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Friday, September 30, 2011

Malaysian Insider hails Chin Peng as 'warrior'

Chin Peng is a 'warrior' in the eyes of the Malaysian Insider. He is also a freedom fighter, according to an article written by Shazwan Mustafa Kamal.

The former leader of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) is reported to be very ill. Ong Boon Hua a.k.a Chin Peng is critically ill and was admitted to a top Bangkok private hospital on Wednesday. He turns 87 on October 21 (here).

It is understood that family members and close friends, including those from Malaysia, have been asked to visit him.

Ong, whose communist-given name once earned him infamy as the country’s “Public Enemy No. 1”, first filed to sue the ruling BN government in 2005 for making him out to be a ruthless villain, but lost in the High Court here in September 2009.

The High Court dismissed Ong’s case on grounds he was a member of an illegal party and could not take it to court. It ruled the case was not a breach of contract, as argued, but a defamation suit and the federal government had done no wrong by remarking on a historical event.

"The Court of Appeal struck out the ageing warrior’s bid on July 27, 2010," according to the Malaysian Insider.

PAS deputy-president Mat Sabu had recently become a subject of criticism for picturing the communist insurgents who attacked the Bukit Kepong police station during the Emergency as heroes.

The police has taken statements from him last week and charged him for criminal defamation.


Why Indonesia cannot stop the fires and haze

An interesting article by Francis Ng, the former deputy director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.
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Why Indonesia cannot stop the fires and haze

Some years ago, I travelled from Pontianak into the centre of South Kalimantan during the burning season in a hired car.

We drove many hours through a country that was completely covered in fire and smoke, but mostly smoke. It was a strange experience, not at all like what we had expected. It was quite safe to drive even though the fires were burning right up to the roadsides. There were people living among the burning vegetation in little huts all along the way, spaced out at wide intervals and carrying on as if everything was normal. No property was damaged and no lives were lost. Here and there a small flame would flare up but only for a short time and then the vegetation would continue to smoulder. These so-called forest fires were not at all like the life-threatening forest fires of Australia, the United States, and the Mediterranean. What was going on?

Our driver told us the story. The huts were occupied by settlers who were the children of the original Transmigrasi migrants from Java. Their parents had been shipped in by the government to occupy land schemes sponsored by the government. These land schemes were like the Felda schemes in Malaysia, on land cleared from forests. That was one generation ago. The children of these land schemes were now spreading out all over Kalimantan and clearing land for themselves.

The custom in Kalimantan is that any land cleared and occupied belongs to whoever clears and occupies it. Any land that reverts back to jungle is open to others to clear and claim. As a result, each settler clears as much land as possible although he is able to farm only a small part of it. The rest would revert back to jungle but is prevented from doing so by fires set by the settlers themselves whenever the weather is dry. So the same land is burnt year after year after year. These are fires on low vegetation, deliberately set by hundreds of thousands of independent poor farmers who barely survive from hand to mouth, living in absolutely primitive conditions. When will it end? When somebody buys the land and converts it to permanent organised agriculture, as for growing oil palm. The land that the settlers clear and claim represent their only hope of escape from poverty.

The timber industry could be blamed because in logging, they create roads into the forests and leave behind the dead branches and leaves that can be set on fire in the first round of burning. The oil palm industry can be blamed if it gives the settlers hope by ultimately buying land that has been cleared and repeatedly burnt. But it is ultimately the social conditions in the country that are responsible for this state of affairs.

If Malaysia did not have a strict land-ownership system whereby people could legally own land in perpetuity or for specified periods, we would quickly see a land grab and total disappearance of all our forests, followed by annual fires to keep land cleared. Our land laws were established and enforced by the British when they had absolute power to do so, in the name of the sultans. It would be difficult for countries without such laws to establish and enforce such laws now.

After that drive into the interior of Kalimantan, I visited the peat areas near the coast. These areas were also heavily covered in smoke, to the extent that the airport had to be closed, but the concept here was different. The fires were set by Bugis rice farmers from Sulawesi who had cleared the forests by fire after their gigantic ramin trees had been extracted by loggers. The peat is many metres deep and unsuitable for growing rice, so the farmers grow pineapples and other acid-tolerant plants. Every year, during the dry season, they set the peat on fire and burn of a part of it. Eventually, after about 10 years, all the peat will be burnt off and they will be able to grow rice on mineral soil.

The annual fires in Kalimantan and, I assume in Sumatra also, are not spontaneous forest fires but deliberate agricultural fires started and kept alive by hundreds of thousands of peasant farmers. Solutions like sending in the fire brigade, or raising the penalty for oil palm growers and loggers for setting forests on fire, sound good on paper but does not come anywhere near to addressing the issues.

I cannot help but suspect that the real reasons for the fires and haze were known long ago by people on the ground, but it served the purpose of the international environmental NGOs and the international news agencies to put the blame on their favourite baddies the logging and oil palm industries. So long as the problem is not examined honestly, no implementable solution is likely to be found.


Botanist and researcher Francis Ng is the former deputy director-general of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. He is now the botanical consultant to Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.


Monyet King says
Francis Ng has illustrated the problem very well, especially in his last paragraph. (of course, you should not rely on his words alone. Go and read what others have got to say as well)

We need examine problems honestly and holistically - particularly from the perspective of global sustainability. One of the greatest disservice greenies do to the environment is romantisization of the threats. Many greenies like to romanticize things - they do not rely on data nor their arguements have scientific basis.

Most of the time they mean well but simply do not have the facts or sufficient knowledge on the subject matter. So they go around, with the rest of the blurry mob, screaming "down with palm oil", "down with Lynas", "down with GMO", down with this and that, etc. The situation is also made worse by their inability to look at global sustainability. Well, most people are unable to do this - simply because they cannot think beyond their own backyard, their own village, town or country. Many things which appear as a threat at the local level may be crucial for sustainability at the global level. Things which seems very environment-friendly at the local level may become a major threat to nature conservation if expanded to the global scale.

My point : our arguments need to be honest. Think about global sustainability, not just about your pet subject. NIMBY mentality is not good for global sustainability, regardless who does it. Many greenies are a great disservice to nature conservation because they never do their homework.

Posted by Monyet King

Do away with race statistics, EC urged

PKR says candidates should be chosen based on their track record, qualifications and capabilities.

BALIK PULAU: PKR has urged the Election Commission (EC) to omit race statistics from all the electoral seats.

This would show Malaysia’s strength as a unified and progressive nation instead of categorising each other by race or religion, PKR supreme council member Yusmadi Yusoff said.

Yusmadi, who is the Balik Pulau MP, said the omission of race in the demographic statistics of each seat, either state or parliament, would also effectively eradicate the politics of using race or religion in this country.

He said he would lobby for Pakatan Rakyat – of which PKR is a partner – to take up the campaign to remove race figures in the electoral seats.

Currently, the EC inserts race demographics in each seat.

Although they are not openly distributed, such figures are readily available to all political parties, which naturally planned their strategies and field their candidates along ethnic lines.

Yusmadi said once the definition of race and religion is removed, voters can witness the birth of more competent candidates, whose abilities are defined by their track record, qualifications and capabilities.

“One day, we want to see a Chinese leader elected in a predominantly Malay constituency or vice-versa. That leader is elected based on his or her capabilities and not, on his or her race.”

Perhaps one day DAP leaders Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng can contest in Malay seats unlike now where in their entire careers as politicians, they had only contested in Chinese seats, he said.

Shoring up support

Yusmadi said it would be too late for the EC to initiate any changes now but his proposal can be adopted as a Pakatan centrepiece in future elections.

“If the United States took centuries to elect a black man (Barack Obama) as its president, I can see that one day, Malaysia would be a nation governed on socio-economic needs of the people and not on the needs of races or religions.”

Yusmadi said this when responding to a call by a NGO – Penang Malay Congress – for DAP to field at least five Malay candidates in the next election because it fears that the Malay political voice would be diluted if both PKR and Umno leaders are defeated in the next polls in Penang.

Yusmadi said Penang – a highly diversified state in terms of race, culture and historical significance – should do away with race politics and focus on the capabilities of its leaders.

Meanwhile, the state would witness a hectic weekend with PKR, DAP and PAS holding major events to shore up support ahead of a perceived snap election.

PKR is hosting a development seminar for the Malay community in Balik Pulau, where its supremo Anwar Ibrahim would attend.

DAP is holding a fundraising dinner at the Straits Quay where Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah, Karpal’s son Gobind Singh and many others will speak.

All of PAS top leaders would gather at Kepala Batas to mark the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Islamist party.

Issues such as hudud and Guan Eng’s apology to the Sultan of Johor are expected to take centre stage.

Chin Peng reportedly in critical condition

Malaysia's former communist party leader Chin Peng is reportedly in critical condition after being warded at a hospital in Thailand where he is based.

chin peng interview 021209 02According to Chinese daily Sin Chew northern edition, Chin Peng was sent to the hospital two days ago.

According to the report, the doctor has asked for close members of Chin Peng's family to visit him as soon as possible, including those residing in Malaysia.

It is understood that Chin Peng has sought medical treatment frequently over the past two months.

Chin Peng will be 87 on Oct 21.

[More to follow]

Illegals on the rise, special task force silent

Sabah's demographic landscape has been infused with a new 'Melayu' race, which is overtaking the native Bajaus and Irranuns.

COMMENT

Decades after its inception, Sabahans are now asking what has happened to the Federal Special Task Force for Sabah and Labuan (FSTF), set up in Sabah with the aim of rounding up illegal immigrants and cleansing the state of them.

The FSTF in Sabah, set up during the premiership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has completely avoided the media in the past years.

It has not issued any statements or disclosed its progress reports on what it had achieved so far on its assigned task.

And no one has ever asked if the FSTF is still around for the same functions.

Ten years ago, the FSTF was touted by federal leaders as the answer to solving the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

Almost every few weeks it churned out reports of progress on its task in rounding up illegal immigrants, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

At that time, de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz told Parliament that there were about 100,000 of the illegals in Sabah.

But now the number of illegal immigrants in Sabah, according to some, have sky-rocketed to 1.5 million!

Natives becoming a minority

Whither the FSTF?

“It has become a big problem to the natives of Sabah, the genuine ones,” said Eric Majimbun, deputy president of opposition Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).

Majimbun, at a SAPP talk at Kampung Mantanau in Kota Belud recently, disclosed government statistics that revealed something had been done to change the demographic landscape of Sabah whereby a new “Melayu” race, which had always been a tiny population in Sabah, is overtaking the always much bigger number of Bajaus and Irranuns.

Together, the Melayu, the Bajaus and Irranuns and other smaller Muslim communities have “swallowed” up the Kadazandusun-Muruts group which had always been the single biggest majority race in Sabah.

Currently, the Kadazandusun-Murut (including Muslims) are estimated at 800,000.

Majimbun, who is also Sepanggar MP, said bona-fide Sabahan natives are being eliminated and reduced to becoming a minority to ensure the hegemony of a political party from the peninsula that thrived on race superiority and religious sentiments.

“In the statistics report, we still have the Bajaus and Irranuns, but we can see a sudden jump in the number of ‘Melayu’ in Sabah,” he said.

“They had multiplied very quickly in such a very big percentage, maybe over 200 percent, in a matter of few years,” he added.

Who is the real Sabahan?

Where are these people from? “This is a big question for us,” Majimbun said to a shocked audience.

He said that SAPP in its effort to differentiate bona-fide Sabahans from the illegal immigrants, would introduce Sabah identity cards to its own citizens if it forms the state government.

“Through this effort, at least we know who are the real Sabahans and who are not,” he added.

Meanwhile, a check with old records showed that in 2001, the FSTF had revealed there were 17,580 foreign children studying in Sabah schools, but it claimed then they were offspring of foreigners with legal status.

If indeed true they were offspring of legal foreigners, then what about those of real illegal immigrants?

What is going on in the three temporary detention centres in Kota Kinabalu, Sadakan and Tawau all these years?

Huge numbers of new ‘Melayu’

In 2001, PBS deputy president Dr Maximus Ongkili, then in the opposition, said it was unbelievable that there should be such a huge number of foreign students whose parents comprised employees of foreign consulates and multi-national companies, refugees and registered migrant workers.

“The explanation doesn’t make sense. How many foreign consulates and multi-national companies do we have in Sabah?” Ongkili asked.

“And why are registered foreign workers allowed to stay in Sabah that long until their offspring are of school-going age?”

Ongkili said even those classified as refugees are questionable because even after 20 years, they were still regarded as refugees.

“It is ridiculous that years after the civil war had ended in the southern Philippines and a decade after the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] has officially closed its operation in Sabah, there are still these so-called ‘Filipino refugees’ in the state.”

That was in 2001, what about now? There are claims that institutions of higher learning in Sabah are full of these so-called “Melayu”.

In fact, they are now given preference for employment in government offices over the other natives.

Such is the pathetic situation of the real natives in Sabah now; it bleeds our hearts to know.

Nik Aziz adamant hudud will rule Kelantan

Despite all that said and done about the hudud law, PAS is still bent on creating an Islamic state.

COMMENT

As fas as PAS spiritual guru Nik Abdul Aziz ik Mat is concerned, his plans to implement hudud law in Kelantan is very much alive.

This is despite him not seeing eye to eye on the hudud issue with his Pakatan colleagues. DAP chairman Karpal Singh has made it clear that DAP would spare no efforts to thwart the implementation of hudud law in Malaysia.

“From the very beginning, DAP has also made known its opposition against any attempts by PAS and others to turn the country into an Islamic state.

“Let me make it very clear: hudud is not in line with the Federal Constitution and therefore it is unconstitutional,” Karpal told FMT when commenting on the outcome of the Sept 28 meeting involving the Pakatan Rakyat top brass to discuss the hudud issue.

Hudud as practised in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is the Islamic penal code that prescribes punishments such as stoning adulterers to death and amputating the hands of thieves.

PAS, which has been ruling Kelantan since 1990, had in fact passed the hudud laws but they were never enforced as the federal government had deemed it unconstitutional and threatened legal action if Kelantan ever enforced it.

Eventhough PAS leaders were adamant (about implementing Islamic laws), DAP said Karpal was equally firm in its opposition.

“You can’t have Islamic laws in a secular state; it’s as simple as that,” said Karpal.

He pointed out that the Supreme Court led by the then Lord President Mohamed Salleh Abas had declared that the country was a secular state in a landmark decision on a case in 1988.

A closed chaper for DAP

DAP is firm that it will not be brow-beaten into changing its stand on the hudud law.

As far as DAP is concerned, the hudud issue is a closed chapter. But not so for Nik Aziz. The spiritual adviser of PAS has concluded that the Sept 28 meeting has made it clear that the opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat respects Kelantan’s desire to incorporate the hudud law in its syariah law.

The only obstacle as Nik Aziz sees it is the federal government supported by Umno.

DAP votes a “No” to hudud but Nik Aziz says he is willing to wait until a consent is reached on this matter.

PAS is still tied to the policies it agreed to share with Pakatan in the Orange Book (Buku Jingga) apart from the provisions in the Federal Constitution.

Is there some sort of confusion that is shrouding Nik Aziz’s thinking, because Karpal has set the record straight by saying hudud was unconstitutional and is not welcomed in any part of Malaysia, with Kelantan being no exception?

So, how did Nik Aziz, an 80-year-old seasoned politician, reason that his Pakatan colleagues respect his intention to implement the hudud laws? Was a “politically correct” message relayed to this spiritial guru instead of the blunt reality, which is that DAP is all willing to wage a war against PAS should Kelantan proceed with its hudud law plans?

Nik Aziz is optimistic that the hudud law will someday take shape in Kelantan. Where is this optimism coming from?

When Pakatan adviser Anwar Ibrahim on Sept 22 remarked that he supported the hudud law, that took the issue of the hudud law back to square one.

“For now, in general, in principle, I believe this can be implemented,” Anwar had told reporters.

“It is a specific area that affects Muslims and does not impeach the rights of non-Muslims. The proceeding makes sure that the administration of justice is guaranteed,” he was quoted as saying by a local online media.

Playing the devil’s advocate

In an immediate reaction to Anwar’s initial comment on hudud, Karpal said: “The punishments for these offences are flogging 100 times for intercourse between an unmarried couple, stoning to death for adultery, amputation of hand for theft, death for apostasy, flogging 40 times for alcohol consumption, flogging 80 times for false accusation of adultery and death by sword or crucifixion for highway robbery.”

A day later, Anwar made an about-turn and said his comment on hudud was made in his personal capacity and had no relation to Pakatan.

It does look like Nik Aziz is not about to go to his grave without first putting in place the hudud law. The “call a spade a spade” religious apostle has a very clear vision of the hudud taking shape in Kelantan. His adversaries, as they will always remain, are the federal government of Barisan Nasional and the DAP.

Umno, taking advantage of this messy situation, played the devil’s advocate, belittling PAS by accusing it of neglecting its Islamic agenda and pandering to its non-Muslim Pakatan Rakyat partners.

Making matters worse was former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent challenge to Nik Aziz to go ahead and implement the hudud law.

In the face of all this, it is best that all differing thoughts on the hudud law where Pakatan and PAS are concerned are buried for good. For should the differences in opinion persist, the price Pakatan would eventually end up paying is going to be great, keeping in mind the coming general election and Pakatan’s vision to call the shots from Putrajaya, the nation’s administrative hub.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has adopted the “silence is golden” move on the hudud issue. But his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin said Umno supported hudud laws in principle.

“In the context of a multiracial and multi-religious society, we should spread that knowledge (of hudud laws) widely before we can reach a stage where we think it’s time, but I don’t believe we’re there yet,” Muhyiddin was quoted by an online news website as saying.

"Low culture" Najib tries to claim credit for Guan Eng's Johor apology:

"Low culture" Najib tries to claim credit for Guan Eng's Johor apology:

Prime Minister Najib Razak is the latest to join the BN bandwagon attacking Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for allegedly implying that Johor was not safe. But pundits accused the PM of being "unpleasant", "uncharitable" and "hypocritical" and trying to steal the thunder from his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassan.

The 58-year-old Najib had on Friday night accused Guan Eng of apologizing only because he had no choice.

“We have the recording, which makes it difficult for him to deny what he did. If he could deny it, he would not have apologised,” Bernama reported Najib as saying.

His comments raised heckles amongst Pakatan Rakyat supporters.

"It is very disappointing, very unpleasant and uncharitable of him to say such things. One would have expected higher standards from the PM. Maybe he felt inadequate compared to Muhyiddin, who was the first to fire off at Guan Eng. Now Najib sees Guan Eng's apology, he wants to cut the glory from Muhyiddin," Eddie Wong, a PKR veteran told Malaysia Chronicle.

Pakatan leaders also said at least Guan Eng was "big enough" to apologize, whereas till today, Najib had yet to apologize to the Malaysian people for ordering the police to fire tear gas and acid water at the Bersih supporters during their July 9 rally for free and fair elections. They also said Najib should not try to hide behind his proposal to repeal the ISA because that would be replaced by two new laws.

Nasty warlords

Guan Eng was alleged to have made the remarks at a Correspondents Club of Singapore luncheon last month. A transcript of his speech, released on the Internet, quoted him as saying: “You don't have to worry about your safety when you come to Penang. In Johor, if you are a Singaporean, you are likely to get kidnapped.”

Guan Eng has also said he made the comment during a private event. While he apologized, he did not admit to making the remark and said he needed time to check in which context he allegedly made the comment.

"Out of respect to the Johor Sultan, I wish to fully apologise to the Johor Sultan and his subjects, the people of Johor. I have no intention whatsoever to discredit Johor or any other state,” Guan Eng told a press conference on Friday afternoon.

The Sultan had said he felt "hurt" by the comments, while a group of Umno-linked NGOs had threatened Guan Eng. They warned him to stay out of Johor. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Johor Umno chief, had demanded an apology.

Political observers widely believe that the latest Umno-led attack against Guan Eng was a BN ploy to get the Johore people angry with the Pakatan Rakyat ahead of snap general elections, widely expected to be called in November.

"Apart from doing the right thing, it also makes political sense to apologize and nip in the bud any fallout from the incident. But to apologize is difficult for the Umno warlords to comprehend and this may be why they were stumped and Najib responded in such a low culture way," said Eddie.

Malaysia Chronicle