Tunisia: murder of holidaymakers could dent tourism but not hope

Angelique Chrisafis
26th June 2015

Hopes that scale of Sousse resort attack will not spark loss of confidence in a country regarded as relatively peaceful, compared with troubled neighbours

The slaughter of sunbathers and hotel staff on the beaches of a country that has always prided itself as a carefree, laid-back destination for package holidaymakers has dealt a huge blow to Tunisia.

The small north African country lit the first spark of the Arab spring four years ago, when its popular uprising toppled a corrupt dictatorship relatively peacefully. It is often looked to as the hope of the region. Unlike its troubled neighbours, it has managed to keep its political transition on course — crafting a new constitution, staging free presidential and parliamentary elections.

But with a struggling post-revolution economy that depends in large part on its beach resorts and foreign visitors, it was already facing the serious ongoing challenges of how to tackle unemployment, social unrest and strikes, and how to address the feeling among the poorest and the young that their demands, which inspired the revolution — the need for social justice, jobs and the fight to end corruption — are yet to be fully achieved. Read the rest of this entry »

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This Ramadan, a reminder of Islamisation

Zurairi AR
Malay Mail Online
June 28, 2015

JUNE 28 — To paraphrase a friend, Islamisation is no longer creeping in this country. Instead, it is marching down the streets banging the drums, and at no time is it as obvious as Ramadan.

There is just something about the combo of a blessed holy month with millions of hangry adherents that brings out the self-righteous and judgmental ones.

It is undeniable that there is a shift of public sentiment this year, with more and more Muslims publicly saying that fasting is their burden of faith alone, and non-Muslims should not be subjected to the same restrictions in public.

But perhaps we are not there yet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apa lagi Melayu mahu sebenarnya?

Amin Iskandar
The Malaysian Insider
28 June 2015

Bukan Islam tidak boleh menggunakan kalimah Allah kerana ia boleh menyebabkan akidah orang Melayu tergugat.

Kanak-kanak bukan Islam tidak boleh makan di kantin sekolah pada bulan Ramadan kerana anak Melayu akan “terliur” dan terganggu puasanya.

Gadis bukan Islam tidak boleh berpakaian menjolok mata kerana berkemungkinan menyebabkan pemuda Melayu “tidak tahan”.

Sedangkan hampir di setiap kawasan perumahan terdapat masjid atau surau.

Setiap hari selepas sembahyang subuh, tazkirah atau kaset ceramah mengajak orang Melayu agar beriman dan membuat kebaikan dimainkan dengan kuat sehingga kedengaran walaupun dua kilometer jauhnya.

Akan tetapi orang Melayu masih lemah imannya. Jika terlihat sahaja perkara “mungkar”, keimanan mereka akan tergugat.

Apa dah jadi dengan orang Melayu pada hari ini? Read the rest of this entry »

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Salafism – Politics and the puritanical


Islam’s most conservative adherents are finding that politics is hard. But it beats the alternative

WERE it not for his bushy beard and trim moustache, Nader Bakkar could be mistaken for one of Egypt’s secular liberal politicians. The young spokesman for the Nour party is tolerant, reasonable and smart—he is about to begin a fellowship at Harvard. “We are reformers, not revolutionaries,” Mr Bakkar (pictured left) says of his party. “Compromise is not a bad word.” But his facial hair conveys a different message. Mr Bakkar and his party adhere to the ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam known as Salafism.

In the West that brand is most associated with extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS), whose members are sometimes called Salafist-jihadists; or the intolerance of Saudi Arabia, where adherents are called Wahhabis. The Saudis have used their oil wealth to spread the influence of Salafism across the Muslim world, funding Wahhabi-inspired mosques and madrassas—and, at times, extremist groups. As a result, some think Salafism is the fastest-growing Islamic movement.

It is also growing more diverse. All Salafists take a fundamentalist approach to Islam, emulating the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers—al-salaf al-salih, the “pious forefathers”—right down to their facial hair. They reject religious innovation, or bida, and support the implementation of sharia (Islamic law). Salafist scholars, though, are far from homogeneous, expressing different views on everything from apostasy to activism. Most notably, many Salafists now engage in politics despite a tradition of quiescence. But with little to show for their efforts, they must decide whether to push on, withdraw or pursue politics by other means, such as war or terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

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MACC may be guilty of gross incompetence and inefficiency if after tip-off in March, it still have to sent officer to Melbourne to investigate MARA Inc property corruption as if fresh from scratch

I could not believe my eyes when I read the Bernama report in The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Entitled “Mara Inc to open doors to Melbourne property deal probe”, the report quoted the MARA Inc Chairman Datuk Mohammad Lan Allani and the MARA Inc Chief Executive Officer Datuk Abdul Halim Rahim in a joint statement as saying:

“We welcome any investigation or inquiry in respect to our investment, locally and internationally.

“We will pledge our full cooperation and assistance to the relevant authorities for a fair and transparent investigation on the matter or any other matters in respect of MARA Incorporated Sdn Bhd”.

What impertinence! What impudence! Read the rest of this entry »

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A. Samad Said

Jalan bersama Waibi Kit Siang
di Pasir Tumboh di suatu petang
cepat terimbas papan dan paku,
palang jendela dan ensel pintu.

Petang sejarah langit yang lusuh
waktu unggas menghindari ribut,
gema guruh di ufuk nan jauh
mengerdip kisah banjir yang kalut.

Di Pasir Tumboh letih dan mengah
mereka julang panji maruah
sementara pondok dipulihkan
watikah qalbu pun dimasyurkan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Empire Strikes Back (Part IV) – is the script for 1MDB executives Arul and Shahrol to walk out of PAC hearings, probably escorted by Shafee as their counsel, and boycott of PAC proceedings on 1MDB on the ground that Tony Pua has not stepped down as PAC member?

The highly-paid Public Relations Consultants of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1MDB (as Najib is both in law and fact the final approving authority of 1MDB) have gone into an overdrive of offensives since the arrest of former PetroSaudi International (PSI) IT executive, Xavier Andre Justo in Thailand six days ago for attempting to blackmail his former employer on leaked information.

One can already discern four chapters in “The Empire Strikes Back” offensives overdrive:

Chapter 1 – the arrest of the 49-year-old Justo, a Swiss national and former PSI IT executive at around 3 pm on Monday (June 22) at a house in Koh Samui, Thailand with computers, hard drives and other data storage devices.

Chapter 2 – Campaign of demonisation and character-assassination of Justo led by UMNO media like the New Straits Times portraying Justo as a “hedonistic” and “greedy” blackmailer with a photograph of him covered in tattoos on its front-page.

Chapter 3 – Vague and unsubstantiated allegations by Malaysian Cabinet Ministers of tampered leaked information about the 1MDB scandal and threats by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi against the media under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) for reporting “tampered” and inaccurate facts about the 1MDB scandal, again without any substantiation of these allegations.

Are we now in Chapter 4 of “The Empire Strikes Back”, featuring Najib’s choice prosecutor Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who accomplished the mission to ensure that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is now incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison as a result of Anwar’s Sodomy II trial. Read the rest of this entry »

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Emails are not the cause of 1MDB’s financial troubles, but we will defer to the home minister

The Malaysian Insider
27 June 2015

There are now allegations that emails published by The Edge in recent months about certain dealings between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International were doctored and forged.

This follows the arrest of a former top PetroSaudi executive in Thailand on accusations that he extorted his ex-employer.

Certain media have also quoted unnamed security experts as saying the emails were tampered with or forged.

As a consequence, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has issued a warning that The Edge could be suspended. Read the rest of this entry »

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In recurring religious conflicts, Muslim MPs ask where Malaysia is headed

by Joseph Sipalan
Malay Mail Online
June 27, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 ― Muslim lawmakers from both sides of the political divide have raised concerns over the seeming trend of Muslims imposing their beliefs on others, questioning if this is reflective of a wider agenda that is backed by Putrajaya to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state.

The federal lawmakers noted that the federal government appeared either unable to stop or even condoning of incidents in which Islamic sensibilities are imposed on the larger society by religious authorities and individuals.

“This issue bothers me because as our forefathers taught us, religion should be about faith and (is) personal,” Umno’s Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Malay Mail Online via text message.

“I suspect the longer-term objective of these groups is to usurp power through religious means and therefore avoid being legitimately elected.

“While I respect their motives and intentions, the elected government of the day must control the actions of these groups and act in the interest of all the citizens of the country,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Both Annuar Musa and MACC should explain whether MARA and MACC have received earlier tip-off about corruption of MARA Inc property purchase in Melbourne, and if so, why no action until The Age expose on Tuesday

The Najib administration continues to tie itself in knots, in one scandal after another.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday that MARA officials named in Australian newspaper The Age’s report on the Melbourne property scandal are innocent until proven guilty.

He said no action can be taken against them based on a “trial by media” as they must be thoroughly investigated first.
“No action has been taken against them yet. Investigation must be done to determine whether they broke the law,” Najib told a press conference after chairing Umno’s supreme council meeting.

“We cannot take action based on suspicion or a trial by media or social media. It must be based on the rule of law. You are deemed innocent until proven guilty.”

He said the government would remain transparent over the case and assured that the scandal would be thoroughly investigated.

This is very different from the tenor of the statement made by the MARA Chairman, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday to submit several documents relating to the purchase of properties in Australia by MARA Inc. Read the rest of this entry »

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1MDB Scandal – The Empire Strikes Back after four months

Since the arrest of the former PetroSaudi International (PSI) IT executive in Koh Samui, Thailand at around 3 pm on Monday (June 22) for attempting to blackmail his former employer on leaked information, we have seen “The Empire Strikes Back” on the six-year 1MDB scandal in Malaysia.

Suddenly, some Ministers have becoming quite articulate on the 1MDB scandal, with the Home Minister Datuk Zahid Hamidi claiming ominously that the former PSI executive Xavier Andre Justo in his interrogation by Thai police had implicated several Malaysians who had asked him to manipulate the leaked information which was passed to whistleblower site Sarawak Report.

He even said Putrajaya was prepared to extradite these individuals if there is request from Bangkok.

Zahid also threatened to act against local media that used the leaked information which had been the source of unremitting embarrassment to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak since the end of February when the Sarawak Report website and London’s Sunday Times newspaper reported in-depth investigations into the trail of the missing 1MDB missing billions after gaining access to thousands of documents and emails relating to transactions by 1MDB, including its initial joint venture with the little known oil company PetroSaudi International from 2009.

PSI’s leaked information included communications with 1MDB that had embroiled the latter in controversy as it highlighted questionable transfer of funds to a company controlled by Malaysian billionaire Jho Low, who is close to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s family.

PSI and 1MDB have yet to deny these allegations but both insisted that it is based on “tampered” evidence.

Zahid appears to be unfazed when a police source from Thailand’s crime suppression division, which arrested Justo, told Malaysiakini that Interpol and the Malaysian authorities were not involved in the investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Which is in worse shape: BN or opposition?

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
26 June 2015

Although it is a long way to the next general election, the current developments we are seeing will, in my opinion, be decisive in shaping the outcome and winner of the next elections. Firstly, we have seen a lot of adverse publicity given the break up of opposition pact, Pakatan Rakyat.

Pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) observers and also some disillusioned opposition supporters are claiming this is dealing a death blow to the opposition’s election hopes. But is this so? I beg to differ from them.

What is happening to the Pakatan is actually a blessing in disguise for them. In fact, it is a big blessing. This is because if we look at the political configuration closely, it is not that the opposition coalition is breaking up. It is the hard line faction of Pas that is splitting from the rest of the Pakatan. This faction wants to chart a future for the country based on Islamic law and a more rigid Islamic state. But can they succeed?

Well, despite the conservative candidates sweeping all the leadership positions in the recent Pas elections, deep down I am sure that they realise that they represent only a minority of the Malay Muslim population. My reading is that the majority of Muslims do not want a more fundamentalist Islamic society. They may have concerns about some aspects of modern life and western values. But even the less educated among them know what has been happening in fundamentalist Islamic nations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why did Annuar make the U-turn in 48 hours from National Economic Council chaired by Najib approving the Melbourne Dudley Street property deal by Mara Inc to Najib opposing the Melbourne purchase?

MARA Chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa should explain why he made the U-turn in 48 hours from saying at his media conference on Wednesday that the National Economic Council chaired by the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had approved the Melbourne Dudley Street property deal by MARA Inc. to his statement today that Najib had actually opposed the Melbourne purchase?

Annuar should know that this is the 21st century and Information Age and he cannot just behave like monarchs of olden days when information could be controlled and manipulated for him to wilfully and arbitrarily insist that he had never said what he had actually uttered, or that he had been misunderstood or his statements had been twisted when what he said was crystal-clear.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Annuar could complain that the latter’s statement had been “twisted” by news portals like Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider to mean that Najib had personally approved the purchase, when the decision to buy Dudley House in Melbourne was made by the National Economic Council by consensus.

Or in the subsequent words of Annuar in his Facebook: ‘There is no question of approval by any individual, including the prime minister. As I said, it was approved by the National Economic Council and done according to procedure. I hope this is clear.”

Najib and Annuar were only trying to quibble that it is wrong to say that Najib had given approval for the Dudley House purchase when it was decided by the National Economic Council by consensus although chaired by Najib. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for brave new thinking under Impian Malaysia – case for greater fiscal decentralisation to restructure new Federal-State relations

Impian Kelantan, as part of Impian Malaysia, is dedicated to the fulfilment of an inclusive vision where Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, are bonded together under an united Malaysian identity and consciousness where they have more in common as citizens of this country than the differences that divide them whether over race, religion or region.

Over the decades, more and more Malaysians should feel that they are increasingly Malaysian-minded finding more common ground with other Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, although their racial characteristics, religious identities and regional stakes will continue to be an integral part of their lives.

Otherwise, Malaysian nation-building would be on a trajectory of failure since Merdeka in 1957 and Malaysia Agreement in 1963.
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Annuar must convene emergency MARA Council meeting to demand that MARA Inc Chairman Mohd Lan Allani and CEO Halim Rahman cough out the A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million) bribe MARA paid for the Dudley House apartment block in Melbourne

MARA Chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa is not presenting himself as a model public servant when he refuses to convene an emergency meeting of the MARA Council following the Tuesday expose in Australian daily, The Age, on the MARA Inc. property scams, particularly over the Dudley International House apartment block in Melbourne, which was acquired with A$22.5 million (RM65.4 million) MARA funds, but involving a bribe of A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million), as well as investigations into MARA Inc’s other Australian properties.

Following The Age report, the Australian Federal Police have launched Operation Carambola with raids in Melbourne as part of an international bribery and money-laundering investigation involving high-ranking Malaysian officials, businessmen and the purchase of Melbourne property, seizing computers and files from a home in Vermont South with several other properties targeted across Melbourne.

But it is business as usual in MARA back in Malaysia, although Malaysia has been thrust into the global stage with an international corruption scandal involving a key government statutory body and public servants.

What is most shocking is the rather indifferent reactions of the government authorities, in particular the MARA Chairman who said in a media conference yesterday that MARA will not deny the claims and allegations in the Australian newspaper report and was treating the media expose as “information” to facilitate investigations.

It would appear that Annuar was not surprised at all by the expose in The Age, which completely undermines his claim that he was not aware that the value of Dudley House property had been inflated until he read the reports.

Was Annuar telling the truth and could he be so ignorant about the MARA Inc property scams in Australia? Read the rest of this entry »

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Unappreciated in my own country

Dina Zaman
The Malaysian Insider
26 June 2015

I never thought I would say this but when I arrived home from Singapore, and had a long drawn out battle with baggage delays at KLIA, and then touts at KL Sentral, I looked up to the dark evening sky and thought how Malaysia had become a third world country.

As I stood there with my bags, observing fellow Malaysians shouting at the touts, while the security guards looked away, and then seeing a poor, hapless foreign porter being heckled by a lazy plonker of a Malaysian, I said to myself, there has to be a better way of living and to live.

While I wrestled with anger and contempt at the touts, the Malay in me, the Muslim in me felt dismayed to see much older Malay men wearing the kopiahs (skullcaps) touting cab rides and swearing at those who declined their offers.

Apa dah jadi dengan orang Melayu kita ni (What’s happening to the Malays), I said to myself. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fear-mongering in Malaysia

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
26 June 2015

Most recently, a group of angry… very angry men stormed Penang government’s administrative building and proceeded to express their dissatisfaction over an issue involving an illegal signage in the heart of George Town.

After awhile, the group split up into two; one group went to the third floor to deliver a memorandum and the other group stayed on the ground floor where the latter, in a fit of rage mixed with adrenalin, brazenly decided to desecrate a few flags.

Unfortunately for us, these acts of intimidation are becoming a permanent fixture in our local society. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now

By Scott Stewart
Security Weekly
Stratfor Global Intelligence

JUNE 25, 2015

In recent weeks, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking about the jihadist strategy of al Qaeda and how it compares to that of the Islamic State. Earlier this month, I wrote about the possibility that the al Qaeda brand of jihadism could outlast that of the Islamic State. Last week, I wrote about how ideologies are harder to kill than individuals, focusing on the effect that the death of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi will have on the group and the wider global jihadist movement.

But beyond the impact of leaders like al-Wahayshi, there are other facets of strategy that will influence the war for the soul of jihadism. Specifically, I am talking about time and place. Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State seek to establish a global caliphate, but both differ quite starkly in how to accomplish this task and how soon it can be achieved. Read the rest of this entry »

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All MARA Council members should collecitlvely resign if they caanot explain why they agreed to the establishment of offshore companies in tax havens to buy properties overseas as if engaged in dubious and dishonourable transactions

Yesterday, MARA Chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa said MARA Council has given its subsidiary, Mara Incorporated Sdn. Bhd (MARA Inc.) seven days to provide a detailed written explanation on all matters pertaining to various property deals in Australia.

Annuar said he wants not only an account of the purchase of the Dudley Street apartment block in Melbourne raised by the Australian newspaper, the Age, but also a report on the various transactions in Australia.

He said a special meeting will be held within the next two weeks to probe this matter and discuss further action, based on the report to be provided to the council by Mara Inc.

What Annuar is doing is too little and too late. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is there a Cabinet Minister courageous, public-spirited and patriotic enough to suggest at Cabinet meeting tomorrow that Najib should take leave as PM until the growing number of scandals involving 1MDB, Felda Global Venture (FGV), Tabung Haji and now MARA are resolved?

Is there a Cabinet Minister who is courageous, public-spirited and patriotic enough to suggest at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow that Datuk Seri Najib Razak should take leave as Prime Minister until the growing number of scandals involving 1MDB, Felda Global Venture (FGV), Tabung Haji and now MARA are resolved?

The unusual spectacle of the Prime Minister taking to tweets to protest that certain media had twisted the remarks by the MARA Chairman, Tan Sri Annuar Musa that he had approved the MARA purchase of the five-storey Dudley International House apartment block in Melbourne in 2013 has raised even more questions about the Najib premiership – including whether Najib was personally sending out the tweets or whether it was being handled by his grossly-overpaid but misguided “Public Relations” consultants.

I have closely listened to the video recording of Annuar’s press conference statement and I do not think it is fair on the Prime Minister’s part to blame any media for highlighting that Najib had personally approved the MARA acquisition of the Dudley House apartment block in Melbourne.

May be the Prime Minister and his grossly-overpaid Public Relations consultants would like to consider hosting a meeting of all journalists in the country, whether print or online and embracing all languages, and asking them to vote by secret ballot whether Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider had twisted Annuar’s statement when they chose the headline “Najib luluskan” (Najib approved) on the MARA purchase of the Melbourne property. Read the rest of this entry »

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