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Thursday, October 20, 2011

MIC boss: Don’t repeat the 2008 mistake

G Palanivel believes that the government should complete its five-year term and hold the general election in 2013.
PETALING JAYA: As the ruling coalition licked its wounds in the aftermath of the 2008 electoral bruising, reports surfaced of how certain intelligence units had advised the then prime minister against calling for a general election at that point of time.
But Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who secured the biggest ever mandate for Barisan Nasional just four years earlier, had failed to read the pulse of the voters.
When the results rolled in, the coalition was paralysed with shock.
Four years on, there is a new prime minister at the helm and the voting pattern in a series of by-elections, coupled with the problems in the opposition, appear to favour him and speculation of a snap polls is rife.
However, MIC president G Palanivel warned against making the same mistake.
In an exclusive interview with FMT, he said that the government should rule until its present five-year term expired in 2013.
“We need time to create an impact, we need time to deliver, we need time to see the impact of the 10th Malaysia Plan and we need time for the Budget.
“So we have to go for a full term, we should not make the mistake we made in 2008, dissolving Parliament all of a sudden; we would be in trouble if we do that,” he added.
He also pointed out that should Parliament be dissolved, there was a possibility that the Pakatan Rakyat-controlled state governments might decide against dissolving their respective state legislative assemblies.
“They will say ‘never mind, we will dissolve it in 2013′. Then we had it, there will be a major fight. So the most important thing is, we must go for a full term,” he said.
Commenting on Indian votes, the MIC president stressed that while the community’s support for BN had increased, it would, however, not be as glorious as in the past.
“Possibly 60% or 70% (Indian votes in favour of BN in the next polls). Forget 75% and 80%. But Indian votes are now crucial and precious. Once, we were told that we are a minority but not anymore,” he said, quipping that even MCA was now voicing out for the Indians.
Need for empowerment
During the 40-minute interview, Palanivel also repeatedly stressed that the Indian community had been marginalised and therefore must be empowered.
However, he said that the government under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was willing to change the situation.
But when asked why MIC chose to remain in BN when the community it represented had been marginalised for more than 50 years, Palanivel promptly replied: “We are not talking about the past.”
“I am looking at the future. We cannot be with the opposition either. They are also not taking care of the Indians; giving tidbits here and there is not going to help the Indians. This country is a country of endless resources… and Indian labour put this country on the world map,” he added.
According to Palanivel, about 30% of the Indian community had been marginalised and this had led to an increase in violence.
“The important thing is to empower the community. We are not begging, we want empowerment. The government under the new prime minister is empowering us… a lot of problems must be sorted so that this community can become mainstream. No community should remain sub-stream,” he said.
Speaking about affirmative actions, the MIC president said that such initiatives were pointless if they failed to reach the target groups.
Responding to a question, Palanivel agreed that affirmative actions should be needs-based as opposed to being race-based.
“But there is nothing wrong if it’s race-based because Indians are also in the poor category. But we must model the programmes for the particular races to deliver them out of poverty,” he said.
The MIC president also stated how Najib had agreed to some of the pertinent issues he had raised with regard to uplifting the socio-economic standard of the Indian community.
“One of them is that Indian civil servants have been by-passed for promotions and that they must be promoted on an urgent basis. The PM said he will address this problem.
“The second thing I raised is that we are economically left out, our small shopkeepers are not doing well and many of them are blacklisted by financial institutions.
“So I suggested that we set up a cooperative. In record time, a cooperative was set up. I put many independent people in it. The government has given RM8 million to rescue those on the blacklist… we give a facelift to businesses and empower them,” he said.
“I also requested for a matriculation programme; not every Indian child gets to go for a government matriculation course. I asked for an additional 1,000 places and he (Najib) agreed. The private sector like Binary University and others are conducting it, and the government will fund it,” he added.
Participation in GLCS
Palanivel said that he was also working on increasing Indian participation and employment in government-linked companies or GLCs.
“We have identified the top 20 GLCs. But to identify the right people to sit in these GLCS is a challenge. That’s why I am still holding back and everyday I am looking (for candidates). We need suitable people so that they can function.
“MCA has a good relationship with the Chinese business sector, but MIC’s relationship with the Indian business sector is at a low level. So our job is to bring the business sector into the GLCs and other organisations,” he added.
Apart from this, Palanivel said that a special purpose vehicle was also formed in record time.
“It will be run independently. We want to ask the government for a soft loan so that we don’t start a new business but we acquire existing businesses,” he added.
Palanivel also agreed that while Najib continued to push the right buttons, the negative perception towards Umno had not changed.
“We won’t know what is happening down the line (in Umno)… like some division leaders given allocations are not giving it to the Indians. This is at the bottom (level). At the top, at the government and Cabinet levels, everybody listens, the PM listens, the DPM listens, the home minister listens…
“The PM is doing a good job. Umno itself is dependent on Indian votes, so they are nice to us,” he said.
Asked if Najib’s reforms would only be significant if Umno, the backbone of the ruling coalition, altered its ways as well, Palanivel replied: “The government is reforming and when this happens, Umno will reform.”
“We don’t worry about the past, let’s look at the present and future. Let’s not look at past policies, but rather future policies. Past policies will eventually fade out,” he added.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
The prime minister has been criticised for not taking stern action against certain groups and individuals who go on a racial offensive such as Perkasa and Ibrahim Ali.
Ibrahim Ali is just an individual.
But should the PM be more stern?
In a democracy, everyone has a right to shout
But the same luxury was not extended to Hindraf.
Hindraf did a good job. Because of them, we have an Indian deputy chief minister, an Indian speaker, we have so many Indians in the opposition. So if we do a good job, we will also gain back whatever we lost.
But the question is – the kind of space given to the likes of Ibrahim Ali was not given to Hindraf, their leaders were arrested under ISA.
You must look at all this in a different way. I don’t treat the kind of issues that Ibrahim Ali raises seriously because I have a bigger job ahead of me. He has always been like that.
The fact that Perkasa has a negative impact on BN cannot be denied.
Perkasa cannot have a negative impact on Indians, they are a solid community. They will do the right thing at the right time.
As a BN leader, do you think the government should act more sternly against such individuals.
The thing is, I support one thing. In a democracy, everyone should be given a voice to shout. If they had given this space to Hindraf, it would be a good thing. In a democracy, there must be space…
But the authorities seem to be selective in giving space; police reports are lodged against others, some are hauled up for sedition…
The government will be careful in handling issues. That is why they are reluctant to do certain things. The important thing is, I am a party leader, a community leader. If anybody hits out at the Indians, I will hit back. I am looking at more serious issues facing our community, because an empowered community can make noise, a dis-empowered community cannot make noise.
Do race-based parties like MIC still have a role to play in an evolving political landscape which is gravitating towards multiracial politics.
We represent the Indian community, but we are part of a multiracial system. So both will go hand-in-hand. This party will not lose its identity, we will remain here for centuries.
For centuries?
Yes. How can we become like any other party. We represent a community, we have our own language, culture and religion.
Is MIC evolving with the changing times?
MIC is changing. You can see that I listen. When I go for meetings, I don’t talk much but I listen. I make a short speech and listen… I have given space for people to talk. I want to know what people have in their hearts and minds.
What are the challenges you are facing after inheriting a party from someone who controlled it for three decades.
Don’t worry about the past. I now have a working party, my people are working. Each person is given a job to do and he does it. We are going to turn this party into a party of workers, not a party of supporters. Everybody is working hard, I am pushing them… we want to understand our own community, listen to their frustrations and heal them.
Can you elaborate on your ministerial portfolio.
I am in charge of several things such as Mampu (Malaysian Administrative and Management Planning Unit); it is one of the most resourceful organisations in the government. I am in charge of Intan (National Institute of Training), I am in charge of the Public Complaints Bureau, they receive about 14,000 to 15,000 complaints annually. I am also in charge of special functions. I will be in charge of the economic development of Indians, carrying them forward. I am also in charge of Hindu temples, Tamil schools and all Indian issues.
Whenever I ask for allocations to empower the Indian community, I’ll get it. What I need is resourceful people to sit with me, powerful think-tanks, doers and workers. I don’t want opportunists, or those who are after positions and titles. I want those who can serve and work for the community. I think the party is now moving in the right direction. I can see the Indian community’s appreciation for the new leadership (in MIC), there is a certain level… I wouldn’t say it’s a high percentage, every decision I make, it (the support) increases half percent, one percent, three percent. I am a bit more open.
Are you satisfied with what the government has given thus far for the community?
These are the preliminary things coming in. I am looking at the big picture. I am looking at something like… the government coming with a RM5 billion project for us. As I told you, we are a marginalised community. We need a big budget to uplift the community. We (MIC) won’t use the money, we want the systems to use it. What is RM5 billion for the government?

PANAS! Pegawai Khas ADUN DAP Hina Kaum India

Leong Yook Kong, Setiausaha Politik YB Thanasekaran, ADUN DAP Bagan dalam akaun twitternya telah menghina kaum India dengan ibaratkan mereka dengan ular.

Beliau yang sebelum ini pernah melakukan sedemikian kali ini dengan terus terang menghina  kaum India dilaman twitternya. Jika dilihat dengan baik, beliau sering menggunakan kata-kata kesat terhadap kebanyakkan orang yang beliau tidak sukai seperti yang tentera di gambar atas.

Ini jelas menunjukkan bahawa beliau mengaku akan motif beliau dan tweet beliau memang ditujukan kepada kaum India.

Apakah DAP akan biarkan rasis sebegini dalam parti? adakah tindakan akan diambil atas kenyataan penghinaan tersebut?

Penulis pinta Leong Yook Kong untuk tampil memohon maaf akan apa yang telah dilakukan.!

Sumber dari SINI

Seperti yang sedia kita maklum, DAP adalah parti yang sangat rasis walaupun depa kononnya mengaku menjaga kebajikan semua kaum tetapi tak lebih hanya mahu undi dan cibaikan kaum lain. Sama perangai macam komunis

Apa yang diketahui satu laporan polis telah dibuat oleh Pengerusi Media Baru MIC untuk diambil tindakan kerana DAP telah menghasut pengguna twitter dan cubaan mencetuskan kegusaran kaum lain.

Malaysia Up Five Rank In The World Bank Doing Busines Report 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 (Bernama) -- Malaysia has moved up five notches to 18th place in the World Bank Doing Business Report 2012, ahead of developed economies such as Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Switzerland.

In a statement here Thursday, Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, said the report came in the wake of concerted efforts and initiatives launched by the government to improve public service delivery.

"The world ranking showed that the reform measures implemented by the government is beginning to show results," he said.

Mohd Sidek, who is also the co-chair of Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (PEMUDAH), said over the last 24 months, various recorded changes had been implemented in public sector agencies to simplify procedures and improve transparency and efficiency.

However, he said, the private sector, on its part, needed to take more determined measures to simplify procedures and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy to improve business efficiency.

"Only when this happens can the broader reform of the government in making a simpler and efficient delivery system in Malaysia be fully realised," he said.

Mohd Sidek said the World Bank Report highlighted the lead Malaysia took in introducing electronic filing in the courts, setting up specialised civil and commercial courts in Kuala Lumpur, and merging company, tax, social security and employment fund registrations at a one-stop centre for business start-ups.

The country was also cited for being one of 24 countries that had set up regulatory reform committees reporting directly to a prime minister or president, he said.

"Among other Asian countries ranked above Malaysia in the report is Singapore which is ranked in the first place, Hong Kong and China shared the second position, South Korea was in eighth place and Thailand 17th," he said.

Airplane Passenger Who Declared ‘You’re All Going to Die’ and Praised Allah Was Not a Terrorist

Ali Reza Shahsavari, a 29-year-old man of Iranian descent, boarded a Southwest flight in L.A. headed to Kansas City on Tuesday. At some point after takeoff, according to the crew's account, he got into a fight with another passenger. They separated the two men. Shahsavari went into the bathroom and started to shout obscenities. At some point, he made this threat:
"You're all going to die. You're all going to hell. Allahu Akbar!"
Soon after that discouraging announcement, a flight attendant succeeded in calming him down. The flight rerouted to Amarillo, where Shahsavari was taken into police custody, without resistance, while a dozen officers took affidavits from other passengers.
The initial emergency call claimed a passenger "was attempting to break into the cockpit," but Amarillo police think now that that never happened.
"He was being disruptive and unruly on the flight, but he was not specifically trying to break into the cockpit," [Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick] Rhodes said. [...]
FBI Special Agent Mark White, based in Dallas, said the event did not appear to be an act of terrorism. He described Shahsavari as a U.S. citizen who might have experienced an episode of mental illness.
"It sounded like he sort of lost control of himself," White said.
Even so, if you're name is Ali Shahsavari, don't be surprised if you now find yourself on the No Fly List. You know what they say — one Allah-praising, mass-murder-pledging apple ruins the bunch.
[Amarillo Globe-News, Screengrab via]

No risk of Christianisation, says Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) said today it will not support Saturday’s gathering of a million Muslims as Islam is not facing the threat of Christianisation.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a press conference today that there was no reason to fear the church as “we have all the power and laws to enhance the understanding of Islam but it has not been done” by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

“Instead, those in power only inculcate fear. We have never believed that Islam is being threatened by Christianisation,” the PKR de fato leader said.

The Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun) or Gathering of a Million Faithful, is organised by various right-wing religious groups calling for Muslims to rise up against the “challenge of Christianisation.”

The rally was mooted after the controversial raid on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) on August 3 where it was alleged that Christians were proselytising to Muslims there.

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

With ethnic tensions 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.

Anwar (picture) added that after PAS said last night it would not back Himpun as the organisers wanted it to be apolitical, PKR had also decided to follow suit as “there can be negative impact” to inter-faith relations.

“But we have compelling evidence to suggest that Umno is involved as its media is playing it up and they only support an event if it is backed by Umno,” the Permatang Pauh MP said.

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 it was proselytising Muslims.

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

An initial court ruling allowing the Catholic Church to use the term Allah 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’s claims, Utusan Malaysia fanned the flames with allegations that Christian groups in Kuala Lumpur and Johor were actively trying to convert Muslims.

Anwar added today that the party “advises our members not to attend the gathering due to the ramifications of such an event” but said that it would not take disciplinary action against those who do.

No parliament sitting on Deepavali eve

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has requested for parliament to break on Oct 25.

KUALA LUMPUR: Parliament will not sit on Oct 25, the eve of Deepavali, as requested by opposition party DAP.

The decision, which was announced by Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia in parliament this morning was in deferences to a request from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Pandikar Amin said that he had received a request from Najib for Parliament not to sit next Tuesday, the day before Deepavali.

Parliament will reconvene on Oct 27. Deepavali is on Oct 26.

Last week, Pakatan leaders cried foul over the fact that Parliament was scheduled to sit on Deepavali eve.

At a press conference, Ipoh Barat MP, M Kulasegaran, said the eve of Deepavali was when Hindus, in a time-honoured tradition, gather for family reunions and offer prayers to their ancestors.

He said that by scheduling the sitting on a day before Deepavali, “the government had reneged on its word and deliberately failed in its pledge to look after the sensitivities of the Indian community”.

This Parliament session which began on Oct 3 is schedule to end in December.

Najib’s word

To his credit, Naib has already directed programmes surrounding the Deepavali festivities to be rescheduled.

Deepavali is a gazetted public holiday in Malaysia.

Earlier in July, during the launch of the 1Malaysia Indian Students Movement at Universiti Malaya, Najib announced that the curriculum and exam schedules in Malaysia would be revamped to ensure that it did not clash with Deepavali.

For the past 20 years, Indians were stuck with the problem of examinations which invariably fell either a day before or on the day of the festival.

Thus, many rarely returned home and missed out on the celebrations.

Since Najib’s announcement, an official circular from the Education Ministry asking universities to reschedule exams and classes in order to provide a longer break for Deepavali has already been implemented in public universities.

Remember 2007

Ignoring Deepavali is not a new issue in Malaysia. Kulasegaran had flagged the same issue in 2007.

In 2007, Umno, much to the shock and chagrin of Malaysians, both Hindus and non-Hindus, had held its annual general assembly on Nov 8, which was Deepavali day.

The brazen and “growing pattern of insensitivity by the powers-that-be” further stoked public discontent.

The seering discontent among the Indians, Chinese and Malays eventually led to Barisan Nasional losing its hold on five states and Umno suffering a most humiliating defeat in the 12th general election in 2008.

‘Molest’ tale: No trace of girl in Penang

DAP has identified the British girl from her images posted on Umno blogs.
KUALA LUMPUR: The girl who was allegedly molested by the 16-year-old son of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had never been to Malaysia, DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua said today.

The 21-year-old girl, a former world chess champion, was identified as Anya Corke, a British citizen of mixed parentage. Her father is Scottish and her mother Chinese.

Pua said she was traced from the images posted on pro-Umno blogs by the DAP headquarters’ IT manager.

“We went to the school to look for girl but the headmaster and the teachers told us they do not know who she was.

“She has never studied in Penang. We don’t even know if she has ever been to Malaysia,” Pua told reporters at the Parliament lobby here.

Corke, who was raised in Hong Kong, has won many national and international chess championship titles. She is currently studying in Wellesley College, a renowned women liberal arts college in the US.

Pua said the images of Corke that appeared on the pro-Umno blogs such as “Papagomo” were taken and cropped while she was playing chess.

He added that the images were most likely taken from the website,

“This proves beyond doubt that all the accusations by these Umno cybertroopers are nothing but lies.
“They are willing to destroy the life of an innocent 16-year-old and bring the country into disrepute by defaming a foreign top achiever for political ends,” Pua said.

He said that legal action against the bloggers has been considered but it was up to Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, to decide how to pursue the matter.

On Monday, several pro-Umno blogs alleged that Lim’s son had molested a female schoolmate at the Heng Yee Chinese Secondary School.

The blogs also claimed that in order to cover up the act, Lim’s family had paid the girl RM200,000 for her silence and transferred his son out to another school.

‘A heinous lie’

Today, Pua also asked Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin to withdraw his “snide and crass” tweets over the issue and to apologise to Lim’s son.

Yesterday, Khairy tweeted several tweets regarding the matter, one of which was: “Mungkin dia roboh Kampung Buah Pala sebab nak ganti dengan Kampung Buah Dada” (Maybe he demolished Kampung Buah Pala to replce it with Kampung Buah Dada).

Kampung Buah Pala, the oldest enclave of ethnic Indians in Penang, made headlines in 2009 when private developers demolished the village.

The state government later agreed to compensate the families with a double-storey house each. However, 15 out of the 24 villagers accepted the offer.

Pua said Khairy, who was a role model for many young Malaysians, should be held accountable for his callous remarks.

He also said that Umno must also take “harsh and stern” actions against Umno members like “Papagomo” who spread the slander (about the groping incident).

Meanwhile, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, described the accusation against his grandson as a “heinous” lie, saying Malaysian politics was falling deeper into gutter politics.

“The prime minister speaks of political transformation but we keep falling deeper into gutter politics,” he said.

Kit Siang said that the standard of politics in the country was deteriorating, including matters pertaining to race and religion.

Guan Eng was not present at the press conference as he is away in Singapore.

Soi Lek: Anti-apostasy rally dangerous

The MCA president says religious and racial harmony in the country is fragile and people should not take this for granted.
SERI KEMBANGAN: Voicing his objection to the anti-apostasy public rally, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek warned that racial and religious harmony can be easily destroyed.

He was referring to the Himpunan Sejuta Ummah (Gathering of a Million Muslims) to be held this Saturday in Shah Alam.

Asked if the rally, planned by a coalition of Muslim NGOs, should go on, Chua said: “Whether it should go on or not, I think the police would know what to do. But personally I feel that
there should not be any public rally.”

“I would say that we should reduce any form of racial tension, any form of religious activity that would contribute to suspicion among all races in the country and we should not take for granted the
religious and racial harmony.

“It is a very fragile harmony which can easily be destroyed by irresponsible people,” he told reporters at the signing ceremony for the 3rd World Chinese Economic Forum here.

Chua said the “number one” priority should be for all Malaysians to “accept the fact that this is a multi-racial and multi-religous society.”

“While all of us have the freedom to preach the religion we want. All Malaysians should be sensitive to the fact that religion is a sensitive issue,” he added.

Asked if there was a way to resolve tensions between communities, especially religious groups, Chua said if any community wanted to impose its religion on others, “there would be tension”.

The anti-apostasy rally was organised over the claims of increasing attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Yesterday, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang announced that the party would not participate in the anti-apostasy rally as the organisers said their event would not involve political parties.

Rally organiser Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid had told a newsportal that the event was not linked to any political parties.

Kulim Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin, senator Ezam Mohd Noor and Pasir Mas MP Ibrahim Ali
had no role in the event, he had said.

‘Gutter politics’

Meanwhile, on accusations against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over his son being involved in a molestation case, Chua called it gutter politics.

“Well I said that in this country, since 308 (the 2008 general election), everyone is practicing gutter politics. This comes from both sides of the political divide.

“No one can stand on moral high grounds,” he said.
On the calls for the MCA president to face off with DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang in the next general election, Chua said he would announce his candidacy when the time comes.
“As the leader of a leading a political party, I have my own opinion and I don’t need the DAP to advise or challenge me. I won’t let others challenge me, or sway me with their arguments,” he added.

Plots faze me not, says Palanivel

In an exclusive interview with FMT, the MIC president talks about his rumoured rocky relationship with his deputy Dr S Subramaniam and the upcoming general election.

PETALING JAYA: Grapevine has it that the relationship between the top two leaders is not something to toast about and behind the public exhibitions of camraderie, daggers are drawn.

When the question was posed to MIC president G Palanivel, the initial response was an outright denial. But after a little prodding, his subsequent remarks suggested that perhaps all was not well.

News filtering out from the inner circle, however, claimed that a battle was being waged.

Palanivel became the acting president late last year when his predecessor S Samy Vellu decided to relinquish the throne after three decades.

Througout his years in MIC, the deeply religious and vegetarian leader was seen as the president’s man, starting as Samy Vellu’s press secretary and later rising up the ranks to become number two. His achievements were attributed to his mentor’s influence.

Fatigued by an hectic schedule but still in high spirits, the journalist-turned-politician addressed these issues during an exclusive interview with FMT at the swanky Bukit Kiara equestrian club.

‘We hear things…’

According to the MIC president, his ties with the second-in-command and Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam was cordial but at the same time expressed confidence of emerging victorious in the event of any such tussles.

“He is nice with me. I was the person who brought him in. I made him a MP and secretary-general. All this is not an issue for me. Politicians will always have issues, but as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t even register on my mind,” he said, flashing a smile.

When told that talk was rife that both he and Subramaniam were allegedly plotting each other’s downfall, Palanivel stressed that he was not aiming for the medical doctor’s jugular.

“I don’t not know (about) that, but I am not plotting his downfall,” he said.

Asked if Subramaniam was working to end his political career, the president replied: “We hear things… but these things have to sell first. If you don’t have a selling point, whatever plot you do, will not be successful.”

“Every leader needs a selling point. I have sold myself very well to the community and the party. So the party will not go against me,” he added.

Palanivel also dimissed talk of a rift between him and Samy Vellu who, certain quarters claimed, was miffed with his successor’s leadership style and certain decisions.

“There is no rift. He is busy with his own circle and I am busy with my own circle… we don’t have time for each other now,” he said, breaking into laughter.

However, the president made it crystal clear that he was steering MIC in a different direction and not sailing along the route charted by his predecessor.

“This is a new MIC, we can mobilise the people. When the PM (Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak) came to the Mines Convention Centre (for the Tamil New Year celebration), 25,000 people attended.

“They came on their own. We organised it, we gave food to everyone. But those who came were not all MIC members, they were outsiders. Wherever we go now, we are facing the public, we are not facing our members… we have come out of that syndrome.

“We are building our relationship with the public. The public was left out, professionals were left out, seniors were left out. We are now trying to touch base with these groups,” he added.

Palanivel also lent credence to the rumours that former vice-president S Sothinathan was poised to make a comeback, and perhaps even form an alliance to vie for the number two post in the next party election.

In the last party polls, Sothinathan came out last in a three-cornered bout for the deputy president post against Palanivel and another S Subramaniam.

Speaking about the party’s candidates for the upcoming general election, Palanivel said that Sothinathan, the former Teluk Kemang MP, was working hard in that constituency.

Asked if he would be fielded, the president replied: “He is definitely candidate material.”

‘Sabotaged in Hulu Selangor’

As for himself, Palanivel, who was appointed senator last year and recently evelated to a full minister, revealed that he would “most probably” contest in the general election.

“I have not decided where to contest but I will most probably contest. My main focus is to bring back Indian votes. To bring back votes, the government must address all our problems,” he said.

A grim-faced Palanivel also claimed that he was sabotaged during last year’s Hulu Selangor by-election when he was not named as the candidate for that parliamentary seat, which he had held prior to his narrow defeat in the 2008 general election.

“That was sabotage, nothing else. Pure sabotage. Until the previous day, I was the candidate, the next day I was not the candidate,” he said, declining to reveal the hands behind the plot.

“I wouldn’t say who sabotaged it. All I know is that they carried out an intensive campaign against me. If I had stood (in the by-election), I would have won,” he added.

After a period of uncertainty, Barisan Nasional named MIC’s P Kamalanathan as the candidate and the latter defeated former PKR member Zaid Ibrahim in the by-election.

New faces in election line-up

Elaborating on MIC’s candidates for the general election, Palanivel said that it would be imprudent to reveal the names at this juncture as it could lead to some quarters sabotaging the candidates.
However, he said that new faces would be included.

“I personally believe that those who have served two terms as elected reps or in the senate or one term in the senate or elected as state assemblymen, they must learn to give way.

“(But) we cannot make the mistake of fielding all new faces, we may lose the general election. We must put familiar faces who are already branded in the party and community.

“Some incumbents will be left to defend their seats. Because if they have (government) positions, those positions give them weight,” he added.

In the last general election, MIC was dealt a devastating blow, losing six out of nine parliamentary seats and 12 out of 19 state seats. Apart from Palanivel, even Samy Vellu was vanquished in his stronghold of Sungai Siput.

MIC’s current four MPs are deputy president Subramaniam (Segamat) and vice-presidents SK Devamany (Cameron Highlands), M Saravanan (Tapah) and Kamalanathan (Hulu Selangor).
Below are excerpts from the interview:

 You have been criticised as being media shy.

I have given many interviews to the media, but I don’t want to over-publicise myself. I don’t want to be a daily diarrohea, purging here and there. I must only talk on the right issues at the right time. I cannot be talking on all the issues and not deliver. Whatever I say, I do it.

The critics have compared you to Samy Vellu, who was always in the limelight.

He was a different cup of coffee, I am a different cup of coffee. He had a powerful ministry so he could issue statements on a daily basis. I have to look after the community – this is the biggest burden I am facing. My daily job is looking after the community, not the government. I have inherited a disempowered community. I have to build them back… my working hours are very long. I am not publicity shy, I don’t want to be publicity crazy.

You have also been criticised for postponing the presidential elections. Some have asked you to seek a mandate to prove yourself.

Umno, MCA… had made the decision (to pospone party polls until after the general election). So we made a similar decision. When we are going for a general election, it will be a calamity to hold a party election… there will be war on the ground.

Are you confident of being elected as president if the presidential polls is held now?

I have been a longtime fellow in the party (laughs). Every MIC chairman is known to me. There are a few fellows (critics), that is not important to me. I have been in touch with hundreds of MIC chairmen, they all know me, I am not a new guy.

You have also been criticised for accepting the ministerial post, which is considered a backdoor entry into the corridors of power.

All this (those saying this) are my ‘enemies’ and badmouthers (laughs). I can’t be bothered about them. The Indians needed two ministers and there are no two ways about this. I am a long-serving politician, I am not a newcomer in the scene. I am a four-term MP; it was due to some bad fortune that I lost narrowly (in the general election).

There are also those who claim that you are under the control of party veteran KS Nijhar and he calls the shots.

No, no, no. There is no such thing. I control the party. Nijhar has good ideas, he always gives ideas but we don’t accept all ideas.

What about the Interlok issue, MIC has been seen as having failed…

No, no, we didn’t fail. We put up a good fight. When they wanted to bring back the book, by just removing one or two words, I stood my ground. Finally, in the last meeting in Parliament, I stood my ground and they agreed to withdraw all those sensitive words. And then they told the schools to use adhesive tapes to blacken out (the offensive words). I gave a very powerful statement and they were shaken up.

But your initial stand was to have the book revoked.

Initially, I didn’t make that stand, I just wanted that word (pariah) removed. Initially, it was only that word. But when a pandemonium broke out, I wanted the whole book looked at very carefully and I made the statement that it should be withdrawn. Then when the disagreements and agreements took place, they wanted to have the book reviewed… and then again they were adamant on not wanting to remove some words. I told them ‘no’… finally they agreed to all.

The mistake was instead of introducing a new book (edited version), they wanted to use adhesive tapes and blacken out the words, that was when I lost my cool. Now I think, this issue… we should look into the future, I am confident this book will not be used in schools in the coming years. If this is being cited as a big issue, how did we win in Tenang, Merlimau and Kerdau (by-elections)? The Indian votes did not run away. They (the voters) couldn’t be bothered about these fellows. At that time it was a hot issue, they held protest there, they burned the books and so many things, they went house to house, but the Indians didn’t bother. These fellows are just exploiting the issue, they are trying to get a name for themselves.

Will former deputy president S Subramaniam make a comeback?

He has a good relationship with me. But we have not dicussed seats (for the general election). All these decisions I will make at the last moment. The party president decides everything, just like during Samy Vellu’s time and Manikavasagam’s time.

Who will contest in Sungai Siput? Many names have cropped up, including that of MIC Youth chief T Mohan and central working committee member S Vell Paari (Samy Vellu’s son).

Perak Menteri Besar (Zambry Abdul Kadir) has been calling me to contest in Sungai Siput. Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar (Mohamed Hasan) wants me to contest in Teluk Kemang. Everybody is a pontential candidate. But finally, we have to make a good choice.

Are you confident of wresting back Sungai Siput?

If we work in the right direction, we can win both Sungai Siput and Teluk Kemang… if we put the right candidates.

Part two of the interview will be published tomorrow.

Himpun organisers get police permit

(The Malaysian Insider) - Selangor police chief Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said police have issued a permit to the organisers of the gathering of Muslim groups called “Himpunan Sejuta Umat” at Shah Alam Stadium this Saturday, as they are confident it will proceed peacefully and abide by the conditions set in the permit.

“We have studied the programme which will include poetry recital, nasyid (singing of religious songs) and talks. We have also not received any negative report on the planned gathering,” he said after closing a course on crime-prevention at factories in Selangor today.

Tun Hisan said the permit was for the gathering to be held from 2pm to 6pm and it would not involve any procession, adding that police would still be prepared for any eventuality.

And this is Malaysia

A gathering dubbed Himpunan Sujuta Umat (Himpun), which aims to gather a million Muslims against alleged Christian proselytising, will be held at the Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday. That is the focus of the Malays, kaypoh into other people’s affairs. Now see what is happening all over the world, which the Malays do not seem to care about. And we want the Malays to progress like this?
Raja Petra Kamarudin

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Can India Stamp Out Polio?

Lining up for the jab
Country must be polio-free for three years
Could India, once the world’s ravaged by the polio virus, be on the verge of eradicating the scourge? Only one case has been recorded in 2011, in West Bengal in January.

While many international epidemiologists believe the global polio eradication effort has more or less hit a plateau, they suggest that India may be inching towards succeeding in stopping the transmission of the disease.

There is need for caution, however. This period is crucial if polio eradication is to be truly achieved and subsequently the WHO certification gained. A country must be completely polio-free for three years to gain certification. As India’s Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, cautioned recently, the occurrence of even a single case during this phase could almost lead to a public health emergency.

India began its polio program in 1995, one of the biggest public health programs the world had seen, with the aim of vaccinating 165 million children. The program was designed to eradicate the virus by 2000, which mostly affects children between the ages of 2 and 5, usually cripples them for life and sometimes causing death. To be declared polio-free, a country must have no new cases for three consecutive years. Subsequent recurrences of the disease pushed back the target date.

The continuing vaccination program is the key. This, along with relentless efforts by the central and state governments, UN agencies like UNICEF and WHO, organizations like Rotary International, and other key partners, have helped to establish the much needed health-seeking behavior from caregivers and parents of children under five.

New cases would not come as a surprise, say many health experts, given the possibility of residual transmission somewhere. But the greatest risk for such transmission seems to have passed.

New polio cases usually rise in August/and September as the monsoon rains from June to September spread sewage and water contaminated by the virus, giving rise to transmission through the oral-fecal route. Although patterns vary, in 2010 there were only a few cases and they peaked in August.

The real sources of polio have been the two northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which have stayed “cordoned off” from the rest of the country. Once known for more viruses than anywhere in the world, the two states have not produced or transmitted any new cases within their borders for around a year. Massive vaccination efforts now reach more than 98 percent of children in Uttar Pradesh, and over 95 percent in Bihar.

In most places, 90 per cent coverage is the goal. Pakistan, where polio is spreading, manages only 50 per cent, with the data suggesting that the cases are concentrated near the Afghan border, so the risk of cross-border spread between Pakistan and India remains low. There is also constant regulation along the international border. For instance, a recent public health notification was issued to ensure that all children who may be entering India from Pakistan are immunized.

The intensive polio vaccine coverage in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh has led to high levels of immunity against the remaining strains of polio. In a recently conducted survey, supported by WHO, over 98 per cent of children were found to have antibodies against wPV1 virus, and 77 per cent against wild Polio Virus type-3 (wPV3). With the polio virus eliminated at its source, wild polio virus cases across the country dipped from 741 in 2009 to 42 in 2010 and to just one case in 2011.

The primary source of detection for polio is through cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). It is to be noted that only about one-in-2,000 wPV3 infections result in paralysis, whereas it is one-in-200 for wPV1.

India saw its last type-3 virus around a year ago. This seems to indicate that India has managed to push the wPV3 to a corner. All the six outbreaks in 2009 were fully neutralized, which is why there have been no cases in 2011. Moreover, according to available scientific data, even sewage samples taken from select high-risk areas have not shown the presence of the type 3 virus for over 14 months.

Given India’s high population density and other risk-factors like poor routine immunization, lack of appropriate sanitation and poor hand-washing/hygiene health-behavior, gaps in detection are possible despite the country having an extremely sensitive disease surveillance system in place. While polio surveillance in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is of unprecedented quality, there are still regions where, theoretically speaking, transmission could persist undetected. In fact, based on given WHO guidelines, an eradication certification is never given until no case is recorded for three years from the last case.

Traditionally, the Indian public health program has been using the trivalent polio vaccination as a part of its routine immunization, which is integrated into the ante-natal health care program. Special polio vaccination drives in select states/districts, as a part of National Immunization Days and so on, have been employing a vaccination strategy with mOPV1 or mOPV3 (monovalent oral polio vaccine for type-1 or type-3 viruses), largely depending on the category of polio virus (wPV1 or wPV3) prevalent in the area.

However, in the last quarter of 2009, it was decided that the national program use the bivalent polio vaccination (comprising OPV1 and OPV3) instead.

Starting early 2010, the program was able to vaccinate children under 5 years with the bivalent vaccine, thus protecting them against both polio viruses. Many health experts credit this strategic use of Bivalent OPV for India being “polio free” since January, a period that includes, significantly, the peak monsoon months.

In efforts of this kind, strategic health communication plays an important role. But it is a complex process given strong beliefs and social norms at the community level, which in turn influence health behavior and practices. The challenge is to address segmented sets of audiences, study varying degrees of prevalent psychological and environmental risk-factors, and then design tailor-made communication packages that promote ownership among local leaders and lead to greater community participation.

In the context of the national eradication program, strategic communication has played a significant role, especially in the at-risk, high-risk and endemic areas of the country. It specifically included addressing communities in high prevalence areas where there is either a refusal or a resistance to adopt the immunization regime. Well orchestrated vaccination operations can be complemented by strategic communication to establish a vital link between people, providers and the projection of key prevention messages.

At a juncture when India is expected to be on the verge of eradicating polio, it may be useful to study the communication strategies deployed so far. Two similar public health challenges – smallpox and HIV/AIDS – both within the gamut of communicable diseases, posed identical challenges for communication strategies. Policy experts would do well to undertake comparative studies on the communication efforts in eradicating polio, small pox and HIV/AIDS, in terms of outreach, behaviour change communication, social mobilisation and advocacy, and then draw the right lessons from the exercise.

It is clear that while 2010-11 saw the consolidation of the polio eradication program, the next three years – till 2014 – will be crucial. This also means focused and intense communication and preventive work, especially with regard to critical risk-factors like poor routine immunization and lack of proper sanitation.

Clearly, there is no room for complacency. India needs to be even more focused on its outreach communication. The goal of complete eradication is within reach. The challenge is to ensure the sustainability of the success achieved so far.

(The writer is a senior UN professional in Strategic Health/Development Communication. Credit: Women's Feature Service)

Parti KEADILAN Rakyat Tidak Akan Sertai Himpunan Sabtu Ini

Maid Moratorium Among Closely-watched Issues At Annual Consultation

By Ahmad Fuad Yahya

MATARAM (Indonesia), Oct 19 (Bernama) -- The maid moratorium imposed by Indonesia is expected to be discussed at the Malaysia-Indonesia Annual Consultation here attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Thursday.

A decision may be expected at the meeting in view of the fact that there has been no visible move to pull back the moratorium even after five months since the signing of an amendment to the 2006 memorandum of understanding on recruitment and placement of Indonesian domestic workers, in Bandung on May 30.

Both sides have, reportedly, not decided on the mechanism to implement the memorandum, particularly in the context of providing protection to the workers and their employers.

Indonesia imposed the moratorium on June 26, 2009 in the wake of abuse cases involving Indonesian maids at the hands of their employers, notwithstanding the actions taken by Malaysia against these offenders, including prosecuting them in court.

The annual consultation, hosted alternately by Malaysia and Indonesia, provides an avenue for leaders of both countries to thrash out issues affecting bilateral relations.

The meeting is also set to take place amid intense media report over the purported land grab by Malaysia. Both Malaysia and Indonesia have denied such incidence ever occurred.

Another outstanding issue is the one concerning the Ambalat maritime boundary which has seen no conclusion thus far even after 20 meetings at the officials' level.

Najib is scheduled to arrive here Thursday, accompanied by wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

His delegation comprises six ministers and a deputy minister, namely Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam and Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Syed Munshe Afdzaruddin Syed Hassan said he was confident that both leaders would be able to find the best solution to these issues.

"What is certain is that the Malaysia-Indonesia ties should continue to be strengthened. People-to-people relations are also crucial in promoting the cordial ties," he said.

Cheong Fatt Tze’s house among Top 10 mansions

The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion along Leith Street In Penang has made it into a list of the top 10 greatest mansions and grand houses in the world.
The selection was done by Lonely Planet with the following citation:
Built in the 1880s, the magnificent 38-room, 220-window Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was commissioned by Cheong Fatt Tze, a local merchant trader who left China as a penniless teenager and ended up as ‘the Rockefeller of the East’. The mansion blends Eastern and Western designs, with louvred windows, art nouveau stained glass and beautiful floor tiles, and is a rare surviving example of the eclectic architectural style preferred by wealthy Straits Chinese of the time. The house sits on the ‘dragon’s throne’, meaning that there is a mountain (Penang Hill) behind and water (the channel) in front – the site was chosen for its excellent feng shui.
The the top 10 listing was also reported on the Fox website.