Thursday, August 31, 2006

Evil in Full Storm (2) - Israel's 100,000 cluster bomblets

In a vicious and malicious bombing campaign Israel had deliberately sown cluster bombs in Souhern Lebanon in the last 72 hours before the UN ceasefire came into effect.

Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers, targeted usually, for example, at enemy military aerodromes to prevent the enemy from using its warplanes or the aerodrome itself. But sown among the habitat of civilian population, those cluster bombs would kill and maim mainly children.

The UN's humanitarian chief has described Israel's use of cluster bombs in south Lebanon during the final three days of the conflict there as shocking and immoral. Jan Egeland said that thousands of Lebanese civilians remain at risk from unexploded cluster bombs dropped there.

He lamented: "What's shocking and I would say completely immoral is that 90 per cent of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when we knew there would be a resolution, when we knew there would be an end."

"Those places [countries] who made those bombs should have a serious talk with Israel on the use of such bombs that are making our lives so miserable trying to help the Lebanese people."

"I hope the US will talk to the Israelis on that, because it is an outrage that we have 100,000 bombs among where children, women, shopkeepers and farmers are now going to tread."

Complaining to the USA about Israel would be like pissing into the wind.

The UN had assessed nearly 85 per cent of bombed areas in south Lebanon and identified 359 separate cluster bomb strike locations contaminated with as many 100,000 unexploded bomblets.

In Geneva, Chris Clark, head of the UN Mine Action Service in southern Lebanon, said there had been 59 confirmed casualties, including 13 deaths, caused by the explosives since the end of hostilities on August 14.

The evil of the Israelis knows no bounds. Ironically, or should it be(?), the Israelis are behaving like Nazis in their brutality, callousness and malice. They have been overwhelmingly successful in killing scores of children and women.

With such a display of unmitigated iniquitous abomination, an unmatched vicious barbarism equalling those of the Nazis, surely the Israelis must be henchmen of the Anti-Christ?

Evil in Full Storm - Israelis killed 37 Children

Merdeka - divergent views by MCA and UMNO?

Here are two different views in Malaysiakini on national unity, by Barisan Nasional members. Not surprisingly they centred on Khairy Jamaluddin’s remarks that the Chinese community would take advantage of any division among the Malay community. One was made by a MCA central committee bloke while the other, to be fair, was by an UMNO Youth exco member.

Wong Nai Chee, Kota Melaka MP and MCA central committee member

I am worried and afraid that we are on the wrong track. We are coming to half a century (since independence) but our country's political roadmap is still entrenched on racial lines. We are talking about globalisation. We have to see Malaysia as a whole, and not to compartmentalise Malaysia by race.

We should not project the kind of scenarios that if one race win, the others lose. What is good for the country is good for all, irrespective of race. I must stress I am not attacking Article 153 (pertaining to bumiputera privileges) of the Federal Constitution.

We should see things in a broader perspective - which are of concern, and affecting, all regardless of majority or minority - for discussion. For example, the prime minister’s (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) instruction for no discussion on Article 11 (freedom of religion), I don't think it is correct. We are just keeping the problem with us, and not resolving it.

My wish for Merdeka is for people to have the kind of courage to accept public debate on a rational basis as a way to resolve differences in our country on all kind of matters, whether they are the Article 11 debate or the
Khairy Jamaluddin's controversy.

Idris Haron, Malacca’s Tangga Batu MP and Umno Youth exco member

Every year when we celebrate Merdeka, the spirit of Merdeka is revived and rejuvenated. This will lead us to more common understanding and maximise the common grounds and minimise the differences we have in order to pursue peace and harmony.

The controversy created from the remarks made by Khairy is a storm in a teacup and we, the Barisan Nasional leaders, will sit down and talk. It is not a big problem.

It was wise for Khairy to put up this statement reminding Umno Youth to stay in solidarity. I believe if I were to hear MCA and MIC Youth leaders making the similar remarks, I would not mind because this is the way to make their youth members to stay united too.

My wish for the Merdeka is we must see the future as an opportunity for us to develop and prepare ourselves to meet future challenges.

In case you can't remember who Wong Nai Chee is, he was the MCA bloke from Kota Melaka who had questioned the PM’s gag order on Article 11 forums.

He had urged the government not to ignore the issue of religious freedom in this country. He pointed out the apparent lack of understanding among the people who oppose the Article 11 forums.

For more, read my July posting MCA questioned AAB's Gag Order on Article 11 Forums.

For today, here's a quote on patriotism:

Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

It was made by Hermann Goering, the Deputy Nazi leader.

Malaysia - Happy 49th Birthday

What a day!
Enjoy, rejoice
Be safe out there

Look to the left
at your neighbours
and hold their hands

Look to the right
It's the forgotten
Help pick them up

Look right around
at those left behind
Do take them along

What a day
Enjoy, rejoice,
Best if together

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Malaysia - where locusts are eagles!

A Malaysiakini reader by the pseudonym name of ‘Product of the system’ wrote one of the most moving letters I have read for a long time, in conjunction with Malaysia’s 49th Merdeka anniversary. It’s titled Merdeka stories for Pak Lah and Khairy.

Please read and allow your heart to be wrenched by the sad inequality of our system in this rich and abundant nation. I have produced every word of the letter as follows:

For Khairy

A 46-year-old Dewan Bandaraya worker was admitted for progressive, generalised weakness associated with a severe inflammatory rash. Unable even to swallow saliva, nasogastric feeding was started on complete nutrition formula milk. As investigations were carried out to clinch a diagnosis, she developed severe hospital-acquired pneumonia which scarred her lungs extensively.

Due to a severe shortage of beds, the patient was discharged prematurely although she was still bedridden and unable to swallow. Her husband was told that he would have to buy the milk for nasogastric feeding on their own, estimated to cost RM60 per tin, which should last about a week.

A low-ranked clerk in the civil service, he pleaded for goodwill to prevail, that the milk be provided free as they were already unable to cope with the increasing cost of living. He was told however, that he would have to go through the social welfare, the application process of which would take some time.

In the meantime, however, they would have to go home empty handed. Bed-ridden but without a wheelchair, disfigured but not dispirited, too weak to even enter their humble, rented shophouse home, she was sent packing without her only source of nutrition.

For Pak Lah

A 39-year-old mother of six young children presents with severe pneumonia secondary to multiple sclerosis. Paralysed from the neck down, she had Grade III bed sores from prolonged immobilisation. Her chests were hardly expanding due to diaphragmatic fatigue but she otherwise mentally alert and sharp.

The doctor-in-charge started antibiotics but immediately pronounced DNR – do not resuscitate. It simply means that intubation was not to be attempted should her condition deteriorate. One reason behind this rationale was due to the severe shortage of ventilators in the hospital. The family was advised to purchase an oxygen machine as well as a special mattress to prevent further bed sores.

At the mention of the amount, the patient’s husband, a lowly roadside hawker, reacted in shock as there was no way they could ever afford to pay. Referral to social welfare was made, but due to ‘limited funds’, their appeal was rejected. One and a half months later, she lies there still in the ward - too sick to go home, and too poor to get better.

Too tired to continue fighting an incurable illness and too weak to express herself in full, she mustered her remaining strength and begged to be euthanised which, in a sense, is exactly what we are doing – because of a supposed lack of funds in an oil-rich nation.

I can’t imagine what goes through the minds of faceless Malaysians when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi declares prosperity and justice for all Malaysians every Aug 31. There are families too poor to take a bus ride from the hospital back to their kampong and politicians who throw tantrums in public because they were only offered ‘some useless cars’ from the Customs Department.

Our special schools for special children are miserably pathetic yet the ruling feudal masters feel that a RM490 million sports academy is of greater urgency. Our teachers, lecturers and healthcare workers are overworked, understaffed and underpaid but we somehow have RM600 million annually to organise the great Malaysian summer camp a.k.a National Service.

Even as the monkeys in Umno bersilat, brandish their keris and sound the battle cry annually, snatch thieves wield their daggers and rob the lives of innocent Malaysians on a daily basis. We have Umno Youth parading on the streets proclaiming support for Hamas and Hezbollah, but no one to champion the plight of the Pak Ciks debilitated from stroke and cancer.

The cops arrest couples for holding hands in public and crack down on sincere, dissenting voices but ‘close one eye’ when BN warlords contemptuously ignore their traffic summonses and fan racial and religious sentiments in mainstream media.

The BN government spends millions to ‘re-train’ unemployed university graduates after spending years brainwashing them with the nebulous Umno agenda and thereafter expects them to perform in the real world. We have laws criminalising hardworking family physicians while un-taxable illegal immigrants live off the fat of the land without fear of being apprehended and deported. Our local citizens wait for months for an ultrasound scan while Project M citizens have no qualms paying for a RM20,000 angiogram.

The stupidity and ignorance of the current Umno leadership is best exemplified none other by the Putera Umno chief’s vain attempt to ‘re-brand’ the daredevil Mat Rempits, even as hundreds of them are bedridden in our hospitals with vertebral fractures and amputated limbs, and countless more putrefying quietly in the graves of the soil of Malaysia.

The dearth of sound leadership has never been more conspicuous as now. ‘Di mana tiada helang, kata belalang, akulah helang’.

As Malaysians of all colours and creed daily face the threat of choking haze, violent crime, drug abuse, HIV, diabetes and a disproportionate rise in living costs, it seems that the only issue that Umno is concerned with is a non-existent Sino threat to its obsession with Ketuanan Melayu.

As I sit here wishing to do and earn more as a government doctor, something tells me that a young man my age is wishing to have more than a RM9.1 million share and to be more than the prime minister’s son-in-law.

Somewhere else, however, I am reminded of a lady yearning to sweep the filthy streets of Kuala Lumpur like she used to and another who will be eternally grateful just to breathe on her own, even if the air is hazy.

Selamat Hari Kebangsaan ke-49, Saudara Pak Lah dan Khairy ...

PAS: "Chin Peng a brave freedom fighter"

Amazingly, PAS, yes, the Malaysian Islamic Party has taken the bold step of acknowledging that the Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM), now defunct, had also played a role in fighting for the independence of this country.

On Sunday, PAS party organ posted an article by the PAS research centre, which said CPM had been active in its campaign for independence since its formation in May 1930.

It stated: “During the Japanese rule, (CPM secretary-general) Chin Peng and his comrades were one of the bravest groups to have fought against the Japanese.”

“They lived in the middle of the jungle, slept on the ground with only the sky as their roof in order to battle the Japanese and to search for true independence. Is it fair to ignore their contribution now?”

This is amazing stuff indeed. If you are new to Malaysian affairs, let me explain - here we have an Islamic Party, and not just any Islamic party but one with mostly Malay members, giving praise to the mostly Chinese communist freedom fighters.

Holy Bolok ;-), the PAS article even referred to the socialist term ‘comrade’. When ideological Antipodes such as PAS and the CPM can find some form of accommodation, albeit with one now completely defunct and silent, it’s a new era.

Or, if we are cynical, could it be just a PAS manoeuvre to diminish or even deny the hitherto UMNO-claimed primacy of its role in the fight for the nation’s freedom?

The PAS think-tank said the CPM’s struggle did not end with the Japanese as they also waged an armed struggle against the British for independence. Well, we all are aware of the Emergency, though the government would tell you those years were a communist terrorist campaign.

The PAS article said while CPM wanted to form a communist state - which was naturally rejected by both the Malay community (except for a few) and Islam - it is however wrong not to acknowledge the party’s contribution to the nation's quest for independence.

Now it wants the proper recording of such historical events and facts, minus the deliberate and dishonest marginalisation of the CPM's contribution.

It said that the historical record of our nation’s struggle should not be confined to only those at the negotiation table (meaning UMNO), but also encompass those who were willing to give up their lives to fight for independence.

It stated: “Before Tunku Abdul Rahman chanted ‘Merdeka’ on Aug 31, 1957, the call was already resonating, and many historical episodes were being played not only by UMNO and the Alliance.”

"CPM and banned Malay nationalist parties took up arms against the British. Abdullah CD, Rashid Mydin, Shamsiah Fakeh and Musa Ahmad were among the leaders who fought for independence."

Well, today Malay communists like Abdullah CD and wife have been happily rehabilitated in Malaysia while Chin Peng remains banned from the country despite an official agreement that all would be forgiven after the CPM gave up arms following its peace treaty with the governments of Malaysia and Thailand, signed on Dec 2, 1989.

PAS of course wants to diminish UMNO’s role and perhaps court the Chinese voters by its demonstration of honest historical fairness. It is assuming that Chinese Malaysians are sympathetic to the CPM and thus Chin Peng.

But I reckon a new generation has supplanted those new villagers of yonder years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some young new villagers don’t even know who Chin Peng is. In fact, many young Malays would be equally uninterested, except that UMNO leaders would keep reminding them of UMNO's struggle against the evil of the communist insurgents.

It’s like frightening bored and naughty little children into compliance with threats of carnivorous dinosaurs like the velociraptors. Those creatures may be extinct but still have a use.

But yes, notwithstanding its political motive, PAS has made a humongous ground breaking step in its acknowledgement of the CPM's fight for Malayan freedom from colonial rule.

The Inferior Man who knows not 'Right-ness'!

Many years ago when I was a student, my principal, a staunch Methodist who fancied himself as some kind of Chinese scholar would preached to us poor suffering students his understanding of Chinese morals (mind you, in the English language).

Whenever (which means 'often') I was caught doing something naughty, he would stand in front of me, holding the school cane across his waist with both hands, flexing the scary rod while sermonizing Confucian instead of Christian ethics or etiquettes. It wouldn’t be so bad if he had been satisfied with those moral lessons but he believed in reinforcing his verbal advice. Ouch!

I recall his favourite story was about the four fastest horses in China being unable to catch up a word already spoken, in any vain hope of the regretful speaker to retrieve it as if those words were never spoken. What he was teaching me, while I was eyeing the cane and anticipating his reinforcing action, was that honourable men must be careful of what they say, because once words had been uttered, you can’t pretend those words weren’t said (or misinterpreted).

Whish, ouch! He then followed up with another of his favourite Confucian sayings, “A man’s word is his honour” meaning that according to Confucian ethics, you must be responsible for what you say or promise. Certainly his reinforcing methodology must have worked because I still remember them today (while subconsciously rubbing my bum).

Well, Stanley Koh, a Malaysiakini columnist, and a Buddhist monk(?) who works for a local think-tank, has the same homilies for his highness the whiter-than-white Prince, otherwise known as Hang Putih.

Koh wrote: “Politicians would be wise to remember that the spoken word is likened to a memorial tablet of their lips. It is like an arrow shot from the bow - it cannot be withdrawn. Or, to cite another saying, once toothpaste is out of the tube, it is hard to push it back in.”

Toothpaste? More modern than what my principal reminded me.

“Some political amateurs may think that the easiest way to popularity is to find fault and pitch one community against another.”

“… political amateurs?” Ouch! More painful than what I received from the 'reinforcer'.

“But Confucius said: 'A superior man puts rightness before courage. An inferior man who has courage but does not know rightness will become a trouble-maker.'”

“Perhaps it is also worthwhile to note Voltaire’s advice that, ‘To succeed in the world (probably in a political career) it is not enough to be stupid, you must be well-mannered.’”

Well, obviously Koh implied that someone has been both stupid and ill-mannered.

Koh continued: “To Confucius, ‘rightness’ means propriety or conduct and behaviour in accordance to the role played. He meant that “the prince should behave like a prince, the minister like a minister, the father…father and the son…son”.

What about son-in-law?

“Applied in the modern context, it simply means that if you are a political rookie, you should not behave like a de facto prime minister.”

Ouch and double ouch! My old principal would have been green with envy.

Koh said that among some aspiring politicians, the desperate quest to reach the top of the ladder darkens their sense of right and wrong. Koh is assuming that in the first place, some people even know what’s right!

Which then brings us to what Confucius said: “A superior man puts rightness before courage. An inferior man who has courage but does not know rightness will become a trouble-maker.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kelantan PAS: "No vice, only victuals"

PAS in Kelantan has boasted that State is free of vice. State Local Government Committee chairman Takiyuddin Hassan has called on Malaysians to come and see for themselves, how free Kelantan is of vice activities.

He said: “Seeing is believing and all should visit Kelantan and sample its lifestyle. We invite Malaysians to come and see for themselves, how we manage Kelantan. Vice cannot thrive here as there are no nightclubs or discotheques which breed such activities.”

my underlining

"... Vice cannot thrive here as there are no nightclubs or discotheques which breed such activities ..."

Well, obviously Takiyuddin Hassan is a very naive bloke, perhaps even a virgin, or he hasn't a clue about what he is saying.

Anyway, wonderful and all that, but here's a news report about Tumpat.

Well, Tumpat in Kelantan has become the new border town for sex romp, except it’s on the Malaysian side. It has been touted as the Malaysian ‘Golok’. KTemoc intends to re-name Tumpat as ‘Bolok’, to standardise its appellation with our ‘Boleh’ brand.

Apparently, many restaurants in ‘Bolok’ are staffed with Thai waitresses, serving more than just spicy ‘tom yam kai’ (chicken tom yam). The new dish is called ‘yum yum the kai’.

After the ‘tom yam kai’, the waitresses offer ‘yum yum the kai’ as dessert. It seems that some restaurants have cubicles at the back or on the first floor for the 'desserts'. Alternatively, the ‘desserts’ can be ta-pao* back to rented home or for short trip visitors, hotel rooms.

* takeaway

One source
said: “In light of escalating unrest in southern Thailand, especially in Golok, Kelantanese are afraid to frequent their usual haunts, so those in the sex industry have brought the women into the state instead. The saying here is ‘if we cannot go to Thailand, we bring Thailand to us’”.

That’s the Boleh-spirit, though I was for a moment worried that the source was going to be stupid enough to refer to the analogy of mountains.

KTemoc would have said: “In light of escalating unrest in southern Thailand, especially in Golok, Kelantanese saw the light in escalating undress in Northern Kelantan, especially in Bolok. The saying here is ‘if we cannot go to Thailand, we bring Thigh-land to us’”.

Meanwhile, our amazing police, who have so much time that it could investigate Malaysiakini for a retracted report of the mace attack affair, has this to say.

Its State deputy CPO, SAC II Abdul Rahim Hanafi, stated that allegations of waitresses moonlighting as call girls or young women offering similar services cannot be categorised as vice per se.

Why not?

Because according to him, “It is difficult to garner evidence on such allegations as it is not an organised criminal activity.”

He said he was aware of talk of waitresses indulging in vice but proof must be obtained first for action to be taken. He declared: “Give us the information and we will get on it. There is no compromise here.”

Well, that’s the police for you. Firstly, there’s no vice because the sex romp is free-lance and not organised - well, he's not quite like the PAS naive virgin, but I suppose to him, it's just tom yum kai plus 'dessert'.

Secondly, he's saying his police force would be sitting on their behind (or harrassing Malaysiakini) until citizens do the work for them by providing the necessary information before they would investigate.

Certainly Malaysia Boleh!

Y1 - the colour in this posting is specially for you ;-)

Mahathir: "UMNO treats me like pariah!"

Poor Dr Mahathir, an UMNO leader holding the record for being the longest serving PM in Commonwealth history and who dragged reluctant Malaysia screaming and scratching into the 21st Century - he has just complained he is now treated like a pariah, an ‘untouchable’ by UMNO, the party he led for 22 years.

He lamented: "I am the former party president yet they don't want me to talk to the members. I can't even meet them. Universities are barred from inviting me and newspapers are prevented from reporting about me. I am becoming a pariah in the party."

He added he was insulted over the attempts to gag him.

Now we all know it started with PM AAB’s cancellation of his pet project, the ‘scenic’ bridge to Kiasu Land. The 'affair' has some questions still hanging over it.

Since then, Mahathir has been accused of attempting to bring down the AAB government with strident personal attacks on PM AAB, particular on the latter’s son-in-law, none other than our whiter-than-white Khairy Jamaluddin.

Dr Mahathir hasn't been that ineffective in his attacks as many thought he would be, for hasn't his questions been the principal factor that led to Khairy publicly devolving his ECM-Libra shares, but which didn't end the questions? By constrast, recall when PAS leader Husam Musa made almost similar allegations, did that prompt Khairy into any action, other than to sue Husam (or was it only a threat to sue)?

When AAB ignored him by resorting to the so-called ‘elegant’ silence, which many in Malaysia believed was not so ‘elegant’ but necessary and convenient because Mahathir’s attacks were too close to the truth for comfort, the political meltdown began.

AAB's actions (or non-actions) had been precisely the response that brought Mahathir’s anger to critical mass. Mahathir is not a man to be marginalised, not so in Malaysia. As Tengku Razaleigh had remarked, that when Mahathir wanted something, he would get it and we best not stand in his way. Well, AAB stood in his way by refusing or being unable to answer Mahathir’s demand for explanations.

The continued lack of response from AAB and attempted spin by his ministers instigated Mahathir’s attacks into personal insults, culminating in a public expression of regret that he handed the top job to AAB when he stepped down in 2003. He accused AAB of nepotism and corruption, damaging the economy, and subservience to Singapore.

Mahathir recent proposal to represent the Kubang Pasu constituency as an UMNO delegate to address the party's November general assembly has sent Arctic-temperature chills down the spines of UMNO’s top echelon. It’s obviously another Mahathir’s tactic to get the answer he wants, springing surprises on UMNO that afterall shouldn’t be surprises.

Many in UMNO are now quavering with trepidation as to what Mahathir would pull out of his top hat at the assembly. Even his once-favoured protégé, DPM Najib, said that UMNO members feel it is not appropriate for Dr Mahathir to attend the assembly as a delegate to address the meeting. Najib warned that UMNO could lose power over the dispute between AAB and Mahathir.

But as Tengku Razaleigh had commented: “Why so afraid? There’s nothing to hide. Let’s come clean, give him the forum, he is not going to be prime minister again.”

Indeed. Regardless of what people may say about Dr Mahathir, many Malaysians find it amazing that UMNO has deliberately snubbed its own former president of UMNO, and the PM of the nation for 22 years, in such an unmitigated fashion. What is it UMNO is hiding?

(1) Sweet & Sour Po ..... litics
(2) Anwar Ibrahim: "AAB must answer Mahathir!"
(3) Dr Mahathir Told AAB to Quit
(4) Ku Li asked UMNO: "Why so afraid" of Mahathir?

MCA neutralise Khairy's ethnic posturing?

The MCA is moving to neutralise Khairy Jamaluddin's ethnic posturing. They realised that they only would strengthen his position in UMNO Youth by insisting on an apology from him. They are now putting the onus on him to decide whether he wants to apologise or not.

Bernama reported:

MCA Vice-President Datuk Ong Tee Keat has left it to Umno Youth Deputy Chief Khairy Jamaluddin to apologise to the movement and the Chinese community for his recent remark that had offended the Chinese.

Ong said that in politics, anybody including Khairy could talk and voice opinions but sometimes there were those who agreed or disagreed with what had been said.

"It is up to him (Khairy) to say what he wants or to apologise or not ... that is his right," he told reporters after officiating at the 2006 National Technical Education Conference, here.

Ong, who is also Deputy Higher Education Minister, said there might be a chance that what Khairy had said was misinterpreted by the media.

"Whether all the media were wrong or Khairy's speech was a mistake, that is not certain ... have to ask Khairy himself to get the truth," he added.

The MCA Youth had at the party's general assembly last weekend urged Khairy to apologise for his remark claiming that the Chinese would take advantage if Umno was weak.

Note “… there might be a chance that what Khairy had said was misinterpreted by the media …” and "Whether all the media were wrong or Khairy's speech was a mistake, that is not certain …”

my underlining

If those aren't sophisticated sarcasms, I don't know what they are then.

But I reckon that would be the best approach in dealing with him as any further MCA Youth pressure will only work to his favour, making him into an undeserved ethnic hero.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Khairy pulled emergency 'religious' handle

From Malaysiakini’s Vox Populi, we get the following readers’ views on the Hang Putih’s unrepentant refusal to apologise for his unfounded racist remarks about the Chinese community. The whiter-than-white son-in-law said:

"Many people say our criticism is too harsh, provocative and extreme, but this does not matter as we are upholding our religious dignity and pride. So why should I apologise?"

Wong SP said: "First he plays the racial card, now he plays the religious one. Who is asking him to apologise for "upholding our religious dignity and pride"? It looks like this guy is grasping for straw or disorientated by the furore created by MCA Youth. Either way, I pray for Malaysia if he is the best that UMNO could offer."

Anonymous stated: "Instead of apologising for mouthing his insincerity towards his fellow BN partner, the young upstart tries to justify his immature comments by using religion again. Isn't that a copout. Mr Ong Ka Ting and the MCA should be wary about the big bully in their midst - he who wants his cake and eat it. And they call it a BN partnership?"

Actually this morning I thought of mentioning what I saw/read too, that Khairy had pulled desperately at the emergency handle, by resorting to the religious card when religion wasn’t even involved.

This means he’s desperate, real desperate, and in deep trouble. But it’s just terrible the way he swung left (ethnicity) and right (religion) to hit all around him, just like a bull in a china shop.

He desperately wants to remain credible to UMNO Youth but is steadily losing ground. He has been aware that he needs to trawl for UMNO Youth support ever since he was parachuted into the seat of deputy UMNO Youth Chief – one unfortunate bloke had to stand aside for him – and especially when Dr Mahathir started to come after him.

Playing the religious-racist cards may win him a few odd points from the more easily aroused but the upshot is he’s running scared.

Khairy told MCA Youth to F-off!

The nation’s most famous (or infamous) son-in-law, whiter than white Khairy Jamaluddin has refused to say that magic word. Sin Chew Daily evening edition reported that he has refused to apologise for his patently racist statement, that the Chinese community would take advantage of UMNO during the Malay party’s time of crisis. MCA Youth had earlier called upon him to do so as the only decent thing.

And what was Khairy’s explanation on why he won’t say sorry? He said any action that ‘upholds the dignity of religion and the interest of Malay ethnic community’ does not require an apology, meaning any UMNO person can say what he or she likes regarding Malay interests or Islam, even if those statements were to hurt or vilify the other communities.

my underlining

I am sure that would ring an accord with some UMNO Youth members, which probably has been why Khairy had flung out those defiant words. Khairy has resorted once again to even more aggressive racist sentiments to defend the indefensible. It’s a form of keris waving, a verbal one.

He added that UMNO Youth must remain firm on its stand, even on matters involving other BN component parties.

What he really meant (but didn't say) was that he won't apologise to MCA Youth because he would be seen as a loser, which would then be counterproductive to his original objective for saying those racist comments. And of course, demi agama dan bangsa (for race and religion) he expects all UMNO Youth members to marshal around Hang Putih, if they haven't yet.

This was what he said: "Many people say our criticism is too harsh, provocative and extreme, but this does not matter as we are upholding our religious dignity and pride. So why should I apologise?"

my underlining

But whatever, there you have it, from his own mouth, that it’s OK for him (representing UMNO Youth) to say what he likes, and damn any other Malaysians, because their feelings or interests doesn't matter!

So said the Oxford graduate, who now no longer claims he was misinterpreted.

Hishammuddin Hussein has been put on his back foot by his deputy striking back in even more racist manner. Hishamuddin had to say the obligatory bit that he was angry with MCA Youth for repeatedly asking his deputy to apologise. He said that there was an existing channel in the ruling BN coalition to resolve such issues, and Khairy has yet to explain himself officially.

But what is there to explain officially when it’s now out in the open, where Khairy has averred that it's tough luck for others if they think his 'criticism is too harsh, provocative and extreme' and by that, he sure as hell admitted he wasn't misinterpreted.

MCA Youth chief Liow Tiong Lai said he will use the ‘proper channel’ to convey his party’s concerns to Hishamuddin. He intends to put his views to the UMNO Youth Chief so that the latter can understand what had been troubling the Chinese community.

In the meantime, MCA President Ong Ka Ting responded indirectly to Khairy’s racist statements at the MCA annual general meeting yesterday where PM AAB and his deputy, Najib, were among the 1,800 people present.

malaysiakini photo

Ong reminded the conference that when UMNO was deregistered in 1988, MCA had ensured that ‘UMNO was brought back into Barisan Nasional and continue to lead Barisan Nasional’.

And when UMNO was challenged by the ‘reformasi’ campaign by former deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim through a series of demonstrations at the height of the economic crisis in the late-1990s, the MCA had also provided ‘full support to UMNO leadership’.

He stated: “MCA and the Chinese community understand that UMNO, which represents the Malay race, are the main stabilisers of Barisan Nasional and the government.”

He said that MCA and the Chinese community hold on to the principle that “when a friend is in jeopardy, we do not take advantage to backstab a fellow comrade. Instead, we stand firm together and give our support.”

And for full measure, Ong then declared that the party is fully behind AAB as the BN chairperson and the country’s PM. It was reported that AAB abruptly stood up to the sweet sound of applause from the floor.

Didn't Sun Wu said something like striking to the front but protecting your backside - OK, maybe that illustrious stategist didn't use the word 'backside'.

But, aiyah, what does a PM do with a recalcitrant son-in-law?

The Brilliance of Hishamuddin Tun Hussein

One of the most brilliant move in very recent times has been made by Hishamuddin, son of the illustrious Tun Hussein Onn and grandson of the most principled of them all, Jaafar Onn.

Despite being the heir of such political nobility, Hishamuddin wasn’t above resorting to the 'grubby', in a manner which we had just seen done by an Oxford trained Khairy Jamaluddin.

Hishamuddin sometimes might have wished he hadn’t once resorted to the UMNO Youth stunt of brandishing the keris, a tactic which his cousin, DPM Najib had also previously employed (verbally) for political advantage. When times are hard in UMNO or the UMNO person is facing political odds, the tactic apparently is a useful party vote winner, so don’t expect Khairy’s antics to be the last.

Malaysiakini photo

Hishamuddin has recently started to move to the political centre, grooming himself as a future serious national leader, and in that action, had bluntly disowned his deputy, when the latter attempted to harness popularity through racist remarks.

See my previous posting Hishamuddin Off-loading Khairy Jamaluddin , where he said it was up to his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin to convince Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders that he did not intend to offend them. In other words, Khairy was on his own to explain to MCA his remarks about the Chinese community having sinister motives.

But many still remember Hishamuddin’s similar gimmicktry. Last week Malaysiakini reader PT commented that Hishammuddin’s call for Khairy to clarify to the MCA his nasty accusations fell on very shallow grounds when he (Hishamuddin) hasn’t yet clarified his own keris stunt.

So I reckon Hishamuddin must have thought carefully that if he wants to be seen as a national statesman possessing an aspiration to be a future PM he had to do something to purge, apologise for, or spin that embarrassing image.

Apology from an UMNO leader was of course out of the question - they are never wrong - and a stark image of Hishamuddin waving the keris wasn't something he could purge or erase easily. Of the three options, ‘spinning’ was of course the only practical solution – yes sir, no retreat but spin away its ugliness.

Now, what if keris-waving is not associated with extreme Malay nationalism? What if keris-waving is not aggressive? What if keris-waving is an expression of Malaysian resolve or unity? Then Hishamuddin wouldn't be seen as an 'ultra'.

We are getting warmer on Hishamuddin's thought trail. He’s brilliant, I have to say. Let’s continue tracking his thoughts.

What if a non-Malay was to wave a keris? What if that non-Malay were to be a Chinese? What if a MCA bloke were …….. no, blast Khairy, so soon after his hurtful remarks? No MCA bloke would dare do that …….. what if … yes yes YES!!!

Where’s UMNO favourite Chinese? Get him! And we will make that keris even longer and bigger than Hishamuddin's. YES YES YES!!!

Malaysiakini photo

So it was said, and so it was done.

Hishamuddin then said: “Using the keris as a symbol is not a problem. Even Koh* himself used the keris. This is an obselete concept of the younger generation that an object such as the keris would belong to a particular group.”

* Chief Minister of Penang, Koh Tsu Koon of the Gerakan Party

“The shows that is possible if we set aside such pettiness. It would only be sensitive if we make it sensitive. We are in fact proud, that the Penang CM raised the keris, this could be a symbol that unites us too.”

“Even if a pedang kung fu was used, this would not pose a problem to us.”

Brilliant, Hishamuddin! But now, where’s that Green Dragon Sword from Fu Mountain? ;-)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Gong gong ay gigolo?

Martin and Alan are two nice, fit and handsome young blokes. Naturally they feel somewhat vindicated by their personal ‘assets’ when they were promised lucrative jobs as gigolos by a male escort service company. Yes man, gigolos.

Martin and Alan revealed that last month they answered an advertisement in a Chinese newspaper looking for young and handsome men.

Blast, I didn’t see it but then, would I qualify in the ‘looks’ department – mind you, my mum and favourite aunt think I’m handsome though my sister has frequently told me to stop dreaming of her ever introducing her good looking friends to yours truly. She said cruelly I was too embarrassingly ugly to be introduced as her brother. Aiyah, what the hell does she know. Sisters have such poor taste.

Martin, just a young sprightly 22 said: “When we contacted the company, we were promised a monthly salary of US$10,000 (RM37,000) if we did more than just escorting women”.

my underlining – mama mia!

But as always, when one feels a dream has come true, along came a catch too. He and Alan had to deposit RM 1,000 each to an account belonging to the escort service company. He was informed that the RM 1,000 was a fee to become a member of the company.

Alan, the other wannabe gigolo, who at 28 still believe in stuff like genie from a magic lamp, said the company assured them that, with regards to the duties above (underlined by KTemoc), their clients were all young and wealthy foreigners – probably with looks like J Lo, Lindsay Lohan, and Jennifer Hawkins.

Poor Martin and Alan were then instructed to wait for clients at a five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur. They had a tummy-sinking feeling when they tried to contact the company but discovered that its handphone number was terminated.

What a wasted effort for Martin who had even prepared seriously for the ‘task’ by working out in a gym to make sure his biceps, triceps and uni-ceps (the main vital muscle) looked good and were strong for the expected J-Lo-ish looking clients.

And for sheer dedication, he even drank lots of essence of chicken. It’s amazing that young blokes like him still drink essence of chicken.

I recall when I was a 17-year old going for an interview with an organization in KL, which required applicants to be physically capable, my mum tucked a bottle of Brand’s essence of chicken quietly in my overnight bag, without telling me. She taught it might invigorate my physical capability (though not in the manner that Martin had in mind)

The damn bottle leaked and what a stink it made. Fortunately it affected only my spare underwear – hmmm, I wonder whether there was a sublime message in that coincidence? But I succeeded in that job interview minus my Brand’s.

Alan was more enthusiastic and pro-active. He confessed he actually walked up to several foreigners and asked them if they were his ‘clients’. He narrowly escaped being slapped by two women, thanks to his agility and physical fitness.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Michael Chong said there were probably many others who were duped but were too embarrassed to come forward. I wonder under what category the MCA has filed these two complaints? Gong gong ay* gigolo?

* 'not smart' is a friendly translation

Beneath the buah cherry tree (5)

The typical idyllic scene in an older part of Suburbia – a kedai kopi (coffee shop or in reality, just a stall) beneath a Malaysian ‘buah cherry’ tree. The customers sit al fresco enjoying their coffee or tea, some nasi lemak, roti canai or kueh, and their favourite hobby, casual conversation.

gau char*, Leong, pagi ‘mad, special hari ini. Menantu panggang!

* well and early (Chinese morning greeting)

Aiyah Muthu, you mean menu panggang.

I mean what I said – menantu panggang.

Leong (to Ahmad):
He’s referring to someone currently being given a roasting by the people who were once said to be hidup segan, mati tak mahu.

You mean that the White Prince?

None other than he who wants to be whiter than white.

After all that bloody roasting, he needs more bleaching powder to be white again.

Leong: The shark fin lovers having spelled blood, ripped into him, saying that his actions had been a form of myopic racial sentiments, meant to create self inflated heroism to exaggerate a community’s insecurities. Bloody big words that had me reaching for the dictionary continuously.

And because they are shark fin lovers, they also popped in the warning that such racist actions have no market in the globalised era - nothing like a plug for trade, combining the time-honoured shark fin lovers' inclination to mix business with 'pleasure'.

I heard they accused him of instigating such sentiments, if not as a distraction, to gain political mileage. But they said that only in Mandarin, and not during in English or Bahasa.

There’s a limit to what shark fin lovers could say and in what language, even though the boss of the White Prince has given his OK for the bashing.

What about his ‘friend’, the one who had tried to whitewash the White Putra’s comments?

Leong (smiling): He was equally washed-out as well.

Muthu (smiling): Whitewash - washout - knew you shark fin lovers were born laundry men.

Leong (laughing):
Good one, Muthu. More than 20 speakers hammered him. Good therapy for those usual losers in this sort of game. But a combination of the Royal Prince’s current standing, his boss’ own uneasy position and the OK to conduct the bashing, internal party rivalry and a need to minimise friction in the Club, gave those who were once hidup segan mati tak mahu the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the jaguh this time.

First, they took delight in the White Prince’s claimed heavy financial loss when he offloaded his shares. They even said ‘Serve you right! Your loss is justified!’ Pretty petty, isn’t that, Leong?

Yeah lah, that is, if he really lost anything at all. But as I said, it’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so semua hentam saja. Tomorrow the special hunting or roasting licence would probably be withdrawn. But they were also pissed that he claimed for altruistic reason to deliberately make a loss so as to deny the 'nons' any purchase of the shares. Whether it was bullshit or not, by stating that he piled on more of the racist sentiments.

Eventually they roasted the tok ampu courtier, for having too cosy a relationship with the Prince.

Yah man, they even insulted him with the sarcastic 'hope' he didn’t lend the Prince any money. I think that bloke’s position in the party is now dicey. His party compatriots see him as a traitor. For him, it's papa time.

This is serious criticism, man. What about the Putra's old man? You think he’s going to stand for this?

Those shark fin lovers played safe, by reminding everyone that those who were once hidup segan mati tak mahu had been constantly faithful to the old man’s side, especially during the 1987 and 1998 party crises. They said they had never taken advantage, but instead stood steadfastly with primus inter pares. They realise how far a step they may take when it comes to Princes, especially those of the 'soil'.

Ahmad: Aiyoh,
Leong, what is this primus inter pares talk, man.

Prime ribs panggang?

Ahmad: Muthu, nice try, but just bring out the usual teh tarik, kopi-o and roti panggang with kaya. And what about the tosei lovers?

Muthu (smirking): Ayoyo,
Must I Come too?

Ahmad (laughing): U Must Not Object lah!

The Cherry Tree Chronicles:
Beneath the buah cherry tree
Beneath the buah cherry tree (2)
Beneath the buah cherry tree (3)
Beneath the buah cherry tree (4)

Petronas received Chad's 24-hour Expulsion Order

Bad news for Malaysia.

President Idriss Deby of Chad has ordered ordered Petronas and US energy giant Chevron to leave the country within 24 hours for failing to honour tax obligations. Oil experts said Chad wants to increase national control over its oil output. Deby has given Petronas and Chevron till tomorrow to close their offices and get out.

Until this expulsion order the international consortium that manages Chad’s oil wells was a partnership that comprises Exxon (40%), Chevron (25%) and Petronas (35%).

Well, Chad retains its dealings with Exxon to the disadvantage of the other two. President Deby stated: "Chad with Exxon will manage its oil while waiting to find a solution with the two other partners."

Chad claims it is not receiving a satisfactory share of the revenue from eth sales of its oil production. Under the 1988 agreement with the foreign consortium, Chad gets 12.5 per cent of the wellhead value of total production, before quality discount and the cost of sending it through the pipeline to Cameroon's Kribi terminal.

Deby lamented: "Despite the rise in the price of a barrel, now estimated at about $US70, Chad doesn't get much from its oil revenues."

"In less than three years of exploitation, the consortium has earned $US5 billion ($A6.6 billion) for a $US3 billion ($A4 billion) investment. In contrast, Chad has just received crumbs: $US588 million ($A774 million), just 12.5 per cent."

His government, listed by Transparency International as the world’s most corrupt state, has threatened Petronas and Chevron before. In April it said it would stop oil production completely unless the World Bank unlocked an oil revenue account frozen in a dispute over how it spent its oil profits. But it backed off that time.

Chad has also shifted diplomatic relationshsip from Taiwan to oil-thirsty China, which a major oil investor in neighbouring Sudan. Chadian officials said, threateningly to Petronas interest, that they would welcome Chinese investment in the oil sector.

Deby, who needs increased oil revenues to tackle poverty and a security threat from eastern rebels, has called the original 1988 oil development deal a ‘fool's agreement’. Obviously its expulsion order for Petronas and Chevron intends to force renegotiation of the original contract to improve its cut of the share.

He has sacked current and former ministers who had handled Chad's original oil negotiations. It seems those officials had also sent letters to Petronas and Chevron advising them not to pay the taxes. I suppose Exxon has cut its own deal with Deby.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Where do I begin ........

Time: A few days ago

Scene: Kaisifart and Ring Re Ring at an upmarket café, sipping latte and laughing away

K: Can you sort it out?

RRR: No worries one. Aya, taikoh, leave it to me, I’ll kow-tim it in a jiffy.

K: Like Ryan O’Neal scratching Ali’s back eh in that movie, you now scratch my back eh, hehehe.

RRR: Provided you’re Ali. You know. Hehehe

K (smiling): Tiu lei – hey, I like this Chinese word you’ve taught me, but tell me, what is kow tim yee?

RRR (now wary): Er … it can mean a lot of things, depending on how you pronounced it or how the tones go – there are 7 tones in the Cantonese language, you know. But leave out that yee – just use kow-tim or as our Indon neighbours would say – beres (now anxious to drop the subject, and reminding himself not to use the kow-tim word again)

RRR: I'll say you didn’t mean to hurt anyone. Beres lah! I’ll make you come out whiter than white.

One day later …

K: Tiu nia ma ke fulat, Rin-tin-tin, it’s not f… beres. Those bastards are howling for my blood, and even my own people are now acting ‘dunno’. Couldn’t you handle something simple? Where's your f-promise of whiter than white.

RRR (angry): Don’t call me Rin-tin-tin OK? I am not a dog.

K: Well, f… you, I’ll call you anything I want. You couldn’t even sort out a simple matter. You're lucky I call you an Alsatian instead of a Pekingese.

RRR (thinking of the future, decided to back off and cool K down): Look taikoh, it’s not so simple as you think. You have accused them of a serious sinister scheme, and I did try to ameliorate your accusation. But it's damn too f-ing hurtful to allude to them as unscrupulous scheming people. Afterall, they're suppose to be your allies, you know.

K: F-F-F… it’s just for internal consumption, don't they f-know that. What do I do now?

RRR: You’re complaining? Spare me a thought, man. Look, I have lost mucho face for your sake – those bastards have virtually shot me down. Just brushed me aside as if I’m nobody. I am in deep shit with them right now. I may have to go-see my papa.

K: C’mon, what’s the next step? Anyway I can slow-talk them? Anything? ... you know ........

RRR: Where do I begin ….....

At that moment the soft background music in the café played the theme song from 'Love Story', where love means never having to say one particular magic word:

Where do I begin
To tell the story of how great a love can be
The sweet love story that is older than the sea
The simple truth about the love he brings to me

Where do I start

(with apologies to Carl Sigman & Francis Lai for changing the gender in their lyrics)

This one is for mob1900 - thanks mate for your tip and inspiration.

The "Bumiputera" in the Malay identity

Yesterday, in Muslim Scholar: "Hudud laws not for Malaysia" I mentioned that some explanations by Dr Syed Ali as to the Malays in Malaysia being Muslims first rather than Malays, raised more questions than provide clarification.

He said: “Without being a Muslim, a Malay is not a Malay. The Malay language, which gives the Malays identity, comes from the Quran.”

I know Dr Syed Ali is the head of Malaysia’s Islamic think-tank, but I reckon his assertion of the Malay language coming from the Quran is a wee too strong a spin.

What about words like bagai (Tamil), bahagia (Sanskrit), baju (Persian) – I could go on and raise another 1,000 non-Arabic/Quranic words. Then, most interesting of all, there is bumi (Sanskrit) and putera (also Sanskrit).

KTemoc might even daringly add in modern Malaysian lexicon such as kow-tim and gnaam-gnaam.

Anyway, Dr Syed Ali added: “The Melayu is defined as first being a Muslim and because he’s a Muslim, he follows the customs and traditions of the Malays which are derived from Islam, followed by the language of the Malays which (also) derives from Islam.”

Here are a few (extracted) responses from Malaysiakini readers:

Shufiyan Shukur: The language of the Malays is Austronesian in origin as are the people. It has nothing to do with Islam. The Malay people existed before Islam. They were animists, Hindus and Buddhists before embracing Islam.

The only connection between Malay as an ethnic group and Islam as a religion is the Federal Constitution.

Am I first a Muslim then Malay? No, I am first Malay, then Muslim, because a religion can, at will, be rejected.

An Indonesian Malay Christian would get quite annoyed if you were to claim that he/she is not Melayu as I found out from a girlfriend many years ago.


You could bleach your skin, colour your hair, speak Icelandic, but you are still Malay - "Melayu tetap Melayu". But in a flash, you could reject your religion. You could eat pork, consume alcohol, get baptised and deny the syahadah (affirmation) and zap! you are not Muslim. But ethnically, you are still 'Melayu' - neither you nor anyone else can take that away.

Renuka: I totally disagree with Mr Syed Ali that Malays are Muslims first! What were they called when they were Hindus and Buddhists during the pre-Islam period? And what about the Malays in Bali, 90 percent of whom are Hindus?

And it's misleading for him to say that the Malay language is derived from Islam and as such of Arabic origin. Malay is a language very
heavily influenced by Tamil and Sanskrit, which incidentally is the language of Hindu holy books.

Malay is a race and has nothing to do with religion. Especially so in Malaysia, where the language and traditions (eg, wedding rituals) are so influenced by the Hindu religion, right down to the mehendi Siti Nurhaliza wore at the live telecast wedding ceremony. What a joke! Even the word bumiputera is 100 percent derived from Tamil. [or Sanskrit]

OK then, with such arguments in place, I am off for breakfast - a kopi-o, roti with kaya; for lunch perhaps soup mee or koay-tiow goreng, and then for a tummy churning dinner, laksa and sarsi. And for supper, there's always teh-tarik and a light fried bi-hun.

In defence of, and apologies to Pluto

Michael Shara, astrophysics curator at the American Museum of Natural History said: "We had enormous numbers of telephone calls, and I would say things that verged on hate mail from second-graders - very angry children who said, 'What have you done? This is the cutest, most Disney-esque of the planets. How could you possibly demote it?'"

Alan Stern, lead scientist of a Pluto-bound probe lamented: "What they did was scientifically ludicrous and publicly embarrassing … Pluto is a planet with clouds, weather and geology."

sydney morning herald picture - minus pluto but with earth's moon

Then, Bryn Nelson of Newsday ‘wrote a letter’ to Pluto, as follows:

Dear Pluto,

It's nothing personal.

Honest. It's just that you were always a bit different from the other eight planets, especially in how you failed to keep your orbit, well, clean.

You're basically round, of course, and you orbit the sun, albeit in that elliptical way of yours. Thursday's yanking of your official "planet" status by the International Astronomical Union comes down to one inconvenient truth: You weren't big enough to sweep away or incorporate your celestial neighbours, while Neptune and the others were packing on the pounds in the early millenniums of our solar system. "Dwarf planet" isn't so bad, is it?

Welcome to the B-list, Pluto.

Institutions like the American Museum of Natural History have dismissed you for years, but astronomers meeting in Prague looked set to solidify your place in the planetary pantheon only last week by essentially defining a planet as anything round that orbits the sun.

But then, the solar system would have at least 53 planets, taxing even the best mnemonic device. The asteroid Ceres would be one! So would your biggest moon, Charon. And Xena, too, or whatever they'll call the recently discovered sphere 2003 UB313, which is bigger than you are.

If Pluto is a planet, astronomers maintained, so is Xena.

And now, neither of you is, after an about-face by astronomers and the new label of "dwarf planet" along with Ceres. Even Xena's co-discoverer, Mike Brown, conceded a downgrade was in the best interests of science.

But back to you, Pluto.

In a decision akin to naming you "Miss Congeniality", the astronomers meeting in Prague promoted you to the head of your own celestial class. Exactly what that class should be called, though, is unsettled.

"Plutonian objects" didn't pass muster, and geologists pointed out that a prior suggestion, "plutons", was taken. In the interim, you can take pride in being the grand pooh-bah of "trans-Neptunian objects", or those wan bodies pushed out of the way long ago by Neptune.

Put another way, Pluto, you're now king of the solar system's icy dirtballs. Not that it changes our feelings for you.

"Pluto is still a fascinating object," said Charles Liu, an associate astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History.

And at least you fared better than Charon, which has been "sent back to committee".

Pluto, we all feel your pain.

I doubt this is going to stop those 'hate mails' ;-)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Size Matters!

Poor Pluto - for 70 years it was the 9th planet in our solar system. Now it has been consigned to where it belongs - no, not Hades, but as one of the 'dwarf planets'.

BBC photo

I am going to complain to the Human Rights Commission about such discrimination of calling Pluto a dwarf. I am sure Suhakam will be more than pleased to drop whatever they are now looking into - hah, another missing 'planet', the IPCMC* - in order to take my complaint up.

* this one is for blogger walski69 who has also been looking for the much needed but still 'missing' IPCMC in GoatGate 2: Press Conference at Paul's Place and GoatGate 2: Press Conference at Paul's Place

BBC photo

Read this and this for more. Sob sob sob!

Muslim Scholar: "Hudud laws not for Malaysia"

I have a lot of respect for Islamic scholar Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, the director-general of the Malaysian Institute of Islamic Understanding. I blogged on him in Islamic Scholar: "Stop F**king Around with Marriages!" where he expressed his concerns over the proposed misyar form of marriage. Then, he said he was disturbed by the debates, which largely touched on the issues of sex and lust.

Dr Syed Ali has just been interviewed by Malaysiakini where he provided his views on the Malays, Islam and a host of issues that we wanted to ask but wasn’t sure who to turn to.

After reading the first of his three interviews, I would venture to categorise his discourse into 3 groups of information – firstly there’s the revealing and informative ones, then a second batch where I seems to have more questions than enlightenment, and lastly and most disappointingly, some of his views on non-Islamic matters that I totally disagree with.

Firstly, he explained why Islamic hudud laws are not applicable to modern Malaysia. He explained that hudud law was similar to an emergency declaration provided certain elements are present to warrant it.

He said: “(This is) because one of the intentions of the hudud law in the beginning was to prevent the Arabs from going back to the mentality of the pagan tribe people. If the danger of Muslims becoming pagans existed today, then I would say apply it but this condition does not exist, so why speculate when there is no precedent.”

He elaborated: "... It seems like now, we’re reducing Islam merely to the laws, halal haram halal haram, that’s all. Islam does not merely fall within the category of law alone."

"Let’s take the issue of punishment for apostasy that they are talking about now as death. That is the hudud law. It’s not mentioned in the Quran as far as I know and there’s a historical precedent to why these laws were first established during Khalifah Omar’s time."

"He could see that the Arab population was already reverting to the tribal pagan mentality. In order to preserve and protect Islam from being miscommunicated and confused, right at the onset he put the most stringent laws. This is the reason."

"Therefore, the hudud laws are very strict precisely because of the intent designed to prevent the Arabs from returning to the jahiliyah mentality but that doesn’t mean they apply for all time, especially not in a country with a multi-religious, multi-social strata like Malaysia."

Another version that I had heard was that Islamic laws such as the death penalty for apostasy came into being during a time of war, when the act of apostasy was then akin to desertion during a military campaign. And we know that desertion during war even in modern times could be met with capital punishment.

Dr Syed Ali then said the Malays in Malaysia are Muslims first, else they won’t be Malay by definition. He went on to discuss issues of the constitutional definition, Malay language, culture, Islamic value system etc – I’ll blog on this much later because his explanations have filled me with more questions than information.

Another issue that has angered him has been what he perceived as interference by non-Muslims into Islamic affairs. He wants them to back off and mind their own business - more of this in another posting.

On the third group of information, eg. non-Islamic matters such as the building of churches and temples, he said that “in this country there is no stringent law that says you cannot do that (build places of worship). Look at every other corner or tree and you’ll see a little red Buddhist shrine. People don’t disturb it, they respect it. We don’t go and break it, for heaven’s sakes!”

“I think sometimes these people are also stepping over their boundaries, the ones who demand too much. There already is freedom of worship, you’re free to worship anywhere.”

Well, much as I respect him for his intellectual knowledge on Islam, he knows diddly squat about Buddhism. To suggest that there is a red little Buddhist shrine at every corner or tree indicates his lack of knowledge on Buddhism.

As I blogged before in Sneaky Buddhists, Scary Buddhists!, Buddhists don’t give two hoots about the mercy or goodwill of god or gods. The Buddhist belief calls upon the adherents to break free of the cycle of life, death and reincarnation, by their own efforts of right action, right thoughts and right understanding of the Truths.

So why would they have little shrines under trees or elsewhere. Quite frankly, Dr Syed Ali has confused the practice of animists’ or superstitious people with the religion of Buddhism.

I had also touched on Buddhism in Buddhism sans Saviour where I commented that blogger MENJ had been wrong in his book titled 'Buddhism: A Muslim Primer', where he described his publication as 'a critical introduction to the beliefs of Buddhism and its soteriology, as well as its ethics and social order from the Islamic viewpoint.'

The use of word ‘soteriology' implies 'the religious doctrine of salvation through a saviour'. I said I had to disappoint MENJ because, unlike the Abrahamic religions, there’s no such person as a saviour in Buddhism. The Buddhist’s own efforts are his saviour, not any personality like Allah swt, Jehovah, Jesus, Krishna, Siva, etc.

I wonder why most (though not all) Muslims have difficulty comprehending that Buddhists are actually almost-aethists - ‘almost’ because, while not discounting the existence of ‘devas’ (god or gods), they ignore all spiritual beings as irrelevant and nothing more than just another life form.

The second mistake commonly made has been that Chinese religious practices, like worshipping at roadside shrines, are Buddhist in nature, when that’s more of superstition based on animist beliefs.

Dr Syed Ali has also been wrong on a second count to aver that authorities don’t break roadside shrines. Ask those angry Hindus whose decades old shrines have been smashed by DBKL enforcement squads in unmitigated fashion.

Thirdly, maybe a Christian can tell me whether they have succeeded yet in building a church in Shah Alam (or is it some other town in Selangor), where for decades the State government has refused to approved the church's building plans for a site already allocated for Christian worship?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dr Mahathir wants AAB investigated for UN's Iraqi scandal

Unbelievable – Dr Mahathir has just exploded a 1000 megaton N-device!

In a press conference in Kedah he revealed to the press including Malaysiakini that he wants PM AAB investigated for involvement in the UN Oil-for-Food programme.

He stated that AAB’s relatives - Faek Ahmad Shareef, an Iraqi immigrant who was married to Abdullah’s sister-in-law but later divorced, and Noorasiah Mahmood, the sister of Abdullah’s late wife Endon Mahmood - were allegedly the biggest bribe-giver to the illicit UN oil-for-food deal involving deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. They operated through a Malaysian trading company called Mastek.

Malaysiakini reported:

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad said an independent body should be formed to investigate his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s alleged involvement in the United Nations Oil for Food Programme scandal.

In what appeared to be one of his harshest attacks against the current administration, Mahathir said government officials should not be involved in any commercial transactions.

Responding to a question on the scandal at a press conference in Kedah yesterday, the former premier said he only became aware of the matter after stepping down in 2003.

“When I was PM, I was not aware (of this) ... only after I stepped down was the report made. What is important is not whether he (Abdullah) is a beneficiary or not but as a deputy prime minister - or anyone who holds a (government) position - should not be involved in any commercial transactions."

“Looks like he was involved. How far he was involved, I don’t know ... but I think there should be an investigation by an independent body, not by those under him,” he said.

Mahathir added that Indian cabinet minister Natwar Singh had resigned when his name appeared on the report.

Of course there isn’t going to be any investigation. But Dr Mahathir is striking right at the heart of AAB’s credibility. If AAB doesn’t act swiftly to counter this very serious allegation - and really, can he? – he is finished!

Reunion after 14 years

Capture this moment of happiness and spread it around the world. Strangely, it's called love!

For story, please read:

(1) The Betty Mahmoody of Malaysia!
(2) Shahirah Raja Bahrin Revisited

A funeral to wake up the dead?

Love this.

In some parts of China, local villagers believed the more mourners at a funeral the more honour the deceased (or family) would receive. Thus the family adopts the strategy of ensuring as many mourners as possible attend the funeral of a loved one.

But how?

Better-off families usually hired two troupes to make funerals ‘more bustling’ so as to attract the mourners.

What troupes?

Striptease! Yahoooooo!

I love those Chinese innovation ;-) Two troupes were invited to strip off at the funeral of a villager called Liang on August 16. About 200 villagers, including children, rolled up to Liang's funeral. What honour ;-)

Strippers were once a common sight at funerals in the Donghai area. But hey, what do you meant “were”?

I reckon because striptease troupes do not add to the solemnity of the occasion, Chinese authorities have cracked down on the unseemly activity. It has even set up a ‘funeral misdeeds’ hotline after the recent crackdown on hiring strippers. The news report said callers to the hotline were in line for a reward of about $50.

Five striptease troupe bosses were arrested in east China's Jiangsu Province last week after ‘obscene performances’ at a funeral. Dash it, wish I had been there!

Obscene? Maybe the police don’t want the dead to wake up? ;-) Bloody spoilsport.

Khairy, Just Say One Magic Word

The country's most talked about (I was going to use the ‘n’ word but better not) son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, had been lambasted by MCA Youth for making a racist statement in saying the Chinese community would take advantage of an UMNO internal strife.

Khairy had also aggravated his reckless faux pas by bringing up a non-issue, that of an already retracted memo to the PM from non-Malay ministers. The Chinese media had a field day with the young man’s exploitative polemics.

MCA Youth deputy leader Ling Hee Leong, son of former MCA president Ling Liong Sik, was the sole MCA member who accepted Khairy Jamaluddin’s excuse that he was misinterpreted by the Chinese media. He jumped in a wee too swiftly to gloss over Khairy's hurtful statement as if all’s well and done with, by issuing a press statement that Khairy had no intention of hurting the feelings of the Chinese Malaysian community, and that the two of them had agreed to ‘look forward to the greater interest of the nation’.

'... greater interest of the nation ...?' But the other executives of MCA Youth shot Ling down like a USAF bomber over Hanoi. Crraaashhh.

Ling’s boss in the MCA Youth, Liow Tiong Lai crudely brushed aside (no, pounded into smithereens) Ling’s public statement, in a show of the MCA Youth’s mounting anger at Ling’s arbitrary public announcement.

Liow stated in no uncertain term who could speak for the MCA Youth. In an unprecedented show of who’s boss, he declared: “I have been given the full mandate in today’s meeting as MCA Youth chief to bring up this issue to Hishammuddin Hussein as the BN Youth chief and settle it at the highest level.”

my underlining

In other words, Liow has flicked off Ling's public annoucement as too bloody cosy and unacceptable to MCA Youth. Earlier, MCA Youth secretary-general Dr Wee Ka Siong had also denied there was any consensus reached on the matter, and dismissed the Ling-Khairy meeting as a private one.

Asked on Ling’s explanation on his meeting with Khairy without prior consent from the party, Liow said, “He is the deputy chief and he has the right to meet anyone but MCA Youth will settle this issue together.”

It’s believed Ling has burrowed deep underground yesterday to avoid reporters.

Liow then quoted a Chinese saying that "the person who started the trouble should end it" in telling Khairy to show 'sincerity' in resolving the controversy.

“He should not repeat the same remarks. If he said he is misunderstood, tell us why he was misunderstood.”

When question on Khairy’s reported explanation that he has no intention to hurt the Chinese Malaysian community, Liow replied (perhaps sarcastically): “I am happy to hear that he said that.”

But the MCA Youth chief refused to say MCA Youth has accepted Khairy’s explanation, saying that the matter should be resolved through the ‘highest leadership’ within the Barisan Nasional Youth. In plain language, Liow meant “No F-way!”

I know the solution MCA Youth seeks, not that I am a high council member of the MCA Youth, but it’s just one magic word that the movie Love Story has in its tagline, a word which needn’t be ever said when there’s love.

Since there’s no love between MCA Youth and Khairy, perhaps ‘the person who started the trouble should end the trouble’ by saying that magic word.

Be brave like you think your were when Condoleezza Rice was here, Khairy. Say that magic word.

Suaram: "Sack UPM's Vice-Chancellor"

In Zen & the Half-Past-Six University I lamented how UPM’s vice-chancellor Prof Dr Nik Mustapha had failed in his duties to bring to account several thuggish undergraduates in his university.

Worse, he even quoted a so-called (internal, of course) investigating committee that the victims were equally responsible for the fracas. Prof Dr Nik danced around the tulips to avoid answering whether ‘there were acts of thuggery and aggressive intimidation, and did a univeristy security guard participate in the bullying?'

He even refused to removed one of the thugs, UPM student representative council leader Abdul Manaf Ariffin from his council position. His pathetic response was that Abdul Manaf’s term as the council leader was finishing. As one Malaysiakini reader asked of the VC:

“Your answer was that their term of office is coming to an end and thus implying that no actions need to be taken. So by simple extension, if a bank manager is caught misappropriating fund and about to retire, then no action is to be taken too because his term as manager is coming to an end. I really cannot believe such a stupid statement could come from a man of your standing, Mr VC.”

What 'standing'? You meant 'appointment'. A person may be 'appointed' but it doesn't necessarily mean he has 'standing'. He has to earn that.

Human rights group Suaram has also expressed its disgust at the UPM whitewash by calling on the Ministry of Higher Education to sack Prof Dr Nik. Suaram said the VC was in a state of total denial when it referred to Mustapha’s incredulous remark that the students were “merely singing, cheering and not shouting” when asked to explain the video recording.

It said: “The video clip clearly showed that those students did shout, heckle, intimidate and manhandle the SPF members.”

It's just incredulous that a univeristy VC wanted to protect the culprits of a bullying thuggish incident and at the same time demonise the student-victims. Is it a university for samseng (thugs)?

Suaram said it was ‘gravely concerned’ over the manner in which the committee, comprising five UPM lecturers, had investigated the case.

“How could one expect five subordinates of the vice-chancellor to investigate and perform their duty without fear or favour.”

Suaram accused the committee of posing ‘leading questions’ to the victims when they were testifying.

It said: “They were asked to explain why SPF [the victims] had set up a service counter without getting permission from the authority and why they refused to leave when they were ordered to, instead of investigating how they were intimidated and victimised.”

Indeed, why focus on peripheral issues like administrative matters when manhandling, intimidation and bullying had occurred? What about the more important issues of thuggery among undergraduates? Should such barbaric violence be condoned in a university, a so-called centre of higher learning?

That’s why I consider UPM as nothing more than a ‘half-past-six’ university. And don’t forget, this was the same university that produced the so-called ethnic relation textbook that acting Law Minister, Nazri, had termed as a seditious publication and a piece of rubbish that should be withdrawn. It was nothing more than a textual manifestation of racial bias by so-called academicians from the half-past-six university.

Regrettably this is Malaysia, and we won’t ever get to see any decent standards of propriety in the university. Those people shouldn't have been appointed in the first place, and despite their shameful exhibition of shamless bias, won’t get sacked. Those young thugs won’t get expelled or even ticked off - they will now believe they have a 'right' to perpetuate their behaviour of violent intimidation.

I reckon we may expect more of the same from UPM.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Coming Soon - "Holier Than Thou"

I ask myself why Malaysia has been overly keen, in fact a wee too insistent that we despatch troops to Lebanon, when it knows fully well that Israel would not accept her presence.

It’s well and good to proclaim haughtily that the decision lies with the UN rather than Israel when reality tells us the Jewish State would have a big say, backed up by the USA’s even bigger say – and the USA does what Israel tells it to.

Maybe Malaysia knows that Malaysian troops won’t be accepted, hence the constant offer and regular proclamation to send Malaysian soldiers to a war-shattered predominantly-Muslim Lebanon?

Then PM AAB wondered aloud why the UN didn’t take any action against Israel for breaking the ceasefire, even though Kofi Annan had condemned that maverick action. AAB knows full well that the UN itself has no executive powers, which lies with the UN Security Council (UNSC), and unless the USA comes to the party, any Resolution by the UNSC against Israel would be veto-ed, supported by its poodle UK.

Why the grandstanding then?

Yes, why have we been blessed with all the regular 'noises' from PM AAB and FM Syed Hamid about Lebanon? OK, perhaps AAB is also Chair of the OIC, but I feel it could be more than that - could it be the domestic gallery that he has been playing to?

Then I note that AAB has urged some (4) States to enforce laws to prevent people of different religions from spreading their beliefs to Muslims - this call only after almost 50 years of independence?

He also said he had kept reminding people to avoid debating religious issues as it could cause racial tension, yet he now raises it himself.

Recently he has clamped down completely on the Article 11 forums.He even accused those who continued with the Article 11 activities as wanting the interfaith commission (IFC) to be formed.

But surely he knows the Article 11 activities have been related to a secular issue, namely the constitutional rights of citizens, whereas the IFC has been about common grounds among the various religions. The link between the two would be tenuous at best.

And the government has been deafeningly silent over the death threats against human rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz as a result of his involvement in Article 11 activities and the Lina Joy apostasy case. ABIM and other NGOs were the ones that took up the cudgel for Malik.

Given all these indications, may we be expecting a holier-than-thou stoush very soon between UMNO and PAS to claim the higher Islamic grounds, or could it be UMNO versus PKR though this seems unlikely, or even more unlikely, among a divided UMNO?

Mind you, AAB has pooh-pooh-ed away media queries that the Barisan Nasional might call for an early general election, supposedly to derive political gains from the implementation of the 9th Malaysia Plan.

He said BN had received an overwhelming mandate from the people in the last general election, adding: “The mandate is for a five-year term. So why must we unnecessarily call for an election in the second or third year?”

But could AAB be worried about an UMNO increasingly losing credibility among the constituencies in the heartlands, what with not just one loose cannon but two, in the persons of the Grand Ole Man and his son-in-law giving him problems?