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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Troops Back Home !

U.S. House passes legislation ordering troops back home

A sharply divided House of Representatives brushed aside a veto threat and passed legislation that would order President George W. Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by Oct. 1.
The 218-208 vote Wednesday came as the top U.S. commander in Iraq told lawmakers the country remained gripped by violence but was showing some signs of improvement.

Passage puts the bill on track to clear Congress by week's end and arrive on the president's desk in coming days as the first binding congressional challenge to Bush's handling of the conflict now in its fifth year.

"Our troops are mired in a civil war with no clear enemy and no clear strategy for success," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat.

Republicans promised to stand squarely behind the president in rejecting what they called a "surrender date" handed to the enemy. "Al-Qaida will view this as the day the House of Representatives threw in the towel," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

The $124.2 billion (euro91 billion) bill would fund the war, among other things, but demand troop withdrawals begin on Oct. 1 or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain standards. The bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008, allowing for forces conducting certain noncombat missions, such as attacking terrorist networks or training Iraqi forces, to remain.

Two Republicans - Reps. Wayne Gilchrest and Walter Jones - joined 216 Democrats in passing the bill. Voting no were 195 Republicans and 13 Democrats.House and Senate appropriators agreed to the legislation earlier this week. The Senate was expected to clear the measure Thursday, sending it to the president.

While Bush was confident the bill would ultimately fail because Democrats lacked the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, he kept up pressure on lawmakers - AP.

To ponder

"Being ignorant is not so
much a shame as being
unwilling to learn"
- Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Barisan Again

Just Call Me Cikgu, Says Parthiban

K. Parthiban, the victorious Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate in today's Ijok by-election, says he prefers the people to continue to call him "cikgu" (teacher). "Just call me cikgu. I prefer to be called cikgu. If they want to call me "Yang Berhormat", they can, but I prefer to be called just cikgu," he told reporters in his immediate reaction after being announced as the victor in the fiercely fought by-election.

Parthiban, 38, a former teacher, defeated Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, 61, by a 1,850-vote majority. Parthiban polled 5,884 votes against Khalid's 4,034.
Parthiban secured a higher majority compared to 1,649 by BN's Datuk K. Sivalingam in the last general election in 2004.

Parthiban, who is also Tanjung Karang MIC division secretary, said he would work to honour all promises made by BN to the people in the by-election.

Among the main issues he would strive to resolve are land titles, welfare aid and street lights.
"I will also fulfil my pledges to the constituents to the best of my ability. I will work hard for the people of Ijok," he said.

Parthiban said the BN's victory was a victory to the BN election machinery and the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
"We had expected to retain the seat with a bigger majority," he said, expressing his gratitude to every BN component party for their hardwork to ensure his victory.

Asked whether he would end his bachelorhood now that he had become a "Yang Berhormat", to the laughter of his supporters, a grinning Parthiban, said: "I've not given a thought to it yet".

Meanwhile, Khalid, a former corporate figure-turned businessman, said his defeat was not the end of his political career but instead marked the beginning of his active involvement with the opposition. "I will not quit politics," he told reporters at his residence.

Khalid said he learnt a good lesson from the nine-day campaign period, especially on the need to strengthen the support machinery.

"I learned a lot and understood the need to prepare an effective support group for the next general election," he said.

Khalid said he would not shy away if he was offered to contest again in the next general election - Bernama.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Olympics Torch shunned

Taiwan shuns Olympic Torch on principle

Taiwan’s decision to reject the Olympic torch provoked an outcry at home friday as the opposition and the media accused the government of letting politics interfere with sport.
Beijing Games organizers announced thursday that the flame would visit the island after sweeping through the cities of Pyongyang and Ho Chi Minh, before moving on to Hong Kong and Macau.

President Chen Shui-bian told reporters on Friday that relevant authorities deemed the plan unacceptable because “Taiwan’s status as a sovereignty country cannot be dwarfed.”
But opposition politicians were quick to condemn the decision.

“This is a rare opportunity to put Taipei and Taiwan in the international stage. We really regret losing this opportunity,” said Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party.

Presidential hopeful and former KMT chief Ma Ying-jeou blamed the government for rejecting the torch on political grounds.

“The [ruling] Democratic Progressive Party is going to hold its primary and now comes the decision that is against the mainstream opinions in the international community,” Ma said.
“It shows the government has little confidence in itself. The Republic of China [Taiwan’s formal name] is a sovereign country and we need not be afraid of being belittled,” he added.

KMT lawmaker Huang Chih-hsiung, a silver medalist in tae kwon do at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said the DPP should take the blame if the International Olympic Committee revoke Taipei’s membership as a punishment.

“Isn’t the government going too far in driving away the torch and denying itself in order to manipulate the elections?” it asked.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification - AFP.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Diabetes Genes

New diabetes genetic risk factors found

AP Medical Writer

Scientists have found clusters of new gene variants that raise the risk of Type 2 diabetes - and how the researchers did it is as important as what they found.

In one of the largest studies yet of human genetic variability, the scientists tested the DNA of more than 32,000 people in five countries to pin down spots that harbor genetic risk factors for this complicated killer.

This type of research - called a "genome-wide association" study - promises to usher in a new era of genetics. Most breakthroughs so far have come from finding a mutation in a single gene that causes illness. But some of the world's most common killers, such as heart disease and diabetes, are caused by complex interactions among numerous genes and modern lifestyles -and teasing out the genetic culprits until now has been almost impossible.

"We have been for all of the last decade or more looking under the lamppost to try to find those genes ... and lots of times the lamplight was not actually where we wanted it," said Dr. Francis Collins, genetics chief at the National Institute of Health, a co-author of the research unveiled thursday. This new approach "allows us to light up the whole street, and look what we find. What? Four previously unknown gene variants that can increase people's risk of Type 2 diabetes, and confirmation that six other genes play a role, too.

The work, by three international research teams that shared their findings, was published online thursday by the journal Science.

Also thursday in the journal Nature Genetics, another team led by Iceland researchers reported separately finding one of those same new genes - and that, interestingly, it seems to increase the diabetes risk most in people who aren't obese.

Next, the researchers will have to figure out just what those genes do, in hopes they'll point toward new ways to treat or prevent a disease that affects more than 170 million people worldwide, and rising.

With Type 2 diabetes, the body gradually loses its ability to use insulin, a hormone key for turning blood sugar into glicogen. It is a major cause of heart disease, as high blood sugar damages blood vessels, and leads to kidney failure, blindness and amputations.

Obesity and lack of exercise are chief risk factors. But heredity is involved, too: People with an affected parent or sibling are at 3.5 times greater risk of developing diabetes than people from diabetes-free families.

The new work scanned DNA to find patterns of small gene variations known as SNPs (pronounced "snips") more common in diabetics. SNPs can serve as signposts for tracing disease-promoting genes. To be certain the implicated SNPs were involved, the researchers then checked for them in still more volunteers, ultimately testing DNA from 32,500 people in Britain, Finland, Poland, Sweden and the U.S.

The highest-risk variants can increase by 20 percent someone's odds of developing Type 2 diabetes, the teams reported.

Among the genes implicated:

-One that helps pump zinc into insulin-producing pancreatic cells, raising questions about the metal's role in insulin secretion.

-A pair previously linked only to certain cancers, another brand new area for diabetes researchers to probe.

-A region of chromosome 11 where genes of any sort had never been described.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tuanku Mizan

King to make changes at the palace

Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, who will be installed as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong today, is introducing changes in the way Istana Negara deals with the people and Government.

The move has begun with a revamp of the palace administration itself, with almost 80% of the senior officials having been replaced with those handpicked by the new King.

Royal Household Comptroller Datuk Wan Mohd Safiain Wan Hasan, who disclosed this to The Star, said there would be no more late nights for those who attended events graced by Tuanku Mizan.“Such functions must start by 8.30pm and end by 10.30pm. The Tuanku wants to be fair to the people, and also to government officials who have to carry out their duties.

“He does not want them to return home late at night because of him,” he said in an interview at Istana Negara.

Safiain, who has been entrusted by Tuanku Mizan to oversee the changes, said the monarch has given orders to the more than 200 palace officials to be more efficient and “people-friendly.”
“Tuanku has asked me to implement a special manpower training programme for them, and also to upgrade certain posts.

"The Tuanku does not want monotony in the way his officers perform. We are thinking of providing incentives to exemplary officials.

“As for those who cannot perform up to our expectations, they will have to leave,” he added. There are six divisions within the Istana Negara administration led by Safiain, each headed by a director.

Grand Chamberlain Tengku Farok Husin Tengku Abdul Jalil, who oversees protocol, is the number two in the palace administrative hierarchy.

Safiain described 44-year-old Tuanku Mizan as a “working King” who leads by example. “Tuanku arrives at Istana Negara by 9am from his private palace, Istana Terengganu in Jalan Kia Peng.

“Being young and energetic, Tuanku is prepared to discuss matters with palace officials even at night. Time is no barrier to Tuanku,” he pointed out.

There will also be a change in the weekly pre-Cabinet briefings to the King by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Safiain said the meeting on the first Wednesday of every month would be held at Istana Melawati in Putrajaya.

“Previously, all meetings were all held at Istana Negara. The Tuanku wants to make better use of Istana Melawati, which is the second national palace,” he added.

Meanwhile, the hour-long installation ceremony, to be broadcast live by RTM, will be attended by the Malay Rulers, the Yang di-Pertuas Negri, members of the Royal Household and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, among others - by Paul Gabriel of The Star.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bird Flu

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

French Presidency

French Presidential Candidates, Sarkozy (right) and Royal (left) - AFPpic.

Sarkozy and Royal back on campaign trail in presidential duel

French presidential contenders Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal were back on the campaign trail Monday, reaching out to centrist voters who could tip the balance in the run-off ballot on May 6.

Sarkozy, at a rally in the central Burgundy region, appealed to those "who voted for other candidates in the first round and to men and women of good will" to join his rightwing camp.
"They have their place (there) once they too share the values of national identity, of work, of merit, of public-spiritedness, of justice," the candidate, who tops the opinion polls, told thousands of cheering supporters in the city of Dijon.

The socialist Royal told journalists ahead of a rally in the southern town of Valence she was ready for "an open and public debate" with Francois Bayrou, who came in third place in Sunday's first round but whose voters will be kingmakers in the second round.

Clearly positioned on the right and left of the political divide, both Sarkozy and Royal are desperate to secure the 18.57 percent of voters who backed Bayrou in round one. Though his small Union for French Democracy (UDF) party has normally been allied to the right, Bayrou veered leftwards in the campaign - and there was widespread speculation about how his electorate will divide up. Bayrou is to make a public statement on Wednesday, his office said, in which he should reveal if he is making an endorsement.

France is voting for a successor to 74-year-old Jacques Chirac -- president since 1995 -- in an election that has become the focus of impassioned debate over the nation's future direction.
Sarkozy, the 52-year-old head of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), has pledged a "clean break" from the politics of the past consensus. His campaign has centered around themes such as the work ethic, national identity and economic liberalisation.

Royal, who would be France's first woman president, promises to protect the country's generous social welfare system and has tabled left-wing economic policies. The 53-year-old told supporters Sunday night that she opposes a "France ruled by the law of the strongest and the most brutal."

Sarkozy's tough-talking persona has sparked widespread fears that he lacks the temperament to be head of state, while critics say Royal lacks the necessary experience. Fresh from their victory in Sunday's multi-candidate first round, the two rivals embarked on a gruelling schedule of rallies and television appearances to build support for the May 6 decider. The two camps also held discussions over a television debate on May 2, which should be the high point of the second round campaign.

In a clear bid to broaden his appeal, Sarkozy's first stop Monday was at a home for battered women in Paris, where he spent an hour hearing the problems of a group of residents. "I want to take responsibility for those who suffer. I want to say to those whose lives are broken, whose lives are smashed -- that there is hope," he said. Sarkozy was accompanied by Simone Veil, 79, a Holocaust survivor who sponsored France's first law legalising abortion and is a heroine for many women.

Five opinion polls taken since Sunday's vote showed that Sarkozy is clear favourite to be the next president, with a lead of between four and eight percentage points over Royal. Sarkozy won 31.18 percent of Sunday's vote ahead of Royal on 25.97 percent. Combined with a near record turn-out of 83.77 percent, the result was hailed as a sign of the public's eagerness for a clear left-right presidential choice - AFP.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bee on the Flower

The bee visits the flower for the nectar or to pollinate it ?

Giving It Away

China's rich are giving it away

By Zou Hanru of China Daily

In a world of fast-expanding human desire and greed, giving away one's wealth is a rare virtue. In fact, many billionaires in China are now making huge donations for education, social welfare and healthcare.

According to the 2007 Hurun Report's Chinese Philanthropists List, compiled by Briton Rupert Hoogewerf, 30 of the China's 100 richest were among the 100 most generous in 2006, up from 20 the previous year.

"Almost all the top 100 rich Chinese are considering the concept of charity. With a good policy environment, more and more wealthy people are setting up their own charitable funds," Hoogewerf reported. Of the total 10 billion yuan ($1.23 billion) donated last year, the amount given by the 100 was 3.9 billion yuan compared with 3.75 billion yuan the previous year.

Shenzhen hotel entrepreneur Yu Pengnian topped the list of 100 philanthropists last year with 2 billion yuan ($258 million). Most of his money went to cataract surgery for some 100,000 people.

Niu Gensheng, chairman of Mengniu Group, has promised to donate all his shares in the dairy group to a charitable fund he set up in 2005.

Humanity is benefited through their benevolence. By giving away wealth, billionaires can help mitigate human misery. Their grace enlightens society.

Warren Buffett, the world's second-richest man at the time, made an unprecedented announcement last year that he was donating $37 billion to the foundation run by his friend Bill Gates, then the world's richest man.

According to Fortune magazine, Buffett, with total assets worth $44 billion, gave away 85 percent of his wealth from his stock in Berkshire Hathaway to five foundations. The donation was the single largest charitable gift in US history.

Buffet believes that giving one's children too much money is a burden, not a gift.

According to him, a very rich person should leave his children enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing. Buffet and his wife had decided that they would not pass huge amounts of money to their children since they believed their children grew up with the advantages of wealth.

The Chinese government also has a role in creating a social and taxation environment to promote philanthropic giving. Fairer regulations and faster administrative procedures must be ensured so that the rich don't experience obstacles in giving away their money.

Philanthropy is a means to build community by growing community funds. It is a means of affecting social change. Billionaires can take the pioneering role to make the best use of their money so that others emulate them.

In this age of unrestrained individualism, we need to teach our young to give more value to helping others. Therein lies enduring happiness. Noble deeds reveal a state of mind.

Through benevolence, these billionaires have proved that it is the mind, and not the wallet, that is the road to contentment.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Abhi-Ash Wedding

Newly-wed Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai pay obeisance at the Tirumala Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirupati on Sunday, April 22, 2007. Aishwarya is a former Miss World and voted Most Beautiful Woman in the World today - HT.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Massive Oil Pipeline

$14 billion oil pipeline across Malaysia

A massive Malaysian oil pipeline project to process and pump oil shipped from the Mideast could lower transportation costs and avoid risks of pirate attacks on tankers at the Malacca Strait, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said Tuesday.

The 50 billion ringgit (US$14.2 billion; euro10.6 billion) project would involve building a 320-kilometer (200-mile) pipeline across northern Malaysia, from the port of Kedah on the west coast to the east coast in Kelantan state, officials have said.

Plans also called for one coastal refinery that could process 200,000 barrels daily scheduled to be operational by the end of 2010.

Najib told reporters the project, which could help tankers sidestep the busy Malacca Straits, was still in a discussion stage and has not been finalized.

"There are proposals to have a refinery and a pipeline that will take it across. As far as I know, it is still at a discussion stage. Nothing has been finalized," he said.

"It's primarily for commercial purposes because they think they can transport the oil at a lower cost and also avoid some of the risks relating to heavy traffic at the Straits of Malacca."

Najib didn't say when the project will be finalized.

Kedah officials last week said construction was expected to begin in August.

Investors from China, Iran and Saudi Arabia are expected to take a stake in the project, which will allow Middle East oil shipments to reach the South China Sea without traveling through the Malacca Strait, which lies off peninsular Malaysia's west coast, they said.

There have been global concerns that terrorists could link up with pirates in the Malacca Strait to blow up an oil tanker or use it as a floating bomb, but Najib said such threats were "almost quite negligible because incidences of piracy have no connection to regional and international terrorism."

The strait, which carries half the world's oil and more than a third of its commerce, is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. It is notorious for robberies and kidnappings by pirates, but attacks have fallen following increased security patrols in 2005.

Investment bank Aseambankers, in a research report earlier this month, said about 70 percent of fund for the pipeline project would likely come from foreign direct investment.

However, it warned laying the pipes could be an "arduous and challenging feat" as environmental and land issues would need to be addressed, the report said.

Malaysian firms Merapoh Resources Corp. and SKS Ventures will build the refineries, while Trans-Peninsula Petroleum will construct the pipeline, Kedah officials have said.

SKS Ventures already has links with the Middle East oil industry. The company recently signed a US$16 billion (euro12 billion) deal with Iran to develop two gas fields in southern Iran - AP.

Friday, April 20, 2007

World Press Freedom Day

Commemorating World Press Freedom Day

May 3 will see the world commemorate the World Press Freedom Day, a UN-sanctioned event since 1993.


EVENT: World Press Freedom Day 2007 Forum
THEME: Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity
* KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Mr Lee Sang-ki, President, Asia Journalists Association, Korea
1 ) YB Wong Nai Chee, Member of Parliament, BN-Melaka 2 ) YB Teresa Kok, Member of Parliament, DAP-Seputeh 3 ) YB Kamaruddin Jaafar, Member of Parliament, PAS-Tumpat Moderator: En Zainon Ahmad, Political Editor, The Sun
* ORGANISER: Asian Institute for Development Communication (Aidcom)
* COLLABORATING BODIES: The Malaysian Press Institute and the National Press Club
* SPONSOR: United Nations
* DATE: May 3, 2007 (Thursday)
* TIME: 10.00am
* VENUE: Dewan Murni, Menara Integrity, Persiaran Duta, Off Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur
* ADMISSION: Free (Attire: Smart casual)
* RSVP: Tel: 03-22870023 /22872023


EVENT: World Press Freedom Day 2007 Forum
THEME: Bloggers: New Breed of Journalists or Online Journal Keepers?
* SPEAKERS: Academician, NGOs, newspaper editors and blogger (Jeff Ooi)
* ORGANISER: National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
* DATE: May 4, 2007 (Friday)* TIME: 09:30am
* VENUE: Star Cybertorium, Level 2, Menara Star, 15, Jln 16/11, P. Jaya
* ADMISSION: By invitation
FORUM OUTLINE: Traditional media is facing a lot of challenges from many fronts. One of these challenges is the rise of Bloggers and real-time news.

Many people are now turning to blogs to get their information. How accurate, though, is the information put out online and what checks and balances have they gone through that journalists normally have to cope with before publishing the news? Can bloggers then be considered a new breed of journalist or are they merely online journal keepers?


EVENT: Bloggers United Malaysia Gathering 2007
THEME: 'Embrace & Engage'
* SPEAKERS:Marina Mahathir, Rocky, Tony Pua, Jeff Ooi, Tian Chua and R. Nadeswaran
* ORGANISER: Bloggers United Malaysia Gathering 2007 Organising Committee
* DATE: May 19, 2007 (Saturday)
* TIME: 06:00pm (Forum) 08:30pm (Dinner)
* VENUE: Kampungku Restaurant, Lakeview Club, Subang Jaya
* ADMISSION: RM30 per person
* MODE OF PAYMENT: Bank Transfer (details here)
* RSVP: Closing date: May 1, 2007

Be a part of it.

( Adapted from Screenshots ).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

To Think About...

" Life's biggest tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late."
- Benjamin Franklin

Just Imagine !

In Pakistan today, the former Chief Justice and the present
President are both fighting for their rice bowls, no better
than a hungry farmer who toils the soil and who is contended
with his rice porridge for the day !

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Free Write Zone


I speak on behalf of my fellow netizens and bloggers throughout the world, both non-anonymous and anonymous, who can do a posting from anywhere in the world and can never be traced.

The internet and bloggers are here to stay. I am proposing a Internet Free Trade Zone or if you want to call it a Internet Free Write Zone. We are here not talking of Tax-Exempt status but Law-Exempt status. I am thinking out-of-the-box.

An entirely new medium of free speech and free expression is envisaged as encompassed in the United Nations Charter on Human Rights, article 19, which states " Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. "

Why I am suggesting this Internet Free Write Zone is because today the internet is:

1. A source of self-employment to thousands and very soon millions of Malaysians
2. An avenue for self-expression and the unleashing of the creative talents of the ablest in the country
3. An alternative forum from the traditional for counterpoints and arguments
4. To correct all injustices and mal-funtions of Governance
5. To develop and nurture democratic netizens and citizen journalism where every citizen has a stake in voicing his/her concerns of the nation
6. A source of reading material and encouraging a healthy reading habit in Malaysians
7. A source for the growth of the ICT industry with all citizens owning at least a computer each and access to the the internet
8. Sparing the courts from countless suits and counter-suits over citizen postings arising from laws known and unknown to netizens
9. Postings in the internet should not be construed as "Broadcasting" or "Publication" but as "Internet Postings" and hence not subjected to the laws governing the traditional media because these are non-profit postings by individual citizens who want to contribute to National Development. The known laws are sedition, defamation, copyright, contempt of court etc. There may be others not known at present which could arise even if an innocent posting is done.

What recourse have the defamed or the alleged have over a non-anonymous web posting owner:

1. Just ignore it - it is only allegation after all
2. Ask for a retraction of the said posting
3. Ask for an apology
4. Reply to the allegation in the comments column
5. Request for a posting in reply to the original posting
6. Start you own blog to counter the allegation

I suggest a Code of Ethics for all netizens and citizen journalists. Most bloggers today are responsible. But as in everything you will have the few rotten apples. And usually they will be anonymous and you cannot trace them anyway! Resorting to the courts is not allowed in citizen journalism for this reason. Hence declare it Free Write Zone.

I hope this matter is looked into by the authorities and a Bill is passed in Parliament as soon as possible for a vibrant and colourful Soft National Development.

Thank you.

Rajahram Ramalingam
18th April, 2007

( The above proposal was supposed to have been made at a seminar on Media and National Development in Putrajaya, but could not be done due to unavoidable circumstances.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

North Pole Expedition

The Expedition

The NORTH POLE Expedition began at Borneo Base, a temporary camp set up on the drifting ice of the Arctic Ocean, and covered a distance of 100 km through one of the least explored places on Earth. The challenge was to overcome the extreme conditions to successfully cross the Arctic Continent to the Last Degree within a time frame of one month.

The mode of movement during the Expedition was skiing and walking while pulling a sledge carrying 60kg of food and essential equipment for communications, research and survival.

The Arctic North Pole

The geographic NORTH POLE rests on massive, shifting sheets of polar ice surrounded by the frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean. This last frontier of the extreme wilderness exists in total silence, the nearest land mass located more than 800 km away.

The average temperature measured in the Arctic is – 45 oC. While the Arctic Ocean lacks the extreme cold and high winds of the Antarctic Continent, there are storms instead that cause ice drift, the ice sometimes moving up to 20 km in a single night.

This ever-changing landscape poses many dangers in the form of ice floes and other ice formations such as pressure ridges, rubble and open water leads. These features and other hazards such as snowstorms or "whiteout" will also make it difficult to maintain direction.

In order to minimize navigational problems, it will be necessary to identify "waypoints" far on the horizon to use as a guide so as not to get lost. A technique known as "scouting" will also be used, which involves climbing up to the top of an ice ridge prior to travel in order to have a feel for the terrain and avoid large ridges and leads.

Problems Unique to the NORTH POLE

1. Dense fog (gray and dull blanket of damp air)
2. Fast ice/screw ice (solid, packed ice – old sastrugies)
3. Thin and dangerous ice (commonly black, and can fall through)
4. Storms and blizzards (can break up the ice into open water leads)
5. Full moon (brings on high tide and rising ocean water and leads to breaking ice)
6. Black skies (shadows in the sky reflecting mirages that create illusions)
7. The Phenomenon (halos and diamond dust that precede bad weather, creating whiteouts that cause loss of depth perception)

Polar explorer Datin Paduka Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abdul Kadir has made it to the “top of the world.” She reached her destination at 90 degrees North at 2.25pm (8.25pm Malaysian time) in a day of clear sunny skies, according to a report posted on her website last night.

Monday, April 16, 2007

U.S. Gun Laws

U.S. Gun Laws Draw Heat After Massacre

The Virginia Tech shootings sparked criticism of U.S. gun control laws around the world Tuesday. Editorials lashed out at the availability of weapons, and the leader of Australia - one of America's closest allies - declared that America's gun culture was costing lives.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said the government hoped Monday's shootings, allegedly carried out by a 23-year-old South Korean native, would not "stir up racial prejudice or confrontation."

While some focused blame only on the gunman, world opinion over U.S. gun laws was almost unanimous: Access to weapons increases the probability of shootings. There was no sympathy for the view that more guns would have saved lives by enabling students to shoot the assailant.

"We took action to limit the availability of guns and we showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country," said Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who staked his political career on promoting tough gun laws after a gunman went on one of the world's deadliest killing sprees 11 years ago. The tragedy in a Tasmanian tourist resort left 35 people dead. Afterward, Australia's gun laws were changed to prohibit automatic weapons and handguns and toughen licensing and storage restrictions.

Handguns are also banned in Britain - a prohibition that forces even the country's Olympic pistol shooting team from practicing on its own soil.

In Sweden, civilians can acquire firearm permits only if they have a hunting license or are members of a shooting club and have no criminal record. In Italy, people must have a valid reason for wanting one.

Firearms are forbidden for private Chinese citizens.

Still, leaders from Britain, Germany, Mexico, China, Afghanistan and France stopped short of criticizing President Bush or U.S. gun laws when they offered sympathies to the families of Monday's victims.

Editorials were less diplomatic.

"Only the names change - And the numbers," read a headline in the Times of London. "Why, we ask, do Americans continue to tolerate gun laws and a culture that seems to condemn thousands of innocents to death every year, when presumably, tougher restrictions, such as those in force in European countries, could at least reduce the number?"

The French daily Le Monde said the regularity of mass shootings across the Atlantic was a blotch on America's image.

In Mexico, radio commentators criticized the availability of firearms in the U.S. Others renewed Mexico's complaint that most guns in Mexico are smuggled in from the United States.

The killings led newspapers' front pages, with Mexico City's Dario Monitor reporting: "Terror returns to the U.S.: 32 assassinated on university campus." The tabloid Metro compared Mexico's death toll Monday from drug violence to the number of people killed at Virginia Tech, in a front-page headline that read: "U.S. 33, Mexico 20." - AP.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Build then Sell

Hooray we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Build then Sell - the way it should have been. See The Star report here. It took such a long time for this to come. Better late then never!

How could we have been buying something we have never seen. Come on folks we have been taken for a ride! We did it because it was the right thing to do then and nobody challenged that.

Now we have an option. To buy something ( the most expensive item in our lives, for many at least ) without seeing it or after seeing it.

Just fancy that !

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sakura Festival

Over 2,000 cherry trees in the park in Ying Hua Yuan or Sakura Garden greeted visitors with a spectacular show of blossoms of Sakura flowers - Sunpics.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Toon Time

A Star Cartoon

Thursday, April 12, 2007

North Pole Trek

Mazlina suffers near mishaps and frostbite

SVALBARD (Norway): In -35°C to -38°C, Datin Paduka Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abdul Kadir faced her toughest challenge, two days into her North Pole trek. Her skis got caught in a pressure ridge, her sled fell into an ice crack and the most heart-stopping moment of all was when she was briefly separated from her guide as the ice beneath her split and she drifted away.

She said the incidents tested her nerves and physical strength. “When my skis fell into a pressure ridge that opened up without warning beneath me, the skins underneath each ski that provided friction were torn off. It took quite a toll on my knees and legs, so much so I had to stop at one point and use my guide’s extra pair of skis. The second incident followed soon after the first, when my sled was the next to tumble into a crack in the ice. Luckily everything was strapped firmly and nothing slipped out or got wet.”

Even more arduous was when the ice beneath her feet again suddenly
opened up and she found herself on a different iceberg and drifting away from her guide Svante Strand. The abruptness within which it all happened gave her little time to react other than to push her sled towards Svante who grabbed it by the ropes while she ran around to find a smaller gap on the drifting ice to jump towards him.

“If I had lingered in trying to find a way across, the gap would have been bigger and made it impossible for me to jump across,” she added. Sharifah Mazlina also suffered frostbite. The right side of her cheek and her right thumb were affected and she then immediately applied heat packs to them. “Despite the thick clothing and protection from the harsh arctic elements, nature still manages to get to you,” she said.

Sharifah Mazlina said she had covered just 7km after an eight-hour walk, drifting 2km from the 110km course. Her GPS location yesterday was N89.04.39 / E80.56.54 - The Star.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


KLCI at 13-year high

PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) came within an earshot of the all-time high reached in 1994 as shares soared in the on-going rally on the stock market.

The KLCI closed up 19.44 points at 1,298.36, after briefly crossing the 1,300-point level during the trading session. The highest close for the KLCI was on Jan 5, 1994 when the benchmark index was at 1314.16.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi expressed happiness that the KLCI had risen close to its all-time high. He said it was a sign that investor confidence in the stock market “is getting higher and stronger.”

“It’s good for our economy,” he told reporters yesterday.

Foreign buying of blue chip stocks has sent shares skyrocketing since the start of the year. A rallying stock and bond market has sent the ringgit sharply higher against the US dollar.

At 5pm yesterday, the ringgit was RM3.447 against the US dollar - The Star.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Anwar Ibrahim

A Talk with Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim

The once-jailed economic reformer is readying a political comeback, and thinks Malaysia must wake up to the challenges ahead

In July, Asia will mark the 10th anniversary of a region-wide financial crisis that started in Thailand. Back then, Anwar Ibrahim served as Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister and was considered one of the most promising and reform-minded leaders in Asia. A year later, Anwar challenged Malaysia's then-strong man, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, to hasten reform—and was sacked, and then convicted on corruption and sodomy charges. He spent six years in jail for his efforts.

Since his release two years ago, Anwar has been on the global lecture circuit, but he intends to attempt a political comeback as an opposition leader in Malaysia's next general election, expected in 2009. At the moment, he has an uneasy but civil relationship with current Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Anwar recently spoke to BusinessWeek's Assif Shameen about the changing economic dynamics in the region, the rise of China and India, and his own political ambitions. Edited excerpts from their conversation follow:

What are the lessons learned from the Asia Financial Crisis?

What went wrong 10 years ago was that our economic fundamentals in the region were very weak. There were huge and rising current account deficits, balance of payment issues, huge foreign debts, low level of foreign reserves.

Financial institutions in Asia were weak and not properly regulated. Banks were lending money to cronies of the owners or cronies of those in power, or making all sorts of government-directed policy loans. There was no risk management or assessment whether borrowers had the ability to pay. So the symptoms were all there. The crisis was waiting to happen. It was a question of when, not if.

Then the blame game started: It was all because of the speculators, or foreign agents, conspirators, or the Jews. In Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir blamed [billionaire hedge-fund manager] George Soros. Now he embraces Soros, says he wasn't to blame for the crisis. So who was to blame? The government leaders who built the corrupt system or perpetuated it basically were.

What's the situation now?

A lot has changed in Asia since the crisis. In some of the [crisis-hit] countries, the system has been overhauled, new processes have been put in place, regulations have been tightened. But for the most part—and I'm including Malaysia—not much has changed, and it's still business as usual. Have we learnt anything? I don't think so. There's still nepotism, corruption, shady backroom deals with cronies who are amassing wealth.

Are Southeast Asia and Malaysia losing critical foreign investment to China and India?
Singapore is still attracting foreign investments, and it's even smaller than Malaysia. The real reason we aren't attracting foreign investments is the lack of transparency, openness, corporate governance, [as well as the] inefficiencies and rampant corruption. Sure, there are investors who want to go to China and India because of their market size, but there are others who are still setting up in Singapore or Vietnam.

Really, whatever investments we're getting in Malaysia are because Southeast Asia is still viewed generally very positively by investors from Europe, North America, and Japan. The key is new investments in new areas that will allow us to move up the value chain. Unfortunately, we aren't getting those. What we need to do is to look at our policies and ask ourselves: What can we do better to make ourselves a better investment destination?

You have called for an end to Malaysia's affirmative-action policies. Isn't that political suicide in a country like yours?

I'm not against helping the poor, the marginalized, or the disadvantaged. But what we need to see is if 37 years later, the policy today is really helping the Malays or bumiputras [indigenous ethinc groups] or has become a license to rob most of the people in the name of affirmative action. Over the years, the policy has become a tool for elite Malays to benefit at the expense of everyone else, including poor and middle-class Malays.

The government has created an opaque system behind which it is able to dole out everything to the elite. It's not through competitive bids in a transparent open system. If we still need some affirmative action, it should be through an open, transparent, competitive system.

Where does Malaysia fit in a region dominated by China and India?

There are several issues here, but yes, I believe in this new world where China and India are the rising stars, there will be plenty of niches for us. We need to look at our competitive advantages and build on our expertise, even as we're squeezed out of certain low-end sectors where China, India, and Vietnam clearly have the advantage over us. We're rich in natural resources. We have oil and plantations. We have had big multinationals like Intel (INTC) here for over 30 years.

In the late '70s, Malaysia was at par with Taiwan and Korea. Look where are they now. Sure, we have come a long way and the country is better off than it was 30 or 40 years ago, but my point is that we're no longer competing in the same league. It's no use anyone telling me that Malaysia is better off than Somalia or Zimbabwe when were always fighting in a different class.
What's the outlook for the stalled Malaysia-U.S. free-trade agreement?

I'm in favor of free and open trade. The free-trade agreement would have opened doors for our goods and services and brought jobs and benefits for Malaysia. So, yes, I believe we have lost an opportunity.

But having said that, there were some issues relating to the services sector, agriculture subsidies, etc., that needed to be looked at and resolved. In any agreement, there's give and take and compromise. I guess if we were serious, the U.S. would have made concessions on some of the issues we were concerned about, just as the U.S. made concessions with South Korea. But really, there's vested interest in Malaysia that didn't want the FTA, and they prevailed. They don't want transparency, open tenders, and so on.

What's next for you?

I'm just going around articulating ideas, meeting people. The government isn't making it easy for me to speak, because we need permits for any kind of political activity and we have been denied permits when I have wanted to speak.

I have said I will be candidate in the next election. I think people are listening when I talk about issues like corruption, nepotism, income disparity, freedom, and transparency. These are issues that impact people in their daily lives. It's no longer a development vs. freedom debate. Why can't we have both? Why have just development and no freedom? - BusinessWeek, 10.4.2007

Monday, April 9, 2007

Coloured Chicks

Artificially colored chicks crowd together in a cage at a market in Basra, Iraq. Colored chicken are a popular present for Iraqi children. Iraq's health authorities banned all imports of live chicken and chicken meat following the discovery of the deadly strain of bird flu virus in Turkey and Romania - AP Pic.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Control Blogs

A Commentary

I am so surprised that Zam, a former journalist, has gone to Singapore to learn about controlling blogs. He should have gone there to learn about governance.

The PAP in Singapore run a super clean, super efficient, tightly knit, City State. They really don't need blogs.They are registering blogs for data purposes. If they need blogs, then it is Social Blogs. Really.

Unlike Singapore, we in Malaysia need blogs for everything. What's gone wrong with Malaysia? Sure we have by our ways of governance and politics encouraged the rapid rise of blogs. So whose fault is it?

The main reason for the rapid rise of blogs is the grievances of the people. Listen to them. Learn from them. Follow them. Set up a ministry to counter them!

Don't make sick suggestions like wanting to curb them.You might as well BAN them. Your job of governance becomes easy. But it does not solve the problem. Discontentment is brewing and may lead to a silent revolution. Better let the people say want they want to say.

You don't change. Carry on the same way.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

World Press Fredom Day

3rd May, 2007

UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right, through sensitization and monitoring activities. It also fosters media independence and pluralism as prerequisites and major factors of democratization by providing advisory services on media legislation and sensitizing governments, parliamentarians and other decision-makers.

“The rights to life and to liberty and integrity and security of person and also to freedom of expression are fundamental human rights that are recognized and guaranteed by international conventions and instruments.” (UNESCO Resolution, General Conference 1997)

Press freedom, safety of journalists and impunity will be the topics of UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2007.

Due to the 10th anniversary of UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize, this year’s World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated in the city of Medellin, Colombia - UNESCO, World Press Freedom Day 2007.

Friday, April 6, 2007

BUM 2007

Bloggers United Malaysia Gathering 2007
"Embrace and Engage"
An event in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May.

Date: 19th May 2007
Time: 6.30pm – 1100 pm.
Forum: 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Drinks: 8.00pm - 8.30pm
Buffet: 8.30pm - 11.00pm

Venue: The Lake View Club, Lot 3606, SS12/1, Subang Jaya47500, Petaling Jaya.
Tel: 03-3733-8342

Payment RM30 via Maybank account number. Please email …. for confirmation details.
RSVP by 9th May 2007 (Wednesday). Please send all correspondence to howsyh[at]gmail[dot]com. Speakers: Confirmed attendance by Jeff Ooi. We will update this list as soon as others confirm! Hope to see you all there! - BUM 2007.

All Blogs

National Alliance of Bloggers

Pro-tem committee: President - Ahirudin Attan, Vice President - Jeff Ooi, Secretary - Nuraina A. Samad, Treasurer - Tony Yew, Council Members: Patrick Teoh, Bernard Khoo, Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz, Syed Jamal al-Idrus, Rajahram Ramalingam, Ami Husni, Soon Li Tsin, and Anuradha K.

Some 50 bloggers turned up for this. Those who spoke included Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Ruhanie Ahmad, Zaharin Yassin, Jeff Ooi, Syed Azidi aka Kickdefella, Susan Loone, Eric Woon, and Patrick Teoh.

The pro-tem committee will meet soon to draw up the Constitution, identify sources of funding, and submit the necessary papers for the Registrar of Societies. The initial address for the Alliance is the office of Malaysiakini, the on-line news portal. Tea was subsidized by a Datuk blogger - Rocky's Bru.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Not Sub Judice

Bar Council: Public comments on Subashini case not sub judice

Public comments about the R. Subashini case, which is pending in the Federal Court, are not sub judice, the Bar Council said today. "This fear is unfounded, and the argument is without basis," its chairwoman, Ambiga Sreenevasan, said in a statement.

She was commenting on the lodging of a report by Subashini's Muslim-convert husband, Mohd Shafi Abdullah, against the Bar Council, non-governmental organisations and several individuals for allegedly making prejudicial and contemptuous comments against a March 13 Court of Appeal decision.

In the 2-1 decision by the bench, Subashini, who wants to stop her husband from dissolving their civil marriage and converting one of their children to Islam, was told to seek recourse at the Syariah Appeal Court.

Mohd Shafi, formerly T. Saravanan, said among the allegations against him was that he had embraced Islam to shirk his responsibilities under civil laws and that the March 13 decision was unfair.

"The law of contempt and sub judice in this context is applicable mainly in relation to a jury or where there are vulnerable witnesses who may be influenced by public comments," Ambiga said.

"It certainly does not apply to judges and especially, as in this case, the Federal Court judges who will consider points of law on the materials before them, uninfluenced by extraneous matters and comments in the public domain."

She added that public comments on matters of public interest, particularly where it involves constitutional guarantees, cannot be sub judice or contempt - The Sun.

French TGV

French set new rail speed record

A French high-speed train (TGV) has smashed the world record for a train on conventional rails by a big margin, reaching 574.8km/h (356mph). The previous TGV record was 515km/h (320mph), set in 1990.

The record attempt by a modified TGV took place on a track between Paris and the eastern city of Strasbourg.

The absolute train speed record was set by a Japanese magnetic levitation train - Maglev - in 2003. It reached a top speed of 581km/h (361mph).

The TGV set the new record at 1314 (1114GMT) on Tuesday. It was a modified version called V150, with larger wheels than usual and two engines driving three double-decker cars.

The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby said the three train drivers were seen grinning on French TV after they realised they had broken the record. The train travelled almost as fast as a World War II Spitfire fighter at top speed.

The electrical tension in the overhead cable was boosted from 25,000 volts to 31,000 for the record attempt.

Spectators clapped and cheered as the train zoomed underneath bridges. "We saw the countryside go by a little faster than we did during the tests," engineer Eric Pieczac told the Associated Press.

"Everything went very well. There are about 10,000 engineers who would want to be in my place," Mr Pieczac said. "It makes me very happy, a mixed feeling of pride and honour to be able to reach this speed."

French TGV trains, in service since 1981, generally travel at about 300km/h. But from 10 June they will be allowed to reach 320km/h on the recently opened Paris-Strasbourg LGV Est line.
SNCF and the train's makers Alstom say the record attempt represents a test on the infrastructure in extreme conditions, which is impossible to carry out in the laboratory.

After the record was broken, President Jacques Chirac conveyed his congratulations on "this new proof of the excellence of the French rail industry."

Rival trains

"Economically efficient and respectful of the environment, the TGV is a major asset in efforts to ensure sustainable development in transport," Mr Chirac was quoted as saying.

"What is important for us today is to prove that the TGV technology which was invented in France 30 years ago is a technology for the future," said Guillaume Pepy, director-general of SNCF.

Alstom also aims to boost TGV sales abroad, where it is competing with the Japanese Shinkansen and the German Inter-City Express high-speed trains.

China, South Korea and Taiwan are the most important customers for high-speed trains.

The technology is also being looked at in California for a new high-speed service between Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to AFP news agency - BBC.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Senior Citizens

When the average Malaysian lives for well over 70 years, it is an absolute travesty that he has to retire at 56 (in the public sector) and 55 in the private sector, which has by and large not adopted the government's move to offer employees the option of retiring at 56.

And if one bears in mind that the life expectancy figure is an average, those who actually reach retirement age could live for much longer than 70 years. For the vast majority of people retirement is a time of foreboding and fear, a time of great uncertainty when you don't know how to support yourself.

This is especially true for the lower income group with parents in their older age becoming an unwanted burden to their children and having to suffer the indignity of being supported by their children because, although able-bodied, they are unable to find suitable employment.

The government, many of whose Cabinet members including the Prime Minister are way above retirement age, must realise that with increasing health standards not only the life expectancy of people but their useful working lives increase in duration too. They should have embarked long ago on increasing the retirement age.

The move to give an option for public employees to increase it by a year was a step in the right direction but not to give the same option to private sector employees was not. More, much more, should be done to progressively increase the option to retire to 65 years or more.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress has asked for the retirement age to be raised to 60 in the public sector from 56 currently. This is a good first step but the private sector should be required to follow suit. There is actually no loss of promotional opportunities for anyone because everyone could work longer if they wanted to.

The government and the private sector can have the benefit of the experience and wisdom of older employees and while they will have to pay higher salaries to more experienced staff, these will be mitigated by the better quality of work they get. If employers manage properly the opportunities from this, both workers and employers will benefit.

Longer term, the government should think of increasing the retirement age even further as health and living standards improve and allow those who want to work to continue to support themselves while making a contribution to society.

There has to be shift in our thinking to enable older people to make a continuing and valuable contribution to society. Society owes it to itself and to its senior citizens to tap into this pool of expertise and to allow the older folk to continue to support themselves financially.

Senior Citizens

The increase in the life expectancy is a creditable effort of the successive governments from independence to now at improving the health care in the country and the increased knowledge of the average citizen with regards diet and exercise in improving his life.

What this means is that we have a larger pool of Senior Citizens and the Government should look into their needs and welfare more as in the West in our quest to attain developed nation status.

To bring about a caring society, the government should have a ministry or part of a ministry to implement various programmes for this group of citizens who have contributed so much to national development and are now a completely forgotten lot.

Suggested Programmes

1. Define the age for Senior Citizenship. Right now it is 56 for government and 55 for private sector. It is suggested that 55 be the national Senior Citizen age to encompass all citizens.

2. Pension increments similar to civil servant increments must be given to meet the increased cost of living throughout the last 50 years of independence.The Pensioners Association has made several requests throughout the years but to no avail. It does not mean that once civil servants retire they can be forgotten.

3. Special discounts and fares at all hospitals/clinics, travel points like coaches, train, planes, entertainment outlets, etc, etc and it be made mandatory.

4. Special priority counters/lanes at all service points like banks, post offices, airlines, etc and it be made mandatory.

5. Senior Citizen Cards for all senior citizens to entitle them to these special privileges.

6. Regular programmes and activities, columns in newspapers, etc. for their benefit.

Financial independence is a cornerstone of human dignity. Many senior citizens savings won't be able to support them in old age. To stop them from extending their useful working lives, making real contributions to society and being financially independent for much longer is a needless cruelty which can be easily fixed by some right-thinking policy changes - The Sun.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Mr. World

Mr World 2007 Final

Exactly one year after winning the Mr Spain contest, Juan Garcia has scooped the prestigious title of Mr World 2007. The most desirable man of the world hails from Malaga in southern Spain and lives in the capital Madrid.

Juan trained long and hard to achieve this peak of excellence, including three months of exercise, rest and abstinence from alcohol not easy for a sommelier. The lucky Spaniard now begins a reign of charitable work and travel.

"I cannot believe it, it is amazing. It is a dream come true,I would never have believed. I am so proud for my family and my country." At the contest in Sanya, China to watch Juan win the Mr World 2007 title were his two sisters and their husbands.

Monday, April 2, 2007

News Flash

Tsunami Hits Solomons, Wipes Out Village

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (AP) - A bone-rattling earthquake sparked a tsunami that sent 10-foot high waves crashing into parts of the Solomon Islands on Monday, wiping out one village and killing at least three people, officials and witnesses said. The large waves struck the western town of Gizo, inundating buildings and causing widespread destruction within five minutes of the earthquake.

Solar Halo

Solar Halo, a rainbow around the sun was seen by penangites over George Town on wednesday, 21st march afternoon - Starpic.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Subashini's Case - 3

Subashini's case - Worrying implications for non-Muslim spouse.

Contributed by Norman Fernandez in Malaysiakini today. (Norman Fernandez, is a practicing lawyer in private practice in Johor)

“ ...........In a democratic country, one has to accept the view of the majority. 121A(1A) will not be a problem if the civil court has the courage to act fairly and independently. The system is just if the judicial process is in place. The reason for such a clause was that the Syariah Court was more competent to deal with Islamic affairs.

Schedule 9 of the constitution is clear that the Syariah Court only has jurisdiction over people professing Islam. Yet it has constantly been ignored. However, the constitutionality of law rests upon civil court. But none of the civil judges are prepared to look at it this way. It is an abdication of power and function.

Therefore, it is the problem of the court and not the legislation. If the civil court judge is true to the oath, there will be no problems like we are facing now. 121(1A) is not intended to limit the civil courts.............”

Subashini's Case - 2

Quoting Wong Chun Wai quoting Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (a lawyer) commenting on the case in The Star today :

"Even if Subashini wants to submit to the Syariah Court, she can't. Jurisdiction is not a question of choice or submission; it is a question of law."