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

Friday, July 31, 2009

> Kg Buah Pala: A way out of the impasse

by Hafiz Yatim, Malaysiakini.

The Penang government only has to read the fine print on a document issued by the state land office to bring the Kampung Buah Pala saga not just to a close, but to happy ending for affected residents.

Lawyer and Petaling Jaya city councillor Derek Fernandez said the state government can take back the land, based on a caveat in the 99-year lease document issued by the land registrar.

The document states that the plot is to be specifically used for housing and that the deed "cannot be transferred, mortgaged, pawned, sub-let or used as a business instrument".

"These means that the developer cannot operate via a joint venture," said Fernandez.

"If the Penang government re-acquires the land, they only need to pay back land premium as to what is actually paid by the cooperatives," he said.

The lease, registered on March 27, 2008 and effective up to March 26, 2107, was issued to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang Bhd.

The Penang government changed on March 8 after the general election, with the defeat of Barisan Nasional in the state. The Pakatan Rakyat coalition then assumed office under the stewardship of Lim Guan Eng of DAP.

Developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd entered the picture on April 14, 2008, based on transaction details on the document.

"I have discovered a serious weakness in the landowner Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang Bhd and Nusmetro's claim on the land.

"It is issued with restriction 'tanah yang diberi milik ini tidak boleh dipindah milik, cagar, pajak, pajakan kecil atau sebarang bentuk urusniaga (the land cannot be transferred, mortgaged, pawned, sub-let or used as a business instrument.)

"This restriction reduces the cooperatives to an end-user as it can build houses for members only. It cannot enter into a joint venture to develop the land or sell units to third party," he added.

He said that his assumption was based on the fact that the Penang government did not approve any transaction or development in relation to the land after the title was issued.

Fernandez said if the Penang government had not given any approval for the project, then Kampung Buah Pala is saved.

Developer has no claim over loss

The lawyer also said the developer cannot claim loss of market value or gross development loss as the land cannot be developed in the first place.

"It (the land) has no commercial value without the state consent to develop it. Hence, with this it can be easily acquired back by the Penang government," the Petaling Jaya councillor said.

He argued that in fact, the cooperatives should give back the land to the Penang government as it is duty bound to comply with state government policy as it is made up of officers of the state.

"The state could give them some other asset to replace this property. The developer in this case has no rights as there cannot be joint venture enforced without the state government's approval because of the restrictions," he said.

Fernandez also said the co-operatives should not have been involved in any business dealings in the first place due to restrictions imposed.

The restriction on the title, Fernandez said, makes the cooperatives the end-user only, as there should not be any purchaser or buyer.

He also debunked the caveat obtained by Nusmetro as according to him it only showed that the developer was laying claim over the land.

He added that the caveat itself was illegal based on a judgment delivered by Justice Mahadev Shankar in the case of Goo Hee Sing vs Will Raja and Anor.

Chief Minister Lim had previously stated that the state government has yet to give approval on the project.

"If that is the case, the land cannot be developed without the new government's approval so they (developer Nusmetro) cannot claim loss of market value or gross development value," added Fernandez.

Project is unlawful

He said that to acquire the land, the state government only needed to pay back the premium or what was actually paid by the cooperative society to the government.

"Therefore the state government can stop the demolition by issuing an acquisition notice under the Land Acquisition Act.

"It is my opinion that in the event the Pakatan government did not approve any development as they claimed, the project is unlawful in law because of these restrictions in the document.

Former Petaling Jaya councillor A Thiruvenggedam meanwhile has challenged Penang Chief Minister Lim to set the record straight on whether his government had approved any development projects with the land when it took over the reigns.

"Lim has been putting the blame on BN and also declassifying confidential documents to prove the point that it was BN's fault.

"He (Lim) should stop in this blame game and set the record straight," he added.

(With additional reporting by K Pragalath)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

> High Chaparral: 'Solution meet' on Saturday

The state government will meet residents of Kampung Buah Pala on Saturday to find a solution to the land problem.

The meeting at Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (Komtar) at 2.30pm will be attended by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and state exco members, said Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy.

"We will find a solution to the problem and hope to discuss it with residents," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

The state government would also present a proposal by Kampung Buah Pala project developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd.

"We hope to receive the draft proposal today or tomorrow so that we can study it," he said.

Ramasamy however said that the meeting on Saturday will not involve the project developer.

Controversy erupted when the state government sold the 2.6 hectare land to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang Bhd which later appointed Nusmetro Ventures as project developer.

Nusmetro Ventures then obtained a court order demanding Kampung Buah Pala residents to vacate the land by Aug 3.

Ramasamy said if the proposal was not acceptable to residents, the state government would withdraw its approval for a housing project.

Why did MIC keep quiet in 2007?

On the statement by MIC president S Samy Vellu that the party was willing to pay RM3.2 million to settle the issue, he said it has to be discussed with the developer and koperasi as the land did not belong to the state government.

"If MIC wants to settle the issue by buying the Kampung Buah Pala land, they can talk to the developer and koperasi but RM3.2mil will not be enough as the price has since increased to about RM150mil," he said.

Meanwhile, DAP questioned MIC's 'political game' by attempting to portray themselves as the champions in this issue.

"If MIC was really interested in safeguarding the land, then it should have done so in 2007 when MIC exco member P Subbayah sat on the Penang BN panel which approved to sell the land to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang (KPKPP)," said the party's labour chief A Sivanesan.

"If MIC had truly wanted to champion the rights of the residents then it should have done so in 2007 when the sale of the land went through. Now MIC is catching the tail-end of the problem and trying to solve it by putting the blame on the state government," he said - Malaysiakini.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

> 'Cash is ready' Samy slams 'hypocrite' CM



MIC president S Samy Vellu today took Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to task over the Kampung Buah Pala land issue.

Disappointed that Lim had accused MIC of 'bluffing' about willing to pay the RM3.2 million premium for the land, the president said he was surprised that the DAP secretary-general would make such a remark.

"I respected him (Lim) as a young dynamic person. It is unfortunate that he (Lim) can say anything that suits his purpose for the moment and being willy nilly when the table turns," he said.

"We have to see what Lim had to say about Bukit Cina in Melaka and compare with what he is doing with Kampung Buah Pala," he added in a statement.

DAP had resolved the Bukit Cina issue in 1984 and Lim was quoted as saying that it showed the party's priority in preserving important culture and heritage over development projects for the sake of private gain.

"What we are seeing is hypocrisy in Lim's words," said Samy Vellu.

Premium deposited with lawyers

Meanwhile, the MIC president said the party will deposit the RM3.2 million premium for the return of the affected land with the party's lawyers.

He said when the Penang government was ready to hand over the land to the Kampung Buah Pala villagers, the payment would be made by the party's lawyers to the state government.

"I have instructed MIC lawyers to write to the state government and chief minister to get the land matter cleared. The lawyers would transmit the money when the land is approved," he said.

Samy Vellu said in any land deal, the money would only be paid after the land has been transacted or the documents for the transactions were ready.

"Here, we have a chief minister telling us to pay first and then let's talk," he said.

Just like DAP in 1984, Samy Vellu said MIC also wanted to save Kampung Buah Pala to preserve the Indian culture and heritage.

He urged the state government not to take the people for a ride as the land was transferred during Lim's time as chief minister and not by the previous state government.

"It is your government which took the premium. You could have stopped it if you had the least sympathy for the Indians in Kampung Buah Pala," he added - Malaysiakini.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

> Kampung Buah Pala: Guan Eng orders stop to project



Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today ordered the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) to withdraw the development approval given to Nusmetro (P) Sdn Bhd to develop Kampung Buah Pala in Bukit Gelugor.

He said he was invoking his authority as the chief minister to revoke the decision made by the previous administration.

He said the current administration was not involved in the project, and that if the developer still wanted to proceed with the project, it must take into account the social aspects of the residents.

Speaking to reporters after launching the green building index forum organised by the northern chapter of the Malaysian Institute of Architects today, he said although the developer had the right to demolish the houses of residents, it cannot develop the land.

"If the developer wants to continue with the project, it must find a solution that will benefit all those involved, including the villagers," he said.

He said although the Federal Court's decision was in favour of the developer, it was not an excuse to neglect the residents.

The Kampung Buah Pala issue created a controversy when 23 families refused to vacate their homes although the Federal Court had dismissed their appeal to remain there.

The villagers urged the state government to intervene, claiming that several Pakatan leaders had promised to help them during the campaign for the last general election.

The land is owned by the Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang Berhad and will be developed for a housing project.

The developer and land owner cannot be reached for comment - Bernama.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

> Asia watches long solar eclipse




People in Asia have seen the longest total solar eclipse this century, with large areas of India and China plunged into darkness.

Amateur stargazers and scientists travelled far to see the eclipse, which lasted six minutes and 39 seconds at its maximum point.

The eclipse could first be seen early on Wednesday in eastern India.

It then moved east across India, Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Japan and the Pacific.

The eclipse first became total over India at 0053GMT, and was last visible from land at Nikumaroro Island in the South Pacific nation of Kiribati. It ended at 0418GMT.

Elsewhere, a partial eclipse was visible across much of Asia.

Mixed blessing

In India, millions gathered in open spaces from the west coast to the northern plains, with clouds parting in some cities at dawn - just before the total eclipse.

AT THE SCENE

Sanjoy Majumder, BBC News

As we flew up high above the monsoon clouds over eastern India, the pilot counted down the minutes and dimmed the cabin lights.

Then as the passengers sucked in their breath and exclaimed, the shadow of the moon travelled ever so slowly across the face of the sun until is was completely obscure - a darkened orb with the sun's white crown visible in a perfect circle.

Around us the sky was pitch dark and the galaxy glittered in all its glory. It was, as one passenger put it later, an emotional and breathtaking moment.

'A night to remember'

But thick clouds and an overcast sky obscured the view at the Indian village of Taregna, "epicentre" of the eclipse, says our correspondent in the area.

Many of the thousands of people who gathered there to watch the eclipse left the village disappointed.

"We were apprehensive of this cloudy weather but it was still a unique experience with morning turning into night for more than three minutes," scientist Amitabh Pande told the Associated Press news agency.

Some enthusiasts in India were on board a special chartered flight for a close-up view of the eclipse.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder, who was on the flight, said that from a vantage point of 41,000ft (12,500m), it was a celestial spectacle like few others.

Among the passengers were a man who was witnessing it for the eighth time, scientists, amateur astronomers and children.

In India and Nepal, where it is considered auspicious to watch the eclipse while immersed in holy water, crowds gathered at rivers or ponds, including tens of thousands of people at Varanasi on the Ganges.

"We have come here because our elders told us this is the best time to improve our afterlife," said Bhailal Sharma, a villager who had travelled to Varanasi from central India.

The event in Varanasi was marred, however, when a woman was killed and several others injured in a stampede on the river banks, police said.

For others, the eclipse was seen to be a bad omen.

In Nepal, authorities shut all schools for the day to avoid exposing students to any ill-effects, says the BBC's Joanna Jolly in Kathmandu.

Some parents in Delhi kept their children from attending school at breakfast because of a Hindu belief that it is inauspicious to prepare food during an eclipse, while pregnant women were advised to stay inside due to a belief that the eclipse could harm a foetus.

"My mother and aunts have called and told me stay in a darkened room with the curtains closed, lie in bed and chant prayers," said Krati Jain, a software worker in Delhi who is expecting her first child.

Authorities in China, where an eclipse was a bad omen in ancient culture, reassured the public that services would run normally.

In the east of the country, heavy cloud or rain obscured it.

Pollution was also a barrier, with thick smog in Beijing blotting out the sky.

The last total eclipse, in August 2008, lasted two minutes and 27 seconds.

Alphonse Sterling, a Nasa astrophysicist who followed the latest eclipse from China, said scientists were hoping data from it would help explain solar flares and other structures of the sun and why they erupt.

"We'll have to wait a few hundred years for another opportunity to observe a solar eclipse that lasts this long, so it's a very special opportunity," Shao Zhenyi, an astronomer at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China told the Associated Press.

Solar eclipses allow scientists to see the gases surrounding the sun, or its corona.
Solar scientist Lucie Green, from University College London, was aboard an American cruise ship heading for the point near the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, where the axis of the Moon's shadow passed closest to Earth.

"The [Sun's] corona has a temperature of 2 million degrees but we don't know why it is so hot," she said.

"What we are going to look for are waves in the corona.

"The waves might be producing the energy that heats the corona. That would mean we understand another piece of the science of the Sun."

The next total solar eclipse will occur on 11 July, 2010. It will be visible in a narrow corridor over the southern hemisphere, from the southern Pacific Ocean to Argentina - BBC.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

> Another man lays claim to Hindraf

by Baradan Kuppusamy

K. Vasantha Kumar, 36, is the odd man out among the six leaders of Hindraf.

Not only is he not a lawyer unlike the others he is also the person in the deep shadows of Hindraf.

Even as an ISA detainee he was eclipsed by other leaders like P. Uthayakumar.

But now he is coming out in the open, laying claim to Hindraf and trying to make a career speaking out for the Indian community.

Unlike Uthayakumar who is keen on starting a political party, Vasantha Kumar is forming an Indian-based NGO, another organisation in a crowded field, to speak up for the community.

He has also lined up 12 new leaders who will be identified at a function in Kajang on July 25.

“Hindraf is a non-political and independent NGO and should remain as one. Nobody can claim to manage or lead Hindraf,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Vasantha Kumar said in 2007 he and several others applied to the Registrar of Societies to registered Hindraf as a society but the registrar rejected the application.

“Then I and two others registered Hindraf Enterprise with the Registrar of Companies and it was accepted,” he said, justifying why others like Uthayakumar cannot claim to lead Hindraf.

“The two persons left the company, leaving me the sole proprietor of Hindraf Enterprise,” Vasantha Kumar said, adding that subsequently the Registrar of Companies de-registered Hindraf Enterprises.

“My lawyers are taking action to revive Hindraf Enterprise,” he said.

Vasantha Kumar denied the new organisation would further split the Indian community even though there are now nearly a dozen political parties and NGOs claiming to speak for its interest.

“Many of them claim to speak up for the Indian community but they all have their own agendas,” he said.

A graduate in management and marketing from Universiti Utara Malaysia, Vasantha Kumar worked with Citibank, RHB Bank and MBSB as a mortgage recovery officer before his involvement with Hindraf.

He claimed that Pakatan Rakyat had failed the people by not fulfilling the many promises it made during the election and cited the Kampung Buah Pala issue in Penang as an example.

He also said that Barisan Nasional was no better.

“Barisan is more aware of Indian issues now and is offering help but what they are giving is inadequate. They should have given these assistance 20 or 30 years ago,” he said, adding his organisation, whose name he declined to reveal as yet, would raise Indian issues to persuade the government of the day to address them.

He said the government should have a separate allocation each year to help the Indian community in the yearly budget.

“We are neither with Pakatan nor Barisan but will pressure both for help,” he said while pledging his group would eschew street demonstrations.

“We will organise pressure and demand in a peaceful manner,” he said.

With his announcement, there are now three organisations which have emerged out of the banned Hindraf movement — Uthayakumar’s Parti Hak Asasi Manusia or PAHAM, Makkal Sakthi Malaysia Party led by former Hindraf national co-coordinator R.S. Thanenthiran and Vasantha Kumar’s proposed NGO - The Malaysian Insider.

Friday, July 10, 2009

> Kg Buah Pala: Villagers to file fresh writ to claim ownership

by Athi Shankar

The 'High Chaparral' Kampung Buah Pala villagers will file a fresh writ at the Penang High Court next week to stake claim of ownership over the village, which they claim to have resided in for nearly 200 years.

Darshan Singh Khaira, their lawyer, said he will file the writ under common law principles of adverse possession, equity and legitimate expectation.

When asked to explain the writ's contents, Darshan (right) said the villagers would base their argument on the fact that they had stayed in the village for years without giving recognition to any other ownership.

Darshan said the villagers had occupied the land uninterupted for more than 12 years after it was given to them by their colonial estate master Helen Margaret Brown.

According to him, there were many case law precedents to back the villagers' claim of ownership.

He said the villagers would also apply for a stay of execution of the writ of possession dated June 2 issued to them by the proposed developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd.

Declassified documents handed over

The developer issued the writ after the villagers lost their appeal at the Federal Court last month.

Kampung Buah Pala villagers had sought to set aside an earlier Court of Appeal decision favouring the land owner, Koperasi Pegawai Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang, and Nusmetro.

The villagers face eviction from Kampung Buah Pala after Aug 2.

Kampung Buah Pala is famously known as 'Tamil High Chaparral' by locals due to its cowherds, cattles, goats and Tamil traditional way of life.

Today, the state government handed over several declassified documents pertaining to the land deal to the village committee assistant secretary C Tharmaraj.

Darshan praised Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for releasing the documents.

Lim was notified of transaction

According the documents, the cooperative society had paid RM2.247 million on March 14, 2008 - a week after Lim had become the chief minister.

The land was transferred by the state government to the cooperative society on March 27, 19 days after Pakatan Rakyat captured the Penang government in the March 8 general election.

Tharmaraj alleged that on March 16, the villagers were informed by their then lawyer Cecil Rajendra that Lim had been notified about the land transaction.

He said Cecil Rajendra had ask Lim to scrutinise the transaction and that there was a pending court case on the village land.

“Lim now claims that he didn't know anything about the transaction. Lim should stop blaming the previous administration on the issue. He is partly to be blamed for allowing the transaction,” he said.

The declassified documents contained the chronology of the previous BN executive council decisions made on the Kampung Buah Pala land deals.

We'll meet Lim if he's sincere

Lim has said that the document proved that former Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon and his Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan cohorts had robbed the villagers of their land without consulting them.

Tharmaraj said that the Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association would be the villagers' sole voice and Darshan their legal representative.

Yesterday the villagers did not attend a proposed meeting with Lim (left) when they were refused to be accompanied by Darshan.

Tharmaraj said the villagers would welcome Lim wholeheartedly to the village if he sincerely wanted to have a 'heart to heart talk' with them.

Darshan called on Lim's government to testify during the court hearing on the villagers' impending writ of ownership claim.

“If the state government can admit in court that the deals were fraudulent, then it need not pay a single cent to reacquire the land since the deal would be nullified.

“It will end the villagers' predicament once for all if the state government can do that,” he said - Malaysiakini.

> Reviewing our outdated Acts

by C Celestine

A special committee has been set up under the Prime Minister's Department to review outdated Acts.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz said most of these Acts existing between 1948 and 1952 during British rule imposed outdated sentences.

"For example, four Selangor Umno Youth members were recently fined RM1,000 each under an old Act for preventing Karpal Singh (Member of Parliament for Bukit Gelugor) from entering Parliament. The fine is rather small by present standards.

"The court could not pass a stiffer penalty as the provision of the Act was such," Nazri told reporters after closing the family day of the Chenderoh chapter of the Malaysian Ex-servicemen Association.

Headed by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong and aided by the Attorney General's Chamber, Nazri said the committee would advise whether the laws needed to be amended with regard to offences and penalties.

While Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein brought to the Prime Minister's Department attention some Acts dating back over 60 years, the public would like to know about Suhakam’s report to Parliament submitted in April 2001 listing such Acts needing reform.

Fear and distrust of authority

These powerful laws were passed with clear intentions considered necessary to keep social and political order at a specific point in time said Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Fellow Ooi Kee Beng.

The laws were established amidst the Emergency during a global Cold War, the significance of events of those days should be seen in that light.

Malaysia, he believes, has an overkill of such laws. “We have too many of them, which puts the country mentally in a perpetual state of crisis. Fear and distrust of authority becomes part of our political culture,” he added.

The laws he was referring to and mentioned by the Ministers are:

* The Constitution (Amendment) Act 1971 specifically Articles 152, 153 and 181 and Part III permitting Parliament to pass legislation limiting dissent with regard to provisions pertaining to the social contract.

(The social contract was a quid pro quo agreement between Malay and non-Malay citizens, for non-Malay citizenship at Independence, symbols of Malay authority such as the Malay monarchy became national symbols and head of Islam for the Muslim nation and Malays granted economic privileges as natives of Malaya and the region.)

* With this new power, Parliament amended the Sedition Act 1948, (Amendment) 1971. The new restriction applied to Members of Parliament overruling part of Parliamentary privilege at the same time.

* Article 159, which governs Constitutional amendments, was to entrench "sensitive" Constitutional provisions. Any changes to "sensitive" portions of the Constitution would have to pass the Conference of Rulers, a body comprising the monarchs of the Malay states.

* The Internal Security Act, 1960, which permits detention without trial was amended to stress "intercommunal harmony".

* The others are The Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime Ordinance (EO) 1969, Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, Police Act 1967and Official Secrets Act 1972, (Amendment 1986).

Mechanism for review and amendment

Ooi believed laws become unnecessary because times change and situations evolve. There is a mechanism for review and amendment of laws in our legal system, he said.

If people can govern themselves without being policed, then laws and enforcement agencies would be unnecessary but it is not the impression given as seen in road rage.

The danger, he pointed out, lies in the fact the government was too dependent on these laws and used them as a short cut in law enforcement leading easily to accusations of political abuse.

Citing global terrorism as a reason to reactivate these laws allows a chance to control and manipulate society to rule without dissent.

“One of the aims of global terrorism, today, is to destroy complacency in society. When we react and reactivate harsh laws to protect ourselves, we very quickly accomplish exactly what the terrorists want,” he said.

A competent police force aided by an independent judiciary minimises the need for draconian laws.

Ooi opined that because of these laws, Malaysia remains in a state of tension and fear without realising its full potential, Fear means stand-offs and an avoidance of dialogue between different groups and the government.

“We get defensive, we play safe, we avoid sensitive issues, we pretend we are more sensitive than we actually are and we play tit-for-tat with other groups. We do not trust the government, the courts and the police. We do not believe we can go beyond these stand-offs” he added.

Umno leaders ignorant of facts of history

One of the issues touching on legal principles and values such as human rights is Chin Peng's request to return. He explained it should be based on legal considerations such as the conditions of the peace treaty between the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and the Mahathir government based on humanitarian grounds.

Director at the Centre for Policy Initiative, Dr Lim Teck Ghee, reminded Malaysians that British academicians studying that period conceded the CPM was an anti-colonial and nationalist force.

However, at the Baling Talks of 1955, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj turned down Chin Peng's request for the CPM to be recognized legally. This could be due to Chin Peng not agreeing to "the detention" of his people as a condition for an amnesty among other things.

“It is the present government including Umno leaders’ ignorance of facts of history that lead them to engage in a distortion of it.

“ A reason for the current ruling establishment's 'amnesia' on that important period of our formative history was the CPM included many non-Chinese members and sympathisers and it posed a threat to the established political supremacy at that time,” Lim said.

As stipulated by the Haadyai Agreement, within a year after the Dec 2, 1989 signing of the agreement, Chin Peng notified the government of his intention to return to reside in his country of birth.

He complied with the terms and conditions of the Haadyai Peace Agreement but to date the government has not met its obligations.

Challenging International law

The government's refusal to grant Chin Peng residence violates Malaysia's obligations under the terms of the Haadyai Peace Agreement and obligations under the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the United Nations' International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights according to the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).

Recently Chin Peng, 83, sought a High Court order to allow him to return to Malaysia which was turned down.

One must remember Chin Peng was born in Dindings, then a part of the Straits Settlements. Special citizenship rules applied to such persons following Merdeka.

Former Inspector-General of Police Hanif Omar said Chin Peng was not allowed to return to Malaysia because he had never been a citizen of the country.

Hanif said that "Chin Peng was not a citizen of Malaya. He was born in Dindings, Perak, which was then a settlement ceded to the British. So, he became a British subject.

"When Perak was no longer under the British administration, the Malays in Dindings became subjects of the Sultan of Perak but Chin Peng, no longer a British subject, became stateless.

"People say we could accept Shamsiah Fakeh and other former Malay communist leaders so why can't we accept him (Chin Peng)? (The answer is) because he is not a subject of the sultan."

Nationalists or betrayers of the nation?

Chin Peng was awarded the Order of the British Empire (Military) for fighting the Japanese and leading the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) in resisting Japanese occupation of Malaya.

He was supported by a group of Malay anti-establishment leaders. “We see again the urgent need to separate the version put out by politically-driven polemic and propaganda from that which may be deducted from historical facts,” said Lim.

The recent barrage of this issue elicited response from prominent people such as Information, Communications and Culture Minister Dr Rais Yatim who reminded society especially the young to not look at communism as something that was noble and had values.

"Actually the communists in the country were betrayers, killers and they will be remembered as such.

"We have to look back at history and remind people the country became independent and prosperous not through communism and the communists were traitors," he added.

Lim in turn questioned: “Why is the government afraid of permitting open discussion of the alternative versions to the official history?”

These attempts at intellectual repression may work with the controlled mass media but Malaysians can now easily access the electronic media, to decide for themselves the true role of Chin Peng in Malaysian history, he added.

CPM may have been provoked into retaliation

The CPM upon the British re-establishing themselves in Malaya was motivated to insist on freedom from colonial rule, he stressed.

“There was an ideological ferment against colonial rule not only in Malaysia but in many other parts of Asia. There were other factors besides the deep sense of nationalism and abhorrence of colonial rule.”

Many in the CPM were driven by the fact they lost family members as a result of the Japanese regime and by their disappointment with British rule.

Of equal importance was although the CPM was predominantly Chinese in membership, it was a heterogeneous group embracing Malaysians from different communities, classes and strata of society.

Armed struggle or peaceful negotiations was long and hotly debated by the leadership, rank and file and its sympathisers. This gives the impression the CPM may have been provoked into retaliation when its members were ambushed or attacked by then government forces.

Chin Peng should be allowed to return along the principles and spirit of the Haadyai Accord, Lim urged.

These laws were identified by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) Law Reform Committee as needing reform in 2001. Declining to state the specific provisions in the Acts, all then chairman Musa Hitam would say was they were relevant to the human rights issue - Malaysian Mirror.

> AirAsia launches low-cost courier service

Budget carrier AirAsia today launched "Redbox", an express courier service it says will be 50 percent cheaper than its rivals.

AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes said the new venture would expand the low-cost carrier's non-airline revenue and help protect it from future oil-price spikes.

"There is a huge untapped consumer market. I don't think many individuals use courier services," he told a news conference.

Fernandes said the Malaysian courier industry was worth RM500 million annually and that he intended to capture RM30 million of that in the first year, a goal he said was "easily achievable."

The company is billing Redbox - named after the airline's signature colour - as the world's first low-cost courier service.

"It will build strong revenue, and bring costs down for business so they can be more efficient," Fernandes said.

Currently, 12 percent of AirAsia's revenue is from ancillary services like food sold on planes, and Fernandes is aiming to boost that figure to 20 percent within the next few years.

AirAsia is partnering with Mail Boxes Etc, which will provide collection points for packages, and technology consulting firm DMSBT, which will establish an Internet service to track individual shipments.

Transport firm DHL will convey cargo to and from the airport.

Redbox will initially operate only within Malaysia, and next year extend to AirAsia's 65 destinations in Australia, Britain, China, India and Southeast Asia - AFP.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

> High Chaparral: No lawyer, no face-off with CM

by Athi Shankar

The anticipated meeting between the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Kampung Buah Pala residents ended even before it could start.

The villagers walked out of the state secretariat in Komtar after the chief minister insisted that they could not be represented by their lawyer Darshan Singh Khaira at the proposed meeting at 11am.

Bukit Gelugor parliamentarian Karpal Singh had arranged the meeting to find an amicable solution to resolve the escalating crisis.

It is learnt that the villagers had set the condition that they be represented by Darshan.

When some 20 villagers led by Kampung Buah Pala residents' association chairperson M Sugumaran arrived at Komtar's third floor at 10.30am, they were asked by Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer to accept the 'no lawyers' condition.

Rayer also insisted that the villagers should be represented by five association committee members during the meeting with Lim.

When the villagers insisted that they wanted Darshan Singh to be present, Rayer refused to budge.

The villagers then walked out.

Association assistant secretary C Tharmaraj accused the chief minister of pulling a political stunt to impress Penangites that he is working overtime to resolve the crisis.

"Why did he deny us our fundamental right to have legal representation at the meeting?" he asked.

Rayer, however, managed to persuade one resident - named as Saravanan - to accompany him to the meeting.

Despite vehement objections by the others, Saravanan went to the chief minister's office at Level 28. What transpired is not known.

CM says lawyer was present

Speaking to reporters later, Lim claimed that the residents' 'lawyer' Cecil Rajendra had been present.

However this was immediately dismissed by Sugumaran who said that Rajendra is not their lawyer.

Sugumaran admitted that Rajendra had represented the villagers in the High Court in their case against the developer. However they had subsequently engaged different lawyers to represent them in the two higher courts.

"It's funny to hear that the chief minister knows who our lawyer is, but how can Lim claim that Rajendra represents us? We have now appointed Darshan Singh to represent us, not anyone else."

Darshan Singh said he is surprised that Rajendra is still acting as the residents' lawyer.

"This was done without the knowledge and authorisation of the villagers," he said.

State to file for review

At the press conference, Lim said the state government is looking into invoking provisions of the National Land Code (NLC) to stop the developer from demolishing the houses in the village.

But he said the state government must first face the complications arising from the court order which is in favour of the developer.

Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd had obtained a Federal Court ruling on June 24 to evict the villagers. Based on this, the developer had issued writ of vacant possession on July 2 to the villagers.

Lim said the state government would have to study the legal repercussions of using the NLC provisions, adding that the state authorities will seek a High Court review on the matter. Malaysiakini.

> Government scraps teaching of maths and science in English

The government today decided to end the policy of teaching mathematics and science in English or PPSMI in both primary and secondary schools effective from 2012.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in an announcement today, said the two subjects will be taught in Bahasa Melayu in national schools and Tamil and Chinese for vernacular schools.

The Education Minister added that the changes would not affect Form Six and matriculation programmes.

"The government made the decision after studying closely research on PPSMI that shows that PPSMI could not be implemented as expected," Muhyiddin told a special press conference here.

He said the decision was fair and made carefully after witnessing the implementation in the first six years after its introduction.

He also denied that the decision to scrap the policy was politically motivated.

"This decision is not political, we made the decision not for political mileage. What is Manek Urai compared to the future of our children," said Muhyiddin.

He however denied that the PPSMI policy had failed.

"I wouldn't say it was a complete failure, but it did not achieve what it was supposed to achieve," he said.

Introduced in 2003, the policy has been heavily criticised by Chinese educationists and Malay-language activists, but a recent survey by the independent Merdeka Center showed that 58 per cent of 1,060 voters interviewed supported the policy.

Muhyiddin had admitted in Parliament last month that students had not shown significant improvement in the two subjects over the past six years.

But he said today the intention of the policy, which is to improve English language proficiency among Malaysian students, will continue to be upheld.

The measures to be introduced include recruiting some 14,000 new English language teachers. Currently there are more than 30,000 English teachers nationwide.

Muhyiddin also said the lesson duration for English language would also be doubled for lower primary students to 120 minutes a week, while for upper primary it would be increased from 90 minutes to 120 minutes a week.

For secondary students, the duration will be increased from 200 minutes to 280 minutes a week - The Malaysian Insider.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

> Pakatan Rakyat gearing up for state election in Perak

by Kong See Hoh

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is gearing up for a state election in Perak which it believes will be held very soon.

According to a report in Oriental Daily News, PR is dead sure that the Perak state assembly will be dissolved soon based on the latest political developments in the state and the belief the Barisan Nasional (BN) is worried that the repercussions from its power grab earlier in the year would affect its performance in the next general election if the "hiccups" in Perak is not resolved.

PR top leaders said reliable BN sources revealed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has agreed in principle to seek the dissolution of the Perak state assembly but the Sultan will make final decision on the matter.

The report said PR, at its council meeting on Monday, discussed preparations for a state election, including on the strategies to be adopted to endear itself to the people.

It said the coalition believed that the most democratic way to elect a government is to allow the people to exercise their wisdom and make an informed choice.

It is understood that PR, which comprises Parti Keadilan Rakyat, PAS and DAP, is expected to come up its election manifesto soon.

Perak PR has also set up several committees to mobilise members of component parties at short notices.

It is also learnt that PR will also pick their shadow village heads for some 140 new villages to take care of problems faced by villagers.

Perak PKR deputy chief Chan Lih Kang, who was among those who attended the PR council meeting, told Oriental that the coalition has all these while believed that BN will call for an election in Perak and that it is just a matter of time that the assembly is dissolved.

He was mum about what was discussed at the meeting but stressed that the abattoir issue in Kedah has not affected Perak PR - theSun.

> MJ's daughter, Paris says 'The best father ever'.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

> Pakatan presents a united front

by Adib Zalkapli

It’s ironic: talk of a unity government almost tore them apart but last night Pakatan Rakyat (PR) held a public rally which was for all intents and purposes a show of unity.

Thousands of people attended the rally MBPJ's stadium in Kelana Jaya and heard Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim speak of their commitment to PR.

PAS’s Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Nasharudin Mat Isa did not attend the rally.

“Tonight we prove the Umno media wrong; the Pakatan Rakyat remains united,” said Opposition Leader Anwar referring to media reports promoting the Umno-PAS unity government idea.

Despite the opposition coalition’s success in solving the internal problem caused by some PAS leaders’ insistence on holding unity talks with Umno, PR has come under pressure from Barisan Nasional (BN).

Last weekend, the prime minister announced a new merit-based government scholarship that attempts to curb the discontent of the Chinese community which has complained of being consistently sidelined by the Public Service Department in the awarding of scholarships.

And yesterday the government dropped the 30 per cent Bumiputera equity requirement for Malaysian firms seeking public listing.

These liberalisation measures appear to be similar to the PR’s reform agenda but Anwar last night insisted that the BN has yet to institute what he called real reforms, which includes eradicating corruption, promoted by the federal opposition.

“PR’s policy is to ensure that every Malaysian, the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians have equal place in the country,” said Anwar.

The Permatang Pauh MP who is facing his second sodomy trial in a decade also reiterated the party’s stand on the Malay language and mother tongue education in an attempt to pressure the government into abolishing the use of English as a medium of instruction for the teaching of science and mathematics, a policy introduced in 2003 which has attracted criticism from both Malay nationalists and Chinese educationists - The Malaysian Insider.