Monday, December 31, 2007

Bilawal, 19, to head mom's party

Teenage PM-could-be.

Bilawal, the son of slain former PM Benazir Bhutto, has agreed to lead the Pakistan People's Party at the Jan 8 elections. "My mother always said that democracy is the best revenge," the teenager, who is still studying in Oxford, said. To that his father, Asif Ali Zardari said: "Let's win the forthcoming elections. It would be revenge against those who killed her." [Read the full report here].

In Malaysia, a certain Oxford graduate who is in politics may be spurred by Bilawal, especially with our own general election just around the corner.

"Malaysia reverses Allah paper ban"


Good call, or is it just another flip-flop? I've got to ask the question. And Johari Baharom the "junior minister" or his boss got to give me answer. Jo said only Muslims could use Allah and the Weekly Herald was wrong to use it and would lose its license to publish if it insists on using it. Does the BBC article above [click here to read] means that it is not so anymore?
According to the report quoting the Weekly Herald's editor, the Malaysian government will renew is 2008 permit, with no conditions attached. This prompted the BBC to declare that: "Now the Malaysian government has back-tracked."
So what's the fatwa, really? Is it still only Muslims who can use Allah or is it free for all now? Can someone in the Hadhari government (other than the junior minister) clear the air, please? I don't want to end 2007 dazed and confused!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pakistan's woe


Benazir Bhutto, June 21,1953-Dec 27, 2007
She was the youngest person - and the first woman - to be elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988. Her father, former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979 and two of her brothers died under suspicious circumstances [read here for her Wiki profile].
I had the privilege of meeting her in person in 1989 when she attended the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (Chogm) in Kuala Lumpur.

Follow reports of her assassination in blogosphere here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

After Hindraf, NST gets new Chief News Editor

Kathi off to Sunday Times, Lionel is new CNE.

A. Kathiresan, the NST's Chief News Editor who was told to stop his column in the paper for his seemingly sympathetic views of Hindraf's course, is "to be made"* Associate Editor with The Sunday Times, the tabloid's Sunday edition, from January 1, 2008.

A memo to the staff today said with that deputy CNE Lionel Morais will be promoted to Chief News Editor. Lionel was my crime editor when I was the Editor of the Malay Mail between 2002 and last year.

The memo also announced the promotions of Mustapha Kamil as Executive Editor of Business Times and Lokman Mansor as his deputy. Both were key people when I was the Editor of Business Times between 1998 and 2001. (The contract for Rajen Moses, who was imported in 2004 to "beef up" the Business Times, has ended. Rajen is believed to be heading for a senior position in a PR firm in the new year).

Fauziah Ismail, who has been with the group for 23 years, has been promoted to Deputy CNE. Zubaidah Abu Bakar has been made the NST Political Correspondent. She was attached to the NST Political Desk when NST had one until it was demolished in 2004.

I would like to congratulate all of them, especially Lionel and Mustapha. They must have no fear if they hope to uphold the basic principles of journalism where they are, and I hope they will have the strength of character to remain true to the profession.

* "to be made" is how Kathiresan's appointment has been worded in the memo. I am not sure if it's a lateral transfer or a promotion. In any case, he will report to Joseph Soosai, who is the Editor of Sunday Times, has been retained despite having reached retirement age.

Blogger Shukri speaks out

Police brutality. Blogger Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, who was arrested and later released by Kuantan police on Monday, was scheduled to give a press conference at 1 pm. I'll post as soon as I get more details.
In the meantime, visit his blog at http://cucumatkilau.blogdrive.com for updates. His latest posting was on a police report he lodged today on his arrest. Among other things, he accused the police of brutality during the arrest and claimed that the cops were trying to prevent him from making the police report, which he said he wantged to lodge on the night of the arrest itself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cops nab blogger in Kuantan

Crackdown on Bloggers begins?
Cucumatkilau, a PKR-proposed candidate during the last general election, has claimed that police broke down the door of his home in Kuantan yesterday morning before cuffing him and taking him to the police station . He claimed that the cops did not produce any warrant for his arrest and did not say why he was being arrested.

Blogger Datuk Ron alerted me of the incident some hours ago and has since done two postings (here and here) on the arrest.

Now, even before the arrest of the Hindraf 5 there had been talk that several bloggers would be arrested under the ISA. Obviously I didn't give such talk much credence. Let's just say I was more concerned about the "chilling effect" that it could have on the blogging community. I am still not ready yet to believe that the Government would actually be so naive as to target bloggers, but that's what people are going to talk about until/unless the cops issue an official statement and explain its action on Cucumatkilau and respond to his claims.

Back to Cucumatkilau. The 36-year old former Umno member said the cops came to his house at about 10 a.m. yesterday and released him about 10 hours later at 8pm. After his ordeal, he wrote in his blog cucumatkilau.blogdrive.com what looks like a Part One of his own account on what happened.

He headlined it Terkini: Operasi Menahan Bloggers Bermula (Latest: Crackdown on Bloggers begins).

Was he arrested because of his blogging? Cucumatkilau hasn't said in his posting if the cops had told him so but they did confiscate three cellphones and a laptop belonging to him when they arrested him. We do not know if these items have been returned to him.

Looks like we'll have to wait for Part Two ...

pic of Cucumatkilau with Pas' Mat Sabu, one of the politicians nabbed in a belated crackdown [here] by the cops on Dec 9 against the Yellow March organisers.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Poll results on Damai: 97.7 per cent

Silent Minority. A poll by blogger Walski on Damai, which claimed to represent Malaysia's so-called "Silent Majority" and who submitted a 12-foot-thick memo to the PM to bedazzle him, attracted a sizeable 3491 voters.
77.9 per cent of them asked: Who the hell are Damai Malaysia and why are they speaking on their behalf? 19.8 per cent said no, they are not part of that "Silent Majority" Damai claims to speak for.
2.3 per cent
said yes, they are.

Check out the results HERE.

Merry Xmas!


Malaysia's tallest Christmas tree, in Kuching, donated by a telco. Click here or here to know more, and for more pics.
So Merry Xmas, you young ones and old farts, blackwhiteyellow and red, rich or poor. No fear. I'll let Lennon sing you my favourite all-year-round Xmas number ....
So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cops to permit anti-ISA gathering?

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 (Bernama) -- Police are willing to reconsider the application by Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) for a permit to hold a gathering here on January 5. The gathering which was to be held at Dataran Merdeka here tonight was cancelled by the organisers. "We will review the application and issue a permit if we are certain it will not disturb the peace," Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zulkarnain Abd Rahmantold Bernama. Checks by Bernama found the square to be what it usually is on a Saturday night without signs of any illegal gathering taking place. The GMI had wanted to hold the gathering to call for the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA).-- BERNAMA
Change of heart?
And does that mean we'll get a permit to be at Dataran Merdeka on New Year's eve to usher in 2008?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dr M: I'll testify if needed

ACA interviews former PM. Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the ACA came to see him yesterday on the VK Lingam video clip.

"There were 3 officers," he said. Their meeting lasted an hour.

Dr M told a press conference at the Perdana Leadership Foundation that he would testify if the Royal Commission wants him to. "If I am required to testify, I can't say no."

He was responding to a question if he had been approached by the authorities with regards to the controversual video. Asked about allegations of judge-fixing that followed the disclosure of the video clip by his former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir said he had not seen the video and would not know of whatever might have been said in the videod phone conversation between lawyer Lingam and the former Chief of Justice, said to be the man at the other end of the line.

Sources said among things dicussed during the ACA interview were letters related to the appointment of a CJ.

Ethnic cleansing, street demos, and ISA.

On the use of the Internal Security Act to arrest the Hindraf 5, Dr M reminded the press conference that when he was prime minister he used to apply the ISA to detain people as well.

"We are a democratic country. If you elect people who believe in the ISA, the ISA will be there. If you don't like the ISA, don't vote people who believe in the ISA," he said.

On Hindraf's claims that the Indians in the country have been marginalised and were victims of ethnic cleansing, Dr M said: "I read a lot of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia but here in Malaysia I have not heard of thousands of Indians being killed. I find the allegations (of ethnic cleansing of Indians in Malaysia) a little bit absurd."

Dr M said Hindraf was entitled to raise the issues facing the Indians in the country, "but there are other ways of doing it." The former PM also said he's not against street demonstrations if there are no other ways available to raise one's grouses.

Earlier, Dr M launched the book "The Third World and International Law" by Tunku Sofiah Jewa, a niece of first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. It was his first official do since his heart surgery on Sept 6. I must say he looked a little frail. But I had to agree with the reporter from the Star, who quipped after the press conference: "He hasn't lost it."

S.O.S. from flood victims

Pekan. Two bloggers posted on the floods in Pekan yesterday. TV Smith has 12 pics in his photo essay on "Road to Pekan". I have taken the liberty to publish one here.

And from Marina Mahathir:
"got an urgent sms from a friend appealing for help for the flood victims in Pahang. The floods are getting worse especially in Pekan area. 8000 people are stranded and the roads have been cut off. Not sure how they are going to get supplies to the Pekanites but these are items they need:

diapers, baby milk, sanitary pads, eggs, canned food, rice, sugar, water, other foodstuffs, candles and torchlights, clothing.

Those living in KL, please deliver your contributions to the Flood Relief Centre at Istana Pahang, Persiaran Raja Chulan, KL. Please contact Dato Nordin at 012-988-9149 or 012-900-7068."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Selamat Hari Raya Korban

Eid ul Adha.

The design may be radical for those who expect mosques to have tall minarets and huge domes, but the Masjid Almukminin on Street 21, Jurong East in Singapore is as good as the next mosque for one to pray to God. It is also active as a learning centre as well as a community hub for the neighbourhood Muslims. I used to park my car at the mosque whenever I visit my sister there.

At the end of the same street on the same side of the road is a Hindu temple.

I am not sure why I've decided on the picture of this mosque for this year's greetings, but there you are: Selamat Hari Raya to all Muslims and Malaysians.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Helping the flood victims

"No, this is not a lake, it was a padi field".

Mother Nature's wrath has left 30,000 people homeless and more than 20 dead in Kelantan, Pahang and Johor. Blogger Pasquale, who was in Pahang to lend a helping hand, reports that "there was no shortage of food (for the victims), but more is needed". Story and more Pasqualensa pics here.

Another blogger, Sheikh Kickdefella, accompanies Husam Musa, Pas' strongman, to Tendong, where they bumped into the BN's local Yang Berhormat and had a brief exchange on the freedom to smoke. Sheih's story and pics here.
Commenter Capt (R) Azhar Lin left an info for anyone in the Klang Valley who wish to help:

Norman Extremeworks Sdn Bhd,
No.2, Jln Sri Puchong 2B,
Taman Sri Puchong,
Bt 12, 47100 PUCHONG,
Selangor.
(Contact : Mr Norman at +60166000943)

Monday, December 17, 2007

My sympathies for the A-G

Updated, 19/12/07 at 4am
Bernama reports here:
Sepang: Asked whether the decision to reduce the charges against the 31 people suspected to be supporters of Hindraf was made following several requests, the Prime Minister said
the decision was made by the Attorney-General.
"He must have considered what to do when he brought the case to court. He made an appropriate decision and he gave the reason why the charges were reduced," he said.

Original posting
Charges against Hindraf 31 dropped.
Why my sympathies for Gani Patail? Because today he's no longer just a laughing stock. After this day nobody will take the Attorney-General seriously. They'll say he gave in to pressure from the PM. Compromised.

I welcome the decision to drop the "attempted murder" charges against the Hindraf 31. In my earlier posting here I clearly stated that the A-G's excuse of charging the men for attempting to murder a cop on Hindraf Sunday "sucks big time".

Gani had been so cock-sure. "They threw bricks at his head. Do you think it will not cause death?" He didn't count on the Prime Ministertaking pity on the Hindraf 31.

I pity Gani Patail because in my eyes, and probably in the eyes of many, he's lost a hell of a lot today.

The 31 must thank the PM. For his firmness or his softness, he got the A-G to drop the charges. But the PM will not come out of this smelling entirely like roses, at least that's not what Big Dog the rabid pro-Umno blogger has to say here:
"This news shall be received adversely by many quarters as they see the 'Flip-Flop' Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi turned soft and ‘conveniently forgiving’, despite so many parties, including within UMNO leaders and NGOs representing a wide spectrum of the rakyat, vehemently made calls for stern and decisive actions be taken against people deemed 'extremist militants' and 'guilty of high treason'.
The principle of the 'Rule of Law' must be observed and practiced, to give confidence to everyone that they are protected under the Constitution and no one shall have any veil or exception of this rule, even when their representatives go pleading to the Prime Minister."
For now, the People rest their case.
31 demonstrators acquitted and discharged of attempted murder - Bernama

Fake IPCMC Bill consultation tonight

But will anybody be there? Lim Kit Siang wonders here.
Head for
the Selangor-KL Chinese Assembly Hall tonight 17 Dec 2007 for this forum, which starts at 7.30 pm.
For a backgrounder on the Special Complaints Commission Bill versus the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, read The Scribe's Wither, the IPCMC?

Mencari Damai

Finding Naina. What has Rizal Marican Naina Marican, an Indian-Muslim from Penang and a close aide to the Prime Minister, got to do with Damai? A lot, it seems, or so says Malaysians Unplugged.

Click here and follow the trail, and discover why the real Silent Majority has not spoken.

Forgotten flood victims

Calling generous Malaysian companies. An afternoon tv bulletin yesterday lamented the slow response from corporations in helping out flood victims this time around. Even when the DPM was back in his homestate of Pahang yesterday to visit the flood victims, only one corporation had made arrangements to bring what can be considered substantial supplies that might cheer the victims, according to a source.

"We need more, a lot more corporations, to come forward and help," the source said. Even the DPM made it a point to tell Bernama yesterday that contributions in cash and kind from the corporate sector and NGOs are welcomed (Second wave of flood may lash Pahang on Friday, says Najib - 16 Dec).

As of yesterday, 21 persons had been reported dead in floods that have left nearly 30,000 people in Johor, Pahang and Kelantan homeless.

Pix above is of floods in England last summer. It came with a BBC article headlined Country "ill-prepared" for floods.

NoMAD

Non-Muslim Affairs Department. 40 Indian-based NGOs which met in KL yesterday want 4 things from the PM:
1/ Set up a NoMAD to confront issues affecting non-Muslims (not just Hindus but people of other religions as well)
2/ Charge the 5 Hindraf leaders (detained under ISA last week) in court
3/ Drop the "attempted murder" charge against 31 Hindraf followers
4/ Receive their memo on issues confronting the Indians in one month
Read the Bernama story Indian-based NGOs want PM to set up NoMAD (Dec 16). At the end of it all, you've got to give it to S. Samy Vellu.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Silent Majority

A poll. Are you part of that "SILENT MAJORITY" that "Damai Malaysia" claims to speak for? If you are or if you are not or if you don't even know who the duck this Damai Malaysia are and why there are speaking on your behalf, click HERE and take part in the poll.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What a 10-sec soundbite can do

When the soundbite is Anwar's and it's aired on a government station, heads roll.
Well, make that "a head". I was told that a - or is it the? - "head" of 93.9FM aka Radio24, the first round-the-clock news station (run by Bernama, the national news agency), had resigned after a furious lashing by someone close to the PM's department over "a 10 or 11-second statement" made by Anwar Ibrahim and aired by the station a couple of days ago.

Waiting for a confirmation...

Monster BLOG IT poster!

But not here in KL. This picture was taken during my last visit to Singapore. Three days there and - you know what? - we didn't see even one poster that had their PM's face, his wife's, or any of their politicians'.

Back in Malaysia, it's here, there and everywhere. How much is spent on these posters and who pays for them?

By the way, Nokia, when will we see this pro-BLOG ad on Malaysian billboards? Or will we ever?
(See also pic by Pasqualensa)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Larger than Life

CORRECTION 15/12, 12.15pm
Kristal and Nobisha pointed out that the face in the picture is of the Mayor of Melaka, not the KL Datuk Bandar. My apologies to all.
But still .... what a BIG electronic welcome poster.
(Those who wish to delete the comments they posted earlier may go to the dustbin icon at the bottom of their respective comments. This facility is applicable only to bloggers and not anonymous commenters, I think).

Original posting
We used to associate Lenin, Mao, and Saddam with superbillboard-sized portraits and statues of themselves. Right here in Kuala Lumpur, these "greats" would stand no chance beside the latest picture of our own Datuk Bandar.

Thank you MM for alerting me to this storeys-high splendor. She sounded quite alarmed in her SMS.
MM: OMG, have you see that the DBKL building on its side a giant pic in lights of the Datuk Bandar and a lighted sign that reads "Selamat Dtg Hj Zaini Md Nor, Datuk Bandar KL"? Not even PM or Elyas Omar when he DB had anything like this. The WHOLE building has his face!
More pictures, HERE. (Pics were taken tonight. I haven't found a way to amend the date on the camera yet)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I.S.A.

13/12 Hindraf's P. Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, V. Ganapatirau, T. Vasanthakumar, R. Kenghadharan held under ISA./the STAR
I'll repeat what I've stated before: Hindraf's memo sucks, but using the Internal Security Act sucks even more.
Since the memo surfaced last month, many quarters including bloggers and activists have been doing their bit to help put things in the right perspective and to help Malaysians, and the outside world, understand the issue and this country better.

How do we explain it now?

To read the Hindraf memo again, click HERE.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lend us your ears, Pak Lah

Bloggers for unity. 4 political parties and over a dozen NGOs issued the following statement to promote national unity in the face of a growing racial/religious divide and in abhorrence of excessive government-police response to calls for greater freedoms and basic rights as espoused in our Constitution.
As a Malaysian, I welcome the spirit of the statement. As protem president of the National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs), I urge all bloggers to welcome the spirit of this stand.
lJoint Statement to Seek Immediate Appointment with Prime Minister

We view with great seriousness the recent crises that trouble our nation.

We are especially troubled by the racial and religious antagonism that now pervades Malaysian society. Our foremost commitment is to national unity, multiracial solidarity as well as to the safety and welfare of all Malaysians. We believe that the only way to safeguard these values is to reject socially divisive approaches and uphold Constitutional guarantees. We thus affirm our pledge to remain united in our multiracial and multi-religious approach to uphold justice for all.

We deplore the heavy handed actions of the authorities in the series of arrests that took place between the 9th and 11th of December. This brutal crackdown against leaders of civil society organisations and political parties is a clear contravention of the fundamental liberties and human rights guaranteed in our Constitution. The inconsistency of these arrests and intimidations with the government’s assurances that Malaysia continues to be a strong democracy will undoubtedly tarnish our country’s reputation in the international community.

We also remain firmly committed to pursuing the agenda of free and fair elections as well as meaningful electoral reform. The amendment of the Constitution to allow the chairman of the Electoral Commission to serve for another year is a clear reminder that the government is fully intent on perpetuating an electoral system that is rife with irregularities and corruption. We reiterate our calls to the government to provide full access to the media for all political parties and to take seriously the mass of incriminating evidence that we have adduced time and time again and take all necessary measures to abolish well documented electoral malpractices.

Justice, harmony and freedom in Malaysia will be forever absent unless immediate steps are taken to remedy these vital issues. The importance of addressing them vigorously is such that we will seek to bring the matter to the highest level of government.

We are thus seeking an immediate appointment with the Prime Minister to discuss these pressing matters of state and urge him to honour his promise of being willing to listen to the concerns of all Malaysians. At this meeting we intend to pursue the agenda of national unity and reconciliation among all Malaysians regardless of race and religion, press on with our demands for free and fair elections, and work towards resolving the serious national problems we face.

List of Endorsees:

Political Parties

1 Democratic Action Party (DAP)
2 Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KeADILan)
3 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
4 Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS)

NGOs



1 Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
2 Centre for Policy Initiatives
3 Citizen Think Tank
4 Civil Rights Committee (KLSCAH)
5 Concerned Citizens Group
6 Gabungan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)
7 Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
8 Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Komas)
9 Labour Resource Centre (LRC)
10 Malaysians Against the Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
11 National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
12 National Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
13 Police Watch and Human Rights Committee
14 Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
15 Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
16 Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
17 Youth For Change (Y4C)

Take EC chairman to court

Let the Courts decide. Remember the Election Commission chairman's challenge to his detractors: "Prove rigging and I will resign" (The Star, 20 Nov 2007)?

I think Bersih 0wes it to the people to take up the challenge if the electoral frauds and manipulations committed by this man or during his tenure as EC boss is as overwhelming as claimed.

Why I think so? The Parliament has passed the amendment that will allow Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman to remain as EC until the next general election despite the people's protests and Bersih's formal objection. Dozens have been arrested by the police.
The Abdullah Administration ain't listening; it wants Abdul Rashid to be around until the next GE and it is going to get what it wants through the process of Parliament, which it dominates.

So, there is only one way to deal with this: Take the EC Chairman to court and prove that the election process in this country has been rigged!

If voter registration (which is part of the election process) can be rigged -- as in my case and, I am sure, in hundreds and perhaps thousands of other cases -- then it wouldn't be too hard to prove in court that the election process is rigged.
I am prepared to appear in any court of law to tell my story.

p.s. In the meantime, read the Bersih memo and understand that the opposition and protests are not about extending the retirement age of the EC Chairman, but about extending the services of a Chairman that has been "marred with recurring electoral frauds and manipulations."
The memo, HERE.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Malaysia blacklists former DPM

Updated 4.45pm, 12/12/2007
"Our officers only check and question foreigners entering the country." - Immigration Dept enforcement director ("Immigration Dept denies Anwar's airport detention claim", The Star on-line 11/12, 9.11pm)

update 3.30pm
Arrest, Arrest, Arrest (to the tune of Correct, Correct, Correct): 12 more persons linked to Bersih and the Opposition were arrested today, according to Bernama. PKR sec-gen Khalid Ibrahim, Pas central committee member Dr Lo'Lo' Mohd Ghazali, and Tien Chua.
They were arrested at several locations near the area (Parliament), according to the report. There was an illegal assemblyy outside Parliament but the report did not say how big the crowd was.
Reuters has pix and story here, which says Hindraf lawyer P. Uthayakumar has also been arrested.
Sun&Surf: Dozens of opposition leaders, members nabbed.


original post
Senaraihitam suspek. Anwar Ibrahim has blogged about being stopped at the KLIA this morning. "Senaraihitam suspek" was the term he used. In English, suspect blacklist?
Go here.

Also on World Human Rights Day ...

Cops quiz blogger Jeff Ooi.
The Screenshots blogger spent over an hour with the CCID officials from Bukit Aman at about the same time the lawyers and activists from the Human Rights walk of 9 Dec were charged in court yesterday.

As usual, Jeff was calm and composed. "I'll continue to be single minded in doing what I've been doing for a better Malaysia," he told reporters and bloggers at the end of his interview at about 3.30 pm.

Jeff was accompanied by 3 lawyers led by Gobind Singh Deo, the son of living legend Karpal Singh.

During the standing press conference, Jeff asked if there was a reporter from the Star. He requested that the reporter asked his editors to make amendments to a news flash sent out (even as the closed-door interview with the cops was in progress) by the Star SMS Alert:
10/12 Police have recorded statement from DAP member and blogger Jeff Ooi over alleged anti-govt remarks made in Al-Jazeera interview on Nov 10/STAR
Jeff said the "alleged anti-govt remarks" part was misleading.
Read The Star's report today: Cops question blogger Jeff Ooi.
Tony Yew's take and pics here.

Laughing stock

When lawyers pay no heed to the Attorney-General

by Present Point Power

Peaceful assembly or walk may not be a serious offence but when the 9 were charged on Monday, the AG Gani Patail (pic) said: “the prosecution will prove that their actions may lead to public disorder and more unlawful assemblies."
At this juncture, laughter broke out in the courtroom, which was packed mostly with lawyers, prompting Gani to tell the court that this was no laughing matter as it involved national security. [Eight in People's Freedom Walk claim trial, Bernama].

More details
Go H E R E
Plus a 3.24min Video Clip (with Clips within Clip) on the police aborted Peace Walk
Thank you for the posting and pics/clips, Multimid.

When I told a former High Court judge over coffee yesterday that Gani had wanted bail denied for the lawyers, he shook his head repeatedly. "What's going on, Rocky?"
Good question. I thought the A-G should be focusing on more pressing issues, like Altantuya, Nurin, etc.
The judge was also shocked to learn of the names of the lawyers arrested as most of them are known human rights lawyers, including Edmund Bon, the Bar Council's chairperson for Human Rights.
And yesterday, if you didn't know, was World Human Rights Day!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trylah, people!

Is Musa disappointed now? Aniza Damis' interview with Musa Hitam, reproduced by CTSB here, on our rights to peacefully assemble.

Excerpts:

Aniza Damis: Is Malaysia ready for peaceful assemblies?
Musa Hitam: Yes! Come on, we have been independent for 50 years ....

Aniza Damis: If the government doesn’t come up with a system, what would this say about human rights and about us?
Musa Hitam: The government has the right to say no. The government has a right to refuse. But if it does, I’ll be disappointed. Try, lah!

No one above the law


Really?
9 persons, including 5 lawyers, nabbed at Human Rights walk; 8 from Bersih/Yellow March arrested
Newspapers report on their front page today of the PM's warning that no one, lawyers included, was above the law and all involved in illegal activities would face the consequences.

[Who are Edmund Bon, N. Surendren and Lateefa Koya? Read Eli Wong's Lawyer "hero".]

Will they be dealt with as his own son-in-law was dealt with when he committed illegal activities? Remember the photograph below?

The PM said he would be fair.

I ask that he be truthful.

That's my wish for today's World Human Rights Day. This year's theme is Dignity and Justice for all of us.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Walking with 500 cops

With or Without the Bar. AFP correspondent Romen Bose interviewed me as we were walking from Sogo to the Bar Council's heaadquaters this morning. I told him I regretted the arrests made by the police. "The action by the cops was totally unnecessary. We are walking for human rights, man, and you can see for yourself how peaceful the walk is."

We found out later that 8 lawyers and activsts had been arrested. Lawyer Haris Ibrahim, one of the lawyers who picked up where the Bar Council had left the walk, had to calm down some of the walkers. There were many cool heads. The police should have just allowed the walk to proceed.

The Malaysiakini reporter must have been a pain for the cop in charge, Supt Che Hamzah Che Ismail. "Why did you arrest them? It was a peaceful walk. Why did you stop them?"

"I have my human rights, too," Che managed.

Why did the Bar Council cancel the walk? The question played in my head over and over again throughout the walk. I am disappointed with the Bar, of course, but this morning I was proud to walk with some brave lawyers. I could almost feel how unhappy my lawyer, Edmund Bon, the chairperson of the Bar Council's Human Rights Committee, was. He had wanted so much to walk.

An hour or so after we left, they told me that Bon had been arrested for allegedly preventing some City Hall workers from bringing down some posters at the Bar Council's headquarters. The Bar marks this years World Human Rights Day (10 Dec) today.

I spoke to Bon later. "It's a sad day for (our) human rights," he said.
I was walking with many brave girls. There were about 100 walkers. More than two dozens journalists. 500 cops (the Malay Mail reporter asked Supt Che Hamzah the question). And a chopper in the sky.

Bloggers who walked include:
Nuraina Samad (Sunday Human Rights Walk ....)
Jeff Ooi (Cops outnumber People: 5 to 1)
Tony Yew (A walk too far)
Bernard Khoo aka Zorro
Haris Ibrahim
Michelle Gunaselan (International Human Rights Day, Malaysians Style)
Shanghai Fish (Human Rights ... What Rights?)
Shar 101 (500 MIBs, 1 whirlybird and the rest of us)
Desiderata
Melvin Mah (5 lawyers, 3 activists arrested).

For professional pics, go to Suzanne Lee's site.

Mosques and temples in Malaysia

Selangor. Pop: 4-plus million.
Malays 2.5 million
Mosques 98, suraus 1,000
[Correction 2.30pm, 9/12: I've been told the figure cited by Khir Toyo last night was 358 mosques, not 98. I have informed Bernama of the error. My apologies.]

Chinese 1.3 millioin
Buddhist temples 1,015

Indian 640,000
Hindu temples 810

These numbers are taken from this story (Hindraf an extremist group, 8 Dec) which Bernama based on Khir Toyo's interview on RTM last night. The story did not say how many churches, gurdwaras and other houses of other faiths there are in Selangor. I missed the programme so I have no way of telling if the Selangor MB mentioned the other numbers. But do your math and draw your own conclusions based on the numbers, if they are correct.

Meanwhile, more Umno leaders are clamouring for tough action (read ISA) on P. Uthayakumar and the other Hindraf leaders. Read the posting by Big Dog here. Even the mild-mannered Mukhriz Mahathir is associating Hindraf with "high treason"!

I still say there's no place under the Malaysian sun for the ISA. No more. The ISA has been abused too many times before. The government has made too many mistakes with it in the past.

PM: Right to protest is fundamental

Writing for Wall Street Journal.
"The right to protest is fundamental in all democracies but it is a right that must be matched by a responsibility to respect general public safety." - Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The quotes, according to Bernama here, were part of the PM's opinion piece which was published by the Wall Street Journal's weekend edition.
Well done, 4th floor boys!
But public safety has come under the threat of a rising crime rate in the city, not from people who want to march quietly and peacefully to express themselves.

I wonder if editors at WSJ subscribe to the views expressed by our PM here.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ah, Zaki!

Tan Sri Zaki Azmi is not a stranger to controversy but his intended appointment as the President of the the Court of Appeal could reach scandalous proportions, based on what prominent human rights lawyers Malik Imtiaz and Haris Ibrahim are arguing on their blogs.

At Disquiet, Malik, who is president of Hakam, wrote that he has had had the privilege of dealing with Zaki as a lawyer over a period of time, and more recently as a judge, and has always found Zaki to be "courteous, incisive and approachable, key attributes of a good judge".
"His appointment as President is however, notwithstanding, a basis for concern," Malik said.
".. shows that the Government is blind to the crisis that the Judiciary, and consequently the legal system, is in the throes of."

Haris, who runs the popular The People's Parliament blog, is sending another petition to the Agong on the intended appointment of Zaki. In Ampun Tuanku, patik-patik petisyen lagi Haris argued that Zaki is too junior, too close to Umno for comfort, too corporate, and too colourful (which is my word; Haris said Zaki "had previously been embroiled in a very public personal scandal in which he was implicated of destroying documentary evidence, a matter that led to his voluntary resignation from the UMNO discplinary committee for fear of impeaching the integrity of the other members of the said committee".)

My own experience with Zaki was limited to the usual misunderstanding between a newspaper editor and an unhappy subject of a news article that the newspaper has just run. This was when Zaki was sitting on the board of a major rail company. Like Malik, what struck me was how professional and very courteous this man was.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Una Paloma Blanca

No one can take my freedom away.

I hear some bloggers are going to join some lawyers who are going to take a leisurely morning walk from Sogo to the Central Market this Sunday.
When I was an ITM student in the early 80s, I used to walk around the city from the Kelang bus station every other weekend. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise.

I think I'll join those bloggers who are joining those lawyers this Sunday.
7.30am at Sogo.
I'll wear white as a tribute to the White Dove (una paloma blanca), a symbol of freedom.

Learn the lyrics of the song, we'll sing the chorus together tomorrow!

UNA PALOMA BLANCA
When the sun shines on the mountain
And the night is on the run
It's a new day
It's a new way
And I fly up to the sun



I can feel the morning sunlight

I can smell the new-mown hay
I can hear God's voice is calling
For my golden sky light way


Una paloma blanca

I'm just a bird in the sky
Una paloma blanca
Over the mountains I fly

No one can take my freedom away


Once I had my share of losing

for they locked me on a chain

Yes they tried to break my power

oh I still can feel the pain


Una paloma blanca

I'm just a bird in the sky

Una paloma blanca

Over the mountains I fly

No one can take my freedom away


Una paloma blanca

I'm just a bird in the sky

Una paloma blanca

Over the mountains I fly

No one can take my freedom away


Read also
Freedom ....
People's Freedom Walk,
Bar Declines but Lawyers will march on
Damn! Even if it's off, I will walk come Sunday.

Malaysian blogger to be quizzed by cops

Jeff Ooi. The Screenshots blogger has been summoned by the CCID of Bukit Aman this Monday at 2pm for an interview over a statement he was supposed to have issued to an Al-Jazeera reporter. On Nov 18, the NST reported that three NGOs had lodged a report with the police over the said "statement" and wanted the police to investigate Jeff Ooi.
Several bloggers have been called in by the cops for questioning this year, including Nathaniel Than and Mr and Mrs Raja Petra Kamarudin.
Anyone joining me at Bukit Aman this Monday?
[Read Jeff Ooi summoned by Bukit Aman CCID].

Free The 31

The difference between a brick and a rock. I am totally against what P. Uthayakumar has done (or undone) with his Hidraf agenda but the A-G's move to get the 31 alleged marchers charged with attempted murder makes it hard to decide who is the bigger bozo here.

Gani Patail's reasoning for the attempted murder charge: "They threw bricks at his head. Do you think it will not cause death?"

I have to agree with Malik Imtiaz - the A-G's excuse sucks big time. The police shot teargas and chemical at the crowd on Nov 25 and earlier during the Bersih march. So the cops should be charged with attempted murder, too? Sucks, right?

Incidentally, a security guard who threw a rock at a college girl in an attempt to rape her last April was charged with attempted rape, molest and causing hurt. But NOT attempted murder. The teenage guard admitted that he repeatedly hit the 18-year old victim's head with the rock for screaming as he was trying to rape her in a store room. What was the court told? "He did not intend to hurt the victim".

The lucky rock-thrower was sent to 3 years at the Henry Gurney home for juvenile offenders. ("Teen guard pins blame on rape bid on 'sudden feeling'" - NST Online, Dec 6).

So, does that mean you should throw a rock and not a brick next time? Sucks.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Girls, don't carry their bags, OK?

Falling for the same trick, over and over again. At this very moment, Raja Munirah Raja Iskandar Shah (left) faces a 7-year jail sentence in Japan for carrying Milad's luggage at the Tokyo airport. She was arrested with 100g of syabu in the bag and the Japanese courts are not convinced that the Iranian man really exist.

But compared with Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, Munirah must consder herself very lucky. Umi Azlim from Kelantan is facing death in China (read here). What happened to her was what happened to Munirah: she carried a friend's bag, seemingly without caring what the bag contained. On that fateful day, that bag contained nearly 3kg of heroine.

These are bright, young Malaysians. But sometimes all it takes is a half-second lapse in judgement. You go to jail for such lapses. You may even pay with your life.

Thing is, there have been cases like Munirah's and Umi's. Same shit, different day: Malaysian girl asked by Middle Eastern man to carry his luggage/Malaysian girl arrested as drugs found in bag/Middle Eastern guy nowhere to be seen/Malaysian girl charged in court/Malaysian girl go to jail.

I am riled and so dissappointed, but what I feel is not important right now. The family of Munirah is in dire need of help. Her father needs to raise RM20,000 to pay for the legal fees to appeal against the jail sentence. If you want to help, click here to the KMU site for details, including his bank account number.

For Umi Azlim and her mom and dad, I pray for you.

It'd be great if there are Malaysian lawyers to take up the girls' cases. It'd be greater if our girls learn from these tragedies and say NO to any request to carry any man's luggage. If nothing else, it's un-ladylike. Let them lug their own bags.

Blue Inc eyes Malay Mail

For sale? Blue Inc's boss Ibrahim Nor has confirmed talk that he was interested in acquiring The Malay Mail, the oldest Malaysian-born English daily.

"Having worked in the New Straits Times Press before, the thought of taking over the Malay Mail is a tempting prospect as there is synergy with my other publishing business. It's true, I have expressed an interest and I hope to explore the possibility with the owners," he wrote back to me last night.

I had SMS-ed Ibrahim after Screenshots alerted me of an article in the Singapore BT [Malay Mail being courted by Blue Inc boss Ibrahim by S. Jayasekaran].

Dropping numbers. Incidentally, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) published its latest statistics at a press conference yesterday. I'm sure Ibrahim has seen the figures and is aware of the challenges he will be facing if he's still keen in buying the Malay Mail.
By the way, it's been nearly 4 years since Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan came to the NSTP and spoke of the glory he would bring back to the NST, especially. Merde!

Translated from today's Harian Metro:
For the English-language newspapers, the New Straits Times' daily average circulation was 139,763 copies and the weekly Sunday Times did 153,409 copies.
The Malay Mail sold an average 20,816 copies a day and the Weekend Mail (Saturday and Sunday) 31,415 copies.
The Star, meanwhile, was doing 309,181 copies a day, the Sunday Star (322,741 copies) and The Edge (24,043 copies).
The Sun, a free paper, pushed up its print order to 250,000 copies from around 170,000 copies.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Malaysian in Indonesia's Top 100 bloggers

Indonesian Blogger #30. Please congratulate Ong Hock Chuan the Unspun blogger, who is a "modest" No 30 in the republic's latest Top 100 Bloggers ranking.
I can boast that he's been on my blogroll since the start. Ong, my senior at the Star in the 80s, is also in the team of Indonesian bloggers who organised the Pesta Blogger and claimed Oct 27 as Indonesia's National Blogging Day.


Pic [by Shanghai Fish] of Ong with Malaysian bloggers Zorro, Nuraina A. Samad, and Rocky's Bru during a recent visit to the National Press Club in Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar's real stand

"I don't subscribe to Hindraf's aggressive views ...". Anwar Ibrahim has been ducked left, right and centre since my Dec 2 posting Anwar: India right to fight for Indians, which I did based on a news article from an interview he had given to the Daily News and Analysis, India.
The former DPM posted the full transcript of the interview in his blog today. After reading the full transcript, I have to say that the news article did not do justice to Anwar.

Excerpts:
What do you think about the racial discrimination faced by Indians in Malaysia?
Ours is a multiracial society and it is not just the Indians, but also the ethnic Malays and ethnic Chinese communities who have been complaining of racial discrimination.

Do you agree that historically Indians have been treated as slaves in Malaysia?
It is not just the ethnic Indians, the Chinese and Malays are also complaining about ill-treatment. I don’t subscribe to the Hindraf’s (Hindu Rights Action Force) aggressive view, but pulling down temples [as the Malaysian government is doing] isn’t the way to go.

Some Malaysian leaders believe that India must not get involved in local affairs…
These ministers are not aware of diplomatic niceties. When you raise issues of minorities being mistreated in other parts of the world, people are going to question the treatment of minorities in your own country.

Please read the full transcript, Muslims also are being discriminated against in Malaysia, at the DNA website.

9/12 Walk ON?

Lawyers to walk despite Bar's decision. I was with some lawyers last night. They weren't happy with the Bar Council's decision to cancel the People's Freedom Walk. Lawyers have walked for the last two years to mark the World Human Rights Day (celebrated on Dec 10 every year) so they don't see why the Bar should cancel the walk just because the Information Minister said so.

These lawyers said they and others will walk on December 9. "It is important, more now than ever, that we walk this Sunday."

If the lawyers walk, I'll walk. Wait for the details, bros and sis.

p.s. Dear (commenter) lawgiver, re: your comment in my last posting 9/12 Walk off, looks like the Bar is NOT all about power and money. Can't rest your case yet.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

9/12 Walk off

No teargas, water canon needed.
Taken from Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan's official statement published at http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/ a while ago:

"The Bar Council has given anxious consideration to the present
circumstances that surround this event, particularly the interests of the public and the Malaysian Bar. In consequence, the Bar Council has decided to cancel the walk from Sogo to Central Market. HOWEVER THE FESTIVITIES AT CENTRAL MARKET WILL PROCEED. We believe it is important that this event from 9am to 2.30pm be held, and the public are invited to attend it.
The Bar Council takes the position that the requirement for an application for a permit under the Police Act to hold this event, violates our constitutional right to peaceful assembly. In fact, the Royal Commission on the Police Force and SUHAKAM have said as much, and have called for a repeal of this law, as has the Bar Council. The police had asked for the Bar Council to apply for a permit for their consideration for the Walk. Apart from the circumstances that we have taken into account, we believe this is an unlawful fetter on our
constitutional right to assemble peacefully. We are mindful that many will be disappointed at the cancellation of the walk, but other more significant considerations have prevailed on this occasion."

Zam must be happy. But as Edmund Bon says in his "personal note": "We will continue to do what is right in the interests of the Bar and civil society. Rest assured, this difficult struggle will continue unabated."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Uthayakumar's Singapore interview

updated 4/11/07 for pics by Pasquale
"I can't rule out violence." Before the Hindraf march on 25 Nov, P. uthayakumar gave an interview to the new paper of Singapore. The popular tabloid front-paged the interview with a picture of the lawyer, fist clinched, saying; "I CAN'T RULE OUT VIOLENCE".


Excerpts:

by Desmond Ng
His words are chilling.
He claims he stands for peaceful protests, but the same man inspires his followers with footage of violent protests in Myanmar.
A UK-trained lawyer, Mr P. uthayakumar called himself a patriot, but is now prepared to shame Malaysia internationally for what he sees as policies that are racially discriminatory ....
Mr Uthayakumar dismissed (S.Samy Vellu) as irrelevant to the Indian cummunity.
He claimed the community is now turning to Hindraf instead, and Indians of all walks of life have been donating money to the group so they can advance their agenda.
Their public protest was inspired by events in Myanmar in September.
Mr Uthayakumar said: "Some of the monks were prepared to die for their cause. I've shown slides of monks getting shot and killed during my road shows and I think it struck a chord with the people.
But is he inspiring his followers to turn to violence? He said: "I think it's quite unlikely we'll head down the path towards a civil war BUT THERE'S ALWAYS THAT POSSIBILITY. Some of the uneducated may resort to VIOLENCE."

On charges that he is a traitor, Mr Uthayakumar claimed that during his university days in England, he was often wearing a lapel pin with a Malaysian flag on his coat.
"When I opened my legal firm in 1994, the first thing on my table was a flag of Malaysia. I still want to be a Malaysian but I think they don't want me."


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Stop the 9/12 march, Zam tells Bar Council

Hidden Agenda. Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin says he believes that the real agenda behind the Dec 9 walk planned by lawyers is "to condemn the government" and "a front under the guise of human rights". The walk (which the Bar Council holds annually to mark World Human Rights day on Dec 10), therefore, should not be permitted by the police, Zam said here.
Zam was responding to the fact that the Bar Council met the police last Friday to discuss how best to stage the People's Freedom Walk.

Anwar: India right to fight for Indians

Former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, has told NDTV that India is right in taking up the issue of ethnic Tamils in the country.
Ibrahim, who is in Mumbai, said that ''the present government has taken a wrong stand on the ethnic conflict in Malaysia.''
He said that ethnic Indians cannot be marginalized and they are part of Malaysia.
Supporting India's stand, he observed that the Indian government has taken a right stand by taking the issue forward.
Read the news article here.

The last couple of months have been good for DSAI, especially in terms of rebuilding his image. However, if DSAI meant what he said in this interview, that India is right in taking up the issue of ethnic Tamils in Malaysia, then I am very disappointed with him. It's akin to saying that China has the right to speak for the Chinese in this country. Or that Malaysia has the right to speak up for Malays here in Singapore.

Nurin Alert, the next level

Well done, Citizens! A technical committee has been set up to push the proposed Nurin Alert to the next level. Reps of a group called Citizens of Nurin Alert met up with top officials from the Social Welfare Department on Friday to discuss, among other things, a draft on the proposed Nurin Alert. The "Citizens" comprise several prominent bloggers, crime analyst Kamal Affendi Hashim, Nurin's blogging uncle Jasni Jalil, and officials representing prominent corporations.

Nurin Alert may form part of Shahrizat Jalil's Child Protection Policy that is to be tabled at the Cabinet soon. The setting up of the technical committee coincided with 100 days of 8-year old Nurin's murder, a crime that shook the nation.

More details at Jalan Sudin.