Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lord Khalid Hameed Asian Of The Year 2007

Leading Non-Resident Indian doctor, Lord Khalid Hameed, has been adjudged Asian of the Year 2007 for his outstanding work in various walks of life including his contribution to health service.

Sixty-six-year-old Lucknow-born Dr Hameed is currently chairman of the Alpha Hospital Group and also Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the London International Hospital, which is a new Centre of Excellence being created for cancer, heart and the brain.

The Award was presented to Lord Hameed at the Asian Who's Who 2007 function organized by its Editor, J S Sachar at the Hilton Hotel in London last night.
Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was also present on the occasion.

Lord Hameed, who arrived here from India in 1968, has worked for three teaching hospitals in London. Following this he developed a successful practice in Central London and was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Cromwell Hospital, London before he took over as Chairman of the Alpha Hospital Group.

Thanking the selection panel for bestowing him the honour, Dr Hameed said the London International Hospital, now under construction would be operational in 12 months.

He is also chairman of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council and is a trustee of many charities. He is involved in interfaith work and dialogue for which he undertakes public speaking.

In 2005 he was awarded the Sternberg Award for his work in interfaith matters. He was also chosen for the Ambassador of Peace Award in 2007 by the International Federation for World Peace.

He has national honours from five countries, including the UK which awarded him the CBE. He was appointed High Sheriff of Greater London for 2006-2007 by the Queen, an office which is 1,000 years old. He was elevated to Life peerage as a Member of the House of Lords this year.

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Police Commercial Crime Director Ramli Yusuf Admits He Is The "RM27 Million Cop". Denies Having Such Assets

A senior police officer at Bukit Aman, Commercial Crimes Department director, Commissioner Datuk Ramli Yusuff who was being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) for abuse of power and failing to declare RM27 million worth of assets has finally admitted that he is the one who had been mentioned in press reports as the 'RM27 million' cop. However he has denied having such assets. (This news was received via news alert by The Sun.)

The senior cop who is in his 50s, is a director of a company which was awarded a project in April to develop an area in Lahad Datu.

Problems cropped up for him when several villagers voiced their opposition to the project when the company staff went to the area to do surveying work.

Datuk Ramli allegedly ordered the villagers to be arrested.

The ACA had started its investigation following an anonymous telephone call.

Let us wait and see how this story unfolds. Going by past experience everything will be coolly swept under the permaidani and semuanya will be OK!
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Bali Bombers' Only Regret Is That Muslims Died In The Attack

The three Indonesians sentenced to die for the 2002 Bali blasts, which killed more than 200 people, say they are ready to be executed and their only regret is that Muslims died in the attack.

The three militants - Imam Samudra, Mukhlas and Amrozi, who was dubbed "the smiling bomber" because of his constant grin during the trial - are being held at Indonesia's top security Batu Prison off the southern coast of Java.

They met family members yesterday in what is likely to be the last such visit before they are executed by firing squad.

"People ask me, why am I smiling? I am happy because I will be united with 72 angels in heaven," said Amrozi.

"In the past I have killed many with my bombs. I have been tested by spending time in this prison, but if you make infidels angry you will be rewarded. And soon I will enjoy the fruit of my deeds, if I get executed, God willing," he said.

The two blasts on Bali's Kuta strip on October 12, 2002, one at Paddy's Bar, the other at the Sari Club, killed 202 people including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesian citizens.

The attacks were blamed on southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah.

Amrozi, a motorcycle mechanic, his brother Mukhlas, and Imam Samudra were the only three involved in the bombings to be sentenced to death.

"My brother Amrozi was visited by a dead friend in a dream last night, who told him a flying creature with a golden saddle is waiting to take him to heaven. This is why we will not ask for pardon," Mukhlas said. (Gulf News)

***** Mental illness manifests itself in many ways, occasionally comedic while at other times with tragic consequences.
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Monday, October 29, 2007

Musharraf, Aziz Had Run Proxy War In Kashmir In 1990s: Book

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, commander of 4 Corps (Lahore), Lt Gen Mohammed Aziz, and Chief of General Staff, Gen Mohammed Yusuf, had run the proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s, a new book has claimed.

"Musharraf and Aziz had trained together as commandos in the 1960s and, together with Yusuf, had played critical roles in the training of the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s under the tutelage of General Hamid Gul," the book 'Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Global Nuclear Weapons stated.

"Musharraf, Aziz and Yusuf had run the proxy war in Kashmir in the early 1990s, and Aziz, a Kashmiri by birth, had been on the ground handling Musharraf's disastrous Kargil operation in 1999," the book by investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherin Scott-Clark said.

The authors are internationally renowned and award winning investigative journalists who worked as staff writers and foreign correspondents for the 'Sunday Times' before joining the 'Guardian'.

Aziz was so close to Pakistan's sponsored 'jihadi' organizations that when Musharraf had tried to promote him to commander of 10 Corps (Rawalpindi) in October 1999 as a precursor to making him army chief, a job that would have brought him back to the capital, Jamaat-e-Islami and Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat Ulema Islam protested, warning it would weaken the 'jihad' in Kashmir.

Musharraf subsequently backed down, the authors said.

Aziz held great influence over Pakistan's president. He persuaded Musharraf against clamping down on the Taliban and Osama bin Laden as a result of the then US President Bill Clinton's visit to Islamabad in 2000 and he also vetoed US demands for action against Pakistan-based activities of outfits such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Aziz was promoted to chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, a position that until then Musharraf had retained for himself.

Yusuf was promoted to vice chief of army staff, the second most important job in the Pakistan army.(DNA)

***** A good example of why the military should be strictly confined to its designated duties and not given a toehold in politics. In that sense our government has done an excellent job.
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British Opposition Leader To Boycott Saudi King's Visit Due To Arms Deal Kickbacks Claims. How About Najib Then?

The acting leader of a British opposition party yesterday said he will boycott a state visit by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to protest the handling of a British investigation into claims that members of the Saudi royal family received kickbacks as part of a massive arms deal.

Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats, Britain's second largest opposition party, said he also wants to protest Saudi Arabia's human rights record by turning down invitations to all the ceremonial events during the king's visit. It begins today and is to include a banquet held by Queen Elizabeth II in his honour at Buckingham Palace.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office had been investigating allegations that members of the Saudi royal family received kickbacks as part of the £43-billion (Dh324 billion) Al Yamamah arms deal negotiated in the 1980s with the UK-based company BAE Systems PLC. (Gulf News)

***** Interestingly our DPM goes in and out of London the way he does from Pekan to Putrajaya. If
"receiving kickbacks as part of a massive arms deal" is a criterion which is uniformly and strictly applied by the British opposition then in future the likes of Najib should see his itinerary in the UK being drastically curtailed. Perhaps the hon. Dr Vincent Cable hasn't heard of Najib Tun Razak. But then again Najib isn't exactly in the same league as the Saudi King is he?
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French President Walks Out Of U.S. TV Interview

French President Nicolas Sarkozy walked out of an interview with US CBS television news show 60 Minutes , according to a clip of the show released Sunday in advance of the interview's airing.

A clearly disturbed Sarkozy stood up muttering in French about the question, which was not heard, in a short publicity clip put on the Internet ahead of the 60 Minutes broadcast Sunday night.

"You asked me that question," Sarkozy seems to say as he pulls off the microphone, stands up and walks away from the interviewer, who appears confused.

Sarkozy, whose office announced October 18 that he had divorced his wife Cecilia, is known to be particularly prickly about questions on his personal life.

He is also shown in the clip for the segment entitled "Sarko L'Americain" saying, "What an idiot," in apparent reference to his own press secretary.

"He's smart, energetic and tempestuous," the 60 Minutes clip said in promoting the show.

The segment will be broadcast Sunday evening during the show, which begins at 7:00 pm (2300 GMT).

It was not clear when the CBS interview was conducted.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

More Malaysian Schools Will Be Opened In UK

(Malaysian students abroad 1999-2004)

Umno Overseas Club
aims to open up more Malaysian schools in major cities in the United Kingdom (UK) for the benefit of children of Malaysian parents furthering their studies in the country.

Its chairman Datuk Shafie Apdal said these schools would help the children get a Malaysian education in Bahasa Malaysia apart from religious studies as is the case back home.

"This way they will be exposed to Malaysian culture from early which will later serve them in good stead," he told Malaysian journalists after opening the Southhampton Malaysian School here Saturday.

Shafie, who is also Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, joined some 200 Malaysian students who are studying at Southampton University in celebrating Aidilfitri in conjunction with the opening of the school.

He said that besides this school, there were five other Malaysian schools in the UK, in Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester, Sheffield and Edinburgh, cities where many Malaysians are pursuing higher studies.

According to him, the schools provided pre-school until secondary school education following the Malaysian syllabus.

Shafie, who came to London Friday to meet Malaysian students in the UK, said there were still many cities without such schools (in the UK) but it was not feasible to have them there because of low numbers of Malaysian students or they were mostly single.

He said that despite it being costly to set up Malaysian schools in the UK, Umno Overseas Club would monitor the situation and do its best to set up more of them to help children of Malaysian parents studying in the UK to get a Malaysian education up to the secondary level.

At the function, Shafie also made a contribution of RM21,000 to help in the running of the school, which is using rented premises. The school's principal, Abdul Halim Ahmad, said the school was opened on Jun 16 and presently had 42 students with teaching being assisted by Malaysian students and the parents themselves.

He himself is also pursuing a doctorate course at Southampton University. (Bernama)

***** Perhaps this is the first step in 'exporting' the Malaysian education system to the world! (God save the world). By the way was the
RM21,000 contribution by Shafie from his own pocket or courtesy of the taxpayer?
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Drug Use On The Rise In British Soldiers : Ministry Of Defence

Eighteen British servicemen test positive for drug use each week, according to data from the Ministry of Defence.

Since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, the use of cocaine has trebled and the drug is now found in the majority of those soldiers who fail drugs tests.

More than 1,500 forces personnel (almost 1 per cent of soldiers in the Army) have tested positive for drugs since the beginning of 2006 -- 80 per cent of whom were using class A drugs -- according to figures from the Ministry's random drug testing programme.

The number of British Army personnel testing positive for drugs rose from 518 in 2003 to 769 in 2006 -- a 48 per cent increase.

Cocaine accounted for 423 failed tests, far ahead of cannabis (221) and Ecstasy (95).

However, addiction experts opined that soldiers who take drugs often use them to self-medicate and escape an ''uncomfortable and dangerous reality where death is ever present''.

''Soldiers are in a particularly difficult situation. We are talking about people going out to fight wars, and we have to be sympathetic to the immense stress that they are under,'' Robert Lefever, director of Promis, one of Britain's longest-established addiction treatment centres was quoted by the Independent as saying.

''There will be some who take drugs as a way of dealing with the pressures that they face, not simply to get high. Soldiers are having a bad time at the moment and deserve more support and understanding,'' he said.

According to the MoD, since the start of 2006 the Army has had 1,397 positive drug tests and the highest percentage of hard drugs (80 per cent), while only 88 Navy personnel have tested positive (76 per cent for class A drugs) and only 27 Royal Air Force personnel (67 per cent for class A drugs).

The tests are carried out while soldiers are back at base in the UK, Cyprus or Germany, and a failed test usually means instant dismissal from the forces.

An Defence Ministry spokesman said drug use in the armed services was far lower than in the population at large. (UNI)

***** So many have had to suffer their personal hell due to the folly of two men - Bush and Blair.
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Missing Single Night Of Sleep Enough To Harm Brain Of Even Healthy People

Missing a single night's sleep is enough to damage the brain of even healthy people, a study by scientists in the US has shown.

Sleep is the state of natural rest, which refreshes the body and the brain. It is already known that those who skip sleep regularly have both physical and mental health problems.

A new study by researchers from the University of California has found brain activity associated with mental illness in healthy people who missed a single night's sleep.

The researchers asked volunteers to miss a night's sleep and stay up until 5 p.m. the following day. Next, the scientists scanned their brains as the participants viewed gory images such as mutilated bodies or children with tumours.

The sleep-deprived group showed increased activity in the amygdala, an area of the brain involved in processing fear and other emotions, reported the online edition of the New Scientist.

The heightened activity is no surprise since there is a known link between tiredness and emotions.

But the amygdala appeared to be more active because connections with the prefrontal cortex - an area of the brain that normally damps the amygdala down - were disrupted.

Similar disruption is seen in patients with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, the researchers said. (DNA)
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Govt Promises Protection For Witnesses In Video Clip Probe," Says Pak Lah. Any Takers?

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the government will ask the police to ensure the safety of the people who come forward to assist in the probe into the video recording purportedly showing a lawyer on the phone trying to broker the appointment of judges.

The prime minister said that when the situation warranted some people to be protected, then the government would provide such protection. "The police will be asked to protect the witnesses," he told reporters.

Abdullah also said the government was actively looking into crafting a witness protection law. "It's up to the Attorney-General to determine this. The relevant bill has not yet reached the cabinet," he said.

On Monday, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) gave Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim until Thursday to hand over the original video clip. However, the ACA issued a statement on Thursday saying that Anwar had failed to turn in the clip.

Anwar has filed an application in the High Court here to set aside the order issued by the ACA.

On Sept 18, the ACA started its probe to assist the three-member special panel set up on Sept 27 to investigate the authenticity of the recording.

The panel comprises former Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye and former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar. (Bernama)

***** Given the type of confidence the average man on the street has in the cops, the ACA, the A-G as well as our esteemed politicians, one can bravely say that not a single person will take up the PM's generous offer.
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Muslim Inmates Sue British Jail Authorities On Being Served Ham Sandwiches

Muslim inmates at a prison in Britain are set to launch a multi-million pound claim for compensation against the jail authorities after they were offered ham sandwiches during the holy month of Ramadan.

More than 200 Muslim inmates at the jail are believed to have been offered meat which is strictly forbidden by Islam.

They said their human rights were breached when they were given a special nightly menu, containing the ham sandwiches, by officers at HMP Leeds last month.

The menu card was created specially for the month of Ramadan.

A Muslim inmate claimed, ''When I opened my meal that night I found I'd been given a ham sandwich. I'd asked for cheese. It was a breach of my human rights and I want compensation.'' Sixteen prisoners are launching legal action, demanding up to 10,000 pounds each in compensation.

The prison denied that any Muslim prisoners had been given ham sandwiches but admitted there had been a mistake when the menus were printed.

The Daily Mail quoted a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice as saying,''An inappropriate menu card was printed during Ramadan. This mistake was rectified immediately.'' (UNI)

***** There have been many unconfirmed stories about non-Muslims in this fair land of ours being served beef in hostels, at government-sponsored jamuan makan and even in prison. Do these people also have the right to sue the relevant authorities as
their human rights were breached too?
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Pak Lah's Administration Committed To Fighting Graft, Says Chief Secretary. Is This True?

The Malaysian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is bent on eradicating corruption, said Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan.

Mohd Sidek said that there were adequate laws in the country to combat the scourge but more needed to be done in terms of enforcement.

"Abdullah's administration will give added impetus to this (enforcement)," he told reporters after launching a guidebook for the hiring of expatriate workers, here today.

He said this when asked to comment about the sweep being made by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) on errant government officials and others pertaining to the abuse of government funds highlighted by the Auditor-General in his 2006 report.

The report contained a litany of abuses in government departments and agencies in procurement dealings resulting in losses in the millions for the government.

As of yesterday, 17 people mostly civil servants were detained by the ACA over the matter. Four of them have been charged in court for making false claims.

Mohd Sidek said such problems could be prevented at the source if the relevant personnel at the ministries and agencies concerned observed existing rules and regulations pertaining to procurement.

However, he said only a few "black sheep" out of the 1.2 million civil servants in the country were involved in such activities. (Bernama)

***** What a load of bullshit by
Mohd Sidek Hassan. Only a few 'black sheep' out of the 1.2 million civil servants are involved? And this guy is the Chief Secretary to the Government! The Lingamgate videoclip debacle as well as the many cases of the prosecution's impotence clearly tells a different story than the fairy tale being spun by the Chief Secretary. Perhaps he too like the Chief Justice is yearning for an extension of service after the expiry date?
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Friday, October 26, 2007

"Malaysia's Education System Proved To Be Among World's Best," Says Najib. Is This Really True?

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein's election to Unesco's executive board with the highest number of votes proves that Malaysia's education system is among the world's best. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this to Malaysian journalists at the end of his four-day visit to France before leaving for home via London.

He said Hishammuddin was the right candidate for the seat and his election lifted the country's image. It would also enable Malaysia to give greater contributions to the development of education system elsewhere, he said.

"I am very proud with this achievement. It proves that we have good products that have been recognised at the Unesco-level and the world," he said.

Malaysia was elected to Unesco's executive board after receiving 147 votes in the Asia-Pacific group at the organisation's 34th general conference here yesterday. Five other countries in the group elected were South Korea (139 votes), the Philippines (137), Sri Lanka (130), Mongolia (130) and Pakistan (106), out of nine contesting countries.

Hishammuddin was an early favourite among Unesco member countries now numbering 193.

Najib said that through Malaysia's election, the country would be able export the "winning formula" of its education system to other countries. He also expressed confidence in Hishammuddin and said that the education minister would be able to cooperate with his Unesco colleagues and uplift the country's image further throughout his 2008-2011 term.

Asked on urgent issues that need to be dealt with by Unesco, Najib said: "Ensuring education for all". "I see this as the most crucial because there are countries where only 30 per cent of their children go to school. If that is the case, the countries will face a bleak future and many serious problems," he said.

Najib said the successful Unesco bid capped a series of sterling achievements by Malaysia in a matter of days.

It started with the return of the country's first spaceman, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, from the International Space Station to earth on Sunday followed by the launch of Malaysia's first submarine in Cherbourg, France, on Tuesday.

"Praise be to God, Malaysia achieved three big feats in a short period of time," he said. (Bernama)

***** Oh boy! That's a whole load of hype with a capital 'H'. What has
Hishammuddin's election success got to do with our education system? At best it shows that we have very 'generous' lobbying skills. And Najib wants to export the "winning formula" of our education system to other countries! Does this mean that the minorities of some foreign lands are going to get the short end of the stick as is happening here?

Perhaps in the excitement of seeing his cousin winning the Unesco bid, the DPM got overwhelmed and spoke without thinking? No country should condemn half their citizens to fight for morsels while the other half enjoy the fruits of everyone's hard work. No other nation should impose such unfair and unjust rules which allow the undeserving to leisurely walk into their varsities while the straight-A achievers watch from the sidelines empty-handed.

To Unesco members, go ahead and elect our education ministers for life terms at Unesco if you wish, but please don't ever import or copy our system of educational apartheid. Your citizens deserve better.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

PM, DPM Praise Samy Vellu For Dedicated Service To Nation, People

The evocative glimpses into the past, contained in the book "Samy Vellu - As We Know Him", clearly and collectively depicts a man whose life has been dedicated to serving the nation and the people, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

In paying tribute to the MIC president and Works Minister, the Prime Minister said: "From the diverse set of personal perspective, we are able to intimately relate to the human side of the struggles, triumphs and achievements of one of the nation's longest-serving leaders.

"In this regard, this publication is indeed a testament in the way Datuk Seri Samy Vellu has touched the lives of many Malaysians," he said in his foreword in the coffee table book.

Abdullah said: "I have learnt much about my old friend and cabinet colleague of many years that I had previously not known. As it has been for me, I hope this book will interest all those who have in some way or another, crossed path with Datuk Seri Samy Vellu.

"More than anything this compilation indeed demonstrates the Malaysian spirit of a belief that in this land if we are prepared to sacrifice and commit to maximising our potential, we can achieve anything," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in his message, said "Samy Vellu - As We Know Him", was bound to take the reader back in time, not just 10 or 20 years, but as far back as 50 years, as it unveiled the personal and official stories of scores of people acquainted with Samy Vellu.

"The reader is entertained with accounts that are amazing and at times, amusing, as he or she is persuaded through pages and pages of text and rare photographs that cannot but invite nostalgia.

"One cannot escape identifying similarities as well as differences between the accounts in the book and those that have been one's own experience.

"While the book allows the reader to reminisce, it informs as well, as books are meant to," Najib said.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the book brings to the fore personal qualities of Samy Vellu which have helped him rise from humble beginnings to being an able and efficient leader that he is today in both politics and government. "These are traits that mirror a seasoned politician and senior Cabinet minister and are worth emulating by anyone who wants to climb the ladder of success," he added.

Compiled by Chitra Vasu, the book was launched today by Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim at Dewan Merdeka of Putra World Trade Centre.

The book, published by MPH Group Printing (M) Sdn Bhd, will be sold at RM140 a copy.

It contains 79 short stories of people from different life backgrounds of their first meeting with Samy Vellu while the rare pictures in the book are sourced from private collections of contributors. (Bernama)

***** Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
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UK Police Go Online To Warn Kids Of Social Website Dangers

UK police launched a website on Tuesday to warn children as young as eight about the dangers of putting their personal details on social networking sites such as MySpace and Bebo.

The site — THINKUKNOW CYBER CAFÉ — has an online cafe where children can learn about the dangers of revealing too much about themselves online. It warns them not to give away their real name, full address and mobile phone number and to think twice before posting their pictures.

The child exploitation and online protection centre, a police agency set up to tackle child sex abuse, said it receives about 10 reports each month relating to children aged between eight and 11.

"We want children to use the Internet," said CEOP chief executive Jim Gamble," but we want them to do it in a way that safeguards their time in the virtual world." (Times Of India)
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Tun Fairuz, Tengku Adnan Among Those Questioned By ACA. The Sandiwara Continues

The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has recorded statements from Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in connection with a controversial video clip.

ACA director-general Datuk Ahmad Said Hamdan said the ACA also recorded statements from eight other individuals to assist in its probe into the video clip showing a prominent lawyer allegedly brokering the appointment of top judges in the country. The statements were recorded before the Hari Raya.

"All the 10 had given good cooperation in this matter," he said tonight. "Now the ACA only needs the original unedited version of the video clip to facilitate the investigation."

Ahmad Said said that any individual including former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim with an original copy should deliver the video clip to the ACA. "Tomorrow, our officers will go to his (Anwar) office to take the original copy of the tape. If he fails to do so, action will be taken against him," he added.

Anwar has until tomorrow to hand over the original copy of the video clip, failing which he could be charged under Section 22 of the ACA Act which carries a fine of not more than RM10,000 or a jail term of not more than two years or both, upon conviction. (Bernama)

***** The lengths to which these stooges in the ACA will go to get hold of the original tape! If they manage to possess it then we can kiss it goodbye. Either the video clip will be 'misplaced' or 'accidentally' destroyed. Then life will go back to normal and semuanya will still be OK!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Women With Persistent Cough? Check Their Iron Levels

Instead of cough drops, some women may need to reach for an iron supplement to treat that pesky cough, Italian researchers said on Tuesday.

The study, presented at the scientific meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Chicago, suggests iron deficiency may help explain why some otherwise healthy, non-smoking women had persistent coughs.

Tests on women with chronic coughs and iron deficiency showed that a simple iron supplement often cleared up the cough, said Dr Caterina Bucca of the University of Turin and colleagues.

Bucca said women also are more likely than men to suffer from otherwise unexplained chronic coughs. "We put the two together," Bucca said in a telephone interview. "Cough is much more frequent in women and iron deficiency is very frequent in women due to pregnancy and menses." In addition, immune function can be affected by iron deficiency, which is defined as having low iron levels, sometimes to the point of anaemia.

Bucca and colleagues studied 16 women with chronic cough who were found to have normal lung function, with no signs of asthma or other respiratory disease and no evidence of acid stomach reflux that could explain their coughing.

All had iron deficiencies. And they all had signs of swelling in the back of the mouth and red, inflamed mucous membranes. Their vocal cords were also very sensitive, making them cough and choke easily, such as after vigorous laughing.

Bucca gave these women iron supplements to improve their iron stores. When these had normalised - after about two months - they were checked again. After iron supplementation, coughing and signs of inflammation in the mouth and vocal cords were improved or completely resolved. "I found the hypersensitivity was nearly gone or vastly improved in all of the women," Bucca said.

Because iron helps regulate the production of proteins in the immune system that control inflammation, an iron deficiency might make the upper airway more prone to inflammation, leading to this chronic cough, Bucca reasoned. She plans to study this association further, but she urges doctors who are stumped by women patients with chronic coughs to check for iron deficiency. (Julie Steenhuysen, Independent Online)
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Malaysia's Angkasawan Aspires To Return To ISS As Commander

Malaysia's first angkasawan Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha aspires to return to the International Space Station (ISS) as a mission commander in future. Still missing life on the ISS, he also hopes to be there longer.

"I have been telling myself that I want to return to the ISS for six months and hoping that it will be as its commander. God willing, I will prove that I can do it," he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama's Radio 24 today.

He said that his success in completing the space mission proved he was serious in wanting to fulfill his responsibilities as a Malaysian. He said that he now felt free after having successfully fulfilled the huge responsibilities entrusted on him. "I realised it was a huge responsibility for me and I am very grateful for having performed it well," he said in the interview from the post-space mission quarantine centre in Star City, Moscow.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will be at the quarantine centre for between 10 days and two weeks for health monitoring before he can be allowed to come home. He, however, is very grateful that throughout the space mission, he did not have any health problems and attributed his healthy condition to the Malaysians who prayed for him.

On the challenges facing him during the mission, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said the biggest challenge was to carry out the experiments which had been entrusted on him. "I realised the experiments like the one of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was crucial because the scientists had worked very hard for two years on it ... and I did the best possible," he added.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar also said that he took the space mission seriously and not for fun. "It was not for fun or merely to travel to space. To me, it was crucial to show the whole world that we, Malaysians, are capable of doing things like this," he said.

He said that he also felt elated and proud to be given the trust by the European Space Agency (ESA) to repair its equipment at the ISS.

"It was indeed a great honour that the ESA placed its trust in a Malaysian angkasawan to do the job," said the orthopaedic surgeon. In the interview, which lasted for almost an hour, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was also asked on NASA's action in not recognising him as an angkasawan but only as a space flight participant.

"To me, regardless whether NASA called me a space flight participant or by any other name, what is important is that I'm recognised as an angkasawan by all Malaysians.

"Likewise the Russians, they recognised me as a Cosmonaut Researcher. This is important because I did the training with them and only they know what we (he and Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed (Malaysia's back up angkasawan) went through and how serious we were to accomplish the mission," he said.

He, however, said that the training they went through was different than the one required by space tourists, whose training was only for six months.

"Perhaps, I should also prove to them (NASA) that I am capable of doing the best. Hopefully, after this I will get to go to space longer, perhaps six months and be given the opportunity to work with NASA and to prove to them that we are as good their astronauts," he said.

Meanwhile, recalling the experience during landing in the Soyuz TMA-10 capsule, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said he felt difficulty breathing and his chest felt like an elephant stepping on it. "It felt like an elephant stepping on your chest... it pressed on your chest so hard that you felt like you were not able to breathe and uncomfortable. But we had been taught to breathe through our abdomen and release the air through the chest, the training saved us," he added.

During the interview, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar also took the opportunity to thank all Malaysians for their prayers and hoped Malaysia would produce more angkasawan and scientists in future. He also hoped that Malaysia would make further inroads in aerospace development and produce its own rocket for a space mission. (Bernama)

***** Syabas Dr Muszaphar. May your successfully completed mission be the beginning of a new era in Malaysia's space journey. Ignore the envious ones who tried to find fault every step of the way and pathetically attempted to belittle the entire space trip.

True, that the circumstances surrounding the conception of our space programme, especially the defence deal with Russia regarding the purchase of MIG fighter jets, leaves many questions unanswered. But that has nothing to do with you or future angkasawans. You now serve as a shining example of what we can achieve and will be an inspiration for those determined to excel.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Najib Confident, Cousin Hishammuddin Has Support From Other Nations In UNESCO Executive Board Bid

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is confident that Malaysia will sit on the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) which is holding its 34th conference here.

He said his confidence stemmed from the support expressed by several representatives from other nations to Unesco for Malaysia's candidate to the board, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

"The response to our reception held here was good. God willing, we have a good chance of sitting on the Unesco Executive Board," he told Malaysian reporters here today.

Earlier, Najib who arrived here for a four-day official visit to France, attended a special reception hosted by Hishammuddin at the Unesco building.

The function, which was also attended by several Unesco representatives, was held partly as a mark of support from Najib for Hishammuddin in seeking election to the 58-member Executive Board at the international body's biennial conference.

The conference is scheduled to select the board members tomorrow for a four-year term.

Najib said Malaysia's edge was its wide influence, resulting in several of the Unesco representatives seeing it as an exporter of education. "This means that we have not only managed to develop our education system to a commendable level, but we have also managed to export our expertise and assistance to other nations.

"This also means that we should be sitting on the Unesco Executive Board as we can contribute meaningfully to the world. We are not just a recipient but a contributor as well," he added.

Since becoming a member of Unesco in 1958, the last time Malaysia was represented in the Executive Board was in 1999, by Najib who was then the Education Minister.

Earlier when speaking at the reception, Najib was given a thunderous applause by the foreign guests when he said that Malaysia had allocated 20 per cent or RM30 billion from the national budget for education. The Unesco representatives present were also attracted by Najib's statement that although he was Defence Minister, he would always ensure that the budget for education was higher than that for enhancing Malaysia's defence system.

Asked on his meeting with French Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-Development, Brice Hortefeux, soon after arriving here, Najib said it was aimed at enhancing relations between the two countries. "We discussed things in general. He (Hortefeux) viewed Malaysia positively after having represented his country at Malaysia's 50th independence celebrations recently."

Najib said at the meeting, both countries also agreed to strengthen existing cordial bilateral ties while encouraging cooperation in new areas other than education, defence, trade and tourism. Najib is expected to call on the French Defence Minister Herve Morin during his visit here. Malaysia has diplomatic relations with France since July, 1958.

Najib will leave for Kuala Lumpur via London on Thursday. (Bernama)

***** One cousin travels thousands of kilometers to Paris to sokong the other, who in return hosts a 'special reception' there in honour of the first. All at government expense I presume.
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In Malaysia, Foreign Investment Rebounds But Local Capital Is Leaving

Malaysia is celebrating a big rebound in foreign direct investment into the country, but the real news is that local capital is leaving just as fast.

Local businesses, including many oil companies flush with cash, are investing offshore like never before - a trend that showed up in startling UN investment figures issued last week.

The trend is already making itself felt in monetary policy and could hasten reform of corporate Malaysia, analysts say. In time, it could even expose the country's affirmative-action policy to stronger winds of reform.

The data showed that inflows to Malaysia rebounded in 2006 to a 10-year high of just over $6 billion after years of dwindling investment. The real surprise, though, was that outflows equaled them, with the highest total since UN records started in 1980.

And it is not a statistical blip: After more than 20 years of averaging about $1.3 billion in annual outgoing direct investment, outflows began to steadily pick up in 2003, according to data collated by the UN Conference on Trade and Development. "I think the business case is very, very compelling," said Eric Fishwick, deputy chief economist with the investment bank CSLA, referring to the rise in offshore investment by Malaysian firms.

He said Malaysia was still a relatively state-directed economy, which "just increases the incentive to look overseas and the incentive to raise your returns."

Malaysia's maturing economy offers smaller returns than some other, racier emerging markets like neighboring Vietnam, but economists say this is nothing new. The real change, they add, is that the government now encourages many companies to go offshore.

The state-linked corporate sector, which once grazed happily at home, is now being pushed offshore by the state-owned investment group Khazanah, which has begun to emulate its Singapore counterpart, Temasek, in building up a large overseas portfolio.

Khazanah has invested about $1.7 billion overseas since May 2004, more than a quarter of its total investment in the period. That is in addition to investments made by its stable of firms. One of them, Telekom Malaysia, has bought businesses from India and Sri Lanka to Indonesia and Cambodia. Another, CIMB bank, is buying up offshore banks.

Oil-and-gas companies, state-linked and privately owned, are also expanding amid a boom in global oil exploration - and often following in the wake of the state-owned oil company Petronas as it expands in Asia and enters new markets like Africa and Russia.

"Our competitors not only operate locally in Malaysia but globally as well. So for us to remain competitive, we too must work hard to grow our market share," said Chan Cheu Leong, chief executive of the oil-services firm Wah Seong, which nows draws 70 percent of its revenue from offshore.

But what are the consequences of this rush to send money overseas for an economy traditionally geared to receive it?

Malaysia has for many years curbed the strength of its currency to help exporters and encourage inward investment, but authorities appeared to adopt a more flexible stance early this year, saying it favored a steady appreciation in the ringgit.

A stronger ringgit is further encouragement to invest abroad but, says the CSLA economist Fishwick, outward flows also serve as a hedge against a rise of inflows and an overheated currency - something the central bank refers to as healthy "two-way flows."

The push overseas could help transform corporate Malaysia, especially in the case of state-linked firms, as it adapts to more cut-throat competition in the global marketplace.

It could also put more pressure on the government to rationalize its own investment policies, such as affirmative action, said a Western diplomat specializing in economics.

Under affirmative action, businesses owned by ethnic Malays are given preference for state contracts. Overall, listed firms are required to be owned 30 percent by so-called Bumiputras ("sons of the soil"), who are Malays or indigenous people.

Critics say the policy has created an elite of rich Malays and failed to close the wealth gap between Malays in general and the ethnic Chinese minority, which still dominates business.

Opposition parties blame it for both driving ethnic Chinese capital overseas and turning off foreign investors. Despite the jump in inward investment last year, UN data showed that Malaysia had only improved its global ranking by two rungs to 64. In terms of outward investment, its ranking jumped eight rungs to 22.

"Why not rationalize your own investment policies to match the kinds of policies your own investors are responding to?" the Western diplomat said, noting that local firms were responding to bigger opportunities in less restricted markets offshore. "That's the driving economic motivator behind all of this," he said. (Mark Bendeich, International Herald Tribune)
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"Every BN Govt Decision Made For Good Of All Races," Says PM. Is This True?

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today the Barisan Nasional (BN) government always ensured that implementation of development was balanced in accordance with the National Mission approach.

"We want all areas in the country to experience development brought by the BN government, whether they are traditional villages, new villages or estates. These areas should also be given attention and enjoy development. No area will remain idle," he said when addressing a meet-the-people session at the convention centre here.

The prime minister said the BN government appreciated the close cooperation extended by the people and it would go to great lengths to develop Malaysia into a progressive, peaceful and safe country for the people of all races and the future generations.

As such, he said, every decision of the BN government in developing the country was made for the good of all the races and for them to enjoy the benefits together.

"The practice in the BN is to conduct discussions with sincerity. All have one aim, which is for the good of the country and all the people. That is our approach," he said.

"We do not want any community to face problems. The problem of one community is a national problem. What we undertake is for all the people, who will all enjoy progress equally," he said. (Bernama)

***** What the PM says is very nice to hear and while there is sincerity in his words does it really reflect the situation on the ground? The way that umnoputeras are lording it over the others, the unjust implementation of policies by racist civil servants as well as the shameless playing to the gallery by Umno politicians gives little hope for equitable treatment of all the ethnic groups here. If the government genuinely wants to demonstrate its claim of equal progress for all, then the first step is to dismantle the NEP. Now THAT will be a convincing display of sincerity and not mere lip service prior to general elections.
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Monday, October 22, 2007

Britain Leaves Asylum Seekers To Starve, Shows No Sympathy

Britain has no sympathy for asylum seekers as thousands of them spend years living in abject poverty on the streets of the English country after fleeing persecution in their own countries, an independent asylum inquiry has heard.

Senior lawyers, doctors and immigration officials told a former High Court judge and the Independent Asylum Commission chairman Sir John Waite that asylum seekers have no access to help from the state as they have not been granted asylum, yet they prefer to stay in Britain rather than return home because of the fear of being tortured or killed.

They claimed before the inquiry, which will report to the government next year, that such destitution is being used by the British Government as a policy in an attempt to force desperate people out of the country.

At least 280,000 people are living in poverty in Britain after having their leave to remain refused. Some of them are appealing those decisions. Some just go completely underground, taking their chances on the streets of the UK with no money or shelter, the Independent reported.

Only a few have access to the health care that UN legislation said they have a right to.

Sir John Waite said, ''I think it's a serious omission that we haven't looked earlier at this very pressing problem.

There is a significant element of the population subsisting while awaiting hearings or asylum claims, especially after rejection. And some of them are suffering serious hardship either because they don't understand the system or because the system fails them.'' The Commission met last week in Manchester to hear evidence from immigration experts as well as direct testimonies from those who had experienced the struggle of surviving in the UK first-hand.

Financial support is cut off after 21 days for those without children whose asylum case has been rejected. Immigration experts have called this a ''deliberate tool'' to rush people out of the country, often before enough evidence has been collated to ensure the safety of their return.

Chief Executive of Refugee Action Sandy Buchan condemned the country's treatment of failed asylum seekers.

''It seems the Government is using destitution as an instrument of policy. It's very much a deliberate tool of government. It's morally unacceptable to force people into utter destitution, and the most desperate and degrading circumstances when people are frightened of what awaits them when they return home,'' he said, adding that destitution is an unworkable policy that has completely failed to deliver on its objectives. (UNI)
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Anwar Faces Jail Threat For Protecting Source

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Monday he was warned to either reveal the whistle-blower behind a video tape alleging judicial corruption or risk prosecution.

Anwar accused the government of trying to delay a proper investigation and to divert public attention from the allegations of judicial misconduct raised by the video.

In a statement, Anwar asked why the Anti-Corruption Agency was more concerned about conducting a "witch hunt" for the person who made the tape than investigating the actual allegations.

Last month, Anwar released the video clip in which a prominent lawyer is allegedly taped brokering the appointment of top judges in 2002.

However, he only showed eight minutes of the original 14-minute video footage and refused to release the remainder to protect the identity of the man who secretly took the video at the lawyer's house with his mobile phone.

Anwar said Anti-Corruption Agency officials quizzed him on Monday for a second time in three weeks and ordered him to surrender the original complete video footage by Thursday or face prosecution. Anwar's statement said he remained concerned for the safety of the whistle-blower if the rest of the tape is released.

The video shows the lawyer talking on his mobile phone to a person identified as a senior judge. The lawyer allegedly talks about how he helped get the judge appointed to his current post and discusses plans to elevate him further with the help of a tycoon and a senior politician.

The government has said it is willing to offer witness protection, including plastic surgery and a new identity, to lure the whistle-blower to come forward. It has appointed an independent panel to investigate the authenticity of the video, but activists say the panel lacks sufficient power and should expand its probe to look into the conduct of judges.

Judges are appointed by the king on the prime minister's recommendation. Rights groups and lawyers have called for an impartial commission to oversee the appointments. (International Herald Tribune)

***** Persons who expose corruption and wrongdoing are hunted down. Those who commit crimes are roaming free and with 'respect'. 'Independent' investigation panels have no power to investigate. Agencies which thus far have had no balls, like the ACA, have suddenly developed extra testes. And we consider our country a democracy! Malaysia Boleh!
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U.S. - We Will Not Allow Iran To Have A Nuclear Weapon

The United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, US Vice President Dick Cheney said.

"Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfils its grandest ambitions,'' Cheney said in a speech Sunday to the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.

He said Iran's efforts to pursue technology that would allow it to build a nuclear weapon are obvious and that "the regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time.''

If Iran continues on its current course, Cheney said the US and other nations are "prepared to impose serious consequences.'' The vice president made no specific reference to military action.

"We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,'' he said. Cheney's words seemed to only escalate the US rhetoric against Iran over the past several days, including President George W. Bush's warning that a nuclear Iran could lead to "World War III.''

Cheney said the ultimate goal of the Iranian leadership is to establish itself as the hegemonic force in the Middle East and undermine a free Shiite-majority Iraq as a rival for influence in the Muslim world. Iran's government seeks "to keep Iraq in a state of weakness to ensure Baghdad does not pose a threat to Tehran,'' Cheney said.

While he was critical of the Iranian government and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, he offered praise and words of solidarity to the Iranian people. Iran "is a place of unlimited potential ... and it has the right to be free of tyranny,'' Cheney said.

Cheney accused of Iran of having a direct role in the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq and said the government has "solidified its grip on the country'' since coming to power in the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah.

The US and some allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and have demanded it halt uranium enrichment, an important step in the production of atomic weapons. Oil-rich Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes including generating electricity.

At a news conference Wednesday, Bush suggested that if Iran obtained nuclear weapons, it could lead to a new world war. "I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,'' Bush said.

Bush's spokeswoman later said the president was making not making any war plans but rather "a rhetorical point.''

Also, on Thursday, the top officer in the US military said the US has the resources to attack Iran if needed despite the strains of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said striking Iran is a last resort, and the focus now is on diplomacy to stem Iran's nuclear ambitions, but "there is more than enough reserve to respond'' militarily if need be.

The Bush administration's intentions toward Iran have been the subject of debate in Congress. Last month the Senate approved a resolution urging the State Department to label Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat, said he feared the measure could be interpreted as authorizing a military strike in Iran, calling it Cheney's "fondest pipe dream.'' (The Times Of India)

***** I remember years ago when the late Pakistani military dictator Zia-ul-Haq was in power. He once asked why was it that when the US explodes a nuclear device it is called an American bomb. Similarly a Chinese or Indian nuclear weapon is known as a Chinese or Indian bomb, but a Pakistan made nuclear device is always referred to as an Islamic bomb. He had a point, didn't he?
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