Archive for April, 2009

30
Apr
09

Material on Altantuya and Najib Altantuya sell like hot cakes

By Wong Choon Mei, Suara Keadilan

If Prime Minister Najib Razak and his supporters think the fuss surrounding the murder-and-commission case of beautiful Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu will fade now that two policemen have been found guilty and sentenced to hang for her killing, then they couldn’t be more wrong.

Judging by the way Malaysians snapped up material detailing her horrific murder by ruthless people, the 28-year old Altantuya – who was pregnant when she was shot in face and then bombed to pieces to avoid identification – is set to become part of national folklore.

Much the same as actress Marilyn Monroe – allegedly the mistress of a former president – is in US political history.

More than 1,000 packets containing translated copies of foreign news reports on the Altantuya story were sold out within minutes. The pack also contained a book plus VCD on an assault alleged to have been committed by Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Vendors who priced the pack at RM10 each had set up stall at a forum organised by Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Bayan Baru Youth wing on Wednesday night.

PKR leaders who attended were Machang MP Saifuddin Nasution, Batu Maung assemblyman Abdul Malik Kassim, Pantai Jerejak’s Sim Tze Tzin, Batu Uban ‘s V Raventhiran and supreme council member Badrul Hisham.

The event is one of the many ceramah or political lectures lined up ahead of the Penanti by-election, which is due to polled on May 31. Nomination day is May 23.

In his speech, Saifuddin, who is also PKR election director, asked the Umno-BN government to explain why there were so few congratulatory messages from other world leaders when Najib took over as Malaysia’s sixth prime minister on Apr 3.

“Is it because of Altantuya’s articles that appeared in 19 international newspapers?” asked Saifuddin.

“If Najib has nothing to do with the murder, he should immediately sue these international newspapers that linked him to the gruesome killing,” said Badrul, the Rembau division chief.

Sue or face Altantuya at her funeral

To protect the image and reputation of the country, Badrul then issued an ultimatum to Najib. Sue and clear your name, or face the wrath of Malaysians!

He plans to organise a mammoth funeral for Altantuya, with a convoy of vehicles carrying a coffin containing her effigy from Rembau to Penanti if Najib does not begin legal proceedings before May 23.

The move is intended to shake Najib out of what is perceived to be deliberate inaction on his part. Despite protesting his innocence, huge question-marks abound in the murder trial, especially when his close associate Razak Baginda was acquitted of abetting her murderers in a court ruling that has confounded the nation and legal practitioners alike.

As a result, public disquiet has simmered and intensified over the brutal murder and the RM530 million commission Najib allegedly swung from French shipbuilder Armaris for Malaysia’s purchase of three high-tech submarines.

The conservative Parti Se-Islam Malaysia or PAS earlier this week wrote to the Council of Malay Rulers seeking the establishment of a Royal Commission to probe Najib involvement in the case.

“Reports alleging the existence of a relationship between Najib and Altantuya through the purchase of a fleet of submarines have been reported in India, Australia, Korea, Thailand, etc,” PAS said in its letter.

“These reports have been featured by no less than 19 international media organisations, and all of them depict the prime minister as a person who is corrupt and involved in abuse of power, sex scandals as well as the murder of the Mongolian model.”

PAS also warned that unless a full-scale independent inquiry was carried out immediately, not only would Malaysia’s image be tarnished, but its economy may suffer as foreign investors lose confidence in its institutions and legal system.

“This shows that Najib’s credibility as a prime minister has been openly questioned at the international level. We are also worried that if Altantuya father, Setev Shaariibuu, is unsatisfied with the Malaysian High Court, he may bring the case to the International Court of Justice.”

30
Apr
09

Anwar takes on 1Malaysia concept

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(The Malaysian Insider) – Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim has ripped into the Najib administration’s 1Malaysia concept, calling it cosmetic and nothing more than a bald-faced political move to try and win back support from non-Malays.

This is the first time that the leader of Pakatan Rakyat has come out in such strong terms against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s main theme since he became Prime Minister on April 3.

Other Opposition politicians have questioned what 1Malaysia really means but Anwar gutted the whole concept, pointing out that Najib’s comments about unity and togetherness are only for public consumption.

Behind the scenes, the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) is still continuing their indoctrination programmes for Malay civil servants and politicians, telling Malays to be wary of Chinese and Indians.

Anwar’s attack on the 1 Malaysia concept also betrays a growing uneasiness among the Opposition on Barisan Nasional’s charm offensive to regain the support of non-Malay voters, the segment of voters who since Election 2008 have become a reliable vote bank for Pakatan Rakyat.

The support among Chinese and Indians for the Opposition has grown steadily since March 8 last year as a result of frustration over excesses of Umno, abuses under the New Economic Policy and lack of respect for the rights of non-Malays.

Faced with the real possibility of losing more ground with this important constituency and sensing that the fracture of race relations was reaching a dangerous stage, Najib’s team cobbled together the 1 Malaysia platform.

It has yet to be fleshed out but the concept promotes the idea that all Malaysians should feel as one and that no one will be left behind, regardless of race and religion.

The new administration has also liberalised the financial services sector and attempted to solve the thorny issues of conversion of children to Islam when marriages breakdown.

Nothing has been said about dismantling the NEP or spelling out how equality can be achieved among Malaysians with the main architecture of affirmative action is still in place and the Malay-centric civil service calling the shots at implementation stage.

In his latest blog posting, Anwar noted that Umno called Pakatan Rakyat the tool of the Chinese and also hammered the DAP as a chauvinist party for its Malaysian Malaysia concept.

“Now finding that the support of Chinese and Indians to Umno-BN is dropping drastically, we hear the slogan 1Malaysia being used.

“If we delve more deeply into this concept, we find that what is practised is only cosmetic or botox. The liberalisation is only to win over rich Chinese entrepreneurs but will have no impact on the projects and contracts of their cronies,” he said, adding that more pressing issues of leakages, transparency and corruption were not addressed under the 1 Malaysia slogan.

In contrast, he noted the Malaysian Economic Agenda promoted by Pakatan Rakyat focused on what was good for the common man, especially the underprivileged Malay-Bumiputeras, Chinese and Indians.

Anwar wondered how it was possible to talk about 1Malaysia when the reality on the ground was so different. He zoomed in on the courses run by BTN, a unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.

In the mainstream media the talk is about unity under 1Malaysia but in the BTN courses they push narrow Malay interests and slam politicians like Anwar and Pas spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat for working with other races, Anwar said.

He wondered why BTN blamed other races and not the big criminals and corrupt individuals who have caused Malays to face hardship after 50 years of Umno rule.

Anwar’s sniping has set the tempo for the Opposition’s campaign to puncture the 1Malaysia concept. It could also spark a race between BN and the Opposition to prove their Malaysian credentials.

30
Apr
09

UK: Malaya Massacre to be investigated 60 yrs later

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Ministers have bowed to legal action and agreed to reinvestigate the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers by British soldiers in Malaya more than 60 years ago.

The inquiry will focus on secret Whitehall files and startling new testimony from a key witness to the killings. Ministers have written to Tham Yong, 78, one of a handful of survivors of the massacre, confirming that they intend to reconsider a case for a public inquiry after she claimed to have witnessed her fiancé and other villagers being shot in cold blood by a 12-man patrol of Scots Guards during the so called Malayan emergency.

The move follows pioneering legal action begun by Mrs Tham and other Malaysians over Britain’s failure to properly investigate the events surrounding the killings. The incident took place on 12 December 1948, six months into a 12-year campaign to crush the largely ethnic Chinese communists, who were trying to drive out British colonialists.

Official accounts describe villagers being killed as they attempted a mass escape into the jungle, having been warned they would be shot if they tried. However, survivors recall victims being led out of their homes and shot in the back. Following the killings, the bodies of many of the dead were mutilated and trophy photos taken, eyewitnesses claimed. Their village was then burned to the ground.

Secret papers uncovered by Mrs Tham’s solicitors, Bindmans, now show that the colonial Attorney General who exonerated the British troops of any wrongdoing at the time privately believed that mass public executions might deter other insurgents. A second document reveals that officials the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had briefed ministers that there was little point in Scotland Yard officers interviewing eyewitnesses in the 1970s because Malaysian villagers were untrustworthy, motivated by compensation and it was “doubtful” they could recall events 22 years earlier.

Responding to a 30 page letter explaining the basis of Mrs Tham’s legal claim, the Government says that it had overturned a previous decision not to hold an inquiry or investigate the deaths: “In light of the matters raised in that letter, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have decided to reconsider the decision communicated to you in January of this year that no inquiry would be established of other investigation undertaken into the incident at Batang Kali in 1948.”

The letter adds: “It is clear from your letter that you have done considerable research into the incident and the evidence now available about it. It would speed up the reconsideration process if you were able to make available to me the material you have collected.”

Tham Yong later married the brother of her dead fiancé. He was the only male survivor of the killings.

Batang Kali committee member Quek Ngee Meng said: “There is an absolute urgency on this matter as most of the witnesses may not be able to wait for the justice to be restored. For example, one of the eye witnesses, Wong Kum Sooi, who was 11 at time of killings, passed away on last Friday.

He was the eldest son of Huang Ren and nephew to Huang De-Feng, both of whom were killed by the British Army on 12 December 1948 at Batang Kali. In the circumstances, the Committee urges the Secretaries of State involved to agree to the request of the surviving families for an inquiry consistent with international humanitarian standards.”

Mrs Tham is represented by John Halford, a partner at Bindmans solicitors. He commented “Over sixty years on, the underlying reason why 24 unarmed men were killed at Batang Kali is unknown. There has been no apology, much less compensation. The closest thing we have to a meaningful official explanation is the off hand comment by a senior colonial official that an ‘honest mistake’ was made. The government’s response to the threat of a legal challenge to this manifest injustice is a tiny step in the right direction, but what is called for is something rather more decisive and principled. Mrs Tham and others who are directly affected, including the surviving soldiers, are now in limbo because the government’s solicitors have suggested a ‘few months’ will be spent deciding what to do next. We say that basic legal and moral standards demand that an independent inquiry be established immediately.”

Mr Halford added that “the confidential government records we have unearthed reveal that when this matter was reported in the 1970s, there was a gulf between the public presentation of the issue and the concerns being expressed behind closed ministry and barrack doors. Officials accepted that the DPP’s decision against prosecution might not quell public unease and that an independent inquiry might well be the only way forward, yet this appears to have been given no further consideration.

Disturbingly, efforts were made to dissuade an elite team of British detectives from interviewing to Malaysian eyewitnesses because officials believed they had inherently unreliable memories. These detectives were likewise deprived of the opportunity to interview key witnesses in the UK. The oldest of the files reveal that the very person charged in 1948 with investigating the killings believed that there was something to be said for public executions as a legitimate means to demoralise those involved in the insurgency.”

30
Apr
09

Kenny’s return just the tonic by Steve McMahon

Kenny Dalglish has been linked with a move back to Liverpool in a youth development role, a development that couldn’t have come at a better time.

Although there has been no official confirmation at the time of writing, I believe there’s no smoke without fire. I don’t know why Liverpool didn’t think of it sooner.

Maybe it didn’t suit Kenny before, and maybe there were too many things going on behind the scenes that scuppered any plans. Well, any plan that happens has to suit both parties.

To be honest, I believe Kenny the right man for the job.

I remember how Kenny persuaded me to sign for Liverpool.

He told me about Liverpool’s history and Kenny being Kenny he was always going about it in an humble manner. You really can talk to him, which is contrary to public belief that he’s unapproachable.

As a player, he was very intelligent, had great vision and could always see things happening around him. The same was true when he became a manager.

He can watch players and realise which ones are great and those who are not that good. Kenny is also a great man-manager.

This new role could be a tailor-made one for him. He will be looking for players who can fit into the system and are big enough to play for Liverpool.

More importantly, Kenny can become the perfect go-between between the parents and the players – very much like Sir Alex Ferguson does for Manchester United. I believe he can get the best out of the youngsters.

What Kenny can help do is solve what I believe is a long-standing problem at the club, namely that Liverpool do not have enough youngsters coming through. It’s a problem that needs addressing urgently.

Since the introduction of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, there have been far too few young players making it into the first team.

True, there were the likes of Stephen Warnock and Neil Mellor but they’re no longer at the club.

Compare that to Manchester United where there is a steady conveyer belt of youngsters coming through year-after-year.

As for Everton, they can guarantee first-team football to their youngsters far quicker than Liverpool so that’s why their talent always comes through. Of course financial constraints play a small part.

For me, as long as some of the young players don’t make it into the first team, there’s something not right with the youth system.

What this appointment does is maybe help enhance the system at Liverpool and make it better.

Kenny will be a popular choice I have to say – especially where players and fans are concerned.

He was not voted first in Liverpool’s list of 100 Players Who Shook The Kop for nothing.

Rafael Benitez seems to have his plans put into practice at this moment in time.

It’s far too early to say how this will impact the club and the Liverpool manager, but at least there are signs that the club is moving forward.

FA Cup semi-final Aftermath

Sir Alex Ferguson’s plan to field a weakened side in the semi-finals of the FA Cup has backfired on him. I don’t think he played a weaker side expecting to lose. He picked a side which he thought was strong enough for him. But it didn’t go according to plan.

On the other hand, I thought Everton deserved to go though.

Looking ahead to the final, I still think Chelsea are the better side and possess more quality players. But by the same token, you can’t discount Everton.

They have beaten two of the Top Four sides to reach the FA Cup final. So why can’t they beat another one to lift the trophy?

Steve McMahon was talking to espnstar.com’s Eugene YS Han

29
Apr
09

What if the shoe was on the other foot? by Raja Petra Kamarudin

Today, I want to break away from politics for a short while and talk about a subject many do not like to talk about — Islam. Tomorrow, I shall continue my story about the Royal Malaysian Police. We have to allow the boys in blue at least two days to absorb what I have written thus far. If we move too fast they may not be able to keep up with us.

Many don’t like me talking about Islam. They also want to know why I only ‘whack’ Islam and not any of the other religions.

In the first place, I DO NOT whack Islam. Yes, I whack Muslims. But I do not whack Islam. And I am certainly not in the business of whacking the other religions, any religion for that matter.

So why do I persistently talk about Islam? Simple, because Islam is the official religion of this country — so Islam touches our everyday life. There is nothing we do or say that Islam does not somehow, either in a big or small way, decide whether what we do or say is allowed or forbidden.

For example, when Muslims make police reports against anyone perceived as being anti-establishment or pro-opposition, they always say it is to defend the dignity of Islam, the Malays, the Monarchy, and so on. They say that the Internal Security Act must be retained because it is needed to defend the rights of the Malays and the dignity of Islam. Every move they make, democratic or otherwise, is for the sake of Islam. Or so they argue.

So how do we separate Islam from our daily lives? A non-Muslim who has a relationship or affair with a Muslim is said to have done something wrong because the other partner is a Muslim. Non-Muslims who employ Muslims in their pubs or discos commit a crime because Muslims must not handle liquor. Non-Muslims who sell beer to Muslims commit a crime because Muslims are forbidden from drinking. Non-Muslim employees who refuse to allow their Muslim staff time off for prayers would be in trouble with the government. Non-Muslims living next door to a mosque who complain about the ‘noise’ would get death threats — that is if they are lucky enough to escape ISA detention. And so on and so forth, the list is endless.

If non-Muslims raise any issue they would be reminded that this is a Muslim country and they do so at their own peril. They can even get detained without trial or charged for sedition for complaining about certain Islamic policies or issues related to Islam.

Malaysian politics is almost always about Islam. Malays would be told if they vote for the opposition then the Kafir (infidels) would be calling the shots. Lim Guan Eng is a Kafir who controls the Kafir government of Penang. So Malays are being subjected to a Kafir regime. Nizar may be a Muslim and from PAS, an Islamic party, but the Kafir is the real power behind the throne in Perak. Nizar is just a puppet of the Kafir. That was why he needed to be ousted even though it was done undemocratically and in violation of the Constitution. Islam comes first and democracy can be suspended or overridden for the sake of Islam.

The bottom line is, Islam is always credited — or blamed, as the case may be — for whatever these Malays do because they claim they are doing it in the name of Islam and for the sake of Islam. But in most cases Islam is not really the reason for their actions. What they do is not what Islam asks us to do. Islam is merely the camouflage used by these people to give legitimacy to their actions, in most instances which are anti-Islamic to start off with — such as the ISA, NEP, and so on.

Until these people who abuse the name of Islam to cover their evil deeds and to give legitimacy to their illegal acts stop doing so, Islam will forever come under the spotlight. And until then we must also continue talking about Islam, not in an attempt to give Islam bad publicity, but so that these fakes, called Munafik in Islamic lingo, can be exposed for what they really are.

Now, I also whack non-Muslims as well. I whack those non-Muslims who try to give an impression that they are experts on Islam and then make uncomplimentary or negative statements about Islam.

These people, the non-Muslims, have never gone to a madrasah or Islamic college or university to receive tutoring in Islam. But they talk as if they have a diploma or degree in Islamic studies. Then they support their arguments with a copy-and-paste job, information they obtained from the Internet, in particular from anti-Islamic websites. And then they say, “This is the proof that Islam is no good, violent, etc.”

There are those who keep posting, over and over again, the YouTube video of a small boy allegedly being punished under Hudud law for stealing some bread. They held the small boy down and used a truck to roll over his arm. The video is not a fake. But it is a video of a magic show or something like that, not of a small boy being punished under Hudud law for stealing some bread.

In cases like these I would certainly get upset. I would never defend any cruelty to children — especially if it is for a minor crime like stealing some bread. But this a lie being perpetuated, over and over again, about the so-called cruelty of Hudud, supported by so-called evidence, the YouTube video. How, therefore, can I allow this to pass unchallenged?

What if I were to copy-and-paste the Gospel by Barnabas and whack the Christians? Hey, I have ‘evidence’, and the ‘evidence’ is the Gospel by Barnabas. I searched the Internet and found this Gospel on one anti-Christian website. So I copy-and-paste it for my article and that now makes me an unchallenged expert on Christianity. And I now openly challenge the Bishop to a debate so that I can publicly prove that Christianity, as being practiced now, is false and that the ‘real’ Christianity is like what is mentioned in the Quran, not like what is stated in the ‘false’ Bible — and this is proven beyond any shadow of doubt by the cut-and-paste Gospel that I have found on an anti-Christian website set up by a Muslim.

I am not saying that Islam is a sacred cow. And this is the trouble with Muslims; they want Islam to be regarded as a sacred cow. If you keep Islam personal then this would no doubt be a reasonable demand. But when Islam touches everyone’s lives, non-Muslims included, then it becomes ‘public property’ and the public, non-Muslims included, have every right to comment on Islam.

But what is comment and what is insult? I can comment, but I should not insult. And this is where many do not understand the difference between the two. They feel that commenting also means the freedom to insult. And this is when the problem begins. Have you noticed that Muslims (at least learned Muslims — although there are some stupid ones who try to comment on something they know nothing about) are very careful about commenting on other religions lest they accidentally insult the other religions?

Muslims regard the Prophets of the other religions as also Prophets of Islam. And from the beginning of time there were supposed to be 124,000 Prophets in all, according to the Muslim belief. And EVERY community has a Prophet; sometimes some communities have more than one Prophet at one time. But only 25 Prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran. This means 123,975 more Prophets are unknown. Could Buddha be one of them? Could be, who knows, since there are no names mentioned for 123,975 of the Prophets.

Only stupid and unlearned Muslims would whack the other religions. And those non-Muslims who whack Islam are also stupid and unlearned. And when you collect ‘evidence’ from anti-Islamic websites to support your arguments, then you are even more ignorant than you realise.

On another point, some non-Muslim readers like to copy-and-paste so-called Hadith to support their anti-Islam bashing. They will copy-and-paste a saying or story that is supposed to be ‘authentic’ and gleefully say, “There you are. This is the proof.”

Why do you think Muslims get upset with this cheap shot? Even amongst Muslims there are disagreements as to which Hadith are authentic and which are fakes. There are supposed to be 700,000 Hadith in all. Some Muslims accept only 7,000 of them. Others accept only 5,000. And there are some who accept only 500. Then we have those who reject the entire 700,000 and will not accept even one as authentic.

But we have these non-Muslim readers of Malaysia Today who consider themselves an authority and expert on Islam who cut-and-paste one of the disputed and not unanimously accepted Hadith and say, “There you are, this is proof that Islam sucks.”

As I said, if I were to copy-and-paste the Gospel by Barnabas and say to the Christians, “This is proof that your brand of Christianity is bullshit,” how do you think they would feel? Well, that is the same way I, as would many Muslims, feel — a cheap shot below the belt aimed at smearing Islam in an unfair and unprofessional manner.

So you really do not know much about Islam as what you think you do. Hell, even many Muslims who think they know so much about Islam actually know very little. What they know are merely old wives tales and superstition, which they think is Islam but in reality are mere fables. So please refrain from commenting and then being very smug about it. And anti-Islam websites would be the last source I would depend on to support my anti-Islam bashing. That would be like asking Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to say nice things about Anwar Ibrahim.

29
Apr
09

Message to teachers by Dr Azly Rahman

This piece is dedicated to all my teachers and your teachers on the occasion of World Teachers Day. Good teachers are great revolutionaries..

I begin with words of the British rock musician Roger Waters:

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave the kids alone
Hey teacher leave us kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

– from Pink Floyd’s ‘Brick in the Wall’

“If you can’t do, teach!” the great playwright George Bernard Shaw once said. That was not a nice thing to say to teachers. But why not this maxim: “If you must teach, get them to revolt!” You are given those bright and enquiring young mind to develop into geniuses. You are in a position of power. With you lies the ability to teach others the transformative powers of teaching. It is time to honor the enterprise called teaching, the most revered profession in the history of Humanity. At each stage our life we are either teaching or being taught. But what is teaching?

“What is schooling?”

Teaching, as the thinker Anatole France said, is a subversive act. It must not only inform and remind but also must excite, agitate, and ignite the fire within. It must create troubled minds and leave students with more questions and some answers. It is not a funneling process; it is not a banking concept. It is a romantic act of flowering and transforming. It is a cybernetic act of creating beautiful patterns of thinking in each and every curious mind that we are entrusted to help liberate.

If you can teach, subvert. Turn your students into subversives; ones who will challenge authority and ignite revolutions. Help them revolt against conventional wisdom. Let them question scientific facts. Let them also question historical facts because there are none. Let the children grow into intellectually radical beings who would will refuse to be turned into human cattle that know only how to graze in wastelands cultivated by the modern corporatist states. Let them become radical humanists who will throw the greedy ones out of power.

The world we live in is too damaging to the human mind. It makes us docile. It makes us “dreadful” as the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard would say. It creates this mental chronic fatigue syndrome in us with information overload but not enough of it being processed. The mind cannot reflect because the conditions for reflective moments are not created. We are, as many an information theorist would say, drowned in information and starved for knowledge. Governments find it useful to have unthinking citizens. It is easier to control good workers than to control good thinking citizens.

In Malaysian public universities, we have courses in ‘thinking skills’ but we still conduct witch-hunts. In our public schools, we say we infuse critical and creative thinking skills in our curriculum, but we still produce students who think that rote-memorisation is the best form of learning. Our government wants its citizens to become ‘towering’ people but we have oppressive measures to silent dissenting views.

Teachers need to understand what is mentally ailing this nation. They must help children find heroes within themselves. They must teach what independent thinking means and to fight against those who wish to shackle the mind of the independent thinker.  When one man stands up for justice and his entire political clan revolted against him, we have a classic example of what the Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci called ‘hegemony’. What is the use of one being schooled if in the long run the agenda is to be engineered as beings who would create and propagate structures of oppression such as militarism, structural violence, state-sponsored terrorism, engines of mass destruction and instruments of the perpetuation of Space Age imperialism?

“Abuse of schooling”

We must embrace the idea of teaching for understanding, much popularised by Howard Gardner. There is so much failure in our schools as a result of teaching strategies that do not meet the needs of curious young minds. Teachers are not equipped to meet the mental demand of the ‘multi-tasking multidimensional, multimediated child’ who lives in a millennium that is different from the past.

Do we understand this ‘Millennium Generation’?

We fail these children if they cannot achieve anything but regurgitate the facts we want them to memorise. We get angry when they get bored. We punish them for not wanting to learn. We then call in the police if we feel threatened by the worst of the worst of the failures. The Malaysian minster of education will now need metal detectors in all of our urban schools. He will need to have the Malaysian police permanently stationed in the low-performing ones.

We will have replicas of gangsta-infested American schools such those in East Los Angeles, Detroit, South Bronx, New York, and Paterson and New Jersey where gangs rule the classrooms and middle-school children get recruited to become ‘crack cocaine’ dealers. But do these children want to become failures? Or are teachers and parents, too, at fault? Who will be threatened if our society develops into a Paris that burned a few years ago? We live perhaps in an Orwellian society wherein realities are invented and packaged out of an industrialised culture and schooling has become a powerful instrument of social reproduction rationalised in the language of utilitarianism, technological determinism and liberalism.

With apologies to Albert Camus, ‘one must imagine our human race happy, as we roll the rock up the hill of mass deception’ after having been condemned by the God of Economic Productivity or the Goddess of Surplus and Plenty!

In the words of Roger Waters of the British rock group Pink Floyd, “… all and all we’re just another brick in the wall”.

Teaching is a verb and not a noun. It is an active process in which the teacher, as Socrates would preach, is a ‘midwife’ whose role is to help the child deliver the best that his/her potential has to offer. This dialogue must be continued so that we, as teachers, become closer to becoming a ‘verb’ than continue to exist as ‘nouns’ unaware of what ‘adjectives’ are used to describe us or how we use them to describe ourselves. There is so much to do in the area of ‘thinking skills’ that we could have better achieved.

It seems that we have a major wave of regression as a consequence of policies and pedagogy. But education is about hope and liberation if we just care to engage in an internal critique of the system itself and the way our children and youth are being taught.

Philosophers of education like Rousseau, Froebel, Montessori, Dewey, Freire, Apple, Giroux, and McLaren have all been saying the same thing and that is about the need to engage in critical reflection at every stage of the educational process. We have become a nation of testing and measurement and we have never quite developed in our children the need to challenge and ask questions.

“Learn from Pink Floyd”

But there is hope, as the great Brazilian educator Paulo Freire would advise us educators. It requires a systematic radicalisation of the enterprise of teaching itself. We need to create teachers who are radical enough to go in each and every classroom, armed with a powerful philosophy of teaching and human liberation, and challenge our children even at as an early age as pre- kindergarten. What we see now in our universities is a culture of one-dimensionality, homogenisation and a more sophisticated ‘spoon-feeding-ism’ that is a necessary pre-condition for state-sponsored totalitarianism.

We can change all these – through a radical programme of graduate teacher education at the level of graduate schools of education.

What is our curriculum for teacher education like? How politicised is it? How do we infuse at every level, critical thinking strategies so that we will produce a nation of questioning individuals that pay allegiance not to any government of the day but to ethics and intellectual pursuit without fear or favor? What is the culture of our classrooms like these days? Are we busy disciplining children, correcting behavior or developing their intellectual capabilities so that the genius in each and every one of them will be fully realised? When do we truly educate if we still spend time upholding the virtues of a police state?

Teachers, you are most honoured if you can play your role well – one who inspires revolutions. But first, as Nietzsche would say, teachers must be taught how to think.

Teachers, didn’t we help fight revolutions and regain independence – before the nation was taken over by greedy technocrats and investment bankers?

Ultimately we do not want to create individuals who would, in the words of Pink Floyd, sing these words:

I don’t need no arms around me
I don’t need no drugs to calm me
I have seen the writing on the wall
Don’t think I need anything at all
No don’t think I’ll need anything at all
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall
All in all you were just bricks in the wall

– from Roger Waters, Pink Floyds’ ‘Brick in the Wall Part 3’

To my teachers wherever you may be – I thank you all. Selamat Hari Guru!

OUR USUAL REMINDER, FOLKS:
While the opinion in the article is mine,
the comments are yours;
present them rationally and ethically.
AND — SET ALL I.S.A. DETAINEES FREE]


29
Apr
09

The Altantuya Shaaribuu’s case: how and why she was killed Published in the Liberation French newspaper on 5th March 2009

This is the English translation of the Liberation French article:

Shaaribuu Setev is a bitter and disappointed man. Yet, behind the saddened face of this Mongolian lies a fierce determination. Seated in a sofa in the lobby of an Ulaan Baataar hotel rattled by gushes of a freezing wind, this sixty years old man is ready to fight. His face features, hardened by the suffering and the stern climate, and his intense gaze tell all. “My daughter has been murdered by Malaysians on Malaysian territory. And they did not have even offer a word of apology,” states this professor of psychology at the National University of Mongolia.

The assassination of his daughter, Altantuya Shaaribuu, took place in October 2006. This was a murder unlike others in a region where business conflicts or petty politics are often settled with a gun. Everything in this case, which started in 2002 when the French Spanish company Armaris concluded the sale of three submarines to the Malaysian government for the amount of one billion Euros, is out of the ordinary.

The impact of the “Altantuya case” in France, Malaysia and Mongolia has yet to reach its climax. The murder of the 28 year old Mongolian was the result of a “commission” at the price of 114 million Euros by Armaris to its Malaysian counterpart. This “commission,” which was acknowledged by the Malaysian government in front of the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, has triggered a chain of events that has led to the assassination of Altantuya and the disappearance of several key witnesses in the case.

A report from the Malaysian police, written on 19th november 2006 and which has been kept secret until now (can be read below), reveals dry and precise descriptions as to how this young woman, a member of Asian high society, has been killed. In this document, one of the killers, a policeman of the Malaysian Special Branch named Sirul Omar, replied to the questions of an officer at a police station close to the murder scene. “When the Chinese woman saw that I was taking a gun, she begged me to spare her, saying she was pregnant. Azilah (the commanding officer of Sirul) grabbed her and [threw] her on the ground. I immediately shot the left side of her face. Then Azilah took off her clothes and put them in a black plastic bag. Azilah noticed that her hand was still moving. He ordered me to shoot again, which I did”, said Sirul. This is the first confirmation of Altantuya’s assassins’ identity. “Then we carried her body into the woods. Azilah wrapped the explosives around her legs, her abdomen and her head, and we exploded her.”

The revelation of this report in the French newspaper Liberation is the latest chapter in this colourful and dramatic saga featuring French weapon sellers, Mongolian Shaman, and Malaysian politicians. This case is explosive not only for the Malaysian government, since the deputy Prime minister Najib Razak (who is scheduled to become Prime minister at the end of March) is suspected of having links to the case, but also because it could embarrass the DCNS, this French company specialising in military shipbuilding. The French Spanish company Armaris, which sold two Scorpène and one Agosta submarines to Malaysia in June 2002, was bought by DCNS in 2007.

With her magnetic beauty and sophistication, Altantuya is reminiscent of the troubling image of a Far East Mata Hari. She grew up in Saint Petersburg (Russia), then studied at the Institute of Economic Management in Beijing. Besides speaking English, she is fluent in Russian, Chinese and Korean. The fateful cycle for Altantuya came into gear when she met Abdul Razak Baginda in Hong Kong in 2004. Baginda is a security expert and the director of the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre, a pro-government think-tank. The two quickly became romantically involved. Altantuya, nicknamed Tuya by her friends, proved to be a useful assistant, helping Baginda translate from Russian to English.

Whereas Altantuya is young and beautiful, the rich and alluring Baginda is a well known figure of the Kuala Lumpur’s elite, notably because of his proximity to the Malaysian Deputy Prime minister and minister of Defense Najib Razak (he is also his security affairs adviser). Baginda parades in the most exclusive circles of Kuala Lumpur, sometimes accompanied by his legitimate wife.

In March 2005, Altantuya and Baginda departed for Europe, touring France, Germany, Italy and Portugal in the red Ferrari of Baginda, staying in posh hotels and dining in the finest restaurants of the old Continent. This trip, however, was not only for tourism: the contract for the sale of the submarines had been signed in 2002, but important details had yet to be settled. “We knew that Baginda was used by Deputy Prime minister Najib Razak as an intermediary for weapons systems deals, especially the high level ones,” says a regional security affairs expert.

At the end of March 2005 the couple was in Paris, where they met with Najib Razak. A picture shows the threesome in a Parisian private club. “Tuya showed me the pix. She said that one of the men was her boyfriend, Abdul Razak Baginda, and the other the “big boss”, Najib Razak. I asked her if they were brothers because of the names, but she said no, and that Najib Razak was the ‘prime minister’”, said Amy, Altantuya’s best friend (Najib Razak has sworn on the Koran that he has never met Altantuya). According to a private detective, now in hiding in India, the beautiful Tuya was also the occasional mistress of the deputy Prime minister, who was introduced to her by Baginda at the end of 2004.

The story became dramatic when, in October 2006, Altantuya was informed that the commission paid by the French-Spanish company Armaris had arrived on a Kuala Lumpur bank account. It had been paid to Perimekar, a company owned by Baginda. Altantuya rushed to Kuala Lumpur, in order to claim her share of the commission from Baginda ; she said she was entitled to 500,000 dollars. Baginda and Altantuya broke up prior to this. A jealous Rosmah Mansor, the feared businesswoman and wife of Najib Razak, objected any payment to Altantuya. Altantuya arrived in Kuala Lumpur with two other Mongolian women, one of them was a Shaman responsible for putting a spell on Baginda if he refused to pay. For several days, Altantuya harassed her ex-lover.

On the 18th of October, Baginda could no longer tolerate the daily scenes made by Altantuya in front of his house. He contacted the Director of the Special Branch, Musa Safrie, who happened to also be Najib Razak’s aide de camp. On October 19th, 2006, a little before 9 pm, two police officers of the Special Branch, Azilah Hadridan and Sirul Omar, were sent in front of Baginda’s house where Altantuya was gesticulating and shouting. They had the order of “neutralising the Chinese woman.” They kidnapped her, and drove her ten kilometers away and shot her several times. Then, they destroyed her body with C4 explosives, a type which can only be obtained from within the Defense Ministry. Her entry into Malaysia was erased from the immigration records. It would appear that Altantuya had never come to Malaysia, because there is no trace left of her.

There is no perfect crime. The taxi driver hired by Altantuya for the day did not appreciate that his passenger was kidnapped under his eyes without payment for the fare. He took note of the registration plate of the kidnapper’s car and filed a complaint at the local police station. In a few days, the police identified the car and realised that it was a government vehicle.

Events unfolded that even the Deputy Prime minister Najib Razak could not impede. He tried to cover the case. A few hours before the arrest of Baginda, he sent him a SMS: “I will see the Inspector General of Police at 11 am today… The problem will be solved. Be cool”. A few hours after, Baginda was arrested as well as the two police officers of the Special Branch, Azilah and Sirul.

After a trial considered dubious by many observers, Baginda was acquitted with the accusation of having ordered the murder and released in November 2008. Accused of having perpetrated the murder, Azilah and Sirul appeared in front of the Court last month. If convicted, their sentence is death. The verdict is scheduled for the 9th of April.

Thousands of miles from there, in the Mongolian capital city Ulaan Baataar, Shaaribuu Setev, Altantuya’s father, is trying to control his anger. To him and his family, the acquittal and release of Baginda is symbolic of the unfairness of the Malaysian judicial process: “The Malaysian government is not even answering to the letters from the Mongolian Foreign Affairs Ministry,” he says.

When Shaaribuu came to the Malaysian Parliament to meet Najib Razak, the Deputy Prime minister had to escape through a back door in order to avoid an embarrassing encounter. The Altantuya case has become a key element of the Malaysian political game between Najib Razak (who is expected to become Prime Minister after the United Malay Nation Organisation (UMNO) Congress in March) and the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. So far, Najib Razak has navigated around the obstacles, but the murder of the young Mongolian remains a sword suspended over his head.

One of the most obscure aspects of the Altantuya case is the role of the Armaris company. In October 2007, the Malaysian Deputy Defense minister, Zainal Abdidin Zin, acknowledged in front of the Parliament that Armaris had effectively paid 114 million Euros in commission to Perimekar. He maintained that it was not a bribe, but a payment for “support and coordination services.”

Was there corruption as in the case of the Taiwanese frigates in which the French DCNS was also implicated? DCNS, a private company with public financing, has declined our request for a meeting. “Nobody can comment on this case,” was the sober reply of the DCNS Press relations officer in Paris. A document, which could establish a link between Altantuya and the French company is the guarantee letter written by Abdul Razak Baginda so that his mistress could obtain a visa to enter the Schengen zone (of whom France is a member country). The French embassy could not refuse this service to a man decorated with the Legion d’Honneur. But the role of Altantuya in the submarines negotiations is still not clear. Intelligence agencies find her background intriguing and the Russian FSB (ex-KGB) is following closely the case.

In Ulaan Baataar, Mungunshagai, the eldest son of Altantuya, who is 12 years old, is traumatised by the death of his mother. Altanshagai, the youngest, who is five years old and mentally handicapped, has not understood that he will never see again his mother. “He is asking for her all the time and is staying the whole day prostrated on his chair. Every evening, I bring him sweets and I tell him that his mother gave it to me for him”, says Shaaribuu Setev, the grandfather of the two boys. As for Baginda, he settled down in the United Kingdom with his family. He never uttered a word of regret on the deadly fate of the one who shared his life for two years.

Arnaud Dubus (in Kuala Lumpur, Ulaan Baataar and Paris)

Arnaud did extensive research into this story and travelled the world in search of the truth. I met him in Kuala Lumpur soon after my release from ISA detention after he returned from Mongolia.

This is the original cautioned statement that Sirul Azhar Omar made in the interrogation by the police on 19 November 2006 that confirms not only how and why Altantuya was killed but also that they were hired to kill her:






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