Malaysia’s pragmatic patriot: friends with benefits


 

The South China Sea dispute. The global terrorism threat. Malaysia’s foreign policy is back in the world’s spotlight and it is exciting times for ISIS Malaysia’s Foreign Policy and Security Studies chief.

IN an article titled “Think tanks aren’t going extinct. But they have to evolve”, American scholar James Jay Carafano wrote that the capacity to do rigorous, credible research is “no longer sufficient” for think tanks to manoeuvre their ideas prominently into the policy debate. Instead, think tanks must learn to communicate “in ways that will allow their ideas to break through to decision-makers who are bombarded with information from all sides”.

In that regard, Elina Noor has proven to be a real asset to Malaysia’s premier think tank, the Institute of Strategic and Interna­tional Studies, or ISIS Malaysia. Her ability to articulate on complex and dynamic global affairs – such as major power relations, cyber warfare, terrorism and conflicts – in succinct yet jargon-free language has also made her a highly sought-after interviewee by the international media.

As a child, Elina wanted to be “everything”, from prime minister to fashion designer. Her parents, who ran a management consultancy firm, however, might have subconsciously put her on her career path by leaving the world news on television all the time when she was growing up.

“My parents would engage in lively debates about international affairs between themselves. As I grew older, I wanted to do law with an eye towards international law, specifically how war and conflict affect people.”

After graduating from Oxford University in the United Kingdom, she specialised in public international law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This was followed by an internship at the Centre for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Washington DC, specialising in issues of weapons of mass destruction terrorism.

Essentially, she helped compile a database of terrorist groups with chemical or bioweapons capabilities by combing through secondary sources and obtaining intelligence from experts who had gone into the field.

Her days in the United States were cut short, however, by visa limitations. So, after nine months, she returned to Malaysia in 2001.

Her appetite whetted by her Washington experience, Elina joined ISIS Malaysia as a researcher.

Though formally positioned as a research organisation for nation-building initiatives, ISIS Malaysia was set up by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1983 to serve as a crucial sounding board for the government on foreign policy and security issues.

In addition to research, ISIS Malaysia engages actively in non-governmental meetings between states, known as Track Two diplomacy, and fosters closer regional integration and international cooperation through forums such as the Asia-Pacific Roundtable.

Now, having risen through the ranks, Elina heads a team of eight in the Foreign Policy and Security Studies division.

As a claimant state in the ongoing South China Sea dispute, chair of the Association of South-East Asian Nations in 2015, and currently a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Malaysia’s foreign policy direction has drawn renewed interest at home and abroad.

Invariably, Elina is asked questions on Malaysia’s relations with China. Her answer is perhaps best laid out in an article she wrote, titled “Friends with Benefits: Why Malaysia can and will maintain good ties with both the United States and China.”

On the topic, Elina had explained: “Malaysia should or will be subservient to an awakening dragon, but the cost-benefit calculus militates against provoking it. Equally, Malaysia’s location and posture make it a strategic partner for China in South-East Asia.

“It is the mark of a mature and solid friendship when overall relations are not held hostage to single-issue disagreements.”

Elina had added that such overlapping claims in the South China Sea, “should not, if managed well, stultify cooperation between Malaysia and China in other areas of the relationship. For a developing country with high-income and knowledge-economy ambitions like Malaysia, the show must go on”.

Or to put it simply, Malaysia wants to be everybody’s friend. That’s always been the country’s foreign policy from the start, she points out.

On the other hand, this pragmatic approach has also enabled the country to punch above its weight in places where even superpowers fear to tread.

Elina’s other portfolio, cyber warfare and security, is expected to come further into the spotlight with recent headlines claiming that the so-called Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria intended to abduct top Malaysian leaders, including the PM.

“Malaysia up to this point has handled terrorism very well,” Elina says.

Many attempts have been foiled in the past, she adds, and the police have kept it low-key.

“If you follow the issues closely, you’ll notice the police only started publicising their efforts in the run-up to Pota (The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015), an anti-terrorism law passed by the Malaysian government on April 7, 2015 enabling the Malaysian authorities to detain terror suspects without trial for a period of two years.”

Part of this publicising had to do with the political selling of Pota, but there was a more legitimate, pressing reason: People were taking security for granted in Malaysia.

“Malaysians treat security like it’s not a problem. We often criticise the police but the military and Special Branch in charge of counterterrorism really know what they’re doing. The police have been very vigilant and I think they do good work but haven’t been given enough credit.”

After 14 years, she still enjoys her job because of the intellectual robustness but admits some world-weariness has set in.

Nevertheless, Elina remains motivated by the knowledge that a lot of good Malaysians on both sides of the political divide are doing good work for the country.

Pointing to a faded wristband she has been wearing for “donkey’s years”, the inscription reads: “Malaysia tanahairku (Malaysia, my homeland)”.

“Call me cheesy,” she says, “but I’ve never thought of removing it. Love for country might, but does not always, equate to love for government. I’m a sentimental patriot.”

By Alexandra Wong, China Daily/Asia News Network

Nabbed Briton in Malaysia among five terror suspects, married 12 times


KUALA LUMPUR: A part-time English teacher from Britain who fought as an al-Qaeda militant in Afghanistan and Bosnia, is among the latest group of five men arrested for being involved in Islamic State (IS) and other terror groups.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division nabbed the 44-year-old Briton together with a 25-year-old Bangladeshi, a 29-year-old Nigerian, a 31-year-old Indonesian and a 59-year-old Malaysian, who is also a Rela member, in a se

 

Inspector-General of

ries of raids in Selangor, Kelantan, Johor and here between Nov 16 and Dec 1. Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the British national, a Muslim convert who had been under surveillance for some time, was arrested in Jalan Duta on Nov 16.

“He fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia after joining al-Qaeda. He was working as a part-time English teacher in Penang and we have been monitoring him closely,” the IGP said.

The Nigerian, who had been using his guise as a student in a private college in Petaling Jaya for his terrorism-related activities, was arrested a day later.

Investigators believe that he is actively connected to terror groups in Africa.

Both the Briton and Nigerian have since been deported.

The three other suspects, an Indonesian, a Bangladeshi and a Malaysian, are believed to have links to the IS.

The Indonesian, identified as the leader of the cell, was nabbed on Dec 1 in Benut, Pontian, where he was working as a mechanic.

The IGP said the man had performed the bai’ah (pledge of loyalty) to IS’ “Caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi via Facebook in mid 2014.

“We also believe that he is one of the main persons recruiting and sending trained militants to Syria. We suspect that he has been arranging travels for IS followers in Malaysia and other South-East Asian countries,” he added.

It was learnt that the Indonesian had direct connections with known Malaysian militants, including former “The Ukays” band drummer Akil Zainal.

Akil, a Universiti Teknologi Mara graduate, was among the first batch of Malaysians who went to Syria and publicly declared support for militant groups.

The two other cell members, the Malaysian and the Bangladeshi, were arrested in Kota Baru and Klang respectively.

At a separate event, the IGP said Bukit Aman would always be on the alert with threats from the IS and other terror groups.

“We will not compromise when it comes to security. Every action will be taken to prevent bad things from happening in this country,” he said.

The IGP said terror groups, including the IS would not be allowed to gain a foothold in Malaysia, he added.

Asked whether any of the suspects had been planning to launch attacks in Malaysia, he said that was their main agenda.

Nabbed Terrorist Married 12 Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The British national nabbed along with four others for involvement in terrorism activities has a reputation of being a Casanova besides his militant tendencies.

The man has so far married 12 women, including five from Malaysia.

His other past and present wives are from the United Kingdom, Bosnia, Germany, Philippines and Indonesia.

“You could call him a Casanova terrorist,” a source told The Star.

“We have not come across a terrorist who has married so many women. He has been busy on the terror front but his love life is interesting as well.”

Apparently, his modus operandi has been to marry the women and divorce them after a few years.

“He is also suspected of duping the women into marriage for their money,” the source said.

It was learnt that a general manager of a bank was among his former Malaysian wives.

The man, who worked as a part-time English teacher in Penang, had been travelling in and out of Malaysia since 1998.

The authorities suspect that the Briton, who had been interacting with students, could be the head of a sleeper cell for the al-Qaeda in the country.

Source: The Star/Asia News Network

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Islamic State new killing fields, nothing less than total domination


THE news on Saturday felt like double hammer blows. The Islamic State’s slaughter of 129 people in Paris and the Malaysian IS militants in southern Philippines’ plan to form an “official” IS faction in South-East Asia were just plain shocking and sickening.

Back in March I wrote about my fear of the IS and decried how people who profess to want to protect Islam in Malaysia were targeting the wrong people, namely non-Muslims, and particularly the Christians.

It is with deep distress I return to this growing horror which cannot be ignored.

While I do believe our Govern­ment is completely committed to fighting IS’ influence and I am deeply relieved that our police has top-notch intelligence that – as Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan said – ensures “that we are on top of any development concerning militant groups”, this extreme form of militant Islam continues to take root in our midst.

It was reported in October that more than 100 suspected terrorists and militants have been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012. Among them were Malaysian combatants who had returned from Syria and Iraq, as well as army commandos and civil servants. Over the last few days, more have been detained.

The Star’s report on Saturday that a former Universiti Malaya lecturer, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, who trains suicide bombers, is behind the formation of an IS group that will plan attacks in Malaysia and the region is even more chilling.

More scary was Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s revelation on Monday that the IS is targeting Malaysian leaders who are regarded as tagut. Tagut the article explains are “those who have crossed religious boundaries” which is extremely vague.

But it would appear to mean, going by online definitions, people who worship other gods as well as Muslims who “exceed their limits” like legislators who make laws in Parliament. They are deemed to be equating themselves with Allah and challenging Allah’s divine laws.

If these are all possible meanings of tagut, then all our elected representatives and government leaders, Muslim and non-Muslim, are fair game to IS.

In Graeme Wood’s article entitled “What Isis really wants” in the March issue of The Atlantic, he states that IS’ aim is to restore the Caliphate after it ended in Turkey almost a century ago. (Isis or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is the earlier manifestation of IS).

After some 14 months of fighting, the proponents achieved their goal on June 30, 2014, when their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed himself as the new caliph and successor to Prophet Muhammad in a mosque in Mosul, Iraq.

his 21st-century construct, however, is global and borderless and as such, al-Baghdadi says he is the leader of Muslims everywhere who must pledge allegiance to him. Failure to do so means being branded as an apostate, which is punishable by death.

Wood quotes Bernard Haykel, described as the leading secular expert on IS ideology, as saying these jihadists are “authentic throwbacks to early Islam and faithfully reproducing its norms of war.”

Haykel further states, “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish (jihadists) are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition” and that IS fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

The Islamic State, according to Wood, also claims that common Syiah practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Quran or the Prophet’s examples.

“That means roughly 200 million Syiah (Muslims) are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have ele­­­­­vated man-made laws above Syariah by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God,” he writes.

He adds this is because the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world of apostates, and presumably tagut, even if it means mass killings.

So back to Hishammuddin’s statement that our leaders are IS’ targets. He also declared that the threat will not stop them from fighting the terrorists. Fighting the IS should be every citizen’s responsibility, at least it should be for every citizen who still believes in a multiracial, democratic Malaysia.

At such a dangerous time, I reiterate my appeal to Muslims and non-Muslims to stand together. I cannot believe peace-loving Malaysian Sunnis would agree to IS’ desire to wipe out millions of Syiah Muslims and non-Muslims.

Unfortunately, we still have leaders wanting to play the religious card which sows confusion and suspicion between Muslims and non-Muslims. We have seen the antics of some this year and the latest one is from the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister who is thinking of having mandatory halal and non-halal trolleys in supermarkets.

Thankfully, ever since the proposal came to light, many groups, including Malaysian Muslim Solidarity (Isma), have criticised it.

As Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman opined: It is not practical and “Islam is not about making things difficult”.

Many have also asked: With such thinking, what will follow next? Food courts to have halal and non-halal cutlery? Separate banknotes and coins?

And what about enforcement? Who gets fined if a shopper uses a halal trolley for non-halal items? Said shopper or supermarket owner?

If the minister really wants to help all shoppers, he should insist supermarkets maintain their trolleys well and give them a wash regularly. I have struggled with trolleys with bad wheels, sticky handles and grubby baskets.

Seriously, our leaders have a lot more important things to worry about, like ferreting out more IS recruiters in our schools, armed forces and government, than segregating shopping carts. This is a fight against a deadly, implacable and seductive enemy and we don’t need any distractions like these in the name of religious correctness.

It certainly won’t make us any safer or more Muslim in the eyes of the IS which is intent on annihilating the present world order to replace it with their own.

BY JUNE H.L. WONG

Aunty recalls this memorable line from Aamir Khan’s movie, PK. It is spoken by the central character, an alien stranded on Earth as he clutches the shoe of his friend who was killed in a train bomb blast: ‘Stop protecting your own god, otherwise only shoes will be left on this planet and not people.’ Feedback to aunty@thestar.com.my

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Malaysian Islamic State militants: Dr Mahmud is forming South-East Asian terror bloc; Paris attacks !


Regional faction to unite different terror cells from Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines

KUALA LUMPUR: Wanted Malay­sian IS militants hiding in southern Philippines are planning to form an “official” Islamic State faction in South-East Asia.

The region’s IS faction is also plaanning to unite different terror cells in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

It will include among others the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other terror groups in the region.

Integral in the plan is former Universiti Malaya lecturer Dr Mah­mud Ahmad, who is high on the wanted list for his involvement with the IS along with his cohorts – sundry shop owner Mohd Najib Husen and former Selayang Muni­cipal Council employee Muham­mad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan (pic) said Dr Mahmud, also known as Abu Handzalah, was actively training with the ASG as well as taking part in terror operations in the southern Philippines.

“Intelligence indicates that he was involved in two bomb attacks against the Philippines’ army recently.

“We believe the ASG regards him highly as an asset,” he told The Star yesterday.

But SAC Ayob indicated Dr Mahmud was not content with just being involved with the ASG.

His ultimate goal is to officially form the South-East Asian IS.

“He has performed the bai’ah or the oath of allegiance on video but to form the South-East Asian cell of IS, Dr Mahmud has to travel to Syria and swear his allegiance in front of IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“We discovered through intelligence sharing that going to Syria is his priority now,” he said.

The same could be said for the different terror groups, especially the ASG, where the leaders had also sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr on video, added SAC Ayob.

“These groups are only seen as IS allies, and not an official IS cell,” he said.

He added that if Dr Mahmud’s plans came to fruition, it would spell even more danger to the region with the different terror groups operating under one banner.

“We are cooperating with other security forces in the region, especially the Philippines, to ensure that this will not occur.

“We believe that Dr Mahmud is trying different means to gain safe passage to Syria, including using fake identification documents and passports but we will remain vigilant,” he said.

SAC Ayob said his division was committed towards combating any terror element be it foreign or domestic.

“Our priority is intelligence ga­thering to ensure that we are on top of any development concerning militant groups,” he said.

“We are working with our counterparts in the Philippines to track down and capture Dr Mahmud and his accomplices.”

SAC Ayob, who has been dealing with terrorism matters for more than 20 years, said it was not uncommon for militant scholars or academicians to become leaders like Dr Azahari Hussin and Noordin Mat Top to name a few.

The trio – Dr Mahmud, Mohd Najib and Joraimee – have been on Bukit Aman’s wanted list since April 2014 following their escape to southern Philippines.

SAC Ayob urged anyone with information on militancy to contact the nearest police station or the counter-terrorism division at 03-2266 7010 or 011-2104 6850 or to e-mail CTD.E8M@gmail.com.

BY FARIK ZOLKEPLI The Star/Asia News Network

Ex-lecturer trained with al-Qaeda while studying

KUALA LUMPUR: Wanted militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad was apparently involved in militancy since the 1990s.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan said, at 36, the former Universiti Malaya lecturer was a veteran militant, having trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the late 1990s while he was studying in Pakistan.

“Once he became a university lecturer, he recruited and sent four Malaysians to Syria.

“Prior to joining UM, he used his position as a lecturer at a private college to lure students into militancy,” he told The Star yesterday.

He added that in January last year, Dr Mahmud managed to arrange a meeting between the region’s militant leaders to form the Daulah Islamiyah Asia Tenggara.

“He then followed up by meeting with al-Qaeda elements at a house in Shah Alam in April 2014,” he said.

Sources revealed that Dr Mahmud was responsible for instil­ling extremist ideology and convincing Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki to become the first Malaysian suicide bomber.

“Ahmad Tarmimi’s suicide bomb attack killed 25 special forces personnel in Iraq last year,” one source said.

Dr Mahmud along with his two accomplices – sundry shop owner Mohd Najib Husen and Selayang Mu­­nicipal Council employee Mu­­ham­­mad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39 – fled to southern Philippines on April 22 last year.

It is learnt that the three were also responsible for smuggling three East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement fighters to southern Philippines.

Another source revealed that Mohd Najib could be described as Dr Mahmud’s right-hand man and closest confidant.

“Mohd Najib is also instrumental in arranging various meetings with other militant groups at the behest of Dr Mahmud,” the source said.

The source added that the sundry shop owner had vast experience in militancy and provided Dr Mahmud with the necessary links to other militant groups, including those from Indonesia. – The Star

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Assalamualaikum: Islamisation of Malaysia


The role and impact of Islam in Malaysian politics

In his latest book, former law minister and current opposition party member Zaid Ibrahim explores the nature of political Islamisation and what it means for Malaysia. Photo: The Star/ Izzrafiq Alias

Assalamualaikum: Observations On The Islamisation Of Malaysia

Zaid Ibrahim is quite a character. Lawyer-turned-government-minister-turned-opposition-party-member, and he had time to head his own political party on top of that. That’s quite a CV. That’s someone worth having a teh tarik with.

For the time being, we have to make do with Assalamualaikum, his latest collection of essays exploring the contradiction between the laws of God and the laws of man in Malaysia. Subtitled “Observations on the Islamisation of Malaysia”, it gives a strong indication which side of the fence he sits on.

As with most books, it starts at the beginning, with a brief history of Islam in Malaysia. He focuses on some history in there, and says that Malaysia has now adopted “political Islam”, influenced by a Saudi Wahhabism style. He then contrasts this with practices and policies in other Muslim countries, some of which would also claim to be Islamic despite also seeming more liberal.

The impact of this politicisation is explored further in the second chapter entitled “Education, culture, economy”. It is a sober (some may say “cynical”) view about what happens when you mix religion and politics, and his points are fired as a broadside. “In Malaysia,” he writes, “Islamisation has been the main cause of the deterioration we have seen in our education standards.”

On the cultural transformation in Malaysia, he bemoans the loss of local cultures and festivals since they have been deemed “not Islamic”. He writes, “(Islamists in Malaysia) think that if Malays can remove all traces of the past and embrace Wahhabism, then their world will be truly Islamic. This is what Pol Pot in Cambodia believed too.”

The third chapter is on Shariah law in Malaysia and its apparent clash with the Federal Constitution. Being a lawyer, he delves into some detail in what he sees as a deterioration of the ideals laid out in the Federal Constitution, aided by the willingness of the courts to bow to their political masters (despite the theoretical separation of powers that exists). He posits that Islam has been used as a political tool, writing “it is clear that in Malaysia, the authorities have the power to use Islam as a means of controlling Muslims”.

By the time we reach the book’s conclusion, he presents a sentiment that could apply to any religion: “Islam is perfect, but humanity is not”.

As it is, this book gives a good overview of the role and impact of Islam in Malaysian politics, even if it is intrinsically biased. Unfortunately, in the same way that the author criticises some Islamists as being broad in their understanding but without much depth, Assalamualaikum doesn’t really give the reader great insight into its issues. Apart from some ideas in the chapter on law, things are just boldly stated and are expected to be taken at face value.

Perhaps this apparent brevity is understandable given that it is a collection of essays that cover many topics quickly. But what is truly unfortunate is that it feels like we have not been given the full benefit of the author’s political experience.

This is somebody who has stood on both sides of the political divide, and was even the Law Minister at one point. He would have been privy to a large number of internal debates on the issues and might even have helped shape policy.

From my experience working on projects involving government agencies, what most people understand of how public policy is formed is almost always wrong. What can seem callous and short-sighted is in fact usually tempered by a hundred factors – pressure from conflicting parties, horse-trading to gain benefits elsewhere, even sometimes just the accident of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Much happens out of view, and Zaid must have seen and argued about issues and policies. But he gives almost none of this away.

And when it comes to answering, “What next?” – when his experience would have counted for the most – he chooses not to say anything except to keep fighting the bad ideas and keep talking about the good ones. Apart from his encouragement to support Parti Amanah Nasional in the very last paragraph, there is nothing concrete about how to move forward.

Perhaps Zaid is silent about this because he feels constrained by decorum. Or the Official Secrets Act. Or because he has taken so many sides and seen so many contradictions, that the only opinion he can give with confidence is his own.

Perhaps this is not the last we will hear from him on the subject. I believe he has the eloquence and knowledge to better explain the state of Muslims in Malaysia than is shown in this book. I’ll happily take that, even if it is over a teh tarik.

Review by Dzof Azmi The Star

Zaid: We can be more moderate

Malaysia can be a Muslim country other Muslims can be proud of but first, that opportunity must be taken.

DATUK Zaid Ibrahim takes on critical questions with his latest book, Assalamualaikum: Observations on the Islamisation of Malaysia.

As promised in the jacket blurb, the former de facto Law Minister explores the nature of political Islamisation, its origins, its chief personalities, how it has grown and what it means for Malaysia.

Instead of introducing the religion’s true moral and ethical frameworks, he writes in the preface, Islamisation proposes “to replace them with harsh criminal punishments for Muslims whom the ulama regard as deviationists. Human rights and dignity suffer as a consequence.”

The founder of the largest law firm in the country told Sunday Star he doesn’t understand, for example, why the Syiah are ­treated as enemies of Islam and not proper Muslims, although they are allowed to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca.

“I don’t remember Islam recognising all these categories,” he says. “A Muslim is a Muslim.”

And in the Quran, he points out, “there are a lot of verses about freedom of expression, which remind people that only God knows best. We must be humble enough to accept we can be in error.”

The only way to have a vibrant Islam is to allow an interflow of ideas, he says, but Muslims in Malaysia are not allowed to give public talks about religion without tauliah approved by the Federal Government.

“Even laws of Parliament can be questioned but you can’t do that with religious authorities,” says the lawyer with over three decades of experience.

And if there’s any action taken by any religious department or the syariah courts or there’s any violation of civil liberties or improper conduct, he adds, “the civil courts will not hear anything about it on the grounds that they have no jurisdiction”.

He lists the reasons cited: Islam is the official religion. Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution provides that jurisdiction of civil and syariah courts is separate. And the Constitution does say that Parliament can limit some of the fundamental liberties.

“Our Federal Court is no longer willing to look at whether those limitations are reasonable,” he adds.

Since Islam is a state matter, every state is allowed to legislate on Islamic matters but, Zaid says, “there is no common definition of what is unIslamic, what is hukum syarak”.

For example, Selangor and Penang have gazetted fatwa that smoking is haram and Selangor, Pahang and Penang have issued fatwa declaring Amanah Saham Bumiputra and Amanah Saham Nasional as haram.

“There is a lack of uniformity and yet these diverse personalities controlling the state can impact on your basic liberties and basic rights,” he says.

“There has to be precision and specific meanings. You cannot say it is whatever the authorities decide, because you also have a duty to protect the Constitution, human rights and dignity.”

Coming from Kelantan, Zaid writes about Puja Umor and Puja Pantai, which were later banned.

“If you want to insulate yourself against extremism and violence like Islamic State’s,” he argues, “you must allow people that freedom to cultivate and base themselves in their culture and tradition.”

He wrote the book, he says, in the hope of encouraging “an Islam which is kind, forgiving, compassionate, wants to live with everyone in peace and cares about the welfare of others and not only personal interest. That should be the guiding force of the country.”

If that kind of Islam shaped the laws, he says, “our laws would then become more open, liberal-minded and more inclined towards encouraging freedom of thought which is what Islam, at least in its golden years, is about”.

But so far, Malaysia has abandoned its chance to showcase a truly Islamic renaissance, Zaid believes.

“We could have built a moderate Muslim country other Muslims could have been proud of, but we have not taken that opportunity.”

By Santha Oorjitham The Star

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MH370 may rest in Filipino jungle?


MH370 may rest in Filipino jungle: report

The missing MH370 plane may be crashed in a Philippines jungle, according to news.

KUALA LUMPUR: The police have reached out to its Filipino counterparts amidst a report claiming that an aircraft wreckage, with a Malaysian flag inside, was discovered in the jungles of a remote island in the Philippines.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said Sunday that police were seeking the assistance from the Filipino authorities to validate the report, which was lodged by a 46-year-old man on behalf of his relative who allegedly found the wreckage while hunting for birds at Sugbay Island in Tawi Tawi.

In confirming the report, Khalid said: “There was no photograph to support the claim so we are relying on our counterpart to check.”

Khalid added that it would take one or two days before the claim could be verified.

On Saturday, the audiovisual technician reported to Sandakan police that a visiting relative from Sugbay Island had stumbled upon aircraft wreckage there in early September.

In the report the man said the relative and a few others were hunting for birds when they spotted the wreckage on the island.

They managed to get near the wreckage where they found human bones. They also found skeletal remains in the pilot’s chair with the seat belt fastened.

Before leaving the area, they took a flag they found in the wreckage.

The man said he informed police as the wreckage could be that of an airplane that disappeared last year.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said they were investigating the man’s claims and are still trying to verify their authenticity.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 disappeared in March last year en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board, most of them China nationals.

The incident triggered one of the largest searches for an aircraft focusing in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Anger and disbelief from MH370 China relatives over debris

Photo Source: AFP, Reuters, Linfo.re/Antenne Reunion

5 of 42

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/malaysia-checking-report-possible-mh370-wreckage-found-philippines#sthash.dZDAuBFt.EGznjFHf.dpuf

Last month, French authorities confirmed a piece of wing found on the shore of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean as being from MH370.

The flaperon was found on the shore of the French-governed island on July 29 and Malaysian authorities have said paint colour and maintenance-record matches proved it came from the missing Boeing 777 aircraft.

By BY NADIRAH H. RODZI The Star

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22 Jan 2014

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MH370: Aircraft debris found on La Reunion is from missing Malaysia Airlines flight


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) attends a press conference on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 6, 2015. Verification had confirmed that the debris discovered on the Reunion Island belongs to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced here early on Thursday. (Xinhua/Chong Voon Chung)

Video: http://english.cntv.cn/2015/08/06/VIDE1438813440891595.shtml
http://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) — Verification had confirmed that the debris discovered on Reunion Island belongs to missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced early Thursday.

“Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370,” the prime minister said.

“We now have physical evidence that, as I announced on 24th March last year, flight MH370 tragically ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” Najib said.

“This is indeed a major breakthrough for us in resolving the disappearance of MH370. We expect and hope that there would be more objects to be found which would be able to help resolve this mystery.”

The airlines will update the families and cooperate with the authorities, he added.

The prime minister said his country remains dedicated to finding out what had happened on board the flight. “I would like to assure all those affected by this tragedy that the government of Malaysia is committed to doing everything within our means to find out the truth of what happened.”

Meanwhile, the Malaysia Airlines said the finding had been confirmed jointly by the French Authorities, the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the Malaysian investigation team, the technical representatives from China and the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) in Toulouse, France.

The debris was discovered on Reunion Island on July 29 and was officially identified as part of a plane wing known as a flaperon from a Boeing 777.

Prior to the latest discovery, a massive surface and underwater hunt had failed to find the plane in what has become one of the biggest mysteries in the aviation history.

The plane went missing on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 on board, most of them Chinese. – Xinhua

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