Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gaddafi the 'evangelist'

Does this sound bizarre to you?


LIBYAN dictator Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi asked an escort agency for 500 "beautiful Italian girls" to be supplied for a gala evening in Rome at which he tried to convert them to Islam, it emerged yesterday.

Col Gaddafi, 67, also requested that they "were aged between 18 and 35 years old, at least 5ft 7in tall and did not wear mini-skirts or plunging necklines, but high heels were OK".

The women, all beautifully dressed, were told to meet at a city centre hotel in the Italian capital, where he is attending a summit on world food security, before being taken to the Libyan ambassador's residence.

Once inside – and after an hour's delay – Col Gaddafi arrived in a white stretch limousine to lecture the women on the superiority of Islam and how they should all convert. He also gave a talk on the Koran and gave them all a copy as a gift as well as a signed copy of his Green Book, an outline of his political philosophy written in 1975. [More here]
In case you're wondering how the evening went, here's what Alessandro Londero, of Rome-based Hostessweb, who supplied the women said in the same report:
"It was a very enjoyable experience and the girls were captivated by the evening.

"Some of them have already been in touch with me to express an interest in going to Libya and seeing the place for themselves and speaking further with Gaddafi about converting to Islam.

"He gave the girls Italian translations of the Koran and of his Green Book, and he said he would be in touch with them to test them and make sure they had read them."
Another report said Gaddafi spoke for one hour during which the women were given nothing to eat or drink. Accompanied by two of his female bodyguards, the Libyan ambassador and an interpreter, he reportedly said, "It is not true that Islam is against women." Before offering each woman a copy of the Koran, he shouted at them: "Convert to Islam, Jesus was sent for the Hebrews, not for you.”

Thursday, October 01, 2009

YouTube's Best & Worst

Enough of bad news!

Here's something I picked up after a visit to TIME: The Best and Worst of YouTube in 4 minutes. Ahhh, the joy of other people's misfortune.....

Monday, September 07, 2009

Enough of cow dung. Here's one for the birds

Jarbas Agnelli saw a picture of birds on the electric wires, cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). This was the result:

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Friday, September 04, 2009

No, it's NOT ok to threaten bloodshed

Malaysian Insider
“They are not getting off scot-free. They felt victimised and feel that there is another valid explanation on their part. There was no intention on their part to cause racial divide. They, the organisers, who are sitting left and right of me, didn’t even know that somebody was going to bring the head of the cow during that demonstration.”


We, the undersigned organisations, condemn Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for defending the cow-head protesters and justifying their incitement of violence and hatred. He should now resign or be sacked as home minister as he cannot commit to law and order.

The most important issue in the cow-head incident is the threat of violence against the Shah Alam Hindu community and the Selangor government. The police must investigate not based on the vaguely defined Sedition Act, but on whether the protesters threatened bloodshed if the temple relocation was carried out. The lame excuse that the cow head was brought by unknown persons is completely irrelevant.

Nobody must be allowed to threaten with violence just because they feel “victimised”. Anyone who does so must be punished by law. Otherwise, society would sink into anarchy.

By suggesting that “if it can be resolved quickly and can be done with both sides understanding each other … why would we want to penalise anybody?”, Hishammuddin is actually encouraging the threat of violence as a means to negotiate.

A home minister by portfolio and a lawyer by training, Hishammuddin has brought both his office and profession to unprecedented shame with his disregard for the law. Because he has turned the minister of law and order into the minister against law and order, he must resign or be sacked.

The prime minister must now act boldly to keep his 28 Aug 2009 promise that action will be taken against the perpetrators who incited violence. If the police refuse to investigate them and the deputy public prosecutor refuses to charge them for violence, Malaysians will believe that such threats of violence are condoned by the Datuk Seri Najib Razak administration as a political means.

Hishammuddin’s justification of the cow-head protest by painting the perpetrators as victims also legitimises and indirectly encourages communal hatred. This can be explosive if it results in retaliating insults across communities, as all can claim to feeling victimised. By sympathising with the perpetrators, Hishammuddin is also tarnishing Malaysia’s image by demonstrating that Malaysian ministers legitimise hatred.

This is most unfortunate when over 70 civil society groups representing different ethno-religious communities and sectors have issued a joint Merdeka message calling all Malaysians to delegitimise violence and hatred.

* Civil Right Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
* People’s Parliament
* Civil Society Committee, LLG Cultural Development Centre
* Centre for Policy Initiatives
* Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
* The Micah Mandate
* Writer Alliance for Media Independence
* Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform
* Justice for Beng Hock Facebook Group
* Centre for Independent Journalism
* Suara Rakyat Malaysia
* All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (Awam)
* Image Group
* Hindraf
* Council of Malaysian Indian Trustee
* Persatuan Kebajikan Wawasan Cahaya Selangor
* Persatuan Bharatham Negeri Selangor
* Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (Dema)
* Editorial board of Horizon e-journal
* Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia
* Sisters in Islam

Thursday, August 27, 2009

PAS wins. Who lost?

(Photo: The STAR)

Fantastic! PAS wins Permatang Pasir. As I see it, that's ominous for two reasons: one good, the other bad

ONE.

It spells good news that PR’s election sweep back in March last year was no lucky fluke. It marked an important milestone for the rakyat. Riding on the IT wave and torrents of discontent, Malaysians found their much suppressed voice, and together discovered there was significantly large numbers to their cry for change.

Ordinary rakyat want a nation to be proud of, not one shaped by the shrill rhetoric of ketuanan melayu and religion. Sure, the threats unnerved and unsettled. Because the institutions and instruments of government, the civil service, and judiciary, remain in the clutches of the ruling powers, we know they still hold the trump card. And certainly the warped logic of race and religion has not lost its appeal among a particular segment of Malaysia’s diverse populace, and they too appear to number in the tens of thousands, even millions.

Yet, looking back on the run-up to the Permatang Pasir by-election and the convincing win by PAS, it is now clear: those who continued to spew racist bile and religious venom, who supported divisive politics, were really a small bitter troupe of diehards whose small minds could not understand the big picture.

On the contrary, the voices for change were much, much, more than the small pockets of dissent that BN made us out to be. We were more than the usual coterie of NGOs and social activist misfits that UMNO gleefully tarred in their pathetic MSM.

We were not the handful of intellectual idealists locked away in musty ivory towers. We were not servile, decadent westernized myopics who did not understand Malaysian realities. We were Malays, Chinese, Indians, dan lain-lain who, in spite of inherent prejudices and mutual suspicions, believed there could still be a future together in the land we were born. We were none of the above and all of the above. We were the voice of a silent majority who nevertheless muted these fears, rose above petty communalism, and spoke loudly with our votes.

Yes, we had had enough of the way BN and its UMNO chiefs who ran roughshod over the shared aspirations of millions who desired a better Malaysia. Enough looting! Enough segregation! And deep in our heart of hearts, our longing for ONE Malaysia for ALL Malaysians under the rule of the highest authority in the land - the Federal Constitution, remains undiminished.

So yes, the Permatang Pasir by-election victory by PAS and PR is an ominous sign that the countdown to BN’s demise is ringing out clearer than ever. Fantastic!

TWO.

PAS’s win is either a thumbs up for the conservatives or the so-called Erdogans. Dressed in the same garbs, most people out there can't tell one from the other anyway. However you see it, it is surely true that the victory is getting to some of their leaders’ heads. PAS is beginning to imagine that PR had better march to the beating of their drum; that by virtue of their clout and religious credentials, they alone have the divine mandate to govern. Or at least, among the disparate coalition of infidels, beer drinkers, concert idolizers and neo-liberal muslims, above all PAS believes they alone have cleaner hands.

And this is ominous for the future of an opposition coalition so delicately held together by the charisma of one man.

PR had better decide here and now how long more Malaysia will remain schizophrenic. Anwar has apparently modified his stance and does not want to label Malaysia Islamic but he neither wants to be PM of a decidedly ‘secular’ state. But the rakyat who cast their votes for PR deserve better than a stance or an opinion or a public statement. We’re simple folks who may not always know what is it that we have lost – money, freedoms, rights, justice, public trust, etc – but we pretty much have an idea who has taken them away. So please, don’t squander our votes.

We want PR to return the Federal Constitution to its position of authority, and please quit the bellyaching semantic pranks of the past. You can fool some people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.

Tell us to our faces: will Malaysia become a nation where Michael Learns To Rock is banned out of respect for Islamist sensitivities? Should non-Muslims rejoice that Muslims are barred from a Black Eyed Peas concert? Will we become a nation of flogged women? Is moral policing now de rigueur? Are Bar Council forum-wrecking antics by the Zulkifli Nordins of this world to be tolerated now? Is the khalwat busting regiment of PAS suddenly acceptable because it’s dressed in PR clothes? Are we too far down the slippery slope already to count on PR to set things right? Or have we all been duped?

PAS may have won, but unless and until everyone in the opposition coalition put their house in order, PR has lost. Pakatan Rakyat has only one chance. You blow it, and we all pay.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who's got the last laugh?


During the last US elections, one poster caught the attention of both Democrats and Republicans. And now the truth is out: the one who made the image was no angry Republican but a young man who didn't think Obama was "liberal" enough. Read the whole story here.

As the report made clear, the label socialist surely was totally wrong. The Joker was an anarchist and no socialist. Firaz Alkateeb who 'jokerised' Obama wasn't responsible for the caption, but the guys who did it certainly got their economic theory confused with pop iconography. But one thing Firaz isn't confused about is what he believes the 44th US President is made of:
"After Obama was elected, you had all of these people who basically saw him as the second coming of Christ," he told the Los Angeles Times. "From my perspective, there wasn't much substance to him."
Anyways.

Speaking as an adman, the business of appropriating an image and redefining its meaning is old hat. Lots of politicians are old hands at this. Like if you keep telling people that being disbarred is not the same as being convicted, you might just get enough people to swallow it.

Now that's a joke.

Friday, August 07, 2009

No to internet censorship


I have a few questions:

If it is true that the Government "has no desire to implement internet filtering" who gave orders for the tender exercise?

What then are we to make of the "four proposals" submitted to the National Security Council led by PM Najib? Have these companies been misled into wasting money and man-hours on a wild goose chase?

How are we to explain the different versions of the internet filter story? Rais said Yes. PM said Yes, but No.

Is the Government's intention really to filter porn? Or are they really after dissent? If it is really after both porn AND dissent, is the Government lying to the rakyat about its true intentions?

If filtering the internet "doesn't work" why is there a need for the matter to be decided by the Cabinet? Why does Rais say the Government " was still studying the filtering process"?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

5 good things about Pakatan Rakyat

#1

I think it’s a good thing that component parties of Pakatan
are throwing stones at each other publicly.
At least we'll know which ideological issues
are more important than the Constitution
(which is already as good as toilet paper anyway).

#2


I’m honestly glad that all this backstabbing is going on
in Pakatan circles. People get to see how Pakatan politicians
and their machais are so unlike UMNO
who merely wield kerises but never use them.

#3

I’m thrilled that Pakatan parties are taking their time
to get down and dirty to fix their differences
or discipline renegades in their midst (or is it Anwar?) .
People may say they're slow,
but I prefer to think they're thorough.

#4

I’m delighted that after giving Pakatan their votes,
groups of people are now threatening
to desert them for the party's ineptitude.
Trust me - when they have had enough
of Ketuanan Melayu they'll come running back.

#5

I’m elated that a year and a half after Pakatan’s win,
Malaysians are beginning to realize
that turning a 52-year old ship around
doesn’t happen at the stroke of a pen.
It will probably take another 52 years.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We've lost Yasmin

YASMIN AHMAD (1958 - 2009)


I do not say it lightly when I write that Yasmin was a true Malaysian. Her works envisioned a society so guileless in ways we imagine Malaysia could never be – multicultural, multiracial, multilingual, many selves going about lives in the most unself-conscious way.

People were normal and the eccentricities of race or religion were not sharp edges to be avoided. Instead, in the world that Yasmin pictured and in the films she made, they were embraced - eyes unblinking - without irony or fear. People were people under their skin, immersed in the polyglot of everyday conversations that looked and sounded like Malaysia.

In Yasmin’s version of Malaysia, people were the same at the core of their being - however messed up their lives, whatever desires possess them, whichever direction they face when they prayed. No one was less noble than the other, none excluded, everyone's fates interwoven. They were our mirrors, and they reminded us that in her world as it is in our own, we are all poorer without each other.

The stories that Yasmin told imagined a society that could be. Sadly, they seemed also to be tales of a far, far away land, of a once-upon-a-time people, bathed in light and music resembling ephemera now lost and never to be retrieved.

We'll miss you Yasmin.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wasted Salt and Dim Lights


What does it take to rouse people into action? Where is the Church when injustice and corruption stalk the land? A friend of mine wrote a letter to her fellowship group challenging them to do more than talk.

Last Friday in our cell meeting we talked about being salt and light, and how to impact our communities. There were only a few of us but we had a lively discussion. Jesus used the metaphor salt to indicate that Christians should be the preservative factor to prevent moral decay in the world. We talked about helping others, praying, listening, finances, etc... which are all good and commendable.

However, I cannot help but wonder how we Christians should respond to the reality of the terrible injustices that have plagued our land for so many years. If you subscribe to God being sovereign, then there is no dispute He has placed you and I in Malaysia at this time and age. I refer to the recent Teoh Boon Hock's case.

I had asked: Why do Christians call themselves salt and light when they seem unperturbed by what's happening to their neighbours and country? Are we numbed by all this blatant abuse of power... (as just another Malaysia Boleh thing?) Or are there other things Christians should prioritise, ie, evangelism programmes & building funds, etc?

But would we have kept quiet if Teoh was our son or brother? What happened to the greatest commandments to love God and our neighbour? Are Christians to be known for what they don't do (drink, gamble, protest, etc) rather than being praised for what their good deeds are?

I've gotten these responses:

"Oh, please don't bring politics into the church. What if it gets closed down?"

"We must use wisdom."

"Jesus never involved himself in politics."

"All we can do is pray..."

On the other hand, personalities like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr are hailed from our pulpits as outstanding examples of Christian character. Pardon, if my memory serves me well, they were not people who backed down nor kept quiet in the face of gross injustice and tyranny. And they gave their lives for it - Wilberforce died poor in his cousin's house. King was assassinated.

I am not saying everyone should be an activist, go out with placards shouting slogans. I am suggesting that Christians should start thinking differently, if we say we serve a God of justice for the oppressed, downtrodden and poor.

"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men & women to do nothing".


(Note: Letter reproduced with kind permission of the writer)

Friday, July 17, 2009

1Malaysia plunges to new low



MACC deputy commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohammad said with the five scrutinising bodies (the Special Committee on Corruption, Operations Review Panel, Corruption Prevention and Consultative Panel, and a Complaints Committee), the MACC hopes that it would not be accused of being the lapdog of the government. “They are experts with high integrity and respected by the community at large, comprising corporate figures, members of non-governmental organisations, legal professionals and academicians.”

Enough barking: Show us you are no mere lapdogs. Please.


Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri: "Don't just accuse MACC of being responsible for this. If they (Pakatan) keep accusing them and their statements are made public, the people would form their opinions even before the investigation (on the death) is completed."

We're not accusing anyone of guilt; we're asking that the parties involved take responsibility. Tragically, few people in Malaysia are certain if our honourable ministers know the meaning of the word RESPONSIBILITY. In case you want to know, here's the dictionary definition:

1. The obligation to carry forward an assigned task to a successful conclusion. With responsibility goes authority to direct and take the necessary action to ensure success.
2. The obligation for the proper custody, care, and safekeeping of property or funds entrusted to the possession or supervision of an individual.

See also accountability.

Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safekeeping. See responsibility.


"I know the police force will conduct a thorough and transparent investigation as we would not want anybody to cover up the truth," says DPM Muhyiddin Yassin

We all know what the police farce are capable of. Unfortunately, a thorough and transparent investigation is not one of them. We have all seen the very transparent outcomes of their investigations: there are too many corpses to miss.


“What’s going on?”
“How can this be happening?”

People ask what is going on; they want to know why it is happening. Have people no idea what is happening to the country? Are they being serious, or is that a rhetorical question?

God have mercy on us all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another vote against the Great Language Reversal

David Matthew of MySinChew gets to the bottom of the language backpedal:

SOME WEEKS AGO I wrote about a letter I received from a person who shall not be named which began with the words “With referencing to the above, please see my bottom”. Having read my article, many people begged me to reveal the identity of the person guilty of such appalling English.

My response was that it did not matter. Terrible English is everywhere in this country and there was no need to single this person out.

I was browsing through some shops a few months back when I came across a sign that said “Please do not touch yourself. We will help you.” Needless to say, I fled the scene as fast as my legs could carry me.

More recently I had dinner at a popular restaurant near a popular roundabout in Petaling Jaya. The quality of the English on the menu was dreadful. For vegetables, we had a choice between the “Lecture” which I believe should have been spelt lettuce and the irresistible bacteria sounding “Coli Flower” which was no doubt the cauliflower.

We were laughing so much while ordering but the waitress was oblivious to the joke. She herself could barely string a sentence of English together.

The Government’s decision to reverse the policy on the teaching of Science and Maths in English is both wrong and selfish. Coming at the heels of Datuk Seri Najib’s hundredth day as Prime Minister, the reversal is a reflection of a Government that clearly lacks the political will to make the right decision.

Let us not be concerned about the future of our children because we have to worry about the political repercussions if the policy is not reversed. In a nutshell, that seems to have been the basis of the decision.

The fact that the majority of ordinary Malaysians want English to remain as the medium of instruction for these two subjects has been nonchalantly ignored. The independent poll by the Merdeka Centre shows this quite clearly and the ongoing poll on Tun Dr. Mahathir’s blog is a foregone conclusion the way it is going thus far.

When Tun Dr. Mahathir re-introduced English for teaching Science and Maths, he justified the policy by arguing that much of the contemporary scientific literature was written in English and that it would be near impossible to translate all of it into Bahasa. This was because to translate requires three qualifications – fluency in English, fluency in Bahasa and expertise in the subject. Tun Dr. Mahathir opined that there are just not many people who can do this.

The former Prime Minister was dead right. Further, translations also take time. Scientific papers or textbooks released today become outdated extremely quickly. By the time it is translated into Bahasa, students in other countries are already reading more current material.

Proponents of the reversal take the rather misguided view that since this is Malaysia, we should just be speaking Malay and that is the most important thing. They also point to France as an example and say look at the French and how they insist in using French for everything.

With respect, Bahasa is not French. It will never have the reach of French globally and students in other countries are not going to flood into language classes just to learn Bahasa.

In any event, M. Xavier Bertrand, the former French Minister of Health was apparently once quoted as having said “I didn’t consider that as Health Service Minister, I would need English. I was wrong.” (Read the rest here)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Flip-flops 'R' Us


Here we go (again).
Another view on the politics of education here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

MJ and Mohan

There's a huge sending off party for Michael Jackson in downtown Los Angeles. I hear the megawatt ceremony will include A-listers from Hollywood and the music industry. Hence the tight security and all that.

Here in Malaysia, people are asking if MJ really became a Muslim. That would matter if MJ was Malaysian or resident in Malaysia. Hmm.

Right now the tussle over the late Mohan Singh's status - was he Muslim or wasn't he - has once again highlighted the continuing bizzare 'body-snatching' practices of our own religious authorities.

Anyway, the Shah Alam High Court has finally decided against Mohan's family and ruled that the deceased was indeed a Muslim when he died (albeit a 'secret' convert, seeing the family knew nothing about it) and should therefore be buried according to Muslim rites. The dead man obviously had no say, and neither did the grieving family. But armed with the court ruling the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) went ahead with the funeral. Mohan's sending off was 'huge' too, but of a decidedly different sort. Hence the tight security and, well....you know.

It's a terrible shame that these 'body-snatching' episodes continue. It's something you don't wish on anyone. No one truly gains from it - neither the grieving family, nor the religious authorities.

But what I fail to understand is, why aren't the Islamic authorities attempting to explain what's the rationale behind the need for a Muslim to have a Muslim burial? We know it is customary for Muslim burials to take place before sunset, but few know anything more beyond this.

How is it so important that the whole force of legislation (Syariah and civil) and physical might are exerted on one poor grieving family? Some other questions come to mind:
-Does it compromise the deceased's destiny in the afterlife?
-How does a burial ritual add merit to the deceased (or the Muslim community)?
-Does it compromise the Muslim community's integrity or sensitivity in this life?
-Is it a matter of religious pride or divine obligation, or merely a convention of Malaysian Muslims?
-What is the practice like in other Muslim communities or Islamic countries, or is there anything to be learnt from their traditions?
-How does Islam address the pain of the grieving non-Muslim family, or do we infidels count for nothing?
-Does it bring divine judgment on the Muslim community if one Muslim escapes proper funeral rites?
Enlighten us. Please. Tell us why the Muslim burial ritual is of such great importance (in contrast to other non-Islamic religious practices perhaps). I ask this sincerely. I really think there are many people out there who want to understand this issue to better empathise with all parties concerned.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson, RIP

Michael Joseph Jackson
1958 ~ 2009

Who among us wasn't shocked? We grew up with him and his siblings. Born in the same year as I was, MJ as one of the Jackson 5 hit the charts and got us singing, "I'll Be There." I remember how as kids we compared The Osmonds with Jackson 5. C'mon. Michael Jackson vs Donny Osmond? It's the passing of an incredibly gifted entertainer and performer. There were so many things that caught our attention, dazzled us. And made us cringe. Creepy, we said. Indeed, it was as if his talent was his tragedy. He made us sit up and listen. And he made us look.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I don't get it

I’m sorry, I don’t get it.

I really really don’t get it.

Does Nizar and his cohort really have to resort to such antics to get noticed? The drama is totally uncalled for. I understand the skullduggery that left Pakatan out in the cold; you are all justifiably angry and repulsed by BN’s shameless power grab. Surely you would have noticed that thousands are just as mad and just as vehemently opposed to this unconscionable hijack.

But pray tell, what did this morning’s drama achieve? Did Pakatan think the stunt pulled by the Perak ADUNS would draw more sympathy and swing more votes their way?

We want a new breed of politicians, not BN clones. We want politicians who lead, not merely react. All this grandstanding reflects neither wit nor intelligence. If politics is all about perception, what sort of impression do you think you all made? You have simply played into the hands of BN and detractors, and confirms that Pakatan's political playbook is so devoid of imagination that pranks now substitute for good sense.

I’m sorry, I don’t get it.

I really really don’t get it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Fishy

This was strange.

I was driving along Damansara about 11 in the morning when I heard tooting on my left. A guy on a motorbike was tailing me, his pillion rider pointing to my rear tyre and making time-out gestures. Scruffy looking gents too. My first instinct was to pullover at the side of the road (and I did slow down), until I noticed that the motorbike was doing the same. Fortunately I had the presence of mind not to stop and drove to the nearest petrol station instead. The motorbike kept abreast for a while but probably sensing that I wasn’t stopping, took a left turn and disappeared into the traffic.

5 minutes later at the petrol station, I got out to inspect the car. Nope. Nothing visibly wrong with the tyres. Everything was a-ok.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to lose a battle and stay cool at the same time

I must admit the unpleasant business of the police harassing people and detaining them is beginning to get to me. Imagine detaining the vendors who were hired to put up the canopy and the balloon. This is sheer intimidation and abuse of power. It is nothing but a shameful and gutless display of brute force in the service of political masters. Is the ordinary Malaysian to look away and pretend this is really for the good of the nation? Is this how BN hopes to gain lost ground, earn our respect?

No, I think we have long passed the point of no-return. That way is the hard way. Besides it would take too long and asks too much of BN. No, the politicians who hold the levers of power have a new game plan. Better to be feared than to be loved, writes Machiavelli, and it’s his playbook they are following. So they no longer brook any dissent, and they want us to know it. If you ask me, all this clampdown and play tough are nervous convulsions of a creature in the throes of death.

Meanwhile, I am disappointed with Nizar and the Pakatan aduns in Perak. I know you have had the rug pulled from under your feet. Hey, I am on your side. Perhaps I do not understand politics and how one needs to resort to drama and public spectacle to spite your opponents. Maybe I underestimate the appeal of the theatrical as a political tactic.

But don’t you think all this BN-baiting gets tiresome? Fasting. Hunger strikes. Balloons, etc. Perhaps there’s a place for this. But please think about how to behave like a ‘government in waiting’ as Neil Khor wrote. Yes, we need thought-leaders. We need leaders who speak the language of government and not juvenile one-upmanship of the playground. You all still have constituencies to serve. Show some dignity. Don’t be like a yelping dog that’s lost a bone. Be cool. Behave. Be different. You may have lost a battle, but there's a very very good chance you'll win the war.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rais' pipeline

Here we go again.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim feels obliged to let us know (again) that the space for free speech (er, for want of a better description) around us is shrinking. Fast. In a news report, our old, new minister claims there is a 'proposal' by some quarters to register bloggers, that while it's a "good idea" our minister thinks it needs indepth study. Bloggers are grateful for the reprieve.
"Meanwhile, we are studying a new Act, the Multimedia Signature Act, which has been in the pipeline the past three years. This Act is expected to support the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998," he said.
Well, the man is busy busy keeping the pipeline flowing for sure.

If you ask me, all these pronouncements since Rais took office (and in the wake of March 8 too) are part of an ongoing psy-war to put the lid on dissenting voices. A hint here, a dinner there, a meet-the-bloggers session, another comment on acts and laws, a reminder on patriotic songs, etc. They have the cheery disposition of Hannibal Lecter - mildly genial, but laced with menace.

Newspaper editorials are on the offensive - more than ever. TV is unapologetically slathering viewers with propaganda and spin. And no, you're not allowed to mention a certain mongolian. Nor are we allowed to see the poor Perak speaker manhandled and dragged out like a sack of potatoes.

Out on the streets, candlelight and black are ingredients for a night in the slammer. It's amazing what a shiny badge and a loudhailer can do to an otherwise dawdling man in blue. The police are flexing their muscles with new found relish arresting people for illegal assembly - imagine, 40 riot police descending on 16 non-violent protesters. Lawyers are detained for doing their job. So who's minding the streets and keeping us safe from the mat rempits (or samseng jalan, now that these guys no longer enjoy UMNO youth's attention)?

Something is certainly going on, since our new PM heaved upon the stage in a blaze of PR, trumpeting a new national slogan. But it's all ear candy. You can fool some people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time. Malaysians know the 1 thing on PM Najib's mind and the 1 thing on BN's agenda. And it's not about what the people need.

The Empire is striking back.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

SELL OUT sells!


Local indie movies are usually not what I have in mind for entertainment. But I have to admit that SELL OUT tickled more than the proverbial funny bone in unexpected ways. Director Yeo Joon Nam’s first full length feature was actually fun and I dare say, sufficiently entertaining to give Singapore’s Jack Neo a run for his money.

I went into the cinema with fingers-crossed, half expecting a kind of cringe-worthy TV drama in widescreen. The place was half empty, but then I said to myself it’s not Slumdog Millionaire. Yeo has talent to spare (even if this is his debut feature) and he’s out to tell us that yes, he’s a serious contender. Well, at least it did not look like a Petronas TV commercial, and it wasn’t all boring talking heads or meandering scenes in cinema verite.

SELL OUT’s wry take on corporate greed, reality shows, art, and our fixation on pan-Asian faces struck a chord. Some scenes were laugh-aloud funny – not because we’ve never seen comedy like this before, but because they were true-to-life. Minutes into the film, I was sold.

But alas, it’s an uneven film. Billed as a musical, the songs were interesting but it would have been good if they were at least, er, hummable (now this is where Yeo can take a leaf out of Jack Neo’s songbook). I thought the whole thing could have worked just as well without the singing bits, clever as they were.

No, it would be unkind to say the multi-talented director was trying to be too clever (he writes, directs, edits, composes the songs). Well, there were lots of clever ideas and vignettes of contemporary Malaysia. And then some. There were just too many ideas popping up in too many directions that I thought he got carried away as auteurs often do. Goes to show how hard it is to make a funny movie.

Nevertheless, the good parts pretty much make up for these missteps. Yeo’s got a keen eye. It’s not a movie to be ashamed of, and I certainly I have no reservation recommending it. Heck, I'll buy the DVD too. Definitely a talent to look out for. Talking about Jack Neo, SELL OUT could almost be a non-Malaysian movie. You know, 110 minutes, and hardly a Malay or Indian in sight (ok, there was an Indian doctor).

Note: SELL OUT won the Venice Young Cinema Award for Alternative Vision. Visit the official website for more news and reviews.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It ain't over yet!


Okay, did we speak too soon? Should've known there was going to be an appeal?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nizar is MB!


This is fantastic news! The Kuala Lumpur High Court declares Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful MB of Perak. So, there is hope after all in our Judiciary? It's a small step forward, but what a giant footprint!

Meanwhile, we wait with bated breath to see whether it means the end of the circus or the beginning of another one.

Franky, I'd like to see more decorum, more self-control by Pakatan. I understand the difficulties - everything's stacked against you, the royalty, the police, the federal govt, the courts, the police, the MSM. Their backs against the wall. No point stooping to the BN's whoop-it-up and muscle-flexing ways. There's got to be a real paradigm shift in the way Pakatan politicians confront their opponents.

Anyway. Fresh wind's a-blowing...

(Pix: Anilnetto.com)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Tired of politics?

Infamy. Debacle. Rape. Black Day. Shameful. Chaos. Bedlam. Mayhem. Shocking. Murder. Unconstitutional. Cavalier. Theatrical. Fiasco. Coup d’√Čtat. WWF. Unlawful. Undemocratic. Death of Honour. Imbroglio. Violent. Unjust. Immature. Harsh. Faces worse than coffin planks. Childish. Disrespectful. Anarchy. Crude. Brutal. Contemptuous. Uncivilised. Unreasonable. Unprecedented. Unfortunate. Dreadful. Political Bigotry. Angry. Sad. Regrettable. Illegal. Colossal error. Misjudgement. Scandal. Hypocrisy. Manipulation. Desperate. Shameless. Disgusting. Cruel. Disaster. War-zone. Ludicrous. Scandalous. Illegitimate. Bleak. Rubbish. Boorish. Disgraceful. Disaster. A new low. Public odium. Unruly. Mockery. Unethical. Orchestrated. Disgraceful. Immature. Spectacle. Bad taste.

Some of the more colourful (but printable) descriptions of the horror that greeted Malaysians on May 7.

But 'tired'? TIRED? "On the streets of Ipoh, many are tired of politics."

It always strikes me as strange that people say they are tired at the way politics is turning out, and that they don't care who is in power because "... I still have to wake up every morning, wash my face and go to work. I just want stability."

Of course it matters who the government is. The one who is in power is the one that will determine whether we get to wake up and go to work, and whether there's a place for all our children to call home. Peace, stability. Cari makan. You can't have that when there's no justice and integrity, when basic civil rights are rubbished with brute force and arrogance.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Malaysia weeps!

Pix: Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Advantage BN

PM Najib has stolen the thunder from Pakatan with a timely Cabinet ruling on child conversion following the latest controversy involving Hindu mother Indira Ghandi. Several religious groups and NGOs were reportedly happy and so was I.
To soothe uneasiness over the controversial conversion of minors to Islam, the Cabinet decided on Wednesday that Muslim converts had to meet their marriage commitments and raise their children in the religion they were in at the time of their marriage.

It also directed the Attorney-General to look at which laws need to be amended in line with the decision to stop the conversion of minors without the consent of both parents. [More]
Indeed. Laws need to be amended so that the Cabinet’s decision carries weight.

"A directive has no legal effect in the court of law. It may be persuasive in court but again, it has no legal effect," said lawyer A. Sivanesan who’s acting on behalf of Indira Ghandi.

You could say the Cabinet decision was a compromise of sorts and there remain grey areas to address. There is still some wrangling, and a father gone AWOL. The point however is, it is a step forward.

This puts Pakatan in a quandary and as reports start coming in, DAP and PAS are again on opposite ends of the debate, with PKR trying to straddle the ideological divide. Whatever PKR may be saying about the coalition adopting a ‘middle-path’ and as commendable as the stance may be, it waits to be seen whether the middle-pathers will not succumb to the Islamists.

It is one thing for Syed Husin Ali to say that Pakatan needs only a ‘minimum’ to keep together (which presumably means the basic tenets required to stay together as a viable opposition coalition). That’s fine, but surely we who have voted in Pakatan have the right to expect more.

Sure, the coalition is not a monolithic homogeneous entity, and we understand the ride ahead will be bumpy. But the message of March 8 and the end of the political journey is not merely the establishing of Pakatan; it is the sustaining and nurture of higher ideals, i.e., the freedom to be Malaysians without the triangulation of race, religion and class, founded upon a common vision of justice, equality, integrity towards a progressive and prosperous nation. This means whatever stance Pakatan adopts had better move us all closer to this hope.

Anyway, as encouraging as BN’s decision is, I can’t help but feel a little bothered and more than a bit cynical. While JAKIM, PUM, the Perak Mufti, and other Islamist NGOs are making all the requisite noises, the Cabinet decision appears pretty much a done thing. You know, just get the AG to amend laws, etc. Just like that, with a press release and a stroke of the pen. QED. All these men and women strutting down those proverbial corridors of power can at a moment’s notice sit down and arrive miraculously at a consensus.

Imagine how long we have had to put up with mobs, mothers separated from children, bodies snatched from mortuaries, juvenile spin by one minister or another, threats of another May 13, tough talk by religious groups, etc. It goes to show that if the powers-that-be really wanted to resolve conflicts however sensitive these issues are, they could have. Yet they did not. Can you blame cynics when they conclude that all this feet-dragging was because BN’s interest wasn't served?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The real Susan Boyle

What’s more astonishing: that someone like simple homebody Susan Boyle could bring people to tears with her voice, or that millions who’ve made her a Youtube sensation think such a talent is just too good to be true? Susan has just gone through the first rounds of audition but millions want her to succeed on the talent show.

Now they’ve unearthed a song that Susan recorded for a charity album 10 years ago and the frenzy’s started all over again. Cry Me a River is sure to be another viral hit. It’s a wonderfully, perfectly rendered interpretation, but I have to admit it didn’t do it for me – it just lacks the emotive punch (Check out Julie London who first recorded the song, or Diana Krall who made the song her own).



We’re living in times where ‘normal’ is rather disturbingly abnormal. We prefer our newly elevated media stars to be slightly bigger than life - you know, like Jade Goody. Someone comes from the wrong side of town, who after taking a bite at fame tells the world he or she’s living it up now because they deserve it, and don’t anybody tell them otherwise. And we forgive the poor darlings because, yes, everyone deserves a shot at their 15 minutes, riches, popularity, a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and er, even cosmetic dentistry.

What we know of Susan right now seems to go smack against everything the media, Internet and our celebrity-obsessed culture represent. She had a learning disability and was teased in school, and she put her ambition to be a singer on hold to care for her aged mother. Susan was a regular at the village Catholic Church and sang frequently but stopped when her mother died. And now she’s taken the world by storm - and - gasp! - she doesn't even look the part.

'Gobsmacked' Susan wants to stay real: "I want to receive people as the real me, a real person."

I'm really glad to hear that. For her sake and for the sakes of all the jaded folks and media junkies out there, I hope she stays real, for a really, really long time. Go get 'em, Susan Boyle!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Power of the Resurrection


Easter 2009.

Here is a book that most touched me and challenged me this Easter. I must admit that some parts were dense - the way that only NT Wright is capable of - rushing over my consciousness like a torrent of words - some thoughts raised questions, but mostly they provoked reflection of the sort that came close to a kind of personal epiphany. He put in words some of the deepest and most thoughtful reiteration of the blessed hope that belongs to Jesus' followers.

It's the big picture that makes theology pure doxology. NT Wright's enormous capacity to draw together scholarship and thinking past and present and then deconstruct them all in ways that become clearer, is sheer brilliance. It's not all new or original (but the function of theology surely is not to be 'original') of course, but it is in the articulation. No doubt it is precisely this gift that makes him at once a scholar of note and a theologian who has challenged some of our most cherished ideas of atonement and justification.
"The message of the resurrection is that this world matters! That the injustices and pains of this world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice, and love have won." NT Wright

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Najib's ascent , BN's descent

Some say Batang Ai was a referendum for Najib. Perhaps. But the fact that Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau went the other way says something else: Najib's ascent is BN's descent.

The signs are clear. There is no letting up. Malaysians want something better, something new. And we want it sooner than later.

I understand that something ‘new’ is not always something ‘better.’ It’s just that we have had enough of being bullied and cowered by self-important tinpots who think we owe our well-being to their beneficence.

Perhaps I should say, we want something more.

We want hope, for us and for our children. We want to walk in the streets, keep our head up, breathe in the air, and know in our bones that this is our home. We want respect, we want to be treated justly, we want honesty.

Don’t point to history to show us our place. Don’t wave the so-called social contract in our faces as some would an unsheathed kris. Don’t stuff religion down our throats while strutting about in feigned piety.

So, know that every vote cast against BN is a vote that says to Pakatan, “Don’t become like BN.”

Good intentions are not enough; BN showed us where a road paved with platitudes led to. Know that every vote that goes to Pakatan is marked with a charge and a prayer: “Honour our trust.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Malaysia wins in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau!

Pakatan wins Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau!

Great going - Malaysia wins! Pakatan scores a 2,789 majority win in Bukit Gantang and a 2,403-vote majority in Bukit Selambau! Sweet! But shame about Batang Ai, Sarawak needs more work. Meanwhile here's some humour gleaned from Malaysiakini, Bernama, Nutgraph, and Malaysian Insider to celebrate the rakyat's win. If these quotes show anything, it's that BN still doesn't get it.

Zambri Abdul Kadir "The people have made their decision. It is not a rejection of the BN in Perak."

Koh Tsu Koon "As BN is still leading the federal government, BN has a good platform to perform, implement positive reform and good policies benefiting the people."

Dr M "I am confident that Najib's leadership reflects the original Umno."

Muhyiddin Yassin "Maybe the people have a feel-good factor relating to Najib's premiership, but they have yet to absorb the good feelings."

Hishamuddin Hussein "We must study the trend of the voters and see what else needs to be satisfied. You must understand, this is not our seat and not our state, we did not lose our own seat."

Samy Vellu “I am certain we have increased Indian support,....even though we are disappointed..."

Ong Tee Keat "They do not want to hear promises of change but they want to experience real change."

Ramly Zahari "We still maintained the Malay votes that we got in 2008."

Monday, April 06, 2009

Back. And backpedalling?


He's back. The recently revitalised octogenarian gets back in to UMNO and hits the campaign trail. No surprises there. But this is where he's lost me:

He said mistakes, bad strategy and carelessness in the Feb 5 power grab, orchestrated by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had led to the current crisis in the state.

"You cannot topple a menteri besar or a prime minister without a no-confidence vote in the assembly. There is no other provision," he said at a function organised by Mubarak, the association for former elected representatives.

"Umno-BN was too careless and did not wait for an assembly but instead asked the Ruler to sack the menteri besar," he said, referring to Sultan Azlan Shah's decision to ask Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin to resign.

"As far as I know, there is no such provision in the Perak or Federal Constitution," he said.

[Full story here]

So, should not the whole Perak crisis be exposed as an expensive and tragic sham that it is? Shouldn't Dr M be standing up for the rakyat?

Enough is enough!
So NO to BN!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Time for change!

I find the present political scenario an utter scandal. Politicians from the ruling BN almost always imagine the electorate to be either too dumb to tell the difference between their words and deeds, or too comfortable to care about the larger issues. Yeah, right. And all of us were born yesterday too.

Meanwhile public institutions are breaking down – the police have lost their credibility and all we hear is the need for the force to “improve its image.” Law and order is fast becoming a joke but long-suffering taxpayers who have been robbed, maimed, and victimized are not laughing. The judiciary is coming close to being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the government, apparently dictated by the powerful to legitimize injustice and vested interests - is there no one on the bench who commands respect for his or her principles and courage? Remember VK Lingam?

We know deep in our gut that something is terribly wrong, and we know things aren’t getting better. Anyone with any sense of decency also knows who are responsible for undermining the very institutions that are supposed to serve and protect the rakyat.

Government departments and ministries have become personal fiefdoms for politicos and their hirelings and cronies. Corruption and alleged misdeeds akin to daylight robbery are exposed and an ex-MB blithely dismisses the SELCAT hearing as ‘not certified” by the AG. These are men and women without an iota of conscience, who nevertheless revel as spokespersons and defenders of race and religion. Gallivanting all over the world on taxpayers money too. How do these people sleep at night?

Malaysia risks becoming a basket case if we buy into the tired spin that UMNO and BN are ready for reform - that’s why they need our votes, so they tell us. Malaysia is already sliding down the precipice; its descent will only be sooner if we the rakyat think that ‘peace’ is more important that justice.

Mouthing Obama’s hope and change mantra isn’t going to work just because there’s a new lineup in UMNO. On the contrary, the air has become heavier with a pall of hopelessness. It reeks of extremism and repression. There is little doubt that the powers that be do not know what change is, and neither do they want to change. There’s too much of old blood and too little new thinking. That these politicians are flexing their muscles, banning opposition papers, locking people up in ISA, and intimidating anyone with a dissenting point of view are enough to tell us they fear change.

This is why all right thinking Malaysians must take a stand. Resist the machinations of fear. Say no to racism and corruption. Don’t squander the forces of real change that started on March 8, 2008.

Batang Ai, Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau. Don’t be duped.
If you really want change, say NO to BN!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Law & Disorder in Perak

Lawlessness begets lawlessness.

There is a putrid stench that stretches back to 1988 when honourable judges were muzzled and unceremoniously sacked for daring to stand up against the Chief Executive Dr M. A key accomplice that led to that dark episode in Malaysian history was Haidar Mohd Noor who as then chief registrar hid the Court Seal to prevent a special sitting of the Supreme Court. The events are well documented and there is no need to say more.

Is history repeating itself?

Today the powers-that-be have become more arrogant, emboldened – and dare I say, more thuggish? What is happening in Perak is another vicious stab at the heart of fair Malaysia, another body blow for the laws of the land and the much maligned Constitution. Why are the people in Perak not allowed to decide who should govern their state? Why the desperation and duplicity?

If right thinking Malaysians cannot see through BN’s shameful power grab, then we deserve the government we get.

When the government of the day ignores foundational principles such as the separation of powers, the Constitution becomes a dead piece of paper. But the Constitution is not just any law. It is the set of laws that founds our nation, defines its basic principles, guarantees our individual rights and prescribes the structures, duties, and powers which make a national community possible. It is the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of Malaysia.

Those who so blithely ignore the Constitution for political ends are quite literally wrecking the foundations of this country to further their own interests.

This must stop.
Tengku Razaleigh


There seems to be a complete lack of conscience on the part of the BN MPs. They seem completely oblivious to the long-term effects of this kind of action.

If even in cases as clear cut as these, they do not have the moral strength to condemn and dissociate from, what hope have we that they will condemn and put an end to all the other acts of mismanagement and misuse of power?

What use are all the arguments presented by all the PR Parliamentarians on all issues when simple issues such as these are beyond the comprehension of the BN MPs?

In the final analysis, the future of Malaysian politics seems increasingly bleak unless the brakes are some how applied thereby stopping this mindless plunge into ghetto politics. Unfortunately, this is seemingly the only form of politics which can be called upon by Umno to ensure its own survival. When you have run out of arguments, when you no longer can deceive the people, when you no longer enjoy their support, you put fear in their hearts!
Khalid Samad

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The world is watching


Unfortunately it matters not that the doctrine of separation of powers is being flushed down the toilet in Perak for the world to see. Unfortunately our outgoing PM Abdullah still doesn't get it. Tragically, the man remains proud of his 'legacy', the unheralded and dead-in-the-water Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

Malaysian Insider has this to say:
If we are witnessing the blurring of the doctrine of separation of powers and a revival of the “might is right” approach by Umno/Barisan Nasional, then Abdullah has to carry the can.

After all, in his first speech to Parliament as prime minister, Abdullah pledged to respect the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, saying that this doctrine was pivotal in checking abuse of power.

The events in Perak over the past 24 hours and still unfolding today shows that he has been unable to convince Umno/BN members, the civil service and the police on the sanctity of this doctrine in a democracy.

Abdullah was puzzled why State Speaker V. Sivakumar decided to call for an emergency state assembly sitting instead of waiting for the courts to decide on the matter.

The official answer is that he, as the head of the legislature, has the power to do so. Left unsaid is the fact that Sivakumar took this course of action because he and other members of Pakatan Rakyat do not have confidence that the judiciary will give them the hearing they deserve.

All said and done, the approach employed by Umno/BN in Perak, the resulting skepticism among some Malaysians on the ability of the country’s institutions to be honest brokers shows and the ridiculous sight of a state assembly taking place under a tree all have to land on Abdullah’s lap.
The world is watching.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ibrahim Hussein (1936-2009)

Ibrahim Hussein, Malaysia's most famous artist of international renown passed away quite suddenly on Thursday 19 February following a heart attack. The 72-year old late artist was buried at the Bukit Kiara Islamic Cemetary.

On the website of Ib's Ibrahim Hussein Museum and Cultural Foundation are these words:

"To me, painting is like praying. When I paint, I am dealing with my heart, my work and God. There is deep joy and gratitude. Each piece frames a moment in my life."

My wife and I had the privilege of visiting the Center in Langkawi in 2005 and thinking to myself, what is this world-class art center doing here in Langkawi? Malaysians ought to be better acquainted with this much-awarded artist and his art, I thought. And this remote outpost on Langkawi - though wonderful for artistic pursuits - would merely reduce the great man into an inconsequential footnote. Indeed as the website reveals, the last Langkawi International of Arts organised by the Center was in 2000!

The artist himself met us at the door on that hot afternoon after we pulled up at the driveway and rang a bell. He smiled sheepishly and welcomed us in explaining that no one was around because of the holidays (Chinese New Year then). We paid him our admission tickets and after a few words, shuffled away leaving us to explore and view the displays on our own.

We bought a book and had him autograph it. He obligingly posed for a photo. We said goodbye, he thanked us for visiting. I think I left feeling a little envious that here was a man who did what he loved, and found both joy and great success along the way.


Fellow artist Victor Chin's obit here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Myanmar mission







Mingaladon
Myanmar
4 Feb ~ 11 Feb, 2009

While the rest of Asia marches on, Myanmar is lost in a time warp. Tragically, the ruling junta - in power since 1962 - maintains its stranglehold, oblivious to the suffering of its people, doesn’t look like it’s going to loosen its grip any time soon.

There is a lively buzz in the city of Yangon where new office towers are beginning to dominate older colonial buildings. Yangon is clearly not in the same league as Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, or even Hanoi of course. But someone remarked that it does seem to have changed since he was here 6 years ago, although it is still cloaked in dust and diesel fumes.

And there is heart-rending poverty everywhere you look, not because people lack determination, but because opportunities aren’t there. On the surface, there may be a sense of helplessness but don't mistake that for resignation; there is resilience and energy, and it shows in the way the Myanmar population continue to keep their heads up.

Vendors hawk fried snacks on sidewalks; children race after buses with newspapers and sweet snacks; men selling soft toys at traffic junctions; a mother breastfeeds her baby amidst squalor; Yangon airport baggage handlers ambush travelers to carry their bags (it’s 300kyats per bag, mind). Life finds a way in little acts of resistance.

Myanmar’s day will come. I pray it will be sooner than later.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wrangle in Perak continues


We were in the hotel room in Yangon when we first heard it: "Perak has fallen."

Indeed.

As shocking as the news may be, what was more shocking was the shameless manner in which the legitimately elected MB was ejected, and his office all cleaned out. Have these people learnt nothing? Is this some banana republic we are living in? Is that the often touted morality of Malaysia's religious order?

New MB Zambry wags his finger at the rest of us because we don't know the 'philosophy of democracy.' DPM Najib is gloating. The peasants are revolting. UMNO is hysterical. The royals are upset. Khairy and others his ilk are baying for blood. Once again cries of 'Hidup Melayu' are raised. Is this shameful coup d'etat something that dignifies a whole majority people?

Meanwhile, BN component parties have elected to keep their mouths shut.

Ironic that Chua Soi Lek should be complaining about the inapropriate appointment of a Gerakan deputy president as advisor, and not someone from MCA.

Shame.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Writing on the wall


However you look at it, the post-March 8 momentum hasn't slowed down. The writing is on the wall for BN, and PAS's win in KT is a thrilling vote for change.
This dislike, or some would put it as hatred, has not diminished since March 08. If anything, it has even grown more intense, no thanks to the Ahmad Ismail incident, the abuse of the ISA in the arrest of a journalist for her own “protection”, rising crime rate, the disappearance of a private investigator under suspicious circumstances, the aborted EuroCopter purchase, the aborted sale of IJN (aborted only after public objections), rampant corruption… all added to make this feeling more and more intense.
Hsu Dar Ren

[T]his election shows that the sirens of calls for reform have fallen on deaf ears. Umno leaders appear only to be interested in themselves and their own fortunes, rather than repairing the serious flaws in governance and credibility.

Not only do Umno leaders appear deaf to calls for change, they appear blind to the evaporation of its political base.
Bridget Welsh

This was more than a referendum on the leadership. It was a test of the relevance of Umno in its present form. If Umno is no longer relevant to the Malays, the BN formula is dead. The Chinese will have no reason to support MCA and so on. The power-sharing consensual bargain on which our political system has been based since Independence is broken.
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah


The results showed that Chinese Malaysian voters favoured the BN. No matter how hard Pakatan Rakyat leaders of Chinese descent tried to woo these voters, they still voted for the BN. The Chinese in Kuala Terengganu want a secular state. They still cannot accept hudud. It is difficult for PAS to gain the trust and support of Chinese voters if the party is unable to change in this respect.
Sin Chew editorial

The humiliation suffered by UMNO in the January 17, 2009 by-election in Kuala Trengganu, a seat previously held by one of its Deputy Ministers, is further proof that the party’s thumping in the March 2008 General Elections was the beginning of the end. Getting rid of its leader Abdullah Badawi will not alter UMNO’s fate; a future with Najib Razak will be no solution either.The party is no longer salvageable; UMNO is now beyond redemption.
M. Bakri Musa

Umno is too immersed in its own culture of patronage and has failed to realise that it cannot treat voters the same way it does party members. An independent poll on Kuala Terengganu voters found that more Malay Malaysians felt that their political power was at risk from "corrupt and self-serving leaders" than those who felt that non-Malay communities were a threat.
Deborah Loh

The state of flux points to many Malaysians having woken up to the fact. They want change in the most fundamental of ways: independence from a mindset that has left them colonized by an elite for its own benefit.

They are not fastidious as to who it is that becomes the Prime Minister of this country or who it is that forms the government. All they want is a government made up of men and women who believe in the ideals that the founders of this nation thought were a solid basis for a glorious future for all Malaysians. They want those men and women to believe in these ideals enough to get on with what needs to be done as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. They want the respect that each and every one of them is entitled to as a citizen.
Malik Imtiaz

BN is on the back foot now not because it's divided but eroded. Its lesser components, such as Gerakan and SAPP, have fallen away or grown moribund. Of its three principal parties, the MIC has circled its wagons against an electorate that rejected it in March 2008. The MCA, on its part, continues to serve its own survival well enough, and in so doing was rewarded by the Chinese voters of KT largely abiding by it and BN last Saturday. But they were not enough to stanch the haemorrhage of faith in Umno, as Malay voters swung away from BN to deliver victory by a quadrupled majority to Pas.
NST Editorial

I found that for the salurans where the average age of the voters was below 35, the level of BN support decreased by 4.4%. For the salurans where the average voter age was from 35 to 55, the decrease in BN support was 1.5%, and for salurans with voters above 55, the decrease in the level of BN support was 0.8%. This is unmistakable evidence of a trend towards voting for the opposition among younger voters regardless of race.
Ong Kian Ming

UMNO - Come down from the high chairs. Stop from being treated like Kings, Lords and Masters. Sit on the plastic chairs with the rakyat and the voters. You are Wakil Rakyat. You are elected by them. You are not their Lords and Masters. They are, in fact, your Masters; and
They elected you. They never elected your spouses, your children, your sons- and daughters-in-law, your kins and clansmen.
A Kadir Jasin