Sunday, October 05, 2008

What’s Propelling Piracy as the Pirates are Muslims?

The MT Bunga Melati Dua, the second Malaysian tanker hijacked by Somalian pirates, was freed as sources said US$2mil (RM6.9mil) in ransom was paid for each of the tankers.



After 12 days of a lot of shouting and gun-pointing — but no physical harm — the master of MT Bunga Melati Lima had a feeling that the pirates were not killers, but were only after money.
The 80 crew members of MT Bunga Melati Dua and MT Bunga Melati Lima arrived in Subang on a chartered flight.

According to the Star, MT Bunga Melati Dua seafarer Baharudin Mohamad said being a Muslim was a decisive factor in the crew being released unharmed.
“The pirates are Muslims. They told us in halting English that they would not harm a fellow brethren,” said Baharudin, who also had the barrel of a rifle pointed at him four times during the 41-day ordeal.

The point here, the pirates are MUSLIMS from poor countries.

Khaleej Times has a strong view on the current situation of the piracy activities in the Horn of Africa which related to the US agression and intervention in the region. Some Arab countries like UAE are already investing in new developments as well as infrastructure but the real problem is still the US interference which is affecting political stability.

Engage the indigenous people in developing the region by utilising their rich resources, not only for exploiting and looting as well as alienating them as pariahs. Those western countries are only interested in certain conflict areas for some political reasons and gains.

Vessels on high seas, off the Horn of Africa, are in the eye of storm. Several mercantile and military ships have been targeted by pirates off the Gulf of Aden in search of bounty loaded on them.
Pirates there have hijacked around 30 ships this year and the ransom demands have skyrocketed.
When pirates hijacked a freighter off the coast of Somalia last week, they hit the jackpot. The Ukrainian ship was laden with weaponry, ammunition and 33 Russian tanks.

The heavily armed pirates are now holding the ship’s 20 crew members hostage and are demanding $US20 million in ransom. Countless ships registered in the UAE and several Gulf countries too have fallen victim to these pirates in the past.

The pirates supposedly act as middlemen and agencies as they sell their booty, especially arms and ammunitions seized on high seas, in the open market of Africa and Asia. That brings them under the culpable shadow of being hand in glove with unscrupulous elements such as the Al Qaeda and their likes.

Piracy is hardly a new phenomenon for the seas off the Horn of Africa or other high seas. Throughout history, there have been people willing to rob others transporting goods on the water. The era 1650 to 1720 was known as the ‘Golden age of Piracy’ as Europeans launched their gunboat diplomacy worldwide in pursuit of new shores and markets for their neo-colonial expansion.

The 3000-kilometre wide coast of Somalia has become a hotbed of such activities since the US forces stepped in Mogadishu to prevent the pro-Islamic political forces from seizing power. The US interference in the region with the help of its proxies like Ethiopia has pushed it towards anarchy and lawlessness.

And now the other big player, Russia, is also beginning to make up for the lost time by asserting itself in the region. And economic instability and extreme poverty in Somalia and the region are adding fuel to this fire. Today, there are no jobs, no security and no basic necessities of life for the people of Somalia.

As the London-based Chatham House says in its latest report, a young man who may have no other realistic opportunities to make a lot of money in their home villages from farming or fishing can make up to 10, 20, 30, 100,000 pounds from each instance of piracy. No wonder Somalians are increasingly taking to piracy.

The region has already paid a heavy price for the US war on terror and attempts to marginallise the indigenous political forces. The US and EU proposal to use military force to protect one of the world’s ancient and key trade routes. Major players such as the US, EU and Russia should engage Africa as a trading partner, rather than exploit its wealth and geography.

Kuda Hitam boleh jadi Kambing Hitam dan Biawak Hitam

Kehangatan dalam perebutan kerusi Timbalan Presiden UMNO membayangkan kemungkinan besarnya, Pak Lah akan mengundurkan diri dan pastinya Najib menjadi Presiden juga Perdana Menteri baru.

UMNO memerlukan suntikan kepimpinan baru, bukan sekadar dari mereka yang sekarang berada di kerusi naib presiden mahupun majlis tertinggi. Selain dari segi imej dan corak, UMNO memerlukan pemimpin generasi terkini yang bukan sahaja segar tetapi berwibawa, berbakat besar. Malangnya dengan sktruktur dan budaya yang ada, mereka yang ramai di luar UMNO tidak mungkin berminat malah kalau berminat pun, tidak mungkin terpilih dan awal-awal lagi akan dicantas oleh mereka yang tergugat.

Apalagi kalau calun hebat tetapi tidak mempunyai lubang poket yang cukup sebagai dana 'politik wang' untuk menang dan naik ke tangga atas kepimpinan.

Sudah ada menawarkan diri untuk bertanding. Ada yang dikatakan sebagai 'kuda hitam' yang boleh mengubah senario politik UMNO dan negara.

Kita tidak dapat mengelak untuk mengukur peribadi para pemimpin yang mahu menjadi orang kedua dalam UMNO walaupun kebanyakan seperti saya, bukan ahli UMNO dan tidak menyenangi hampir majoriti kepimpinan UMNO yang ada.

Rekod perkhidmatan, kelayakan akademik dan keperibadian sebagai Muslim juga menjadi ukuran dalam memilih pemimpin untuk menerajui negara. Tetapi dengan latarbelakang agama juga tidak semestinya calun tersebut akan menjadi pemimpin yang tidak rasuah dan menyeleweng, serta zalim kepada rakyat.

Ada pemimpin yang dahulunya Imam atau ustaz atau hafidz, tetapi apabila berkuasa mahupun ada sedikit kuasa turut sama terbabit dengan aktiviti yang diharamkan dalam islam, semata-mata kerana 'if you cannot beat them, join them' dan matlamat menghalalkan cara!

Dalam senarai mantan Timbalan Presiden UMNO yang gagal menjadi presiden pun, kita dapat melihat ketokohan yang digembar-gemburkan oleh media massa kepunyaan UMNO tidak lebih sekadar opportunis.

Malah yang menjadi Presiden dan Perdana Menteri pun tidak semuanya hebat dan berwibawa, terutama Pak Lah.

Dulu, kini dan selamanya, untuk naik dalam UMNO pun terpaksa memberi sogokan kepada perwakilan yang bakal mengundi. Kalau bertaraf menteri tentunya lebih banyak ruang dan opsyen untuk memberi rasuah.

Ada ketua menteri yang sakan menganugerahkan pingat kebesaran negeri, terutama 'datuk' sebagai membalas budi walaupun tiada jasa individu tersebut untuk negerinya, melainkan sebagai tukang kempen dalam pemilihan naib presiden UMNO.

Kesimpulannya ketika ini, selagi berada dalam UMNO yang tidak boleh atau mahu berubah dan terus akur mengikut tradisi politik wang, kesemua calun yang dikatakan kuda hitam boleh menjadi kambing hitam sebagai mangsa percaturan untuk kem tertentu.

Manakala berdasarkan perjuangan UMNO ketika ini yang semakin mengutamakan survival pemimpin dan golongan elit, sesiapa yang menang pun boleh menjadi seekor biawak hidup hitam buat agama, bangsa dan negara.

Kesimpulannya, orang Melayu dan Islam sukar untuk melihat UMNO kembali ke jalan asal dan memerlukan payung baru yang belum rosak hati dan cacat anggotanya.

Michael Schumachers Wannabees in Dubai!

If you have been Dubai, you would notice the sheer number of buses on the roads especially during rush hour. These buses carry labourers to the site from their labour camps around Dubai or Sharjah.

Driving every day to work is always like trying to race with not only the sport cars, saloons, 4WDs, vans, pickups but speeding buses, sometimes encroach on the fast lane.

The luxury car drivers can be excused for being snobbish but small car and bus drivers who love to flash another vehicle infront of them sometimes irritating as well as dangerous for other road users.

Major roads will block trucks and lorries during rush hours but the buses are nuisance most of the time, but then again, every one has duty to reach work on time.

Traffic jam and Salik are no longer a valid excuse for being late....hence, we have the critical number of deaths on the Dubai roads, well, better be safe than sorry or better reach the office safely than your own burial in rush along with the innocent victims!


Bus drivers flirt with death
By Sunita Menon, Staff Reporter
Published: October 05, 2008, 00:02
Dubai: A monstrous looking bus packed with blue collar workers tailing-gating a tiny sedan is not rare on Dubai's roads.
Infamous for having no respect at all for traffic discipline, these bus drivers apply bullying tactics by aggressively flashing their headlights at small cars and four-wheel-drives who refuse to get out of their way. And if any of these buses is forced to manoeuvre into an adjacent lane by the defiant driver of a smaller vehicle, be ready to witness the bus driver rolling down his window and shouting obscenities.
Scenes like these bring back memories of the ghastly road accident that took place three years ago on Shaikh Zayed Road on December 14, when a speeding bus rammed into a van and then overturned, killing nine workers and leaving more than 50 injured.


Unfortunately, no lessons have been learned and today bus drivers continue to be devils on the roads.
Keeping an eye on the speedometer and driving within the stipulated speed limit does not come easy for these would-be Michael Schumachers who throw caution to the wind.
Gulf News caught up with some bus drivers for whom their new-found notoriety is something that they are proud of.

After initial apprehension the drivers gave their side of the story only on condition of anonymity. Some of them blamed the lack of road planning, some complained about the traffic congestion, others raised objections to the speed limits and some challenged the attitude of fellow motorists.

They had no hesitation in admitting that they flaunt traffic rules, "but only out of desperation".
"What do you think I should be doing when I am in a hurry? If we drive below the speed limit the workers get irritated and ask us to drive fast," said one Pakistani bus driver who prides himself on being in complete control, even if he exceeds the speed limit of 100 km/h.

Asked whether he had ever raced on Dubai's roads the driver said: "Yes. Races are not planned. I engage in a race when a sewage tanker or pick-up van tries to overtake my vehicle on the road. Accidents happen when a driver does not have control of the speed."

He said he drives in the fast lane almost every day.
An Indian worker said that the drivers, if caught speeding, are quick to pass the blame to the workers.

"The drivers blame us for encouraging them to speed," he said. "On the contrary we keep requesting them to drive in the third lane. It is scary to see two buses packed with workers driving neck-and-neck, each trying to take the lead."

These bus drivers, who start their day as early as 2am, transport workers in batches to various construction sites.

"Traffic congestion starts after 6am and from then on it is impossible to reach anywhere on time," said another Indian bus driver.

"It is against the rules to talk on the telephone but we cannot ignore the calls made to us by our site supervisor or accommodation boss.

"If the workers are delayed in reaching their work site by even ten minutes, we get calls from the supervisors making enquiries.

"There is no choice, we are forced to take the call or else we are issued warnings. On the other hand police slap us with fines or black points when they catch us talking on the mobile phone when driving," he said.