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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NST given 48 hours to apologise to NGOs

Father demands cattle and land from daughter's rapist

İSTANBUL, The father of a girl raped by a teen relative in the eastern province of Erzurum has demanded land, cattle and that the rapist marry his daughter and the rapist's sister marry his son, according to a report by the Sabah daily on Monday.

The incident took place in the Tuzlataşı village of Erzurum's Çat district. The 13-year-old victim, E.D., was in the family stables taking care of a horse when she was attacked and raped by 15-year-old Fatih D. Children playing nearby alerted the victim's family, who found her unconscious in the stables.

The young girl told her family of the rape after she regained conscious and her family pummeled the rapist's home with stones, saying, “Give the rapist to us or else we will burn down your home.”

People in the village held a town hall meeting in order to try and find a resolution, and maintain peace between the two families. The father of the victim, Nizamettin D., who was in attendance at the meeting, said the only way he could forgive what happened was if Fatih D.'s family gave his family six cattle and a parcel of land; he also insisted that Fatih D. marry his daughter, and the rapist's sister marry his son.

Fatih D.'s father, Şükrü D., gave E.D.'s family the six cattle and land they requested, but then fled from the village fearing that he might be killed by members of the victim's family.

Locals informed the gendarmerie about the incident, which led to Fatih D.'s arrest. In his interrogation, Fatih D. confessed that he had raped E.D. and wanted to abduct her. “I told E.D. that I wanted to run away with her. When she refused to come with me, I pulled her and dragged her on the floor of the barn, but then I left her there and fled to the mountains. I was with the shepherds,” he said. Fatih D. was taken into custody following his interrogation.

Meanwhile, E.D. was taken to a hospital and kept there for observation. She later stated in court that she had been raped by Fatih D.

398 unescorted Nigerian women held in Saudi Arabia

Sokoto: Nigerian officials say 398 Muslim women pilgrims travelling to Makkah were temporarily held at a Saudi Arabian airport for travelling without male relatives.

A spokesman for Nigeria's National Hajj Commission said Saudi authorities held the Nigerian women between Thursday and Monday at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah.

Spokesman Uba Mana said the women were allowed to proceed with their pilgrimage Monday following diplomatic intervention.

He said Saudi authorities held them for not travelling with a male relative due to a "communication gap".

He said an agreement between the countries exempts Nigerian women from requiring a male relative to escort them during the Hajj pilgrimage, which costs about $4,000 per person.

All able-bodied Muslims who can afford it are expected to perform Hajj at least once in their lives.

US multinational fined RM80m for bribery in Malaysia and other countries

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — US multinational Tyco has agreed to pay US$26 million (RM80 million) to settle charges by the US government that it engaged in corrupt practices in more than a dozen countries in Asia and the Middle East, including Malaysia.

According to documents from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Tyco is alleged to have bribed officials, including an employee of a Malaysian government-controlled entity, in order to win lucrative contracts.

The SEC said in a media statement yesterday that the global manufacturer allegedly perpetuated schemes that typically involved payments of fake “commissions” or the use of third-party agents to funnel money improperly to obtain the contracts.

It also said that Tyco, whose place of incorporation was shifted to Switzerland in 2008, agreed to pay more than US$26 million to settle the SEC’s charges.

Other countries that Tyco was alleged to have engaged in bribery include China, India, Thailand, Croatia, Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, the UAE, Mauritania, Congo, Niger, Madagascar, Turkey, Poland and Egypt.

The SEC’s charges against Tyco claim that the latter made payments to approximately 26 employees of customers in Malaysia, including an employee of a government-controlled entity.

It also claimed that Tyco’s Malaysian subsidiary inaccurately described these expenses as “commissions” and failed to maintain policies sufficient to prohibit such payments, resulting in Tyco’ s books and records being misstated.

Tyco is a leading provider of electronic security products and services, fire protection and detection products and services, and valves and controls.

A Tyco spokesman was quoted by UK’s Financial Times yesterday as saying: “We’re committed to maintaining our rigorous compliance programmes across all of our business activities.”

Malaysia, which is attempting to stamp out corruption, has made international news over several other cases related to graft by multinationals in the country including one involving Australian banknote company Securency and French telecommunications giant Alcatel.

The headlines could reinforce perception that Malaysia has a reputation where bribes are paid to public officials.

Corruption was identified by the World Economic Forum this year as one of the top five problems facing businesses in Malaysia.

Malaysia also slipped four spots to 60th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index last year.

The Najib administration has made corruption one of the National Key Result Areas of its Government Transformation Programme to reform the government and make it more efficient and transparent.

Alcatel admitted in 2010 that it had bribed Malaysian government officials some time between 2004 and 2006 to win a US$85 million contract.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Australian central bank officials were told in 2007 that Securency had engineered a scheme to hide a RM492,000 payment to a Malaysian arms dealer in order to secure contracts from the Abdullah administration despite an earlier denial.

The arms dealer — Abdul Kayum Syed Ahmad — was charged here last year with two counts of giving RM50,000 bribes in 2004 and 2005 to former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Mohamad Daud Dol Moin in order to procure a contract to print the RM5 polymer bank notes by Reserve Bank subsidiary Note Printing Australia Ltd.

Abdul Kayum has pleaded not guilty.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has also denied allegations that the Australian banknote firms attempted to bribe him for a RM100 million Malaysian currency contract during his tenure as prime minister.

School field sacrificed for flyover project

SJK(T) Senawang's field will be taken up for the Seremban-Tampin road project and parents are none too pleased.

SENAWANG: A group of parents and several Pakatan Rakyat state assemblymen staged a protest in front of Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) Senawang yesterday against a planned flyover project that will cut cross the school field.

P Gunasekaran, DAP’s Senawang state assemblyman, who was representing the parents, said: “The field is already small, about 8,000 sq ft, smaller than a standard field in schools.

“The Public Works Department plans to build a flyover here and 50% of the field will be taken up for the project on the Seremban-Tampin federal road. This project was approved in 2009.

“The building of flyover close to the 125-year-old school will result in noise pollution and will disrupt lessons. The government should relocate the school, with a proper field for the students.

“There is ample land (oil palm) adjacent to the school. The state government can acquire the land, relocate the school and provide a new and bigger school field,” said Gunasekaran.

Gunasekaran said the root cause of the problem was poor planning by the authorities.

“The government should not have built a KTM commuter station here in the first place as it is on a narrow location and too close to the school – just by the side of the Seremban federal road.

“If the station was built in a much more spacious land or location, the need to build a flyover will definitely not arise,” he said.

“The commuter station and flyover cutting across the school field is inviting noise pollution for the 726 students and teachers.”

MIC’s playing a game

Gunasekaran also said that state exco VS Mogan (MIC) contacted him three days ago asking for more time to discuss and resolve the problem with the relevant authorities.

“Somehow he (Mogan) was aware that we were going to stage a protest and wanted me to call it off. He told me that he needed just one more day to negotiate with the relevant agencies.

“This project was approved in 2009. Why didn’t he raise the matter with PWD and the state government then?” asked Gunasekaran.

“MIC tried to steal a march on us by hurriedly putting up a banner the night before the planned protest. This is the first time in Negeri Sembilan I’m seeing MIC objecting to a government plan.

“The banner is still there but no MIC leader showed up the next morning. Hanging banners is not a big deal as hundreds of NGOs are doing this everywhere.

“My advice to MIC is to please stop politicising this issue,” said Gunasekaran, adding that Pakatan was not politicising the issue as the students’ interest need to be protected.

Gunasekaran said the banner he brought along did not carry his name or the logos of DAP, PAS or PKR even though the state assemblymen from the three parties were present.

“Students’ studies and sports activities need to be protected. We will mobilise bus loads of parents to protest at Parliament if the government still goes ahead with the project.

Relocate the flyover

Meanwhile, Paroi state assemblyman, Mohd Taufek Abdul Ghani (PAS) gave an ultimatum to government to relocate the flyover.

“How are we going to develop the physical and mental capabilities of the children when there is no place for sports activities?

“The size of the field is already small. If 50% of the field is taken up for the project, what is there left for the students?

“As this school sits in my constituency, I will raise this issue in the state assembly sitting scheduled for next month,” said Mohd Taufek.

Also present at the protest were state assemblyman for Port Dickson M Ravi (PKR), Ean Yong Tin Sin (Lukut-DAP), Ng Chin Tsai (Temiang-DAP) and Aminuddin Harun (Sikamat-PKR).

Gerakan Anti-Palanivel in the offing

If the MIC president decides to contest in Cameron Highlands, an ex-MIC branch chairman warns that he will kick off the GAP movement.

PETALING JAYA: A disgruntled former MIC branch chief intends to launch “Gerakan Anti Palanivel” (GAP) if MIC president G Palanivel proceeds with his plan to contest the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat in the next general election.

Former Taman Mujur, Klang, MIC branch chairman V Thiagarajan, or popularly known as VT Rajan said he will launch the movement to oust Palanivel if the MIC chief does not return the seat to incumbent SK Devamany, who is also deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Speaking to FMT today, the rebel leader said he would kick off GAP with a gathering on nomination day for the next general election.

He said the movement would draw attention of the Barisan Nasional top leadership and “expose Palanivel’s true colours”.

Rajan was expelled from the party in March this year for failing to apologise for his statement against the party leadership.

He had earlier threatened to form GAP if Palanivel contested any of the four parliamentary seats held by MIC.

The party touted as the largest Indian-based political party in the country won only three of the nine parliamentary seats it contested under the BN banner in the 2008 general election. It won back another seat in a 2010 by-election.

The four seats are Segamat, held by deputy president and Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam; Cameron Highlands and Tapah held by vice-presidents and deputy ministers Devamany and M Saravanan respectively; and through a 2010 by-election, Hulu Selangor (P Kamalanathan).

Secret meetings

Rajan said Palanivel should allow the incumbents to defend their seats instead of “grabbing” the safest seat for his own political survival.

Palanivel was reported to have had a series of secret meetings with Cameron Highlands Umno leaders, allegedly to topple Devamany.

“No right thinking MIC president has ever done this sort of thing before. He is doing a number on his own leaders,” Rajan added.

He claimed that Palanivel often visited Cameron Highlands and had spent few hundred thousand ringgit to beef up his strength in the highlands.

Rajan said he kept silent on the matter for the last six months but immense support he received since announcing the idea to form GAP had forced him to make a stand.

The former branch chairman said he had also received calls from MCA and MIC leaders from Cameron Highlands, who vouched their support for the movement.

“There is nothing personal between me and Palanivel. As a party member it is my responsibility to protect the party from people who try to tarnish MIC for their own agenda,” he added.

The MIC president lost the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat in the 2008 election with a razor thin 198 vote majority.

He was dropped as BN candidate for the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat by-election in 2010. The BN top leadership picked Kamalanathan saying that the newcomer as a winnable candidate.

Clear the air on MIED

Rajan also wanted an explanation on the status the Maju Institute for Education Development (MIED), MIC’s education arm.

“Palanivel should clear the air on the status of MIED which runs the AIMST University. It was build with the people’s money. It also received a lot of aid from the government. Now there is talk that AIMST would be privatised after the next general election.

“Normally the MIC president heads the MIED board of directors. But in December, 2011 Palanivel and former vice president KS Nijhar resigned from the board saying that they were saddled with too many responsibilities. But the truth is Palanivel resigned because he could not fight (former president) S Samy Vellu in the board and take over,” claimed Rajan.

He said party members were in the dark over the matter and several police reports had been lodged on the alleged misappropriation of AIMST funds.

“It is Palanivel’s responsibility to explain this matter to MIC members and public at large,” he added.

Religious differences the new danger

The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future, said Samuel P Huntington in 1993.

By Khoo Ying Hooi

Strong protests have swept across the Muslim world over the trailer “Innocence of Muslims” since the video was first released on YouTube, uploaded by its director Sam Bacile.

The low-budget film stirred a wave of anti-American violence which targeted mostly symbols of American influence.

The video illustrates Prophet Muhammad in a negative light, portraying Him as a fool, womaniser and killer.

The debate over the video can be viewed in different perspectives. Some claim it is about freedom of expression and speech, while others say it is politically driven and manipulated.

The film has sparked a delicate debate about how far artistic freedom can be stretched.

YouTube has since blocked access to this video in several countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, including Malaysia and its neighbouring countries, Indonesia and Singapore.

Then a few days ago, a French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, published several insulting caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, including portraying the Prophet naked in the cartoons, which exacerbated the already tense atmosphere in the Muslim world.

In the past, there have been many other controversial publications and artworks that have caused uproar among the Muslims. But this time, the scale of protests has been massive and violent.

Back in 1989, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the execution of British author Salman Rushdie for his novel “The Satanic Verses” because it contained some insults in the account of the Prophet Muhammad’s life.

In 2004, a short film “Submission” directed by prominent Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was aired in the Dutch television. The film was intended to feature the abuse of Muslim women; however it became dubious due to several images in the film.

In one of the controversial images, the opening lines of the Quran were written across the naked body of a Muslim woman. Two months after the broadcast, van Gogh was murdered by a young man, Mohammed Bouyeri, on an Amsterdam street.

In 2005, 12 cartoons by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten showed Prophet Muhammad in various humorous situations, including a drawing of the Prophet wearing a lit bomb inside his turban. This sparked violent demonstrations throughout much of the Muslim world.

The clash of civilizations

The theory of the clash of civilizations, first propounded by the influential political scientist Samuel P Huntington in 1993 in the magazine “Foreign Affairs”, just shortly after the end of the Cold War, might be able to shed some light on what is happening now.

The theory came about as a response to Francis Fukuyama’s book in 1992, “The End of History and the Last Man”.

Huntington opined that there will be no longer ideological (political) or economic conflicts in the post-Cold War world; instead the new danger will arise out of the cultural and religious differences between the people, and this will serve as the primary source of conflict.

In his book, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”, he stated that “religion is the central defining characteristic of civilizations”.

He emphasised that people are being divided along cultural lines and there is no universal civilization but there are cultural blocks, with each block having its own distinct set of values.

In the 1993 “Foreign Affairs” article, Huntington wrote, and I quote:

“It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”

If we recall the Sept 11 attacks which have left a strong impact and become a turning point in re-looking into global security, many scholars have turned to Huntington’s theory in seeking to understand the reasons for such attacks.

Some argue that the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the war between the West and al-Qaeda and the acts of terrorism by religious extremists are some of the reasons that have led to the escalation of the clash of civilizations.

“The Innocence of Muslims” may not have literally caused the killings of the four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, but the spread of the video has indeed sparked viral protests in many Muslim countries.

Like it or not, whether one agrees with Huntington’s theory, there appears to be a serious conflict between Islam and the Western world. Reconciliation between civilizations is a tough task and will only be achievable in the long term.

The writer is an academic staff in Universiti Malaya and a PhD candidate in the University Putra Malaysia. She is a FMT columnist and can be contacted at

Zahid: If not for infighting, UMNO can do better

(Harakah) - Top UMNO leaders continue giving mixed signals about the party's chances of surviving the next general election, which must be called within the next nine months.

Quoted by Malay daily Sinar Harian, UMNO vice president Zahid gave a less optimistic prediction, saying UMNO would likely perform better than 2008 but not as good as 2004, when BN won by a landslide majority.

Zahid viewed the 13th general election to be more challenging for UMNO.

“(BN) not only need to work hard, but to work smart. We must win the people's hearts. Although I am a vice president, my analysis is not biased and I look at it objectively,” said the Defence minister.

On UMNO’s main challenges, Zahid said it was not due to the challenge posed by Pakatan Rakyat, but due to its internal problems which included “being too comfortable”.

Zahid acknowledged that the issue of UMNO's internal problems had been repeatedly raised since Najib Razak took over party leadership in 2009.

He said it was most visible in states which BN lost in 2008, and warned that factionalism would jeopardise UMNO’s chances in election.

“Although the president, deputy president, vice presidents and supreme council members have been ordered to get to the ground, we still find that the issues have become a stigma for UMNO headquarters,” he said.

Zahid also opined that the election would not be held this year.

In 2008, UMNO-BN lost its traditional two-third parliamentary majority for the first time, four years after sweeping 92 percent of the seats.

Beware Benchmarking Education Against India

They may not all go for the Nobel
They may not all go for the Nobel
(Asia Sentinel) Those impressive numbers of engineering grads belie the fact that too many of them aren't very good

A new report called The Competition that Really Matters, which was released jointly by the Center for American Progress (a Washington DC think tank with close ties to the Obama administration) and the Center for the Next Generation, contends that America’s competitive position is being eroded by the emergence of skilled labor forces in India and China.

The report calls both countries among “our fiercest competitors for the jobs and thought leadership of the future.” Noting the investments China and India are making in improving their human capital, it recommends that the United States substantially increase the level of resources directed at primary and secondary education.

There is certainly a strong case to be made that the US educational system is in urgent need of overhaul. But the new report is reminiscent of Rising Above The Gathering Storm, a widely-publicized 2005 report that was written by an eminent group of US business and scientific leaders. It likewise warned that India and China were quickly acquiring a vast reservoir of low-wage but highly-trained brainpower that would inevitably sap America’s edge in innovation. One of the particular warning indicators it presented was that Chinese universities were churning out some 600,000 engineers a year and India 350,000, but U.S. institutions were only minting 70,000.

In similar fashion, The Competition that Really Matters advises that India “is already producing more students with bachelor’s degrees than is the United States. Over the last seven years, India has tripled its output of four-year degrees in engineering, computer science, and information technology.” It also notes that “seven times more children attend primary school in India than in the United States.”

But quality is really the issue here, rather than mind-boggling quantity. This point was amply underscored when Vivek Wadhwa and his colleagues at Duke University quickly debunked the alarming figures presented in the Rising Above The Gathering Storm report. The Duke study found that engineering numbers cited for China and India were significantly exaggerated since they included holders of associate degrees and vocational certificates along with recipients of bona fide four-year degrees. It concluded that:

“A comparison of like-to-like data suggests that the United States produces a highly significant number of engineers, computer scientists and information technology specialists, and remains competitive as a source of global engineering, computer science and information technology labor.”

Similar arguments also appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Surprisingly, there is no reference to this policy debate in The Competition that Really Matters.

Contrary to the growing Western perception of the country as a technology powerhouse, the quality of Indian graduate education in critical technology fields lags significantly behind the United States and Europe. Concerns about the caliber of India’s legions of engineering graduates have mired New Delhi’s bid for full membership in the Washington Accord, which governs international recognition of foreign engineering degrees. Moreover, the country manages to produce a remarkably small number of PhDs in computer science each year. Indeed, Israel graduates approximately the same number as India despite the gargantuan population disparity. A senior government official in New Delhi a few years back acknowledged that India would never become a great power on the basis of such paltry numbers.

A parade of government officials and corporate leaders has acknowledged the serious disrepair of the Indian university system, including at the most elite schools. Incredibly, given the country’s high-tech image, the Infosys Science Foundation in 2009 was unable to find a worthy recipient for its inaugural prize honoring an Indian researcher in the field of engineering and computer science. And The Journal of the ACM, the world’s leading journal in the computer science field, for a number of years was unable to publish Indian submissions on quality grounds.

According to a widely-consulted scorecard compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, only one Indian school – the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore – is ranked in the top 500 of global universities – and then only in the bottom tiers. Research by the McKinsey Global Institute concludes that only a quarter of Indian engineering graduates are suited for employment by multinational companies. The rest are lacking in requisite technical knowledge, English-language capacity, and collaborative skills.

These findings are underscored in a new report by a British engineering organization. A forthcoming book by Rafiq Dossani also concludes that Indian engineers rank at the bottom when compared to their counterparts in the other BRIC nations.

As one official in the Prime Minister’s office recently acknowledged, “The stark reality is that our education system churns out people, but industry does not find them useful….The necessary development of skills is missing in our education.” This view is echoed by a report four years ago by a parliamentary committee, which observes that the employability of graduates of the country’s technical schools “remains a matter of serious concern.”

The resulting skills gap has fundamental implications for India’s success in the global economy. A 2009 World Bank report found that an acute deficit of civil engineering skills severely jeopardizes the country’s growth prospects. The number of civil engineering graduates from Indian universities will need to increase three-fold in order to make good on New Delhi’s ambitious plans to improve the nation’s decrepit infrastructure. And in order to expand the ramshackle energy sector, India has been forced to rely on tens of thousands of Chinese guest workers. As the chairman of the Central Electricity Authority admitted in a recent interview, “we don’t have that amount of skilled manpower in the country.”

It is true, as The Competition that Really Matters observes, that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has dramatically increased funding for primary and secondary education. But so far, more resources have not translated into better outcomes. India not only exhibits the lowest educational indicators in the Group of 20, its public education system scores poorly relative to the other BRIC countries and to other emerging market countries. The 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Index newly issued by the World Economic Forum places India at 81st, out of 144 nations evaluated, in terms of the quality of primary education, 107th for secondary school enrollment, and 95th for tertiary education enrollment.

In spite of the recent infusion of more government resources, educational indicators remain profoundly disconcerting. According to results released earlier this year by the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment, Indian eighth-graders scored second to last in a 75-nation ranking of writing and math skills. It is all the more disheartening that the Indian government selected students from Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh to participate in the assessment, since these states are considered among the best in providing elementary schooling.

Although The Competition that Really Matters discusses US PISA scores as well as China’s “Shanghai Shock,” it omits any word about India’s failings.

Similarly, a recent survey released by Pratham, a widely-respected nongovernmental group working to improve educational outcomes for impoverished children, finds that half of the country’s fifth-graders were unable to read at a second-grade level. And despite talk about rising literacy rates, one recent study concluded that the official rates are significantly overstated.

The benchmarks to India used in The Competition that Really Matters conceal just as much as they reveal. Still, the report does exemplify how the imperative of responding to emerging global competition from China and India has become a common theme in U.S. policy circles. President Obama frequently stresses this point. In announcing a new public-private partnership on manufacturing innovation last month, for instance, he justified the initiative by saying it “will help make sure that manufacturing jobs of tomorrow take root not in places like China and India, but right here in the United States of America.”

In a campaign appearance three months ago, Obama argued that the US had to invest more in science and technology so as not to “cede new ideas to countries like China and India.”

Along the same lines, the president regularly refers to the prodigious output of brainpower from the two countries in exhorting the need for education reform in the United States. At a Democratic Party gathering last month, he maintained that unless America repaired its school system, "then we're not going to be able to compete with China or India or Brazil, who are very hungry and know that whichever country has the best workforce, the most highly skilled workforce, is going to be the country that succeeds economically.” And at a gathering in Las Vegas two years ago, he cautioned that if India is “producing more scientists and engineers than we are, we will not succeed.”

But if this argument, at least when it comes to India, is not supported by the data, why has it gained wide currency? My own theory has to do with the conflating of the Indian diaspora’s success in America with the strength of their homeland’s competitive position. The prominent role that India-born engineering and scientific talent plays in driving U.S. prosperity and innovation – most prominently in Silicon Valley – is a significant factor in this confusion.

So, too, is the swelling number of bright and diligent Indian students enrolled in American universities. Indeed, a bipartisan consensus has formed in Washington that the US needs to keep as many of these students in America as possible once they’ve completed their course work. As Obama put it in his January 2011 State of the Union address: “[Students] come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.”

But it should alert us that something is amiss at home when so many of India’s best and brightest choose to pursue their dreams and apply their talents elsewhere. India’s transformations over the past two decades no doubt command the world’s respect, though they should not blind us to the daunting challenges it still confronts, perhaps none more formidable than in the area of human capital development. The country’s prodigious demographic resources – it will in a decade or so overtake China as the world’s most populous country – could one day be the basis for India’s emergence as a full-fledged global power. But for now it remains an open question whether India has the capacity to distill raw potential into actual achievement.

(David J. Karl is president of the Asia Strategy Initiative, an analysis and advisory firm based in Los Angeles. He blogs on South Asia at Chanakya’s Notebook and can be followed on Twitter @davidjkarl.)

Malaysia catat pertumbuhan negatif selama 24 tahun- Anwar

(Oleh: Sidiqin Omar)

KUALA LUMPUR 24 Sept: Ketua Pembangkang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, sejak 1988 hingga 2011, belanjawan negara mencatat pertumbuhan negatif pada kadar 2.89 peratus daripada Kadar Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK).

Anwar dalam soalan tambahannya kepada Timbalan Menteri Kewangan, Donald Lim Siang Chai menyatakan, rekod positif dicatat hanya pada tahun 1997, iaitu pada kadar 2.4 peratus.

“Gambaran ini membimbangkan. Profil kredit meningkat. Amaran ini harus diambil secara serius. Kalau kita lihat Laporan Ketua Audit Negara (LKAN), unjuran tahun demi tahun tidak sampai sasaran,” katanya.

Anwar turut merujuk amaran perunding kewangan antarabangsa, Standard & Poor agar Malaysia menurunkan kadar kredit.

“Kewangan awam negara rendah secara relatif kepada persekitaran yang pelbagai. Malaysia kini setanding atau lebih tinggi kadar hutang seperti krisis yang melanda Itali,” kata Anwar memetik Fitch Ratings.

Tambah Anwar, jawapan Timbalan Menteri Kewangan tidak menjelaskan tentang kadar hutang negara yang kini berjumlah RM437 bilion, melainkan penegasan bahawa paras hutang negara kononnya masih selamat, iaitu pada kadar 53% berbanding KDNK, dua peratus dibawah paras berbahaya (55%)

Manakala menurut Donald, kerajaan turut mengadakan siri jelajah ke seluruh negara untuk menerangkan kepada rakyat berkenaan cukai barangan dan perkhidmatan (GST)

“Credit Suisse menyatakan sasaran Malaysia tidak tercapai. World Economic Forum menyatakan imbangan belanja kerajaan jatuh ke tangga 96 dari 110 (negara).

“Langkah-langkah yang diambil diumumkan, tetapi bagaimana diukur keberkesanannya. Sebagai contoh melalui penilaian LKAN atau laporan Transperency International.

“Kita (Parlimen) tidak usul supaya diumumkan pemotongan perbelanjaan kerajaan, (dan) menekankan subsidi kepada golongan miskin.

“Apakah unjuran yang disebut Timbalan Menteri Kewangan akan dapat dicapai berdasar kepada kenyataan Perdana Menteri?

“Yang (hanya) ditekankan tentang pembaziran atau disebut leakage (kebocoran). Ini menuntut kita mengambil langkah serius mulai sekarang,” tegasnya.

Majlis Presiden dan pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat kini sedang bermesyuarat bagi membincangkan butiran Belanjawan Alternatif 2013 yang akan dibentangkan dalam masa terdekat.

Listen, Malaysians — Ali Kadir

SEPT 25 — I don’t know about you but I am disgusted with Umno and its sycophants, MCA and Gerakan, and I believe that we have to reject them wholesale for:

1) The culture of idiocy they nurture. There is a difference between BN and Pakatan Rakyat.

Whenever Lim Guan Eng or Khalid Ibrahim is accused of wrongdoing, they don’t hide. They come out with proof, sue to clear their name and even engage international audit firms. In contrast, till today no one knows how Altantuya Shaariibuu’s immigration records were erased or why the RM250 million sweet deal was given to Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s family or how Cabinet ministers are able to live a life of luxury on RM18,000 a month.

Till today, there has been no rebuttal of the fact that millions of ringgit were paid in kickbacks to the highest offices in Putrajaya from a submarine deal.

2) The dumbing down of Malaysia. Umno newsletter, the New Straits Times, reported that local NGOs had received RM20 million to destabilise the government. These journalists must be as dense as their political masters.

And now we have Gerakan politicians going after possibly the cleanest politician in Penang.

See, this is the new strategy of the desperate: if you feel threatened by any individual or organisation just keep on flinging mud at them and hope that some of it sticks.

What Teng Chang Yeow and gang must understand is this: people are aware of the hypocrisy. For nearly two decades, Koh Tsu Koon and Gerakan did nothing and played dead when the state was being ravaged by Umno thieves.

And now when they are out of power and irrelevant, they are suddenly talking about corruption, etc.

3) The culture of violence. Roughhouse tactics are being used by Umno and their associates to intimidate undergraduates contesting campus elections aligned with the opposition.

There is no longer any sense of decency. They just want to remain in power and want to silence any dissent.

We have a choice: we either put up and shut up OR we kick them out.

* Ali Kadir reads The Malaysian Insider.

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

Bar Council man suggests court order against Bersih invalid

The Malaysian Insider 
by Hafidz Baharom

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 ― The court order barring Bersih rally participants on April 28 from entering Merdeka Square may have been null and void, the Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) public inquiry heard today.
Roger Chan, a Bar Council observer, said the court order had not been gazetted by a government-certified printer as was required under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), during the testimony of the former police chief of Dang Wangi district.

“ACP Mohamad Zulkarnain Abd Rahman, are you aware that if a notice is not gazetted, then the court order is considered null and void?” he said, asking the former police chief of Dang Wangi district who answered in the affirmative.

Chan said that if the court order had not been gazetted, then the barricades erected around the square were illegal. Mohamad Zulkarnain disagreed.

“If you did not see anything or hear anything, was there still a threat to public health and national security?” Chan asked.

Mohamad Zulkarnain said the protesters were still a threat to public health and national security since the roads could not be used and they were disrupting the peace.

Bersih observer Andrew Khoo also grilled the senior police officer on the contents of the court order, noting that the court’s designated “forbidden zone” had not included Lebuh Pasar and Jalan Tun Perak where barricades were set up. “I don’t contend the court order, but I do not remember this map included with the court order,” Mohamad Zulkarnain said.

Khoo said that the court order also included a paragraph that said the police did not receive any notification from Bersih by April 26 regarding the rally, a point he contested with a letter from Empower dated April 13.

“The language in this court order was written by someone else. I used my authority to sign it,” Mohamad Zulkarnain said.

But panel chief Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee said that the police officer, being the signatory, had to bear the responsibility for the sworn statement that was the basis of the court order.

When asked if he could specify the chain of command, Mohamad Zulkarnain said the Kuala Lumpur Chief of Police (CPO), Datuk Mohmad Salleh, or his deputy could have given orders to his subordinates directly.

The response prompted Danial Albert, a second Bersih observer, to suggest Mohmad be called as a witness given that he may have overridden Mohamad Zulkarnain on the day.

“Seeing as how this witness testified that the CPO could be giving contradicting orders of the ACP, we ask that he be brought forward to testify in front of the panel,” said Danial Albert, another Bersih observer.

The panel chief agreed and asked the SUHAKAM secretariat and police observers to work on the request.

The inquiry resumes on October 8.

Government Promotes Religious Tolerance

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (Bernama) -- A special allocation provided to houses of worship is a testimony that the government is fostering religious tolerance and cultural diversity, said Political Secretary to the Prime Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Abdullah.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was concerned with religious needs of the people of various races in the country.

"Since taking over the reins in 2009, the prime minister has introduced the 1Malaysia concept which was instrumental in promoting religious tolerance and cultural diversity," he said when presenting a RM330,000 grant to the Sri Ramar Alayam Temple, here Tuesday.

The allocation was received by the temple secretary, M.Pushpagaran.

Shafie said as a result, religious tolerance was on the rise while cultural diversity was accepted by all races without fear.

Stop persecution of Suaram

A vigil was held in Kuala Lumpur tonight to express solidarity with Suaram which now finds itself under siege.
While Suaram is accused of having received foreign funds, it appears that the US military has been providing training assistance to its Malaysian counterparts. Read this Aliran statement.