Sunday, July 31, 2011


Indians have been taken for ride with empty promises made by successive prime ministers to uplift the community, says Hindraf chief Waythamoorthy.
By Athi Sankar - FMT

GEORGE TOWN: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should stop the wayang kulit politics of making empty promises to the Indian community at MIC’s annual general assembly, said Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy.

He said marginalised ethnic Indians, especially the 70% working class segment, were fed up and disgusted with the Umno-sponsored prime time zero political show.

He said ethnic Indians were weary of this show given that their plight and grievances have hardly been addressed by the BN government for 54 years.

“Enough is enough on this political sandiwara. Indians are fed up of this nonsense,” said Waythamoorthy.
He called on Najib, the country’s 6th prime minister, to discontinue the wayang kulit political tradition when he officially opens MIC’s 65th AGA tomorrow.

He noted that each year, the premier as Barisan Nasional chairman, would make various promises in his keynote address at the MIC annual summit.

“He will earn grandstand applause from delegates at the end of the speech. However, all those promises will be forgotten once he leaves the hall. They have never been fulfilled.

“This is what has been happening for past 54 years,” said the London-based Hindraf supremo.
He criticised both Umno and MIC elites of having a concealed social contract to hoodwink and deceive the Indian community since independence until today.

MIC complicit in short changing Indians

He hit out at MIC elites for being subservient to Umno and compromising Indians’ constitutional rights merely to protect and fulfill their own self interests.

In turn, he said Umno would always take care of these MIC elites’ needs just to keep them as political mandores.

During pre-independent talks, said Waythamoorthy, the MIC leadership had tacitly supported Umno and British political manipulation to permanently uphold Malay special position under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

In his research into the Malaya’s pre-independence talks to facilitate his US$4 trillion class action suit against the British, he found that all safety measures proposed as permanent constitutional features to protect minority rights in the imminent Malay majority rule were dismantled.

He said these proposals were all omitted from the final draft of the Malaya Federal Constitution with the support of MIC and MCA, which were supposed to protect minority rights and interests.

“This had allowed Umno to misuse and manipulate Article 153 until today,” said Waythamoorthy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Head of state King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Head of government Najib Tun Razak Death penalty retentionist Population 27.9 million Life expectancy 74.7 years Under-5 mortality (m/f) 12/10 per 1,000 Adult literacy 92.1 per cent

The government restricted freedom of expression in electronic and print media. Detention without charge or trial continued as the Internal Security Act (ISA) entered its 50th year. Refugees, migrants and Malaysian nationals were subjected to judicial caning for criminal offences, including immigration violations. Under Shari’a law, three women were caned for the first time. Malaysia was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in May.


Najib Tun Razak served his second year as Prime Minister after ousting Abdullah Badawi. He had until March 2013 to call parliamentary elections. The trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on politically motivated criminal charges of sodomy for the second time in 12 years continued. If convicted, Anwar Ibrahim faced imprisonment and a ban from political office for five years. In announcing a new multi-year economic policy in March, Najib Tun Razak called for the reform of Malaysia’s positive discrimination policy which favours Bumiputeras (a legal status which comprises ethnic Malays and Indigenous people in eastern Malaysia).

Freedom of expression

The authorities restricted freedom of expression by requiring government licences for publications and imposing criminal penalties under the Sedition Act on those speaking out against the government.
•In June, the Home Affairs Ministry suspended distribution of Suara Keadilan, the newspaper of the main opposition party, the People’s Justice Party (PKR), by refusing to renew the required licence for its publication. In July, the government restricted distribution of another opposition paper, Harakah, run by the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).
•The blogger Irwan Abdul Rahman, also known as Hassan Skodeng, was arrested in August after he posted a satire of the chairman of Malaysia’s largest utility company challenging an energy-conservation campaign. Irwan Abdul Rahman was released on bail and charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 with improper use of the internet by posting false or offensive content with malicious intent. If convicted, he faced up to one year in prison and a fine of 50,000 Malaysian ringgit (US$15,500).
•The authorities pressured a Chinese-language radio station to sack host Jamaluddin Ibrahim after his programme criticized the government’s positive discrimination policy. In August, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission sent a letter to the station, reportedly alleging that the programme threatened national security and compromised race relations.
•Police arrested political cartoonist Zunar in September before the launch of his book Cartoon-o-phobia and confiscated copies. He was charged under the Sedition Act and faced up to three years in prison. In June, the Home Affairs Ministry banned three of the cartoonist’s earlier books and magazines as being “detrimental to public order” under the Printing Press and Publications Act 1984. Under this law, printing and distributing these cartoons were punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment or fines of up to 20,000 Malaysian ringgit (US$6,200). Zunar was released on bail.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions
•In January, police raided a private Islamic religious class near Kuala Lumpur, and detained 50 people under the ISA. Most of the detainees were soon released, but the government summarily deported several of the foreign detainees to countries, including Syria, where they faced risk of torture for suspected involvement in political Islamic groups.
•At a peaceful protest in August marking the ISA’s 50th anniversary, police arrested 30 out of an estimated 300 demonstrators in Petaling Jaya town. All those detained were subsequently released. Malaysian law severely restricts public protest and freedom of assembly by banning public gatherings of more than five people without a permit.
•In July, Mohamad Fadzullah Bin Abdul Razak, a Malaysian national aged 28, was arrested under the ISA upon his return from Thailand. The government alleged that he was involved in an international terrorist network. The authorities gave him a two-year detention order under the ISA, which provides for indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Refugees and migrants

The detention of refugees in Malaysia was “systematic”, according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which visited in June. In addition to detention for immigration offences, migrant workers commonly faced abusive labour conditions.
•In August, the government announced that it would nearly double the size of RELA (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat), a civilian-volunteer force which used its policing power to arrest migrants and refugees for immigration offences. RELA officers often extorted money from migrants and refugees, and sometimes beat them. The government also reinstated RELA officers in immigration detention facilities, after withdrawing them in 2009.
•Conditions in immigration detention centres remained poor. In response to a recurrent lack of water at the Lenggeng Immigration Detention Centre, an estimated 500 Burmese asylum-seekers protested in June by going on hunger strike.
•In October, seven immigration officers and two foreign nationals were reportedly arrested for alleged involvement in human trafficking. However, no criminal procedures were initiated; instead they were detained without trial under the ISA.
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Torture and other ill-treatment
•The authorities regularly caned people for a host of offences, including immigration violations. Caning was provided for more than 60 criminal offences. In one week alone, scores of migrant workers were deported to Indonesia after being caned for immigration offences.
•In February, three women were caned, for the first time in Malaysia’s history. The women, all Muslims, were convicted of extramarital sex and caned under Shari’a provisions, near Kuala Lumpur. In April, the first woman sentenced to caning, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, had her 2009 sentence of six strokes commuted to community service.

Death penalty

Courts sentenced at least 114 people to “hang by the neck until dead”, according to reports in the state-owned news agency Bernama and other Malaysian media. The authorities did not disclose the number of executions carried out.

More than half of known death sentences were for possession of illegal drugs above certain specified quantities, an offence which carried the mandatory death penalty. Defendants in such cases faced charges of drug trafficking. Under the drug laws, they were presumed guilty unless they could prove their innocence, which contravened international fair trial standards.

Citizens of other ASEAN nations accounted for one in six known death sentences. This included seven from Indonesia, three each from Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand, and two from the Philippines.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


First survey in 50 years makes dismal reading.
Baradan Kuppusamy. Asia Times.

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia's first serious survey of race relations, in 50 years, shows that behind the façade of outward unity and peace, racism runs deep in this multi-ethnic 'melting pot'.

The telephone survey of about 1,200 Malaysians also found that the majority of the various races find comfort and security in their respective ethnicity and not in a common 'Malaysian' identity, as the travel and tourism brochures suggest.

"The findings are not at all surprising," said social scientist Chandra Muzaffar.

"This is partly because ethnic boundaries are real in our society and almost every sphere of public life is linked to ethnicity in one way or another."

The survey, by the independent Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, also found that negative racial stereotyping was deeply entrenched.

For example, minority Chinese and Indians see the majority Malays, who make up 60 percent of the population of 25 million people, as lazy.

Chinese and Indians, who began migrating here in the early 19th century, make up 26 percent and 8.0 percent of the population, respectively.

It found that more than half the population does not trust each other. For a nation that claims to be a 'melting pot', only eleven percent of the respondents said they had eaten often with friends from other races in the past three months.

Thirty four percent said they have never had a meal with people of other races.

The survey found that 42 percent do not consider themselves Malaysian first, 46 percent say ethnicity is important in voting, 55 percent blame politicians for racial problems and 70 percent would help their own ethnic group first.

According to the survey, 58 percent of Malays, 63 percent of Chinese and 43 percent of Indians polled agreed that "in general, most Malays are lazy."

Meanwhile, 71 percent of Malays, 60 percent of Chinese and 47 percent of Indians agree that "in general, most Chinese are greedy."

Sixty-four percent of Malays, 58 percent of Chinese and 20 percent of Indians agreed that "in general, most Indians cannot be trusted."

The survey, commissioned by the semi-official New Straits Times newspaper and supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, is the first honest look at Malaysian society and the findings have left Malaysians gasping in disbelief at how firmly racism and racial stereotyping has become entrenched and accepted as a way of life.

The Merdeka Centre said the survey "gives an honest picture of the country's situation and inter-racial perception" and warns that extremists can take advantage of inter-racial fears and suspicions in the absence of a meaningful interaction.

The ruling National Front government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi works hard to portray the country as an example of multiculturalism where Muslims, Hindus and Christians live together in peace.

But experts have been voicing concern that, increasingly, the communities were drifting apart and polarization of the races and a lack of social unity were on the rise.

They squarely blame the politicians and the country's race-based politics for the sharp rise in racism. The shocking findings have also prompted civil society to demand a ban on all race- based political parties.

"Let us outlaw all Malaysian political parties that restricts membership on grounds of race, religion or sex," said lawyer politician A. Sivanesan who is senior leader in the opposition Democratic Action Party, one of the four registered multi-racial parties in the country.

"It should be written in the constitution that only multi-racial bodies be permitted."

Others say the few multi-racial political parties are weak and unable to grow because of the strong domination of race-based parties over the political system.

"Social problems affect all communities," Sivanesan said. "Poverty, drug and crime are not specific to any one race. All races face the blight."

"What the survey clearly shows is that the various races live peacefully but separately," Sivanesan told IPS.

"Half a century after independence we are further away from knowing each other than when we startedàseparate schools, separate friends, separate lives."

Curiously, the survey showed that many Malaysians had vague ideas, not only of each other's cultures and traditions but also of their own.

Hari Raya Puasa was wrongly perceived as the Malay New Year by 32 per cent of Malays, 84 per cent of Chinese and 45 per cent of Indians --when the festival actually marks the culmination of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

Similarly, the Chinese New Year was thought to be a religious festival by 57 percent of Malays, 53 percent of Indians and a whopping 62 percent of Chinese respondents.

Despite the lack of unity, the country has enjoyed long periods of peace except for one race riot in 1969.

And unlike in some neighbouring countries where uniformity is enforced, Malaysia's minorities are not restricted and are free to practice their own cultures and religions and enjoy a vernacular education.

But, the government officially practices a policy of positive discrimination that favours Malays over other races in many areas -- from employment, education, scholarships and business to cheaper housing and assisted savings.

Private companies must hand over 30 percent of equity to ethnic Malays and a portion of housing and commercial property must be sold to them

These measures, collectively called the New Economic Policy or NEP, were started in 1970 to reduce the yawning economic gap with the Chinese community, which dominates business in this country, as in most of South-east Asia.

Originally designed to last for 20 years it has continued without check, sparking envy and resentment between Malays and non-Malays.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was sacked and jailed in 1998, has caused a stir by proposing to reform the political landscape which he says is straining national harmony.

"We need to appeal to the Malays, Chinese and the Indians and the rest that we need to go beyond race-based politics.

"If you continue to harp and support this racial equation, you will never be able to overcome racial divisions," he told supporters at a recent rally.

The government is aware of the deep divide and has taken measures to close the gap.

One experiment in racial integration is the 'Vision Schools' initiative where students share sports fields, assembly halls and canteens, but attend classes conducted in their own languages.

But the initiative is embroiled in controversy mainly because of the fear among Chinese and Indians that the vernacular education system would suffer and erode their identities.

A popular initiative, the national service programme, started in 2004, puts youths of all the races under a single roof.

Students are chosen at random and taken to camps for about three months in the hope that they will learn team work and absorb each other's culture.

But, the experts say racism is too deeply entrenched in official policies and the socio-political system for such 'half-hearted' measures to make impact.

"The survey's findings might be a bitter pill to swallow but it tells us who we really are behind the façade we show the world," said Sivanesan.
Asia Times