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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nizar’s sixth sense and Shahrizat’s bra

Selangor Umno delegate Habibah Mohd Yusuf says the ex-Perak MB was making claims that Shahrizat wears bras worth RM26,000.

KUALA LUMPUR: The value of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s undergarments was a hot topic at the ongoing Umno Wanita meeting this morning with a delegate from Selangor accusing a PAS leader of discussing the wing leader’s alleged penchant for expensive bras.

Selangor Umno delegate Habibah Mohd Yusof had the delegates in stitches when she said PAS’ Bukit Gantang MP Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin was making claims that Shahrizat wears bras worth RM26,000.

“He claimed in a ceramah in Trong, Perak, recently that Shahrizat uses bras worth RM26,000,” Habibah said when delivering her motion to support Shahrizat’s speech as the first delegate at the women wing’s assembly this morning in Dewan Tun Dr Ismail, Putra World Trade Centre.

She said the former Perak menteri besar Nizar, who is also the Pasir Panjang state rep, was attempting to smear the good name of the Wanita wing.

She added that the opposition had resorted to such low tricks as they were afraid of the Umno women’s influence in getting the voters in the coming general election.

“Perhaps he has a sixth sense to be able to see what our leaders wears. Perhaps he also has an eye for her,” said Habibah.

LAWASIA Concern at Malaysian Peaceful Assembly Bill

ImageLAWASIA, the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific, joins its voice with that of its member organisation, the Malaysian Bar, and other members of Malaysian civil society in recording its objection to and alarm at the content of the Peaceful Assembly Bill (the Bill) tabled in the Malaysian Parliament on 22 November 2011 for first reading.

It expresses its particular concern at the haste with which this legislation is set to move through Parliament, with the second reading beginning only two days after the first reading, allowing little time for members of Parliament to familiarise themselves with what are contentious restrictions on freedom of assembly, and with no time to seek public consultation.

Aspects of the Bill appear to be in direct or indirect contravention of human rights norms, established through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which at Article 20 (1) declares that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association

and which principle is entrenched in other international and regional instruments.

LAWASIA finds particularly objectionable the constraints and severe restrictions that the Peaceful Assembly Bill places on activities and aspects that are otherwise acceptable in civilised countries. Among others, these include the prohibition of street protests, the age restrictions on who may organise and attend an assembly, and the onerous procedures required to seek permission to hold an assembly.

Further, the powers that are provided to the police to determine practical aspects of an assembly and to exercise force in dispersing an illegal assembly not only constrain considerably a universally-accepted civil liberty but also lack the definition that would safeguard members of the public from the excessive misuse of such powers.

It is noted that members of the Malaysian Bar marched peacefully to Parliament to present their alternative draft Bill to the Deputy Minister for Law and to the Leader of the Opposition on 29 November. This occurred in the presence of a counter demonstration and with only minimal notice provided to police, who handled the situation well. It is significant that this occurred without threat to public order or safety as an illustration that the right to peaceful freedom of assembly by way of street march can be exercised in Malaysia without the excessive restriction that the Peaceful Assembly Bill proposes.

Malathi Das
November 30, 2011

Outlawing and in-laws: 2 sisters killed ‘for not conceiving’

“Both women’s throats had been cut and their bodies bore multiple stab wounds,” said Allied Hospital Dr Mubarak Shah.

Two sisters were allegedly murdered by their in-laws over a domestic dispute in the Pir Mehal police station precincts on Saturday.

According to police officials, Khursheed Bibi, 25, and her sister Asma, 24, were married to Chak No 700/42 residents Sajid and his brother Muhammad Saeed one and half year ago. Neighbours told police officials that the in-laws of both girls began torturing them after they both failed to conceive for over a year.

“They threatened to send them both back to their parents and even threatened their lives,” said a neighbour Rehan Alvi. Alvi told police officials, that the couples had been married according to the consent of village elders and that both families were poor.

Saeed is a motorcycle mechanic based in Rawalpindi, while Sajid is a salesman in a local bakery in Rawalpindi. The brother of the deceased girls, Muhammad Javaid told police that his sisters had been murdered by their in-laws because neither of them had conceived a child. “They were living in a joint family system and both their husbands were often in Rawalpindi and only visited once a month,” he said.

According to police officials, Khurshid Bibi and Asma Bibi’s bodies were found in a mutilated state on Saturday evening. “Both women’s throats had been cut and their bodies bore multiple stab wounds,” said Allied Hospital Dr Mubarak Shah.

Locals in the village complained, saying that they had informed the police of the incident but that the police team arrived late. “It took them 4 hours to arrive at the scene and by then two of the accused had already fled,” said a neighbour.

Police officials have registered a case against Muhammad Siddique, father in-law of the deceased, his sons Muhammad Qasim, Muhammad Usman and daughter in-law Yasmeen under Sections 302, 148/149 of the Pakistan Penal Code and started an investigation.

SHO Pir Mehal Ilyas Sahi told The Express Tribune that all the accused nominated in the FIR were arrested on Sunday. “We have also recovered blood samples from the scene and have found the murder weapons,” he said. Sahi said that the police were still waiting on an autopsy report to confirm the charges.“The accused will be presented before the court for physical remand on Saturday,” he said. 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2011.

Muhyiddin uses race card, urges Malays to reject Pakatan

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin exploited the race card tonight when he urged Umno to defend the Malay race, culture and institutions from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Hitting out at the DAP in particular, he accused the PR party of being an anti-Islam and anti-Malay force.

Muhyiddin (picture) also dismissed PKR as a spent force interested only in championing the cause of one
 man, and PAS as a party that had shed its Islamic ideology to please the DAP.

“(The DAP) do not respect royal institutions, insult government officers who are mostly Malay, slander our armed forces with insults, dispute our enforcement institutes, dismiss the credibility of our justice system and make a fool out of the Malays to gain power for themselves,” he said when opening Umno’s Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings’ annual general assemblies here.

“DAP’s agenda to form a republic by dismissing values, history and identity of Malaysia as a nation based on sovereignty and Islam as the official religion is evident,” he added.

“If not, do they dare suggest the prime minister’s position be selected based solely on elections and without being chosen by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong? What is the meaning of this?”

Speaking to about 4,000 delegates from the Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings, Muhyiddin called PKR an ultraliberal party lacking moral values for electing a leader with a credibility crisis to head the party.

“They preach values that are against our culture in the name of freedom,” he said.

“Although one facet in PKR preaches religion and another preaches ultraliberalism, they have only one goal — to defend their leader.”

He pointed out that PAS has lost its way by placing both PKR and the DAP’s agendas before its own.

“It is clear the political tsunami during the last general election has drowned out the Islamic state ideology from PAS’s political lexicon,” he said, prompting laughter.

Assuring the crowd that Umno has risen from the political tsunami of 2008, Muhyiddin urged delegates to unite and strive to defend religion, race and country.

“Umno has shown its commitment by uniting people of all races... We shall not stir hatred with other races. We shall not insult other races. We shall not be prejudiced towards other cultures. We are not racist like DAP’,” he said.

Anti-gay group marches against Bar Council

A group of anti-gay protesters also showed up in the march to Parliament but they were directing their anger at the lawyers.

KUALA LUMPUR: An anti-Seksualiti Merdeka group marched to Parliament in opposition to gay rights, just as the Bar Council members gathered to protest the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011.

In what appeared to be a strange counter-protest, the 20-strong group marched opposite the Bar Council members, shouting anti-gay slogans.
“We are against free sex! We are against anal sex! We are Muslims, Allahukbar (God is great)!” they shouted at the lawyers while the two groups were walking on Jalan Parlimen.

One of them shouted “Balik India (Go back to India)!” at the lawyers.

Speaking to FMT, Gerakan Memartabatkan Pejuang Negara (GMPN) chairman Razali Zakaria claimed that the Bar Council was marching in support of “free sex”.

“The Bar Council’s gathering has elements of free sex. Gathering peacefully is one thing, but they (lawyers) are here because of free sex,” he said.

Majlis Ayahanda Malaysia spokesman Zulkifli Sharif said the lawyers had an ulterior motive in their opposition to the bill.

“We don’t like to see political agendas, which is what we’re seeing here. That gathering is illegal!” he said, pointing at the lawyers.

The group then claimed that the Bar Council had been carrying banners in support of gay rights and free sex.

Before the lawyers started their march at 12.15pm, a separate group of 20 Malay youths were seen holding these banners at the Lake Gardens.

Standing only metres away from the larger body of the lawyers, the group was seen wearing plain yellow T-shirts, holding banners which read: “Free Sex Gathering 2.0″ and “LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Gathering 2.0″

These banners also had the Seksualiti Merdeka logo printed on them.

When quizzed by reporters, many in the group hid their faces, shying from the cameras.

They also refused to speak to lawyers who asked the youths what they were doing there.

Najib: General election is yardstick to party's survival

By Noor Adzman Baharuddin, Mazlinda Mahmood and Azura Abas, NST

KUALA LUMPUR: Delegates to the 62th Umno general assembly have given party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak the full mandate to undertake the battle to face the upcoming 13th general election.

With cries of "Hidup BN" and "1Malaysia" resonating in the Merdeka Hall of Putra World Trade Centre, Najib secured delegates' support for the upcoming general election.

He sought the mandate when delivering the presidential message at a closed door briefing ahead of the assembly on Thursday.

The president's message is viewed as the party's most important message in view of its preparation for the upcoming 13th general election.

He also reminded the 5,000-odd delegates that the party's survival depends on its success in the next general election.

He said Umno has gone through the ups and downs since independence and it could emerge victorious if all party members and leaders at all levels do their bit for the party.

"Our success depends on what everyone at all levels especially the leaders can contribute to win the hearts and minds of the people," Najib who is also Prime Minister said during the two-hour session

He said party members and leaders at all levels must be selfless in serving the party and people.

"Love for the party is very important, retaining power as the government is also important.

"Don't sabotage if you are not chosen as the candidate and let's all learn from our past mistakes in order for Umno to excel and achieve greater heights," he said.

He also said a fair mix of young and old would be chosen as candidates from Umno in the next general election.

Stressing that, the candidates would be winnable ones, the Umno president said party members should leave the selection process to the party leadership.

He said all must sacrifice to ensure the success of the party, as the backbone of the ruling BN coalition.

He also said there was no need for anyone to try very hard to be selected as candidate and that even if any of them was a divison leader but is not a winnable candidate, he will not be chosen.

Priority will be given to leaders in the respective divisions. If there was none, an outsider will chosen and all must give their fullest support and ccoperation to ensure the victory of the chosen candidates," he said.

Najib said all party members must work extraordinarily hard to ensure a massive victory for Umno and BN.

"Umno and party members must rise to the occasion. Work and keep on working harder for the party and the country," he said.

The party president said winning the election would not be based on popular theories especially on picking an election date.

Najib said he did not hold on to any theory but only basing on facts.

"The facts are founded on two facts-what we have done to the people and what the opposition has done.

"If what we have done are agreeable and well accepted by the people, God willing our party will succeed," he said.

Najib also said choosing between party's dignity and one's own: "The party comes first."

Najib said party members and leaders must share with the people that they could only count on Umno and BN.

He said Umno members must work as a team and that Umno was still very relevant to the people.

"We must fight off all attacks by the opposition. Don't be defensive. We must also fight with facts.

"We must have only one team at all levels and we will find strength and victory in unity," he said.

A total of 5,447 delegates are attending this year's assembly. They comprise 2,627 from 191 Umno divisions, 944 Wanita, 942 Youth and 934 Puteri members. There are also 74 representatives from Umno overseas clubs.

A total of 58 foreign delegates from 20 countries, including six from the Communist Party of China, 11 from Mamafisoa Party of Madagascar, three from the Palestine Liberation Movement (Fatah) and two from the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (Coppal) will also attend the assembly.

Seventy-four Umno overseas clubs are also sending their representatives.

Malaysia's UMNO Scandals

How now, brown cow?
A new set threatens

For weeks, just in time for Malaysia’s United Malays National Organization’s annual general assembly which opened this week, the party has been embroiled in an embarrassing scandal involving a 2007 government decision to spend RM300 million (US$94.3 million)to establish a national feedlot corporation to slaughter as many as 60,000 cattle annually under Islamic halal dietary requirements.

The scandal seems emblematic of a long series of such situations that imperil Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s vow in April 2010 that the government "can no longer tolerate practices that support the behavior of rent-seeking and patronage, which have long tarnished the altruistic aims of the New Economic Policy.”

The National Feedlot Corporation, as it is known, has never slaughtered 10 percent of the projected total and has since scaled back its target to 8,000 head but hasn’t been able to meet that target either. Worse, the company has been losing millions of dollars every year – while pouring funds into an RM10 million condominium in Kuala Lumpur, among other things, and spending RM800,000 for overseas travel and entertainment.

The scandal is doubly embarrassing because the agreement to establish the National Feedlot Corporation, made when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister, went to the family of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the Minister of Women, Welfare and Community Development and head of the women’s wing of Umno. Her husband, Mohamad Salleh Ismail, is the chairman. Her three children are respectively the chief executive officer and executive directors of the company. None had any experience in cattle production or beef supply prior to the establishment of the company.

The report of the NFC’s operations was contained in the 2010 report of Malaysia’s Auditor General, which was delayed for weeks before it was finally released. The scandal has generated tensions inside UMNO, with some reformers demanding that Shahrizat be forced out of her job as minister. However, the leadership has circled the wagons to protect her. In particular, Muhyiddin Yassin, the deputy prime minister, has said there was no case to be brought against her. Muhyiddin was the agriculture minister in 2006 when the project was approved. Others who have come to her defense are Abdullah Badawi and his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, the head of the UMNO Youth Wing.

The National Feedlot scandal is said to have the potential reformers worried because party operatives thought they had the Selangor electorate turned around and that they could take the state back from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat in national elections expected to be called early next year. However, Asia Sentinel has been told, the refusal to hold anybody to account in the feedlot scandal could well turn the tide back against them, especially as other patronage scandals continue to bubble up.

The depth and breadth of the scandals also calls into question moves earlier this year with Najib launching a series of programs to develop bumiputera, or ethnic Malay companies, including allocating an RM2 billion fund for development. In the 2012 budget, Najib also announced the government would allocate RM200 million to guide 1,100 high-performing bumi companies with the potential for listing on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. Critics are concerned that the patronage system will continue unabated. The current UMNO general assembly was hoped to provide a dramatic backdrop for Najib to win back disaffected Malay voters.

For decades, this patronage has involved highway construction and defense contracts and a variety of other government arrangements with UMNO cronies in a plan formulated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. His ambition was to create a cadre of 100 super-rich bumis who in turn would help rural Malays into prosperity under a konsep payung, or umbrella concept routed through UMNO, much the way he envisioned driving the country into industrialization through massive projects. However, many of the companies eventually collapsed and are being supported by government institutions such as Kazanah Nasional, the country's sovereign investment fund, or the Employee Provident Fund.

Contained in the same 2010 auditor general’s report, for instance, is a passage on the decision to privatize a 77-km stretch of highway from Senai to Desaru on Peninsular Malaysia’s southeastern coast. The land acquisition turned out to have doubled, from RM385 million to RM740.6 million, with the road surface described as “undulating.” The project completion “was not in accordance with specifications, causing damage to the road surface and endangering road users.” The company failed to complete construction within the stipulated period of the contract. However, the construction agreement didn’t specify damages in the event it wasn’t completed. Required maintenance is described as “unsatisfactory.”

The company that won the RM1.7 billion contract is Ranhill Corp. Sdn Bhd., which has long been described as UMNO-linked. It is partly owned by Lambang Optimia Sdn. Bhd. Both are headed by Hamdan Mohamad, described as Malaysia’s “water baron,” who operates several utilities and power companies. He was one of several ethnic Malay businessmen who followed former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s vow to take Malaysian companies overseas. Another shareholder is YPJ Corp. Sdn Bhd., an arm of the Johor State Government, and yet another appears to be UMNO itself, which owns a minority share through an account at Public Bank Bhd., according to records. Ranhill has had a lackluster two to three years, capped by disaster earlier in 2011 when its Libyan operations were caught between the Muammar Qaddafi forces and those of the Libyan rebels aided by NATO air strikes.

Also, earlier this year, Deftech, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DRB-Hicom, won a contract without an open tender to produce and deliver 237 eight-wheeled armored personnel carriers to the Ministry of Defense. DRB-Hicom is 55 percent owned by Etika Strategi Sdn. Bd., which is wholly owned by billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al Bukairy, one of Mahathir’s targeted bumiputras and a man who is extremely tight with UMNO. Opposition member Tony Pua complained on the floor of Parliament that the average price of RM29.4 million for each unit compared unfavorably with a Portuguese Army purchase of 363 similar vehicles for the equivalent of RM4.4 million each from the Swiss MOWAG CmBH Corp, Malaysia is paying a 6.6-fold increase over the Portguese purchase. Saudi Arabia, he said, bought 724 such vehicles for the equivalent of RM9.9 million from General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, with Malaysia paying almost three times as much Government officials said the contracts don't compare with each other and that the government is getting more equipment, maintenance, etc. for its money.

“Further research has revealed that DRB-Hicom will be acquiring the AWC technology from a Turkish company – FNSS Defence Systems Inc which manufactures the Pars 8x8 AWV models,” Pua said. “With this deal, Malaysia will be its first foreign customer for this vehicle. What is perhaps of greater alarm is the fact that FNSS has announced that they have sold 257 units of Pars 8x8 AWVs to Malaysia for approximately US$600 million or RM1.83 billion or only RM7.1 million per unit,” Pua said in a prepared statement -- considerably different from what the Malaysians said they bought the vehicles for.

Pua also complained about the cost of six offshore patrol vessels from Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd at RM1 billion each in the aftermath of another total fiasco. The Auditor General, in a 2007 report tabled in Parliament, alleged that a contract to build naval vessels given to PSC-Naval Dockyard, a subsidiary of Penang Shipbuilding & Construction Sdn Bhd, which was owned by another UMNO crony, Amin Shah Omar Shah.

PSC-Naval Dockyard, which was taken over by Boustead, contracted to deliver six patrol boats for the Malaysian Navy in 2004 and complete the delivery in 2007. Those were supposed to be the first of 27 offshore vessels ultimately to cost RM24 billion plus the right to maintain and repair all of the country's naval craft. But only two of the barely operational patrol boats had been delivered by mid 2006. There were 298 recorded complaints about the two boats, which were also found to have 100 and 383 uncompleted items aboard them respectively.

The original RM5.35 billion contract ballooned to RM6.75 billion by January 2007. The auditor also reported that the ministry had paid out RM4.26 billion to PSC up to December 2006 although only Rm2.87 billion of work had been done, an overpayment of Rm1.39 billion, or 48 percent. In addition, Malaysia’s cabinet waived late penalties of Rm214 million. Between December 1999, according to the Auditor General, 14 “progress payments” amounting to Rm943 million despite the fact that the auditor general could find no payment vouchers or relevant documents dealing with the payments.

The auditor general attributed the failure to serious financial mismanagement and technical incompetence stemming from the fact that PSC had never built anything but trawlers or police boats before being given the contract. Once called “Malaysia’s Onassis” by Daim Zainuddin, Amin Shah was in trouble almost from the start, according to a report in Singapore’s Business Times in 2005.

Eventually Boustead PSC was born out of the Royal Malaysian Navy’s dockyard facilities which were to provide ship repairs and maintenance services. Under the corporatization program advocated by the Malaysian Government, the dockyard was set up as Limbungan TLDM, a wholly owned government company. It has modern facilities to meet the maintenance requirements of the Royal Malaysian Navy fleet, from hull repairs to major overhauls and from radar refitting to weapon systems refurbishment.

The six patrol boats have now cost five times what the Royal New Zealand Navy paid for its patrol vessels, bought at only RM210 each (NZ$90 million) from BAE Systems, the second largest global defense company.

The irrepressible Raja Petra Kamarudin in early November found that the Philippines was buying Hamilton-class patrol ships from the US that would be deployed to the West Philippine Sea area to secure the country’s natural resources. The latest one is to be transferred by the first or second quarter of next year, to guard energy projects in Malampaya off Palawan.

“Malaysia is going to buy six patrol boats at a total cost of RM6 billion or RM1 billion per patrol boat. Of course, Malaysia’s patrol boats are going to be far advanced and more sophisticated than those of the Philippines who paid only RM31.5 million for theirs,” he wrote. “The Philippines’s patrol boats can only patrol the waters. Malaysia’s patrol boats can…well…patrol the waters.”

MP Pakatan Keluar Dewan, Protes Akta Perhimpunan Aman

Ahli Parlimen Pakatan Rakyat keluar dewan rakyat beramai-ramai bagi membantah tindakan kerajaan yang enggan menarik balik Rang Undang-Undang Perhimpunan Aman yang dibahaskan hari ini.

Tindakan keluar dewan itu diketuai Ketua Pembangkang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Mereka juga membantah keputusan Yang dipertua Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia kerana hanya membenarkan ahli parlimen kanan pembangkang
untuk berbahas.

Ahli Parlimen Subang, R. Sivarasa berkata, Pakatan membuat keputusan berkenaan sebagai tanda protes, selepas menjangka rang undang-undang itu akan tetap diluluskan.

“Kita memilih tindakan keluar dewan kerana kita sudah menjangka akta ini akan diluluskan juga dengan mereka menggunakan undian majoriti.

“Malah Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz juga enggan memberi respon mengenai desakan kita agar rang undang-undang itu ditarik balik,” katanya ditemui selepas Ahli Parlimen Pakatan Rakyat keluar dewan hari ini.

Menurutnya, jika undian belah bahagi diadakan sekalipun, Pakatan Rakyat tidak mampu menghalang rang undang-undang itu dari diluluskan kerana majoriti dalam Dewan Rakyat ialah Ahli Parlimen BN.

Rang undang-undang itu dibahaskan Ketua Pembangkang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (KEADILAN-Permatang Pauh), Abdul Rahman Dahlan (BN-Kota Belud), Lim Guan Eng (Dap-Bagan), Abdul Hadi Awang (Pas-Marang), Ibrahim Ali (Bebas-Pasir Mas) dan P Kamalanathan (BN-Hulu Selangor).

Standing up to bullies — Jacob Sinnathamby

NOV 29 — It may sound simplistic but the choice before Malaysians in the coming general election boils down to either good or evil.

And we don’t have to fear evil because evil can never prevail against goodness. You do not have to take my word for this. Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein believed that they could rule forever with an iron fist. They subjugated their own people, threatened them, killed them and struck fear into their hearts with secret police.

But when their time came, they were hunted down like animals and treated with utter contempt, treated nothing more than common criminals. They will be remembered with contempt in history. Contrast that with meek and humble people like Gandhi, Mother Theresa and others who are remembered fondly because of the good works they did and because they carved goodness in the hearts of everyone they met.

These people may not have been rich, backed by the state apparatus or holding senior positions in government but they were men and women of virtue and had goodness in their hearts.

Contrast that with people like Ahmad Maslan, the Umno information chief who today sought to create more division in a country polarised along racial and religious lines. Contrast that also with the state-sponsored demonstrators who were allowed to disturb a peaceful march by lawyers who disagreed with the Peaceful Assembly Bill.

Ahmad Maslan speaks through both sides of his mouth, a common characteristic of the likes of Gaddafi. On one hand, he makes a pitch and says that Umno members should not hurt non-Malays. And then before an Umno audience he says that the DAP are agents of Christianisation. Who gave this man the authority to denigrate Christianity, the religion of many Chinese and Indians and east Malaysians?

He then went on to frighten Malays about the loss of political power? When threatened, this is also what Mubarak, Gaddafi and Saddam did; they painted minorities or foreigners as bogeymen.

Interestingly, these dictators also unleashed supporters against their people who went to the streets with legitimate grouses. In the last days in Tahrir Square, Mubarak’s hoodlums tried to intimidate the people calling for his resignation. They rode horses through the crowds and bashed up leaders of the protest movement.

In Kuala Lumpur and Penang, the state-sponsored thugs come dressed in yellow (aimed at discrediting Bersih) and are tasked with the job of intimidating those who don’t agree with the establishment. Today, they were given the task of disrupting the march by lawyers. Like their counterparts in Egypt and Libya, they never fall afoul of the authorities and don’t have to worry about being arrested.

And I believe that if we are united in our love for this country and belief in each other, these forces of evil and their sponsors in the high positions will not prevail.

History has shown that the meek and good-hearted, guided by our belief in God, can wear the mantle of victory over the forces of evil.

It is up to us to stand up to bullies like Ahmad Maslan.

* Jacob Sinnathamby reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 passed (Update)

ImageThe Sun
by Husna Yusop

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 29, 2011): The Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 has been passed by the Dewan Rakyat after debate by six Members of Parliament (MPs) at committee stage, amidst strong protest from the opposition coalition and civil society groups.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Sri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz wound up the debate on the bill in 40 minutes without the presence of any opposition MPs who left the House in the middle of his speech.

In his speech, Mohamed Nazri said the act is not unconstitutional as claimed but was in line with Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which must be read together with Clauses (2), (3) and (4).

"The clauses allow Parliament to impose restrictions deemed necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the nation or public order.

"So, we can enact the (necessary) laws. If we read the constitution carefully, what the government does today is not at all against the constitution. This is the first lie made by the opposition," he said.

Mohamed Nazri said the core of the new law is to breathe life into Article 10 by including the necessary elements, as the rights granted for the citizens to assemble peacefully is not absolute.

He also said six amendments have been made to the act which was tabled for first reading by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak on Thursday.

One of these concerned the controversial Section 9(1) which makes it mandatory for an organiser to give a 30-day notification to the police prior to holding an assembly in a non-designated venue.

“Today, we have decided to reduce it to 10 days because we listen to the people.

The BN MPs have raised this issue in our meetings.

So, this is not about demands by the opposition.

“The thing with the opposition (is that) when we don’t listen to the people, they said we are mean, but when we listen to the people, they said we are flip-flop,” he said.

The opposition MPs staged a walkout from the Dewan during Mohamed Nazri's wind-up speech.

"We do not see the point of the debate when they still want to pass the bill despite so much protests," Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) told theSun at the Parliament lobby after the walkout.

He said the opposition will continue its objection against the bill and will work closely with NGOs and human rights groups to ensure that the people's constitutional rights are protected.

Defend The Political Power Of The Malays - Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 (Bernama) -- Umno has reaffirmed that it is still a party that champions the Malays and as such it is important that the Malay political power be protected especially from attacks by the opposition who tried to create the perception that Umno is no longer capable of doing so.

Stressing the points in serious tone, Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Umno had never surrendered to the pressure by the opposition parties which intended to "weaken every aspect of Umno's struggle to champion the Malay cause."

He said the Malays were getting increasingly uneasy following the large number of slanders levelled against Umno.

"Even in the crazy days of slander, our number one leader was not spared from by slanderous sparks. Even while performing the haj, he was distracted by slander factories working overtime to unleash the slanderous sparkles," Muhyiddin said when opening the simultaneous general assembly of the Umno Wanita, Youth and Puteri movements at the Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre here Tuesday night.

He said Umno had recovered from the political tsunami of 2008, which had caused great concern among the Malays regarding their future, by taking a balance and wise approach so that the Malaysia remain strong while Islam was empowered.

While the Malays were troubled over their progress in the economic sector, Muhyiddin said the Barisan Nasional government led by Umno had unapologetically created the Bumiputera Agenda Supreme Council, the Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (Teraju), the Bumiputera Economic Transformation Programme, and the Rural Transformation Programme.

"All these are the continuation of efforts implemented by Umno all this while in the struggle to enhance the economic status of the Bumiputera," said Muhyiddin, who is also the deputy prime minister.

He said Umno leaders were also steadfast in defending the rights of the Malay and Bumiputera students who were qualified to receive scholarships and other educational subsidies from the government.

"And recently, we set up the Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera to assist Bumiputera students in getting education funding. With a fund of RM500 million, we target 12,000 Malay and Bumiputera students to benefit from the foundation in the next five years," said Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister.

Muhyiddin subsequently criticised the opposition parties, describing the DAP as the most racist party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as a ultraliberal party without moral consideration while PAS was willing to drop the struggle for an Islamic nation purely to avoid being criticised by the DAP.

"Now, we hear the DAP is actively trying to woo the Malays to join the party. They are offered positions in the party and promised to be selected as the party's candidates in the next general election," he added.

He described Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as being in critical situation because almost all the founders of the party had left and supported Umno.

On PAS, Muhyiddin said the party, which was deeply committed on its agenda to set up an Islamic nation previously, had now forgotten this objective in its political dictionary.

He said for PAS, which was facing a new political landscape, the support of the DAP and PKR was more important that its principle to champion its own cause.

Peaceful Assembly Bill passed as opposition MPs walk out

The heavens opened up to heavy rain in Penang as the Peaceful Assembly Bill was passed in Parliament after opposition MPs walked out in protest.

Malaysia passes ban on street protests

Activist lawyers decry new law they say imposes tougher restrictions and penalties for demonstrators.

Malaysia's lower house of parliament has approved a ban a on street protests after opposition legislators boycotted the vote and activists criticised the ban as repressive and a threat to freedom of public assembly.

The law is expected to be enforced after parliament's upper house, also dominated by the ruling National Front coalition, approves it as early as next month.

Najib Razak, the country's prime minister, has framed the bill as part of a campaign he launched in September to replace tough laws on security, speech and assembly in a bid to shore up support ahead of elections he is expected to call for next year.

He defended the act on Monday, saying it guarantees the right to peaceful assembly and said the law prohibits public marches to avoid disruptions to general society.

But it has been assailed by opposition politicians who call Najib's reforms an election ploy, and say the bill validates their fears that tough old laws will merely be replaced by strict new rules.

Malaysian and international rights groups describe it as repressive because it bans street rallies and imposes tough restrictions and penalties for demonstrators.

The law was announced only last week, and some critics say the vote was rushed without proper public consultation.

About 500 lawyers and their supporters marched to parliament hours before the vote, urging lawmakers to reject the bill and chanting "freedom to the people'' before police stopped most of them from entering the complex.

The new law would confine demonstrators mainly to stadiums and public halls. Depending on the venue, organisers may be required to give 10-day advance notification to police, who would determine whether the date and location are suitable.

Children under 15 and non-citizens would be barred from attending rallies, which also cannot be held near schools, hospitals, places of worship, airports or gasoline stations.

Demonstrators who break the law can be fined $6,200.

VK Liew, a deputy Cabinet minister in Najib's office who received a protest note from the lawyers on Tuesday, suggested that critics should not be too quick to criticize the law.

"We should look at it holistically, not piecemeal,'' Liew told reporters.

Opposition reaction

Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader, said he believed the Peaceful Assembly Act would be "more draconian'' than laws in Zimbabwe or Myanmar.

Other opposition activists indicated they might challenge the law in court, insisting it breaches the people's constitutional rights.

Amnesty International, the UK-based rights group, called the Peaceful Assembly Act "a legislative attack on Malaysians' right to peaceful protest,'' while Human Rights Watch said the law is being pushed through parliament with "undue haste".

"The government must reject the bill as it infringes on the rights of the people and violates the constitution," said Wong Chin Huat of Bersih 2.0, which spearheaded a rally for electoral reform in July that was broken up by police.

Lim Chee Wee, president of the Malaysian Bar Council, said the ban was "outrageous".

"Assemblies in motion provide the demonstrators with a wider audience and greater visibility, in order for others to see and hear the cause or grievance giving rise to the gathering," he said.

Critics including the Malaysian Bar Council and Human Rights Watch maintain the act would grant police too much power over the timing, duration, and location of gatherings.

"This bill is a legislative attack on Malaysians' right to peaceful protest," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director, said in a statement.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has been accused of routinely using tough laws to block challenges to its five decades in power.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies