PAS Youth will today zoom in on MCA president Chua Soi Lek at its Muktamar debates today in retaliation to the Chinese party’s vociferous attacks on hudud law at its own annual general assembly last month.

Any one wondered why CHUA Soi Lek is so afraid of Hudud? Its a personal fear thing with him. The fears of Hudud are mostly unfounded – most of the present PAS leaders are learned and think in the 20th century – Hudud, if implemented, is not going to chop-off hands or what Soi Lek is fearful of. Only criminals and crooks should fear Hudud.Following the Prophet’s way is always the best way Party members who felt the issue of hudud need not be discussed in light of political cooperation were “confused” and have failed to grasp the party teachings, said PAS’ Ulama wing chief.Turkey is an Islamic nation but they don’t practice hudud because of the legal difficulties in ensuring fairness such as ensuring 4 witnesses to a crime. Secondly in syariah law the mans testimony is double that of a woman again creating unfairness and inequalities amongst the sexes. If PAS wants to replace UMNO and it definitely has a good chance this time around it needs to be inclusive and not exclusive

. Secondly it should not respond to Islamic phobia baiting by BN/MCA which is trying hard to split Pakatan and all those against the corrupted and ungodly UMNO putras
referendum among the Muslims, I have two reasons: First, I want the Muslims to make the decision because I am still not 100% sure whether hudud, if ever implemented, would apply to non-Muslims. So certainly Muslims would have a higher stake than me. Second, I am confident even among the Muslims, they are not keen on hudud. These ulama are archaic people who know nothing but think they know everything.
MJobs for cutting off rapists’ mischievous organs! That needs expertise. 2. Jobs for chopping off hands of those who steal other people’s land. 3. Jobs for extracting eye -balls of those who feast their eyes on ladies’ breasts. That needs training. 4. Jobs for taking out the eharts of those who lust after ladies or go after other people’s wives or husbands. That needs training. 5. Jobs for chopping off legs which have trespassed other people’s land. That needs training. 6. Jobs for cutting off tongues of those who tell lies ; and make empty promsies. That needs special training. 7. Jobs for hanging those who torture innocent people and forcing them off high -rise buildings. This needs training. 8. Jobs for extracting brains of those who plot the over throw of Government. That needs special training. And so on. There are plentiful jobs required to do the special jobs. Hence, there will not be losing jobs but rather increasing jobs, Dr. Chua! Only offenders need fear if Islam is not about hudud, then please don’t harp on it day in and day out. Don’t say civil laws are not effective in the US. Cases there are transparently recorded and published. They have 300 million people living in a highly urbanised country. Don’t look at the absolute number and draw your conclusion. President Clinton was caught for having improper relationship with Lewinsky. The case was widely published and investigated. Are you saying leaders of other countries have never indulged in similar rendezvous? Please think. In many countries, crimes by the ruling elites were never recorded or published..

Yet again, UMNO as well as the likes of Ibrahim Ali and PAS’ Nasharudin Mat Isa have resorted to misusing Islam to discredit a member of the Opposition bloc.

According to a transcript provided by Malaysiakini, Nurul Izzah Anwar said at a forum last weekend that “…there is no compulsion in religion… How can anyone really say, ‘sorry, this only applies to non-Malays.’ It has to apply equally.”

Hishammuddin Hussein, the Home Minister, described Nurul’s statements as insensitive and causing public anger.Nasharudin, the former PAS Vice-President, said that she must repent and what she said goes against Islam.Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister, said her statement was stupid.

Now, putting aside the fact that nearly every time good ol’ Hisham, Nasha and Mahathir open their mouths, they say something stupid and insensitive that anger the public, Nurul, on the other hand, did not say anything “radical”, “liberal”, “dangerous to the faith” or even new.

On the contrary, what she said has been discussed among Islamic scholars across the globe for years.It’s just that no one seems to have clued the Powers That Be on this.

A blanket rule for all

Nurul said that there is no compulsion in religion, whether for Muslims or non-Muslims. And she has a point.

Islam is all about an individual’s own voluntary submission to Allah; there can be no coercion because faith cannot be forced upon anyone, even on those Malays who are born Muslims.

I mean, if I asked you, at gunpoint, to believe in Islam, would you? Unless you’re already a believer, then of course not. You’d probably blubber a bit about how being at the brink of death has opened your eyes to Islam, but your convictions would remain the same.

So compulsion is not the answer – education is, just as Nurul mentioned in a later statement. In fact, even in the Quran, Surah Al-Nahl, verse 126 states:

“Invite [all] to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (16:126 – translated by Yusuf Ali)

Now, for those of you who are going to say that I’m no scholar and should just keep my mouth shut and let the experts talk it out, allow me to produce a quote from the former Chief Judge of Pakistan, SA Rahman.

“Man is free to choose between truth and falsehood and the Prophet’s function is to convey the message, exemplify it in his own life and to leave the rest to God – he is no warder over men to compel them to adopt particular beliefs,” he wrote.

This is further fortified in several Islamic verses, including Surah Ali Imran, verse 20 and Al-Ma’idah, verse 92, which state if individuals turn away from the message of Islam, then the Prophet Muhammad’s duty is only to educate – not force nor coerce.

Freedom to choose still exists

Unfortunately, we still have the likes of Nasharudin who argue that the “no compulsion in religion” verse (2:256) only applies to non-Muslims in the issue of converting to Islam.

In other words, once one becomes Muslim, let the coercion begin! Now, I challenge him and other like-minded individuals to point out any verse in the Quran which states that that sort of double standard exists.Nasharudin did mention Surah al-Ahzab verse 36 as “proof” that there is no freedom in religion for Muslims.

“It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” (33:36 – translation by Yusuf Ali)

But, as you can see, this verse just states that when Allah has commanded something, it is not fitting for a believer to have any choice in their matter – the freedom to choose still exists, as mentioned several times in the Quran.

But while freedom exists, the Quran still states what is right and wrong.And if one chooses what has been forbidden, then one will face the consequences of that decision, whether in this life or the hereafter.

Islam and apostasy

Now, by virtue of the fact that freedom of religion exists in Islam, does that mean Muslims, and Malays, have the freedom to renounce their religion and should not be coerced or punished into remaining as Muslims?

Since I’d rather not have 15 policemen raid FMT’s office over this article, I’ll refrain from stating my stand, but just share the views of several revered scholars in Islam who are not Malaysians, not Malays, and do not have any vested political interest in the issue.

The former chief judge of Pakistan, SA Rahman, wrote in his book “Punishment of apostasy in Islam” that:

“There is absolutely no mention in the Quran of mundane punishment for defection from the faith by a believer, except in the shape of deprivation of the spiritual benefits of Islam or of the civil status and advantages that accrue to an individual as a member of the well-knit fraternity of Muslims.

“He should, however, be free to profess and propagate the faith of his choice, so long as he keeps within the bounds of law and morality, and to enjoy all other rights as a peaceful citizen of the State, in common with his Muslim co-citizens.”

He also added that apostasy is an offence in the realm of the rights of God, rather than the rights of mankind, thus there would be no pressing necessity to punish a peaceful change of faith.

Meanwhile, Dr Ahmad Ar-Raysouni, a professor of principles of Islamic jurisprudence, wrote:

“…if Allah did not coerce His creation towards belief in Him, nor did He permit his Prophet [pbuh] to do so instructing him, then how could He allow, or order, the leaders of the Muslims to force one to remain as a Muslim or return to it under the threat of death?”

Another Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, wrote:

“…all of the moral teachings of the Quran are based on the notion of moral responsibility, which entails the freedom of choice. Therefore, to state that one must be put to death for choosing to disbelieve would only undermine the entire moral edifice of the Quran.”

Controversy over nothing

In the end, it’s clear that what Nurul said on that fateful day has its basis – both in the Quran and in the viewpoints of certain scholars.

And while some people, including Siti Kassim, may view her later statement as a “retraction”, I don’t – just because Nurul doesn’t condone nor support apostasy, doesn’t mean she is denying that freedom in religion exists. She is just not supportive of fellow Muslims making the wrong decision.

So, really, the fact that UMNO is latching onto this issue and fanning the flames of religious sentiments is just another sign of its desperation to stay in power.

But in this case, UMNO is signing its own death warrant because misusing religion for political mileage does not go down well with (thinking) Malays and Muslims.

As for Nurul? Kudos to you for answering Siti Kassim’s question honestly and risking your own political standing to do so. A Muslim should never hide the truth from another just to save her own ass.

So I suggest the best thing for you to do from here on out is to stick to your stand, and the facts that support it. Because we Muslims are behind you all the way on this.

Israel is a racist state and there is a reason why the world has focused on the apartheid policies of the Israeli state in recent years.  I know the apologists for apartheid racism love to point out the problems with Arab nations which is easy to do since they have traditionally been ruled by American backed despots who suppress and oppress the people.  What you fail to understand is that the world is changing.  Arab nations are changing yet the Israelis are doubling down on repression of the native inhabitants and cruelty towards those who choose to immigrate there for economic reasons. You can not continue racism in Israel.  ””The whole world is watching” to steal an old cliche.  The world is sick of Israel treating the native Palestinian population like criminals and they are sick of Israel using extremists measures in order to artificially manufacture a demographic advantage when even this is failing miserably.  It is also important to note the main point of your argument is nothing but bull$hit.  You say that they are coming to Israel and not Arab nations as proof that Israel is so great and not racist.  This is the same nonsensical argument that people make here about Mexicans coming to the US.  The motivation is purely economic.  The Arab nations have been looted by corrupt Western backed criminals that the Arab people are now in the process of getting rid of.  This leaves Israel as the strongest economy in the region therefore naturally it would be the ideal destination for those looking to improve their economic situation.  That does not exonerate Israel from being the racist state that it is.  Apartheid South Africa was also the strongest economy in Sub Saharan Africa.  Have fun cheering for your racist apartheid regime because just like apartheid in South Africa collapsed so too will it collapse in Israel.

To support this claim, some figures cite the Qur’anic injunction to “command right and forbid wrong.” This command, taken at face value, might seem to call for the government enforcement of Islamic morality on men and women, but a closer look at the Qur’an yields an abundance of evidence indicating that the sacred text does not support such an interpretation.

To “command good and forbid evil” (amr bil ma’ruf wa nahy an al munkar – امر بالمعروف و نهى عن المنكر ) is one of the basic moral obligations that the Qur’an places on Muslims. This injunction, given by the Prophet Luqman in verse 31:17, is binding on all believers:

Keep up the prayer, my son; command what is right; forbid what is wrong; bear anything that happens to you steadfastly: these are things to be aspired to. (31:17)

Elsewhere in the Qur’an, the ideal believers are described as those who “enjoin good and forbid evil” (9:112). The following is merely one of several verses sprinkled throughout this holy book that echo this message:

The believers, both men and women… enjoin what is good and forbid evil, they attend to their prayers and pay the alms and obey God and His Messenger. On these God will have mercy, for God is Almighty and Wise. (9:71; see also 3:104, 3:110)

Muslims interpret this principle in many different ways. Some believe that “commanding” and “forbidding” mean giving sound, sincere advice grounded in Islamic tenets to friends and family. Others apply the principle to government, assuming that the state should legislate Islam. Striking a balance between these two poles, others still read the injunction as a call to public preaching and educational outreach, or a general obligation to speak against oppression. Many radical thinkers, like the influential Egyptian ideologue Sayyid Qutb, gave politicized readings of these passages. In the second volume of his famous exegetical work, Fi Zilal al-Quran, Qutb writes that “[a]nyone may be able to invite to what is good, but no one can enjoin and forbid unless he is equipped with real authority” (p. 165, emphasis added). For him, “enjoining” and “forbidding” amount to state enforcement. The straightforward logic of this conclusion is certainly attractive, but in actuality, this line of reasoning finds little support in the Qur’an.

Arabic words are based on a system of trilateral roots. The root of the word “enjoin” is a-m-r, and its variations appear dozens of times throughout the Qur’an, usually translated as “enjoin,” “command,” or “bid.” Some readers assume that an element of force is involved in “commanding,” but the word’s usage throughout the Qur’an suggests otherwise.

In a passage about Moses and Pharaoh, the word “command” is used in a way that removes all possibility of force. Pharaoh, growing wary of Moses’ burgeoning influence in his kingdom, consults his advisors about how to proceed, asking them, “What, then, do you enjoin (tamuruna – تَأْمُرُونَ )?” (7: 110) According to the Qur’an, Pharaoh was a supremely arrogant, narcissistic man who forced his people to worship him as a deity (26:29, 28:38). If the Arabic word for “enjoin” suggested force or coercion, Pharaoh would never have used it when speaking to his advisors, over whom he had absolute authority.

In another passage, the careful reader finds that the word “enjoin” is distinguished from compulsion even more clearly. Verses 34:31-33 describe an exchange between two groups of sinners in the afterlife, with the weaker ones blaming the stronger for leading them to hellfire: “…it was your scheming, night and day, enjoining us (tamurunana – تَأْمُرُونَنَآ ) to disbelieve in God and set up rivals to Him” (34:33). But had the weaker group truly been forced to rebel against God, God would not banish them to hell in the first place. After all, the Qur’an warns that “one who denies God after he has believed, with the exception of one who is forced to do it, . . . shall incur the wrath of God” (16:106, emphasis added). Obviously, by virtue of their abode in the afterlife, this group of people does not fall within the category of those coerced into disbelief. They were not compelled to reject God, but only encouraged (see 39:64 for a similar usage).

The Arabic word which specifies coercion in verse 16:106 is ukriha (أُكْرِهَ), from the root k-r-h. In the Qur’an, this root denotes true compulsion (see 4:19, 10:99, 20:73, 24:33), and it most famously appears in verse 2:256, which declares that “there shall be no compulsion (ikraha – إِكْرَاهَ) in matters of faith.”

Interestingly enough, a group of verses about Satan remove any doubt about whether or not the use of the verbs “enjoin” and “forbid” in the Qur’an imply coercion. At cursory glance, we find several verses warning us that Satan will “command” humankind to do evil:

Satan threatens you with the prospect of poverty and commands you (wayamurukum – وَيَأْمُرُكُم ) to do foul deeds; God promises you His forgiveness and His abundance…. (2:268)

[A]nd whoever follows in the footsteps of Satan should know that he enjoins (yamuru – يَأْمُرُ ) only indecency and evil. (24:21; see also 4:118-119, 2:168-169)

Those familiar with the Qur’an will know that Satan’s command has nothing to do with force or compulsion, because God has assured readers that Satan “has no power over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord; he has power only over those who are willing to follow him” (16:98-100). In another passage, Satan’s tactics are described in more detail:

And when everything will have been decided, Satan will say: … I deceived you. Yet I had no power at all over you: I but called you (da’awtukum) – and you responded unto me. Hence, blame not me, but blame yourselves.”(14:22)

How can Satan “command” people when he “has no power” over any being except “those who are willing to follow him”? The obvious answer is that his “commands” are not enforced; he only “calls” to people – and they choose to listen. Thus, the Qur’an makes clear that “enjoining” something does not mean enforcing it, but rather promoting it.

Just as “commanding” or “enjoining” good does not imply coercion, neither does “forbidding evil.” The Arabic word for “forbid” (based on the root n-h-y) is used in three different ways in the Qur’an. In a metaphorical sense, it refers to exerting self-control or making oneself “immune” to bad inclinations. For example, the Qur’an describes a type of person who “feared the meeting with his Lord and restrained (wanaha – وَنَهَى ) himself from base desires” (79:40), and tells Muslims are to pray regularly, because prayer “restrains one (tanha – تَنْهَىٰ ) from indecency and evil” (29:45). Both examples illustrate a more abstract, spiritual meaning of “forbidding evil” — to shield oneself from becoming vulnerable to evil.

The third, and most common, usage of “forbid” (n-h-y) is in reference to revelation. Scores of verses (such as 6:56, 4:31, 7:157, 7:166, and 11:61-2) describe God “commanding” and “forbidding” through His prophets and scripture. As with the word “enjoin,” we should not understand forbiddance as an act of force, but rather, an act of communication. Many translators, for example, render “forbid” in verse 11:116 as “speak out against” or “warn against”:

Why, then, were there not among the generations before you upright men who would speak out against (yanhawna – يَنْهَوْنَ ) the [spread of] corruption on earth—except for the few whom We saved?” (11:116)

The Qur’an often employs the words “forbid” or “command” in the context of a person using his or her intellect. These passages show that enjoining and forbidding depend on reason and conceptual understanding, rather than force:

Say, “I have been forbidden (nuhitu – نُهِيتُ ) to invoke those whom you invoke besides God—seeing that clear signs have come to me from my Lord.”(40:66)

Other verses describe people being “commanded” by their own beliefs (2:93) and “ordered” by their reason (52:32). It is interesting to note that the word “understanding” (al-nuha, seen in verses such as 20:54 and 20:128) shares the same Arabic root (n-h-y) as the word “forbid” (nahy).

Radicals like Sayyid Qutb (and Ayaan Hirsi Ali) may insist that Islam’s holy book commands Muslims to enforce “Islamic law” through state power, but it seems their views are not grounded in careful study. The Qur’an does not require Muslims to force their morality on others when it tells them to “enjoin right and forbid wrong.

Suppose Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told an interviewer that he’ll never recognize Israel or accept any agreement that doesn’t give the Palestinians every inch of historic Palestine, including all of Jerusalem.  He insists on full Palestinian right of return – including his own right of return to his native Safed, which since 1948 has been part of Israel — and maintains that it is the Palestinians’ right to use all means, including violence, to achieve their goals.   Even in a week where the major story is U.S. presidential elections, this interview would have been big news.  Abbas’ words would have been denounced by politicians and pundits.  The press would have been replete with op-eds and analyses arguing that Abbas is an enemy of peace, Israel, the Jewish people, and the civilized world.   That’s the imaginary scenario.  In reality, Abbas gave an interview last Friday to Israeli TV in which he recognized Israel within the 1967 borders, said that a future state of Palestine would be limited to the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, recognized that Safed is part of Israel and said he does not expect to return to it, and repeated his opposition to Palestinian violence.   The deafening silence in response to this interview — in U.S. political circles and in the organizational Jewish community — is telling.  For years critics and skeptics of peace efforts have asked: Where is the Palestinian leader truly ready to live in peace with Israel?  Where is the partner?   Well, here he is.  Here’s a Palestinian leader who talks the talk and walks the walk, even at tremendous political risk.    Unsurprisingly, some Palestinians condemned Abbas’ brave words.  Others, including Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, dismissed his words as not credible, seizing on the Palestinians’ ongoing campaign to gain non-member state status in the United Nations as evidence of Abbas’ bad faith.  This argument rings hollow, given that all indications are that this UN effort, like the previous Palestinian UN effort, will be premised on terms similar to those Abbas laid out in his interview.  Moreover, what Abbas said last Friday wasn’t a one-off; Abbas has said similar things, including in Arabic, in the past.   On the ground, Abbas has overseen unprecedented security cooperation with Israel and clamped down on incitement and violence.  He has consistently demonstrated that he believes his people’s future lies in a state that will be limited to 22% of historic Palestine, with the details to be determined through negotiations.  Abbas has remained committed to this vision even in the face of the most pro-settlement, anti-peace Israeli leadership in decades.   There is no doubt: Abbas is a leader with whom Israel could make peace, if Israel’s leaders truly wanted to do so.  Regrettably, it appears that isn’t the goal of Israel’s current leaders.  Rather, in word and deed, many of those in power in Israel today make it clearer every day — including with the announcement, only days after Abbas’ interview, of new settlement construction — that their goal is to make such a solution impossible.   If they keep this up, then they — and the rest of the world — can rest assured, Abbas won’t last much longer in his current job.  But let no one have any illusions: under these circumstances, Abbas won’t be replaced by a new Palestinian leader who is more willing to make “peace” with Israel based on the kind of terms that Netanyahu and his ilk are offering — terms that are tantamount to permanent disenfranchisement, deprivation of rights, and abject humiliation.    Rather, he’ll be replaced by leaders who, like too many of their Israeli counterparts in power today, reject the two-state formula, scoff at the notion of mutual respect and reconciliation, and are determined to pursue a zero-sum agenda by any means and at any cost.  Even Hamas will seem moderate in comparison to what is likely to emerge.   Abbas is telling the world: There’s still another option, an option that holds the promise of real peace and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians.  Regrettably, many in Israel and the United States appear to be saying that this option is no longer of interest.    With his decisive reelection Tuesday night, President Obama now has an historic

African refugees in Israel face violence, discrimination and an uncertain future.

Tensions came to a head in Tel Aviv this April with a Molotov cocktail attack on African homes and a creche.

In a country where refugees are seen as ‘infiltrators’ and a ‘cancer’, Isayas is a refugee attempting to change the situation on the ground.

He escaped Eritrea after being imprisoned and tortured and is now trying to gather support and build a network to improve the plight of those fleeing war-torn countries.

He works tirelessly to organise sit-ins and marches to challenge the construction of the world’s largest detention centre for refugees.

Isayas’ energy is endless but even he has moments when the pressure gets too much.

Earlier today Israeli aircraft killed Ahmad Jabari, the commander of the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian organization that controls the Gaza Strip. Jabari was a well known figure to Palestinians and Israelis alike; he was a leader of Hamas’s violent campaign to take control of the Gaza Strip and decimate the presence of its secular rival Fatah in the Strip. Jabari was also the central figure behind the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. His assassination marks a major escalation of an ongoing rocket-and-airstrike exchange in recent weeks.

The escalation of the conflict, though dramatic, was not unexpected. In recent weeks Hamas engaged in a series of large-scale rocket attacks against towns in southern Israel. This was something of a departure from precedent in recent years, when smaller Palestinian organizations such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and not Hamas, carried out most of the rocket tacks. Though these attacks receive little coverage abroad, they naturally dominate the news in Israel, where hundreds of thousands of people — in a country of less than eight million — are under the threat of rockets and their daily lives are disrupted. The question now is what form this new round of fighting will take, and whether it can produce a longer-term quiet or lead to a far worse situation in both Gaza and southern Israel.

Broadly speaking, there are four possible trajectories for the Israeli operation. The first is to try and limit the scope of the conflict. Following the tactical success of targeting Jabari, Israel could have tried to contain the fighting, having sent a clear message to the remaining Hamas leaders of their vulnerability in case of a prolonged conflict. But Jabari’s prominence was such that the chances of a short skirmish were negligible; when deciding to target him, Israel clearly prepared for a wider operation to follow.

The second possible trajectory is a continued air offensive against Hamas targets and a prolonged campaign against the organization’s leadership, reminiscent of a series of targeted killings of Hamas leaders in 2004. Then, Israel changed its strategy and successively killed the head of Hamas in Gaza, including the organizations founder, Ahmed Yassin and later his successor Abed El-Aziz Rantisi. The Israeli security establishment viewed that campaign as highly effective in pacifying Hamas by attaching the cost of conflict directly to its leaders, rather than to the organization’s rank and file or to the Palestinian population at large.

The third trajectory is a repeat, in some form, of “Operation Cast Lead” that began in December 2008, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who still serves in the same post. Cast Lead included a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip but was not aimed at toppling Hamas; the invasion caused severe damage to Hamas’s military infrastructure but did little to alter the reality on the ground in Gaza. The scenes of destruction in Gaza and the international attention it attracted — including the report of the Goldstone commission — cost Israel dearly in the international arena but left Hamas in full control of the Gaza Strip.

Like Cast Lead, this operation (dubbed “Cloud Pillar”) came shortly before national elections in Israel (scheduled for January 2013.) Many will undoubtedly see this as attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to divert the electorate’s attention away from domestic issues toward national security, an area where he has an advantage, and to rally the public around the flag. Yet Netanyahu, it should be remembered, also finds himself constrained by the upcoming elections. Whereas at a different time he might opt for restraint, he now faces severe public pressure to alleviate the threat of rockets. Any government — including a dovish one — would be forced under the present circumstances to respond, though not necessarily in a such dramatic way.

The fourth and final trajectory would be an even more extreme version of Cast Lead. In recent months Hamas has been strengthening its position even while the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is teetering on the verge of fiscal collapse. The root problem, in Israeli eyes, is Hamas’s control in Gaza. Many in Israel — including, reportedly, the general of the Southern Command at the time of Cast Lead, Yoav Galant — preferred a comprehensive approach, i.e. bringing down Hamas by force. An attempt to do so today necessarily would be bloody and costly, but, some in the Israeli establishment argue, would be the only solution to the continued conflict along the Israel-Gaza border.

For its part, Hamas will undoubtedly intensify its rocket attacks from Gaza and perhaps use longer range missiles that can reach the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv. Indeed, expecting a Hamas reaction, Israel has already struck hidden, underground stocks of longer-range Fajjar rockets, much as Israel did at the very start of its war in Lebanon in 2006 against Hezbollah.

It may also try to resume attacks inside Israel, which it has largely refrained from utilizing in recent years. While the organization’s ability to send suicide bombers from the Gaza Strip into Israel is limited, due to the sealed and well-defined border along the Strip, Hamas has been attempting to revive its capabilities in the West Bank for some time.

And yet, whichever trajectory the Israeli operation takes, there is one central difference from Operation Cast Lead. Back then, the Gaza Strip’s other neighbor, Egypt, was ruled by the tough-minded and anti-Hamas Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was willing to suffer condemnation in the Arab press for sitting by as Israel conducted its ground offensive in Gaza.

Today, Egypt is ruled by Hamas parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. President Morsi of Egypt, although he has not shown much favor toward Hamas thus far, presents a very different actor than his predecessor. Though outright conflict between Egypt and Israel is highly unlikely at present, the Egyptian position complicates Israel’s calculus. Egyptian intelligence was instrumental in brokering a fledgling ceasefire in recent days — one that is now void — and Egyptians will undoubtedly view the Israeli action as deliberate escalation. Israel will have to weigh the need to bring quiet to its civilian population against the costs not only of a bloody operation in Gaza, but of the threat to the strategically-crucial relationship with Egypt.


by Ranjit Singh Malhi (11-10-12) @

I refer to Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s recent invitation to Indian groups to meet with the Government and discuss the grievances of the Malaysian Indian Community.

Let’s face the stark reality and look for permanent and holistic solutions to the problems plaguing the Indian Community. The Indian Community which forms about 7 per cent of our nation’s population does rightfully feel alienated and frustrated.

Indeed, one can argue that the Indian Community over the last few decades has become in N. J. Colleta’s words, “Malaysia’s forgotten people.” I would add that the community’s position has been reduced to that of a “footnote” in our school history textbooks which scantly acknowledge their contribution towards the economic development of our nation.

The problem of the marginalised Indian community, particularly of the more than 300,000 displaced plantation workers must be viewed as a grave national problem which must be tackled immediately with a sense of urgency and sincerity.

The Indian community is plagued by a number of problems besides poverty, low self-esteem and having the lowest share of the nation’s corporate wealth. It has the highest number of gangsters, prisoners, drug addicts, alcoholics, suicide rate and single mothers in proportion to population. Indians commit about 50 per cent of our nation’s serious crimes and record the highest percentage of deaths whilst under police custody. Indians also have the lowest life expectancy rate among the major races.

In all fairness, the Government has recently undertaken certain initiatives to alleviate the problems faced by the Indian community such as increasing the number of seats for Indian matriculation students, promising one hundred scholarships for top Indian students and approving myKad for over 4,000 Indian Malaysians.

Such initiatives are definitely steps in the right direction but they do not address the basic problems faced by the community. Much more needs to be done for the Indian community such as enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in Tamil schools, allocating increased seats in institutions of higher learning, creating adequate job and business opportunities, providing appropriate skills training, and introducing land settlement schemes.

The Government should bear in mind that our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Indian community for their invaluable contribution before Merdeka. It was Indian labour (mainly South Indians) that was the backbone of the rubber industry and primarily responsible for opening up much of what is today West Malaysia with their sweat, blood and tears.

Rubber was the chief export of Malaya for several decades beginning from 1916. Indian labour was also primarily responsible for building the roads, railways and bridges besides constructing ports, airports and government buildings. Virtually every mile of railway track which totalled over 1,000 miles and about 6,000 miles of metalled main roads and several hundred miles of tertiary roads by 1957 were built by Indian labour. As aptly stated by Muzaffar Tate, “The Public Works Department was an Indian preserve.”

A little known fact is that hundreds of thousands of Indians died in developing modern Malaya. According to the 1957 Federation of Malaya Census Report, much of the 1.2 million net Indian immigration to Malaya between 1860-1957 appears to have been wiped out by disease, snake bites, exhaustion and malnutrition. In the words of Michael R. Stenson, “… South India provided an indispensable tribute of human lives without which the European owned plantation industry in Malaya could not have been established.”

To conclude, our nation owes a debt of gratitude to Malaysian Indians for their valuable past contribution in nation building, particularly in opening up the malarial and sparsely populated jungle for commercial agriculture which formed the backbone of the country’s economy until 1980. The Government is morally obliged to initiate significant and long lasting measures aimed at vastly improving the economic and social well being of the Indian Community.



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