Posts Tagged ‘Johor’

Alcohol in hamper as Deepavali gift for Tamil school HMs?

November 9th, 2011
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to by Email

 I’m sure the YB (who is also Deputy Education Minister, and a Muslim) won’t be dumb enough to give alcohol as part of hamper gift, what more to school administrators in the school. You can put fruits, biscuits, chocolates, cordials etc. in hampers. No need to encourage alcohol drinking.

Wonder how this came to be.

If indeed this happened, a shameful incidence for Indian community. Seems like the perception of others is that drinking is a culture of the community.


… In Batu Pahat, several Tamil school headmasters and their assistants were suprised to see hampers on their tables when they returned to work after the Deepavali break.

What stunned them the most was that the hampers contained a bottle of Famous Grouse whisky.

The hampers were from the Batu Pahat MP Mohd Puad Zarkashi, who is also the deputy education minister.

“Most of us were suprised and felt uncomfortable. Firstly, the hamper contained a liqour bottle and secondly, we as civil servants should not receive such gifts

“Perhaps it is the deputy minister’s way of thanking us for our contribution,” said a teacher, who declined to be named.

However, he said that sending flowers would suffice and there was no need for liquor bottles.

Tenang by-election and Indians

February 10th, 2011
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to by Email

The recently concluded Tenang by-election saw BN candidate winning with a higher majority of 3707 as compared to 2008 General Elections, but still below the target set by the DPM. This may be partially due to the flood causing voter turnout to be about 67% only. According to Election Commission turnout is 66.7% which is a fall of 6.8% from the 73.5% turnout at the 2008 general election.  BTW, previous majority was 2,492.

An analysis by Naragan on the Indian voters shows the below (I’m not sure of the source of the data). He also did a write up on the possible impact of HRP, but I’m not going into that at the moment.

2008 2011
Total Indians voted 1104 694
Indian votes for BN 550 555
Indians voted for PR 554 144

Tony Pua also tweeted that 80% of the Indian voters voted for BN but the turnout was about 23% less.

I’m continuing with the assumption that the statistics above are correct. If anyone has the updated/correct stats, do let me know.

The total Indian voters are at 12% numbering about 1,754 voters. We can see from above that the turnout dropped nearly 40% and the votes for BN remains similar.  The votes for PR suffered tremendously as it dropped by about 75%. What does this mean? The makkal not interested to vote for PR as before and also not interested to vote for BN as well? Also, nearly 2/3 did not turn up to vote, which is more alarming! Bear in mind, of the 1754, 1100 are MIC members. Looks like MIC have lot of work to do.  Yes, they got 80% of the votes but its very misleading as the turnout is much less, and most voters who voted for PR did not turn up. In fact, the MIC Johor boss expected 80% of the TOTAL voters to vote for BN, and they actually got only about half of that.

However, two replies I got via twitter saying:

1. overall 73 percent indians voted for bn – source

2. total voters is 1740 turnout varies according to peti undi from 75 to 96 percent – source

And its said to be first-hand info.

Regardless of this, my opinion is that even if all of them voted, it would have not changed the results of this by-election.

The political parties have big KPI for Tenang Indians: ensure at least 80% of the Indian voters turn up to vote in next election.

I’m amused to read the story below from Malaysiakini, talking about the Indians in Tenang.  Read it and wonder if its one reason why voter turnout is low – the makkal think PR won’t be able to help, or that BN already helping enough, and the election result is foregone conclusion. So why bother voting?

The soaring price of rubber and palm oil has brought windfall to the residents of Tenang, with some Chinese estate owners and Malay Felda settlers reaping a monthly income of RM10,000.

However, most of the Indians voters in Tenang are struggling with rising living costs while still stuck with their monthly RM600 pay from giant plantation companies.

NONELabis Utara estate is one such Indian estate settlement in the constituency. Some 30 families are residing in their tiny yellow houses with two rooms, provided by their employer, Sime Darby.

This British colony heritage – providing free basic accommodation to workers and their families with meagre wage – has trapped the Indian community in poverty for three generations.

Although the official working hours are from 7am to 2pm, most are forced to toil overtime for the extra RM4 per hour, in order to hit the RM1,000 monthly income mark.

Those in other estates within the constituency namely Sungai Labis estate, Voules estate and Bukit Datok estates, display the same undying faith in the system.

Woeful living conditions

Labis Utara estate is only a 10-minute drive from Labis town but a large part of the road leading to the estate remains unpaved and is sometimes inundated after day-long rains, cutting the residents’ only access to town.

Despite the poor living conditions, a visit to Labis Utara by Malaysiakini found that many of the voters there remain staunch BN supporters.

To them, the BN and MIC are their only hope and the free accommodation, 50 percent school transport subsidy for their children and free public medical service are more than enough to ensure their loyalty.

They were well aware that the Felda settlers’ living standards have risen over the past 30 years compared to their stagnation, but the idea of switching their loyalty to the opposition had apparently never crossed their mind.

NONE“The MIC is more reliable than my own children,” said P Kunasegaran, 51, (right) who lost the ability to walk in an accident in 1995.

He added that supporting the BN is the bequest left to him by his late father.

“Before he died, he asked me to support the BN. I have voted five or six times for the BN. I also asked my children to support the BN.”

Abandoned parents’ total faith

The father of six, who now relies on his wife who earns RM400 as a cleaner at the Sime Darby office, said all his children had abandoned their parents.

“That’s why I say the BN and MIC are more reliable than my children. I will never support others. When I met with the accident, it was an MIC member who sent me to the hospital.”

Asked whether the government could have could have helped out his community through a scheme similar to that of Felda, Kunasegaran hesitated awhile but still maintained his loyalty.

“Even if that’s the case, I’m still thankful to the government. Hinduism teaches us to appreciate even the smallest help. Former MIC president S Samy Vellu is like my god.”

As for M Devi, 36, who earns RM400 a month as a Sime Darby office assistant, her reason for supporting the ruling coalition is simple – her employer had paid for her medical bill twice, when she gave birth to her two children at the Segamat government hospital.

Life jacket promise feeds faith

Her husband S Narayan, 45, has more reasons to support the BN as the MIC had assisted him to land him a cleaner’s job with Johor waste management contractor, Southern Waste.

“Before that I was a worker in an oil palm estate. I’m the envy of many people in this area! I can earn up to RM1,300 a month if I work overtime.”

Another couple, M Panirselpam, 49, and R Santhi, are the third generation of estate workers here.

NONEThey were both with Sime Darby estate earning a total monthly income of RM1,000 before Santhi (left) was diagnosed with Osteophytes (a type of bone spur, or bony projections that form along joints) which forced her to stop working.

“Earlier the MIC had promised that they would assist children who could get into higher education institutions. This is quite attractive to me because I want my children to be freed from such poverty,” said Panirselpam.

Bell Club in Johor transfered RM60k

August 31st, 2010
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to by Email

Johor MIC seems to be in headline again. Just few weeks ago it was a division head who was convicted of corruption. Now is an “individual linked to MIC” – whatever that means.

Anyway, investigation only, doesn’t mean got any wrongdoing right? Maybe some simple case of miscommunication or misunderstanding of procedures. But, RM60,000 is lot of money.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is investigating allegations that an allocation given to an Indian non-governmental organisation had been transferred into a politician’s bank account.

It was learnt that the MACC had already begun recording statements from individuals and politicians in connection with the RM60,000 allocation to a Bell club in the state.

Johor MACC chief Simi Abdul Ghani confirmed that they were investigating the case but declined to disclose any details.

It was learnt that the probe started after the Johor Bell Club committee initiated its own investigation into one of its branches for receiving the allocation from the state government and then allegedly channelling a large part of it into the account of an individual linked to the MIC, keeping only a token sum for itself. The matter surfaced recently when the RM60,000 allocation to the branch in question was published in an MIC booklet.

Since then, questions have been asked as to why such a large sum was given to a small branch instead of the state committee to be distributed to all the clubs in the state.

This prompted the state Bell Club to call for an emergency meeting, its president G. Ganesh said.

“We view this matter seriously and want the branch chairman to explain as there are many rumours circulating.”

Ganesh said it was wrong to use the club’s accounts to get money and then use it for other purposes.

“We also do not know how they got such a huge allocation or who helped to source for the cash.”

Asked whether action would be taken against the chairman, Ganesh said they first had to decide whether to refer him to the disciplinary committee.

As for previous allocations from the Government, he said Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman had given RM150,000 to the state Bell Club to pay off a bank loan for a building in Kluang last year.

“That was the only allocation we received from the state government,” he said, adding that presently there were about 26 active Bell clubs with about 5,000 members state-wide.

Church gets approval after 20 years!

August 24th, 2010
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to by Email

Nope, this is not a movie or story in Talibanesque settings. It right here in our own Bolehland, errr, TakBolehland in this case.  I guess the RM200k donation will go a small way to alleviate the misery of those rakyat.

Maybe PERKOSA can highlight to us how this delay is justifiable or tramples on those rights they always talk about. Maybe they didn’t get any contract from this?

Just reading this article shows you the gap between ideal and reality. And we are expected to be thankful and grateful???

It remains one of the non-Muslims’ gravamina that they find it increasingly difficult to build their places of worship. But recently, the Johor state government not only approved the building of a church, it also contributed RM200,000 to its construction.

ON Aug 1, the congregation of my church, the Holy Light Church (English), Johor Baru (HLCE), was elated to learn at a special fund-raising service that Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman had granted a sum of RM200,000 towards the construction of our first church building.

A member of the congregation, Suzie Teo, who shed tears of joy upon hearing the announcement, said: “We are overwhelmed by the Mentri Besar’s kind gesture. What was initially a pipe dream is now a dream come true.

“I am so touched to learn that after waiting for 20 years, the Johor state government has not only approved our application but has also decided to partially contribute towards the construction cost of RM3mil.”

Indeed, the Mentri Besar’s thoughtful gesture in our time of need, which is not given at election time, will go a long way to assure the HLCE congregation that the state government is not just a government of one particular race or religion, but that of all Johoreans.

In fact, as we look back at the last 20 years, the entire journey is one of faith, which is obviously not suitable for the faint-hearted lacking any tenacity to persevere from the application stage to the final approval.

It was in September 1989 that HLCE acquired this piece of agricultural land in Pandan, next to the Ponderosa Golf Resort, measuring 8.925 acres. As the HLCE congregation has been worshipping on rented premises since 1952, it is hoped that a permanent place of worship would be erected on this land.

In 1991, the HLCE applied to the Johor state authority to convert the land use from “agriculture” to “religious use”, but this was turned down in 1993. In August 1993, the HLCE received notice that the land would be compulsorily acquired for a joint-venture project between a state agency and a private developer. The HLCE then filed a suit in 1995 against the state government challenging the validity of the acquisition. At this time, I had already moved from Kuala Lumpur and started worshipping at the HLCE.

When I brought to the attention of then Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that the land belonged to a church, Muhyiddin immediately instructed that the land acquisition be withdrawn. When Ghani became the Mentri Besar in 1995, he arranged for the withdrawal of the acquisition to be officially gazetted on Sept 3, 1996.

Being only too aware that it would be near impossible for the state authority to convert the land use to religious use over a piece of property measuring about nine acres, the HLCE then had it sub-divided equally into two plots.

Over the years, the HLCE applied for the two plots to be separately converted for institutional and religious purposes. In 2000, the state government approved the piece meant for institutional use. It was not until April 2008, and that also only after the personal intervention of Ghani, that the other piece was converted for religious use.

In June 2010 and early this month, the state security committee and the Johor Baru City Council respectively approved the building plans for the new church sanctuary. Piling work is expected to commence in October.

As shown above, the application and approval process for the erection of non-Muslim places of worship is most cumbersome. As it is almost unheard of that state governments would alienate lands for building non-Muslim places of worship, most lands involved are private lands. Hence, the necessity of having first to convert the land use to religious use before a place of worship can be erected thereon.

Only after the land conversion is approved can one submit the building plan for approval by the local authority. It must be emphasised that when applying for both the land conversion and building plan approvals, the entire approval process is repeated in that the approvals of the district and state security committees are mandatory for both stages. It is also open knowledge that representatives from the Islamic Affairs Department would sit in these committees.

It follows that it is not unusual to take at least five to 10 years from the time the application is submitted until the project finally comes to fruition. Perhaps what creates the most resentment among non-Muslims is the fact that the erection of their places of worship is treated as a security threat.

In the last general election and even today, it remains one of the non-Muslims’ gravamina that they find it increasingly difficult to build their places of worship. They are upset that the approving authorities have scant regard to Articles 3 and 11(3) of the Federal Constitution which guarantee them the right to profess and practise their religions as well as to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes.

In the case of the HLCE, it had to seek the assistance of various high-ranking government officials and politicians in the last 20 years. While I find them most understanding and helpful, the same cannot be said of the junior and local government officers. As the civil service is almost mono-religious and often devoid of multi-religious sensitisation, it is understandable if they feel that it is against their religion to support the erection of other places of worship.

So when applications are so frequently turned down and approvals are so difficult to obtain, it is axiomatic that the only human reaction is, of course, to convert, albeit illegally, houses, shoplots and commercial premises into worship places.

In the true spirit of the Federal Constitu tion, I wish to reiterate my calls made over the years on the need to establish a non-Muslim Affairs Committee/Department in each state to deal with all matters relating to non-Muslim places of worship.

I understand this has been done in Selangor and Penang. In fact, it was reported that since Pakatan Rakyat took over Selangor, the state government has approved 86 non-Muslim places of worship, comprising 42 Hindu temples, 26 Chinese temples, 13 churches and five gurdwaras.

So if the Barisan state governments want to capture the hearts and minds of non-Muslims, this is one area of contentment which needs their serious and immediate attention.

As a start, the federal government should ensure that any guidelines on non-Muslim places of worship imposed by the National Council for Local Government under Article 95A of the Federal Constitution are adhered to and implemented properly by the respective state governments and local authorities.

There should be relaxation with regard to limitations placed on size, height, length and width of all places of worship, regardless of the religion.

In my opinion, we should also not have too wide a buffer zone between two different places of worship if we want to encourage tolerance and understanding in our multi-racial and multi-religious society, particularly among our young people.

At state level, the state governments should allocate sufficient development funds and ensure that it is built into the structure/local plans and planning approvals requiring developers to set aside ample lands for the erection of places of worship in new housing townships.

If I am not mistaken, the current permitted ratio for the number of non-Muslim places of worship in a housing development is one house of worship for every 2,600 followers of that faith.

This formula should be reviewed because it is neither equitable nor constitutional as it ought to be needs-based, that is, according to the needs of each religious community in that area.

One must also take into account that unlike the Muslims who are homogeneous, followers of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Christianity are not, and within them, there are different sectors and denominations.

In this regard, I am confident that many of our Muslim brethren are sympathetic to the predicament faced by non-Muslims. It is hoped that those in high places will appreciate that withholding and delaying the approval for the erection of non-Muslim places of worship is both unjust and unconscionable.

In fact, all religions teach their followers to be good. It is, therefore, in the national interest to have a society which is religious as this will in turn bring about a healthy nation imbued with the highest moral and ethical standards.

A fortiori, at this Internet age, having a religious society founded on strong spiritual values is the elixir to corruption of morality and mores among our young people.

As a matter of record, it will not be complete without my expressing on behalf of the HLCE congregation our gratitude to Ghani for the financial grant and his kind assistance. Thank God too, for a moment, I thought our church building would not even materialise during my lifetime!

> The writer is a senior lawyer. He can be contacted at Twitter@rogertankm or www.roger

Temple relocation hampering school construction

January 28th, 2010
|  Subscribe in a reader | Subscribe to by Email

This should be a simple process. Since its for a good cause, the temple authorities should accept the proposal by the developer if the terms like land, relocation cost, building costs etc are acceptable. I assume the temple was there before the land was allocated to the school construction.  So what is the problem until can’t solve this issue since 2004? Is the suggested land near sewerage area or too small? Relocation cost not enough?

Hopefully the problem will be solved soon.

The state Education Department has called for cooperation from political parties and local Indian community to expedite the relocation of an illegally-built Hindu temple to allow the completion of a secondary school in Johor Bahru.

Its deputy director Markom Giran said the school SMK) Nusa Damai was now almost 100 completed except for the school field due to the presence of the temple.

“All infrastructures including classroom blocks and hostels have been completed but due to the presence of the temple, the contractor is unable to complete the school field, which is the last infrastructure to be built before the school can be handed over to the department,” he told Bernama.

He said that the negotiation to relocate the temple started in 2004 but there were no solutions yet.

Markom said he was made to understand that housing developer Nusa Damai had offered an alternative site for the temple not far from the existing one.

He hoped that the issue could be resolved soon as the school could help solve congestions in schools nearby such as Sekolah Menengah Kota Masai and Sm Taman Cendana which had 3,200 students and 2,800 students respectively.

“When SMK Nusa Damai is opened, 600 students from SM Kota Masai and between 300 and 600 students of SM Taman Cendana will be
transferred to the new school, thus easing congestion in the two schools,” he said.

He added that SMK Nusa Damai would have the capacity of 1,600 students while the hostels would be able to house 200 students.

“We hope the issue can be resolved amicably as soon as possible,” he said.