Share |

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'Individual Jihad' Becomes New Face of Terror in 2011

The body of a suicide bomber lies in the doorway of Bethel Injil Sepenuh church in Solo, Central Java, on Sept. 25. (AFP Photo)  
The body of a suicide bomber lies in the doorway of Bethel Injil Sepenuh church in Solo, Central Java, on Sept. 25. (AFP Photo) 

In 2011, the nation got several wake-up calls that radicalism was still alive in Indonesia despite the arrests and convictions of key terrorists the year before.

“We’ve had it coming,” terrorism expert Noor Huda Ismail told the Jakarta Globe recently.

The first sobering wake-up call came in March. That month, mysterious packages containing explosives in the guise of books were delivered to several selected targets, including a co-founder of the Liberal Islam Network (JIL), Ulil Abshar Abdalla, as well as rock star Ahmad Dani.

Ulil’s bomb package was found first, but it exploded when a police officer attempted to defuse it before the bomb squad arrived. The officer lost his hand in the explosion and two other officers were injured.

The people responsible for the book bombs were arrested in Aceh a month later, following the discovery of five bombs near a Catholic church in Serpong, Tangerang, that were scheduled to explode on Good Friday.

The ringleader of the book bomb plot, Pepi Fernando, 32, was not connected to any known radical groups in Indonesia, such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Indonesian Mujahideen Council (MMI) or Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid(JAT), the terrorist organization of hard-line cleric Abu Bakar Bashir,

Pepi was, however, known as an activist for the Indonesian Islamic State (NII) movement, which aspires to overthrow the secular republic in favor of an Islamic state. He had built a network of like-minded people at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) in Jakarta, where he had studied.

The 14 other people arrested for the attempted bombing in Serpong were also UIN alumni, all between the ages of 20 and 30 years old.

“Pepi and his group learned to make bombs on the Internet,” Noor Huda said. “They determined their targets by Googling, for instance, ‘Indonesian Jews.’ ”

The group’s selected targets included Ahmad Dani, Yapto Soerjosoemarno, Ulil Abshar Abdalla and Gories Mere.

Rock star Dani was picked because the plotters thought he often wore clothes with Jewish symbols and characters; Japto was perceived as a Jew and a fanatic defender of the national ideology, Pancasila, which the group regarded as inspired by Hindu teachings; Ulil allegedly misinterpreted the Koran; and Gories was targeted as the former head of the National Police’s antiterror squad, Densus 88.

“[This year] marked the rise of individual jihad,” Noor Huda said. “Small groups conducted their own acts [partially] as a protest to the larger groups that went silent [after their leaders were gone].”

The country’s second wake-up call came in April when Muhammad Syarif blew himself up in a mosque at the Cirebon Police headquarters in West Java.

It was the first attack targeted at the government and at Indonesian Muslims. Syarif was the only fatality in the blast, but 30 people were injured.

As police investigators tried to pick up a lead on Syarif’s network, an Islamic boarding school in Bima district, West Nusa Tenggara, made headlines in July when a bomb detonated prematurely inside the school, killing the school’s treasurer.

In September, another suicide bombing occurred at a church in Solo, Central Java.

“We always forget that these people are radicals first, and then terrorists,” Noor Huda said, referring to Syarif and the Solo suicide bomber, Achmad Yosepa Hayat, who were both sworn in by Bashir upon joining JAT in Tasikmalaya, West Java, in 2008. “They don’t wake up one morning and realize that they’re terrorists.”

In the wake of the Solo attack, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) said in October that radicals may constitute 2 percent of the country’s population, or 1.8 million people.

“That’s why the BNPT needs all departments to collaborate in the de-radicalization process,” said BNPT head Ansyaad Mbai.

The country saw how radicalism can spread among young people when a teenage student at an Islamic boarding school in Bima stabbed a police officer to death in July. The 16-year-old student, Sa’ban Uma, said police officers were infidels because they worked for a government that did not apply Shariah law.

The Islamic boarding school’s principal, Abrory M. Ali, also admitted that he had participated in a paramilitary training camp in Poso, Central Sulawesi, where he learned how to use weapons and build bombs.

He had taken over the school after his predecessor, Mujahidul Haq, a JAT member known as Uqbah, was arrested on suspicion of raising funds for a terrorist training camp in Aceh.

Intelligence analyst Al Chaidar believes that with the “major players” gone from the scene, small cells are now “competing” with each other in jihad.

“There is a contest among the small terrorist groups,” Chaidar said. “They compete in jihad, to see which group can do best.

“The small groups can be more brutal since they carry out their actions based on pure hatred. Hatred toward Christians, non-Muslims, churches, Americans or Israel, without a clear reason.”

Chaidar also said small cells were more difficult to stamp out.

“The smaller the size, the safer they are,” he said. “If they’re more mobile, they’re less likely to be discovered.”

He added that most terrorists tried to involve their own family members in their networks. “It minimizes the chance of betrayal and leaks,” he said.

Ansyaad, the BNPT head, said the country had “dozens” of such terrorist groups, consisting of “hundreds” of members.

“But out of these hundreds, we currently only have sufficient evidence to name 15 people as suspects,” he said. “These people are still at large.”

This year, security forces have arrested at least 108 suspected militants and terrorists. As of April, BNPT said it had made as many as 600 arrests, with 500 of those being prosecuted.

Noor Huda and Chaidar agreed that more government ministries, especially those for education and religious affairs, should be involved in national de-radicalization programs.

“There are more or less 127 Islamic boarding schools that could be linked to JI [Jemaah Islamiyah],” Chaidar said. “Has the government done anything to introduce multiculturalism to these schools?”

According to Sukemi, an adviser to the Ministry of Education and Culture, his ministry and the Ministry of Religious Affairs have been involved in several de-radicalization programs since 2010.

“We’ve held various workshops and seminars in universities and high schools, involving teachers, principals and students, at both private and state schools,” Sukemi said.

Dhyah Madya Ruth, the chairwoman of the Jakarta-based peace group Lazuardi Birru, is involved with the government’s de-radicalization programs, though she acknowledged that they had limited reach.

“We are still trying to refine the methods,” she said of the programs. “Every year we’re trying to find the best one.”

Aside from education, Noor Huda said the government should focus on the care and rehabilitation of convicted terrorists.

“For people like Pepi and his friends who are self-made terrorists, what happens if they all meet charismatic leaders such as Abu Tholut in prison?” he said.

Abu was sentenced in October to eight years in jail for helping establish a jihadist camp for a group that plotted attacks on foreigners and assasinations of the country’s moderate Muslims leaders.

In May, a former Australian intelligence analyst concluded that Indonesian jails often act as incubators of terrorism.

Based on interviews with 33 Indonesian terror convicts, the analyst, Dr. Carl Ungerer, found that the convicts were often placed in the same prison block where they could mingle.

He said jihadists also used prison mosques to preach and recruit new members.

Chaidar also said that many convicts use “de-radicalization” funds to “re-radicalize” others.

“They were given money to start a new life, but they use it to fund their next jihad,” he said.

Noor Huda said a revised Anti-Terrorism Law might hold the key for improvements.

“The law needs to be more rehabilitative, involving terrorist convicts and their immediate relatives,” he said. “And it needs to employ extraordinary methods because terrorism is an extraordinary crime.”

Muhyiddin: No bullying under Article 153

Muhyiddin said Eu was interpreting Article 153 of the constitution incorrectly.—File pic
SHAH ALAM, Dec 27 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin denied today that any community had been bullied as a result of Article 153 of the Constitution as claimed by a senior Christian leader last weekend.

The deputy prime minister told reporters that the clause, which charges the Agong with protecting the position of Bumiputeras, was “enshrined in the Constitution (because) there is history, there is a rationale”.

“That is an incorrect interpretation,” the Umno deputy president said when asked to comment on National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) chairman Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng’s claim that Article 153 was akin to “bullying” if it only protected the rights of one group.

“The government’s policies under Barisan Nasional (BN) have served all. Efforts to help all levels of society... are all sealed in the (social) contract that has been implemented all this while.

“I hope no debate is sparked for certain purposes. What is already enshrined in the constitution should not be questioned,” the Pagoh MP said.

Perkasa had responded to Eu on Sunday by saying the Article helped keep the country peaceful, further claiming that the race riots of May 13, 1969 happened because it was not implemented properly.

“This country is peaceful because of Article 153 which protects the rights of Bumiputeras who are the majority in this country.

“The reverend needs to remember that Christians are able to practise their religion without worry in this country because of Article 153,” Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hasan Syed Ali said.

Muhyiddin had also said yesterday no one was sidelined under BN due to the ruling coalition’s power-sharing concept that is based on a common understanding among the various races and religions.

The Pagoh MP cited the RM2 billion to be handed out to all households earning less than RM3,000 a month under Budget 2012 as an example of “how we give equal treatment without looking at your background, race or religion.”

Article 153 states that “it shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.”

The provision in the Federal Constitution has been repeatedly invoked by Malay right-wing groups who insist on the continuance of pro-Bumiputera affirmative action.

These include quotas in education, scholarships, business equity and employment in the public sector.

But constitutional expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari said on Sunday this meant “the King must also make sure that (safeguarding Bumiputeras) must not be done at the expense of the legitimate interests of other communities.”

Muhyiddin looking into blogger’s graft claim

The deputy premier is looking into the allegation that his private secretary allegedly received bribes.

SHAH ALAM: Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is looking into the allegations by an anonymous blogger that his private secretary received bribes.

FMT had reported last week the blogger’s claim that Muhyiddin’s senior aide Mohd Shukor Abdul Manan received more than RM100,000 in kickbacks.

The blogger, who calls himself Whistleblower 771, also named Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s senior aide and Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Husin in his allegation.

Muhyiddin said he was not aware of any wrongdoing but promised to probe the matter.

Mahkamah berdepan pelbagai kes perlembagaan

Beberapa keputusan mengejut dicatat sepanjang tahun 2011.

Oleh Suriati Sidek Ahmad

KUALA LUMPUR: Badan kehakiman terus berdepan dalam menangani lebih banyak kes berhubung isu perlembagaan tahun ini terutama hak individu.

Awal bulan lepas, empat lelaki yang memilih kerjaya sebagai mak andam, mendapat kebenaran Mahkamah Tinggi Seremban untuk mencabar perintah undang-undang Syariah yang menghalang mereka berpakaian seperti perempuan.

Mereka meminta Mahkamah Tinggi mengisytiharkan Seksyen 66 Enakmen Jenayah Syariah Negeri Sembilan 1992 tidak mempunyai kesan dan tidak terpakai kepada mereka yang secara psikologi adalah wanita atau mempunyai kecelaruan identiti jantina.

Hakim Rosnaini Saub membuat keputusan itu atas pendapat bahawa permohonan itu membabitkan pelbagai isu perlembagaan.

Bagaimanapun tarikh pendengaran permohonan semakan kehakiman yang difailkan mereka belum ditetapkan.

Dalam permohonan itu, Muhamad Juzaili Mohd Khamis, 24, Shukor Jani, 25, Wan Fairol Wan Ismail, 27 dan Adam Shazrul Mohd Yusoff, 25, menamakan Jabatan Hal Ehwal Agama Islam Negeri Sembilan, pengarahnya, ketua pegawai penguatkuasa syariah, ketua pendakwa raya syariah dan kerajaan negeri sebagai responden.

Antara lain, Seksyen 66 didakwa menafikan hak mereka dari segi kebebasan melahirkan perasaan masing-masing dan enakmen itu menyebabkannya sukar bergerak dan ini merupakan satu pelanggaran hak mengikut Perkara 9(2) Perlembagaan Persekutuan mengenai mobiliti.

Mereka juga mendakwa seksyen itu juga melanggar Perkara 5 Perlembagaan Persekutuan berhubung hak kebebasan terutama dari segi kebebasan memilih.

Tukar jantina

Di Kuala Terengganu, Mohd Ashraf Hafiz Abdul Aziz, 25, yang menjalani pembedahan menukar jantina dua tahun lepas, gagal dalam permohonan untuk menukar namanya kepada Aleesha Farhana Abdul Aziz dalam MyKad.

Mahkamah Tinggi yang mendengar kes itu memutuskan ia tidak mempunyai bidang kuasa untuk mengeluarkan perintah berhubung penukaran status jantina dalam dokumen pengenalan diri dengan hanya berdasarkan pembedahan menukar jantina ekoran ketiadaan peruntukan yang membenarkan mahkamah berbuat demikian.

Dalam penghakimannya, Hakim Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa berkata keputusan itu juga dibuat setelah mengambil kira tiga faktor iaitu kromosom, kewujudan alat kelamin semasa pemohon dilahirkan dan kewujudan organ dalaman.

Mohd Ashraf, yang berasal dari Seberang Takir, memfailkan permohonan itu pada 25 Mei selepas menjalani pembedahan menukar jantina di Thailand kerana mendakwa berdepan kesukaran untuk hidup secara normal sebagai seorang wanita, selain memudahkan beliau diterima masuk ke sebuah universiti tempatan.

Hakim Mohd Yazid juga memutuskan bahawa Mohd Ashraf bukanlah wanita tulen walaupun beliau telah menjalani pembedahan menukar jantina.

Dua minggu selepas itu, Mohd Ashraf meninggal dunia akibat serangan jantung tidak stabil.

Politik pelajar

Satu lagi keputusan “mengejutkan” dibuat Mahkamah Rayuan yang mengisytiharkan Seksyen 15(5)(a) Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti (AUKU) 1971 yang melarang mahasiswa menyatakan sokongan atau bangkangan dalam aktiviti politik sebagai tidak sah di sisi undang- undang.

Dalam keputusan majoriti 2-1, panel tiga hakim memutuskan seksyen itu tidak munasabah dan melanggar kebebasan bersuara.

Hakim Datuk Mohd Hishamuddin Mohd Yunus dan Datuk Linton Albert membuat keputusan itu setelah membenarkan rayuan empat penuntut jurusan sains politik Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), yang berdepan tindakan disiplin kerana didakwa terbabit dalam kempen pilihan raya kecil bagi Parlimen Hulu Selangor pada 24 April tahun lepas.

Sementara itu Hakim Datuk Wira Low Hop Bing, yang mengetuai panel itu menentang dan memutuskan bahawa larangan itu perlu bagi mengelakkan ideologi politik meresap di kalangan penuntut yang mudah terdedah, tertakluk kepada tekanan rakan sebaya dan mudah terpengaruh, yang akan menjejaskan peranan utama universiti dalam menyediakan pendidikan.

Bagaimanapun, Hakim Hishamuddin berpendapat seksyen itu tidak rasional kerana ia menghalang pembangunan pemikiran kritis dan asli penuntut institusi pengajian tinggi.

Hakim Albert pula berkata seksyen itu melanggar Perkara 10(1)(a) Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang membenarkan kebebasan bersuara dan ekspresi.

Selain itu, perbicaraan kes liwat ketua pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim terus mendapat liputan meluas media.

Bagaimanapun, Mahkamah Tinggi akan membuat keputusan sama ada Anwar bersalah atau sebaliknya pada 9 Jan depan bagi pertuduhan melakukan persetubuhan di luar tabii terhadap bekas pembantunya, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 26, tiga tahun lepas.

- Bernama

Quetta’s (Pakistan) Hindus demand govt to protect them from kidnappers, killers & persecutors.
Hindu Sit-in outside Baloch Assembly against Hindu trader’s killing, ransom, torture.
QUETTA, 23rd December, 2011 : Members of the Hindu community staged a protest demonstration in front of the Balochistan Assembly (BA) on Friday against increasing incidents of kidnapping for ransom in the province.
The protestors took out a procession from Arya Samaj temple on Masjid Road and after marching through different parts of the city, staged a protest demonstration in front of the BA building.
The protesting people, including children, were carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans demanding protection from criminals.
Addressing the protestors, Raday Sham and Dr Maher Chand, members of Hindu Panchayat, said police should investigate the killing of young Hindu trader Ravi Kumar, whose bullet-riddled body was found in Quetta after his family failed to pay the ransom money to his abductors.
The members of the Hindu community raised slogans against the government for its failure to protect the life of those belonging to minority communities.
Provincial minister for minorities Basant Lal Gulshan and Minister for Revenue Zamurkh Khan Achakzai addressed the protesting Hindu community members and tried to pacify them.
Achakzai said that the law enforcing agencies were constantly striving against the kidnapping gangs operating in Quetta and other parts of the province.
“Police have booked many suspects and also carrying out raids in different localities including Saryab and Pashtunabad areas of Quetta. Soon, the criminals will be brought to book,” he ensured.
The protestors called off their protest after the provincial minster assured them that he will arrange a meeting between a delegation of Hindu community and Chief Minister, to resolve the issues.

Embattled Indonesian Church Forced to Celebrate Christmas in Private Home

Congregants of the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor held their Christmas service in the house of one of its members on Sunday. The site of the service was moved after their attempt to use the Yasmin building was thwarted by opposing Islamic groups. Suara Pembaruan Photo/Joanito De Saojoao 
Congregants of the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor held their Christmas service in the house of one of its members on Sunday. The site of the service was moved after their attempt to use the Yasmin building was thwarted by opposing Islamic groups. Suara Pembaruan Photo/Joanito De Saojoao 

Bogor. The congregation of the embattled GKI Yasmin church in Bogor was forced to move its Christmas prayers to a member’s house after Islamic groups assembled at the disputed site and threatened to challenge the sermon on Sunday.

The service was slated to start at 9 a.m. in the sealed church on Jalan Abdullah bin Nuh, but the congregants went elsewhere after members of the Indonesian Muslim Communication Forum (Forkami), the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis) and the Bogor Muslim Community (KMB) objected to that plan.

The opposition protestors came to the church in the morning and shouted to guarding police officers and members of the public order agency (Satpol PP) to expel the congregation.

“On December 23, they were given a letter stating that they are banned from holding a prayer here. The letter clearly mentioned they can’t hold the service,” Forkami head Ahmad Iman said.

Garis head Majudien threatened to deploy his members to the location in a mass Muslim gathering known as tabligh akbar should the Yasmin congregation insist on holding the service there.

Police blocked the roads around the church and diverted traffic to other roads for security reasons.

The modest Christmas service was attended by Lily Wahid and Inayah Wahid, sister and daughter of the late president Abdurrahman Wahid, as well as representatives from GP Ansor, the youth wing of Indonesia’s largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama, and the Asian Muslim Action Network.

A number of veiled female Muslims were seen at the scene distributing flowers to express support for religious freedom.

Inayah said the groups who continued to pressure the Yasmin congregation didn’t represent the true spirit of Islam, saying that the Prophet Mohammed himself lived in harmony, side by side with Christians and Jews in Medina.

“Now the diversity of Indonesia can be seen at this small house,” Inayah said.

The letter issued by controversial Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto ordered Yasmin to move its service to a public building near the contested church, but the congregation refused to obey on the grounds that the building was not a worship venue.

“It seems that Diani Budiarto issued the letter to confront Yasmin’s congregation against those intolerant mass,” church spokesman Bona Sigalingging said.

The mayor earlier ordered the closure of the church, arguing that the founders had falsified signatures in the process to acquire a city permit.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the mayor must reopen the church, but the city government has continued to deny the congregation access to the building.

The central government has thus far failed to take a clear stance on the dispute.

Police Admit Bedouin Abuse, Abduct Young Jewish Girls

Young Bedouin woman.
Young Bedouin woman.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Voice of Israel radio reports growing phenomenon in Negev, with seven cases last month alone. Victims are aged 11-18.

Bedouin and other Arabs in the northern Negev are increasingly involved in predatory relationships with young Jewish girls, according to Voice of Israel government-run radio. The relationships sometimes begin as romantic involvements, often with under-aged minors, and develop into rape, abductions and abuse.
Seven victims last month alone are aged 11-18. These are only cases that were reported to police, but many others are believed to have taken place without being reported.
Complaints were filed to the police in four cases of such abductions last month in Kiryat Malachi alone, and a fifth case of rape.
Voice of Israel radio said that all four cases of abductions in Kiryat Malachi involved young Bedouin men. The rape took place on the Ashkelon beach last weekend.
In one of the abduction cases, two men from the Bedouin city of Rahat, aged 40 and 24, were arrested, but one has since been released.
In the rape case, the main suspect is a resident of the Palestinian Authority who is illegally staying inside pre-1949 Israel. He has been charged and two other Arabs who were also present at the scene of the crime face lesser charges.
Voice of Israel's reporter in southern Israel, Asaf Kuzailov, said that the phenomenon is on the rise and is a well known one – to residents, to police and welfare authorities. It is confirmed by the Center for Assistance to Women in the Negev.
Regarding the abductions, Voice of Israel interviewed Zehava Drori of NGO Yad L'Achim's Anti-Assimilation department, who said that while Arab abductions of Jewish girls occur throughout Israel, the cases in southern Israel are typified by greater violence. While the victims in other parts of Israel are usually 16 or older, the ages of the victims in the south are often lower.
Police say that they can only get involved in cases where a specific complaint has been filed, and where there is evidence of abduction and abuse. Police and welfare elements note that the cases do not necessarily start as kidnappings. Often the relationships are consensual at first, with the Arabs plying the girls with money, gifts, attention and warmth that they lack at home. In other cases, the contention is that the girls who were taken to the Arab villages later returned home, and so the men cannot be charged with abduction.
The abuse often begins at a later stage and by then it is hard to determine that the girls are not responsible for their actions, they said.
Voice of Israel reported a specific case of a girl they called Tania from Ashkelon, who fell in love with an Arab from Gaza and moved in with him. After she became pregnant she was tied up at home for days on end and beaten. This happened five years ago, and she is now back in Israel, but still suffers from trauma.
Yad L'Achim says about 1,000 cases of Jewish girls being held against their will by Arabs occur every year.
The Family Lobby, which blames a breakdown in parental -- and particularly paternal -- authority in the Jewish sector for the problem, noted that the Israeli feminist movement and women's organizations do nothing to raise public awareness of Arab predatory behavior against Jewish girls, as that would negate their leftist credo.
"While separation of buses in the hareidi sector and religious soldiers' requests to be excused from immodest performances receive top headlines for months on end, thanks to militant feminist politicians and journalists, actual rape and abduction of minor girls is swept under the rug by these groups because it is carried out by their Arab darlings," the group's chairman, Gil Ronen, said. "Unfortunately, nationalist and religious women have not made an effort to forge an independent agenda for their women's groups on this issue, and are content to be led by the ultra-leftists, who use them for bashing religious men and Jewish religion in general."

Muhyiddin says no one sidelined under BN

Muhyiddin added today national unity has been strengthened in the 54 years since independence due to BN’s power-sharing concept. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KAJANG, Dec 26 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin denied today the Barisan Nasional (BN) government had sidelined any group, after the Church and Malay rights group Perkasa clashed over whether Article 153 of the Constitution safeguarded the rights of all communities.

The deputy prime minister told thousands at the government’s Christmas open house here that the Najib administration “does not look at your background, religion or race” in formulating policy.

“No one is sidelined. All enjoy efforts to develop the nation,” the Umno deputy president said.

National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) chairman Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng said on Saturday Article 153 is akin to “bullying” if it only protects the rights of one group.

But Perkasa responded by saying the Article helped keep the country peaceful, further claiming that the race riots of May 13, 1969 happened because it was not implemented properly.

“This country is peaceful because of Article 153 which protects the rights of Bumiputeras who are the majority in this country.

“The reverend needs to remember that Christians are able to practise their religion without worry in this country because of Article 153,” Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hasan Syed Ali said.

Muhyiddin added today national unity has been strengthened in the 54 years since independence due to BN’s power-sharing concept that is based on a common understanding between the various races and religions.

The Pagoh MP cited the RM2 billion to be handed out to all households earning less than RM3,000 a month under Budget 2012 as an example of “how we give equal treatment without looking at your background, race or religion.”

Article 153 states that “it shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.”

The provision in the Federal Constitution has been repeatedly invoked by Malay right-wing groups who insist on the continuance of pro-Bumiputera affirmative action.

These include quotas in education, scholarships, business equity and employment in the public sector.

But constitutional expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari said yesterday this meant “the King must also make sure that (safeguarding Bumiputeras) must not be done at the expense of the legitimate interests of other communities.”

Muhyiddin also said today religious leaders were welcome to air their views and suggestions for the benefit of the nation.

Ramasamy says he was misquoted, yet again

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy is unperturbed by calls for his resignation by party supremo Karpal Singh and is instead blaming the latest brouhaha on misreporting by a national daily.

NONEThe embattled DAP deputy secretary-general, in an apparent move to settle the dispute, denied the content of a report in The Star of Dec 23 under the heading ‘DAP in distress’.

"On the morning of Dec 23, I called the reporter to express my regret about the content of the said article," Ramasamy told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

"He (the reporter) promised to put a retraction the same day on the publication's website.
However, on Dec 24, the statement was reduced to one sentence in an article headed 'DAP's Ramasamy changes his tune', he said.
'No grand design to oust me'

In the contentious article of Dec 23, Ramasamy had allegedly said that there was a plot to topple him because he did not heed requests for projects and favours from the party grassroots.

"They are now conspiring to invoke a grand design to oust me," Ramasamy was quoted saying.

This led to DAP national chairperson Karpal’s outburst, demanding Ramasamy resigns as Penang's deputy chief minister for not toeing the DAP central executive committee's (CEC) directive to refrain from making any public statement on the party or to openly attack its leaders.

"I categorically reject the allegations that I said DAP leaders were corrupt and that there was a grand design to oust me from Penang," said Ramasamy.

He explained that he had met with several reporters , including one from The Star, on Dec 21 to discuss state-related issues. However, The Star reported something else.

Adding that the content of the report was "baseless and frivolous", Ramasamy said he felt that "injustice" had been done to him.

"The last thing I want to do is to talk about internal party matters with the press," he said.

Asked if he had written to the CEC to explain the situation, Ramasamy, who is in Kuala Lumpur for a break, said that he preferred to defend himself through the media.
No problems with Karpal

"I am entitled to a clarification and that's why I arranged for this press conference."
Together with Ramasamy today, were DAP parliamentarians Charles Santiago (Klang), and M Manogaran (Teluk Intan), as well as senator S Ramakrishnan and Sungkai state assemblyperson A Sivanesan.

NONEJust as tension was easing between Karpal and Ramasamy on the public spat over the "godfather-warlord" row, the latest Ramasamy-Karpal exchange on Christmas Eve has again cast the spotlight on infighting within the DAP.
Asked whether he was on talking terms with Karpal, Ramasamy replied: "Why not? He (Karpal) is the national party chair. I've got no problems with him... I even used to call Karpal for advice from time to time."

He also left it to the party to decide on the next course of action, keeping mum on whether he would resign as Penang deputy chief minister.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Ramasamy has blamed the media for misquoting him.

He had earlier blamed Tamil daily Makkal Osai for misquoting him, prompting the whole “godfather-warlord” row.
The daily later admitted to Ramasamy's charge that he was misquoted and published a clarification.

Pengajaran daripada Interlok

Kontroversi novel itu membuktikan kewujudan kuasa rakyat atau The Third Force yang berani menegakkan kebenaran.
Genap setahun sejak Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman menghubungi saya dan meminta Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) melakukan sesuatu untuk “menghalang” penggunaan novel Interlok Edisi Murid sebagai teks Komsas.
Malah, panggilan telefon daripadanya bermula 20 Disember 2010 memberi pengajaran berguna kepada saya supaya sentiasa berhati-hati dan berwaspada dengan musang berbulu ayam.
Setahun kemudian, pada 21 Disember 2011, Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran, Datuk Seri Abdul Ghafar Mahmud membuat pengumuman rasmi bahawa novel Interlok Edisi Murid akan digantikan semula dengan novel Konserto Terakhir sebagai teks Komsas.
Maka, saya terpanggil untuk mengimbau sebahagian daripada begitu banyak “pengajaran” yang diterima daripada pengalaman terlibat secara langsung dalam kontroversi Interlok Edisi Murid selama setahun.
Sesungguhnya tidak adil jika saya dan Kavyan tidak merakamkan penghargaan tertinggi kepada Raja Rajeswari (bukan ahli Kavyan) yang mula-mula “mengadu” kepada kami.
Katanya, kandungan novel Interlok Edisi Murid memang menghina kaum India dan agama Hindu, serta tidak sesuai dijadikan teks di sekolah.
Saya juga sedar betapa penting dan perlu menyimpan SMS, e-mel dan rakaman perbualan telefon apabila berkomunikasi dengan orang yang disyaki sanggup menikam dari belakang.
Dokumentasi seperti itu menjadi amat penting apabila ada individu tertentu yang tiba-tiba berubah pendirian 180 darjah mulai 14 Januari 2011 dan mula mengatakan novel Interlok Edisi Murid tidak sedikit pun menghina kaum India dan sangat sesuai dijadikan teks di sekolah.
Kavyan turut menyedari betapa penting menyimpan rekod dan dokumentasi bahan sebagai rujukan. Sebab itulah kami berusaha menulis serta mengumpulkan bahan berkaitan kontroversi ini dan dipaparkan di blog sejak setahun lalu demi manfaat orang ramai.
Kita perlu mengkaji sesuatu perkara secara objektif, teliti dan mendalam sebelum membuka mulut atau membuat sebarang kenyataan; atau menyatakan pendirian.
Kavyan mengkaji novel Interlok dalam versi asal selain membaca edisi pelajar (2005) dan edisi murid (2010) sebelum membuat sebarang kenyataan. Sebab itulah pendirian Kavyan sejak hari pertama (3 Januari 2011) hingga kini tetap sama.
Saya ada bertemu beberapa pihak yang hanya membaca salinan fotokopi halaman 210 dan 211 novel Interlok Edisi Murid, tetapi mahu memulakan kempen besar-besaran mendesak novel itu diharamkan.
Di pihak satu lagi, ada yang membuat pendirian tegas bahawa novel itu tidak boleh diubah walau sepatah perkataan. Apabila saya menjelaskan bahawa edisi murid dan edisi pelajar tidak sama dengan edisi asal, ada beberapa tokoh terkebil-kebil kerana mereka ternyata tidak membaca novel berkenaan sebelum ke medan perang.
Saya juga sedar bahawa apabila kita berjuang bagi sesuatu yang benar, kita akan dihina, dicaci dan dipulaukan puak tertentu. Sekadar contoh, ada seorang individu yang menggunakan nama ‘Subari Ahmad’ mencadangkan menerusi Facebook supaya saya dikenakan tahanan di bawah ISA kerana bersikap anti-Melayu dan “cuba menggugat ketenteraman rakyat di negara ini”.
Kavyan bersikap objektif dan rasional dalam menangani kontroversi novel Interlok Edisi Murid. Kami mengkaji novel itu dari semua segi dan kami tegaskan sejak awal bahawa Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain (Pak Lah) selaku pengarang tidak boleh dipersalahkan dalam isu ini.
Ada pihak yang mendesak dan masih menggerakkan usaha meminta novel Interlok (termasuk edisi asal) diharamkan dengan alasan kandungan novel itu bertentangan dengan ajaran agama Islam. Ada juga yang mendesak Pak Lah memohon maaf kepada kaum India.
Kavyan menerima dengan baik keputusan menggantikan Interlok Edisi Murid dengan Konserto Terakhir oleh pengarang sama berikutan kegagalan Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (KPM) serta Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) memurnikan Interlok Edisi Murid yang dicetak semula dengan kulit biru baru-baru ini.
Saya menghubungi Datin Siti Saroja Basri (isteri Pak Lah) pada 21 Disember 2011 dan memaklumkan bahawa Kavyan akan terus memantau bagi memastikan KPM dan DBP membayar royalti bagi Interlok Kulit Merah (cetakan 2010) dan Interlok Kulit Biru (cetakan 2011) walaupun novel berkenaan ditarik balik selepas dicetak atas persetujuan dan kelulusan MIC yang berpuas hati dengan sekadar sekitar 20 peratus pemurnian.
Sementara ramai yang “unfriend” saya di Facebook sejak setahun lalu, ramai pula yang menambah saya sebagai rakan serta tampil membantu Kavyan secara sukarela dalam usaha memurnikan Interlok Edisi Murid. Kerjasama “silent majority” pelbagai kaum dan pelbagai bidang ini amat dihargai dan disanjung tinggi.
Bercakap mengenai parti politik dan politikus pula, saya amat bangga dan bersyukur kerana Kavyan sentiasa mengekalkan pendirian apolitikal serta tidak bernaung di bawah mana-mana parti politik.
Apa yang berlaku dalam kontroversi novel Interlok Edisi Murid sejak setahun lalu membuktikan bagaimana orang ramai (rakyat) boleh ditarik masuk ke dalam “sandiwara politik” yang saya namakan “Drama Paul Lathic”.
Bayangkan jika Kavyan bersikap pro-BN (termasuk UMNO dan MIC). Tentu segala kenyataan Kavyan sejak setahun lalu adalah berbaur pro-BN, pro-pemerintah, mengampu dan tentu kami tidak berani bersuara menegakkan kebenaran.
Begitu juga jika kami bersikap pro-PR. Memandangkan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim mengatakan beliau “tidak nampak apa-apa yang rasis pun” dalam novel itu, tentu Kavyan telah berubah pendirian 180 darjah – seperti yang dilakukan seorang penulis kaum India (bukan ahli Kavyan) yang menulis dalam bahasa Melayu.
Hasil penelitian saya, tidak salah jika dikatakan bahawa kontroversi yang wujud sengaja dijadikan “sandiwara” oleh politikus tertentu dalam usaha licik memancing undi rakyat menjelang Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13.
Kami memaafkan
Namun, percayalah! Rakyat Malaysia pada masa kini tidak mudah digula-gulakan. The damage has already been done dan tidak mudah untuk “memujuk” pengundi kembali menyokong mana-mana parti politik yang mengecewakan rakyat berulang kali.
Jadilah perubahan yang mahu anda saksikan di dunia ini. Tidak akan tercapai kebaikan sekiranya tidak ada sesiapa yang berani mengetengahkan kebenaran. Demikian antara pandangan Mahatma Gandi yang menjadi panduan dan pegangan Kavyan.
Sebagai individu yang turut dilantik menganggotai Panel Bebas Meminda Novel Interlok Edisi Murid, saya bangga dengan sikap profesional yang ditunjukkan oleh Setiausaha Satu Gapena, Profesor Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan dan Ketua Pengarah DBP, Datuk Termuzi Abd Aziz.
Walaupun kami berbalah, berbahas, berhujah, bertikam lidah dan tidak sependapat semasa bermesyuarat, tetapi di luar Panel Bebas, kami masih berkawan dan bersalam-salaman. Itulah semangat musyawarah yang diharapkan.
Pengarah Institut Kajian Etnik, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Profesor Datuk Shamsul Amri Baharuddin turut menunjukkan sikap profesional dengan menjadi pengerusi panel yang objektif dan tidak memihak kepada sesiapa.
Kavyan memutuskan untuk tidak mendendami sesiapa. Kami bersikap simpati dan empati. Kami memahami bahawa segala tindakan memburuk-burukkan Kavyan dilakukan akibat bersikap emosional; bukan rasional. Ya, kami memaafkan.
Sepanjang kontroversi novel Interlok Edisi Murid berlangsung, orang ramai turut menjadi pemerhati dan terlibat sama. Selepas keputusan pemurnian lebih 100 perkara diumumkan Menteri Pelajaran di Dewan Rakyat pada 24 Mac 2011, orang ramai turut menjadi pemantau bagi memastikan apa yang dijanjikan itu dilaksanakan.
Maka, sudah terbukti wujud kuasa rakyat atau apa yang disebut juga sebagai “The Third Force”. Misalnya seperti Kavyan sendiri yang bersikap apolitikal tetapi berani bersuara lantang dalam isu ini untuk memastikan KPM melaksanakan apa yang dijanjikan di Dewan Rakyat.
Bagaimanapun, apabila kontroversi novel Interlok Edisi Murid selesai, timbul pula persoalan: Apakah kaum India sudah mampu mencapai mobiliti sosial? Dan apakah perpaduan dan kerjasama yang ditunjukkan oleh kaum India sejak setahun lalu akan berkekalan?
Penulis teraniaya
Knowledge is power. Atas kesedaran itulah Kavyan sentiasa mempersiapkan diri dengan ilmu dan maklumat sebelum berhujah. Malangnya, ramai yang masih bersikap “tin kosong” dan membuka mulut (atau menghantar SMS) tanpa berfikir. Kerana pulut, santan binasa. …
Bagi KPM dan DBP pula, biarlah apa yang berlaku ini dijadikan suatu “pengajaran positif” agar bersikap penuh teliti dan profesional dalam soal buku teks sekolah. Paling kurang, edit sebuah novel dengan adil dan sempurna sebelum dijadikan teks Komsas.
Sepanjang kontroversi, ada persatuan penulis tertentu dan NGO tertentu yang kecewa kerana kaum India tidak mengenali Pak Lah. Saya rasa, secara umum, masyarakat pelbagai kaum kurang mengenali para Sasterawan Negara – kecuali Datuk A. Samad Said.
Maka, bolehlah KPM, DBP, persatuan penulis tertentu dan NGO terbabit menggerakkan usaha mempromosi Sasterawan Negara dan karya mereka kepada masyarakat pelbagai kaum. Kalau bukan sekarang, bila lagi? Tentu sahaja Kavyan sedia membantu.
Malah, sejak kontroversi ini timbul, para Sasterawan Negara mula tampil mengeluarkan “kenyataan bersama” berhubung isu bahasa dan sastera. Nah! Bukankah ini suatu keajaiban yang wajar dilihat sebagai hikmah?
Penglibatan Kavyan dalam isu ini sejak setahun lalu juga “membantu” orang ramai memahami dan menyedari pendirian, ketegasan serta keikhlasan kami.
Selepas ini, Kavyan akan menumpukan pula perhatian pada usaha membantu empat penulis yang dinafikan hak royalti bagi karya mereka yang dijadikan teks Komsas. Kebetulan, sekali lagi melibatkan kementerian yang sama!
Semoga “The Third Force” akan terus bersama-sama Kavyan dan “empat penulis teraniaya” dalam usaha murni ini yang juga dikatakan melawan arus.
Uthaya Sankar SB merupakan bekas pelajar SRK Convent Aulong, SM Darul Ridwan dan SM King Edward VII, Taiping. Koleksi bahan berkaitan Interlok Edisi Murid boleh dibaca di

Perkasa kecam pemimpin gereja kerana persoal perlembagaan

"Nampaknya serangan terhadap Artikel 153 sudah di tahap kemuncak apabila ketua agama lain juga mempersoalkannya," kata Setiausaha Agung, Syed Hasan Syed Ali.

PETALING JAYA: Perkasa mengecam pemimpin tinggi Gereja National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) Rev Dr Eu Hong Eng kerana mempersoalkan perlembagaan persekutuan.

Dr Eu dilaporkan sebagai berkata, Artikel 153 perlembagaan persekutuan seperti membuli jika hanya melindungi hak satu kaum sahaja.

Beliau berkata demikian dalam majlis jamuan teh Krismas yang turut dihadiri Menteri Jabatan Perdana Menteri Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dan isterinya Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail serta beberapa ahli politik BN dan Pakatan Rakyat .

Perkasa berpendapat paderi tersebut tidak faham apa Artikel 153 perlembagaan negara atau sengaja mahu menimbulkan ketegangan.

Setiausaha Agung, Syed Hasan Syed Ali berkata, imam Islam tidak pernah mengusik perlembagaan negara.

“Nampaknya serangan terhadap Artikel 153 sudah di tahap kemuncak apabila ketua agama lain juga mempersoalkannya.

“Lebih sedih ianya dipersoalkan dalam gereja oleh paderi,” katanya dalam kenyataan hari ini.

Fasa 153

Syed Hasan berkata, perkara begini tidak pernah berlaku dalam ucapan atau khutbah solat Aidilfitri mahupun Aidiladha.

Katanya, paderi sepatutnya menyampaikan ucapan yang sihat sesuai pada hari perayaan penganut Kristian dengan mengajak semua ke arah keharmonian bukan menegangkan suasana.

Beliau berkata, paderi itu perlu ingat mereka peganut Kristian boleh mengamalkan agama mereka tanpa ada rasa bimbang dalam negara ini kerana adanya Artikel 153.

“Negara ini aman kerana adanya Artikel 153 yang menjamin kepentingan kaum Bumiputera penduduk majoriti.

“Jika tiada Artikel 153 pastinya akan ada ketegangan. Peristiwa 13 Mei 1969 juga adalah berpunca dari Artikel 153 tidak dipratik dengan baik dan tegas,” tambahnya.

God versus religion

The Abrahamic faiths all believe that there is only one God. That makes it easy. However, there are three Abrahamic faiths and many more branches and sub-branches of these three faiths. And each of these faiths, branches and sub-branches claims that it is the only true faith and that all the others are false. That makes it complicating.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Just a short ‘Boxing Day’ note to assure you that I am still around.

Is it rational to believe in God?” asks Giovanni Serritella, which was published in Harakah, the party organ of PAS. You can read the article here:

The world has always addressed this matter as a theist versus atheist issue. You believe in the existence of God or you do not. However, it is not as simple as that. And because they have allowed very narrow parameters to the discussion it falls into a mere ‘yes’ or ‘no’ exercise.

I would like to introduce a new word, religionist, so that I can break the two groups into three (theists, religionists and atheists).

What I mean here is: there is one group that believes in the existence of God, another that does not, and a third that believes in the existence of God but not in religion. Once we expand the two groups into three it becomes easier to discuss the issue.

And this is where the religionists have been very devious. They not only reduce the groupings to two (theist and atheist) but they also tie the belief in God to the belief in religion. In other words, to believe in God you must also believe in religion.

Hence you must believe in the Trinity, that the road to salvation is through Christ and therefore you must accept Christ, or that Muhammad is the last Prophet and only by following Prophet Muhammad will you be ensured paradise, and so on. You are not allowed to believe in God independently. The belief in God must be packaged and tied to the belief in a religious doctrine. To reject this doctrine means you also reject God.

The Abrahamic faiths all believe that there is only one God. That makes it easy. However, there are three Abrahamic faiths and many more branches and sub-branches of these three faiths. And each of these faiths, branches and sub-branches claims that it is the only true faith and that all the others are false. That makes it complicating.

If we reduce everything to just the belief in God then it makes life very simple. Only when the belief in God also involves the belief in religion and you are not allowed to believe in God without also believing in one of the so many religions does it make our life messy.

Granted, you may believe that God exists and that the universe (and everything within it) was created by God. The question now would be: but was religion also created by God or was this an invention of humankind? God can exist because there is only one God. But how can there be so many religions if they were from God?

Well, we can talk more of this later if you wish.

Kit Siang reins in Kulasegaran, Nga

(The Star) - DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang has stepped in to calm the simmering feud between its party vice-chairman and Perak DAP secretary.

In a tweet Monday, the veteran leader issued a gag order on M. Kulasegaran and Nga Kor Ming.

"Both Kula n Nga agree int(internal). party channels x (not) BN msm (mainstream media) 1st resort 4thrashing out matters affecting party leaders," he said.

"Nga 2explain 2party leadership," he added.

The war of words between the Ipoh Barat MP and Nga started after Kulasegaran urged the Pantai Remis assemblyman to come clean over his alleged involvement in awarding a tailoring contract to his wife during Pakatan Rakyat's rule in 2008.

Kulasegaran had reportedly said business and politics did not mix and one should not enter politics to make money.

Meanwhile, Nga, in his blog, said he respected the party's directive and thus would refrain from commenting on the issue.

"I shall leave it to the party's leaders and members to judge his (Kulasegaran) conduct," he said.

In his tweet, Kulasegaran defended his action of calling Nga to come clean over the tailoring contract.

"I made no allegation/accusation. Unfortunately my comments misinterpreted as internal problems/ bad blood," he said.

"Many members/supporters also talked about it. They wanted answers too. So I said Nga should come clean - to explain," he added.

The Tragedy of Nepal's Badi Women

Nepal's lowest caste say prostitution is all they know
Four years ago, Taruna Badi, 38, a member of the Badi community, one of the most marginalized groups in Nepal, thought her days of prostitution were over.

In 2007, she and dozens of other Badi women travelled from Kailali, a district in the far west of Nepal, to the capital Kathmandu, located across the country, to join in protests by Badi activists seeking government help to lower longstanding economic and social barriers. For many women, this meant coming up with alternatives to prostitution.

The government agreed to study the Badis' situation and to provide aid in the form of land grants, employment training, free education for Badi children, health services, citizenship with the caste of their choice, and a declaration of the end of prostitution within the community.

That was then. Today, many of the Badi women say they've barely received any support and have gone back to the only work available to them.

"What else to do?" Taruna asked in desperation. "Prostitution is the only means of earning so far for us." Badi women say they earn between 70 cents and $2.75 for a sexual encounter.

To assess the situation, Binod Pahadi, who has travelled across the region as the member of a government group, concurs with Taruna's account of the administration's failure to uphold its agreement with the Badi community. "We roamed across [the] nation," Pahadi said. "Nowhere is it implemented."

Taruna says Badi women need government help because of their lack of education and inferior social status. A government study estimates the Badi population at just more than 8,000, almost all of whom live in the western part of the country. Nepal's 1853 civil code categorized the Badi community as the lowest among the socially and economically disadvantaged Dalit caste.

"We haven't had education and hence can't get any work," Taruna explains. "If we try to start a business with the help of loans, customers ostracize our establishments on the grounds that they are run by 'untouchable' Dalits. What is an alternative then for means of survival?"

Food is a necessity, she adds. "Children need to be fed," she says. "There is [not] another source of income. This is the only source of income for us."

Few Badi people own land. They live instead in rented cottages by the roadside, on riverbanks and on the forest edges. Maya Badi, 32, from Doti, another western district, says she left prostitution after the 2007 protests but has since returned to it.

"We have no wealth or property and a family of eight to feed," she says. "It was all right when government and non-governmental organizations had provided aid [in the form of stipends]. [But once that ceased] we have to see to our own survival."

Now men have once again started queuing outside the houses of Taruna, Maya and their female neighbors. Mina Badi, 24, Maya's neighbor, says she has returned to the work and has stopped finding prostitution difficult or uncomfortable. "What is the use of shame?" she asks.

She says that since her parents live with her, she goes out into the village to look for customers. "My parents are old," she says. "Therefore, I roam in the village the entire day, eat out and return in the evening."

Various local governmental and non-governmental organizations in the Badi-inhabited regions have banned prostitution, which nonetheless has been openly practiced for the past five decades. Nirmala Nepali, a member of both the National Badi Rights Struggle Committee and a government committee formed after the 2007 protest to assess Badi rights, says women get around this by going to other villages without such restrictions.

In the absence of other employment opportunities, Maya says the ban worsens women's lives by making it harder to earn any living. "The state had agreed to rehabilitate the Badi community and provide employment, but these assurances have been limited to paper alone, and the flesh trade flourishes once more in almost all the Badi-inhabited areas," says CB Rana, another member of the National Badi Rights Struggle Committee.

A number of NGO groups have been advocating for Badi rights. One such group, Save the Children Norway, a child's rights advocacy and development assistance organization, has been working to carry out the government's free education initiative for Badi children.

Some say that although tuition may be waived, some institutions are still making it hard for Badi children to attend school because they charge fees for integral programs such as sports and using the library.

Non-Badi women's rights activists have also spoken up. Both Mira Dhungana, a lawyer, and Mina Sharma, a women's rights activist, urge the government to fulfill its 2007 promise. Sharma says that if there is no action soon, women's rights activists will get more actively involved.

"No woman joins the flesh trade out of mere choice alone," Sharma says. "If the government does not provide the opportunity for Badi women to lead honorable lives like any other Nepali citizen and make necessary employment arrangements for them, we, all women['s] rights activists, are ready to actively engage in a renewed protest movement for them."

By arrangement with Women's eNews. For original story, log on here.

Mahasiswa perlu tegas perjuang hak rakyat- Anwar

(Oleh: Sidiqin Omar)
KUALA LUMPUR 23 Dis:  Mahasiswa perlu tegas, bebas dan lantang memperjuangkan hak rakyat, menegur pemimpin yang rasuah serta salahguna kuasa, kata Ketua Umum KEADILAN, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim
Bercakap di depan kira-kira 100 hadirin pada sesi ‘Dialog Anak Muda Bersama Anwar Ibrahim’ di kediamannya malam tadi, Anwar memulakan bicaranya dengan membacakan sajak terkenal Taufik Ismail, bertajuk ‘Takut 66, Takut 98′.
“Saya mula aktif dalam gerakan mahasiswa, dan biasa dengan demonstrasi. Justeru, gunakan sebaiknya era mahasiswa itu untuk menyatakan yang benar.
“Kamu boleh tidak bersetuju dengan (perdana menteri) Najib. Kamu juga boleh tidak bersetuju dengan Anwar. Tidak salah berhujah dan melawan dengan fakta,”  kata Anwar, pemimpin mahasiswa yang ditahan selama dua tahun di bawah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) kerana menyokong mogok petani miskin di Baling, Kedah pada 1974.
Menurut Anwar, berbanding Datuk Seri Najib Razak, bapanya lebih bersikap terbuka dengan tuntutan mahasiswa ketika menjadi Perdana Menteri.
Tun  Abdul Razak  kerap mengadakan pertemuan bersama mahasiswa, menjamu mereka dan berbincang di kediaman rasmi Perdana Menteri, sedangkan pada siangnya mahasiswa berdemonstrasi di tengah ibu kota.
“Manakala mahasiswa berani dan bersedia untuk bertanya (kepada pimpinan negara),” kata Anwar mengimbau zaman sebagai pemimpin pelajar.
Merujuk tuntutan memansuhkan Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti (AUKU) dan kes pelajar Adam Adli- Anwar berkata kerajaan hari ini gagal mendengar pandangan mahasiswa, apabila ugutan pihak tertentu terhadap gerakan itu dan isu yang dibangkitkan mereka dipandang sepi.
“Mereka memperbodohkan kritikan (mahasiswa). Sedangkan mahasiswa ialah pemangkin untuk memecahkan permasalahan. Ketika saya menjadi Menteri Pendidikan, tanpa gagal setiap tahun saya pusing setiap kampus di seluruh negara,” katanya.
Beliau memberikan contoh,  ‘Great Economic Debate’ yang dianjurkan mahasiswa di Universiti Malaya selama tiga malam sebagai acara debat tahunan pada zamannya, kini tidak lagi diteruskan.
“Ribuan hadir. Ada wakil (mahasiswa penyokong) kerajaan, ada wakil pembangkang dan ada wakil akademik. Kenapa sekarang tidak boleh? Itu  (budaya) yang mesti kita kembalikan,” katanya.
Short URL:

Global economic crisis: In denial mode?

Somehow the government appears to think that the effects of the global economic crisis will have minimal effects on the local economy. Is it in denial mode?
This article by Dr Jeyakumar published by Aliran might prompt the government to think again about and be better prepared for any shockwaves next year.