Adviser Ganesan says the movements anti-racism campaign is “very much alive”.
GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi has castigated the Home Minister and other Barisan Nasional leaders for equating the foiling of Sunday’s protest march with the movement’s alleged loss of popularity.
Hindraf advisor N Ganesan said the conclusion was ludicrous and reflected only BN’s wishful thinking.
BN leaders were in denial and should stop insulting the intelligence of ordinary Malaysians, he added.
“Popularity and support cannot be accurately adjudged by the size of the crowd,” he told FMT.
“Furthermore, it was the police dragnet that prevented the crowd from getting bigger.
“But Hindraf’s anti-racism campaign is very much alive.”
Ganesan was commenting on claims by several BN leaders, including Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, that Hindraf had lost support among Malaysian Indians.
They said this was the reason that police succeeded in preventing the march from KLCC.
Scores of Hindraf activists, including legal adviser P Uthayakumar, national coordinator W Sambulingam and Ganesan himself, were detained in a pre-demonstration police crackdown on Sunday morning.
Police also arrested Indian men and women found around KLCC.
“The real measurement of popularity is whether the people believe in Hindraf’s struggle,” Ganesan said.
Because of the police clampdown, he said, no one could now say for sure how many people actually turned up for the march.
Many protestors on their way to KLCC turned back after hearing that police had foiled the protest, he claimed.
Five activists arrested today
The massive deployment of police against the protest exposed Umno’s fear of the movement, he said.
“If we lack support, why should the Umno government initiate such a massive security operation to halt our peaceful march?”
But the crackdown had not dampened Hindraf’s fighting spirit, he said.
“Indeed, it is a morale booster for the movement to intensify its struggle to get the novel Interlok off the school shelves.”
He said Hindraf was not against the novel remaining in bookshops because it respected freedom of expression.
But, he stressed, the movement was against the book being in schools because it would further the cause of racists.
He described the book as “shallow”, and said it distorted historical and cultural facts and was a symbol of Umno racism.
He said Hindraf would continue to galvanise the people to rise and vote out the “racist Umno government”.
Meanwhile in another development, five Hindraf activists, including spokesman S Jayathas, were arrested in Kuala Lumpur today and are expected to be charged later at the Selayang magistrate’s court over their participation in the Sunday rally. - FMT
Merlimau's fishermen are casting their hopes on the sea rather than on the government for their survival.
MERLIMAU: Tan Chai Lai, 56, doesn’t have much in life. But every afternoon he lugs a bulging blue garbage bag of cooked rice and chicken to the Merlimau jetty to feed the village stray cats.
On that particularly blistering afternoon he was squatting at his usual spot and scooping out handfuls of food to the mewling felines around him as his fellow villagers watched in amusement.
“This man has a big heart for animals,” shouted a villager crossing the bridge above. “He even feeds my cat!”
Tan laughed and shouted back, “God takes care of those who take care of his creations!”
Unfortunately God’s other creations in the village of Merlimau Pantai aren’t being looked after with as much care.
Merlimau Pantai is about 10km from Merlimau town.
The tiny village is home to 50 fishermen and their families. For every day that is kissed by fair weather, the fishermen push out to sea, often as far out as 10 nautical miles or 55km, in their battered wooden boats.
Each departure yields an uncertain return for unforeseen rough waves can smash the old boats to pieces. But they have no choice if they want to earn the average monthly income of RM450.
The sunburnt Tan, who is fondly known as Teko among his community, flashed a big rueful grin at the mention of government aid. “You know how the government boasts of Malacca being a developed state?” he asked as glanced around. “Do you see any development here? It’s a desolate, isolated place.”
“We are a forgotten community. The only improvement was last week when the road leading here was repaved. But that’s because of the by-election. Otherwise we’re not on the government’s radar.”
Tan fishes and repairs boats to make ends meet as there isn’t any government allocation to resolve the common problems of sunken boats and stolen or broken engines. There also isn’t an allocation for extra boats needed by some fishermen who want to expand their trade.
“Before Merlimau had its own State Legislative Assembly seat, it fell under the Sungai Rambai and Jasin constituency. But neither the assemblyman nor the MP showed his face here.”
(The former Sungai Rambai assemblyman, Ahmad Ithinin, is the late father of the BN candidate, Roslan Ahmad.)
“The only person who tried to do something for us was (the late Merlimau assemblyman) Mohammad Hidhir (Abu Hassan),” Tan added. “At least he asked the state government for the allocations. But he died before any change could take place.”
Neither the BN nor PAS contingent had dropped by his village yet and when they do Tan won’t be pushing for these changes.
“I’m just tired of asking,” he shrugged. “We’ve been let down so many times that it’s easier to not ask and not receive. Anyway they wouldn’t step foot here if it wasn’t for the by-election.”
Yet there are others who are waiting for the parties to arrive to express the full extent of their frustration to both parties.
“It’s time the politicians did something for our community,” growled Mat Nor Boyak, 55. “Nothing has changed in my 15 years of fishing except the price of boats and engines.”
“The fishermen’s fund is rubbish as is the fisherman’s society. The only applications that are immediately approved are bank loans so everyone is in debt here.”
A decent boat, he said, cost RM5,000. When fitted with an engine and filled with nets, the cost could sky-rocket to RM15,000. The monthly instalments took RM200 out of their paycheques. So Mat Nor has prepared two proposals for Roslan and PAS candidate Yuhaizad Abdullah.
“Right now we are given a subsidy of 35 litres of petrol for RM43.75,” he explained. “But this is like winning a consolation prize. It’s not good enough. Give us 20 litres for free instead. That would help us more.”
“And instead of building bridges and houses, give each fisherman an allocation. Come back after a year and see if they have put that money to good use. If they have, continue helping them. If they haven’t, strike them off the list.” Azmi Khamis, 46, who has been a fisherman for 30 years, shared his fear of the industry dying a slow and inevitable death.
“Most of the older fishermen are discouraging their sons from following in their footsteps because they know that their children will continue living hand to mouth,” he said while untangling the nets in his boat.
“And the luckier youths have found jobs in factories outside this village. So one day there will no more fishermen in Merlimau.”
Evening was approaching and the men were keen on getting back to their families. Azmi and Mat Nor bade farewell but Tan picked up a greasy toolkit and trotted down to the row of 60 fishing boats.
He clambered into a particularly old one, took the engine apart and studied it. Then he rummaged in his toolkit and pulled out a spanner.
“This is my boat,” he said with a quick smile. Watching him tinker with the sputtering engine, one can only hope that it will continue bringing him home safely to those who depend on him. - FMT
Employing brute force to crush dissent is not the answer to solve social ills. State terror as an instrument of policy is a poor substitute for reasoned dialogue and level-headed discussion. Beatings, tear gas, boots, truncheons only inflict pain on the body but they can never pulverise the spirit of a people determined to seek justice. In the Arab world, the people have shown dogged resistance against the might of repressive governments and, against all odds, beat back the tide of state-sponsored aggression. They taught the world a lesson in the power of unarmed people to root out uncaring rulers. The state may have an arsenal of weapons at its disposal but they are useless against a popular uprising.
The march against racism on Feb 27 is nothing compared with the days of rage that shook the Arab regimes to the core. But that is beside the point. The fury that drove the people in West Asia to take on the might of the state is no different from the anger that propelled the marginalised minority in Malaysia to brave the wrath of the ominipotent government. Their action may not have inflamed the whole country but they have sent a strong message to the political masters: do not play with the fire of racism. Racial discrimination is abhorrent. It is a poison that can destroy both people and country.
But the leaders are not listening to the strident cry for justice. Or are merely paying lip service. They treat the minority race with contempt as exemplified by the actions of the police who looked upon every Indian on the city streets as enemies of the state. Their ruthless assault on the defenceless protesters is indeed an act of rank racism. The demonstrators were seen as criminals instead of a disadvantaged group who merely wanted to right the wrongs perpetrated on them. Their cause is righteous but the powers that be saw fit to tar and feather them all the same. In their eyes, the marchers were all trouble-makers. They refused to acknowledge the justice of their cause.
Were all those men and women a threat to national security? They certainly were not. They did not attack the institutions of law and order with guns and Molotov cocktails. They did not burn, loot or harm properties or persons. They did not run riot on the streets. They simply gathered peacefully to tell the rulers it is wrong not to remove a much-aligned book from the schools and morally wrong to pursue flawed policies that sidelined other races. Their grievances are geniune. Their hurt is deep. But their pleas were lost in the burst of senseless police violence. The robotic police, doing the bidding of their cold political masters, are indeed a menace to the exercise of freedom of expression. The politicians, who listen to their own counsel, represent an even bigger peril to the very institution of democracy. The people including the marginalised group elected them to high office but they have turned the government of the people into a government without the people.
It is unlikely that the political bigwigs will back down from their entrenched position. Power is in their hands and they will do everything to beat down any challenge. They will continue to use the race card given the dominant position of the majority race. In time to come they might even throw overboard all their partners and the rule the waves alone – and become more overbearing. But the country still believes in the benefits of democracy. The spirit of persecution alone cannot sustain the wellbeing of a nation for long. A nation in perpetual strife cannot stand united. Violence will only breed more violence. Only in democracy – and the power of the ballot box – can the poor and downtrodden find the ammunition to topple unjust rulers and end the reign of blind terror.
A general election is looming. It is a crucial battle that will decide the course of the country in the next five years. The marginalised citizens will have the chance to make their stand known loud and clear. They may not carry a big clout but by aligning with forces sympathetic to their cause, they can make a big difference in the outcome. They may even play the role of kingmaker and install a government better suited to the temper of the people. In their thousands they can come out and cast their ballots. They do not require a permit to choose their leaders and there is nothing the police can do to stop them from exercising their rights. If their voice was snuffed out in public, their votes will do them justice in secret. Power that issues from the weapon of suffrage is a better safeguard of liberty than power that comes out of the barrel of a water cannon. - FMT
KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has denied accusations that he will hijack MIC”s RM1 billion education wing, claiming that such allegations were an attempt to divide the party by causing a rift between the former party president and his successor Datuk G. Palanivel.
In a press statement today, the MIED chairman said that the two leaders have constantly discussed matters concerning the Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED) and that the 10 members to be added to the body were all MIC leaders or educationists.
“I wish to deny the allegations made by certain quarters that there are attempts to so-call hijack the MIED from the MIC.
These are merely attempts by desperate and unscrupulous people bent on destroying the MIED and also to destabilize the MIC and cause a rift between me and Palanivel. The MIED will remain part of the MIC,” he said.
“They are all MIC-linked people,” Samy added, referring to the 10 invited to join MIED.
The Malaysian Insider had reported yesterday that the two leaders were heading towards their first open power struggle over the control of MIED which Samy has chaired since it was formed in 1984.
It is understood that the party”s senior leadership is unhappy at the proposal to increase MIED”s membership without first being vetted by the central working committee (CWC).
One committee member, Tan Sri Dr K. S. Nijhar has asked Samy to postpone the board meeting until it has been discussed by the party leadership, the first time that a trustee has protested such a decision.
V. Mugilan, who was sacked as deputy youth chief by Samy last year, also told The Malaysian Insider that a protest will be held on Monday when the MIED board of trustees meets to approve the membership increase.
However, Samy, who stepped down as MIC president last December, claimed today that half of the new members were part of the CWC.
MIED current membership of 34 is empowered to elect the chairman of the 10-strong board of trustees.
It is understood that the board can increase MIED”s membership without limit.
Samy also said that he will instruct his lawyers to take action against those who have made allegations that he was attempting to take full control of MIED.
MIED now manages the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) University that was established in 1996 with MIED funding.
Samy had then said that he had founded MIED and AIMST outside of his capacity as party president. - Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — A toothbrush, mineral water bottle and “good morning” towel were retrieved from Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s holding cell when he was held overnight on July 17, 2008, police officers testified today.
Former superintendent Amidon Anan and DSP Yahya Abdul Rahman said that Anwar, who was detained from July 16- 17 from 11.05pm-12.30pm was the only detainee in the lockup that night.
Yahya, who had escorted Anwar that night along with investigating officer DSP Jude Pereira, said that that the PKR defacto leader was given a government standard-issue toothbrush, towel, toothpaste and a small bar of soap.
The police officer, who works in the serious crimes unit also said that Anwar had been allowed to bring a plastic mineral water bottle and two big towels.
“There was no one else besides Anwar in the cell (that night). He was received in good condition,” said Yahya upon examination by deputy public prosecutor Hanafiah Zakaria.
DNA profiles have so far been obtained from the “good morning” towel, the toothbrush and the mineral water bottle.
Government chemist Nor Aidora Saedon testified last week that graph results showed that there were two main DNA profiles on the evidence samples- that of “Male Y” and that of an unknown DNA profile.
She had already testified on February 23 that the DNA profiles found on the said items matched that of an unknown “Male Y”, whose sperm extracts had been found in Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s anus earlier.
The prosecution will likely attempt to make a link between the items found in Anwar’s cell and the DNA profiles obtained from the said items.
“The officers on duty at the time locked the cell to not let anyone enter, after Anwar had left.
“I saw in the lockup- towel, bottle, toothbrush (which was on the floor),” said Yahya.
Amidon, ex-crime scene investigation (CSI) chief of KL police department testified that once Anwar had left the lockup, he had gone in conducted a forensic examination.
Upon examination, Amidon said that he found a strand of hair, a toothbrush, a “good morning” towel and a Cactus brand mineral water bottle. All item were tagged and marked.
“I was briefed to take away evidence exhibits. I was ordered by OCCI Datuk Khoo Chee Hwa,” said the witness.
Amidon said that he had led a CSI team on June 30, 2008 to analyse two units in Desa Damansara Condominium, where Saiful had alleged to have been sodomised by Anwar.
A single strand of hair was obtained in unit 11-5-1, while a Chinese silk carpet and blanket duvet were taken for DNA profiling.
Pereira was present with Amidon when the forensic analysing of the condominium units took place.
“Items were taken to make DNA profiling, and were given to IO (Pereira) before leaving (the)crime scene,” said Amidon.
The trial will resume this afternoon.
Saiful had complained that Anwar, his ex-boss had sodomised him at a luxury condominium in upper-class Bukit Damansara here on June 26, 2008.
Saiful, now aged 25, has never named anyone else.
Anwar, the 63-year-old PKR de facto leader, is currently facing sodomy charges for the second time in his life.
He has denied the charge, describing it as “evil, frivolous lies by those in power” when the charge was read out to him.
He is charged under section 377B of the Penal Code and can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years’ jail and whipping upon conviction. The trial is taking place 18 months after Anwar was charged in court in August 2008.
He was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet and was later convicted and jailed for both offences.
He was freed in September 2004 and later resurrected his political career by winning back his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a by-election in 2008, which had been held in the interim by his wife.
He led the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, to a historic sweep of five states and 82 parliamentary seats in Election 2008. - Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — An influential Muslim cleric has called for the media to refer to public funds as “taxpayers’ money” instead of “government money” to change the perception that the public is “begging” for handouts from politicians.
Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin wrote in his blog this week that the switch in terminology would help to ensure that governments are not praised for spending public money but for managing public assets well.
“It is as if the public are beggars. And when there is misappropriation or wastage, the public thinks that it is not the government or politicians that have lost money and forget that it is actually their money,” said the former Perlis mufti.
The maverick scholar, who has a large following among Muslims here, said that the term “taxpayers’ money” should be used as any funds spent by either Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Rakyat (PR) governments or the palaces was derived from taxes.
“As such, when the government spends on a project or transfers assets to any party, it should be reported as ‘the government has used taxpayers’ money or public property for this or that project.’
“If there is wastage, it should be said that “the government has wasted taxpayers’ money or damaged public properties, resulting in losses to public funds,” said the Universiti Sains Malaysia professor of Islamic studies.
“This is important so politicians realise that any allocation to the public is not their pocket money or their private property for them to thump their chests proudly. This will avoid the public feeling that they are beggars and politicians forgetting that they are spending public money during their political campaigns,” he added.
Asri also said that the terms “taxpayers’ money, fund or dollar” was often used in the media of developed countries and it helped to avoid carelessness by the government.
The controversial scholar has been critical of politicians using Islam and religious authorities exercising their power to police the behaviour of Muslims.
The Selangor Islamic authority had also charged him last year for preaching without a permit in the state, where Mohd Asri is popular among urban Malays.
The former president of Islamic Da’wah Foundation Malaysia (Yadim) Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad has also sued him for defamation, claiming RM1.5 million in damages. - Malaysian Insider