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Friday, December 16, 2011

Horrors of sexual abuse in conflict-stricken FATA

" A security officer forced me to have sex in exchange for cooking oil and pulses," 22-year-old Pashmeena.
PESHAWAR:  Kashmala Bibi* says her cousin’s breasts were cut into pieces when five militants walked into their house and saw the woman breastfeeding her child. One of the insurgents then asked the other women around to eat the pieces.
This is one of the many tales of horror recorded in a report titled “Impact of crisis on women and girls in Fata”.
The report, released by human rights organisation “Khwendo Kor” (Sisters’ Home in Pashto) with financial support from UN-women, is based on case studies of women from the tribal belt living in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s IDP camps.
Women in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are more susceptible to violence and abuse in a post-conflict scenario, whether or not they are part of the conflict, it says.
Another stark revelation made in the report is that women in camps were forced to have sexual intercourse in exchange for food and non-food items. Girls and widows were at greater risk.
The surveys from Nahqai and Jalozai camps further show that women were uncomfortable going to restrooms because there was little privacy as men constantly lurked around.
“A security officer forced me to have sex in exchange for cooking oil and pulses when I was collecting food at the main entrance of the camp,” a 22-year-old woman Nighat* from the Jalozai Camp is quoted as telling the discussion group.
The report claims that there was an increase in honour killings in which women were first raped and since the rape was considered a disgrace to the family, they were later murdered.
Forced marriages, honour killings, exchange of women between tribes and marriages with first cousins resulting in disabilities of offspring have made the women in the tribal areas increasingly dependent. The role of women in society has decreased from 39% to 19%.
Akhunzada Chattan, an MNA from the Bajaur tribal region, says that certain rituals practiced with the veneration of religion have deprived women of their rights.
“In Bajaur, the area that I come from, usury is not something against which the cleric will stand up, but if a woman demands her share of property she is stigmatised as culturally blasphemous,” he says.
The amendments to the Frontier Crimes Regulation have not significantly helped. Even now women first have to go through a jirga to seek justice. The jirga then decides how to proceed. “Women in Fata cannot directly appeal to any court of law,” says Chattan while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Maryam Bibi, the woman behind the project, who belongs to Jani Khel (FR) Bannu, says the findings of the report are based on ground realities.  “Although it is hard to digest the facts, this is what the women have to go through. Someone has to speak for change.”
(Read: Safer times)
*Names have been changed to protect privacy
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2011.

Perkasa leads 1,000 in protest against Felda DG

Bad batch of moonshine kills at least 125 in India

A family member comforts her relative, who fell ill after consuming bootleg liquor, inside a hospital at Diamond Harbour, a town about 50km south of West Bengal’s capital Kolkata, December 15, 2011. – Reuters pic
MOGRAHAT, India, Dec 15 — An adulterated batch of bootleg liquor has killed at least 125 drinkers in eastern India, with dozens more arriving at a cramped rural hospital with poisoning symptoms. The deaths come just days after a hospital fire killed 93 people in the same state of West Bengal. Both disasters highlight lax health and safety standards as the nation of 1.2 billion people rapidly modernises.
Residents of Mograhat, a town about 50km south of West Bengal’s capital Kolkata, fell severely ill after drinking liquor from several illegal shops. Ambulances brought more patients from villages to the town every few minutes today.
“He drank the alcohol late in the afternoon yesterday...we didn’t realise his health was deteriorating,” Zamir Sardar said about his 32-year-old uncle Jahangir Sardar, a leather cutter, who passed away today.
“In the morning, his condition seemed very unusual, he cried out in pain. Then we brought him to the hospital as soon as we could, but he passed away within a couple of hours,” he told Reuters today.
The victims were mostly poor labourers, rickshaw drivers and hawkers, the news channel CNN-IBN reported. It put the death toll at 131 people.
Half-conscious patients were carried into hospitals on stretchers, and treated on the floor as there were not enough beds.
A senior hospital official, who did not want to be quoted by name, said patients were in critical condition. “More and more victims are coming. Many are waiting for treatment, but with a lack of beds it’ll take time to manage,” the official told Reuters by phone.
Mass deaths from drinking moonshine are common in India, where the poor often drink “country liquor” which is cheaper than alcohol from licensed shops. — Reuters 

New theory: Saiful’s ‘plastic’ self-sodomy

Calling the accuser as the 'puppet' in the plot, Anwar's defence team claims Saiful had inserted a plastic object into his anus to make it seem like he had been sodomised.

KUALA LUMPUR: Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan has been accused of using a plastic object to injure his anus to make it seem as though he was sexually assaulted.

This was the new theory put forward by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s defence lawyer Sankara Nair during his closing submissions at the High Court this morning.

Sankara said this was a plausible reason why Saiful mentioned that he was assaulted with a plastic object to the first doctor who examined him — Dr Mohamad Osman Abdul Hamid, who was then with the Pusrawi Hospital.

Sankara submitted that Saiful had done so on the advise of police officer SAC Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof, whom he described as the “puppeteer”, while he called the former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan, the “director” of the political conspiracy against Anwar.

“In this sordid episode… the puppeteer is SAC Rodwan and by extension behind Rodwan is Musa Hassan, the director… the puppet is Saiful,” he said.

The plastic object issue had been debated during the trial as it affected the credibility of Saiful as a witness.

As a defence witness, Dr Osman had testified that Saiful told him about being assaulted with a plastic object, which he had joted down in his his medical notes. Saiful had previously denied telling Dr Osman about the plastic object and accused the doctor of lying.

Sankara today attempted to answer the question of “why would Saiful mention ‘assault by plastic’?”, explaining that: “One plausible view is that he was well advised by Rodwan on June 24, 2008 to use a plastic object to cause injury to his anus – to make it seem consistent with proof of penetration.”

“That was why Saiful, after attempting to injure his anus with a plastic, did not go to Hospital Kuala Lumpur straight away to make the allegation but instead went ‘doctor shopping’ to first ascertain whether he succeeded in causing some injury to his anus,” he said.

Sankara claimed that Saiful’s “modus operandi” was to pretend to complain of “tenesmus, constipation and pain in the anus when passing motion so that he could get a doctor to examine his anus to see whether there were injuries.”

“It is worth noting that he employed the same modus operandi at both Pusrawi and HKL, by at the first instance complaining about pain when passing motion and later alleging sodomy,” he said.

Dr Osman had previously testified that Saiful complained of being sodomised only after he had finished the examination, and after telling the latter that his anal condition was normal and good.

“Being somewhat disappointed and astounded that Dr Osman found no injuries… this must have then caused Saiful to mutter aloud about the ‘plastic’ (assault) which then led to Dr Osman recording it contemporaneously,” said Sankara.

KY Gel theory

The lawyer said when Dr Osman’s examinations were negative, Saiful had no choice but to seek another opinion, while he went missing between 4pm and 6pm, “possibly to get further instructions”.

“This ties in well with our KY Gel theory because unfortunately for him the plastic injury plan did not work out.

“It is submitted that the whole plot started after the meeting with SAC Rodwan on June 24. Saiful was asked to find an opportunity to be seen or to be in contact with Anwar on a possible one-to-one situation to be able to make the allegation and being asked to go to Unit 1151 of the Desa Damansara condo was the opportune moment and he seized it,” he added.

During the trial, Saiful had testified that he had contacted both Musa and Rodwan over the alleged sodomy incidents before lodging a police report on June 26.

Sankara said since the plan to self-injure did not work, the prosecution later produced the KY Gel as a method to explain why Saiful had no injuries in his anus.

He submitted that the prosecution’s earlier allegation that Dr Osman had added the word “plastic” later was “ludicrous and defied logic”.

“The prosecution says Anwar got to Dr Osman on June 28, or soon after that and got him to insert the plastic story. This is a preposterous story as Anwar never knew Dr Osman. How can that be? Unless Anwar was a fantastic ‘Tok Nujum’ (fortune teller) who can predict or foresee things in advance,” he said.

After hearing submissions from both defence and prosecution, High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah said he would deliver his verdict on Jan 9.

Additional exco post for Indians in Selangor?

An additional exco seat will be the best move to reach out to the Indian community, says Selangor MIC secretary K Parthiban.
UPDATED
PETALING JAYA: In an attempt to win the hearts and minds of Indian voters, the Barisan Nasional (BN) is planning to give an additional state executive council (exco) seat in Selangor.
The ruling coalition would also promise an Indian-held exco seat for Indians in Pahang.
“In total, Selangor will have one extra Indian exco seat, making it two Indian exco members in the state while Pahang would have an Indian exco member. The Pahang’s exco is new.
“We expect this to be contained in the BN’s manifesto for the next general election,” a reliable source told FMT.
Prime Minister and BN chief Najib Tun Razak, the source said, has already promised the additional exco post for Indians in Selangor in his meeting with BN Indian leaders.
“But this is provided the BN takes back Selangor. He (Najib) also intends to push for an Indian exco post in his home state in Pahang. These strategies are in the pipeline and is expected to be announced during the campaign period for the next general election.
“This is BN effort to woo Indian voters,” he said, adding that the BN realised that it would need the votes of the community to retain power at the coming general election.
The source said Najib was “very sensitive” to the plight of the Indian community and would offer the best to rope in the votes.
More inclusive politics
Selangor has one of the largest Indian concentrations in terms of population, constituting 13 percent of the total 5.5 million people in the state.
MIC, a BN component party and the largest Indian-based political party in the country, has over nearly three decades asked the ruling BN to allocate an extra exco seat in the state.
“At the 2008 general election, the Indians were frustrated… they wanted their voice to be heard. They deserted the BN for the first time. Although Pakatan Rakyat had a golden opportunity to remedy BN’s mistake, it failed to capitalise on it.
“If Najib’s promise is kept, then many Indians, if not all, will return to the BN fold. Only a small number might remain with Pakatan,” said the source.
For the Pahang exco seat, Najib is expected to direct Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob to allocate an extra exco post for Indians.
The Pahang state exco was increased from eight members to 10 in 1995. Indians hoped that an Indian could be accommodated in the enlarged exco. But this hope was dashed when the state government appointed two Umno leaders to the posts.
When contacted, Selangor MIC secretary K Parthiban said it was high time that the state had two Indian exco members.
“If the news is true, it’s most welcomed. An additional exco seat will be the best move to reach out to the Indian community and promote a more inclusive politics,” he added.
Pahang MIC Youth wing chief K Sivakumar said that the state exco post was no more a state issue but a national concern as it would convince Indians in other states that BN was indeed concerned about their plight.
MIC veep welcomes additional slots

Meanwhile, MIC vice president SK Devamany welcomed any decision by the BN to give an extra exco position in Selangor and a new slot in Pahang.
“This reflects the prime minister’s aspirations to do more for the Indian community. The exco slots are important to ensure the Indian community are not left behind as the nation progresses economically,” he told FMT.
He added that it was important for the Indian community to have a second exco slot in Selangor to cater for the increasing number of Indian population in the state.
“And the new exco slot in Pahang, when given, is a culmination of efforts put by MIC for a long time to get a representative in the state government. It will be a recognition for the work done by our elected representatives,” said the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
He added that the Indian support was returning to the BN and this was largely due to the hard work put in by Prime Minister Najib.

Jerit disputes tycoon’s statement on Tumbuk estate

Housing issue would not have arisen if G-Team had delivered on its promise to the estate workers in 2010, says Arutchelvan.

PETALING JAYA: Oppressed People’s Network’s (Jerit) founder-member S Arutchelvan disputed G-Team Resources Sdn Bhd’s explanation on the controversy surounding Tumbuk Estate near Banting.
He said that there would not be an issue if G-Team Resources had kept to its promise to provide housing for the estate workers.
“The fundamental issue is that Maika Holdings Bhd signed an agreement in 2006 with the Tumbuk estate workers where they were supposed to build houses for them by 2010.
“G-Team then took over all the properties of Maika Holdings, including Tumbuk Estate, in 2010. If the houses had been delivered as promised, the water issue wouldn’t arise.
“The problem with Maika Holdings then and G-Team now is that they did not fulfil their promise,” said Arutchelvan, who is also Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s secretary-general.
Arutchelvan was responding to a FMT’s report where G-Team Resources’ owner G Gnanalingam claimed his company was not responsible for the water cuts in Tumbuk Estate.
Gnanalingam said G-Team Resources did not sign the initial agreement in 2006 with the residents, represented by the National Union of Plantation Workers and Maika Holdings.
The dozen or so estate workers have been facing cuts since November and they had alleged that G-Team was responsible for their predicament.
Arutchelvan said that the company should be responsible for all issues when it took over Tumbuk Estate from Maika Holdings.
“G-Team was advised by Labour Department (under the Human Resources Ministry) to settle outstanding water bills which it had refused.
He added that even the previous Maika Holdings CEO S Vell Paari had been consistent in paying for the water supply.
‘Pressured to accept the payment’
Arutchelvan disputed G-Team’s claim that the outstanding water bill stood at RM16,000 when in fact it is RM4,500 and the supply could have been reconnected if they paid just RM2,000.
“The Labour Department will testify that the amount was around RM4,500,” he said, adding that the state government will not approve development plans as long as there are outstanding issues on Tumbuk Estate.
He said that the G-Team did not heed the advice of the Selangor water supplier, Syabas, to settle the water bill.
Arutchelvan also dismissed claims by Gnanalingam that the workers had declined the land and houses that G-Team had offered in 2010 as a deliberate “distortion”.
On claims that 14 of the 22 workers had received RM25,000 along with an ex-gratia payment of RM201,000, he said that many had been pressured to accept the payment.
He also disputed the events that transpired at a meeting that was held in Selangor exco member Xavier Jayakumar’s office.
Gnanalingam had claimed that Jayakumar agreed to accept the decision of the majority who took up the offer.
“Jerit cannot be blamed because G-Team’s representative, Tamil Selvam, walked out of the meeting before it had ended.
“Tamil Selvam also on many occasions during the meeting said that G-Team was no longer in the picture and that he himself had ceased to be a representative of G-Team.
“This can be confirmed by the Labour Department officers,” said Arutchelvan.

Taking the DNBN Kuburkan BN initiative to the Malay heartlands

Over the last one month, in a stealth exercise, more than 200,000 copies of a DNBN KUBURKAN BN DI PRU13 documentary have been distributed to our Pakcik2, Makcik2 and Adik2 in the kampungs throughout Malaya.
For some time now, we have realised that even as many of us are able to get at the truth as to what is happening in our country, our brothers and sisters in the Malay heartlands, on a daily basis, are fed doses and doses of lies, fear mongering, divisive reports and hate rhetoric by the main stream media.
With a view to countering this, over the last 7 months, a team has worked to put together a video documentary to deliver a message to the kampungs : that if we are to save this nation, UMNO and BN must be removed from Putrajaya nad buried.

Read more

Siapa ikhlas? Siapa sayang Rakyat?

TAKUT

1. Kita semua tahu takut. Kita takut sakit. Kita takut kehilangan mereka yang disayangi. Kita takut dicedera atau dibunuh orang. Kita takut iman digugat. Kita takut mati. Kita takut dan kita patut takut. Sedikit sebanyak ia menyelamat kita.

2. Tetapi kadang-kadang kita takut kepada yang kita tidak patut takut. Kita takut gelap. Kita takut makhluk yang sebenarnya tidak wujud melainkan dalam fikiran kita atau dari cerita-cerita yang kita dengar, terutama semasa kecil.

3. Ramai kita orang Melayu percaya ada manusia yang mempunyai kelebihan tertentu – mampu meresap, menghilangkan diri. Dan kita takut kepada mereka ini.

4. Semasa saya kecil saya dengar kononnya orang Siam mempunyai “ilmu” tertentu. Mereka bukan sahaja boleh meresap tetapi mereka kebal dan tidak boleh ditikam. Ada yang berkata tembak dengan peluru pun tak tembus. Mereka juga boleh membuat perempuan gila kepada mereka.

5. Di Kedah peperangan sering berlaku dengan Siam (Thai) di zaman dahulu. Tentera Sultan amat takut kepada askar Siam. Mereka yakin mereka tidak boleh kalahkan tentera Siam kerana mereka itu kebal, boleh meresap. Kononnya kadang-kadang mereka boleh terbang dan tiba-tiba berada di belakang.

6. Maka anggota pasukan Melayu pun baca doa macam-macam. Namun mereka tidak dapat mengatasi ketakutan mereka. Belum pun bertempur dengan pasukan perang Siam, mereka sudah yakin mereka akan kalah.

7. Dan mereka pun kalah kerana tidak percaya mereka boleh menang. Mereka tidak pun dapat mempertahankan diri mereka. Mereka kaku disebabkan ketakutan. Dan askar Siam boleh menyembelih mereka.

8. Yang lain melarikan diri, tidak berani mengadap orang kebal, boleh meresap, boleh tiba-tiba berdiri di atas pokok di belakang pasukan Melayu.

9. Demikian apabila kita takut dengan “bayang-bayang” kepercayaan kita sendiri. Adalah mustahil sesiapa boleh kebal, atau meresap (menghilangkan diri). Sedangkan Nabi tidak kebal dan luka dalam peperangan Jabal Uhud, apakah Tuhan memberi kelebihan kepada musuh orang Melayu dan orang Islam.

10. Mungkinkah ada makhluk yang berkuasa seperti Allah s.w.t. Sekarang ada orang kebal apabila memakai baju kalis peluru. Tetapi askar Siam di zaman dahulu tidak pakai baju kalis peluru. Jika mereka ditikam atau ditembak mereka akan cedera dan akan mati. Tetapi mereka kebal kerana dengan ketakutan kita, kita tidak terdaya menikam atau menembak mereka. Kalau tembak pun, kerana gigil dalam ketakutan, peluru tidak kena sasaran. Ini kononnya bukti mereka kebal.

11. Tetapi ini cerita lama. Apa guna saya bangkit perkara ini. Sebabnya saya masih dengar askar kita ada menghadapi orang yang berpakaian serba putih yang boleh terbang. Dan mereka jadi takut. Apabila askar diserang ketakutan, mereka tidak lagi dapat menjalankan tugas mereka.

12. Kita juga kerap mendengar cerita orang halus, toyol, hantu, pelesit dan berbagai lagi. Kes hilang akal (hysteria) kerap berlaku di kalangan murid perempuan Melayu di asrama.

13. Apa yang berlaku ialah pada malam hari mereka berkumpul dan mencerita berkenaan hantu atau sesuatu yang menakutkan. Mendengar cerita mereka berasa gerun dan ternampak bayang bergerak seolah ada makhluk di samping mereka. Apabila di pandang tidak ada apa-apa. Seorang dari mereka akan menjerit ketakutan. Dan yang lain akan turut sama. Dan jadilah fenomena hysteria beramai-ramai.

14. Sebenarnya kita biasa melihat gerakan di hujung mata (peripheral vision) dan apabila kita beralih untuk melihat, didapati tidak ada apa-apa. Ini adalah fenomena biasa.

15. Saya malu kenapa hysteria terjadi kepada anak Melayu yang semuanya beragama Islam. Agama kita menegah kepercayaan kepada makhluk yang mempunyai kuasa yang hampir dengan Allah s.w.t.

16. Diwaktu rusuhan kaum 13 Mei 1969, rami orang Melayu yang mencari ubat kebal. Di Alor Star terdapat seorang bomoh Indonesia yang kononnya boleh memberi kekebalan kepada sesiapa hanya dengan memasukan jarun “emas” ke dalam badan.
17. Saya pergi untuk melihat bagaimana bomoh ini dapat melakukan sesuatu yang ajaib. Seorang yang dikenali oleh saya telah “dirawat” dengan memasuk jarum “emas” kepada badannya.

18. Selepas ini dia diuji dengan ditetak oleh bomoh dengan pedang di belakangnya. Terlihat luka yang cetek yang berdarah sedikit sahaja walaupun ditetak dengan amat kuat.

19. Kemudian dia ditetak dibahagian perutnya. Luka yang sama di lihat. Dia kemudian memepak kaca lampu elektrik tanpa mulutnya berdarah.

20. Mereka yang lihat dan saya juga kagum dengan kekebalan beliau. Saya jemput supaya beliau datang ke klinik saya keesokan hari.

21. Apabila dia datang saya bertanya bolehkah saya cucuk jarum kedalam badannya. Dia mendakwa jarum tak mungkin masuk kerana dia tidak mengizinkannya.

22. Saya cucuk dan jarum masuk seperti biasa. Dia tidak kebal.

23. Tidak ada orang yang kebal. Mereka yang berjalan atas bara api dan dicucuk dengan besi tajam pun tidak kebal.

24. Dalam Islam ada jin dan iblis. Mereka merasuk fikiran kita supaya membuat apa yang dilarang. Dalam Islam tidak disebut tentang hantu, pelesit, toyol dan sebagainya. Semua ini berasas kepada kepercayaan di zaman pra-Islam.

25. Kita dapati ramai yang gemar mendengar cerita seram. Menyedari akan kegemaran ini banyaklah filem yang dibuat sekitar hantu, toyol dan makhluk luar biasa yang menakutkan. Filem seperti ini sering ditunjuk di TV dan pawagam.

26. Mungkin pengeluar filem seram ini mendapat keuntungan. Tetapi cerita-cerita seperti ini tidak menolong remaja menolak kepercayaan kepada yang karut yang tidak membina peribadi yang baik. Kes-kes hysteria ada kaitan dengan kepercayaan yang karut.

27. Menjadi penakut memalukan. Bangsa yang penakut tidak boleh dibanggakan. Janganlah kita sengaja menjadikan bangsa kita bangsa penakut. Sebaliknya cubalah supaya bangsa kita jadi lebih berani. Ahli-ahli politik pun tak usahlah cari bomoh kerana ingin menang. Bukan bomoh yang boleh beri kemenangan. Budi yang baik, tingkah laku yang sopan, keperihatinan akan masalah yang dihadapi rakyat yang boleh memberi kemenangan dan kejayaan.

28. Melayu mempunyai banyak sebab-sebab yang menghalang kejayaan mereka. Tidaklah perlu kita tambah halangan terhadap kejayaan mereka dengan kepercayaan kepada yang karut-karut.

Anwar: Saya akan lawan demi keadilan, tak kira apa keputusan

 

KUALA LUMPUR, 15 Dis — Selepas pernah berada di penjara selama enam tahun, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim bertekad akan terus berjuang demi keadilan tidak kisah bakal keputusan kes liwat, yang akan diumumkan 9 Januari depan.

“Ia tidak berbeza, di penjara ataupun di luar, saya akan berjuang untuk keadilan,” kata beliau kepada pemberita di kompleks mahkamah Jalan Duta di sini, di akhir sesi penggulungan kes peringkat pembelaan, tengah hari ini.

Ketua Pembangkang ini menambah, beliau pernah melalui kehidupan di penjara dan mendapati ia bukan sesuatu yang sukar untuk dilalui.

Anwar (gambar), bekas timbalan perdana menteri, telah dikenakan hukuman penjara atas kesalahan liwat dan salah guna kuasa selepas dipecat pada 1998. Beliau dibebaskan pada 2004.

Bagaimanapun pemimpin berusia 64 tahun ini berkata kenyataan beliau tidak harus dianggap sebagai satu kekalahan.

“Ia bukan satu persoalan secara sukarela mahu ke penjara. Untuk apa sebab? Sebab saya memutuskan untuk tidak menyertai semula Umno, sebab saya memutuskan untuk melawan mereka atas sifat rasis dan dasar-dasar tidak adil mereka?” katanya.

Jakim used to create false fear over non-Muslim threat, says Mat Zain

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — Former senior police officer Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim today berated Datuk Seri Najib Razak for allegedly “misusing” the country’s religious authorities to create false fear over threats by non-Muslims against Islam and the Malay rulers.

He told the prime minister in an email released to the media that such threats only come from the Malays and Muslims themselves, adding that he has “never experienced or known of” situations where the non-Malays came together to conspire against anyone.

“The ones who dare to be rude and rebel in such a manner against him (Ruler) come from among the Malays themselves,” he wrote.

The outspoken ex-KL CID chief even singled out Umno politicians as those who often squabble among themselves “not due to differences in opinion or to protect the fates and futures of the Malays or uphold Islamic teachings but to fight over millions and billions of the people’s money”.

“Do not, YAB Datuk Seri (Najib) create issues that could create havoc among us as Malays, just to divert attention away from your personal problems and those who surround you.

“The people know that YAB (Najib) is currently going through a period of instability and uncertainty, confusion and worry. But this does not mean YAB and your personal advisers are fit to misuse a certain government institution to present a Friday sermon like the one recited last week,” he said.

The sermon, delivered at all mosques last Friday and prepared by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), suggested that the position of Islam and the royal institution was being questioned because Muslims were selling out the religion to “certain quarters” which it did not name.

It appeared to note that Muslims who associate with non-Muslims or stand up for non-Muslim causes were betraying their faith, and echoed some of the racially divisive views espoused at the recent Umno general assembly.

A copy of the sermon — sighted by The Malaysian Insider — also seemed to hit out at Muslims who “conspire with certain groups in questioning Islam as the official religion in this country on the excuse of defending the fundamental rights of others” for personal gain.

It described those Muslims as “deviating from the teachings” of Prophet Muhammad, as well as “committing a big sin, oppressing Muslims and threatening national harmony” in the sermon that was to mark the end of Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin’s five year reign as Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.

“Remember, if Muslims lose their integrity, their pride and are manipulated by others, in the end, Islam in this country will suffer the same fate that has befallen other nations where their people were insulted and driven from the country of their birth,” it said.

The sermon did not directly refer to any one person in particular but appeared to echo the political rhetoric heard at the Umno general assembly last week.

Slamming the sermon, Mat Zain told Najib that its words could cause chaos among the country’s religious communities and among the Muslims.

“We are not worried about fights between the Malays and non-Malays or between Muslims and Christians or those of other fates. This is unlikely to happen in this country is the Muslims do not start it.

“What we should fear is a clash between the Malays and the Muslims... the Felda Lubuk Merbau and Memali incidents (in 1985), if they are repeated, would injure the Malays and Muslims multiple times more,” he said.

Lee: No restrictions on religious gatherings

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Freedom for religious gatherings in Malaysia is gua­ranteed under the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 which was passed last month, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong said.

He denied that the Bill, which was hotly debated in the Dewan Rakyat, had more restrictions than what is being regulated under existing laws.

“For a street demonstration, you do not need to apply for a permit but notify the police 10 days ahead so they can guarantee the safety of members of the public involved.

“It is the Government’s intention to allow more freedom to the people (to hold public gatherings). To say that there will be more restrictions is not true,” Lee said after opening the Giving Art Exhibition for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia here yesterday.

He was asked to comment on the allegations by two churches in Klang last week that they were asked by the police to submit details of participants in house-to-house carolling visits.

Lee clarified that no permit was needed.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar has advised the public to inform the police of any procession to facilitate security planning.

Deadline To Sign Public Service New Renumeration Scheme Stays

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 15 (Bernama) -- The deadline to return signed offer letters of the Public Service New Renumeration Scheme (SBPA) on 30 December will not be extended, said Public Service Department director-general Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdullah.

However, he said the offer, which was opened today, would only be extended to civil servants on reasonable grounds like being ill or away overseas.

According to him, if the period was extended, it would not be fair to civil servants who receive their annual increments in January or those at maximum salary levels, he told Bernama when contacted here.

Abu Bakar also said the time period given for civil servants to make their selection whether to choose the SBPA or remain with the old scheme, was sufficient.

"I feel whether the period is short or not is up to the respective employee to decide. It is up to them to accept or reject the offer," he said.

He said he also hoped civil servants would make the decision for their own benefit and not to be influenced by any quarters.

Abu Bakar said those who did not accept the SBPA option would stay in the old scheme and would not receive any improvements to the existing scheme.

He also said individuals who join the civil service from January 1 next year would automatically be placed under SBPA.

He added that civil servants who were still not clear about the SBPA could contact the SBPA hotline from 8.30am to 9pm on working days beginning today.

They can contact 03-8885 3293 to enquire about pension and retirement; personnel organisational development and the service scheme at (03-8885 3072); service performance policy and prospects (03-8885 3201/03-8885 3227); allowances, salary and leave and medical benefits (03-8885 3232) while enquiries for other services can be obtained by calling 03-8885 3283.

Civil servants can also direct their enquiries on SBPA to the human resource division in their respective agencies or ministries.

"The PSD is also organising a road tour at the federal and state levels to provide information in the SBPA to civil servants. Today, we are having a briefing in Sabah," he said.

Nazri’s ‘free advice’ to Guan Eng

Minister in the PM’s Department Nazri Aziz has given some free advice to Guan Eng – don’t pay too much attention to the views of NGOs and environmentalists.

Let me try and guess why he’s giving this advice at this point.
Could this have something to do with mega projects in the pipeline for Penang? And the local concerns that have been or will be expressed about their social, environmental, traffic and hydrological impact?
NGOs and environmentalists are always calling for independent impact assessments by recognised experts to ensure that development is sustainable and won’t adversely affect local communities.
Now that GLCs (or the listed companies that they have an interest or stake in) are showing interest in certain mega projects in Penang …
Ah, seen in this light, maybe we can better understand Nazri’s ‘free advice’.