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

Friday, May 29, 2009

> Aminah's threat to discredit PKR - a dud

The latest threat by independent candidate in the Penanti by-election Aminah Abdullah’s to "expose" an incident that allegedly discredited the PKR turned out to be a dud when she produced another secret voice recording - of a senior party leader scolding her at a meeting.

The 56-year-old former Penang PKR Wanita chief who quit the party in 2007 had called for a press conference today to "reveal" the incident that she had earlier hinted at involving the conduct of Penang PKR chief Datuk Zahrain Mohd Hashim at "a hotel in Nibong Tebal".

When queried by reporters, however, she admitted that the incident was not scandalous but had just damaged her integrity.

Zahrain had apparently scolded her in front of other PKR Wanita division chiefs and several party leaders, admonishing her for not performing her job.

"If Zahrain does not explain himself about the incident, he should resign from the party," she told reporters at her operations centre in Simpang Tiga Kubang Ulu.

Displaying a CD of the audio recording, she said, "The recording was made when we were at a party seminar in Nibong Tebal," she said, adding that the incident was one of the reasons she left the party in 2007.

Not contented with this latest "expose", Aminah said she would reveal yet another "big surprise", but declined to give details, saying she would reveal it when the time is right.

Aminah had on Monday (May 25) produced an audio recording she had secretly taken of a lunchtime conversation with two PKR members that she claimed bore proof she was offered inducement to abort her election bid.

The revelation had prompted an investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and a report to be lodged with the Election Commission.

The recording showed one of the duo, Cheah Kah Peng and Peter Lim Eng Nam, suggesting that she may be compensated for her expenses for the by-election, which he husband Mohd Rofi Osman put as RM80,000, if she aborts.

The duo later said they were invited by Aminah for lunch at her house, and just had a jovial, casual conversation with them, not realising that they were being taped - theSun.

Monday, May 25, 2009

> Sri Lanka protest in Kuala Lumpur

Hear our own brethren on the issue.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

> Police raid DAP HQ

The police today raided the DAP headquarters in Petaling Jaya in search of documents believed to be related to the arrest of 16 party activists in Ampang on Thursday night.

The raid, which took place at 6.25pm, was carried out by a team of 11 police officers. They left at 7.30pm.

The police had brought one of those arrested, Ulu Selangor councillor Ooi Leng Heng, 34, along with them in the raid.

Ooi, who is also DAP Youth's political education bureau director, was seen in handcuffs and dressed in the standard orange lock-up uniform.

In the one-hour raid, the police confiscated Ooi's computer monitor, keyboard, headphone, a number of CDs and a CPU (central processing unit).

According to witnesses, the cops did not show any search warrant.

An outraged Nga Kor Ming, who is DAP parliamentarian for Taiping, lambasted the raid.

"This is the first time in DAP's 42-year history that police have raided our HQ," he fumed.

Investigated under PPPA 

Sixteen people were arrested at the DAP Teratai service centre for holding a candlelight vigil.

Those arrested, including Teratai state assemblyperson Jenice Lee, have been held over the past two days at the Pandan Indah police lock-up to facilitate investigation.

It is learnt that they are being probed for illegal assembly as well as Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA).

At the candlelight vigil, DAP had distributed a two-page leaflet titled ‘507 Detik Hitam dalam Sejarah Demokrasi Malaysia!’ (507 - A Black Moment in Malaysia’s History of Democracy).

Under the PPPA, the police could charge them for publishing an illegal document or for spreading false news.

At a press conference, DAP Puchong parliamentarian Gobind Singh slammed the police for not producing a warrant, although this is a requirement under Section 16 of the PPPA. 

“This is a clear cut case of invasion of privacy and trespass,” said Gobind, who is head of the party’s legal bureau. 

Also at the press conference, DAP central committee member Teresa Kok said that the raid and detention of the 16 was a “scare tactic” by the police to pre-empt any future candlelight vigils. 

“They are intentionally prolonging the detention of the people, putting additional charges (other than illegal assembly) just to discourage people from attending,” said Kok, who is Seputeh MP and Kinrara state assemblyperson. 

Meanwhile, DAP chairperson and Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai said that the candlelight vigil outside his office in Cheras would still proceed tonight at 9pm tonight - Malaysiakini.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

> Egypt to begin controversial pig slaughter

Egypt is to begin a controversial slaughter of the nation's 250,000 pigs in earnest today, despite the WHO saying there was no evidence the animals were transmitting swine flu to humans.

Cairo governor Abdel Halim Wazir told the state news agency Mena that the government will begin slaughtering an estimated 60,000 pigs raised by rubbish collectors in a shanty town in Egypt's sprawling capital.

Egypt announced on Wednesday that it will slaughter the nation's entire pig population after an outbreak of swine flu in other countries, even though no cases have been detected in Egypt.

The move has been widely criticised, with the UN World Health Organisation saying there was no evidence that pigs were transmitting the virus to humans.

However, UN agencies are still trying to find out if the virus behind a human pandemic alert is circulating in pigs in Mexico, warning that ongoing swine infection could "worsen" the risk to human health.

As such, possible restrictions on the movement and trade of swine livestock have not been ruled out, the WHO and Food and Agriculture Organisation in a food safety report today.

Egyptian officials say the slaughter is a general health measure.

Wazir has said the slain pigs will be frozen and the offal burnt in furnaces at the slaughterhouses.

"We're at stage five, the matter is now human not animal," health ministry spokesman Abdelrahman Shahine told AFP on Thursday, after the WHO raised its alert level over the flu, now called influenza A(H1N1).

"The authorities took advantage of the situation to resolve the question of disorderly pig rearing in Egypt," he said.
Pigs eaten by Coptic Christian minority

The pigs mostly belong to and are eaten by members of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority and are reared by rubbish collectors in Cairo's shantytowns.

Wazir said on Friday that 70 pigs were confiscated from owners in the Batn el-Baqar slum of Cairo and slaughtered, and the sites disinfected and destroyed.

The government has said it would compensate pig owners, but a man who lost his herd told AFP he received nothing.

"They did not give us anything. Riot police came and government workers came and took the pigs," said Ayman Saed, a resident of Batn el-Baqar who owned 30 pigs.

"We went with them to the slaughterhouse, and they said take the carcasses. I left everything there because I didn't know what do with them," he said.

The rubbish collectors say the cull will affect their business and wipe out a crucial source of income. They use the pigs to dispose of organic waste and sell off some their herds once a year.

At least one clash was reported north of Cairo on Wednesday, with farmers throwing stones at veterinary officials who had come to take away their pigs.

Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza has defended the measure, inviting the FAO, which criticised the cull, to "come and see for itself the conditions at any pig farm in Egypt."

The agriculture ministry's head of infectious diseases Saber Abdel Aziz Galal said the government would eventually set up farms with imported pigs.

"Within two years the pigs will return, but we need first to build new farms," he said - Malaysiakini.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

> Tsvangirai says government is broke

Zimbabwe’s new unity government is broke and cannot meet union demands for higher wages, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said today.

Addressing a May Day rally, Tsvangirai said the government he formed with President Robert Mugabe in February to try to end a political and economic crisis that has brought Zimbabwe to ruin would maintain the current monthly salary of US$100 (RM360) that it is paying its workers.

“This government is broke, and we are only able to pay the US$100 allowance, but when things improve, we want this allowance to graduate into a proper salary,” he said. “For now, everyone, all of us, including President Mugabe, is getting US$100”.

Tsvangirai, a fiery former trade union chief, pleaded with Zimbabwe’s Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to give the new government time to fix the economy before pressing its demands for a minimum wage of US$454.

“We have been in office for less than three months. I plead with you to please give us time,” he said. “Your demands must be realistic, taking into account that your government is broke and that industry has not been performing.”

Earlier, ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo told thousands of cheering workers at the rally that the labour movement would call national strikes and protests to press its case.

“If this is not met, the workers are going onto the streets,” Matombo said, without giving any deadline.

Tsvangirai said although Mugabe was not an easy person to work with, both his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the veteran president’s ZANU-PF wanted the government to succeed in repairing the economy and achieving peace and stability.

“We have our arguments, our quarrels but we want this country to succeed,” he added.

On the wage demands, he said: “You know we would want to pay ... but this has to be a process and we are working to resuscitate the economy.”

The government has appealed for billions of dollars from the West to help revive Zimbabwe’s shattered economy, but Western donors such as Britain want to see further progress in implementing a power-sharing agreement before considering any large-scale aid.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who held talks in London on Thursday with Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Africa Minister Mark Malloch-Brown, said his country was receiving US$400 million in credit lines from African states to revive its ailing industry.

Although the funds from African states may help, Zimbabwe is in dire need of aid from Western donors, who have demanded broad economic and political reforms, including ending a new wave of farm invasions targeting the few remaining white farmers.

Mugabe, 85, Zimbabwe’s ruler since independence from Britain in 1980, says the southern African country’s economy has been sabotaged by “racist” enemies of his seizures of white farms for landless blacks – Reuters.

Friday, May 1, 2009

> China develops sensitive test kit for swine flu

The world's most populous nation said Thursday it has not detected cases of swine flu and announced that its scientists have developed a sensitive and quick diagnostic test as the global alert was raised to imminent pandemic level. 
China is drawing on its experience in battling previous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian flu in confronting the latest scare that has caused over 150 deaths in Mexico, one fatality in the United States and a rising number of infections in more and more countries. 
Health Minister Chen Zhu expressed confidence that China, with its 1.3 billion population, would be able to battle the mutant strain. 
"We should prepare for the worst but make efforts to improve the situation. One thing is certain for China and the entire mankind, we are far more capable of dealing with this kind of public emergency than the SARS epidemic," he told a media briefing which was delayed due to a meeting chaired by President Hu Jintao which discussed the matter. 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has increased the global warning from Phase 4 to the second highest Phase 5, a signal to all countries to immediately activate pandemic contingeny plans. 
Chen said that with the help of WHO and U.S. disease experts, local scientists on Thursday morning successfully produced a sensitive diagnostic test which would be issued to all centres for disease control nationwide. 
China has also requested for samples of the virus from the World Health Organisation and relevant governments for the development of a vaccine, he added.
Thermal camera checks had been stepped up at all entry and exit points in the country and the government was increasing its stockpile of anti-viral medicines. 
Chen said China had stopped imports of pork and pork products from Mexico and several states in the U.S and a special channel for arrivals from Mexico had been set up. 
Shanghai is the only city in China's mainland that has a direct air route to and from Mexico. 
Chen said hygiene tips would be distributed to the public including discouraging open spitting, washing hands frequently and stay home if they have fever - Bernama.