this out amongst themselves. Today, hardly any Christian would agree to be subjected to ‘barbaric’ Bible laws although this would mean they are violating the Bible. I suspect that the majority of Muslims would also decide to do the same. But it is up to the Muslims to decide this matter, not for non-Muslims to decide on behalf of the Muslims.
The only thing the non-Muslims should be concerned about is that these Islamic laws would only be imposed on Muslims and not on non-Muslims, like what has been the case thus far. How these guarantees would be put in place is a matter that can be discussed and agreed upon. And once the non-Muslims are satisfied that they would be immune or exempted from ALL forms of Islamic laws, then let the Muslims do what they want. After all, in a democracy, everyone has a right to his/her religious beliefs and practices as long as it does not affect other people.

Understanding anti-Malaysianism in Indonesia — Farish A. Noor

OCT 14 — And so, as it happens time and again, there appears to be yet another diplomatic spat looming over the horizon between Malaysia and Indonesia. The cause of it, this time round, is a dispute over border-land markers somewhere in East Malaysia/Kalimantan that appear to have been moved by persons yet unknown and unidentified. Some Indonesian legislators have called for an investigation, while others have tried to ease tension by saying that spurious accusations without proof are useless at this stage.

I will not comment on the exact circumstances and details of this dispute, for I am frankly in the dark about what really happened — along with millions of other Malaysians and Indonesians. Thus far according to some accounts it has been suggested that some of the border-markers may even have been moved by Indonesians themselves, who seem to think it would be better to live in Malaysia. Should that be the case, however odd and unlikely, it would still be a legal matter that has to be investigated before any resolution can come.

My concern here has less to do with this singular issue, but rather the wider picture of Malaysia-Indonesia relations and the internal politics of both countries.

The Malaysian press has highlighted that the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta has once again been surrounded by angry members of the infamous Laskar Merah-Putih, right wing preman (gangster) types who seem to have nothing better to do than to threaten to ‘sweep’ the streets of Malaysians. These are the same Laskars who, last year, threatened to seek out and sweep Malaysian tourists in Jakarta, and whose exploits include throwing rubbish and even faeces at the Malaysian embassy compound. Needless to say such pyrotechnics do little to cool tempers, and we will recall that during a similar dispute last year the Malaysian flag was also trampled upon, spat on, torn and burned. The result was as expected, with Malaysians suddenly becoming united in a show of trumpeted patriotism and jingoism, befitting a bad slapstick comedy.

So while this latest episode meanders on at its own slow pace (to be forgotten, for sure, like all other episodes in the past), allow me to interject with some points that I think need to be borne in mind by my fellow Malaysians and Indonesians alike:

Firstly, let us remind ourselves that this is yet another political event, and like all political events it is hostage to realpolitik and political calculations and interests. It is almost a truism by now that whenever the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia are at some crisis point, they seek out external bogeymen — real and imagined — to project their own insecurities. Yes, Indonesian politicians seem to use Malaysia as a punching bag all the time, but should Malaysians be surprised by this? How many times have Malaysian politicians done the same, hitting out at the so-called ‘evil West’ (America, Australia, UK and the rest of Europe minus Monaco)? We should all be familiar with this by now, and realise that much of this is just chest-thumping and grandstanding, nothing more. Malaysian leaders have also condemned the West tirelessly, but aren’t America, UK, Australia and Europe among our most important trading allies?

Secondly, the fact that a few Indonesian politicians seem to be in a Malaysia-hating mood at the moment does not mean that all Indonesian politicians agree with them. Credit must be given to level-headed Indonesian statesmen like Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa who has called upon other politicians to get to the facts of the matter, and not play to the gallery or their rowdy followers. In the same way that one Abu Bakar Ba’asyir does not and should not be equated with the entire Muslim community, likewise a handful of hoodlums under the banner of the Laskar Merah Putih must not be seen as the public face of all Indonesia and Indonesians.

Thirdly, let us look at some real facts and figures: Malaysians and Indonesians remain the closest relatives in the wider Asean family till today. For a start millions of Malaysians (this writer included) happen to be of Indonesian origin; and we have never abandoned our friends in Indonesia next door. Look at the number of Malaysian tourists going to Indonesia and spending money there: At the peak of religious violence in 2001-2004, in the wake of the Tsunami of 2004, and even at times when Indonesia was put on ‘terror alert’ by Western agencies, Malaysian tourists and students continue to go to Indonesia because we love the country as much as our own. Others may have abandoned Indonesia when it was deemed unsafe for foreigners, but never Malaysians. The Malaysian ringgit has been instrumental in keeping up Indonesia’s tourist industry, and Malaysians in turn bring back with them happy memories, friendships and learning experiences that have enriched them too.

Fourthly, lets look at some more figures: Despite the threats of ‘sweeping Malaysians’, beating up Malaysian students, burning the Malaysian flag, etc., exactly how many Malaysians have been attacked, beaten up, abused by these right-wing groups? The figure, I believe, is zero. There are tens of thousands of Malaysians who live, work, do business and study in Indonesia. There are also thousands of Indonesians and Malaysians who happen to be married and who have mixed Indonesian-Malaysian families where the children enjoy the best of both worlds. Yet not a single Malaysian student or tourist in Indonesia has been violently attacked or killed by any of these so-called nationalist ‘mobs’. No Malaysians have been bombed or murdered. Which underscores my point that one must see beyond the rhetoric of a small number of vocal nationalists and understand the complexity of Indonesian society.

In the final analysis, Indonesia and Malaysia have a unique relationship that neither country has with any other country in Asean: We joke together, laugh together and at times even insult and abuse each other.

But consider this: How many Malaysians joke about Thailand? Or Cambodia?

And how many Indonesians joke about Laos? Or Burma?

We don’t, for the simple reason that in the subjective and relative gradations of familiarity and difference, we — Malaysians and Indonesians — know that we are infinitely much closer to each other than the rest. And talk about who is the ‘elder brother’ and the ‘younger brother’ in this relationship is equally silly and non-productive. The fact is that Indonesia and Malaysia are twins, separated at birth perhaps.

So back to the current brouhaha over the border markers in East Malaysia and Kalimantan. One hopes that in the days and weeks ahead cooler tempers on both sides will prevail and that the issue will not be played up by either side just as an expedient means to exteriorise local, domestic problems that need to be addressed anyway. I personally have little faith in some of our politicians (on both sides), for we have seen how some of them are prone to hysterics and hyperbole when they think that it might win them a vote or two.

But my faith lies elsewhere, and it is in the peoples of Malaysia and Indonesia themselves, who have shown time and again that despite the cupidity and unscrupulousness of some of our politicians, we are still more level-headed, human and humane, then those whom we have elected to high office.

As a Malaysian of distant Indonesian origins myself, I long instead to see the day when the political and ideological boundaries between the two countries will be overcome by a higher humane spirit that transcends the narrow parochialism of cheap, crass politics. May that day come sooner than later, and in the meantime, let us keep visiting, joking, shopping, loving and courting one another!

* Dr Farish Noor is a Senior Fellow at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Hisham: M'sia can proceed to send refugees to Australia

The Sun
by Husna Yusop and Alyaa Alhadjri

PETALING JAYA (Oct 14, 2011): Malaysia can still proceed to send 4,000 refugees to be processed in Australia despite the country's decision to abandon the refugee swap deal, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussien yesterday.

In a tweeted response to theSun last night, Hishammuddin, through his official Twitter handle @HishammuddinH20 said: "Malaysia no impact as they are still willing to accept 4,000 refugees from us."

Hishammuddin also reiterated Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's statement yesterday that the deal was scrapped because of her inability to get any Opposition MPs to support a change in migration laws which will allow for the swap deal to proceed.

Gillard reportedly said: "We are not in a position to implement the arrangement with Malaysia. It is apparent the legislation will not pass the parliament."

In his second tweet to theSunM, Hishammuddin added: "Bilateral cooperation (between) Australia and Malaysia to fight human trafficking syndicates (is) still very strong. The next working group meeting will be held next month."

The deal was signed between Hishammuddin and Austalia Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen in July.

Under the deal, Malaysia was originally slated to receive 800 boat people for the purpose of processing by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Australia, in return, will resettle 4,000 refugees who are already in Malaysia over the next four years, at an average rate of about 1,000 a year.

Earlier, Home Ministry statement said: “People trafficking is one of the hidden horrors of modern life. The arrangement between our governments would have tackled it in a way that protected the interests of Australia, Malaysia and, above all, the migrants involved."

Malaysia will continue working closely with Australia to find new and effective ways to deal with the 21st century threats of human trading, beginning at the annual working group on smuggling and trafficking, to be held in Sydney next month, said the statement.

Indian Community Must Be Confident Of A Better Future - Najib

KLANG, Oct 15 (Bernama) -- The government will strive to ensure that the Indian community will have a better future, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.

"Nambike (confidence) ... we must have confidence of a better future," he said when launching the 1Malaysia Deepavali Carnival organised by the Malaysian Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jalan Tengku Kelana here Saturday night.

He said the Indian community must be confident that Malaysia, as their place of birth, could provide a better future for them.

"There must be a feeling that the Malaysian soil is the place of birth of all races," he said.

Najib said Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) had been instructed to set up a special unit made up of Indian officers to ensure that loans would reach the target group.

He said that in the 2012 Budget, the government allocated RM100 million for Indian small entrepreneurs under the AIM micro-credit scheme to enable them to continue and succeed in their business.

Najib said the budget also provided allocations and benefits to all strata of society.

He also disclosed that 2,000 applications for MyKad and birth certificates from the Indian community had been approved by the Home Ministry.

This was an effort by the Special Implementation Task Force and the Home Ministry to resolve the problem of citizenship documentation faced by the Indian community, he said.

"I wish to show that the spirit of 'Ore Malaysia' (1Malaysia) is a most meaningful concept for all Malaysians. If we can unite under the Ore Malaysia concept, I believe Malaysia will become a more successful country and the 2020 Vision will be a reality," he said.

Najib said that during the Deepavali, to be celebrated on Oct 26, the light was considered important to brighten up the darkness.

Thus, he called on the Indian community to regard the Barisan Nasional as the light that was capable of bringing a better future for them.

Also present were the prime minister's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk G.Palanivel, who is also the MIC president, Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri S.Subramaniam and president of the Malaysian Indian Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry Datuk K.K. Eswaran.

Bicycle lanes: View from Copenhagen

Bicycle lanes – why not look at how Copenhagen and other European cities manage them?