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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moroccans demand change to Islamic penal code after girl, 16, kills herself because judge forced her to marry her RAPIST

Angry Moroccans are demanding a change to the country's strict Islamic penal code after a 16-year-old girl killed herself after being forced to marry her rapist.
An online petition, a Facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror over the suicide of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison on Saturday in protest at her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.
Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code allows for the 'kidnapper' of a minor to marry his victim to escape prosecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honour of the woman's family.
Sentenced: A judge in Tangier (pictured) ordered the rapist to marry his victim as 'punishment'
Sentenced: A judge in Tangier (pictured) ordered the rapist to marry his victim as 'punishment'
'Amina, 16, was triply violated, by her rapist, by tradition and by Article 475 of the Moroccan law,' tweeted activist Abadila Maaelaynine.
Abdelaziz Nouaydi, who runs the Adala Assocation for legal reform, said a judge can recommend marriage only in the case of agreement by the victim and both families.
'It is not something that happens a great deal - it is very rare,' he said, but admitted that the family of the victim sometimes agrees out of fear that she won't be able to find a husband if it is known she was raped.
The marriage is then pushed on the victim by the families to avoid scandal, said Fouzia Assouli, president of Democratic League for Women's Rights.
'It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon,' she said.'We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code which allows the rapist to escape justice.'
The victim's father said in an interview with an online Moroccan newspaper that it was the court officials who suggested from the beginning the marriage option when they reported the rape.
'The prosecutor advised my daughter to marry, he said 'go and make the marriage contract'," said Lahcen Filali in an interview that appeared on Tuesday night.
Rape victim: Gulnaz, who was pardoned by the Afghan president earlier this month, with her daughter in a Kabul jail. She was today released
Rape victim: Gulnaz, who was pardoned by the Afghan president earlier this month, with her daughter in a Kabul jail. She was today released
In many societies, the loss of a woman's virginity outside of wedlock is a huge stain of honour on the family.
In many parts of the Middle East, there is a tradition whereby a rapist can escape prosecution if he marries his victim, thereby restoring her honour. There is a similar injunction in the Old Testament's Book of Deuteronomy
Morocco updated its family code in 2004 in a landmark improvement of the situation of women, but activists say there's still room for improvement.
In cases of rape, the burden of proof is often on the victim and if she can't prove she was attacked, a woman risks being prosecuted for debauchery.
'In Morocco, the law protects public morality but not the individual,' said Assouli, adding that legislation outlawing all forms of violence against women, including rape within marriage, has been stuck in the government since 2006.
According to the father's interview, the girl was accosted on the street and raped when she was 15, but it was two months before she told her parents.
He said the court pushed the marriage, even though the perpetrator initially refused. He only consented when faced with prosecution. The penalty for rape is between five and 10 years in prison, but rises to 10 to 20 in the case of a minor.
He said Amina complained to her mother that her husband was beating her repeatedly during the five months of marriage but that her mother counselled patience.
A Facebook page called 'We are all Amina Filali' has been formed and an online petition calling for Morocco to end the practice of marrying rapists and their victims has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.
The incident throws more light on the way women are treated in Islamic countries.
Last year a woman in Afghanistan, 21-year-old Gulnaz, was jailed for 'adultery by force' after she was brutally raped by her husband's cousin.
Her attacker was jailed for seven years for the crime that left her pregnant.
A global outrage saw the President of Afghanistan personally pardoning her and releasing her from Kabul's Badam Bagh jail, with no pre-conditions.

Petition: Free Pakistani Christian woman set for execution

(CNN) -- Activists presented a petition Tuesday to the United Nations Human Rights Council calling on Pakistan to free a Christian mother of five from being put to death on the charge of blasphemy.

A Pakistani court Asia Bibi guilty of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during a 2009 argument with Muslim fellow field workers. The offense is punishable by death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan's penal code, and Bibi was sentenced to hang.

But an investigation by a Pakistani government ministry found the charges stemmed from religious and personal enmity and recommended Bibi's release.

The petition was signed by 50 activists including a former Czech foreign minister, the president of the U.N. General Assembly, a survivor of Tiananmen Square and a women's rights advocate from Mali.

"With Pakistan now running for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, the government should make an important gesture by releasing Asia Bibi, and repealing its blasphemy law, which is inconsistent with basic human rights," said Hillel Neuer, director of U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group that organized the petition.

However, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that the government will not change the country's controversial blasphemy laws.

Liberal politician Salman Taseer, then governor of Punjab, who led a campaign to end the law, was assassinated in January 2011. Taseer said the blasphemy laws were being misused to persecute religious minorities and had called for Bibi's release.

Bibi writes about her ordeal in a recently published book called "Get Me Out of Here." It includes a letter she wrote to her family urging them to have faith in God. "My children," she wrote, "don't lose courage or faith in Jesus Christ."

Isu Israel gamatkan dewan - sidang 14 Mac 2012

Media Event : Hindraf to stop UMNO govt demolishing Segambut Aman Hindu temple on15/3/12 @ 9.00 a.m.


clip_image001[4]             No 6B, Jalan Abdullah,
                                                                                                                                                       Off Jalan Bangsar,
                                                                                                                                                       59000, Kuala Lumpur
                                                                                                                                                       Tel: 03-22825241/03-22825622 Fax:03-22825245
Your Reference:
In Reply :
Date : 15/3/2012

Media Event 15/3/2012 (Thursday)

Re: 1) Hindraf to stop UMNO govt demolishing Segambut Aman Hindu temple  tomorrow 15/3/12 @ 9.00 a.m.

Date : 15/3/2012 (Thursday)
Time : 9.00 a.m.
Venue: Segambut Aman Hindu temple (Opposite Hong Leong Bank, Jalan Segambut Lama)

Note: Hindraf National Youth Chief S. Thiagarajan (019-3085944) would lead some 100 supporters in stopping this criminal act of hindu temple demolishment.

Saaran : 012-2560618
Siva Setapak: 017-6781335

Thank you.
Yours faithfully,

S. Jayathas
Information Chief Hindraf

 Notice 1 notice

No reason to pardon BN

If voters are going to be softhearted and fall for Najib's sob-story of an apology, then the nation is doomed.

The recent public apology by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak does merit a bit of attention from the rakyat but only to see how well he is performing as an actor. It is nothing but merely a ploy to hoodwink the rakyat into voting for Barisan Nasional (BN) time and time again.

Here are several reasons why Najib and BN should never be pardoned: dirty voter registration rolls, Perak, Lynas, Imam Hoslan Hussin and Frusis Lebi.

The first is in regard to the voter rolls wherein opposition Pakatan Rakyat MPs have detected at least 230,000 dubious voters.

The following is a breakdown of the tremendous increase in the percentage of voters in Selangor in various parliamentary and state seats:

1. Sungai Besar 19.95% (Umno)

2. Hulu Selangor 25.14% (MIC)

3. Kuala Selangor 20.39%

4. Selayang 18.86%

5. Pandan 18.18% (MCA)

6. Hulu Langat 23.95%

7. Serdang 22.63%

8. Puchong 24.94%

9. PJ Selatan 5.64%

10. PJ Utara 7.76%

11. Subang 35.02%

12. Shah Alam 19.87%

13. Kota Raja 29.51%

14. Kuala Langat 23.62%

15. Sepang 24.64% (Umno)

With the exception of Sungai Besar, Hulu Selangor, Pandan and Sepang, the rest are Pakatan seats.

It is obvious that the Election Commission (EC) is working in cahoots with the National Registration Department (NRD) to steal Selangor for Najib and BN. This is unforgivable!

Besides the above, there were no deaths recorded in the last quarter of last year.

There were also many cases of voters staying under the same roof:

1. 51 to 100 voters staying under the same address – 1,259 cases.

2. 21 to 50 voters staying under the same address – 3,254 cases.

3. 11 to 20 voters staying under the same address – 6,002 cases.

From 2008 till last year, there has not been much increase in new housing estates so the increase in the number of voters is highly irregular.

Terengganu, which was won by PAS in 1999, was recaptured by BN in 2004 due to voter-roll manipulation executed in the same manner as shown above. From 1999 to 2004, there was an overall increase of 17.18% in the number of voters whereas the increase in population was only 1.53%. However, at that time the public were not so politically aware and there was no hue and cry about the fall of Terengganu to BN.

Najib is wasting the rakyat’s time

Next issue is Perak. Why didn’t Najib apologise for the illegal, undemocratic and diabolical power-grab which was masterminded by him?

This columnist still remembers the smirk on his face as he hosted the press conference flanked by the three political frogs from Pakatan.

The third issue is Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). No apologies are needed for this matter. No excuses are necessary and none is warranted. Just shut down Lynas. Najib is wasting the rakyat’s time and insulting the rakyat’s intelligence where this issue is concerned.

The fourth issue pertains to the bullying of underdogs. The one-year jail term for Imam Hosni who threw his slippers at the judges is too excessive. Although contempt of court should not be condoned, the sentence meted out to him makes a mockery of the judiciary when you compare it with former Selangor menteri besar Khir Toyo’s one-year jail term. Enough said.

Another case of an underdog being bullied is Frusis Lebi of Sarawak who was denied his RM300 welfare aid for the disabled because he put up a flag of one of Pakatan Rakyat’s component parties outside his house during last year’s Sarawak state election. Anyway, the flag was promptly torn down by BN supporters.

Najib’s apology is an insincere one. But for such a convincing performance he surely deserves an Oscar for Best Actor. Nevertheless, many rural folk will be taken in and a good number of the urban folk, too, going by the maturity and thinking ability of Malaysian voters.

One has to realise that the longer BN stays in power, the longer still will Malaysians be the world’s laughing stock due to the stupidity of its voters.

An English daily on Feb 16, 2012, reported Najib’s evasive answer when he was questioned on whether the RM500 cash aid will be given next year. This was what he said, “We will see. When the time comes, we will announce it.” Bingo! Without consulting any oracles, this columnist dares to predict that the RM500 cash aid will certainly not be given next year if the general election is held this year.

All along Najib and his BN government treat the rakyat as fools. BN leaders always say that Pakatan has failed to keep its promises. Well, let us make a list of unfulfilled promises of both BN and Pakatan and you can be sure that BN’s list will take up enough reams of paper to go around the globe nine times. Why nine? Simply because nine is the number of eternity.

If Malaysian voters are going to be softhearted and fall for Najib’s sob-story of an apology, then Malaysia is doomed.We must not be taken for a ride anymore. By the way, what is that RM410,000 invoice for his daughter’s engagement banquet all about?

Selena Tay is a FMT columnist

Condemn Syrian crackdown, govt told

Malaysia has neither condemned nor voiced its support for the bloody Syrian crackdown. But a group of NGOs demand that the government makes a stand.

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of NGOs is pleading with the government to take a stand against Syria’s bloody crackdown in the country’s currently ongoing uprising.

Gathering under the “Save Syria Coalition” umbrella, 27 NGOs here have asked the Malaysian government to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s role in putting down the uprising.

They demanded that Malaysia bring its ambassador back from the conflict-ridden country.

The coalition’s secretariat, led by Naim Jusri, also asked that Malaysia pass an emergency motion condemning Syria’s actions and call for an end to the killing there.

“We heavily condemn the cruel and inhuman acts by Bashar al-Assad’s regime on the Syrian people.

“Their cruelty has been further highlighted by the looting of belongings, the killing of religious scholars, massacres, rape and molesting of women, banning women from wearing the hijab as well as oppressing both the young and the elderly,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

He said this after presenting the group’s memorandum to MPs this morning, including to Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.

It is estimated that as many as 8,500 people have been killed since the uprising began, along with a possible 39,000 wounded. The Save Syria Coalition also claimed that more than 180,000 people have been detained by the regime.

Although the Syrian Uprising has been raging since mid-March last year (as part of the Arab Spring), Malaysia has neither condemned nor supported Bashar’s actions in Syria.

Earlier today, Balik Pulau MP (PKR) Yusmadi Yussof and Parit Buntar MP (PAS) Mujahid Yusof Rawa expressed disappointment that Malaysia has not done anything with regard to Syria.

‘We need your help’

Jawdat Khatib -a Syrian national- who accompanied Naim to Parliament today said that the situation in his country is dire.

“The situation right now in Syria is very, very bad. We really need your help and support. Our people in Syria are being killed everyday, women and children are being killed everyday. Massacres are happening in Syria,” he said.

Jawdat appealed to Malaysia for help, adding that the country has a reputation for aiding in humanitarian crises.

The Save Syria Coalition also said that it will hold a peaceful assembly that will march from Masjid Tabung Haji to the Syrian Embassy this Friday at 2:45 pm.

Najib to review MAS-AirAsia swap deal

A MAS employees union official said this may lead to the tie-up being scrapped because of MAS' record losses.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has promised to review a share-swap deal between Malaysia Airline (MAS) and AirAsia, a MAS employees union official said on Wednesday, signalling a tie-up may be scrapped after MAS posted record losses.

The 20,000 strong union MASEU is opposed to the US$364 million deal that has brought AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes and his brand of aggressive cost cutting into the MAS boardroom, which they say resembles a take-over by the budget carrier.

Senior officials from the two airlines were not immediately available for comment. A government spokesman confirmed that union officials had met the prime minister but he declined to comment on details of the meeting.

The deal, formulated by Najib, was to help both carriers compete effectively against competitors like Tiger Airways and Singapore Airlines once the Southeast Asian open sky policy comes into effect in 2015.

MASEU officials met Najib in February to protest against the deal that would lead to restructuring MAS into short-haul and long-haul operations and could lead to job cuts, said MASEU secretary general Abdul Malek Ariff.

That month, MAS reported its worst ever losses of RM2.5 billion ($823.86 million) for 2011, eight months after the share swap deal was signed in August, shocking analysts who expected the restructuring to limit losses.

Failing to placate the union could turn into a political hot potato for Najib as MAS operations are centered in Selangor, an important industrial state Najib wants to wrest back from the opposition in elections that could be held within months.

“The prime minister has promised to look into the matter but we’ve heard nothing from him,” Abdul Malek told Reuters, adding the government was losing the support of union members.

“Sentiment among the unions used to be 50:50 for the government and the opposition. Now after this, 90 percent will opt for the opposition,” he said.

Under the deal announced in August, Tune Air, which is controlled by AirAsia’s Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun, would take a 20.5 percent stake in MAS and two board seats.

In exchange, state investment arm Khazanah Nasional, the majority shareholder in MAS, would hold 10 percent in AirAsia.

CIMB is the adviser for both companies on the deal, which is almost completed with the exchange of warrants ongoing, said a banking source.

Khazanah also declined to comment. A government spokesman said MASEU officials met the prime minister “some time back” but declined to comment further.

Worst ever financial year

Analysts say the new structure was supposed to help MAS, which has had a tumultuous history stretching back to 1997, when unprofitable routes pushed it into the red.

It notched its worst ever financial year in 2011 because of surging fuel costs and one-off provisions for impairment of aircraft, excess capacity and redelivery of aircraft.

In total, the provisions stood at RM1.1 billion for the fourth quarter alone. Following the losses, MAS said it would do fundraising to strengthen its balance sheet.

In contrast, AirAsia has posted profits over the last four quarters, tapping strong demand for air travel in Southeast Asia. It is also planning IPOs in Bangkok and Indonesia to expand in the region where carriers like Lion Air and JetStar are seeking to dominate.

Analysts said at the moment there was no meaningful partnership between AirAsia and MAS, except for the joint procurement of jet fuel cargoes.

“They are welcome to unwind the deal. But what’s key is, would this save MAS? Would previously terminated routes be restated?,” said Ahmad Maghfur Usman, a transport analyst with OSK Investment Bank.

“Definitely, AirAsia benefits in the near term because of the route cuts. It is tough to say what exactly benefits MAS because the detail of the collaboration has yet to be announced. But over the longer term, through shared resources, both carriers will benefit.”

- Reuters

Eurofighter Typhoon for Malaysia?

BAE Systems, a UK-based defence company, hopes to sell the world's most advanced multi-role combat aircraft to Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: The UK-based global defence and security company, BAE Systems, hopes to supply its Eurofighter Typhoon, the world’s most advanced multi-role combat aircraft, to Malaysia.

BAE Systems South East Asia managing director John Brosnan said the company had submitted its proposal to the Defence Ministry, and discussed with local industrial partners on collaboration.

“We have the best aircraft and industrial package to go with it,” he told reporters at a briefing on the company’s Malaysia Industrial Participation here today.

On the contract value, Brosnan said it was too early to ascertain the price as this depends on the number of aircraft, as well as the support level required by Malaysia.

“Once the government has evaluated the initial phase, it will issue the detailed specifications, including the support level, and we can then put in the pricing,” he added.

BAE Systems has a 30-year presence in Malaysia and has been supporting the operations of the Royal Malaysian Air Force Hawk trainers while preparing pilots to fly frontline aircraft.

The company reported sales of US$30.7 billion last year and has customers in more than 100 countries.


EC will use different coloured indelible inks

The Election Commission chief says this is to prevent any possibilty of double voting.

KOTA KINABALU: Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the EC would use indelible inks of different colours for the advance and ordinary voters to prevent any possibility of double voting.

“We will definitely use ink that stays longer for the advance voters. The public won’t know the colour or the type of bottles for the ink until a day before the voting process,” he said.

He also said the 242,294 postal voters, comprising 94,613 police and 147,681 armed forces personnel, will become advance voters by default in the coming polls.

This follows the implementation of a new regulation, which will be enforced for the first time during in the 13th general election.

“Postal voting has caused much controversy as though the process was not transparent. We’ve discussed this with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform, and it was agreed that an advance voting system be introduced in the election.

“The advance voting process is similar to normal voting process in that it won’t use envelopes or bags; the only difference is the time and day of polling, which may be two or three days before the actual polling day,” he said after opening a special briefing to returning officers and district police chiefs, here today.

The advance voting will allow members of the armed forces and police, and their spouses, to cast their votes early so that they do not need to do so on actual polling day, allowing them to carry out their duties as usual.

“Under the new regulation, those who qualified as postal voters can become advance voters. However, security personnel who are required to work on nomination day or polling day, especially those stationed at the borders, can be considered to cast their votes via the post.

“They can apply to do so by filling up Form 1. The approving authority is the returning officers of their respective polling centres,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sabah Deputy Commissioner of Police Tan Kok Liang said 8,000 personnel would be deployed throughout the state to maintain order during the election.

Police would also take proactive measures to ensure all personnel would be able to discharge their responsibility as advance voters, he said.


Malaysia and the Global Rare Earth Squabble

Lynas protesters
Opposition, Barisan tangle over rare earth plant as global confrontation looms
If all things were equal, Malaysia should be rubbing its figurative hands together in glee over a major confrontation that is beginning to play itself out between China and the west over China’s limitations on rare earth exports.

China warned the US, the European and Union Tuesday that they were risking a backlash over challenges at the World Trade Organization over China’s export restrictions on the 17 rare-earth minerals that are a critical ingredient for products ranging from the iPhone to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Other nations have largely ceased production of the rare earth minerals because of the detrimental effect mining and processing them has had on the environment. China has belatedly caught up with western sentiment after realizing that substandard mining practices have resulted in environmental catastrophes and has cut back on production, driving prices through the roof.

That ought to leave Malaysia, where an Australian company is seeking to open what is described as the world’s biggest rare earths processing plant, in a commanding position. Lynas Malaysia last month received a temporary license to operate the facility, which has been under construction for the last year.

Lynas’s plan is to mine the minerals at Mount Weld, a site 100 km east of Freemantle, Australia, ship them to Malaysia and process them in the plant in Gebing, near the city of Kuantan in the state of Pahang. From there the extracted rare earth materials are to be shipped to Japan, Europe and the United States, which are all crying out for the materials in the wake of China’s action.

But the plan, backed by the government, has come under implacable resistance from Malaysia’s three-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition, which it regards as a potent campaign issue, whatever the merits. The attempt to stop the plant from opening has become one of the biggest issues between the Barisan Nasional, or ruling national coalition, and the opposition in an election that is expected to get underway soon, perhaps in May or June, according to insiders in the United Malays National Organization.

Because of the emotive nature of the environmental issues, and because the atmosphere is becoming heated over the election, it is guaranteed not to go away. Critics want the government to halt its construction and direct the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) to reverse a decision to grant Lynas a temporary operating license for a two-year trial run. One rally in Kuantan, 50 km from the plant, saw a turnout of 15,000 protesters, called the largest and most diverse environmental protest in Malaysian history.

In addition to becoming a prime election issue, the plant is also crucial to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s aspirations to transform the country into a high-income and developed nation by 2020. Crucial to that plan is to drive up foreign direct investment, which has stagnated badly. Although inward FDI climbed to US$10.86 billion in 2011, with a particularly steep rise in investment in services, outward FDI in 2010 surged to $13.2 billion, according to the Asian Development Bank’s Asian Development Outlook 2011: South-South Economic Links. No figure for 2011 is yet available. Unfortunately, much of the FDI that has appeared is in Sarawak and Sabah, primarily in investment in extractive industries rather than industrialization or manufacturing. A public protest that would shut the plant would not be a welcome signal to other multinationals contemplating investment in the country.

The opposition to the plant has taken on wider characteristics in Malaysia’s often-fraught political atmosphere. For instance, it has become entangled with the country’s “Peaceful Assembly Bill,” passed by the Dewan Rakyat, or parliament last November. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak held up the bill as one of several reforms of the country’s colonial era restrictions on the right of assembly and other issues.

However, the Malaysian Bar Council complained that the new law is actually more restrictive than the previous law because it prohibits street protests, the organization of assemblies by those under the age of 21 and the participation of youths below the age of 15, and the imposition of a flock of new restrictions on organizers.

Protesters have linked the two issues together, holding a series of marches and rallies across the country, including one in Penang across the country and well to the north in late February, in which violence flared as pro-government factions attacked anti-Lynas activists, throwing stones and other missiles and shouting abuse.

The protesters have been given an emotive issue in the form of a mid-1980s rare earth processing facility developed in 1985 by Mitsubishi Chemical at Bukit Merah n northern Perak state near the city of Ipoh that turned into an environmental disaster. The facility was closed in 1992 amid allegations that it was causing widespread groundwater and other environmental contamination and was responsible for deaths from leukemia as well as birth defects in children living nearby.

The Bukit Merah site, 20 years later, remains one of Asia’s largest radioactive waste cleanup sites despite the fact that Mitsubishi has owned up to the pollution and poured an estimated US$100 million into the cleanup.

Pictures purportedly of dying individuals and deformed babies have been given wide circulation both on the Internet and by other means throughout the country.

Lynas has so far met stringent requirements both on the part of the government and the International Atomic Energy Agency although protesters say the company still doesn’t have a credible waste and water management plan and that radioactive materials could leach into both the groundwater, as they did at Bukit Merah, as well as into the South China Sea.

Last week Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, in a joint statement with Pahang Chief Minister Adnan Yaakob in Kuantan, said the government has “ordered Lynas to guarantee and plan the provision of a permanent waste disposal facility far from human population as recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Failing that, Lynas has already expressed willingness to take the residue out of Malaysia."

Lynas said the most radioactive element, thorium, in its raw state from Mount Weld, is 50 times lower than that in Bukit Merah. Lynas also said waste products with low levels of thorium could be converted into safe byproducts such as cement aggregate for road construction.

"In practical terms, at these levels, exposure to radiation is less than taking a flight on a commercial airline or using a mobile phone," the company said in a statement. It also said it was prepared to place a bond with the government to ensure safe management of any remaining residue once the plant stops operations, but didn't give details.

In the meantime, does Malaysia risk missing the boat? The Wall Street Journal/Asia Wednesday quoted an analyst from Technology Metals Research as saying more than 419 rare-earth projects have got underway in 26 countries as the price has skyrocketed and the controversy has mushroomed.

Group: Court should have been merciful to shoe-throwing imam


PETALING JAYA: The Federal Court panel which sentenced imam Hoslan Husin to a year’s jail for throwing his shoes at them should have been tempered by mercy.

Lawyers for Liberty campaign director Fadiah Nadwa Fikri told theSun yesterday that the sentence handed down on the 46-year-old father of seven was excessive and unnecessary. 

“We feel the sentence is disproportionate, considering that the imam was emotional on the day of the offence as his appeal was thrown out based on a technicality,” she said, adding that the court failed to consider Hoslan’s apology for his emotional outburst.

She said that previous contempt sentences have only been for a few days jail, saying that the court should 
have been proportionate in the punishment meted down.

“A year is outrageous. Nobody condones throwing a shoe at a judge, but the power of the court cannot be exercised in an extreme manner. 

“In this case they could have just reprimanded him,” said Fadiah.

Hoslan was sentenced to a year in jail on March 8 for contempt of court by a panel comprising Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin and Federal Court Justices Datuk Suryadi Halim Omar and Datin Paduka Zaleha Zahari.

Hoslan threw his shoes at this three-member bench on Feb 22 during proceedings between 10.15am and 10.30am after the panel dismissed his application to hear his appeal.

Asked about laws behind contempt of court, Fadiah said the sentencing powers for contempt were very wide and left at the discretion of the judge, who should hand down a sentence at the moment of the offence.

“The power of a judge when it comes to contempt is very wide. They can set any duration they like, it is an incidental power of the court and this is why democratic societies are moving away from relying on this power,” she said.

Fadiah said that courts were moving away from jail sentences for contempt in more democratic   societies and allowing criticism of the judiciary.

Malaysia, Russia To Sign Visa-free Agreement This Year

By Nurulhuda Che Das

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (Bernama) -- Russia is looking at introducing visa-free travel for Malaysians to the federation, reciprocating such facility extended to Russian visitors to Malaysia, said Russian envoy Lyudmilla G. Vorobyeva.

The Russian ambassador to Malaysia said that the agreement for visa-free travel is being finalised and hoped that the agreement would be signed this year.

"For Russians we don't need the visa to come to Malaysia for 30 days, in our system we cannot grant the same thing to our partner (Malaysia), we need to have a visa-free agreement and we are working on this kind of agreement so that Malaysian nationals can go to Russia without any visa for 30 days," said the 47-year-old envoy, who took up her posting here in August 2010.

She hoped the visa-free travel would further enhance the tourism and economic relations between both countries.

"My impression is that people here are very interested in going to Russia, everyone knows about St Petersburg and Moscow and many people are visiting this major tourist destination," Vorobyeva told Bernama during her visit to the news agency here Wednesday.

"There are a lot of potential and interesting places to visit in the Asian part of Russia, with a lot of eco-tourism, national parks, historical and cultural places," she said.

On education, Vorobyeva hoped to see more Malaysians studying in Russia since the quality of education there was very good, while the cost was quite affordable compared to the western countries.

She said there were some 3,000 Malaysian students in Russia, taking courses such as medicine, while there were only some 150 Russian students in Malaysia taking up mostly Islamic studies.

Vorobyeva said that she had been discussing with vice-chancellors of various universities in Malaysia to do some exchange programmes with Russian universities.

"There are a number of students in Russia who are studying Malay language and are specialising in Malay studies, and I would like to share a success of one of the students who won second place for the international category in the International Malay Language Oratory Contest for the Prime Minister's Trophy last week," she added.

Vorobyeva also hoped more Russian universities would take part in the education fairs held in Malaysia in a move to promote and expose the courses they are offering besides medicine, such as in the field of aviation and technical.

"Russia has a lot more than just medical studies to offer. We have also very good schools for fundamental scientific studies, economic and engineering," she said.

She said the Russian government also provides scholarships for Asean countries, however, Malaysians have not taken up these scholarships.