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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mum wants probe over prison 'negligence'

26/11 Paki Bird Ajmal Kasab is no more. Peace be upon Him.


26/11 Paki Bird Ajmal Kasab hanged to death at Pune’s Yerawada Jail today…

Express news service | Mumbai, |Wed Nov 21 2012 | 08:28 hrs :: A few hours before The Indian Express reported that his mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee, Ajmal Kasab, the Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist, was hanged at Pune’s Yerwada Jail where he was shifted earlier from Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail.

Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, was hanged to death at 7.30 on Monday morning.

Full coverage: Kasab trial

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shine told media that Ajmal Kasab’s mercy plea was rejected by the President on November 5.

Earlier, Ajmal Kasab’s mercy plea was rejected by the government which had then sent its recommendation to the President.

Home Ministry had said that Kasab’s mercy petition was dismissed as he was involved in a grave crime of waging war against India that led to killing 166 people, including foreigners.

The 25-year-old Pakistani and nine other fellow Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists had landed in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 by sea from Karachi and had gone on a shooting spree at various places, carrying out the country’s worst terror attack. While Kasab was captured alive, the other terrorists were killed by security forces.

Kasab’s mercy petition was sent to the Home Ministry by the Maharashtra government in September after rejecting the plea.

After nearly a four-year-long legal battle, on August 29, the Supreme Court had confirmed the death penalty awarded to the LeT operative by the trial court and later upheld by the Bombay High Court. Upholding Kasab’s conviction, the apex court had said he killed without “the slightest twinge of conscience”.

Qatar: bikini models, Piglet from Winnie the Pooh censored

Gov't placed ad recruiting censors in Italian, German and Japanese
Piglet, Winnie-the-Pooh's best friend, censored in Qatar Piglet, Winnie-the-Pooh's best friend, censored in Qatar
DOHA - Bikini-clad models on Italian women's magazine Grazia and Piglet, Winnie-the-Pooh's best friend, have fallen under the censorship axe in Qatar.

Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani officially abolished press censorship in 1995, but the government is still blacking out imagery deemed offensive to Islam, such as certain body parts of bikini-wearing models, and the Piglet character, who portrays an animal the Muslim religion says is unclean.

Qatar placed 114th out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking, but censorship here appears to be more cultural than political: while foreign publications are relatively scarce on national newsstands, in Doha there is Internet access to media with critical viewpoints.

However, the government a few months ago placed a newspaper ad looking for qualified personnel to censor German, Italian, and Japanese publications. An Italian who wishes to remain anonymous applied for the position, and told ANSA that no questions were asked as to professional background. The job interview consisted of translating an article on crimes of passion and domestic violence from Italian into English. The applicant was later told that the government might not go through with the project after all. (ANSAmed).

Israel-Gaza crisis: Tel Aviv bomb blast on bus

Twenty-eight people have been injured in a "terrorist attack" on a bus in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv, Israeli officials say.
After the bus explosion, huge blasts were heard in the Gaza Strip as the Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian territory continued.

Eleven people were killed in Gaza on Wednesday, the health ministry said.

Unnamed Palestinian officials told news agencies a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel would be announced within hours.

After eight days of exchanges of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are now in Cairo for talks with the Egyptian president.

There were "many details to work out" before a ceasefire could be reached, Mr Ban warned.

Earlier, she and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held talks in the West Bank with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The US "strongly condemns" the bus bombing, Mrs Clinton said.

Militants fired more rockets at Israel, while Israel renewed its naval artillery bombardment of Gaza late on Wednesday.
Celebratory gunfire

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on his Twitter account that the bus explosion in Tel Aviv was a "terrorist attack".

The Ichilov medical centre in Tel Aviv said that of the 28 injured, 10 had suffered "body injuries" - three of them serious - three received "moderate-light" injuries including shrapnel wounds and burns, and the remainder were suffering from "anxiety".

The bus was passing the military headquarters in the city at the time of the blast.

Police say they believe the blast was caused by a bomb and they are still searching for a suspect.

According to Israel's ministry of foreign affairs, the last bomb attack in Tel Aviv was in April 2006, when a suicide bombing on a restaurant killed 11.

Hamas, the Islamist movement which has governed Gaza since 2007, has praised the attack but has not said it was behind the blast.

Celebratory gunfire reportedly rang out in Gaza when local radio relayed news of the attack.

BBC correspondents then reported a series of massive explosions in Gaza, in an apparent Israeli strike on the sports stadium. Reports from Gaza say the stadium has in the past been used as a site to launch rockets.

Among the casualties on Wednesday was a six-year-old boy.

The health ministry in Gaza says a doctor at the Shifa hospital was called to treat the boy. When he reached the patient, he found it was his own son and the boy was dead, the health ministry said.
'Profound concern'

This is the eighth day of the current flare-up in violence between Israel and militants in Gaza.

Some 152 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed, officials say.

In other developments:

Overnight, Israel's military, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said it had attacked more than 100 sites in Gaza - about half of them underground rocket launchers
A key Hamas government compound was reduced to little more than dust and rubble, the BBC's Paul Danahar in Gaza says, in what was probably the largest Israeli attack so far
Iran has admitted sending military aid to Hamas - parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said Iran was "proud" to provide assistance "both financial and military"
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told US public radio that "most of the people who were hit in Gaza deserved it, as they were armed terrorists"

Other sites hit in Gaza included a banker's villa, tunnels to Egypt used by smugglers and a media office, said to be linked to Hamas, that was situated two floors above the Agence France-Presse office in Gaza City.

Earlier, the IDF said 62 rockets fired by militants from Gaza had hit Israel on Wednesday, while another 20 were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defence system.

The latest violence will further complicate ceasefire discussions taking place in the region.

In the West Bank, Mr Ban expressed "profound concern" at the civilian casualties in Gaza and also called on militants to end immediately their "indiscriminate attacks on Israeli population centres".

Mrs Clinton held talks with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem before heading to Cairo.

Officials from Hamas had suggested on Tuesday that a truce would come into effect at midnight, but Israel later said it had not agreed to a text.

Israel's demands include no hostile fire of any kind from Gaza and international efforts to prevent Hamas from re-arming, while Hamas is demanding an end to the blockade on Gaza and targeted killings by Israel.

Israel launched its current offensive a week ago with the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. The Israeli government says his assassination, and the subsequent offensive, is designed to end rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel has troops massed along the Gaza border but says it is holding off on a possible ground invasion as talks continue.

Three nabbed in probe on ‘rogue’ 6P firm

Cheras police, investigating the assault of Bangladeshi workers, say one more suspect is still at large.

PETALING JAYA: Police are on the hunt for one more suspect after arresting three foreigners in an investigation against a government-appointed firm in the 6P amnesty programme. The probe follows an exposure of CCTV recordings showing foreign workers being subjected to brutal treatment.

Cheras district police chief Mohan Singh said the three suspects, arrested last week, will either have their remand period extended or be charged, depending on instructions from the Attorney-General’s Chambers. He declined to provide further details about the suspects and their roles in the case.

“I cannot tell you more, but we are still looking for one person,” he told FMT. “Those arrested will be remanded till the end of this week and we will be referring the investigation papers to the deputy public prosecutor and we’ll see if we need to extend their remands or charge them,” he said.

The case comes under Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Act 2007, which provides for imprisonment of traffickers for up to 15 years.

The act covers a wide range of offences, including the use of force, threat, abduction and deception. “These are all the things that contribute to someone being trafficked,” Mohan said.

On Nov 5, FMT published a report about two CCTV videos showing Bangladeshi workers being assaulted, allegedly by employees of SNT Universal Corporation, a company based in Taman Maluri, Cheras.

The videos were exposed by the Selangor Council Against Human Trafficking (Mapmas) with the help of a whistleblower. The assault victims in the video are said to come from a group of about 200 who were supposed to have been registered by the company under the 6P programme but had realised that they had been cheated.

Under the 6P programme, illegal foreign workers will either be legalised or deported without punishment. The six Ps represent the Malay words for registration, legalisation, amnesty, monitoring enforcement and deportation. The government has appointed more than 300 companies to carry out the registration.

In a statement following the video expose, Mapmas task force member Abdul Aziz Ismail said SNT might have committed fraud by setting up more than a dozen other companies to act as “bogus employers”. It was alleged that these companies had no business infrastructure and were formed for the sole purpose of obtaining fraudulent work permits for foreign workers under the 6P programme.

No green light on Scorpene briefing

The opposition said it will nevertheless proceed with the briefing in Parliament, if not tomorrow, then next week.

KUALA LUMPUR: The opposition has yet to get the go-ahead from the government to hold a briefing on the Scorpene submarine scandal in Parliament tomorrow.

However, it vowed to press on with the briefing even without government approval.

PKR vice-president Tian Chua said Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has so far remained silent on the matter and the opposition has considered postponing the briefing to early next week.

He added that the opposition was optimistic of a diplomatic outcome despite the government’s obvious hesitation.

“We will still try and negotiate and see what happens tomorrow,” Chua, the Batu MP, told FMT.

In another development, PKR leader and Subang MP R Sivarasa said the briefing by the French lawyer was also still pending the approval of House Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.

“The speaker has not given us an answer if we can invite the lawyer to hold his briefing for the MPs in the parliament,” he said today.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had earlier this month written to Hishammuddin seeking assurance that Suaram’s French lawyers will not be barred from entering Malaysia when they arrive later this month.

The letter came after confirmation from lawyer William Bourdon that he will seek to hold a bipartisan briefing to Malaysian lawmakers on the judicial investigation into the controversial purchase of the Scorpene-class submarines from French defence contractor DCNS.

Bourdon had confirmed in principle to give the briefing on Nov 22 (tomorrow) through a letter dated Oct 29.


According to Anwar’s letter, the PKR de facto leader had also urged Hishammuddin to respond urgently so that arrangements could be made.

This includes contacting DCNS lawyers to invite them to the briefing.

It was reported that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (in charge of parliamentary affairs) Nazri Abdul Aziz had indicated that there was no problem holding the briefing in the Parliament building.

Bourdon was deported when he was said to have violated his visa by speaking on the issue at a fundraiser in Penang in July 2011.

The event was held by rights group Suaram which hired the lawyer to pursue the matter in the French court, alleging that Malaysia’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, is involved in the kickback scandal worth more than RM250 million.

Najib denied the allegation while the government claimed that the French authorities had never planned on pressing charges as alleged by Suaram and the opposition.

‘Say No to Racism’ petition gathers pace

Since its launch two days ago by Projek Dialog, an online website, hundreds of signatures have already been secured.

PETALING JAYA: Projek Dialog, a website advocating honest dialogue and racial and religious harmony, has initiated an online petition against racism in Malaysia.

The petition aims to put an end to racist politics, political and racial exploitation of the media, the abuse of religion to legitimise racism and persecutions of religious minorities.

It also calls for the release of all detainees held unjustly under draconian measures put in place on the false basis of national security and inter-communal peace, and more dialogue aimed at a peaceful and more inclusive Malaysia.

The petition also calls for the Malaysian government to ratify the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) to show its seriousness in combating racism.

Since the petition was started on Monday, it has already gotten close to 300 signatures, including a number of local NGOs.

“It’s an effort to present a unified voice against racism in Malaysia which has reached a worryingly endemic level,” Projek Dialog managing editor Ahmad Fuad Rahmat told FMT.

“Just look at how racist sentiments are often evoked to strengthen political positions daily. We must do something about it in a unified way,” he said.

“Most thinking people are instinctively against racism. This is a chance to make a statement and show to the rest of Malaysia that they are concerned Malaysians.”

Fuad said that the response so far has been positive, having garnered support by only relying on word of mouth, e-mail and social media.

“It is a good start. Racism is a problem that is not going away anytime soon,” said Fuad, who is also a research fellow at the progressive Muslim think-tank Islamic Renaissance Front.

Call for discussions

He also said that Projek Dialog has not set a target number or date to stop the petition, as it is to be a “long term” campaign.

“In an ideal world, we are talking about getting hundreds of thousands of people to support this cause.

“But we just have to reach a significant number and then we’ll get to the next step, either present it to the Prime Minister’s Office or the National Unity and Integration Department.

Fuad said that Malaysia has yet to ratify the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by the United Nations.

“If the government finally decides to ratify it, we would be bound by certain commitments to internationally recognised principles.”

These principles, said Fuad, should be about more inclusive affirmative action and poverty eradication as well as more opportunities to pursue certain rights such as education.

Another important aspect of the petition was the call for discussions.

“While we want to focus on policy, without discussions, the changes might not be meaningful. Well intended policies might even be seen as offensive,” said Fuad.

Asked why anyone should sign the petition, he said: “Because Malaysia is a complex country and requires harmony between the different ethnic identities for it to progress and flourish.

“But it cannot happen when there is racism, or any form of prejudices. We can only do what we can, and this is one way to speak up.”

Call for better zoo etiquette

Zoos exist not merely to entertain, says an animal welfare group.

KUALA LUMPUR: The next time you take your children to the zoo, make sure they don’t make too much noise. It will unsettle the animals and upset members of myZoo, a coalition of animal welfare bodies.

“We have to point out that animals have feelings” and the screams of children could agitate them, said Sharmini Paramasivam, a myZoo representative.

She was in the myZoo delegation that had a roundtable discussion today with representatives of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan). The discussion centred on animal welfare in Malaysian zoos.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, she said the Malaysian public needed to be educated about zoos —that they are not just places of entertainment, but also of animal conservation.

The meeting with Perhilitan discussed the Wildlife Conservation (Operation of Zoos) Regulations 2012, a law that was gazetted last Feb 1. It gives Perhilitan more bite in going after zoos and wildlife parks that are negligent in their job of caring for animals. It covers, among other things, health care, animal enclosure spaces and wildlife show guidelines.

MyZoo welcomed the new regulations, but said better enforcement was needed. Its delegation said zoos, NGOs and government agencies needed to work together to improve the situation.

MyZoo advisor and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) academic Sumita Sugnaseelan said a lot of reports about animal attacks were exaggerated.

“If a visitor crosses an enclosure’s barrier, do you blame the animal for reacting?” she asked.

She added that parents needed to obey cautionary signs at the zoos lest their children mimic them. “If there is a sign that says don’t feed the animals, and the parents do it, the children might emulate that,” she said.

Perhilitan has agreed to let myZoo representatives join the agency’s zoo audit team, which would routinely inspect Malaysia’s zoos.

PJS 1 residents: Meet us or we will march

The stalled Block E housebuyers of PJS 1 threaten to march to Selangor MB's office at the end of the month if the state government refuses to hold a meeting with them.

PETALING JAYA: Arrange a meeting for us with Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim by Nov 26 or we will march to his office on Nov 29, said Block E residents action committee chairman M Sugumaran today.

He added that the buyers of the stalled low cost apartment project were growing weary of the whole matter.

In 2003, about 200 former squatter settlers were promised low-cost houses by developer Peter Brickworks Sdn Bhd in exchange for development on the land.

Although the developer had built four buildings of low-cost housing for some of the settlers, it reneged on its promise to build the fifth block, citing a court order barring them from working on the land specified.

Last year, the Selangor state government stepped in and promised to resolve their housing problem.

Sugumaran said that the committee had delivered 135 letters of undertakings last Friday, signed by the housebuyers, to declare that the committee was the only group representing the buyers.

In addition, the letters also declared that the housebuyers wanted the state government to resolve 26 outstanding issues, among them, the liquidated ascertained damages (LAD) and bank interest charges.

“We wanted to meet Khalid to deliver the letter of undertakings but instead his officer, Teh Yee Teong came to collect it, claiming MB was not in the office.

“Later, we saw Khalid moving in and out inside the Selangor state secretariat office. When we demanded to see him, Teh insisted the MB was not around. It was an insult,” said Sugumaran.

The committee, he added, was also upset that Teh had only stamped the letter of undertakings without signing them, which was a far cry on how the Petaling Jaya City Council had received them.

“This is the same way the previous state government treated us. We have sacrificed a lot just to fight for our rights. We have no other choice but to take this action as the general election is nearing,” said Sugumaran.

'Sorry Anwar, Australia can't help you'

CARR: Australia is not the election authority for Malaysia.

(Bernama) - Australia cannot and will not influence how Malaysia's elections are run despite a personal plea for help from Malaysian Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr.

Anwar had reportedly written to Senator Carr asking for Australia to help ensure that the next Malaysian general election, most probably to be held early next year, was free of fraud and corruption.

Anwar had reportedly told Carr he had uncovered evidence of fraudulent voter registration and other anomalies in the run-up to the polls. He had also questioned the independence of the electoral commission and claimed that the opposition was being excluded from the media.

But Senator Carr said the Malaysian elections were a matter for the Malaysian people.

"It's very hard for Australia to do anything about how they're run, as hard as it would be for Malaysia or another government to have a say in how Australian elections are run," he told ABC radio.

"We're not the election authority for Malaysia."

Carr said Australia wanted to see free and fair elections in every country. He said Anwar personally raised the concerns directly with him during a recent visit to Malaysia.

Carr also poured cold water on the specific proposal of Australia sending election monitors to Malaysia, saying the Malaysian government would have to ask for the measure.

He dismissed the suggestion that Canberra was reluctant to act because it wanted to maintain good relations with (Malaysian Prime Minister) Najib's government, with which it was still negotiating an asylum seeker swap deal.

In an interview with ABC Radio on Wednesday, Anwar said he was concerned the election, which must be held by next June, would be rigged, and would have a large number of people eligible to vote but who would not be allowed to vote.

Others far too young to vote, between age two and 12, were also on the rolls, he said.

Anwar also claimed that the opposition had been denied access to the mainstream media.

Anwar had discussed his concerns with former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and sent a note to Carr seeking Australian assistance, saying Australia supported free and fair elections in Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar, and yet it was silent on Malaysia.

Tony Fernandes is a thief, claims MP

(The Malay Mail) - Barisan Nasional's fiery Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin called businessman Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (pic) a "penyagak" (thief) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The outspoken MP, known for heckling opposition MPs and for being one of the louder voices in the House, was speaking during the Transport Ministry's wrap up during the committee stage of the ministry's Budget 2013 debate when he made his distaste for Fernandes and AirAsia known.

"We all know that Tony Fernandes is a penyagak (thief). He will want 100 per cent profit in everything. He invests in everything, even sports," Bung said, while discussing the issue of whether the low cost airline would shift its operations to KLIA2 once the government completes its construction in April next year.

Bung was unapologetic each time AirAsia's name was brought up during the wrap up, going as far as saying that the airline can "berambus" (get out) from the country, in light of suggestions that the carrier could shift its operations to Indonesia.

"I think on behalf of the people of Malaysia, I would say AirAsia can berambus from the country," he said.

Bung claimed that the government is giving too much consideration to AirAsia's demands, and said that the government's leniency with the low cost airline is what's causing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to be mired in debt.

Earlier, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha told the Dewan Rakyat that the government is not reliant for AirAsia to shift its operations to KLIA2 upon the terminal's completion in order to recoup the state's investment in the terminal.

"In KLIA, we host 60 airline companies, not one company alone. So KLIA2 will be similar," Kong said curtly.

He said that AirAsia had not officially stated that they would shift to KLIA2 yet and went on to add that the airline is currently co-operating in the relocation process.

Do Your Job Right, PTPTN

By Kee Thuan Chye
Malaysian Digest
It’s unbelievable how lackadaisical the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) is in collecting loan payments. These, after all, constitute the rakyat’s money, and it is the responsibility of the corporation to be accountable for it. And yet its chief executive officer, Agos Cholan, can say, in an interview with Malaysiakini, that it tells its debtors to pay whatever they can.

Whatever they can! What kind of an attitude is that? Isn’t it encouraging defaulters?

Is PTPTN not concerned about getting back the money because the money belongs to others? Is it plainly incompetent? Is it poorly run? If so, it reflects badly on the government we have.

In fact, the least the Government could do now is crack the whip on the people heading PTPTN to ensure that they do their job well, and if they don’t, it should have them replaced.

After all, we are talking about huge sums of money being loaned out. As it is, the total amount stands at RM45.41 billion, and by the end of the year, it will reach RM50 billion.

That’s not small pickings. It’s money that could be used for the good of the rakyat – a lot of good. If some of it is not recovered when the loans are due, more money will have to be pumped into the fund. Where will that money come from?

Of course, we can say that PTPTN money is for the good cause of higher education so it might be all right if the recipients don’t pay back or take their time to do so, but a loan is a loan. Its terms and conditions have to be respected. If you tak berani tanggung, you shouldn’t take a loan. You can’t say afterwards that paying back will cause you to be in debt. You should know what you’ll be in for.

Of course, if the Government decides to scrap PTPTN and write off the loans, that’s a totally different matter. But until that happens, the loan agreement is sacrosanct.

Even for a scholarship, there is usually the condition of the recipient being bonded by employment to the Government after graduation, which he or she must respect. If they renege, they must pay back in cash.

But more than the issue of money, what is important to consider here is that this is not the way to run a government agency. By not doing its job the way it should, PTPTN is showing a bad example of government operations.

As for Agos Cholan, the things he said in the interview reflect an unseemly attitude. If he brings that to bear in his job, he should seriously reconsider his position.

He said PTPTN wants to do things “the nice way”, i.e. it refuses to come down hard on debtors. How could he say that? It’s not the role of PTPTN to be “nice”.

How could he also say, “So far, we have been quite nice and moderate. We advertise in newspapers, on billboards and hold awareness campaigns to tell the people, ‘Pay back lah’”.

That sounds utterly unprofessional. And of course if PTPTN puts it that way, nobody’s going to pay lah. So perhaps we could say, “Agos Cholan should step down lah.”

He said 130,000 or so debtors have been blacklisted, and of these, only 20 per cent have started paying back. “The rest have not come forward yet. We are still waiting,” he added.

Still waiting? If creditors were to just wait for their debtors to come to them, they’d be out of business in a flash! Sure, PTPTN is not a commercial enterprise or a profit-making organisation, but it is a trustee of the rakyat’s resources.

PTPTN should be proactive instead and go after the debtors. But wait! There is a problem. According to sources quoted by Malaysiakini, many of the students to whom PTPTN gave out loans cannot be traced.

This is incredulous. It reeks of incompetency of the highest order. Keeping track of one’s debtors is the most basic of functions. Otherwise, how can you ensure getting back your money? So how could PTPTN be so lax about keeping proper records and updating them continually?

Agos Cholan is a former banker; he should know better than most people that you can’t lend money and later lose contact with the people you lent it to. What’s his excuse?

Apparently, PTPTN’s database suffered a disaster when it was converted into electronic data under a system that didn’t work well and was then tinkered with under a different system that made it worse. It is now being rebuilt based on the first system, “running on an old engine”. The process has of course cost a lot of money – and a lot of misplacement of data. And “running on an old engine” doesn’t sound like a good prospect.

Agos admits that there was a time when PTPTN couldn’t justify RM5 billion worth of loans – “we didn’t know who took out loans or who has paid; the numbers weren’t there”. This sounds harrowing when so much money is at stake. But he assures us that “it has all been rectified”.

Rectifying it is one thing; using it to spring to action to recover the money is another. Agos eschews using debt collection agencies because he’s worried they might “not be professional enough”.

How about using the legal recourse? After all, there is no excuse for the debtors not to pay. When they signed the loan agreement, they knew what they were in for and they agreed to the terms. So those who have not been paying need to be jolted into honouring those terms. Indeed, if a few debtors were to be hauled to court on this account, it might spook other defaulters into paying up.

But one suspects that PTPTN’s reluctance to enforce legal compliance stems from a fear of offending its loan recipients. These are the youths who will be voting at the upcoming general election. The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) would be worried about losing their votes. Especially with Pakatan Rakyat pledging, if it captures Putrajaya, to write off PTPTN loans and provide free tertiary education.

Furthermore, the ‘Occupy Dataran’ campout staged by university students in April to call for the loans to be scrapped has added pressure on BN.

Be that as it may, the BN government will not endear itself to the rakyat if it is seen to be incompetent, inefficient and cavalier about the people’s resources. It might end up being rejected instead.

In any case, nothing beats doing a job right. If PTPTN cannot do its job right, the Government will be held accountable. Then no amount of appeasing the young voters will be of help to the BN cause.

The point of reckoning may ironically be the ballot box.

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the bestselling book No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians, available in bookstores together with its Malay translation, Jangan Kelentong Lagi, Kita Semua Orang Malaysia.

Israel's Attack On Gaza Raised At D-8 Foreign Ministers Meeting

From Zarul Effendi Razali

ISLAMABAD, Nov 21 (Bernama) -- Israel's aggression on Gaza was raised at the D-8 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, here, Wednesday, said Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

At the meeting which began at about 11am, local time, Anifah said some of the member countries had touched on the crisis in Gaza and that Malaysia would be voicing out their views after the meeting resumed this evening.

D-8 is an economic organisation which discusses economic matters involving the member states. However, due to the compelling circumstances, we may be discussing this issue," he told Malaysian reporters, here.

The D-8 member countries are Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Anifah said some of the other member countries, in their speeches, expressed sadness over what was happening in Gaza.

"Malaysia will be raising the issue later and we have already agreed informally just now to discuss the issue," he said.

At the D-9 meeting this time, Pakistan will take over the chair from Nigeria for a period of two years until 2014.

Several matters were discussed at the meeting including accepting the motion on the D-8 Charter and D-8 Global Vision, which are two important documents containing the organisation's aspirations and vision for the future.

In his speech at the meeting, Anifah again touched on D-8 intra trade which has not met the target set, that is, 15 to 20 per cent.

"To date, the total D-8 intra trade is at 7.5 per cent. We need to look at the existing weaknesses in our effort to make D-8 a competitive organisation.

"We need to work at increasing investment and trade and we should be more creative, whereby Islamic banking is one of the activities that we should be proposing at this meeting," he said.

Anifah said the D-8 member states should be applying the Islamic banking system for the purpose of obtaining investment funds, through sukuk, besides using the conventional banking system.

Declaration falls short of international standards

Malay Mail 
by Andrea Mathew

THE first Asean human rights declaration signed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been labelled as a document to justify human rights violations.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan (pic) said the declaration falls short of international standards, specifi -cally the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and has a caveat counter to human rights.

“There is an important caveat that it (protection of human rights) must be ‘in the regional and national context bearing in mind diff erent political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds’ and ‘meet the just requirements of national security, public order, public health, public safety, public morality, as well as the general welfare of the peoples in a democratic society’.

“Thus member states can basically justify human rights violations if it falls under these wide caveats.” Syahredzan said the Declaration is nothing more than a public relations exercise to project a more ‘human-rights friendly’ image of Asean member states.

The Declaration is also said to have some glaring exclusions including freedom of association.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive directo Cynthia Gabriel said the government has signed onto a flawed and incomplete document that leaves out many components.

Gabriel who was involved in civil society discussions with Asean intergovernmental commission of human rights said, “Some recommendations were proposed but not incorporated into the final version of the declaration.

“We are disappointed that this is the final version because many communities are not protected under the Declaration such as rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

This is important because they are a vulnerable community that is often harassed by law enforcement agencies.

“We had also suggested compliance of domestic laws with international standards as many Asean countries practice the death penalty.

In addition many socio-cultural rights were generalised as the Declaration focused on civil and political rights.”

Gabriel said many Asean governments are authoritarian regimes and not promoters of human rights.

Mum wants probe over prison 'negligence'

(Malaysiakini) The mother of R Kumarajah, a Kajang prison inmate who died late October, has urged the police to investigate prison authorities for alleged negligence resulting in her son's death.

After lodging a police report at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters today, M Sooriakandhi, 51, told reporters that the prison wardens could have provided her son medical attention.

NONE"Why didn't they take him to the hospital? Why didn't they inform me? My son was sick for three days. They didn't inform me at all," said Sooriakandhi in between her sobs.

Her lawyer G Sivamalar said prison laws stipulated that prison authorities must inform a detainee's family members immediately should the person be severely ill or have died.

However, in Kumarajah's case, his family was only informed of his death after 24 hours, said Sivamalar.

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

NONEHe was pronounced dead on Oct 29, ostensibly of AIDS. Sooriakandhi later challenged the pronouncement, because no autopsy was performed to determine the cause of death.

The authorities relented after Sooriakandhi's plight was made public and an autopsy was performed on Nov 2.

A preliminary report has revealed that Kumarajah's death was the result of "heart muscle inflammation caused by bacteria or virus."