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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Old or new, a myth remains a myth

by Parthiban Muniandy

In 1977, the brilliant Syed Hussein Alatas published one of the most important sociological works on Malayan and Malaysian social history, the Myth of the Lazy Native.

The book came around the same period as that of Orientalism by Edward Said, which captured the imaginations of scholars and activists engaged in the field known as post-colonial theory.

Few would argue against the fact that Orientalism deserves its place as one of the foundational texts of postcolonial studies.

Said's book was about the narratives, discourses and depictions of non-Western cultures produced by colonial experts and ‘explorers'- journals, scientific explorations, travellers, writers, novelists and so on.

These narratives served to project Western European ideologies about the cultures and people of the Middle-East, often as static, unchanging, and pre-modern.

The purpose, Said explains, was not to produce accurate or grounded accounts of those cultures, but to emphasise the importance of the modern colonial project and the virtues of European civilisation.

In other words, to redefine and clarify what it means to be European, by writing about ‘Others' seen as different and non-European.

Syed Hussein's Myth of the Lazy Native, though surprisingly not as recognised as Orientalism, in many ways parallels the arguments Said put forth, except now in the specific case of South-East Asia.

Myths have always been an integral part to the nation-building project; people have relied upon symbols and narratives that aim to capture a sense of collective identity and history that communities and their leaders can espouse to.

In our case, for example, these may include ancient Hindu-Sanskrit mythologies in the form of epics, and that of Hang Tuah.

However, there are also myths created in another sense - myth about those deemed to be different from us.

Myths about races and ethnic groups abound in Malaysian society and these are rooted in the racial ideology that was introduced by our former British masters.

Syed Hussein describes how the reluctance and disinterest shown by local indigenous people to participate in the colonial labour enterprises was used against them by the British as a sign of indolence and laziness.

The historical descriptions are detailed and complex, but the underlying principle is beautifully simple - there was never a need for local natives of Malaya to participate in the colonial industries and labour, as they already had their own ways of life and systems of economic production.

However, since colonialism by definition was about indentured servitude to fuel imperial desires and European Civilisation, the need for indentured labour power drove the British to use the perceived laziness of the natives to draft in other migrant workers, primarily Chinese and Indians.

The excuses that were used included constructions of myths about these migrant groups, usually as a broad comparison to the natives; the Chinese were deemed industrious, hardworking but cunning, while the Indians compliant but prone to aggression and violence.

Each group was placed in separate and distinct sectors, with divisions maintained at every turn.

It is not hard to see how this led inevitably to the racial myths we depend upon even till this day.

This is the three-headed Cerberus of Malaysia, the source of ethnic politics that exploded in 1969, and continues to define the contours of political struggle today.

Do we not still hold some form of broad general beliefs about the different races in our country?

Many of these ideological beliefs have brought about very real consequences- think of the Hindraf movement in recent years, in which a large group of enfeebled and marginalised minorities are seeking redistributive justice from the British crown for ultimately being the root of their status as second class citizens.

In fact, the very idea that citizenship privileges in Malaysia are based upon racial differences is a result of the perpetuation of old myths about difference.

It is those mythical differences that we are hopefully trying to move beyond with the politics of today.

Parties, in power and in opposition, are starting to realise that race-based discourses are increasingly obsolete and cannot be sustained, despite the presence of some hyper-conservative groups.

Voting citizens are more aware that in order to ensure better representation of their needs and interests, solidarity has to be built and sustained across racial, gender, religious and class differences.

We must contend and come face to face with those myths that we have grown so used to and admit to ourselves that we have been wrong in assuming such stereotypes to be true- that some ‘groups' of people are inherently polite or rude, rowdy or well-mannered, violent or deceitful, lazy or hard-working.

It is the same as myths about women and Asians being bad drivers, or Arabs being prone to terrorism, or Islam being inherently undemocratic- all ideological shorthand to justify discrimination, bigotry and prejudice.

Yet, while I do believe many of us are starting to move beyond racial myths ingrained in our society, in their place we are replacing new, more concerning myths that have worrying echoes of colonialism.

Having seen a mass influx of labour migration in the past decade, Malaysia is now home to a far more diverse and heterogenous polity.

We are understandably confused and sometimes threatened by a sense of loss; loss of what used to look and feel familiar.

Some of us may feel that things (society, culture, values, and people) have become more fragmented and intensely connected at the same time.

David Harvey calls this time-space compression under post-modernity.

While this is debatable, one thing may hold true for Malaysian society.

We have most definitely been seeing the rise of new myths about new migrant communities in our midst- the perception, in general, that ‘they are here to take our jobs and money' is most common, but so are more subtle and insidious myths about different migrant workers.

We think of some as being a major reason for increasing crime rates (unskilled/low skilled male migrant workers from South Asia, Africa and the Middle East) despite actual crime statistics pointing in the opposite direction (migrant workers make up almost a third of our labour force, but only 2 percent of crimes are committed by them).

We think of others as somehow less than human and therefore not entitled to the same basic rights and protections (female domestic workers, whom we call ‘maids', are not even deemed worthy of getting a single day off per week and are expected to stay indoors preferably with no outside contact).

The proliferation of such myths may be a signal of the threat we feel to our own status as citizens, by the sense that we need to have someone to blame for an increasingly uncertain and turbulent global world.

On the other hand, it may also be that ingrained ideology that some people will always be inferior to us that has long been a foundational belief in our national culture which is rearing its head in new ways.

Whichever it is, we have to be critically aware that we do not perpetuate new myths in order to replace the old ones, risking the possibility of having a Malaysian nation that is truly humane, just and worth defending.

Merdeka is for all M'sians, not for one party

By Vinod Naidu Munikrishnayya

I refer to the newly launched Merdeka theme "promises fulfilled" launched over the weekend.

An independence day celebration is a day to appreciate the progress of our beloved nation and along with the ups and downs that we have undergone ever since 1957.

This day is to be celebrated and cherished by each and every Malaysia across the political and race divide.

Having a political party's theme as the independence day theme does not do it justice.

[Premier Najib Abdul Razak has been on the election trail on the 'Jelajah Janti Ditepati' (Promises Fulfilled Tour) in recent weeks.]

I don't think we want to see only a portion of Malaysians celebrating it. This is not the anniversary of the existence of a political party but of a nation, do not mix it with politics.

Keep those political party themes for your party events and campaign, leave independence day alone.

All previous themes from ‘Muhibah dan Perpaduan', ‘Bersatu Maju, 'Bersatu Menuju Wawasan' until ‘Perpaduan Teras Kejayaan' helped reignite the patriotism within each one of us.

Political themes will not remind us of our independence struggle and to some might, even ignite hatred.

I sincerely request that national day themes current and in future, to be for all Malaysians and not for a political party.

'Rectify injustices felt by Indian M'sians'

Muslims of Uttar Pradesh trying hard to foil over Hindus for establishing an Islamic supremacy.

Gaziabad under Islamic Flame

Wretched condition of Uttar Pradesh Hindus under Samjwadi Govt led by Akhilesh Singh, Mulla Mulayam Singh and Azam Khan.

Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh : One Hindu killed, 25 injured in communal clash between Hindu & Muslims.

One Hindu killed in Gaziabad. Hindus protested with dead body in Local Police Station.
Ghaziabad: Monday, July 09, 2012 :: At least one person was killed and 25 others injured in a clash which broke out between two communities after a minor road rage incident in Farukh Nagar town near here.
All the injured were admitted to Narendra Mohan hospital and further probe was on, said Superintendent of Police Ghaziabad City, Shiv Shankar Yadav.
Last evening, a biker Viresh Tyagi was returning home when he hit a child in the Farukh Nagar area of Sahibabad. After the incident Viresh also allegedly thrashed some people who entered into argument with him, said inspector and station officer of Sahibabad police station, Ramnath Singh Yadav.
In an alleged act of revenge, today morning, Vipin Tyagi, younger brother of Viresh, was shot dead allegedly by a group of men belonging to another community while he was passing through the area, the SP said.
Following the incident, a group of people gathered in the area and started pelting stones and also opened fired.
In the ensuing clash about 25 persons were injured.
A case was registered in Sahibabad police station and additional police force was deployed to control the situation, Yadav said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Prashant Kumar and District Magistrate Aparna Uapdhaya visited the spot. Report: PTI.
Not only that. After the Kosi Kalan Tragedy (in Mathura District, U.P.), the Muslim perpetrators are finding scope everywhere to harm the Hindus by hook or crook.
It is now reported that one ancient Temple at Paper Mill Colony  at Nishatgunj near Lucknow were destroyed by the anti Hindu force for which hundreds of  Akhil Bhratiya Hindu Mahasabha members protested in Nishatgunj and also demonstrated in front upper house of Uttar Pradesh Assembly (Vidhan Parisad) for a demand to reconstruct the temple very quickly. The temple was demolished by one Arif  Builders with a political support as reports came in.
Briefing to the press, Sri Piyush Kanta Barma expressed the agony of Hindus of Uttar Pradesh under the pro Muslim Akhilesh Singh Govt for the last few months. Sri Barma said that 100 shops were burnt in Kosi Kalan and 2 Hindus were murdered by the Muslim conspirators to fuel the  extinguishing riot situation there.
In Pratapgarh, a Hindu girl was rapped by some Muslim anti socials some days ago.
With a clear help from Samajwadi Circle, the Muslims of Uttar Pradesh are twisting their arms to take some revenge against the Babri demolition most probably. Hindu’s lands are being snatched in many districts for Muslim real estate business as per reports.
The Akhilesh Govt. is pampering the Haj Pilgrimage to appease the Muslim voters for which Muslims take undue advantages with fake and fraud motives for Haj Subsidy.
Only to appease the Muslim communal forces under the dictum of the Azam Khan (Minister of Minority Affairs, Govt. of UP), the Akhilesh Govt stealthily processing a dead lock for Ram Mandir construction at Ayodhya and imposed  a restriction upon the Shiva Kawar Yatra of Shravan (religious procession) so that the processioners do not carry any traditional lathi (stick) or trishul (small trident) which are the essential symbols Shiva Kawar Yatra.
Reports are also coming in for the renewed arrangements of cow slaughter in the coming event of Bakar-Eid as a morale boosting for the Jihadi Muslims in UP.
Predominantly, Muslims are trying to capture Uttar Pradesh (IS BJP’s recent success in the recent Municipal election telling some new hopes?) with a political privilege. Hindus are thrashed many ways which must fetch a strong Hindu retaliation as the veterans opine.

Video of cleric “molesting” woman on bus prompts anger online


An amateur video that appears to show an Islamic cleric inappropriately touching a woman on a bus is causing outrage among Iranian Internet users. Our Observer, a young Iranian woman, says such behaviour is common and recounts her own story of being sexually harassed by a member of the clergy.

While it is unclear what is going on in the first minute of the video, below, it becomes apparent toward the end of it that an Islamic cleric is rubbing his fingers through his cloak on a woman standing next to him. The woman’s face is not visible, and it is unclear whether this attention is unwanted. According to the video’s description on YouTube, this scene was filmed on a bus in the northeastern city of Masshad; our Iranian Observers confirm that the people heard talking in the background with an accent from that region.

The original video has been deleted, but it has been reposted on YouTube, on social media networks and on Persian-language websites. The video has prompted many angry comments from Internet users, who accuse clerics of taking advantage of their position of authority, often referring to them as “mullahs,” which is often used as a derogatory term in Iran.
Contributors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gDgCaRqz6A&feature=player_embedded
Shila
“A mullah called me to his office and told me that if I didn’t have sex with him, he would not allow me to pass his course”
Shila (not her real name), 26, is a university student.

In Iran, there are many scandals involving mullahs, who should be God’s men and exert strong self-control. [One example, in 2008, was the much-publicised scandal surrounding a married cleric who was caught on video committing adultery.] Instead, however, they are known as lecherous perverts, who do whatever they want and often take part in short-term marriages - sometimes for only an hour - which is basically prostitution but is accepted under Islamic law. [In Iran, Muslim clergy are allowed to engage in sexual activities within the confines of marriage]. They are also known to harass women in public, including in the subway or on busses, especially young girls who may not dare complain. And if they do complain, the police will of course side with the mullahs. That’s why young women do their best to avoid them.

When I was studying for my bachelor’s in Tehran, many courses were taught by mullahs. One of them called me to his office and told me that if I didn’t have sex with him, he would not allow me to pass his course. I said no, and he gave me a 9,50 out of 20 – just under the passing mark of 10. I went to his office again and said okay, sir, what do I need to do to pass? He proposed a short-term marriage during which we could have sex, which I refused. He then proposed another sex act, and so I tried to negotiate. Finally he accepted a kiss and touching me somewhere on my body in exchange for half a mark. He touched my hip in a rude manner, and I said I felt uncomfortable kissing in his office, and proposed we meet in my car or his car later. I left and never came back. About a month later he called me and said I had behaved sinfully. This made me very angry, so I threatened him, telling him my family was very protective of me. He never called me again, and gave me a passing mark. I heard many similar stories from other female students.

I believe that mullahs, many of whom come from poor families in rural areas, become sex-crazed when they enter religious schools during their adolescence. They have little contact with women, and all day long talk about Islamic rules regarding sex. So when they become mullahs, even though they’re allowed to marry, some of them abuse their newfound power to satisfy their cravings.

India politician to call for crackdown on anti-Islam Facebook, Twitter posts


India’s Muslims angered over school book showing the Prophet, online users anti-Islam attacks.

NEW DELHI: An Indian political leader has said he will push Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bolster policing of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to crackdown on “offensive” postings on the sites.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday said that he would raise the question of “anti-Islamic” material with the PM push for stricter laws against posting such “objectionable material on social networking sites.”

“Mulayam Singh has said that he will talk to Prime Minister over the issue of anti-Islam obscene material on Facebook and ask him to frame a strict law to prevent it,” said a statement from the ruling Samajwadi party in Uttar Pradesh.

The issue would also be raised in Parliament, the statement added.

He also requested the Uttar Pradesh chief minister “look into the matter and use his clout to check anti-Islam activity on Facebook,” the statement said.

His push comes after the country’s Muslim population became angered over the recent portrayal of Prophet Mohamed in a primary school book. Muslims are demanding the text be barred from schools and have called on the government to intervene.

The result saw a number of online users post other pictures and statements on Facebook and Twitter the Muslim community deemed inappropriate and defaming to Islam.

“Islam prohibits pictorial representation of Prophet Muhammad,” Md Burhanuddin, president of Pangal Students Organization (PSO), told Daily News & Analysis on Monday.

The book for kindergarten students in the northeastern state of Manipur portrays a bearded man said to be the Prophet wearing turban and holding a book-like object.

One page of the book also carries pictures of the Prophet along with five other gods.

Though it was not prescribed by the Manipur government, the book is used at a number of private schools, OnIslam.net reported.

The controversial book, Prime General Knowledge, is published by Prime Publications and printed at Sangai Offset Printers in Imphal.

Once published, protests erupted in Manipur demanding withdrawal of the book and punishing the publishers and the author.

The protests were led by PSO as well as Manipur unit of Popular Front of India (PFI), who burnt copies of the book.

The PFI has demanded an immediate ban of the book.

The PSO said it would ban all books of Prime Publications if it failed to visit its office and apologize by Monday.

“They have made a grave mistake,” PSO advisor H Rahman said.

“But adopting violent means against them will be against Islam. We want them to come to us and apologize.”

BM

Cops stomped on injured girl during Bersih rally, Suhakam inquiry told

A skirmish breaks out between rally-goers and police at the Bersih rally on April 28, 2012. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — A policeman stomped on the chest of an injured teenaged girl during the chaotic April 28 Bersih rally in the capital city, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) heard today, as more witnesses stepped forward to detail their harrowing encounters with the authorities.

Businessman Kumar Suppiah, the third witness in today’s inquiry, told a three-man panel that he was seeking shelter at a bank near City Hall on Jalan Raja Laut after police had fired tear gas canisters into the crowd when he bumped into a teenaged girl, whose hand he suspected was broken.

He related how he and some 10 other people had helped to wrap the girl’s hand in a towel before alerting several policemen nearby to get further medical treatment for the injured teen who was screaming in pain.

One of the policemen had promised to call for an ambulance to take the girl to hospital, Kumar told the panel, but another police team that arrived on the scene suddenly started assaulting civilians, including the injured girl.

“I saw him (the policeman) stomp on the girl’s chest. I was pushed into the glass panel in the ATM (automated teller machines) area. They then dragged me out and started beating us,” Kumar recounted.

He added that the policemen also hurled expletives at them and did not stop until ordered to by another police officer.

“Then I saw the ambulance come and take away the girl whose neck was bandaged,” Kumar said.

Another witness, Arshad Abbas, a former Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd (Astro) customer service agent said a policeman attacked him verbally with the words “accursed being” when he asked the police the reason why they were so rough on the demonstrators.

“I wanted to know [why] the police were using violence and a policeman in blue uniform called me an ‘accursed being’ and told me I was stopping him from doing his duties,” Arshad said.

He also claimed he saw the same policeman who had shouted at him, pushing and pulling an elderly Chinese man dressed in a green T-shirt by the collar while trying to arrest him.

“I saw the same cop abusing the Chinese man who may have been an innocent bystander,” he said.

Arshad also alleged that the police brutality continued when he was also beaten by the police and accused of being Pakatan Rakyat leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s pimp.

“A policeman accused me of being Anwar’s pimp. I was also called an idiot and that I caused too many problems for the policemen,” he said.

The inquiry is aimed at determining whether any violations of human rights were committed against any person or party during and after the gathering.

The inquiry panel led by Suhakam vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee and aided by commissioners Professor Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid and Detta Samen will be interviewing some 22 witnesses over a period of 22 days.

To date, six witnesses have testified before observers from the Malaysian Bar, police and several other independent monitors.

The inquiry continues on July 16.

Don’t jump the gun, Surendran told

A MIC leader tells the PKR vice-president not to blame MIC over the threat made against the latter even before the police concludes its investigation.

PETALING JAYA: PKR vice-president N Surendran should allow the police to investigate the threat made against him before accusing MIC of having a hand in it.

“As a lawyer, Surendran should not have jumped the gun and he should not just assume things,” said MIC welfare and social bureau deputy chairman R Ramanan.

Yesterday, Surendran lodged a report with the Travers police station after he received a text message saying that his face would be splashed with acid.

The PKR leader alleged that MIC was behind the threat as the former was critical of the party.

“MIC is furious with my comment about them. I am sure that MIC is behind the threats, like how they attacked us in Putrajaya. This is an act of gangsterism,” Surendran had said.

Ramanan said he was concerned over the threat made against Surendran and urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation.

He added the threat should not deter the PKR leader from performing his duties.

But on the same note, he said Surendran should not play the role of judge, jury and executioner before the police concluded their investigation.

“If the investigation proves that it was a MIC member, then the person should be charged in court.

“But if the investigation proves otherwise, then Surendran must be taken to task for making a false report and issuing defamatory statements against the party,” he added.

Read more: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/07/11/dont-jump-the-gun-surendran-told/#ixzz20LJ8FuGB

Matriculation offer: Probe reason for rejection

A DAP leader wants to know the reasons behind a sizeable number of Indian students turning down the offer.

GEORGE TOWN: DAP Senator S Ramakrishnan has called on the relevant parties to probe the reasons behind 586 of the 1,539 Indian students rejecting the matriculation offer.

He said an indepth study would reveal the actual reasons why only 943 students or 61.27% accepted the offer.

The DAP man was puzzled that while Indian students waited to be enrolled in matriculation colleges, which was an assured path to public universities, a sizeable number rejected the offer.

He said it indicated that the Indian community was economically diverse and any help for target groups must be identified and not generalised.

Ramakrishnan urged politicians and Indian-based NGOs to find out whether the students rejected the matriculation offer because they had better alternatives, which then would not be a loss to the community.

But he noted that if the rejection was on the ground of being offered different courses than the ones they applied for or because they would face food problems or difficulties in adjusting being a religious minority, then the matter could be taken up to the relevant ministry.

However, he did not rule out the possibility that Indian students were spoilt and pampered that they would only enroll in a nearby matriculation college and anything else would be “a big no.”

“I hope there can be an open discussion on these matters in forums, the media or online to identify the real reasons behind the rejection,” he said.

Was it an election gimmick?

Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong told Dewan Negara on Monday that of the 4,512 Indian students who applied for the 2012/2013 intake, 1,539 or 34.11% were offered seats in the 13 matriculation colleges.

Some 1,000 students were offered in the first intake with registration on May 28 while the balance 539 students were offered in the second intake with registration on June 13.

However, only 943 or 61.27% Indian students enrolled in the colleges.

An appeal period between April 25 and May 13 was given to rejected students, during which 34,456 students, including 9,527 non-Malays, appealed.

On July 27, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yasin announced another one-off offer to 557 Indian students to fill the vacant Indian quota.

Offer letters have been sent out and students will have to register on July 18.

Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perlis, Labuan, Perak and Selangor have a college each while Johor, Kedah and Pahang have two each.

The 13 matriculation colleges enrolled a total of 26,700 students to study in their science and accounting streams per year.

Meanwhile, Ramakrishnan called on Muhyiddin to explain whether the over 1,500 matriculation offers were one-off offers as an election gesture.

“Hopefully, the Umno government does not exploit the community’s weakness,” he said.

Read more: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/07/11/matriculation-offer-probe-reason-for-rejection/#ixzz20LIcQKfm

Sodomy 2: Appeal focuses on DNA evidence

The prosecution has delivered a copy of its petition to Anwar’s team.

KUALA LUMPUR: Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah failed to consider the absence of evidence that semen samples were tampered with when he acquitted Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy, the prosecution claims in its appeal against the acquittal.

A copy of the petition of appeal, signed by senior deputy public prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin, was served on the opposition leader’s lawyers late yesterday.

Anwar was acquitted last Jan 9 of the charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at the Desa Damansara condominium on June 26, 2008.

Noorin said it was wrong for the high court to conclude that the integrity of samples collected from Saiful had been compromised because there was no way for the investigation officer to tamper with them.

She said the court did not establish how investigation officer Blacious Judy Pereira had obtained the samples and how the results of DNA testing on them were compared with DNA profiles obtained from samples collected from the lock-up where Anwar was kept overnight.

The judge failed to consider “in total” how the samples were “collected, handled and analysed”, she added.

Noorin referred to the two chemists called by the prosecution, Dr Seah Lee Hong and Nor Aidora Saedon, saying their testimonies were based on detailed analyses carried out at the Chemistry Department.

She said both chemists had considered “all the possibilities” raised by experts in ensuring that their findings on the DNA samples were conclusive.

She acknowledged Pereira’s testimony that he had cut open a plastic bag containing receptacles for the sample, but said there was no evidence to indicate that the receptacles were tampered with.

She noted that both Dr Seah and Nor Aidora testified to the receptacles being intact.

Judge misdirected himself

Noorin contended that Mohamad Zabidin misdirected himself when he took into consideration the evidence of DNA experts called by the defence without giving weight to expert views and medical literature provided by the prosecution.

She claimed that the testimonies of the defence experts were based on theories in DNA profiling that had not been established.

The judge failed to consider circumstantial evidence supporting Saiful’s testimony, she added.

In concluding the petition, Noorin says Mohd Zabidin wrongly placed on the prosecution the burden of establishing evidences rather that establishing its case beyond reasonable doubt.

In his written judgment, released on July 3, Mohamad Zabidin stated that the court could not be 100% certain of the integrity of semen samples taken from Saiful.

He said the samples could have been compromised before they reached the Chemistry Department for analysis.

Therefore, he concluded, it was not safe for the court to rely on the DNA results obtained by Dr Seah.

Read more: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/07/11/sodomy-2-appeal-focuses-on-dna-evidence/#ixzz20LIFmr00

Ambiga: Bersih about people power, not regime change



(The Malaysian Insider) - The Bersih electoral reform movement does not aim to topple the democratically-elected government but is focused solely on empowering voters, its chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has said.

Leaders from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, have repeatedly painted Bersih’s third and most recent rally last April 28 as an attempt to oust its democratically-elected government, a charge Ambiga has denied just as frequently.

“What we want to see is a multi-party democracy where, every two or three years, the [leading] party will change,” the decorated lawyer and activist told British daily The Guardian in an interview published today.

“We’re not averse to Barisan coming back but if parties think they’re going to lose power, they behave a lot better.

“[This] is about power coming back to the people. It’s about us (the people) being in charge,” Ambiga was quoted adding.

Bersih has been lobbying the Najib administration to enforce electoral reforms, including cleaning the voter roll of dubious entries, before the next national polls due in nine months.

Putrajaya has pledged to undertake the reforms after last year’s massive July 9 rally garnered negative publicity for the Najib administration around the world, but the authorities have been accused of dragging their feet over their implementation, which the Election Commission (EC) said will take time.

Ambiga also accused the BN coalition of a relentlessly “demonising” the electoral watchdog, with the latest incident seeing anti-Bersih flyers bearing the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry’s official logo being distributed around the Klang Valley.

A social activist had alerted Bersih recently after finding one such flyer portraying supporters of the electoral reform movement as “pengacau” (rabble-rousers) despite two ongoing public inquiries into the chaotic April 28 rally in the capital city.

Orang Yang Paling Takut Saya Jadi Perdana Menteri Ialah Mahathir

Thugs at my doorstep

Ong Kian Ming - The Malaysian Insider

JULY 11 — At approx 4.45pm [yesterday] (July 10), three thugs, in their early to late twenties, tried to break into my house in Petaling Jaya.

Thankfully, they were unsuccessful. Thankfully, I am not hurt. I am immensely grateful at the outpouring of support shown by my friends and family. I am thankful to the police for their quick response in sending three squad cars to my house five minutes after I reported the incident and their follow up on this case.

Many are probably wondering why I think it was politically motivated rather than just a simple attempted break in. I cannot be 100 per cent sure that it was politically motivated but I’m quite sure of it. And here’s why:

The thugs came in a car and they parked directly in front of my house, which is about 200m from the community guard house. It is a simple and spartan double story terrace house. It is not a flashy house. I drive a Toyota Vios.

There are other houses along the same row with Mercedes-Benz and other nicer cars. Some of my neighbours were not at home. It would have been much easier to break into their homes instead of mine (not that I am recommending that they do this). Or a house that is more secluded. Or a house which seems to have more stuff to steal.

My car was in the driveway. The thugs must have considered the possibility that someone was at home. They broke the automatic gates, which create a huge noise, rather than scaling over the gate, which would have been easy to do and much more discreet.

I was in the living room when they broke the automatic gate. I got up immediately and shouted at them, screaming “Police! Police!” They didn’t even break their stride after I got up but kept on coming, which indicated to me that they knew I was at home.

They proceeded to try and kick the door down while I kept on shouting. If it was an opportunistic break in, they would have left knowing that there was someone at home.

They then left even though they could have kicked the door down. On the way out, one of them pointed his finger at me as if to give me a warning. He then used a screwdriver or some metal instrument to make a puncture in the bonnet of my car. If they had really wanted to break in even knowing that there was someone at home, they could have kicked the door down and easily overpowered me.

They were in and out of the place in less than three minutes. Not long enough for the police to come and catch them but long enough to send a message.

I don’t think it is a coincidence this happened a few days before a Bersih event in Malacca on Friday and three Bersih events in Kedah and Penang on Saturday and Sunday, at which I will be speaking. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Ambiga has been targeted as well as Wong Chin Huat.

I am no Ambiga or Chin Huat but I have been publishing a series of highly damaging articles regarding the many problems in the electoral roll that I know that the Election Commission, National Registration Department and even some members of the Cabinet have read and are aware of.

Initially, I said to a Malaysiakini reporter that I thought that this attempted break in could be due to my critique against MCA on the Talam issue, the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and other government policies.

After giving it some thought, I think that it is much more likely that it was due to my Bersih-related activities given the record of how thugs have been deployed to harass and intimidate various people related to the Bersih movement.

Regardless, I won’t allow this incident (if it was indeed an intimidation tactic) to cow me into fear or submission. I will continue to publish my findings on the problems with the electoral roll and share these findings with members of the public.

I will continue to write my critiques as a contributor to Refsa on the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). I will continue to write political commentaries. I will continue to play my own very small part in trying to make this country a better place.

* Ong Kian Ming is an analyst for Research for Social Advancement (Refsa). The note above was originally posted on his Facebook page

‘ISA enhances political careers’

Malay Mail

THE ISA was abolished because it did not help the Barisan Nasional-led government politically, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“If you put someone under ISA it doesn’t kill them politically, instead it enhances their political career,” he told civil servants in Putrajaya yesterday.

Without naming names, Najib gave the example of some ex-ISA detainees whose political profile he said skyrocketed after being detained.

The prime minister said this while delivering the keynote speech at a dialogue with civil servants by the Razak School of Government, reports Malaysiakini.

He said the Emergency Ordinance (EO) had to be done away with as technological improvements had rendered exile less than useful as a deterrent to crime.

“In the old days, it was easy, if someone was bad, we just catch him and send him to places like Pasir Puteh, or maybe Jerantut.

“But nowadays, it is useless as no matter how far you send them, with their cellphones, they can still do their work (commit crime).”

Najib said the police must now change the way they work. “Now police must train themselves how to look for evidence.”

He said instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention, police must now provide evidence to charge them in court, adding this was something he wanted the police to do well.

The EO was a preventive law that allowed detention without trial used by police to hold criminals with shaky evidence against them or for time-sensitive cases, though critics said this was misused by cops to just dump in suspects without even opening investigations.

Najib said the challenge to police was one faced by all civil servants as they faced a more competitive global environment and rising public expectations.

He said in the face of this, one important role for civil servants was to work to create wealth so that the extra bounty could then be distributed to the rakyat.

He said it was only the creation of new revenues via higher income tax revenues and from the Customs Department that allowed goodies like the BR1M and other payouts to the rakyat to take place.

The abolishment of the ISA, EO and redistribution of wealth to the rakyat via various handouts are cornerstones in the reforms touted by Najib, but critics had said the payments were just one-off goodies, while pointing that replacement laws were more draconian than the repealed ones.

National Harmony Act Replaces Sedition Act 1948 - Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tonight announced that the Sedition Act 1948 will be repealed and replaced with a new act to be known as the National Harmony Act.

The decision to repeal the act was to find a mechanism that could ensure the best balance between the need to guarantee the freedom of speech for every citizen and the need to handle the complexity of plurality existing in the country, he said at the dinner of the Attorney-General's Chambers with the Prime Minister at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.

"With this new act we would be better equipped to manage our national fault lines. It will also help to strengthen national cohesion by protecting national unity and nurturing religious harmony," he said.

Also present were the Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ali Hamsa and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

Najib said that the absence of an ideal balance could suppress the freedom of speech which was guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, hinder one's creativity and innovativeness or promote the spirit of chauvinism and extremism.

He said the balance must be achieved in a more open social environment with access to information which could lead to information overflow, an increasing standard of education and socio-economy and rising expectation.

"The provisions proposed in the National Harmony Act will stress on inculcating the spirit of harmony and mutual respect in the Malaysian society made up of various races and religions," he said.

He said the new bill would be more specific in nature and would enable the government to act against anyone using sensitive issues to break up national solidarity.

The Prime Minister said the government would ensure that the provisions of the new act would not hinder the power to tackle acts that could cause hatred and humiliation or stoke the feelings of disloyalty to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or any Ruler.

It also covered acts that could create enmity between the races and question whatever rights, positions, privileges, sovereignty or prerogative protected in the Constitution.

"Before formulating the National Harmony Bill, the government wants to invite views and opinions from Malaysians, whether individuals or organisations on matters that need to be addressed in drawing up the legislation.

"The Attorney-General's Chambers has been tasked as the agency responsible for getting the opinions of all stakeholders," he said.

Najib said the government was aware that there were groups who considered the Sedition Act as a tool to prevent action or views that were contradictory to the government's stand, but pointed out that this perception was totally unfounded.

"As such, the new provisions will not prevent the people from criticising the government and the administration of justice. Any act that is in contempt of court will be handled by the judiciary itself through the existing provisions in the existing Rules of Court," he said. Meanwhile, Najib also said the government decided to enforce immediately all new laws and amendments to the existing laws which were announced in the Political Transformation Plan including the Security Offences Act (Special Measures); Printing Presses and Publications Act; and the Universities and University Colleges Act.

"Through the abolition and formulation of the ongoing bills, the government wants to ensure that adequate democratic space is provided for differences of opinion and competing ideas.

"Basically, we want to create one Malaysia where the principles of human rights is upheld, the individual's liberty to express opinions openly is welcomed, and the interest of the individuals and the community is balanced," he said.

The Prime Minister also said that the Attorney-General's Chambers could be likened to a compass that showed the direction to ensure that the principles of the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law were always upheld.

"I take great pride that the staff of the Attorney-General's Chambers have never been complacent with the adulation and praise accorded and never over-reacted to any allegation or slander made against the agency," he said.

31 arrested outside Pahang MB’s office (updated)

Update (3.30pm, 11 July): The detainees will be released on police bail. Little Edwina is delighted to be going home today, says Jehan. She is pictured here with Zela, a volunteer in the defence team.
Jehan Bakar's Twitter Photo
Credit to the multi-ethnic legal defence team led by Pahang Bar Chairman Hon Kai Peng for a job well done.
Jehan Bakar's Twitter Photo
Update (3.00pm, 11 July): A defence lawyer Jehan Bakar tweets to say the atmosphere in the courtroom is very casual now as the accused continue to wait. The detainees will finally be released on police bail.
Jehan Bakar's Twitter Photo
Update (1.35pm, 11 July): Three more detainees – Muniamah, Revathy and Lattha – are taken to hospital. This is not looking good.
Parti Sosialis MY's Twitter Photo
Update (1.15pm, 11 July): The detainees have now been brought into the court room. A group of people are protesting outside court, according to a tweet from Suaram.
Update (1.00pm, 11 July): Three detainees carry another detainee out of the lock-up area after she fainted. She has been sent to hospital.
Jehan Bakar's Twitter Photo

The rest are being moved to Magistrates Court 1. One more detainee suffering from diabetes needs dressing for his wound. Medical personnel tend to him.
Jehan Bakar's Twitter Photo
Two more detainees are feeling unwell and Dr Jeyakumar examines them. After much protest, the women detainees are taken to a more comfortable place.
Jehan Bakar's Twitter Photo
Update (noon, 11 July): Suaram reports that lawers were told that police are waiting for a decision from the AG as the Kuantan DPP cannot decide. Meanwhile, Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj and a colleague are heading to meet the Pahang CPO to demand the release of the residents.
Update (11.30am, 11 July): 12 lawyers, four chambering lawyers and four attachment students are now on hand to assist the residents in court.
Jehan Bakar's Twitter Photo
Update (10.30am, 11 July): The group could be charged under sec 90 of the Police Act for shouting indecencies. But the group maintains they only shouted “Hidup Rakyat!” A team of eight lawyers from the Kuantan Legal Aid Centre and other volunteers lawyers have come out to assist the residents’ defence.
Update (midnight, 10 July): The group is being remanded overnight and expected to be produced in the Kuantan Court tomorrow. (So much for transformasi!) About half a dozen lawyers are expected to be on the defence team.
Thirty one people from Cameron Highlands were detained outside the Pahang Mentri Besar’s office, where they had turned up to insist on an appointment.

They refused to leave when asked to disperse.
The group is now being held at the Kuantan District Police Headquarters. The 31 comprises 13 men, 12 women and six children.
Their problems range from lack of even temporary titles to the land they have been toiling on, to worries over landslides to issues related to applications for stalls.
PSM sources claimed the Pahang MB had said he would visit the villagers in Cameron Highlands to try and resolve their problem. But after two months, the residents had not succeeded in getting an appointment with him.
So they decided to go to the MB and insist on an appointment.
Meanwhile Bukit Jalil estate workers are asking for four acres for 41 families after staying at the estate for four generation. Prime Minister Najib agreed to meet three of their representatives today.
At the meeting, the PM said he needed more time to study the issue. The workers said they hope he had the political will to resolve the issue.