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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Uthayakumar’s wife claims jailed Hindraf leader being tortured in prison

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 05:23 PM PDT

(The Star) - The wife of jailed Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar has called on the Government on Saturday to intervene on behalf of her husband, whom she alleges is being tortured and inhumanely treated in Kajang Prison.

S. Indra Devi, who was addressing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a letter, claims that her husband who is a diabetic and suffers from a degenerative prolapsed disc in his spinal lumbar, has been locked up in dark isolation for 28-days and is forced to sleep on concrete despite his condition.

She claims that he was being fed food and water through unsanitary means.

"They put him in confinement, 24-hours a day, not seeing sunlight or fresh air and just one prison pants and shirt.

"The prison officers are also teasing, humiliating and verbally abusing my husband.

"I urge Najib or Zahid to please go and see what is being done to him at the Kajang Prison and address it. I don't deny he is a prisoner but at least treat him like a human," alleged Indra, adding that Uthayakumar had lost around 15kg since he was jailed in June.

On top of the gross treatment of the Indian rights leader, Indra also claims that prison officials were deliberately denying his family access of communication to him.

She claims officers would deny being responsible for her husband and would pass her to other departments for referral.

Uthayakumar's lawyer Avtar Singh Dhaliwal alleges that the treatment being meted to his client in prison was "selective prosecution".

"He is not being treated as a normal prisoner. This is a clear violation of basic human rights which is enshrined in our constitution," he said.

In a letter from Uthayakumar made available to The Star, he alleged that he was denied phone calls to his family and lawyers and warm water, to the point where he is force to drink "contaminated tap water".

"I am denied even a toothbrush, tooth paste, bathing and washing soap, towel, blanket and even the half-inch mattress to sleep on the cement floor.

"I am force to sleep on the bare cold cement floor despite also suffering from arthritis, forced to drink rice porridge using a dipper I and hundreds, if not thousands of other prisoners have used to wash their backsides."

On June 5, Uthayakumar was jailed for two years and six months over a sedition charge.

The former Internal Security Act detainee had on Dec 11, 2007 claimed trial to publishing a seditious letter on the Police Watch website, which was addressed to then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Make syariah Malaysia’s only law, urges ISMA

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 05:01 PM PDT

(MM) - Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) suggested today for syariah to be the law of the land replacing the country's existing dual-track legal system.

This comes as ISMA lamented the lack of political will to champion a concept it called "ketuanan syarak" (syariah supremacy), which places Islam above all other considerations.

"Actually, there is no need for civil laws, there should be Islamic laws ... History has shown that our country has practised Islamic laws even since the times of the Malacca empire," ISMA deputy president Aminuddin Yahya said here.

Aminuddin claimed that it was only during the British rule that Islamic laws were pushed aside to be replaced by secular laws instead.

He cited the landmark High Court case of M. Indira Gandhi in July ruling it unconstitutional to convert a child to Islam without the mother's consent, as proof of civil law's weakness.

Aminuddin was speaking to a crowd of about 50 attendees at a seminar held by ISMA titled "Ancaman Liberalisme" (The Threat of Liberalism) here, which criticises an alleged "human rights agenda" by the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (COMANGO).

COMANGO had recently issued its list of recommendations ahead of the October 24 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by United Nations' (UN) Human Rights Council.

One of the resolutions adopted by the seminar today included a rejection of a "West-interpreted democracy", to be replaced with "syariah supremacy", in order to solve "political liberalism".

"Fairness in Islam does not mean equality. If we say everybody is equal, that is communism. Fairness means Islam must be number one," Aminuddin said later, explaining the "syariah supremacy" concept.

He also stressed the need for Malay-Muslim lawmakers to adopt and champion the concept, gifting the Muslim community political power which can influence federal policies and amend the Constitution.

As a result of political liberalism, the Malay Muslim community has been "overly tolerant" and "submissive" to the point of jeopardising Islamic fundamentals, by giving in to the whims and fancies of non-Muslims, he said.

Malaysia is expected to face a beating for its human rights record when the government faces its second UPR this October 24.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) had said in its weekly sermon yesterday that there is a global liberal conspiracy to challenged the position of Islam in Malaysia and local rights groups were acting as its agents, pointing particularly towards COMANGO.

COMANGO is made of NGOs such as Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Sisters in Islam (SIS), the Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), Christian Federation Malaysia, Amnesty International Malaysia, KLSCAH Civil Rights Committee, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and others.

Malaysia was first came under the UPR review on February 11, 2009, and consequently accepted 62 of the 103 recommendations issued by the UPR working group.

The UPR, according to media reports, is a United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council mechanism that was established in 2007 to improve the treatment of human rights in all 193 UN member states. 


Indonesia sees no rush despite push from Malaysia

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 04:49 PM PDT

 Nurfika Osman, The Jakarta Post 

Indonesia is in no rush to revive the controversial Malacca Straits Bridge project, which has been on hold since the Asian financial crisis back in 1998, a senior government official says. 

The Public Works Ministry's director general for highways, Djoko Murjanto, said in Jakarta on Friday that the ministry, together with relevant ministries and departments, such as the Foreign Ministry and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), would need to comprehensively study the prospects for the bridge and its benefits for Indonesia.

"We understand that this project is important to strengthen connectivity across ASEAN, particularly between Indonesia and Malaysia. But, we have to be fully prepared in terms of infrastructure, safety and security before this bridge is constructed, as it will connect our country to the whole of Asia, not only Malaysia," Djoko told The Jakarta Post.

"Our position is that we are not rushing this project; nor do we have it on hold. We have not yet seen any urgency for it." Djoko said. 

The idea of building a bridge between the two countries was first mooted in 1996 by then-Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad when he met Indonesia's president, Soeharto, in Kuala Lumpur. 

However, the idea was thwarted by the regional economic crisis and then by environmental concerns. Over the years, the Malacca government has tried to revive it but to no avail.

The project was discussed again during the 10th Chief Ministers and Governors' Forum (CMGF) of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) convention in Koh Samui, Thailand, on Sept. 12.

If it is built, the bridge would span 48.7 kilometers from Teluk Gong in Malacca to Rupat Island in Indonesia, with an additional 71.2-km-long expressway running from Rupat, where the bridge ends, to Dumai. 

This project is expected to make the transporting of raw materials from Sumatra to Malaysia easier, while at the same time opening new markets for businesses in both countries.

According to Malaysia's daily newspaper, The Star, Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said the project's finer details concerning the linking of Teluk Gong to Dumai Port would be revealed when all mechanisms were in place.

"The [CMGF] forum took note of the economic potential and strategic positioning of the IMT-GT with the construction of the Malacca-Dumai Bridge," Idris said as quoted by The Star.

Now, the Malacca state government has reappointed Strait of Malacca Partners to be the master planner and builder of the bridge, which it is estimated will cost 44.3 billion Malaysian ringgit (US$14 billion), with financial backing from China's Export-Import Bank (Exim).

The Exim Bank, an equity partner in the project, has agreed to finance 85 percent of the bridge's costs. The rest will come from regional sovereign funds and private investors.

Separately, the National Planning and Development Board's (Bappenas) expert on public private partnerships (PPPs), M. Zulfikar, said the project was not yet on the board's list. 

Zulfikar also said that if the government pushed the project forward, it would be complicated as it involved two nations. 

"This is going to be a complex project and it will take some time, if we decide to build it. But so far, we have not seen it in the PPP scheme project list," he told the Post.


‘Allah’ not exclusive to Muslims, stresses Dzulkefly

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 04:43 PM PDT

Dzulkefly Ahmad disagrees with Haron Din's statement that "Allah" is exclusive to Muslims. Nevertheless he welcomes the difference in opinions.

Lisa J. Ariffin, FMT

PAS leader Dzulkefly Ahmad today stressed that the party's collective stand on the term "Allah" was that it is not only exclusive to Muslims, but could be used by those of other faiths.


He was responding to PAS' deputy spiritual leader Haron Din's insistence today that "Allah" belongs exclusively to Islam, contradicting Pakatan Rakyat's official stand that non-Muslims have the right to use the Arabic word to describe their god.

"What is important is the collective stand of the party and majlis syura (the party's highest decision-making body), and the collective stand of Pakatan," Dzulkefly told FMT.

However, he said Haron was entitled to express personal views that may not necessarily coincide with the collective stand of the party.

"Anyone of any standing and leaders of any discipline can state their own particular stand. In short, he is free to state his own views.

"I, for one, will not criticise him nor vilify him for stating a different view. I have seen so many differences and variations in Muslim scholarships," he added.

Dzulkefly explained that the Islamic religion encourages differing opinions through discourse and scholarly debates.

"The Islamic discourse and scholarship is willing to accept differences by even a single voice or by a few," he said.

"In fact, we celebrate differences. All arguments to me are logical," he added.

Dzulkefly reiterated that the party's collective stand was to allow non-Muslims to use the term "Allah", however he urged those who do use the term "not to abuse it".

"Allah celebrates the plurality of religious belief. As such, we allow the use of Allah by people of other faiths provided they do not abuse it," he said.

"I believe this is a very objective and principled stand," he added.



The fight for the final Umno VP spot, and Najib’s reforms

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 04:34 PM PDT

Zubaidah Abu Bakar, TMI

As 146,000 Umno delegates vote in the party polls today, attention will be on the race for the final vice-presidential slot as both Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal are seen as shoo-ins for two of the three spots.

At risk is Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein's rising seniority in the party and his cousin and party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak's leadership and reform agenda.

Party insiders say Najib needs Hishammuddin to be a vice-president, not just to continue a family legacy but more as an assurance of support should there be retaliation from the Mahathir faction in Umno against his leadership in future.

Hishammudin's defeat would mean one less Najib loyalist in Umno's powerful decision-making supreme council.

In his own defence, the 52-year-old has been meeting party grassroots leaders in the past week, trying to convince them of his relevance to the Umno top echelon after unfavourable ground reports on his chances in the six-cornered fight.

Umno sources believed he might just scrape through now that his campaign had been boosted with the help of Najib and senior leaders like Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, among others.

Najib has been adamant about keeping Zahid, Shafie and Hishammuddin in their posts to ensure continuity of his reform agenda, which has been derailed by repeated pandering to the party's right wing.

It is understood that he has personally made phone calls and met some division chiefs to get them to help maintain the status quo in the 3.5 million-strong party.

Would anyone reject a favour asked by the party chief to keep an unpopular leader?

Party insiders say division chiefs are aware some delegates are not happy with Hishammuddin's performance as minister and Umno leader but they also do not want to risk their relations with Najib.

A state Umno leader said division chiefs who are MPs will make sure delegates from their divisions vote for the incumbents for fear of being sidelined in a much anticipated Cabinet reshuffle said to take place soon after the party elections.

"They fear that if their divisions do not toe the line, they might be out should Najib reshuffle his Cabinet," said the division chief on condition of anonymity.

Najib is not worried about Zahid and Shafie as both look set to be re-elected.

The Home Minister has remained the popular choice since day one because his no-nonsense way of handling political opponents and crime plays well in Umno.

Votes that are going to Sabah chieftain Shafie are seen as a reward for the state's strong support of Barisan Nasional in the last general election. 


Workers’ Death in Malaysia Sparks Outcry

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 12:03 PM PDT 

(Jakarta Globe) - As the bodies of four Indonesians shot dead by Malaysian police last week arrived and were subsequently buried in their hometown here on Thursday, demands are mounting for the Indonesian government to lodge a protest and seek explanation for the deadly incident.

The bodies of the men, identified as Hafat bin Angang, 44, Heri Setiawan, 33, Ikno Riansyah bin M. Saleh, 25, Wahyudi bin Kuling, 28, were returned to their families shortly after arriving at Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara on Wednesday evening.

Cradling a toddler in her arms, Ikno's wife Ika screamed and cried hysterically as the coffin carrying her husband's body was packed into the hearse that would carry his body home to Sumbawa for the last time.

Ika first heard about her husband's death on television, and said she did not believe the Malaysian police's claim that her husband was shot dead because he was a part of a gang of armed robbers.

"My husband was working in Malaysia as a construction worker. How is it possible he was accused of being a robber? If he really was a robber we would have been rich by now, but we can only afford a rented room," Ika told the Jakarta Globe.

Families said the funeral for the four men were held on Thursday afternoon because Indonesian authorities had not requested an autopsy.

Dino Nurwahyudin, a counselor at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, assisted repatriation of the men's bodies. He said that Indonesia had retained several lawyers to handle the case and was now awaiting results of the official autopsy conducted by Malaysian authorities.

"This is definitely not the first time such an incident has happened. Last year, three Indonesian migrant workers were shot dead in Malaysia," Dino said.

He said it was very possible for Indonesia to lodge a formal protest in Malaysia to prevent similar incidents in the future.

"For now let's wait for the autopsy results. The Malaysian government said it would take one or two weeks," he said.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has expressed concern that the incident is the latest in a series of frequent shootings that have been taking place since 2007.

In 2012, Malaysia's then-minister of home affairs, Hishammuddin Hussein, confirmed that 300 people had been shot to death since 2007. More than half — 151 — of those killed were Indonesians.

Indonesian human rights activists and legal experts are skeptical of Malaysian authorities' claims that lethal force was necessary against all of the Indonesians shot dead in recent years.

"We don't know what really happened. The media quoted only the Malaysian police as sources. That's why we need a thorough investigation. The Indonesian Embassy should demand it," lawyer and activist Frans H. Winarta said.

"They should not just shoot people because they are Indonesians," he added.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Malaysian minister responsible for internal security, suggested at a gathering last Friday that police should "shoot first" when confronting criminal suspects.

"What is the situation of robbery victims, murder victims during shootings? I think that the best way is we no longer compromise with them.

"There is no need to give them any warning. If we get the evidence, we shoot first," he was quoted as saying in an audio recording made public by the online news portal Malaysiakini.

Outraged Malaysian opposition and rights groups quickly demanded the minister's resignation over the remarks.

Malaysian police have staged a nationwide crackdown on criminal organizations in recent months as a wave of violent crime stoked a public outcry.

More than a dozen criminal suspects have reportedly been killed in police shoot-outs in recent weeks.

Haris Azhar, the chairman of the Jakarta-based Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), called on the Indonesian government to conduct a criminal investigation into all the shooting deaths of its citizens.

He said the government should actively pursue all information to ensure the shootings were justified in each case.

"This is not the first time this has happened. There should be a very rigid mechanism to ensure that Malaysian authorities follow proper procedures, considering the large number of Indonesians living in Malaysia, both legally and illegally," he said.

"A similar incident occurred last year. It suggests the Indonesian government has not learned from past experience."

Haris said Indonesia should demand that Malaysia explain the apparently disproportionate use of immediate lethal force on Indonesian citizens, and provide justification for each killing.

"If Malaysian police can arrest them, why the need to kill them? We need to find out everything that was really happening. The families deserve that much," he said.

Read more at: 

Allah decision binding on all Malaysians, says retired AG Abu Talib

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 12:02 PM PDT 

(TMI) - All Malaysians are bound by the Court of Appeal ruling on the Allah issue, says former attorney general Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman (pic), who is puzzled that Putrajaya believes the controversial judgment does not affect Christians in Sabah and Sarawak.

The appellate court agreed that the Home Minister could ban the word Allah in the Catholic weekly Herald, but two Cabinet ministers had insisted the decision did not include the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia bible widely used in Sabah and Sarawak, and other Christian publications in East Malaysia.

"It has the effect of a binding precedent and all have to respect that decision, whether you agree or disagree," he told The Malaysian Insider, adding it was binding until set aside by the country's highest court, the Federal Court.

Abu Talib, who was the chief legal adviser to the government for 13 years from 1980, said there could be no two sets of law when "we have one nation and one supreme constitution".

"So, there cannot be exemptions given to Sabah and Sarawak on this religious issue based on region or state," he said.

Read more at: 

Soaring Crime Rate Takes a Growing Malaysia by Surprise

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 11:58 AM PDT 

(NYT) - The Malaysian government has also stopped providing crime statistics to the United Nations, according to Enrico Bisogno, the official responsible for compiling crime data at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Malaysia's population has tripled over the past four decades. Its largest city, Kuala Lumpur, a place once so sparsely populated that it looked like a botanical garden, has exploded into a cosmopolitan metropolis of shopping malls, luxury hotels and sprawling suburbs.

But with modernity and urbanization came an unwanted corollary: a soaring crime rate that has blighted Kuala Lumpur, previously considered one of Asia's safest cities, and other urban areas across Peninsular Malaysia. It is hard to find someone in Kuala Lumpur today who does not have a story about a purse snatching, a burglary, or worse.

"Whatever defense we put up is not enough," said Chong Kon Wah, a British-trained engineer who was burglarized twice at his home in the Kuala Lumpur suburbs and robbed once while in his car — all within 10 days in August.

Residents in middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods have begun to gate their communities, often without local government permission. And the demand for personal guards has soared, with the number of certified security companies nationwide more than tripling over the past decade to 712 from 200, according to the Security Services Association of Malaysia, which trains guards.

Last month, the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur sent a warning to American citizens here: "Remember to carry your backpack or purse on the shoulder AWAY from the road to prevent having it snatched by motorbikers."

The possible reasons for a higher crime rate are a matter of debate — some say the country's ethnic-based policies that favor majority Malays are partly to blame; others say the police force is corrupt and ineffectual. Even the extent of the crime wave in this country of 29 million people is in question.

Read more here 

Leaders to face critical challenges for top Umno positions

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 10:12 AM PDT 

(The Star) - The much awaited Umno polls today will be a test whether division leaders and party warlords can still influence the race for the vice-presidents' posts and supreme council seats.

There is much uncertainty over their power now as 146,500 party delegates are set to cast their votes in an election, the outcome of which could shake up the established order in the party.

While last week's elections for Youth and the Wanita wings saw the incumbent chiefs winning as expected, today's polling is likely to produce some upsets and surprises.

Two-thirds, or 127 of Umno's 191 division chiefs' posts, are up for grabs. For the supreme council, 50 new aspirants will compete with 14 incumbents for the 25 seats.

Cheras Umno chief Datuk Seri Syed Ali Al-Habshee said division leaders could no longer call the shots.

"It was possible in the past because they had a smaller number of delegates to influence. Now it is a different ball game altogether," he said.

Kepong chief Datuk Ridzuan Abdul Hamid said trying to influence delegates would be tough especially when incumbent division chiefs themselves were being challenged.

According to party officials, most delegates are firm in wanting their say on who should lead the divisions and be given seats in Umno's top decision making body.

Party vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said delegates of last Saturday's election voted in more than 30% new faces for the wings at division level.

"They kept the incumbents for some of the posts but at divisional level, they voted for change.

"If last Saturday's trend is any indicator, there will be many changes in the division line-up," said Zahid.

Johor Baru Umno division information chief Abu Talib Alias said while it was expected that ministers and mentris besar would be voted in, the rest of the supreme council members should comprise capable new leaders.

The race for the party vice-presidencies has generated the most interest, as its result would indicate the future leadership of Umno.

The three incumbent vice-presidents – Dr Ahmad Zahid, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal – face strong challenges from Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and Datuk Mohd Isa Samad.

Major changes in the line-up for the supreme council and vice-presidents' positions could provide Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak reasons to consider a Cabinet reshuffle.

Currently, besides Najib and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, 10 of the 32 members of the Cabinet comprise elected Umno supreme council members and three vice-presidents.

Winners of the supreme council seats and division chiefs will also likely be selected as candidates to lead Umno's charge in the 14th general election.

One of the divisions that's being watched closely is Gua Musang where long-time chief Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is facing a contest after helming it for more than 30 years.

In the Johor Baru division, another party veteran Tan Sri Shahrir Samad is up against two challengers.

Several ministers and mentris besar are also being challenged as division heads.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the Agriculture and Agro-based Minister, is being challenged by his former political secretary Datuk Azizan Che Omar in Bera while his deputy minister Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman is facing Perak exco member Datuk Zainol Padzi Paharuddin in Pasir Salak.

Shafie, who is also Semporna chief, is up against two challengers – former Youth chief Nixon Abdul Habi and former Sulabayan assemblyman Datuk Harman Mohammad.

Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar and Rembau chief Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan is being challenged by former Chembong assemblyman Datuk Mohamad Rais Zainuddin while Terengganu Mentri Besar and Kemaman chief Datuk Seri Ahmad Said will face the division's former head Mat Dalam Awang.

Polling will take place at all 191 divisions around 9am and is expected to end in the afternoon.

Umno executive secretary Datuk Rauf Yusoh said results for the vice-presidential election will likely be known by midnight.

Perkasa on Allah: Arabs ignorant, Westerners have vested interests, and some Indonesians eat pork

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 09:52 AM PDT

Syed Jahmal Zahiid, The Malay Mail 

Datuk Ibrahim Ali has slammed Arab scholars who criticised the Court of Appeal's ban on Christian usage of "Allah" as ignorant, saying that not everyone in the Middle East, Islam's birthplace, understood the religion well.

The Perkasa chief also blasted Western critics as having vested interests, while accusing detractors from Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, as worse than the Arabs, pointing out that some Muslims in the neighbouring country even consume pork.

"Why should we be bothered if there are Arab countries or Indonesia criticise the Malaysian courts on the Allah issue. Don't think that every Arab knows or understand Islam. That there is no one ignorant there. 

"Those (from the Arab world) that support the US are socialists and Christians. So when we say Arab we must consider who is talking, in the media that belongs to who and which Arab? Don't be easily swayed by what they said," Ibrahim told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.

On Indonesia, Ibrahim said: "The same can be said about is far worse. Those who don the 'songkok' are not necessarily a Muslim...there are those who consume pork. It's all possible in Indonesia".

He further pointed out that even though Indonesia has a large Muslim population, it has so far produced very few respected Islamic scholars. "So why should we follow what others say?" he said.

Perkasa is one of the most vocal groups calling for the Arabic word to be barred to non-Muslims here. Iranian-American religious scholar Dr Reza Aslan said recently that the Court of Appeal's ruling barring non-Muslims from referring to God as "Allah" showed Malaysia's folly.

The ruling was also censured in several international publications, such as Indonesian daily Jakarta Post, which wrote an editorial yesterday that "those who claim exclusivity to God undermine their own faith, and inadvertently or not, preach polytheism".

International current affairs magazine The Economist pointed out that Christians in the Middle East commonly refer to God as "Allah", and called the court verdict an "unhelpful contribution" to religious discourse between Muslims and Christians.




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