THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Monday, December 31, 2007

42. Permit Renewed

The publisher of Herald - The Catholic Weekly newspaper, which reports on the Catholic community in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Chinese, has had its permit renewed.

The editor, Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew, said a representative from the Internal Security Ministry delivered the letter of approval, dated Dec 28, by hand at 10am Sunday.

"We thank (Minister in the Prime Minister's Department) Tan Sri Bernard Dompok for his assistance, as well as the various news agencies and other media groups for supporting us with their wide coverage," Father Lawrence said in a statement.

The paper has a circulation of 12,000 among the Catholic community.

When contacted, Dompok said he had brought the matter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a few days before Christmas and Abdullah had promised to look into it.
"I think the permit is good news and the Government has given the Christian community a wonderful Christmas present.

"The community will certainly be happy to know that the Government is looking into their welfare," said Dompok - The Star.

The Prime Minister and Internal Security Minister certainly listens to the views and the facts presented to him.Thank you, Prime Minister.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

41. Karpal asks for Review

The Bar Council has been urged to seek a review of the Federal Court majority judgment which ruled that the appointment of academician Dr Badariah Sahamid as a judicial commissioner was valid.

The Chief Justice, Dato Abdul Hamid Mohamad, in his dissenting judgement said:

"For the reasons given above, in my judgment, Dr. Badariah, not having practised law at all since her admission to the Bar does not qualify to be appointed a Judicial Commissioner.

Following the judgment of this court in All Malayan Estates Staff Union v. Rajasegaran & Ors I hold that even though the appointment of Dr. Badariah is invalid, all her judgments and orders handed down by her as a Judicial Commissioner is not a nullity by reason of the defect in her appointment."

Lawyer Karpal Singh said the review was necessary as the judgment should not be allowed to become precedent and that it would not be in the public's interest.

"The Federal Court should constitute itself a nine-member bench to determine the correct interpretation of the Federal Constitution with regards to the appointment of judicial officers to the High courts," he said in a statement.

Karpal said the judgment was in conflict with the decision of an earlier unanimous Federal Court ruling which held that industrial court presidents and chairmen must be in active law practice for at least seven years prior to their appointments.

On Thursday, Federal Court judges Datuk Nik Hashim Abdul Rahman, Datuk Hashim Yusoff and Datuk Azmel Ma'amor, who were in the majority, held that Badariah's appointment was constitutional.

They held that Badariah was in practice because she had attained knowledge and experience as a law lecturer.

Chief Justice Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, who gave dissenting judgments, said Badariah was not qualified because she was not in active practice for at least 10 years as a lawyer or in the judicial and legal service.

Karpal said it was surprising for the majority to ignore the earlier Federal Court decision made only last year, which held that an Industrial Court chairman must be in active practice to gain experience, either as a lawyer or in the judicial and legal service.

He said the argument by Azmel that there was a previous precedent in the case of Dr Visu Sinnadurai, although he did not have the necessary experience as lawyer, did not mean that his appointment as High Court judge was constitutional.

He said Visu's case could not be regarded as precedent as there was no judicial pronouncement about his appointment.

Karpal said it was wrong for Azmel to declare that there was no legal challenge to Visu's appointment because there was one pending before the Court of Appeal. "If the Bar Council did not ask for a review, then I will take up the pending application to declare Visu's appointment as unconstitutional to the Federal Court."

Bar Council chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan said the next course of action would be decided at its monthly meeting next week.

"Our lawyers are looking into several options following the majority judgment," she said. (The Malaysian Bar)

Bravo Bar Council, that's the way forward. If judges are appointed unconstitutionally, and they are aware of it, what justice do you expect from them? How can a lawyer, WITH ANY PRIDE, face them in court? This is a matter of JUSTICE !

Friday, December 28, 2007

40. Around the Courts

Here are some important court decisions and cases pending at the courts.

1. Civil or Syariah ?

2. Judicial Review on Allah

3. Govt. sued for Allah

4. Bar loses Suit !

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

39. Bhutto Assassinated

LATEST: 2.30am

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AFP) - Pakistani opposition leader and former premier Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack on Thursday, plunging the nation into turmoil less than two weeks before elections.

She had just addressed a campaign rally for the parliamentary vote when an attacker shot her in the neck before blowing himself up at a park in the northern city of Rawalpindi, killing her and at least 16 others, police said. More...

Read also here and here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

38. 165,000 without Water

Some 165,000 people in Pahang are without piped water supply after floods, which hit the state the last two weeks, knocked out a number of motors and pumps that pumped the precious commodity to them.

Pahang Water Supply Department director Datuk Ismail Mat Nor said the districts affected were Maran, Bera, Temerloh, Mentakab and Kuantan.

"The motors could no longer function after they became inundated in flood waters.

Nevertheless, we expect the situation to return to normal in about seven days after the damaged motors and pumps are repaired," he told reporters at Bukit Goh here Wednesday.

In the meantime, he said 21 water tankers were being used to bring clean water to the affected people.

He urged the people to use this water sparingly until supply returned to normal - Bernama.

Just a thought. What about the other states? Are there sufficient water tankers in all the states affected by the floods to supply water to the residents? This is more so because the floods are here to stay. The sooner we are able to cope with them, the better.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Greetings

To all my Friends and Readers of the Christian Faith:

Merry Christmas to all

it's that time of the year

We'll send holiday cards

spreading Christmas cheer

Along city sidewalks

snow will be glistening

You'll hear the yuletide spirit

if your hearts are listening

May peace fill this season

with glad tidings of joy

For unto us a Child is born

such a blessed little boy

Spread the Christmas Cheer!

37. Thesis Writers

The Higher Education Ministry will not compromise in the matter of any tertiary student getting professional thesis writers to pen their theses, Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamad said tonight.

However, so far he had yet to receive any complaint of such a practice, he added.

"This is news to me. I have not received any report on it. If anyone knows of such a thing, please report to us for an investigation to be conducted.

"We regard this a serious matter and will not compromise," he told reporters after attending the closing of a public tertiary institutions entrepreneurship carnival here.

Mustapa was asked to comment on the use of professional thesis writers by a number of students of local universities, as reported recently by a newspaper - Bernama.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Few ever talk the truth these days.

Monday, December 24, 2007

36. Use of 'Allah'

The use of the word “Allah” to refer to God among Christians has been widely practised for generations in many countries and it is not meant to offend or confuse the Muslims, Christian leaders said on Sunday.

Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of local Catholic weekly The Herald, told theSun that its Bahasa Malaysia segment catered to the many Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Catholics in the country.

“The newspaper is only circulated among Catholics and not sold at newsstands and neither is the paper issued to Muslims,” he stressed - theSun.

These Bahasa Malaysia speaking catholics/christians are our bumiputra brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak, many of whom cannot speak English!

35. Pro-Thaksin Wins

BANGKOK (AFP) - Allies of deposed Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra claimed victory in Sunday's elections, setting the stage for the billionaire's political comeback more than a year after his ouster in a coup.

Samak Sundaravej said his People Power Party (PPP), which regroups Thaksin's political allies, would form the next government although he predicted they would fall short of an absolute majority in parliament.

"I will be the next prime minister for sure," Samak told reporters, adding that he had invited other parties to join PPP in a coalition. Read more...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

34. Shameless Employers

My friend and fellow Blogger, Stephen asks:

"Why are both the Bangladesh and Malaysian authorities, allowing this to happen right here in our alleyways? How much is a Bangladeshi's pride worth? Do you think he doesn't deserve any dignity? Put yourself in their shoes....errr ....slippers (if that's all they can ill afford !). I say we drag these corrupt employers and their agents through the streets of the city with cards round their necks with the words "I have cheated and abused my foreign employees and I am proud of it because I'm a Malaysian! "

Read the full story.

I say withdraw the licences of these registered and unregistered employers and their employment agents.

33. Floods Mitigation !

JELI: The Government has approved RM1.7bil for flood mitigation projects in Sungai Golok and Sungai Kelantan to lessen the threat of floods to the people in Kelantan, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The projects, expected to be implemented next year, could reduce flooding in six districts: Kota Baru, Pasir Mas, Tanah Merah, Kuala Krai, Machang and Rantau Panjang.

The projects will involve the construction of Lebir Dam in Hulu Kelantan to slow down the flow of water in both rivers, the creation of a new river and raising the embankment to prevent water from flowing into low-lying areas - Bernama / The Star.

Well done, Prime Minister. Flood mitigation projects for Trengganu, Pahang, Johore and Kedah are also required and is expected to follow soon.

32. Permits for Gatherings?

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 (Bernama): Police are willing to reconsider the application by Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) for a permit to hold a gathering here on January 5.

The gathering which was to be held at Dataran Merdeka here tonight was cancelled by the organisers.

"We will review the application and issue a permit if we are certain it will not disturb the peace," Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zulkarnain Abd Rahman told Bernama.

Checks by Bernama found the square to be what it usually is on a Saturday night without signs of any illegal gathering taking place.

The GMI had wanted to hold the gathering to call for the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

For the police to consider issuing a permit for a peaceful public gathering is a major policy shift by the Barisan Government. I am wondering if the elections are around the corner! See my comments for police permits here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

31. Indians' Economic Woes

The Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (MAICCI) will present a memorandum to the government by the middle of next year to address several economic issues related to the Malaysian Indian community.

One urgent need is to have a proper delivery system within the government to address the issues in a faster and more systematic manner, its President Datuk Pardip Kumar Kukreja said.

He said one request to be made to the government will be to consider a more open regime on licences, tenders and issuance of contracts from the Federal government to the local councils.

MAICCI will also request for about eight percent quota in terms of licences, tenders, contracts, enrolment in universities and scholarships, as well as the recruitment of more Indians in the civil service.

It would also seek to ensure representation of Indians in the government linked companies.

"If there can be a quota system put in place for the community, they will feel that this is a transparent way of issuing contracts and that they are getting a fair share of the cake," he said, adding there is no quota at all at the moment.

There is also a need for a monitoring mechanism to see what has been put in place in the Ninth Malaysia Plan to increase the Indian equity ownership to 3 percent from 1.2 percent, he added.

MAICCI will also request the government to establish an equity trust fund like Amanah Saham Malaysia which will provide the community an avenue for investment with decent returns.

More from Bernama here.

30. New RM 50 Note

Among the 145 x 69mm note's main features are: multi-colour design, watermark portrait with electrotype highlight, security thread, perfect see-through register, invisible fluorescent, intaglio print, multicolour latent image, holographic stripe, numbering, braille feature, background micro-lettering and intaglio micro lettering. The anti-photocopy technology, which had been adopted by several world currencies, would prevent forgery through photocopy. Read theSun story.

Friday, December 21, 2007

29. Floods Warning

An aerial view shows Pekan inundated by water,Tuesday. The situation in the royal town is expected to get worse with high tides forecast for Friday - Starpic.

KOTA BARU: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has warned of a new age of floods, where a combination of hillside cutting, and seasonal monsoons translates to deadlier effects compared to a decade ago.

Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Sazmi Miah said swifter river currents, a higher rate of landslides, mud and debris clogging drainage systems, and the dwindling number of trees, which are natural retention water catchments, combined to wreck havoc on daily life.

“When the issue of the Lojing Highlands (Gua Musang) was raised, it was interpreted as a politicised topic. We hope people understand that the more we wrangle over the environment, the more nature has a tendency to come back and bite us. The environment should not be politicised."

What has occurred, he said, was that the trees, which are nature’s “sponge” to absorb excess water from flowing into the rivers, have been reduced so the rate of water flowing downstream was more rapid, causing stronger and faster currents. Hence, riverbanks spilled over at a swifter rate.

Kelantan has the highest number of victims from the current floods, with 14 drowning cases reported as of Tuesday.

Many areas in the states of Kelantan, Trengganu, Pahang and Johore were hit by floods recently. At least 29 people were killed due to the floods, most of them were children. Tens of thousands of residents were also evacuated from the areas.

Malaysian officials had advised those living areas near rivers to be cautious as the sea level may rise and take measures to prevent their children from playing in the floodwaters.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department had said that the high tide would peak during Dec.23 to Dec.26 and was expected to last until Dec.29 - The Star.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Aidil Adha Greetings

To all my Muslim Friends and Readers,

( Eid-ul-Adha or Hari Raya Aidil Adha is also known as Hari Raya Qurban. The Qurban is a ritual performed after the completion of the Haj. This is to remember Prophet Ibrahim's obedience to sacrifice his eldest son, Ismail when Allah commanded him to do so as a test of his commitment to his faith. At the last moment, Allah replaced a ram in place of Ismail.The Haj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. It is the fifth pillar of Islam, an obligation that must be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so, at least once in their lifetime ).

28. New Tamil Schools

PERAK MIC has identified six areas for the building of new Tamil schools in the state, according to Tamil Nesan.

State MIC chief and state executive councillor Datuk G. Rajoo said the party had requested land from the state government to build the schools.

He said many people were moving to the town areas where there were ample job opportunities. This resulted in the closure of some Tamil schools in the estates.

Rajoo said there have been more requests for schools from Indians living in towns - The Star.

Well done Datuk G. Rajoo. Keep up the good work.

27. Fresh Habeas Corpus

Lawyer M. Manoharan filed a fresh habeas corpus application at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, for his release from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

In an affidavit filed Wednesday, Pushpaneela who affirmed an affidavit to support the application, said her husband's arrest last Thursday and continued detention was unconstitutional and unlawful.

She is seeking for an order from the court to release him forthwith on the grounds that his detention was unlawful. More...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

26. MHS preparing Report

Malaysian Hindu Sangam (MHS) president A Vaithilingam, who was one of those who attended last Friday’s meeting, said MHS and almost 70 other organisations are compiling the reports and memoranda sent to the government over many years on problems faced by the community.

“We welcome all organisations concerned on this issue to join forces with us so that a cohesive and immediate plan can be put forward urgently to alleviate the grave concerns of the marginalised segment of the Indian community,” he added in a statement today.

Vaithilingam also thanked the prime minister for taking into consideration the request by the NGOs to drop the attempted murder charge against 31 people held in connection with the Hindraf rally.

The attorney-general withdrew the charge on Monday.

On the same note, the MHS president reiterated the NGOs’ appeal to the prime minister to reconsider the ISA detention of the five Hindraf leaders.

“We anxiously await the release of the 5 detainees under the ISA who should not be deprived of their right to a trial,” he said - Malaysiakini.

MY JOURNAL will also submit a report to Malaysian Hindu Sangam soon.

25. Open Court Hearing

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the video scandal of a Lawyer broking appointments of Judges, will conduct its hearing in an open court from January 14 to 25.

The shocking video expose, that rocked the nation, was revealed by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of Parti Keadilan Rakyat on September 19, 2007.

Members of the public who would like to give evidence can contact the commission secretariat at 03-8885 1049/6 with a gist of evidence they would like to present. More...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

24. Abolish ISA

KUALA LUMPUR: A crowd of 100 people, mostly women and children, gathered at Menara Tun Razak to hand over a memorandum to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) demanding the abolition of the Internal Security Act and release of detainees.

The memorandum was handed over to Suhakam secretary Ahmad Yusuf Ngah by Aliza Jaffar, whose husband is former ISA detainee Saari Sungib.

"We want the detainees to be released and if they are guilty, to be tried in a court of law. Even hardcore criminals know when they are going to be released. This is unfair," she said.

The gathering, jointly organised by Family Support Centre and Abolish ISA Movement, was also attended by wives and children of ISA detainees and ex-detainees - NST.

Not just the ISA, but a host of the outdated Federal Constitution and Laws related to OSA, PP&P , the Police Act and many others to keep in line with modern times and the new millennium of basic Human Rights. I suggest a Law Reform Council to look into these matters with urgency with a view to abolishing, amending or even introducing new laws to keep up with the new realities of Malaysia. Some of our laws have been in existence for 50 years or more and are therefore outdated.

23. Murder Charges Dropped

I would like to thank the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for having appealed on behalf of the 31 and to the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail for having magnanimously withdrawn the murder charges against all 31 of those who took part in the Hindraf rally. Also to be thanked are the team of lawyers and the presiding judge of the case. See report here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

22. Suhakam's Stand

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Human Rights Commission's (Suhakam) stand on the Internal Security Act has always been consistent.

Commission member Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said detention without trial was not an accepted norm.

Referring to a statement by Malaysian Hindu Council chairman Datuk R. Nadarajah, Siva Subramaniam said he had attended a meeting between the prime minister and non-governmental organisations to voice his opinion on issues affecting national unity.

"I was not there as a Suhakam representative. As far as we (Suhakam) are concerned, if someone has violated the law, he should be tried in court and given a chance to defend his actions. This is justice." - NST.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

21. Detention Unconstitutional

The Star report of 15th December, 2007.

IPOH: A writ of habeas corpus has been filed for the release of lawyer M. Manoharan from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh, who is acting for Manoharan, filed the application at 4.30pm at the Ipoh High Court yesterday.

After the papers were filed, the court fixed next Wednesday for mention.

The Internal Security Minister and head of the Kamunting detention camp were named as respondents.

Karpal Singh said the two-year detention order issued by the Internal Security Ministry was unconstitutional and invalid.

He said the detention order was not done in accordance with Section 73 of the ISA, which required police investigations and recommendations to be given to the Internal Security Minister within a period of 60 days before a detention order was issued.

During the 60-day period, he said, a detainee would be allowed to put up his defence before the Minister made a decision on the detention order.

Manoharan, who was detained at 2pm on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur, has already been placed under a two-year detention order.

The order was handed to his wife V.N.S Pushpaneela when she visited Manoharan at the Kamunting detention camp in Taiping yesterday.

“For the first time in the legal history of the ISA in Malaysia, a two-year detention order has been issued against a detainee without the initial 60-day period,” said Karpal Singh.

“The order made by the Minister is defective,” he pointed out.

Manoharan and V. Ganabatirau, who are DAP members, are among five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders who were detained under the ISA on Thursday.

The others are lawyers P. Uthayakumar and R. Kenghadharan, and Hindraf coordinator T. Vasanthakumar.

Karpal Singh was denied entry to visit the detainees.

The detention order against Manoharan states that since Oct 6, 2007, he had willingly played an active part in the unregistered Hindraf and had acted as its leader and legal adviser.

The order, effective Thursday, states that Hindraf had conducted activities that threatened the security of the country by holding illegal gatherings, handing over of memoranda and forums.

Those activities could incite racial sentiments and hatred against the Government among the Indians, added the detention order which was signed by the Internal Security Minister.

To be successful in its activities, it said, Hindraf had tried to obtain international recognition for its struggles and assistance from terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelem to start a riot in the country.

The order also cited seven incidents in October and November when Manoharan was said to have taken part in those activities deemed to be a threat to national security and inciting racial sentiments among Indians.

Meanwhile, The Star today reports:

DAP lawyers will represent the five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) officials detained under the Internal Security Act.

Party central executive committee member A. Sivanesan, who will be among the lawyers, said initially, the party only represented its members M. Manoharan and V. Ganabatirau who are the among the detained Hindraf officials.

The other three are lawyers P. Uthayakumar and R. Kenghadharan, and Hindraf coordinator T. Vasanthakumar.

“We only received the detention order for Manoharan on Friday and have filed an application at the Ipoh High Court.

“As for Uthayakumar and Kenghadharan, we have received the detention order and will be filing the application tomorrow.

“We will obtain the detention orders for Ganabatirau and Vasanthakumar on Tuesday,” Sivanesan told a press conference yesterday
In Penang, Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh said he would be moving a motion in Parliament on Tuesday for a review of the detention order of the five Hindraf leaders.

If it had not been for these Hindraf Leaders organising a peaceful rally, the meeting between the Prime Minister and Indian NGOs would never have taken place. The disturbances took place because the police stepped in. I have previously stated that "It Takes Two to Tango." Without police interference, it would have been a peaceful protest on a Sunday, like in many developed nations of the world. The Hindraf group is a god-fearing group of lawyers, who spoke on behalf of the community. These Malaysian lawyers are not communists and have no links with communists or terrorists. The rally was held because nobody listened to them. They had written numerous letters to the leaders of this country to discuss the problems of the community but nobody bothered. As such they should not be detained under the ISA, which itself is against the human rights principle of 'innocent until proven guilty', as enunciated in the Federal Constitution.

The first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, defined the purpose of the act as to "be used solely against the communists... My Cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent".

Theirs was a Malaysian Indian cause, pure and simple. The ISA was formulated during the Malayan Emergency in 1948, to tackle the communist problem, and it is not applicable here and is a nullity by our constitution.

20. Global Warming Pact

UN Climate Chief Yvo De Boer (L) gestures next to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (C) and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AFP): World climate negotiators set a 2009 deadline Saturday for a landmark treaty to fight global warming after two weeks of intense haggling led to a climbdown by an isolated United States.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who flew to the Indonesian island of Bali for a late appeal for flexibility, praised the deal as a "pivotal first step" to confront climate change, "the defining challenge of our time."

Following gruelling all-night talks, the conference of 190 nations finally launched a process to negotiate a new treaty for when the UN Kyoto Protocol's commitments expire in 2012. More...

... Welcome to the Brave New World.

19. 68 Golds for Malaysia

KORAT, Dec 15 (Bernama): The Malaysian contingent ended their Korat SEA Games campaign on a high with 68 gold medals to finish second overall behind host Thailand who finished at the top with 183 gold medals.

The 68 gold, 52 silver and 96 bronze feat ranks as the best performance in a SEA Games held outside the country and also was the second best performance in the history of the SEA Games since 1959 (SEAP Games).

Malaysia's best ever performance was when the 2001 Games was hosted in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia emerged overall champion with 111 gold, 75 silver and 85 bronze and the second best performance before this (67) was also when Kuala Lumpur hosted the Games in 1989. More...

Syabas and Tahniah to the Malaysian Contingent. And over to Vientiane (Laos) in 2009.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

18. PM listens to Indians

PUTRAJAYA: A frank and open discussion. That was how representatives of Indian groups described their two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday.

The talks centred on issues affecting the community, particularly its socio-economic standing in the country.

A spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office said Abdullah told the representatives of the 13 non-governmental organisations what the Government was doing to help uplift the economic and social standing of the Indian community.

“He also explained the Government’s stand on the Hindraf issue. All those who attended pledged to work with the Government for the betterment of the Malaysian Indian community,'' he added.

The meeting took place just 24 hours after the arrest of five Hindraf leaders under the Internal Security Act on Thursday.

The spokesman said Abdullah also stressed on the importance of preserving peace and stability, which was important to a developing nation like Malaysia.

“One thing for certain is that the NGOs disagreed with the way Hindraf used demonstrations to voice its views and claims, specifically ethnic cleansing of the Indian community, which they said did not make sense,” he added.

The 13 NGOs that attended the meeting were the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, Malaysian Hindu Dharma Mamandram, Malaysian Hindu Association, Sri Murugan Centre, Malaysian Hindu Youth Council, Malaysian Tamil Youth Bell Clubs Council, and Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The others were the Malaysian Indian Business Association, National Land Finance Cooperative Society, National Union of Plantation Workers, Malaysian Tamil School Headmasters Association, Child Information Learning and Development Centre, and Yayasan Strategik Sosial.

Works Minister and MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and Suhakam commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam also attended the meeting.

Malaysia Hindu Dharma Mamandram president Assoc Prof N.S. Rajendran said the meeting was called to hear the expectations and feelings of the Indian community.

“He asked us to be frank about the real situation. All of us were given a chance to express our views.

“We raised issues on education, civil service, promotions, racial integration, religion and others.

“The Prime Minister was very attentive and took down notes,” he said.

Rajendran said: “Some of the representatives raised ‘rather hard issues’ to which Abdullah replied ‘Don’t worry, I am here to listen and I want you all to be frank’.

“The Prime Minister also stressed that this would not be the last meeting. He said he would have a discussion with Samy Vellu on the issues raised,” he added.

Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said they asked Abdullah to consider releasing the five Hindraf leaders held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and charge them in court.

“We also made a request to release the 31 people charged in court as they were at a place of worship (Batu Caves) and many of them were merely bystanders who might have just questioned the police and were arrested,” he added.

Vaithilingam said he also agreed to be the coordinator to prepare a memorandum to be submitted to Abdullah on the community’s plight.

Siva Subramaniam said it was the first time he saw NGOs boldly pouring out all their grievances.

Before the discussion Abdullah also met with Bar Council chairman S. Ambiga - The Star.

Where is the HOTLINE promised by MIC Chief for problems to be sent? I suggest a website so that all can send and read the problems faced by the community.

17. Brink of Accord

BALI, Indonesia: Delegates at the U.N. Climate Change Conference extended closed-door talks into an extra day Saturday, nearing resolution of a dispute over how far future negotiations should go in trying to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was arriving Saturday morning, either to announce the successful launching of the "Bali Roadmap" negotiations or to help break any lingering impasse. More...

16. 26,000 displaced

Floods in Malaysia, triggered by heavy monsoon rains, have left at least 14 people dead and more than 26,000 homeless - Reuters.

Friday, December 14, 2007

15. Use of ISA slammed

Excerpts of Views of Leaders from today's Malaysiakini.

Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP MP for Ipoh Timur

ISA, detention without trial, the infamous and notorious law whereby a person can be detained indefinitely without any grounds of offence, I think, is something which never should have been enabled.

I think if they are guilty of sedition or whatever it is, they should be charged in court and let their guilt be established after an open trial (where they are) allowed to defend themselves.

Karpal Singh, DAP National Chairperson and Bukit Gelugor MP

I think the use of the ISA under these circumstances cannot be justified, or (even) under any circumstances. He should be given an opportunity to face trial in an open court if there is evidence. I think the home minister is going too far in having invoked the ISA.

Our men are inside, M Manoharan and V Ganabatirau, (are) members of DAP. We will definitely take the necessary action not only for both of them, even the others. In the public interest, action should be taken by DAP to make sure nobody is victimised by the provisions of ISA.

Ambiga Sreenevasan, President, Bar Council

I am very shocked and saddened by the announcement of ISA arrests. The Bar Council has always been against detention without trial. It is our view that they should be brought to trial.

In the meantime, we trust that they will be treated humanely, that their families will be kept informed as to their whereabouts and that they will receive proper care including medical treatment. The Bar Council calls for their immediate release.

Amnesty International Malaysia is extremely regretful that after 50 years of independence and in the 20th anniversary year of Ops Lalang, the government has yet again resorted to using the ISA to suppress peaceful political, academic and social activities, and legitimate constructive criticism by NGOs and other social pressure groups.

Today's ISA arrests are clearly meant to limit the political space for important debates on issues of economic policy, corruption and other social challenges.

Amnesty International Malaysia is also extremely concerned at this juncture because the ISA is also an indisputable symbol of torture, as confirmed by the court judgment on former ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin.

We hereby call on the Executive to abolish the ISA and rectify the culture of impunity that exists in Malaysia. We also call on the Executive to implement the royal commission's recommendations and to implement the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission to investigate such abuses in the future.

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami)

CIJ and the Wami are deeply disturbed that the government has resorted to the draconian ISA to arrest five leaders of Hindraf.

The arrests indicate that the government of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has lost all respect for the mandate that the people gave him based on his promises for reform and greater accountability.

CIJ and Wami are concerned that such a blatant crackdown will lead to instability which the government says it is trying to prevent. The use of ISA spreads terror and unrest among citizens and seriously mars the standing of the country internationally.

We urge the government to release the five immediately or give them the recourse to a trial in court.

Norhayati Kaprawi, programme manager, Sisters in Islam (SIS)

SIS strongly urges the government to review its decision to use the ISA against five Hindraf leaders; (we) call for their immediate release.

SIS wishes to remind the government that the use of the ISA, which denies citizens the right to defend themselves in a court of law, is against the principles of democracy, good governance and Islam Hadhari.

The use of the ISA clearly contradicts and brings disgrace to the international image of Malaysia, especially since Malaysia sits on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Aliran Executive Committee

Aliran condemns the arrest of five Hindraf leaders under the obnoxious ISA. These arrests are certainly a huge step backwards for democracy.

Detaining them under this undemocratic law will not resolve the underlying causes of the grievances and disillusionment that have been expressed by the Hindraf leaders and which have struck a chord among Indian Malaysians.

Malaysians will know that what the BN is trying to protect is its own security and interest and the survival of the (BN component party) MIC. It is the fear of the eroding loss of confidence that has driven the BN to take this desperate action.

Aliran calls on the government to immediately charge all of them in a court of law if they have flouted any law or release them unconditionally.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

14. Royal Probe Team

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today named a six-member Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by former Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor to investigate the controversial video clip featuring a conversation on the appointment of judges. More...

13. New CJ for Justice

PUTRAJAYA: Newly-appointed Chief Justice Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad has vowed to “do what he honestly believes to be right, as best he can” to improve the public’s perception of the judiciary.

In his inaugural speech, he said that his appointment was a heavy burden, more so during a “challenging time” now when public perceptions of the judiciary were disturbing.

Abdul Hamid said that such negative perceptions did not mean they were all true but had formed and spread over time. More...

Please read my comments here when he was appointed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12. Photos that Speak

Marchers in London are delivering a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for a strong UK climate change law.

More than 9,000 people are attempting to clear the beaches, while 140 ships are fighting the spill out at sea in South Korea.
Police allow Umno youth to protest a foreign issue of the Palestinians in the streets of Kuala Lumpur ( above) but not Hindraf to protest a local issue of unlawful Temple bashing by the authorities and killing of innocent Indians in Kampung Medan, among others, in Malaysia ! This is after numerous letters and protests to the leaders of the country to discuss the issues affecting the Indians here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

11. HR Abuses 2007

Amnesty International released its 2007 global report entitled "The State of the World's Human Rights". The Malaysian section of the report is presented in this video.

Human Rights is enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution and Malaysia is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

10. Human Rights Day

GENEVA (AFP) - Activists from France to China marked human rights day Monday by denouncing continued abuses, as the United Nations vowed to make sure all people worldwide enjoy equal rights and protection.

In a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the signing of the universal declaration of human rights in 1948, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the next 12 months would see all UN bodies taking part in a campaign "to promote the declaration's ideals and principles of justice and equality for everyone".

"The declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day it was adopted," Ban said in a video message to the UN Human Rights Council meeting here in Geneva. More...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

9. 31 killed in Myanmar

GENEVA (AFP) - At least 31 people were killed in Myanmar during a crackdown on anti-government protests in September, a United Nations human rights expert said on Friday.

More than 600 people are detained and 74 listed as missing in the wake of the crackdown, and Myanmar's government has not taken serious steps to respect human rights, UN expert Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said in a report.

Myanmar's junta had confirmed the deaths of 15 people during the unrest, but Pinheiro said he had received information that at least a further 16 people had been killed. More...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

8. Indians - the Facts

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid in Malaysiakini

The Indian community in this country is ailing and no argument by any Barisan Nasional (BN) leader can rebut this fact, according to one researcher.

Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation director and researcher Charles Santiago said the recent remark by a deputy minister that the Indians were doing better than the Malays, gave the wrong impression.

Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Zainal Abidin Osman told the Dewan Rakyat that the household income for Indians in 2004 was RM3,456, while it was RM2,711 for the 'Malays' and RM4,437 for the Chinese.

The spotlight fell on the Indian community following a mass rally on Nov 25 organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which saw some 30,000 people taking to the streets amid allegations of marginalisation and ill treatment.

So are the Indians better off as claimed by Zainal Abidin?

"This is not true," stressed Santiago when met yesterday. "He must have acquired his facts from the Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP) but I can tell you that Zainal's method of approaching the issue was incorrect."

Research showed that Zainal did acquire his facts from the 9MP in which the income per capita indicator had shown that the Indian household income was higher than the bumiputera.

However, Santiago noted that the key word here is the term 'bumiputera'.

He said the bumiputera category included non-Malay bumiputeras like the natives in Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli.

This "weighted down the per capita income of the well-off Malay bumiputeras," he added. "Their (non-Malay bumiputera) income is one of the lowest in the country and of course if you categorise them as a single bumiputera ethnic group, the income index for the well-off Malay bumiputera will be lower than the Indians because the non-Malay bumiputera population is considerably high," he explained.
The 9MP's Employment by Occupation and Ethnic Group chart from 2000 to 2005 also shows that the Indians were economically the worst of the three major races in this country. ( See above chart ).

In 2005, for the low-wage labour sectors like plant, machine operators and assemblers, Indians constitute the highest number at 20.8 %, compared to bumiputeras (15.5 %) and Chinese (11.1 %).

Indians also dominate the lowest-paid non-production employment sector such as janitors and cleaners, with16.3 % compared to bumiputeras (9.9 %) and Chinese (8 %).

Another startling fact was that under the 9MP, a total of RM64 million had supposedly been allocated for 525 Tamil schools but only a total of RM2 million was given, which means that each school will only get a total of RM24,780 for a five-year period.

There are 148 Tamil schools which are fully aided while the remaining 396 are partially aided despite a Social Science Foundation's study showing that Tamil primary schools performed much better than national schools.

Apart from the schools issue, about 70,000 Indians born in this country do not have identity cards or birth certificates.

Set-up task force

Although Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi promised to elevate the status of Indians under the 9MP saying that they will be given a compulsory three percent equity ownership by 2010, Santiago fails to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"No concrete mechanism to introduce this law was mentioned in the 9MP," he said.

"The 9MP has 599 pages but there is no mention about how the Indians are to enjoy the benefit of the compelling of businesses to give a three percent equity to them," he added.

If the government is serious in tackling Indian woes, Santiago said emphasis must be placed on education.

"Most of the Indians out there are unskilled and they cannot cope with a world that is ever demanding for more skilled workers.

"If education for the Indians remains as it is, how will they survive? This is the kind of situation that forces them to resort to crime," he added.

He suggested that the government set up a task force to be chaired by the prime minister himself to focus on measures to help tackle the 'Indian problem'.

"It must be Abdullah himself. No one else can solve this but the head of the policy makers," he added.

Friday, December 7, 2007

7. Empathy, not Sympathy

By KJ John in Malaysiakini

The Hindraf rally and its claims being circulated abroad have come as a bolt of lightning to the government, with the prime minister being visibly upset with some of the accusations. He believes these are a pack of lies, but there is never smoke without a fire.

The fact that the Hindraf march involved about 30,000 people should cause even greater concern to all observers. Maybe we need to learn to listen. Even MIC has not totally dismissed it although its head continues to speak the language of denial.

With the full round of emotions having been expressed, even the PM has now begun to state that he will listen; that he has ‘big ears’. More editorials and mainstream writers are also beginning to address the symbolic but significant nature of the protest. Even the outspoken Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz has stated that the PM should hold a meeting, albeit unconditional, with Hindraf leaders.

What then really is this particular poor Indian problem, especially the issues highlighted by Hindraf, without necessarily getting sidetracked with the words and phrases used in their document of hope? To me, such excessive and emotive language is normal; often used by groups who feel marginalised and down-trodden. And, maybe even more, if the spokespersons are self-appointed representatives who have a real feel for the cause and issues.

Take it that we are only seeing the tip of the real iceberg. We had better try to understand the whole iceberg. Such actions are often based on a psychology of feeling deprived and being treated like the underdog. They do not really need any of our sympathy, but rather our empathy.

It does not matter to them if the PM, in his personal capacity, has given money to repair temples in his constituency. What matters is whether the system of administration, at all levels, treats each and every one of them as legitimate and rightful citizens full of national and human dignity. That is where we may all have failed; as long as the rest of us citizens are able to talk about their issues without feeling any real concern, as if this is only an academic exercise.

To me it is all about their sense and loss of community dignity; as downtrodden and marginalised poor Indians mainly of the Tamil origin and who largely belonged to the plantation labour force. Today, with Malaysians owning most of the plantations, the new workforce has effectively transferred to the use of newer foreign labour who are cheaper to maintain.

This may be why Indian Malaysian anger is now directed at the British Crown and their agents. Were they in fact responsible for the wrongful transfer, or was it trafficking, of such indentured labour? Let us therefore really try to begin to understand and appreciate the psychology of this bottom 30 percent marginalised category of society which often feels like it is second-class citizens in their own country, even after 50 years.

Unless we really take the time to understand, we may miss out on their real concerns - many other equally marginalised Malaysians may also be in the same psychological boat. Therefore, it may be prudent for us, as urbanites and middle-class citizens who feel everything is all right to review the situation, so we can empathise with our brethren.

Chaotic transition

Let me speculate and enumerate the single core issue that may have brought so many out on the streets on Nov 25. It may a classic case of the lack of a social identity and a circumstantial denial of their individual and personal dignity. I see two relevant explanations for their possible anger and disappointment.

For various reasons related to our massive industrialisation and developmental successes, the plantation industry has become no more the protected comfort terrain of workers. Under the British and the older ownership infrastructure, they had homes, schools and places of worship which were secluded and protected. Therefore, although poor and simple, they had a sense of belonging and a sense of community.

When such infrastructure was sold, for urbanisation and for housing development or for industrial development, no one has guaranteed this community their traditional way of life. In short they have no social safety net or welfare department to oversee the transition to an urban setting and modern living. Even if they have the financial capacity, I believe that their traditional cultural and community lifestyle is not sustainable in fractured new urban settings.

The transition has taken place in a chaotic and unstructured way, at a time when the workers were getting older and were often unable to financially sustain their lives. Many such groups have argued and pleaded their case via the newspapers, but perhaps we have not listened enough.

When displaced from an environment of comfort and if one cannot argue the case in Malay with the relevant government departments, one would feel lost. Yes, it is fair to say that they should be able to speak and write Malay after 50 years; but let us remember that they were educated in Tamil and only up to primary level. Also adequately documented is that, with some exceptions, the majority of them drop out of the national school system after Form Three.

Long-term deafness

Are my concerns valid? Do we know the number of estates broken up for housing and industrial development? Are these people victims of circumstances beyond their control? Are they really troublemakers? Have they ever marched like this before? Why not? Do we even know the extent of the real marginalised and poor Indian problem? Can any authority say categorically that they understand and appreciate this problem? Have not memoranda been put up umpteen times before?

In fact, I remember one instance when I was involved in developing the above hypothesis about 15 years ago. I believe the input went into the 7th Malaysian Plan process. Even more recently, the CPPS via its 9th Plan submission had an explicit chapter entitled ‘The case of low-income Malaysian Indians’. Now, my question is if anybody read and understood the real issues being highlighted. Or, can we be honest enough to say that Umno’s agenda within the 9th Plan was viewed as far more urgent and the CPPS submission was discredited as being emotional?

Let me conclude with large paragraphs of a letter Dr Lim Teck Ghee of CPPS/Asli wrote to Malaysiakini: “There is plenty of blame to go around with regard to the marginalisation of rural Indians. A momentous opportunity to put this right was lost between the 60s and 80s when the Felda schemes selected settlers almost entirely from one ethnic group. Note that the original Land (Group Settlement Areas) Act of 1960 governing the development of scheme areas does not specify any ethnic preference in settler recruitment, merely requiring settlers to be Malaysian citizens. Also, Felda’s own policy guidelines permit it to recruit 30 percent of any scheme population from non-Malays for schemes that are located outside Malay reservation areas.

“Yet, despite sizable numbers of needy and deserving non-Malay rural poor, especially Indians, little effort had been given by the government to recruiting non-Malay settlers in its land development schemes. In 1980, the World Bank lent its voice to concerns over the ethnic bias in settler selection by pointing out that if the government was serious ‘about increasing the non-Malay share in agriculture, some increase in the non-Malay share of settlers was warranted’.

It was especially concerned about Indian estate workers who faced increasing under-employment following the estates’ conversion from rubber to oil palm and who in normal circumstances ‘would be good candidates for land development schemes’ (see Lim Teck Ghee and Richard Dorall, ‘Contract Farming in Malaysia’ in D Glover and Lim Teck Ghee, eds. Contract Farming in Southeast Asia: Three Country Studies, Kuala Lumpur, 1992).

“Many years ago, the British colonial government in Malaya was accused of treating the Indians like oranges, sucked up and spat out as pips; today, our own government must be asked to explain why there seems to be little change in policy towards rural Indians.”

Lim wrote this in May 2007. Did anyone listen then? Why has it been so difficult to assign a team in the EPU to look into the real problems of marginalised and poor Indians, based on even the CPPS submission? Why has it been so difficult to come up with a blueprint for the development and emancipation of poor Indians in Malaysia?

The PM and all of the cabinet does not have to get worked up over the Hindraf protest. Take it as just that: a protest by poor Indian Malaysians and their supporters. In American philosophy, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Hear the squeaks and don’t get upset with the process. They did what they did, because they believed that no one has been listening.

Let is convince them that the government is in fact listening. Come on Malaysia; we can empathise with this problem, if we choose to listen.

Read it all here.

I am suggesting to the MIC to set up several HOTLINE phones and also a HOTLINE for emails and a dedicated website so that all can read the problems submitted.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

6. Indians at Crossroads

By M. Veera Pandiyan of The Star

Problems gnawing the community need to be looked at comprehensively and tackled through progressive, long-term solutions.

What lies ahead for the Indian community? That’s the question of the moment in the wake of the Nov 25 protest that saw thousands of Indians venting their anger and unhappiness in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

As for the sole party representing the community in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, the more pertinent questions are: Whither the MIC? or, Will the MIC wither?

The party is loath to admit it, but a great deal needs to be done to bring the majority of Indians back to its politics of consensus and compromise instead of letting them veer off into the perilous politics of confrontation.

To be fair, the MIC cannot be faulted for lacking in plans. The party has formulated a wide range of policies and programmes aimed at improving the economic standing of the community and, as its president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has pointed out, these have been included in the 9th Malaysia Plan.

The party prides itself on having made tremendous improvements in the quality of education in Tamil primary schools as well as in providing more opportunities for Indian students to pursue higher education.

The Maju Institute of Educational Development, Kolej Tafe in Seremban and the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology in Kedah, are often cited as sterling successes accomplished by the party.

As for economic improvement, the party’s biggest headache is its investment arm, Maika Holdings, set up with some RM110mil raised from the community. The shares have since gone into a tailspin, and the company is now debt-ridden, with millions erased from its value.

The party’s leaders, however, shun talking about this, focusing more on the MIC’s successes in getting a slew of special allocations and grants and programmes in skills training for youths, micro credit loans and entrepreneurship training.

But many Indians feel that tangible help has not filtered down to those who need it most. The detractors dismiss the MIC’s efforts as “too little, too late and too ineffective” to bring about any major difference to the community.

On the positive side, the Nov 25 protest may have indirectly boosted the party’s voice in the coalition, and strengthened its hands to bring about a better deal for Indians.

The protest has definitely opened the eyes of its partners in the Barisan Nasional, who may now empathise a lot more with the MIC’s requests for effective, urgent measures.

On Monday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who was responding to the Hindu Rights Action Force’s (Hindraf) demands to meet Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said any such meeting must be held in the presence of MIC leaders.

“To meet Hindraf without the MIC means we agree that the MIC has failed, when it has not,” he stressed. “It will also be an act of disloyalty to the MIC, which has been a partner in the Barisan Nasional for the last 50 years.”

Although several other ministers have voiced opposition to the Prime Minister meeting Hindraf leaders, it might be a more savvy strategy than just demonising them in the media.

After all, the publicity generated from all the bashing so far has only resulted in three local lawyers, largely unknown outside of their community, let alone the world, becoming household names.

The primary focus of our leaders should be a comprehensive identification of the problems facing the Indian community and strategies to redress them.

Part of the quandary is that there are now four players – the MIC and PPP in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and the wannabe components of IPF and the newly created Malaysian Indian United Party – vying for the attention of two million Indians.

Hindraf’s entry has only brought a new and more dangerous equation to the issue. The hardline communal stance adopted by its leaders has not helped the Indian community’s cause.

Their words and actions have drawn implications of religious motivation to the fore, distracting attention from economic inequity, which remains the crux of the discontent.

Hindraf’s statements, which border on the seditious, and its preposterous claims that the Government is practising ethnic cleansing, as inked in their memorandum to the British government, have irked more than just the national leadership.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh is among Opposition leaders who are uncomfortable with Hindraf leaders' choice of words. Yesterday, he dispelled the “ethnic cleansing” claims as “baseless and untrue”.

The group's latest efforts to seek international support for its cause can only lead to more isolation from the national political process.

To go back to the angst of the Indian community, the deep-rooted dissatisfaction is unlikely to melt away easily or dissipate through stop-gap measures like special committees to look into their problems or hotlines to handle grouses.

As such, the onus is on our leaders to look at the problems facing the community conscientiously and devise progressive, long-term solutions.

Shallow politicians can of course claim that Indians do not have the numbers to make an impact in any of the electoral constituencies.

The wiser ones will realise the implications of any community’s frustrations and resentment in today’s globalised world.

Read it here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

5. Bar Council - No Walk

The Bar Council has called off its "People's Freedom Walk", in view of the "unfortunate and wholly unwarranted" controversy surrounding the event.

"The Bar Council has given anxious consideration to the present circumstances that surround this event, particularly the interests of the public and the Malaysian Bar. In consequence, the Bar Council has decided to cancel the walk from Sogo to Central Market," its chairwoman Ambiga Sreenevasan said in a press statement today.

She also said the walk would have demonstrated racial harmony and – as has been demonstrated before – that the people can walk peaceably in unity for human rights the world over.

"It would have been an opportunity for the authorities to show to the world that we subscribe to these values," she said. "It is a missed opportunity."

Ambiga said the Bar Council also took the position that the requirement for a police permit, under the Police Act, to hold the event would be a violation of the people's constitutional right to peaceful assembly.

"In fact, the Royal Commission on the Police Force and Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) have said as much, and have called for a repeal of this law, as has the Bar Council. More...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

4. No Conditions Attached

If there is going to be any meeting between the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, it must be done without any conditions and in a mutually-agreed manner, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said.

Yesterday, Hindraf called for a dialogue with Abdullah to discuss the social and economic problems faced by the Indians. This was following an illegal rally staged by Hindraf in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25, to voice concerns on the issues faced by the community. At least 94 people have been charged for allegedly being involved in the illegal assembly.

Asked to comment on Hindraf legal adviser P. Uthayakumar’s remark that Hindraf had resorted to the rally because it had exhausted all avenues to overcome the community’s problems, Mohamed Nazri said it was not a valid claim.

Asked to comment on Hindraf’s complaint about the demolition of temples, he said he agreed it was insensitive of the officials in Selangor to tear down the temples on the eve of Deepavali. "I agree that was stupid of the officials not to be considerate in sensitive matters like this. It could have been done in a better way if we had just waited a few more days and let the Hindus celebrate Deepavali.

Read all in TheSun here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

3. Uthaya to meet PM

The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is seeking an appointment to meet Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to discuss problems and issues confronting the Indian community with the prime minister.

"We trust Pak Lah (Abdullah)," said Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar to Bernama after attending a special prayer at the Batu Caves Temple here today.

Abdullah said on Friday he was willing to look into all complaints raised by the people as he has been listening to them.

The Prime Minister said it was the government's duty to address the people's grouses.

He, however, said the people must be patient as some of the remedial action took time to be implemented - Bernama.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

2. Agency under PM

The Federation of Indian Non-Governmental Organisation's (Fingo), a registered society acting as an umbrella body for all Indian NGOs in the country, has welcomed the move by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to look into problems faced by the Indian community.

Its president P. Muguntha said, however, Fingo felt that there should be a separate agency directly reporting to the Prime Minister to handle the matter. More...

Makes sense because the implementation, supervision and funding will have to be by the Prime Minister.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

1. PM's Big Ears

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today he will attend to all the complaints raised by the people as he has been listening to them.

He said that though some of the complaints were hurtful, he would act on them.

"There are some complaints about our economy, about what is happening in the country. I have been listening to all these. The PM has big ears. I have been listening but some of them (complaints) are hurtful," he said yesterday.

Addressing some 500 guests, Abdullah said it was the government's duty to attend to all the grouses of the people.

However, he added, the people must be patient because some of those actions took a longer time to be implemented.

"If you are impatient, I'm even more impatient. Some things can be done fast, but there are others which require some time and (yet) others that require a longer time," he said. More...

Friday, November 30, 2007

29. Review of Restriction Order

KUALA LUMPUR: The chairman of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and four legal advisors have applied to the High Court here to have a restriction order issued by a magistrate against them last week reviewed and set aside.

The five – P. Waythamoorthy and lawyers M. Manoharan, P. Uthayakumar, V.S. Ganapathy Rao and R. Kengadhedharan – are asking the court to declare the Nov 22 order which barred them from holding the Sunday rally as void under the law.

The application filed at the High Court yesterday by the group's lawyer Gobind Singh Deo is supported by Manoharan's affidavit. More...

28. US Defends Protests

The United States underscored on Wednesday the rights of Malaysians to hold peaceful protests, after Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's government swiftly suppressed mass rallies and threatened to use a draconian law to detain protesters indefinitely without trial.

"We believe citizens of any country should be allowed to peacefully assemble and express their views," a US State Department official said when commenting on the crackdown of unprecedented street protests in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur this month.

One called for electoral reform which drew some 30,000 people, and another by at least 8,000 ethnic Indians last Sunday was aimed at highlighting racial discrimination.

The rallies were the biggest in a decade and took place despite bans ordered by police, who broke up the gatherings with tear gas, water cannons and baton charges.

The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not go beyond his succinct statement, which was the first reaction by Washington on the rare outpouring of anti-government dissent in Malaysia.

The protests led to a veiled threat by Abdullah on Tuesday to use the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) that allows for detention without trial to stem the dissent.

Rights groups, who have campaigned to have the ISA abolished, cautioned the prime minister against using such laws.

"It is a huge mistake for Prime Minister Abdullah to even consider using this unjust law to crack down on peaceful demonstrators," said T Kumar, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific advocacy director in Washington.

"We strongly urge him not to use it." Amnesty has also called on the US authorities to check whether excessive force was used in quelling the recent demonstrations and to oppose any use of the ISA against peaceful protests, he said.

Abdullah argued that the ISA was "a preventive measure to spare the nation from untoward incidents that can harm the prevailing peace and harmony and create all sorts of adverse things."

"So, I don't know (when to invoke the ISA), but ISA will be there. When it is appropriate to use it, it will be used," he said.

Malaysia is holding more than 100 people under the ISA, about 80 of them alleged Islamic militants. Rights groups have long campaigned for them to be freed or brought to trial.

The legislation allows for two-year detention periods that can be renewed indefinitely. The government maintains that detention without trial is needed as a first line of defence against terrorism.

US intelligence consultancy Stratfor, in a bulletin to clients this week, said the Malaysian demonstrations signaled "instability" ahead of national elections expected early next year.

"The recent demonstrations signal chaos and unpredictability to come before elections are announced, but Badawi's grip on internal security is not going to loosen any time soon," it said - AFP.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

27. Implement IPCMC

HINDRAF Public Assembly: Respect and implement the Royal Commissions recommendations on policing immediately

Amnesty International Malaysia is gravely concerned over recent events regarding the conduct and response by the Royal Malaysian Police towards freedom of assembly in Malaysia. It is our view that the police have resorted to unnecessary use of force on peaceful demonstrators and arbitrary arrests of hundreds of people for exercising their constitutional rights. Amnesty International is also seriously concerned over the act of intimidation and harassment based on racial profiling in the setting up of roadblocks before the November 25 rally. We are also alarmed at the unprecedented act of obtaining a blanket unilateral restraining order without the other party being given a right to be heard, hence imposing an unfounded opinion that public assembly is an act of nuisance and a threat to public safety.

In view of all this, we regret that the police continue to undermine the constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and personal liberties even after the matter had been strongly addressed by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police in 2005.

The right to assembly is a fundamental inherent right of all persons as provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution. In 2005, the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police, in recognition of this right, proposed an amendment to section 27 of the Police Act 1967 that imposes the requirement of a permit and the absolute discretion on the police to grant approval to public assemblies. This important recommendation was also echoed by the Report of the SUHAKAM Public Inquiry into the Incident at KLCC on 28 May 2006.

We regret that this recommendation has yet to be implemented by the government and public assemblies continue to be clamped down with excessive force as witnessed in the public rallies held on November 10 and 25 respectively. Amnesty International views that the police have the responsibility to abide by international standards for law enforcement officials, set out in the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which stipulate that law enforcement officials must maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons in the performance of their duties.

Amnesty International Malaysia also emphasizes that the authorities must respect the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, and not to arrest or detain anyone for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Amnesty International reiterates its call on the Malaysian Government to respect the findings and recommendations made the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysia Police and to amend Section 27 of the Police Act and to immediately implement the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as well as all the recommendations made in Chapter 10 of the commission's report. Amnesty International Malaysia also strongly urges the Royal Malaysian Police to respect and protect the rights of the people to peaceful assembly and their personal liberties.

Campaigns Coordinator
Amnesty International Malaysia

26 November 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

26. A Brave Judge

In 1996, Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid wrote a 33-page unsigned letter alleging corruption, abuse of power and misconduct against 12 fellow judges. The allegations were dismissed as baseless and he resigned as High Court judge shortly after that.

At yesterday’s talk, he said the selection of judges was very different from that of a CEO because the former had to hold and nurture the good name of his office, his nation and must possess certain characteristics and qualities that only a few could claim to have.

He added that physical and mental health, temperament, aptitude and financial background were all factors to look into during the selection process.

Read more here.

Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid is a one in a million. Certainly the qualities required of a judge are far different from a CEO. The Honourable Judge has mentioned them above. Justice means judges have to be totally independent and impartial and judge on merits and truthfulness. They have to earn that respect from the public by their considered judgements. They have to be thoroughly learned in their professional capacity and be respected by their colleagues in the judiciary and by the Bar members who appear before them. The learned and reading public can see through judgements made. Once they lose that 'honourable' capacity, it is time for them to go. But in the case of Datuk Syed Ahmad Idid he resigned because his word, which is his bond, was not taken seriously. An example of a fine, fearless judge, we often find the good ones leaving and the others staying.This does not mean we have all bad judges now. We have fine judges who do a decent job and bring much respect and honour to themselves, their profession and the country.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


MY JOURNAL was originally intended as my recording for a personal use. It was subsequently been made available to all so that the authorities and the relevant parties 'see' the problems. But of now every piece that I write is about the wrongs of the authorities. When it comes to such a situation, I take it that something is wrong with me and not the people/issues I write about. I need a break. Will see you on an irregular basis from now. There is sufficient reading material in the ARCHIVES of this blog.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

24. LCCT Bursting

(updated version)

The LCCT in Sepang is already overcrowded and is taking a toll on facilities and services.

It is now the holiday season with passenger traffic even higher.

Is there no head or a department at the airport to look and report on such problems before it comes to a crisis?

This is the case in many Government Departments not just LCCT. And the problem is never reported or action taken.

It infuriates the public. The consumer suffers.

After the problem is highlighted in the press (NST), Datuk Tony Fernandes acknowledges and suggests remedies.

If he can close his eyes and buy 200 aeroplanes, why cannot MAHB provide him enough space to turn around those planes and people? Shame on you MAHB. Utterly disgusting!

A spokesman for MAHB, which runs the airport said there are plans to expand the terminal while a new LCCT is being built. But it is all too late!

Don't complain about Tony's planes coming in late for operational reasons beyond his control, when you cannot even build an airport or provide facilities on time.

Let not people stop flying because of a bad airport. It should only be for a bad airline!

Can't the authorities be more proactive and solve a problem before it comes to a head.

Read here.

23. Royal Commission of Enquiry

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday announced that a Royal Commission of Enquiry, into the video tape scandal that rocked the nation, will be established.

He said the terms of reference and scope will be discussed at the next weekly cabinet meeting and then the members of the commission will be appointed.

"It is a good step and this is what we have been asking for" Bar Council Vice-President Ragunath Kesavan told AFP.

Bravo, Prime Minister for the setting up of the Royal Commission of Enquiry. It should be truly independent with sufficient scope and terms of reference to get to the bottom of the scandal and come up with recommendations as to its resolution and measures to strengthen the judiciary. Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang has given a list of do's and dont's on the appointment of members of the commission in Malaysiakini.

Friday, November 16, 2007

22. Apply for Land Titles

Perak MIC chief and state executive councillor Datuk G. Rajoo has urged the committees of the 1,500 'illegal' temples in the state to submit their application for land titles, Malaysian Nanban reported.

The state government had yet to reject any such land application, he told reporters at his Deepavali open house in Ipoh recently.

He said since 2000, about 38 temples had been given land titles.

Some of the temples were allowed to operate at the existing places while some were relocated and given 0.404 ha to build new premises.

He said that some temple committees refused to move their temples to other places and were operating 'illegally'.

If these temples did not apply for land titles, then they would be asked to move - The Star, 15.11.2007.

Fantastic, Datuk Rajoo, for the work you are doing for the Indian Community. This is the first such report I have read in an English Language daily of MIC doing service to the Indian rakyat. Thank you to the Perak State Government for the land approvals. I only hope all other state governments will follow the example of Perak and do the same to the hindu temples in their respective states. Please take proactive measures and resolve the issue before it leads to a demolishment of temples.

21. Bar EGM

Motion proposed by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and seconded by Haris Bin Mohamed Ibrahim for debate at the November 22 EGM.

A. The Royal Commission Of Enquiry

1. The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Judiciary to:

1.1 formally request, through the Acting Chief Justice, the establishment of a Royal Commission of Enquiry comprehensively mandated to enquire not only into the authenticity of the Video but also into its implications and ramifications;

1.2 take measures in the event that the Government fails to take any action on the said request within 30 days of the submission of the said request including the suspension of the judicial system, for an appropriate period or until determination of the issues at hand;

2. In the event the Judiciary suspends the judicial system, the Bar will endorse such action on the part of the Judiciary; and

3. In the event the Judiciary fails to make such a request within fourteen (14) days of this resolution, the Malaysian Bar will initiate processes in aid of a declining by the Malaysian Bar of appearances before the Superior and Subordinate Courts.

B. Independent Judicial Appointments and Promotions Commission

4. The Malaysian Bar further calls upon the Judiciary to, through the Acting Chief Justice, formally recommend the establishment of an independent judicial appointments and promotions commission to the Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang Dipertuan Agong and the Government of Malaysia;

C. Institutional Reforms

5. The Malaysian Bar further calls upon the Judiciary to establish a joint committee with the Malaysian Bar to urgently consider the need for institutional reforms, if any, and the manner in which such reforms can be effected.

Read More.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

20. Batu Buruk Shooting

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has initiated a public inquiry into the discharge of firearms by the police which injured two people during a demonstration in Batu Buruk, Terengganu, on Sept 8.

The inquiry will look into whether there was justification for the police to fire several gunshots at the assembly, given the circumstances at that time.

Suhakam has appointed three commissioners to conduct the inquiry, headed by Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who will be assisted by Prof Datuk Khoo Kay Kim and Tan Sri Asiah Abu Samah. More...

Bravo, Suhakam to initiate a probe of public importance. The public has a right to know why live shots were fired at an assembly by BERSIH. It is very often the police presence that leads to violence. The assembly members if left to themselves cannot initiate violence. Elementary... Dr Watson! It takes two to tango. The right to assembly is a basic human right and enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution. Any law made in defiance of this basic human right should be made a nullity by the law courts. A police permit should be given as a matter of right for any peaceful assembly ... the necessity to obtain one being for the police to be informed of the details of the assembly i.e. where, when, why, etc. We are now in the new millennium, perched for a complete overhaul of our laws to ensure BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

19. Prices Rise !!!

Kee's Cartoon in The Star.

"..... I am no expert in economics but for what is worth, I feel the leadership of this country is doing a lot of harm through their words, especially in issues related to economic expansion. If we want to introduce a two- or three-tier pricing system, we might as well look at how to introduce similar systems for basic necessities like flour, sugar and wheat.

You see, Khairy, the pakcik in the kampung also eats the same bread that we eat. How about a two-tier system between government servants and non-government servants?

Rather than talking about the rising prices of oil worldwide, which in actual fact should not bother us because we are exporters, we should be positive about how Malaysia is able to withstand the pressure. For every one dollar increase in world oil prices, Petronas’ income also increases. If Petronas is smart, they can make tonnes of money and bring it back home....." - excerpt from a letter to Malaysiakini by Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan Abdul Rahman, 12th November.

Where is Shafie Apdal? Is he aware that the prices of all consumer items have gone up in the markets, shops, supermarkets and hypermarkets and they are on the rise! What is the government doing about this? Or have they given up trying to control prices or anything for that matter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

18. Bar Council-PS12/11/07

The Bar Council sent a team of 40 lawyers to monitor the BERSIH gathering on 10 November 2007.

The gathering despite being attended by tens of thousands, was disciplined and peaceful contrary to recent statements by Ministers and the Inspector-General of Police. It proves once again that Malaysian citizens are rational and responsible people capable of exercising their rights of expression and assembly with mature restraint.

There were nevertheless several worrying features in the conduct of the police:

1. The large number of police personnel deployed to man blockades, to inspect and detain vehicles and persons, and further to prevent persons from entering the city to join the gathering was unreasonable. It was also a disproportionate use of resources which could have been channeled to other initiatives of crime-fighting.

2. The barricades around Dataran Merdeka with heavy police and FRU personnel aimed at prohibiting persons from entering the square forced large groups of people to be concentrated in the immediate vicinity of the square such as Central Market and Masjid Jamek. This caused more inconvenience to those who did not wish to be at the gathering, and strengthened the spirit of those who did.

3. The use of force around the areas of Masjid Jamek, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja Laut to disperse unarmed and non-provocative crowds without prior warning was unnecessary. Deploying physical aggression and violence, and spraying chemically-laced water and tear gas are measures of last resort, not of first instance. As a result, it was unfortunate that several people were injured and many others including bystanders hurt by the chemicals in the water and gas. It is noteworthy that the authorities initiated physical force on the crowds, and caused blockades and ‘stand-offs’ on the roads to prevent anyone from walking to Dataran Merdeka on to Istana Negara. Unsurprisingly however, and due to the sheer numbers of participants, the majority if not all of them found their way by different routes to the Istana Negara road.

4. The deployment of several police helicopters flying very low to the ground was extremely dangerous in addition to being provocative and a form of intimidation. Further, the noise the helicopters created interrupted essential communications for those who were at the gathering and the authorities on the ground.

5. Despite the recent introduction of section 28A of the Criminal Procedure Code, the police refused to give the Bar’s Urgent Arrest Lawyers Team access to those who were arrested and detained. No accurate and adequate information on the detainees and their grounds of arrest was forthcoming. Our lawyers had to force their way into the police station to seek further information. A police report has been lodged, and the Bar Council trusts the police will investigate the complaint immediately.

At about 11.00pm on 10 November 2007, 34 persons were arrested and released in separate batches. There were several who needed medical treatment and were sent to the hospital by our lawyers.

The Bar Council reiterates its position that citizens must be allowed the right to peacefully assemble in exercising their democratic and fundamental human right. We urge the authorities to facilitate this fundamental right of freedom of expression and assembly.

The BERSIH gathering is clear evidence

(a) that attempts to block assemblies would create greater unintended chaos than had the same be facilitated to proceed expeditiously and

(b) that large yet peaceful gatherings may be organised in our country without the necessity of obtaining permits from the police.

This requirement in section 27 of the Police Act 1967 that permits must be given before an assembly may be held must be repealed immediately.

Ambiga Sreenevasan
Malaysian Bar

This requirement in section 27 of the Police Act 1967 that permits must be given before an assembly may be held must be repealed immediately.This requirement violates Federal Constitution, Article 10(b) - "all citizens have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms."

The police force goes into full action only when there a mass public protest on a matter of public importance. I think mass protests are a necessity to swing the police into action.