Monday, June 30, 2014

Understand The Jihad Concept, Advice For Muslims

An Islamic scholar says Muslims should understand the concept of 'jihad' so as not to be easily influenced and deceived in their eagerness to struggle for Islam to obtain 'pahala' (God's reward).

Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad, who is the mufti of Kelantan, said many understood the meaning of jihad from the orientalist viewpoint that associated it with 'holy war', meaning opposing non-Muslim adversaries.

"That is why it is not suitable to use jihad in the context of the issue in Syria because it is between Muslims, and it is unfair for us to declare the opponents as non-Muslims.

"If the war prolongs, it will bring greater harm to the people there, particularly the women, children and the elderly," he said .
 The dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC), International Islamic University, Malaysia, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Abdul Majid, said misunderstanding of the jihad concept could lead to Muslims getting involved in extremist activitie.

"Muslims in the country should enhance their understanding of jihad to avoid confusion that could result in them applying the jihad concept inappropriately," he added.

On the involvement of several Malaysians in the Syrian conflict, Mahmood Zuhdi, who is also chairman of the Council of the Deans of Islamic Studies in the Public Institutes of Higher Learning, said there were other ways for Muslims in Malaysia to undertake the jihad.

He said jihad had a broad meaning and encompassed various aspects, including thought, energy, property and education.

"One can also undertake the jihad in Malaysia, although in a different way from the people's understanding of that in Syria. For example, Muslims here can undertake the jihad for the economy because our economy is still lagging.

"They can also undertake the jihad for greater unity of the people because there is still room for building a strong and united Muslim community," he added.

The former mufti of Perlis, Dr Asri Zainul Abidin, said there was no need for Muslims to undertake the jihad to the extent of them going to Syria if they did not have a clear picture of the situation there.

"They may encounter problems, such as language barrier and may have to rely on an interpreter, and if that person lies to gain sympathy, they will be deceived,' he added.

He said that even the ulama (Islamic scholars) in Syria had advised Muslims against supporting the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) because the war was between Muslims and hence not in line with the jihad concept.

"Our religion says we can criticise, oppose or have different opinions among Muslims, but we cannot kill one another, and there are other ways to resolve disputes," he added.

He said if Muslims truly wanted to undertake the jihad, they could do so in matters that were much clearer, like the Palestinian cause.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pua to Khalid: Stop blaming Syabas, DAP MP calls for 'Plan B'

 KHALID UNDER ATTACK FROM PAKATAN LEADERS.

A responsible and caring Pakatan Rakyat government should do much more than just “blame Syabas” for the water crisis, according to DAP MP Tony Pua.


Instead of arranging a lesson for him on “what the state has done” and “why Syabas is to blame”, he said it might be more important for Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and state officials to pay a visit to the families queuing up with pails to draw water from the supply tanks. 

“I am certain these residents will be extremely keen to hear about it,” he said in a statement on Sunday, hitting out at the Mentri Besar for the second time this week.


Pua said that the MB may be right in pointing fingers at Syabas for the water issues, but no explanation was given as to why the state government was so quick to "guarantee" that there would not be any major water disruption.


“Some residents might wonder as to why the state government was so quick to offer 'guarantees' when the state is fully aware that Syabas has refused to cooperate or even attend state organised meetings,” he said.


He added that even if the state government was unable to fulfil its promises, it should come up with ways to provide immediate assistance to those affected by the water issue.


“Should we not have some empathy and put in place a ‘Plan B’ for these long suffering water disruption victims?

“Surely, a responsible and caring Pakatan Rakyat state government should do much more than just blame Syabas - even if they are indeed the rightful party to be blamed,” he said.

Pua also said that he fully supported Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming’s suggestion for a water task force comprising the Mentri Besar, key elected representatives and state officials to find and review solutions for the water woes.


“This committee will not only give the state authorities the opportunity to teach us ignorant elected representatives of the issue, but also allow the local assemblymen to share with the top state leaders the problems and pains felt on the ground so that a solution, particularly in the short-term, can be found,” Pua said, taking a jibe at Khalid who had earlier said that the DAP MP should learn more about the water issue before doling out criticism. 


“While waiting for the state to finally take over control of Syabas, we cannot just sit back and allow Syabas to make a mockery of the Pakatan Rakyat government,” Pua said.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Drinking Fruit Juices Early Morning Can Conserve Energy, Say Dietitians (Ramadhan)

Drinking fruit juice during the sahur meal will ensure that Muslims are energized and remain healthy throughout the day during the fasting month of Ramadan, according to dietitians.

Head of Department of Dietetics and Catering Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), Ridzoni Sulaiman, said drinking fresh fruit juice could prevent the body from becoming dehydrated when fasting.

Fruit juice contains a variety of nutrients such as vitamins, potassium and glucose, and serves as a significant source of energy for the body, he told Bernama recently.

"Actually, the feeling of exhaustion, tiredness and sleepiness is due to lack of water in the body rather than lack of food. When dehydration occurs, our body loses water and minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate and so on, thus water plays an important role in our body," he added.

Considering that this time Ramadan has fallen during the Southwest Monsoon season with hot and dry spells, along with the haze and the forecast that El Nino will occur in the middle of the year, it is necessary to ensure the supply of water in the body is constantly maintained.

Ridzoni said people should also avoid drinking coffee or tea during the fasting month because the drinks have a deuretic effect.

Meanwhile, School of Health Sciences Campus Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Dietetics Officer, Mohd Hairil Nizam Abdul Hamid, agreed that adequate water intake was very important during the hot spell when fasting.

Seventy per cent of the body's composition is made up of water, it is a major constituent of our bodies and vital organs and lack of water can cause health problems.

"The body needs at least eight glasses of water a day to keep the body's cells functioning properly. Lack of water can cause kidney problems, fainting and dizzy spells," he said.

He also advised people to eat a balanced diet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cabinet Reshuffle- Liow and Mah full ministers.

MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has been appointed the new Transport Minister, while his deputy Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong have been appointed Ministers in the Prime Minister's Department.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced this at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Najib also announced that three MCA vice-presidents were appointed as deputy ministers.

Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun is Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Chua Tee Yong is Deputy Finance Minister and Datuk Lee Chee Leong is Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister.
Chew and Lee will be made Senators.
"Representatives from MCA are returning to represent the Chinese community, and representatives from Gerakan are returning to the Cabinet," said Najib when unveiling the additions to the current line-up.
At the press conference, Najib agreed that there will be an increase in Cabinet portfolios due to MCA's re-think of its previous stance of not holding Cabinet posts after its performance in the 13th general election.

"We have to take into account the interests of all communities, that our promises to the people will be adhered to," said Najib.
He said he did not plan to have such a large Cabinet, but joked that "no one has volunteered to leave Cabinet."
Najib said the swearing-in ceremony would be conducted at Istana Negara before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at 11.30am Friday.

Stripping MAIS Of Its Authority Akin To Belittling The Sultan

The calls by PAS that the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) be stripped off its authority over the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS), denigrates the role of the Sultan as the head of Islam in the state.

The calls to curtail MAIS' authority came after the council did not agree with the Selangor state executive council's order for JAIS to return the 300 over bibles it confiscated from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) in January.

On June 17, four PAS Parliamentarians - Khalid Abdul Samad (Shah Alam), Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Kota Raja), Hanipa Maidin (Sepang) and Che Rosli Che Mat (Hulu Langat) urged the Selangor State Government to abolish executive powers from MAIS, so that it no longer has authority over JAIS.

The move is to free the Selangor state government from the MAIS' authority in administering Islam in the state.

However, the calls have incensed the Muslims who fear MAIS may end up a victim of a vicious political game, and that the move reflected the continuous onslaught on Islam of late.

AN UNWISE PROPOSAL

A senior lecturer with the Al-Quran and Al-Sunnah Studies Department at the Islamic Studies Faculties in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Dr Fadlan Mohd Othman in commenting on the matter said any proposal to strip MAIS of its authority is not a wise move.

"Those who want to see MAIS' wings clipped are those who fail to see the real picture as the move will weaken the Islamic administration in the state," he said to Bernama.

He pointed out further that it was highly inappropriate and improper to undermine the state religious councils as the councils operate under the powers vested on the Sultan as the head of Islam.

Fadlan noted that there were two school of thoughts over this call, it is part of the freedom of expression as espoused in a democratic nation or an affront to the Sultan.

"Even if it is about freedom of expression, the elected representatives have to behave ethically and with great respect. I do not know why the elected representatives from PAS made such unwise proposal," he said.

AN ATTEMPT TO MOCK THE SULTAN?

Fadlan, who is also the Chairman of the Malaysian Young Ulema Congregation (Ilmu), believed that the call made by PAS to strip off MAIS' of its authority is akin to belittling the Sultan.

In fact, the Selangor Chapter of the Council of Former Elected Representatives Malaysia (Mubarak) voiced its opposition over the calls to curtail MAIS' authority.

Mubarak Selangor was reported saying that MAIS and JAIS, established to administer and advocate Islam in Selangor, had carried out their roles and responsibilities effectively.

"As Islam in the state comes under the purview of the Sultan of Selangor, the call not only belittles the powers of his highness but also of all Malay rulers.

"Mubarak Selangor emphasizes that all elected representatives in Selangor should show their loyalty to the state and the sultan," said Mubarak Selangor.

Prior to this, the Attorney-General's Chambers announced there would not be any prosecution related to the seizure of the Bibles, simultaneously closed the case.

Subsequently, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim ordered JAIS to return the Bibles to BSM.

Nevertheless, on June 14 MAIS disagreed with the Selangor Government's directive, clarifying it was outside the jurisdiction of the state government.

Jakim proposes course for Muslim married couples aimed at reducing divorce rate

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has proposed for married Muslim couples to attend a post-marriage course aimed at strengthening the family institution and reducing the divorce rate in the country.

Jakim Family, Social and Community Development director Zakuan Sawai said his division had prepared a working paper on the proposal for the concurrence of the state Islamic Religious departments.

"The proposal seeks, among others, to compel Muslim married couples to attend the three-day, two-night course which focuses on domestic issues, marital relationship and children upbringing," he said Wednesday.

Zakuan said the course, in four phases, targeted couples that have been married for one to five years, six to 10 years, and 11 to 20 years and above.

The emphasis, he added, was mainly on couples married for one to five years, as a study done by the department found this group to experience the most instances of marital discord.

"This is because they are still in the process of familiarising themselves with one another," he noted.
He said efforts to develop the course were initiated in 2012 and a pilot project was currently being held here to obtain public feedback on the present module.

"The course is introduced to civil servants before being expanded to the public," he said.

He said the course vastly differed from the pre-marriage course as it dwelled more liberally on marital issues including husband-wife health and relationship.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Najib Spells Out Six Principles As Recipe To Strengthen Umno

Najib who is also the Prime Minister said it is the loyalty that can be seen in Umno as the main characteristic of true Malays.

The Prime Minister also underlined a '6K' formula as the recipe to ensure Umno remained strong and relevant, namely Obedient (Ketaatan), Loyalty (Kesetiaan), Bravery (Keberanian), Unity (Kesetiakawan), Excellence (Kebijaksanaan) and Sincere (Keikhlasan).

Najib said this after attending the Cheras Umno division's 20th anniversary celebrations at a leading hotel, last night.

Also present were his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Umno vice president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Cheras Umno division chairman Datuk Seri Syed Ali Alhabshee.

"Loyalty must not only be to the party but to the country as well, be brave to face the challenges, must have the ability to adopt to changes and follow the rapid changes in the social media and technology.

"We cannot just go into a battle without being prepared for the technical advancement. If there are people who are using the Facebook to challenge us, we must fight back using the Facebook. If they use online, we must also know how to fight back via online," he said.

Najib later launched a book titled 'Buku Minda Syed Ali' and a special bulletin to commemorate Cheras Umno's 20th year anniversary.
Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the main recipe for Umno to continue prospering is to ensure Umno members are loyal to Allah and the Prophet, as well as Ulul Amri who is their leader.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Federal Court denies The Herald leave to appeal ban on use of 'Allah'

Catholic weekly, The Herald, has failed to get leave from the Federal Court to challenge the Home Ministry over the ban on the use of the word “Allah”.

Chief Justice Ariffin Zakaria, who chaired a seven-man panel on Monday, held this in a majority decision.

This is the first time that such a large panel has sat to hear and determine the application for leave.

Wisma Putra Disappointed Over US Trafficking In Persons Report 2014

Wisma Putra has expressed disappointment over the United States (US) State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 released in Washington DC on June 20, which downgraded Malaysia to Tier 3 from the previous standing of the Tier 2 Watch List.

It said Malaysia was serious and committed in addressing human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

"This commitment is manifested through the significant efforts undertaken to improve the existing mechanisms and effectively combat this heinous crime.

"Despite claims that Malaysia made insufficient progress and improvement in areas of prosecution, prevention and protection, on the contrary, Malaysia has consistently pursued measures and initiatives in addressing the issues of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants," it said in a press statement here Sunday.

The US State Department itself, in this 2014 report acknowledged these positive measures in efforts to protect victims, where certain victims of labour trafficking were allowed to reside and work in Malaysia.

"Malaysia believes that information used in the preparation of the Report was flawed, inaccurate and did not reflect measures and steps taken by the respective Malaysian authorities to counter the scourge of trafficking in persons in Malaysia, as a whole.

"We also believe that the source of the information used by the authorities in the United States of America were not credible. Relying on unverified information, provided by dubious organisations, might have led to this conclusion in the Report," Wisma Putra said in the statement.

Malaysia has a long and distinguished record of being temporary home to migrants from the South East Asia region and beyond.

Currently, it is estimated that 35,000 Rohingyas call Malaysia home and Malaysia has done everything permitted under its domestic laws to ease the sufferings of these migrants, with the hope that they would be resettled in a third country or choose to return to their homes when the situation improves.

"While Malaysia has been doing everything expected from a responsible member of the international community to address the issue of trafficking in persons, irrespective of nationality, it should not be expected to carry out a policy of treating migrants better than its own nationals," said the statement.

According to the statement, a new policy, which came into effect on March 1 this year, allows victims of labour trafficking who do not require further care and protection at shelter homes, to work and reside in Malaysia.

Malaysia, in November last year, also launched the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for enforcement agencies as a source of reference.

"This SOP also serves as a guideline for enforcement officers in combating trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants that will eventually lead to increase in criminal convictions.

"In addition to these new measures, in March 2014, the Malaysian Government finalised the establishment of a shelter home in Bandar Sri Damansara, as well as approved seed funding amounting to more than RM800,000 for the operation of the shelter home," noted the statement.

On the bilateral front, Wima Putra said Malaysia had signed memoranda of understanding on transnational organised crime with Bangladesh, Canada, People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

"At the regional level, Malaysia through Asean, plays a pivotal role in curbing trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrant activities...in the ambit of the main domestic laws relating to trafficking in persons.

"In this light, the US State Department should reconsider its assessment on Malaysia, taking into account the measures that are currently being implemented, including the efforts underlined," said Wisma Putra.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tengku Adnan Calls For Umno, BN Members Not To Cause Divisions

Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno members have been asked not to make any speculations, or get easily influenced by rumours, about the alleged resignation of party leaders, which can only cause divisions in the party.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said BN and Umno members must stay united in showing their support to the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in leading the country towards becoming a fully-developed nation.

"Let's not become the factors for the divisions, our country is moving forward. We want to become a fully-developed nation, there are many agenda that need to be solved."

He told reporters after opening Mosquito-Free Federal Territories Programme organised by Yayasan Kesejahteraan Bandar and Seri Semarak PPR Residents Association here Saturday.

On the allegation made by an Umno member, who is also Federal Territories BN division secretary, that Muhyiddin would take a long leave and that Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein would be acting in the position temporarily, Tengku Adnan said:

"This kind of person, he did not like it if Umno is calm, if BN is calm. The BN government is discharging its duties in a responsible and trustworthy manner. I don't know what will happen to our country because there are too many of them. Maybe they want to see our country destroyed," he said.

Yesterday, the prime minister said the report that went viral in the social media about his deputy's possible resignation was just a political provocation by certain quarters.

Najib said that as the Umno deputy president and BN deputy chairman, Muhyiddin had worked well with him in all aspects to strengthen and enhance the struggles of Umno and the BN and that this was an ongoing effort which demanded much more to be done by him and Muhyiddin.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ramadan new moon to be sighted on June 27

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Freedom of Faith, DAP Style: Islam is Always the Problem

DAP is not a multi-racial party, nor it is a party that fights for the people or the country. DAP is a Chinese party and it only fights for the Chinese and Christians. This is a fact that DAP is consistently denying but clearly practicing. DAP’s ultimate enemy is none other but anything or everything that spells ‘Islam’, such as UMNO, Malays or Muslims.

However, DAP has no problem with PAS, a party that bears the name ‘Islam’. It must be because PAS is only ‘Islamic’ by name, but in real life, PAS is more than happy in helping DAP to uphold Christianity. (Before you argue, please take note that PAS kicked Datuk Hassan Ali out for the sake of the apostates, remember?)

It is common in Malaysia that whenever Islam or Muslims are being attacked, DAP will either ignore the incident or take sides with the attacker. It is almost like Islam should have no rights in this majority Muslim country, in the eyes of DAP.

Who could have forgotten the case of a woman, alleged to be a Chinese citizen, forced to do ear squat naked, in a police lockup? DAP took the case very seriously and was determined to help the woman…until they found out that the woman was actually a Malay – Muslim. After that, there was no more talk about defending or helping the woman but only about how to explain the mistaken identity.

When Namewee decided to have fun by condemning and insulting Islam, Malaysia, and the Malay-led government to the lowest level, there was only praises by DAP. However, when an UMNO guy decided to retaliate and pointed out the historical facts of the Chinese being the descendents of the ‘pendatang’, DAP was quick to take it by heart and was ready to go to war with UMNO.

I’m sure we all remember too well that there was not a sound heard from DAP about ‘human rights’ or ‘justice’ or ‘freedom of faith’ in the case of a Muslim-convert singer being told by the chinese management officers to take off her ‘tudung’ if she wanted to perform in their company event.
The list of DAP’s anti-Islam practice could just go on and on.

In view of this, we cannot expect DAP to be fair in their opinions on the latest battle of child custody between a Muslim-convert father and a Hindu mother. On the 29 October 2009, the Syaria court had given the custody of the three children of M Indira Gandhi and Mohd Ridzuan to Mohd Ridzuan. The decision was then reversed by the High Court on March 11, 2010.

The conflicting decision leads the case to an appeal at the Federal Court.

The Prime Minister, when asked about the matter had suggested the same but there is really
no use in using the Law or factual arguments with Islam-haters. ‘Justice’ for these haters is when Islam lose and others win. As expected, the pro-opposition media are already pointing fingers everywhere, including at the Prime Minister for suggesting that the case be taken to the Federal Court.

DAP is of course, the most vocal in expressing opinions over the issue. Ever since the case made headlines, Lim Kit Siang has been talking about Islam in almost every post in his blog. It is not hard to see what Kit Siang is trying to point out. Kit Siang is in a way saying that ‘Islam’ is the problem here, by saying that the Muslims are the real problem.

The problem will only be solved should there be no Syaria Court, no Syaria Law and no clause in the constitution that says that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. Better yet if there are no Muslims at all in Malaysia.

And this is what Kit Siang and DAP is fighting for; then, now and forever; and we better not forget that.

Social Media Fosters 1Malaysia Spirit

The social media today controls the world of communications.

Families and friends use them to reconnect, maintain connections, hold meetings and organise events.

Even the heads of states today have their own social media page, and use it to reach out to their people.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself has dedicated Facebook, Twitter and blog pages to help open more channels of communications with the people.

Some believe that social media networks have the power to even foster interracial relations, thus strengthening the 1Malaysia spirit.

SMARTPHONES CONNECT PEOPLE

A social science undergraduate from the International Islamic University Malaysia Khairun Nizam Hosen, 23, said that smartphones help in forging friendship among the races in Malaysia.

The proliferation of social media apps can be attributed to the advent of smartphones.

"Smartphones have become somewhat of a must among young people, regardless of race, due to their need to constantly remain connected with others. Its use is made easy with the availability of WiFis in many public places nowadays," he said.

He said the 1Malaysia spirit is nurtured on social networks due to the platforms' ability to garner support towards a common cause.

A private sector worker, Vishnu Morgan, 30, said the technological revolution not only aided communication but also improved the social system.

"Applications like Facebook not only allows us to track down old school friends, but can be used to build businesses," he said.

Vishnu said the variety of communicational technologies today could easily be used as a medium to nurture interracial unity in Malaysia.

AVOID RACIAL DEBATES

On the other hand, as a platform that allows multiple users to communicate instantaneously, social media have also availed a kind of freedom that sometimes results in irresponsible speech.

Yong Cheng Yun, 28, said some users took the opportunity to spread false information that can threaten the peace and harmony of a society or nation.

He called on the people to be calm and rational when confronted with controversial information that could potentially cause disunity or unrest between the races.

"Preserving the country's peace and security is our joint responsibility," he said.

Yong who hails from Raub, Pahang, said the social media could be used to foster interracial unity by organising social activities online, such as marathons or blood donation drives.

REMAIN CALM AND RATIONAL

Meanwhile, Norisuwanah Jaffar, 28, did not deny that every citizen had the right and freedom of speech.

However, the lass from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, said it did not mean they could voice out opinions without considering its effect on the country's peace and security.

"Malaysia is a developing country. Its people should be able to think for the long term and protect the nation's image," she added.

Monday, June 16, 2014

JAKIM Employs Stringent Procedure In Determining Halal Status

The recent brouhaha over claims that certain chocolates from a leading multinational confectionery contained porcine (pig) DNA and the subsequent denial of the claim piqued public curiosty on how the Halal status is determined and who are the parties behind it.

Also why there were two agencies - the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Chemistry Department - involved in determining the Halal status and which one is the most authoritative source?

According to the Director of the Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), Datuk Othman Mustapha, only the findings of the Chemistry Department could be taken into consideration in the Malaysian Halal Certification Procedure Manual (MPPHM) as only the department has the expertise to conduct highly specialised tests.

ACCREDITED BY THE STANDARDS DEPARTMENT

He said the Chemistry Department laboratory has been gazatted as a competent food laboratory in conducting analysis on food. The department is also accredited by Malaysia Standards Department under the Malaysia Laboratory Accreditation Scheme based on the Standard MS ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 for DNA testing.

Meanwhile, the MoH's lab has been accredited by the Standards Department to conduct tests on meat and seafood based products and not processed food.

Othman pointed out the test conducted by the Ministry are solely on samples available on the market, that could have been contaminated.

Food samples should come from the factory right from the onset of the manufacturing process, taking into account the raw ingredients, the process flow, storage, and the machines and equipment used.

"The analysis to determine the Halal/haram status is not an easy one. The society may think it is really easy, put the sample under the microscope and straight away look for the presence of the incriminating DNA.

"In fact it is a highly technical process and calls for close observation and stringent procedure, in line with the Halal concept of 'from the farm to the dining table' to ensure nothing is left out scrutiny," Othman said in an interview at his office in Putrajaya.

CAREFUL AUDIT

In getting the Halal seal, the onus is on the owner of the product to kick start the certification process.

Othman pointed out that it starts with the product owner applying for the Halal status through the e-Halal system and only then the evaluation processes begins.

They have to declare all their products and ingredients used including the supplier of the ingredients and whether the suppliers have the Halal certification or otherwise.

"If all the raw ingredients have the Halal certification from JAKIM or recognised foreign counterparts, the certification can be used as supporting documents.

"We are very careful about this. If are doubtful on the ingredient, we will take samples and send to the Chemistry Department for auditing before granting any approval," he said.

He said the auditing will also be carried out at the processing plants to ensure the Halal aspects are conformed with.

"The ingredients will be counter checked to see whether they have been declared including through the purchase invoices and prove of purchase and the use of the products.

"The manufacturing process is also emphasized including the process flow, equipment, the cleanliness relating to the environment and the workers," Othman said.

SPOT CHECKS

Othman noted that JAKIM has made it mandatory for multinational firms to put in place a Halal guarantee system or appoint an in-house Halal executive to monitor the manufacturing process and ensure that the process conforms with the Halal requirement.

"Recently we agreed that the firms should conduct their own monitoring by sending the samples of the ingredients to the accredited labs," he said.

Even after the Halal certification is issued, surprise checks are conducted at the premises at least once a year.

As for companies in the high risk sector, the ones involved meat and poultry based products, oil and fats, abattoirs, and those without Halal control system , without Halal executive or internal Halal committee, surprise checks will be conducted a number times each year.

If there is public complaints, JAKIM along with enforcement agencies like the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, MoH, Veternary Services Department, Customs and local authorities will conduct surprise checks.

"Follow-up verification will also be conducted if measures have been taken to correct the problems for failing to conform with the MPPHM," he said.

He pointed out that warnings would be given for minor violations and if it involves serious violations the Halal certification could be withdrawn for good.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Jais: Bibles are proof of misuse of term Allah

The Malay language Bibles seized by the Selangor Religious Department (Jais) from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) cannot be returned because they are proof of the misuse of the term Allah, said state Mufti Datuk Mohd Tamyes Abd Wahid.

They were “strong evidence” that BSM had contravened the state enactment on the use of the word Allah, said Mohd Tamyes, who was present in the meeting between the Selangor Religious Council (Mais) and Jais when the decision not to return the Bibles was made.
“How can we return something which has been classified as evidence?” said Mohd Tamyes when contacted.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim recently directed Jais to return the Bibles following the decision by Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail not to proffer any charge against the society as the Bibles were not considered a threat to national security.

When contacted yesterday, Abdul Gani said people were entitled to their opinions and “I have already said my piece”.

Reacting to the development, MCA Youth legal bureau chairman Choo Wei Sern said the state Islamic authorities’ decision was a serious threat to the administration of justice in the country.

“Given the clarification by the A-G that the Bibles did not breach any legislation, it is only right that they be returned.

“It is a serious disrespect for the laws and for the rights of every Malaysian to practise and preach their religious beliefs in accor­dance with the Federal Cons­ti­tution,” he said.

Syariah law practitioner Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Ahmad said Mais and Jais did not have any reason to hold on to the Bibles.

He said the decision to initiate criminal prosecution lay with the A-G and since Abdul Gani had decided not to pursue the matter, the Bibles could no longer be regarded as evidence.

“If there is no prosecution, how can the Bibles be regarded as evidence?” Dr Abdul Shukor said.
Meanwhile, the Malay Islamic NGO Alliance has come out in support of Mais and Jais.

Its spokesman Muhammad Mustaffa Hamzah said the alliance felt that Gani’s decision not to pro­secute the BSM did not take se­­riously the need to protect the sanctity of Islam as the nation’s official religion.

100 Days: Government Reaffirms Commitment With Renewed Vigor To Locate Missing MH370

The government has reaffirmed its commitment with renewed vigor to locate the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, 100 days after it went missing.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein also gave assurance that the government would continue to do its utmost in this search and to leave no stone unturned.

"One-hundred days after MH370 went missing, its loss remains a painful void in the hearts of all Malaysians and those around the world. We cannot and will not rest until MH370 is found.

"We cannot and will not abandon the families of the crew and passengers of MH370. We will, with the grace of God, find this missing plane and so with it, begins the process of healing," he said in a statement here Saturday.

Hishammuddin said Malaysia was fortunate as it was not alone in this and as such, he would like to convey his special thanks to Malaysia's Tripartite partners - Australia and China - as well as ASEAN neighbours, the United States and members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

Hishammuddin also said that he believed Malaysia would be credited for doing the best to its ability under near-impossible circumstances and history would judge the country favourably for that.

"More than 14 weeks have passed since the Malaysian government first coordinated the search operations for the missing plane. This search effort is unprecedented in sheer scale and complexity involving 26 countries at its peak.

"Malaysia, a small but proud nation, has pioneered the way - not without criticism, showing the world that we can all work together, in the greater spirit of humanity and camaraderie," he said.

He said incidents like this had reminded everybody about the fragility of life, and to value the ties that bind them together.

"As a father, on Father's Day, I understand the anguish the family members are going through. No words could ease the pain of not knowing what had happened to your loved ones.

"As always, my deepest sympathies and kindest thoughts remain with the family members - wherever they may be.

"In these trying times, we are united in our prayers, resolute in our faith, especially as the holy month of Ramadan beckons, as we continue to hope against hope in seeking a closure to the darkest chapter in recent global aviation history," he said.

Hishammuddin also conveyed his sincerest appreciation to the men and women who had risked their lives at the forefront in contributing to the largest search effort to date.

"On behalf of the Malaysian people, we thank you for your sacrifices and we will continue to pray for your safety in navigating the unchartered waters," he said.

The MH370 flight with 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing in the morning of March 8 about an hour after departing from the KL International Airport at 12.41am enroute to Beijing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Declining Majorities For Opposition A Silver Lining For BN?

The political landscape in the country remains unpredictable though it is more than a year now since the 13th General Election was held on May 5, 2013.

Since then, the country also witnessed six by-elections - two Parliamentary by-elections namely Bukit Gelugor in Penang and Teluk Intan in Perak and four state assembly seats - Kuala Besut (Terengganu), Sungai Limau (Kedah), Kajang (Selangor) and Balingian (Sarawak).

Barisan Nasional (BN) contested in five by-elections except Bukit Gelugor parliamentary seat, while at the opposition Pakatan Rakyat side Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) contested in two seats (Kajang and Balingian), DAP another two seats (Bukit Gelugor and Teluk Intan) and another two (Kuala Besut and Sungai Limau) by PAS.

While BN won in Kuala Besut, Balingian and Teluk Intan, PAS won the Sungai Limau state seat, PKR won the Kajang state seat and DAP won the Bukit Gelugor Parliament seat.

However, political observers have noted a trend in the by-election outcomes. Wherever the opposition won, its majority has been reduced while BN's vote count has increased. Now, one will ask is there any significance in this?

A CLOSER ANALYSIS

In the Sungai Limau by-election, though PAS succeeded in maintaining the seat, the majority garnered by its candidate Mohd Azam Abd Samat witnessed a whopping 61 per cent reduction whereby he only managed to record a 1,084-vote. This is a stark contrast to the 2,774-vote majority recorded by his predecessor Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak, the former Kedah Menteri Besar.

The same happened in the Kajang by-election, when PKR President Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan won with a 5,379-majority compared with the 6,824-majority won by the predecessor from the same party, Lee Chin Cheh, during GE13.

Dr Wan Azizah's majority was 14.4 per cent or 1,445 votes less in the March 23 by-election.

While the late veteran politician and prominent barrister the late Karpal Singh recorded the third highest majority of 42,706 votes in GE13, in the following by-election in Bukit Gelugor held after his demise in a road accident, his son Ramkarpal Singh saw the majority reduced by 12 per cent.

Ramkarpal only managed a decent 37,659 votes despite of the initial anticipation that he will record a bigger margin due to the sympathy vote factor for the 'Tiger of Jelutong'.

IS THIS A POSITIVE SIGN FOR BN?

Can BN take for granted that the declining majority for the opposition is an early indicator that the voters are returning to its fold once again?

A senior lecturer with the Social Science and Humanities Faculty at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Associate Professor Datuk Dr Samsul Adabi Mamat in elaborating on this said it is a positive development for BN.

Nonetheless, it could not be taken for granted that the tides were changing in favour of BN.

"The increase in support for BN may be as temporary development. Rationalising the mindset of the voters is the most important element and this is what could provide the silver lining for the next general election.

"What we have seen in these by-elections are just early indicators," he said to Bernama.

BN MAJORITY ON THE RISE

The three seats won by BN from the six by-elections - the Kuala Besut and Balingian state seats and the Teluk Intan Parliamentary seat recorded from big to small majority but the implications remain significant.

In Kuala Besut, BN managed to increase its majority by 0.06 per cent or 158 votes, with its candidate Tengku Zaihan Che Ku Abdul Rahman receiving a 2,592-majority compared with his predecessor the late Dr A. Rahman Mokhtar who received 2,434 votes.

In Sarawak, it was a different story altogether when BN's candidate for the Balingian state constituency Yussibnosh Balo, 48, scored a whopping 38 per cent increase in the majority, that is 6,911 votes, even outdoing his predecessor former Chief Minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud who only had a 5,154-majority.

In Teluk Intan, BN's candidate Datuk Mah Siew Keong managed to wrestle the Parliament seat from DAP with a small margin of 238 votes.

Mah, 53, received 20,157 votes compared with Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, 27, who received 19,919 votes, a difference of 0.012 per cent.

Samsul Adabi noted that while the improving vote count for BN might indicate changing voter sentiments, there was still more to be done to ensure this favourable momentum for BN is maintained and enhanced up to the next general election.

"BN cannot view this scenario with complacency as the increasing support seen in the by-elections is not significant as yet," he said.

IMPROVE IN SUPPORT

However, what could be the other reasons behind declining majority for the opposition? Is there an element of sabotage within?

Elaborating on this, Samsul Adabi noted that there were also the dissatisfaction factor that helped to channel votes towards BN.

He provided the Teluk Intan by-election as a good example, where the Chinese who gave their whole-hearted support to DAP previously were disappointed as the party fielded a Malay candidate.

At the same time, the Malays rejected the DAP as the party opposed the Hudud, something the Muslims feel compelled to vote for.

"Inspite of these minor factors affecting the Malay and Chinese vote, it is still not the fundamental reason for the change in voter sentiments," he said.

However, he did not deny that the Chinese support in all the by-elections, except in Balingian, had increased by at least about 20 per cent.

"BN has to continue working hard to draw more Chinese votes with the Indians being consistent in their support with 60 per cent showing their support for the party," he said.

Apart from that, he said, BN is still left out in the social media realm especially the Facebook and Twitter, and this has to be addressed to ensure the people get the right information and keep close to BN.

"The opposition survive by creating perceptions on BN thus confusing the masses and this can only be addressed by rationalising the mindsets," he said.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Civil, Syariah Courts Can Preside Together Over Islamic Conversion Disputes - Don

The government should consider the need to integrate the civil and Syariah courts in resolving legal conflict due to religious issues between Muslims and non-Muslims, University Malaya's Academy of Islamic Studies senior lecturer Dr Siti Zubaidah Ismail said.

She said civil and syarie judges could preside over such cases together based on their jurisdictions and expertise in civil and Syariah laws to resolve issues at hand.

Siti Zubaidah is after a mediation approach but warned that the Syariah court should be prepared to face challenges over integration of expertise in ensuring justice was served between contending parties, she said when contacted.

She was commenting on domestic discord and legal (Syariah/civil law) wrangle between fractious couples over Islamic conversion of deceased spouses and fights over children custody after failed marriages of late.

Siti Zubaidah said it was up to the legislature to consider to what extent the judges could execute their decision.

As the integration of the two courts was raised by former chief justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad several years ago, the matter ought to be reviewed and deliberated to enhance public confidence in the national legal system.

"Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution (amendment 1981) asserts that the separation of jurisdiction between the civil and Syariah courts. This is due to applications (before 1981) involving matters where civil court jurisdiction was unclear over issues involving Muslims.

"With the separation of jurisdiction, the approach taken was that when matters come before any court (civil or Syariah), the other court has no right to hear the case.

"However, even though there is already a clear division, it still overlaps or there is still a grey area which requires a solution. All this while, the solution has caused uneasiness and dissatisfaction among certain quarters due to the win or lose issue," she said.

Siti Zubaidah said if the authority was given to either the civil or Syariah courts to try an issue, the other court was deemed 'lost' and could not intervene.

She said the grey area emanated from failed marriages, culminating fights over custody of children and their conversion status while other cases included Islamic finance and banking involving non-Muslims.

"As espoused by Tun Abdul Hamid, inevitably it requires the expertise of both judges to preside together over issues beyond the framework of their jurisdiction. If this contentious issue is not resolved, we could feel how awkward the existing system is," she said.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dr M: Unity bill would promote meritocracy but sideline less fortunate

The introduction of the new Unity Bill would sideline some races and the less fortunate, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed said in his blog.

Dr Mahathir was referring to the National Harmony Bill, National Unity Bill and National Unity and Integration Commission Bill, known collectively as the Unity Bill, and which is set to replace the Sedition Act.

He said that the bills would eliminate advantages given based on race, religion, ancestry, places of birth, gender or any other inabilities.

“Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi –religious country. We maintain our racial, religious and cultural identity,” he said.

He added that the racial segregation and different levels of achievement of the races does not encourage oneness and harmony among the races.

Dr Mahathir said that the New Economic Policy (NEP) was created to reduce the gap in terms of economic achievement, but under the new bill the policy can no longer be applied.

“In order to implement it, discrimination in favour of certain races that are left behind is needed but with the new bill, this would no longer be possible,” he wrote.

He added that meritocracy would be used instead, which was a fair system, but would leave many behind.
“Chances are the poor, those who do not get as many opportunities or good learning environment, those who cannot afford to go to private schools, do not have enough food, is unhealthy and such will not be able to fulfil the merit requirements,” he said,

He added that under the merit system, the poor will stay poor and the rich would get richer.
“Eliminating discrimination based on race and religion may make us equals – as citizens, but it would maintain the inequality and injustice that exists now,” he said.

Kedah hopes for another international airport in Kulim

Kedah state government is mulling to have a second international airport to be located in Kulim.
The airport is aimed to cater for the increase in flights in the northern region, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

"In the future, the space in Penang International Airport may become limited as the cargo and passengers increase.

"What we can offer the Federal Government is the spacious 600ha land for the suggested airport in Kulim with two runways” he told a press conference in Wisma Darul Aman on Thursday.

He said the new airport could boost the economic growth of the northern states especially Kedah as well as southern Thailand.

The plan however is still at the preliminary stage and more discussions needed for this project.

Mukhriz added that he had written to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak regarding this matter.

The current airports in Kedah are the Langkawi International Airport and Sultan Abdul Halim Airport in Kepala Batas, Kedah.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Zarena, Jais deny raid on Hindu wedding

All looks well after a meeting was held between Zarena Abdul Majid and Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) Tuesday over the controversy that  officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had barged into her Hindu wedding on June 1.

The meeting was chaired by Mais chairman Datuk Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa and Zarena was present with her family members. Present were Jais deputy director and several officers.

They issued a joint statement later saying that Jais had conducted its investigations in a proper manner "without hurting the feelings of the family and guests who attended for the wedding."

In the June 1 incident, Jais officers were reported to have disrupted Zarena's wedding ceremony to question the bride over her religious status.

Zarena claimed that her estranged Muslim convert father had registered her as a Muslim when she was still a child but she had been brought up as a Hindu by her mother.

The statement said Zarena regretted the actions of the media in using the term "raid" which led to public unease.

"According to Jais, Zarena and her family cooperated in the investigations,” the statement said.

The statement said Mais urged Zarena to file an application with the Syariah court over her religious identification as it came under the jurisdiction of the court.

“Mais and Jais will help speed up the hearing process for her case in the Syariah court,” it said.

"Adenan's Way" Keeps State Election Date A Guessing Game

While the current Sarawak state assembly's term expires in June 2016, talks of early state election under the leadership of the new Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem is now a hot topic among politicians and political observers in the state.

During a special session with the media in conjunction with his 100 days in office last Friday, the Chief Minister neither ruled out the possibility of an early election nor that he will go for a full term until the current mandate expires in June 2016.

His non-committal and open answer has lead to several media outlet in the state interpret the answer according to their own understanding. One leading local daily said Adenan would go for a full term while others reported of an early state elections.

ADENAN HAS ALREADY SET HIS TARGET

Nobody can fault Adenan for giving such non-committal answer as no leader would like to tell exactly when the election would be held. They want it to be a surprise.

This is clearly what Adenan said towards the end of the special session with the media when he stated that: "When I will call for the election is a secret".

Political analyst believed Adenan has already made up his mind on the state election.

"He has his own way of doing things, the "Adenan Way". I believe he has already set his target date for election, he is just not telling.

"However, with the latest issue relating to TERAS, I don't think the election will be held anytime soon," said Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) senior lecturer Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

Adenan himself admitted that the TERAS issue needs to be resolved beforehand before the state election could be called. He had stated that "it needs to be solved in the next two years" and emphasised on the need to have political stability before they could move on.

TERAS, which claimed to be Barisan Nasional (BN) friendly party has become the focus of the local political scene of late after two groups of elected assemblymen and Parliamentarians, respectively from Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) decided to crossover to Teras.

This included SPDP president Tan Sri William Mawan who announced that he has quit the party and joined Teras. Four other former SPDP assemblymen Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru), Sylvester Entrie (Marudi), Paulus Palu Gumbang (Batu Danau) and Rosey Yunus (Bekenu) - and its Baram Member of Parliament Anyie Ngau followed suit.

Mawan is said to have made the move to avoid a revolt within SPDP led by deputy president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

On the same day Wong Soon Koh, the former deputy secretary-general of SUPP also made known of his intention to quit SUPP and crossover to Teras following internal bickering. He was joined by SUPP's three Dayak assemblymen - Dr Jerip Susil (Bengoh), Ranum Mina (Opar), and Johnical Rayong (Engkilili).

Overnight, Teras, which was registered on Aug 28, 2013 had become the third largest political party in Sarawak after Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and DAP in terms of the number of seats in the state assembly.

KEEPING CLOSE TO HIS CHEST

Similar views were also expressed by a political analysts and senior lecturer at UNIMAS, Dr Jeniri Amir, as he believed that Adenan has already set his mind on when to call for the election.

"His reluctance to be more open on the matter is merely to encourage people to guess or speculate on the dates. I believe the earliest the election could be called is by the third quarter of 2015. He cannot do it any earlier than the third quarter. As you know, in April, GST (Goods and Services tax will be enforced)," he said.

Therefore, he discounted the notion that Adenan may dissolve the state assembly as early as April 2015, exactly one year after being in office.

"He needs more time to iron out some big problems such as TERAS. Definitely it won't be this year," said Dr Jeniri.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ten amendments made to Johor housing Bill

A total of 10 amendments were made to the Johor Housing and Real Property Board Bill 2014 during the tabling of the Bill here Monday.

Among the changes read out by the state Local Government and Housing exco Datuk Abdul Latif Bandi included a provision that the Sultan is to act on the advice of the Mentri Besar.

During his speech at the state assembly seating here on Monday, Abdul Latif added that other clauses in the Bill, which mentioned the Johor Ruler would be changed to “state authorities”.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Jakim Never Betrayed The Muslims

The latest result from the lab analysis conducted by the Chemistry Department on Cadbury Roast Almond and Hazelnut chocolate had confirmed that the chocolates did not contain porcine DNA as reported earlier.

However, the findings did not help to soothe the nerves of the public who seem to be disappointed over the whole affair that started with the Health Ministry's findings that porcine DNA was found in the samples of the chocolate bar.

The ministry stated that the affected Cadbury Dairy Milk Hazelnut chocolate bars were from batch number 200813 M01HI2 (expiry date, Nov 13, 2014) and Cadbury Dairy Milk Roast Almond chocolate bar, batch number 221013 N01RI1 (expiry date, Jan 15, 2015).

In a sudden turn of events, the contradicting findings between the Ministry of Health and the Chemistry Department has put the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) in a fix with its credibility and integrity as the agency responsible for providing the halal status being questioned.

Several non-governmental organisations (ngos) even made a police report against the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom who announced the department's findings. The Chemistry Department is JAKIM's referral agency over halal matters.

And ever since Jakim has been criticised and taunted. At the social websites, some blamed Jakim for not being transparent and not telling the truth. Others went further in admonishing the department, saying Jakim is corrupted and even disputed the Chemistry Department's results.

WE ARE MUSLIMS TOO

Jakim's Director General Datuk Othman Mustapha noted that it is unfair to rebuke the body unjustly as it did its best in carrying out its responsibility.

The society has to calm down and think rationally because being an Islamic body, Jakim would certainly not betray the trust of Muslims.

"Like you, I'm a Muslim too, in fact my officers too are Muslims and we have families who are also Muslim consumers...we certainly don't have the heart to see and allow our family and other Muslims consume products tainted with porcine DNA.

"In fact, many of the employees at the chocolate company are Muslims ...don't tell me they are going to allow the society and their families consume something not halal," he said in an interview at his office in Putrajaya recently.

Othman noted that every product with a halal logo have been screened using standard operating procedure (SOP) to ensure the product meets the high and stringent standards.

"It is not easy for us to issue the halal certificate and that is why Jakim is often blamed for being late in processing applications for halal status," he said.

INTEGRITY

Othman also rubbished claims of misconduct and corruption within Jakim saying different teams and individuals were involved in processing the application for halal status.

All application process to obtain halal status, including the inspection and monitoring of the premises were conducted by Jakim and they were not outsourced to ensure the integrity of the whole process.

"Misconduct is next to impossible...if it involves bribery, which level is involved? At the process or audit level? They are not involved in making decisions, in fact there are auditors who make recommendation for the halal status but the panel can still reject the application if it is still not satisfied," he said.

He stated that the implementation of the SOP is very important in maintaining impartiality and avoiding conflict of interest.

"There were proposals to outsource but we already have the in-house expertise ...moreover if the inspection is outsourced then there will be issues over the charges, integrity and keeping up with the SOP...thus Jakim has decided to do it on its own," he said.

THE HALAL CERTIFICATE CANNOT BE BOUGHT

Othman said it was next to impossible to buy the halal certificate as the applicant has to undergo a vigorous process and adhere to all conditions before the halal certificate is issued.

"If there was any halal certificate for sale, it is the work of unscrupulous third parties who claim they could acquire easily the halal certificate when in fact it involves a rigorous and difficult process," he said.

Othman also made it clear that while it was not compulsory to apply for the halal logo, action would be taken if a product carried the halal logo without proper certification.

The consumers can download the Halal-Square application on their handphones or other devices to check the authenticity of the halal label at business premises.

"We provide the halal posters to restaurants and hotels that can be scanned with the Halal-Square application...thus the consumers will know instantly the halal status of the premises and whether the halal certification is still valid, has expired or its false," he said.

CAN AFFECT THE NATION'S IMAGE

Othman pointed out any issues relating to halal if blown out of proportion before being verified could affect Malaysia's image as a halal hub and a referral point for other nations on halal matters.

"Now the Arab nations refer to us for guidance and in developing their halal system.

"Being a nation that is referred to by many other countries don't tell me we can ignore porcine DNA...I fear that these issue can bring a bad name for the country," he said.

FOREIGN HALAL BODIES RECOGNISED

He said Jakim also has the Foreign Halal Bodies Recognition Scheme and hitherto 57 halal bodies from 23 nations have been recognised.

"This is to assist Jakim and the industry here when the businesses import raw material, it needs halal conformation from the producing country...the producing country issues halal certification and we accept them.

"As we cannot inspect every ingredient as each company has hundreds of products and thousands of ingredients, so we seek the cooperation of other nations using this approach," he added.

WINNING BACK THE TRUST

Admitting that the Cadbury chocolate issue has affected public confidence on Jakim, Othman said Jakim's immediate measure is to win back the people's trust.

"Public awareness on halal is very high now, yet they do not understand Jakim's procedures, thus they end up confused and indignant at Jakim's uncompromising stand on halal," he said.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Have confidence in Jakim's halal certification

The public should have confidence in halal certificates issued by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) on food products produced in the country, said Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharum.
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department said there were procedures which had to be observed before Jakim could issue the certificate.

"The Health Ministry only conducts tests on food samples. The decision on the halal status of food is determined by Jakim, which also has it own audit team to carry out inspections at factories.

"Inspections at factories are done to look into the management, storage of raw materials and production of food items. If factories fail to meet all requirements, the certificate will not be issued," he told reporters when met after presenting contributions to farmers at the Sungai Limau Area Farmers Organisation here Thursday.

He said the Jakim audit team analyses samples of all food products more than once a year to ensure the food does not contain non-halal substances, including porcine DNA.

"Jakim stands by the halal certificate it issued to the Cadbury company because the products are not contaminated with porcine DNA," he said, adding that Jakim would ensure the recent incident where reports stating two products by the company were contaminated with porcine DNA would not recur.

He said the company's syariah committee, had also been told to step up monitoring of its chocolate production to avoid creating anxiety, especially among Muslim consumers.

Jamil, in a statement on June 2, said an analysis by the Chemistry Department on two Cadbury products found that they did not contain porcine DNA.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Seven Wonders of Malaysian Eco-tourism

One of the spectacular caves at Mulu National Park that draws visitors from all over the world. Photo courtesy of Sarawak Tourism Board
One of the spectacular caves at Mulu National Park that draws visitors from all over the world.
IF you're hankering for a holiday and plan to book an expensive ticket to a faraway destination, hold on to your hat and ringgit – Malaysia's tropical climate has more than one trick up its sleeve.

The country is home to many spectacular natural wonders, leaving nature lovers spoilt for choice when trying to decide on their next outdoor adventure.

Whether you feel like scaling great heights or exploring the mysterious deep, one of these beautiful eco-tourism hotspots is sure to tickle your fancy.

Mulu Caves National Park, Sarawak
Go big or go home - if there was an award for the biggest and the best, then this eco-tourism destination is recipient to a whole host of superlatives.

The Unesco World Heritage Site boasts one of the world's longest networks of caves in the world, with the Clear Water Cave being the longest in Southeast Asia.

The Sarawak Chamber, which is the world's largest underground chamber, is capable of fitting 40 Boeing 747 planes in its confines – without their wings overlapping!

London's iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral could be replicated five times over, and still fit snugly into the world's biggest cave passage, the Deer Cave.

Other key attractions include the Eden Valley Walk, the Medicine Plant Trail and the Paku Waterfall.
When evening falls, a sight to behold is the millions of bats - 12 species in all - departing the caves in great swarms, an event fondly known as the Bat Exodus.
Suffice to say, no one can blame you if the urge strikes to shout "To the Batcave!".

Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang
On the flip side, the world's smallest national park proves that size does not matter. Despite measuring only 29.6sq km, this green space was declared seventh heaven on Agoda.com's list of highest rated parks in Asia.
Pantai Kerachut
Pantai Kerachut

Tourists and locals alike flock to the prime beachfront site for its many attractions, including the lowland mangrove swamp in Teluk Tekun and hiking trails at the popular Monkey Beach.

Another marvel is the unique meromictic lake in Pantai Kerachut, one of only three in Asia. There, salt water and fresh water do not mix, resulting in differently coloured layers that host vastly different environments.
Sunset at Pasir Pandak

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Selangor
Just 30 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur, FRIM is a firm favourite among nature lovers for its wealth of flora and fauna.
Canopy walk
Founded in 1929 for forestry research, the Kepong site was declared a national heritage in 2012, and tens of thousands have enjoyed its pristine, unpolluted environment spanning a 1,528ha area.

Whether you choose to pitch a tent, pack a picnic basket or tote a pair of binoculars for a spot of bird-watching, be sure to check out their famous canopy walkway, located at the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve at about 300m above sea level.

The walkway system, suspended between trees at approximately 30m above ground level, offers visitors a panoramic view of the verdant forest and the Kuala Lumpur area along its 150m span.
Before you visit, do check out their opening hours as attractions are weather-dependent.

Royal Belum State Park, Perak
Recently hailed as one of Malaysia's best kept eco-tourism secrets at Europe's largest tourism fair, the Royal Belum State Park is located within the Belum-Temenggor rainforest reserve area.
Part of the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex
Said be over 130 million years old, the vast virgin jungle - relatively untouched by human exploration - is older than the great Amazon and Congo rainforests.

It hosts 10 hornbill species and over 3,000 species of flowering plants - even the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia - and serves as a natural habitat for 14 of the world's most threatened mammals, including the Malayan Tiger and the Sumatran Rhinoceros.

But make prior preparations - visitors need to apply for a permit from the Perak State Park Corporation (Perbadanan Taman Negeri Perak) in order to enter the rainforest as it is a protected zone.

Visitors at a salt lick

At the state park, which spans an area of 1,175sq km, you can try the overnight stay at the wildlife observation hide, give bamboo rafting a go, or observe the natural salt licks where animals flock to for their dose of the much-needed mineral.

Taman Negara
No local eco-tourism list is complete without this venerable elder, reputed as the world’s oldest rainforest at more than 130 million years of age.

Once known as the King George V National Park, it earned its new moniker after Malaysia's independence in 1957.

With a total area of 4,343sq km, it spans three states - Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu. Also located within the park is Gunung Tahan, the highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia.

Visitors can experience the great outdoors in many ways, including trekking trails, river rapid shooting and rafting, overnight stays at wildlife observation hideouts, and traversing the 530m canopy walk.

There are more than 300 species of fish in the park's many rivers, including the famed Ikan Kelah or Malaysian Mahseer. Tourists can feed this protected species at the Kelah Fish Sanctuary, and watch the speedy, agile creatures chase the treats.

Fishing is allowed only in certain areas, and anglers need to ask local guides for approved locations, lest they run the risk of a fine after landing a catch in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Cameron Highlands, Pahang
If tropical rainforests don't do the trick for you, head to the highlands.
The hill station, which spans 712sq km, offers a wealth of attractions with the added bonus of temperatures that dip as low as 12 degrees Celsius when night falls.

As the environment is less humid, the jungle trail hikes are decidedly more pleasant, although mosquitoes are as much of a threat here as they are in the lowlands.

Pick heaps of strawberries at the farms to eat with lashings of sugar and whipped cream, and spend your morning at the Sungai Palas tea plantation - the lush and beautifully tended green vistas are a welcome break from the concrete jungle.

Selfies recommended at the picturesque Boh Tea Centre, though you'd be wise to book a taxi to and fro the remote destination, lest you find yourself pleading for a ride back - standing space only - in a crowded bus inching along the narrow road.

And don't forget the Rose Centre! The charming spot in Brinchang offers a rewarding hike up among flowered paths, along with weathered art installations and unique sculptures, such as murals depicting signs of the zodiac and a giant shoe.

Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu
If it's sun, sand and sea that you want, try the beautiful Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil islands on for size.

With their beautiful coral reefs, secluded coves and laidback atmosphere, rarely has the phrase "tropical paradise" seen more apt use than for these islands that fringe the edge of the Pulau Redang Marine park.
Unfortunately, the influx of tourists sees the island struggling to keep pace with the demands inflicted on its natural environment.

So whether you choose to visit Turtle Bay, explore private bays, get your diving licence, snorkel in its crystal clear waters, or laze on the beaches to do nothing at all, be sure to leave the place as you found it.

Fuel subsidy plan draws more flak


People are concerned over the proposed system of restricting fuel subsidies based on salaries and vehicle engine capacity.

Online, only a few voiced their support for the proposal while an overwhelming number of netizens urged the Government to rethink the system, which will reportedly allow vehicle owners earning less than RM5,000 a month to enjoy subsidised fuel.

Those who earn between RM5,000 and RM10,000 will be limited to 300 litres of subsidised RON95 petrol and diesel a month.

On Facebook, Marina Jaal said the system would be subject to abuse while Michelle Khoo pegged it as an easy way out in the fight against diesel smuggling.

Others called for stricter border checks and heavier penalties for smugglers.

KL Ng suggested charging foreigners a fuel surcharge of RM150 to RM300 per day, depending on car engine size/type, each time they enter the country.

Anthony Chew suggested removing the subsidies altogether to let the price float and reflect actual costs “which will automatically stop all forms of fuel smuggling”.

Insurance agent Liz Ng from Section 17 in Petaling Jaya was sceptical about the proposal. “What’s keeping me from filling up with my Proton Saga and siphoning the fuel into my Toyota Harrier,” said the 45-year-old.
The Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia said the proposed system would be difficult to enforce and would lead to widespread discontentment.

“There will be unhappy consumers, retailers and wholesalers,” said association deputy president Datuk Zulkifli Mokti.

A BHP petrol station owner in Kuala Lumpur said the proposal was too problematic to implement, especially during peak hours.

“Our attendants have no time to differentiate if a car has a two-litre engine or find out if our customers earn more or less than RM5,000 a month,” said the 63-year-old who did not want to be identified.
Fomca said the Government should be more transparent about its plans for introducing a new mechanism for fuel subsidies.

Its secretary-general Datuk Paul Selva Raj said Fomca supported moves to have targeted subsidies, which could effectively aid people in low-income groups.

“Subsidies should not be for all. However, the Government should lay everything on the table so that we know what is being discussed,” he added.

Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad, secretary-general of the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, described reports on the proposed system as “speculation”.

http://www.mykmu.net/?p=43911-mekanisma baru subsidi petrol cadangan hilang akal.


http://www.sarawakiana.net/2014/06/adakah-kaedah-ini-untuk-merakyatkan.html

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tunku Sallehuddin is new Kedah Regency Council chairman

Tunku Temenggong Kedah Tan Sri Tunku Sallehuddin Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah  has been appointed as the new Kedah Regency Council Chairman effective May 21.

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz said the appointment has received the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, who is also the Sultan of Kedah.

"On behalf of the Kedah state government and the rakyat, I would like to congratulate Tan Sri Tunku Sallehuddin on his appointment," he said in a statement Wednesday.

Tan Sri Tunku Sallehuddin took over the position from his brother, Tan Sri Tunku Annuar Sultan Badlishah, after the latter passed away following a heart attack at the Ipoh Pantai Hospital at 12.20am on May 21 at the age of 75.