UN suspends aid flights to Myanmar

UN suspends aid flights to Myanmar

Aileen McCabe – Asia Correspondent ,  Canwest News Service

Published: Friday, May 09, 2008

BANGKOK – The United Nations suspended aid flights to Myanmar on Friday after the military government imposed “unacceptable” restrictions on relief efforts for 1.5 million victim cyclone victims.
The junta seized two aid deliveries at Yangon airport, apparently determined to distribute supplies on its own.

The shipments of 38 tonnes of high-energy biscuits – enough to feed 95,000 people – were to be trucked to the Irrawaddy delta where most of the victims of the devastating cyclone need help.

“We’re going to have to shut down our very small airlift operation until we get guarantees from the authorities that we’ll be able to have the food when it arrives,” UN World Food Program regional director Tony Banbury told CNN.

Workers and soldiers unload relief goods sent by Japan, meant for survivors of Cyclone Nargis, at an airport in Yangon in this May 7, 2008.

Workers and soldiers unload relief goods sent by Japan, meant for survivors of Cyclone Nargis, at an airport in Yangon in this May 7, 2008.

“I am furious. It is unacceptable.”

The UN’s move came after the juntas said it will accept international aid, but not foreign aid workers.
Its position is “unprecedented in the modern humanitarian relief effort,” according to the United Nations.

The state-controlled New Light of Myanmar newspaper published a statement from the Foreign Ministry saying: “Currently Myanmar has prioritized receiving relief provisions and making strenuous effort delivering it with its own labour.”

It said the government was grateful for the foreign aid that has arrived, but it underlined the best way for the foreign community to help is to send food, water and supplies, not expert emergency teams.

That message was reinforced by pictures on national television of soldiers distributing aid and helping care for the injured at a clinic.

A disaster relief team from Qatar that arrived on an aid flight Thursday was refused permission to stay.
The prime minister of Thailand cancelled a planned trip to Myanmar this weekend.

“After they said today they would not welcome foreign staff, there is no point of me going there,” said Samak Sundaravej who had been urged by the United States and Britain to try and open the doors.
Intense international criticism after the brutal crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations led by Buddhist monks last fall went totally unheeded.

So far, 11 plane loads and two boat loads of supplies have arrived in Myanmar, sent by the United Nations, the Red Cross, Thailand, India and China. But it is nowhere near enough to deal with the 1.5 million people the UN now estimate are “severely affected,” many of whom have been without safe drinking water and food since Cyclone Nargis cut a path of destruction through the southeast Asian country last weekend. Indeed, the UN says help has reached only about 276,000 people so far.

Nearly $40 million US_in aid, including $2 million from Canada, has been pledged worldwide to help deal with the crisis in Myanmar. But the regime’s intransigence means it is almost totally stalled. Some supplies are building up in warehouses around the region, waiting for clearance to be delivered.

Much more is on-hold until governments around the world are satisfied their donations will actually reach the needy, not line the coffers of the isolated regime that rules over them.

The government now estimates up to 23,000 were killed by winds gusting more than 200 km/h and the 3.5-metre wave that followed. But Shari Villarosa, the senior U.S. diplomat in Yangon, formerly Rangoon, says the number is likely closer to 100,000.

Noeleen Heyzer, the UN’s top official in the Asia Pacific, warned the junta Friday that time was running out for getting help to the people affected by the cyclone.

“The situation is getting critical and there is only a small window of opportunity if we are to avert the spread of diseases that could multiply the already tragic number of casualties,” she said.

Heyzer called on the generals to waive visa requirements for UN humanitarian workers “so that aid can reach the people as quickly as possible.”

Canada added its voice to calls for access and said it is ready to send the disaster assistance response team to help cope with the crisis. The advance team is on the way to the region now in hopes visas will soon become available.

“The window of opportunity to save lives and alleviate suffering is rapidly closing. We cannot afford to wait any longer,” Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said.

Paul Risley, from the World Food Progam, gave reporters an example of why outside experts are crucial in this kind of situation. He said that among the supplies that have been delivered to Myanmar so far, are six portable warehouses that can be used as food depots for the incoming aid. It usually takes trained technicians 12 hours to set one up, he said. The Myanmar military, doing it for the first time, will take “days” to assemble them, he predicted.

Meanwhile, some of the aid that has trickled into the country made it down to the Irrawaddy Delta on Friday. Known as the country’s rice bowl, the isolated area suffered the brunt of the cyclone and much of it is still under water.

The BBC, which is one of the few news organizations that has managed to get into Myanmar, reported that soldiers arrived in trucks and buses to distribute the first food to people who have been living in the rough for a full week.

It was not nearly enough, the BBC said, given the scale of destruction.

It also said fears of disease aggravating the situation are not unfounded and that dysentery already appears to be setting in among the survivors.

Despite the fact the country is in crisis, Myanmar’s generals are set to go ahead with a referendum Saturday on a new constitution, at least in areas untouched by Nargis. They claim the vote is a step towards democracy.

Experts say it is a sham.

One diplomat said privately that the regime feels more confident of victory now that a low turnout is almost guaranteed.

UN suspends aid flights to Myanmar

 Latest figures suggest that more than a million people are in need of aid [AFP]

The UN’s main humanitarian agency says that the Myanmar military government has seized all the food and equipment that the WFP had flown into country to assist the victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Paul Risley, a spokesman for the World Food Programme office in Bangkok, Thailand, said on Friday the WFP “has no choice” but to suspend further aid shipments until the matter is resolved.

“The food aid and equipment that we managed to get in has been confiscated,” he said.

The shipment included 38 tonnes of high-energy biscuits.


Risley said it is not clear why the material was taken. It is also not clear if the shipment seized was the one that was flown in on Thursday or another one.

Mounting frustration


Underscoring mounting frustration over the military government’s response to the cyclone crisis, Risley called Myanmar‘s refusal to grant visas to foreign aid teams “unprecedented in modern humanitarian relief efforts”.

He said the organisation had submitted applications for visas with Myanmar diplomatic missions around the world, but all had been caught up in paperwork.



Some relief supplies have been allowed to land in Myanmar, but many more tonnes of aid and dozens of expert foreign staff have not, leaving hundreds of thousands of survivors at risk of hunger and disease.


Al Jazeera’s correspondent, who is in the Irrawaddy delta, found 500 refugees crowded into a Catholic school, all of them with injuries sustained when the storm hit.


“Most of them arrived in the village naked, they had no food, they had no shelter,” she said.


“Now the church is relying on local people in the community to give rice, to give clean water, to give clothes to these people.”


Myanmar’s government has said the confirmed toll stands at 22,980 with more than 42,000 others missing.


The UN has estimated that more than a million people have been made homeless.


US ‘outraged’


On Thursday Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador at the UN, expressed outrage at Myanmar’s government for its foot-dragging on allowing in international relief teams in the wake of the Cyclone Nargis disaster.


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Khalilzad said in New York that the US was “outraged by the slowness of the response of the government of Burma to welcome and accept assistance”.


“It’s clear that the government’s ability to deal with the situation, which is catastrophic, is limited … and since it’s not able to you would expect the government to welcome assistance from others,” he said.


“We’re shocked by the behaviour of the government.”


Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has called on the ruling generals to postpone a referendum due on Saturday on the country’s constitution.


Myanmar’s military government indicated on Friday that while it wanted relief supplies, foreign aid personnel were not being called for.


A foreign ministry statement said the government had given priority to receiving aid from abroad but using its own nationals to deliver it to stricken areas.

The government turned back aid workers and media who arrived on a flight from Qatar carrying emergency supplies on Thursday because they had not been given permission to enter the country, the ministry said.


The threat of disease and starvation
looms large as aid is slow to arrive [AFP]



The government allowed in the first major international aid shipment on Thursday but turned away American aid.


Four WFP aircraft carrying high-energy biscuits, medicine and other supplies reached Yangon on Thursday, UN officials said.


Relief supplies from Myanmar’s neighbours China, India and Bangladesh have also landed.


However, two of four UN experts who flew in to assess the damage were turned back at the airport for unknown reasons, said John Holmes, the UN relief co-ordinator.



“I am disappointed that we have not had more results,” Holmes told reporters on Thursday.


“We need to continue to urge the government to co-operate,” he said.


‘Increasingly desperate’


Many residents remain without food and shelter, while corpses rotting in the flood waters are creating a health hazard.



Describing the situation in Myanmar as “increasingly desperate on the ground”, Holmes said Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief, was trying to talk to Than Shwe, Myanmar’s military leader, to urge him to “strongly to facilitate access” for foreign relief workers.


“They have opened up to some extent. They have not refused entry [to foreign aid workers]. But they have not facilitated entry… It is not as open as it should be,” he said.


But the UN official rejected criticism that he had not been more forceful in pressing Myanmar.


“I do not believe confrontation with the government is likely to result in more help” for the cyclone victims, Holmes said.


Holmes added that the authorities also agreed that customs charges and clearances should be waived for aid delivery, but said it was unclear if the policy had been implemented.


At least 40 visa applications from UN aid workers are pending and many others are waiting in Thailand to enter.




Among those stranded were 10 members of a USAID disaster response team.


Eric John, the US ambassador to Thailand, told reporters in Bangkok on Thursday that the US was “in a long line of nations who are ready, willing and able to help, but also, of course, in a long line of nations the Burmese don’t trust”.

“It’s more than frustrating. It’s a tragedy,” he said.


John said each day of delay meant “a lot more people suffering”.


 A US state department official earlier hinted that it was considering dropping food aid over parts of the disaster zones, without Myanmar’s approval.


But the Pentagon said it would not consider such a move without the Myanmar government’s permission.


Aside from violating Myanmar’s airspace, the US authorities worry that such an unauthorised operation might fail to deliver the airdropped supplies to those most in need.



Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said the US needed permission from the government but US air force transport aircraft packed with supplies and US navy ships in the area are all ready to enter if permission is granted.


With the Irrawaddy delta’s roads washed out and the infrastructure in shambles, large areas are accessible only by air.


Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia, said that “it’s certainly the case that the Americans, as they showed in the tsunami, have extraordinary capacity”.


During the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, US helicopters from the USS Abraham Lincoln flew missions to isolated communities along the Indonesian coast in the biggest US military operation in South-East Asia since the Vietnam War.


Samak Sundaravej, Thailand‘s prime minister, has offered to negotiate on Washington‘s behalf to persuade Myanmar’s government to accept US assistance.


Intervention urged


France is arguing that the UN has the power to intervene without the Myanmar government’s approval to help civilians under a 2005 agreement that the world body has a “responsibility to protect” people when governments fail to do it.


That agreement did not mention natural disasters.



The foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany have urged Myanmar’s leaders to let foreign aid into the country.


In a joint letter in Le Monde newspaper, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, and David Miliband, his British counterpart, urged Myanmar’s leaders to “lift all restrictions on the distribution of aid”.


Aid commitments to Myanmar




United Nations: Will release a minimum of $10m, launching a “flash appeal” to raise much more money.


International Red Cross: $189,000. Relief workers distributing drinking water, clothing, food, plastic tarpaulins and hygiene kits.


Myanmar Red Cross: 5 billion kyats ($4.5m) for relief and resettlement work. Distributing insecticide-treated bed nets and water purification tablets.


Australian World Vision: $2.8m for first month of relief operations.




European Commission: $3m for fast-track humanitarian aid.


US: $3m, up from initial $250,000 immediate emergency aid.


China: $500,000 in cash; materials including tents, blankets and biscuits worth a further $500,000.


India: Two naval ships loaded with food, tents, blankets, clothing and medicines sent to Yangon.


Japan: $267,570 worth of emergency aid in tents, power generators and other supplies.


Australia: Initial $2.8m in emergency aid, with $1m going to aid agencies to help provide shelter, water purification and food.


Thailand: Transport plane loaded with food and medicine sent to Yangon.


(All figures in US$)

An estimated one million people have been left homeless and 100,000 may have been killed by the cyclone, according to a US diplomat in the former capital, Yangon, but the government plans to press ahead with the referendum on a new constitution critics say is an attempt by the generals to entrench their rule.

In depth: Myanmar cyclone


Witness: ‘Utter devastation’

Millions displaced

Lessons from Aceh

Generals’ grip threatened

Storm smashes Myanmar ‘rice bowl’

Disease stalks cyclone survivors

Generals ignore calls to delay polls

Map: Cyclone’s deadly path

Satellite photos:
Before and after

Timeline: Asia’s worst storms

Picture gallery

How you can help

Watch 101 East: Crisis in Myanmar

Earlier, Mark Canning, Britain’s ambassador to Myanmar, told Al Jazeera that the relief operation for Myanmar is likely to be twice the size needed in Aceh province in Indonesia, after the 2004 tsunami.

“The scale of this catastrophe is becoming clearer all the time. The official death toll is around 23,000. But I’m afraid it’s going to escalate dramatically in the coming days,” he said.

“There are between one and one and a half million people who are thought to be vulnerable. The conditions are horrendous. So you’re talking about an aid operation that is I think about twice the size of the Aceh relief operation. Some aid is getting through. Some UN and other flights, some World Food Programme convoys, are getting through. But they’re not getting through fast enough, not in the volume that is needed.”


Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Cyclone: Buddhist chief appeals to Burma junta

Cyclone: Buddhist chief appeals to Burma junta

Malaysiakini news May 9, 08 3:04pm

The leader of Malaysia’s Buddhists today urged Burma to allow foreign aid workers to enter the reclusive nation after a cyclone left tens of thousands dead and more than a million homeless.

burma myanmar cyclone typhoon catastrophe 070508 03Tropical cyclone Nargis hit Burma over the weekend, leaving at least 63,000 dead or missing, although aid workers and embassy officials say the death toll could top 100,000.

But the mainly Buddhist country’s reclusive military rulers have said they were not ready to allow in foreign relief workers.

“We are really appealing to the Burma government to let foreign aid workers to help them because it has nothing to do with politics,” Buddhist High Priest of Malaysia Reverend K Sri Dhammaratana told AFP.

“This is purely on humanitarian grounds and it is an urgent need. The longer they wait and stall, things are going to get worse and unmanageable,” he said.

Vulnerable to disease and starvation

reverend k sri dhammaratana buddhist high priest‘s plea comes amid international pressure to allow experts into the isolated nation where cyclone survivors are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the spread of disease and starvation.

Burma’s junta has said the country needed outside aid but would deliver it itself.

“Without thinking about politics, the junta should allow whoever who comes to offer help to support the victims,” Dhammaratana said, after launching a fund raising drive for cyclone victims.

“We may face restraints in getting assistance across the borders but this will not hamper our efforts to jointly channel our donations to Burma,” he added.

Buddhist society here will be working with the Malaysia Red Crescent Society to bring the aid into Burma in the form of cash donations and other basic necessities, including emergency survival kits and water purifying tablets.

The United Nations estimates more than one million people have been left homeless by the disaster and, as each hour passes without clean water and food, they are at ever greater risk of starvation and the spread of disease.

Buddhists urged to pray for victims

Tuesday May 20, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Buddhists in Malaysia have been urged to pray for those suffering in China and Myanmar due to teh massive natural disasters which struck both countries recently.

Transport Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat, who spoke Monday at the Buddhist Maha Vihara Temple in conjunction with Wesak Day, said it was the appropriate thing to do.

“While we may pray for ourselves, we must be mindful of the catastrophes that have hit these countries. We are duty-bound to make the world a better place so we must also try to help the people in these countries.”

Ong, who is MCA vice-president, also touched on religious equality and hoped that Malaysians would be able to create an environment where equality and harmony prevailed.

Religious fest: Ong (centre) with Sri Dhammaratana (left)and Ven. Ming Ji (right), chairman of the Malaysian Buddhist Association KL/Selangor division, at the launching of the Wesak Float Monday.

“It is always easier said than done but if everyone works together, it is achievable,” he said.

He added that Buddhists had also played their role in national development.

Ong later lit a candle together with Chief High Priest of Malaysia, Venerable K. Sri Dhammaratana Maha Nayaka Thera, and proceeded to light the float that led a procession.

1.5 million people ‘severely affected’ by Myanmar cyclone: UN

1.5 million people ‘severely affected’ by Myanmar cyclone: UN

NEW YORK: Some 1.5 million people have been “severely affected” by cyclone Nargis that hit Myanmar last weekend, a UN official has said.

Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar last Saturday, devastating large parts of the country. The toll, which has been estimated at over 100,000 by western diplomats, is likely to rise further as rescue workers struggle to reach remote settlements, while the nationwide number of displaced people could reach millions.

John Holmes, UN under secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Thursday said the situation in the disaster-stricken country is extremely dangerous and the risk of epidemic is very high due to unsanitary conditions caused by rotting carcasses and corpses in towns and villages, as well as a lack of clean drinking water.

A state of emergency has been declared in the five worst hit areas – the Irrawaddy delta, the cities of Yangon and Pegu, and the states of Karen and Mon. Most of the deaths came in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta region.


Is DAP means unDemocratic Aperthoid Pots, calling the kettle black?

Is DAP means unDemocratic Aperthoid Pots,

calling the kettle black?

According to a very short report in the 09-05-2008 Star News paper, Malaysian Home Minister answered the MP Karpal Singh’s question that looks like he wanted to prohibit the foreigners’ entrance into Kuala Lumpur.

The Star Online News, “Can’t stop foreign workers from going into city”

Friday May 9, 2008

THE Government cannot stop foreign workers from going out into the city, particularly during public holidays and festive seasons, reported Tamil Nesan.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said they could not be stopped from doing so as long as they abided by the law.

(Comment: TQ very much YB Datuk Seri for your kind heart, fairness and justice. With this Datuk Seri shown that you and BN are much farsighted and better than those Xenophobic and Apartheid  DAP stalwarts who forgot their past history and where they came from.).



In his written reply to Karpal Singh (DAP – Bukit Gelugor) at the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, he said there should be continuous enforcement by the Immigration Department and the police to ensure they did not create a disturbance or engage in immoral activities. Karpal Singh also wanted to know whether the Government was prepared to stem the influx of foreign workers in the capital.

Syed Hamid said the Government had taken steps to control the intake of foreign workers. He said the huge presence of foreign workers in the Klang Valley was due to the concentration of economic activities in the area.

> Makkal Osai reported that India’s Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav would arrive in Malaysia next week to seal the RM4bil Seremban-Gemas double-tracking project with Malaysian authorities.

The Government awarded the construction contract to Indian Railway Construction Corporation last year.

karpal singh pc on perak sultan 090508 02If that is true I wish to remind that YB need to use a time machine to fly back to the British Colonial time to be effective in his effort. Now he is too late.

“Nasi sudah jadi bubur”. Jangan bising. Makan bersama saja.


Many foreigners entered Kuala Lumpur and not only got citizenships but their grand children are active in so called “(Un) Democratic” Action Party, even elected as MPs. Ha, ha!  
DAP used the “Democratic” word in its name. Do you understand that in all the true Democracies there must be respect of Human Rights?  


karpal singh pc on perak sultan 090508 01 




Foreigners are Humans also and we have the right to enter KL. If you don’t like, you are free to leave KL and go and stay back in Punjab, India. (Just kidding with the words you used to angry when some of the BN men used to you.) You could still stay in your own home or balik Kg. i.e. balik Pulau Pinang.  




karpal singh pc on perak sultan 090508 01 




Foreigners are Humans also and we have the right to enter KL. If you don’t like, you are free to leave KL and go and stay back in Punjab, India. (Just kidding with the words you used to angry when some of the BN men used to you.) You could still stay in your own home or balik Kg. i.e. balik Pulau Pinang.  






DAP Indians like MP Karpal Singh and Mr Norman Fernandez could be libeled as Pots calling the kettle black?

Please read the related, “DAP man’s good article spoiled by a drop of shit!”

DAP Indians, for your information, please read the following:

Do you know that the origin of Malaysia’s Orang Aslis? Some group of those Malaysia’s Orang Aslis are desendents of MONs of Burma who migrated down and lost contact with present Mons of Myanmar.  

Please read  the Mon-Khmer languages in Wikipedia encyclopedia_

The Mon-Khmer languages are the autochthonous language family of Southeast Asia. Together with the Munda languages of India, they are one of the two traditional primary branches of the Austroasiatic family. However, several recent classifications have abandoned this dichotomy, either reducing the scope of Mon-Khmer (Diffloth 2005) or breaking it up entirely (or equivalently reclassifying Munda as a branch of Mon-Khmer: Peiros 1998). See Austroasiatic languages.

Mon-Khmer languages

This classification is based on Gérard Diffloth‘s widely cited 1974 Encyclopedia Britannica article.

I don’t wish to stress much that your home island was once under Burmese. And in the history, some of your states and even your Lording big boss Thai Kings were under Burmese Kings and had given yearly presents.

Just because our country is poor and we are working legally and illegally, don’t look down on us too much.

After all even if we ignore the religious facts that God/Allah had given this world to all the human, with your ASEAN Charter, you all are aiming at ASEAN UNION.

Just read back the  Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Tun Dr Mahathiers’ recent interview and comments during the last couple of days only.

Singapore’s Lee Says Southeast Asia Will Be Like European Union

 May 5 (Bloomberg) — Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, predicted that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations eventually will allow people and money to move freely within the region like the European Union.

EU-type Asean possible but not now, says Dr Mahathir


Asean, the grouping of 10 Southeast Asian nations, may be able to emulate the European Union (EU) but this is unlikely to come true in the near future, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has predicted.
In time, maybe we can introduce a common currency. But this must not be done by doing away with local currencies. The Ringgit can be used domestically while the common currency for trade between the 10 countries. That would be a start.

We can also start sharing airspace or introduce a single passport.

  1. So look at those great statemen’s ideas.

  2. Don’t try to stop the time wheel, DAP.

  3. DAP’s papa, PAP is much more idealistic and progressive.

DSAI should control and teach those Xenophobic DAPs.

Post Script.

  • I hereby apologize to all the Malaysian citizens for this somewhat ‘insulting’ posting. 
  • We love Malaysia and Malaysian of all races and religions. 
  • Although I wrote about DAP, I even love most of the DAP members. 
  • Please don’t take my words as an insult.

Dr San Oo Aung @ Dr Mohd Zafar Shah

Please read this_

DAP, a mirror version of MCA + MIC?

Malaysiakini’s Josh Hong | May 9, 08 11:23am

No doubt, our solidarity should be with Raja Petra Kamaruddin now that the man has become the first victim of BN’s attempt to strike back. The ruling coalition is again showing its (broken) fangs. But could it be a perfect plot between some at the highest echelons of the federal government and RPK to ensure Najib Razak remains in the spotlight?

Some two weeks before he chose to go to jail rather than posting bail, RPK ran an article on ‘Malaysia Today’, entitled Is DAP showing its true colours? which I guess has gone unnoticed by many of MT’s diehard fans who are usually more enticed by RPK’s incessant conspiracy theories about Umno.

But the piece is highly recommended, especially if one is deeply concerned as to whether Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would serve as a viable alternative to the shambolic BN.

RPK is from a rare breed of royalty whose writings consistently strike a chord of common feelings, which makes him a thorn in BN’s side, more so in the case of Najib and Rosmah recently.

Just last week, I met a Chinese Malaysian by chance here in Bangkok, who turned out to be an online forum organiser. He talked profusely about the need for DAP to transform itself to make the party relevant in the long run, referring to PKR’s article every now and again.

raja petra court case 060508 stumpedI cannot agree with him more.

Just look at Karpal Singh. I had wanted to include him as one of the political dinosaurs that I made fun of a few weeks ago, but chose to delete the paragraphs just to give myself more time to observe the DAP stalwart. Well, Karpal did not disappoint me.

At a time when everyone is looking forward to a more vibrant, intelligent and informative culture of debate in the Dewan Rakyat, Karpal in his usual stuntman-style raised trivial issues on the very first day of the parliamentary session. To me, his performance was only reminiscent of the previous parliament, which was everything about stealing the show but nothing about substance.

With dozens of newly-elected lawmakers on the opposition bench, a good number of them professionals from various fields, Karpal seems to be suffering from some identity crisis, fearing that the presence of the young and smart newbies might eclipse him.

Poking a beehive

Like some MCA leaders who are bereft of new ideas, Karpal continues to harp on the Islamic state issue, apparently still very used to the old mentality, and finding it hard to come to terms with the new political realities.
True, Pas has its bigots like Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the Kelantan Menteri Besar who often sees the need to ‘protect’ women through a strict religious code. But if the DAP really hopes to go far in Malaysian politics, tit-for-tat over Islam will only hasten its irrelevance.


Meanwhile, Karpal’s relish in tackling the issue of constitutional monarchy head-on only gives more ammunition to the BN and alienates the Malay constituency further.

Leave it to whatever mechanism there is within the PR to iron out the ideological differences. If Karpal cannot see the paramount importance of maintaining a coherent coalition while in opposition, don’t expect him to hold his tongue if he is ever made a cabinet minister one fine day. His egoistic self and confrontational rhetoric would only ensure a short-lived DAP presence in an alternative government.

Very often in politics, it is sensibility, rather than seniority, that earns one respect.

Karpal’s lack of generosity is also seen in his objection to the appointment of Lee Kah Choon, a former Gerakan leader, as director of Penang Development Corporation. Does he not realise the DAP needs all the talent it can get to make its rule in Penang sustainable?

In government, personal stunts are a luxury. It is high time PR learns how to put the Tiger of Jelutong on a leash.

abdul razak baginda altantuya case 040607 karpal singhKarpal is not the only DAP leader who is caught in this post-election dilemma. Lim Guan Eng, in his first week as chief minister of Penang, also stirred up unnecessary controversy over the so-called bumiputera privileges.

Instead of poking a beehive, Lim could have avoided the messy aftermath by reiterating the importance of transparency and fairness in administering the state. Obviously, the new chief minister felt that he owed his job to the Chinese voters but forgot that he is now the leader of a state in which close to half of the population is Malay.

Lim’s teething pains can be witnessed from his difficulties in adjusting himself. Last week, he ticked off the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG), an umbrella group of NGOs that came out with a report that was not too favourableof the DAP-led government in Penang.

Lim complained like a child throwing a tantrum that the CGG, as like the BN, was purposely targeting his administration!

But the rakyat clearly did not elect Lim only to be told to adhere to discredited benchmarks set by the BN. Would Lim rid himself of the persecution mentality to make us happy, even for just a while?

But the DAP’s biggest problem lies in the fact that many of its leaders seem to believe they are indebted predominantly to the Chinese, and then the Indians. Hence their habit of doing things that reek of ethnic populism.

‘Ethnic dignity’?
Teng Chang Khim is an able politician that I respect. And my sympathies were with him when he was overlooked in the recent Selangor state exco lineup, most probably a victim of factionalism.

But I was most disappointed when Teng vowed never to put on a songkok, and challenged the MCA legislators who did so to apologise to the Chinese community.

Why pick on the songkok? Why should a Chinese be regarded as well-educated and civilised when he is in a Western suit but compromising on ‘ethnic dignity’ when he puts on a baju Melayu?

Which Chinese Malaysian nowadays, really, is not a traitor to Chinese culture except for the few days of Lunar New Year celebration when everyone loves to be seen in a ‘traditional’ costume just to satisfy everyone else’s exotic curiosity?

dap budget forum 2008 100907 liew chin tongHow ironic that while Khir Toyo finds himself the opposition leader having ambitiously announced his desire to see ‘zero opposition’ in the state assembly, Teng now looks somewhat uncomfortable wearing a songkok as the newly appointed Dewan Speaker. In politics, one must always be prepared to eat humble pie.

Liew Chin Tong (pix) is among the most promising of DAP’s talents. He also has all the potential to move the party beyond the ethnic limitations. Before being elected as the MP for Bukit Bendera, Liew reminded us that 80% of the 4.9 million young Malaysians yet to register as voters were Malay. I concur with him that the BN government is reluctant to introduce automatic voter registration knowing full well that many of the young Malays may not necessarily vote Umno.

But my question is: with Indian and Chinese populations dwindling proportionately, would the DAP be able to capture a significant segment of the young Malay vote to really move away from the fringe of Malaysia politics to the center?

Liew certainly looks best suited for the job given his broadmindedness and macro worldview. He is also unencumbered by unnecessary ethnic sentiments. Provided, of course, he does not end up another victim of factionalism within the party. The DAP’s undisputed contribution to Malaysian democracy should be rightly acknowledged; so should its chequered history of internal power struggles which now deserves a sizeable space in the National Archives also.

The longest-serving opposition party has been given a new lease of life, albeit unexpectedly. Yet the litmus test of its longevity depends on how the party can transform itself into a truly multiracial force to rival Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). It is also contingent on the party’s ability to rein in factionalism.

Any failure to rise to these two challenges will only make the DAP a mirror version of the MCA + MIC in a PR government, and we all know how these two race-based parties and their leaders fared in the last election.


Asean should pressure the Myanmar government to allow western aid-officials immediately

Asean must get aid to Myanmar fast

Asean should encourage and apply reasonable pressure on the Myanmar government to allow relief operations to come in without having to go through Myanmar’s restrictive normal political or immigration channel.

The Star letter by DR TAN ENG BEE, Kajang.

THE devastating cyclone where the death toll is expected to reach 100,000 could have been minimised if Myanmar authorities had taken sufficient measures to inform and prepare its citizens of the impending cyclone.

The Myanmar government was warned two days earlier by the Indian Meteorological Department.

It was reported that many thousands are missing and a million made homeless. Many are still trapped as roads and communication lines have been damaged.

I am appalled by the attitude of the Myanmar government and its stony indifference when it was informed about the advancing cyclone.

The government was unprepared and least expected the cyclone to be that destructive as there was none in the past that ever matched the magnitude of Cyclone Nargis.

Myanmar was actually at a loss what to do except to appeal for international aid after assessing the massive damage.

As Myanmar is a member of Asean, it is proper that Asean should undertake to organise comprehensive and massive relief operations to reach survivors as soon as possible.

It was reported that red tape and other restrictive orders have prevented relief operations and supplies from other countries from coming in.

They are already at the doorsteps of Myanmar. No time should be wasted; visa and travel documents should be speedily approved to allow relief operations to fly in as soon as possible.

In this case, Asean should encourage and apply reasonable pressure on the Myanmar government to allow relief operations to come in without having to go through Myanmar’s restrictive normal political or immigration channel.

Humanitarian aid and relief operations should now supersede all forms of political considerations.

I would think the time is ripe for Asean to come together and to consider how to handle and send relief operations to member states when natural calamities and man-made disasters strike.

It is certainly disgraceful that none of the Asean member states was aware how devastating Cyclone Nargis could be. The fact that the warning was issued by the Indian Meteorological Department shows how far behind we are in technology.

Malaysia has had its own peculiar experience in recent months where we saw massive and destructive floods, erosion, and other man-made tragedies. I am sure we are better prepared now after having gone through different natural calamities such as the massive flooding in Johor last year.




Cyclone Nargis Floods Burma (Myanmar) Image. Caption explains image.

Cyclone Nargis Floods Burma (Myanmar)


Cyclone Nargis Floods Burma (Myanmar) Image. Caption explains image. 




Flooding in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)Flooding in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

Nasa News Stories Archive                                                                        NASA's Earth Observatory

 May 6, 2008


The first cyclone of the 2008 season in the northern Indian Ocean was a devastating one for Myanmar (Burma). According to reports from Accuweather.com, Cyclone Nargis made landfall with sustained winds of 130 mph and gusts of 150-160 mph, which is the equivalent of a strong Category 3 or minimal Category 4 hurricane. News reports stated that several thousand people have been killed, and thousands more were missing as of May 5.

Flood water can be difficult to see in photo-like satellite images, particularly when the water is muddy. This pair of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite use a combination of visible and infrared light to make floodwaters obvious. Water is blue or nearly black, vegetation is bright green, bare ground is tan, and clouds are white or light blue.

On April 15, rivers and lakes are sharply defined against a backdrop of vegetation and fallow agricultural land. The Irrawaddy River flows south through the left-hand side of the image, splitting into numerous distributaries known as the Mouths of the Irrawaddy. The wetlands near the shore are a deep blue green. Cyclone Nargis came ashore across the Mouths of the Irrawaddy and followed the coastline northeast.

The entire coastal plain is flooded in the May 5 image. The fallow agricultural areas appear to have been especially hard hit. For example, Yangôn (population over 4 million) is almost completely surrounded by floods. Several large cities (population 100,000–500,000) are in the affected area. Muddy runoff colors the Gulf of Martaban turquoise.

The high-resolution image provided above is at MODIS’ maximum spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response Team provides twice-daily images of the region in additional resolutions and formats, including photo-like natural color.

How and where to make a contribution for Myanmar Cyclone disaster victims (in Burmese)

How and where to make a contribution for

Myanmar Cyclone disaster victims (in Burmese)

Let's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support Victims

မုန္တိုင္းဒဏ္ခံရေသာ ျမန္မာျပည္သူမ်ားကို ကူညီၾကပါရန္
ဆုိင္းကလံုးေၾကာင့္ ေသဆံုသူ ႏွစ္ေသာင္းႏွစ္ေထာင္ေက်ာ္ ရွိသည္ဟု စစ္အစုိးရ ေရဒီယို၏ ေနာက္ဆံုးသတင္း ေၾကညာသြားသည္။ ေသဆံုးသူ 100,000 ဦးေသဆံုးျပီး ၄၁၀၀၀ ေပ်ာက္ဆံုးေနသည္ကို အတည္ျပဳႏိုင္ျပီဟု ပါရွိသည္။

ေသဆံုးပ်က္စီးမႈ အေရအတြက္မွာ ထပ္ခါ ထပ္ခါ တက္လာေနဆဲ ျဖစ္သည္။မုန္တိုင္းဒဏ္ခံရေသာ ျမန္မာျပည္သူမ်ားကို ကူညီႏိုင္ရန္အတြက္ ျပည္တြင္းမွ စီးပြားေရးလုပ္ငန္းရွင္မ်ားမွ စတင္စီစဥ္လ်က္ ေၾကာင္းသတင္း ရရိွပါသည္။ ၄င္းအစီအစဥ္တြင္ ျပည္ပေရာက္ျမန္မာ မြတ္စလင္မ္မ်ားမွ ပါ၀င္ လွဴဒါန္းၾကပါရန္ တိုက္တြန္းလိုက္ပါသည္။ အလွဴေငြေကာက္ခံရရိွမႈ အေပၚတြင္မူတည္၍ ပထမဦးစားေပး အေနျဖင့္ ရန္ကုန္တိုင္းမွ အဓိက မုန္တိုင္းဒဏ္ေၾကာင့္ ျပင္းျပင္းထန္ထန္ ပ်က္စီးသြားေသာ ေရႊျပည္သာ၊ ဒဂံုျမိဳ႕သစ္၊ ကြမ္းျခံကုန္း၊လိႈင္သာယာ စေသာ ျမိဳ႕နယ္မ်ားမွ မိသားစုမ်ားကို ကူညီသြားပါမည္။ အဓိကအားျဖင့္ ဆန္ကိုထား၍ လွဴဒါန္းသြားမည္ဟုသိရပါသည္။ အလွဴေငြရရိွမႈေပၚမူတည္၍ ဧရာ၀တီတိုင္းမွ ငပုေတာ၊ လပတၱာ၊ ေမာ္လၿမိဳင္္၊ ဖ်ာပံု၊ ဘိုကေလး၊ က်ိဳက္လတ္၊ ေဒးဒရဲၿမိ့ဳနယ္ ၊ ကူညီသြားရန္ အစီအစဥ္မ်ားျပဳလုပ္သြားမည္ဟု သိရပါသည္။ ျပည္ပေရာက္ ျမန္မာမြတ္စလင္မ်ားအေနျဖင့္ အလွဴေငြမ်ား ထည့္၀င္လိုပါလ်င္ ေအာက္ပါႏိုင္ငံမ်ားမွ မိတ္ေဆြမ်ားထံသို႕ဆက္သြယ္ စံုစမ္းေဆာင္ရြက္ႏို္င္ပါသည္။
Cyclone Nargis (REUTERS/courtesy www.alertnet.org)

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္ ကိုတင္ေမာင္သန္း ဖုန္း 0950 13159၊ 0951 07704
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Deaths may top 100,000ျပည္ပမွလွဴဒါန္းေသာ မိတ္ေဆြမ်ား၏ ေငြေၾကးမ်ားကို စုေပါင္း၍ မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံမွ ျပည္တြင္းသို႕ ပို႕ေပးမည္ဟုသတင္းရရိွပါသည္။ လွဴဒါန္းေသာ မိတ္ေဆြမ်ား၏ စာရင္းနွင့္ ေငြ Amount မ်ားကို စံုစမ္းသိရိွသေလာက္ MyanmarMuslim မွေဖာ္ျပေပးသြားပါမည္။

ယခုအခ်ိန္ထိ စံုစမ္းသိရိွရေသာ စာရင္းမ်ားမွာ
၁။ ကိုမ်ိဳးမာန္ (မေလးရွား) RM 10,000
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၃။ ကိုတင္ေက်ာ္ဦး (မေလးရွား) RM 1,000
စုစုေပါင္း RM 14,000
link http://www.myanmarmuslim.net/news.php

eurekatraveler@yahoo.co.id |






Hello. i’am an indonesian. me and my friend, stiill waitin for visa to fo to myanmar, to help in disaster area. acoording to the plan, we try to help for moslems victims. can you give us an information about it. and can you tell us about an organization that need a volunteer?

please lt us know, immediatly



From Islam in Myanmar; Contents and History, 2008/05/07 at 3:31 PM

Let's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support VictimsLet's Support Victims































Myanmar backtracks on U.S. aid flight despite alleged 80,000 death in Labutta alone

US, UN plead Myanmar to let in aid as death toll soars


WASHINGTON (AFP) — The international community pleaded with Myanmar’s military rulers to let foreign aid workers and desperately needed relief supplies into the cyclone-crushed country.

 as a top US diplomat said the death toll from Cyclone Nargis could top 100,000.

Shari Villarosa, the US charge d’affaires in the Myanmar capital Yangon, said “there may well be over 100,000 deaths in the delta area,” citing an international non-government organization she would not name.

“It is an estimate of what deaths may actually reach, primarily in the delta area,” Villarosa told reporters in Washington on a conference call.

Displaced Myanmar children cry at a temporary shelter

An estimated 80,000 people have died in the remote district of Labutta in the Irrawaddy delta, which bore the brunt of the storm’s fury, local military official Tin Win told AFP in Myanmar.

National officials could not be reached to confirm the number, but official state media have put the number of dead and missing at more than 60,000.

A resident stands on his destroyed house in Yangon

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the situation as a “critical moment for the people of Myanmar.”

A UN statement said Ban was “very concerned about the continuing tragedy” as Yangon authorities raised the official death toll to nearly 23,000 late Wednesday, with state media saying more than 42,000 others were still missing.“Given the magnitude of this disaster, the secretary general urges the government of Myanmar to respond to the outpouring of international support and solidarity by facilitating the arrival of aid workers, and the clearance of relief supplies in every way possible,” the statement added.        Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian  Affairs the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes

Frustrated aid agencies said Wednesday they were still being denied permission to enter Myanmar and help desperate survivors of the cyclone, which has left millions homeless and without food and water.

A vast swath of Myanmar’s low-lying delta region was inundated by Cyclone Nargis, which hit Saturday, sweeping away entire towns.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted the appeal to Yangon to admit international disaster relief was not “a matter of politics.”

“What remains is for the Burmese (Myanmar) government to allow the international community to help its people,” she told reporters. “It’s not a matter of politics. It’s a matter of a humanitarian crisis.”

An Indonesian Air Force personel

waits for the departure of an aircraft

carrying relief supplies for Myanmar

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes warned that Myanmar was facing a “major catastrophe” and urged the junta to facilitate the arrival of disaster relief teams and the distribution of badly-needed emergency supplies.

Ban welcomed news that four members of a UN assessment team would be allowed into Myanmar Thursday.

Holmes said the United Nations was keen to get disaster relief experts into the country as soon as possible to supplement the work of UN development workers and non-government organizations officials already in Myanmar.

Pledges of cash, supplies and assistance have been pouring in from around the world.

Decomposed dead body floats side by side with a dead animal

Holmes said that despite the delay in getting foreign aid into the country, “We’re moving in the right direction … we are making progress.” He noted that a flash appeal to donors for aid to the cyclone victims would be issued Friday.

He rejected charges that the United Nations had been slow in reacting to the disaster, saying “It takes time to assess these things.”

He also dismissed suggestions that the United Nations should intervene in Myanmar even without invitation from the authorities.

The following satellite combo photo shows

the whole small town (left) at delta wiped out

after the Cyclone ( right).

“I’m not sure that invading them would be a very sensible option at this particular moment. I’m not sure it would be helpful to the people we are actually trying to help,” Holmes said.

Meanwhile, France’s UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said he was “very disappointed” after failing to secure a Security Council briefing on the cyclone disaster because of the opposition of some delegations.

He said the 15-member council needed to “express its concern and to call on the government of Myanmar to open its doors” to international relief aid.

People in remote village waiting for help

Ripert said the council held extensive discussions on the disaster Wednesday in which he pointed out that, as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner indicated, “it is time for the UN to intervene.”

Earlier Kouchner suggested that the Security Council force Myanmar’s ruling junta to allow aid supplies.

Myanmar backtracks on U.S. aid flight

Reuters India

By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) – Desperate survivors cried out for aid on Thursday nearly a week after 100,000 people were feared killed by Cyclone Nargis, as pressure piled up on Myanmar to throw its doors open to an international relief operation.



The United States was awaiting approval from the ruling junta to start military aid flights, but the U.N. food agency and Red Cross/Red Crescent said they have finally started flying in emergency relief supplies after foot-dragging by the generals.

 U.S. ambassador Eric John told a news conference in Bangkok the United States and Thailand had thought the Myanmar generals had agreed to let a U.S military cargo plane fly in supplies.

But that turned out to be premature.

 “We don’t have permission yet for the C-130 to go in, but I emphasise ‘yet'” John said.

 Approval for such a flight would be significant, given the huge distrust and acrimony between the former Burma’s generals and Washington, which has imposed tough sanctions to try to end 46 years of unbroken military rule.

 Aid has barely trickled into one of the world’s most impoverished countries, although experts feared it would be too little and too late to cope with the aftermath of Nargis, which also left one million homeless.

 Witnesses have seen little evidence of a relief effort under way in the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta region.

 “We’ll starve to death if nothing is sent to us,” said Zaw Win, a 32-year-old fisherman who waded through floating corpses to find a boat for the two-hour journey to Bogalay, a town where the government said 10,000 people were killed.


 The storm pulverised the delta on Saturday with 190 km winds followed by a massive 12 ft wave that caused most of the casualties and damage, virtually destroying some villages. It was the worst cyclone in Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people were killed in neighbouring Bangladesh.

 State television on Thursday night did not give an update of the death toll, which stood at 22,980 with 42,119 missing as of Tuesday. Diplomats and disaster experts said the real figure is likely to be much higher.

 “The information that we’re receiving indicates that there may well be over 100,000 deaths in the delta area,” said Shari Villarosa, charge d’affaires of the U.S. embassy in Myanmar.

U.N. officials who had earlier complained the generals were putting up obstacles to an emergency airlift, said a half-dozen cargo planes had been allowed to land at Yangon airport.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent confirmed its first aid plane took off from Kuala Lumpur, carrying six tonnes of shelter materials.

World Food spokesman Paul Risley said aid agencies normally expect to fly in experts and supplies within 48 hours of a disaster, but nearly a week after this cyclone, few have been able to send reinforcements into Myanmar.

A country that has long been suspicious of the outside world is wrestling with a decision over whether to allow what would be the biggest international presence in the country in decades to help care for a sizeable portion of its population.

Some opponents accuse the junta of stalling because they don’t want an influx of foreigners into the countryside during Saturday’s referendum on an army-drafted constitution that looks set to cement the military’s grip on power.

Medicins sans Frontieres, which has 1,238 people in Myanmar, said it was ferrying aid into the delta via trucks and boats.

“We are focusing on those still alive; 50 percent of them have wounds and they are infected,” MSF official Frank Smithius in Myanmar told Australian radio. “Because of the winds and high water, people got smashed around.”

Jean-Michel Grand, executive director of Action contra la Faim in London, said the logistical obstacles were formidable.

“The roads are very poor or destroyed, and in many cases there were no roads before. Everybody’s looking at boats as an alternative. It’s going to be a massive logistics challenge.

 British medical aid agency Merlin is converting a luxury cruise ship into a floating hospital to reach survivors.

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej failed to reach Myanmar’s generals on Thursday after U.S. President George W. Bush asked him to intervene with them to expedite the international aid effort.

“We couldn’t reach them because the communication towers have been damaged,” government spokesman Wichianchot Sukchotrat said.

 Amidst all the death and destruction, life asserted itself. Than Win, who lost seven of her 10 children to Nargis gave birth on Wednesday to a boy, she named “First Love”.

 “After what happened, this is a beautiful present,” she said, lying on a wooden table in one of the few houses left standing in Bogalay town, where an estimated 10,000 died.

 (Additional reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan, Grant McCool and Darren Schuettler in Bangkok, Jalil Hamid in Kuala Lumpur)