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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Have the activist betrayed the people in their silence...?

We are still waiting for the promised Local Council Elections...

We are also waiting for the elections of Penghulus, Kampung/Kampung Baru/Taman/Perkampungan Orang Asli heads & committees. This, at least, could be the 1st thing that could be done in all Pakatan Rakyat states. (After all, under the UMNO len BN government, cronnies were generally appointed into all the JKKKK, JKKKT, etc... we do not even know how they get chosen - but these people generally is accepted by the government of the day as the voice of the people in particular areas...Oh yes, that is why the rest of the people (the 'penduduk') are really never even consulted - because after all their government-appointed so-called reps have been, and have agreed to everything - and sometime are 'rewarded' as well...)

Democracy - we want greater democracy.

For the level of the Kampung/Kampung Baru/ Taman, etc...there should be:-

a) Local Council monitored elections once every 3 years...

b) All heads & committee of Kampung/Kampung Baru/ Taman, etc..shall be required to hold an Annual General Meeting once every year - in which Reports of Activities Past, Plans for the Future & Financial Accounts must be presented and approved.

c) All heads & committee of Kampung/Kampung Baru/ Taman, etc..shall be required to have regular meetings - i.e. at least once a month, whereby minutes must be recorded, and shall be made available for the scrutiny of any resident from the community.

d) Residents shall have the power to call for Emergency General Meetings - provided that 25 or 25%, whichever lesser, calls for a meeting.

e) Every resident ages 18 and above shall have the right to vote...

Now, PERAK has started this....and the latest good move have been done by Chang Lih Kang...and here, I attach a posting by Josh Hong

We must restore local government elections for the sake of democracy, good governance, rule of law, accountability and transparency. – Lim Guan Eng, speaking to Perak DAP leaders in February 2005.

It was an auspicious start to 2009, when residents of Gunung Rapat New Village, Perak, went to the ballot box to elect their ideal candidate for the post of village chief. The small yet hugely significant election, proposed and sponsored by PKR state assemblymen Chang Lih Kang and Chan Ming Kai, indicates that the true spirit of democracy is still alive despite the controversy that the move had generated among some Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers.- Malaysiakini, 30/1/2009 - Where's My Third Vote?


What are you waiting for Pakatan Rakyat? Next General Elections?

No - do it now. Once the people experience democracy at work at the local community, it becomes more difficult for it to be taken away by future governments (especially if the UMNO-led BN takes back the states that are now under PR..). Delay in implementing what you preached you would do before GE2008 would just be a betrayal of the people ...and a lost opportunity for reforms.

It saddens me that many of my civil society friends are no longer shouting as hard as before for local council elections, and other local level elections....Have the 'smart' Pakatan Rakyat managed to silence these calls for greater experience of democracy by the appointing of many of the leaders and most vocal activists as Local Council members. Their silence is very disturbing ...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Right of the Arrested: Free Phone Calls, Right to inform friend...meet lawyer...

The law has changed from before - and now persons arrested do have the right to phone calls...

When arrested, the police MUST

a) Tell you the reason for the arrest

b) Allow you to get in touch with a friend or relative to tell them where you are, etc - and the police must provide means of communication (phone, etc) for free. No more asking for RM50 or more to use the phone...

c) Allow you to get in touch with a lawyer (and thereafter provide for a chance for you to meet up with your lawyer) - the police is not to start questioning or take a statement until you have had the opportunity to meet with your lawyer...

(Of course there are some exceptions....

Anyway, the fight for these rights were rejuvenated by the Malaysian Bar when they passed unanimously the following resolution in 2000...

Motion 5:

Whereas:

1. When a person is arrested in Malaysia, he can be detained by the police for a maximum period of not more than 15 days if the police utilize the powers pursuant to section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

2. In Malaysia, there is no right to a phone call. The suspect cannot inform his lawyer, his family, friends and employer of the fact of his arrest and detention.

3. The constitutionally guaranteed right of access to a lawyer may be denied, even though the words used in Article 5(3) Federal Constitution is “Where a person is arrested he …SHALL be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.”

4. Access to the lawyer is a right that should be available from the point of arrest. When a suspect is brought before the Magistrate pursuant to Section 117 Criminal Procedure Code and when the suspect is charged in court, he/she has the right to be represented by a lawyer.

5. The police do NOT have a duty in law to inform the lawyer: (a) whether the suspect will be charged in court OR whether the police are applying for further detention to complete their investigations. If the latter be the case, the police have no duty in law to inform the exact time when the suspect will be brought before the Magistrate; and the identity of the said Magistrate before whom the suspect will be brought for the section 117 application.

It is hereby resolved:-

A. That the Malaysian Bar expresses concern over the denial of the fundamental liberty guaranteed by Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution to a majority of the suspects arrested and detained in the police lock-ups.

B. That the Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government to ensure that the right of access to a lawyer upon arrest and the right to be represented by a lawyer, especially during section 117 applications, be recognised and respected by the police and all concerned.

C. That the Bar Council does whatsoever necessary to ensure that the RIGHT TO ONE PHONE CALL, at the very least, be accorded to a suspect when arrested.

D. That the Bar Council does whatsoever necessary to ensure that the police is vested with the duty in law to inform lawyers of the detained suspect as to whether they are opting for an application for further detention pursuant to section 117 Criminal Procedure Code, and if so, at what time the suspect will be brought before a Magistrate and which Magistrate will be hearing the said application so as to give full effect to the right to a lawyer upon arrest.

Proposer: Mr Charles Hector
Seconders: En. Amin Hafiz
Ms Mary Manickam

Resolution:

The Motion was unanimously carried. (Source: Malaysian Bar Website)
And finally in 2006, it became law...and in middle 2007 this law came into force....See section 28A of the Criminal Procedure Code...

28A. Rights of person arrested.

(1) A person arrested without a warrant shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest by the police officer making the arrest.

(2) A police officer shall, before commencing any form of questioning or recording of any statement from the person arrested, inform the person that he may-

(a) communicate or attempt to communicate, with a relative or friend to inform of his whereabouts; and

(b) communicate or attempt to communicate and consult with a legal practitioner of his choice.

(3) Where the person arrested wishes to communicate or attempt to communicate with the persons referred to in paragraphs (2)(a) and (b), the police officer shall, as soon as may be, allow the arrested person to do so.

(4) Where the person arrested has requested for a legal practitioner to be consulted, the police officer shall allow a reasonable time-

(a)for the legal practitioner to be present to meet the person arrested at his place of detention; and

(b)for the consultation to take place.

(5) The consultation under subsection (4) shall be within the sight of a police officer and in circumstances, in so far as practicable, where their communication will not be overheard.

(6) The police officer shall defer any questioning or recording of any statement from the person arrested for a reasonable time until the communication or attempted communication under paragraph 2(b) or the consultation under subsection (4) has been made.

(7) The police officer shall provide reasonable facilities for the communication and consultation under this section and all such facilities provided shall be free of charge.

(8) The requirements under subsections (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) shall not apply where the police officer reasonably believes that

(a) compliance with any of the requirements is likely to result in

(i) an accomplice of the person arrested taking steps to avoid apprehension; or

(ii) the concealment, fabrication or destruction of evidence or the intimidation of a witness; or

(b) having regard to the safety of other persons the questioning or recording of any statement is so urgent that it should not be delayed.

(9) Subsection (8) shall only apply upon authorization by a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

(10) The police officer giving the authorization under subsection (9) shall record the grounds of belief of the police officer that the conditions specified under subsection (8) will arise and such record shall be made as soon as practicable.

(11) The investigating officer shall comply with the requirements under subsections (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) as soon as possible after the conditions specified under subsection (8) have ceased to apply where the person arrested is still under detention under this section or under section 117.

[Ins. Act A1274; Subs. Act A1304]


Thursday, January 29, 2009

50% salary for 8 months for the unemployed...M'sia should follow Thailand in this

Even more for those who lose their jobs - this is something that Malaysia should put in place to help people.

Malaysia seem to be more interested in helping companies and big businesses - not so much the individual persons.

See also earlier post, entitled If you lose your job, SOCSO pays you for 6 months maximum in Thailand

The cabinet agreed to extend the unemployment compensation period for laid-off workers from six months to eight months, Deputy Government Spokesman Phutthipong Punnakan said on Wednesday.

Previously, laid-off workers were to be paid for six months or 180 days, as proposed by the Ministry of Labour. However, the government decided to extend it to eight months or 240 days after knowing that about 51,000 people were discharged in December last year.

The cabinet also endorsed a 120-million-baht budget for the Office of the Permanent Secretary to organise workshops to enhance the competencies of people without jobs, according to Deputy Government Spokesman Phutthipong Punnakan.

Furthermore, the government approved a supplementary budget of 1.955 billion baht for more than 990,000 people who have registered for the Universal Health Insurance project.

Another 607-million-baht was also approved to buy back farmlands, which were previously auctioned, for 1,187 farmers. 1,140 of those farmers had their lands seized by financial institutions and banks. However, each piece of land must not cost more than 2.5 million baht. - Bangkok Post, 29/1/2009, Unemployment payment extended

Is the Minister justifying torture (as long as it does not kill)?

The law has been amended in Malaysia - and the prosecution/police generally cannot anymore use statements or confessions obtained during police custody.

113. Admission of statements in evidence.

(1) Except as provided in this section, no statement made by any person to a police officer in the course of a police investigation made under this Chapter shall be used in evidence. - Criminal Procedure Code

This law came into being recently, I believe, after there were serious concerns about the methods employed (including torture) that resulted in these 'confessions'.

There are a few exceptions, possibly like if the charge was about the making of false statements, etc

Hence, really there is no reason to 'force', 'threaten', 'beat up', 'pour boiling water', etc...to get the suspect to confess or make any statement..., is there?

Hence, we wonder what really is the reasons for 'torture' in police custody.

Maybe, the police (who may not have sufficient evidence) is just taking the law into their own hands and imposing punishment on those they feel are 'guilty'. The duty of the police is to investigate. The duty of the prosecution is to to decide whether to prosecute..and then prosecute. The duty of the court is to determine whether a person is guilty or not... and, if the court finds a person guilty, then the court shall sentence in accordance with the law.

It is very wrong for the police to arbitrarily take to 'imposing sentence' on persons - by beating, etc...and even sometimes just shooting them dead.

Presumption of Innocence Until Proven Guilty - this is something that must not only be grilled into the police but also our Home Minister ... who in his statements so far (that I have read) seem to not yet said anything calling on the police to stop using 'torture' to illicit statements from accused.

The Minister seems to be saying that it is OK - provided a person does not get killed in custody. This is not enough.

The Minister must be strong against any form of torture of persons arrested and/or in the custody of the police.

Enforcement officers are often caught in a dilemma, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

"They are caught between protecting law-abiding citizens and ensuring that human rights are not violated in the process of enforcing the law.

"If someone dies in custody, there is no compromise. We will investigate and take action.

"Equally, it also violates human rights if criminals are allowed to hurt people. The people also have the right to feel safe and secure."

The home minister urged the public not to hail criminals as heroes and enforcement officers as demons for doing their job.- New Straits Times, 29/1/2009, Syed Hamid: Don't demonise cops

Even after the death of Kugan, the Minister sides with the police and in fact goes on to 'demonize' Kugan. Show some human decency. Show some respect. Kugan is no more here to be able to defend himself - and the Minister takes this opportunity to paint him as a 'bad criminal'. What is the Minister doing? Is he trying to say it is OK for the police to torture...to kill persons in custody?

Syed Hamid said initial investigations into Kugan's arrest revealed that the deceased had links to a gang which was believed to be involved in 19 robberies.

He said three of the gang members, including Kugan, were arrested but the gang leader was still at large.

Described as violent and dangerous, the gang is top on the police's wanted list.

"The gang, usually armed with parang, would stage an accident before robbing their victims.

"I am not pinpointing anyone, just explaining what the gang had been doing."

Syed Hamid declined to reveal evidence on the gang as investigations were still ongoing.- New Straits Times, 29/1/2009, Syed Hamid: Don't demonise cops

And, it seems that all that alleged 'beating and torture' of Kugan was worth it, as they got Kugan to give the police evidence..

He said Kugan had given information in his statement to the police, adding that police were trying to round up the gang. - New Straits Times, 29/1/2009, Syed Hamid: Don't demonise cops


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kugan's Death in Police Custody :- A Malaysian concern, not just an Indian affair (Updated)

The Kugan funeral is on the way, and I do hope that we will also see the presence of Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah, Lim Kit Siang - and some of the other non-Indian political leaders. Until this time, I only seen a report that states that Teresa Kok is there. The Selangor Menteri Besar or his rep is also not there yet...

I do hope that the presence of at least the Pakatan Rakyat non-Indian leaders would prevent some from turning this from what is really a Malaysian issue into a communal issue. This is a Human Rights issue - it is about torture. It is about death in police custody - possibly even be a killing of a suspect by members of the police force.

Later, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok arrived as well.

Members of the Field Reserve Unit (FRU) and the Light Strike Force were deployed early Wednesday to Jalan Universiti to prepare for the funeral procession.

The suspected car thief had died while being questioned by police on Jan 20. - Star, 28/1/2009, Kugan funeral procession: Five arrested (Update 6)


Maybe, we will see them at the cremation site...or later on...

Updated:-

About 500 people marched behind a gold-coloured hearse carrying the body of Kugan Ananthan, who died in police custody last Tuesday.

MCPX

The procession from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in Petaling Jaya - where the second post-mortem was conducted on Sunday - left at 2.05pm.

The crowd marched to a Hindu cemetery some 20 kilometres away in Puchong and briefly walked pass the police station in Subang Jaya where Kugan died.

The crowd, who walked in the afternoon heat and later heavy rain, took two hours and 30 minutes to reach their destination.

The funeral procession was organised to protest police brutality, the latest of which resulted in the death of Kugan, 22.

....The procession - which had grown to about 500 people - arrived at the police station at 3.20pm - about 80 minutes after the march kicked off.

They stopped for about two minutes to shout slogans against police brutality and then continued to the cemetery in Puchong where Kugan will be buried.

However, they did not conduct any rites as previously announced.

The marchers arrived at the Puchong cemetery at 4.30pm.

. - Malaysiakini, 28/1/2009 Funeral march underway, five arrested

It was also good that the police, besides arresting 5 persons including a once-HINDRAF leader, behaved themselves.

However, when faced with the angry crowd on Wednesday, the police kept calm and continued directing traffic. - Star, 28/1/2009, Kugan funeral: Crowd gets emotional (Update 7)

With regard the 5 arrested unnecessarily during a funeral of a man who is believed to have been 'killed' by police clearly shows great disrespect - and the reason seem to be was because they were wearing 'HINDRAF' T-shirts. Is it wrong now to wear such T-shirts. I just hope that these persons be immediately released, and no further action be taken against them for their actions today - the day of Kugan's funeral.

The four were wearing t-shirts depicting the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force movement, or Hindraf. The fifth is believed to be former Hindraf coordinator R.S. Thanendran.

The first arrests, made at the UMCC entrance about 12.15pm, came after Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid had made an announcement asking the crowd disperse.

He gave the crowd up till a count to 10 to disperse, failing which he said arrests would be made. He then ordered his men to arrests the two.

They have been taken to the Brickfields police headquarters for questioning, ACP Wan Abdul Bari said. - Star, 28/1/2009, Kugan funeral: Crowd gets emotional (Update 7)

How many Deaths in Custody in Malaysia? 1,535 ...

How many Deaths in Custody in Malaysia?
According to a 8/7/2008 Bernama Report, the Dewan Rakyat was informed that there were 'there were 1,535 deaths in prisons, rehabilitation centres and detention centres for illegal immigrants between 2003 and last year.'BERNAMA , 8/7/2008 1,535 Deaths In Custody Between 2003 And Last Year
So, how many deaths in police custody... only 85 between 2003 - 2007.
Wan Ahmad Farid said according to police statistics there were 85 deaths recorded in police lock-ups during the 2003-2007 period of which 77 were due to diseases, seven due to suicide by hanging and one due to a fight in the cell. "There was only one death in police custody due to excessive force by those on duty," he said.BERNAMA , 8/7/2008 1,535 Deaths In Custody Between 2003 And Last Year
Remember that in April 2007, our Prime Minister said 108 between 2000 and 2006...
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today revealed that 108 deaths occurred during police custody between 2000 and 2006.

In a parliamentary written reply to Wong Nai Chee (BN-Kota Melaka), Abdullah, who is also internal security minister, stated that the number of deaths was highest in 2003 with 23 cases. - see earlier posting in this blog

And earlier on in February 2005,
In Malaysia "...from 1990 till September last year[2004], a total of 1,583 deaths among prisoners were recorded in 28 prisons nationwide, with the highest number in 2003 when 279 inmates died. During the same period, 150 detainees died in police lock-ups or custody" (statistics from a 49-page parliamentary written reply by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) - Feb 7, 2005,Malaysiakini (Source: Malaysia & Human Rights Website)
Remember also the 1,300 who died in those Migrant Detention Centres over the past 6 years because of inaccess to necessary healthcare..

ABOUT 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam as saying.

He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time. - Source: see earlier posting, About 1,300 migrants in detention died because 'denied medical treatment at the right time..."

And that is some of the information that we have.

The police can give all kinds of reasons for the deaths that occurred in their custody - illness...suicide by hanging... BUT we really need to conduct proper inquiries into these deaths. Suicide - this is almost impossible to happen, especially since there is seldom only 1 in a cell, and there is 24 hours CCTV monitoring, and prisoners are usually deprived of items of their clothings that could be used to hand themselves or 'stranggle' another... If the police investigates deaths that may have been caused by other police officers, the Malaysian public will never be fully satisfied...and there will always be a belief that there was a 'cover-up'. Remember, that police denied responsibility for Anwar's black eye for a very long time - and sadly all those who lied to us managed to get away 'scot free'. Honesty is something I no longer expect from our Malaysian police.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 (Bernama) -- The Dewan Rakyat was told Tuesday there were 1,535 deaths in prisons, rehabilitation centres and detention centres for illegal immigrants between 2003 and last year.

There were 600 deaths in drug rehabilitation centres, according to the Prisons Department records. Deputy Home Minister Senator Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh said the country's prisons had a better track record compared to prisons in the United Kingdom if that country's 'benchmarking' figures were used.

"In 2007, the number of deaths in British prisons was 183 while here there were only three.

"Most of the deaths were in hospitals, that is when the prisoners were undergoing treatment, one per cent of the deaths occurred while they were on the way to hospital and 0.5 per cent happened in the prisons," he said in reply to a supplementary question from M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat).

Kulasegaran wanted to know the cause of detainees' deaths and asked if there was a special body to investigate deaths in prisons and detention centres.

Wan Ahmad Farid said according to police statistics there were 85 deaths recorded in police lock-ups during the 2003-2007 period of which 77 were due to diseases, seven due to suicide by hanging and one due to a fight in the cell.

"There was only one death in police custody due to excessive force by those on duty," he said.

He said based on medical officers' and coroners' reports, the main cause of deaths were diseases like HIV/Aids, septicaemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease, blood-related problems and asthma as well as infections of the intestines, liver, lungs and throat.

Wan Ahmad Farid said there were also deaths due to hanging, blood clots and falls in the bathrooms or toilets.

He said follow-up action taken to overcome deaths included having closed-circuit surveillance in all areas, increasing visits and patrols as well as having dialogue sessions with detainees to identify problems they faced.-- BERNAMA , 8/7/2008 1,535 Deaths In Custody Between 2003 And Last Year

Kugan Ananthan: Police, please show some respect and do not impede his funeral

What the police is doing is very wrong? It is disrespectful to the deceased and his family and friends, and other concerned Malaysians who want to pay respects and be there for his funeral.

Kugan Ananthan - the latest victim of torture and death in police custody.

Kugan, 22, who was detained on Jan 15 at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars in Sungai Chua, Kajang, died while being questioned on Jan 20. - Malaysiakini, 27/1/2009 Police warn against Kugan funeral procession

Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail said police had shown him pictures of the body taken by relatives.

kugan ananthan funeral 230109"We agreed that the incident be classified as murder as there were bruises on the body," he told the New Straits Times.

"If investigations reveal that he died from being assaulted, then those responsible will be charged with murder." - Malaysiakini, 25/1/2009 - Bar Council Wants Independent Probe



Rather than suppressing any funeral procession for this latest alleged victim of police brutality and torture, the police should be facilitating to ensure that the funeral procession and ceremony proceeds peacefully without any hitches.

Remember, this is Malaysia - and it is common to see funeral processions along our roads as bodies are taken from homes to places of worship...places of cremation/burial. There is never a question of restricting numbers of persons/bereavers who take part in these funeral procession.

Hence, I do not understand the Malaysian police behavior in this instance - blocking off roads possibly to prevent family and friends to arrive and accompany the body of the deceased, possibly arresting persons for reasons like 'illegal assembly', etc. Is it because it is the police that have been implicated as the alleged killers of this person... alleged 'murderers' of this person.

I do hope that the Prime Minister...the Home Minister..maybe even call off the police (who may be too emotional considering the allegations levied against them) - and allow the funeral procession/activities of this person, allegedly killed in custody by the police, to proceed peacefully and without incident.

In fact, it would be good if the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and other concerned persons do come and be a part of the funeral proceedings - not just to be there in solidarity with the family of the deceased, but also to voice their protest against torture and violence that have allegedly resulted in the death ('murder') of this Malaysian.

Police should block traffic, as they normally do for other funeral processions, and allow funeral proceedings to be carried out smoothly.

The police have closed all roads leading to University Malaya Medical Centre in Petaling Jaya in anticipation of a funeral procession for Kugan Ananthan.

The procession from UMMC to a Hindu cemetery some 20 kilometres away in Puchong is expected to draw a large number of people.

The procession is organised as a protest against police brutality, the latest of which resulted in the death of Kugan while in police custody.

Kugan, 22, who was detained on Jan 15 at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars in Sungai Chua, Kajang, died while being questioned on Jan 20.

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday issued a warning against turning Kugan's funeral into a political rally.

He also warned those attending the funeral not to participate in any illegal gathering or carry banners and posters.

Hundreds of people have started gathering at the UMMC for the procession to kick off at 2pm. The entire place is also packed with police personnel. - Malaysiakini, 28/1/2009 - All roads to UMMC closed

Malaysians must call for the end of killing in Sri Lanka,,,and go to the aid of the victims

There is surely hundreds...maybe even thousands of civilians - men, women and children who are being killed, and injured, in Sri Lanka over the past weeks as the Sri Lankan army have been aerial bombing, bombing, shooting in their quest to regain territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE).

Sadly, the attention of the international media (and even our local media have been focussed elsewhere in Gaza as these killings in Sri Lanka got on its way.

Whilst, there have been news coming out about the achievement of the Sri Lankan in gaining ground - there seem to be little or no reports on the figures/data of persons killed, injured or even captured. The access and freedom of the media seem to have been severely restricted...and this is also the case with regard to the aid organisations. All news seem to be just coming from the Sri Lankan government.

Again, we in Malaysia is called to act ... to call for the immediate stop of the violence, for a stop of the killing and injuring of persons especially civilians..in Sri Lanka.

The branding of organisations and persons as 'terrorist' by the United States, the European Community, etc..and even our own Malaysian government has possibly suppressed open calls for an end of the fighting and killing..., and even for the open collection of aid from the Malaysian publics.

Every group or organisations, who resort to the taking of arms, as one of or the only means, of fighting for freedom, independence and/or greater autonomy in governance in a particular area have sadly been branded 'terrorist'... or 'terrorist organisations'. The branding seems to be used today as a justification...or a 'moral basis' for the attacks and/or attempts to totally anhilate these groups and/or their alleged leader...Listen to how Israeli seem to justify their actions against HAMAS...and its alleged leaders.

Remember how our own Malaysian Government used 'links to terrorist organisations' as a justification from suppressing HINDRAF.

If we go back to history .... we will see that for many of countries today, those who fought for independence would have been branded 'terrorists'...and 'terrorist organisations...'. Remember America, South Africa, Vietnam,...

Thus, there must be a rejection of Bush's 'War on Terror'..., these lists of 'terrorist organisations', etc.

Whilst, we may be opposed to the use of terror tactics and violence - we must also acknowledge that sometimes this may be the last resort, and in certain limited situations may even be justified. The opposition to the use of terror methods must also not be confined to just groups not in government...but also to governments. The recent use of terror and/or 'terrorist acts' by the Israeli government in Gaza, the Sri Lankan government, the US government in Iraq...Pakistan, etc must all be criticised and condemned.

Rule of Law must agin be emphasized...i.e. the right to a fair trial, etc... You cannot just kill someone because you call him a 'terrorist'. Allegations must be proven, and those alleged must always be given the opportunity to defend against these allegations.

No more should the branding of 'X' as a terrorist be acceptable.

No more should the use of bombs/rockets in places for the purposes of killing 'X' be justified, more so when others also get killed and injured.

In any event, the time has come for Malaysia to condemn the currect actions of the Sri Lankan government which certainly is killing and injuring also innocent civilians...

The time has come again for us to go to the aid of these victims of 'terror' by the State.

Sri Lanka war 'traps thousands'

Mullaittivu, the last LTTE base, is under government control following the military's offensive [AFP]

About 250,000 Sri Lankan civilians are trapped and hundreds have been killed in heavy fighting in the country's north, the International Red Cross has said.

The aid organisation said on Tuesday that a major humanitarian crisis was unfolding as Sri Lanka's military continues its offensive against the country's Tamil Tiger rebels.

"Hundreds of dead and scores of wounded" medical facilities in the Vanni region, the Red Cross said in a statement.

"It's high time to take decisive action and stop further bloodshed because time is running out," Jacques de Maio, the group's head of operations for South Asia, said.

"People are being caught in the crossfire, hospitals and ambulances have been hit by shelling and several aid workers have been injured while evacuating the wounded."

The Red Cross has urgently appealed to both sides to allow civilians to leave the combat zone.

"When the dust settles, we may see countless victims and a terrible humanitarian situation unless civilians are protected and international humanitarian law is respected in all circumstances," de Maio said.

Neil Buhne, the UN resident co-ordinator in Sri Lanka, earlier said that reports indicated an estimated 150,000 civilians were still trapped in the jungle battle zone and were in serious danger.

'Zero civilian casualties'

Sri Lanka's government insists there have been "zero civilian casualties" in its operation to crush the rebels in their last remaining bastion of Mullaittivu district.

But doctors on the ground say this is far from the case.


"Three dead bodies of civilians were brought in on Tuesday and 15 more admitted injured due to the heavy shelling," T Satyamurthy, the director of Udaiyaarkaddu hospital, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

Most of Mullaittivu district is now under government control following the military's offensive.

Tony Birtley, Al Jazeera's correspondent who visited Mullaitivu under the oversight of the army, said the the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are fighting for the creation of an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka, appeared to have fled the town.

"There are no civilians, just stray cows and members of the Sri Lankan army division which took this town.

"Although the Tamil Tigers seem to be retreating, they seem to be putting up some resistance.

"The civilians appear to be retreating with the Tamil Tigers.

"The government is saying they are being forced to - that they are being used as human shields - but we don't know that for certain."

Government denial

In an interview with Birtley, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan defence minister, said that government forces exercised extreme caution during the offensive and only fired on Tamil Tiger rebels.

He dismissed the claims of civilian deaths as LTTE propaganda, insisting that no civilians have died in the recent fighting, and that reports to the contrary should not be believed.

"We don't use indirect fire unless we are 100 per cent certain that those are LTTE camps or bases ... This is all LTTE propaganda," Rajapaksa said.

The official death toll is unknown as medical officials have said they have been ordered by the health ministry in Colombo not to reveal casualty figures. No journalists are allowed into combat zones on their own. - Al-Jazeera, 27/1/2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hypocritical PM so worried about Malaysians in Guantanamo - but not about the hundreds of Detainees Without Trial in Malaysia

Hypocrisy or what..

Our good Prime Minister must really be looking at shutting down Kamunting Detention Centre - and ending Detention Without Trial in Malaysia.

Malaysia is seeking permission from the United States government to allow its police officers to meet two Malaysians being held at the controversial Guantanamo military prison whose closure was ordered by President Barack Obama, said Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He said Malaysia would like to know what would happen to its two nationals who were among about 250 inmates of Guantanamo, many of whom have been held for years without trial.

"If possible, we'd like to bring both of them home so that they could continue to serve their sentences in Malaysia," he told Malaysian journalists covering his visit to the United Arab Emirates here yesterday.

Abdullah lauded the decision by the new American president to close down the facility in Guantanamo, Cuba, within a year.

"President Obama's decision must have gone down well with many countries and Malaysia too is happy because he has fulfilled his promise," he said.

Besides closing the Guantanamo prison, Obama also ordered a halt to harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects as he sought to restore the US image abroad. - Bernama, 24/1/2009, Malaysia Seeks Info On Two Guantanamo Detainees

I am shocked that the Malaysian government is only NOW sending its people to meet the two Malaysians in that US prison..Surely, our country has a policy and practice that will require the Malaysian government to immediately get in touch with persons arrested/detained in other countries. If Malaysia did not meet up with them 2 detained Malaysians before this - this is definitely a failure of the UMNO led-BN government in its obligations to its citizens.

Now most of them in Guantanamo Bay are being held without trial .... and even those that have been 'tried', these trials have been criticized as not at all being fair. So, it is shocking that our PM wants to bring the 2 Malaysians so that they can continue to serve their sentence here in Malaysia...

Does that mean that if they have been detained without trial - they will be sent immediately to Kamunting Detention Centre (or some other Detention Centre in Malaysia) that detains people without trial.

So, if they have been 'tried' and 'sentenced' - Malaysia will be keeping them in prison for the duration of their sentence... really our PM must think before he makes a statement, for if not he comes out looking like a fool...and it also reflects on all Malaysians.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Bernama that Malaysia would like to know what would happen to its two nationals who were among about 250 inmates in Guantanamo Bay prison, many of whom have been held for years without trial.

"If possible, we'd like to bring both of them home so that they can continue to serve their sentences in Malaysia," he told Malaysian journalists covering his visit to the United Arab Emirates in Dubai yesterday.- Malaysiakini, 24/1/2009, PM wants M'sian detainees home

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must follow the actions of Obama - and release all being detapined without trial, close Kamunting and other Detention Centres, and definitely ban torture in Malaysia. It is time for Malaysia at the very least to ratify/sign the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Torture in Malaysia...
- Police are allegedly throwing boiling water on Detainees
- Police are causing the death/killing persons in their custody
(Need I say more - as there are just too many examples of torture in Malaysia recently..)

End torture in Malaysia - Mr. PM

By the way, one good thing that you, Mr PM, could do before you resign is to free all those currently being detained without trial in Malaysia. Think about it.



Friday, January 23, 2009

Cabinet...not the Minister that wants to ban '...the use of the word 'Allah' ..." , interesting

If I have been praying in Bahasa Melayu - as a Christian I also use the word Allah to refer to my God...as the name that I call my God - but now it seems that the Malaysian Courts are going to decide whether I, a non-Muslim, can call God ... Allah or not.

I do not think so.

This is a question of faith ...of matters between me and my God - and surely no court of law, or some Minister or some government is going to tell me how I am to address my own God. My God is Allah. I believe in Allah. I pray to Allah...

To even suggest that some words cannot be used by others but by only one particular ethnic or religious group is nonsense.

For a long time, many felt that it was just the 'narrow-minded' home Minister and his Minisitry who were behind the call to ban Catholics and Christians ...and Sikhs from using the word 'Allah' - but it seems that it is coming from the cabinet - the UMNO-led BN cabinet, where we also have Ministers from MCA, MIC, etc....
The Home Ministry may take legal action against the Catholic weekly, Herald, over its continued use of the word "Allah" in this week's issue.

Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar warned that the show of defiance could cause conflict and anger among other races in the country.

"We should abide by the law and the government's decision. The decision to ban the use of the word 'Allah' in its publication does not come from the ministry but from the cabinet.

"If anything happens, then don't put the blame on us. I will refer this matter to our legal unit." - New Straits Times, 23/1/2009, Syed Hamid warns the 'Herald'
Mind you - this is a question of faith - a question of religion...and it is best that this rather 'ignorant' Malaysian Prime Minisiter and Cabinet do seriously consider their threats and actions - it is best for all that this issue to be dropped soonest.

All Malaysian Christians, Catholics and Sikhs, and also all Malaysian Muslims and Hindus, who see this attempted ban on the usage of the term 'Allah' as wrong should go forth and lobby their respective Cabinet members.
The weekly's editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, was quoted by AFP as saying on Tuesday that he intended to continue doing so until the court rules on the issue next month.

"We find this restriction on the use of 'Allah' unacceptable when we have been using it as a translation for the word 'God' for centuries in Malaysia," he was quoted as saying.

The government last month ordered a ban on the Herald's Malay edition until the court makes its decision, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue publishing in English, Chinese and Tamil.

Andrew had also said Munshi Abdullah, the father of modern Malay literature, translated the Bible into Malay in 1852 and he also translated the word "God" as "Allah".

"So, there is strong historical proof of what has been used for centuries. - New Straits Times, 23/1/2009, Syed Hamid warns the 'Herald'
Note that it is only UMNO ...BN that is making this an issue. PAS (which has always been painted as Islamic extremist) have no issue about Christians and others using the word Allah...

Who brought up this 'sensitive issue' Mr Minsiter? Let us not forget that it is the government that did it when they tried to place restrictions on the usage of the word 'Allah'.

Why now - we wonder? Is it another desperate attampt to lobby back the support of Muslims in Malaysia?

Look at MIC...it is great that they are finally getting concerned about 'death in police custody'...but I wonder whether it is real concern - or just another attempt to get back Malaysian Indian support...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If you lose your job, SOCSO pays you for 6 months maximum in Thailand

45,000...then 170,000...now maybe even more workers in Malaysia will lose their jobs, but the concern is whether they would be entitled to receive any payment/benefits from the government during this time when they do not have a job.

Interestingly, the Social Security Scheme in our neighbouring Thailand do provide for workers who have lost their jobs unemployment benefits (i.e. 50% salary - but not more than RM1,5000) for at least 180 days (6 months)...

Even if you resign, you are entitled to 30% salary for 180 days...

Malaysia, unfortunately do not have such a good scheme in place, BUT we must have our laws amended, implement to ensure such a scheme for the benefit of workers, their families/dependents...

Having made contributions towards unemployment for not less than 6 months within a period of 15 months prior to unemployment

Terms and conditions giving rise to the entitlement:
1. Must apply for registration of the unemployed at the State Unemployment Office within 30 days without having to wait for the Unemployment Certificate from the Employer as to declare the entitlement tentatively.


2. Is capable of performing the work and is ready to take on suitable job as offered.


3. Must not reject the job training.


4. Must report to the Employment Office for not less than 1 time per month.


5. The unemployed must not be terminated from employment thanks to:
- Dishonest on duty;
- Commission of criminal offense to the detriment of the employer;
- Serious infringement upon working rules, or regulation or lawful working order;
- Abandoning the duty for 7 days consecutively without good reasons;
- Recklessness which causes serious harms to the Employer;
- Having been sentenced to imprisonment by Court judgment.

6. Must not be the person entitled to old age benefit.

7. Shall be entitled to receiving the benefit starting from the 8th day from the date of unemployment with the last employer.

8. Is not a voluntary insured under Section 39.

The Entitlement Benefits you shall receive:

In case of termination of employment:
- Unemployment benefit for not more 180 days per year at the rate of 50 % of the wage calculated on the basis of maximum contributions of 15,000 Baht.

In case of resignation:
- Unemployment benefit for not more than 90 days per year at the rate of 30 percent of the wage calculated on the basis of maximum amount of contributions but not more than 15,000 Baht shall be payable. If in the duration of 1 year, there was more than 1 application for the unemployment benefit, the counting of the unemployment benefit receiving period in total shall not exceed 180 days; the compensation benefit for loss of income shall be paid on monthly installment basis by crediting to the Bank Account as notified by the Insured.

Now, this should be over and above the normal benefits available to Malaysian workers pursuant to the Employment (Termination and Lay–Off Benefits) Regulations, 1980, but note that this benefit is only available '...to an employee who has been employed under a continuous contract of service for a period of not less than twelve months ending with the relevant date..'. What about others that do not fall within this category? - and noting the changing practices of employment practiced by Malaysian employers in recent years. In short, our provisions in law of the termination or lay-off benefits is seriously lacking.

6. Amount of termination or lay-off benefits payment.

(1) Subject to the provisions of these Regulations, the amount of termination or lay-off benefits payment to which an employee is entitled in any case shall not be less than —

(a) ten days’ wages for every year of employment under a continuous contract of service with the employer if he has been employed by that employer for a period of less than two years; or

(b) fifteen days’ wages for every year of employment under a continuous contract of service with the employer if he has been employed by that employer for two years or more but less than five years; or

(c) twenty days’ wages for every year of employment under a continuous contract of service with the employer if he has been employed by that employer for five years or more,

and pro-rata as respect an incomplete year, calculated to the nearest month.

Now, the law in Malaysia provides for termination and lay-off benefits, but alas the workers, even though entitled, may not get anything... and our Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) did in 1998 try to propose the setting up of National Retrenchment Scheme under SOCSO/Perkeso (Social Security Organisation). However, MTUC's concern was primarily '...when companies voluntarily wind up their operations, abruptly close down their business without prior notice, are put under receivership or relocate their operations to other countries...' But alas, I do not think our UMNO-led BN government which seem to be more concerned about the welfare of companies and their oweners, rather than those of the workers, their families and their dependents did anything about that at all.

But, moving on, we have to amend our laws so that the welfare of those unemployed and their families/dependents are taken care off. For a start, the provision of benefits to the unemployed (as is already practiced in neighbouring Thailand) for at least 6 months should be made law in Malaysia.

We want definite rights to such benefits in law in Malaysia.

I hope that the Pakatan Rakyat and other concerned parties also campaign for this.

Why is DAP behaving like UMNO/BN? Freedom of Opinion and expression must be allowed

One DAP appointed Shah Alam City Councillor's made a call for the ban on lotttery sales - and the DAP is going to take disciplinary actions against him.

What happened to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression...

Does it mean that if you are a DAP MP, a DAP ADUN ...and now a DAP appointed Local Councillor, then you lose your freedom of opinion and expression... [Surely not only the DAP head honchos have a right to express their opinions. Surely, it does not mean that before you make any statement or 'call' - you must first refer to the party leadership and party policies...]

Soon, will action be taken against those who support good ideas/proposals that come from other political parties...

I hope not... I hope that this is just a case of 'bad reporting' by the NST...

Disciplinary action will be taken against a DAP councillor from Shah Alam over his call to ban all lottery sales in Selangor.

Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Ang Leng Kiat's proposal was not the party's policy. He, however, did not elaborate on the kind of action to be taken.

Early this week, Ang proposed that the Shah Alam City Council withdraw licenses already issued and to discontinue the issuance of new permits to lottery outlets. He had also stressed that his suggestion was not related to political or religious considerations, but was solely aimed at solving social problems linked to gambling.

Selangor DAP chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah had since distanced the party from the decision. Ean, the Seri Kembangan assemblyman and Selangor state executive councillor, said any such ban would not eradicate social problems.

The party had requested Ang to retract his suggestion, as banning the lottery industry would create controversy. - New Straits Times, 21/1/2009, Action against DAP councillor who called for lottery ban

I am of the opinion that anyone and every person is entitled to his own right of opinion and has the freedom of expression.

This Ang Leng Kiat should not even be asked to withdraw his suggestion...that is his position, and he has a right to hold on to it or change it. What needs to be clarified is that Ang's statement does not reflect the official DAP position - and that has already been done by Lim Guan Eng.

If it is a political party member who makes a statement that is contrary to the party position - that should be allowed. Of course, the party leadership can come out and clarify that what was expressed was a personal position - not a party position. That is all - there should not be any disciplinary proceeding or action commenced against such individual.

When Guan Eng made a statement calling for the reduction of the number of lottery draws - was that in line with party position? Was there even any policy about lottery, and/or lottery draws within the DAP? I do not recall seeing a statement of various policies on various matters in the DAP website - maybe there should be something like that in the website of DAP...and maybe even all political parties - so that we all can clearly see what are your current policies on different matters. Transparency....

Last November, Lim had asked the government to consider reducing the number of lottery draws from 10 to six. He had said that he felt this was necessary as having 10 lottery draws a week was too many and that it would deplete the income of many families, especially in view of the current economic situation.

There are now three draws from Magnum, three from Damacai and four from Sports Toto in a week. - New Straits Times, 21/1/2009, Action against DAP councillor who called for lottery ban

Worse still was the fact that this was not even an MP or an ADUN - but a City Councillor. I did not know that we had DAP appointed councillors, PKR appointed councillors, etc - I thought it was all Pakatan Rakyat appointed councillors...Maybe Ang was 'appointed' by PAS or PKR - how did the NST know? In any event, Local Councils should be operating as Local Councillors irrespective of who proposed their name ...or got them appointed.

By the way, when will the Local Council elections be..or have Pakatan Rakyat forgotten about it...

When will we be having elections for the Penghulu, the Kampung/Kampung Baru/Taman heads and committees in the Pakatan Rakyat states...

We can also have elections for our Senators ... maybe the PR States should start...

We want greater democracy - which will also mean greater accountability and transparency...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Solve the problem of elderly Malaysians - and the 170,000 who may lose their jobs soon..

It would be good, if anyone out there have a solution as to what can be done to help look into the well-being and welfare of senior citizens in Malaysia, who are currently not covered by any pension plan. This would generally be current employees. The other category that need to be considered in the group that is currently self employed.

How do they deal with this concern in other countries? Is there some good model out there that we too can follow.

Maybe, persons after the age of 55, who are no longer employed or have no reasonable source of income should be paid monthly survival allowances.

Maybe, we should have free healthcare - so that all can afford.

Maybe, we should also have home-healthcare especially for the elderly who have difficulty traveling and getting to hospitals. Maybe, we should start having travelling doctors/medical assistants, who will be going round making regular visits to the elderly.

Maybe, we need cheaper public transport - and even special discounted rates for all elderly persons.

We need to start thinking about this - and putting in place the necessary structures and mechanisms from now on.

Subramaniam also said the government was considering the proposed pension plan for private sector retirees to overcome the problem of needy senior citizens.

"There are many facing financial difficulties, especially in the private sector. After they retire at 55, they receive an EPF payment of RM33,000. However, the money is all spent within a year or two," he said.

He said one source of the problem was the breakdown of the traditional extended family.

"Normally, they depend on their children to look after them, but this does not happen today. This creates a situation where poverty exists among senior citizens and they are forced to turn to the welfare department and Socso for assistance with the hope of qualifying for invalidity pension," he said.

He said that more than 80% of applicants for the disability pension did not qualify.

He expects the problem to get worse. "The lifespan of Malaysians is increasing to about 70 to 75 years. We need to ensure that they have financial freedom. The question is, how do we do that," said Subramaniam. - Sun, 18/1/2009 - 45,000 to be laid off, says Subramaniam

“The ministry is thinking about senior citizens who can no longer work and have used up their EPF money. We need a system to help them,” he said. - Star, 19/1/2008 -Another 45,000 hit by global slowdown

It is good that the UMNO-led BN government finally is showing some concern about this group of persons - the elderly. In good old America, persons in this category makes up the bulk of the homeless - the 4th world. We certainly do not want to be heading that way.

Our next concern is for those who are going to lose their jobs...income...The papers talked about 45,000 - but today in TV, they were talking about 170,000

When persons lose their job/s - or stop getting their pay - or start getting reduced pay - what happens? Many have fixed obligations - like paying off their car loan, paying off their housing loan - but wait, would default in payments mean legal action by the bank, repossession of cars, sale of homes,... Would it also not mean that persons, the borrower/guarantors may be made bankrupt. Would it mean water cuts, electricity cuts, telephone/internet cuts - and we all know that today it happens very fast - with all these companies also charging fees for re-connection? So, what is the government doing about this?

Monday, January 19, 2009

True acceptance of people's choice must translalte into equal treatment of peoples' representatives irrespective of party affliations

The people's choice of their Member of Parliament(M) or Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) should be respected.

The people should never be penalized by the Federal Government (or State Government) if they choose persons not from the ruling coalition government.

BARISAN Nasional and Umno accept the decision of the voters in the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election with an open heart and mind, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said here yesterday. - New Straits Times, 19/1/2009 - PM: It's people's choice

But Mr Prime Minister - your's and BN's actions in the past really do not indicate a 'true' acceptace of the people's choice.

Opposition MP's(and ADUNs) are not given the same privilege, recognition and respect by the BN Federal and State governments. BN MP get money that they can use for small development projects in their constituency - whilst opposition MPs do not get this. This kind of behaviour does not reflect 'true acceptance' of the peoples' choice.

In Trengganu, when opposition won - their oil royalty money suddenly stopped flowing. When BN wins back the State, the money starts to flow again. This was not an 'accepting of the people's choice'.

I just hope that you (and the BN) would change your ways and this time, you speak the truth - and it is not pure hypocrisy as in the past. Hope that your actions will show.

Every MP and/or ADUN should be treated equally by the Federal/State government concerned irrespective of the person's party affliations.

Should Malaysia boycott the US Presidential inaugration?

I am thinking that Malaysia must clearly indicate its protest in the part that the US have been playing in the Palestinian crisis - where so many innocent lives could have been saved if the US had acted justly.

One way that Malaysia can demonstrate its unhappiness is by not attending the next US President's inauguration. After all, Obama was also pretty silent on the Gaza crisis - when hundreds were being killed - 1, 300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

For at least 12 hours tomorrow, Ilango Karuppannan will be the envy of many Malaysians.

The Charge d’Affaires of the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC will proudly represent Malaysia at the historic inauguration of Barack Obama at Capitol Hill.

Later in the evening, he will attend a ball where the guest list consists of the “who’s who” of Washington.

Ilango: ‘I am indeed blessed to represent Malaysia.

“I am indeed blessed to represent Malaysia,” said Ilango, who will be going to the ceremony with his wife Nirmala Devi. - Star, 19/1/2009 - Ilango to represent Malaysia at Obama’s inauguration

Or is the fact that our PM, DPM or any other Minister is not going already the 'protest' by Malaysia...

I also note that there is some book launch coming up on or about 21/1/2009 where the US Ambassador is the guest of honour - should we not give this US Government this honour in protest of the role played by the US in the recent Gaza Crisis - and the whole Palestinian issue?

Ceasefire in Gaza - but Boycott of American Products must continue until justice is done..

There is a ceasefire now in Gaza - but over the last 22 days, some 1,300 Palestinians lost their lives & 13 Israelis lost their lives.

So, do we stop our protests, candle light vigils and boycotts now....I say 'NO'.

Should we all forget the role that US has played in this whole affair - its discriminatory behavior - its unjust actions.

When Iraq stepped into Kuwait, it was made a big deal by the US - and Iraq was invaded, its government ousted - and Iraq was and is still occupied by the US.

When Israel invaded lands that the UN decided will be Palestine in 1948, when they invaded parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt ... etc, and still refuses to abide countless UN Security Council resolutions, and UN General Assembly resolutions - US not only turns a blind eye to all the 'bad' things Israel does, but has also used its 'veto power in the UN Security Council' and its other powers to prevent justice for the Palestinian people and the region. US behaviour with regard to Israel is unacceptable and very wrong.

Do we still boycott US products - as a personal protest against the US --- YES.

What are the products that is identified with USA?

KFC - Kentucky Fried Chicken

Mc Donalds

Coca Cola

Marlboro

and more....

In reality, today many people many non-Americans may own shares and interest in these companies, but that really is secondary..

Some people said that it is impossible to boycott all American products because it is all around us...and it is near impossible to boycott everything

Hence, we have to choose a few and boycott it - and that is what we did in the past..

The removal of Coca-Cola from thousands of restaurants in Malaysia in protest at US support for Israel will hurt the local economy, the company has said.

The drinks company was responding to boycotts of US-made goods called by Muslim groups in Malaysia.

Malaysia has called at the United Nations for action to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Former leader Mahathir Mohamad has also called for a global boycott of the US dollar and US products.

"As everybody else, we are deeply touched by the human side of the situation in the Middle East," Kadri Taib, Coca-Cola Malaysia public affairs and communications director, said in a statement.

"Given the local nature of our business, we believe that calls for boycotts of our products are not the appropriate way to further any causes, as they primarily hurt the local economy, local businesses and local citizens," the company said.

It added that the beverage company employs some 1,700 Malaysians, 60% of whom are Malay Muslims.

Muslim protest

The boycott, aimed at US support of Israel which has mounted the offensive in Gaza, is spearheaded by the Malaysian Islamic Consumers Association as well as the Muslim Restaurant Operators Association.

If you stop accepting US currency, the US can't trade and can't make any money, it will become very poor and it will have to stop the production of more and more weapons in order to kill people. People must act... they won't die if they don't drink Coca-Cola
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian prime minister

More than 2,000 Muslim restaurants in Malaysia have said they would remove Coca-Cola from their menus from Friday.

Ma'mor Osman, secretary-general of the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association which is leading the campaign, said about 100 other products have been identified, ranging from food to beauty and clothing such as Starbucks, Colgate, McDonald's and Maybelline.

"A boycott is the best way for us to protest Zionist cruelty against the Palestinian people as consumers can weaken the economy of countries like Israel and its ally, the US," he said.

Leadership support

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir had earlier called for a boycott of US currency and goods.

"If you stop accepting US currency, the US can't trade and can't make any money, it will become very poor and it will have to stop the production of more and more weapons in order to kill people," he said on Monday.

"We should not be buying all these weapons from the US, we can buy from the Russians if we must have aeroplanes and things like that," he added.

"People must act... they won't die if they don't drink Coca-Cola," he said.

"We urge everybody who loves peace and is against war to support our campaign. We must send a clear signal to Israel to stop the assaults in Gaza," he said.

Malaysia's current Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has called for sanctions on Israel, saying the international community has a "moral duty" to save the Palestinian people.

He said that Israel's "excessive deployment of military power" in its air and ground offensive on Gaza since 27 December was "absolutely immoral".

In the conflict, so far 770 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed, with thousands wounded. - BBC, 9/1/2009, Gaza prompts boycott in Malaysia
Of course, this was a BBC report - and see how they tried to dissuade persons from boycotting (or were they doing a 'balanced report') - "As everybody else, we are deeply touched by the human side of the situation in the Middle East," Kadri Taib, Coca-Cola Malaysia public affairs and communications director, said in a statement.

"Given the local nature of our business, we believe that calls for boycotts of our products are not the appropriate way to further any causes, as they primarily hurt the local economy, local businesses and local citizens," the company said.

It added that the beverage company employs some 1,700 Malaysians, 60% of whom are Malay Muslims.'

It saddened me when the Selangor Menteri Besar also is against the boycott.
Malaysians must not simply boycott all products from United States or Israel as these may be partly owned by Muslims or locals.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said Malaysians should instead study carefully the list of products they intended to boycott in the wake of Israel’s attack on Palestinians in Gaza.

“The products may be owned not just by the Israelis or the Americans.

“Brands like McDonald’s and Coca Cola are not totally owned by Israeli or American groups, but their shares are owned even by Muslim countries, including bumiputras in Malaysia. - Star, 10/1/2009, S’gor MB: Be careful about the boycott of US goods

The Selangor MB also revealed a disturbing fact that Malaysians, including Muslims, may also have shares and interest in some of these US products/entities. Interestingly, it may also be the case with regard to Israeli owned companies and products.

This is a problem. Is all that is important only MONEY and wealth?

I urge all Malaysians who have interest in these selected American products/entities and Israeli products/entities to dispose of their shares and interest as sign of protest against the injustice that continues to happen to the Palestinian people.

People have choices - and it is disappointing that people do not consider principles, values, human rights record, etc when it comes to deciding where they invest their money...with the hope of making more money.

Khalid was the former CEO of Guthrie, and he would have most likely been involved in the eviction of plantation workers from job and homes. Peoples' lives and need is not important - only profits and the good of the company.

Now, he is the Menteri Besar - a wakil rakyat (peoples' representative) - and yet he is still driven by the more important values and principles...

Thankfully, the Perak MB got it right ...

The state government yesterday launched a RM1 million fund for Palestine and called on the people of the state to boycott United States-made products. - New Straits Times, 11/1/2009,Nizar: Boycott US-made goods
The Pahang Menteri Besar's position was this...

Individuals who want to support the call to boycott US currency and American-made products can do so at their own accord, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said.

Adnan said although he had yet to meet up with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he supported the former premier’s call to initiate the campaign.

“Of course it is up to the individual who feel strongly about Israel’s attacks on Palestine to do something to show their disapproval.

“I do support the campaign but we must also remember that United States is one of our largest trading partners. - Star, 10/1/2009, Boycott US products on your own accord, says Mentri Besar

We must not be silent just because 'United States is one of our largest trading partners'... or because it is very powerful.

Our position and actions must always be to uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour.

One thing that I like about a boycott is that it gives individual Malaysians another means to express their protest, and if KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks, Coca Cola, etc suddenly see their sales and profits affected - this will also mean that these American/Israeli owned/controlled companies would also have to join in the struggle to ensure that justice be done.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thailand may have caused the death of about 300 Rohingya refugees - Malaysia must act.

The allegation that more or less 300 Rohingya refugees may have died at sea when Thailand authorities put them back to sea during this monsoon period is getting more attention from rights groups.

The attention to this incident was also raised in a Burmese protest in Kuala Lumpur on 14/1/2009.

See also related earlier post - 325 Rohingyan Refugees feared death when authorities allegedly put them back to sea - Burmese demo in KL 14/1/2009

Human rights groups said today they were appalled at accusations that the Thai government sent hungry and desperate refuge-seekers from a Burmese ethnic minority back to the sea to die.

MCPX

David Mathieson, an expert on Burma with New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the treatment of the Rohingya - a Muslim group from Arakan state in Burma near the Bangladesh border - was "completely unacceptable."

"These are really serious allegations that need to be investigated by the UN and the Thai government," he told AFP.

"They are not allowed to act this way and I don't think this is an isolated incident."

Accounts from activists and media have emerged in the past days of about 400 ethnic Rohingya landing in southern Thailand last year after fleeing Burma, only to be towed to sea and cast adrift by the Thai navy.

The Indian coast guard in December rescued about 100 people believed to be from the same group near a remote island chain in the Bay of Bengal, but a search for the remaining 300 was unsuccessful, Indian officials said at the time.

Navy denies allegation

The Thai navy yesterday denied allegations that they sent the Rohingya adrift, and the Foreign Ministry said it was investigating the claims.

A researcher with London-based Amnesty International said that Thailand had obligations under international law to screen asylum-seekers to determine if they were at risk of abuse back home.

"There reports, if true, would implicate the Thai military in extremely serious violations of the human right to food, to seek asylum and potentially the human right to life itself," said Amnesty's Benjamin Zawacki.

"Those determined to not be refugees cannot simply be pushed back into sea with their hands tied, effectively left to die. These reports need to be immediately and thoroughly investigated."

Local human rights organisations including advocacy group the Arakan Project said that a number of Rohingya landed on southern Thailand's Andaman coast late last year, only to be sent adrift with little food and water.

The Bangkok Post newspaper on Sunday carried an account from survivors.

"We were tied up and put into a boat without an engine ... we were then towed into the high seas by a motor boat and set adrift," survivor Zaw Min told the paper.

Rights groups say the Rohingya face religious and ethnic persecution from Burma's military regime, forcing thousands of them to take to rickety boats each year to try to escape poverty and oppression. - Malaysiakini, 19/1/2009 - Thailand accused of leaving refugees to die at sea

It may have happened in Thailand - and the victims may not be Malaysians but Malaysia must take up this issue and demand an investigation, and if found to be true an explanation.

Thailand, being a member of ASEAN also is a signatory of the Bangkok Declaration that stresses humane treatment - and sending them out to sea during this dangerous times is certainly not humane.

KT - Are people saying that Najib can be Presiden UMNO - but not PM Malaysia?

After GE2008, UMNO-led BN had 140 seats in Parliament

When SAPP left BN, they were left with 138 seats..

With the loss in Kuala Trengganu, they now only have 137 seats..

The Opposition(PKR + DAP + PAS) now have 82 seats in Parliament.

There are 3 Independents, i.e. Ibrahim Ali, and 2 MPs from SAPP

Barisan Nasional (BN) kehilangan satu lagi kerusi Parlimen apabila calonnya, Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh gagal mempertahankan kerusi Kuala Terengganu dalam pilihanraya kecil yang diadakan hari ini.

Sebelum ini, BN kehilangan dua kerusi Parlimen apabila Parti Maju Sabah (SAPP) mengambil tindakan keluar dari gabungan tersebut.

Dengan itu, BN kini mempunyai 137 kerusi di Parlimen. Ekoran kemenangan hari ini, PAS pula kini mempunyai 23 kerusi Parlimen.

Dalam pilihanraya kecil hari ini, calon PAS, Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut menang dengan majoriti 2,631 undi.

Beliau mendapat 32,883 undi manakala Wan Ahmad Farid mendapat 30,252 undi. Calon bebas, Calon bebas, Azharudin Mamat pula mendapat 193 undi.

Seramai 79.3 peratus pemilih keluar mengundi hari ini.

Dengan itu, pembangkang pula kini mempunyai 82 kerusi Parlimen dan tiga calon bebas - Datuk Ibrahim Ali dan dua ahli Parlimen SAPP.

Selepas pilihanraya umum lalu, BN memenangi 140 kerusi Parlimen, PKR (31 termasuk kerusi PSM), DAP (28) dan PAS (22).- Malaysiakini, 17/1/2009 - BN kini tinggal 137 kerusi Parlimen

In March 2008, the BN won by a majority of 628 - and now it LOST with the PAS candidate that emerged victorious getting a majority of 2,631.

For a by-election, when the full strength and resources of the BN is used, this win by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat is indeed very significant.

The results also indicate a further decline in the support of an UMNO-led BN government, and thus even the potential resignation of the current PM in March 2009 is not sufficient for the BN to regain the support of the people.

The fact that Najib will be the next President of UMNO...the next head of BN...and maybe even the next Prime Minister of Malaysia seemed to have not worked. In fact, the erosion in support indicates that people do want him as PM, etc... (Remember, this is a Parliamentary seat in Terengganu, which is governed by the BN. If this happened in Selangor, Penang...some State held by the Opposition, it would not have been so significant...). Note also that the majority was not a few hundred but 2,631...

Maybe Mohd Najib Razak should seriously consider someone else as the next Prime Minister. Of course, he can be the President of UMNO - but he need not be PM.

Pakatan's KT victory happens despite the many 'difficulties', 'disagreements' and 'fights' between the Pakatan parties.

Are Malaysians saying that they do prefer Pakatan Rakyat, with all its teething problems, compared to that 'clean, efficient, trustworthy' BN, with its 50 plus years of experience governing the country? I believe that they are...