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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Another ex-home minister denies sending letter to FBI

Doktor arah henti, Kumar berdegil mahu terus berlapar

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson slams Saudi flags 'nonsense'

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has condemned the lowering of flags on public buildings as a mark of respect for the Saudi king.

Ms Davidson tweeted that it was "a steaming pile of nonsense".

Downing Street and other Whitehall departments were among those to put Union Flags at half mast after the death of 90-year-old King Abdullah.

In a second tweet, Ms Davidson said it was a "stupid act on its own and a stupid precedent to set".

The UK government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) sent out the request.

Officials said it was a matter of protocol and that the formal request had been made by Buckingham Palace, which is also flying its flag at half mast.

But the move caused disquiet because of the human rights record of the country during King Abdullah's reign.

There has been recent outrage focused on the public beheading of a woman and a sentence of 1,000 lashes meted out to the creator of an online blog.

The mark of respect was not adopted north of the border.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We offer the people of Saudi Arabia our condolences following the passing of King Abdullah.

"Flags are not routinely flown at half-mast from Scottish government buildings to mark the deaths of foreign heads of government or state."

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said the Scottish government had got it right.

He said: "I know there are all sorts of issues of protocol here. But when the sorts of things that happen in Saudi Arabia - a thousand lashes, the recent beheading of a woman.

"I think, all across Scotland - all across the UK - there will be a sense of bewilderment about it."

Ms Davidson's tweets came as Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prince of Wales prepared to fly to Saudi Arabia to join international figures paying tribute to the king, who was seen as a crucial Western ally.

Mr Cameron said that he was "deeply saddened" and that the ruler would be "remembered for his long years of service to the kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths".

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch issued a foul-mouthed response to Mr Cameron's message of condolence to the Saudi royals and said she felt "ashamed to be a Conservative" until Ms Davidson spoke out.

She said: "It is so unacceptable to offer deep condolences for a man who flogged women, didn't let them drive, saw guardian laws passed & STARVES THEM".

"I have been ashamed to be a Conservative today. Ruth Davidson has restored my faith. Somebody who truly stands for something."

The flags issue also split opinion between two of UKIP's key figures.

Leader Nigel Farage said it showed "respect for an ally in the war against terror" and that the issue of human rights should be taken up with the new king.

But MP Douglas Carswell said officials had seriously blundered and showed "immoral" values far from those of the British public.

Ban on adopting Syrian, Iraqi orphans in Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Social Affairs has prohibited Saudi families from adopting children of foreign or Arab nationalities and said the ministry is only concerned with taking care of Saudi orphans.

According to Al-Hayat newspaper on Thursday, the ministry said the children who lose their parents in areas of conflicts such as Iraq and Syria are the concern of the international humanitarian organizations.

Latifa Al-Tamimi, director of the women social supervision office in the Eastern Province, said the ministry is also looking after children of Saudi fathers with foreign wives abandoned abroad.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Jan 23, 2014.

‘Allah’ ban wrong if not linked to conversion, says law don

The ban on using the word Allah is unconstitutional if it is not linked to proselytisation, said Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 23, 2015.Any blanket ban on the use of "Allah" and other Arabic words by state laws without linking it to proselytisation is unconstitutional, Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi told a lecture on human rights today.

The Universiti Teknologi Mara law lecturer said a ban on the word was particularly unfair to the people of Sabah and Sarawak, who have used it for a long time.

"I've said this many times before, 'Allah' precedes Islam.

"It may have even preceded Christianity and Judaism. It is a word more ancient that these religions," he said during question and answer session with law students at the Brickfields Asia College in Petaling Jaya today.

He said the word was also used by Sikhs and Hindus.

He said the only issue that arose was in Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that permits the state to pass laws to regulate the preaching of religion to Muslims.

"Religiously and linguistically speaking, there is no basis for the ban, but Article 11 clause four is there.

"Some Muslims are saying that the use of the word is an attempt to proselytise," he said.

But he added that to have a blanket ban on 35 Arabic words as in the case of Selangor without linking the usage to proselytisation was beyond the scope of Article 11 (4).

"Article 11 does not authorise a complete ban no matter what, unless it invokes proselytisation," he said.

The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 bans non-Muslims from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including "Allah".

Shad said today the concern now was that the Court of Appeal ban on the word appeared to be broad enough to cover Sabah and Sarawak.

He added that this was a problem as some of the people there only spoke in Malay.

"They have been using the word for a long time and nobody can tell them to wipe out their childhood memories and ask them to use new vocabulary.

"It is totally oppressive and unjust to ask them to change things," he said.

Shad was referring to the appellate court’s decision to uphold the Home Minister's ban on the use of the word Allah in the Catholic weekly.

The Catholic Church took their case to the Federal Court, which denied it leave to appeal against the ban in a 4-3 majority decision.

The church's review application against the Federal Court decision was also dismissed on Wednesday, ending the church's long struggle that began in 2009. – January 23, 2015.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/allah-ban-unconstitutional-if-not-linked-to-conversion-says-law-lecturer#sthash.UmOxbIV3.dpuf

Furious MIC man's fast ends fast

 
An MIC leader started his hunger strike yesterday afternoon and it was supposed to last until his "last breath" should his demands not be addressed.

But G Kumar Aaman will be eating tonight.

This is after party president G Palanivel told him to end his strike outside the Registrar of Societies (ROS) headquarters in Putrajaya.

In an announcement late this evening, Palanivel (left) said the hunger strike should end "for the sake of MIC and BN's image".

The president said he is currently dealing with the ROS issue and the validity of Kumar's appointment as MIC secretary-general.

Speaking to reporters, Kumar said he will respect the wish of his president and end the hunger strike tonight.

"I will follow the president and will await the arrival of (MIC vice-president) S Balakrishnan to officiate the ending of the strike," he said.

Kumar's strike was aimed at pushing for the Home Ministry's intervention as well as the removal of the ROS director-general and his officers.

After launching his hunger strike, Kumar had remarked: "I will stay here until my last breath. I will die for the Indian community."

The MIC man said that he would sleep outside the building and ingest only liquids until justice is done.

Kumar also revealed that his action was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.

I never wrote to FBI, confirms Syed Hamid

 
 Former home minister Syed Hamid Syed Albar says he never wrote any letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States during his tenure in government.

"During my time, I didn't write any letter to the FBI, " Syed Hamid said after attending a signing ceremony of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), which he chairs, today.

This comes after another former home minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, also declared earlier this week that he had never issued any letter to the FBI.

Last week, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (right) defended his action on issuing a letter to the FBI.

In the letter, Zahid explained that the there was no 14K triad in Malaysia and alleged 'kingpin' Paul Phua is not a member of the triad in Malaysia.

Zahid has also declared that it is within his discretion and power to issue such a letter, adding that his predecessors had issued similar letters.

Syed Hamid, who also the former Kota Tinggi MP, was appointed to become the home minister after the 12th general election in 2008.

However, he was replaced by Hishammuddin in 2009 during the cabinet reshuffle.

This was after the notorious ISA detention on Malaysia Today webmaster Raja Petra Kamaruddin, DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and a Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng in late 2008.

Syed Hamid said that he did not write any letter to any agencies when he was the home minister.

“During my time, when I was heading (the ministry), there was no such case and I had never written to agency.

“If it is agency to agency, I am not interested to know as I am a policy guy. So I would leave it to the relevant agency to tackle,” he said.

Nevertheless, he defended Zahid’s action as this is the discretionary power given to the home minister to issue such letter.

MIC chief roasts deputy as a 'rumour monger'

 
The rift in MIC is widening, with president G Palanivel breaking his silence to swipe back at his deputy Dr S Subramaniam for making allegations to the media on his inaction on the directive from the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

ROS in a series of letters to MIC has asked it to re-elect its vice presidents and central working committee (CWC) members.

"Office-bearers of MIC, including the deputy president, one of the vice-presidents and others are spreading numerous allegations and misinformation to the media in respect of the issues of the elections raised by the ROS.

"The only thing that I have not done is to discuss the party's internal matters in the media as being done by the others, including the deputy president and one of the vice-presidents," Palanivel said in a statement today.

He said he was aware of meetings organised by Subramaniam and others in relation to the ROS issue and that these meetings were not sanctioned by him.

The Cameron Highlands MP added that he has done what was required of a president to keep the party afloat despite there being claims that he has remained silent on the issue.

"I, as the president of MIC, took immediate steps to protect the interests and rights of MIC, contrary to the allegations levelled against me that I have done nothing.

"I would like to make it clear that there are certain procedures and proper channels provided for in the Societies Act 1966 in dealing with complaints and decisions made by the Registrar of Societies.

"We, together with the lawyers, are following proper procedures and have taken all measures necessary to protect the interest of MIC in this matter," Palanivel said.

He also said the party has lodged an appeal with the Home Ministry as the letters that were sent to MIC by ROS were defective and incorrect.

"Our lawyers have perused the letter dated Dec 31, 2014, in detail, including all the matters raised by ROS, and have advised me that the purported notice issued by ROS is flawed and wrong in law.

"Upon the legal advice from the lawyers, MIC has on Jan 14 lodged an appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs, pursuant to the provisions of the Societies Act 1966, against the contents of the letters dated Dec 5, 2014 and Dec 31, 2014 from ROS to MIC," he added.

On Monday, Subramaniam flayed Palanivel for not responding to his requests to meet up with the president to discuss the ROS issue and reiterated that the window for discussions between him and Palanivel has been "closed".

Meanwhile, MIC vice-president S Saravanan slammed Palanivel for keeping mum on the ROS issue and instead opening fire at members who spoke up.

“The reason we went to the media and talked is because Palanivel has been keeping silent on the issue for way too long,” Saravanan said at a press conference today.

He also added that the president should be transparent and make collective decisions with the rest of the committee as “MIC is not his family matter”.

Saravanan also warned the media that carried M Kumar Aaman’s allegations over him yesterday without clarifying with him, might be sued.

Malaysia still a flawed democracy, says EIU

Today online

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s pace of democratisation has improved only marginally over the years and it remained a “flawed democracy” last year, the same category it occupied in 2008, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest findings showed.

The country placed 65th out of 167 nations and federal territories reviewed in the EIU’s Democracy Index 2014, putting it 10 spots ahead of Singapore, but far behind other South-east Asian peers such as Indonesia, which is 49th, and the Philippines in the 53rd spot.

Last year, Malaysia was categorised as a flawed democracy from its aggregate grade of 6.49 out of 10, according to scores tabulated from expert assessments and public surveys.

Flawed democracies are countries that respect basic civil liberties and generally hold free and fair elections, though they may be marred by problems such as infringements on media freedom, said the EIU.

Apart from possible irregularities in elections, a flawed democracy also suffers from other significant weaknesses such as problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation, the EIU said.

Civil society movements in Malaysia have previously alleged that clandestine gerrymandering, the abuse of government machinery, strict media controls and vote-rigging in elections have allowed the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to stay in power for more than five decades.

Despite the allegations, BN lost five states to the opposition as well as its customary parliamentary supermajority in a 2008 general election that was later described as a “political tsunami”. Allegations of unfair polls arose more strongly after the following general election in 2013, when BN lost the popular vote but remained firmly in power and whittled down the number of opposition-held states to only three.

The EIU findings put Singapore in 75th place last year, under the flawed democracy category, with a score of 6.03. That was an improvement from its “hybrid regime” ranking in 2008, when it came in 82nd place with a score of 5.89.

In its report, the EIU highlighted the notable trend of a growing level of engagement in politics in Asia, including more prominent protests in countries “ranging from supposedly apathetic Singapore through to more active democracies, such as India and Taiwan”. “In Singapore, this shift has been enough to lift the country from the status of hybrid regime to flawed democracy,” the report added.

In response, a Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “This index is based on a rigid, ideological position that ignores the fact that democratic governments around the world take different forms, depending on their particular history and national conditions. Singapore is a fully democratic state that pragmatically pursues policies to maximise the social and economic outcomes for our citizens.”

The index considers hybrid regimes as countries with substantial election irregularities that often prevent them from being free and fair. They also tend to see government pressure on opposition parties and candidates and “serious weaknesses” in political culture and civil society, among other factors.

The EIU said the index, a snapshot on the state of democracy worldwide, was based on ratings for 60 indicators grouped into five categories: Electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.

Based on scores within the five categories, rankings are then assigned according to four types of regimes: Full democracies (8 to 10), flawed democracies (6 to 7.9), hybrid regimes (4 to 5.9), and authoritarian regimes (below 4).

Malaysia and Singapore share their category with 51 other countries. Twenty-four nations were categorised as full democracies, 39 as hybrid regimes and 52 as authoritarian regimes. Agencies

New IS penal code spells out gory punishments for crimes

One researcher says the punishments are derived from a literal interpretation of Islamic scriptures devoid of historical context.

FMT

KUALA LUMPUR: ISIS recently published a penal code listing crimes punishable under the Islamic hudud law to be strictly enforced in areas under its rule in Iraq and Syria.

According to UK’s The Independent, the document was released after the unprecedented series of violent “retaliatory” executions within 48 hours of each other, which saw an adulteress stoned to death, 17 men crucified and two men thrown off a building on suspicion of homosexuality.

The document, now circulating on the Internet, emphasises the importance of obeying strict Shariah laws and details a list of “crimes” and its attendant punishments.

“Spying for the unbelievers”, homosexuality, murder as well as blasphemy against Allah, Prophet Mohamed and Islam were punishable by death while adultery would end in stoning till death, lashes and exile. Theft would result in amputation while those drinking alcohol and committing slander would be lashed.

According to Charlie Winter, a researcher for counter-extremism agency Quilliam, the document appeared to be authentic. He told The Independent, it was released by the Aleppo branch of IS on December 16, 2014.

In Winter’s words, “the ‘hudud’ punishments were derived from a literalistic interpretation of the Islamic scriptures without taking the historical context into account.”

As it stands literal interpretations are not just confined to its penal code but are used rampantly to justify the most evil of acts.

For example, according to the Malaysian Insider, IS has online pamphlets containing Quranic verses used to justify the taking of slaves or underaged girls for sex. These pamphlets use a question and answer format that has proven highly effective.

For example, “Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?”, in which the answer states it is and cites: “Allah the almighty said: ‘(Successful are the believers) who guard their chastity, except from their wives (or the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame (Quran 23:5-6)’…”

Other forms of manipulation of Quranic verses justify sex, money, material gain and influence, a local senior police intelligence official said, thereby making IS’ cause something Muslims in Malaysia could relate to easily.

Special Branch director Datuk Seri Akhil Bulat told the Malaysian Insider, “The reason why these sects appeal to Malays is because they allow what Islam forbids, which appeals to those who are confused and pressured by their daily lives.”

These include the freedom from praying five times a day and fasting during Ramadhan.

“They are told that they can interpret the Quran as they see fit, instead of according to the interpretations of Islamic scholars or religious authorities.”

AG: Expect more cases on terrorism, extremism

Legal professionals must be prepared as such threats are the most difficult kind to address.


FMT

KOTA KINABALU: Judges and lawyers can anticipate another challenging year ahead, especially in the wake of extremism threats in the country, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said today.

He said legal professionals had to be prepared for cases on terrorism and extremism which could be brought to court.

“These threats are particularly insidious and the most difficult kind to address.

“But such threats require firm and resolute, yet level-headed, calm and humane responses,” he said when opening the legal year for Sabah and Sarawak here.

Abdul Gani gave the assurance that the Attorney-General’s Chambers was committed to ensuring the highest quality of legal advice and timely prosecution in the ongoing security cases in the country.

He said this included the ongoing hearing of 30 people accused of intrusion in Lahad Datu as well as the enforcement of the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 extended to Sabah and Sarawak on April 2 last year.

“For this purpose, deputy public prosecutors have been placed in the major districts such as Lahad Datu, Sandakan and Tawau to fortify public confidence that offenders will be brought to justice expediently,” he said.

According to Abdul Gani, further action was also anticipated in relation to the enforcement of Malaysia’s immigration laws with the release of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report on illegal immigrants in Sabah last month.

On calls for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia, he emphasised that aside from being seditious, such an act went against the spirit of federalisation.

“The social contract with Sabah is based on safeguard conditions contained in the 20-Point Agreement, while that with Sarawak is based on the 18-Point Agreement. Both were considered by the Inter-Governmental Commission set up on the recommendation of the Cobbold Commission in 1962.

“These are historical facts. They are recorded for posterity in the relevant reports of these commissions. They should be read, appreciated and properly understood by every succeeding generation of Malaysians,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Gani said there was a need for proper appointments of Native Court judges on issues pertaining to Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.

In concurring with Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum’s proposal during the Sabah Native Customary Rights Symposium in September 2013, the Attorney-General said those judges must be appointed among impartial and legally qualified persons with a full grasp of the native laws to enable Native Courts to be on par with the Civil and Syariah Courts.

– BERNAMA

Four held in home-made bomb case

The police find items used in making home-made bombs and drugs at the shophouse.

FMT

GEORGE TOWN: The police have arrested four men in connection with the discovery of a paper bag containing four home-made bombs at a house in Jalan Badak Mati, Sungai Bakap, near here last Saturday.

Penang CID chief Mazlan Kesah said the four men, aged between 24 and 43, were arrested at a shophouse in Jalan Seri Aman, Sungai Bakap, at 2.45pm on Tuesday.

“Based on closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage obtained from a nearby shop, the fingerprints on the package and statements by several parties, the police tracked the four men to the shophouse.

“Following their arrest, the police found items believed to be used in producing home-made bombs as well as various kinds of drugs at the shophouse.

The police do not rule out the possibility that they may also be members of a drug syndicate,” he told reporters here today.

Last Saturday, a resident found a paper bag containing four home-made bombs at a house near a store. Three of the bombs were detonated by the Bomb Disposal Unit while one was taken to the Penang Police headquarters for investigation.

Mazlan said the police believed that with the arrest of the four men, who did not hold permanent jobs and had past criminal records, they could solve the case.

– BERNAMA

Policewoman freed of bribery charge

Court finds contradictory statements in the witnesses' testimonies on the amount of bribe alleged to have been put in the accused's handbag.

FMT

KUALA LUMPUR: A policewoman was acquitted and discharged by the Sessions Court here today of a charge of accepting a RM4,000 bribe for the release of a Cameroonian man arrested for robbery two years ago.

Judge Mohd Nasir Nordin made the decision after finding that the defence managed to raise a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case against Insp Suriati Mohd Shafie, 34.

In his judgment, Mohd Nasir said the court found contradictory statements in the witnesses’ testimonies concerning the amount of bribe alleged to have been put in the accused’s handbag.

Suriati was seen to be shedding tears upon hearing the court’s decision.

She was accused of accepting a bribe of RM4,000 from Nurullizean Yahya as an inducement to release her husband, Tchouanseu Tchounga Armand, who was a suspect in a robbery case.

She was alleged to have committed the offence at Leval 3, Criminal Investigation Division at the Brickfields Police Headquarters between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on January 22, 2013.

The offence under Section 17(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and fine of up to RM10,000, if convicted.

Prosecuting officer R. Lakshumana Rao prosecuted, while Suriati was represented by lawyer G. Subramaniam Nair.

– BERNAMA

Najib’s Political Battles Impede Foreign Policy Agenda

Cannons to the left of him, cannons to the right of him…

By Murray Hiebert and Nigel Cory- Asia Sentinel

Challenges at home suggest Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak could face an uphill battle in pursuing his foreign policy goals in the year ahead. The long-simmering battle between Najib and former Premier Mahathir Mohamad has erupted into a public spat that must have Najib looking over his shoulder given Mahathir’s role in ousting his predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

As a result Najib finds himself flanked on the right by Perkasa, the equivalent of the Tea Party within his ruling United Malays National Organization and on the left by the opposition coalition led by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. No move Najib makes will please all Malaysians, and perhaps not even many, in this constrained environment.

The public mudslinging between Najib and Mahathir could weaken and distract the prime minister even as 2015 presents opportunities for Malaysia to make its mark on the international stage. Malaysia’s ruling party generally hides internal conflict from public view. But the escalation in political maneuvering between two of the party’s key leaders has changed this dynamic.

Old corruption charges have been rehashed against Daim Zainuddin, an outspoken critic of Najib. Daim is an UMNO insider, financial power broker, and two-time finance minister under Mahathir. He is seen as a proxy for the former prime minister and, to real insiders, may even be the one pulling the strings on his former boss. The government-controlled media took the unusual step of covering the case against Daim in detail, which some interpreted as a coordinated political attack and which prompted proxies on both sides to take the fight to the Internet.

The split between Najib and Mahathir burst into the open when the latter, now 89, publicly withdrew his support for Najib in an August 2014 blog. Mahathir blamed Najib for the ruling coalition’s poor showing in the 2013 national elections, attacked him for his efforts in 2011 to abolish the draconian Internal Security Act, and criticized his earlier plans to scale back the affirmative action program that provides special privileges for the country’s Malay majority. On all these issues, Mahathir has strong support from UMNO’s most conservative wing.

The bitter dispute between the two men and their respective camps appears to have picked up in earnest after a dinner between them in December did not go well. A thorny issue reportedly discussed at the meeting was the sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., which has been plagued by charges of mismanagement and corruption and is reportedly suffering from billions of ringgit in nonperforming loans. Najib is chair of the fund’s advisory board.

Mahathir retains significant public and political influence in Malaysia as an elder statesman, particularly among conservative Malays. His profile stems from enduring public popularity, especially among older members of society who are nostalgic about his 22 years in power. Mahathir’s political influence within UMNO has loomed large over his successors since he stepped down in 2003. He leveraged this influence to undermine and ultimately remove his anointed successor, Abdullah, in 2009. Then-deputy Prime Minister Najib stepped up to become prime minister. He most certainly sees the possibility of history repeating itself.

And Malaysia’s economy is not going to provide any respite for Najib. The sharp drop in oil prices has created some stiff headwinds. Oil and gas exports account for a fifth of the country’s exports and a third of government revenue. It was therefore little surprise that Najib on January 20 announced US$1.5 billion in spending cuts and said Malaysia’s economic growth has been revised down from 6 percent to between 4.5 and 5.5 percent for 2015.

Under withering attacks from Mahathir and party conservatives, Najib has backed off many of his earlier political and economic reform plans. In recent months, his government has been criticized by the United States and human rights organizations for repeatedly using the colonial-era Sedition Act against critics. Anwar Ibrahim is awaiting a court verdict on another round of sodomy charges that could once again see him sent to prison. The verdict, expected in the next few weeks, would undoubtedly lead to further criticism from the international community.

Najib’s domestic challenges could pose risks for his foreign policy goals in 2015. This year is shaping up as an important one for Malaysia given its chairmanship of ASEAN and its non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. As ASEAN chair, Malaysia can be expected to play a key role in pressing the grouping to take steps to complete regional economic integration, keep tensions in the disputed South China Sea under control, and explore ways to bolster the role of the East Asia Summit.

Negotiators of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Malaysia joined in 2010, are scrambling to complete the trade agreement by March. But for Malaysia to get to the finish line will require some tough decisions by Najib and his cabinet in such areas as state-owned enterprises, pharmaceuticals, and investor dispute mechanisms. Even before his latest broadsides against Najib, Mahathir, who oversaw Malaysia’s earlier transformation into an industrial powerhouse, had sharply criticized the TPP as an attempt by foreign powers to colonize Malaysia. Anwar and the opposition have also sought to foil Najib’s reform efforts.

The coming months could provide an opportunity for Malaysia and the US to put more substance into the comprehensive partnership they announced last April when President Barack Obama visited Malaysia. But the visit marked only the beginning of the process, which requires more work by both sides to achieve deeper ties, including such things as stepped up cabinet-level exchanges, more military cooperation and intelligence sharing, and closer economic ties.

Najib’s golf outing with Obama in early January showed the depth of personal comradery between the two leaders, which could help them achieve greater depth to the comprehensive partnership before Obama visits again in November. However, the sharp criticism Najib received for golfing in Hawaii while parts of Malaysia faced terrible flooding highlights some of the challenges he could face in the months ahead as he seeks to deepen the country’s regional and global foreign policy opportunities.

The US will need to make some tough decisions in the coming months about how to engage Najib and Malaysia. The country is a vital partner and a key to strengthening ASEAN. The White House will face pressure from various advocacy groups to limit or curtail engagement and there will be congressional pressure during the TPP approval process. The administration will have to step carefully but be guided by the strategic need to support political and economic reform in Malaysia. For his part, Najib will need to harden his resolve to pursue that reform.

Will Najib be Mahathir’s sixth scalp or is Malaysia hauling the first “tiger” or “crocodile” to court and prison in the country’s anti-corruption campaign?

By Lim Kit Siang blog

The country’s politics is abuzz with extraordinary news recently, raising the question whether the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia will be the sixth scalp of the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia or whether the country is hauling the first “tiger” or “crocodile” to court and prison in Malaysia’s anti-corruption campaign.

In the past 45 years, the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had collected five scalps of top political leaders in the country, starting with Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, two Deputy Prime Ministers who might have gone on to become Prime Ministers, Tun Musa Hitam and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and the eternal Prime Minister-aspirant Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

The question now is whether Mahathir will add the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to his collection of six top political scalps in Malaysia.

But Najib is evidently not taking the possibility of his “political scalping” by Mahathir lying down, and the question has arisen whether the first “tiger” or “crocodile” will be hauled to court and prison in the history of Malaysia’s lack-lustre anti-corruption campaign.

Recently, the Najib administration and its publicity machinery trumpetted Malaysia’s anti-corruption “achievements”, even falsely claiming that Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Indeex (CPI) 2014 is “the country’s best in 10 years”.

This is of course untrue.

The TI CPI 2014 is the country’s best in six years under Najib’s premiership, but the worst compared to Tun Abdullah’s premiership with TI CPI from 2004 to 2008 ranging from 39th to 47th ranking and even worse in the nine years of Mahathir’s premiership from 1995 – 2003, ranking from 23rd placing in 1995 to No. 37th placing in 2003.

Studying the TI CPI 2014 ranking and score for the 175 countries and the 20-year series of TI CPI from 1995-2014, there is no reason or ground for anyone to believe that the target of Malaysia being ranked in the top 30 of TI CPI in 2020 is a realistic or achievable one.

In fact, come 2020, Malaysia faces the risk of being overtaken by China and even Indonesia in both in TI CPI ranking and score, when in the first TI CPI in 1995, Malaysia was ranked No. 23 out of 41 countries with a score of 5.28 out of 10, while China and Indonesia were ranked as the last two bottom countries with CPI score of 2.16 and 1.94 out of 10 respectively (i.e. hovering in the lowest 90 percentile of the CPI score).

However, in the last 20 years, Malaysia achieved the dubious distinction as one of the few countries which had been downgraded both in TI CPI ranking and score, and losing out to countries which had lower CPI ranking and score in 1995 as well as now at risk of being overtaken by countries including China and Indonesia which had been at the bottom of TI CPI in 1995.

In Indonesia, the new President Joko Widodo is personally leading the campaign against corruption while in China, though it had dropped four points in the TI CPI score last year, its corruption campaign against “tigers and flies” have seen a tremendous improvement in China’s TI CPI score in the past two decades.

Corruption arrests and prosecutions against tigers and crocodiles, whether ministerial rank or equivalents, are now a common scene in the anti-corruption campaigns in Indonesia and China, but there had not been a single “tiger” or “crocodile” hauled to court and successfully prosecuted for corruption in Malaysia in over three decades.

All Malaysians should be concerned that from these trends, Malaysia runs the risk of being overtaken by both Indonesia and China before 2020 in the annual TI CPI both in ranking and score unless Malaysia quickly buck up and show its seriousness on the anti-corruption front.

Suddenly, there seems to be a possibility that Malaysia’s anti-corruption campaign may enter a new era.

Is the country’s anti-corruption campaign on the eve of a new scenario, with “tigers” or “crocodiles” hauled to court and prison in Malaysia, like in China and Indonesia?

Crime Prevention is everyone's business

ImageThe Sun Daily 
by Yeo Chia Hui

KUALA LUMPUR: Crime prevention is everyone's business, says Richard Wee Thiam Seng, co-chairperson of Safer Malaysia.

In a conference organised by Safer Malaysia, and Universiti Pertanahan Negara Malaysia (UPNM), Richard believes that the whole community should work together to make Malaysia a safer place.

"Every time there is crime, the cost is immense. Crime really hurts the economy and the money we spend to repair crime (and its consequences) can be used for other things," he said.

Therefore, he urged the public to all play their part.

This however is not easy, as a gap between actual crime and the fear of crime has emerged.

Pemandu's director for crime reduction Datuk Dr Amin Khan said that in reality the crime index has came down 40% in the last five years, but the problem is that the people do not see or feel it.

"And so, we will introduce a Crime Perception Indicator (CPI) to measure the rakyat's fear of crime," he said.

According to Amin, the crime rate has dropped from about 580 crimes a day in 2009 to 350 in 2014.

Najib To Arrive London Saturday For Three-day Working Visit

From Jamaluddin Muhammad

LONDON, Jan 23 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will visit the iconic eight billion pounds Malaysian-owned Battersea Power Station (BPS) project here and officiate the Razak Science Centre at Malvern College in Worcestershire during his three-day working visit starting Saturday.

Malaysian High Commissioner to United Kingdom Datuk Ahmad Rashidi Hazizi said the prime minister was scheduled to arrive here at about 3 am Saturday (11 am Saturday in Malaysia).

Najib will arrive from Riyadh after attending the funeral of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia who passed away on Friday.

During Najib's visit to BPS project on Saturday, he would monitor the progress of the project at the 39-acre site especially on plans to develop the Malaysia Square, said Ahmad Rashidi.

The design for the square centres on a two-level urban canyon with integrated bridges and stairways that are inspired by Malaysia's landscape and geology where the spaces will be clad with limestone, granite, marble, sandstone, gravel and dolomite striations that will lead people through the square.

A fountain planned for the central amphitheatre is set to be designed in the shape of hibiscus - Malaysia's national flower.

Apart from offering a space for play, surrounded by water, each of the five 'petals' represents one principle each from the Rukunegara, Malaysia's founding philosophy which forms the bedrock of national unity in its multicultural society.

Malaysia Square at the BPS will link southern entrance of the restored Power Station and the top of the new Electric Boulevard high street.

The Malaysian consortium for the entire BPS's development comprises SP Setia Bhd, Sime Darby Bhd and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) with SP Setia and Sime Darby each holding 40 per cent stake while EPF holds the rest.

The consortium bought the property of the former coal-fired power station in 2012 for 400 million pounds (RM2.2 billion) .

The eight billion pounds (RM44 billion) project, Malaysia's biggest property venture oversea, spans seven phases until 2024 and will consist of nearly 4,000 homes, over 250 shops, cafes and restaurants, hotels and office space.

The first phase, costing 790 million pounds (RM4.3 billion), was launched in 2012 comprising more than 800 residential units and due for completion by middle of next year.

The second phase will commence March this year including restoration of the power station, residential units and commercial office spaces.

The third phase comprises 1,200 residential units designed by two world's renowned architects, retail space and restaurants and was launched late last year.

BPS has secured funding arrangement, totaling 1.35 billion pounds (RM7.4 billion), for both Phase 2 and Phase 3 projects.

Ahmad Rashidi said the BPS was very significant as it involved Malaysian companies as well as symbolizing the good relationship between the two governments as Malaysia had won the bid for the project as well as support from the British government in building the northern subway line to facilitate the project.

On Monday, Najib will walk down memory lane when he visits his former college - Malvern College at Worcestershire - to officiate the Razak Science Centre there.

The centre consists of 18 state-of-the-art laboratories, including a showcase laboratory and extra prep rooms.

"The centre is funded by a Malaysian who just wanted to be known as 'seorang hamba Allah'," said Ahmad Rashidi adding that the person also refused to disclose the amount of the fund.

Najib attended the college from 1968 until 1971. Datuk Johari, Najib's younger brother also attended the college in the late 60s and early 70s.

The college is a co-educational boarding and day school founded in 1865, one of the UK's leading independent schools.

"The college was so proud of the prime minister who was their former student and had given the honour for him to officiate the centre which was named after him (in British culture, Najib is known as Mr Razak then)," said Ahmad Rashidi.

Friday, January 23, 2015

MIC 'sec-gen' on hunger strike inspired by Gandhi

U.S. officials say 6,000 ISIS fighters killed in battles

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

Washington (CNN)The coalition fighting ISIS has killed more than 6,000 fighters, including half of the top command of the terror group, U.S. diplomatic officials said Thursday.

The number of fighters killed has not been publicly discussed before but was disclosed by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones, who told Al Arabiya television earlier in the day that an estimated 6,000 fighters have been killed. Jones said the military effort was having a "devastating" impact on ISIS.

The estimate was calculated by U.S. Central Command and finds ISIS fighters have been killed in Iraq and Syria by coalition airstrikes, according to a U.S. military official. CENTCOM has kept a running estimate of fighters killed, but has not made it public.

U.S. intelligence estimates that ISIS has a total force of somewhere between 9,000 to 18,000 fighters. However, it is also believed the group can draw on thousands of other fighters whose loyalty shifts and could muster a force upwards of 31,000 total.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, would not confirm the 6,000 deaths estimate, instead saying "thousands" have been killed.

On whether the body count is a sign of progress, Hagel said, "It's a measure but I don't think it's the measure."

"I was in a war where we did body counts and we lost that one," Hagel said, referring to his service in Vietnam.

Until now, the Pentagon has stayed away discussing the matter, other than to estimate that thousands of fighters may have been killed. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Rear Admiral John Kirby was adamant that the US is not keeping a "body count," and said it would be wrong to state that there is such a count. He called it a 'tally" and said the notion of a body count suggests Vietnam War era statistics. In that war the Pentagon offered body counts as a measure of its success against the Viet Cong. Kirby said the tally was not aimed at showing any metric of success against ISIS.

All of this comes after Iraq has criticized the U.S. for not doing enough to help their fight against ISIS. The U.S. has long said airstrikes are aimed at degrading ISIS as a threat, but would not by themselves get rid of the organization.

Secretary of State Kerry, speaking to reporters in London, echoed the U.S. ambassador in saying the strikes have "halted" ISIS momentum, and reclaimed "more than 700 square kilometers" from ISIS in Iraq.

In Iraq, airstrikes around Mosul have been stepped up significantly in support of Peshmerga fighters on the advance in the region. The effort now is to cut a key ISIS supply line into Mosul, a US military official said.

The official stressed the US cannot confirm the exact number but has based its calculation based on pilot reports, and other intelligence gathered about a target before and after a strike.

CNN's Jim Sciutto contributed to this report

Australian jihadists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar accused of enslaving Yazidi women in Islamic State stronghold

LtoR Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar By Middle East correspondent Matt Brown and Suzanne Dredge

Notorious Australian jihadists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar have been accused of enslaving women from the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq.

The ABC interviewed four of the women who identified Sharrouf and Elomar as their captors.

Both men have been posting messages on social media chronicling extremist behaviour while they fight for the Islamic State (IS) militia.

However, this is the first witness testimony placing them in the Islamic State's de facto capital Raqqa.

Being in Raqqa is a crime under Australian law.

Video Link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-22/australian-islamic-state-fighters-accused-of/6036660

The women said the Australians held them captive after they were kidnapped in Iraq and taken deep into Syrian territory last year.

The women have now taken refuge in northern Iraq, living in refugee tents, cabins and concrete homes amidst a freezing winter.

To reach the women, the ABC travelled west from the Kurdish city of Erbil to within 35 kilometres of the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, then north to the rugged mountains where Iraq, Syria and Turkey meet.

Because the women are still terrified of the Australians they have asked to have their names changed for publication.


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Australian jihadists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar accused of enslaving Yazidi women in Islamic State stronghold
Exclusive by Middle East correspondent Matt Brown and Suzanne Dredge

Updated about an hour agoThu 22 Jan 2015, 10:57pm

Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
Video: Australian jihadists accused of enslaving Yazidi women (7.30)
Photo: Nazdar told the ABC she was held captive by Mohamed Elomar (ABC News)
Related Story: Australian Muslim groups condemn use of slaves
Related Story: Australians fighting with Islamic State implicated in sexual slavery
Map: Syrian Arab Republic

Notorious Australian jihadists Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar have been accused of enslaving women from the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq.

The ABC interviewed four of the women who identified Sharrouf and Elomar as their captors.

Both men have been posting messages on social media chronicling extremist behaviour while they fight for the Islamic State (IS) militia.

Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
Audio: Women describe enslavement by Australian jihadists in Iraq (PM)

However, this is the first witness testimony placing them in the Islamic State's de facto capital Raqqa.

Being in Raqqa is a crime under Australian law.

The women said the Australians held them captive after they were kidnapped in Iraq and taken deep into Syrian territory last year.

The women have now taken refuge in northern Iraq, living in refugee tents, cabins and concrete homes amidst a freezing winter.

To reach the women, the ABC travelled west from the Kurdish city of Erbil to within 35 kilometres of the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, then north to the rugged mountains where Iraq, Syria and Turkey meet.

Because the women are still terrified of the Australians they have asked to have their names changed for publication.
LtoR Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar Photo: LtoR Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, date of photos unknown. (ABC News/Facebook)

As the rain beat down on her thin refugee tent, Ghazala peered intently at a series of mugshots of Australian Islamic State fighters.

She was looking for the man she knew as Abu Zarqawi, a man who had kept her and six other Yazidi women captive in Syria for two months.

The moment she saw Sharrouf her finger shot out to point at his face.

"We were so afraid they would force us to marry them," she said.

"And when they were going to battle they'd take knives and other tools to cut off the heads of those they fight."

Three other Yazidi women identified Sharrouf from his mug shot.

During their time in captivity they had learned his age, the fact that he had served time in prison, and that he suffered a mental illness.
Children absorbing the horror that surrounds them

Sharrouf is notorious for his online posts, including images of his son holding a severed head and a submachine gun.

As well as cooking and cleaning for his family, the Yazidi women looked after his five children.

And they warned the barbarity the children had witnessed was being absorbed.

"His children were treating us badly," Ghazala said.

"They had knives and cell phones saying that they will take videos while cutting off our heads because we follow a different religion."

The ABC obtained additional images that also gave a disturbing glimpse into the lives of Sharrouf's family.

In one photo Sharrouf was pictured at a shooting range along with a young woman who is possibly his eldest daughter.

Sharrouf's three boys can be seen laughing together in military fatigues.

In one picture, the eldest boy sits on the floor with his hand on an assault rifle, while another rifle is propped next to him on the wall.

In another, the youngest holds a submachine gun.

Sharrouf caused outrage when he posted a similar image online last year. But the ABC has obtained several more, showing the child posing and aiming the gun at the camera.

Sharrouf told women: 'We have killed your gods'

When Islamic State fighters swept across northern Iraq last year they targeted the Yazidis because they believe the Yazidis are infidels who must convert or die.

The four women interviewed by the ABC were captured along with thousands of others.

Many of their men were killed or taken hostage. Then the women were taken to Raqqa and traded as slaves.

One of the women, Layla, said Sharrouf demanded they convert to Islam.

"He tried to ban us from crying and showing our sadness," she said.

"He threatened to sell us if we did. He said, 'Why are you sad? Forget about your home and family. This is your home and we are your family now. Forget about your gods, for good, because we have killed them all'."

Two of the women identified Elomar as their captor. While he had used the pseudonym Abu Hafs, the women learned his real first and second name and the fact that his wife had been arrested before she could leave Australia to join him.

They said he lived on the first floor of the two-storey building occupied by Sharrouf and his family.

And they accused Elomar of taking one of their friends away and either raping her or threatening to rape her.

"One of my friends was with us all the day but he was taking her by force at night," Layla said.

Another woman, Nazdar, said of her friend: "She told me, 'he said that I must marry him or else he is going to sell me'. And every day he was bringing people to his home offering to sell them my friend."

The allegation could not be tested. The issue is clouded in secrecy, fear and shame.

The forced marriage and rape of Yazidi women has been widely reported. But, while the four women said they believed it happened to two friends, none said it had happened to them.

All four gave consistent, first-hand accounts of servitude and demands they renounce their culture and religion. And the threat of being forced to marry or sold to other jihadists was made often.

As well as being brutal jihadists, Sharrouf and Elomar now stand accused of being involved in an organised attempt to wipe out a people.

Palanivel’s man launches hunger strike ‘till last breath’ to protest RoS decision

Datuk G. Kumar Aaman has begun a hunger strike to protest the Registrar of Societies' (RoS) decision on his appointment as MIC secretary-general, reminiscent of the party's politics decades ago when a coffin was brought in and chairs thrown during meetings.

Kumar Aaman (pic, right) is camped outside the RoS office in Putrajaya where he said today he would strike "until his last breath" after the registrar refused to recognise his appointment by MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel as party secretary-general earlier this month.

“I am doing this for the Indian community. I will die for the community,” Kumar Aaman told reporters in the latest drama in MIC's infighting since its party elections in 2013 came under RoS scrutiny.

Kumar Aaman’s action today was reminiscent of a similar move by then vice-president Tan Sri M.G. Pandithan who in 1988 embarked on a "death fast" at the MIC headquarters' car park and, in a dramatic touch, brought along a coffin.

He embarked on the fast to prove his innocence and to get charges of inciting violence and unrest within the party dropped.

He stopped his fast after 28 hours, following an assurance by then deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam that he would be given a fair hearing.

However, the party’s disciplinary committee eventually sacked Pandithan from MIC in 1989.

MIC gatherings in the past have also earned a reputation for violent scuffles which sometimes culminated in chair-throwing and fist fights.

Though such scenes have yet to be played out in the current party crisis, there have been some tense exchanges between members over the last month.

Rival factions in the party are now battling to maintain their grip on the ethnic Indian party, which is a member of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Kumar Aaman said he would continue his fast until the home minister removed the RoS director-general Mohammad Razin Abdullah and several officers who were in charge of investigating the party elections.

The RoS has ordered the party to conduct fresh polls.

He announced his fast today, flanked by the party’s working committee member K.P. Samy, information chief L. Sivasubramaniam and his lawyer T. Rajasekaran.

The three men sat outside at a corner of the building so as not to be in the way of those going in and out of the RoS office.

He said he would continue with the hunger strike until Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi replied to a memorandum he had submitted earlier demanding that Mohammad Razin and the officers investigating the party be replaced.

This is not the first time Kumar Aaman’s actions have caused a stir.

Last week he he traded barbs with former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu over a decision barring unauthorised personnel from entering the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur without consent.

Samy said Kumar Aaman had shouted and verbally abused him.

“As a trustee of MIC and former president, I rang him up to ask him who gave him the authority to do this. For that, he shouted at me and hurled vulgar and abusive words at me, saying it was his right,” Samy Vellu said in his police report.

Kumar Aaman retaliated by lodging his own police report at the Dang Wangi police station, saying the former MIC chief had called him a “rascal” and threatened to "finish him off".

Kumar Aaman said he had told Samy Vellu that the security measures were to stop outsiders from entering the party headquarters which also houses the Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED) and Selangor MIC headquarters.

Fighting within MIC intensified after president G. Palanivel, in a move to consolidate his grip, replaced secretary-general Prakash Rao with loyalist Kumar Aaman, and dropped former loyalists Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar, Datuk R. Ramanan, as well as Datuk Sri S. Vell Paari, who is Samy Vellu's son.

It also brought about Kumar Aaman’s directive to ban unauthorised party members from entering the party headquarters, a move seen as directed at Palanivel’s critics who had held a series of media conferences at the party headquarters questioning his leadership.

MIC is in the throes of crisis after the RoS found irregularities in the party polls and ordered it to conduct fresh elections.

The RoS directive also sparked fears that failure to conduct fresh polls would result in the party's deregistration. – January 22, 2015.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/palanivels-man-launches-hunger-strike-till-last-breath-to-protest-ros-decis#sthash.PH36xJtS.dpuf

Gov't gets three months' stay on Navin MyKad issue

The High Court has granted a conditional stay of three months, from today, for the National Registration Department and Home Ministry to get a decision on their application to appeal the court order granting teenager M Navin a MyKad.

The stay was granted by Justice Hue Siew Kheng in Kuala Lumpur today, on an application filed by the National Registration Department (NRD) and the Home Ministry.

"It is up to the Attorney-General's Chambers to push for an earlier date at the Court of Appeal," Justice Hue said in chambers.

Navin's lawyer Annou Xavier (left) told reporters outside court that should the AG's Chambers fail to get an early hearing date within the three months, the NRD would have to issue the MyKad to Navin.

In ordering the MyKad to be issued to Navin on Nov 25, Justice Hue said the decision of the NRD and ministry not to do so is unjustified.

Navin, 16, is of mixed Malaysian and Filipino parentage.

The NRD and the Home Ministry filed their notice of appeal against Justice Hue's decision last month.

Birth certificate revoked

It was reported that Navin was issued a Malaysian birth certificate and also an international passport, but the authorities revoked the birth certificate on July 21, 2010, based on Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.

They cited special circumstances on grounds that his father did not register his marriage.

As a result of this, Navin filed the originating summons application in December 2013, in which he sought a declaration that he is a Malaysian citizen and for the NRD to issue him a MyKad.

In her order to the NRD to issue the MyKad, Justice Hue said the NRD's first letter dated July 25, 2011, was unjust and too harsh in deciding not to issue citizenship on grounds of Article 15A of the Federal Constitution, following the father's failure to register his marriage.

“This is truly an error in law, as Article 18 of the Federal Constitution makes no reference to parents on whether they are legally married or not. It is irrelevant,” she said.

She further cited Article 7.1 of the United Nations' Convention of Rights of the Child, which states the child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

Isma urges Catholics to accept apex court decision

Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) has urged the Roman Catholic Church to accept the Federal Court decision barring them from using the word `Allah' in their weekly publication the Herald.

Isma president Abdullah Zaik Rahman said with the ruling, the polemics regarding the ‘Allah’ issue should end.

“I hope the church will abide by the court's decision to ensure harmony in the country.

“Their recalcitrant behaviour (kedegilan) to proceed with the issue would not benefit anyone,” Abdullah Zaik (left) said in a statement quoted on IsmaWeb.

Yesterday, the apex court dismissed the Archbishop's review application over a decision by a seven-member bench who refused them the right to appeal.

This follows the panel headed by Federal Court judge Abdull Hamid Embong, unanimously ruled there was no procedural unfairness.

Abdullah Zaik further warned if the Roman Catholics do not accept the court's decision, it may prolong the animosity between Muslims and Christians.

“We will continue to be in crisis if we do not accept the decision by the country's judiciary institution,” he said.

Besides the Home Ministry and the government, which are respondents in the appeal, six Islamic councils – Selangor, Terengganu, Johor, Malacca, Kedah, Federal Territory, as well as the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association – stood as interveners to oppose the Archbishop's appeal.

'Court probing Razak’s role in Scorpene deal'

Suaram’s case filed in France against French naval company DCNS in 2011, on kickbacks allegedly paid out in Malaysia’s RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal, is still “alive” according to a former director of the NGO, Cynthia Gabriel.

As the case was filed during her tenure, she still maintains an interest in it.

Gabriel (right) said to the best of her knowledge, the NGO, which filed the case in Paris in 2011, had not abandoned the case.

She said the court was trying to confirm whether political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who escaped trial and conviction for the murder of Mongolian national, Altantuya Shaariibuu, had acted in a formal capacity for Malaysia’s Defence Ministry.

Gabriel said so far, Abdul Razak, believed to be living in the United Kingdom now, was featured as a “friend or close ally” of Najib Abdul Razak, who at that time was deputy prime minister.

Najib, who is now Malaysia’s prime minister, was also defence minister during the procurement of the submarines, for which the deals were inked in 2002.

“There is no certainty that Abdul Razak had acted as a public sector officer. Whether he acted in a formal capacity for the Defence Ministry or as a friend of Najib, is now being determined by the court.

“His role was as the main negotiator in the procurement process,” said Gabriel, one of the founders of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), an anti-graft watchdog.

She said Suaram had asked several legal bigwigs and professors of law to actually study the case, to determine if Najib’s aides, like Abdul Razak, can be subjected to the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) convention.

The OECD convention only applies to wrongdoing by public sector officials.

“The Malaysian government should answer and collaborate with the French courts in this matter but so far they have not,” Gabriel claimed.

Alleged kickbacks

Suaram had alleged that DCNS paid 114.9 million Euro (RM452 million) in kickbacks to Perimekar Sdn Bhd -  a company partially owned by Abdul Razak, in the sale of two Scorpene-class submarines to Malaysia.

Both the government and the “architect” of the deal, one Jasbir Singh Chahl, had defended the Scorpene contract award, saying it was made on a transparent basis to “the technically most qualified party on a commercially competitive negotiated price.”

In an interview with Bernama, Jasbir had explained that the contract between the Malaysian government and Perimekar Sdn Bhd was for “defined scope of works”, and provision of such services was within commercial norms.

Bernama had reported that Jasbir said Perimekar was nominated as the local vehicle to spearhead the submarine project, while Terasasi Sdn Bhd (TSB) was incorporated to serve as an external service provider to advise and assist Thales.

Jasbir had also claimed that Altantuya, who was murdered by two former bodyguards of Najib in 2006, was not involved when the deal was negotiated and finally signed in 2002.

However, during the initial court case into her murder, Abdul Razak had revealed that Altantuya (right) was his lover, and had come to Malaysia to “blackmail” him.

Her father, Setev Shaariibuu had always asserted that his daughter acted as a translator for Abdul Razak and was allegedly involved in business deals with him.

Last week, the Federal Court upheld the decision of the High Court, to sentence to death two former police special action unit (UTK) members, former chief inspector Azilah Hadri and corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, for Altantuya’s murder although the motive for killing her has never been established.

Meanwhile, Gabriel pointed out that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was reported as applying to use the Mutual Legal Assistance Act (MLA) to get help from the French authorities in its probe into the Malaysia’s purchase of the subs.

Gabriel also revealed that the court had interviewed three French personnel and is planning to indict two of them; one was the financial director of DCNS, a shipyard builder based in Paris.

“He was found to have abused his power and violated the OECD convention, which prohibits commissions and kickbacks to public officials,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel is aware that there have been questions over Suaram’s expenses for the case, dubbed Ops Scorpene, but pointed out the updated accounts for 2013 is on the NGO’s website.

The last fundraising exercise Suaram did was in July 2013, and the balance showed is RM30,598.88.

Home minister 'ambushed' by unhappy employer

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s visit today to the Immigration Department was marred with an ‘ambush’ by a disgruntled employer.

Based on a video recorded by KiniTV, the 40-year old man confronted Zahid and other immigration officers to raise his apprehension on the new online system for foreign worker registrations.

The man was heard raising his voice and telling the minister on the involvement of ‘middlemen’ and his concerns on the online system. However it was not clear what they were.

“If you want to catch me, go ahead. I am speaking frankly in front of the minister. (Middlemen) tell me that the immigration wants something; the other (party) also wants something

“Please throw away this bureaucracy. We want to get rid of corruption, stop everything,” the man who wore a chequered shirt, was heard saying.

Zahid however remained calm and collected while a crowd gathered and started recording videos and taking photos of the commotion.

He then told the immigration officers beside him to "listen for yourself" to the man’s queries.

One of the immigration officers then explained the new system was to eradicate corruption.

“That is the reason we have implemented the online law,” the officer said in the recording.

Zahid’s deputy minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaffar, on Jan 19 was quoted as saying by Bernama that the move was implemented to eliminate the “middlemen” culture and overcrowding at immigration booths by foreign workers.

Meanwhile, in the three minute long video, it was also seen that certain parties were trying to stop the public and cameramen from recording the incident.

Afterwards, Zahid was heard telling the media that the purpose of the visit was for him to see with his own eyes on the effectiveness of the new system.

He also admitted that there have been concerns raised by companies that have been operating via counters all this whileon  having to shift online.

Honesty in court dealings

Do we have such a weak judiciary system which cannot even uphold appointments? The Malaysian government needs to appoint serious people to become magistrates and judges.

Saravanan Forever

I am Saravanan, who is residing overseas. Last year, I filed a civil suit case in a local Malaysian court through my lawyer. 2 months back they called me for a hearing in a short period of time and I could not attend the case due to my health condition. I requested my lawyer to postpone the case so that I can attend the next case. And the magistrate was told that I was to come from overseas.

The hearing was fixed for the end of this month and my lawyer informed me 1.5 months in advance. The system in the West is not the same as in Malaysia. They are very strict and punctual in all dealings. I had to apply for a special permit to leave the country because I am under Social Security. Normally, a patient is not allowed to travel overseas. But I insisted to go because my lawyers are doing all the arrangements and I personally have to respect their efforts. This is simple understanding between human beings.

For Malaysians’ understanding, the Westerners are very particular about their appointments. For example, if they want to have dinner with someone they will make an appointment 1 or 2 weeks in advance and they will write it down in their diary. The same goes for any offices – they will write it down clearly and will not have 2 appointments at the same time. If they promise to meet us, it will definitely happen. There are 2 possibilities if they want to make changes in appointments. First, the person who is going to meet us will appoint his or her colleague otherwise they will change the date to the soonest date possible. So far, living in the West I have never seen hanky panky in legal matters. That is how they keep their country honest and punctual.

It goes the other way around in Malaysia. I was supposed to have a 2 days’ session in the court which will be the hearing too. One week earlier, I received an email from my lawyer saying “We regret to inform you that the trial for this matter which has been fixed on end of January 2015 has been adjourned by the Court to a later date. Therefore, you are not required to attend court on the above stated dates.
The reason given to us for the adjournment is that this matter will be transferred to another Court and will be heard before a new Magistrate”.

This was done after the magistrate understood that I am coming from overseas. The ticket has been bought and preparations for travel has been made. It concerns a person’s effort, money and time. Do we have such a weak judiciary system which cannot even uphold appointments? The Malaysian government needs to appoint serious people to become magistrates and judges.

The Bar Council and the Malaysian judicial body should be accountable for having bad appointments and promises. I am not living in Malaysia currently; who will be responsible for my effort and money wasted? According to my lawyer the magistrate is asking for a next date in March. Do you think it is easy to go back and come back the next month? This trip is already wasted, they are asking me to come again next month. Who is going to be responsible for my trip? There is no simple understanding in this matter.

I have been reading the latest news, for example even in some high profile cases they are changing the public prosecutor and judges according to the government’s will. It is really a shameful matter where there is no honesty in the judicial body which is supposed to hold the country’s pillar of truth. This letter is just my personal opinion, who have some guts to write about the truth. How about other people who have gone through such hassles? All my questions are to be answered by our truthful Malaysians.
I am also seeking the attention of Malaysian Bar Council.

Thank you

Court of Appeal: Islamic laws subject to Federal Constitution

Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Enactment 1992 ruled unconstitutional, null and void.

FMT


KUALA LUMPUR: The Court of Appeal, in a 46-page written judgment, has declared Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Syariah Criminal Enactment 1992, which bars men from cross-dressing as females in public as unconstitutional and void.

Judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus said the transgenders’ case had merits.

Islam, the religion of the Federation, as defined under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, is subject to the limitations of the fundamental liberties of a person, the Court held. “Article 4(1) of the Federal Constitution declares the constitution as the supreme law and any law running contrary to the constitution shall be considered void.”

Justice Hishamudin cited Che Omar bin Che Soh v Public Prosecutor, a judgment by former lord president Salleh Abbas.

The word Islam in Article 3(1) has a restrictive meaning based on Article 3(4), which states that nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of the constitution.

“As long as Section 66 is in force, the appellants (the four transgenders or mak nyah’) will continue to live in uncertainty, misery and indignity. They now come before this court in the hope that they may be able to live with dignity and be treated as equal citizens of this nation,” said Justice Hishamudin in the unanimous judgment.

“We therefore hold that Section 66 is inconsistent with Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution in that the section deprives the appellants of their right to live with dignity.”

Articles 5 to 13 stipulate the rights of citizens of Malaysia, which are listed as Part II of the Federal Constitution.

Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty, save in accordance with law.

The Court of Appeal ruled on November 7 last year that transgenders have a gender identity disorder. It then declared Section 66 of the Negeri Sembilan Syariah law, which subjects transgenders to frequent arrests, as null and void.

The Negeri Sembilan government has filed an Application for Leave to appeal the decision. It will be heard by the Federal Court on Tuesday.

Sirul’s son speaks up

Facebook postings indicate that the fugitive's family is with him in Australia.

FMT

PETALING JAYA: It appears that fugitive Sirul Azhar Umar’s family is with him in Australia.

This is indicated in Facebook postings by a user who calls himself Shuk Sz and claims to be Sirul’s 19-year-old son.

Sirul, along with fellow policeman Azilah Hadri, was sentenced to death last week for the 2006 murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu. He wasn’t in court for the sentencing, having left for Australia last October.

In one of his postings, Shuk Sz says Sirul was called to record a statement today, but does not say which authority has summoned him. He says if the statement is publicised, Malaysia’s reputation will suffer.

In an earlier posting, he says, “In all honesty, I am a son of Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar. To those who don’t know about his case, don’t just say what you like. Watch your mouth. If I talk to the press, Malaysia will fall. The PM will also fall.”

Replying to a user who insinuates that he is guilty of slander, Shuk Sz says, “I’m in Australia. I can say what I like. I can even curse the PM.”

Custodial deaths: NGOs demand answers

Suaram and Aliran are demanding police take proactive steps to stop the occurrence of further custodial deaths and to charge guilty officers.

FMT


GEORGE TOWN: Two civil rights groups here want the Penang CPO Senior Deputy Commissioner Abdul Rahim Hanafi to take proactive steps to stop the incidence of police custodial deaths, of which Penang had the highest in 2014.

Suaram and Aliran have claimed that of the 14 deaths in custody that took place across the country last year, nine occurred in Penang.

The NGOs said eight were deaths that occurred directly or indirectly in police lockups, while one occurred in Penang Prison.

In a joint statement, the NGOs said, “Each death is a travesty and tragedy for the persons concerned and their families.

“We have been highlighting the all too regular occurrence of custodial deaths for many years but little seems to have changed.

Yesterday Penang recorded its first custodial death of the year when a 63-year-old African under remand for a drug hearing died at the Penang Hospital due to heart complications.

The statement also said his was the second reported in the country this year, with the first being the death of a 31-year-old Indian man at the Ayer Molek police lockup in Johor.

“The police should be protecting the public; no one should be dying in police stations especially not in contentious circumstances, the statement read, adding, “Enough is enough. It is time to put a stop to this.”

Suaram and Aliran now want the Penang CPO to outline clearly the steps being taken to ensure no further custodial deaths in Penang and to investigate why last year’s deaths occurred.

The organisations also called on the CPO to provide full accounting to the families of the victims and to the public, concerning the circumstances surrounding the victims’ deaths and the steps taken to bring justice to the victims by charging the culprits.

“The Penang CPO should file charges against the police officers who are found to have transgressed their duties and were involved in causing the deaths of those under their protection.

“The CPO must do it immediately without fear or favour as a matter of urgent public interest,” said the NGOs.

Zahid asks Australia to hand over fugitive

Police have "put a formal request in, via the (Malaysian) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for his deportation" back to Malaysia.

FMT


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said Thursday it had formally asked Australia to hand over a former police commando sentenced to hang for the murder of a Mongolian model in a sensational political scandal linked to corruption allegations.

The fugitive, Sirul Azhar Umar, has been detained by authorities in Australia where he apparently fled recently ahead of a court decision last week in Malaysia that upheld his death sentence.

Australian media have said Sirul will not be sent back as Canberra forbids repatriating suspects who face the death penalty, setting up a potential tug-of-war.

Home Minister Zahid Hamidi told reporters Malaysian police have “put a formal request in, via the (Malaysian) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for his deportation” back to Malaysia.

Sirul and Azilah Hadri, once members of an elite unit that guards top ministers, were convicted of the 2006 killing of 28-year-old Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian model and interpreter involved in Malaysia’s controversy-shrouded purchase of French Scorpene submarines more than a decade ago.

Her remains were found in a jungle near Kuala Lumpur after apparently being blown up with military-grade explosives.

Malaysian government critics have long alleged Sirul and Azilah were scapegoats in the murder. Sirul has previously suggested he was taking the fall for higher-ups.

Whistle-blowers allege massive kickbacks to high-level Malaysian officials in the $1.1 billion 2002 purchase, and accusations have simmered for years that Altantuya was murdered to keep her quiet.

The issue has clouded the reputation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was defence minister at the time of the deal. He became premier in 2009.

Altantuya was a lover of Abdul Razak Baginda — the man in charge of purchasing the submarines and a close associate of Najib’s.

Najib denies any wrongdoing but Malaysia’s authoritarian regime has steadfastly resisted calls for an investigation into the explosive affair.

Sirul had been able to leave the country because an appeals court in 2013 overturned the pair’s initial 2009 conviction, freeing them. But Malaysia’s highest court last week sided with a subsequent prosecution counter-appeal.

Azilah is in custody.

- AFP

Secret tunnel from Bukit Nanas to Klang River found!

It was never recorded on any map, strengthening evidence that it was a secret route.

FMT


KUALA LUMPUR: Part of a secret tunnel, believed to be centuries old, stretching from Bukit Nanas to the Klang river bank has been unearthed, according to the Star Online.

The 10m tunnel was discovered six months ago by a contractor hired by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to rectify a collapsed slope. However, the authorities kept the discovery under wraps until Monday.

DBKL Civil Engineering and Drainage Department director Tan Kheng Chok said DBKL alerted the Malaysian Historical Society about the tunnel. “We believe the tunnel is part of a labyrinth of underground passageways that had been forgotten over time,” he said.

Tan said the narrow tunnel might have been used as an escape route during the Klang Civil War in 1866. “It will be turned into a tourist attraction,” he said.

Tan said the hillslope collapsed in May 2013 but rectification work did not take place until February last year.

An information board erected outside the tunnel, states that the tunnel shares similarities with tunnels found in Kota Raja Mahdi in Klang and Kota Melawati in Kuala Selangor as they are all located on a hill, near a river or under a palace.

It further noted that the digging technique was also very similar to the tunnel in Kota Raja Mahdi.

The Bukit Nanas tunnel is believed to be incomplete as heaps of soil was found.

It was never recorded on any map, strengthening evidence that it was a secret route.

It was learnt that the Mandahiling community populated the hill, originally known as Bukit Gombak, in the mid-19th century. The Godang Palace belonging to Tuanku Raja Asal, or Ja Asai, sat on the hilltop.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor expressed his excitement over the findings when he visited the tunnel on Monday. “Bukit Nanas is a historical site as recorded by the Selangor Historical Society,´ said Tengku Adnan. “During the Klang war between Raja Mahadi and Tengku Kudin about 147 years ago, the name Bukit Gombak was changed to Bukit Nanas.”

He recounted the story of how Raja Mahadi had refused to pay taxes to Sultan Abdul Samad.

“Raja Mahadi sought the help of the rich Sutan Naposo and the Mandahiling community headed by Raja Asal. Tengku Kudin, who was Sultan Abdul Samad’s son-in-law, sought the help of Bendahara Pahang, Wan Ahmad. Raja Mahadi’s side set up base in Bukit Gombak and used pineapple plants to fortify their defence. They believed the thorns from the plants would injure the barefoot attackers and ward off charms from the enemy. In the end, Raja Mahadi, Sutan Naposo and Raja Asal lost the battle. The rows of pineapple plants on the hill gave it its identity as Bukit Nanas.”

“Today the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve still stands tall in the midst of the cosmopolitan city, surrounded by rapid developments,” said Tengku Adnan.