UMNO is an evil to racial unity

Fists tremble. Daggers are brandished. Party delegates thunder, "Long live the Malays." The very predictability of the chest-thumping is what UMNO members use to rationalize it: "Although some sides were a bit extreme, fhen comes along the week-long United Malays National Organization (UMNO), at which Muslim Malay party leaders warn the country's minority Chinese and Indians that questioning the special status of Islam and Malays in society will be met with violent doom.

The Islamic and racist zeal was unmistakably more incessant and explicit. Remarks by Hasnoor Hussein, an UMNO delegate from Malacca in 2006, were typical: "UMNO is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood to defend the race and religion. Don't play with fire. If the [other races] mess with our rights, we will mess with theirs."

What troubles many Malaysians about UMNO's lack of restraint is that it comes at a time when the country appears more racially polarized than it's been in decades. Malaysia's mix of ethnic Malays, Indians and Chinese has long been resentful of each other and willfully segregate themselves. Those resentments exploded into full-blown race riots in 1969, when ethnic Malays attacked and killed scores of ethnic Chinese.

These days, some 90% of Chinese students attend private Mandarin-language schools. Meanwhile, most Malays attend public schools and most Indians Tamil-language institutions of learning. The government initiated a public service program to improve race relations by choosing 18-year-olds to participate in a military style camp. That scheme has been dogged by reports of race-related infighting, however.

In the face of a creeping Islamization, non-Malays and social activists have recently pressured Malaysia's UMNO leadership to grant equal rights to all of the country's citizens regardless of race or religion - as is guaranteed under the federal constitution.

Started in 1971, the so-called New Economic Policy (NEP) was originally intended to last 20 years but has since been extended indefinitely. That's because, according to the government, its target of 30% Malay ownership of the country's total corporate equity still has not been achieved. According to official statistics, that percentage now hovers around 18%. Yet a study conducted by an independent academic last month contested that figure by claiming that ethnic Malay total equity ownership could already be as high as 45%.

The push for more democracy in authoritarian Malaysia leaves its ethnic Chinese and Indian minority groups particularly vulnerable - a fact reflected in the racial bashing during UMNO's assembly. At the same time, UMNO's preoccupation with racial politics raises growing doubts about its ability to lead the country forward faced with the challenge of China's economic emergence. The party leadership has openly acknowledged the need for Malaysia to change course if it is to remain competitive with its fast-rising neighbors.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has promoted his concept of Islam Hadhari, or Civilizational Islam, a modernist interpretation of the faith that stresses moderation and technological and economic competitiveness. In that direction, his party has also introduced plans to transform Malaysia into a regional information technology, agricultural and biotech hub.

The country's leadership must take much of the blame. UMNO has clung to old solutions, such as the NEP, to fix new problems. Put another way, UMNO, which has ruled Malaysia for fifty-plus decades through a coalition of other race-based parties, has become bitter, cynical and defensive - a party that is emphasizing preservation at the expense of progress.

Even younger UMNO members, once portrayed as idealistic, urbane and liberal, have quickly come to resemble the party's conservative old guard. And now they often represent the front edge of the party's increasing racist angst. For instance, Abdullah's Oxford-educated son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, who is coincidentally the deputy chief of UMNO's youth wing, warned that Chinese political groups would try to take advantage of any split inside UMNO.

When pressured to apologize, according to media reports, the 31-year-old said, "What is there to apologize for? ... I am only defending my race." At the annual assembly, meanwhile, UMNO youth chief Hishammudin Hussein urged the government to reject proposals for an inter-faith commission intended to foster better understanding among Malaysia's various religious groups.

He brandished a Malay dagger, known locally as a keris, when speaking. Some delegates, it seemed, urged him to go further. "Datuk Hisham has unsheathed his keris, waved his keris, kissed his keris. We want to ask Datuk Hisham, when is he going to use it?" said UMNO Perlis delegate Hashim Suboh but soon after the defeat in the General Election, and one of the main cause is brandishing the keris, he appologised.

This year's assembly could mark a dangerous turning point for a country that not long ago was often applauded internationally as a model moderate Islamic nation for its seeming religious tolerance and clear economic achievements. Nowadays, it's altogether unclear if a racially charged UMNO can even manage to maintain short-term social and political stability.

Seat belt ruling for rear passengers from June

Papar: Rear vehicle passengers will have to start wearing the safety belt from June 1 as a measure to reduce fatal accidents in the country by some 45 per cent, said Deputy Minister of Transport Datuk Lajim Ukin Thursday.

He said the Government would give a three-month grace period, beginning from June 1, to promote the new regulation before imposing penalties on those who failed to comply with the rule from Sept 1.

"By introducing this new rule, the Government hopes to reduce by almost half of the annual average of 350 fatal accidents in the country which are caused by motorists not wearing the safety belt.

"Hence, I hope the public will not perceive this new rule as a burden but instead look at it in a positive way, to safeguard their safety which is of utmost importance," he said.

He said this at the launching of the State-level "Road Safety Campaign for Kaamatan Festival and Wearing Rear Safety Belt" at the multipurpose hall here.

The programme was aimed at enhancing awareness, especially among the motorists and other road users, on the importance of complementing the Government's efforts to reduce road mishaps, particularly in the State.

"For vehicles that have yet to install the rear safety belt, the Government is giving their owners until August to do so.

"I hope vehicle owners would not be hesitant or calculative to pay for the low installation cost, considering the unlimited value of their own lives and their loved ones," said Lajim.

On the penalty for not complying with the new rule, he said the Government has yet to decide on the amount of fine to be imposed.

On road mishaps, Lajim said the nation recorded more cases during the period from January to April this year, with 123,782 cases, compared to 117,192 cases recorded during the same period last year.

"Sabah also recorded an increase of 108 cases or 2.3 per cent during the same period this year compared to last year," he said.

He said the number of fatal accidents in the country also increased by 162 cases or 8.1 per cent, to 2,160 cases this year from 1,998 last year, adding Sabah recorded 101 fatal accidents during the first four months this year compared to 90 last year.

Malaysia Sun

Which minister is profiting from this project?

No more extension of permits for Indian priests and temple musicians in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, May 31 : The Malaysian Government will not extend permits for priests and temple musicians from India to continue working in the temples in Malaysia.

According to Penang Hindu Endowment Board chief A. Thanashekaran, the Immigration department has rejected the new applications.

According to the Makkal Osai daily, previously, the visas for the temple priests and temple musicians were extended for another one year at RM50 when their current visa period expired, and now the extensions are taking place on a month-to-month basis at the same cost.

He said that this decision had forced temple committees to incur extra expenditure and created problems when conducting daily prayers without a trained priest from India.

He was speaking to reporters after meeting the temple committee of Sri Ramar temple, one of the temples being managed by the Hindu Endowment Board, at the temple premises yesterday.

Malaysia Sun

mi1: Marginalisation and discrimination on Indians continuous in Malaysia.

Second plea filed for Hindraf leaders' release in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, May 31 : DAP (Democratic Action Party) chairman and veteran lawyer Karpal Singh has filed a fresh application before a High Court in Malaysia for the release of the five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders.

He said that Malaysian King Yang di-Pertuan Agong's decision to extend their detention under the Internal Security Act was "procedurally fatally flawed".

"I am not challenging the King personally. I'm challenging his decision which was based on the recommendations of the Advisory Board," the News Straits Times quoted Singh as telling reporters after filing the fresh plea.

In the joint affidavit, Karpal submitted that the King's decision on March 26 was null and void as the Board did not have the trappings of a judicial enquiry required by law as it only heard evidence from the five detainees but neither cross-examined them nor called the investigating officer to give evidence.

The Board had rejected Karpal's earlier application to call the investigating officer to give evidence. It also refused to supply the notes of proceedings.

The five Hindraf leaders detained are lawyers R. Kengadharan, 41, M. Manoharan, 47, V. Ganabatirau, 35, P. Uthayakumar, 47, and Hindraf co-ordinator K. Vasantha Kumar, 35.

Malaysia Sun

Curbs on Tamil TV shows, Hindu priests in Malaysia

Malaysia's Information Ministry has decided to ban screening of Tamil dramas imported from India and shown on its TV2 channel.

Former minister and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president S. Samy Vellu said that the decision to ban such dramas was surprising as India was the only country that produced Tamil dramas for Malaysian viewers, Malaysia Namban newspaper said.

Vellu said that the MIC secretary general and Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam had raised the matter at this week's cabinet meeting.

Tamil programmes are popular among the 2.6 million Malaysian Indians, a bulk of whom are Tamil settlers.

The government has yet to lift curbs on getting priests and musicians for Hindu shrines who come from India.

Although the cabinet approved the entry of the foreign priests from India, the immigration department had yet to get the official green light, according to Penang state's Hindu Endowment Board chief A. Thanashekaran.

He said the new applications for priests and temple musicians from India had been rejected by the immigration department, Tamil daily Makkal Osai reported.

Previously, the visas for the temple priests and temple musicians were extended for another one year at RM50 ($15 approx.) when their current visa period expired.

Their visas are only being extended on a month-to-month basis at the same cost.

He said that this decision had forced temple committees to incur extra expenditure and created problems when conducting daily prayers without a trained priest from India.

The Malaysian government says there is a single policy for priests that covers all religions, including Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians.

Representatives of the Sikhs and the Hindus have urged the government to relax curbs arguing that it is difficult to find priests and temple musicians locally because of the low salaries and years of training involved.

Malaysia Sun

mi1: Barisan Nasional have not learnt their lesson yet, they still continue to discriminate Indians in Malaysia. Ask them to BAN programmes from Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Arab, USA and other countries!!!

Indians - Please BOYCOTT ALL TV stations in Malaysia, TV1, TV2, TV3. NTV7, TV8, TV9. Dont buy any goods advertised in these TV's. Teach BN and media prima a lesson they will never forget!!!


Head of State Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal
Head of government Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Death penalty retentionist
Population 26.2 million
Life expectancy 73.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 12/10 per 1,000
Adult literacy 88.7 per cent

At least 10 people died in police custody in 2007. Despite continuing reports of such deaths and of excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrations, the Malaysian government failed to implement key recommendations for police reform. Scores of people were detained without trial under various emergency laws. Restrictions on freedom of religion continued. Grievances felt by many among the ethnic Indian Malaysian minority community, including discrimination and economic marginalization, were aggravated by the destruction of reportedly unauthorized Hindu temples. Mandatory death sentences continued to be issued. Refugees and migrant workers were arbitrarily detained and assaulted during immigration raids.

Police reform
A Bill to establish a Special Complaints Commission (SCC) to monitor and investigate complaints of misconduct by police and other law enforcement officers was introduced. The Bill prompted concerns that the recommendations of a 2005 Royal Commission of Inquiry were not adequately reflected, particularly as regards the proposed SCC’s independence and investigative powers. Not only did the Bill grant the Prime Minister broad powers to appoint and dismiss Commissioners, but it also included the Inspector-General of Police as a permanent SCC member. The SCC also did not have the power to oversee police investigation of complaints.

The Criminal Procedure Code was amended to provide increased protection to people under arrest. It required the police to inform detainees arrested without a warrant of the circumstances of their arrest and, in most cases, to allow detainees to contact a family member or a lawyer.

Deaths in custody and excessive use of force
At least 10 people died in custody in 2007 including at least two reported suicides, and police reportedly continued to use excessive force on peaceful demonstrators.

On 10 and 25 November, police sprayed peaceful protesters with tear gas and irritant-laced water cannons during two mass demonstrations, the first calling for free and fair elections and the second highlighting the discrimination and other grievances felt by ethnic Indian Malaysians.
Detention without trial
The use or threatened use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) continued to be employed to suppress perceived critics of the government, with a specific threat to bloggers. Following the November demonstrations, the Prime Minister warned that the ISA could be used to prevent “illegal” protests. The ISA allows for detention without trial for up to two years, renewable indefinitely.

At least 83 people were detained under the ISA.
Most were alleged members of Islamist groups, including Jemaah Islamiah. At least four suspected Jemaah Islamiah members were arrested in 2007, and at least 16 were released during the year, having all been detained for over four years. Many were given restricted residence orders.

Others arrested under the ISA included five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force, a group campaigning for the rights of ethnic Indian Malaysians, who were sent directly to Kamunting Detention Camp. Five others, arrested for allegedly spreading rumours of racial riots, were subsequently released.

In October 2007, Abdul Malek Hussain, an ex-ISA detainee, was awarded damages of 2.5 million ringgit (approximately US$746,000). The judge ruled that he was unlawfully detained in 1998 and that he had been assaulted and tortured in custody.

Suspected criminals continued to be detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act (DDA). Under both, suspects could be detained for up to 60 days for investigation after which a two-year detention order, renewable indefinitely, could be applied. Between January and August, 550 people were detained under the DDA. Both the EO and the DDA put suspects at risk of arbitrary detention and torture or other ill-treatment.

Migrant workers, refugees and asylum-seekers
Mass arrests of migrant workers, refugees and asylum-seekers by the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) continued. According to a government news agency, 24,770 migrants had been detained by Rela as of August 2007. Rela officials continued to be accused of using excessive force and arbitrary detention when conducting raids.

Migrant workers were also subjected to psychological and physical abuse by agencies and employers. They were often denied equal access to benefits and protections guaranteed to Malaysian workers, including maternity provisions, limits on working hours and holidays.

Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments
Caning continued to be used for many offences, including immigration offences. Irregular migrants (those lacking proper documentation) and refugees were reported to have received canings.

Death penalty
In March, the government passed amendments to the Penal Code introducing mandatory death sentences for acts of terrorism that result in death. Anyone found guilty of providing funds for terrorist acts that result in death would also receive a mandatory death sentence. Death sentences continued to be passed during 2007, with mandatory death sentences for drugs trafficking. The authorities did not disclose details of executions.

Freedom of expression
On 13 July, People’s Justice party staff member and internet blogger Nathanial Tan was arrested at his office and detained under the Official Secrets Act. He was arrested on suspicion of having access to state secrets, namely official documents relating to corruption allegations, posted on his blog.
Freedom of religion
Restrictions on the right to religious freedom remained. People wishing to convert out of Islam continued to face barriers to having their conversion recognized by the civil courts.

In January, Revathi, a Muslim by birth, was detained at the Malacca Syariah High Court while applying to have her religious status recognized as Hindu. She was taken to a religious rehabilitation camp in Selangor and held there for six months. In March, the Islamic authorities removed Revathi’s daughter from her husband, and placed her in the custody of Revathi’s Muslim mother.

A temple was destroyed in Shah Alam in November, on the eve of the Hindu festival Deepavali. Several people were injured and 14 were arrested as devotees tried to stop the demolition. Other reportedly unauthorized Hindu temples were demolished to make way for development projects in 2007 despite petitions by local Hindu communities.
Rights of transsexuals

On 30 July, Ayu, a transsexual, was seriously beaten by officials from the Melaka Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAIM). They reportedly punched and kicked her, rupturing a pre-existing hernia. A JAIM official stated that Ayu was detained for committing the “offence” of “men dressing as women in a public space”, which is punishable by a fine of 1,000 ringgit (US$300), a six-month prison sentence or both under the Melak Syariah Offences Act.

Badawi wants Malaysian cinema to rival Bollywood

Malaysian Prime Minister Adullah Ahmad Badawi wants his country's cinema to rival Bollywood, the Mumbai-based Indian film industry, since he feels his nation has all the cultural diversity and richness India offers in its movies.

'I believe that if the development of the arts in this country is well guided, it will prosper ... perhaps this country's performing arts can even be better than India and its Bollywood. If there is a will, there is a way. It all depends on whether you really want it,' he told the 4,000 artistes attending the first National Artistes Day programme here Thursday.

May 29, being death anniversary of legendary Malaysian artiste and dancer P. Ramlee, would henceforth be observed as National Artistes Day annually, The Star reported Friday.

'The government will continue to support, guide and encourage the industry to succeed,' the prime minister said, adding that the private sector could also work closely with the industry.

Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Mohamad Shafie Apdal said Hollywood generates billions of dollars from blockbuster films every year while Bollywood films are watched by 11 million people daily.

In contrast, the Malaysian film industry only began showing healthy changes from 2000 when the number of films made annually was 23, the New Straits Times quoted him as saying.

The gross collection had increased from 26.71 million ringgit ($8.5 million) three years ago to 29.62 million ringgit ($9.3 million) in 2006, the minister said.

Malaysia has a small film industry that dates back to the 1930s and has strong connections with India.

The industry produces 300 to 400 television dramas and serials a year. Malaysia also holds its own annual film festival. There are 250 cinema halls across the country.

Malaysian cinema began in 1933 with 'Laila Majnu', based on a classical Persian story of two ill-fated lovers. It was directed by an Indian, B.S. Rajhans, and produced by the Singapore-based Motilal Chemical Company of Bombay (now Mumbai). The cast was derived from a local opera group.

Most of the early films carried plenty of singing and dancing scenes, a trend introduced by the Indian film directors. After Rajhans, the Shaw Brothers imported many other Indian film directors, among them S. Ramanathan and Phani Majumdar.

Some local film directors such as Indian origin L. Krishnan and K.M. Bashker learned the trade and techniques through experience and apprenticeship. By the 1960s, many of the expatriates were replaced by local directors.

Tamil films from Chennai are a regular fare in Malaysian theatres since the country has over two million Tamils.

Hindi films are also popular, among the recent releases here being 'Jodha Akbar' and Amitabh Bachchan-Shah Rukh Khan starrer 'Bhootnath'.

mi1: In Malaysia, Malay films, dramas are only watched by Malays and non Malays feels that it is odd to watch these fils or drams since they have been watching Chinese, Hindi movies with better acting quality as there is no acting quality and skill in malay films or dramas. Plase do some survey in Malaysia regarding non malays watching malay movies or dramas. TV1, TV2, TV3, NTV7, TV8 and TV9 are airing dramas and malay films daily, but what is the percentage that watching these movies or dramas. Perhaps these stations are aiming for village folks as the quality of dramas in Malaysia is such as they can only be viewed by malays in remote areas.

No more visas-on-arrival for Indians in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, May 30 : Tourists arriving from India and Bangladesh will no more be given visas-on-arrival in Malaysia (VOA) and they must must have a two-week social visit pass and a return ticket if they wish to visit the country.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the proposed new ruling was part of measures taken to overcome the problem of illegal immigrants.

"The social visit pass replaces the VOA which was discontinued in April," he said during his winding-up of the debate on the King's Royal Address on Thursday.

Under the VOA, 208,451 tourists were allowed in from January till March this year. The social visit pass must be obtained at the tourists' home country.

There are 2.1 million foreign workers in the country, of which 1.1 million are from Indonesia, 330,000 from Bangladesh, 260,000 Nepalese and 140,000 Indians.

Syed Hamid said although foreign workers had contributed tremendously to the economy, they were also the cause of social ills, illegal squatters and diseases such as tuberculosis.

He also said that the Internal Security Act (ISA) would not be abolished nor will the 70 detainees be taken to court.

"The detainees will only be released based on the advice of a committee and with the consent of the minister and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," the NST online quoted Hamid, as saying.

Malaysia Sun

Malaysia and South Africa, In Denial?

Before the granting of full rights to black South Africans in the early 1990s, football was a sport for blacks, and rugby a sport for whites. The divisions persist to the present day; the South African rugby team has only three blacks on it.

However, the last time South Africa won the World Cup, it was hailed as an immense triumph not for white South Africans or black South Africans, but for all citizens.

South Africa is a favourite point of comparison for critiques of Malaysian ethnic policies; Malaysia's division of its people into de facto first and second class citizens is often compared to apartheid. I think that's a reasonable comparison to make.

Of course, there are a lot of people who would beg to differ. Most Malaysians accept that different races are just different; to them, as long as everyone minds their own business, it doesn't matter that we aren't united. What really makes Malaysia unique as a nation is how its different people are united solely by their belief that they should be divided.

Every race demands the right to be special; every race wants special treatment. Everyone wants to be Malay, Chinese and Indian; they are interested in being Malaysian only insofar that it assists them in constructing their own separate identities.

If we truly are not like apartheid South Africa, I wonder, why is it that we are so much worse than post-apartheid South Africa? Although like any heterogenous country, they have their ethnic tensions and ethnic problems, South Africa's government and their people largely recognise that they are not primarily black or white; they are South African.

In Malaysia's case, we seem only interested in perpetuating our ethnic differences. They say that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. South Africa admitted it had a problem 13 years ago. Malaysia continues to deny that there is any problem at all with treating its people differently.

Why am I intrinsically less Malaysian than someone else? Why is this not my country as well? Too many Malays say I don't appreciate what they give me; too many Chinese and Indians share this opinion. But what we fail to grasp is that what we have is not the Malays' to give.

Of course, you can make the case that 50 years ago, the Malays consciously granted a substantial number of non-Malays citizenship. Maybe you can hold that against those non-Malays, such as my grandparents.

But why hold any of this against me? Why am I not entitled to the same rights as a citizen, the same recognition and acknowledgement of my worth as a Malay Malaysian? Because I happened to be born into the wrong family?

We often wonder why Malaysians migrate; we often wonder why we lack patriotic sentiment. Not too long ago, it was announced that 70% of those who renounced their citizenship in the past decade were Malay.

OF course, the primary reason is economic; nobody cares if they don't have legal rights if they're rolling in money. A million dollars can buy you any of the rights you want. But at the same time, these Malaysians who leave, these Malaysians who don't have any significant passion for their country (and this includes the Malays) have recognised that our country has a problem. There is something innately wrong with declaring your citizens to be of different standing based on an accident of birth.

South Africa has recognised her problem; Malaysia continues to deny it, as epitomised by our Foreign Minister's recent scandalous remarks. Until we admit that we have a problem, we really are little better than apartheid-era South Africa.

Infernal Ramblings

Ketuanan Melayu is Unconstitutional

Over the years, I have been continually surprised at the incredible number of misconceptions about our Federal Constitution. It is one thing for an uneducated working class labourer or farmer not to know about the Constitution; it is a completely different thing for educated middle class bourgeouisie with internet access to be ignorant of what the Constitution says.

Yet, some of the oddest misunderstandings about the Constitution can be found lying around on the internet. Some, like the extremely illogical interpretation of Article 11 which suggests that Muslims cannot convert out of Islam are at least based on a brief reading of the Constitution.

But other misconceptions are intolerably based solely on ignorance of what the Constitution actually says. One such misconception is that the Prime Minister must be Malay, Bumiputra or Muslim — in reality, the Constitution is silent on what community the Prime Minister should be from, allowing almost any adult Malaysian citizen to become Prime Minister.

One of the most insidious misunderstandings of the Constitution actually stems from lies and propaganda. Contrary to what the Barisan Nasional regime would have you think, there is no reference to a "social contract" in the Constitution.

Indeed, not a single time in the Constitution is the phrase used, nor at any time is there an implication that certain bargains were made between different ethnic communities prior to independence, and that these bargains are enshrined in the Constitution. Peruse the whole document; you won't find any such thing there.

The closest thing you will get to such a thing is the entrenchment of certain provisions normally considered part of the social contract, e.g. the status of Malay as the national language, Islam as the official religion, the status of the Malay rulers, the "special position" of the Bumiputra, and the citizenship of all Malaysians. (And this entrenchment is not even part of the original social contract, having been inserted after the 13 May 1969 racial riots.)

But nowhere is it said that the enforcement of one of these things relies on the enforcement of another. It would be as possible for the government to revoke the citizenship of all non-Bumiputra as it is for the government to make Taoism the official religion, Swahili the official language, or convert the country into a republic — the process for amending any of these provisions is exactly the same. If there was a bargain at all, the terms of the bargain don't seem to be in force now — and that is why the social contract is a lie.

But one of the truly most perfidious falsehoods ever inflicted on the Malaysian people is the idea that one race is supreme over the other — ketuanan Melayu — and that this is upheld by the Constitution. Nothing is further from the truth.

Examine the citizenship provisions carefully. Nowhere is it stated that the Malays or Bumiputra are to hold one class of citizenship, and the non-Malays or non-Bumiputra to be given second-class treatment. The implication is that all Malaysian citizens are equal.

Any unequal treatment must be in line with existing provisions in the Constitution, the most notorious being Article 153. But as was noted when UMNO leaders threatened to abrogate the Constitution in 2006 by Azmi Sharom, this says nothing about "special rights" for the Malays or Bumiputra. It only refers to a "special position" — and what this "special position" is is left unsaid.

Is it reasonable to interpret this as establishing the Bumiputra as the tuan of the country? Unless you're a deranged ethnic chauvinist, I don't think so — this can hardly be so when Article 153 states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is supposed to protect the Bumiputra because of their "special position", and look after the legitimate interests of the non-Bumiputra communities.

To find out what this means exactly, we need look no further than the report of the Reid Commission, which found that Article 153 was necessary not to establish Malay supremacy or ketuanan Melayu but to uplift the economically disadvantaged Malay community, without harming the interests of other Malaysians. (This is why the universities were forced to open their matriculation programmes to non-Bumiputras — Article 153 explicitly bans such blatant apartheid.)

Depending on how you read it, the "special position" of the Bumiputra can be their economically fragile status, which makes them especially worthwhile of attention and protection so they can be uplifted to a point where they are able to compete with other Malaysians on a level playing field.

Alternatively, you can read it as insisting that because the Bumiputra are the indigenous peoples of Malaysia (please, let's just take this as a given for now, since hashing out a debate about the migration of Malays from Sumatera would take us on a severely long tangent) and that because of this "special position", they should be given special attention as regards to their economic status — it is not good, after all, to see the original inhabitants of the country suffer economically while the rest of the country leaves them behind.

In the end, it does not matter what interpretation you take. The important thing is, Article 153 does not establish any form of Malay supremacy or ketuanan Melayu. It specifically gives the Yang di-Pertuan Agong the responsibility of protecting the interests of the Bumiputra community due to their "special position", but it also holds him responsible for protecting the legitimate interests of the non-Bumiputra communities.

(And as a side-note, the word "Bumiputra" is not found at all in the Constitution. I am merely using it as shorthand for "Malays and indigenous people of East Malaysia", which is roughly what the real text of the Constitution says.)

The whole point of the Constitution, including (especially?) Article 153, is to ensure all Malaysians have an equal chance and opportunity to be the best they can be. There is no ketuanan, no supremacy. Only justice and equality — which unfortunately is a far cry from what we have today, thanks to our wonderful lying Barisan Nasional government.

Infernal Ramblings

Why Are Non-Malays Citizens?

In all this hubbub about the social contract, and the subject of non-Malays being granted citizenship at independence, we seem to have forgotten that yes, non-Malays actually are citizens.

The question is, why? It's always good to reflect a little, not only on our past, but on how our present would differ if the past had turned out differently.

What would Malaysia be like today if non-Malays had not been granted citizenship at independence? Would this have created a real, united nation-state?

Unity amongst the Malay citizens of the Malay state, maybe. But with almost half the population denied citizenship, denied representation, how could this state call itself a civilised, humane state?

The fact is, there was no way that citizenship could have been denied to half the population. To argue that we should not have granted the non-Malays citizenship is basically tantamount to arguing that we should have deported the non-Malays altogether.

This, of course, would place us in quite good company. After all, Uganda and Zimbabwe did a pretty good job of deporting their ethnic minorities to their ostensible homelands.

In all seriousness, unless we like looking as if we are total imbeciles, there was no real way we could have denied the non-Malays citizenship in the country where they intended and still intend to reside in permanently.

And yet, why is it that every time the non-Malays bring up a political issue, Malay leaders are so quick, so eager, to treat their citizenship as if it is worthless?

After all, Badruddin Amiruldin, the Permanent Chairman of UMNO, had no qualms about telling Lim Kit Siang when he raised the subject of an Islamic state in Parliament some years back to leave the country if he didn't like things.

Is this any way to treat a citizen of our country? Would Badruddin have done this to a liberal Malay who said exactly the same things Lim did? Why are we so respectful of the basic rights of a citizen when that citizen is Malay, and yet so disdainful of those same rights when that citizen is not a Malay?

Likewise, we see our leaders all too eager to tell Chinese and Indian Malaysians things like "balik tongsan" or "go to Singapore" if they have any complaints about their country. As far back as the 1980s, our wakil rakyat went on the record in Parliament to denounce almost half of all Malaysian citizens as "kaum pendatang" and "pendatang asing", as if that somehow degrades their citizenship to the point it means nothing.

When you are the citizen of a country, it means something. It means that country is your homeland, the place you belong. You always have a place in the country you are a citizen of.

You may be maligned, you may be mistreated, but ultimately, you can't be deported. You can't be exiled. You need to be stripped of your citizenship first. Even the apartheid state of South Africa recognised this; even the pre-civil rights era United States only sent back its second-class black citizens to Africa on a voluntary basis.

We like to pride ourselves on not being anything like apartheid South Africa. One of Tunku Abdul Rahman's proudest accomplishments was getting the Commonwealth to sanction South Africa for its horrid discriminatory policies.

And yet, why is it that we so easily slip into the role of being far worse than South Africa? Why is it that our elected representatives — from mainstream parties in the ruling regime, mind you — so eagerly consider Malaysian citizens migrants who can be casually told to hit the road back to their supposed homeland — a homeland they have abandoned generations ago for this country?

You may argue that there are certain "sensitive issues" (a handy catchphrase for quelling all dissent, justified or otherwise) which the non-Malays should never deign to question or discuss, lest they risk their citizenship being stripped.

But let us look at the Federal Constitution. What does it say? At the time of independence in 1957, it made no mention of some binding "contract" explicitly granting citizenship to non-Malays in return for something else. All provisions of the Constitution were treated as equally binding and at the same time equally malleable through the usual process of constitutional amendments.

After the May 13 incident, then yes, certain provisions we may think of as the "social contract" were singled out to be entrenched in the Constitution.

But the special amendment process singled out for these amendments does not say "if you renegotiate this provision, then all other provisions must likewise be renegotiated". If we remove non-Malays' right to citizenship, we do not have to remove special rights for the bumiputra or renounce Islam as the country's official religion. Likewise, if we remove special rights for the bumiputra as a permanent fixture, we need not remove the other portions of the supposed social contract. It is not by any means a "take it or leave it" deal.

Also bear in mind that the Constitution does not protect the New Economic Policy, or any affirmative action policies beyond those explicitly spelled out in the Constitution itself, most of which are relatively benign, such as special quotas and preferences for the bumiputra in education and the civil service.

Neither is Malay supremacy enshrined by the Federal Constitution. The Constitution states that the bumiputra are in a "special position", but fails to elaborate on what that position is. At no point does it indicate that this means that the Malays have the right to unilaterally deprive non-Malays of their fundamental rights as citizens.

In other words, a lot of criticism taken as offensive to the point of demanding the stripping of citizenship and/or deportation, such as criticism of the New Economic Policy or of the ketuanan Melayu ideology, is perfectly fair and permitted under the Federal Constitution.

The leaders in the ruling regime have made no secret of their distaste for criticism of the New Economic Policy or of Malay political hegemony. They brandish their weapons; they wonder when they can use them. On live television in 2006, one UMNO leader proclaimed: "If [the non-Malays] question our rights, then we should question theirs. So far we have not heard the Malays questioning their right to citizenship when they came in droves from other countries."

If the Malays require assistance to prepare themselves to compete, to gird themselves for the brutal battles of the modern economy, as a fellow Malaysian, I would be the first to offer my aid. My belief is that the spirit of the NEP was and is perfectly justified — we must have equality of opportunity for all Malaysians. As long as who your parents are determines what your future will look like, we cannot say we are an equitable, just or fair society — nor can we say we are efficient, in light of the human potential being wasted.

No Malaysian could possibly begrudge a fellow Malaysian the help they need. But what pains almost half of all Malaysians, what alienates them, is the fact that they are told they are not Malaysian. If they are Malaysian at all, that is a status which can be revoked at any time. Even if they want to make this country their home, they are told they are "kaum pendatang" which cannot be welcomed.

Why did we give the non-Malays citizenship? Was it just for show so we could pretend we are a decent country, when beneath the surface, we seek nothing more than the ability to lord it over a supposed immigrant populace which has long since made this country their one and only home? Let's be honest with ourselves. Are the non-Malays citizens, or are they just permanent residents who can be deported at the government's behest? Who does this country belong to — all the citizens of Malaysia, or just citizens of one race?

Infernal Ramblings

BENAR for a Free and Fair Media 01/06/08

Dare to be FreeHome About BENAR Button, Programme & Map (updated)

This is the Button commemorating the Walk for Media Freedom on 1st June 2008. Since we are operating without any sponsorship, we need your help to defray the cost of these buttons as well as other expenses incurred to organize this event. It will therefore be highly appreciated if you will kindly make a small donation for this button.

Due to budget constraints, we have ordered only 500 pieces of this button and they will be made available on a first come first served basis.

The program for the morning is as follows…
9 – 9:45am Walkers arrive individually at the National Flag at Dataran Merdeka, show their respect, and then proceed immediately to the National Press Club. Please DO NOT gather anywhere at the Dataran. If there are any blockades, simply avoid those and find another route to the NPC. No confrontation and no heroics please.
10:00 am Welcoming address by the organisers
10:15 am Keynote address by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim
10:45am Sharing by participants followed by Q&A
11:30am Reading of the 1st June Statement
11:40am Re-reading of the 3rd May Memorandum
11:50am Launch of the signature campaign endorsing the 3rd May Memorandum
12:00 noon Resolution on Media Freedom

Ezam Turns Out To Be "A Rose Has Many Thorns"

"Ezam to make a timely move back to Umno". Malaysians absolutely shocked, but not to be surprised as the signs of Ezam's intention long before this had happened. Plans and intention of Ezam Mat Nor was there long before. He was waiting for UMNO to offer him a seat during March election but the offer never came through. If the offer was solid, Ezam would've jump to UMNO a long time ago.

As for his so call fallout with Anwar and Azmin and his so call power struggle, the power struggle is nothing more than Ezam trying to destabilize the PKR.

Ezam has been playing for the other side a long time ago. He was trying to show his worth to UMNO by giving Anwar and the PKR a hard time. Ezam didn't want to contest for PAS or DAP in the last election because he's never interested to remain with the Opposition. He was really interested in joining UMNO and contesting for UMNO. But, Ezam never got the final green light from UMNO leadership so he could not contest.

If Ezam is really true to his principle, he could join the other opposition parties like PAS or DAP. Or he could just retire from politics like the various PKR leaders whom have dissapeared from public life i.e. Zainur Zakaria etc.

But, Ezam's move is hypocrisy of the highest order. He has said and call for so much reforms for UMNO or the Government. Yet, none of his call for reforms have been implemented by the Pak Lah regime.

In fact, whatever corruption or abuse done by Dr.Mahathir has ben compounded and exploited by the people surrounding Pak Lah. Therefore, what is Ezam's justification for joining UMNO?

Does he think that he is big enough to reform UMNO? Does he think he can make a big difference in UMNO that UMNO will fall to his feet and change accordingly. Does he seriously think that he can rid of all the UMNO rent-seekers that currently plauging UMNO?

Will Ezam be able to influence PAk LAh to overturn all of the Draconian laws currently being enjoyed by the Pak Lah regime?

Ezam joining UMNO is only for his own personal interest. He has a personal agenda that he wants to implement and that he wants only to achieve his own personal glory.

Ezam's supporters whom had followed him to join GERAK. People like SD Johari, Zukri Akasyah etc. They really believed in Ezam and they were willing to go high and low with Ezam. Now, it seems that all their sacrifice is wasted. They have been banking with the wrong man. Their sacrifice is for nothing.

There are also Ezam men, like Hanafiah Man, Zahid Mat Arif, Hamdan Taha and many more whom have joined UMNO long before. These people were sent into UMNO by Ezam to facilitate Ezam's entry into UMNO.

Many people are unaware that when Ezam was the Youth Head of PKR, he was a dictator. Many a times he makes big decisions without referring to the Youth committee. People like Mustafa Kamil Ayub and Samsul Iskandar Mat Akin can testify to Ezam's style of leadership. In fact, Azmin Ali is more democratic than Ezam Mat Nor.

Therefore, when Anwar Ibrahim refuse to follow his wishes, Ezam becomes agitated and responded by leaving the party. Not only that, he then tried to weaken and destabilize PKR so as to raise his value in the eyes of UMNO.

In fact, PKR is lucky to have themselves rid off Ezam Mat Nor completely. He is nothing but a cancerous cell in the entire PKR body. PKR should rejoice his departure to UMNO. Let all the bad elements join UMNO.

It's actually not a surprise that some former ISA detainees will then serve as agents and moles to UMNO/BN. It has happened before.

It is also strange that Ezam chose such a time to join UMNO. A time when the party is split and in complete strive. Ezam entry is meant to shore up the Pak Lah regime. He's been called up by the Pak lah team to project an image of strength and intelligence. The reward waiting for Ezam is handsome. He might be made a Senator and at least a Deputy Minister. If he plays his cards right, he'll can also make a full fledge Minister.

His domain will be the entire Selangor. In other words, he will be put in the position of recapturing Selangor from PKR. He will take Khir Toyo's place for good.

History will show that Ezam is nothing more than a black spot. Malaysia in the future will look back and look on to Ezam Mat Nor as nothing more then a "A Rose Has Many Thorns"

What will happen ?

What will happen to the country? Everyone is now talking about Dr Mahathir and his latest move, quitting rom UMNO.

Dr Mahathir’s latest move will of course distract the attention from the Royal Commission report on Lingam. That maybe the triggering factor but I do not think that that is the main reason for his latest move.

Many people are saying that by quitting, Dr M hopes that some UMNO MPs may follow and that would cause instability in BN government , with so much talks about Sabah MPs quittng and forming a new paty to join Pakatan. If a group of UMNO MPs quit, then it would be the catalyst for Sabahan MPs to leave BN and join Pakatan, and the beneficiary will be ironically be Dr M’s nemesis, Anwar.

BUt personally I do not think that any MPs from UMNO will follow Mahathir, not even his own son Mukhriz. Some of the veterans (meaning those toothless former UMNO leaders) may quit, like Sanusi.

SO why do Mahathir still do this?
I think that he is hoping that many grassroots who are not happy about the present leadership in UMNO will quit. And if this group is sizeable enough, it may put pressure on Pak Lah to step down earlier than he has planned. Because if grassroots leave in droves, the party will be weakened, and no powerbrokers would like to see an UMNO with a weakened base. They will be forced to persuade Pak Lah to bring forward his succession plan. There might even be an EGM for UMNO delegates, if enough grassroot members leave.

But UMNO grassroot members are known to be fiercely loyal. In the past, after Onn Jaffar resigned from UMNO, UMNO did not sink. Instead Onn Jaffar became a spent force and irrelevant in Malayan politics .

I think this time the same thing will happen. SOme grassroots may leave but not enough to cause a big earthquake. Pak Lah will be weakened further but he will still hold on to power.

The danger is of course Dr Mahathir will try to fan racial sentiments again, like after 1969. He is a good orator and writer, and I am afraid his words may stir up racial sentiments again, which is bad for the country. If he does that, UMNO will be forced to become more radical, and that would put MCA. MIC, Gerakan in a spot. If things come to that, either these parties will quit BN, or if they choose to remain, many MPs from these parties may jump ship and cross over to Pakatan. That would again cause the collapse of Pak Lah’s govenrment , and a new fresh election might be called; an election, I am afraid will be fought very viciously and racial card may be used again.

Will things come to that? Let us just keep our fingers crossed

Dr Hsu

The Wedding shoot - China Earthquake

At the famous 100-year-old Church of the Annunciation in Pengzhou , China . Very early morning May 12, photographer Wang went about preparing to shoot wedding pictures for a young couple, this was the test shot before the shoot...
And then it happened.... the earth quake! 7.8 on the Richter scale.
Bricks fall from the building during the earthquake, which turned Wang from a wedding photographer into a journalist.
'Thank God we were only shooting from outside the church!' remarked a helper.
The stunned couple huddles together at the church ground during initial tremors. 'I shouted to people, 'Run! Run!'' said photographer Wang Qiang. 'The ground shook and we couldn't see anything in the dust.' As the dust began to clear, the true extent of damage was only beginning to appear...
A cracked facade was all that remained of the 100-year-old Church of the Annunciation after the quake. Most of the church 'collapsed in 10 seconds,' said Wang, who lives in Chengdu , capital of hard-hit Sichuan province.
Soon after the quake, the people at the seminary set out for a nearby village, but residents warned them the route was blocked. 'We could still hear landslides,' Wang wrote in an online account of the disaster. So they stayed overnight in a tent and made it to the village the next day, thanks to help from a truck driver.

Soon after the quake, the people at the seminary set out for a nearby village, but residents warned them the route was blocked. 'We could still hear landslides,' Wang wrote in an online account of the disaster. So they stayed overnight in a tent and made it to the village the next day, thanks to help from a truck driver.

A scarf from a wedding dress lies forgotten in front of the seminary. Wang said he thought the catastrophe would strengthen the bonds of the couples who were there that day: 'Having gone through a life-and-death test, they surely will clasp hands and grow old together.' No one was harmed at the above location.

DEWAN DISPATCHES: Are those the ghosts of Dr Mahathir & Anwar in Parliament?


After 16 torrid days and at the conclusion of its First Meeting of the First Session of 12th Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat quivered, rocked and steadied as never before. Its dominion is now brimming with a new look and outlook, festering with verve and panache as MPs exchanged barbs and insults, animalistic epithets, porky abbreviations and incendiary ideas, some over the top and some intellectually stimulating while preserving their lustre, cool and sanity.

Democracy, while sagging on the streets under the weight of public expectations, is cooking like a simmering steamboat of exotic stew inside the House, thanks to the infusion of new blood in both BN backbenchers and Opposition MPs, and a regeneration of venerable veterans and old guards, having had to put a long leash on the young Turks and zealous pretenders.

But has not the People’s Hall always been like that for decades, especially after every general election, you might beseech? Not quite and not like the one an enthralled public had been privileged to observe - hyperbole theatrics, kitschy showmanship, exasperating one-upmanship and yet deft manoeuvres, eloquent passion and depth of understanding. And it’s descriptive of both sides of the fragile political divide.

Some MPs dominated debates while a couple were simply a dominant presence, some were domineering but their bullying tactics quickly floundered, others hogged interjections on the excuse of seeking clarifications but ended up dishing mindless sermons, one MP refused to speak after the two-minute time limit imposed was deemed a grievous insult to his well-prepared thesis.

Other MPs relished the idea of hounding Ministers for the slightest slips and oversights, or hounding fellow hounders until the outcome degenerated into a freefall free-for-all that their cacophony of vocal embellishments equalled annoyingly to that of the din cackled by the thousands of crows at Bangsar’s Lucky Garden during dusk.

There were some who presented thoughtful oratorical essays that beg for canonisation for their sublime use of tone, pace, cogency and urgency. There were tricksters whose debating acumen were limited by their intellectual dwarfishness, constraining themselves to insolent one or two-letter fencing in trying to counteract the efficacy of sound and solid arguments.

Then there were the few, the rookies, who launched into the pit zealously, then forced to trammel their voice to the level of eagerness before switching to combativeness once their presence turned into transponders on slow days but lightning rods during electrifying moments. Then there are the handful who laboured to fine-tune their speech perfectly with the savvy amount of pertinently current issues, only to flame out after being unable to resist the temptation to plunge into low-rent name calling and scorn of merciless rivals that soon drowned their original motives.

When Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz quipped on the day he was made Cabinet Minister in charge of Parliamentary Affairs that the new Dewan Rakyat sitting is going to be “one hell of a Parliament with a bigger Opposition”, he could not have described it more presciently but certainly he may not have fully expected that with a new generation of Opposition MPs comes a new whim to destabilise the Barisan hegemony, especially its precarious 140-82 Lower House majority.

Now, in no particular order, the defining episodes that made the First Meeting of the First Session of 12th Parliament such a gregariously momentous outing:

Block voting rattles the House: Coming on suddenly yesterday, some would described it as cathartically democratic while others see it as a rude awakening for the slumbering BN MPs. Whatever it was, it shook the MPs into action never experienced before for most reps. An extraordinary demand for block voting to pass an innocuous Supplementary Supply Bill for funding against the routine ayes and nays was reluctantly approved by the Deputy Speaker. This is where MPs have to stand and be accounted for, one by one, in what may have been a devilishly delicious Pakatan Rakyat ruse to test the BN majority’s steadfastness. With a mix of alacrity and anxiety, MPs, especially from the BN, were hustled up from all corners to enter the House, from their cups of tea and snacks and even the senate meeting next door, to emphatically vote 92–60 to allow the bill to go through unblemished. Otherwise, many national sporting events would have been scuppered.

 Gale from the Land Below The Wind: The BN majority was garroted by threads of Sabah BN MPs “munificence”, using their perceived role as kingmakers to deliver subtle threats of defections while presenting a shopping list of projects and funding that should be handed out by the BN Government to compensate for the years of what the Sabahans hold as neglect and apathy. The Sabahans’ artifice, a fortuitous moment to strike the iron while it is hot, was launched by Datuk Anifah Aman (BN-Kimanis) days after the start of the meeting on April 30 and followed up by Datuk Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan), following the fervent speculation that now was the best prospect for the Pakatan Rakyat to strike at the Empire, especially when its ranks were deemed vulnerable. Depending on whom does the trash talk (it revolved around PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak), Pakatan Rakyat leaders kept digging at the vulnerability of the BN’s majority, bragging that they possessed the numbers that oscillated between 25 and 34 seats in the Opposition’s countenance. The BN scrambled to audit the numbers to counterclaim Anwar and Azmin’s trash talk though it was believed that other “sweet numbers” were tabled to appease the Sabahans whose strident voices amplified by the day. It also showed that the March 8 general election results were still political luggage that cannot be easily unloaded.

Is that Dr Mahathir’s apparition in the House?: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Ex BN-Kubang Pasu) was nowhere near Parliament House on May 20 but his presence haunted the House after he shockingly declared a day earlier that he was leaving Umno to protest alleged transgressions committed by the president and Prime Minister. Question after question, altercation after altercation and interjection after interjection, MPs did not utter a single peep on Dr Mahathir’s unbearable departure, so unsettled were they with the impingement of this one-man juggernaut on their political fortunes. Outside the House, Umno MPs quickly rallied behind Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after he summoned them for a closed-door meeting during House break to measure the cause and effect of Dr Mahathir’s undoing. His son, Mukhriz (BN-Jerlun), decided that staying put in Umno to do his father’s bidding was strategic but other Umno MPs and Ministers didn’t hold their breath to launch one stinging rebuke after another against their former mentor, slamming him as being disloyal and holding the party hostage.

Is that Anwar Ibrahim’s apparition in the House?: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (ex BN-Permatang Pauh) too was nowhere near Parliament House, just like his reviled former mentor, but his presence haunted the House after he declared (bragged was more like it) that he was able to pull a considerable number of BN MPs into Pakatan Rakyat and henceforth topple the BN Government. However, Anwar won’t “activate” his “sleepers”, the 25 to 34 BN MPs his people insisted were ready to jump ship. MPs – whether they liked it or not, or whether they realised it or not – debated under his invisible presence. Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) alluded to Anwar in his maiden speech though not in a flattering tone while Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) barbed that Anwar was involved in corrupt practices and instrumental in getting him sacked from Umno. Defending Anwar, Azmin Ali shot back, insinuating that Tajuddin spent RM6 million to get elected as an Umno division chairman. Tajuddin claimed he was maligned by Anwar, desperate to become Prime Minister, conspired with a Menteri Besar to victimise him. There is no escaping Anwar Ibrahim, still political guru of consolidation and re-invention, even when he was haunting Parliament House.

Enduring the deadly bite of Parliament’s Great White Shark: Was there a time that Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) didn’t institute a timorous effect on crucial House bills, motions, debates and interjections while firing away ripostes of facetious hyperbole? The way he scents blood from a “wounded” or unsuspecting Minister or MP with his bait-and-switch tactic to score big political points (and material for his incendiary blog) was a jolting reminder of that elongated elasmobranch marine fish, especially the ones “large, voracious and dangerous to humans”. His most derisive hyperbole yet? Bestowing Khairy Jamaluddin with the sobriquet “the world’s richest unemployed man” and taking on all menacing quarters while he thundered on the mismanagement/misappropriation of funds in the construction of the Port Klang Free Zone. Kit found it fit to infuriate Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia after the blog he authored severely criticised Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee for disallowing his motion to amend a motion of thanks for the royal address to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem, besides accusing Kiandee of violating parliamentary conventions, practices and precedents. The Speaker warned Kit to make corrections to his blog piece or face the Rights and Privileges Committee for possible disciplinary action but until now, the Shark remains defiant.

Is he really the Prince of Darkness?: Yes, if accounts in most blogs uncharitable and unflattering to Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) is thoroughly tabulated, just as he is perhaps the most maligned politician after Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim. However, Khairy arguably launched the most explosively puissant maiden speech in the House, remembered vividly for the diatribe he slapped on Anwar for the surreptitious misrepresentation of petrol prices Anwar supposedly checked when he was Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister. Khairy sealed further his reputation by coining the acronym Projek Khinzir Raksasa (Giant Pig Project) on two allusions: PKR the party for allowing a controversial Selangor pig farm project and Anwar’s pioneering of the word ‘khinzir’ in his speeches. The Prime Minister’s son-in-law took on all comers with the equivalent of Sid Pistol in his defiant and snarling punk days. As many as two dozen Opposition MPs, including Kit and Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor), tried to derail Khairy’s fusillades with missiles of Point of Orders, but the young man hung on to his message as he stubbornly refused to give way to all clarifications. His detractors, in and out of the House, are just waiting for him to make a slip while they sharpen their long knives, but for that one electrifying moment, a star was born.

In the Parliament House’s Neutral Zone, anything goes: The 80 x 20 metre long expanse called the Parliament lobby is a bubbling marketplace for democratic diversions, from ISA detainees’ wives holding court to activist groups reproaching MPs who dented their sensibilities. The Hindraf’s cause was celebrated in the form of a small birthday party for a detainee's daughter while 30 wheel-chaired persons chided and taunted Datuk Ibrahim Ali (IND) for his politically incorrect rejoinder of Karpal Singh’s (DAP-Bukit Jelutong) wheelchair incapacitation. Ibrahim refused to accede to the demand to apologise to Karpal and walked off in a hissy fit after the confrontation transformed into mob heckling. Most MPs are delighted with the lobby’s “Neutral Zone” porousness for democratic activism but Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia wasn’t amused with the liberal use (or misuse, in his mind) of the lobby for political gains, threatening to stop future “dalliances” by writing to all party leaders to curb members.

NST Online

Malaysia : Mortgaging freedom for security : Arbitrary detention of five HINDRAF leaders

Malaysia : Mortgaging freedom for security :

Arbitrary detention of five HINDRAF leaders

Kuala Lampur - Paris - Geneva, May 28, 2008. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, make public today the report of an international mission of judicial observation in Malaysia.

The mission, organised in close cooperation with SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia), was carried out in Kuala Lumpur by Ms. Laurie Berg, an Australian lawyer, from January 22to February 1, 2008. Indeed, from January 24 to 28, 2008, a hearing of the habeas corpus application of Messrs. P. Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kenghadharan and T .Vasanthakumar, five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), an NGO defending the rights of the Indian minority in Malaysia, took place.

The Observatory recalls that the five men are being arbitrarily detained since December 13, 2007, and that they have been arrested under Section 8 (1) of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows the person to be detained for any period not exceeding two years, in contradiction of international human rights standards

On February 26, 2008, the Kuala Lumpur High Court rejected their habeas corpus applications and upheld their detention under Malaysian law.

In Malaysia, human rights defenders operate within the context of national security laws and Government pressure which seriously impede their work and constantly threaten their physical integrity. Despite these disincentives for political activism, Malaysia nonetheless boasts a large number of courageous activists campaigning on a broad range of social justice and community-based issues.

The Observatory issues the following recommendations to the Malaysian authorities calling them in particular :

To repeal the ISA in its entirety. Indefinite detention without trial can never be in conformity with international human rights standards.

To immediately release all ISA detainees in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times. In particular, Messrs. P. Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, R. Kenghadharan, V. Ganabatirau and T. Vasanthakumar should be released immediately and unconditionally, as their detention is arbitrary.

To conform in all circumstances with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2.

More generally, to ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Malaysia.

Furthermore, the international community should address the situation of human rights defenders, in particular in the framework of the political dialogue between third States and Malaysia. The European Union should base such demarches on the EU Guidelines on human rights defenders of 2004. Member states of the UN Committee Against Terrorism and the human rights body to be established in the framework of the ASEAN should also address the issue of respect for human rights and their defenders in the framework of the fight against terrorism as a major concern.


Family Law Committee meets Pakatan Rakyat women MPs to tackle women issues

KUALA LUMPUR: Having not made much headway with the proposal presented to the AG Chambers in September 2005 to amend S95 of the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 extending the legal obligation of parents to maintain their children beyond the age of 18 years, it was a pleasant surprise when Bar Council was contacted by YB Chong Eng, MP from Bukit Mertajam for a meeting on 27th May 2008 to brief her team of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) women representatives on the proposal.

The Bar Council’s Family Law Committee (FLC) representatives, Foo Yet Ngo (FLC Deputy Chairman), Vigneswary Alakahone, Pushpa Ratnam, Sharmini Jayan and Sumitha (Executive Officer) met a sprightly group of Pakatan Rakyat women representatives, YB Chong Eng, YB Dr. Lo’Lo’ Mohd Ghazali (Titiwangsa MP), YB Hjh Fuziah Salleh (Kuantan MP), YB Nurul Izzah Anwar (Lembah Pantai MP), YB Teo Nie Ching (Serdang MP), YB Siti Zailah Muhd Yusoff (Rantau Panjang MP), YB Zuraida Kamarudin (Ampang MP), YB Senator Hjh Mumtaz Binti Md Nawi (Ahli Dewan Negara), Fahda Nur Ahmad Kamar (Advocates & Solicitors, Syariah Counsel, Exco Pendidikan Persatuan Peguam Syarie Malaysia) and Nurul Izzah Ab Halim (Special Officer of Kota Raja Community Service Centre) and others in the cosy Briefing Room on the 1st Floor of the Parliament Building at 1.00pm.

After a brief general chitchat, the meeting commenced with YB Chong Eng welcoming and thanking the FLC representatives for attending the meeting at such short notice. YB Chong Eng stated that the PR women representatives were in the midst of forming a caucus to deal with women, children and family issues and hence invited the FLC representatives to brief them on S95 of the 1976 Act to be the first issue taken up by the group.

Thanking them in return for their support and interest in the proposal, the FLC representatives presented an updated memorandum on the proposal to amend S95 of the 1976 Act to extend the legal obligation for parents to maintain the child beyond the age of 18 years, if a child intends to pursue further education or training for a trade, profession or vocation. The FLC representatives highlighted the shortcomings in the present provision, which terminates the obligation of a parent to maintain a child upon attainment by the child of the age of 18 years. The only exception to this i.e. when the obligation to maintain may be extended is when the child is under a physical or mental disability whereupon the obligation shall expire only upon the ceasing of the disability. The existing provisions saw several attempts by the Court of Appeal, using judicial innovation, to read into existing provisions and extend the obligation where the child is undergoing university or tertiary education on the basis that such involuntary financial dependence constitutes a disability within the section. These cases were dealt a resounding blow when the Federal Court in a recent case of Karunairajah (2006) held that the word disability in the section only covered physical and mental disabilities but not financial dependence. The Federal Court stated categorically that any extension of the legal obligation to maintain is a matter for the legislature.

In support of the proposed amendments, the FLC representatives pointed out that various other legislation e.g. S3 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961 states that the guardian is responsible for the support, health and education of the child until he/she reaches 21 and our income tax legislation allows a taxpayer to continue to claim relief (at a higher rate) for his/her child beyond 18 years of age pursuing tertiary education. The FLC representatives also drew upon similar provisions not only of other jurisdictions e.g. Singapore, Australia and United Kingdom all of which recognised parental obligations to children extend beyond them attaining 18 years if the children are pursuing tertiary or further education, but also our very own Malaysia’s Islamic Family Law Act which has the very provision itself.

The FLC representatives also stressed that the proposal to amend S95 of the 1976 Act was based on gender equality principals and thus applied equally to the mother and father. Although it was raised and acknowledged that enforcement of maintenance orders need to be looked into (the present provisions being highly ineffective), the FLC representatives felt that the amendment to S95 of the 1976 Act should be prioritised, as the right of a child to tertiary education is a necessity and not a luxury.

The PR women representatives gave an assurance that they would lobby for support and push for the amendments in the august House. The FLC and PR representatives would also work together to look into other areas of family matters. The meeting ended with the exchange of contact numbers, a photo session and coffee treat by YB Chong Eng at the posh coffee house on the ground floor.

Note: It was reported in The Star, 29th May 2008 that PR and BN women MPs have agreed to set up a non-partisan parliamentary women caucus to only focus on tackling women-related issues and the first issue the caucus would lobby was the amendment of laws relating to the maintenance of single mothers.

Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna
source: Malaysian Bar

Dr M: I’m out, he’s (Ezam) in

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was his usual sarcastic self when commenting on former PKR Youth leader Ezam Mohd Nor rejoining Umno.

“Saya keluar, dia masuk. Baguslah dia sayang Umno (I leave and he is back in. Good that he loves Umno),” he quipped.

The former premier and party president was asked to comment yesterday on Ezam's move to rejoin Umno this week although he had left the party to help set up what was then known as Parti Keadilan.

Ezam, who was once Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s political secretary, followed Anwar out of Umno in 1998 after the former deputy prime minister was sacked. He was also detained under the Internal Security Act for his role in the reformasi movement.

However, Ezam quit Keadilan last year after a fallout with Anwar and an internal power struggle with current PKR vice-president Azmin Ali.

He then set up Gerak, a non-governmental organisation fighting against corruption and upholding judicial independence.

Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters after autographing 100 copies of his book, Dr Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders. The autograph session was organised in conjunction with the international BookFest@Malaysia 2008 exhibition.

In his posting on his blog yesterday, Dr Mahathir thanked Umno members who asked him to return to the party, but reiterated that Umno was no longer what it used to be.

He claimed he was not treated as an Umno member since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the president and that party leaders were also not allowed to meet him or attend his functions.

“Even the Deputy Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) was not allowed to see me until I exposed this. Some Umno leaders even suggested expelling me from the party,” he added.

“The attitude and treatment towards me after I resigned, clearly shows that not only am I not an Umno member, but I am also Umno's enemy. My leaving Umno just 'officiates' my position as a non-member.”

Star Online

Bandar Mahkota Cheras dispute: Khalid brings down barricade

On-site visit: Khalid, accompanied by Selangor reps, being greeted by Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents during a visit to the site yesterday. Some 30 residents of Bandar Mahkota Cheras brought their case to Parliament, wielding banners urging the Works Minister to reopen the access road to the housing area.

KUALA LUMPUR: An enforced "truce" is in place between Grand Saga Sdn Bhd and Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents over free access to the Cheras-Kajang Highway.

One day after police urged Grand Saga not to put up barricade, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim summoned the Kajang Municipal Council to completely remove the remnants of the barricade.

Abdul Khalid, who visited the site yesterday, also urged Grand Saga and Bandar Mahkota Cheras developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd to solve the impasse, saying residents should not be victimised in their dispute.

Residents claimed they were promised free access to the highway by Narajaya but Grand Saga said they were never a party to such an arrangement. A court case is now pending.

Abdul Khalid said a letter had also been sent to Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed, requesting him to look into the problem.
"We hope all parties will be patient and try to solve the problem amicably.

"I don't want any trouble or fight over this issue."

Residents and Grand Saga have been engaged in a contest of wills as residents would remove the barricade only to see it replaced almost immediately.

On Tuesday, residents claimed they were assaulted by thugs while trying to remove the barricade.

Grand Saga has denied using thugs.

Meanwhile, Selangor MCA chief Datuk Ong Tee Keat said he has evidence that secret society members were involved in Tuesday's ruckus which ended up with five people injured.

He said he would provide the information to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan soon.

NST online

End to Cheras saga today?
KUALA LUMPUR: A solution is in sight to the Bandar Mahkota Cheras access road issue.

Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed is expected to visit the site today and make an announcement, according to highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd.

In a statement yesterday, Grand Saga executive director (business development and corporate affairs) Zainal Abidin Ali said they met Mohd Zin yesterday to discuss the issue.

“After the meeting, we believe that a solution is in sight. The Minister will issue an official statement tomorrow,” said Zainal Abidin.

Grand Saga has in the past few weeks tried to re-erect a barricade to prevent residents from by-passing the toll booth, claiming that the access road was illegal.

However, a statement from Bandar Mahkota Cheras developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd reiterated that it had been granted approval for the access road.

“We wish to place on record that when we launched the BMC housing project, we were granted approval by the relevant authorities to build an access road connecting to the then Cheras-Kajang Highway.

“That approval was obtained before the Government granted Grand Saga the concession over the highway.

“Therefore, in building the access road to connect to the highway, we were merely fulfilling our obligation as required by the authorities,” the statement said.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who visited the site yesterday, has asked the parties involved to reach an amicable solution in two weeks.

“I would appreciate if they can put an end to this long-standing fracas,” he said, to applause from residents.

“This has been going on for too long and there must be an amicable solution.

“There is a road, so why close it?” he asked.

Khalid said the problem had to be solved soon or else the state government, as a stakeholder in Grand Saga, could ask for an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the matter.

Every attempt by Grand Saga to block the access road has been thwarted by angry residents, who tore down each new barricade.

One resident, who sustained injuries during a fracas between residents and an unidentified group of people on Tuesday, said he was happy that the issue would soon be resolved.

“However, we are disappointed that it took so long, especially after so many residents were injured (on Tuesday), and two are still recuperating in hospital,” said the man who requested anonymity.

As at 6pm yesterday, the situation at the access road appeared normal although there was a massive traffic jam caused by boulders that had fallen onto the middle of the road under the bypass between the Bandar Mahkota Cheras and Bandar Tun Hussein Onn access roads.

Star Online


Non-racial solutions to Malaysian political institutions, economic development, social development, education & cultural policy

Non-racial solutions to Malaysian political institutions
1) Political parties formed on the basis of race to further the interests of their respective races should be outlawed as such practices are inconsistent with international conventions against racism and racial discrimination;

2) Ratify all the international covenants and UN Conventions that have not been ratified by the Malaysian government to ensure that all legislation in the country abide by international human rights standards;

3) Enact a Race Relations Act and institute an Equal Opportunities Commission to combat racism, racialism, and racial discrimination in all Malaysian institutions;

4) Delineation of constituencies must be based on the principle of 'one person, one vote' and there should not be wide discrepancies between the number of voters in different constituencies;

5) Reintroduce elected local government so that problems of housing, schools, etc. can be solved in non-racial ways;

6) Ensure that there is no racial discrimination in the civil and armed services and that every ethnic community has equal chance of promotion;

7) Establish an Independent Broadcasting Authority which is fair to all ethnic communities in Malaysia;

Non-racial solutions to Malaysian economic development
8) There must be full transparency and accountability to ensure that contracts and shares are not dispensed on a racial basis through nepotism, cronyism or corruption;

9) Public money must not be used to bail out failed private businesses under the guise of affirmative action;

10) Government policies should be strategically aimed at reducing income disparity between the rich and poor regardless of race, religion, gender, disability or political affiliation;

11) Small and medium industries, the backbone of national industrialisation, should be developed without racial discrimination;

12) Fair and adequate support should be provided to all sectors including pig farmers especially during times of crisis;

13) Land should be fairly distributed to farmers of all ethnic communities;

14) The racially-based quota system should be replaced with a means-tested sliding scale mechanism for deserving entrepreneurs;

Non-racial solutions to Malaysian social development
15) Modernise the 450 or so New Villages in the country which have existed for more than 50 years, in which many of our small and medium industries are located and where basic infrastructure is inadequate;

16) Improve the living conditions (e.g. a guaranteed minimum monthly wage) and basic amenities such as housing, education and health facilities of plantation workers;

17) Ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and members of their families;

18) Set up an Equal Opportunities Employment Commission to address all forms of discrimination in the workplace;

19) Gazette all communal lands of the Orang Asli and other indigenous peoples so that they can control their own land resources and choose their own way of life;

20) Enact laws to confirm the rights of urban settlers and obligations of developers to provide fair compensation and alternative housing to urban settlers;

21) Cater to the special needs of women, children, senior citizens and the disabled;

22) Provide more recreational facilities for the youth regardless of race to allow them to develop positive and healthy lifestyles and to encourage tolerance and awareness of cultural diversity and equality;

23) Establish a housing development authority to direct construction of low and medium-cost public housing for the needy irrespective of race;

24) Poverty eradication programmes to benefit the poor of all ethnicity must be seriously pursued;

Non-racial solutions to Malaysian education
25) Special assistance must be based on need by under-privileged sectors and classes and not on race;

26) Institute a means-tested sliding scale of education grants and loans for all who qualify to enter tertiary institutions regardless of race, religion or gender;

27) Recognition of educational certificates, diplomas or degrees should be dealt with by the National Accreditation Board on strictly academic grounds and not politicised or subject to racial discrimination;

28) Schools using the mother tongue of Malaysian minorities should be built as long as there is a demand for them in any catchment of these ethnic communities and they should not be racially discriminated against in financial allocations;

29) Establish a long-term solution to the crisis of teacher shortage in the Chinese and Tamil schools;

30) Amend the Education Act 1996 to reflect the national education policy as originally stated in the Education Ordinance 1957 ensuring the use, teaching and development of the mother tongue of all Malaysian ethnic communities;

31) Make available compulsory Pupils' Own language (POL) classes within the normal school curriculum as long as there are five pupils of any ethnic community in any school;

Non-racial solutions to Malaysian cultural policy
32) Promote knowledge, respect and sensitivity among Malaysians on Malaysian cultures, religions and ethnicity;

33) All places of prayer and worship for all ethnic communities should be gazetted in their areas of domicile free from any encumbrances and there should be no arbitrary restrictions on these places of worship;

34) National artistic and literary awards and scholarships considerations should be for all works by Malaysians regardless of the language in which they are written;

35) All ethnic Malaysian cultures should be fairly represented in official cultural bodies and the media.

Malaysian opposition shrugs off defection to ruling party

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's opposition on Thursday shrugged off a senior member's defection to the ruling party, which came as a rare victory for embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Ezam Mohamad Nor, a former member of opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, was welcomed back into the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) on Wednesday.

He had left the party in 1999 after the sacking of Anwar, a one-time deputy premier who spent six years in jail on corruption and sex charges before being freed and storming back onto the political scene.

Ezam, who had served as Anwar's political secretary, quit Keadilan last year reputedly after a power struggle with another top party official.

"Ezam's decision will have little impact on the party. We are on an upward trend now. We have had people who left the party in hard times and we survived," said Keadilan information chief Tian Chua.

"I suppose we must thank him for joining UMNO only after the general election. At any other time it might have had some impact but now it will not stop our momentum," he told AFP.

The three-party opposition alliance dealt a severe blow to the UMNO-led coalition in March 8 general elections, seizing control of five states and a third of parliamentary seats in an unprecedented result.

Anwar has said he is confident of attracting enough defecting lawmakers to topple Abdullah's administration, which has been thrown into crisis by the election drubbing.

"There have been even worse betrayals. I don't think this will affect Anwar that much ... UMNO is a sinking boat," Chua said.

Ezam's return to UMNO was splashed in the government-linked media Thursday, with prominent photographs of him handing his membership registration form to Abdullah.

"No conditions are attached to Ezam's readmission. He does not get any special treatment or privileges. He has also not sought any position. He just wants to serve and struggle for the party," Abdullah reportedly said. - AFP/ir

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