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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pornography, Prostitution will Surge if Women Drive: Saudi Clerics

A "scientific" report published in Saudi Arabia has claimed that lifting the ban on women drivers would result in "no more virgins".

The report also warned that such a move would also make more Saudis, both men and women, turn to homosexuality and pornography. The study also predicted a surge in prostitution and divorce.

Such startling conclusions were drawn by Muslim scholars at the Majlis al-Ifta' al-A'ala, Saudi Arabia's highest religious council, working in conjunction with Kamal Subhi, a former professor at the King Fahd University, according to the Daily Mail.

The study was made to assess the possible impact of repealing the ban in Saudi Arabia. The country is the only place in the world where women are not allowed to drive a vehicle.

The report was submitted to all 150 members of the Shura Council, the legislative body.

Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, the scholars said, there would be "no more virgins" in the Islamic kingdom.

The religious group pointed to is visible "moral decline" in other Muslim countries where women are allowed to drive.

"All the women were looking at me," Subhi writes of how women behave in other Arab countries, while he sat at a coffee shop in an unnamed state.

"One made a gesture that made it clear she was available. ... This is what happens when women are allowed to drive."

The study was undertaken after Shaima Jastaniya, a 34-year-old Saudi woman, was sentenced to 10 lashes with a whip after she was caught driving in Jeddah.

Despite strong protests in the country about the sentence and the law in general, there has been little hope for any reforms among conservative royals and clerics.

Umno can ‘overcome’ PKR and PAS but not DAP, says minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — An Umno minister admitted today his party viewed DAP as its biggest threat in the next general election, but he confidently predicted that PKR and PAS could be beaten.

Pasir Gudang MP Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin reasoned that this was why delegates had focused their attacks on DAP when speaking about Pakatan Rakyat (PR) throughout the Umno annual general assembly so far.

“Because they believe, and it has been some sort of perception, whether real or imaginary, that the dominant force (in the opposition) is not PKR — it is DAP.

“Therefore, Umno members have been focusing (on) and criticising DAP ... because Umno feels they can overcome the other Malay-based parties,” he told The Malaysian Insider when approached on the sidelines of the party’s AGM today.

The higher education minister was commenting on the direction of debates during the assembly so far and how delegates have been targeting DAP in their criticisms.

Attacks against the opposition party have served as a focal point for this year’s Umno assembly, with delegates accusing DAP leaders of marginalising Malays in PR states, and challenging the sanctity of Islam as the country’s “official religion”.

While some have dismissed renewed attacks against DAP as mere “Pakatan bashing,” some Umno leaders have insisted that DAP poses a “real threat” to Malays, and that a future with DAP in power would spell disaster for the community.

“The party (Umno) is a platform. Our main concern is the future of Malays and Islam.

“This goes beyond political differences between PAS and PKR. Malays have a right to be worried. The position of Malays and our religion has been challenged subliminally and one day before we realise it, it will be too late to do anything,” said Umno delegate Abdul Rahim Kamarudin.

Khaled agreed today, pointing to how DAP has made significant inroads in the Chinese community.

During the Sarawak state polls in April, DAP chalked up the biggest win among its PR partners, snapping up 12 out of the 15 seats it contested.

“They (delegates) see that DAP has gained significant support from the Chinese,” he said.

But Khaled added it was important for delegates to heed their president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s message of unity, saying it was crucial that the party stand together to face the coming polls.

In his opening message to delegates, Najib had urged them to stand united and be willing to face sacrifices to guarantee victory for the ruling pact in an “extraordinary” general election expected soon.

“I think the president’s request must be given serious consideration because this is the basis of our strength ... it will help us overcome the challenges that lie before us,” said Khaled.

Stupid of DAP to call Indians stupid

How far can it go in politics by making issues out of race, colour and language?

The DAP, at least in Perak, is getting into the news for all the wrong reasons these days.

First, Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming ventilated his ignorance on the science of colour by making derogatory references to Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir’s dark complexion. This was at a ceramah in Kamunting in September. The recording of it has just made YouTube in a belated broadcast.

Now we have Perak DAP chairman Ngeh Koo Kam dismissing Indians – in his tweet message – as stupid in politics “but not as stupid as they think they are”.

Obviously, he is saying that Indians have a lower opinion of themselves in politics than they should, “given the reality of the facts”.

Given the above two incidents, Hindraf Makkal Sakthi Chairman P Waythamoorthy is unlikely to pursue any plan to field candidates under DAP in many of the 15 parliamentary seats and 38 state seats since identified by the Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRP), its political wing. All bets are off.

Waythamoorthy, reportedly, had been toying with the idea of fielding candidates under the DAP banner since HRP was denied registration by the authorities.

Hindraf and HRP are more than likely now to call on the Indian community to abstain from voting during the coming general election, the 13th, and prepare themselves for the 14th.

The idea is to make the eventual winners realise that they won because the Indians did not vote against them and the losers to realise they lost because the Indians did not vote for them.

How far is DAP prepared to go? Indeed, how far can it go in politics by making issues out of race, colour and language?

We can fall back on history a little to educate ourselves.

The last straw

DAP’s recent faux pas reminds us of May 10, 1969, when its leaders drove on open lorries through Kuala Lumpur, broom in hand, to declare that they would soon “sweep the Malays back to the kampungs”.

They could hardly contain themselves after picking up half the state seats in Perak and Selangor and making impressive electoral gains elsewhere.

That “sweep” remark was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Umno, just waiting for the right moment and an excuse, lashed back by unleashing the searing Sino-Malay race riots of May 13, 1969.

Elections in Sabah and Sarawak were suspended over strong protests in the two Borneo states. Parliament was suspended and replaced by the National Consultative Council. The Federal Cabinet was replaced by the National Operations Council headed by Abdul Razak Hussein, the father of current prime minister Najib.

Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was sent packing into retirement for being “too pro-Chinese”. The New Economic Policy (1970-90) was launched and observed more often than not in the breach.

It is precisely because Indians are not stupid that DAP finds it a great problem making further headway in politics. The party wants to add the strength of the Indians to its current strength, but it is clear that this is not going to happen unless it can somehow persuade the community to be stupid under the guise of being smart.

There is no doubt that the Chinese community on both sides of the South China Sea are united under Lim Kit Siang and DAP. They see a historical opportunity to walk in the corridors of power and supplement and complement and protect their economic power.

DAP cannot depend too much on getting Malay support since the community has other avenues like Umno, PAS and PKR. That leaves the Indian community as one logical new territory, besides the Dayaks, Dusuns and the Orang Asli.

But insulting Indians out of frustration is not going to endear the party to the community. To their credit, Umno and other Barisan Nasional (BN) parties have never referred to the Indian community in the same derogatory terms as DAP does.

Indian politics, unlike that of DAP, is not about taking power directly. So, what is good for the Chinese is not necessarily good for the Indians.

The Indian community is more inclined towards allowing the Orang Asli and Malays in Peninsular Malaysia, Dayaks in Sarawak and the Dusuns in Sabah taking and wielding power.

Any Indian who would sit in power would most likely want to get there from working under one of the local labels.

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Malayalee), current prime minister Najib (Indian-Bugis), former Sabah chief minister Harris Salleh (Indian-Barunai), current Sabah chief minister Musa Aman (Pathan-Dusun) and Zambry himself are a few examples which readily come to mind. Unfortunately, unlike the others, Mahathir did great damage to the Indian community.

DAP has to accept that the current thrust of Indian politics is to undo the damage to the community during the 22 years that Mahathir was in power.

Third Force

Enter Hindraf and HRP.

The plight of the Indians in Malaysia has become so critical that it calls for the intervention of the international community through Washington and other forums.

Back at home, Hindraf’s current pre-occupation includes getting others on board as well under the banner of the Third Force. This force includes, besides Hindraf, the Orang Asli, Christians, Portuguese, Siamese, Chittys, Babas, Dusuns, Dayaks, Sabah and Sarawak in general, and all those who reject both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat.

The Third Force is still a work in progress. Its eventual realisation will be as a solid voting bloc in Parliament, for example, that is poised evenly between BN and PR. It can back either BN or PR to form the government without itself being part of one.

The Third Force will never subscribe to a “government of national unity’. It will be in government only when it can take the initiative to form and lead the federal government.

All this is of course anathema to DAP, hence its labelling of the Indians as stupid.

After May 13, there cannot be another May to teach DAP or its supporters a lesson. If the army takes power one day in Malaysia, we can be sure that DAP would have provided Umno the perfect excuse.

India could be China if it was less democratic: Dr Mahathir

(Bernama) - India could have achieved as much as China in terms of development had it been less democratic, former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said here Friday.
Dr Mahathir, who ruled Malaysia for 22 years, said though democracy was the best form of government, it was not the easiest way to govern, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
If India is not too democratic it will be like China in terms of development," PTI quoted him as saying in an interactive session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.
Minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiraditya Scindia and BJD MP Jay Panda, however, disagreed with Mahathir's contention arguing that India looked towards development as a marathon and not a sprint.
Panda said the Indian democratic system was evolving and there were plenty of countries in the world which do not have democracy and have not developed.
"As far as whether democracy is more of a hindrance to India, it is certainly more difficult. Our system is evolving, our trajectory of growth is certainly better than it was in earlier decades. We do need to tweak our system, but we do not need to change our system," Panda said.
Dr Mahathir said though India has been a democracy for a long time but its socialist leaning had come in the path of growth.
Suggesting a model of a strong Centre and less powerful provinces for India, he said such an approach would help promote development.
"You need a much stronger central government and less powers to the provincial governments, because there will never be an agreement between the Centre and the provinces. This makes it difficult for the government to promote any policy," Mahathir said.
The Hindustan Times Leadership Summit is an annual event hosted under the auspices of India's HT group of newspapers. Prominent national and international personalities are invited to take part in the summit.

India, Inc Trains Its Eyes Abroad

We're a leavin', on a jet plane, not sure when we'll be back again
Strangled by red tape and other problems, India’s emerging multinationals buy overseas
Policy paralysis, bureaucratic delays, a shambolic national infrastructure and a fraught political environment are propelling India Inc’s cash-rich emerging multinational enterprises on a search for big-ticket investments overseas.

With the Congress-led ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) buffeted by corruption scandals, policy U-turns and the inability to get on with the basic task of governance, the pace has picked up, with disenchanted Indian companies going abroad for investment in countries as far flung as Argentina, Africa and Abu Dhabi.

Reserve Bank of India data show that Indian companies carried out more than 400 overseas investment transactions that resulted in outward foreign direct investment of US$3.46 billion during September 2011 alone. Outward investment by India companies or entities was at US$19 billion for the first six months of the fiscal year 2011-12.

It is a depressingly familiar phenomenon, stretching back to the days when the country was ruled by the import-substitution philosophy, according to Prema-chandra Athukorala, writing in a 2009 research paper for the Asian Development Bank:

“There is evidence that the constraining effects of government policy on business operations played a pivotal role in the emergence of Indian MNEs,” Athukorala writes. “During this period, many big industrial houses in India felt constrained not by the lack of profitable market opportunities at home, but by government legislation that created market imperfections and distortions affecting their ability to expand, diversify, and export.”

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, a trust established by the Ministry of Commerce and the Confederation of Indian Industry, Indian companies are on a continuing search for new investment destinations.

“Despite India's vast opportunities across under-penetrated sectors, companies are venturing abroad for inorganic growth," HDFC Securities analyst Anupam Gupta wrote in a 2011 report. “While this is also partly driven by rising global aspirations for Indian companies, another reason for this is a tough competitive field, made no easier by the unpredictable regulatory environment."

However, an official with the consultancy Bain & Co points out that “these outreach initiatives by Indian companies shouldn’t be misread as the `dynamism’ of a rising power. “It is fuelled largely by frustrations back home while doing business.”

World Bank’s `Doing Business’ 2012 data ranks India at a lowly 132 in the overall "Ease of Doing Business" of 183 economies surveyed. Is it any surprise then that it took seven months to get the $7.2 billion RIL-BP deal cleared and more than a year to approve the Vedanta-Cairn $6 billion transaction? asks the Bain official. Even Posco's US$12 billion proposed investment, the largest FDI proposal in India, says the expert, is stuck in a quagmire awaiting land clearances.

What is driving Indian companies to foreign shores are the perpetually high bank interest rates, inflation and ferocious competition in Asia's third-largest economy. Small wonder that two of the country’s largest conglomerates -- Reliance Industries and the Tatas – earn more than half their revenue abroad.

Mumbai stocks are among the world's worst performers this year, with the Sensex down more than 9 percent. This week, the country’s leading business chambers, the Confederation of Indian Industry, sounded the alarm over the slowdown and emphasized that the government and the RBI need to do something quick to revive the economy.

“A significant pull-down in investments is apparent and this can take the overall economy down further since there are very few developments in the country which can be termed as confidence boosters,” said CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry estimates that GDP growth in the current fiscal year will now be in the range of 7- 7.1 per cent with significant downside risks as against 7.6 forecast earlier by the RBI.

Due to near double-digit inflation, the cost of raw materials has ratcheted up, resulting in slowing factory output. India Inc has also blamed the tight monetary policy, which has increased the cost of borrowing, for hindering fresh investment and crimping industrial growth.

The RBI has hiked interest rates 13 times since March, 2010, to seek to tame demand and curb inflation. Despite that, headline inflation has remained above the 9 percent mark since December 2010. The decline in the mining sector is worrisome too and could trigger higher input costs for many companies, economists say.

HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh recently told an Indian daily that many top industrial houses have admitted that it's “much easier” to invest abroad. Their aim or strategy, said Parekh, is to now have 50 percent of their turnover from abroad. “Take the top five to seven group—the Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Ruias,” Parekh said. “Some have already achieved their target. These are industrialists who have established their reputation, capacity and stature in India."

A new report by the Macquarie Group identifies 80 key pieces of legislation languishing in Parliament. In recent weeks, prominent business leaders, including Ratan Tata, have warned that the lack of reforms is causing Indian companies to concentrate their investments abroad “as government chokes the economy.”

Tata has also argued that the government has to “remove barriers and constraints that are making it difficult for the country’s economy to flourish”.

India Inc is also demanding a more transparent and coherent tax regime that can whittle down red tape and facilitate investment in the country. Unfortunately, at the moment at least, there is little to suggest that the Indian government is pushing through any of the reforms urgently needed to uplift the economy and prevent billions from leaving the country’s shores.

A list of the emerging multinationals that have recently invested overseas includes these:

• Fortis Healthcare (India) is to acquire Singapore-based Fortis Healthcare International for US$665 million. The purchase, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close by mid-December.

• The Hyderabad-based GVK Power has invested US$1.41 billion in its Singapore-based joint venture with GVK Coal Developers (Singapore) which is involved in transport, storage and communication services. GVK has also signed a memorandum of understanding to invest US$3-5 billion to build airports on the Indonesian islands of Bali and Java.

• ETHL Communications Holdings has committed US$776.88 million in its Mauritius-based wholly owned subsidiary ETHL Communications Mauritius, which is engaged in financial, insurance, real estate and business services.

• Tata Steel has invested US$173.55 million in its Singapore-based subsidiary, Tata Steel Asia Holdings Pte, which is also engaged in financial, insurance, real estate and business services.

• RHC Holding investments invested US$113.62 million to its Mauritius-based wholly owned subsidiary.

• Jindal Saw invested US$ 78.64 million in its Cyprus-based manufacturing unit, Ralael Holdings Ltd. Jindal has also committed an investment of US$48.31 million in its UAE-based unit Jindal Saw Holdings FZE.

• In October this year, two companies from the US$83 billion salt-to-steel conglomerate Tata Group as well as Larsen &Toubro and the Aditya Birla group clinched agreements with Kizad, an Abu Dhabi government-owned industrial zone to set up projects worth billions there. Kizad is setting up one of biggest industrial zones in the UAE and has signed 40 deals worth US$10 billion. Almost half of it is said to be from Indian investors.

• Australia has emerged as a favored destination with Lanco Infratech acquiring Griffin Coal for A$730 million. The Adani Group snapped up Australia’s Abbot Port for A$1.8 billion while GVK acquired Hancock Coal and Infra of Australia forA$1.21 billion.

• In far-flung Africa, Essar Steel has acquired Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO) with a commitment to invest US$750 million. Religare Capital Markets acquires majority stake in South African broking firm Noah Financial Innovation. Godrej Consumer Products acquired 51 percent of a leading pan-African hair care company, Darling Group Holdings, for over Rs5 billion. Tata Chemicals acquired the US-based potash miner EPM Mining Ventures for an undisclosed sum.

• Indian home and personal care goods makers Godrej Consumer Products , Dabur India Ltd and Marico are also searching for properties in Africa amidst fierce competition back home

(Neeta Lal is a New Delhi-based senior journalist;

Umno People: Najib's Reminder To Those Who Forgot About Umno's Struggles

By Ahmad Shukran Shaharudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 (Bernama) -- In just six days, not once, but twice had Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak reminded Umno members to become Umno people.

The first time was during a special interview with Bernama last Saturday and the second time was during his policy speech at the opening of the 2011 Umno General Assembly Thursday.

In his speech, Najib talked about the struggles of Umno people since the party's inception in 1946, including the decision made by the founder of Umno, Datuk Onn Jaafar, to quit the party in 1951 and the transition of power from Tunku Abdul Rahman to Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Even more than that, Najib, who had taken over the party' and the government's leadership in 2009, also underlined three elements to be upheld to become Umno people, namely loyalty, love for the party and the willingness to serve and sacrifice for the party.

The motive? That is for Umno people to think, both implicit and explicitly.

Cheras Umno chief Datuk Syed Ali Al-Habshee said what was wanted by the president was to have Umno people who would sacrifice their all for the party in its struggles to defend Islam, the Malays and the country.

"Umno members or Umno people must always uphold the principles of truth, trust and Umno's struggles.

"Umno people are the people who had been empowering the nation. The spirit must be preserved as requested by the president," said Syed Ali, who is also Federal Territories Umno Liaison Committee secretary.

For Umno leaders at the grassroot level like Datuk Mohamed Soffi Abdul Razak from Lipis, Pahang, Umno people would "read" the message with regards to the 13th general election, which would determine the direction of Islam, the Malays, the country and the party.

"Although he did not make any clear statement on election, but the speech focused mainly on the party's struggles in facing the next general election.

"Every election is important, but the next general election will be the one that will determine how strong the government will be and which parties are supporting it," he said.

Mohamed Soffi, who is also Benta assemblyman, said although Najib's message was conveyed to Umno members, it was indirectly extended to "Umno people" outside the party.

"They are also "Umno people". They may not be registered Umno members, but they had been there for Umno, supported Umno and had helped Umno. These people are categorised as Umno sympathiser.

"They are better than those in the party but had secretly supported the opposition," he added.