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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Muslim woman beat girl, 10, with steel ladle for not reading enough of Koran

Asia Parveen, 31 who beat the child with a metal cooking spoon is facing a possible jail sentence
Asia Parveen, 31 who beat the child with a metal cooking spoon is facing a possible jail sentence

A Muslim woman who repeatedly beat a 10-year-old girl with a steel ladle for not reading enough verses of the Koran is facing jail today.

Asia Parveen, 31 brandished a knife at the child after accusing her of lying about her prayers.

Parveen, who was five months pregnant at the time, also forced the girl to stand with her arms outstretched for four hours, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, escaped from the house in Stoke Newington, north London, and police found her alone at a bus stop in Waltham Forest, east London, almost four hours later in the early hours of the morning.

Doctors identified 56 injuries when she was examined at hospital,

Parveen, who is a mother-of-three, accepted causing some of the injuries with the ten inch cooking spoon but said others must have been caused when the girl 'fell over.'

Prosecutor Tom Nicholson told the court an argument started between Parveen and the girl on August 15 last year during Ramadan.

'The girl was praying from the Koran and Ms Parveen accused her of lying about how many of the verses she had read,' he said.
Mother-of-three Asia Parveen outside Snaresbrook Crown Court where she was let out on bail before sentencing
Mother-of-three Asia Parveen outside Snaresbrook Crown Court where she was let out on bail before sentencing

'She was 10 at the time. Ms Parveen took a metal spoon about 10 inches in size and the Crown's case is that she hit the child with it repeatedly over a half an hour period, causing extensive bruising over both arms, her legs and head.

'The Crown's case is that Ms Parveen said she was going to kill the girl and ran to get a knife from the kitchen.

'The girl had no alternative but to leave at around 10pm.

'She got a bus and a train and it was about 1.50am when the police found her at a bus stop in Broadway Parade, Waltham Forest.

'She was on her own and extremely cold. She was taken to hospital and an examination found she had suffered 56 injuries.'

Parveen admitted a single count of child cruelty but insisted that she only used the spoon once or twice on the girl's arms and bottom.

She claimed the other injuries had been the result of the girl falling over. Parveen also denied threatening to kill the 10-year-old or picking up a knife.

Judge Martyn Zeidman accepted Parveen's basis of plea, saying it would not be in the public interest for the child to give evidence.

'The defendant has accepted she behaved in the wrong way towards the girl and there is absolutely no doubt that she behaved disgracefully,' the judge said.

'Before the violence, she says had been asked to stretch her arms up in the air for a period of four hours.

'She says she was hit all over with a spoon on her arms, legs, head and back about 20 times.

'The basis of plea is that the defendant only admits causing injuries to the girl's arms and bottom.

'On the face of it, the defence assertion is incredible. But I don't regard it in the public interest to make the child give evidence.

'In any view, the defendant has behaved in an absolutely disgraceful way, and what an irony that the child was encouraged to behave in a godly fashion when this was far from godly.

'But I undertake to sentence the defendant on her version of events and avoid further distress to the child.'

Adjourning the case until June 15 for reports, Judge Zeidman told Parveen: 'I'm releasing you on bail but that gives no indication on what will be the eventual sentence.

'All options are open so you must not assume that because you got bail you will necessarily avoid an immediate prison sentence.'

Parveen, of Hackney, north London, will be sentenced on June 15.

Child bride Sahar Gul, 15, was tortured by her in-laws, who tried to force her into prostitution.

Kabul - The in-laws of a child bride who became the bruised and bloodied face of women's rights in Afghanistan have been sentenced to 10 years in prison for torture, abuse and human rights violations, a judge said Saturday.

The plight of 15-year-old Sahar Gul captivated the nation and set off a storm of international condemnation when it came to light in late December. Officials said her husband's family kept her in a basement for six months after her arranged marriage, ripping out her fingernails, breaking her fingers and torturing her with hot irons in an attempt to force her into prostitution. She was rescued by police in Baghlan province.

Gul's husband's father, mother and sister were each sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in Kabul on Tuesday, presiding judge Sibghatullah Razi said. Also found guilty were Gul's husband, a member of the Afghan army, and her brother-in-law, both of whom have been on the run since her case became public, Razi said. He said the men will be sentenced when they are captured.

Gul was present for the decision, telling the court that she wanted her in-laws severely punished for what they had put her through, Razi said. She has filed an appeal for a longer sentence with the help of the Women for Afghan Women, a group that works for women's rights and has been caring for the teenager since her rescue.

"Of course we are not happy with the court's decision," said Huma Safi, program manager for the group.

Gul's case has prompted calls for more efforts to strengthen women's rights and end underage marriage. The marriage age in Afghanistan is 16, but the United Nations agency UN Women estimates that half of all girls are forced to marry under age 15.

There has been progress in women's rights since the 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban regime, which banned girls' schools and prevented women from leaving the house unless accompanied by a male relative.

But ending abuse remains a huge challenge in Afghanistan's patriarchal society, where traditional practices include child marriage, giving girls away to settle debts or pay for their relatives' crimes and so-called honor killings in which women seen as disgracing their families are murdered by their relatives.

Haram to join demos, rules fatwa panel

Rioting, causing disturbances and damaging public property are all forbidden by Islam, says the National Fatwa Committee.

SEPANG: The National Fatwa Committee has decided that it is “haram” (not permissible) for Muslims to participate in any gathering or demonstration that is unproductive, is against the law or causes disturbance in the country.

It chairman Prof Emeritus Abdul Shukor Husin said the committee viewed seriously this issue as some Muslims had resorted to rioting during the Bersih 3.0 street demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.

“Rioting, causing disturbances and damaging public property are all forbidden by Islam. This also applies to any intention to topple a duly elected government by organising such demonstrations.

“No one is exempted, and cannot support any efforts that can cause harm, anxiety or unrest among Muslims to the point of the community becoming split, what more if there is bloodshed,” he told reporters after chairing the 99th meeting of the committee here today.

As such, he said Muslims who participated in such demonstrations must repent because Islam never called on its followers to resort to any action that could threaten people’s lives just to pursue a specific agenda.

Abdul Shukor said as the country practised democracy, much more useful discussion channels could be implemented without having to sacrifice the peace in the country.

He said the meeting also discussed the issue of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders and decided that no fatwa (edict) was needed on it as it was clearly “haram” in Islam.

Besides avoiding unnatural sex, Abdul Shukor also reminded Muslims not to be directly or indirectly involved in any movement or campaign that supported LGBTs.

“Even showing support or sympathy (for LGBTs) is “haram”. It is the duty of all Muslims to rid this menace and if we support something that is not good, it can be said we are abbetting it which is a sin,” he said.

He added that idolising leaders who supported LGBTs should also be avoided because Islam itself had listed the qualities to look for in a leader which, among others, were good morals, piety, being knowledgeable and trustworthy.

He said the meeting also called on the authorities to act to stop the menace (LGBTs) from spreading.

Abdul Shukor also advised leaders, individuals and the media to stop openly revealing detestable things allegedly committed by certain parties as Islam prohibted this and that it was better to leave it to the authorities to handle.


Najib: Demos okay, but stay within the law

BN government practised open democracy and everyone's rights is protected, says the prime minister.

ROMPIN: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the government has no objections to demonstrations as long they did not transgress the country’s laws.

He said the Barisan Nasional (BN) government practised open democracy and everyone’s rights was protected under existing laws.

“We have no objections if you want to hold a peaceful demonstration, we practise open democracy, everyone has rights, including the opposition, but the country’s laws must be respected.

“But do it peacefully, like civilised people, not go wild and jump around as though you have lost your senses,” he said at an “Evening with the Prime Minister” event at Dataran Rompin which was attended by some 10,000 people despite heavy rain, here today.

Also present were the prime minister’s wife Rosmah Mansor, Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob and Rompin MP Jamaluddin Jarjis.

Referring to the Bersih 3.0 rally in the federal capital on April 29 that turned violent, Najib said he was disappointed that some of the participants did not only not respect the laws, but also refused to heed police’s orders and even attacked policemen.

He said this was aimed at tarnishing the image of the police and draw the attention of the international media to claim that Malaysian police were brutal.

“We told them to hold the rally in a stadium, but they wanted to bring the participants to the streets.

“Maybe they were unhappy that if held in the stadium, foreign media like Al-Jazeera, CNN and BBC would not be interested,” he said.

On another note, Najib said the BN would continue its struggle to ensure the wellbeing of Malaysians and bring about a transformation in their lives, especially for people living in rural areas and Felda settlements.

“In a day or two we will be making a major announcement on a windfall for Felda settlers. However, we are not looking only into the wellbeing of Felda settlers, we will also try to increase the allocation for people living in kampungs so that they too can have even better lives,” he said.

- Bernama

Tunku Aziz asked to quit

(Malaysian Digest) - Democratic Action Party (DAP) vice chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim has been asked to leave the party for allegedly not toeing the party’s line.

Selangor DAP assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah M Manoharan is of the opinion that Tunku Aziz, who is also a Senator, should quit DAP if he doesn’t agree with the party’s stance on the Bersih street demonstrations.

Manoharan told The Mole: "Tunku Abdul Aziz should leave the party if he cannot agree with us, especially on Bersih."

"If he is really a man of honor, he should not hold on to his Senator post too. Leave it and do not wait for his term to expire."

In a scathing attack, Manoharan accused his vice president of not appreciating the struggles of DAP leaders in championing human rights, and disregarded the honor of senatorship awarded to him by the party.

"Despite him being aware that he was breaking the party's stand on the matter, I find it unacceptable for him to continue defying the party and keeps reiterating his stand," Manoharan stressed.

Manoharan who had previously been reprimanded by the DAP disciplinary committee for his slur against Jalur Gemilang was commenting on Tunku Abdul Aziz's statement on Saturday, where he continued to criticize Bersih's organizers for allowing politicians to hijack the demonstration and for solely blaming the police force for the clashes.

"Tunku Aziz was not there (at the demonstration). What does he know about what had transpired? It is outrageously wrong for Tunku Abdul Aziz to comment in such manner.

"DAP disciplinary committee should have taken stern action against Tunku Aziz when he first commented about Bersih 3.0 last week.

"I still believe it is the police who should be blamed and take the responsibility over what happened,” Manoharan added.

Tunku Abdul Aziz had said yesterday that the Bersih organizers should look at themselves first before being so quick to blame the police for last Saturday's violence, when they had allowed politicians to hijack the demonstration.

The Mole reported on Tuesday that DAP had no plan for any disciplinary action against Tunku Abdul Aziz.

Tunku Aziz’s decision to join DAP in 2008 was lauded by many DAP leaders including its national publicity secretary Tony Pua, who once wrote that getting Tunku Abdul Aziz, whom many regard as a towering Malaysian in the party as a big catch.

However due to his latest remarks against the Bersih 3.0 demonstrations, Tunku Abdul Aziz was called an embarrassment to the DAP by the party’s secretary general Lim Guan Eng.

Bersih 3.0 steering committee Wong Chin Huat when contacted said he was surprised with Tunku Abdul Aziz's statement.

“Coming from a police family, Tunku (Abdul Aziz) should not be defending the violence.

"Is he saying just because politicians spoke at the event, it is justified for any political violence? Are the police paid to beat the politicians and protesters?" Wong questioned, while blaming the police for the alleged violence at the demonstration that turned into riots...

Wong also questioned why the uniformed police were stationed at the barricades instead of the FRU, suggesting that the situation should have been handled differently.

Bersih 3.0 co-chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreevanasan said in a text message in response to Tunku Abdul Aziz's statement: "We do not blame all the police but some who were clearly there to create the trouble. When did we create trouble?"

"Remember there was no violence until after the police shot tear gas. Once tear gas was shot it became their responsibility. How can we be responsible for police violence?"

Commenting on the hijack by politicians during the rally, Ambiga said: "Bersih will never lose its cause. Ask anyone to say that to more than 250,000 people. While politicians were there it was the ordinary people who made it happen."

Police start probe over alleged attemp to overthrow Govt

(Bernama) - The police have started an investigation to identify the mastermind behind the so-called attempt to overthrow the Government by way of the demonstration held in Kuala Lumpur on April 28, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said Sunday.

He said the probe would cover various aspects of the gathering which led to pockets of rioting.

"Several fresh arrests have been made following the publication of the photographs of the demonstrators, and several people have telephoned us to volunteer information on the incident.

"This is a welcome sign which indicates that Malaysians are a peace-loving people and do not want disruption of public order," he told reporters when asked to comment on the statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Friday that there was an attempt to topple the Government by way of the demonstration.
Ismail, who was approached at a police meeting with the people in the Kulim district, said he hoped that more people would come forward with information to expedite the investigation.

On Opposition claims in blogs that the police had embedded themselves as demonstrators to spark the riots, Ismail said these unfounded claims must cease.

"Do not make nonsensical accusations ... you must be responsible. Nevertheless, every claim will be investigated," he said.

BERSIH 3.5 Makan Berselera tomorrow at Dataran Merdeka

How about it, folks?
They would not let us get to Dataran Merdeka on the 28th of last month.
Want to head out there tomorrow?
I know I want to ask the many leaders from MCCBCHST who expect will be in attendance tomorrow if any of them were at the Duduk Bantah and, if they were not, why not?
Any of you game?

PKR veep stumps for stateless Indian M'sians

(Malaysiakini) PKR vice-president N Surendran and MIC Youth have lately been locked in a war of words over the number of stateless Indian Malaysians, the lawyer insisting the actual figures are much higher than what his opponents claim.

However, both disputants don’t infer from sketchy evidence they have collated on the ground that the figures are as high as what the Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf) had put them - nearly half-a-million.

Surendran’s conjecture is that the figures are between 200,000 and 300,000, while MIC Youth, who last year launched a MyDaftar campaign to obtain identity cards for these stateless Indians, do not think that the numbers are in excess of five-figure totals.

n surendran pkr vice president with stateless indiansYesterday, in Kampong Perak in Padang Serai, Kedah, Surendran led a team of PKR workers to register the stateless and although he found only six people without identity cards, he said the number sustained his view that the overall total was closer to his projections than MIC’s.

“This is only one village on the whole Peninsula where these stateless people are struggling to eke out a living,” said Surendran, who is likely to be fielded in a parliamentary seat by his party at the upcoming general election.

“I suspect there are hundreds of places in the country where these people without personal identity documents are a living a life on the margins of society,” he said.

“All of them have been born in Malaysia, some from even as long ago as the time of the Japanese Occupation and others just after the Second World War,” he inferred.

Almost all qualify to be citizens

He claimed that by operation of the Article 14 of the constitution, he said almost all of them qualify to be citizens of Malaysia.

“That they are still with red MyKads is a travesty of their rights,” said the politician who regularly handles human rights issues for his party.

Surendran said party workers are in the process of registering as many stateless people as they can find in their campaign forays throughout Peninsular Malaysia in preparation for the general election.

saroja kannan, age 67, born in Malaysia with red mykad ic“It’s a massive task but what we can collate we will submit for processing by the registration authorities so that these long suffering captives of statelessness can reclaim their dignity as citizens,” he said.

“Just today we found one stateless who is sixty-seven years old and has a red MyKad (photo right). Now that should some idea of what the extent of the problem is,” he asserted.

Road to Malaysia's day of destiny - Malaysiakini

COMMENT With well over 100,000 people gathering last week for electoral reform in the largest street protest in the nation's history - and the event marred by violence by both state and non-state actors alike - Malaysian politics has reached an important impasse.

The Bersih 3.0 rally and its aftermath reveal that the path ahead for Malaysian politics will grow even more contentious and complex. As the different ‘Bersih stories' pour in, ranging from ‘ordinary' heroism to the darker accounts of beatings and abuse of power, the move of Malaysian politics outside of the realm of elite to the streets and social media is both empowering and scary.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's decision not to accommodate the concerns of the protesters last week, and even to demonise their actions, now prods Malaysia further along the road to its day of destiny, where the political fate of Malaysia's 54-year government will be determined. So far, the routes chosen are one of confrontation rather than compromise, making resolution to differences even more difficult.

bersih 3 rally 020512 lma008Before the rally, I argued that four actors would shape politics around Bersih 3.0 - the youth, the middle class, the police and East Malaysians. Of these, three were decisive on rally day itself (the latter will grow more so as elections approach).

The youth and the middle-class attended the rally in large numbers, marking a new generation's engagement with politics and transforming a largely apathetic middle class into a more engaged electorate.

Those wearing yellow and green included Malaysia's soccer moms, the shopping mall princesses, disgruntled students, retirees and usually reticent professionals.

These individuals comprised those who had for years enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort of Malaysia's success, yet with different levels of concern and angst chose to brave Kuala Lumpur's hot and humid conditions on April 28. It was uncomfortable, but overwhelmingly, this embrace of discomfort shows how engaged Malaysians are with hot-button political issues and their willingness to stand up and be counted.

toh ching hong tigongkia at bersih rally 3.0They were there because they see the country moving in the wrong direction and wanted to make it right. At the very least, the Bersih rally revealed the shortcomings of the country's leaders in addressing the concerns of a large, important and increasing number of its citizens.

Much of the attention focused on the third actor, the police, whose over-the-top actions in the use of tear gas and their attacks on journalists have permanently stained their reputation among those connected to the rally.
For those not at the rally, the picture is less clear as the mainstream media has manipulated the event in an attempt to snatch the moral high ground, with the government going as far as censoring the international media and destroying cameras. Often the characterisation of police action has been one of black and white, where in actual fact there is much more gray, and views are evolving as more and more stories are shared.

Questions will remain about the breaching of the barricade, and unless a truly independent party investigates, the ‘he said, she said' dynamic will be rife with conspiracy theories that breed confusion and suspicion rather than promote genuine respect for the rule of law.

Ultimately, Malaysian voters will decide on who ordered what and why, as the truth cannot be censored with over 100,000 Malaysians from all walks of life sharing their experiences back inside their air-conditioned homes through a social network that directly and indirectly touched over half of the electorate.

Different narratives

Bersih 3.0 was a nationalistic event, a moment of patriotism. What is striking to see are two conflicting ‘Save Malaysia' narratives that have emerged. The first is one that is shared by rally attendees and its supporters as those who braved the tear gas decided to come out to ‘save' the country.

This vision is one in which the event becomes a turning point towards greater freedom and empowerment. The symbolism of Dataran Merdeka runs deep as this nationalist narrative is one of rights and fairness.

The core of electoral reform involves guaranteeing that the voice of the people is heard fairly and freely. As such, for Bersih supporters attending the rally, it was about this democratic image for the country as it hopes to move towards a stronger system based on integrity and inclusion.

NONEThis stands in stark contrast to the alternative image based on a more reactionary nationalism, one in which the threat is defined as the protesters, ordinary people, who are challenging the status quo. They were portrayed as attacking the country, first on the police force and then later the incumbent system as a whole.

This government-linked ‘image building' has attempted to showcase the protesters as national security threats (needing barbed wire), immoral actors who are ‘dirty' rather than clean. Embedded in this narrative is the image that the protestors are anti-Malay, initially as attackers of the Malay police force and later as supposedly immoral individuals.

It is hate-speech that is reminiscent of regimes that feed on fear and hold onto power through exclusion. Also weaved into this narrative is the image of destabilising reformasi proponent fighting for power in the form of Anwar Ibrahim, who is ironically attacked even further in what can be seen as an effort to bring back the Dr Mahathir Mohamad's base of supporters into Najib's political fold.

The efforts to stoke hatred of the Bersih movement and its supporters, especially opposition leaders, are extensive, involving the manipulation of the foreign media and threats against journalists and observers, such as Australia's Senator Nicholas Xenophon.

This narrative is about using racism and fear, hoping to tap into underlying conservatism and relying heavily on state power to hold onto power. This is all couched in an alternative narrative of patriotism, where Dataran Merdeka is portrayed as the place where challengers to power are putting the country governed by the BN under attack.

For the democratic nationalists in this equation, Bersih 3.0 was a mass rebellion. It was attacked, put down and described in such a manner that will build anger. The calls for Bersih 4.0 are already being voiced among supporters.

For the reactionary nationalists, Bersih 3.0 represents a revolutionary event that they have chosen to demonise, not fully realising that in doing so they are sowing the seeds of further discontent.

Supporters on this pole are demanding for arrests, with Bersih leaders and opposition activists top of the list, as they are blinded by authoritarian tools used in the Mahathir era that are outdated in Malaysia's more mature polity.

Four fundamental mistakes

The reason that these narratives are so different is a continued misreading of Bersih 3.0. There are four fundamental mistakes that the reactionary nationalists made about the Bersih rally. First of all, they continue to equate the movement with the opposition.

NONEThis stems from a deep-seated fear of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. While both Pakatan Rakyat and the civil society-led Bersih movement share some common interests in reform, as do the overwhelming majority of Malaysians from across the political divide, they are not the same. Bersih represents a broad social movement that goes beyond opposition political leaders, and arguably even the Bersih leaders themselves.

It is about reform in governance and better representation, including on the part of opposition parties. This expansion of civil society into places such as Kota Kinabalu and Ipoh, as well as broadening within Kuala Lumpur itself, illustrates the new people-oriented politics of Malaysia. Elites on both sides will have to accommodate a more active and engaged public.

The days when people blindly follow the leaders or go to the streets for personalities alone are gone. Attacks on individual politicians in the wake of the rally just reveal a complete misunderstanding of the movement.

The second mistake of the reactionary nationalists is that Bersih 3.0 is about separate groups of Malaysians divided by ethnicity, organised by clearly ethnically divided groups. While ethnic identity remains important for Malaysian politics, for rally goers this was not about race, but about the country. The consistent theme is one of Malaysian identity, where one of the rally's theme songs was ‘Negaraku'.

The impact of this public move to embrace non-ethnic politics is profound. In March 2008, voting across ethnic lines was largely private. The reality of common purpose came when the results came out.
Many of the motivations of March 2008 - Hindraf, religious rights and more - were ethnic in nature. Bersih 3.0 was markedly different. It was about a common purpose, where ethnicity was put aside in favour of community building. Bersih 3.0 was arguably the largest trust-building event in Malaysia's history after Merdeka.

NONEMalays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and more met each other, shared laughter, water, sweets, salt... and tears. (The spillover is that it helps build trust among many opposition supporters who came to the rally, as well as the middle-ground Malaysians who met die-hard opposition members for the first time. For PAS in particular, perhaps the biggest success was its Amal security units, which were seen protecting rally-goers across races.)

After years of movement towards differences, towards less understanding, this was put aside on a hot afternoon. Bersih 3.0 has set in place conditions where trust building among ordinary people can grow stronger.

Ironically, the reactionary nationalists have underestimated the dissipation of fear in Malaysian politics. This is their third mistake. The bravery among Malaysians is growing. You do not need to look at the numbers of the crowd, although this should not be ignored.

You do not need to even look at the leaders of the movement or the examples of police officers who offered helping hands to rally goers while some of their peers were abusing their positions. Malaysians are increasingly willing to take ownership of their future and are willing to do so again.

Conservatively, the size of Bersih 3.0 doubled in less than a year. The authorities are fooling themselves if they think that these people will not stand up again. Bersih conservatively directly touched over 20 percent of the electorate and indirectly much more. The large participation of young people is especially important as they are traditionally the strongest risk-takers.

One student remarked to me afterwards how the taste of the tear gas the second time was sweeter and she was ready for more. Yes, a she. This is a less fearful Malaysia, and a more angrier one.

NONEFinally, the reactionary nationalists appear to be mistakenly ignoring the issue behind the rally - electoral reform. Polling conducted in late 2011 shows before Bersih 3.0 that only a third of citizens think the electoral process is fair and free - very much in line with the Umno hardcore.

Whatever people think about the tactics and individuals in Bersih - and views differ - the overwhelming majority of Malaysians see a problem with the electoral system.

The government should bear in mind that globally, the single most important event that triggers political transitions is a fraudulent election. If the BN goes to the polls under the circumstances that are already widely seen to be unfair and lacking integrity, they are miscalculating the underlying sentiments of a growing number of people about the core issue of the rally.

They will be seen to be illegitimate by a large share of the population. This size of the rally should be sending clear signals to leaders to properly engage in electoral reform. Anything else will be seen by many as a desperate measure to hold onto power rather than a genuine mandate of a leader.

No compromises, only confrontation

Attention has centred on the timing of the polls. It looks more and more likely that these will occur as early as next month. Najib, over the past week, has embraced a hardline position, with an attempt to unite his base and papering over the divisions within Umno.

The media inundation of a turned-over car and the resultant violence aims to bring the rural base back into the BN fold. To add onto this, the hardline efforts involving personal attacks - with bizarre photos bordering on pornography on the front-page of national newspapers and complete fabrications of speeches - reflects the beginnings of an assault on the opposition and international observers.

These tactics coupled with the embedded advantages in the electoral system and support from East Malaysia appear to form the strategy that is perceived to bring a BN victory, albeit one that will be highly contentious.

To follow the path of confrontation rather than compromise is very risky. First of all, it ignores the elephant in the room associated with elections, the need for the elections to be seen as legitimate.

To date, the government's outreach to Bersih is missing and genuine avenues for electoral reform remain unexplored. While Bersih faces the challenge of illustrating the need for reforms and moving the movement forward, its central message has resonated among many Malaysians. The greater the demonisation and distancing away from Bersih, the harder compromise is possible.

NONESecond, it assumes that Najib can control the actors who are carrying out hardline manoeuvres. Already the Umno-linked New Straits Times has been internationally shamed. How many other institutions will have to compromise themselves in this battle for power, in which more authoritarian measures are adopted?

What makes the current environment complex for the current leadership is that even its own actors on the BN side have become more non-state in nature and are increasingly mobilised, making this move toward legitimising hardline approaches even more risky.

Letting this sort of politics rule reflects on the leadership. Physics teaches us that with every action there is another reaction. Hardline options provoke hardline responses. This dynamic will serve to polarise the electorate into political camps and harden positions in these camps. The days of polarisation of families post-1999 reformasi are coming again, but with even greater intensity given the mobilisation of the young.

Finally, this apparent choice by Najib to embrace the hardline political path will make it even harder to bring about any reform in any realm. To de-link economic reform from political change is unviable. There is a need to implement the rule of law fairly to promote the economy, and this involves a fair and unbiased investigation.

To give in to the hardline political position will undermine economic reform and contribute to the bad practices of using resources to win political allies rather than in building a sustainable and inclusive economy.

Indeed, the miscalculations of a growing social movement by reactionary nationalists will make Najib's national leadership even more vulnerable.

The title was inspired by a Bersih 3.0 protester, whose remarks on BBC was censored by local satellite TV station Astro.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University and she can be reached at

Blind baseless support by 3 ex IGPs for Najib’s wild allegation that Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” was Opposition bid to topple the government latest proof there is no level playing field for free and fair elections

Almost every day, Malaysians are provided with fresh proof that there is just no level playing field for free and fair elections in Malaysia and that the Barisan Nasional government is still a very long way off from fulfilling Bersih 2.0 Eight Demands for free and fair elections highlighted in the July 9, 2011 rally, let alone the Further Three Demands of the Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” on April 28 last month.

The Eight Demands of the Bersih 2.0 rally were:

1. Clean the electoral roll

2. Reform postal voting

3. Use of indelible ink

4. A minimum campaign period of 21 days

5. Free and fair access to mainstream media

6. Strengthen public institutions

7. Stop corruption

8. Stop dirty politics

The Further Three Demands of the Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” are:

1. The Election Commission must resign, as it has failed in its responsibility and has lost the confidence of the public.

2. The electoral process must be cleaned before the 13th General Elections.

3. Invite international observers to observe the 13th General Elections.

The latest proof that Malaysia is still a long way off from a level playing field for the holding of free and fair elections are firstly, the wild and baseless allegation by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that Bersih 3.0 was an attempt by the opposition to topple the Barisan Nasional government; and secondly, the blind and baseless support given by three former Inspector-Generals of Police to Najib’s wild allegation.

In a front-page report by UMNO-owned Berita Harian today, three former IGPs, Tun Haniff Omar, Tan Sri Rahim Noor and Tan Sri Musa Hassan lent credence to Najib’s wild claim that the “428” Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” was an attempt to topple the government by calling on the police to act against the “alleged coup attempt”.

It would appear that the three former IGPs are being used to justify a major crackdown reminiscent of Operation Lalang mass arrests in 1987!

Is there any iota of evidence that there was indeed an attempted coup by Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” to topple the elected government as alleged by Najib and supported by the three former IGPs so as to justify a major crackdown?

No, there is none whatsoever, as evident from Haniff’s own admission. This is what Haniff said:

“There has to be a basis because the prime minister cannot simply make claims. It could happen and there are always people bidding their chance to do it for their own interest.”

This is the height of ridiculousness and the first time in the nation’s 55-year history that there is any claim that a Prime Minister’s words, however wild and far-fetched, are themselves proof of their truth and sufficient basis for government action.

Never before had the previous five Prime Ministers, including Tun Dr. Mahathir during his 22-years as fourth Prime Minister, had ever laid claim that his words themselves are evidence of their veracity.

This is not only a ludicrous and dangerous attempt to make the Prime Minister’s words the law of the land, but also to constitute the evidence as well – regardless of however wild, ridiculous or baseless the claim or allegation.

Two of Bersih 2.0 Eight Demands are for a “free and fair access to mainstream media” and “stop dirty politics”.

Malaysians are seeing “dirty politics” at their worst in the nation’s 55-year history in the run-up to the 13th General Elections, all given full and free rein in the mainstream media, which is denied free and fair access to all contestants and stakeholders of a free and fair elections.

The irresponsible antics by the Prime Minister and the three IGPs are the latest and most vivid examples why the Eight Demands of Bersih 2.0 remain relevant, pertinent and unfulfilled – and why Bersih 2.0 and all justice-and-freedom loving Malaysians must continue to demand a level playing field for the holding of the 13th General Elections.

Do not cross the line

The Star 

The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission is here to keep the enforcement agencies in check, but they need the help of the public to do it.

YOU will need bodyguards soon.” Datuk Helilah Mohd Yusof is used to hearing this joke after she was appointed as the chairman of the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) last year.

The serene-looking retired Federal Court judge with steely eyes only laughs wryly when she hears the remark again at The Star. After all, she knows only too well the massive task on her shoulders and those of her six fellow commissioners and the 26-strong EAIC team in enforcing the law on the enforcers.

In an interview, Helilah concedes that the initial “unfriendly” reception towards the commission only reinforced the misconception of the “enemies” that she might make in the 19 enforcement agencies under its purview.

Yet, as she sees it, the reputation of the agencies are being marred by a minority like the Malay saying, Setitik nila merosakkan seperiuk susu (A drop of dye/iodine spoils the whole pot of milk).”

The commission's biggest challenge now is to implore people to come forward to officially file their grouses about the conduct of enforcement agency officers. Now people prefer to gossip or blog about their grouses instead of bringing it forward to the authority, she laments. Then there are many who do not know how to or are reluctant to follow through their grouses with the “authority”.

“You might hear your niece grumbling about having to pay duit kopi' to get off a traffic fine, for example. But when you ask her to make a report against that officer, she will just shudder in fear and say, ee takut'. Or if you ask her for the cop's badge number, she will just look at you blankly,” Helilah adds.

The EAIC's job is to investigate complaints from the public on errant enforcement officers but the public need to do their part and come forward, she stresses. This would require them to write in to the EAIC with complete information on the case or incident and the errant officer involved.

“If you just sign off with Noraini from Kepong, how can we take the relevant action?” Helilah quips.

Crucially, the commission's founding legislation, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) 2009, ensures that protection is given to the complainants.

Launched on April 1, 2011, the statutory body is legislated from a recommendation by a royal commission for an independent tribunal on the police, the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in 2005. However, as the proposal was strongly opposed by the police, the EAIC Act, which gave it a wider purview over 19 federal enforcement agencies including Immigration, Customs and Rela, was implemented instead.

Notably, since its low-key inception, it has not garnered much attention, receiving only 90 complaints despite the mounting grouses vented against enforcement agencies in the cyber world, media and the coffee shops.

Others have chosen other recourses, like N. Indra, the mother of A. Kugan, a car thief suspect who died in police custody two years ago. Instead of taking her case to the commission, Indra is suing the police and government for more than RM100mil in damages.

“This is not the ideal action, but I'm in the business of getting results for my clients and I am not convinced that the EAIC can give my client what she wants justice for her son,” says her counsel N. Surendran.

Most telling is how the EAIC has been overlooked in the current public dissatisfaction on alleged police brutality during Bersih 3.0.

Worse, there have been calls for the formation of IPCMC, including from the Bar Council.

Says Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, while the EAIC provides an alternative avenue for members of the public with genuine complaints of police misconduct in last week's rally, he is not convinced that the EAIC has adequate powers to investigate the cases.

Helilah, nevertheless, is not deterred by the lack of faith.

“More than 71 of the complaints we received were against the police. So the EAIC is fulfilling the role of the IPCMC. How many bodies do we need to set up before we address the problems in the (police force) and improve their integrity?

“The EAIC has been set up to address the grievances of the public towards the police as well as other enforcement agency officers. We want to do the job and we can do the job,” she reiterates.

Here is an excerpt of the EAIC chairman's interview with Sunday Star:

> Why do we need to have a body like the EAIC?

There is a lot of dissatisfaction and unhappiness among the public when they perceive enforcement officers, whose duty is to prevent crimes, for example, facilitating the crimes or other things that they are supposed to prevent. This (setting up of the EAIC) is a measure or an attempt by the Government to provide one solution.

> How can we raise public confidence in our enforcement officers?

True, public confidence in enforcement agencies is low (but) the public also need to gauge how objective or subjective they are.

How do they rate the ability, the efficacy or the efficiency of the system?

If there is dissatisfaction or a complaint about a particular thing, what is the criteria for this?

Two sides of the question so that the officers' morale is not affected and that the public will not be dissatisfied.

Is it a specific instance? A personal happening? What is their complaint based on? Many are basing it on others' experiences relatives, friends neighbours and from rumours and hearsay.

What is their source of information? From newspapers and TV? Is it correct and fair reporting? Or is it from blogs and forums?

We are not denying that there are instances where the police officer has fallen short of the norm or the yardstick and not done enough. But I'm saying that the public need to be responsible too; they also have a role to play.

For example, in the case of a child who was kidnapped and burned recently. The relative said he hoped this would be the last incident of such a case and that something would be done to prevent this in the future.

But was it really the enforcement agency's fault? Was there any inaction in the enforcement agency or in the public?

The public do have a right to be upset as enforcement officers like the police have a responsibility to safeguard their safety. But at the same time, they need to ask themselves if they had taken enough precautions to protect their children.

If they feel that they have a genuine grouse (of a misconduct by an enforcement agency officer), they need to come forward to us to file a complaint.

> The SOP and conduct of the police during the Bersih 3.0 rally last week have been brought into question. Will the EAIC look into it?

If there are organisations or entities like the Bar Council who have facts and evidence that the police did not comply with their SOP or that their SOP do not measure up to international standards, then they need to file a complaint with us. Only then, can we start taking action. If we are able to detect any inadequacy or weakness, we can make recommendations to the Government.

However, there are always two sides of the story, and the SOP of the rally organisers and participants also need to be probed.

Who started the violence? Did the police act beyond their powers or were they taking preventive action? There are various issues should they have waited until the protesters run riot and go on a rampage?

Anyway, being on a human rights platform does not give (protesters) the right to do damage or express one's dissatisfaction or disagreement freely and take the law into one's hands.

> What happens after a complaint is made? After a complaint is registered with the EAIC's Complaints Committee, preliminary investigation will be conducted to verify the complainant's details, and determine the nature of the misconduct, and whether a full investigation is warranted. This is to preclude surat layang and any witch-hunting due to personal grudges.

If the complaint is found to be baseless, it will be rejected. If it is found to be genuine and complies with the criteria of the act, the committee will report its findings and recommendations to the commission for its consideration and decision.

If the commission is not satisfied with the committee's report, they can direct a task force to probe the complaint further. The task force has to report its findings to the commission within 14 days for a final decision from the commission.

(The task force shall have all the powers of investigation as contained in the Criminal Procedure Code, including power to obtain documents or other evidence; power to hold hearing and power to search and seizure with warrant or without warrant.)

When the commission completes its investigation, it will refer the case to the relevant agencies. If it is a disciplinary offence, we will recommend that it is referred to the individual agency's disciplinary board, if there is corruption or a matter of graft, then the matter will be referred to the MACC. If it is a criminal offence, it will be referred to the public prosecutor.

After the complaint is referred to the appropriate agencies, they are required to conduct their own investigation and communicate their findings to the commission within 14 days from the date of receipt.

The EAIC has the discretion to make recommendations on the appropriate action. Under the legislation, the commission is also empowered to ask the specific agencies about their further action or follow-up on the case.

However, the commission does not have jurisdiction to pass sentence or to institute prosecution on its own. The end result still lies with the relevant body.

> How can the commission compel these agencies to follow their recommendations?

The legislation is clear our word is to be followed. The agencies are obliged to adopt our recommendations.

>What are the types of misconduct that can be reported to the commission?

According to Section 24(1) of the EAIC Act, misconduct is any act or inaction by an enforcement officer which is contrary to written law; is unreasonable, unjust or improperly discriminatory, or committed on improper motive and irrelevant grounds in the opinion of the commission. It also includes the failure of an enforcement officer to follow rules and procedures laid down by law or the appropriate authority, and criminal offences.

> Will the EAIC be monitoring the action of the enforcement agencies?

The commission is not really in the nature of an ombudsman; the foundation (for an action) is a complaint. It has to come from the public; it can be the aggrieved or the family of the aggrieved.

But at the same time, supposing we are able to detect something, we will start an investigation. However, it has to be something quite solid, like through a reliable source. And if there is a corporate body, individual, organisation or institution that comes forward with a complaint, in black and white, then we can start an investigation into the problem. It does not have to be an individual who has experienced something (to come and lodge a complaint), but someone who has noticed that something is amiss.

> Is the EAIC responsible for cleaning house at all the enforcement agencies?

That is a misconceived thought. Many think that with all the problems, here comes a body that will solve everything and come up with wonderful solutions as if in a magical way. “Abracadabra!” and everything is good like wizardry. It is not like that at all.

We are dealing with human beings, not just theories. We cannot just barge into someone's home and say we think that this should be done this way or another.

> One of the functions of the EAIC stated in the Act is to assist the Government in formulating legislation, or to recommend administrative measures to the Government or an enforcement agency, in the promotion of integrity and the abolishment of misconduct among enforcement officers; how does the commission do this then?

As a first step, the commission has looked at the different Standard Operating Procedures of the 19 enforcement agencies in order to understand how they implement their investigative and enforcement powers.

For each agency, when they set up their SOPs, the factors they will take into account are how and what sort of action they will undertake when they are carrying out their enforcement duty because they know the best way to conduct their enforcement duties.

(Each one is governed by their respective legislations too. For example, the police have a wide scope under the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. The Immigration enforcement officers have their own Act and so forth.) But we do anticipate that the SOP will be brought into question when a complaint is raised against them.

> Who is in charge of monitoring and reviewing the SOPs then?

It is self-regulatory each agency will look at their own SOPs as it is related to how you implement things on the practical side. So, the agencies ought to know best.

> The initial worry was that the EAIC would undermine the morale of enforcement officers. How is the EAIC handling this?

In the initial stages, there was hesitation or suspicion of the EAIC (from the enforcement officers) ... I'd even call it a grudge. They asked, “Why do you need to come after us? Why do we need a specific body? We have our own way of dealing with this.”

Then there were those who said that having the legislation in place was “an insult” and “depressing” or that “too much power” seems to be vested with the commission.

We knew that we had to take an approach that is non-offensive and more psychological (to deal with the officers) because it is like an attack on their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Our response was to throw out a simple question why do you think that despite all that, the Government felt that they required such legislation?

The answer is that there is something wrong. The Government is reacting or responding to a situation with an underlying statement that there are acts by enforcement agencies that have caused the public to be disturbed.

It is a question that enforcement officers need to ask themselves if they think that it is an insult, if they think that their agency is doing well, or that their agency has integrity, why does the Government feel it necessary to set up this commission?

If they feel that their confidence is lost with the introduction of this Act, then why are there still reports of policemen caught in graft or Immigration officers living beyond their means?

> It is stated under the ACT that the EAIC will prevent misconduct among enforcement officers how are you doing that?

Preventing is a general term and has negative connotations. The commission was set up to help strengthen integrity among federal enforcement agencies. Of course, it begs the question of what we mean by integrity.

It is not only the integrity of the officers but also the public. The public also need to have integrity. For example, there are those who expect “favours” from the enforcement agencies, such as Immigration officers to process their paperwork fast. This is when graft may occur.

They cannot just demand that the enforcement officers do everything and be absolved from their responsibility.

> Integrity has become a buzzword - there are those sceptical of the word or simply don't understand the meaning. How do you define it?

True, some may think it is just a buzzword or an impossible ideal. What is integrity?

It is defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character and firmness of mind. It is also the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished, like the Rukun Negara.

It is something that you need in your relationships professionally as well as personally. It is honesty and sincerity, it is central to one's morality. Nobody is an angel, everyone has a weakness.

So it is a question of how we inhibit the negative aspects and encourage the positive aspects of a person so that he or she does not commit any wrong and break the law.

> How will this integrity be instilled?

Training is one aspect that the EAIC is exploring. For now, we have initiated dialogues with the different agencies. There are also various other issues the enforcement agencies might need to look at their selection criteria so that they will recruit only suitable candidates.

We have also recommended that certain persons with certain calibre do certain things because of the responsibility, maturity and knowledge that is needed.

> One of the criticisms against the EAIC when the Act was being drafted was that it is not an independent body. How fair is this statement?

How can you suggest that anything that comes from the Government will not be independent? And how can you attribute to the fact that because we were initiated by the Government that we will not be able to do our functions properly.

> Another criticism is that the commission is toothless as it does not have the power to prosecute.

If we have the power to prosecute, we will be taking the power of the public prosecutor or the MACC. We do not usurp the power of the other agencies. The intention is not to create another “superpower”.

The EAIC complements the existing systems. We also do not want to usurp the existing internal mechanisms or duplicate work that is already done by the other people. For example, the police already have their own internal affairs department.

> With all the allegations against enforcement agencies and their officers reported in the media like the Bersih rallies and deaths in police custody, why hasn't the EAIC started any probes into them?

We are not an enforcement agency, so we don't initiate investigation.

The foundation of any action under the legislation is the receipt of a complaint. We need the aggrieved family or relevant organisations and individuals to come forward and file a complaint.

We also need concrete facts; we don't just take action if people say they are unhappy or dissatisfied or if there are reports in the paper.

The commission also does not deal with complaints of any incidents occurring before the Act came into effect in 2009. We can't entertain something that happened in 1989 or even as recent as 2009. We can only look at incidents that happened concurrent with the year and after the Act was passed.

> Many people don't really know what is good or bad conduct for enforcement officers. One reason is because the SOPs of the enforcement agencies are confidential. How can we raise public awareness on what is right and wrong?

This is an interesting aspect. When the public questions what is right and what is wrong, what do they mean?

When you do certain things, you yourself know what is good conduct and what is bad conduct. It starts with you .

We also need the SOPs to be transparent. We cannot have the whole SOP to be transparent as it would put the enforcement agencies at risk (or affect their work), but the public need to know.

If you are not sure if something is a misconduct that is worthy of a complaint or not, you can check the FAQ on the website or just write to the commission. But you must be willing to follow it to the end, not just whining because you are dissatisfied or sad.

> Why is it important for the public to come forward to the commission about misconduct by enforcement officers?

It starts from them. It is important for us to understand where the enforcement agencies have committed the misconduct so that we can address it. If there is a genuine complaint, the public is invited to write directly to the commission.

* Those who have enquiries or want to file a complaint with the EAIC can call their hotline at 03-8888 6618, e-mail, tweet or go to

4K Approach To Empower Rural Women - Najib

ROMPIN, May 6 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today outlined the "4K" approach to empower rural women for their own advancement.

The 4Ks are keilmuan, kemahiran, keusahawan and kepimpinan (knowledge, skills, entrepreneurship and leadership).

Najib said since a long time ago, Malaysian women had been given recognition and equal rights.

Now the 4K approach would be able to bring the status of rural women to a higher level, he said.

"The fate of women in this country is far better as they no longer have to fight for gender equality (like in certain countries).

"Currently, 68 per cent of students at the country's higher learning institutions are women, while some of the influential positions like Central Bank governor and director-general of the Economic Planning Unit are held by women, and the previous chairman of the Securities Commission is also a woman," he said when launching a Girl Guides "Turun Padang" (going to the ground) programme, here, Sunday.

Also present were his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who is the president of the Girl Guides Association of Malaysian (GGAM), and Tengku Puan Pahang Tengku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, who is the GGAM Pahang branch president.

Najib said in keeping abreast with current developments, women in the rural areas needed to increase their knowledge including in parenting, to hone their skills in certain fields to generate income, and be involved in business and build leadership qualities to further empower themselves and their family.

He said the government would always support whatever programme aimed at empowering women in this country.

Rosmah in her speech said that the community activities carried out by the Malaysian Girl Guides was to build the spirit of concern for the people and volunteerism, to teach and produce more women entrepreneurs, and to improve their knowledge and skills.

Rosmah said themed 'Empowering Rural Women', she said the Girl Guides "Turun Padang" programme was also aimed at providing rural women and those in remote areas the opportunities to increase their income without totally depending on aid.

"In this respect, the Girl Guides Association will act as the facilitator, link and mover in efforts to assist rural women to acquire knowledge and skills through cooperation from the relevant agencies," she said.

Polis Kacau Orang Makan di Restoran | BERSIH 3.0