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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Custodial death: Mom suspects foul play

(Malaysiakini) A mother today pleaded with Deputy Home Minister Abu Seman Yusop for an autopsy on her son, a convict, who died under mysterious circumstances.

M Sooriakandhi, 51, made the plea at the Parliament lobby today, accompanied by Subang MP R Sivasara and activist S Jayathas.

However, Abu Seman was only able to promise that he would get details from the prison department. Met later, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters the same.

NONEThe deceased is R Kumarajah, age 27. He was convicted of motorcycle theft in 2011 and was incarcerated at the Kajang prison. He was scheduled for release in February 2013.

He was pronounced dead on Monday. There are several accounts on the circumstances of his death and the exact location where he died is unsure.

According to Sooriakandhi's police report, she had expressed dissatisfaction with the magistrate's declaration that her son had died of AIDS.

“The magistrate pronounced my son died on AIDS in 15 minute. (A hospital official) said there is no need to have post-mortem examination (and) we could take back the body,” wrote Sooriakandhi.

She added that Kumarajah was healthy when she visited him last Tuesday.

Contacted yesterday, Kajang OCPD Abdul Rashid Abdul Wahab confirmed that Kumarajah died of AIDS but declined further comment.

RM100m suit: Kugan's mother to testify on Nov 2

The politics of the Batu Caves condo controversy

The Batu Caves condo controversy

Another political ploy

The recent demonstration by about 300 people against the construction of a 29-storey condominium near the iconic Sri Subramaniar Temple in Batu Caves opens up another controversy that was created and is being capitalised on by politicians as the general election draws ever nearer.

It is strange that the very people who approved the project in 2007 are now publically demonstrating against it being implemented by another party.

The reason given for their opposition to the condominium is that it is too close and poses a danger to the temple which is the focus of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year from all over the world. They are also deeply concerned about its unfavourable effects on the surrounding environment.

While admitting that citizens have the right to demonstrate against any project they feel will be harmful to the people and environment, some questions remain as to the timing and the people who are demonstrating against it.

Why were there no official complaints whatsoever since the project was approved five years ago? Why is that that the very people involved in its approval are now vehemently against it?

Why has the temple committee allowed itself to be manipulated by members of the ruling party led by none other than the former works minister?

The initial reaction by representatives of the Selangor government as usual was to engage in a blame game and absolve themselves from any responsibility as the project was approved and implemented by BN in 2007.

The issue is not about who is responsible but whether things were done in accordance with the laws and in good faith with the welfare of the people at heart.

Obviously this issue is being politicised where both BN and Pakatan are blaming each other for approving the project.

However the prompt intervention by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim to issue a stop-work order and a review of the project by independent experts is commendable. Delaying such action may lead to things becoming ugly and racially exploited by our opportunistic politicians.

It was a right and timely move by him to put a stop to the further escalation of the blame game.

Khalid's decision may not be politically expedient but it is the right thing to do. For far too long we had leaders who placed political expediency above righteousness and Khalid's action brings some reassurance to the people, whose will must prevail at all times.

The people must always be the winner in any dispute between politicians and their parties.

The Batu Caves condo controversy reveals a gross defect in our system of administration - irresponsible local councillors who are subservient to their political masters who appointed them.

It is time for our local councillors to be democratically elected by the people to truly represent their interests and not theirs or their political masters.

Lagi tahanan mati dalam penjara

Ada pengganas di antara kita, dedah menteri

A Minor Christian Girl Kidnapped in Islamabad Territory

pakistan-flag-violenceA 14-year-old Christian girl, Timar Shahzadi, was kidnapped by Muslim men in the twin cities of Islamabad/Rawalpindi on Monday, October 22, 2012, as she was returning from school.
Mohabat News -- Shamim Masih, a Assist News Service correspondent in Pakistan, said that according to Pastor Farooq Sadique, the girl was with friends when the abductors pounced and dragged her away.

Mr. Masih says that her family fear that she could be "forcefully converted to become a Muslim and then married off if immediate steps are not taken."

He went on to say that her family reported the incident to the police station in Koral Police Station in Islamabad, but police have not yet conducted any investigation.
(Timar Shahzadi, the kidnapped girl -- Photo courtesy: ANS)
"The poor family cannot afford the expenses of the tribunal procedure and her father requested the higher official to take care of her daughter's issue. He also requested the human rights and women rights organization to help him in finding her daughter," said Shamim Masih.

Her father, Amjid Masih, said that because the girl is still a minor, according to law "she is too young" to be married.

The practice of forced conversion and forced marriage is widespread: rich and powerful Muslims take advantage, especially in rural areas and girls are victims of religious minorities.

According to Fides Agency, in Pakistan there are about 1,000 similar cases each year, against Christian and Hindu girls.

The agency added that to combat the phenomenon, widely recognized by civil authorities, the "National Commission for Religious Minorities" has prepared a draft law that Christians support and hope that it may soon be considered by Parliament.

India: Kashmir protests after Facebook 'slur'

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Authorities shut down a Facebook page allegedly containing morphed pictures

Muslims in Indian-administered Kashmir have protested against Facebook posts which they say insult Islam.

Police have arrested three people, all Hindus, from the Kishtwar district for allegedly running a "campaign" against Islam on the social networking site.

Two of the men are government teachers. Authorities said they had been dismissed from their jobs.

Police were put on alert after Muslim leaders called for a shutdown in the valley on Tuesday.

On Monday Muslim protestors clashed with relatives of the three men who allegedly put up the Facebook posts in Kishtwar, Doda and Bhaderwah districts.

Some protestors pelted a local police station with stones and damaged vehicles.

Authorities have blocked a Facebook page on which the three men had allegedly posted morphed pictures of the Koran and Kaaba. They have also asked the police to charge the men with violating public safety.

Religious tensions erupt occasionally in Kashmir's districts of Kishtwar, Poonch and Kargil, the BBC's Riyaz Masroor in Srinagar says.

Last month a strike called by an alliance of Kashmiri religious groups to protest against the amateur anti-Islam film, which led to worldwide protests, hit normal life in the valley.

Thousands have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir since a revolt against Indian rule began in 1989.

In recent months there has been a lull in violence in Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

Selangor risking public funds in Batu Caves condo row

Ronnie Liu (centre, in yellow) with Selangor Pakatan Rakyat supporters showing the 2007 approved plan granted to developer Dolomite Properties Sdn Bhd to build a 29-storey condominium and shop lots near Batu Caves. — Picture by Md Izwan

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Selangor is risking legal action that will see taxpayers picking up the tab for compensation to the developer of a controversial condominium project that has sparked protests from the Hindu community, by halting construction on the project it had previously approved.

“If the developer has complied with all approvals, it can seek legal recourse. Similarly and irrespective of whether the developer is right or wrong, the buyers can sue the latter if the project is delayed,” Datuk Eddy Chen, a former president of the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (REHDA), told The Malaysian Insider.

The 29-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project has turned into a political crisis as Batu Caves is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians, who form the majority of the 1.7 million Indians and are a key voting group in many urban seats in Selangor.

On Friday, about 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally in the Batu Caves temple complex to protest against the condominium construction, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds but did not furnish proof to substantiate their allegations.

The project was given the nod by state authorities in 2007, but MIC and Barisan Nasional (BN) have in recent weeks pressured the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration into calling a halt to the project amid a battle for Indian votes.

Chen said there should be a technical or legal basis for the temporary stop-work order, adding that it could “lead to project abandonment” if not resolved quickly, making the buyers the “main victims”.

He said the state government must be “careful” not to “penalise” the developer or its buyer, saying that Selangor should lift the stop work order immediately if all the requirements have been fulfilled.

REHDA also issued a warning that reversals of government decisions due to public objection alone is frightening for business interests.

Delays or cancellation of a valid development order would indicate that technically sound decisions can easily be “reversed” by “popular objection”, a REHDA spokesman told The Malaysian Insider.

“If this country is going to degenerate to a process where objectors overturn the government’s decision, it really frightens me,” the spokesman said.

“At least that is some step forward,” he said, when it was pointed out that Selangor plans to set up an independent taskforce to ensure that the developer Dolomite Properties Sdn Bhd has complied with all regulations.

But he asked whether those who protested would be “prepared to compensate” the developer for its losses, if the findings show that the granting of the development order was “absolutely ok”.

The state government should resolve the matter “very quickly” and not let it “drag into a political affair”, he said.

Kajang prison passes the buck to cops

Kajang prison authorities say that since the family have lodged a police report on the death of an inmate, they will leave it to the police.

PETALING JAYA: The Kajang prison authorities have passed the buck to the police on the death of an inmate at its facility.

Yesterday, the family of R Kumar Rajah, 27, alleged that he died in his cell on Oct 29, after the prison authorities failed to provide medical assistance for his stomach ache.

A prison spokesman said they have left it to the police to investigate as a police report has been lodged by the family.

“Comments on this case will be by the Prisons Department. We will leave it to them to comment and clarify the matter,” he said when contacted by FMT today.

The family with the assistance of Lawyers for Liberty want a post-mortem conducted on the inmate’s body, which is kept at the Kajang Hospital.

They have alleged that the prison authorities, police, the hospital and the magistrate, in charge of issuing a post-mortem order, were working to cover-up the cause of death.

Kajang district police headquarters meanwhile confirmed that a police report on the matter had been lodged by the family’s lawyers yesterday.

A police spokeswoman said the report contained their dissatisfaction against the hospital, police and the prison authorities.

“The report states that Kumar Rajah’s family and lawyer are unhappy with the hospital for refusing to do a post-mortem and the prison for alleged negligence and delay in informing the death of Kumar Rajah,” she said declining to comment further.

It is learnt that Kumar Rajah’s remains was still at the mortuary and up to 3.30 pm today no post mortem had been conducted.

Meanwhile, PKR’s S Jayathas notified FMT that the police have claimed that it has no power to override the magistrate’s order not to carry out a post-morterm.

He said that the police would forward their investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for further instructions.

‘Who is she to question Karpal?’

The cracks in DAP continue to widen ahead of the polls, with M Manoharan launching a broadside against Teresa Kok for her 'outburst' against Karpal.

GEORGE TOWN: “Who is she to question Karpal Singh?” thundered a DAP leader who took Selangor exco Teresa Kok to task for being rude.

Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M Manoharan demanded that the DAP national organising secretary apologise to the veteran politician, who is also the party’s national chairman.

He said Kok’s “media outburst” with regard to Karpal’s statement on the “one man – one seat” issue was uncalled for.

Being the party’s Selangor chief and national organising secretary, he said Kok should know that Karpal as the DAP supremo had the right to announce the party’s public policies.

He said Kok had no right to question Karpal’s media statements on the “one man – one seat” issue, which had become a major political topic among party leaders and members at all levels.

He said Kok should always remember that Karpal was among the senior leaders responsible for the party’s political strength and growth over the years.

“She should retract her criticisms immediately and apologise to Karpal,” Manoharan told FMT.

Last Friday, Karpal called on the party’s nine double-hat wearers, who are both a parliamentarian and an assemblyman, to declare publicly that they would opt for only one seat in the next general election.

In other words, Karpal wanted them to show support to the proposed “one man – one seat” electoral formula.

Karpal, who first proposed the formula early last year, argued that the party now had enough capable and dynamic young grassroots leaders as candidates, unlike in previous elections.

But Kok, a double-seat holder herself, chided Karpal for highlighting “an old story” in the media.

The other DAP elected representatives who are both MPs and assemblymen are Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman), Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy (Batu Kawan MP and Prai assemblyman) and the state senior exco and party chief Chow Kon Yeow (Tanjung MP and Padang Kota assemblyman), all in Penang; Beruas MP and Sitiawan assemblyman Ngeh Koo Ham, Taiping MP and Pantai Remis assemblyman Nga Kor Ming, both Perak; and Rasah MP and Lobak assemblyman Anthony Loke Siew Fook (Negeri Sembilan).

In Sarawak, state DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng is the Sibu MP and Bukit Assek assemblyman while state party secretary Chong Chieng Jen is the Bandar Kuching MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman.

‘She was neither here nor there’

Manoharan, who supported the “one man – one seat” proposal, said dual seat holders should put public and party interests above their own interests by accepting Karpal’s formula.

He said double-hat wearers should not draw multiple perks while dishing out poor performance as elected representatives at the expense of other single seat representatives and taxpayers.

At a glance, double-seat holders earn nearly RM40,000 per month.

In Selangor, an assemblyman’s pay is about RM11,700, inclusive of allowances, while that of an executive councillor is about RM25,000 (inclusive of state assembly pay). A MP earns about RM15,000 a month.

Manoharan recalled that during the recent July parliamentary sitting, which coincided with the Selangor state assembly session, Kok was unable to perform her duties efficiently as a senior exco, state representative and parliamentarian.

“She was neither here nor there. She was missing most of the assembly sittings,” he claimed.

Manoharan said he was now fighting a court case against the demolishment of a Hindu temple – Seafield Maha Mariamman Kovil – which comes under Kok’s Kinrara constituency.

“The temple management told me that it had been difficult to get even an appointment to meet Kok and resolve the demolishment issue amicably,” he said.

He said Kok was not able to divide and devote her time for her constituents partly because she was a MP and an assemblywoman in two different territories.

Up to party to decide

When contacted, Kok reiterated that this was an old issue.

“The party has set up a candidature committee which will deal with this question, and the CEC has discussed this issue before,” she said.

She added that placement of candidates depends on the party’s strategy in each constituency and each state.

She also said that Manoharan has not visited her constituencies to know the work she was doing there, along with her five staff to manage her state office.

She added that her work at her constituencies were regularly highlighted in her blog and her Facebook.

Bestino investors’ ‘Occupy Putrajaya’ called off

The Bestino Action Committee decides to call off its Occupy Putrajaya campaign after a meeting the prime minister's special officer.

PETALING JAYA: The Bestino gold scheme investors have called off their ‘Occupy Putrajaya’ campaign after the Prime Minister’s Office today agreed to hold a discussion with them.

Speaking to FMT, the investors’ spokesman K Kunasegaran said the campaign, which kicked off yesterday, was called off after the Bestino Action Committee met Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s special officer Ravin Ponniah at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya this morning.

Bestino was one of the nation’s largest gold investment scheme involving more than 6,700 investors nationwide who had invested more than RM400 million.

The gold trading company was operated by Perak-based gold merchant Chong Yuk Ming before it was closed down by Bank Negara Malaysia in 2010 for alleged money laundering.

The central bank also froze RM24 million following the raid.

The investors have been trying to get back their investments since then. They have held discussions with the Finance Ministry as well as with Bank Negara but todate no solution had been found.

Bestino claims that it has the money to pay back the investors but the fund was parked in Hong Kong. The company claimed that it needed Bank Negara’s approval to bring the money back into the country.

The investors then turned to the prime minister to intervene and solve the matter. Their efforts to obtain an appointment with Najib had met with a dead wall. The investors irked with the way the authorities have been passing the buck resorted to camping outside the PMO until they get an appointment with the prime minister.

Their campaign began yesterday.

On their meeting with Ravin Ponniah, Kunasekaran said the prime minister’s special officer had asked the Bestino Action Committee to send an official letter through their lawyer for a discussion with PMO, Finance Ministry, BNM, Bestino directors and investors.

“We will submit the letter very soon,” he said, adding that the government should speed-up the process of returning their money.

“It is already three years and the investors are still struggling to get back the money. If the Najib’s government has the financial muscle to settle the outstanding RM589 million debt owed by Tajudin Ramli of Malaysian Airlines System (MAS), what is the big deal to settle Bestino investors?” he asked.

In a related matter, A Gopalan, also an investor, urged MIC vice president M Saravanan to keep his hands out of the matter.

Tamil daily Malaysian Nanban today quoted Saravanan as saying that the government and MIC had put in all necessary efforts to assist the investors.

The MIC leader also slammed the investors for camping outside the PM’s office as it was becoming a trend to settle issues.

“From the very beginning MIC had eluded the issue. And now Saravanan is raising the issue just to get public attention,” said Gopalan.

Kg Railway belongs to developer, says court

The decision paves the way for the eviction of 153 residents.

PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Lumpur High Court declared today that property developer Sentul Raya Sdn Bhd is the owner of Kampung Railway, a residential area in Sentul.

The decision dismayed the current residents of the area, and their lawyer said he would file an appeal soon.

“The developer is the owner of the land, and by that virtue, they emerge the absolute owners irrespective of how and why they came to be the owners,” Justice Zabariah Yusof said in chambers.

Sentul Raya, a subsidiary of YTL Corporation, initiated the case last year. It sought a court order to evict Kampung Railway’s 153 residents, claiming they were trespassers.

The residents say they have the right to remain there by virtue of their being descendants of former Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) employees who began settling there in 1885.

They have also called on the government to turn the land into an Indian heritage site.

Commenting on the court decision, Hindraf youth chief S Thiagarajan said the judge had failed to consider what he called the “rich history” of Kampung Railway and its residents.

He also criticised the alleged haste in which the case was disposed of. “Despite the residents having over 100 witnesses and producing historical documents, the judge didn’t even grant a full trial,” he said.

“Justice hurried is justice buried, especially when it involves the Indian poor.”

He also questioned the Federal Territories Land Office’s refusal to give a detailed explanation of how the land was transferred from KTMB to Sentul Raya “without anyone’s knowledge”.

“We notice that private developers are acquiring railway land for pittance,” he said. “The Land Office’s reluctance to show us the transaction records only creates more suspicion.”

The residents were represented by P Uthayakumar, who is also Hindraf secretary-general.

PKR leaders demand post-mortem

They want the Home Ministry to order the police to refer the remains of a dead prison detainee for a post-mortem.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR vice-president N Surendran and Subang MP R Sivarasa today demanded the Home Ministry to order the police to refer the remains of R Kumar Rajah for a post-mortem.

The Kajang prison inmate was in excruciating pain for several days and died on Oct 29, but his mother M Sooriakandhi was only informed of his death yesterday.

“We want the green light from the Home Ministry for a post-mortem to be conducted. It is a cover-up by the police, prisons department, magistrate and the hospital,” Sivarasa alleged at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

“There is no excuse for the prisons department to delay informing the family of the death of Kumar Rajah by a day. That is very serious,” he added. Also present was human rights activist S Jayathas who had recently rejoined PKR.

Surendran chipped in: “Home Minister (Hishammuddin Hussein) must answer for this.”

He also accused the police of denying a post-mortem from being conducted and claimed that the Kajang Hospital and a magistrate were working in cahoots with the police.

“There has been no post-mortem. The police deliberately refused to allow for a post-mortem. The Kajang Hospital’s forensics department director has refused to do a post-mortem unless the police agree or a court order is issued,” he said.

Surendran said he would be lodging a report with the Malaysian Medical Council’s disciplinary committee against Kajang hospital for refusing the right to a post-mortem.

HIV claim pooh-poohed

He said that the police and the hospital’s inaction shows a possible cover-up. “Never before has the police and hospital conspired to prevent a post mortem.

“The mother cannot perform the last rites for her son until a post mortem is conducted. The home minister must immediately direct that one be done immediately,” said Surendran.

Sooriakandhi said: “My son told me I could visit him during Deepavali. He was healthy when I visited him
Death in custody R.Kumarajah Memo to Home Minister
last Thursday. At least allow me to perform his final rites.

“I had hopes that he would help me once he is released in February next year. Now they have destroyed my hopes.”

Sivarasa said the Kajang prison authorities claimed that Kumar Rajah died due to HIV, however both Sivarasa and Surendran are doubting it.

“They is no evidence to back that up. The can only be confirmed from a post-mortem,” said Sivarasa.

Surendran claimed that the magistrate did not do his job. “The magistrate saw the body for 15 minutes and said that there was no need for an investigation and no foul play was involved.

‘Hishammuddin a liar’

In a related development, Surendran charged that Hishammuddin lied in parliament yesterday. In a written reply to Kota Melaka MP Sim Tong Him, Hishammuddin said that deaths in custody are investigated under the Criminal Procedure Code.

“Hishammuddin is lying. Never do they conduct an investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code. I’m shocked and surprised that he could lie in Parliament,” said Surendran.

After the press conference, the two PKR leaders attempted to meet Hishammuddin but having failed to do so, met Deputy Home Minister Abu Seman Yusop.

While listening to Sooriakandhi, Abu Seman Yusop stressed several times: “Let me check with the police.”

Surendran said he would organise street demonstrations in front of Bukit Aman soon if Sooriakandhi does not obtain her son’s post-mortem report in a day or two.

In Chaah itself there are at least 25 red identity card holders all born in Malaysia

Senator S.Ramakrishnan,

Yesterday 27th Oct. 2012, we had a program in Chaah, Johore to help and educate those with red Identity card, no birth certificate and citizenship problems. It was a Saturday afternoon and about 25 people came to see us. All holding red identity cards and born in Malaysia mostly in the 50s and above. In 2 cases the red identity card holders have done extensive documentation and submitted all the requirements but still blue identity card is not given.

Others were poor and simple estate folks, the mere documentation requirement and unfriendly front office in registration department have chased them away and they are looking for someone else to help in the documentation and getting the blue identity. Almost all of them have their siblings and children with blue identity cards. Yet the registration department wants documents that are 60 or 70 years old. These estate folks simply cannot produce them or they need help from those who are familiar with the procedures.

But Indonesians landing in Pengirang and other coastal towns in Johore are relocated to other districts and states on a daily basis even now. This is what Pakatan Rakyat is afraid off especially in Selangor. This is treason committed by the registration department, police and district offices and UMNO politicians to stay in power at all cost.

Yet Indians and Chinese, born in Malaysia with slightest error like born in estate without birth certificate, given red identity card. They have to get documents from penghulu, midwives, father’s and mother’s death certificates, siblings identity card copies etc to prove beyond doubt that they are Malaysians. Estate workers who are poor and ignorant cannot provide all documents and they end up living with red identity cards. These card holders don’t get as welfare, hospital support and they cannot vote. If in a small town like Chaah, Johore there are about 25 and much more, how about whole Malaysia? 300000 could be a realistic figure.

There were 2 cases of children not given citizenship because the mother is a foreigner and their marriage registered in Malaysia after the child was born therefore registration department classify them as illegitimate child. Even though both mother and father had their wedding registered in the country of mother’s origin but these so called “illegitimate” children cannot get their Malaysian citizenship under section 13/15A. This child will have difficulty in enrolling for schools. If they are Muslims the registration department will write father’s name as Abdullah and the child will be classified as legitimate.

There was one case brought to our notice where a child born in police custody and the place of birth is written as Penjara (prison). The Penjara location too not mentioned. The innocent child carries this stigma for life. This kind of couldn’t be bothered attitude of registration department clerks makes the child’s life miserable.

There was one lady who donot know how read Malay, didn’t collect her citizenship. We saw the letter dated one year ago to collect. Later on Monday she was taken to registration office in Segamat to collect but was told that the date to collect has lapsed and she has to start the procedure all over again. So near yet so far. But for Indonesians it is never far.

This is the kind of quagmire Indian Malaysians are caught in. They are kept under fear without proper rights given and misinformed. UMNO/BN has just neglected this group of estate workers who still live on the fringes of society without any right, dignity and pride. These are the people who are easily overwhelmed by hampers and rice bags.

The educated and well to Indians have to come forward to lift these poor cousins in rural areas. Unfortunately their own children are of less help due low level of education and not well to do. Political awareness is needed to bring political change.

Who do you call?

Erna Mahyuni, The Malaysian Insider 
OCT 31 ― “Kami polis. Kami boleh tanya, tahan dan tangkap siapa saja.” (We’re policemen. We can interrogate, detain and arrest whomever.)

All M (she asked I not mention her name) wanted to know was why the two policemen on motorcycles were asking for her ID.

It was a rainy night, M was driving. She saw a motorcyclist in her way and honked. He might not have seen her; she just wanted to make sure. She was being careful, she thought.

The next thing M knew, two men on motorcycles were flanking her car.

One of them berated her for honking at him. She explained why she did so and also pointed out that she had right of way.

Again, he spouted the “I’m a cop and can arrest anyone” spiel.

She asked if she could call her friend, a senior police officer, for advice.

“Panggilah, saya takut apa?” (Call, then, what have I got to be afraid of?)

M called her friend. Her friend wanted the policemen’s names and numbers. And, suddenly, the “fearless” policemen were too afraid to identify themselves.

They lied to M’s friend on the phone, saying they only “wanted to help” her.

In the end, the policemen went away leaving a very shaken M.

M was lucky. Few of us can call up a senior ranked cop for help when being harassed by rogue members of the force.

Thing is, we shouldn’t even have to deal with it in the first place.

There are decent cops. I’ve met them. But at the same time, we’ve all heard the stories or encountered “bad cops.”

Cops who ask for bribes. Cops who steal. Cops who turn a blind eye to crime or pretend to be too busy with paperwork to attend to crime reports.

We are afraid of our policemen, for all the wrong reasons.

To be honest, they scare me too. I’ve gone to make a police report and was ignored by the cop on duty because he thought I was a Filipina. It took me brandishing my IC at him for him to take me seriously. Then there were the cops who wanted to solicit bribes from me or make me get in a police car, all because they mistook me for a foreign worker.

The cops need to be held accountable for the rogues in their ranks. They need to make it mandatory to show their identification numbers at all times.

If a cop refuses to give his name and ID numbers, it shouldn’t be a crime for a Malaysian to ignore him.

The reality is that there are cops who are bullies. But when a policeman asks you to pull over, don’t automatically assume he intends to harass you. Maybe your signal lights died. Your bumper or identification plate fell off. Give the policeman the benefit of the doubt.

But when it’s clear the “policeman” you’re dealing is problematic, here’s what you can do:

1. If you’re in a car, don’t get out. Roll down the window slightly (not enough for the rogue cop to reach in and grab you) and ask for identification. Even if they furnish it and ask you to follow them, insist on driving to a nearby station. If you’re a woman, there are real risks to you stepping into a policeman’s car if his intentions are unclear.

2. Keep your mobile phone and call people. Tell family, friends where you are and who you’re with. Take pictures. Use social media: Tweet and post pictures to Facebook, if you can.

3. If you’re on foot and don’t have the safety of a vehicle to retreat to, remain calm. Make calls but don’t run. If you’re unlucky, you might be dealing with a poorly trained, trigger-happy policeman who will use “resisting arrest” as an excuse to shoot you. It’s your word against theirs and your running from policemen will be used against you.

4. Resist the urge to be flippant, rude or confrontational. Policemen are public servants but they are not your coolies. Talking down to them doesn’t do you any favours and will just make the situation worse.

Even in developed countries like the US and UK, they do have problems with rogue policemen who do not respect procedure. Don’t assume all policemen are that way but at the same time, be prepared to deal with those who are.

At the very least, every Malaysian should have some number they can call to get help if they’re being bullied by cops acting questionably.

Question is: Will the phone ever stop ringing?

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Support the Indigenous People's Murum Dam Blockade Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser

The Penans have been blockading against the construction of the 944MW Murum Dam since Sept 26, 2012. More than 1,600 Penans from eight Penan villages (including one Kenyah Badeng longhouse) are affected by the construction of the dam which is now about 70% completed. Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), contractors and private companies involved in the project have been forced to use ferryboats or tugboats through the Bakun Dam reservoir to transport goods, machines, building materials etc. to the Murum Dam site.

This is a new and different factor compared to the campaign against the Bakun dam in previous years. While we had built a campaign against the Bakun dam in the past, there was no action by the indigenous peoples affected on a scale comparable to the Murum dam blockade. The Penan communities affected by the Murum dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full solidarity and support their struggle in all possible ways.

The Murum Penan communities are among the poorest in Malaysia. They have traditionally been hunter-gatherers but shifted to a more settled, agriculture-based way of life approximately 40 years ago. They rely on subsistence-based farming and hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products and the occasional sale of in-season fruit. Their livelihood has been adversely affected by low farm productivity and rapidly declining forest resources because of plantation and dam building projects.

The Bakun Dam Fiasco

The Sarawak state government with federal government support, has been carrying out highly irresponsible economic projects to the detriment of the environment, the indigenous peoples’ lives and the long-term interest of the Sarawak and Malaysian tax payers.

The 2400MW Bakun dam project has already proven to be a major fiasco not only in terms of insufficient demand for its electricity generated but a disaster for the 10,000 indigenous peoples who were displaced from their traditional ancestral land to the slum conditions of the resettlement scheme at Sg. Asap. Those who cherish their heritage and human rights would describe their fate as ETHNOCIDE if they have seen for themselves the conditions at Sg. Asap.

The total energy demand in the whole of Sarawak is only 1000MW so the government has been trying to attract the biggest energy guzzlers such as aluminium smelters which happen to be the most toxic as well. Another investment is a coal-fired power station to take up the excess energy. These environmentally polluting industries are then touted as part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). In fact, hydro-electric power dams and toxic aluminium smelters are all industries rejected by the developed countries. None of these countries, especially Australia, wants to have toxic industries in their own backyard. But the Sarawak State Government is willing to have these mega projects for rather dubious purposes. The desperate chase for investments to take up the excess Bakun energy AFTER the dam has been built shows a total lack of economic feasibility studies which should have been done before the dam was built. Is it surprising therefore that many SCORE contracts have been given to companies owned by members of Chief Minister Taib’s family?

As if this Bakun dam fiasco was not enough, the Sarawak state government intends to build 12 mega dams in all which will strip the state of its rainforest and displace even more indigenous communities. The Murum dam is the first of these 12 dams. The dam construction is being supervised by China Three Gorges Corporation and built by Chinese dam builder Sinohydro. After their massive investments in the Three Gorges project, you can be sure these Chinese companies are hungry for investments in other hydropower projects in Sarawak.

With such a large development scheme, international best practice calls for a “strategic environmental and social assessment.” Such an assessment looks at the overall impact that a large development scheme can have as was done for the proposed “Greater Mekong Sub-region” energy network by the Asian Development Bank. No such strategic economic, environmental and social assessment has been conducted for SCORE.

If the Bakun dam project is to be any guide, the Sarawak government’s energy demand forecasts appear to be based more on nothing more than wishful thinking rather than detailed feasibility studies. Malaysian taxpayers, be warned that all these mega projects will entail an onerous debt burden on the Sarawak and Malaysian public. You can be sure that there will be electricity tariff hikes after the 13th general elections.

There are many energy alternatives for Sarawak beyond large hydroelectric power projects such as small-scale hydropower, solar and other forms of renewable energy, energy efficiency measures, more efficiently run and managed power plants, among others. Above all, such environmentally friendly power projects respects the indigenous peoples’ lifestyles while efforts can put into helping them with better transport systems, marketing channels and other forms of development they may require.

Murum dam violates international standards

The Murum dam project is in violation of the international standards on indigenous rights as guaranteed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), of whichMalaysia is a signatory. The Murum dam is nearing completion but the resettlement report is still being withheld. As for the Bakun dam, all studies related to the projects have not been transparent. The affected Penan and Kenyah have stated that they have never been asked for consent as demanded by the UNDRIP. The project developer, Sarawak’s state-owned electricity generating company, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has not provided indigenous communities with an opportunity to grant or withhold their “free, prior and informed consent” for the project as required by UNDRIP. Even in cases where there was agreement, however, it was neither FREE from coercion; the resettlement plan was not made known to the indigenous peoples PRIOR to the start of the construction, and they were not INFORMED by access to information about the project’s impacts.

The social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for the Murum project is seriously flawed. International standards—including the Equator Principles and the IFC Performance Standards—universally require that the SEIA must be completed during the design phase, before the government approves the project and before construction begins. This was not the case with the Murum Dam Project. The SEIA process did not even begin until after construction on the project was already underway. The Sarawak government has not yet disclosed the Murum Dam Project’s SEIA to the public or to the affected communities.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Demands

Without transparent access to the crucial information at the centre of this project, the affected communities were placed in an unfair situation when the Sarawak government asked them to negotiate a resettlement package. The monthly allowance to be paid after resettlement falls below the poverty level and ends after four years. However, the state government turned down the other demands of the Penan, which included compensation of RM500,000 for each family for the loss of their customary land. Their other demands were 30,000 hectares of land for every village, 25 hectares for every farming family, education for their children, a community development fund and rights to their land that is not submerged by the dam waters. The indigenous communities affected by the Murum Dam project have already issued a memorandum describing how the government could still remedy the situation.

Support the Murum indigenous peoples now!

Sign the Murum Appeal at or at . You can support their blockade by donating to their cause at these two websites.

Samy Vellu luluskan projek kondo Batu Caves – Anwar

(Oleh Aisha Geoffrey)
KUALA LANGAT 31 Oktober: Bekas Presiden MIC, Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu individu yang bertanggungjawab meluluskan Kondominium Batu Caves sekaligus menepis kontroversi Umno BN mengatakan kononnya pembinaan projek itu diluluskan Kerajaan Selangor sekarang.

Mendedahkannya pada ceramah Merdeka Rakyat di sini malam tadi, Ketua Umum KEADILAN, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, pembinaan dua blok kondominium 29 tingkat berhampiran Kuil Sri Subramaniar Swamy itu mendapat kelulusan MIC dan Umno pada 2007.

Beliau menempelak pemimpin MIC kerana menipu rakyat India, malah meletak kesalahan ke atas Kerajaan Selangor.

Ia ekoran tindakan Samy berdemonstrasi bersama masyarakat India pada 26 Oktober lalu kononnya membantah pembinaan kondominium tersebut.

“Samy Vellu buat tunjuk perasaan, padahal dia yang luluskan projek pada 2007, ingat Tuhan dia tidak tahu? Sudahlah tipu rakyat, Tuhan pun dia nak tipu,” kata Ketua Pembangkang.

“Lepas itu mereka cabar Menteri Besar hentikan pembinaan, saya beritahu Khalid (Ibrahim), kita jangan ikut kata mereka dulu, kita siasat, cari siapa yang luluskan dan kita dakwa orang yang bertanggungjawab,” tegasnya disambut tepukan gemuruh lebih 5,000 penduduk Kuala Langat.

Sebelum ini, Exco Selangor, Dr Xavier Jayakumar menjelaskan, kelulusan pembinaan kondominium itu dikeluarkan oleh pihak majlis pada 31 Mei 2008 manakala ahli majlis baru di bawah Pakatan mengangkat sumpah pada 5 Julai 2008.

“MIC dah dapat duit hasil penjualan tanah kuil dan luluskan projek yang menyalahi peraturan alam sekitar dengan ketinggian 29 tingkat, sekarang nak lepaskan diri tuduh kita pula, nak suruh kita bayar. Kepada rakyat India, usahlah sokong lagi pemimpin penipu seperti ini,” kata Anwar.

Semalam di Parlimen, Khalid mengumumkan penubuhan pasukan petugas bebas untuk menyiasat isu berkaitan pembinaan kondominium tersebut.

“Kami mahu tunjukkan kepada rakyat bahawa kami telus membuat keputusan, jadi kami akan menubuhkan jawatankuasa bertindak khas yang akan diketuai seorang bekas hakim,” katanya.

Oil Trading: Dark Side of PETRONAS

By Koon Yew Yin
Last week, the international financial media carried the story that Canada intended to block the planned $5.3bn acquisition of Calgary-based Progress Energy Resources by Petronas. According to these reports, the country’s industry minister, Christian Paradis had issued a statement saying he had written to Petronas saying he was “not satisfied that the proposed investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada”.
Much of the subsequent analysis has focused on questions related to Canada’s policy on foreign takeovers and its investment policy especially with regard to foreign state-owned entities. This should be of little interest to us.
Of greater interest to Malaysians should be how the Petronas takeover of Progress will benefit our country. Is it in our best interests? What are the pros and cons of this very expensive takeover? Let us always remember that the company belongs to all Malaysians, and not simply to the government of the day or a group of company directors.
Petronas has done well. Since its incorporation, Petronas has grown to be an integrated international oil and gas company with business interests in many countries. The group is engaged in a wide spectrum of petroleum activities, including upstream exploration and production of oil and gas to downstream oil refining. Oil trading is one of the key activities of the group.

As everyone knows, Petronas provides a substantial source of income with 45% of the government’s budget dependent on Petronas’ dividend. Is this focus on one single indicator of success – providing funds to run government – perhaps the reason why we are blinded to possible darker aspects of the company’s overall track record?
Oil Trading: Facts and Figures Needed
Any trading business – which Petronas partially is – has to observe some key principles to be successful. These include
  1. Don’t try to predict the future
  2. Flexibility in forward contracts as no one knows when the market will move
  3. Having trading relationships that maximize your options
In recent years, questions have been raised as to whether our state owned oil business executes these or some other principles when it engages in trading. In addition, allegations have been made with regard to possible cronyism in some of its deals.
Perhaps the most serious allegation was the disclosure made by Jeffrey Kittingan in June 2008 that 80% of Petronas oil is not sold directly to the world market but is funneled through six option holders. Apparently these option holders or selling agents have obtained their supply from Petronas at well below market price for the next 20 to 30 years.

If this allegation proves to be correct then these profits would be much less than what could have been realized had the sales been conducted through open and more transparent forward sales.
When he initially made these allegations more than 4 years ago, Jeffrey Kittingan asked for a white paper or royal commission of enquiry to investigate this scandal. He also asked for a review of the Petronas agreements and to make Petronas open and transparent.
As far as I am aware, there has been no response from Petronas or the government on these concerns. If what amounts to a leakage from giving contracts without open tenders is taking place, then it is necessary that the issue be taken up during this coming election. What makes the trading strategy of Petronas inexplicable is that oil is a strategic and diminishing resource. Surely any oil trader is aware that the price trend in view of scarcity and lack of substitution can only be upwards, with the degree of price increase the only major risk. Also, it does not make business sense to tie up so much of forward sales with long term contracts since a mix of short, medium and long term contracts is clearly the superior strategy.
Malaysia’s Transparency Record in 2010 scored below average in a study on transparency of revenue management of extractive industries that covered 41 countries. The country obtained 48.4 points compared with the study average of 51.8 out of the maximum of 100 points in a joint study by Revenue Watch Institute and Transparency International.
Malaysia sits in the group of countries with “partial revenue transparency”, that is countries which provide citizens with information about extractive sectors, yet show important transparency gaps in one or more specific categories of (the Revenue Watch Index).
Malaysia in fact falls below the average 50.1 points obtained by other Asia Pacific countries.
Malaysia is behind Indonesia, which scored an average 50 points, and also is behind Papua New Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Kazakhstan and even Timor Leste.
According to the study which rates countries on accessibility of information on contracts, licensing and government payments, as well as institutional structure compelling transparency, Malaysia drew a poor mark for access to information on contracts and licensing procedures.
Petronas Needs to be Accountable to the Country
According to the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Petronas is only accountable to the prime minister of the day, not even to Parliament.  This is wrong.
In a recent speech Woo Wing Thye, a distinguished Professor of Economics who presently heads the Penang think tank, Penang Institute, pointed out the hazard that exists in the key role that Petronas plays in the country’s finances. According to Professor Woo, the world’s experience with state oil companies is that they would fail in the middle of a boom. Indonesia’s Pertamina failed in 1974 in the middle of the Opec boom and PetroMexico collapsed in the midst of the second Opec shock.
“These state oil companies were overextended and not very transparent”, Woo said. “They were basically the cash registers of their governments. It is a good thing to have more transparency because the balance sheet of Petronas links directly to the government budget. If Petronas is in trouble, the government budget is in trouble.”
We need to take these cautionary words seriously. The first step to reform is to open up the account books of the company especially related to oil trading and to investigate the allegations of Mr. Jeffrey Kittingan.
Petronas belongs to all Malaysians and the majority of them are Bumiputeras who are better educated than before. They can see all these misuse of power, corruption and mismanagement and I believe they will know how to vote in the coming general election.

Members Of Parliament Agree To Postpone AES

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 (Bernama) -- Several members of parliament (MP) have agreed, at the urging of some parties, especially Umno Youth, that the implementation of the Automatic Enforcement System (AES) be postponed.

In fact, they are of the view that a comprehensive study be carried out before the system is implemented.

Kangar MP, Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, said the AES was implemented without obtaining the views of the people and road safety experts.

"I agree with the government's efforts to reduce road accidents nationwide but the installation of AES should be located at appropriate places," he told Bernama at Parliament building here Wednesday.

Yesterday, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin called on the government to postpone implementation of AES as there were too many weaknessess in its implementation plan.

Kinabatangan MP, Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, said the purpose of AES was to discipline road users but many did not know of its implementation.

"All of a sudden, they received summonses. The people are therefore, unhappy," said the Barisan Nasional Backbencher Club deputy chairman.

Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali also welcomed the proposal to postpone AES and suggested a trial period for the system.

"I am proposing a six-month trial period as a process to educate the people and later, the Road Transport Department could put up a report on where the AES should be installed to effectively curb road accidents," he said.

Lenggong MP Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah however, said he supported the government's effort to reduce road accidents as the total number of accident cases in the country was among the highest in the world.

He said the system was needed as it was proven that road users liked to beat the red light and speed.

Kubang Kerian MP Salehuddin Ayub said AES should be postponed as it was not a solution to reduce road accidents but more of a burden to consumers.

"All parties should raise their voices on the issue to ensure AES meets its objectives to solve road accidents, and not make the motorist a victim of ineffective enforcement," he said.

Newest Opposition Party Keeping Options Open For Five Seats

SIBU, Oct 31 (Bernama) -- Sarawak's newest opposition party, Sarawak Workers Party (SWP), is still keeping its options open on its candidates for five seats it plans to contest.

Its president, Larry Sng Wei Shien, told reporters here today that it would want to get the best possible candidates.

SWP, which claims to be a Barisan Nasional (BN)-friendly party, is taking the fight to only Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), a Dayak-based state BN component party, in the coming election.

It plans to field its candidates in PRS seats like Sri Aman, Lubok Antu, Selangau, Kanowit and Hulu Rajang.

Sng has, so far, confirmed that Meluan state assemblyman and former senior vice-president of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) Wong anak Judat would take on three-term BN/PRS incumbent Datuk Joseph Salang anak Gandum for the Julau seat.

Salang is also information communication and culture deputy minister.