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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Polls after Hari Raya Puasa, speculates Mahathir

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today speculated that as far as he is concerned, the perfect time for polls should be in mid-September, after the Muslim festival of Hari Raya Puasa.

However he clarified that the ultimate decision on when to dissolve parliament will be up to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

NONE“The signs are good (for BN)... But it is up to Najib whether he is convinced that he will achieve his objective,” said the former premier at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

Najib’s objective, explained Mahathir (right), is to recover BN’s two-thirds majority, something which he believe is the challenge for the PM.

However, Mahathir said that the going for BN won’t be as rough as what they had to go through during the 2008 political tsunami.

Even if polls were to be held in June, he believed, things will still be hunky dory for the ruling party.

Speaking after being announced as the National Reading Icon at the National Library today, the former PM again accused the opposition on the other hand as not confident of winning Putrajaya through polls.

NONEWhich was why, he reiterated, they were trying to foment a Tahrir Square-like revolt during last month’s Bersih 3.0 pro-electoral reform rally.

Approached by reporters at the same function, Information Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim (left) threw more brickbats at the opposition.
Responding to a question on the recent spat between PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and DAP chairperson Karpal Singh, Rais pointed out the Islamic and the socialist parties are at odds with each other as their ideologies conflict with one another.

“For sure PAS is not going to stay in league with Karpal and Lim Kit Siang of the DAP in the long run,” he said.

Instead Rais called on PAS to revive talks or muzakarah on cooperation with Umno as both parties fights for the same things, the Malay race and Islam.

1Manifesto for Pakatan in GE13

Malaysia LGBT community frustrated at gay characters TV ban

LGBTQ rights flag

KUALA LUMPUR: Gay television characters can be a mode to tolerance and understanding, say Malaysia’s LGBT community. But the government disagrees, and they barred gay television characters from being shown on the country’s airwaves last month, in a move that has activists frustrated that the government is pushing the conservative tide against the community.

“We are facing an uphill battle for acceptance and this ruling will do a lot to continue negative stereotypes of the gay community in Malaysia,” lesbian activist Anita told

She added that culture is “a strong part of Malaysian society and to not allow gay characters on television will be a negative push toward alienating gay people who are simply wanting to live their lives,” she added, saying a number of activists are petitioning the culture ministry to change its policy.

The ongoing debate stems from the information department overseeing television in the country decision in April to ban TV shows that show gay characters.

The country’s Culture Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz made the decision last month, despite protests from human rights groups and the LGBT community.

The ban became effective immediately with state-owned TV and radio stations, he said. No specifics about which shows will be affected were revealed, but the ban will likely be expanded to cover privately-owned stations as well as satellite TV providers.

“If it means canceling some of the shows, so be it,” he said. The decision was to curb the “influence” of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, he added.

As for foreign productions, he said the Censorship Board will remove indivudual episodes from current TV shows and bar movies with gay characters from being screened locally.

“Effective immediately, radio and TV stations are asked to stop screening shows which feature gay, effeminate men as well as characters that go against the norm of a religious society because this encourages and promotes LGBT now,” said the directive.

That could mean any television show that has an inkling of “gayness” would be removed from Malaysian television, which has sparked controversy on censorship in the country and the future of the LGBT community.

For Anita, it is a sign that “the government wants to make us seem like we are the enemy of morality, and that is a path that could lead to violent backlashes against people in the country.”

Failed bombing plot at temple: Siddiqui shows spot, says ATS

The state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has claimed that alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Mohammed Qateel Mohammed Jafar Siddiqui has ‘willingly’ confessed that he conducted a recce of the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple and showed the places he visited, and the spot where he unsuccessfully tried to place a bomb. They said he also showed them the place he had stayed in Pune.

Judicial Magistrate (first class) S S Bose granted police custody to Siddiqui till May 21.

Meanwhile, the ATS also claimed that Siddiqui has told them about the routes he took from his residence to reach Dagdusheth Ganpati Temple. He also reportedly showed the ATS the spot at a flower vendor’s stall near the temple where he had allegedly placed the explosives.

Siddiqui was arrested by Delhi police for his alleged involvement in terror activities. The Pune unit of ATS arrested him on May 2 for allegedly conducting a recce of the Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple and attempting to blow it up on February 13, 2010.

On Friday, the ATS team led by Assistant Commissioner Samad Shaikh produced Siddiqui before the magistrate court under heavy security cover, seeking an extension of his custody for further investigation. The ATS submitted before the court that they have recorded the statements of the owner of the house where he lived in Pune. ATS told the court that it was learnt that Siddiqui used to stay out till late night.

Investigation revealed that he resided at the place on rent, but left it all of a sudden. Police have recovered his clothes and other items from the house. ATS also submitted that they have recorded the statements of witnesses about his alleged recce at a flower vendor near the temple.

BRING home the world and make the world feel at home. Middle Eastern tourist-hub Dubai is pouring out dirhams and dollars to affirm both ideas.

The rich and the mighty can soon shop for their favourite country on the luxury resort islands carved out to resemble a world map. In another part of the city, replicas of the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower pack in both Agra’s mystique and the charm of Paris on to one campus. The city has literally brought the world to its doorstep.

With almost feverish determination, Dubai’s construction industry aims to eventually make the emirate many things for many people, and ensure that a Scandinavian doesn’t miss his snow trek, an Indian doesn’t pine for cricket and the Brits don’t brood over Tim Henman.

Henman picked an unlikely wild card here at age 31 for the city’s annual tennis gala—the Dubai Open 2006. His doting British supporters rolled their eyes at a gaggle of girls squealing for his opponent Feliciano Lopez—the latest Spanish hunk. They got on with the routine soon after—speaking sparingly, with a dash of dour nostalgia for Henman who dumped Lopez here on the very day he lost the British #1 spot to Andy Murray after six long years. If it weren’t for the nachos, Dubai could have passed off as Wimbledon.

A day earlier, Russian and Belgian watchers had formed cliques and engaged in a little flag-fight as Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin Hardenne bartered distinct backhands, and the single-handed Belgian denied the Russian stunner her first Dubai title. The two profusely thanked their respective guilds for the welcome change from the lonely destinations that tennis players normally trudge to around the year.

Dubai is consciously widening its tourism portfolio and feeding on the idea of expat patriotism, expressed more eloquently on sports fields than through any other medium.

Sania Mirza brings thousands of Indians out to the Aviation stadium after a stopover at the speciality Punjabi restaurant nearby for authentic rajma-chawal. Nearby, at the Irish Cafe, hundreds gather every evening to down beer and gorge on the versatile ‘pratai’ potato as Ireland rally and then roast the Welsh in Six-Nations rugby, which unfolds on a giant television.

Unlike the Brits, the Irish are less inclined to agonise over Lansdowne Road, the world’s oldest international rugby venue that they left behind in Dublin. Besides, Dubai has mimicked the ambience.

But ranking as Dubai’s most futuristic project devoted to sport is Ski Dubai, a sunny mountain ski dome, housed at the equally grand Mall of the Emirates. The Arctic experience in the middle of the desert encapsulates both Dubai’s attention to detail and its scope of ambition. A huge revolving ski slope around an artificial mountain range, dragons carved out of ice, igloos, a stunt-park for snowboarders and a chairlift for the beginners, topped off with hot cocoa on the rooftop. With temperatures around -2° C, it’s the ultimate polar experience. And like Simone Mofatt, a Norwegian instructor says, ‘‘The snow crunches under your feet like back home.’’

Dubai has been quick to snap the best ideas from around the world and drop kick them into the desert. And while the big tournaments are occasions, the bigger sport stars are hardly incidental. Beckham, Owen and nine others own properties on Palm Islands, and Manchester United is set to open its academy at the Dubai Sports City by 2007. Andre Agassi skips the Las Vegas ATP, a three-minute drive from his home, and flies half-way around the world to play tennis here, and Maria Sharapova can’t stop talking about Burj Al Arab, the world’s only seven-star hotel-palace. Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo have lined up to design golf courses, while the Duty Free tennis tournament director Salah Talak doesn’t sound outrageous when he says, ‘‘If there’s a fifth Grand Slam, I want Dubai to be the one.’’

The demographics support the expansion: roughly 80 per cent of Dubai’s residents are foreigners. The five million tourists who troop into Dubai now are expected to increase to 15 million by 2010, and the wonder city wants to cater to everyone. AB Rehmann, a city guide and master of 13 languages, adds an interesting historical perspective to how Dubai quickly transited from pearl fishing to trading to oil and now tourism. Ironically, it was Sharjah, a neighbouring laid-back emirate, which first pounced on the potential of sports tourism with cricket. ‘‘Sharjah flourished because of this expat sense of patriotism where outnumbered Pakistan supporters tried to out-scream 10 times the number of Indians,’’ he says.

And we thought it was all about Javed Miandad hitting Chetan Sharma for a last-ball six.

Tunku Aziz resigns from DAP

Tunku Aziz’s open criticism of Bersih 3.0 had put him in direct confrontation with DAP and its Pakatan Rakyat partners. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim has quit the party following his public spat with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders over the April 28 Bersih rally, which the former senator said should not have proceeded at Dataran Merdeka.

Tunku Aziz had also withdrawn his candidacy as a senator for the party after being told his open criticism of the opposition-backed electoral reforms movement had caused discontent among DAP members.

“I will therefore resign my membership from the DAP and I will be advising the party within the next few minutes. I think the time has come for me to take a hard, very serious look at my own position within the party culture, the party system,” he said on national television tonight.

The founding president of Transparency International Malaysia explained on ntv7’s “Chat Time With...” programme that “based on what they have said and given the very deep chasm, very wide differences now which are irreconcilable, there is no alterative but for [him] to seek to withdraw with some dignity left.”

He added that he had been “warned by [his] friends and colleagues that [he] should be prepared to be sacked. But so far there has been no indication from the top leadership that this would be my fate.”

Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had previously been forced to rebuke Tunku Aziz for not toeing the party line on Bersih.

But Tunku clarified tonight that he has always supported Bersih but only disagreed with proceeding with an illegal gathering after the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and police had refused to allow the movement to use the historic square for their rally.

“But you know they also claim that I had not consulted the leadership. Why should I consult the leadership when I was not breaking the pledge to support Bersih?

“The difference is that I would not support Bersih if it got itself into illegal activities,” he said.

Tunku Aziz, who was immediately made vice-chairman of DAP when he joined in 2008, also said “the government is on the right track” as it is now listening to the people.

“We have made our protest known to them, but don’t forget, you know, they are a legitimate government, elected by us. Alright, we have made our point… we have had three Bersih protests. Do you think we need anymore? A non-listening government will not be doing all of these things.

“Some of these people watching this programme, they’re saying that ‘Tunku Aziz has been bought over by Umno’ and... I’ve been paid millions of dollars by the MCA; so be it. This seems to be the standard script for anyone who disagrees with them,” he added.

DAP has tried to reach out to Malays by recruiting leaders such as Tunku Aziz, but the latter has conceded his failure to win over the community to the Chinese-dominated party that has been accused by Umno of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

The April 28 rally, which saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka, was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.

But her call was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted around Dataran Merdeka, which the courts had already barred to the public over the weekend.

Just before 3pm, some protestors breached a barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.

Police then continued to pursue the rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.

Several dozen demonstrators have claimed that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim, but police also point to violence from rally-goers, some of whom attacked a police car.

The police car then crashed into a building before some protestors flipped it on its side.

‘Dharma’ sebagai kod etika

Konsep “dharma” merujuk pada himpunan ajaran yang membimbing seseorang individu menjadi insan yang berhemah.

COMMENT By Uthaya Sankar SB
Seorang individu yang menghayati konsep “dharma” pasti tidak akan melakukan apa-apa perkara yang bertentangan dengan nilai dalam keluarga, kod etika pekerjaan dan norma dalam masyarakat.
Pemahaman, penghayatan dan kepatuhan kaum India terhadap segala ajaran yang terkandung dalam teks-teks berkaitan ‘Dharmasastra’ mampu menyumbang ke arah usaha mengatasi pelbagai masalah dalam masyarakat.

Seperti yang saya huraikan minggu lalu, konsep “dharma” dalam budaya India bukan tuntutan agama Hindu semata-mata. Sebaliknya, memandangkan ajaran agama Hindu dan ajaran Dharmasastra sama-sama membimbing manusia ke arah kebaikan, maka ramai yang berpandangan bahawa Dharmasastra adalah sebahagian daripada konsep keagamaan Hindu.

Pada waktu sama, ajaran agama Hindu turut digelar Sanatana Dharma iaitu “agama yang abadi” atau “agama yang tiada permulaan dan tiada kesudahan”. Satu lagi gelaran yang digunakan adalah Vaidika Dharma iaitu “agama menurut kitab-kitab veda”.

Namun, sebenarnya, konsep “dharma” tidak terikat pada ajaran satu-satu agama. Sebaliknya, ajaran “dharma” secara langsung atau tidak langsung diterapkan juga dalam ajaran mana-mana agama utama dunia.
Hal ini tidaklah menghairankan kerana setiap agama memang membimbing para penganut ke arah “dharma”. Kebenaran hakikat ini akan diperakui sekiranya setiap individu memahami ajaran sebenar agama anutan masing-masing.

Konsep “dharma” merujuk pada himpunan ajaran, peraturan, moral, nilai murni, etika, norma, tanggungjawab, hak dan sebagainya yang membimbing seseorang individu menjadi insan yang berhemah dalam keluarga dan masyarakat.

Dalam budaya India, himpunan “dharma” ini dikategorikan sebagai Dharmasastra iaitu teks-teks yang mengandungi ajaran mengenai “dharma”. Topik-topik yang dibicarakan dalam teks Dharmasastra terbahagi pada tiga kumpulan utama iaitu acara, vyavahara dan prayascitta.

Konsep ‘acara’ merujuk pada tingkah-laku umum serta nilai-nilai murni yang menjadi amalan serta pegangan seseorang. Setiap individu perlu memelihara diri secara zahir dan batin supaya dapat menjalani hidup yang sempurna dan bersih daripada sebarang noda.

Dalam budaya India, kemajuan dan kesejahteraan hidup seorang individu bukan hanya dipandang dari aspek duniawi (abhyudaya). Sebaliknya, aspek kebajikan spiritual dan rohani (nissreyasa) turut diberi perhatian.

Kod etika

Untuk mencapai kesejahteraan dari aspek duniawi dan rohani, seorang individu dikatakan perlu patuh pada ‘acara’ iaitu semacam kod etika dalam kehidupan seharian.

Sumber bagi kod etika yang disebutkan ini diambil daripada ajaran yang terkandung dalam veda, dharmasutra, smrti, nibandha, purana dan epik. Saya pernah menghuraikan perkara ini menerusi sebuah makalah di majalah Dewan Budaya (Oktober 2004).
Veda adalah kitab suci yang menjadi panduan dalam kehidupan masyarakat India beragama Hindu. Dharmasutra pula koleksi teks-teks yang ditulis kemudian untuk menyampaikan ajaran veda secara lebih mudah.
Memandangkan karya-karya dharmasutra masih sukar difahami dan diingat, para pemikir agung pada masa lampau telah menghasilkan smrti yang mengungkapkan konsep “dharma” dengan bahasa yang mudah dan berirama.

Nibandha merujuk pada ensiklopedia atau teks-teks rujukan mengenai “dharma” yang disusun secara penuh sistematik. Manakala purana merujuk pada cerita-cerita mengenai dewa-dewi yang menerapkan ajaran “dharma”.

Amalan positif berdasarkan kod etika (sadacara) menyumbang kepada kehidupan yang bahagia; manakala pelanggaran kod etika (duracara) mengakibatkan kesengsaraan dan kedukaan.

Kod etika atau ‘acara’ yang ditegaskan di atas meliputi diri individu terbabit, hubungannya dengan keluarga serta hubungan dengan Tuhan. Tanggungjawab melayan tetamu turut dijelaskan dalam kod etika ini dan ternyata masih sesuai dijadikan pegangan.

Secara umum, ‘vyavahara’ merujuk pada tingkah laku dalam masyarakat atau norma dalam hidup bermasyarakat. Secara lebih khusus, vyavahara turut melibatkan perihal undang-undang sivil dan undang-undang jenayah.

Sebanyak 18 perkara utama dibicarakan dalam bahagian ini. Antaranya adalah isu berkaitan hutang, perkongsian dalam perniagaan, melanggar surat perjanjian, urusan jual-beli, perbalahan antara majikan dan pekerja, perselisihan mengenai persempadanan, serangan, rompakan, menculik wanita, hubungan suami-isteri serta pembahagian harta.

Mungkin sukar dipercayai tetapi hakikatnya adalah bahawa perkara-perkara di atas memang sudah diperkatakan dalam ‘Dharmasastra’ yang ditulis ribuan tahun dahulu di India.

Bagi mempastikan kestabilan dan keseimbangan dalam masyarakat berkekalan serta untuk memastikan norma (norms) dipatuhi, istana menjadi dewan perundangan. Raja yang bertindak sebagai hakim akan dibantu oleh sejumlah penasihat yang berilmu dan disegani. Demikian cara “dharma” dipelihara, dipegang dan dipertahankan pada masa lalu.

Konsep “dharma” dalam budaya India sejak ribuan tahun dahulu tidak pernah menafikan hakikat bahawa manusia tidak terlepas daripada melakukan kesilapan. Maka, mengikut konsep ‘prayascitta’, individu yang melakukan kesalahan perlu diberi peluang untuk menebus dosa dan bertaubat.

Dosa besar
Istilah ‘prayascitta’ merujuk pada perbuatan menebus dosa atau bertaubat. Dalam teks-teks Dharmasastra, diterangkan jenis-jenis dosa atau perbuatan yang melanggar kod etika (vyavahara) serta apa yang perlu dilakukan untuk menebus dosa berkenaan.
Pelanggaran kod etika atau perbuatan dosa disebut ‘pataka’. Terdapat dosa besar (mahapataka) dan dosa kecil (upapataka).

Contoh dosa besar dalam budaya India adalah meminum arak, membunuh dan sumbang mahram. Antara dosa kecil pula perbuatan tidak membayar hutang, menebang pokok, membunuh binatang dan mencuri.

Hukuman yang dikenakan (prayascitta) pasti berbeza antara dosa besar dan dosa kecil. Terdapat banyak saranan hukuman dan denda yang diterangkan dalam Dharmasastra secara terperinci.

Antara hukuman yang biasa bagi dosa-dosa kecil adalah berpuasa, memberi hadiah, melakukan upacara pemujaan khas dan memohon maaf. Bagi dosa besar pula, hukuman mati mungkin dikenakan; atau pesalah diminta membunuh diri.

Mungkin ada perkara yang terkandung dalam konsep “dharma” kurang sesuai dengan masa kini. Malah, para pemikir agung yang menghasilkan teks-teks Dharmasastra ribuan tahun lalu sudah menegaskan bahawa mana-mana peraturan atau “dharma” yang kurang relevan harus diubah suai mengikut peredaran zaman.
Konsep “dharma” dalam budaya India menyedari serta mengakui bahawa norma dalam masyarakat adalah tidak statik. Sebaliknya, ia sentiasa mengalami perubahan dan bersifat progresif. Malah, membuktikan bahawa “dharma” hidup sepanjang zaman.

Apa yang cukup mengkagumkan adalah bahawa kebanyakan ajaran dalam Dharmasastra masih sesuai dijadikan amalan. Apatah lagi, konsep “dharma” menekankan aspek nilai murni, keharmonian keluarga, norma dalam masyarakat, etika, tanggangjawab dan hak individu.

Saya pernah bertugas sebagai pensyarah subjek Pendidikan Moral di beberapa kolej swasta (1999-2007) dan perkara-perkara yang terkandung dalam konsep “dharma” masih terdapat dalam sukatan pelajaran – secara langsung atau tidak langsung.

Konsep “dharma” bukan hanya dibicarakan oleh masyarakat India beragama Hindu. Konsep yang sama turut terdapat dalam ajaran agama Buddha. Malah, konsep “dharma” terdapat dalam semua masyarakat yang mengakui kelompoknya bertamadun.

Walaupun mungkin istilah “dharma” tidak digunakan sebagai rujukan, sesungguhnya konsep “dharma” seperti yang diterangkan ini terus menjadi amalan dalam masyarakat India khasnya dan masyarakat seluruh dunia amnya.
Uthaya Sankar SB memblog di dan boleh dihubungi melalui e-mel

‘Surendran nailed his own coffin’

MIC Youth claims the photographs disclosed by PKR proved that its vice-president lied about the former trying to attack a 17-year-old student.

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC Youth has taken PKR vice-president N Surendran to task for misleading the public over the infamous MyKad brawl.

Youth information chief S Subramaniam said the photographs which PKR released last week did not show any attempts to attack 17-year-old student B Reshina, as claimed by Surendran.

“We thank the PKR vice-president for hammering a nail into his own coffin,” he told FMT.

“MIC Youth saw the images disclosed by PKR and there are no images showing MIC Youth members targeting Reshina,” he added.

Prior to the release of the photographs, Surendran had claimed that the images would be “the final nail in MIC’s coffin.”

Calling the PKR vice-president “insane” and a “third-class politician” for making the allegation, Subramaniam said it was the former who had endangered the girl’s future for his political mileage.

“By making a false claim, you put the girl at stake, since she will now be quizzed by the police with regard to the matter. It’s clear that no MIC Youth member tried to attack her,” he added.

On May 2, Surendran had led a PKR delegation to the Prime Minister’s Office to submit a memorandum demanding that Reshina be issued a MyKad.

At the same time, a MIC Youth delegation had gone there to thank the prime minister for issuing MyKads and birth certificates to Malaysian Indians under the My Daftar programme.

However, a scuffle erupted resulting in Puchong PKR division leader S Murali being hospitalised for a broken cheek bone.

PKR had described it as a pre-meditated attack carried out with the blessings of the prime minister while MIC Youth claimed that the former’s delegation hurled obscenities and threw the first punch.

However, the photos revealed last week showed a calm-looking Murali suddenly being attacked by the MIC Youth members.

‘Why the ‘kolaveri’ banner?’

Previously, PKR legal bureau head Latheefa Koya had questioned why MIC Youth brought banners insulting Surendran when they wanted to thank the prime minister.

Responding to this, Subramaniam said the PKR delegation also brandished banners criticising Najib on that day.

“There was one banner which said [the title of a popular Tamil cinema song] ‘Why this Kolaveri Najib?’ [Why this murderous rage]

“What has this got to do with Reshina’s MyKad problem?” he asked.

Subramaniam said their banners condemned Surendran because he had “lied” that some 300,000 Malaysian Indians did not have identification documents.

“This figure is exaggerated. But then we still invited PKR to work with us to resolve this matter, but they refused. So who is the real trouble maker?” he added.

Subramaniam also said that the MIC Youth delegation only submitted its thank-you note to the PMO after the PKR delegates submitted their memorandum.

“So Latheefa made a baseless allegation that MIC Youth members deliberately came back after submitting the note to attack the PKR delegation. The fact is, we made way for them,” he added.

BN blasts Perkasa for funeral-rites demo

'We can’t control them,' says Penang Umno chief.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Barisan Nasional today condemned Perkasa for conducting funeral rites for Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng outside his residence last Thursday.

State BN chief Teng Chang Yeow said it was “a foolish act or a stupid act”.

“We condemn Perkasa, we condemn it,” he told newsmen after a BN meeting here today.

He said it was not possible for BN to control the Malay rights group’s actions because it was not under the coalition’s influence.

“They are not even friends of Barisan. How to cap them? You tell me,” Teng said at a press conference.

He brushed aside a remark that the public perception was “Perkasa is Umno, Umno is Perkasa”.

“You can ask the Umno state chairman here,” he said, pointing to Zainal Abidin Osman, who was standing next to him.

Zainal Abidin claimed that his party had “no control or hold over Perkasa and its actions”.

“Perkasa is a NGO and Umno is a political party,” he said. “We can’t control them. They won’t listen to us.”

He denounced the Perkasa demonstration at Lim’s house.

During the 10-minute demonstration, about 30 people led by Penang Perkasa chief Mohd Ridzuan Azudin placed a garland over a portrait of Lim and pasted posters with swastika signs on his gate.

They held another noisy gathering, performing similar rituals, at Komtar about 30 minutes later.

They alleged that Lim had incited racial tension between Malays and Indians, in reference to the Chief Minister’s remark last week that he felt “all Hindu temples are in danger if Umno returns to power”.

Spot checks

Zainal Abidin said: “Politics has its limits. Umno does not condone, support, agree or approve of the politics of encroaching into a person’s private home and family.”

Asked to comment on the failure of the police to stop the Perkasa demonstration, he suggested that the police standard operating procedure (SOP) could have been to prevent the demonstration from getting out of hand.

“If not for the police presence, the demonstrators could have leapt into the house compound,” he said.

Earlier, Teng said BN’s election machinery would be activated at all polling centres in the state immediately and mobilised to work as a united BN team.

“This is to forge close cooperation among all component parties to face the election. The state leadership will carry out surprise spot checks on the machinery.”

At the meeting before the press conference, Penang BN reshuffled leadership positions and established new committees.

Bukit Gelugor Umno division chief Omar Faudzar is its new secretary and MCA’s Bagan Youth chief David Chua is the new treasurer.

Chua replaces MCA’s Loh Nam Hooi, who now heads a procurement committee, which will be in charge of purchasing and distributing election materials.

MCA’s state women chief Tan Cheng Liang replaces PPP state chairman Loga Bala Mohan as the information chief.

Loga has moved on to head a newly established psy-war committee.

Teng takes charge of the election strategy committee while Omar heads the implementation of the strategy.

Pakatan reaffirms no-hudud stand

Top opposition leaders agree to maintain the Common Policy Framework

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat’s top leaders are in agreement that the hudud law will not be implemented if the coalition takes over Putrajaya in the next general election as the Islamic penal law is not part of its Common Policy Framework.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang told the media after a meeting of the senior leadership at the PKR headquarters this morning that Pakatan would adhere to the position announced in September 2011.

Pakatan leaders held a three-hour meeting on Sept 28, 2011 to trash out the hudud issue and subsequently announced that it was not part of the bloc’s policy to introduce such Islamic law provisions and that any move to do so would require the consensus of all three parties.

“We agreed back then to uphold the Federal Constitution on the position of Islam while at the same time respecting the different ideologies and religious beliefs within Pakatan Rakyat,” Hadi said.

The hudud question has long been a thorny issue between PAS and DAP, and surfaced again last week after PAS Ulama Council chief Harun Taib said its implementation, as well as amending the Federal Constitution to enable it, would be PAS’ priorities.

Hadi was afterwards quoted as saying that hudud would be implemented if Pakatan came into power but would be enforceable only among Muslims.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh once again raised a strong objection to Hadi’s statement and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said any attempt to work outside the Pakatan framewok would be akin to a “stab in the back”.

Election manifesto

Veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang, speaking at today’s press conference, said Pakatan would maintain the Common Policy Framework, which covers the bloc’s commitment to the Federal Constitution, which upholds Islam as the religion of the federation while allowing other religions to be practised peacefully throughout the country.

“If there is any change in policy it will have to be by way of consensus from all three Pakatan Rakyat parties,” Lim said. “And on the question of hudud – it is not in the Common Policy Framework.

“We respect PAS’ views on hudud but our position is also very clear as we feel it is not in accordance with the Federal Constitution.”

PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim said all three parties were committed to remaining united in heading towards the next general election and would maintain that unity if Pakatan were to form the next government.

That assurance flew in the face of Harun’s statement that PAS would consider changing its political allies in order to achieve its hudud objective.

“What Kit Siang just said we have signed upon and repeated numerous times,” Anwar said. “But certain quarters within Umno and Perkasa have still attacked us, especially DAP.

“They have even attacked Kit Siang personally as someone who will dishonour the constitution and this allegation has been made as well by Najib [Tun Razak] himself. So I’m very glad that Kit Siang has cleared up the issue today.”

Apart from the hudud issue, the leaders also discussed the coalition’s election manifesto, which, according to Anwar would be adapted to meet each state’s individual needs.

With regard to seat allocation, PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali said the negotiations were “90% complete” and would be finalised at Pakatan’s next meeting, expected to take place within a week.

Midlands Tamil School board: Death Threat to Legal Threat

The spat between MIC central working committee member K P Samy and Klang Midlands Tamil School board is still lingering. 

On Sunday, the Bandar Botanic MIC Branch Chairman R N Nathan came to the defense of his party comrade K P Samy whose Travel Agency was stormed by Klang Midlands Tamil School board members earlier. 

nathanThe School Board, subsequently, has returned K P Samy’s RM 100 for criticizing the rate charged for the multi-purpose hall as ‘a day-light robbery’. 

Uthaya Sooriyan is the Chairman of Midlands Tamil School board and also happen to be the Chairman of Klang Simpang Lima Tamil School Parents and Teachers Association.

Now, RN Nathan wanted to know if hypothetically K P Samy were to criticize Simpang Lima Tamil School, “will Uthaya Sooriyan return K P Samy’s RM 50,000 donations for the school building fund?”

Indeed, a fair question.
Uthaya Sooriyan responded rather swiftly unlike his total silence on several legitimate issues. According to Makkal Osai Tamil daily, Sooriyan denied having any knowledge of K P Samy’s purported donation to Simpang Lima Tamil School.

“Before uttering any allegation or information, examine the truth”, Sooriyan said.
“Definitely not (K P Samy RM 50,000 donation) during my tenure (PTA Chairman)”

Sooriyan could have stopped with those statements but same like the childish act of returning the money, he issued a legal threat, “Nathan must substantiate his claim within a week, and otherwise legal proceeding will be instituted”.

Unperturbed by this legal threat, Nathan has produced the following from Year 2008 Annual Magazine of Simpang Lima Tamil School where it is listed in page 14 that KPS brothers and KPS Travels donated RM 50,000in memory of Mutthamal (K P Samy’s mother).
simpang lima
Sooriyan, being in social service for more than two decades, should be well aware that he is not above criticism.

The state government provided the land to Midlands Tamil School. That’s Malaysian tax payer’s money.
I-city provided the money to build the Scholl. That’s Malaysian tax payer’s money.
Thus, every Malaysian has the right to question you.

The Indian Muslim conundrum

Do we Muslims have no shame? We do not know how to treat people the same way we demand that people treat us. We do not know how to respect the rights of others the way we demand that people respect our rights. And when Muslims offer Ambiga a beef burger, the rest of the Muslims keep quiet. They are not in the least outraged. Try offering Ibrahim Ali a hamburger and see what will happen. We will see May 13 Version 2 erupt in Malaysia.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Samy – who is also works minister – said that Anwar had even threatened the Hindus to accept the government’s stand in the 1998 Kg Rawa temple issue in Penang.
“He (Anwar) threatened the Hindus there to accept whatever he said, otherwise he said no temple bells will be sounded in Penang. This is what he is,” Samy asserted.
In March 27, 1998, there was a tense stand-off when Muslims emerged from Friday prayers in an adjacent mosque and marched in numbers to the Sri Raja Raja Madurai Veeran temple in Kampung Rawa.
Muslims in the area had complained that the temple – which was planned for expansion – rang their prayer bells too loudly and the antagonism resulted in a clash between hundreds of Hindus and Muslims.
Following this, four people were injured, other Hindu temples and Muslim mosques were attacked and nearly 200 rioters were arrested.
The dispute was later settled when the state government provided an alternative site for the temple in Jalan SP Chelliah. -- (Malaysiakini)
When this matter first exploded back in 1998, I went to Pusat Islam to meet the Pengarah. I wanted to find out what the problem was and what I could do about it -- meaning, write something about the matter in the English section of Harakah, the PAS party organ.
I initially thought that this was a Malay-versus-Indian matter, meaning more racial than religious. The Pengarah told me that in the beginning the Malays were not involved. It was a conflict between the Indian Hindus and the Indian Muslims. After that, because the impression given was that the Hindus were cabaring (challenging) Islam, the Malays got dragged in.
The Pengarah then lamented that this is the trouble with the Indians. In India, the Muslims and Hindus fight, explained the Pengarah. Hence they have ‘imported’ their hatred into Malaysia and now they are dragging the Malays into this whereas the Malays for hundreds of years have never had any problems with those from the other religions, sighed the Pengarah.
I did not know whether the Pengarah was making a statement of fact or whether this was his prejudiced view about the Indians (although the partition of India and the 1 million deaths plus the many incidences since then can lie testimony to his statement). Nevertheless, I wrote my article and Harakah published it. A few Indian Muslims, however, were quite upset and felt that my article painted a most unfavourable picture of the Indian Muslims.
Then we had the anti-Guan Eng demonstration in front of the Komtar building soon after the 2008 general election, and the recent anti-anti-Lynas demonstration in Penang, and the beef burger incident in front of Ambiga’s home, and the funeral rites in front of Guan Eng’s house, and the many Perkasa incidences, and so on. And whom do we see there causing havoc? Yes, again, the Indian Muslims.
I have been the one person who gets very upset when readers post comments whacking Mamaks. Some of you are very unhappy that I have been deleting your comments for this ‘crime’. Whack the person if you want to, I always said, but don’t whack his race. I have many Indian Muslim friends and they are very nice people.
But it is becoming harder and harder for me to defend the Indian Muslims. The problem is, the act of a few is seen as the act of the entire race. Malaysia Today readers seem to have this view and they express this in their comments in a most racial manner.
I personally have had many unpleasant experiences with Indian Muslims. One chap in a mosque shouted at me when he asked me whether it was time to pray and I replied, “I think so.”
“You must be sure!” he shouted at me, with both his arms flinging in the air, and he continued to grumble until I walked away.
In another incident in the Grand Mosque in Mekah where the Ka’bah is, an Indian sitting behind me kicked me. When I turned to look at him he told me that he wanted to stretch his legs and he asked me to move. I got up and walked away.
While circumambulating the Ka’bah, the Indians appear to be the most misbehaved. They lock arms and shove aside those people in front of them. And if you were to tell them not to push they would scream at you at the top of their voices. I have seen this happen so many times (the Africans are equally guilty of this).
They are so quarrelsome and antagonistic. And whether it is in the Grand Mosque or in front of the Ka’bah they still act like this. Why in heaven’s name do they act like this?
Muslims do not seem to realise how selfish, inconsiderate and unreasonable they sometimes can be, whether Indians, Arabs, Malaysians or whatever. For example, there are only about 2.8 million Muslims in the UK. At only about 4% of the population that makes the Muslims a minority by far.
However, in spite of this, they demand that the rights of Muslims be ‘respected’. They buy over old churches and turn them into mosques or Islamic cultural centres. They have religious schools for Muslim children. During the month of Ramadhan, Quran recitals would be blasting away from the giant speakers they place outside their shops. They demand and are given Shariah courts. They demand that their women be allowed to wear purdahs and are given permission.
Muslims are free to preach Islam to all and sundry, Jews and Christians included. They can even stand on a soapbox in Hyde Park Corner to scream about Islam. They can publish the Quran in the English language and stand on the street corner to hand them out free to passers-by if they wish to do so.
Muslims are so proud when famous people like Cassius Clay or Cat Stevens converts to Islam. They will shout about it from the highest mountain. They will also use this as ‘evidence’ that Islam is the true religion and will preach Islam to the non-Muslims to try to get more non-Muslims, especially famous Christians, to become Muslims.
However, if Christians preach Christianity to the Muslims they will scream and threaten to kill those Christian ‘enemies’. They will also arrest any Muslim who converts to Christianity and send them for rehabilitation (meaning brainwashing) so that they ‘return’ to Islam.
Furthermore, if Christians print the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia the Muslims will protest like hell. If Christians build a church the Muslims will protest like hell. And so on. Only Muslims have rights and they will demand these rights even if they are only 4% of the population. Others do not have rights and Muslims will never allow the other religions the same rights that they demand.
Muslims think that only they have rights and all others do not have rights. When the Muslims are the majority they will deny the non-Muslims their rights. This is banned. That is banned. This cannot. That cannot. If you talk I will attack you. If you cabar I will kill you. Then, when the Muslims live in a non-Muslim country where the Muslims are a mere 4% or less of the population, they will demand all sorts of rights and the non-Muslims would, of course, give in to the demands of the Muslims.
Do we Muslims have no shame? We do not know how to treat people the same way we demand that people treat us. We do not know how to respect the rights of others the way we demand that people respect our rights. And when Muslims offer Ambiga a beef burger, the rest of the Muslims keep quiet. They are not in the least outraged. Try offering Ibrahim Ali a hamburger and see what will happen. We will see May 13 Version 2 erupt in Malaysia.

A Bollywood Actor Goes Deadly Serious on TV - With Video

Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan
(Asia Sentinel) Aamir Khan spotlights issues unprecedented on Indian airwaves

It was perhaps one of the most awaited television programs ever to be produced in India. The top billing was because it is being hosted by India’s number one Bollywood star, Aamir Khan, who appears able to produce both blatantly commercial and meaningful cinema with equal √©lan.

Aamir is thus the latest to join a growing cadre of Hindi movie stars who over the past few years have joined the gold rush for a transition to television, attracted by the large audience reach and the big profits that can be raked in.

However, he has done it in a new way that has caught the attention of social commentators and critics, shining the spotlight in his first episode last Sunday on female infanticide, a horrifying problem that has skewed India’s sex ratio, turning many North Indian populations into only-male settlements. The second this weekend was on child abuse, another sensitive issue.

What’s more, he ordered the full episodes uploaded onto high-definition YouTube within hours of the broadcast, so far unheard of in India.

That he chose such subjects, and chose to make them free on YouTube says much about both his seriousness as a commentator and the trashy state of most of India’s television. Aamir could have chosen to do a quiz show or judge a dance competition with much less effort. Given his star power, the profit-making would have continued.

By any measure, India is deficient in a depressing range of development indices such as provision of adequate health services, child care and primary education. A majority of the country continues to be poor, grappling with many issues – poverty, disease, child-labor, lack of civic amenities, high rates of rape and road accidents, infrastructure issues, woeful health and education facilities. Infectious diseases abound such as tuberculosis, which continues to kill two people every three minutes every day, or nearly 1,000 deaths daily.

However, these almost never appear on television. Perhaps given television’s role as an escape vehicle, the medium now pervades most of the country along with Coke and Pepsi, with advertising driving the economics. That takes high TRP ratings – “Television Rating Points,” an Indian version of Nielsen ratings in the west, an audience-measurement tool that indicates the popularity of channels or programs within channels that help advertisers decide where to place their money.

The riches in television have drawn a plethora of Bollywood A-listers who have thus taken the TV plunge, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, to name some. Any follower of Indian cinema would know that the above mentioned stars invite top billing. Like cricketers, Hindi film stars are given godlike status in India.

Most A-listers have tried to fit into the TRP ratings-driven TV programming that is the order of the day, however -- hooking audiences by orchestrating high-intensity drama on the screen that shocks, spooks and in general raises adrenalin levels.

In short, most of the stuff on offer is pretty much mindless, apart from the impressive range of some overseas channels such as BBC, Discovery or National Geographic that have a global focus.

Indian TV subscription packages today comprise mostly soaps themed around unreal family intrigues that target bored-in-the-afternoon housewives looking to spice up their lives vicariously. The main protagonists of such serials are overdressed women scheming after men and money.

The news cycle is little better. Due to the competition from the TV serials, a lot of the human-interest matters ranging from murder to suicide, love affairs or marriages gone awry are dramatized into compelling story formats. In sports, slam-bang T20 cricket dominates. Lately, bruising, jaw-breaking cage fighting with instant spurts of blood and gore has made its local debut.

In keeping with such a degenerate TV philosophy, some of the top Bollywood actors have endorsed reality shows such as Bigg Boss that tend to assemble a ragtag group of loudmouthed nobodies trying to attract attention via contrived quarrels, sexual chemistry and more brainless activity.

Other stars have turned to becoming quiz/game show hosts offering astronomical monetary gains to winners, cashing in the get-rich quick aspirations of a rising portion of India’s population. That is a theme that found international resonance in the movie Slumdog Millionaire, in which a young man from Mumbai slums appears triumphantly in the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The movie won eight Oscars in 2009.

There are also quite a few celebrity interview formats, where the same set of stars are recycled for their bytes on relationships, food, fitness regimen, hobbies and sex. For the uninitiated, basing views about India watching the stuff aired on TV would be misleading.

There was much anticipation about Aamir’s foray into TV. Followers of his cinema have come to expect something different, sometimes mindless and also cerebral from the actor. Yet, one underlying feature about Aamir’s movies is that they have been out-and-out money spinners. Aamir has managed to successfully make his large audiences cry, think, laugh and be entertained.

His movie range has included Peepli Live, which spoofed 24/7 news networks; Ghajini, a violent love story, Taare Zameen Par about kids learning disabilities and Rang De Basanti about the angst of youth against a corrupt system. At times Aamir has chosen to bank on the typical Bollywood masala stuff – aggressive hip thrusting dance moves, relentless chasing of the heroine around trees, melodrama and mindless humor that is locally referred as good time pass and paisa vasool (value for money). The movies include Andaz Apna Apna or Raja Hindustani.

Now he has done it again. He has turned the established genre of TV programming on its head. The focus of his new TV show, Satyamev Jayate – India’s motto, which means ‘Truth only triumphs,” was called by one television critic “the biggest social changing television series,” whose purpose is “to highlight social issues that India as a society does not to talk about and keep under the rug. Issues like child sex abuse, female foeticide have been discussed so far. The show brings these shows to light, discusses them, and asks for Indians to come together against these issues. The show host uses his star power to gather support and bring these issues out of the closet—which is amazing for a rather conservative society like India.”

The initiative should, perhaps, have been taken by the news channels. But there is not much play in the mainstream media due to the low response from advertisers and sponsors. The actor deserves kudos for putting the medium of TV, with its vast reach, to such good use.

(Siddharth Srivastava is a New Delhi-based journalist. He can be reached at

Tamil Videos

Why Muslims need a secular state

The title of this post is taken from the first chapter of an excellent book entitled “Islam and the secular state : Negotiating the future of syaria” by Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im.

Those who are familiar with my understanding of Islam will know full well that I fully subscribe to the continuance of our secular system.
Professor An-Na’im, in this book, succinctly articulates all of my thoughts and my rationale for my stand.
I have reproduced below a scan of the first page of the very first chapter of his book.
I urge anyone who wants a greater understanding of this all-important subject to get a copy of this  book.
Malik Imtiaz, too, has previously written on this excellent book.

Umno, how much did you spend to bring your crowd?

 P. Ramakrishnan - The Malaysian Insider

MAY 14 — Much has been made of the so-called 100,000 turnout of Umno members at the Bukit Jalil Stadium to observe Umno’s 66th anniversary celebrations. Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak was obviously elated in seeing the sea of Umno members dressed in red that greeted him on his arrival at the stadium.

He remarked that they, too, can bring in the crowds. And he was jubilant thinking that support for Umno had returned. You can’t fault him for being carried away by the euphoria of the occasion.

But little does he realise that his optimism was misplaced.

Who were these people who came to the stadium? Why did they come? How did they come?

These were Umno members and supporters. They were induced to come. More than 2,000 buses brought them from across the country to the stadium. They did not come of their own free will, at their own expense. Everything was paid for; everything was taken care of.

Supposing each of the 2,000 buses carried 40 members; that would give a total of 80,000 members and supporters. How much would it have cost to bring all these members to Kuala Lumpur?

The buses had to be hired; that costs money. The 80,000 people had to be fed; that costs money. They had to be accommodated for the night in a reasonable hotel; that costs money. They had to be paid an allowance; that costs money. Taking all this expenditure into consideration, the question to ask is, how many millions did it take to bring them to KL?

The 80,000 members who attended out of a proclaimed membership total of 3.5 million works out to less than three per cent of Umno’s total membership.

The actual attendance was less than 10 per cent of the earlier boast of that the event would draw one million

This lower-than-expected turnout was what was achieved after all the effort to outshine the Bersih 3.0 crowd and after spending millions of ringgit. It is nothing to crow about!

Based on this crowd, it makes no sense to claim that Malay support has returned to Umno. Facts do not support this assumption.

You only brought in a fraction of your members; you did not bring in the crowds — unlike Bersih 3.0. It is as simple as that!

The only non-Umno members who turned up — dressed in red as well — were from Barisan Nasional component parties! But we don’t know whether these allies of Umno who play a supporting and certainly a subordinate role in the BN really have the support of the people. Their presence does not amount to anything to draw comfort from.

Yes, we must not forget the presence of the others as well. According to the New Straits Times of May 12, 2012, “Among the government agencies taking part were the Royal Malaysia Police, Election Commission, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and SME Corp Malaysia.”

Why are these government agencies taking part in a function organised by Umno for its members? How do we justify the presence of these agencies at a political function? How are they aligned to Umno? Or are they actually aligned to Umno? Are they members of Umno as well?

Compare this event where everything was facilitated to ensure attendance at the Umno do to that of the Bersih 3.0 crowd. Many would immediately say, “There is no comparison!” And they would be absolutely correct.

The Bersih 3.0 crowd came willingly and voluntarily and spontaneously. There was no inducement. The only compelling factor that propelled them to come was their desire to support Bersih’s eight demands to ensure that the elections would be clean and fair. They were all fed up with the Election Commission and the way our elections have been conducted all this while. They could no longer tolerate the biased and one-sided electoral process that had worked to the unfair advantage of the BN.

The crowd of more than 250,000 that came in support of what is considered to be the biggest gathering in support of a just cause far outstripped the Umno crowd. It must be remembered that Bersih — unlike Umno — had no members to fall back on. These were all individuals from all walks of life who came freely. There was no compulsion whatsoever.

And they came fully knowing that there would be obstacles and challenges that would be very intimidating. They came ready to face — if necessary — whatever they might be subjected to. They could not be discouraged by the threat of tear gas and water cannons. That’s how determined they were; that’s how dedicated they were to the cause espoused by Bersih.

The Land Public Transport Commission would not grant licences to allow buses to bring in the Bersih crowd from out of town. Otherwise, the crowd would have been even bigger. But this transport commission had no problem in allowing more than 2,000 buses ferrying in Umno members from all over the country.

The Malaysian public will not be lulled into believing that the tide has actually turned in favour of the BN. Facts do not support this presumption.

The BN can claim anything, but it will not make any difference.

Discerning Malaysians will continue to ask, “What happened to your concern for the welfare of the people when you became Prime Minister in 2009? What happened to your compassion in 2010, when people were finding it hard to make ends meet? What happened to your goodwill in 2011, when Malaysians were wondering whether you would uplift their misery and comfort them with the billions of ringgit at your disposal?”

They will ask, “Why is it only in 2012 that are you bothered by their plight and their suffering? Is it because the election is round the corner?”

They can see through your game plan. You cannot hoodwink them anymore! —

Bar Council denies prejudice, says lawyers can call confidence vote

The Malaysian Insider
by Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — The Bar Council has dismissed accusations by Cabinet ministers that it is prejudiced and should be dissolved, insisting it has consistently spoken up for human rights and the rule of law.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein accused the Bar Council of “damaging its credibility and integrity” by rushing Friday’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) where it resolved to condemn the police for alleged brutality when dispersing tens of thousands at the April 28 Bersih rally while Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the council “should dissolve itself for bringing disrepute to the legal profession” and mooted a legal academy for all law graduates after the Malaysian Bar also resolved to demand an apology from the home minister and police chief.

But Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee told The Malaysian Insider yesterday the council “cannot be dissolved” under the Legal Profession Act but “members can propose motions of no confidence against the council members, which has happened in the past but were defeated.”

He defended the council’s move to call for the EGM, pointing out that lawyers have spoken up in the past “against any violation of human rights and failure to uphold the rule of law.”

“Witness the 1988 judicial crisis, resolution in 1998 against police brutality during the crackdowns against reformasi movement, Walk for Justice, etc,” he wrote in an email statement.

Lim said the ministers should have read the Bar’s report first as they would have seen it “is based on observations of a monitoring team comprising at least 80 members of the Bar.”

“It acknowledges good policing which facilitated peaceful assemblies in Johor Baru, Kuantan, Malacca and Ipoh, and observations of unruly and violent behaviour on the part of some of the participants.

“More importantly were observations of police brutality (at least three members of the Bar who are victims)... excessive and disproportionate use of tear gas and water cannons (without warning or necessity and exit route). The police have not learnt from past mistakes,” he said.

He also said that two previous suggestions in 1996 and 2002 to amend the Act to “dilute the independence of the Bar and of the Council or through the establishment of an Academy of Law” were opposed by Malaysian Bar resolutions.”

“The ministers in charge of law then agreed with the position of the Bar, and we see no reason for any change,” he said.

Lim said lawyers were free to set up their own associations such as the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association and the Catholic Lawyers Society but “only the Bar Council is empowered under the Act to set the standards, regulate and issue practising certificates.”

But he stressed that the “final report and the resolution are that of the Bar, not the Bar Council. We hope the ministers will provide us an opportunity to explain to them, the doors of engagement should never be shut.”

The Malaysian Bar approved the resolution on Friday after only 16 out of 1,270 lawyers opposed the resolution, which contained findings of alleged police brutality against protesters and members of the media.

A total of 939 votes were recorded in support of the resolution. There are some 14,000 members in the Malaysian Bar.

The April 28 rally, which saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka, was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.

But the former Bar Council president’s call was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted around the historic square which the court had already barred to the public over the weekend.

Just before 3pm, some protestors breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.

Police then continued to pursue the rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.

Several dozen demonstrators have claimed that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim but police also point to violence from rally-goers who also attacked a police car.

The police car then crashed into a building before some protestors flipped it on its side.

Alternate Bar?

The Sun Daily (Used by permission)
by Pauline Wong

PETALING JAYA (May 13, 2012): Is the Malaysian Bar facing an attempt to undermine its position as the voice of the legal profession?

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said on Saturday that the government agrees to the setting up of an alternate organisation for the legal profession.

Commenting on a the frustrations of some lawyers disgruntled with the Bar Council, he said a new organisation such a legal academy could be formed to represent the profession, welfare and legal interests of lawyers.

Nazri had claimed that the Malaysian Bar does not represent the majority voice of the lawyers, as even the election of the Bar Council was monopolised by a small group. “It has 20,000 members but only 1,270 attended the EGM on Friday,” he said.

However, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said the Malaysian Bar cannot be dissolved because it is established under the Legal Profession Act.

He said if there was any dissatisfaction with the leadership, members can propose motions of no-confidence against the council members.

A disgruntled member, Abdul Bakar Sidek, had called the council “stupid” and accused it of being a tool of the Opposition.

Abdul Bakar had verbally attacked the Bar Council after it held an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Friday and passed a resolution condemning the heavy-handedness of police during the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

“I am ashamed to be a member of the Bar; I wish I had an alternative,” Abdul Bakar had reportedly said.

Nazri said he was not surprised there were Malaysian Bar members who were unhappy with the body.

“I have said before that if the Bar Council wants to be involved in politics, please register as a political party,” he added.

Lim said there had been past attempts to “dilute the independence of the Bar” through the establishment of an alternate body.

In 2002, the government had tabled the Malaysian Academy of Law Bill 2002 which had sought to establish a Malaysian Academy of Law to, among others, perform duties which overlap with the functions of the Bar Council.

However, after it was tabled in June 2002, the bill was delayed to September 2002 and subsequently dropped altogether.

“The minister in charge of law then agreed with the position of the Bar,” said Lim, adding however that lawyers can set up an association of lawyers or legal practitioners such as the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association and the Catholic Lawyers Society.

“However, only the Bar Council is empowered under the Act to set the standards, regulate and issue practising certificates,” Lim stressed.

Lim also addressed criticisms that the council had failed to be an unbiased and independent body, as its final report on the Bersih 3.0 rally was deemed as “one-sided” and sympathetic towards the rally organisers.

The rally, which saw tens of thousands of people taking to the streets for clean and fair elections, was initially planned as a peaceful sit-in at Dataran Merdeka.

Najib Launches Friends Of Barisan Nasional UK

From Nor Faridah Abd Rashid

LONDON, May 14 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Monday launched the 'Friends of Barisan Nasional UK' (FBNUK) which will actively seek to promote closer ties with the United Kingdom and disseminate reliable, timely and accurate information to the Malaysian diaspora in this country.

He said he hoped that the unique group could address these issues.

"A lot has changed over the last few years, and we want to make sure you get to hear about it. Our economy has been liberalised, creating jobs and increasing the wealth of ordinary Malaysians," said Najib, who arrived here this morning with his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, for a two-day working visit.

His message to Malaysians in the UK was, "please connect more closely with Malaysia and play a bigger role in our national development, either by returning home or - less ambitiously but no less importantly - by sharing your considerable expertise with our national institutions from your base in Britain".

"There's room under the Malaysian sun for all our countrymen and women whoever they are and however they choose to contribute. Everyone has a part to play, everyone can make a difference and everyone can grow and prosper," he said when launching the FBNUK at the House of Lords, here.

Besides Rosmah, present at the event were Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK Datuk Seri Zakaria Sulong and wife Datin Hazizah Zakaria, as well as a number of British public figures such as Lord Howell of Guildford and Lord Sheikh of Cornhill.

Addressing over 100 people at the launch, Najib said: "We're still a young nation and the journey ahead is an exciting one, so I urge you, keep abreast of what's happening at home and be ready to step up and play your part."

The prime minister said he had previously mentioned that the era of 'government knows best' was well and truly over.

"The most important job of the government today is not just to listen but to truly hear the people's voice...and that means yours as well," he said.

Najib said that government services in Malaysia had been revolutionised, including improving education, developing rural infrastructure, expanding public transport, reducing poverty, cutting crime and corruption, and bringing down the cost of living.

Malaysia has also unveiled the most significant package of political reforms since its independence, he said, pointing out to the repeal of outdated security laws, implementation of new measures to enhance media freedoms and taking a range of important steps to clean up elections.

Last month, Parliament passed the Printing Presses and Publications (Amendment) Bill 2012 aimed at removing the 'absolute power' of the minister in passing or rejecting the licence for printing presses and also voted to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA), among others.

Najib also touched on the brutal assault of Malaysian student Ashraf Haziq Rossli during the riots that rocked Britain last year.

"But we (Malaysians) were touched when, in the aftermath, thousands upon thousands of Britons expressed first their anger at the mob and then their heartfelt concern and support for Ashraf.

"And I would like to express my gratitude to everyone in Britain who reached out to this young Malaysian in his hour of need," he said.

"The incident was proof, as if any were needed, that Britain and Malaysia are united in our values -- but we're equally united in our commitment to increasing prosperity, raising living standards and building open, outward-facing economies," Najib said.

The prime minister drew the attention of his audience to the fact that ever since the East India Company first set up its regional base in Penang more than 200 years ago, Malaysia's trade links with the UK had been strong.

"And they're getting stronger, with Prime Minister (David) Cameron's visit to our country last month putting an end, in his words, to the era of 'benign neglect'," he said.

Najib also mentioned the many legacies from Britain to Malaysia and highlighted the remarks made by Malaysia's first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman back then that the "rulers had departed and returned to Malaysia not just as friends but as the best of friends".

And this, said Najib, was certainly true as Britain stood to this day as a great friend to Malaysia.

Also in attendance were FBNUK president and Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Michael Yeoh, AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Lim Kok Wing University president Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing.