Tuesday 22 February 2011

Former journalist Swithin Monteiro dies after massive stroke

He was an old friend and a former colleague. I received news of his passing from his brother, Sandy, who sent me a text message at 2.30pm today.

Swithin, former NST and Star journalist turned PR man, died this morning after suffering a massive stroke the day before. He was 58.

He is survived by his wife Margaret Hall and son Justin.

My condolence to his family. May you rest in peace, Swithin.

Veteran entertainment journalist dies

Frankie D'Cruz
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 19:42:00

KUALA LUMPUR: The arts world and public relations lost an illustrious son yesterday afternoon when Swithin Monteiro, 58, passed away at the University Malaya Medical Centre, Petaling Jaya, after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke at his home on Sunday.

A journalist with both the New Straits Times and Star Publications, Monteiro was well-known as a public relations practitioner, trainer and advisor to several companies active in event management and crisis management.

A veteran and critical journalist who began writing for the print media since he was in school, Monteiro also forayed into live music as a member of Chrysalis Blue, alongside Marion Danker, Derek Surian and Bob Lewis, taking part in the inaugural Bakat TV 1971.

After his long stint in print media, he joined public relations company Burson-Marsteller in the late 1980s as an account supervisor and core member of its media training team, before leaving to establish Silver Tiger Entertainment which helped to launch superstar ethnic fusion group Asiabeat and brought African act Inphanze to perform in Kuala Lumpur.

Monteiro later set up his specialist agency Swithin Monteiro Media-PR which handled numerous government and private corporation projects, acting as advisor to the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development for its ‘Kamu Aku Seiring’ campaign in 2003 and as consultant for the launch of KL Sentral, the Top of the Pubs music competition, the Malaysian International Jazz Festivals, Australian Music Showcase, Le Tour de Langkawi, and JVC Asian Badminton Championships.

Monteiro was noted for his promotion of the local music scene as a committee member of the Musicians Union of Malaysia and an active fund-raising committee member of the Selangor and Federal Territory Eurasian Association.

Monteiro, who was to turn 59 in a few days, leaves wife Margaret Eileen Hall, son Justin, 29, sister Penny, and three brothers - Arnold, Ian and Sandy.

For wake and funeral service details, call Arnold at 012-2511111. The Malay Mail

Pic: Swithin and wife Margaret.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Three questions for Marwan Bishara - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

The US has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as "illegal" and called for an immediate halt to all settlement building. All 14 other council members voted in favour of the resolution.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, answers three crucial questions connected with the issue.

Read: Three questions for Marwan Bishara - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Salam Maulidur Nabi

Selawat ke atas junjungan Nabi Muhammad SAW. Dan salam Maulidur Rasul kepada semua umat Islam.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Mubarak Steps down!!

President Mubarak has stepped down after a 30-year rule following more than two weeks of mass demonstrations. Vice President Omar Suleiman announced the resignation on state tv.


Hosni Mubarak resigns as president

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that the president was "waiving" his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the armed forces.

Suleiman's short statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners who attended protests across the country on Friday.

The crowd in Tahrir chanted "We have brought down the regime", while many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, hailed the moment as being the "greatest day of my life", in comments to the Associated Press news agency.

"The country has been liberated after decades of repression,'' he said.

"Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of intimidation ... today the people of Egypt undoubtedly [feel they] have been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the world," our correspondent at Tahrir Square reported, following the announcement.

"The sense of euphoria is simply indescribable," our correspondent at Mubarak's Heliopolis presidential palace, where at least ten thousand pro-democracy activists had gathered, said.

Pro-democracy activists in the Egyptian capital had marched on the presidential palace and state television buildings on Friday, the 18th consecutive day of protests.

Anger at state television

At the state television building earlier in the day, thousands had blocked people from entering or leaving, accusing the broadcaster of supporting the current government and of not truthfully reporting on the protests.

"The military has stood aside and people are flooding through [a gap where barbed wire has been moved aside]," Al Jazeera's correspondent at the state television building reported.

He said that "a lot of anger [was] generated" after Mubarak's speech last night, where he repeated his vow to complete his term as president.

'Gaining momentum'

Outside the palace in Heliopolis, where at least ten thousand protesters had gathered in Cairo, another Al Jazeera correspondent reported that there was a strong military presence, but that there was "no indication that the military want[ed] to crack down on protesters".

Click here for more of Al Jazeera's special coverage

She said that army officers had engaged in dialogue with protesters, and that remarks had been largely "friendly".

Tanks and military personnel had been deployed to bolster barricades around the palace.

Our correspondent said the crowd in Heliopolis was "gaining momentum by the moment", and that the crowd had gone into a frenzy when two helicopters were seen in the air around the palace grounds.

"By all accounts this is a highly civilised gathering. people are separated from the palace by merely a barbed wire ... but nobody has even attempted to cross that wire," she said.

As crowds grew outside the palace, Mubarak left Cairo on Friday for the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, according to sources who spoke to Al Jazeera.

In Tahrir Square, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered, chanting slogans against Mubarak and calling for the military to join them in their demands.

Our correspondent at the square said the "masses" of pro-democracy campaigners there appeared to have "clear resolution" and "bigger resolve" to achieve their goals than ever before.

However, he also said that protesters were "confused by mixed messages" coming from the army, which has at times told them that their demands will be met, yet in communiques and other statements supported Mubarak's staying in power until at least September.

Army statement

In a statement read out on state television at midday on Friday, the military announced that it would lift a 30-year-old emergency law but only "as soon as the current circumstances end".


Thousands are laying siege to state television's office

The military said it would also guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were hugely disappointed with that army statement, and had vowed to take the protests to "a last and final stage".

"They're frustrated, they're angry, and they say protests need to go beyond Liberation [Tahrir] Square, to the doorstep of political institutions," she said.

Protest organisers have called for 20 million people to come out on "Farewell Friday" in a final attempt to force Mubarak to step down.

Alexandria protests

Hossam El Hamalawy, a pro-democracy organiser and member of the Socialist Studies Centre, said protesters were heading towards the presidential palace from multiple directions, calling on the army to side with them and remove Mubarak.

"People are extremely angry after yesterday's speech," he told Al Jazeera. "Anything can happen at the moment. There is self-restraint all over but at the same time I honestly can't tell you what the next step will be ... At this time, we don't trust them [the army commanders] at all."

An Al Jazeera reporter overlooking Tahrir said the side streets leading into the square were filling up with crowds.

"It's an incredible scene. From what I can judge, there are more people here today than yesterday night," she said.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters havehered
in the port city of Alexandria [AFP]

"The military has not gone into the square except some top commanders, one asking people to go home ... I don't see any kind of tensions between the people and the army but all of this might change very soon if the army is seen as not being on the side of the people."

Hundreds of thousands were participating in Friday prayers outside a mosque in downtown Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city.

Thousands of pro-democracy campaigners also gathered outside a presidential palace in Alexandria.

Egyptian television reported that large angry crowds were heading from Giza, adjacent to Cairo, towards Tahrir Square and some would march on the presidential palace.

Protests are also being held in the cities of Mansoura, Mahala, Tanta, Ismailia, and Suez, with thousands in attendance.

Violence was reported in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, where protesters attempted to storm a police station. At least one person was killed, and 20 wounded in that attack, our correspondent said.

Dismay at earlier statement

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Mubarak said he was handing "the functions of the president" to Vice-President Omar Suleiman. But the move means he retains his title of president.

Halfway through his much-awaited speech late at night, anticipation turned into anger among protesters camped in Tahrir Square who began taking off their shoes and waving them in the air.

Immediately after Mubarak's speech, Suleiman called on the protesters to "go home" and asked Egyptians to "unite and look to the future."

Union workers have joined the protests over the past few days, effectively crippling transportation and several industries, and dealing a sharper blow to Mubarak’s embattled regime.

Monday 7 February 2011

...And, our heartful thanks to PM Najib and Datin Seri...

... for the timely evacuations of our students from Egypt.

PM and wife’s personal ties a big help

Sunday February 6

KUALA LUMPUR: The Saudi Arabian government has granted unlimited flight access to Malaysia to airlift its citizens from Egypt to Jeddah – a rare move made possible due to the close personal relationship between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor with the Saudi Royal House.

“I am very happy with the Saudi authorities for granting us all sorts of special concessions in the airlifting of our citizens,” said Najib in an interview here yesterday. “They have told us that we can mount as many flights as we need in the rescue mission.

“This is a rare privilege, mostly because of the close personal ties my wife and I have with King Abdullah Abdul Aziz and his family,” he added.

The Saudi government had granted blanket visas to all those evacuated from Egypt as well as landing rights for the eight RMAF, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia aircraft taking part in the evacuation exercise.

Najib said that when faced with such a crisis, it was diplomatically acceptable for both private and official channels to be used to ensure the rescue operation was successful.

“It is fortunate that we enjoy such a good relationship with the Saudi royal family. I was actually awakened at 2.30am on Thursday by a call from Saudi Arabia confirming the various special concessions for our airlift.

“I think it takes a very special friendship to work until so late to solve someone else’s problem and then to call someone at that hour to tell them about the blanket approval.”

Rosmah said she had also made some calls because she could not stand by and watch the students suffer “as some of them had nothing to eat”.

“As a mother, how could I not act? I feel for all the mothers whose children are studying there. I am glad I could help.

“Some of the Malaysian officials, aware of my Saudi connections, also asked me to assist. My husband was busy so that was why I helped,” she said.

“I could not afford to take any risk by waiting as every minute matters in a situation like this. Waiting a minute could cost lives. That’s why I made the call to the Saudis,” she said.

“Of course, I reported to him (Najib) what I did later.” - The Star

Read “Tugas Wajib Kerajaan Jaga Keselamatan Rakyat" here

Sunday 6 February 2011

10,000 rescued as evacuation set to end

KUALA LUMPUR: The evacuation of Malaysian students may soon see an end with 10,000 expected to have been moved by the end of yesterday.

Those close to the operation believe it will take only another day, meaning all Malaysians who want to leave Egypt would have done so by the end of today.

Several left Egypt on commercial flights while others chose to remain.

The process, then, will only entail bringing Malaysians evacuated to Jeddah back to Malaysia.

In Cairo, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Senator A. Kohilan Pillay said yesterday that quite a number had decided to remain in Egypt despite thousands of protesters taking to the streets daily.

"Some of them have families here, while others are final-year students who do not want to go before they completed their degrees.

"We advised them to leave but many refused.

"We can only hope that they change their minds and pray for the best," he told the New Sunday Times in a telephone interview.

Kohilan, who is in Cairo to oversee the evacuation, said two Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft were flying between Cairo and Jeddah to evacuate Malaysians, while another was ferrying Malaysians from Alexandria.

Also being flown are two aircraft from Malaysia Airlines and two more from AirAsia.

Kohilan said the government had also temporarily suspended plans to evacuate citizens using KD Bunga Mas 5, a Royal Malaysian Navy auxiliary ship.

"For now, we have enough aircraft for the evacuation, but the ship will be on standby."

He said apart from minor delays, the evacuation was going smoothly and had not been affected by curfews imposed by Egyptian authorities.

Asked about the students' educational future in if the situation worsened, Kohilan said he was confident that the unrest would not continue indefinitely and that the students would soon return to their studies.

RMAF chief Gen Tan Sri Rodzali Daud said the three Hercules aircraft would mount nine daily flights between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

He said the flights had faced only minor problems, such as finding time slots due to air traffic and airport congestion.

Rodzali said Bunga Mas 5 was expected to reach Port Taufiq in the Suez Gulf at 9.10pm Malaysian time yesterday. - The NST

Pix above: First-year Malaysian varsity students boarding an RMAF C-130 Hercules aircraft bound for Jeddah at Cairo International Airport yesterday.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Egypt Protests show American Foreign-Policy Folly

While popular uprisings erupt across the Middle East, America stands on the sidelines. Author/writer Stephen Kinzer writes on why the U.S. should abandon its self-defeating strategy in the region.
"The U.S. keeps Mubarak in power—it gave his regime $1.5 billion in aid last year—mainly because he supports America’s pro-Israel policies, especially by helping Israel maintain its stranglehold on Gaza. It supports Abbas for the same reason: he is seen as willing to compromise with Israel, and therefore a desirable negotiating partner. This was confirmed, to Abbas’s great embarrassment, by WikiLeaks cables that show how eager he has been to meet Israeli demands, even collaborating with Israeli security forces to arrest Palestinians he dislikes. American support for Mubarak and Abbas continues, although neither man is in power with any figment of legality; Mubarak brazenly stage-manages elections, and Abbas has ruled by decree since his term of office expired in 2009."

Full article read here

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Gong Xi Fa Chai!

Wishing everyone a good year ahead and those who are travelling a safe journey.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

NSTP managing editor among FT award recipients

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 09:46:00

PUTRAJAYA: New Straits Times Press managing editor and prominent blogger Nuraina Abdul Samad (pic) is among 256 people conferred awards and medals in conjunction with Federal Territories (FT) Day 2011 today.

Nuraina, daughter of former media icon and National Eminent Journalist, the late Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail, is one of two media practitioners to receive the Panglima Mahkota Wilayah (PMW) award, which carries the title "Datuk". She blogs regularly at www.nursamad.blogspot.com.

Another media practitioner to receive the award is Kumpulan Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad executive director Datuk Mohd Nasir Ali.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan led the list of people conferred awards and medals. He received the Seri Utama Mahkota Wilayah (SUMW) award, which carries the title "Datuk Seri Utama".

The investiture ceremony at Istana Negara was attended by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Other recipients of the SUMW are Umno secretarygeneral Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Public Bank Berhad non-executive director Tan Sri Thong Yaw Hong. Three people received the Seri Mahkota Wilayah (SMW) award, which carries the title "Datuk Seri". They are Bukit Aman Special Branch director Datuk Seri Akhil Bulat, People's Progressive Party president Datuk Seri M. Kayveas and Malaysian Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association president Datuk Seri Yam Kong Choy.

Besides Nuraina and Mohd Nasir, a total of 32 individuals received the PMW. ... The Malay Mail

Sidek heads FT honours list - The NST

Read here