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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scores injured as Amsterdam trains collide

Passengers suffered broken bones and neck injuries as a result of Saturday's train collision [AFP]
More than 100 people hurt, 42 of them seriously, as two passenger trains collide near the Dutch capital.

Two passenger trains have collided head-on near an Amsterdam park, injuring scores of people including more than 40 seriously, a police spokesman has said.

About 42 people were seriously injured in the crash on Saturday evening between a double-decker intercity train and a commuter train, Eberhard van der Laan, the Amsterdam Mayor, said on Sunday.

Many passengers suffered broken bones and neck injuries with about 70 travelers escaping with minor injuries.

Dutch railway officials said on Sunday that rail traffic around Amsterdam would be disrupted throughout the morning as the two damaged trains remained on the tracks where they collided.

Bus services were being laid on to try to get passengers to their destinations.

An investigation is under way into the cause of the accident. Two separate investigations will focus on whether human error or a mechanical fault led to the two trains winding up on collision course.

The accident happened at around 6.30pm local time [16:30 GMT] when a local train leaving Amsterdam hit a high-speed train, Babet Verstappen, the Dutch rail network Prorail spokeswoman, told AFP news agency.

Emergency personnel treated some of the wounded at the scene, on a bridge between Sloterdijk and Amsterdam Central Station, he said.

Pictures from the scene showed the crushed front ends of both the trains and smashed windows in some of the carriages.

"Some of the injured had to be rescued from inside the train," Elke van den Hout, Amsterdam fire service spokeswoman, said.

The Netherlands' worst train disaster happened on January 8, 1962, when two passenger trains smashed into one another at Harmelen, near the central Dutch city of Utrecht, killing 93 and injuring 52 others.

Source: Agencies

Pakatan persoal pemansuhan barung panas

Muslim gang jailed for kidnapping and raping two girls as part of their Eid celebrations

Ordeal: The girls, aged 15 and 16, were lured miles from their home to a dingy hostel where they were attacked
Ordeal: The girls, aged 15 and 16, were lured miles from their home to a dingy hostel where they were attacked

A group of Muslim men who abducted and raped two teenage girls as part of their Eid celebrations laughed in court yesterday as they were jailed for a total of 38 years.

The girls, aged 15 and 16, were lured miles from their home to a dingy hostel.

In a horrifying weekend-long ordeal, they were plied with alcohol and repeatedly raped by two men, Shamrez Rashid and Amar Hussain, before being offered to a number of others who also ‘used them for sex’.

The 16-year old was forced to have sex six times with four different men.
The younger victim was raped by one man and then sexually assaulted by another.

One defendant, Rashid, 20, was said to have claimed the girls had enjoyed the sex, which he said had taken place as they celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid.

‘It was Eid,’ he said. ‘We treated them as our guests. OK, so they gave us [sex] but we were buying them food and drink.

‘They could have anything they wanted. They enjoyed it.’

His accomplice Amar Hussain, 22, claimed the girls were ‘slags’.

But Judge Melbourne Inman QC said the girls had still been children at the time of the offences.

He said it was quite obvious they had been frightened of the men, but this had had ‘no effect at all’ on their attackers’ behaviour.

‘They were still children and still living with their families,’ Judge Inman said. ‘In a civilised society, such people should be helped. You all abused them.

‘They were extremely vulnerable and you took advantage of that.’

The five defendants laughed and smirked as the horrifying details of their offences were described in court yesterday.

Rashid – who had already been found guilty of two rapes, an attempted rape, child abduction and an attempted sexual assault – grinned, laughed and made gun gestures in the dock.

His supporters in the public gallery hurled abuse at the judge as he passed sentence later.

The court heard how Rashid and Hussain drove the girls from their home in Telford in Shropshire to a Birmingham probation hostel on the evening of Saturday November 28 2009.

They took them to an unfamiliar environment so they ‘would be disorientated and reliant on them,’ prosecutors said.

After raping the girls, they ‘in effect offered them up to their friends, introducing a string of young men into the house’.

Over the following 36 hours, the girls were subjected to almost constant abuse, despite begging their attackers to stop.

The 16-year-old was left with bruising all over her face and neck after she was forced to perform a sex act on Hussain.

She was then forced to have sex with Rashid and a third man, Adil Saleem, while others watched.

The court heard how she held on to a doorframe to try to stop her attacker dragging her into a bedroom, but was pushed inside and the door locked behind her.

She was warned that her attackers were in a gang known as the B9 Crew, and that ‘when someone pressed charges against them, they went to their mother’s house, put a gun to her face and broke her jaw’.

The girls eventually ran from the hostel and called the emergency services from a payphone.

The trial at Birmingham Crown Court was the latest of several cases in which groups of men have been accused of sexually exploiting vulnerable girls.

Hussain was found guilty of child abduction and three rapes and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Rashid received ten years for child abduction, two rapes, an attempted rape and attempted sexual assault.

Adil Saleem, 20, was given eight years for one count of rape. Jahbar Rafiq, 28, was handed eight years for rape and sexual assault and Amer Islam Choudhrey, 20, was given 15 months for child abduction and sexual assault.

11 caned in Indonesia's Aceh province

ANGSA, Indonesia (AP) — Authorities in Indonesia say 10 men and a woman have been publicly caned for gambling and immoral behavior under Islamic law in conservative Aceh province.

Prosecutor's office official Putra Masduri said nine people convicted of gambling were caned four to 12 times.

He said Saturday that two others — a man and woman — were caned nine times after being found naked together by local residents.

All were beaten Friday in front of dozens of people at a field in Langsa, the capital of East Aceh district, after being tried by the local Shariah Court.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation of 240 million people, has a policy of secularism but allows highly conservative Aceh province to implement a version of Sharia Islamic law.

Hindraf lays conditions to stay out of GE13

The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) will stay out of the next general election should Pakatan Rakyat sign a pledge to resolve problems faced by the Indian poor.

Hindraf said Pakatan has until May 20 to sign the pledge involving, among others, land titles for Indian villages, temples and Tamil schools, and providing scholarship opportunities and low-cost housing.

padang chetty klang hindraf 220411"If Pakatan gives us a written undertaking, then we will not contest in a single seat," Hindraf de facto leader P Uthayakumar said today.

He said that the issues faced by the Indian poor had been ignored by Pakatan in states which the coalition are now ruling.
He told this to reporters after a Hindraf rally in Padang Chetty, Klang that was attended by a 1,000 strong crowd.

The event was initially meant as a stage for PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to address a crowd of Indian poor.

Hindraf had hoped that Anwar would spell out Pakatan's plans for the Indian poor, but he declined the invitation because the platform was "inappropriate".

Meanwhile, Hindraf said that it will announce its candidacy for three Parliamentary and four state legislative assembly seats - all in Selangor - on May 20 if their demands are not met.
Last resort

Uthayakumar told reporters later that this will do so as a "last resort" should there be no assurance for the Indian poor given by Pakatan.

Hindraf revealed that the four Parliamentary seats are Kota Raja (held by PAS), Kelana Jaya (PKR) and Kuala Selangor (PAS) while the four state seats are Sri Andalas (PKR), Seri Setia (PKR), Ijok (PKR) and Bukit Melawati (PKR).

padang chetty klang hindraf 220411Asked if such plans would spoil Pakatan's chances of retaining the seats, Uthayakumar replied: "I don't think it will cause a dent. If we stand in all 222 (Parliamentary) seats, then yes".

Asked on why Hindraf has scaled down its target of 15 Parliamentary seats and 38 state legislative assembly seats nationwide, Uthayakumar conceded that doing so would stretch the movement too thin.

"When we went campaigning around the country, maybe because of prolonged BN suppression (of Indians), we did not successfully establish substantial footholds in every area," he said.

He added that Hindraf will again extend an invitation for the three top Pakatan leaders to attend another rally at the same venue on May 20.

"If Anwar feels the place is not conducive enough, we can go to his PKR office in Damansara," said Uthayakumar.

Najib brushes aside questions on Scorpene subs

Prime Minister Najib Razak has snubbed questions about human rights NGO Suaram's case in France involving alleged kickbacks to top Malaysian officials over the purchase of two Scorpene class submarines.

Najib was asked to comment about the matter and whether he would testify in the French court.
Suaram has submitted his name as a witness as he was the defence minister involved in the procurement of the submarine

I don't need to comment....I don't want to comment, thank you", he said crisply at a press conference at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, where he met two groups of NGOs - one Indian and one Chinese.
kua kia soongThe journalist was about to ask Najib the reasons why he was dodging queries about the case, but the press conference which lasted less than ten minutes, ended abruptly and the premier left.

The French court held its first hearing last week before judge Roger Le Loire in a three hour session where a three member Suaram team presented their statement and list of witnesses.

Le Loire accepted the team's presentation submitted by Suaram director Kua Kia Soong (right), secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel and lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri at the Paris tribunal Grande Instance.

Gabriel said that the hearing was to confirm Suaram's complaint and reaffirmed the need for a judicial investigation into the RM7.3 billion deal in 2002.

The deal had allegedly led to the gruesome of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu by military explosives in a jungle clearing in Shah Alam between October 19-20, 2006.

Two of Najib's former bodyguards and political analyst - a close ally of the premier - Abdul Razak Baginda were charged for her gruesome murder but the latter was acquitted without his defense being called.

Bersih: Dataran Merdeka or bust

Both Ambiga and Samad (left) insist that Bersih 3.0 must be held at Dataran Merdeka. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The Bersih 3.0 rally must be held at Dataran Merdeka as there is too little time to change the venue, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.

The Bersih co-chairman told The Malaysian Insider that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had “no basis” to reject Bersih’s request to have its event there, and pledged to co-operate with the police as well as DBKL for this coming Saturday’s sit-in.

“I sincerely believe that there can be no objections to Dataran Merdeka (being the venue for Bersih 3.0) and we will co operate fully with the authorities for a smooth gathering, as well as DBKL.

“I have no mandate to change the venue without consulting the endorsing NGOs,” she said in a text message.

“We will have to go back to them but the problem we have is that we have very little time to make changes,” she added.

Ambiga’s co-chairman, Datuk A. Samad Said, echoed her words, saying that the rally must be held at Dataran Merdeka and nowhere else.

He stressed that the electoral reforms group should not be pressured into accepting other venues for the rally.

“We still want Dataran Merdeka. I will discuss with Ambiga about the location, but we still want Dataran Merdeka,” the national literary icon told The Malaysian Insider.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) recently rejected Bersih’s request to hold the rally at the historic square on April 28, saying that the venue was only for “national-level events.”

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today DBKL should offer alternative venues for Bersih 3.0 if it does not want the rally to be held at Dataran Merdeka, and suggested Stadium Merdeka as an option.

He stressed that the electoral reforms group should be allowed to have a “peaceful assembly”, and previously added that the government does not see the rally as a “security threat” — a far cry from Putrajaya’s attitude in locking down the capital city at the last rally.

But Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah was a little more tentative, saying that the various NGOs under the Bersih umbrella would have to meet before deciding on their next move.

“We will meet tomorrow night to discuss and make an announcement on Tuesday,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

She said that Bersih would also be meeting the police tomorrow at 3pm to discuss traffic logistics for the protest.

Indian NGOs back Bersih

The Malaysian Indian Voice says that the time has come for the community to teach BN a 'bitter lesson'.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two NGOs, The Malaysian Indian Voice (MIV) an WargaAman, have pledged their support for the Bersih 3.0 rally slated for April 28 at Dataran Merdeka.

MIV, which would be organising the Indian Rights Action Force (Indraf) 2.0 rally next month, said that it backed Bersih because equality and justice could only exist in a clean and transparent democratic system.

Speaking at a press conference here, MIV president and former Internal Security Act detainee V Ganabitarau urged all Indians in Malaysia to lend their support for Bersih’s cause.

“As a community which has been discriminated and marginalised for more than 50 years, we only have one choice… to teach Barisan Nasional a bitter lesson,” he said.

Also present at the press conference were National Indian Action Team (NIAT) chairman Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim and MIV leaders V Raidu, A Prakash and David Bala.

Ganabatirao said the Election Commission was not independent and BN had been manipulating the commission in its favour.

“Hence, this rally is important to ensure a free and fair election,” he added.

Meanwhile, WargaAman, a coalition of 20 Indian NGOs, was backing Bersih to keep the pressure on the government to reform the electoral process.

In a statement, the coalition’s sceretary-general S Barathidasan said the EC had not addressed issues related to postal votes, election offences and measures to end dirty politics.

Exit PTPTN, enter special fund

A special fund to aid students will be set up if Pakatan dismantles the PTPTN after coming into power.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR said today it will set up a special fund to aid students with their daily expenses while studying by providing fixed-cost loans once Pakatan Rakyat abolishes the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) if it wrests federal power.

Its strategic director Rafizi Ramli said this would counter attempts by political rivals to twist PKR’s proposal.

This plan was included in a five-point framework to implement a free education policy and to replace the current PTPTN scheme which critics claim saddled graduates with huge debts even before they were employed.

First in its plan would be to set up a technical university aimed at increasing high learning chances for everyone, which Rafizi said was important to balance the number of offers in public institutes compared to private institutes.

This would therefore prevent future dependence on paid higher education, he reasoned.

Rafizi then said a Pakatan federal government would finance tuition fees at public institutes and provide living cost allowances for qualified students based on their academic achievements, socio-economic backgrounds and family burdens.

“And those from high-income families can opt to bear school fees but can still qualify for a loan from a special fund to be set up for living costs allowance and private education,” he added.

PAS disagrees

The PKR leader said the framework would also consider applications from the same fund for those with no space in public varsities.

Its key element would be living allowances at a fixed rate taking into account subsidised fees by the government based on their courses.

Rafizi said only an estimated RM3 billion in the annual budget was required to see the success of the scheme which could easily be financed by the annual RM5 billion that could be saved by abolishing lopsided highway concessions.

“This clearly dismisses arguments that Malay/Bumiputera students will lose out if a free education policy is implemented as they cannot support themselves,” he said.

PKR had been leading the calls with regard to the PTPTN issue targeted at winning support from young Malay voters who make up one-sixth of the electorate.

However, its ally PAS said yesterday that it would be wrong to abolish the PTPTN without a proper replacement scheme.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said in an interview with a Malay daily published today that this replacement process must be fair to all Malaysians as propounded by Islam.

“That is why PTPTN cannot simply be abolished just like that. There has to be a process. A fair process which is not burdensome to the poor and one where the more privileged must bear responsibility,” he said.

BN could suffer for attack on students

Perception is what counts in politics. And the perception that has already set in among the discerning public, not only discerning students, is that Umno hired the thugs.

Kee Thuan Chye

Barisan Nasional has probably just lost the votes of university students who are bright, perceptive and can think for themselves.

These students would have been reviled by the recent attack on the student protesters camped out at Dataran Merdeka by a gang of 50 thugs. They would have seen this as a shameful act of violence against their fellow students, who were helpless and defenceless.

They would have seen this as an act to frighten the students into ending their protest calling for PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) loans to be written off.

Those who are bright and up to speed about politics in this country would automatically assume that this is the work of forces bigger than the thugs. For why should thugs randomly attack the students and beat some of them up, including women? What would be their motive for doing so?

The assumption would most likely be that the forces behind the attack are members of the ruling party – for who, more than anyone else, would want to see the protest end sooner?

That being so, it’s bad news for BN. Rightly or wrongly, the first suspicion would be that BN – or, more specifically, Umno – is behind this.

Even if it’s not the case in reality, it doesn’t matter. Perception is what counts in politics. And the perception that has already set in among the discerning public, not only discerning students, is that Umno hired the thugs.

This was the perception too when thugs also violently disrupted a Solidariti Mahasiswa talk in Klang last February.

So rampant have violent disruptions of political events been of late – particularly those that are deemed adversarial to the ruling party – that it has become common belief that Umno is responsible for them.

It has come to be seen as a modus operandi for intimidating opponents. Increasingly, with each new violent disruption, the image of Umno and BN has suffered. The perception is that the ruling party knows no other way than intimidation to deal with challenges to its authority and policies. Instead of adhering to democratic principles, it employs anti-democratic means.

This perception is supported by the fact that Umno has resorted to threats and violence a few times before in the past.

Umno Youth members threatened to burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in 2000 unless the Chinese Malaysian Election Appeals Committee (Suqiu) retracted its 17-point appeal for improvements in some national policies.

Umno Youth members stormed an Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor II conference in Kuala Lumpur in 1996, broke down the doors of the conference halls, threw chairs and verbally and physically abused the participants.

In 2006, a forum on Article 11 of the Federal Constitution held in Penang was made to end abruptly by the vehement protest of a group of Umno Youth members at the forum venue. The police intervened by telling the forum organisers to cut short the forum.

Nothing from police probes

In recent times, we have seen the same modus operandi at work on a few occasions.

Last August, Umno senator Ezam Mohd Nor threatened to burn down the offices of Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider for what he said was their false reporting against Islam. This was, to say the least, a most unbecoming utterance from a senator.

Last January, the ceramah in Shah Alam organised by Anything But Umno (ABU) and Hindraf was gate-crashed by a gang of thugs who rode their motorcycles into the hall, threw leaflets and bottles around and verbally abused the audience.

In Penang last February, a group identified as Umno Youth and Perkasa members attacked anti-Lynas protesters at Speakers’ Corner, resulting in injury to two journalists. Even Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who spoke at the event, was harassed.

The police who were present reportedly looked on and did nothing. Later, Penang Chief Police Officer Ayub Yaakob blamed the organisers for not informing the police about their event.

Must one have prepared the police beforehand before the latter can perform their duty of restoring order when a fracas breaks out? If they have not been duly informed, do they just pretend they are not there?

What KPI should the police get for this, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak?

To be sure, the police have so far not been seen to be impartial in handling the various attacks. Their investigations after the fact have often led to nothing. No one has yet been charged in court, although in the Shah Alam incident, the attack was serious enough to cause a man to be hospitalised.

Even when there is video evidence to support the claim of violent action, the police have been known to say that nothing violent was committed.

In this current case of the attack at Dataran Merdeka, the students claim that the police stood and watched while the attack was going on. To this, the police counter-claim that they responded by sending 10 personnel to the scene within five to six minutes.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohmad Salleh says two plainclothes policemen were already at the scene when the attack started at 2.40am. So why didn’t these two plunge straight into breaking it up?

Only one attacker was arrested out of the 50 or so. This is poor pickings by any standard.

What was Mohmad’s excuse? “It was early in the morning and we could not differentiate the attackers from those already there.” One might well interpret from that statement that the attackers must have just been standing around with their arms folded. Or perhaps the cops were sleeping on the job.

Are we to believe the claim made by the Government body Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit) that the crime rate has gone down when our police have shown their level of efficiency in this case?

Are we to believe Pemandu’s declaration that Malaysia is now the safest and most peaceful country in Malaysia when innocent, defenceless students can be attacked by hired thugs?

Power of passive resistance

The whole incident has, as usual, been badly handled by the authorities.

Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin showed a lack of emotional quotient when he tweeted: “No one asked (the students) to camp out at Dataran Merdeka. When something happens, don’t go asking for sympathy.” He had to later give the pathetic excuse that he wrote it like that to keep within the 140-character limit.

If there is something exemplary to be remarked upon here, it is the students’ composure when they were being attacked.

In not physically retaliating against their attackers, they demonstrated the power of passive resistance. No wonder they have won much public sympathy since. And no doubt they have won the admiration of their peers as well.

The students may well prove to be a substantial thorn in BN’s side, that will haunt the coalition at the upcoming general election, but that’s what you get when students you have been oppressing for four decades are stirred and finally stand up to reclaim their rights.

A friend of mine often says that change will come when students start to take to the streets. This has now happened, and I hope he’s right.

Kee Thuan Chye is the author of No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians, now available in major bookstores.

Dataran occupiers released on police bail

Earlier a magistrate refused to give remand order against Umar and instructed the police to complete investigations by today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The authorities this morning moved to get rid of the activists camping at the historic Dataran Merdeka by dismantling their tents and arresting two Occupy Dataran activists.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) started to dismantle the tents belonging to the activists at 8am.

Shortly after that the police arrested activists Fahmi Reza and Umar Mohd Azmi.

Both Fahmi and Umar were taken to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters. Statements were taken from both of them, and Fahmi was released on police bail, without conditions, at about 3pm.

It is believed that DBKL, and not the police, who would be preferring charges against Fahmi.

Umar meanwhile was released on police bail three hours later, at about 6pm. He was investigated under the Penal Code and the DBKL by-laws.

“Umar is required to be present in Jalan Duta court tomorrow at 9am even though the deputy public prosecutor has not decided to press charges against him,” said lawyer Afiq M Noor via Twitter.

A magistrate had earlier denied the police a remand order to keep Umar beyond today. The police have been told to wrap up investigations againts Umar by today.

Both the activists have headed straight to Dataran Merdeka to join the other Dataran occupiers who had said that they would not be forced out.

Occupiers standing firm

Earlier this morning, the scenario at Dataran Merdeka was chaotic with the actions of the DBKL enforcement personnel and the arrest of the two.

“I was not told why I was being arrested,” Occupy Dataran organisers tweeted, quoting Fahmi.

The Occupy Dataran activists also vowed not to move away from Dataran Merdeka despite the DBKL taking away their tents.

Infact, the organisers urged people to come to Dataran Merdeka to show support for their cause.

“We need mass mobilization at #occupydataran turun ke dataran merdeka juga!” said their tweet feed.

They also urged people to go to the Dang Wangi police station to protest against the arrest of the Fahmi and Umar.

“If the two occupiers aren’t release after the PC (at 11.30am), we are going to organise a flashmob in front of IPD Dang Wangi,” said another tweet from the organisers.

‘They want to separate us’

FMT learnt that Fahmi and Umar wore face masks at the police station as a sign of protest against their arrests (photo left).

Fahmi had also tweeted to say that the cops were planning to take Umar to the Jinjang police station, which they did some hours later.

“They want to separate us,” he said.

He also said that they were mocked and ridiculed by the police, adding that they were kept at the 9th floor of the district police HQ.

He added that their lawyers were refused to be present with them. However two lawyers – bringing mee goreng with them – were later allowed to see Fahmi and Umar

“U can prison an occupier, but U can’t prison our peaceful occupation. Please continue to #occupydataran & defend our right to public space,” he added in another tweet.

Remand order denied

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan, who met Fahmi and Umar at the police station, told FMT that Umar was being investigated under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant on duty.

An offence under this section carries a sentence of two years’ imprisonment or fine upto RM10,000 or both. Umar is also facing a charge of building a structure on site, an offence under the DBKL’s by-laws.

Fahmi is expected to be investigated for the same offences. However Syahredzan said that neither have been charged as yet.

“No one is being charged. I am with my clients now,” he told FMT earlier today.

Umar, who will be celebrating his 23th birthday tomorrow, was then taken to the Jinjang police station at about 1.15pm, apparently for his remand hearing.

However Syahredzan, who was at the Jinjang police station, said the police were asked to complete their investigations by today and release Umar on a police bail.

“A remand order as sought by the police has been denied by the magistrate. The police have also been instructed to release Umar on police bail today and produce him in court tomorrow,” he told FMT.

Another lawyer, Azira Aziz, who is with Fahmi at the Dang Wangi station, said the police have yet to inform Fahmi on any investigations against him.

The lawyers also confirmed that they were not allowed to be with Fahmi and Umar when their statements were being recorded.

Later at about 3pm, the lawyers tweeted to state that Fahmi has been released on a police bail, with no conditions.

Taken for discussion

Earlier Azira told FMT that she was told that Fahmi and Umar were being taken in “for a discussion”.

“They were initially detained by the DBKL enforcement unit and then by the police.

“DBKL personnel told me that Fahmi and Umar were arrested for obstructing civil servants,” she said.

She added that both the activists were unharmed when they were detained.

“I was told that they have been brought to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters ‘for a discussion’,” added Azira.

According to eye-witnesses, Fahmi was seated when he was arrested while Umar was taken in for pulling Fahmi back during the arrest.

The Dataran occupiers have been camping in Dataran Merdeka since last week, urging for the right to reclaim public spaces and to practise participatory democracy. This morning DBKL took down at least 40 of their 62 tents.

Meanwhile more DBKL personnel and trucks had arrived at Dataran Merdeka since this morning. They had been joined by the Civil Defence unit as well. DBKL has also set up a mobile office at Dataran.

You can't be neutral on a moving train

Islam propagates amar makruf nahi munkar. Basically, this means we should uphold what is right and oppose what is evil, as mentioned in Surah al-’Imran, verse 3:110 of the Quran: “You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.”
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Today, I want to address my article to the Muslims. Non-Muslims can of course still read this article because this would certainly apply to all Malaysians whether they are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists or whatever, even if they are Atheists or Agnostics.
I have chosen the title You can't be neutral on a moving train from Howard Zinn’s memoirs, which was made into a documentary about his life. You can read a bit more about the man below.
I have previously also mentioned the name Yusuf Estes, an American Christian who converted to Islam in 1991. He was a Muslim Chaplain for the United States Bureau of Prisons through the 1990s and a Muslim Delegate to the United Nations World Peace Conference for Religious Leaders held at the U.N. in September 2000.
Yusuf Estes once said that he loves Islam but he hates Muslims. He also said that if you want to see true Islam at work then you would have to go to the Christian West. You will never find it in Muslim countries.
Now, Yusuf Estes was not born a Muslim. He converted to Islam at the age of 47. Hence he became a Muslim because he loved Islam and not because he happened to have been born a Muslim -- and therefore had no choice in the matter, like most Malaysian Muslims. And one thing you will find about these types of people, especially westerners or Caucasians such as Yusuf Islam a.k.a. Cat Stevens, Dr Gary Miller, etc., is that when they become Muslims they study Islam in depth, have a great understanding of Islam, and end up preaching Islam. In fact, these people can put most Malaysian Muslims to shame with their understanding and practice of Islam.
The reason I am mentioning the ‘credentials’ of these renowned Muslim converts is that these are not people to be taken lightly. They are ulamaks (scholars) in their own right. And many of these people have a very low opinion of Muslims. Yet they embrace Islam and serve Islam. But they are terribly unhappy with the conduct of Muslims and do not think that Muslims really understand Islam and most times do things contradictory to Islamic teachings.
Now read what Howard Zinn said in the graphic below:
What Howard Zinn said is actually very Islamic: our problem is civil obedience. We obey what we should disobey and disobey what we should obey. That is the problem facing the world today, Malaysia included.
Islam propagates amar makruf nahi munkar. Basically, this means we should uphold what is right and oppose what is evil, as mentioned in Surah al-’Imran, verse 3:110 of the Quran: “You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.”
Amar makruf nahi munkar is in fact mandatory in Islam. It is a must. And some scholars equate amar makruf nahi munkar to jihad, the real ‘holy war’ that Islam talks about, not blowing up innocent women and children, as what some misguided Muslims imagine jihad to be.
Okay, so what does all this have to do with each other? What is the relationship of these many bits of information? Simple, really, if we are true Muslims, then jihad is mandatory for us. And part of jihad is amar makruf nahi munkar, which in itself is also mandatory, as mentioned in the Quran. But are the Malaysian Muslims doing jihad and practicing amar makruf nahi munkar? You tell me.
There are many examples I can quote to prove that Malaysian Muslims are not true Muslims. Nevertheless, let me quote just one example: how we choose the government. In Islam, if a government is evil, then it is the duty of all Muslims to oppose the government -- mainly because we are supposed to oppose evil, hence if the government is evil then we must oppose the government.
But how many Malaysian Muslims see this? The government is chosen through the general elections. But the general elections are fraudulent. Hence we get a government that has not been legitimately chosen. A government chosen through fraud is a fraudulent government. In short, the fruit of a poisonous tree is poisonous.
On 28th April 2012, BERSIH 3.0 is going to organise a sit-in as a mark of protest against these fraudulent elections. Let us see how many Muslims turn out. There are supposed to be 16-17 million Muslims in Malaysia. Will we see 1% ‘true Muslims’ turning out on 28th April? Will we see 0.5% ‘true Muslims’ turning out on 28th April? I suspect we will not even see 0.3% Muslims turning out.
Yes, you can scream about Islam and foam at the mouth about gays and lesbians until the cows come home. At the end of the day, it is not how many times a day you pray or how many days a year you fast that makes you a true Muslim. It is whether you practice jihad and amar makruf nahi munkar. Don’t come and preach to me about this being haram and that being haram. That is fardu ain. That is between God and me and has nothing to do with you. Let us talk about fardu kifayah. Let us talk about your duties to the ummah. And fardu kifayah, if not done, gets transformed to fardu ain and will become the sin of every Muslim in that community if neglected.
That, my dear Muslims, is what true Islam really is. So what are you going to do on 28th April 2012? You tell me. You are the ones screaming and foaming at the mouth trying to defend ‘true Islam’.  You can’t be neutral on a moving train. No action means you endorse evil, you support evil, you are collaborating with evil, and you are also evil. That is the long and short of it.
Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-1988, he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States.
He wrote extensively about the civil rights and anti-war movements, as well as of the labour history of the United States. His memoir, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn's life and work.

Prostituting Islam

Yes, many Malays talk about Islam but they are actually prostituting Islam. And then they scream about aqidah when they themselves do not have aqidah. Such is the hypocrisy of those who claim to be defending Islam. They are actually following Satan and not the Prophet Muhammad.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
DBKL rejects JMM's application to use Dataran Merdeka
(Bernama) - The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has rejected an application by Malaysian Malay Network Organisation (JMM) to use Merdeka Square for a gathering to protest against free sex, gay, lesbianism, bisexualism and transexualism, scheduled today.
Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said the application was rejected because the activity was not in line with DBKL policy on the use of the Merdeka Square for national events.
"Other than that, the Royal Concert will be held at Merdeka Square today in conjunction with the installation of the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong and detailed preparations are being carried out towards this purpose," he said in a statement here.
He said JMM president Azwanddin Hamzah had sent his application to him dated April 10, 2012 but it was rejected by the DBKL Management deputy director-general Datuk Normah Malik via a letter dated April 16, 2012.  
Azwanddin, nevertheless, had submitted an appeal to Ahmad Fuad dated April 19, 2012, stating specific reasons why JMM's application should be considered.
"I have met him and decided that the application could not be considered because it is the policy of DBKL not to allow any protests and demonstrations to be held at Merdeka Square which has historical significance," he said.
Ahmad Fuad said the decision was in accordance with By-law 14, Local Government By-Laws (Merdeka Square) (Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur) 1992.
30 NGO Melayu berkumpul bantah LGBT, pertahan akidah Islam
"Usaha individu tertentu untuk menghalalkan LGBT akan memusnahkan negara dan nilai agama."
(Free Malaysia Today) - Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) mengetuai 30 NGO Melayu  berhimpun di padang bola Stadium Pusat Sukan UPM di Serdang  membantah usaha untuk pihak tertentu menghalalkan LGBT di negara ini.
Presiden JMM, Azwan Din Hamzah yang mengetuai perhimpunan itu berkata, “kita mahu menerangkan kepada orang ramai siapa dalang di sebalik LGBT.
“Usaha individu tertentu untuk menghalalkan LGBT akan memusnahkan negara dan nilai agama.
“Kami mahu menghentikannya. Kami tidak bertolak ansur dengan akidah (orang Islam),” katanya ketika dihubungi.
Perhimpunan tersebut yang diberi nama  perhimpunan aman anti seks bebas dan LGBT  bermula jam 3 petang  dan disertai ribuan orang termasuk mahasiswa.
Bagaimanapun, tidak ada penyertaan orang politik kerana menurut Azwan Din, ia tidak perlu kerana ini adalah perhimpunan mempertahankan akidah.
Pada 4 November lalu, polis mengharamkan semua aktiviti dalam penganjuran program Seksualiti Merdeka 2011 yang dijadualkan pada 13 November.
Program tersebut bagi menuntut kesaksamaan gender serta mengiktiraf pengamal seks songsang gay dan lesbian.
Polis turut menyiasat beberapa individu termasuk bekas Presiden Majlis Peguam, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan yang dijadual merasmikan program itu pada 9 November ini.
The Meaning of 'Aqidah'
The word 'aqidah' (عقيدة) is of the (morphological) form of (فعيلة) which has the meaning of (مفعول) (that to which something is done), meaning (معقودا عليه), that which is tied, knotted to, firmly fixed onto, held onto. It is derived from the root (عقد), which means to tie, fasten, join, bind, etc. --
The Malaysian Malay Network Organisation is protesting against free sex and LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders). Isn’t it ironical that they are protesting against ‘free’ sex and not ‘paid’ sex? Why is ‘free’ sex a sin whereas ‘paid’ sex is not? I know many Malays who pay for sex. Should these very concerned Malays not also protest against ‘paid’ sex? Why only ‘free’ sex? This is discrimination against those who do not charge money for sex.
Okay, I know what they mean by ‘free sex’. I am just being cheeky. What I really want to talk about is: why are these Malays protesting against free sex and LGBTs? Because, according to these Malays, free sex and LGBTs will destroy the aqidah of Muslims. Hence, good Muslims must protest against any acts that will result in the erosion of a Muslim’s aqidah.
Many Malays talk about aqidah. They scream and foam at the mouth in defence of aqidah. But what do they know of aqidah? Do they know the meaning of that word? And how does one defend aqidah? You cannot defend another person’s aqidah. Aqidah is an intangible thing so it is impossible to defend it.
Aqidah can be summarised as the rope that binds us. And it is the rope that binds us to the belief in God. If we do not believe in God, then our aqidah is destroyed.
But the belief in God comes in two forms. One is the belief in the existence of God, in that you believe that there is a God. Next would be that you believe in God, in that you have faith in the will of God.
Now, this may sound confusing but actually it is very simple. Let me put it another way. Say I appear before you in person. I shake your hand. I talk to you. You respond to what I say. And so on. Hence, I exist. I exist because you can see me, touch me, and hear me. So certainly I do exist. There is physical proof that I exist.
This is how you would believe in the existence of God. The only thing is you can’t see, touch or hear God. So you need to believe in God based on your faith. You can’t see, touch or hear God but you still believe that God exists in spite of the ‘lack of evidence’. So this belief has to be based on aqidah and not on the evidence that you can see, touch or hear.
That is one part of aqidah.
Nevertheless, although you may believe that I do exist, this does not mean you believe in me. If I were to say that if you follow me and support me, I can guarantee you a better Malaysia. You might not believe me. You may think that it is impossible for me to guarantee you a better Malaysia.
Who is Raja Petra Kamarudin? He is no one. He is only a Blogger. He does not even live in Malaysia any more. So how can Raja Petra Kamarudin guarantee me a better Malaysia?
So you do not believe in me. You think that I am not able to guarantee you a better Malaysia. You would rather believe in Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar is the opposition leader. He is going to lead Pakatan Rakyat in the next general election. And if Pakatan Rakyat wins the general election, then Anwar is going to be the next Prime Minister.
Hence, Anwar Ibrahim and not Raja Petra Kamarudin can deliver this promise of a better Malaysia. You do not believe that I can do that. So you do not believe in me. In short, you have faith in Anwar, not in me.
Can you see that ‘believe in’ and ‘belief in the existence of’ are two separate issues? And if you have aqidah, then you must not only believe in the existence of God but also believe in God.
Let me explain it this way. You may believe in the existence of God and you think that you also believe in God. That may be true for the first part but is it also true for the second part? Sure, you believe in the existence of God. But do you also believe in God?
Most Malays believe in the existence of God but they do not believe in God. And most Malays are not aware that they do not believe in God. Hence, most Malays do not have aqidah. Only that they are not aware of it.
To believe in God you must also believe that ultimately everything that happens is God’s will. God plans and decides what happens. We have no power over that. The day we are born is decided by God. Where we are born is decided by God. Whether we are born a Malay, German, Japanese, or whatever, is decided by God. How, when and where we die is also decided by God. We cannot change the manner in how we die or lengthen our stay on earth by even one second. That is God’s will, which has already been decided before we were born.
A person who has aqidah would understand and accept this. That is all God’s will and there is nothing we can do to change what God has willed. But how many Malays understand and accept this? In short, how many Malays really have aqidah?
Why were you born a poor, Malay, Muslim? Why weren’t you born a rich, Chinese, Christian? Hence, since you were born a poor, Malay, Muslim you must do everything you can to grab some of this wealth from the rich, Chinese, Christian. You uphold Ketuanan Melayu. You propagate the New Economic Policy. You support a racist political party. You give special preferences to the Malays and deny the non-Malays whatever opportunities you can deny them.
In short, God made you a poor, Malay, Muslim so you must correct this ‘mistake’ by taking from the rich what has been denied you by God.
Why was God so unfair to you? Why did God make you a poor, Malay, Muslim instead of a rich, Chinese, Christian? And since God made this ‘error’ then you need to rectify this error by grabbing whatever you can grab even if you need to be a corrupt civil servant, policeman or politician.
Hence, you do not believe in God. You do not accept the will of God. You need to become a thief and a racist and grab as much wealth as you can which you regard as having been denied you. And it does not matter if you need to resort to sinful ways in grabbing this wealth. If you work hard you will never become wealthy like the rich, Chinese, Christian. So you need to be crooked to become rich. Or else you will remain a poor, Malay, Muslim.
How many Malays can claim to have aqidah and accept the will of God? How many Malays can work hard and honest and leave the rest to God’s will? How many Malays can say that if God wants me to be rich then I will be rich but if God wants me to be poor then I will remain poor?
That is aqidah.
Demonstrating against free sex and LGBTs is not going to strengthen a Muslim’s aqidah. They need to demonstrate against discrimination, unfairness, injustice, racism, corruption, abuse of power, fraud, and whatnot. Those are the things that destroy a Muslim’s aqidah.
Take the general elections as another example. Malaysia has already decided that we shall choose the government by popular votes and through a general election. Hence it is God’s will that the majority rules. But we will not accept God’s will. We rig the elections and perpetuate fraud to make sure that the minority would rule over the majority. We reject God’s will by cheating to win.
Is this the mark of Malays with aqidah? How can you claim to have aqidah when you cannot accept God’s will? And if it is God’s will that someone else were to rule over us then this is God’s will. A person with aqidah would accept God’s will. They would not cheat and try to rule through fraud. It is like saying that since God made me poor then I will rob a bank or kidnap and murder to get rich.
Is this aqidah?
Yes, many Malays talk about Islam but they are actually prostituting Islam. And then they scream about aqidah when they themselves do not have aqidah. Such is the hypocrisy of those who claim to be defending Islam. They are actually following Satan and not the Prophet Muhammad.

Stage Set for Malaysian Electoral Confrontation

Are we set for another one of these?
Are we set for another one of these?
Street theatre intensifies prior to expected election
(Asia Sentinel) Rejection of a request by the electoral reform group Bersih to hold an April 28 sit-in at Dataran Merdeka (Indepedence Square) is a gamble that could turn into a public relations disaster for the Malaysian government, observers in Kuala Lumpur say.

Representatives of the Kuala Lumpur City Council Friday notified Bersih, a coalition of some 150-odd organizations demanding what they term as free and fair elections, that the permit wouldn’t be granted.

The Bersih 3.0 protest hadn’t been gaining the traction that its predecessor did in July of 2011, when what the organization says were 50,000 marchers were set upon by police with water cannons and tear gas. The resultant outcry in the international press and by human rights organizations shaved 20 percentage points off Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s popularity in public opinion polls.

Najib was forced to go onto the offensive, offering a series of amendments or replacements for unpopular laws including the Internal Security Act, the Publications and Printing Presses Act and several others. His popularity has since rebounded from a low of 59 percent in the wake of the crackdown. It is difficult to imagine that with an election believed to be a month or two away he would dare that kind of opprobrium again.

The Barisan Nasional is currently pulling out all the stops to get the polls underway, with preparations “in full swing,” one United Malays National Organization party operative recently told Asia Sentinel. Najib’s personal popularity, currently at 69 percent, is built on improving public confidence in the general economy and considerable pump-priming with a budget built to please the rakyat, or public. The government can probably expect to stay in power, political observers say, although there is little chance of regaining the historic two-thirds majority in parliament that the coalition had held since independence until 2008.

But while Najib may be personally popular, the Barisan is not. The Malaysian Chinese Association, the second biggest party in the government, is beset with a massive scandal over construction of the Port Klang Free Zone, which is mired in billions of ringgit of debt. The Merdeka Center poll that gave Najib a comfortable lead found that fully a third of those who thought he was doing a good job would vote for the Pakatan Rakyat, the three-party opposition coalition made up of the ethnic Chinese Democratic Action Party, the Islamic fundamentalist Parti Islam se-Malaysia, and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s own Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or People’s Justice Party, largely made up of urban ethnic Malays.

The thinking of those gambling on shutting down the rally apparently is that Dataran Merdeka is not listed among the places permitted under the Peaceful Assembly Act which was only recently passed by the Dewan Rakyat. Jaringan Melayu, a Malay NGO, was recently banned from protesting there. The theory is that enough people will see Bersih as lawbreakers that they will be turned off by their tactics.

“Why does Bersih think they can break the law and hold the government to ransom?” asked an UMNO source. “Are they above everyone else? Law abiding citizens have to give way?”
In the practice of street politics, however, that hardly matters.

“This Bersih sit-in was not getting the kind of attention that last year’s did, and in fact last year’s only got going after the authorities came down hard on the organizers and started blocking roads, having road blocks on the highways from the north and south leading to KL, etc.,” a Kuala Lumpur businessman told Asia Sentinel. “That created the mood with grouches, those unhappy with the hardline approach, those who for any reason were unhappy with the Barisan Nasional, to try to sneak past the road blocks. The crackdown is what made that rally iconic.”

In effect, Bersih, also known as the coalition for free and fair elections, is thus looking for the same kind of reaction from the government. Earlier, it appeared they weren’t going to get it. Hishamuddin Hussein, the minister for home affairs, said earlier that the rally hadn’t apparently caught fire like the previous one, that it was not a security threat and “has little traction with the people"

“But by not giving them the permit, and knowing that these guys will go ahead and do the sit-in anyway, the city has again ignited the fuse which will make even ordinary people turn up for the protest,” the businessman said.

Apparently anger has already been rising because thugs apparently linked to UMNO roughed up student demonstrators at the same location Thursday.

“I don’t understand it actually – it looks like the authorities want to turn public opinion against themselves,” the businessman said. Public opinion could also be affected by a demand by Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia, or Perkasa, a Malay supremacy NGO closely linked to UMNO, to be given a police permit to rally at 9:30 am on the same day at Dataran Merdeka, allegedly to defend the country’s monarchy.

Ibrahim Ali, Perkasa’s firebrand leader, has repeatedly threatened violence against opposition figures over so-called ketuanan Melayu, translated roughly as Malays first, or ethnic Malay primacy in government and society.

Bersih’s steering committee was notified of the decision to ban the sit-in Friday morning. Steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah told local reporters the city said the event is not suitable to be held at the Independence Square, which is to be used only for events of “national level" such as celebrations.

"We regret to inform that your application cannot be approved as the activity intended is unsuitable to be used in Dataran Merdeka as stipulated by the (the city), the letter said. “Only national level events are allowed at the Dataran like the National Day celebration and Federal Territories Day."

Responding to the rejection, Ambiga Sreenavasan, former head of the Malaysian Bar Council and one of Bersih’s leaders, told local reporters she was “not surprised” and that the sit-in will proceed as scheduled.

She added that the coalition will not appeal the decision, and that it will continue with preparations including dealing with police who have asked the NGO to come in to fill in some forms.

“If there are any obstructions (by city officials) on the day, we will negotiate with them,” she said.

Bersih is organizing the event after charging that the government and the Election Commission refused to implement the coalition's eight demands to clean up what they regard as practices designed to thwart the opposition’s chances for a fair election.

Himpunan Hijau, a protest group seeking to stop the operation of an Australia-owned rare-earths processing plant in based in Kuantan on the east coast, is expected to join the Bersih rally. The opposition has made stopping the plant a major campaign issue. Himpunan Hijau held a rally attended by thousands in Kuantan earlier this year.

What gives?

By Haris Ibrahim,

“I’m trying to give myself 101 reasons why to drag my ass to vote BUT before I do that, where were the Pakatan representatives when the bill was ram through?” – excerpt from a comment by Tok Rojak to the ‘reap what we sow’ post.
I checked Hansard, the official records of proceedings in parliament.
Page 2 of Hansard for 19th April reveals that the bill to amend the Election Offences Act, 1954 came up for second reading on the day.
The Hansard report for 19th April, in PDF, is linked below.
Hansard Report for 19042012
The Hansard reports for the 2 preceding days, 17th and 18th ( item 6 on page 2 of both reports ) both reflect that the same bill had been laid before the House for 1st reading.
Both reports, also in PDF, are linked below.
Hansard report for 17042012
Hansard report for 18042012
Now I confess that my understanding of the various stages of the reading of a bill in parliament is premised on what I learnt in constitutional law class some 30 years ago, but, if my memory serves me well, I believe the 1st reading is a mere formality that entails practically no debate whatsoever.
However, what it does mean is that the bill has formally been laid before members of the House.
In plain language, MPs would have been aware, theoretically at least, of the bill and its contents, by the 17th.
I, of course, stand to be corrected on this, but if I am right, why is it that there was no outcry taken to the media by the opposition members of parliament before the bill went into second reading which, I am given to understand, was late on Thursday night?
Could you ask your opposition MPs, please?
I’ve sms’d a few and am waiting for a response.


‘Unwise for Umno to axe Najib after GE’

Nigel Aw |Malaysiakini

Even if the BN wins the next general election but losses more seats, it would still be unwise for Umno to unseat Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as they did with his predecessor, says prominent author Barry Wain.

This, he said, is because the premier is popular among the people and the ruling coalition and government are dependent on his star power.

“In the event if Najib still wins the election but drops say a dozen seats, he could come under pressure, but it is difficult because Najib is personally popular.

“He is extremely popular, far more popular than Umno, the government and the BN.

“What they have going for them now in terms of electoral appeal is Najib,” Wain (left) said at a talk organised by the Foreign Correspondents Club Malaysia (FCCM) in Kuala Lumpur.

Former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had faced an internal rebellion within Umno even after leading the ruling coalition to a historical victory in 2004 when hit by the disastrous debacle of 2008 – the worst performance since the Barisan Nasional was born in 1972.

Speaking to some 30 FCCM members, the former Wall Street Journal Asia editor, who has resided in Asia for almost 40 years, said another reason Umno should consider retaining Najib is the issue of succession.

“If they (Umno) try to get rid of him, it is not an easy one because the logical person to put, if going by precedent, would be deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

“He is not a terribly attractive figure to the public and is fairly devious in the public realm,” said Wain, who is writer-in-residence at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Right-wing Umno’s death knell?

Muhyiddin, he said, is only popular among the right-wing section of Umno and if these elements insist on ousting Najib, the repercussion for the party would be serious.

“It could be that the right-wing is so inward looking … they are so determined to go their own way and would just put him (Muhyiddin) there regardless, then I think they will get a big shock in the subsequent election,” he said.

There aren’t many obvious candidates out there who could take over the helm as premier and therefore any attempt to replace the incumbent must be decided with care, he added.

Wain had in 2010 had attracted the Home Ministry’s spotlight after his book Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulence Times was withheld for five months for allegedly “insulting government leaders and Malay rulers”.

However, Wain this year had released the second edition of the book with a new chapter to update Mahathir’s political acitivities after retirement and in response to the former premier’s memoirs, Doctor in the House.

The new chapter also deals with what Wain described as the “chaotic and primitive approach to the free flow of information” when the Home Ministry initially attempted to censor the book.

Gathering allowed but not at Dataran Merdeka, says Hishammuddin

The Star 

PUTRAJAYA: The authorities will allow gatherings to be held as stipulated under the Peaceful Assembly Act and will not deal with them as they did previous assemblies, including Bersih 1.0 and Bersih 2.0.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein gave this assurance ahead of Bersih 3.0 this weekend. He, however, said the gathering should not be held in Dataran Merdeka because the landowner, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), would not allow it.

The Home Minister said the authorities had allowed DBKL to make the decision after determining that there would be no security issue involved.

“DBKL has received three applications to gather in Dataran Merdeka, including one from Bersih 3.0.

“I expect them to be consistent in their decision (not to allow such gatherings) but that should not stop the organisers from looking for other venues.

“It is not a security issue. So if there were to be an increase in police presence (on that day), it is only to assist those who are going to the gathering. We have made clear our stand that we allow peaceful assembly. We walk the talk.”

Bersih 3.0 was announced following the release of the final report by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms last month. The organisers of Bersih 3.0 claimed the report did not sufficiently address issues on the electoral roll.

It was reported that Bersih 3.0 organisers had received a letter signed by DBKL deputy director-general Datuk Normah Malik, informing them that Dataran Merdeka could only be used for national events.

On the new approach the authorities are taking in dealing with Bersih 3.0, Hishammuddin said the Peaceful Assembly Act was now in place to give clear guidelines on gatherings of this nature.

“I have made it clear that I want to allow them to have the assembly as long as it is peaceful and provided that we are responsible for our action. This is an approach that comes with the maturity of our democracy and the progress of a society,” he added.

Hishammuddin conceded that the authorities might have overreacted when dealing with Bersih 1.0, declaring the movement illegal and banning the wearing of yellow T-shirts.

“Yes, I think maybe we overdid it. But what happened in London (during the riots) when it was on fire? There was a lot of public outcry because of the lack of reaction from the enforcement agencies. If something went wrong during Bersih 2.0, the allegation that we were overreacting could well have been reversed.

“But we have learned from it. For Bersih 3.0, we now have the statute. It is not about power, but the Act has given me the confidence to carry out my duties wisely and responsibly, based on the law,” he said.

On the political transformation, which includes repealing the Internal Security Act, Hishammuddin said: “It has been a painful journey that required a lot of courage.”

“However, it had to be done, and now that it's done, I am relieved.

“The changing landscape, both global and national, has forced us to re-look at ourselves,” he added.

“We are moving forward and I really believe this transformation reflects not only courage, but also the realisation that we need to do it.”

Scorpene’s Sting: Malaysia’s Bribery & Murder Scandal

Scorpene TAR
Malaysian Scorpene
(click to view full)
The Franco-Spanish Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarine competes on the global market against an array of competitors, foremost of which is ThyssenKrupp HDW’s U209/212/214 family. In June 2002, the Malaysian government signed a EUR 1 billion contract with Armaris (now DCNS) and Spanish naval shipbuilder Izar (now Navantia) for 2 SSK Scorpenes and associated support and training. Both submarines have been delivered to Malaysia, though there have been some technical problems.
Within Malaysia, the sale has been compromised by an ongoing trial and set of legal actions around the public kidnapping and private execution of Mongolian modeling student, translator, and paramour Altantuya Shaariibuu. Full and impartial accountability for public figures is not a prominent feature of Malaysian justice, but French Journalist Arnaud Dubus added to the pressure with a March 5/09 report in France’s Liberation, “Un cadavre très dérangeant: L’étrange affaire du meurtre d’une interprète mongole qui gène le pouvoir en Malaisie” (Page 30-31). It named very prominent names, offers details, and reveals the contents of documents that Malaysian courts have refused to admit…

Extreme Prejudice: the Altantuya Case

The case took a dramatic turn when the victim was closely connected to EUR 114 million in “commission” payments to Perimekar, a firm owned by a close associate of Malaysia’s current Defence Minister and impending Prime Minister. The monies were paid by Armaris (now DCNS) for for “support and coordination services,” a term that may bring to mind the murder of Taiwanese Captain Yin Ching-feng in connection with a bribery scandal involving Taiwan’s DCNS frigates.
If the documents are true, Altantuya was murdered on the orders of Abdul Razak Baginda. Baginda is a close associate of Najib Razak, who was Malaysia’s Deputy PM and Minister of Defence, and now Prime Minister. Baginda has been acquitted in a Malaysian court, but Razak himself has been implicated in the associated bribery deal, and Dubus’ report includes details of text messages Baginda was reportedly sent by Razak, which strongly imply efforts by Razak to cover up the case and interfere with police investigations.
The motive for Altantuya’s death was reportedly twofold: EUR 500,000 she wished to claim as her share of the “commission” for the submarines, and the public embarrassment caused to Baginda’s marriage after his paramour tried to collect. The kidnapping was carried out by by agents of the Malaysian Special Branch police, in broad daylight, in front of Baginda’s house, with witnesses present. Malaysian sources have not published full details, but media organizations outside of Malaysia have.
As is usually true in these operations, it’s the small details that matter. The entire wet operation came undone over the non-payment of Altantuya Shaariibuu’s cab fare. The taxi driver hired by Altantuya for the day did not appreciate that his passenger was kidnapped under his eyes, without payment for the fare. He took note of the registration plate of the kidnapper’s car – and filed a complaint at the local police station. This established that the kidnappers’ car was a government vehicle, and fingered its owners.
Somewhere, a cadre of retired Bulgarian KDS professionals are shaking their heads, and wondering what’s wrong with the kids today.

Events & Developments

Scorpene cutaway
(click to view full)
SSK Scorpene OHiggins CutawayMarch 18/12: After 2 years of preliminary investigation by French police, France appoints a pair of magistrates to investigate allegations of bribery in Malaysia. Murder is beyond their purview, but France agreed to the OECD anti-bribery convention in 2000, and a 2007 French law created maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, and/or a fine of 150 million euros. As the Asia Sentinel puts it:
“At the heart of the story are allegations of a massive scandal involving not only Malaysian officials but top French politicians and arms purchases in Pakistan, Taiwan, India, Chile, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and other countries as DCNS geared up to sell naval equipment across the planet. The allegations include blackmail, kickbacks, a string of murders in Pakistan, Taiwan and Malaysia and involvement of such top figures as former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur and others.”
Different magistrates are investigating different aspects, and magistrates Serge Tournaire and Roger Le Loire will deal with Malaysia. Under the French civil system, these judges are effectively independent investigators, with the power to subpoena witnesses and conduct international surveys. Even so, DCNS has managed to stonewall police searches of key files using “military secrets” claims, and aspects of the DCNS corruption scandal touch both of France’s major parties. That ensures powerful protectors, and indeed, none of the corruption cases against DCNS have been concluded in French courts. The inability to plea bargain has something to do with that as well, but it is not the whole story.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, the appeal of the two bodyguards sentenced to death for the Altantuya murder has passed its 2nd year, and has been delayed again until after expected elections. Asia Sentinel | Malaysia Today.
July 22-23/11: French lawyer Willian Bourdon is detained at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and subsequently deported for ‘violating the terms of his visa.’ He is acting for the Malaysian NGO Suaram (Voice of the People) as their French legal representative.
It was Suaram who pressed the French government to open a probe into the deal. French investigators have been poring over DCNS records for months, but there area couple of legal hurdles. One is whether an NGO can act as a complainant in a bribery investigation, which this is. For France, the question is not one of murder, which is outside their jurisdiction, but of bribery, which is within it. If the NGO is deemed to have standing, the investigation would move forward and the documents found to date could become legally relevant. Malaysian PKR party VP and sitting MP Nurul Izzah Anwar was more blunt, at a a 500 guest “Ops Scorpene” fundraising dinner in Penang:
“She claims that Bourdon may have had access to crucial documents that may link Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to the controversial Scorpene submarine purchases. “But the French court will provide public access to the investigation papers when the case goes on trial in September,” claimed Nurul at the Ops Scorpene fund raising dinner in Petaling Jaya yesterday…. hosted by Nurul’s aide, Fahmi Fadzil.”
In response, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has “warned certain quarters against running a smear campaign over alleged irregularities” in the 2002 deal. Malaysia’s official Bernama agency | Agence France Presse | Asia Sentinel | Free Malaysia Today | Malaysia Kini | Yahoo News Malaysia.
June 2/11: An April 2009 diplomatic cable posted on WikiLeaks adds another key associate of Prime Minister Najib to the Scorpene Scandal, but it’s indirect. The cable looks at business leaders who are close to PM Najib Razak and his family, and mentions “Lodin Wok Kamarudin, Chief of Armed Forces Fund Board” (LTAT) in passing. The key is his involvement in a company called Perimekar, which acted as a go-between for the deal, and appears to have been set up to distribute kickbacks from it. Lodin Wok was Boustead Holdings Bhd’s deputy chair, when the firm held a 20% stake in Perimekar along with LTAT. He also sat on the board of Affin Bank Bhd, one of Perimekar’s bankers, and was 1 of Perimekar’s 5 directors. Boustead DCNS Naval Corp itself is a 60-40 joint venture formed in 2009 between BHIC Defence Technologies (Boustead firm, chair: Lodin Wok) and DCNS. The firm received a RM 532 million contract for Scorpene support services from 2010 to 2015, which makes sense, but it’s also worth noting that “support contracts” are themselves a primary vector for laundering kickbacks in many 3rd world countries.
Given his position, and Malaysia’s deeply entrenched crony capitalist structure, it isn’t surprising that Lodin Wok would be involved in other firms related to the deal. On the other hand, that web of ties may also make him a key figure tying DCNS to any corruption in Malaysia. WikiLeaks | National Express Malaysia | National Express Malaysia: Celine Boileau report.
Nov 3/10: Malaysian authorities formally close the case, and the investigation, without result. In “Closing the Books on Murder in Malaysia,” the Asia Sentinel recaps the case and says:
“The closure of the case appears to write the final chapter in one of Malaysia’s most sensational murder cases… and a trial that appeared to be rigged to keep prosecutors as far as possible away from Najib, then the deputy prime minister [DID: now Prime Minister], and his wife, Rosmah Mansor…. De facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz, in a written statement to parliament, said the case was closed because [private investigator] Balasubramaniam had given conflicting statutory declarations, and that anyway, they didn’t affect the trial of two of Najib’s personal bodyguards and Abdul Razak Baginda [DID: who fled abroad], which ended in April of 2009 after a 159-day trial in which the bodyguards were sentenced to death. They are appealing the verdict, with suspicions running high that they will somehow be given their freedom in exchange for their silence on whoever ordered them to kill the woman.”
A French team continues to probe the sale of the subs to Malaysia, and whether kickbacks were paid to top French and Malaysian politicians. Note that DCNS is majority owned by the French state, which sees its role as an export promoter. Malaysia’s Bernama national press agency | Asia Sentinel | Malaysia Kini: reactions | Canada’s Vancouver Sun.
March 16/09: The case takes another turn, as Malaysia’s ruling party suspends an opposition lawmaker for a year, after he called Razak a murderer and demanded that he answer questions about his role in the affair. International Herald Tribune.
March 5/09: France’s Liberation newspaper publishes “Un cadavre très dérangeant: L’étrange affaire du meurtre d’une interprète mongole qui gène le pouvoir en Malaisie”, setting forth the detailed allegations. See: Liberation report and link | Malaysian SAPP Progressive Party report | Asia Sentinel | The Nation | UK’s Times Online | | Malaysia’s New Straits Times refers to the affair as a political hatchet job – but the article itself is findable via Liberation’s web site, contrary to this report’s claims | Asia Sentinel in Oct 2007, already concerned with the case’s handling and long delays.

Secretary's Murder Might Have Been Fuelled By Revenge - Police

JOHOR BAHARU, April 22 (Bernama) -- The murder of a secretary whose body was found at a flat unit in Bandar Baru Permas Jaya here yesterday, might have been fueled by revenge.

Initial police investigations revealed that Kam Huey Lan, 46, who sustained stab and slash wounds in the chest and neck, had been harrassed by a group of men.

The victim had lodged a police report over the harassment recently.

In confirming the report, South Johor Baharu police deputy chief Supt Abdul Samad Salleh said the police were trying to determine if the harrassment led to Kam's murder.