Saturday, 31 December 2011

Witches, riches, victories in Taib-land


KUCHING: In Sarawak, the highlight of 2011 was the “unravelling” of “godlike” Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and the exciting historic victory by the opposition in the state election.

Frankly, Taib has been the preoccupation of politicians, activists – both local and abroad – and the man-on-the street.

Why, one may ask, and we will say it is because Taib has over the last 30 years woven himself into the very fabric of Sarawakian lives in politics, trade and practices.

Observers here claim that Taib controls everything.

He has wielded his political clout muzzling local dissent, monopolising corporate Sarawak, and exuding uncharacteristic charm and fatherly “benevolence” at the longhouses littering the rural interior – wooing native Sarawakians into believing that he is “clean and corrupt-free” and that those accusing him are “evil” and not to be trusted.

The year 2011 saw Taib’s secrets exposed by a UK-based investigative portal Sarawak Report (SR) and its bold Radio Free Sarawak (RFM), with its broadcasts in local Iban dialect.

SR in collaboration with the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) made shocking revelations of Taib and his family’s “unimaginable” wealth running into billions in US dollars across eight countries.
BMF alleged that Taib was corrupt and had pillaged and plundered the state since he came to power in 1981.

BMF has also released figures showing that Taib and his family held influential stakes worth US$1.46 billion in 330 companies in Sarawak and in 80 other companies globally.
In response, Taib simply said ” my children are clever”.

BMF has also pressured several countries to investigate Taib’s alleged money laundering and already probing Taib’s global links are Switzerland, Germany and Australia.
Here in Malaysia, there’s been increasing pressure for the authorities to investigate Taib.

Witches and gangsters

On the local front, opposition DAP, emboldened by its 13-seat victory in the April 16 state election, has been openly demanding for transparency over contracts awarded to Taib-linked companies in Sarawak.

According to the party, no major contract in Sarawak is without a Taib-linked company stamp.
During the April state election campaign, DAP – together with its Pakatan Rakyat allies PKR and PAS – had successfully highlighted the issues of corruption, power abuse, nepotism and cronyism allegedly committed by the state government.

Land grabs by the authorities, land rents, premiums, education, Chinese education and schools were also hot topics that eventually saw the thrashing of the Chinese-dominated Sarawak United People Party (SUPP) at the state polls.

Since winning the polls, Taib has tightened the noose on his own Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).

He has made it clear that his party can and will rule Sarawak with or without coalition members SUPP, Party Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).

In the run-up to the April 16 polls, Taib saw an unexpected spoiler in his cousin and former deputy education minister Salleh Jafaruddin.

Salleh, who stood against Taib in Balingian constituency, brought to light Taib’s fetish for bomohs and witches who “guided” his continued stay in power.

According to Salleh, Taib was notorious for consulting with black magic practitioners and after the death of his wife Laila Taib, his daughter Raziah had moved in to consolidate her influence with her father by introducing her own in-house female bomoh – a blonde named Stella – to him.
A SR report noted that Stella’s signature ritual included “tip-toeing and howling”.

“Each morning she (Stella) would cross the garden from Raziah’s house to the ground of Taib’s residence and would perform a ritual of chasing away evil spirits before the chief minister rose for his early run!”
Salleh also spoke of Taib’s conniving mind and his bevy of “gangsters” who cast a shadow of fear over Balingian in the run-up to the April 16 state election, which Taib eventually won.

Taib’s majority, however, was far less than in 2004 as was Barisan Nasional’s overall support in Sarawak.

Worry for Najib

In the end, Taib and his PBB delivered to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak 100 percent on the seats they contested.

SUPP lost 13 (including Piasau held by its president Dr George Chan) of the 19 seats contested while PRS and SPDP lost one and two seats respectively.

SUPP’s poor showing was also its own making – the internal bickering that had been going since 2004 parliamentary election, and had worsened in the 2006 state election during which SUPP lost six Chinese seats to the opposition.

Despite the clear warning from the Chinese community, SUPP’s power struggle went out of control. It seeped into all the 43 branches of the party and deeply divided the party into factions, all wanting control over the party because control means more government contracts, business opportunities, ministerial positions and directorships of government-linked companies.
Nonetheless, Taib’s BN retained 56 seats in the 72-seat State Legislative Assembly, enough to put Umno in its place and shut up Najib and his deputy Muhyddin Yassin.

Umno, Najib and Muhyiddin had insulted Taib by infiltrating PBB and in the days before the state polls, descending in droves on Sarawak as “saviours”, believing that the old embattled man was a goner and would not deliver the votes that Umno desperately needed.

Just hours after the Election Commission announced the results and at around 10.45pm on April 16, Taib got the governor to hastily swear him in as the chief minister for an unprecedented eighth time, thus deflecting any real or perceived attempts to usurp him.

Now there was no way Najib, Muhyiddin and their spies within PBB could touch him.
A victorious and emboldened Taib is, however, now a cause for more headaches to Najib and Umno, which is facing an imminent death-defying polls.

Taib tightens hold

Taib’s next step was to consolidate his and PBB’s supremacy within his party and within the coalition.

Since the April 16 polls, allegations of sabotage by BN leaders within the coalition have been rife.

More precisely, rumours are that Taib is the “hidden hand” in the crisis within SPDP, SUPP and, to some extent, in PRS. (But an alert PRS president James Masing has been consistently reminding his members of unity and loyalty.) A weak SPDP, PRS and SUPP will make PBB appear strong.

The five elected representatives, known as “SPDP 5”, are allegedly PBB spies and SUPP’s seven elected representatives – who reported the party to the Registrar of Societies for irregularities in the party branch-level elections – are said to have Taib’s blessings.

The SUPP seven also boycotted the party’s recent triennial delegates meeting and alleged that newly-elected president Peter Chin (who is said to have Najib’s support) and his team were “illegal” entities.

Compounding this “hidden hand” rumour is the latest state Cabinet reshuffle in which Taib placed his own PBB men in powerful ministries, pushing SPDP president William Mawan and Masing into near exile.

Touted as chief minister-in-waiting Awang Tengah Ali Hassan was assigned three portfolios – Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister, Industrial Development Minister and Public Utilities Minister; while Abang Johari Tun Openg was given two – Tourism and Housing Ministries. Minister with Special Functions Adenan Satem was also made the Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office, thus holding two portfolios.

Even Assistant Ministers from PBB are now more powerful than Mawan and Masing.
Newly-elected assemblyman Len Talif Salleh was appointed to two offices. He is Assistant Minister of Environment, and Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office in charge of Technical Education.

Naroden Majais received two appointments. He is Assistant Minister of Resource Planning and Assistant Minister of Bumiputera Entrepreneur Development.

Only PBB can save BN

Also with two ministries to handle is Julaihi Narawi. Julaihi is the Assistant Minister of Rural Development and Assistant Minster of Industrial Development (Investment and Promotion).
Mawan, who once held two portfolios, saw his ministries merged into one Ministry of Social Development.

Like Mawan, Masing retained his Land Development Ministry but with little power and no budget allocation.

For the first time in 30 years, Sarawak has no Deputy Chief Minsters. Instead, it has three senior Ministers – Wong Soon Koh (SUPP), Masing and Mawan.

Strolling into 2012, Taib is preparing himself and PBB for the 13th parliamentary polls.
If bickering within SPDP continues into 2012, it would undermine the party’s chances in four parliamentary seats – Mas Gading, Saratok, Baram and Bintulu.

SUPP, it is widely felt, will not be able to ready itself for the polls.

Of particular concern to the BN leadership are the six Chinese majority constituencies of Stampin, Bandar Kuching, Lanang, Sibu, Sarikei and Miri. DAP currently holds Bandar Kuching and Sibu.

Still, looking ahead, the 2012 general election, when it happens, will see PBB and Taib emerge winners with the support of BN-direct candidates.

BN, as an entity, was registered in 1974 and could now probably offer partyless representatives a lifeline.

Waiting in the wings are probably the five representatives from SPDP: Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru), Tiki Lafe (MP-Mas Gading), Rosey Yunus (Bekenu), Paulus Gumbang (Batu Danau) and Sylvester Enteri (Marudi).

Also facing an uncertain future are SUPP’s six elected representatives comprising Ranum Mina (Opar), Jerip Susil (Bengoh), Lee Kim Shin (Senadin), Francis Harden (Simanggang), Johnichal Rayong (Engkilili) and Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan).
All these
elected representatives can find a safe haven in BN – and provide enough power, when the time comes, to broker a deal with any group in the aftermath of the general election.

The year the BN government repeatedly changed its mind

UPDATED @ 02:30:21 PM 31-12-2011
December 31, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — A growing public demand for accountability forced the government this year to make many about-faces and policy U-turns, characterising what critics would say was a weak administration but supporters might call responsive management.

And voters will get to eventually decide if they want to punish or reward Barisan Nasional (BN) when Datuk Seri Najib Razak calls elections.
The Malaysian Insider reviews some of the year's notable changes in position and direction.

Bersih 2.0 rally

Bersih protesters making their way through Jalan Sultan in the capital city on July 9

The first Bersih rally in 2007 was credited with shrinking the ruling coalition’s voter support in Election 2008 that led to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s early exit from government and his successor, Najib, appeared keen to avoid a repeat.

The Najib administration initially moved to nip the problem in the bud by detaining several individuals campaigning for the July 9 rally on suspicion of security risks to King and country and banning T-shirts bearing the images of communists as well as yellow-coloured clothes.

But days before the street march in the capital city, the Yang di-Pertua Agong stepped in to calm the rising storm and the seventh prime minister softened the government's stance against Bersih 2.0, led by lawyer-activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, and offered the 62-member coalition the use of a stadium of choice for its rally demanding a cleaner and more transparent electoral system.

When the electoral reform movement demanded Stadium Merdeka, Najib said he meant the Shah Alam stadium in Pakatan Rakyat-controlled Selangor, leading to yet another stalemate.
The 72 hours leading to the rally became fuzzy as misinformation reigned.

City police issued a lockdown on the capital and got a court order barring entry to 92 individuals, including the movement’s leaders.

However, videos of harsh police action against the peaceful protestors went viral online and through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

Faced with global criticism, the government conceded it may have mishandled the incident.
                                                                                                                                                                                  PSC electoral reform

Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, in charge of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform.
On August 15, five weeks after the July 9 rally, Najib announced the set up of a bipartisan Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform, addressing Bersih 2.0’s eight demands.

But the very next day, Najib’s deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the PSC would only fine-tune and not reform the electoral processes. It was not the first time Muhyiddin had voiced a different view from his boss, raising questions of unity within the Najib Cabinet.

The PSC kicked off its public hearings for feedback on November 11, and several recommendations have been made since. The Election Commission has endorsed recommendations like indelible ink for the next general election.

Bumiputera quota

Pro-Bumiputera quotas remain as part of the government’s economic policies.

On September 27, Najib said, “We want to do away from (with) quotas but we must support them (Bumiputera entrepreneurs) in a way that would allow them to grow” in a bid to calm growing unhappiness with the affirmative action plan that favoured one community.

After suggestions that the PM had decided to abolish quotas, Najib clarified three days later: “I did not say we want to abolish quotas, but I said we cannot be too reliant on them”.

National Feedlot Corp scandal

Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, under fire for her family's involvement in the NFC.

It started off with Najib being firmly with Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, after story broke that her family members had been very liberal with the use of a RM250 million soft loan to a National Feedlot Corporation.

The company was set up to reduce Malaysia’s dependency on foreign beef. However the pasture for the company extended as far as Bangsar condominiums and other baffling purchases.

As the attacks grew on Shahrizat’s CEO husband, Umno’s resolve to defend its Wanita Umno chief weakened, as did the reluctance of the authorities to investigate the case.
Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency eventually started investigations after seeing widespread public dissatisfaction.

Peaceful Assembly Act/Bill 2011

Bar Council members march to Parliament to voice their objection to the Peaceful Assembly Bill November 29 2011.

On the eve of Malaysia Day on September 16 Najib went on live television and promised the end of oppressive laws such as the Internal Security Act, Banishment Act and a slew of laws used to suppress political dissent.

There was a collective sigh of relief, but within days his cousin Hishammuddin announced that there would be new laws to fill the void.

On November 24, as a show of progress since Bersih 2.0, the Peaceful Assembly Bill was tabled.

It was pilloried instantly by legislators, and citizens were not far behind.

Critics said the new law, despite its name, would create more restrictions on the right of the public to assemble than the laws it would be replacing.

The government was forced to modify part of the law but many social activists and opposition politicians remain unhappy with the legislature that was eventually passed by Parliament.

Financial scandals of the year

December 31, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — Public trust in Malaysia’s corporate sector took a beating this year as financial scandals blighted both giant government-linked companies and smaller private players alike.

A number of GLCs were involved in controversial deals while several individuals were accused of insider trading, undue influence and graft.
The Malaysian Insider reviews questionable deals and scandals involving Malaysian interests in the financial world.
MAS losses

Putrajaya said in October it had “no choice” but to implement a controversial share swap with AirAsia to avoid having to bail out loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

The national carrier posted losses of some RM1.2 billion in the three quarters of the current financial year and is not expected to make profits until 2013 despite a new business recovery plan.

The Malaysian Insider also reported this month that the MAS was investigating allegations of kickbacks in its cargo unit, leading to MASkargo’s managing director Shahari Sulaiman going on leave since early November.

However, it is not clear why MAS has not lodged a police report over the alleged kickbacks in MASkargo, which made a record pre-tax profit of RM142 million in 2010.

Sime Darby’s E&O deal

Sime Darby’s purchase in August of a controlling 30 per cent stake in E&O sparked insider trading allegations and questions over the Securities Commission’s (SC) handling of the matter.

The RM776 million deal put SC chairman Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar in a tight spot as her husband, who is also the E&O chairman, raised his personal stake in the company just weeks before Sime Darby announced its proposed acquisition of a 30 per cent interest in the company.

A minority shareholder is now suing the SC for failing to compel Sime Darby to make a general offer for all the shares in the property developer.

Ananda Krishnan under probe in India

India’s Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a graft case against Ananda, who controls Southeast Asia’s largest multimedia and telecommunications empire, his trusted executive Ralph Marshall and former Indian Telecommunications Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi.

Former Indian telecommunications minister Dayadhini Maran and his media mogul brother, Kalainidhi, stand accused of allegedly forcing Aircel founder C. Sivasankaran to sell his stake in the company to Maxis Communications Bhd.

Maxis Communications is said to have bought a 74 per cent stake in Aircel for RM2.5 billion after Dayadhini repeatedly denied licences for the Indian telco’s Dishnet DSL.

India’s CBI has charged Dayadhini for accepting an illegal “quid pro quo” in the form of a share premium invested in his brother’s Sun Direct TV by South Asia Entertainment Holdings, a wholly-owned unit of Ananda’s Astro All Asia Networks Plc.

Maxis denies the allegations and insists the purchase of a 74 per cent stake in Aircel from Sivasankaran was done on a willing buyer, willing seller basis.

Banknote bribery

Australian and Malaysian graftbusters nabbed eight individuals in a joint operation, including six former senior executives from Australian banknote companies and former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) assistant governor Datuk Mohamad Daud Dol Moin.

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi also had to deny allegations that two Australian banknote firms attempted to bribe him for a RM100 million Malaysian currency contract when he was still in office.

Australian daily The Age had reported in July that anti-graft authorities believe Securency and Note Printing Australia (NPA) allegedly sought to bribe Abdullah in 2003 with part of RM13.5 million in commissions made to two Malaysian middlemen.

Mohamad Daud was charged by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) with receiving RM50,000 from businessman Abdul Kayum Syed Ahmad as an inducement to assist NPA to secure a banknote printing contract.

Securency and NPA’s agents were former Umno state assemblyman Datuk Abdullah Hasnan Kamaruddin and Abdul Kayum, an arms dealer who was also arrested and charged for bribing Mohamad Daud.

Alstom employees bribe government officials

French engineering giant Alstom, which has won several billion-ringgit deals from Tenaga Nasional, was fined RM130 million by Swiss authorities for failing to stop its employees from bribing officials in several countries including Malaysia.

Swiss prosecutors had earlier said Alstom’s business units paid RM26 million in “success fees” to a company partly controlled by former Perlis Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Pawanteh, a claim he denied which was later retracted by Switzerland’s Attorney General.

Alstom is the second French company in as many years to be fined for bribing government officials in Malaysia, after telecommunications firm Alcatel-Lucent paid RM435 million to resolve US criminal and civil probes in December 2010.

It was awarded a RM2.8 billion contract by Tenaga Nasional earlier this year to provide key power generation equipment to Southeast Asia’s first 1,000-megawatt (MW) supercritical coal-fired power plant Manjung, Malaysia.

Harvest Court recruits, then dumps Najib’s son

Shares of Harvest Court Industries Berhad was languishing at below 10 sen before Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s son joined the board on October 28.

The share price of the former PN17 company jumped as much as 535 per cent in two weeks to RM2.14 before it was suspended for excessive speculation.

It slumped immediately after Mohd Nazifuddin Najib stepped down on November 22, trading at just 97 sen just before closing.

The 28-year-old, who kept his 2.2 per cent stake, said he resigned to quell market speculation and”not to hurt any parties and just continue with what is the best possible direction.”

Friday, 30 December 2011

The need for the churches to be united

Churches, make this new year message one that call for the churches to be united so that we can stand strong as 1 body of Jesus to face all threats against our faith in this land. Have a blessed and happy new year - 1Christians

The need for unity in the church 

"Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose," (Phil. 2:2).

One of the signs of apostasy (falling from the truth) in the Christian Church is the bickering and disunity among Christians.  Jesus said that the world would know that we were His disciples by the love that we have for one another (John 13:35).  In Col. 3:14, it says that love is the perfect bond of unity. The New Testament speaks about us being unified in Christ (Eph. 4:5).  In response to Christians who follow after individuals rather than Jesus, Paul says that Christ is not divided (1 Cor. 1:12-13).  Though Christ is not divided, His body of believers is.  Divisions in the Christian church can be a healthy and necessary thing: "For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you," (1 Cor. 11:19).  But too much of a good thing isn't good.

It is all right to have differences of opinion on the non-essential matters like worship styles or days, pre-trib rapture, post-trib rapture, Arminianism, Calvinism, etc. Whether you believe one or the other, do not affect salvation. Yet far too many Christians use these non-essential differences as justification for division and sometimes even insight anger. When this occurs, the love of God in our hearts is sacrificed to our pride. Instead of saying to one another, "I am right and you are wrong," we should be saying something like, "It is certainly possible that you are correct.  Now, let's work together to glorify God and expand His kingdom."  Perhaps this is too simplistic, but at least it displays an attitude of humility that helps to bring unity.  It is the devil that wants us to fall into the self abuse of division and bickering.

What is it that unites us?

Primarily, it is the saving work of Christ that unites us.  Secondarily, it is the essential doctrines that define orthodoxy. We have, as a common heritage, the blood of Christ that has been shed for the forgiveness of our sins.  True Christians serve the true and living God and we know Jesus in a personal and intimate way (1 Cor. 1:9). We have been redeemed by God himself.  Furthermore, we have the body of Scriptures which tell us the essentials of the faith and deviating from these essentials means to be outside the camp of Christ.  It is the essential doctrines that we must know and unite in.

Why then, for all practical purposes, do we elevate the non-essential to the place of essentials?  I believe it is because of immaturity and pride in various Christians.  Should we not sacrifice our "perfect" opinion on a biblical matter for being gracious to another brother or sister in Christ?  Of course we should, but when that doesn't happen, we have denominational splits.  I cannot see how such a huge fragmentation in the Christian Church in denominations and sects glorifies God.

The Christian church, as a whole, needs to repent. We need to look at ourselves. We need to look at our churches. We need to look at one another and decide that we will stand on the essential doctrines of the faith and that we will be united against the enemy. Those of us who are united by the blood of Christ are not enemies with one another whether we be Catholic or Anglican or Presbyterian or Baptist or Lutheran.  It may be difficult for many of us to look lovingly into the eyes of those of a different denomination without thinking in our hearts that they are wrong about this doctrine or that doctrine.  But, we need to be reminded that there is neither a Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian nor a Baptist nor a Lutheran on the throne of God.  All of us I am sure, will have our theologies corrected when we stand before the throne of God.  Therefore, we need to seek to work together to further the Kingdom of God.

Romans 14:1-12 speaks about accepting Christians of differing opinions and to not judge them because, "To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind...But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God," (Rom. 14:4-5,10).  The whole point is that we need to be united, not bickering.  We need to move beyond the denominational barriers of what separates us into the common ground of what unites us:  Jesus!

Ask yourself what is most important in life. Is it your relationship with God?  If it is, and it should be, should you not also be seeking the same thing that God wants?  Should you not also be seeking to love one another as Christ commanded us? Love is the perfect bond of unity, (Col. 3:14).

What should we do to bring unity wherever possible?

We need to look at our own hearts and our own minds and compare them to Jesus and the Scripture. Where ever the two are not in agreement, it is we who need to change.  We need to pray that the Lord would provide opportunities to work with other Christians across denominational lines.  We need to recognize that we have differences of opinions and worship styles and that that is okay.  But we need to lift each other up and be united in Christ.

Racial discrimination Bill raising contention

Two days ago the government announced its intentions to enact a piece of legislation aimed at effective elimination of racial extremism.

This went against its previous repeated dismissals that such a law was not necessary to keep discrimination at bay.

The Race Relations Bill as Minister in Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz put it would weed out discrimination on the grounds of race, colour and ethnicity as well as nationality in employment, provision of goods and services, education and public functions.

NONEIn an interview with Chinese-language newspaper Sin Chew Daily on Dec 27, Nazri (left) said the Bill which will be tabled in Parliament for first reading in March will be one out of two legislations to replace the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA).
Undoubtedly, the move has raised numerous questions on the necessity to legislate race relations and whether it would drive people of diverse cultures further apart.

Scholars, on the other hand, believe that such a law is not essential, for two starkly different reasons.

Socio-political analyst Kua Kia Soong cautioned that the need for the law in 1985, was to deal with "blatant racism" projected by politicians and the media controlled by parties within the governing coalition at that time.

Growing ride of racism

"This need to deal with racism, racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance is still paramount today in the light of the rabid racism and growing fascism in our society," said Kua, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) director.

However, 26 years later, Kua says Malaysia needs more than a Race Relations Bill to stem the tide of racism.

The proposed Bill modelled after the British' 1976 Race Relations Act will set the limits on what can be said and done in a multi-racial country.

kua kia soongThe Race Relations Act in the UK was superseded by the Equality Act 2010 which was designed to tackle a wider scope of discrimination to protect the dignity and equality of all ethnic communities in society, Kua (right) said.

"We should also do the same since the British have learned about the limitation of (the race relations) law from their experience since 1976 and also the need to bring the law in line with European Human Rights legislation.

"Incitement to racial hatred is a criminal offence and the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 made the incitement of racial hatred an offence (where one can be arrested for)," he added.
In order to facilitate effective implementation of the Bill, Kua argued that the existing Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) must be integrated with an equality commission.

"(One with) legal powers to help eradicate racial discrimination and harassment," he added.

Professor Ramlah Adam of UiTM's Administrative Science and Policy Studies Faculty, offered a similar viewpoint, contending, however, that the constitution isgood enough to ensure  that the rights of all communities are not trampled on.

More mayhem in the offing

Sounding shocked when informed of the proposed Bill, Ramlah warned that it would only lead to more "mayhem and confusion".

"An act of this nature would only make things even more complicated... if people feel the constitution has failed to address that is clearly misinterpretation and simply a matter of perception," she said.
ramlah adam 150911 perkasaInstead of drafting a new bill to counter racism, Ramlah (left) said, promoting a better understanding of the nation's highest law and history behind its formulation would suffice.

"We already have the Sedition Act, why more? The race relations bill would just be redundant and above all it might over lap the provisions and rights guaranteed under the constitution," she added.

The government took heavy fire last year for failing to take severe action against two school principals, in Bukit Selambau, Kedah and Kulai, Johor, for their alleged racial slurs levelled against students of minority communities.

In Bukit Selambau, the school head was alleged to have reprimanded several non-Muslim students for eating within the school premises during Ramadan while Muslim students were fasting, telling the students to "go back to China".

Earlier , the principal in Kulai caused a furore when she stated that ethnic Chinese students should "go back to China" and that the Hindu prayer strings on their wrists were akin to dog leashes.

"The world is made up of diverse ethnicities and it is the responsibility of governments to protect each and every ethnic community.

"The idea of forcing an assimilated ‘1Malaysia' based on ‘Ketuanan Melayu' (Malay supremacy) is a fascist pipe dream," Kua said.

Is BN serious about race relations? By Kua Kia Soong

One wonders if the BN government is capable of reform. Soon after the Prime Minister’s promises of reform on Independence Day recently, we have seen new ISA arrests and the new Peaceful Assembly Bill.

Now they have announced the introduction of a Race Relations Act in the coming parliamentary meeting as a replacement for the Internal Security Act  (ISA).
They have also announced that there will be an “Anti-Terrorism Act” to replace the ISA.

What exactly have they got in mind? Who will bear the brunt of this new legislation and what has the abolition of the ISA to do with race relations?

First of all, the scribes in the Attorney General’s Office must be aware that the UK Race Relations Act (RRA) 1976 has now been superseded by the new and improved Equality Act 2010.

The aim is to bring the RRA legislation in line with European Human Rights legislation and to extend protection to other groups not previously covered, namely, to cover age, disability, gender, religion, belief and sexual orientation.

So why does the BN government not want an Equality Act instead since it is an updated legislation of the 1976 RRA?

If the cap fits…
It is not surprising that Perkasa is objecting to such legislation because “incitement to racial hatred” is a criminal offence under the Act.

perkasa first agm 270310 kerisUnder the Act, there is direct discrimination when “someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic”.

The British Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 made publication of materials that incited racial hatred an arrestable offence. These include:
  • Deliberately provoking hatred against a racial group;
  • Distributing racist material to the public;
  • Making inflammatory public speeches;
  • Creating racist websites on the internet; and
  • Inciting inflammatory rumours about an individual or ethnic group, in order to spread racial discontent.
The UK Public Order Act 1986 defines racial hatred as “hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality or ethnic origins”.

Section 21 of the Act makes “incitement to racial hatred” an offence to publish or distribute material which is threatening or abusive or insulting if intended to stir up racial hatred…”

“Hate crimes” are criminal acts committed as intimidation, threats, property damage, assault, murder or such other criminal offence.

They are a type of crime in which the perpetrator is sending a message to the victim and their right to belong to that society. Hate crimes violate the principle of equality between people and deny their right to achieve full human dignity and to realise their full potential.

The impact of hate crimes on the greater community cannot be emphasised enough - the social acceptance of discrimination against particular groups in society is an important factor in causing hate crimes to increase.

Racists who should be dealt with

Clearly, far right racial supremacists who rail about the dominance of their “race” should be reined in by an Equality & Human Rights Commission and dealt with under an Equality Act or the RRA.

Thus, the Umno leaders who were inciting racial hatred and calling for “Chinese blood” at the Jalan Raja Muda Stadium in 1987 before Operation Lalang, would have been the prime target for such a law (see Government White Paper 1988).

So would the mob which organised the “cow head” protest over the relocation of a Hindu temple in 2009.

When racial incidents do happen, such as the May 13 incident and the Kampung Medan incident, the culprits responsible should be swiftly apprehended and charged for murder.

What’s the ISA got to do with it?

But what has the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial got to do with race relations?

Well, the BN government has through the years extended the ambit of the ISA to claim that any dissident activity or view is a “threat to national security”. Operation Lalang was the prime manifestation of this BN logic.

Thus, I like several others during Operation Lalang was arrested and detained under the ISA for being a threat to national security.

Among the “allegations of fact”, mine were for “calling on participants at a forum to support mother tongue education” and “writing a book entitled ‘Polarisation in Malaysia: The Root Causes’”.

One can only suppose that the BN government now wants to replace the ISA with a “Race Relations Act” so that they can use it to deal with people who question these aspects of government policy.

As with the recent Peaceful Assembly Bill, Malaysians should be prepared for some outrageous provisions in this proposed Race Relations Act.

They will say it is modelled after the United Kingdom’s RRA but it will end up letting off the far right fascists and making dissidents the usual quarry. I hope they prove me wrong!

An Equality & Human Rights Commission

Our Human Rights Commission should extend its jurisdiction to incorporate an Equality Commission. Its work would be to encourage greater integration and better ethnic relations and to use legal powers to help eradicate racial discrimination and harassment.

Thus, its ambit would cover racist stereotyping in text books and the press; racial discrimination in the public sphere; employment; education; social services; and advertisements.

The independent commission should be empowered to issue codes of practice and invested with powers to conduct formal investigations and to serve notices to furnish information or documents in order to enforce the law.

It would then be up to the Malaysian courts to decide on the legality or illegality of such institutions in Malaysian society since 1971, for example, the Bumiputera-only policy at UiTM and other public institutions; the quota system and its implementation; the discounts for Bumiputeras in various economic transactions and other blatant discriminations.

For sure, if the BN government uses the UK’s RRA as a model, they will end up in the dock over the many cases of racial discrimination in our public institutions.

Finally, for an administration to convince Malaysians that it is genuinely keen to institute reforms for better ethnic relations and equality, our country should immediately initiate moves to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR).

Failure to do so will only arouse suspicion that this BN government is merely hectically doing window dressing before the looming 13th general election.

KUA KIA SOONG, a former MP, was principal of the New Era College, Kajang. He is also a director of human rights group Suaram.

Don defends Rev. Eu Hong Seng's comments

There was no sign of sedition in Rev Eu Hong Seng's Saturday remarks, all he did was to highlight important issues concerning Article 153 of the federal constitution.

Advising the right wing group Perkasa to grow up, International Islamic University law professor Abdul Aziz Bari told Malaysiakini there should be space for differing opinions.

"I do not think Perkasa was right in making the police report. Though it is their right nonetheless police have better and more important things to do.

"I don't see any seditious tendency in the priest's remarks. In fact he has some important issues on Article 153.
"I think our society, especially right wing groups like Perkasa, should grow up and be willing to accord more space for difference of opinions.

"The most one can do is to ask the priest to explain his points," said the constitutional expert.

NONEAbdul Aziz (left) said a 10-year study by Universiti Malaya students concluded that Malays were willing to share.

However, he said the only concern is issues like apostasy and even this at times has been blown up out of proportion.

"Is it because the priest is a non- Malay and non-Muslim, and therefore his remarks are considered seditious? We've to bear in mind that we are about to enter our 55th year of independence and yet we are still stuck in this mind-set in defending Article 153.

"The Reid commission recommended the provisions be reviewed by parliament 15 years after independence. Now after almost 55 years we are still talking about it," he pointed out.

On Saturday, Eu who is also the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) chairperson touching on Article 153 said there is a need to talk on the rights of others and that it was bullying the minority.

Muhyiddin warns, Perkasa lodges report
Article 153 concerns the special privileges of the Malays and Bumiputera, guaranteed under the Constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had on Tuesday said it was incorrect to say the Article had a bullying effect on the minority.
Perkasa lodged a police report against Eu yesterday, wanting him investigated for sedition.

Abdul Aziz also referred to former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who in the mid 1990s looked down on the Malay reserve land, likening them to the Native American reservations in the US.

"There seems to be this tendency that Umno-Barisan Nasional can do whatever they want; just remember how Mahathir humiliated the rulers way back in 1983 and 1993.

"But somehow others cannot do that; as we will be accused of being derhaka (rebellious) and so on while Umno leaders are considered forward looking and so on," he said.

Who are the Malays?

By Anas Zubedy
To the general public, Syed Husin Ali is the former deputy president of PKR. To me, he will always be Prof Syed Husin Ali, the respectable bespectacled professor who I first encountered when I was an undergraduate in Universiti Malaya.

I never failed to make time to attend his public forum, seminars and talks. He was not my lecturer, but his ideas have definitely made an impact on my thought process.

Prof Syed’s book, ‘The Malays – Their Problem and Future’ was first launched in 1978. I can still remember the book which was green in colour – and I still have it with me. I found the book intriguing and very informative to understand the history of the Malays.

When they released a revision of the book in 2008, I was perhaps one of the first to go out to buy it and read it again.

It is very important that we understand the history and we agree to the historical foundation of this country. One of the most important historical foundations that we should not argue over is about who are the Malays and about this land that used to be called Tanah Melayu.

I find that there is a handful of Malaysians who seem adamant at insisting that this country was not sired from the Malay polity and that the Malays are not the legitimate natives of the land.
Perhaps these people are angry with the Umno-led government and the wrong use of funds from our affirmative action plans; being channelled to the wrong people. But that is not the issue at hand here.

The point is, this position is not only historically wrong, it is also seditious. By denying that the Malay Sultanates have sovereignty over this land, we are going against the Federal Constitution. A browse through our Federal Constitution will reveal many Articles on the role of Malay royalty as the Head of State.

Article 32 for example pronounces the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Supreme Head of the Federation. Articles 32 to 45 of the Federal Constitution are largely devoted to defining the roles of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay rulers.

As such, in 1957 the Malay royalty became not just rulers of the Malay but Malayan rulers, and in 1963, they moved from being rulers of Malaya to the sovereign rulers of Malaysia.

A balanced document

The Malaysian fabric is tearing apart because somehow or another, we have lost two major understanding.

One, that this country was sired from a Malay polity; and two, the non-Malays who were accepted in 1957 are not ‘pendatang’ and must be treated impartially according to the constitution.

The constitution is a balanced document. As part of the agreement of co-ownership, Article 153 was established not only to safeguard the special position of the Bumiputeras but also to protect the legitimate interests of other communities.

It is two pronged – it reserves quotas for Bumiputeras in certain areas, at the same time it protects that civil servants must be treated impartially regardless of race.

On the first point of accepting that we are sired from a Malay polity, I realise that each time someone were to suggest that the Malays were the owners of this land prior to 1957, they will either be demonised, attacked or labelled a chauvinist. This is especially so if the person is either a centrist, or worst still, someone from the right.

As such I will provide information and historical opinions from Prof Syed, a respectable professor and former PKR number two. This is a summary of the history of the Malays from his book ‘The Malays – Their Problems and Future’.

So who are the Malays?

There are some who contest that the Malays have no history. Prof Syed writes that this view is taken from those who speak of local history with a ‘colonial bias’. These are the same people who believe that history only began with the arrival of the colonisers or that we as a society only began at 1957.
Prof Syed writes, however:
“It is now well established that long before the arrival of western colonialism, the indigenous peoples had their own history which, more often than not, was older and more illustrious than that of the foreign colonialists. “

Prof Syed attests that the society which had existed for thousands of years in the Peninsula is the ancestors of the present-day Malays. Based on archaeological evidence of human and animal skeletons and stone adzes, this society existed since about 5,000 to 3,000 years ago as the early settlers of the Peninsula during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.

The most widely accepted theory is that these early settlers came from the Hoabinh area of Indochina. They had ‘small but tough physique, dark skin and woolly hair’.

There are two theories as to their origins. The first is they came from Indochina, flowed southward to Peninsula and crossed over to Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines. The second theory is they originated from South China and migrated to Borneo and the Philippines.
In a larger sense then, the term ‘Malay’ does not only refer to those living in the Peninsula, but includes all those in the Malay Archipelago, including Indonesia and the Philippines.

Despite the boundaries we perceive between each other now, linguistic and cultural experts consider us to be from the same Malay entity, known as Malays or Malayo-Indonesians. It was colonialism which later separated us into different groups based on the new state boundaries.
The descendents of the Malays in the Philippines are now known as Filipinos while those in former Dutch colonies are known as Indonesians. But we have the same ancestry of the early Neolithic groups, which are often described as Proto-Malays.

Prof Syed writes that this society was ‘undoubtedly the true ancestors of the present day Malays’.

Arrival of Indian traders

The Proto-Malay communities settled in big groups, tilled rice fields, domesticated animals, fished in the rivers and the sea and carried out barter exchanges.

Indian traders began to arrive with Hindu beliefs, and Hindu influence is dominant in Java till this day.

In the Peninsula, however, the influence was more limited to creative arts, government and certain aspects of social rituals.

We find that names of Hindu gods are still invoked in prayers related to traditional rites carried out by peasants or fishermen and in the installation of rulers. These Hindu influences have enriched Malay culture.

It was after Malacca was established that the Malay feudal system reached its apex. Malacca became the centre for trade and culture in the region; traders from the East and the West came here.

The Malay language spread as the lingua franca for trade and government – Prof Syed writes that ‘it became as important for the region as Latin did in Europe’.

Malacca, along with Bantam in Java and Aceh in Sumatra, became the centre for the spread of Islam, and as such Islam became strongly established in the Archipelago.

It took root in the hearts and minds of the Malays and Islamic values infused the whole life of the Malays.

It was an important modernisation process for the Malay community. At this time, they produced works of literature, especially on Sufism, and the vocabulary of philosophy and administrative terms.

The legal definition of Malays

In 1957 when the Malaysian Constitution was set up, it gave a legal definition of the Malays.
The Malaysian Constitution defines a Malay as ‘a person who professes the Muslim religion, habitually speaks Malay, conforms to Malay custom and: (a) was born before Merdeka Day, in the Federation or Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or Singapore, or was on Merdeka Day domiciled in the Federation or Singapore; or (b) is the issue of such a person’ (Article 160).

Prof Syed writes that this definition gives rise to complications. Based on this legal definition, if those from the various parts of the Archipelago, such as the Javanese, Minangkabau, Acehnese, Bugis and Banjarese, speak their own dialects and not the Malay language, then by law they are not defined as Malays.

I believe it is this incongruity between the legal and socio-cultural definition of who are the Malays that has given rise to many of our issues with the Malay position in our society today.
Taking an added aspect into consideration, the formation of Malaysia 1963 called for the need to include the term Bumiputera in the Constitution.

Bumiputera is defined as: ‘(a) in relation to Sarawak, a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the indigeous groups listed in Article 7 or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from these groups; and (b) in relation to Sabah, a person who is a citizen, is a child or grandchild of a person of a race indigenous to Sabah (whether on or after Malaysia Day or not) either in Sabah or to a father domiciled in Sabah at the time of birth.’(Article 161A [6]).

The Jakun, Senoi, Temiar and Semang have been here for centuries and socio-culturally, they belong to the same Malay stock.

However, as a large number of them are not Muslims but animists and Christians, the earlier legal definition of the Malay in the constitution would not allow that they too be legally defined as Malay.

Thus the term Bumiputera was extended to them to provide them the same special position.
Because the socio-cultural and legal definition of what is Malay differs from each other, Prof Syed concludes that we cannot depend entirely on either one of these definitions, but consider both of them together.

Taken this way, Prof Syed writes that the Malays form an identifiable ethnic group which made up half of the total population in this country.

According to Prof Syed, there is an interesting case that at one point after World War II, leaders like Dr Burhanuddin Helmi and Tan Cheng Lock along with the coalition called Putera-AMCJA which drew up the People’s Manifesto, advocated that our national identity should be ‘Melayu’.
Imagine if history turned out differently and their idea was accepted as the general idea for our nation. How would we see ourselves today?

By law I am Malay, by ancestry I’m a mixed Malay-Arab, by choice I am a Malaysian but in the heart I belong to The Human Race.

Anas Zubedy is a unity advocate and founder of zubedy (M) sdn. bhd., a training provider with the mission to add value to society.

Convent Bukit Nanas finally gets head of choice, a Christian headmistress

December 30, 2011
Pakiam (left) spoke out against the Education Ministry’s failure to consult CBN’s owners when appointing a new head. — File pic
Praise the Lord - 1Christians

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — SMK Convent Bukit Nanas (CBN) has a Christian headmistress again, after the Education Ministry caved in to the wishes of school’s Catholic owners following a highly-publicised row.
“Yes, the candidate we named, Mystrical Rose Fernandes, reported for work last week,” Sister Rosalind Tan, the mother provincial of the Sisters of the Infant Jesus (IJ) Convent who own the prestigious mission school, told The Malaysian Insider today.

Fernandes, who is a Catholic, previously headed SMK Convent Sentul, which is also owned by the IJ Sisters, and SMK St Gabriel’s in the city, which is owned by the Anglican Church.

She replaces Datin Seri Zavirah Shaari, who was also newly posted to head CBN. Zavirah was taking over from the previous principal, Ann Khoo, who has since retired.

Tan, who is also on the school’s board of governors, said she had not received any letter from the Education Ministry informing them of the latest switch.

She found out only because Fernandes stopped by the Malaysian Catholic Education Council (MCEC) office to inform them of her new posting.

A spokesman from the MCEC, who asked not to be named, confirmed that Fernandes had reported last Friday.

“As their ‘norms’ go, the candidate receives the letter of appointment; we hear nothing, see nothing, and if it suits them, we (MCEC office) get a call. This is very, very seldom,” Tan said.
“Upon receiving their letter of appointment, they report for work in the school. If it is our candidate they will come by and see us. If it is their candidate, we will only know if someone in the school informs us,” she added, referring to the communication between the Education Ministry and the Catholic mission authority.

Fernandes, who was most recently posted to SMK Seri Ampang as its new head, was redeployed to CBN effective December 20 following a public furore raised by the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam earlier this month.

In an open statement published by Catholic newspaper The Herald, Pakiam highlighted that Zavirah had not been on a list submitted early this year by the mission school authority. He said the decision breached a previous government policy in the 1970s for “maximum consultation” with Christian mission schools nationwide in a revised report by the Royal Commission on the Teaching Services, West Malaysia.

The archbishop added that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was the education minister in 1976, had repeated and affirmed the pledge in 1998 in a trip to Kota Kinabalu, to consult mission school authorities over the choice of school heads and teachers.
There are over 400 Christian mission schools nationwide.

Catholics, who make up nearly one million of the country’s 28 million total population, have founded some 250 such schools, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s alma mater, St John’s Institution, which neighbours CBN.

Pakatan : Proposed race relations law superficial

December 29, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has rejected the need for a race relations law as a Barisan Nasional (BN) ploy to bolster flagging public support for the government’s 1 Malaysia concept, which was launched to tighten racial unity.

But lawmakers from the ruling coalition called the proposed legislation, which will be tabled in March, a necessary law that affirmed the Najib administration’s commitment to multi-culturalism and tolerance.

Nurul Izzah said new laws must be created in accordance with the Federal Constitution and not just sanctioned by BN. — File pic
PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar pointed out that even with existing laws, right-wing groups and the mainstream press have escaped censure despite spouting allegedly racist and seditious remarks.

She said this continuing inaction proved BN was keener on using superficial transformation to strengthen its hold on the country rather than allow existing institutions to protect the rights of all Malaysians.

“Even if we happen to have the perfect race relations law, without fair implementation it becomes a mockery to the rakyat, just like the PM’s previous pronouncement on Malaysia having the best democracy in the world,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

The Lembah Pantai MP stressed that new laws must be created in accordance with the Federal Constitution and not just sanctioned by BN, but expressed doubt government leaders understood the constitutional rights accorded to Malaysians.

Putrajaya should set up a parliamentary select committee to study the impact of the Race Relations Act considering the “shoddy, ill-advised” laws proposed before this, she added.
Salahuddin said there was no need to have a Bill for the time being.
PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said it would be good for the government and de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz to hold discussions on the proposed law before it is tabled in Parliament.
He added that he was not convinced there was a need for a law governing race relations in Malaysia as the nation was not facing any serious problems.

“There is no need to have a Bill for the time being but there is a need for discussion,” the Kubang Kerian MP said.

DAP international secretary Liew Chin Tong said the “suspicious” law appeared to be a return to the Cold War mentality cautioned against by the prime minister in his Malaysia Day speech.
“The Cold War mentality is one that is about control and assuming the government knows best,” he said.

“But the context has changed. The question now is no longer a question of control but how to facilitate dialogue.”

The Bukit Bendera MP also questioned if there was a need for the law now that all races lived cheek by jowl and Malays made up the majority population in most cities.
“Is the question of race still important?” he asked.

Liew questioned the need for the law now that all races lived cheek by jowl.
Umno lawmaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said that while she had not been briefed on the proposed Race Relations Act, it was likely the proposed law was partially a response to heated online debates.
“I suppose, to give the benefit of doubt to the government, there must be a reason for it...,” the Pengerang MP said.

“It’s much easier to provoke a lot of issues in the Internet age, especially since people are anonymous. They can trigger a lot of anger with texts and through Facebook.”

But Kota Belud MP Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the public had misconstrued the intent of the law as it was not about regulating race relations but preventing racial and religious profiling.

“It is not about managing relationships between Malays, Chinese and Indians. It’s about making sure you’re not discriminated against based colour or race,” he said.

The BN Backbenchers Club vice-president said the proposed law would ensure that Malaysia was “in tune” with the developed world, pointing out that Britain had similar laws.

“It is a very interesting Act. Certainly, it will make for a better Malaysia. It will represent the spirit of 1 Malaysia. We should encourage it.”

Thursday, 29 December 2011

NGO secretly films NFC-linked S'pore condo

Saying it will leave no stone unturned, PKR-linked NGO Jingga 13 made the trip down to Singapore to prove to Malaysians that the luxury condominium owned by cabinet minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s family is as luxurious as it was made out to be.

jingga 13 on singapore trip 291211 12“We were shooed off when we tried to take a photograph from the front, so we tried going through the back and were berated by a security guard from another building, who said photographs are not allowed as it is private property,” said Jingga 13 leader Fariz Musa.

Braving the zealous security guards, it took seven of the Jingga 13 members three attempts to get into the compound of Orchard Scotts on Anthony Road. They finally succeeded by tailing residents when the guards were not looking.

What they found inside was something “worth the RM9.9 million paid by Shahrizat’s family”, Fariz told a press conference at PKR headquarters in Tropicana today.

The result was a two-minute, 20-second video clip that featured Fariz taking viewers on a tour of the common area, including the swimming pool, bathroom and toilet.

“This is just the common bathroom, and it already has a spa (a small pool, believed to be a jacuzzi). Imagine how it is like in the actual condominium units,” he told reporters during the screening of the video.

jingga 13 on singapore trip 291211 03Earlier this month, PKR revealed that Shahrizat’s husband, Mohamad Salleh Ismail, and two of their children jointly own a RM9.9 million condominium unit in downtown Singapore.

The family of the women, family and community development minister are under fire for alleged misappropriation of a RM250 million government loan for their company, National Feedlot Corporation.

However, PKR could not produce proof that the condominium was paid with NFC funds, except for the fact that funds were transferred from NFC to the family’s Singapore-based companies.

Empty seats in Meatworks

The group members, who paid for the Dec 23 to 24 trip out of their own pockets, also visited an upmarket restaurant owned by the family, known as Meatworks, in ION Orchard Mall.

“We were there from after 11 in the morning to right before 1pm and there was no one else but us. The Japanese and Chinese restaurants next door had many customers.

jingga 13 on singapore trip 291211 06“Without NFC’s assistance, Meatworks in Singapore would have gone belly up,” Fariz said of the restaurant that specialises in steak and has a branch in Kuala Lumpur.

Fariz, who decried the exchange rate between Singapore dollars and the ringgit, added that the group did not order anything because they were “afraid”.

“There was no halal sign, and liquor was sold at the premises,” he said, adding that they kept stalling the waiter by saying that they were still waiting for friends.

The group also shot a two-minute video of the restaurant, showing the empty seats and the hallway, which they claimed was also rented by Meatworks.

NFC a symbol of misappropriation

“We will blast out these videos on Facebook and other sites to show... the misappropriation and criminal breach of trust by Shahrizat’s family, including the land purchases, condominiums, Mercedes Benz cars and overseas trips,” he said.

jingga 13 on singapore trip 291211 04Jingga 13 has lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on two plots of land in Putrajaya, allegedly bought by the family using NFC funds.

NFC had also purchased two luxury condominium units in Bangsar through its subsidiary, National Meat and Livestock Corporation, which it claims are investment ventures.

Also present at the press conference was Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, who said the NFC fiasco would be go down as a “landmark case” in Malaysian political history.

“We will continue to unearth evidence to turn this case into a symbol for the next general election, so people will realise how dirty the BN government is and how it misappropriates the rakyat’s money,” Zuraida said.

Battle to light political fire in campuses

Microphone in hand, college student Muhammad Nasrul Alam rails against political restrictions on Malaysian campuses as well as bread-and-butter concerns like his university’s unstable Wi-Fi network.

NONEBut he faces a tough crowd: fellow students who are just waiting for a bus on the Universiti Malaya campus and who show a lack of interest in politics - something that Malaysian student leaders hope to change.

Those hopes have soared since Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak vowed in November to end a ban dating from the 1970s on college students joining or supporting political parties, the latest in a series of pledges to reform oppressive laws.

The ban has stunted student activism on campuses like Universiti Malaya - the top university in this multi-ethnic, Muslim-majority country.

But with Najib expected to call pivotal elections in 2012, the political attitudes of Malaysian students like Nasrul, 22, loom larger than they have in decades.

“It’s important for me now that students can participate in politics, whether in the government or in the opposition,” Nasrul told AFP after his appearance at a tightly controlled “speakers corner” on the campus near the capital Kuala Lumpur.

NONEMalaysia, a country of 28 million people, has about 12 million registered voters. But it also has at least 2.5 million young people who have reached voting age since 2008, when the opposition made historic parliamentary gains.

The enlarged youth vote is viewed as crucial in upcoming polls. Najib’s student pledge was aimed at wooing young voters to prevent a further setback that could threaten the five-decade rule of his Umno.

It is a heady time for university students.

In October, a court ruled the politics ban unconstitutional, siding with four students accused of supporting the opposition in local polls.

In July, throngs of students defied threats of disciplinary action by their colleges to join thousands of people at a rally for electoral reform in the capital that was broken up by police, who arrested 1,600 people.

NONEMany Malaysians are fed up with corruption, tensions among its many races and a perceived sense of drift under Najib's ethnic-Malay party and want change, said Ahmad Syukri Abdul Razab (left).

“That is also the main objective of the student movement. For 40 years we have fought for the abolition of (the student politics ban),” said Ahmad Syukri, who heads the umbrella student organisation Student Solidarity Malaysia (SMM).

But doubts linger over how much freedom students will be allowed - or how much they even want.

Varsities once politically active

Malaysian universities were once politically active. Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister and now opposition leader, rose to prominence as an Islamic student agitator at Universiti Malaya in the 1970s.

But they have been quiet since, in contrast to political ferment on campuses in neighbouring Thailand, Indonesia, and even China in recent decades.

On Universiti Malaya’s leafy campus, a group of students - some in traditional Malay and Islamic dress - expressed little interest in politics as they ate curry lunches under a hot sun.

“Our job at the university is to study, not to get involved in politics and other things,” said an economics student who gave only her first name, Nabila.

Much of the blame for the apathy is pinned on the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), which was amended in 1975 - after student protests the previous year - to include expulsions for students involved in politics.

NONE“The UUCA is like a ghost to the students. It scares them,” said Ahmad Syazwan Muhammad Hasan (right), of the Islamic student organisation Gamis.

But student groups are getting bolder. In November, leading organisations demanded the right to publish independent student newspapers and called for academic freedom for lecturers.

Student groups have organised increasing numbers of discussions and even recent demonstrations. Some have been broken up by police.

“The student movement must educate Malaysians to let them know it is not a crime to change the government. It is not a sin,” Ahmad Syukri said.

Critics of Malaysian higher education say the country’s authoritarian history has discouraged free thinking by students and lecturers, threatening national competitiveness.

“Now everything is spoon-fed,” Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, told AFP.

Factor in ‘brain drain’

The situation is often cited as a factor in a “brain drain” abroad of hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, often ethnic Chinese Malaysians, that the government is seeking to reverse.

Meanwhile, Najib has recently courted youth voters, attending a rock concert and watching an English Premier League match on television with football fans.

student handing memo to umno on academic freedom crowdHe has promised to lift the politics ban, expected to happen sometime in 2012, but added in November that political activities would remain banned on campuses under an amended UUCA, raising fears the pledge was an election ploy.

Those fears gained weight when Najib, who in September pledged greater civil liberties, suddenly introduced a new law in November banning street protests. Parliament has passed the law.

But student activists plan to fight on.

Through his tinny portable speaker, Nasrul urged his indifferent listeners to tune in to the political currents and rise up for their rights.

“I ask all undergraduates to better understand all the issues affecting UUCA so that we can push for changes and amendments of the law and I urge you all to give your full efforts to this!”

Perkasa: Rev Eu’s Article 153 remarks ‘politically motivated’

Dear brothers and sisters, continue to stand firm and pray for our for bro. Hong Seng - 1Christians.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — Malay rights group Perkasa today accused a senior Christian leader of creating intercommunal friction with his remarks on the constitutional protection for Bumiputeras, claiming the speech was politically motivated.

Calling it “provocative”, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali claimed of a link between Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng’s controversial Christmas Eve remarks and an impending general election.

“I believe Dr Eu’s statement is politically motivated in light of word of elections being around the corner. There is a political motive here to confuse the people into thinking that the government has not been fair to other races.

“That is Dr Eu’s motive. Article 153 cannot be questioned... there is a political motive (to) erode Malay rights,” Ibrahim told reporters here.

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) chairman had said on Christmas Eve that the Federal Constitution’s Article 153 was akin to “bullying” if it only protected the rights of one group.

Article 153 states that it is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s responsibility “to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article”.

In his speech, Eu had stressed that he did not have problems with rights of the Malays and the Sultans but “what irks many of us are the ‘shifting rights’” of the majority.

His remarks prompted demands from Perkasa chief Ibrahim for Eu and others like him to be probed by the police.

Ibrahim along with Perkasa deputy president Datuk Abdul Rahman Abu Bakar and 30-odd Perkasa members lodged a police report against Eu based on an article by The Malaysian Insider and several other publications.

The Pasir Mas MP said Eu’s remarks should be viewed by the police seriously, as it was said at a gathering that included non-Malay Barisan Nasional political parties like MCA and Gerakan as well as opposition parties DAP and PKR.

Abdul Rahman pointed out that Article 153 protected not only the rights of Malay, but also Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak, many of whom are Christian.

He said Eu’s statement was seditious, and urged the police to charge the Christian leader under the Sedition Act.

Abdul Rahman also took a swipe at minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who was present at the Christmas eve function, and berated him for “not taking action” against Eu.

“We are disappointed with Koh for letting people do such things.”

Eu has remained adamant about his remarks, stating it was something that “needed somebody to say it.”

Amid the growing debate, opposition leaders have claimed that the constitutional provision has been manipulated by ruling Malay party Umno and was now being used as “a weapon of aggression”.

Constitutional expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari had said that Article 153 meant the King must safeguard Bumiputera privileges without impinging on the legitimate interests of other communities.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin previously denied that the provision had been used to bully any community.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Rev Eu Hong Seng : Article 153 remarks had to be said

Protecting the rights of Malays do not mean robbing others like if a land is a Malay or native reserved land, it should not be transferred to non Malays, we feel that is protecting rights of Malays. 

But to impose the rulings that 30% shares or housing developments must be reserved for the Malays, we feel is robbing others of their rights - 1Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — Senior Christian leader Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng said today his controversial Christmas Eve remarks about the country’s constitutional protection for Bumiputeras was something that “needed somebody to say it.”

He told The Malaysian Insider today that he had nothing to fear despite the fierce reaction from various Malay groups and denials by the government that Christians or any minority group had been sidelined.

When asked if he thought his speech during a Christmas Eve gathering last week was too provocative, Eu said in a matter-of-fact manner that “it is what it is”, and that “it needed somebody to say it.”

“Enough is said, there is nothing to add.

“There are enough MPs who are well-versed in this issue to carry on with the debate,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.

He described Perkasa’s call for him to be investigated for sedition an example of fear-mongering, adding that no one needs to be “fearful” in this country despite the vehemence from the Malay rights group.

“This is not political; I am talking about the social wellbeing of everybody. It is biblical to speak up against any social imbalances,” he said.

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) chairman had said on Christmas Eve that the Federal Constitution’s Article 153 was akin to “bullying” if it only protected the rights of one group.

Article 153 states that it is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s responsibility “to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article”.

In his speech, Eu had stressed that he did not have problems with rights of the Malays and the Sultans but “what irks many of us are the ‘shifting rights’” of the majority.

His remarks prompted demands from Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali yesterday for Eu to be probed by the police.

Ibrahim said the authorities should charge those who questioned Article 153 with sedition to safeguard national security.

The Pasir Mas MP said disputing the provision would only lead to civil strife, as it was part and parcel of what he described as an established “social contract” that could not be amended without consent from the Malay Rulers.

Amid the growing debate, opposition leaders have claimed that the provision had been manipulated by ruling Malay party Umno and was now being used as “a weapon of aggression”.

Constitutional expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari had said that Article 153 meant the King must safeguard Bumiputera privileges without impinging on the legitimate interests of other communities.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin previously denied that the provision had been used to bully any community.

Corruption? ‘I not stupid’ By Selena Tay


Is the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) going to pieces? That seems to be what is going on as corruption and cronyism still rules the day.
Recall these instances: Umno and the Feedlot-cattle-caper, MCA and PKFZ and MIC with the Maika shares issue. And yet the culprits involved are going around smiling and thumbing up their noses at the rakyat as if to say “So what?”.

They go around acting in an arrogant manner best described in Malaysian English or Manglish slang as “make don’t know”. This shows that they also “make don’t know” about the Government Transformation Programme or the Key Performance Index (KPI). Indeed, the KPI Minister Koh Tsu Koon must have very little clout as many BN politicians seems to have failed their KPI.

Entering 2012 in a few days time, the sixth Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak still has no clear-cut policy on how to curb corruption and eradicate graft.

Wastages, leakages, uncontrolled spending, white elephant projects and failed projects are the norm as outlined in the Auditor-General’s Report year in year out.

More importantly, has Malaysia got a game plan to counter the volatile global economic crisis? In present times, no country can say that they are totally insulated and those who say so are merely hallucinating or deceiving themselves.

In Malaysia nothing seems to have changed since Najib took over the nation’s top job. Corruption is more rampant than ever, illegal money outflow has increased and the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index rating has fallen for the umpteenth time.
It is business as usual so much so that the rakyat have labelled MACC as “Mana Ada Curi-Curi” and its Malay acronym SPRM as “Suruhanjaya Pengurusan Rumah Mayat” – a mortuary due to Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbaini meeting untimely deaths at the MACC office albeit at different locations.

There has been no MACC action on the biggest crocodile in Sungai Rejang and even the Attorney-General’s Chambers have failed to charge the three MACC officers who interrogated the late Teoh Beng Hock right into the wee hours of the early morning.

As for Ahmad Sarbaini, a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) is still pending while the cases of Kugan and Aminulrasyid have not been dealt with in a satisfactory manner. Ditto for the issue of the three boys who were shot dead in Glenmarie, Selangor.

And those were not the only cases wherein lives were lost. There were fatal bus accidents, most notably the Simpang Pulai bus crash which killed 28 passengers, many of them Thai nationals in December last year – the worst bus accident in history.

Doom and gloom coming

Looks like it is all doom and gloom in the coming year. The urban poor and the low-wage earner’s shortlived cheer are the one-off RM100 and RM200 book vouchers for their children and the RM500 one-off aid for the low-income household which will be paid between mid-January to mid-March next year.

These short-term one-off piecemeal measures to assist the poor are not the long-term solutions wherein concrete economic solutions are the answer.

In the meantime, the cost of living has gone up in leaps and bounds as the price of basic foodstuffs has sky-rocketted causing the poor and the low-income earner to be burdened further.
At this point in time, the BN federal government can be said to be bungling their way through the Malaysian economic malaise.

In addition to that, there are flip-flops in policies, for instance the teaching of Science and Maths in English and the fiasco in regards to whether the civil servants should be signing the Borang Opsyen or not. Due to protest by Cuepacs, the deadline has been extended to mid-January 2012.

However, the amendments to the Employment Act 1955 and the bulldozing through of the Peaceful Assembly Bill have been done in such a manner suggesting that the wider interests of the people have not really been considered.

And the year does not end on a happy note with the looming Eurozone crisis providing a backdrop to the year-end financial scene.

Elsewhere, the biggest disasters of 2011 was the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in March, continued violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Middle-East and cruel regimes being toppled in North Africa in what is referred to as the “Arab Spring”.

Bersih 2.0 and the cattlle saga

Back in Malaysia, the only bright spark was the Bersih 2.0 rally which succeeded in uniting the rakyat for a common cause faster than you can say 1Malaysia. But the year of 2011 will be remembered not just because of the Bersih rally but also due to the cattle-condo saga and the venomous racist remarks spewed forth at the recent Umno general assembly.

The top three Umno leaders who are also the nation’s top three leaders: PM Najib, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein seem to be dancing in the dark, all three of them sitting in a boat but no one is rowing. Needless to say, the boat is going nowhere. Dull!

Due to their aimless drifting around, perhaps it is time for the rakyat to take a cue from the Russians demonstrating against widespread election fraud who can be seen holding up a placard saying “We woke up, this is just the beginning”.

Can we hold up such a placard to give the same message to the BN federal government?
As the government continues to “make don’t know” on curbing corruption and cronyism, it is time for each and every Malaysian citizen to firmly tell the government: “I not stupid”.