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All set for a transformation in education

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 12:32 PM PDT


(NST) - Headed by Wan Zahid, the National Dialogue on Education 2012 was held in several locations throughout the country since April to help conceptualise and draw up the development plan for the Malaysian Education Blueprint.

PUTRAJAYA: The Education system under the Malaysian Education Blueprint (2013-2025) to be launched next month will strive to deliver quality education and produce pupils of international standards 

National Education Dialogue Panel chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Wan Mohd Nordin said one of the outcomes in the blueprint was for schools to be empowered to carry out teaching methods and systems which was deemed best for their pupils.

"The Education Ministry has realised and accepted that education can't be centralised to achieve education excellence among pupils whose capacity and capabilities are different.

"Pupils have unique characteristics, and schools must be empowered to promote teaching systems and methods to cater for their pupils," he added.

He said the blueprint, which focuses on six attributes -- knowledge, thinking skills, leadership, bilingual proficiency, ethics and national identity -- could be achieved through various approaches depending on the pupil's standards and capabilities.

Headed by Wan Zahid, the National Dialogue on Education 2012 was held in several locations throughout the country since April to help conceptualise and draw up the development plan for the Malaysian Education Blueprint.

The ministry took into account proposals from 153 letters and memorandums from various non-governmental organisations, associations, institutions, educationists and the public.

The recommendations were submitted during the three-month long National Dialogue on Education sessions, an initiative by the government to gather suggestions from stakeholders on a large scale on ways to enhance the education system.

"This was the first time in the world that a government had invited views from the public on a large scale to come up with a development plan for national education.

"It was aimed at consolidating and enhancing the quality of all schools, including national and vernacular schools, mission schools and government-aided religious schools," the former director-general of Education said.

The blueprint is scheduled to be launched by the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the education minister, next month.

The education transformation will be carried in three waves to ensure the education system was on a par with that of developed nations, over the course of the next 13 years.

The first wave, which would be the implementation of the blueprint, will focus on teachers and core student skills.

The second wave will be building upon progress after wave three, between 2020 and 2025, would give schools complete autonomy to handle their own administration.

Wan Zahid added that to bear a successful outcome, the ministry needs to maintain simplicity in implementing the new policies.

"Simplicity is the mother of success.

"Therefore, implementation should be made comprehensible not only by educationists but also by pupils and their parents."

He said the blueprint must have ownership, as it should be owned by those who wish to see the nation's education system be world class.

When asked what he would want to see in the education system in Malaysia in the next 10 years, he said; "To have pupils who are intellectually and academically compatible".

Alvin Vivian Cabar Kesahihan Seksyen 298(A)

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 12:26 PM PDT


(mynewshub) - Seksyen 298(A) Kanun Keseksaan memperuntukkan kesalahan atas alasan agama yang boleh menyebabkan suasana tidak harmoni, perpecahan atau permusuhan, benci membenci atau niat jahat atau memudaratkan pemeliharaan keadaan harmoni atau perpaduan.

Mahkamah Seksyen hari ini menangguhkan sebutan kes melibatkan pasangan blogger sex, Alvin Tan Jye Yee, 25 dan Vivian Lee May Ling, 24 setelah mereka memohon untuk menyemak semula kesahihan salah satu daripada tiga pertuduhan yang dikenakan terhadap mereka.

Hakim Murtazadi Amran telah meluluskan permohonan yang diwakili peguam Choong Joo Tian dan menetapkan tarikh pengurusan kes berakhir pada 19 September akan datang.

Choong yang mewakili anak guamnya telah memfailkan semakan semula terhadap Seksyen 298(A) apabila dia melihat pertuduhan tersebut tidak berkaitan dengan anak guamnya.

"Secara jelas ia melanggar kebebasan bersuara dan perlu disemak semula pertuduhan tersebut," jelas Choong di perkarangan Mahkamah Seksyen di sini pagi tadi.

Alvin dan Vivian bagaimanapun enggan menjawab soalan-soalan yang diajukan wartawan.

Menurut Choong, sebutan pertuduhan terhadap anak guamnya akan diteruskan selepas permohonan mereka itu telah mendapat keputusan daripada Mahkamah Tinggi.

Seksyen 298(A) Kanun Keseksaan memperuntukkan kesalahan atas alasan agama yang boleh menyebabkan suasana tidak harmoni, perpecahan atau permusuhan, benci membenci atau niat jahat atau memudaratkan pemeliharaan keadaan harmoni atau perpaduan.

Sabit kesalahan, boleh dihukum penjara tidak kurang dua tahun dan tidak lebih lima tahun.

Selain daripada pertuduhan tersebut, mereka turut dituduh di bawah Akta Hasutan 1948 dan Akta Penapisan Filem 2002.

Minister wants law on compulsory flying of national flag

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 12:21 PM PDT


(Bernama) - The Communications and Multimedia Ministry will study the need to introduce a law to make it compulsory for premises to fly the Jalur Gemilang throughout the month of Merdeka.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said such a law was necessary because many premises and buildings, especially those owned by private organisations do not understand the need or importance of flying the Jalur Gemilang to show their love for the nation.

"Currently we have not reached a stage to enforce any law on such premises or buildings whether they are private or government...now it is voluntary.

"However, I have seen many private buildings not responding to the call to fly the Jalur Gemilang," he told reporters at the Pocket Show programme launch in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Also present was the ministry's secretary-general Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf and Information Director-general Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman.

Pocket Show is a programme organised by the Information Department, aimed at distributing Jalur Gemilang in and around the city.

During the programme, Ahmad Shabery gave out the "Jalur Gemilang" to community leaders in Wangsa Maju, representatives of resident associations in Wangsa Maju and Gombak, traders and members of the public. 

Bury Lynas 1,000,000 Signatures - In Kuching

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 11:57 AM PDT

Campaign : Bury Lynas 1,000,000 Signatures

Organiser : DAP Kuching
Venue : Premier 101 (In front of Choice Premier)
Time : 7.30pm ~ 9.30pm TODAY

Person In Charge : Bong Kuet Vuic (016-888 7229)

PM’s Office says Malaysia ahead of Israel in ‘Endless Possibilities’, but…

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 11:52 AM PDT


 (MM) - Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the new slogan was not an imitation of the Israeli effort, but an extension of the iconic "Malaysia Boleh!" tagline from the time of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

The new tagline is to complement the existing "1 Malaysia: People First. Performance Now" and not to replace it, he said.

"1 Malaysia is to unite the people. 'Endless possibilities' is to market Malaysia globally," he said, to inform the world that "they can do business with us".

PETALING JAYA, Aug 24 — Malaysia came out with "Endless Possibilities" as its new global theme months before Israel released a similar tagline, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has said amid a national uproar over claims that the slogan had been plagiarised.

But the shadow cast by the controversy is unlikely to lift soon in the face of an online video that shows the exact same catchphrase used to sell Mongolia, uploaded over a year ago.

"Malaysia's 'Endless Possibilities' nation branding concept was publicly launched in January 2013 at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

"The Tourism Ministry of Israel started using 'Endless Possibilities' to promote their conference and incentive market four months later, in May 2013," the PMO said in a statement emailed to The Malay Mail Online yesterday.

This daily had asked the PMO for clarification after pro-establishment bloggers kicked up a storm this week over the striking similarities between the Najib administration's new global branding slogan and Israel's Ministry of Tourism's tagline "Israel. One Place. Endless Possibilities".

But soon after receiving the PMO's explanation, The Malay Mail Online was made aware that a video advertisement marketing Mongolia using the exact same tagline had been uploaded onto YouTube nearly one year before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak first mentioned it at Davos.

A short clip titled "Mongolia Endless Possibilities by CNN" has been available on the popular video-sharing website since it was uploaded on February 19, 2012, by a YouTube account user named BDSecJSC.

A voiceover in the 30-second clip says "With a thriving economy and diverse workforce and rich mineral resources, the opportunities are as vast as the landscape", before ending with the words "Mongolia, Endless Possibilities".

The word "Mongolia" streams across the screen in a riot of colours towards the end of the clip, with the two words, "Endless Possibilities", shown in a smaller and darker-coloured typeface below it.

A check on the Internet revealed "BDSecJSC" to be the initials of a stock brokerage and investment bank which claims to be the largest in Mongolia.

A check on Coloribus, an online archive of advertisements worldwide, lists international news broadcaster CNN, and its owner, Turner Broadcasting System, as creating an "Eye on Mongolia" promotional campaign in August 2011.

The campaign was said to promote Mongolia as a tourism and investment destination.

Yesterday, The Malay Mail Online reported  two Cabinet ministers as defending the "Endless Possibilities" theme.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the new slogan was not an imitation of the Israeli effort, but an extension of the iconic "Malaysia Boleh!" tagline from the time of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The new tagline is to complement the existing "1 Malaysia: People First. Performance Now" and not to replace it, he said.

"1 Malaysia is to unite the people. 'Endless possibilities' is to market Malaysia globally," he said, to inform the world that "they can do business with us".

Nazri said the branding venture had been undertaken by a professional local publicist, with the "Endless Possibilities" slogan being a collective agreement by Najib and his Cabinet.

"We've employed a PR agency, it's Farid Ridzuan from Media Prima who was tasked from the very beginning to market Malaysia in [sic] the world, so the Cabinet has been kept informed on this and finally, decided on 'Endless Possibilities'," Nazri said.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Malaysia still maintains "a very strong stance against Israel for some of the things they have done to Palestinians".

"So people must be able to put this discussion or this debate in a better perspective, unless 'Endless Possibilities' has been patented by Israelis, I think this is ridiculous," he said.

Malaysia is a staunch supporter of the Muslim Palestinian cause in the decades-old Middle East territorial struggle, and is a major critic of Israel's policies, which has caused it to withhold from forming any diplomatic ties with the Zionist government.

The Malay Mail Online's checks showed that Israel's official website for its Ministry of Tourism carries a link for "Conference and Incentive Tourism" under the heading "Our Websites".

The link opens up to a website which features the tagline "Israel: One Place. Endless Possibilities" prominently in its top-left corner.

The same tagline was also the headline of a April 22, 2013 press release by the Israel Ministry of Tourism on the website of IMEX 2014, a global exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events that will take place in Frankfurt, Germany next year.

The resemblance to the Israeli theme also has Internet observers questioning the value in the Prime Minister's Department commissioning advisers to "copy" the slogan.

Other detractors have also highlighted that the Najib adminstration's 1 Malaysia campaign in 2009 bore a striking resemblance to the "1 Israel" theme.

Najib has been sporting a dark-blue badge bearing a 14-pointed star in red, yellow and white above the word "Malaysia", The Star daily reported last Thursday.

"It (the branding slogan) is to complement 1 Malaysia, not to replace it," Najib also said, referring to the "1 Malaysia" concept that was launched in 2009 during his first term as prime minister.

According to The Star, "Endless Possibilities" is to be formally launched here on September 17, a day after Malaysia marks the 50th anniversary of its formation.

Will there be justice for Sabah?

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 11:33 AM PDT


Apart from that, the result of the heinous action of giving away the ICs has been tantamount to selling the country to foreigners.It is outright treason. And that demands punishment.We revoked the permanent residence status of a Singaporean because he allowed a group of Singaporean Buddhists to meditate in a surau. What should we do to people who sell our country? 

Kee Thuan Chye 

The recent testimonies at the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah have certainly been revealing – to some of us, shocking.To be sure, prior to the RCI, we had heard rumours and allegations of identity cards being given to illegal immigrants, under what has been called Project IC or Project M (after ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad), so that they could vote for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and keep it in power, but hearing it now from the mouths of people involved in the project confirms our fear that our country's citizenships have indeed been given away cheaply and illegally.

One of the witnesses, former Sandakan chief district officer Hassnar Ebrahim who first gave out forms in 1981 to Filipino and Indonesian illegal immigrants to allow them to apply for ICs, gave damning indication that Mahathir must have given his approval to the project because an enterprise of such a magnitude would have required it.

Besides, Hassnar said he attended a "secret meeting" in the 1980s that involved officers from the Prime Minister's Department, the Immigration Department and the police, and at this meeting, then home affairs minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub said Mahathir had approved the project.

It was proposed that 130,000 to 150,000 names be added to the Sabah electoral roll to boost the Muslim vote. Although there were protests from one of the officers present, the proposal was passed. Hassnar himself was given 30,000 HNR3 forms to take back to Sabah. These forms were for the immigrants to apply for blue ICs.

Another witness, former banker Mat Swadi Awi, gave startling testimony when he revealed that he was the "grand designer" of the exercise conducted from 1987 to 1990 to distribute voters throughout Sabah who would vote for United Sabah National Organisation (Usno), a BN component party, with the aim of toppling the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government.

He did this in response to a personal request from then Usno president Datu Mustapha Datu Harun – with the consent of Megat Junid. They both told him that Mahathir knew about the plan and had given his approval.

The plan was to increase the number of Malay and Muslim voters in strategic constituencies by deploying to these places immigrants who already had either fake or genuine Malaysian documents, as well as Malaysian citizens from Peninsular Malaysia and those serving in Sabah.

Mat Swadi said he selected a total of 20,000 names. Of these, one-third comprised Malaysian citizens and the rest were immigrants.

What did he do with these names? Here's the punchline – he gave them to the Election Commission (EC) to be registered as voters in those constituencies. The EC! The body that is supposed to be independent and neutral colluded in this sinister exercise!

Also, according to Mat Swadi, the National Registration Department (NRD) helped by identifying who among the immigrants should be Malaysianised and then supplying the data to him.

The terrifying thing that emerges from these testimonies is that the various branches of authority were in it together. The police, the NRD, the Immigration Department, the EC were allegedly in on the scheme. As Mat Swadi said, "You would not get the approval for (the issuance of the ICs and their registration in electoral rolls) without the involvement of the agencies concerned."

And, according to Hassnar, even Biro Tata Negara (BTN), which comes under the Prime Minister's Department, was involved in registering illegal immigrants as voters after they had secured their blue ICs.

This makes it sound all the more that the whole project would have been a government conspiracy.

And what was it all for?

From what we've heard throughout the RCI, it was all for the purpose of increasing Malay-Muslim power in Sabah in order to oust the Kadazandusun-dominated PBS and keep it out … well, forever.

The alleged motive is political engineering at its most repulsive. Hassnar said the then Sabah NRD director Sani Abdullah refused to join the secret meeting chaired by Megat Junid. Sani said "this was treason and it would cause a disaster". As it has turned out, Sani was right.

It is treason. And it is a disaster. Malaysian-born Sabahans are now swamped by the foreigners who were given citizenships.

Hassnar observed that "these foreigners are even taking over native land that belonged to the original Bumiputera Sabahans". He also spoke of a Bugis immigrant who came to assume the name of Sabahan Halim Ahmad who had died without his death having been reported to the authorities. The Bugis used Halim's birth certificate to apply for a blue IC in 2009. It was approved by the NRD. Today, this man allegedly controls illegal gambling dens in Sandakan.

It would seem that unlike Singapore, which has been opening its doors to foreigners in order to attract the best talents, we have been attracting the dregs of society.

What should be done about the situation? Clearly, the absorption of illegal immigrants into the Sabah citizenry has been a problem for genuine Sabahans for a long time, and many of them have been hoping that the RCI will finally address the problem with genuine seriousness in order to solve it. But will it prove to do that?

And will the current federal government, regardless of what the RCI panel eventually recommends, do what really needs to be done to once and for all correct the wrong and the injustice the past federal governments have inflicted on the people of Sabah?

As early as last year, the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), now in the Opposition, proposed the issuing of Sabahan identity cards only to those qualified to be Malaysians in order to safeguard the rights of genuine Sabahans.

Then in March this year, Bernard Dompok, president of BN component party United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), asked for all ICs issued in Sabah to be recalled and reissued to only those identified as genuine Sabahans, so as to weed out those who obtained theirs through dubious means.

Two other Sabah BN parties, PBS and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), joined in to support the idea.

It was, however, rejected by then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Aziz, who said it would be difficult to be implemented and there would be legal implications.

He could be right. Now that the camel has been allowed into the tent, how do we coax it to leave? How will we clean the Augean stables that has proven to be a herculean task?

Just on a simplistic level, we could consider that many of the illegal holders are now running businesses in the state. Some, like the Bugis posing as Halim Ahmad, are probably controlling illegal syndicates. Try taking the ICs away from them and see what their reactions would be.

Even so, the right thing has to be done. Apart from that, the result of the heinous action of giving away the ICs has been tantamount to selling the country to foreigners. It is outright treason. And that demands punishment.

We revoked the permanent residence status of a Singaporean because he allowed a group of Singaporean Buddhists to meditate in a surau. What should we do to people who sell our country? 

Growing chasm between world markets warns of new crisis

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 11:22 AM PDT


(MM) -  And while developed nations are heading up, developing countries have gone in the opposite direction; MSCI's Emerging Market Index showed a loss of 13 per cent in equity since the start of the year. Worryingly for observers, this is the biggest the gap between developed and emerging markets has been since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Concerns over a global meltdown reminiscent of the Asian financial crisis are mounting as the gap between emerging markets such as Malaysia and top developed nations has begun to accelerate.

Since the start of the year, the world's top 10 developed nations have steadily outperformed emerging markets — once the darling of investors — with the former group expanding even as the latter economies regress.

A record of the MSCI world index starting from New Year's Eve shows that, cumulatively, the 10 largest developed nations have gained 12 per cent in market value for the year to date.

And while developed nations are heading up, developing countries have gone in the opposite direction; MSCI's Emerging Market Index showed a loss of 13 per cent in equity since the start of the year.

Worryingly for observers, this is the biggest the gap between developed and emerging markets has been since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The situation is exacerbated by the US Federal Reserve's expected cutback on its bonds-buying programme from the current US$85 billion (RM280 billion a month). It has said the withdrawal of the stimulus will be gentle, but signs of a turbulent exit are already there.

"Hot money is flowing out of Asia and Latin America, pushing up effective interest rates in economies where rates of growth had started to slow anyway," financial columnist Nils Pratley wrote in his column for British newspaper The Guardian yesterday.

"The Indonesian rupiah has fallen 11 per cent against the US dollar in the past three months. The Indian rupee is off 13 per cent in the same period."

The ringgit is also at a three-year low against the US dollar, having shed over 7 per cent in value versus the greenback since the start of the year.

"Much more of this, and we're looking at a proper crisis," Pratley added.

According to report in the New York Times yesterday, the susceptibility of emerging markets to a possible repeat of the Asian financial crisis was rooted, ironically, in the measures they took in the aftermath of the 1997 crash.

"The Asian financial crisis, in which developing countries that had maintained fixed exchange rates were forced to abruptly devalue their currencies, turned out to have a lasting effect. Countries decided that it was critical to run balance of payments surpluses and to build up foreign currency reserves.

"That stood the developing countries in good stead when the credit crisis erupted in 2008, but afterward, it became harder for the developing countries," the US newspaper wrote.

Pratley also noted that the world economy was now even more intertwined than it had been in the '90s, magnifying the vulnerability of other emerging markets should one peer succumb.

"In the 1997-98 crisis there was a domino effect as Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia were sucked in. What we know about today's global economy is that it's even more interconnected," he wrote.

But he also predicted that this interconnection will see emerging markets through, expecting the rise of Western nations to provide sufficient impetus to avoid an outright crisis.

"A muddling through is probably still the safer bet on the grounds that the economies of the US and parts of Europe appear to be recovering. That's the fundamentally bullish reason why a US exit from QE is in prospect."

Altantuya murder case: More questions than answers

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 09:55 PM PDT

The acquittal and release of Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar and C/Insp Azilah Hadri, the two former Special Action Unit Personnel members, who were found guilty and sentenced to death in 2009 for her murder, has raised calls for further inquiry into the Altantuya murder case.


Seven years ago, a woman was murdered and her body blown up in an attempt to conceal the evidence.

Today, after a number of high-profile trials and acquittals, the truth behind the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu remains a mystery.

The acquittal and release of Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar and C/Insp Azilah Hadri, the two former Special Action Unit Personnel members, who were found guilty and sentenced to death in 2009 for her murder, has raised calls for further inquiry into the Altantuya murder case.

"There should be an independent inquiry into the conduct of the prosecution in the Altantuya case," said DAP National Legal Bureau chairman Gobind Singh Deo in a statement.

"The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of Sirul and Azilah citing, amongst other things, a failure on part of the prosecution to call a material witness, one DSP Musa Safri, a former aide de camp of the Prime Minister," he said.

Gobind claimed that not calling this witness resulted in their case collapsing.

"The Attorney-General and his team ought to have known that he was an important witness. They have vast experience in handling cases like these and they know for a fact that they would run a serious risk of having their case thrown out for failure of calling him," he said.

He said that it raised questions as to whether there had been "proper investigations and a proper presentation of evidence in court".

"We cannot allow these concerns to go unanswered. There must be an independent inquiry by people who are not associated with the AG's chambers to review the investigation papers and to report back as to the propriety of the conduct of the prosecution in this case," said the Puchong MP.

Deputy Solicitor General II Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah who led the prosecution said that they would be appealing the Court of Appeal's judgement.

Another option to seek justice for Altantuya lies in the civil court.

Her father, Dr Setev Shaariibuu will pursue the RM100mil civil suit against the two officers acquitted of her murder, said his counsel Karpal Singh.

Karpal, who is holding a watching brief for Shaariibuu, said he will push for the suit to be heard as soon as the criminal case is settled in the Federal Court.

"I am writing to the Mongolian embassy, to whom I also represent," he said.

"I have not received instructions from Mr Setev. However, he is bound to contact me," said Karpal, added that he was sure Altantuya's father was aware of the outcome of the appeal.

Other news portals reported Setev had asked the Mongolian government to intervene in the matter, however, Bar Council president Christopher Leong believes there is nothing much that it can do.

"This is a criminal matter that is now within the purview of the courts, and there should not be any interference in the judicial process by any quarter," said Leong.

The case is clearly a polarising one, with some political implications.

Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, in charge of legal affairs at the time of prosecution, declined to comment.

Tan Sri Musa Hassan, who was Inspector-General of Police at the time the case came to light, was equally tight-lipped, saying, "It's the court's decision. No comment is needed".

PKR vice-president and Padang Serai MP N.Surendran said the trial of Altantuya's killers "was a charade from the beginning".

"Now no one has been found guilty or punished for Altantuya's murder. Is this justice? It is a national embarrassment and failure of justice," the lawyer told The Star Online.

Azmi Sharom, a law professor, said the public had forgotten about the case but its ghost has risen again.

"There will be all these conspiracy theories coming up saying that the relevant authorities purposely did a bad job so that they can overturn the conviction.

"In a high-profile case like this, a lot of questions will be raised. Issues like why certain things weren't brought up in trial as well as questions about the standards of the prosecutor," he said.

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, the former Minister in charge of legal affairs, posted several tweets on the acquittal.

One read: "I am disappointed with the Court of Appeal judges. Not for acquittal but for failing to order a retrial #fb".

"In the interest of justice, a balanced retrial would have been appropriate. Now it's not possible," said Zaid when contacted.

He said that if a retrial had been ordered, it would allow both sides to take another look at the case as "witnesses can be called again, to get justice".

"I think the decision to acquit those two puts an end to this case altogether. Under the double jeopardy law, they can't be tried for the same charges again," said Zaid.

According to him, the Court of Appeal in England can order a retrial as the law sets out certain circumstances allowing it.

"I believe the rules in Malaysia are the same. There should not be an acquittal when something seems to suggest that it's not right - in our case, there was a prior conviction," he said.

He said the Court of Appeal itself had pointed out several flaws in the earlier trial: unclear evidence, material discrepancies, and the failure to call key witnesses.

"Obviously, the prosecutor didn't do a proper job. At the same time, I think there was enough evidence to suggest the two were involved in some way. Otherwise, the first judge wouldn't have convicted them," he added.

To Leong, questions have been raised as to the conduct of the police investigations and the prosecution in this case.

"At the moment, it appears that no one is to be held accountable for Altantuya's murder. This case has left many questions unanswered. It begs the further question of 'Who does one turn to for justice in Malaysia when one's child is murdered?", he said.

Suaram secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel said the verdict raised more unanswered questions.

"The fundamental questions remain unanswered. No one has paid for her death, no one knows why she was killed and who gave the instruction to kill her," she said when contacted.

Gabriel said the only way for the public seek the truth was through an independent inquiry to determine the circumstances of the death.


Altantuya murder: Ex-aide's testimony irrelevant, says Gani Patail

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 09:18 PM PDT

(The Star) - Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has maintained that the testimony of DSP Musa Safri, the former aide of then deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, had no relevance as the whole narrative of the prosecution's case has unfolded in the trial before the High Court.

"While respecting the Court of Appeal, the Attorney-General's Chamber for prosecution is dissatisfied with the decision as non-direction or misdirection by the trial court is not the fault of the prosecution," he said in a press statement.

As such, he said, the prosecution will file an appeal on the acquittal of former Special Action Force duo C/Insp Azilah Hadri and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar by the Court of Appeal for the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.

The three-member panel of the Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the High Court's conviction of the two police officers.

The panel comprising Justices Mohamed Apandi Ali, Linton Albert and Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, had ruled that the cumulative effect of the misdirections by the trial judge had rendered the judgement unsafe.

The panel concluded that the trial judge had erred by not examining whether the contradictions and inconsistencies in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses were material.

In regards to the explosives, they ruled that after linking the explosives to the death of Altantuya, the trial judge should have made a further finding to connect the explosives to the appellants.


As I said, the law is an ass

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 05:34 PM PDT

As I said, yet again, the law is an ass. And if you know your way around the law then you can literally, and figure of speech wise, get away with murder. Al Capone did in spite of the whole world knowing that he had committed numerous murders. Finally, the US government had to put him away on tax evasion charges.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

As I said exactly one month ago on 23rd July 2013, the law is an ass (READ THE ARTICLE HERE).

So, is this going to be yet another 'I told you so' article? I was no doubt referring to Anwar Ibrahim's two sodomy trials in that article, both crimes that he was eventually acquitted for -- the first during the appeal and the second during the trial proper. Nevertheless, in the first acquittal, the court said that it believed that Anwar was guilty as charged but then the prosecution had failed to prove his guilt.

Hence it is not about whether you did or did not commit the crime. It is whether the prosecution succeeded in proving your guilt. And if the prosecution did not, then the trial judge should have acquitted you. And if the trial judge had 'misdirected' himself or herself, then it is up to the appeal court or the federal court to acquit you.

Such is the law, whether you wish to regard it as an ass or not. And if you know the law you can literally, as well as figure of speech wise, get away with murder.

I am no lawyer but I know enough about how the system works to 'play around' with the law. And that was what I did when the police brought me in for interrogation regarding the article 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell' that I was alleged to have written five years ago. (READ THE ARTICLE HERE).

The police officer asked me whether I had written that article. I, in turn, asked the police officer where he had found that article. He then replied he had found it on Malaysia Today.

I then asked the police officer who is it that owns Malaysia Today and he replied that I own Malaysia Today. I further asked the police officer whose name is on that article and he replied that my name is on the article.

Yes, instead of him interrogating me, I interrogated him.

I then said that if I own Malaysia Today and if my name is on that article why is he asking me such a silly question? Clearly it shows that I wrote that article so why the need to ask me whether I had written the article?

The police officer replied that he would need me to confirm this, to which I replied that I will not (even though we both may know that I had written the article) and I challenged him to prove that I had written the article.

The police then raided my house and confiscated my computer. They were looking for the evidence to prove that I had written the article. They then arrested me and charged me for sedition and put me on trial.

But the computer they confiscated did not contain the evidence and the prosecution told the trial judge this. They then requested for a recess so that they could do a second forensic test on my computer to look for the evidence that they did not find the first time.

They also could not find the evidence the second time around but they still insisted on proceeding with the trial.

The issue here is I may have written that article since my name is on the article and the article is published on a website that I own. But they do not have the evidence to prove it and I refuse to confess that I had written the article.

The question of whether I did or did not commit the crime is of no consequence. It is whether you can prove it. And in my case they could not. My name is on that article. The article is on my website. But how do you prove that I wrote the article?

Now, in a criminal indictment, the accused is innocent unless and until proven guilty. And in a case involving the death sentence, in the event there is even just 1% doubt, then the benefit of the doubt has to be given to the accused. The accused does not need to prove his or her innocence. He or she only needs to raise a doubt. And if any doubt is raised then the court has to acquit the accused.

And in the case of Sirul and Azilah, a doubt has been raised. In fact, they raised about 10 issues in all. But the most crucial one of all is the involvement, or otherwise, of Musa Safri, the then DPM's ADC.

Was he or was he not involved in Altantuya's murder? And why was he not called to testify as to his role, if any, in the murder? And if he had testified would the entire trial have gone in another direction?

There does not seem to be a clear motive for Sirul and Azilah to murder Altantuya and in a murder trial the motive must be clearly established. Were they hired assassins who were paid to murder Altantuya? Were they ordered by their superiors to murder Altantuya? And if so who paid them or ordered them to murder Altantuya?

In short, there were just so many gaps in the investigation and the subsequent trial. And unless and until these gaps are filled then there would be a doubt as to whether they did murder Altantuya and, if they did, what was the reason they did so?

Was this just sloppy police work or was it intentionally done to allow the appeal court a loophole later? Your guess is as good as mine. Nevertheless, this sloppiness (or intentional sloppiness) allowed a 'crack' in the prosecution's case for Sirul and Azilah to squeeze through. And squeeze through the crack they did.

The job of the appeal court is not to try the accused. The trial is over and the trial judge has already found them guilty. The job of the appeal court is to consider whether the trial judge had erred and had overlooked certain crucial points in the case.

And the appeal court is of the opinion that the trial judge has, in fact, erred and has, in fact, overlooked certain crucial points during the course of the trial. In short, some doubts exist and since there are doubts, and even though they may only be doubts and have not been proven, then the benefit of the doubt has to be given to the accused.

As I said, yet again, the law is an ass. And if you know your way around the law then you can literally, and figure of speech wise, get away with murder. Al Capone did in spite of the whole world knowing that he had committed numerous murders. Finally, the US government had to put him away on tax evasion charges.

Maybe this is finally what Sirul and Azilah will be charged for: tax evasion on the RM100,000 they claim to have received (without revealing from whom) and not declaring it to the Income Tax Department.

Anyway, don't get too upset about this matter. Remember that Anwar Ibrahim and many other opposition leaders also escaped using these same laws. And I, too, escaped on the same basis.

I was detained under the Internal Security Act in 2008 because I was said to be a threat to national security. However, this detention without trial law applies to 'a body of persons' that are a threat to national security. I, however, am 'one person', not 'a body of persons'. On that ground the court declared my detention illegal and freed me.

It was a mistake that the Minister made. If he had said that I belong to a group (say like Reformasi, or Bersih, or SABM, or ABU, etc.) then my detention would have been legal. But because I am just one man, then my detention is illegal.

Isn't the law interesting? I think I will be a lawyer when I grow up.


Universalising Islam in Malaysia

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 04:13 PM PDT

Chinese Muslims are minorities in Malaysia, in which only 1 percent of ethnic Chinese are Muslims. In the past, ethnic Chinese who became Muslims were assumed to lose their Chinese cultural identity and become 'Malay'. The recent emergence of Chinese Muslim cultural identities, which combine both Chinese cultural symbols and Islamic messages have challenged this widely held perception that 'Chineseness' and Islam are incompatible.

Wai Weng Hew, New Mandala

Early this year, I attended a Chinese New Year open house, organised jointly by the Hidayah Center (a dakwah [preaching] institution under IKRAM, a Muslim organisation) and the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), with sponsorship from the Islamic Council of Selangor (MAIS, Majlis Agama Islam Selangor) and Mohd Chan Restaurant. Alongside a small exhibition about Islam in Mandarin and English, there were various cultural activities during the open house, such as Chinese traditional music performance, lion dances and Chinese calligraphy competition.

Indeed, in the last few years, as a way of disseminating Islamic message among non-Muslim Chinese, there is a growing trend of accommodating Chinese cultural elements in the Islamic preaching in Malaysia. Chinese-style mosques, Chinese Muslim preachers, Chinese halal restaurants and Chinese New Year celebrations are among the creative forms to promote the universality of Islam and to show that 'there can be a Chinese way of being Muslim'.

Chinese Muslims are minorities in Malaysia, in which only 1 percent of ethnic Chinese are Muslims. In the past, ethnic Chinese who became Muslims were assumed to lose their Chinese cultural identity and become 'Malay'. The recent emergence of Chinese Muslim cultural identities, which combine both Chinese cultural symbols and Islamic messages have challenged this widely held perception that 'Chineseness' and Islam are incompatible.

Unlike conventional dakwah activities, which aim at strengthening the faith of Muslims, Chinese Muslims dakwah movements aim to universalise Islam and invite non-Muslims to get closer to the Islamic faith. Differentiating Chinese 'cultural' traditions (budaya) from religious rituals (agama), Chinese Muslim leaders argue that Chinese culture does not contradict with Islamic principles. Instead, it can facilitate the spread of Islamic messages, which I call here 'dakwah pendekatan budaya' (preaching by using [Chinese] culture) or 'cultural dakwah'.

Statements such as, 'Chinese New Year does not belong to any religion and that it is a cultural event shared by all Chinese' are commonly used by Chinese Muslims to justify their celebrations. A common belief in this school of thought is that many Chinese in Malaysia hesitate to become Muslim, because they are afraid of losing their Chinese cultural identity after conversion to Islam. By holding public Chinese New Year Celebrations, this group would like to diminish such worry, with the hope that more Chinese will convert to Islam, or at least get closer to Islam.

Many Muslim leaders endorse these celebrations, as long as such activities do not contain non-Islamic elements, such as deity worship and the consumption of non-halal food, for example pork and alcohol. They see Chinese New Year activities such as wearing red, giving ang pao and lion dance as cultural practices that do not contradict Islamic teachings. They also think get-together events, such as mutual visits, reunion dinners and open houses, fit well with Islamic values, and view these activities as promoting 'silaturahim' (maintaining good relationships).

Since 2010, working together with the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), IKRAM has held various Chinese New Year Open House celebrations. IKRAM is a Muslim organisation in Malaysia, consisting primarily of well-educated, urban-based, middle-class and reformist-minded Malay Muslims. In 2013, the Selangor branch of IKRAM organised Chinese New Year celebrations in nine locations in Selangor: eight small open houses at different districts, all held at Chinese halal restaurants; and a grand one in a Chinese school. Remarkably, one of the key sponsors was the state-controlled Islamic Council of Selangor (MAIS, Majlis Agama Islam Selangor). I joined some of these celebrations, which were well attended by Malay and Chinese Muslims, as well as non-Muslim Chinese.

Chinese cultural elements and Islamic messages are strategically combined in such events. Let me describe one of these celebrations in detail. On 24th February 2013, the 15th day of Chinese New Year, more than one thousand people attended a grand Chinese New Year open house in the Chee Wen Chinese primary school in Subang Jaya. The organisers had chosen a Chinese school and not a mosque to hold this event, hoping that more Chinese would join without hesitation. Invited guest speakers included leaders from Chinese organisations, Islamic NGOS, and Hui Muslims working in Malaysia. There were three hosts for the event: one of them was of mixed Chinese-Malay parentage and the other two were Hui Muslim studying in Malaysia. Most of those involved in organising the event were – both Chinese and Malay Muslims – wore red. Halal Chinese dishes with a localised twist, including a 100-feet yee sang (a popular Chinese New Year dish in Malaysia) were served. The food was sponsored by Mohd Chan Restaurant, a Chinese halal restaurant.

Inside the hall, there were decorations of Chinese lanterns and Chinese calligraphy that read: 'Allah is the Greatest' and 'Happy Chinese New Year' in Mandarin. Various entertainment programs, including Chinese traditional music performance and lion dances were staged. There were also screening of videos, introducing Islamic teachings and sharing experiences of Chinese converts.  MACMA Selangor also held a small exhibition about Islam in Mandarin and English. Qur'an, Islamic books and leaflets in Mandarin and English were available for free. Some volunteers also approached the non-Muslim Chinese who attended, asking their views on Islam and sharing the Islamic messages with them, in a subtle and indirect way.

The chairman of IKRAM Selangor Hassanuddin Mohd Yunus explains,

Islam is a universal religion. In the past, we have only conducted dakwah among Malay Muslims. This is our mistake. We have made Islam a Malay religion, which contradicts the universal value of Islam. We should share the beauty of Islam with ethnic Chinese, who are mostly non-Muslims. And the best way to spread Islamic messages to ethnic Chinese is by using cultural approaches. Chinese New Year is a cultural event, not a religious one. Therefore, we organise Chinese New Year open houses. We serve yee sang (a Chinese Malaysian dish). We give ang pao (red envelope with money). We want to show that Islam and Chinese culture are compatible. Masuk Islam itu bukan Masuk Melayu (convert to Islam is not equal to convert to ethnic Malay).' (Interview, Hassanudin Yunus, 24 February 2013)

In Seremban (a small town, an hour-drive away from Kuala Lumpur), there was also a Chinese New Year dinner celebration inside the Al-Saadah Complex. The Seremban Al-Saadah Complex is a newly-completed Chinese-style mosque in Malaysia, initiated and sponsored by the Islamic Council of Negeri Sembilan (MAINS, Majlis Agama Islam Negeri Sembilan). Its architectural design was inspired by the Great Mosque of Xi An, in mainland China. Various Chinese features dominated both the exterior and interior design of the mosque complex, such as the Chinese-designed entrance gate, the Chinese garden, the courtyard and pavilion, the red pagoda-shaped minaret, red lanterns and Chinese calligraphy.

This mosque complex hosts various activities, such as religious talks, Mandarin classes, conversion ceremonies and cultural festivals. Remarkably, during the Idul Adha celebrations in 2011 and 2012, Chinese Muslim religious teachers presented their sermons in Mandarin (with translation in Malay on LCD screen) inside the mosque. Moreover, the mosque invited an Imam from mainland China to serve the mosque. The mosque committee is also planning to hold regular Friday sermons in Mandarin, beginning from the mid of 2013. If this plan comes true, the Al-Saadah complex might be the first mosque in post-independent Malaysia which conducts Friday sermons in Mandarin regularly.

In the past, it was quite difficult to imagine that a Muslim organisation would organise a Chinese New Year open house or an Islamic authority building a Chinese-style mosque simply because of the pervasive perception of Islam as the symbolic marker of Malay identity.  Yet today, not only Chinese Muslims, but many Malay Muslims are enthusiastic in preaching Islam through the use of Chinese cultural symbols and practices.

What are the factors that have contributed to this emergence of cultural dakwah in contemporary Malaysia?



Umno Baru’s brand of Islam and mob rule

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 03:56 PM PDT

This is the state of Malaysia today, when fanatical Muslims rip apart the heart of the nation, where the Umno Baru mob demands vengeance, where tolerant and thinking Muslims are despised for keeping silent, and where non-Muslims are fearful of speaking about injustice. 

Mariam Mokhtar, FMT

Malaysians can only wonder at the insanity that is going on in Kota Tinggi, in Johor, where incidents have portrayed Islam as a brutish, intolerant and unforgiving religion. When Syed Ahmed Alkaff, the 45-year-old owner of the Tanjung Sutera resort offered the use of his premises to a group of Buddhists, he was merely emulating the kindness exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad.

Syed Ahmed had opened his heart and extended his courtesy, just as the Prophet had done when he offered his al-Nabawi mosque in Medina to a group of visiting Christians, who had nowhere to pray.

In Umno Baru's version of Islam, acts of kindness and tolerance are unimportant, because Syed Ahmad was then treated like a common criminal, hounded by fanatics, abused, vilified and tried by the Umno Baru media.

Was it not the Prophet who said: "Do you know what is better than charity, fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind."

Days after the story broke, 100 villagers from Tanjung Sedeli Besar and NGOs staged a protest. They waved banners which said, "outsiders should leave Johor and Malaysia" and shouted "roboh, roboh", urging the authorities to destroy the building. The Johor Perkasa president Samat Atan demanded that the resort owner apologise to all Muslims and that his Malaysian PR status be revoked.

The mob culture baying for blood worked, and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi cancelled the PR status of the resort owner. It is terrifying when a handful of miscreants, including Zahid, can threaten the peace and sanctity of the country.

If Islam has gained a bad name and the nation looks like it is heading towards perdition, the blame lies squarely with Umno Baru and their cohorts like the National Fatwa Council, the Kota Tinggi Municipal Council (KTMC) and the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAINJ).

This is the state of Malaysia today, when fanatical Muslims rip apart the heart of the nation, where the Umno Baru mob demands vengeance, where tolerant and thinking Muslims are despised for keeping silent, and where non-Muslims are fearful of speaking about injustice.

Few are prepared to criticise the idiocy of the fanatics, because Umno Baru will accuse them of sedition and non-Muslims of interfering in Islam.

We are subsequently told that the surau did not conform to building regulations and that it would have to be demolished. This resort started operation before 2009. Who issued the certificate of fitness?

Surau need not be demolished

For years, the KTMC appears to have been sleeping on the job, but when a controversial video was posted on YouTube, all officials in KTMC suddenly perform their jobs with the utmost urgency and demand that the building be demolished within 21 days.

Will the religious authorities go after errant husbands who refuse to pay maintenance to their former wives, with the same ferocity as they hounded this surau owner? Will the council inspect all suraus and Muslim orphanages throughout the land, to check for building violations?

The surau need not be demolished, if the owner is able to repair the building, so that it conforms to specifications. If the necessary measures are taken, the building can still be used as a surau, or for any purpose the owner deems fit.

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul started life as an Orthodox Christian church, then became a mosque but is now a museum. The Brick Lane mosque in London was once a synagogue and many mosques in Europe as well as the middle-east, were once churches.

What the men in the National Fatwa Council and MAINJ fail to appreciate, is that the choice of building is not as important as what you believe.

It is also time that the officials in the National Fatwa Council, KTMC and MAINJ show some intelligence rather than acting with vindictiveness and supreme idiocy.

All good Muslims remember the saying "Ignorance is the worst kind of poverty, intellect is the greatest of riches, and thought is the best form of worship". Anyway, most good Muslims are familiar with the hadith, "Seeking knowledge is the duty of every Muslim".

Perhaps, the move to revoke the owner's Malaysian PR and destroy him financially is another ploy to enable the compulsory purchase of his land at a reduced price. Is the call for demolition an excuse for Umno Baru crony companies to construct a new building and gain kickbacks at every stage of the process?

If we step back and examine the furore surrounding the surau, we would see that the person who posted a YouTube video had the intention of inciting hatred within the community.

If non-Muslims think that this is directed against them, they are wrong. This is another tactic used by Umno Baru to rein in the moderate Muslims – the girls who dared challenge the fatwa against Muslims competing in beauty contests, followed by Maznah Yusof and her dogs.

Moderate Muslim nation image a farce

Umno Baru uses race and religion to divide the nation and the only people who can stand in the way of Umno Baru zealots are the moderates, who are however, too scared to act.

In the early 80s, former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad was caught unawares by the resurgence of Islam which swept around the world after the Iranian revolution. When PAS threatened to break the power Mahathir had over the Malays, he was forced to introduce measures to forcibly Islamicise the nation. Today, the same effect is being observed, especially as the Umno Baru elections are approaching.

Umno Baru president Najib Tun Razak has forgotten his claim that Malaysia is a nation of moderates, and he has dispensed with any semblance of reconciliation. His silence is seen as a gesture to appease the Umno-Baru baying mob, and he has neglected to use constructive dialogue to integrate people of different faiths.

Zahid has adopted a belligerent stance. He wants to be seen as the defender of Islam. He has said that the use of the word Allah by Christians is non-negotiable. He has sanctioned the punishment on the surau owner.

When he approved the demolition of the surau, was he implying that syariah law can supercede the law of the land? If so, Zahid is effectively using syariah law.

How ironic that Umno Baru should use syariah law, when for years they have been whipping-up a frenzy of fear about syariah law. Umno Baru has been demonising PAS, and saying they would institute syariah law.

This misinformation was an attempt to scare the Chinese from voting for a PAS candidate. PAS is a democratic party and would not attempt this without debating the issue in parliament.

Malaysia's international image as a moderate Muslim nation has become a farce, because of Najib's timidity and inability to censure his lieutenants. He is more worried about the looming Umno Baru elections than he is about the well being of this nation.

Malaysians may think this is a small matter involving a surau, but if the fanatics are not stopped today, we are setting a dangerous precedent for the future.

The Taliban wanted to remove all traces of other religions when they destroyed the two Buddha sandstone sculptures which had stood for 1,500 years in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. We have seen how crucifixes were removed when a prime minister visited a Catholic centre for a Christmas tea party in Kuala Lumpur, a few years ago.

What if one day, the heretics in Umno Baru decide that idols, temples or cave-structures would desecrate the sanctity of Malaysian soil? More non-Muslims and moderate Muslims must speak out now, before they are made to hold their tongues forever.


Read more here: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/08/23/umno-baru%E2%80%99s-brand-of-islam-and-mob-rule/ 



Karpal to call Najib and Musa Safri in Altantuya civil suit

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 03:42 PM PDT

(TMI) - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his former aide-de-camp DSP Musa Safri will be subpoenaed to testify in the civil suit filed by Altantuya Shaariibuu's father, Setev.

Counsel Karpal Singh (pic), who is holding a watching brief for Setev, said he will push for the suit to be heard soon.

Setev filed a RM100-million civil suit against Abdul Razak Baginda, Azilah Hadri, Sirul Azhar Umar and the Malaysian government in June 2007.

The suit had been put on hold pending the appeal filed by Azilah and Sirul. Both policemen were acquitted today while Razak, who was charged with abetting the two, was acquitted in October 2008.

"We will now call the prime minister and Musa. Musa could not have acted on his own," Karpal said in Shah Alam today.

Karpal said despite Azilah's and Sirul's acquittal, Setev still has a recourse in the civil suit.

"This will be a chance to establish guilt on the balance of probability," he said.

"I will now have to activate the suit to have the case fixed for case management."

However, he said there was still a possibility the case would remain on hold pending an appeal by the Attorney-General's Chambers following today's ruling.

When asked if the acquittal would have a bearing in the civil suit, Karpal said, "Yes. But we still have this avenue to hold them liable. Take American footballer OJ Simpson's case. He was acquitted for murdering his wife, but was later found liable in the civil suit for her death and was ordered to pay damages.

"This (referring to Altantuya's case) is a serious matter. Someone comes to our country, gets blown up and end of the day, no one is held liable."

Karpal also took a swipe at the prosecution team handling the case.

"They should be held liable for the defects," he said referring to several points which were raised by the Court of Appeal bench in their judgment this morning.

"It just shows they are not up to mark." 


Read more here: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/karpal-to-call-najib-and-musa-safri-in-civil-suit?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tmi%2Fnews%2Fallnews+(TMI+-+All+News) 

Altantuya murder: Sirul, Azilah walk free

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 03:41 PM PDT

Court of Appeal said that the High Court judge failed to establish facts and the prosecution did not produce a key material witness.

K. Pragalath, FMT

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal released two former policemen who were sentenced to death by the High Court for murdering Mongolian national, Altantuya Shaariibuu.

"There are gaps in the evidence submitted and there is no sufficient evidence that links the accused to the crime as required under Section 27 of the Police Act," judge Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said while reading the gist of the judgment.

"The learned High Court judge also failed to establish the links the jewellery found on Altantuya to the two accused," she said.

The other judges presiding the case were Apandi Ali and Linton Albert.

Tengku Maimun added that the High Court judge also failed to establish the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. The judges also found that the High Court failed to establish a common intent on the part of the defendants.

In a 4-page summary judgment, the court ruled that the High Court judge had misdirected himself in convicting them.

Justice Tengku Maimun, who read out the judgment, said the trial judge had misdirected himself by way of non-direction in failing to consider the station diary and in failing to make a finding whether the defence had cast a reasonable doubt on the prosecutions's case that Azilah who was the first accused in the case, was at the scene of the crime.

Justice Tengku Maimun said on Azilah Hadri's defence alibi, the court did not find anywhere in the trial judge's grounds of judgment that he had considered whether the station diary showed or tend to show that Azilah's presence at Bukit Aman at the material time and he could not be or was unlikely to be at the crime scene.

"Looking at the whole circumstances of this case, it is our judgment that the cumulative effect of the non-directions by the learned trial judge rendered the conviction of the appellants unsafe. We, unanimously allow both appeals," said Justice Tengku Maimun.

Ex-Special Action Unit personnel Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar and Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri were arrested seven years ago for Altantuya's murder.  The courtroom was silent today when the judge delivered the judgment while Azilah, 34, and Sirul Azhar, 39, looked calm after the verdict.

Sirul and Azilah were found guilty and sentenced to death in 2009 for murdering Altantuya, in Shah Alam in October 2006.

Two months ago the Court of Appeal had allowed the duo to appeal against the sentencing.

Sirul's lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin questioned whether the High Court was influenced by "adverse publicity" and "real and possible danger" which could have influenced the decision which was prejudicial against Sirul.

Kamarul Hisham also had applied to include additional documents in their appeal.

The third accused in this case – former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda – who was charged for abetting with the duo was acquitted on Oct 31, 2008 , due to the prosecution's failure to establish a prima facie case.

Material witness

Commenting on the judgment, Azilah's lawyer Hazman Ahmad was glad that the court accepted the defence's argument.

"There were many issues that we raised in the High Court that were not addressed.

"For example. the Celcom call log did not prove that my client was at the murder scene. We also had an alibi that my client was at Bukit Aman at the time of the murder.

He added that there was no proof that indicated that Altantuya was murdered using C4 explosives.

Kamarul Hisham, meanwhile, pointed out that the prosecution's failure to call DSP Musa Safri was the prosecution's undoing.

"The calling of DSP Musa Safri could have explained a lot of issues. It affected the prosecution's case.

Azilah's fiancee, Nor Azilah Baharudin, 35, who was met outside the courtroom was happy with the verdict.

"It has been seven years. We knew he would be released," said the fiancee who works as an operations manager in a private company.

Meanwhile, Deputy Solicitor General Tun Majid Tun Hamzah confirmed that the prosecution team would be appealing against the acquittal.



‘So who killed Altantuya?’

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 03:23 PM PDT

The verdict on the two former policemen illustrates the failure of the system, says Lawyers for Liberty's N Surendran, who is also a PKR leader.

Alyaa Azhar and Leven Woon, FMT

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has termed the release of the two policemen involved in the Altantuya Shaariibuu case as a 'national embarrassment'.

LFL member and PKR vice president N Surendran labelled the Court of Appeal ruling this morning as such and said the verdict was expected.

"We expected this from the beginning since it was a set-up to hide the truth and protect the guilty," he said.

"The bottom line is, she was murdered in the most gruesome and brutal manner and after so many years, no one has been held accountable or found guilty," said the Padang Serai MP.

The PKR vice-president then said the verdict was a "national embarrassment and a complete failure of the system".

"The system has failed because there is no attempt to find out who the real perpetrators are.

"It is a national embarrassment and this will make international news, especially since it involves a foreign national," he said.

'So who killed Altantuya?'

Fellow LFL lawyer and PKR leader Latheefa Koya raised the question of who then, killed, Altantuya?

"So the question now is, who actually killed Altantuya? If they [the two former policemen] did not do it, then who did?

"We cannot help but wonder what really is going on. The matter is shocking, we would like to know who killed Altantuya," she said.

The same question was also raised by Suaram secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel.

"This shocking verdict throws open the murder of Altantuya into scrutiny. So who killed her?

"How were the C4 explosives obtained? It is not like you can get C4 at 7-11 stores," she said.

Gabriel then asked the pertinent question, similarly with Latheefa: "Who is responsible now for Altantuya's death?"

"The verdict this morning calls for nothing short of full and fresh investigations into Altantuya's death .

"Only an independent inquiry will suffice as Malaysians have lost faith in the justice system of the country," she said, adding that Suaram also asks if Altantuya's brutal murder was linked to the corruption allegations in the Scorpene deal.

Altantuya was brutally murdered with military explosive C4 in 2006 when she came to Malaysia with her two companions.

She was claimed to be on intimate terms with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his confidant Abdul Razak Baginda and her visit to Malaysia was linked to her demand for commissions in helping Malaysia's government to secure two French-made Scorpene submarine.

The late private investigator P Balasubramaniam had made a statutory declaration (SD) claiming that Najib was linked to the Altantuya's murder. He had then retracted the SD, only to backtrack again before his sudden death earlier this year.

Sirul and Azilah were members of elite Unit Tindakan Khas (police's special action force) and were assigned to be Najib's bodyguards. They were found guilty for murder and sentenced to death in 2009.



So, who killed Altantuya? And why?

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 03:19 PM PDT


(TMI) - Seven years on, no one has paid the price for the death of Altantuya Shaariibuu. And no one knows why the pretty Mongolian was killed one night in October 2006.

But today's Court of Appeal decision does not close the file on her mysterious murder.

Instead, the ruling to acquit former chief inspector Azilah Hadri and former corporal Sirul Azhar Umar raises more questions than ever.

Who killed her? Why?

She was shot dead and C4 explosives were allegedly used to blow her to bits but both police commandos said they had no access to the explosives. So what happened? Were there others involved?

She came into the country but there were no immigration records with her name. Did she use another passport? Can the authorities explain this?

Some of these questions could have been answered if the likes of DSP Musa Safri had been called to give evidence.

The prosecution did not call him and the appeal court today allowed the appeal because material witnesses were not called to testify, including Musa.

Musa would have been able to say what sort of help political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda had asked of him to fend off Altantuya.

The interpreter had become Abdul Razak's lover but later hounded him. He had to hire private investigator P. Balasubramaniam to keep watch on her. When Altantuya turned up that fateful night on October 19, 2006, the policemen took her away and that was the last time she was seen alive.

What followed rocked Malaysia's political establishment. Abdul Razak was held in connection with the murder and both police commandos Azilah and Sirul were later charged for Altantuya's murder.



True Meaning of being Malaysian

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 01:10 PM PDT


We view people based on their color, social status, wealth, power, influence, etc. We are forgetting that once we were looked down by the British during the colonial era. All of us were treated as third class citizens. But now, we are doing what the British did to our fellow Malaysian.

Natesan Visnu 

31st August 1957 is a day we all fondly remember. We remember the image and voice of Tuanku Abdul Rahman chanting the word "Merdeka!Merdeka!Merdeka!Merdeka!Merdeka!Merdeka!Merdeka!" with the crowd joining in. The word 'Merdeka' remains meaningless after 56 years and average Malaysians are still in dilemma with the meaning of 'merdeka' or independence. We live in a society where the identity of an individual is based on race and status. We are very fond of introducing ourselves as Malaysian Malay, Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indian, etc. In our daily conversation, we are very fond of using 'The Chinese boy said....', 'India itu cakap....', 'That Malay makcik said...', 'Sabah and Sarawak people always like that....', 'Yang tu orang Kelantan' etc. We still live in a society where our identity is always based on race, status, state, dialect, etc.

In true essence, we have not achieved independent 'state of mind' and we are still at where we have begun. We are not Malaysian, we are still a nation with multi-identities and multi-ideologies. The word 'Malaysian' is an ideology or extension of political will to create a pseudo-identity of a nation build based on multi-races and multi-cultural. The word 'Malaysian' remains as an ideology and the true definition of the word remain undefined. Malaysian means nothing much to any of us unless when we are supporting our football team, Lee Chong Wei or Nicol David. Our unity only happens during sporting events. After that we are back being what we are. Malaysian with multiple identities and ideologies. The identity ideology remains an integral part of our daily affairs.

To take it futher, we are even divided in our food. Malaysian Malay cuisine, Malaysian Indian cuisine, Malaysian Chinese cuisine. In reality, our cooking style is truly unique because of the combination of all spices, herbs, etc. The term Malaysian food is yet to be an identity of our own. We are not even united in our food identity. That leads to more doubts on what is being a 'Malaysian'.

This year's theme for 'Merdeka' is Malaysiaku Berdaulat, Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku (My Sovereignty Malaysia, My Native Land). If we were to ask the average Malaysian, what does that mean to you? The answers will remain vague and idealistic in nature. We have lost our sense of being Malaysian a long time ago. The only true Malaysian I can recollect from history is Dato' Onn Jaafar. He was the first Malaysian to express his desire to formulate a single party that unites everyone under one roof. The only politician who engineered his own 'political suicide' for forming the concept of Malaysian. If his vision and dream was realised back in the days, we would have been very different. Maybe we will only remember the word 'Malaysian'. The race ideology would have been erased from our mind and we would been really 'Merdeka' in spirit. Maybe today, we will be known as 'Malaysian' without any extension of identity.

The word Malaysian remains idealistic not pragmatic. The modern society armed with technology, knowledge and wisdom have moved backwards. In the 60s, you could watch a P.Ramlee movie with a scene like 'gin tonic and iblis tonic'. The simplistic humor has demonstrated the Malaysian identity. Our culture was evolving towards being Malaysian until our progress declined with the political nature of the country where we remain divided. Movie makers with new ideas has attempted to liberate the society from the racial clutch. Yasmin Ahmad would be the pioneer for Malaysian ideology through her works. The Malaysian art scene has remained dull over the years after P.Ramlee and Yasmin Ahmad. Arts and literature shapes the thinking of a society. Our art and literature scene has not shown any significant growth or maturity and we are still looking back at our glorified past with works of P. Ramlee and Yasmin Ahmad.

The barbaric thinking plaguing our society is becoming rampant. Instead of progressing and maturing as one, we are becoming more divided. We have lost our sense and judgement as humans and we are developing our opinion based on race and status. We no longer look at other races as our brothers and sisters. We view people based on their color, social status, wealth, power, influence, etc. We are forgetting that once we were looked down by the British during the colonial era. All of us were treated as third class citizens. But now, we are doing what the British did to our fellow Malaysian. The new age Malaysian are divided into the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless,etc. We have failed to look at human as human for their kindness, compassion, ethics and human values. We are no longer Malaysian, we just exist with whatever ideology that suits us as required.

The true meaning of Malaysian is still imaginary. A friend of mine said, 'the people who consume alcohol are the thinkers and the people who consume coffee are doers. What our society lacks is a combination of both.' Echoing that analogy, we need the combination of alcohol and coffee drinkers for Malaysia.

This Merdeka should reflect the progress that we have made in years. The ups and downs as a nation and society. We are still an optimistic society and we have the potential to become a great nation. A nation that prospers with economic growth, political maturity, avant-garde education, intelligent citizens, technology advanced nation and sporting nation We have all the qualities but we lack progressive thinking. If we start looking from the Malaysian lens, we might start thinking and act differently. Steve Jobs said 'think different'.

My Merdeka wish is for us to progress being Malaysian first. Let's drop the identity of Malaysian Chinese or Indian. Let's move forward being Malaysian. Maybe the next time you talk to someone, you just refer to others as plain Malaysian. Stop describing people as Indian, Chinese, Iban or Kadazan. Just refer to them as plain Malaysian. Dr. Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Nicole David and Lee Chong Wei are Malaysian. No need for further descriptions.

Selamat Menyambut Hari Merdeka!

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