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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Uthaya wants 5 demands met before he meets PM

Human Rights Party leader P Uthayakumar wants Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to implement five of Hindraf’s 18 demands by Jan 1, 2013, before he accepts any invitation to meet with the BN leader.

hindraf uthayakumar klang invite 040412Uthayakumar (left) said Hindraf sent its 18 demands to the government on Aug 12, 2007, but unfortunately till today, none of them have been implemented.

He said he welcomed the BN government’s sincerity in wanting to meet Hindraf as the 13th general election looms, “but we have been waiting for action or implementation on our demands, which has not forthcoming, although five years and three months have passed”.

"Hindraf wants a permanent solution to the Indian problems and not a one-off temporary payment to resolve the community problems," Uthayakumar told Malaysiakini when contacted today.

Therefore, if the Najib government implemented five of its demands by Jan 1, 2013, only then would Uthayakumar talk to Najib.
The five demands are:
  • All 523 Tamil schools nationwide be made fully-aided government schools and land titles must to be issued to the schools by Jan 1, 2013. In addition, kindergartens are also to be set up in the schools, as most of the Indian children are illiterate as a result of their parents not being able to send them for early education.
  • There are 150,000 stateless Indian children who do not have their birth certificates, and an estimated 300,000 parents who do not have identity cards and birth certificates and therefore, stateless. Hindraf wants these groups to be issued their birth certificate and MyKad.
  • 10,000 places to be set aside for Indians in Giatmara (government-run youth centres), for the youth in the community to acquire skills.
  • 10,000 places to be set aside for Indians in Universiti Teknologi Mara.
  • 10,000 Indians to be granted land in various federal land schemes such as Felda, Felcra, and Risda to give them an opportunity to earn a living.
Uthayakumar said that if Najib, who also chairs the government's Indian affairs committee, fails to meet this pre-condition, then Hindraf will not accept the invitation to talk.
hindraf watermelon rally 250312Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz told the media that Najib was willing to meet with Hindraf to discuss the Indian community’s issues.

"We feel even if it's the most extreme group like Hindraf, we will meet them as it is an inclusive approach," Nazri said.

The move follows Hindraf leaders’ meeting with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim at Parliament House last week to discuss the possibility of an electoral pact.

In March this year, Hindraf rallied in front of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Putrajaya, complaining that Najib had ignored the group’s demands to rectify decades-old problems plaguing the Indian community.

Now PM wants to meet Hindraf

The prime minister has invited Indian community groups, including Hindraf, for a discussion with the government to find solutions to the community's long-standing problems.

"This is an open invitation on behalf of the government.We are inviting Hindraf as we know they are the most vocal and the PM, with the new approach, will listen to them.

NONE"We feel even if it's the most extreme group like Hindraf, we will meet them as it is an inclusive approach," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz told reporters today.

Nazri said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is prepared to meet with the leaders, including brothers P Waythamoorthy and P Uthayakumar, to discuss issues faced by Indians as the situation is "very critical" for the community.

The announcement comes after Hindraf leaders met with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to discuss the possibility of an electoral pact at Parliament House last week.
Nazri said the government was using other avenues, other than the MIC, to reach out to a “bigger group” of Indians.

The government's intention was to to ensure the Indian community “does not feel marginalised” and to show that the government “treats all Malaysians equally”.

Among others, he said, the government has extended the micro loan scheme to Indian entrepreneurs, implemented a special civil service recruitment drive for Indian youths and provided allocation for Tamil education. 

“In the past, we had affirmative action for the bumiputera. Now we are giving affirmative action to the Indian community, and will do more,” Nazri said.

He said having a discussion was more fruitful than to have the Indian community hold campouts, as several groups have done so in front of the Prime Minister's Office recently, to air grievances. 

Asked why the invitation was coming now, during the run-up to the general election, Nazri said Indian-specific development programmes have long been in place, including under the Economic Transformation Programme.

Better chance of conviction as no pre-meditation
He had earlier explained that the two students in Alor Gajah who beat to death Form Two student K Sararavan were charged with culpable homicide not because it is a lighter charge.

He also denied that this was because the victim was an Indian and the two accused are Malays.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment fight, and of course, most importantly, there was no pre-meditation, no intention (to kill). So that's why the prosecution decided to charge (as such).

“If (the prosecution) goes for murder, (the duo) may be acquitted, then the people will be very unhappy... So let's be sure and charge them with an offence that we are certain can hold water.”

The duo were not detained or remanded as the offence is a bailable offence, he said.

“There is no such thing, as alleged, about double standards in carrying out justice in this country,” Nazri added.

The cutting of Pakatan's Indian cord

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." - James Baldwin


COMMENT Post-2008 tsunami, which Hindraf (however much revisionists wish to claim otherwise) played a part in has been left out in the cold as far as mainstream politics is concerned. This cold spell seems to be abating.

Hindraf's audience with PAS' Nik Aziz Nik Mat and the recent Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim meet-up are interesting developments for the most credible Indians rights group often vilified as "racist" by the supposed multicultural alliance and their supporters.

hindraf waythamoorthy midlands 050812Only DAP has yet to hold "high level" talks with P Waythamoorthy (right) and Hindraf. No surprise there. DAP these days accuses Hindraf of exactly the same thing Umno accused them of being - a "racist" organisation hell bent on destabilising the status quo. Of course Umno still accuses them of that but DAP has PKR and PAS, which act as a multicultural shield, to withstand the worst of these attacks.
Hindraf under P Uthayakumar and the Human Rights Party's rhetoric concerning the DAP did not help matters either. I have said exactly this in my conversations with Uthayakumar.

Waythamoorthy's "different approach" has Pakatan kool-aid drinkers painting the relationship between the brothers as some sort of Remus and Romulus retelling but as always nobody wants to acknowledge that different approaches to communal problems have always been the reality here in Malaysia.

Not too long ago, the Chinese community clapped enthusiastically as the MCA and DAP did the good cop bad cop routine on the political stage. Meanwhile, Hindraf supporters come up to me claiming partisanship to a specific brother and sniping at each other when solidarity between the Human Rights Party and Hindraf should be the objective.

waytha sue libel 311209 uthayaIn the partisan alternative press, some kudos is thrown Waythamoorthy's way but most of it sounds like a pat on the head for the Indian community for finally jumping on the Pakatan bandwagon.
Uthayakumar (left) though has to suffer the further indignity of the accusations of being a BN turncoat, when he is currently facing sedition charges and battling a system predicated on exacting its pound of flesh for imagined slights.

Uthayakumar is mocked as stubborn, arrogant and unyielding but the truth is this is exactly what the disenfranchised of the Indian community needs after decades of Umno-BN.
I have argued that the Human Rights Party is the perfect pressure group - vocal and uncompromising - but Hindraf could act as the bridge that links the polemics of Human Rights Party and the reforms needed, that can only be achieved by working with groups of power.

The Indian underclass
This is not to say that Pakatan has been derelict in its obligations to the Indian community.
NONEPKR's N Surendran and Latheefa Koya (left) do sterling work for the Indian community but the reality is that only Hindraf and the Human Rights Party (in its role as a pressure group) is capable of galvanising the marginalised Indian community into forming a cohesive force so they would be a formidable participant in the political process.

Honestly, the pro-Pakatan Indraf (Indian Rights Action Force) was an embarrassment that painted the alternative alliance efforts in wooing the Indian vote as a shoddy afterthought and was a great disservice to the people who marched on that fateful day (for various reasons) under the Hindraf banner.

As I have written in various piece - much to the ire of Hindraf supporters - Hindraf itself is also to blame for not being cognisant of the change of terrain in the battlefield in the coming Umno-Anwar showdown for the future of this country.

Pakatan has the middle-class Indian vote more or less locked down. In fact, there is a tendency by middle-class Indian voters to dismiss Hindraf as "troublemakers" and bemoan the reality that Indians are "so divided".

The MIC that many have written off (including me) has been making inroads into the disenfranchised Indian communities and spreading the wretched poison that the BN has been manufacturing all these years. Pakatan by alienating the only credible movement gives MIC the ammunition it requires in an undeclared culture war that Pakatan seems ignorant of waged from within and without the Indian community.

The marginalisation of a certain segment of the Indian community lies squarely on the shoulders of MIC and the separation of the public and private sectors of this country that is divided along racial lines, which the other ethnic groups are jealously guarding their turf.
The inclusion of Indians in opposition parties that claim multiracialism is regarded by those disenfranchised from the political process as mere tokenism or at worse, collaboration.

Hindraf may have given voice to these concerns but MIC has been quietly reaping the benefits of the resultant fallout. Something is better than nothing, they claim, and the old game of BN is better than the so-called new one of Pakatan.

Championing of communal rights


The more Hindraf is marginalised and painted as a racist group by Pakatan, the more apathy sets in a certain section of the disenfranchised section of the Indian community. For the crypto-racists within Pakatan who have always been contemptuous of the Indian community, this is not a problem until they lose a seat and blame the loss on the Indian community.

The wonderful aspect of free speech on the Internet is that under the cover of anonymity the Indian community (like everyone else) can be bashed with impunity.
What I get from the rhetoric emanating from Pakatan and its kool-aid drinkers (a distinction should be made between them and the true believers) is that multiculturalism/multiracialism means the inclusion of cultural identities for everyone, except the Indians.

The championing of communal rights for the other two races in this country conveniently escapes the all-encompassing multicultural rights (sic) rhetoric whereas Hindraf's "demands" are supposedly anathema because they follow the racial formula of the BN.

An example of this dissonance can be observed in PKR's Tian Chua who said that Pakatan's support for Indian Malaysian issues are not contingent on Hindraf support.
Never mind the fact that the only time Indian issues get play is when Hindraf (and the Human Rights party) scream their heads off. Why wouldn't you want to reassure the only credible Indian rights group in this country that their support is needed?

After all, DAP is chasing the Chinese educationist groups, Chinese commerce groups and Chinese/Christian evangelical groups, just to name a few. Of course, the argument here is that said groups are merely fighting for their "rights" (sic) as enshrined in the constitution whereas Hindraf advocates a quota system.

NONEPKR may claim to be committed to Indian issues but you can bet your bottom ringgit that if Hindraf and the Indian community stood side by side, Tian Chua would not be so cavalier in dismissing this rights group when his allies and he go chasing after every "other" rights or pressure groups out there.

Moreover, Tian Chua, spare me "we are not there to exchange political favours" spiel. Only a complete moron would believe that Pakatan is immune from the reality of the political process where horse trading, political favours and all the other necessary evils of achieving and maintaining political power is practiced.

Compromises from both sides

This of course is a question of degrees and while we abhor the blatant and criminal way Umno has been doing this all these years, I would like to believe that most Pakatan supporters are not blind to the reality that Pakatan would have to do this to remain in power if it ever sits on the Putrajaya throne.

Never mind that the Malay-Muslim community is constantly reminded that a "need-based" affirmative action policy would see their "rights" secure and the DAP being Chinese dominated is an extremely influential voice in the alliance which means that Chinese "rights" would be taken care off.
This leaves the Indians in the position of having no choice but to buy into the whole multiracial/cultural idea in the hope that the rhetoric translates into action.

Hint. It is extremely difficult to make the argument that you are an alliance committed to the ideals of egalitarianism and/or multiculturalism when your rhetoric and strategies relies on claiming the racial roles created by Umno under the guise of an all-inclusive alliance.

NONEAt the end of the day, as a supporter of Pakatan I believe that Pakatan should acknowledge Hindraf and the Human Rights Party as the only game in town when it comes to the issue of Indian communal interest.

These two rights groups are the only sociopolitical entities which have a genuine commitment to the plight of the disenfranchised and if Pakatan is sincere in their commitment to the Indian community, they would harness the potential of these groups as a means of drawing the disenfranchised section of the Indian community into the mainstream.

At the same time, Hindraf and the Human Rights Party have to drop their extremely polemical discourse and their own role in exacerbating the culture conflict within the Indian community and realise that just as Pakatan has to make compromises, so would they.

As long as the compromises they make serve some utilitarian value that favours the Indian community even at the expense of the principal, well that is the hard cold reality of politics especially racial politics anywhere in the world.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Four to defy ROS summons in Suaram probe

Belgian beauties distract faithful at Morocco mosque

The beauty queens are in Morocco for photo shoots (AFP)

RABAT — The finalists in the Miss Belgium 2013 beauty contest have ruffled feathers in Morocco after posing, casually clad, outside the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

In one photograph, taken on Monday and published widely on the Internet, 10 of the 20 smiling young women pose in front of the enormous mosque, wearing hot pink vests and miniskirts.

The initiative did not go down well with Attajdid, the paper of the Party of Justice and Development, the ruling Islamist group elected in November.

"This behaviour could provoke discord and instability. It's an attack on a place of worship," the paper grumbled in a Wednesday editorial.

"Who authorised these young women to pose right in front of the mosque?" it demanded, quoting a lawyer, who added that the interior ministry should open a inquiry.

The picture also prompted furious outbursts on Moroccan news websites.

"I'm outraged by these photos, which touch our identity and our religion," wrote one commentator on hesspress.com, one of the most popular such sites.

But As-Sabah, another Moroccan daily, made light of the subject, running an article entitled "Ladies in Wonderland."

"It's a storm in a teacup. Allah loves beauty and there is nothing wrong with these young beauties posing in front of the Great Mosque."

Darline Devos, the president of the national Miss Belgium committee, apologised for any upset caused by the aspiring beauty queens, who are in Morocco for photo shoots.

"We should adapt to Moroccan traditions," she said, when contacted by AFP.

Live Export Abuse: Sheep found alive in Pakistan after being buried alive

 
New expose shows sheep survived attempts to be buried alive in Pakistan.

NEW DELHI and SYDNEY: A sheep in Pakistan, buried alive in a culling of some 20,000 sheep in the country, was found still breathing after the incident that shocked Australia and much of the world.

In the latest images of cruelty and animal abuse as a direct result of live export, Four Corners revealed that the sheep had survived the Pakistani government’s attempts to bury the animals alive.

“His fleece matted with blood and dirt — a reminder of the brutal mass slaughter he had lived through the night before,” Animals Australia said in a press release on the horror.

“Perhaps more than any other live export disaster (and there have been many), the horrific sight of frightened animals being chased, beaten, stabbed, and then thrown mercilessly into trenches (many while still alive), shatters any belief that Australia can maintain control over the fate of live animals once exported from our shores,” added Animals Australia in a statement to its supporters.

The video expose is another shocking reminder of the horrific conditions animals are placed in as part of the live export industry, of which Australia is a leader.

The report also comes after Australians took to the streets across the country this fall to protest the live export trade urging the government to end sending animals across the globe.

It was a concerted action after much controversy has erupted over the live export trade, mainly to Islamic countries.

Spearheaded by Animals Australia, the protests were held in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Hobart.

“If you care about animals and want to see them protected from cruelty, then please join us this Saturday as we rally side-by-side, right across the country, for an end to live export,” said Animals Australia in a press release announcing the protest to its followers.

It also comes on the heels of a report that live export sheep were clubbed to death and buried alive in Pakistan last month in what activists say was a “shocking incident.”

“These are the latest tragic results of a live export industry that sends animals to be killed in countries where there are no laws to protect them from cruelty,” said Animals Australia in a press statement.

“No politician can defend a trade that comes with the risk of animals being clubbed, stabbed, or buried alive. Enough is enough. Today, don’t let your MP off the hook,” the animal rights group added.

In revealing the terrible tragedy, Animals Australia urged Australian citizens to call on their representatives to push for an end to the live export trade.

Pakistani officials confirmed to Bikymasr.com on that they would go forward with the killing of more than 21,000 sheep despite Australian government assurances that the animals were safe to be slaughtered for food.

Australian diplomats have repeatedly urged Pakistan to stop the killings, saying the animals are not infected with disease.

Pakistan ordered the cull after the ship carrying the sheep had been turned away by the Bahraini government and tested positive for salmonella and actinomyces.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Peter Heyward said he was “surprised and concerned” about the killings, as he argued the animals met the south Asian country’s health requirements for imported sheep and they posed “no human or animal health risks.”

Salmonella and actinomyces, he argued, “are part of normal gut flora and are present in livestock throughout the world, and in this form pose no threat to human health.”

In Pakistan, Karachi’s top administrator Roshan Shaikh told reporters that the sheep killings would continue.

“There is no suspension in the process, as the bacterial presence in the animal is confirmed and we can’t put human life in danger in Pakistan,” he said.

It comes after Egyptian officials refused to allow a shipment of young cows into the country last month from Brazil after officials in Cairo said the animals were infected with unknown hormones.

Over 32,000 cows were slaughtered as a result after being forced to remain at port for weeks, causing mass deaths on board the ships.

The stranded cows had made international headlines after Bikyamasr.com first reported their situation on September 1, including a Care2.com petition that was signed by over 25,000 people globally urging the Egyptian government to free the baby cows from their horrific conditions.

Background on Live Export

Live export from Brazil and Australia to the Islamic world is a controversial practice that sees thousands of animals crammed into small crates and transported by sea to their destination to be slaughtered for food.

According to the ministry, tests had been conducted to learn more about the potential carcinogen that had been given to the animals before they would be unloaded. Tests had reportedly been ongoing for the past month at a private lab in Egypt, but no results had been conclusive.

According to a al-Shorouk newspaper report, the animals remained in their confinement for a number of weeks more in order for further tests to take place.

Earlier this year, some 3,000 of the cows died on a ship destined for Egypt after the Egyptian government refused to allow the ship to dock at a Red Sea port.

They were slaughtered as a “precaution,” the ministry said, outraging a number of Egyptians.

Animals Australia, the leading organization reporting on the controversial live export trade to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, said the incident was among the worst the industry had witnessed in years.

Animals Australia’s Campaign Director, Lyn White, said in a statement to Bikyamasr.com that the ship was anchored at sea after being refused port in a number of countries, including Egypt, where the cattle were supposed to be offloaded.

It’s understood that ventilation problems on the converted livestock vessel, the MV Gracia Del Mar, had caused the deaths of more than half of the animals on board since the ship left South America for Egypt a few weeks ago. The ship was anchored in the Red Sea for weeks and saw more animals perish as a result.

“This is nothing short of an animal welfare disaster. If remaining cattle are not offloaded more of these animals will suffer appalling deaths at sea. We are appealing to authorities in Egypt to offload the remaining cattle at al-Sohkna, as was originally intended.

“This disaster is just another example of the inherent risks of transporting animals by sea. It was only nine years ago that 5,000 Australian sheep perished on board the MV Cormo Express after country after country refused to allow it to berth.

“And this isn’t the first time that mechanical issues have caused mass deaths on live export ships. We only need to look to the breakdown of the Al Messilah in Adelaide last year. Had that vessel broken down on the open ocean it would have caused a similar welfare catastrophe — as thousands of animals would have died.

“Australia also exports cattle to Al Sohkna Livestock company in Egypt. Whilst we have an MoU with Egypt which should ensure the offloading of our animals, it has never been put to the test. The Egyptians thus far have flatly refused to allow the MV Gracia Del Mar to dock despite the mass suffering of the animals on board.

“If they continue to refuse to allow the surviving animals to be unloaded it would provide little confidence that the non-binding agreement with Australia would be honoured if a similar incident were to occur on an Australian livestock ship.

“It should not matter if these cattle aren’t Australian and if Brazil doesn’t have a similar piece of paper, they should not be abandoned to suffer and die at sea. We are appealing to Egyptian authorities to offload these cattle as a matter of urgency.”

Australia’s live sheep exports have fallen significantly over the past decade.

In 2010, three million sheep were exported compared with 6.3 million in 2001.

Australia’s government last year was to see a bill that would have banned live export to the world, but industry lobbyists fought back and forced the legislation off the table in a move that angered animal activists in the country and across the world, notably the Islamic world, which receives the lion’s share of live cattle and sheep from both Australia and Brazil.

Defendant in murder-for-hire plot representing himself in trial


RALEIGH -- U.S. District Judge Earl Britt waited 15 minutes before interrupting the defendant accused of orchestrating a bizarre murder-for-hire plot against witnesses from his terror case.

Hysen Sherifi, 28, had been alternating between Arabic and English in the courtroom as he prayed, read from the Quran and voiced his religious view that “all judgment belongs only to Allah.”

Sherifi went on trial Monday in the Federal Building on accusations that he conspired with his brother and a Wake County special education teacher to have three government informants killed and beheaded. The informants had testified against Sherifi in an earlier trial in which he was convicted of conspiring to commit terror at home and abroad.

The bearded native Kosovan is representing himself, wearing the red prison-issued jumpsuit that gives the jury a visual reminder of the 45-year sentence he is serving for the prior conviction.

Britt looked down from the bench at Sherifi after the last of the seven-woman, five-man jury left the courtroom for the evening.

“I’ve tried to be tolerant with you to allow you to express whatever it is that you were trying to express – obviously about your religion,” Britt said. “Any further comments you make to the jury must be related to the facts of the case.”

“Does the Earth belong to you?” Sherifi retorted, adding that he was trying to warn the judge that he had “transgressed against the laws of Allah.”

“I’m willing to take my chances,” Britt responded.

Thus was the unusual beginning to one of the more peculiar cases to emerge from the Eastern District of North Carolina’s federal court docket in recent months. It is the latest in a series of government prosecutions stemming from the 2009 arrests of Daniel Patrick Boyd, a Johnston County drywaller, two of his sons and four other men who were accused of being a homegrown terror cell.

The murder-for-hire case could have brother testifying against brother, and a once well-regarded special education teacher offering her version of her involvement.

Matthew F. Blue, a trial attorney from the counterterrorism section of the U.S. Justice Department, offered jurors a quick outline of the prosecution’s case in an opening statement that preceded Sherifi’s unusual presentation.

Terrorism convictions

The roots of the case lie in a trial that ended in October 2011 with Sherifi convicted of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists; conspiring to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country; two counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; and conspiring to kill a federal officer or employee.

It was not long after that, prosecutors contend, that Sherifi began to plot revenge against some of the witnesses who had helped put him behind bars. Sherifi is one of the seven Triangle men who had been accused in the 2009 terror case. Prosecutors contend he wanted to have three confidential informants in that case killed to help his friend and perhaps himself on any appeals and possible retrials.

Blue said Sherifi wrote the names on a piece of paper and “put them on a hit list.”

“The problem is, he’s in jail,” Blue told jurors as he continued to weave together prosecutors’ contentions.

In that same New Hanover County jail, prosecutors contend, was an inmate named David Crummy, who was known widely as a prisoner with gang connections.

Crummy, who also was known to law enforcement officers as an informant, met with Sherifi, according to Blue, and a scheme began to emerge.

Crummy knew of a hit man named “Treetop,” but he would need money before carrying out any plans, according to prosecutors.

Sherifi then turned to his brother, Shkumbin Sherifi, who is six years younger and pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to help carry out a murder for hire. The two talked through jailhouse phones as a surveillance camera monitored their discussions.

In vague terms, prosecutors contend, the older brother told the younger one that he “had something he could do” that would help Anes Subasic, who was awaiting trial on the terror-related charges, and perhaps all of those who had already been sentenced.

When the younger brother asked what that might be, the older Sherifi put his thumb to his throat, prosecutors contend, and slid it across as if to suggest that it would be slit.

Shkumbin Sherifi, though, did not have a lot of money, and the older Sherifi had been told one hit by Treetop would cost at least $5,000.

Special education teacher’s role

Nevine Elshiekh, 47, a special education teacher at a Triangle Montessori school who also pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to help with the murder-for-hire plot, had become interested in the Triangle terror case through the Muslim community. She had attended the trial in New Bern and had been writing to Hysen Sherifi to offer support and encouragement.

Their letter-writing, prosecutors contend, grew to include discussions about religion and eventually love.

Elshiekh, almost twice as old as Hysen Sherifi, was then pulled into the murder-for-hire plot, prosecutors contend, because she had access to more money.

By this time, federal investigators were keeping close watch on the three, monitoring their phone calls, letters and actions.

Hysen Sherifi, Blue said, insisted that a middle man, or woman in this case, be brought into the mix to provide a buffer between any killer and his confidants.

Elshiekh and Shkumbin Sherifi each agreed to offer their testimony as part of plea arrangement in which prosecutors agreed to dismiss many of the charges against them.

Desiree Tate, or “Ms. D,” as they called the woman working with federal investigators, was involved with some of the exchanges in which there were discussions about intended targets and exchanges of money.

Elshiekh, according to prosecutors, ferried a note saying “hit confirmed” to the Sherifis, and she helped come up with money by selling jewelry to pawn shops.

Depicting a beheading

By late January, according to prosecutors, investigators had doctored photos to make it look as if one of the terror case witnesses had been killed and beheaded, and passed them along to the imprisoned Sherifi.

Sherifi and Crummy met in the New Hanover County jail. Crummy told investigators that Sherifi raised the following complaint: “I wish you wouldn’t have wasted a bullet to have him killed,” Blue said Sherifi told Crummy. “I wish you would have chopped his head off first.”

The murder-for-hire case, as the terror case, highlights the FBI’s use of informants to build a slew of terror cases to emerge across the country since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Prosecutors plan to introduce tapes of phone calls and prison visits as they present evidence in a trial expected to last through the week.

It is unclear whether Hysen Sherifi will present any evidence.

© 2012 Winston-Salem Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Royal Facebook slur: Johor police denies forcing confession

 KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 —Johor CID deputy director Asst Comm Nor Azizan Anan denied today that Ahmad Abd Jalil, the youth under probe for criticising the state Ruler, had been forced to confess to the crime while under police interrogation.

"I don't think so," ACP Azizan told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today.

"We are not the 'old school' police anymore. We do not force confessions."

ACP Azizan also insisted that Ahmad is in safe hands and will not be ill-treated by the police, despite earlier concerns expressed by the youth's family that he may be hauled to the palace.

"Of course he is in safe hands. I've already promised the family that he is being looked after," he said.

He confirmed that Ahmad was remanded a further three days from yesterday until tomorrow under Section 233 (1)(b) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for his Facebook insult against the Johor Sultan.

Section 233 deals with an "improper use of network facilities or network service, etc".

Section 233(1)(b) stipulates that "a person who initiates a communication using any applications service, whether continuously, repeatedly or otherwise, during which communication may or may not ensue, with or without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at any number or electronic address, commits an offence".

The offence carries a maximum fine of RM50,000, or maximum one-year jail term, or both.

The convicted offender shall also be liable to a further fine RM1,000 for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction.


ACP Azizan was today responding to a report on news portal Malaysiakini this morning which quoted lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri as claiming that Ahmad had told his parents yesterday that he was forced to make the confession.

“Ahmad told his parents that he was constantly interrogated and forced to confess that he had insulted the sultan, but had refused to comply.

“Yet, until today, Ahmad has not been told how or in which posting he had offended the Johor ruler," Fadiah was quoted as saying.

When asked to specify which Facebook posting by Ahmad was deemed offensive and how many he had made, ACP Azizan said the matter was still under investigation.

Ahmad was detained last Friday for a sedition probe over his alleged Facebook insult against the Johor Sultan and kept under remand for three days until Monday.

According to Ahmad’s lawyer on Saturday, the police had informed the youth that he was being investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 for the offence.

But when his remand expired on Monday and a Johor magistrate declined a police application for an extension, the 27-year-old quantity surveyor was rearrested under a different law, despite protests from his family members.

ACP Azizan said, however, that the police had every right to make the second arrest, pointing out that they had not begun their probe against Ahmad under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 at the time.

"We can arrest at any time and that day when he was released (Monday), it was because we were not granted remand on the Sedition Act but under the Communications and Multimedia Act, we had not yet started investigations," he said.

ACP Azizan also confirmed that news portals The Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini are under probe for their coverage of Ahmad's arrest.

According to a Berita Harian report yesterday, the probe was following two police reports lodged by state police on articles carried by the two news portals regarding the arrest.

"On the arrest, The Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini published articles on the investigation and arrests last Saturday and Sunday.

"Following the publication, the Johor police lodged two reports on the articles and an investigation is being carried out under Section 500 of the Penal Code," ACP Azizan was quoted as saying in the Malay daily.

He told The Malaysian Insider today that this writer, as well as Ahmad's family members, would be called in for questioning soon.

Section 500 of the Penal Code, which outlines the penalty for defamation, stipulates that "whoever defames another shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both."

In an SMS to The Malaysian Insider last night, a sibling of Ahmad's acknowledged the police's plans to haul in the family for questioning.

"But it's OK, we got a very good lawyer now. Our family decided that this is an effort to free up our Johor police force from the 'bad influence'.

"Some casualty maybe (reputation, job, business etc.), but we do for the betterment of our nation (all races work together towards justice and rule of law for all including the rulers)," the sibling said.

Come and talk, unhappy Indians told

The government says that if Indians have problems, they are more than welcome to bring them to the prime minister.
FULL REPORT

KUALA LUMPUR: Indians who are not happy with the government will soon be able to bring their grouses to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz confirmed this to reporters in his Parliament office, saying that all groups, including those belonging to the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) movement, were welcome.

“I assure you, the prime minister is prepared to sit down with Hindraf [leaders]… including Waythamoorthy, Uthayakumar… and other groups to discuss their greviances… The government will arrange, invite and sit down over all these issues.

“All [are invited]. No one is barred,” he said.

He anticipated this meeting to take place as soon as possible, and that it was an “open invitation” on behalf of the government.

At the same time, he said that the move would not be done through the MIC, adding that Putrajaya wanted to meet with the “bigger group” of Indians that the political party was not affiliated with.

Adding that it was an initiative by Najib himself, Nazri said that even if the Indian community were not angry with the BN government, parts of it still felt that they were marginalised.

“We cannot just continue if we don’t sit down with them, or do what we think they want, like what we’ve been doing… like giving Tamil school allocations, civil service compositions.

“We are doing this, addressing the problem, but we think there is still more we have to do and we can’t know unless we meet them,” he said.

He denied that this move came about because of the upcoming general election, saying that much had been done under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) for the Indian community.

Details on how and where the meeting would proceed, would be revealed in due time.

The announcement also came days after Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy met with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim at his Parliament office in a closed-door meeting.

Meanwhile, Nazri said that there was a perception that the culpable homicide conviction of K Saravanan’s teenage killers – who were both Malays – was a racially-based one.
He said that some groups who attended prayers over Saravanan, 14, claimed that prosecuters did not charge them with murder because the boys were Malays; a claim he found was “irresponsible”.

Nazri said that the culpable homicide charge was because there was no malice found in the killing, and that it was a fight occurring between juveniles.

Recognise us first, says Hindraf

In an immediate reaction, Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy told FMT that if the government was truly interested in resolving the long standing Indian socio-economic issues, it must first acknowledge that it was dealing with a bona fide human rights defender organisation.

“It is necessary that the government first repeal the ban on Hindraf,” he said.

He added that Hindraf wanted the government to offer permanent, comprehensive and practical solutions that will make tangible and immediate impact to the problems of the Indian poor.

“The PM must be ready to make significant commitments to addressing the problems along these lines for these talks to be meaningful.

“We as the lead organisation for the Indian marginalised in the country seek to find real solutions for problems of the people that we speak up for. If there is sincerity, we will explore,” he said.

Dr M: I told Petronas to enrich my son

The former premier mocks a reporter who asked an embarrassing question.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today mocked a Malaysiakini reporter for questioning him on lucrative multimillion ringgit petroleum contracts involving Petronas and SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd, of which his son Mokhzani is vice-president.

The visibly annoyed former prime minister, who is adviser to the national oil company, said he had used his influence with Petronas to ensure that SapuraKencana win the business.

“Yes, of course, he is given it because I instructed Petronas,” he told the reporter. “You can put that in your paper.

“I presided over everything. I told them, ‘Please give to my son and not to anybody else.’”

The reporter’s question came during a press conference that followed the presentation of a patron award to Mahathir from the Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP).

The reporter raised the question in defiance of a plea by the event organisers that the media confine the session to town planning and other issues related to the function.

The reporter asked if Mahathir thought there was a conflict of interest in the award of two contracts, worth RM836 million in total.

Mahathir replied: “That is what I’ve been doing all the time. Even the time when I was prime minister, everything goes to my children.

“But when everything goes to the children of other PMs, you don’t want to mention because he is a nice man.”

Mahathir left shortly afterwards, cutting the press conference short.

An event official later told FMT the reporter should have “been more respectful”.

“We wanted the press conference to be confined to the event,” he said. “It’s okay that he wanted to ask the question, but he could have framed it in a more tactful way.”

Reuters reported last week that Allied Marine & Equipment Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned unit of SapuraKencana, was awarded a RM700 million underwater services contract for three and a half years by Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd.

Another wholly-owned unit, Kencana HL Sdn Bhd, was awarded a RM135.8 million engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contract from HESS Exploration and Production Malaysia BV for an integrated gas project in the Kamelia Field in the North Malay Basin.

The contracts were announced in two stock exchange filings last Thursday.

MIC: Withdraw ‘Do the Dappan’ ad

MIC secretary-general S Murugesan says the dance routine in the video does not reflect the Indian culture.

PETALING JAYA: The MIC has called upon Petronas to remove its Deepavali advertisement for this year, which is posted on YouTube, saying it did not reflect the Indian culture.

MIC secretary-general S Murugesan said that the advertisement may send the wrong message to Indians youths in the country, especially the Hindus.

“I have watched the video. I think Petronas should with withdraw the advertisement and replace it with something else,” he said.

The advertisement, which runs for over three minutes, shows youth named Raj doing the Dappan Kuthu dance and getting unlikely people to join his dance routine.

Petronas defines the Dappan Kuthu dance as an energetic dance routine which is prominent in Tamil cinema.

However, the video drew ire from Internet users, who claimed that the advertisement is far from reflecting the spirit of Deepavali.

The video, which drew nearly 100,000 visitors as of today, had 1,442 “dislikes” as opposed to 325 “likes”.

The advertisement is scheduled to be aired nationwide this weekend.

When asked if MIC would approach Petronas on the matter, Murugesan said that he would use internal channels to resolve the issue.

He also said that Petronas had a sound track record in coming up with meaningful Deepavali advertisements and thus, people had higher expectation this year.

“I don’t think Petronas will go ahead with the advertisement as the public have spoken,” said Murugesan.

On related matter, Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAman) had threatened to launch a nationwide protest if Petronas refused to remove the advertisement.

The NGOs secretary-general, S Bharathidasan said that the video was an insult to Malaysian Hindus as it did not have any message related to Deepavali.

“Dancing on the street is not Malaysian Indian culture. The dance routine is an imitation from Tamil movies. Stereotyping Indians like this is bad and should be stopped,” he said.

ROS is reckless, says Suaram

‘It has no business harassing non-members of the organisation.”

KUALA LUMPUR: Suaram today denounced the Registrar of Societies (ROS) for harassing non-Suaram members in its probe into the affairs of the civil rights organisation.

Suaram executive director E Nalini told a press conference that her organisation was giving its full cooperation in the investigation and there was no reason for ROS to summon those individuals for interrogation. She said ROS was being “reckless”.

“ROS should first reply to our letter dated Oct 29, asking them under what jurisdiction they are investigating us when we are registered under the Companies Act 1965,” she said. “They have yet to respond.”

In recent days, ROS has issued notices under Section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code to eight prominent activists who are not affiliated to Suaram.

The eight are Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee, Parti Sosialis Malaysia secretary-general S Arutchelvan, Empower executive director Maria Chin Abdullah, PKR vice-president Tian Chua, DAP publicity chief Tony Pua, Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong and lawyers Syahredzan Johan and Roger Chan.

ROS is investigating Suaram on issues related to its funding. This followed an accusation by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the organisation’s activities were “highly suspicious”.

Lawyer Edmund Bon, whose clients are Maria, Tian and Arutchelvan, said he would be sending a legal notice to ROS this week.

He said enforcement agencies could not send notices under Section 111 unless they had proof that the recipients were affiliated to the entity being probed.

“My clients are not affiliated to Suaram in anyway,” Bon said. “If they don’t respond to our notice, we will consider taking legal action.”

He accused ROS of going on a “fishing expedition” and attempting to find fault with Suaram in any way it could.

“It seems like the Attorney-General’s Chambers has sent back the investigation papers to the authorities for further action despite having no case against Suaram,” he said.

His clients would not respond to the ROS notice, he added.

FMT learned that Syahredzan and Lim too would not present themselves for interrogation.

Maria said ROS’ harassment of individuals showing support for Suaram was against the principle of freedom of association.

“It looks like even if you sit beside Nalini, you will be called for questioning,” she said. “This is the message they are sending.”

Nurul Izzah dikecam dalam Dewan Rakyat

Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim berkata kenyataan Nurul Izzah itu boleh didakwa di bawah enakmen kawalan agama kerana menghina Islam.

KUALA LUMPUR: Sidang Dewan Rakyat hari ini kecoh ketika membahaskan isu hak kebebasan memilih agama termasuk di kalangan Melayu yang dibuat ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim berkata kenyataan Nurul Izzah itu boleh didakwa di bawah enakmen kawalan agama kerana menghina Islam.

Namun menegaskan tiada peruntukan atau enakmen khusus yang boleh digunakan jika didapati cuba mengajak orang Islam lain untuk murtad.

“Kalau seorang bukan Islam mengajak orang Islam untuk keluar Islam, maka kita ada dalam enakmen kawalan agama.

“Tapi yang wujud kali ini orang Islam yang mengajak dan membuka ruang untuk orang Islam sendiri memilih agama setelah ibu bapanya mendidik dan ibu bapa mewariskan agama tersebut.

“Setakat ini tiada peruntukan khusus sebegitu tapi boleh dimasukkan di bawah peruntukan menghina agama Islam atau menyebabkan Islam dipandang hina,” katanya ketika menjawab soalan Datuk Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) mengenai tindakan wajar diambil terhadap Nurul Izzah.

Katanya, berdasarkan enakmen kawalan agama, mana-mana orang secara lisan atau bertulis mempersendakan atau menyebabkan Islam dipandang hina boleh dikenakan hukuman tidak lebih RM3,000 atau penjara tidak lebih dua tahun atau kedua-duanya sekali.

Jawapan Mashitah itu kemudiannya disanggah Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS-Kuala Selangor) yang menggesa supaya Mashitah segera menarik balik kerana gagal kenyataan Nurul Izzah sepenuhnya.

`Kamu angkuh’

“Saya minta timbalan menteri sebelum buat apa-apa pertuduhan, atas perkara dakwaan yang dilemparkan kepada Lembah Pantai, apakah timbalan menteri tahu kenyataan sebenar yang disebutkan Lembah Pantai?”

“Lembah Pantai kata ada salah laporan … tapi Sri Gading tak faham,” tegasnya.

Kenyataan Dzulkefly itu kemudiannya mendapat respon daripada ahli Parlimen BN yang mempertahankan Mashitah.

“Kamu angkuh!”, Datuk Idris Haron (BN-Tangga Batu) kepada Dzulkefly.

“Timbalan menteri tidak membuat tuduhan!” sahut Mohamad Aziz.

Mashitah turut mempertahankan kenyataannya itu tidak menuding jari kepada mana-mana pihak, sebaliknya hanya menjawab pertanyaan Mohamed.

Sementara itu, Sultan Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah dilaporkan semalam terkejut dan kecewa dengan kenyataan Nurul Izzah.

Sultan Sharafuddin, menurut Pengerusi Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (Mais) Datuk Setia Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa turut menyanggah pandangan orang Melayu beragama Islam mempunyai kebebasan memilih agama lain dan keluar Islam.

Don’t lie, BN leaders told

Focus on improving the nation instead, says PKR.

PETALING JAYA: A grassroots PKR leader today slammed Barisan Nasional component parties for saying that the country will go bankrupt if Pakatan Rakyat came to power.

G Rajendran, the Malacca PKR vice-chairman, said as the ruling government, BN leaders should concentrate on improving and developing the nation instead of hurling baseless allegations at Pakatan at their ceramah.

In a press statement, the PKR man alleged that BN component parties were “threatening” the public with distorted facts and figures, claiming that the country will go bankrupt if Pakatan’s pre-election pledges were kept.

“They [BN leaders] have all the right to criticise Pakatan’s manifesto and election promises. But, they must ensure that the facts and figures are correct before coming out with such an allegation.”

“For example, PAS had led Kelantan for the past 20 years without assistance of the federal government. Kelantan is still better than Sabah, which is ruled by the BN. Sabah is the poorest state in the country,” he added.

He said if anyone were to look at the performance of Pakatan-led states, they would find that these states were doing much better than BN-held states in terms of economy.

“So, stop confusing the people with baseless claims,” Rajendran said.

He claimed that BN was making desparate attempts to foil Pakatan’s aim of taking over the federal government in the next general election.

“Remaining in power is BN’s top priority. It is a matter of dignity for them. So they would go to great lengths to cling on to power,” he said.

He also said ruling the country is not the sole right of the BN.

“Remember, BN did not spend money from its own pockets to construct Putrajaya. It was built on taxpayers’ money. Every Malaysian citizen has a right on Putrajaya,” he added.

Rajendran said the escalating national debt had made the people’s lives more difficult and while the rakyat are advised to be thrifty, the government spends billions of ringgit on unnecessary projects to enrich themselves and their cronies.

“Now the question is, who is going to bankrupt the country?”

Kohilan, three MIC reps gave nod to Batu Caves project

PETALING JAYA (Nov 6, 2012): It’s official - all 19 members who attended the full board meeting of the Selayang Municipal Council voted in favour of approving the Dolomite Avenue Park project in Batu Caves in 2007.
Despite earlier denials and assertions by some councillors that they were neither party nor privy to the approval process, minutes of the meeting held on Nov 29, 2007 - obtained by theSun - show otherwise.
Deputy foreign affairs minister Datuk A. Kohilan Pillai, who was a councillor between 1997 and 2008, had voted in favour of the project.
So did the three councillors from the MIC – Rajakupal Sinnathamby, Jayakumaran Govindasamy and Rajandran Muniandy.
Both Gerakan, of which Kohilan is a member, and the MIC, have recently accused the current Pakatan-led Selangor government of approving the project.
On Oct 26, former MIC president and works minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, spearheaded a demonstration at the Sri Subramaniar Temple at Batu Caves - which is beside the project site - calling for a stop to the project.
Kohilan, who had joined the scores of protesters, has since vehemently denied his involvement in the project's approval, claiming that only a “planning permit” was issued during his tenure. Such a permit is also referred to as a “development order” which allows immediate development.
Kohilan has reportedly claimed that the application from Dolomite was basic and did not indicate details.
But documents show that the application was submitted with detailed layout and building plans.
The minutes also show that approval was given for dual-development - 18 units of three-story shop-lots and two tower blocks – one of 25-storeys and another of 29.
In a twist of irony showing that local councils can work efficiently if they want to, council president Datuk Zainal Abidin Azim issued the go-ahead on Nov 30 – just 24 hours after the full board endorsed the approval.
The minutes also showed that approval was “subject to conditions” and these included those recommended by the Geosciences and Minerals Department which has since briefed the state government on non-compliance.
It is learnt that the department indicated that the developer had failed to comply with some of the conditions set, especially the construction of the Geobrugg that should have been done before the work on the shop lots had begun.
Yesterday, theSun reported that the council had also defied objections from the Selangor Department of Environment (DOE) which had expressed its reservations on development which is in close proximity to the limestone hills.
 
Selayang Council defied the DOE
6 November 2012 The Sun
Karen Arukesamy and Michelle Chun
newsdesk@thesundaily.com
PETALING JAYA (Nov 6, 2012): The Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) defied objections from the Selangor Department of Environment (DOE) in giving the go-ahead for the controversial development of the Dolomite Park Avenue project in Batu Caves in 2007.
Even before the land was cleared for development, the council had been alerted to the geological and natural sensitivity of the nearby limestone hills and surrounding areas.
Yet, the council chose to ignore such views which are critical when approving development projects.
A copy of the DOE letter to the council dated Jan 24, 2007 has been made available to theSun.
In the letter, which was copied to the developer, the DOE identified the problems and justified its stand on the project.
The key phrase in that letter read: "Jabatan ini tidak menyokong pembangunan di atas memandangkan ianya berpotensi menimbulkan tanah runtuh dan sebagainya." (This department does not support this development as it has the potential to create landslides and other problems.)
However, the DOE said that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not necessary as the development covers about 3ha – far below the minimum area of 50ha required by the law.
The council had consulted nine related agencies to provide their input on the proposed development. Even the Geosciences and Minerals Department (JMG) had its reservations and asked that five conditions be fulfilled (see box).
Despite such strong objections, the council gave the go-ahead and approved the construction of 18 units of three-storey shop lots and two tower blocks – one of 25-storeys and another of 29.
The construction of the shop lots has since been completed, some of which have been sold and occupied.
According to planning experts, the mere construction without the developer having met the conditions, especially in the wake of the "non-support" from the DOE, should have dissuaded the council from issuing any development order.
The developer, Dolomite Industries Company Sdn Bhd, submitted its plans to the council in June 2006.
In an unprecedented move, within four weeks, the council sought the views of nine government agencies – unusual for councils which usually take months to get files moving.
The Selangor Town Planning Department in a letter dated Aug 25 stated it had no objection as the development "had potential to be incorporated in the overall development of the neighbourhood" (see chronology).
Having received feedback from the agencies, including the reservations from both the DOE and JMG, the One-Stop Centre (OSC) committee, which had been set up by the council, approved the project in a meeting on Sept 27, 2007.
It is not immediately known if the comments from these two departments were considered, but according to documents made available to theSun, three councillors – Datuk Raja Paduka Wan Mahmood Pa'wan Teh, Yuszahari Mohd Yusoff and Soohaimi Abd Rahman – attended the meeting together with representatives from the departments of the council.
Conspicuously present were chief clerks of the Planning and Buildings Divisions.
All decisions made by the various sub-committees of the council including the OSC have to be endorsed at the council's full board meeting which is attended by all 24 appointed-councillors.
It is not known when the council met but on Nov 30, 2007, council president Datuk Zainal Abidin Azim wrote to Dolomite enclosing the Development Order.

Sultan regrets Nurul’s remarks

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__t3_XOcHzbI/TSRu3uK3C-I/AAAAAAAAaBo/flQ0wp6F-Ew/s1600/111045ae42210e5d847b566503791b93.gif.jpg(The Star) - The Sultan of Selangor has expressed regret and surprise at a statement by PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar that Malay Muslims are free to choose their faith under the religious freedom factor.

Selangor Islamic Affairs Council (Mais) chairman Datuk Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa said Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah totally rejected any view that Malay Muslims were free to choose another religion and denounce Islam.

In a statement here yesterday, Mohamed Adzib said: “As the adviser to the Sultan of Selangor, Mais will assist him to be cautious, sensitive and firm on anyone who challenges the sanctity of Islam, whether in terms of ideology or practice, particularly in Selangor.”

Nurul Izzah, who is Lembah Pantai MP, was reported as saying at a forum on Saturday that no one should be compelled to adopt a particular religion and this applied to the Malays as well.

Following a public outcry over her statement, she denied she was supporting murtad (apostasy) or encouraging Muslims to renounce Islam.

She told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday that she was ready to meet the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) to explain her remarks.

Jais director Datuk Marzuki Husin said the MP's statement was akin to saying all religions are the same.

“This is not correct as Islam is not the same as other faiths,” he said, stressing that Jais could act against Nurul Izzah if it has information on what she exactly said at the forum.

MALAY ORIGINS: Evidence suggests otherwise


New evidence seems to suggest that Malays and Negritos both evolved together in Southeast Asia in prehistoric times.

DATUK Dr Ananda Kumaraseri's comment piece, "Malaysia reflects its rich varied heritage" (NST, Nov 2), was a fair attempt at describing Malaysia's population and cultural variety, based on ancient history.

(NST) - Unfortunately, his narration of the past was based on outdated theories and knowledge. There were no "waves" of migration into Southeast Asia, nor did Malays originate from Tibet or southern China, as he mentioned.

Dr Ananda was reading knowledge of the 1930s, basically just archaeological knowledge.

Lots of new evidence in archaeology and linguistics, as well as DNA studies, in Asia more recently have overturned the theories and views about Southeast Asia that originated from the 1930s.

For a round-up of some of the new evidence, refer to the book Tamadun Alam Melayu (by M.A. Ishak 2009, published by Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia).

The picture is now emerging that it was in Southeast Asia that man first began to differentiate and that the races began to emerge in Asia.

This evolution apparently resulted in the emergence of a spectrum of peoples, from darker-skinned Negritos to lighter-skinned ones (Jakuns) and the still lighter-skinned "Malays".

That is to say, the Malay population did not go through the process of being deutero Malays and then proto Malays, as is so commonly mentioned.

What the new evidence seems to suggest is that Malays and Negritos both evolved together in Southeast Asia during prehistoric times.

At that time, southern Southeast Asia was one large block of land which then broke up to form the Malay Archipelago following rises in sea levels three times from 14,000 to 8,000 years ago. (For a comprehensive account of the sea floods and its significance in the history of Southeast Asia, please refer to the book Eden in the East by Stephen Oppenheimer, 2001).

Some of the people who arrived in Southeast Asia from Africa (about 60,000 to 80,000 years ago) did not stay in Southeast Asia long and moved on without going through the process of early differentiation in Southeast Asia. They became the aboriginal peoples of Papua New Guinea and Australia as we know them today.

Some others continued moving northwards instead and they differentiated further and became Tibetans, Yuehs, Thais and others, and only much later did the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese emerge.

In other words, human migration was from south to north, and not from north to south as suggested by the theories of the 1930s.

Thus, the Chinese are, in fact, a distant sub-set of Southeast Asians, and not the other way round.

The largest DNA studies conducted by scientists from 10 Asian countries, including Malaysia, China and Singapore, published their findings in December 2009.

They concluded that migration of man in East Asia was from south to north.

The 2009 findings reinforced findings from several earlier but much smaller studies, which also carried the same conclusions.

But much later, migrations of man from north to south in East Asia (and Chinese historical accounts mentioned these events) did take place. These migrations brought Vietnamese, Thais, the people of Myanmar and others into Southeast Asia.

These were thus back-migrations to the south, and these happened because of the pressure of the expanding Chinese population in the north.

But Malays have always been in the southern part of Southeast Asia.

There are no historical accounts, whether in China or wherever, of people who could be identified as Malays migrating south during historical times.

Malays (or, any other present-day Southeast Asians) could not have migrated south from the north earlier, meaning during prehistoric times either, as DNA studies have shown human DNA in Southeast Asia is older than that in China (in other words, human movement could only have been northwards during prehistoric times), and DNA composition in China showed a heavy Southeast Asian content, meaning Southeast Asian origin.

Over time, Malays having flourished as natives of Southeast Asia (alongside the Negritos) from the original migration from Africa and split following the break-up of their homeland -- the southern Southeast Asia land mass -- into the Malay Archipelago.

This resulted in the Malays becoming the population of all the islands of the archipelago. Their land-and-sea environment then caused the ancient Malays to develop a maritime way of life and maritime skills.

Eventually, the Malays sailed right into the Pacific Ocean populating all the islands there (where they are now known as Polynesians and Micronesians), and also to Madagascar across the Indian Ocean.

Malay kinship across these two oceans has been indicated by DNA studies from the 1960s and even earlier linguistic studies.

Their ancient presence in the archipelago led to the development of sub-identities like the Javanese, Bugis and others among the Malay ethnic group, also known as Malayo-Polynesian.

It is wrong, therefore, to suggest that Javanese or Bugis, for instance, are immigrant people in Malaysia, as all these people are mere sub-ethnic groups of a larger ethnic family, all inheriting a single common and extensive ancient homeland.

Thus, to get our prehistory and history right based on the new knowledge, Malays are the ancient ancestral people of southern Southeast Asia.

They did not migrate from anywhere else in Asia. The whole archipelago that resulted from the break-up of the original land mass of southern Southeast Asia was their original homeland and they kept sailing to and fro within the archipelago, even until present days.

The high cultural and linguistic diversity in the Malay Archipelago (despite being occupied by only one language family) is further proof of the Malays' ancient presence as linguistics theory suggests the more ancient a people are, the more they generate linguistic diversity.

Linguistic diversity among Malays in the archipelago is, in fact, the highest in the whole of Asia, thus pointing to their very ancient presence.

It is this ancient Malay population that is at the base of the country that we now call Malaysia.

Dr Ananda was right in suggesting that Malaysia's past shaped the "thinking, attitudes, ethos and the nature and substance of its statecraft".

Diversity is nothing new to the archipelago or to Malaysia, even before the arrivals of Chinese and Indians during very recent historical times.

I look forward to the revision of our school history books to keep abreast of the new evidence.

Burma: Trouble Brewing for China

(Asia Sentinel) Government tolerates freedom of expression, and the Burmese target Chinese investments
Monya protesters
Monya protesters
Following the Burmese government’s suspension of a controversial joint-venture hydroelectric dam project with China in the far north of the country, another flashpoint has emerged in relations between the two countries – a massive copper mine at Latpadaung, a mountain near Monywa northwest of Mandalay in Upper Burma.

The Myitsone hydroelectric project, being built to supply power to China, was cancelled in the face of strong local resistance. This time, local residents are protesting against a Chinese company. Wanbao Mining, a joint venture with the Burmese military’s main commercial enterprise, Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, or UMEH. Wanbao has been accused of destroying cultivated fields, polluting nearby water sources and desecrating Buddhist shrines. No less than 3,150 hectares of land from 26 surrounding villages were confiscated for the project.

The public outcry could also force China to rethink its often insensitive – some would say aggressive – policies towards smaller countries in the region.

UMEH’s involvement is merely as a recipient of fees from Wanbao, a subsidiary of the North Industries Corporation, or Norinco, China’s main weapons manufacturer which is also involved in other business activities.

When the agreement between Norinco and the government of Burma was signed 10 June 2010, the Chinese company said on its website that Monywa is “abundant in copper mine resources with excellent mineral quality, which is of great significance to strengthening the strategic reserve of copper resources in our country, and to enhancing the influence of our country in Myanmar (Burma).”

That influence is now on the wane as Burma tries hard to distance itself from China - which for more than two decades has exerted considerable economic, political and even military influence over this Southeast Asian country - while improving political relations with the United States, the European Union and Japan. But after last year’s suspension of the US$3.6 billion joint venture Myitsone dam project in the northern Kachin State, which shocked the Chinese, Burma must tread carefully in dealing with Wanbao Mining. For the country’s new leaders, it is a dilemma: They cannot crack down on the movement in Monywa without risking its still tenuous relationship with the West. But a continuing struggle could impact relations with Burma’s powerful northern neighbor.

The campaign against the Chinese company is led by two unlikely local heroes: Thwe Thwe Win, 29, and Aye Net, 34. Neither of the two young women has more than the compulsory five-year primary education behind her, and more than a year ago, both were selling vegetables in the local market in Monywa.

“The Chinese company came and bulldozed our fields and the Chinese officials made rude gestures at us when we came to complain,” says Thwe Thwe Win in an interview in Monywa.

The police did nothing, except arrest the two women and some of their comrades. That ignited a mass movement, at a time when freedom of expression is becoming tolerated in Burma after decades of iron-fisted military rule and when anti-Chinese sentiment is rising across the country. Student and labor activists from the old capital Rangoon and elsewhere traveled to Monywa to show support. On 26 October, more than 1,000 local miners, Buddhist monks and members of the general public defied an order by local authorities restricting access to the mine and marched past roadblocks to make merit at a pagoda inside the mining area.

The two women vow not to give up until the project is scrapped and the Chinese company leaves Monywa.

Elsewhere in Burma, people are also complaining about how China treats their country. For more than 20 years, Chinese companies have stripped large swathes of the north of trees, denuding ecologically crucial watershed areas. Chinese merchants have also flooded Burma with cheap consumer goods and fake medicines, explains a local businessman in Rangoon. “China does produce goods of good quality, but only for export to the West,” he said. “Here, they sell only junk. This is an almost racial attitude towards us.”

Even within the ruling military, anti-Chinese feelings run high. Already in 2004, a document was compiled by Lieutenant Colonel Aung Kyaw Hla, a researcher at Burma’s Defence Services Academy located in Pyin Oo Lwin, an old hill station in the highlands northeast of Mandalay.

The 346-page top-secret, thesis, titled “A Study of Myanmar [Burma]-U.S. Relations,” outlines in Burmese the policies now being implemented to improve relations with Washington and lessen dependence on Beijing. The establishment of a more acceptable regime than the old junta after the November 2010 election has made it easier for the Burmese military to launch new policies and have those taken seriously by the international community.

The thesis bluntly states that having China as a diplomatic ally and economic patron has created a “national emergency” that threatens the country’s independence. Aung Kyaw Hla, probably a committee of army strategists rather than a single person, goes on to argue that although human rights are a concern in the West, the US would be willing to modify its policy to suit “strategic interests.” Although the author does not specify those interests, the thesis makes it clear that includes common ground with the US vis-à-vis China. The author cites Vietnam and Indonesia under former dictator Suharto as examples of US foreign-policy flexibility in weighing strategic interests against democratization.

If bilateral relations with the US were improved, the master plan suggests, Burma would also gain access to badly needed funds from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other global financial institutions. The country would then emerge from “regionalism,” where it currently depends on the goodwill and trade of immediate neighbors, including China, and “enter a new era of globalization.”

At the same time, China is clearly taking the new signals from Burma seriously. In February and March this year, the Beijing-based, Chinese-language weekly Economic Observer ran a series of articles about the suspension of the Myitsone dam trying to analyze what went wrong with China’s relations with Burma. “How could something like this happen?” columnist Qin Hui asked. The 14 October Global Times, a daily tabloid published under the auspices of The People’s Daily newspaper, said in a commentary that Chinese companies need to “attach more importance to grassroots voices” in carrying out investment projects such as the Monywa copper mine. According to Burmese journalists, reporters from The Global Times are calling them with questions about pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which never happened before.

It’s too early to say whether Myitsone, and now Monywa, will become a turning point in China’s relations with Southeast Asia, paving the way for a more tactful relationship with countries such as Burma. But popular struggles against two Chinese megaprojects here have no doubt been wake-up calls for the leaders in Beijing. Even smaller countries – and a movement led by two former vegetable vendors in a town in the Burmese outback – are now brave enough to challenge the region’s most powerful economic and political player.

(Bertil Lintner is a Swedish journalist based in Thailand and the author of several works on Asia. He can be reached at lintner@asiapacificms.com. This is published with permission from the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.)

In cleaning out Bersih and Suaram, Putrajaya soils itself — Jaleel Hameed

NOV 7 — It is a government that has ruled since Merdeka, but it sure looks like the Alliance and its offspring Barisan Nasional (BN) has to learn some lessons early.

Take Bersih for example, kind sirs in Putrajaya.

What did the government achieve by demonising Bersih every step of the way, from its financing to its office-bearers to declaring it illegal and yet offering to work with the electorai reforms movement?

The answer is nothing, sir.

In fact, the organisation is stronger than ever and its co-chair, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan is world renowned as seen by her award from the White House, the French government and now a spot on the global television station, CNN.

And all Bersih are asking for are fair and clean elections in Malaysia, sir. It is an inherent right in any modern democracy. Are we saying Malaysia isn't modern or a democracy, sir?

All the actions against Bersih, sir, says a lot about government that it prefers to demonise its own citizens than guarantee clean polls.

How hard is it to guarantee free and fair elections? Any harder than helping other countries back to their own two feet, working for peace in Mindanao or Lebanon?

Pray tell, sir.

And now the same mistake is being repeated with the human rights group Suaram. Instead of cooperating and finding out if there were kickbacks in the Scorpene submarine deal, the government machinery is going around trying to demonise Suaram.

Why haven't the Putrajaya strategists learnt their lessons? Or are they so dogmatic in their mindset and believe that Malaysia is still in the 1960s or God forbid, sir, the 1980s when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ruled supreme and whispers were only printed in telefaxes?

But it is too late for that now because the barn door is wide open and the horse has bolted. You can go after Suaram all you want but it is not going to stop the French probe into the Scorpene deal.

It is also not going to prevent Malaysians from debating; talking and debating over whether some people have became very rich as a result of the deal.

So the Registrar of Societies can do all it wants to intimidate the Bar Council president, or Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and other Malaysians who have called Suaram a non-governmental organisation (NGO), nothing is going to stop the discussion on the submarine deal.

Not even the action of some hastily put together Umno groups masquerading as NGOs and pro-government bloggers will undo what has been done.

The story is out there, and just like Bersih, Suaram will have their day and tell all, sir. So stop smearing them because you are just soiling yourself further, sir.

Sir, if you really can adapt to the 21st century, best get out of the way of those who can and will help create a transparent Malaysia. Because that is the way to go for us Malaysians, sir.

* Jaleel Hameed 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.

Yen Yen’s High Standards of Wastage

By Martin Jalleh

Malaysia Poised To Be A Strong Economic Partner To US, Says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Wednesday said that Malaysia was highly capable and poised to be a strong economic partner to the United States.

He also hoped that during Barack Obama's second term as the US President, negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, of which Malaysia and US are members, would be concluded quickly, so that it will open up new trade and investments between the two sovereign nations.

"Malaysia has been always supportive of initiatives to promote and safeguard Southeast Asia and it has also gained recognition for its efforts in helping to broker peace with Muslim rebels in the troubled southern part of Philippines," he told reporters after launching the Entrepreneur Catalyst Initiative Programme (PUsH) at Menara TM Convention Centre here.

Asked whether Najib had expected Obama to win, the Prime Minister replied:

"The results showed that popular votes for both competitors were almost equal. However, the votes for Obama was far ahead, in terms of comprehensive support from the US citizens".

The Prime Minister also congratulated Obama on his re-election as the president of the United States.

The TPP is a free trade agreement that aims to further liberalise the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

Bill to remove judges' discretionary power NOT KNEE-JERK REACTION: Government concerned about protecting underage girls, says minister

The New Straits Times (Used by permission)

A BILL seeking to remove the discretionary powers of judges in sentencing statutory rape offenders will be tabled in the next parliamentary session, a move described by the government as necessary to protect underage girls from falling victims to rape.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the seriousness off the offence had to be reflected continuously by ensuring that lighter sentences were not meted out for those found guilty.

"In the last five years, there have been nearly 6,000 reported cases of statutory rape. That is an average of four cases every day. This is serious enough to command heavy sentencing," he said told reporters in Parliament House yesterday.

"My argument is that if judges are allowed to continue using Section 294 (to bind over first-time offenders for good behaviour) under the Criminal Procedure Code, then the sentencing will be seen not in accordance with the seriousness of the offence."

The bill will see an amendment to Section 376 of the Penal Code, which does not include a mandatory minimum sentence for rape.

Earlier, Nazri met representatives of two non-governmental organisations -- one supporting and the other opposing the bill.

He said the government's decision was not a knee-jerk reaction, as claimed by certain quarters, because it had the responsibility to protect the people.

"To find a genuinely acceptable solution for all sides will take one or two years. Therefore, for now, the buck stops with me, and parents can say that as the de facto law minister, I have the responsibility to protect their young girls."

Nazri said the move was not a ploy to take away the powers of the judiciary.

"It's not about taking away the powers of the judiciary because all the powers come in the form of laws, and we are the lawmakers."

He said Section 376 did not take into consideration the circumstances of the offender, as it was intended solely to protect women.

"If some groups think we should also protect the offender, then perhaps they should move towards a legislation allowing teenage sexual relations.

"If they can get the public to support teenage sex, then that's fine. But for now, Section 376 doesn't say that we should also protect the offender, who may also be a young person."

Nazri said the government had agreed in principle to form a sentencing committee comprising judges, representatives from the A-G's chambers, Bar Council, NGOs, and academicians. The committee would look at the sentences for all crimes and not just offences under Section 376, he added.