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Thursday, November 10, 2011

‘Umno guilty of vote buying’

Amanah deputy president and former Umno minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir admits BN had bought votes before and that it was common knowledge.
PETALING JAYA: The cat is finally out of the bag. A senior former Umno minister admitted that his party bought votes during elections.
The Angkatan Amanah Merdeka (Amanah) deputy president and former tourism minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said it was “common knowledge” that such corrupt practices occurred, especially among his Barisan Nasional (BN) colleagues.
And now, Kadir is calling on the BN government to do away with vote buying during elections, a practice he admitted has happened in the past.
“Amanah has asked that there should be no ‘distribution of cash’ to buy votes. It is now common knowledge that two, three, days before voting day, some political parties go about with cash (to bribe voters),” he told FMT.
Kadir said it was an Amanah consensus that all government parties should be strictly prohibited from such practices to ensure free and fair elections.
Asked if he was pointing to political parties from both sides of the political divide, he plainly said: “No, basically we’re talking about the government parties.
“Opposition parties mana ada duit (where do they have the money?) I can say that a lot of BN members are perpetuating such acts.”
On electoral reforms, Kadir said that Amanah fully supports the call for a “care-taker” government to take over the administration of the country at least three months before the dissolution of Parliament.
“This is so all government agencies will be neutralised at this point. When election comes, government machinery cannot be used to support the ruling coalition. Government funds for election should not and cannot be used,” he said.
Amanah’s stand
Kadir also said that it was “obvious” that the opposition had very limited access to the media.
“We (Amanah members) have agreed; it is so obvious that the opposition has no access to the mainstream media, that is not fair. We must ensure that there is fair access,” he said.
Kadir also said that the delineation of constituencies has to be properly discussed so that it would be “very fair” to all parties, and that should be the next priority.
He said that Amanah, the new NGO led by Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, was fully committed to “returning the country to the rakyat”.
“When we achieved Merdeka, it was the rakyat who got the independence, not Tunku (Abdul Rahman), not even the Sultans. Therefore free and fair elections, which were there during the time of our founding fathers, should be returned.
“The spirit of our founding fathers and the rakyat’s rights have been hijacked along the way,” he said.
He reiterated Amanah’s stand that the Parliamentary Select Committee for electoral reforms should revamp the system before election is called as there is “ample” time before the government mandate expires in 2013.
Khairy wants proof
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on Kadir’s statement on vote buying, BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said it was insufficient for Kadir to claim vote buying exists without furnishing proof.
“If he makes such accusations, he has to come up with proof. He has been a minister for a very long time, a very senior politician; he should furnish us with proof,” said Khairy, who supported call for the general election to be called after PSC has come up with recommendations.
Kadir, when asked if he would furnish proof of existence of vote buying, said he would not respond immediately as there was ample time to do so.
Meanwhile, Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Wong Ching Huat commended Kadir’s admittance and called for Amanah to take it one step further by pushing for investigations on “un-investigated” cases of vote buying.
“I welcome his honesty. I hope that people who know about this, people who are formally involved, would come out as star witnesses,” said Wong.
He said law enforcement needs to take place, and urges Amanah to also stand up and put pressure on several “unsolved” cases, citing Sarawak as an example.
On having a “care-taker” government, Wong said that a “neutral” caretaker government would be possible, but might be quite hard to implement.
However, he suggested that the more feasible, and realistic, execution of such an idea is to extend the campaign period and to prohibit any promise or spending of monies in areas where election is held.
“The government should not announce any distribution of funds unless for emergency purposes. And if any, then all political parties should share the limelight; that would be fair. And this would kill off a lot of abuses,” said Wong.
He added that Bersih 2.0 believes in the need to have an Administrative Neutrality Act, where a clear line would be drawn to criminalise any conscious and deliberate effort to abuse state resources for partisan gain.
“For example, if you allow usage of a community hall to one party, and decline usage to another party without any justifiable reasons, then you can be punished,” he said.

MIED: Samy told to make way for Palanivel

Former MIC chief should relinquish his grip on MIED and allow Palanivel to managed the show, says a local party leader.
KLANG: Maju Institute Education Development (MIED) chairman S Samy Vellu should quit and make a way for party president G Palanivel to lead MIC’s education arm, said a local party leader.
V Thiagarajen, the Taman Mujur branch chairman, said the former MIC chief was old and should relinquish his grip on MIED and allow Palanivel to manage the show.
“We the Indian community hope the MIED board of trustees will replace Samy Vellu and elect Palanivel as new chairman and empower his position as MIC president,” he told FMT.
“MIED is MIC property. So, it is only fair the party president takes over as chairman. Moreover, Samy Vellu is getting by in years. He’s old,” added Thiagarajen.
MIED will hold its annual general meeting on Monday (Nov 14).
Thiagarajen also criticised Samy Vellu’s poor administration of Maika Holdings, which was sold to G Team Resource, owned by business tycoon G Gnanalingam for RM80 million.
“I learnt that G Team sold Maika Holdings shares to a third party for RM300million. This is a clear example of Samy Vellu’s failure to handle Maika Holdings,” he said.
Thiagarajen, popularly known as VT Rajen, said that the opposition would make MIED a campaign issue in the run up to the next general-election.
“Opposition leaders are prepared to exploit the issue at the national level. So, to save MIED and BN, Samy Vellu should resign and give way to Palanivel,” said Thiagarajen.
MIED is worth nearly RM1 billion. It also administers MIC’s Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology in Kedah

Ministry of Education (or Miseducation)?

NOV 10 — Phew! Finally anxious parents get a reprieve (or do they?) with announcement from the DPM that students who started out studying Mathematics and Science in English will be allowed to continue in the language they studied. What remains to be seen will be the implementation of this policy.

Our hearts go out to parents whose children commence Standard One next year — especially as there are many of us, who speak English at home and who want our children to compete in the international arena.


Malaysian politicians are famous for making grandiose statements with little or no concern about the implementation. Regardless, parents still remain anxious and uncomfortable at the politicisation of education. Our children have become pawns in the hands of these ministers, who for political mileage use education as a bait. And leaders elected by us to be our representatives have played us out.

Parents want to know categorically, how the policy will be implemented in schools. We do hope the minister will ensure that, especially in urban schools, these subjects be taught in English and the option not be left to the discretion of the teacher. We parents had rightly guessed the implementation would be left in the hands of the principals and teachers of the schools.

Now why do we parents find this unacceptable? Because most of the principals and teachers will find the easy way out and with impunity teach Maths and Science in Malay. So where does that leave our children who would be disadvantaged by this flip-flop policy?

We, angry parents, would like this question to be answered by the Ministry of Education (MOE): in what language are the texts for Science and Math for 2012 and what about our children who are in schools that are unable to teach in English?

Some of the children have already received text books in English, and so we ask again of the MOE, will these students be taught in English? What is the time frame to complete the transfer of school, if we wish our children to be in schools that teach these subjects in English? Let us know categorically which schools will be teaching in English and the procedure for transfer.

Is the Ministry of (Mis) Education aware that SPM students who are sitting for exams next week had to return their textbooks to the school before their exams? What kind of system is in place that does not care for the needs of the children?

We do hope that all these issues of mismanagement of the education system will be reflected in the KPIs of the ministers. The bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education should also be hauled up and held accountable.

Many excuses have been used to revert to the teaching of Science and Maths in Malay such as the teachers are unable to teach in English. Why should this be when millions was spent in training the teachers, for software, including teachers’ and student manuals? These subjects have been taught in English for almost six years — enough time for teachers to cope with the changes.

Tuition, syllabus and streaming

This is also a call to take action or ship out all those incompetent and lazy teachers who promote their own tuition classes to students instead of giving their best in class. This has become a racket and a bane to parents. In some countries, it is a policy that teachers cannot give tuition to students from their own schools.

Furthermore, parents of students in national schools are forking out huge sums on tuition and activity books, notwithstanding the petrol costs and time spent in ferrying students to and from tuition, duplicating what should have been taught in school. Shouldn’t the educational needs for students be met in school? The amounts we pay out each month are almost what parents pay to have their children schooled privately!

Our syllabus is not challenging to young minds: we promote rote learning rather than creative thinking. It is baffling why there has to be multiple choice for maths, when 2+2=4 and can never be 22 or anything else! The syllabus for English is, in a nut-shell, students study greetings from Standard One to Form Five, keeping the students on the brink of boredom through their school years.

Oh, I wonder what the reason is for 50 per cent of the Form Four history syllabus being dedicated solely to Islam. After all, Muslim students do study this separately and it will be repetition for them. Furthermore, a small portion of the syllabus dedicated to this beautiful religion would be fine; otherwise it is proselytising?

At primary level, students are barely exposed to the laboratory; yet their Science paper has an entire section devoted to experiments, their observations and conclusions. There is hardly any space for creative writing or intellectual discourse.

The truth is, if we want to compete with the rest of the world and acquire developed status, the level of teaching in schools should be improved to enhance the education standard. The government should have a more inclusive multiracial recruitment policy and a compensation system to reward good teachers. This will automatically raise the level of efficiency and productivity of concerned school-teachers and directly improve the performance of students.

By the way, the system of streaming young children is absolutely ridiculous as it only serves to lower children’s self esteem, with no benchmarks for either the good or the poor students to emulate. It is a form of segregation and should be abolished immediately.

It is also believed that only the best classes get good teachers; then you are giving those children an unfair advantage and that in itself is cheating the other students, totalling eroding their self confidence. After all, the Malaysian education system has not produced any Nobel laureates; so now, concede to the weakness and make the necessary changes!

An education hub?

Malaysia also has a grand plan to become an education hub, and again taxpayers’ money is spent on promoting Malaysia as a destination for higher education. How the heck are we to do this, when our students, even teachers and lecturers, are more proficient in BM than English? Is anyone at the Ministry of Higher Education even thinking?

Would you believe the dismay of an international PhD student who submitted a PhD proposal to the English Department in the University of Malaya and received the recommendations and comments in Bahasa Malaysia! This truly happened and such are the standards that we have come to accept in our country.

Regardless, it all boils down to raising the standards of English all round, which the DPM has promised to do. But we wonder if the minister realises this can only be achieved when a majority of the subjects are taught in English and the teachers begin to speak and write in English. Only then will Malaysia achieve a breakthrough in this realm.

We have lofty goals to achieve, and anyway it looks rather nice for the government to proclaim it wants to become high-income nation and that Malaysia wants to acquire developed status. But what are the plans implemented to achieve these goals?

Can these benchmarks and milestones be achieved without English, the lingua franca of international education, trade and industry, banking and finance and even tourism? Where does the lack of English language proficiency leave us all, if we cannot compete in the global arena? Perhaps on the road to Greece?

It is imperative and incumbent on the government and the Ministry of Education to formulate an acceptable and concrete plan as to how Science and Maths are going to be taught over the next few years. Parents, who are also voters, want to know what is being done to upgrade the education system in Malaysia to ensure our children are not left behind and are able to compete at the international level. No, not all of us can afford international schools; we are not cronies nor are we well paid government bureaucrats who can afford to send out kids to elite schools. So don’t even tell us so.

Seriously, the education system needs to be revamped. A good starting point would be to remove the purview of education from politicians and leave it in the hands of reputable academicians. Our children are not footballs to be kicked around by our ministers of (mis)education! —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication, and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

154 reports against Seksualiti Merdeka

ImageThe Sun Daily

> Police record statements from more than 50 people

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have received 154 reports so far from individuals and various organisations opposing Seksualiti Merdeka’s planned programmes.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday investigations into the case are ongoing and statements have been recorded from more than 50 people. 

“We expect to interview more people. It is a good thing the organisers called off the event. 

“I hope there are no splinter groups that will try to hold any event in support of Seksualiti Merdeka. If it is banned it means it has been banned. 

“Whatever we may do, we have to look into the sensitivities of our culture, race and religion. Let us not look into the interest of minority groups and end up infuriating the majority,” he said at a press conference during a Deepavali open house by Kuala Lumpur police at the Cheras badminton stadium.

Among those interviewed were journalists who covered a press conference by the organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka. Reporter Michelle Chun of theSunwas also called up yesterday and met investigators at the Pantai Dalam police station for an interview.

Kuala Lumpur CID chief SAC II Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the journalists had their statements recorded as witnesses in the case.

On Monday, former Malaysian Bar chairman and Bersih 2.0 leader Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who was supposed to launch the event last week before it was called off, had her statement recorded by police.

The Seksualiti Merdeka 2011 programme which was scheduled to be launched on Wednesday and end on Nov 13 at Central Market’s Annexe Gallery, had been a yearly festival since 2008 advocating freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, intersexuals and transgenders.

Last woman held under ISA freed

The Star

KAMUNTING: The last female detainee under the Internal Security Act (ISA) has been released from the Kamunting detention centre here.

The 48-year-old former shipping clerk, who was detained for suspicion of human trafficking in April, tried hard to hold back tears as she spoke to reporters yesterday after spending 217 days in detention.

“Please do not name me or put my photograph in the newspapers. I want to protect my family. I have repented and just want to start anew. I want to forget about all this and move on,” she pleaded.

The mother of two said she was looking forward to going home to her children.

“I am going to get a job and start a new life,” she said.

The woman’s release comes three months after eight Immigration officers were released from detention under the ISA for their alleged involvement in human trafficking at the KLIA/LCCT around October last year.

The centre’s Assistant Com­missioner, Mohd Roslen Ramli, said the woman was being released due to the Government’s initiative to abolish the ISA.

Indian court convicts 31 over Gujarat riots

Hindu defendants handed life sentences over killings of 33 Muslims during 2002 sectarian riots.
 Narendra Modi has denied allegations by rights groups that he tacitly supported the rioters [Reuters]

A court in India has sentenced 31 people to life in prison over the killings of 33 Muslims in a single house during severe sectarian riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002.

The 31 defendants, all Hindus, were found guilty of murder, attempted murder, arson, rioting and criminal conspiracy after the victims were burned alive in the building.

"Out of the 73 accused, 31 are guilty and 42 are acquitted of all charges," judge SC Srivastava told the special court near Sardarpura village, where the 33 Muslims sought shelter in a small house on the night of February 28, 2002.

The victims had crowded into the house to escape the rioters, who set the building alight. Authorities uncovered 28 bodies at the scene, with five others dying later of their injuries.

During the violence in the western state of Gujarat, witnesses said baying Hindu mobs surrounded and raped Muslim women, then poured kerosene down their throats and on their children and threw lit matches at them.

Wednesday's verdicts followed earlier convictions over riot-related violence.

In some of India's worst inter-faith clashes since independence in 1947, about 2,000 people died in a wave of anti-Muslim unrest triggered by a train fire in which 60 Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive.

The case is one of nine trials being held in India in connection with the violence following the train fire, and is one of the first in which convictions have been secured.

The Hindu pilgrims on the train were returning from the town of Ayodhya, another flashpoint for religious unrest after a mosque was destroyed in 1992 by Hindus, leading to separate riots that killed thousands of people, mostly Muslims.

Dispute over responsibility

Wednesday's verdicts, which come after years of accusations that authorities dragged their heels in prosecuting Hindus, split activists campaigning for justice.

"This is the first time in 60 years that so many people have been convicted in a case of communal violence," Teesta Setelvad, secretary of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) group, told the NDTV news channel.

US commission: Pakistan schools teach Hindu hatred

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Text books in Pakistani schools foster prejudice and intolerance of Hindus and other religious minorities, while most teachers view non-Muslims as "enemies of Islam," according to a study by a U.S. government commission released Wednesday.

The findings indicate how deeply ingrained hardline Islam is in Pakistan and help explain why militancy is often supported, tolerated or excused in the country.

"Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security," said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Pakistan was created in 1947 as a homeland for the Muslims of South Asia and was initially envisaged as a moderate state where minorities would have full rights. But three wars with mostly Hindu India; state support for militants fighting Soviet-rule in Afghanistan in the 1980s; and the appeasement of hardline clerics by weak governments seeking legitimacy have led to a steady radicalization of society.

Religious minorities and those brave enough to speak out against intolerance have often been killed, seemingly with impunity, by militant sympathizers. The commission warned that any significant efforts to combat religious discrimination, especially in education, would "likely face strong opposition" from hardliners.

The study reviewed more than 100 textbooks from grades 1-10 from Pakistan's four provinces. Researchers in February this year visited 37 public schools, interviewing 277 students and teachers, and 19 madrases, where they interviewed 226 students and teachers.

The Islamization of textbooks began under the U.S.-backed rule of army dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who courted Islamists to support his rule. In 2006, the government announced plans to reform the curriculum to address the problematic content, but that has not been done, the study said.

Pakistan's Islamist and right-wing polity would likely oppose any efforts to change the curriculum, and the government has shown no desire to challenge them on the issue.

The report found systematic negative portrayals of minorities, especially Hindus and, to a lesser extent, Christians. Hindus make up more than 1 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people, while Christians represent around 2 percent. Some estimates put the numbers higher.

There are also even smaller populations of Sikhs and Buddhists.

"Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful," the report said. "Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu."

The books don't contain many specific references to Christians, but those that "that do exist seem generally negative, painting an incomplete picture of the largest religious minority in Pakistan," the report said.

Attempts to reach Pakistan's education minister were not successful.

The textbooks make very little reference to the role played by Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in the cultural, military and civic life of Pakistan, meaning a "a young minority student will thus not find many examples of educated religious minorities in their own textbooks," the report said.

"In most cases historic revisionism seems designed to exonerate or glorify Islamic civilization, or to denigrate the civilizations of religious minorities," the report said. "Basic changes to the texts would be needed to present a history free of false or unsubstantiated claims which convey religious bias."

The researchers also found that the books foster a sense that Pakistan's Islamic identity is under constant threat.

"The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world," read one passage from a social studies text being taught to Grade 4 students in Punjab province, the country's most populated. "This can cause danger for the very existence of Islam. Today, the defense of Pakistan and Islam is very much in need."

The report states that Islamic teachings and references were commonplace in compulsory text books, not just religious ones, meaning Pakistan's Christians, Hindus and other minorities were being taught Islamic content. It said this appeared to violate Pakistan's constitution, which states that students should not have to receive instruction in a religion other than their own.

The attitudes of the teachers no doubt reflect the general intolerance in Pakistan — a 2011 Pew Research Center study found the country the third most intolerant in the world — but because of the influence they have, they are especially worrisome.

Their views were frequently nuanced and sometimes contradictory, according to the study. While many advocated respectful treatment of religious minorities, this was conditional upon the attitudes of the minorities, "which appeared to be in question," the report said. The desire to proselytize was cited as one of the main motivations for kind treatment.

According to the study, more than half the public school teachers acknowledged the citizenship of religious minorities, but a majority expressed the opinion that religious minorities must not be allowed to hold positions of power, in order to protect Pakistan and Muslims. While many expressed the importance of respecting the practices of religious minorities, simultaneously 80 percent of teachers viewed non-Muslims, in some form or another, as "enemies of Islam."

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Malacca to amend laws to prosecute homosexuals

ALOR GAJAH: Malacca will amend its state Islamic enactment to prosecute gays and lesbians by applying the same type of Syariah legal mechanism used against deviant Muslim sects.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said homosexuals and lesbians could be tried at the Syariah Court once the enactment was gazetted as Syariah law.

“We will revise the current enactment to specifically deal with homosexuals and lesbians in the state, including groups that promote such uncanny sex,” he said here yesterday.

Mohd Ali, who is also Malacca Islamic Religious Department chairman, said the enactment had to be revised as there was no specific law at present to prosecute such groups.

“We will suggest the enactment to also cover bisexuals and transsexuals,” he said, adding that action could also be taken against any non-governmental organisation promoting and supporting such sexual practices.

“We don't want such unsavoury culture creeping in and damaging the moral fabric of our society,” Mohd Ali said.

Separately, he called on Sisters in Islam to drop the word “Islam” from its name as he claimed the NGO had been frequently issuing contradicting and confusing statements on Islam.

A wretched lot in Najib’s Pekan

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is Pekan MP yet little has come by way of help for impoverished families and malnourished children in its Orang Asli settlements.
Muffled strains of a pop song from a beat-up transistor radio with a missing aerial sets the Orang Asli children bobbing their head to the rhythm.

Someone sings a native tune and switches stations to accommodate a more traditional repertoire.

And just as quickly the children switch to playing catch with each other, fighting good-naturedly over balloons, their cheerful laughter carried along by the cool breeze. A bucolic setting indeed for any poet or artist.

But this is not the truth of what life really is like in this Orang Asli settlement. The reality pales in comparison to the poetic setting.

To say that the Orang Asli community in Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s Pekan constituency is impoverished, would be putting it mildly.

The typical scene that greets a visitor to the Orang Asli settlement in Pekan or for that matter any one of the numerous aboriginal settlements that litter Pahang will reveal dilapidated houses with flimsy floors and spartan interiors.

In these villagers, hungry and malnourished children are a norm and their audibly growling bellies often bite into the stillness of the long afternoons.

The Orang Asli village in Pekan, Pahang, is one of the many forgotten settlements around the country.
So don’t expect an eco-tour should a visit be organised as there is nothing pretty about what awaits.

Undernourished children

In one village, there stood three rickety shacks on stilts shaded by a few rubber trees.

The lalang here was taller than most of the children whose growth is stunted due to lack of nourishment and proper healthcare.

One five-year-old child who looked like she was only 24 months had such a bad case of worms that they were crawling out of her nose.

She was administered with medication by some volunteers but because the infection was so severe, recovery is expected to take a while.

Her brother too suffers the same fate. This has resulted in both of them experiencing laboured breathing. They are unable to run as freely as other children.

For now, they sit on the sandy ground clutching at donated toys and balloons and watch other children jump, sprint and leap over fallen branches in a game of catch.

For the record, healthcare for many of the Orang Asli villagers, who live off-the-beaten track, means the ubiquitous panadol, the tiny black pills known as “pil chi kit” for tummy aches, medicated plasters and only if they really need it – cough mixture.

If they run out of these “medications”, or basic necessities, they will have to walk five kilometres from their shacks to the mainroad.

From there, they either take the bus or hitch a ride to get to the nearest town.

No rights over land

Logging, legal or otherwise, and forest clearing for oil palm plantation and development has forced the Orang Asli community to keep moving deeper into the jungle.

The deeper they go into the jungle, the more difficult it gets for them to secure food, medications and other basic items.

A report found online states: “Under British colonial rule, Malay reservations were given to the Malays, while the Orang Asli were confined to Sakai reservations.

“By 1913 Malays were given the right to own and lease property within their reservations, but the Orang Asli were not granted the same privilege.

As of 2006, there are an estimated 1,49,723 Orang Asli indigenous people in West Malaysia. They collectively occupy and toil on about 1,38,862.2 hectares of land.”

But unfortunately for the Orang Asli, the government does not recognise them as lawful owners of the lands.

The government maintains the position that the Orang Asli have no rights to the land which they occupy.

Biased law

One other report on the condition of the Orang Asli mentioned: “The government sees them only as tenants on the lands which the authorities may at any time seize or take under its control by providing compensation for the loss of whatever is grown on the land under Section 12 of the Aboriginal People’s Act of 1954.”

Look closely at Section 12 of the Act which provides that “if any land is excised from any aboriginal area or aboriginal reserve or if any land in any aboriginal area is alienated, granted, leased for any purpose or otherwise disposed of, or if any right or privilege in any aboriginal area or aboriginal reserve granted to any aborigine or aboriginal community is revoked wholly or in part, the State Authority may grant compensation therefore and may pay such compensation to the persons entitled in his opinion thereto or may, if he thinks fit, pay the same to the Director-General to be held by him as a common fund for such persons or for such aboriginal community as shall be directed, and to be administered in such manner as may be prescribed by the Minister.”

According to an Orang Asli from the Pekan settlement, the Act has led to the “systematic discrimination” of the Orang Asli communities in the peninsula.

“We are so tired of this and just want to be treated fairly to cook with clean water and to make sure that our children will be able to enjoy a less normadic upbringing.

“Under this Act, indigenous Orang Asli have been victims of systematic discrimination and forcible evictions by the state and private companies,” he said.

This is perhaps long-forgotten or maybe not even known but in 1995, the Selangor government forcibly acquired 38 acres of land belonging to 23 families from the indigenous Temuan tribe for the construction of the Nilai-Banting highway linking with the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

It has been reported that their dwelling houses and plantations of oil palm, rubber and fruit trees were indiscriminately destroyed.

Uncertainty over legal recourse

The eviction was done in haste so as to complete the highway project in time for the 1998 Commonwealth Games held in Kuala Lumpur.

The displaced Temuan tribes were given nominal compensation only for trees, fruits, crops and houses in accordance with Section 12 of the Aboriginal People’s Act of 1954.

There is this case of Sagong Bin Tasi and six other affected Temuan Orang Asli who filed a case against the Selangor government, United Engineers Malaysia, Malaysian Highway Authority, and federal government of Malaysia.

It is stated that on April 12, 2002, the Shah Alam High Court ruled that the land belonged to the Orang Asli because it was their customary and ancestral land.

The High Court ordered the Selangor government to pay compensation for the land in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act 1960, and also ordered United Engineers Malaysia and Malaysian Highway Authority to pay damages for trespassing.

A newspaper reported: “The four defendants – the Selangor state government, United Engineers Malaysia, Malaysian Highway Authority, and federal government of Malaysia – have now challenged the judgment of the Court of Appeal before the Federal Court. Since then, the hearing has been postponed a few times.

“When the hearing resumed on April 27, 2006, senior federal counsel Mary Lim told the Federal Court that the Orang Asli ‘have customary rights over items on the land, but not the land itself”, and therefore they would only be compensated for the loss of their fruit trees, crops and houses, if and when the government needed to acquire their land.

Lim also submitted that prior to the tribe residing in Kampung Bukit Tampoi in Dengkil (they’ve living there for about 210 years) the land belonged to the Selangor Sultanate.”

So they could not have held a native or customary title to it.

Living in fear

If the Orang Asli are to be denied their land rights, this would mean that protection doesn’t exist for them under the common laws such as the Land Acquisition Act of 1960 and the Federal Constitution.

It does not end here. If this is allowed to happen, it also will mean that they will not be on par with other citizens of Malaysia and that the Aboriginal People’s Act of 1954 will prevail over the Federal Constitution and their rights under the constitution will be extinguished.

Pakcik Samoi, a member of the Jakun tribe, has lived in the Pekan area for the last 10 years and had to move several times.

Each time this happened, he and his family had to take apart their house, piece by piece, and frame it back together.

“I don’t know how long we’ll be able to stay here. Sometimes, when we hear heavy machinery approaching, we just make a run for it and scatter because we think they are going to destroy our homes.

“When we come back and see that we still have out houses, we are relieved, but at the same time it wreaks havoc on our peace of mind.

“We don’t know when they’ll come and do it for real. And when this happens, we don’t have any place to go.
“But I will say this much. If they were to tear down our houses, we will rebuild. After so many years of this happening to us, if there is one thing we know how to do well, it is to survive.

‘But it will be nice to be given the same rights and opportunities as the rest. I hope that I will be able to see this happening in my lifetime, eh?”

He asks this while looking at his wife who proffers a thin and pained smile for the optimistic benefit of her visitors.

‘Investigate death threat against Hindraf leader’

Hindraf Makkal Sakti wants the Home Ministry to direct the police to look into the death threat.

GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti wants the Home Ministry to investigate the email death threat against its leader P Waythamoorthy .

Hindraf national coordinator W Sambulingam said the Home Ministry should issue directives to its law enforcement agencies, especially the police, to probe into the case immediately.

“Death threat to a person is not a negligible issue. The government has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it,” Sambulingam told FMT here today.

London-based Waythamoorthy and his family received the email death threat via email on Saturday ahead of his briefing to US government officials on issues of institutionalised racism and freedom of religion in Malaysia.

In the email, the sender has threatened to behead and kill Waythamoorthy, his elder brother, Human Rights Party secretary-general Uthayakumar, and their children.

The sender claiming to be ‘Hanif Haja’, the youth wing chief of Pekida, abused both brothers with racist remarks and threatened to teach them a lesson soon.

Sambulingam said Hindraf detractors should have the intellectual capacity to engage in a constructive argument with Waythamoorthy rather than cowardly resorting to violence and death threats.

Waythamoorthy, presently in the US, is contemplating to lodge a report at Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over the death threat as advised by his friends in the US.

Yesterday he briefed the American Congress’ Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) in Washington on issues of institutionalised racism and freedom of religion in Malaysia.

Today he is to brief some representatives of the US State department and Tom Lantos Human Rights Commisssion (HRC).

Sambulingam also expressed surprise over the country’s so-called civil society groups’ deafening silence on the death threat to Waythamoorthy and family.

“The threat is a serious violation of human rights and civil liberty.The groups should have raised their voice for a human rights fighter who is not a political opportunist like many others,” insisted Sambulingam.

Guns trained on Indian student group’s chief

Apparently someone in the Prime Minister's Office is not pleased with Mahaganapathy Das and wants him out of the way.
PETALING JAYA: Just three months after its launch, the 1Malaysia Indian Student Movement (1MISM) seems to be undergoing a leadership problem with its president Mahaganapathy Dass asked to go on leave until the 1MISM’s annual general meeting.

The move to oust the 1MISM president, sources reveal, was allegedly spearheaded by its vice-president Shamrat Sen Gupta, vice-president II Kamalan Rajagopalu, assistant secretary-general Ranes Subramaniam and executive council member Thanaselan Rajendran.

Kamalan is the son of Negeri Sembilan MIC chief T Rajagopalu while Thanaselan is the special assistant to Prime Minister’s Special Officer Ravin Ponniah.

“But we believe that the orders to ask the president to go on leave came from the outside…it is political in nature. Sad to say but the move started from the Prime Minister’s Office,” said a reliable source who did not want to be named.

The movement was launched by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on July 28, this year. At the launch, Najib announced that all public universities would make changes to the semester schedules to allow Indian students to celebrate the just concluded Deepavali celebrations.

At the event, the Barisan Nasional chief had also announced that vegetarian food would be made available in all universities, while bus services would be provided for all Hindu university students who want to go to temples on Friday evenings.

The announcements, was seen by political observers, as a move by Najib to attract Indian youth, mainly students.

“These so-called important measures had also strengthened 1MISM’s standing… equalling it to the strong Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung better known as GPMS,” said the source.

The source also claimed that Mahaganapathy’s unsigned “leave” letter originated from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“He is now being asked to sign his leave letter. He is being put under pressure to sign it because someone from the Prime Minister’s Office feels that they cannot work with him.

“Mahaganapathy was not doing what he was told. He had become a hindrance to their agenda which is to make 1MISM as strong as GPMS. Once 1MISM is strong then they can ask for grants and such, directly from the PM’s office,” said the source.

Mahaganapathy, it is learnt, was asked to cite “extreme study pressure and other personal commitments” as the reason for his leave.

The purported leave letter also relieves Mahaganapathy of all executive powers as president of the movement, including signing of cheques.

“The letter also states that Mahaganapathy would surrender all correspondence and letterheads and all other relevant documents in his possession,” said the source.

Mahaganapathy: Not true

Mahaganapathy however denied that he was being forced out of 1MISM.

“This is not true. I have not signed any leave letter and I am still the president of 1MISM.

“We are presently busy recruiting new members and everything is fine with the movement,” he added.
He also said that it was true that he was busy with his studies but nevertheless he was still able to lead 1MISM.

1MISM was established to protect the rights and welfare of Indian university students. It has about 7,000 members from higher education institutions around the country.

Irrational fear abounds

Prejudice and discrimination, both rooted in fear of the unknown, can always be dispelled with better knowledge, at least in those willing to learn.

It is also clear that very often those who steadfastly refuse to eliminate their prejudices do so because they think it is politically profitable to them. The loudest Islamophobes always seem to be politicians trying to win the populist vote. And the only way they maintain those votes is by keeping people ignorant. Hence, their refusal to engage at all with Muslims. 

By Marina Mahathir, The Star  

TEN years ago the world turned a decidedly nastier place for Muslims. Although Islamo­phobia already existed before Sept 11, the events that day ratcheted it up several notches. Suddenly Muslims in the United States and all over the world found themselves under intense scrutiny, much of it hostile.

Stereotypes abounded. Although Islam is a religion of peace, all Muslims were branded terrorists, undemocratic, violent, oppressors of women.

The only images seen in the media were of angry bearded men wielding weapons and shouting threats to the West. Only Muslim women covered head to toe in dour black, were seen. It did not help that some Muslims themselves provided fodder for these images.

Tales of aggression against Mus­lims abounded. Headscarves were pulled off, insults hurled and, at airports, anyone with the slightest tinge of an Arabic name was pulled out for special inspection. Some people suffered even more violence, resulting in injury and even death.

Sometimes entirely wrong people became victims of the prejudice. A Sikh man got shot because he wore a turban, a bunch of Orthodox Jewish rabbis were pulled off a plane because they were praying in a language other passengers didn’t understand.

Fear ruled and with it came prejudice and discrimination, much of it fuelled by the media. Most of it stemmed from ignorance about the world of Islam, which is not only large but also diverse.

A Muslim in the Middle East is culturally different from a Muslim in Asia, but that was not appreciated in much of the West. Indeed Middle Eastern Muslims comprise only 15% of the entire Muslim world. Further­more there are many Western Muslims who look and act no different from their fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq only angered Muslims, who then reacted in ways that ingrained the stereotypes about them.

The early post-Sept 11 Islamo­phobic madness only lessened when much better information and knowledge about Islam and Muslims became available. This took two forms.

One, many Muslims took it upon themselves to educate non-Muslims about Islam, and in particular reached out to other faith communities to talk about their commonalities, rather than differences.

And two, thousands of students flocked to universities to learn more about Islam. Both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars of Islam did much to teach students about the real religion, rather than the one perpetuated by the media.

Ten years later, although it cannot be said that Islamophobia has disappeared, Western perspectives on Islam have become more measured and based on better knowledge. One of the biggest boosts to the image of Islam and Muslims has been the Arab Spring.

Suddenly the images of Muslims were young, modern, and protesting not about the West but about their own corrupt leaders. Although they did not explicitly talk about religion, in 2011 the Middle East became associated with the yearning for freedom and democracy, one not too different from what developed countries enjoyed.

Women were seen at the forefront of the revolution, both head-scarved and not, and changed the image of the oppressed Muslim woman.

It just goes to show that prejudice and discrimination, both rooted in fear of the unknown, can always be dispelled with better knowledge, at least in those willing to learn. There are of course many who simply refuse to open their hearts and minds to such enlightenment, but progress has been made in incremental steps.

It is also clear that very often those who steadfastly refuse to eliminate their prejudices do so because they think it is politically profitable to them. The loudest Islamophobes always seem to be politicians trying to win the populist vote. And the only way they maintain those votes is by keeping people ignorant. Hence, their refusal to engage at all with Muslims.

Every phobia about groups of people who are different from us works in the same way. They rely on stereotypes and on the fear that allowing these minority people the same basic rights as others would mean that they would demand more.

Thus, although no Muslim ever asked for it, some people in the US insist that there are plans to impose syariah law there. The media stokes the hysteria and stigmatisation. Unjust accusations and calls for depriving them of citizenship becomes the norm.

Although those baying for blood are small in number, they still make innocent people suffer. People who have never harmed anyone else suffer distrust and hostility from their former neighbours. Violence against them is justified, sometimes with religious backing. The entire atmosphere is poisoned by hate.

This past week, where some people seem to be proudly picking on the powerless, has reminded me of that Islamophobic hysteria. I fear for our country and where we are heading.

Corporate Malaysia has failed — Nawawi Mohamad

NOV 9 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was a visionary leader who forcefully guided Malaysia’s development by corporate nationalism to achieve the status of a developed nation by 2020.

He made great achievements based on the benchmarks and milestones but was also hampered with some failures, but still the situation had not been that bad; there was still light at the end of the tunnel and remains in effect to the end of his term in office.

Unfortunately the success story stops here and the derailment began. Abdullah Badawi was not able to fill the shoes of Dr Mahathir. Abdullah Badawi was lost in his own world, without any real grasp of what was going on in the country economically, financially, socially and politically.

He pushed everything to the “fourth floor goons” led by his son-in-law to manage the country.

A classic example of his reply on the RM150 million owed by Osu Sukam to one of the casinos in the UK, whereby just by referring to some newspaper articles Abdullah made a knee-jerk condemnation of the former Sabah chief minister, without considering the political impact and the integrity of the BN government.

Abdullah is neither a real politician nor a leader to lead the nation. He was just a caretaker and a lousy one too.

Dr Mahathir was already furious when Abdullah scrapped the crooked bridge project resulting in the government having to pay roughly RM115 million compensation to the concessionaire and concluded that Abdullah was not only unfit for the post.

Meanwhile, the economy was getting stagnant, yet the cost of everything rose and the government simply could not make ends meet. When Najib Razak took over, he had no choice but to borrow.

The government had borrowed before but this time was out of desperation.

Thus our national debt is now more than RM407 billion (2010 figure). The problem with Najib is that he has too much in his hands. He has his personal scandals, wastages and extravagance, his brothers’ issues, his wife meddling in running the country, her extravagance, and lately, his own son is also in the news pertaining to one timber company.

Everything he proposed and tried to execute, just did not work as planned. The problems are further aggravated by the scandals of Khir Toyo, Sodomy II, Bersih 2.0, MACC deaths, police brutality and incompetence, the deterioration of Umno, the doom of Gerakan, MIC and possibly MCA, the RM407 national debt, and the Auditor-General’s report on the callous government spending in 2010 that ended up in the opening of the Pandora box!

In short, Najib has not been able to focus on the management, development, economy and financial health of the country. I need not write the details here as you can find the information from the recent book by Sahbudin Husin.

We have already been informed of the RM6 billion loan by the EPF to Felda (which has not enough money) and Petronas has to issue bonds for development capital. The next train for another disastrous derailment has already begun with continued borrowing and overspending.

It seems that the Umno/BN will eventually have to beg make ends meet. Corporate Malaysia in going bankrupt.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication, and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Many Still Clueless Over Tengku Razaleigh's Amanah

By Alan Ting

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 (Bernama) -- Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's decision to become president of a civil society non-governmental organisation (NGO), Angkatan Amanah Merdeka or Amanah, has left many politicians, as well as political analysts, guessing.

Why would he join an NGO? What is his agenda, especially when he is still regarded as a veteran Umno leader and member of parliament (MP) for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN)?

"What is the purpose of such an NGO? What is their next move? No MP wants to form an NGO without an agenda. He has something up his sleeve," noted MCA veteran politican Datuk Yap Pian Hon, who is also Selangor BN publicity chief.

Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) believed that the politicians behind Amanah, who described themselves as a minority group, might aspire to be the catalyst for the so-called 'third force' within BN.

Maybe, he said, they needed a platform to comment on current issues as most of their leaders had been in the government previously.

Tengku Razaleigh, or Ku Li as he is affectionately known, had served as finance minister while Amanah's deputy presidents are Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat (former MCA president and former transport minister), Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir (former tourism/former information minister) and Datuk S. Subramaniam, a former deputy minister.

The academician said it remained to be seen whether Amanah could influence voting patterns in the next general election.

Personally, he did not think that they could but if they could get their act right, they might become a force to be reckoned with.

Some political pundits believe that Ku Li might be posturing himself for a bargaining position: by being at Amanah, he could have the best position to get the best deal from both political divides.

For example, they said that this was especially against the backdrop of the possibility of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto Opposition chief, being convicted of a sodomy charge and thrown into jail.

Anwar's wife and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is not eligible to contest for a period of five years after she had resigned as Permatang Pauh MP to pave the way for Anwar to win the seat in a by-election.

Some analysts feel that Tengku Razaleigh could emerge as the likely candidate to lead the Opposition if Anwar was left out in the cold.

But DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had openly said that Anwar remained the Opposition troika's choice candidate for prime minister even if he ended up in prison.

"There is no talk at all (for Tengku Razaleigh to be the Opposition's choice for prime minister). We don't know the political stand of Ku Li," said DAP CEC member Jeff Ooi.

"He can't take a (quick) helicopter ride (to the top). We (the opposition pact of PKR-DAP-PAS) have gone all out to create an alternative front. If he wants to join us, we will not reject him outright but the fact is that for us, he is merely of a princely stature."

Ooi does not think that Amanah's leaders could pose any direct challenge to the Opposition as he believes that most of them are from a "bygone era" and currently lack pulling power.

"Take Tengku Razaleigh, for example. He is an outsider to Umno and outsider to PR (Pakatan Rakyat). He is only in his own league. There is no collateral damage to us," he said, adding that the Kelantan prince's move to head Amanah had only drawn some attention.

So, what is Amanah's gameplan? Tengku Razaleigh is still non-commital and fuzzy about plans.

At a press conference today, to announce that the Registrar of Societies had approved Amanah's establishment, he said, although Amanah would remain an NGO in the near future, he did not rule out the possibility of it becoming politically active.

"It is up to the members...I'm not saying 'yes' or 'no' because it depends on the members. You cannot write off anything because the possibilities are there," he said.

When asked on his role in the next election, Tengku Razaleigh kept everyone guessing by saying that it would be very difficult to say what he was going to do next.