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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Temples, shops of Hindus attacked at Hathazari

Chittagong, Feb 10 ( – Authorities clamped Section 144 banning public gathering at Hathazari on Friday amid mounting tensions after several Hindu temples were vandalised and torched there.

Local people claimed religious bigots of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Chhatra Shibir incited the vandalism and arson of the temples from Thursday evening to Friday noon.

Tensions that boiled over into violence originated Thursday morning following rumours that a mosque had been attacked. Allegations have it that houses of Hindus in the area were also attacked. The leaders of the Hindu minority there blamed the 'indifference' of the administration for the situation.

Another group of people took to the Chittagong-Rangamati road blocking traffic from Nandirhat to Hathazari Sadar upazila around 11am Friday. They also said their Friday prayers on the road.

They alleged a mosque had allegedly been hurled with brick bats from a procession of Loknath Sebashram Thursday morning. The blockaders demanded arrest of those linked with 'hurling brick bats on the mosque'.

After simmering tensions through the day, primary and mass education minister Afsarul Ameen, city Awami League president A B M Mohiuddin Chowdhury, Chittagong Development Board chairman Abdus Salam and city Awami League's joint secretary Ibrahim Hossain Chowdhury Babul went to the area and calmed the agitated locals in the afternoon.

"Tensions mounted following a misunderstanding. Security in temples and mosques in the area has been strengthened and the law enforcers have been alerted," Ameen said.

Chittagong district deputy commissioner Faiz Ahmed told reporters about the ban on public assembly through the imposition of Section 144.

"Police will take action if they see any gathering," he said.


According to the local people, Hindus in the area took out a procession to celebrate the founding anniversary of Loknath Sebasram Thursday morning.

They used microphone and drums in the procession.

When the procession was passing a mosque, Muslims in the mosque forbade them to drums. At one stage, someone hurled a brick bat on the procession.

An altercation took place at once which turned into chase and counter-chase when someone from the procession responded by throwing a brick bat.

Police organised a meeting between the two parties which was allegedly delayed with ill-intention. A group of Muslims said that the meeting will be held in the mosque and the Hindus agreed.

The meeting started in the evening. Requesting anonymity, several of those who attended the meeting told that a handful of miscreants vandalised a temple on the Loknath Sebasram premises when the meeting was underway.

They also vandalised seven to eight cars of the temple's visitors.

Puja Udjapon Committee convenor Ashok Kumar Deb told that someone broke a windowpane of the mosque after the incident in the morning and a rumour that Hindus vandalised the mosque spread in the area.

On Friday morning, temples in the area were vandalised and shops owned by Hindus were torched and looted after madrasa students in the area gathered following an announcement through a PA system.

A correspondent in Chittagong said he saw tell-tale signs of vandalism in three other temples in the area. They are the Sri Sri Jagadeshwari Ma Temple and Jagannath Bigroho Temple at Nandirhat and Kalibari Temple at Sadar upazila.

The Sri Sri Jagadeshwari Ma Temple was burnt, too.


Many of the people in the area said a quarter is provoking the incident and Zila Parishad administrator M A Salam pointed the finger at Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.

As the area is only three kilometres away from the Chittagong University (CU), many of the leaders and activists of Chhatra Shibir's CU unit live there.

Moreover, the largest madrasa of the country is located in the area and Shibir allegedly controls it.

Zila Parishad administrator Salam said adequate police were not deployed in the area to tackle the situation after Thursday's incident.

Salam, an Awami League leader, said Jamaat and Shibir leaders were fuelling the tension to destabilise the situation after CU was ordered shut on Wednesday following deaths of two Shibir men in clashes with activists of pro-government students.

Hathazari Thana BNP chief S M Fazlul Haque blamed the administration for the unpleasant events.

"The situation would not have been like this in the first place had the administration been on alert at the beginning," he said.

Haque added that all local supporters and activists of BNP were asked to work together to protect communal harmony in the locality.

Local MP and Jatiya Party presidium member Anisul Islam Mahmud went to the area in the morning but failed to get the situation any better.

The disturbing developments prevented the annual festival of the Loknath Temple to begin Friday morning. A large number of Rapid Action Battalion members and police have been deployed there.  

Hindu Sangam and Malaysian temple authorities should revamp Hindu festivals.

By Saravanan,

Malaysian Indian forum are shocked with some photographs of Thaipusam and complains from the festivals. Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (Jan/Feb). Pusam refers to a star that is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates both the birthday of Lord Murugan, the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (spear) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. According to the true story of Thaipusam it is more of devotion and love towards Lord Muruga. In all Hindu scriptures surrendering to the lord was well emphasized but in recent times the celebration of spiritual festivals has been turned to fun fair.

Mr.Arvind Raj, A senior member says “The truth about Batu caves is, it has no system at all, everyone implement their own rules!” During such festivals garbage is thrown everywhere and the atmosphere doesn’t reflect a holy place. The festival has been turned to be a fun fair without the real motive of the Thaipusam. Since it is a holy festival, we are suggesting the Hindu Sangam and Maha Mariamman authorities to make traditional dresses as compulsory for devotees. Man should wear dhoti or least kurta and for women Saree or Chudithar should be the dress code. We got multiple complaints that women are wearing sexy cloths like short pants or tights till uphill. Our religion never taught to wear sexy dresses to temples and these dress guidelines will steadily make the Indians aligned to customs and culture of holy place.

During this Thaipusam, we were extremely shocked with 2 kavadis which were carried with Manchester United football club logo and with DAP logo. It is high time to control superstitious worship and back to the real thaipusam. Many of our members are asking for immediate action.
Many were observed that why this kolavery (Tamil song) was widely used for kavadi dance. Youngsters never been taught about the history and importance of such festival for many years. And eventually festivals are turned more like a street dance festival.

The policeman even stopped devotees (especially kids and women) who were holding Pal Kudam, Kavadis from entering the main gates and diverts them through the exit gate as the main gate is blocked for the Prime Minister Najib. The policemen should have arranged for alternate routes for devotes before blocking them and should have managed the crowd better.

I personally have seen the same festival in the same shape 30 years ago and now in 2012 also we are seeing the same. It is high time for the authorities to intervene and take stern action in future to make this festival showcasing our true Tamil culture and customs.

Passing assets to Bumi elites a return to Dr M’s failed policies, MPs say

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Lawmakers across the political divide are wary of Putrajaya’s move to
Umno supreme council member Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin gave the example of Khazanah’s MAS-AirAsia share swap as a deal that resulted in the public suffering. — file pic
transfer 10 non-core businesses from Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Permodalan Nasional Bhd to Bumiputera companies.

They say it mirrors the failed Mahathir-era plan to groom Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the 1990s.

While Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs support efforts to grow Bumiputera equity, which stood at 22 per cent in February last year, short of the 30 per cent target set by the government, they told The Malaysian Insider it has so far benefited only a handful of “crony elites.”

Umno supreme council member Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin said “the government must be transparent as to which Bumiputera company is being selected to ensure the national interest is served.”

“If we keep feeding the same Ali Babas which we’ve already helped, then this doesn’t help anything,” the Kinabatangan MP said, referring to Khazanah’s recent divestment of its 32 and 42.7 per cent stake in Pos Malaysia and Proton respectively to DRB-Hicom, controlled by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary.

The state investment arm had announced last month the sale of its shares in the national carmaker for RM1.3 billion, which followed from the RM623 million divestment in Pos Malaysia to Malaysia’s richest Bumiputera entrepreneur.

Bung Mokhtar also added that Khazanah handing over 20.5 per cent of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in exchange for a 10 per cent stake in AirAsia was another deal that resulted in the public suffering.

His Umno colleague Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed also said “this is nothing new and has been done for the past 40 years under the New Economic Policy (NEP).”

“If you compare with Mahathir’s time, instead of Mr Halim and Mr Tajuddin, read Mr Syed Mokhtar,” said Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, referring to the two poster boys of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s now discredited policy of nurturing a class of Malay corporate captains on government largesse.

Tan Sri Tajuddin Tamli, Tan Sri Halim Saad and others flew high in the 1990s but their true mettle was tested during the Asian financial crisis. Nearly all of them fared poorly.

Tajuddin helmed MAS from 1994-2001, after which it was renationalised as it struggled under a mountain of debt.

Halim’s Renong was also the subject of a reported RM10 billion bailout by the government which was completed after Tun Abdullah Badawi became prime minister in 2003.

PAS vice president Datuk Mahfuz Omar said that “the government seems to have a habit of handing over profitable businesses to its cronies who are incompetent.” — file pic
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday the divested entities will be awarded to Bumiputera companies that have good potential to grow after an open evaluation process.

Last year, Khazanah made a total of eight divestments which brought in proceeds of RM7.7 billion and helped to push the company’s profit before tax for the full year to RM5.3 billion from RM3 billion in 2010.

This included the complete privatisation of PLUS Bhd through a joint acquisition by UEM Group Bhd and the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF).

But DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong told The Malaysian Insider today that “the government cannot say functions like postal services are ‘non-core’ when everyone depends on them.”

“A private company will try to make profit whereas the government can help keep the cost of this basic amenity low. Even if Khazanah makes a profit from Pos Malaysia, it goes back into the taxpayers’ coffers.

“None of this helps the bottom 40 per cent of society, nearly three-quarters of whom are Bumiputera,” the Bukit Bendera MP said, referring to households earning RM1,500 per month or less.

PAS vice president Datuk Mahfuz Omar also said that “the government seems to have a habit of handing over profitable businesses to its cronies who are incompetent, and then being forced to nationalise the losses when these cronies fail.”

“And then they say that is in the national service because it is a key function. Look at how we’ve bailed out Renong and MAS,” the Pokok Sena MP said.

Najib ‘sacrificed his faith’ to attend Thaipusam do, says Perak Mufti

Najib (centre, left) and Rosmah (centre, right) wave to the crowd from within a flower garland during the Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves, February 7, 2011. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria today expressed his dismay over the prime minister’s decision to “sacrifice his faith” to attend Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves recently.

Harussani said even though he advised Datuk Seri Najib Razak every year not to join such events, the Barisan Nasional (BN) chief appeared not to place much importance on his faith or Islam.

“It’s an idolatrous act. I don’t know why this happened... when we don’t join in the celebrations of other races in their houses of worship.

“The prime minister should have sent a Hindu minister to take his place... as Muslims cannot be involved in other religions’ festivities,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Harussani added that the minister in charge of Islamic affairs or a religious advisor should have advised Najib not to attend the event held two days ago.

“We cannot join in (on other religions’ celebrations). They perform religious rituals, and as Muslims, we cannot be present,” he said, adding that going to open houses was acceptable but not places of worship.

On Tuesday, Najib attended the annual Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves — his third visit in as many years — where he announced an allocation of RM2 million to build a cultural centre in the area.

Najib, who wore a yellow kurta and was joined by his wife, Datuk Seri Rosmah Mansor, had said he was happy to join in the festivities.

‘Election reforms still not enough’

NGOs say that despite the reforms the Election Commission has a long way to go to win over people's confidence.

PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) has made some changes to the electoral process but NGOs say it is not enough.

In the last two months, the EC has been announcing a slew of changes. Many of these changes stem from the interim report of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms tabled in Parliament in November last year.

One example is the much-contested issue of indelible ink which the EC said yesterday will be gazetted into law come Feb 15.

Other changes include early voting for the armed forces personnel. This exercise will include some 200,000 army and police officers.

The move is also seen to address the concerns of many parties who have claimed that postal votes have been abused in favour of the ruling government in the past.

However, many NGOs are not impressed by the EC’s changes. Many of them labelled these changes as cosmetic, saying that the EC had a bigger task of winning back public confidence.

“Why should we give the EC credit? It took them 50 years to even propose these changes.We know that they are doing it because they feel the pressure from the people.

“The issue does not concern these reforms so much as it concerns the EC’s legitimacy itself. People must have faith that the EC is not working for any party and that the government that is elected is done so in a free and fair manner, ” said Wong Piang Yao of Tindak Malaysia.

Lack of confidence

Wong, who had participated in all six of PSC’s public hearings, said that these suggestions were merely “cosmetic changes” and that the EC had to work twice as hard in order to gain public trust.

Referring to the use of indelible ink which was rejected at the eleventh hour in the 2008 election, Wong said that he was “cautious” with the EC’s proposed reforms.

“It has to do with public confidence and the EC has very little at the moment based on past experience,” he added.

He said there needs to be an automatic voter registration system in place, voting for overseas Malaysians and other issues to be addressed to achieve a fairer election process.

The lack of confidence in the EC also persists as there are many concerns regarding the new early voting system involving the armed forces.

The EC announced yesterday that political party observers were now allowed to observe the early voting process which allows for greater transparency.

Commenting on this, Mafrel secretary-general Shaharudin Othman said that it was a positive move by the EC . However, he raised many questions regarding the manner in which these early votes will be handled.

Many unanswered questions

“Having political observers present at camps is not new as they were also allowed to be present previously but there are many unanswered questions.

“Can the observers stay back with the ballot boxes to ensure that there is no hanky-panky? Will the ballots be counted immediately to prevent any doubts?” he asked.

Bersih steering committee member, Wong Chin Huat, raised similar concerns.

“You can have early voting for the armed forces, you may have political observers there, but what happens after the polling stations in the camp close?

“Who stays back to observe? What guarantee is there that the votes will not be tampered with?” he asked.

Responding to this, PAS member in the PSC, Hatta Ramli said that this new process would ensure some transparency.

Explaining the differences, he said that political observers were previously allowed into the voting areas for the armed forces.

“The difference was that the army men were given the ballot paper and they could take the paper out of the camp. After a designated period they would return the form in envelopes. Technically through this way, they could have someone else vote on their behalf,

“But through early voting it is exactly like ordinary voting. The vote is cast immediately.

“Now the political observer can check if each army man has voted, check his IC number and see if he is around the stated age,” he said.

He also added that there will not be a break in the trail of the ballot as political observers are allowed to stay back with the ballot box.

“Now they can stay back with the ballot box to ensure that it is not tampered with.

“The ballots will be counted on election day itself. If early voting takes place three days in advance, then the political party representatives can stay back for three days and follow the ballot box to the counting station on polling day.”

He said that this was conveyed by the EC during its meetings with PSC, adding that it was merely a suggestion made by the EC but voiced his hope that it will be implemented.

When asked why the ballot papers could not be counted immediately, DAP member of PSC Anthony Loke said that there was a consensus that it will not be done at the moment.

“From our discussion there are many pros and cons to it. You don’t want the results to be revealed before election day itself as there may be a psychological effect on the voters or the party that is trailing.

“For now, it will be counted on election day.”

Pro-Palani man decries revolt threat

The call for a Gerakan Anti Palani is childish, says the Kota Raja division chief.

KLANG: The leader of a key MIC division today came out in support of party president G Palanivel to counter the threat of a revolt against the latter.

RS Maniam, chairman of MIC’s Kota Raja division in Selangor, accused Taman Mujur branch chief VT Rajen of trying to destroy the party with his call for a movement to unseat the party president.

Rajen has been issued with a show-cause letter from MIC’s disciplinary committee for calling on Palanivel to resign over reports that the party president was conspiring to nominate himself as candidate for the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat in place of incumbent SK Devamany.

In making the call, he threatened to spearhead a Gerakan Anti Palanivel (GAP), reminiscent of the Gerakan Anti Samy Vellu that was launched a few months before the former party president gave up his post to Palanivel in late 2010.

In a statement to the press, Maniam said Rajen was only showing how “childish and politically immature” he was.

Maniam’s opinion would carry weight with some sections of MIC because Indian voters in Kota Raja account for 28% of the electorate there. No other parliamentary constituency in the country can boast a higher figure.

He said GAP would be an extremist movement and Rajen’s call for it showed that he was devoid of ideas and merely trying to gain popularity “for reasons best known to himself”.

“Comments like these are the least that MIC now needs. Instead the focus should be on serving the Indian community better by understanding their needs.

“He should be talking on such issues and not on ways to destroy the party.”

He said Palanivel should be allowed the privilege of choosing where he would contest in the next elections. “This should be a basic right of the president.”

Rajen’s threat came after reports that Palanivel, anxious to legitimise his political position with a parliamentary seat, was secretly planning with the Cameron Highlands Umno chief to enable himself to stand for election in the hill resort. Incumbent Devamany, a vice president in MIC, has not made any significant comment on the reports.

Rajen warned Palanivel not to go for any parliamentary seat currently held by MIC.

Disciplinary committee chairman KS Nijhar confirmed today that he had given Rajen two weeks to explain his outbursts. He said a similar show-cause letter had been issued to Gadong Kecil branch chairman M Karunanidhi, who has also called for Palanivel’s resignation over the same issue.

Haris: What happened to the 2010 findings?

Selcat taken to task for absolving sand-mining company Kumpulan Semesta from any wrongdoing while an inquiry into its operations is yet to be concluded

PETALING JAYA: Human rights advocate, Haris Ibrahim, wants to know why the Selangor Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) has not released the written findings on the 2010 inquiry into a sand mining scandal.

In a blog posting on his People’s Parliament today, Haris also rebuked Selcat chairman Teng Chang Khim for pleading ignorance of the latest expose by blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK).

RPK alleged that Amirudin Shari and Mat Suhaimi Shafiei, the Batu Caves and Sri Muda assemblymen respectively colluded with a contractor to benefit from the sand mining operations.

He said the contractor gave cash to Suhaimi to finance the latter’s programmes while Amirudin provided a supporting letter to Double Dignity Sdn Bhd, a company belonging to the contractor.

Both assemblymen, said RPK, were part of Double Dignity’s directors.

“Selcat held a public inquiry into the administrative aspects of sand-mining in Selangor in June 2010 after Kapar MP S Manikavasagam exposed improprieties in the operations.

“The proceedings were adjourned in June 4 to await further submissions of evidence from Manikavasagam,” said Haris.

“Manickavasagam wanted to produce witnesses but Teng reprimanded him for not providing written statements first.

“Since then, Manickavasagam who was initially anxious to expose corruption in the state sand mining industry had become very quiet,” said Haris.

Teng yesterday claimed he was in the dark over the latest allegations made by RPK and said he needed time to study before considering holding a public inquiry on his allegations.

Haris reminded Teng that the latter had absolved Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) of any wrongdoing in June 2010 although the hearing has yet to be concluded.

Haris added that when he contacted Teng last year to ask of outcome of the inquiry, he was told the written findings will ready by November.

“But nothing has come forth. Teng absolved KSSB before the hearing was completed. Manickavasagam had also failed to produce his witnesses. Why is it so?” asked Haris.

When contacted, an upset Teng said neither he or his committee members had made any public announcements on releasing a written statement on the 2010 inquiry findings.

On the latest allegation by RPK, Teng said he had already called for a meeting with his committee members on the matter. “We will let the press know of developments,” he said.

Police detain Saudi tweeter

The Saudi journalist fled his country after making some Twitter comments about Prophet Muhammad.

KUALA LUMPUR: The police today said they had detained a young Saudi journalist who fled his country after Twitter comments he made about the Prophet Muhammad triggered calls for his execution.

Hamza Kashgari was taken into custody after flying into Malaysia’s main international airport yesterday, police spokesman Ramli Yoosuf told AFP.

“Kashgari was detained at the airport upon arrival following a request made to us by Interpol after the Saudi authorities applied for it,” he said.

The state news agency Bernama said the 23-year-old Kashgari had been detained by Muslim-majority Malaysia “for allegedly insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad”.

AFP could not immediately confirm where the 23-year-old Kashgari flew in from and officials in Interpol’s office in Malaysia could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last week, on the prophet’s birthday, he tweeted: “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you.

“I will not pray for you.”

As fellow Muslim countries, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have close ties but do not have a formal extradition treaty.

However, an official with the Malaysian home ministry who asked to remain unidentified said Kashgari could be extradited under other bilateral security agreements.

Malaysia has in the past summarily deported people it considers undesirable.

Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, a spokeswoman for Malaysian activist group Lawyers for Liberty, said Kashgari was a blogger who had decried the “oppression of women”. “This is again a violation of freedom of expression. He has every right of making comments and so on without being persecuted,” she told AFP.

“Malaysia should give asylum to him. But instead they are conspiring with the Saudi government. It’s abhorrent.”

‘An infidel’

Kashgari’s controversial tweet sparked some 30,000 responses, according to an online service that tracks Twitter postings in the Arab world.

Insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam and is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Kashgari has apologised but that has not stemmed calls for his head.

A committee of top clerics branded him “an “infidel” and demanded he be tried in an Islamic court, while a Facebook page entitled “The Saudi people demand Hamza Kashgari’s execution” has attracted thousands of followers.

The incident has shone a spotlight on the use of freewheeling social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia.

Top Saudi cleric Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh has called Twitter “a great danger not suitable for Muslims” and “a platform for spreading lies and making accusations”.

But millions of Saudis, including many government officials, have created Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The true meaning of a civil society

Luckily Perak is a Barisan Nasional run state and Najib is the head of Barisan Nasional. If the Selangor Mufti had done this and if he had whacked the Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, the Pakatan Rakyat people would have screamed that he had been bought off, he is working for Umno, he is on Najib’s payroll, and so on.
Raja Petra Kamarudin

(Mail Online, 10 February 2012) - A Christian street preacher told two gay men they were 'sinners' who would 'burn in hell' as they walked past him on a busy high street, a court heard today.
In a case, which could reignite the debate over the boundaries of free speech, Michael Overd, 47, is accused of using threatening language towards civil partners Craig Manning and Craig Nichol when he saw them as he preached on a busy high street last July.
The court heard claims the lay preacher was provoked by a previous altercation with the couple in October 2010, when he singled them out when he saw them holding hands.
The defence claim that Overd, of Creech St Michael in Somerset, did not threaten the pair but was merely exercising freedom of expression by loudly reading from the Bible as they passed, and accused them of being threatening towards the preacher when they saw who he was.
Giving evidence at Taunton Magistrates' Court, Mr Nichol said that as soon as Overd saw them from around 10 metres away on July 16 last year 'the expression on his face changed'.
'He said "I have already told these two sinners over here that they are going to burn in Hell",' he said.
'He looked at us and pointed at us when he said it. His voice was quite loud and very clear. I felt angry, embarrassed and ashamed.’
'It was a really busy day and I felt that everyone was looking at us when he was saying these things to us. I asked him who he was to judge me and he said "It’s God’s words, it is in the Bible".’
'He said I should repent and ask God for forgiveness.'
Paul Diamond, representing Overd, claimed his client was merely reciting a passage from 1 Corinthians, which says: 'Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.'
He said his client was allowed to use freedom of expression to read from the bible and accused the pair of threatening violence against Overd, something they deny.
Interesting or not? In Britain, even if you are a preacher, imam, rabbi, priest, or whatever, if you quote from the Holy Book and condemn someone as a sinner who is going to burn in hell, you will be arrested and charged in court.
Yes, Britain practices freedom of speech. You can even criticise the Queen and the Royal Family -- not like in Malaysia where you would be charged for sedition, like Karpal Singh, if you were perceived (even wrongly-perceived by a Malay, non-English-speaking reporter) that you have criticised the Sultan.
Nevertheless, as much as Britain practices and allows freedom of speech, they do draw the line somewhere. And if you try to impose your religious beliefs and values on others you will get arrested and will be sent to jail. In short, keep your religion to yourself and don’t pass judgment on others, or else you get sent to jail.
In Malaysia it is the opposite.
PAS wants to ban Valentine’s Day. The Perak Mufti condemned Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for attending the Thaipusam celebrations at the Batu Caves (READ MORE HERE).
In Malaysia, if you whack the Mufti for imposing his values on others and say that it is a stupid attitude, you may instead get arrested for ‘insulting Islam’.
In the first place, how can the Perak Mufti whack the Prime Minister? Is he not a government officer who is paid a salary from the government coffers? Is he not supposed to ‘show loyalty’ to Barisan Nasional?
Luckily Perak is a Barisan Nasional run state and Najib is the head of Barisan Nasional. If the Selangor Mufti had done this and if he had whacked the Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, the Pakatan Rakyat people would have screamed that he had been bought off, he is working for Umno, he is on Najib’s payroll, and so on.
No way will the Pakatan Rakyat people allow the Selangor Mufti to whack Anwar. So how come the Umno people are keeping quiet when the Perak Mufti whacks Najib? Very strange! Is the Perak Mufti a Trojan horse who has been paid off by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to undermine Najib? Strange indeed!
Anyway, as they say, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. In that same spirit, one man’s freedom of speech is another man’s Trojan horse. Such are the ways of humankind.
And in Britain if you moralise and whack ‘sinners’ you go to jail. In Malaysia, if you whack the moraliser and ‘bible-thumper’ you end up in jail instead.
I can see that my work will never be accomplished in my lifetime…..sigh……

Personal Data Act may be enforced soon

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Personal Data Protection Act may be implemented this year after enforcement personnel and department staff have been trained, said Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

“This is to ensure that all parties understand the law before it is enforced. Awareness programmes are also on-going for consumers and those in the industry,” he said after opening the new Personal Data Protection Department and awareness seminar here yesterday.

Training, he added, would be given to members of the Attorney-General's Chambers and the police. The Act was gazetted in June 2010.

Dr Rais said the Act aimed to protect people's personal data, such as bank account details, credit card information, medical history, blood type and communication details, to ensure it was not abused.

“A person is committing an offence if he keeps personal data without permission or does not abide by the seven principles in the Act,” he said, adding that offenders could face a fine of up to RM30,000 and a year's jail.

He said the new law, which complements the Communications and Multimedia Act, would help Malaysia become a leading e-commerce and communications centre.

On Thailand's move to back Twitter's controversial censorship policy, Rais said the authorities would study the developments objectively.

“If what is being done in Thailand results in something good for the nation, then we will look into it from various aspects and we will take into account legal issues and personal rights. We will also look at the importance of online transactions and communication among people,” he said.

The micro-blogging site announced recently that it had refined its technology for specific content to be withheld in a certain country but viewed elsewhere in the world.

The move has come under heavy criticism for stifling freedom of speech.

Thailand has become the first country to publicly endorse Twitter's decision.

On Pas Youth's proposed memorandum against media publicity for Valentine's Day, Dr Rais said he was ready to accept any memorandum from them.

However, he noted that Malaysia was a multi-racial country where different cultures and practices had to be respected.

Hishammuddin Confirms Arrest Of Saudi Arabian Newspaper Columnist

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 10 (Bernama) - Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has confirmed the arrest of Saudi Arabian newspaper columnist Mohammad Najeeb A Kashgari at KL International Airport (KLIA) Thursday.

Hishammuddin said the Saudi citizen better known as Hamza Kashgari, 23, was arrested by police at about 9.40am at the request of Saudi Arabian authorities for reportedly insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad.

"The police have been in contact with authorities in Saudi Arabia to determine further action," he said in a statement Friday.

Bernama Thursday quoted an Interpol source that the columnist was arrested by police shortly after his arrival at KLIA.

Hamza was reported to have made posting that insulted Islam via social networking site Twitter, causing outrage in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi media said Hamza made posting on Prophet Muhammad's birthday celebration last week, implying that he was interacting with the prophet, as if they were of equal status.

Hamza also said that he liked some characteristics of the prophet while others were not to his liking.

Following Hamza's posting, some 30,000 Twitter entries venting anger were made in less than 24 hours.

Old Penang: Penang Road

This is what Penang Road looked like in the early 20th century – we once had a car-free George Town, didn’t we?

(Click on picture to enlarge)
This is approaching the junction at the end of Chulia Street. Notice the trolley buses, rickshaws, and bicycles and pedestrians – all environmentally friendly.
Thanks to Ric Francis for forwarding this picture.