Share |

Monday, January 2, 2012

1Malaysia has ruined race relations

According to Wikipedia, the 1Malaysia concept aimed to re-kindle 'ethnic harmony' but the opposite seems to be in place now.

PETALING JAYA: In 1957, when we gained independence, there was no “talk” of race relations. There were no complications. There was just acceptance of a rich and culturally diverse social fabric that made up Malaysia.

But as the country “grew” over the years, politics filtered through the layers of society influencing the racial mix – and acceptance slowly eroded to be replaced by conditional tolerance.

Race relations, simply defined, are “ties” between different races in a country. In Malaysia, these days, “race relations” is often described as a “complicated” issue.

But it’s a “complication” that 67-year-old Mohd Fikri Slamat can’t understand. More unacceptable to him is Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s “ridiculous” 1Malaysia concept conceived last year in a bid to “re-educate” mixed Malaysia about “ethnic harmony”.

“I thought we were doing quite nicely… I don’t see the need for something as ridiculous as the 1Malaysia concept. How does Najib think we gained our Independence?

“Through the work of just one race? Maybe he should go back and re-read authentic Malaysian history to realise that there were other races involved in our Merdeka,” scoffs Fikri.

Forty-four-year-old Wong Chui Seng, a mechanic, believes the 1Malaysia concept has worsened race relations and has served to drive a wedge between the communities.

“While every Malaysian knows that there is a racial lopsidedness where rights to education and ownership of property are concerned, I was never as conscious of how little rights I had as a Chinese person until the 1Malaysia concept came along.

“It seems to be an Umno unity tool… All this talk about racial unity is great, but what is the outcome? I don’t see any additional fair game for all,” he said.

Launched on Sept 16, 2010, in conjunction with Malaysia Day, Najib’s 1Malaysia has its own Wikipedia page which calls on the Cabinet, government agencies, and civil servants to strongly emphasise ethnic harmony, national unity, and efficient governance.

Even before the average Malaysian could grasp the 1Malaysia concept, the brand was franchised out and today, in their face, are the 1Malaysia clinics, 1Malaysia e-mail, 1Malaysia grocery stores, 1Malaysia Foundation and the1Malaysia Youth Fund, among others.

The 1Malaysia Youth Fund was allocated RM20 million in the 2010 national budget. Expectedly, it was a government-linked entity – the Barisan Nasional Youth Lab – which had proposed the fund.

1Malaysia, at what price?

Decrying 1Malaysia as merely a slogan, June Sivapillai, a 38-year-old consultant attorney, said the whole idea was just another “scheme”.

But if Najib could defend himself to Sivapillai , he would most likely tell her that 1Malaysia is a “philosophy” and not a mere slogan.

In his speech during the ground-breaking ceremony of the Federation of Chinese Association Malaysia’s (Hua Zong) new building in Seri Kembangan recently, Najib said the 1Malaysia philosophy could “transform” the mindset of Malaysians towards turning the country into a highly developed nation by 2020.

He said that if Malaysians understood what was needed to hold the country together, they would realise the importance of giving continuous support to the government which had a long and proven experience in building the nation.

“I believe we can achieve prosperity and become a strong country if all Malaysians embrace the notion of the 1Malaysia philosophy,” he said.

Delving into his speech, Sivapillai wryly said: “What he’s (Najib) essentially saying is that we were never, all this while, a strong country and that it’s his concept of 1Malaysia that will get us there.”

“Personally speaking, any effort to unite the people is commendable – but at what price? By this, I mean ringgit and sen.

“You read about this obscene amount of money being spent on the 1Malaysia projects and you don’t see the results.

“You want to do something to unite the people? Stop these campaigns and concepts; make sure that there is an equal share of the pie for everyone.

“If Najib is so hot for the 1Malaysia concept, what is he doing about the racial fiasco created by Ibrahim Ali and the Perkasa gang?

“Since when was it constitutional to let one race denigrate another’s faith and race?”

‘Equality and rule of law’

According to former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, Malaysia was once “a shining example of a working democracy founded on the principles of democracy and egalitarianism but has since degenerated into an authoritarian racist state that is now characterised by incessant racial and religious dissension and economic malaise”.

Quoting his speech “Malaysia – a lost democracy” in an article published in the Asia Sentinel, writer Kim Quek wrote: “In one of the most important political speeches delivered in Malaysia in recent years, Zaid Ibrahim touched on the heart of race relations when he gave a rendition on the evolving racial politics in Malaysia that has so bedevilled the nation for the past few decades.”

He quoted Zaid as saying: “When the country achieved independence in 1957, then Malaya was a model of parliamentary democracy, governed under a written constitution ‘that accorded full respect and dignity for each and every Malayan’.”

“If at all there was a social contract – which should mean the pre-independence consensus reached among the founding fathers representing the various communities – it must be one ‘that guaranteed equality and the rule of law,’ as subsequently reflected in the Federal Constitution.”

But Syed Halim Don, 51, disagrees with such “equality” and Najib’s 1Malaysia because it puts the other races on par with the Bumiputeras.

“When you start including other people in what has been previously allocated for one race, then smaller helpings will have to be served. I don’t like this idea very much because I strongly feel that as the majority race, we (the Bumiputeras) should be given a larger share,” he said.

’1Malaysia a hypocrisy’

There are some others, however, who believe that the 1Malaysia concept will benefit the country in the long run.

Eighteen-year-old Taufik Shamsuddin, for instance, thinks that 1Malaysia “concept” should be given a chance.

“I think we should look at the 1Malaysia concept as an opportunity to strengthen our ties with each other. I don’t think it’s about who gets more or less of something but instead about how well we can work with each other to become better as a nation.”

While race will always be something of a prickly issue to both write and speak about, it seems that there are many who have no problems expressing their thoughts and opinions about the 1Malaysia concept.

Gayathry Venkiteswaran, executive director of the Southeast Asean Press Alliance (SEAPA), aptly sums it up when she said: “I am proud to have my own brand of unity that has grown out of sharing and caring for friends and neighbours.

“The 1Malaysia concept is a hypocrisy, coming from a coalition of political parties whose survival depends on the ethnic divisions in the country.

“I am fully aware of the politicisation of identities that only serves the interests of the few, but I will not let it jeopardise the real relationships I and many of us have with our fellow Malaysians.”

We won't eat halal meat, say MPs and peers who reject demands to serve it at Westminster

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham thinks halal should be made available as an option
Lord Ahmed of Rotherham thinks halal should be made available as an option
The Palace of Westminster has rejected demands to serve halal meat in its restaurants.
Muslim MPs and peers have been told they cannot have meat slaughtered in line with Islamic tradition because the method – slitting an animal’s throat without first stunning it – is offensive to many of their non-Muslim colleagues.
The stance has infuriated some parliamentarians who have eaten meat in the Palace’s 23 restaurants and cafes, having been assured that it was halal.
Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said: ‘I did feel misled. I think a halal option should be made available.’
In 2010, the Mail on Sunday revealed schools, hospitals and restaurants were serving halal meat to unwitting customers.
Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield and the Co-op all said they stocked meat slaughtered according to Islamic tradition without letting customers know.
Fast-food chains including Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, KFC, ­Nando’s and Subway are also using halal meat without ­telling customers, it was revealed.

Members of the Church of England have complained that the spread of halal meat was 'effectively spreading Sharia law' across Britain.
The Palace of Westminster has rejected demands to serve halal meat in its restaurants.
The Palace of Westminster has rejected demands to serve halal meat in its restaurants
However, a spokesman for the House of Lords and the House of Commons confirmed that it was not served in their restaurants.
Alison Ruoff, a member of the Church of England, said: ‘It’s a bit hypocritical that the Houses of Parliament, which have allowed other people to provide halal food, have ruled it out on their own premises.’
When the meat is slaughtered, Islamic verse is uttered before the animal has its throat slashed.
At Halal slaughterhouses thousands of birds are killed every hour.
No halal: Neither the House of Commons or the House of Lords serve halal meat
No halal: Neither the House of Commons or the House of Lords serve halal meat

Najib’s ex-info chief joins DAP

DAP scores a coup with Umno veterans and bloggers, including former Pulau Manis Umno rep Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz.
KUALA LUMPUR: Former Pulau Manis Umno assemblyman Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz and Negeri Umno veteran Aspan Alias (photo) have joined DAP.
Having Ariff on board is a major coup for DAP because he was Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s information chief in his Pekan Umno division up until 2004.
“If you want to know, yes, that is what we are doing (joining DAP).
“I am impressed by DAP. They are principled, I like their professionalism.
“I was with (Lim) Guan Eng at the bloggers conference last month. There is no fancy words, they are focussed on work … always thinking unlike our Umno people,” he told FMT recently.
Ariff’s admission puts to rest weeks of wildfire speculations in pro-Umno blogs.
He is also rumoured to be contesting under the DAP banner in the next general election.
Ariff is touted to be contesting in Raub where MCA’s Ng Yen Yen is incumbent. Ng is currently the tourism minister, and a MCA vice president.
Warning to Umno’s bloggers
Gunning pro-Umno bloggers who have been maligning them both personally and professionally, an incessant Ariff (photo) said: “Why the paranoia? If we are not good, failed Adun (assemblymen), bankrupt politicians, it will be cinch for any winnable Umno candidates to beat us.
“So, it’s no cause of concern or a sleep depriver.”
“But be warned, you want to play ball, we play ball too, so stop telling lies about us and we can promise not to tell the truth about you (Umno).”
Both Ariff and Aspan are not alone. There are increasing speculations of shifts within and out of Umno.
DAP has been targeting ‘thinking’ Malays post-2008 GE to increase its support within the community.
Onboard is Transparency International Malaysia founder Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim who is now the party’s vice chairman and former Umno education minister Khir Johari’s son Zairil.
Zairil and party strategist Liew Chin Tong along with Youth chairman Anthony Loke have been tasked with wooing selected Malays.
It was reported that the party leaders have been meeting “Malay opinion-makers in small closed-door discussions dealing with issues concerning Islamic state, hudud and Bumiputera affirmative action”.
‘DAP more relevant to Malays now’
Ariff and Aspan have been the target of pro-Umno bloggers who have among others accused the duo of treason.
But according to Ariff, DAP is ‘more relevant’ to the Malays now than Umno.
“Don’t read our move as blasphemous or treasonable. I believe the DAP is more relevant and functional in achieving a more democratic and abuse-free society than Umno.
“In DAP I can speak on the plight of the displaced and disowned Malays with more energy than allowed of in Umno.
“Umno has turned its back on corruption and abuse of political office. DAP abhors these traits. To me these are are attractive propositions.
“As a Muslim, we are changing wadah not aqidah…that is what Umno fears. It fears that its monopoly over Malays is broken, ” said Ariff, who is also an FMT columnist.
Last week DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke had reportedly said that the party had approached Ariff and Aspan but ‘no decision has been made’.

Royalti Komsas: Bangau Oh Bangau!

Lingkaran syaitan yang mencengkam kontroversi Interlok Edisi Murid dilihat masih menyelubungi Putrajaya.
Melihat akan perkembangan terkini isu royalti teks Komponen Sastera Dalam Mata Pelajaran Bahasa Malaysia (Komsas), saya teringat akan lagu kanak-kanak “Bangau Oh Bangau!”
Sejak 15 Ogos 2011, saya sudah memaparkan mengenai isu sejumlah penulis yang karya mereka (puisi, cerpen dan novel) diangkat menjadi teks Komsas tetapi penerbit menafikan hak mereka menerima royalti.
Cerpen “Warkah Daripada Ibu” karya Rohani Deraman diterbitkan oleh Penerbit Mega Setia Emas Sdn Bhd pada 2001. Kini cerpen itu diterbitkan dalam antologi Gema Sepi Gadis Genius (DBP: 2010) dan digunakan sebagai teks Komsas Tingkatan Dua. Malangnya, Penerbit Mega Setia Emas Sdn Bhd tidak mahu membayar royalti walau satu sen kepada penulis.
Novel Cempaka Putih Untukmu karya Rohani diterbitkan oleh Penerbit Mega Setia Emas Sdn Bhd pada 2001. Kini novel itu diterbitkan oleh Nur-Ilmu dengan judul Cempaka Putih Untukmu dan digunakan sebagai teks Komsas Tingkatan Tiga di Johor, Sabah, Sarawak dan Labuan. Malangnya, nasib sama berulang.
Puisi “Seorang Insan Istimewa” karya Amy Suzani Mohd Ainuddin @ Natasya Puteri termuat dalam antologi Apologi Kepada Alam terbitan Nur-Ilmu Sdn Bhd pada 2010 sebelum terpilih sebagai teks Komsas. Malangnya, Nur-Ilmu Sdn Bhd tidak mahu membayar royalti walau satu sen kepada penulis.
Cerpen “Limau Bali dan Semangkuk Daging” karya Amy Suzani memenangi hadiah kedua Pertandingan Cerpen Perpaduan anjuran Jabatan Perpaduan Negara pada 1995. Cerpen itu tersiar dengan judul “Budi Semangkuk Daging” dalam antologi Budi Semangkuk Daging terbitan Nur-Ilmu Sdn Bhd pada 2010 sebelum terpilih sebagai teks Komsas. Nasib sama berulang.
Novel Di Sini Bukan Duniaku karya Hazama Harun @ Aida Shahira diterbitkan oleh Associated Education Distributors (M) Sdn Bhd pada 2006. Novel itu diterbitkan semula dengan judul Bukan Duniaku oleh Karya Hartamas Enterprise dan dijadikan teks Komsas Tingkatan Satu di Kelantan, Pahang, Terengganu dan Melaka. Malangnya, penulis hanya diberi sedikit saguhati dan diminta menandatangani resit kononnya menerima bayaran hampir lima kali ganda. Penulis juga tidak diberikan salinan resit itu apabila diminta.
Novel Satu Pengajaran karya Mohd Izan Abd Hazes @ Mohd Faris Ikmal diterbitkan oleh Associated Education Distributors (M) Sdn Bhd pada 2006. Novel itu diterbitkan semula dengan judul Hikmah oleh V-Nice Resources dan dijadikan teks Komsas Tingkatan Satu di Perak, Perlis, Kedah dan Pulau Pinang.
Malangnya, Associated Education Distributors (M) Sdn Bhd meminta penulis menuntut bayaran daripada V-Nice Resources manakala V-Nice Resources pula mengatakan pihaknya sudah membuat bayaran kepada Associated Education Distributors (M) Sdn Bhd.
Surat rayuan kepada TPM

Pada 29 Septembar 2011, para penulis terbabit menyerahkan surat rayuan ke Pejabat Menteri Pelajaran di Putrajaya dengan harapan bahawa Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin akan bersikap prihatin, masuk campur dan menyelesaikan isu ini dengan segera.
Masih ingat slogan “Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan” yang sepatutnya menjadi pegangan kerajaan Barisan Nasional BN?
Malangnya, tiga bulan kemudian, masing-masing masih menyanyikan lagu “Bangau Oh Bangau!” dengan suara sumbang.
Pada 18 Disember lalu, Amy Suzami menerima surat rasmi yang memaklumkan begini:
“Pejabat YAB Menteri Pelajaran telah meneliti dan memanjangkan surat tersebut kepada Pengarah, Bahagian Pembangunan Kurikulum, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia untuk perhatian dan tindakan selanjutnya.”
Rohani, Hazama dan Mohd Izan turut menerima surat sama hampir seminggu kemudian.
Saya hanya mampu tersenyum apabila menerima berita itu. Apa tidaknya, pada 15 Ogos 2011, saya sudah pun menghubungi pegawai di Bahagian Pembangunan Kurikulum (BPK).
Encik Sairi Adenan membalas e-mel saya dengan menerangkan bahawa kes berkenaan perlu dirujuk ke Bahagian Buku Teks (BBT). Malah, beliau berbesar hati memanjangkan e-mel saya kepada pegawai tertentu di BBT.
Dipendekkan cerita, pada 7 September 2011, saya pergi sendiri ke Putrajaya untuk bertemu Pengarah BBT, Encik Jame Alip.
Saya memilih untuk pergi sendiri kerana semasa perbualan menerusi telefon pada hari sebelumnya, beliau mengatakan bahawa kesemua penulis terbabit sudah menyerahkan surat izin kepada penerbit.
Semasa pertemuan secara bersemuka, Encik Jame menjelaskan bahawa beliau bertemu penerbit terbabit pada 18 Ogos 2011. Untuk makluman, itulah mesyuarat yang sepatutnya saya turut hadir tetapi pada saat akhir, saya dimaklumkan melalui panggilan telefon oleh Ketua Unit Hak Cipta BBT, Haji Md Nor Azmi Sirat, bahawa mesyuarat tersebut dibatalkan oleh Pengarah BBT!
Bagaimanapun, semasa pertemuan pada 7 September, Encik Jame berkata, penerbit terbabit yang beliau temui pada 18 Ogos mengesahkan bahawa para penulis sudah memberikan surat izin terbit; tetapi penerbit tidak perlu menyerahkan salinan surat izin itu kepada BBT. Malah, katanya, itu bukan bidang kuasa BBT.
Saya agak kecewa kerana tidak berpeluang melihat salinan “surat izin palsu” yang diserahkan penerbit terbabit kepada Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (KPM).
Tentu sahaja saya sedikit pun tidak meragui kebenaran kata-kata Encik Jame. Kalaulah salinan “surat izin palsu” itu ada pada beliau, tentu beliau tidak keberatan untuk menunjukkannya kepada saya.
Kesemua penulis terbabit mengesahkan secara bertulis bahawa mereka tidak pernah memberikan surat izin terbit kepada penerbit terbabit. Maka, “surat izin” yang diserahkan penerbit kepada KPM tentulah dokumen palsu yang bertujuan menipu kerajaan.
Taktik licik

Perlu dinyatakan bahawa para penulis terbabit membuat laporan polis pada 10 September 2011 dan salinan laporan itu diserahkan bersama-sama surat rayuan ke Pejabat Menteri Pelajaran pada 29 September lalu.
Namun, nampaknya isu “surat izin palsu” dan tindakan penerbit menafikan hak royalti penulis tidak dipandang berat oleh Menteri Pelajaran.
Mungkin kerana teks Komsas berkenaan tidak “sepenting” novel Interlok Edisi Murid yang cuba beliau pertahankan secara bermati-matian selama setahun sebelum akhirnya “tewas” pada desakan pihak tertentu – MIC? NIAT? Hindraf?
Sebaliknya, dalam isu royalti teks Komsas, Pejabat Menteri Pelajaran sekadar “memanjangkan” isu “empat penulis teraniaya” kepada Pengarah BPK, Datuk Ibrahim Mohamad.
Nyanyian lagu “Bangau Oh Bangau!” ternyata berterusan kerana Pengarah BPK memberi jawapan bertulis berikut kepada Pegawai Khas Menteri Pelajaran:
“Untuk makluman tuan, BPK dipertanggungjawabkan sebagai urus setia dalam proses pemilihan teks KOMSAS Bahasa Malaysia dan Kesusasteraan Melayu (KM) Sekolah Menengah. Setiap karya yang terpilih akan dibawa kepada Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Pusat (JKP) untuk mendapatkan kelulusan dan seterusnya dihantar kepada Bahagian Buku Teks (BBT) untuk mendapatkan perolehan dan hak cipta daripada penerbit dan penulis.
“Sehubungan dengan itu, hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan royalti adalah di bawah tanggungjawab BBT dan penerbit yang berkenaan.”
Nah! Kalau saya sekali lagi menghubungi Pengarah BBT, beliau pasti akan mengulangi rayuan seperti pada 7 September lalu: “Tolonglah, Uthaya, jangan kacau saya lagi. Awak tak kacau saya; saya tak kacau awak.”
Encik Jame juga mungkin – sekali lagi – menasihatkan saya menghubungi penerbit terbabit untuk berunding secara langsung.
“Kami tak perlu minta apa-apa izin daripada penulis. Kami tak ada masa nak layan semua ini.” Tidak mustahil Julie Looi dari Penerbit Mega Setia Emas Sdn Bhd dan Nur-Ilmu Sdn Bhd akan menengking seperti yang dilakukannya pada petang 7 September 2011.
Jika saya menghubungi pula Encik Steven KH Lee dari Associated Education Distributors (M) Sdn Bhd dan Karya Hartamas Enterprise untuk bertanya mengenai isu surat izin terbit, beliau mungkin mengulangi jawapan sama seperti pada 8 September lalu: “Saya tak boleh terangkan semua ini kepada kamu.”
Nampaknya inilah antara taktik licik yang digunakan pihak tertentu untuk menipu penulis (rakyat) secara berterusan.
Kalaulah saya berada di tempat Menteri Pelajaran, saya akan menghentikan lingkaran syaitan (vicious circle)  ini dengan mengeluarkan arahan tegas supaya penerbit membayar royalti kepada penulis dalam masa dua minggu.
Akan tetapi, masakan saya boleh mengajar seorang menteri membuat kerja-kerja yang sudah diamanahkan kepadanya! Kerja-kerja yang memang terletak dalam bidang kuasanya.
Apa pun, sementara isu royalti teks Komsas belum selesai dan masing-masing pihak berkenaan di Putrajaya khusyuk menyanyikan lagu “Bangau Oh Bangau!” dengan suara parau, perjuangan menuntut hak diteruskan!
Guru dan pelajar juga perlu didedahkan kemungkinan teks Komsas yang mereka baca itu diterbitkan secara haram dan Putrajaya belum mampu membela nasib “empat penulis teraniaya”.
Uthaya Sankar SB adalah pemilik tunggal ‘Perunding Media, Motivasi dan Penerbitan Uthaya’. Beliau menggunakan Facebook dan blog untuk menyedarkan orang ramai mengenai isu royalti teks Komsas.

Advisory group head calls for withdrawal of observers from Syria

A protester in the flahspoint Syrian city of Homs throws a tear gas bomb back to security forces on December 27, 2011.
(CNN) -- The head of an advisory board to the Arab League called Sunday for the withdrawal of observers from Syria, claiming the mission has allowed Syrian officials to continue a brutal crackdown on protesters.

"What is happening allows the Syrian regime a cover for the exercise of its inhumane practices under the Arab League's watch," Ali Salem al-Deqbasi said in a statement, according to Egypt's state-run MENA news agency. Al-Deqbasi heads the Arab Parliament, an advisory board to the Cairo-based Arab League.

The statement said abuse and killing of civilians have continued as Arab League monitors visit Syria, and requested a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers to address the issue.

An Arab League official said in a statement Sunday that the observers' field work was going "according to plan," noting that only the organization's official governing council has the authority to stop the fact-finding mission.

Additional observers are scheduled to head to Syria this week to join efforts to determine whether the Syrian government is abiding by an agreement to end its crackdown on demonstrators, said Adnan al-Khodeir, head of the Arab League's operations team in charge of the observers' mission.

As the fact-finding mission continued Sunday, at least seven people were killed in Syria, according to an opposition activist group.

Three people died in Hama and four were killed in Homs, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. The organization said a child was among its tally of "martyrs," but did not provide additional information.

Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News agency said Sunday that the bodies of 21 troops "killed in the line of duty by armed terrorist groups" were taken from military hospitals to their final resting places.

CNN cannot independently verify accounts of violence or reports of deaths and injuries in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad's government has restricted access by international journalists.

In mid-March, al-Assad began a crackdown on anti-government protesters calling for his ouster. The Syrian government has repeatedly blamed "armed terrorist groups" for violence during the uprising.

The LCC, which has a network of contacts across Syria, said that more than 5,800 people were killed in 2011 during the crackdown on opposition protests.

Protesters turned out Saturday for anti-regime rallies in restive cities, including Homs, Idlib and Hama, activists said.

On Friday, two major Syrian opposition groups forged a deal that charts a course for democracy if al-Assad's regime crumbles -- a move which analysts said signals maturation and strengthening of the anti-regime forces.

After talks that lasted for more than a month, representatives of the Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria signed an agreement late Friday in Cairo for a transition in a post-Assad era, the NCB said on its Facebook page.

The agreement was scheduled to be filed with the Arab League on Sunday, the NCB said.

Opposition groups hope to end the al-Assad regime's push against demonstrators and its efforts to maintain power across the country.

The Arab League, the United States, the European Union and Turkey have condemned the government crackdown and initiated sanctions. But Russia and China have stood in the way of a strong U.N. Security Council resolution toward the Syrian government.

Earlier this month, al-Assad agreed to a peace initiative with the Arab League that calls for security forces to withdraw from cities, release detainees and end violence. Part of the agreement calls for Arab League observers to monitor whether the government abides by the initiative.

Afghan woman cuts off father-in-law's private part

An Afghan woman cut off her father-in-law's penis with a knife after he tried to have sex with her, a doctor in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province said on Saturday.

"One day when the husband was away from home he attempted to have sex with his daughter-in-law and she cut off his penis with a knife," the doctor from a private hospital in Ghazni said on condition of anonymity.

The man went for treatment at the private hospital but was sent on to the capital Kabul for specialist treatment, he added. The incident took place two weeks ago but has only just come to light.

According to figures in an Oxfam report in October, 87 per cent of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.

Police say did not beat up undergrads in UPSI demo

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 — The police have denied beating up several student activists during a peaceful
The president of undergraduate movement Bebas, Muhammad Safwan Anang, lies unconscious after allegedly being beaten by the police this morning. — Picture courtesy of Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia
demonstration at the Sultan Idris University of Education (UPSI), saying that there was “no scuffle” when arrests were made.

Students and opposition politicians claimed several students involved in the demonstration for academic freedom were allegedly beaten up and arrested early this morning after refusing to heed a police order to disperse.

Perak Police Chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan said that “necessary action” was taken to uphold public safety, and one of the students had “injured himself.”

“The students did not adhere to police instructions to disperse and we were forced to move in to arrest them.

“They resisted which could have led to the impression that a scuffle occurred,” he was quoted by The Star as saying.

Mohd Shukri said that one student crashed into the glass panel of a nearby clinic during the demonstration and injured himself.

“He was given outpatient treatment at the Tanjung Malim Health Clinic.

“Another student is being treated at the Slim River Hospital for minor injuries,” said the state police chief.

He said that only two students — Adam Adli Abdul Halim and a female student — were from UPSI.

The other students were apparently from Universiti Selangor (Unisel), International Islamic University of Malaysia (UIA) and the Management and Science University (MSU.)

Adam, a 21-year UPSI student, has come under attack for purportedly lowering a banner bearing the likeness of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak outside Umno’s headquarters in the national capital last month.

Mohd Shukri said all the students should be released by the end of the day.

PKR and DAP have condemned the police for alleged heavy-handed action in dispersing some 60 undergraduates who held a peaceful sit-down demonstration in support of a fellow student activist and academic freedom at UPSI in Tanjung Malim shortly after midnight.

The opposition parties claimed the police, including two Special Branch (SB) officers, showed a heavy presence on campus and took violent action against what they said were 100 students, instead of the 60 estimated by lawyer Fadiah Najwa Fikri, when the undergraduates refused to disperse as ordered.

Up to 17 students were arrested in the 2.30am incident and taken to the Tanjung Malim police station.

One student, Muhammad Safwan Anang, was allegedly beaten up, punched and kicked until he lost consciousness.

The president of student reform movement Gerakan Menuntut Kebebasan Akademik (Bebas) is warded at the Slim River Hospital with a broken cheekbone, PKR said in its statement.

The party claimed he was assaulted by eight policemen and SB officers.

Tanjung Malim police confirmed to The Malaysian Insider 17 students were arrested in the incident but declined to elaborate further as investigations are still continuing.

RPK: There's life after Anwar

The sodomy charge against Anwar was not trumped up and he will be found guilty on Jan 9, says popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin.

PETALING JAYA: Reform activist and influential blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin believes that Anwar Ibrahim was a victim of a honey-trap, but quickly added that the opposition leader was given a fair trial.

He is also certain that Anwar will be found guilty on Jan 9. However, he predicts a low-key reaction from the people on the guilty verdict. Interestingly, he says both PAS and DAP would be less than keen to make Anwar’s conviction a Pakatan Rakyat agenda.

“I think it is a foregone conclusion: Anwar is going to be found guilty. PKR will certainly go to town on the issue, but PAS and DAP will not be too excited about turning the Pakatan agenda into a ‘free Anwar campaign’.

“Ultimately, there is a bigger fish to fry and that would be to focus on the coming general election,” he told FMT in an exclusive interview.

He said that the second sodomy trial “came and went as a non-event”, unlike the 1999 trial.

“In 1999, there was the ‘black eye’ issue and the high exposure of the trial: hence the public awareness regarding the flaws in the trial. This time around, not many people followed the trial or were even concerned about the trial,” he said.

He said that the jailing of Anwar this time around would not garner extra votes for the opposition.

Anwaristas and the PKR leadership will definitely take umbrage at Raja Petra’s frank opinion on the matter, but the popular blogger said even the reaction of the PKR supporters against the verdict would settle down quietly.

“For a while, PKR will rant and rave. Then the excitement will tone down and people will get on with their lives.

“Umno, meanwhile, will just sit back and watch. If the Anwaristas get out of hand and try to turn the event into a ‘Malaysian Spring’, the government will just round them up and silence them.

“The government is ready for the attempt to turn Jan 9 into a Malaysian Spring and they know how to handle it. It will be doomed from the start. This is not going to be Sept 20, 1998,” he said.

Why didn’t he take the stand?

Raja Petra, who is based in London, also said that while the Barisan Nasional-Umno leadership is definitely “out to get Anwar because he is a political threat”, the PKR leader was nevertheless allowed a fair trial.

“I know for a fact that the prosecutor agreed to handle the prosecution only if he was allowed to conduct a fair trial and without any political interference.”

“Therefore, I would say that Anwar was allowed a fair trial,” he said.

Raja Petra added that Anwar was also allowed more than 60 postponements throughout the trial.

“He was supposed to subpoena more than 50 witnesses to testify on his behalf, which in the end he did not and which we are not told why.

“It appears like Anwar was allowed a lot of leeway to defend himself. Why did he not take the stand to testify under oath?

“Saiful took the stand and he was vigorously cross-examined by the defence. Why did Anwar avoid doing the same?” asked Raja Petra.

“I do not think that the charges were trumped up. But I do believe that Anwar is a victim of a honey-trap. In a way it was entrapment, which in a country like the US is illegal,” he added.

New leadership needed

Raja Petra added that Anwar’s conviction could be good for PKR and Pakatan Rakyat.

“If they put Anwar in jail, then the opposition will be forced to look beyond Anwar.

“What we need is a new leadership but as long as Anwar is still around, they will be reluctant to do so,” he said.

He added that with Anwar in prison, PKR will be forced to come to terms with the need to rejuvenate the party leadership.

“There is life after Anwar, as much as many do not think so,” he added.

Anwar, who was once heir-apparent to former strongman prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has been fighting charges that he sodomised a former political aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in June 2008.

The accusations emerged shortly after Anwar led the opposition to unprecedented gains in parliamentary polls against BN that has governed the country for five decades.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is set to make a ruling on the sodomy charge on Jan 9.

Anwar pleaded not guilty to the offence, allegedly committed at a Desa Damansara condominium unit in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008. The PKR de facto leader is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and whipping, if found guilty under Section 377B of the Penal Code.

This is the second time he was accused of sodomy.

In 1998, Anwar lost his deputy prime minister’s post after he was charged with corruption and sodomising his family driver.

He was freed in 2004 after six years of imprisonment when the Federal Court overturned the sodomy conviction.

UPSI rally: 17 students arrested, one seriously hurt

The police are accused of using brutality in dispersing students who had gathered to demand academic freedom.

PETALING JAYA:  Student activists saw an ominous start to the new year when about 100 of them were violently dispersed by the police for staging a peaceful assembly in front of the Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim early this morning.

The students had started gathering since 12.30am to demand for academic freedom and to protest against the Universities and University Colleges Act. They had also wanted the UPSI to drop charges against student leader Adam Adli.

Adam, an UPSI student, has been charged with disciplinary action by the university for replacing a flag depicting the Prime Minister’s face with a banner proclaiming academic freedom two weeks ago.

The police, with the participation of the Federal Reserve Units, made their move to disperse the students at about 2.30am, in the process arresting at least 17 students, including Adam Adli.

The students had earlier lied down on the road when the police made their move to disperse the protesting crowd.

Two of the students were arrested while making a police report, and one for shouting at the police to release the arrested students. The arrested students are all being held at the Tanjung Malim police station.
They were all released by 4pm today.

Students also claimed that the police acted in a brutal manner in dispersing them, as a result causing injuries to some students.

Some eye-witnesses said that one student, Muhammad Safwan Anang, was allegedly assaulted by at least eight police personnel.

Muhammad Safwan, a student leader, had been admitted to the Slim River Hospital in a serious condition, including suffering from a broken cheekbone.

Calls for release

The police came under severe condemnation for the heavy tactics against the students.

Lawyers For Liberty’s Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said the police had unlawfully used excessive force against peaceful and unarmed students.

She urged the authorities to immediately release the arrested students and take action against the police officers who had been involved in using excessive force against the students.

Meanwhile PKR’s communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad also criticised the police over their actions.

“This violence makes a mockery of the Prime Minister’s Malaysia Day speech and so-called Transformation Agenda,” he said, referrring to Najib Tun Razak’s promise of political reforms.
[Photos from Solidariti Mahasiswa]

RPK says confident Anwar man in sex video

(The Malaysian Insider) - Raja Petra Kamarudin said today he was “90 per cent” sure the man in the Datuk T sex video was Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and that many of his friends believed in the authenticity of the video.
The self-exiled blogger told Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia in an interview that he was initially unsure whether it was Anwar in the video, and that he was certain the latter would not be so “stupid to let himself get caught.”
“I feel that there are more people who believe in the video. Many of them, Anwar’s close friends I met in the UK, Liverpool, Manchester ... they honestly say Anwar is (the one) in the video.
“I think the person is Anwar. I am not saying 100 per cent but 90 per cent or more that is Anwar,” he was quoted by Mingguan Malaysia as saying.
Raja Petra said his opinion changed when Anwar had during a press conference denied knowing Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, one of the three men responsible for screening the video.
The Malaysia Today portal editor claimed that Anwar had called him three years ago and asked him to help out a “friend” — Shazryl.
“Anwar said the problem was that the government suspected Eskay smuggled me out of Malaysia. The government suspected I went to Langkawi and Eskay (a former Thai honorary consulate) made a Thai passport for me and smuggled me out to Thailand through Langkawi.
“He (Anwar) said the government was causing problems for Eskay and that I had to explain things to clear his name,” said Raja Petra.
He said he then clarified the matter through a posting on his portal, stating how he left Malaysia, and that he did not know Shazryl.
“That was three years ago. Now Anwar says he does not know Eskay ... this made me think and realise. I know Anwar knows Eskay, just say that you really know him. This is actually quite funny,” added the blogger.
Raja Petra said that the PKR de facto leader’s outburst at a press conference during the Sarawak state election when asked about his Omega watch showed he had something to hide.
“Yes, the fact is that if you need to lie, that means you have something to hide. You must be guilty.”
Anwar has repeatedly denied that he was the man seen having sex with a prostitute in the 21-minute video which was first aired to the media in cloak-and-dagger fashion by a mysterious ‘Datuk T’ at a prestigious hotel in April this year.
It was later revealed that Datuk T referred to three notable public figures — former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik, businessman Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and former Perkasa treasurer-general Datuk Shuib Lazim.
The latest probe on the case was opened after investigating officer DSP Shanmugan Moorthy lodged a police report claiming Anwar committed the offence under section 182 of the Penal Code.
The crime is punishable with a six-month jail term or a fine of RM2,000.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin had recently said the probe on the sex video was complete and investigation papers handed over to the Attorney-General but the case was sent back to the police to include Anwar’s statement.
He has slammed the police for failing to act on a previous report he had lodged against the Datuk T trio where he accused them of criminal intimidation.
He has also accused BN of masterminding the latest probe against him in the Datuk T sex video saga.
The Opposition leader is also awaiting the verdict on his second sodomy charge, where he is accused of sodomising a former aide.
The former deputy prime minister has vehemently denied the charge, saying that it is part of a ploy to destroy his political career.

Himpunan Bebas Akademik: Keganasan Polis Terhadap Mahasiswa Dikecam

Angkatan Muda KEADILAN (AMK) mengecam sekeras-kerasnya tindakan pihak polis yang menggunakan kekerasan terhadap mahasiswa yang berhimpun secara aman di depan Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) di Tanjung Malim, Perak awal pagi tadi. Pengerusi Gerakan Kebebasan Akademik (BEBAS) saudara Safwan Anang dilaporkan masih lagi terlantar di Hospital Slim River, Perak akibat patah tulang rusuk kesan dari tindakan ganas pihak polis. Rakaman video insiden tersebut yang kini telah dimuatnaik di beberapa laman sosial di internet juga jelas menunjukkan bahawa pihak polis telah bertindak keterlaluan tatkala meleraikan demonstrasi aman tersebut.

AMK menyifatkan peristiwa ini sebagai suatu tragedi hitam dalam sejarah gerakan kebebasan akademik dan merupakan satu bentuk penghinaan terhadap mahasiswa. Apakah layak bagi sekumpulan mahasiswa yang berhimpun bagi tujuan menuntut kebebasan akademik dilayan dan diperlakukan sedemikian zalim oleh pihak berkuasa? Insiden ini jelas menzahirkan bahawa pentadbiran Dato’ Sri Najib Razak tidak serius dalam usaha meminda Akta Universiti Kolej Universiti (AUKU) dan ianya tidak lebih sekadar gimik politik murahan dalam menghadapi Pilihan Raya Umum akan datang.

Apa yang berlaku semalam membuktikan bahawa pendekatan pentadbiran Dato’ Sri Najib kini semakin mirip kepada kaedah otokratik yang diamalkan oleh mantan Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Ini jelas bertentangan dengan janji beliau sendiri kononnya untuk menjadi pemimpin yang mendengar suara rakyat dan mesra anak muda. Harus diingat bahawa kejatuhan rejim di Tunisia dan Mesir bermula tatkala pihak berkuasa bertindak zalim dengan menindas anak muda dan mahasiswa. Peristiwa yang berlaku awal pagi tahun baru 2012 ini secara tersirat menandakan bermulanya kejatuhan rejim UMNO-Barisan Nasional.

Justeru, AMK menuntut supaya satu siasatan menyeluruh dijalankan terhadap insiden keganasan ini dan anggota polis yang bertanggungjawab mencederakan mahasiswa dihadapkan ke muka pengadilan. Kami juga menuntut supaya Menteri Dalam Negeri yang bertanggungawab terhadap pasukan polis supaya memohon maaf kepada mahasiswa yang dizalimi serta ahli keluarga mereka. AMK juga menawarkan khidmat guaman kepada semua mahasiswa yang terlibat sekiranya mereka berhasrat untuk mengambil tindakan perundangan terhadap pihak polis.

Ketua Angkatan Muda KEADILAN

After 64 Years, Lean Hock Company Ceases Stage Bus Operation

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Jan 1 (Bernama) -- Lean Hock Company Sdn Bhd ceased its operations today after offering stage bus service for the people in here and Kulim, Kedah for the past 64 years.

The reasons given to cease the operation were the ever-rising cost of operation and strong competition from Rapid Penang Sdn Bhd (Rapid Penang).

Lean Hock Company Sdn Bhd managing director Tan Eng Hooi said the decision to cease the operation was made because the company was suffering losses up to RM200,000 over the past few years.

He said prior to this, the company was offering the stage bus service for Kulim-Bukit Mertajam, Kulim-Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam-Bukit Teh routes.

"However, with the rising cost of operation and the declining number of passengers, especially after Rapid Penang decided to operate on the same routes, the losses are too much to bear, and hence, we decided to cease the operation today," he told reporters here Sunday.

The decision made by the company also left 31 of its staff, including 26 bus drivers with difficulties in seeking employment elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Tan said the staff were fairly compensated for their years of service at the company.

A driver, A.Purusothanam, 60, who has served the company for 30 years, said he could not help but feel somewhat sad when he was informed that the company would cease its operation.

"However, I would like to thank the company for giving fair compensation to all the staff," he said.

Bidi Khamis, 55, also hoped that he would be able to secure a new job soon to support his family and schooling children.

"It's sad to know that the company will cease its operation, we even tried to persuade the management to reconsider the decision, but they said the company is suffering huge losses," he said.

Meanwhile, the northern branch of Peninsular Malaysia Transport Workers Union officer, Musa Abdullah, expressed regret over the decision made by the company as it would cause problems to the people, especially the workers who just lost their sources of income.

As such, he called on the Land Public Transport Commission to take immediate action to help the company and the staff.

"This is the fifth bus company in the northern states to cease operation so far. Prior to this, Kenderaan Langkasuka Sdn Bhd (KLSB) had also ceased their operations in Sungai Petani and Alor Setar.

"City Liner and United Traction Company (UTC) had also stopped offering stage bus service in Butterworth, causing almost 300 staff to lose their jobs," he added.

Crackdown on uni students: BN’s awful start to New Year

The high-handed police action action against the university students at Tanjung Malim has handed the BN an awful start to the New Year. 
With one fell swoop, it has exposed the farce of Najib’s plan to supposedly transform the country into the “world’s best democracy”.

A student is lying in hospital seriously hurt. Let’s state the obvious: what happened to the students in the wee hours of the New Year is not going to endear the Najib administration to the awakening students movement. And that’s not counting the close to 100000 unemployed graduates and diploma holders…
For too long, our university students have been suppressed and stifled. And then we wonder why our students are unable to think creatively and analyse issues.

Najib’s much-touted reforms had held out a glimmer of hope for greater democracy, including freedom of assembly and greater freedom on campus – but he has so far failed to deliver when it counts. A deep disappointment – but then again was much ever expected from his administration?

Read Aliran’s statement condemning the heavy-handed action today.