Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lingam Tape: chickens coming home...?

Looks like the chickens are coming home to roost...

1988 Judicial Crisis

Five Supreme Court Judges were initially suspended
Y.A. Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh
Y.A. Datuk George Edward Seah Kim Seng
Y.A. Tan Sri Mohamed Azmi Haji Kamaruddin
Y.A. Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader
Y.A. Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Haji Wan Mohamed Salleh

After a hastily convened Tribunal,
Former Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas was sacked.
Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman
were also sacked together with Salleh.
The 1988 Judicial Crisis scarred the Judiciary forever.

Malaysia-Today Special Report here.
Tun Salleh Abbas' story here.

Senior lawyer Datuk VK Lingam cozies up to
Berjaya's Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan
and then Chief Justice Eusoff Chin in 1994

Bowman Papers:
Eusoff, Lingam allegations here.

The shocking 2002 video clip starring VK Lingam.
The damning 8-minute expose about 'soldiers', friendly parties,
and secret meetings, to fix judicial appointments
"for the sake of PM and for the sake of the country."
Who's at the other end of the line?
Apparently it's 8 minutes from a 14-minute recording,
according to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Malaysiakini Special Report here.

Chief Justice Tun Dato' Sri Ahmad Fairuz has no comments...

... and then denies all to de facto law minister
in the Prime Minister's Dept Dato'Sei Mohd Nazri.
First, in a most telling gaffe, when questioned why he was speaking
on behalf of the CJ, Nazri says,
"Because I'm his minister."

(27 Sept)

Lawyers who were stopped from entering Putrajaya
walked 3.5km up to the Palace of Justice.
Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan:
"We walk peacefully and with dignity."

It's a rare and unprecedented show of unity.

Malaysian Bar Council report here
Malaysia Today pics here
(27 Sept)

The heat is on.
While a 3-member panel to probe the video
is short of the Bar Council's call for a royal commission,
it’s an indication that enough feathers have been ruffled.
Question: Are these gentlemen the best we have to handle the probe?
Tan Sri Haidar was Registrar of the Supreme Court during the Judicial Crisis.

"But when all is said and done,
what’s the moral of this story?

It’s that we cannot expect our political leaders
- those in office and,

yes, those retired too - to bring the much-needed
reforms to this country.
That, we will have to do ourselves."

Steven Gan, Malaysiakini, 2006

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Nurin.

The dead they sleep a long, long sleep;

The dead they rest, and their rest is deep;

The dead have peace, but the living weep.

Samuel Hoffenstein

It's been confirmed. It was eight-year old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin's body that was found in the sports bag. We're all so deeply sorry. Our hearts are with the family.

"What else can I say. The DNA test shows she is my daughter. I will accept the will of God,” said Norazian.

"As a mother, I still hope the body is not my daughter's. No mother will accept the reality that her daughter was raped and killed brutally,” she was quoted as saying.

"Only God knows the extent of my sadness and grief," she said in tears
. [Malaysiakini]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The mathematics of an Islamic State

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy.
1984 [George Orwell]

Yet another day passes, and Malaysians go blithely about their business unconcerned that the PM and his cohorts have decreed that we’re Islamic (Read the PM's reply to DAP's Lim Kit Siang in BM). Whether being Islamic refers to state or country has been conveniently left undefined for reasons that are not only insincere, but downright dishonest. It appears Malaysians are to be content to be sandwich fillers – unceremoniously pressed between secularism and theocracy - which apparently serves to appease demagogues who oppose secularism on one hand, and those who fear out-and-out Talibanisation on the other. (See also Dr Chandra Muzzafar's take on this)

Although we have no shortage of grammarians or linguists to instruct our PM and our honourable parliamentarians, it saddens me that our elected leaders think nothing of shortchanging the rakyat. Those in Government must consider this sleight of hand politically expedient, if not diabolically clever. But we are not so easily fooled.

The strategy as I see it is to continue espousing the same line – that Malaysia is an Islamic state – until at last the worried populace grows weary of protesting, and submits to government dictate. Fait accompli. I can accept that Muslims should practice their faith as all good Muslims should and that Islam is the religion of the majority, but is it not fundamentally dishonest to impose such values on some 40% of the country who do not share Islamic convictions or aspirations? Is it not devious to ignore the testimony of our Founding Fathers, blatantly rewrite history while declaring allegiance to the Federal Constitution? Is this duplicity right, much less good? Are these declarations all there is to turn Malaysia Islamic? God forbid!

The Reid’s Commission made it explicit that though Islam is the religion of Malaysia, it shall not “impose any disability on non-Muslim natives professing and practicing their religions and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State.”

Who better to interpret the intent of the nation’s constitution than Malaysia’s first PM Tunku Abdul Rahman who was present during its drafting? The late and sadly forgotten Tunku is on record as saying, “I would like to make it clear that this country is not an Islamic State as it is generally understood, we merely provide that Islam shall be the official religion of the State” (Official Report of Legislative Council Debates, 1 May 1958, Column 4631 and 4671-2). But that’s only his personal opinion isn’t it?

As far as I understand, there was unambiguity of intent regarding the nation’s identity as our Founding Fathers were framing the Federal Constitution. Malaysia was meant to be secular – in the sense that no single religious dogma shall supplant or subsume the Federal Constitution at the expense of freedom of religion. To pretend and to insist otherwise is akin to telling all right thinking Malaysians that 2+2 makes 5.

Eighty years ago, a failed painter wrote these words: "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. "

That man was Hitler. He understood the relationship between propaganda and the law of repetition: "Now the purpose of propaganda is not continually to produce interesting changes for a few blase little masters, but to convince; that means, to convince the masses. The masses, however, with their inertia, always need a certain time before they are ready even to notice a thing, and they will lend their memories only to the thousandfold repetition of the most simple ideas."

Hmm, the inertia of the masses - now that's the lynchpin. This manipulation of truth in the interest of the State probably lead Orwell to say this of the Nazis a few years before he wrote 1984:

“The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, "It never happened"—well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five—well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.”

Our PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says he’s a leader of all Malaysians, fair to all. This, too, frightens me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Smart election website

Wow! This latest announcement by Google is such a smashing innovation to the practice of democratic elections and electoral information. According to Google Australia, the “world’s most powerful dedicated election website” tracks public statements by politicians down under so voters will be better informed before casting their votes:

Google's Australian-developed election site includes a feature called "On the Record", where users can type in a politician's name, along with an issue of their choosing.

It then scours parliamentary transcripts and the politician's personal website to find any statements on the issue, allowing voters to check whether their representatives are being consistent.

It also gives voters electoral information through a range of online tools including YouTube, GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps. Google said it was the first time so many features had been available on a single election website. [More]

Isn’t that something to look forward to here in Malaysia? Since I don’t expect Google will get an invitation from our supposedly forward looking MPs to do the same here anytime, perhaps a few brave net savvy souls could replicate a version of this? It would provide voters a database of our politicians (BN and opposition) and their statements off and on record, their stand on issues, and what they have been up to. Now wouldn't that be something.

On a lighter note, it might just give Amir Muhammad’s Politicians Say The Darndest Things, a run for the money.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle's light

“We do not draw people to Christ
by loudly discrediting what they believe,
by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are,
but by showing them a light that is so lovely
that they want with all their hearts
to know the source of it.”

[Thanks Madeleine. How desperately I need to learn this.]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

5cm/sec bliss

Thanks to Owen, I saw Byousoko 5cm, Makoto Shinkai’s latest 3-parter anime. Clocking just over an hour the story about unrequited love is genuinely cinematic in its feel. It’s a thing of beauty, of the sort that anime lovers can justifiably use to flay critics (um, usually parents) who see the genre as junk - mostly juvenile in content and puerile in taste. Then again works like Makoto Shinkai’s are really exceptions (not excluding screen favourites by Miyazaki). But I digress.

Anyways. This lovely film tells the story of a young boy Takaki and a girl named Akari – two close friends who though inseparable in childhood, drift inevitably apart as they grow older. Friendship turns into deep affection, but it’s nipped in the bud just as romance blossoms. School, family, and even nature come between the two.

The film is awash with symbolism – never mind that a scene or two appears a mite too heavy-handed – and enough realism to connect with any number of people who have ever been in love. So near, yet so far. Anticipation magnifies the commonplace with heart-aching clarity, and you just know Makoto Shinkai’s been there to tell the story the way he has in 5cm. In the meantime Takaki remains trapped in a world of his own with unrealised dreams as consolation – like a cosmonaut adrift in space. But Akari has moved on, blissfully unaware that Takaki still carries a torch for her.

5cm/sec is supposedly the time it takes for cherry blossom leaves to fall to the ground. It’s an apt metaphor in a film that tries to portray the effect of absence on love and life. The poignancy does not escape viewers; in fact a quiet urgency prevails, railing at how fate like gravity conspires with time and distance to rebel against the stoutest hearts.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ratatouille and St. Irenaeus

Some years ago, a friend commented that too many people settled into a utilitarian existence, caring neither for beauty or art in their lives. She lamented that few people bothered about their surroundings, ate out of newspaper wrappings and/or styrofoam boxes, and cared little about brightening up their living spaces. Why the absence of beauty? Why can’t we hang a picture on the wall, have flowers in a vase, eat our food out of proper plates, she asked?

Blame it on Maslow’s theory of needs. This might explain the hovels that students live in. Or the homes that young working adults occupy. Utterly artless and painfully functional to a fault. No drapes on windows, no food in the kitchen, non-matching utensils in the drawer, no real furniture to speak of, and no books on the shelf. No pursuits to nourish the soul. Is that any idea of living?

Such a dismal life would be disagreeable to Remy, and he’s a rat. Now, Remy is the star of Pixar’s latest animated hit, Ratatouille, and I loved it. Ratatouille tells the story of an ordinary country rat with an amazing nose and an incredible talent to match: Remy cooks. Inspired by the great French chef extraordinaire Gusteau, Remy yearns for the gourmet life – this, despite the most obvious of handicaps. He's a dirty rodent, for crying out loud!

I don’t have to tell you how this magical yarn turns out. It has a happy ending similar to all those animated box-office hits we’ve grown to love - of finding a whole new world somewhere around the bend, or in following your heart. Although it did not have the profundity of, say Toy Story 1 & 2, Ratatouille entrances in a more visceral manner, which is not a bad thing in itself. I thought it was a brilliant movie, dazzling in its depiction of Paris. And so bizarre a plot too.

There’s something else in Remy’s story that is surely a metaphor for the difference between joie de vivre and mere existence. Unlike real life rats and other animals, we have the means and the creativity to add beauty and order to our lives. I suppose one can argue that indulgences like these are beyond the ordinary student or young working adult who live on poverty-level allowances and wages anyway. Perhaps. Yet it’s not extravagance that I’m promoting; it’s choosing to live ordinary lives in an extraordinary and creative way.

St. Irenaeus got it right when he wrote that God’s glory is displayed in “Man fully alive.” God’s life and his goodness are surely a gift of grace to us. It's what gives humanity the will to rise above our circumstances and adversity. All we have to do is to choose to participate in it.

Bitten by Facebook

I didn't fall for MySpace or Friendster. But Facebook grabbed me. It's its layout - clean, uncluttered, and ease of navigation - that's what makes it a very attractive sell. Then again it's entirely up to you to mess that up with all sorts third-party Facebook apps. Anyway, the social networking bug bit. Dave Walker's cartoon says it all:

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Phishing Alert!

Everyone knows about Nigerian scams. This one I received a few days ago from a certain "Mr Patrick Chan" is the latest variation:

I am Mr. Patrick Chan, Executive Director and Chief Financial
Officer of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd. I have a concealed business
suggestion for you.

Our client Gen. Samir Abi Rahman who was with the Iraqi forces
and also businessman made a fixed deposit for 18 calendar months,
with a value of Twenty Four million Five Hundred Thousand United
State Dollars only in my branch. Several maturities notices was
sent to him, even during the war which began in 2003. Again after
the war another notification was sent and still no response came
from him. We later found out that the General along with his wife
and only daughter had been killed during the war in a bomb blast
that hit their home.

After more inquiry it was also discovered that Gen. Samir Abi
Rahman did not declare any next of kin in his official papers
including the paper work of his bank deposit. And he also confided
in me the last time he was at my office that no one except me knew
of his deposit in my bank. So, Twenty Four million Five Hundred
Thousand United State Dollars is still lying in my bank and no
one will ever come forward to claim it. What bothers me most is
that according to the laws of my country at the expiration of 5
years the funds will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong
Government if nobody applies to claim the funds. Against this
backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a
foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Gen. Samir Abi Rahman
so that you will be able to receive his funds.


I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so
that we shall come out successful. I have an attorney that will
prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next
of kin to Gen. Samir Abi Rahman. After you have been made the next
of kin, the attorney will also fill in for claims on your behalf and
secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favour
for the move of the funds to an account that will be provided by you.

There is no risk involved at all in this matter, as we are going
adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary
documents. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters
concerning this issue.Once the funds have been transferred to your
nominated bank account we shall then share in the ratio of 60% for
me 40% for you.

Should you be interested send me the following:
1, Full names,
2, private phone number,
3, current residential address,

And I prefer you reach me on my private email address
and finally after I shall provide you with more details on this operation.

Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.

Kind Regards,
Mr. Patrick Chan.

And here's a new one to beware of. It just arrived in my mailbox. The scary thing is how rampant these scams are, and how much money they are making:


YOUR EMAIL ID HAS WON $1,500,000.00(ONE Million,Five Hundred Thousand
USD) in the first category of our computer ballot email lottery.

Do contact the Details below for further Clarifications and to claim
Prize.You must contact the PAYING BANK with your Full Names,
Contact Tel No (Home, Office and Mobile Number and also Fax
No)and also with your winning informations via email to process
the immediate payment of your prize.The Validity period of the
winnings is for 30 working days hence you are expected to make your claims
immediately, any claim not made before this date will be returned to
BANK NAME :laagstehypotheekofferte

Contact E:mail:
Tel: +31-61-693-1946
Fax: +31-84-724-9563
REF No: 9590 ES 9414
(BATCH No: 573881545-NL/2007) (TICKET No:PP 3502 /8707-01)
SERIAL No: 05908 LUCKY No: 9-43-97 Congratulations!!!
APWG (Anti-Phishing Working Group)
Nigerian Fraud Email Gallery

Finally, all hostages released

Photos: BBC

AL JAZEERA: The Taliban's last three South Korean hostages have been handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after six weeks in captivity. [More]

SKY: One of them, Yoo Kyung-shik, said: "We are very sorry to the people and the government for causing concerns. [More]

AFP: "We owe the country and the people a great debt," said Yu Kyeong-Sik. "We had basically died and have got our lives back. We plan to live in a way that will make you proud, and we promise that to you and we will repay our debt." [More]

CHRISTIANITY TODAY: "Remorse is the face of the church," said Park Eun-jo, senior pastor of Saemmul Church. The Presbyterian congregation that sponsored the trip, in the Seoul suburb of Bundang, has a weekly attendance of about 5,000 people.

"Koreans, particularly those who are not receptive to Christianity, are very emotional and critical about this incident," he told Christianity Today. "Because of the hostage situation, people withheld their opinions, but since they are released, people are now really letting us have what they think." [More]

REUTERS: AFGHANISTAN'S Taliban plan to abduct and kill more nationals from foreign countries whose troops serve under NATO and the US military in the country, a spokesman for the Islamic movement warned today.

The vow comes just days after the Taliban released 19 South Korean hostages after their Government struck a deal that critics said sets a dangerous precedent that could spur more kidnappings and make life even more dangerous for foreigners.

"We consider it (kidnapping) as an arm that can help us in imparting a blow to the enemy," Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"Kidnapping ... and killing of (nationals) of those countries who have come for the annihilation of the nation of Afghanistan, are works which suppress the enemy," he added. [More]