Sunday, August 31, 2008

RM110 Million Of Taxpayers Money Lost Due To Flawed National Service Contract

National Service shirkers and a very 'rigid' contract have caused the Government losses of up to RM110.1mil from 2004 to last year, the 2007 Auditor-General's report said.

Over the four years, the audit found that 63,417 people failed to attend the programme for various reasons, which led to the Government having to fork out the money to camp operators due to the way the contract was set out.

The contract spelt out that the Government would pay rent for the use of equipment and facilities for between 690 and 890 trainees for 2004 and between 300 and 400 trainees for 2005 and beyond.

The fee, per trainee, worked out to RM30 in the peninsula and RM41 in Sabah and Sarawak for 2004. In 2005, it cost RM25 in peninsula and RM34.30 in Sabah and Sarawak.

This meant that the Government had to pay for the stated number of trainees in the contract even if the number of trainees turning up was less or more than the figure stipulated in the agreement.

'Every year, between 16% and 23% of those called up to join the programme did not turn up. The ministry must review the contract conditions regarding how many trainees are allocated to each camp,' the report said.

It added that the ministry should also have a backup name list as there had to be a stop to the losses due to people not turning up for training.

'The NS Training Department also has to double-check its name list with the relevant authorities before putting out the roll call,' it said.

Among the reasons those called up did not attend were: a change in address, still studying, sole bread-winners, disabled, did not receive notices, died, overseas, in the army, health problems or have attended NS before.

In its reply, the ministry said it was in the midst of reviewing the contracts, adding that the department would be increasing the number of trainees next year to 140,000 to make up for any shortfall.

The audit also found that RM57mil in arrears had yet to be collected from camp operators for advances they had taken to construct the camps.

The audit also checked on certain camps from various angles such as the suitability of its location, cleanliness, food quality and quality of equipment supplied.

It found that the Beringin Beach camp in Langkawi was unsuitable because high tides often flooded dormitories and left a classroom unusable.

For the Wawasan camp in Sabah, camp operators told the audit team that it was difficult to obtain fresh fish to cook for the trainees but the audit team found it otherwise at the Kota Kinabalu market.

The audit also found that T-shirts, track pants, baseball caps and sports shoes supplied under contracts worth RM41.12mil were of low quality.

***** First the government has to release the names of the operators who have been given the jobs as well as those making a killing from transporting the students and then we will know how many of them are linked to umnoputeras. No one would be surprised if 100% of the contractors have Umno links.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Umno Perceived By Many As Racist, Says Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

Umno is now perceived by many to be racist because its leaders cannot articulate effectively to the masses about the pre-Independance social contract, nor can they defeat abuses of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

Umno has lost its intellectual capacity to address misgivings among Malaysians and this has led to a perception that it is a racist party.

To further compound this, Umno leaders have lost credibility in the eyes of the public following the stunning losses in the March 8 general election, party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said.

Speaking on Saturday at the opening of Kelantan’s People Action Council (MTRK) forum on Independance at the Grand Riverview Hotel, the Kelantan prince said it has now become common to see people define Umno as a racist party.

Why it has reached such a stage can be traced to three reasons, Tengku Razaleigh said.

The first is because parties with self-interests capitalise on the definitions of freedom and human rights to portray Umno as racist besides condoning a mischievous interpretation of the Federal Constitution.

The second is the complacency of Umno leaders who have allowed certain quarters to question the social contract and while rebuffing critics, Umno has not been able to shake off the stigma of been perceived as racist, he said.

Thirdly, there is no sincere effort to address the misgivings and misinterpretation over the definition of racism in the country.

Racism is where one race advocates hatred against the other and its actions underpin it, such as when the Nazis executed the Jews, explained Tengku Razaleigh.

''Umno advocates none of the above. It has never sought to close down any vernacular schools in the country. It knows how to co-exist with other races but yet, it is perceived to be racist,'' he said.

Umno needs to reinvent itself by upholding the social contract when studied through, is designed to be fair to all races, he said.

Tengku Razaleigh said many non-Malays believed that Umno or the Malays are the drivers of Malaysia. ''Of late, the Malays have become reckless and bad drivers until the Government is branded as inefficient,” he said.

Tengku Razaleigh said another step towards reinventing the party is to restore the moral credibility in the party.

''Is it too late? I hope not but Umno must come to terms about regaining the trust of the people. It must be seen as trustworthy.''

Corruption is an open secret in the country either through the public sector or within Umno until it has become a crisis to the party where only rich candidates would be voted while competency is ignored, he added.

Later, he said there is a need for stronger leadership in the country as it would prevent certain quarters from raising questionable issues which can further divide rather than mend relations among Malaysians.

Asked whether he thought Pakatan Rakyat could form the next federal government by Sept 16, Tengku Razaleigh said it is doubtful as there are disagreements within the alliance so it may derail the process. (The Star Online)

*****
Tengku Razaleigh has touched on the issues but surprisingly he has absolved Umno of practising racism. Perhaps having never been on the receiving end, he can be excused for not appreciating racism's evil presence in the country.

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BN To Evaluate Public Opinion To Regain People's Confidence, Says DPM. Just Read The Blogs Najib

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today the Barisan Nasional (BN) would listen to and evaluate the "vox populi" and do what ought to be done to regain the people's confidence in the BN government.

The deputy prime minister said the BN respected the decision of the people in the recent by-election in Permatang Pauh in Penang and "we have to evaluate the voice of the people if we want to remain in power long".

He responded thus when asked to comment on a statement by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that in the Permatang Pauh by-election on Aug 26, the opposition did not win but the BN lost.

Najib, who is the Member of Parliament for Pekan, had earlier handed over aid to mosques and surau in his constituency in view of the approaching Ramadan fasting month.

"The BN has to do what is necessary to regain the people's confidence in the BN and, God willing, this will be done so that we have more support," he said, adding that one by-election could not be used to gauge support for the BN.

In the Permatang Pauh by-election, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim beat Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah of the BN and Hanafi Mamat of Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) by a majority of 15,671 votes.

Commenting on the undivided support of Sabah elected representatives for the BN government, Najib said he was confident the Sabah elected representatives would continue to support the BN government leadership.

Anwar had claimed that the Pakatan Rakyat coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS would form the federal government on Sept 16 after several MPs from the BN cross over to the PR.

"God willing, the BN government will prevail. Let's see what the opposition has to say if they fail (to form the government) on Sept 16," Najib said. (Bernama)

***** All this talk of 'vox populi' is basically a public relations gimmick. As if the buggers in government, especially those in Umno, don't know what they've done or how lowly the people think of ruling party politicians.

Najib and his fellow pemimpin2 should instead spend time reading the various blogs to get a good idea of the real 'vox populi' and ignore the sycophantic hogwash their advisors and hangers-on think that they wish to hear.

But do you really feel that our umnoputeras want to know the unexpurgated truth? Fat hopes. Already they have tried to seek vengeance on Malaysia Today for publishing embarrassing reports. They only want to hear what pleases them and there are enough kowtow masters to attend to that need. We can safely dismiss this Najib talk as another sandiwara Umno.

Interesting report from The Star Online: Umno perceived as racist, says Ku Li

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Six Men Secretly Detained Under ISA By The Government?

A rights group says Malaysia has imprisoned six more men under a strict security law that allows for indefinite detention without trial.

Abolish ISA Movement chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh says the group's lawyers discovered on a recent visit to the detention center that the six men were arrested in July under the law.

Syed Ibrahim could not say why they were held. He says he is "quite shocked and annoyed" at the new detentions.

Home Ministry officials could not immediately be reached Friday to confirm the group's claim.

The government says the law, known as the Internal Security Act, is necessary for national security. The government says 68 people, including 33 foreigners, are currently held under the act. (AP)

***** So who are the six people who have been secretly incarcerated under the draconian ISA? Any idea?

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Opposition Stage Parliament Walkout Over DNA Identification Bill

The opposition walked out in protest from parliamentary proceedings this afternoon, following the rejection by the Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to refer the DNA Identification Bill to a select committee. As a result of the walkout, the third reading of the Bill will be dealt with only after the tabling of the Budget tomorrow.

Earlier newly-appointed Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim challenged the DNA Bill by saying, "don't Yang Berhormat agree with me that the one with no credibility is the corruption-ridden Government? This is the Government which tabled a Bill last Monday, giving no opportunity to MPs, including those of friends from the other side, to study it, and presented it with malicious intention.

"This is a Bill which has seen opposition from both the Bar Council and non-governmental groups," adding that the Opposition would support any Bill that would benefit the people. "But we are against the method employed by the Government to push this Bill through without taking heed of the public's voice," he said.

The Opposition had argued that the Bill was "politically motivated" in light of the sodomy case against Anwar.

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KL Mayor 'Disappointed' By Poor Response To Merdeka Celebration. I'm Not Surprised, Are You?

Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan is disappointed with the attitude of city folks, especially business owners who have yet to display the Jalur Gemilang (national flag) or put up decorative lights on their buildings even though the 51st year of independence (Merdeka) will be celebrated on Sunday.

If there was a flag, it was too small and not strategically placed, he told a news conference at his office Wednesday.

Ab Hakim said the owners of these premises seemed half-hearted in their efforts to celebrate and their attitude disappointed him although they had been given reminders.

"Look at the buildings here. Only a few put up the Jalur Gemilang and decorative lights. It's not wrong for me to say that no festive atmosphere can be felt for Merdeka. Don't wait for a minister to come down and ask them (premises owners) to put up the Jalur Gemilang and decorative lights," he said.

Ab Hakim said the public could buy the national flag at cost price from City Hall's treasury department in Jalan Raja Laut or its eight branch offices. "DBKL (City Hall) will also give out the Jalur Gemilang for free to those who pay taxes at the counters," he said. (Bernama)

***** Either this datuk bandar guy has been living in cuckoo land for the past few years or he's so out of touch with reality that he actually feels disappointed at the tepid public response! Just take a look at the cars on any road in any city or town and you'll notice that an overwhelming majority of them are not flying the flag.

Over the past decade the government has made the flying of the Jalur Gemilang synonymous with loyalty, gratitude and appreciation of the rakyat for our kerajaan. Now that the people are pissed off with these government chaps, especially those from Umno, they see no reason why the public should help boost the egos of these corrupt politicians by listening to and obeying their exhortations.

Therefore the KL mayor and all his superior officers can cry with disappointment and scream for flags to be flown till the lembus come home, but no way brudder. No way are we going to give you the pleasure of pushing us around and forcing the flag down our throat.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pak Lah Faces Calls To Quit After Anwar Victory

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi faced calls to quit from within his ruling party Wednesday after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim scored a landslide by-election victory.

Anwar won the vote to return to parliament despite an intense campaign mounted by the Barisan Nasional coalition, which he has promised to unseat within a month with the help of defecting lawmakers.

The failure to check Anwar has heaped more pressure on Abdullah, who has fought to hold on to his job since March general elections in which the opposition gained unprecedented ground.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a senior member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads the ruling coalition, called for a new leadership "to unite our people... and forge a clear national direction."

"(Abdullah) does not have the minimal credibility needed to run the country day by day, let alone to take it in the new directions we need to go in a complex world," he said. "This dangerous situation cannot continue."

Razaleigh said the coalition's by-election campaign, which was criticised for its racial overtones and focus on sodomy allegations against Anwar, has "embarrassed and divided the nation with its ugliness. It is time to face the music: it is we who have been buried," he said.

Razaleigh plans to challenge Abdullah for the party leadership in December polls, but is likely to fail after the premier silenced calls for his immediate ouster by agreeing to hand over power to his deputy Najib Razak in 2010.

Abdullah's main critic, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, has also called for the resignation of his successor after relations between the two soured in 2006.

Mahathir's son Mukhriz, another senior UMNO figure who is vying for the top spot in the party's influential youth wing, also called for Abdullah's immediate resignation.

"I think Abdullah should strongly consider for all our sakes, to step down now," he told AFP.

"This is a second time that the Malaysian people have given a clear message, with the first at the general elections. It is a rejection of the present leader and he must leave now." (AFP)

***** Two questions which should be asked at this point in time are:

1)
If Pak Lah quits will things genuinely improve or will we have to put up with more of the same race-baiting and corrupt governance as before? Chances are that without Pak Lah things may actually become worse especially for non-Malays.

2) Shouldn't Najib too be urged to resign after the election debacle since he was in charge of the 'ops' to ensure Anwar's defeat?

For the future wellbeing of our country, the only safe remedy is for BN to be ousted at the earliest, the nation be allowed to start anew with a clean slate and the quick implementation of safeguards to prevent the resurgence of Umno-style racism and divide-and-rule.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Najib: Polling Day Scuffle Due To Large Number Of Aggressive Opposition Supporters From Outside

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak expressed disappointment over the scuffle that occurred during polling in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election today caused by the presence of a large number of opposition supporters from outside.

"They brought supporters from outside. When they met Barisan Nasional supporters they started to act aggressively, so a scuffle ensured. I'm disappointed," the deputy prime minsiter said when interviewed on Edisi7 news at noon.

He said police would ensure that security was under control during the announcement of the election result Tuesday night.

Najib said that generally, the election proceeded smoothly although the turnout was poor.

According to the Election Commission, 26,914 voters had cast their votes by noon.

The by-election is a three-corner fight among Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the BN's Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah and Hanafi Mamat of Akim. (Bernama)

***** According to Najib the scuffle was 'caused by the presence of a large number of opposition supporters from outside'. Past experience tells us that it was normally Umno which bussed in large numbers of outsiders in previous elections. Therefore perhaps we should take the DPM's claim with a dollop of salt.

From swissinfo.ch: Anwar confident of victory in Malaysia vote

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim Set To Win Parliament By-Election

After 10 days of racist insults, accusations of sodomy and oblique references to murder, campaigning drew to a close Monday in a key by-election to Malaysia's Parliament that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim looks set to win.

Anwar is pitted against Arif Shah Omar Shah of the governing National Front coalition in Tuesday's by-election in this semi-rural district in the industrial heartland of Penang state.

"God willing we will perform well. We will manage against all odds, unless there is massive rigging. Any independent observer will concede we have an edge," Anwar, 61, told reporters Monday.

A former deputy prime minister with an eye for the top job, Anwar sees his imminent entry into Parliament as the next step in his effort to topple the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by mid-September.

If Anwar succeeds and becomes prime minister, it would be a stunning political comeback for the man who was ousted from the ruling coalition in 1998 and served six years in prison for sodomy and corruption. Anwar has always said those charges were political frame-ups.

Few expect Anwar to lose, despite being charged anew with sodomizing a male aide in June, said Ibrahim Suffian, director of the independent Merdeka Center, which conducted a telephone poll of 544 voters from Friday to Sunday.

Ibrahim said 57 percent of those polled believe that Anwar is "capable of bringing change that will benefit the people regardless of race."

In general elections in March, Anwar's three-party opposition alliance won an unprecedented 82 of Parliament's 222 seats — 30 short of a majority — as well as control of five states.

Among the seats won by the opposition was Permatang Pauh by Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Anwar could not contest the March elections because of a ban on holding political office stemming from a previous corruption conviction. It was slapped on him in 1998 when he was also charged and later convicted of sodomy. The sodomy conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2004, and the political ban expired in April this year.

In June, Wan Azizah resigned her seat to allow Anwar to contest it.

But his campaign received an early setback when his former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, swore on the Quran at a Kuala Lumpur mosque on Aug. 15 — a day before Anwar filed his candidacy papers for the election — that he was raped by Anwar.

Anwar said the ruling party "orchestrated the entire malicious, dirty campaign in time for this election."

The ruling coalition's campaign posters have also described Anwar as an Israeli agent who would allow American military bases in the country the minute he becomes prime minister.

The opposition has delivered a few punches under the belt too. Anwar has called ruling party leaders stupid, idiots, scoundrels and damned.

His party posters have shown images of slain Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu with the word "Justice" stamped on her forehead in red.

Shaariibuu, 28, was shot in October 2006 and blown up with explosives in a jungle. Abdul Razak Baginda, a close friend of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, is on trial for abetting the murder. Najib also has been linked to the woman with allegations that he had an affair with her.

Najib denies this vehemently, and recently took an oath in a mosque that he never knew the woman. (International Herald Tribune)

***** Many see an Anwar win as the first step to improved inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations and harmony. For far too long has Umno practised a divide and rule strategy which has deeply polarized the country. We need Umno as badly as the Americans need George Bush. 'Nuff said.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

944 Names Missing From List Of Permatang Pauh Voters? What Is The Election Commission Up To?

From Bernama
The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) claims that 944 names of voters have 'disappeared' from the electoral list for the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency which had been updated up to July 2008.

The PKR deputy director of elections, Fuziah Salleh, said a letter of protest had been sent to the Election Commission.

"We find that 944 names of voters who are eligible to vote have disappeared whereas they had voted in the March election this year," she said at a press conference at the Yayasan Aman building in Kubang Semang, here Sunday.

Fuziah, who is also the Kuantan Member of Parliament, claimed that of the number, six had been identified to have moved and changed their addresses, 81 could not be traced and 868 had been omitted from the electoral roll.

The Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency has 58,459 registered voters.

Meanwhile, State EC Deputy Director Ilyani Farha Mohammad refused to comment on the allegation and said that the EC would hold a press conference tomorrow pertaining to the polling day on Tuesday.
***** What the devil is the EC up to? Are they conducting a by-election for the nation or for Umno? How can so many names simply disappear? Would anyone like to take a guess for which party the 'missing' voters would have voted for?

We always knew that the ruling party would stoop to any level to triumph in this crucial electoral battle. I suppose having given up any hopes of winning it fairly, they have now resorted to using the EC to cheat their way to victory.

Image - Source

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Why China Has A Serious Credibility Problem

Whether it’s gymnasts’ age or a killer virus, China is the victim of a credibility problem of its own making

The investigation initiated by the International Olympic Committee into suspicions that Chinese gold medal-winning women gymnasts at the Beijing Olympics are under-aged has predictably angered Chinese people and commentators, who have responded with bilious rage on the Internet

“Why is China being subjected to this humiliating investigation when it has submitted a copy of (gymnast) He Kexin’s proof of age as required by the IOC,” wonders a blogger. “Some of the European and American female athletes look like guys — not only in their aggressive manner, but in their bone structure, body shape and facial features,” observes another. “Should we demand more testing, more intrusive and extended investigation than what the IOC has conducted so far?”

The mere fact that these investigations against Chinese gymnasts have been launched amounts to a serious loss of ‘face’ for China, with the implication that its word is being disbelieved. But in fact China has only itself to blame for the credibility crisis it faces: in the court of international opinion, it has in the past been caught making wilful misrepresentations of the truth, both on the sports field and off it. Indicatively, Chinese gymnast Yang Yun, who won individual and team bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said later in an interview on state-run Chinese television that she had been 14 at the time of those Games.

Far more seriously, in 2003, as a killer virus claimed lives across southern China, authorities continued to maintain — despite media exposes to the contrary — that it was no more than a mild case of “atypical pneumonia”. Only when it exploded in their face did authorities acknowledge the gravity of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Although China has since then made some progress in its information dissemination system during emergencies, its knee-jerk response to the latest allegations relating to underaged gymnasts shows that its first reflex when it’s caught is to cover its tracks — and rather inexpertly at that.

Little wonder then that China finds itself easily disbelieved. In this case, as in the earlier cases, it has only itself to blame for the credibility crisis it faces.(DNA News)

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Poverty Eradication Regardless Of Race, Ideology BN Candidate's Agenda. But Is That Umno's Agenda?

From Bernama
The eradication of poverty among the people regardless of their race, religion and political ideology will be the national agenda for Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah in Parliament if he were to win in the Permatang Pauh by-election on Tuesday.

He said the poverty eradication agenda would not be realised if the approach used was based on racial interests and political ideologies of a particular community.

"There must be other ways of resolving the poverty problems of the people. A comprehensive study involving local leaders who are truly concerned must be carried out.

"It should not involve leaders who are only interested in seeking positions but do not carry out studies because certain people have different political ideologies and thus are left out. In the end, we cannot resolve the poverty problem," he told Bernama here Saturday.

"I have a national perspective in the various fields to be shared together if I were elected as a Member of parliament," he said, refuting allegations that he could not make any significant contribution in the Dewan Rakyat.

When asked on his agenda in strengthening racial unity, Arif Shah said a solution must be worked out to ensure that unity between the various races and differing political ideologies could be nurtured.

The Seberang Jaya State Assemblyman said currently solidarity between the Malays themselves was weak, what more between the various races.

"The Malays themselves are divided into the Umno Malays, PAS Malays, and PKR Malays, and even among the Umno Malays, they are divided into several groups. Thus, we have to find a solution so that they will become a single Malay entity.

"Among the Chinese, Indians and the other communities, we have to identify a way of merging them to eliminate whatever prejudice that are being fanned by those with ulterior motive," he said.

In this context, he said more programmes involving all the various races and supporters of the various political parties must be held to instil solidarity between these various groups.

Arif Shah believed his agenda on poverty eradication and strengthening solidarity not only among the Permatang Pauh electorate but also the people of the whole country could be achieved with cooperation from all the communities and local leaders.

"If this (cooperation) can be achieved, then it is easy for us to meet this target," he said.

In the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election, Arif Shah is involved in a three-cornered fight with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) candidate Hanafi Mamat. The seat fell vacant when the incumbent member of parliament Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also PKR president, resigned.
***** If Arif Shah were to be candidate for the PM's post, at least we can give him the benefit of the doubt for that very muhibbah claim. Unfortunately he is but a mere cog, and an insignificant one at that, in the racist Umno wheel. One can safely dismiss his speech as election bluster.

Umno in its present form will continue to be the practitioner of undisguised and unrepentant racism.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Malaysian School Teachers Beat Up Indian Kids Black-And-Blue, Call Derogatory Names

Over the past almost one year, incidents of school teachers physically abusing students of Indian origin have been on the rise in Malaysia, and in some instances, teachers even called the Indian students by derogatory names.

The school teachers have reportedly acquired the hate-Indian students attitude after the transfer of a school teacher from a secondary school in Banting, who is now facing an inquiry after she admitted to leveling racial slurs against Indian students.

Several parents of such children here have lodged police reports since November last year alleging that as many as five school teachers had physically and verbally abused Indian students.

R. Sathasnam (52) said that he and another parent had complained to the schools administration repeatedly, but the abuses still continue. He alleged that these five teachers regularly hit the students and told them to transfer out of the school, as they (the teachers) were fed-up of seeing their faces. One of the teachers called some Indian students derogatory names, alleged Sathasnam.

He alleged that many Indian students were slapped, kicked, punched and caned by these teachers for misdemeanours such as talking while lining-up to enter the classroom.

My 10-year-old son was lifted-up by the ears by a male teacher and slapped and kicked for talking before entering the classroom after recess in February, staronline.com quoted Sathasnam as saying.

He claimed his sons ears turned blue-black and his cheeks swelled after the beating. When he rushed his son to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital , the doctor there advised him to file a police report. Another parent R. Viganaspary, 40, said her son was repeatedly hit on the head with a rolled-up newspaper and caned on the legs for not having a particular exercise book.

Meanwhile, Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs secretary Gunaraj George, who met Sathasnam and Viganaspary recently, said the coalition would present a memorandum on the matter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi soon. These are young impressionable children and the alleged incidents will only teach them to hate, he said.

Malaysian Deputy Minister and Senator T. Murugiah promised to look into these cases and speak to the principal next week when school reopens. Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong also said that he would comment only after he had seen copies of the police reports. (ANI)

***** Are we really surprised or shocked? That racist and religious chauvinists, misfits and nutcases have infested the teaching fraternity is well known. However the irresponsible tidak apa stance and reaction of the education department is deplorable.

Imagine if the same thing had happened to students of the 'other' race. By now the minister and his officials would have paid televised visits to the home of those students, given them some financial compensation and heads would have rolled. But since the victims are 'only' Indians, the authorities could not be the least bit bothered. Which begs the question, are these education department buggers any less racist than the psychiatric screwballs perpetrating violence with impunity on their students?

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M'sia Quietly Drops 'Pulau' From Pulau Batu Puteh As S'pore Claims Exclusive Economic Zone

From The Straits Times, Singapore
Malaysia has dropped 'Pulau', the Malay term for island, from its name for Pedra Branca.

The Malaysian government, which has always called the island Pulau Batu Puteh, is now calling it just Batu Puteh, reported the Chinese-language paper Oriental Daily News.

Announcing the change at a press conference earlier this week, Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said it was doing so as it considered the territory as having failed to meet the internationally recognised criteria for an island, that is, land inhabited by humans that had economic activity.

He told reporters that the Singapore Government wanted to claim an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around it but said this was not possible because it did not qualify as an island.

In his view, it was a mere granite outcrop devoid of vegetation, water sources and human habitation.

Dr Rais said Malaysia had considered it an island in the past, but decided to abide by international standards after the dispute over it with Singapore was referred to the the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In May, the ICJ had awarded Pedra Branca to Singapore and the Middle Rocks to Malaysia, but ruled that the South Ledge outcrop belonged to whoever owned the territorial waters it sat in.

Dr Rais said the government will set up a research centre on the South Ledge, which he claimed belonged to Malaysia because of its proximity to Middle Rocks.

He also criticised Singapore's announcement about the EEZ.

'Singapore made the announcement without consulting Malaysia. In any case, Singapore's claim of up to 12 nautical miles of territorial waters as well as an EEZ around Batu Puteh was unreasonable and contrary to international law,' Oriental Daily News quoted him as saying.
***** Another case of Singapore outmaneuvering our foreign ministry mandarins. The problem lies in the sad fact that while Singapore recruits the best talents in its crucial departments, we are still hampered by racial quotas and the promotion of mediocre personnel. What pride can there possibly be in packing these offices with so many Malays if they can't get the job done?

Many stories abound about the government either not hiring top notch non-Malay experts or treating them so shabbily by denying them promotions that they have been forced to leave. We are now merely 'reaping' the effects of the racism our government has been sowing over the past forty years.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Birthday Parties, Anniversaries, Mother's Day Against Islam," Says Saudi Grand Mufti!

Celebrating anniversaries, birthdays or mother's day is against Muslim 'righteousness', Saudi Arabia's top cleric has said, quashing suggestions by a colleague that Islam permits personal celebrations.

Media savvy cleric Salman al-Awdah told viewers during a call-in television show last week that celebrating birthdays and wedding anniversaries was not against Islam, sparking a debate in the conservative kingdom and prompting the mufti to weigh in.

Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz al-Shaikh said celebrating such events would make Muslims like followers of other faiths including Jews and Christians, al-Madina newspaper reported.

Shaikh embodies Wahhabism, the hardline Islamic doctrine that has ruled hand in hand with the Saud family since the kingdom was founded some eight decades ago.

Women are banned from driving and mixing with unrelated men in Saudi Arabia, whose clerics issue edicts ordering Saudis not to buy red roses on Valentine's Day on an almost annual basis.

"A Muslim should thank almighty Allah if his children are healthy and if his married life is stable as the years pass by," the paper quoted Shaikh as saying.

Two occasions call for celebration in the Muslim world, Shaikh said: Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the annual haj pilgrimage.

Awdah, who follows a relatively softer line, is widely believed to be favoured by circles close to King Abdullah. The monarch has repeatedly said that Saudi Arabia needs reforms. (Reuters)
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Is Lee Chong Wei Being Manipulated By BN?

From The Star Online
Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei has clearly been "manipulated" by the Barisan Nasional when he agreed to receive his RM300,000 cheque in Permatang Pauh.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said there was no need to send Lee back to Permatang Pauh using an airplane provided by the Defence Ministry and landing at an air force base for the purpose of the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign.


"In fact, I understand that he's back here today. Why can't the cheque presentation take place in Kuala Lumpur? "It's quite clear that he's been manipulated and Barisan is using the ceremony to their advantage for the campaign."

Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has also been using the ministry's facilities in his campaign by flying to Penang.
"The use of the Defence Ministry's facilities for the by-election is improper, a form of abuse and a waste of public funds," he told reporters Thursday at the Parliament lobby here.

Lim said on the contrary, neither he nor any other DAP members use their official state cars when they go campaigning. "We drive our own private cars. This should be the way. Clearly, Barisan has not learnt its lesson from the March 8 general election," he said.

The badminton player received the cheque from Najib in a ceremony in Butterworth on Wednesday night.
He also received RM3,000 being the pension reward the Government had promised for the feat. The payments which begin next month are for life.

Lim said Najib should differentiate between private political interest and his government posts.

Asked about the conferment by Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas of the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) award on Lee on Aug 30, which carries the title "Datuk", Lim said the ceremony would take place after the polling date in Permatang Pauh.
"This is because we don't want to be seen as taking advantage of him," he said.
***** Waah! Chong Wei terbang in Mindef plane and landed at an air force base brudder! I wonder if this is the manner in which future medalists of international sports competitions will be treated? Or will this privilege only be accorded during certain by-elections?
Image - Source

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PM Says ACA 'Efficient'. Who Is He Trying To Kid?

From The Star
The Anti-Corruption Agency’s latest arrest of six people, including two Perak state exco members, is proof of the agency’s increased efficiency due to improvements to its enforcement capacity, says the Prime Minister.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi brushed off comments by some PKR people who questioned the timing of the arrest coming during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign, and said it was a mere coincidence.

Abdullah said the ACA investigations and arrests had nothing to do with the Government.

“That is the ACA’s intelligence. Surely they cannot just watch someone committing a crime and do nothing. Because they know a crime has been committed, they act,” he said after chairing the 4th National Water Resource Council in Parliament yesterday.

He added that the ACA did not inform him prior to the arrest.

“There is no need to inform me. This is their job and I heard it from the news,” he said.
***** The whole report is littered with misleading statements and half-truths by Pak Lah.

Example 1:
The timing of the arrest coming during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign is a mere coincidence. (Does he really expect us to believe that crap?)

Example 2:
The ACA investigations and arrests had nothing to do with the Government. (Oh really!?!)

Example 3:
The ACA cannot just watch someone committing a crime and do nothing. (Isn't that what these buggers have been doing all these years? Sleeping on the job and leaping into action and barking loudly when the government gives the green light)

Example 4: The ACA didn't inform me.
I heard it from the news!!!. (Come on man! Even the politically naive rural bumpkin will have a tough time digesting this piece of ridiculous bullshit)

DPM Najib says: No political agenda in arrest

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Disappearing After Permatang Pauh Nomination. Where Is Hanafi Mamat?

From Sin Chew Jit Poh
The election campaign went into its fourth day on Tuesday, however, Angkatan Kemajuan Insan Malaysia (AKIM) candidate Hanafi Mamat was nowhere to be seen in Permatang Pauh ever since the nomination day last Saturday.

Similarly, the media have not received any call from AKIM or been informed of any campaign activity or ceramah. There are only two major camps now lobbying for votes, UMNO and PKR.

On the nomination day, Sin Chew Daily reporter was promised an appointment to meet Hanafi for an interview on the following morning (17 August). However, when Sin Chew Daily tried to approach him early in the morning for the exact place and time of interview, Hanafi said apologetically that he was in Kota Bharu.

He told Sin Chew Daily over the phone that he would travel between Permatang Pauh and Kelantan during the campaign period, and when he is away, his 200-member election team would help him campaign for the election.

He felt he did not need to set up too many election offices, or put up posters or organise ceramahs during the campaign period, because what matters most is that he could effectively deliver AKIM's message to the voters.

He said his team would go from door to door to convey AKIM's message while lobbying for votes.

Sin Chew Daily approached him again on Tuesday to find out where exactly he would campaign for the election. Hanafi said he would be back in Permatang Pauh on Wedneday.

It seems that by the time he actually begins his campaign tour, half of the campaign period would have been over. His "composure" has taken many by surprise.

We have no idea whether that is his election tactic, showing that he is fully confident of himself and his team, or because he simply has no experience running for the election.

Well, only he himself can tell.
***** Many felt that Hanafi's inclusion was an attempt to whittle down support to Anwar Ibrahim. So what happened? The candidate got cold feet? Or perhaps the campaign strategy inspired by Umno had gone haywire and therefore aborted. Not that it would have made much of a difference to the inevitable final result.

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Pirates Seize Malaysian Palm Oil Tanker In Gulf Of Aden, Off Somalia's Coast

From AP
Armed pirates have seized a Malaysian tanker carrying palm oil and more than 20 crew members in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, the fourth such hijacking in a month, a global maritime watchdog said Wednesday.

Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said the center picked up a distress signal late Tuesday and immediately notified Western naval ships patrolling the area.

The tanker was heading toward Somali territorial waters, he said. In pursuit was a warship from a multinational naval force to stop terrorism comprising the U.S., France, Germany, Pakistan, Britain and Canada.

"We have had no communication with the vessel so far. The distress call was relayed through another ship but the tanker has been confirmed seized by pirates," Choong said.

Choong said the Malaysian tanker was taking its load of palm oil from Indonesia to Europe when it was attacked, but it was unclear when the raid took place.

"This is the fourth hijacking in a month. ... We call upon the U.N. and the international community to take immediate steps to stop the worsening situation," he said.

Once the ship enters Somali waters, pirates are likely to demand ransom for the release of the vessel and the crew, he said. He declined to give further details, citing concern for the crew's safety.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 and foreign vessels are frequently seized for ransom by pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and automatic weapons, making it difficult and expensive to deliver aid.

In June, the U.N. Security Council voted to allow international warships to enter Somali waters to combat the problem. But its 1,880-mile coastline, the longest in Africa, remains virtually unpoliced.

Ships have been urged to stay more than 200 nautical miles from the Somali coast, Choong said.

The Gulf of Aden, where many of the attacks take place, connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, forming one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Twenty-four acts of piracy have been reported off Somalia in the first half of this year.

***** Let's hope that nothing untoward happens and the crew members are released safely.

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Speak Out Against Religious Intolerance In Malaysia

From TheSun
There is no doubt that Islamisation has moved beyond the mere absorption of Islamic values to demands that are beginning to distress not only those outside the faith but also those of the faith.

When it began in the 1980s, the values that Malaysians were encouraged to absorb and practise in their daily lives were universal ones like honesty, hard work, respect, kindness and generosity. Unfortunately the policy played into the hands of bigots who wanted to see a more formal Islam practised throughout the country and who also wanted to see it become more visible than just the domes and the minarets.

Thus more of Islam has entered educational institutions and work places. Almost unnoticed, Islamic elements have also entered many state constitutions. Gradually, Islamisation takes on a form that begins to alarm many people. It has moved from mere exhortation and persuasion to a crude enforcement of laws that prohibit Muslims from, among other things, drinking or serving alcohol, gambling, singing and dancing, and punishing them for not praying and fasting.

In their overzealousness, the Islamic religious authorities send out enforcement teams to raid entertainment outlets – the latest being the pub in a hotel in Glenmarie, Selangor on Friday – to discourage Muslims from patronising these places. But in the process they annoy and inconvenience foreign visitors and other Malaysians who are not of the faith.

Malaysia used to take pride in its multireligious character and the easy co-existence that prevailed among people of the various faiths. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s visit to a church on Christmas eve almost five years ago was cheered by almost everyone, including those in other countries as a strong mark of Malaysian religious tolerance. But then came the raids, the end of efforts to set up an interfaith commission, and the end of discussion over Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution which gave the Syariah Court jurisdiction over matters concerning conversion to Islam and because of it, the tussle over the dead.

All these have emboldened the religious authorities and it looks like they have now assumed control of the government Islamisation agenda. In the interest of national unity, harmony and peace, these authorities must be reminded and told that they cannot go overboard. Above all, those who want the halcyon days of religious tolerance to return must be forever vigilant and brave.
***** By allowing the politically motivated Islamisation of a secular country, the government has created so much anxiety, unhappiness and insecurity. Both the Muslims and the non-Muslims are dissatisfied.

Some Muslims are grumbling that Malaysia is not 'Islamic' enough while other Muslims are apprehensive of unimpeded government intrusion into religious issues which should strictly be a personal matter between the individual and God.

The non-Muslims are overwhelmingly against Umno's devious attempts to pander to the Malay vote by creating unease among the different religious groups, by refusing to negotiate a win-win solution and by using government-sponsored surrogates to continue making strident calls for the establishment of an Islamic state.

Image - Source

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Najib: Govt Has Never Restricted Non-Bumis Pursuing Higher Education In The Country. Is This True?

From Bernama
Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN) government have never restricted opportunities for non-Bumiputeras to pursue higher education in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak said Monday.

He said various changes have been made by the government over the last few years to make education in the country more liberal and open.

These more liberal and open educational policies benefited the non-Bumiputera communities, he told reporters after a visit to the BN election operations room in Sama Gagah here.

He said the picture portrayed by the Opposition on educational opportunities for Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras was incorrect altogether.

Najib said the issue of education could not be viewed from one angle but should be seen from the viewpoint of changes to the educational sector and the national education policy initiated by the BN government.

Najib said the government provided ample opportunities for all communities, including non-Bumiputeras, and the issue should not be politicised by the Opposition, especially in the Permatang Pauh by-election, polling for which is on Aug 26.

The BN deputy chairman was asked to comment on a statement by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his "ceramah" (talk) that he supported the proposal by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim for a 10 per cent intake of non-Bumiputeras into Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

Anwar, 61, is involved in a three-corner contest with Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, 51, of the BN and Hanafi Mamat, 61, of the Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akin) in the by-election.

The by-election has been necessitated by the resignation on July 31 of the member of parliament, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, to pave the way for her husband, Anwar, to contest and become an MP.

Najib said the government had approved legislation providing for the setting up of private colleges and universities to open up opportunities for non-Bumiputeras to pursue higher education, replaced the quota system with a meritocracy system and extended the National Higher Education Loan Fund Corporation (PTPTN) scheme to all communities.

"We have also allowed private colleges, such as Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), to upgrade and recruit more students. Gerakan also has a university and, yesterday, MIC officially opened its Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) university," he said.

As such, he called on the Opposition not to politicise the issue of education in an attempt to garner the votes of the Chinese and Indian communities.

He said the issue was used as capital to draw non-Malay support for Anwar as the support of the Malays and Muslims was divided between Umno and PAS.
***** How many of you feel that Najib is accurate in his claim that the government has provided ample opportunities for all communities, including non-Bumis? The lack of tertiary education opportunities is one of the sorest points in the long list of non-Malay grouses and dissatisfaction with Umno. The non-Bumis have been given the short end of the stick for the better part of four decades partly because the so-called Chinese and Indian parties in the BN have remained deaf and dumb all these years.

But now in the run-up to the Permatang Pauh by-elections, knowing that the non-Malays are extremely pissed off with Umno and its continous use of the race and religion card, Najib is making this empty claim. To be fair he has every right to claim what he likes just as the people have the right to give Umno the boot in this and other elections. Say no to racism.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

President Pervez Musharraf Resigns To Avoid Impeachment

Nuclear-armed Pakistan's beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation on Monday in the face of an impending impeachment motion by the ruling coalition government.

he former army chief and firm U.S. ally has seen his popularity slide over the past 18 months and has been isolated since his allies lost a February election.

"After consultations with legal advisers and close political supporters and on their advice, I'm taking the decision of resigning," Musharraf said a televised address.

"My resignation will go to the speaker of the National Assembly today."

The coalition government, led by the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said on August 8 it planned to impeach Musharraf.

The powerful army, which has ruled for more than half the country's 61-year history, has publicly kept out of the controversy over its old boss.

No unrest was expected as a result of the increasingly unpopular leader's resignation.

Investors in Pakistan's financial markets -- while appreciating Musharraf's investor-friendly rule which, until this year, saw strong growth and surging stocks -- were expected to welcome his resignation as heralding an end to political uncertainty.

Pakistani stocks rose 4 percent on the announcement.

Prolonged jockeying and uncertainty over Musharraf's position has hurt Pakistan's financial markets and raised concern in Washington and among other allies it is distracting from efforts to control violent militants in the nuclear-armed nation.

CHARGES

The ruling coalition had prepared impeachment charges against Musharraf focusing on violation of the constitution and misconduct.

Coalition officials had hoped Musharraf would quit to avoid impeachment while some allies have said he should at least answer charges brought against him before stepping down.

Officials from Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and Britain, have been involved in negotiations aimed at ending the confrontation between Musharraf and the government.

The United States, which has relied on Musharraf for Pakistani cooperation in its campaign against terrorism, had said the question of Musharraf's future was for Pakistanis to decide.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that Musharraf has been a "good ally," but she declined to say whether he would receive U.S. asylum if he stepped down.

"This is an issue that is not on the table," Rice said in an interview with Fox News.

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup but has been isolated since his allies lost a February election.

All four provincial assemblies passed resolutions in recent days pressing him to resign and several old allies have joined the campaign against him.

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Gerakan Leader Calls For Party To Quit BN

From Bernama
Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the remark by women's head Datuk Tan Lian Hoe who wanted the party to reconsider its position in Barisan Nasional (BN) was an internal problem and would be resolved by the party itself.

He said Tan had not communicated to him of her opinion and he was surprised after being told about what she had said.

"I will handle the issue within the party. This only reflects that there are opinion differences among party leaders and it shows the democratic process does exist. And we will discuss the matter within the party," he said.

Earlier, he accompanied Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a meeting with leaders of Chinese non-governmental organisations and Islamic religious class teachers here Sunday.

Tan who is Deputy Information Minister, told reporters after the annual conference of Perak Gerakan delegates in Ipoh Sunday that party grassroots were unhappy with BN leaders who used racial issues to gain political support.

Dr Koh said that probably, Tan raised the matter because as Deputy Information Minister, she received information from the Chinese community and grassroots.

It would not become an issue, he said and added that he would continue to campaign for the BN candidate in the Permatang Pauh by-election as Penang BN chairman.

Meanwhile, Abdullah when asked to comment on the matter, said he had not been informed of it.
***** So the call for minor players in the BN to quit has started. About time too. How long can these also-rans continue to put up with Umno and its persistent race-baiting? Despite the expected pathetic response by Dr Koh Tsu Koon, it'll only be a matter of time before the lone voice of Datuk Tan turns into a flood of discontent and anger. Are MCA and MIC listening?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

PAS Abandons Gambling, Alcohol Ban Plans

Malaysia's conservative Islamic party PAS has shelved a proposal to ban gambling and restrict alcohol sales in the four states it rules with its political allies.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is part of a three-member opposition alliance which made huge strides in March elections, wresting five states and a third of parliamentary seats from the ruling coalition.

Hardliners in the party have chafed at the moderate stance promoted by its alliance partners, including the multi-racial Keadilan and the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party.

But PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said at the party's annual meeting that it would not pursue the campaign against gambling and alcohol demanded by influential party scholars, which would have affected much of Kuala Lumpur.

"Liquor is allowed by their religion ... so we allow them," Abdul Hadi was quoted as saying at the weekend talks by PAS online news portal "Siasah".

"We have to understand the (political) reality that we are part of an alliance and we do not have absolute power. So under such a government we focus on universal Islamic values like fighting corruption," he said.

Malaysia's population is dominated by Muslim Malays, living alongside large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities who are concerned over rising "Islamisation" of the country.

In the northeastern state of Kelantan, which PAS rules in its own right, it has banned gambling, restricted the sale of alcohol and requires men and women to queue in separate lines at shops.

Kelantan authorities periodically hit the headlines with attempts to ban women from wearing heavy make-up, skimpy clothes and high heels.

Mohamad Daud Iraqi, head of the PAS Islamic scholars group, has said the four other opposition-held states -- Penang, Perak, Kedah and Selangor which surrounds the capital -- should emulate Kelantan's Islamic laws.

"For starters, states under the opposition alliance can reduce the number of gambling premises as gambling is strictly prohibited by all religions," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times last week.

"Permits or licences to sell alcohol should either be limited or only allowed for areas inhabited by non-Muslims," he said.

PAS is trying to revamp its hardline image and capture support among ethnic Chinese and Indian communities after it was trounced in 2004 elections.

Its defeat then was seen as a vote against the party's fundamentalist approach, but its new progressive stance paid dividends in the March elections when it enjoyed support even from urban Chinese and Indian voters. (AFP)

***** Nice to read but what guarantee is there that the very same PAS leaders will not call for the establishment of an Islamic state next week? Once bitten twice shy.

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