Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairperson P Waythamoorthy says
if Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak wants to meet with the movement, the
government must first lift its ban on it.
Waythamoorthy said he
was surprised by the government’s intention to meet with Hindraf, as he
had sent an request to meet Najib and also Opposition Leader Anwar
Ibrahim in August on his return from exile.
“Last week I met Anwar,
whom I recognise as the PM-in-waiting and recently, we had a meeting
with PAS spiritual adviser (and Kelantan Menteri Mesar) Nik Abdul Aziz
Nik Mat and deputy president Mohamad Sabu,” he said.
“We are not too enthusiastic with the PM’s invitation as we fear it will be used by BN to gain mileage as the election is near.
“However, if Najib is sincere in meeting Hindraf, he should first lift the ban on the movement and then we will talk,” he told Malaysiakini.
who is the younger brother of P Uthayakumar, said Hindraf had applied
to be registered since 2007 but this has not been allowed by the
Subsequently, it had also filed judicial review
applications and also re-filed another application to register Hindraf
in 2010, but this was again rejected.
Hindraf successfully launched a rally on Nov 25, 2007, to push for the rights of the Indian community.
Waythamoorthy was responding to the statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz yesterday that Najib was willing to meet with Hindraf to discuss the issues of the Indian community.
“We feel that even if it’s the most extreme group like Hindraf, we will meet them as it is an inclusive approach,” Nazri said. Hindraf meeting on Saturday
said he would like the see the offer as beyond politics to ensure the
improved well-being of the Indian community and ensure human rights are
“This is for the benefit of the Indian community,” he said.
views the invitation as possibly the government now recognising the
movement as a force fighting for the rights of the Indian community and
has major grassroots support.
On Saturday, the Hindraf
chairperson said they would be calling a meeting with all
representatives nationwide to identify the problems faced by the
“We have already received a lot of feedback from the
community but on Saturday, we will get to know the further problems
faced as highlighted by the wishes of the grassroots, and wants the
government and politicians to address them,” he said.
Hindraf is also beyond generalities, as we are seeking specific, pointed
and serious approaches to resolve problems faced by the community, and
fighting for the human rights of the community.
permanent, comprehensive and practical solutions that will bring
tangible benefits with an immediate impact on 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
“We had also submitted our demands for the government to consider five years ago,” he said.
Uthayakumar had earlier told Malaysiakini that the government should fulfill the five demands first before asking for a meeting.
the final analysis, Waythamoorthy said we as the lead organisation for
the Indian marginalised community in the country seek to find real
solutions for the problems of the people that they speak up for.
“If there is sincerity (from the PM), we will certainly explore it,” he said.
Recently, another Hindraf leader, S Jayathas, had also officially joined PKR.
Hindraf representatives who arrived in Parliament this afternoon to hand
over a memorandum on the planned demolition of seven houses two days
before Deepavali could not do so as no one was available to receive it.
to Hindraf Youth chief S Thiagarajan, this was despite notice being
given via fax yesterday and there was a confirmation of receipt.
spoke to Puan Jainisah, who is said to be the Parliament coordinator,
via telephone when we arrived at Parliament House and she said she would
arrange for someone to accept the memorandum.
waited for an hour but no one turned up so we decided to leave and send
the memorandum by hand to the Federal Territories Ministry, Kuala
Lumpur mayor's office and Prime Minister's Office instead,” Thiagarajan
Thiagarajan (centre, in photo) said that they had
planned to send the memorandum to a representative of the ministry as
well as to the prime minister in Parliament so that the issue would get
the parliamentarians attention because of the urgency of the matter.
The incident comes a day after Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz extended an invitation on behalf of the government to Hindraf and other Indian groups for a discussion on their grievances.
Mohd Nazri, who is in charge of parliamentary affairs, is currently abroad.
to the memorandum, seven houses of urban settlers in the Jalan Chan Sow
Lin area of Kuala Lumpur are to be demolished on Sunday, two days
before Deepavali, to make way for development.
The land now belongs to Kha Seng Development Sdn Bhd.
TOL licence fee paid from 1930s to 2011
houses are inhabited by five Indian families and two Chinese families,
of whom three hold temporary occupation licences (TOL).
TOL holders have been paying yearly TOL licences since the 1930s,”
Hindraf secretary-general P Uthayakumar says in the memorandum.
Uthayakumar (left) said the latest assesment bill from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall was issued in July 2011.
He noted that the residents had applied for grants in 1993 but were rejected.
hereby make an urgent SOS to your goodselves that the said demolition
exercise scheduled for Nov 11, 2012, and thereafter is called off and
that this matter be amicably resolved,” he said.
also sought the mayor, minister and prime minister to consider that the
residents are in the 60s and 70s, and are not eligible for housing loans
from commercial banks.
According to Thiagarajan, some of the residents have lived in the houses all their lives.
received a court order saying they should vacate the land three months
ago, and have approached their MP for assistance, but to no avail.
have approached (DAP Cheras MP) Tan Kok Wai, (DAP Puchong MP) Gobind
Singh Deo and other opposition MPs but were informed there was nothing
that the MPs could do,” Thiagarajan added.
A copy of the
memorandum was also sent to Kha Seng Development and the Malaysian
Anti-Corruption Commission as the residents are suspicious that some
form of corruption is also possibly involved.
Last night, Hawaii not only elected Japan-born Mazie Hirono to be the first ever Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, they also elected Democrat Tulsi Gabbard as the first ever practicing Hindu to the US House of Representatives. Hawaii has been declared a Fox News Disaster Zone.
Thirty-one-year-old Gabbard is the daughter of two conservative Hawaii politicians and first ran for office at age 21. After her first term, she voluntarily served on a 12-month tour of duty with Hawaii's National Guard, and then became the first woman in the history of the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy to be designated a "distinguished honor graduate."
When she's sworn in this January, she'll take her oath of office over a Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text for followers of Hinduism, or Sanatana Dharma.. According to HuffPo, Gabbard's favorite verses include,
— "That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul." (2:17) — "The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind."(2.23)
Gabbard hopes that her faith will help her to assist the US in fostering a better relationship with India, where a large portion of the population is Hindu.
Other non-Christian adherent Congresspeople include Minnesota's Keith Ellison, who took his oath of office over the Qu'ran. But as far as I know, no elected officials have been sworn in with a special edition DVD version of Cecil B. Demille's The Ten Commandments, which is probably what I'd pick.
TUESDAY, 06 NOVEMBER 2012 | KUMAR CHELLAPPAN | CHENNAI | THE POINEER :: In what is being seen as an assault on religious freedom, the management of an admittedly secular school in Chennai has suspended a teacher for reciting Hindu prayers during assembly.
Abirami, a chemistry teacher of the State Bank of India Officers’ Association Educational Trust School (SBIOA), recited the prayers in the school assembly on March 13, 2012 hoping to inspire the 330 students who were about to write the chemistry paper in the public examination.
“I recited the lines Om Mathru Devo Bhava, Om Pitru Devo Bhava, Om Acharya Devo Bhava, Om Vighneswaraya Namaha, Om Neela Saraswathiye Namaha which was repeated by the students. But before they could reach the stanza Om Vighneswaraya Namaha, school’s vice- principal Jayanti Sundar, a Christian who is also an evangelist, switched off the mike. I told her that prayers were not yet over and continued reciting the full prayer when she pushed me aside and asked another Christian teacher to lead the prayers. They put me under suspension on that day itself on charges of physically assaulting the vice-principal in front of the school students,” Abirami told The Pioneer.
She said that though the school was launched by the State Bank of India Officers Association, it has turned out to be a Christian management school. “Only Christian prayers are allowed in the school assembly though majority of the students are from the Hindu community. It was only on the day of the chemistry examination that I took part in the school assembly and recited the prayer. My intention was to recite prayers for the benefit of students belonging to all religions,” said Abirami.
Though she has been under suspension for the entire academic year 2012, the management is yet to complete the disciplinary proceedings which in itself are a violation of education department rules. “The internal disciplinary proceedings against her are under progress. Ours is a secular school and all the charges levelled against us are baseless. Abirami is trying to divert the attention of the general public by inciting religious sentiments,” PC Selvarani, the school principal, said. She alleged that Abirami was trying to spoil the minds of the students. But she refused to divulge the reasons behind the suspension and disciplinary proceedings against Abirami.
Students who took part in the March 13 school assembly said Abirami did not in any way violate the school discipline. “Abirami offered prayers for all religions equally. While she was offering the prayers, vice-principal Jayanthi Sunder tried to snatch the microphone from her hands. Consequently, Abirami resisted this act and did not force Jayanthi Sunder physically in any form. I could deduce no reason for her suspension,” said S Vidhyalakshmi, a student who was present in the assembly on the fateful day.
Some of the students backed Abirami’s claim that only Christian prayers are recited in the school assembly everyday. “Only Christian teachers are allowed to lead the assembly and recite the prayers. This has baffled us,” one of the students who did not want to be quoted said.
B Haran, a political commentator, described as outrageous the action of the school authorities. “This is a classic case of minorities serving their religion wherever they are. They infiltrate a secular institution, take control of management and convert it into a minority institution. This is what has happened exactly in this case. The SBOA is now controlled by the Church. That is Indian Secularism for you,” said Haran.
V Sundaram, all India general secretary (ideology), Janata Party, called the bluff on the school management. A former IAS officer withy more than three decades of administrative experience, Sundaram termed the action of the school management as a violation of the freedom of religion. “If we interpret true secularism, the court itself can take suo moto note of the news and initiate action against the school,” he said.[Read full story here].
Non-Muslims who accept the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Abdul
Razak are considered ‘kafir zimmi’ (friendly non-believers), said Deputy
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mashitah Ibrahim.
Replying to Amran Ab Ghani (PKR-Tanah Merah), she said these people were unlike those who “clearly say they are against Islam”.
Though not mentioning names, Mashitah(left),
who is deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs, mentioned
incidents involving DAP leaders as examples of those hostile to Islam.
whether DAP is 'kafir harbi' (hostile non-Muslim) or not, if the
non-Muslims are against Islam, making statements labelling the syariah
as extreme and clearly saying that they don’t want Islam, whether or not
it involves walking over dead bodies, or feeling that defending Islam’s
honour is a waste of energy and time, then it is clear they are against
Islam,” she said.
DAP chairperson Karpal Singh had once said
that the hudud will only be implemented in Malaysia over his dead body,
while Perak DAP chairperson Nga Kor Ming has been slammed for
questioning the need to demonstrate against anti-Islam film Innocence of
Amran had asked if steps had been taken to control the
issuance of fatwa by unrecognised individuals on the term kafir harbi
and legal action that will be taken to prevent this from being repeated.
In his supplementary question, he said that this referred to grassroots ulama Abdullah Saamah, who was reported by Utusan Malaysia as having labelled the DAP as kafir harbi. No fatwa on zimmi or harbi
explained that no fatwa has been issued on whether the non-Muslims in
Malaysia are zimmi or harbi, and that any statement made by individuals
are personal views.
All the same, she said, any statements which
cause disharmony in Malaysia can be dealt with uner Section 298a of the
She also denied that the government practices
double standards by not taking action against those who make sensitive
statements, as long as they favour the ruling coalition.
statement) was not an accusation. The harbi or zimmi term is used by
scholars as a study of the attitudes of non-Muslims, to decide if they
are cooperative or not.
“It is not to mete out punishment like
killing, etc. The classification of harbi and zimmi is to decide whether
we can be friends with them or not,” she said.
The public are advised to follow the travel advisory issued for Deepavali and Awal Muharram next week. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — Motorists will enjoy discounts on 24 highways in conjunction with the Deepavali celebration this coming Tuesday, while five highways will slash toll rates for Awal Muharram on Thursday.
The Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) said all highways had agreed to offer this incentive to support the government in encouraging social corporate responsibility (CSR) programmes among concessionaires.
The North-South Expressway (PLUS), North-South Expressway Central Link (Elite), Seremban-Port Dickson Highway (SPDH), Kulim-Butterworth Highway (KLBK) and Malaysia-Singapore Second Link Expressway (Linkedua) would offer rebates of 20 per cent on Deepavali and 10 per cent rebate on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a statement issued by MHA, here, today.
Meanwhile, the Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH), Shah Alam-Kuang Highway (Guthrie), Kemuning-Shah Alam Highway (LKSA) and SMART Highway will give 20 per cent off on all toll rates for cash and Electronic Transfer Card (ETC) from 6am on Tuesday until 6am on Wednesday.
The New North Klang Straits Bypass (NNKSB) will give a 10 per cent discount from 11am on Monday until 8am on Tuesday, while the Cheras-Kajang Highway (Grandsaga), KL-Putrajaya Highway (KLP), Senai Desaru Expressway (SDE), New Pantai Expressway (NPE), Sungai Besi Expressway (Besraya) Kajang-Seremban Highway (LEKAS), Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE), Shah Alam Highway (KESAS), KL-Karak Highway (KLK), East Coast Highway Phase 1 (LPT 1) and the KL-Kuala Selangor Highway (LATAR) offer motorists 10 per cent off on Tuesday (12am to 11.59pm).
The Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) will charge a 60 sen toll fare, Western 20 sen on Deepavali for motorists plying the KL Traffic Dispersal System (SPRINT) and 20 per cent discount on the South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE).
The MHA estimates four million vehicles to enter the highways during the festive season.
Meanwhile, PLUS, in a statement, advised the public to follow the travel advisory issued for Deepavali and Awal Muharram next week as it has been proven to facilitate a more comfortable journey during long holidays and festive seasons.
It said traffic congestion was reduced and motorists should also heed the advisory when returning to the Klang Valley.
The following is a proposed travel advisory from the Klang Valley to the north starting tomorrow until Monday, and from Friday until Nov 18:
• Perlis, Kedah and Penang (through Juru) before noon,
• Taiping, Kuala Kangsar and Changkat Jering between noon and 3pm,
• Ipoh, Simpang Pulai and Gopeng between 3pm and 6pm, and
• Tapah, Bidor, Sungkai, Slim River and Tanjung Malim after 6pm.
For destinations in the south, the following is proposed for Johor:
• Johor (through Skudai, Senai North, Ayer Hitam, Yong Peng and Tangkak) before noon,
• Melaka through Ayer Keroh between noon and 3pm,
• Tampin and Alor Gajah through Simpang Ampat between 3pm and 6pm, and
• Senawang, Port Dickson and Seremban after 6pm.
This year, PLUS retains the travel schedule by dividing vehicles according to odd and even numbered licence plates when using bridges at the Johor Causeway, Linkedua and Penang Bridge.
“Odd numbered plates are advised to use the bridges during odd hours such as 9am, 1pm and 7pm. Even numbered plates can travel during even hours such as 10am, 2pm and 8pm throughout the festive season,” it said. — Bernama
Malays make up the most number of voters in the constituency and they will vote for Barisan Nasional, according to Tapah Umno division.
PETALING JAYA: The Tapah Umno division and a local non-governmental organisation today disputed a prominent blogger’s claim that chances of the Barisan Nasional (BN) retaining the Tapah parliamentary seat hinges on Indian support.
Insisting that Tapah was a sure bet for BN, Tapah Umno committee member Mazlan Johari said there was no reason for incumbent M Saravanan (photo) to lose the parliamentary seat.
He said Malays constitute about 47% of voters in the constituency and majority of them were still loyal to BN and Umno.
“This alone can guarantee Saravanan’s victory. Malay votes can be divided into three categories — Umno, PAS and PKR. But, in total 70% of the Malays in Tapah are still loyal to BN and Umno,” he told FMT .
“The momentum is there. The people of Tapah like Saravanan. I can even say that he is looking at a bigger majority this time around. People know him better now. In 2008, he was a newcomer. He struggled to get votes in 2008 due to the political tsunami. But the same can’t be said now,”
“Even in 2008 he won with a relatively comfortable majority. That was when he was not a deputy minister. Now he is a deputy minister. He is also active on the ground. So, I don’t think that he would face any major problem in retaining this seat,” said Mazlan.
On Tuesday Mohd Ariff Sabri, a former Barisan Nasional state assemblyman and blogger, who runs the ‘Sakmongkol AK47′ blog, claimed that the Tapah parliamentary constituency was not a sure bet for BN and that the constituency could fall to Pakatan Rakyat at the next general election.
The one term Pulau Manis (Pekan, Pahang) state representative pointed that MIC can be defeated in Tapah if the opposition pact wins over 20% Indian support in the tussle for the seat.
While supporting Ariff’s speculation, a Tapah based DAP leader who declined to be named had said that the MIC vice president could be kicked out of Tapah if the Malay votes are split .
Saravanan, who is also Federal Territories and Urban Well-being deputy minister, won the Tapah parliamentary seat at the 2008 general election beating a PKR candidate by a 3,000 vote majority.
Tapah is relatively a small constituency in terms of number of registered voters. It has about 38,000 voters with Malays constituting about 47%, Chinese 32%, Indians and Orang Asli 20% and 1% respectively
National issues not a concern here
Meanwhile S Sivaraj, Kg Pasir Youth Association president, said the chances of Tapah falling to the hands of the opposition was slim.
“National issues do not carry much weight here. This is a semi-urban constituency. If it was urban then the situation could be different. It will be mission impossible for both PKR and Pakatan to win the Tapah parliamentary seat.
“Of course, Pakatan leaders have run a series of ceramahs in Tapah. But, national issues does not hold water here. The people here have already made up their mind. They would vote based on the candidate and what we have now is one of the best in terms of service,” added Sivaraj.
“Saravanan often visits the constituency and listens to the people’s grouses. He has also settled some long standing issues here. For example the Tapah Tamil school problem and the construction of a public hall in Tapah.
“These are the issue which touch the peoples heart. So, I feel there is no reason for the people of Tapah to vote him out,” he added.
Aduan itu termasuk segala kenyataan dan dakwaan yang dilemparkan terhadapnya berdasarkan laporan Utusan Malaysia yang menyentuh kebebasan memilih agama.
KUALA LUMPUR: Ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar akan membuat aduan di Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais) di Shah Alam esok terhadap kenyataannya yang telah diputarbelitkan akhbar Utusan Malaysia.
Nurul Izzah berkata, aduan itu termasuk segala kenyataan dan dakwaan yang dilemparkan terhadapnya berdasarkan laporan Utusan Malaysia yang menyentuh kebebasan memilih agama.
“Saya sudah berhubung dengan Pengarah Jais (Datuk Marzuki Hussin) esok 11 pagi untuk mengemukakan aduan terhadap laporan yang menyerang dan memfitnah saya.
“Segala dakwaan yang disebut itu berasaskan laporan Utusan dan bukannya (kenyataan) saya,” katanya kepada pemberita di Lobi Parlimen hari ini.
Manakala proses dokumentasi untuk memfailkan saman terhadap Utusan Malaysia dan Berita Harian akan dilakukan dalam masa terdekat.
Naib Presiden PKR pada forum ‘Negara Islam: Versi Mana; Siapa Bertanggungjawab’ pada Sabtu lalu dilaporkan berkata rakyat tidak seharusnya dipaksa mengamalkan agama tertentu dan ia juga terpakai secara sama rata kepada orang Melayu.
Kemudian Utusan Malaysia pada Isnin memetik dan menyiarkan semula laporan tersebut, namun menggambarkan kenyataan Nurul Izzah seakan-akan menyokong gejala murtad.
Laporan Utusan itu kemudiannya mendapat reaksi negatif dan kecaman daripada pelbagai pihak.
Malah Sultan Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah melalui kenyataan Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (Mais) kelmarin turut terkejut dan kecewa dengan kenyataan itu.
The fervour for one's faith should lie in the heart of the follower. It should not be demanded upon by other mere mortals. Nor should it infringe upon the rights of non-believers.
In a decadent country crammed with prejudiced politicians spewing their inherent ignorance, it is wholly refreshing to see a young gifted politician view religion through non-sectarian lens. Nurul Izzah Anwar’s observations on the merits of religious freedom are both courageous and inspiring.
This is after all a country where one is branded from birth by race and religion, then coerced and conditioned into being clothed with the fabric of societal acceptance. And should one deign to tread away from this muzzling moralistic mould, one is deemed an unsound, satan-worshipping, bubonic-plague-carrying concubine! It is therefore no revelation that religious freedom is deliberately viewed as an ambush on Islam, having diabolical and moral repercussions. Even a mere suggestion of examination of any doctrine is swiftly slayed as if it were brought forth by pagan beasts!
But spiritual scholars, religious rookies and political pinheads would do well to remember that though laws and restrictions may be legally exerted upon persons, these edicts can never truly hijack hearts or heads. The moral police cannot control mental vistas or vices. The complex contraption that is religion requires discourse and understanding, not cosmetic rituals, loud pontificating and doctrinal proclamations. The fervour for one's faith should lie in the heart of the follower. It should not be demanded upon by other mere mortals. Nor should it infringe upon the rights of non-believers.
Nevertheless, this country’s overt obsession with righteous religious paths has all but shoved God to the unhallowed pavement! While God is said to be the all merciful, compassionate creator, the interpreted tenets of religion instead expose an iron-fisted intolerance of biblical proportions. The level of intolerance permeating through Malaysian society and the Islamic intellect is simply god awful! Though all prophetic preachings bear identical ideologies, to, say propose, that the principles of Ahimsa be practiced by a Muslim would be akin to religious renunciation!
We now live in times where crooning Christian carols in Malay is a malediction upon Muslim mankind. Where seeking Muslim women’s rights is religiously wrong. Where a unit of language is permitted to be used solely at the behest of one faith. And the scriptured strictures go on! Thus, what remains the fundamental failure of faith is a divine devotion devoid of depth. A patronage of a parish that glorifies a genuflecting body rather than a generous soul.
It is then hardly surprising that the hudud hobgoblin is repeatedly resurrected to scare one away from the pantheon of Pakatan or sway one towards the temple of BN. But while Pakatan parties have purged itself of puritan parasites the likes of Hassan Ali and Zulkifli Nordin, it is the government that routinely employs religious discrimination.
It was after all the harebrained Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein who fervently defended a brutish bunch of protestors who desecrated a cow head to protest the building of a hindu temple. It was this same malevolent minister who defiled justice by having Egyptian student Hamzah Kahgari deported for tweeting a liberalist message. And renowned writer, Irshad Manjis, was labelled an LGBT loving Lucifer and her book Allah, Liberty and Love banned by the Malaysian government. This again, was the handiwork of our hideous home minister. And lest we forget the sins of the past, former Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had in 2008 ludicrously banned the book Muslim Women and the Challenges of Extremism, published by Sisters In Islam. It was also the ruling government that had gone on a guideline galore of intolerance, declaring V-neck t-shirts as the dress of the debauched. Alas, while this biased government exercises great restraint in intelligent pursuits, they disgorge mindless drivel with great speed.
Hence, opportunistic orthodox ogres have scrambled to scream sacrilege at Nurul Izzah. But let it be made clear that the heart of her message was that any affirmation and adherence of faith should be one of free will and not of force. Her statement was not in support of apostasy; it was an endorsement of equality. And in making that stunning statement, my dear MP typified her principles by displaying graceful gumption and astute knowledge.
The same however cannot be said of the vapid vulgar BN blockheads who are solely capable of despicable babble. That which they lack in refinement and sophistication, they very well make up for in stupidity and shallowness. The MP of Kota Belud is one such stellar sap. Ever equipped with witless quips and armed with the integrity of Iago, the sycophant from Sabah was quick to mouth off his inane insipid insights. Which is no surprise given that his entire parliamentary pilgrimage is piled with political posturing and apple-polishing.
As expected, many of his bigoted BN brethren were quick to follow suit. Such is the covenant of the cult called corruption! A sect whose five pillars of faith include trickery, treachery, tyranny, thuggery and thievery. Their trodden path to divinity has led them to the mosque of miscreants where the sins of spawn and spouse are miraculously cleansed by MACC messiahs. Where their Episcopal empire endows erstwhile ministers with beefy bankrolls. And their prophets of profane profit congregate and extol great virtues upon their very own trinitas; the father, the son and the holy hummer.
But while these caliphs of cruelty command the sacrificial burning of human liberties, Malaysians must rise and declare a jihad for justice! We have had it with BN’s man-made hadiths. Along with the hypocritical holiness of this greedy government, we have been made to endure the disciples of dumbness such as the neanderthal Nazri Aziz, the imbecilic Ibrahim Ali and the boorish Bung Mukhtar. That these unworthy specimens were voted in as parliamentarians is an abomination in itself! Hence, if we wish not to be doomed to eternal damnation, we need to elect legitimate leaders and not lavatory litter. So whether you’re guided by what thy Lord had decreed, or what humanity has heralded, please vote with your conscience. I know my vote will be for MP Nurul Izzah!
Shenaaz Khan has been a resident of Bangsar Baru for the last 37 years.
Hence how can Nurul Izzah be wrong for saying that there is freedom of religion in Malaysia? The fact that so many Malays have left Islam and the government does nothing about it means that there is freedom of religion in Malaysia, even for Muslims.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Improper to use freedom of expression to confuse people, says Mashitah
(Bernama) - It is improper for an individual to use the freedom of expression as a reason to state an opinion which can confuse the people, especially Muslims, in the country, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim said that though the government believed in the principle of freedom of expression to state an opinion, matters related to religious issues were most sensitive to Muslims.
“In the effort to exercise control over sensitive issues among Muslims, action can be taken under Section 298A of the Penal Code which relates to causing disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or prejudicing the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion,” she said when replying to a question from Amran Ab Ghani (PKR-Tanah Merah) on the measures taken by the government to control the issuing of ‘fatwa’ (rulings) by unauthorised individuals.
Mashitah said the legal proceedings under the provision were handled by the civil courts and a convicted individual could be sentenced to jail for between two and five years.
Replying to a supplementary question, from Datuk Mohamed Aziz (BN-Sri Gading), Mashitah said that though there were no legal provisions to act against Muslims who propose that Muslims should be free to choose their religion, action could be taken against them for insulting Islam or causing it to be despised.
Mohamed Aziz has asked what action could be taken against PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar for having said last Saturday that Malay Muslims should be free to choose their religion.
Mashitah said enactments in certain states provided for a fine of up to RM3,000 or a jail sentence of up to two years, or both, for those convicted of insulting Islam or causing it to be despised orally or in writing.
Jais should probe Nurul Izzah's statement: Khalid
(Bernama) -- The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) needs to carry out an investigation regarding Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar's statement on freedom of religion, said Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.
Abdul Khalid, who is also the state executive councillor in charge of Islamic affairs, this was necessary to prevent Muslims from becoming confused and ensure that there was no negative impact to the ummah (faithful) in the wake of the controversy surrounding the issue.
"I support an investigation into the matter and the actions taken by Jais on it as it is a positive thing, no Muslim wants another to leave the religion (Islam)," he told reporters here today.
However, he added that Nurul Izzah, the MP for Lembah Pantai, should be given the opportunity to come forward to clear the air over the matter as there were many versions on the issue in media reports.
He was commenting on a report in a news portal which had reported Nurul Izzah as saying at a forum held in Subang Jaya on Saturday that each citizen of the country had the right to profess the religion of his or her choice and that this included the Malays, all of whom are Muslims.
Siti Kasim, a member of the Bar Council human rights committee -- and the person who asked Nurul Izzah Anwar that most controversial question regarding freedom of religion -- said she is disappointed that Nurul has “retracted” her remark.
“I believe Nurul was just trying to impress the people, she didn’t think of the consequences,” she told FMT. Siti said Nurul should have stood firm on her remark that freedom of religion was a right for all including the Malay-Muslim.
(READ MORE HERE)
I would have to agree with Siti. Whether what Nurul Izzah said was politically correct or politically incorrect, she has already said it so she should stick to her guns. She should challenge her critics to explain what it is she said that was wrong. If they think that what she said was wrong then they have to come out to explain what is wrong with her statement.
Nurul Izzah is now blaming Utusan Malaysia for this whole thing. Is she saying that she did not say what they said she said and that Utusan lied? Or is she saying she only meant that freedom of religion is for non-Muslims and Muslims do not have freedom of religion?
I personally know a number of ex-Muslim Malays who have left Islam to become Christians. And according to the Perak Mufti, about 500,000 Malays want to leave Islam.
I doubt someone of a Mufti’s status would lie. Hence it must be true that 500,000 Malays want to leave Islam. But why did the Mufti say ‘want to leave’, as if they have not quite left yet? Islam is about akidah or faith. And if you no longer have faith in Islam then you no longer have any akidah. And if you no longer have any akidah then you are automatically no longer a Muslim.
In short, you do not have to ‘leave’ Islam. By your very lack of faith you have been ‘kicked out’ of Islam, so to speak. Hence, it is not that 500,000 Malays ‘want to leave’ Islam but 500,000 Malays ‘have already left’ Islam because they no longer have any akidah.
The absence of akidah means you are not a Muslim, plain and simple. Is this too difficult to understand?
Now, how does the Mufti know that 500,000 Malays want to leave Islam? He can only know because the government has checked and they know the numbers because they know whom these people are.
There are two ways to leave Islam. One would be to no longer have any akidah. Another would be to go to the National Registration Department (NRD) and inform them that you have left Islam and you want the ‘Islam’ on your identity card removed.
Now, whether the NRD does or does not remove the ‘Islam’ on your ID does not matter. ‘Legally’, you may still be a Muslim if they do not amend/update your ID. Technically, you are no longer a Muslim.
Hence Islam is not about the word ‘Islam’ on a piece of plastic. Islam is about what is in your heart. And if you heart is no longer a Muslim then you are no longer a Muslim, never mind what that piece of plastic says.
Some people dispute the Perak Mufti’s figure of 500,000. They say that figure is too high and that it is actually much lower than that. Okay, so it may not be 500,000. It may be only 100,000 or 50,000 or just 10,000. Whatever the figure may be, the government does not deny the fact that some Muslims want to or have already left Islam. And I personally know some of these people.
I also know many Muslims who still regard themselves as Muslims but reject the Hadith. The government calls these people ‘anti-Hadith’. However, these people say they are not anti-Hadith but pro-Qur’an -- or as what some would call ‘Qur’an alone’ Muslims.
Trust me, there are many such Muslims, even amongst the Malays or Malaysians.
Now, according to the Malaysian government’s interpretation of Islam, you must accept the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sunnah to quality as Muslim, all three. If you reject even one of the three then you are no longer a Muslim. In other words, tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of Muslims are no longer Muslims because they refuse to accept the Hadith and/or the Sunnah.
Hence, according to the Malaysian government, these people have ‘left’ Islam. In fact, they would be considered heretics or even apostates, and heresy as well as apostasy attracts the death sentence in all three Abrahamic faiths (although those in the west no longer follow this rule -- as they no longer follow the rule on homosexuality, gay marriages, etc.).
The bottom line is, by act of rejection of certain doctrines of Islam or by total rejection of Islam, many Malays have already ‘left’ Islam (or have been ‘kicked out’ of Islam). That is the reality.
And has the Malaysian government arrested these people or punished these people in any way? The answer is, of course, ‘no’. And since the government has not taken action against so many Malays who by act of omission or act of rejection have left or have been kicked out of Islam, would that not mean there is freedom of religion in Malaysia, even freedom for Muslims to leave Islam?
Hence how can Nurul Izzah be wrong for saying that there is freedom of religion in Malaysia? The fact that so many Malays have left Islam and the government does nothing about it means that there is freedom of religion in Malaysia, even for Muslims.
And that is why Nurul Izzah should not act like she has done something wrong. Instead of sounding very defensive and apologetic she should go on the attack. She should challenge the government to prove her wrong. She should challenge the government to state that there is no freedom of religion in Malaysia and any Malay who leaves Islam will be arrested and will be put to death.
Nurul Izzah is probably afraid that she will lose Malay support if the Malays believe that she supports apostasy. Hence she is doing some damage control. It looks like the government has her on the run and she is falling right into it.
The video recording of that forum is now on Youtube and what Nurul Izzah really said is there for all and sundry to see. It is too late to try to explain what she really meant or accuse Utusan Malaysia of distorting or twisting what she said. Maybe she meant something else and they interpreted it as something else. But so what?
Nurul Izzah should not play this ‘I have been misquoted’ game that most politicians play. Instead, she should say, “Yes, I said that there is freedom of religion and prove that I am wrong.” Challenge all those people who whacked you and make them state that there is no freedom of religion in Malaysia.
Then, once they do that, challenge them to explain, if there is no freedom of religion in Malaysia, why has the government done nothing about all those many Malays who have left Islam?
The best form of defense is an offense. Nurul Izzah should go on the offensive rather than appear defensive. They are trying to bring her down, that’s for sure. If she has to go down then go down fighting. She should stand by what she said and make the government explain what it is she said that is wrong.
I doubt anyone will dare say that there is no freedom of religion in Malaysia and any Malay who leaves Islam must be put to death. If they dare say this they would have said it a long time ago. I would play poker and see what hand they have. I bet you their cards are, as the Chinese would say, chekai.
Come on Nurul, fight back, don’t back down. And cancel your meeting with JAIS tomorrow. Tell them to go to hell. Why do you need to explain yourself unless you have done something wrong?
(Asia Sentinel) Whatever happened to the Hong Kong probe into Malaysian money laundering?
The United Malays National Organization, Malaysia’s biggest ethnic political party, has found itself embroiled in yet another politically debilitating scandal, leaving the de facto law minister trying to explain why his son was driving around in an expensive SUV owned by a man whom the minister had just cleared of money laundering.
The affair began several months ago when Sarawak Report, a London-based NGO, alleged that in 2008 an international web of bank accounts controlled by a Kota Kinabalu timber trader named Michael Chia was funneling tens of millions of dollars into the UBS personal bank account of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman.
The Swiss publication Sonntagszeitung on Apr. 22 reported that Musa allegedly had received more than US$90 million in kickbacks from logging of tropical rainforests in Sabah and laundered the funds through UBS accounts in Hong Kong, which were then deposited in Switzerland. The newspaper reported that the Swiss Attorney General was investigating the matter.
According to the Malaysian blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, Chia reportedly was arrested in Hong Kong in 2008 with the equivalent of US$13.1 million in cash in violation of the territory’s currency policies. Chia and UMNO leaders have denied he was arrested, and Asia Sentinel has been unable to uncover any arrest documents in Hong Kong.
Sarawak Report also alleged that accounts controlled by Chia were providing regular payments to Musa’s sons when they were studying in Australia.
That is where the story turns murky. Whether or not Chia was arrested, Asia Sentinel reported in April that Hong Kong’s Independent Commission on Corruption had traced millions of dollars in nominee accounts maintained for Musa in a UBS Hong Kong branch, and passed the information on to the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission office in Kuala Lumpur. UBS refused comment to Asia Sentinel.
There it seems to have come to a stop. Sarawak Report alleged that Abdul Gani Patail, then the attorney general, stopped the investigation. Allegedly the money in the Hong Kong accounts was ordered frozen when ICAC investigators moved in, but when the three-year statute of limitations lapsed in Malaysia, the funds were believed to have been passed on to Musa’s Zurich account. The money was believed to have resulted from commissions paid on timber contracts that have resulted in denuding Sabah of vast tracts of primary forest.
The matter was brought up again by Democratic Action Party leader Lim Kit Siang during committee debates on Malaysia’s 2013 budget, which led to some interesting verbal gymnastics in which the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak denied that there had any attempt to illegally smuggle the RM40 million “donation for Sabah UMNO” into the country. He said the matter had already been explained in Parliament.
The explanation, however, seemed to wander around. Mohamad Nazri Aziz, the de facto law minister and minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said Chia had never been caught holding large sums of the currency, said to be denominated in Singapore dollars, then said the money that he was carrying was actually a contribution to the Sabah arm of UMNO to Sabah. Then Aziz said the money was actually frozen in the UBS account in Hong Kong without explaining how UMNO money ended up in a Hong Kong bank account, or why a Sabah timber trader should be carrying it in cash instead of UMNO transferring it via conventional electronic transfer.
“…when it was discovered that the cash was not corruption money but a political donation, so the question of seeking information from the Swiss government did not arise,” Nazri told Parliament in explaining why the MACC hadn’t followed up. The Attorney-General’s Chambers had cleared Musa of corruption, Nazri said, after it was discovered that the RM40 million in question was a “political donation” to the Sabah state division of UMNO, without explaining why UMNO funds would have been in a Hong Kong account, or why Chia had been carrying the cash.
The matter has broken into the open again with a revelation by Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s strategy director Rafizi Ramli, complete with documents, showing that Nazri’s son Nedim is driving around in a massive Hummer, the giant US-designed SUV built by General Motors on the chassis of the M998 Humvee used as a utility vehicle by US troops. The vehicle was registered in Michael Chia’s name.
Nazri told reporters the details on Chia’s arrest – or perhaps the lack of it – came from the MACC and the attorney general, and that he was only the minister answering questions in parliament, and that he was not involved in the investigation himself.
Confronted with Sarawak Report of his son’s use of the Hummer, Nazri acknowledged that he was a friend of Chia’s, but that he had no idea that his son was riding around in a half-million ringgit Hummer owned by the man whom he had just exonerated from currency charges on the floor of the Parliament.
What’s more, he said, he had no idea what his son was up to.
“Whether Nazri likes it or not, his son Nedim is his immediate family, and for any improper favor granted to Nedim by virtual of Nazri’s position as a minister, the latter is deemed beneficiary and recipient of that improper favor,” wrote Kim Quek, a political commentator and member of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat. ”Would Chia have given the half-million-ringgit Hummer SUV for use by Nedim’s family, if not for the fact that Nazri is a senior minister capable of doing Chia a favor?”
Nov 8: The current smear campaign against PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar is steeped in ethnic
sentiments and no different from the Zionist ideology which confuses race and religion, according to a Muslim organisation.
In a statement to Harakahdaily condemning the "irresponsible mischaracterisation" by UMNO leaders over Nurul's statement on freedom of religion as stated in the Qur'an, Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Renaissance Front said the basic premise of the campaign to vilify Nurul was against the Qur'anic principle of freedom of conscience.
"In particular, the danger lies in the unmistakably ethnic nature of the sentiments that are motivating the on-going smear campaign against her. The erroneous assumption being encouragedis that Malays can only be Muslims. This, to be sure, goes against the elementary confusion of an ethnicity with a religion.
"Here, we should pause to reflect on how that very confusion is also discernable in conservative Zionist thinking, which some Malay-Muslims who are so enraged by Nurul Izzah’s statement are also supposed to oppose," IRF said.
Nurul made a statement during a forum on the theme of Islamic state in Subang Jaya on November 3, where she was a panelist alongside PAS member of parliament Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian, head of Malay Studies Department at the National University of Singapore Dr. Syed Farid Alatas, lawyer and rights activist Malik Imtiaz, social activist Dr. Wong Chin Huat, and Christian activist and lawyer Kenny Ng.
Moderated by Dr Cyrus Das, the discussion was based on a main speech delivered by IRF director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa.
Nurul had quoted a verse from the Qur'an that there was no compulsion in religion, while saying that Muslims were still bound by the Shariah. This led to UMNO mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia accusing her of supporting apostasy among Malay-Muslims, while Islamic studies graduates alligned to the Malay party argued that freedom of religion in Islam only applied to those outside its fold.
IRF however said it made no sense to interpret the Qur'anic verse of freedom of religion as being directed only to non-Muslims.
"Those who believe that are mistaking Islam for Hotel California, where you can check out anytime you like, but can never leave," it added, quoting lyrics of the song popularised by American rock bank The Eagles.
It further lamented the absence of any argument based on sound Islamic principles in the current debate, adding that it had turned into something political.
"In that frenzy of rage, the personal has been drowned by the political. There is no Muslim condition to speak of, just enraged mobs. The only 'winners' to speak of in the meantime, are those seeking to exploit religion for ethnocentric ends," it stressed.
Calling on all quarters to "speak the truth to power", the statement cited verse 99 from Surah Yunus of the Qur'an: And [thus it is] had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them: dost thou, then, think that thou couldn’t compel people to believe.
"In other words, the belief that Malays must be made to remain Muslim goes against the principle of reason and justice – the cornerstone of Islamic epistemology," it said.
When the presidential election was finally called, the results
confirmed what most people expected - Barack Obama was returned to
office for another four years.
It was not quite the nail-biter
the media hyped it up to be, but there certainly were moments of
uncertainty and anxiety on both sides.
terms of the popular vote, Obama's margin was extremely slim, although
the electoral college system gave him a comfortable margin as he picked
up the key swing states, including Florida (where I voted).
election had a record turnout as Americans took their right to vote
seriously (with some queuing for hours) and the process carefully
monitored by observers.
The US 2012 election offers some simple
lessons on understanding electoral behaviour and what can deliver
political victory in close contests.
Women, minorities and the youth
Obama's victory shows that in order to win you have to be careful not
to alienate powerful constituencies. Among the groups that were critical
to Obama's victory, women were one of those at the top of the list.
gender gap was large - 55 percent of women supported Obama with only 44
percent voting for Romney. The reason was simple - members of Romney's
party repeatedly and disgracefully suggested that rape was legitimate
and went further to argue for the denial of a women's right to control
her own body after she was raped.
birth control and equal pay - issues at the core of women's right in
the United States - were prominent in what became a ‘gender war' in the
campaign. Ultimately, the Republicans alienated a majority of women.
did not help matters that Republicans also went on the offensive
against women candidates, crossing the line of acceptability. Previous
studies show that attacks on women politicians can backfire, especially
if they are seen as unfair or unsubstantiated.
The women that
were unfairly attacked - such as senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy
Baldwin - won in close races and were made stronger by the attacks.
is not a coincidence that this election saw an unprecedented number of
women running for Congress, and large numbers were elected, notably for
the Senate. Women also make up the majority of voters in most
They are loyal and they came out to vote. In this US election, they showed they have power! Racial undertones
It was a historic moment when an African American was elected US
president in 2008. This election may not have been a barrier breaker,
but it is perhaps even more meaningful.
re-elect an African American - a minority candidate who was vilified
disgracefully by the birther movement that challenged his citizenship in
a climate where racism was a not-so-subtle undertone in the campaign
and the economy is still recovering - illustrates that Americans are
moving toward greater tolerance.
An important facet of this
campaign is greater acceptance of minorities in political leadership and
an embrace of ethnic diversity.
Much has been written about the
end of the American dream amidst a broader economic decline. This
election suggests that this view is premature - that minorities can
rise, and be supported in their advancement. Obama's campaign this time
may not have had much of the rhetoric of hope and change, but the final
result illustrates that hope and change are very much alive.
is not to say that ethnic identity was not important in this campaign.
Racial voting played a role. African Americans came out in large numbers
to support Obama, and these numbers in part comprise the
Latinos who now comprise 16.7 percent of
the population contributed to the incumbent's victory, especially after
the Dream Act which gave citizenship to children of immigrants. Whites,
on their part, disproportionately made up the Romney base.
picture of supporters in the halls when the election was announced shows
however that there were two Americas - one embracing diversity and the
other holding onto the past of a white-majority America. Diversity won
To think that you can win without minority support in a close contest is foolhardy.
Money alone is not enough
The third group that played a vital role was young people. Many youth
were undecided. But when it came time to touch the screen, they voted
for inclusion and Obama.
His campaign continued to inspire young
people to a greater degree than his opponent. Youth disproportionately
did the ground work in the campaign and energised the campaign by making
sure the machinery stayed well-oiled.
Part of the reason that
Obama's campaign was so successful was that it relied on this network of
young people, tied together through social media and smart phones.
was the most expensive campaign in history of the US, and the
Republican campaign had millions of dollars in advantage. But in the
end, the money was not enough.
Obama did better was to get his machinery to work effectively, to reach
out and to bring people out to vote. Make no bones about it - the
election was about hard labour, not spending money.
victory speech highlighted a central tenet of his campaign approach -
the election was not about what the government could do for citizens,
rather it was about what citizens could do for others. This belief in
the power of people brought people together and assured that campaign
offices performed. Indeed, empowerment inspires people.
was also part of Obama's final campaign approach. He finished his
campaign with positive clear and dichotomous messages: Hope not hate.
Unity not division. People not politics first. Needless to say, he was
aided by Hurricane Sandy that allowed these positive messages to reach a
Graciousness in defeat Mitt
Romney showed graciousness in his concession speech and highlighted
that elections are a means toward governing. Power is not just about
acquiring it or holding onto it, but knowing how to use it and when to
let it go.
An election is judged by the actions of all sides,
and a respect for the process as a whole is essential - especially in
Obama will face a difficult second term, and he is bound
to disappoint many in the contested polarised political reality of US
politics and on the increasingly complex international stage.
does have a mandate, however, to bring people together and focus on
bringing sustainable and meaningful benefits to ordinary citizens.
election shows that the competition for power - even a fierce one -
does not have to be a zero-sum winner-take-all game. Such a competition
can open the way to compromise and empowerment, and the process itself
DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She voted for Obama by absentee ballot and received an email acknowledgment that her vote was counted.
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 (Bernama) -- Expressing concern over the threat of
liberalism and pluralism faced by Muslims in the country, Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Najib Tun RazakThursday emphasised the need to defend the
Islamic faith without compromise despite the nation sharing universal
values with various races and communities.
He said the ideology which was creeping into the country posed a threat
to the harmony and stability of religious and communal life following
misinterpretation of the concept of pluralism.
Certain quarters were evidently wrong about the concept of pluralism,
and this led to them seeing all religions as having similar values, he
said at the launch of the Malaysian Pondok Development Foundation and a
meeting with the people associated with the 'pondok' school.
Najib said it was most unfortunate that there were groups which
subscribed to this ideology, backed by stakeholders conspiring with
He also said that of late, certain quarters had hurled accusations and
irresponsible statements about Islam not founded on knowledge but merely
to fulfil a specific agenda or interest.
"It is unfortunate that their followers are easily influenced and
repeat what they have heard without understanding the true concept and
being unable to make an objective evaluation.
"A lack of knowledge, misinterpretation of the concept or deliberate
manipulation can lead to tension among the various races and followers
of different faiths," he said.
Najib urged all community leaders to exercise wisdom and prudence in
discussing any issue that can hurt the feelings of other races and
people of other faiths.
It would be good to have these things discussed through the right
channels and at controlled forums without giving vent to anger and
prejudice, he said.
"Indeed, the issue of religion is a sensitive one. So are issues associated with language, education and places of worship.
"Let's not be carried away by a liberal attitude and extreme democracy,
which do not take into account the racial feelings or sensitivities and
tension when discussing an issue openly and freely," he said.
Najib said that in the current situation, "we need to strengthen the
economic, educational and social sectors by setting aside all
differences of opinions and ideologies".
The damage at the Protestant Cemetery was due to lack of
supervision of landscaping workers tasked by the MPPP to prune and
remove trees that were affecting the old tombstones.
The work was deemed necessary as the roots of the trees were
undermining the tombstones while the tree cover had promoted the growth
An expert botanist had identified the problematic trees – just over
80 of them. Most were for pruning and less than a quarter for removal.
The project was undertaken by the George Town World Heritage Inc
while the actual work of pruning/removal of the trees was carried out by
the MPPP’s landscaping department.
A private contractor was tasked with removing 14 trees while the remainder were handled by the MPPP.
The cemetery has about 400 tombs, not all of them identifiable.
Francis Light, who took possession of Penang Island for the East India
Company, must have turned in his grave as the excavator snorted and
World War II resulted in a section of the cemetery being destroyed,
and some of the damaged tombstones in this section were later embedded
into a section of the cemetery wall.
Apparently, following a trip to Singapore, then chief minister, Dr
Lim Chong Eu, ordered many open spaces around Penang to be used as
nurseries for roadside trees. The damaged section of the cemetery, by
then an unused open space, was used to plant some saplings – which in
hindsight, was not a brilliant move. (The place originally had only a
row of frangipani trees.)
While the work to remove those trees was being carried out, an aghast
heritage enthusiast who spotted what was happening spoke to the workers
about their reckless methods. “But there was utter disregard (for these
concerns),” said the enthusiast.
Photos later showed several cracked, shattered or chipped tombstones. These will now have to be somehow restored.
There are lessons to be learned from this unhappy episode. Workers
have to be trained in such heritage restoration and maintenance work,
they have to be meticulous and careful, and there must be very close
supervision of the contractors and their workers.
If those tasked with carrying out the work are found to be incapable
of handling the job to satisfaction, then it would be better to call off
the work altogether rather than risk inflicting more damage than if
Nature had taken its course.