27 February, 2010

1Malaysia - Caning the messenger ?

Malaysia - Caning the messenger?
By Teymoor Nabili - Blog Aljazeera

The government of Malaysia has sent a threatening legal letter to The Star newspaper, after its managing editor, P Gunasegaram, spoke out against the decision to cane three women for adultery.

In an editorial titled “Persuasion, not compulsion”, Gunasegaram questioned whether the sentence imposed on the women was approriate to their offence, and expressed concern about the situation in Malaysia if the interpretation of shariah law in the country approaches the situation in other nations.

We don’t want public flogging, we don’t want arms chopped off, we don’t want people to be stoned to death, and we don’t want people to be burned at the stake.

The letter from the Home Ministry to The Star did not specify what exactly it objected to in Gunasegaram's article; the "show-cause" notice only demands the paper now give a good reason why the government should not take action against it.

In Malaysia, "action" against newspapers means there's a good chance that its publishing licence may not be renewed.The licenses are reviewed annually, and revocation is a constant worry in a country where media are closely monitored.

The Star has immediately issued an apology, saying

We would like to categorically state that there was no intention to insult or offend Muslims.

The fact remains that a number of Muslims did take offence, and complained.

The article in question has now been taken down from the Star's website.

Since Gunasegaram is not a Muslim, The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) has decreed that he is not allowed to express these opinions, even if they do address matters of internal politics germain to his personal rights as a citizen of Malaysia.

Mais secretary Mohamed Khusrin Munawi said:

those who were not well-versed with the shariah criminal law, had no rights and not qualified to question a law governing Muslims.

There are others within the country who argue that a free media, and thoughtful debate on matters relevant to the whole population, are essential elements of a successful nation.

For people who want to make up their own mind about the issue, the text is still available here, but here's a clear warning, this article has already been deemed unacceptable by some Muslims. Those who agree with Mais - that non-Muslims should not comment on matters pertaining to shariah law - are strongly advised not to follow the link.

(Teymoor Nabili is an award-winning presenter and correspondent based in Kuala Lumpur.)


26 February, 2010

Paul Martin Speak out for Anwar Ibrahim's sake

Paul Martin
From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. After having differences of opinion with prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he was removed from office, charged with sodomy and corruption – charges condemned worldwide as an attempt to remove him from politics – and imprisoned for six years. After his release in 2004, he became the leader of a coalition of opposition parties that is successfully challenging the ruling coalition's power. Mr. Anwar has now been charged again with sodomy, a charge that has again been condemned worldwide.

I have known Mr. Anwar well since the period when we each served as finance ministers for our respective countries. He is deeply committed to democracy, justice and the rule of law. And I have watched with horror how he has been treated in Malaysia because of that commitment. His initial imprisonment was seen worldwide as politically motivated. Amnesty International regarded him as a prisoner of conscience, jailed for the non-violent expression of his political opinion. After his release in 2004, he redoubled his campaign, attracting thousands to his public rallies, with the result that the historic 2008 election returned an unprecedented number of opposition candidates to Parliament. He now poses a threat to the government in the next national elections, expected in 2013 – the real reason for the latest charge.

His trial, which began Feb. 2, is widely seen as not meeting international standards for a fair trial. The former Anwar political aide who is making the sodomy accusation was reportedly seen with leading ruling coalition figures prior to the filing of the charge; Mr. Anwar's lawyers have been denied access to vital prosecution documents; and the trial has been transferred to a higher court whose judges are seen as linked to the ruling coalition's main party. It is small wonder that Michael Danby, chair of Australia's parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, has charged that Malaysia's legal system is being manipulated to drive Mr. Anwar out of politics. Mr. Danby has said that Asian democrats were “flabbergasted” by the charges and that “everyone in Malaysia, and everyone in the international legal community, knows that Anwar is innocent of these charges.”

The presence of so many foreign embassies attending Mr. Anwar's show trial is a clear expression of international concern. This is an issue on which the world must speak out.

If his country is to take its place among the progressive nations of the world, it is crucial that the politically motivated charge against Mr. Anwar be dropped and that he be free to pursue his vision of a democratic Malaysia, properly respectful of human rights and international law.

(Paul Martin is former prime minister of Canada.)

Read also:

"Malaysian politician's sodomy trial publicizes taboo topic" - Los Angeles Times

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25 February, 2010

No action against two Al-Islam magazine's journalists , We are 1Malaysia !

From Malaysiakini:

Due to overwhelming pressure from the general public, the Dang Wangi police district headquarters revealed yesterday that charges against two Al-Islam magazine's journalists, who entered a Catholic church in Ipoh, have been dropped.

The duo who - on the pretext of checking out a claim that Muslims were being converted to Christianity - entered a Catholic church in Ipoh and took part in the holy communion.

They were charged under Section 298A (1) of the Penal Code for causing disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or prejudicing the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion.

In a letter to the complainant, senior investigating officer ASP Ananthan Rajoo stated that the Attorney-General's Chambers had decided not to press charges against them.

"We referred this case to the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) and we received orders from them to take no further action (NFA)," stated the letter, dated Feb 12.

Complainant K Sudhagaran Stanley, who had lodged the police report in June last year, expressed disappointment.

"We are deeply hurt and our rights to freely worship has been violated.

"We are pressing for this charges to be placed not because of revenge, but because we want this country to be ruled by law, that people will respect the faith of others, that Malaysians will know that they cant just go and humiliate the beliefs of others and get away with it.

"This reply from the government sends a wrong signal down to Malaysians. We will see more of such cases in the future if we don't stand up for our rights now," he said via email.

He added that a mass peaceful protest will be organised soon to protest the decision made by the AG's Chambers.

Section 298 of the Penal Code

298. Uttering words, etc. with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.

Whoever, with deliberate- intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utter any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person, or makes ant gesture in the sight of that person, or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

298A. Causing etc, disharmony, disunity, or feelings or enmity, hatred or ill-will, or prejudicing, etc., the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion.

(1) Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by signs, or by visible representations, or by any act, activity or conduct, or by organising, promoting or arranging, or assisting in organising, promoting or arranging, any activity, or otherwise in any other manner-

(a) causes, or attempts to cause, or is likely to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will; or

(b) prejudices or attempts to prejudice, or is likely to prejudice, the maintenance of harmony or unity,

on grounds of religion, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than two years and not more than five years.

(2) Sections 173A and 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code (F.M.S. Cap. 6) shall not apply in respect of an offence under subsection (1).

(3) Where any person alleges or imputes in any manner specified in subsection (1)-

(a) that any other person, or any class, group or description of persons, professing any particular religion;

(i) has ceased to profess that religion; or

(ii) should not be accepted, or cannot be accepted, as professing that religion; or

(iii) does not believe, follow, profess, or belong to, that religion; or

(b) that anything lawfully done by any religious official appointed, or by any religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law, in the exercise of any power, or in the discharge of any duty, or in the performance of any function, of a religious character, by virtue of being so appointed, established or constituted, is not acceptable to such person, or should not be accepted by any other person or persons, or does not accord with or fulfil the requirements of that religion, or is otherwise wrong or improper,

he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing the religion referred to in the allegation or imputation.

(4) (a) Where, on any ground of a religious character, any person professing any particular religion uses for burial or cremation of any human corpse a place other than one which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion, he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing that religion.

(b) Where any person, on any ground of a religious character, counsels, advises, instigates, urges, pleads with, or appeals or propagates to, or in any manner or by any means calls upon, whether directly or indirectly, any other person or persons professing any particular religion-

(i) to use for burial or cremation of any human corpse a place other than one which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion; or

(ii) not to use for burial or cremation of any human corpse any place which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion; or

(iii) not to use for worship any place which is lawfully used for such purpose by persons professing that religion,

he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing that religion or different religions.

(5) Where any person who is not a religious official appointed, or a religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law purports to exercise any power, or to discharge any duty, or to perform any function, of a religious character, being a power, duty or function which can be lawfully exercised, discharged or performed only by a religious official appointed, or a religious authority established, constituted or appointed, by or under any written law, he shall be presumed to have contravened the provisions of subsection (1) by having acted in a manner likely to cause disharmony, disunity or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will, or likely to prejudice the maintenance of harmony or unity, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions.

(6) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to-

(a) anything done by any religious authority established, constituted or appointed by or under any written law and conferred by written law with power to give or issue any ruling or decision on any matter pertaining to the religion in respect of which the authority is established, constituted or appointed; or

(b) anything done by any person which is in pursuance of, or which accords with, any ruling or decision given or issued by such religious authority, whether or not such ruling or decision is in writing, and if in writing, whether or not it is published in the Gazette.

(7) It shall not be a defence to any charge under this section to assert that what the offender is charged with doing was done in any honest belief in, or in any honest interpretations of, any precept, tenet or teaching of any religion.

(8) If in any proceedings under this section any question arises with, regard to the interpretation of any aspect of, or any matter in relation to, any religion, the Courts shall accept the interpretation given by any religious referred to in subsection (6), being a religious authority in respect of that religion.

(Source:"CHARLES HECTOR blogspot"


24 February, 2010

Most Malaysians accept the caning of women ?

Most Malaysians accept the caning of women under the country’s Shariah courts, Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said on Wednesday.

“Jakim held a seminar to discuss caning long before it became an issue among Malaysians. The outcome was encouraging because the participants understood the whys and hows of it,” he said .

“We are aware that some parties are still unable to accept the punishment but given time and more explanation, I believe they will come around.”

He added that Jakim was “willing to explain the issue all over again, to whoever needs an explanation.”

Malaysia’s Women’s Minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, said on Tuesday that she hoped to organize a conference with representatives of other Muslim-majority countries to discuss the punishment.

She respected the caning sentence recently doled out to three women, but she believed physical punishment was not the only option.

“Wrong is wrong, but there are many ways to handle the issue, including rehabilitation and counseling,” Shahrizat said.

The women were caned for having sex outside marriage. They have since publicly defended the punishment, saying it gave them a chance to repent.

Authorities used a light rattan stick to hit the women on their backs while they were fully clothed. The caning of men in Malaysia, by contrast, is done on bare skin and can cause bleeding and scarring.

If ever there was a case of hypocrisy and double standards about the caning of women, this must be one of them. It is despicable and crass and just shows how we are tumbling headlong into an abyss of sanctimoniousness and moral decay.

Rights Groups Outraged Over Caning of Women in Malaysia

The caning of three Muslim women for having illicit sex, the first time the penalty has been carried out under Islamic law in Malaysia, drew outrage from rights activists on Thursday.

The case has fuelled concerns over rising “Islamisation” in Malaysia, where religious courts have been clamping down on rarely enforced religious laws that ban alcohol and sex out of wedlock for Muslim Malays.

The women were caned earlier this month at a women’s prison outside Kuala Lumpur, the home minister revealed Wednesday, saying they received the punishment while they were fully clothed and were not injured.

Amnesty International said there has been an “epidemic” of caning in the Muslim-majority country, where many more people have been whipped under civil laws.

“The Malaysian government needs to abolish this cruel and degrading punishment, no matter what the offense,” said Asia-Pacific director Donna Guest.

Legal commentators said that the Islamic courts — which operate in parallel to the civil system in Malaysia — were becoming increasingly confident, threatening Malaysia’s status as a secular nation.

“It looks to me as if it is the Sharia courts are trying to assert themselves by imposing this rather mediaeval punishment,” said Azmi Sharom, from the law faculty of Universiti Malaya.

“There’s been more and more debate over the past five years over whether this country is becoming more Islamised, so they could be showing their strength just to make a point.”

Activist group Sisters in Islam said it was “shocked” at news of the caning, and that it went ahead even as a caning sentence handed down last year to a Muslim woman caught drinking beer was being reviewed and hotly debated.

“To do this surreptitiously implies that the government wanted to hide this degrading and unjust treatment from public scrutiny,” said Hamidah Marican, executive director of Sisters in Islam.

“This case constitutes further discrimination against Muslim women in Malaysia,” she said, adding that it violated a constitutional ban on whipping women.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday that two of the women were caned six times while the third woman was given four strokes.

Islamic scholars have said the punishment would have been carried out with a cane that is smaller and lighter then the heavy length of rattan used in the civil justice system for rapists and murderers.

“I hope this will not be misunderstood so much that it defiles the purity of Islam,” Hishammuddin said.

“The punishment is to teach and give a chance to those who have fallen off the path to return and build a better life in future.”

Islamic authorities triggered uproar last year when they sentenced mother-of-two Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno to six strokes of the cane after she was caught drinking beer in a hotel nightclub.

Her case, which was to have been the first time a woman was caned under Islamic law in Malaysia, is still under review after she was given a last-minute reprieve amid intense media coverage.

Malaysia’s Bar Council said it was “shocking” that the caning of the three women went ahead while the Kartika case was unresolved.

“Whipping as a punishment for any offence is anachronistic and inconsistent with a compassionate society,” it said in a statement.

Observers say that the dynamic of “political Islam” has escalated since 2008 elections that saw the long-serving Barisan Nasional coalition lose unprecedented ground to the three-member opposition alliance.

After minority voters deserted the coalition, its lead party the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is now vying with the conservative Islamic party PAS, an opposition member, for the votes of Malays.

- Source

The news about a 15-year-old Malaysian teenager, by the name of Salsabila Yunan aka Bella has just broken, in the mainstream papers. Salsabila who calls herself an actress, ran off with an Indonesian man from Lombok. They are now married and she is 6 months pregnant. She has not even finished her PMR examinations. Her father was quoted as saying that Umno Youth had traced her and brought her home. Although he is grateful to them, she is unrepentant about her marriage. She says she would like her husband to come to Malaysia and look after her and the baby, and has asked for help from Umno and the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta, to furnish her husband with the appropriate travel papers.

This girl is underaged !!

Read: "No whipping for girl rescued by Umno Youth? — Mariam Mokhtar"


23 February, 2010

The smart autocrats of Singapore & Malaysia, the two 'MM'

Dumb autocrats use the army, goon squads and guns to repress the opposition. Smart autocrats use the law courts to do it. Indonesia's Soeharto was a dumb autocrat. Singapore's MM Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia's MM Mahathir Mohamad were smart autocrats.

The Lee-Mahathir model keeps the outward facade of a functioning democracy, with elections, a parliament and supposedly independent courts. Behind it, the systems are gutted to guarantee the ruling party remains ruling.

In Singapore, where Lee's People's Action Party has been in power for 50 continuous years, the government simply sues opposition politicians for defamation. A tame court hands down ruinous damages, opponents end up in bankruptcy, jail or exile.

When a meddlesome foreigner, the deputy director for Asia of Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, said last month that ''Singapore is the textbook example of a politically repressive state'', the government just shrugged and said: ''Singapore is a democratic state with a clean and transparent government.''

The army is in its barracks and there are no goon squads smashing through people's front doors at 3am. It's all legit, see? The foreign investors and governments play along. So what if the ruling party holds 98 per cent of the seats in parliament? It has an elected parliament, and surely that's good enough.

In Malaysia, Mahathir was never as subtle or as smooth as Lee. But Mahathir was still a smart autocrat who kept control through his puppetry of the judicial system. The pivotal moment was in 1988 when Mahathir complained that the courts were ''too independent''.

He purged the chief judicial officer, the Lord President, and suspended the five chief justices of the Supreme Court. The court system has never given any further trouble to the Barisan Nasional, or National Front, since. Together with its predecessor, the BN has ruled Malaysia continuously for 54 years.

It's infinitely smarter to use legal instruments to purge judges than to use guns against protesters. A judicial massacre makes lousy TV. You won't see one live on CNN. So it remains hidden from international view. Yet it can be every bit as repressive. So when Mahathir faced a power struggle in 1998 with his deputy prime minister and heir apparent, the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim, he naturally turned to the courts to purge his younger rival.....more here

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22 February, 2010

Year of Tiger (Woods)

Golfing star Tiger Woods apologized to his family, friends, colleagues and fans for "irresponsible" behaviour in his first public statement since a car crash in November unleashed a storm of revelations about extramarital affairs. Woods could not say when he would return to golf, admitting he had "cheated" on his wife, Elin, a number of times and saying he would continue to undergo treatment at a sex rehabilitation clinic to help repair his marriage.

"I am deeply sorry for the irresponsible and selfish behaviour I engaged in," Woods said, at times tearful as he spoke before a group of friends and family at at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. He made about a 10-minute statement but took no questions from the few media allowed in the room.

Woods recounted how he had been lured by fame and celebrity into abandoning his beliefs, and admitted his reputation as a role model for golf fans and children had been severely tarnished.

"Today I want to ask for your help," he said to fans. "I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again."

Meanwhile, Dalai Lama, who admits he is relatively unfamiliar with sports did take notice when Tiger said:

"Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that's important ... self-discipline with awareness of consequences," he said. "Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse."

The Dalai Lama said that he had - somehow - never heard of Tiger Woods.

When Woods' sex scandal was explained to him, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader emphasized the importance of self-discipline.

All religions have the same idea "when it comes to adultery," he said.

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20 February, 2010

No, I'm no hidden hand, I'm boleh hand

Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister, has dismissed a notion that she is a hidden hand behind Najib Abdul Razak's decision-making.

"I have not heard about it, but it is not something that I am sensitive of as it is not true. Maybe I am a bit vocal or gregarious... I like to have friends unlike Datuk Najib, who is a bit reserve.

"But it does not mean that since Datuk Najib is a reserve person, I am making the decisions... I am the type, who will voice out my dissatisfaction, but once said, it is done. I do not harbour feelings," she said.

Rosmah said although Najib was a man of few words, he should not be underestimated.

"I always tell others not to underestimate Datuk Najib, he is not easily angered but do not provoke him. If he is angry, there is no forgiveness for you.

"Datuk does not say much but he registered what is happening around him. If I made a mistake, he will reprimand me. If he stomp his feet, it will shudder me.

"What is important is we are close to each other where we can talk things over, we laugh and share jokes as it is important that a leader should not be so stressed out.

During Singapore MM Mr Lee Kuan Yew's triumphant visit to Malaysia, he was asked to see Rosmah, and PM Najib made arrangements for them to meet.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor have been warm and forthcoming beyond Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s expectations. MM Lee said he called on Rosmah because he had been told that she and her husband worked as a team and it was necessary for him to understand both members of the team.

Lee said he found the Malaysian prime minister and his wife “warm, positive and, more than I had expected to find them, forthcoming”.

However, like Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said, Najib and Rosmah work as a team. If so, Rosmah's actions, thoughts and words should carry as much weight as her husband's.

Rosmah Mansor was born in 1951 to two teachers.She has a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from University Malaya and an MSc in Sociology and Agriculture from Louisiana State University, USA.

She later worked as an executive with Bank Pertanian and subsequently as a business development manager with Island and Peninsular Bhd, a property developer company.

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19 February, 2010

Faith and Punishment :Caning of Muslim women in Malaysia

When you think of caning women for adultery, the first places that come to mind are probably Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. But add to that list Malaysia, a country usually known for its diversity and religious tolerance.

The first Malaysian women to be caned under Islamic law for having illicit sex have reportedly said they regretted their actions and welcomed the punishment.

The three women, whose identities were not revealed, gave the first account of the caning which took place earlier this month, drawing condemnation from human rights activists and applause from some Muslim groups.

Human rights campaigners, who were stunned by the caning of the three women which had not been foreshadowed by authorities, were sceptical over the comments published in several Malaysian newspapers.

"These three women are just normal people who have been surrounded by all kinds of legal mumbo jumbo and pressured into agreeing to be caned," one activist told AFP.

The case is worrying because it speaks to the trend of Malaysia's increasingly assertive Shariah courts, under which these cases were tried. Federal law forbids the caning of women and the caning of men over 50. But several states have local laws on the books that permit caning punishments for women, and in recent months Shariah courts have not been afraid to use them. In August, a Shariah court handed a caning sentence to a Muslim woman for drinking beer, though her sentence has yet to be carried out because of public outcry over the punishment.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who announced the canings on Wednesday, said that those punished had been "advised on ways to repent and to get closer to Allah." The three women "hope other women would refrain from doing things which are against Islam," he said.

“The caning punishment meted out by the Syariah court is legal and how the international community looks at it, is up to them, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

“While the caning sentence meted out by civil courts can cause hurt and sometimes even death, caning according to Syariah law is light. It is more to educate and remind Muslims to honour and abide by their religion,” he said.

Amnesty International has called on the Malaysian government to end caning after three women were subjected to the punishment following their conviction for extramarital sex.

"The caning of these three women is just the tip of the iceberg," said Donna Guest, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific programme. "Since 2002 the Malaysian authorities have caned over 35,000 people, mostly non-Malaysians for immigration offenses."

Most caning sentences in Malaysia are handed down by civil courts rather than Shariah courts. Amendments to the Immigration Act in 2002 stipulate caning for immigration offences, thus increasing the use of this punishment. In June 2009 the Malaysian government announced that they had sentenced 47,914 migrants to be caned since the amendments took effect.

"These thousands of cases point to an epidemic of caning in Malaysia," said Donna Guest. "The Malaysian government needs to abolish this cruel and degrading punishment, no matter what the offence."

The practice of caning can inflict severe physical suffering and leave damage and scarring for months. Such corporal punishment constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which is prohibited absolutely under international customary human rights law.

In July 2009, the Shariah High Court in Pahang sentenced a Muslim woman, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, to six strokes of the cane and a fine after she pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol in a hotel bar in December 2007. To date her sentence has not yet been carried out.


18 February, 2010

The Sodomy Trial of Anwar Hurts Malaysia's Reputation

From the voice of America:

In Malaysia the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is to resume after the Court of Appeals rejected a motion to strike down the charges. No matter the outcome, the salacious nature of the charge of sodomy in a Muslim majority country could ruin Anwar's political future. And as VOA reports, the political overtones involved in the case may also damage Malaysia reputation as a progressive, Islamic democracy.

Anwar Ibrahim has been through this before. In 1998 while serving as the vice prime minister of Malaysia he was charged with sodomy, barred from parliament for a decade, and sentenced to nine years in jail. But in 2004 the conviction was overturned. Anwar says this second charge of sodomy is another attempt by the government to eliminate him as a political threat.

"I think the whole intention of this (inaudible) prosecution today is to smear my name, my good name and image with scurrilous attack on my character, but I believe, as in the case of 1998, when they talk with (inaudible) all the matters, everything will be expunged at the right time. So we have to remain patient and we will give a good fight," Ibrahim said.

Anwar is nothing if not resilient. In 2008 he came back to lead a three-party coalition called the People's Alliance that made significant gains in the general election. The vote ended the ruling party's two-thirds majority in parliament.

In that election many Muslim Malays, who traditionally support the leading party, the United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, broke ranks and voted for the opposition.

Soon after Anwar was charged again with sodomy.

Charles Santiago is a member of parliament with the Democratic Action Party, which is in the People's Alliance. He says the charge was calculated to destroy Anwar's reputation within the Muslim community. "Anwar is seen as an Islamist leader, a Muslim leader, not only in this country but also elsewhere in the Muslim world," he explained. "And I think there is a perception that if his name is tarnished, especially involving sodomy or homosexual activities, then once and for all you destroy him both as a political leader and more importantly as an Islamic leader."

The current charge against Anwar includes allegations that in 2008 he had sexual relations with Mohd Saiful Bukhari bin Azlan, his 23-year-old male volunteer aide. Although initially filed as a non-consensual offense, prosecutors later changed the charge to consensual sodomy, though Saiful has not been charged. A conviction would force Anwar to vacate his seat in parliament and bar him from contesting the next general election, expected before 2012.

While sodomy is rarely prosecuted in Malaysia, UMNO official Syed Ali AlHabshee says once an accusation was made about a high-profile politician the government had to act.

"I mean whether he is right or not, I believe the government is giving him the fair trial. And he has the best lawyers. He's got everything with him. But he is a very smart politician. He tells the world that our judiciary is not fair," AlHabshee said.

This time Anwar's supporters wonder, even if he wins in court, can his political reputation survive?

Malaysia's international reputation as a progressive Islamic democracy is also being called into question. Some international organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, have urged Malaysia to drop the charges and decriminalize consensual homosexual conduct.

Zakaria Ahmad, a professor of politics with Help University in Kuala Lumpur, says the lurid headlines involving sex and political misconduct is making Malaysians more cynical about all politicians.

"Most people here have already come to the conclusion that politicians are all the same," Ahmad said. "You know what I mean? They just want to get power and they are all corrupt."

The trial was delayed repeatedly before it opened on February 2nd. It will resume now that Malaysia's Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a lower court decision to proceed. The Court of Appeal ruled rejected Anwar's motion to dismiss the case, saying he had "not shown that the charge against him was oppressive and an abuse of court."

Meanwhile, according to Malaysiakini, the trial judge to Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy case has today decided not to stand down from hearing the case despite allegations of bias and lying over his inaction against Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia's coverage of the trial.

He said there was no evidence that he had lied in court as accused by the defence team.

The trial was then postponed to March 25 for mention to allow the defence to file an appeal to the apellate court challenging Zabidin's decision not to recuse himself.

Court of Appeal had yesterday rejected Anwar's appeal to quash the sodomy charge.

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17 February, 2010

1Malaysia dragged into immoral politics

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is facing one of the most daunting periods of his political career.

If the court finds that the A-G Chambers is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt and convict Anwar, it will most probably spell the end of a tumultuous career of an enigmatic leader.

For the uninitiated, this "Sodomy Redux" of Anwar's alleged indescretion bears a similar plot, from the main players right up to the actual charge itself.

The story goes of how Anwar, a 62-year-old father of six with a history of back problems who forced himself on his former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a young and fit mid-20s university dropout.

The storyline is bizzare to say the least that would even make Hugh Hefner, founder of the biggest pornographic empire Playboy, smirk in disgust.

While we are being fed with juicy details of the supposedly homosexual tendencies of Anwar, it is nauseating to see how the media is bent on tarnishing and assasinate the character of the person representing the biggest threat to UMNO and almost single handedly dented UMNO's 50-odd years of hegemony.

UMNO pulled out from the book every single dirty trick that it knows to add to the sodomy charge in their desperate attempt to hold on to power by abusing the media, institutions and enforcement agencies in their attempt to hoodwink the people.

With both Anwar and the government jostling to win over the public--one claiming political motives on the charges and the other trying to display Anwar as a sodomist--the mainstream media is siding with the government and the new media tilting towards Anwar.

The irresponsibility of the mainstream media is marked by the glorifying of Saiful that only serve to galvanise public opinion against the claim that he was victimised by Anwar.

Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia, regarded as the mouthpiece of UMNO, led the attack against Anwar and sensationally attempting to paint the picture of a monster with unnatural tendencies.

Just like in the previous sodomy charge on Anwar, the current scenario has the court of public opinion siding with Anwar and a strong perception of mala fide on the side of the government.

The prosecution's attempt to "shock and awe" the defence and the people of Malaysia by putting its star witness as the first on the stand revealed its intention to close its case as soon as possible.

If the judge finds that there is a prima facie case for Anwar to answer, we can expect the defence to launch counter-attacks raising questions from political motives, credibility of witness, authenticity of semen or DNA stain found and key players involved prior to and after the alleged act, etc.

The balance of the case tilts on the question of whether penetration is a key element in the act of sodomy and the court's decision on Feb 17 will determine the course of the trial.

On the other hand, the prosecution is bent on adducing forensic evidence that there is semen found in the anus of Saiful and that penetration is not key to an act of sodomy; which makes the case sound even more ridiculous than it already is.

If the court finds in the favour of the prosecution, we can expect a long and protracted case that will fill the front pages of the local media for quite some time.

After the massive public relations failure of the first sodomy charge on Anwar in 1998, the powers-that-be now prefer a quick resolution rather than a drawn-out case that will not kill of Anwar politically, but may turn the tide against them in the run-up to the next general election.

Malaysians cannot help but feel that the charge is preferred against Anwar due to political motives more than anything else due to the endless questions and doubts raised about the case including the conduct of the preceeding investigations.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's UMNO is the direct beneficiary by the persecution of Anwar, and Anwar himself has accused Najib of playing a role in this case.

With Anwar being kept busy in the corridors of Kuala Lumpur's Jalan Duta Court Complex, UMNO on the other hand is roaming, plotting and scheming to disrupt and destroy Pakatan Rakyat.

UMNO is fast establishing itself as a hardcore right-wing radical Malay party with its endless animosity against the Selangor and Penang state governments, accusing them of being un-Islamic and anti-Malay.

Beginning from the "Allah" row, where UMNO took a very conservative position, it followed that up with attacking Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, the Selangor Mentri Besar, over the state's decision to confiscate the land belonging to Yayasan Basmi Kemiskinan (YBK), painted as a pro-Malay institution for not paying up quit rent amounting to more than RM5 million.

Protests and demonstrations have also been loud in Penang with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at the centre of the attack.

Utusan Malaysia, displaying pure unethical journalism, lied through its teeth when it reported that the Penang state government cancelled the state-level Maulidur Rasul (Prophet Muhammad's Birthday) procession which was immediately denied by Lim.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi waded into the controversy by criticising the Penang government on an unsubstantiated report that had no basis whatsoever.

Not letting up on Anwar & Co, UMNO followed that through with concerted and subversive moves to accentuate discord among problematic leaders within Pakatan especially within Anwar's own party PKR.

With Anwar distracted in the confines of the court, UMNO instigated those mercenaries to quit PKR exemplified by the departure of Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim, the former PKR Penang chief, which is intended to further put Anwar on the backfoot.

UMNO conjured the move to tarnish Anwar, backing that up with mindless polarising moves using the race and religion card to distance the Malays from Anwar.

While UMNO is deep in its slumber in the caves of orthodoxy, Malaysians are getting more urbanised, embracing universal values of justice, openness and cosmopolitanism.

Malaysians who are used to be subservient to the government are now taking a pivotal role in the decision-making process of the nation.

While Anwar is being dragged by pro-UMNO conspirators into the lairs of Sungai Buloh Prison, questions over the independence of the judiciary, impartiality of A-G Chambers and the abuse of institutions for the benefit of the ruling cliques hover in the minds of many Malaysians.

The incarceration of Anwar represents everything that is rotten in the country--sense of justice, equality and humanity--which is lost among those in Putrajaya making the decisions that affect the daily lives of ordinary Malaysians.

This is not the trial of Anwar and Anwar alone, every single Malaysian is on trial whether we demand for justice, whether we want equality and if we are humane enough and care for a fellow Malaysian as though he or she is a family member.

While UMNO attempts to pull Malaysians apart using old-school dogmatic politics, we are left with no choice but to reject divisiveness and demand for reform.

The demand for justice for the slained Teoh Beng Hock and S. Kugan must be accorded to Anwar as he is a respectable human being and, more importantly, he is a fellow Malaysian.

UMNO does not realise that it is digging its own grave and Malaysians will read it its final rites in the next general election.

Malaysians will resist UMNO's attempt to drag them into the doldrums of mediocrity and immorality.

Source- MySinchew

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16 February, 2010

Google Buzz takes on Facebook and Twitter

Google launched a set of social networking tools for Gmail users, hoping to coax them to share photos, links and status updates without the need to visit sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Called Google Buzz, the new features were rolled out to a small number of Gmail account holders and to the majority of users within the week.

It allows users to share photos, videos, web links, conversations with "friends" - defined as pre-existing Gmail contacts. Google said it may open Buzz up to outside users in the future.

The shared information goes into a special Buzz section of Gmail and also appears on Google's profile pages.

Google also launched special mobile phone apps for Buzz for Apple's iPhone and for smartphones powered by its own Android operating system.

Analysts said the move by Google was designed primarily to head off Facebook's advantage in the huge amounts of user data that it has amassed and which is highly attractive to advertisers.

Gmail has 167 million users, compared to Facebook's 400 million members.

"Our belief is that organizing the social information on the web - finding relevance in the noise - has become a large-scale challenge, one that Google's experience in organizing information can help solve," said Buzz project manager Todd Jackson.

"There's always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most."


13 February, 2010

Gong Xi Fa Cai: Welcome the year of the Tiger .

2010 is the Year of the Tiger. The Tiger is seen as vivid, lucky, engaging, and lively, meaning that 2010 should be an exciting year. Bravery and courage are other attributes of the Tiger, leading it to represent protection against evil in the coming year.

The colour red will be particularly popular with the 2010 celebration of Chinese New Year. Wearing red is said to ward of misfortune, bad luck, and general evils.

To all my friends, a wonder虎 and beauti虎 year ahead !


Welcome The year of the Metal Tiger

10 February, 2010

Prosecution of Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim matters to the West ?

IN THE PAST two years, Malaysia, which has been a one-party state since it gained independence in 1957, has made remarkable strides toward becoming a democracy. That it has done so is mostly due to the efforts and political talent of one man -- Anwar Ibrahim. So the fact that Mr. Anwar went on criminal trial last week should deeply concern the democratic world. The outcome could determine whether one of Asia's most economically successful countries preserves its stability and embraces long-overdue reforms.

A former deputy prime minister in the ruling party, Mr. Anwar was deposed and jailed in 1998 by former Malaysian strongman Mahathir Mohamad. A manifestly unfair trial followed in which Mr. Anwar was convicted of homosexual sodomy, which shamefully remains a crime in Malaysia. Six years later, the conviction was overturned by a court, and Mr. Anwar resumed his political career -- this time as an open champion of democracy in Malaysia and other Muslim countries.

Mr. Anwar succeeded in forging a coalition of opposition parties, including his own multiracial People's Justice Party, an Islamic party, and a secular party. He has campaigned against the government's toxic policy of racial discrimination, which funnels economic favors to well-connected members of the ethnic Malay majority. In the past two years, his coalition has pulled off a string of stunning victories in state and parliamentary by-elections; it now controls four of 13 state governments. If led by Mr. Anwar, it would have a fair chance of winning the next national election in 2013.

That's one reason it's suspicious that, three months after the state election victories in 2008, Mr. Anwar was once again accused of sodomy. Another is that his young male accuser was seen with aides of Najib Razak, who is now prime minister; Mr. Anwar says he has evidence that the accuser met with the prime minister and his wife shortly before making his charge. A third is that the case has been transferred from criminal court to a higher court whose judges are closely linked to the ruling party.

If Mr. Anwar is convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and would be banned from politics for five years. He is 62. The ruling party no doubt hopes a conviction will cause the opposition coalition to crumble. But it could just as easily provoke a backlash against Mr. Najib or street demonstrations that could destabilize the country. That's why the Obama administration and other Western governments interested in stability in Asia should make clear that the imprisonment of Mr. Anwar would be a blatant human rights violation -- and not in Malaysia's interest.

- The Washington Post

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09 February, 2010

MB VS MB: The winner - "BN and the frogs".

Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim described the Federal Court’s ruling favouring the Barisan Nasional-led (BN) Perak government as an embarrassment.

“It’s warped legal reasoning. Like I said before these people for political expediency have abandoned legal principles,” Zaid told The Malaysian Insider.

In a 5-0 ruling, the Federal Court earlier today declared Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir as the legitimate Perak mentri besar, ending the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) attempt to regain control of the state which it lost about one year ago.

The five-man panel of judges comprised Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria and Justices Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, Datuk Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff, and Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong also ruled that a vote at the state assembly was not necessary to determine whether ousted Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin still enjoyed the support of the majority of the state lawmakers.

“The implication to our democracy is this. Whatever decision, not only the appointment must be approved by the monarch as the case in Terengganu, but also the dismissal of Mentri Besar as the case in Perak, must also be approved by the monarch,” said Zaid referring to the appointment of Datuk Ahmad Said as the Terengganu mentri besar in 2008 despite the opposition from the majority of the Barisan Nasional state lawmakers.

The Federal Court decision today will lead to a situation where there could be “absolute monarchy” in Malaysia, claimed former menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

He said there will be no need to hold elections, since the ruler can decide on who can lead the executive at state or federal level.

“This is the highest risk the country is facing now, (and) which we need to correct. The verdict I felt has set aside the principles of what (is) already in our federal constitution.”

Nizar also said he has not decided whether or not to file a review against the decision which declared BN's Zambry Abd Kadir the lawful menteri besar of Perak.
"We will scrutinise the written judgment and then decide," he said, calling for calm among supporters.

"This is the saddest day (for) Malaysia as this shows the judiciary is not independent. Our target now is to win back Perak.

The state political crisis started one year ago when four PR assemblymen declared their support for BN, giving it a three-seat majority in the 59-member assembly.

Nizar later advised the Perak Sultan to dissolve the state assembly to pave the way for state elections but the monarch asked for the PAS man’s resignation and subsequently installed a BN-led government.

Nizar then mounted a legal challenge to Zambry’s appointment and won at the High Court, which noted that there was a loophole in the Perak Constitution to allow for another to be sworn in as mentri besar (MB) when the incumbent had not resigned.

In his decision on May 9 last year, High Court judge Abdul Aziz Rahim ruled that the Sultan was not constitutionally empowered to sack the MB, and that Nizar had always been the lawful head of the state government.

But the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal later that month.


08 February, 2010

Malaysia:"The judicial institution of any country must be respected"

Malaysia has asked foreign governments to 'respect' its legal system and processes after Australian parliamentarians criticised the ongoing trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges.

The foreign office has reminded 'certain foreign governments, which have begun meddling and protesting against the ongoing sodomy trial' of Ibrahim, that the sanctity of the Malaysian judiciary has remained 'intact and free of external influences'.

'The judicial institution of any country must be respected.

'The case has just begun, so let the trial go on. They should not be creating their own trial by making damaging comments,' Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Senator A. Kohilan Pillay said Sunday.

He said that while Malaysia welcomed foreign representatives here to follow the trial, foreign governments must observe the country's laws.

Australia's Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael Danby recently accused the Malaysian legal system of being manipulated by supporters of Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition, to drive the opposition leader out of politics.

Khairy Jamaluddin chief of the Umno Youth, youth wing of the ruling party, told the New Straits Times that some foreign governments' interference in the country's affairs would not bode well for relations between Kuala Lumpur and them.

'For some of these countries, nothing less than Anwar's acquittal would be acceptable.

'That is why they cast aspersions on our legal system and prejudge the outcome of this case,' he said Sunday.

This is Ibrahim's second trial since 1998 when he was imprisoned, but eventually acquitted.

On day four of the trial Monday, his lawyer, ethnic Indian Karpal Singh, applied for High Court judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohammed Diah to recuse himself, Star Online reported.

Singh said the judge's previous ruling in relation to the closed proceedings of the trial's second day 'brings to surface an element of real danger of bias'.

The proceedings took a dramatic turn when the judge was challenged Monday morning when the court was scheduled to hear cross-examination of Ibrahim's accuser, Mohammed Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who has accused Ibrahim of sodomising him last year.

Ibrahim's lawyer contended that Mohamad Zabidin has not adjudicated upon the applications made by his counsel 'with an open mind'.

Media and members of the public were allowed to be present in the court after being debarred last week.

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07 February, 2010

Bolehwood movie: " Indecent Proposal " - now showing.


06 February, 2010

The two-letter word !

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP'

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP. To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP .. When the sun comes out we say it is clearingUP ...

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP , for now my time is UP , so... it is time to shut UP!


05 February, 2010

Blockbuster of the year 2010: "Malaysian Idol "?

Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan told a High Court here today that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a charismatic leader and was his idol during his growing up years.

Mohd Saiful said he first met Anwar after the election through a friend.

He said the friend, identified as Rahimi Osman, had invited him to his office in Section 16, Petaling Jaya, and had asked if he (Mohd Saiful) was working anywhere.

"When I said I was not working, he asked whether I wanted to become an assistant in Anwar's office," said Saiful, adding that the PKR advisor was short of staff at that moment.

This led to an introduction to Anwar and his subsequent acceptance as a personal assistant to the former deputy prime minister.

“I was surprised. I had not decided on anything yet when Anwar said, ‘I appreciate your helping us’. It was a signal that he accepted me there and then.”

Asked whether Anwar asked him about his qualification, Saiful said yes.

Asked about his resignation from his job, Saiful said he had first informed Anwar of his resignation via email at about 9am on June 27, 2008 (a day after the alleged sodomy).

"After a few hours, Anwar called me (on the phone) and scolded me and told me to meet him at the office at Section 16 that afternoon," said Saiful.

"At that time, I was scared but I went to see him. He asked me why I wanted to resign and I stated the reasons in the email; firstly, lack of discpline as I was always late to office and he always scolded me," said Saiful.

"Secondly, I was not qualified and was afraid to be questioned as I was given more privileges than the other staff," said Saiful.

For example, he said, he was given a room in the (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) new office at Tropicana Merchant Square.

However, he said the real reason was that, he was not wiiling to be treated in that way again (referring to the alleged sodomy).

At this point Karpal objected to the word "again" and asked for the word to be excluded.

However, judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah said he understood it as Saiful not wanting it to happen again and said there was no question of prejudice.

Continuing his testimony, Saiful said, Anwar persuaded him not to resign and told him to be more discplined. "He counter-offered (saying) he would sponsor my education," said Saiful.

He said it did not matter where he studied, that he could do full-time study and at the same time get full salary and allowances.

"At that time, I was scared to object," said Saiful, adding that, he agreed.

He said after a few hours, Anwar sent him an email. He said, as far as he remembered, Anwar thanked him for being willing to continue his service.

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03 February, 2010

Anwar’s indecent proposal

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s accuser in his Sodomy II trial shocked the High Court today when he said the opposition leader had used profane language when asking to have sexual intercourse with him.

Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who took the stand at the High Court as the prosecution’s first witness, testified that when he first met Anwar at a condominium in Damansara Heights in 2008, the PKR de facto leader had asked him: “Can I f*** you today?”

The politician's former aide, 26, testified that on the day in question, he was instructed to go to the Desa Damansara condominium at 2.30pm to discuss working arrangements with Anwar.

Earlier, the prosecution team said they will prove that, on the day concerned, Mohd Saiful had gone to Unit 11-5-1 on the fifth floor of the condominium.

At that time, Mohd Saiful saw Anwar sitting alone and eating. He was allegedly sodomised by Anwar at the unit. The complainant then left the place at about 4pm.

In their opening statement, the prosecution said it will prove semen stains taken from the complainant's anus belonged to Anwar.

The prosecution also said they will prove the case with direct evidence from Mohd Saiful and forensic testimony from doctors and chemists.

Apart from these, circumstantial and documentary evidence will also be tendered, the prosecution says.

"Tissue samples were taken from the inside and outside of Mohd Saiful's anus by the examining doctors for DNA tests," Mohd Yusof said.

When asked by the prosecution about his immediate reaction to the request by Anwar, Saiful replied that at that point of time he felt “angry and scared.”

“I was angry and scared.. I refused to do so, to which Anwar became angry,” said Saiful.

The complainant also alleged that the former deputy prime minister had offered him money in exchange for the sexual act, to which he also “refused.”

“I repeated what I had said and told him that I cannot bear to do it.”

Anwar had then “ordered” him to proceed to the guest room where Saiful then stripped and donned a towel before the opposition leader hugged him.

Saiful described to the court how Anwar had closed the curtains of the bedroom, switched off the room lights and closed the door.

“It was dark, but I could still see some light coming from between the cracks of the curtains as well as the washroom light,” explained Saiful.

At this point Anwar had apparently told Saiful to “clean himself up” in the washroom. Saiful did as he was told.

Once in the toilet, Saiful had undressed himself and wore a towel. Upon coming out of the washroom, the complainant had testified that Anwar was sitting on the foot of the bed and was also clad in a white towel.

“He (Anwar) then instructed me to come to him. He then hugged me while standing.”

The court adjourned to 9.30am Thursday. Proceedings will be in-camera due to sensitivity of the testimony.

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02 February, 2010

Anwar on trial for a second time on charges of sodomy.

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's opposition leader, is set to go on trial for a second time on charges of sodomy.

The high-profile trial today at the Kuala Lumpur high court, has placed the judiciary under scrutiny again after Anwar's conviction for the same offence almost a decade ago was eventually overturned.

If found guilty of sodomising his former aide, Anwar could be jailed for 20 years, in effect ending his political career.

The 62-year-old Anwar has repeatedly denounced the trial, saying it is aimed at ending his challenge to the government.

During more than three decades in Malaysian politics, Anwar Ibrahim has spent a good share of his time behind bars — from his detention during his days as a rabble-rousing student leader in the 1970s to his imprisonment a decade ago for sodomy and abuse of power.

Although the accuser is new this time, but the charge, once again, is sodomy. A conviction this time could end the career of Anwar, who is 62, and reshape Malaysian politics.

For Malaysia’s nearly 26 million people, the trial is the latest chapter in the bitter struggle for power between the governing coalition, which has held power since independence from Britain more than five decades ago, and the diverse but ascendant opposition parties.

The new trial is likely to divert attention from the country’s real and worrisome problems of communal tensions and economic weaknesses. Churches and mosques have been attacked in recent weeks over the issue of whether non-Muslims should be allowed to use the word “Allah” for God.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Anwar blamed "the machinations of the dirty, corrupt few" and accused Najib Abdul Razak, the prime minister, and the premier's wife Rosmah Mansor, of being responsible for the trial.

"They were personally involved in this conspiracy and frame-up. We have evidence that Saiful Bukhari was in the house with Rosmah and met Najib a few days before he lodged the police report," Anwar said.

He added that his defence team planned to call the prime minister and his wife as witnesses.

Najib, who was deputy prime minister at the time, has acknowledged Saiful visited him but says it was in connection with a university scholarship.

The government has denied any interference and has promised that Anwar will receive a fair trial.

KL High Court has quashed an application for a stay sought by Anwar this afternoon, saying that there were no special circumstances to grant the stay and ordered for the trial to proceed.

The defence team intended to discuss a possible review of Anwar's failed bid at the Federal Court last Friday to seek an order which will allow him access to certain documents deemed crucial to his defence.

Could Sodomy Charges Be the End of Malaysia's Opposition?

Anwar has dominated the politics of Malaysia for over four decades — first as a student leader in the 1970s and then as a rising minister in the government of Mahathir Mohamad. Eventually, as a powerful and charismatic deputy prime minister, Anwar was poised to unseat Mahathir and take the reigns of government, when he was cut down in the fallout over how to tackle the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. As a prisoner, Anwar continued to influence national politics, turning his plight into a global cause, forming a multi-racial political party, and putting together an opposition coalition — all from behind the bars.

And though he is no stranger to scandal, this trial, many say, may well be terminal for Anwar's ambition to become prime minister, derailing his sterling comeback and damaging the chances of the multi-ethnic, broadly secular Pakatan Rakyat coalition he leads. "In short this is a make-or-break event for Anwar," political scientist Sivamurugan Pandyan told TIME. "Everything is at stake ... his ambitions to become prime minister, his political career, the future of his Pakatan Rakyat. It's over for Anwar if he is found guilty and jailed even a few years."

Since Saiful publicly accused his former boss of sexual misconduct, the growing momentum that Anwar had enjoyed in the aftermath of the 2008 general election victories, in which his coalition won five states and took 82-seats in the 222-seat parliament, has been gradually dissipating. The Pakatan Rakyat coalition formed in that cycle has been hit by defections, internal squabbles and major differences over how to treat Islam, Malay special privileges and more recently the Allah issue.

The differences are shattering unity in the coalition. On his part, Prime Minister Najib, who still enjoys majority Malay support, is on a major charm offensive to steal away the minority Chinese and Indian voters — who together are 35% of the electorate of 13.7 million voters — that had supported Anwar in 2008. "Najib is winning hearts and minds of the people with his 'OneMalaysia' campaign," said Pandyan, referring to Najib's 'We are OneMalaysia' campaign, a platform based on mending the nation's fractured race relations.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1958251,00.html#ixzz0eNOgV48K

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01 February, 2010

Another Indian died under police custody !

A sawmill worker was found dead in the Jempol police lock-up in Negeri Sembilan, prompting politicians from both sides of the divide to again cry foul over frequent deaths of police detainees.

P Babu, 28, was found dead in the Jempol police lock-up at about 4am. His body was brought to the Seri Jempol hospital two hours later. Family members are waiting for an autopsy report.

Babu, an orphan who was raised by his uncle, has been under remand since Jan 24 after he surrendered himself to the police over a robbery case.

Negeri Sembilan executive council member VS Mogan said initial police reports suggests Babu hanged himself to death and expressed the state government's concern.

Mogan, who visited family members at the hospital earlier, said police are still in the dark over how this could have happened.

"I believe there will be a public outcry following the mysterious circumstances of Babu's death and this is certainly not good for the police.

"Senior police officers in the state should also explain how this could happen," he said.

The mysterious circumstances of Babu's death has also prompted MIC Jempol Youth chief M Palani to lodge a police report.

"It is rather unfortunate that another death has happened in the lock-up and I think the public wants answers," he said.

'Why always Indians?'

On the opposition front, PKR Negeri Sembilan deputy chief M Ravi has condemned the police over the incident and questioned why most victims of custodial deaths were of Indian descent.

"I hope the police Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan would investigate how custodial deaths happen and why it is more prevalent among the Indian suspects. He has to explain,” he said.

Should the family members be dissatisfied with the autopsy report, Ravi said he would assist them in seeking an independent autopsy to determine the cause of death.

"We are closely monitoring the situation. I am puzzled with Babu's death, as he had surrendered himself to the police, and yet this happens," he said, adding PKR may hold a demonstration over the matter.

He added family members had indicated that Babu showed no signs of depression prior to his surrender.

In January 2008, a police constable was charged with causing hurt to extract a confession from A Kugan, 22, who died under police custody in Subang Jaya.

In July, P Gunasegaran, 31, was found dead in the Sentul police station. An inquest is currently underway.

- Malaysiakini