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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Sabah DAP questions Hiew’s move to quit as state party adviser

Posted: 13 Aug 2013 12:51 AM PDT

(The Star) - Sabah DAP is questioning Luyang assemblyman Hiew King Cheu's move to quit as the state party adviser.

Describing the move as an overreaction to the party's disciplinary action against him, Sabah DAP chairman Jimmy Wong questioned why Hiew could not wait until the party's state committee meeting on Monday to voice his grouses.

Asked about talk that Hiew's resignation was a prelude to him quitting DAP altogether, Wong said: "I don't want to speculate but I hope and pray he does not have a personal agenda."
Wong said the disciplinary move against Hiew was an internal party matter and no action had been taken against him (Hiew) as yet.

"These things could have been sorted out internally and I don't understand why he had to go public with it," he added.

Hiew announced his resignation on Monday after the DAP disciplinary committee issued him a show cause letter for backing a proposal for Tamparuli assemblyman Datuk Wilfred Bumburing to be the state assembly Opposition leader.

(The job eventually went to Klias state assemblyman Datuk Lajim Ukin, the Sabah PKR chief.)

Hiew said he was quitting as Sabah DAP adviser as he was disappointed with the party's four elected state representatives for seeking disciplinary action against him over the issue. 

He said he felt he was no longer required as an adviser as important party matters were no longer brought to his attention and discussed by members before decisions were made.


Four Himpunan Hijau organisers to be charged

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 08:51 PM PDT

(The Star) - Four organising committee members of last year's Himpunan Hijau Raub rally will be charged in court next week under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

It is learnt two of them include the Anti-Cyanide Gold Mining Committee chairman Wong Kin Hoong and Raub PAS deputy commissioner Tengku Shahdan Tengku Jaafar.

According to Raub OCPD Supt Wan Mohd Samsudin Wan Osman, the police had just received a directive from the Attorney-General's Chambers to press charges against the four.

Supt Wan Mohd Samsudin said investigations into the case had been completed some time ago and submitted to the Deputy Public Prosecutor for further action.

"We are only in charge of investigations into violation of the laws and it is up to the DPP to decide whether to proceed with the case," he said.

Pahang DAP deputy organising secretary M. Selvarajah @ Raju confirmed that both Wong and Tengku Shahdan had informed the party that they would be charged on Aug 19 under Section 15 (3) of the Act.

Selvarajah said the move was politically motivated and questioned why the two were being charged nearly a year after the event.

"The charge is related to bringing underage children to attend the rally in Padang Milo, Jalan Bukit Koman on Sept 2, last year.

"Prior to the rally, we had already informed the public not to bring children through various mediums such as social media and news reports," he said, adding that it was beyond their control if the public did not adhere to the advice.

Selvarajah, who is also the publicity secretary of the rally, urged the people to turn up in green attire to give moral support to the committee members facing charges.


Anwar’s unity govt talk ‘just a ruse’

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 05:05 PM PDT

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is now at the crossroads and claims to have received overtures from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on forming a "national unity" government

Hawkeye, FMT

Two social activists here believe that the move by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to hint at forming a national unity government is "just a ruse to revive his sagging political fortunes".

Islam activist Mohammed Hafiz Nordin was responding to online reports after Anwar was quoted as confirming that he has received overtures from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on a "unity government."

Hafiz said Anwar would not stop until he secured the prime ministership because he had already reached the crossroads after failing to win federal power.

When Pakatan Rakyat could not deliver Putrajaya, Anwar first accused the Election Commission of alleged fraud and when that momentum frizzled out, he is now talking about "national unity," Hafiz said in an interview.

He said the people were fed up because there were macro-economic issues to contend with, such as the rising cost of living and household debt.

The former Penang PAS Youth head said it was rather unsettling why Anwar would confirm an online report that he was receiving "feelers" from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's camp about the prospect of a "national unity" government.

The "unity" proposal was floated by former vice-president of Indonesia Jusuf Kalla, who is counted as a personal friend of both Malaysian leaders.

Hafiz said the timing of the report quoting Anwar was also interesting as it came when the country was just about to witness party elections in PAS, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and Umno.

DAP, meanwhile, has been directed to hold fresh elections for allegedly violating the guidelines under the Registrar of Societies.

Only PKR seems to be spared from the blushes of party elections, he said.

Secondly, Hafiz said it was an open secret in Pakatan that Anwar's political clout had apparently nose dived since the general election after he went on record to boast that Pakatan would win, but instead lost.

"Why must Anwar talk about a unity government when in 2008, he had convinced PAS to reject Umno's desire to discuss Malay unity," he said.



Bourdon: Jasbir’s statements do not count

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 04:53 PM PDT

Only statements made under oath before the judges count, says Suaram lawyer William Bourdon.

Alyaa Azhar, FMT

Any statements made by Scorpene deal middleman Jasbir Singh Chahl do not count. This is the opinion of Suara Rakyat Malaysia's (Suaram) France-based lawyer William Bourdon.

"Currently, hearing Jasbir as a witness [in the Scorpene submarine deal] is still ongoing. As a consequence, only statements made under oath before the judges count," he said in a press statement.

According to Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel, Jasbir has given a 270-page long testimony in the French court.

Bourdon also gave assurance that findings of the investigations will be shared when the inquiry is completed, "which is not at the moment, as some more researches are still being made by the two French judges."

"As a consequence, the investigations on Perimekar are also underway. No statement regarding the outcome of the proceedings and the evidence gathered by the judges can be made at the moment and information will be shared when results are known," he said.

In a statement, Jasbir had said the Scorpene contract award was made on a transparent basis to the technically most qualified party on a commercially competitive price on a negotiated basis.

According to Jasbir the contract between the Malaysian government and Perimekar Sdn Bhd for a value equivalent of Euro 115 million for a defined scope of works and provision of such services was within commercial norms.

Bourdon meanwhile added that the question of slain Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu's murder was also meant to be processed by the French judges.

Bourdon said even if the French judges saw no link between Altantuya's murder and the Scorpene deal, the French judges will still question the circumstances of her death.

"Accordingly, the testimony of Americk Singh Sidhu should help to reveal the different connections that should be made with corrupt activities, as well as other testimonies that would likely be received by the judges soon," said Bourdon.

The next witness in line to the case is lawyer Americk Sidhu.



Perkasa shields Dr M against Pak Lah’s swipes

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 04:36 PM PDT

(MM) - Malay supremacist group Perkasa leapt to the defence of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) today over his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's stinging criticism published in a book recently.

Responding to media reports on a book of the former prime minister's years in power, Perkasa lashed out against Abdullah's claim that the country would have succumbed to the 2008 banking crisis had he not cancelled Dr Mahathir's earlier projects.

It also denied that the group is encroaching on the rights of other races in its struggle for Malay supremacy.

"Would our country go bankrupt if we had gone on with the projects planned by Tun M? Was our country that rich before Tun M's times? Have the mega projects completed by Tun M made our country bankrupt?" Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali asked in a statement here, referring to Dr Mahathir.

"The most 'malang' (ill-fated) years for Malaysians were during Pak Lah's time as the prime minister between October 2003 and April 2009," he added, referring to Abdullah by his popular moniker.

"Awakening: The Abdullah Years in Malaysia", a book on his short reign as the prime minister who succeeded Dr Mahathir, features an exclusive interview where the usually quiet man finally speaks out against his detractors.

In the days following its release, the book dominated headlines in the media with heavy focus given to Pak Lah's words on Dr Mahathir and what the former prime minister described as "unwarranted attacks" on his person that eventually led to his ouster.

The previously cordial relationship between the two turned sour when, after coming to power, Abdullah discontinued the double-tracking rail mega project approved during Dr Mahathir's time, citing the country's weak finances.

Dr Mahathir had then taken the cancellation, as well as that of the controversial "Crooked Bridge" to Singapore, as personal affronts, saying these insinuated he had mismanaged the country's finances.

Today, Perkasa revisited the double-tracking project, saying that the country has suffered a bigger financial setback when Abdullah decided to resurrect the project years later despite cancelling it earlier.

"The people know who had really dried up the nation's coffers. The people also know who had developed this country. They know who had made the country respected by other developing and foreign nations. They know who had provided many job opportunities," said Syed Hassan.

"They know who had made this country well-known, making more tourists come every year. Every year, more than RM50 billion of foreign funds flowed into the country from the tourism industry, surely it was not the result of Pak Lah's efforts."

Perkasa also railed at Abdullah for accusing the group of encroaching on the rights of the non-Malays, insisting that it is only retaking the "rights" allegedly snatched away from the Malays.

The group also told the former Kepala Batas MP that Barisan Nasional's (BN) dismal win in Election 2008 was due to already waning support from the non-Malays, despite Perkasa not being around at that time.

"The Chinese already rejected BN in 2008 because the government led by Pak Lah was incompetent in managing the economy, making it hard for them to do business," Syed Hassan claimed.

"The Chinese rejected BN in 2008 because they were ashamed of a PM who was not smart and had become the butt of jokes by sleeping in meetings and events."

In an earlier excerpt, Abdullah lashed out at Dr Mahathir for accusing him of sleeping on the job despite the latter knowing that Pak Lah's bouts of public napping were due to a now-corrected disorder of sleep apnoea.

Perkasa's offensive today follows pro-Umno bloggers who have since accused Abdullah of being a "mouthpiece" of the opposition with the release of the book, painting its editors Prof Bridget Welsh and Prof James Chin as alleged anti-BN dissenters.

The Singapore launch has since been cancelled, according to the book's editors yesterday, who earlier postponed a companion event in Kuala Lumpur due to the growing controversy over the tome.

On Saturday, the editors decided to postpone the launch here, citing concerns over its "politicisation" and sensationalisation by media organisations in their reportage of certain portions of the book.

Despite the postponement of the launch, the duo said the book will remain available at book stores nationwide. 


MyWatch chief’s dad wants Bukit Aman to probe shooting, fears bias in Negri

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 04:32 PM PDT

(MM) - The father of R. Sri Sanjeevan today requested for the federal police to investigate the shooting of the MyWatch co-founder last month, saying the crime watchdog's previous allegations against Negri Sembilan state police created a risk of bias.

Sanjeevan (picture) was shot in Bahau, Negri Sembilan on July 28 a day after he tweeted of an alleged threat on his life by a police officer.

Accompanying Sanjeevan's father, P. Ramakrishnan, in lodging the report, fellow MyWatch co-founder S. Gobi Krishnan said the request was a precaution to avoid "conflict of interests" in the state police department.

"Sanjeevan made reports against police officers and members in Negri Sembilan," Gobi said outside the Travers police station here where Ramakrishnan lodged the request today.

"The investigation paper must be handed over to Bukit Aman; they should take over and the father is hoping that the investigation can be concluded very fast," he added.

Gobi said they will try to meet with Bukit Aman's CID director Datuk Hadi Ho Abdullah as soon as possible to receive updates on the investigation.

"But what is most important now I think is the health condition of Sanjeevan, we just want him to come back as soon as possible," Gobi said.

"The surgery is not of importance now, the bullet is in a place where it is not harmful to the body... maybe the surgery might be even more risky."

When asked about Sanjeevan's condition in Serdang Hospital, Ramakrishnan only said that his son was still in critical condition.

"I have full confidence of the police... to safeguard my interest, my families' interest and my son Sanjeeevan," he added while holding back tears.

Prior to the shooting, Sanjeevan also posted a message on Twitter alleging corruption in the upper echelons of the police force.

"Seriously thinking to expose on a top leader of @PDRMsia where his son is under payroll of kingpins and some syndicates. Interesting piece!", referring to the Twitter account of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

His shooting on July 27 and the brazen assassination of Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi in Kuala Lumpur two days later drew the nation's attention to the apparent surge in gun violence.

Last week, Gobi also alleged a gun-for-hire scheme in which drug gangs rented out firearms, primarily Glock handguns, for as little as RM300 for several hours while bullets were sold for 80 sen each.


Thief steals gun, bullets from sleeping police officer

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 04:32 PM PDT

(The Malay Mail) - A 48-year-old serious crimes officer was robbed of his gun with 15 bullets today as he lay sleeping in his car in Section 7, Shah Alam.

The sergeant-major was returning home after attending his father's funeral in Klang at around 1.45am when he stopped his car by the side of the road for a short nap, said the Star online news portal.


He had wound down the car window halfway, the report said.

Halfway through his nap, he felt something tugging at his thigh and woke up to find a man trying to pull out his Walther semi-automatic gun from its holster.

The thief escaped in a red Honda motorcycle before the officer could react, the Star said.

The officer was also believed to have been relieved of his passport, smartphone and RM600 in cash.

Selangor acting police chief Datuk A. Thaiveegan confirmed the incident after the officer lodged a police report.


Read more here:


A 48-year-old serious crimes officer was robbed of his gun with 15 bullets today as he lay sleeping in his car in Section 7, Shah Alam.

The sergeant-major was returning home after attending his father's funeral in Klang at around 1.45am when he stopped his car by the side of the road for a short nap, said the Star online news portal.

He had wound down the car window halfway, the report said.

Halfway through his nap, he felt something tugging at his thigh and woke up to find a man trying to pull out his Walther semi-automatic gun from its holster.

The thief escaped in a red Honda motorcycle before the officer could react, the Star said.

The officer was also believed to have been relieved of his passport, smartphone and RM600 in cash.

Selangor acting police chief Datuk A. Thaiveegan confirmed the incident after the officer lodged a police report.

- See more at:


Buddhist group apologises to Muslims over prayer in surau

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 04:26 PM PDT

(MM) - A group representing Malaysian Buddhists today apologised over a worship session by foreign adherents of the faith held in a Muslim prayer room in Johor that angered followers of Islam.

In a brief statement by the Buddhist Maha Vihara, Chief High Priest of Malaysia Datuk K. Srï Dhammaratana expressed his group's regret while urging followers of the religion to be mindful of others in their worship.

"We would like to apologise to our Muslim brothers and sisters for the actions of a certain Buddhist group from Singapore in having their meditation session at the surau of a resort in Kota Tinggi.

"I advise Buddhists in Malaysia and Singapore to respect the religious sensitivities of other religionists while carrying out our own religious obligations and responsibilities," Dhammaratana said today.

Yesterday, media reports surfaced of a video uploaded to YouTube last week allegedly showing a surau in the Johor resort being used by Buddhist tourists for prayers.

This later led to the arrest and remand of the resort manager under section 295 of the Penal Code, which comes under the heading of "injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class".

The 85-second-long video titled "Surau dijadikan tokong???" (A surau turned into a temple?) begins with an external shot of a small building and a close-up of what appears to be a sign in Arabic script over a doorway.

The video's maker then approaches the building to record what appears to be a prayer session by a dozen white-clad people led by a monk in red and saffron.

Yesterday, Berita Harian reported the resort owner as saying he did not expect the offer to lead to the controversy now.

"I do not think the action of giving permission to believers of other religions to use the surau is wrong. This is because they only wanted to use the surau for meditation.

"I have no intention of hurting anyone's feelings. My intention is to show that Islam is universal and tolerant," said the Singapore-born Muslim. 


Malaysia Mulls Return of Detention Without Trial After Shootings

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 04:24 PM PDT

(Bloomberg) - Malaysia may restore its ability to detain people without trial following a wave of violent gun crime, two years after the practice was abolished to prevent political abuses, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

The government may designate a panel of police officers, judges and lawyers to determine who gets detained rather than leave the decision to the home minister as in the past, Hamidi told the Mingguan Malaysia newspaper yesterday. The interview was posted on Ahmad Zahid's web site and the remarks were confirmed by a spokesman who was not authorized to be named.

The decision would be aimed at fulfilling Prime Minister Najib Razak's vow to introduce new legislation to tackle the surge in crime, which included the July 29 slaying of AMMB Holdings Bhd. (AMM) founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi. In the interview, Hamidi said the decision in 2011 to abolish Malaysia's 1969 Emergency Ordinance, which led to the release of 2,600 people from detention, was partly to blame for the crime wave.

"The surge in violence is related to gangs and the drugs trade," P. Sundramoorthy, a professor of criminology at Universiti Sains Malaysia, said in a phone interview today. "The Emergency Ordinance was necessary, though we acknowledge there were problems with it with regards to human rights and democracy. It was an effective tool."

The law allowed suspects to be detained for as many as two years with the minister's consent. Najib also scrapped the 1960 Internal Security Act, which gave police wide-ranging powers to detain suspects indefinitely. Opposition leaders including Anwar Ibrahim had been held under the ISA.


Read more here:


Despite goodies, Indian vote dropped by 6% in past polls

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 03:55 PM PDT

(TMI) - Going into GE13, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was confident that the Indian vote was firmly with Barisan Nasional after nearly two years of doling out cash and other goodies to Indian groups.

He and other BN politicians were also boosted by the signing of a memorandum with Hindraf just before the general election, promising Waythamoorthy the position of deputy minister.

Guess what? BN lost the Indian vote to Pakatan Rakyat. The percentage of Indian support for BN dropped from 51.1% in 2008 to 45.1% this year.

This information was culled from a study by Merdeka Center of the voting patterns in 222 parliamentary seats.

Support for BN from Indian votes only increased in Kedah (11%) and Pahang (3.1%). It dropped sharply in the urban seats in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor, where Pakatan Rakyat found traction with its focus on BN's spotty record on fighting corruption, abuse of power, and unhappiness over unresolved issues involving minorities.

The swing away from BN was strong in Penang (14.9%), where Indians formed 10.9% of the electorate, in Johor (13.6%) where Indians were 6.6% and in Kuala Lumpur (10.2%) where 10.8% of voters were Indians.

The Merdeka Center survey also confirmed the trend of the Chinese swing away from BN. Only 24.4% of Chinese voters supported the ruling coalition, a drop of just under 20% from 2008.

Following BN's inability to win two-thirds control of Parliament for the second consecutive election, Najib and other BN leaders accused the community of betrayal, coining the phrase "Chinese tsunami" to explain BN's poor electoral performance.

The Chinese swing away from BN was strongest in Johor, which the DAP targeted as a frontline state by fielding a few of its national leaders, including Lim Kit Siang.

The Chinese were 39.4% of the voters in Johor. In 2008, BN obtained 52.7% of their vote. On May 5, this figure dropped to 21.3%.



Resort owner arrested for allowing use of surau by Buddhists

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 03:47 PM PDT

(TMI) - The owner of the resort in Kota Tinggi who had allowed a group of Buddhists to meditate in a surau there has been remanded for four days.

The Star Online reported that Kota Tinggi Sessions Court registrar Hairul Azhar Mohamad issued the remand order today against the resort owner who is a Singaporean with Malaysian permanent resident status.

The 45-year-old man was arrested on Sunday afternoon at the Tanjung Sutera Resort and is currently being investigated under Section 295 of the Penal Code for defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.

His arrest came after a YouTube video portrayed a group who looked like monks conducting religious prayers in a surau, leading a group in meditation in front of a portrait of Buddha.

The 63-second video called "Chinese Buddhist pray in surau: surau becomes temple" was uploaded on August 10 and has generated more than 10,000 views.

It was reported in Berita Harian yesterday that the resort owner  defended his action saying that he did not think the action of giving permission to believers of other religions to use the surau was wrong.

He was quoted as saying: "This is because they only wanted to use the surau for meditation.

"So we allowed them to use the surau in the resort but their bringing other religious items into the surau was done without my knowledge." 


MAS should be sold but not at a loss, says Idris Jala

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 03:41 PM PDT

Ranjit Singh, TMI

Putrajaya should consider selling flag carrier Malaysian Airlines System Bhd (MAS) but not at a loss, its former boss Datuk Seri Idris Jala (pic) said today.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department said MAS was trading at RM6.00 when he was at the helm but currently the share price of the compay has tanked to 30 sen.

The government's state asset manager Khazanah Nasional Bhd is the majority owner of MAS, which has posted losses for its last six quarterly results.

Idris  was speaking at the Global Malaysia Series at the Securities Commission today. AirAsia group chief executive Tan Sri Tony Fernandes was also a speaker at the event.

The government should minimise its participation in business and should play the role of a facilitator to businesses rather than have direct involvement, said Fernandes.

He said Malaysian companies should be bold in going global and that AirAsia woud have been "gobbled up" by competitors if it remained inward looking and had not expanded beyond Malaysian shores.

"Malaysian companies should challenge the norm, remove structures that inhibit innovation and have a relentless quest for  excellence," added Fernandes.



Tony Fernandes: Change is important

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 03:26 PM PDT

Air Asia founder believes Malaysians enjoy being "spoon-fed" by the government and "do not like change".

Lisa J. Ariffin, FMT

Tony Fernandes believes that most Malaysians rely on the government too much and are not susceptible to change.

The Air Asia Group CEO said today that organisations – whether political or private companies – need frequent change in leadership in order to progress.

"The problem with Malaysia is that when people stay too long in their positions. They think they're invincible," Fernandes said today at Pemandu's Global Malaysia Series LIVE here.

"Organisations need to refresh, whether it's political or a company. Letting go is important to ensure there is strong succession planning," he added.

Fernandes said the difference between governments and private companies is that the latter easily adapts to change.

"If somebody (in a company) screws up, we change them immediately," he said.

"We got to have people that can adapt to change. Malaysians don't like change," he reiterated.

Fernandes also urged the public to speak out when they feel that they are being marginalised.

"Don't moan about not getting help from the government and say 'Pemandu is not doing enough to help the people', go out and do something about it," he said.

"Don't just complain behind their backs," he added.

Government should stay out of businesses

The founder of Tune Group also believed that the government should "facilitate business" and "not be involved in them".

"At the moment, we have civil servants sitting on the board of GLCs (government-linked companies). The big fear is that the government will get more involved in businesses," he said.

Fernandes said the country "needs to be honest with itself" and acknowledge constructive criticisms, especially on a global level.

"We should embrace change and we need to be honest with ourselves; and where are we in the global league in transparency and accountability," he said.

"Take education for example. We got to make sure that we are producing the best students to remain competitive. But I'm not sure if we have improved. That's why honesty is important," he added.



Did Umno really scare up strong Malay support? Not quite, shows study

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 12:42 PM PDT

In GE13, Malay votes in favour of Barisan Nasional increased in most states, a Merdeka Center study revealed. TMI pic, August 13, 2013.

(TMI) - Umno's election strategy of ratcheting up fear among Malays over the loss of political power actually yielded only a slight increase in Malay support in the past general election.

In contrast, right-wing rhetoric, unresolved issues of race and religion as well as the belief that Pakatan Rakyat should be given a shot at running the country saw a 20% swing of Chinese voters and 5% swing of Indian voters away from Barisan Nasional, compared with 2008.

In fact, what really did help Umno tap the rural vote was its strong political machinery there as well as the villagers' continued dependence on government aid and services. Cash handouts under BR1M also played a part.

These facts were revealed by a Merdeka Center study of voting patterns in the past election. To determine the voting pattern by ethnicity, the independent pollster analysed 9,000 polling districts.

The study isolated polling districts with over 90% of a particular community and then compiled the lists according to the state and rural areas versus an urban setting.



Pak Lah: I only gave an interview

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 12:38 PM PDT

(The Star) - Former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has clarified that the newly-published Awakening: The Abdullah Years In Malaysia has nothing to do with him beyond an interview he gave to the authors.

"The book is not written by me. It is a compilation of a number of articles from various writers compiled by academics Prof Bridget Welsh and Prof James UH Chin.

"Some articles are rumoured to be positive, many are negative and critical," the former Kepala Batas MP said in a statement yesterday.

"I am not sponsoring or endorsing the book, or asking for it to be published.

"It is normal for academics to analyse the political history of a nation and of course, I cannot escape from scholarly study. I only agreed to be interviewed so my opinions and explanations are included in the book," said Abdullah, who emphasised that his only involvement was the interview.

"I do not intend to attend the book launch, because I do not want people to assume that this book was written or sponsored by me. I just answered the questions asked.

"News that Opposition party leaders were invited to launch the book in Singapore — even if its true — is the publisher's decision, not mine," said the former premier, adding that he was not told about any launches or invitations to discuss the book.

Awakening made headlines after excerpts of Abdullah's interview, in which he was critical of his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, were leaked.

He had criticised some of Mahathir's policies, and said the latter was incapable of accepting "any other view except his own".

Abdullah also said his predecessor's attacks had strengthened his resolve to not interfere with the work of his successor, current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"That is why I have remained silent all this time. I believe that once you retire, you are retired."

The book attracted further controversy after it was announced that PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar would be launching the book in Singapore. Still, the former premier has no regrets doing the interview.

"Like it or not, agree or not, I adhere to the principle of openness as the axis of a mature democracy. Although I was told this book will have critical and possibly unflattering articles about my leadership, I agreed to be interviewed in the spirit of openness."


Johor resort operator to face action over use of surau by Buddhists - Bernama

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 11:42 AM PDT

The Buddhists group are seen here in the surau at the resort in Kota Tinggi. August 13, 2013.

(Bernama) - The Johor Fatwa Committee will decide on the action against a resort operator in Sedili Besar, Kota Tinggi, which allegedly allowed its surau to be used for other religious services.

Johor Mufti Datuk Mohd Tahrir Samsudin said a decision would be made after an investigation is carried out under Section 7(a) of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1997 for insulting Islam or causing Islam to be looked down upon.

"Based on monitoring and surveying of the surau, we find there is doubt in terms of its design. It does not face the Kaabah (in Mecca, as required) but faces outside of Masjidil Haram," he said.

He said this after visiting the surau at a resort near Sedili Besar here today, which was believed to have been used for Buddhist religious activities.

Also present were Johor Religious Council Adviser Datuk Noh Gadut and Kota Tinggi District Officer Mohd Noor Azam Osman.

Mohd Tahrir reminded all quarters to abide by the law and not belittle the sanctity of Islam.

Meanwhile, Noh said, based on his observation, there were errors in the Quranic verses and writings found in the surau area which gave rise to doubt and tarnished the sanctity of Islam.

He stressed that the issue would cause problems if not tackled, especially in the light of Malaysia practising a multi-racial policy.

Newspapers today reported that residents in the fishing village of Sedili Besar were upset when a surau in a resort was found to have been used for other religious services.

Meanwhile, Johor police have detained the resort manager to facilitate investigations.

State police chief Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said the 45-year-old man was picked up at the resort today at 2pm.

He said a special team headed by his deputy, Datuk Ismail Yatim, was investigating the matter.

Minister backs ‘Shia conversion'

Posted: 12 Aug 2013 11:14 AM PDT

Separation: Shiite refugees (right side of the blue cloth) participate in Idul Fitri prayers at a mosque near their camp in Sidoarjo, East Java, on Thursday. The Shiite followers are saying their prayers without prayer mats, because they were not allowed to participate in the prayers along with other Muslims. (JP/Indra Harsaputra)

Weeks after the Shiites were evicted from their home villages in Sampang in June this year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono assigned the Religious Affairs Ministry to lead the reconciliation process in cooperation with the Sunan Ampel State Islamic Institute (IAIN) in Surabaya.

Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post

Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali has again come under fire for allegedly supporting the forced conversion of Shia followers to Sunni Islam in a reconciliation program the government claimed was meant to end the conflict between the two Islamic denominations in Madura, East Java.

Human rights activists accused the minister of failing to put aside his personal beliefs in the reconciliation process and demanded that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono disengage him from the efforts to return the Shia refugees.

"The government should instead involve people like [former vice president] Jusuf Kalla or Catholic priest Franz Magnis Suseno, for example, in the reconciliation process instead of SDA, who is obviously unable to take a distance with his personal religious belief," Hertasning Ichlas, executive director of Universalia Legal Aid Institute (YLBH Universalia) and an attorney for Sampang Shia community, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday, referring to Surydharma with his initials.

Weeks after the Shiites were evicted from their home villages in Sampang in June this year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono assigned the Religious Affairs Ministry to lead the reconciliation process in cooperation with the Sunan Ampel State Islamic Institute (IAIN) in Surabaya.

However, Hertasning said that Suryadharma and his fellow United Development Party (PPP) politician, Djan Faridz, who is also the Public Housing Minister, attended meetings where the Shiites were forced to denounce their faith if they wished to safely return to their villages.

Such meetings were also supported by Sampang Regent Fannan Hasib, who was nominated by two Islamic parties, the PPP and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Head of Sampang's Municipal Political and National Unity Office (Kesbangpol) Rudi Setiadi, local police officials and a number of Sunni clerics.

According to Hertasning, 34 out of around 235 Shiites evicted from Sampang have returned to their homes by Aug. 7 as they finally agreed to sign a pledge of nine points which included willingness to return to "the true teaching of Islam" as well as to condemn of the teachings of Shiite cleric Tajul Muluk, who is currently imprisoned over blasphemy.



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