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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

‘Illogical’ that 250,000 Muslims have left faith, says Perlis mufti

Juanda advised Muslims not to be emotional about the apostasy claim. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Perlis Mufti Dr Juanda Jaya today dismissed as “illogical” claims that over 250,000 Muslims in Malaysia have renounced their religion.

While agreeing that apostasy exists in the country, the Muslim cleric said the issue should not be overly publicised as it was a sensitive matter and would destroy the image of the country’s religious school as institutions incapable of protecting its own devotees.

“It is illogical what has been written on the Internet that more than 250,000 Muslims in this country have abandoned their faiths.

“If it is true, prove it and do not be emotional. Every state has enactments governing religious propaganda from being spread to Muslims, so why are they not being charged?” he was quoted as saying in Utusan Malaysia today.

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday a planned gathering of a million Muslims this Saturday to rally against Christians “challenging the sovereignty of Islam”, a momentous event that could raise religious tension that has intensified in recent months after alleged proselytising by Christians.

The Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun), or Gathering of a Million Faithful, is being organised by various right-wing groups such as Perkasa with the backing of both Umno and PAS Youth in what appears to be a coming together of conservative Muslims.

About 1,000 Facebook users have confirmed their attendance so far but should Himpun draw much more to the Shah Alam Stadium this weekend, it could push Umno and PAS to seek relevance among more religious Malays.

With ethnic tension already rising in the years following the 2008 general election, it could raise already simmering fears of Islamisation among non-Muslims and more liberal Malays.

The gathering will later produce a declaration calling for the enactment of a law to punish individuals guilty of proselytisation, Himpun secretariat secretary Aminuddin Yahaya told The Malaysian Insider.

The contents of the declaration are similar to the views expressed recently by Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria when the latter suggested a similar law, saying the act of proselytisation violates the Federal Constitution.

The outspoken religious leader, who is scheduled to address this Saturday’s gathering, had said attempts to convert Muslims had gone on unchecked for a long time, likening it to a virus attacking the Malays.

Although no formal figures have been released by the government on proselytisation, Harussani had reportedly said in 2008 that over 260,000 Muslims had left their faith to embrace Christianity.

‘I’m the one studying not you’

Last Thursday a Form Three student put out a plea to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin to reconsider the PPSMI policy reversal.

PETALING JAYA: A Form Three student has penned a brief but poignant message to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, asking them to reconsider their decision to abolish the teaching and learning of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI).

Melissa Yoong wrote on both ministers’ Facebook pages on Oct 13 telling them that she had just been told by her teacher that she would be learning Science and Maths in Bahasa Malaysia when she moves into Form Four next year
Her Facebook message read:

“I have been learning Science and Maths in English for the past nine years and now you expect me to learn these two subjects in Malay.

“How am I going understand everything in Malay after learning in English for all these years?”
“Please reconsider your decision on this matter.

“Please also understand that I am the one studying here and not you, so please don’t simply play around with this matter as you like. Thank you.”

Big support

The message has since received 474 comments and the support of 3,643 people.

A smattering of them have chastised her for kicking up a fuss and even suggested she move abroad if she wanted to speak English.

The majority however threw their support behind her call for the government to reverse a decision that has caused much distress among students and parents alike.

PPSMI was introduced in 2003 by former premier, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who believed that the policy would boost Malaysia’s progress and global competitiveness.

By 2008 PPSMI had been fully implemented in all primary and secondary schools nationwide.

In 2009 however Muhyiddin who is also the Education Minister announced that PPSMI would be abolished as it had failed to achieve its objective of raising students’ proficiency in English.

The policy has been replaced by another policy of upholding the Malay language and strengthening the command of English (MBMMBI).

Uphill battle to reverse policy

Students going into Form Four next year have since been told that they will be studying their Science subjects in Bahasa Malaysia although their parents insist they have not been officially informed of this by the respective school heads.

And while the government has promised that dual language textbooks would be ready before the MBMMBI is implemented, parents have found that only textbooks in Bahasa Malaysia are available in bookstores.

The policy reversal has received strong opposition from various NGOs, particularly the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) who has been fighting an uphill battle for a policy reversal.
PAGE chairperson, Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, recently told FMT that many worried students have been approaching her to voice fears of performing poorly in the SPM examinations due to the abrupt language switch.

“Children should be enjoying their studies not worrying about policies which is the job and responsibility of adults,” she said.

FMT also understands that unhappy parents from schools in Subang Jaya, Damansara and Old Klang Road are demanding that the Education Ministry honour its promise in 2002 to allow this batch of students to complete their SPM examination in English.

Ayesha Takia's husband decides on wife's dressing style

Ayesha Takia with husband Farhan Azmi Ayesha Takia's husband Farhan Azmi apparently keeps a close check on the clothes that wifie wears in her films and public appearances.

Azmi hails from a conservative Muslim family with strong political background as his father Abu Azmi is state president of the Samajwadi Party. Apparently, when Ayesha Takia decided to make a comeback in Bollywood after a gap of two years post marriage, Farhan advised her to pick roles that does not harm his father's political image in any manner.

From what we hear, it seems like Farhan Azmi would be more comfortable seeing his wife covered from head to toe.

It is even being rumoured that the reason why Ayesha Takia bagged the role in MOD is because of her relationship with director-producer Nagesh Kukunoor. Ayesha apparently considers him to be brother and ties him rakhi every year. As per sources, Ayesha's husband flew down to the location where MOD was being shot to make sure everything went off well.

However, speaking to a leading newspaper, Nagesh dismissed the rumour saying he always dressed his actors to suit a particular character. Ayesha Takia also said, “I've been very particular about what I wear anyway.”

Italian priest shot dead in North Cotabato

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2011/10/Fausto-Tentorio.jpg
COTABATO, Philippines—An Italian Catholic priest who spent three decades working in the violence-plagued southern Philippines was shot dead inside his church compound on Monday, his superiors said.
Fausto Tentorio was the third member of the Vatican-run Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions to have been killed since 1985 on Mindanao, a vast island home to Muslim separatists, Al-Qaeda-linked militants and other armed groups.
Police said an unknown gunman shot Tentorio, 59, eight times at his PIME parish in the remote farming town of Arakan in North Cotabato on Monday morning shortly before 8 as he got into his car.
Tentorio was to attend a clergy meeting in Kidapawan City when he was shot by a helmet-wearing man.
The priest was immediately taken to the Antipas Medical Specialist but was declared dead.
Arakan councilor Leonardo Reovoca told the Inquirer that some parish workers rushed out when they heard a series of shots and noticed the gunman walking to a waiting motorcycle.
“I cannot imagine it would happen to him. We don’t have an idea as to the motive of the killing,” Reovoca said.
Police said the assailant escaped and did not yet have any idea about the motive for the murder.
“We have no prior reports of any threat to the slain Italian priest,” provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Cornelio Salinas said.
Father Giulio Mariani, a spokesman for PIME’s regional diocese, said Tentorio arrived in the Philippines in 1978, a year after being ordained in his home country of Italy.
Mariani said Tentorio had dedicated his life to helping the local Manobo tribesmen and other disadvantaged people on Mindanao, a resource-rich but deeply poor island that makes up almost a third of the Philippines’ land mass.
“All these years he had worked with the tribal communities marginalized in Mindanao,” Mariani told AFP.
“He gave them dignity and he was very pastorally active among the poor.”
The Philippines is a mainly Catholic country but it has a Muslim minority population that regards Mindanao as its ancestral homeland, and a separatist insurgency there has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the 1970s.
Harder-line Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaeda, communist rebels and other armed groups also operate there, while political warlords are infamous for having their own private armies.
Mariani said Tentorio, like other missionaries in Mindanao, had received death threats and his murder may have been linked to his efforts in trying to help the tribespeople.
“Missionaries have always been the voice of the poor and, if you work on their behalf, sometimes you are bound to step on the toes of those who have other interests,” he said.
Mariani did not elaborate on the specific threats against Tentorio, or say if authorities had been told about them.
Founded in 1926, PIME missionaries work in 17 countries around the world, mainly in areas where there are conflicts and political turmoil, according to its website.
Mariani said there were at least 20 PIME priests in the Philippines, most of whom were on Mindanao.
In 1985 an armed militia working for the army shot and killed Tulio Favali whom they accused of working with anti-government forces on Mindanao, while another PIME priest was murdered there in 1992, according to Mariani.
Two other PIME priests were also kidnapped on Mindanao, Mariani said.
Luciano Benedetti was held for nearly 70 days in 1998 by a group of men whom Mariani said identified themselves as Islamist guerrillas.
In 2007, Giancarlo Bossi, then 57, was abducted by a group of men believed to be Muslim rebels but freed after more than a month in captivity
“We are under threat all the time due to kidnappings, and other violence, but we are resigned to the idea that threats are part of our mission,” Mariani said.—With a report from Carlo Agamon, Inquirer Mindanao
Originally posted at 10:01 am | Monday, October 17, 2011
Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

PAS reserves support for anti-apostasy rally

Don’t stir up hornet’s nest, Selangor PAS warns Himpun organisers

Khalid fears the event may be used to reignite the anger that led to attacks on houses of worship last year. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — Selangor PAS wants the organisers of the planned gathering of a million Muslims to guarantee that the event will not be abused to incite religious tension between Muslims and non-Muslims.


The Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun), or Gathering of a Million Faithful, is being organised by various right-wing groups such as Perkasa with the backing of both Umno and PAS Youth in what appears to be a coming together of conservative Muslims.

The planned rally against Christians “challenging the sovereignty of Islam” this Saturday could raise religious tension that has intensified in recent months after allegations of proselytism of Muslims by Christians.

Today, Selangor PAS deputy commissioner Khalid Samad said his party was “worried” about the true purpose of the gathering, and stressed that it should focus on addressing real threats faced by Muslims instead of pitting the country’s main religions against one another.

“We are not happy with the noticeable trends and directions (of the gathering). We want an assurance that it will not be used to incite religious, racial tension,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The Shah Alam MP added that Selangor PAS has not decided whether to take part in the event.

“We’ve not said yes, we’ve not said no. We’ve set some conditions in which we will agree to participate — [such as] if the gathering truly focuses on problems affecting the Muslim faith, and not blaming another faith,” said Khalid.

He said Selangor PAS will make a decision in a few days’ time, and that the national leadership will also discuss the matter during the party’s political bureau meeting tomorrow night.

About 1,000 Facebook users have confirmed their attendance to the event

With ethnic tensions already rising in the years following the 2008 general election, it could raise already simmering fears of growing Islamisation among non-Muslims and more liberal Malays.

In a video promoting the gathering, Himpun said “There is no other choice but to rally Muslims”.

Distrust between Muslims and Christians peaked when the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya on August 3, claiming there was ongoing proselytisation of Muslims.

This came after repeated disputes between Christians and Muslims, such as the legal battle over the use of the word Allah to refer to the Christian god.

A December 31, 2009 court ruling allowing the Catholic Church to use the term Allah in its newspaper had led to places of worship being firebombed in January last year.

The government also buckled under pressure and ordered the release of Malay-language bibles seized before Sarawakians, half of whom are Christians, voted in the April 16 state polls.

Before the Jais raid, Umno’s Utusan Malaysia and Malay rights lobby Perkasa accused the DAP of conspiring to turn Malaysia into a Christian state.

Although DUMC has denied Jais’ claims, Utusan Malaysia fanned the flames with allegations that Christian groups in Kuala Lumpur and Johor were actively trying to convert Muslims.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah appeared to close the case last week when decreeing that although Jais had found evidence of attempts to subvert Muslims, it was “insufficient” for further legal action.

But Himpun has insisted on following through with its plans to “measure the level of unity and spirit of togetherness among Muslims especially towards Christianisation efforts including the August 3 incident.”

Recent years have seen communal politics being stirred up after the landmark Election 2008 — the stiffest contest in Malaysian history.

With Barisan Nasional (BN) losing its customary two-thirds hold on Parliament and five state governments, several political leaders have retreated into racial silos to drum up support.

A Merdeka Center poll in June found that only 66 per cent of respondents said ethnic relations were “good” — a 15 per cent decline from the 78 per cent who said so five years ago.

The opinion researchers also found that just over a third believed that there was “sincere and friendly ethnic unity,” down from 54 per cent five years ago.

‘Cop kills man outside ‘no Indians allowed’ pub’

A police report claims that a father of four was shot by a plainclothes policeman believed to be moonlighting as a bouncer.

PETALING JAYA: A father of four was shot dead after a scuffle outside a karoake outlet in Ipoh which apparently bars Indians from patronising the waterhole.

The deceased’s employee has lodged a police report claiming that P Kathir Oli, 31, was gunned down by a plainclothes policeman moonlighting as a bouncer.

In his report filed with the Ipoh Central police headquarters, K Sashiteren, 21, said that he, Kathir and two others had gone to the outlet called Angel Fun Pub & Karaoke on Sept 14.

However, they were not allowed to enter the premises.

“A man told us that Indians are not allowed to patronise the pub. Kathir got upset and asked why can’t an Indian enter the pub?” said Sashiteren, adding that a heated exchange ensued.

At one point, he said, a patron threw a bottle from inside the pub which hit Kathir’s face and the latter grew enraged and threw the bottle back.

Following this, he added, a man and a woman emerged from the pub and started hurling obscenities
at them.

The first man, who had denied them entry, then calmed the duo and told them to return to the pub while Kathir, Sashiteren and their friends walked back to their car.

“But the second man from the pub reappeared and pushed Kathir, and so Kathir got mad and pushed him back,” said Sashiteren.

As they were reversing the car to leave the area, Sashiteren claimed that a third man, who is believed to be the pub’s bouncer, approached them with gun in hand.

“The third man told us not to leave the place or he will start shooting at us,” he said.

Fearing for their safety, Kathir and his friends came out of the car.

Sashiteren claimed that at this juncture, the armed man started assaulting Kathir and the latter fought back.

“I tried to stop them from fighting and that’s when I heard a gunshot. Kathir fell on me after getting shot on his chest,” he said.

Shashitheren later realised that the shooter was a cop when he handcuffed the trio after the arrival of a patrol car.

“We were taken to the police station by the patrol car and remanded for 11 days. Kathir’s body was still on the road when we were taken away,” he said.

‘Blindfolded and assaulted’

At the police station, Shashitheren alleged that he was blindfolded and assaulted.

“They kept asking me who brought a parang into the pub and who slashed the plainclothes policeman. I kept telling them the truth but they refused to listen,” he said.

Upset by the incident, Shashitheren apppoached Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) Buntong service centre on Sept 26 for assistance and was advised to file a police report.

PSM central committee member R Mohanarani said the police had dropped the charges against the trio but Kathir’s family would file a case against the police for abuse of power.

“The family will lodge a report with Bukit Aman and we will also talk to Suhakam by end of the week as the police had called Kathir a criminal to justify their action,” she said.

The police version

The police meanwhile had been reported as saying that Kathir was shot dead by a detective during a scuffle.

Perak police chief Mohd Shukri Dahlan had said that Kathir and others were robbers who had tried to rob the pub.

He added the detective was walking by the pub and had stopped to help after hearing the pub owner screaming for help.

He said the robbers, including Kathir, had attacked the detective with a parang while trying to grab his gun. It was at this point that the detective had shot Kathir, added the state police chief.

‘MMSP, Gerakan derailed efforts to unite Indians’

Former ISA detaineee and PKR member K Vasantha Kumar is upset that a temple in Kedah revoked its permission to hold a Deepavali festival.

PETALING JAYA: Former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee K Vasantha Kumar today accused the Malaysian Makkal Sakthi Party (MMSP) president R S Thanenthiran and several Gerakan leaders of derailing efforts to unite the fragmented Malaysian Indian community.

He alleged that the MMSP chief and several Gerakan leaders had instigated a temple president in Sungai Petani, Kedah not to give permission for the temple premise to be used for the gathering of Indians, which he had organised.

Vasantha Kumar said in view of the Deepavali celebrations next week, a group of concerned Indians, headed by him, had planned to organise a Deepavali cultural programme on Oct 22 at the Sri Subramnaniya Swami Devasthanam temple.

As a PKR member, Vasantha Kumar said he had also invited the party’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to officiate the event.

“The main purpose of the event is to unite the Indian community, expose our culture and explain the true meaning of Deepavali,” he told FMT.

Vasantha Kumar said he wrote a letter to the temple chairman S Doraisingam on Aug 16 seeking permission for the use of the temple premise.

‘Why can’t we invite politicians?’

In a letter dated Aug 30, the temple chairman agreed to the request but only to rescind the offer in another letter dated Oct 11.

“In a second letter, the temple chairman stated that the temple committee had decided to revoke the earlier permission because the organisers of the event had strayed from its original purpose of uniting the Indian community.”

“The letter also stated that the event would be graced by political leaders and furthermore the event did not have a police permit.”

“This is strange, why can’t we invite a political leader for a Deepavali function?” he questioned.

He further argued that a police permit is not required for national festival celebrations or for an event held inside a hall.

Vasantha Kumar said since the temple was located in the Sidam state assembly seat, which was traditionally contested by Gerakan under the Barisan Nasional’s seat allocation system, several local Gerakan leaders played their part in preventing the event from taking place.

He accused Thanenthiran of playing a “dirty game” behind the scene.

“Recently MMSP was able to assist the temple by giving it RM1 million as allocation from the Prime Minister’s Office. I believe the temple chairman and committee are desperate in trying to please these BN politicians,” he added.

Thanenthiran and the temple authorities could not be contacted.

Kohilan playing coy over Puchong seat

Kohilan Pillay denies wanting to be Puchong's MP, preferring to leave election matters to the party.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Puchong’s parliamentary seat is not in Gerakan’s Kohilan Pillay’s sights. Not yet, at least.

The Selangor Gerakan state chairman, Kohilan said he was willing to contest in any constituency that Gerakan gave him.

“Until today, I have not finalised, the party has not finalised (our position on Puchong). But I offer myself (to) whichever seat the party gives me…I will contest,” he said, adding that he was not looking at Puchong.

“As the state chairman of Selangor, I have to make sure I (the party) win all the seats (that will be assigned to us by the party).”

He then hinted that these were further divided into four state seats and one parliamentary seat. He however did not specify which parts of Selangor the party was looking at.

“I will go down and frequent in all these four-plus-one (seats), and want to ensure the win of all these seats in the coming election,” he said.

FMT previously reported that Kohilan, who is also Gerakan vice president, was eyeing Puchong, which is currently being held by DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo.

Kohilan, the report said, was said to be well-liked by Puchong’s Indian community. Gobind on the other hand, was seemingly viewed in a negative light, especially by local PKR members.

An MIC branch chairman in the area also claimed that Gobind won on Indian swing votes in the 2008 General Elections; an effect of the 2007 Hindraf rally.

Gerakan does not have a single state or parliamentary seat in Selangor. It used to have four state seats, but lost them after they were annihilated in the 12th GE in 2008.

The party has also lost all but two of its parliamentary constituencies; Gerik and Simpang Renggam, respectively held by Tan Lian Hoe and Liang Teck Meng.

After the 2008 general election, Kohilan was made a senator and appointed as the deputy foreign minister.

Penan block logging road near Ba Bunau, Middle Baram

Penan block logging road near Ba Bunau, Middle BaramPenan are stopping a four wheel drive at Ba Bunau, Baram, Sarawak, on 13 October 2011 (Picture: BMF)

We have just received the news that the Penan communities of Ba Abang and Long Kawi in Sarawak's Middle Baram region have started blockading a logging road to prevent the further felling of their rainforests.

According to community information received by the Bruno Manser Fund, the blockade has been erected last Thursday, 13th October 2011, and has been attended by more than 70 Penan tribespeople. The blockade is located near the Ba Bunau river within the claimed Native Customary Rights land of the Ba Abang community. It is mainly directed against Interhill, a Malaysian logging company based in Miri, Sarawak. Interhill is also known to be the owner of the Pullman 5-star hotel in Sarawak's capital, Kuching. The Pullman Kuching hotel is being operated by the French Accor group.

The Penan accuse Interhill of particularly aggressive and environmentally destructive logging during the past months. Several attempts by the communities to negotiate with Interhill responsibles have failed. Interhill had already been accused of similar conduct in 2009. An independent study commisioned by the French Accor group showed at the time that Interhill had been involved in illegal and unsustainable logging practices. Following pressure from Accor's sustainability department, Interhill promised to better its conduct but has obviously failed to live up to its promises.

The Bruno Manser Fund has learned that Interhill called the police and forestry department officials to dissolve the blockade but the Penan are currently upholding their protest. In December 2009, six Penan communities of the Middle Baram region jointly filed court cases to claim land titles over their customary land and asked for the logging licences to be declared null and void. The cases are currently pending at the Miri High Court.

The Bruno Manser Fund is calling on the Interhill management to instruct their staff to immediately stop the destructive logging of the Penan forests and to send a high-ranking delegation to the blockade site to apologize for the company's conduct. We are particiulary disappointed to learn that Interhill failed to live up to the promises made to the French Accor group and to the international community two years ago.