And, as we bid farewell to 2010, let us look forward to a Happy and Prosperous 2011!
Have a safe and happy new year, everyone!
And, as we bid farewell to 2010, let us look forward to a Happy and Prosperous 2011!
Have a safe and happy new year, everyone!
Born in Penang, Dr Lim attended Penang Free School. In 1937, he was a King’s scholar at the Edinburgh University in Scotland and graduated in 1944 with a medical degree.
Formerly a medical officer with the Chinese Armed Forces, he founded the Radical Party in 1951 that won the first municipal council elections in George Town.
In 1954, he joined the MCA and was a member of the Razak Commission for Education.
He defeated the late Tun Tan Cheng Lock for the MCA presidency in 1958 but quit the party a year later following differences with Umno over the allocation of parliamentary seats in the 1959 general election.
He formed the United Democratic Party in 1962 and co-founded Gerakan in 1968.
The party swept the Alliance ruling coalition out of Penang in the 1969 general election and Dr Lim was appointed chief minister.
However, in 1973, Gerakan joined the Alliance Party to form a coalition called Barisan Nasional.
In 1980, Dr Lim stepped down as party president saying there were “many young and promising leaders in the party who are just as capable of holding the post”.
He was succeeded by (Tun) Dr Lim Keng Yaik in 1980.
He continued as chief minister but lost the Padang Kota state seat in the 1990 general election and then retired.
After retiring from politics, he stayed away from Gerakan affairs and kept mum, even when the party went through trials and tribulations.
He retired a humble man without a whiff of corruption.
After retiring, he became a passionate horse breeder and turned his attention to business, as chairman and adviser to several large corporations.
He also refused to publicly comment on the country’s political development when approached by newsmen.
In 2007, he was named founding chancellor of Wawasan Open University in Penang.
Penangites will not forget Dr Lim’s legacy. - The Star
NURIN ALERT: Have You seen Little Xin Ru?
In June 4 this year, 2 year-old Nisha Chandramohan went missing in Mentakab, Pahang after a mentally-ill aunt took her out for a walk. She was never found.
Last Tuesday (Sept 21) in Raub, Pahang, 2 year-old Lee Xin Ru, went missing. We hope and pray that she will be found soon -- safe....
If you have any information on her, please contact Inspector Haroza Pandi at 019-8793776 or the Raub district police headquarters: 09-355 2222.
(Image taken from a full-page ad by RHB on page 11 of today's NST)
In other developments:
> INSPECTOR-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar has promised that all reports about missing persons will now be scrutinised carefully;
> A TASK force has been formed to probe all missing persons cases linked to the lawyer and his brother; and
> THE Sosilawati’s case is now considered solved by the police.Related Stories:
Datuk lawyer's 'killer fortune'Submitted by Najiah on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 12:12:00
KUALA LUMPUR: The Datuk lawyer in the centre of the hideous quadruple slaughters in Banting has a personal wealth of more than RM100 million, it emerged today.
His younger brother who is also a suspect in the kill and burn atrocity could have amassed up to RM20 million, sources said.
The estimated fortunes of the brothers were based on their bank accounts that the authorities know of and the properties they owned.
The police’s anti-money laundering division have got an order from the Attorney-General’s Chambers to freeze the assets, including bank accounts, of the two lawyers.
Millions are reportedly in single accounts, said the source. Checks are underway to ascertain if they had parked money in offshore banks.
While it is known that they own several parcels of land in and around Banting, including the 1.6ha farm where the killings are thought to have occurred, the authorities believe there are more.
The brothers own several shophouses and a medical clinic in Banting besides lavish homes, notably their mansion where both of them live. They also have a fleet of high-end luxury cars.
The gained their wealth allegedly through money-laundering, obtaining properties illegally and land scams.
It is believed the brothers secured dozens of land grants as collateral in illegal money-lending deals. Caveats on properties were also their way of extorting money, said a source.
The source said the lawyers often asked for jewellery as security when giving loans.
Police yesterday seized files from his law firm in Banting town believed to contain vital information on dubious land deals and money-lending activities.
The seized files are also thought to contain land grants that have now put the owners in a fix as these documents would be crucial in investigations and perhaps later as court exhibits.
Financial institutions have extended full co-operation in the declaration of transactions undertaken by the brothers.
Investigations into their financial transactions could be time-consuming as it is believed there were numerous movements of money in and out of the country.
The brothers are among six suspects held in connection with the murders of cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya, 47, 44, her financial adviser and CIMB bank officer Noorhisham Mohammad, 38, lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32 and her driver Kamarudin Shamsuddin who were reported missing on Aug 30.
The killings were believed to have occurred after Sosilawati had gone with the others to confront the lawyer regarding the transfer of a land title in a deal believed to be worth RM25mil.Police have yet to establish if Sosilawati had actually brought RM4mil for their meeting with the Datuk as speculated. - The Malay Mail
These individuals were all reported missing and were linked to the two lawyer brothers who have been identified as the chief suspects in the murder of Sosilawati and three men who were with her.
> The wife of one of the missing men, an Indian national, said her husband had come to Malaysia after being invited by the brothers;
> The wife of bank officer Noorhisham Mohammad is still holding out hope that her husband is alive;
> A police scuba team dived into Sungai Kanchong looking for the murder weapon although nothing was found at press time;
> Sosilawati’s eldest daughter is most likely to inherit the estate of the cosmetics millionairess;
> The Penang police are reopening several unresolved cases in which lawyers were killed.Related Stories:
KUALA LANGAT: The mastermind said to be behind the murder of cosmetics millionaire Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and three others is an infamous figure being investigated by police for land fraud and cheating.
Both the man and his brother are from humble beginnings. After graduating with law degrees, they opened a practice, where one of the brothers soon became an active member of the community.
They are known for their show of philanthropy with frequent donations of food and clothing to the poor.
The brothers, who specialise in land deals, had also developed a reputation for “unsavoury tactics” during their negotiations.
“Their methods were frowned upon and most lawyers kept their distance from them,” said a source.
The two, who were suspended from practising law for a year for alleged involvement in land scams, are known to have expensive tastes, being seen driving luxury cars.
It is understood that the elder brother, who received a Datukship a year ago, is being investigated by the Commercial Crimes Investigations Department (CCID) in Penang and Bukit Aman for land fraud and cheating cases involving millions of ringgit.
Sources familiar with the case said he had attempted to cheat a businessman of more than a million ringgit over three parcels of land.
“The businessman was shown a power of attorney letter by the lawyer, who collected a RM1mil deposit pending transfer of the land title.
“When the businessman later did a search, he was shocked to find that the land had already been sold,” they said.
The sources said police were checking if Sosilawati had engaged one of the brothers in a land deal and if she could have wanted her money back after learning about the alleged fraud because there was talk that she had gone to see him in Banting on the same matter.
Federal CCID deputy director Deputy Comm Datuk Noryah Md Anvar confirmed that the brothers were under investigation.
An estate worker said he had sometimes seen luxury cars entering and leaving the farm near where the ashes of the victims were supposedly found.
“However, no one really knows what goes on there as the gates are always closed,” he said.
Another resident, who only wanted to be known as Rajes, 30, said one the brothers was the man “you go to see if you need help with something outside the boundaries of the law.”
“Everyone knows that he is connected with certain types of people,” he said, adding that it was rumoured among locals that people who crossed the brothers would mysteriously disappear. - the Star
KUALA LUMPUR: MCA founding member, Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin, 93, passed away due to old age Thursday morning.
He was buried at the Warrior's Mausoleum, next to the National Mosque here, at 6.05pm.
According to an aide to his wife Toh Puan Dr Aishah, Ong died at his home in No. 44, Persiaran Duta, at 8.15am.
Born July 23, 1917 in Kuala Lumpur, Ong was one of the key figures involved in the formation of the Umno-MCA alliance and was part of a delegation headed by Tunku Abdul Rahman to negotiate the country's independence in London in 1957.
He was Malaya’s first Post and Telecoms Minister and was one of the signatories when the Malaysia agreement was signed in London in 1963.
He also held various ministerial posts, including Labour and Social Welfare, Health and Social Welfare, acting Minister of Defence, Commerce and Industry, and Agriculture before he retired from politics.
In 1973, he was elected President of the Dewan Negara and served until 1980.Even after he retired from active politics, Ong continued to be active in social works, said Aishah. - The Star
|Reporter quits over Israel remark- Aljazeera|
Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas, who has covered every US president since John F Kennedy, has abruptly retired amid a storm of criticism over her controversial remarks about Israel.
Her retirement on Monday as a Hearst Newspapers columnist came after she was captured on video saying Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine" and that they should go "home" to Germany, Poland or the United States.
The comments drew widespread condemnation with Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, describing her comments as “offencive and reprehensible”.
Thomas, 89, long considered the dean of the White House press correspondents, apologised for the statements she made on May 27.
In a statement issued over the weekend she said: "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognise the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."
The controversy prompted Thomas to be dropped by her public speaking agency and also led to the cancellation of her plans to deliver a high school commencement address in suburban Washington.
"Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately," Hearst News Service reported. "Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet."
Thomas was absent from Monday's White House briefing, where she has a reserved seat in the centre of the front row.
The White House Correspondents Association called her remarks "indefensible" and, before the announcement of her retirement, scheduled a meeting on whether an opinion columnist should have a front-row seat in the West Wing briefing room.
"Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat," the association's board said in a statement.
Thomas became a columnist for the Hearst newspaper chain in recent years after working for decades as a White House correspondent for United Press International.
Read here: Helen Tells Jews to go back.
|Israel to deport aid ship activists|
Passengers on board an aid ship seized by the Israeli military as it tried to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip are awaiting deportation in Tel Aviv.
Eleven activists and eight crew were arrested after the Malaysia-funded Irish ship ignored warnings to divert to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The activists' expulsion from Israel has been delayed by their refusal to sign documents presented to them by Israeli authorities.
"We are trying to convince all of the passengers and members of the crew to sign the document. Otherwise, in accordance with the law, they risk having to wait up to 72 hours for a judge to decide their fate," an Israeli immigration spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ashdod, said the vessel Rachel Corrie is being held at the port while its cargo is inspected.
"The aid will be taken off and inspected," she said. "It is not clear how much of it will be taken to Gaza."
The seizure of the Rachel Corrie came five days after Israeli troops killed nine activists while raiding a flotilla of aid ships carrying humanitarian supplies for the beseiged Palestinian territory.
Israeli naval vessels trailed the ship for several hours before boarding it, jamming its radar and cutting off all radio communication.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said naval forces involved in Saturday's operation had followed exactly the same procedures as they had done earlier in the week, but the difference lay in the attitude of the activists on board the vessel.
"We saw today the difference between a ship of peace activists, with whom we don't agree but respect their right to a different opinion from ours, and between a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists ... waiting for our soldiers on the deck with axes and knives," Netanyahu's office cited him as saying.
Mukhriz Mahathir, head of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation, a Malaysian non-governmental organisation that sponsored the Rachel Corrie, said people would be willing to contribute to further aid ships.
"These actions have finally succeeded in raising lots of awareness," he said.
"But for the moment, we are upset that these aid goods have not reached their destination."
The Rachel Corrie is named after an American womanwho was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, while protesting against a house demolition.
Pro-Palestinian activists on board the ship had earlier said they were determined to press ahead towards the Gaza coast, despite the Israeli warnings.
"We are not afraid and we are all advocating non-violence… and we will just sit here and go if they insist on commandeering our boat and forcing us into Ashdod," Mairead Maguire, an activist and Nobel Peace laureate aboard Rachel Corrie, said before radio contact with the ship was lost.
The Israeli military had cautioned that troops would consider storming the ship, if it continued its journey towards Gaza.
Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the Rachel Corrie had hundreds of tonnes of aid, including medical supplies, wheelchairs, cement, building materials and even note pads for children.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Saturday, Chris Gunness, a spokesman for UNWRA, the United Nations Palestine refugee agency, underscored the need for Gaza's land and sea blockades to be lifted.
"The World Health Organisation needs $20m worth of aid to enter Gaza, there is 44 per cent unemployment and education is in crisis," he said.
"We are turning thousands of five and six year olds away from our schools [and] 39,000 children in Gaza are not receiving United Nations education because we cannot get our building materials in.
"We also want to see exports coming out of Gaza. It is already 80 per cent aid dependent. What we don't want is to make it more aid dependent."
The developments surrounding the Rachel Corrie came as the UN human-rights chief said that Israel could face prosecution for Monday's flotilla raid, and that she was following requests for a referral to the International Criminal Court [ICC] in The Hague.
"I am following very closely the very many calls that come particularly from civil society and from all the people who are suffering in Palestine for that kind of action to be taken," Navi Pillay said on Saturday in Kampala, Uganda, where she was attending the ICC's ongoing review conference.
She said she believed Israel's blockade of Gaza violates international law.
"International humanitarian law prohibits starvation of civilians as a method of warfare ... It is also prohibited to impose collective punishment on the civilian population, so it is [for those reasons] that I have consistently reported to member states that the blockade is illegal and must be lifted," Pillay said.
"Even if it is demonstrated that the blockade is legal under international law, Israel's current military operations against the flotilla must be analysed from the perspective of its obligation to allow humanitarian aid to be brought into the Gaza Strip."
AMMAN: Volunteers on the MV Rachel Corrie are not trained soldiers, and they are fearful of being attacked by the Israeli army – but they are determined to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.
“Of course there is worry, but this is an amanah (trust bestowed upon us) to deliver the aid to Gaza,” said Perdana Global Peace Organisation representative Shamsul Akmar in an interview.
He is on board the sole ship making its way to Gaza.
Israel’s attack on the six aid ships in international waters on Monday resulting in nine deaths only made those on Rachel Corrie more determined to carry out their amanah.
Rachel Corrie was supposed to be part of the flotilla but she got left behind due to delays and some “suspicious stringent checks” by port authorities at several places, said Shamsul.
If all goes well, the 1,200 tonne Rachel Corrie, carrying medical aid, construction material, toys, educational and writing material is expected to reach Gaza on Saturday.
There are 19 people on board and they have been travelling for 20 days.
Other than Shamsul, who is the head of the delegation, there are five other Malaysians – Matthias Chang, Parit MP Nizar Zakaria, activist Ahmad Faizal Azumu and TV3 crew members Halim Mohamed and Jufri Junid.
Also on board is a strong Irish delegation with Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire.
There are six crew members, a captain and a chief engineer.
The ship is funded by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Perdana Global Peace Organisation.
Shamsul said there are a number of possible scenarios:
> Israel may let Rachel Corrie through
> Israel may become aggressive and board the ship; and
> those on board the ship may be shot by Israeli forces
Shamsul said that if Israel stopped the ship in international waters, but the ship was forced away, “we collectively feel we should stay there for a few days to try and deliver the aid.”
The tiny Gaza strip has been put under a strangling blockade after Hamas took over control of it in 2007, causing hardship to the 1.5 million living in what is called the “world’s biggest prison on earth.”
In December 2008, Israel launched a three week massive military strike on Gaza, killing at least 1,400 people and destroying many homes, buildings, factories and infrastructure.
But because of the siege, Gaza has not been able to bring the materials needed to rebuild including construction material like cement, glass and bricks. The Star
Muslims Pray, Protest Against Israeli Violence
KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 (Bernama) -- Muslims on Friday offered special prayers for Palestinians and protested against the Israeli raid on the Gaza humanitarian flotilla killing nine people.
Non-governmental organisations (NGO) including Aman Malaysia and Umno Youth gathered in the compound of Masjid Negara after Friday and special (hajat) prayers for the safety of the activists.
Aman Malaysia adviser and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the rally was to support Palestinians and condemn the inhuman act of the Israeli regime.
Chairman Datuk Ahmad Zaki Zahid said Malaysians had been angry with Israel for a long time for oppressing the Palestinians.
"Israel's act of violence and utter disregard for international law has inflamed anger among Malaysians," he said.
Khairy launched a "SMS For Gaza" campaign to collect funds for Gaza. Donors only have to send SMS by typing "GAZA" and send to 32928.
Earlier, Masjid Negara imam besar Tan Sri Syaikh Ismail Muhammad used the sermon to condemn Israel for the inhuman act against activists taking humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Another rally took place at Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru led by opposition leader and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The anti-Israel rally attended by about 10,000 people then proceed to the United States embassy in Jalan Ampang and ended at 4pm after a memorandum was delivered.
In JOHOR BAHARU, over 100 NGO and Pakatan Rakyat party members held a rally in the compound of Masjid Sultan Abu Bakar after Friday prayers.
The anti-Israel rally in heavy rain lasted 30 minutes and ended with burning of the flags of Israel and United States.
In KOTA BHARU, some 5,000 Muslims gathered near Sultan Mohammed Stadium for special prayers for Palestinians led by Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.
He said the Kelantan government spent RM25,000 monthly under the Palestinian Education Aid Fund to finance Palestinian students at several institutions of higher learning.
In Penang, over 500 people participated in an rally organised by Penang Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) at Masjid Kapitan Keling.
The 30-minute anti-Israel protest after Fridays prayers was filled with fiery speeches by NGO representatives.
In TAWAU, about 100 Muslims held a peaceful rally at Masjid Al-Kauthar after Friday prayers to protest Israeli violence.
Special prayers were also held for the safety of Palestinians and the humanitarian vessel heading for Gaza.
In IPOH, the family of Dr Selamat Aliman, one of 12 Malaysian activists on board "Mavi Marmara" raided by Israeli commandos, would be holding a feast to mark his return.
Dr Selamat, 54, a member of Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) was expected to arrive at KL International Airport (KLIA) early Sunday with nine others, including two staff of Astro Awani.
His wife Faezah Hassan, 52, said no date had been set as it would depend on Dr Selamat's work schedule. -- BERNAMA
Published: Wednesday June 2, 2010 MYT 10:40:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday June 2, 2010 MYT 9:17:51 PM
PETALING JAYA: The 12 Malaysians who were on board aid ship Mavi Marmara, which was attacked and detained by Israeli forces Monday morning, have been released and are now in Jordan.
They include Astro Awani journalist Ashwad Ismail and cameraman Samsulkamal Abdul Latip.
Malaysian Ambassador to Jordan Datuk Abdul Malek Abdul Aziz said the 12 arrived at 6.30am local time Wednesday.
They are currently staying at the Crown Plaza Hotel while waiting for their travel documents to be processed, he said when contacted.
"We are doing what we can to bring them home. Some of them lost their passports and documents. The news crew's cameras were also confisicated," he added.
"We are doing what we can to bring them home. Some of them lost their passports and documents. The news crew's cameras were also confisicated," he added.
Abdul Malek also said he had not heard from six other Malaysians on the Rachel Corrie, which was expected to reach Gaza later Wednesday.
However, according to a TV channel, journalist Shamsul Akmar, who is on the ship, said they would continue towards their destination despite the threat of being boarded by the Israeli navy.
"We are prepared for the possibility. If they do board us, we will not resist," he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian delegation leader Noorazman Mohd Samsuddin said Israeli forces treated the detainees like criminals.
"We were not even allowed to go to the toilet,” he said.
According to Astro Awani, the Malaysians were among 124 Gaza flotilla aid activists aboard five buses, who arrived in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday morning via Allenby Bridge, after being detained and ill-treated by Israeli forces.
Ashwad, 26, said all media equipment was confiscated, including notebooks and pens.
Relating his experience live from Jordan earlier Wednesday, he said they were exhausted and dehydrated after 28 hours in detention at Beersheba prison.
He said Israeli naval forces, comprising 19 naval boats, eight naval ships and three Apache helicopters attacked the ship at 4.40am on Monday.
"We were fully prepared as we had received reports that Israeli forces had expanded their claim on territorial waters from 64km to 108km (off the coast of Gaza).
"They started to circle us at 11pm. They began advancing at 2am and attacked us from all angles at 4.30am. They attacked us incessantly. Alhamdullillah, our cameraman, Shamsul and I were safe from the assault," he said, adding that the Israelis had used live ammunition.
Contrary to Israeli defence forces claims in the international media that aid activists had used sharp weapons, Ashwad said they had merely sprayed water from fire hoses to ward off their attackers. (read here: "It was pure hell." , here and here)
"I did not see any sharp weapons in the form of knives, parang, sword and so on being used. Volunteers merely used water to stop the commandos from boarding the ship.
"Two Turkish nationals, one of my right and the other on my left, were shot on the arm and hand. I managed to escape and crawled to safety on the deck, which was filld with blood. It was indeed a painful experience. It was an eye-opener to the world. I did not expect Israel to act in such a way. We were civilians onboard but subjected to military action.
"It was a war against humanity. During the 28-hour ordeal, I could fathom the six decades of Israeli-Palestine conflict and the oppression against Palestinians. I hope our audience, including my parents, will get the message."
Ashwad said he was handcuffed, taken to Ashdod and later detained in Beersheba prison. He was separated from Shamsul then but they were reunited at the Jordan-Israel border following their release.
He thanked the Government and the Malaysian Embassy in Jordan as well as the international community for efforts to secure their release.
Astro Awani general manager Rozina Aziz said the TV station was unable to contact Ashwad directly as his handphone had been confiscated.
He was contacted through the ambassador’s number.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman left for Jordan on Wednesday to help expedite their return to Malaysia.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Prime Minister's office said a motion would be tabled in Parliament on Monday to strongly condemn the attack by Israeli military on the aid ship Mavi Marmara, which was carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
Earlier, Kuwaiti ambassador Sheik Faisal Al Sabah had said that in addition to the 16 Kuwaitis aboard the buses, the other activists came from Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Yemen, Oman and Bahrain.
Dozens of other activists remain in Israeli detention, but most are expected to be deported in the coming days.
The bridge across the Jordan River is under Israeli control. It links Jordan with the West Bank.
Jordanian government spokesman Nabil Al-Sharif said there were 30 Jordanians in the group. Jordan is one of two Arab nations with a signed peace treaty with Israel.
The bridge's Jordanian chief, Brig. Mahmoud Abu Jumaa, said Jordan will help repatriate the activists - who include lawmakers and journalists - to their respective countries in coordination with their governments.
Worldwide condemnation has poured on Israel since its naval commandos halted the aid flotilla in international waters overnight Monday, setting off a melee that left nine activists dead and dozens wounded.
Eighteen Malaysians were involved in the humanitarian mission, with six on board another ship, the Rachel Corrie.
Mavi Marmara was leading a convoy of six vessels bound for Gaza to deliver aid to 100,000 Palestinians when it was attacked by Israeli commandoes in international waters at 10.30am Malaysian time on Monday. - The Star
Deadly Israeli raid on aid fleet - Aljazeera
Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Jerusalem on the storming of the flotilla and its aftermath
Israeli soldiers have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships off the coast of the Gaza Strip, killing as many as 10 people on board.
Dozens more were believed to be injured when troops raided the convoy of six ships, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, early on Monday.
But those figures were hard to confirm as the flotilla was being held in the Israeli port of Ashdod on Tuesday, with 700 passengers from 30 countries either being detained or in hospital.
Israel said activists on board attacked its commandos as they boarded the ships, while the flotilla's organisers said the Israeli forces opened fire first, as soon as they stormed the convoy.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, gave his "full backing" to the military forces after the raid, which he said "was to prevent the infiltration of thousands of rockets, missiles and other arms that could hit our cities, communities or people".
"I give my complete backing to the army, the soldiers and commanders who acted to defend the state and to protect their lives." He also said Israel regretted the loss of life in the raid.
Israeli media reported that many of the dead were Turkish nationals.
Hamas, the Palestinian group which governs the Gaza Strip, said the assault was a "massacre" and called on the international community to intervene.... continue here
SIBU: It will be a three-cornered contest between Barisan Nasional's Robert Lau Hui Yew (centre), DAP's Wong Ho Leng (right) and independent Narawi Haron for the Sibu parliamentary seat.
Returning officer Wong See Meng announced this at 11.30am Saturday, after the three candidates filed their nominations. There were no objections filed.
Supporters from both sides broke out in chants and songs after objection time was announced, following the filing of nominations. There was good-natured jeering between Barisan and DAP supporters, according to the Star online report.
As early as 7am, party leaders and supporters, bearing banners and flags, had gathered a short distance from the Sibu Civic Centre, where the nominations were to be filed.
Polling for the seat is on May 16. The by-election was triggered by the death of Deputy Transport Minister and five-term Sibu MP Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew on April 9.
Sibu has 54,695 voters, comprising 52,158 ordinary voters and 2,537 postal voters made up of 1,910 military and 627 police personnel.
According to the electoral roll, updated as of April 9 this year, Chinese voters make up almost 67% of the total number of voters, followed by Malay/Melanau (10.5%) and Sarawak bumiputeras (22%). - The Star
BN wins by 1,725 votes - The NST
KUALA KUBU BARU: Barisan Nasional gained a parliamentary seat last night when P.Kamalanathan defeated Datuk Zaid Ibrahim of Parti Keadilan Rakyat with a 1,725-vote majority in the Hulu Selangor by-election.
This is the first parliamentary by-election win for BN since the March 2008 nationwide polls, following defeats in Permatang Pauh (August 2008), Kuala Terengganu (January last year) and Bukit Gantang (April last year).
The Hulu Selangor contest, the focal point of national politics over the past twoweeks, coincides with Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s first full year in office asprime minister.
This marks a back-to-back by-election win for BN following the success in BaganPinang in October last year, which followed a near-victory in the July 2009 by-election for Manek Urai, retained by Pas with a majority of 65.
Bagan Pinang and Manek Urai are state constituencies in Negri Sembilan and Kelantan, respectively. ...continue here
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has pleaded not guilty to sodomy charges brought against him, saying they are part of a "political conspiracy".
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a High Court hearing in Kuala Lumpur today that the allegations he had sodomised a former aide were "malicious" fabrications... trumped up by political masters using the prosecution for that purpose".
The prosecution, lead by Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abide, promised to produce semen samples that they said were found in medical tests on Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 24, the aide who made the allegations.Datuk Seri Anwar, who is the Permatang Pauh MP, is accused of sodomising Mohamad Saiful at Unit 11-5-1 of the Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.
Datuk Anwar, 63, claimed trial to sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 25, at Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.
On Dec 1, last year, Justice Mohamad Zabidin ruled that the findings of a medical report, which suggested that there was no penetration, could not be the basis for the court to quash the sodomy charge and that it should hear the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses first.
The Sultan of Johor is Dead
JOHOR BAHARU, Jan 23 (Bernama) -- The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail, 77, died at the Puteri Specialist Hospital at 7.15pm after being admitted Friday night following an illness.
Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman in announcing the Sultan's demise said that his remains would be buried at the Bukit Mahmoodiah Royal Mausoleum at 2pm on Saturday.
"The Sultan of Johor was very much respected and loved," he said when reading the statement to announce the death of the Sultan at Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim, here Friday night.
He said the proclamation of the new Sultan of Johor would be made Saturday at Istana Besar before the funeral.
Earlier on Friday, Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar was appointed the Regent of Johor in a ceremony at the Istana Besar.
Malaysia's first woman minister, Tun Dr Fatimah Hashim, 85, died of old age at her residence at 11.35 Saturday night.
Her son, Abdul Karim Abdul Kadir, said she would be buried after the Zohor prayers today (Sunday) at the National Mosque beside the grave of her husband, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Yusoff, a former Attorney-General and former Minister of Law and National Development.
"Her remains will be buried at the National Mosque after receiving permission from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak," Abdul Karim told Bernama.
Fatimah, who is survived by six children, was born in Kampung Parit Kurma, Muar, Johor on Dec 25, 1924 and received her early education at the Sekolah Melayu Perempuan Mersing, Johor before becoming a teacher.
She was appointed Welfare Minister on May 20, 1969 until March 1, 1973.
Fatimah joined politics in 1947 and had held the post of Head of the Umno Kaum Ibu movement, which is now known as Wanita Umno, from September 1956 until June 1972.
On Aug 19 last year, she was chosen as one of the four outstanding Malaysians to receive the Merdeka Award for the Education and Community category.
King Reminds People To Remain Calm, Respect Houses Of Worship
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 (Bernama) -- Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin wants all Malaysians to remain calm in the wake of the High Court decision on the use of the word "Allah" and respect houses of worship irrespective of religion.
In a statement issued by Istana Negara today, Tuanku Mizan said he very much hoped that the spirit of unity and mutual respect which formed the backbone of the nation's strength would at all times be safeguarded.
His Majesty said he was expressing this hope in view of the government taking the necessary follow-up steps following the court decision and all quarters respecting the sanctity and position of Islam as the official religion of the federation.
"To ensure peace and harmony among the followers of different religions, the meaning and reference to "Allah" in the general context should conform to the description fixed by Islam because this practice has all this while been accepted by Malaysians of other faiths," said Tuanku Mizan.
On Dec 31, the High Court had ruled that the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia could use the word "Allah" in its weekly publication, Herald.
On Wednesday, the same High Court allowed a stay of execution on the use of the word following and agreement between the Home Ministry and the church in the national interest.
Three churches around Kuala Lumpur, the Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati; the Assumption Church and the Life Chapel in Petaling Jaya were subjected to attacks last night and early today. --- BERNAMA
PUTRAJAYA, Jan 8 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak slammed the action of some irresponsible people who attacked a church and directed the police to beef up security at all places of worship.
The Prime Minister said he viewed the incident very seriously, especially the two incidents - first an attempt to burn down a church and the second, sending out a threat to another.
Najib said such action can destroy the existing harmony of the country.
"I condemn such action by the irresponsible people because it can harm the cordial relationship and harmony that has been in existence. As a multi-racial community we must practice respect for one another...it cannot come under threat from anybody," he told reporters after witnessing an exchange of memorandum for Human Resource Development in the Northern Corridor Economic Region, here on Friday.
Najib added that the government would take whatever action needed to curb such incidents.
He added that he had directed Federal Police Chief Tan Sri Musa Hassan to beef up security at all places of worship.
Early this morning, two church arson incidents had taken place in Desa Melawati and Jalan Templer, Petaling Jaya while another received a threat.
Najib said whatever problem or issue in the country must be resolved through the proper procedures or through the law.
"There should be no overzealous action that can harm the harmony of the country," he said.
The Prime Minister said fingers should not be pointed at Umno for such action.
"The matter must be handed to the authorities for proper investigation and action in accordance with the law," he said.
Asked of the planned protest rallies after the Friday prayers, Najib said he had already informed the police to monitor the situation.
"That's why they must nip it in the bud, hope with this statement and action by the police, people will not take the law into their hands," Najib said.
Najib added that he would receive information on such incidents from Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and the Federal Police Chief.
"When he gets the evidence, he will report to me," Najib said.
The Prime Minister also refuted a claim by a journalist from an online portal that Umno members were the ones responsible for starting the flames after the High Court had ruled that the word "Allah" can be used by Catholic Weekly-Herald.
"Don't point the finger at Umno or anybody. We have always been very responsible. Don't say that these attacks were motivated by Umno. That is a very scurrilous statement that you have just made. You are alluding to it. Please stop that," Najib told the journalist.
Court Allows Stay of Earlier Order On Use of "Allah"
By M. Santhiran
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 (Bernama) -- The High Court on Wednesday allowed a stay of an earlier order to allow the use of "Allah" by Catholic weekly, Herald, following consent by the Home Ministry and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malaysia on the grounds of national interest.
Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan, who had issued the earlier order on Dec 31 last year, made the ruling in chambers after meeting Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and counsel Derek J. Fernandez for Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam for 30 minutes.
Fernandez told reporters that Lau agreed to record the stay by consent.
Abdul Gani was grateful that there was agreement for a stay.
"As far as I am concerned, it involves national interest, there is no necessity to get involved in an argument for a stay," he said.
"I am very grateful to my learned friend who has agreed for a stay and we will try to have this matter be heard as soon as possible in the Court of Appeal. I believe it can be very, very soon," said the attorney-general.
On Tuesday, the ministry filed an application for a stay of the earlier court ruling after lodging an appeal with the Court of Appeal, a day earlier.
Abdul Gani said the speediness of the process should not be misconstrued because the issue should be resolved as soon as possible.
"I should say this again, there should be no kind of perception on this matter since it is better this matter is being heard so fast. It doesn't mean that something is wrong, let's not have such perception.
"The important thing is that the matter should be settled as soon as possible. All of us should respect the court decision," he said.
Asked if there was pressure on this case, he replied: "You can't say there is pressure in this case since there is a pressure in all cases. I don't want to give any kind of perception now, let the matter settle."
Fernandez said his side had agreed to the attorney-general's request for a stay due to national interest, pending the next course at the Court of Appeal.
"We are concerned of the breach of subjudice rule by many parties who are showing disrespect to the court. Tan Sri assured us he would look into those matters," he said.
On Dec 31, Lau ruled that pursuant to Articles 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution, the Herald had the constitutional right to use the word, in respect of instruction and education of the congregation in the Christian religion.
She also said that pursuant to Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, it was an offence for non-Muslims to use the word "Allah" to Muslims to propagate the religion but it was not an offence for non-Muslims to use the word to non-Muslims for the purpose of religion.
On Feb 16, the archbishop filed for a judicial review on the use of the word "Allah" in the church's publications for the period Jan 1 to Dec 31, last year, naming the ministry and the government as respondents and claiming that the word "Allah" was not exclusive to the religion of Islam.
The Herald, which is printed in four languages, has been using the word "Allah" as a translation for 'God' in its Malay-language section.
The word "Allah" is widely used among the indigenous Christian groups in Sabah and Sarawak, most of whom speak Bahasa Malaysia.
The minister had justified the ban on the grounds of national security and to avert misunderstanding and confusion among Muslims. -- BERNAMA
Tok Mat Went Peacefully, Says His Wife
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 (Bernama) -- "I am thankful because he went away peacefully," said Puan Sri Salbiah Abdul Hamid, on the death of her husband, former Information Minister and former Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat on Friday.
Mohamed, better known as Tok Mat, died at his residence at Bukit Damansara, here at about 8.00 Friday morning.
Mohamed, who was to celebrate his 72nd birthday on Monday, was said to have died in his sleep.
Salbiah said she realised that her husband was no longer breathing at about 8am when she was about to switch of the dialysis machine which was attached to his body.
"Usually, at about 8.40 in the morning I would switch off the dialysis machine attached to his body, but this morning at about 8am, I noticed that the machine was 'hanging' and his chest showed that he was not breathing," she told Bernama at their residence.
Salbiah said that she immediately telephoned the doctor and their children to inform them about the situation.
"The doctor (who came) later confirmed that Tok Mat had breathed his last at 8 this morning," she said.
Mohamed had been suffering kidney ailment for the past 10 years and had to undergo dialysis treatment every day.
Salbiah said her late husband had also instructed the family driver to come for work this morning to take her out for a drive.
"Tok Mat instructed our driver to come for work today despite the public holiday. He had asked the driver to take me out for a drive...as if giving a premonition that he was going away," she said.
"Yesterday, he did not call me at all...usually, he would call me every night to help him to urinate and I would push the (dialysis) machine to the bathroom.
"I also did not hear anything except when he switched the TV on and off...he would watch the news for 24 hours. Probably, he did not feel any pain, Alhamdulillah, he went away peacefully," she said.
Salbiah was also thankful that before he died, Mohamed had time to meet Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
"He wanted very much to see Datuk Seri Rais and two days ago, Tok Mat was able to met the minister at the Information Communication and Culture Ministry," she said.
Salbiah also thanked everyone, including top government leaders who had come to pay their last respect to her late husband.
Mohamed would be buried at the Muslim Cemetery at Bukit Kiara, here after the 'Asar' prayer.
"A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market, is a nation that is afraid of its people." - John F. Kennedy
Israel's failure to learn
By Nir Rosen (Aljazeera)
When George Bush, the US president, first entered the White House as the commander-in-chief in 2001, Palestinians were being killed in the al-Aqsa intifada.
Eight years later, as Bush prepares to leave office, Israel is carrying out one of the largest massacres in its 60-year occupation of Palestine.
The US, then and now, strongly backs Israel's offensive, justifying it as being, in fact, defensive.To continue read here ...