Saturday, 7 February 2009

A Hail of Criticism for the Perak ruler’s decision, the EC and the assemblymen

Jumaat, 6 Februari 2009 •

Below is a compilation of the comments from various experts on Sultan Azlan Shah’s controversial decision to reject Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin’s recommendation to dissolve the state assembly; his order that Nizar resign; the Election Commission’s disgraceful refusal to fix by-election dates for Behrang and Changkat Jering; the actions of the Behrang and Changkat Jering assemblymen

Sultan Azlan Shah, author of ‘Constitutional Monarchy, Rule of Law and Good Governance’.

“Under normal circumstances, it is taken for granted that the Yang di Pertuan Agong would not withhold his consent to a request for the dissolution of Parliament.

“His role is purely formal.”

Abdul Aziz Bari, law professor at the International Islamic University

“The problem in Malaysia is that the law is not allowed to take its course. I think the Sultan has made a mistake.”

Bari said while it is the Sultan’s prerogative whether or not to dissolve the state assembly and allow fresh elections, the Sultan should not insist on the resignation of his appointed Menteri Besar, until it was clear he no longer held the majority support of the state’s lawmakers.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, human rights lawyer

“It could be said there is no situation of no-confidence here because of the dispute over the two seats (Behrang and Changkat Jering). A vote of no-confidence can only be taken by people who are legitimately entitled to vote, meaning people who are still assemblymen.

“As such, the legal basis of the Sultan’s directive may not be found.”

P Ramakrishnan, Aliran

“Legally there exist no doubts as to the vacancies of these two seats but there are clearly doubts as to why the Election Commission chose to take this decision which is without doubt ultra vires.”

“Aliran would also like to appeal to His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Perak, in all humility, to kindly consent to the dissolution of the state assembly as a way to overcome this deadlock.”

James Chin, political analyst from Monash University, KL wing

“According to the old British system, a monarch should always follow the advice of the Prime Minister, regardless of personal preference.

“The Sultan should know the law better than any of us, as he was formerly the Lord President of the Supreme Court

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Gua Musang MP

“The Constitution makes no provision for his removal by any other means, including by petitions or instructions from any other authority,” said Razaleigh in a statement, adding that Nizar is lawfully the Menteri Besar until he resigns of his own accord, or is removed by a vote of no-confidence in a formal sitting of the assembly.

“Defections are not the basis for the formation of a government. Elections are. Governments are formed after citizens have expressed their choice through free and fair elections. Our constitution specifies a formal process for the formation of a government.”

”The two assemblymen (Behrang and Changkat Jering) whose allegiance we have suddenly gained are under investigation for corruption, while the Bota assemblyman’s justification for his record-breaking 10-day double-hop is an insult to the public’s intelligence and nauseating in its insincerity.”

Mahathir Mohammad, former prime minister

“Is Umno so desperate that it cannot wait for the criminal court decision against them before accepting them,” Mahathir wrote in his blog, referring to the Feb 10 corruption trial awaiting the Behrang and Changkat Jering assemblymen.

“If they are accepted now and then found not guilty, the so-called Umno-led government will be accused of influencing the court. True or not does not matter as the public’s perception is such. It will have an effect in the 13th general election.”

Khoo Kay Peng, political analyst

“Umno should prove to Malaysians that it is willing to change its ways. Accepting the two assemblymen, who are facing corruption charges, into its fold only shows it is digging in keep its old habits.”

Lim Si Pin, Gerakan Youth chief

“You are cheating the people as you think the voters are stupid. You are the representative of the people, how can you defect so easily.

“This is an abuse of the democratic process. Gerakan is against the party hopping culture and we do not support BN’s method of taking control of the Perak government by dubious means.

Lim Si Boon, Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Perak

“Elections are the prerogative of the (state) government. We just want the most practical way with the least disruption.”

Param Cumaraswamy, prominent lawyer and former United Nations special rapporteur:

“A constitutional crisis is brewing,” he said, adding that it would now be difficult for either side to effectively govern Perak.


Source: Suara KeADILan Online

Friday, 6 February 2009

ASEAN's Unsolved Human Dilemma

Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

Suffer the Rohingya

About 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar. They are a Muslim group in a Buddhist state. They are not recognized as one of Myanmar's official minorities, which means they are subject to persecution and worse in that army-run dictatorship. Not surprisingly, thousands of Rohingya have fled their homeland. Officially, some 28,000 Rohingya live in refugee camps in Bangladesh; that number is dwarfed by the estimated 200,000 living illegally there.

The Rohingya's precarious existence makes them easy prey for predators of all sorts. Human traffickers promise them better lives outside Myanmar — for a fee. The exodus to countries throughout Southeast Asia exposes them to different dangers. In recent weeks, some 200 Rohingya have been discovered adrift at sea. They tell of being towed into international waters by the Thai military, with engines sabotaged. Hundreds more are thought to have drowned.


After initially denying any involvement, the Thai military admitted towing the Rohingya out to sea, but with food, water and functioning engines. The military also deny charges of beating refugees before exiling them. In the face of growing international criticism, the Thai government has asked the U.N. High Commission for Refugees to inspect the refugees it has in custody. While rejecting allegations of Thai misconduct, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva blamed traffickers for the plight of the Rohingya and has called on all countries of the region to help deal with this problem.


Mr. Abhisit is right about one thing: While the number of Rohingya intercepted in Thai waters has jumped fourfold in two years — from 1,225 in 2006 to 4,886 last year — this is not just a Thai problem. Rohingya refugees are found in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, and refugees say they would rather die than go home.


Using Orwellian logic, Myanmar even denies that the refugees originate there: "Rohingya people are not among Myanmar's more than 100 ethnic minority groups." Nonetheless, the junta has said it will tighten its borders to prevent more people from fleeing the country. That is an ominous promise. The fate of the Rohingya is another line in the indictment against the junta that rules Myanmar. That does not absolve the rest of the world from doing more to help this embattled minority.

Source: The Japan Times Online

Muslims Not Even The IOC bother to Lift A Finger: The Rohingya of Mynmar


FOCUS: The Rohingya of Myanmar

By Najad Abdullahi in Kuala Lumpur

While the Thai authorities continue to face allegations of abuse of Muslim Rohingya migrants, the policy of rejecting and forcefully repatriating asylum seekers landing on Thai soil is not new.

But increased media attention to the plight of the Rohingya and images of Thai soldiers stood guard over rows of bedraggled men have highlighted the desperation of a minority group effectively rendered stateless by the Myanmar government.

IN VIDEO


Rohingya claim Thai abuseAccording to Kraisak Choonhavan, a Thai government official, between 2004 and 2008, at least 4,866 Rohingya arrived in Thailand, many of whom have since been repatriated to Myanmar.

In December alone, nearly a thousand arrived along Thailand's Andaman coastline.

Travelling in rickety wooden boats from Myanmar, the winter months when the tides are at their lowest are viewed as the best time to set sail.

Human Rights Watch says the orders to deport the Rohingya are part of a broader policy on the part of Thai authorities aimed at keeping the stateless ethnic group out of Thailand.

"This is not a one-off thing where the authorities decide to deport who they see as illegal immigrants," Sunai Phasuk, a Thailand and Myanmar researcher, told Al Jazeera.

"There is a policy aimed at the Rohingya... a directive given from higher-ranking officials."

'Separatist links'

Sunai is referring to clams by the Thai military that the Rohingya may join the Muslim separatist movement in the country's south – a conflict which has claimed more than 3,000 lives over the past five years.

Al Jazeera has spoken to members of a civilian militia recruited and trained by the Thai military to monitor the movements of Rohingya refugees and to round up illegal immigrants.

"We practise how to shoot guns and train after dark because sometimes the Rohingya come out at night by boat and run up into the hills," said Saman Manee Jansuk, a local resident living near the Thailand-Myanmar border

"We don't want them coming here."

A senior Thai military officer overseeing the treatment of the Rohingya has himself been heavily involved in previous and sometimes controversial military operations in the south.

Colonel Manat Kongpan, now chief of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) in the southern province of Ranong, was one of the officers charged over the deaths of 28 Muslim men at the Krue Se mosque siege in the town of Pattani in 2004.

Repeated requests for an interview with Manat were refused, but he has been quoted as saying that Thailand has "a duty to protect itself".

It is unclear though why ISOC, a shadowy army division revived after the 2006 military coup, has become involved with handling the case of the Rohingya, rather than the Thai immigration or border authorities who normally process migrants.

'No evidence'

Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, a non-governmental organisation documenting the plight of the Rohingya, told Al Jazeera that she has seen no evidence that Rohingya migrants have joined separatist fighters in southern Thailand.

"There is no evidence they have joined any movement. These people are starving and simply want to feed their families.

"They could not do this in Myanmar, and many found themselves destitute in refugee camps in Bangladesh," she said.

"They do not care about some ideology – political or religious."

But according to a leading Thai forensics expert, "explosives residue" was found on one of the Rohingya boats that landed on Thailand's Andaman coast in December.

Dr Porntip Rojanasunan, a forensic pathologist working for the ministry of justice, was asked by the Thai military to examine the contents of some of the boats, specifically to examine whether the refugees may be linked to fighters in the south, and if they held any objects that may be a "security threat".

Explosives

"There were substances and chemicals found that can be used in explosives ... there was actually quite a significant level," she told Al Jazeera.

Asked whether the traces could be directly linked to the separatist movement in the south, she said: "I can only give the authorities what my results of the tests were."

"Just because a group of Muslims come to this country, on their way to a better life, does not mean they will fight the government of Thailand"

Parakorn Priyakorn, Islamic Centre of Thailand"But I am aware of the factor that these boats may have been used for other purposes in their countries of origin ... before they were used by the refugees."

"The Thai authorities may question them about these findings," she added.

Parakorn Priyakorn, of the Islamic Centre of Thailand, told Al Jazeera the policies of previous governments towards southern Thailand, had created "an atmosphere of suspicion" towards immigrants of Muslim background.

"Just because a group of Muslims come to this country, on their way to a better life, does not mean they will fight the government of Thailand," he said.

"I understand that we cannot handle so many migrants, but we also need to consider human rights issues."

The official justification given by the Thai government for deporting the Rohingya is that the country is simply unable to handle the influx of immigrants.

"We cannot afford carrying the burden of taking care of another 200,000-300,000 people," Suthep Thaugsuban, the deputy prime minister, told the Reuters news agency earlier this month.

"They come from Myanmar and that is where they will be deported to," he said.

But the Myanmar government has denied that the migrants recently seen arriving in Thailand, India and Indonesia could have come from its territory because the Rohingya are not among its officially recognised ethnic groups.

'No place'

According to the UNHCR, at least 230,000 Rohingya now live a precarious, stateless existence in Bangladesh alone, having fled their homes in Myanmar's North Rakhine state.

Those who have not fled are restricted from travel inside the country, while human rights groups say Rohingya face abuses by the Myanmar military that make the recent crackdown on democracy protests seem pale in comparison.

Gabriele Marranci, professor of anthropology of Islam at the National University of Singapore, told Al Jazeera the main reason the Rohingya are "unwanted" in Thailand, and also facing the prospect of deportation from Indonesia, is that they "lack strategic value".

"There seems to be a consensus among countries neighbouring Myanmar to also treat the Rohingya as a stateless group which has no place in their societies," he said.

"It is interesting to note that other groups, such as the Palestinians who are fighting for a state, and recognition, are given attention primarily attributed to their strategic significance in the Middle East; but a minority group such as the Rohingya, who are unable and unwilling to start a conflict in the region, are systematically treated as gypsies to be pushed out into the ocean."

Source: Al Jazeera

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

ASEAN's Neutrality ... Rohingya's Marginality: Rohingya migrants 'cast adrift'

Rohingya migrants 'cast adrift'

Indonesian authorities say a second boatload of Rohingya migrants found off the western island of Sumatra have told them they were cast adrift in an engineless boat after being beaten by the Thai military.

The group, numbering almost 200, were found by fisherman in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Navy officials quoted survivors as saying they had been beaten by Thai authorities, before being towed out to sea and set adrift.

At least 20 of the group died while they drifted for three weeks.

Tedi Sutardi, an Indonesian navy officer, on Tuesday said there was no food and water on board the boat and all the survivors were in very poor health.

"They were drifting for about 21 days," he told AFP. "Most of them are in critical condition and are receiving treatment at a local state hospital in East Aceh district.

He said the survivors were still being interviewed by Indonesian authorities, but communication was difficult.

Last month Indonesian fishermen found another group of about 170 Rohingya drifting off Sumatra. Many of them had severe injuries they said were the result of beatings from the Thai military.

Persecution

A group found last month had injuries they said were inflicted by the Thai militaryMyanmar's military rulers effectively deny citizenship rights to the Rohingya, a Muslim minority who live in the west of the country.

Human rights groups say the Rohingya face systematic discrimination and abuse by Myanmar authorities, leading hundreds to try to flee the country by boat every year.

Rather than finding refuge though, many say they have found even more abuse at the hands of the Thai military who have been accused of beating boatloads of migrants before pushing them back out to sea, often without food or water, and in boats with engines removed.

Rights groups say hundreds may have perished at sea.

The Thai government has rejected allegations of abuse, and says the Rohingya are economic migrants seeking a better life, not refugees fleeing persecution.

Forced to convert

The latest group of Rohingya found off Sumatra on Tuesday said they had left their homes in Myanmar's western Arakan state after being forced to convert to Buddhism.

Al Jazeera correspondent Step Vaessen reporting from Jakarta said navy officials found the survivors, one of whom was 13 years old, to be very weak after their ordeal and said it was a miracle they had survived.

The boat was so small that some of the group had been forced to stand.

She said there were also clear signs that they had been beaten, and the Indonesian authorities are now trying to decide what to do with them.


Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Thailand set to deport Rohingya (31 Jan 2009)
UN gets access to Rohingya refugees (30 Jan 2009)
Rohingya allege more Thai abuse (30 Jan 2009)
Video: Rohingya migrants speak out (29 Jan 2009)
Rohingyas claim Myanmar abuse (27 Jan 2009)
Thais admit boat people set adrift (27 Jan 2009)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A New Cultural Trend: After Bush, Chinese PM Hurled With Shoe

After Bush, Chinese PM Hurled With Shoe

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 3:54 pm

London: A 27-year-old man in Britain has been charged after a shoe was thrown at Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during a visit to Cambridge University, police said Tuesday.

The man, who has not been named, would appear before magistrates in Cambridge on February 10 accused of committing a public order offence.

The shoe was thrown at Wen and he was called a “dictator” as he gave a speech on the global economy at the renowned university Monday.

The premier, who is on a three-day visit to Britain, described the incident as “despicable.” Witnesses said the shoe landed about a metre away from him.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing condemned the incident but said it would not harm Anglo-Chinese relations.

The protest was similar to an event in December when former US President George W Bush was forced to duck to avoid shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist at a press conference in Baghdad.

Source: A Pakistan News

Pak Enrico Mulawarman Kami Sudah bilang Sama Siswa/i Malaysia, Anthropology can lend insight to business

Anthropology can lend insight to business

Enrico Mulawarman , Jakarta Sat, 01/31/2009 1:17 PM Opinion/Opini

A trend is on the horizon. Many people are jumping on the multicultural bandwagon. In the political realm, more politicians are more often stressing the importance of cultural diversity.

In academic circles, qualitative research is gaining ground on the predominant penchant for quantitative research, highlighting a renewed interest in social and cultural phenomena. President Barack Obama said, "there are no blue states or red states, just the United States of America". Obama highlights the importance of unity in cultural and social diversity. This trend is also apparent and highly visible in business and corporate settings.

Tom Davenport of Babson College has been predicting for years that anthropologists would be in demand in the workplace of the future. As the world's economies have become globally oriented and interdependent, the consequences of the 2008 global financial crisis is forcing governments across the globe to find ways to save their ailing economies.

Governments and the private sector, financial institutions and corporations battle to preserve themselves by restructuring their approach or coming up with new business models and plans. Anthropological approaches and research is increasingly appealing to business because it is helping answer pressing questions about consumers, consumption, and how people use products and services.

What anthropologists have to offer is not just confined to marketing and consumer behavior research. Anthropological approaches also makes it possible to understand what we have come to call the culture of an organization: every business entity, because it is a kind of social organization, develops its own corporate culture.

Anthropologists commonly use the term culture to refer to a society or group in which many or all people live and think in similar ways. Likewise, any group of people who share a common culture and, in particular, common rules of behavior and a basic form of social organization constitutes a society.

An anthropological approach is able to expand the understanding of corporate culture from an organizational premise, where often serves as a management tool, to an analysis on how corporate culture can be used to identify an individual's way of life in relation to an existing structure.

Cultural anthropologists have been very effective in studying organizational behavior (Jordan 2003). In his essay "A Scientific Theory of Culture", Bronislaw Malinowski states the science of human behavior begins with organization.

Malinowski argues that the frame of an institution is a legitimate isolate of cultural analysis. In the 1970s, Clifford Geertz radically refigured culture theory in anthropology arguing that culture must be seen as "webs of meaning" within which humans must live.

There are differing perspectives on organizational culture, from the idea that culture is a continuous process in which meaning is made collectively to that idea that culture as a thing which managers can define from above and act upon within a system of command and control.

The concept of corporate culture grew from organizational studies, but scholars of this research have been largely influenced by the field of anthropology from the outset.

Within corporate organizational settings in general, anthropology makes it possible to analyze in depth a company's value system, language, thought and behavior.

Anthropology constantly stresses the importance of ethnography in its approach and methodology. In corporate settings, ethnography helps describe and interpret the culture and worldview of consumers and employees.

For example, employees, particularly those in the field, have frequent encounters with consumers which gives insight into consumer patterns. Employees evaluate and classify customers and consumers needs, concerns, complaints and unfulfilled needs.

Consumers articulate them directly to employees, and effective employees turn those patterns into strategies to enhance sales, improve customer relationships and alleviate customer concerns and grievances. Within a business, ethnography helps explain the effect the corporation's culture has on the implementation of operations by an organization's employees.

Knowing how they perceive the effectiveness of the various sanctions or rewards that are attached to their work performance and vertical corporate relationships helps explain how employees manage their role within the broader social organization of the company.

It also explains how employees receive and interpret the relevance of top-down operational procedures, service policies and marketing initiatives.

Some companies use ideas of culture as management tools. Others emphasize that companies are clearly demarcated entities bounded vis-*-vis their environment, containing specified groups of people, organized hierarchically, each with a checklist of behaviors fostered by and unique to that company's culture.

For example, McDonald's is identified by their golden arches logo, standardized decor and branded packaging. The core beliefs of the company - quality, service, convenience and value - are instilled into managers in order to create a sense of unity across franchises. Counter staff have to follow a checklist of standardized behaviors as the perform their job.

I view corporate culture as a holistic concept. It refers to the ways in which an entire organization is perceived and construed. Over the years, mainstream anthropology has shifted from a discipline that enumerates a systematic functional approach of social structures to a more critique-oriented and postmodern methodology.


The writer is a graduate from the University of Indonesia and is currently a lecturer in the marketing and communications department at the Faculty of Communication and Multimedia of Binus University.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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