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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Police reports against JAIPP for 'body-snatching'

A total of 18 police reports have been lodged by a group of Hindu devotees against the Penang Islamic Affairs Department (JAIPP) for snatching the remains of a woman it believed to be a Muslim without proper documentation.
One report was lodged at the Nibong Tebal police station by the deceased's son M Kamasanthren and 17 other relatives and friends of the family.
NONEIn his report, Kamasanthren said his family received information by telephone from the crematorium on Aug 14 that several officers claiming to be from JAIPP wanted to take possession of the cremated remains of his mother, M Nagamah.
He added that his uncle R Raja, who spoke to the person from the crematorium on the telephone, had categorically stated that the family would not allow JAIPP to do so.
He stressed that unless JAIPP has gone through the due process of the law, the officers have no legal authority to take possession of his mother’s remains which rightfully and lawfully belongs to the family.
"As it turned out, the JAIPP officers forced the issue and eventually took possession of the remains of my mother. In fact, they had stolen her remains from us," said Kamasanthren, 46, from Sungai Jawi.
"My mother and the rest of my family are Malaysians and our rights and interests should be protected by the federal constitution and the laws of Malaysia.
"This act of stealing the cremated remains of my mother is blatantly unlawful and is in serious and clear violation of rights guaranteed us in Article 11 on freedom of religion," he stressed.
Kamasanthren said he lodged the report as he wanted police to investigate the matter, adding that he wants the problem with JAIPP resolved "amicably" so that he could carry out his final Hindu funeral rites as the eldest son, on Aug 28.
The rite known as ‘Karumakirei’ ceremony is to be held 14 days after the death, after which her ashes are to be strewn into a nearby river.
Nagamah, who hailed from Bryam estate had passed away on Aug 14, where her remains were brought home from the Sungai Bakap hospital.
According to the family, they prepared to give her a Hindu funeral as she lived a life as a Hindu and died a Hindu.
However, JAIPP officers came to her house following her death and allegedly demanded the family surrender her body for a Muslim funeral, Kamasanthren said.
"The family refused as the officers did not provide documentary evidence about the claim. So, Nagamah was cremated according to Hindu rites at the Batu Berapit crematorium".
JAIPP told to go to civil court
Hindraf national advisor N Ganesan, who accompanied the son to the police station on Sunday, claimed the incident is clearly a state-sanctioned act as the police had accompanied the JAIPP officers at the crematorium.
Ganesan questioned by what superior law or authority can JAIPP order the crematorium and the family to turn over the cremated remains to them.
He said that, based on the federal constitution, Kamasanthren is guaranteed his rights to practise his religion and to perform the last rites for his mother.
He added that this is one of the most important obligations of a son to his parents in Hinduism, and accused JAIPP of acting "unilaterally and with impunity in violating all these rights".
"If JAIPP feels that they do have rights over the cremated remains, they should go to the civil courts which protect the rights of non-Muslims for adjudication on the matter.
"Unilateral pronouncements by the Syariah court does not apply to non-Muslims, therefore this effectively becomes a theft by JAIPP," he added.
Malaysiakini has been unable to obtain comment from JAIPP or the state mufti Hassan Ahmad.
Meanwhile, state exco member in charge of Islamic affairs Abdul Malik Abul Kassim told the media that he was aware of the incident.

"We will be making a statement on the matter in a few days time," said Abdul Malik, who is also Batu Maung assemblyperson.

Shooting leads to chaos at Odense hospital

Police are currently inspecting the area and have made several arrests stemming from last night's shooting and subsequent storming of Odense University Hospital
Odense University Hospital was last night the scene of chaos, as 60-70 people stormed the facility following a violent incident in Vollsmose (Photo: Scanpix)

Chaos broke out in Odense last night when a conflict between two rival groups in the suburb of Vollsmose surged, resulting in a young man being critically injured.

After a shooting victim was brought into the emergency room at the Odense University hospital, a group of between 60 to 70 men showed up and began to vandalise and create disorder.

“There were pictures torn down from the walls. There were vases knocked into pieces. It was quite intimidating to both the staff and police there, and several officers had to fire their guns to get them to disappear,” the head of security at Funen Police, Erik Halkjær, told

In connection with the ongoing investigation currently going on at Bøgeparken in Vollsmose, the Funen Police have arrested six people who are suspected to have been involved in the hospital vandalism, according to Ritzau.

The trouble started during Eid celebrations in Vollsmose when a 26-year-old man was shot in one leg and stabbed in the other, and another man, a 24-year-old, was hit by a car which fled the scene.

“It most likely involves two groups of immigrants from Vollsmose, but we do not know anything about the motive. We have not been able to talk to the victim as he is still in intensive care,” the Funen Police deputy commissioner Jack Liedecke told DR News earlier today.

“There has been some unrest in Odense recently, but we could not predict that it would result in this,” he added.

Later in the night, the chaos continued in the centre of Odense, where members of the two groups clashed.

It was then that the group of 60-70 people stormed Odense University Hospital in an attempt to reach the shooting and hit-and-run victims. The group threatened hospital staff and police, vandalising furniture and police cars along the way. In total, one ambulance and four police cars were destroyed from the night’s events.

Police reported that although this was not the first time people have come to the entrance hall of the emergency room to cause trouble, no one has made it all the way to the emergency room before.

“It is not unusual that you meet many people in the emergency room either trying to get ahold of the victim or to give support to the person who has been brought in. We have seen that many times,” Liedecke said.

The 26-year-old victim was admitted to the hospital in a fatally critical condition due to significant blood loss, but after a lengthy surgery, he is now in a more stable condition. Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

Iran's supreme leader orders fresh terror attacks on West

Iran's supreme leader orders fresh terror attacks on West
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issed a directive to intensify attacks against the West and its allies around the world Photo:

Iran's Supreme Leader has ordered the country's Revolutionary Guards to intensify its campaign of terror attacks against the West and its allies in retaliation for supporting the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

According to Western intelligence officials, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to the elite Quds Force unit following a recent emergency meeting of Iran's National Security Council in Tehran held to discuss a specially-commissioned report into the implications for Iran of the Assad regime's overthrow.

Damascus is Iran's most important regional ally, and the survival of the Assad regime is regarded as vital to sustaining the Iranian-backed Hizbollah militia which controls southern Lebanon.

The report, which was personally commissioned by Mr Khamenei, concluded that Iran's national interests were being threatened by a combination of the U.N. sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear programme and the West's continuing support for Syrian opposition groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government.

Intelligence officials say the report concludes that Iran "cannot be passive" to the new threats posed to its national security, and warns that Western support for Syrian opposition groups was placing Iran's "resistance alliance" in jeopardy, and could seriously disrupt Iran's access to Hizbollah in Lebanon.

It advised that the Iranian regime should demonstrate to the West that there were "red lines" over what it would accept in Syria, and that a warning should be sent to "America, the Zionists, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others that they cannot act with impunity in Syria and elsewhere in the region."

Mr Khamenei responded by issuing a directive to Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force commander, to intensify attacks against the West and its allies around the world.

The Quds Force has recently been implicated in a series of terror attacks against Western targets. Last year U.S. officials implicated the organisation in a failed assassination attempt against the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington. It was also implicated in three bomb attacks against Israeli diplomats in February, planning to attack the Eurovision song contest in Azerbaijan while two Iranians were arrested in Kenya last month for possessing explosives.

Intelligence officials believe the recent spate of Iranian attacks has been carried out by the Quds Force's Unit 400, which runs special overseas operations.

"Unit 400 seems to have been involved in all the recent Iranian terrorist operations," said a senior Western intelligence official. "The Iranian regime now seems determined to retaliate for what they regard as the West's attempts to influence the outcome of the Syrian unrest."

Iran has been actively supporting the Assad regime's attempts to suppress the wave of anti-government protests that erupted in March last year. Iranian opposition groups claim teams of experienced Revolutionary Guard officers have been flying to Damascus on specially-chartered Iranian aircraft on a weekly basis to advise the Assad regime.

The extent of Iran's support for the Assad regime was exposed earlier this month when 48 Iranians were captured and taken hostage by Syrian opposition fighters. The Iranians, who are said to include senior Revolutionary Guard officers, claimed they were conducting "reconnaissance missions", and their capture by Syrian opposition fighters was deeply embarrassing for Tehran, which is demanding their immediate safe return to Iran. Syrian rebels have threatened to kill the hostages unless Iran ends its support for the Assad regime.

MYDaftar terima lebih 9,500 permohonan dokumentasi

Sebanyak 6,527 ialah permohonan kewarganegaraan dan baki melibatkan dokumentasi lain seperti kelahiran, perkahwinan dan kad pengenalan.

KUALA LUMPUR: Program MyDaftar yang dilancarkan Februari tahun lepas hingga Mei lalu, telah menerima 9,529 permohonan dokumentasi daripada masyarakat India.

Sebanyak 6,527 ialah permohonan kewarganegaraan dan baki melibatkan dokumentasi lain seperti kelahiran, perkahwinan dan kad pengenalan, kata Penyelaras Pasukan Petugas Khas Pelaksanaan Jawatankuasa Kabinet Masyarakat India, Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam.

“Permohonan kewarganegaraan tertinggi melibatkan warga asing yang mempunyai permit masuk iaitu 3,770 dan daripada jumlah itu 2,016 diluluskan Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN).

“Kita juga menerima 1,922 permohonan pendaftaran kewarganegaraan daripada masyarakat India lahir di Malaysia selepas merdeka dan 1,479 diluluskan KDN,” katanya dalam temu bual di Wisma Bernama di sini.

MyDaftar merupakan program membantu masyarakat India di negara ini yang tidak memiliki dokumen berkaitan kelahiran, pengenalan dan kewarganegaraan menyelesaikan masalah dokumentasi mereka.

Bukti sukar

Siva Subramanian berkata kesukaran membuktikan mereka lahir di Malaysia dan kurang fasih berbahasa Melayu adalah antara sebab sukar memberikan taraf kewarganegaraan kepada pemohon yang lahir di Malaysia sebelum merdeka.

“Sebelum merdeka dokumentasi susah mahu cari. Sebelum MyDaftar mereka susah untuk tampil ke depan kerana takut dan kurang pengetahuan tentang pendaftaran ada juga ejen yang datang tolong tapi ejen ini ambil kesempatan ambil duit.

“Ada kes ejen tipu mereka ‘gave-up’ (menyerahkan) warganegara mereka 30, 40 tahun lepas untuk keluar wang KWSP (Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja).Ejen dapat ‘percent’ (komisen) banyak. Kita susah mahu tolong kerana mereka ‘gave up’ kewarganegaraan mereka dengan sukarela masa itu,” katanya.

Beliau berkata MyDaftar turut menerima 708 permohonan kewarganegaraan daripada mereka yang berkahwin dengan warganegara Malaysia, dan daripada jumlah itu 600 telah diluluskan KDN.

MyDaftar turut menerima 12 permohonan kewarganegaraan daripada anak warganegara dan daripada jumlah itu lapan permohonan diluluskan.

Daftar lewat

Siva Subramaniam berkata masalah mendaftar lewat kelahiran merupakan permohonan tertinggi diterima iaitu sebanyak 1,778 dan daripada jumlah itu 1,459 diluluskan.

“Ini juga masalah kesedaran masyarakat untuk mendaftar kelahiran anak mereka, ada kes yang datang pada kita anak bukan daripada isteri pertama atau anak luar perkahwinan, jadi susah mahu daftar.

Siva Subramanian berkata selain itu, MyDaftar menerima 913 permohonan daftar lewat kad pengenalan, perkahwinan (222), pindah maklumat sijil kelahiran (88) dan satu permohonan dokumentasi anak angkat.

Ditanya kenyataan Naib Presiden Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) N. Surendran yang mendakwa 300,000 keturunan India di negara ini tidak mempunyai dokumen pengenalan diri, beliau menyarankan agar pemimpin PKR itu membawa kesemua mereka memohon menerusi MyDaftar.

“Jangan sekadar beri angka dan cuci tangan selepas itu. Ini tidak menyelesaikan masalah. Kumpulkan semua 300,000 itu dan datang kepada kami, kami akan bantu daftar.

“Jangan politikkan isu ini, kita bercakap soal masalah rakyat dan sebagai pemimpin kita mesti selesaikan masalah rakyat bukan dijadikan alat untuk membenci kerajaan,” katanya.


Ambiga to leave Bersih after GE

The Bersih co-chaiperson told Bloomberg that she wants to devote more time to her firm which specialises on many legal issues.

PETALING JAYA: Bersih co-chaiperson S Ambiga said that she would step down from the electoral reforms movement after the next general election.

In an interview with Bloomberg today, Ambiga said that she intended to pay more attention to her firm which specialises in commercial, intellectual property and industrial law.

Ambiga, a former Bar Council president, shot to fame after leading two Bersih rallies in 2010 and in April this year, calling for reforms to the Malaysian electoral system.

Although she received support from Pakatan Rakyat and other NGOs, the government had poured scorn over her attempts, claiming that she was a “pawn” of the opposition.

Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz even called for her hanging during a parliamentary session, but withdrew his remarks after receiving brickbats from his own colleagues in the ruling coalition.

In the interview, Ambiga said that she has some unfinished business from her previous campaign on women’s rights, which was not well received by the government.

“The courts had abdicated their responsibility over a lot of family law issues in situations involving both the syariah and civil courts,” she said.

Ambiga was referring to cases where husbands converted to Islam and unilaterally converted their children too, creating a lot of confusion in families and leaving their wives in the doldrums.

“In 2008, the government had proposed legislation requiring individuals wishing to convert to first inform family members and address custody issues, but the process was stalled at the Council of Rulers, who are responsible for Islamic affairs,” said Ambiga.

On growing calls for reforms, she said that the government could ill-afford to ignore the masses and one way to live by the people’s aspiration is by making the electoral system free and fair.

“If enough people want change, there’s very little anyone can do to stop it,” she said. “Malaysians are generally peace-loving – we are nowhere near what was happening in the Middle East, Tunisia and Egypt.

“But we are at the right point in time for positive change, and if we are going to bring change, we only want to do it by clean and fair elections,” said Ambiga.

‘Guilty until proven innocent’ law applies to Umno Youth in Facebook probe

Umno Youth representative Ibdilillah Ishak shows a copy of the police report lodged on behalf of the wing’s chief, Khairy. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — The burden of proof is on Umno Youth to show that it is not the publisher of controversial remarks suggesting that a vote for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will result in Christianity becoming the country’s official religion, due to recent amendments to the Evidence Act, lawyers have said. Umno Youth has claimed that the person who put up the poster with the controversial remarks was “unauthorised” to do so and that the page was not its official Facebook page.
The poster, which was uploaded last Saturday and taken down the same day, appeared to suggest that votes for federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will cause Islam to be replaced by Christianity as the country’s official religion.
It had read: “Jika anda setuju untuk jadikan KRISTIAN sebagai agama rasmi persekutuan Malaysia, teruskan sokongan anda kepada Pakatan Rakyat. (If you agree to make CHRISTIANITY the official religion of the federation of Malaysia, continue supporting Pakatan Rakyat.) ‘God bless you my son’.”
If Umno Youth is brought to court over the “unauthorised” Facebook post, it would be the test case for the newly-enforced Section 114A of the Evidence Act that has already seen widespread opposition from the public.
A screen capture shows an enlarged thumbnail of the anti-Christian poster on the “Pemuda Umno Malaysia” page.
Section 114A makes even coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi services liable for any defamatory or criminal acts of customers using computers at their premises. The new law creates a presumption that any registered user of network services is presumed to be the publisher of a publication sent from a computer linked to that network service, if he cannot show otherwise
The Section also provides that any “person whose name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting himself as the owner, host, administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or re-publish the publication is presumed to have published or re-published the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved.”
Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan told The Malaysian Insider that Section 114A would impose a presumption that Umno Youth had published the poster, but notes that “this factual presumption is not tested in court” yet.
“But say, for whatever reason, Umno Youth is charged under the Sedition Act for promoting ill will between the Muslim and Christian communities, the factual presumption would operate,” Syahredzan said.
“All the prosecution would need to prove is that the Umno Youth is stated to be the owner or administrator of the Facebook page,” he said, noting that it is “quite easy to do so” as the page “represents itself as Umno Youth’s”.
Once that is proven, Umno Youth would be “presumed to be the publisher of the post” and would then need to “rebut this presumption”, he added.
“This is a perfect example of the absurdity and injustice of Section 114A in operation.”
The prime minister had on Twitter last week said his Cabinet would review the law after several organisations ― including the Malaysian Bar ― chose to black out their websites to signal their opposition to the law.
A day later, however, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim announced that the law will stay.
Foong Cheng Leong, the Kuala Lumpur Bar IT committee co-chair, agreed with Syahredzan, saying that “if we follow (Section) 114A, looking at subsection 1, it seems that the presumption of fact is that Umno Youth is the publisher of the poster.”
He said there is an “impression that it’s a legitimate Pemuda Umno page”, saying that the Facebook page, which has over 50,000 “likes”, features Umno Youth’s logo and the party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s photograph.
Foong said that Section 114A is unclear on a number of things, saying that it “does not say when the presumption is rebutted.”
“We don’t know if a police report is sufficient to rebut the presumption,” he said, saying that “we’re left at the unknown stage.”
“Can the media go and tell everybody that Pemuda Umno is the publisher of the poster? Can the media publish it as fact because in the law it’s presumed as fact?” he asked.
When asked if there was any law for Umno Youth to fall back on in court, the lawyer said there is “no exemption under (Section) 114A” and “the only thing they can do is come out with proof it’s not them.”
Lawyer Faisal Moideen shared Foong’s view, saying that “making a police report may not be enough because it seems to be a bare denial.”
However, he defended the law and stressed that it does not impose a presumption of guilt but only the presumption of fact of publication.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean they have committed a crime,” he said, adding that “it takes more than just publication to make a person guilty.”
Based on his reading of the law, he said “you don’t have to show who did it, you have to show you didn’t publish it” to rebut the presumption.

Double standards in sentencing

There are times we hail court decisions and there are times we find them bizarre. But if we ignore the incredible disparities in some court decisions, it is only at our own peril.
Azmi Sharom, The Star
HOSLAN Hussein gets one year in jail for inaccurately chucking (he missed) his slippers at a judge. Noor Afizal Azizan gets a fine and zero jail time for raping a 13-year-old girl.
It boggles the mind. Hoslan’s sentence, in my view, was very harsh and over the top.
But even if one were to believe that the sanctity of the courts is so fragile that a punitively deterrent punishment is required for the flinging of footwear, it is impossible to ignore the incongruous disparity in the punishments meted out to these two men for crimes of such vastly different seriousness.
Much has been said about the judge’s unbelievable comment when sentencing Noor Afizal. Apparently being a national bowler with a bright future is enough to let you escape jail time for rape.
Actually, what is this “bright future” the judge is thinking about? The man is a child rapist; he confessed to it. He should not be allowed to represent the country in anything at all.
And in case you think there are mitigating issues in this case, namely that the sexual act was supposedly consensual, allow me to argue otherwise.
In this case, the girl was under the age of consent. This means the crime committed is statutory rape. The issue of consent does not even arise in such cases.
The reason for this is because we as a society have long ago determined that the young girls of our community deserve protection.
It does not matter in the slightest that children mature at different rates; what matters is that in general, this society believes that girls under the age of 16 are not yet ready to make decisions regarding their own sexual activity.
There are mental, psychological and also physiological elements to this need for protection.
The sexual act by itself could have implications for a child’s well-being, but a child from our society would surely be traumatised in the event that she got pregnant and had to face either childbirth or abortion.
Furthermore in immature bodies, the experience can also be seriously harmful physically.
I use the term “a child from our society” because I realise the age of consent will differ from nation to nation and culture to culture.
But in the case of statutory rape, there is no room for comparative anthropology. What matters is what we value for our girls.
I always believe that Malaysians care for our children. We want them to have a sound and safe childhood so that they can go to school and build a strong foundation for their future.
This is why we want to protect them for as long as possible, for it is this safety that helps to establish an environment where they can mature and flourish at a pace which we believe is healthy.
The judge in making his decision could not possibly have been thinking about this bigger picture. For if he had, he would have realised that his judgment was not only about Noor Afizan and the girl he violated, but also about all the girls in this country and our collective concern for them.
He has in effect dealt a blow to one of the few noble values that the people of this country universally accept — that our children should be cared for and be protected.

A Cautionary Tale on Sri Lankan Refugees

The Jaya Lestari and cargo
The Jaya Lestari and cargo
(Asia Sentinel) An alleged con man cons the Australian press

During the final quarter of 2009, a cargo ship called the Jaya Lastari, with 256 Tamil asylum seekers aboard, was impounded off the island of Java by the Indonesian navy. The Tamil asylum-seekers refused to disembark, saying they no longer had a country of their own.

The three-year-old story has relevance today because of the current drama of the Wallenius Wilhelmsen, a freighter with 67 male asylum-seekers on their way to Christmas Island to seek Australian safety. As with the refugees aboard the Jaya Lestari, the clutch of refugees aboard the Wallenius Wilhelmsen “threatened to harm themselves” to secure safe passage.

Three years ago, an earnest, articulate Tamil named Alex Kuhendraraja on the boat with the refugees became their spokesman, appearing on Australian television channels with a 10-year-old girl named “little Brindha” who begged for safe haven. It became a major international incident, with “Alex” pleading for any country anywhere to take the refugees.

“Have a look at this picture you see today and ask yourself one question,” he said, gesturing to the media and the bedraggled Tamils behind him, many staring in bewilderment, “If you had no place, if you had no country of your own, what would you do? And how long would you stay in a boat before you were able to enter a country that will give you asylum?”

There was no allusion to Alex’s Canadian accent in a commentary, and the author accepted the pseudonym “Alex” as entirely reasonable: “His distress was palpable. Alex, purportedly an English teacher frm Jaffna who had left behind his pregnant wife, choked on his words.

‘We are not animals,” he said. “We are not dogs. We are not stray dogs. We are people without a country to live in’.”

Then came a bombshell. In early November the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Canberra claimed that Alex was Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah, a member of the Kannan gang in Toronto who had been deported from Canada 2002 and that that he was part of a people smuggling chain in Chennai, India.

It was only after his mother, identified as Sathia Rajaratnam, arrived that “Alex” admitted that he had been a member of a gang in Toronto. Claiming youthful indiscretion, he nevertheless continued to insist that his wife and several children faced danger in Sri Lanka.

But on Dec. 2, 2009, his mother -- reportedly a “businesswoman” sufficiently endowed to travel to Merak to visit her son -- said she felt guilty over his predicament, having urged him last year to move from Chennai, where he and his wife had a hotel business, to Sri Lanka, where business opportunities looked to be opening after the civil war.

Kuhendraraja ultimately acknowledged to Sean Fitzpatrick of the Australian that he didn’t have a pregnant wife and that she didn’t live in Sri Lanka. Later, according to Fitzpatrick, Alex “quietly admitted to me [that] he ‘made up stuff’ about the fate of the downtrodden Tamil community.”

This note was buried within the Fitzpatrick text, however. There was no highlighting of Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah’s work of deception and the equally stark fact of comprehensive media gullibility extending across major Australian news enterprises. The whole episode must surely enter into the annals of Australian journalism as a failure of skepticism and investigative technique.
It is, on first impression, a tale of gullibility. Or, is it? It could also be a tale of culpability. It is possible that the editorial line favored by The Australian discouraged any questioning caveats because it was adhering to the horror stories about Sri Lanka pressed by The Times group in London and regularly recapitulated within The Australian’s pages since early 2008. Stirring the public and selling news-as-commodity calls for sweeping generalizations and any attention to complexity and intricacy through caveats and detail simply spoils the grand plot.

The Australian media has also suffered from its profound ignorance of the migrant scene. It does not seem to have given weight to the presence of thousands of Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu in India since 1983, presently numbering around 110-125,000. Australian media circles appear to have been unaware that several thousand Sri Lankan males, mostly Sinhalese Catholics from the Negombo region, reached Italy by fishing trawler between 1990 and 2002 until Italy took action to thwart the process.
What this fact does to the easy acceptance of the widespread theory that people will only get unto so-called “leaky wooden boats” because they suffer from political discrimination and persecution cannot be addressed by Australians – cannot be addressed because ignorance is bliss.

It is this outstanding failure that is highlighted by my story about Alex the con man. It is not an unfamiliar shortcoming. The lack of investigative acumen revealed simply replicates the mind-boggling errors of omission displayed by other reporters when they relayed other similarly credulous stories and commentary of individuals who pose as “experts” on Sri Lanka.

Today, "Alex" could also serve as a conduit towards revealing information from all those on the Jaya Lastari who are prepared to tell us more about his role in those crowded days on the ship at Merak. We know that Brindha and 86 others from that ship made it to Christmas Island from Java on another boat. They clearly were not short of cash, resourcefulness or connections. What decisions have been made about this body of people is hidden by the stonewalls surrounding official Australian action (though it seems that Brindha and family have now been accepted as refugees subject to community detention. These refugees could be a mine of information.

They could also aid us in building a fuller picture of Alex. Why not pursue this fascinating character and get more details about his business in Chennai and how he lived from 2003 to 2009? He is a captive soul now, within reach for enterprising journeymen. It seems that he had hidden in Malaysia for quite a while, but was apprehended at Padang Besar on 29 April 2011 carrying a false Malaysian passport. He is now in jail in Thailand unsung, uncelebrated, and hardly benighted.

(Michael Roberts taught History at Peradeniya University from 1966-76 and Anthropology at Adelaide University from 1977 to 2004. He remains an Adjunct Associate Professor at the latter. He has written extensively on Sri Lankan issues.)

Are inflammatory religious remarks now fair game? — Pak Sako

AUG 21 — Statements made by Mahathir Mohamad after a mosque function in Kedah as recorded by Sinar Harian (‘Hudud boleh dilaksana jika Pas sertai Umno’, August 17, 2012), if true, would constitute an unprecedented rebuff of the culture of religious respectfulness by any Malaysian politician of that reputation.

The report cites him as saying that:

•    PAS should leave Pakatan Rakyat as soon as possible because they embrace “infidels” who evidently reject hudud. (“Pas harus keluar dari PR secepat mungkin kerana mereka saling berpelukan dengan orang kafir yang secara nyata menolak hudud.”);

•    PAS will not be able to implement hudud as long as they are with a political party that does not recognise that “Islam is a superior religion.” (“Selagi Pas bersama parti yang tidak mengakui Islam adalah agama unggul, hukum hudud tidak dapat di laksanakan.”).

The first remark uses a derogatory term that no self-respecting Muslim Malaysian would cast in referring to his non-Muslim brothers and sisters, political differences notwithstanding. The second remark implies that all other religions are inferior to Islam.

Both are insensitive and divisive. They ought to have no place in our multi-religious political discourse.
It is regrettable that these words were issued by a former prime minister. They must nonetheless be censured. Silence would only signal that it is legitimate to engage in such religious mud slinging.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Police Cripple Gang Of Shoplifters Specialising In Branded Milk Powder

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 (Bernama) -- The police have detained 13 people, including six suspected members of a gang of shoplifters, during a two-day operation in Kajang, beginning Aug 16.

The gang is believed to be involved in the theft of 160 boxes of branded milk powder worth about RM12,800.

Kajang police chief ACP Ab Rashid Ab Wahab said today, on Aug 16, the police detained three men and a woman at a sundry shop in 9th mile Cheras for allegedly shoplifting branded milk powder.

He said, the suspects had concealed the items in their robes before they were caught in the incident about 4.30pm.

"On the same day, the four suspects took the police to a medicine shop in Kuchai Lama where five men were nabbed.

"Two of them were believed to be owners of the shop which bought stolen goods from the gang of shoplifters," said Ab Rashid, adding that two Indonesian women, believed to be shop assistants, were also picked up.

The next day, two men were nabbed in Klang, he said.

The suspects are aged between 20 and 48.

Police Arrest Two Security Firm Personnel Over Botched ATM Theft

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 (Bernama) -- Five security firm personnel thought they could escape with cash from one of the automated teller machines (ATM) at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in Bangi on Aug 15.

Lady Luck, however, did not smile on them.

Two of the personnel were caught by a UKM security guard and policeman while the group attempted to prise open the ATM about 7.40pm, while using an oxygen gas torch.

The rest, comprising mechanics and a technician, escaped in a car.

Kajang police chief ACP Ab Rashid Ab Wahab said today, one of the would-be thieves had earlier attempted to deceive the guard into thinking that maintenance work was in progress.

However, the ruse failed as the guard became suspicious upon getting the whiff of something burning, he said.

Ab Rashid said the police had also seized an oxygen gas cylinder, a pair of gloves, hook and other equipment which were used in the attempted theft.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur CID chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the police had not ruled out 'inside job' involving security firm personnel in some of the ATM thefts in the Klang Valley.

He said the police suspicion was based on the thieves being well-versed in ATM alarm systems and closed-circuit television cameras near the machines.

He said the police were in the mids

Johor: String of seats could fall to Pakatan

At least half a dozen parliamentary seats could easily fall to the opposition in the coming general election, say informed political observers.

That’s the view shared by a veteran Johor-based journalist and a Johor opposition politician, whom I met over the last couple of days. They both said that Pakatan could easily bag six or seven seats, perhaps more.

At present, the BN holds 25 parliamentary seats from Johor and Pakatan (DAP) has one. The BN’s seats are held by Umno (16), MCA (7), MIC (1) and Gerakan (1).

Umno’s seats, however, appear fairly solid, given the unique position of the party in the state and the handouts announced by Najib. Also, property owners have benefited from soaring prices, as a result of Singaporeans snapping up property in the state and driving up prices. Then there are those working in Singapore who earn higher salaries after converting to Malaysian currency.

On the other hand, those working in Johor or looking to buy their first property in the state could struggle to cope with the rising cost of living.

Pas, meanwhile, has relatively limited appeal in the state, compared to the support they enjoy in the northern and eastern states of the peninsula.