Rabu, 11 September 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

US providing some lethal aid to Syrian rebels

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:06 PM PDT

(Reuters) - The United States has begun distributing some weapons to the Syrian rebels, a spokesman for the Syrian Coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad said yesterday, after months of reported delays.

White House officials suggested in June that President Barack Obama had decided to provide military aid to the Syrian rebels, but in the months since, rebel leaders and US lawmakers have said no lethal assistance has arrived.

"The US is distributing non-lethal aid and … some lethal assistance as well to the SMC (Supreme Military Council)," Saleh told a news conference, referring to the council that oversees operations of rebels loyal to General Salim Idriss.

The United States is providing lethal assistance "because they are sure that the mechanisms that the SMC has established are well tested and they will be sure that the weapons are not falling into the wrong hands," Saleh said.

He apparently referred to Washington's concerns that US arms could end up benefiting radical Islamist groups, such as the al Nusra Front, active in northern Syria.

Saleh's comments at a Washington news conference may be the first public indication that US-provided military goods such as arms or ammunition are actually moving to anti-Assad forces.

One US government source said it was "unlikely" that any US-supplied arms were on the ground in the hands of Syrian rebels at this time, while not dismissing the possibility that such aid was in the works.

Separately, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Washington was trying to upgrade its support for the Syrian opposition.

"It is ramping up, but I can tell you that many of the items that people have complained were not getting (to) them are now getting to them," Kerry said in a Google+ Hangout interview. He declined to say what military items were arriving.

Planning for strikes

Rebel spokesman Saleh, who is based in Turkey, spoke at a news conference called to urge the US Congress to authorize Obama's proposal for limited military strikes in Syria following a chemical weapons attack on rebel areas outside Damascus on August 21 that the United States has blamed on Assad's forces.

Saleh said rebel military leaders were coordinating with the countries that might participate in a US-led strike.

He said the Supreme Military Council also had a plan to derive tactical benefits from the strikes if they do take place, such as by securing areas that are hit.

The chances of US military action have receded, however, since Russia offered a proposal on Monday for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons stockpile to international control.

Najib Ghadbian, the Syrian Coalition's representative in the United States, said the rebels favored securing Syria's chemical weapons, but the Russian proposal should be amended to include accountability for those who have committed poison gas attacks.

"We will work with the international community," Ghadbian said, but added: "We don't' trust the Syrian regime. We don't trust the Russians."

After two years of balking at directly arming the Syrian opposition, the White House's pledge in June to provide military aid to the rebels, came as the US government said it had proof that Assad's forces had engaged in small-scale use of chemical weapons earlier this year.

Rebel sources recently confirmed receipt of arms such as anti-tank weapons financed by Saudi Arabia, which arrived last month through Jordan.

However, Republican and Democratic lawmakers on congressional intelligence committees held up the covert US effort for a while over concerns that the arms could end up in the hands of Islamist militants in Syria. In late July, lawmakers gave the plan the green light.

Last week, a former senior US official said a limited quantity of American arms had reached the rebels.

In the Google+ interview, Kerry said, "It is accurate to say that some things have not been getting to the opposition as rapidly as one would have hoped."

The CIA, which oversees the covert arming effort, had no comment on Saleh's remarks.

Lawmakers who favor arming the rebels, such as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democrat Carl Levin, have urged Obama to step up US support for the opposition as part of any plan to take military action in Syria. 


Najib to announce steps to help Malays

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:01 PM PDT

By Stuart Grudgings, Reuters

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will announce measures this week to boost the economic role of majority ethnic Malays, official media reported on Wednesday, signalling a reversal of earlier pledges to roll back affirmative action policies.

The announcement, due on Saturday, comes as Najib faces a ruling party leadership contest next month. It also follows an election in May in which his coalition, in power since independence from Britain in 1957, was overwhelmingly rejected by minority ethnic Chinese voters.

The initiatives will cover equity ownership, business, "human capital" and social and economic development, the state-controlled New Straits Times cited senior officials as saying.

He will also announce steps, the report said, to strengthen state institutions that promote the economic role of Malays.

Abdul Wahid Omar, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, was quoted as saying there could also be steps to create more opportunities for Malays in the private sector and to boost their ownership of commercial property.

"A recurring issue is the lack of employment opportunities for Bumiputeras in the private sector, especially at the executive level," he was quoted as saying.

Affirmative action privileges were put in place to improve the lot of Malays, who make up around 60 percent of the 28 million population, are historically poorer and traditionally live in rural areas.

Minority ethnic Chinese, about a quarter of the population, are wealthier and still dominate business and the economy.

After he took over the country's top job in 2009, Najib cast himself as a moderniser who would roll back the privileges that have stunted the Southeast Asian country's competitiveness and alienated minorities. He has also pledged to make government assistance more based on needs than on race.

But those plans have largely failed to advance due to stiff resistance from within the ruling, ethnic Umno.

Najib was further weakened by May's election in which the ruling coalition lost the popular vote and saw its parliamentary majority shrink.

The result, contested by the opposition, exposed a deepening divide between Malays and ethnic Chinese and was seen as leaving Najib more dependent on support from Umno traditionalists, such as influential former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

For four decades, ethnic Malays have benefitted from race-based policies ranging from quotas for university admissions to preferential entry to the civil service and guaranteed minimum levels of business ownership.

Critics say the policy has mostly benefitted wealthy, well-connected Malays more than the poor majority, while also contributing to a massive "brain drain" of ethnic Chinese who leave Malaysia to seek opportunities elsewhere.


Eyeing Putrajaya, DAP launches campaign to seize rural Sarawak

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:59 PM PDT


DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters today, 'We want to show that we can make a difference in rural Sarawak.' — Picture by K.E. Ooi

Asked if the DAP expects the campaign to yield results by the next state election in 2015, Lim said the party is now focused on raising awareness and ensuring the success of the project.   

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, The Malay Mail 

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — With Putrajaya in mind, the DAP today launched a campaign aimed at capturing rural Sarawak, the last bastion of Barisan Nasional's (BN) rule in a state that helped keep a weakened ruling coalition in power in the last general election.

The campaign, called "Impian Sarawak" (The Sarawak Dream), will be driven by three key thrusts — rural outreach, which will focus on providing basic amenities like water and power to the state's interiors, study trips and exchange programmes to raise awareness on the dire conditions of Sarawak's rural natives, and fundraising.

"We want to show that we can make a difference in rural Sarawak," party secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters after the launch of the campaign at the party's headquarters here.

Sarawak and Sabah helped deliver most of BN's 133 parliamentary seats and helped keep it in power after the DAP and its allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) nearly wiped the ruling coalition out in peninsula Malaysia.

Despite this, Sarawak, an oil-producing region with a revenue of more than RM4 billion last year, remains one of country's least developed states with most of its population living deep in its interior without access to water, power and education.

"Most of the revenue comes from oil, gas, forestry and land sale. These are Sarawak's natural resources but yet the government has failed its people," said Chong Chieng Jen, who is the MP for Bandar Kuching, one of the many urban seats recaptured by the DAP in the May 5 polls.

Chong said the lack of education opportunities and poverty are among the many obstacles the opposition needs to address and overcome if it is to infiltrate Sarawak's interiors, as most of the voters there do not have the same exposure to politics as their urban neighbours.

"They are poor and maybe BN wants to keep them poor so that they would remain dependent on the government," he said.

In the 2011 Sarawak state elections, PR won 15 seats in the state legislative assembly, with the DAP taking the lion's share of 13 seats. But virtually all of the seats won were urban. The opposition were annihilated in the interiors.



'Sorry, We Don't Hire People Wearing Headscarves'

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 09:49 AM PDT


(Malaysian Digest) - Being a country of multiracial background with diverse culture and religions, one may think it is simpler for a person to apply for a job here as companies or employers would have understood the unique 'make-up' of the country.

Unfortunately, this was not the case, especially if you are a Muslim woman who dons a headscarf, looking for a job at retail outlets in the city.

The victim, known as Ira, 24, was looking for a part-time job as a retail assistant at one of the largest retail assets in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the Suria KLCC, but claimed she was turned down by several branded retail stores for wearing a headscarf.

Speaking to Malaysian Digest recently, not long after she had highlighted her 'predicament' on Facebook, expressed her disappointment that such incident actually took place in Malaysia.

"It was on a Monday, when I went job hunting with my mom, looking for a part-time position as a sales assistant at the retail stores in Suria KLCC. I only approached the stores which had put up job vacancy signages at their window display.

"Since there were job openings, I just went in and asked about them. To my dismay, they frankly told me they not hire people who cover up their hair," she said.

Ira, from Kuala Lumpur, said she went to a number of large retail stores, such as Topshop, Esprit, and Nike, and a few smaller stalls, but eventually gave up her job search as she was disappointed over the same excuse given to her.

"It was really shocking that this happened and I think this matter should be taken seriously. Though I had posted my status on Facebook, I didn't mean for it to go viral," she said.

In the status update which Ira had posted on Facebook, dated Sept 2, a few hours after she went through the ordeal, Ira had highlighted how she was rejected by several stores with the same 'shocking' answer.

She also wrote her biggest disappointment was how she had lived in the United Kingdom for four years and even travelled across Europe, but had never felt disgraced over wearing the headscarf as she does in her own country.

Ira's status update has reached close to 9,000 shares on the social media site, and had caught the attention of the public where many have expressed their discontent over the matter.

Meanwhile, mD checked out some of the stores she mentioned and it turned out to be true.

Overall, the stores claimed they had turned down job applications from women wearing headscarves as it was part of their 'company policy', whereas some which had put up job vacancy signages simply informed that they were not hiring or the post had been filled.

At the Nike store, our reporter, who don a headscarf, was outrightly rejected and the person on duty stated they do no hire a person who covers their hair.

The same answer was given by Esprit and our reporter was told it was the company's policy. The retail supervisor even stated that unless the applicant was willing to take her headscarf off while working at the store, then they would be willing to hire her.

The person said there had also been cases where former employees had previously taken off their headscarves while working in the store by wore it again when they are off duty.

At Topshop, while the answer was not given in a direct manner, the person-in-charge said they do not usually hire people wearing the headscarf, but if the applicant could somehow change her style, they could consider it.

Efforts have been made to contact DNP Clothing Sdn Bhd, Esprit De Corp (Malaysia), and Nike Sales Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which manages the retail stores Topshop, Esprit, and Nike respectively, but at Press time, have yet to received any replies. 

Basuki More Popular Than Joko, Poll Finds

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 09:16 AM PDT


In many ways, Indonesia and its electorate are liberalising at a rapid pace, beyond Malaysia. It's amazing that a non-Muslim, Chinese politician can poll at 98.3% popularity in Jakarta, and be a lead contender for governorship. Malaysians can learn a lot from Jakarta, in putting policy above race and religion. 

(Jakarta Globe) - Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo may have stolen the spotlight from senior politicians eyeing the presidency in 2014, but his deputy, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, has proven to be a more popular figure in addressing Jakarta's chronic woes, according to the results of a survey released on Thursday.

Basuki rated favorably with 98.3 percent of the 8,280 respondents polled by the Indonesia Network Election Survey, slightly ahead of Joko, who got 96.9 percent.

"In our findings, the public sees Basuki as the one who has been doing most of the work in solving Jakarta's issues, as well as the person who is moving fast in working on the problems such as the Pluit dam and the relocation of street vendors in Tanah Abang market, among others," Sutisna, the head of data for INES, said at a press conference to announce the findings.

He added that the respondents were all people eligible to vote in the 2014 elections, in which most polls paint Joko as the firm favorite ahead of other more established political figures.

Among those overshadowed by Joko is Prabowo Subianto, the co-founder and chief patron of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), of which Basuki is a member.

The latter's recent high profile and growing popularity has fueled speculation that his no-nonsense leadership style that has led to tangible results may be engineered by Gerindra to undermine Joko and thus boost Prabowo's chances at winning the presidency next year.

Read more at: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/jakarta/basuki-more-popular-than-joko-poll-finds/ 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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