Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Civil Service Retirement Age To Be Raised To 58

The government is set to raise the retirement age for civil servants to 58 years from the present 56 in response to a proposal by the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs), sources familiar with the matter said.

The decision to raise the retirement age had already been finalised by the government and an announcement would be made very soon, a source told The Edge Financial Daily.

Cuepacs president Omar Osman, however, said the union was unaware of any such decision and had not heard anything from the government since its last meeting earlier this month.

Earlier this month, Cuepacs said the government had agreed to consider several of its requests, including raising the retirement age limit to 60, scrapping the efficiency level assessment test, reinstatement of critical and housing allowance for the support group and pension payments to be based on actual years of service.

Cuepacs had also asked for an honorarium payment of RM2,000 for each government employee in lieu of non-payment of bonus last year, but this was rejected by the government.

Malaysia is the only country in Southeast Asia, apart from Brunei, where the retirement age is 56. In neighbouring Singapore, the retirement age is 62.

RAM Holdings Bhd chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said there was a need to extend the retirement age in Malaysia to be in line with international standards and demographic trends. “Life span has increased now with modern healthcare. The increase in the retirement age could also reduce the need to recruit new workers in certain sectors which are over-employed,” he said when asked to comment on the government’s decision. Nonetheless, he said those who wanted to retire voluntarily must be allowed to do so.

He said a decision to increase the retirement age would particularly benefit services like local authorities, the police force and medical care that now faced acute shortage of experienced personnel.

Yeah said for the sectors where there was a shortage of skilled and experienced workers, this would be an opportune time to increase productivity and for the older workers to share their wealth of knowledge.

“But there has to be a balance in terms of retaining skilled or experienced workforce versus the increase in expenditure outlay. As long as productivity of the worker is maintained, raising the age and the related expenditure would be justified,” he said.

Yeah said several other factors were also crucial in extending the retirement age, particularly with regards to workers whose productivity was suspect.

There must be proper evaluation to weed out the deadwood. Also, extending the retirement age means that those in line for promotion might have to wait longer,” he said.

Yeah said a decision by the government to raise the retirement age limit for the civil service would have no bearing on the private sector as each dealt with different skill sets. (The Edge Daily)
***** While it is good for those sectors which are considered crucial and where there is a chronic shortage of staff, it is the extension for the useless deadwood who pervade the entire public service that is worrying. The government should include a compulsory early retirement provision whereby those who are unproductive, spend more time in the canteen or generally of no bloody use are sent packing years before they reach the age of retirement. And the government should exercise this option ruthlessly.

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Opposition Flexes Muscles As Malaysia Parliament Descends Into Chaos, Insults And Jeers

Malaysia's resurgent opposition flexed its new found muscles Wednesday, disrupting Parliament's first business session with noisy arguments as lawmakers from both sides traded insults and jeers. The record 82 opposition lawmakers who were elected to the 222-member Parliament in the March 8 elections shouted down, in one voice, ruling National Front coalition lawmakers in an argument over a technicality.

Karpal Singh, from the opposition Democratic Action Party, called National Front member Bung Mokhtar Radin a 'Bigfoot' who retaliated by calling Singh a 'Big Monkey'.
"This is not meant to be a shouting match!" yelled Speaker Pandikan Amin Mulia, trying to calm the screaming rival partisans who rose up to vociferously support Singh or Bung Mokhtar.
The chaotic scenes were shown live on national television, the first time proceedings are being broadcast, albeit only the first 30 minutes every day. The scenes looked more like the often-rambunctious parliament sessions of India or Taiwan rather than the sedate meetings that Malaysia has been used to for the last 51 years.
However, things have changed with 82 opposition members now in the house, compared to the 19 previously who had allowed the ruling National Front to operate without any fear of being shouted down.
Tuesday's pandemonium broke out as soon as the speaker opened the floor to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the question and answer session. Opposition members objected, saying most of the first questions had been allotted to National Front lawmakers.
Most of the first hour was a shouting match with Abdullah managing to answer only one question on race issues.
"This is a mockery of Parliament," said opposition Democratic Action Party leader Lim Kit Siang, a colleague of Singh. "There is a conspiracy to silence the voice of the 82 opposition parliamentarians."
"All Malaysians have focused their attention on this Parliament but many of you focus on pointless matters. You should be gentlemen and ladies who debate things that matter, not technicalities," said Pandikan Amin, the Parliament speaker.
The chaos got worse when Pandikan Amin refused to allow the opposition to ask the prime minister for follow-up explanations to his answer. (
***** Let the pandemonium begin.


Voters Will Permanently Support Pakatan Rakyat If It Works For The People & Governs Well, Says Dr M

The decision by former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon to accept a job under the Penang DAP Government should not be taken lightly by Barisan Nasional if it wishes to survive and regain the people’s support, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former prime minister said in a letter that Lee might be motivated by a genuine desire to work for the good of Penang and Malaysia but, “it may also be because loyalty to Barisan is now based on personal gains or fear of punishment of some kind.”

He said this was especially so among the leaders and there was no genuine love for the objectives said to be the raison d’etre for the coalition’s existence.

Dr Mahathir added that if the Opposition were able to provide a good government, look after the interests of ordinary people, and lead a spartan lifestyle, those who voted for them out of anger against Barisan would transfer their loyalty permanently to them.

When that happens, he said Umno and the other component parties could forget about recapturing the states they lost to the Opposition and their turncoat members would remain turncoats who would actively work against Barisan in the next elections.

“To lose once is bad but to lose a second time is an unmitigated disaster,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said unless drastic action was taken now there would not be enough time to rehabilitate Umno and all the other component parties for the next general election. (The Star)

***** In essence what Dr Mahathir is saying is that if Pakatan Rakyat does the opposite of what the corrupt Umno-led government has been doing all this while, then the BN can kiss goodbye to ruling Malaysia again.

It is evident that Dr M knows very well that the BN, especially Umno has not been doing things right when he says "if the Opposition were able to provide a good government, look after the interests of ordinary people, and lead a spartan lifestyle, those who voted for them out of anger against Barisan would transfer their loyalty permanently to them."

But do you think that by advocating 'drastic action' he will support good governance? Doubtful. He and the majority of the Umno leadership are yearning to get back to the bad old days of Mahathir-style dictatorship with its inherent corruption, cronyism, racism and extreme intolerance to free speech and the practise of the true tenets of democracy.

At this current turbulent moment in Malaysian politics, Dr Mahathir represents one of the greatest dangers to the welfare, unity and stability of Malaysia. It cannot be denied that at one point in our history he was considered a great leader, but that era has passed and in retrospect while he enhanced his international image and oversaw the rapid industrialisation of the country, he was also largely responsible for seriously damaging our democratic institutions.

What Dr Mahathir is passionately fighting for now is NOT for the interests of the average Malaysian but for that of the Umno politicians, cronies and hangers-on. His time in the Malaysian sun is over and we should not inadvertently do anything to contribute to his resurgence even via the backdoor. It is in our interest to do our utmost in firmly ushering him into political oblivion where all dictators finally rest and regret.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Khir Toyol's Temple Destruction Story - Samy Vellu Tells Toyol To Stop Playing Politics

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has told former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo to stop making baseless accusations as the reasons for the Barisan Nasional's loss of the state in the general election last month.

"He has said that I gave him the go-ahead to demolish a Hindu temple (at Kampung Rimba Jaya, near Shah Alam) on Nov 15. I wish to clarify that the temple was demolished in mid-October.

"Why didn't he mention that I was the one who pleaded to him and the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) to stop the original planned demolition of the said temple. Don't blame others for your own folly and arrogance," Samy Vellu, the former Works Minister, said in a statement here Tuesday.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, an Internet-based news portal, Khir claimed that Samy Vellu had instructed him to demolish the temple as it was used for gatherings of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) supporters.

"Samy Vellu called me on the night of Nov 15 and told me that the Hindraf people had infiltrated the temple and that it must be demolished that night itself," alleged Khir, who was Selangor menteri besar at the time.

"But the temple had already been demolished, with the deities already removed by the end of October and what is there to demolish anyway and why would I ask for a temple which has already been demolished to be demolished again," Samy Vellu retorted Tuesday.

He said Dr Khir should stop looking for scapegoats for the loss of the state to the opposition and take responsibility for "chasing away Indian votes from the BN".

"My request to him is to stop talking about all this and let us rebuild the BN and the component parties to get back the support of the people," he said, adding that he had great respect for Dr Khir's ability as a leader who had really turned around Selangor as a major developing state.

Meanwhile, MIC Information Chief Datuk M. Saravanan, who is also Federal Territories Deputy Minister, was more vocal against Dr Khir, telling the former menteri besar to stop making baseless accusations just to escape responsibility.

"We all know ... the whole world knows how Samy Vellu wanted to stop the demolition of the temple. We are not blind. He pleaded and pleaded but at that time the former menteri besar just refused to listen, not only to the MIC president but also to the prime minister.

"We wanted the demolition deferred but did he listen? He thought Indians were pushovers. He did not give it a second thought. If Samy Vellu has so much power that he could order the demolition of a temple, then why didn't Dr Khir listen to Samy Vellu when Samy Vellu wanted the planned demolition stopped in the first place," said Saravanan.

He said Dr Khir should first apologise to Indians in Selangor for his arrogance while in power and for treating the community as second-class citizens of the country during his tenure as menteri besar.

"We have it on record. Just look at the Tamil Nesan of Oct 31. In a statement, Dr Khir had said that he could not save the temple from being demolished because of a court order ... now he says Samy Vellu instructed him to do so," he said.

Having served as menteri besar of a state which has a multiracial electorate, Saravanan said, Dr Khir should have been more cautious in handling issues which involved race and religion but the former menteri besar was not so during his tenure.

He also told Dr Khir to stop dwelling on issues of the past and justify the wrongs of the past which he said were now haunting him.

Dr Khir had been blamed for the controversial demolition of the Kampung Rimba Jaya Hindu temple in Shah Alam, which caused Indian voters to turn their backs on the BN in the general election.

The incident has been cited by both opposition and BN members as a key factor in influencing the outcome of the March 8 polls.

The BN and Umno took the brunt of the voters' anger over this and other issues, resulting in the state government falling into opposition hands for the first time in election history. Dr Khir then resigned as Selangor Umno chief, and is now leader of the opposition in the state legislative assembly.

"My advice to him would be for him to start afresh. Only we know the damage caused by Dr Khir because of his arrogance. We are the ones facing Indian voters day in, day out. He can talk, he can blame (anyone) but at the end of the day, the community looks at us for answers," said Saravanan. (Bernama)

***** On reading the report about Toyol's accusation I had a feeling that the Toyol's version of the temple demolition didn't quite add up. Samy Vellu's strong rebuttal merely proves it.

It is so difficult to believe that an arrogant umnoputera like Toyol could be ordered around by Semi Value. Either there is something seriously wrong with Toyol's memory or he is trying to push the responsibility for Selangor's humiliating defeat to others, while at the same time hoping to divert the focus of attention from the Balkis debacle by creating a new controversy.

When is the ACA going to get off its butt and investigate the Toyol couple?

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Publish Names Of Students Awarded PSD Scholarships, Says MIC Youth

MIC Youth has urged the Public Service Department (PSD) to publish the names of students who were being given scholarships to ensure transparency.

Youth chief S.A. Vigneswaran claimed there were complaints that PSD scholarships were being given to students whose parents had “connections” with politicians or who were wealthy.

“The PSD should publish the names of the students as well as the parents, so that there is transparency in the awarding of scholarships,” he said on Monday, adding that students from poor families should be given priority. (The Star)

***** One of the best suggestions to come from the MIC in decades. What a welcome change fr0m the fawning pro-Umno praises of the pre-March 8 election days.

Firstly the cash given out as scholarships comes from the people, including and especially the taxpayers. The hundreds of millions doled out as scholarships do not belong to the officers sitting pretty at the PSD or the Umno pemimpin at Putrajaya. It is our money and we have the right to demand why, how and on whom it is being spent.

Releasing the complete list of names of those who have been awarded these scholarships is the least that the butt-warming pegawai2 in PSD can do. Either they should comply with the call by MIC Youth or face the risk of a court order compelling the information be made public. The days of distributing largesse secretly to undeserving candidates, cronies and their kids and Umno supporters is pretty much over.

Many have blamed Pak Lah and arrogant Umno leaders for the BN's loss at the last elections. Another big contributor to the groundswell of hatred for the ruling party and the government is the racist, corrupt and apathetic civil servant.

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Abdullah Risks Umno's 51-Year Grip On Malaysia By Staying Put

If Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is politically doomed, he isn't acting like it.

Abdullah has come under pressure to step down since he last month led the United Malays National Organisation and its coalition partners to the smallest electoral victory since independence in 1957. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is seeking to court enough lawmakers to topple the government; Mahathir Mohamad, who hand-picked Abdullah as his successor after serving 22 years as prime minister, is leading calls for his ouster to protect UMNO's half-century grip on power.

Abdullah says he plans to stay put at least until party elections in December, fighting his detractors with policies to bolster popular support including larger gasoline subsidies for the poor and a new anti-corruption commission.

"What Abdullah is trying to do is buy a little bit more time,'' said Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, professor of politics at Universiti Utara Malaysia. "At best, he can delay his downfall.''

The coalition lost its two-thirds majority in the March 8 election for the first time since 1969, after which the government passed laws giving the ethnic Malay majority preferential treatment for college places, jobs and housing. Anwar, 60, focused his campaign on scrapping that system, which he says encourages corruption.

The race-based rules were introduced to help Malays catch up with ethnic Chinese business owners. Abdullah, 68, said last month the government will continue policies to close the gap.

Anwar's Candidacy

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was jailed on corruption charges he denied, led a three-party alliance to victory in five of Malaysia's 13 states. He plans to run for a seat in parliament now that a ban resulting from his jail sentence has expired.

"I can't see how UMNO can save itself,'' said Abdul Aziz Bari, a professor at the International Islamic University Malaysia. Abdullah "can't afford to delay'' his resignation, he said. "The writing's on the wall.''

Anwar's People's Alliance already scrapped racial quotas for tenders in states it controls. Under the current system, public universities give Malays easier entry than Chinese and Indians. Companies must also sell 30 percent of their shares to Malays and disclose how many they employ if they list on the stock market.

Najib Razak

Najib Razak, Abdullah's deputy, has stood by his boss and worked with him on the policy response. Najib, 54, said this month he has seen no signs that Anwar can tempt lawmakers to switch camps.

Abdullah's policy pledges "should have been carried out four years ago when he received the people's mandate to fight corruption,'' Anwar's People's Justice Party said in an April 22 statement. Abdullah won a landslide election victory in 2004.

His multiparty National Front coalition already faces declining support from Chinese and Indian minorities upset by the preference system.

Investment projects and business confidence in Malaysia have stalled since the election. The key stock index slumped the most in a decade on the first trading day after the result, and is down 15 percent from a January record.

In Penang, a west Malaysian state that fell to the opposition, the construction of a second bridge to the island has been delayed by nine months, state-run contractor UEM Builders Bhd. said this month.

Train Delay

The government also dropped a proposed 8 billion-ringgit ($2.5 billion) high-speed rail link to Singapore, state news service Bernama said April 23. Abdullah said last week that many projects are under review.

"Investors are cautious because it appears power is draining away from Abdullah by the day,'' said Song Seng-Wun, an economist at CIMB-GK Research in Singapore.

Mahathir started trying to remove Abdullah in 2006, accusing him of achieving nothing since taking office three years earlier. Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Abdullah should step down as UMNO head for the good of the party, Bernama reported April 13.

Party rules that Mahathir introduced require 30 percent of UMNO's 191 regional party offices to back a leadership change. That's a hurdle Abdullah's only public challenger to date, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, may struggle to clear, Aziz said.

Hard to Oust

In an April 4 speech, Razaleigh, a former finance minister, urged UMNO members to hold a special meeting to address what he called an "emergency'' in the party. "What we lack is leadership,'' Razaleigh said.

Abdullah's most immediate challenge is the prospect of a no- confidence vote in the new parliament, which convenes today.

"We opposition parties on our own won't have a big enough voice,'' said Lim Kit Siang, a lawmaker for the Democratic Action Party, part of Anwar's alliance. "We can move a motion, anyone can do so, but to get that vote on our own will be a problem.''

A more likely scenario is for disgruntled coalition lawmakers to abstain from voting on a minor bill, allowing the government to be defeated, said Andrew Aeria, a political analyst for Enterprise LSE, the commercial arm of the London School of Economics.

"If this happens, Abdullah's position would be untenable,'' Aeria said. The opposition could then bide its time before offering to "save the country,'' he said. (By Douglas Wong and Angus Whitley, Bloomberg)

***** The PM's decision to hang on to power may be bad for the racist ruling party, but in the interest of the nation and for continous racial harmony and peace, Pak Lah should stay on and God willing, oversee the demise of Umno. That'll be the biggest contribution he can make for the future of our country. We shall all be eternally grateful to him.

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Malaysian Government Must Recognise Sarawak Indigenous People’s Land Rights

The International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) for Indigenous Peoples'' Land Rights has demanded that the continued arrest of indigenous community leaders by the police, acting in collusion with plantation companies in Sarawak must stop immediately.

The recent arrests of five community leaders in the Kg. Wawasan area with trumped up charges organized by the company with the support of the police reflects the high handedness in which plantation companies violate the native customary rights to land by the indigenous communities.

The International fact finding team consisting of Justice Pana Chand Jain of Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON) from India, Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk of Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) from Thailand and Debra Erenberg of Rainforest Action Network (RAN) from the United States visited over 19 communities consisting of 70 villages and long houses and met with about 825 people from the north to central and south of Sarawak and found that there was continued and systemic organized aggression on indigenous peoples land and rights.

The IFFM team established through interviews with the people, through documented evidence provided by the people and through evidence found in the form of graves, fruit trees and cultivated land that the land areas claimed by the people are native customary rights to land (NCR). There is a pre-existing right.

The team is of the opinion that since the lands are native customary lands through continuous customary practices of cultivation for generations, the land cannot be taken away from the indigenous peoples by the state government nor be leased out to private companies for plantations. This strategy and action constitutes gross violation of indigenous peoples’ rights to NCR land.

The Sarawak Land Code [CAP81] clearly recognizes the NCR lands and has defined the elements that give recognition to native customary rights to land. Further to this the Federal Court decision of Madeli Salleh vs government of Sarawak states very clearly that the customary rights of inhabitants were recognized and accepted by the British crown when it governed Sarawak . It became part of common law. These customary rights therefore are part of common law and thus must be recognized and protected.

Land is life and guarantees the peoples livelihood. The Federal constitution ensures the right to life and livelihood. Thus when the land of the indigenous people are taken away, then their livelihood is gone. As a consequence, it violates the constitutional rights of the indigenous peoples.

Therefore, the IFFM team reiterates that the indigenous peoples struggle to their land is legitimate. It is the responsibility of the state and federal governments to recognize the NCR to land and livelihood. The state can no longer lease indigenous peoples land to plantations or contract farming to companies.

The current intensive and extensive violations of the NCR land is bringing about devastating impact on the lives of the indigenous peoples. The development of oil palm plantations at a rate of 7% covering more than 40% of land in Sarawak has tremendously reduced food production; destroyed the rivers where communities depended on the fish; the pollution of the rivers, particularly with highly hazardous pesticides and the environment has affected the health of communities with increase in diseases.

The insatiable expansion of this monocrop has destroyed the forests with the resultant loss of biodiversity that has even further affected the dependence of the indigenous communities for their livelihood. With the imminent global crisis on food, the indigenous communities will further face impoverishment and poverty.

The use of palm oil for agrofuel is a threat to food production and is one of the contributing factors of the current global food crisis. The increase demand for agrofuel has led to intensive expansion which has brought about deforestation, consequently impacting on climate change. It is crucial that Sarawak protects the rainforest as the last few rainforests left in the world.

We are very concerned about the increased violence and harassment on the indigenous communities especially on the leaders by the companies involved in expanding the plantations. Such form of violence can only intensify the conflict without a due process and a people centered conflict resolution. It therefore demands people’s participation through a democratic process for peaceful resolution. (

***** We should be ashamed that such cruelty is being perpetrated in our 'democratic' nation. The money hungry politician-businessman-police nexus is evil and should be exposed and destroyed. But who can do it? The federal government does not have the political will, the Sarawak state government leaders are probably active participants in this fraud and the cops are as guilty as hell.

Only by continually highlighting the brutality of the authorities and plantation owners, especially on the Internet, can the greedy power brokers there be prodded to cease and desist.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Anwar's Claim Of Defection By BN Reps Proven Untrue, Says Malacca Nutcase Mohd Ali Rustam

The claim by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that a number of Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) parliamentarians would be party hopping to join Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition, has proven to be untrue.

Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the smooth swearing-in of the MPs with no defections from the BN, for the first sitting of parliament's 12th session, which began Monday, proved that the BN representatives had the integrity that they could be proud of.

"I congratulate all the BN MPs who took their oath as they have upheld the people's trust and proved that Anwar's instigation and boast about defections from BN were nothing more than empty talk," he told reporters here Monday.

Also sworn in Monday was former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker. He is from Kota Belud, Sabah.

As expected, Mohd Ali said, Anwar's claim was mere political gimmick which got himself trapped.

Last week in Kota Kinabalu, Anwar was reported to have said that several BN MPs had decided to join Pakatan Rakyat and what was withholding them was only the time factor as they had not been sworn in.

Mohd Ali, who is an Umno vice-president, believes that the Pakatan Rakyat itself would face problems as the opposition coalition parties -- PKR, PAS and DAP -- have different policies and ideologies.

***** Trying to sound very courageous on the outside while probably crapping bricks inside, this specimen from Malacca has tried to twist Anwar's words to make the BN reps look good. He has spoken too soon about the BN, especially Umno MPs,
having 'upheld' the people's trust. The day is not too far away when like rats they will desert the sinking Umno ship.

Of course that'll be a really sad time for Ali Rustam, especially after having spent a fortune to buy sufficient support from the Umno riff-raff to move up the ladder to his current V-P post.

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Some Malaysian Muslim Groups Urge Govt To Reverse Decision And Ban Chelsea's Israelis
Muslim groups have urged the Malaysian government to stop Chelsea's two Israelis from entering the country when the English team visits in July, warning the tour could face protests if they are allowed in,' reports Reuters.

Chelsea, whose coach Avram Grant and midfielder Tal Ben Haim are Israeli citizens, are set to play in mainly Muslim Malaysia as part of their Asian summer tour.

Malaysia has no ties with Israel and normally bars Israelis from entering the country, but the home minister decided at the weekend to allow the pair to enter the country, on the grounds they were taking part in a sporting event, free of politics.

A group of 21 Muslim and non-government groups now want the government to reverse its decision and has sent a petition to the minister.

"If the Israeli footballers are allowed entry, the government would be seen as being insensitive to the feelings of the Palestinian victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing and atrocities, and the majority of the Malaysians who sympathise with them and support their struggle for justice and peace," the petition says.

Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, a spokesman for the group, said on Monday that the signatories would consider staging protests during the tour if the government refused to back down. "People are very, very angry with the decision, so we are going to have discussions on this," he said.

The last time Israeli athletes were allowed in Malaysia was for the 1997 ICC Trophy cricket tournament, which resulted in street protests in Kuala Lumpur.

The London club are due to play Chinese Super League team Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on July 23 and a Malaysia select team in Kuala Lumpur on July 29.
Image - Source

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India & Malaysia, Darfur's Other Culprits

As the world expresses outrage over China's support for Sudan, we are turning a blind eye to other enablers of that nation's genocide.

China is a major financial supporter of the Sudanese government, which is massacring its own citizens in Darfur. As a result, human rights activists are using the 2008 Beijing Olympics to draw attention to China's complicity in the ongoing slaughter, as well as to the government's brutal crackdown on protesters in Tibet.

But while the Olympic torch relay has been dogged by demonstrations, other unseemly ties between the Sudanese government and the sporting world are being overlooked. In Formula One auto racing, the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix went off without a hitch March 23, despite the fact that the race's corporate sponsor is one of the Sudanese government's biggest backers.

Petronas, Malaysia's state-owned oil and gas company, has poured an estimated $1.5 billion into Sudan's petroleum sector, providing cash the Sudanese government can then use to finance its weapons purchases.

And in soccer, India's 10-team I-League has been holding its matches protest-free, even though the league's sponsor, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), has also channeled about $1.5 billion to Sudan.

Petronas, ONGC, and two Beijing-based companies, China National Petroleum (CNPC) and Sinopec, form a quartet known as "the Big 4" because of their dominant position in the Sudanese oil industry. The Big 4 serve up the cash that is a crucial ingredient in the genocidal formula of Sudan's Bashir regime.

According to Human Rights Watch, oil revenue allows the Sudanese government to pay for helicopter gun ships and aerial bombardments. In some parts of Sudan, the government uses airstrips and roads built by the oil companies to transport weapons and troops.

China is the largest investor in the Sudanese oil industry, so it's appropriate that Beijing bears the lion's share of the criticism. But while China may be the worst offender, Malaysia and India are close on its heels.

The Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company is Sudan's largest oil-producing project. China National Petroleum is the No. 1 investor, with a 40% stake in the consortium, but Malaysia and India aren't far behind. Petronas holds a 30% stake, and ONGC has a 25% share.

The Malaysian and Indian companies now operate in a southern Sudanese block where, according to Human Rights Watch, the central government and allied militias have displaced thousands of civilians to make way for oil production. Petronas and ONGC are thus direct beneficiaries of the Sudanese government's ethnic cleansing campaigns.

This is not to say that the Malaysian and Indian governments are morally equivalent to China's communist leadership. After all, both Malaysia and India are democracies. While human rights monitors have documented chronic abuses in both countries, neither engages in domestic repression on the same scale that China does.

But if anything, this fact should give activists an additional reason to target Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi: Countries that already respect the basic freedoms of their citizens are more likely to respond favorably to international pressure than countries, such as China, that run roughshod over their own people's rights.

And since Petronas is wholly owned by the Malaysian government, and the President of India Inc holds a 74% stake in ONGC, both companies--unlike their Chinese counterparts--can be held accountable by voters in their respective countries.

So far, politicians in Malaysia and India have paid little more than lip service to human rights concerns in Darfur. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi visited Darfur last April and said Islamic nations "must commit ourselves to help in any way we can."

His government has made a small contribution to the ineffectual U.N. peacekeeping force in the region, but most of Malaysia's "help" has gone to the perpetrators--not the victims--of the genocide.

For its part, India recently offered 60 camels to the Darfur peacekeeping mission. Meanwhile, both India and Malaysia have helped to prevent the U.N. Human Rights Council from criticizing Sudan's conduct.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington says it's "irresponsible and unfair" to blame Beijing for the Darfur genocide, but it is only unfair if China is held to a different standard than Sudan's other backers. That's all the more reason not to let Malaysia and India off the hook.

The story doesn't end with China, India and Malaysia. A Swedish firm, Lundin Petroleum, has partnered with Petronas and ONGC to drill new wells through a joint venture with the Sudanese state-owned oil company.

Meanwhile, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, and Oman have all invested in Sudan's massive Merowe hydroelectricity project. A French company, Alstom, is one of the project's major contractors. Alstom is also the sponsor of this June's Open de France golf tournament, which, like the Petronas Grand Prix and the ONGC I-League, seems to have evaded human rights activists' radar.

While Beijing may be one focal point for international outrage, it would be a mistake if it were the only one. With the Darfur death toll well over 200,000--and with 2.5 million people left homeless by the conflict--there's plenty of blame to go around. (From, by Daniel Hemel who is a Marshall Scholar studying international relations at Oxford.)


Sunday, April 27, 2008

RM6.1 Billion Space Science University Planned In Kota Tinggi. Viable Plan Or Just A Grand Design?

A local company and its overseas partner plan to set up Space Science University of Malaysia (UniSam) costing RM6.1 billion on 2,500-acre site in Kota Tinggi.

Next Systems Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Noor Faizal Abdul Samad said the university would be equipped with modern and international-standard space science laboratories and recruit renowned experts.

"If the proposal is accepted, Malaysia will emerge as the third country in the world to have a space science university after Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, United States, and International Space University in Strasbourg, France," he told Bernama recently.

He said the setting up of a space science university in Malaysia was also aimed at bringing back the glory of Muslims in the field by drawing well-known Muslim space scientists like Prof Ahmed Zemail and Prof Ibrahim Semiz.

UniSam, he said, would have eight faculties including Space Engineering and Aeronautics; Mechanical Engineering; and Bioengineering encompassing Biomolecular Engineering and Medicine.

Other fields were Chemical and Biochemical Engineering; Computer, Robotic and Software Engineering; Electrical Engineering and Electronics; Geological, Atmospheric and Planetary Engineering; and Mathematical Engineering, Physics and Astronomy.

The faculties would have 29 laboratories for the students to carry out research, Faizal said.

Among the technologies planned to be brought to Unisam were Fusion Reactor or Thermonuclear Reactor, Linear Collider, Large Binocular Telescope-Neural Network Telescope, High Performance Computing, Supersonic Wind Tunnel and three-dimension simulation laboratory.

As the technologies were expensive, Unisam planned to share the cost with others by renting them out, he said.

"All these will make Malaysia as a reference centre for space science studies," he said. A university college was also planned for lower secondary students before they enrol into UniSam, he added. (Bernama)

***** Can anyone comment on the viability of this multi-billion ringgit venture in the current climate of financial stringency? Off hand it seems too grandiose to be true. Let's hope it does not become a non-starter after some initial hype and grand opening ceremony and the principals behind this project finally sell the 2500-acre land in Kota Tinggi for a small fortune.


Hillary Is Nasty But She Is Not Tough

Hillary Clinton's current ads seek to portray her as the tough leader who is ready on Day One to handle crises. Borrowing from a line made famous by Harry Truman, the tag line trumpets, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." The sub-text, of course, is that she will dish out a full plate of heat and if Obama can't respond on her gutter level, he can't handle heat.ᅠ

The truth is almost exactly the opposite. Hillary is nasty, but she is not tough. In fact, Hillary is a classic whiner. She and Bill whine about everything that doesn't go well for them. Unlike Harry Truman, who also said, "the buck stops here," she and Bill accept responsibility for nothing and blame others, especially the media, when things go wrong or their deceptions are exposed.ᅠ

Hillary and Bill whine about Democratic Party activists, young voters, running as a female, the media in general, the media catching her fabricating her history (bringing peace to Ireland, opposing NAFTA, facing sniper fire in Bosnia, etc.), the appeal of hope, Obama's eloquence, money, donors, Democratic Party rules. Last week, Hillary blamed the "activist base" of the Democratic Party -- and MoveOn, in particular -- for many of her electoral defeats, claiming, without a shred of evidence, that activists had "flooded" state caucuses and "intimidated" her supporters. Rather than accept responsibility for her campaign's well-documented failure adequately to plan for the caucus states, and despite her repeated claim she is the candidate "ready on Day One," she attacked core Democratic Party supporters. Rather than take responsibility for her inability to inspire the activist base with her ideas, she whined about their support of a more thoughtful, inspirational candidate. Candidates normally celebrate high levels of voter activism in the primaries, knowing these activists will work for the party's nominee in the general election, but Hillary is willing to burn the peasants in order to win the village for herself.

Hillary and Bill whine about young voters. Last week, Bill said in Pennsylvania that young voters are easily fooled and older voters are wiser -- too wise to be fooled by Obama's inspiring rhetoric. Of course, he forgot to mention that the most well-educated voters -- young and old -- heavily favor Obama over Hillary. Most candidates, and both political parties, yearn for support from young voters because young voters represent not just the present, but also the future. And, certainly if young voters were supporting Hillary, she wouldn't be whining about them. But since she is not very good at inspiring young voters, she chooses to whine about them. Thankfully, she has not yet proposed raising the voting age to 60, but that could be next.

Hillary whines about being a female candidate, as though it's harder to be female in America than black. Said Hillary, "It's hard. It's hard being a woman out there." [Add some tears and the picture is complete] Her surrogate, Geraldine Ferraro, even made the wholly implausible claim that the only reason Obama was succeeding was his race -- a claim Hillary never repudiated. Of course, at the same time the Clintons whine about misogyny, they argue to super-delegates that Obama is not electable because he is black and that, as a woman, she is the electable candidate. Neither Bill nor Hill can explain why all the white male Democratic Presidential candidates are out of the race. Could it be that Obama has demonstrated qualities to voters that the others lacked? Could it be that Obama has come from more than 20 points behind in just a few months because he offers qualities, such as hope and honesty, which voters, by large pluralities, think Hillary lacks?

Hillary frequently whines about the media not being "fair." This is an old Clinton complaint, going back to her stone-walling about Travelgate, Whitewater and the revelations of Bill's many sexual shenanigans. How unfair of the press to remember that she supported NAFTA, falsely claimed to have been a key negotiator in peace talks in Ireland, and lied about her Bosnia trip.

Caught dead-on lying about being under "sniper fire" as she landed in Bosnia -- when absolutely no danger existed -- she claimed she simply had "misspoke" [seven times?], then claimed she was tired by "lack of sleep," then Bill chimed in to attack the media for even covering the story. This was all taking place as she asserted her competence to answer that mythical 3 am phone call. So if we believe the Clintons, her "lack of sleep" caused her to fabricate a story about landing in Bosnia into hostile sniper fire and risking her life like a seasoned military veteran, but this fabrication should be disregarded because, despite her history of sleep deprivation, if a crisis occurs at 3 am, we can trust her to be awake and alert and respond truthfully and with good judgment. With leadership like this, we'll all be awake at night.

Hillary whines about Obama's inspiration and eloquence. Hillary whines about the very nature of hope. Despite the Clintons' history of playing the Hope Card (we all remember Bill's 1992 campaign biopic, "The Man from Hope"), when the other guy is offering it, all of a sudden, hope is suspicious. In fact, it is downright delusional. "I could stand up here and say, let's get everyone together, let's get unified and the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and the world will be perfect," she said in mock sarcasm of Obama's message of conciliation and hope.

Hillary whines about the fact Obama has engaged more donors and raised more money than she. Of course, she didn't think it was unfair in 2007 when she had twice as much money as any other candidate. But as soon as she fell behind, Little Miss $100+ million War Chest was whining about being outspent. But isn't the ability to inspire donors and raise money part of being a successful presidential candidate? Isn't that a measure of electability, not something to be disdained?
Hillary now is whining about Florida and Michigan, piously claiming that failing to seat delegates from those states would be fundamentally undemocratic. But when the Democratic National Committee's rules panel declared Florida's accelerated primary date was not permitted under party rules, all of Hillary's 12 representatives on the 30 member rules panel voted for Florida's full disenfranchisement, which, under party rules, applied to Michigan, as well. In October 2007, when she was far and away the Democratic front-runner, Hillary told a New Hampshire public radio audience, "It's clear this election [Michigan] is not going to count for anything." Oh, the sting of hypocrisy, but rather than accept responsibility for the obvious -- that she supported the very rule she now attacks -- she plays the "poor me" card and digs the Democratic Party into a deeper hole.

Do we want a whiner to be President? Commander-in-Chief? Do we want to live through more chapters in the never-ending, but never-changing, Clinton Drama of Blame, Attack and Half-Truths? Or do we prefer a president who has demonstrated candor, who is willing to treat voters like adults, who takes responsibility for his behavior and offers thoughtful commentary on serious issues -- as Obama did with his former pastor? Do we want a president who behaves like a mature adult or someone whose emotional intelligence is on the level of a spoiled, whiny teenager? (The Huffington Post)

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People Have Lost Confidence In Race-Based Parties

The dismal performance of the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the last general elections should not be attributed to the work of so-called cyber guerrillas but to the many government policies and antics of leaders that have infuriated voters.

The election outcome also showed that the people were no longer afraid of oppression or criticism and felt free to make their choice.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Youth chief, Au Kam Wah said the cyber guerillas only acted as one of the agents to disseminate these on the Internet and later shared by many via SMS and Internet.

In his policy speech in conjunction with the 13th SAPP Youth Convention at Putera Theatre Restaurant in Luyang, Saturday, he said Information Technology (IT) had resulted in many of the unpopular actions of the leaders and BN being spread through the Internet.
These included the keris-wielding that hurt the non-Malays, demolition of Hindu temples in Selangor, the "YB Palace" issue, sudden increase in price of goods and oil, etc, which had been spread through blogs.

Au who is also Elopura Assemblyman said BN lost in many states because the Government was insensitive and did not take serious action to address problems that had caused inconvenience to the people.
"The dissatisfaction was transformed into a wind of change culminating in the political tsunami on polling day," he said, adding that the results of the election was a clear message that.

Au also warned that the unusual phenomenon in Peninsular Malaysia where the Chinese and Indians handed their votes to PAS and Malays gave their votes to the DAP might hit Sabah and Sarawak if nothing is done to change the situation. "The people no longer have confidence in racial-based parties to represent their struggle," he said, adding that in this respect, SAPP as a multi-racial-based party is relevant to the current political trend.

Au said the Government must also provide freedom to the mass media, which is the best way to counter the cyber guerrillas.
"Let the people differentiate what is good and wrong for themselves. Let all the issues and problems out in the open, then we will have the chance to make changes. "We are confident we can produce excellent results if under pressure," he said.

On claims by many that SAPP was acting like an opposition in the way their criticised the government, Au said the party was actually holding steadfastly to its political principle that is "the interest of the people is our main agenda".
Au said they were not trying to find excuses to cover up weaknesses and dented pride due to the last election results but there were those who alleged that they lost because of sabotage by a fellow component party.

"I assume all voters are given the freedom to choose whoever they want to be their wakil rakyat. We cannot blame the voters if we lost (and) we cannot blame any one if our votes went down.
"Our voters are matured enough and nobody forced them to vote for anybody especially the candidates they are not supporting," he said, adding that the act of sabotage would not cause a candidate to lose if he or she had been providing excellent service and was friendly to the people.

Hence, he said those who do not want to admit defeat should do a self-assessment and ask themselves where they went wrong. Au said Malaysia's political landscape was changing, especially with the formation of the Pakatan Rakyat by the opposition, which he believed would eventually lead to a two-party system. "We are ready to compete to win the hearts of the people, we are prepared to do the best for the people and get their support," he said. (Daily Express, Sabah)

***** Compare this frank and courageous guy to the slaves in MCA, MIC and Gerakan.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Let Tengku Razaleigh, Najib & All The Vice-Presidents Contest Umno President's Post Says Mukhriz!

Umno youth executive council member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir welcomes former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's intention to contest the Umno presidency in the party elections in December.

"Not just Tengku Razaleigh... Deputy Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the vice-presidents can also contest for the post," he told reporters after attending a forum on the results of the March 8 general election.

Tengku Razaleigh, who is Gua Musang member of parliament, has said that he wanted to contest for the post if he had sufficient nominations.

Mukhriz said contest for the top post should be allowed so that party members would be able to choose a leader whom they think was capable of restoring the party's strength.

He said as far as possible, however, the leadership transition should be done in accordance with the tradition in Umno, by having the president handing over the post to his deputy.

But if there were contest for the top post, it should be done in a manner that would not cause disunity in the party, he said. (Bernama)

***** Why leave out the Supreme Council members? Allow them to contest too. More the merrier!

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"ISA Will Not Be Abolished," Says Syed Hamid

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar in no uncertain terms today declared that 'preventive laws' such as the Internal Security Act will not be abolished because they 'help to maintain' public order!

The much hated and dreaded law has been severely criticised and condemned over the years but the government has held steadfastly to its unconvincing mantra of maintaining public order.

The 'Abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia' Petition to The Prime Minister and Government of Malaysia, had this to say about the draconian act -
"No law in Malaysia shames the country or undermines its democratic system of government more than the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows indefinite, arbitrary detention without trial.

The ISA stands out as a barbaric law that goes against all our notions of what law and justice should mean. The ISA is an evil, anti-democratic law that can have no place in a country that upholds the Rule of Law.

The ISA subverts natural justice. Natural justice demands that any person accused of a crime should have the right to due process and to be presumed innocent unless and until he or she is convicted in an independent, open court of law.

Without due process and legal checks and balances, ISA detainees are left at the mercy of their captors. In the past, detainees have complained of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment while under detention."
Yet Syed Hamid still persists in protecting, supporting and retaining the ISA as part of the government's armoury of dirty tricks, citing public order. Whom do you want to believe? The sceptical, worried and concerned public or your Home Minister?

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Dr Mahathir Calls For Trial Of Bush, Blair, Howard For Iraq War Crimes!

A former Southeast Asian leader on Friday called for three major Western leaders, including President George Bush, to be tried for war crimes by an international tribunal.

Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohammad called for charges to be filed against Bush and prime ministers Tony Blair of the United Kingdom and John Howard of Australia.

According to, the Ramadhan Foundation quoted Mahathir as making the call during a speech at the Imperial College in London. The British Muslim youth group, which advocates peaceful co-existence and dialogue between communities, organized the speaking event for Mahathir, who ruled Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.

Ramadhan spokesman Mohammed Shafiq also quoted Mahathir as saying, "that people have to stop killing each other and use arbitration, negotiation and discussion as an alternative to violence, war and killing." (AHN)

***** Just how Dr Mahathir plans to get the three leaders to trial remains a mystery.

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Election Of Perak State Assembly Speaker, Slap In The Face For Umno's Race Politics

First read this report from the NST.
It was a historic moment at the Perak assembly yesterday when an Indian state assemblyman was elected as the speaker for the first time, while a woman was chosen as deputy speaker.

DAP assemblyman for Tronoh V. Sivakumar, 37, was elected as the 12th speaker, while Hee Yit Foong, the DAP assemblywoman for Jelapang and a polio victim, was picked for the deputy speaker's post at the first sitting of the assembly.

The Pakatan Rakyat grouping of DAP, PKR and Pas won 31 seats against Barisan Nasional's 28 in the March 8 general election.

BN nominated former speaker Datuk Seri Junus Wahid to retain the position and nominated Chenderiang state assemblyman Mah Hang Soon for the deputy speaker's post.

Even before voting could take place, there were plenty of fireworks from both sides.

When Slim assemblyman Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib proposed Junus's name, senior executive council member and Sitiawan assemblyman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham objected as the candidate was not even present in the assembly.

"The proposed candidate must be physically present," he said.

To this, Pengkalan Hulu assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali stood up and said: "If his presence is needed urgently, he can be called as Junus is just around the corner. Notice should have been given for him to be present."

After assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri announced that he had contacted Junus, Pantai Remis assemblyman Nga Kor Ming retorted saying the former should not have done so.

A few minutes later, a calm Junus walked into the assembly and witnessed the voting.

Although the standing orders stated the ballot papers would be marked and signed while the assembly secretary or his agent should collect the papers from the desk of the wakil rakyat, BN assemblymen had other plans in mind and asked for a secret ballot.

Pasir Pinji DAP assemblyman Thomas Su Keong Siong said the standing orders did not say anything about a secret ballot.

Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin defused the situation by saying the government agreed to a secret vote.

All assemblymen walked to the two booths to sign and mark their ballot papers before putting them in boxes.

When the results were announced, Sivakumar received 31 votes against his opponent's 28, while Hee received 30 votes against the 28 obtained by her opponent.
***** Consider this part of the above report - 'Although the standing orders stated the ballot papers would be marked and signed while the assembly secretary or his agent should collect the papers from the desk of the wakil rakyat, BN assemblymen had other plans in mind and asked for a secret ballot.'

What do you think was the logic behind the BN (read Umno) demand for a secret ballot? With the typical befuddled race-based thinking, mentality and strategy that the umnoputeras are perennially stuck with, they had hoped, nay indeed convinced that if a secret ballot was held, the Malays in the Pakatan Rakyat would vote for Umno's Malay candidate instead of Pakatan's non-Malay choice.

The Perak Menteri Besar agreed to their demand and what happened? Not even one state assemblyman from Pakatan voted for the Umno calon. Not surprising really. Umno had all along put up this act and facade that they were the sole 'champions' of Malay rights and duped the nation for decades. Now the people have seen through their duplicitous game and won't fall for their bangsa, agama dan negara 'struggle' anymore. Honest and dedicated men and women have taken over the helm of several states and the nation will heave a big sigh of relief when they gain control of the federal government as well. Then we can all look back at the time when we lived through the nightmare of Umno's despicable reign of corruption and apartheid.

Even at this crucial juncture when their racist philosophy and even their own party is in tatters they still have not been able to rid themselves off the ethnic equation in everything they do. And they never will.
Image - Source

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Tengku Razaleigh Determined To Contest Umno Presidency

Gua Musang Umno chief Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today said that the party's leadership transition plans will not deter him from contesting the presidency. It is therefore crystal clear that whatever the current hotshots at the apex of Umno may be planning, Ku Li is prepared to fight it out. How effective his challenge can be is of course debatable.

Some time ago it was announced that the transition of power in the Umno leadership would only be carried out after the party had completed compiling feedback and views from its members on the matter. No time frame had been set and party members were asked to be patient and not push for immediate changes.

On March 17 this year Tengku Razaleigh had made public his intent to challenge Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the presidency. He had offered himself to lead Umno to “heal the party”, which he described to be "in a bad way.”

While acknowledging that his advancing age might be used against him, the 71-year-old former Finance Minister, who held the Gua Musang parliamentary seat since 1969, expressed willingness to take up the challenge if he was given the opportunity.

"I still have ideas, I am still brave because I am independent and I don’t depend on anyone. If my service is still needed and my strength can still be used, I am offering myself to work for the rakyat," he had then said.

But now it looks like he has gone past the stage of offering his services if needed and is determined to go for the presidency despite the odds and over the objections of anyone.

As if Umno doesn't have enough on its hands with the threat of MPs defecting. If Ku Li sticks to his guns then be prepared for more confusion in Umno as the weeks go by. Perhaps even a battle royale.

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Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia Demands Act To 'Preserve' The Sanctity Of Quranic Verses

The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) Friday urged the government to formulate an Act to control the sale of Quranic verses aimed at preventing abuse by unscrupulous traders for commercial gain.

PPIM project director Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin said the absence of such an Act meant that Quranic verses could be sold freely by traders, including non-Muslims.

"This issue must be looked at seriously as it touches the sensitivity of the Muslim community in the country.

"The absence of such an Act leaves us powerless to act other than to monitor and advise the public. We urge the government to formulate an Act to control the sale of Quranic verses by non-Muslims.

"Other than the sale of Quranic verses by non-Muslims, the association also received many reports on the sale of painting brushes made of pig fur. About 70 per cent of the painting brushes on sale are made of pig fur," he told Bernama here Friday.

Nirwandy said a case in point was the use of Quranic verses by restaurants operated by non-Muslims, aimed at generating business. Muslims were duped into patronising such restaurants as they believed the restaurants were owned by Muslims.

"The sensitivities of Muslims must be preserved to prevent public anger and to maintain the racial harmony in the country," he added. (Bernama)

To whom are the non-Muslims selling the said Quranic verses for a profit? Obviously to Muslims. If their 'sensitivities' are so offended why are they buying these from the kaffir? Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia's project director Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin should ask himself this question. Perhaps not all Muslims in Malaysia are as hypersensitive to matters as he and his colleagues in PPIM are making it out to be. Or are they merely worried that they do not have a monopoly over the religious items business and envious that all profits from such sales which should 'by right' be theirs is not coming their way? Who is being really offended here? The businessmen in the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia or the average Muslim who has got better things to do?

When will the demand for this sort of proscription end? If hypothetically a group of talented young non-Muslim singers get together and release an album of nasyid songs ala Rabbani, will the
Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia then demand that the government pass an act of Parliament to ban them from singing these songs as they will 'offend the sensitivity' of some Muslims?

Why stop there? In future will they demand that all mosques and other 'Islamic' buildings in the country must be physically built only by Muslim workers using materials completely untouched by kaffir hands? The possibilities for making profit are endless.

Interesting read: From Mahaguru58's Blog

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Christian Newspaper Challenges Malaysia's Government In Court For Right To Use 'Allah'

A Roman Catholic newspaper went to court Friday to challenge the Malaysian government's ban on its use of the word "Allah" as a translation for God.

Authorities in this Muslim-majority nation ordered The Herald weekly in December to stop using "Allah" in its Malay-language section. The paper — the main organ of the Catholic church in Malaysia — was warned it could lose its publishing license if it defied the order.

Lawyers representing The Herald told the Kuala Lumpur High Court Friday that they want to go to trial to reverse the government's order.

"We are saying that the decision should be squashed and there should also be a declaration that ... The Herald is entitled to use the word 'Allah' in its publication," lawyer Porres Royan told reporters after a brief hearing.

The government told The Herald to drop the word "Allah" because it refers to the Muslim God. But the newspaper insists "Allah" has been used for centuries to mean "God" in Malay.

"It is basically a birth right to use the word 'Allah' because it is the only word for God in the Malay language," The Herald's editor, Rev. Lawrence Andrew, told The Associated Press.

The court is expected to hear further arguments next week. Dozens of Christians packed Friday's hearing, including Malaysia's Roman Catholic archbishop.

The Herald — which publishes reports in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil — is still using the word "Allah," but some fear it could lose its publishing license when it comes up for annual review in October.

The case illustrates growing complaints by religious minorities that their rights have been undermined by government efforts to bolster the status of Islam, Malaysia's official religion.

Ethnic Malays — who are legally required to be Muslim — comprise nearly 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people, while ethnic Chinese and Indians — mostly Buddhists, Christians and Hindus — are the main minorities.

Dissatisfaction with court rulings over the right to leave Islam, along with religious issues like the demolition of Hindu temples by state authorities, contributed to the ruling government's poor performance in March elections, when it lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In a separate case, the Sabah Evangelical Church of Borneo has also filed a lawsuit to be allowed to use "Allah" after officials last year banned the import of books containing the word. Hearings in that case remain in the preliminary stages.(International Herald Tribune)

***** Would the post-election scenario and reality have an effect on the judges in the above cases? Or can we expect more of the earlier reluctance and reticence to understand and rule on the the issue from a legal standpoint while keeping their personal religious feelings/convictions aside?

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