24 August, 2014

Western media’s biased coverage of the war on Gaza irrational, academics says.

 TEHRAN TIMES - By Kourosh Ziabari
As Israel continues its massive military aggression against the Gaza Strip, which has already cost the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians, the international condemnation of the atrocities committed by the Tel Aviv regime and its cruel massacre of the unarmed citizens of the besieged Gaza grows steadily. 
 
Just recently, a group of Jewish scholars, most of whom were born in the Occupied Territories and teaching at the Israeli universities, have signed a petition, calling on the government of Benjamin Netanyahu to stop its deadly incursion into the coastal territory. 
 
A prominent anti-Zionist Israeli historian and intellectual, who is best known for his outspoken criticism of the Israeli government and his opposition to the occupation of Palestinian territories, believes that the Western mainstream media are giving a lopsided and unfair coverage to the war on Gaza, which has many different reasons, including the influence of the Israeli lobby and the fear of these media outlets of being branded anti-Semitist. 
 

In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times, Prof. Ilan Pappé said that Zionism has reduced Judaism "into a narrow minded ethno-nationalism that depended on the success of a colonialist project."
 
Ilan Pappé is a political activist, historian and professor at the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter, Britain. He is also the director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, and co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies. From 1984 to 2007, he was a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. A former member of Israel's Hadash Party, he was the party's candidate for the parliament (Knesset) elections in 1996 and 1999. In 2012, he published the book "The Bureaucracy of Evil: The History of the Israeli Occupation" that was released by the Oneworld Publications.
 
Prof. Pappé responded to our questions on the recent Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip and the historical, legal aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The following is the text of the interview. 
 
Q: It was reported that Israel launched its military incursion into the Gaza Strip after Hamas allegedly kidnapped and killed three young Israeli settlers. So far, more than 2,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered in the month-long conflict. Do you consider this mass killing in such a broad extent, and the obliteration of the civilian infrastructure of the Gaza Strip a logical, proportionate and justifiable response to the kidnapping of three Israeli citizens, while there isn't still reliable evidence showing that the abduction was done by Hamas?
 
A: No, of course not and the destruction of Gaza is not really a retaliation to the abduction and killing of the three settlers. The incident was a pretext for implementing a policy that was formulated long time ago towards the Gaza Strip; a geopolitical area of Palestine for which Israel has no clear policy. It manages, at least in its own eyes, quite successfully, the rest - 98 percent - of Palestine. It imposes harsh restrictions on the Palestinian minority inside Israel and colonial rule in the West Bank. These policies were also tried in the Gaza Strip but it was a risk to have settlers there and it was too full of refugees for to be seriously considered part of Israel. So it was ‘ghettoized’ with the hope that it would be domiciled in such a way. But Gaza resists and the only way Israel deems possible to react to this, is to use all its military might to crash that rebellion.
 
Q: Can we interpret the Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip as an effort to ruin the newly-formed unity government in Palestine? Is Israel trying to delegitimize Hamas in the eyes of the people of Gaza Strip who voted unanimously in the 2006 legislative election to bring it to power, and to pretend that Hamas is not capable of providing security and welfare for them?
 
A: Indeed, there is also a more immediate reason for the particular timing of this assault. The Fatah-Hamas unity government and the Palestinian Authority decision to replace the ‘peace process’ with an appeal to international organizations endangers, in the eyes of the Israelis, their control over the West Bank. So the wish was for destroying Hamas politically in the West Bank and militarily in the Gaza Strip. 
 
Q: It seems that a growing number of Israeli academicians, intellectuals, journalists and ordinary citizens on the streets are turning frustrated at the policies of Israel and its brutalization of the Palestinian citizens. I just read that a large group of Israeli university professors have signed a petition, calling on Tel Aviv to cease its military operations against the civilian population in Gaza. So, we see an emerging trend in opposition to the Israeli policies. What's your take on that?
 
A: I would not exaggerate the number of dissenting voices inside Israel. There are of course such voices, but the society at large, 87 percent according to one poll, is not only behind the government’s policy in Gaza, but even demand a more brutal action over there. So I think we cannot rest our hopes for an end to the violence in Palestine on a change from within Israel. Only strong pressure from the outside can produce such a result. 
 
Q: Do you think it's possible to stop Israel from intensifying its assault on the Gaza Strip and violating the international law? Israel has hasn't paid any attention to the UN bodies' condemnations and calls for the cessation of hostilities. So, it sounds like international law doesn't have any mechanism for obligating Israel to abide by its commitments as an occupying power under the international law. What do you make of it?
 
A: The only way of stopping Israel is adopting towards it the same attitude adopted against South Africa at the time of Apartheid.  For this to be effective, one would have hoped to see a change in the American position. This is not likely to take place soon. But also in the case of South Africa, the American position was an obstacle for an effective action against South Africa. The fall of the Soviet Union convinced the Americans that South Africa was not needed any more in the cold war. So something similar has to occur to change American positions. But in the meantime it is important to build the solidarity movement with the Palestinians on the basis of human and civil rights’ agenda. 
 
Q: All of those Israeli politicians, diplomats, intellectuals and academicians who break the wall of silence and level some criticisms against the discriminatory practices and policies of the Israeli government with regards to the Palestinian people are immediately defamed as anti-Semites and self-hating Jews. Have you ever faced such charges? What's your perspective on those who want to officially sanction any criticism of Israel under this pretext and obstruct the way to a meaningful dialog on what's happening in that sensitive region of the world?
 
A: Yes a lot. Self-hating Jew is a common reference to me. But I have no problem with my Jewish identity. My conflict is with Zionism. I think Zionism reduced Judaism into a narrow minded ethno-nationalism that depended on the success of a colonialist project. This brought more misery to Jews around the world, rather than helping them to defeat anti-Semitism. I think now that the Jews are already a third generation in Palestine, they can be recognized as a separate ethnic group provided they are willing to share the land with the indigenous people and not strive to dispossess them. 
 
Q: The United States government has offered its unconditional and unrestrained support to the Israeli government in its deadly operations in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Washington is the largest financial and military benefactor to Israel. Israel will never be held accountable if this approach continues. Does it mean that Israel, with its criminal record of murdering the Palestinians would always remain immune to accountability before the international community?
 
A: I think one should not take a deterministic view on this. First of all, the United States was not always pro-Israeli and the American public is not the same as its political elites. In fact, there is a far more significant change in the attitude towards Israel among young American, including many Jews, than in Israel. Secondly, America's ability to impact world politics has seriously diminished. States such as Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa and China (the BRICS countries) have more influence than ever before. If they are recruited to the campaign to change the reality on the ground in Palestine, then there is a good chance for change and peace.
 
Q: In a September 2006 article, you referred to the Israeli policies in the Gaza Strip as an incremental genocide, and reiterated that its ongoing military assault on the caged people of Gaza represents the continuation of that lethal policy. Do you believe that Israel is carrying out a project of ethnic cleansing and is trying to kill as many Palestinians as possible so as to alter and distort the demographics of the region and realize its plan for establishing the Greater Israel?
 
A: I think it is a bit more nuanced. The Zionist project from its very beginning was having as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it possible. The means for achieving it have changed with time. In 1948, the major effort to achieve it was attempted when half of the country’s indigenous people were expelled. More sophisticated means were used afterwards; military rule, discriminatory legislation and small scale ethnic cleansing operations. In Gaza all these means proved useless and therefore the idea was to ghettoize Gaza and hope that this would separate its people from Palestine. But when they resisted the reaction became genocidal. 
 
Q: It's understandable why the Israeli media are giving a lopsided and biased coverage to the war that Netanyahu and his entourage have inflicted on the empty-handed Palestinians. But why do the Western mainstream media, most of the times proudly boasting of their adherence to the codes of ethics and professionalism, follow the same path and don't talk the truth and present the realities of this unjust carnage that is playing out in the beleaguered Gaza Strip?
 
A: An excellent question. There is no good reason for this biased Western coverage. I think it differs in explanation for different parts of the West. In the United State, there is a strong pro-Zionist, Jewish and Christian presence in the media which reflect both AIPAC and the Christian Zionist Churches’ point of view on Israel. The more liberal press, especially the New York Times, slowly become more critical on Israel but still has not walked the extra mile, maybe because of timidity. In Europe, I think the fear of being accused of anti-Semitism is still very strong, as well as financial consideration connected to pro-Zionist corporations. So they adopted the paradigm of balance and parity which continues to provide Israel with immunity.

09 August, 2014

The Ebola Virus Pandemic: “A Weapon of Mass Destruction”?

Back in 2009 Tulane University Ebola researchers received more than a $7 million dollar grant from NIH to fund the detection kits allegedly used in Sierra Leone. A 2007 Tulane University release entitled “New Test Moves Forward to Detect Bioterrorism Threats” boasts of an earlier $3.8 million NIH grant that led to early test trial success of “diagnostic test kits that will aid in bioterrorism defense against a deadly viral disease.” This document indicates that the Ebola biowarfare research team has been experimenting with its kits on Sierra Leone’s people for at least seven years before they were ultimately banished recently. Read more

25 July, 2014

LADA SEBAGAI PENGURUS LANGKAWI GEOPARK HARUS BERTANGGUNG JAWAB

LAPORAN di sebuah portal berita yang mengatakan Langkawi menerima kad kuning daripada Unesco dan berkemungkinan besar bakal kehilangan status 'global Georpark' agak merunsingkan.
 

Ini kerana jika pulau pelancongan ini kehilangan status berkenaan, bermakna Geopark kita bukan lagi bertaraf dunia dan dikhuatiri jumlah pelancong akan merosot jika perkara ini tidak diambil serius dan ditangani dengan bijak.
 

Namun setelah mendapatkan maklum balas daripada Lembaga Pembangunan Langkawi (Lada), ternyata laporan itu tidak tepat dan Langkawi masih pemegang kad hijau sejak Pertubuhan Pendidikan, Sains dan Kebudayaan Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (Unesco) mengiktiraf pulau legenda itu sebagai Geopark pada 2007.
 

Sinar Harian mendapatkan pula Presiden Friends of Langkawi Geopark (Flag), Datuk Kamarulzaman Abdul Ghani bagi mendengarkan pandangannya berhubung isu ini.
 
Langkawi mempunyai masa tidak sampai setahun sebelum pihak Unesco datang membuat penilaian semula berhubung status Geopark yang diperolehnya pada 1 Jun 2007? Pada pandangan Flag, adakah kita sudah bersedia untuk menghadapi penilaian pada 2015 ini?
 
Kita belum bersedia dan sebab itulah Flag ditubuhkan. Sejak Penilaian Pertama 2011, profil dan kesedaran masyarakat Langkawi dan pengunjung terhadap Langkawi Geopark masih rendah. Walaupun Blueprint Pelancongan Langkawi mengenal pasti Geopark sebagai penting tetapi kerajaan memperkenalkan pula jenama baru ‘Naturally Langkawi’ dan tidak mengimarahkan Geopark secara khusus. Ini dilihat sebagai langkah ke belakang dalam memartabatkan Langkawi Geopark yang bertaraf dunia di bawah Unesco.

 
Sekiranya Langkawi gagal mengekalkan status ini? Apakah bentuk-bentuk kerugian yang bakal menimpa Langkawi?
 
Langkawi akan kehilangan status global terhadap keistimewaan Langkawi. Langkawi Global Geopark adalah satu-satunya pengiktirafan dunia yang pernah diterima Langkawi dalam sejarahnya. Dalam arena pelancongan dunia di mana status dan anugerah menjadi sandaran penting dalam promosi destinasi, ini merupakan kerugian besar kepada Langkawi dan negara.


Apakah peranan Flag dalam membantu Langkawi mengekalkan status Geopark ini?
 
Wujudnya Flag sudah amat membantu kerana pihak Unesco melihat penyertaan masyarakat dalam Geopark sebagai suatu kriteria penting. Gerakan komuniti melalui Flag dalam menjayakan aktiviti berkaitan Geopark akan memberi markah tinggi dalam penilaian semula Geopark oleh Unesco. Pada awal tahun ini, Flag telah memberi pandangan rasmi berhubung Geopark kepada Pengurus Geopark iaitu Lada.

 
Apakah syarat-syarat yang membolehkan Langkawi mendapat status Geopark dari Unesco pada asalnya?
 
Syarat utama ialah keistimewaan Langkawi dari sudut warisan geologi. Dikenali sebagai geo-diversiti, ia meliputi fitur bumi, laut, tasik, pantai, gua, air terjun, pulau dan sebagainya. Kajian saintifik mesti telah dilaksanakan, contohnya Langkawi terbukti mempunyai sejarah bumi yang lengkap di mana diketahui Gunung Mat Chinchang ialah daerah tertua dan menjadi tempat lahirnya bumi Malaysia 550 juta tahun dahulu.
 
Tambahan kepada itu ialah kepelbagaian bio meliputi fauna dan flora. Paling penting ialah kawasan Geopark mesti ada penghuni dengan warisan budayanya.
 
Langkawi, dengan 99 pulau sekitarnya menepati segala syarat untuk menjadi Geopark dunia yang sangat baik.


Apakah syarat-syarat yang Langkawi telah langgar atau gagal patuhi yang boleh menyebabkan ia berpotensi kehilangan status global Geopark?
 
Unesco tidak menetapkan syarat tetapi memberi garis panduan. Langkawi belum menerima kad kuning tetapi bakal menerimanya dalam tahun 2015 sekiranya kita lalai, tidak berminat atau tidak mampu menghidupkan Geopark. Paling utama ialah kesedaran bahawa kita adalah sebuah Geopark dan kita mempromosinya untuk tujuan memajukan industri pelancongan, di mana komuniti setempat mendapat faedah. Usaha membina profil dan jati diri Geopark ini masih lemah. Program menyebarkan ilmu terhadap warisan bumi dan usaha pemuliharaan masih perlu digiatkan seperti juga dengan penjagaan alam sekitar dan kebersihan.

 
Apakah tindakan pembetulan yang telah diambil bagi membolehkan penilaian seterusnya memihak kepada Langkawi?
 
Pada Januari 2014, Flag telah menulis kepada Pengurus Geopark (Lada)  memberi cadangan khusus untuk meningkatkan kesedaran awam terhadap Langkawi Geopark.

 
Apakah bentuk keuntungan yang Langkawi peroleh menerusi status Geopark ini?
 
Kemasukan pelancongan 2013 ialah 3.4 juta, rekod tertinggi bagi Langkawi. Tidak dapat dipastikan kerana Geopark. Tetapi sekiranya promosi kita mengetengahkan keistimewaan Geopark dan pengiktirafan dunia (Unesco), maka Flag yakin ia mampu melonjakkan lagi kemasukan pelancong luar dan dalam negara kerana ia dikira niche baru dalam dunia pelancongan. 


Kesan limpahan ekonomi akan dapat dinikmati oleh peserta industri, juga dalam bidang berkaitan dari segi peluang pekerjaan, pemandu pelancong, operator bot, cendera hati, hotel, homestay, pengangkutan darat serta udara dan sebagainya. 

Selain itu, konsep Geopark menjamin kelestarian pembangunan dan penggunaan sumber warisan alam tabii untuk terus dikecapi oleh generasi selepas kita. - Sumber Sinar Harian

04 July, 2014

PEMINTA SEDEKAH DAN PEMBERI SEDEKAH DI KOTARAYA KUALA LUMPUR DILIHAT KOTOR, BAGAIMANA PULA DENGAN KEGIATAN MAKSIAT?

Di bawah adalah kenyataan Dr Maza yang dipetik dari FB beliau berhubung kenyataan Menteri Wilayah Persekutuan, Tengku Adnan Mansor yang akan membersihkan Kota Raya Kuala Lumpur dari kegiatan peminta sedekah. 

Tegas beliau mereka yang memberi dan meminta kedua-duanya akan dihukum.Pihak berkuasa sedang merangka tindakan di mana pemberi sedekah akan ‘disaman’ manakala peminta sedekah akan ‘diangkut’.

Sebaliknya bagaimana pula dengan kegiatan yang lebih kotor maksiat seperti pub, judi haram, pusat pelacuran yang seperti cendawan tumbuh di sekitar bandaraya Kuala Lumpur?

"Kepada pihak yang ingin membersihkan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur dari peminta dan pemberi sedekah atas alasan ingin membersihkan Kuala Lumpur dari pencemaran serta untuk menjaga nama baik ibukota NEGARA ISLAM ini, Mohon saya mencadangkan atas hasrat baik pihak tuan agar pihak tuan membersihkan Kuala Lumpur dari pusat-pusat hiburan dan segala aktiviti yang merosak dan meruntuhkan moral dan akhlak manusia. 

Jadikanlah ia kota yang selamat dan berkat. Makmurkan ia dengan kesantunan dan kemakmuran yang mendamaikan jiwa setiap pengunjung. Jadikanlah ia kota yang setiap orang yang masuk ke dalamnya merasa aman untuk dirinya, keluarganya dan temannya. Buktikanlah dakwaan bahawa ini negara yang berpegang kepada Islam dan ibu kotanya juga tentu melambang kemakmuran, kedamaian, keluhuran budi dan kesantunan moral selaras dengan kehendak Islam yang membangunkan manusia dan kemanusiaan. Sekian, terima kasih. rakyat marhaen, Dr MAZA".

14 June, 2014

Lawmakers, LGBT groups urge U.S. trade action on Brunei criminal laws

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 100 U.S. lawmakers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups on Thursday urged the Obama administration to stop trade talks with Brunei unless the country revokes Islamic criminal laws they say jeopardize human rights.

Brunei, the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law, has announced laws that will impose fines or jail terms for offenses such as pregnancy outside marriage and failure to perform Friday prayers. The laws will ultimately punish sodomy and adultery with the death penalty, including by stoning.
One hundred nineteen members of the House of Representatives signed a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to shun Brunei in talks on a Pacific free trade zone unless the code is repealed.

The United States and Brunei are among 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which aims to set common standards on issues from labor to intellectual property and cut tariffs on traded goods.

Pride at Work, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality said in a letter to President Barack Obama that Brunei's new laws placed the country outside the bounds of international standards for human rights.

"It would be inconsistent with U.S. human rights policy to enter into a preferential trade agreement with a nation that so vagrantly violates the human rights of its citizens," they said.

State Department officials have said the United States has "very serious concerns" about the Brunei laws criminalizing freedom of religion and increasingly threatening human rights.

Brunei, a tiny former British protectorate of about 400,000 nestled between two Malaysian states on Borneo island, relies on oil and gas exports for its prosperity, with annual per capita income of nearly $50,000.
(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

10 June, 2014

An open letter to TS Francis Yeoh of YTL (reproduced from The Malay Mail):


Dear Editor,
I read in awe the comments made by Tan Sri Francis Yeoh (FY) reported in your Malay Mail Online Portal on Tuesday, 3rd June, 2014, and several other newspaper including The Malaysian Reserve and The Edgedaily, quoting him at Pemandu’s global Malaysia Series Forum at the Securities Commission.

Francis Yeoh is probably the last person qualified to comment on cronyism, racial and religious rhetorics. For someone whose family is one of the biggest beneficiary of crony capitalism, political corruption and high handed business tactics. Francis Yeoh should just keep his fake views to himself and continue planning his transfer of wealth overseas.

Lets recap how FY and YTL “won “ the first IPP in the country in 1994.

All you have to do is read the Memoirs of Tan Sri Ani Arope to know first hand of how high handed Francis Yeoh bulldozed his way through his IPP which has cost the Malaysian citizens billions of Ringgit. It’s the same billions which Francis Yeoh has now transferred abroad acquiring assets in UK, Australia and Singapore, all from the grossly inflated electricity tariff YTL got in 1994 on the back of power crisis in 1992.

Francis Yeoh called the IPP as “innovation”. I and most Malaysian citizens would call it daylight robbery.
The innovation was to produce electricity at 23 sen, sell it at 30 sen, when TNB was producing it at 8 sen and selling it at 17 sen.
Innovation was land-grabbing the Paka and Pasir Gudang sites from TNB and building his IPP. Innovation was arm- twisting Petronas to sell gas at huge subsidy. Innovation was forcing through a “take or pay” mechanism in the Off-take Agreement .

Innovation was bulldozing through the IPP via EPU through whatever means to get the sweetheart deal. Innovation was forcing Dato Sri Ani Arope, the TNB CEO then to resign for refusing to accept YTL terms.

Francis Yeoh is probably the only Chinese who dared walk through like a King into an UMNO General Assembly those days to see the Prime Minister and nobody dared questioned him or stopped him.

Let’s move on to the Express Rail Link which is also another innovation by FY which he touted as a runaway success without government help.

Oh, he forgot to mention and most people didn’t know that RM 5 of every passenger airport tax paid by travellers going through KLIA is paid to ERL even though less than 5% of them uses the ERL to get to KLIA.

And not to forget that the government paid RM 100m for the recent extension of ERL to KLIA2 and the passengers now to pay an extra RM2 to get to KLIA2 to cover the cost of the extra trip to KLIA2.

Perhaps we should give FY the “Malaysian Innovator of the Century” for all the “innovation” he had done that ripped off billions of Ringgit of taxpayers money including mine.

Now lets move to the topic of racism.

Can FY come clean on how many Malays and Indian YTL Group has employed? I would like to see it broken down by category of senior management, management and kulis. It’s the same FY who employed a token Malay as Executive Director in his Group who doesn’t have to actually go to work, so he won’t learn their trade secrets.

On corporate governance, YTL has the infamous Kitchen Board comprising of family members only that meets and decide on key things . The formal Boards of his listed companies only meet to rubber stamp decisions and tick their attendances for publishing in the annual report.

Francis Yeoh participated in a recent forum of Top 50 PLCs chaired by the Prime Minister at the Security Commission recently.

At the session, a study on graduate employment by 2 lecturers (Dr Lee Hwok Aun and Dr Muhammad Abdul Khalid) in University Malaya was tabled, which highlighted how Malay graduates are discriminated against in job application.

It was Francis Yeoh his most eloquent, when he was asked to give his views. He managed to say about 5 words and “innovated” his way out by changing topics. Francis Yeoh’s latest innovation is now team up with royalties for business.

This is after years of currying favors from politicians until his true self showed up and no politician wanted to have anything to do with him.
 

After he bad-mouthed Tun Dr Mahathir to just about everybody who cared to listen, the same Tun Dr Mahathir who made him a billionaire many times over. After years of loathing the royalties, now they are his favorite people.

But things didn’t go according to plan. After losing out in the Project 3B IPP tender, FY managed to “innovate” his way through bypassing the open tender method to win Project 4A just days ago.
 

Another brilliant innovation by FY, is to metamorphorse YTL from a mere Chinaman contractor turned power producer to also now be a brilliant telecommunications company. How much did you pay for the 4G license Francis Yeoh?

And also the highly inflated Bestranet project to wire up all the schools in the country, so that you can plant your base stations paid for by the people! Another brilliant innovation by YTL should be your company tagline, no need to hire a bumiputera PR company to come up with a tagline for you.

And what about KTM land in Sentul FY? I suppose taking land from a bleeding KTM at rock bottom price makes you a national savior?
 

After benefitting from all these sweetheart deals, you later called for “brutal competition” as the only way for the country to progress.
 

When you get all these deals. Its innovation and entrepreneurship. When a bumiputera like Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar gets them, its cronyism and unfair privileges for the bumiputeras.

You criticized the affirmative action plan which is national policy giving unfair advantage to the bumiputera, but I can assure you that all the small contracts handed out to the small contractors the last 21 years since you got your innovative IPP does not even come close to the contracts and businesses YTL has got from the government and the people.

I can go on and on, and I am sure there are many more people who knows more than me who can add to it. Not enough in attacking and insulting our intelligence, FY is also now attacking bumiputeras, saying the non-bumis now have no chance in business in Malaysia.

My message to Francis Yeoh is maybe it’s time for you to sell out the remaining 15% of business which are still in Malaysia and start packing your bags to move to UK. A lordship awaits you in the land of the fair.

Hamid,
Anak Malaysia

08 June, 2014

SEJARAH BERAKHIRNYA SISTEM BERAJA DI NEPAL APABILA RAJA TERLIBAT DALAM SISTEM PENTADBIRAN

King Gyanendra
RAKYAT Nepal kini bergembira bagi meraikan tamatnya pemerintahan beraja yang wujud di negara itu sejak 240 tahun lalu. Parlimen Nepal pada Rabu lalu meluluskan usul menamatkan pemerintahan berkenaan dan sekali gus akan menukar pemerintahan negara itu kepada sebuah republik.

Ketika rakyat negara itu bergembira dan menganggap ia kemenangan bersejarah bagi mereka, keputusan Parlimen itu adalah sesuatu yang mendukacitakan bagi Raja Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev.

Baginda kini diberi tempoh selama 15 hari untuk meninggalkan istana yang bakal ditukar menjadi muzium. Di situ akan ditempatkan segala sejarah mengenai pemerintahan beraja di Nepal untuk ditatapi generasi akan datang.

Raja Gyanendra menjadi Raja Nepal sejak 4 Jun 2001. Sebaik sahaja Gyanendra menjadi raja, baginda telah membubarkan Parlimen serta memerintah Nepal secara kuku besi.

Malah pada abad ini, baginda boleh dianggap sebagai sebahagian kumpulan elit raja di dunia yang merupakan monarki mutlak. Walaupun begitu tindakannya menindas rakyat, telah memberi peluang kepada Parlimen mengambilalih kuasa daripadanya.

Oleh itu pada April 2006, Parlimen mula membatas kuasa mutlak yang dinikmati oleh baginda selama ini. Raja Gyanendra dilahirkan di Kathmandu dan mempunyai seorang abang bernama Birendra. Bapa baginda ialah Raja Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah dan ibunya ialah Puteri Mahkota Indra Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah. Walaupun baginda adalah anak bongsu, Gyanendra telah ditabalkan sebagai raja selama dua tahun antara 1950 dan 1951, sewaktu keluarganya yang lain berada dalam buangan di India tetapi pemerintahannya tidak diiktiraf di peringkat antarabangsa.

Takhtanya Datuknya, Tribhuvan, kemudiannya pulang ke takhtanya apabila keluarga Rana menyerahkan kuasa. Baginda bersama abangnya Birendra belajar di kolej yang sama iaitu Kolej St. Joseph, Darjeeling, India. Sewaktu di sekolah baginda dianggap sebagai pelajar pintar. Walaupun begitu, baginda meneruskan pelajarannya di sebuah universiti tempatan iaitu Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. Manakala abangnya pula melanjutkan pelajaran ke universiti di Eropah.

Setahun selepas tamat pengajiannya iaitu pada 1970, Raja Gyanendra telah berkahwin dengan Permaisuri Komal Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah dan dianugerahkan dengan seorang putera dan seorang puteri.

Raja Birendra menaiki takhta pada 1972 dan cuba memerintah Nepal dengan penuh demokrasi. Namun baginda terpaksa berhadapan dengan tentangan hebat tentera Mao. Pada 1 Jun 2001, dunia telah digemparkan dengan serangan terhadap keluarga diraja Nepal, anak saudaranya Dipendra mengamuk dan membunuh sebahagian besar keluarga di Raja termasuk abang Gyanendra, Raja Birendra.

Sebahagian besar rakyat Nepal percaya, Raja Gyanendra menjadi dalang di sebalik pembunuhan itu memandangkan kesemua kerabat diraja yang lain dibunuh sedangkan keluarga baginda terselamat.

Bagaimanapun selepas siasatan menyeluruh dijalankan oleh pasukan penyiasat mereka gagal menemui bukti berhubung penglibatan Raja Gyanendra.

Sebaik sahaja menaiki takhta, Raja Gyanendra mengamalkan sikap mengawal sepenuhnya kerajaan berikutan kegagalan parti-parti politik. Pada Mei 2002, baginda memberi sokongan kepada Sher Bahadur Deuba sebagai Perdana Menteri. Bagaimanapun ia hanya bertahan lima bulan apabila, baginda menyingkirkan Deuba. Sepanjang tempoh 2002 hingga 2005, baginda telah melantik dan memecat tiga Perdana Menteri.

Ketika baginda menguasai sepenuhnya pemerintahan pada 1 Februari 2005, baginda menuduh kerajaan Deuba gagal melaksanakan pilihan raya Parlimen dan mewujudkan kestabilan dalam negeri berikutan tercetus perang saudara yang dilakukan oleh pemberontak Mao.
Walaupun Raja Gyanendra memberi jaminan akan mewujudkan keamanan dan pemerintahan demokrasi dalam tempoh tiga tahun tetapi sepanjang pemerintahannya ia dipenuhi dengan tindakan kuku besi.

Berikutan itu pertubuhan antarabangsa melahirkan kebimbangan mereka terhadap keselamatan wartawan berikutan langkah Raja Gyanendra mengehadkan kebebasan awam termasuk kebebasan media.

Tindakan demi tindakan yang dilakukan Raja Gyanendra mula mencetuskan perasaan tidak puas hati rakyat sehingga mencetuskan demonstrasi besar-besaran pada April 2006 bagi membantah pemerintahannya. Raja Gyanendra bertindak balas dengan mengisytiharkan darurat.

Bagaimanapun bantahan terhadap baginda berterusan dan ini memaksa baginda mengumumkan akan mewujudkan pihak berkuasa eksekutif yang mana Perdana Menterinya akan dipilih oleh parti politik.

Namun tawaran itu ditolak oleh beberapa ketua parti, mereka sebaliknya menggesa Raja Gyanendra mewujudkan satu majlis bagi menentukan peranan raja dalam politik.

Kemelut antara raja dan ahli politik di Nepal seolah-olah sampai ke kemuncaknya pada 10 Jun 2006, apabila Parlimen menghapuskan kuasa raja termasuk hak untuk menggunakan kuasa veto dalam meluluskan undang-undang. Tindakan itu telah menyebabkan Raja Gyanendra ibarat seorang raja awam yang tidak mempunyai apa-apa kuasa kerana segala-galanya sudah dipindahkan kepada Perdana Menteri.

Usaha Raja Gyanendra untuk terus mempertahankan sistem monarki di negara itu sampai ke penghujung pada Mac 2007 apabila Perdana Menteri Nepal, Girija Prasad Koirala yang dilihat orang yang paling memihak kepada sistem berkenaan berpendapat Raja Gyanendra perlu berundur daripada takhta.

Pada 23 Ogos 2007, kerajaan peralihan Nepal mengumumkan semua harta Raja Gyanendra yang diwarisi daripada abangnya termasuk Istana Diraja Narayanhity kini milik negara, bagaimanapun pengumuman itu tidak melibatkan harta peribadi baginda sebelum menaiki takhta.

Akhirnya apa yang dibimbangi oleh Raja Gyanendra menjadi kenyataan apabila pengumuman dibuat pada 24 Disember 2007 bahawa sistem monarki di negara itu akan dihapuskan pada tahun ini selaras dengan salah satu syarat dalam perjanjian damai dengan pemberontak Mao.

Ia sekali gus bermakna Nepal akan menjadi sebuah republik yang akan dipimpin oleh seorang presiden. Berikutan keputusan itu pada Rabu lalu, Raja Gyanendra diberi tempoh selama 15 hari untuk meninggalkan istana tempat baginda bersemayam. Baginda akan melangkah keluar dari istana berkenaan sebagai rakyat biasa dan tidak mempunyai apa-apa keistimewaan dari segi undang-undang.

Demikianlah berakhirnya riwayat pemerintahan beraja di Nepal yang wujud 240 tahun lalu. Kesilapan dan keangkuhan sang raja ketika memerintah telah mewujudkan rasa muak di kalangan rakyat.

Ia kesudahannya mengakibatkan istana tidak lagi dilihat sebuah institusi yang kebal dan perlu dipertahankan. Segalanya berlaku kerana kealpaan Raja Gyanendra yang selama ini merasa begitu berkuasa dan tidak terfikir bahawa suatu hari kelak institusi beraja di negara itu hanya akan menjadi lipatan sejarah yang disimpan di sebuah muzium.

Lebih malang lagi muzium berkenaan sebelum ini adalah istana yang menjadi tempat baginda bersemayam dan bersukaria. (UM - 1/6/2008)

30 May, 2014

THE STAR IS COUNTRY NUMBER ONE ENGLISH DAILY

The Star maintains its position as the country’s number one English daily, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) report.
 
Its average daily circulation increased to 339,162 in the second half of 2013. up 2.4% or 8,042 copies from a year earlier.

The Star’s circulation rose for both the print and digital formats. The digital replica saw a circulation of 49,551, up 17% year-on-year.

Sunday Star also recorded an improved performance, with circulation growing 2.2%, or 7,814 copies, to 341,963. The digital edition accounted for 49,737, up 19% from a year earlier.

Harian Metro retains the top spot among Bahasa Malaysia dailies but with a lower circulation. Its circulation slid 9.5%, or 36,174 copies, to 343,840 in the second half of last year.
 
For the first time in at least two years, Mingguan Malaysia has overtaken Metro Ahad as the premier Bahasa weekly. Its circulation grew 1.9% to 373,352 in 2013’s second half while Metro Ahad’s circulation fell 10.6% to 362,807.(The Star)

17 May, 2014

SINGAPORE'S LEE SAYS HE WANTS A QUICK DEATH

Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who will turn 90 next month, said in a new book published Tuesday that he feels weaker by the day and wants a quick death.

"Some time back, I had an Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) done which says that if I have to be fed by a tube, and it is unlikely that I would ever be able to recover and walk about, my doctors are to remove the tube and allow me to make a quick exit," he wrote in the book "One Man's View of the World".

The book is dedicated to the Asian statesman's views on international affairs but an entire chapter contains his musings on death, religion and other personal issues. The 400-page work is dedicated to his late wife Kwa Geok Choo, whose death in 2010 shattered the normally stoic veteran politician.

Lee has visibly weakened since then and revealed in the book that despite daily exercise and a disciplined lifestyle, "with every passing day I am physically less energetic and less active."

"There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach," he wrote.

Lee, a British-trained lawyer who served as Singapore's prime minister for three decades and turned it into a high-tech industrial and financial centre, expressed his blunt views on religion in the book.

"I wouldn't call myself an atheist. I neither deny nor accept that there is a God," he said.

"So I do not laugh at people who believe in God. But I do not necessarily believe in God -- nor deny that there could be one."

Asked where he drew comfort from if not from religion, he said: "It is the end of any aches and pains and suffering. So I hope the end will come quickly."

Elsewhere in the book, Lee addressed what he considers the biggest long-term threat to Singapore -- its low birth rate -- and rejected as "absurd" suggestions that his population programme in the 1970s urging couple to stop at two children contributed to the current situation.

Despite a slew of so-called "baby bonuses" to encourage couples to have children, Singapore's total fertility rate last year stood at 1.20 children per woman, far below the 2.1 needed to maintain the native-born population.

Lee, who retired from politics in 2011, blamed Singaporeans' changing lifestyles for the problem and said monetary incentives would only have a "marginal effect" on it.

"I have given the job to another generation of leaders. Hopefully, they or their successors will eventually find a way out," said Lee, who handed power to his deputy Goh Chok Tong in 1990 after 31 years in office.

Lee's son, Lee Hsien Loong, is now prime minister after succeeding Goh in 2004.

Singapore's low birth rate has forced the government to open the country to foreigners, who now comprise a third of the population.

The influx, however, has sparked protests from citizens and prompted the government to tighten immigration flows in recent years.

Lee pointed to the example of Japan, which he said is on a "stroll into mediocrity" as the ranks of its elderly swell due to young couples not producing enough babies.

Japan's reluctance to open up to immigrants will further lead to its decline, he said.

"If I were a young Japanese and I could speak English, I would probably choose to emigrate," said Lee.
(Source : AFP News)

08 May, 2014

PLUS - HALIM SAAD DAH KAW TIM DENGAN IZAT EMIR

KUALA LUMPUR 7 Mei - Persatuan Pedagang dan Pengusaha Melayu Malaysia (Perdasama) menyambut baik cadangan pengambilalihan PLUS Malaysia Berhad (PLUS) kepada syarikat swasta yang dikaitkan dengan Idaman Saga (Idaman Saga) Sdn. Bhd., milik Tan Sri Halim Saad.

Presidennya, Datuk Moehamad Izat Emir berkata, walaupun cadangan itu dilihat masih samar namun persatuan itu menganggap langkah pengambilalihan tersebut harus dipertimbangkan bagi meringankan beban rakyat.

"Perdasama beranggapan cadangan itu harus dipertimbangkan bagi meringankan beban rakyat sekali gus menurunkan kos tanggungan rakyat dan dapat mengurangkan subsidi yang ditanggung oleh kerajaan setiap tahun," katanya dalam kenyataan kepada Utusan Malaysia di sini hari ini.

Sebuah akhbar berbahasa Inggeris pada 25 Mac lalu melaporkan Halim melalui syarikatnya, Idaman Saga berhasrat mengambil alih PLUS dengan cadangan terbarunya kepada kerajaan untuk mengekalkan kadar tol pada paras semasa.

Isu pengambilalihan itu bagaimanapun dibantah oleh Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) kerana bagi pertubuhan itu, PLUS merupakan tulang belakang dan pemacu kepada perkembangan ekonomi negara.

Naib Presiden Perkasa, Syed Osman Syed Mansor semalam berkata, PLUS yang kini dimiliki bersama dua syarikat milik kerajaan (GLC) dan agensi kerajaan, iaitu Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) dan Kumpulan UEM Bhd. (UEM) selama ini juga telah diurus dengan baik.

Menurut Moehamad Izat, tidak dinafikan kedua-dua agensi kerajaan ini menunjukkan prestasi yang baik malah kedua-dua agensi tersebut mendapat manfaat daripada pelaburan mereka dan disalurkan kepada rakyat.

"Bagaimanapun saya percaya cadangan baharu yang dikemukakan oleh Tan Sri Halim Saad itu tidak harus diketepikan. Ini kerana, PLUS merupakan tunjang yang menghubungkan negeri-negeri di Malaysia dan merupakan landasan utama sektor pelancongan dalam negeri.

"Inisiatif seperti ini bukan sahaja membantu meringankan beban rakyat malah merancakkan ekonomi negara," katanya.

ONE IN TEN AMERICANS BELIEVE 'SPACE ALIENS' WERE INVOLVED IN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ILL-FATED MALAYSIAN FLIGHT MH370

One in ten Americans think 'space aliens' were involved in the disappearance if the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, it was revealed today. A survey found that nine per cent of the people believe 'space aliens or beings from another dimension were involved'. 

Investigators are still continuing their search for the missing plane and the 239 people on board, which vanished from radars on March 8. The poll by CNN and ORC International found that while most people in the U.S. believe the search for MH370 should continue, half believe authorities are searching in the wrong place.

Findings also showed that the vast majority (79 per cent) believe there are no survivors. Just over half (52 per cent) think we will eventually find out what happened to the flight. However, a further 46 per cent say we will never know. 

The survey comes as 11 terrorists with links to Al Qaeda were arrested in Kuala Lumpur and Kedah and questioned about being involved in the plane's disappearance. Aged between 22 and 55, the suspects were believed to have comprised students, business professionals and odd-job workers. Terrorism was seen as a possible cause of the disappearance by Americans, with 57 per cent of those surveyed saying terrorists were likely involved, despite no group or organisation yet coming forward to take responsibility. 

Furthermore, 42 per cent of the U.S. public believes hijackers were involved, while 52 per cent said a mechanical failure was probably involved. Just a quarter said it was very likely that the crew or plane's pilots had something to do with the disappearance. Yesterday, it was revealed the Malaysian tourism minister has said the government will not inject any more money into the state-owned Malaysian Airlines after the MH370 disaster. The ailing national carrier has suffered a slump in bookings and £750 million losses following the disappearance of the flight two months ago and is undergoing 'restructuring'. 

Mohammad Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture, said the government will not put 'any more money' into the troubled airline. Malaysia Airlines - which is owned by the government through a holding company - had already suffered $1.3billion losses over the past three years as it faced stiff competition and unprofitable routes, Gulf News reports. 

Mr Aziz said that the government is now unsure what it can do - but he added: 'To inject new capital is certainly not an option.' It now looks unlikely that the government will sell the national carrier to private investor after the share price dropped both under the restructuring plans and the flight MH370 disaster. Report Daily Mail UK

07 May, 2014

"CADANGAN SYARIKAT AMBIL ALIH PLUS TAK MASUK AKAL" NAIB PRESIDEN PERKASA

KUALA LUMPUR 6 Mei - Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) menentang cadangan pengambilalihan PLUS Malaysia Bhd. (PLUS) oleh syarikat swasta kerana pemegang konsesi lebuh raya itu merupakan tulang belakang dan pemacu kepada perkembangan negara. 

Naib Presiden Perkasa, Syed Osman Syed Mansor berkata, PLUS yang kini dimiliki bersama dua syarikat milik kerajaan (GLC) dan agensi kerajaan, iaitu Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) dan Kumpulan UEM Bhd (UEM) selama ini juga telah diurus dengan baik.

“Cadangan oleh syarikat persendirian untuk tidak menaikkan tol sehingga tahun 2038 dan kerajaan boleh menjimatkan RM40 bilion adalah tidak masuk akal tanpa bukti-bukti kukuh. 

“Perkasa berpendapat, aset kritikal negara iaitu PLUS wajar dikekalkan hak miliknya oleh dua agensi itu dan tidak dijual kepada syarikat swasta," katanya dalam kenyataan di sini hari ini bagi mengulas isu PLUS yang kini menjadi sasaran pengambilalihan oleh sebuah syarikat swasta. 

Dalam pada itu, Syed Osman turut mempersoal mengapa PLUS perlu dijual kepada syarikat swasta sedangkan dimiliki oleh agensi yang kukuh. 

Katanya, Lebuh Raya Utara Selatan yang konsesinya dipegang oleh PLUS telah dibina berdasarkan konsep bina-kendali-pindah (BOT), maka harus kekal dalam pemilikan kerajaan. Beliau berkata, kerajaan juga disaran agar menguruskan aset kritikal negara demi menjaga kepentingan rakyat. Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd 

05 May, 2014

HALIM SAAD JANGAN GANGGU PLUS LAGI.

KUALA LUMPUR 4 Mei - Lebuh Raya Utara Selatan, aset kritikal negara yang merentasi lapan negeri di Semenanjung Malaysia adalah pemangkin kepada nadi pembangunan negara dan harus dikekalkan hak miliknya, demikian menurut seorang penganalis. 

Pengarah FA Securities, Zakie Ahmad Shariff berkata, PLUS Malaysia Berhad (PLUS), pemegang konsesi lebuh raya tersebut, kini dimiliki bersama dua agensi kerajaan, Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) dan Kumpulan UEM Berhad (UEM), dan cadangan untuk memiliknegarakan PLUS kelihatan dangkal. 

"“Kenapa kita pilih untuk UEM dan KWSP mengambil alih PLUS empat tahun lepas ialah untuk memberi faedah kepada negara, memperbaiki kedudukan kewangan serta penyelenggaraannya dan mereka telah menunjukkan prestasi yang sangat baik," katanya ketika mengulas PLUS, yang kini menjadi sasaran pengambilalihan oleh sebuah syarikat swasta. 

Pemilikan sekarang bukan sekadar telah menjadikannya milik rakyat, malah secara langsung memberi manfaat kepada lebih 14 juta pencarum KWSP. Sebaliknya, beliau mengalu-alukan pihak ketiga mengambil alih lebuh raya bertol dalam bandar memandangkan faktor kekerapan penggunaan lebuh raya dalam kehidupan seharian warga kota berbanding lebuh raya PLUS di luar kota. “

Kalau betul-betul nak tolong rakyat, lihatlah lebuh raya bertol dalam bandar, bukan PLUS. Kalau sesebuah syarikat ingin mengambil alih tol-tol yang ada, kenapa tidak ambil alih tol-tol seperti LDP (Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong) dan sebagainya," katanya. 

Zakie yang juga pakar ekonomi turut berpendapat bahawa, selaku pemilik aset terbesar yang menjadi tulang belakang kepada rangkaian pengangkutan Semenanjung Malaysia, adalah wajar bagi PLUS kekal status quo. 

Beliau berkata, untuk meringankan beban kerajaan, rangkaian lebuh raya PLUS telah dibangunkan oleh pihak swasta berdasarkan konsep ’bina-kendali-pindah’ (BOT). “Kembalinya PLUS ke tangan kerajaan melalui usaha sama KWSP dan UEM adalah selaras dengan matlamat penswataan negara. Biarlah kedua agensi kerajaan ini, KWSP dan UEM, mendapat manfaat daripada pelaburan mereka, tambahan pula rakyat juga yang meraih faedahnya. Untuk diserahkan semula kepada pihak swasta, saya tidak nampak rasionalnya," ujar beliau. 

Seruan agar hak milik PLUS kekal status quo turut disokong oleh Pensyarah Kanan di Fakulti Perniagaan dan Perakaunan Universiti Malaya, Dr. Ervina Alfan. “Adalah jauh lebih baik bagi orang ramai jika lebuh raya itu kekal milik kerajaan. Ia sebenarnya adalah untuk kepentingan orang ramai secara keseluruhan," katanya. 

Ervina berkata, operasi lebuh raya berdepan dengan pelbagai risiko sama ada dari aspek politik, pasaran, pembinaan ataupun permintaan, dan aset berharga seperti Lebuh Raya Utara Selatan tidak seharusnya berada di tangan pihak swasta untuk mengelakkannya daripada dicagarkan bagi menyokong pinjaman. - BERNAMA