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Monday, January 9, 2012

I pledge not to travel in the pink bus

This week the Punjab government inaugurated the first three ‘pink buses’, which are meant for female passengers only. With enough seats, affordable fares and smiling women conductors, this bus is not less than a dream come true for women tired of travelling in the jam-packed, wee ladies’ compartment in public buses.
For Pakistani women, no doubt the trepidation of unexpected hands, nasty ogling and irksome comments in public transport is reason enough to want a separate compartment in public transport vehicles. At least, it was for me. Throughout my university years, I travelled in all sorts of public transport on almost all routes. I have yelled at lousy conductors for passing by carelessly, intentionally rubbing their bodies against the women standing in the compartment due to lack of vacant seats or for handing over tickets while violating our personal space. I have shouted at men for deliberately touching our hands while pretending to be hopping into the bus in a hurry.
To our relief, finally, the government has realised that more than half of its population has trouble travelling in public transport. But the solution devised by the Punjab government is rather insular. Is segregation the only way to secure women? Will our men never learn to respect women? Though I am glad that the presence of women will now be felt by these buses it’s like we are turning our heads away from the chauvinism, prejudice and discrimination that prevails in our society.
By doing so, in a way, we are supporting the stance of those who demand separate colleges for women, segregation in weddings and other functions and sternly rebuff gender equality. For me, running away from situations is not the way to counter or solve them. Why not educate men and fine them on the spot for misconduct? Why not just throw them out of the bus right there and then? Why not set examples and warnings for such impish passengers?
I pledge not to travel in the pink bus, because I feel, by holding the place in the society that I do, I have a certain responsibility to make things better for our women, and that certainly does not include running away. I will continue travelling in the old buses and teaching the disorderly some lessons they are likely to remember.

Anwar Verdict: Rafizi's views

The Anwar Verdict: Pekida/Perkasa supporters backing-off into the mosque

Scuffle ends counter rally

A group of anti-Anwar protesters staged a rally outside the mosque area but were no match for the opposition leader's supporters.

KUALA LUMPUR: Clad in yellow, some 40 people staged a protest against the 901 rally outside the mosque area near the Jalan Duta court complex here.

However, the brief rally drew condemnation from the thousands of Anwar Ibrahim supporters.

Comprising mainly youths, the protesters carried posters condemning the pro-Anwar rally as a “Himpunan Seks Bebas” and “Hormati Institusi Kehakiman”.

The opposition supporters retaliated with chants of “Lembu Ibrahim Ali” and “Lembu Shahrizat”.

As tempers flared, a minor scuffle ensued, forcing the anti-Anwar group to retreat back to the mosque after the police moved in to control the situation.

Met later, none of the anti-Anwar protesters admitted to being part of Perkasa or Pekida.

“We are NGO members,” said one of them, who declined to reveal his identity.

Anwar vows to topple govt after acquittal

This corrupt government will be toppled from its pedestals of power, he says.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today said that “justice had been served” with his acquittal in a contentious sodomy trial and pledged to topple the government in the next elections.

“Thank God, justice has been served,” Anwar told reporters after a Malaysian judge pronounced him not guilty after a nearly two-year trial that he has denounced as a government attempt to cripple his strengthening opposition.

“I feel vindicated, but we still have an agenda and a struggle. We now have to focus on the general elections,” he said.

In a posting on his Twitter feed shortly after the ruling, Anwar said: “In the coming election, (the) voice of the people will be heard and this corrupt government will be toppled from its pedestals of power.”

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who heads the ruling coalition that has governed Malaysia since independence from Britain more than five decades ago, is due to call new polls by early next year.

The court verdict had been hotly anticipated for its potential electoral impact, with the opposition’s charismatic leader facing the prospect of jail.

It is the second sodomy verdict in a dozen years for Anwar, a former deputy premier in the 1990s who was next in line to head the country’s long-ruling government until a spectacular downfall.

He had been groomed to succeed former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad until a bitter row between them saw Anwar ousted in 1998, beaten and jailed on sodomy and graft charges widely seen as politically motivated.

Once the sodomy charge was overturned in 2004 and he was released, the affair threw Anwar into the opposition, which he led to unprecedented gains against his former ruling party in 2008 general elections.

But new sodomy charges emerged shortly after those polls — Anwar was accused of sodomising a former male aide — sparking accusations they were concocted by the ruling United Malays National Organisation to stall the opposition revival.

Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by 20 years in jail.


What is the new political scenario going to be like now?

We must remember, going by the rule-of-thumb (and not necessarily scientific analysis), 30% of the people are pro-government (so nothing you can say would convince them that Anwar is innocent), 30% are pro-opposition (so nothing you can say would convince them that Anwar is guilty), while 40% of the people are sitting on the fence (atas pagar or ‘floating’ voters).
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I was only half right. I said in my New Year’s Day interview with the New Straits Times (which the other news agencies such as Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian also picked up, giving the impression that my interview was with them) that Anwar Ibrahim was given a fair trial but that he would most likely still be sent to jail.

That attracted a lot of accusations that I had been bought, had sold out, and whatnot.

I said Anwar had been given a fair trial because I know the Solicitor-General and Solicitor-General II (although not personally). The Solicitor-General is the brother of a very close lawyer friend whom I have great respect for while another very close lawyer friend told me that the Solicitor-General II is a pious and god-fearing man who would never send an innocent man to jail.

However, I do not know the judge or have close friends who do. Hence I still had reservations as to whether the judge would do the right thing. Ultimately, it is the judge who decides which side -- the Defence or the Prosecution -- had done a better job at arguing their case.

In my hati kecik (small heart), I actually wanted Anwar to be sent to jail. Maybe this is for very selfish reasons -- and that is so that I can be proven right and Haris Ibrahim proven wrong.

You see; Haris received some very distressing information from his Deep Throats very high up in the government. And that information is that Anwar had made a deal with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. Anwar would be acquitted of the sodomy charge and in turn he would ensure that Pakatan Rakyat does not win enough parliament seats to form the next federal government.

How Anwar will do this was not revealed but if I had to mastermind something like that I would know exactly how to do it. And it would be so subtle that no one would smell a rat (and not by openly whacking Pakatan Rakyat or its leaders in the mainstream media, which is so obvious it would be the work of schoolboys).

Anyway, the only way Haris could be proven wrong with regards to the alleged deal between Anwar and Najib would be if Anwar were found guilty (though of course he can always appeal today’s decision and the Federal Court then overturns the lower court’s decision).

Granted the Prosecution too can appeal today’s decision and the Federal Court can find Anwar guilty and he can still be sent to jail at a later date. However, this can be the ‘back up plan’. In the event Anwar renegades on his deal, Najib can always take a second bite of the cherry.

But that is, of course, mere speculation and dependent on whether such a deal has, in fact, been made -- which my own Deep Throats tell me no deal has been made.

Invariably, I certainly believe my own Deep Throats, as I do not know who Haris’s Deep Throats are. Hence I told Haris that my Deep Throats tell me that his information is not correct, much to Haris’ relief (who also believe my Deep Throats as well).

Now, what is the effect of today’s decision going to be? As follows are some possible scenarios.

Anwar says that Malaysia’s judicial system is corrupt. Now that he has been acquitted, can he still say that? If the judicial system is corrupt and if court cases can be fixed and since Anwar has been acquitted by this corrupt system, would that not then mean that Anwar is actually guilty? Only a corrupt court would acquit a guilty person (and vice versa) and the court, according to Anwar, is corrupt.

So Anwar can no longer say that the court is corrupt but that he got a fair trial in a non-corrupt court presided by a non-corrupt judge. To say otherwise would insinuate that he is actually guilty.

Then, say, the government now charges Anwar for the crime of making a false police report regarding the porn video. Then the Omega watch is adduced in court plus the Chinese prostitute testifies that she was the woman in the video and she confirms that it was Anwar whom she had sex with. Renowned expert witnesses from the US will also testify that the video is not a forgery and has not been doctored.

With such a watertight case, Anwar would be found guilty and would be sent to jail. Can Anwar now claim that he is a victim of an unfair trial? He was acquitted today. So the court must be fair and not corrupted if he was acquitted or else that would mean he is guilty.

We must remember, going by the rule-of-thumb (and not necessarily scientific analysis), 30% of the people are pro-government (so nothing you can say would convince them that Anwar is innocent), 30% are pro-opposition (so nothing you can say would convince them that Anwar is guilty), while 40% of the people are sitting on the fence (atas pagar or ‘floating’ voters).

It is no use working on the 30% of either side. They are already ‘converted’, either way. You need to capture the 40%. And with the 2008 election (and maybe for the next election as well) being a 49%-51% outcome (a margin of only 2% either way), 40% is an extremely large market and would determine who gets to form the next government.

Forget about the 30% (pro-government or pro-opposition). They are already a ‘locked’ market. It is the 40% floating group that you need to convince. And how would this 40% now perceive today’s court ruling?

Would they be convinced that Najib is really pushing for reforms, as he says he is? Would they be convinced that the judiciary is not corrupt, as what the opposition says? Would they think that under the present circumstances (proven today in court) maybe Najib should be given the benefit of the doubt and be allowed another term to realise his reforms, which have just started and needs time to mature?

I am not concerned about the readers of Malaysia Today. You are already pro-opposition and many of you are Anwaristas as well. I don’t care about those who never read Malaysia Today. They are pro-government and hate me like hell. I am more concerned about the 40% who are going to decide who will get to form the next federal government.

These 40% are neither pro-opposition nor Anwaristas. And they are the real ‘Third Force’. They are the real ‘Kingmakers’. They will decide if Najib stays on as Prime Minister or Anwar gets to take over. It is not you Malaysia Today readers who are going to decide this.

Let me end with another possible scenario. Because Najib ‘played fair’ and did not instruct the judge to send Anwar to jail, Umno turns on Najib. With Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s backing, a move is made to force Najib to resign. Najib then resigns and Muhyiddin Yassin takes over.

The voters hate Rosmah Mansor. And because of that many may still vote Pakatan Rakyat (just like what they did in 2008 when they voted against Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi because they hated his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin).  But now there is no longer any Rosmah to hate. She has gone.

So, what do we get? While Anwar Ibrahim remains the ‘de factor’ opposition leader, Dr Mahathir takes over as the ‘de facto’ Prime Minister. Malaysia is going to see Dr Mahathir back in the saddle.

The trouble is many of you are such novices that unless I spell it out like I am talking to primary school kids many of you can’t see the trees for the forest.

Now let’s continue the Raja Petra Kamarudin whacking campaign. I am sure that will guarantee many of the 40% are going to vote Pakatan Rakyat in the next election.

Hah! Kalau kata bodoh macam lembu marah!

Sodomy II Verdict: Anwar acquitted

ImageThe New Straits Times 
by Eileen Ng

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari.

High Court Judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah took three minutes to deliver his judgment.

He said there were no collaborating evidence to support Saiful’s testimony.

Anwar immediately hugged his children who were crying over the verdict.

He also shook hands with the prosecution team.

Live – The Anwar verdict

By Anil Netto,
Live coverage of the Anwar verdict and the situation around court begins at 6.00am.

Iranian cleric calls Facebook 'un-Islamic', membership a 'sin'

iran - AP - January 19 201117 million Iranians have a Facebook account, despite heavy restrictions and filtering imposed by the government.

An Iranian ayatollah has said that the social networking service Facebook was un-Islamic and being a member of it a sin, the ISNA news agency reported Saturday.

In Iran, it is common for senior clerics to be asked about their stance on certain social issues and whether these issues are compatible with Islamic norms.

Their answers are regarded as a form of decree.

ISNA on Saturday broadcast coverage of the response of Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpaygani, a senior cleric, to the question about Facebook and Iranian membership in the social networking service.

"Basically, going to any website which propagates immoralities and could weaken the religious belief is un-Islamic and not allowed, and membership in it is therefore haram (a sin)," the ayatollah replied.

"Only the use of websites propagating religious criteria and not leading to any kind of ethical immoralities is of no problem," he added.

According to official figures released last October, 17 million Iranians have a Facebook account, despite heavy restrictions and filtering imposed by the government.

Due to the popularity of Facebook with younger generations, observers believe that the number of real Iranian Facebook users could be much higher than 17 million.

Iran has a population of 70 million, of which than 60 per cent is under the age of 30.

Over 5 million websites are reportedly blocked in Iran, but Iranians use proxy software and virtual private networks (VPN) to access them.

Iranian officials have, for over three decades, been waging what they call a "battle against the invasion of Western culture."

This has led to blockades of "immoral" internet sites and banned Western music and movies. However, pirated versions of those are easily available on the black market.

The country recently established a cyberpolice unit to better police the internet and even plans to introduce its own national internet, though this has been postponed several times.

Over 6,000 women repressed last year

Staff Correspondent

As many as 449 women committed suicide facing different forms of repression last year, according to a report of a women's rights organisation published yesterday. Of them, 27 took their lives due to stalking.

Bangladesh Mahila Parishad made the annual report on women repression based on stories published in 14 national dailies last year, a press release said.

A total of 6,616 women fell victim to repression across the country last year, says the report. Of them, 1,014 women were victims of stalking, 96 were killed after rape and 38 died after being set on fire. Moreover, 81 women were acid burnt while two of them died following the attacks.

Over 800 women were raped, of whom 165 were gang raped, as per the report.

Two hundred and eighty seven women faced sexual harassment in 2011. About 181 women and teenage girls were abducted while 109 women and girl children fell victim to trafficking. Among the victims of trafficking, 45 were sold to brothels, the report says.

At least 330 women were killed for failing to give dowry while 55 teenage house helps died in different incidents of torture across the country. Also, 68 women were tortured in the name of fatwa (religious edict), and 75 fell victim to child marriage.

PAS pecat Hasan Ali berkuat kuasa serta merta

Anwar: Saya akan survive dalam politik

Hasan Ali says saddened by axing after ‘championing Islam’

Hasan insists his recent run-ins with the party were over his fight for Islam. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Self-styled champion of Islam Datuk Hasan Ali expressed shock and sadness at his sudden dismissal from PAS today, insisting his efforts so far were in the name of the religion.

“I am shocked by the PAS central working committee’s drastic decision to sack me. I am saddened because my fight championing Islam all this while has been rewarded in such a manner.

“I will refer to colleagues and ulama friends for their views on what course of action I should take next,” the Gombak Setia assemblyman said in a short press statement.

Hasan can still appeal to the party’s Syura Council, its powerful decision-making body made up of religious scholars better known as ulama.

He said he will call for a media conference soon, but did not give a date.

The PAS central working committee announced it was revoking Hasan’s party membership with immediate effect for persistently going against the Islamist party’s stand.

President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said in a statement, “The decision was made based on Datuk Hasan Ali’s actions which have wronged and damaged the party’s interest as provided for in the PAS constitution.”

PAS women’s wing chief Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff told The Malaysian Insider that the decision was reached unanimously.

“The decision was made after careful study, discussion and advice given to Hasan but he still ignored orders and still went against the party’s policies,” she said.

PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat also attended today’s monthly meeting.

Last month, Hasan criticised PAS in Umno-controlled media such as Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and TV3 for purportedly abandoning its Islamist credentials for the sake of political gain.

Hasan accused PAS, which removed him as Selangor chief after its general assembly in June 2010, of straying from its original struggle for an Islamic state by pushing for a welfare state.

The Selangor lawmaker, who is also facing the sack as executive councillor in charge of Islamic affairs, again drew the ire of his colleagues this week when he said tomorrow’s rally in support of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the opposition leader learns the verdict of his two-year-long sodomy trial was a waste of time.

Abdul Hadi had already backed the rally and other party leaders said Hasan had insulted the party president by going against his decision.

The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Selangor government will meet Wednesday to discuss his replacement.

Ghost of Kg Buah Pala haunting Lim

Has DAP lost its sway over Indians in Penang following its 'mishandling' of the Kampung Buah Pala incident?

GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s act of kindness in offering the nine Kampung Buah Pala residents new houses, after their homes were demolished by the Penang Government, would have a major impact on ethnic Indian electorates in the next general election.

DAP grassroots leaders and political observers here believe that the curse of Kampung Buah Pala will haunt the DAP and Pakatan Rakyat in the the 13th general election.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s claim that he was unaware of the federal government offer of houses for the nine ‘is not funny’.

Many believe Lim was simply unprepared for such a move and was caught off-guard by Najib’s gesture.

The federal government had pulled a massive political coup, in the Kampung Buah Pala incident, and that too from right under Lim’s nose.

The nine residents of the village were left in lurch after the state government demolished their homes in September 2009.

The heartache of the nine residents, who’ve been snubbed by state, is now partially appeased as they have been offered double-storey houses worth RM220,000 each by Syarikat Perumahan Negara (SPN) Bhd in Taman Sejahtera Indah, Teluk Air Tawar.

The news that they will soon sign the sales and purchase agreement with SPN has silenced the Penang Pakatan authorities.

“Najib has a scored an open goal against DAP. Our custodian has gone to sleep. It’s a case of political revenge stalling a rational political thinking,” admitted a DAP branch leader.

‘State government lying’

Seated on a Helen Margaret Brown trust land for over 200 years in Bukit Gelugor, Kampung Buah Pala was famously known as Tamil High Chaparral by locals due to its cowherds, cattle, goats and Tamil traditional way of life.

The nine fought bravely against the odds for nearly five years to safeguard their legitimate rights and preserve their traditional Indian village as state heritage.

In the final months leading to the demolition of the Indian village, the nine led by Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association chairman M Sugumaran, fought like men possessed to save their homes.

Thanks to them 24 households, including those who accepted the original offer of either a flat or cash compensation and who left the village between 2005 and 2007, were given double-storey houses on the same village site.

But the nine ‘bravehearts’ however were denied compensation.

While Lim’s administration has repeatedly claimed that the nine had rejected the offer, many who are well versed with the whole fiasco know the truth to be in the contrary.

Sugumaran himself has openly said they had received no offer of compensation.

“The question of rejecting compensation never arose because we were never offered compensation anyway.

“Would anyone with a sensible mind reject compensation offers after their houses have been brutally demolished?

“The state government is lying,” he said.

‘Why wasn’t Lim as compassionate?’

Rumbling through the grapevine is talk that it was political vengeance that systematically denied the nine of any state compensations.

A Kampung Buah Pala villager claimed a state government leader had told him that the nine would not be given any compensation as punishment for bringing up the village issue to the attention of Unesco’s office in Paris.

Whether or not there is truth in this allegation is left to be seen, but what is known is that Lim’s government is being blamed for the
demolition of the village and the poor handling of the ‘crisis’ regardless of the fact that the 24 temporary occupation licence (TOLl) holders were compensated.

The prevailing question now is why wasn’t Lim as compassionate as Najib in giving the nine their rightful compensation?

A DAP assemblyman, who declined to be named, said Lim’s mishandling of the situation with the nine and the constant media spins during the whole fiasco had caused a shift of Indian voters from Pakatan to BN.

“Lim should have done some damage control by giving the nine their rightful houses.

“As it is now, Najib’s offer of houses for the nine is a huge blow to the DAP and Pakatan, and a slap to Lim’s face.

“The talk on the ground is would Lim have demolish the houses and denied compensation to ethnic Chinese, let alone Malays?” he said.

How did land get transferred?

Meanwhile London-based Hindraf Makkal Sakti chairman P Waythamoorthy has raised several questions in relation to transfer of the Kampung Buah Pala land.

Among the question ares:

i) Why Lim’s government failed to reveal until today how a land under trust was transferred and put under state’s control?

ii). How did Lim’s government officially transferred ownership of the controversial plot of land on March 27, 2008 to the current owner civil servants cooperative society – Koperasi Pegawai Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang?

iii) Why did Lim’s government give life to a dead land deal?

Waythamoorthy also wants the state government to disclose the findings of its investigation into the village land scam.

“Lim should also reveal the court order on the dissolution of the legally-constituted Brown Housing Trust, which encompasses Kampung Buah Pala,” he said.

Lim’s administration has however blamed the previous BN government under former Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon.

Lim even declassified documents containing chronology of the previous BN executive council decisions made on the Kampung Buah Pala land deals.

But strangely enough he has failed until today to declassify his own council’s documents on the subject.

Meanwhile the nine, led by Sugumaran, are bent on securing their rightful compensation from the state government.

They are currently seeking a court declaration on the land’s real status.

Anwar prepared for jail on verdict eve

Anwar echoed many political observers in saying a guilty verdict would boost the opposition in the long run.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said Sunday he was prepared to go to jail as he geared up for last-ditch rallies on the eve of a trial verdict that threatens his political career.

Anwar, 64, has toured the country in the past week, whipping up crowds of supporters with fiery speeches denouncing sodomy charges against him as a government frame-up aimed at neutralising him politically.

He was due to address supporters at his Kuala Lumpur home Sunday night, followed by a pair of separate rallies ahead of the following morning’s highly anticipated verdict announcement.

In a brief interview at his home Sunday, Anwar told AFP he had prepared himself mentally for a guilty verdict on charges he sodomised a male aide in 2008.

Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by 20 years in jail.

“Mentally, I am OK. I am psychologically prepared (for a guilty verdict),” said Anwar, who like many observers believes a guilty verdict is assured.

“Physically, of course, I am 64… my health conditions are, of course, not as great as when I was at the age of 50.”

Kuala Lumpur was bracing for potential unrest, with the opposition saying it plans to gather 100,000 people outside the court on Monday where judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah will pronounce Anwar’s fate.

But Anwar said his supporters were being urged to assemble peacefully and disperse quickly after the verdict. There have been no reports of unrest during his tour.

“I do not anticipate any violence tomorrow,” said Anwar, who added that voters should take any revenge at the ballot box.

Prime Minister Najib Razak must call the next elections by early 2012.

In a concession rare for a country where dissent is tightly controlled, police said they would allow the courthouse gathering, provided that it did not get out of hand.

In July, a rally for electoral reform by tens of thousands in the capital was crushed by police using tear gas and water cannon. About 1,600 people were arrested.

Government’s blunder

The verdict announcement has kindled memories of Anwar’s stunning fall from the ruling coalition more than a decade ago.

As deputy premier in the 1990s, Anwar was groomed by strongman prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to take power one day until a bitter row between them saw Anwar ousted in 1998, beaten, and ultimately jailed on sodomy and graft charges.

Thousands took to the streets in huge demonstrations calling for “reformasi” (reform) and denouncing Anwar’s ouster, which was widely viewed as politically motivated.

Anwar re-emerged years later at the helm of the opposition, inspiring an unlikely alliance of disparate parties to unprecedented parliamentary gains in 2008 general elections that shook the ruling establishment.

The new sodomy charge emerged shortly afterward.

However, Anwar echoed many political observers in saying a guilty verdict would boost the opposition in the long run.

“I think they have made a big blunder (in bringing the charges),” he told AFP.

He said the case also had shown that a recent promise by Najib to grant more civil liberties was merely an election ploy by an ultimately “authoritarian” regime.

But Anwar, looking tired, lamented the toll that his years of legal trouble have taken on his family, including his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who emerged as an opposition symbol during her husband’s earlier political exile.

“I can see the anguish and sadness in their faces. But we have to endure,” he said.

Political law experts say Anwar has the right to stand in any upcoming elections until the appeals process is exhausted.