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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Islamists are putting hurdles to Shri Amarnathji Yatra. Hindus will retaliate eventually.

Amarnath yatra curtailed to 39 days under the pressure of Islamists.

It is not a new thing that the Pak sponsored Islamist groups and the Hurriyat Conference tie-up always put many hurdles before the Hindu pilgrimage of World famous annual Amarnath Yatra in the recent years including blasts and attacks upon the Hindu-Sikh Pilgrimage in this occasion.

In 2008, 6 Hindus were killed and 100 injured during the 61 days agitation and hartaal in Jammu and adjacent areas for the agreement to temporary transfer 99 acres of land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board. Then the seperatists and the Hurriyat Conference vultures declined to hand over such lands meant for the facility for the pilgrimage. Those vultures alleged a demographic change due to the 60 days Pilgrimage coming in Kashmir for Amarnathji Yatra. Ultimately, Hindus won the war for that phase.

Now, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) headed by the Jammu and Kashmir governor has cut the duration of this year’s Amarnath pilgrimage to 39 days, angering Hindutva activists in Jammu, Delhi and various parts in India. It is reported that the authority has bowed down to the pressure group of the Islamist lobby, working on a total ban on Hindu pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir.

A Raj Bhavan spokesperson said the yatra would start on June 25 and end on Rakhsha Bandhan or Shravan Purnima, which falls on August 2.

The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board had curtailed the yatra from 60 days to 45 days last year, triggering fierce protests from Hindutva groups, which threatened to start an unofficial pilgrimage 15 days earlier.

The groups relented after the board promised to form a sub-committee, headed by its member Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to fix the duration of future pilgrimages in consultation with religious heads.

The Raj Bhavan spokesperson said this year’s schedule was fixed on the recommendation of the Ravi Shankar committee, whose other members included Swami Avdeshnandji of Haridwar, Swami Gyaanandji of Vrindavan, chamber of commerce president Y.V. Sharma and other civil society members.

The board’s explanation is that the twin routes from Pahalgam and Baltal to the cave shrine become fit for movement only around June-end and that Raksha Bandhan falls on August 2 this year, against August 13 last year.

To placate potential protesters, the board has decided to arrange a special puja on Jaishtha Purnima, which falls on June 4, at the cave or some suitable location depending on the weather.

Also, if weather permits, the board may advance the yatra by a few days, the Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad president Rama Kant Dubey said: “We want the yatra to last two months. There will be no compromise on this.”

The board today also issued a list of dos and don’ts. They will now need a doctor’s certificate before they can undertake the arduous yatra. Cardiac arrest and accidents killed 107 pilgrims last year.

The yatra’s duration has been a subject of controversy since 2003 when then governor S.K. Sinha decided to extend it to two months despite strong opposition from chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Sayeed had to relent and the yatra was extended first by 15 days in 2004 and then by another 15 days two years later.

Separatist zealots led by Hurriyat vulture Syed Ali Shah Geelani want the yatra to be curtailed to 15 days, claiming that was the practice before 1990.

Now, the Islamic propagators of Kashmir think that the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others are the subject of the Muslims in J&K. Muslims are less in numbers, contributors and participators in every foot-step in the National cause as they bear the more Pan Islamist legacy than the Indian nationalism. But they are supported by the Indian Govt also very unfortunately.

In India, Hindus will decide the time frame of the Hindu pilgrimage, rituals and religious festivals. Not, the Muslims. Otherwise Hindus will be compelled to check the Muslim festivals as a stanch repercussion. It is well known that united Hindu force successfully stopped Shariah for Hind Project in India in recent days. Rest is bound to happen in due time.

Hindus Existence urges all the Hindu saints and leaders in SASB and in all other forums to take hard steps to keep high the sentiment and the dignity of Hindu Pilgrimage in a land of Hindus, i.e. Bharat. Jai Hind.

Iran Arrests 78-Year-Old Woman for Leaving Islam...

Although it is two months since the New Year, as predicted, security forces of the Intelligence system of the Islamic Republic have increased their pressure against Christian converts. They do this every year at the same time as Christmas celebrations in Churches in Iran, especially among Farsi-speaking Christians.
According to Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, security authorities of the Islamic Republic have started a broad systematic series of arrests in different parts of Iran, especially in Esfahan in an attempt to counter the growth of Christianity and the house church movement. The arrests in Esfahan which began with the arrest of Hekmat Salimi, pastor of the official church of St. Paul, are a continuation of the series of arrests of Christians in Ahwaz and Shiraz. On the morning of February 22, 2012, security authorities attacked his home in Fooladshahr, arrested him without providing a reason and transferred him to an unknown location.
(Esfahan, 439 KMs south of Tehran, the capital)
Based on a published report, following that raid, a 78 year old Christian lady, Ms. Giti Hakimpour, a member and minister of St. Luke's church of Esfahan, was arrested in her flat that same day. Eyewitnesses said that there were both police and private cars parking down below her flat from 6 in the morning.
- The continuation of coordinated arrests
The latest report by Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, indicates that a Christian convert by the name of Majid Enayat, a member of a house church was also arrested following the arrests of numerous Christians in Esfahan. Security authorities arrested him in his workplace on the same day as other detainees i.e. February 22.
After the arrest, security authorities went to his house, searched it and seized some of his personal property. Majid Enayat had just married in the latter part of last summer. The officers even took the movies of his wedding ceremony with them and there is a concern that security authorities will use those movies to identify their Christian friends and other contacts.
After his arrest and until Friday, February 24, Majid's wife was also summoned for interrogation. She was also asked to bring some of Majid's personal things and give them to the Intelligence services. This implies that they are planning to keep him in jail for a long time.
Majid has been denied any contacts or visits from his wife or family since his arrest, the report adds.
It's noteworthy that security authorities sent Mr. Enayat some messages through people who had been arrested earlier stating that they would come to him. He had even predicted his arrest beforehand.
Majid Enayat, had also been arrested and interrogated in 2009 when was returning from Turkey. However, he was released the same day after signing a disclaimer.
For now, no information is available concerning his whereabouts and health condition, though unconfirmed reports indicate that he is being held in Alef-Ta ward (a special prison ward for religious and security prisoners) of Dastgerd prison in Esfahan.
The method used as well as the time of these arrests shows that this series of arrests had been pre-organized and conducted through prior identifications. Prior to this, security authorities had arrested numerous Christian citizens individually or in groups in Ahwaz, Shiraz, Tehran and Esfahan. As a result the number of detainees is growing day by day.

Top 3 editors hauled up

Muslims outraged over picture of American singer's tattoo in daily

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Home Ministry has called up the chief news editor, managing editor and senior editor of the English daily, The Star, to explain the use of a picture of American singer Erykah Badu bearing tattoos of the Arabic word for Allah.

Deputy Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong said the ministry would be issuing a show-cause letter to demand a written explanation from the publication within a week.

"Further action will be taken based on the explanation given," he said in a statement yesterday.

Muslim groups yesterday called for action to be taken against the paper while Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim said tattoos of Islamic religious scripture were considered an insult to Muslims.

"While Americans and non-Muslims view tattoos as an art form, the name of Allah should never be used that way," she said yesterday.

The offending picture, published in the Star2 entertainment section of the paper yesterday, accompanied a lengthy profile of the American star ahead of her performance here tomorrow.

Mashitah said as a singer performing in a Muslim country, Badu should have been aware of the religious sensitivities involved.

"Our religion does not even permit the name of Allah to be brought into the bathroom, let alone be used as a tattoo."

In Bangi, former Pas deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa questioned why that particular image of Badu was chosen out of thousands of photographs taken of the popular R&B star.

"As I understand, the tattoos are not permanent and there are many other pictures of her without them."

Nasharudin said the incident seemed to be a deliberate attempt to stir up religious conflict, given the clarity of the image used.

"The offensive nature of the tattoos is undisputable. Not only is the term Allah clearly visible, it is surrounded by Hebrew symbols, as well as a symbol usually associated with Sikhism.

"The picture seems to be espousing the concept of 'religious pluralism', which is not something that we as Muslims here can accept."

Nasharudin said it was not the first time that The Star had offended Muslims, referring to a similar incident last year when the paper published Ramadan articles with advertisements for non-halal restaurants.

"I hope the Home Ministry takes a strong stance against the paper and its editors. A public apology alone is not enough," he said, adding that Pas Youth, as well as several Muslim organisations, were planning to stage a protest at the paper's offices if insufficient action was taken against the publication.

Muslim Consumers Association chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said the paper should have been aware of the sensitive nature of the image and censored it accordingly.

"The country's peace depends on strong understanding and respect between the different communities and religions.

"But when such incidents occur, it gives the impression that insulting Islam is acceptable behaviour." Additional reporting by Liyana Jamaludin

Read more: Top 3 editors hauled up - General - New Straits Times

Fuziah: Najib may have made sub-judice comments

PAS MP says party ready for non-Muslim leaders

SHAH ALAM, Feb 28 — PAS research chief Dzulkefly Ahmad said today the Islamic party is ready to accept non-Muslims in positions as high as deputy president.

The Kuala Selangor MP said the party was ready to emulate Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which appointed Coptic Christian intellectual Rafiq Habib as its vice president last year.

“The fundamental principle is that there are some things in Islam which are mandatory and some that are not. This is not,” Dzulkefly told reporters after speaking at a forum titled “Why are Malay votes split?”

The PAS central committee member had cited the Arab Spring, the wave of popular revolutions that began a year ago and toppled dictators in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

The moderator Maszlee Malik then asked if PAS was ready to follow in the footsteps of the FJP, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, who appointed Habib after Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign as Egyptian president.

“Yes, we are ready. PAS is inclusive as seen with our Negara Berkebajikan and PAS for all concepts. We aim to be an active player in new politics,” Dzulkefly responded.

The International Islamic University lecturer posed the question again during a press conference later, asking if PAS would accept a non-Muslim deputy president.

Dzulkefly replied that the matter can be discussed if it is proposed.

“This is only an administrative matter. We cannot say it will never happen because Islam can address change for intellectual renewal. Islam can withstand the challenge of time,” he said.

Tensions between Muslims and Christians have resulted in Islamic NGOs going on a national roadshow under the banner of Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Gathering of a Million Faithful) to rally Muslims against “the challenge of Christianisation.”

Allegations that Christians are trying to convert Muslims peaked last August when the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya.

This came after repeated disputes between church and mosque, such as the legal battle over the the use of the word Allah to refer to the Christian god.

An initial court ruling allowing the Catholic Church to use the term Allah had led to places of worship being firebombed in January 2010.

The government also buckled under pressure and ordered the release of Malay-language bibles seized before Sarawakians, half of whom are Christians, voted in the April 16, 2011 state polls.

Before the Jais raid, Umno’s Utusan Malaysia and Malay rights lobby Perkasa accused the DAP of conspiring to turn Malaysia into a Christian state.

Although DUMC has denied Jais’ claims, Utusan Malaysia fanned the flames with allegations that Christian groups in Kuala Lumpur and Johor were actively trying to convert Muslims.

Kampung Railway folk seek heritage status

They want City Hall to prevent YTL Corporation from expelling them.

KUALA LUMPUR: Residents of Sentul’s Kampung Railway are seeking heritage status for their village and asking Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to instruct the company claiming ownership of the land to stop trying to chase them out.

The company, YTL Corporation, recently obtained a court order to enable it to evacuate the village.

The residents failed today to submit to the mayor a memorandum containing the two demands. They said officials gave them the runaround with excuses that neither the mayor nor any relevant deputy was in his office.

They were accompanied to City Hall by Tan Jo Hann, the president of Permas, an organisation dedicated to championing the rights of the urban poor.

Tan accused YTL of “bullying the poor while negotiations are still ongoing”. He said the negotiations involved City Hall, YTL and the villagers.

According to him, Kampung Railway qualifies as a heritage village because the first settlers set up house there when Malaya was still a British colony. It is now home to 51 households. It also hosts a registered Hindu temple that is 80 years old.

“The city is the squatter,” he said. “It encroached on the land in the 1990s.”

In 1993, Taiping Consolidated, through its subsidiary Sentolia Park Co Ltd, signed an agreement with Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd to develop the land.

Subsequently, when YTL had bought over Taiping Consolidated, it laid claim on Kampung Railway through its subsidiary, Sentul Raya Sdn Bhd.

Earmarked for playground

Last December, Deputy Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister M Saravanan promised low-cost houses for all the residents.

“However, we found out that the land where the houses were supposed to be built was earmarked for a playground,” said Tan.

The residents staged a protest against YTL in the same month.

One of the residents, A Pushapleela, told FMT today that she resented being called a squatter.

“We’re settlers,” she said. “We pay quit rent.” She claimed to be a third-generation settler.

Another resident, Jaison Alex, said the villagers submitted a memorandum to City Hall four months ago but had not received a response.

He also said the memorandum was sent thrice to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, “but to no avail”.

A fortnight ago, he added, he tried to raise the issue with Najib during the latter’s visit to Kerinchi but was blocked by his aides.

Millions spent on Tamil schools? Really, Najib?

Hindraf Makkal Sakthi disputes the prime minister's claim that the government had spent RM340 million on Tamil schools over the past three years

PETALING JAYA: The government must account for the millions it claims to have allocated for Tamil schools as most of them are still in a dilapitated state, Hindraf Makkal Sakthi said.

It’s pro-tem secretary-general, P Uthayakumar, in a letter to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, said he would drag the government to court should the premier fail to account for his statement.

The NST quoted Najib in a report yesterday, saying that over the past three years, the government had spent RM340 million on Tamil schools nationwide.

Najib was reported to have said this at a Ponggal celebration at Kelab Kilat TNB, Kapar, on Sunday.
Citing examples, Uthayakumar said even the fully-aided Jalan Tajol Tamil School in Kota Tinggi has no canteen, a school field or a proper working toilet despite the “generous grant”.

“The St Helier Tamil School in Bahau was certified unsafe by the Works Ministry but nothing has been done till now to rectify it,” Uthayakumar said, adding that it even lacks classrooms.

He urged Najib to stop his political charades and shenanigans and address the problems faced by Tamil schools immediately.

“The prime minister must address the shameful state of Tamil schools in the country which are even denied basic amenities and facilities.

“Remember that Article 12 of the Federal Constitution provides that there shall be no discrimination in providing education out of the funds of a public authority,” he said.

Hindraf filed a civil suit against the government on Feb 9, among others, wanting it to convert all Tamil schools in Malaysia into fully-aided ones.

50,000 Indian entrepreneurs in 15 years

The MIC aims to develop these entrepreneurs under the Indian economics blueprint.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC hopes to develop 50,000 Indian entrepreneurs in 15 years’ time under the Malaysian Indian Economics Blueprint to enable the Indians to be part of the national economic development agenda, MIC president G Palanivel said today.

“The Indians were left behind in many sectors especially economic development but we must stop blaming others.

“The Indian community today is coming back to support Barisan Nasional as the MIC is able to bring support throughout the economic transformation programmes,” he told reporters after the launching of the Malaysian India Economics Conference (MIEC) here today.

Palanivel, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said that the creation of 50,000 Indian entrepreneurs would in return provide 200,000 jobs for Malaysians.

He said for a start, the MIC in a joint effort with the Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) would organise conferences and Outreach Service Progammes in several states in the next few months.

“We believe the outcome of these conferences would be phenomenal. It’s a move to empower the community and to ensure that Malaysian Indians will be part of the national economic development agenda,” he said.

Eight forums would initially be organised nationwide to gather information and data regarding the Indian entreprenuers’ situation, he said.

“All inputs will be included in a blueprint which later will be presented to the government through Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the document itself is intended to be a working plan and will help the Barisan Nasional goverment identify specific action items,” he said.


Harris: M’sians splintering along racial lines

The former Sabah chief minister believes that the country is moving backward on multiracial unity.

TAWAU: Former Sabah chief minister Harris Mohd Salleh is alarmed that the country is splintering along communal lines and suggested the need to go back to its original idea and policies to unite its people once and for all.

Malaysia, he said, seemed to be moving backward on multiracial unity.

“When Malaysia was formed in 1963, the people of various races were united to build a country they inherited from the British.

“Everybody was friendly and there were also no talk on racial claims on this and that and this condition prevailed for many, many years.”

“Today every day we hear and read demands for racial equality. This shows that Malaysia is not united.

“This has also prompted Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak) to coin new slogans like 1Malaysia, 1Malaysia Clinic, 1Malaysia Kedai Rakyat and so on,” he told a private gathering here yesterday.

“All these creations conclusively prove that Malaysians are growing apart every day,” he said, adding that in order to combat racial feelings and division, Malaysia must go back to its original platform.

He said the country must apply all its laws and policies sincerely and honestly.

Racial composition in the administration, in the police, in the military and, most importantly, in the economic field must be fair and just, Harris said.

He added that there is clear imbalance in the makeup of the government which is controlled by a single race while the economy is driven by another race.

“At present, everybody is still laughing, but in the next 30 to 50 years when the population reach 50 million, it is a different story,” he said.

“By then everything might not be right and be out of control. History will repeat itself as in many countries, especially Africa,” he said during the get-together for the Lions Group held at

History, he said, in whatever form is the foundation for future generations to move forward but added that Malaysians seem to ignore history because of changing circumstances.

“How many leaders and ordinary people follow history beginning in 1963? If they acknowledged the past, they might not raise issues which had been settled from time to time,” he added.

“We must be Malaysian”

Aishah Sinclair (all pics below courtesy of Aishah Sinclair)
Aishah Sinclair (all pics below courtesy of Aishah Sinclair)
AISHAH Jennifer Mohamed Sinclair has a name that encapsulates both her British and Malay heritage. She grew up in England for the first six years of her life before her family moved to Malaysia for good and where she is happy to be and to raise her daughter, Soraya Ann.
In this candid interview about being Malaysian, Aishah, who currently co-hosts ntv7’s The Breakfast Show, talks about where her family is from and what being Malaysian means to her.
“I am extremely proud to be Malaysian. I wouldn’t want my child to grow up anywhere else,” the actress and TV host says in an interview in her Kuala Lumpur home on 23 Nov 2011.
Apart from ntv7, Aishah has also hosted several shows for TV3, 8TV and RTM, and acted in the movies Gol & Gincu and Bujang Senang, the Realiti drama series, and the telemovie Hilang.
Aishah, along with her brother Ashraf, and award-winning actor Sazzy Falak founded entertainment-based company SinclairFalak Sdn Bhd which is responsible for the Acting Saved My Life! Success Series Workshop.
What future is she looking forward to in Malaysia? Professionally, she is venturing into drama and film production. And as a Malaysian, she would like to see meritocracy where all citizens have equal opportunities.
TNG: You were born on 27 Oct 1980. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
One-year-old Aishah in Croydon, London
One-year-old Aishah in Croydon, London
Aishah Sinclair: I was born in Wimbledon in London. After that, I grew up in Croydon where we stayed for a couple of years. My father was a pharmacist so we went wherever his work took him. First it was Croydon, London. Then my dad went to work in King Khalid University in Riyadh (in Saudi Arabia). So we all moved there for two years. That’s where my younger brother, Adam, was born. Ashraf, my older brother, and I were both born in London.
Then we balik kampung.
Balik kampung here?
No, in England. Kampung in England was in St Anne’s-on-the-Sea. That’s where my grandmother lived and that’s where my father grew up. And we stayed with grandma in a house that was just down the road from the seaside.
And then after that, we moved to Cambridge where we stayed for about a year or so and then we moved back to Malaysia in 1986. I was six years old.
A five-year-old Aishah helping with the dishes in her grandfather’s house in Ipoh
A five-year-old Aishah helping with the dishes in her grandfather’s house in Ipoh
So what memories do you have of growing up in Malaysia?
It was fun but school was tough. We moved in late 1986 and I remember not long after that, going into Standard 1. And my grasp of Malay was really, really bad. I think it was more of a mental block than anything. Standard 1, Standard 2 even, I had a hard time because I couldn’t grasp the language and I had a really horrible teacher.
Because of the language barrier, it was a lot harder to make friends. I could speak Malay but I would suddenly not be able to read it. It was dyslexia in Malay [laughs].
[Laughs] Well, and you’ve gotten over that…
Ya, well, to a certain extent [laughs].
So, what’s the strongest memory you have of the place you grew up whether in England or in Malaysia?
With her brothers, Ashraf and Adam, on the vessel STS Leeuwin II in Freemantle, Australia in 2001
With her brothers, Ashraf and Adam, on the vessel STS Leeuwin II in Freemantle, Australia in 2001
It was just playing with my siblings. I have memories of this everywhere we went. In Cambridge, we had a house with a huge garden and we would run all the way to the end and there were always dead crows somewhere and we would bury them. And we would chase hedgehogs. There was a garden and then beyond that there was a vegetable patch and then there was a back gate to a small lane. And once in a while we got to go there.
In St Anne’s, because we lived down from the sea, I remember one very wet day, we were wearing boots and our raincoats – it was just Ashraf, my dad and I – and we walked to the sea and there was this little fish that was beached. It was “Oh, no, we must save it! What do we do?” So what my dad did was he picked it up and he threw it back into the sea [laughs] and we went, “Oh, we saved that fish!”
And in Riyadh, during the winter my parents would pack the whole family up and go in their Land Rover and drive up to the sand dunes and we’d spend the whole day just picnicking and sliding down the dunes.
Most of my memories of childhood are of the outdoors. Even when I was 11 or 12 and we were living in Bangsar, I remember my friends and I just crawling around the drains in Bangsar [chuckles]. It was, “Hey, this drain, if you cross it, it leads to there.” So, this drain would end up in a main road and then suddenly we would come up and “Oh my god! We’re here!” It would be a shortcut!
So your dad is English. Mohamed AJ Sinclair.
Yes, he was born Anthony John Sinclair. When he embraced Islam a year before he married my mum, he was in England. And so when he embraced Islam, he was asked “What’s your Muslim name going to be?” And he was, “Oh, I didn’t think of one.” “Oh, ok, what’s your future wife’s name?” “Khadijah (Abdul Rahman).” And Khadijah was the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife. So, they were like, “Oh, then you must be Muhammad!” So, that’s how he got his name. So they just put “Muhammad” in front of Anthony John.
Aishah’s parents got married in a friend’s house in London in 1976
Aishah’s parents got married in a friend’s house in London in 1976
And so his conversion happened in England?
Yes. So he’s no “bin Abdullah”. So, he didn’t lose his identity.
Ya, I think it’s so sad, right, when they do that here [because then a person’s identity is replaced with another]. My aunties and uncles in England still call my dad Anthony. I think it’s important because whenever you embrace Islam, I believe the relationship is between you and God. A lot of cultures all around the world keep their names [even after conversion to Islam] and what’s wrong in keeping it?
Can you trace the ancestry of both your parents?
Sinclair can be traced to a baron in Ireland. But there was a family conflict and the baron had to run away to Scotland.
With her paternal grandmother in England
With her paternal grandmother in England
My paternal grandmother was a Hodgson and she was English from Leeds. My paternal grandfather was a bank manager in Yorkshire and he was a pretty famous golfer. And my grandmother’s father was also a golfer. So, he knew my grandfather and said, “Oh, you would be a nice match for my daughter.”
They lived in Leeds and Hull and my father was born in Yorkshire. So a combination of Irish, Scottish and English. Sinclaire has a kilt. The emblem is Cock of the North.
On my mother’s side, my grandfather’s ancestors came from Jawa. Those days the Javanese who travelled were the Javanese with money. They were traders. They landed in Tambun. They became wealthy tin miners with huge mines. But they didn’t know how to take care of their wealth. They lost all that wealth from the mines and so my grandfather and all settled in Tambun and Ipoh.
My maternal grandmother’s origins are Arab. From Saudi Arabia. They landed in Teluk Intan which was Teluk Anson those days. We’ve been able to trace back distant family members in Mecca. Anyway, my grandparents got married and settled in Ipoh.
Both my maternal grandparents were born in Malaysia. My grandmother was born in Ipoh. They knew how old she was because when she was born, they planted a coconut tree.
Aishah’s maternal grandmother whom she never got a chance to meet
Aishah’s maternal grandmother whom she never got a chance to meet
Are there any stories or experiences from your family that you hold onto that make you feel, “Oh, ok this is what it means to be Malaysian”?
I went to primary and secondary school here. And for my tertiary education, I was at UiTM, Shah Alam [where she got her Bachelors in Mass Communication]. So I was always part of the gang. And I never thought myself different. But I remember this happened several times in high school where I would be with my friends and as girls, we’d go to the toilet together. I would wear the baju kurung every single day because that’s just the way my father liked it. Funny kan? My mat salleh father says no to the pinafore. So, I’d go to the toilet with all my girlfriends and you know, you check in the mirror to see how you look, and suddenly I get a shock at how white I am. Like, “Whoa! Who is that? Gosh, it’s just me!” [Laughs] I swear! So, I forget that if you look at me, I may seem different but I never felt different. I always felt like part of the gang.
I’ve spent my whole life here pretty much. England is just a memory from the past and to know that I do have roots there. And if I do want to go live there, I have right of abode and I used to have a British passport. But that’s the only thing that sort of links me to England. I’ve always been, and I always will be, Malaysian.
With her Form 5 classmates from SM Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar. Aishah is second from right.
With her Form 5 classmates from SM Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar. Aishah is second from right.
How did your parents meet?
Mum went to England to do nursing. And daddy was a pharmacist at the hospital where my mum landed off the boat.
Aishah and her husband, Shaikh Abdul Shahnaz, with six-month-old Soraya in Penang on her first holiday
Aishah and her husband, Shaikh Abdul Shahnaz, with six-month-old Soraya in Penang on her first holiday
What kind of stories will you pass down to your daughter Soraya Ann and any other children you may have about being Malaysian?

Well, the first thing I will teach her when she starts speaking is, because we have this thing in Malaysia where we ask, “What are you?” “I’m Chinese” or “I’m Indian”. And if you ask anyone from overseas who asks that question and if I reply, “I’m Chinese”, their response would be “Oh, you’re from China.” “No, no, no I’m from Malaysia.” “That means you’re Malaysian.” “Oh, yes.”
So, the first thing I’m going to teach her is that she’s Malaysian. Soraya has so many different ethnic backgrounds in her — my husband’s side is Chinese and Indian. And people might say whatever about her later, she is still Malaysian, and nobody can change that.
What box for race do you tick when you’re asked to fill in forms?
Hari Raya Aidilfitri with her parents and brothers at Aishah’s maternal grandfather’s house in Ipoh
Hari Raya Aidilfitri with her parents and brothers at Aishah’s maternal grandfather’s house in Ipoh
I tick “Others” and next to “Others”, I write “Malaysian”. I make my own box [laughs]. In school though, for the longest time, I would tick “Others”. Because I’m not fully Malay [since] my father is English. I’m not Chinese, I’m not Indian. So I thought maybe I fell under “Others”. And then I remember somebody asked me, “Aishah, why you tick ‘Others’, ah?” “Because I’m half Malay only. I’m not Chinese, I’m not Indian so I must be under ‘Others’.” Some people told me I was Eurasian. I’m mixed. Anglo-Malay. I was like, how do I describe this? It always became, “Ah, whateverlah”.
And then I went to UiTM, and that was for bumiputeras, so I thought “Hey, I guess I must be Malay then”. But now, I’m Malaysian. I strongly think that for this country to move forward, we must be Malaysian. If you fill in application forms for university overseas, they would sometimes ask you what your ethnic background is but your ethnicity would have nothing to do with whether you’re accepted or not. Here, we have a quota.
In order for us to really get over this whole segregation of “What are we?” then really, just get rid of the boxes. You know, what are you? Are you Malaysian? Are you non-Malaysian? Which passport do you hold? Is your IC red or blue? I think we just need to focus on that and get rid of the rest. Because eventually, in Soraya’s generation, you’ll probably not be able to find a “pure” Malay or Indian because everybody is bound to be a mix of something.
So, I will tell Soraya, you are whatever you want to be. You are Malaysian. Be extremely proud of that.
A 16-year-old Aishah sailing in Australia
A 16-year-old Aishah sailing in Australia
When I was 16 I became Malaysian. Before that we were British and we had PR status in Malaysia. Later on when I was in university, I questioned my parents, “Why, why couldn’t I just be PR? If I were still British, I could go back to England and study and pay so much less.” At that time, I always asked “Why? Why? Why?” But if you ask me now, I don’t want to be anything else. I don’t want to be British. I don’t want to go back to England. I want to be in Asia because this is where it’s all happening.
Every country has its problems. But I am extremely proud to be Malaysian. I wouldn’t want my child to grow up anywhere else. Yes, I do wish some things like the education system were revised and could be a lot better. I may work in other countries, my kids may go to school overseas but I wouldn’t want to call anywhere else home. Malaysia will be home.
Are there any aspects of your identity that you struggle with as a Malaysian?
Maybe when I was growing up, yes. But today, because Malaysia is just so diverse, I don’t feel any struggle with my identity.
You work in the media and entertainment industry. Do you find that people struggle with your identity?
Aishah’s parents, Khadijah Abdul Rahman and Mohamed AJ Sinclair, early in their marriage in the UK
Aishah’s parents, Khadijah Abdul Rahman and Mohamed AJ Sinclair, early in their marriage in the UK
There was this whole Pan-Asian thing. There was a time when people were saying things about that and I found it weird. I pay taxes in Malaysia. And I have a right to be here.
One of the first criticisms I received as a TV host had nothing to do with the way I hosted. It was an anonymous online comment about the show I was hosting with 8TV and this person said, “Just what we need — another half-breed freak hosting another TV show.” I thought, “How dare you say that?” I can’t change who I am. I can improve my skills as a host, fine. But this was a direct attack at who I was. I thought, “What makes you more Malaysian than me?”
And there was a time also when our ministry said we had too many Pan-Asian faces in the market and we needed to focus more on the more local-looking people. I felt, “Ok, look. Don’t make it about the Pan-Asians who happen to be Malaysian. If you want to make it about something, make it about hiring Malaysians instead of non-Malaysians.”
Sometimes people ask me — they don’t ask me so much now, this was about a year or two back —  “Do you think there are too many Pan Asians? What advantage do you think you have as a Pan-Asian?” Nothing! If you don’t have the skills, you can’t make it. Fine, it may open up a few doors but suddenly people assume, “Eh, this person no talent lah.”
I mean, look at those who made it big. They are just really talented. I think that’s the way it should be. Based on merit and on how well you can do something.
Describe the kind of Malaysia you would like for yourself and future generations.
Shaikh Abdul Shahnaz and Aishah Sinclair on their wedding day on 7 Jan 2006
Shaikh Abdul Shahnaz and Aishah Sinclair on their wedding day on 7 Jan 2006
Where everybody will get equal opportunity. Where it won’t matter where or when your parents arrived, [or who they are]. Or what generation you are. Or what your ethnicity is.
I did have a friend who said, “Ya, Aishah, even though you are mixed but you are Malay and you’re bumiputera. You don’t know how hard it is for me.” And he was Chinese [Malaysian]. And yes, there are stories of people who don’t get into public university even though they got 8As.
That’s why I want it to be based on merit. People who get what they get really deserve it because they are the best at what they do. So, for example, you got that business tender because your company had an amazing proposal.
And I think it will happen one day in Malaysia.

When Najib promises MACC more powers if BN wins 13GE with two-thirds majority, is it to carry out a more effective fight against corruption or to victimise PR leaders/activists like case of Teoh Beng Hock?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, made a most extraordinary election pledge yesterday when he promised more powers to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) if Barisan Nasional wins the next elections with two-thirds control of Parliament.

The question that immediately comes to mind is whether this pledge of more powers to MACC is to carry out a more effective fight against corruption or is it to enable the MACC to victimise Pakatan Rakyat leaders and activists as in the still unresolved case of the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock at the MACC headquarters in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009?

Such a pledge is extraordinary because any meaningful or serious proposal to give MACC more powers to carry out a more effective fight against corruption should not be contingent on a win by any party or coalition in the next general elections, let alone getting a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

On the specific proposal by the MACC advisory panel that an anti-corruption service commission be formed and be given powers to appoint and terminate MACC officers, which requires a constitutional amendment with two-thirds parliamentary vote, Pakatan Rakyat is prepared to support such a constitutional amendment in the meeting of Parliament next month if convinced that it is a step towards making the MACC more efficient, independent and professional.

The existence of separate commissions, for instance for the judicial and police services, have not been able to guarantee public confidence in the efficiency, independence, integrity and professionalism of the judicial and police services – evident from the establishment of the Dzaiddin Police Royal Commission in 2004 whose 125 recommendations to ensure Malaysia has an efficient, incorrupt and professional world-class police service have still to be fully implemented after seven years and the continuing

controversy over the series of judicial crisis of confidence starting with the 1988 sacking of the then Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges in the dark days of Mahathir premiership.
If Najib is serious about anti-corruption, he should have addressed the issue why Malaysia under his premiership is perceived, both nationally and internationally, as even more corrupt than under the previous five Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah.

Najib has yet to comment on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2011 released last December which showed that Malaysia has fallen to the lowest TI CPI ranking of No. 60 with the lowest CPI score of 4.3.

Based on the latest TI CPI 2011 ranking and score and available data going back to 1995, Malaysia under Najib is even more corrupt than under the two previous Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah.
Comparing Najib’s administration with those of the two previous Prime Ministers, Malaysia’s worst and best TI CPI ranking and score for each administration are:

Best ranking Best score Worst ranking Worst score
Tun Mahathir 23(1995) 5.32 (1996) 37 (2003) 4.8 (2000)
Tun Abdullah 39(2004) 5.1 (2005/7/8) 47 (2008) 5.0 (2004/6)
DS Najib 56 (2009/10) 4.5 (2009) 60 (2011) 4.3 (2011)        

What should concern Najib and all Malaysians is that from recent trends, Malaysia runs the risk of being overtaken by both Indonesia and China before 2020 in the annual TI CPI both in ranking and score unless Malaysia quickly bucks up and shows its seriousness on the anti-corruption front.

In the first TI CPI in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries with a CPI score of 5.28.
Seventeen years later, after numerous anti-corruption campaigns, two major anti-corruption legislation, the “elevation” of the former Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) into Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the National Integrity Plan, the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme with massive infusion of public funds and increase of staffing, Malaysia has now fallen to the lowest TI CPI ranking in 17 years, viz: No. 60 with the lowest CPI score of 4.3.

In comparison, Indonesia was ranked at the very bottom of No. 41 in 1995 with CPI score of 1.94 while China was ranked No. 40 with a CPI score of 2.16 in 1995. Now Indonesia is ranked No. 100 with a CPI score of 3.0 in 2011 while China is ranked No. 75 with a score of 3.6.

At the annual average rate of Indonesia and China’s improvement on TI CPI ranking and score in the past three years, compared with Malaysia’s regression in CPI score in the past three years, Malaysia will be left behind by both Indonesia and China well before 2020.

How are Malaysians going to hold their heads high when the world perceive Malaysia as being even more corrupt than Indonesia and China before the end of the decade?

Is this the fate awaiting Malaysia in the TI CPI ranking and score before 2020?

Two weeks ago, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono boasted at a special briefing of foreign envoys in Jakarta that his administration had conducted the “best” and “most aggressive” anti-corruption campaign in Indonesian history, imposing “decisive measures against corrupt state officials without exception”. As a result, “From ministers, governors, to regents and mayors, many have been tried for graft”.

Can Najib make the same boast as the Indonesian President of having conducted the “best” and “most aggressive” anti-corruption campaign in Malaysian history with “decisive measures without exception” against political and government leaders?

What has Najib got to show on the anti-corruption front in his three years as Prime Minister when only four politicians were nabbed by MACC in 2010? Can Najib disclose how many politicians were arrested by MACC in 2011?

Lynas Corp’s website still down

This is the message when you try to access Lynas Corporation’s website. Obviously they had problems securing their website.

The website was first brought down around the time of the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 gathering in Kuantan on Sunday.
The Sydney Morning Herald has a report on what looks like a hacking.
If Lynas can’t secure its website from hackers…