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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mayan Calendar Never Meant To Show End Of The World, Historians Say

Mayan Calendar Never Meant To Show End Of The World, Historians Say

The Mayan calendar is a hieroglyphic laden artifact that “ends” on December 21, but experts in the ancient culture said that Mayans never meant that to mean the end of the world was coming.

Time was measured differently on the Mayan calendar than it is today, counting individual days.

“That’s somewhat different from our own calendar, which is really tied to the length of the solar year,” Walter Witschey, an archaeologist and Maya expert at Longwood University in Virginia, told LiveScience.

The Mayans actually used three different calendars. Their sacred calendar, or Tzolk’in, lasted 260 days and then started over again, sort of like the modern 365-day calendar. It was used for scheduling religious ceremonies.

Another Mayan calendar was known as the Haab’, or secular calendar. This one lasted 365 days but didn’t take into account leap years for the extra time the earth revolves around the sun, so the seasons gradually shifted under this calendar.

The Mayan calendar that’s spurred talks of an apocalypse is the Long Count Calender. This measures in major cycles, the last of which ends approximately on December 21.

The Mayans themselves didn’t believe the end of their calendar meant an apocalypse was near, LiveScience notes. In fact, the only two drawing ever found about the end of the Mayan calender showed contemporary kings being remembered far into the future. Much of the hype around the so-called Mayan apocalypse came not from a misunderstanding about the Mayan calender but the desire of conspiracy theorists and marketers to take on the popularity of end-of-the-world predictions, CBS News noted.

“All week I’ve been telling people, ‘Don’t quit your day job. For God’s sake, pay your rent and do your laundry.’ The thing is Mayans never made this prophesy,” author Michio Kaku, a physics professor at the City University of New York and expert on the Mayan calendar. “This was hijacked. Hijacked by a doomsday machine that every 10 years, sells books, does TV specials propagating these things. Remember Y2K? Every 10 years … This a cash cow unfortunately.”

"Tak berganjak selagi tak jumpa Isa"

'MACC statement does not clear lawyer Cecil'

Enforce 100% ban on meat and alcohol in Pandharpur or face agitation : HJS

Nagpur (Maharashtra) : While the case of sale of animals of cow lineage to butchers by Shri Viththal-Rukmini temple managing committee of the government is still fresh in mind, the President of Pandharpur Municipal Council has encroached on the faith of Hindus by requesting Home Minister, Mr. R. R. Patil, for the government grant of Rs. 60 lakhs to build an advanced slaughterhouse in Pandharpur itself. The implementation of Act to ban the cow-slaughter in the state is essential, but similarly, the government should also reject the request for building a slaughterhouse in Pandharpur, and Pandharpur should be made 100% free of meat and alcohol on the lines of other places of pilgrim such as Haridwar and Rushikesh. Otherwise, an agitation will be conducted to meet these demands. This was declared by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Rashtriya Warkari Sena in a press conference arranged on behalf of these 2 organisations.

Presently, the slaughter of cow lineage is going on in a large proportion, in the nation along with the state. The Union government has not yet given consent to implement the Act to ban the cow-slaughter. In such a situation, to demolish the conspiracy to discolour the water of pious Chandrabhaga river with the blood by building slaughterhouse, Warkari and devout Hindus have shown their preparedness. The government should also reject the request for building a slaughterhouse in Pandharpur, and Pandharpur should be made 100% free of meat and alcohol on the lines of other places of pilgrim such as Haridwar and Rushikesh. The government, which takes progressive step like banning Gutkha to keep young generation free from addition, should also take this next progressive step. Otherwise, we will perform Kirtan (Devotional songs) with Tal-Mrudung (Cymbals and drums) in front of every ‘permit room’. This warning was issued by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Rashtriya Warkari Sena.

Despite the presence of Tribal Develoment Minister, Mr. Babanrao Pachpute of NCP, who himself claims to be a Warkari, Guardian Minister of Solapur District, Mr. Lakshamanrao Dhobale and other Miinisters in power, such kinds of conspiracies are being hatched. Warkaris will seriously think as to who is really behind all these conspiracies. The direction of future agitations will be decided on considering above facts.

Conspiracy to finish Warkari sect ! – H. B. P. Rameshwar Maharaj Shastri

We are strongly opposed to build a slaughterhouse in Pandharpur. This conspiracy has been intentionally hatched by the government. This conspiracy is hatched to denigrate the sanctity of this pious place and thus, finish the Warkari sect. Those, who tried to incite Warkari sect have themselves been finished. If a slaughterhouse has been built here, the government will be the first to be butchered in it. Such was reaction of H. B. P. Rameshwar Maharaj Shastri while talking with the reporter of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’.

Conspiracy to build a slaughterhouse will be strongly opposed ! - H. B. P. Prakash Maharaj Javanjal

President of Maharashtra Warkari Mahamandal H. B. P. Prakash Maharaj Javanjal said, ‘Firstly, I strongly protest the conspiracy to build a slaughterhouse in Pandharpur. All Warkaris will unite to strongly oppose this conspiracy and will not let slaughterhouse be built.

UN Urges Indonesia, Nations to Ban Female Genital Mutilation

United Nations. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on Thursday urging countries to ban female genital mutilation, calling it an “irreparable, irreversible abuse” that threatens about three million girls annually.

The resolution, which is not legally binding, asks the 193 UN members to “take all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit female genital mutilations and to protect women and girls from this form of violence.”

The World Health Organization estimates that about 140 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation. Campaigners liken the psychological effects of female genital mutilation to those of rape.

Female genital mutilation — the partial or total removal of external female genitalia — is prevalent in 28 African countries and parts of the Middle East and Asia, notably Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan and Indonesia.

It is carried out for cultural, religious and social reasons and is also known as female circumcision.

Female genital mutilation is also found in industrialized countries among some immigrant populations. Countries where the practice is near universal include Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea.

The resolution, which was adopted by consensus, also expressed concern about “evidence of an increase in the incidence of female genital mutilations being carried out by medical personnel in all regions in which they are practiced.”

“This practice, justified on false pretenses by supposed cultural and religious tenets, remains a taboo subject, misunderstood and misinterpreted in several societies,” Burkina Faso’s UN Ambassador Der Kogda told the General Assembly. Burkina Faso has led the move to try and stamp out the practice.

“We need to break the silence that has surrounded FGM [female genital mutilation]... and move towards its elimination,” Kogda said.

Some practitioners believe female genital mutilation will prevent sex before marriage and promiscuity afterwards; others say it is part of preparing a girl for womanhood and is hygienic. Opponents say it can also cause bleeding, shock, cysts and infertility, as well as severe psychological effects.

Below are some facts about FGM:

* An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to FGM. In Africa alone, it is thought that three million girls may undergo FGM every year.

* FGM is prevalent in 28 African countries and parts of the Middle East and Asia, notably Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan and Indonesia. It is also found in industrialized countries among some immigrant populations. Countries where the practice is near universal include Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Mali and Guinea.

* There are several types of FGM. The most serious is called infibulation and involves the partial or total removal of the genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening. Clitoridectomy is the partial/total removal of the clitoris and/or hood. Excision is the partial/total removal of the clitoris and labia. FGM also includes all other harmful practices to the genitalia like pricking, piercing, scraping and cauterizing.

* FGM is mostly carried out between infancy and 15. The procedure is arranged by the women in the family.

* It is usually performed by traditional cutters who may use anything from razor blades to scissors, broken glass or tin can lids. However there is an increasing trend in some countries like Indonesia for hospitals to perform FGM.

* FGM is found among Muslim and Christian communities. It is also practiced by followers of some indigenous religions. People often believe FGM is required by religion, but it is not mentioned in the Koran or any other religious text.

* Reasons for carrying out FGM vary. Some communities believe it preserves a girl’s virginity, prevents promiscuity after marriage and increases male sexual pleasure. Parents say it is an act of love because it purifies the girl, brings her status and prepares her for marriage. It is also mistakenly believed to enhance fertility and make childbirth safer for the baby.

* FGM can cause severe bleeding, pain, shock, recurrent urinary tract infections, cysts and infertility. It increases the risk of labor complications and newborn deaths. The procedure itself can prove fatal.

* A recent study in Iraq found girls who had had FGM were more prone to post-traumatic stress disorders, depression and other psychological disturbances than girls who hadn’t. Campaigners liken the psychological effects to those suffered by rape victims. The silence surrounding FGM may also compound the girl’s sense of isolation.

* FGM has been banned by 20 of the 28 FGM-practicing countries in Africa as well as many industrialized countries. But enforcement of the law is usually weak and prosecutions are rare.

* FGM violates a plethora of international treaties which many FGM-practicing countries have agreed to. These include the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Maputo Protocol on women’s rights adopted by the African Union.


Brother of Osama Bin Laden to Produce $1 Billion Movie on Prophet Mohammed

Gulf media are reporting that a Doha-based company owned by a brother of Osama Bin Laden is producing a $1 billion dollar movie on the life and teachings of the Prophet Mohammad. According to the Gulf News report, Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi is serving as an advisor to the film:

December 19, 2012 A $1 billion epic movie on the life and teachings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is set to be produced by Doha-based Al Noor Holding. The media company said that the movie endorsed by Islamic scholars, including Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, would be in seven parts and would be produced according to the highest international standards using the most sophisticated technical and audio-visual systems. The company on Monday said that the team of experts has finished writing the scenario after overcoming a series of artistic and dramatic challenges. The approval of leading Muslim scholars was necessary for the company to move ahead with the movie production. ‘We are aware of the fact that this (film) is a difficult and a challenging task,' Al Noor Holding said in September. ‘This is why we have consulted many famous Islamic scholars, among them Dr Al Qaradawi, who will guide us on the Sharia aspect of the film.' Under strict Islamic laws, prophets cannot be depicted on screen or in print and the movie will be no exception. However, his companions will appear in the movie screen, in a decision that breaks with long-held views that their status among Muslims does not allow their depiction or embodiment on screen either. At the media opportunity in Doha on Monday, Al Qaradawi said that he conducted his own research and that he consulted with 30 senior scholars on showing the Prophet's companions in a movie. ‘Following the studies and the consultations, I have come to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with showing the companions in dramatic work,' he said. ‘I used to oppose the idea as we have formed our own cognitive image and characterization of the prophets and companions and that we should not distort them with human images. However, following long researches and studies, I realised that we have been excessive in our approach and that there is no text or reference in the Quran or in the Prophet's Tradition and Sayings that does not allow it,' he said in remarks published by Qatari daily Al Sharq on Tuesday.

'MACC statement does not clear lawyer Cecil'

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's statement that senior lawyer Cecil Abraham was not involved in closing investigations into ex-private investigator P Balasubramaniam is not sufficient to clear him of allegations of involvement in the drafting of Bala's second statutory declaration.

NONEMACC operations review chairperson Hadenan Abdul Jalil's statement yesterday shows that the anti-graft body is "more concerned with defending its decision (to close the case)" rather than to investigate a wrongdoing, PKR vice-president Tian Chua (left) told a press conference today.

"Why is MACC so quickly coming up to deny things, especially since Cecil is sitting on the (operations review) panel? It's not good enough to issue a statement to say he was not involved (in closing the case).

"(It) doesn't mean that the whole issue of the falsification of an SD does not exist. This has been corroborated by at least two individuals," Tian Chua said, referring to Bala and carpet trader Deepak Jaikishan,

Instead of washing the panel's hands off the matter, he added, the MACC and the police should reopen investigations into possible offences, including "the making of a false statutory declaration, perjury, kidnap, extortion, bribery, corrupt practices, murder and the attempted covering-up of such offences".
These, he said, included Sections 107 and 120A of the Penal Code and Section 191 of the Statutory Declaration Act 1960.

Malaysiakini has contacted Cecil by way of fax, email and a letter by hand, and is awaiting his reply.
‘PM and Rosmah not on the list’

Besides Bala and Deepak, Tian Chua said, the authorites should immediately record the statements of Cecil, the prime minister’s brother Nazim Abdul Razak and lawyer Arulampalam.

Arulampalam was photographed by Bernama accompanying Bala at the press conference to reveal the second statutory declaration.

Tian Chua said this was because the five people had material contact with Bala and Deepak in relation to the signing of the second statutory declaration.

NONEPrime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor are not included in the list, he said, as they were “not materially present in these meetings”.

“Whether Nazim came on behalf of Najib, or whether Rosmah met Deepak, we don’t know... Let's leave (the PM and his wife) alone first, we don’t want to defame the PM unnecessarily.

“What we want to know is whether Deepak really defamed the PM by making up these stories, and how these stories coincide with Bala's statement. We need the police to investigate,” Tian Chua said.

On claims that Deepak was paid by the opposition to make such claims, he said this was precisely the reason that the police should investigate.

Deepak sex video ‘not of concern’

He added that claims that a sex video involving Deepak would materialise soon “are not of our concern” as it is not up to “media, politicians or bloggers” to determine the credibilty of Deepak’s claims or his character.

Pro-establishment websites, including Mynewshub, have claimed that a sex video involving Deepak and a “Malay-looking lady” will circulate on the Internet soon.

Asked if the police were perhaps waiting for a report to be lodged by the prime minister himself, he said: “The DAP has lodged a police report against Deepak and PKR Youth, too, has lodged one on the issue. These are known facts.

“If what Bala and Deepak said are untrue, these two should be probed for attempting to criminally defame the PM and his wife,” he said.

Tian Chua added that the fact that Najib had sworn on the Quran to say that he has never met murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu does not negate the need for an investigation into the conflicting statutory declarations.

Also at the press conference was PKR treasurer and Selayang MP William Leong and PKR's Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul, who said that the integrity of both the MACC and the police are now on the line.

‘We have proof top cops pally with crooks’

Top police officers have been involved in criminal activities, according to MyWatch, which claims to have the evidence.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Crime Watch Task Force, or MyWatch, today claimed that it has in its possession evidence that top police officers are involved in criminal activities.

R Sri Sanjeevan, the chairman of the watchdog NGO, threatened to make public the information unless the Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar agrees to meet with the group so that an open, high-profile investigation can be carried out immediately.

“We have all the evidence that top police officers are involved in money laundering, illegal gambling, prostitution, football bookies and have direct links with underworld figures and kingpins. Yet to date, there is no answer and no action by the IGP,” Sanjeevan said in a statement.

Sanjeevan also cited a case where a top police officer was given an “all-expense paid trip overseas to play golf with an underworld kingpin” as well as as one where “one senior police official’s son and daughter is working for a kingpin with special privileges”.

“Aren’t they [officers] obliged in some ways to them [kingpins]? Isn’t that conflict of interest?” asked Sanjeevan.

He said that Ismail cannot choose to keep quiet and must act without fear or favour against corrupt officers, which are now being slowly revealed by former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan.

“I again invite the IGP to meet with us so we can pass such evidence to him or we will be forced to make this information public. All police officers should be accountable for their actions and must have more sense of responsibility when dealing with crime or public,” said Sanjeevan.

Aside from Ismail, Sanjeevan urged Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, and the Home Ministry secretary-general Abd Rahim Mohd Radzi to respond to Musa’s past allegations.

Several bombshells

“Musa has clearly mentioned that there is meddling and interference by the Home Minister and the secretary-general into police matters. For example, giving direct instruction to state police chiefs, CID chiefs, and junior officers but since then there has been no answer by anyone.

“So [by keeping silent] I assume they silently ‘agreed’ to what we have revealed,” he said.

In recent weeks, Musa had dropped several bombshells, alleging that politicians have been interfering with police work and that criminal elements have infiltrated the force.

He also pointed out that there may have been cases of abuse of power at the top level when several senior policemen were transferred out for refusing to approve an “unsound” walkie-talkie project.

Musa also labelled Ismail a “yes man” and had urged the latter to be tough, revealing one example when Ismail allegedly cried after he was scolded for following the orders of former home minister Syed Hamid Albar to arrest a reporter under the then Internal Security Act (ISA).

Following these disclosures, several quarters have hit back at the former top cop, questioning Musa’s timing and credibility. They also brought up the “copgate” issue where Musa is alleged to have links to underworld figures.

Musa’s detractors included Hishammuddin, businessman Robert Phang, former KL CID chief Mat Zain Ibrahim, former Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Ramli Yusuff and his lawyer Rosli Dahlan.

Responding to the attacks, Sanjeevan said that these are merely attempts to divert the NGO’s focus on crime, and threatened to take legal action against “those who continue to make false and malicious accusations”.

Strictly a NGO

He said that most of the allegations coming out against Musa are “old cases” which “Musa himself has clarified and answered previously”.

“Some of these allegations have been heard and cleared in court. Therefore it is not wise to talk about them anymore unless the cases are being re-opened for investigation,” he said.

Sanjeevan said that a suit against Phang, who alleged that MyWatch was being bankrolled by criminal syndicates, is being finalised.

On doubts raised on MyWatch’s political neutrality, Sanjeevan said that MyWatch is strictly a NGO and is not backed by any political party.

“Our focus will always be on rising crime rate, wrong-doings in the police force and assistance to victims of any crime,” said Sanjeevan, who is a PKR Negeri Sembilan Youth executive council member.

Meanwhile, Sanjeevan said MyWatch is expanding to states and districts with 200 new members joining.

He said that anyone can be a member or can be a whistleblower to highlight wrong-doings, adding that a hotline will be set up soon.

‘We are watching the Bar Council closely’

Lawyer-turned-activist Haris Ibrahim welcomes the council’s decision to probe for possible misconduct in the drafting of the second SD, but still has reservations.

PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council’s decision to investigate the drafting of P Balasubramaniam’s second statutory declaration (SD) is a step in the right direction and will be monitored closely, lawyer-turned-activist Haris Ibrahim said today.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee told The Malaysian Insider today that it would look into possible misconduct surrounding the second SD, though he declined to elaborate.

The SD reversed an earlier one Balasubramaniam had signed, which implicated prime minister Najib Tun Razak in the 2006 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Haris told FMT: “This is good. Since they declined to elaborate, my immediate reaction would be that it is a welcome announcement.

“The Bar Council must be thorough and leave no stone unturned in their investigations, and to conduct it without fear or favour.”

He said that he would be watching the Bar Council for any missteps, and that he would not hesitate to voice out his dissatisfaction if any aspect of the probe was seen to be wanting.

Carpet trader Deepak Jaikishan revealed in a recent interview with PAS organ Harakah that a “Tan Sri” lawyer and his son had been involved in the preparation of the second SD.

The name of the lawyer, however, was bleeped out in the video interview.

Following the disclosure, Haris wrote to the council on Monday requesting that it probe the lawyers’ identity as well as ascertain if there was impropriety in the preparation of the second SD.

But when Lim said more evidence was required for the Bar Council to take action, Haris wrote a second letter on Wednesday, this time disclosing the names of the lawyers.

However, Haris refused to reveal the names to the public.

Bar must answer two questions

The Tan Sri lawyer was finally revealed to be Cecil Abraham, who sits on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) panel. In exposing the lawyer’s identity, former member of MACC advisory panel Robert Phang urged Abraham to come forward and verify the claims.

However, Balasubramaniam’s lawyer, Americk Singh Sidhu, stressed that Abraham was a “barrister of the highest integrity” and maintained that it was “unthinkable” for Abraham to have been involved in the preparation of the second SD.

“We must await the outcome of the Bar Council’s investigation. Americk is articulating feelings from a long period of friendship, so what he said was understandable. But it is not based on investigation of facts,” said Haris.

“I’m glad that the Bar Council has agreed to move in the right direction, but it must answer two questions: Who drafted the SD, and what were the circumstances in that it was affirmed?

“I mean, Bala has come out and said that he didn’t even instruct the lawyer to draw it out. He wasn’t even permitted to read what he was signing,” he added.

Haris was referring to a statement by Americk yesterday, where he alleged that the second SD had been drafted without the latter’s input. He also claimed that Balasubramaniam was forced to sign the second SD because of threats to the safety of his wife and children.

“So when you take these circumstances into account, the Bar Council must appraise if there was impropriety in the preparation of the SD,” said Haris. “This is not a mundane, benign SD that involves, say, replacing one’s lost MyKad.

“It involves Balasubramaniam confessing an offence, and he was not even privy to what he was signing. The public must know if impropriety took place, and so must the Bar Council,” said Haris.

Don’t see DAP congress with Umno mindset

The recent DAP polls showed that Malays in the party must earn their keep and keep their peace.

A total of eight Malay candidates contested for places in DAP’s central executive committee (CEC) last week. But no Malay candidates won any place.

Also, more Indians offered themselves in the contest but only M Kulasegaran got in.

I don’t hear them grumbling or getting gruffy. Perhaps the Malay DAP members must learn from them a thing or two.

Why didn’t any of the Malays get selected? Perhaps it’s the fault of the candidates and the delegates and also the DAP leadership.

But first let’s set aside one issue – viewing the results with an Umno mindset.

The worse thing any Malay DAP member or leader can do is to read what has just happened at the 16th DAP national congress with an Umno mindset.

And what is this Umno mindset? The Umno mindset is that you deserve to get something just because you are Umno.

Umno is built on the idea that you can get ahead by cutting corners, leveraging politics, exploiting inherited status and so forth.

But the world does not operate on these terms. The world moves on, driven by people’s abilities and on what they can contribute.

And this is typically NOT the Umno mindset.

DAP leadership’s weakness

In DAP, recognition, respect and appreciation must be earned irrespective of creed and stature.

All of us, not only Malays, must now begin to think if we have not already done so, that we move on in life being assessed by:

what we can do rather than who we are. That would depend on our abilities, resolve and single-mindedness; and
the belief that anyone and not just specific persons with specific surnames can do specific jobs. Today, it’s Lim Guan Eng who is the secretary-general. In a few years, it may be another person with a another surname, judged by his peers as having the qualities and abilities to do the job.

The DAP leadership has not abandoned its agenda for “inclusiveness”.

But what the results did reveal is that it has some weaknesses in translating this agenda into practice.

It showed that the leadership hasn’t done enough to educate the delegates and DAP members of the importance of inclusiveness.

I was at the congress and I listened to Lim’s matter-of-fact speech. There was no histrionics or banshee-like screaming.

But I thought there was a little misreading of the delegate’s mood. The majority of the delegates have been conditioned over the years by the baneful influence of race-centric thinking.

They are not accustomed to adjusting their thinking after years of being perceived as Chinese chauvinists.

If this mood was read correctly, maybe Lim could have applied some moderating influence by mentioning that he would like the delegates to reflect the party’s multiracial agenda in their voting.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman but has now joined DAP. He is a FMT columnist.

Najib is too proud to bow before the people

Hell would freeze over before the prime minister would apologise for his wrongdoings.

Last July, the New York Times (NYT) carried a report on the apology by the outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, for the various corruption scandals said to have undermined his government. Several close colleagues and relatives of the president had been prosecuted and jailed. Many of them had influenced the workings of the government.

In recent weeks, Malaysians have noticed a succession of people who have come forward to implicate Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor, his brother Nazim Abdul Razak as well as those in positions of responsibility, such as Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

These people, whose reputations are tarnished, appear to have no desire to clear their names, nor deny the allegations. Have they complete disregard for the rakyat?

Was it pure coincidence that Rosmah has announced the publication of her biography, which she and her “publishing adviser”, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Ahmad Maslan, claim will address the various allegations made against her? Had she been prepared for a day of revelations by disgruntled former associates?

The pre-launch is most unusual. JK Rowling did not have a pre-launch for her books. Most authors launch their books with a promotional tour.

What is significant about president Lee’s humiliating apology and the NYT claim that “he could hardly lift his face”, was that when he came to office, Lee described his government as “morally perfect”.

During his television appearance, Lee said, “The more I think about it, the more it crushes my heart. But whom can I blame now? It’s all because of my negligence. I bow before the people in apology”.

Hours after Lee concluded his nationwide apology, two of his colleagues were arrested for corruption. In all, three of Lee’s relatives, four senior presidential aides and several former senior officials in the Cabinet and government-run companies had been implicated.

Corruption menace

Malaysian leaders don’t apologise and hell would freeze over before Najib would bow before the rakyat and apologise for his wrongdoings or the various scandals which have hit his government.

In September 2010, a year and a half after becoming prime minister, Najib told Malaysians that “combating corruption is not only a moral imperative but a prerequisite for national survival”.

In a speech that was delivered by his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, at the Asian Development Bank/Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (ADB/OECD) Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific’s 10th Regional Seminar: Criminalisation of Bribery, Najib said that three organisations would fight the corruption menace – the police for investigating the criminal acts, the Attorney-General’s Chambers for dealing with prosecutions and the Prime Minister’s Department for “crafting the preventive eco-system”.

Najib stressed that “prevention and education should be given equal attention alongside enforcement in the fight against corruption”.

He praised the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for receiving an increased amount of information from the public which led to investigations, arrests and prosecutions. This, Najib concluded, was a reflection of the public’s confidence in the government.

Despite the recent revelations by carpet trader Deepak Jaikishan and former inspector-general of police Musa Hassan, the rakyat has yet to see an investigation being initiated by the police or the MACC. The Attorney-General’s Chambers has also remained silent.

In 2010, Najib claimed that “…studies reveal that corruptors tend to hide themselves or their ill-gotten gains in foreign jurisdictions. The denial of a safe haven for corruptors and their proceeds of crime is vital in any strategy to combat corruption”.

Dirty money

Recently, the Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reported that around RM200 billion of illicit outflows had been recorded by Malaysia in 2010, the highest amount for the period 2001 to 2010. The revised figures for 2009 are estimated at RM93 billion.

According to the GFI, 20% of the dirty money are the “proceeds of corruption, bribery theft and kickbacks” and that Malaysia was ranked third in the world, behind China and Mexico.

If both Najib and Bank Negara are concerned, what steps are they taking to address the issue? Will the steps be enough to allay our fears?

Last year, Najib, who is also the finance minister, said that Bank Negara would investigate the illicit outflows, but to date, the reasons of the illicit capital flight have not been made public.

Our government wants to emulate the South Korean work ethic and development, but there is so much more we could learn from them, and that is to be magnanimous and to be humble, like President Lee.

Two weeks after Lee’s elder brother, Lee Sang-deuk, had been arrested for receiving bribes from two bankers, the president apologised to the South Korean nation.

Two weeks after Deepak, the carpet-man, implicated Najib’s brother Nazim in perverting the course of justice, Najib carries on as normal without a hint of a denial or an apology.

MACC chief Abu Kassim Mohamed, who addressed the ADB/OECD Seminar in 2010, said that ethical leadership and integrity would help combat corruption.

In general, this would be true, but ethical leadership and integrity are not to be found in Malaysia, and he should have added that corrupt Malaysian leaders are morally bankrupt.

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

NGO calls for panel to tackle stateless woes

Proham suggests that an independent board be set up before the general election.

PETALING JAYA: A human rights organisation has urged the government to establish an independent panel to help stateless people acquire proper documentation.

“This must be a priority,” said the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) in a media statement today. It suggested that the panel be set up before the 13th general election.

The statement also said the panel must include representatives of federal agencies and civil society organisations that are working on documentation concerns and must “review all current laws, procedures and forms used to ensure all these are consistent with the Federal Constitution and human rights.”

It suggested that the panel review the role of the National Registration Department (NRD) “to ensure it reflects the PM’s 1Malaysia and People First agenda.”

“The issue of documentation is not an ethnic issue which is peculiar to one community, but a national concern requiring urgent attention by the federal government,” the statement said.

“Proham recognises that a single common denominator among the undocumented people is poverty and being in a situation of being disadvantaged and ignorant of public policies and requirements, including their difficulties to access public sector services.”

The statement came after a roundtable meeting on the issue of statelessness. Other organisations represented at the meeting were Suhakam, UNHCR, UNICEF, World Vision, Jewel, Malaysian Indian Business Association (MIBA) and Voice of Children (VOC).

Proham also urged the government to give its attention to human rights violations against undocumented and stateless persons.

It said many of these people, in attempting to acquire documentation, had been cheated by middlemen, some of whom were community leaders.

It asked the government to determine the extent of the problem, noting that there was confusion with regard to numbers because political parties were trying to outdo each other in highlighting the issue.

“The figures being highlighted range from about 9,000 to as high as 300,000,” it said.

It called on the government to muster the political will to resolve the problem, but praised it for the My Daftar campaign, noting that it had resulted in 6,590 successful applications for identification documents from Malaysian Indians.

Second campaign

“Proham recommends that a second My Daftar campaign be launched in early 2013 in order to address the needs and concerns of many others who were not able to participate in the first campaign,” it said.

“The setting up of mobile units and a more pro-active approach is also recommended in partnership and cooperation with civil society and community and religious groups.”

It said 4,856 of the 14,385 Malaysian Indians registered under My Daftar were unable to apply for citizenship documents because they lacked supporting documents and another 2,939 had their applications rejected.

It said one issue in dealing with stateless people was the red tape involved.

“Some participants indicated that many demands were unreasonable and inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, amounting to a denial of fundamental human rights,” it said.

“Proham calls for an in-depth legal review of all the forms, procedures and requirements to ensure that they are consistent with the spirit and direction of the Federal Constitution and human rights standards.

“In addition, the mono ethnic representation of the NRD and KDN (Home Ministry) as a whole is not reflective of the PM’s 1Malaysia commitments.

“In this context, Proham recommends a more people-friendly approach to assist the applicants as well as ensuring a fair ethnic, cultural and linguistic mix among the NRD officers to be better reflective of Malaysian society.”

Proham also noted that while Malaysia was a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Malaysian government had imposed a reservation to Article 7, which ensures the right to every child below 18 to a name, nationality and not being categorised as stateless.

FMT journalist quizzed by cops

A journalist was questioned under Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 for allegedly implicating a former minister with trafficking.

PETALING JAYA: Online journalist Teoh El Sen was today questioned under Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 for allegedly slandering former home minister Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad by implicating him in human trafficking.

Section 233 disallows improper use of network facilities or network service. If found guilty Teoh is liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or a one year jail term or both.

Teoh, who is with FreeMalaysiaToday news portal, was questioned for 90 minutes by Inspector Nasrul Md Isa of the Commercial Crime Investigation Department in Bukit Perdana, Kuala Lumpur in connection with an article he wrote on Nov 23.

In the article, FMT revealed that Radzi is a director of a company – SNT Universal Corporation Sdn Bhd – that was being investigated by police for human trafficking related offences.

According to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) records show that Radzi became a director of SNT on May 17, 2011.

But Radzi, when contacted, denied that he was involved in human trafficking.

SNT is a government-appointed agent in the 6P amnesty programme. SNT is among more than 300 companies which were appointed by the government to handle the registration of illegal foreign workers in a bid to either legalise them or deported without punishment.

Police intimidation

Meanwhile the decision to investigate Teoh did not go down well with anti-human trafficking activists.

Selangor Anti-Human Trafficking Council (Mapmas) member Abdul Aziz Ismail expressed disgust with the police action.

“This is a clear cut case of 6P human re-trafficking. Bukit Aman should go after the perpetrators, not after the whistleblowers.

“(They should) investigate the case itself, but instead they are intimidating the people providing information.

“Do the enforcement agencies even understand what is human trafficking?

“The things that they are doing right now is so little and it’s because they are doing it for the sole reason of pacifying the international civil society community,” he said.

Gatco settlers sue Thamarai and liquidator

They claim the sale of the 4,700-acre land in 2004 was illegal.

PETALING JAYA: Settlers on an expanse of land in Negeri Sembilan are seeking a court declaration that the current claimant to the property, Thamarai Holdings Sdn Bhd, and liquidator K Jayapalasingam are, like them, mere trustees of it.

Jayapalasingam represents Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco) and the settlers are commonly referred to as Gatco settlers.

The issue has been raging since 1977, when 400 former plantation workers paid deposits for their plots on the 4,700 acres then owned by Gatco, which subsequently went bankrupt.

The 140 settlers in the suit are also seeking a declaration that Gatco’s sale of the land sale to Thamarai for RM16 million in 2004 is null and void.

Lawyer R Kengadharan, who filed a writ on their behalf at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Wednesday. John Cantious who is one of the plaintiff said the sale was illegal because Gatco was a dormant company without financial resources.

The settlers are also seeking a permanent injunction from that would restrain both defendants from dealing with the land and an order for the Registrar of Titles to place a caveat on the land.

They are also seeking monetary compensation for breach of trust and 2% interest in the event of default on payments and other forms of relief.

The suit alleges that Thamarai and Gatco, as their trustees, had failed to protect the settlers’ rights and interests.

The Gatco settlement, currently known as Kampung Serampang Indah, is about 25 km from Bahau.

The suit is now fixed for case management on Jan 14.

In 1977, the Negeri Sembilan Economic Development Corporation leased the land in question to the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) for a period of 66 years. In the same year, NUPW incorporated Gatco as a vehicle to undertake the planting of sugar on the land, but it decided later to plant rubber instead.

Gatco was wound up in 1996, having failed to settle debts amounting to RM135,000.

Gatco offered to sell the land in 2004 for RM16 million. A total of 214 settlers took up the offer, but Gatco rejected it and sold the land to Thamarai instead.

Those settlers filed a suit against Gatco, but their originating summons was dismissed. None of the 214 is involved in the current case.

Perak Speaker Ganesan: I am not involved in any sex scandal

Ganesan speaks to reporters denying any involvement in a sex scandal outside the state assembly on Friday.

(The Star) - Perak Assembly Speaker Datuk R. Ganesan has denied any involvement in a sex scandal and will lodge a police report on the claim.

"I will ask the police to investigate the claim. I'm not shocked because they are only made-up stories," he told reporters here on Friday.

"I am also extremely sad that my family has to face such allegations," he said, adding that he viewed this as an Opposition tactic to attack him.

He was commenting on the envelopes which Opposition assemblymen V.Sivakumar and A. Sivasubramaniam received outside the assembly earlier in the day.

The envelopes contained a printed online article and a compact disc (CD) with a lewd picture, Ganesan's portrait and a woman's portrait on the cover.

Sivakumar said he would be lodging a police report on the matter.

Malaysian Carpet Dealer Names a New Figure in Scandal

So far Cecil hasn't said yea or nay
So far Cecil hasn't said yea or nay
Deepak Jaikishan names well connected lawyer in murder cover-up

Perhaps the most crucial – and quoted – document seeking to tie Najib Tun Razak, the current prime minister of Malaysia, to a murdered Mongolian beauty named Altantuya Shaariibuu was a sworn declaration filed on July 1, 2008 by a Kuala Lumpur-based private detective named Perumal Balasubramaniam.

That document, which detailed allegations of an affair between Najib, the then-defense minister and the 28-year-old woman, lasted just three days before it was dramatically reversed. Police allegedly picked up Balasubramaniam and took him to a Kuala Lumpur police station where he was told his family was in serious danger if he didn't reverse his statement.

The private detective was then taken to a room at the Hilton Hotel in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, where accordingly, on July 4, he signed a new six-page sworn statement in which he said, among other things, that "I wish to retract the entire contents of my Statutory Declaration dated 1July 2008. I was compelled to affirm the said Statutory Declaration dated 1July 2008 under duress."

Balasubramaniam now says he didn't write that statement. He never saw it, he said, until it was presented to him in the Hilton.

Four and a half years later, the name of the person who wrote the reversal is believed to be that of Cecil Abraham, a senior partner with the law firm of Zul Rafique & Partners of Kuala Lumpur, one of the country's most prominent law firms and one that is a major beneficiary of government-related legal business. It is also a firm with considerable experience in defamation cases.

Abraham's name surfaced last week with another explosive revelation by Kuala Lumpur-based businessman Deepak Jaikishan, who told the Parti Islam se-Malaysia party newspaper Harakah that the attorney had written the document along with his son, and that the son had brought it to Balasubramaniam and the people who were holding him at the Hilton. According to Balasubramiam's lawyer, Americk Sidhu, Deepak was present in the hotel room when his brother, Dinesh, brought the declaration for Bala to sign. Bala wasn't allowed access to his own lawyer.

Since late November, Deepak has met with a string of opposition and independent websites to give progressively more damaging details about Najib's involvement in suppressing Balasbramaniam's original declaration, bringing Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor and his brother into the matter. With naming Abraham as the man who wrote the reversal of the declaration, he now takes it further into the United Malays National Organization power structure.

Abraham is both a datuk and a tan sri, honorific titles conferred on politically or socially prominent individuals by Malaysia's sultan. As an indication of his influence, no opposition publication was willing to print his name for days, including Harakah, only referring to him in various ways as an important figure. Abraham is considered one of the quietly most politically powerful figures in the country, a friend of the top members of UMNO including Hishamuddin Hussein, the Home Affairs minister, as well as Najib. He sits on a wide range of boards and committees including one that determines which cases are refused or initiated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Committee.

If indeed Abraham did write Bala's repudiation document, the besieged private detective never saw him – or the document – until it was given to him to sign. However, the Commissioner for Oaths who visited Bala in the room in which he was being held in at the Hilton to attest that it was his signature on the document was Zainal Abidin Muryat, a commissioner of oaths from Abraham's law firm, Zul Rafique & Partners.

"Let me make it very clear that my client does not know the identity of the lawyer(s) who drafted this 2nd statutory declaration," said Americk Sidhu. "He had not instructed any lawyer to do so. This is because the contents of his first statutory declaration were true to the best of his knowledge and belief. Therefore there was never any necessity to alter the contents of his first one. However, Bala was forced to sign a second one because of a threat to the safety of his wife and children."

After Balasubramaniam fled for Chennai, reportedly accompanied by his family a promise from Nazim Razak, the prime minister's brother, of RM5 million to keep his mouth shut, he held multiple press conferences to say he had been intimidated into reversing himself, and called repeatedly for an investigation of his charges by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Abraham also sits on the Operation Review Panel of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which had the responsibility to examine Balasubramaniam's charges. The MACC has repeatedly turned him down. An MACC spokesman denied that Abraham had any say in declining an investigation.

Particularly since Deepak Jaikishan start issuing his spectacular charges in late November, the question of Balasubramaniam's first statutory declaration has assumed increasing relevance to the case. Altantuya was murdered on Oct. 19, 2006 by two of Najib's bodyguards. One of Najib's best friends, Abdul Razak Baginda, was initially charged with the crime. He had been Altantuya's lover, but jilted her.

In his first declaration, Bala said that he had been hired to keep Altantuya away from Razak Baginda. In conversations with the former highly-placed think tank analyst, Abdul Razak Baginda as Altantuya continued to harass him, Razak Baginda told him that:

"1) He had been introduced to Aminah {eds: his nickname for Altantuya} by Najib Razak at a diamond exhibition in Singapore.

"2) Najib Razak informed Abdul Razak Baginda that he had a sexual relationship with Aminah and that she was susceptible to anal intercourse.

"3) Najib Razak wanted Abdul Razak Baginda to look after Aminah as he did not want her to harass him since he was now the deputy prime minister.

"4) Najib Razak, Abdul Razak Baginda and Aminah had all been together at a dinner in Paris.

"5) Aminah wanted money from him as she felt she was entitled to a US$500,000 commission on a submarine deal she assisted with in Paris."

That submarine deal has since blown up into one of the longest-running scandals in recent Malaysian history, involving allegations that the French armaments giant DCN and its subsidiaries had paid €114 million in bribes that was channeled through a firm wholly owned by Razak Baginda to the United Malays National Organization with the full knowledge of then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad an French Minister Alain Juppe, and that it was facilitated by Najib Tun Razak when he was defence minister.

That case is currently under investigation in Paris by authorities on allegations the "commission" paid to Razak Baginda's company was a violation of the OECD statute on bribery, which France signed onto in 2002.

Najib, the vacillator, facing election defeat

Ali Rustam, the chief minister of Malaysia’s small state of Malacca, is one of the most creepy, corrupt and boring politicians I have ever interviewed.

Between a dead slug and Ali Rustam, I’ll take the dead slug any day.

But lo and behold, the man made headlines last week by inviting 130,000 people to a lavish bash for his son’s wedding, which he claims cost “only” US$200,000, but others say set him back more than $500,000.

Either way, with his political boss, Prime Minister Najib Razak, poised to call a national election premised on prudent economic management, it was an act of astonishing naivety.

It did, however, illustrate how Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has descended to a vessel for Ali Rustam-like wallflowers who are afraid to say boo to a goose, let alone espouse bold new ideas.

The outrage provoked by the matrimonial extravagance made things more difficult for Najib as he agonises over an election date.

The PM’s natural inclination is to take as much time as possible before making any decision – or before avoiding making a decision.

Faced with a tough choice, he prefers to let others jump first and then gauge how they fare before he takes the plunge.

Forget loyalty and principles, Najib’s credo is survival at all costs.

Back in 1987, when UMNO faced a divisive leadership crisis, young Najib waited till the last minute before spurning his mentor Razaleigh Hamzah and backing then PM Mahathir Mohamad.

It was a betrayal, but thanks to Najib’s support, Mahathir narrowly defeated Razaleigh and later rewarded Najib handsomely.

Five years on, when, against Mahathir’s wishes, Anwar Ibrahim made a precocious bid for the party’s No 2 slot, Najib belatedly joined Anwar’s Dream Team and won a top party post for himself.

Then, in 1998, when DPM Anwar challenged Mahathir, Najib initially cowered in the shadows like a desperado waiting for a train, before he finally sided with the PM and let the wolves devour Anwar.

Now Najib himself has become PM, inheriting the post after Mahathir’s successor, the lamentable Abdullah Badawi, led the National Front coalition to its worst electoral showing in history four years ago.

With the circle completed, Najib now faces a resurgent Anwar, whose opposition People’s Alliance threatens to capture yet more of the 222 seats up for grabs in the coming election.

It must be called within six months, so the clock is running out for Najib. And this time, he cannot wait for others to jump first; it is his call alone.

Facing taunts that he is running scared, Najib’s leadership is already being questioned within UMNO, as well as throughout the country.

Many in the minority Chinese and Indian communities have lost faith in him due to his pandering to the Malay majority and his one step forward, two steps back reforms.

If the Front does not fare better than it did in 2008, Najib is sure to face strong pressure to step down and make way for a bolder, more decisive leader.

Right now, his chances look rather slim, particularly in the key state of Selangor, which surrounds Kuala Lumpur and is the political and economic hub of the nation.

He rashly promised to lead it back into the Front fold after it was stunningly won by the Anwar-led Alliance four years ago, but few analysts think there is much chance of that happening.

In fact, the opposition has performed well there, as it has in Penang. And it has a rock solid grip on Kelantan and may even retake Perak.

Meanwhile, over in East Malaysia, traditionally neglected by the Front, the Chinese opposition party looks sure to pick up seats, particularly in Sarawak.

So, whether Najib vacillates to the very end or goes to the polls after the Hajj ends next month, it is an even bet whether he will be PM this time next year.

Najib’s proposal to source English teachers from India is “crossing of the Rubicon” marking the failure of the Malaysian education system to reverse declining standards and to prepare the new generation of Malaysians for the challenges of the 21st century

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s proposal in New Delhi yesterday to source English teachers for Malaysian schools from India in a bid to help alleviate the shortage of teachers in English and to improve proficiency of the language in Malaysia marks the crossing of the Rubicon for the Malaysian national education system – as it is a sad admission of the failure of the Malaysian education system over the decades to arrest and reverse declining educational standards and to prepare the new Malaysian generation for the challenges of the 21st century.

In the recent past, Malaysia had been sourcing English-language teachers from the United Kingdom and the United States, ignoring the rich reservoir of available local talents to teach the English language. Now the Prime Minister is proposing to source them from India. Will Malaysia next source English teachers from the African continent?

This is undeniably a grievous psychological blow to the nation which had rightly prided itself as a country with high international standards and attainments in English language when it achieved Merdeka in 1957, and should now be sending Malaysians as English-language teachers all over the world, including India, as one of our precious international assets.

Instead, Malaysia has degenerated to become an importing nation for English-language teachers from foreign countries. What a national shame!

The deplorable state of affairs with regard to the proficiency of the English language in Malaysia after half a century of nationhood is exemplified by the shocking admission by a top Education Ministry official recently that two-thirds of the 70,000 English language teachers in the country failed to reach a proficient English level while a test carried out by the Education Ministry based on the comparison of the students’ results in SPM English and Cambridge 1119 Standards showed that two in three students failed to meet the basics in English proficiency.

Why has the Malaysian national education system degenerated to such a pass – where two-thirds of 70,000 English language teachers not proficient in English have produced a generation of students two-thirds of whom are not proficient in English?

One reason for this malady of the Malaysian education system is because the country has a series of Education Ministers who regard their portfolios as stepping-stones to higher political office – even the Prime Ministership – and not really interested in their responsibility to establish an educational system for an innovative, creative, competitive and prosperous Malaysia for the future.

This was illustrated by the poor Malaysian results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS) 2011 announced on Dec 11, with total indifference by the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who has refused to say a single word despite the importance of the results in a subject which comes directly under his responsibility.

This is further proof why the time has come for a change of Federal Government in Putrajaya in the 13GE as the Umno/BN Government after 55 years have become too rotten and out of tune with the national needs and challenges of the 21st century.

Malaysia Deserves Praise for Accepting Stranded Asylum Seekers

Image20 December 2012

The Malaysian Government deserves commendation for its decision to accept 40 asylum seekers who were rescued at sea, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said today.

RCOA CEO Paul Power said Malaysia’s intervention was in stark contrast to the mean-spirited behaviour of Singapore which last week refused entry to the Vietnamese-registered cargo ship that had rescued the asylum seekers, believed to be Rohingya people fleeing persecution in Burma’s Rakhine state.

“In light of the difficulties faced by many people seeking refuge in the Asia-Pacific region, we are encouraged by Malaysia’s actions,” Mr Power said. “UNHCR has described the Malaysian decision to allow the asylum seekers to disembark as ‘a vital and a genuine humanitarian gesture’ – and we agree.

“A step such as this by Malaysia is exactly what is required to shift the political focus in the region, from a focus on criminalising the movement of people who are fleeing in fear to one in which protection is provided to people who clearly need it.”

Mr Power said the plight of the Rohingya people highlighted the Asia-Pacific region’s failure to offer adequate protection to people who are persecuted.

“Rohingya people are rejected in Burma, being told that they have no right to be in their own country of birth and denied citizenship,” Mr Power said. “Earlier this year the world saw Bangladesh turning away Rohingya people who were trying to flee at a time of heightened violence in Rakhine state.

“Increasingly, Rohingya people are taking to boats to head towards South-East Asia. No one knows how many hundreds of refugees have died on the Bay of Bengal. Their deaths go largely unremarked and result in no effective political action.”

Mr Power said Singapore’s refusal had highlighted that nation’s heartless disregard for people in distress and allowed the world to see that Malaysia had higher humanitarian standards than its neighbour.

“Malaysia’s actions provide encouragement, at the end of a year in which there were few signs of hope for refugees in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Power said. “In the Middle East and Africa this year, nations have provided hospitality to around 900,000 people displaced by the crises in Syria, Mali and the Horn of Africa but in our region that same spirit of welcome to refugees has been largely missing.

“However, Malaysia’s humanitarian response to the desperate asylum seekers on the MV Nosco Victory is a significant step and, if other governments are prepared to act in the same spirit, this action could encourage more serious thought about how the region could work together to protect highly vulnerable people who have been displaced.

“We encourage Malaysia, Australia and other governments in the region to use the planned regional roundtable on irregular movement by sea, to be held in Bali in March, as a forum to search for better answers for the needs of people who are forced to flee persecution and violence in the Asia Pacific region.”

Media contact: Andrew Williams 0488 035 535

Suite 4A6, 410 Elizabeth Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia 
Phone: (02) 9211 9333 ● Fax: (02) 9211 9288 
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The Refugee Council of Australia represents non-government organisations and individuals working with and for refugees in Australia and around the world

India Offers Great Opportunity For Malaysian Businesses, Says Najib

By Saraswathi Muniappan

NEW DELHI, Dec 21 (Bernama) -- India with its population of 1.2 billion people offers a great opportunity for Malaysian businesses, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

This is more so with the conclusion of the agreement on services and investment between Asean and India, he said.

"We can see India as a country whose economic growth rate has been so rapid. They also exepect their growth rate can be raised further with the creation of a middle class with high purchasing power.

"So they will definitely look to Malaysia for tourism, education and medical tourism. It is certainly a bigger market for us," Najib told Malaysian journalists at the end of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit 2012 here Friday.

India's economy is expected to grow by 7.3 per cent next year, higher than the 6.5 per cent forecast for 2012.

Indian companies can also be invited to invest in Malaysia in sectors where they have the capability, such as pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and manufacturing, he said.

To date, Malaysia has approved 110 manufacturing projects with Indian investors involving US$1.19 billion in total investments.

Between January to October 2012, a total of 10 manufacturing projects with Indian participants were approved with investments worth US$259.8 million.

"We can still promote all these further. So I am optimistic and confident we can expand and enhance our relationship further in all aspects with India," he said.

Since 1998, India has been Malaysia's largest export destination in the South Asia region.

Bilateral trade between Malaysia and India for the 2002-2011 period has increased more then six-fold, he said, adding that the implementation of the Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement on July 1, 2011 has further boosted bilateral trade between the two countries.

Last year, total trade increased 32.7 per cent over 2010 to reach US$12.54 billion. Malaysia's exports rose 34.6 per cent from US$6.5 billion in 2010 to US$9.2 billion.

Malaysia's major exports to India in 2011 were electrical and electronic products, chemicals and chemical products, manufactures of metal and palm oil, while Malaysia's main imports from India were chemicals and chemical products, manufactures of meal and meat.

From January to October 2012, Malaysia's exports to India totalled US$7.7 billion, while imports were US$3.3 billion.

Asked if the Asean-India agreement on services and investment should be hastened, he said: "I think that is the intention. Hopefully when we prepare the legal document it won't take too long. The important thing is the spirit and the principle that we want to settle.

"We should move on and make it implementable by the fourth quarter of next year."

Asean-India represents a huge market of 1.8 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$3.8 trillion.

Trade between Asean and India rose by 43 per cent compared with 2010 to reach US$74.9 billion in 2011. The target is to push to US$100 billion by 2015.