- Malaysia’s Anwar dismisses offers of exile abroad
- What are the criteria for male MBs?
- Holocaust survivors and their descendants accuse Israel of ‘genocide’
- [VIDEO] Anwar: Don’t negate PAS’ importance in Pakatan
Posted: 25 Aug 2014 02:10 AM PDT
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has rejected offers of asylum abroad ahead of a final appeal in October on a sodomy conviction that could see him jailed, a political aide said Monday (Aug 25)
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has rejected offers of asylum abroad ahead of a final appeal in October on a sodomy conviction that could see him jailed, a political aide said Monday (Aug 25).
Anwar was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in March on charges he sodomised a young former male aide, but is free pending a final appeal set for October 28-29. Anwar, 67, has dismissed the case as fabricated by the government to ruin his political career.
The political aide, who asked not to be named, declined further comment but said that a media report Monday on the asylum offers was correct.
The Star newspaper quoted Anwar saying he had received several offers by “foreign leaders” to go overseas but would not accept them. “I met up with a few foreign leaders who advised me to go overseas to escape a possible prison sentence. At my age, they say they cannot imagine seeing me behind bars,” Anwar was quoted as saying. The story did not specify which countries Anwar was speaking of.
Sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years’ jail in the Muslim-majority nation. The accusation surfaced shortly after Anwar led a three-party alliance to unprecedented electoral gains in 2008. A lower court acquitted Anwar in 2012, but an appeals court controversially overturned that verdict in March.
Anwar, a former top leader in Malaysia’s ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), had earlier spent six years in jail on separate sodomy and corruption charges after a power struggle in the late 1990s that saw him expelled from the party. The charges triggered massive protests against the UMNO-led regime. UMNO has governed since independence in 1957, but has seen its support slump over corruption, authoritarian rule and divisive racial policies.
After his release, Anwar joined the fractious opposition, leading it to unprecedented electoral gains.
Posted: 25 Aug 2014 12:21 AM PDT
Najib Abdul Razak's latest slogan 'Endless Possibilities' only applies to men. In Najib's Malaysia, women face 'Endless Objections'. The latest victim is Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Her plan to become the first woman menteri besar for Selangor is being thwarted by Umno Baru and the critics in her own coalition.
In patriarchal Malaysia, women must prove themselves more than most men, and obstacles are deliberately put in their way. Many women know that if they put their minds to it, they can achieve whatever they desire. Have the people who question Wan Azizah's suitability, applied the same rigorous standards to MBs in other states? Unsurprisingly, MBs in the opposition-held states of Selangor, and Penang are subjected to intense scrutiny.
Did anyone ask if the Kelantan MB possessed the necessary experience? Ahmad Yaakob, the Syariah graduate from Al-Azhar University in Egypt and former teacher did not have a rough ride when he was chosen as MB for Kelantan.
Similarly, his predecessor, 'Tok Guru', who is much respected and admired, even by non-Muslims, and has been credited for PAS' increased popularity among non-Muslims, eased effortlessly into the role of MB.
The former MB of Terengganu, Ahmad Said, who many will remember as the explorer who met the penguins in Antarctica, and whose temper tantrums, just before his daughter's wedding caught Najib's attention, was not the first choice for MB, in 2008. In the Terengganu constitutional crisis, Ahmad was alleged to be the sultan's favourite, despite Ahmad's unpopularity within Umno Baru.
Did anyone question if Mukhriz Mahathir had the necessary experience to be MB? Sometimes, one's political pedigree is enough to silence one's detractors.
In 2010, Perak's BN senior executive councillor Hamidah Osman (right) was rumoured to be Najib's preferred choice for MB, because of her alleged role in persuading three Pakatan assemblypersons to leap frog to 'independence', thus causing the collapse of Pakatan's 10-month government of Perak.
If Najib had been successful in making Hamidah the MB of Perak, he would have been lauded for being progressive. What a wasted opportunity! Instead, Najib listened to the chauvinists in Umno Baru and chose Zambry Abdul Kadir instead.
In a face-saving gesture, Hamidah betrayed every woman in Malaysia, when she said that a female politician could become a minister, but not an MB. "As menteri besar, one has to meet the Tuanku, where protocol is involved, and one has to meet religious officers, and in such situations it is not possible for a woman to become the head of a state government."
This mantra is continually applied to women, who might accompany the sultan. Recently, Umno Baru lawyer Mohd Hafarizam Harun mentioned a woman's unsuitability to be the MB, because her menstruation would be an "obstacle for her, to accompany the sultan at religious functions".
No mention of women being ineligible
The news article on Hafarizam also said that in the Selangor constitution, an MB must be "a member of the Malay race and profess the Muslim religion". There was no mention of women being ineligible.
Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz (right), a Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) Malaysia lecturer agreed that it was possible for a woman to be MB. "There is no specification in the state laws that does not allow for a woman to be the menteri besar. The main requirements are for the candidate to be Muslim and Malay".
Conscious of her Umno Baru minders, she cautiously said, "But we also have to take into account sensitivities and taboos in society, as well as whether we are ready for a female menteri besar".
Why is Shamrahayu afraid of advancing the progress of other women? Is she aware that at one time, women had great difficulty getting an education, let along becoming lecturers?
Najib became Malaysia's youngest MB when he was 29, in 1982. Did anyone question his suitability as MB, for Pahang? Did the sympathy vote, after the death of his father, a few years earlier, which made him suitable?
Last year, Najib took over from Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, as the Women, Family and Community Development Minister. Did anyone broach the subject of his ability to hold three portfolios – prime minister, finance minister and also women minister? Was he paid three salaries? How did other women gauge his effectiveness as a minister in charge of women's affairs?
Najib cares more about his public image. He craves status and power. Over the years, many women in employment have given up lucrative careers, because of expensive child care. Single mothers are neglected. The syariah laws do not protect women. Child marriages destroy the lives of many young girls. Sports personalities are let off when they commit statutory rape.
How did Najib transform the lives of women during his tenure as the Women Minister? He could not fill the quota for women in government. He lacked the courage and conviction to push through policies, which would help Malaysian women. The bigger disappointment is that few women complained about him being an ineffective minister for women's affairs.
Sometimes, those who blight the hopes of Malaysian women are other women. Wan Azizah is being savaged for wanting to become MB, not because of her education, her achievements as a doctor, her knowledge of the struggles as a wife, working mother and grandmother, but because she is Anwar Ibrahim's wife.
By the time Wan Azizah takes her place as MB, she will be battle-hardened. Being a good MB is not gender-specific. It is about leadership skills and the passion to engage with Malaysians, for one common purpose.
Another fear of Umno Baru and conservative Malays is that once a woman becomes an MB, the rakyat will also accept the possibility of capable non-Malays becoming MBs, and PM. That would be the death knell of parties based on race and religion, like Umno Baru and PAS.
Posted: 24 Aug 2014 11:35 PM PDT
More than 300 Holocaust survivors and their descendants have condemned what they described as Israel's ‘genocide of Palestinian people’ in an advert in the New York Times
Dozens of Holocaust survivors, together with hundreds of descendants of Holocaust survivors and victims, have accused Israel of "genocide" for the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza since the conflict erupted in July.
In an open letter released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and published as an advert in The New York Times, the group calls for a full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel over its "wholesale effort to destroy Gaza".
"Genocide begins with the silence of the world," the statement reads, "We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people."
The statement also condemns the United States for its financial and diplomatic support of Israel.
The signatories express alarm at "the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever pitch."
This condemnation was designed as a response to a widely-published advertisement from Nobel prize-winning author Elie Wiesel that condemned Hamas for its "use of children as human shields".
The statement reads: "We are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel's abuse of our history […] to justify the unjustifiable."
Of the 327 signatories, 40 survived the Holocaust and the other 287 are descendants of Holocaust survivors or victims.
Recent today reports refer to the destruction of an high rise office building in the southern town of Rafah, and the bombing of an apartment building in Gaza City amid attempts from the Egyptian government to establish a durable ceasefire.
More than 2,100 Palestinians, including 500 children have been killed in the conflict, according to Palestinian health officials and UN figures. Israel has lost 64 soldiers and four civilians.
Posted: 24 Aug 2014 10:46 PM PDT
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