Sunday, March 30, 2008

Release Hindraf 5, says Samy...yes, you read that right!

Release Hindraf 5, says Samy ... yes, you read that right!

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has urged the government to release the five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders who are being detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
He said two of the leaders -- R. Kenghadaran, 40, who is very sick and M. Manoharan, 46, who had won the Kota Alam Shah state seat in Selangor on a DAP ticket on March 8 -- should be freed sooner.
He said another two, V. Ganabatirau, 34, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34, had not been very much involved in the rally organised by Hindraf in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25 last year.
The fifth leader being detained under the ISA is P. Uthayakumar.
Speaking to reporters after opening a workshop on "Rebranding the MIC" here Sunday, Samy Vellu said the wives of Kenghadaran and Manoharan had approached him for his assistance.
"I have decided to raise it with the government. I will raise it (the issue of their release) with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after he returns from Sabah.
"I will also meet Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan. I have already made some moves on this earlier but I did not tell anyone. I will now make a firm move to see what can be done by the government with regard to their plight," Samy Vellu claimed.
He said Ganabatirau, and Vasantha Kumar were "not very much involved (in the rally), so the government has to make a decision."
Samy Vellu claimed that this was not a publicity stunt or a move to win back Indian support for the party.
"This is done in fairness, sympathy and, also, we feel that we as Indians have to do something about it. It is not a publicity stunt," he said.
Samy Vellu said that he was harshly criticised by certain people when he spoke to Abdullah and the Attorney General about reducing the attempted murder charges against the 31 people detained during the Hindraf rally, but he had continued to assist them.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Release of Hindraf 5 -- pressing agenda of 82 MPs and 196 State Assembly members

Release of Hindraf 5 - pressing agenda of 82 MPs and 196 State Assembly members from DPP
One of the major breakthroughs of the March 8 political tsunami was the transformation of “Makkal Sakti” from a call for the end of the long-standing marginalization of the Malaysian Indians into a rallying and symbolic cry by all Malaysians to end all forms of marginalization against any Malaysian or group, regardless of race or religion.

It is distressing therefore that despite assurances by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that he has heard the voice of Malaysians on March 8 for change, actions taken by the second Abdullah administration have proved otherwise – in particular the statement by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar refusing to release newly-elected Selangor DAP State Assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah and four other Hindraf leaders, P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kenghadharan and T. Vasantha Kumar from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention.

A pressing agenda for 82 MPs and 196 State Assembly members from DAP, PKR and PAS in Malaysia is to work out a common strategy for the immediate and unconditional release of the five Hindraf leaders from ISA detention and to ensure that the second Abdullah government understand the meaning of “Makkal Sakti”.

(Speech at the DAP Bukit Glugor general election thanksgiving dinner to celebrate re-election victory of Karpal Singh as MP for Bukit Glugor at Long Say Building, Burmah Road, Penang on Saturday, 29th March 2008)

Dictatorship Malaysia style: elected Hindraf leader will not be released from detention

Dictatorship Malaysia style: elected Hindraf leader will not be released from detention

Malaysia Spurns Calls to Free Lawmaker
1 hour ago (29 March 2008, 3 PM IST)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian opposition party on Saturday condemned the government's refusal to release an ethnic Indian activist elected as a state legislator while in jail.
M.Manoharan — a leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf — was arrested shortly after his group organized a rally in November in which 20,000 Indians protested alleged government discrimination. He has been held since December under Malaysia's Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
While behind bars, he contested the March 8 election as a member of the Democratic Action Party and won a seat in the Selangor state legislature.
Despite Manoharan's win, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the government cannot free him because he is still a security threat, The Star newspaper reported Saturday.
Calls to Syed Hamid and his aides went unanswered Saturday.
Lim Kit Siang, who heads the opposition Democratic Action Party slammed the government's decision.
"It shows that the Cabinet is not really listening to the people's voice for change toward a more democratic, accountable, just and more progressive Malaysian society," Lim told The Associated Press.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's ruling National Front coalition retained power in the March election, but suffered the worst losses in its 51-year rule.

Jailed Malay Indian MP cannot be released

Saturday, 29 March , 2008, 11:59
Kuala Lumpur: Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader M Manoharan who is being detained under the Internal Security Act cannot be released although he won the Kota Alam Shah Assembly seat in the General Elections held March 8, 2008 Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar has said.
"We cannot simply react to political parties' calls. We have to give priority to public safety and peace and will give due consideration (to the issue of his release) only if there is no threat to national security," he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper on Saturday.
Manoharan will not be able to attend state assembly sessions while under detention.
He can, however, take oath as a state assemblyman at the detention camp as this had been done in the past, Albar said.
Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit, who won the Batu Gajah and Sungai Besi parliamentary seats respectively on a Democratic Action Party (DAP) ticket, took oath in the presence of the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament) speaker and secretary, and camp authorities in 1978, he said.
Manoharan, along with P Uthayakumar, V Ganabatirau, K Vasantha Kumar and R Kengadharan, is being detained for two years on charges of sedition for being part of Hindraf.
An unregistered body, Hindraf, claiming to speak for two million Tamil Hindu settlers, courted controversy after it organised a rally here November 25, 2007 to highlight the problems faced by ethnic Indians. Police forcibly dispersed the rally using water cannons and the group's leaders were arrested.
Albar said an advisory board comprising judicial and legal officers would review their detention.

Some advice for the new MIC Minister

Some advice for the new MIC minister
Dr AM Raj | Mar 25, 08 4:26pm

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Dr Subra: March 8 an awakening.

As a politician he knows how to be evasive when asked an uncomfortable
question like why was not the MIC given the Works Ministry. The fact
of the matter is that the MIC did try very hard to retain this
ministry but failed to do so.

Umno has been wanting to wrestle the portfolio from the MIC for a long
time. Of course, many in Umno fail to understand that the works
ministry is better off in the hands of a non-Umno minister so the
Umnoputras can shamelessly demand and get government contracts without
raising any eyebrows.

Nevertheless Dr S Subramaniam comes out in the interview as an
intelligent and dignified bearer of public office. The good doctor is
going to have his hands full. In all fairness, it must be said that
his predecessor in the cabinet, S Samy Vellu, was probably the most
hardworking cabinet minister.

How he managed with so little sleep and a frugal diet is a wonder. He
was also probably the only minister who personally answered phone
calls from the rakyat. The fact that Samy Vellu totally misread the
people's sentiments (probably aided and abetted by his staff of
various secretaries) contributed to his downfall.

The thousands of Indians helped by him to get contracts, loans,
scholarships and medical benefits did not count finally. He was like a
zamindar (land owner/chieftain) who dished out goodies on an ad-hoc
basis truly believing that he was doing the right thing. Indeed, many
Indians did benefit from his largesse and in a way, it is pitiful to
see them going for his jugular now.

So, Dr Subramaniam, I do have a few tips for you;

1. Emulate your predecessor in being a hardworking, disciplined
minister. You don't have to sleep only five hours a day like Samy
Vellu does and yes, you may continue being a vegetarian .

2. You don't have to inherit any personal staff of your predecessor.
It is better for you to bring in your own team if you are concerned
about your image.

3. Do not behave like a zamindar dishing out goodies. Those who get
the goodies will end up being ungrateful and those who do not not get
them will end up being your enemies. Instead, conceptualise your
vision to help poor Indians into a policy and demand that the
government act on it.

4. Do not be seen to be subservient member of the ruling coalition.
Demand that MIC be treated as an equal component of the ruling
coalition failing which you should consider pulling out of BN.

The MIC maintained the status quo by feeding on the fear that without
adequate Indian representation in the administration, the community's
needs would not be met. It may have been true in the past but not any

The 2008 general election has showed that the rakyat has matured and
voted across racial lines. The only ones who seem obsessed with race
seem to be the politicians. However, the MIC need not be written off.
It has a golden opportunity revamp itself into a dynamic party that is
sensitive to the needs of the poor and downtrodden Indians.

Eventually it is hoped that MIC, along with its friends in the BN will
form a single multiracial party a la PKR. Only then can we have a
truly credible two-party system that would be the envy of any plural
society. Someone did say that politics is far too important to be left
in the hands of politicians!

Demolished Hindu temple to be rebuilt on new site in Malaysia

Monday March 17, 2008
Demolished Hindu temple to be rebuilt on new site

SHAH ALAM: A new site for the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya, Padang Jawa, which was demolished in November last year has been approved.

Mayor Mazalan Md Noor said the temple would be rebuilt soon on a 10,000sq feet land near the Keretapi Tanah Melayu quarters, a much bigger site than the original temple.

He was speaking to reporters after Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Shah Alam MP Khalid Abd Samad visited the Rimba Jaya flats Monday.

The Hindu temple was ordered torn down by the authorities as it stood in the vicinity of the Rimba Jaya squatter settlement.

The 11ha site in the area is owned by Ken Rimba Jaya Sdn Bhd.

"The developer has been directed by the state government to provide the land and RM40,000, the cost of the building construction.

"It is up to the temple committee and the developer to decide when to start the temple construction," he said.

Mazalan said the Shah Alam City Council had cleared up the land to make way for the temple project.

Earlier, Khalid and Anwar had a dialogue with the Kampung Rimba Jaya residents and the demolition of the temple was among the hottest issues raised during the 15-minute meeting.

Khalid said the new state government was working hard to solve the squatter problems in the state.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Free Hindraf 5: UN Special Rapporteur urges Malaysian Govt.

Free Hindraf leaders, UN official urges Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, IANS: 25 March 2008

In a letter to Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, Param Cumaraswamy has urged that they should be released in the interest of justice and harmony in the country.

UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has urged the Malaysian government to review the detention of the five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders and release them unconditionally.

In a letter to Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, Param Cumaraswamy has urged that they should be released in the interest of justice and harmony in the country.

The five are being held for two years under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA) and charged with sedition after they organised a protest rally on November 25 last year.

Cumaraswamy pointed out that one of those detained, M. Manoharan, was now an elected member of the state assembly in Kota Alam Shah.

This should be seen as a clear message that the electorate did not view him as a threat to state security.

He added that there was clearly no justification for the five to be detained any longer.

"Unite them with their families and allow Manoharan to serve his electorate effectively," The Star newspaper quoted him as saying.

Hindraf, an unregistered organisation, claims to speak for Malaysia's two million-plus Tamil Hindu settlers. It has been alleging that temples have been demolished and the community has been denied its due in terms of jobs and educational facilities.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hindus avenge their humiliation in Malaysia, the fight goes on to get Hindraf 5 released

March 30, 2008
Parvasi Bharatiya

Hindraf makes a dent in ruling coalition vote bank
Hindus avenge their humiliation in Malaysia
By Petaling Jaya

Malaysia is in shock. The Barisan Nasional is reeling from its worst-ever election performance with the ruling coalition losing 2/3 majority. While it managed to keep Terengganu and will form the next government, it lost Penang, Selangor Kedah and Perak to the Opposition and failed to recapture Kelantan. Barisan Nasional chairman, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in accepting the results, said this was a clear proof of democracy at work in the country. He urged people to remain calm and not take to the streets to celebrate.

Tamil Nesan had a massive pull-out for birthday boy Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu with back-to-back coverage and full-page live-size photographs of him taken out by all 28 MIC candidates, hailing their chief as the greatest man ever born. The surreal coverage was in stark contrast to the ugly mood among Indians who had already ‘told’ Samy Vellu that his time was up—through the November 25 protest and the boycott of Batu Caves during Thaipusam—and were waiting to say it again through the ballot box. It was Samy Vellu’s final swan song. Except for Dr S. Subramaniam , S. Saravanan and K. Devamani, the other MIC candidates were all wiped out in an unprecedented wave of anger, opening up a new era in politics for Indians. With most of the MIC bigwigs wiped out, the internal power equation in the party has gone haywire and only time will tell how it is going to unravel. After such a beating it is also inconceivable that Samy Vellu should continue as party president. Sadly, he does not have a winner in a number two or three to hand over the party to. The vice-presidents, until press time, appear to have been defeated as well, leaving the MIC leadership in shambles. It will take a long time for the mess to be sorted out.

The MIC representation in the Cabinet and the administration is also in question now that Samy Vellu, the sole Indian minister for 29 years, has been defeated. Who is the winner or loser? Who will to take his place in the Cabinet? Indian voters form significant numbers in at least 67 parliamentary and 141 state assembly seats where they comprise between 9 per cent and 46 per cent of the electorate. The results across the country indicate they had used their numbers to vote Opposition and helped change the direction of politics in the country. They were the deciding factor in constituencies where Malay and Chinese votes divided. Indians who traditionally backed the Government made their small numbers count. Twenty-two Indians contested in 18 parliamentary seats and 53 Indians contested in 40 seats. They comprised about 8 per cent of contestants. MIC fielded nine for the Parliament and 19 for the state assemblies. The DAP had seven Indians for the Parliament and 17 for state while PKR fielded 19 Indians. In the Parliament and the state assemblies, there will be about 20 Indians from the DAP and PKR and all will be sitting on the opposition bench. Previously, in the entire country there were only two Indian MPs—Karpal Singh and M. Kulasegaran—holding the fort. It is going to be a lively Parliament and Opposition Indian MPs are going to fall over each other to voice Indian woes. The results are a victory for Makkal Shakti, the force unleashed by Hindraf leader P. Uthayakumar on November 25, which ballooned into a formidable Indian movement to carry away so many MIC leaders. The larger question is of course Indian representation in the government, which would be lesser with so many casualties. The government will have to find new ways to fill the vacancies and not just promote losers into senators and then ministers. Because of the defeat in some states, Indian representation is nil, making it a challenging task for the Barisan Nasional power-sharing formula to work.

While Malaysian political parties have managed to negotiate communal issues with remarkable dexterity over the past five decades, it is clear that the race-based formula that defines our political landscape must be re-modelled in due course. This is necessary because a long-entrenched habit of organising society into separate racial groups is patently unhealthy and ultimately counterproductive. The task should begin, naturally, with the envisioning of a society that emphasises a unifying, cross-cultural experience instead of striving to maintain social and institutional differences based on race and religion. This would require investing time and energy in reforming all important public institutions and processes to become inclusive, universal and egalitarian so that communal differences are de-emphasised and common values embraced as core principles. This is obviously a massive undertaking that will require decades if not generations to accomplish. Nevertheless, it must begin with a sense of conviction among all communities that such a society is not only achievable, but most desirable.

Further, as the goal involves a radical transformation in thinking, it must be approached in a systematic manner that would foster a gradual acceptance of the idea. The process should move from discussion of the idea among cultural experts, political leaders, public figures, community groups and civil society organisations, to confidence-building initiatives, experimental programmes and onward to more institutional efforts. A first step could be the establishment of a race relations commission that reports to the Parliament. Such an entity should be tasked with driving the agenda of racial harmony by drawing on the strength of opinion leaders and leading lights in the various communities. Thereafter a blueprint for promoting racial unity should be developed, including a revamp of institutions such as the Department of National Unity to make its role in promoting racial harmony more effective. Such a blueprint should encompass the reform of major national institutions including educational institutions, the civil service, Parliament, the justice system and others to reflect a race-blind public policy. This would ensure that over time, all public institutions would be guided by the principles of egalitarianism and universal values. In this process, a move towards reforming legislation to make them consonant with the values of a race-blind society would be a logical progression. Admittedly, from our current position, all this looks like a distant dream. However, the challenge of taking up the discussion is open to all who wish to forge a great future for Malaysia.

With the damming defeat, the MIC now becomes the only party, with its top leaders — president, deputy president (Datuk G. Palanivel) and three-vice presidents (Datuk S. Sothinathan, Datuk S. Veerasingam and Tan Sri Dr K.S. Nijhar)—will not have parliamentary seats to their names.

The MIC was allotted nine parliamentary and 19 state seats to contest. Only three MIC candidates won parliamentary seats while a mere seven won state seats.

MIC candidates who emerged victorious in the parliamentary seats were MIC information chief Datuk M. Saravanan (Tapah), S.K. Devamany (Cameron Highlands) and secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam (Segamat).

The party’s candidates were wiped-out in Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor while the seven who managed to cling on were the four state assembly men in Johor, one in Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang.

Political observers said MIC’s dismal performance in this polls was to be expected as the “tell-tale” signs were there but were never noticed by party leaders.

It began when certain segments of the 1.8 million Indians unhappy with the way the party was addressing the woes of the community, sparked an uprising of some sorts by organising a street demonstration in Kuala Lumpur in November last year.

Despite the intense pressure, Samy Vellu vowed that he would make changes to the MIC line-up in this election. He did make changes but they were minimal. He brought in new faces only in Saravanan and S. Murugesan (who contested the Subang constituency and lost).

It is without doubt that the veteran leader, who was appointed as Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister in 1978 and subsequently Works Minister in 1979, has to leave the Cabinet, in which he was a member for many years.

Samy Vellu, who once worked as a bus conductor, office boy and a newscaster in RTM, climbed the party’s ladder the hard way.

After becoming an MIC member in 1959 at the Batu Caves branch, he clawed his way up as the acting president in 1979 following the death of Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, the then MIC president.

The eldest son of rubber tappers Sangilimuthu and Angammah, took the helm of MIC in 1981. He has held on to that position despite facing strong challenge many a time.

After serving the community for nearly 30 years, the man, who as a kid, moved from estate to estate with his parents in search of employment, had a hard decision to make in the light of the current circumstances.

Will he step aside in the party or plod on, will he be made a senator and retain his works minister’s portfolio, one time will tell.

Malaysia’s opposition was set on recently to hand the ruling coalition its biggest upset ever, winning the northern industrial state of Penang and putting the prime minister’s political future at risk.

The multi-racial National Front coalition was almost certain to get a majority and form the government at the federal level, but the two-thirds majority in parliament it has held for most of its five-decade-long rule was looking shaky in early returns.

“It’s bad. They have lost Penang,” a source close to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Reuters just two and a half hours after polling booths closed. “It’s a perfect storm,” he added. “Big guns are falling all over the place.”

The chief minister of Penang conceded defeat and said he would hand over power to the opposition, one of the state’s opposition leaders said.

“He has contacted the governor. He respected the wishes of the people and hoped there are no untoward incidents,” said Chow Kon Yeow, head of the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), which was set to lead the new government in the state.

The surprise defeat for the ruling National Front coalition aroused memories of the last time it failed to win a two-thirds majority, in 1969, when deadly race riots erupted between majority ethnic Malays and minority Chinese.

Abdullah said he accepted defeat in some areas and urged people to remain calm.

Police officials vowed to use tough internal security laws against anyone spreading rumours of race riots, and banned victory processions after the results, one of which had triggered the violence in 1969.

The poll, called before it was due in May 2009, was widely seen as a referendum on Abdullah’s rule, and Malaysians took the opportunity to administer a stinging rebuke over price rises, religious disputes and concerns over corruption.

Works Minister Samy Vellu, chief of the Malaysian Indian Congress, one of the parties in the ruling National Front coalition, lost the seat he had held for nearly 30 years, because many Indians thought he was out of touch with their concerns.

Another slap in the face for the government was a victory by detained ethnic Indian activist and lawyer M. Manoharan, who won a parliamentary seat, after being held under internal-security laws for organising a major anti-government protest last year.

Chinese and Indians account for a third of the population of 26 million and many complain the government discriminates in favour of Malays when it comes to education, jobs, financial assistance and religious policy.

“This looks like a revolution,” said Husam Musa, vice president of the Islamist opposition party Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), which looked to be winning in northeastern Kelantan state.

“The people have risen and are united. The message to government is, ‘Enough is enough’”, he told reporters.

Time for Malaysia to address minorities' concerns: Hindraf

Time for Malaysia to address minorities' concerns: HINDRAF

Chennai (PTI): Malaysia-based Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) on Monday said the defeat of Malaysian Indian Congress headed by former minister Datho Samivelu in recent polls, showed that it was time for the Malaysian government to come out with an "affirmative plan" to address the concerns of the minorities.

P Wayda Moorthy, Chairman, HINDRAF, told reporters here that after the elections, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi had said that he would correct some of his mistakes like the crackdown on ethnic Indians.

Moorthy said the Government should announce "concrete, affirmative plan for the Indians."

He also called for repealing of the Internal Security Act under which several HINDRAF activists were detained and demanded their immediate release.

They were detained when HINDRAF organised a rally of ethnic Indians on November 25 last year, demanding equal rights to the community.

Moorthy said the recent MoU proposed by Malaysia offering all rights and facilities to the Indian expatriates and migrant workers was aimed at keeping India quiet.

"Migrant workers from various countries are employed in Malaysia. But, the proposed MoU for Indians alone is aimed at preventing India from taking up with it, the struggle by the ethnic Indians," he said.

Protests organized world-wide on 100th day of detention of Hindraf 5

Mon, 24/03/2008 - 18:07 — admin The 100th day detention of the 5 HINDRAF linked persons and leaders were remembered throughout the country on the 22nd and 23rd March 2008.

Worldwide vigils and protests in conjunction with the 100th day detention would be organised on different dated as Europe celebrated the Easter break and India had its Holi Festival during this period.

A protest were organised at San Francisco United Nations Plaza on the 22nd March 2008.

Throughout the country thousands of Malaysians attended various “Abolish ISA Forums” and a total of 8 resolutions were unanimously adopted as follows:

1. HINDRAF through its MAKKAL SAKTI power has sent a clear message to the Government of the 50 years of marginalisation, suppression and oppression of the Indian community in Malaysia and calls upon the Government to adopt and implement all 18 demands made via a memorandum sent to the Prime Minister on 12th August 2007.

2. THIS FORUM does not believe that the 5 linked to HINDRAF detained under the ISA are a threat to National Security. The Government have maliciously linked them to terrorist organisation in December 2007, being extremist ect to justify their arrest under ISA.

THIS FORUM recognises that the Government felt threatened of losing the traditional Indian voters support as a result of the mass gathering organized by HINDRAF and show of MAKKAL SAKTI (PEOPLE POWER) ON 25TH November 2007 and hence the decision to detain under ISA.

THIS FORUM calls upon the Government to immediately release all 5 detained persons unconditionally and compensate them for their unlawful incarceration.

3. THIS FORUM reminds DAP KEADILAN PAS that the spirit of multi racial politics shown and advocated by HINDRAF during the General Elections are a commitment given by HINDRAF on behalf of the Malaysian Indians which is a total shift from previous voting trends. HINDRAF now calls upon the abovementioned political parties to recognize the contributions of HINDRAF by appointing a minimum of 5 HINDRAF leaders in the Senate (DEWAN NEGARA) a Deputy Menteri Besar position in each of the states in Penang, Perak and Selangor and equitable numbers of Timbalan Yang Dipertua’s and councillors from amongst HINDRAF.

4. THIS FORUM calls on the Government to recognize the legitimate existence and contributions of HINDRAF to the country and calls upon the Government to immediately approve the registration of HINDRAF as a Civil Rights and Political Pressure group/organization.

5. THIS FORUM recognises that the ISA is an obsolete act of Parliament and the detention under ISA is cruel, inhumane and against all International Human Rights standards.

THIS FORUM calls on the Prime Minister to table as the first act of Parliament, an act to repeal the ISA in the forthcoming new Parliamentary session.

6. THIS FORUM calls on the Government to heed calls made by all concerned citizens and Human Rights organisations to immediately release all detained persons unlawfully held under the ISA and compensate each individual for the loss of years and sufferings they and their families underwent.

7. THIS FORUM urges all Political Parties and the Government to accept the reality that HINDRAF IS THE NEW VOICE OF MALAYSIAN INDIANS.

8. HINDRAF declares and vows to vigorously campaign for the repeal of fINTERNAL SECURITY ACT even upon the release of the 5 linked to HINDRAF.

On the 23rd March 2008 between a total of 131 yagams (yagas/ fire rituals) were conducted by Hindus to invoke the blessings of the ALMIGHTY for the release of the 5 and for the protection and guarantee of Minority Indian Rights in Malaysia.

HINDRAF congratulates and thanks all supporters for their participation and support in organizing these events and a special thanks to our fellow brothers and sisters in London and Dublin who despite the “safety restrictions” organized successful yagams and to our fellow brethren in San Francisco for their commitment in organizing the protest despite the Easter break.

P.Waytha Moorthy

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Malaysian govt. softens stance toward bloggers

Malaysian govt. softens stance toward bloggers

Kuala Lumpur (AP), 23 March 2008: Media reports say Malaysia's new information minister has pledged not to impose curbs on bloggers, who have been accused by authorities of spreading slander and undermining multiethnic harmony.

Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said bloggers played a key role in recent general elections by catering to voters who wanted an alternative source of information apart from mainstream newspapers and television.

Newspapers on Saturday quoted Ahmad Shabery as saying that everyone would have ``the freedom to use the blogs as an information distribution center.''

How the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) Failed The Indians

An open letter to Dato S Subramaniam and others who want to resurrect the now dead MIC
Posted by Raja Petra, Thursday, 20 March 2008

The abandonment of MIC by Malaysian Indians is surely a reflection that MIC has failed itself significantly in representing the very people it serves.

MIC failed the Indians, when did barely nothing to prevent the temple demolitions. MIC failed when its leaders did not ensure that budgeted allocations actually went towards needy Tamil schools. MIC failed when it's leaders did not negotiate for better salaries for Estate Workers, or find jobs for displaced Estate workers. May we ask what MIC did towards halting the rising rates of gangsterism within the Malaysian Indian community?

We did not hear a squeak from MIC leaders when time and again Indians died in police custody. Once again where was the voice of MIC leaders when our deserving students did not get placement in the Universities? Neither did we hear our MIC representatives clamour to give housing for poor urban Indians. Where were the MIC leaders when our community were deprived of jobs and when the number of Indians in Government dropped alarmingly?

Sir, sorry to say, that our MIC leaders together with the ruling Government wilfully neglected the Indian community. So now you tell us, why do we Indians need such category of self serving leaders?

Though we Malaysian Indians had MPs and other leaders in Government, rarely did anyone take up their cause, a case in point, the hundreds of Memos sent in by Hindraf went virtually ignored and unanswered by all in government. When in actual fact, the MIC should have taken onus to address the problems enumerated in the Hindraf demands, this being specific Indian issue. Instead leaders went all out to demonise us, resorting to all manner of name calling from penyangkak to extremists to murderers even to the extent of our esteemed police force's vivid and imaginary terrorist links.

Why you too Sir, did not make any efforts to take up the Indian cause, surely with your connections you could have highlighted the Indian plight, but then I guess all of you very busy pursuing your own personal and business interests. Why did you not use your influence with the Government to speak on behalf of the thousands of Indians who came out on the streets in a voice of discontent? Were you lounging in one of the hotels on Jalan Ampang watching us Malaysian Indians being jetted with chemical waters and tear gas?

Consider the 12th General Elections and see for yourself how the Indians rallied with the opposition especially in constituencies where MIC candidates were contesting. Indians tirelessly worked to ensure that MIC candidates failed to get elected. Is that not proof in itself, that the very people MIC represents, in effect ensured its failure? Otherwise how do you attribute that even the CEO of MIC and his deputy failed to get elected, it was not by coincidence but the very intention of frustrated and marginalised Malaysian Indians.

One of the main reasons for the debacle of the BN in this elections, is that the Indians previously complacent openly came out in large numbers to assist the opposition candidates, be it DAP, PAS or PKR, it did not matter to them whether the candidates were Indian, Chinese, Malay or any other, nevertheless Indians gave their whole hearted support to any candidate other than BN.

By now you should know that the reason for the component parties' devastation in the 12th GE was primarily because the minorities felt that their leaders failed to represent and voice out the discontent of the people. This in turn effected the rise of the elite UMNO and their racial policies. Just to illustrate, when the Keris was raised, those who mumbled and grumbled a bit, were seen in the next days papers, smiling and shaking hands, with the keris wielding leader who today unfortunately still sits in cabinet, while the rest of us were furious and feared our very future in this nation.

To your question on who will represent the Indians, there are enough Indians in Parliament and the State Assemblies to ensure the welfare of the Indians. Right now there is a strong Indian presence in five state governments, so to you we say we have sufficient representation of Indians in whom we have placed our trust and confidence.

For the development of respective Arts and Culture, there should not be a problem to initiate societies and associations for the promotion of language, literature, culture, arts, music and dance.

It is timely that big industrialists and entrepreneurs come forward to develop, train and mentor the younger generation. I am equally sure that you should not have a problem with your expertise and being a person of influence to establish ways to promote economic growth of marginalised and deserving Malaysians irrespective of race or religion.

To Samy Velu, who today said "who will represent the Indians"? Go and seek penance in Kasi and prepare yourself to meet your maker, your end is nearing. Be sure you have answers for your bad performance and your major role in the making of a powerful opposition, for certain, they have already thanked you for this. Meditate how your devious actions led to the sad demise of MIC. By raising the tolls, in amassing huge amounts of wealth. We ofcourse in the elections did not forget how the Hindraf assemblers were treated at Batu Caves and we gave you the answer by booting you out. Be gone. You have negated all the the efforts and the good done by the early founders of MIC, you have dragged all their work into the stinking muck.

By the way, Dato Subramaniam and others you could earn back some semblence of respect if you could get not just the Hindraf 5 but also all other ISA detainees released. However if you wish to serve,let it be all Malaysians, not just one community, that is our sincere advice to you.

We have now reached a mature stage whereby we the people, Malays, Chinese, Indians and others will directly involve ourselves with our elected representatives to ensure that all our interests are taken care of. We have made our voice heard in this elections and we say once and for all, be gone all yea who want to encourage racism and partisan politics in Malaysia, that was once and no more shall the people let self-serving politicians divide us.


Right now, there are stalwarts who are true patriots, working to ensure the success of the Barisan Rakyat.

Barisan Rakyat is the only way forward for Malaysia.


I am of one race - Malaysian

Friday, March 21, 2008

HAF welcomes 'political tsunami

HAF welcomes "Political Tsunami" in Malaysia
Blitz Desk

The political landscape was in upheaval in Malaysia late last week after the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition was handed a shocking defeat in national elections losing its two-thirds majority in the country's parliament. While the BN leader Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in as Prime Minister for another term, his mandate is severely weakened. The Hindu American Foundation, along with many human rights observers in the United States welcomed the development as a referendum against the Prime Minister's recent crackdown on ethnic minority Indians and jailing of Hindu leaders under draconian laws.
Political change began sweeping the country in late 2007 after the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) organized 80,000 ethnic Indians to march on the nation's capital to protest ethnic and religious discrimination and the destruction of several Hindu temples by the government. The rally was brutally dispersed and the government tried to silence any opposition. In an obvious blow to the Badawi government, M. Manoharan, one of the five HINDRAF leaders held under a draconian security law that allows indefinite detention without trial, won a seat in parliament convincingly on a Democratic Action Party (DAP) ticket.

"The overwhelming message we can glean from these elections is that a national policy of ethnic marginalization, discrimination and, indeed, religious persecution was rejected by Malays from all backgrounds," said Aseem Shukla, M.D., member of the HAF Board of Directors. "The Badawi government's regressive policies of reserving coveted jobs, leadership opportunities and school admissions for ethnic Malays, and a promotion of Islamist ideology poisoned and polarized the polity in Malaysia too far."

The Barisan Nasional, headed by Prime Minister Badawi won a majority of the seats (140 of the 222 seats), but compared to the 2004 elections in which it had won 64 percent of the vote, and 90 percent of the parliamentary seats, this time around it won only 51% percent of the votes and 63 percent of parliamentary seats. This despite widespread reports of vote-rigging and the huge advantages that the ruling coaliton had in terms of resources and support to hold big public rallies, denied to the opposition. Much more significantly, the BN lost its two-thirds majority, and suffered its worst outcome in 50 years. A two-thirds majority in parliament is needed to amend the constitution. The opposition parties together have won 82 seats compared to only 19 in the outgoing parliament.

The chief of the Malaysian Indian Congress, Samy Vellu, lost the seat he had held for 34 years. Many Hindu-Malaysians had blamed Samy Vellu for ignoring the real plight of his fellow minorities to gain favor within the Badawi government of which he was a cabinet member.
"The Hindu American Foundation is gratified that Hindu-Malaysians, who have borne the brunt of Malaysia's discriminatory policies, have been vindicated in their struggle to right the old wrongs," said Dr. Mihir Meghani, President, HAF. "We were one of the few international Hindu organizations who stood firmly behind HINDRAF's struggles this past year, and we look forward to the leaders of HINDRAF being released from prison, allowed to participate freely in public life, and fight for the rights of the long-discriminated Hindu minority."

Malaysian Indians' winter of discontent

Malaysian Indians Winter of Discontent
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Joe Fernandez | Mar 19, 08

'Air tenang jangan disangka tiada buaya' (Don't think there are no crocodiles in the water just because it is still.) The unhappiness has always been there even before Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) emerged in public.

It began well before Malaysia announced the New Economic Policy in 1970, several months after the May 13, 1969 race riots. There were deviations in the policy from the very outset, it is alleged, and this apparently further exacerbated the 150 years of exploitation during the British colonial era.

When you virtually kidnap, which is what the British colonials allegedly did, perfectly-contented people from the freedom of the vast Tamil Nadu countryside and subject them to virtual enslavement in the pressure-cooker of a regimented estate environment, the pressures build up over the century and decades and must eventually find an outlet.

Historically, the vast majority of even voluntary migrants everywhere, since time immemorial, have generally exchanged grinding poverty in the old country for genteel poverty in their new land. That's the perennial lot of the wage-earner. The "smart" Indians in Malaysia, mostly in the towns and some among the planting class in the estates, are the ones that didn't stay when independence came. They came during the days of the British Empire, saved almost every sen they could lay their hands on and went back cash rich to invest in India, taking advantage of the exchange rate.

In the end, no matter where you go in the world, what matters is the exchange rate and how much you can save every month and whether you can eventually return and neutralise your "karma". Others, especially those shanghaied and kept in the estates against their will on a pittance, were trapped when the Empire fell apart.

Then, came the big Hindraf-led demonstration in front of the British High Commission. There are reports which suggest that many of the Hindraf demonstrators were MIC members. Obviously, there are attempts to distance people from Hindraf. The official line proceeds along an all too familiar pathway: criminalisation, demonisation, dehumanisation, neutralisation, isolation, marginalisation and finally elimination. Will that be the end of the government's troubles?

Hindraf claims to represents the voice of the unseen, the unheard, the forgotten, the ones outside the tight-knit MIC ambit which not so long ago expelled the poorest of the poor led by M G Pandithan. Having just one party in the BN to represent the Indians, it seems, no longer works.

Initial eye-opener

The initial eye-opener came, observations show, with an influx of Indian tourists and when Indian IT expatriates started working in Malaysia. These were the new role models. The government's idea, from press reports, is to get at least one million Indians from India's middle class, as large as and richer than the combined populations of France and Germany, to visit Malaysia every year and a further one million from China. Sounds good on paper. Now that India is an emerging economic and military power as well, besides being second only to the US in medicine and IT, the Indian community has been further emboldened to make demands especially since Malaysia is increasingly eyeing India (and China too) economically in the wake of globalisation.

India aside, the issue is simple. Hindraf wants the British government to right the historical wrongs to the Indians in Malaysia, the Tamils in particular, and compensate them as well as issue an official apology from the Queen and the prime minister. The memo was meant to internationalise the issue of religious freedom in Malaysia which, allegedly, is less than satisfactory at the state and local government levels.

Aside from freedom of worship, Hindraf also wants equal rights as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. They are not touching on the special privileges of the Malays because there's no need. Affirmation programmes to correct historical injustices can be within the ambit of the law and the Constitution as long as they do not deviate from an accepted framework and timeframe and do not violate the Constitutional provisions on equality, the fundamental bedrock of colour-blindness.

According to Hindraf, the random demolishing of Hindu temples, allegedly built illegally, has been a growing problem in Malaysia. Hindraf has reportedly threatened a Sri Lanka style situation in Malaysia if the Tamils are further pushed into a corner.

Again, the core fact is that all this would probably not have risen if not for the temple incident in Kampung Rimba Jaya, Selangor, where not only was the temple demolished around Deepavali day, but the idols too were reportedly smashed. Why did they have to smash the idols? That was the last straw, the proverbial one that broke the camel's back.

In the wake of the current flare-up, the former Selangor MB visited Kampung Rimba Jaya and advised the residents to let bygones be bygones and move on. He mentioned compensation of RM40,000 from a developer for the destroyed temple and a new site. It was in the papers (Move forward, Dr Khir tells Kampung Rimba folk . . . New Sunday Times Dec 9, 2007, Page 5) with a picture etc.

There must be no violence on either side no matter what the provocation. The future of the country is at stake. Besides, Government officials must tone down their rhetoric which only further inflames the situation. Don't they realise that when politics comes in through the door, economics flies out through the window? The rational approach is to talk and keep talking. It's not wise to close doors. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. As long as the talking continues, there would be no violence.

Allegations of police brutality

The police are another issue. There are allegations of police brutality against those in custody resulting in unexplained deaths. Apparently, the "smarter" ones among the newly arrived Tamils from the estates have embarked on a life of crime in collusion with the triads to accumulate capital, as much as possible, in the shortest, easiest, quickest time frame This is a well-trodden path taken by many peoples all over the world, since time immemorial, to accumulate capital and eventually get into politics.

At this stage, we are not sure whether the urban middle class Indians are riding on their underclass brethren. Historically, movements for change have always been led by the middle class, not the down-trodden, when something bugs them in their comfort zone.

If there are two things that the Tamils are fanatical about, it is language and religion. The Tamils are even more fanatical than the French over language. That's why the Malaysian government doesn't want to dwell too much on the issue of Tamil schools.

For another, it doesn't mean that just because there are quotas for the Malays everywhere, there should be quotas for the Tamils too. I doubt that the Tamils, apart from the MIC, are really interested in this approach. Does the fate of the Tamils in Malaysia hinge solely on the government? The Tamils are the last people on Earth to protest over jobs, business opportunities and university intake etc. That doesn't mean that these are no serious economic issues.

Somehow, they find their own way in these matters. These matters are just add-ons in the current flare-up, not the real issue. Unless, of course, I am out of touch with the younger generation of Tamils in Malaysia. In that case, there's little difference between Tamil and Malay youth. In fact, no one in the Indian diaspora anywhere in the world has protested over economic issues. Malaysian Tamils are the first to do so and that's what surprises everybody. The temple issue was the catalyst. The "well-off" Indians in Malaysia are of course "ashamed" by the demos etc.

Malaysia has an economy in transition, in the wake of globalisation, and will surely pay a huge economic cost in terms of lost investments, diminished values and higher insurance and business costs, if a picture emerges in the international arena that the country is in the same league as Sri Lanka and Muslim countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan and Somalia. Closer home there are trouble spots like Aceh, the Thai south and the Southern Philippines.

Fifty years after independence, we wonder what the next half century will bring. More of the same?

Pre-occupation with economics

Much of the last 50 years has seen a pre-occupation with economics. This is not surprising considering that Malaysia is a microcosm of the British Empire which was essentially a commercial empire. Globalisation is now seen as the better way forward. The emphasis is on market efficiency, smart partnerships, giving consumers choices rather than allowing governments to protect inefficient industries run by fat cats and cronies, a policy of prosper thy neighbour and the common good that comes from companies, wherever they are, doing good, countries doing good and being a blessing to all. Malaysia surely sees a prosperous Indian community as good for the country.

Malaysia will be pre-occupied with race relations and national unity for the next 50 years. We have a Department of National Unity in the PM's Department run by Dr Maximus Ongkili, the former minister in the PM's Department.

They tend to focus on a lot of cosmetic programmes. What they need to work on is substance. My recent SMS to Dr Max reads: "At present, there is too much lip service when it comes to national unity. As one who has dear relatives and friends among all races and religions, I venture that national unity is of paramount importance and will hinge on two major factors viz. tak kenal, maka tak cinta; and parents and teachers must not transfer their prejudices to their children. Perhaps this is something that your department can take up urgently, starting with our police, the press, politicians and PTAs."

I would add that a third factor would be instituting a culture of sharing and caring. Now, greed and materialism gets in the way. I am happy to see the Malays, or others for that matter, doing well. I think it will be good for the country. The same sentiments cannot be detected in the Indian community. When they see others forging ahead while they lag behind, their anger and frustration knows no bounds and borders on the explosive.

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad did say before he retired that he has put everything in place for the next century or so. "Only a congenital idiot would ruin everything," he said. A house divided against itself cannot stand and must surely fall!"

Man proposes, God disposes

On a personal level, the Indians can take a leaf from the Chinese in their winter of discontent and not give in to negativity. Man proposes, God disposes. This is not a case of talk being cheap or easier said than done. There are deep spiritual truths here. Always be thankful and grateful and there will be more opportunities to be thankful and grateful for. Look for the silver lining in the clouds, consider everything that happens as a blessing in disguise and always count your blessings. Opportunities often come disguised as problems. You cannot keep a good man down.

For starters, one cannot insist on having the cake and eating it too. Tamil education, up to Year 6, was started by the British colonialists not only to keep the community in the estates in perpetuity but to turn out better tappers.

Obviously, the lack of language skills create a communication gap with other Malaysians and even the syndrome best expressed by the Malay saying: "Seperti katak di bawah tempurung" (The frog under the coconut shell thinks that is the world.). There needs to be greater interaction between Indians and non-Indians in all spheres of national life. It's a great loss to the nation if the Indians keep away from others, either deliberately, or because they have no choice in the matter. Already, there is polarisation between Muslims and non-Muslims thanks to the 911 tragedy in New York.

The unrest in Malaysia sounds all too suspiciously like similar eruptions elsewhere in the world in the wake of globalisation. The influx of foreign workers, both legal and illegal, from neighbouring countries has had a negative effect on Indian jobs and depressed wages. Indian unrest should not be allowed to spill over into the other communities. The stresses and strains are evident in Malaysia after 50 years of "nation building". It's a brave new world out there.
JOE FERNANDEZ is an educationist and former newspaper editor who feels compelled to put pen to paper when something doesn't quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview). He readily admits that there's a demon in him at these times, urging him on. Otherwise, he's working quietly on a semi-autobiographical travelogue, and teaching English privately.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Penang Malay protest compared with Hindraf Rose Rally

Penang Malay Protest Vs Indian Hindraf Rose Rally -- See Police
Treatment Photos juxtaposed.

Compare the police non-violence in the Malay protest versus the brutal treatment of Indians in the Rose Rally

Read this doc on Scribd: penanghindraf

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rally in San Francisco on March 22, 2008 in support of Hindraf

HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION: Malaysian rights rally in San Francisco
Sat, 15/03/2008 - 13:46 — admin HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION
Malaysian rights rally in San Francisco

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is throwing its support behind a rally planned to take place in front of the United Nations Plaza in San Francisco, California on Saturday, March 22, 2008. The rally, organized by American Hindus with familial ties to Malaysia, is to support human rights in Malaysia.

The organizers are calling for an end to the apartheid policies of the Malaysian government that favor ethnic Malay Muslims over other ethnic groups, and are demanding an immediate end to the destruction of Hindu Temples. The rally will also mark the 100th day of the unjust and unlawful detention of 5 leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), who were jailed after they led a non-violent protest in the nation's capital in late November.

Venue: United Nations Plaza in San Francisco, CA (at the intersection of Market & Hyde)

Date/Time: Saturday, March 22, 2008 from 10a.m. – 1p.m.

Contact: Bhuvan Govindasamy

The Hindu American Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism. Contact HAF at 1-301-770-7835 or on the web at

Friday, March 14, 2008

Penang Malay Protest Vs Indian Hindraf Rose Rally -- See Police Treatment Photos

Photos: Penang Malay Protest Vs Indian Hindraf Rose Rally -- See Police Treatment

How genuine is the Malaysian Indian's complaint of discrimination and police brutalities. Check out these telling photos

Have a look at these photos of the and decide for yourself

March 14 protests in Penang at the KOMTAR area by Penang Malays -- See Police Action (or rather Non-Action)

And compare with the police high handedness here (tear gas, chemical laced water etc)
Feb 18th Hindraf Rose Rally

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From Malaysia, IPS: "The opposition benches are infested with bloggers"

March 13, 2008
From IPS: "The opposition benches are infested with bloggers"

BN = Barisan Sosialis???

MEDIA-MALAYSIA: Bloggers On Opposition Benches
Analysis by Kalinga Seneviratne

SINGAPORE, Mar 13 (IPS) - The presence of five bloggers on opposition benches in Malaysia’s newly elected parliament must be galling for the ruling National Front (NF) coalition, which was returned to power in Saturday’s general elections minus its long-held two-thirds majority.

Internationally renowned blogger Jeff Ooi, a 52-year-old former advertising copywriter, won a seat in the western island state of Penang, while Oxford University economics graduate Tony Pua, 34, claimed a seat in the bustling Kuala Lumpur suburb of Petaling Jaya with over a majority of over 19,000 votes. Both were candidates of the left-leaning Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Wining seats in state parliaments for the multi-racial Parti Kadilan Rakyat (PKR) were prominent bloggers Nik Azmi Nik Ahmed and Elizabeth Wong, a noted human rights activist and media reforms advocate. Tian Chua, a former political prisoner under the notorious Internal Security Act, was another claimant to a seat in the national parliament.

The only prominent blogger who lost a fight was Badrul Hisham Shaharin, who contested a semi-rural constituency south of Kuala Lumpur and lost to Khairy Jamaluddin, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s controversial son-in-law.

Prem Chandran, chief of the Internet news portal Malaysiakini, argues that the Internet had a major influence on the election outcome because the issues which make a difference, such as corruption and interference in the judiciary, were only carried on news sites like theirs.

There were large swings in urban and semi-urban areas, especially (to opposition) among first-time young voters, Chandran told IPS. Internet, he said, allowed political parties to reach out to a very important constituency which was non-existent in previous elections.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, owner of, argues that the Internet’s biggest contribution was to get the middle-class to the ballot box. The opposition is infested with bloggers noted Raja Petra in an interview with Singapore’s ‘Strait Times’.

Alternative media cured the apathy the middle-class has. They were no longer saying: ‘’Let’s not bother. Suddenly, it was let’s go and give the opposition a chance.’’

Denying the NF (or Barisan Socialis) coalition two-thirds majority in the national parliament, which the party enjoyed for the past 40 years, is seen as a major victory for the opposition. The opposition also won majorities in five state parliaments, an act never before accomplished in Malaysia. Nationally, the government won only 51 percent of the vote and in fact would have lost the elections if not for the slew of seats they retained in the eastern Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah.

It was direct access to the Internet in urban areas -- ironically, because of the government’s policy of developing a Multimedia Super Corridor -- that allowed urban voters to access information not available in the government-controlled mainstream media.

Chandran pointed out that apart from the Internet, the use of SMS (telephone text messages) and photocopiers took information rural electorates, bridging the digital divide. He also said that Malaysiakini’s Internet-streamed television programmes were copied on to VCDs and circulated for viewing in rural homes (where VCD machines are popular).

More than the Internet, SMSs played a critical role in spreading the opposition message, says Sankaran Ramanathan, managing partner of Media Plus Research Consultants. Because rural people now have mobile phones, it was easy to break the urban-rural barrier.

"There were Internet groups which exchanged messages via e-mail, especially among the Hindu (Indian minority) community… I know at least half a dozen users," Ramanathan told IPS. "They were not registered organisations and were urban based. There were similar groups among the (minority) Chinese community," he added.

Ramanathan pointed out that both the information minister and his deputy were beaten by opposition candidates promoted by the Internet media.

Though Malaysia’s mainstream newspapers, radio and television, are mainly private-owned, their licenses are held by business people closely connected with the constituent parties of the NF.

But analysts argue that the poor reputation that Malaysia’s newspapers have, as mouthpieces of coalition parties, worked against them, and in favour of alternative media.

Malaysian mainstream media are directed and constrained by two interrelated entities; the state and the market, argues Zaharom Nain, associated professor of communication studies at the Science University of Malaysia. Through direct and indirect ownership there tends to be collusion between the state and the market.

What the alternative media has done, according to Nain, is improvise communication systems using a combination of the Internet, mobile phones, blogs, e-mails, SMS and the YouTube. They were not only used effectively by opposition parties but also by civil society to raise consciousness and create awareness, he noted.

Chandran feels the government may now be tempted to impose sanctions on the Internet media to protect them from further damage as Singapore has done. They have a tough decisions ahead of them, Chandran said, adding that it was best if they adopted path of reform by opening up the media and cracking down on corruption -- changes that people obviously want.

Ramanathan believes that the government will not take to the repressive path simply because they have already tried to take bloggers to courts, without much success, and failed in its attempts to police the Internet.

Gayathri Venkiteswaran, executive director of the Centre for Independent Journalism, believes that with five opposition-led state governments taking office in Malaysia it was now possible to completely reform the media scene.

‘’State governments can allocate grants and other financial support for communities to have their own newspapers and media, paving the way for more diverse and dynamic expression of views and exchange of information,’’ she said.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mahathir's unfair attack on Samy Vellu

Former PM Mahathir's unfair attack on Samy Vellu

Samy Vellu: Did he speak up or not?

Denison Jayasooria | Mar 7, 08 8:12pm

MIC President S Samy Vellu has been facing many attacks from all sides in recent days. These attacks have intensified especially in the post-Hindraf rally in November last year and during the 2008 election campaigning period now.

Samy Vellu has been very skilled in avoiding the venom from the sting of the darts. This he has done through aggressive rebuttals in press conferences, adverts in papers and dissemination of information. At the same time he has not shied away from the angry crowds whom he calls as his people when they want to talk him.

With these direct approaches, there is a definite softening of the heart of ordinary people except diehard Indian opposition members in the run up to polling day.
However the attack by Dr Mahathir Mohamad two days before polling is really uncalled for. Furthermore to say that 'Samy Vellu did not ask for assistance' is totally unbecoming of a former prime minister whom we hold so dearly.

I do agree with Mahathir that Samy Vellu would not have highlighted the Hindraf position on 'genocide' or 'ethnic cleansing' which is an argument that MIC does not subscribe to and an argument used by Hindraft only recently. MIC has also not subscribed to the Malay dominance theory nor questioned the position of the specific privileges for the Malay community.

However time and time again, Samy Vellu has been consistent in highlighting the plight of the poorer sections of the Indian community on specific matters related to:
Plantation workers their monthly wages, displacement, social conditions and retraining

On matters related to the Tamil language and Tamil schools especially in the infrastructure requirements

On the weak economic position of Malaysian Indians especially with reference to the equity position

On the inability of Indian youths to secure adequate places in higher education

On the requirement of foreign workers by Indian business community especially restaurant owners, textile shops, provision shops, jewelers, barbers and metal traders

On the issues related to Indian youth, social ills and gang-related problems and the need for social intervention programmes

On the issues pertaining to the urban poor and low income families with regards to housing, welfare, public facilities in high density low cost housing areas.
Gross misrepresentation

The Yayasan Strategik Sosial was established by the MIC in 1997 and we have prepared many papers for consideration at the Second Economic Consultative Committee, Input into the Third Outline Perspective Plan, Eighth Malaysia Plan and Ninth Malaysia Plan. These are also in record to show the submissions indicating the status, plight and requirements of the poorer sections of the community.

All these were directed and commissioned by Samy Vellu who has played a very important role in policy advocacy on behalf of the Indian community within the government.

During every MIC AGM attended by Mahathir, a whole list of community needs and concerns were presented as the presidential address by the MIC president. MIC clearly articulated the issues and concerns. Furthermore the MIC general assembly resolutions have also systematically highlighted all the major concerns of the community. These were submitted to all the relevant government agencies.

Therefore, to say that the MIC president has not asked for assistance is gross misrepresentation of a man who has been very vocal in all the meetings he has participated in. How is it, that Najib Abdul Razak could make a public declaration on Feb 3, 2008 at the PWTC that Samy Vellu fights for the community in the cabinet?
'So, if people accuse Dato Seri Samy Vellu of not fighting for the Indian community, I will be the first to deny, because he has fought for Indians. He has fought hard for the Indian community. He is very colourful in his presentation. And he does that because he is the leader of the MIC and of the Indian community,' said Najib.

Delivery of services

In my assessment it is only fair and just to acknowledge that Samy Vellu has spoken up on all the critical matters affecting the community. The government has acknowledged these concerns as reflected in the appropriate action of the government in the time of Mahathir such as the providing of financial assistance for the rebuilding of Tamil schools, funds for the purchase of Tafe college and the building of the Aimst University.

In addition, government established the Cabinet Committee on Urban Poverty and also another cabinet committee to address the squatter issue in the Klang valley. The initial work by the cabinet committee on addressing social ills in the community was re-established as the National Social Council. These were major policy drives at the national level recognising the Indian concerns along with those of other communities.
The Indian community's concerns and the uprising of the grassroots is over their dissatisfaction on the monitoring and the delivery of services. There are however clear indications in the Eighth and Ninth Malaysia Plans and the government has executed programmes such as skills-training for underachieving Indian youths through Giat Mara or micro-business training and access to micro-business loans.

However there is an urgent need through the Mid-Term Review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan to enlarge the outreach and ensure a much larger number of youths are able to access the services and provisions.

Furthermore, as promised by both the prime minister and deputy prime minister, the Indian concerns of the lower thirty percent must be addressed as national concerns. This, I believe, should be the main agenda for the post-2008 elections.

DATUK DR DENISON JAYASOORIA heads the Yayasan Strategik Sosial (YSS), the social initiatives arm of the MIC.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Vellu and Badawi will quit only kicking and screaming !

Some people like Samy Vellu, Badawi will only quit office, kicking and screaming!

samy vellu's next step

KUALA LUMPUR 10 March 2008: Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has pledged to continue serving the Indian community in his capacity as MIC president.

In a statement yesterday, Samy Vellu said he would restructure and rebuild the party.

Samy Vellu, who was defeated in the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat, said that he was not unhappy.

He thanked the voters for giving him the opportunity to serve them since 1974.

"All good things have to come to an end but there is always a new beginning.

"We accept the people's verdict because they are the ones who matter."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Badawi fails to gauge public anger; he should release Hindraf leaders and then resign.

Malaysia PM fails to gauge public anger (The Hindu, March 10, 2008)

KUALA LUMPUR (AP): Malaysia's prime minister may have made his biggest political blunder by calling early elections that only exposed public anger over simmering racial tensions and his perceived missteps.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in Monday for a new five-year term in office, following a stinging defeat by his ruling coalition in general elections. Abdullah is rejecting calls to step down, but analysts say Saturday's poll results will place Abdullah under pressure to resign.

``He misread the signs. A lot of people were voting against Badawi,'' said Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a human rights lawyer and political commentator. ``He became the face of the mismanagement of the country.''

Abdullah's National Front coalition lost its two-thirds majority in the 222-member parliament for the first time in four decades, winning only a simple majority of 140 seats.

The opposition gained control of five of Malaysia's 13 states and a third of its parliament in the biggest electoral upset in the country's history.

The results were seen as a verdict against a string of perceived missteps by Abdullah, 68, and his failure to fulfill promises made ahead of the 2004 elections, which the National Front won in its biggest victory ever.

Among those missteps, analysts said, Abdullah ignored Malaysia's widening poverty gap and increasing cost of living. He appointed his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin as an adviser. And when the southern state of Johor was struggling after floods in 2006, Abdullah was in Perth to inaugurate his brother's curry restaurant.

Abdullah also has faced criticism for remarrying less than two years after his first wife died of cancer and engaging in public displays of affection with his new wife.

``At a time when the country is crumbling around us we have to watch his lovey-dovey going-ons with his wife,'' said Malik. ``People don't want to see a lovable teddy bear. They want a tough leader.''

Abdullah's next big test will come later this year when he faces the general assembly of the United Malays National Organization, the largest party in the National Front coalition. A date has not yet been set.

``The reality is that there will be tremendous pressure within UMNO for him (Abdullah) to step down,'' said Bridget Welsh of the Johns Hopkins University, a Southeast Asia expert who was in Malaysia to monitor the polls.

Former longtime leader Mahathir Mohamad already has called for Abdullah's resignation, saying he had ``apparently made the wrong choice'' when he hand-picked Abdullah to succeed him in 2003.

Mahathir's son Mukhriz, an active member of UMNO, joined the call.

``The message is clear from the results of the elections. That's the voice of the people. We have to respect it. It is a very humbling experience and points to dissatisfaction of the prime minister's leadership,'' he said.

The Front's formula for success all these years was simple. It is a coalition of 11 small parties and three major ones that represent Malaysia's main ethnic groups _ the majority Muslim Malays who make up 60 percent of the 27 million population, the Chinese at 25 percent and Indians at 8 percent.

Traditionally, Malays have voted for UMNO, the Chinese for the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Indians for the Malaysian Indian Congress.

The power-sharing arrangement has worked as long as the three races believed only their parties could look after their respective communities' interests. But the minorities have become increasingly disappointed with their parties.

The Chinese and Indians are angry about an affirmative action program known as the New Economic Policy that has given Malays preference in jobs, education, business, housing, finance and religion since 1971.

They also worry that their religious rights are being eroded by the government. Several Indian temples were destroyed by authorities last year, purportedly for illegal construction, and many courts presiding over religious disputes ruled in favor of Muslims.

Ordinary Malays also are unhappy, many charging that the benefits of the New Economic Policy are being reaped only by rich and well-connected Malays.

Repressive police tactics have further aggravated racial tensions. In October, officers dispersed thousands of people with tear gas and water cannons at a street protest for electoral and judicial reforms.

A month later, Indian demonstrators were chased away by police when they held a rally to protest discrimination. Five of their leaders were jailed under a law that allows indefinite detention without trial.

These tensions were tapped by the opposition parties, which for the first time set aside their ideological differences and came together to pose a united challenge. They countered National Front propaganda in government-controlled media with campaigns on the Internet.

In the end, the Indian and Chinese minorities abandoned the National Front in droves. MCA, the Chinese party, won only 15 of the 40 seats it contested, and the Indian MIC won three out of nine. UMNO won only 78 seats compared to 109 in 2004.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim campaigned on a platform that urged people to look outside race-based politics. Although the opposition parties are also identified by race, they have agreed to build a multiracial alliance where all races will be treated equally.

``What is crucial now is how the opposition works as a coalition,'' Welsh said. ``The mandate given to them has created a national opposition for the first time.''

Anwar to fight Malaysia race laws as opposition gains -- Bloomberg

Anwar to Fight Malaysia Race Laws as Opposition Gains (Update2)
By Douglas Wong
March 10 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia's political world has been upended. The March 8 election left the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hobbled though still in power, its legalized system of preferences for ethnic Malays under attack.
When the dust settles, the most powerful man in Southeast Asia's third-largest economy may be opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister. Anwar, 60, spent the 2004 election in prison after being ousted from the government and prosecuted on criminal charges -- later overturned -- of having homosexual relations.
The ruling National Front coalition's worst-ever performance will force Abdullah, 68, to face Anwar's emboldened opposition as it presses to scrap race rules that disadvantage ethnic Chinese and Indians in housing, jobs and education. The opposition also wants to increase aid for the poor and fight corruption.
Once all but written off, Anwar now is well positioned to become prime minister eventually, said Eddin Khoo, the director of Pusaka, a Malay cultural studies center. ``It probably won't be until the next election,'' Khoo said. ``This vote was more anti-government than pro-opposition, but he's here to stay.''
The opposition parties yesterday quickly moved to implement their policies, announcing plans to drop race rules in a state where they won control -- Selangor, which is Malaysia's most populous area and surrounds the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
1969 Loss
For now, Malaysia is in uncharted territory, with the government facing meaningful opposition for the first time since 1969, when the National Front, also known as Barisan Nasional, last was denied a two-thirds supermajority in parliament.
After winning 91 percent of the legislature in 2004, the National Front won just 63 percent this time, worse than its 1969 performance by three percentage points. In the new parliament, the National Front will have 140 of the 222 seats.
Malaysia's stock index today slumped as much as 7.6 percent, set for the biggest drop in almost 10 years, and the ringgit weakened.
The opposition alliance -- Anwar's multiethnic People's Justice Party, the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS -- won the remaining 82 seats, up from 19. Among the losers were Indian and Chinese leaders in Abdullah's Malay-dominated government. Five of 12 states contested fell into opposition hands, including Penang, a manufacturing base for Intel Corp. and Motorola Inc.
Anwar got his start in politics as a student activist at the University of Malaya and helped found the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, many of whose members supported PAS.
Malay Champion
He shocked allies in 1982 by joining the United Malays National Organisation, the Malay party that heads the National Front. For a time, he championed the pro-Malay policies he now opposes.
After successfully backing UMNO's Mahathir Mohamad for prime minister, Anwar rose to became deputy prime minister in 1993. In 1998, Mahathir fired Anwar amidst speculation that the deputy was moving to oust him, eventually choosing Abdullah as his successor instead.
Imprisoned from 1998 to 2004, Anwar was barred from competing as a candidate until April and didn't run. He plans to take one of 31 seats won by his members of his party, including wife Wan Azizah Ismail and daughter Nurul Izzah, 27.
``I have plenty of choices and a lot of work to do,'' he said in an interview yesterday.
Najib Razak
The opposition benefited from attacks on Abdullah's administration by Mahathir, 82, who said the prime minister should step down in favor of his deputy, Najib Razak, 54. ``I made the wrong choice,'' Mahathir told reporters yesterday, calling for Abdullah to take responsibility for the losses by stepping down.
The state-owned Bernama news agency said Abdullah won't resign because he has the support of UMNO leaders, including Najib.
The prime minister was sworn in by Malaysia's King, Mizan Zainal Abidin at 11:15 a.m. local time today. Abdullah will meet the supreme council of UMNO at 12 p.m., and gather leaders of the coalition parties at 3 p.m.
An adviser to the prime minister said Abdullah probably will step down in favor of Najib before the next election, due within five years. The adviser, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified, said Abdullah will try to rebuild the coalition first.
Challenging Task
That will be a challenging task, said Mushtaq Ibrahim, who manages about $1.4 billion at Amanah SSCM Asset Management Bhd. When UMNO and its partners -- the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress -- lost their supermajority in 1969, they regained it by persuading some opposition parties to join their coalition.
``You now have three very weak component parties,'' Mushtaq said. ``They have to go back to the drawing board to find ways of winning back the confidence of the voters.''
Malaysia was calm in the immediate aftermath of the election. In 1969, Chinese opposition celebrations were followed by clashes that killed hundreds and prompted the government to impose pro-Malay preferences. This year, Abdullah urged supporters to accept the results. Musa Hassan, the country's police chief, promised to maintain order by enforcing a ban on victory parades.
To contact the reporter on this story: Douglas Wong in Kuala Lumpur at
Last Updated: March 9, 2008 23:24 EDT

Badawi, read the writing on the wall; release Hindraf leaders, quit politics

MIC - A new era begins
RK Anand | Mar 10, 08 1:35am
On March 8, MIC president S Samy Vellu turned 72. It was also the day the curtain fell on his political era.
After nearly three decades in power, the politician who commanded a cult-like following in his party was defeated in the fortress where he reigned for nine terms.
It was a cleansing of MIC's top echelon. The casualties included deputy president G Palanivel, vice-president S Sothinathan, Youth chief S A Vigneswaran and Women's wing chief P Komala Devi.
The party only managed to retain three out of nine parliamentary seats and six out of 19 state seats. The message was loud and clear.
According to Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) president P Sivakumar, this could signal the birth of a new era for MIC.
But firstly, he said, the party must conduct an in-depth analysis to determine the reasons behind its crushing defeat.
"When you fall, you must pick yourself up and look at the reasons as to why you fell so that you do not fall again," he told Malaysiakini yesterday.
Likening the damage inflicted on MIC to the destruction brought about by the Sept 11 terror attacks, he said it also served as a lesson for the younger generation of leaders.
The factors
Sivakumar said the first, and most important, factor which contributed to the devastation of MIC was the advent of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and the wave of discontent it created.
On Nov 25 last year, some 30,000 disgruntled Indians took the streets to vent their frustration against the government and MIC, namely its president.
"These were not the voices of a few hundred, but tens of thousands of people. Many organisations also came out to help MIC and the government on this issue, but no immediate attention was given, except for some assurances," he said.
MIC - to the chagrin of the community - had also joined the government in condemning the Hindraf movement whose five key leaders are now held under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Another factor, Sivakumar said, was the silencing and removing of dissenting voices in MIC, including Samy Vellu's former estranged deputy S Subramaniam.
"Thousands of Subramaniam's supporters were left in the lurch and they also expressed their anger in this polls," he noted.
Thirdly, the Miba president pointed out that the manifestos of the opposition parties, which stressed on equality, were also well received by the Indians.
"The Indian community is not questioning the special rights and the privileges accorded to the Malays, but just want their due rights and equal opportunities as citizens of this country," he said.
The future
On the future of MIC, Sivakumar said the most important issue to address now was unity in the party.
"MIC must look into the possibility of bringing those on the outside back into the fold in order to strengthen the party," he added.
Asked if this included Subramaniam, he responded: "Why not? He has a large following and he was the longest serving deputy president."
Subramaniam, whose ties with Samy Vellu had been strained for years, was defeated in the 2006 party polls by Palanivel, who was endorsed by the president.
Meanwhile, Sivakumar also stressed on the importance of MIC to craft a new image for itself.
"The party must break free from the image of violence and thuggery. It must become a party which is willing to accept constructive criticisms and feedback
"A conducive environment must be created to attract the thousands of well-educated and talented Indians in the community who prefer to speak freely about issues," he said.
"We need a large number of dynamic young minds to chart the future course of the party. More bureaus must be set up to look into the critical issues facing the community instead of leaving it in the hands of one or two think-tanks," he added.
Still relevant
Sivakumar also reminded MIC leaders that the younger generation of Indians are more aware of their rights.
In view of this, he said the party must create a leadership which blends the experience of the veterans with the dynamism and talents of the young.
On that note, the Miba president also stressed that MIC was still a relevant political force in the country.
"BN (Barisan Nasional) is still ruling the country, so MIC is still relevant. We must not forget that the founding fathers had entered into a social contract between MIC, Umno and MCA. MIC is still a good platform for the Indian community," he said.
Sivakumar advised the younger leaders in MIC to pay heed to the valuable lessons from this tragic episode for the party.
"Do not cull talents because of rivalry. MIC is a powerful party, talents must be nurtured and not expunged," he said, adding that the ball was now in the president's court.
"This is a new beginning for MIC. Samy Vellu's next step is crucial," he stressed.
Agreeing with Sivakumar, a party observer said the younger leaders must also realise that they cannot afford to ignore the voice and sentiments of the people.
"Samy Vellu had given the kiss of life to the political careers of the leaders in MIC and now he has taken it away. These leaders have learned, albeit bitterly, the true meaning of democracy," he said.
"From the ruins of yesterday, hopefully a new and more vibrant MIC will rise tomorrow. A party which the Indians will once again embrace," he added.

Samy's conqueror: It feels great!
RK Anand | Mar 10, 08 4:02am
A 'confluence of forces' had made it possible to defeat MIC president S Samy Vellu in his stronghold, said his victor Dr D Jeyakumar.
On Saturday, the 53-year-old physician staged a major upset by knocking out the 72-year-old politician on his birthday in the contest for the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat - which the latter held since 1974.
Asked how this felt, Jeyakumar replied: "It feels great!"
The Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leader who stood under the PKR banner had contested against the MIC president and former works minister on two previous occasions.
This time around, Jeyakumar conceded that his opponent, whom he regards as formidable, had been weakened by other factors.
The PSM pro-tem central committee member also admitted that he did not expect to win. "We cannot take full credit for everything," he told Malaysiakini yesterday.
"We went in as the underdog but his (Samy Vellu) credibility had eroded terribly among the Indian voters," he said.
The MIC president's influence in the Indian community had waned in the wake of the Nov 25 rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
Low-key campaign
Jeyakumar also acknowledged that Samy Vellu's campaign this time around was rather low key compared to the previous elections.
He said apart from the Hindraf factor, the work PSM had done on the ground in the constituency over the past decade as well as the hard work of the volunteers also contributed to his victory.
On top of that, he said the strong DAP candidate for the state seat and the cooperation from PAS also helped.
"The swing against BN (Barisan Nasional) was stronger than anticipated. BN has been taking the people for granted," said the PSM leader who saw an increase of support among all three races.
Jeyakumar, who is being flooded with congratulatory messages from all over the country, also revealed that he had received several death threats.
"We are concerned and are taking the necessary precautions," he said.
'We went all out'
On his plans for this term, Jeyakumar, who is still settling into his new role as a parliamentarian, replied: "I intend to bring the problems faced by the common man to Parliament."
"This elections has shown that ideology is still relevant," he added.
His wife and campaign manager R Rani said she was "delighted and overwhelmed" by the victory in what she described as "not an easy seat to win" due to the alleged underhand tactics employed by their rival.
However, the PSM pro-tem central committee member said that during the course of the campaign, there were positive vibes from all the races indicating the possibility of upstaging the incumbent.
"He (Samy Vellu) never expected to lose just like how we never expected to win," said Rani, adding that PSM "went all out" this time around.
Jeyakumar had defeated Samy Vellu with a 1,821 majority. In the 2004 polls, he lost to the MIC president by more than 10,000 votes.

Voters played the race card

Monday • March 10, 2008


IT was the day the Malays failed Umno.

The Malays — apart from their Kelantanese brethren — were to have been the Umno-led Barisan Nasional's (BN) last bastion of support even as the coalition braced itself for massive rejection by Chinese and Indian voters in the general election.

The conventional wisdom was that the Malays had no major quarrel with the government and would provide the votes needed to help Umno and the BN retain its two-third parliamentary majority as well as control of all local governments in most, if not all, states.

Yet, desert Umno the Malays did — in numbers large enough to enable the unthinkable to happen: BN losing control of the state governments in Kedah, Selangor and Perak to the loose opposition coalition comprising the Democratic Action Party (DAP); Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

The loss of support for BN from the Chinese and Indian communities were expected due to several reasons, from concerns over inflation and rising crime, which also affected the Malays, to worries over "creeping Islamisation" in Malaysia at the expense of the other religions.

And, of course, there was the "Hindraf effect".

The street protests led by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) might have started out with the goal of airing the Indian community's grievances but many Chinese could also empathise with their complaint that the country's pro-bumiputera policy has denied non-Malays fair access to jobs, education and housing.

But if the non-Malays' swing against the BN was expected, the Malays' considerable support for the opposition parties appeared to have caught even the Umno leadership by surprise.

Bread-and-butter issues aside, some analysts attributed it to the Anwar Ibrahim factor, crediting him with the ability to convince fence-sitters that Malay interests would not be neglected even if they were to vote the opposition parties.

Umno also had its own party infighting to blame for its losses.

In Kedah, Umno was divided into two camps, one led by supporters of former Premier Mahathir Mohamad and the other by former Mentri Besar Mahdzir Khalid. In several other states, many Umno members reportedly refused to campaign for BN candidates who had been "parachuted" into their constituencies.

Mr Ibrahim Suffian, the programmes director of the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, told the Malaysiavotes news portal: "From the dissolution of Parliament till Nomination Day, the bickering and horse-trading between Umno candidates started the erosion in Malay support.

"The attack on Anwar and the belated attempt to go on an offensive further pushed the Malay electorate away from BN."
Badawi refuses to resign after a stunning electoral reversal (The Hindu, March 9, 2008)
Kuala Lumpur (PTI): In a stunning electoral reversal, Malaysia's ruling coalition that had alienated ethnic-Indians failed to secure a 2/3 majority for the first time in five decades and was defeated in five states, prompting demands for premier Abdullah Badawi resignation but he remained defiant.
Badawi on Sunday said he will not resign as he is not under pressure to do so, the state-run Bernama news agency said after his predecessor and mentor Mahathir Mohammed joined the chorus pressing for his ouster following the Barisan Nasional's win in only 139 seats in the 222-member Parliament.
Badawi's gamble for a snap poll backfired as the coalition came up with its worst ever electoral performance, losing power in four out of 12 states for the first time-- Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Perak. The opposition retained its hold on the Kelantan state
The opposition parties together have won 82 seats compared to only 19 in the outgoing parliament.
Among the key losses to Barisan were the president of the Malaysian Indian Congress Samy Vellu, the lone ethnic Indian in the cabinet who had derided the street protests by the community against alleged racial discrimination.
The MIC won only three of the nine parliamentary seats and and seven of the 19 state seats allocated to it. The party was wiped out in the states of Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor.
The ethnic Indian voters, who form nearly 8 per cent of Malaysia's 27 million population, helped the opposition win more mixed seats, Jenison Jayasooria, Executive Director of MIC's think tank Yayasan Strategic Sosial said.
M Manoharan, one of the five Hindraf leaders held under a draconian security law that allows indefinite detention without trial for spearheading protests by ethnic Indians, won convincingly on DAP ticket.

He's staying, for now

Exclusion of 'favourite man' Radzi from the Cabinet may signal Pak Lah's exit: Analyst

Monday • March 10, 2008

Nazry Bahrawi in Kuala Lumpur

READ his lips: Pak Lah is not resigning.

"I don't know who is being pressured to step down, I'm not resigning," Malaysia Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told a news conference early yesterday, after his Umno-led Barisan Nasional suffered its worst defeat in nearly 40 years.

Despite his denial, several analysts believe that Mr Abdullah's resignation is inevitable — the only question is when.

Journalism lecturer and political observer Wong Chin Huat believes that Mr Abdullah will negotiate with the Umno leadership for a graceful exit. He said: "Abdullah may negotiate a dignified exit like Malaysia's first Prime Minister Tengku Abdul Rahman did in 1969 — the first time the ruling coalition was denied a two-third parliamentary majority."

Arguing that there will be "enormous pressure" for Mr Abdullah to resign, political analyst Dr Farish A Noor of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said: "This election is a mandate for Abdullah and his performance for the past four years. Now, the Malaysian public has sent the message that he has failed."

Dr Farish also believes that Deputy Prime Minister and Umno deputy president Najib Razak will launch a more aggressive bid to secure his position as the next Prime Minister.

Mr Najib scored a personal triumph by securing a 26,000-vote majority in his Pekan seat in Pahang, an increase of about 3,000 votes from the 2004 polls. Mr Abdullah himself won his Kepala Batas seat with a reduced majority of about 11,000 votes, down from the more than 18,000-vote majority in 2004.

However, Dr Farish added: "Even if he (Najib) were to assume power, the Umno would still suffer a crisis.

"Its leaders have lost credibility."

Mr Wong believes that the shape of the new Cabinet — whether it will include those close to Mr Abdullah, such as his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and Home Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad — will offer some clues as to when the Premier may resign.

Mr Wong said: "If he (Radzi) is out from the Cabinet, then it would be a strong indicator that Pak Lah is losing control. He is Pak Lah's favourite man."

As for Mr Khairy, "I would be surprised if he could get a full ministership. He would probably be brought in as frontbencher."

As Mr Abdullah grapples with his political future, another question on the minds of many will be whether the BN's loss of its two-third majority in Parliament will scare away investors?

Ms Tricia Yeoh, of the Centre of Public Policy Studies in Kuala Lumpur, said: "Investors are going to wait and see what is happening on ground level before making any decision." She believes investors will have a clear picture of Malaysia's new political dynamics only in about a year or so.

However, Mr Wong believes that the rise of opposition state governments in Penang, Kedah, Selangor and Perak may encourage even more foreign investments.

This is because the opposition parties would want the states under their control to be become a model of success so that they can win even more seats in the next general election, he said.