Archive for February 24th, 2011

Commission must be neutral

Brave New World
By Azmi Sharom
The Star
Thursday February 24, 2011

To ensure that there is no conflict of interest, the conducting officers must be totally unbiased.

THE family of Teoh Beng Hock has decided that they do not want to take part in the Commission of Inquiry which was set up to investigate his death.

This act has been criticised by some quarters as being a political ploy designed to delay the proceedings. I beg to disagree.

The family has some very compelling reasons for doing what they did.

Their main complaint is that there is currently an appeal in the courts regarding the findings of the inquest. Read the rest of this entry »


One Libyan Battle Is Fought in Social and News Media

Middle East
The New York Times
February 23, 2011

CAIRO — While Al-Jamahiriya, the Libyan state-owned television channel, was broadcasting nonstop patriotic songs, poetry recitations and rowdy rallies supporting the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, on Tuesday, Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite channel based in Doha, was showing images of angry Libyan demonstrators throwing shoes at a giant street screen carrying live pictures of Colonel Qaddafi’s speech.

The contrast highlighted a fierce battle between Colonel Qaddafi’s supporters, who were using the state-run news media, and Libyan protesters, who were turning to social media and the foreign news media, to win over hearts and minds, inside and outside Libya.

This tug-of-war has been going on since a public uprising started on Feb. 17 calling for Colonel Qaddafi’s ouster. His rivals have clearly made a global impression through multiple amateur video Web posts, visceral pictures, twitter posts and dozens of heartfelt interviews on Arab television stations telling stories of a ruthless repression unleashed by troops loyal to Colonel Qaddafi.

But the Libyan leader, who has ruled this tribal society unopposed since 1969, has demonstrated that he will not easily be outmaneuvered. His television channels appealed on Tuesday for amateur images showing support from his base and beseeched viewers to place them online, too.

Government channels have run a written appeal: “For the dear brothers whose hobby is photography and video taping, please put up videos online that show the massive support for our beloved leader.”

In Colonel Qaddafi’s all-out media counteroffensive, a sports channel and a music channel that are popular among the young have instead been showing 24-hour programs of poetry reciters eulogizing his achievements and films of pro-government rallies waving his pictures. Read the rest of this entry »


Unrest in the Middle East and Africa — country by country

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — Demonstrations have spread across a swath of the Middle East and Africa. Here are the latest developments, including the roots of the unrest:

Wednesday’s developments:


An opposition figure told CNN that a pilot who had been ordered to bomb oil fields southwest of Benghazi refused to do so and instead ejected from the plane. Citing military sources, the Libyan newspaper Quryna reported that the two people aboard — the pilot and co-pilot — parachuted out and that the plane then crashed into an uninhabited area west of Ajdabiya, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Benghazi.

The Swedish tabloid Expressen reported that Libya’s former justice minister has accused Moammar Gadhafi of ordering the 1988 bombing of a jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people.

Various nations worked to evacuate their citizens for Libya.

Roots of unrest:

Protests in Libya began in January when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. Gadhafi’s government, which has ruled since a 1969 coup, responded with a $24 billion fund for housing and development. A month later, more demonstrations were sparked when police detained relatives of those killed in an alleged 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment has also fueled the protests.


Bahrain has released about 25 high-profile political detainees, following an order by the king to free those he described as “prisoners of conscience” and halt proceedings against others, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said Wednesday.

Among those released were the prominent blogger and human rights activist Ali Abdulemam, who runs; Abdul-Ghani Khanjar, a member of Committee for the Victims of Torture; and Mohammed Saeed, who works with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama last week to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf state since the 18th century. Young members of the country’s Shiite Muslim majority have staged protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country’s Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in late 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s lackluster response to a neighbour in need

Letter by Dr Nicholas Lee

Dear MP Lim Kit Siang,

I have never written to you but I do so now in the hopes of bring to light a small matter.

As you may have read in the newspapers, Christchurch, the second largest city in New Zealand has suffered a damaging earthquake. Within a single day of that report, the world raced to provide aid to the stricken city. Offers of aid came from neighbouring nations such as Australia and Singapore. Form further a field, assistance came from Japan, Taiwan, United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea. Even Thailand made a small gesture to provide some financial aid to the earthquake victims.

As for Malaysia, we took an entire day to respond. And our dear PM only went so far as to offer condolences and to monitor our own citizens (students). Nothing more. This behaviour strikes me as somewhat lackluster for a few reasons. Read the rest of this entry »


In praise of Lim Kit Siang

by Humayun Kabir | FMT

IPOH: DAP vice-chairman M Kulasegaran would have been one of the statistics of the brain drain from Malaysia if he had not read Lim Kit Siang’s book “Time Bombs in Malaysia”.

The book changed his destiny, he said in a tribute to Lim on the occasion of the opposition veteran’s 70th birthday.

Kulasegaran bought the book in 1978 – the year it first appeared – while he was en route to Subang airport for his flight to England for his law studies. He was then 21.

“On the long flight to London, I read the book and almost immediately began to rescind a prior decision I had made not to return to the country of my birth after my law studies for reason of its discriminatory policies,” he said in a statement released online yesterday.

He said it had kept alive his hope for political reform in Malaysia.
Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s Sorry Record on Press Freedom

by Malaysia Center for Independent Journalism
Ruling coalition’s ‘multi-pronged approach’ to curb expression

Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional, or national ruling coalition, has gone to extreme ends to control freedom of expression and monopolize the dissemination of information, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Center for Independent Journalism.

The NGO’s report, released Tuesday, says the Barisan “adopted a multi-pronged approach, using the myriad of laws at its disposal to curb expression. The Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 was used to intimidate The Star, China Press and Special Weekly, among others.”

A summary of the report, furnished by the center, follows. It is the fourth such report the organization has released.
Read the rest of this entry »


Letter to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers on Interlok as Literature School Text

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Dear Esteemed Malaysians,

I am not sure if you have been following this issue which is not only causing concern amongst many Malaysians but it also has the potential to poison young minds through its insidious and divisive racial stereotyping and messages.

I feel that, purely on educational and pedagogical grounds, this book with its denigration of the various communities, and in the context of our multi-ethnic society facing one of the most turbulent periods of our history, should be subject to higher standards of acceptance before being designated as a reading text in our schools.

This is not to challenge the artistic freedom and independence of the writer in pursuing his craft and writing on any subject that he chooses. In our country there is a need for greater candor and honesty on all types of divisive issues, however sensitive there are. Writers and artists should be encouraged to write freely and without any restrictions; and all Malaysians should work harder to dismantle the constraints on our freedom of expression and other freedoms.
Read the rest of this entry »