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Friday, November 23, 2012

The state's war against Uthayakumar

"When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

INTERVIEW By shining a light on a reality that is more often than not ignored, dismissed or ridiculed, P Uthayakumar has had to pay a steep price.

This reality, the reality of the marginalised Indian poor, an underclass that struggles with lack of the necessities of life in contemporary Malaysia and confronted by a state and in many ways a society that has perfected the art of discrimination, has found expression in Hindraf and Uthayakumar.

NONEThe canard that Hindraf is demanding "quotas" is one of the more odious lies spread by Pakatan Rakyat apparatchiks. In the Hindraf 18-point demand, the Indian/Tamil/Hindu community is mentioned only in three points, with reference to land titles to Tamil schools, Hindu temples and cemeteries and the "de-gerrymandering" for Indian representation in Parliament.

The remaining 15 points cover Malaysians regardless of ethnicity and in fact argues for the removal of race-based quotas. The first point in the demand is the recognition of bumiputera status for anyone born in Malaysia.

So far DAP, PKR or PAS has yet to make any such declarations in their supposed multiracial/cultural manifesto. Indeed Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has gone out of his way to assure his Malay partners that he has no intention of ever seeking the highest office in the land. So much for the vicious lie that Uthayakumar and Hindraf are "racist".

Uthayakumar understands that his is a lone crusade. He makes no apologies in the manner in which he chooses to make his stand. In my writings, I have been both critical and supportive of Hindraf.

My conversations with Uthayakumar were a continuous give-and-take about the "Indian problem" and how best to resolve it. I disagree with many of Uthayakumar's ideas but this interview is not the avenue to express them.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been an in-depth interview with Uthayakumar. In this three-part interview, I have attempted to give a platform to the man, whom I have described as the last and best hope for the marginalised Indian community.

Could you define the Hindraf struggle?

Firstly, being a lawyer by training and a political activist rather than a politician per se, I beg leave to answer without fear or favour. I am prepared to take an unpopular stand, refusing to play to the majoritarian bi-racial 1Malay-sian political gallery by not taking a politically correct stand and am willing to receive brickbats from Malaysiakini readers.

brickfields uthayakumar hindraf 280209 water cannonThe Hindraf struggle was founded on the 18-point demands. The thrust of the Hindraf struggle is against institutionalised Umno and Pakatan racist government and state policies. We strive for equal rights, equal opportunities and equal upward mobility opportunities on a needs basis against a system that victimises in particular the most vulnerable Indian poor in Malaysia.

The Hindraf struggle is about permanent and wholesome solutions from Umno and Pakatan state governments as granted to the bi-racial 1Malay-sian Malay and Chinese communities and not the temporary piecemeal solutions for the Indian poor like dishing out hampers, rice bags, ang pows, mock cheques and other handouts.

Hindraf supports regime change and wishes Pakatan all the best, but it does not want the federal government to be replaced by an Umno clone. Nevertheless, on a people-to-people basis the Indians have no or very little problems with the Malay or Chinese communities at the ground level.

Could you describe your experiences under the ISA and your early activism that led to conflicts with the state?

Prior to my ISA detention on Dec 13, 2007, I started from scratch and for about 16 years had to operate almost solo until just before the Nov 25, 2007 Hindraf rally. There were no takers for the real cause of the Indian poor, which does not draw very much political mileage nor is it "press worthy" by the standards of the bi-racial 1Malay-sian mainstream media and to a lesser extent the alternative media.

It was an uphill battle. With the odds stacked against us and propelled by my very strong belief in this serious plight of the Indian poor, I became hardened and was mentally prepared for the worst.

ISA was not the worst because back in 2003, at the height of my deaths in police custody and police shooting campaigns, I was attacked at gunpoint by police officers in civilian attire. Because of this, I must say that my suffering under ISA detention was minimal.
At Kamunting Prison, I used to read and write for about 14 to 15 hours daily. With time on my side, I managed to write two books, namely ‘Indian Political Empowerment Strategy' and ‘25th Nov 07 Hindraf Rally'.

NONEMy reading and making daily notes in my diaries for about six hours from the three mainstream dailies given to us only reaffirmed my earlier findings of the very serious level of racism, made far worse as the Indian poor do not even have the village-level social safety net, unlike the poor Malays, Orang Asli, Iban and Kadazan. Even the Chinese poor have 508 Chinese new villages as social safety nets nationwide.
It was in prison that I learnt to read Tamil. In prison, every day was a working day or rather every day was a working holiday. My secret of having kept well in prison was in not thinking about the outside world or the date I would be released, which was the key method of torture by our oppressors.

uthayakumar released from isa detention seremban event 090509 05Unlike the many other famed ISA detainees, I think we were a lot more fortunate because of the extent of the Indian poor persistent campaigns and prayer meetings at Hindu temples nationwide. It was after these heightened public campaigns and March 8, 2008 political tsunami that eventually led to the abolishment of the ISA.

In fact, I was the very last political prisoner to have walked out of Kamunting Prison.

Could give us some examples of what has gone in your sedition trial and the kinds of ‘official' harassment you have encountered?

On Nov 7, 2012, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court decision was to call for my defence despite the following facts:

The Umno attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail on an extremely rare occasion appeared in court to personally prosecute me on Dec 11, 2007. He had informed the court that the prosecution has the witnesses to prove that the (Kampung Medan and other) "ethnic cleansing" did not take place in Malaysia.

The vindictive deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Noorin Badaruddin, in her opening speech, told the court that they have the witnesses who operated the website which had published the supposed seditious letter to the then-British prime minister Gordon Brown, which in any event did not bear my signature though it carried my name.

None of these witnesses was ever called. The policewatchmalaysia. com website that allegedly published this letter was closed down for good by the government the following month after my detention under the ISA on Dec 13, 2007 - two days after the sedition charge.

The alleged letter was never recovered from me, my office or premises or vehicles controlled by me despite an official police search. I was never arrested nor statements taken from me. I was abruptly arrested on my way to my office and was prosecuted on the very same day on Dec 11, 2007.

NONEThis was within days of ex-prime minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi (left) making media statements upon returning from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Harare where he was believed to have been embarrassed when questioned on the Hindraf letter to Gordon Brown.

He publicly declared that he seldom gets angry, but this time he was very angry with Hindraf. I was to be punished as the de facto leader of Hindraf, for organising and leading to the Nov 25, 2007 watershed Hindraf rally and for having succeeded in exposing to the world the state-sponsored and private sector racist victimisation of the most vulnerable Indian poor.

So where is the prima facie case for the defence to be called? The judge allowed almost all of the DPP's questions and objections but rejected almost all my applications and crucial questions to the prosecution witnesses, not even on a hint or baseless objections by the DPP.

In one day alone, 34 of my pertinent questions to the prosecution witnesses were rejected. All questions on Umno institutional racism and the systematic social "ethnic cleansing" of the Indian poor were not allowed.

Finally a three- and two-hour time limit was imposed on the two prosecution witnesses, the then deputy federal CID chief DCP Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani and the investigating officer, ASP Redzaime.

p uthayakumar sedition trial 030209 01Moreover, my further 150 questions were not allowed after this time limit. Despite numerous applications, the judge had refused to recuse himself. Despite this predictable outcome, I have filed five appeals and two applications to the High Court, more for the record.

Despite the fact that the prime minister and the de facto law minister having announced the repeal of the Sedition Act as part of the government legal transformation programmes, as being obsolete and an admission that criticisms against the government are now allowed; to give effect to freedom of speech as is guaranteed by Article 10 of the federal constitution, even the apex Federal Court on Oct 16, 2012 dismissed my review application for the charges against me to be dismissed.

At first year of law school at Ealing College of Higher Education (now Thames Valley University), London in 1984, I was taught, "Justice must not only be done but must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done". Res Ipsa Loquiteour. Now the trial has been fixed for hearing for two weeks and unusually even the submission date has been fixed in January 2013 despite that I have 41 witnesses.

This would mean that I would have to complete four witnesses in one day of trial. Umno's intended conviction would disqualify me from contesting in the imminent 13th general elections.

My intended witnesses include Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Suhakam chairperson for not holding a royal commission of inquiry and Suhakam inquiry respectively, attorney-general Gani Patail for not prosecuting the criminals in the Kg Medan "ethnic cleansing" where five Indian poor were murdered and one hundred sustained grievous bodily injuries, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on this politically-motivated sedition charge, and the inspector-general of police for racially profiling Indian poor suspects.

gordon brown british govt meltdown 040609 01As to whether the courts would issue subpoenas for these witnesses is yet another matter bearing in mind that the subpoena application for Gordon Brown (right) was dismissed.

For being one-and-a-half hours late to court as I was held up at the High Court, this judge forfeited RM7,000 of the bail and increased the bail from RM10,000 to RM15,000, with a final warning that bail would be revoked for good if it happens again. My repeated apology and an undertaking that it would not happen again did not help.

Whatever the outcome, should I be convicted even with a mere fine, I am considering not applying for stay but opting for jail as a matter of principle. I will do this in keeping to the Hindraf 18-point demands which I had drafted and for which I stand by and I have already served one-and-a-half years of ISA jail sentence. Double jeopardy?
Should I be convicted, the maximum punishment is a three-year jail sentence or RM5,000 fine, or both. (Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng previously served a one-and-a-half year jail sentence for sedition.
This is so as not to allow Umno to hold me ‘ransom' until the disposal of my appeals right up to the apex Federal Court, which outcomes are again predictable. During this imprisonment, I have decided to write my third book entitled ‘Never Won a Case in Malay-sian Courts - 50 Public Interest Cases'.

Tomorrow: Uthayakumar's uneasy ties with Pakatan

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. On Sunday, Nov 25, Hindraf will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the historic 2007 rally.

Harga kamera AES Malaysia terlampau mahal

Syrian young girls face rape, sexual violence

Syrian women walk past Russia-made tanks as country continues to fall into violence.

CAIRO: Syria is a country facing continued violence, with activists reporting massive bombings on Wednesday as the world’s attention turned to Gaza, where a ceasefire was agreed upon by Israel and Hamas.

But for women and children in Syria, they are continuing to be targeted and reports of rape and execution of women in the country are quickly becoming daily.

According to one female activist, speaking to on condition of anonymity from inside Syria, the media coverage of violence against women in the country is “less than the reality.”

She added that “women in Syria are being raped, often in front of their husbands, tortured and murdered by the government. It is a horrible thing to be a woman in this country.”

The United Nations has called on the government to allow women and children to leave cities under siege, but soldiers appear unwilling to acquiesce, instead raping and murdering women in the city and other areas of the country.

One of the most gruesome events was reported at the end of May by the United Nations observer mission in the country, reporting that most of some 108 people massacred in Houla in the country were shot, execution style. Among those killed were women, children and entire families; killed in their own homes.

The massacre in Houla drew massive international outrage.

“We are at a tipping point,” special envoy at the time Kofi Annan told reporters in Damascus. “The Syrian people do not want the future to be one of bloodshed and division.”

The UN report said most of the dead were killed execution-style, with fewer than 20 cut down by shelling. The UN cited survivors blaming the house-to-house killings on pro-government thugs known as shabiha, who often operate as hired muscle for the regime.

“What is very clear is this was an absolutely abominable event that took place in Houla, and at least a substantial part of it was summary executions of civilians, women and children,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High commissioner for Human Rights.

“At this point, it looks like entire families were shot in their houses.”

Worse still are the reports being published online, on social-media website Facebook, of soldiers capturing and kidnapping women, often teenagers, and locking them in detention centers, where they are raped repeatedly by soldiers.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 former detainees, including two women, who described being sexually abused or witnessing sexual abuse in detention, including rape, penetration with objects, sexual groping, prolonged forced nudity, and electroshock and beatings to genitalia. Many of the former detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were imprisoned because of their political activism, including for attending protests. In other cases, the reason for the detention was unclear but detainees suffered the same abusive tactics.

“Syrian security forces have used sexual violence to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“The assaults are not limited to detention facilities – government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps.”

The reports have outraged women’s activists in the region, who are now blaming the West for doing so little to help the Syrian people.

“Who are we, as a global community, to sit by and allow my friends to be raped and murdered on a daily basis,” one Syrian activist told on Tuesday from northern Syria.

“I have had people tell me how they were stripped, forced to a chair, handcuffed and repeatedly raped by soldiers in a room. They can’t sleep at night, they can’t look at themselves and they wish they were dead. And so many others are just killed after the soldiers rape and mutilate them,” she added.

“What is the world doing for us women?” she asked.

A report by McClatchy newspapers last summer showed that the military is systematically using sexual violence in a way that strikes absolute fear in the population.

“What I have seen with my own eyes, it was indescribable,” said Rolat Azad, 21, who said he’d served as a master sergeant in Idlib province in the northeast of Syria.

There, he commanded 10 men who’d break into houses seeking to arrest men whose names they’d been given by the country’s intelligence agencies, the report continued.

“They gave us orders: ‘You are free to do what you like’,” he recalled.

Starting last July, he said, his unit arrested and tortured five to 10 people daily.

“We had a torture room on our base,” he said. “There was physical torture — beatings — and psychological tortures,” said Azad, a Syrian Kurd who deserted and fled in March to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. “They also brought women and girls through. They put them in the closed room and called soldiers to rape them.”

The women often were killed, he said.

And with it the hope many have for a positive outcome to the horrors that have become the Syrian uprising.

A Tale of Three Converts

Farhan Haji Mose was cut in two this past Friday.  His crime was conversion from Islam to Christianity.  He was 25.
Beheaded before he was severed, Farhan was executed before a crowd of Muslims and Christians.  His body was dumped on a beach in the Somali port city of Barawa, where it was found by a local fisherman.
Farhan became a Christian in 2010 while visiting Kenya on a business trip.  For this, his killers accused him of being a spy and joining a “foreign religion.”
Al-Shabaab is the name of the terrorist/Islamist organization that murdered Farhan.  They run much of southern Somalia, arguably the world’s most lawless state.  Among their most notorious achievements:
Morning Star News reports that “Al Shabaab rebels have killed dozens of Christian converts from Islam since embarking on a campaign to rid Somalia of Christianity. The insurgents, variously estimated at 3,000 to 7,000, seek to impose a stricter version of Sharia (Islamic law) on Somalia.”
Rimsha Masih, a young, mentally-challenged Pakistani woman, was freed from prison earlier today after charges that she burned pages of the Quran were found baseless and then dropped.  International pressure on the government of Pakistan played a role, as did the common decency (or political concerns) of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and various Muslim religious leaders.  Rimsha is a Christian.
Asia Bibbi, a young Pakistani Christian wife and mother of five, was arrested and imprisoned in 2010 for “blasphemy” against Islam (she talked to some friends about her faith in Jesus).  She is under a death sentence, but thus far Pakistani fear of international outrage has surmounted the brutality of its courts and religious laws.
One Christian murdered.  Another freed.  Another left dangling over the mouth of death.
Why has God allowed their lives to be so disposed?  Why has He let one captive go free, kept another in prison, and allowed a third to be horrifically murdered?
We don’t know, other than that He is God and is sovereign, loving, just, and deeper in His wisdom and working than we can begin to comprehend.  Yet whatever He permits, however small or large, significant or seemingly unimportant, He is intersecting every event in every life to accomplish purposes which are, for now, obscure to us.  But He never leaves, never forsakes.  He does not exempt us from pain.  Rather, He is with us in it.
May God have mercy on the killers of Farhad and give great comfort to his family.  May He protect Rimsha Masih and her family; they can no longer go back to their village for fear of reprisal.  And may He strengthen and sustain Asia Bibbi as she awaits the liberty that is rightfully hers.
Last week, FRC partnered with our friends at Voice of the Martyrs to highlight the suffering of Christians throughout the world, Christians whose only “crime” is owning Jesus as Savior and Lord.  You can watch it here, and be inspired to take the action steps given at the end to help defend our brothers and sisters in Christ whose lives are at risk simply for following the God of the universe.
“Be faithful unto death,” said the Lord Jesus, “and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation2:10).  Farhad Haji Mose has now been crowned with a life no force on earth or hell can ever take away from him.  It will be joyous to meet him someday.

Dr M: PAS is backed by the devil

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — The PAS president is backed by the devil himself, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir said today, in retaliation against Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s thinly-veiled comment about Malay-majority Umno.

“He himself is working with the devil, that’s the devil I know,” Dr Mahathir (picture) said in a press conference here, referring to Abdul Hadi.

This remark came after the Marang MP spoke at the Islamist party’s annual conference, or muktamar, last weekend, where he criticised a “party of devils”.

“The devil party which is controlled by the devil — the devil that people know — is incapable of upholding justice for all,” Abdul Hadi said in his opening speech last Friday.

At a press conference later, Abdul Hadi was asked to clarify which party did he mean was the “party of devils”, but he refused to name any names.

“Siapa yang makan lada, dialah yang rasa pedas,” he replied, referring to a Malay idiom on knowing that one fits a description.

“Go and ask Mahathir, that was said by Mahathir, he was the one who coined the term,” PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali added.

In his blog entry in August, Dr Mahathir had urged the people to choose the “devil they know” rather than risk the country’s future with an “angel they don’t know”, a reference to Pakatan Rakyat.

The line had since then been used repeatedly to attack the ruling coalition on various occasions.

Alternative schools’ lingering plight

The government must give due recognition to diversity in education and provide full funding to these schools, say several concerned bodies.

PETALING JAYA: The multi-stream education system allows Malaysians a chance to choose the type of schools they want to attend, but it does not provide fair treatment to every school.

This was pointed out by several bodies representing Tamil, Islamic and mission schools when they related the problems plaguing their schools.

To tackle these problems, they have even offered suggestions to the government to integrate alternative schools into the national education system.

They have also asked that greater autonomy be given to these schools so that they can create a common ground for students from many different schools to interact with each other.

Above all, they want the government to give genuine recognition to diversity in education.

Megat Mohamed Amin, head of the Islamic schools umbrella body, Pusat Pendidikan SRI-SMI Bhd, said the government should ideally provide full funding to alternative type schools in the country, as they have contributed to the nation-building process.

However, if full funding is not an option, then the government must offer tax rebates to parents who admit their children to these schools.

“We suggest that the government exclude tuition fees they pay from income tax or give direct deductions,” he said. “This would at least ease the burden of those who send their child to alternative schools.”

In regard to national unity, Megat Mohamed asked for more inter-school activities to be held, particularly between different types of schools.

“Many government-held activities are confined to single type of school, for instance a competition between national schools or Chinese schools.

“When are our children going to interact? There should be more activities between different types of schools so that they can better understand each other,” he said.

Mission schools and national unity

Malaya Christian School Council chairman, Yap Kok Keong, hoped mission schools can retain their English-teaching tradition, especially at a time when the government is keen to strengthen English standard among students.

He said despite mission schools having been converted to national schools in the 1970s, many of them still retain their strength in English.

“They are already English-medium schools in one sense, so why don’t we convert it back to English schools?” he asked.

Yap said currently school authorities only have power to decide 10% of their annual intake, and urged the government to increase the quota to 30% so that schools can continue to have a multiracial profile.

“This is one way in which we have contributed to bringing children of all races together. We want to maintain that. Mission schools can set an example by fostering a national identity,” said Yap.

Meanwhile, Tamil Foundation adviser K Arumugam said the government should accept Chinese and Indians as a general component of society who cannot be homogenised.

He said respect for multiculturism must be reflected in all policies of the government framework.

“Currently, government-aided schools [Chinese and Tamil schools] do not form part of the national system, so the schools are largely dependent on the support of the community.

“Imagine I’m a board chairman of a Tamil school, and I have to collect donation to repair the school toilet,” he said.

Currently there are 1,294 Chinese primary schools, 523 Tamil schools, 428 mission schools and more than 400 religious schools in the country.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak under the Budget 2013 unveiled recently has promised to allocate RM100 million each for Chinese, Tamil and mission schools.

No U-turn in Islam

In Islam renouncing Allah is an act of treason of the highest order against God.

Malaysia, being a multi-religious country, will have to live with the differences in religious beliefs among the various races. Among the differences that have become issues of contention are:

the pursuit by Muslim hardliners to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state;
the supremacy of the Quran versus the Federal Constitution;
the power of the syariah laws vis-à-vis that of the man-formulated (criminal) laws and principles of democracy;
the jurisdiction of the syariah courts versus that of the civil courts; and
an individual’s freedom of choice in religion or beliefs.

In essence, the main contention is the supremacy of the religion of Islam in a Muslim-majority country like Malaysia as advocated by the Muslim community versus the non-Muslims’ recognition of the supremacy of man-made laws over religion.

The Muslims believe everything centres on the teachings of their religion, but the non-Muslims contend that religion should be confined to one’s own personal spiritual belief.

Muslims believe that the religion of Islam, which has been established more than 1,400 years ago, has been proven to provide spiritual guidance and has become a way of life for the ummah (believers) in the Muslim countries till today.

Hence Islam should enhance its role to dictate its terms – vis-à-vis syariah laws – to its ummah. The syariah law is to ensure the religion continues its role as a beacon and custodian of believers.

Muslim scholars would then like to ensure that the syariah laws are implemented in a comprehensive way in the country applicable to Muslims.

On the other hand, the non-Muslims believe the issue of freedom of religion or beliefs is part of the democratic, constitutional and legal rights of an individual; thereby Islam as a religion should be confined to its spiritual teaching only.

In this article, I would like to confine my analysis on the freedom of religion and beliefs.

When the Quran states that there in no compulsion in religion, it means a Muslim cannot force a non-believer to embrace Islam and that a non-Muslim cannot force a Muslim to leave his religion.

However, a non-Muslim can embrace Islam on his own free will but a Muslim cannot leave his religion on his own free will!

In the first place, the terms “to be” or “to become” a Muslim are different from those of being a non-Muslim/non-believer.

Destiny pre-determined and irreversible

A born Muslim is already pre-determined as such by Qada and Qadar (fate and destiny).

Similarly fate pre-determines a person born as male or female, his time and place of birth, his parents, family, his place and time of death.

These matters or events are preordained by his/her personal fate and destiny. Believing that God determines the fate and destiny (pre-destined and the final outcome ) is the sixth pillar of faith in Islam.

It is a fact that the realities involving pre-determined fate and destiny are irreversible.

For a Muslim convert to become a Muslim, he has to declare a spiritual covenant between himself and the one God Allah and His messenger Muhammad (pbuh).

This spiritual declaration is the first pillar of Islam and is irrevocable. For a born Muslim it is mandatory that he declares his faith to Allah and His messenger Muhammad (pbuh), too.

Hence the spiritual agreement which is eternally binding does not give him the right to renounce the religion openly and officially he cannot leave the religion.

Therefore under syariah law it is a crime to renounce his religion. So when a born Muslim or a Muslim convert makes the declaration of faith, he is bound to adhere to all the terms of the teachings of the religion.

A person who renounces the spiritual covenant is called a “murtad” (apostate), while a Muslim who now and then breaches the terms of the vow is called a “munafiq” (hypocrite), which is a common sight in Malaysia, meaning that he is Muslim in name but acts otherwise.

There are many man-made agreements that are irrevocable and punishable.

Acts by a citizen that jeopardise national security is an act of treason against his country with severe penalties meted out; committing serious offences under the man-formulated laws such as the Dangerous Drug Act may result in the death penalty and so on.

‘Renouncing Allah is treason’

A husband/wife who dishonours his/her marriage vow by renouncing his partner or acts to dishonour his/her partner in public may result in divorce or even retaliations which may be brutal in nature.

In Islam, renouncing Allah as his One God is an act of treason of the highest order against God. On top of that he makes a mockery of the religion.

The Jews rejected only the holy prophets Isa and Muhammad (pbuh), yet God cursed them till the end of times.

So I leave it to your imagination the seriousness of the crime when a person declares openly that he rejects God after he declares his faith.

Hence the covenant is a spiritual agreement eternally binding between God and His servant, which is irrevocable in nature.

Therefore before a non-Muslim wishes to become a Muslim, the Muslim officials who preside over such declarations must brief the would-be-convert on the terms and conditions and implications of such oath, the need to discard his old beliefs and to be well-versed with Islamic knowledge, and be prepared to accept the demanding nature of the true Muslim way of life.

If they are very certain that he has decided to leave his old faith and would remain loyal to Islam till he dies, then the Islamic authorities can proceed to get him to declare his new faith; otherwise there is no point for a person to become a Muslim and later leave the religion.

The life or existence of all living and non-living things is a one way journey to God.

Muslims believe every living and non-living thing, once created, is placed on the path of the one way (returning) journey to God, each road paved out according to a pre-determined fate and destiny.

‘Reality debunks Big Bang theory’

Hence the life of a true Muslim involves the preparations for the returning journey to his creator.

Christians and those who believe in God also have similar beliefs. Whereas for the non-believers, life is about the beginning of outward journey to the new life, new world for mankind.

The reality proves that all living and non-living things are on the one-way journey returning to the creator.

All humans, once created, will go on the return mode in a “rush” to his physical death. The “rush” is at different speeds and at times some die young, others later while the rest at old age. Similarly with animals, plants and all cosmic entities – earth, sun, planets, stars and the galaxies.

All are commanded by their creator to rush through space at tremendous, unbelievable speeds towards a central point in space towards their final destination, which is destruction at the end of times.

However, like humans some will lose energy and die early along the way, turning into black holes. Such reality debunks the Big Bang theory which is talking about the outward bound journey towards new life, new space environment.

Hence there is no physical U-turn for any living or non-living thing in this universe. There is no avoiding death or destruction.

So what is the justification of a born Muslim or a convert trying to make a spiritual U-turn when he knows he cannot make a physical U-turn?

Awang Abdillah is a political analyst, writer and FMT columnist

Senawang folk choking in sawdust

Factory owners want DOE to find a permanent solution.

SENAWANG: Factory and workshop owners and their workers in the Senawang Light Industrial Area have been breathing in sawdust for the past six months and they have finally decided that enough is enough.

Senawang state assemblymen P Gunasekaran of DAP has taken up their cause and called on the Negeri Sembilan Department of Environment (DOE) to end the problem permanently.

He told reporters today that he complained to DOE three weeks ago, and the department immediately sent inspectors to the area. The air cleared immediately, but only for a couple of days.

“They came the same day that I called them,” he said. “The problem stopped, but started again after two or three days.”

Several factory owners who were at today’s conference blamed a sawmill operating in the area.

They complained about their workers getting sick and themselves suffering respiratory problems and eye irritation.

Workshop owner Liew Kok Yong said the problem would get worse on windy days.

Gunasekaran also spoke about a damaged bridge in the area and urged the Seremban Municipal Council to repair it.

A steel bar on one side of the bridge is broken. This happened about four months ago, according to Gunasekaran.

“I’ve sent letters, emails and photos to the council,” he said. “But no action has been taken.”

81,950 rakyat M’sia lepaskan kewarganegaraan

Dalam setahun, Malaysia secara purata kehilangan kira-kira 4,097 rakyatnya.

Sekitar Dewan Rakyat

KUALA LUMPUR: Seramai 81,950 rakyat Malaysia dikesan melepaskan taraf kewarganeraan mereka sejak tahun 1992, Dewan Rakyat diberitahu hari ini.

Ini menjadikan purata Malaysia kehilangan rakyatnya kira-kira 4,097 orang dan menjadi warganegara luar dalam setahun.

Jumlah itu dinyatakan Menteri Dalam Negeri Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein berikutan persoalan yang dibangkitkan Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) mengenai jumlah bilangan rakyat yang telah melepaskan kewarganegaraan mereka dalam tempoh 20 tahun lalu.

Adun BN hasut penduduk, dakwa peneroka Gatco

Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad didakwa menghasut penduduk Kampung Serampang Indah, Jelebu untuk menimbulkan suasana tegang di kalangan penduduk.

SEREMBAN: Seramai 16 peneroka Kampung Serampang Indah (Gatco) dari Jelebu membuat laporan polis di Ibu Pejabat Polis (IPD) Daerah Seremban lewat petang semalam dan mendakwa bahawa Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) BN-Sungai Lui, Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad menghasut penduduk kampung tersebut bagi menimbulkan suasana tegang di kalangan penduduk kampung Gatco itu sendiri.

Menurut Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Bertindak Peneroka Kampung Serampang Indah (Gatco), K Krishnan; dalam satu majlis di Balai Raya Kampung Serampang Indah pada 10 November lalu, Zainal Abidin dalam ucapan beliau dikatakan menghasut orang kampung untuk mewujudkan suasana tegang di kalangan penduduk kampung.

“Beliau menyeru kepada sekumpulan orang kampung untuk membuat laporan polis terhadap kami sekiranya kami menghalang pihak luar yang memasuki ladang yang kami usahakan selama ini.

“Kehadiran Datuk Zainal Abidin dalam majlis itu juga seolah-olah untuk meminta sokongan penduduk kampung untuk mempercepatkan usaha-usaha penebangan pokok getah di ladang kami.

“Sedangkan kami telah membuat laporan polis di Balai Polis Air Hitam dan meminta pihak polis mengawal keadaan dan kami tidak akan membenarkan mana-mana pihak memasuki ladang kami ini untuk sebarang aktiviti sebelum masalah peneroka diselesaikan terlebih dahulu”, kata Krishnan.

Krishnan kata peneroka Gatco telah menghantar satu memorandum kepada Menteri Besar Negeri Sembilan, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan pada 8 Ogos lepas dan mengutarakan masalah ini kepada beliau. Walaubagaimanapun Krishnan berkata mereka masih menunggu maklum balas dari Menteri Besar.

“Selagi Menteri Besar tidak memberikan jawapan beliau, kami tidak akan membenarkan mana-mana pihak memasuki dan melakukan sebarang kerja penebangan pokok getah di ladang kami.

“Tetapi dalam majlis tersebut Datuk Zainal Abidin mengeluarkan kenyataan yang berbentuk mengancam dan menakutkan kami dengan mengatakan bahawa beliau akan menyuruh Syarikat Thamarai Holdings untuk memasukkan ‘caveat’ terhadap tapak rumah kami dan kami tidak akan diberi seinci tanah pun.

Tindakan bercanggah

“Tindakan dan kelakuan beliau amatlah bercanggah dengan apa yang dikatakan oleh Menteri Besar ketika beliau hadir di Kampung Gatco dalam lawatan kerja pada 13 Julai tahun ini.

“Oleh itu kami mahu pihak polis siasat Datuk Zainal Abdidin dan pada masa yang sama pihak polis juga perlu mengawal keadaan di kampung kami dan menahan pihak-pihak tertentu yang sedang berusaha untuk mengeluarkan kayu getah dari ladang kami’, ujar Krishnan lagi.

Sementara itu Peguam Penasihat Peneroka Kampung Gatco, S Kartigesan pula berkata Zainal Abidin tidak sepatutnya mengugut dan menghasut penduduk kampung tersebut.

“Sepatutnya Kerajaan Negeri selesaikan kemelut hak pemilikan tanah ladang peneroka yang berlanjutan sejak sekian lama.

“Walaupun Menteri Besar mengumumkan setiap peneroka Kampung Gatco yang tetap akan menerima empat ekar tanah setiap seorang tetapi sehingga ke hari ini tiada dokumen atau perjanjian hitam putih tentang tawaran tersebut.

“Saya mendesak Menteri Besar selesaikan isu pembahagian tanah peneroka ini dengan segera’, kata Kartigesan.

Turut hadir menemani peneroka Gatco membuat laporan polis ialah Naib Pengerusi PKR Negeri Sembilan, V Aridass; Timbalan Yang DiPertua PAS Jelebu, Nor Anif Selamat dan Kordinator Hindraf Negeri Sembilan, S Sivakumar.

Perimekar, Terasasi tak terlibat dengan Scorpene

Kelengkapan ketenteraan dilakukan secara pembelian terus antara pembekal kerajaan dengan negara lain.

Sekitar Dewan Rakyat

KUALA LUMPUR: Kerajaan tidak pernah melantik mana-mana pihak ketiga atau orang tengah untuk menjalankan urusniaga pembelian kapal selam Perancis, Scorpene mahu pun jet tempur buatan Rusia, Sukhoi.

Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad menegaskan, kelengkapan ketenteraan dilakukan secara pembelian terus antara pembekal kerajaan dengan negara lain.

“Kami tidak pernah melantik pihak ketiga dalam pembelian mana-mana kelengkapan sama ada kapal selam, (Landrover) 8×8, ataupun Sukhoi.

“Semuanya melalui proses G2G (kerajaan kepada kerajaan). Dalam sejarah Malaysia tidak pernah lantik mana-mana ejen untuk beli kelengkapan kita,” katanya dalam Dewan Rakyat malam tadi.

Beliau turut menepis dakwaan penglibatan syarikat Perimekar Sdn Bhd milik isteri kepada bekas pembantu kanan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Abdul Razak Baginda sebagai orang tengah dalam pembelian Scorpene.

Sekaligus menafikan wujudnya konflik kepentingan pembelian itu dengan Terasasi (HK) Ltd milik Abdul Razak dan bapanya, Abdul Malim Baginda yang didakwa menerima duit komisyen sebanyak Euro 36 juta (RM144 juta) daripada pembelian Scorpene.

Sebaliknya, Abdul Latiff mendakwa perkara itu sengaja diputar belit pembangkang untuk mencalarkan imej Najib.

“Jelas perkara ini diputar-belitkan untuk menggambarkan kaitan antara Scorpene, Abdul Razak Baginda, Altantuya, dan (ahli Parlimen) Pekan.

“Ini semua nak calarkan nama Pekan (Najib)…fitnah semata-mata,” katanya.

Treat every victim equally Do we only care when Muslims are attacked and not when people of other faiths face the same oppression?

We should all, regardless of religion, protest at every act of aggression towards anyone because only then can we have any credibility.

Marina Mahathir
AS conflict once again erupts in Palestine, I am confronted with questions about our responses to the conflict. Why is it that Malaysian Muslims are always quick to condemn Israeli aggression in Palestine, especially towards Gaza and slow to condemn similar aggression elsewhere?

It’s a question well worth thinking about. Why have we been quick to voice loud protests about Palestine and begin fund-raising for relief work there, and so much slower to condemn the aggressors in the Syrian conflict, or in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and many other countries in the world?

Do we only care when Muslims are attacked and not when people of other faiths face the same oppression?

Palestine has perhaps a special place in the hearts of Muslims because of the position of Jerusalem as the third most important city for us after Mecca and Medina. It’s also probably the longest ongoing conflict in the world and regularly features in the news.

Whether you sympathise or not, you cannot escape news about Palestine, most of which is violent and depressing.

But the most misunderstood thing about the Palestinian conflict, by both Muslims and non-Muslims, is that it is a religious war. Many people tend to forget that Palestinians are not all Muslims.

About 4% of Palestinians living mostly in the West Bank and 10% of those living in Israel are Christian. They make up about 1% of the population of Gaza.

The majority of Christian Palestinians, however, now live outside Palestine because, like their Muslim neighbours, they were forced to emigrate and into refugee camps when their lands were given to Israel in 1948. Many people do not realise for example, that Dr Hanan Ashrawy, the articulate spokesman for the late Yasser Arafat, is in fact a Christian.

That fact, that in 1948 Palestinians were forced out of their land by an exodus of Jews from Europe, is essentially what the conflict is all about. If immigrants from elsewhere take over land from people who have lived there for thousands of years, then it is bound to create conflict.

Most conflicts around the world are about land and space, rather than about faith. And when that original source of conflict is further exacerbated by more grabbing of land as well as other forms of discrimination in education, housing and jobs, then the conflict will not only continue but will escalate.

When we look at things this way, then we can see the same pattern in other parts of the world. In places like Kashmir, southern Thailand, Sri Lanka, southern Philippines, the roots of conflict are similar.

In Africa, colonial-era division of land cuts across traditional tribal lands, making people of the same tribes citizens of different countries.

The most useful way to look at these conflicts is to view them from a human rights angle. If a wrong is perpetuated on one people, then it must also hold true for all others. Therefore, if we show support for Palestinians because their land has been taken away from them, then we must surely show support for all other people whose lands have been taken away from them.

At the same time, if we show support for all other people who are subjected to violence from far superior forces, then we must surely show support for the Gazans right now, facing daily pummeling from Israeli jets and drones.

And unless we truly believe that all people should face such violence by doing absolutely nothing, then we should look with some sympathy at those who throw rocks and dispatch rockets in retaliation against much superior firepower.

The point is that there cannot be double standards on human rights. The support for Palestine from Muslims comes at least partly from a belief that nobody else cares about them. As the many demonstrations around the world show, this is not true.

There are Israelis and non-Zionist Jews who have protested against the attacks on Gaza. But we should all, regardless of religion, protest at every act of aggression towards anyone because only then can we have any credibility.

Thus while we might protest about American drones killing civilians in Afghanistan, we should also protest at the attempted murder of a teenage Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, for simply wanting to go to school.

What is more, we should be offering solutions for lasting peace, instead of complaining and shouting slogans that we know ultimately will do little beyond making us feel good.

How does it help the Gazans if we go and burn a few foreign flags and then go off to gossip about local politics at the nearest nasi lemak stall?

Malaysia's Anwar Faces an Islamic Revolt

The hadjis are in charge again
The hadjis are in charge again
PAS says it wants to run any opposition government that might be elected
The always-delicate relationship between Malaysia’s three opposition parties is growing strained again in the wake of the annual general conference of Parti Islam se-Malaysia, the conservative Islamic member of the coalition.

The issues are Hudud – Islamic law – and designation of Malaysia as an Islamic state. The other two wings of the coalition, the Chinese-majority Democratic Action Party and the urban, liberal largely Malay Parti Keadilan Rakyat, want nothing to do with either issue, leaving Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim with the task of trying to bring his coalition back together and particular to keep the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party in the fold.

The controversy gives Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak a made-to-order issue to paint the ruling Barisan Nasional, or ruling national coalition, as a force for moderation that will look after the well-being of the Chinese against the forces of radical conservative Islam. The Barisan has already begun energetically exploiting those issues through government-controlled media.

Until the Nov. 16 PAS general meeting, according to political analysts in Kuala Lumpur, the issues of Hudud and Islamic law which had been brought up occasionally had been regarded as fealty to rhetoric to keep the conservative wing of the party happy. Indeed, Hadi Awang, the party leader, opened the general conference on Nov. 16 with a speech that emphasized the common agenda – the so-called Buku Jingga, or yellow book on which the coalition is based –and issues over national elections expected to be held in April of 2013, only to have the conservatives stage a revolt.

PAS has managed to stay largely in the moderate camp on the strength of a clique of leaders called the “Erdogans” after the moderate Islamic Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has headed the Turkish government since 2003. In June of 2011, moderate rank and file members staged a dramatic revolution at the party’s annual congress, electing secular leaders and abandoning the rural-based party’s traditional call to convert the country into an Islamic state.

The largest party in Anwar’s coalition, PAS had long turned off urban Malays and other ethnic minorities, particularly the Chinese, with its demands for observance of strict conservative Islamic laws. Given the size of its membership, its organizational abilities and its potential to take votes away from the United Malays National Organization, the country’s biggest political party, PAS unity and support are crucial to the opposition coalition.

At the 2011 party congress, newer, urban followers of PAS, having fled both the racial stridency and endemic corruption of UMNO and the disorganization of Anwar’s PKR, elected a slate of officers headed by Mohamad Sabu, a galvanic public speaker from Penang and former member of Anwar’s Parti Keadilan who was twice detained under the country's Internal Security Act.

Sabu led the moderates' charge, winning the party deputy presidency and crucially defeating a minority of conservatives seeking to lead a splinter group to link up with UMNO. Salahuddin Ayub, Husam Musa and Mahfuz Omar, elected as moderate vice presidents, completed a leadership team reflecting the party's changing membership and leaving the Islamists out in the cold.

The strains have been there ever since. At the party general assembly last week, Fact that the delegates debating Hadi’s speech largely skirted the controversial issues, caused the revolt of the ulamas, or religious councils, and the youth wing, who charged that the party had deviated from PAS’s longtime agenda.

Eventually, the conservatives proved they weren’t just there for lip service to the rhetoric. They won a provision agreeing that PAS would assume the leading role in the three-party alliance, and that Hadi would be the coalition’s pick for prime minister – not Anwar, who cobbled the opposition together and who has led it since 2008. Eventually the assembly approved the conservative agenda with Hadi tacitly going along with the idea.

That has sent shock waves traveling through the Chinese community, who want nothing to do with a government that would restrict alcohol use and the consumption of pork, practice gender segregation, strict dress codes and demand general conformity to Islamic practices.

“Above all these is the implementation of the much feared but little understood Hudud and the Islamic legal system, with all its vague implications. In short, such a new Pakatan rule is envisaged to adversely alter their present way of life,” write Kim Quek, a longtime Kuala Lumpur-based political commentator and a member of Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat. “Accuracy aside, these are common perceptions and initial reflexes of many in the Chinese community.”

Bridgit Welsh, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore, argued in an analysis printed in the Kuala Lumpur-based Malaysiakini that: “The image of PAS as a group of mullahs defending narrow conceptualizations of tradition and religion, banning social activities and limiting freedoms is no longer fair. “

PAS’s identity as a party is changing,” she wrote. “While some in the old guard and their protégées in the Youth wing are uncomfortable with PAS’s more modern open approach, the leadership as a whole, presided by Abdul Hadi Awang and reinforced by an overwhelming majority of progressives in the central committee and as members of parliament, embraced collaboration and greater tolerance.”

The question is whether the voters – particularly Chinese ones – are going to believe that, and whether they are sufficiently fed up with corruption in the ruling Barisan Nasional to stick with the opposition, The Malayian Chinese Association. Getting the horses back into the stable and his coalition back together is going to be a big job for Anwar.

International Community Must Have Courage To Reject Violence In All Forms - Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Bernama) -- The international community must have the courage, guided by moral clarity, to reject violence in all its forms wherever it occurs and whoever it affects, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the determination of those who spoke out against conflict, those who dedicated their lives to measuring its effects on health and well-being, served as an inspiration, not just for this generation but future generations, as well.

"It is incumbent on us, the governing generation, to make the changes that the children here today deserve. To show through our actions that to be a broker for peace is infinitely greater than a driver of conflict," Najib said in his speech at a dinner held in conjunction with an International Conference on War-Affected Children at Dewan Tun Dr Ismail in Putra World Trade Centre here tonight.

Also present were wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, former prime minister and Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War (KLFCW) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, who is also founder of Criminalise War Clubs (Malaysian chapter).

Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and wife, Datin Seri Masnah Rais, also attended the dinner.

Najib also believed that Malaysia had a strong story to tell, as the nation had sent doctors to Kabul, and peacekeepers to the Congo in the 1960s, as well as playing a key role in the Bangsamoro negotiations.

He noted that Malaysia stood ready to help resolve conflicts, whether in the Middle East or close to home, and this readiness had been tested over the past few days as the violence in Gaza intensified.

"Last week, I spoke with President Morsi of Egypt about the prospects for a ceasefire and called for greater international efforts to stop the violence. On Tuesday, the Malaysian Parliament passed an emergency motion, condemning Israeli military aggression. I have raised the matter with President Barack Obama, urging him and the United States to act," he said.

Najib also expressed great relief to the news of a ceasefire in Gaza this morning, and called on both sides to now stand true to the agreement and ensure there was no further destruction of property or loss of life.

"I join with other leaders for a total removal of the blockade of Gaza, so that Palestinians can enjoy the right to life and livelihood that they deserve," he said.

In expressing thanks for the ceasefire, Najib hoped it would hold, and looked forward for a long-term solution as it was time to break the cycle of violence.

"We should focus now on the broader Middle East peace process, in ensuring that the region moves from conflict to stability, so that its people have the security and dignity they deserve," he said.

The prime minister said, today's dinner was to pay tribute to the least deserving victims of conflict, namely the children and young people, whose lives were shattered by war.

He also paid tribute to Dr Siti Hasmah and her team for their efforts and achievements in bringing in the most difficult subject matter to the world's attention.

At the same function, Najib, together with Rosmah, Dr Mahathir, Dr Siti Hasmah, Dr Rais and Masnah, signed the Children's Charter to Criminalise War.

Rosmah also presented a cheque for RM1 million to the Gaza Emergency Fund to KLFCW. The donation, from various parties, was initiated by Rosmah since 2008, under the flagship of Gaza Appeal.

Death in police custody – S Kalaiselvam (Sultan Ismail Hospital; 22 Nov 2010)

Two years ago today, 21-year-old S Kalaiselvam died at the Sultan Ismail Hospital, Johor Bahru, Johore, reportedly of a suspected lung infection.  S Kalaiselvam had been held under the Emergency Ordinance at the Kota Tinggi police station from 21 Sept 2010.  

His father claimed the police had neglected to ensure S Kalaiselvam received adequate treatment for the chest pains and appetite loss he had suffered for over a month.

The Johor Bahru High Court ordered a second post-mortem and an inquest into S Kalaiselvam’s death.  However, at the time of writing, no further details on the inquest were available in the media. 

Every death in custody must be thoroughly and impartially investigated.  S Kalaiselvam’s death must not be relegated to a mere statistic.  
Based on the statistics disclosed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 156 persons died in police custody between the year 2000 until February 2011.

We express our heartfelt condolences to S Kalaiselvam’s family and friends on this anniversary of his death.

Death in police custody – S Suria Ramesh (Kota Setar district police lock-up; 22 Nov 2008)

Four years ago today, 29-year-old S Suria Ramesh reportedly died in the Kota Setar district police lock-up two days after he had been arrested in Kulim.

Despite the requirement that all custodial deaths be investigated by inquiries conducted pursuant to Chapter XXXII of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is not clear that an inquest has been conducted into S Suria Ramesh’s death.

Every death in custody must be thoroughly and impartially investigated.  S Suria Ramesh’s death must not be relegated to a mere statistic.

Based on the statistics disclosed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 156 persons died in police custody between the year 2000 until February 2011.

We express our heartfelt condolences to S Suria Ramesh’s family and friends on this anniversary of his death.

Give us power over our own land, says orang asli

The Sun
by Alyaa Alhadjri

SUBANG JAYA (Nov 22, 2012): An orang asli spokesman from Tasik Chini, Pahang, proposed today for the community to be given more power to administer the ancestral lands which they have been calling 'home' for generations.

Tasik Chini action committee chairman Ismail Muhammad, speaking on behalf of some 5,000 orang asli from the Jakun tribe, said this could be done if the government enact a law which not only recognised the community's right to their lands, but also to prevent "rampant destruction" of natural resources which surround the areas.

"As long as the power (to govern) is left in the hands of politicians, I do not see when there will be an end to (logging and mining) activities, which negatively affects our livelihood," said Ismail.

"We can scream and shout to the heavens, but as long as there is no law (which gives power), nothing will change," said Ismail during the launch of Transparency-International Malaysia (TI-M)'s documentary on Tasik Chini here yesterday.

The 37-minute documentary titled "Hacking at Harmony: Tasik Chini and Ecosystem on the Brink" was produced as part of TI-M's Forest Governance Integrity Programme, in collaboration with NGOs, local communities and government agencies.

Aimed at addressing issues and challenges on forest governance, Tasik Chini was selected as a pilot site for the programme, following concerns over the degradation of Malaysia's only Unesco Biosphere Reserve.

Widespread commercial activities on sites which borders several orang asli villages around Tasik Chini has since caused the once clear blue water to turn murky brown, destroying its once famed lotuses and various fishes - a main source of livelihood for the community.

Peninsula Malaysia Orang Asli Network representative Shafie Dris also claimed that the people in power are largely "ignorant" of demands made by the community.

"The perception is that we are demanding for large acres of lands ... In fact, all we want is for the government to recognise the rights to our ancestral lands, where we have been residing for generations, and will continue to do so for generations to come," said Shafie.

Tenaganita programme officer Katrina Mariamauv meanwhile noted that comments made by the orang asli representatives reflected the "urgency" felt by the people over a need to protect their lands from rampant development.

"While awareness raising (initiatives) are crucial and important, but the time for action is right now!" she said.

Mariamauv called for the parties benefiting from the "destruction" of natural resources to be made accountable for their actions.

Speaking at a press conference, TI-M secretary general Josie Fernandez said the official documentary will also be distributed to policy-makers in hope of inspiring positive change.

Fernandez earlier chaired a forum on threatened forest sites in Malaysia which saw two speakers elaborating on impacts of rampant logging and commercial development to the Segari Melintang forest reserve in Perak, as well as the Tranum forest reserve in Pahang.