Thursday, October 29, 2009

Conservative politician calls for debate on Muslim enclaves

Liberal [party] MP Kevin Andrews has called for a debate on Muslim "enclaves" in parts of Australia, blaming political correctness for a failure to discuss the issue. Mr Andrews, a former immigration minister who is heading the Coalition's policy unit in the lead-up to the next election, told radio broadcaster Alan Jones this morning that to "have a concentration of one ethnic or one particular group that remains in an enclave for a long period of time is not good".

And Mr Andrews told The Australian Online that it was clear that some Muslims were not "dispersing" into the community as other ethnic groups had in the past. "I don't think it's happening as rapidly as with other communities in the past. I think it's desirable," he said.

Mr Andrews coincided with a call from outspoken Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey this morning for Australia to call in the army to get asylum-seekers off the Oceanic Viking customs vessel and onshore to an Indonesian detention centre.

Asked about the growth of Muslim population in Australia, Mr Andrews said it was a topic that had to be discussed. "You should be able to talk about it ... It's ridiculous if you can't talk about any subject," he said. "When a subject becomes politically incorrect to talk about, then it ends up with a backlash. "I think part of the (Pauline) Hanson movement in the early 1990s was because some subjects were simply said to be off the table, they couldn't be discussed and a lot of Australians wanted to discuss them. "Whether they were right or wrong is not the point. In a democracy you should be able to discuss them."

Mr Tuckey said today the Prime Minister should send in the army if the asylum-seekers onboard an Australian customs vessel after 11 days at sea refused to disembark. "He can ask the army to go up there and take those people off," Mr Tuckey said. "He can send that vessel back."

Senior Liberal senator Eric Abetz said the Government would be embarrassed if it had to use force to end the stand-off. "If you're soft on border protection you then become hostage to situations like this," he said in Canberra.


Army brass knew armour was defective

Risk to Australian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan

DEFENCE chiefs were told more than a year ago about serious safety concerns with combat body armour worn by Diggers in Afghanistan. Federal Government documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph confirm troops were issued with armour with "known defects". The documents also show that top brass knew in April this year that troops were forced to use split pins and nails to prevent quick release catches on the armour from failing.

The military ordered 14,688 sets of the suspect armour under a $24 million project and by May this year more than 8400 had been delivered. Despite two years of field testing by the army, the body armour, known as the modular combat armour system (MCBAS), will now be replaced by a lightweight system called American Eagle that is worn by special forces troops.

The documents show serious failures in the original armour were identified in September 2008 and in February and April this year. Amid concerns about the impact of weight and a dodgy quick-release mechanism, the armour put soldiers at risk as they attempted to drag the body of Corporal Mathew Hopkins to safety during an ambush in Afghanistan in March this year.

An official report said the armour "did contribute to the difficulty in recovering Cpl Hopkins from an exposed position and evacuating him" to a medical post. According to one document dated September 23, 2008, the armour's quick-release system had opened "without the wearer's intent" when "simulated" casualties were dragged by the shoulder straps by two personnel.

However, despite the numerous documented complaints, Defence Materiel Organisation official Brigadier Bill Horrocks told a Senate inquiry in June "the feedback we have ... is that they are very happy with what we delivered to them; however, it is certainly heavy".

Another Defence document dated April 6, 2009 said that one inspection had found that 15 sets of the armour had failed. "Some MCBAS issued to units and members has shoulder straps with single loop brown plastic buckle. These buckles are a known defect," the document said. Another report dated February 17, 2009 said quick release could not be operated by a single hand pull if the armour was wet or submerged. Troops in Afghanistan patrol through channels and streams.


There are dangerous Tamil Tigers among illegals heading for Australia

By Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

THE debate in Australia over the influx of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka should take into consideration the nature of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan conflict that ended on May 19.

Since the LTTE's defeat, the Sri Lankan government has been weeding out hardcore LTTE fighters to ensure that the group cannot regenerate. So far, according to Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence, out of nearly 272,000 internally displaced persons, 9818 LTTE fighters have been identified and interned. Nonetheless, the government remains cautious, as suggested by Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe: "There are still some persons among the IDPs who have not disclosed their former affiliation with the LTTE."

In early August, the Sri Lankan government suspected that about 10,000 unidentified LTTE fighters were hiding in IDP camps, posing as civilians. However, in early October the leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front, Veerasingham Anandasangaree, claimed that most, if not all, of the remaining undetected LTTE fighters had fled overseas.

Sri Lankan military officials believe that two categories of refugees are fleeing: those who are fighters or who have collaborated with the LTTE; and those who are fleeing for economic reasons. Many of these civilians are known to have been strong supporters of the LTTE and constitute maveerar (war hero) families whose children fought in elite LTTE units.

In September, reports emerged that since May about 20,000 IDPs have escaped from dozens of these camps; many of them are suspected by the Sri Lankan government of being former LTTE fighters.

Conditions in these camps have been the subject of considerable media debate, but recent visits by senior foreign officials suggest that significant improvements have been made. For example, IRIN News quotes Walter Kaelin, the UN Secretary-General's representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons, as saying: "Certainly people do get food, they do get medical assistance and there is education in the camps. So from that perspective, the government and international community have done a lot."

The Indian daily The Hindu reports that 41,685 IDPs have been released and resettled and the government is engaged in the process of resettling another 58,000 in line with its target of releasing and resettling more than 70 per cent of the IDPs by January 31.

The LTTE in the diaspora is engaged in a process of reorganisation and there are no credible indications that it will move away from terrorism, a view affirmed by Canadian terrorism expert Tom Quiggin, who says: "The LTTE has not given up its program of an independent homeland, and they will continue their campaign of violence from wherever they can re-establish themselves."

It is beyond doubt that hardcore LTTE fighters have infiltrated the Tamil refugees who have arrived in Australia, as noted by Victor Rajakulendran, who represents the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations: "There will ... definitely ... be (LTTE) in these boats. The ex-combatants are in danger in Sri Lanka so they will have to flee somewhere."

Australia needs to be aware that many LTTE combatants were involved in serious acts of terrorism against Sri Lanka and its citizens, including suicide bomb attacks, other forms of bombing, torture and murder. For instance, there was a sustained LTTE campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Sinhalese and Muslim populations of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, which from 1984 to this year involved an estimated 257 attacks that killed 4485 civilians, wounded 5897 and displaced close to 200,000 Sinhalese and Muslims. Furthermore, according to Dharmalingam Siddharthan, leader of the anti-LTTE People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam, at least 10,000 dissident Tamils were eliminated by the LTTE during the conflict.

Rajakulendran claims that LTTE combatants "are not going to be fighters here. They were fighting for a cause, even if some of the tactics are unacceptable ... They are not going to fight for a cause here. They are not like Islamic terrorists." However, evidence of LTTE activities in the West suggests otherwise. For instance, a 2006 Human Rights Watch report, Final War: LTTE Intimidation and Extortion in the Tamil Diaspora, reported serious LTTE infringements of law and order in the West, including extortion, wanton intimidation, violent repression of dissenting Tamil voices and even homicide.

Canadian-Tamil journalist D.B.S Jeyaraj has written that "the activities of pro-Tiger elements in the West have often been provocative and blatantly defiant of Western laws governing terrorism. In spite of the LTTE being banned under anti-terrorism laws, the diasporic Tiger supporters have flagrantly flouted them."

Examples of serious LTTE infractions of the law in the West include: the murder of a French policeman; suspected murder of dissident Tamil journalist Sabaratnam Sabalingam; death threats to the dissident Tamil Broadcasting Corporation in Britain; assault and intimidation of dissident Norwegian-Tamil journalist Nadaraja Sethurupan; and, according to the Asian Tribune, alleged death threats against Selliah Nagarajah, a political columnist and law lecturer at the University of Western Sydney. In addition, dissident liberal Sri Lankan Tamil group University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna claims that the LTTE was responsible for the murder of Subramaniam Muthulingam, an Australian citizen who was on holiday in Sri Lanka and was known to have refused to co-operate with LTTE attempts to streamline fundraising from a Hindu temple in Perth.

Hence, based on its actions in Sri Lanka and abroad, it is not surprising that the LTTE is outlawed in 31 countries. Indeed, the US FBI website states: "The Tamil Tigers are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world (and their) ruthless tactics have inspired terrorist networks worldwide, including al-Qa'ida in Iraq."

The FBI goes on to say: "(The LTTE) perfected the use of suicide bombers, invented the suicide belt, pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks, murdered some 4000 people in the past two years alone and assassinated two world leaders (former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan president Ranasinghe Premadasa), the only terrorist organisation to do so."

While the Australian government ponders whether to outlaw the LTTE, as practically every other Western country has done since 2006, it should take an uncompromising view of LTTE combatants and operatives and ensure that a thorough screening process is conducted.

Clearly, not all the Tamil refugees coming to Australia fit this category, but those found to be members of the LTTE should be treated no differently from the way Australia would expect other countries to treat operatives of Jemaah Islamiah and al-Qa'ida.


The story behind Melbourne's famous Shrimp

Caught short with fabric

It may have been 44 years ago, but time has not clouded Jean Shrimpton's recollections of the stir she caused on Victoria Derby Day in 1965. The British model shocked Melbourne's conservative racing crowd when she wore a white mini-dress cut 10cm above the knee. Melbourne's establishment matrons were left reeling not only by the high hem, but also by the beauty's daring decision not to wear a hat, stockings or gloves.

Jean Cox - as she is now known - said she blamed herself for the controversy. "It was my fault, I suppose I wasn't very professional," said Cox. "I got asked to go to the Melbourne Cup and didn't do any research." Despite being, arguably, the world's first supermodel, she said she presumed she was being asked to attend the races because of who she was rather than what she would wear.

"People think because you are a model you are interested in fashion, and I never was," she said. She said she had no intention of upsetting the racing hierarchy -- it was merely a matter of metrics. "The fabric company who sent me the material for the dress never sent me enough material," she explained. "I said, `Nobody's going to take any notice so just make the skirt a bit shorter -- it was as simple as that. Then it caused this huge furore, which was really rather surprising."

Cox, who stopped modelling in 1972 and is the owner of chic Cornwall hotel the Abbey, run by her son Thaddeus, said she was more than happy to be out of the spotlight. "I much prefer architecture to fashion," she said.


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