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Friday, May 25, 2012

Minorities at risk following Arab Spring - rights group

Egyptian Coptic Christian women grieve after a mass funeral for seven victims of sectarian clashes at Samaan el-Kharaz Church in Manshiet Nasr shantytown in eastern Cairo, March 10, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

By Emma Batha

LONDON (AlertNet) - Minorities across the Arab world face increasing risks to their lives following last year’s revolutions, rights activists have warned following the release of an annual list of people under threat.

Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria have all risen up the table since last year, according to Minority Rights Group whose survey seeks to identify those people at greatest risk of genocide, mass killing or other violent repression.

“If 2011 will be remembered as the year of the Arab Spring, then 2012 could become the year the revolutions soured,” said MRG Executive Director Mark Lattimer.

“The huge changes taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, while increasing hopes for democratisation, represent for both religious and ethnic minorities perhaps the most dangerous episode since the violent break-up of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia.”

Although the Peoples under Threat survey shows many states in North Africa and the Middle East have risen up the rankings, none of them is in the top 10.

The most dangerous countries for minorities are listed as Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Iran.

The highest new entry is South Sudan, which gained independence in July. A history of cattle raiding between several ethnic groups has developed into inter-communal violence on a highly organised scale, MRG said.


MRG said that in Libya, where strongman Muammar Gaddafi was toppled last October, former rebels still hold up to 6,000 people arrested during or after the conflict. Up to half are thought to be sub-Saharan migrants or black Libyans, according to MRG which said some had been tortured to death.

Systematic repression also continues against black Libyans from the town of Tawergha, which Gaddafi used as a base to shell the coastal city of Misrata. They deny accusations they collaborated with Gaddafi but have been forced to leave their hometown. Thousands now live in displacement camps.

MRG said that in Egypt increasing numbers of Copts are reported to be leaving the country following attacks on churches and intimidation.

In Syria, members of the president’s minority Alawite sect fear for their fate if the conflict intensifies. Syriac Christians are also worried about the possibility of attacks from Sunni militants, MRG said.

In Yemen, thousands of members of the marginalised Akhdam community have taken to the streets to protest against the racism they face. Anthropologists have compared the Akhdam to the "untouchable" caste of India.

"Differences between Sunni and Shia, Muslims and non-Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs, are all expressions of an internal diversity in the Arab world that is often under-estimated and which depends on mutual respect. These differences must not become fault lines for mass killing," Lattimer added.

MRG says almost all of the significant episodes of civilian killing last year happened in countries which were high up or major risers in its 2011 Peoples Under Threat list.

The top 10 risers this year are: South Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Libya, Kosovo, Mali and Egypt.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

'Cruel and heartless' dad jailed after depriving mum of children

A "CRUEL and heartless" father who admitted snatching his two children and taking them to Pakistan has been jailed for five years.

Derby Crown Court heard how Mohammed Tariq told his children that their mother, Tracey Martin, was dead after he took them abroad 11 years ago.
Tariq then took Gary, who was nine at the time, and Lisa, who was seven, from their family home in Dryden Street, Sunny Hill.

Steven Coupland, prosecuting, said, while the children were abroad, Lisa, now 18, had limited schooling, was subjected to physical abuse by others and contemplated suicide. He said Gary, now 21, got into trouble with police.

Mrs Martin spent the next decade fighting to get back her children. The 42-year-old told the Derby Telegraph how she hired solicitors and a private investigator.

Her efforts and those of the British authorities were unsuccessful. In 2010, Derbyshire police received an anonymous tip-off Tariq was back in the city but officers were unable to find him.

But, in October last year, Detective Constable Steve Fuller reviewed the case and found that Tariq was living in a rented property in Abbotts Barn Close, Derby. Tariq was arrested on December 1.

Judge Hilary Watson said his behaviour was "cruel and heartless". She said: "You deprived your children of an opportunity to have a relationship with their mother throughout their childhood."

And, of telling the children their mother had died, she added: "I cannot think of a more terrible and more shocking thing to say to two children."

She also imposed a 10-year restraining order on Tariq, which prevents him contacting Mrs Martin or Lisa.
It was not until August last year that Mrs Martin was reunited with daughter Lisa, who now lives with her at her Derbyshire home. Gary stayed in Pakistan. Mrs Martin has not seen him, although she is in touch.

After the sentencing, Mrs Martin said: "I had said any amount of sentence wouldn't be enough after what he's done but I am pleased with what he's been given. At least Lisa will be able to get on with her life without looking over her shoulder. The judge has been good giving him what he deserves."

Stuart Lody, in mitigation, said there were "two sides to matrimonial breakdowns", citing cultural differences and Tariq joining the Territorial Army among the reasons. He said, after Tariq suffered a back injury when he was partially crushed by a forklift, he was in "considerable chronic pain" and his doctor said a warmer climate would assist him.

Mr Lody said Tariq's intention had only been to go to Pakistan for six months and that he had purchased return flight tickets but he put the children into school and they settled. A letter was sent from Gary to his cousins in England describing his life as "brilliant". Mr Lody said: "Gary decided to stay in Pakistan, so life couldn't have been so awful."

He said Tariq and the children lived in an isolated area, making communications "difficult in the extreme".
He also said Tariq did not realise he was committing an offence.

But Judge Watson said numerous court orders were made in relation to the children and returning them to the UK, of which Tariq would have been aware. She added: "It is very difficult to weigh up what you say was in the children's best interest and the reality of what happened to the children."

After the sentencing, Det Con Fuller said: "I am extremely satisfied with the sentence, which I feel reflects the seriousness of this case and the pain Tracey and her children have suffered.

"Tracey's family can feel reassured by the sentence and by the extended protection that the 10-year restraining order provides."

600 photos and a video and still no arrest

Traders, youths and bikers at anti-Ambiga protest

As polls loom, Putrajaya to unveil ‘rescue’ mission for Indians

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 – Officials in Putrajaya will huddle with a team of professionals over the next few months to formulate a comprehensive plan aimed at “rescuing” the country’s Indian poor, in an apparent effort by Barisan Nasional (BN) to cement their support from the community ahead of an election expected soon.

The initiative, announced today by Datuk Seri G. Palanivel (picture), is expected to be finalised during a roundtable conference to be chaired by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, which is expected to be called by July.

Among others, the conference will include representatives from the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, International Trade and Industry Ministry, Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, Women’s Development Department, Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM), Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), Singapore Indian Development Association, Entrepreneur Economic Fund (Tekun), Petronas, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Securities Commission (SC), Indian contractors, businessmen, academicians, consultants bankers and those in the agriculture industry.

Palanivel, who was appointed to the post of lead minister for Indian affairs under Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) last year, said the government could not take its Indian support for granted, despite reports that the community has begun returning to BN’s fold.

“The prime minister must help us. He has to give us a sizeable budget to take the Indian community out of their present problems,” he told a press conference here after meeting with several think tank groups on the proposed initiave.

“For the Indian support to return to BN, we need to rescue the people. The more we do that, the more our support will grow.

“We cannot depend on the existing support and be confident that everyone has come back to us. The more we help them, the more they grow confident and the more our support will grow.”

The MIC president said that at least 30 per cent of the country’s Indian community are either living in poverty or in dismal conditions, suffering from debt problems and are unable to make ends meet.

He said the government must take immediate action to “rescue” the group from their problems by formulating a basic roadmap to transform their current socioeconomic positions using short, medium and long term solutions.

The conference, added Palanivel, will discuss a 10-year plan to bring about such transformations and identify key areas of concern where immediate help can be given to the community.

“A good percentage of the community has been marginalised... they are trapped in poverty, earning low or no income, trapped with money lenders, their homes facing auction, they are unable to pay their basic utility bills, they cannot send their children to school, pay bus fares for them and so on... they are in deep problem,” he said.

Palanivel said that today’s meeting with the think tank groups also discussed a proposal to start an “urban transformation centre” for the Indians, where individuals could seek counselling or advice on how to resolve their problems.

“They (the think tanks) were telling me that unless we take these kinds of steps, we will not be able to lift the community out of their present position... so they want me to create a very powerful transformation centre,” he said.

Palanivel said he will put together a basic working paper over the next two weeks before presenting the proposal to the prime minister, ahead of the planned conference.

“We will tell the PM, this is our socioeconomic agenda and we would like him to chair this meeting (conference).

“The PM can open the conference and listen to their views and then he himself will make some announcements that will bring some benefit to the Indian community,” he said.

It has been more than four years since over 30,000 members of the Indian community marched during the infamous Hindraf gathering in November 2007 to protest against allegedly unfair policies of the BN government.

The Indian community has long been seen as a “fixed deposit” vote bank for BN but Hindraf’s march to the Petronas Twin Towers blew the lid on the group’s simmering frustration over being left out of development for decades.

The tumultuous event, together with Bersih’s first march for free and fair elections, have been credited for the staggering losses suffered by the ruling coalition during the March 8, 2008, general election.

The historic polls saw BN only taking 140 seats in the 222-seat Parliament, losing its customary two-thirds majority, as well as four state governments and Kelantan, which has remained in PAS hands for 20 over years. A coalition needs 112 MPs to gain a simple majority and 148 to win two-thirds.

However since then, the now outlawed Hindraf movement has split up, with some leaders favouring the BN government while others have aligned themselves with the federal opposition or grown completely disenchanted with both coalition.

Ambiga says sorry for not trying harder

The Bersih co-chairman apologised to all Malaysians for not championing the cause for fair and free elections more strongly.

KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih co-chairman S Ambiga apologised to Malaysians but said it had nothing to do with the apology demand from the protesters.

Groups of protesters earlier demanded an apology from Ambiga for organising the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

“I am honoured to be the co-chairman of Bersih with Pak Samad (National Laureate A Samad Said).

“I am prepared to apologise for not fighting harder for free and fair elections,” Ambiga said in reference to the memorandums handed in by Kuala Lumpur Traders Action Council and the 1Malaysia Youth Movement.

The memorandums were filled with various accusations against her.

She also apologised to her neighbours because the presence of the protest groups had turned “my neighbourhood like a war zone”.

Ambiga, who is a former Bar Council president, also had a message for the traders seeking compensation.

“Weigh the gains of free and fair elections against it [the losses that traders suffered].”

She also was a little disappointed with the authorities who allowed the group of protesters to come to her street.

“The authorities should have nipped it in the bud; nevertheless I thank them,” Ambiga said.

S’gor lancar tabung bantu Ambiga

Tabung itu juga akan digunakan untuk kos guaman terhadap peserta Bersih yang ditangkap termasuk 113 individu yang dikehendaki polis.

PETALING JAYA: Kerajaan Negeri Selangor melancarkan tabung bagi menampung kos saman dan guaman untuk Pengerusi Bersama Bersih, Datuk S Ambiga dan sembilan ahli jawatankuasa Bersih yang difailkan kerajaan bagi menuntut ganti rugi berjumlah RM122,000.

Exco kerajaan negeri, Dr Xavier Jayakumar berkata tabung itu juga akan digunakan untuk kos guaman terhadap peserta Bersih yang ditangkap termasuk 113 individu yang dikehendaki polis semasa perhimpunan Bersih 3.0 pada 28 April lalu.

Tabung itu yang dilancarkan hari ini turut mendapat kerjasama daripada aktivis badan bukan kerajaan (NGO).

Beliau turut menyeru agar rakyat Malaysia bersama-sama menyumbang RM1 seorang ke dalam tabung ini.

“Tabung ini juga akan digunakan untuk kos guaman terhadap peserta Bersih yang telah ditangkap atau terhadap 113 peserta dikehendaki pihak polis semasa perhimpunan Bersih 3.0.

“Sebuah Sekretariat juga ditubuhkan bagi mengumpul dana kutipan dari orang ramai dan sebuah nombor akuan bank akan dimaklumkan kepada umum dalam masa terdekat.

“Sekretariat tersebut juga akan melancarkan ‘nationwide roadshow’ bagi menangkis segala tohmahan dan gambaran negatif kerajaan

Barisan Nasional (BN) yang menyalahguna media arus perdana pro-BN terhadap perhimpunan Bersih 3.0 tersebut,” katanya menerusi satu kenyataan media hari ini.

Semalam kerajaan memfailkan saman menuntut gantirugi berjumlah RM122,000 terhadap Pengerusi Bersama Bersih, Datuk S Ambiga serta sembilan lagi ahli jawatankuasa pemandu gabungan tersebut kerana didakwa gagal mengawal perhimpunan anjurannya pada 28 April lalu sehingga pihak kerajaan terpaksa menanggung kerugian.

Selain Ambiga ahli jawatankuasa pemandu itu yang disaman ialah Maria Chin Abdullah, Zaid Kamarudin, Haris Fathillah Mohamed, K Arumugam, S Arul Prakkash, Wong Chin Huat, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Toh Kin Woon dan Andrew Khoo.

Another land grab charge against S’gor govt

Former Ladang Coalfields workers claim that the Pakatan-led government had acquired 10 acres of land allocated to them as compensation.

SUNGAI BULOH: A storm is brewing against the Selangor government over another land grab allegation.

This time it is the former Ladang Coalfields workers, who claim that the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government had acquired 10 acres of land allocated to them as compensation, for its own purpose.

Last week, former Bukit Raja plantation workers had alleged that the state government diverted eight of the 15 acres awarded to them as compensation, to build luxury homes to be sold to the public.

Former Ladang Coalfields estate worker Lobat Raju, 44, claimed that while the Barisan Nasional government had “cheated” the estate workers some 20 years ago, it is now time for the Pakatan led Selangor government to do the same.

“We want the state government to give back our land,” he said, adding that the 10 acres “stolen” from the former workers have been earmarked for a fully residential Tamil school.

“This was even announced by the Menteri Besar (Abdul Khalid Ibrahim)…We are not against the fully residential Tamil school. But, it is unfair for the state government to use our land for its own political mileage,” he told FMT.

“Its like ‘lembu punya susu, sapi dapat nama’ [someone works hard but someone else enjoys fruits of the labour],” he added.

Lobat (photo) said the problem began when owners of Ladang Coalfields terminated the employment of its workers in 1991. The firm was sold and ownership transferred to KL-Kepong Country Homes Sdn Bhd.

“Since 1991, the workers fought for their rights until Pakatan took over Selangor in 2008. In June 2008, we approached Dr Xavier Jayakumar [who is in charge of health, plantation workers, poverty and caring government in the state exco], and explained our plight.

“He spoke to KL-Kepong Bhd, the parent company of Kl-Kepong Country Homes, and later told us that the developer had agreed to set aside 10 acres for us to build our own homes.

“A Tamil paper, Malaysian Nanban, carried the story quoting him. I still have the report. We believed him [Xavier] and were very happy,” he added.

Lobat also furnished copy of the news report to FMT.

The news report, dated June 30, 2008, contained quotes of Xavier declaring that both Bukit Raja and Ladang Coalfields workers were awarded 15 acres and 10 acres respectively.

“However, lately he is singing a different tune saying that he never promised any land to us,” said Lobat Raju.

Recently, when contacted by FMT, Xavier stood his ground despite being told of the newspaper report.

He also disputed the land size awarded to the Bukit Raja plantation workers, saying the former estate workers wanted landed property and the court had ruled in their favour.

Lobat, however, said estate workers felt cheated and that there was no difference between the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan.

“Both are treacherous. Politicians are working just to remain in power… not to uplift our living standards,” he said, with tears in his eyes.

[Main photo taken from]

Ambiga a victim of race and religion, says Pak Samad

(Malaysiakini) Today, as Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan's Bukit Damansara residence is turned into a bizarre combination of a mini market, crime scene and conflict zone with pro- and anti-Ambiga groups taking their positions under the watchful eyes of the authorities outside her house, it is business as usual at the Bangsar Utama flat of her fellow co-chairperson A Samad Said.

Since the Bersih 3.0 protest on April 28 which organisers claimed saw some 250,000 participants taking to the streets of Kuala Lumpur, anti-Bersih groups have taken their counter-protest to the doorstep of Ambiga’s residence with burger stalls, butt exercises and now, a mini-market.

But for the 77-year-old A Samad, or more fondly known as Pak Samad, the situation at his residence has been anything but unusual, despite his cheeky baiting of the protesters at Ambiga’s residence.

This tale of two Bersih chiefs, Pak Samad said, is likely because Ambiga is being targeted for her race, religion and to some extent, gender; issues that are often played up by the powers-that-be.

NONE“Ambiga should rightfully lead, she is a lawyer with vast experience, she has received various awards but unfortunately, she is an Indian, a non-Muslim, that is unfortunate.

“If Ambiga was me, these threats targeting her would not have happened,” he said in an interview with Malaysiakini on Tuesday.

Adding that race was inherently a contentious issue, he said this is being manipulated and perpetrated by the powers-that-be with claims such as the position of Malays are being threatened.

The national laureate added that he, too, has faced accusations of a similar nature, though not as severe as the harassment faced by Ambiga.

‘I’m already Malay, I want to be Malaysian’

Among the accusations, he said, was that he has betrayed his own race by participating in the Bersih movement.

“To say that I am not championing my race... There is no need to ask me to be Malay, I am already Malay, I want to be Malaysian,” he said in his usual poetic tone.

The septuagenarian added that he has also been labelled as senile, to which he said: “Then those who have invited me to speak, must be really foolish to invite a senile old man to talk.”

NONE“I grow old not to become stupid, I grow old to become wiser,” he added.

His age, added Pak Samad, has allowed him to break free of being the “slave of power”, which he described as the mainstream media when he was a journalist and editor.

“At that time, I worked in the newspapers, a servant of the powers-that-be. That time, I thought, I had children to care for, a family to care for.

“Because of that, I swallowed whatever bitterness there was for the sake of my family... But now, I am prepared to be langgar (hit),” he said.

NONEPak Samad is perhaps the most prominent literati in the electoral reform movement, but not all his literary colleagues share his activism, with some frowning on his action.

“The literary community is quite divided... it is not about the label of literati, but for individuals to decide whether we want to improve our democracy,” he said.

Pak Samad added that it was not his duty to convince fellow literati to the cause, instead, it was up to them to ask their heart if they should join the movement.

“My duty is merely to explain the state of our country, whether we want this to continue or we want a change,” he said.

By opting for a ‘road not taken’ by many others of his stature, the spotlight has fallen on Pak Samad, who has since been offered bodyguard protection.

“But I rejected (the bodyguards), at my age and this point of my life, even with tens of bodyguards, if my time has come, I will still die... I do not want to be accompanied by bodyguards aside from my wife, that is fate, if it’s time for death then it is death,” he said.

Stones, eggs rain on Anwar's ceramah

Stones and eggs were again thrown at a Pakatan Rakyat ceramah, causing one senior citizen to suffer injuries to the head.

The incident happened at about 11pm, when PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim was speaking at a ceramah at Apartment Pantai Permai, Kuala Lumpur which is within the PKR held constituency of Pantai Dalam.

pantai dalam kerinchi pkr 240512According to eye-witnesses, the projectile was hurled into the crowd from an Umno function at the Pantai Dalam Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) quarters next door.

This happened about 30 minutes after the power supply for the event was allegedly sabotaged and hastily restored.

Despite the disruptions, the ceramah was able to proceed as participants remained calm and allowed Anwar to finish his speech.

Earlier, at about 9pm, some 80 people in red shirts gathered outside the PKR ceramah venue and chanted "Tibai (whack)", which is the acronym of a newly formed anti-Anwar group.

This is the second time in a week in which stones and eggs were thrown at a Pakatan ceramah. The last incident happened at Merlimau, Malacca on Saturday.

Wan Azizah Condemns Lawsuit Against Ambiga-Bersih: Don’t Deflect Attention!

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (Keadilan) and Pakatan Rakyat hereby strongly condemn the decision by prime minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak to prosecute S. Ambiga and the Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee, for damages done by others, who include agent provocateurs.

Till now, except for the case of 25-year-old Mohd Safuan Mamat, where he was beaten up in an attempt to extract a confession, when Safuan went to the police station voluntarily, the police has not ascertained who damaged the police vehicles but are already bringing a civil suit against S. Ambiga and the Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee to seek RM122,000 in special damages for 15 police vehicles damaged during the protest, including two water cannon trucks.

It is also not transparent how the damages have been assessed in the first place, because there were no witnesses from both parties. Could it be possible that some damages have been further done to the vehicles in order to create a bigger loss?

Focus on the 8 electoral reforms

Going further, instead of pursuing a civil suit or pressing charges on the civil society movement, the Government should focus on the eight demands of Bersih.

Keadilan calls on Najib to focus on the eight demands by Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee, and ensure that all resources are focused on cleaning up the electoral roll and to make the electoral roll foolproof against any forms of cheating. After all, these people are doing a national service without being asked to be put on the already bloated government’s payroll.

Both EC chief and deputy must resign

Keadilan calls upon Prime Minister Najib to clean up the electoral roll before the next General Election and deal with the other issues such as gerrymandering and mal-apportionment to ensure that we have a clean and fair election.

Both the chairman and deputy chairman of the Election Commission should be asked to resign to pave the way for a new team who can work closely with the civil society to ensure the electoral process is foolproof.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail
president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat

Najib has discarded the robes of “the Great Transformer” for those of “the Great Reactionary” signaling he is no more prepared to listen to the real voices of the people for change

The Najib government’s gross mishandling of Bersih 3.0 of April 28 is proving to be even more disastrous than its initial mishandling of Bersih 2.0 of July 9, 2011.

At least, the Najib administration realized in the nick of time and reined in its excessive over-reactions to the Bersih 2.0, performing a volte face two months later by announcing on Malaysia Day on Sept. 16 a slew of repeal or reform of draconian laws like the abolition of Internal Security Act to make Malaysia “the best democracy in the world”.

Ever since, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has taken pains to emphasise that no one else but the Barisan Nasional should take credit for the slew of reform of draconian laws, like the revocation of the four Emergency Proclamations, the repeal of the Internal Security Act, amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act and enactment of the Peaceful Assembly Act because the Barisan Nasional government is prepared to “listen to Malaysians who want change”.

I concede that Najib and the Barisan Nasional Government had attempted to listen to Malaysians who wanted change as represented by the Bersih 2.0 rally which saw 50,000 Malaysians peacefully gathering in Kuala Lumpur for free, fair and clean elections.

But the government had not listened fully or attentively, which is why four or even five times the number of people who turned out on Bersih 2.0 – some 250,000 Malaysians – gathered peacefully in Kuala Lumpur on April 28 in response to Bersih 3.0 call for free, fair and clean elections.

The Najib government at least made an effort to the listen to the people’s demands in Bersih 2.0 although the efforts at reform proved to be half-hearted, half-baked and generally unsatisfactory like the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms.

But what has distinguished the Najib administration’s reaction to Bersih 3.0 as compared to Bersih 2.0 is its complete inability and refusal to “listen to the people’s demands for change”.

Instead, the Najib administration launched a concerted and systematic campaign of vilification and demonization against Bersih 3.0 illustrated by:

(i) the wild and irresponsible allegation by the Prime Minister that Bersih 3.0 was an anti-national conspiracy to topple the government;

(ii) the instant, blind and unthinking support given to this conspiracy theory by the former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar;

(iii) establishment of an “independent advisory panel” headed by Tun Hanif to conduct an inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 violence although it does not enjoy support, trust and confidence of the Malaysian public, totally lacking in credibility and legitimacy; and

(iv) a most biased, one-sided and tendentious 30-minute documentary entitled “Bersih 3.0 itu Kotor” broadcast on TV1 to poison the minds of viewers on Bersih 3.0 and proof that the government is not prepared to keep an open mind to allow for an objective and impartial inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 violence and brutality.

Four recent events have banished beyond a shadow of doubt hopes that the Najib administration would be prepared to be open-minded and listen to Malaysians in Bersih 3.0 as had happened after Bersih 2.0, namely:

(i) The ridiculous claim by the Minister for Information, Communications and Culture, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim that there were only 22,270 people who joined the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, and not hundreds of thousands of people;

(ii) The incessant harassment of Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan, violating her privacy, human and citizenship rights;

(iii) The prosecution of Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PKR leaders Azmin Ali and Badrul Hashim for offences under the Peaceful Assembly Act in connection with Bersih 3.0; and

(iv) The “last straw” – the government suing Ambiga and the Bersih 2.0 steering committee for alleged damages amounting to RM122,000 on Bersih 3.0.

The message that Najib is sending loud and clear is that he has exchanged the robes of “the Great Transformer” for those of “the Great Reactionary” as he is no more prepared to listen to the real voices and legitimate aspirations of Malaysians for change!

Malaysian Observer TV | Forum on Race Relation Laws: Backward or Forward (31 May 2012)

ImageThe latest programme held under the Siri Pemikiran Kritis (SPK) banner was a forum on the proposed race relations law. It was held on 31 Mar 2012 at the Raja Aziz Addruse Auditorium, Bar Council. The forum featured a line-up of interesting and knowledgeable speakers: Associate Professor Dr Azmi Sharom, Syahredzan Johan and Faisal Moideen. The forum was moderated by Ambiga Sreenevasan.

To watch the video that was aired on Malaysian Observer TV, please click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

Press Release: Malaysian Bar Commends Announcement of the Establishment of an Independent Law Reform Commission

ImageThe Malaysian Bar commends Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s reported announcement that the Government will look into establishing “an independent law reform commission to review and modernise archaic laws in the country”.   This echoes a similar announcement made by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Liew Vui Keong, on 8 November 2011.

The Malaysian Bar has repeatedly called for the establishment of an independent law reform commission that would undertake research, public consultations and legal policy development, and make recommendations to the Parliament, without fear or favour.

Malaysia only needs to look to the New South Wales Law Commission in Australia, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the English Law Commission for model legislation and set-up.

The Malaysian Bar also welcomes the Minister’s reported statement that the commission will comprise “people from all walks of life”.  In our press release of 14 December 2011, we had applauded Datuk Liew Vui Keong’s reported announcement that the composition of the commission would include “retired or serving federal court judges, retired or serving law professors, experts or specialists on law, senior and experienced lawyers as well as senior members of the civil society.”

The Malaysian Bar expresses the hope that the words of the Minister, and the Deputy Minister before him, are not merely “feel-good” rhetoric uttered ahead of a much-anticipated general election.  The issue of law reform is too critical and too pressing to be used as a political gimmick to garner votes and electoral support.  If the Malaysian Government is genuine and has the political will to fulfil its stated desire, then the Malaysian Bar would be more than willing to assist and play an active role in the process of forming and participating in this long overdue law reform commission.
Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar

Senior citizen injured as stones, eggs hurled at PKR ceramah

Stone and eggs were thrown at a PKR ceramah near flats in Lembah Pantai last night and one senior citizen, a PKR supporter, was injured.

Among those speaking at the ceramah were Anwar and his daughter Nurul Izzah, the MP for Lembah Pantai.
Lawyer Fadiah Nadwa tweeted:
Power supply was also interrupted and the speakers “sabotaged”, according to a tweet by Nurul Izzah. She added that she also spoke to Shah Alam Khalid Samad and found out that his tyres had been slashed.
The TV Selangor website reported that several groups of Mat Rempits revved their engines in a bid to disrupt the PKR speeches.
Another ceramah organised by Umno-Tibai was being held close to the site of the PKR ceramah.
A tweet by a ronasin sums it up: “Lembah Pantai memang daerah unik sebab di situ ada hujan batu dan telur. Dulu ada lembu dalam kondo.”
Irrationality – by a minority who perhaps have a lot to lose – rules the day. A sign of increasing desperation ahead of the coming general election.
I wonder how Utusan and TV3 are going to report this