Malaysia and Gitmo

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So brand-spanking new U.S. President Mr. Barack Obama wasted no time in ordering the controversial Guantanamo Bay to be closed within a year.

Malaysia quickly made its views known. Prime minister Mr. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that Malaysia two of its citizens detained in Gitmo to be returned to Malaysia. The New Straits Times reported:

PM wants two Guantanamo inmates to be tried here

THE two Malaysian prisoners held at the Guatanamo military prison should be released to the Malaysian government so that they can stand trial in the country, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday.

The prime minister said the authorities would contact the US government for more information on Mohd Farik Amin or Zaid (Zubair) and Mohamed Nazir Lep or Bashir Lep (Lillie), who have been detained there since 2003 for suspected links with terrorist groups Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda.

“We would like them to be deported and tried accordingly (in Malaysia). If they are found guilty, they will continue to serve their jail sentences in Malaysia,” he told Malaysian journalists here on Friday night.

He flew to Kuala Lumpur yesterday at the end of a six-day working visit to strengthen bilateral ties with Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The prison had been ordered to close within a year by newly-elected US President Barack Obama.

Some 250 inmates accused of links to terrorism are being held there with 21 cases pending in court.

Abdullah welcomed the US move to close the controversial military prison, adding that it was the beginning of change under the Obama administration.

“It looks like the US president is keeping his word and that’s a good start. We hope to see many more changes in the US administration.”

The two Malaysians were detained by the Bush administration, which claimed that they were suicide operatives for an al-Qaeda “second wave” attack targeting Los Angeles.

According to Reuters, a draft issued by the Obama administration said that anyone still in detention at Guatanamo after its closure would be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country or transferred to another US detention facility.

On Thursday, Obama made good his promise to close down the prison and to halt harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects.

It would, however, be a long and complicated process to determine the fate of the inmates, many of whom have been held for years without trial.

US judges had suspended several of the military trials of terror suspects at the prison following Obama’s executive order.

The military prison was established at a US naval base in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the US

I find our ‘official’ stance on Gitmo as highly hypocritical. Really, there isn’t much difference between Gitmo and Kamunting. We cannot condemn one while upholding the other.

When Mr. Abdullah said that he wants the Malaysians to be returned to Malaysia to be tried here, I wonder if he means that the two suspects will be re-arrested under the ISA. After all, many who are suspected to be involved with Jemaah Islamiah are still languishing in Kamunting, without any possibility of having a fair trial in a court of law. If that be the case, it’s just a matter of substituting one detention centre and replacing it with another.

Oh and the same matter, today’s the Star had this ‘gem’ from our beloved Home Minister, Mr. Syed Hamid Albar:

On a separate matter, Syed Hamid said the American-run Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba should not be compared to the Kamunting detention camp for Internal Security Act detainees.

Unlike Kamunting, he said Guantanamo Bay was located on an island.

Yes, according to him, Gitmo and Kamunting are different because the former is located on an island.


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Racist: Ahmad Ismail, UMNO Division Chief, part II


Latest developments on Mr. Ahmad Ismail, the UMNO division chief who allegedly uttered racist remarks during the Permatang Pauh by-election. From the Star:

UMNO apologizes for racist remarks

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional government, has issued a public apology over a remark made by Bukit Bendera Umno division head Datuk Ahmad Ismail during the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election last month.

“We hope that the non-Malays will not be too disturbed with the statement and we apologise if it has incurred the sensitivities or unhappiness over the statement.

“We apologise, Umno apologises although it is not our statement but it is a statement made by one of our division leaders. It is totally unwarranted and does not reflect the position and the attitude of Umno or the leadership of Umno. We regret it very much,” Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also Umno deputy president, said here on Tuesday.

In the run-up to the Permatang Pauh by-election, Ahmad had said at a ceramah that the Chinese community were mere “immigrants” in the country and thus were not entitled to be given equal rights in Malaysia.

Speaking to reporters after launching the Chery Multi Purpose Vehicle here, Najib said the Umno supreme council would also decide at its next meeting on the “appropriate action” to be taken against the division leader.

“The statement is his personal statement and is not the stand of Umno and the Government. We do not regard Malaysian citizens of Chinese, Indian or other descent as ‘passengers’.

“They are Malaysian citizens who have full rights and we will definitely safeguard their interests and their dignity and I describe the statement as something that Umno and the Government very much regret,” he said. – Bernama

It’s good that Mr. Najib has apologized on behalf of Mr. Ahmad, although I must say it is only after increasing pressure from various parties. Yet, Mr. Najib must realize that we don’t want merely an apology, but demand stern action to be taken on Mr. Ahmad for his remarks.

We also demand the police to look into the matter. Enough of double standards, Mr. Ahmad’s comments must be investigated!

No room for racists in our new Malaysia!

Racist: Ahmad Ismail, UMNO division chief


Tengku Razaleigh hit the nail on the head with his statement last week; that UMNO is now perceived as a rascist party.

UMNO leaders should not surprised by this perception, when its members make racist statements in public. Most recently, Bukit Bendera UMNO chief Mr. Ahmad Ismail, who allegedly called the Chinese community as pendatang, or immigrants.

And what was UMNO’s response to this alleged racist remark? Here’s from UMNO President, BN Chairman and our prime minister, Mr. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, taken from the Star:

Ahmad didn’t mean it, says Abdullah

KEPALA BATAS: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will personally see to it that Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail does not repeat his remarks about the Chinese community.

“I will tell him not to do it again. You know in a campaign all sorts of things can come up. I don’t think he meant it. I’ll make sure to tell him not to use it again,” the Prime Minister said after chairing the Bertam Umno division meeting yesterday.

Ahmad had allegedly called the Chinese pendatang (immigrants) and was also reported to have said that “as the Chinese were only immigrants it was impossible to achieve equal rights amongst races” during a ceramah in Permatang Pauh in Aug 25.

He had allegedly uttered the remarks in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Penang Gerakan Youth committee member Dr Thor Teong Gee lambasted Ahmad and charged that Umno was still using racial ideology to achieve its own personal political agenda.

Bukit Mertajam MCA division chairman Lau Chiek Tuan called for disciplinary action against Ahmad.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik also called on Ahmad to immediately retract his statement and apologise to the community.

Ahmad could not be reached for comment.

Tanjung Gerakan Youth division chief H’ng Khoon Leng lodged a police report at the district police headquarters in Patani Road over Ahmad’s alleged remarks.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said there was no reason for Ahmad to stir racial feelings with his remarks.

“This is the Merdeka month and such a racist remark should not have been made,” he added.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Umno leaders should stop using racial sentiment to seek support from the people.

That’s no punishment. It’s not even a slap on the wrist. In fact, I’d daresay that it’s not even acknowledging that Mr. Ahmad had done something wrong. ‘He will be told not to repeat it again’? ‘He didn’t mean it’? I’m sorry Mr. Prime Minister, that’s just not good enough. If Mr. Ahmad really did utter those words, then we DEMAND that he be punished! No wonder the other component parties are not happy.

Taken from Malaysiakini:

Gerakan mahu Ahmad dikenakan tindakan

Gerakan, parti komponen Barisan  Nasional (BN), hari ini mahu tindakan diambil ke atas Ketua Umno bahagian Bukit Bendera Datuk Ahmad Ismail berhubung kenyataannya yang bersifat hasutan terhadap masyarakat Cina.

Semasa satu ceramah di Permatang Pauh pada 25 Ogos lepas, Ahmad didakwa mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa mereka hanyalah penduduk sementara di negara ini dan oleh itu adalah mustahil untuk mendapat hak yang sama di negara ini.

Setiausaha Agung Gerakan Datuk seri Chia Kwang Chye berkata ramai rakyat Malaysia kecewa dengan kenyataan Perdana Menteri dan Presiden Umno Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi apabila mengulas mengenai kenyataan Datuk Ahmad Ismail.

“Mereka menjangka satu kecaman yang kuat, terutama pada 31 Ogos, hari di mana semua rakyat Malaysia menyambut ulang tahun kemerdekaan negara.

“Selepas 51 tahun mencapai kemerdekaan, sebarang kesangsian mengenai kesetiaan mana-mana penduduk etnik Malaysia dan tindakan mempersoal kewarganegaraan adalah melampaui usaha menyemai persefahaman di kalangan rakyat Malaysia,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan, demikian menurut laporan Bernama.

Menjelang hari pengundian bagi pilihanraya kecil Parlimen Permatang Pauh minggu lalu, Ahmad didakwa membuat kenyataan itu dan semalam, ketika mengulas mengenai perkara itu Abdullah berkata beliau akan “memberitahu Ahmad jangan mengulangi lagi perkara itu.”

“Anda tahu semasa berkempen pelbagai perkara boleh timbul. Saya tidak fikir beliau bermaksud sedemikian. Saya akan pastikan untuk memberitahu dia jangan gunakan perkataan itu lagi,” kata Abdullah semalam.

Chia berkata kenyataan Ahmad sudah lapuk dan menimbulkan provokasi  perkauman sambil menambah sebarang petanda bahawa BN bertolak ansur dengan mereka yang jelas bersikap perkauman dan mengeluarkan pendapat yang bersifat provokasi akan memberi isyarat yang salah kepada rakyat.

“Ahmad Ismail bukan sahaja patut menarik balik apa yang diucapkannya tetapi perlu meminta maaf kepada semua rakyat Malaysia dan juga dikenakan tindakan disiplin bagi mengelak perkara itu daripada berulang,” katanya.

Sementara itu, Naib Presiden Gerakan Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan dalam satu kenyataannya mendesak pimpinan Umno dan BN untuk mengkaji semula pendirian terhadap Ahmad.

Beliau meminta polis menyiasat perkara itu memandangkan MCA dan Gerakan telahpun membuat laporan terhadap Ahmad.

Somehow, I don’t think the police will do anything against Mr. Ahmad. Heck, I don’t even think they’ll investigate the matter. I mean, it is after all an UMNO division chief who said those remarks, not Mr. Karpal Singh or Mr. Lim Guan Eng or even Mr. Khalid Ibrahim. We’ve got two different sets of rules, don’t you know?

As long as UMNO keeps spewing these racist rhetoric, as longs as it keep hurting the feelings of other races, then the support it lost from both Malays and non-Malays will return. UMNO’s humiliating loss in Permatang Pauh shoud be a lesson to it that playing the race card will not work on the majority of Malaysians. However, it does not seem that UMNO has learnt its lesson.

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