Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sacrificial ritual begs respect | Free Malaysia Today

Sacrificial ritual begs respect

Jeswan Kaur | October 31, 2013 
The issue is not that the non-Muslims are against the practice of Hari Raya Korban; the problem is when discretion is thrown out of the window in the excitement over the korban.
We are a nation divided, mostly owing to the unscrupulous politicians and bigots who never tire of instigating Malaysians of different faiths.

With the country now split between ‘what’s right’ and ‘what’s wrong’, harmony and unity between the people have become endangered, making it impossible to bridge the racial gap that threatens to drown Malaysia’s cherished asset – her diversity.

While the nation suffers an ‘identity crisis’ due to the never-ending racial slurs and ‘misrepresentation’, chaos over respect for the respective faiths continues to reverberate.

Barely two weeks after the Court of Appeal dismissed the Catholic Church’s fight over the use of the word ‘Allah’ in its weekly publication, a new racial row has erupted.

This time, the issue revolves around the Hari Raya Korban/Hari Raya Aidiladha/ Hari Raya Haji slaughtering of cows, a practice which in this country is done in full view of the public, in any space available.

To say that the ‘open air’ ritual leaves many people aghast is an understatement. The situation is made worse when the television stations showcase the slaughtering process time and again.

This year’s Hari Raya Korban turned controversial when several non-Muslim parents took umbrage over the slaughtering of cows in schools in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

The parents complained that sacrificing cattle in schools was an insensitive move and inappropriate to schoolchildren.

This well-meaning concern however did not sit well with the Malay zealots of this country, who then raised the issue of the Hindus’s carrying the kavadi openly during the Thaipusam festival.

Unlike the killing of cows, the kavadis or decorated carriers are not brandished just about any place the devotee pleases. Still, attacking one another’s faiths and demeaning cultures simply to prove a point leaves the country in a very vulnerable position.

Scary revelations

When Deputy Education Minister (II) P Kamalanathan said the Education Ministry has never allowed the slaughter of cows in schools, why did the truth upset Malay supremacist group Perkasa?

Perkasa Youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris via his blog unleashed his anger and launched a personal attack on Kamalanathan.

“The parliamentarian P Kamalanathan’s statement that the korban ceremony cannot be carried out in schools is an act that insults the Malays and all Muslims,” Irwan wrote.

It is worrying to note the myopic approach groups like Perkasa continue to use in defending Islam and Malays.

How is stating a fact downgrading the country’s official religion or hurting the sensitivities of Muslims?
Going by the conundrum that as erupted as a result of the cow-slaughtering in school, it brings to light some very frightening revelations:

Does a dominant race have the exclusivity to do as they please, wherever and whenever, even if there is no authorisation to do so?

Why was the deputy education minister’s statement viewed as a threat by defenders of the Islam like Perkasa, to the point that it threatened to turn the tables against Kamalanathan in the 14th general election?

Was butchering cows in places of learning a ‘wholesome’ affair?

Did Perkasa forget about the sentiments of the young non-Malay pupils who would have been terrified watching the butchering of these animals?

Sacrificial ritual begs respect

Muslims take the Hari Raya Korban very seriously; and they should, going by the message that the day brings.

But what is both an irony and a paradox is that this very act of remembering the willingness of prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail as an act of submission to Allah’s command and the young boy’s acceptance to being sacrificed is now being turned into a ‘temasya’ or a state sanctioned ‘fun fair’ with tents pitched at the least decent of places to carry out the slaughterings.

The issue is not that the non-Muslims are against the practice of Hari Raya Korban; the problem is when discretion is thrown out of the window in the excitement over the korban (sacrifice).

To justify putting the cows down on school grounds as a way of educating Muslim students as was done by a BN MP was the worst insult to a sane person’s intelligence.

Shabudin Yahaya (BN-Tasek Gelugor) desperately tried to outdo Kamalanathan and portrayed the slaughter as a practical lesson for the Islamic Studies subject.

“The cow slaughtering is not a regular slaughter, it is part of the (school’s) subject and korban is in the Islamic studies subject taught in schools as part of Fiqh (jurisprudence).

“It is a practical lessons on how to properly conduct a slaughter and it should be done,” said Shabudin.
In this regard, does Jakim or the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia not have any ‘enlightening’ words to share?

Trying to take digs at the other races is not going to soothe the country’s fuming racial fires. Nor is scaring children through the butchering of cows in broad daylight going to make them empathise with what Hari Raya Korban is all about.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Denounce Perkasa, remember the German Nazis, Zaid tells PM

Denounce Perkasa, remember the German Nazis, Zaid tells PM
By Zurairi AR

October 30, 2013
Malay Mail Online 

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has called on Datuk Seri Najib Razak to openly denounce Perkasa, reminding the prime minister of Europe’s “mistake” in the German Nazi era which had taken a world war to correct.

In a blog posting here, former Cabinet minister picked apart the Malay rights group’s “lunatic” and “toxic ideas” and called them a “threat to security”, saying the government needs to stop allowing the Malay rights group to run amok.

“The issues this group champions are just plain ridiculous, and there is nothing in Perkasa’s struggle that merits serious consideration,” wrote the former de facto law minister.

“It has continued to cause consternation and fear among both Malaysians and also potential investors, and the Prime Minister should categorically denounce Perkasa and its allies for its disruptive politics and warmongering.”

Zaid also urged Putrajaya to not gift the group leeway in furthering their causes, even if it has a renowned patron, referring to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“The Government cannot maintain a cavalier attitude towards Perkasa, hoping that its toxic ideas will disappear and have no effect. Europe made the same mistake in the Nazi era and it took a World War to correct it,” he said.

Warning that religious bigotry will affect Malaysia’s international trade and tourism, Zaid has called on “progressive” Umno leaders to bring politics of moderation back, and stand up to Perkasa either in the Parliament or outside.

He gave the recent example of the Islamic animal slaughtering rituals—called “korban”—done in some school compounds in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which have caused complaints from Hindu parents but were defended by Malay groups such as Perkasa.

“The Government allowed an MIC Deputy Minister to face down these racists on his own despite the fact that we have two Malay-Muslim Ministers-in-charge of Education,” he said, referring to Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan.

“I still do not understand why our top leaders are so terrified of Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Datuk Zulkifli Noordin. I really don’t,” he added, naming Perkasa’s two most prominent leaders.

Following Kamalanathan’s objection, Perkasa had said that the MIC man should raise his objections on the slaughter of cattle in schools for Hari Raya Aidiladha with the Council of Rulers if he feels so strongly against it.

Perkasa president Ibrahim said the deputy minister was making too much of an issue out of a long-practised tradition of Muslims sacrificing cattle to share the meat within the community as part of their religious duty.

Meanwhile, outgoing Gerakan acting president Datuk Chong Ko Youn had claimed this week that Najib opposed Perkasa’s extreme politics despite not making his stance public, saying this had been conveyed to the party’s leadership behind closed doors.

Perkasa had then hit back, saying that whether or not Najib agrees with Perkasa’s views, he must admit it had helped keep his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in power, while accusing Chinese voters of betraying the prime minister.

The rise of Perkasa, championed by its patron Mahathir, has pushed Najib’s Umno to tack right in recent years, hurting BN’s hold on middle Malaysia.

This has come at a heavy cost for BN’s non-Malay parties in the peninsula, with both Gerakan and MCA performing disastrously in Election 2013.

Umno has, however, kept the support of its conservative base, while the ruling coalition stayed in power even though it lost the popular vote.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Speech when debating 2014 Budget

Speech by M. Kula Segaran, DAP MP for Ipoh Barat when debating on the Budget 2014 in Parliament on 29th October, 2014

1.      Call on the government to boycott CHOGM meeting.

Malaysian Government must  seriously consider boycotting the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka which is scheduled to take place between 15-17th November.

The present political leaders of Sri Lanka are said to be one way or the other involved in the ethnic cleansing of the Tamils. If the Prime Minister attends CHOGN meeting, it will mean the war crimes committed and the violation of human rights in Sri Lanka is irrelevant.

Over 100,000 innocent people were killed in the civil war and many due to their ethnicity. Many thousands have also disappeared.

DAP Central Executive Committee adopted a resolution to ask the PM to boycott the CHOGM event. Many NGOs and locals are also openly calling for boycotting of the event.

The Canadian Prime Minister has openly announced the boycotting of the event. This is what he said:-
“When Sri Lanka was selected to host the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Canada was hopeful that the Sri Lankan government would seize the opportunity to improve human rights conditions and take steps towards reconciliation and accountability. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.

“Canada is deeply concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka. The absence of accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards during and after the civil war is unacceptable.

“Canada noted with concern the impeachment of the Sri Lankan Chief Justice earlier this year, and we remain disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances, and allegations of extra judicial killings.

“Canada believes that if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant it must stand in defence of the basic principles of freedom, democracy, and respect for human dignity, which are the very foundation upon which the Commonwealth was built.

“It is clear that the Sri Lankan government has failed to uphold the Commonwealth’s core values, which are cherished by Canadians. As such, as the Prime Minister of Canada, I will not attend the 2013 CHOGM in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This is a decision that I do not take lightly.
“Canada will continue to monitor events in Sri Lanka and urge the government to implement fully the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, and undertake an independent investigation into alleged violations of the human rights of thousands of civilians at the end of the conflict.
“Canada will continue to work with our partners and through the United Nations to draw attention to the situation in Sri Lanka. I have also asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to review Canada’s financial contributions to Commonwealth programs and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

“The Honourable Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, will represent Canada at the meeting in Colombo.”

The Malaysian Government is a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Malaysia did not oppose the resolutions brought by the US:-
1) on how the Sri Lanka Government will address the alleged violations of international Humanitarian law
2) asks how Sri Lanka will implement the recommendations of an internal inquiry into the war
3) Encourages the UN human rights office to offer advice and assistance and the Government to accept such advice

In view of all these, it will be most appropriate if our PM does the honorable thing by boycotting the CHOGM meeting. It will convey a strong a clear message to Sri Lanka government that Malaysia abhors abuse of human rights values.

On July 3rd, Komas Staff Ms Lena Hendry was arrested for screening the documentary titled “No fire zone, the killing fields of Sri Lanka” .The departments which raided included the Home Ministry, the police and the Immigration.

On the same day, the movie was also screened in Parliament house which was organized by the Caucus for the Displaced People of Sri Lanka of the Malaysian Parliament. Over 20 MP’s attended the event.

It is now a widely known fact that the Sri Lankan Embassy tried to put pressure on KOMAS and KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) to stop the screening. They even sent a letter to KLSCAH and the Ambassador himself came over to KLSCAH.

The Sri Lankan Embassy, in a fax letter, accused the organizers for supporting the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), for trying to create bad relationship between the people of the two countries and within Malaysia. The Sri Lankan embassy also noted down in the fax that they have contacted Ministry of Foreign affairs and the censorship board.

I was present during the raid and it looks like we are bowing to the Sri Lankan embassy pressure. Is this true? I urge the authorities to drop all charges against Lena and others immediately.  

2.      Slaughter of Cows in school compounds.

Recently a number of public places and even schools have been turned in abattoirs. It is shocking to learn that national schools which have multi racial children have witnessed the slaughtering of cows.

Cow is sacred to Hindus and Buddhists. To slaughter these animals openly especially in schools is most unfortunate. Many parents take great objection to this and this in no way promote integration of the students or promotes good educational values.

What would be ideal is to teach our children to care for animals. For by interacting with animals they will behave better and especially towards other people.

I appreciate the second Deputy Minister of Education Kalamanathan in coming out to support the call to stop slaughtering of cows in schools. But his view has now been openly contradicted by Second Minister of Education Datuk Idris Jusoh.

Is the Minister under pressure from PERKASA which Youth leader has said it’s nothing wrong to slaughter cows in schools? He said” if a school has a lot of Muslims among the students and the teachers, and there is no place to carry out the slaughter, what is wrong is using the school”. He further said the ban was insulting the Muslim festival.

PERKASA has got everything wrong. For a start.
1) no one  in the right mind objects to the slaughter of cows if it is done according to law namely in a abattoir.
2) it is highly improper and complete failure to appreciate that we live in a multi racial, religious and multi lingual community and we have to be sensitive to other races especially the non Muslims.
3) National schools has all different races studying there, thus it is best not to openly slaughter cows

Further why is the circular prohibiting the slaughter of animals in schools not strictly adhered to?

Finally the absolute silence by the Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin conveys a very wrong message to all. Is he in favour of the slaughter?

I am not surprised by the DPM’s conduct as the DPM had formerly said he is Malay first and Malaysian second in direct contradiction to 1Malaysia concept!     
In 2007, in appreciation of the former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah's marriage, some BN MPs decided to slaughter cows in Malaysian Parliament grounds.

I raised this matter and criticised the open slaughter of cows and turning Parliament into an abattoir and the failure to be sensitive to Hindus. Dewan Speaker Tan Sri Ramli said cows were slaughtered everywhere. He was then asked if some "other" animals were also slaughtered in Parliament grounds, would this be acceptable. He didn't respond to this suggestion. But the open slaughtering has stopped since then.

3.      What have happened to 2012 Budget promises to help the Indian community?  

For this year, the Government has allocated RM 100 million for the Indian community. This allocation is meant for the improvement of the community. PM Datuk Najib said this allocation is to say a great thank you " nomba naandri" apparently because the Indians had given full support to BN in the last General Elections.

But recent studies shows 65% of Indians had in the recent election supported PR.

But I want to know what happened to the allocation promised for the Indian community in the 2012 budget promises.
1) RM 50 million was promised for the training of 3200 Indian youths,
 2) RM 50 million for TEKUN loans for Indians and
3) RM 100 million for Tamil schools.

Why is there a general feeling that these 3 promised allocations have not been effective and millions are not spent or used? Many Indian youths were not given the opportunities to participate in the retaining of youths.

To make matter worse, Deputy Minister Wathamorthy’s MOU with the Government raised a lot of hopes and great expectations. But the promise of awarding 2200 Matriculation seats for the Indian community never materialize. The MOU is just an eye wash. 

4.      Cameron Highlands tragedy 

In the recent incident, 3 innocent residents died. Was this avoidable?

This incident was in the coming as all has been due to the human's excessive destruction of the natural surroundings.

For years, Cameron Highlands has been suffering with floods, soil erosion etc but the authorities turned a blind eye to this. We have an MP for Cameron Highlands who is also the Minister of Environment.

RM 40 million has been specially allocated for the tragedy. How will it be spent?
 Will the Government make public the findings of the recent tragedy with a white paper to be presented in Parliament? 

Putrajaya deal, not subsidy cut, behind sugar price hike, says DAP

Putrajaya deal, not subsidy cut, behind sugar price hike, says DAP

Malaysian Insider
October 29, 2013
The hike in sugar price is not due to the scrapping of the 34 sen subsidy but because Putrajaya inked a three-year raw sugar import deal at a high price said the DAP.
DAP National Publicity secretary Tony Pua (pic) said Putrajaya had been buying sugar at 55.7% higher than the market price last month.

He said this was because the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry signed the deal at US$26 (RM78.54) per 100lbs (45.3kg) in January last year when the market price for raw sugar then was at US$23.42 (RM73.57).

The international price for sugar had gradually dropped since then, going as low as US$16.70 (RM52.46) per 100lbs last month.

The market price for raw sugar now, Pua said, was US$18.91 (RM59.41) per 100lbs.
Taking that into consideration, the subsidy was not needed and the price of sugar in the market was cheaper than the presently fixed RM2.84 per kg, he said.

"The over 10% difference between the contract price and the market price cost Putrajaya a loss of RM64 million yearly,” said Pua.

"I had already warned the government at the time that international analysis reports had predicted a fall in sugar prices due to excessive supply but my warning was unheeded and the then International Trade and Industry deputy minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir told Parliament that the price was going up," the Petaling Jaya Utara MP said in a statement today.

Pua said Putrajaya should bear the responsibility for making a bad call and admit its mistake, which had cost the government to pay RM194 million a year to import 2.73 billion pounds of raw sugar annually.
He said Putrajaya should stop using unreasonable excuses like diabetes and subsidy cuts to explain the price hike, and instead investigate why sugar was being imported at a higher price and take “corrective action”.

"The Barisan Nasional government used various tricks as excuses for the 34 sen per kg or the annual RM521 million subsidy cut.

"Its excuses had included Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin linking the death of former Kedah Menteri Besar Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak due to diabetes and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak saying that cutting down sugar intake can improve one's libido," he said.

Putrajaya, Pua said, should also explain the "duopoly" given to Malaysian Sugar Manufacturing Bhd and Tradewinds Bhd for the local sugar market.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, when debating the Budget 2014 in Parliament yesterday, said the subsidy cut would benefit sugar manufacturers like the company owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

The sugar industry here, he said, would rake in a profit of RM1 billion. – October 29, 2013.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

'Perkasa has underlined your lowly status in BN'

'Perkasa has underlined your lowly status in BN'
DAP national vice-chairperson M Kulasegaran today reminded Deputy Education Minister II P Kamalanathan that his "bowing and scraping before Umno could only take him to the status of a subaltern and nothing more".

The Ipoh Barat MP was commenting on the threatening remarks posted by Perkasa Youth chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris in the latter's blog that warned Kamalanathan about an alleged affront to Muslim sensitivities levelled by the deputy minister over the issue of ritual slaughter of cows in schools.

Kamalanathan had said that the practice is not permitted by the Education Ministry but that knowledge of its impermissibility was not widely disseminated.

The MIC leader attributed sporadic instances of the ritual slaughter of cows in schools in Selangor and the Federal Territory over the recent Hari Raya Korban celebrations to this dearth of knowledge about the practice's impermissibility in schools.

Ritual slaughter could be held in suraus nearest to the school, said Kamalanathan, but not on the premises of schools.

NONEKamalanathan was roundly rebuked over these remarks by Irwan who saw them as disrespectful of Islam.

The Hulu Selangor MP had made the remarks in response to criticisms from parents of Hindu and Buddhist pupils in schools where instances of ritual slaughter had taken place.

Kulasegaran (left) was among a claque of opposition non-Muslim and Muslim politicians and leaders of civil society groups who described the incidents of ritual slaughter as inappropriate and hurting to the sensitivities of Hindu and Buddhist pupils.

But Perkasa, the Malay right wing group, is unfazed by the perception that the incidents were improper and through its youth leader, Irwan, has described criticism of it as "insulting" to Malays and Muslims.

Irwan reminded Kamalanathan of his dependence on Malay votes in latter's Malay voter-dominant parliamentary seat and that if he did not retract his remarks he would risk defeat at the next general election.

Hand kisser

DAP leader Kulasegaran said that Irwan's threats were "a lesson to Kamalanathan that kissing the hand of his patrons was no guarantee that subservience would equate to self-respect."

In a gesture that became a talking point during the April 2010 by-election for the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat, BN candidate Kamalanathan publicly kissed the hand of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin when the latter announced him as the BN choice.

In the eyes of detractors, the gesture smacked of abject subservience but an unabashed Kamalanathan was seen to thrive on his public aura of obeisance to the Malay right wing coupled with an industrious personal work ethic.

NONEHe won the by-election and went on to retain the seat in last May's general election.

But if those successive triumphs had bred in him the notion that he could forget the umbilical cord that tied him to his benefactors, Irwan (right) and Perkasa were swift to disabuse him of the illusion.

"They are telling him that a subaltern should never forget his place," commented Kulasegaran on the comeuppance Irwan delivered Kamalanathan.

"A stable hand is a stable hand, only deserving of an occasional pat on his back by the horse owner. He cannot hope to be an owner," quipped Kulasegaran.

Think tank: GST is a ‘regressive tax’ | Free Malaysia Today

Think tank: GST is a ‘regressive tax’

Alfian ZM Tahir | October 26, 2013
Penang Institute claims its field study and analysis of the GST showed that lower and middle income households would end up paying additional 3,38% for goods.
KUALA LUMPUR: Slapping a high  6% goods and services tax (GST) on Malaysians who are not accustomed to such a levy is simply too heavy and irrational, notes a think-tank here.
 Refuting the federal government’s repeated assurance that it won’t affect the low income group, the Penang Institute today claimed that their study involving 24,768  ”living quarters”  showed that at 6% GST, prices of items will go up by as much as an additional 3.38%.

The study was done by Dr Lim Kim Hwa, Fellow at Penang Institute, and Ooi Pei Qi, research analyst at the same think tank.

“The government now expects the budget deficit to fall to 3.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014 with economic growth at 5 to 5.5%. (This is before the GST is introduced in 2015),” said Ooi.

“But our analysis shows that at 6% GST, prices could go up by as much as an additional 3.38%. (And) GST will raise RM 6 billion from households (ignoring any fraud).

“(And this is) despite setting essential items like basic food, public transportation, education and healthcare as exempt or zero rated items.

“Our analysis shows that GST is a regressive tax where the lower income  households will bear a higher tax burden than the higher income households.”

Ooi said in view of the contradictory findings,  it is best that the government studies in detail the effects of the GST.

“We want an in-depth or critical approach by the government because at this moment not many research has been done on GST,” Ooi said.

Earlier today federal minister Abdul Wahid Omar claimed that the GST would not burden the people, especially the low-income group.

He said the 6% GST was the lowest among the Asean member countries including Singapore and Thailand which imposed a GST of 7%  while other countries imposed between 10 and 12%.

He also denied widespread arguments that the GST is an additional tax.

“If we introduce the GST, it is not an additional tax,” he added

24,768 people surveyed

But Ooi opined otherwise.

She said their study clearly showed that it was an ‘additional tax”.

She said the worst hit family units were those earning RM 2,500 comprising majority Bumiputera households in peninsular malaysia.

“For these families they will have to pay an additional 2.67% on their household income towards GST.
“Families with lowest household incomes such as those earning an average of RM605 a month they will pay an extra 2.35%,” she said.

Ooi said the analysis however noted that those earning a higher income such as RM30,815 a month only had to bear 1.32% GST burden.

The study also found that individuals in Peninsular Malaysia who were employed as technicians, clerical and service staff as well as farmers and fishemen and single individuals aged 24 and below would pay a higher percentage on the GST.

The insitute’s GST study was based on data sourced from the Household Expenditure 2009/2010 survey conducted by the Department of Statistics Malaysia.

A one month period was used to collect data on daily expenditure incurred while an entire 12 months was used as a reference period for items that were purchased on an infrequent basis.

These items included consumer durables like refrigerators and washing machines and semi-durables like clothing and footwear.

The survey tracked 24,768 “living quaters” in East and West Malaysia. Institutional “living quarters” such as those in hotels and hospitals were excluded from the survey.

For every selected living quarter, all households in the particular living quarter were surveyed.

The survey also noted that it was unreasonable to apply Bank Negara’s marginal propensity to consume (MPC) data on incomes to sub-regions of Malaysia as these areas differed in social economic development.