Friday, January 17, 2014

Civil society must pressure Putrajaya to probe PKFZ scandal, says lawyers’ group

JANUARY 17, 2014
Civil society must pressure Putrajaya to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project, following the acquittal of two former ministers of cheating, a lawyers’ group said today.
Lawyers for Liberty adviser Eric Paulsen said a respectable panel would be able to shed light on who were responsible for the ballooning cost of the project.
"In such inquiry, third parties can assist the inquiry to make an evaluation and recommendation to the government to act against those responsible," he told The Malaysian Insider today.
He said police could probe further for the public prosecutor to file possible criminal charges.
Paulsen cited the case of the 2007 inquiry into the fixing of judicial appointments, where the report had implicated several personalities and recommended possible penal actions to be taken against them.
That inquiry, in its report, had said that there was sufficient cause to invoke the Prevention of Corruption Act 1961, the Sedition Act 1961, the Legal Profession Act 1976, the Official Secrets Act 1972 and the Penal Code against Tun Dr Mahathir, Mohamad,  lawyer V K Lingam, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan and former chief justices Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.
Paulsen said civil society must push for greater accountability from the Barisan Nasional government as taxpayers’ money was involved.
He said this in response to a call by veteran opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang for an inquiry after Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy were cleared of cheating charges in connection with the PKFZ project.
In calling for support from both his opposition colleagues and the ruling BN bloc to push for an inquiry when Parliament convenes on March 10, Lim said this was needed to avoid Malaysia becoming an international laughing stock.
On Monday Chan Kong Choy was acquitted of three counts of cheating former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in connection with the PKFZ project.
DPP Datuk Nordin Hassan had told The Malaysian Insider that the charges were dropped after public prosecutor had re-evaluated Chan's case and considered the representation by lawyers of the accused.
Chan's lead counsel Datuk Tan Hock Chuan had said the prosecution also decided against going through a trial after studying the October 25 acquittal of Dr Ling for allegedly cheating the Cabinet.
Paulsen said in other countries the public prosecutor would have been accountable to Parliament.
"In this country he need not offer an explanation as to why he used his discretion to withdraw charges against Chan," he said.
Paulsen said an inquiry was necessary because public confidence in the Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who is also the public prosecutor, had dipped to a new low.
“For such a large amount of money to be embezzled, many people must have been involved and the public prosecutor should have gone for all instead of putting a sham trial," he said.
He added that this botched-up prosecution again showed that politicians from the ruling party had "immunity" from justice.
On October 25, Dr Ling was acquitted of deceiving the cabinet by failing to disclose an additional interest rate of 7.5% to the purchase price of RM25psf in the PKFZ deal, despite knowing that the interest rate was already included in the price.
Chan was charged on February 28, 2011 with cheating Abdullah over the RM1.9 billion trans-shipment project between 2004 and 2006.
The project was initially tagged at RM1.1 billion after it was mooted by Dr Ling in 1997, but more than quadrupled to RM4.6 billion by 2007. – January 17, 2014.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Be careful what you say about spinach -- BBC reports on Najib Kangkung price drop

14 January 2014 Last updated at 14:18 GMT

A T-shirt with the words "Keep calm and eat kangkung" and an image of the vegetableHundreds of joke images are being shared on social media in Malaysia
Malaysia's prime minister is being widely lampooned on social media for a comment he made about the price of kangkung, or water spinach.
Food is a faux pas minefield for politicians, especially when it's perceived as being used in a get-down-with-the-people kind of way - think of British Prime Minister David Cameron's pasty moment or Chancellor George Osborne's "posh burger" tweet. The almost inevitable response seems to be ridicule. That's where the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak finds himself right now. With the government under fire because of price hikes in basics like fuel and electricity, he chose to push back by highlighting a reduction in the cost of the leafy green vegetable kangkung.
Kangkung - also known as water spinach, morning glory and Chinese spinach - is widely eaten in Malaysia, and is cooked as a stir-fry with a little garlic or chilli paste. But it's cheap, grows wild alongside streams, paddy fields and drains, and is not considered a staple. Moments after avideo of the prime minister was posted making the comments, the sarcasm and jokes began to trend on social media in Malaysia. There have been hundreds of thousands of tweets, a Facebook page set up - with 10,000 followers already - a YouTube re-mix of his comments, the lyrics to popular and traditional folk songs have been re-worked, and "Keep calm and eat kangkung" T-shirts have been made and rushed to market.
"Kangkung-gate", as it's been dubbed by some, has hit a nerve because many people are struggling with the rising cost of living, and are resentful of what they regard as corruption, and lavish spending by the government. Unsurprisingly many opposition politicians - including Anwar Ibrahim - have seized on the opportunity to join in the collective fun-poking. The story has been so big on social media that many have complained of their timelines being clogged up. "This kangkung obsession is fast becoming a laughing stalk," tweeted comedian Kuah Jenhan. "Lettuce get to the root of the problem. We have mushroom for improvement."

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

Saturday, January 11, 2014


2014-01-11 09:51

這又讓我想起兩個月前,砂拉越聯合教會首度主辦公開論壇,這項採用“並肩捍衛宗教自由”(Standing together forreligious freedom)為主題的論壇,探討的正是倍受各界矚目的“阿拉”課題。

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Priest reveals proof Christians used ‘Allah’ before Merdeka

JANUARY 07, 2014
A prayer book in Malay, published in 1905, containing the word ‘Allah’.  – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 7, 2014.A prayer book in Malay, published in 1905, containing the word ‘Allah’. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 7, 2014.A century-old Catholic prayer book is the latest proof that Christians in the Malay peninsula not only prayed in Malay more than 100 years ago, but also communicated with each other and the church in the language, says a priest at the centre of a new “Allah” row in Malaysia.
Catholic weekly Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said the 1905 publication was a Malay language prayer book and not Indonesian.
"From the spelling of the words, you would see it is old Malay. And you can find the modern translation of the old Malay used in the scripture in the Alkitab," he told The Malaysian Insider.
His church and other Catholic churches in Selangor managed to avoid disruption to their Sunday services when planned protests by certain Muslim non-governmental organisations were called off over their use of the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia services.
Andrew said the prayer book quoted the First Letter of Peter, one of the verses in old Malay read:
“Rendahkanlah diri mu dibawah tangan berkuasa Allah itu, sopaia dia angkatkanlah kamu di waktu katemuannha."
In the Akitab, the verse read: “Oleh itu, rendahkanlah diri kamu ke bawah tangan Allah yang berkuasa, supaya Dia meninggikan kamu pada masa yang ditetapkan-Nya.”
The priest reiterated it was particularly important for Malay-speaking Christians to be able to pray in Malay, especially for those from Sabah and Sarawak who were living in the peninsula.
"There seems to be a general misconception that the use of the word is a new trend in the Christian faith, but that is not true. It has been used for hundreds of years.
"And this prayer book is just one example that Catholics in Malaya were praying in Malay before the British came and English was widely used, alongside Malay by the East Malaysians," Andrew said.
He said the Malay prayer book was mailed to him by the daughter of its owner not long ago.
In a hand-written note that came with the prayer book titled "Kabaktian Sahari-harian" (Daily Prayer), the sender wrote: "This book belonged to Mary De Silva who was a boarder in the convent at St Anne's church, Bukit Mertajam, around the year 1919, where this book was used. Now the book belongs to her daughter Lily De Silva who lives with her son in Penang".
Putrajaya won its case last October against the Herald at the Court of Appeal, which overturned a 2009 High Court ruling that Herald has the constitutional right to use the word “Allah”.
The church is appealing against the decision at the Federal Court.
Despite the court process, tensions have risen in the past few weeks over the church's use of the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia service, leading to the prospect of demonstrations outside churches.
It is Father Lawrence Andrew (second from left) and Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam (third from left) at their meeting with Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan yesterday. – The Malaysian Inisder pic, January 7, 2014.Father Lawrence Andrew (second from left) and Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam (third from left) at their meeting with Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan yesterday. – The Malaysian Inisder pic, January 7, 2014.understood more than 80 police reports have been lodged against Andrew over his remark that the word “Allah” would continue to be used in Catholic churches in Selangor.
His comments came following a statement from the new director of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais), Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad, who had said that the state religious authorities would write to churches in Selangor asking them to comply with the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988.

Andrew’s comments resulted in several Muslim groups and Selangor Umno threatening to protest in front of churches in the state on Sunday but the protests were called off at the last minute.
But not before a group of protesters burned an effigy of Andrew on Friday.
Still, the priest in his Sunday sermon, called on his congregation not to fear and to remain faithful to God.

Andrew is to meet Selangor executive councillor in charge of religion, Sallehen Mukhyi, and later he will have his statement recorded by Selangor police.

Yesterday, he accompanied Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam for a meeting with the Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan over the recent religious conflict involving the Catholic church and several Muslim groups. Today, Andrew will have his statement recorded. – January 7, 2014.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nothing to fear as God is with us, says priest at centre of new ‘Allah’ row

JANUARY 05, 2014
Father Andrew greeting church-goers in Port Klang, Selangor, this morning. - The Malaysian Insider pic, January 5, 2014.Father Andrew greeting church-goers in Port Klang, Selangor, this morning. - The Malaysian Insider pic, January 5, 2014.The beautiful white church in Port Klang was small, but parishioners filled all the pews for the first Sunday worship of 2014 to hear Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew celebrate the morning mass.
With Christmas decorations of red and green still adorning the church, including a replica of the manger where Jesus Christ was born still sitting at a corner, the Catholic weekly Herald editor told his flock to disregard any fear over recent incidents affecting Christians in Malaysia.
"In the news portals they are asking where is the prime minister, but in our churches we know that God is here with us," he said in his sermon to the parishioners, who include those from Sabah and Sarawak.
Christians must keep calm in facing the challenges ahead, added the priest at the centre of the latest row over the word Allah, which Malaysia insists is exclusive to Muslims although it is used mainly by Christians in Sabah and Sarawak.
Last October, Putrajaya won its case against the Herald at the Court of Appeal, after it overturned a 2009 High Court ruling that the Herald has the constitutional right to use the word Allah.
The Our Lady of Lourdes church in Klang, where a Muslim group planned a gathering to protest the use of the word 'Allah' in churches. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, January 5, 2014.The Our Lady of Lourdes church in Klang, where a Muslim group planned a gathering to protest the use of the word 'Allah' in churches. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, January 5, 2014.The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) said last week it would remind the churches not to use Allah as spelt out by a state law and a recent royal decree, but Father Andrew had said the Islamic authorities had no jurisdiction over them.
This sparked protests, and hundreds of police reports were filed against the priest, leading to Jais raiding the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) last Thursday, and seizing 320 copies of Malay and Iban-language Bibles containing the word Allah.
Several conservative Malay and Muslim groups also threatened to protest outside churches in Selangor but police persuaded them to demonstrate elsewhere while tightening security around the churches.
Today, Father Andrew also thanked parishioners for getting together and guarding the church over the last two nights.
Before and after mass, many parishioners went up to him and held his hands in theirs, offering him words of support and encouragement.
One lady, who said she was from rights group Suaram, quietly walked up to him, clasped his hands in hers and said: "You have our support, Father".
More than the usual number of Catholic lawyers also attended the Sunday mass at the church today as a show of support and also to be at hand if any untoward incidents took place.
One of them was KL Catholic Lawyers Society president Viola Decruz, who had gone to the church of Our Lady of Lourdes before coming to the church in Port Klang.
"It was good to see Muslims there at Our Lady of Lourdes church who did not come to protest but who came to support the church's stand on freedom to be able to practise one's religion," Decruz said.
Another lawyer, Ramesh Supramaniam, said he came to defuse the situation in case protestors turned up.
Klang MP Charles Santiago, who came to hear Father Andrew say mass, said when he was at the Our Lady of Lourdes church earlier in the morning, a Muslim wearing a songkok walked up to him and told him, "Please tell your priest we are here to support him".
Santiago urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to censure Selangor Umno chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar over his statements on the issue.
"He should stop threatening the peace and security in the country. We know that Umno is doing this for its survival but as PM of all people, he should take stern action against Noh Omar," he added.
He also lambasted the burning of Father Andrew's effigy by protesters several days ago.
"The Prime Minister must speak up on this issue or risk being labelled an extremist as well," Santiago said.
A parishioner, Vanitha, 41, said she was pained to see Father Andrew's effigy being burned.
"We are so hurt but we are not going to react because of our faith in God.
"Those people who did it are answerable to God," she said, looking downcast.
The very people the 'Allah' issue was centred on, the Bahasa Malaysia speaking community in peninsular Malaysia, also expressed sadness over the current goings-on affecting their faith.
"How can it come to this. Go to the interiors of Sarawak, we all call God, Allah. We are the same people from those interiors who are here now working in small jobs as factory operators.
"All we want to do is to earn a decent living and pray in our language. Why are people denying us that basic right," said one mother holding a newborn baby in her arms after attending Father Andrew's mass.
Her friend added, "Will they now come to our homes and threaten us like criminals because we use the Alkitab?" she asked, referring to the Malay translation of the Bible.
"Is this the 1Malaysia they are talking about, denying us our right to pray in our own language?" said the woman of Iban origin.
As parishioners left the church compound after Sunday school ended peacefully, it was not quite over yet for the church, in particular for Father Andrew.
On Tuesday, he is scheduled to meet Selangor state councillor in charge of Islamic affairs, Sallehin Mukhyi.
But he will not be alone. Santiago and Sri Andalas assemblyman Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, who was also in church today, told Father Andrew they would accompany him for the meeting. - January 5, 2014.