GRATEFUL FAIRUS LEFT KEADILAN

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KEADILAN) should be grateful to Allah (SWT) that Fairus Khairuddin has left the Party. Since he participated in Penang Government and his departure from that until now, he has always been a liability.

Fairus had no choice but to leave his post as Deputy Chief Minister because he was being investigated by the MACC then and performing below par. When he left he demanded that the Party cleared all debts on his two luxurious cars and paid him RM15,000 a month for as long as he determined. There was no reason to concede to these demands. Furthermore the Party does not have the means to do so.

In pity of his wife and children, a kind person gave him a “job” for which he was paid RM4000 monthly. He was dissatisfied and continuously attacked the Party leadership. Now he has found an Umno leader who can pay him much much more than this.

Fairus has given racial and religious reasons for leaving KEADILAN. How shameful. He, his friends and Allah know best the truth.

DR SYED HUSIN ALI
Deputy President, KEADILAN

Anwar: No Way Are They Sending me Back to Jail

Exclusive: The last time Malaysiakini sat down for a chat with Anwar Ibrahim, he was the man of the hour.

Fresh from a string of victories in the 2008 general election, he was then about to leave for Permatang Pauh to make his political comeback.

A year and a half later, however, his Pakatan Rakyat coalition is on the defensive. There is a new and more robust prime minister in charge. Pakatan lost Perak after BN engineered a number of defections.

Anwar himself is facing another controversial sodomy trial. But being an incorrigible optimist, he remains upbeat.

In this first of a four-part interview, he tells Malaysiakini about his battle to clear his reputation in a second sodomy charge leveled against him, which he concedes is a liability in the battle for Malay votes.

But unlike the Sodomy I trial 10 years ago, Anwar is confident of staying out of prison despite all the “dirty machinations” by BN.

He also said that, although Najib is a stronger opponent than his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah), he does not hold a candle to his other adversary, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Mahathir’s strength is that he fights things head on. Najib is never known to have the capacity to face up to things,” he explained.

Anwar said that Najib’s tactics of using Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia and institutions such as the judiciary to smear him is a sign of “cowardice” and “sheer hypocrisy”.

“I know their personal lives, I was their friend…. Who is talking about morality here? In Islam – be it sodomy, adultery, drinking or corruption – who can pass the test? Name one person. Can Najib pass the test?” he asked.

Excerpts of the interview follow. The content has been edited for language and brevity.

MK
01/03/10

Rosmah, PM’s wife, faces questions on Penan rapes

PM Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor was handed a letter by three Sarawakian women during her recent visit to Kuching. The three women called on her to take action to address Sarawak women’s rights, following the government report of Penan schoolgirls and women raped in Baram.

The three women had been following the heart-breaking stories of Penan girls and women sexually abused by employees of logging companies, after the companies had invaded the Penans’ forests.

The three individuals, Malay, Iban and Chinese, went up to Rosmah Mansor while she was having a meal with “high-ranking” Sarawak women, including Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Fatimah Abdullah and Senator Empiang Jabu.

The letter from the Sarawakian women included attachments of press articles, in a folder with a white ribbon on its cover, symbolising the campaign to end violence against women in Malaysia.

A call to take action

According to the letter, the three women explained that they were regular visitors to Rosmah’s blog. They had read on her blog that Rosmah had proclaimed to be “actively championing women’s issues and advocating women’s rights and interests”. They noted that Rosmah had announced that she would visit the United States in April to address women’s issues on an international platform.

The women said they had been observing the horrific news of the Penan rapes on the mainstream media and on internet news sources.

According to the Ministry of Women task force report, logging company employees and drivers, had been raping girls as young as ten, when they picked the girls up on the way to or from school.

The three women pointed out that the findings of the National Taskforce, set up by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, were made public last September.

Although the federal ministry report had confirmed that rape and other types of sexual exploitation had indeed caused suffering among those Penan girls and women, no concrete action has been taken.

“But no concrete measure has been taken by the state government to deal with this issue”, according to the women’s letter.

The three women expressed their anger that the cursory police investigation had been a farce, and an abject failure. They appended several news reports with their letter to Rosmah, that they said had shown the police had closed the case with a shrug.

“We were extremely frustrated and disappointed when the police, who are supposed to be guardians of the law and justice, were hasty to conclude and declare that the Penan sexual abuse case is closed and their probe is over!” they said.

Furthermore, they said, state leaders have unashamedly shown their prejudice against the Penan community. State leaders have been saying that “the Penan are good storytellers and they change their stories when they feel like it” or that “they are nomads and are thus easily manipulated by ‘negative’ NGOs”.

They said the Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu had even alleged that these so-called ‘negative’ NGOs could have been responsible for the federal ministry’s Taskforce Report!

In fact, the Taskforce had been dominated by representatives from federal government ministries, the police and the Sarawak government.

The Datin-Datin response

Rosmah accepted the letter without comment, and looked through the contents briefly at the dining table.

Alfred Jabu’s wife, Empiang, was seated on Rosmah’s left, as seen in the photograph above. The look on Empiang Jabu’s face was priceless. She was so stunned that she even stopped eating.

Empiang’s expression resembled nothing more than a kind of bovine shock. Thoughts must have been racing, or at least trundling, through her mind. Perhaps she was recalling her husband Alfred’s shameful, blasé, pathetic attempts at denial of the Penan schoolgirls’ suffering.

Fatimah Abdullah, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, was sitting on Rosmah’s right. She had expressed concern over the Ministry of Women’s report and accepted its findings, but had also failed to speak up for the Penan women and girls.

After the three Sarawakian women approached Rosmah, Fatimah looked extremely anxious, with her hand clasped to her chin, when the letter was handed to Rosmah.

Rosmah’s likely response

Rosmah has professed a very public interest in children’s education. But she is hardly likely to take such a personal interest in the welfare of Penan schoolchildren, that she would instruct her husband to compel the police to re-open the case, and bring the perpetrators of sexual abuse to justice.

The three Sarawakian women may have made their point with Rosmah. But despite Mrs PM’s desperate attempts to appear motherly and caring towards young children, Rosmah’s credibility is still scraping the bottom of the barrel throughout the country, and will continue to do so.

Even if Rosmah has a legendary grip on her husband Najib, as the press has scornfully reported, it is unlikely that she will go out on a limb to support her “sisters” in remote villages in Sarawak.

We can only expect that Rosmah’s expected failure to achieve any protection for these tormented Penan girls and women, will only serve to emphasise her empty public persona, and subject her to even worse ridicule from the Malaysian public.

HB
01/03/10

Time for Sarawak natives to bring out the tiger in them?

Let’s reproduce the four key grounds put forward by the oil-palm companies, partners to the state BN government. The companies were calling for a stay of judgment, so that the NCR land is not handed back immediately to the rightful Iban landowners.

The oil-palm companies argued that:

the Iban plaintiffs would not be able to reinstate the estate in its original condition, or status quo;
there would be damage to the oil palm trees, estate properties, main office and all other properties;
the status quo of the present condition of the estate should be maintained at least until final determination of the Appeal, in order to avoid irreparable damage to the oil palm trees already planted;
the consequent damages suffered by the companies would not be quantifiable with money.
What do the above arguments tell us about the attitude of the companies and their lawyers? How are we to interpret the above?

For a start, the companies insulted the traditional landowners, even though the landowners’ ancestors were farmers long before any of the defendants and their lawyers was born!

In essence, the Ibans were said to be unable to manage the oil palm plantation. In the imagination of the government and companies, the Ibans are savages who would destroy properties, and the Ibans cannot recognise the fact that they can derive continuing income from the fruit-bearing trees.

These three grounds of the Stay Application clearly reveal the condescending mentality of many sections of Sarawakian society towards the Dayak people.

As for the last argument, perhaps we in turn can be condescending towards the companies and their lawyers: by asking them to clarify which aspect of their plantation, an economic entity, cannot be quantified by money? Do these lawyers think the judge and the rest of us Sarawakians are three-year-old toddlers?

Ironically, the unquantifiable damages were of course suffered by the Iban NCR landowners, and not the rich companies. The Ibans’ traditions, culture, and customs were destroyed, together with their economic lifeline, to make way for the so-called “unquantifiable” plantation.

The landowners are perfectly capable of managing the estate, and capable of hiring consultants, if necessary. They are neither incapable nor savage, as the grounds of the application imply.

“Bigoted and misplaced”

As for the companies’ claims that a Muslim prayer room or surau on the NCR lands might be at risk without a stay of judgment, High Court Judge Linton Albert’s conclusion was entirely appropriate: do not try to bring your divisive religious bigotry to our shores!

The judge said this allegation that the surau might be damaged, leading to social unrest, was “most regrettably, an ill-conceived religious slant”. This argument relied on by the companies “must be deprecated in no uncertain terms because religious and social unrest have never happened in the state of Sarawak.”

“The greatest disservice anyone can do,” the judge continued, “is to parrot the propensity in other shores to perceive every irritant or inconvenience, real or imagined, as a threat to the survival of race and religion.

“This is something we can do without. The bigoted attempt to raise sympathy evoking (religious) matters is futile and woefully misplaced,” he said, to the delight of decent Sarawakians.

Sarawak BN Government’s arrogance

As for the Sarawak Government (the 4th and 5th defendants), among its few attempts at legal argument was one which revealed the BN’s arrogance, in paragraph 7 (g) of its application:

“The 4th and 5th Defendants have the option of exercising their statutory powers to extinguish the native customary rights (if any) of the plaintiffs over the area ordered to be excised or excluded, and unless the judgment is stayed, the rectification of the provisional leases and the possession of the said land by the Plaintiffs, would deprived the 4th and 5th Defendants of their rights and authority to exercise the powers conferred by Section 5(3) and (4) of the Land Code to extinguish such native rights so as to dispense with rectification of the Provisional Leases and the eviction of the registered proprietors therefrom which could give rise to further legal complications.”

Allow me to reproduce the reply by lawyer for the Iban plaintiffs, See Chee How, to close this article:

“The above is not ‘special circumstances’ as it was always open to the government to recognise the rights of the local natives over the disputed lands and offer them compensation.

“To now assert that they want a stay of the judgment in order to extinguish the rights of the natives tends to treat this Honorable Forum with contempt and nothing more than a surveying house for native lands.

“In any event, this ground reeks of ‘arrogance’ on the part of the Government, to put the natives through unnecessary expensive litigation when it is always open to the government to compensate the natives for their land.

“The application could be dismissed purely on this ground alone as it exhibits “mala fide” (bad faith) and contemptuous conduct of the applicants,” he said.

The judge was not amused by the state government’s stance, of attempting to use the government’s administrative powers to negate the High Court’s January 21 instructions.

“The fact that that is relied on as a ground indicates that the 4th and 5th Defendants are not above invoking the statutory power to frustrate the consequential order. It stands to reason, therefore, that on this ground alone, the stay ought to be refused because the court should not act in vain,” the judge ruled.

Long road ahead but bountiful harvesting now

As usual, this latest court victory is far from the end of the story. The defendants have already appealed, and another protracted legal battle will follow.

In the meantime, though, Rumah Agi NCR landowners have reported a bountiful harvest of oil palm fruits!

01/03/10

Anwar, Please get rid of PARIAH politicans, including Zulkifli Noordin

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today played down the defection of ex-Penang deputy Chief Minister Mohd Fairus Khairuddin to Umno and indicated it was not unexpected.

“Are you surprise? Is it a major coup?” he quipped to reporters who met him at the Federal Court here.

He told reporters that PKR’s deputy president Senator Dr Syed Husin Ali has released a statement and he would like to see the statement before making further comments to the media.

The Opposition Leader is seeking leave from the apex court to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal last year for dismissing his RM100 million defamation suit against former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamed for calling him a homosexual.

In a statement released today, Syed Husin Fairus as a liability for the party and Penang government, saying the party should be grateful that the ex-Penang deputy chief minister had resigned.

The 33-year-old former Penanti assemblyman joined Umno last night, citing his disillusionment with PKR for its stand over the ‘Allah’ ruling.

“Parti Keadilan Rakyat should be grateful to Allah (SWT) that Fairus Khairuddin has left the party. Since he participated in Penang Government and his departure from that until now, he has always been a liability,” Syed Husin said in the statement.

He added that Fairus had to quit his state posts due to investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and “performing below par”.

“When he left, he demanded that the party cleared all debts on his two luxurious cars and pay him RM15,000 a month for as long as he determined. There was no reason to concede to these demands. Furthermore the party does not have the means to do so.

“In pity of his wife and children, a kind person gave him a ‘job’ for which he was paid RM4000 monthly. He was dissatisfied and continuously attacked the party leadership. Now he has found an Umno leader who can pay him much, much more than this,” he added.

Syed Husin also criticised Fairus’ reasons for leaving PKR.

“Fairus has given racial and religious reasons for leaving Keadilan. How shameful. He, his friends and Allah know best the truth,” the veteran politician said.

Apart from Fairus, 77 members of the Permatang Pauh PKR Youth left the party to join Umno last week following the departure of Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim.

It is understood that several more members, including Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng, could leave this week.

MI
01/03/10

Anwar Ibrahim needs divine intervention

Anwar can forget about getting justice from the Malaysian judicial system. Rules can be bent, rules can be ignored, rules can be overlooked when it involves Anwar. This is what the man in the street is saying.

We witnessed this nauseating so-called judicial process in both the trials concerning Anwar's sodomy and corruption trials in 1999. In the first sodomy trial the charges were amended three times because the authorities did not know the definite date to conclusively state when the so-called sodomy was believed to have taken place then.

In the corruption trial, the presiding judge made it so difficult for the defence to mount a serious challenge to the charge. The judge even decided that he should be convinced of the relevance of the point before the defence was allowed to question the prosecution witnesses. It was so outrageously unjust that it led Malaysians to believe that Anwar had to be convicted no matter what.

Unsettling effect
Are we witnessing a similar scenario in this instance where Anwar is on trial for the second time charged with - of all things - another sodomy.

The way things are moving, it seems, only a divine intervention can save him from the injustice he is being subjected to.

The Feb25 ruling by the Federal Court refusing to review an earlier Federal Court decision has an unsettling effect on our system of justice.

Solicitor general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden had argued that the court is not empowered to review its decision. A review can only (be) granted if the applicant manages to prove that "there was an error in law" and only in extremely rare cases is a review granted.

There may not be "an error in law" but what course of remedy is open to the litigant when there was an error in justice? When such error involving justice is so apparent, should the court turn a blind eye to the injustice?

We are made to understand that Rule 137 of the rules of the Federal Court stipulates that the court had limited power to decide on a review of its own decision "to prevent injustice or to prevent an abuse of the process of the court."

Penetration is most crucial
Is this the reason why the law is sometimes referred to as an ass? Does this mean that an injustice and an abuse of the process of court can be tolerated and condoned by the court? Is this what rule of law is all about?

Why is Anwar being denied the list of witnesses? Why is he denied additional information and evidence which is so crucial to his defence? Is it meant to crucify him by all means as many believe it to be?

Shouldn't the court, in all fairness, order this vital information be given to him so that the three foreign experts who are here can advise Anwar's team of lawyers as to how to counter the so-called evidence with the prosecution?
Strangely, the court has also ruled that in spite of the fact that there was no penetration according to medical evidence, it will not dismiss the case as there is other corroborating evidence to support the charge.

Normally, penetration is most crucial in the case of rape and sodomy. In such an eventuality, other corroborating evidence may lend credence to the charge but without any positive evidence of penetration what credibility would this charge hold in any fair trial?

In the words of Lord Devlin, the court process "is to provide a civilized method of settling disputes. It is ...to remove a sense of injustice."

Unfortunately, we have not witnessed this truth so far. The injustice has not been removed by any stretch of the imagination.

P RAMAKRISHNAN is Aliran president.
FMT
28/02/10

Najib Abdul Razak is "setting the stage for drastic action" against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

In a recent blog posting, Lim Kit Siang referred to an "ominous" statement by Najib on Thursday night that it was up to Umno members to decide if action should be taken against Razaleigh for continuing his campaign against the federal government over the Kelantan oil royalties claim.

Lim said whether Razaleigh would be "disciplined" or even hounded out of Umno is an internal party matter.

But he added that the fact that Razaleigh had taken an uncompromising stand over the issue concerns not only him and Umno, but larger public interests affecting not only the oil royalties.

'Godfather' behaviour

He said it also affects the state rights of all states in the federal system of government in Malaysia.

Razaleigh had accused the Federal Government of behaving like a “Godfather” even though their power comes from the 13 states.

Razaleigh upped the ante in a media report Friday elaborating on his concerns at the signs of decline everywhere in Malaysia, saying that even Malays are getting disillusioned with the state of the nation and leaving the country.

FMT
28/02/10

Anwar confident Sabah will lead the charge for change

KOTA KINABALU: Opposition big guns led by Anwar Ibrahim hit the town over the weekend to rally support from Sabahans to their cause.

Based on the turnout at many of the “open houses” organised by the Sabah DAP, support for the Barisan Nasional coalition appears to be waning.

Hundreds of cars stretching almost a kilometer lined the roadside near Kian Kok school just outside the city centre where Anwar and DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang spoke to a packed school hall here today.

In a speech, punctuated frequently with applause, Anwar urged Sabahans to take back power from their (BN) leaders, whom he said had failed them.

"I am optimistic that the people of Sabah will lead the change," he said.

He said the torrent of abuse and humiliations hurled at him was a desperate attempt by the government to divert attention from their failures.

"The Mongolian case, the missing engines, the submarine... These are all issues that they are trying to run away from," he said to laughter and applause from a riveted crowd that overflowed out of the school hall.

"Umno says they are defending the Malays but who is it that made the Malays poor?

"I am a Malay and I won't hide the fact that I will defend the Malays but I will also defend the rights of all Malaysians, the Chinese, the Indians, the Kadazans and Dusuns, the Bajaus.

"My message to the BN is don't underestimate the wisdom of the people.

"This is my message to the BN, to Prime Minister Najib and to (Sabah Chief Minister) Musa (Aman). I am warning you. Listen to the people."

The opposition leaders ended the event by unfurling a banner with Chinese characters that read 'Pakatan Rakyat A New Day'.

Political observers, surprised by the turnout, saw it as an ominous sign for the BN state government.

“I have never seen so many people come on their own initiative to listen to a politician,” said a retired civil servant who requested anonymity.

“Even when the prime minister comes he doesn't get such a crowd,” he said.

FMT
28/02/10

Calls for action against Ku Li gaining momentum

A senior Umno leader today suggested that the party must take action against Gua Musang Member of Parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for working together with opposition parties on the Kelantan oil royalty issue.

“Umno needs to take action on Tengku Razaleigh. He should not be given any special treatment,” said Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

Mohd Puad, who is also Deputy Education Minister and Batu Pahat Umno division chief said, special treatment is not warranted although Tengku Razaleigh had been a prominent member of Umno.

Mohd Puad's remarks come in the wake of the party's decision to let its members decide on the form of action to be taken against the veteran party leader.

In recent weeks Tengku Razaleigh has come under severe attacks from his own party leaders over his stand in the oil royalty issue in Kelantan.

He has also been involved in a series of ceramah organised by the opposition on the oil royalty issue. He supports PAS' move to ask for oil royalty instead of the compassionate fund offered by the federal government.

Mohd Puad said that Tengku Razaleigh's action against the party was intentional so that Umno would be forced to take action on him and turn him into a hero.

“His purpose (for taking part in the opposition ceramah series) was to challenge the party (Umno) to take action on him so he could be a hero,” he was quoted as saying in Bernama.

Loyalty questioned

Mohd Puad said Tengku Razaleigh's stand on the Kelantan oil royalty issue was inconsistent and differed from when he had held the post of finance minister in the past.

On Tengku Razaleigh's plan to carry out ceramah series on the issue, he said the party should not feel worried as the Gua Musang MP had little influence and mostly depended on the opposition.

Previously senior party leaders, including deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, have questioned Tengku Razaleigh's loyalty to the party.

Yesterday Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin accused Tengku Razaleigh of attempting to bait his peers in his decision to go against Umno on the oil royalty issue.

“He is looking for attention. He wants the party to take action against him so that he will be seen as a hero to his supporters,” said Khairy.

Last week Tengku Razaleigh said that he was still loyal to the party's cause although he continues to voice out Kelantan's right in the oil royalty claim.

The calls for disciplinary action against Tengku Razaleigh come at a time when there are talks of attempts by certain PKR leaders to court the veteran politician to defect to the party.

FMT
28/02/10

Tyranny of the Malaysian bureaucracy


RECENTLY we have had two clear examples of how tyrannical and vicious the Malaysian bureaucracy can be, and how unyielding it is to any reform measures or initiatives.

This Mr Hyde side of the Malaysian bureaucracy is not the usual dark side that the Malaysian public is familiar with – one associated with inefficiency, laziness, poor service, abuse of power or corruption.

It is one that is part and parcel of the hidden racially-charged context of our institutions and it smacks of the ideology of Malay dominance – or even Malay supremacy – that the civil service has come to personify.

This is the dark side that is generally kept away from public scrutiny and accountability, not only because it runs against the grain of what a modern, progressive and representative civil service is, but also because it is regarded as politically incorrect to discuss or analyze it.

The first example appeared just two weeks ago when a courageous whistleblower, Dr Selvaa Vathany, a doctor from the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA) Hospital, Gombak, made startling claims of rampant malpractice, misappropriation of resources and other wrongdoings by the hospital staff and associated agencies of government dealing with the Orang Asli.

Resources are hijacked

Dr Selvaa is not your ordinary whistleblower. Providing details on the importance of healthcare and medical assistance for the Orang Asli – their children are 15 times more likely to die from malnourishment compared to other children – she revealed that for entire communities “essentials given out are limited to one to two bottles of cooking oil, six to eight tins of canned food, two packets of 400g Milo, 15 to 20 small packets of milk powder, 10 to 20 diapers, two bottles of detergent and 10 to 20 pairs of slippers, per visit.

These are distributed at random. . . If the villagers are lucky, distribution could be as frequent as once in every two to three months.

She noted that “a tin of infant milk is divided into six small packets with 15 to 20 packets distributed to a village of between 250 to 500 people”.

All of this is strong circumstantial evidence that resources meant for Orang Asli communities are hijacked, possibly by the very people entrusted with the responsibility of distributing them to these vulnerable groups.

In her press conference, she also pointed to an institutional defect in which individuals without medical training and incapable of following Health Ministry protocols and standards were made hospital administrators and were appointed from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.

Extensive cover-up

Most tellingly, she pointed to an extensive cover-up of the scandal with little or no follow-up to the complaints made to the Prime Minister’s Department, Rural and Regional Development Ministry, Health Ministry, Chief Secretary, Public Service Department and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The only follow-up that has taken place appears to have been the thuggish and unacceptable response of the team from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry who “questioned the complaint… made by the Orang Asli in an unprofessional manner”, and threatened and attempted to intimidate them.

For her professionalism and integrity in speaking out on behalf of a marginalized and impoverished community, Dr Selvaa is now being transferred to Kedah where presumably she will be left to rot and to rue her courageous challenge of the status quo.

Outsiders controlling the Orang Asli

The second example also relates to the Orang Asli and it concerns the response of the Orang Asli Affairs Department to the demand for increased representation at the management level in government agencies formed to handle Orang Asli affairs.

According to the group raising these concerns, the JHEOA is staffed by over 80 percent non-Orang Asli, resulting in decisions not favourable to their needs and the marginalization of Orang Asli voices in important policies that affect their livelihoods.

This is not the first time that such concerns have been raised. During the past 50 years we have had a constant stream of written petitions, memoranda, press statements, expert reports and academic work that have drawn attention to the way in which the government has violated the basic rights of the Orang Asli and analyzed how the JHEOA and associated government agencies have been the main instruments for control and repression of the community.

In response, the Government has simply ignored them or opted for delaying tactics.

In this particular instance, in typical foot-dragging response, the department’s Director-General Mohd Sani Mistram said that the group should have gone through the “proper channels” to air their grievances and that it was an “internal matter” between the Orang Asli and the department.

Cold shoulder treatment

Both these cases – the punishment meted out to a whistleblower and the cold shoulder treatment of legitimate Orang Asli grievances – epitomize how dangerous it is for our democratic system to remain silent or passive in the face of an increasingly out of touch and unrepresentative civil service. They are the tip of the iceberg of many unexposed and undisclosed abuses that needs to be put in the spotlight of public scrutiny.

At the end of the day, the most effective public scrutiny that can realistically have an immediate impact on these cases of rogue individuals and agencies of the civil service that are throttling the Orang Asli is that coming from Malay intelligentsia and Malay civil society.

Indeed, some Malay colleagues have shown goodwill in helping the Orang Asli to correct some of the “historical injustices” that have been perpetrated on the original inhabitants of the Peninsula. It could make a difference if Malay leaders are willing to take up the case of Dr Selvaa and stop her victimization by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development.

At the same time, more Malaysians of conscience need to step up to the plate if the Orang Asli community is to regain their rightful place in the country.

Lim Teck Ghee
MM
27/02/10

Zambry has no exco plans yet for ex-PKR 'frogs'

TAIPING: Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said today there will be no reshuffle of the state exco in the near future as they have only been appointed to their respective portfolios quite recently.

He also said that he had no plans to raise the number of the exco members from the present six to 10 which was the usual number for the state government previously.

His remarks today will be largely seen as an attempt to put a lid on speculations in the state that two Perak “frogs” who triggered the collapse of Perak Pakatan Rakyat government a year ago will be offered exco posts in the near future.

FMT reported last week, quoting Perak PKR liaison chief Mustaffa Kamil Ayub, that Changkat Jering assemblyman Osman Jailu and Behrang elected representative Jamaluddin Mat Radzi will be made exco members by Zambry in the coming days.

Mustaffa, who had heard it from reliable BN sources, had said that the exco offer was part of the deal to get the duo to defect from PKR.

Zambry's decision today not to expand his exco would mean that both Osman and Jamaluddin would have a wait longer to be made exco members, if these posts were in fact part of the deal for them to defect.

The BN menteri besar also said that the current line-up would be given ample time to prove their effectiveness in discharging their responsibilities.

"I've given them a specific time frame after which I will make my assessment. For the time being, I'm not making any evaluation although they will continue to be monitored based on their Key Performance Indicators (KPI)," he said.

Osman and Jamaluddin, together with DAP Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Fong, turned ''BN-friendly” independents last year, leading to the dramatic ousting of a people-elected Pakatan government.

When contacted by FMT last week, Osman had laughed off the rumour of being made an exco member. Jamaluddin however was reticent and non-committal about the matter.

Perak PKR leaders however claimed that the two former PKR elected representatives will “collect their rewards” by being named to the state exco soon.

“Perhaps Zambry is worried of the timing in making them exco members now as their corruption trial is still ongoing,” said a PKR leader.

FMT
27/02/10

Indian groups don't trust Najib's 'direct-entry' plan

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's proposal for direct-membership into BN may seem appealing to some, but for several non-governmental organisations in the Indian community it spells more trouble.

Rawang Indian Association founder M Ravimuniady described the BN chairman’s plan as an “opportunistic move to further divide” and condemn the community.

“Najib is hoping that this way he will have direct access to the Indian community. But I cannot see his little captains allowing this. The way I see it, his plan will create yet another layer of soldiers who will rip us off more.., '' he said.

Sharing his views is Concern for Youths Movement official S Kumaresan, who believes that the underlying strategy in Najib’s plan is to enable his friends outside of Umno to step in and help him consolidate his position.

“He cannot trust his people inside, just like (Tun Dr) Mahathir Mohamad’s time. By moving this proposal, he can give positions to individuals even though they are outsiders,” he said.

Hindu Sangam president RS Mohan Shan meanwhile, while lauding the idea, doesn’t think it is workable either in the current environment.

“It sounds inviting and it may work for political parties but I can’t see it being beneficial to NGOs. NGOs have a different agenda from political groups. I see a great deal of logistical issues, gray areas and trouble in implementing the proposal.

“Take us... there are 120 small Hindu NGOs in the country and more than 2,500 temples nationwide. Imagine what would happen if all these NGOs become BN members, who will oversee them,'' he told FMT.

The Human Rights Party was also critical of Najib's plan, saying in its posting that it will only “cause more internal bickering”.

“Currently, all the Indian parties in (favour of) BN (MIC, PPP, IPF, Punjabi Peoples Party, Kimma, Mindraf, MMSP, MCC and MUIP) are falling over one another to get a lick at the honey,'' its leader P Uthayakumar said.

“It’s all part of the ongoing treachery against the Indians in Malaysia. They are interested in the Indian votes. And they want the votes cheaply. It is time these politicians understood that there is a price for the votes – they are not going to come cheap anymore,'' he said.

Opted in as associate members

In another development, Bernama quoted sources as saying that BN is working on the option of amending its charter to allow parties friendly to the coalition to become its associate members.

The sources reveal that the BN-friendly parties will not be accorded ordinary membership but associate membership, and say this is the "middle path" expected to be endorsed by the coalition's top leadership and heads of all the existing component parties.

"If we are to allow the BN-friendly parties to become full (ordinary) members, then we will earn the wrath of the current BN component parties as some of these BN-friendly parties are splinter parties of the components.

"Furthermore, if they are made full members, then they will have to be allotted seats under the BN come general elections. So far, we do not see any BN component wanting to give up their seats for these parties," the sources told Bernama.

The BN has set up a special committee headed by Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and comprising representatives from each of the BN components to study the matter and the methodology to be employed if the coalition is to go ahead with the amendment.

Any decision taken by this committee must be endorsed by the BN top leadership and must obtain the green light from all the component parties according to the consensus system practised by the country's oldest political coalition.

Political analyst Dr Sivamurugan Pandian however believes that direct membership is much better than associate membership as the BN needs all the help it can get to garner the support lost in the last five years.

He said the task now will be to tackle the voters, who are generally divided into three segments. There are the traditional voters (hardcore BN voters), BN-friendly voters (those who support the BN but do not want to join any component party) and the fence-sitters (those who will look at the issues raised by the BN as well as the opposition).

"The only thing is that they have to look into the issue of who are willing to sacrifice their seats and the issue of whether the NGOs, if given the political platform, will still perform as effective NGOs.

"If they are given associate membership or club status, they will still feel discriminated as they will not enjoy the privilege of full (ordinary) membership," he said.

FMT
27/02/10

Defending Malay rights and Islam

KUALA LUMPUR: Seventy-six Malay non-governmental organisations today joined forces to form a consultative council, Majlis Perundingan NGO Melayu (MPM), to defend Malays rights and Islam in the country.

Among them were Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Negara (Perkasa), Majlis Bekas Wakil Rakyat Malaysia, Federation of Malay Students Association of Peninsular Malaysia, Malay Professional Thinkers Association of Malaysia and Cuepacs, the umbrella union for civil servants.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who acted as the council's spokesman, said the council's role was to act as a shield against those who tried to question Malay rights and privileges, the position of Islam and and the institution of the Malay rulers.

"At the same time, we will also be a polite pressure group to the government not to shirk from its responsibility in upholding fundamental matters as enshrined in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution," he said at the launching ceremony of MPM at the Sultan Sulaiman Club here.

Ibrahim said MPM members would hold a roundtable on March 7 to discuss the economic direction of the Malays following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak's announcing of the new economic model for the nation.

"We also hope to meet the prime minister before the new economic model is announced because we do not want Malay NGOs to be "making noise" to voice their dissatisfaction over it... we want any policy made by the government to get support from all quarters.

"However, the government should also be proactive to Malay NGOs... meaning there should be give and take... if the government wants the support of NGOs, the government should also give due consideration to our views and feelings," said Ibrahim, the Pasir Mas MP.

In the MPM's statement circulated to reporters, the council asserted that its members must scrutinise each issue that had a bearing on the interest of the Malays, Islam, the Malay rulers and security and harmony in the country irrespective of who raised or questioned them and that they also highlight matters that are dear to the Malays.

Besides this, MPM said it would also prepare and implement an action plan to counter any provocation on matters that touch on the interests of Malays and Islam if they were construed as efforts by irresponsible parties to spread hatred.

FMT
27/02/10

'Stage being set for action against Ku Li'

KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah looks certain to face ''drastic action'' from his party over his dissenting stand on the Kelantan oil royalty issue, claimed veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang.

The DAP politician said that recent remarks by Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin indicated that the stage was being set for drastic action by Umno against Tengku Razaleigh, a former party vice-president.

“When Najib said on Thursday night that it was up to Umno members to decide if action should be taken against Tengku Razaleigh for continuing his campaign against the federal government over Kelantan’s oil royalties claim, the stage is set for drastic action by Umno against the Kelantan prince and elder Umno statesman,” Lim wrote in his blog entry.

He also said that Muhyiddin had more than once expressed displeasure at Tengku Razaleigh’s “unrepentant recalcitrance”.

“(Muhyiddin has) openly questioned Tengku Razaleigh’s loyalty to Umno and accused him of trying to confuse the public over the oil royalty issue,” he added.

While admitting that any possible action by Umno against Tengku Razaleigh was an internal party matter, Lim nevertheless pointed out that the oil royalty issue raised by the Gua Musang MP concerned a larger public interest.

He added that Tengku Razaleigh was championing the state rights of not only Kelantan but also other states such as Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak, which were directly affected by the oil royalty controversy.

Tengku Razaleigh's stand on the oil royalty matter – in which he supports the call made by the PAS-led state government for oil royalty, and not compassionate payment, from the federal government – has caused severe discomfort for the BN-led federal government.

Apart from labelling the federal government as acting like a “Godfather”, Tengku Razaleigh had also lashed out at the federal government for not stemming the signs of decline everywhere in the country.

He was quoted in a media report last week as saying that even Malays were getting disillusioned with the state of the nation and were leaving the country as a result of that.

He was quoted as saying “something must be wrong in this so-called Malay Land (Tanah Melayu) when they (Malays) are leaving”.

Yesterday, Tengku Razaleigh said that he was still loyal to the party's cause although he continues to voice out Kelantan's right in the oil royalty claim.

Khairy: Ku Li is baiting us

Meanwhile, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has accused Tengku Razaleigh's decision to go against Umno on the oil royalty issue as merely an attempt to bait his peers and get himself declared a hero.

"He is looking for attention. He wants the party to take action against him so that he will be seen as a hero to his supporters.

“I don't believe he will quit the party. A departure will not benefit him. He knows this because he has done it before," said Khairy.

He added that Najib had already issued a signal and was awaiting the views of Umno members before deciding what to do to Tengku Razaleigh.

"The youth movement has also gone down to the grassroots to collect members' views," he told reporters after officiating the closing ceremony of the Kelantan Youth Carnival in University Technologi Mara Kelantan.

FMT
27/02/10

Last Indian village Sentul destroyed Kg Baru Malays get RM 4 Million each

Just a few days ago the UMNO Federal Territories Minister Raja Nong Chik announced up to RM4 million for all the Malay occupants of land in Kampong Baru. But zero millions was offered to the Indians poor in the last traditional Indian village in Sentul.

UMNO has taken no efforts to preserve if not to enhance and recognize these Indian Railways workers who were the backbone of the setting up and operations of the Malayan Railways from the British Colonial days. Even the key Ring that is posed from station to station is also written in Tamil in addition to English. Res Ipsa Loquiteour. (The facts speak for itself.)

To add insult to injury these poor Indians are being evicted and not even given a low cost flat by UMNO (Star Metro 22/2/10 at page M6).

But in the news report immediately below this article reads “(UMNO) DBKL takes pride in beautifying Petaling Street.

P. Uthayakumar
27/02/10

UMNO left Indians in refugee camp like longhouses next to affluent Subang

Sixteen years ago in 1984, 118 ethnic Malaysian Indian minority families were uprooted and relocated “temporarily” in longhouses to make way for the affluent malay muslim majority Subang housing estate project.

Had these 118 poor Indian minority families been the poor majority malay muslims, they would have been long ago granted land under the Racangan Kampong Tersusun (RKT) or the ten acres of land under the Land Ownership Scheme in Felda, Felcra, Risda, Fama, Agropolitan kesedar etc as had been given out to half a million of the majority malay muslims.

But then again this is Malay-sian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malay-sia. And even the 82 PKR, DAP and PAS Opposition MP’s and Justice for All malay leader Anwar Ibrahim, Kapitian Lim Guan Eng and PAS for All muslim leader Hadi Awang in particular and their eleven Indian Mandore MPs’ would never ever champion this Indian poor issue because these Indians are poor, weak both politically and economically and are soft targets.

Even now that Selangor is ruled by Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR and and this Indian settlement being almost absolutely in the Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid’s hands even this PKR led coalition government with DAP and PAS cares a damn.

How then are this PKR, DAP and PAS ruled Selangor state government any much different from the previous UMNO regime.

P. Uthayakumar.
27/02/10

Umno leaders question Ku Li’s ‘immunity’ on oil royalty

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Some Umno supreme council members openly grumbled at their meeting two days ago that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah appears to have ‘immunity’ to dispute the federal government’s stand on oil royalty for Kelantan, and recommended action against the party veteran.

The Malaysian Insider understands some supreme council members want action against the Kelantan prince and have, for the first time, asked the party rank-and-file to provide feedback against the long-serving Gua Musang MP.

“There was proposal for action against Tengku Razaleigh... but it wasn’t a proposal for strict action,” an Umno supreme council member told The Malaysian Insider on condition of anonymity.

“There was also the view questioning the inaction against Tengku Razaleigh when the party had used to take strict against members who act against party policies,” another supreme council member said.

But both said issues related to the politician popularly known as Ku Li was not the main agenda at the Thursday night meeting. The founding Petronas chairman had insisted Kelantan was entitled to the 5 per cent royalty but the federal government said no, as Petronas was extracting oil and gas beyond the state’s territorial waters.

“They touched on it but it wasn’t the main discussion,” one of them said, referring to the roiling debate over oil royalty demanded by the PAS-ruled Kelantan government.

“Some members felt the issue should be handled carefully,” he added, saying this is due to the Gua Musang MP’s position as he is a party veteran and not just an ordinary member.

On Thursday night, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said any potential action against Razaleigh would be taken after getting feedback from party members. “We want to hear from the members first,” the prime minister said.

A few hours before the supreme council meeting, Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin reiterated he was surprised at Razaleigh’s statement which was not in line with the federal government’s decision and explanation about the oil royalty for Kelantan.

Muhyiddin had once said Razaleigh should openly state his stand on the issue. Apart from the deputy prime minister, other members and leaders particularly from Kelantan have urged the Kelantan prince to quit his Gua Musang parliamentary seat while asking the party to punish him.

It is understood that the Umno management committee chaired by Muhyiddin has yet to discuss the issue that has festered in the past few months.

Umno executive secretary Datuk Abdul Rauf Yusoh told The Malaysian Insider that the party will not set a time-frame for members to give their feedback on Razaleigh’s stand.

“Any members or the branches can send in their opinions... we will not set a time-frame. The branches can send to the divisions, divisions can send to state liaison committees and onwards to the headquarters,” said Abdul Rauf.

He said all views will be considered by the party’s top leadership, reiterating the views can be submitted at any time and not just during the annual meetings for branches between May 1 and June 15.

Razaleigh, who has been in the limelight over the issue since the Pakatan Rakyat offered him to lead a caucus on the oil royalty last November, has said he will leave it to Umno to decide on his punishment, which includes being sacked from the party if they find him guilty of any offence over the issue.

The Malaysian Insider
27/02/10

UMNO/BN betrayed its pledge of power-sharing by rotation of Sabah Chief Minister’s post

It is coming to a year since Datuk Seri Najib Razak became the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia bombarding Malaysians with his multi-million ringgit “1Malaysia” slogan and campaign.

It is sad and ironical that despite such high-intensity 1Malaysia publicity campaign in the past 11 months, Malaysians have never been more polarized both on race and religion, reminding Malaysians that they are even further from the goal of a united Malaysian nation, as illustrated by issues such as the Allah controversy, the burning of churches and attack of mosques and other places of religious worship, the cow-head and pig-head incidents; irresponsible politicking of race and religion as the mischievous attempt by Umno leaders and Umno-controlled media to paint the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penang Pakatan Rakyat state government as anti-Malay and anti-Islam; the racist brain-washing courses conducted by Biro Tata Negara of the Prime Minister’s Department, resulting in “ultra” statements like dismissing the Chinese and Indians as “pendatang” and defaming the Indians as coming to Malaysia as beggars and Chinese women coming as prostitutes; the rise of what UMNO elder statesman Tengku Razaleigh has described as “rabid racism” like the surfacing of organizations like Perkasa, etc.

Everywhere and everyday in Malaysia, there are more evidence of the absence of 1Malaysia rather than its presence.

In Kota Kinabalu today, I saw new evidence of the absence rather than the presence of 1Malaysia – with two conflicting and competing sets of billboards, banners and advertisements of Chinese New Year greetings by MCA in Sabah.

There is one set of Chinese New Year greetings by the “stand-alone” Sabah MCA Chairman Edward Khoo, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister competing with another set of Chinese New Year greetings featuring the lame-duck MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat accompanied by his Sabah MCA claque of supporters.

When under his leadership, the Barisan Nasional and its component parties cannot present a united front, like having 1MCA, 1Umno, 1Gerakan, 1Barisan Nasional, what credence and credibility can there be for Najib’s 1Malaysia?
Is there 1Sabah?

2013 in three years’ time mark Sabah’s 50th anniversary in the formation of Malaysia. It is appropriate in preparing for the occasion to seriously assess whether the dreams of Sabahans in 1963 to form Malaysia together with Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia had been fulfilled or betrayed.

Have the people of Sabah been granted their full citizenship rights as Malaysians in the past five decades?

Let the debate and soul-searching begin as to how one of the richest states in Sabah had been reduced in five decades to become the poorest state in the federation.

In the nineties, the Barisan Nasional promised Sabahans that poverty in Sabah would be eradicated in the year 2,000. However, instead of abolishing poverty in 2000, Sabah’s poverty rate became the worst in the whole of the country.

Barisan Nasional next promised that hard-core poverty in Sabah would be abolished in 2010. This is another candidate heading for the mountainous dump heap of Barisan Nasional broken promises, in Sabah and in Malaysia!

Sabahans and Malaysians remember that to topple the PBS Sabah government, Umno and Barisan Nasional pledged that if they come to power in Sabah, they would be genuine power-sharing through the rotation of the post of Sabah Chief Minister among the three major communities in the state.

What is the Umno/Barisan Nasional record of their rule of Sabah in the past 16 years since 1994?

UMNO/BN had betrayed their pledge of power-sharing by rotation of Sabah Chief Minister’s post as in the past 16 years, the Chief Minister’s post was held by a Kadazan native for 9 months, Chinese for 4 years and Umno for more than 11 years!

Nothing could be more eloquent than this episode to highlight the enormity of the breach of faith and betrayal of pledge of Umno/Barisan Nasional to the people of Sabah in the past 16 years of their rule of Sabah.

This is a far cry from the great promises shared by Sabahans in the early decades of nationhood.

Earlier today, together with DAP MPs Hiew King Cheu (Kota Kinabalu), Teo Nie Ching (Serdang), Lim Lip Eng (Segambut) and DAP Kadazan leaders Edward Muji and Jeffrey Kumin, I revisited the “Double Six” Mausoleum to pay respects to the great Sabah sons who perished in the Triple Six tragedy of June 6, 1976 – Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and State Ministers, Datuk Salleh Sulong, Datuk Peter Mojuntin and Chong Thien Vun.

Almost exactly 32 years ago on February 25, 1978, I had first visited the “Double Six” Mausoleum as well as the grave of Peter Mojuntin at St. Michael’s Church, Penampang.

Sabah history would be very different today if not for the tragic air crash of June 6, 1976 wiping out the core of the Sabah cabinet.

It is time that Kadazans and Sabahans reflect what went wrong that the rights of Kadazans and ordinary Sabahans had become so emasculated and marginalized while the vast rich resources had been monopolized by a few.

In this connection, the time has also come for the Federal Government to lift the ban on the biography of Peter Mojuntin, “The Golden Son of the Kadazans”, written by my old friend and DAP comrade, Bernard Sta Maria, who was Malacca State Assemblyman.

The book was banned on June 22 1978 on grounds of public security and order. This is utterly unacceptable. Those who disagree with the interpretation of events in the life of Peter Mojuntin can write a rebuttal or come out with their own publications – but there can be no justification or excuse for the ban of the book “The Golden Son of the Kadazans”.

[Speech at the dinner with Kadazan representatives at Windbelll Restaurant, Kota Kinabalu on Friday, 26th February 2010 at 9 pm]

27/02/10

Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia heads out to Sabah & Sarawak

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO ATTEND THESE EVENTS.

You can register via:

email: events(at)sayaanakbangsamalaysia.net

tel: +603-2095 0435 (Wed to Sun; 12noon-7pm)

FOR DETAILS OF THE FORUMS AT THE SABM WEBSITE, CLICK ON THE POSTER ABOVE.

KOTA KINABALU PROGRAM

Date: March 13, 2010, Saturday

Venue: Beverly Hotel, Lorong Kemajaun

6.00pm-6.50pm: Registration

7.00pm-7.30pm: Federation of Malaysia 20 point Agreement by Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan

7.30pm-7.40pm: Q & A

7.45pm-8.15pm: How the Federation has failed Sabahans by Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan

8.20pm-8.40pm: Screening of the “Perak Crisis”

8.45pm-9.00pm: Refreshment break

9.00pm-9.30pm: Are we a nation in distress? Where did we go wrong? by Haris Ibrahim

9.30pm-10.15pm: This is our home. We care. We want to make it better by Dr Chong Eng Leong, Hasbeemasputera and Jayanath Appudurai

10.15-11pm: Q & A

KUCHING PROGRAM

Date: March 14, 2010, Sunday

Venue: Harbourview Hotel, Lorong Temple

1.00pm-2.00pm: Registration

2.00pm-2.30pm: Federation of Malaysia 18 point Agreement by Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan

2.30pm-2.40pm: Q & A

2.45pm-3.15pm: How the Federation has failed Sarawakians by Encik Baru Bian

3.15pm-3.25pm: Q & A

3.30pm-3.50pm: Screening of the “Perak Crisis”

3.50pm-4.10pm: Refreshment break

4.10pm-4.40pm: Are we a nation in distress? Where did we go wrong? by Haris Ibrahim and Cobbold John

4.40pm-5.25pm: This is our home. We care. We want to make it better by YB Voon Lee Shan, Flora Peter and Jayanath Appudurai

5.30pm-6.15pm: Q & A

27/02/10

Malaysians must rise as a people if they want a People’s Parliament”.

Get in touch with SABM. e-mail us at events(at)sayaanakbangsamalaysia.net or call us at 03-2095 0435 from Wednesday to Sunday between 12noon-7pm.

Or you can send me an e-mail at thepeoplesparliament@gmail.com.

Organise some teh tarik at your home, your office, or at some stall. Get your family, friends and colleagues to come round.

We’ll come and partake of your fellowship and share our message.

After the KL Roadshow and forum on 23rd January, a young student who attended the forum contacted us.

This led to a “lepak session” between about 12 local university students and 4 SABM core-groupers, myself included.

For me, personally, it reinforced my conviction that the hopes of this nation rest with our young.

A second “lepak session” is scheduled for later this month.

Yesterday, an anak Bangsa Malaysia who had also attended the KL forum played host to a teh tarik session in Cheras.

She contacted me through Facebook last week and it culminated in yesterday’s fellowship.

Robert and I attended.

We shared the 5 SABM key messages and then there followed a sharing of thoughts, concerns, fears and hopes.

As always, for me, it was an enriching experience meeting new people.

And like so many other similar fellowships that I’ve attended in the past, I was left with the impression yesterday that there are good people in our midst who have for a long time languished under a sense of hopelessness, who want so much to come forward and help make a difference and make our country a better place for all, but succumb to the fears that the best from amongst us have.

Family.

Putting food on the table.

Job.

We all need a reason to believe that any effort by us to help take this country back from the ugly forces that now sit in the driving seat of this nation will not be in vain.

I offer you two reasons to believe.

First, anchor our effort to bring justice and equality to this nation in an unshakable faith that God is with us on this difficult journey.

To my brothers and sisters of the Christian faith who made time yesterday to share their thoughts with Robert and I, allow me to share with you a verse from your scripture that has always inspired me to overcome my own fears.

“Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” – Psalms 23 verse 4.

Second, know that we have it in ourselves to set this nation right.

Know that collectively, the good people of this nation are an insurmountable force to be reckoned with.

Acknowledge our faults of the past in allowing the nation to slip into the state that it is in now and say “No more”.

Resolve to work together with all fair-minded anak Bangsa Malaysia to take our country back for our children and their children.

I want to reproduce here an excerpt of something I posted here when this blog was but 5 days old, entitled “Set the picture frame right”.

“Imagine a picture frame hanging on the wall which appears lopsided to you, as you observe it seated in your armchair. Try as hard as she does, the adjustments to the same by the maid just does not seem to get it right. Either it is too much to the left or too much to the right.

You have a choice.

Sit there and gripe until death brings an end to your misery.

Or get off that armchair and set the picture frame right.

You and I have the same set of choices about the state of mismanagement of this country. Sit and gripe or get up and set things right.

…I believe that Malaysians by and large are decent, caring people who, in truth, are greatly concerned about the wrongs that are being inflicted to a great many of our fellow Malaysians. I believe that the seeming silence of the greater number is not out of indifference to those wrongs but is brought about by an unfounded fear to dare to stand up and ‘set the picture frame right’.

It is my hope that this blog may help to rally together like-minded Malaysians to dare to stand up and ‘set the picture frame right’.

What is my aspiration for this country?

The comment by A. Williams to my first post sums up so succintly, the problem that grips us as a nation and, that which must come to pass if we are to emerge from this national crisis as a just and caring people. I pray that we have the strength and courage to ’set the picture frame right’.

“The government meant to serve us, the people of this land, has hijacked the power that belongs to us to fire those that have disgraced the sacred seats of Parliament. Our rights over the years have been whittled down by draconian laws. The wealth of this country that belongs to the citizenry has been squandered by irresponsible men and women.

And we, the people, have been sleeping, lulled into thinking we are the servants of the government we chose. We have accepted false measures of what a nation should be, what our rights and responsibilities are, and many of us have turned the other way rather than face our failure to be a people faithful to the truth, protective of our children’s future and loyal to our Constitution.

We voted in our government servants and promptly became subservient to them. We have such a low opinion of ourselves as a people able to bring dignity back to our Parliament and able to change the destiny of our nation. Why? Because we are on the whole self-serving too, at our own level. We live in enclaves of self-preservation and want the other man to fight for us.

The time has come to change. And change must begin with us. We need to change our mindset of apathy. We need to forge a new alliance among ourselves, a unity founded on a love and respect for all peoples of this nation. We need to carve on our hearts that every man not given justice is our brother and every woman shackled by the discriminatory laws and customs is our sister .

There is no other road to restoration but that of commitment

27/02/10

CIJ: Retract show cause to the Star

KUALA LUMPUR - The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has expressed its concern that the Star newspaper has been issued a show-cause letter by the Ministry of Home Affairs, following police reports lodged against the daily.

The police reports were made over the publication of a columnist questioning the caning of three Muslim women for indulging in illicit sex.

The CIJ, in a statement issued Friday has asked the Home Ministry to retract the show-cause letter and for the police reports to be withdrawn.

CIJ Communication and Publications Officer Yip Wai Fong said "it is the media's role to provide opinion on current issues and this must be respected."

Protests by NGOs and individuals

The media had reported early this week that the Home Ministry had issued the show cause letter to the Star after several non-government organisations and eight individuals lodged police reports against it.

The NGOs were the National Indigenous Organisation (Perkasa), Perkasa Selangor, Muslim Consummers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) and the Malaysian Muslim People's Coalition (IRIMM).

Their protest was over a commentary piece on Feb 19, written by Star managing editor and veteran journalist P Gunasegaran on the issue.

The NGOs viewed the commentary as an insult to Islam because it came from a non-Muslim. Besides an apology, the Muslim NGOs demanded that the writer be sacked.

The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), besides lodging a report against Gunasegaran, lodged a similar report against Sisters in Islam (SIS) for questioning the syariah whipping against the three women.

Mais secretary Mohamed Khusrin Munawi said those, who were not well-versed with the Syariah criminal law, had no rights and not qualified to question a law governing Muslims.

On an apology issued by Star on Wednesday, he said it was not sufficient.

Apology tendered

In his article, "Persuasion, not compulsion", Gunasegaran asked whether the sentence of both caning and detention are proportionate to the offence, ie illicit sex, and argued against punitive sentence for private behaviour.

The Star apologised publicly on Feb 24 in response to demands made by some readers.

"The lodging of police reports, and the point made that the writer is not fit to comment because he is a not a Muslim, does not promote understanding of the issues," said Yip.

She added: "A common response is to invoke the use of repressive laws, a threat used not only by the authorities but increasingly, by non-governmental organisations.

'Don't curtail discussions'


"This worrying trend has the effect of silencing dissenting views and putting a stop to intellectual engagement."

Yip reasoned that discussion of laws and court judgments - be it civil or syari'ah - should not be curtailed.

"It is not a sign of disrespect; in fact, it strengthens Malaysia's legal system," she said.

"The flow of information, ideas, analyses and opinions should be encouraged.

"It helps us find out what's what and shapes our understanding of issues and concerns that are faced by a multi-ethnic society like Malaysia's," Yip said.

MM
26/02/10

Home Minister declines to meet police shooting victim

A 30-member delegation left Putrajaya disappointed today after Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declined to accept their memo in person regarding the police shooting of unemployed single mom Norizan Salleh.

Arriving at the Home Ministry around 11.30am, the group, made up of representatives Lawyers for Liberty and Pakatan Rakyat were met by Hishammuddin's senior private secretary Azmi Zakaria in the lobby to receive the memorandum on behalf of the minister.

However a commotion erupted when Norizan's lawyer N Surendren and the Pakatan representatives insisted on meeting the minister in person.

“If we deliver this to you, you will not take action. We want to hand this to the minister,” declared Surendran.

Apparently annoyed by the remark, the Home Ministry's representative walked away.

Meanwhile, Teratai state assemblyperson Janice Lee said they were treated like nobodies although the victim was already in their building.

Norizan expressed her disappointment that she could not meet the Home Minister in person.

"I still hope to meet him and get explanation from him," she said.

Police had classified the incident as an accident and refused to meet Norizan's medical expenses.

"I do not know how to pay the RM18,000 medical bill," she, adding "I do not even know how to support myself."

PKR information chief Lateefa Koya, wondered why the minister did not take the opportunity to meet the victim himself, so that he could see what she went through.

Norizan, who was shot five times and beaten up by police after they stopped a car she was in on the MRR2, is claiming that attack on her was without reason and wrongful.

Earlier Norizan and her supporters had submitted similar memorandums to Bukit Aman on Feb 5 and the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) on Feb 11.

Kapar MP S Manickavasagam said they will send the memorandum to Parliament when it sits on March 15.

"He cannot run if it is sent to the parliament," he said.

Among those present to lend support were Selangor exco Rodziah Ismail, Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, PAS Women's Wing Secretary Kartini Ahmad, Selangor Pakatan Rakyat elected Representative Officer (SELPRO) secretary Ng Yap Hwa.

MK
26/02/10

Anwar says the worst is not over for economy

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today that prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is “premature” in declaring the worst is over after the economy grew by 4.5 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2009.

The Opposition Leader and former Finance Minister said that the announcement is “irresponsible” because the growth is largely a result of pump priming and the government’s stimulus package spending.

“The latest declaration by the Prime Minister that the worst is over when the country’s GDP grew at 4.5 per cent in the last quarter of 2009 is not only premature but irresponsible.

“It is clear that the supposedly stronger growth was due to the massive pump priming by the government over the last year. Propping up the sagging economy is at best a stop gap measure. Pump priming by definition cannot be permanent. I am deeply concerned that the continuous reliance on massive spending will take us down the road to economic serfdom. And that may not be too distant in the future.

“Since 1998, the Barisan Nasional government has implemented only one economic policy ie increasing public expenditure (most of the time unnecessarily through massive projects that were subjected to leakages and inflated costs) to make up for the dramatic decrease in private spending.,” he said in a press statement.

Najib had acknowledged that the positive growth in Q4 was helped largely by the government’s push to pump some RM1 billion a month into the economy which resulted in the country’s economic performance faring better than expected.

“Over 113,000 projects under the two stimulus packages have and are being implemented, involving a total value of RM17 billion. Out of that, the government has made a payment of RM13.9 billion. Therefore on average, the government has pumped approximately RM1 billion per month into the market from January 2009,” said Najib last week when announcing the country economic performance for 2009.

Najib had set a target for his administration of growing the economy this year by five per cent which he said could be achieved barring unforeseen circumstances.

However Anwar said today that the five per cent growth prediction is “disingenuous” as the country is still lagging behind in the region.

“Trumpeting a 5 per cent growth for 2010 is disingenuous at best. What the Prime Minister does not say to the people is that even if our economy grows by 5 per cent, Malaysia will continue to fall behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and even Vietnam in 2010.

“The latest economic forecast by IMF published in October 2009 shows that in 2010, Malaysia is expected to perform the worst among all these countries even as the world economy shows signs of recovery. Vietnam is expected to double our growth rate while the rest will outpace Malaysia by an average of 50 per cent,” he said.

Anwar also stressed that private investment had dropped significantly in the past decade to contribute only 28 per cent of the country’s GDP.

“The data on private investment trending since 1991 should serve as a reminder of the path to economic damnation that BN has dragged us into. While private investments grew at the compound annual growth rate of 16.2 per cent between 1991 and 1997, this has dropped severely to a marginal growth of 1 per cent between 1998 and 2008.

“Translating this into private investments in real terms, between 2005 and 2008, private investments into our economy stagnated at RM20.3 billion each year. This is even lower than the private investments figure in 1991, nearly 20 years ago.

“While Barisan Nasional remains clueless about rejuvenating the economy for the long term, private investments have plunged from the pre-1997 days when it constituted 40 per cent of the gross domestic products (in real terms), to an average of 28 per cent in the last decade,” he said.

Anwar said that the current economic stagnation is due to Barisan Nasional’s “mismanagement and corruption.”

“The Barisan Nasional government must own up to the fact that our economy is the way it is because of the years of mismanagement and corruption perpetrated by the powers that be.

“The future wealth of our country can only be guaranteed by a government that is accountable to the people where transparency and good governance are absolutely essential. That is why Pakatan Rakyat will remain relentless in the pursuit to offer the people an efficiently managed economy that will sustain the livelihood of future generations,” he said.

The Malaysian Insider
26/02/10

This is the time for truth

We live in uncertain times. The economic outlook is bleak, the political scene murky, the social milieu hostile. The country seems to be drifting down a dangerous path and at a frightening pace. Everywhere we turn, there is little to cheer our flagging spirit.

It is times like this that we need clarity and direction. This is the time for truth!

This is the time to tell people the true story of foul deeds done, justice denied and veiled threats made.

Now is the time to reveal truth that is distorted, sanitised or buried and how certain unsavory acts go unpunished.

It is essential that the fourth estate be an active participant in the life of the nation.

As an influential voice, the Press, printed or online, must act as a watchdog for the citizens by keeping tabs on the affairs of the state. This is easier said than done, given the many restrictions placed in the way. But it is better to stay awake at all times than to fall asleep and let bad people do all the talking and acting.

To gain public trust is not the job of politicians alone. The Press too must fight hard for the common good. Providing accurate and objective articles is what will win the day. For this, news hound must set high ethical and professional standards.

In the past, people depended on the mainstream media for their daily dose of news.

They took as gospel truth whatever was published. They hardly questioned those in authority. Thus, public opinion was easily moulded by whoever held sway.

If there were dissenting views, there was no outlet for them.

But in recent years the alternative media has drastically altered the way people think and act. No longer is the newsstands a priority stop or a coffee-table necessity. The new-age readers have chosen not to digest the one-sided, crude attempts at manipulation served by the mainstream media.

In short, Malaysians now know that there is a better serving of real-time news on the net.

Today, a new power has been unleashed, one that can decide the course of a nation's life. Readers, young and old, have tasted it in 2008 and found it sweet. It pays to to convey the plain truth, however unpalatable or painful it may be. It pays to work for all that's good and fair. It pays to pull the wool away from, and not over, the eyes of the public.

Free Malaysia Today
26/02/10

Malaysian Economy: The Worst Is Yet To Come

The latest declaration by the Prime Minister that “the worst is over” when the country’s GDP grew at 4.5% in the last quarter of 2009 is not only premature but irresponsible.

It is clear that the supposedly stronger growth was due to the massive pump priming by the government over the last year. Propping up the sagging economy is at best a stop gap measure. Pump priming by definition cannot be permanent. I am deeply concerned that the continuous reliance on massive spending will take us down the road to economic serfdom. And that may not be too distant in the future.

Since 1998, the Barisan Nasional government has implemented only one economic policy i.e. increasing public expenditure (most of the time unnecessarily through massive projects that were subjected to leakages and inflated costs) to make up for the dramatic decrease in private spending.

The data on private investment trending since 1991 should serve as a reminder of the path to economic damnation that BN has dragged us into. While private investments grew at the compound annual growth rate of 16.2% between 1991 and 1997, this has dropped severely to a marginal growth of 1% between 1998 and 2008.

Translating this into private investments in real terms, between 2005 and 2008, private investments into our economy stagnated at RM20.3 billion each year. This is even lower than the private investments figure in 1991, nearly 20 years ago.

While Barisan Nasional remains clueless about rejuvenating the economy for the long term, private investments have plunged from the pre-1997 days when it constituted 40% of the gross domestic products (in real terms), to an average of 28% in the last decade.

That is why Pakatan Rakyat will not jump too quickly to declare that the economy has recovered, because there are still structural problems with the economy that have to be addressed urgently if we do not want to continue to fall behind.

Trumpeting a 5% growth for 2010 is disingenuous at best. What the Prime Minister does not say to the people is that even if our economy grows by 5%, Malaysia will continue to fall behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and even Vietnam in 2010.

The latest economic forecast by IMF published in October 2009 shows that in 2010, Malaysia is expected to perform the worst among all these countries even as the world economy shows signs of recovery. Vietnam is expected to double our growth rate while the rest will outpace Malaysia by an average of 50%.

The Barisan Nasional government must own up to the fact that our economy is the way it is because of the years of mismanagement and corruption perpetrated by the powers that be.

The future wealth of our country can only be guaranteed by a government that is accountable to the people where transparency and good governance are absolutely essential.

That is why Pakatan Rakyat will remain relentless in the pursuit to offer the people an efficiently managed economy that will sustain the livelihood of future generations.

ANWAR IBRAHIM
Parliamentary Opposition Leader
26 February 2010

Raising Malaysia’s Hackles

The prosecution of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is proceeding apace, but that doesn’t mean international pressure is useless. Witness the government’s reaction to recent international criticism.

A bipartisan group of 56 Australian parliamentarians sent a letter earlier this month to the Malaysian High Commissioner in Canberra, saying the fact that a leading opposition voice has been charged with sodomy a second time “raises serious concerns,” and urging the authorities to drop the charges. The letter cited an op-ed in this newspaper by Munawar A. Anees, who claims he was tortured by the police and forced to confess to sodomy with Mr. Anwar before the first trial in 1998. And it echoes statements by American and Canadian politicians also worried about the impartiality of Malaysia’s rule of law.

The reaction was swift. Some 500 members of the ruling coalition’s youth wing and sympathizers protested in Kuala Lumpur last week, calling the letter a “trampling” on “sovereignty.” Youth leader Khairy Jalamuddin told us in a telephone interview that the trial is a judicial process, not a political one.

Yet the Malaysian response, far from being a deterrent, only shows how sensitive the country is to international pressure. The letter’s coordinator, Labor MP Michael Danby, says Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia’s relative success stories and any threat to its fledgling pluralistic democracy should not be lightly disregarded. “You wouldn’t want us to be quiet on Aung San Suu Kyi, neither should we be quiet on what’s happening to Anwar Ibrahim,” he says.

International attention may not change the course of Mr. Anwar’s trial, but at the very least, it reminds Malaysia’s elites that their actions won’t go unnoticed—or, perhaps, without consequences.

The Wall Street Journal
26/02/10

Speak Out for Anwar Ibrahim’s Sake

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. After having differences of opinion with prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he was removed from office, charged with sodomy and corruption – charges condemned worldwide as an attempt to remove him from politics – and imprisoned for six years. After his release in 2004, he became the leader of a coalition of opposition parties that is successfully challenging the ruling coalition’s power. Mr. Anwar has now been charged again with sodomy, a charge that has again been condemned worldwide.

I have known Mr. Anwar well since the period when we each served as finance ministers for our respective countries. He is deeply committed to democracy, justice and the rule of law. And I have watched with horror how he has been treated in Malaysia because of that commitment. His initial imprisonment was seen worldwide as politically motivated. Amnesty International regarded him as a prisoner of conscience, jailed for the non-violent expression of his political opinion. After his release in 2004, he redoubled his campaign, attracting thousands to his public rallies, with the result that the historic 2008 election returned an unprecedented number of opposition candidates to Parliament. He now poses a threat to the government in the next national elections, expected in 2013 – the real reason for the latest charge.

His trial, which began Feb. 2, is widely seen as not meeting international standards for a fair trial. The former Anwar political aide who is making the sodomy accusation was reportedly seen with leading ruling coalition figures prior to the filing of the charge; Mr. Anwar’s lawyers have been denied access to vital prosecution documents; and the trial has been transferred to a higher court whose judges are seen as linked to the ruling coalition’s main party. It is small wonder that Michael Danby, chair of Australia’s parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, has charged that Malaysia’s legal system is being manipulated to drive Mr. Anwar out of politics. Mr. Danby has said that Asian democrats were “flabbergasted” by the charges and that “everyone in Malaysia, and everyone in the international legal community, knows that Anwar is innocent of these charges.”

The presence of so many foreign embassies attending Mr. Anwar’s show trial is a clear expression of international concern. This is an issue on which the world must speak out.

If his country is to take its place among the progressive nations of the world, it is crucial that the politically motivated charge against Mr. Anwar be dropped and that he be free to pursue his vision of a democratic Malaysia, properly respectful of human rights and international law.

By Paul Martin, former prime minister of Canada
26/02/10

Kelantanese has been intensely surpressed & heavily marginalised by UMNO Federal Govt.

The oil belongs to the people; not government nor Petronas. they are merely custodian, or pemegang amanah. the time has come.. the oil revenues must be returned to the people in part (though not in full) for their well-being & prosperity.

Umno/BN Govt can no longer deny this; it is a fact known by everyone. they cannot continue to decieve, mislead & discriminate Kelantan (or any other oil producing states) from the rights specified under the agreements & Constitution. Such discrimination act is tantamount to treason; or betrayal to the national interest & the people.

Nik Aziz is so right for the ‘doa’ of the year – for the Almighty God to severe & destroy the black-hearted Prime Minister Najib & his cronies for intentionally discriminating Kelantanese & making fool of them with wang ehsan.

What is this wang ehsan? there is no such thing as wang ehsan anywhere in the agreements not even in the Constitution. Umno ‘creates’ this wang ehsan purposely to humilate Kelantanese, as if they are begging for their own rights.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this famous ‘doa’. Kelantan over the years under Pas-led Govt has been intensely surpressed & heavily marginalised by Federal Govt. Terengganu suffered once we know, but for Kelantan is like forever. Najib is seen so ill-intent when he unashamedly betray the interest of the two millions Kelantanese.

Tengku Razaleigh and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have been campaigning hard to force the federal government to pay oil royalties as claimed by the state.

Tengku Razaleigh, who founded Petronas, had earlier this week rubbished attempts by the federal government to explain, through newspaper advertisements, its refusal to pay the Kelantan government oil royalties.

He said that even though all of the oil found in Malaysia was located more than three nautical miles offshore, Petronas had nevertheless been making oil payments to various states.

The federal government’s main argument is that oil and gas are extracted from waters that are beyond the three-nautical mile limit prescribed as territorial waters under Malaysia’s Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) No. 7 1969.

But the Kelantan Umno man has pointed out that by that argument, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak should also be deprived of a 5 per cent oil royalty.

Mahathir and Najib administration ignoring the promise made 35 years ago by former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein in denying oil royalty payments to Kelantan.

Nik Aziz also challenged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to honour the promise made by his father and not to defend Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s mistake of revoking the oil royalty payment.

“Is Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the sixth Prime Minister, the son of Razak the second Prime Minister or the heir of Tun Mahathir, the fourth Prime Minister on the oil royalty controversy?”.

“Najib should demonstrate that he is Razak’s son and not Mahathir’s heir on this issue to restore justice to the states, whose fundamental state rights have suffered insidious erosion in the past few decades.

A man is what he says. It simply reflects how shallow this govt is in keeping promises to the rakyat. There is no value in their words. It is a sick country ruled by sick politicians.

With all these clear laws and question in Parliment, if the Federal Govt. is denying payment that show how this country is rule by the B.N. the last 50 odd years. Time has come for us to change the Federal govt. without a second thought. Pakatan Rakyat in power in GE13.

UMNO @ BN - "A government of thieves"
26/02/10

Women can’t become menteri besar? Gender discrimination by the Malaysian monarchs

Perak's Barisan Nasional state executive councillor Datuk Hamidah Osman said female politicians cannot become menteri besar. Her reason: a menteri besar "has to meet the [monarch], where protocol is involved, and one has to meet religious officers ... in such situations it is not possible for a woman to become the head of a state government."

She did not elaborate on exactly what these protocols were that would be difficult for women to perform if they were menteri besar. It's possible that she was referring to some legality that could prohibit women from becoming state premiers. However, this argument holds no water, say constitutional law experts. And personally, I do not think the law is behind Hamidah's reasoning.

But I can think of at least two reasons for Hamadah's claim. One, she is worried that women's bodily functions might get in the way of performing such duties. Two, she assumes that women are not good enough, either in qualifications or intelligence, to perform menteri besar duties. This, in turn, brings about the age-old debate on whether men have superior intelligence and abilities, and that they are natural leaders while women are followers.

Biology vs religion

Women's bodily functions are related to many cultural taboos. Let's not be shy here: I am talking about the menstrual cycle, or the period. Many people don't mention the word itself, but use euphemisms to refer to it — for example: "My aunty has come to visit", or "My monthly friend is here".

It is not uncommon in the various cultures in Malaysia for a woman to be restricted from religious rites when she is menstruating. Not being allowed to attend religious rites or holding religious paraphernalia are just some of the restrictions placed on women for three to five days a month, every month. This is because menstruation is considered a time when women's bodies are unclean.

Since religion and its related activities are seen to be pure, a woman would defile it if she participated while she was having her period. So, is Hamidah saying that this monthly state of "impurity" prevents any woman from potentially becoming a menteri besar? Or could it be the belief that women are weak during menstruation? Make no mistake — hundreds of thousands of women continue to work on farms, in rice fields, factories, surgical wards and in the home while having their periods.

Throughout history, women's periods have been used to sideline and restrict their participation in the public sphere. Women were not even allowed to leave the house when they were menstruating. Many cultures would practise keeping women away from the rest of the family during this time. They were not allowed to enter places of worship, which then were cultural and intellectual centres where important decisions were made by community leaders regarding rules and laws. By invoking menstrual taboos, men effectively left women out of this process.

Should menstruation stop a woman from working? (Pic by nromagna @ Flickr)

Hamidah's inconsistencies

Leaving the culturally entrenched notion of menstrual taboos for now, let's focus on a more basic issue with Hamidah's claim. I'm assuming that Hamidah was chosen by her party as a candidate, had won the election, and was then appointed state exco based on her skills or abilities. If I am right, then Hamidah has shot herself in the foot. She has raised questions about her own abilities, and that of about 50% of her constituents: women. This is something that Perak voters will have to bear in mind if Hamidah is to stand for re-election.

Whatever Hamidah's reasons are for dismissing women's chances at leadership, they are deep and difficult to discard, and are based on stereotypes about women. I am sure Hamidah is not the only one to have such beliefs. But to assume that women are inferior to men, or that their bodily functions make them less able, is discrimination. Also, such beliefs are archaic — very much out of date, considering the numbers of women leaders from around the world.

Bringing about change

Hamidah (Source: perakbn.gov.my)To ensure equal access to political leadership for all citizens, what needs to be done? Amending the Federal Constitution or ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is not enough to bring about change in our society. And sure, some political parties have put in place gender quotas.This is a step forward in the right direction, but it's not enough.

Political parties must make a committed effort to provide gender training to all their members to inculcate a better environment for men and women to lead together, regardless of cultural or religious beliefs. This environment must come with the belief that women are not inferior because of their biological makeup.

Also, women's wings in political parties should be a space where women become politically empowered and their voices allowed to grow with confidence. They are not the party's section that complements or compliments the work of the male party leadership.

The time to act is now. I would like to see women, including the likes of Hamidah, strive to have a fair chance to become menteri besar. It is the 21st century — we should not be held back by antiquated beliefs about women's bodies and capabilities.

NG
26/02/10
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