Saturday, September 16, 2006

POPE in HOT SOUP - Over Quote from Emperor EMANUEL II “everything that Muhammad had promulgated was evil & inhuman"; PM Abdullah demands Apology

It is unfortunate that the Pope Benedict XVI has chosen at the University of Regensburg, to quote remarks by the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who wrote that everything that Muhammad had promulgated was evil and inhuman, “such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”. As usual when the unexpected fire storms reactions took place, the Vatican tried to say that he was quoted out of context.

The Pope obviously did not intend to cause offence to the world’s Muslims but L’Espresso magazine observed yesterday: “This is not exactly a diplomatic pope”.

“His mistake was his failure to distance himself from the emperor’s comments — surely inflammatory enough in their own time, but a thousand times more so when repeated today.”
Read the edited extract below.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi: "It is unfortunate that such an eminent figure like the Pope has not shown leadership in promoting good relations between religions."

Pope Must Apologise, Says Abdullah ; From Mokhtar Hussein

HAVANA, Sept 16 (Bernama) -- Pope Benedict XVI must apologise and withdraw his recent remarks linking Islam and violence that have offended Muslims all over the world, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

"The Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake," the prime minister told Malaysian journalists covering the 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) here, Friday.

Abdullah, who is chairman of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said it was regrettable that the remarks showed insensitivity to Muslim feelings and would surely hinder the fostering of good relations between Islam and Christianity.

Benedict provoked the outcry on Tuesday when he quoted criticism of Islam and Prophet Muhammad by 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus in a theological lecture in

"It is unfortunate that such an eminent figure like the Pope has not shown leadership in promoting good relations between religions.

"Instead, his statement has had the effect of sowing more seeds of discord and will not be conducive for dialogue among religions," Abdullah said.

He said that judging from the reactions of various quarters around the world, obviously, the Pope's words could lead to further tension between religions.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar urged Muslims to be patient and not to get too emotional.

However, he said that the Muslim world should condemn the statement so that it was not repeated.

He said such statements were not good for world security and stability besides hampering efforts to avoid cultural and religious clashes.

Meanwhile The Deputy Primier

Meanwhile The Deputy Primier commented: "We regret with the Pope remarks though it may not be his intentions to hurt Muslim's feelings. But the Pope must be more careful, more so since the latest developments especially with issues taking historical fath"
and From The Times, UK, 16 September 2006, an insightfull report and analysis of his speech and the events that followed.

Muslims vent fury at Pope's speech
From Richard Owen in Rome and Suna Erdem in Istanbul

THE Pope’s visit to Turkey, which many hoped would herald a new era of improved relations between Islam and the West, was in doubt yesterday amid condemnation of remarks by the pontiff that appeared to link Islam and violence.

As Muslims all over the world protested, with effigies of Benedict XVI burnt during demonstrations in Pakistan, members of the Turkish Government urged the Pope to reconsider his visit in November. Senior officials in Turkey said that they could not guarantee his safety if he went ahead with the trip.

The Pope’s remarks were either “the result of pitiful ignorance” about Islam or a deliberate distortion of the truth, said Salih Kapusuz, deputy leader of the strongly Islamic party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister.

He has a dark mentality that comes from the darkness of the Middle Ages,” Mr Kapusuz added. “Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini.”

The outrage followed a speech that the Pope gave on Tuesday during a tour of southern Germany. At the University of Regensburg, Benedict XVI quoted remarks by the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who wrote that everything that Muhammad had promulgated was evil and inhuman, “such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.

The Vatican claimed that the Pope had been quoted out of context and that he had not intended to insult Islam. But even though the thrust of the Pope’s argument was that violence cannot be justified by any religion — drawing on a dialogue between the emperor and a Persian scholar — he was widely criticised for not distancing himself from
Manuel II’s opinions
and for quoting a particularly inflammatory statement.

Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey, which is due to take place on November 28-30, was already a source of controversy because of views he expressed when a cardinal that cast doubt on the country’s fitness to join the European Union, and for his references to Istanbul as “Constantinople”. There are also fears for his safety after a series of assaults on Catholic priests in Turkey, one of whom was murdered.

The Vatican had spoken of the trip as a chance to promote dialogue between Islam and the West. The Pope is also due to meet Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians, in Istanbul to help to heal the 1,000-year schism between the Western Church and the Orthodox faith.

But Ali Bardakoglu, head of the Directorate-General for Religious Affairs in Ankara, which controls Turkey’s imams, said that the Pope had reinforced “ingrained prejudice in the West” towards Islam, and said the Crusades showed that Christianity also had problems with violence. “The Pope’s aggressive, insolent statement appears to reflect both the hatred within him towards Islam and a Crusader mentality. I hope he apologises, and realises how he has destroyed peace.”

The Pakistani Parliament condemned the Pope and also sought an apology. “The derogatory remarks of the Pope about the philosophy of jihad and Prophet Muhammad have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading acrimony among the religions,” the resolution said.

The Muslim Council, which represents 400 groups in Britain, said that the emperor’s views were ill-informed and bigoted. “One would expect a religious leader such as the Pope to act and speak with responsibility and repudiate the Byzantine emperor’s views in the interests of truth and harmonious relations between the followers of Islam and Catholicism,” Muhammad Abdul Bari, the council’s secretary-general, said. “Regrettably, the Pope did not do so.”

In Gaza, at the Saladin mosque — named after the Islamic warrior who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders — Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian Prime Minister, promised protests.
The University of Regensburg address

The Pope’s speech was entitled Faith, reason and the university. This is an edited extract:

"I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on, perhaps in 1391, by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.
The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Koran. . . In the seventh conversation the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that Sura (Koranic chapter) 2, 256 reads: ‘There is no
compulsion in religion
.’ According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war . . . He addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence, saying: ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’

The emperor, having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. ‘God,’ he says, ‘is not pleased by
blood — and not acting reasonably . . . is contrary to God’s nature
. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats . . . To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons, or any other means of threatening a person with death . . .’ The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this is self-evident.

But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? . . . John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, with logos. Logos means reason and word — reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, between genuine enlightenment and religion . . . This inner rapprochement between biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history . . .

Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, took on its historically decisive character in Europe. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of
philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur — this is the programme with which a theology grounded in biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. ‘Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God,’ said Manuel II, according to his understanding of God. It is to these great logos, this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures."

Homily on faith, logic and holy war was seen as a slur on Islam By Richard Owen
Experts say the Pope was addressing Western culture and did not intend to offend Muslims

IT BEGAN as the joyous homecoming of one of Bavaria’s best-loved sons, with excited crowds lining streets to applaud the German priest who became the leader of 1.1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide.
The organisers who had included a visit to the town of Regensburg on the banks of the River Danube thought that it would be a gentle diversion for Pope Benedict XVI, who agreed to address scholars at the local university before continuing on his tour of the German hinterland.

But the homily given by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on Tuesday has provoked a firestorm of Islamic rage and left in doubt his eagerly anticipated trip to Turkey later this year, which was intended to improve relations between Christians and Muslims.

Yesterday effigies of the Pope were set alight in Pakistan and hundreds joined protests in countries from Indonesia to Lebanon. Presidents, prime ministers and religious leaders urged the Vatican to issue an apology.

At the Vatican the Pope’s senior advisers were mystified by the extraordinary scenes, which were eerily reminiscent of the protests over cartoons that appeared in Danish newspapers last year depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Then, as now, the reaction was slow to develop, and was stoked by an aggressive internet and e-mail campaign that
urged Muslims to take to the streets over what was described as a most vile slur on Islam.

Attempting to dampen down the flames, the Vatican claimed that the Pope had been quoted out of context. In his Regensburg speech, he had referred to a dialogue on Christianity and Islam between Manuel Paleologus II, the 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor, and an educated Persian.

He said: “The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He said, and I quote, ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached’.”

The phrases on Islam were “brusque”, he said, and he pointed out several times that he was quoting the emperor, not endorsing him. Yet insiders were left wondering whether he had deliberately raised the issue of Islamic extremism to provoke debate.

“Pope Benedict’s remarks about jihad may have been taken out of context but they were not an aberration,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the newly appointed Jesuit head of the Holy See press office. “On the contrary, they stem from his thinking about Islam and
the West in the one and a half years since he became Pope

Father Lombardi added: “What emerges from an attentive reading of the text is a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence. It was certainly not the intention of the Holy Father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and of Muslim ideas on the subject, still less to offend the sensibilities of Muslim faithful. Quite the contrary, what emerges clearly from the Holy Father’s discourses is a warning, addressed to Western culture, to avoid ‘the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom’.

“What is clear, then, is the Holy Father’s desire to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue towards other religions and cultures, including, of course, Islam.” Although the desire for “respect and dialogue” is not in question, it has emerged that, six months after he succeeded John Paul II, Pope Benedict convened an unpublicised two-day conference on Islam, the West and Christianity at Castelgandolfo, his summer residence, attended by Western experts on the Muslim world.

At the end, according to Vatican insiders, the Pope concluded that it was time for a “more robust” approach to Islam, which in its “fanatical” or “violent” form posed a danger to the West. The problem with Islam, the Pope told delegates, was that unlike Christianity,
which distinguished (in Christ’s words) between “that which is God’s and that which is Caesar’s”, Islam sought to “ integrate the laws of the Koran into all elements of social life”.

Whereas Jesus and the gospels offered a model to follow, the Koran was imposed rigidly with “no distinction between civil and religious law”. There was little spiritual or religious common ground, he is said to have told the conference. Therefore, Christianity could engage with Islam only as a “culture” and remind it to “respect human rights”, including the rights of Christian minorities in Muslim countries.

In May, the Pope told a Vatican conference on immigration that although he favoured “dialogue” with Islam it could only be conducted on the basis of “reciprocity”. Christians should “open their arms and hearts” to Muslim immigrants, but Muslims in turn had to overcome “the prejudices of a closed mentality”. As L’Espresso magazine observed
yesterday: “This is not exactly a diplomatic pope.”

Since becoming Pope, the former Cardinal Ratzinger has been at pains to counteract the image he acquired as a ruthless enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy when he was John Paul’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Once nickamed God’s Rottweiller, or the Panzer Kardinal, he has projected a gentler public face — making jokes, beaming from beneath his wavy white hair and even kissing babies as he meets crowds.

Many were pleasantly surprised when, in January, he chose the theme of love, sex and Christianity for his first papal encyclical. But he was elected in April last year over, say, a Latin American candidate because many cardinals were impressed by his insistence on the need to bolster Christian values not just in the Third World but also in Europe, which he believes is threatened by secularism, loss of faith — and Muslim immigration. As a cardinal, he was on record as opposing Turkish membership of the European Union. He has also, despite liberal Catholic hopes, so far shown no sign of relaxing doctrine to allow the use of condoms to prevent Aids in Africa.

In a little-noticed sign of his tougher line on Islam, in February he abolished the Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, subsuming it into another council and dispatching its head, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, as his emissary to Egypt and the Arab League. The move was seen by many as a snub to Archbishop Fitzgerald, the most senior Briton in the Vatican, for his conciliatory approach to Muslims.

It is difficult to imagine Benedict entering a mosque, as John Paul did in Damascus in 2001,” said Marco Politi, the Vatican correspondent of La Repubblica. Although he made overtures to Jews, Muslims and non-Catholic Christians after his election, and paid homage at Auschwitz in May, Pope Benedict lays less emphasis than his predecessor on dialogue with other faiths, let alone praying with or learning from them.

Vito Mancuse, lecturer in theology at the San Raffaele University of Milan, said: “The message of Regensburg is that logos — reason — is at the heart of Christianity, whereas the God of Islam is more arbitrary, and in the absence of reason lie the seeds of war. For Christians, God is love. Muslims don’t know what God is, only that he exists and
dominates the world.”


When Manuel II Paleologus, a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, said that Muhammad brought “things only evil and inhuman”, Christianity and Islam already had a long history of animosity. Within a few decades of Islam’s 7th-century beginnings, its empire had
spread from modern-day Saudi Arabia to encroach on the Christian heartlands of Spain to the west and Jerusalem to the east

A further psychological blow was struck in AD846 when Muslims raided the Church of St Peter and Paul in Rome. Christians within Muslim areas were largely allowed freedom of worship and autonomy to run their own affairs

Relations deteriorated in the 11th century, with Al Hakim, the Egyptian Shia ruler, ordering the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and an onslaught on Christians in the Holy Lands

By the 11th century a Christian counter-offensive was well under way. Muslims were pushed back in Spain and Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade, calling for the recapture of the Holy Lands. Eight crusades would follow over the next 200 years, but ultimately Jerusalem remained under Islamic control

The Muslim advance continued in the East, with Byzantium (Istanbul) falling in the 15th century, and a high-water mark in the 17th century when Turkish Ottoman troops besieged Vienna

In the West, Islam was less successful. After the 15th-century Muslim retreat from the Iberian Peninsula the “Andalusian model”, whereby worshippers of both faiths coexisted, was abandoned. Muslims had to choose conversion or expulsion

Over the following centuries the Turkish Ottoman Empire gradually declined in mportance, until its final dissolution after defeat in the First World War

Serious errors of both fact and judgment
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

EVEN his critics agree that the Pope did not intend to cause offence to the world’s Muslims. In quoting a work edited by the highly respected Lebanese-born scholar
Theodore Khour
y, he was trying to assert his academic credentials in the university where he once taught.

This speech, as its esoteric tone and content testifies, was an address by Professor Joseph Ratzinger, scholar, rather than by Benedict XVI, world religious leader. His mistake was his failure to distance himself from the emperor’s comments — surely inflammatory
enough in their own time, but a thousand times more so when repeated today.

He can hardly complain that he has been taken out of context by thousands of enraged Muslims around the world when he is himself guilty of the same offence in regard to Manuel II Paleologus.

His address is undermined further by a serious error in regards to the Koran. “Sura 2,256 . . . is one of the suras of the early period, when Muhammad was still powerless and under threat.” In fact, this sura [Koranic chapter] is held by Muslim scholars to be from the middle period, around the 24th year of Muhammad’s prophethood in 624 or 625,
when he was in Medina and in control of a state. Contrary to what the Pope said, this was written when Muhammad was in a position of strength, not weakness.

The Pope’s old sparring partner, Professor Hans Küng, a former colleague of his at Tübingen university, agrees that he did not intend to provoke Muslims. “He is very interested in dialogue with all religions. But this quotation and his whole approach to Islam in the lecture was very unfortunate.

He found it incredible that the Pope quoted an emperor, a Christian adversary of Islam, who had set down the comments while in the middle of a battle, the siege of Constantinople in 1394 to 1402. “If a Jewish person said such a thing about a Christian, we would also be offended,” said Professor Kung.

“He can of course quote what he wants, but he did this without saying the emperor was incorrect. “This shows the limits of the theologian Joseph Ratzinger. He never studied the religions thoroughly and obviously has a unilateral view of Islam and the other religions.”

The Pope has a history of criticism of Islam. According to a leading Catholic, he believes that Islam cannot be reformed and is therefore incompatible with democracy.

Earlier this year, Father Joseph Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University in Naples and founder of the publishing house Ignatius Press, said that the Pope believed that reform of Islam was impossible “because it’s against the very nature of the Koran, as it’s understood by Muslims.”

Professor Kung said: “The Pope just was not aware of the implications of what he was saying.”

The tragedy of the episode is that the Pope was arguing against the idea that violence can be justified in any religion. He was making the case for the compatibility of reason with religion at a time when fundamentalism is gaining terrifying ground across the religious

The irony is that the Islamic response illustrates how desperately the world needs to hear his message.

KL POLICE Spying on MAT REMPITS; LAWS Amended – HEAVIER FINES & Jail Terms Affect FANS & SPECTATORS; WHY No RACE Tracks But PLENTY Golf Courses?

There is growing discontent and suspicions amongst the well educated Mat Rempits that they are being utilized for “political mileage”. The hardcore ones are adamant and would follow and participate in government sponsored activities but would return “back to their cliques and street racing

They are questioning why the long promised race tracks are not in place but golf courses are everywhere. Simply re-labeling them as 'Mat Cemerlang' will get nowhere as they must first be successfully rehabilitated, and demonstrated that they deserve such a title.

The Head of UMNO Youth, WP, Dato Norza Zakaria pleaded that they need help, motivation and guidance to channel their skills, energy and drive into more productive and legal activities. His sincere and genuine moves to engage the thousands of Mat Rempit,s must be applauded.

With the new laws enacted, it looks like there will be a “show down” as some of them have reached the point of no return and unstoppable and untamable in their weekend of fun and “adrenalin rush”

Illegal racers and spectators to face heavier fines and longer jail terms


The full force of the law will be applied to bring to a halt the stunts and antics of these reckless bikers. Even their fans and spectators will not be spared.

The illegal racers will have to slam on the brakes once amendments to the Road Transport Act come into effect.

City Traffic chief Asst Comm Hamzah Taib said spectators caught watching illegal motorcycle races and egging on the participants would also be subjected to prosecution under the amendments.

Mat Rempits and their fans can expect higher fines and longer jail terms.
ACP Hamzah said that the Road Transport Act 1987 did not define illegal racing and had no definition of illegal racers.

“Apart from defining what illegal racing is, the police are also seeking heavier penalties for it, as well as laws to punish the spectators,” he said, adding that a proposal had been submitted to the Transport Ministry.

“At the moment, only the racers are charged – for reckless riding.”
The present punishment for those convicted of the offence for the first time is a maximum five years' imprisonment and a fine of between RM5,000 and RM15,000, while subsequent convictions carry a jail term of up to 10 years as well as a fine of RM10,000 to RM20,000.

Asked whether the recent movie Remp-it – which portrayed the lives of Mat Rempits – had any effect on illegal racers, ACP Hamzah said there were two sides to the argument surrounding the issue.

“On the one hand, some would say that the movie did glamorise illegal racing, but on the other, it also showed the consequences of the lives led by these people,” he added.

Police carrying out more stringent checks in view of the coming Visit Malaysia year 2007

ACP Hamzah said the police had only arrested about 300 illegal racers in Kuala Lumpur this year but had conducted special operations to deal with the problem. These operations involve traffic personnel, narcotics police, CID and City Hall officers.

We also send in undercover officers to infiltrate their groups and obtain intelligence on their activities,” he added.

He said police statistics showed that there were relatively-few cases in which Mat Rempits were involved in crimes like fighting or destruction of property.

He lauded recent attempts by Putera Umno to reach out to the illegal racers.

“It is a good move as they are trying to ‘civilise’ the racers. These people have a lot of determination and courage and if this can be channelled properly they can become productive members of society.”

ACP Hamzah also said illegal racing was a non-compoundable offence.

This means that if somebody is charged under this offence they will have to face the music in court,” he added.

Mat Rempit: We won't stop; Friday September 15, 2006, STAR

KUALA LUMPUR: Mat Rempit are adamant that illegal racing is here to stay if there is no effort to legitimise the "sport."

This is a direct rebuff to friendly overtures from politicians to bring them back to the fold. The illegal racers say that if the authorities really want to take them off the streets, all they have to do is build decent and affordable race tracks for them to do their "thing."

"They have been promising these things for a long time, but nothing much has been done so far," said Fairuz, 24, a mechanic by day and racer by night. The existing racetracks are inaccessible to the Mat Rempit because "we "As for the organised races, the competition is too tough for us," said a fellow enthusiast named Zaki.

Fairuz said the Sepang track was too far away from the city to be an attractive venue for the Mat Rempit - most of whom were low-income earners. "Why are there so many golf courses in the city and so few tracks? It lookslike nobody bothers about us because we have no money," he lamented.

Zaki, 25, added that Mat Rempit were not society's trash as they were often made out to be. "There are among us graduates from foreign universities as well as professionals, like architects and engineers," said Zaki who himself is a professional in the IT industry. He however conceded that the majority were despatch riders and mechanics.

Even then, all Mat Rempit should not be viewed with disdain just because of a few bad apples, he said. "All this negativity about us stems from the activities of a small number who were reported beating up people and caught for vandalism," said Zaki.

Fairuz concurred that Mat Rempit were not gangsters, just young men who thrived on the adrenalin rush from racing. "Like other sports, we can get emotional in a race. Sometimes fights break out. Then again, it is just among ourselves," he said.

Another racer named Kechik said Putera Umno's plan to convert Mat Rempit into Mat Cemerlang would not work. "Mat Rempit will gamely take part in government-organised roadshows and convoys. But after that, it's back to their cliques and street racing," said the 23-year-old university student.

Zaki said he was suspicious of the motives behind Mat Cemerlang. "Looks like someone's trying to get political mileage out of 'taming' us," he said.

Mat Rempit 'untameable' Thursday Sept 14, 2006, SATR

The attempt of Putera Umno to "tame" the 8,000 or so Mat and Minah Rempit was marred over the weekend when some of them misbehaved and purportedly indulged in vice, fights and brought shame to a mosque.

Harian Metro reported that some Minah Rempit wore revealing clothes in the mosque compound and at the Muslim graveyard when they came to clean up the area.

They were participating in the Putera Motor Merdeka Expedition Kuala-Lumpur-Teluk Batik 2006. Some of the Mat and Minah Rempit in the group also jumped into the Teluk Muroh's masjid's kolah (water storage pond) that was meant for ablution for worshippers before prayers.

Even though the locals admonished the group for their improper behaviour, this was ignored. The mosque committee then lodged a complaint with the Manjung District Religious Office (PAIDM).

PAIDM enforcement officer Mohd Zainuddin Mohamed Zaini confirmed with Harian Metro that his office had received the complaint.

In addition, he said, PAIDM also received numerous other complaints about this group of 8,000 or so Mat and Minah Rempit who were in Teluk Batik on Sept 9 and Sept 10.

He said some had checked into a hotel with males and females sharing the same room. He said they claimed that they decided to rent a room because it was not so comfortable camping by the beach.
Putera Umno head Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim: "I do not care if I become the laughing stock of society. At least I am doing something to make a change rather than to just ignore them completely. All they need is a chance to accomplish this"

The newspaper also contacted Putera Umno head Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim on the incident. He said he had not received any report of wrongdoing and believed it did not happen.

He said the group of 8,000 were tightly controlled by 100 or so Rela members, and that the 7,700 male participants were put in camps along the beach, while the 300 or so females were placed in motels. from

bullies on bikes; By STUART MICHAEL Friday September 15, 2006

ILLEGAL street motorcycle racers or Mat Rempits are the bane of motorists who travel the city's roads and highways around or after

These reckless bikers who not only endanger their lives but that of others with their dangerous riding habits have made certain parts of the city their happy hunting ground for their other passion - intimidating other motorists.

Travelling in convoys, these Mat Rempit bikers not only hog the whole road but also force others to slow down as though an ambulance or a VIP entourage was about to pass by. They also have the tendency to retaliate should anybody challenge their "authority" on the roads.

A group of Mat Rempits was once reported to have used a fire extinguisher to spray foam onto the windscreen of a motorist's car, all because the driver of the car dared to overtake them.

This incident took place in the respectable neighbourhood of Taman Tun Dr Ismail. A motorist who wished to be named only as Keith B. said he had encountered groups of Mat Rempits at least 10 times on the Penchala Link alone.

"These bikers occupy the whole road while they perform all sorts of stunts and they never let me pass.” I’m a careful driver, so I always keep my distance from them for fear of knocking them down.

"These groups are usually made up of around 50 bikers. I'm definitely afraid of being beaten up by them should I knock into any one of them," he confessed.

Kuala Lumpur, their favourite hangouts are Dataran Merdeka, Esso and the Shell petrol stations on Jalan Semantan in Damansara Heights, Jalan Pahang roundabout and the BP petrol station in Damansara Uptown.

These youths, mostly aged between 15 and 30, gather every weekend without fail. They would assemble from
11pm onwards before members of these illegal convoys start to race or to intimidate other road users.

These Mat Rempits ride common motorcycles like Yamaha RXZ, Yamaha 125Z, Honda EX5, Suzuki Panther and Scooters.

Some have a woman riding pillion to add to the night's thrills. For residents who live near these bikers' meeting points, the loud exhaust noise is also causing them to have sleepless nights on weekends.

A resident said more than 300 bikers would gather at the Esso petrol station on Jalan Semantan every Saturday. "At around
1am on Sunday, my neighbours and I would be jolted from our sleep. These bikers are a nuisance and they are not afraid despite the presence of police patrol cars occasionally.

"Mat Rempits should go to non-residential areas or open spaces to indulge in their sport. They are disturbing the peace of ordinary folks," he said.

On the whole, residents in affected areas feel that the traffic police and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) should do more to curtail the activities of Mat Rempits.

Brickbats won’t stop Mat Rempit plan ;

KUALA LUMPUR: Public criticism will not stop Putera Umno chief Datuk Abdul Azeez from continuing his efforts to change the image of the Mat Rempit (illegal street racers).

Abdul Azeez said he was confident that these youths could be shaped into model citizens and consequently, become an asset to the country.

“I do not care if I become the laughing stock of society. At least I am doing something to make a change rather than to just ignore them completely. All they need is a chance to accomplish this,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters at the launch of the Putera Merdeka Motor Expedition Kuala Lumpur-Teluk Batik at Dataran Merdeka here yesterday.

The event, themed Bermotor Sambil Berbakti (Ride and do good), was organised by Putera Umno secretariat.

About 3,000 mat rempit arrived as early as 2pm despite an approaching thunderstorm for the two-day trip. They will travel to Teluk Batik, Lumut, to meet up with another estimated 4,000 participants from the northern states.

Reactions in STAR SURVEY on Mat Rempits;

Ramp up action against Mat Rempit, say readers

PETALING JAYA: Mat Rempit are a menace that needs to be dealt with firmly.

As far as The Star readers are concerned, the illegal racers should not be treated leniently.

The 113 readers who participated in an online poll yesterday were unanimous in their opinion of the Mat Rempit, with 98.2% agreeing that they posed a hazard to road users while 99.1% wanted tougher action taken against them.

Asked if they saw any redeeming feature or positive trait in the Mat Rempit culture, reader responses ranged from the sarcastic and angry to the dispassionate and objective.

Many simply said “none” in their response to the question, while a few readers were more explicit on what they felt should be the ultimate fate of the Mat Rempit.

Said 19-year-old student Kirksman in Malacca: “They liven up the streets and kill stray cats.”

“The only redeeming feature is that when they are caught, the fines they pay go towards financing more meaningful activities,” said Alvin of Kuala Lumpur.

IT consultant Jasraj Singh, 24, concluded that there was “absolutely nothing positive or redeeming (about them).”

“You gotta be kidding,” said Ethan of Kuala Lumpur.

A small number of readers suggested that the group be given a proper outlet for their interests.

We shouldn’t condemn them entirely. We should give them a track to race on,” said Zeno, 22, of Petaling Jaya.

Soo of Ampang said the Mat Rempit showed determination and courage and possessed a competitive spirit “but these qualities should be properly channelled.”

“They should put their passion, energy and knowledge in engines and motor repair to better use,” said Terence of Kuala Lumpur.

People interviewed by The Star have the same opinion of the racers.

Kong Wai Kit, 19, said he knew of a schoolmate who was killed while racing in Sungai Kayu Ara.

It was a shame because he was only 17 and it was all about trying to prove how macho he was,” he said.

A.L. Kumar, 34, said although the sight of youths racing through the streets in Kuala Lumpur was nothing new, the groups were getting larger these days.

Ahmad Mustaqin Saari, 19, from Sungai Buloh, said he was concerned as the racers were those below 20.

It is all about showing off how brave and skilful they are,” he said.

Nineteen-year-old Lee Phui Lam believed that those as young as 16 started taking part in the races as soon as they got their licences and their parents bought them motorcycles.

And a STAR Letter asking them who is “footing the race track bill”

Saturday September 16, 2006; Mat Rempit, get off the road

I REFER to your report, “Mat Rempit: We won’t stop” (The Star, Sept 15).

First of all, Fairuz, the mechanic by day and racer by night, made a comment about there being so many golf courses and, in comparison, so few race tracks.

I am no golf fan but I still cannot see the logic of his argument. May I ask him, who exactly does he expect to foot the bill for his race tracks? We, the law-abiding tax payers, pay our road tax yet have to dice with death when we are on the road simply because somebody wants to have his adrenaline charge.

These Mat Rempit think the world owes them something, saying that they were made promises before. It seems to me they expect us to reward criminal and dangerous behaviour. I, for one, do not work 12 hours daily to finance their stupid behaviour.

It is not even safe to drive in our housing estates with these thugs defiantly racing up and down the road in front of our houses. To Zaki who claims that some Mat Rempit are educated, I must say there is more to being educated than having an overseas degree.

The paper that his qualification is printed on has very little value when he could not even make simple judgments between what is legally and morally wrong and what is right. Is it right to endanger innocent people’s lives just so that you can have your thrill?

If you kill my parents, my spouse or my children, would your education make it less painful for me to grieve over their death? And you call yourself educated!

Malaysians have been putting up with Mat Rempit for far too long. We should not tolerate them anymore or finance any programme to please them. I suggest the police or court terminate or suspend the riding licence, for at least five to 10 years, of any Mat Rempit caught racing illegally.

At least when they have to take a ride on public buses, our roads will be safer and less polluted.

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