30 September, 2007

Buddhists don't kill

For the past 45 years that is the most devastating thing for the country. And how do they get the common soldiers and the rank and file to shoot and harm? By indoctrination and brain washing. Early on I still remember the huge bill boards all over the country saying "Soldier you will not die. If you die you will not go to hell." Which probably play an enormous part in programming the military into this image of invincibility and gives false credibility into using force. For the common Buddhists in the country the hellish realm is the last thing a good Buddhist would like to go after death.

There is also the prevalent idea of Burmese nationalism which supercedes the teachings of Buddhism. The rigid discipline and regimentation has a very powerful effect diluting the influence of Buddhism on the individual soldier.

Actually Buddhists don't kill; only soldiers who appear to be Buddhists do.

- By Myat Thu Pan, Mizzima News

In a surprise development the UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari today met detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

The visiting envoy met the Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate for ninety minutes at the State guest house in Rangoon.

The UN envoy, who led a three-member delegation, met the Burmese opposition leader on his return from Nay Pyi Taw after a meeting with Burma's military officials on Sunday.

The acting Prime Minister and Secretary 1, Lieutenant-General Thein Sein, Information minister Brigadier General Kyaw San, Cultural minister Major General Khin Aung Myint and Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Thu met the UN envoy.

Than Shwe, the hard-line junta leader passed the message to the UN envoy that the Road Map would be finalized within one and-a-half years, sources said.

Small groups of pro-democracy protesters ventured onto the streets of Rangoon on Sunday but were chased away by troops as United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari held talks with Burmese military leaders.

Mr Gambari arrived in Rangoon after an overnight stay in Naypyidaw, the Burmese capital.

One opposition Web site, Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com), reported on activities in the northern part of the country in the city of Mandalay on Sunday afternoon. Click here to see www.mizzima.com


29 September, 2007

All eyes on Myanmar now

United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari flew into Myanmar on Saturday carrying worldwide hopes he can persuade its ruling generals to use negotiations instead of guns to end mass protests against 45 years of military rule.

"He's the best hope we have. He is trusted on both sides," Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said. "If he fails, then the situation can become quite dreadful."

Before heading to Yangon, Gambari said in Singapore he was going "to deliver a message from the secretary-general to the leadership, a message that is very much by the Security Council."

"I look forward to a very fruitful visit so that I can report progress on all fronts," Channel News Asia quoted him as saying.

Burma's military leaders locked down monasteries, arrested dissidents and set up barricades across Rangoon yesterday in an attempt to suffocate the waves of street demonstrations calling for an end to their rule.

They also tried to cut off ordinary people's communication with the outside world, heightening fears that the crackdown that appears to have knocked the wind from the demonstrations could become more violent.

Yet, despite the regime's best efforts, a day after security forces killed at least nine demonstrators – dissident groups say the total could be as high as 200 – hundreds again risked their lives to defy the government in small but angry protests across Burma's main city.


At the same time, a disturbing picture was emerging of Thursday's crackdown. Bob Davis, Australia's ambassador to Burma, said he had unconfirmed reports the death toll after two days of violence was "several multiples of the 10 acknowledged by the authorities". The Washington-based dissident group, US Campaign for Burma, said around 200 protesters had been killed.

A Burmese journalist who gave her account to The Independent, said: "The police were shooting everything – houses, trees, anything. The bullets were flying over our heads. It was as if they were on drugs and were crazy." Seven young people ran from the protest in Thanwe and tried to hide in long grass, the 23-year-old journalist said. "Informers were pointing to the grass, people got up and ran, but the police just fired into their backs. Four were gunned down straight away. Shot dead."

For years, Asean used gentle diplomacy on maverick member Myan­mar but Thursday’s rebuke over the military-ruled state’s bloody suppression of pro­democracy protests may be unprecedented, experts and diplomats say.

The unusually sharp words used by foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) demanding the military junta in Yangon immediately stop using violence against protestors also herald a shift away from its rigid, consensus-based decision-making process.

“It is definitely the strongest political written statement by Asean not only on Myanmar but on any single issue in the last 30 years or so,” a senior Asean official told AFP.

The ministers, who met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, expressed their “revulsion” to their Myanmar counterpart Nyan Win, after nine people, including a Japanese journalist, were killed and hundreds arrested in the brutal crackdown.

“They were appalled to receive reports of automatic weapons being used and demanded that the Myanmar government immediately desist from the use of violence against demonstrators,” Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said after chairing the meeting.

The Asean ministers also expressed concern that the turmoil had “a serious impact on the reputation and credibility of Asean,” Yeo said, with his counterparts in the group, including a representative from Myan­mar, beside him.

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session next week to discuss the bloody crackdown on protests by the military regime in Burma, which has left an unspecified number of Buddhist monks and other demonstrators dead and injured this week and hundreds under arrest.

The decision by the highest U.N. human rights body was the finishing touch to its three-week ordinary session, which was largely dedicated to procedural matters.

Najib Tun Razak has advised Malaysians in Burma not to meddle in the internal affairs of the troubled nation including participating in the pro-democracy street demonstrations.


Today, I light a candle

STICKY POST : this post will stay here in support of a police officer.
(Please scroll down for latest post.)

Click image to know why Zorro wants you to light his candle for Nordin Ahmad.


28 September, 2007

'More bloodshed' in Myanmar chaos

Shots fired to clear crowds defying a brutal crackdown in Myanmar Friday have killed more protesters, witnesses said as authorities reportedly cut Internet connections and graphic new video footage showed troops using deadly force.

A day earlier, soldiers with automatic rifles fired into crowds of anti-government demonstrators, reportedly killing at least nine people in the bloodiest day in more than a month of protests demanding an end to military rule.

The governemt also cut Internet connections Friday, according to reports, severing a vital information link that has been used to digitally smuggle images of the violent suppression out of the secretive state.

The death toll from anti-government protests in Myanmar is ``significantly'' higher than the military junta revealed, an Australian envoy said, as the U.S. and Southeast Asian nations demanded an end to the violence.

``Several multiples of the 10 acknowledged by the authorities'' have been killed, Ambassador Bob Davis said in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today from the former capital, Yangon. ``We're appalled at the violence by the military and thugs against peaceful demonstrators.''

Buddhist monks have led nearly two weeks of mass demonstrations against the ruling junta, but after a series of raids on monasteries and arrests of dozens of monks, there were few, if any, in the crowd on Friday.

"The monks have done their job and now we must carry on with the movement," a student leader told the protesters near Sule Pagoda, who clapped and shouted slogans.

"This is a non-violent mass movement," he shouted as the protesters tried to move towards the pagoda, one of several in the centre that have been cordoned off as part of a suffocating security presence.

In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, they moved as close as possible before being confronted by advancing police and soldiers, only to scatter and then regroup and try to advance again.

Police and soldiers have unleashed two days of violent retaliation against the protest movement, using weapons, tear gas and baton charges. At least 13 people have been killed, including a Japanese journalist.

At least two monasteries were raided Wednesday night, including one in the northeastern satellite town of South Okkalapa, where about 100 Buddhist monks were arrested and eight people shot dead after protesting the action.

Several countries on the United Nations Human Rights Council have begun making consultations to propose a special session to study the brutal crackdown this week by the military regime in Burma/Myanmar on young Buddhist monks and other demonstrators.

The Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) wants Myanmar to be expelled from Asean if its military junta continues to use brutal force to break up peaceful protests in the country.

AIPMC president Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said it was not enough for Asean to merely issue statements as its credibility and integrity were at stake.

"Asean must go one step further to dissociate itself from Myanmar as previous actions to persuade the regime have not brought positive results," he told a news conference here Friday.

But Zaid admitted that Asean on its own could not achieve much as long as the big powers, including the United Nations Security Council members, continued to regard Myanmar as a non-security issue.

He said that unless the world took action now, the unrest in Myanmar could escalate into a humanitarian crisis and a repeat of the 1988 tragedy where more than 3,000 protestors were killed by the military junta.

According to Malaysiakini report,about 2,000 people flooded the Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur this morning in protest against the violent military crackdown in Burma.

A massive crowd of 2,000 protesters, all clad in red shirts, swarmed the Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur this morning calling for democracy in the troubled state of Burma.


27 September, 2007

Myanmar junta intensifies crackdown

Beginning the second day of their crackdown on nationwide protests in Myanmar before dawn today, security forces raided at least two Buddhist monasteries, beating and arresting dozens of monks, according to reports from the capital, Yangon.

Facing its most serious challenge since taking power in 1988, the ruling junta is attempting to contain the uprising by tens of thousands of monks who have been at the heart of more than a week of huge demonstrations against economic hardships and the political repression of the military junta.

Media reports said demonstrators were given an ultimatum by the military to disperse within ten minutes or face extreme action.

Speaking from a hotel 19 floors above the face-off, Johan Hallenborg, a Swedish embassy official in Yangon, told CNN the protesters in the country's biggest city were dispersing, as military trucks filled with soldiers rolled through the streets shouting through megaphones.

"From what we've seen, the main avenue is now empty," he said.

Meanwhile, witnesses told CNN's Dan Rivers that security forces were firing warning shots and tear gas near two major pagodas in Yangon's city center.

Christopher Hill, US Assistant Secretary of State, in Beijing for talks on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programme, called for the junta to exercise restraint and pressed China to help stop the crackdown on protesters.

”I think all countries need to use all the influence that they have. I think every country has some influence with Burma, and I think China is certainly one of those,” he told reporters.

In its strongest words on the upheaval to date, China on Thursday publicly urged restraint.

”As a neighbour China is extremely concerned about the situation in Myanmar (Burma),” Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told reporters in Beijing. ”We hope all sides in Myanmar will maintain restraint and properly handle problems so they do not become more complicated or escalate and effect Myanmar’s stability or the peace and stability of the region.”

She refused to condemn or acknowledge the deaths of peaceful protesters during the crackdown but did condemn ”numerous untruthful reports” from international media that ”defamed” China for its role in Burma.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said in New York yesterday that Malaysia did not believe in imposing economic sanctions on Myanmar as they would usually hurt ordinary citizens.

The minister was commenting on calls by certain countries that economic sanctions be effected against Myanmar for alleged human rights abuses and its relatively slow process towards democracy.

The head of Myanmar's information agency has lauded Malaysia's stand to reject calls for economic sanctions on his country.


In the last week Burma has seen unprecedented history unfold with the protests 100,000 people strong led by Burmese Buddhist monks, sparked by the fuel increase last month. The military regime have responded that they will take action if their rules and regulations aren't adhered to. The SPDC has declared Rangoon a restricted area, applied a curfew from 9pm to 5am and reinstated the rule forbidding gatherings of more than 5 people. Witnesses have reported monks being beaten by police and the use of tear gas near Shwedagon Pagoda. Late yesterday shots were fired to disperse monks, and it's estimated that 3 monks have been killed.

If you are thinking about travel to Burma, please contact your country's foreign affair department and seek further advice.

For more information on the events unfolding in Burma, please click here to go to our People Power page. We are updating with news as it occurs.

From: Voices of Burma


26 September, 2007

At least 5 dead in clash between troops, monks inYangon

Myanmar troops used batons, tear gas and bullets Wednesday to keep tens of thousands of marching monks and layman protestors out of Yangon's holiest shrines in a confrontation between rifles and rust-coloured robes that claimed at least five lives.

Police and soldiers at barricades beat monks and laymen back from the east gate of the Shwedagon Pagoda with batons and tear gas twice Wednesday afternoon, leaving at least five people dead, including monks, a former high-level government official said.

At least 30 monks and 50 civilians were taken away in military vehicles to an unknown destination.

Monks have used the Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon's most revered temple, as a launch pad for their peaceful anti-government marches for the past nine days. The show of force, however, failed to stop the monks from marching elsewhere.

Analysis by Burmese exile

This analysis is by Dr Zarni from the Free Burma Coalition on the recent developments in Burma.

My message is simple - bloodshed must be avoided at all costs.

Here are the likely consequences if the generals choose to react the
way the previous military leaderships - from General Ne Win onward -
reacted - violent, uncompromising, and lacking foresight and

1). Roadmap for Democracy will be completely derailed.

2). Absolutely no chance of winning any referendum or elections by
any military-initiated political process against the backdrop of a
public with seething rage and deep and widespread sense of injustice

3). The crumbling of ceasefire arrangements (and return to the old
paradigm of armed resistance)

4). Radicalization of all opposition elements, including the
moderates, and increase in the last resort - violence.

5). Possible abstention of Russia and China at the Security Council
for the next round - this time - binding resolution to push for
non-military, humanitarian intervention

6). Strong support for all kinds of radical initiatives by the
anti-SPDC elements, both within and without the country

7). Irrepairable reputational damage and loss of prestige and any
legitimate influence and role in society, for the once venerable
institution of Tatmadaw or the Armed Forces

8). Western powers tightening exponentially the screw on the regime
FINANCIALLY, putting pressure on various international financial
institutions to freeze all accounts held by Myanmar nationals

9). The loss of validity of any argument that the current military
government can be reasoned with or deserves the benefit of the doubts
or that even the evolutionary and incremental change - under military
- is possible and preferable.

10). The continuation of the vicious cycle of violence, poverty and
conflict, all parties resorting to ZERO SUM game.

11). National nightmare and tragedy since independence repeats itself
for the next several generations while China and India, two giant
neighbors, continue on the path of increasing prosperity and

More updates on Myanmar

Zin Media
Mizzima News.
Matthew Weaver
Voices for Burma


There, monks march, here, Lawyers walk !

Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas into massive crowds of demonstrators in Myanmar's biggest city Wednesday, while hauling away defiant Buddhist monks into waiting trucks — the first mass arrests since protests in this military dictatorship erupted last month.

About 300 monks and activists were arrested across Yangon after braving government orders to stay home, according to an exile dissident group, and reporters saw a number of monks, who are highly revered in Myanmar, being dragged into trucks.

There are about 500,000 monks and novices in Myanmar.

When faced with a similar crisis in 1988, the government brutally suppressed a student-led democracy uprising. Soldiers shot into crowds of peaceful demonstrators, killing thousands.

Foreign governments and religious leaders have urged the junta to deal peacefully with the situation. They included the Dalai Lama and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both Nobel Peace Prize laureates like Suu Kyi.

If the military responds to new protests with force, it could further isolate Myanmar from the international community. It would almost certainly put pressure on Myanmar's top economic and diplomatic supporter, China, which is eager to burnish its international image before next year's Olympics in Beijing.

If monks who are leading the protests are mistreated, that could outrage the predominantly Buddhist country, where clerics are revered. But if the junta backs down, it risks appearing weak and emboldening protesters, which could escalate the tension. There are about 500,000 monks and novices in Myanmar.

"The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom
from fear."
- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Support the Monks' protest in Burma


Join the group.The more people who know what's going on, the better.

Mean time in Malaysia, About 800 Malaysian lawyers marched on the prime minister's office on Wednesday to demand reforms to the country's judiciary after a scandal erupted over claims of political meddling in the appointment of judges.

Lawyers in court attire of white shirts and black trousers set off in a noisy procession from the nearby Palace of Justice, an imposing new granite-and-marble court complex, and shouted "We want justice!" and "Save the judiciary!"

Riot police armed with batons and shields shadowed the march, which organisers described as the biggest protest ever staged by lawyers, as it moved towards the entrance of the prime minister's office. The building was guarded by a water cannon.

"It is a sad day for Malaysia, but a proud day for lawyers," said one demonstrator, Tan Ban Cheng, who had travelled for four hours by bus from the northern state of Penang to join the protest.

Malaysiakini reported that there were 2000 strong crowd walked A peaceful ‘Walk for Justice’ organised by the Bar Council ended with the submission of a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Department calling for the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry to stem the slide in the judiciary.

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25 September, 2007

When the 'Monks' Go Marching In

Open challenge: monks march against the armoured tanks and threats of the military junta

For the first time soldiers in uniform appear, after yesterday’s warning not to demonstrate. The international community fears a bloodbath and appeals to the Junta not to use force.

Thousands of monks challenged the stern warnings issued by the military junta, as they began a fresh day of protests marching towards the Shwedagong pagoda, surrounded by the army and military tanks.

After yesterdays massive demonstration which gathered between 50 and 100 thousand participants, military trucks took to the streets of the city threatening repressive measures against anyone who dares to take further part in the protests: “ We are warning the monks and the civilian population to stop protest marches…. we will take measures in conformity with the law”. The warnings and threats have been carried by International press controller by the junta.

These messages however fail to explain the form these measures will take, even if all involved fear that they will replicate ’88 when the military violently attacked a pro-democracy demonstration killing 3 thousand people.

Myanmar’s military junta on Tuesday threatened military force to disperse what it called unlawful protests and parked military trucks at Rangoon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, the assembly point for the country’s biggest anti-government demonstrations in 20 years.

Nevertheless, protesters led by about 10,000 Buddhist monks chanting ”democracy, democracy” marched out of the Shwedagon Pagoda, now the symbolic heart of a growing campaign against 45 years of unbroken military rule in Myanmar.

”The streets are lined with people clapping and cheering them on,” but there was no sign of any soldiers, a witness told Reuters.

Earlier on Tuesday, loudspeaker vehicles cruising the streets of Rangoon, Myanmar’s biggest city, announced that monks had been ordered to stay out of politics.

”People are not to follow, encourage or take part in these marches. Action will be taken against those who violate this order,” the broadcasts said, invoking a law allowing the use of military force to break up illegal protests.

Myanmar ruling junta on Monday threatened to ”take action” against Buddhist monks who led the biggest protest in Rangoon in nearly 20 years, state media reported.

In the first official reaction to a week of escalating protests, it was reported that Brig Gen Thura Myint Maung had met senior clergy to deliver the warning.

According to state television, the minister said: ”If the monks go against the rules and regulations in the authority of the Buddhist teachings, we will take action under the existing law.”

In response to the demonstrations, the US is set to announce new sanctions against Myanmar’s military dictatorship and step up pressure for tougher action by the UN Security Council.

President George W. Bush will unveil the sanctions in a speech at the UN on Tuesday, said Stephen Hadley, White House national security adviser.

“He is going to announce that there will be additional sanctions directed at key members of the regime and those that provide financial support to them,” Mr Hadley told reporters.

As many as 100,000 people on Monday took to the streets of Rangoon in the largest demonstration seen in the country since the August 1988 pro-democracy protests that ended in a bloody crackdown.

Calls grew for the generals who govern Myanmar to maintain the restraint they have shown over the past week as daily protests against the economic hardship facing ordinary Burmese have grown.

”The government has so far behaved with commendable restraint,” Mark Canning, the British ambassador in Rangoon, told the Financial Times. But he added: ”This is gaining real momentum. There are some very powerful factors driving what is going on.”

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24 September, 2007

Turkey would never turn into another Malaysia

On Friday, two journalists from Turkey biggest-circulation newspaper Hurriyet interviewed Uncle Kit.

I was taken aback when they told me that their prime interest was how Turkey could learn from the mistakes of Malaysia as there is great concern among the Turks of Turkey becoming another Malaysia down the road of an Islamic state.

They wanted to know what were the major and significant events which marked Malaysia turning from its original commitment towards a secular state towards an Islamic state.

Later on the same day, I received an email from a Malaysian enclosing a Turkish media report of Turkish President Gul allaying Turkish fears of Turkey turning into another Malaysia and becoming an Islamic state.

Entitled “Turkey would never turn into another Malaysia”, President Gul answered the question of those who fear Turkey will become a country like Malaysia during his first official trip to Northern Cyprus by responding: “Turkey is negotiating with the EU for full membership. If there are people who still have worries on the scarf issue, then we should fear those people instead.”

Meanwhile, an Islamic opposition leader has likened Malaysia to a police state and said a bloody riot this month was a symptom of outrage over eroding democratic rights.(ANTARA News)

On Sept. 8, police opened fire to disperse rioters at a rally demanding electoral reform in the northeastern state of Terengganu, wounding two members of the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS)

The rally, hosted by a coalition of five opposition political parties and 26 civil society groups, was the largest in a series of such events this year to demand free and fair elections.

"The tragedy has smeared Malaysia's democractic process," PAS President Hadi Awang told Reuters in an interview.

"Malaysia is now lagging behind Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in terms of democracy and freedom."

"We can't hold rallies. The police use intimidation and threats against our supporters. The people are not free, as if we are still under the emergency rule," said Hadi, a burly and bearded Muslim cleric who studied at Egypt's Al-Azhar University.

"Even the Election Commission is taking sides. This will undermine efforts to create a clean and transparent democracy," said Hadi, a father of 14 from his two marriages.

More clashes feared

The 60-year-old said his party would not boycott the country's next general election, widely expected by early next year, but would continue to press for electoral reforms including tackling "phantom" voters.

The riot has raised fears of more clashes ahead of the polls as the opposition fights curbs on rallies. Malaysian law requires a police permit to hold an assembly of more three people.

Malaysia's opposition parties are split along racial lines, but are united in complaining the electoral system is rigged against them and struggle to get their message across to the voters.

PAS, a major opposition force in Malaysia's northeast until it fared miserably in the 2004 general election, wants to turn the multi-religious country into an Islamic state.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has called the riot a desperate attempt by the opposition to gain political mileage and discredit his 14-party ruling coalition.

During the riot, the national flag was burned, an act the mainstream media has seized on to accuse opposition members of being unpatriotic.

Hadi, whose party ruled Terengganu state between 1999 and 2004, said he was confident PAS would return to power there and retain the neighbouring Kelantan state in the next polls.

"The riot will lead to the people's uprising and anger. It will have a very positive impact on PAS in the coming polls due to growing voters' sympathy."


23 September, 2007

Mahathir back on respirator

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad underwent surgery and was back on a respirator on Sunday after a recent heart bypass led to a chest infection, a hospital statement said.

Institut Jantung Negara, 23 September....YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad has successfully undergone surgical wound debridement yesterday (Saturday, Sept 22) because of wound infection.

The surgery commenced at 11.30pm and ended at 2.30am. The procedure was undertaken by the same surgical team that performed the second coronary bypass surgery on Dr Mahathir at the IJN on September 4.

He is currently stable and has been put under routine post-cardiac surgery support.

He is expected to remain on support for at least 36-hours for post-operative care and will be put under close monitoring and observation by IJN doctors and nurses at the Intensive Care Unit.

The next 72-hours will be the crucial period in his post-operative care.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is recovering from a coronary bypass operation, Saturday night underwent surgical wound debridement owing to a wound infection.

The surgery commenced at 11.30pm and ended at 2.30am today, said a statement issued by the National Heart Institute (IJN) here.

The procedure was undertaken by the same surgical team, led by Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang, which had performed the coronary bypass surgery on Dr Mahathir at the IJN on Sept 4.

The statement said Dr Mahathir was in stable condition and had been put on routine post-cardiac surgery support.

He is expected to remain on the support for at least 36 hours for post-operative care and would be closely monitored and observed by the IJN doctors and nurses in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), it added.

The statement said the next 72 hours would be a crucial period in the post-operative care.

Debridement is the surgical excision of dead, devitalised or contaminated tissue and removal of foreign matter from a wound. It is said to increase the rate of wound healing.

Dr Mahahir, 81, who underwent his second coronary bypass surgery on Sept 4 at the premier heart centre, was transferred back to ICU 10 days later. He had been placed in the normal Bunga Raya Ward on Sept 12.

The former prime minister underwent his first coronary bypass surgery, at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, on Jan 24 1989 following a heart attack.

A word from Marina Mahathir :

" So....please don't worry. He got through the operation OK. His heart is fine. Now it's a matter once again of recovery. For that I need to humbly once again ask for your prayers so that he will get through this well and as speedily as possible. Thank you so much."

"Tolong jangan bimbang. Ayah saya telah berjaya melalui pembedahan kedua untuk membersihkan infeksi di bahagian pembedahan yang dijalankan pada 4hb Sept lalu. Sekarang hanya menunggu untuk dia pulih semula. Oleh itu, saya dengan rendah diri terpaksa meminta sekali lagi supaya anda semua berdoa supaya dia cepat sembuh.Terima kasih tak terhingga."


22 September, 2007

Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on

About 16,000 words have succumbed to pressures of the Internet age and lost their hyphens in a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.

And if you've got a problem, don't be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).

The hyphen has been squeezed as informal ways of communicating, honed in text messages and emails, spread on Web sites and seep into newspapers and books.

"People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they're not really sure what they are for," said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.

Another factor in the hyphen's demise is designers' distaste for its ungainly horizontal bulk between words.

"Printed writing is very much design-led these days in adverts and Web sites, and people feel that hyphens mess up the look of a nice bit of typography," he said. "The hyphen is seen as messy looking and old-fashioned."

The team that compiled the Shorter OED, a two-volume tome despite its name, only committed the grammatical amputations after exhaustive research.

"The whole process of changing the spelling of words in the dictionary is all based on our analysis of evidence of language, it's not just what we think looks better," Stevenson said.

Researchers examined a corpus of more than 2 billion words, consisting of full sentences that appeared in newspapers, books, Web sites and blogs from 2000 onwards.

For the most part, the dictionary dropped hyphens from compound nouns, which were unified in a single word (e.g. pigeonhole) or split into two (e.g. test tube).

But hyphens have not lost their place altogether. The Shorter OED editor commended their first-rate service rendered to English in the form of compound adjectives, much like the one in the middle of this sentence.

"There are places where a hyphen is necessary," Stevenson said. "Because you can certainly start to get real ambiguity."

Twenty-odd people came to the party, he said. Or was it twenty odd people?

Some of the 16,000 hyphenation changes in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, sixth edition:

Formerly hyphenated words split in two:

fig leaf

hobby horse

ice cream

pin money

pot belly

test tube

water bed

Formerly hyphenated words unified in one:










-By Simon Rabinovitch

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21 September, 2007


Due to the overwhelming scientific evidence produced, the parents of Nurin Jazlin have decided to accept the body they inspected as of their daughter's.

The body will be claimed this morning and funeral (burial) would probably be held after Friday prayers today.

(from Jasni AJ, Nurin's uncle with nearly 500 condolence messages)

An emotional Jazimin Abdul Jalil finally came to terms with the death of his daughter Nurin Jazlin Jazimin and was at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary Friday morning to claim her body for burial.

Jazimin, who yesterday adamantly refused to accept that the girl's body found stuffed in a sports bag was that of his missing eight-year-old daughter despite the DNA test proving otherwise, could not control his emotions and was in tears as he went through the procedures of claiming the body of Nurin, a victim of brutal murder and sexual abuse.

Jazimin, clad in a pink "baju Melayu" and black trousers, accompanied by family members and relatives, was handed Nurin's body at 11.15am. After a short prayer, the body was taken to a van.

At the family's house in Section One, Wangsa Maju, Nurin's mother, Norazian Bistaman anxiously waited for her husband's return with their daughter, fondly called "Kak Ngah" by family members and neighbours.

Nurin was buried after Friday prayers at the Wangsa Maju Muslim cemetery.

Yesterday, police confirmed the results of the DNA test done on the blood samples taken from the dead girl matched that of Jazimin, 33, and Norazian, 35.

However, Nurin's parents were doubtful over the findings and asked for a second DNA test. The outcome will be known on Sunday.

Nurin, a Standard Two pupil of Sekolah Kebangsaan Desa Setapak, was missing since Aug 20 when she went to a night market near her home in Wangsa Maju on her own.

She was last seen being dragged into a white van by a man.

On Monday, an employee of a book distribution company found a sports bag at the bottom of a staircase of a shoplot in PJS1/48, Petaling Utama, and brought into her working place, thinking that it belonged to her boss.

Her boss later opened the bag and discovered the naked body of a girl believed to be between six and nine-years-old in a foetal position in the brand new bag.

Police later found bruise marks on her neck, suggesting strangulation, and a brinjal and a cucumber inserted in her private parts.

Meanwhile, thousands of mourners, including children, from all races paid their last respects to Nurin at the Assa'Adah Madrasah in Wangsa Maju where the funeral rites were performed.

Among them was Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Policemen were seen diverting traffic to ease congestion.


Meanwhile,he Bukit Aman Crime Investigation Department has established a new unit known as the Sexual, Abuse and Child Investigation Division or D11 to specially deal with such cases.

Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said the unit, comprising women officers, was to beef up and enhance police efficiency in handling cases related to child abuse and domestic violence.

"The division has 101 women personnel who are well-trained to handle sexual, abuse and child cases," he told reporters after a briefing for MCA Wanita at the Bukit Aman auditorium here.

He said police were concerned with the increase in rape cases, 26 per cent from 1,931 cases in 2005 to 2,431 last year, adding that most of the victims were students.


20 September, 2007

Nurin Jazlin

Oh God, no! but Police confirmed the DNA test on the body of a girl found stuffed in a sports bag at a shophouse in Petaling Jaya Utama on Monday is that of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin who was missing since a month ago.

Petaling Jaya OCPD ACP Arjunaidi Mohamed said blood tests on the body and Nurin's parents confirmed their blood ties.

He said Nurin's parents were informed of the DNA finding this affernoon.

Read the news fom Malaysiakini here. Bernama here, The Star here.

Original post :

this post will stay here until she's found.
(Please scroll down for latest posts.)

From Rocky's Bru :
Bloggers, please help. This 8-year old has been missing for 28 days. I am a parent, too, and my heart goes out to her parents. The least I could do is pray for her safe return and, as a blogger, let as many people know about Nurin through the blogsite her dad has set up to help find the baby he's lost. It's nurinjazlin.blogspot.com. Please do a link, fellow bloggers.

More Missing Children
(From The Star Online 19 Sept.2007 )

Nurin Jazlin among 17 children still on police list of missing persons

PETALING JAYA: As the anguish continues for Nurin Jazlin’s parents Jazimin Abdul Jalil and Norazian Bistaman, there are at least 16 other parents out there anxiously awaiting news of their missing children.

Nurin is among the 17 children under the age of nine – 10 boys and seven girls – on the police’s list of missing persons.

These children seem to have “vanished” between January and July this year, and have yet to be found. Some left their homes, and like Nurin, never returned. Others were lured away by friends.

They are among the 34 cases (under nine years old) reported to the police until July. Sixteen of the cases involve boys and 18 others are girls. Police have so far found six boys and 11 girls.

“There were other reasons as well, such as the children running away because they were not interested in studying anymore and wanted freedom.

“Many also cited being scolded by their parents and they felt their parents did not understand them, or they felt their parents did not care for them,” said CID director Commissioner Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee.

“But the main reason for the missing children was family dispute. Ten cases involved one parent taking away the child without informing the other after the couple divorced,” he said.

Wanita MCA chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said society must accept that times have changed.

“We must re-look the value of trust. Urbanisation and progress bring development but also complicate society. We have all kinds of strangers around us and our children.

“The onus is on us, as parents, not to allow our children go out by themselves, even if it is to the grocery store. It is unfortunate, but we must also teach our children not to help strangers because the young ones are too innocent to differentiate between a ruse and a genuine cry for help,” said Dr Ng.

The Deputy Finance Minister said as harsh as it sounded, parents must also teach their children not to be trusting of strangers, teachers and even relatives.

“It has been proven that children have been terribly hurt by those closest to them. The bad person is not confined to the stranger on the street,” said Dr Ng.

She urged society to be caring enough to look out for all children.

“If you happen to come across a child in need, or one looking terrified as she is being held tightly by an adult, do not turn a blind eye, ask the child if he needs your help,” said Dr Ng.

Child psychologist and Suhakam commissioner Dr Chiam Heng Keng said adults could not expect children to have the ability to fend for themselves, or differentiate a “good” person from a “bad” one.

“Children below 10 are not mature enough to think rationally. In many advanced countries, the law forbids these children to be left alone at home or venture out on their own,” she said.


19 September, 2007

Convenient racism

RACISM is, among many things, convenient. It provides simplified, definite and ready-to-serve answers to complex and compounded questions. Racists, in turn, come from all walks of life; their motivation and the root causes behind their contemptible views of others may differ, but the outcome of these views is predictably the same — racial discrimination, social and political oppression, religious persecution and war.

The textual definition of racism pertains only to race, but in practice racism is a consequence of groupthink, whereby a group of people decides to designate itself as a collective and starts delineating its relationship with other collectives — or other people in general — with a sense of supremacy. When coupled with economic and/or political dominance, supremacy translates into various forms of subjugation and cruelty.

The adulation of the self/collective and the disparagement of the other is an ancient practice, as old as human civilisation itself. It is everlasting for the simple reason that it has always served as a political and economic tool and will likely remain effective so long as the quest for political and material power drives our behaviour.

It is also pertinent to stress that the need for this negative group designation is not always as straightforward as ‘black’ and ‘white’. For example, less economically advantaged Eastern Europeans seeking (competing for) employment in Western Europe find themselves lumped in the same group and subject to all sorts of classifications. Equally convenient has been the caricatured misrepresentation of ‘Arabs’ by mainstream media, which serves to further specific political and economic interests.

Ironically, an extreme form of racism also exists in some Arab countries, where foreign workers find themselves placed in a hierarchy based on country of origin. Western European and Americans top the scale and are readily accommodated, while South-East Asians are often at the bottom. A very qualified Asian engineer, for example, may find himself getting paid a lot less than a French one with relatively little experience.

In some countries, like South Africa, racism has wrecked havoc on society for generations. It manifests itself in the refusal of some people to identify with their original ancestral cultures, because they fear that such affinity would negate the fact that they are ‘full’ South African citizens (a right for which they fought a most arduous fight).

In Malaysia, which exhibits considerable social harmony when compared to some of it neighbours, racial classification is still very much real. Despite the government’s commendable efforts to accentuate the Malaysian national model while carefully underscoring the Malay, Chinese or Indian sub-groupings, members of these groups are wary of their statistical representation in Malaysian society. Some react by stressing their number in comparison to the other groups, while others tirelessly underscore the types of discrimination they experience at the hands of those with the political and economic advantages.

While racism is universally recognised, few individuals would admit to their own prejudices and racist tendencies. Moreover, it would be self-deceiving to view racism as a purely western phenomenon. While the western model of racism, influenced by 18th century colonialism, is unique in many respects, group prejudices based on class, race and religion are shared almost equally between all nations.

The racism of those with political, military and economic power is often violent and detrimental, but it is important to remember that the underdog can be just as racist. An Arab reader from London sent me an email demanding that I explain myself for collaborating on various projects with some well-known Jewish authors. ‘You are either naïve or you are selling out,’ she wrote. It made no difference to her that these authors are anti-Zionist and have been, for many years, on the frontline of the struggle for Palestinian rights and justice. She simply couldn’t break away from a deeply ingrained racist belief that ‘Jews are not to be trusted.’

Of course, this is not an Arab, but a global predisposition; prolonged conflicts and wars tend to validate and inflate already existing prejudices. Although the Israeli educational system has produced generations of students saturated with grossly misleading images of Arabs and Palestinians, the relationship between Arabs and Jews hasn’t always been negative. For centuries, both groups lived in harmony; some of the best Arab poets of past times were Jews and some of the most luminous Jewish texts were written originally in Arabic. Unfortunately conflict and war have a way of undermining such facts; racism in Israel is so intense now that few dare use the term ‘Arab Jew’.

Even when it doesn’t pertain to races, most people seem to slide easily into greater tribal memberships that divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’, often using words of negation and often utilising religion. The ‘non’ factor becomes very useful here — ‘non-Muslim’, ‘non-Jew’, ‘non-Christian’, and so on. Such negations are never well-intended and always produce negative results. Less apprehensive terms such as ‘non-democratic’ (a neo-colonial equivalent to ‘un-civilized’ perhaps?) could be similarly loaded and dangerous and are often used to promote and justify war.

It remains to be said that a true fight against racism and various other types of group prejudice requires first accepting personal responsibility in shaping one’s own society, and this includes the racism that exists within it. Martin Luther King, Jr refused ‘to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.’ We, too, must uncompromisingly reject such a view if we truly wish for peace, harmony and equality to replace war, social discord and injustice.

- BY RAMZY BAROUD ,Khaleej Times Online

Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).


17 September, 2007

Return My Son’s Corpse In Malaysia To Me

WITH tears flowing freely, continually wiped off by a white handkerchief and his sobbing wife, Loyce, beside him, Deacon Dennis Nwankwo, an indigene of Obilagu Ukomi-Lokpanta in Umuneochi Local Government Area of Abia State appealed to the Malaysian authorities on Friday to release his murdered son, Lawrence, to him for proper burial in Nigeria.

On February 28, 2006, the family of Mr. Dennis Ogbonnaya Nwankwo, who hails from Abia State but resides in Port-Harcourt, was thrown into mourning following the news that their 24-year-old son, Mr. Lawrence Dennis Nwankwo was dead in far away Kuala-Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

The grieving parents of late Lawrence, his father Nwankwo and mother, Loyce, who narrated their ordeal to journalists in Port Harcourt since the news of their son's death was broken to them are crying foul play over the manner of their son's death and the refusal of the Malaysian authorities to release the corpse of late Lawrence for burial in Nigeria, more than one year after his death.

According to late Lawrence's father, his son left the shores of Nigeria on October 11, 2005, after securing the necessary travelling documents from the Malaysian Embassy in Nigeria, upon gaining admission into a Kuala-Lumpur based higher institution, Rima College for a degree in general business. The school is located at No 54 Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala-Lumpur and was according to the letter of admission sent to the late Lawrence registered under the Education Act of Malaysia in 1961 with company registration number 282095-W by that country's ministry of education.

The letter of admission from the college was signed by one Mr. Santhiran Ramasamy, the director of marketing. Incidentally, he was the same man who called the Nwankwo family in Nigeria on February 28, 2006, informing them about the death of their sibling on behalf of Rima College.

Nwankwo said he was informed by the said Mr. Ramasamy that Lawrence was killed by unknown persons and that his killers left his son's cell phone in his right palm while his Nigerian passport was equally left in his right palm. No further details were given, the father of late Lawrence said. What's however is bothering the family of Nwankwo is how his killers were able to get hold of his international passport at the time of the murder, why the authorities of Rima College have shown so much indifference to the brutal murder of their son, the lack of information about police investigation into the killing and the identity of the killers as well as the refusal to return the home to Nigeria for burial.

On March 31, 2007, Nwankwo petitioned former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The petition was received by one Mr. Samson Alabi in the Presidency on April 24, 2007. In the letter, the parents of the dead Nigerian intimated the president about what befell their son in Malaysia, the circumstances surrounding his death, contacts made with the Nigeria High Commission in Malaysia and the foreign affairs ministry in Nigeria and how all these efforts have come to naught while the whereabouts of the corpse of their son remains unknown. He appealed to the president to intervene, saying in the letter that he was not interested in seeking for the revenge of his son's death, the payment of any financial compensation or in tracking down his killers.

Before this letter to the president, the Nwankwo's had earlier written to the consular officer in the Nigerian High Commission in Kuala-Lumpur on March 17, 2006. In the letter, the father of Lawrence raised further questions about the death of the Nigerian youngster. He informed the high commission that on the day late Lawrence was killed, he had allegedly been invited out by school mates that evening. Also, the father said Lawrence had just opened an account with MayBank, account number 114263077418 into which he(father) had paid $2,000 apart from the $1,000 earlier paid by Lawrence to the school authorities as tuition fees.

On March 29, 2006, the Nigerian High Commission in Malaysia responded to Mr. Nwankwos enquiries about the death of his son. The high commission in its reply while commiserating with the family of the deceased assured that it was in contact with the Malaysian police over the murder and informed the family that it had forwarded their petition to the ministry of foreign affairs for further directives on what line of action to take.

Similarly, the foreign affairs ministry in its letter of March 29, 2006, confirmed having being informed of the murder of Lawrence by the Nigerian High Commission in Malaysia. The letter written by Miss Francisca U. Musa on behalf of the then foreign affairs minister informed the Nwankwos that the "body of the deceased Nigerian (Lawrence) has been deposited at Hospital UKM mortuary, Kuala-Lumpur by the police because the circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear". The ministry asked the family of the deceased to apprise the ministry of their decision about the remains of Lawrence for their necessary action.

According to the parents of late Lawrence, they decided to take their plight to the court of public opinion through the press because "at this juncture, I am forced to ask if there's anything I would have done than what I've done to attract my government's sympathy at a time like this?"

Weekly Trust investigations in Port Harcourt reveal that there exist a syndicate that specialises in securing admission in Malaysian higher institutions to unsuspecting Nigerians with the active collaboration of agents in Malaysia, and the syndicate charges exorbitant fees from interested applicants.

What is not known is whether the late Lawrence fell prey to the admission scam ran by this syndicate and on getting to Malaysia, discovered that his so called admission by Rima College was fake after all and therefore demanded the refund of the processing and tuition fees that he had paid to the syndicate.

The Malaysian High Commission in Nigeria said it has contacted the authorities in Kuala Lumpur for additional information on the deceased. Acting Malaysian High Commissioner Melvin Castelino said in a reply to an email by our correspondent that the embassy was deeply touched by the incident.

"First and foremost, The High Commission would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of the late Mr. Lawrence Nwankwo. The High Commission as stated in our response earlier to the family of the late Mr. Nwankwo that the High Commission is deeply concerned on the events surrounding this case and has requested the necessary authorities in Malaysia to extend all the necessary cooperation in this case and to bring this matter to rest.

"The Malaysian High Commission has responded to the family of the late Mr. Nwanko, in all instances where they had been in contact with the Malaysian High Commission.

"The High Commission has conveyed all the necessary request and queries on this matter to the relevant authorities in Malaysia and will revert any further information to your goodself on this matter soonest possible," Castelino said.

Read also

Nigeria: Family Seeks FG's Help Over Murdered Son in Malaysia

Return My Son’s Corpse In Malaysia To Me


16 September, 2007


Latest update :

Services at Phuket International Airport were suspended while airport workers and emergency personnel cleared the runway of wreckage in the aftermath of the horrendous crash of a budget passenger airliner Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the unofficial death toll rose to 88, with 42 persons injured, and mainly hospitalised.

Before leaving Bangkok for Phuket together with many senior officials of the ministry, Thailand's Deputy Minister of Transport Sansern Wongcha-um on Sunday evening said that the airport in the southern province is expected to resume operations on Monday morning, at 6 am.

About 1,000 passengers could not travel after four flights were cancelled: three Bangkok-bound and the fourth for Hong Kong


Bangkok Post

A One-To-Go Airlines passenger jet with 128 people aboard crashed and burned while landing at Phuket Airport in foul weather Sunday afternoon. Phuket deputy governor Vorapot Rajsima said 88 people were confirmed dead.

At least 29 people were confirmed to have survived, including two Australians.

"Nearly half the passengers were foreign tourists," said one survivor, Nong Khaonuan. In a TV interview, he said. "I've flown on many airplanes before and I can say there was something strange about our landing. We seemed to drop down too fast."

There was hope that many survived after TiTV showed two foreigners being carried away to local hospital. But the fire that ripped through the crashed aircraft apparently claimed dozens of lives.

The MD82 plane of the budget airline skidded off the runway after landing on a flight from Don Muang airport in Bangkok, and crashed into trees, bursting into fire.

"The fire was throughout the airplane," said Phuket Deputy Governor Worraphot Ratsrimaa. "We expect that at least 90 per cent of the passengers died."

"The plane was landing and slid off the runway. We are rescuing people and carrying injured people to hospitals," said Pol Lt Sokchai Limcharoen, a police officer in the area in an early report.

Chaisak Angsuwan, director general of the Air Transport Authority of Thailand said the aircraft broke in two as it attempted to land at Phuket airport in bad weather.

Chaisak said that there was heavy rain when flight OG269 of parent Orient Thai Airways traveling from Bangkok's Don Muang airport to Phuket attempted to make a landing. Planes in both Orient Thai and One-Two-Go livery use the OG flight identifier.

"The visibility was poor as the pilot attempted to land. He decided to make a go-around but the plane lost balance and crashed,". he said. "The plane then fell onto the runway and broke into two. It is expected that there will be deaths.

"The airplane asked to land but due to the weather in Phuket -strong wind and heavy rain -maybe the pilot did not see the runway clearly," said Chaisak.

Witnesses said the airline was using its usual MD-82 twin-engine passenger jet aircraft, a model of the McDonnell-Douglas DC9. One-Two-Go owned seven such planes, which it used for frequent flights around Thailand, including six each day from Bangkok to Phuket and return.

Airport officials and rescue workers are still working to help the victims from the plane which caught fire after it crashlanded and skidded off the runway.

Authorities said there were 123 passengers and five crew members on board when the plane crashed at about 3:35pm Sunday afternoon.

Weather in Phuket has been bad for several days, with thunderstorms and high wind gusts at times.


15 September, 2007

Don't Expect Shark's Fin Soup At Ministry Functions

Sorry, no more Shark's Fin Soup At Ministry Functions !

Malaysiakini reported that Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has struck off shark's fin soup from the menus at official functions, to help conserve the species,

Minister Azmi Khalid told the official Bernama news agency that the ministry had made the commitment to the Malaysian Nature Society.

"By refraining from the consumption of shark's fin soup, it is hoped that the ministry would contribute in one way or another towards the current conservation efforts for sharks species," he said.

"Their demise would start off a domino effect, which at each stage could result in the depletion or overpopulation of other fish and marine species leading to an imbalance in the marine ecosystem," he said.

The marine group has embarked on a series of activities and programmes to promote awareness about the plight of the shark, its importance as a key component of the marine ecosystem, and to correct popular misconceptions about shark's fin soup.

The statement did not say whether the ministry might consider a wider ban on shark's fin soup.

Conservationists say shark's fins are cut from sharks that are thrown back into the ocean to die. Tens of millions of sharks are estimated to be killed each year for their fins.

Shark's fin soup is widely served in many restaurants in Malaysia, which has a large ethnic Chinese minority.

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14 September, 2007

ENVIRONMENT: Worst Places on Earth Are Home to Millions

Rapidly industrialising India and China have claimed four of the top 10 most polluted places on the planet for the first time, according to a report by U.S. and European environmental groups.

In 2006, Russia topped the list with the three sites in the top 10, but this year, two very large toxic sites affecting hundreds of thousands of people in India and China were included that had been missed in the previous global survey, said Richard Fuller, director of the New York- based Blacksmith Institute, a independent environmental group that released the list Sep. 12 report in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland.

"We were surprised these sites had not been reported before," Fuller told IPS.

One is Tianying in the Anhui Province of China, which produces about 50 percent of the country's lead, often from low-level and illegal production facilities. A lack of environmental enforcement has resulted in severe lead poisoning, with soil and homes contaminated at levels 10 to 24 times China's national standards.

Up to 140,000 people may be affected, suffering from brain damage and mental retardation.

"The Chinese government says it is one of the worst environmental sites in the country," says David Hanrahan, Blacksmith's director of global operations.

Another newly "discovered" toxic community is in India's Sukinda Valley in the state of Orissa, home to 2.6 million people and one of the largest open cast chromite ore mines in the world. Twelve mines continue to operate without any environmental management plans. Over 30 million tonnes of waste rock are spread over the surrounding area and untreated water is discharged into the local river.

The ore is mined and refined for use in the many chrome-plated products enjoyed in North America and Europe, said Hanrahan.

Approximately 70 percent of the surface water and 60 percent of the drinking water contains hexavalent chromium at more than double national and international standards, and sometimes up to 20 times higher. In villages less than one kilometre from the sites, 24.47 percent of the inhabitants were found to be suffering from pollution-induced diseases.

"The fact of the matter is that children are sick and dying in these polluted places, and it's not rocket science to fix them," said Fuller.

The 10 sites in seven countries documented in the "World's Worst Polluted Places 2007" affect a total of 12 million people.

It's easy and often cheap to clean up these sites, experts say. The Blacksmith Institute's efforts are directed towards helping local groups find ways to address the problems. Most are old industrial sites that operated without any pollution controls and there was little attempt to clean them up before being abandoned.

Cleanup efforts that can take a decade or more appear too big, too costly and too complicated for local governments.

"There has been little action in terms of new funding or programmes. We all need to step up to the plate and get moving," Fuller said.

Russian authorities continue to deny there are any health problems in Dzerzhinsk, a city of 300,000 people where chemical weapons like sarin, VX gas, Mustard gas, and phosgene were manufactured for 50 years. At least 300,000 tonnes of waste from their manufacture were disposed of in the groundwater.

Birth defects are very common and the average lifespan of residents has fallen to the low 40s in a city where chemical manufacturing is still the major employer.

"There's been an absolutely frightening impact on people due to the huge amounts of toxics in the area," said Hanrahan.

Dzerzhinsk and another Russian city Norilsk, site of the world's largest metal smelting operations remain in the top 10 from last year.

The Top Ten list is based on scoring criteria devised by an international group of experts including researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Hunter College, Harvard University, IIT Delhi, University of Idaho, Mt. Sinai Hospital, and leaders of major international environmental remediation companies. Specialists from Green Cross Switzerland also participated in this year's assessment.

The methodology for 2007 Top Ten list was refined "to place more weight on the scale and toxicity of the pollution and on the numbers of people at risk," according to the report.

Another new feature of the 2007 report is the "Dirty 30", a more comprehensive group of polluted locations around the globe that includes the Top Ten. The four sites from the 2006 Top Ten that do not appear in the 2007 list are: Haina, Dominican Republic; Ranipet, India; Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan; and Rudnaya Pristan, Russia. All remain in the larger list.

The majority of the Dirty 30 sites lie in Asia, with China, India and Russia having the greatest number.

More than 400 sites were surveyed for inclusion and this only represents perhaps one-third to two-thirds of all the major toxic areas in the world, estimates Fuller.

"We don't have much information from Central Asia or Latin America," he says.

However, the mining town of La Oroya in Peru remains on the list from last year. The site of a poly-metallic smelter owned by the Missouri-based Doe Run Corporation, the plant has been largely responsible for the dangerously high lead levels found in children's blood.

The problem is well documented, but action to clean up and curtail this pollution has been delayed for the area's 35,000 inhabitants, the report found.

"Governments and others don't seem to realise that toxic pollution has a huge impact on their economies," said Stephan Robinson of Green Cross Switzerland, an NGO that works to overcome damages caused by industrial and military disasters.

People who die prematurely or who are sick in their most productive years represent a significant economic loss to their countries, Robinson explained.

"A healthy environment and healthy citizens are key for any countries' future," he said.

The Ten "Killer Communities" for 2007, in alphabetical order by country, are: Sumgayit, Azerbaijan; Linfen, China; Tianying, China; Sukinda, India; Vapi, India; La Oroya, Peru; Dzerzhinsk, Russia; Norilsk, Russia; Chernobyl, Ukraine; and Kabwe, Zambia.

Source: Stephen Leahy, IPS News, via One World