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Monday, January 16, 2012

‘Hang Li Po, Hang Tuah did not exist’

Historian Prof Khoo Kay Kim says that the Ming dynasty's records do not mention the princess or the famous warrior. He also points out that early Malaysian history is based on stories.

PETALING JAYA: According to history, Chinese Princess Hang Li Po was the fifth wife of Malaccan Sultan Mansur Shah who reigned from 1456-1477.

During this period, there was also the legend of the Sultan’s five famous warriors, Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. It is a tale of friendship and loyalty, which every Malaysian had heard.

However, renowned historian Prof Khoo Kay Kim told radio station BFM this morning that Hang Li Po and the five warriors never existed.

Speaking to FMT later, he explained: “The Chinese Ming dynasty of the 16th century does not have records on them. These are very well preserved records.”

The KDU college chancellor also said he had read the writings of two Western historians and another prominent historian Wang Gung Wu on the Ming records which did not mention the characters either.

“History must be based on empirical records. Historians must only accept written records,” he said, adding that empirical records available here were at best “skanky”.

“There is no evidence in the Malaysian records,” he said. “These are stories. Early Malaysian history is based on stories.”

“We have had many stories. Only recently historians have taken the trouble to research the early Malaysian history period. A lot of stories accepted in the past cannot be proven,” he added.

Khoo also told FMT that there are rumours that the Malacca kingdom was founded in 1292 even though there were records to prove that it was formed in the 15th century.

He added that the government had instructed the syllabus committee to go through the school history syllabus to rectify the errors.

The syllabus, said Khoo, would be introduced in the year 2014.

Protest to protect Bangladesh Temple properties from the Jaws of Islamic Land Sharks.

Dhaka Hindu Human Chain against Temple Land Grabbing by Muslims.
Muslim Syndicates forcefully grabbing Hindu Temples, Trusts and Shrines in Bangladesh.
Press Release in Bangla
HE NEWS DESK DHAKA || 15th January, 2012 :: A big protest and a huge human chain were conducted by the minority Bangladshi Hindus today on 15th January, 2012 on the very day of Makar Sankranti festival in protest of land grabbing over the Hindu occupation, especially from the Hindu religious sites all over BD (Bangladesh) by the Muslims goons and land grabbing syndicates.
Over thousand Hindu protesters today came down to streets before Press Club Dhaka, Bangladesh and blocked the roads for hours with a demand of to arrest of the perpetrators engaged with such nefarious and forceful land grabbing from the minority Hindus in some under the nose of Police and Administration too.
Three prime organizations namely ‘Moth Mandir and Debbottor Sampatti Raksha Committee’ and ‘ISKCON Dhaka’ and ‘Sree Sree Radha kanto Jeo Temple’ committee jointly organized the  Manabbondhan (Human Chain) and Protest rally  demanding the safety and security of  Hindu and Buddhist Temples and immediate arrest and punishment of the land grabbers and responsible criminals without any delay.
From the Press Release it is known that the 200 years old SREE SREE RADHA KANTO JEO TEMPLE at 222 Lal Mohan Saha Street, Sutrapur, Dhaka, Bangladesh was established by one rich Hindu business man named Mathura Sha Banik in his own land for the purpose of the Seva & Puja (daily offering and services to the God deity) of his ancestral deity of SREE SREE RADHA KANTO DEV JEO, but he could not be able to register the landed property in due time in the name of Revered Deity due to his sudden death. Afterwards, his four sons Gobinda, Ananda, Moni Mohan & Nadia Chand duly registered all these 22 Cottha of land to the Deity Divine as Devettor Property on 11/09/1889 through a Deed bearing No. 2735. Form then an un-interrupted Puja has been conducting with full veneration and active participation of all concerned.
But, since 2008, some notorious Islamist groups headed by the land shark and terrorists like Hazi Islam, Sarowar Hossian Alo, Ibrahim Molla, Arif Mallu have jointly been trying to grab many Hindu Shrines and its property in Dhaka (Capital of Bangladesh), old Dhaka area and adjacent places by ransacking the Hindu temples, bombing and looting of Hindu properties time and again. The perpetrators made fake deeds to capture the SREE SREE RADHA KANTO JEO TEMPLE and attacked the temple and its inmates on 11-08-2010 with bomb sword and other lethal weapons. A diary was also made then for the protection of the Temple properties and its inmates. It may be mentioned that the world famous Hindu Organization and prime Vaishnava Order ISKCON is presently looks after the premises of this complex and consequently ISKCON is also being targeted by the Muslim fundamentalist with a deadly design.
In March 2011, the land sharks threatened that Hindu Temples will not be allowed in Islamic Republic Bangladesh, and Hindus cannot be allowed for any religious program publicly henceforth. The resident Hindus and many Hindu organizations retaliated then vehemently and registered a diary for this in Ramna Model Police Station vides GD NO. 1842 dt. 28.03.2011. But the threatening is still going on and the present BD Govt rather is allowing the land shark Muslim Fundamentalists by not arresting them to stop teir designs to capture many heritage and old Hindu Shrines at Goal Ghat, Jolapur, Ranking Street, Woari and Tipu Sultan Road. It is reported that the present “Sanai Community Center” of Hazi Islam at Woari area is built after a force encroachment of Manik Ghosh Trust property. The Sankha Nidhi Temple complex of Tipu Sultan Road or the ISKCON complex at Swamibag Road are also under the scanner of these fundamental Islamic groups who want to drive away all Hindus from Bangladesh under a severe persecution and conspiracy of ethnic cleansing.
But with the protest of today, the Govt. of Bangladesh can take justified steps to protect the religious rights of non Muslim minority if they think fit to do so.
The organizers urged the International Hindu Community to support the cause to protect religious rights of the Hindus including the safety and security of Hindu Math and Mandirs. The interested persons can contact in the address below:
ISKCON Swamibag Ashram
79/1 Swamibag Road, Swamibag, Dhaka.
Dhaka-1100, Bangladesh
Phone: 088-02-7122488, 088-02-7122747
Moth Mandir and Debbottor Sampatti Raksha Committee, Bangladesh.
79, Swamibag Road, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Phone: 088-02-7122488, Mobile: 088-01730059211, 01716136070, 01911012249.

ndonesian Islamists wreak havoc screaming for a Sharia state

JAKARTA — Hundreds of protestors attacked the offices of Indonesian Home Ministry in Jakarta on Thursday, pressing the government to ban alcohol countrywide and to turn the country into an Islamic state.
Indonesian Islamists stormed the Home Ministry complex in Jakarta and wreaked havoc inside
Indonesia is a secular state with no official religion. It is the most populous Muslim nation in terms of population, and most of its citizens are moderates. Radical Muslim groups however, have in recent years formed syndicates to raid bars, nightclubs and the office of Indonesia’s Playboy magazine.
Around 500 angry protesters, including members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and Islamic People’s Forum (FUI), stormed government office complex in Jakarta to protest a proposal to revoke anti-alcohol rules, damaging a security post, car park and glass panels before threatening to conduct sweeps on bars and beat up customers, Indonesian news agency Kompas reported on Thursday.
Indonesia has bylaws that regulate the sale of alcohol in the country. Under the regulations, alcohol is classified into three categories: A (with an alcohol content of 5% or less), B (above 5% to 20%) and C (above 20% to 55%). The sale of alcohol classified as B and C is limited only to places such as hotels and restaurants, while alcohol classified as A, such as beer, is being sold anywhere.
The new proposal to cancel the bylaw will allow sales of Class B and C alcoholic drinks elsewhere.
Indonesian radical group FPI, Osama bin what.
Protesters outside the interior ministry in the city’s main square wore white robes with the word “mujahideen” emblazoned on their shirts. “President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must issue a decree to ban alcohol and to cut alcohol distribution in Indonesia to zero percent,” said FPI field coordinator Awit Mashuri.
“We will defend anti-alcohol bylaws and we will fight anything that is against the interests of Islam in Indonesia to make it a pure Islamic state,” Zulfi Syukur told the cheering crowd, many of whom pumped their fists in the air and shouted “jihad”, or holy war.
Indonesia Home Ministry complex – aftermath
FPI wants to transform Indonesia into an Islamic state with Sharia as its legislature. The group has launched a series of violent vigilante attacks since 2000, with targets including the US embassy and nightclubs.
The Indonesia Home Ministry responded angrily to the attack, Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said the ministry would “evaluate” both the the FPI and the FUI. “If necessary, we will freeze them,” he said. The Constitution may respect the right of these groups to exist, he said, but they need to obey the law. “We have decided to take two courses of action,” Gamawan said.
However, it is questionable whether any action will really be taken against the FPI. The Muslim organization is believed to have the backing of both the National Police and the military. The group’s growing aggressiveness is worrisome to human rights groups, who say that the Islamist organization is nothing more than a collection of nearly uncontrollable thugs.

Critics say President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s attitude was reflected in the Oct. 7, 2010 appointment of Timur Pradopo, who has strong ties to FPI, as national police chief. Based on a Wikileaks report in the leaked US diplomatic cables, it was claimed the FPI receives funding from the police.
The FPI has often resorted to violence, ransacking bars, threatening pork sellers and attacking peaceful demonstrations. It has also tried to prevent Christian churches from being built in communities near Jakarta.
Indonesia’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the country has struggled to deal with a radical fringe of extremists who have carried out numerous attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

Transforming Indonesia into an Islamic state however, may prove challenging. Since its inception in 1945, Indonesia has been guided by a nationalist philosophical construct known as the Pancasila rather than a state religion. Any establishment of Shariah-inspired state may risk the secession of almost the entire Eastern Indonesia, most of them Christian-majority, and the famed island of Bali, which is 92% Hindu. Ethnic and religious tensions had resulted in the separation of East Timor into an independent country in 1999, and Indonesia currently has active secessionist movements in both Christian Maluku and West Papua.

Last Ponggal for Kampung Railway Sentul?

MCA believes can oust Guan Eng from Bagan

Lim secured the Bagan seat with a 22,000-vote majority in 2008. — File pic

BUTTERWORTH, Jan 15 — MCA today expressed confidence in edging out Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng from his Bagan seat in the coming polls, despite the trouncing the party took there in 2008.

Bernama Online reported MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Liow Tiong Lai as saying that voters in Bagan were now “open to accept Barisan Nasional (BN)”, adding that his party’s chosen candidate would give the opposition pact a run for its money.

“We already have a candidate for the Bagan constituency, but I cannot reveal who.

“MCA is confident that this person can do well against DAP’s candidate as Bagan wants someone who is hardworking and responsible,” Liow was quoted as telling reporters here tonight.

“We will fight DAP’s candidate to the very end and I’m sure that the people of Bagan are now open to accept BN after they’ve seen what we’ve done for them,” he added.

Lim, who is also DAP’s secretary-general, defeated MCA’s Song Choy Leng for the Bagan parliamentary seat in Election 2008 with a 22,070-vote majority.

The popular leader also led his party’s state chapter to a historic win in Penang, which was one of the first states to fall into opposition hands during the 2008 political tsunami.

After clinching the Air Puteh state assembly seat with a 4,061-vote majority, Lim was appointed to the post of chief minister, unseating Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and effectively ending the latter’s eighteen-year reign.

In November last year, Koh announced that he would refrain from contesting in the coming polls, silencing calls from party members and the opposition for him to take on his arch-nemesis Lim by facing him in Bagan.

Analysts have repeatedly predicted Lim’s tenure would continue after the 13th general election, said to be held soon, due to his prudent management of the state’s finance and persistence in ensuring his principles on competency, accountability and transparency (CAT) are adhered to in all administrative matters.

All sound and fury but no substance

The Pakatan convention made all the right noises but it appears that the alliance is not yet prepared for the coming general election.

ALOR SETAR: The third Pakatan Rakyat convention which ended yesterday saw a resurgent Anwar Ibrahim envisioning a “Malaysian Spring” sweeping through the country, where the politics of conscience, and not self-preservation, will be the order of the day.

Speaking at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium here, he said that Malaysian leaders must follow their conscience and do what is right and not for personal glory.

“I envisioned a Malaysian Spring dawning,” Anwar said in a veiled reference to last year’s Arab Spring movement which saw a few long-serving Middle East regimes falling by the wayside in the face of widespread anger of ordinary Arab citizens.

A “Malaysian Spring” has been his most often used line since his acquittal of a sodomy charge last Monday.

Earlier, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, in a typically fiery speech to the delegates, called for the removal of the corrupt Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

His father, DAP doyen Lim Kit Siang also spoke about a Malaysian Spring, saying the time has come to finally dethrone the ruling Barisan Nasional after decades of abuse of power.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat spoke about how Islam can bring about justice and prosperity in Malaysia.

A frail-looking Nik Aziz said tongue in cheek about Umno’s overtures to form a Malay unity government with PAS: “I know who you (Umno) are.”

Same ‘old record’

These are the few words of English that the cleric uttered in public, although those in his inner circle claimed he is quite proficient in the language, as he does read English newspapers in the private comforts of his office and home.

Then there were the second-echelon Pakatan Rakyat leaders, namely Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, DAP Youth head Anthony Loke, Kelantan executive councillor Husam Musa who spoke about what Pakatan would do when in power.

Dzulkefly tocuhed on the practicality and usefulness of the “Orange Book,” which spells out Pakatan’s pledges for the next general election.

About 50,000 people thronged the stadium to hear sound and fury from the speakers. But for some it was like listening to the same “old record”.

However, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail saw the gathering as a chance to woo fence-sitters in preparation for the next national polls.

For some observers and delegates, this one-day convention turned out to be a non-starter, simply because there was nothing of substance to indicate that the Pakatan alliance is ready.

Some delegates expressed the hope that the convention would be the rallying point for Pakatan to galvanise its troops for the “mother of all general elections”.

But they were quite disappointed when they heard the speakers spout only stale topics.

Most of the delegates were seen just going through the paces, with some preferring to walk around and pose for photographs rather than listen to the speeches.

Lacking in substance

Only former Bar Council president S Ambiga caught the attention of the press as she challenged Pakatan to come out with ways on how to deal with corruption effectively.

Later, Ambiga told the press that the Election Commission was not doing enough on electoral reforms.

She proposed that foreign observers be invited to monitor the election’s proceedings.

Pakatan seems to be lacking in substance as it does have any idea on how to take the alliance forward, said part-time blogger Ahmad Noordin, who blogs about social issues.

There is no denying that Pakatan has a strong support base, but still it must reach out to the fence- sitters including the older generation, who have yet to embrace the young leaders, he said.

A DAP Malay leader said the core issue is about turning into reality the well-meaning intentions or policies of Pakatan.

“We fail to implement our great ideas or policies upfront,” he said..

However, he believes that Pakatan can deny the BN its two-thirds majority and may go on to form the next government.

But not everybody has the perseverance like Anwar or DAP chairman Karpal Singh to soldier on, he added.

An observer, Jusof Mohd Hafiz, a teacher, said that he expected to hear new ideas on how to combat the high cost of living but instead, he was presented with a summary of Pakatan’s past achievements.

“We are more interested in the present and the future,” he said.

Another take on border smuggling

These so-called 'smugglers' should be congratulated for helping lower the cost of living for those residing at the border.

Recently the New Straits Times ran a front-page article on brazen smuggling at our borders with Thailand and Indonesia.

In its report, an NST team which joined several Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) covert surveillance operations found that agencies tasked with foiling smuggling attempts were closing an eye to the movement of price-controlled goods by foreigners and Malaysians.

According to the paper’s report, this is costing the government hundreds of millions of ringgit annually. Goods smuggled ranged from diesel, petrol, liquefied petroleum gas to sugar, cooking oil and flour.

The “exposé” was followed by another front-page article the next day with the screaming headline “For RM10, smugglers can breeze in and out” (Jan 3, 2012) and the sub-headline “Corruption is rampant among law enforcers at border checkpoints”.

There has been no response yet from the higher authorities to these sensational reports. But if the NST editors are expecting Malaysians to pat them on the back for being a crusading paper, they are hopelessly wrong.

Let me provide another point of view.

What is NST’s real agenda?

Highly placed officials and politicians have confided to me that the NST is getting out of control by running these articles which are calculated to bring the government agencies and top brass into disrepute.

Their job should be to focus on bringing down Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan Rakyat opposition parties, not to invite attention to minor and trivial issues.

I fully agree. In addition, I have to point out that what the NST has described as smuggling is technically correct but a view taken from a biased perspective. A more holistic political economy approach is needed to explain the activity before jumping to rash conclusions.

What we are seeing at the border can be characterised as an adaptation of the long established and traditional people-to-people economic exchange, without the repressive hand of the state to extract duties and taxes.

According to the American social scientist, James Scott – whose acclaimed book, “Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance”, incidentally, was based on work in the Muda area of Kedah – “the Brechtian or Schweikian forms of resistance… are an integral part of the small arsenal of relatively powerless groups”.

The said forms of resistance include such acts as foot-dragging, dissimulations, false compliance, feigned ignorance, desertion, pilfering, smuggling, poaching… and so on. “These techniques, for the most part quite prosaic, are the ordinary means of class struggle. They are the techniques of ‘first resort’ in those common historical circumstances in which open defiance is impossible or entails mortal danger.”

These so-called “smugglers” are in fact taking a big risk of breaking the law to facilitate the exchange. Rather than being condemned, they should be congratulated for helping lower the cost of living for those residing at the border.

As to the damage to the Malaysian economy, let’s have a more enlightened view.

Many of the beneficiaries are our Muslim brothers and sisters living on the other side of colonial borders arbitrarily imposed on us. If the British, French and Dutch had not concocted their nefarious slicing up of the region, we may be living with those now on the other side of the border as one big happy family.

Now that colonialism has come and gone, if we can help our Thai and Indonesian kin have access to cheaper goods, why not? Can we not close one eye, especially as these are poorer folk than us? Why begrudge our Narathiwat and Pattani or north Kalimantan relations especially when they are already feeling the oppression of their own central government?

If we close both eyes to this activity, Malaysians will not only be seen as charitable neighbours but we can also proudly claim to be doing more than our fair share for the common Asean good.

Beating up customs officers

The NST articles also went to great lengths to beat up our Jabatan Kastam Diraja officers. Come on. This is not only unpatriotic but also unfair. These customs officers receive only a few ringgit of duit kopi for standing in the sun the whole day to help facilitate this exchange.

Let’s also not forget that these same officers also facilitate the cheap influx of fragrant beras Siam, fruits and other Thai commodities into our country without having the taxman extract his pound of flesh, and having the Defence Ministry appropriate the revenue to buy Scorpene submarines.

Without them, we will not be enjoying our nasi lemak special at bargain prices. So let’s appreciate these men in brown who have to put in long hours at isolated and faraway border outposts protecting our national security. Let’s not carp about the couple of hundred ringgit extra taken home that comes with their job.

Yet another perspective

According to one friend, I and my highly placed Barisan Nasional and civil servant colleagues have missed the entire point of the NST exercise. This is because the two articles are a smokescreen to distract readers’ attention away from the large-scale bribery and looting of the country’s resources that is taking place.

According to him, enormous sums of money amounting to millions and billions of ringgit – not the paltry sums mentioned in the NST article – exchange hands. These vast sums are not slipped furtively hidden between customs papers in the scorching heat at god-forsaken spots but openly in cool air-conditioned coffee houses and hotels in Kuala Lumpur or outside the country at some luxurious resort.

Mainstream media have never highlighted these scandals and never will. But they are making up for this failure to live up to Clark Kent investigative journalism by going after the ikan bilis and making readers think that the NST is really a “people’s paper”.

The friend who believes I missed the point of NST’s exercise made the final deflating rejoinder that my academic background has led me to over-intellectualise the smuggling activity and to overlook the most important reason for the two articles. On further thought, he may be right.

Lim Teck Ghee is the director of Centre for Policy Initiatives.