Sunday, October 31, 2010
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Australia stated on Monday their commitment to work together on the issues of people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
He said both countries believed that the Bali Process on human trafficking would allow the respective countries in the region, in particular, to deal with this issue.
"It is complicated, but working together as one in dealing with a very common problem of trans-national crime, of course, it is important for us," he said at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, here.
The Bali Process is an initiative which brings participants together to work on practical measures to help combat smuggling and trafficking in persons in the Asia Pacific region.
Gillard, Australia's first woman prime minister, is on two-day visit to Malaysia, as part of her maiden tour of the region since becoming prime minister in June.
Muhyiddin said both countries agreed on the need to further enhance cooperation in combating people smuggling and trafficking in persons.
He said there had been a number of engagements by the working groups which had been formed between the two countries to tackle the issue.
"And we want to see that they pursue (the matter), for today, they are very complex (issues). Of course, (these are) serious issues at the regional and international levels as well," he said.
Gillard said Malaysia had been a key contributor in the region to the disruption of people-smuggling activities.
"We very much welcome Malaysia's recent introduction of laws to crimininalise people-smuggling.
"I have also had the opportunity today to talk through Australia's proposal for a regional protection framework and a regional processing centre, and we have agreed to further dialogue in this area, including through the Bali Process," she said.
Commenting on the commitment of Malaysia towards the Australia-proposed regional processing centre, Muhyiddin said Malaysia viewed it as a very important matter and needed more information on it.
"Of course, a lot more needs to be done and, I did mention this earlier, that we need to see how this mechanism can work and whether the respective parties will need to be contributing in any way to the cost of the centre.
"There are a few outstanding matters that need to be addressed before Malaysia takes its official position on this," he said.
On Gillard's visit to Malaysia, he said it would place the secure relationship between the two countries at an even higher level. - Bernama
|Mahathir - not one to be left out of the limelight!|
Ever keen to be in the limelight, former premier Mahathir Mohamad could be counted to wallop one of his favorite targets – the United States – ahead of the arrival of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is due to make her first official visit to Malaysia.
During the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, as his then-deputy Anwar Ibrahim won accolades from world leaders, a bitter Mahathir attracted global notoriety for attacking a series of targets including Jews, Australia and the U.S.
On Monday, it was clear that 85-year old Mahathir still hungers for the world stage even though his increasingly strident racism and extremism is unlikely to open any more doors for him regardless of the amount of noise he makes.
“The U.S. may take the kind of action (it is) fond of, by invading your country. If (you try to use another currency) instead of the US dollar for trade, it will kill you,” Malaysiakini reported Mahathir as saying at a financial function in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
Not untrue but not new
He also accused the U.S. of bankruptcy, described its currency as “toilet paper” and advised the Malaysian government to switch to using the gold dinar.
|Anwar's Pakatan Rakyat has a good chance of wresting power|
Despite the harshly worded comments couched to shock, financial analysts dismissed the veteran leader’s caution.
According to them, whatever Mahathir said was not untrue - it was just not new. And the U.S. remained Malaysia's top trading partner and FDI supplier.
The analysts accused him of wanting to bask in the limelight of Clinton’s visit. She is scheduled to arrive on Monday and will meet with Malaysian officials before departing for Papua New Guinea on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Najib Razak’s aides have announced that he is down with chicken-pox and will not be able to meet with Clinton. There is also speculation that Najib’s Umno party is placing great pressure on Clinton not to meet with Anwar, now the Opposition Leader, during her visit.
|Big branches yet to meet|
Official vote tally from all the 68 divisions that held polling over the weekend showed Zaid leading with 3,683 votes followed by his challenger Azmin Ali (3,051) and Mustaffa Kamil Ayub (1,271).
Of the 17 candidates vying for the four vice president posts, Batu MP Tian Chua is leading with 3,621 votes, followed by Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar (3,543), PKR elections director Fuziah Salleh (2,895), Penang deputy Chief Minister 1 Mansor Othman (2,852), and Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrisnan (2,080).
Among those trailing behind are Selangor executive councillor Dr Xavier Jayakumar (1,679), incumbent vice president R. Sivarasa (1,553), R. Suresh Kumar (1,237), and Selangor executive councillor Yahya Sahri (1,178).
In the race for central leadership council posts, Badrul Amin is leading comfortably with 3,087 votes, followed by Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong (2,582), Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul (2,572), and Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian (2,174).
A total of 132 candidates are vying for 20 central leadership council posts.
Polling will resume at 11 divisions in Sabah on Nov 6, and another nine divisions in the state on Nov 7.
A total of 81 divisions in Kedah, Kelantan, Penang, Wilayah Persekutuan, Johor, Selangor, Terengganu, Sabah, Melaka, Perak, Sarawak and Putrajaya will hold meetings will hold polling on the third weekend starting from Nov 12 to Nov 14.
The final lap of polling will be at 42 divisions in Johor, Selangor, Sarawak, and Sabah on Nov 20 and Nov 21.
PKR Congress is scheduled from Nov 26 to Nov 28.
|RPK - what took so long and why now?|
The ruling was made after the parties told the apex court that the two-year old detention order had lapsed.
Raja Petra was detained under the Internal Security Act for 56 days but in November 2008 Shah Alam High Court Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad allowed his habeas corpus application saying that the Home Minister had acted outside his powers.
The judge had held that although a Section 8 detention order barred judicial review, a procedural non-compliance by the Minister had resulted in making the order “ultra vires”.
Then Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid appealed the Shah Alam High Court decision. - Star
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is the wife of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, on Monday, high-level diplomatic sources toldMalaysia Chronicle.
The move will be cheered by supporters of the Pakatan Rakyat, even though they had hoped that the U.S. leader would have more time to meet up with the rest of the opposition team.
She is due to leave for Papua New Guinea on Wednesday after a series of meetings with Malaysian government officials on Tuesday.
"Given the enormous pressure placed on Mrs Clinton, we appreciate that she has refused to back off from meeting the opposition. It will mean a lot to democracy-loving Malaysians," a Pakatan source told Malaysia Chronicle.
Pakatan Rakyat is Malaysia's first meaningful opposition in 5 decades and has an even chance of wresting the federal government in the next general election. Since 1957, the country has been ruled by Prime Minister Najib Razak's Umno-BN.
Pakatan is led by Anwar, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh, and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party’s Hadi Awang and Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
|Teoh - a national battle cry for justice|
Pakatan Rakyat leaders condemned the police and the MCA for bad faith in arresting Teoh Lee Lan, the sister of the late Beng Hock, for distributing pamphlets in Galas containing information about the high number of suspicious and unexplained deaths under government remand.
The MCA or Malaysian Chinese Association is part of the ruling BN coalition and has often been accused of betraying the community it says it represents for the sake of retaining favor with Umno, which is Prime Minister Najib Razak’s party.
“This is clear manifestation of the desperation felt by Umno. We have reason to believe that they and their BN running dogs instigated the police to arrest Beng Hock’s sister,” Bukit Gantang MP and PAS central committee member Nizar Jamaluddin told Malaysia Chronicle.
“The Chinese support for BN is fast dwindling and if there anyone left who still thinks the MCA can stand up for Malaysian Chinese, they must be hallucinating. Not only has the MCA shut the door on the injustice suffered by Beng Hock, no one even seems surprised that they can report his sister to the police. Imagine, just a day before that, MCA supporters even assaulted his brother in law!"
MCA terrified of Umno
A by-election is taking place in Galas, where PAS contestant Dr Dzulkefli Mohamad is pitted in a straight fight against Umno’s Abdul Aziz Yusof. It is a small constituency of some 10,330 voters, of which 22.3 percent are Chinese, 65 percent Malay, 11 percent Orang Asli and about 2 percent Indian.
|Lee Lan in black t-shirt|
“Leafleting or even campaigning is not illegal. Why can’t the BN leaders hear what Lee Lan and her group wish to say? What is the MCA so afraid of? This is just a group of youths who want to highlight the injustice done to Beng Hock,” PKR information chief Latheefa Koya told Malaysia Chronicle.
“But the truth is the MCA is terrified of Umno. It dares not to speak out. It doesn’t even dare to be seen as sympathizing with Beng Hock’s family, what more the issue of high remand deaths.”
Leafleting, even campaigning is not illegal
Beng Hock was a 30-year old Selangor political officer when he died in suspicious circumstances in 2009 after overnight interrogation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. His family believes he was tortured and died as a result of rough interrogation by the MACC, which was trying to hang a string of corruption allegations on top Pakatan Rakyat leaders in Selangor. Umno has been accused of hatching the plot and instigating the MACC probe in a bid to topple the Pakatan Selangor state government.
|Teoh's brother-in-law roughed up by MCA supporters|
“The police have clearly abused their power. They can only arrest people when there has been public unrest or nuisance not when people exercise their rights to express grievances. Election Offences Act Section 4A has no relevance in this case,” Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham toldMalaysia Chronicle.
Police have said they acted on complaints that the group was engaged in campaigning activities, in contravention of Section 4A (1) of the Election Offences Act. They arrested Lee Lan and three others but denied them the right to legal representation. All four were later released following the ensuing public outcry.
”The plainclothes police stopped us; they said the (death in) custody issue will affect security, and that we can't speak openly. But I said these figures on custodial deaths are from Hisham (Home Minister) in Parliament, even the press reported it,” Malaysiakini reported Lee Lan as saying on Sunday.
"We want to see our lawyer, but our demands have been denied. What did we do? Did we affect the election?"
|Clinton, Gillard - two of the world's most powerful women|
As news of Prime Minister Najib Razak's chicken-pox spreads, speculation is rife his government is trying to pressure U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from meeting Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
So far, Clinton is scheduled to address civil society groups at a function where Pakatan Rakyat leaders were also widely expected to have been invited.
Meanwhile, according to foreign news reports, Muhyiddin will step in for Najib in greeting the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today, while Foreign Minister Anifah Aman is likely to welcome Clinton on Tuesday.
Malaysia Chronicle appends the news report on the changes in plans
Malaysian PM Najib ill ahead of key meetings: spokesmen
KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak has taken ill with signs of chickenpox and may be unable to meet visiting dignitaries this week, official spokesmen said late Sunday.
Najib is scheduled to meet Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard Monday and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday, after all three attended the ASEAN summit in Hanoi at the weekend.
Government media adviser Jalaludin Bahaudin told state media Najib felt unwell and had developed rashes, muscular aches and joint pains on the last day of the ASEAN summit.
"On arrival in Kuala Lumpur today, he showed early signs of chickenpox and was immediately started on appropriate treatment," Jalaludin said.
Jalaludin told AFP that the visits by Gillard and Clinton to Kuala Lumpur were expected to go ahead despite Najib's illness.
"The visits are still on. The Australian Prime Minister is in Malaysia and our deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will take the PM's place at Monday's meetings," he said.
"We are still working on what will happen with Clinton's visit but the foreign minister will most likely stand in and that visit should also take place," he added.
Jalaludin told state media that Najib had immediately begun receiving "appropriate treatment" for chickenpox after his return to Kuala Lumpur.
"As medication was started early, the prime minister has responded well," he added.
The Australian High Commission and the US Embassy could not be reached for comment.
In the latest of Perkasa moves, its Petaling chairperson, Zainal Abidin Ahmad, lodged a police report against a Protestant church in Shah Alam and its pastor for planning to stage a Christian play during Ramadan. “We want the church and pastor to be investigated for sedition and for insulting the Sultan,” Zainal Abidin told The Malaysian Insider on 17 Aug 2010. Zainal Abidin also accused the church of deliberately attempting to preach Christianity to Muslims in Muslim-majority Shah Alam.
We may be lulled into thinking that the issue at hand is limited to a Malay, and hence Muslim, rights group making wild and curious allegations against non-Muslim, non-Malay Malaysians. If only that were the case. Unfortunately, much more is involved. Indeed, what is really at stake is the control of public space and what it means for all of us.
My space, not anyone else’s
What Perkasa’s actions boil down to in Shah Alam is this. It’s saying that because it’s Ramadan and because Shah Alam is a Muslim-majority suburb, no other faith group is allowed to practise freedom of religion, expression or association. If they do, they can be cited for sedition, insulting the Malay ruler, and the crime of proselytising to Muslims.
I suspect that the citations of sedition etc are just a means of asserting control and power. By making out non-Malay non-Muslims to be criminals of the highest order, it becomes that much easier for lesser-thinking members of the public to believe that non-Muslims deserve to have their constitutional rights denied.
We may dismiss Zainal Abidin, and even Perkasa as a whole, as lunatic. That would be a mistake. Because Zainal Abidin and Perkasa are not the only ones who want complete control of public space, and who use a particular version of Islam to exert that control. Additionally, they are not the only players in town who do this at the expense of the rights and freedoms of other citizens.
Let us remember that before Perkasa started making the headlines, the national censors in 2005 banned the movie Babe because it starred a pig, considered haram in Islam, as the lead character. Following that, anecdotes from parents tell us that in some schools, non-Muslims children are told what they can and cannot pack in their lunch boxes in deference to Muslim sensitivities.
Over in Section 6, Petaling Jaya, the local mosque has no qualms blaring the terawih prayers till late at night at decibels that are inconsiderate to the neighbourhood.
And let us also remember PAS’s own moves to define what can and cannot be done in the public domain. Everytime PAS Youth calls for a concert ban, what it’s effectively doing is telling all those — Muslims and non-Muslims — whose faith would not be threatened by attending a live concert, that they cannot because PAS says so. Similarly, when Selangor PAS tried to ban the sale of beer in Muslim-majority areas in the state, what the party is saying is that the lifestyle of all non-Muslims must be subservient to those of some Muslims.
And so the proscriptions on public spaces don’t just include what a Protestant church is allowed to do during Ramadan. It also affects the food our children are allowed to consume in schools, the drinks non-Muslims can buy in their neighbourhood, the movies and concerts and words we are allowed to watch and hear, the gifts we can redeem at a pharmacy, and the airwaves in our neighbourhood.
The bottomline? Public space is no longer everyone’s space. It’s theirs — those Malay Muslims who believe that their imagined sensitivities alone give them the right to deny others access and use of public spaces.
The biggie of all proscriptions in the current Malaysian context is of course, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s ban of the words “Allah”, “solat”, “Kaabah” and “Baitullah” among non-Muslims.
Even though Muslims don’t own copyright to these Arabic words, the BN government is asserting that these words belong to Muslims, and Muslims alone. Particularly Malaysian Muslims who apparently are prone to being confused should another faith community use the same words.
The ban on “Allah” and the three other words is no different from what Perkasa is doing in Shah Alam. A publicly-used word, like publicly-shared spaces, only belongs to Muslims. It’s as if these Muslim state and non-state actors are declaring, “Our space, not anyone else’s. Our word, not anyone else’s.”
And because their demands have no historical, cultural or legal legitimacy, they resort to demonising non-Muslims, accusing them of crimes and ill-intentions. And they use the powers of the state to impose and enforce ownership over “our space” and “our word”.
And so the biggie isn’t that our political landscape is littered more and more with irrational demands and wild allegations from certain Malay Muslim quarters. The biggie is that increasingly, there are more and more concerted attempts by these forces, which include the Umno-led federal government, to take over shared public spaces.
What’s the limit?
Already, non-Muslims are constantly being told to defer to the sensitivities of some Muslims. At the rate Muslim “sensitivities” are paraded about, one would think Muslims lived their lives like exposed nipples, ever excitable. When the truth is, we know that Muslims are thinking, rational human beings who belonged to one of the most historically advanced civilisations.
To be certain, there is a need to be respectful of different customs and belief systems. But “Muslim sensitivities” cannot and must not be the measure by which a non-Muslim citizen is denied the right to eat pork, watch a movie or use “Allah”. If we allowed that to happen, we would be a nation where behaving like an exposed nipple trumps constitutional rights to freedom of religion, assembly, association and expression. – TNG