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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Forced Hindu conversions: Rinkle’s neighbourhood floods into Karachi to demand her release

Hindus, Sikhs and Christians came out to protest the alleged forced conversion and marriage of a Hindu teenager from Mirpur Mathelo on Sunday in Karachi. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: “Give us our Rinkle back. Give us the daughter of Sindh back,” demanded the relatives of the 17-year-old Hindu girl who was allegedly kidnapped, forced to convert and married to a Muslim boy last month.

Rinkle Kumari’s relatives came from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district and staged a protest outside the Karachi press club on Sunday. Christians and Sikhs came out in support.

The protesters wore black armbands and held aloft well-written handmade posters saying ‘Where should we go?’ and ‘Send Rinkle to a Karachi women’s shelter’. They kept up a chant demanding her ‘release’. One of her maternal uncles, Raj Kumar, said furiously, “Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Mian Abdul Haq and his men abducted our daughter at gunpoint. We want justice.”

The family claims that Rinkle was kidnapped from her home in Mirpur Mathelo by Haq’s men on the night of February 24. She was then taken to Bharchundi Sharif, where Naveed Shah, a supporter of the politician, forced her to convert to Islam and married her, albeit without her consent, they say.

On February 25, the family says, Rinkle refused to go back with the kidnappers while recording her statement in court. But, they say, the court ignored her statement and decided in favour of the other party when it announced its decision two days later.

“We were not allowed to attend the proceedings when the judgment was passed,” said Kumar. “The judge conducted the hearing an hour before the official court timings and he passed the judgment in only half an hour.”

Enraged youngsters from Rinkle’s hometown demanded justice and said that she should be presented before a court again or be sent to a darul aman till a court takes a decision. They said that the chief justice of Pakistan should take suo motu notice in this case.

Another relative, Ravi Kumar, said that videos were uploaded on YouTube in which Haq’s men were seen to be celebrating by firing in the air. He said that the forced conversion of Hindu girls was common in Sindh’s countryside, with around 20 cases being reported every month.

Another supporter, Daya Ram, said that initially the police was not even ready to register an FIR. It was only after a two-hour protest on the Super Highway that the police relented and registered a case.

While parliamentarians from the ruling party did not pay heed to the protest, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement parliamentarian, Munawar Lal, came to show his support to the family. He said that he would walk out of the Sindh Assembly if Rinkle is not returned to her family. “We are tired of picking the bodies of our children, and seeing our women being taken away by criminals,” he declared as people behind him shouted ‘Nai chalay gee, nai chalay gee, ghunda gardhi nai chalay gee.’ It won’t be tolerated, this won’t be tolerated, this hooliganism won’t be tolerated.

“Is this the same Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam and our people struggled for?” he asked.

Ramesh Kumar, the father of a 28-year-old doctor, Lata Kumari, who was kidnapped last week from DHA’s Phase II, was at the protest. Lata was on her way to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan.

The patron of Pakistan Hindu Council, Ramesh Kumar stressed that Hindus were peace-loving people. “But sadly these conversions, kidnappings and extortions every day make our lives miserable.”

Sardar Ramesh Singh pitched in by saying that no religion allowed their followers to convert others by force. “Even Islam does not allow it. Then, how can its followers indulge in such wrongdoing?”

Published in The Express Tribune

Felda settlers explain fear of FGVH listing

Najib says would debate with ‘responsible’ leaders

Najib has yet to accept repeated attempts to get him to debate Anwar. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak expressed today his readiness to participate in a debate but stressed his opponent must be “reasonable” and not prone to raising “conspiracy theories” to win an argument.

The prime minister reminded that the country’s diversity could easily be turned into a “fatal weakness” if political leaders choose provocation over responsibility and fail to restrain themselves during such debates.

“And it worries me that far too many who say they want to lead Malaysia are unable to restrain themselves when they are engaged in debate,” he said in his blog today, without naming any individual.

“For them, no story, no claim or outrageous theory, no matter how baseless or fact-free, is off-limits, even if it does massive damage to the country’s reputation abroad and our domestic stability.”

Najib added that “some in our country” could not resist the allure of raising conspiracy theories as such conjecture could absolve their promoters of responsibility for their own failures.

“Cannot win the argument or get your way? Then it is so much easier to complain that the system is fixed than it is to do the hard work of finding a better argument or humbly admitting one’s error,” he sniped, adding that conspiracy theories belong in “Jason Bourne movies” and not in rational political debates.

The federal opposition has repeatedly urged the prime minister to take on its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in debate, arguing it would be the best platform for both men to lay out their ideas and policies to help Malaysians decide who to vote for.

The invitation was again raised recently when MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng faced off in a political debate on matters relating to the Chinese community.

Najib, however, is yet to accept the invitation. This has sparked off suggestions that the prime minister was afraid of criticism.

But he insisted today that he accepts dissenting views expressed against him, adding that he would be in the wrong career were he unable to handle them.

“That much I accept. I am happy to argue politics with any reasonable man or woman and appreciate Malaysian’s lively political debate,” Najib said.

According to a recent poll by Merdeka Center, most voters in the peninsula want to see regular debates between the prime minister and political rival Anwar, suggesting that this would help them decide which party to vote for.

Malaysia detains Australian over drugs

The Perth native was arrested on March 1in possession of 225 grams of methamphetamine.

KUALA LUMPUR: An Australian truck driver faces a possible death sentence after he was arrested in Malaysia on suspicion of drug trafficking, Malaysia’s top narcotics official said Monday.

The 32-year-old from Perth in Western Australia was arrested March 1 in the capital Kuala Lumpur in possession of 225 grams of methamphetamine, national police narcotics director Noor Rashid Ibrahim told AFP.

Malaysian officials have identified the man as Dominic Jude Christopher Bird. Australian diplomats said they were seeking access to the suspect in order to offer consular assistance.

Noor Rashid said the Australian was arrested along with another accomplice and that three more people were subsequently detained. He declined to provide the nationalities of the other detainees.

“We believe that the Australian national is involved in some sort of syndicate but investigations are ongoing so we cannot be more specific at the moment,” he added.

Noor Rashid said that while the Australian suspect had not yet been charged, “he is currently being investigated under the Dangerous Drugs Act and upon conviction could face the death penalty.”

Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death penalty by hanging under Malaysia’s tough anti-drug laws. Anyone found in Malaysia to be in possession of at least 50 grams of methamphetamines is considered a trafficker.


Two Indian tourists killed in Genting tour bus crash

Twenty others were injured when the bus on its way back from Genting Highlands overturned after hitting a road divider.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two Indian tourists were killed while 20 others were injured when a tour bus carrying 22 Indian tourists overturned at Km4.5 of the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway near here today.

Police said the bus was on its way back from Genting Highlands resort when it went out of control and skidded while negotiating a sharp downhill bend at about 8am.
“It hit the road divider and overturned,” Bentong police spokesman told Bernama.

The victims – a man and a woman – died on the spot, he said. Police are establishing their identity.

The injured as well as the two bodies have been brought to Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
Police have detained the bus driver and attendant.

A Bentong Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said they managed to bring out all the injured victims from the bus at about 9.20am.

Some 50 personnel from the Bentong, Selayang, Kuala Kubu Baharu, Genting Highlands and Wangsa Maju fire stations were involved in the operation.

Fearing killers, ‘runaway’ lawyer goes on YouTube

A lawyer, who fled the country following accusations of embezzling his own company's funds, says that he has received death threats from those linked to the Johor royalty.

PETALING JAYA: Fearing that he would be assassinated on orders from an “influential person” linked to the royal Johor family, a “runaway” lawyer has made a video recording pleading with the government and police to help him.

Kamal Hisham Ja’afar, 42, a former legal counsel to the Johor royalty who has sought refuge in Dubai, also denied accusations of criminal breach of trust (CBT) for which he is wanted by police and Interpol.

In the YouTube video which was posted on Saturday, Kamal said that he recently received information that hired killers had been engaged to hunt him down and murder him.

“The assassin has already left Malaysia to hunt for me. With all the evidence that I have, I believe this information is true. I am worried, scared, pressured, because it involves my life and my family’s life,” he said.

“On Sept 5, 2011, I was given proof that a close acquaintance of a kerabat (royalty) had said that he would shoot me to death if I returned to Malaysia or if he saw me anywhere,” Kamal said.

He added that the threat was recorded and the evidence is in his safekeeping. “I believe this threat is a real and serious matter.”

Kamal said that on Oct 11, 2011, one of his family members had received a telephone call from a man he knew.

“That man told my family members that the older brother of the person who had earlier gave me the death threat had vowed that he would kill me if he met with me.”

Clear evidence

Kamal said that he was receiving these threats “just because I had refused to follow the orders of some ‘pembesar yang berkuasa’ (an influential member of the royalty) regarding “the division of his family [the latter's] inheritance following the death of his father”.

He alleged that the “‘influential royalty” had used his powers to “vengefully” manufacture false criminal accusations against him to tarnish his credibility as a lawyer.

“Among these accusations was one where the ‘pembesar’ had asked some people in January to claim that I have committed criminial breach of trust of a company amounting to RM660,000,” he said.

He claimed that he has “clear evidence” to show that he was not guilty and that the “influential royalty” was the one who committed many malpractices in that company.

Kamal has been accused by Southern Ads Sdn Bhd – an advertising company linked to the Johor royalty and in which he is also a director – of fraud, cheating and CBT.

Six police reports have been lodged against him since March 31, last year. The last report accused him of embezzling RM660,000 from the company.

Kamal left the country for Dubai in April 2011, and is reportedly running a “consultancy firm” there.

Kamal said that he started the company with his own capital in 2003. The Johor royalty, he claimed, did not inject any funds.

“The company was registered in 2005, and I received business contracts in 2004. The ‘pembesar’ had used his influence to disturb my business at that time and I had no choice but to accept his request to give him shares to avoid my business from being continually pressured by him.”

‘Pack of lies’

Kamal said that he also felt “very pressured” after receiving an SMS from an investigating officer from the Johor commercial crime department, which stated that he needs to attend a session for his statement to be recorded on March 5 (today).

“If I fail to give a statement as a witness, he would ask for a warant of arrest.”

“What I should do now, I also don’t know. With the threats that I have received, I am very worried and afraid what would happen to me and my family

“I humbly plead with the Malaysian government, police and foreign ministry: Please help me. I want to come home to Malaysia to clear my name.

“As a Muslim, I believe that what I am going through is a test by Allah. I have been slandered in the course of my duties as a lawyer and when I refused to be an accomplice to something that is against my religion and laws.”

When contacted, criminal lawyer Baljit Singh Sidhu, who acts for Southern Ads, said that what Kamal was saying was all a “pack of lies” that serves as a “red herring” to the real issues at hand.

“He now wakes up on a Sunday morning and gives all sorts of excuses. It is designed by him to put off investigations against him… He is playing musical chairs. He is talking from la-la land and what he is saying is non-factual.”

“Any reasonable man would have immediately taken steps to protect himself if he received death threats, but it is only now – seven to eight months later – that this guy is speaking up about the threats,” said Baljit.

He said that Kamal’s new allegation against the Johor sultanate was a mere after-thought as he did not mention this when his lawyers gave a press conference on Jan 31 in Kuala Lumpur.

He added that Kamal had only mentioned that he refused to return because the Immigration Department did not have any record of him leaving for Dubai.

Baljit said the it would be better for Kamal to return to Malaysia and prove his claims rather than hurling accusations from abroad.

He added that his client – Southern Ads – would now possibly sue but declined to divulge details.

Mahathir's Disastrous Financial Speculation

photo credit:
A murky and embarrassing case is closed, hiding top government officials’ involvement

Sometime over the next few days, a court in Kuala Lumpur will put the finishing touches to an agreement that allows Tajudin Ramli, the former head of Malaysian Airline System, not only to walk away from charges that he had allegedly looted the airline of tens of millions of US dollars but with an RM580 million (US$293.2 million) out-of-court settlement from the government.

It appears to be a settlement that the government would rather keep to itself. At the heart of the agreement with Tajudin is a convoluted story that began as long ago as the 1980s when Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, at the urging of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, began speculating aggressively in global foreign exchange markets, at one time running up exposure rumored to be in the region of RM270 billion -- three times the country’s gross domestic product and more than five times its foreign reserves at the time.

Eventually, playing with the big boys came home to roost. In 1992 and 1993, Mahathir became convinced he could make billions of ringgit by taking advantage of a British recession, rising unemployment and a decision by the British government to float the pound sterling free of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

Mahathir ordered Bank Negara to buy vast amounts of pounds sterling on the theory that the British currency would appreciate once it floated. However, in what has been described as the greatest currency trade ever made, the financier and currency wizard George Soros’s Quantum hedge fund established short positions borrowing in pounds and investing in Deutschemark-denominated assets as well as using options and futures positions.

In all, Soros’s positions alone ac counted for a gargantuan US$10 billion. Many other investors, sensing Quantum was in for the kill, soon followed, putting strenuous downward pressure on the pound. The collapse was inevitable. Quantum walked away with US$1 billion in a single day, earning Mahathir’s eternal enmity and earning Soros the title “the man who broke the Bank of England.”

Mahathir and Bank Negara, on the other hand, walked away with a US$4 billion loss, followed by another US$2.2 billion loss in 1993, the total equivalent of RM15.5 billion. Although the disastrous trades destroyed the entire capital base of Bank Negara, after first denying it had taken place, the then-Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim repeatedly reassured parliament that the losses were only “paper losses” and, now that he is Opposition Leader and head of the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition, has managed to skate free of the controversy.

Eventually, the Finance Ministry had to recapitalize the central bank, almost unheard of for any government anywhere. It is reliably estimated that Bank Negara lost as much as US$30 billion in this and other disastrous currency trades, costing the head of the central bank and his currency trader deputy their jobs.

It was at one with Mahathir’s unfortunate penchant for believing he could beat the global financial system in other ways. In the early 1980s, at his behest the Malaysian government attempted to corner the tin market through Maminco Sdn Bhd, a dummy company set up to buy tin futures and physical tin to push up prices on the London Tin Market. Malaysia at that point was producing 31 percent of the world’s tin.

However, the rising prices as a result of Malaysia’s action caused miners to increase production in the other 69 percent of the tin world. At the same time the US government released its tin stockpile. The price collapsed, costing Malaysia RM1.6 billon with the subsequent low prices wrecking Malaysia’s tin industry. Mahathir has repeatedly railed against western governments for rigging the rules against him.

The attempt to corner the tin market and the subsequent loss established an interesting precedent in terms of what would take place with the speculation in the pound sterling. Rather than acknowledge the losses in the tin speculation, the government set up another dummy company called Makuwasa Sdn Bhd, creating new shares supposedly reserved for ethnic Malays which were allocated to the Employee Provident Fund, the country’s retirement fund for private and public workers. The plan was to sell these cheaply acquired shares at market price for a profit to cover Maminco’s losses. Finally, in 1986, Mahathir was forced to admit that Makuwasa was created to recoup the government’s losses from the Maminco debacle and to repay loans to Bank Bumiputra.

Fast forward to today and the out-of-court settlement between several government-linked companies and Tajudin Ramli, in which the government quietly cancelled Tajudin’s debt of RM840 million. It is believed to be the biggest such sum awarded in Malaysian history.

In 1994, according to affidavits that Tajudin filed in court he bought 32 percent of the shares of the government-controlled Malaysian Airline System at a price of RM8.00 at Mahathir’s behest – while the shares were trading at RM3.30 – and became executive chairman using funds from government-linked companies. According his allegations, the idea was to use the “profit” off the share sale to cover as much as possible of the forex losses by Bank Negara from Mahathir’s currency speculation.

When Tajudin took control of MAS in 1994 through his company, Naluri Bhd, MAS had a cash reserve in excess of RM600 million. Seven years later, in 2001, when the government bought back MAS for RM8 a share, the state-owned airline had accumulated losses in excess of RM8 billion. The government bought back an almost bankrupt airline for the same price that it sold to Tajudin.

In the welter of lawsuits and countersuits that eventually followed, including a RM13.46 billion statement of claim that Tajudini brought against a government-linked company involved in the mess, he alleged in his affidavit that it was Mahathir who had instructed him to acquire the stake to bail out Bank Negara.

Like Mahathir, the then 49-year-old Tajudin was a native of Alor Setar in Kedah state. He was regarded as a shining example of the bumi businessman that Mahathir wanted to foster to run the country and take the commanding heights of the economy back from the ethnic Chinese.

Unfortunately, according to a long list of whistle-blowers within the airline, he was also involved in looting it of tens of millions of dollars and very nearly putting it into bankruptcy before the government buyback. When officials not connected to the United Malays National Organization recommended prosecution, they came under fire that nearly ruined their careers and almost put them in jail.

According to allegations in documents made public in August of 2010, Tajudin colluded with three other MAS officers and directors through two nominee companies, one in Singapore and the other in Hong Kong, to establish a company called Advanced Cargo Logistics GmbH Germany, at Hahn Airport in Frankfurt, Germany, to provide ground-handling services for MAS.

According to a report filed in March 2007 to then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by Ramli Yusuff, the director of Malaysia's Commercial Crime Investigation Department and an official who seems to have been singularly incorruptible, "Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli was in control of MAS from 1994 to 2001. When he left MAS in 2001, MAS had accumulated losses in excess of RM8 billion (US$2.54 billion). Many projects were made under very suspicious circumstances."

Ramli Yusuff’s report indicated a wide range of abuses that indicated Tajudin’s family was deeply involved in setting up shell companies to siphon off money from MAS ancillary operations. But instead of preferring charges against Tajudin, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) went after the inspecting officer, Ramli Yusuff instead for allegedly not declaring his assets, for misusing a police airplane, and abusing his power as a police officer, all of which were convincingly refuted.

Ramli, however, wasn't the only one to go before the courts. His lawyer, Rosli Dahlan, who was also the lawyer for the airline itself, prepared Ramli's defense against the criminal charges only to be arrested on charges of collaborating with Ramli. At one point, on a pretext that Rosli had mishandled a letter from the MACC, police officers invaded Rosli's office, arrested and handcuffed him, then kept him in a cell overnight, refusing him medical treatment for injuries to his wrists from the handcuffs. They also refused his request to file a report against the arresting officers.

Rosli went to a court especially created to handle MACC cases, only to have the case fizzle out when a prosecutor announced that neither Rosli nor Ramli had been charged for corruption, having been summarily acquitted without having to put on a defense.

For his part, Rosli has charged that the MACC, Bank Negara, the government of Malaysia and the three major newspapers owned by the political parties had conspired with those in power to damage him for his attempts to defend Ramli.

And for his part, Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli remains uninvestigated and uncharged, and a continuing example of bumiputera power at the top of Malaysia's political and social structure, apparently RM580 million richer.

It also brings into question Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s March 30, 2010, statement that the government "can no longer tolerate practices that support the behavior of rent-seeking and patronage, which have long tarnished the altruistic aims of the New Economic Policy.  Inclusiveness, where all Malaysians contribute and benefit from economic growth - must be a fundamental element of any new economic approach."

Malaysian Among Seven Wounded In Tak Bai Bombing

By Jamaluddin Muhammad

BANGKOK, March 5 (Bernama) -- A Malaysian is among seven people wounded in the Tak Bai, Narathiwat, bomb attack Monday.

The Malaysian, identified as Fauzi Awang, 40, sustained minor arm injury and received outpatient treatment at the Tak Bai Hospital.

Tak Bai police chief Col Pol Nittinai Langyanai said a local man who was initially injured in the 10.30am attack at Pengkalan Perahu, Tak Bai, died at the hospital later.

The six others injured comprised four soldiers who were treated at the Narathiwat Ratchanakering Hospital and two local men who were treated at Tak Bai Hospital.

The police chief said the five kg homemade bomb was detonated by a walkie-talkie as the four soldiers were resting in the area.

More than 5,000 people have died since suspected separatists resumed their armed campaign to seek independence for the three southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala eight years ago.

Public uproar over cop who ‘kicked’ motorcyclist

In less than two days, more than 10,000 netizens have shared photographs of a police personnel who had allegedly kicked a motorcyclist at a roadblock, causing severe injuries to the 14-year-old.
The photographs showing the cop, wearing a fluorescent green reflective vest and sunglasses, have sparked a public outcry in cyberspace, inviting thousands of comments condemning the alleged violence.
The incident last Saturday in Taman Tangkak Jaya, Ledang, Johor, was reported in today’s Chinese dailies, with some placing the story on their front page.
NONEAccording to Kwong Wah Jit Poh, motorcyclist Lim Hup Hwang was riding without a helmet about 5.50pm when he arrived at the roadblock.
Attempting to stop Lim, the police personnel kicked the motorcycle, causing the teenager to fall and hit the road divider.
Lim was taken to the Tangkak Hospital and later transferred to a private hospital in Malacca due to the severe injuries on the head, right ear, neck, right leg and other parts of his body.
“This is the policeman! Just because my brother did not wear a helmet, he kicked the motorcycle. Why he did this to my 14-year-old brother when he can just issue a summon?” said Lim’s elder sister in a Facebook posting, to which the cop’s photograph was attached.
“My brother went into coma with blood clots in his neck, neck sprain, head and ear bleeding. He received stitches for the injuries all over his body!”
The posting was shared by 7,881 Facebook users, ‘liked’ by 9,994 and received 1,177 comments as at 1pm today.
Other photographs showing Lim lying in hospital wearing a cervical collar with bruises on his face also went viral on the social media website.
“This policeman argued that my brother intended to hit him with the motorcycle hence the kick. Fortunately, three good Samaritans are our eyewitnesses (to rebut the policeman). Thank you so much,” said the sister in the same posting, urging other users to share the photograph.
Yesterday, Lim’s father told Sin Chew Daily that his son was still under observation in the Intensive Care Unit and that the medical report would only be available today.
The daily quoted an eyewitness as claiming that Lim’s motorcycle was kicked because he did not immediately stop after being instructed by the police to do so.
The witness then saw a People’s Volunteer Corps member riding a motorcycle. He ran into Lim who was lying on the ground and left the scene hastily.
NONEThe witness claimed that the  police personnel had stood and watched the whole incident without offering any help to Lim.
A heated argument broke out when bystanders scolded the cop, who argued that Lim had tried to hit him, added the eyewitness.
Lim was sent to hospital in an ambulance which was called by some members of the public.
Lim’s father has lodged a police report and is preparing to take legal action against the police personnel concerned, with the help of a local MCA Youth leader.
Ledang OCPD Harun Idris has called on the public to stay calm but has refused to comment on the incident. He said the police will carry out an investigation soon.
In an immediate response, Johor DAP secretary Tan Chen Choon urged the police to probe whether the cop had breached the standard operating procedures in stopping the motorcyclist.
“We know that the people’s trust in the police is low. Hence, we again call on the government to establish an independent police complaints and misconduct commission to ensure such investigations are done more transparently,” he told Malaysiakinitoday.