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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Respect elders, ‘newcomer’ Rama told

A DAP division in Penang is peeved with the deputy chief minister for branding party veterans as godfathers and demands a clarification.
BUTTERWORTH: The Bagan DAP division has launched a broadside against Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy for describing party elders as “godfathers”.
According to the division, this is a mark of disrespect and called on the academic-turned-politician to clarify who he was referring to.
The division also urged the leadership to take stern disciplinary action against the “newcomer”.
“Never before has a DAP elected representative criticised party elders as godfathers. Its ‘un-DAP-like’,” said division deputy chairman and Bagan Dalam assemblyman A Tanasekharan.
He said party elders, like national chairman Karpal Singh and Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang, have been the pillars of strength for DAP over the years.
“They have sacrificed so much and been the backbone of the party, we must respect them. As a newcomer, Ramasamy should not be disrespectful towards the party veterans. He should not act like a warlord,” Tanasekharan told FMT in the presence of the division’s liaison committee members.
Ramasamy, the Penang DAP deputy chairman, told an online media that DAP should get rid of not only warlords but godfathers as well.
He was responding to Karpal’s warning to certain party leaders against becoming political warlords by circumventing the leadership to promise and announce seats for their cronies.
Karpal also cautioned against using the term godfathers to describe veteran leaders, stating that the latter are also needed for the party’s progress.
The row was caused by Ramasamy’s announcement in Tamil newspaper Makkal Osai on Nov 28 that the party will field three Indian women – D Kamachi, P Kasturi (daughter of the late DAP stalwart P Patto), and an unknown lawyer from Penang, K Mangaleswari.
Ramasamy was also quoted as saying that parliamentarians M Kulasegaran (Ipoh Barat), Gobind Singh Deo (Puchong), Charles Santiago (Klang) and M Manogaran, and assemblymen A Sivanesan (Sungkai), A Sivasubramaniam (Buntong), V Sivakumar (Tronoh) and P Gunasekaren (Senawang) were certain of contesting in the coming general election.
According to the article, Ramasamy also announced that he will re-contest both his Prai state and Batu Kawan federal seats, which is against the imminent party’s “one man – one seat” policy.
Although he denied stating it, the Makkal Osai article, sub-titled the report as Ramasamy’s announcement.
Why deny it now?

The unprecedented announcement was described by the Bagan division as running foul of “DAP’s political culture amounting to usurpation of the Central Executive Committee’s (CEC) powers.”
Tanasekharan said the majority of division leaders and members backed Karpal on this matter.
He also questioned why Ramasamy denied making such an announcement only after Karpal’s outburst.
“Instead of accusing the reporters and media of twisting (his remarks), he should have denied the report a week ago,” he added.
Bagan division head and Penang DAP vice-chairman Lim Hock Seng clarified that the CEC is the party’s highest decision-making body to finalise and announce the candidatures.
Under the party selection process, each parliamentary division, in which DAP contests, will submit five fresh names, apart from the incumbents, for the state election committees to consider as candidates.
All incumbents are automatically considered as candidates.
The state election committee will then submit names of shortlisted candidates to the state committee for another vetting.
Finally the CEC will conduct a perusal and has the final say on candidates shortlisted and recommended by the state committees.
Lim said even top national leaders and state chairmen will not be certain of their candidacy until the CEC’s eleventh hour announcement.
Penang DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow, Ramasamy, Lim, vice chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo and secretary Ng Wei Aik make up the current five-man state election committee.
Lim said the relevant DAP divisions have submitted their candidature proposals for seven parliamentary and 19 state seats to the Penang election committee.
“The committee has not met until today,” he confirmed.
Meanwhile, Tanasekharan said the Bagan division is upset with Ramasamy for doing a (former MIC president S) Samy Vellu by projecting himself as the “DAP Indian leader.”
“DAP never projected anyone as a particular community leader,” he noted.
Ramasamy’s announcement in Makkal Osai is set to take centre stage during the Penang DAP delegates’ conference on Dec 11.

Suhakam probes Cambodian maid’s death

Cambodia's opposition MP says this is the first case filed and accepted officially in Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: Suhakam has accepted for the first time a complaint from Cambodia over the death of a ninth Cambodian domestic worker in Malaysia.

Pov Nich, 18, arrived in Malaysia on Aug 28. Two months later, her mother was informed by the recruitment agency in Phnom Penh of her daughter’s sudden death.

The agency claimed that Pov Nich collapsed after taking the wrong medicine and died following further complications at the hospital.

On Monday, prominent Cambodian opposition MP Mu Sochua (photo) wrote to Suhakam commissioner, Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah urging for investigations into the vague circumstances of Pov Nich’s death and employment.

Sochua yesterday received an email from Suhakam confirming receipt of her complaint and informing her that a file has been opened over the matter.

The email was signed by the human rights commission’s Principal Assistant Secretary of the Complaints and Inquiry Division, Ameer Iznayif Hamzah.

“The swift response from the commissioner is very encouraging,” Sochua said. “This is the first case filed and accepted officially and I will be filing similar complaints for all nine deaths of Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia.”

In her letter to Sha’ani, she also implored for the retrieval and release of information on the reported deaths of Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia.

“Despite these deaths being officially recognised by the Malaysian authorities, the names and details surrounding the circumstances of these deaths and the agencies involved remain shrouded in secrecy,” she stated.

Suhakam’s acceptance and response of Pov Nich’s case is a significant step forward in Sochua’s fight against the abuse of Cambodian domestic workers in Malaysia as her previous attempts to contact Malaysian authorities have largely been ignored.

Cambodian domestic workers streamed into Malaysia following a three-year freeze on recruitment of their Indonesian counterparts.

Of the 50,000 Cambodian domestic workers currently in Malaysia, 30,000 arrived this year alone.

Tenaganita has rescued 41 of them to date with 56% having suffered physical abuse, 26% sexually abused, 25% malnourished and 42% forced to work double jobs.

However following complaints of abuse, the Cambodian government banned sending their domestic workers to Malaysia in November.

Shias targeted in deadly Afghan shrine blasts

Two bomb blasts apparently targeting Shia Muslim shrines as hundreds of people gathered to mark the day of Ashoura have killed at least 60 people and injured scores more, according to Afghan police and media reports.

At least 56 people were killed by a suicide bomber who detonated explosives at the gate of the Abu-Ul Fazil shrine in the capital Kabul on Tuesday, many of them children, the AFP news agency reported.

Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from the blast site in Kabul, said police had confirmed the death toll. The ministry off health said that more than 100 people had also been injured.

Ambulances rushed to the scene to take the wounded to hospital while some berated police for allowing the attack to occur on a major religious holiday, our correspondent said.

'Huge explosion'

"I was there watching people mourning when there was suddenly a huge explosion," witness Ahmad Fawad said.

"Some people around me fell down injurefd. I wasn't hurt, so I got up and started running. It was horrible," he said.

In a separate attack, a bicycle bomb near a mosque in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif killed four worshippers, a district police chief said.

A Taliban statement said the group had not been behind either incident.

The Taliban condemned the bomb attacks in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif as the brutal work of "enemies", a spokesperson for the armed group said.

"Very sadly we heard that there were explosions in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, where people were killed by the enemy's un-Islamic and inhuman activity," Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement published on their website.

Ahmad Shuja, an Afghan blogger and commentator, based in Washington, told Al Jazeera "there isn't a strong likelihood of sustained violence" as a result of these two bombings.

"We may see a scuffle or two in the streets like, what has happened in [Afghanistan's western city of] Herat in the past but there are a few reasons why it won't lead to sustained sectarian violence," he said.

"No Shia group has the arms, organisation or experience to indulge in sectarian violence based on suicide attacks. They have been disarmed by the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration (DDR) process and Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) in Afghanistan [as a result they] have been fairly successful of stripping every one of their arms.

"It's important to consider that Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia have in the past supported various Shia and Sunni sectarian groups and could potentially fill that void now."

Karzai flies home

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has cancelled a visit to the UK to return to Afghanistan after the deadly attacks.

Karzai was in Germany on Tuesday evening after attending the international conference on the future of Afghanistan after NATO troops pull out at the end of 2014, in the German city of Bonn, and was later due to travel to the UK.

Earlier he spoke of the unprecedented nature of the attack, saying it was "the first time that, on such an important religious day in Afghanistan, terrorism of that horrible nature is taking place".

Karzai also appealed to Afghanistan's neighbour Pakistan, which boycotted the Bonn meeting, saying it had "a very important role to play in the peace process in Afghanistan".

At Monday's conference, delegates pledged sustained support for Afghanistan for another decade, in exchange for clear progress on good governance.

Pakistan and the Taliban - both seen as pivotal to any end to the fighting in Afghanistan - decided to not attend the talks, undermining already modest hopes for real progress.

Kabul has been targeted by a series of bold attacks in recent months; include assaults on the US embassy, a major hotel and the offices of the British Council.

The blasts occurred as Shias gathered to carry out religious rituals to mark one of the most significant days in their calendar.

Ashoura, a public holiday in Afghanistan, is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shia Muslims it is a major religious festival which commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Shias were banned from marking Ashoura in public under the Taliban. This year, there are more Ashoura monuments around the city than in recent years, including black shrines and flags.

Meanwhile, a bomb placed in a motorcycle exploded in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Tuesday afternoon, injuring three civilians, a spokesmfan for the provincial governor said.

The site of the Kandahar blast was not near any mosque or shrine.

Outcry in The Hague over ‘pedo imam’

Labour Party MP Ahmed Marcouch wants to bar imam Mohamed al-Maghraoui from entering the Netherlands.

The controversial Moroccan imam has been invited to attend a conference in the As Sunnah mosque in The Hague.

Al Maghraoui caused an uproar in Morocco in 2008 when he issued a fatwa approving a marriage with a nine-year-old girl. The fatwa has since been nullified by the Moroccan religious authorities and the controversial imam fled to Saudi Arabia to avoid prosecution. He reportedly repeated his fatwa when he returned to Morocco in 2011.

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders has also said the imam should not be allowed to visit the Netherlands.
The As Sunnah mosque has repeatedly been the subject of controversy. Earlier, the Salafist As Sunnah Imam Sheikh Fawaz Jneid called on his followers not to integrate into Dutch society.

The mosque has declined to comment on the planned visit by the controversial Moroccan imam.

(gsh/rk) © Radio Netherlands Worldwide

MIC prepared to be colour blind if…

Party deputy president Dr S Subramaniam says MIC is prepared to move in the direction of becoming a multi-ethnic entity if Umno, being the backbone of BN, leads the way.

PETALING JAYA: MIC is ready to evolve from being an Indian-centric party towards one that is multi-ethnic.

Expressing this, MIC deputy president Dr S Subramaniam said political parties in Malaysia must transform in line with the feelings and expectations of the majority.

“The present feeling among the younger generation about multiracial representation has to be respected. And we must allow such a healthy evolution,” he told FMT.

The human resources minister said as far as MIC is concerned, if other parties in Barisan Nasional coalition are willing to do so, then MIC will have “no qualms” going forward in that direction.

However, Subramaniam stressed that Umno, as the biggest coalition partner in BN, has to take the lead.

Last month, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek said his party is hoping to expand itself beyond being an ethnic-based entity. “We no longer want to be a party which looks at an issue from a Malay, Chinese or Indian perspective,” he had said.

MCA previously proposed a “New Deal” for the country, with Chua saying that a paradigm shift is needed for Malaysians to break out of their “superficial and race-centric cocoon”.

Echoing Chua’s sentiments, Subramaniam said: “I think in the long term, ethnic thinking is not good for the country.”

In the end, he said, the political structures of the country should depend on what the people want at that point of time.

“Our current political structures were determined by the requirements of that particular time in history. We were created more than 60 years ago, even before Independence and communities thought there was a need for them to be represented, MIC came, then MCA,” he added.

Najib is heading that way

Since then, Subramaniam said politics has evolved and now a sizeable number of youths, particularly from the middle class, feel that there must be more “trans-ethnic thinking”.

“There is a greater need to think in terms of national causes that go beyond racial lines,” he said.

Subramaniam said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is trying to move in that direction with his 1Malaysia concept.

“I think the thinking now is that it has to evolve towards that stage, that is why recently BN introduced clubs, such as the friends of BN, affiliate members, to allow for a greater openness and more people of all races to be involved.

“For a start, more activities and programmes should be allowed under the BN banner to push this evolution, ” he said.

Subramaniam said other component parties should be able to accept such changes, especially Umno leaders at all levels should be convinced.

When asked, the MIC deputy president denied that the current BN system has failed or remains Umno-domninant.

Instead, he said it has been a fair and open system.

“I think nobody in BN can complain that you have never had the opportunity to express yourself. The BN concept is a compensatory mechanism, allowing multiple ethnic-based parties to work within a common national agenda,” he added.

Umno beating the drums for another May 13

What is new and unexpected is the vitriol and venom directed openly and without inhibition at opposition parties and their leaders.

The Umno general assembly has come and gone. Most political observers had expected it to be the usual rah-rah event aimed at rallying Umno members ahead of the coming elections and in support of the leadership of Najib Tun Razak, the party president. They were right.

The public were subject to yet another spectacle of sound and fury on how important the party is to the future of Malays, albeit with the occasional reminder of how indispensable the party is to the well being of all the citizens of the country.

Optimistic observers who had hoped that the party would live up to its rhetoric of being a mature and transformed party of moderation – at least for the duration of this publicly viewed occasion – were disappointed.

The collective breast beating led by the party president and deputy president – on the greatness and goodness of the party compared with the weaknesses and evilness of the opposition – was quite unprecedented in the history of the party’s general assemblies.

The attacks against PAS, PKR and especially the DAP during the meeting have only just begun.

Can we expect it to continue with greater viciousness and spitefulness as Umno leaders fan out into the grassroots to campaign in the next few months leading to the elections?

What should be of concern is not just the running down and bad mouthing of the opposition. This has been the norm in past assemblies, especially those leading up to the elections.

What is new and unexpected is the vitriol and venom directed openly and without inhibition at opposition parties and their leaders.

In many speeches made at the assembly, there appears a concerted attempt at inciting racial and religious emotions and issues and exploiting Malay insecurities with imagined and wildly exaggerated threats of the looming new dawn of non-Malay and Christian dominance for Malaysia should the party fail to win the coming elections.

The many socio-economic and political challenges facing the community and nation – many arising from bad governance, abuse of power, and corrupt practices practiced or condoned by the party and its coalition partners during the decades of Barisan rule – received little mention or attention.

Umno’s ultimate game changer

The question which arises now is whether the party is laying the ground work – deliberately or inadvertently – for the game-changing political development sought after by hard line Umno leaders in case the coming election results do not go Umno’s way.

This game changer is a repetition of the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

In his opening address to the assembly, it is notable that amongst the developments listed by the Prime Minister Najib as influencing the party he referred to the 1969 racial riots as one of the party’s eleven game changers in its past and current history.

What is regrettable is the way in which he appears to condone the racial violence that resulted in authoritarian rule and the suspension of Parliament, and pins the blame for this darkest event in our history squarely on the opposition.

“Let us never be negligent because there are some among the opposition leaders who are stoking flames and slogans to belittle the Malays so that there will be a May 13”.

The PM as the responsible leader of our nation must clarify this statement and allay the anxieties and fears of our citizenry and voters on the possible recurrence of racial violence.

He and his deputy president must never give the impression to Malaysians and to Umno supporters especially that they are seeking to fan or are condoning extremist sentiments in any way whatsoever.

The oblique warning by the prime minister that there is a possibility of another recurrence of racial violence may not have been apparent to political analysts, drowned by the assembly proceedings and verbiage.

However, that this potential game changing option is being contemplated in high circles is beyond doubt.

May 13 was sparked off as a result of election results in which the opposition parties denied the Umno-led Alliance their customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Should the coming election fail to deliver the expected victory for Umno, are we to expect hard-line Umno leaders to resist the handing over of power peacefully and to agitate for power by other means?

Opposition made the scapegoat

Ominously, the scapegoat for any new outbreak of racial and religious violence has already been identified – not Umno extremists but those on the other side of the political fence.

Besides being alerted to Umno’s and the BN’s efforts to cling to power through well honed electoral manipulation (especially through massive gerrymandering and mal-apportionment in constituency electoral numbers) and using a combination of divide and rule racial and religious strategies as well as the buying up and harassment of the political opposition, it is important that the public – Malays and non-Malays – pay attention to – but are not intimidated by or co-opted into any attempted deployment of this ultimate game changing solution to the loss of political power.

Neither should the public be confused or taken in by the spinning on who are the patriots and who are disloyal to the country.

Fascistic elements in Umno (as well as various support elite groups in key institutions) will push the line that the best way to deal with the political challenges confronting the party and failure to win the coming elections is to declare emergency rule and to suspend the democratic process.

A return to authoritarian rule a-la the period immediately after the May 13 racial unrest can then be justified in terms of preserving national unity, security and harmony and the thwarting of the enemies of the Malays and Islam.

In reality, it will amount to an Umno led coup and a major setback in the country’s evolution to a normal democratic system.

It is hoped that wise and responsible leadership will prevail in the campaigning during the coming elections. All of us will be losers if the irrational logic and ferocity of the Umno meeting is unleashed on the country in the next few months.

Lim Teck Ghee is the director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives. This article first appeared at the CPI website.

Ramasamy says he is innocent

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy says Karpal Singh was not targeting him when he said certain DAP leaders had stepped out of line.

PETALING JAYA: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy dismissed claims that he had announced DAP candidates and seats for the general election.

“It is the prerogative of the party’s central executive committee (CEC) to decide who stands as a candidate. I never promised seats to anyone,” said Ramasamy.

He also denied DAP national chairman Karpal Singh was lashing out at him.

“I still believe that Karpal made a general statement. I will be talking to Karpal on it.

“The news report was twisted to include me,” said Ramasamy, who contacted FMT to respond to a FMT report entitled, “Karpal hits out at DAP warlords”.

The news report published yesterday had Karpal commenting on vernacular press reports about party warlords announcing candidacy and seats.

In particular, Karpal noted that the vernacular newspaper article quoted Ramasamy, a CEC member, as saying that the party had decided to field three Indian women – D Kamachi, P Kasturi, and an unknown lawyer from Penang, Mangleswari.

The article also had allegedly quoted Ramasamy as saying that parliamentarians M Kulasegaran (Ipoh Barat), Charles Santiago (Klang) and M Manogaran, and assemblyman A Sivanesan (Sungkai) were virtually certain of contesting in the coming general election.

According to the article, Ramasamy, the Penang DAP deputy chief, has also claimed that he would re-contest both his Prai state and Batu Kawan federal seats.

On the issue of the three Indian women, Ramasamy said: “I merely stated that they would be considered.”

Ramasamy, who is also DAP’s national deputy secretary-general, denied making statements regarding the four Indian representatives’ chances of re-contesting.

On allegations that he would be contesting both Prai state and the Batu Kawan parliamentary seats, he said:

“The state can nominate but it is the CEC that decides.”

He added that the vernacular press has been speculating on his candidacy for a long time now.

Zaid Ibrahim’s KITA opts out of polls, to back Pakatan

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — KITA, a party founded by former Umno-turned-PKR politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, announced today it will not be contesting in the coming polls and promised to offer its “unconditional support” to the federal opposition.

In a statement posted on its website today, the party said it had decided to reverse its earlier decision to contest in the polls as it wanted to maintain solidarity with the opposition and not jeopardise its chances.

“Whilst we disagree with some of the opposition’s policies, we believe that despite these shortcomings the opposition will not destroy racial harmony in Malaysia ... unity demands that smaller parties, such as ourselves, give way to larger political parties to ensure optimum results in the election,” it said.

The party also came out in defence of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) amid the ongoing barrage of Umno-led attacks against DAP as a “racist” party.

During the just-concluded Umno annual general meeting (AGM), delegates took turns to warn against DAP’s purported dominance in PR, claiming if the pact claims Putrajaya, the Malays would lose power to the Chinese.

Calling the accusations “dangerous and irresponsible”, KITA said the statements would only widen current divisions in society.

The Dubious Trial of Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar: Back to prison?
Two years later, the government’s case still looks manufactured
After nearly two years of conflicting and often suspect testimony, the so-called Sodomy II trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is scheduled to finish this week in a Kuala Lumpur High Court, with final summations by both sides.

It is a trial that has been condemned internationally by legal scholars and human rights activists as designed to take Anwar out of Malaysia’s political equation.

Political sources in Malaysia have been building several different scenarios. Given the tone of the trial so far, it appears likely that Anwar, the opposition leader of the three-party Pakatan Rakyat, will be convicted despite a vast number of prosecutorial missteps. That would probably make him a martyr in Malaysia because his followers – and many others – believe he is being railroaded into jail on false charges.

Under another scenario, the judge, acting under orders from the government, would declare him not guilty, which would be followed immediately by a prosecutorial appeal, which would keep Anwar embroiled in more months of legal entrapment that diverts time and energy away from leading the three-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition. It would also give the Malaysian judiciary a thin tissue of respectability.

A then-24-year-old aide, Mohamad Bukyairy Azlan Saiful, made the charge on June 29, 2008, shortly after Anwar had led Pakatan Rakyat coalition to a historic sweep of five Malaysian states, winning 82 parliamentary seats in 2008 national elections and breaking the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's two-thirds majority hold on parliament. He was arrested at his home on July 16 of that year, by a contingent of 10 carloads of police commandos and was locked up overnight in a Kuala Lumpur jail.

The trial, which began in February 2010, has been marred by what appear to be egregious prosecutorial errors and a long series of prejudicial rulings by High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohamad Diah. Critics say the proceedings appear certain to once again tarnish Malaysia’s reputation in international circles and play a role in destroying whatever confidence there was in the country’s legal system. The case has been condemned by the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, 60 members of the Australian parliament, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and prominent leaders from Commonwealth nations including Paul Martin of Canada and others.

From the very beginning, when Saiful sought to get doctors to certify that he had been sodomized, doubts began to surface. Saiful first went to a private hospital, where a doctor found no evidence of penetration and told him to go to a government hospital. At the first government hospital, doctors also told him they had found no evidence of tearing or scarring that would have indicated his anus had been penetrated. He was forced to go to a third government hospital where he finally found a physician willing to say the act had taken place.

In the intervening months, as the trial has droned on, an array other doubtful factors have made the case look like it was manufactured to rid the Malaysian political scene of one of its most charismatic figures, and that the country’s court system, never regarded as independent since former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad fired the Supreme Court in the 1980s, was bending over backwards to do the government’s bidding.

Gordon Trowell, in a report for the Inter-Parliamentary Union, pointed out that the charges had been levied just as Anwar was making a spectacular return to the political scene from a long period in the political wilderness following his first sodomy trial in 1999, when he was jailed for six years on charges that have been universally condemned as rigged.

Mistakes made over DNA samples call into question whether the evidence could survive in a rational court of law. Police officials have testified that Saiful didn’t offer to be tested for DNA samples until 56 hours after the alleged incident, and he said he hadn’t defecated during those two days, which could have corrupted the sample.

Other testimony indicated that the samples taken from Saiful were kept unguarded in a police office for 43 hours without refrigeration before they were turned over to the laboratory for analysis. Chemists testified that as many as 10 different DNA samples had been found in Saiful’s rear, making the whole analysis process suspect.

That any samples could be taken from Anwar is also questionable. Under Malaysian law at the time, suspects could refuse to give DNA samples. However, the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia’s parliament, passed a law repealing the consent requirement after Anwar’s arrest. In most courts, law cannot be applied retroactively.

Although Anwar refused to give a DNA sample, items issued to him during his overnight stay in jail were analyzed and a sample was found. Zabidin in March handed Anwar a major victory by throwing out the purported DNA evidence because it had been taken without his permission. However, a week later, after the prosecution demanded it, Zabidin reversed himself and said the evidence could after all be entered into the court despite the retroactive nature of the law.

Then there is the series of meetings that Saiful has acknowledged in court, at the home of then-Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, on June 24, 2008, two days before the alleged sodomy took place and others with Rosmah's close confidant, the former track star Mumtaz Jaafar, as well.

Saiful also acknowledged meeting secretly twice with Rodwan Mohd Yusof, a senior assistant police commissioner, before the alleged offence took place. Rodwan became famous, or infamous, in Anwar's 1998 Sodomy I trial when he illegally removed Anwar's DNA samples from forensic custody and planted them on a mattress allegedly used by Anwar for a homosexual dalliance. To protect the integrity of the prosecution's case, the presiding judge, Augustine Paul, expunged the entire DNA evidence at the time.

There is also the question of entrapment. Saiful testified that on the day in question he had taken lubricant with him to Anwar’s condominium – hardly the act of an innocent aide who had no idea that the then 63-year-old Anwar was about to jump him for unnatural sex. Surveillance cameras in filmed the former aide in a lift in the building but Anwar said he was having a meeting with a group of economists at the time Saiful allegedly showed up.

But the fact that Saiful went to the condo with lubricant in his pocket, whether he got in or not, is ample indication that he intended to try to lure the opposition leader into a compromising position. It would be questionable whether he tried to do that on his own, and it would dovetail rather smoothly with his meetings with Najib, Rosmah, and the law enforcement officials who put Anwar in jail in 1999.

Trowell in his report called pointed out a flock of other discrepancies. Abdul Gani Patail, the main prosecutor in the 1998 sodomy proceedings that were thoroughly discredited, has been involved in the present case at a time when he was being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency following allegations of fabricating evidence.

There was an “almost systematic rejection of all defense applications for disclosure of prosecution evidence, which it would need in order to mount the defense,”

There was also the fact that Saiful was having a sexual liaison with Farah Azlina Latif, a female member of the prosecution team, which should have further disqualified him as a complaining witness.

The defense and prosecution have both finished presenting evidence and the opposing sides are scheduled to submit their oral summaries on Dec. 8 and 9. After that the judge will probably take a month or so to deliver his decision. If convicted, Anwar is certain to appeal. Whether he will be allowed bail will again remains to be seen. The process will thus probably go on for an indefinite period.

Unfortunately, what the evidence has shown most clearly is not that Anwar was guilty or not guilty of having what the government termed “unnatural consensual sex” with his former aide. It is rather that the trial was skewed so badly in the government’s favor that the opposition leader demonstrably did not get a fair trial.

Chua: Be clear on hudud

The Star
WANI MUTHIAH, FLORENCE A . SAMY and JOSEPH KAOS Jr at the ‘Hudud and its Implications on Non-Muslims in Malaysia’ forum in Kuala Lumpur

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has challenged Pakatan Rakyat to include its stand on hudud and its implementation in its general election manifesto and common agenda.

Pakatan, especially PAS, he said, should be transparent in its stand.

“Right now, there are conflicting signals from Pakatan leaders. Hudud should be in their common agenda since they always never do anything without consulting their partners.

“If the rakyat votes for PAS, DAP or PKR knowing full well that they will implement hudud law, then we should respect it as it is the voters' choice,” he said at a forum entitled “Hudud and its Implications on Non-Muslims in Malaysia” yesterday.

Dr Chua lambasted DAP for its contradictory stand and for misleading the Chinese community, especially with its “agreeing to disagree” statement.

“On one hand, DAP says it opposes hudud. On the other hand, in the last general election and subsequent by-elections, DAP campaigned vigorously to ensure the PAS candidate won,” he said at the forum organised by MCA's Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research.

The forum was moderated by Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee.

Dr Chua reiterated MCA's opposition to hudud and its implementation, adding that hudud law would adversely affect both Muslims and non-Muslims.

“It is a lie that it will not affect us. We have the right to talk about it as it does affect us.

“We do not accept hudud and its implementation in a multi-racial country,” he said.

Explaining the ramifications, Dr Chua said that the implementation of hudud law would affect the country's foreign direct investment, revenue as well as rights of non-Muslims, including gambling and drinking activities.

He dismissed claims by Pakatan that hudud law could not be implemented even if it came into power but did not have two-thirds majority.

He said Muslim MPs from both sides of the divide would be forced to support the Bill although they might not agree with the implementation as hudud was part of Islam.

Dr Chua pointed out that hudud law could not be implemented without amending the Federal Constitution.

“How then can the rights and freedom of non-Muslims be safeguarded? Which court will have jurisdiction which involves both Muslims and non-Muslims as hudud law cannot exist without the existence of Islamic law?'' he asked.

In his closing address, Dr Chua urged non-Muslims to reject the implementation of hudud law because it had great implications on them.

“We also heard the panellists say that the PAS version of hudud does not represent the true essence of Islam.

“Malaysians must make a choice of either choosing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's vision of a high-income nation by 2020 or a failed state run under hudud law,” he added.

On Saturday, Dr Chua had said in Malacca that he had no problem having a public debate on hudud with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng provided the latter answered two questions first.

He said Lim must first explain to the people if he could ensure the implementation of hudud law would not affect the non-Muslims.

Second, he said Lim must explain if the implementation of hudud law would affect the norms and life- style in Malaysia, especially the economic, education and social system aspects.

Bar Council, Suhakam say A-G glossed over street protest ban

The Malaysian Insider
by Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Putrajaya’s speed in passing a new law that bans street demonstrations has stunned the Bar Council and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) who revealed they were given a far different account of its contents at the draft stage.

The two statutory bodies disclosed too that Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had sought their views over the controversial Peaceful Assembly Bill but failed to provide them with written copies of the draft before its tabling in Parliament last November 22.

“The Bar Council was not given a copy of the Peaceful Assembly Bill during the consultation stage,” its president Lim Chee Wee told The Malaysian Insider when contacted over the weekend.

He said there were good reasons why the copy was not provided, but could not disclose these because they had sworn to keep it confidential.

It was read out to us, and even then there were differences between the two versions, during consultation and what was tabled in Parliament. Notably, during consultation we were told assemblies in motion were allowed,” he said.

Assemblies in motion, better known as street demonstrations, are barred under the new law to replace section 27 of the Police Act.

It is one of the most controversial aspects of the new law, which was hastened after Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s government was globally panned for its harsh treatment of thousands of demonstrators in the Bersih 2.0 street rally seeking to pressure the prime minister for cleaner and more honest elections.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan, who also attended the consultation meeting, clarified that the A-G had “glossed over” some aspects in explaining the new law.

The A-G, who prohibited street protests but told the Bar Council he was referring to “riots”, created a more positive impression of the new law, said Syahredzan.

“A riot is not a peaceful assembly, so we could understand why it was prohibited,” said Syahredzan, who helms the Bar’s constitutional law committee.

He added his Bar Council colleagues did not push the government for a black-and-white because they were given the impression there would be further meetings held to “fine tune” the draft.

“We didn’t think it would be tabled so soon. The meeting was two to three weeks; definitely less than one month before the tabling,” he said.

The Bar Council, which represents some 12,000 practising lawyers in the private sector, was taken aback at the government’s haste in pushing the Bill through in the Dewan Rakyat on November 29, just a week after it was tabled.

Lim, who led a lawyers’ march to protest the Bill on the day it was tabled, has urged the government against bulldozing through the plan and urged the Najib administration to set up a parliamentary panel to seek further public consultation.

His proposal has also been picked up by other groups, including Suhakam, whose chief Tan Sri Hasmy Agam has been very critical of the new law.
“Having perused the provisions of the Bill, the Commission is of the considered opinion that amendments to some of the provisions of the Bill must be made to ensure that the right of the people to express themselves through peaceful public assemblies is protected and can be expressed in a manner that meaningly reflects the essence of that right,” he said to The Malaysian Insider in an email.

Hasmy said Suhakam commissioners had two brief meetings with the A-G at the latter’s insistence.

He said it was during the second meeting there were exchanges of views on “elements” of the draft Bill (with the A-G reading portions of but without giving us the text of the draft Bill) during which Suhakam, in its responses, had made it very clear that the provisions of the Bill must be in conformity with universally accepted standards and principles on the concept of "freedom of assembly".

 “Clearly, much of what the Commission had stressed during those two meetings were not taken on board in the final drafting of the Bill,” he said.

The assembly law proposal passed from the Dewan Rakyat to the Dewan Negara on November 29 by the BN votes after the entire Pakatan Rakyat pact staged a walkout.

EC Pledge To Have Most Up-To-Date Electoral Rolls

KUALA TERENGGANU, Dec 6 (Bernama) -- The Election Commission (EC) today pledged to make available a most up-to-date electoral rolls for the next general election.

Its deputy chairman, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, said the EC was working with the National Registration Department to remove from the rolls the names of people who have died.

"The EC has all along given serious attention to cleaning up the electoral rolls," he told reporters after a briefing session for returning officers, assistant returning officers and election assistants in Terengganu, here.

"The process of cleaning up the rolls is a daily process," he said.

Wan Ahmad said the number of registered voters for the whole country now was about 12.4 million.

He advised people who have yet to register as voters to do so now so that they will get to exercise their right in the next general election.

He said that for the next general election, the EC would set up 342 polling centres in Terengganu, 332 of them in school buildings.

He also said that the EC would set up 1,145 polling streams and appoint more than 9,000 election workers, the majority of them teachers who have had the experience of serving in past elections.

Wan Ahmad said the election budget for Terengganu would be RM6.5 million from the total national budget of RM300 million for the next general election.