Ancient road, timeless trip

Ancient road, timeless trip

Published: June 10, 2007

International Herald Tribune


Jehad Nga for The New York Times
The main mosque in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan.

The Silk Road is the popular name for a system of caravan trade routes that dates back more than 2,000 years, an important economic artery that stretched roughly 7,000 miles, from the Mediterranean to China’s Yellow River Valley. Earlier this year, the photographer Jehad Nga, on assignment for the Travel section, spent three weeks retracing part of the historic route in central Asia, driving from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Conditions were at times onerous, ranging from oppressive desertlike heat in Uzbekistan to a blizzard in Tajikistan that made that country’s already treacherous roads nearly impossible to navigate. But it was also a journey of discovery: of encountering Kyrgyz sheepherders living in bare-existence yurts set in the vast wilderness; of witnessing an Uzbek bride’s joyful preparation for her wedding; of shopping in the historic central bazaar of Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

“There were moments when I felt further from the rest of the world than I ever have before,” Nga recalls. “It was a feeling of only more nothingness beyond each horizon.”


Anwar says he would be a much better PM than Abdullah or Mahathir

Malaysia’s Anwar says he would be a much better PM than Abdullah or Mahathir

The Associated Press in the

International Herald Tribune

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim said for the first time he would likely become prime minister if his coalition takes power, and vowed to clean up Malaysia’s corruption and halt its colonial-era jailing of suspects without trial.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Anwar said he was in no hurry to take control of government despite his opposition alliance’s spectacular gains in elections in March.

But when he was asked whether he would take the job of prime minister if his People’s Alliance were to come to power, he said, “There is a likelihood.”

Political commentators and aides have often talked about Anwar’s prime ministerial ambitions, but this was the first time he spoke in depth about how he would handle the top job.

He said he would be a better prime minister than current leader Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad.

“Well, I wouldn’t detain people without trial,” Anwar said, referring to a colonial-era law that allows for indefinite detention without charges. The law often was used by Mahathir, and Abdullah has exercised it a few times.

“I will check corruption for sure,” Anwar said. “With the little experience I have (in the government), I believe I can do much better, but it is for people to judge. But first I have to be there to consider the question relevant.”

Anwar was Mahathir’s finance minister and deputy prime minister, and was once considered Mahathir’s likely successor. But Mahathir sacked him in 1998 during a power struggle, accusing him of corruption and homosexuality.

Anwar was sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges of sodomy and abuse of power. He was freed in September 2004 after the sodomy charge was overturned. But the corruption sentence stood.

Although Anwar always maintained the charges were trumped up, he was written off as a political relic because of the allegations.

But he returned to Malaysian politics with a bang last year, stitching together an unlikely alliance made up of his multiracial People’s Justice Party, the left-leaning Democratic Action Party and the religious-based Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.

The rare opposition unity presented a formidable electoral challenge to the ruling National Front coalition, which is dominated by Abdullah’s United Malays National Organization party.

The National Front lost its traditional two-thirds majority for the first time in 40 years, while the opposition boosted its strength to 82 seats from 19 seats in the 222-member Parliament. The opposition is now just 30 seats short of a simple majority, something Anwar says is within reach because of expected defections from the National Front.

“We already have the numbers,” he said.

But rather than taking down the government now with a wafer-thin majority over the National Front, Anwar said the opposition is waiting for “a comfortable majority.”

Anwar said when the opposition comes to power it would provide a much better government than the National Front.

“It is not very difficult to be a better government, to control corruption, to be more just, to improve the quality of education, public health, to stop the squandering of billions of dollars on your family members and cronies. That is quite easy,” he said

“The more challenging task is to change the course” of the country, he said, listing economic competitiveness, promoting a market economy, social justice and training of manpower as the main tasks.

“We are not here to improve. We are here to change for the better,” he said.

Since the election blow, Abdullah has been facing calls from many in his party to step down immediately. Abdullah has said he will announce a succession plan only after December.

Anwar said the postelection turmoil in the National Front was benefiting the opposition.

“Either way, it is good for us,” he said. If Abdullah is ousted, “it will break UMNO. If Abdullah continues, it is also good for us because he is weak.”

Will BN or PR reform the civil service?

Will BN or PR reform the civil service?

Excerpts from Malaysiakini’s letter by the Concerned Citizen For Reform

Our country seems to have advanced technologically but the mentality of our civil service is still undeveloped. Correct.

Instead of being the people’s servant and being polite when serving the people, they are the ones who start to order the public around failing which the very needs of the public they serve will not be met.

This is also part of the cause for corruption as people who require fast service can’t stand the slowness and inaction on the part of the civil service. Correct, Correct, Correct.

There is an urgent need for a government which can reform our civil service and start to get them to work for the people and not the other way around.

The type of civil service that we have now is one that dumps their service onto the people. The top priority for reform will be the police force. Perhaps the Pakatan Rakyat will be the government that reforms our civil service.

DSAI would become PM before this Christmas

DSAI would become PM before this Christmas

Malaysiakini (AFP), “I’ll be PM in three years”, says Anwar

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today confidently predicted he would be prime minister within three years, sketching out the first rough timetable for his dramatic political comeback.

“I don’t think we have established a definite clear time-frame when I will take over (as prime minister) but it certainly wouldn’t reach three years … much earlier than that,” the former deputy premier told AFP.

“(But) I am not in a rush,” he added.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408Anwar, heir-apparent to long-time former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad before being sacked and jailed a decade ago, has emerged as a serious threat to the ruling coalition after the opposition’s strong showing in parliamentary polls.

He became free to run for office again last week, when a five-year ban stemming from his corruption conviction expired, and claims he has the support of enough defectors to topple the government.

The Barisan Nasional coalition has ruled Malaysia for more than half-a-century since the former colony gained independence from Britain but has been rocked by its unprecedented electoral setback in March.

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance claimed more than a third of parliamentary seats and five states in the polls, putting Mahathir’s successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, under heavy pressure.

Anwar, 60, pledged more effective governance and to wipe out corruption and promote racial equality, addressing some of the public’s major concerns.

“Our reform programme will certainly be more secure. We will push for a market economy, judicial independence and equality for all Malaysians,” he said.

Ready to cross-over

Anwar also repeated his claim that lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak states had indicated interest in defecting from the ruling coalition to the opposition. He spoke to AFP at Kuala Lumpur airport on his way to Sabah.

“Lawmakers in the two states in Borneo island have approached me about switching sides, but so far none has declared their intentions publicly,” he said.

Analysts have backed Anwar’s statement he has enough support to rule, saying turmoil in the ruling coalition could hasten an exodus of lawmakers and propel him to power.

Prime Minister Abdullah is facing growing demands to quit, but has defiantly claimed a mandate to rule and refused to discuss a succession plan.

Anwar had previously been expected to re-enter parliament quickly through a by-election in one of the seats held by his PKR party, but says he is in no hurry to act and will instead focus on building up the opposition.

Some 20,000 supporters attended Anwar’s rally last week. The opposition leader was released in 2004 after spending six years in jail.


UPDATE: Dear readers, I had changed the real heading in the various reports esp the AFP’s THREE YEARS to _DSAI would become PM before this Christmas.

This morning I read the news in Star Online_

Thursday April 24, 2008, by By MUGUNTAN VANAR

Anwar: We have the numbers,

however, we’re in no rush to replace Barisan

KOTA KINABALU: The Opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat is in a position to form the federal government and it will be done no later than Malaysia Day which falls on Sept 16, claimed Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Repeating that they have the numbers and were in no rush to replace Barisan Nasional, the former deputy prime minister said yesterday that it would all be in the timing of the announcement.

“God willing, we will be there.

  • If not next month,
  • the following month,
  • then if not June
  • or July, (it will be) on Merdeka (Aug 31)
  • or Malaysia Day.
  • I think we should not go beyond that,”

he told reporters on arrival in Sabah.

As to when exactly the announcement will be made, Anwar said discussions with the Pakatan parties were needed because Umno and Barisan were known to be rough on those intending to move.

“They are using threats and intimidation. I am for example being monitored more closely now,” said Anwar, adding that he would not be discussing with the Barisan MPs interested to move while he was in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said he has his way of discussing with Barisan MPs who have given their commitment to team up with Pakatan.

“My discussions could be done in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong although it might sound like a joke,” added Anwar, who thanked the Barisan MPs for their commitment to cross over. He said Pakatan was ready to take in political parties from Barisan if they subscribed to the Opposition coalition agenda for the country.

On Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman’s claim that all state leaders were loyal to Barisan, Anwar said: “He (Musa) must know that he does not have all the members he claims to hold now. If he wants to know, I can meet him privately and tell him.”

He said Sabah and Sarawak MPs were keeping the Barisan afloat but were saddened that they were not given due recognition by Umno, which was dictating terms from Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar said he was not making offers of any monetary kind or of personal positions for anyone crossing over as claimed by Barisan but was here to assure PKR’s commitment to Sabahans in addressing issues ranging from higher royalty to problems of illegal immigrants.

Anwar later spoke to a gathering at a ceramah held at the Hongkod Koissan cultural hall here and is scheduled to fly to Sarawak today.


Detained Myanmar Asylum seekers riots because of injustices

Detained Myanmar Asylum seekers riots

because of injustices

Briefly on the Lenggeng detention center riots (see latest Malaysiakini article). I’ve personally been to these detention centers and can tell you that living there will drive anyone mad. Compound that with the fact that human beings, with lives, families and dignity of their own, are detained there indefinitely.

What this means is that for all they know, detainees could be left to spend the rest of their lives in that shithole.

This is not just.

The detainees who rose up are said to be mostly Burmese. I’ve also personally interviewed a number of Burmese refugees, and have read a fair bit about the country. I’ve studied many horrible conflict zones in Africa, but I would still say that Burma is literally one of the worst places in the world to live.

We need a better solution to this problem. Yes, we cannot simply allow in a flood of refugees, but what we are doing now is inhumane, and not doing anything to change it will only come to cause even more longer term problems in Malaysia.


One Response to “Lenggeng Uprising”

  1. The government is led by people (Sorry, I changed because of fear) who were born with silver spoons in their mouth (and up their ass). They cannot for a moment emphatise with the poor, be they local or foreign, even if they are of the same race (No, No, No, they care about same race: see Indonesians, Malay Thai, Malay Cambodia, Malay Burmese, Malay Philipino and Malay Viet Nam) they profess to ‘champion’. Other Non Malay Muslims from Myanmar are ignored.

    This is why they rather build the worlds tallest buildings (for their future office), send a UMNOputra to space (solely for the right to brag to the world about it) or jump from aeroplanes over the south pole than give the money to the poor (eg through decent wages).

    They tell the poor to ‘tighten their belts’ while they eat to their hearts content in 5-star hotels all over the world.

  2. Malaysians who believe in God should never support such evil people by voying them into the government.

Lenggeng riot: ‘A disaster waiting to happen’

Malaysiakini Fauwaz Abdul Aziz

It was only a matter of time before trouble broke out at the 14 immigration detention centres taken over earlier this year by voluntary corps Rela – as the Lenggeng incident in Negri Sembilan has proved.
alex ong“We anticipated it to happen sooner or later. Lenggeng is only the beginning of worse things to come,” said Migrant Care coordinator Alex Ong when contacted yesterday.

Ong was commenting on the riot on Monday in which about 60 Burmese detainees reportedly tried to pull down the perimeter fence and afterwards torched an administration building.

More than 100 Rela members, riot police, civil defence department and fire and rescue service personnel had to be called in to contain the riot.

According to state police chief Osman Salleh, the detainees had vented their anger against the authorities after their application for resettlement to a third country had been denied. (Need to PUNISH HIM if he he had mislead the authorities to cover the crimes or atrocities of RELA members)

lenggeng detention camp myanmar burmese detainees incarcerated 220408Ong, however, questioned this version of the story and said the more likely reasons involve the poor living conditions and treatment that migrants receive in such detention centres.   

Many human rights and migrant groups have long decried the harsh treatment, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate food and medical facilities.

Since Jan 15 when Rela took over the running of Lenggeng from the prison department, the plight of those detained has gotten from bad to worse, Ong claimed.

“We have always opposed Rela taking over because we expected the move to be accompanied by complaints of more human rights abuses and abusive treatment,” he said.

Rela is already saddled with a poor track record in relation to treatment of migrants, given its previous role in rounding up undocumented foreigners in Malaysia and the number of complaints this attracted.

‘Detainee beaten’

Lending strength to Ong’s contention that the riot was not over the issue of resettlement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that no refugees in Lenggeng have been told that their resettlement request had been denied.

“Our records indicate that their cases are still being actively processed by our office,” said spokesperson Yante Ismail when contacted.

There are 75 refugees and asylum-seekers known to UNHCR in Lenggeng, of whom seven are non-Burmese and 68 are mostly Chin Burmese. It is still unclear whether and how many of these were involved in the riot, said Yante.

rela 290507 women being checkedAll-Burma Democratic Force vice-chairperson Mohammad Sadek pointed out that it is not usually the Chin – who are predominantly Christian – whose applications for resettlement in Western countries are denied. This is also UN AGENCY SHAMELESSLY practicing discriminations against Muslims.

“It is the Burmese Rohingyas who have complained that their applications for resettlement have been turned down,” said Mohammad.

A social worker who had visited the centre a few weeks ago said a day-long hunger strike had been held on April 3 by a large number of refugees, to protest the severe beating of a Burmese detainee by Rela officers.

“It took a senior immigration officer to come to the detention centre to persuade them to call off their hunger strike,” said the worker, who declined to be identified.

(Please investigate and PUNISH THE CRIMINAL RELA. DON”T COVER UP RELA DG. Your Cabinet and HM could protect you here but ALLAH would severely punish all of you.

And what do you investigate about Rohingya family’s (involed in Myanmar Embassy protest) complaint to the “JUDGE” about torture or beatings by POLICE? We need to wait till JUDGEMENT day of ALLAH?

“I think things only got worse after that, which is why the riot happened.”

Osman said 14 foreigners – six Burmese, six Indonesians, one Vietnamese and one Cambodian – have been called in for questioning over the riot.  

He said they were arrested under Sections 148 (possession of dangerous weapons) and 438 (committing mischief by fire or use of explosive substance) of the Penal Code.


Lenggeng detainees in a state of tension

Malaysiakini, Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | Apr 24, 08 2:15pm

Overcrowding in the Lenggeng immigration depot – scene of a riot last weekend – is causing the foreign detainees held there to be in a ‘state of tension’, said Suhakam commissioner N Sivasubramaniam today.

suhakam lenggeng camp visit 240408 03At the time of the riot, the facility was bursting at its seams with 1,090 detainees from 14 countries and suffered from chronic disruptions of water supply – two to three times a month – each disruption lasting for up to three days.

The human rights commissioner came to these preliminary findings following a visit to the detention centre this morning.

The riot occurred last Sunday in which about 60 detainees reportedly tried to pull down the perimeter fence and afterwards torched an administration building.

“Too many detainees, their accommodation, their food, management of these detainees, water supply. These are the root issues,” Siva told a press conference at the depot after the visit.

Inexperienced personnel

Citing newspaper reports, Siva conceded that a number of the 17 depots, including Lenggeng, were veritable ‘time bombs’.

On the dire lack of personnel to manage and guard the facility, Siva said out of a total of 208 positions that are supposed to be filled by Immigration Department personnel, only 40 posts have been taken.

lenggeng detention camp myanmar burmese detainees incarcerated 220408Of these, many of them were fresh from their recruitment interviews, he said.

“They recently came from their (respective) villages or city homes and posted here, without enough training to manage certain situations (when they arise),” said Siva.

While the detainees did indeed hold a hunger strike on April 3, Siva said Suhakam has yet to be presented with evidence of any physical abuse of the detainees by voluntary law enforcement corps Rela personnel who are guarding the depot.

“There was a hunger strike, (but it was) generally because of their living conditions,” he said.

“At this time, there is no evidence (of beatings). But if we can be given evidence, we will investigate,” he said.

He also said there was no evidence to suggest any such beatings led to Sunday’s riot.

“We don’t want to make assumptions about this case because it is currently being investigated by the police,” he added.

suhakam lenggeng camp visit 240408 04(Siva later told Malaysiakini that Suhakam was “taking the claim (of assaults) seriously” and called for any parties with information on the matter to come forward.)

He noted, however, that there was a lot of “suspicions” on the part of the detainees towards Rela personnel guarding the depot because the former felt the Rela guards were “the same people who caught them in the first place”.

“Rela personnel are good intentioned when carrying out their tasks. It is the perception towards them (that needs to be redressed),” he said.

Make drastic changes

Since the riot, said Siva, the authorities have moved the male detainees to several other depots and this has alleviated the immediate stresses on the facility.

The incident, nevertheless, accords the opportunity for all quarters responsible to come together to address the overall issues and problems that have plagued immigration depots, he said.

suhakam lenggeng camp visit 240408 01“We can only overcome this situation by getting assistance and support from all parties involved. This is incident opportunity to make drastic changes,” said Siva.

For this purpose, Suhakam hopes to have a roundtable discussion with representatives from the Home Ministry, Rela, Immigration Department as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Negeri Sembilan police had earlier suggested that among the reasons for Monday’s riot was that the detainees were angry at the authorities after their application for resettlement to a third country had been denied.

Met after the press conference, depot commandant Abdul Aziz Mansur denied the detainees are violently treated by either Rela personnel or immigration officers.

RELA thugs to run detention centres