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Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Al Jazeera slavery debate

Watch our panel of experts discuss modern-day slavery in a televised debate moderated by Rageh Omaar.

Why, hundreds of years after it was legally abolished, does slavery persist? The last episode of Slavery: A 21st Century Evil is a televised debate in which this question, among others, was posed to a panel of those who direct or seek to influence government policies on slavery across the world.

The debate was held at Decatur House on Washington's Lafayette Square - the site of the only remaining physical evidence that African Americans were once held in bondage within sight of the White House - as an iconic venue for the debate on a trade that refuses to die.

Moderator Rageh Omaar was joined by: Luis C d'Baca from the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Kevin Bales, the president of Free the Slaves; David Batstone, the president of Not for Sale; and Joy Ezeilo, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.

‘Amend constitution to stop party-hopping’

DAP chairman Karpal Singh says if a bill is tabled, the BN government will get the full backing of Pakatan Rakyat.

GEORGE TOWN: The DAP today called on the Najib administration to amend the Federal Constitution to ban party hopping by elected representatives.

Its chairman Karpal Singh said Barisan Nasional government should table an emergency parliamentary bill soon to amend the constitution.

“It should be done before the next general election,” Karpal told newsmen during his weekly Bukit Gelugor parliamentary constituency visit here today.

He said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak can count on the Pakatan Rakyat support for the amendment.

He said Najib should not be worried about not securing a two-thirds majority needed to make a constitutional amendment.

He said the Pakatan MPs would surely back Najib’s administration on the amendment, which would eventually flush out selfish politicians.

The amendment will have to done on Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which allows citizens freedom of association.

Many elected representatives are pointing to the article to justify their defections over the years.

Karpal, a lawyer by profession, indicated that only a constitutional amendment can once and for all put an end to party hopping by elected representatives.

The amendment would pave way for the parliament and state governments to legislate anti-hopping laws.

Karpal was referring to a Gerakan suggestion to ban party hopping made during a public hearing by the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms here yesterday.

The hearing was chaired by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Maximus Ongkili.

Power in the hands of voters

Penang Gerakan legal and human rights bureau head Baljit Singh had told the committee that it would reduce politicking and avoid political uncertainties.

He particularly referred to the PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim’s Sept 16 fiasco and Perak government coup by BN via defections by Pakatan elected representatives that led to a constitutional crisis in 2009.

Gerakan proposal was to have elected seats automatically vacant when the representative quits his or her party.

It is to ensure that the right to choose a government remains in the hands of the voters.

A by-election shall be held to uphold the constituents to elect their legitimate representative.

“This would reduce politicking where the government can fully focus on running the country to avoid uncertainties,” Baljit told the committee.

Gerakan’s other proposals were on use of indelible ink during voting, automatic registration for voters above 21 years of age and deletion for deaths

Karpal said the DAP, the country’s single largest parliamentary opposition party, had always despised party hopping.

He said defecting elected representatives have actually betrayed the trust of their constituents.

“The DAP wants the amendment bill to be tabled soon,” he said.

Karpal said Malaysia should emulate other Commonwealth countries like India and Singapore, which already legislated anti-hopping laws to curb politicians switching sides .

‘Interlok and Perkasa’s weird logic’

The DAP calls Perkasa's objection in removing the Interlok novel from schools as 'weird logic'

GEORGE TOWN: The DAP said that they could not understand Perkasa’s weird logic in going against the decision to remove the controversial Interlok novel from schools.

Its national chairman Karpal Singh said it was the Cabinet’s responsibility to ‘correct all wrongs’ in its system of governance that affects the people.

“It’s wrong for an extremist organisation like Perkasa to criticise the government decision to remove the Interlok novel.

“Indeed the book should be banned altogether across the country,” he told reporters in Air Itam here today.He also called on the novel’s author, national laureate Abdullah Hussain to apologise to all Malaysian Indians for the racially insensitive contents in the book.

In a SMS statement last night, Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hasan Syed Ali said the group was very angry with MIC president G Palanivel over the withdrawal of the Form 5 literature text.

He expressed Perkasa’s disappointment and regrets over the government decision.

“The government is too weak and has failed to withstand pressure from a minority group that is big headed. Perkasa is aware of MIC’s need to bank on the Indian vote for the GE13.

“This is very insolent. Because of the Indian vote, the dignity of a Malay writer is being insulted,” said Syed Hassan.

Karpal called Syed Hassan’s views as “weird logic “

The Bukit Gelugor MP instead called on for a total ban on the novel for it contained racial slurs insulting the Indian community.

“The novel should be removed from all libraries and book stores.It should be banished from public view,” insisted Karpal.

The novel was made compulsory reading for Form Five students this year as part of the Malay Literature subject in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Putrajaya.

The novel chronicled the daily lives and struggles of three families – a Malay, Chinese and Indian during pre-independence Malaya and their contributions to the formation of the country.

But the novel sparked an outrage, especially from Indians, against several racially offensive words such as ‘India Pariah’, ‘Melayu Malas’, ‘Cina Kuai’, ‘perempuan totok’, ‘babi’ and ‘syaitan putih’.

The book was also criticised for portraying unhealthy elements such as pre-marital cohabitation, infidelity, spirit worship, trading in humans.

Musim baru sandiwara Interlok?

Selepas genap setahun, apakah kontroversi ini akan berakhir atau sekadar memasuki musim baru yang lebih mendebarkan?
COMMENT
Sandiwara dan drama melibatkan campur tangan politik dalam isu novel Interlok Edisi Murid ternyata masih berterusan, malah kini memasuki musim baru.
Sejak tengah hari semalam (16 Disember 2011), ramai yang menghubungi Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) untuk berkongsi “berita gembira” bahawa novel berkenaan tidak akan digunakan sebagai teks Komponen Sastera Dalam Mata Pelajaran Bahasa Malaysia (Komsas) mulai 2012.
Namun, Kavyan sentiasa bersikap objektif dan rasional; bukan emosional. Begitu juga dalam meneliti perkembangan terkini kontroversi Interlok Edisi Murid yang bermula dengan “Interlok Kulit Merah” dan kini berada dalam versi “Interlok Kulit Biru”.
Saya menggunakan frasa “lingkaran syaitan” (vicious circle) dalam faksyen melibatkan berhala Dewa Shiva di Siru Kambam (FMT, 21 & 28 November 2011). Nampaknya “lingkaran syaitan” yang melanda Siru Kambam dalam faksyen itu kini sudah melanda kita!
Ruangan Twitter digunakan oleh pelbagai pihak – khasnya ahli/penyokong MIC – sejak tengah hari semalam untuk berkongsi “berita gembira” bahawa novel Interlok Edisi Murid tidak akan digunakan di sekolah mulai tahun depan.
Khabarnya, menurut mesej Twitter, Facebook dan SMS, “Menteri Pelajaran yang juga Timbalan Perdana Menteri akan membuat pengumuman rasmi mengenainya dalam tempoh terdekat”.
Sementara menanti (bukan “ternanti-nanti”) pengumuman rasmi Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin berhubung perkara itu yang khabarnya diputuskan dalam mesyuarat Kabinet minggu lalu, saya mula meneliti segala dokumentasi berhubung kontroversi Interlok Edisi Murid di blog Kavyan sejak Disember 2010.
Secara ringkas, saya meneliti penglibatan Kementerian Pelajaran, MIC, Panel Bebas, Pasukan Tindakan Interlok Nasional (NIAT) dan Kavyan.
Menurut laporan media (termasuk Utusan Online dan Bernama Online) semalam, Timbalan Presiden MIC, Datuk Dr S Subramaniam mendedahkan berita terbaru itu kepada wakil media di Ayer Keroh, Melaka.
Kemudian, kenyataan Presiden MIC, Datuk G Palanivel di Kulim, Kedah turut disiarkan di beberapa media; sekali gus membuatkan pelbagai pihak melonjak kegembiraan atas “kejayaan MIC menangani isu Interlok”.
Apabila dihubungi pelbagai pihak menerusi telefon dan SMS, saya menegaskan bahawa saya tidak akan mempercayai “kebenaran” kenyataan kedua-dua individu itu selagi Menteri Pelajaran sendiri tidak tampil membuat kenyataan rasmi.
Kejayaan MIC?

Apa yang berlaku berikutan pengumuman Datuk T Murugiah (bekas pengerusi Biro Pengaduan Awam) pada 15 Disember 2010 bahawa novel Interlok Edisi Murid ditarik balik serta-merta masih segar dalam ingatan.
Pada peringkat awal, MIC memang meminta novel berkenaan ditarik balik. Malah, semasa pertemuan bersama Muhyiddin di Aras 3, Menara Parlimen pada 23 Mac lalu, Palanivel dan Subramaniam menasihatkan Muhyiddin perkara sama. Saya berada di sana dan boleh menjadi saksi.
Bagaimanapun, akhbar Makkal Osai pada 10 Disember lalu melaporkan Palanivel sebagai berkata bahawa segala perkara yang menyentuh sensitiviti kaum India dalam novel itu sudah dibetulkan.
Beliau memberitahu wakil media pada 9 Disember lalu bahawa MIC dan dua wakil kaum India dalam Panel Bebas berpuas hati dengan Interlok Kulit Biru.
“Saya menandatangani surat izin selepas kami meneliti draf pindaan. Kami puas hati bahawa apa-apa yang sensitif sudah dikeluarkan,” katanya.
Maka, amat menghairankan mengapa MIC tiba-tiba perlu meminta Kabinet menarik balik sebuah novel yang sudah pun “diluluskan” olehnya walaupun hanya sekitar 20 peratus daripada lebih 100 pindaan yang dipersetujui dilaksanakan sebelum buku itu dicetak semula.
Saya pernah memberitahu MIC sebelum ini bahawa sekiranya parti politik itu “meluluskan” novel itu dengan hanya sekitar 20 peratus pemurnian, maka masyarakat yang sedia marah pada MIC akan bertambah marah.
Saya percaya bahawa kemarahan itu semakin terasa berikutan kenyataan Palanivel pada 9 Disember lalu bahawa “kami puas hati bahawa apa-apa yang sensitif sudah dikeluarkan”.
Kebanyakan mesej yang tersebar (baca: disebarkan ahli/penyokong MIC) semalam memuji “kejayaan” MIC dalam usaha menarik balik novel Interlok Edisi Murid daripada dijadikan teks Komsas.
Soalnya, mengapa tidak usaha itu dilakukan MIC sebelum Interlok Kulit Biru dicetak dengan hanya sekitar 20 peratus daripada lebih 100 pindaan yang diperakukan?
Timbalan Menteri Pelajaran, Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi menyatakan pada 22 Jun 2011 bahawa pencetakan semula 390,000 naskhah novel itu melibatkan kos sekitar RM1 juta; termasuk kos penghantaran.
Jangan lupa bahawa terdahulu, “pelekat ajaib” digunakan untuk melakukan pindaan minimum pada novel berkenaan. Entah berapa banyak wang rakyat terbazir dalam melaksanakan tindakan kurang bijak (baca: bodoh) yang tidak selaras dengan apa yang dijanjikan Muhyiddin di Dewan Rakyat pada 24 Mac 2011.
Bercakap mengenai Muhyiddin, sehingga artikel ini ditulis, beliau belum membuat sebarang menyataan rasmi berhubung Interlok Edisi Murid walaupun (menurut Palanivel dan Subramaniam) keputusan sudah dibuat oleh Kabinet minggu lalu.
Memandangkan Kavyan menyimpan rekod berhubung kontroversi ini sejak Disember 2010, maka saya masih ingat bahawa Muhyiddin dalam kenyataan rasmi pada 27 Januari lalu mengumumkan “keputusan mengekalkan novel ini dengan membuat pindaan supaya tidak menyinggung perasaan kaum India adalah jalan penyelesaian yang terbaik”.
Kuasa undi kaum India

Maka, jika “pindaan” sudah dibuat dan novel sudah dicetak semula, mengapa tiba-tiba keputusan dibuat untuk menarik balik penggunaannya di sekolah?
Mungkinkah kerana baru sedar akan kuasa undi rakyat – khasnya kaum India – menjelang Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13? Atau apakah keputusan ini ada kaitan dengan tekanan yang diterima daripada NIAT yang diketuai Datuk Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim?
Semalam, saya turut menerima SMS daripada sekretariat NIAT bahawa Thasleem mengucapkan terima kasih kepada “semua yang telah bersama-sama NIAT dalam usaha menolak penggunaan Interlok di sekolah”.
Maknanya, NIAT juga sudah benar-benar yakin pada pengumuman yang dilakukan Subramaniam dan Palanivel. (Belum mengambil kira soalan siapa yang berjaya: NIAT atau MIC? Atau Hindraf?)
Pada 28 Mei lalu, NIAT membuat pengumuman akan mengadakan mogok lapar bagi membuktikan bahawa pasukan itu serius dalam pendiriannya menuntut novel berkenaan digugurkan.
Pada peringkat awal (Januari 2011), NIAT mahu Interlok Edisi Murid dimurnikan; sebagaimana dituntut Kavyan. Bagaimanapun, selepas 12 Februari lalu, pendirian kumpulan itu berubah, iaitu mahu ia digugurkan terus kerana tidak sesuai dari segi ajaran Islam.
Maknanya, bukan hanya Interlok Edisi Murid, tetapi termasuk Interlok edisi asal yang masih berada dalam pasaran terbuka (atau di stor DBP). Maka, “perjuangan” NIAT belum berakhir, bukan?
Apa pun, mujurlah NIAT tidak meneruskan mogok lapar yang diumumkan penuh emosional. Setahu saya, tindakan mengadakan mogok lapar adalah bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam.
Tentulah aneh jika NIAT menggunakan tindakan yang bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam untuk menjayakan niat menolak sebuah novel yang dikatakannya bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam.
Di pihak Kavyan pula, kami hanya mengeluarkan kenyataan selepas mula meneliti novel edisi murid, edisi pelajar dan edisi asal secara akademik dan objektif.
Dalam kenyataan rasmi pertama pada 3 Januari 2011, Kavyan menegaskan bahawa “Interlok Edisi Murid wajib dimurnikan”. Pendirian sama ditekankan pada sesi taklimat khas yang diadakan pada 16 Januari lalu.
Pada 26 Januari lalu, semasa “Wacana Interlok” di Universiti Malaya, saya tegaskan kembali:
“Sekiranya masih ada bantahan terhadap cadangan supaya novel Interlok Edisi Murid dimurnikan, maka tidak ada pilihan selain meminta novel itu dikeluarkan terus daripada dijadikan teks Komsas.”
Pendirian Kavyan tetap sama sehingga kini. Malah, dalam kenyataan rasmi pada 29 November lalu, Kavyan memutuskan bahawa “Interlok Kulit Biru (2011) adalah edisi yang lebih baik daripada Interlok Kulit Merah (2010) tetapi bukan edisi yang dijanjikan oleh Menteri Pelajaran pada Mac 2011”.
Kavyan memulakan kempen “Mari Bersama Murnikan Interlok” pada 28 Januari 2011 dengan meminta masyarakat pelbagai kaum mengemukakan senarai perkara yang perlu dibetulkan dalam Interlok Edisi Murid.
Pada hujung kempen di blog itu, saya turut mencatatkan begini:
“Sekiranya cadangan pemurnian yang rasional, akademik, berhujah, bertamadun dan logik yang dikemukakan itu nanti tidak diterima Kementerian Pelajaran (Kerajaan), maka saya akan pertahankan pendirian supaya Interlok Edisi Murid dikeluarkan terus daripada sistem pendidikan negara. Kalau tidak membenarkan kerja-kerja pemurnian dilakukan, simpan sahajalah buku itu di stor.”
Sandiwara

Pada masa sama, tentu sahaja Kavyan mahu memastikan bahawa Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain tetap menerima royalti bagi Interlok Kulit Merah dan Interlok Kulit Biru yang dicetak untuk dijadikan teks Komsas.
Mungkin ramai yang yakin bahawa kini Interlok Kulit Merah dan Interlok Kulit Biru akan disimpan di stor. Mungkin mereka hanya menanti pengumuman rasmi oleh Muhyiddin “dalam tempoh terdekat”.
Namun, bagi saya secara peribadi, seperti yang saya nyatakan di FMT pada 27 Jun lalu, saya tetap berwaspada dan bersikap wasangka kerana tidak mahu “tertipu” lagi dengan “permainan” dan “sandiwara” mana-mana pihak yang “cakap tak serupa bikin”.
Malah, apakah alasan retorik yang bakal diberikan oleh Muhyiddin untuk akhirnya bersetuju (jika benar) menarik balik novel yang sudah dicetak dalam dua versi dan dipertahankannya secara bermati-matian sejak setahun lalu?
Kavyan tidak akan terkejut sekiranya Muhyiddin mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa Interlok Kulit Merah akan ditarik balik pada 2012 dan diganti dengan Interlok Kulit Biru.
Segalanya adalah mungkin di negara bertuah ini. Jangan ketinggalan mengikuti musim baru drama ini yang penuh mendebarkan.

‘Speed-up conclusion of Altantuya murder case’

Under the law civil proceedings can commence only after the criminal proceedings have been completed in its entirety.

GEORGE TOWN: Senior lawyer Karpal Singh today called on the Attorney-General Chambers to hasten the conclusion of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.

He is frustrated over the prolonged delay of appeal process by the two former police personnel, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri 34, and Corporal Sirul Azhar, 39, who were convicted for Altantuya’s murder five years ago.

Their appeal is up for case management in Court of Appeal on Feb 10 next year and could even end up in the Federal Court.

Altantuya father Setev Shaariibuu has filed a suit on June 4, 2007 against the Malaysian government and those responsible for the gruesome murder of his daughter.

Karpal is representing Setev in the civil case on a pro-bono basis.

He had also held watching brief for the late Altantuya family and the Mongolian government during the murder trial.

Under the law, the Setev’s civil proceedings can commence only after the criminal proceedings have been completed in its entirety.

“I appeal to the AG to quicken the appeal process to enable the civil case to began soon,” Karpal, the DAP national chairman, told newsmen during his visit Bukit Gelugor parliamentary constituency here today.

After a long hiatus, early this year Setev has appealed to the Malaysian courts to hasten the hearing of the RM100 million civil suit he has filed against the government.

He said he has paid a substantial amount of money, RM60,000 as security bond to the Malaysian court last year.

Azilah and Sirul were sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court on April 9, 2009

after being found guilty for Altantuya murder at Mukim Bukit Raja between 9.45pm on Oct 18, 2006, and 9.45pm the next day.

Their trial which commenced on April 9, 2007 and lasted for 159 days.

The duo, commandos with the elite Special Action Squad, subsequently filed their appeals to the appellate court.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak close confidant Abdul Razak Baginda, 50, was also charged with abetting the duo in Altantuya’s murder.

He was freed by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008, without his defence being called.

Perbezaan fahaman politik punca umat Islam berpecah

"Umat Islam di Malaysia berpecah bukan dari segi agama tetapi dari segi fahaman politik yang mempengaruhi ahli-ahlinya," kata Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

BUTTERWORTH: Perbezaan fahaman politik di negara ini menyebabkan umat Islam dikatakan berpecah belah dan bukan kerana agama, kata bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Beliau berkata umat Islam di negara ini kini berpecah kepada tiga puak dan telah “berperang” sesama sendiri walaupun tidak menggunakan senjata seperti di beberapa negara Islam yang lain.

“Umat Islam di Malaysia berpecah bukan dari segi agama tetapi dari segi fahaman politik yang mempengaruhi ahli-ahlinya,” kata mantan perdana menteri itu.

Semata-mata untuk menjayakan fahaman politik mereka, umat Islam di negara ini tidak sanggup solat di masjid yang sama dan mempunyai tanah perkuburan yang berbeza, katanya kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan Majlis Multaqa Wehdatul Ummah ketiga di sini hari ini.

“Kalau kita sedar, ajaran agama Islam ini adalah persaudaraan dan kita harus memupuk sikap perpaduan lagi-lagi dalam satu agama yang sama,” kata Dr Mahathir.

“Umat Islam perlu bersatu padu dan tidak berpecah belah serta bermusuh-musuhan sesama sendiri kerana perpaduan itu adalah asas hidup masyarakat Islam,” katanya.

Dr Mahathir yang juga Yang Dipertua Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Perkim) berkata umat Islam di negara ini seharusnya memainkan peranan yang penting dalam menonjolkan diri kepada dunia tentang kehidupan Islam yang sebenar supaya agama Islam dihormati oleh kaum lain.

“Kita akan menjadi lemah akibat daripada persengketan antara umat Islam. Kita mungkin lupa 55 tahun dulu, semua orang Islam dan

Melayu di negara ini berjuang untuk kemerdekaan dan menentang Malayan Union.

“Masa itu umat Islam memang lemah tetapi kita dapat tumpaskan Malayan Union kerana kita bersatu padu. Walaupun tiada wang ringgit dan kekuatan lain tetapi kerana bersatu kita boleh mengalahkan Malayan Union,” kata beliau.

Yang turut hadir pada majlis itu adalah Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Yang Dipertua Majlis Agama

Islam Pulau Pinang Elias Zakaria dan Yang Dipertua Persatuan Qaryah-qaryah Masjid Pulau Pinang Datuk Seri Mohd Yusoff Latiff.

- Bernama

Perkasa kecewa novel Interlok ditarik

Kerajaan terlalu lemah dan gagal mempertahankan tekanan dari golongan minoriti yang besar kepala, kata Syed Hasan.

PETALING JAYA: Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) amat kecewa dan sungguh kesal dengan keputusan kerajaan menarik balik novel Interlok sebagai buku tek.

Dalam satu kenyataan media hari ini, Setiausaha Agung Syed Hasan Syed Ali berkata, kerajaan terlalu lemah dan gagal mempertahankan tekanan dari golongan minoriti yang besar kepala.

“Perkasa sangat marah dan kesal atas pengumuman yang dibuat oleh Presiden MIC, Datuk G Palanivel bahawa novel Interlok digugurkan dari silibus Tingkatan Lima. Menurut Palanivel, perkara ini telah diputuskan oleh Kabinet minggu lalu.

“Ini sungguh menghairankan memandangkan kerajaan sudah membentuk jawatankuasa menyelesaikan isu buku ini dan bersetuju membuat beberapa perubahan dan buku baru sudah diedit beberapa bahagian dan telah pun dicetak.

Ujar Syed Hasan, “kos mengedit dan mencetak melibatkan berjuta-juta ringgit sudah dibelanjakan tapi sekarang nak tarik balik secara total. Ini sungguh membazir. Perkasa sedar ini kehendak MIC demi menagih undi kaum India untuk Pilihan Raya Umum ke 13 (PRU-13).

“Ini sangat biadap kerana undi kaum India, maruah penulis Melayu terhina. Perkasa yakin pengundi Melayu tidak akan memberi undi kepada calon-calon MIC atau calon-calon India yang anti-Melayu dan mungkin ada calon bebas yang akan bertanding d kawasan calon MIC bertanding d mana pengundi Melayu lebih 5O%.

Menurut beliau, apa yang tertera dalam buku novel tersebut adalah fakta bukan niat menghina. Yang menghina adalah mereka yang berada kasta atas kepada kasta bawah yang dipanggil pariah. Bukan penulis Melayu itu.

“Ia masih berlaku dalam masyarakat India di Tanah Besar India sendiri. Filem-filem mereka terbaru masih banyak menceritakan kesah kasta-kasta kaum India,” katanya.

Akhbar perdana berbahasa Inggeris hari ini memetik kenyataan Menteri Sumber Manusia Datuk Seri S Subramaniam sebagai berkata bahawa komponen kesusasteraan subjek Bahasa Malaysia untuk Tingkatan Lima tidak lagi menggunakan novel kontroversi Interlok mulai tahun depan.

DAP leaders: Rama should sue Makkal Osai

Grassroots leaders argue that the Tamil daily must be held accountable for embarrassing DAP, Ramasamy and Karpal Singh.

GEORGE TOWN: Several DAP grassroots leaders today called on party deputy secretary general P Ramasamy to sue Tamil daily Makkal Osai for defamation.

They also called on Ramasamy, the Penang Deputy Chief Minsiter II, to lodge a report immediately for the police to investigate Makkal Osai for criminal defamation.

Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M Manoharan, Pahang DAP deputy chief J Apalasamy, Tanjung parliamentary division DAPSY vice-chairman S Sukumar, branch chairmen G Asoghan (Bagan Luar) and K Gunabalan (Jalan Tembikai) declared their full support to Ramasamy to initiate the legal proceedings.

The five said Ramasamy should emulate his boss, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng successful suit against Utusan Malaysia, by initiating civil court proceedings against Makkal Osai.

They were referring to the Makkal Osai’s retraction on Wednesday Dec 14 against its own Nov 28 report of Ramasamy’s premature announcement on party candidature.

“This is wrong (news). We would like to bring to the attention of DAP leadership that Ramasamy never provided such a news to our daily”, wrote the editor of Makkal Osai in the retraction note.

The five argued that although Makkal Osai retraction was 15 days too late because the damage was already done.”

“The retraction is only a damage control. Makkal Osai has already committed a crime here,” they pointed out.

The five said Makkal Osai false report on Nov 28 had caused an internal ruckus, friction among leaders, tarnished the image and caused irreparable damage to the party.

They said Makkal Osai must be held accountable for embarrassing DAP, Ramasamy and party national chairman Karpal Singh.

In its Nov 28 article, Makkal Osai quoted Ramasamy to have announced that DAP had decided to field three Indian women – D Kamache, P Kasturi (daughter of the late DAP stalwart P Patto), and an unknown lawyer from Penang, K Mangaleswari, in the next general election.

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 virtually certain of their candidacies.

According to the article, Ramasamy allegedly announced that he will defend both his Prai state and Batu Kawan federal seat.

Seeking disciplinary action

The article caused DAP supremo Karpal Singh to tick off Ramasamy, the state DAP deputy chairman, for acting like a war lord.

In return, Ramasamy called on the party to get rid of godfathers as well, in apparent reference to Karpal.

Although Karpal and others have called on Ramasamy to openly apologise for his ‘godfather’ remark, he had refused to do so until today.

Chairman of Kuala Juru branch, which comes under Batu Kawan constituency, Tan Ah Huat has lodged a complaint against Ramasamy over the remark.

During the state party convention in Prai on Sunday Dec 11, some 100 people held a noisy demonstration in support of Ramasamy.

The CEC in an emergency meeting on Tuesday formed a three-man panel, comprising party secretary general Lim Guan Eng and, veteran leaders Lim Kit Siang and Dr Chen Man Hin to resolve the problem.

The panel claimed Makkal Osai retraction report had resolved the Karpal – Ramasamy spat.

However, Karpal has insisted that disciplinary action must be taken on those responsible for the demonstration at the convention.

Do-it-yourself glamour for ‘Jhollywood’ stars

A tiny but enthusiastic film industry is making waves in India and survives on shoestring budgets with minimal equipment.
FEATURE

By Ammu Kannampilly

RANCHI: In one of India’s poorest, most violence-wracked states, being a movie star means doing your own make-up in a car mirror and then dancing to a soundtrack from a mobile phone.

Los Angeles has Hollywood, Mumbai has Bollywood – and then there’s Jhollywood, a tiny but enthusiastic film industry in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

“This is the biggest problem of working in our movies, you have to do everything yourself… apply your own makeup, supply your own costumes,” Jhollywood’s leading female star Varsha Lakra grumbles with a smile.

On a sunny Sunday morning in Ranchi, the scruffy state capital, Lakra, 24, is on location at her latest shoot.

She sits in her small car, applying pink eyeshadow, eye-liner, layers of foundation and powder as the traffic whizzes past.

“Our films are made keeping our culture in mind and our culture is not that glamorous,” she admits. “We show our villages and how, as Jharkhand develops, people are leaving the villages to go work in towns.”

“Jhollywood” prides itself on telling the stories of the state’s low-caste and tribal people, making movies on shoestring budgets with minimal equipment.

Producers raise capital by cashing in anything from parcels of land to cars, and some of the film industry’s key players are shopkeepers who have day jobs selling mobile phones and CDs.

Jhollywood’s stars may have lives far different from Bollywood’s adored big-name screen legends, but they are hugely popular in the state.

Fighting to stay afloat

Lakra and her actor husband Monuraj, 25, are household names, and are regularly mobbed by fans.

“Recently I was out with my family and some village women saw me. They just grabbed me, and wouldn’t let go. They kept saying, you must come to our home for a meal,” she says, smiling at the memory.

With limited funds and few cinema owners willing to screen Jhollywood over Bollywood fare, however, the industry – barely two decades old – is fighting to stay afloat.

Lakra, who said she earns up to 30,000 rupees (US$600) per film, does not let such grave concerns get in the way of her art as she starts shooting a song against a backdrop of wooded hills.

As butterflies flit around, she improvises the choreography while one of the crew members holds up a cheap mobile phone playing the soundtrack.

Jhollywood films often follow the same basic plotlines as Bollywood, featuring a dash of romance, a few fight scenes and multiple musical sequences.

Lakra’s most recent release, “Karma” was a saga about a villager who avenges the murder of his sister’s boyfriend.

But, unlike Bollywood, most Jhollywood productions are shot on digital video and in the local languages of Sadri, Nagpuri and Santhali.

Lakra told AFP she began working at 15, when a local composer asked her to act in a music video.

Tiny budgets

Now, with four films released and five more on the way, Lakra says she hopes to move up to a Bollywood project some day.

She admits to waiting outside Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s home in Mumbai for hours, just to catch a glimpse of him.

“Bollywood is like an ocean compared to us. Even if I get a small role there, I will go ahead with it for sure,” she says.

The first Jhollywood film, “Sona kar Nagpur” (Golden Nagpur) was released in 1992 and director Dhananjay Nath Tiwari did so many jobs that his name appeared a reported 13 times in the credits.

Tiwari sold some land to make the film and, once it was ready, he went from village to village putting up tents to show the movie.

Not much has changed since then.

Filmmaking budgets are tiny, usually between 250,000 and 500,000 rupees (less than US$6,000). The last few years have seen just three Jhollywood films released annually.

“There isn’t much money so sometimes you just have to make do with what you have,” Ranchi-based filmmaker Anil Sikdar told AFP.

“It’s like you need an elephant for a sequence, but you can’t find one, so someone suggests getting a horse, but then you can’t find a horse, so what do you do? You use a dog,” he said, laughing.

Piracy racket

Sikdar’s latest venture, “Jharkhand ka Chhaila” (The Boy From Jharkhand) attracted good audiences last year in local cinemas – though no official figures are available – but he was still unable to recover its costs.

His situation is not unusual – in the last 19 years, only one Jhollywood production is thought to have broken even, meaning film-making is a costly labour of love.

And fear of violence by left-wing Maoist insurgents is another problem as villagers are reluctant to make the trip to city cinemas after sunset.

“They are afraid to go on the roads. If they do go out, then they will get stopped by the police and questioned. So why would anyone take the risk?” Sikdar said.

A thriving piracy racket also means that the market is flooded with fake copies just days after the original film is released.

Such difficulties mean that the harsh realities of film-making are testing the dedication of even the keenest Jhollywood insider.

Producer Shahid Akhter, who runs a music shop in Ranchi, said he was ready to quit the film business after the failure of his second venture, “Pyaar kar Sapna” (Love’s Dream) earlier this year.

“I have lost the strength to make a third film. I think it might be time to start selling electronic goods instead. I have to keep my family going.”

AFP

Taib-Linked Group Faces Tasmanian Protests

Image
Enviros take to the trees to stop cutting.
Environmentalists accuse timber company of cutting old-growth timber
A unit of Ta Ann Group Bhd, a Sarawak-based timber giant closely linked to Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, is being accused by an Australian lawmaker of invading a protected 430,000-hectare Tasmanian forest that was supposed to be protected by a national-state intergovernment agreement.

Tasmanian Sen. Bob Brown, the leader of Australia’s Greens, said that although the governments had signed an agreement earlier this year to protect the forests until an independent verification process was completed, Ta Ann had already begun logging.

“Four months later not one hectare has been protected and Forestry Tasmania continues to fell these magnificent trees as fast as they can put the roads in. All up, more than 10 square kilometers of our wild forests will be destroyed,” Brown said.

In an effort to stop the logging, a young woman name Miranda Gibson climbed into a structure high above the forest with a vow to sit there to stop the logging, which began last Monday.

That is the latest protest against the company, which has been operating in Tasmania for some time, ostensibly receiving A$10 million in direct public subsidies and being housed in Tasmanian state premises that cost A$22 million. Ta Ann Tasmania has reported net losses of A$18 million although the parent company declared a 25 percent profit margin on annual sales of more than RN800 million.

Ta Ann Holdings Bhd, headed by Taib’s cousin Hamed Sepawi, is comprised of at least 31 Sarawak-based companies in three broad sections including timber harvesting, palm oil plantations and various other interests. The company, with a market capitalization of RM1.24 billion (US$388.6 million), employs 6,000 people and began expanding overseas n 2007, according to the group’s website.

Taib himself is under fire from a plethora of NGOs from six different countries demanding that he and 13 members of his family be arrested and prosecuted for massive fraud, theft, corruption, illegal appropriation of land and abuse of public office and that he is at the epicenter of the operations despite the naming of family members to head ancillary operations. They allege that the looting of Sarawak’s rich timber and other natural resources has earned Taib’s family billions of US dollars through investment in as many as 400 companies in 25 countries.

Research released earlier this month by the Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund said official documents show the Taib family stake in 14 Malaysian companies alone is worth US$1.46 billion. The fund has uploaded all of the documents onto the Internet. They can be found here. Billions more are believed to be held in other countries.

Environmentalists accuse the Tasmanian unit of claiming it exports rotary peeled veneer manufactured only from regrowth and plantation Eucalyptus logs supplied by Forestry Tasmania. However, the environmentalists say, “the reality is that Ta Ann is sourcing timber from Tasmanian old growth forests, from world heritage value and high conservation value forests.”

The Tasmania-based Huon Valley Environmental Center accused Ta Ann Tasmania of receiving wood timber from logging areas containing old growth forest is processing wood acquired from the logging of old growth forests, high-conservation value forests and forests with recognized world heritage values in Tasmania

“Ta Ann’s demand for native forest wood and its large wood supply contract is driving logging in some of Tasmania’s most important and contentious forest areas,” the environmental group said in a statement. “Logging for Ta Ann is also breeching the current Intergovernmental Agreement between the Australian and Tasmanian governments which has demanded logging be stopped in 430,000 hectares of high conservation value forests. Ta Ann’s operations here in Tasmania are far from eco-friendly and must rank amongst the worst logging practices globally,” said Jenny Weber, a member of the Huon organization.

Global Witness, an environmental NGO, in 2010 accused Ta Ann of clear-cutting vast amounts of Orangutan habitat. Ta Ann holds five timber concessions in Sarawak covering more than 360,000 hectares of rainforest and three plantation licenses covering another 313,000 hectares.

The Sarawak Report, an NGO that has been investigating Taib family interests for months, said Sarawak “is notorious for its destruction of the Borneo jungle.” It said Ta Ann’s attempts to brand itself as “environmentally conscious” were a sham and that “None of the wood that Ta Ann has so far used from Tasmania qualifies as sustainable.”

In fact, the Sarawak Report said, “all of the logs so far taken by the company have come from old growth forests, many in high conservation value areas that form crucial habitats for some of the world’s most endangered species. These include Tasmania’s Wedge Tailed Eagle, the Quoll and the Tasmanian Devil. And no plantation wood is being used by Ta Ann in its veneer processing mills in Tasmania.”

Brown, in a prepared release, said the Australian and Tasmanian governments are taking too long to implement the intergovernmental agreement.

“If they can get their act together to offer contractors exit packages then they can honor the conservation agreement as well." He added.

PM: MYAGROSIS Can Turn Tertiary Institutions Into Food Production Core

SUNGAI PETANI, Dec 17 (Bernama) -- MyAgrosis, or the Agriculture Graduate Entrepreneurs Club, launched Saturday, can make tertiary institutions to be at the core of the country's food production, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

Najib said the initiative would also help the country tackle its food import deficit.

"At the moment we are exporting RM18 billion worth of food products a year but our import is RM30 billion. We are faced with a huge deficit; so MyAgrosis will help us patch it up with new approaches," he said when launching the club and declaring open the Youth and Graduate Entrepreneurs Gathering at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Merbok, near here.

He said that an increase in food production would shield the people from being burdened by the high cost of living.

"The high cost of living is due to the cost of foodstuff. So the best way to ease the burden is to increase the food production in the country," he said.

The prime minister also announced an allocation of RM30 million to help the MyAgrosis programme.

Of the total, RM10 million will be for Agrobank to provide guarantor-free loan scheme to MyAgrosis members with a ceiling amount of RM30,000 to venture into agro-businesses.

The rest of the amount will be allocated to Tekun Nasional and the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, with an allocation of RM10 million each.

Tekun will provide funds for MyAgrosis participants while the ministry will provide facilities for MyAgrosis programmes such as hydroponics and water supply systems.

The new allocation for Agrobank brings the bank's total fund for the programme to RM20 million.

Najib said the provision of the funds marked the government's total support for MyAgrosis.

Speaking to reporters later, Najib said MyAgrosis fulfilled various criteria including bringing together two ministries -- the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry and Higher Education Ministry -- to collaborate in the country's agriculture development sector.

"It also exposes graduates to the sector in its new paradigm, that is, agriculture as a business model as well as a business concept.

"It will also increase the country's agricultural productivity and put in place more agro-bazaar networks where food products are sold at a reasonable price," he said.

Najib said universities had vast tract of unused land which can be optimised through the MyAgrosis programme.

Present at the event were Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharom, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir, Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority chairman Datuk Badruddin Amiruldin and UiTM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar.

Central Java: statue of the Virgin decapitated

by Mathias Hariyadi
The act of vandalism occurred last night in Sendag Prawito (Semarang Archdiocese), in a small chapel devoted to Our Lady. A cross was also stolen and some religious objects were destroyed. The archbishop demands Christians be protected during the Christmas period.

Semarang (AsiaNews) – Last night, vandals decapitated the statue of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto in Sendag Prawito, Tawangmangu, Semarang Archdiocese (Central Java). A cross was stolen and the aspersorium was badly damaged.

“This brutal action has strongly affected the Catholic community,” Mgr Johannes Pujasumarta, archbishop of Semarang, told AsiaNews.

“Security Forces must do their duty without showing any preference for Muslims or Christians in a religiously pluralistic country based on the principles of Pancasila, which are still the foundations on which the nation is built,” the prelate said in an appeal to local authorities to provide Christians with security during the Christmas period.

In recent years, Christmas has seen several attacks against Indonesia’s Christian communities. In 2000, a series of bombings killed 19 people during Christmas week. On 31 December 2005, seven people died in an attack against a market in a Christian section of Palu (Sulawesi).

In both cases, Jemaah Islamyah, which is linked to al Qaeda, was blamed.

Muslims attack Hare Krishna temple in Denmark

The Hare Krishna temple in Western Copenhagen was recently assaulted by a group of young Muslims, throwing stones and breaking windows. To diminish the risk of confrontations with the Muslim-dominated neighbourhood, the devotees of the temple are from now on requested to not wear their characteristic clothes outside the temple, in order to not provoke similar attacks in the future. Below is the original account of the attacks.
Danish police took a report of the assaults.
(Note: Whitespace added for clarity. Original spelling preserved.)

Dear devotees,
On 6.12.,20.45 the temple in Copenhagen was attacked by a group of gundas with obviously Muslim background. First stones were thrown against the front of the residential temple building, then the window in the mathaji asrama got broken.[TK], the temple president, called police instantly. A single police officer arived, took notice of the dammage and left again. Half an hour later a bigger group of the same attackers arived, again throwing stones, entering the garden, braking this time windows in the Tulasi room, all the bottom windows facing the street. Finaly they tried to brake into the house, seeking direct physical conflict.
It didnt took long to find out the possible background of this attack.

(The temple was never exposed to such an incident before).
The same day two devotees, one of them living directly in the temple and the other outside, were biking closeby when they met on the street a car standing with open door. One passed, the other got blocked by the open door and complained. According to the statement of one of them he was directly attacked by the driver with a tool fetched from the car and as the other one came to his rescue, a fist fight started. Devotees sustained minor injuries. Finaly police arived at the scene and took record of the incident.
As the temple is located in a close Muslim neighbourhood, featuring a Muslim school, etc., it is quite possible that these two incidents are related. The police didnt make sofar this connection,but its obvious.
As matter of fact the involvement of the police was minimal sofar, it took them more a half an hour to arive and after the second attack they didnt come at all. If the attackers would manage to brake into the house, somebody could have been kiled as they were armed with baseball clubs and other weapons. As seeing from the window, most of them could have been even less as 18 years old and some of them couldnt even speak proper denish.
It can be only hoped that this incident was an act of momentarily rage and will not spark a long term enmity and chain of attacks from the local Muslim community. To find the leader of the gang and try to communicate with him is hardly possible. We cannot expect any protection from the police and so once again we are fully depending on the mercy of Sri Sri Goura Nitai and Lord Nrsimhadeva.
Your servant [MD]
P.S. Please, if possible, lets help [TKP] as he will have to deal now with further police investigation, the insurance company and the repairs following this attack.
Further on devotees are requested to change possibly their devotee dress after leaving the temple property, as being seen in the vaisnava dress they may provoke in an uncontroled manner attacks from the local Muslims while walkig on the street. Incidents of this nature do happen. Even this one is based on individual improper behaviour of both parties, the driver and the devotees, the final attack was issued against anybody who could be identified as the memmber of the Hare Krsna movement. Lets hope these attacks will not escalate. Sofar nobody got injured, but it was a close call indeed.

Cops say illegal flow of money ‘nothing new’

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — The police said today reports that Malaysia lost RM150 billion in illicit outflows in 2009 was “not something new” and it has been freezing assets of organised crime and drug rings to tackle the problem.
Washington-based watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reported yesterday that Malaysia’s outflow of illegal money topped RM1 trillion in the decade up to 2009.
But Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar (picture) said “money laundering is not something new and police have been regularly acting against organised crime members and drug syndicates.”
“In many drug cases, the suspect’s background and financial standing is investigated thoroughly and police have forfeited property to seize the ill-gotten gains,” the police chief told reporters today.
GFI said yesterday Malaysia lost RM150 billion in illicit outflows in 2009, the fourth highest in the developing world.
In March, Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said the Money Business Services Act would be tabled this year to enable the central bank to address the outflow of funds from the country.
The law came into force on December 1.
The new law supports the development of a more dynamic, competitive and professional money services business industry, while strengthening safeguards against money laundering, terrorist financing and illegal activities, according to Bank Negara.
The Finance Ministry had said early this year that Bank Negara was investigating the matter.
But the central bank has yet to make any statement on the progress of its investigations despite GFI offering its assistance.

Ambiga explains why Bersih has global appeal

“Its cause is noble and easily understood and cuts across racial, religious, gender and other divides.”
INTERVIEW
By Celine Boileau
As reverberations from Bersih 2.0’s call for free and fair elections reach beyond Malaysia’s borders, so has the popularity of the organisation’s prime mover, S Ambiga.
A month after the July rally, she was enthusiastically received in London, where she spoke at a fund-raising dinner and participated in a dialogue on electoral reforms. She followed that up with a highly successful speaking tour of Australia. And then she went on to Europe.
FMT writer Celine Boileau caught up with her in Geneva and filed for FMT the following transcript of their interview.
How do you explain the success of Bersih in Malaysia?
Firstly, Bersih’s cause for free and fair elections was a cause that was noble, easily understood and one that cut across racial, religious, gender and other divides in Malaysia.
Secondly, it was timely. The social and political conditions in Malaysia are now such that Malaysians want a more participative democracy, a system of good governance and the ability to exercise basic social rights.
Thirdly, this was a civil society initiative. It was not politically driven. As a result, it could not be easily brushed off as a mere political ploy, although attempts were made to do so.
The remarkably disproportionate response by the government to Bersih 2.0 was also a major contributing factor.
Therefore, although Bersih 2.0 started as a movement for free and fair elections, on July 9, it was about much more. It was about democracy and the public’s disgust against abuse of power.
What is the possibility of Bersih holding another rally in KL if electoral reforms are not made in time for the next general election?
There is of course the possibility of another rally if we are robbed of the reforms promised before the 13th general election. I believe people will be very disappointed if the government rushes for the election without meeting the demands of Bersih 2.0. They will feel cheated.
How did Bersih 2.0 become a global movement?
I believe that the cause that Bersih is promoting is appealing and supported by all Malaysians wherever they may be. The cause is also universal. The need for free and fair elections is a basic tenet in any democracy. Admittedly, it resonates more in developing democracies.
Much of the support comes from Malaysians living or studying abroad. Many of them have been exposed to how meaningful democracies actually function and are concerned with the repressive politics practised in Malaysia. On July 9, the rally for free and fair elections took place in 32 other cities worldwide besides Kuala Lumpur.
We must commend Bersih 2.0 supporters overseas for organising themselves. Bersih 2.0 in Malaysia did not organise them. They took the initiative to do so and we now have a vibrant global Bersih Network.
Overseas, the media refer to Bersih as movement from the opposition. Do you agree with this interpretation?
I do not believe that is accurate.
Bersih 2.0 is led by a steering committee that does not include any political party leaders. It is wholly a civil society initiative.
The first Bersih movement (in 2007) was initiated and led by many opposition party leaders together with civil society organisations. We decided to revive it—because the agenda for free and fair elections is still relevant and important—we also decided that Bersih 2.0 would be entirely a civil society movement.
Nonetheless, Bersih 2.0 does receive the support of the opposition parties in Malaysia, as they believe they are severely handicapped in the manner in which elections are run.
However, Bersih 2.0 has always sent invitations to all political parties, including the government parties, to all its functions. The government parties have never responded positively to any of these invitations.
It has been reported that with Bersih, Malaysians have, for the first time, come together to support a single cause. Do you see Bersih as game changing for Malaysia’s national identity?
I believe Bersih is game changing for Malaysian national identity. The overwhelming support for our cause shows that ordinary Malaysians do not want to be divided. Malaysians are no longer content to allow themselves to be identified and segregated according to issues based on race and religion.
The July rally has done wonders for the psyche of the citizens. They overcame many fears when they stood together that day. One of the main fears they overcame was the fear of a repeat of the racial riots of May 13, 1969.
The French newspaper Le Monde recently compared you to Aung San Suu Kyi. Is she a model for you?
I am very humbled and flattered by this comparison. She is certainly inspiring and a role model for me. But I do not believe I am deserving of the comparison. She is an icon who has suffered much more, been through much more and stood up to much more than I have ever had to.
Aung San Suu Kyi is now officially taking a political role. Is this something you’re considering?
I am not a member of any political party. Nor do I have any political aspirations. I have been painted as an opposition leader simply because it was an easy way of attacking the credibility of Bersih 2.0 and its leaders.
You recently compared Burma to Malaysia in your criticism of the Peaceful Assembly Bill. Does the comparison stop there?
It was in the context of Burma’s human rights record that I made the comment that even in a country like Burma, the peaceful assembly law appeared less oppressive. This was after I had read reports about their law, which they had coincidentally just passed.
There is no doubt that Burma’s human rights record is much worse than Malaysia. However, like Burma, we still do not have a meaningful system of checks and balances in Malaysia. Nor we do we enjoy a system of good governance.

Indian firms to Najib: Help us get TM jobs

MITCA says 1Malaysia is meaningless if the discrimination continues.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Indian Telecommunication Contractors Association (MITCA) has decided to seek Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s help to stop the alleged sidelining of its members by Telekom Malaysia (TM).

MITCA president L Puganesvaran told FMT that TM had not entertained any request made by Indian contractors in the last 20 years, and the association was seeking redress by banking on Najib’s promise of fairness to all Malaysians.

He said Najib could prove his sincerity by pressuring TM to stop the discrimination.

“There is no point talking about the 1Malaysia policy if giant companies like TM don’t support it,” he said. “We hope Najib will cater to the plight of MITCA.”

Puganesvaran said MITCA’s members were especially keen to take part in the national High Speed Broadband (HSBB) project that TM is spearheading, but added that the government-linked company had virtually ignored Indian contractors. “Are Indian companies not good enough for the HSBB projects?”

According to him, TM last year awarded RM1.18 billion worth of contracts to four foreign companies and RM600 million worth to 200 bumiputra companies.

The entire HSBB project is estimated to be worth RM11.3 billion.

“It is a lavish project,” Puganesvaran said. “What’s wrong if TM channels, say, RM1 billion worth of projects to Indian companies?”

BN-controlled media have degenerated further to become “blackout papers”

For the past three days consecutively, the Barisan Nasiona-controlled media have degenerated further to become “blackout papers”, over three episodes, viz:

Firstly, over the call on Tuesday by 17 international and national environmental groups and activists, including Greenpeace and Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund, addressed to the Attorney-General, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency Chief Commissioner and the Inspector-General of Police for the arrest and criminal prosecution of Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his 13 family members for massive graft and plundering of Sarawak’s rich natural resources;

Secondly, the Penang High Court judgment on Wednesday against Utusan Malaysia for defamation against Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng for its article “Kebiadaban Lim Guan Eng” of 20th December 2010, and the High Court award of RM200,000 for general and aggravated damages and RM25,000 for costs against Utusan; and

Thirdly, the release yesterday of the latest report by Washington-based financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI) that Malaysia has maintained its position as one of the top five countries in the world suffering the highest illicit capital outflow in the past decade, 2000-2009, involving over RM1 trillion (US$338 billion or RM1,077 billion) as a result of corruption and misgovernance!

Apart from one small inconsequential paragraph about the Utusan judgment, there have been total blackout of these three developments in the Barisan-controlled “mainstream media”.

Recently, coinciding with the UMNO General Assembly, Malaysia suffered its worst international report card for anti-corruption when the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2011 gave the country its worst ranking in 17 years as well as the lowest-ever CPI score – placed No. 60 when Malaysia was ranked No. 23 in 1995 with a score of 4.3 when Malaysia scored 5.32 in 1996.

With the egregious “blackout” of unfavourable news by Barisan Nasional mainstream media as happened blatantly in the past three days, Malaysia’s press freedom index is set to nosedive further in future – as if Malaysia’s press freedom index is not bad enough.

In conjunction with the World Press Freedom Day in May this year, Malaysia was ranked 143 out of 196 countries in terms of press freedom, categorised as “not free”, in the Freedom of the Press Survey 2011 by US-based Freedom House.

After the “black eyes” by Transparency International and Financial Global Integrity, and the bulldozing of the undemocratic and repressive Peaceful Assembly Bill in Parliament, Malaysians must be prepared to suffer more “black eyes” by other international watchdogs for freedom, integrity and good governance in the coming year.

Landmark NoorFadilla “Pregnant Teacher” Case On Gender Equality

ImageLoyarBurok 
PusatRakyatLB aka Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism & Human Rights (MCCHR)

JAG said it is ‘a giant leap for gender equality’. In a first-of-its-kind decision in Malaysia, the High Court held that pregnancy as a reason not to employ a woman is a form of gender discrimination, and therefore unconstitutional under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

The well-written Grounds of Judgment delivered by Zaleha Yusof J. sitting at the Shah Alam High Court has just been made available. It is a refreshing read – combining international human rights law (particularly CEDAW), and our own Federal Constitution, to support (to our minds at least) a correct decision prohibiting gender discrimination.

The matter is being appealed by the Government, and we await the hearing date of the appeal. Fingers crossed, the Court of Appeal will uphold this brilliant pro-human rights decision.

This post is reproduced from here.

Najib Announces RM5 Million Allocation To Boost Works Of Young Writers

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced an allocation of RM5 million for the publication of books on original work by young writers through the Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books (ITBM).

The allocation would be channeled in stages over a two-year period to ensure the production of original works from writers besides functioning as a lead agency in the field of translation, he said.

"This involved a rebranding of the institute to ITBM from its original name. The government is confident ITBM will manage the funds allocated to ensure the original work of writers can be published within three to six months.

"I am also announcing that Percetakan Nasional Berhad has agreed to form a strategic alliance with ITBM and the Malaysian National Writers Association (PENA) towards the success of this effort," he said when speaking at the opening of PENA's Golden Jubilee 50 years celebration here Friday night.

Also present were PENA chairman Dr Mohamad Saleeh Rahamad and ITBM managing director Khair Ngadiron.

At the ceremony, Najib also announced an allocation of RM1 million to renovate Rumah PENA.

The Prime Minister said the role of writers was important in the realization of the government to transform the country into an advanced and high income nation by 2020 as the progress was not measured in material gain alone.

"Achievements in thinking, literature and culture are equally important as a measure of progress for the individual.

"It is also true that the struggle of our political forefathers was inspired and aroused by the writings of our writers in the past," he said.

Interlok withdrawn from secondary school syllabus

(Malaysiakini) Close to a year since the controversy broke out, the government has announced that it will withdraw the novel Interlok from the secondary school syllabus.

MIC president G Palanivel said today that the government has decided to withdraw the controversial novel from the secondary school syllabus.

The decision was made at the last cabinet meeting, he added.

He said Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will make an official announcement soon.

"The decision was made after taking many factors into consideration. The Indian community is grateful for the decision," said Palanivel.

The novel has been a bone of contention among the members of the Indian community as the community claims that it contains offensive words and encourages stereotypes.

Interlok remained as the textbook for the literature component
of the Bahasa Malaysia subject for Form Five this year but with amendments to several aspects deemed sensitive by the Indian community.

NONEAccording to Bernama, Human Resource Minister Dr S Subramaniam  confirmed the cabinet's decision.

The MIC deputy president also hoped the withdrawal of the
novel, authored by national laureate Abdullah Hussain (middle in photo), would be accepted by all quarters and end the controversy.

"The minister of education has agreed not to use this book from next year and I hope his announcement will prevent further acrimony over words deemed sensitive used in the novel," he was quoted as saying in Ayer Keroh today.
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Comments from Malaysiakini


Anti-TokKok Is this lame-duck MIC president qualified to speak for INDIANS in general? And why should the Indian community be grateful for this bare-faced racism? Sometimes, I wonder what this world is coming to..... Such disgusting, repulsive and arrogant racists who dare to imagine themselves as so-called "top" national leaders of this blighted country.

Freemsia Whoa,.... good things surely can be seen when election is coming. To all my Indian friends, do make sure to go home and tell your parents that all of this has nothing to do with taking care of the feeling of the Indians and has EVERYTHING to do to make Indians feel good and vote for BN.

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum Palanivel and MIC can be grateful for this; the Indians care not.

PS_207d Damage is damage and MIC UMNO dont expect the indians will vote for you.We will bury the idiots

Anonymous_4182 Teaching our school children, the future leaders of Malaysia the truth and nothing but the truth on history of this country seems so sensitive by politician. These young minds are going to grow up to find out they have been duped by irresponsible politicians who care not for real knowledge, but been fed fabled tales of the history of their country. What sort of leaders do we have? They called themselves desperately champion of the people. Patriots!

AKUCINA A little bit of sweetener for the Indians pre-GE13. Some 'smart Indians' will run with joy. Wake Up, Macha.

Malaysian Born This should have been done a long time ago, there was no need for all the delays. It was clear as day to any literate, decent person with any breeding that the references in the book were unacceptable. Once the issue was brought up it should have been dealt with imediately by removing it from the curriculum. There is nothing wrong with the book being available as literature in librarys but for it to be part of the official curriculum basically meant that the government is in agreement with the sentiments expressed since there are direct references in the local context, this cannot be. So much goodwill and credibility was lost by all this back and forth and silly excuses. I dont think anyone is impressed at this point but I feel that one must always be appreciative of any correct and righteous decisions by the government.

Zz2XX Palanivel, why on earth should the Indian community be grateful for the decision? It took umNO one whole year to decide on the matter. At almost the eve of GE13, umNO finally decided to withdraw the book just make it look good. Damn hypocrites.

Narrish Damage done , no forgive.We will still vote out UMNO and cronies.

AnSoN mooheeedeeen lost his water face and all those defenders of the so called novel???? where is your pride????? fight lah and defend for it not to be withdrawn. hei hei hei, if I am an Indian, I will tell ya, go fly kite, I don't give a damn if you withdraw or now later or before, shit damage is done and I will be plain stupid to be taken into believe the bloody gomen's sincerirty. fark you moooooheeeeedeeeeen and the bloody gomen.

Anonymous_ABG One ass said that Indians came here as beggers then a text book comes out stating Indians (Tamils)are pariahs - which definitely embraces the Mentri Besar of Perak - and now we are told the Interlok book which generously says Tamil Indians are pariahs is being withdrawn. The truth is yet to be confrmed by the Education Minister. The timing is such that UMNO has thrown a sucked-up bone to the MIC for election support - will the Tamils support BN?.The fact that Nallakaruppan of a rival Indian party which is not in the BN family is an insult to MIC. MIC has lost its respect - its best for MIC to withdraw from BN.ABG

Malaysian53 The only consideration is GE13 period! Enough lah MIC chief. This is long overdue and there is nothing to thank about. First a racist fiction is used as a history book in secondary schools! After all the reluctance to change, all of a sudden there can be a reversal. Don't the Indians have half a brain to ask? On top of everything, we need a mandore, Palanival to thank the biggest racist of all, Muhyiddin. I sincerely hope the Indians will use their common sense at GE13. Unless the Indians want another 50 years of marginalisation from Govt, schools, universities etc.

Alan Goh The Interlok is withdrawn from secondary school syllabus is not because of MIC lah but to pull wool over the Indian voters eyes due to the coming 13th General Election.. It is just like the BR1M where RM500-00 is given to every house-hold whose annual income is less than RM3000/-. Why is it only after 54 yrs under the corrupted UMNO/BN is the Government that generous with tax-payers money.Use your head lah and do not fall for the 1Malaysia PM ruse. Rational and Bersih voters should just take the BR1M RM500-00 which rightly belongs to them and continue to vote for for a change of Government that is Bersih and accountable to the Rakyat.After all,what is the BR1M RM500/-one-off payment to the poor rakyat as compared to the RM250 million loan given to NFC just for Ternakan Lembu.Use your head,boy!!!

Dr Suresh Kumar Credit should go to the 54 Hindraf activists who took part in the anti-Interlok protest and also to Saudara Thasleem Mohammad of NIAT for their relentless campaign against a school book which makes a hypocritical mockery of Najib's so-called 1MALAYSIA. Following this decision by the government, the case against the Hindraf 54 who are staring at a three-year jail term for speaking up against a book which promotes racism in schools should be dropped immediately. If more serious charges against the PSM 6 and the Bersih 2.0 activists could be dropped, civil society must also demand that the ridiculous charges against the Hindraf 54 be also dropped. The incapacitated MIC numbskull should fight for the 54 instead of claiming credit for the hard work and sufferings of others.

Observer of Johor "The decision was made after taking many factors into consideration. The Indian community is grateful for the decision," said Palanivel. Our Indian friends, don't be too happy, the Government took one year to come to this decision. After GE 13, if BN garnered the majority, everything might be reversed, you know the Flip Flop ..

Astraltroubleshooter Apple polisher and desperadoes are at work to get the Indians votes. The Malaysians Voters say "Balls to You - the UMNO-BN Regime" The Racism nurtured by the UMNO-BN for the last 54 years is dead. It is finished and will be buried in the same coffin with UMNO at the 13th GE to be held in January (very likely) after the 9th when the future Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim is put off. GET IT STRAIGHT, WE THE MALAYSIAN RAKYAT ARE DETERMINED TO REMOVE THE CORRUPT REGIME.

crony a single individual being called metallic black , demand for apology ...a whole community being called pariah and intended to be used as education material...now withdraw , no need for apology , instead the indian chief says grateful to the ones who called them pariah ...now , the whole community will happily vote for BN .....where else can this happen but only in BN Malaysia...Malaysia Bolih

Lone_star The gratittude game continues. The Bn gomen is going to demand the Indian community to express its gratitude for this magnanimous withdrawal of Interlok. Hopefully, the community can remember how long drawn out the fight was to get the said book withdrawn in the first place. Please, also do remember who started the controversy. The MINIster of Education is suddenly so very bisu.

Makcik Har Those people in the Education Ministry and UMNO Gomen cabinet are real dunggus ! Everybody was saying the novel should be withdrawn from day 1. Instead they form this committee that committee to study this and that. All makan gaji buta ! So much angst was caused. Now after 1 year , they decide to withdraw it. Real Dunggus !

Onyourtoes Why the proud Minister for Education did not announce this news? Has it ever occurred to you, Palanivel and Subra, this very act is a sign of arrogance - that he has no respect for the Indian community. Pariah in Interlok is one thing and being treated like one is another.

Louis No, the book was withdraw not due to other factors. It is withdrawn only due to one factor - to win Indian votes!!!

1Malay-sia-sia Damage already done....u arrogant idiot Moo-moo. Why withdraw only now.....what changes between then and now......GE13....right???

Gandhi Candy to the gullible Indians. MIC, don't you fellows think that you worked for it. Hindraf, the active movement and other passive groups played a big role in opposing this novel. Credit goes to these people and NOT MIC.

Saneesvara the mamak's foresight is damn good, he can see all the idiots now surfacing

Anticommunalist First you introduce a racist syllabus. Then you withdraw it after the damage is already done. Then MIC beats the drums and go all over the village proclaiming UMNO is great. Is this a circus govt or what ?
Anti-corruption Anthony. Election around the corner. Bee End can do wonder. Flip flop MOE.

ksn What are the factors that the Education Minister took into account, Acting MIC boss? GE is around the corner,right? Did not the Education Minister categorically refuse to withdraw the infamous book after many attempts by MIC, NGOs and even the panel set up to study the book which recommended it's withdrawal? If for this silly withdrawal, if the Indians vote for UMNOBNMIC, they fully deserve the marginalization, the neglect, insults, abuses suffered by them, all with the compliments of UMNO, MIC, Mahathir and Samy, for more than 30 years, bringing them to their present state of shame- orphans in prosperous Malaysia. Do not forget Indians that you and your forefathers played a critical role towards this prosperity which the Malays benefited immensely from, enjoying it thoroughly. They can insult, humiliate, marginalize the Indians but no one should forget that the Indians in Malaysia and elsewhere are the descendants of a great culture and civilization.Think about it Indians,others.

Compass Score : The People - 1 Muhyddin -0

Ape man The hurt which was felt cannot be removed.Hurt is Hurt and can never be forget.

Saneesvara Next should be BTN (Biro Tata Negara)

malaysianstudent as usual, this is used as a tool for MIC to get back indian voters. why didnt the minister of education announce it? since this was pertaining to school syllabus. stupid political gimmick to potray MIC as champions of interlok issue.