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Thursday, November 15, 2012

One shot dead at Tehatta Police Firing. West Bengal Police again played an anti Hindu Role by negating Puja Permission and created a Hindu unrest.

Trigger Happy Police of Mamata Banerjee gunned down one Hindu in a protest rally over not giving a permission of 20 years old Jagaddhatri Puja.

Tehatta, [Input from HE News Bureau Nadia], West Bengal | 14th Nov. 2012 :: Enough is Enough. Again Hindus are attacked by Police of West Bengal under the instruction of strangle down even a slight Hindu sentiment to extravagantly appease the Muslim demands by cutting down religious rights of Hindus in every foot step. Hindus are thrashed down to an intolerable position which is bound to such a retaliation that can be death sign of the ruling TMC (All India Trinmool Congress) Govt in West Bengal.

Today, one Sri Ashol Sen was shot down while other three were injured ( one of them in critical condition) in police firing at Tehatta in Nadia district of West Bengal on Wednesday morning. Local channels showed footage of policemen firing into the crowds from rooftops. The trouble started around 8 am when Hindus of the area blocked road on Krishnanagar-Karimpur State Highway, protesting the police’s refusal to allow them hold a twenty years old Jagadhatri Puja at a particular location near Howlia. Police first lathicharged and charged tear gas the crowd without any provocation as a dispersing method which then turned the protesters violent and they set at least six police vehicles on fire. Additional Director of Police, law and order, Surajit Kar Purkayastha confirmed three rounds of police firing in a press briefing in Writers’ Buildings in the afternoon.

As per report, the person who was killed in the police firing was identified as Ashok Sen, a local resident. For last few days, tension was mounting over negating a permission of a Jagaddhatri Puja near Howlia area. Locals alleged that police refused to grant permission for very old Jagaddhatri Puja for security reason. Actually, the Muslims of the area has raised a objection the Puja nearby a Muslim populated area. Tehatta Subdivision has four blocks where the Muslim population is a majority. The aggrieved Hindus and the Businessmen Association of Tehatta called a bandh on Wednesday also.

The police first tried to refute the incident of ‘Police Firing’, but due to the clear telecast of firing on various channels, Police could not conceal the matter and confirmed ’Police Firing’ after a long seven hours of the tragic incident. Five Hindus are arrested under the charges of violence, over ten Hindus are under treatment, but the eight injured police personnel (as claimed by the police authority) are nowhere seen in any treatment centres. Processions and meetings in the area have been also banned. A heavy Police contingent and Rapid Action Force have been deployed in the disturbed area to control the situation, as reported. Some sources said that the SDPO, Tehatta, Dr. S. Shah (Land Phone: 03471-250202/Mobile: 9051272100) ordered himself the firing caused the situation more violent

Incidentally, in the last year the same Nadia Police shot down a Hindu House wife over a Durga Immersion procession route dispute on Vijaya Dashami day. The changing demographic situation in Nadia by unchecked Muslim population and Muslim infiltration from neighbouring Bangladesh are a great harm for the loosing Hindus in this district in general.

Radical Clerics Seek to Legalise Child Brides

A Salafi rally in Cairo. Islamist leaders are pushing to reduce Egypt's legal marriage age for girls, some arguing for as low as nine. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.
A Salafi rally in Cairo. Islamist leaders are pushing to reduce Egypt's legal marriage age for girls, some arguing for as low as nine. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.

CAIRO, Nov 14 2012 (IPS) - An ultraconservative Salafi cleric recently sparked outrage among Egypt’s liberal circles when he attempted to justify his opposition to a proposed constitutional article that would outlaw the trafficking of women for sex.

Speaking on privately-owned Al-Nas satellite channel, Sheikh Mohamed Saad El-Azhary said he feared the proposed article could conflict with the local practice of child marriage. He explained that in Egypt, particularly in rural areas, there is a culture of marrying off girls as soon as they hit puberty.

“The important thing is that the girl is ready and can tolerate marriage,” El-Azhary declared.

He went on to protest proposed laws protecting women from violence, warning that if allowed to pass husbands could be prosecuted for beating their child brides or forcing themselves upon them.

“If you have intercourse with your wife against her will, she will be able to file a complaint against you,” he said. “That’s where things are headed.”

Followers of the Salafi trend believe in a literal reading of the Quran and hadith (traditions of Prophet Muhammad) and aspire to emulate the lifestyle of the Prophet and his companions. Their puritanical approach to Islam has put them at odds with secular Muslims and minority groups, who denounce their intolerant worldview.

For Salafis, the fundamental justification for child marriage is passages in the hadith that state Prophet Muhammad married his third wife when she was six years old, and consummated the marriage after her first menses at nine.

Sheikh Yasser Borhamy, spokesman for the Salafi Dawah, outlined his interpretation of the Quranic texts during an interview with TV presenter Wael El-Ebrashy. He argued that Egypt’s marriage laws contradict the provisions of Sharia (Islamic law), as girls should be married off once they reach puberty, or before “if she can”.

“If Islam allowed it during the Prophet’s time, it will be permissible until the End of Days,” Borhamy asserted.

While Salafis represent just a small but vocal minority of Egyptians, the recent election of an Islamist parliament and president has extended their political clout.

But what deeply concerns child rights advocates is that El-Azhary and Borhamy are members of the committee tasked with drafting Egypt’s new constitution. And they are not alone. Other members of the Islamist-stacked panel are known to share their views on child marriage and may be attempting to enshrine them in the constitution.

“We fought for years to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls (from 16) to 18, and now the Islamists want to lower it,” says women’s rights activist Azza Kamel. “There are Salafis arguing it should be as low as nine.”
Some battles may have already been lost.

When a copy of the constitution’s first draft circulated last month, rights advocates were shocked to find that a proposed clause banning the trafficking of women had been omitted. Salafi members of the drafting committee had argued to have it removed on the grounds that human trafficking “does not exist in Egypt” and its mere mention “tarnishes Egypt’s image.”

International agencies strongly disagree. According to a 2010 report by the U.S. State Department, human trafficking exists at many levels in Egypt. The country is a transit point and destination for trafficked African and Asian women and children, who are subjected to forced labour and prostitution.

It is also a source of trafficked women, including young girls exploited under the guise of marriage.

Local NGO Memphis Foundation for Development says the phenomenon of child marriage is widespread in Egypt, particularly in rural areas where parents often marry off their daughters early to escape grinding poverty. Research conducted in 2008 found that nearly a quarter of all marriages involved girls under 16.

Afaf Marei, director of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE), says many of these underage girls are sold by their parents to wealthy Gulf Arabs who come to Egypt in search of “summer brides”.

The marriages are arranged by lawyers who act as brokers, and may last from hours to months according to the “dowry” paid to the parents. Often the transaction is made without the girl’s knowledge or consent.

“These marriages are a form of trafficking women (under the pretence of) Islamic law,” says Marei.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the conservative Islamic group that dominated this year’s parliamentary and presidential polls, has kept a low profile in the discourse on child marriage. While some reformists in the group reject the practice, its hardline leaders were the principal opponents of the 2008 law that raised the minimum marriage age of girls to 18.

Now, as pressure mounts on the constitutional drafting body to have the document ready by a Dec. 12 deadline, the Brotherhood’s weight could prove decisive both on the panel and at the polls. If the constitution goes to a referendum without a clause explicitly banning the trafficking of women, it is likely to pass given the Brotherhood’s ability to rally public support, say liberal activists.

“We’re fighting to win, but rationally I don’t think we can,” concedes Amal Abdel Hadi, head of the New Women Foundation. “This is just one battle and we’re fighting the Islamists on even greater issues such as (to guarantee) the equality of citizenship.” (END)

‘Destroy the idols,’ Egyptian jihadist calls for removal of Sphinx, Pyramids

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”  (Courtesy: Dream TV)
Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.” (Courtesy: Dream TV)

By AL ARABIYA

An Egyptian jihad leader, with self-professed links to the Taliban, called for the “destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt,” drawing ties between the Egyptian relics and Buddha statues, local media reported this week.

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”

“All Muslims are charged with applying the teachings of Islam to remove such idols, as we did in Afghanistan when we destroyed the Buddha statues,” he said on Saturday during a television interview on an Egyptian private channel, widely watched by Egyptian and Arab audiences.

“God ordered Prophet Mohammed to destroy idols,” he added. “When I was with the Taliban we destroyed the statue of Buddha, something the government failed to do.”

His comments came a day after thousands of ultraconservative Islamists gathered in Tahrir Square to call for the strict application of Sharia law in the new constitution.

But in retaliation to Gohary’s remarks, the vice president of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, called the live program and told Gohary that famous historic military commander Amr ibn al-Aas did not destroy statues when he conquered Egypt.

“So who are you to do it?” he wondered. “The Prophet destroyed the idols because people worshiped them, but the Sphinx and the Pyramids are not worshiped.”

Gohary, 50, is well-known in Egypt for his advocacy of violence, Egypt Independent reported.

“He was sentenced twice, one of the two sentences being life imprisonment. He subsequently fled Egypt to Afghanistan, where he was badly injured in the American invasion. In 2007, he traveled from Pakistan to Syria, which then handed him over to Egypt. After Mubarak's fall in early 2011, he was released from prison by a judicial ruling,” the newspaper added.

In recent months, fears have surfaced that the ultra-conservative Salafi political powers may soon wish to debate new guidelines over Egyptian antiquities.

Islamists have swept the recent presidential and parliamentary elections in the country’s post-revolutionary stage, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists rising to political power.

“The fundamental Salafis have demanded to cover Pharaonic statues, because they regard them to be idols,” Egyptian author on ancient history Ahmed Osman told Al Arabiya English, explaining that Salafi Muslims follow conservative religious principles which view statues and sculptures as prohibited in Islam.

“But so far the government has done nothing to indicate what is the future of Egyptian antiquities,” adds Osman.

Many hope that Egypt’s new President Mohammed Mursi will help usher better preservation of Egypt’s proud cultural heritage. Egyptian officials have recently announced the country will reveal more of its ancient buried treasures.

The tomb of Queen Meresankh III, the granddaughter of Khufu, of Great Pyramid fame, is set to be opened to tourists later this year, with the last resting places of five high priests also slated to be put on show.

Officials are also believed to be reopening the underground Serapeum temple at Sakkara, to the south of Cairo.

[Related article: The Jinx of the Sphinx: How Egypt’s ‘exploited’ past came full circle: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/09/11/237360.html]

Kamalanathan demands Liu's apology

BN’s Hulu Selangor parliamentarian P Kamalanathan has sent a lawyer’s letter to Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu, demanding an apology for remarks linking him to the disputed 29-storey condominium project near the Batu Caves, Selayang.
NONELiu (right) confirmed receipt of the letter at his office today, saying his personal assistant had accepted it on his behalf.

“But I have not done anything yet (as) I will be discussing the matter with my lawyer Gobind Singh Deo,” he said.

At a press conference following an exco meeting in Shah Alam, Liu said Kamalanathan will seek RM1 million in damages if the apology is not tendered by noon on Nov 19.

Kamalanathan was quoted in The Star today as clarifying that he had served as Selayang councillor only from 2004 to 2006, while the condominium project had been raised for discussion and approval in 2007.
Kamalanathan said Liu's statement had implied that the former and Senator A Kohilan Pillay of Gerakan were among those who approved of the project.

Both Kamalanathan and Kohilan have denied the matter in their respective police reports.

Batu Caves condo - 'Guilty parties will face justice'

The prime minister's rousing pledge to stop the 29-storey condominium project planned next to Batu Caves has only strengthened the Selangor government’s resolve to “undo the previous BN government's negligence”.

NONEIn a statement today, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government will not only correct BN's mistakes, it will also bring those responsible for “negligence and abuse” to justice.

“The people of Selangor must weigh the PM's ‘promise’ carefully, considering that it was the BN-led Selangor government which approved the project,” he said.

“We put the people's interests first and will not hesitate to take any party to justice, if any form of negligence or abuse is found.”

NONEKhalid also said it was “unprofessional” of premier and BN head Najib Abdul Razak (right) to vow to cancel the project if the BN wrests power from Pakatan in Selangor in the upcoming general election.

He said this clearly shows that Najib is merely seeking popularity and has no interest in solving the problem.

“His statement ... has a negative impact on good governance and integrity ... as the cancellation of any (approved) project must follow procedures,” noted Khalid.

“Najib's behaviour has motivated the Selangor government to administer (the state) in a more professional, transparent and responsible manner compared to the inconsistent BN.”

Head of review panel appointed

Khalid announced that the state government will appoint former Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) director N Sadasivan to chair a committee that will review the condominium project.

NONESadasivan was chosen as he is experienced in matters of management, and has held directorships in prominent organisations like Bank Negara Malaysia, Danaharta Nasional Bhd and Petronas.
“He will be assisted by several committee members, to be announced at a later time, consisting of professionals and independent parties who will assist the government in handling this issue,” he said.

Selangor town and country planning department deputy director Norasiah Bee will act as the committee secretary, while the department will provide any assistance required.

“I will meet with Sadasivan and the other committee members this week to inform of them of this decision,” Khalid said.

Among others, he said, the committee will review all development projects that have been completed and planned in the Batu Caves area, taking into consideration community well being, Hindu interests, environment and prevailing regulations.

“The state feels that this committee will be able to add value to the effort to have the Batu Caves listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site,” he added.

Zaid Ibrahim on Islam and racial politics


"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." - Dwight D Eisenhower

INTERVIEW The following is the second of a two-part interview with former de facto law minister and ex-Parti Kita chief Zaid Ibrahim. The first part appeared yesterday.

Pakatan has positioned itself as a ‘moderate' voice of Islam. As a strategic move, do you think it would be better to remain silent or clearly state positions even though it may result in blowback from the extremist elements, namely the propaganda mouthpiece and politicians of Umno?

Whether Pakatan is a moderate voice, we have to wait and see. The test is not whether they allow non-Muslims sufficient freedom; that's easy, but whether they will be "moderate" to Muslims.

I always believe it's better to state the right positions clearly and unambiguously on core delicate issues even if it means we have to "lose" some support in the beginning. Politics is not just winning; but about doing the right thing. Long-term goals are equally important.

What do you think of (PKR vice-president) Nurul (Izzah Anwar)'s comments on Islam and what are your own views on the subject (of compulsion and Malay identity)?

Hudud forum Nurul IzzahIslam in Malaysia will not allow a Malay to be a non-Muslim. Some Islamic scholars however say that there is no compulsion in the religion. But scholars have no influence in Malaysia; only religious bureaucrats.

Nurul is brave to express an opinion; but in Malaysia, Muslims have no right to an opinion on their own religion. They can be punished. Only the state can issue opinions.

Do you believe that Islam has intruded into the public sphere at the expense of democratic principles?

It's not Islam that has intruded into public sphere. It is the proponent of tyranny and fascist leaders that have used religion to control the apparatus of the state. Democracy and the rule of law are endangered when you allow such leaders to continue to rule.

Communal issues are major issues of the political process here; do you think that Pakatan has done enough to change this paradigm?

Pakatan strategy is clear - do not talk too much about difficult issues; let's get to power first. So that's how it will be. Whilst that is not the approach I would take, I recognise that politics require many different approaches to succeed.

I just hope that when they get to power; they will not forget that many hard decisions have to be made. If they then said we will wait to win the second term before we do them; then I say let's remove them.

So yes, they have not come up with substantive plans to change the political paradigm of the country.

Is there a difference between the racial politics of BN and Pakatan?

Racial politics in BN is clear and blatant led by Umno, whereas racial politics in Pakatan are more diffused and somewhat sheltered by religion and meritocracy.

What is your opinion on affirmative action programmes and do you think it nurtures a culture of entitlement?

Affirmative programmes carefully structured and guided by transparent principles and good governance can be a useful tool to help the poor and the marginalised community.

The problem we have is that the Malays no longer see affirmative policies as privileges to be given on the need basis; but as their rights. Which Malay leaders we have now who will dare to explain to them otherwise?

Do you think that affirmative action programmes contributed to the ghettoisation of the public and private sectors along racial lines?

NONEThe problem we have is the inability of some leaders to see the long-term pernicious effects of discrimination. They want instant gratification and support and so they tell the Malays they have special rights. When you take that path, you then will not see you are practicing discrimination.

Only enlightened Malay leaders can tell the difference between outright discrimination and affirmative support programmes. The Chinese then retaliate and would gang up and support each other, thereby making the situation worse.

It's only the Indians and other natives who are left alone; desolate and poor.

A recent survey highlighted the racial discrimination practices of the private sector. Do you think that it is the role of government through legislation to even the playing field in the private sector?

Discrimination in the workplace is rampant in the country. It's to be expected that when the Malay-led government practices discrimination in the public service, there will be a similar response in the Chinese-dominated private sector.

A responsible government must take all steps to end discrimination; otherwise, Malaysia will never achieve its true potential. It may even sow the seeds of future instability. Legislation is required for this purpose.

What is the one piece of legislation that is desperately needed in Malaysia?

If there is one piece of legislation we needed most, it's the Freedom of Information Act. When governments can operate under secrecy as they do now, corruption and abuse of power will continue, regardless who comes to power.

It's only when the leaders know the rakyat can see what they are doing will things improve.

How does a neophyte political party like Kita survive in a personality driven political scene when its star attraction has stepped down from its presidency?

NONEKita is a new party. Its survival like all other political parties depends on its political beliefs. The party is structured differently. We don't have a president. We have a party chief who can be anyone of the 25 central committee members.

I have explained that I want to be spared the task of managing the organisation and focus more on the development of political ideas. I am not stepping down, just doing different things.

Writer's epilogue

That old adage that you judge a man by his actions not words is indictment and praise for a politician like Zaid. Against Umno, he stuck to his principles when it mattered and suffered the consequences for his action, which puts him in the league of those Pakatan leaders who have done the same.

However, he also engaged in an unnecessary bloodletting with his former comrades that gave ammunition to the current regime in its vendetta against any who stand in its way. The real question is not whether Zaid has burnt his bridges but whether he will be allowed to build new ones.

Part 1: Can Pakatan ‘trust' Zaid enough to re-embrace him?

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

‘Get tough on errant civil servants’

Auditor-General Ambrin Buang advises the government to send a strong message to public servants about its seriousness in punishing those who flout laws and guidelines.

PETALING JAYA: The Public Service Department (PSD) should come down hard on errant civil servants and not let them off with mere slaps on the wrists.

Auditor-General Ambrin Buang said that the PSD should regularly monitor the disciplinary committees of each government department so that punishments being meted out are adequate.

“… so that a strong message is sent to public servants that for serious cases of negligence the offenders will be severely dealt with and they will not get away with just an inconsequential verbal warning,” he said.

Ambrin was speaking to FMT via a recent e-mail interview, where he responded to various issues, including the most recent, the 2011 Auditor-General’s Report, tabled in Parliament in mid-October.

On criticisms that his department was “toothless” in resolving the irregularities that have been highlighted annually, Ambrin said that while it has no powers to impose punishment, other agencies should take up those responsibilities.

“It is true that the department has no power to impose punishment. Punishment for criminal offences like fraud and corruption lies with the courts if the public prosecutor is successful in prosecuting offenders based on investigation by authorities like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission [MACC] or the police.”

Ambrin added that for non-criminal cases, the Treasury can impose surcharges or the various disciplinary boards of ministries and agencies can mete appropriate punishment under existing disciplinary procedures.

Asked about his position on open tenders, Ambrin stressed that open tenders, where suitable, should be preferred over direct purchase or direct negotiation.

However, the size of purchase or project needs to be considered when determining the type of tender process.

“For small amounts it is practical to use direct purchase or through price quotations as currently the practice; otherwise it becomes time-consuming. But it must be done with a high level of integrity and diligence so that the government will get the best deal in terms of price and quality,” he said.

Possible loopholes

Ambrin also reiterated that he wanted the government to re-examine the existing process to “plug possible loopholes” in terms of procurement processes.

“The government should re-examine the existing process to plug the possible loopholes and to strengthen internal controls, for example by ensuring internal audit to monitor the departmental procurement process more closely,” he said.

Previously, Ambrin suggested the government rethink its procurement system which no longer goes through the Accountant-General’s Office. Now it only relies on internal controls within ministries to ensure proper spending of public funds.

Ambrin had said that internal checks would not be able to stop those who wanted to “cheat”.

“Last time, you used to receive queries from the Accountant-General if something was not proper. I think that’s one of the weaknesses of the [new] system, especially if people don’t have integrity. So maybe the government should look at this. But, under the new system that has been in place for the past few years, the document is sent to just the ministry or department,” the New Sunday Times had quoted him as saying.

Ambrin also gave his take of the country’s performance since he began serving as the Auditor-General in 2006.

He said his department has noted two areas where both the federal government and state governments “have shown encouraging improvement”.

Opinions based facts

“Firstly is the reduction in the number of agencies given a qualified audit certificate. This means that more and more agencies are able to prepare their accounts according to government accounting principles.”

“Secondly is the increasing number of departments/agencies given excellent rating in their Accountability Index. For example, 111 departments/agencies were rated excellent in 2011 compared with 10 in 2007. This means that the degree of compliance with government financial regulations has improved significantly.”

However, Ambrin said that audit findings would normally find weaknesses by public servants discharging their responsibilities.

“Most of these weaknesses could be avoided if they are not only aware of government guidelines and procedures but actually comply with those guidelines and procedures. Our hope is that our audit findings can serve as lessons learned so that these weaknesses will not be repeated.”

“This can happen if public servants are conscious of the need to do their work with integrity and mindful that they will be audited.”

He rubbished suggestions that the Auditor-General’s Report was “toned down” or “edited”, saying: “As always, we endeavour to do our work as an independent and professional organisation without any interference by anybody and certainly not influenced by political events, like elections. We based our opinions strictly on facts and not on emotions, and as objective as possible.”

He also explained about the supposed “delay” in the report being tabled.

“Yes I have signed the report much earlier but after that there is the process of obtaining the consent from the King and to inform the Cabinet, together with the report from the Treasury regarding the feedback from the various ministries and agencies on our findings.

“After that we need time to print the report to be forwarded to Parliament and the state legislatures. We tabled our report together with the Treasury’s report. Our report was tabled about two weeks after the budget speech for the past three years because the government wanted sufficient time for MPs to debate the budget.”

Govt unjust to Muslims too, says report

A study says there’s a culture of taboos at the expense of the right to religious freedom.

PETALING JAYA: Both Muslims and non-Muslims face discrimination from Malaysian authorities in the practice and propagation of their beliefs, according to a UK-based study.

The study, conducted by international human rights organisation Equal Rights Trust (ERT) and local rights group Tenaganita, found that Muslims who express beliefs not approved by “official interpreters of Islam” face discrimination from the state and federal government due to provisions in the constitution.

“In the Malaysian context, the belief that only the religiously learned (the ulama) are entitled to opine on religious matters in Islam has created a culture of taboos at the expense of the right to freedom of religion without discrimination,” said a report from the study.

“Today, those Muslims who do not follow the officially sanctioned religion can face persecution.

“As Sunni Islam is the officially accepted branch of Islam in Malaysia, any other forms, practices or schools of Islamic thoughts are vulnerable to being classified deviant.”

The government maintains an official list of 56 sects of Islam it considers deviant and a threat to national security. The list includes Shi’a Islam.

“The government, upon approval by a Syariah court, may detain Muslims who deviate from accepted Sunni principles and subject them to mandatory ‘rehabilitation’ in centres that teach and enforce government approved Islamic practices,” said the report.

In the case of non-Muslims, it said, Article 11 (4) of the Federal Constitution had been used to place discriminatory restrictions on the religious freedoms of Christians, including the freedom to propagate their beliefs.

Article 11(4) states that “state law and, in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.”

This article was used against Christians to ostensibly prevent them from proselytising to Muslims and threatening the supremacy of Islam in Malaysia, the report said.

Arrests

“Laws prohibiting the proselytisation by non-Muslims were reportedly used by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department to suppress the activities of the Damansara Utama Methodist Church,” it said.

“In 2009, nine Christians were arrested by Malaysian police at Universiti Putra Malaysia … for allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.”

Article 11 (4) is also the basis upon which state laws have prohibited the use of words and phrases by non-Muslims, the report revealed.

“The Malaysian government has banned the use of the word ‘Allah’ by other religions, on the basis that Muslims would be confused by the use of ‘Allah’ in other religious publications.”

This led to the 2009 seizure of 35,000 copies of the Malaysian-language Bible, which the government finally released two years later on condition that each copy was stamped with the phrase “Not for Muslims”.

Non-Muslims continue to be prohibited from using the word “Allah” pending an appeal made by the government over the High Court’s decision in 2009, which granted a Catholic organisation the use of the word when referring to God in its newspaper.

In February this year, a concert by Grammy-award winning US singer Erykah Badu was cancelled because a publicity photograph showed her with a tattoo with the word “Allah” in Arabic.

Non-Islamic religions also face obstacles in establishing and maintaining places of worship, the report said, citing the destruction in 2006 of several Hindu temples, some of them almost two centuries old.

“In 2007, authorities demolished the 100 year old Maha Mariamman Hindu Temple in Padang Jawa, Selangor, and reportedly assaulted its chief priest.

“Later that year, the Sri Periyachi Amman Temple in Tambak Paya, Malacca state, was demolished by local authorities to make way for a development project.”

The report also said Christians in Malaysia often found it difficult to obtain a permit to build churches and faced restrictions with regard to the functioning of churches.

“For example, the ringing of church bells has been forbidden in some cases,” it added.

The report urged the government to repeal Article 11 and a host of other discriminatory provisions in the Federal Constitution, including articles 9, 10, 14, 15, 24, 26, 89, 153 and 161.

Time for Indians to seek change

After 55 years of BN rule, do the Indian community want more of the same?
COMMENT

With December still being touted as a possible month for holding the 13th general election, ground reports are filtering in pertaining to voter support.

The Chinese have made up their mind to vote for Pakatan Rakyat while PAS is gaining ground among the Malays. The urban folks in Sabah and Sarawak will support the opposition and now all that is left is the Indian vote.

Some reports have put the Indian vote as 50:50 while other reports have put it as 54% in favour of Barisan Nasional. Whatever it is, it is still not solid.

It seems that the Indians are still in two minds whether or not to give their vote to Pakatan.

“The Indians must realise that MIC is already irrelevant. Otherwise, why is [Prime Minister] Najib [Tun Razak] instructing Nazri to talk to Hindraf in regard to obtaining Indian support? MIC must preserve its dignity by leaving BN,” said M Manogaran, DAP’s Teluk Intan MP.

Manogaran said that it is surely a great blow to MIC when Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz has been given the task to negotiate with Hindraf instead of MIC leaders.

“BN must be really desperate enough to woo Hindraf now,” added Manogaran.

It must be said, however, that Indians gained more recognition from Pakatan than from BN. Consider this list of DAP’s Indian MPs and state assemblymen:

MPs

1. P Ramasamy (Batu Kawan, Penang)

2. M Kula Segaran (Ipoh Barat, Perak)

3. M Manogaran (Teluk Intan, Perak)

4. Charles Santiago (Klang, Selangor)

5. John Fernandez (Seremban, Negeri Sembilan)

State assemblymen

1. P Ramasamy (Prai, Penang, Deputy Chief Minister II)

2. A Tanasekharan (Bagan Dalam, Penang)

3. RSN Rayer (Sri Delima, Penang)

4. A Sivasubramaniam (Buntong, Perak)

5. V Sivakumar (Tronoh, Perak, former Perak Speaker)

6. A Sivanesan (Sungkai, Perak)

7. M Manoharan (Kota Alam Shah, Selangor)

8. S Veerapan (Rapah, Negeri Sembilan)

9. K Arumugam (Rahang, Negeri Sembilan)

10. P Gunasekaran (Senawang, Negeri Sembilan)

The Teluk Intan MP may also be moved to a Kuala Lumpur seat in light of DAP stalwart Karpal Singh’s “one-man one-seat” proposal.

Time to make a choice

There are also Indian lawmakers from PKR. As for PAS, it has fielded an Indian candidate in Johor in the previous general election but she lost.

It is time that the Indians realised that although MIC had helped them a lot, that was a long time ago. The time has come for the Indians to make a choice for something better and those who are among the hardcore poor should come to the realisation that piecemeal assistance will not lead them out of poverty.

While many Chinese youths who are jobless will resort to going overseas in search of jobs in orchards or supermarkets, we seldom hear of this type of venture among the Indian youths.

The reaction of the Indians is predictable. They will make some noise to air their grouses and when the government says, “We will look into it,” they will quieten down and things will be as before.

Things will never change if it is the same old government with its same old way of administration. The situation can only be improved if there is a change of guard.

Indians must be brave enough to make a choice for change because continuity with the present incumbent government leads nowhere.

As it is, corruption is rife and crime is rampant. Not only the Indians but all Malaysians must be courageous enough to change their mindset. There is no need to fear the unknown.

In fact, Pakatan is not really an alien entity as it is the state government in Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Selangor and also for about 11 months in Perak.

Still marginalised

Here is a short story this columnist came across some time ago by an anonymous author advising us not to be deceived when making important decisions. Roughly it goes like this:

A man who has died was asked by God if he wanted to go to Heaven or Hell. He said that he was unsure and wanted to take a look at both places first before making a decision. So he was transported to Heaven where he saw an idyllic village life: boys were playing football in the field and people were chatting happily in the al fresco foodstalls by the roadside. Women were drying out their washing and everything was very ordinary.

Next, he was transported to Hell. There was fine dining in an expensive restaurant with lobsters and caviar on the menu while pretty and sexy young ladies with plunging necklines were the waitresses.

Then it was time to make a decision.

“Where do you want to go?” God asked the man.

“Hell,” he replied firmly, thinking that Heaven was too boring a place for him.

“Are you sure?” God asked him.

“Sure, I am absolutely sure,” he answered.

“Really, really sure?” God asked him again.

“Of course, I am 100% sure,” answered the man without any hesitation and a little bit annoyed at being asked the same question again. And so he heard a loud bang and he landed in Hell.

But what he saw was parched, arid land with big cracks and small fires here and there. There was no food or water in sight except some very smelly rubbish. There were also many demons hopping around.

He called the Devil and asked for an explanation, “What is the meaning of this? I was in Hell earlier and there was fine dining and sexy ladies but now it is totally different. Can you explain what is going on?”

The Devil replied, “What you saw earlier was our campaign to you.”

It is time for Indians to see the real facts and figures.

After 55 years, many Indians are still marginalised although there are Indians who have made good in the law and medical professions. Do Indians want to wait another 55 years?

Selena Tay is a FMT columnist.

Makkal Sakti!


Nicole Tan Lee Koon

I would like to comment on Aspan Alias latest article Kalau terasa akan kalah, biarkan sahaja Parlimen terbubar dengan sendirinya (READ HERE). In his article, he commented on how desperate BN are that they have to make use of the army and NGOs to organise their political functions in order to make the crowd. BN ended up spending the taxpayer's money to fund these programmes.

Compare this to PR's recently held Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat. There were no free food and lucky draws. 30,000 people came and supported us despite the rain!

I attended a Pakatan rally in Gemas for the launching of the NS manifesto in January this year. There were 6,000 people in the field with no free food or lucky draws. Most of them were sitting on the ground as there were no chairs provided. http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/01/16/anwar-a-hit-in-umno-stronghold/

I can still remember how effective Mat Sabu was. He greeted the crowd. Most importantly, he greeted the army and police personnel surrounding the area sent to keep a surveillance on the rally. He asked them how much they were paid and whether they have to pay interest for their housing and car loans. Then he told them that NFC took a RM250 million "loan" with no interest and need not pay back the government. He then asked them was that fair. He then told them not to risk their lives protecting people like that.

This is a very important point which we need to understand and share with fellow Malaysians. The wicked BN government will resort to the 3Rs (Race, Religion, Rulers) to divide and rule. It worked in 1969 when May 13th happened due to a racial riot. It worked in 1999 when most Chinese abandoned the opposition due to MCA's Islamic state scare tactics.

Now, they are using the rulers to come after us. See Quantity Surveyor, Ahmad Abd Jalil's case in Johor. See Nurul Izzah, how one ruler and one prince have come out to chastise Nurul Izzah. I am sure we can still remember what Madey said during the Rulers' confrontation in 1993. Here is some excerpts : http://malaysiansmustknowthetruth.blogspot.com/2012/08/heres-what-dr-m-said-about-rulers-in-93.html. They were utterly seditious.

For e.g., Madey said, "The Government is forced to take a firm stand to protect the people from being oppressed by the Rajas. Certainly, this stand was not made because of just these two incidents alone. There have previously been many incidents where the Rajas oppressed the people, the Rajas broke civil and criminal laws, the Rajas misused Government and national funds and assets, the Rajas pressuring and oppressing government officials. The incident in Johor is only, with your permission, ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. The people’s reaction to these incidents clearly shows that they no longer accept and ‘tolerate’ these kind of acts".

The wicked BN may even resort to another evil plan to cause a riot of some sort in the event they lose the next general elections. Fear not! We outnumber them. We are being ruled by a minority, i.e. small group of elites in UMNO (as MCA and MIC are all yesmen). We can avoid this possibility if we can stand united to fight and oppose them. Makkal Sakti! People's Power!

Is the evidence that, in invoking the curse of God, Najib lied, at hand?


[KENYATAAN MEDIA] Isu Kenyataan YB Nurul Izzah Mengenai ‘Tiada Paksaan Dalam Agama’

Wahai orang-orang yang beriman! jika datang kepada kamu seorang fasik membawa sesuatu berita, maka selidikilah (untuk menentukan) kebenarannya, supaya kamu tidak menimpakan sesuatu kaum dengan perkara yang tidak diingini – Dengan sebab kejahilan kamu (mengenainya) – sehingga menjadikan kamu menyesali apa Yang kamu telah lakukan.” (Al-Quran, Al-hujurat: 6).
 
Ayat di atas mengajar kita agar berhati-hati dalam menerima berita dari orang-orang fasik. Seorang Muslim Al Walid bin Uqbah bin Abi Mu’id diutuskan oleh Nabi Muhammad saw melakukan suatu tugasan ke Kampung Bani Mustaliq.  Al Walid menyangkakan mereka sudah murtad lalu segera pulang ke Madinah melaporkan kepada Baginda Nabi apa yang ditanggapinya. Hasilnya, baginda mengarahkan Khalid al Walid bersama anggota tenteranya bertindak terhadap kampung tersebut. Namun, selepas melakukan risikan, Khalid Al Walid mendapati bahawa mereka tidaklah murtad sebagaimana didakwa. Ini dilaporkan kepada Rasulullah. Diketika inilah ayat ini diturunkan sebagai teguran dan panduan buat orang beriman dalam menerima khabar berita dari orang fasik.

Media-media utama tertentu milik pemerintah UMNO dan Barisan Nasional  telahpun kerap didapati bersalah oleh mahkamah kerana melaporkan berita yang tidak tepat, berunsur  fitnah dan sengaja diputar belitkan.  Pemimpin-pemimpin organisasi berita ini sendiri mengesahkan bahawa harus diputarbelit sesuatu berita demi mendokong aspirasi parti yang menjadi pemiliknya.

KEADILAN melihat bahawa  serangan menggila terhadap Naib Presiden Parti YB Nurul Izzah,  yang sedang berlaku sekarang ini adalah langkah terbaru UMNO dalam percubaan mengembalikan sokongan dan kepercayaan rakyat yang semakin terhakis. Hampir kesemua pemimpin tertinggi mereka memberikan ulasan semborono ‘bagaikan menunda najis yang hanyut’.  Media milik mereka dengan sengaja membentuk persepsi yang tidak betul mengenai apa yang dinyatakan oleh YB Nurul Izzah.  Kemudiannya, dengan sengaja pula komen-komen berdasarkan persepsi yang salah ini disebar dan dijajakan.

Amatlah jelas, UMNO sedang begitu tertekan dan desperado.  UMNO gagal menghakis  tanggapan buruk rakyat terhadap dirinya dalam pelbagai jenayah dan pengkhianatan terhadap rakyat dan Negara – penyelewengan SPR, NFC, Lynas, BERSIH, Kugan, Teo Beng Hock dan sebagainya.  Isu terbaru yang paling menekan adalah skandal RM40 juta yang melibatkan beberapa menteri kanan UMNO. Ia begitu hangat diperkatakan ketika ini. Disaat kritikal inilah, kenyataan YB Nurul Izzah yang diputarbelitkan itu dijadikan isu besar untuk mengalih perhatian rakyat.

Sesungguhnya, kenyataan spontan dan bersahaja YB Nurul Izzah pada majlis berkaitan adalah secara umum dan memang boleh mengundang pelbagai persepsi dan tafsiran.  Namun, kekeliruan yang timbul telahpun diperjelaskan sendiri oleh beliau kemudiannya dengan tegas dan jelas.  Peliknya, penjelasan lanjut itu dengan sengaja ditenggelamkan demi mengelakkan rakyat mengetahui hakikat dan apa sebenarya yang diperkatakan.

KEADILAN ingin menjelaskan bahawa, YB Nurul Izzah sendiri adalah seorang yang komited kepada agamanya – Islam.  Beliau merupakan antara pemimpin harapan generasi muda Negara, merentasi semua agama dan kaum.  Latarbelakang keluarga dan penampilan yang sederhana jelas menzahirkan ketrampilan diri yang berpaksikan jiwa yang tauhidiq pada Ilahi dan agama Islam yang syumul.

Sesungguhnya, seluruh lapisan kepimpinan KEADILAN dan Pakatan Rakyat sedang terus mara mengemudi kebangkitan rakyat demi masa depan Malaysia yang lebih gemilang.  Dengan kehendak Ilahi, tiada apa yang dapat menggugatnya, InsyaAllah.

Dr Muhammad Nur Manuty
Ketua Penerangan, PKR
13 November 2012   

Najib’s announcement of scrapping of Batu Caves condo project if BN wins Selangor desecrates Deepavali as it is not a “triumph of light over darkness” but continued spreading of darkness to prevent the triumph of light

Despite the screaming headlines, “S’gor BN to scrap Batu Caves condo if we win” (Malaysiakini), “Najib promises Indians no Batu Caves condo if BN regains Selangor” (The Malaysian Insider), “PM: We’ll scrap Batu Caves project if we win Selangor” (New Straits Times); “Najib: Return Selangor to Barisan and Batu Caves ground will be safe” (Star) and “PM: Bt Caves development will stop if BN regains S’gor” (Sun), the first reaction of fair-minded, reasonable and patriotic Malaysians is one of distinct unease and discomfort, even feeling of being repelled by an inchoate sense that something is wrong or just not right in what the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had done.
Why is this so? Why are these people, who want the 29-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project to be scrapped, not welcoming Najib’s announcement with open arms and unqualified support?
This is also my immediate response. In 1980, I had announced a “DAP Save Batu Caves Campaign” to join forces with all conservationist and environmental groups to save the 500 million-year-old Malaysian natural heritage and the religious shrine of 800,000 Hindus in Malaysia by stopping all quarrying activities at Batu Caves.
Having saved Batu Caves once, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat would have no hesitation to spearhead another “Save Batu Caves Campaign” as a result of the MIC/BN approval of the 29-storey condo project in Batu Caves in 2007.
However, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat have not launched a second “Save Batu Caves Campaign” as the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor State Government has immediately issued a “stop work” order as the condominium project should not have been approved by the Barisan Nasional authorities in 2007 as for example, objections of the state Department of Environment (DOE) had been ignored.
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has announced an independent task force to examine the issues surrounding the 29-storey Dolomite Avenue Park condo project in Batu Caves and to make recommendations to the Selangor State Government how best to safeguard the sacred site while allowing development in the surrounding areas.
Why then should Najib’s announcement that the Dolomite Avenue Park condo project would be scrapped if BN retakes Selangor create a sense of unease, discomfort and even a repelling feeling, when it is an end everybody wanted?
This is because Najib’s announcement of scrapping of Batu Caves condo project if BN wins Selangor is not a “triumph of light over darkness”, of truth over deceit, or good over evil, but the continued spreading of darkness to prevent the triumph of light.
It causes unease, discomfort and a repelling feeling because it desecrates the essence and spirit of Deepevali.
Yesterday, I had sought public views on my blog on their responses to Najib’s announcement. The following is a sample of these views:
1. “If Selangor did not fall into Pakatan’s hands in 2008, there would have been a condominium now… Remember TBH (Teoh Beng Hock). He also promised to leave NO STONES UNTURNED. TBH is still turning in his grave.”
2. “This has to be a wake-up call to all Indians. Najib is trying to take you for a ride. First, BN steals the rakyat’s money, and when exposed, they promise to pay back the money provided they win Selangor. We all know that Najib has zero leadership qualities, but to make a pledge like that during Diwali?”
3. “FIRST, umno whacked you black and blue.
NEXT, umno promised to let you have some medication.
AND FOR THAT, you are supposed to feel mighty grateful; and give umno all your nambekei and more importantly, your vote too.”
4. “Right now whatever he promises – whether to proceed or reverse- apart from whether or not subsequent deed will honour the promise – is not dictated by right or wrong having regard to balancing all competing considerations but by whether or not the promises will secure more votes that they alienate. Electoral victory and preservation of his position that he cannot afford to lose are the imperatives in his mind, and hence this purely populist approach to issues. Nothing else.”
5. “BN is now becoming a comedy. They have lost their marbles / senses. Create the problem, then scraps it, ignoring the cost to the people who bought. This is totally irresponsible. They want to win so badly, by hook or by crook.”
There is no doubt that Najib’s announcement has left a bad taste in the mouth of all right-thinking and decent Malaysians, desecrating the sacred day of Deepavali!
Najib would have come over with greater honesty and rectitude if he had publicly apologised for MIC/BN approval of the 29-storey condominium project in Batu Caves in 2007, identified and punished all the MIC/BN councillors and leaders responsible for the project (nobody would believe that top MIC/BN leaders were not involved in giving the green light for such a project), as well as declare what would be the MIC/BN contributions to undo the 2007 MIC/BN approval for the condo project, as for instance how much MIC/BN would contribute if there is any element of financial compensation involved.
Let all MIC/BN leaders, whether national or state, who had given their approval to the 29-storey condo project in Batu Caves in 2007 step forward to confess their roles.

Constitutional provisions on Malay rights, land, promote discrimination, study suggests

The Malaysian Insider
by Clara Chooi


KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Malaysia should repeal or amend two constitutional provisions protecting the special rights and land of the Malays to avoid discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity, according to a UK-based study on discrimination and equality in the country.

The four-part study, jointly conducted by international charity organisation Equal Rights Trust (ERT) and Malaysian rights group Tenaganita, said the existence of Articles 89 and 153 of the Federal Constitution were among the strongest causes behind racial discrimination in Malaysia as both had purportedly failed to meet the original intention for positive action.

Instead, the provisions had “violated international law standards”, it was said in the executive summary of the “Washing the Tigers: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Malaysia” study published on the ERT’s website late Monday.

“The positive action measures under these provisions are not time-limited or function-limited.

“The permanent privilege enjoyed by the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak therefore appears to maintain unequal and separate standards, on the ground of race, in conflict with the constitutional prohibition of discrimination,” the summary said.

Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia grants the Yang di-Pertuan Agong responsibility “to safeguard the special position of the ‘Malays’ and natives of any of the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities”. The provision also goes on to specify ways to do this, such as establishing quotas for entry into the civil service, public scholarships and public education.

It is among the most controversial provisions in Malaysian law with critics often arguing against the necessity of a race-based distinction between Malaysians of different ethnic identities.

While right-wing Malay groups and political hardliners have used the provision to argue the need for the continuation of affirmative-action policies, opposition politicians have accused the ruling government of wielding it as a “weapon of aggression”.

But the ERT report said the provisions were among other legislation in Malaysia that it found to be either directly or indirectly discriminatory in nature, adding that the country has a human rights obligation to respect an individual’s right to be free from discrimination.

“Malaysia is urged to undertake a review of all federal and state legislation and policies in order to (i) assess compatibility with the right to equality; and (ii) amend, and where necessary, abolish existing laws, regulations, and policies that conflict or are incompatible with the right to equality.

“This process should include the repeal of all discriminatory laws, provisions and policies. In particular, the following discriminatory provisions should be repealed or amended to remove discriminatory elements,” the study said, before listing Articles 5(4), 8(2), 9, 10, 11, 12(1), 14, 15, 24, 26, 89, 153 and 161 of the Federal Constitution.

According to the study, the provisions discriminate against individuals on the grounds of residence, political opinion, religion, gender, race and ethnicity.

As an example, the report said that Article 10 of the Constitution, which outlines freedom of speech, assembly and association, is discriminatory on the grounds of political opinion by setting out exceptions and conditions aimed at restricting the activities of political opponents to the government.

“The picture of inequalities in Malaysia would be strongly distorted without an understanding of discrimination based on political opinion.

“The main patterns of politically-based discrimination are related to voting rights and other political participation rights, arbitrary detention on political grounds, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of expression,” the report said.

OIC Urges Obama To Raise Rohingya Plight During Myanmar Visit

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 (Bernama) -- Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has urged re-elected US President Barack Obama to raise the critical issue of violence against Rohingya Muslims, during his visit to Myanmar on Nov 19.

He urged the president to raise the issue with Myanmar's highest authorities and its opposition leader, to end the violence immediately. He believes that this is the first step to restoring peace in the country and for national reconciliation in maintaining its democratisation.

This should also include the protection of human rights for all ethnic minority groups, the OIC reported him as saying in a letter to Obama on Tuesday.

According to several reports, Obama's purpose of going to Myanmar is to meet President Thein Sein, as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The OIC secretary-general also drew the president's attention to the critical situation of the Rohingya minorities in Myanmar, who are facing continuous repression and violation of human rights.

Ihsanoglu said, this was an issue of serious concern for the international community and particularly, for the Muslim world, adding that OIC was concerned with the scale of violence which was becoming dangerously close to a situation of ethnic cleansing.

He said that on Sept 5, a high-level OIC delegation had gone to Myanmar to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the Myanmar Government to set up an office there. However, the office was not established as the Myanmar Government had retracted from the agreement.

He added that a special discussion on the Rohingya issue would be held during the 39th OIC Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting in the Republic of Djibouti from Nov 15 to 17.

There is a lot of emphasis on the Rohingya issue because the OIC is concerned about the disastrous effects it could have on the country and the world, with regard to peace and security.

In his letter to Obama, Ihsanoglu also pointed out that the OIC had repeatedly urged the Myanmar Government to take immediate steps to end the violence and create a conducive environment for national reconciliation.

This could be done by addressing the root cause of the problem, such as the exclusion of the Rohingya Muslims from ongoing reform process.

"The Rohingya minorities should not be overlooked because of the new regime in Myanmar.

"The government of Myanmar has a moral and legal obligation to protect the oppressed minorities, to restore their citizenship, to allow them to return to their homes and to put an end to the hate campaign against them," he noted.