Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Danish newspaper offends Muslim nations

In September, Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). The drawings portrayed the prophet as a terrorist with one showing the Prophet (pbuh) wearing a turban shaped as a bomb. The cartoons infuriated the Muslim world

The Copenhagen Post claimed that Jyllands-Posten printed the cartoons by various Danish illustrators, after reports that artists were refusing to illustrate works about Islam, out of fear of fundamendalist retribution. Jyllands-Posten said it printed the cartoons as a test of whether Muslim fundamentalists had affected Danish freedom of expression.

But the repercussions have started, unfortunately for some innocents. Masked Islamist gunmen had seized an EU office in Gaza City to protest the blasphemy. Meanwhile in Iraq, an insurgent group has called for attacks on Danish and Norwegian targets. It seems a Norwegian paper has also published the drawings. The Danish Red Cross evacuated two of its employees from Gaza and one from Yemen after receiving death threats.

Saudi Arabia has recalled its envoy from Denmark and so has Libya. Sudan cancelled an official visit to Denmark. Thousands of Palestinians marched in protest against the insult to the Prophet (pbuh). Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades has demanded that all Danes and Swedes leave Palestine immediately. Hamas urged Muslim countries to take ‘deterrent steps against idiotic Danish behaviour.’

Most Arab countries have been boycotting Danish goods since the publication. Across the Gulf, several supermarkets removed Scandinavian foods off the shelves. The biggest loser is likely to be the Danish-Swedish dairy product maker Arla Foods, with its annual sales of US$487 million in the Middle East. The world's biggest maker of insulin, Novo Nordisk, has also been affected.

Arla Foods reported that two of its employees in Saudi Arabia were beaten by angry customers. Denmark has already warned its citizens to avoid Saudi Arabia. Arla Foods has suffered enormous losses since the Arab boycott, and has called upon the Danish government to apologise. Arla Foods said a boycott of its products in the Middle East was almost total. Its executive director Peder Tuborgh said:

"I urgently beg the government to enter a positive dialogue with the many millions of Muslims who feel they have been offended by Denmark. Freedom of expression is an internal Danish issue but this has a totally different dimension. This is about Denmark having offended millions of Muslims."

But the government said it cannot apologise on behalf of a newspaper, for the reason that in Denmark, independent media cannot be edited by the government and must therefore bear responsibility for its faux pas.

However, Prime Minister, Fogh Rasmussen gave his private opinion: "I personally have such a respect for people's religious belief that I personally never would have depicted Mohammad, Jesus or any other religious character in a way that could offend other people."

Finally, after earlier defiance, Jyllands-Posten has issued an apology to the world's Muslims for the insensitive cartoons of an Islamic Prophet (pbuh).

It could well be a case of too little too late. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has responded to the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) by appointing two UN experts on racism to carry out a detailed investigation into the Danish newspaper's 'disrespect for belief.'

KTemoc has no intention of publishing those offensive caricatures. Warning - Those cartoons are offensive to Muslims but those who are able to view them as nothing more than, in the words of Hamas, some Danish foolhardy idiocy, can see them on Newspaperlink.com.

US evangelists: "Screw democracy"

US evangelicals and parliament members said they oppose a Hamas government. They also remarked that it didn't matter that Hamas was elected democratically - and this from Americans!

Rebecca Brimmer, president of Bridges for Peace, an Evangelical Christian organization that helps Jews immigrate to Israel, told the Israelis "We must not forget we have joint enemies."

The Israelis have been absolutely delighted but gave the game away as to why US Christians, who’s supposed to turn the other cheek as well as support democracy, are aggressively opposing a domocratically elected Hamas- givernment, by saying "It's openly a holy war against both our faiths [meaning Judeo-Christianity]. And they (Hamas) want to keep the most important Christian holy places in their hands. This is a death threat to our civilization, to our religions."

Well, that’s certainly a well-placed Israeli comment as it’s sure to whip up the froth and foam of the US rightwing Christians into supporting the Hebrews (Israelis) against the Canaanites (Palestinians). Afterall, the infamous Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson had opined that the massive stroke Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered was divine retribution for his pullout from Gaza last summer. Hallelujah!

Now, we know why Bush has been against the democracy he wanted for the region, amply demonstrated by the Palestinians, to the extent he’s punishing those Palestinians for their democratic practices by cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Aah! Democracy, thou faithless whore!

India pulls back from being a US running dog

In my previous posting, India discovers no free ride from USA, I discussed the dilemma India has found herself in when she chose to cosy up to the USA. She has now realised that the US gives no free ride to would-be ally. If India desires US nuclear technology, she has to toe US foreign policy.

I lamented that India, as a founding member of the Bandung Conference, and a champion of the Non-Aligned Movement has to be confronted with such a crude threat from the US, namely vote with the USA in a US (and Israeli instigated) resolution to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Indeed I had shaken my head at India’s political shift to a pro-US stand in my posting Has India Lost Its Soul?.

But now, notwithstanding that it's the Chinese Year of the Dog, India has now come back to say she won't be a US running dog, and will not vote for the US resolution against Iran because, regardless of her political assessment and position, any vote against Iran, after such a US threat, would be seen as being shamefully subsevervient to the USA. You bet!

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been under tremendous domestic pressure for his pro-US stand against Iran. The proud Indian public obviously cherish their 60 years of independence as a sovereign nation and resent any neo-colonialism.

Instead, India will now abstain like Rusia and China are expected to. India is backing a Russian compromise plan, already backed by China. under which Moscow would enrich Iranian uranium fuel.

But the most telling indication of India’s anger at US attempted bullying has been a remark by an unnamed Indian foreign ministry official, who said:

"We are still hoping the crisis won't go to a vote and Iran will get some more time to resolve it through talks. But if it does, then Ambassador Mulford has made it easy for us."

Mulford, the US Ambassador to India, had been the one who made the threat to deny India the promised US nuclear technology unless the subcontinent nation votes with the USA. Ambassadors don’t make such threats unless they have received instructions from Washington to do so.

Just another example of US crude bullying nature, and also an example of its continuing failed foreign policy.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Europe salved their guilt at Palestinian expense

Ehud Olmert, Israel's acting Prime Minister has blocked $46 million that were due to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday. The blocked funds were revenue from sales tax and customs duties levied on imported products coming into the Palestinian territories and transiting Israel.

Despite Olmert’s argument that Israel fears the funds could be used to finance Hamas activities against Israel, it does show the unjust absurdity of a situation where the Palestinians not only have their homeland robbed plot by plot by an invasive Jewish people from Europe, but now suffers the indignity of the invaders holding back their due money.

It is not unlike an apathetic neighbourhood sitting back idly watching a home invader take over someone’s home and hold back the owner’s purse.

It's a fact that for 2,000 years there was no Jewish identity in Palestine. It's also another fact that for 1,200 the Palestinians were domiciled in that strip of land now called Israel - a land that was stolen from them by guile, force, treachery under the arrogant expediency of British politics.

But all those matter not since 50 odd years ago, when a guilty Europe sent their conscience away into Palestinian land, in effect starting a new form of genocide against the Palestinian people.

Beware of what you wish for (1) - the USA!

The macabre story of the ‘Monkey’s Paw’, written by Willaim Wyman Jacobs, was apparently inspired by the Chinese saying “Beware of what you wish for, in case you might get it”.

It tells of a family - father, mother and a 20-year old son - who came by the monkey’s paw through a friend. The friend was frightened of the paw which gave three wishes to the person who owned it. The wishes were always granted with a result completely harmful to the wisher because of the curse an Indian fakir had placed on the paw. The friend tried to burn the paw which was salvaged by the father of the family.

The new owner of the paw, the father, was fairly modest and his first wish, at the prodding of his wife, was just for 200 sterling pounds to pay off his remaining mortgage. He received that money the next day when his son was killed in a factory accident which saw the young man mangled horribly by the machine he was tending. The money was compensation from the company.

The wife then made the second wish for his son to come home alive, and the son did, but in the form he was after he was killed by the factory machine. The story ended with the dilemma of the man who wanted to make the 3rd and final wish to make the gruesome monster knocking at his door disappear, but wondering what horrible repercussions would ensue from that wish.

The story fits the dilemma of the USA in its pro-Israeli Middle East outlook. Its first wish was for the political neutralisation of Yasser Arafat, the head of the secular Fatah and acknowledged leader of the Palestinian coalition of resistance groups known as the PLO, whom the US saw as a stubborn obstacle to the Palestinians living in peace with Israel (or, more truthfully, for a Palestine subordinated to Israel). The wish came true when Yasser Arafat died of an unknown illness, with many suspecting the Israelis poisoned him in the same manner as they had Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, in Amman in 1997.

The symptoms were exactly similar. In an earlier posting on the questions surruonding Yasser Arafat's Death I said:

"For example, it has been a proven fact that Israel had poisoned Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, in Amman in 1997. In exchanged for captured Israeli spies in Jordan, the Jordanian King forced Israeli PM Netanyahu to provide the antidote, thus saving Khaled. Because of this notorious case, there continues to be strong belief, though not backed by evidence, that Arafat was poisoned by the secret agents of his arch enemy, Ariel Sharon."

With the disappearance of the formidable personality of Arafat, the curse of the monkey's paw saw the Palestinian people turning more and more to the extremist Islamist Hamas who has vowed to destroy Israel.

The US second wish was for a democracy in Palestinian, with the implicit hope that such an institution may see a more compliant US-sponsored Palestinian Authority (which replaces the earlier PLO) succumb more and more to Israeli demands and atrocious land grabbing.

The wish for democracy was granted with the fair conduct of the parliamentary election in Palestine. However, the monkey paw's curse on the US witnessed the Palestinian people voting for Hamas as their preferred representatives. I had blogged earlier in HAMAS to form New Palestinian Government, on some factors which saw the Palestinians’ change of political affiliation from the previously popular & secular Fatah to the Islamist Hamas.

Now the USA has threatened to cancel aid to the Palestinians because it is not pleased with the democratic outcome that has turned out to be a nightmare for its pro-Israeli foreign position.

Leaving aside the hypocritical and biased nature of America’s foreign policy, where ‘democracy’ means pro-USA governments (or one compliant to the requirements of an Israeli government), let’s mull for a while over the US option for its remaining 3rd wish. And what frightening outcome the Indian fakir’s curse would bring about?

Some political observers suggested that Israel and their US friends in the Bush Administration (and as most of us know, US foreign policy in the Middle East is controlled by Israel) would like to isolate the incoming Hamas government through the cutting off of US financial aid, thus forcing the impoverished new Palestinian Authority to moderate its policies towards Israel or better still, make the Palestinian people become disillusioned with a Hamas government, thus driving them back to the US preferred Fatah.

That seems to be its likely 3rd wish, but Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, a top member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has already provided an indication of the curse of the 3rd wish. He warned that cutting off US aid to the Hamas-run government could push the Palestinians closer to Iran and create further chaos in the Middle East.

Iran helping Hamas! Now, that's the ultimate in curses for both the US and Israel.

Next - the Israeli wishes ........

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Gong Xi Fa Cai - May this Year of the Dog brings peace, good health, happiness, good luck and prosperity for all.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

There are bridges & there are bridges!

The company that has been given the contact to build the ‘scenic’ crooked bridge half-way across the Straits of Johore is Gerbang Perdana. It was incorporated on Sept 26, 1998, and owned by a consortium of three shareholders – Merong Mahawangsa Sdn Bhd (60%), DRB-Hicom Berhad (20%), and Detik Nagasari Sdn Bhd (20%). The chairman is Tan Sri Razali Ismail and the managing director Datuk Yahya A. Jalil.

Gerbang Perdana has been given a 33-year concession by the government to design, finance, build, operate and transfer the bridge, which comprises five components: the bridge to replace the Causeway, a CIQ complex, new interchanges, road upgrading and a rail link.

In April last year, Malaysia's very own Humpty Dumpty threatened "If both sides [meaning the Malaysian & Singapore governments] fail to reach agreement, we will continue with this (contingency plan). We will demolish the Johor Causeway on our side of the border and from there, we will build the bridge which will be 18 metres above the sea level to enable small ships to pass through."

Demolish the Causeway? Wow! Is that the tactic to force the Singapore government into completing the other half of the ‘scenic’ bridge?

In 2003, DAP Lim Kit Siang asked why the bridge had to be meandered, making the length on the Malaysian side 3 times longer and thus 3 times more expensive that a straightforward (excuse the deliberate pun) straight one.

Perhaps it’s to make the view more ‘scenic’? But let's continue our discussions of bridges.

In Pengkalan Pasir village near Kota Baru, Kelantan, its villagers cross a canal by means of a rotting wooden bridge, that had and injured a couple of people and killed even more, including the last two in 2005, 5-year old Noralili Mohd Yusof and 65-year old Khatijah Rahmatullah.

I blogged on that in February 2005 over at BolehTalk in The Bridge of Death.

The villages had actually raised notice of the decrepit and dangerous state of the bridge to the authorities, but as usual in such a rural village, especially in PAS-controlled Kelantan, nothing was done. In such a situation where a non Barisan Nasional Party governed the State, there would be the perpetual argument over who the responsible authority had been, the State or the Federal government, but the people who were either injured or killed were all Malaysians.

One wonders how many such rural bridges and how many pot-holed tracks in the kampongs (villages) could have been repaired and how many personal computers purchased for use in the kampong schools with the RM2 billion the government has allocated to the construction of a ‘scenic’ bridge to nowhere!

Related:
Malaysian 'Cynics' will have 'Scenic' Bridge to Nowhere!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Malaysian 'Cynics' will have 'Scenic' Bridge to Nowhere!

Amazing stuff.

The government is proceeding with a RM2 billion bridge that reaches half-way in the middle of the Johore Straits, the channel of water between Malaysia and Singapore. The other half will only be completed if the Singapore government agrees to the construction of its half, which up to now it has steadfastly refused to.

So what does one do with a half-way bridge, apart from entering the absurdity in the Malaysian Book of Records?

Another amazing Malaysian innovation! To cover up the bloody uselessness of a bridge that ends abruptly in the middle of the Johore Straits, the government has renamed it as a ‘scenic’ bridge, implying it’s not going anywhere except for viewing purposes in the middle of a nowhere channel. That’s where our tax money is going.

But Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed his delight that the construction of the ‘scenic’ bridge is going ahead. He said one can’t wait forever for the Singapore to agree. Does this mean that he’s virtually admitting the bridge will never be completed?

It’s a bit like the Penang problem of PORR, where a humongous expensive construction must proceed for construction sake rather than public benefit. The developers must not be let down.

Mahathir wonders why the government has called it the ‘scenic’ bridge when he reckons it ought to be titled ‘cynic’ bridge instead, perhaps sarcastically commenting on the lack of Singaporean cooperation.

But Mahathir may not be far off with his counter-proposal of the bridge's description. Maybe he has in his subconscious a faint awareness that the long suffering Malaysian taxpayers are by now definitely cynics as to good government governance in Malaysia.

Stop-Revive-Survive!

For Malaysians driving back to the kampongs (villages or home towns) during the festive holidays, starting today in a few hours time, please drive safely and remember do take a rest after every two hours of driving. Even a ten minute rest can make a big difference to your driving alertness and thus enhances your safety.

Enjoy your holidays, but don't forget to Stop-Revive-Survive when driving.

Why the World Hates America (2)

Here is yet ANOTHER example of US callous and lawless arrogance, explaining the true reason the so-called paragon of democracy and democratic due process has consistently refused to subscribe to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The US claimed that it doesn't want to subordinate its soldiers to the ICJ because its enemies would exploit political issues to prosecute US troops, but the real reason for its legal recalcitrancy has been the fact that US soldiers had behave in criminal fashion and would undoubtedly be prosecuted for war crimes – some shocking examples have been murders and/or lawlessness at My Lai, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, Philippines, South Korea, Okinawa, Panama, Nicaragua, Chile, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, even Australia, etc.

Indeed the US war crimes have been notorious legends though the victims are unlikely to ever see justice, because in each case, the US allowed its soldiers to get away with those crimes without the due process (of appropriate punishment) that it has the brazen hypocrisy to lecture others about.

For example, one of the US soldiers in Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer was charged for murder and dereliction of duty for the grisly suffocation death of an Iraqi general, Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush during an interrogation in 2003. And f**k the Geneva War Conventions.

He was found guilty of negligent manslaughter but instead of the three years imprisonment that should have accompanied that verdict, received nothing more than a reprimand, a $6000 fine and a temporary confinement in his base for just 2 months. That’s how much a US soldier would be made accountable for the torture to death of a POW.

And Americans wonder why Why the World Hates America, yes, hates America!

Related:
(1) The Tragedy of an Afghan Taxi Driver
(2) The New Gulag Archipelago
(3) Bagram Villagers: “Die America!”
(4) US Kills For Democracy & Liberty
(5) US Sex Terrorists Above Filipino Law

Thursday, January 26, 2006

HAMAS to form New Palestinian Government

Hamas has won big, and will now field the next Palestinian government. Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei has conceded defeat and announced his resignation. He said that Hamas must form the next government after the general election.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri agreed that his party has won 75 seats, giving Hamas an absolute majority. He called upon countries in the region (meaning Israel) and the international community (meaning the USA) to respect the Palestinian people's choice, the result of democracy.

Both the world champion of democracy, the USA, and the region’s most touted democracy, Israel, have objected to Hamas forming the new Palestinian government, even if the party wins through democratic means, with the Americans even threatening to stop aid to the Palestinians if Hamas wins.

The US has been applying pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to keep Hamas in opposition regardless of the party’s showing in the election. US President Bush said he would not deal with Hamas unless it abandoned its tough stance on Israel. It’s a one-sided argument because the very things he criticised or blamed Hamas for, he could well turn around and apply those same accusations against Israel as well.

The US government, in its usual double standard manner, has encouraged the Palestinian parliamentary elections as part of its so-called drive to promote democracy. It has reiterated that it will accept the results as the will of the people. What it didn’t say then was “provided Hamas is not elected.”

The US considers Hamas as a terrorist organisation in the same way the British had considered the Jewish militants in the 1940’s as terrorists. So, what’s the difference?

Israel's acting leader Ehud Olmert said in no uncertain terms that Israel cannot allow Hamas to become part of the Palestinian Authority in its current form.

KTemoc believes that Hamas has won because of 3 factors:

(1) the corruption of Fatah officials,

(2) the perception that Fatah has been an American puppet because the USA was providing it with campaign funds, which has been a blatant illegal interference in the election process - and let's face it - the USA is not exactly reputable or seen as a fair and unbiased political broker in the Middle East, so that perception hasn't done Fatah any good, and

(3) Palestinian voters' defiance of American shameless threats and bullying interference in their parliamentary elections.

I believe the 3rd reason has been a fairly big factor in bringing about a Hamas victory

India discovers no free ride from USA

Last year India, of all nations, surprised everyone, including her own people by voting against Iran in an IAEA resolution for a future referral of the Persian nation to the UN Security Council (UNSC) if she did not step back from her nuclear ambitions.

The resolution was passed but with Russia and China abstaining. And no one would have expected India, as a founding member of the Bandung Conference, and a staunch pillar of the Non-Aligned Movement, to ever take the side of either the West or East, and thus to abstain. What’s more, it has been an India that has not only close ties with Iran but also a US$7 billion dollar deal with the latter.

I lamented in my posting Has India Lost Its Soul? to the Americans, that today’s Indian government seemed to have abandoned that traditional non-aligned posture and deliberately moved over to the side of the USA because of Washington's promise to provide India with advanced nuclear technology.

India dismissed all suggestions that there was anything linked between the two - the anti-Iran vote and the offer of nuclear technology.

Well, now India realises that there is no such thing as a free ride as the USA demands India to support its campaign to firm up that referral to the UNSC about a defiant Iran. The US wants India to vote for the US campaign against Tehran, or the US offer of nuclear technology is off.

The threat was made very publicly by David Mulford, US ambassador to India, who said: “The effect on members of the US Congress with regard to the civil nuclear initiative will be devastating.”

The US State Department quickly came out ot provide some ’face’ for India by suggesting the ambassador’s remarks were merely his analysis of how Congress might react to India’s reluctance to vote against Iran, though it admitted the US would like India to vote alongside her.

Once again India has to put on a brave face and deny her new predicament. Once a champion of the Non-Aligned Movement, India now is in danger of becoming an American toady as she tries to deal with US political coercion that she toes the American line against Iran.

Anwar Ibrahim - 'Twixt Cup & Lip

I just love reading Malaysiakini Letters, for the reason that I can obtain a wide range of views on Malaysian affairs. Take for example one reader with the pseudonym of ‘Let It Be’ who noted the incongruity of people saying Anwar Ibrahim is a spent force yet dreading his return to politics. The author of the letter said that many politicians continue to be anxious about Anwar Ibrahim being a threat, devoting disproportionate attention to a man who is theoretically ‘finished’.

Then he suggested that perhaps UMNO ought to put the matter to rest once and for all by inviting Anwar back into the party, and also letting him stand for party elections.

Well, that’s certainly a novel way of attempting to open an avenue for Anwar Ibrahim to return to UMNO’s fold, an act which a number of political pundits have alluded the man himself desperately wish for.

I must put my KTemoc cards on the table and, while not a political pundit myself, indeed far from it – I do share that same impression. To me, Anwar is a smart cookie (though not as smart as his former patron, mentor and once-godfather, Dr Mahathir, for obvious reasons) and he knows that as long as he is outside UMNO, he can do diddly squat.

Regardless of whether he still harbours grudges against whoever-in-UMNO, he realises that the sole and major hurdle for his political resurrection is to somehow get back into UMNO. Once in, he is confident of his own oratorical prowess and personality to seduce the party bigwigs into his camp, allowing him to manoeuvre his way back to the top once again.

If you remember where in UMNO’s ruling echelon he had tumbled down from – at the bloody pinnacle, mate – you would appreciate why many others, including those who don’t like him or even his enemies, would sigh ‘sayang saja’ (what a waste). I dare say Anwar himself shares the same frustrating thought. His descent from UMNO’s (acting) No 1 position into political purgatory has been the very example of an aphorism “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip”.

But back to Malaysiakini reader ‘Let It Be’, I reckon he or she must be an Anwar supporter, who thinks that by using a ‘dare’ or reverse psychology, UMNO may just take up the challenge. On this note of 'dare', I recall my old school discipline teacher giving me a painful moral lesson, as he caned the life out of me for taking up a 'dare'. He yelled most angrily “Darers are cowards, takers are fools”, indicating I was a fool for accepting a 'dare'.

What was the 'dare' that got me into painful trouble? Well, my best mate in school, Michael had challenged me to put a nasty hugh caterpillar in the chalk box just before our geography class start. His fantasy was to witnessed how our geography teacher, sweet Miss Lim, would react. I mustn't blame Michael alone for what I did, for I too entertained that same fantasy, so I was a willing captive to his instigation.

I found said caterpillar in the village where I lived and the following day, did just that, put the creepy crawlie into the chalk box. When poor Miss Lim arrived to teach her geography lesson, as usual, she reached (without looking) into the box for a chalk, but found instead in her pretty dainty hand said hairy creepy caterpillar.

I learnt another lesson that day, a mathematical one, that the thrashing I received for my sin was directly proportional to the level of terrified screaming poor Miss Lim demonstrated. Some slimy tattletale revealed all to the discipline teacher.

Well, don't pay too much attention to the consequences of my school days' folly, as the moral of my recall is that ‘takers are fools’, meaning if UMNO invites Anwar Ibrahim back in again, they would be fools. Indeed, why invite a current political nobody (in every practical sense) back into the top echelon of UMNO which may see those inviters deprived of their own positions of power.

To be continued ........

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Problem of the Royal Malaysian Police

On our dismal police abuses and conduct, in some cases allegedly criminal in nature, the Independent Commission's recommendations, such as banning the Police from employing the humiliating punishment of nude ear-squat, are but treatment of the symptoms rather than the root cause of the police maliase. While the Commission recommendations are still welcomed, we need to examine the true core issues. This may represent a closer truth to the crux of the matter.

Basically the Royal Malaysian Police, as a publicly appointed law enforcer, lacks public transparency and accountability on its conduct/actions, and worse, is resistant to change - so says the Commission investigating the Squatgate issue.

These observed traits form a terrible combination as a police force that refuses to be accountable for or show transparency for its actions would naturally feel immune to criticisms or even possible prosecution for its brutal commission of abuses against the very public it’s supposed to protect. The worst trait is the resistance to change and thus refusal to recognise its own ills and reluctance to improve.

I am not shocked at all, as we have already witnessed over the frustrating years numerous incidents of rambo-ish, arrogant and cruel behaviour by our so-called law guardian. The Squatgate shame had been, to use a worn out cliché, but the tip of a rotten iceberg, and came to light only because of its titillating characteristics.

Indeed, what the Commission has brought out is not new. It merely provides yet another report of a dysfunctional police force that may never see correction or improvement, notwithstanding the Prime Minister's instruction to the Police to make periodic announcement on its progess in implementing the earlier Commission recommendations.

The Commission also made another observation that the Police force has been insensitive towards the most fundamental of human rights and dignity. And how! This reflects on a prevailing attitude that engenders callous abuses.

It’s alright for the Commission Report to recommend that the police force must change its mindset and work towards a culture that is more effective, responsible and human rights sensitive. But KTemoc reckons treatment of the disease of corruption in ethics etc afflicting the police really requires a complete change of leadership and a major overhaul. A suppurating or gangrenous wound must be surgically and cleanly removed to prevent it from continuing to poison the body. The Commission's recommendations would come to nought, or at best, superficially addressed, with still the same senior officers remaining unscathed despite two damning reports on the police force.

The PM who is also the Internal Security Minister must make the hard call. The top officers, starting from the IGP and the deputy IGP, must go. There is no place for them for leading a shameful and disreputable police force.

There may be an attempt to excuse them on the argument that they were handed a rotten apple, but in truth, as senior officers, their seniority would indicate their long association with the abysmal condition, and most damning of all to them, that after assuming the leadership, they haven't done anything to improve the force. Instead, the rot within the organisation has continued - Squatgate, alleged deaths in custody, extortion of Japanese student, abuses of female Chinese nationals and sexual harassment of the same group of women who were detained in police lockup, etc.

Unless we see some major heads rolling, we should stop pretending that the Police force could ever change. The police suspension of the person who took the video clip does not address the real issue, of severe abuses, general corruption and the embarrassing lawlessness within the Police.

Go straight to the heart of the Police problem to ensure a true change of mindset and cultural change, namely the leadership! This would be one correct occasion to kill the chicken to frighten the monkeys! Get rid of the IGP, deputy IGP and some senior officers.

Bring in a clean outsider to head the revamped Malaysian Police - there is no necessity to have pre-requisite police experience as that person can consult policing experts/consultants, even if the new IGP has to recruit them from overseas. What he should have is a clean record with expert management and public governance experience. Combined with the permanent independent panel to monitor police conduct that the PM has promised, these may promise some redemption for the Police.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cowboy politicians vs Cowardly politicians!

The controversy that shouldn’t be, over the memorandum of the Gang of 9, continues in Malaysiakini’s Letters’ column. Admittedly there’s a slight lag between the publishing of such letters and the actual events.

One reader, JR Jacob, said:

It comes as no surprise that the non-Muslim ministers who sent the memorandum calling for a revision of the current laws that deprive non-Muslims of their legitimate religious rights have been ticked off by the BN government for their 'shameful act'. To me, such a preliminary dismissal of the memorandum is nothing more than the political reaction of the 'offended' politicians themselves who are out to please those who voted them in.

These politicians, in whose hands religion has become an ugly tool, act in collusion with certain overzealous religious clerics and exploit religion as a lasso to rope in the masses so that they can stay in power. Nothing more than that.

Hmmm, so we have cowboy politicians in UMNO then! And oh, don’t forget PAS who ‘supported’ PM Ahmad Abdullah Badawi on the untouchable sacredness of Article 121(1)(A)

But another reader, A Concerned Malaysian, wrote:

… is it a case of mere grandstanding by the concerned ministers, taking into account the amiable character of the current prime minister, by whose generosity, if I may emphasise, appointed them to the positions they are in the first place.

I shudder to think what would be the consequences should all ministers and divisional heads of the current coalition resort to similar action.

I wonder whether he remembers that the BN is a coalition, and that Cabinet ministerial posts in political alliance are usually 'shared' after some serious negotiation, and not dependent on the PM's largesse? But then, ……..

Another reader, Joe Public said, commented:

The memorandum sent by the nine non-Muslim ministers to our prime minister was a move most welcomed by most of the citizens I have talked to, though they said provided it was not a sandiwara.

The move was described by Pak Lah as ‘unprecedented’, but to us, it has long been overdue. For the past 22 years under Dr Mahathir Mohamad, leaders of the other BN coalition parties appear to be nothing more than yes-men.

I wonder if PAS was not pressuring UMNO on a sensitive Islamic issue, would those 9 be asked to withdraw the memo?

I’ll give Malaysiakini reader, Saif, the final word:

… the cabinet is about collective responsibility and consensus. The handing over of the memo shows us the quality of ministers that we have in the cabinet who cannot even fathom the need to raise the issue as a cabinet agenda first and the insensitivity of doing otherwise. Now, they all look both foolish and cowardly, showing how opportunistic these ministers truly are.

Mate, all politicians are opportunistic and some indeed cowardly, I grant you that. Foolish, hmmm, …….. in this case I don't know ........

Below 200,000th on Amazon Book List to 21st in 3 Days

An obscure historian William Blum wrote a book titled 'Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower'. The book severely criticised US foreign policy, and predicted that Bush so-called war on terrorism is doomed to failure. It was ranked below 200,000th on the Amazon.com list.

Then a bloke came along and recommended to Americans to read the book. When those Americans and other Westerners found out who the recommender was, they rushed to get the book, pushing it up from below 200,000th to 21st on the Amazon list in just 3 days.

The person providing the favourable book critic was none other than Osama bin Laden, yes, the Kahuna himself! This was he said on a Thursday that led to William Blum’s book being purchased like hot cakes on Sunday:

If you (Americans) are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you. And if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book ‘Rogue State’, which states in its introduction: “If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all."
my underlining

William Blum said that he was surprised and shocked but amused by the al-Qaeda leader's recommendation, but he admitted he won’t pretend to be repulsed or displeased by an Osama endorsement. He said: "I was not turned off by the endorsement. I'm not repulsed and I am not going to pretend I am."

And when KTemoc publishes his first book, he sure knows who to enlist to endorse his book!

book image from Amazon.com

Humpty Dumpty blasted King Sabo

Trust ole Humpty Dumpty to fire one mighty broadside on King Sabo.

He virtually thumbed his nose at the latter by asking:

"Who is he? Who is Kayveas to tell us what to do? He is not even a minister. That is his problem. He is not even in the Cabinet. We are full ministers and we have direct access to the Prime Minister. If Kayveas wants to be a minister, ask him to see the Prime Minister and ask him to be made a minister. No one has to advise us on what to do except the Prime Minister."

Ayoyo, tambi. Your aneh has given you the ultimate insult. It must have really hurt for Kayveas to be reminded he’s not even a minister. Ole Humpty had not only stabbed the knife in deep beneath King Sabo's 5th rib but twisted the knife real good and proper as well.

Kayveas has not lacked in his efforts to shore up his own position and revitalise his virtually one-man PPP. He had made several strenuous and sometimes silly attempts to be noticed. Calling for the Gang of 9 to resign en bloc when the PM had already closed the matter with all UMNO ministers helping to cool down the situation has been one such desperate attempt which certainly won't endear him to the other parties including UMNO.

Of course, apart from trying to be clever by half, he has been peeved that the MIC, MCA and Gerakan had overlooked him in the memorandum affair.

He has made noises here and there, but generally his BN colleagues had ignored him. He realises he’s just small fry, and unless he continues to makes himself noticed, even in a backbiting and annoying way, he and the PPP will eventually disappear into the void.

The PPP of its glorious years was of course so different from what it has become today, a very minor and sometimes easily forgotten member of the Barisan Nasional. When the Seenivasegam brothers were in charge, they were the ‘Kings’ of Ipoh, politically unbeatable, untouchable and totally invincible. In this, many of the veteran PPP members must be wishing for the good ole days, which unfortunately they had completely forfeited themselves from, when their party joined the Barisan Nasional.

I dare say that PM Abdullah Badawi must be wishing secretly the PPP would do the obliging step and commit political seppuku or at least make itself disappear into thin air. In each pre-election, the PPP stood out like a sore thumb for Badawi and previously, Mahathir, when it came to the difficult task of distributing the seats among the major players. They must have found that trying to factor in the PPP was an annoying nuisance. The last election saw Kayveas throwing a tantrum when he was thrown an iffy constituency.

Unfortunately Badawi couldn't expel or openly ignore the PPP as that might send a wrong and worrying message to the other coalition members. He had to accommodate the PPP as best as he possibly could tolerate the frantic antics of Kayveas, who unfortunately for Badawi has not been exactly the sort of bloke anyone could easily silence.

The PPP of yore was very similar in ideology to the DAP. Maybe those older members would be better off joining the DAP. But if they wish to remain within the Barisan nasional, then there's always the MCA, Gerakan and indeed the MIC. The reality for the PPP is that today it has become a nothing party. In a way I must take my hat off to Kayveas for attempting to make the PPP still relevant. It's a futile effort but he now has more reason than ever to keep trying as he won't be very welcomed anywhere.

Just think, that at one time some political observers suggested Humpty Dumpty might have considered him as a possible deputy in the MIC to replace Subramaniam. Well, Kayveas has certainly burned that particular bridge.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Nyonya Tahir to be buried as Buddhist!

The Syariah High Court has declared Nyonya Tahir a non-Muslim. Her children can now bury her in accordance with Buddhist rites.

Her death caused some confusion because her IC carried her Malay name and her religion as Islam, even though her son said her Chinese name was Wong Ah Kiu. They tried to have her IC changed in 1986 to reflect that but the National Registration Depattment rejected their application.

Before issuing the court's order for Nyonya Tahir's body to be released back to her family, Judge Mohd Shukor of the Syariah High Court quoted from the tale of Sheikh Abu Sujak in the Book of Kifayatul Akhyar:

"Barang siapa yang keluar daripada Islam, ia diminta bertaubat tiga kali. Jika bertaubat, dan jika tidak, dia dibunuh, dan tidak boleh dimandikan, tidak boleh disembahyangkan dan tidak boleh dikuburkan di perkuburan orang Islam".

I'll give my best attempt at translating the above - if incorrect, my apologies, and can a reader who's fluent please advise. Thanks:

"Whoever leaves the fold of Islam, that person will be asked to repent 3 times. Whether that person repents or doesn't, that person is to be killed, and not to be bathed (or washed), nor prayed for, nor buried in a Muslim cemetary."

It's just as well Nyonya Tahir has passed away peacefully at the age of 89, surrounded by her loving family. Omi Tofu!

Related:
Where to bury Nyonya Tahir?

Secrets of Ang Pows

Clara Chooi of the Star Online has written an informative piece on ang pows (red packets) or as Americans termed them, lucky money that Chinese give on auspicious occasions like weddings, birthdays, etc. On those occasions, only the principal actors, namely the bride & groom, and birthday girl/boy, get the red packets. However, on Chinese New Year, everyone who isn’t married gets one or more from parents, senior relatives and friends. The gift of an ang pow symbolises the wishing of good luck and prosperity for the recipient.

As long as one isn’t married, one may expect to receive ang pows regardless of age. Mind you, some Chinese community like the Sin-Nins (or T'oi Sarn) would still give ang pows to recently married couples but just for their 1st year of marriage. I suspect it may be a form of easing them into the frightening and 'expensive' world of ang pow givers ;-)

The valid period for giving and receiving ang pows is, fortunately for the delighted kids [and terrifying for the givers], a lengthy 15 days, starting from the New Moon to the Full Moon of the new lunar calendar. Newly married couples would find themselves propelled, either willingly or otherwise, into playing financial Santa Claus’s.

The ang pow giving period would set them financially back somewhat, well, at least until they have children of their own to ‘retaliate’ and recoup some expenses back. Then when those children grow up and also wise-up not to let mum ‘keep the money for them’ anymore, those pitiful couple would again lose their recouping powers.

Usually the women would be the ones giving out the ang pows while their husbands look as if they don’t have any clue what’s going on, or more probably, how much cash to put in the red packets.

Deciding how much to place in an ang pow is an arcane art that only a woman with kids of her own can work out. Whether someone's kids deserve x, y or z dollars are either pre-planned or worked out ad hoc by the computerised calculator inside her head. She would factor in considerations such as how much she likes the kids (eg. like lovable KTemoc), how much the kid's parents had given to her own children, the importance or family hierarchical position of the the kid's parents, 'face', and various secrets that most men prefer not to know.

There’s favouritism involved too because as a kid I discovered I received less than my sister from the same auntie – yeah, that meanie, I never did like her anyway. As those ladies dole out the gifts, they would wish the recipients 'good luck', or 'study well and get good grades", or just 'be prosperous'.

As a kid, I naturally love ang pows, but when I passed the age of 20-ish I was terribly reluctant to accept any, and in fact attempted to avoid situations where I would most likely receive them, not because I wasn’t needy of the extra cash ;-) but I truly dread the wishes that accompanied the ang pows.

For poor KTemoc, all my aunties and Mum’s close friends would push ang pows into my reluctant hands or shirt pocket, look at me mischievously and wish for me to marry a good wife. T’was a bloody hint as well. They would follow that up smoothly with some recommendations of so-and-so’s daughters, who were all damn beautiful, excellent cooks, quiet and demure (didn't they realise I wanted hot wild babes?), all with a BA - aiyah from Cambridge University lah - or MSc from University of NSW etc, with cars of their own, blah blah blah – meat market advertising stuff.

I would usually keep very still and silent so as not to encourage them but wear a weak smile in order not to appear rude, while Mum would look on hopefully and egg on those busybody aunties who just couldn’t stand the thought of KTemoc being a carefree bachelor.

While I would sit very still in the hope I won’t attract any more attention, and that maybe they would go away and play their mahjong, they would start to dissect and discuss me as if I wasn’t around. They would trash open my characteristics and qualities into minute details, analyse my needs (for and of a suitable wife) into micron-ic specifications, etc, but with mum providing all my bad points (me? bad points? sheesh, mum!).

Terrifying! And once I even received an ang pow with a name plus a phone number written on a red piece of paper - oh, those devious aunties!

Clara Chooi said “It is considered rude to open an ang pow publicly to check or reveal its contents, because the recipient would appear greedy for money, and secondly, it may embarrass the giver if the sum is small.”

My dear Clara, there’s no necessity to open the packets. Kids will do what I and several million other kids did – we would just feel the packets and silently categorise the giver as either a cheap skate or an AOK type of lady!

But Clara is incorrect to say that an odd figure in the red packet is to be avoided as it is taboo. That might have been the case in earlier years, but the trend for the last twenty years has been to give an odd figure like, say 10 ringgit plus 10 cents - make that RM100 if you like, but you better hope you don’t have 50 nephews and nieces - or, another typical combination, RM 11.

The extra 10 cents or extra 1 ringgit on top of the round figure of, say RM 10, in the ang pows symbolises ch’oot t’au, a Hokkien term meaning to ‘exceed'. The implied wish is for the recipient to have assets, achievements, luck, fortune, cash, whatever, that exceed his or her needs. In other words, it's like wishing someone "Here's wishing you will have everything you want and more."

My favourite auntie frowned half-heartedly before she broke into a wicked mischievous smile when I teased her whether her ‘exceed’ wish for me applied to how many girlfriends I could have (at the same time?).

ang pow pictures from Chinese Cuisine and Party America

Iran's Billions - Whither goeth those beauts?

Because of Iran's refusal to curtail its nuclear program, an activity very much opposed by the West, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council realises that a Western-led sanction may be imminent. Iran is also aware that parallel with sanction, its assets in the West, especially the USA, will be frozen. It had suffered such a US freeze of its monies in 1979 after diplomatic relationship between the two nations collapsed.

So this time Iran intends to avoid that. The Supreme Council has ordered its assets moved to Asia.

As the 4th biggest oil exporter in the world and the second largest in OPEC, and oil prices being at its best for years, it’s cash rich, and bankers throughout the world are drooling. In a period of just 3 months, it has been forecast that Iran will have earned more than US$40 billion in oil revenues. The current astronomical oil price rise has been due to a number of uncertainties, namely the violence in Nigeria and associated industrial actions, al Qaeda ominous threat against the USA, and Iran's own reduction of oil production.

Iran’s trade and financing arm of the National Iranian Oil Company, is based in Switzerland. How terrifying it must be for Swiss bankers to hear and, worse, visualize all the Iranian cash deposited there being shipped to Asia. It's not always one sees Swiss bankers displaying any emotion, but if Iran does move her assets to Asia, mein Gott, those bankers will be paraphrasing Matthew 13:49-50

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked Swiss from among the just Iranian money, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I bet there will certainly be much 'wailing and gnashing of teeth' in Zurich should the transfer of Iran's assets occur. So a leading Swiss financial industry representative has quickly assured Iran that Swiss banks would welcome asset transfers by Iran. He said:

"If you're talking in terms of a safe haven proposal, that's where Switzerland is very strong, stronger than Singapore or other places. We are a country that is non-judgmental. Because of its non-discriminatory practices, Switzerland has always been an attractive place and would remain an attractive proposal for Iranian authorities looking to shift some of their assets or to diversify the geographical distribution of some of their assets."

my bold-ing & underlining

Indeed Swiss bankers don’t give a damn who they do business with, as we have been aware, including Nazis during WWII. Switzerland is the most favourite spot for depositing offshore wealth, because Swiss political neutrality and legal guarantees of its banking privacy are virtual assurances of no political interference and no political filching by the global village bully, as had happened to Iraq's offshore assets.

But why do those Swiss bankers imagine it’ll be our neighbour, Singapore who'll be the likely receipient of Iran's wealth shifted to Asia? Iran knows as we do that the Island nation is such a staunch ally of the USA that it will in all probability freeze Iran’s assets on the instructions of the Americans. Another of Asia's financial centres is Japan, also a very staunch US ally, which should void its suitability as a candidate. The other Asian financial centres are of course Hong Kong and our very own Labuan.

But will the Iranians trust us? Afterall, our banks don’t have an unblemished record. Our Islamic Bank has just lost 700 million, and then there were naughty Bank Bumiputra, Bank Rakyat, and even a Central Bank that was reputed to fiddle, unsuccessfully, with money speculation.

I could of course help by providing Iran Supreme National Security Council with my bank account number. I would rather that, mind you just as a samaritan to Iran's predicament, than give it to those several dozens Nigerian bankers who all insist on making me an instant millionaire because their father (same one?), the late President, left so many millions which they themselves couldn't get it out of Nigeria, but only honest KTemoc could ;-)

Where to bury Nyonya Tahir?

In Tampin, Negeri Sembilan, Nyonya Tahir passed away peacefully on Thursday aged 89. But her burial may yet present a situation less peaceful for her children.

According to her children, Nyonya Tahir left the Muslim faith some decades ago. They produced a document from the Alor Gajah Islamic Religious Office and Mahkamah Kadi, signed long before Article 121(1)(A) came into being, that stated Nyonya Tahir had lived as a Chinese and wanted to be buried as one. Furthermore, she declared she didn’t want to return to the Muslim faith.

Unlike the late M Moorthy, Nyonya Tahir had wisely made a written declaration to that effect. In her declaration, Nyonya, who was born in 1918, said that since her mother's death, she had been raised by her grandmother, who was a Malay married to a Chinese convert.

As a kid, she was raised as a Chinese and at the sweet age of 18, married Chiang Meng. They had 13 children who were all registered and lived as Chinese. Her husband didn’t embrace Islam. Being a wife of yonder era, she followed the ways of hubby and lived as a non-Muslim Chinese.

Nyonya had made the declaration in Hokkien (now, translated into Malay), which bears the signature of Chong Yong Mok, a Commissioner for Oaths in Malacca, and Nyonya's right thumb print.

Nyonya Tahir left instructions that she wanted to be buried according to Buddhist rites.

But Mustafa Abdul Rahman, Islamic Development Department director-general, said that, despite claims in the form of a witnessed declaration, her children must wait until the Syariah High Court has decided whether to accept the declaration as well as the document claimed to have been produced by Alor Gajah Islamic Religious Office and Mahkamah Kadi twenty years ago.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

King Sabo

PM Ahmad Abdullah Badawi stated that with the withdrawal of the offending memo by the 9 non-Muslim Ministers, as far as he was concerned, the issue has been resolved and that there shouldn’t be any more grounds for debate or quarrel:

His deputy, Najib said: “Although their intention was noble, it could lead to a wrong interpretation. At Cabinet meetings, our non-Muslim colleagues can give their views on matters affecting their communities. Alternatively, they can meet or write to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. By adopting these methods, we can avoid negative perceptions or misinterpretation among the public."

Noble! Wow!

[mind you, this was from the MCA's Star Online, so take it with a pinch of salt]

Looks like all have been forgiven, though not if PAS can help it.

But wait …….. someone is not happy and doesn’t want the matter closed. In fact, this bloke wants the 9 Ministers who signed the memorandum to resign from the Cabinet. And it’s not PAS or any UMNO ultras!

Guess who?

It’s none other than Kayveas, boss of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). Yes, sir, it's that Kayveas again.

For a start, he’s really really pretty pissed off that the PPP was not consulted nor part of the 9 signatories. Of course when asked whether that upset him, Kayveas must have shouted “Negative!” though he admitted: “The ministers also did not ask PPP’s stand on this.”

And with that, he had no other choice than to follow up with “I disagree with the ministers submitting the memorandum to the Prime Minister.”

Yes, poor Kayveas would be damn insulted that the MCA, Gerakan, MIC had considered him too small a fry to be included in the Memorandum Gang of 9. I bet he must be still fuming privately that he wasn't recruited as No 10.

But he’s a bit unwise asking for them to be sacked because his Taiping seat is very much dependent on Gerakan’s goodwill and support. If we remember, in the last election, he was crying out loud that the other parties had ignored and not helped his campaign. Showing childish tantrum against Lim Keng Yaik may be foolish if he wants to retain his Taiping seat.

PAS took a leaf out of UMNO's book

The hullabaloo over the memorandum submitted by 9 non-Muslim Ministers to the Prime Minister, now withdrawn, has actually been one fought between UMNO and PAS, with those 9 Ministers sandwiched in between.

I don’t normally give credit to UMNO but I believe the majority of UMNO Ministers including the PM have been reasonably fair on recent issues related to Islam or Muslims. While the burial of the later M Moorthy is unlikely to be reversed due to immense religious sensitivity and ‘face’, there have been conciliatory statements from a number of UMNO Ministers, which have led the 9 non-Muslim Ministers into believing a formal lodging of their constituencies’ grave concerns might just be opportune.

But PAS, so dependent on the Muslim constituency decided to launch a pre-emptive strike on UMNO – instead of waiting till the next election to raise what they perceived as UMNO’s less than Islamic policies, like the conciliatory statements on M Moorthy’s case, the PM’s assurance that sub-clauses relating to religious conversion could be reviewed, the holding back of implementation of the passed Islamic Family legislation, and horror of horrors, the Cabinet’s instruction to disband the snooping Taliban-ish vigilantes.

PAS wants to present itself as the Islamic hero, stemming back the tide of non-Muslim hordes at the gates, that have been poorly manned by UMNO.

So PAS took a leaf out of UMNO’s book, used to threaten other ethnic groups never to question the rights of Malays, by flipping to the page on Islam. It then organised a protest rally to, get this, support PM Badawi against any tampering of Article 121(1)(A) and even managed to pull some PKR and UMNO members in to join the Islamic Party’s rally, using the alleged threat poised by those non-Muslim Ministers against Islamic supremacy as the motive.

That put UMNO on the back foot and the result was predictable. An orchestrated UMNO campaign against the ‘inappropriateness’ of the memorandum was escalated until the PM emerged victorious with the 9 Ministers required to withdraw the memo.

Muslim and UMNO pride have been restored, even more so when a cringing Gerakan Lim Keng Yaik thought he would salvage something out of the face-losing withdrawal of the memo by fawningly saying “I only listen to the advice of my PM, we now only listen to the advice to our PM because we have every respect for him”. Instead he ended up looking like an obsequious sycophant.

But PAS Husam Musa didn’t let the PM escaped, stating that it’s all the PM’s faults. Afterall, the sanctity of Article 121(1)(A) wasn’t PAS’ real objective – it wanted UMNO’s and in particular, Ahmad Abdullah Badawi’s blood.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

PAS, non-Muslim Ministers & UMNO - an Article 121(1)(A) Ménage à Trois

UMNO members of the Cabinet, with the exception of Mak Cik Rafidah Azis, have been blowing hot and cold over the memo from 9 non-Muslim Ministers to the PM. The 9 Ministers have expressed concerns about Article 121(1)(A), and the civil courts reluctance to go near it, thus disadvantaging non-Muslims like the family of the late M Moorthy.

To put it plainly, the UMNO ministers are pissed off, well, at least publicly. They criticised the 9 Ministers for putting their concerns in a memo when a Cabinet discussion would be more appropriate.

I suspect a few factors have brought about the uproar. One had been the recent Cabinet decision not to allow the snoop squad proposed by the Federal Territory Religious Department. To now agree to the concerns of the 9 Ministers may just be too much to swallow within a spell of just 2 days. But I’ll just blog on another in this posting:

PAS has been putting pressure on UMNO, in particular Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi, by demanding that the Cabinet bloody well not tamper with Constitution Article 121(1)(A), and to hell with those non-Muslim Ministers.

PAS Youth Leader PAS Salahuddin Ayub declared that Article 121(1)(A) is enshrined in the Constitution which cannot be questioned, virtually conferring on it a near spiritual sacredness.

He has basically ignored the fact that said Article was inserted into the Constitution in 1988, long after the original Constitution came into being, with the sole purpose of plugging a legal loop hole that had allowed Malaysian Muslims to quit the religion and at the same time thumbed their noses at outraged imams, without fear of being labelled apostates.

And the man who had the Article inserted into the Constitution in one hell of a rush, because of a worried belief there could be a Muslim exodus, was none other than PAS’ bête noire, Dr Mahathir. Wouldn’t PAS members now be shocked to acknowledge the Islamic foresight of Dr Mahathir. Hmmm, that means he was not only a righteous Muslim leader of an Islamic nation but also a worthy President of the OIC. Eat that, PAS!

But wait, I have been wrong, PAS does know the former PM was the responsible bloke, because one PAS member, demonstrating in front of the SUHAKAM office, told Malaysiakini that this would not have happened under the rule of former PM Dr Mahathir. Naturally, he declined to be named or he might have been hauled up before a PAS party disciplinary committee for praising the good doctor. Well, well, well, that PAS bloke sure misses Dr Mahathir.

Up to this point, I quite understand PAS’ feelings while not necessarily agreeing with it. Hey man, it’s an Islamic Party so surely one needs to comprehend why the PAS members are rooting for Article 121(1)(A) to stay. It’s PAS religious conviction that Muslims must never be allowed to leave the religion, and, agree or disagree, we need to recognise their belief.

However, PAS Vice-President Muhammad Sabu went down the moral tube when he pronounced that national security could be imperilled by continuing debate over the case regarding deceased Everest hero M Moorthy. He stated ominously:

“There are certain quarters who are asking for Article 121(1)(A) to be amended. Doing so is not a challenge to the Syariah Court alone, but is a challenge to Muslims and our religion.”

I am disappointed by his descent into the political gutters. We had hoped that PAS in alliance with the opposition parties may yet be a credible supra-ethnic political party, never needing to resort to such mafia-rist threats. Was he so bankrupt of credible points that he had to perform the obligatory verbal keris-waving too, hitherto only an UMNO domain? However, he forgot to warn the non-Muslim Ministers not to stir the tebuan (hornets) nest, making him less competent in the art of threatening ethnic violence than some UMNO Ministers.

He asserted that Muslims had never infringed on the rights of non-Muslims, which of course many non-Muslims would immediately disagree, even if the M Moorthy case were to be excluded from the reckoning. But I don’t propose to dwell on those incidents.

This morning 5 of those 9 Ministers went to meet the PM to explain why they had submitted the memo. Now we have just received a Malaysiakini NEWS FLASH that tell us the non-Muslim ministers have agreed to retract their memo. It seems that the PM announced the embarrassing retreat by the 9 non-Muslim Ministers at a UMNO function a while ago.

I wonder whether the PM had rang PAS up to inform them of the good news?

Morals, Power, Dominance, Teachers, Victims!

Reader mahaguru58 lamented that while authorities rightfully want to curb the excesses that non practising Muslims indulge in, he reckons snooping is not the ideal approach because those people couldn’t care less, or they wouldn’t have indulged so in the first place.

I agree with him that there ought to be a limit to excessive behaviour, seemingly borrowed from a different culture and in some instances offensive to our own. But I believe that limit should be self-exercised, unless such behaviour intruded on the privacy of other citizens.

For example, I would be very annoyed if my neighbour, regardless of whether they are Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, etc, were bonking away in their garden without concealment from my eyes, or punishing my ears with their favourite heavy metal music on their stratoblasters.

That's when I would call upon the proper law officers such as the police, and not some frontier-type vigilante corp or posse, or even become a volunteer of such mobs.

mahaguru58 stated that any action by the volunteer squad must avoid any criminal actions. He reckons the best way would be to counsel rather than snoop and pounce upon the offending couples! Mate, you have my complete agreement.

In this he reckons that Malaysian authorities face a dilemma, as exemplified by the Malay saying of Ditelan mati emak, diluah mati bapak! (= between the Devil and the deep blue sea or ‘damn if they do, and damn if they don’t’). The authorities do want to curb what they have perceived as socially feral behaviour but are also aware that any action they adopt to stop such social rot, may be perceived in turn as equally feral, and thus Taliban-ish.

He bemoaned the lack of understanding by non-Muslims like KTemoc ;-) I accept his comments and criticisms, though I would declare that the criticisms have been misplaced. He (you aren’t a ‘she’, are you) has been wrong, because wishing to curb socially unacceptable behaviour is not the exclusive domain of Muslims.

What blokes and lassies like KTemoc, including many Muslims, don’t want to see are moral police as opposed to moral teachers or counsellors.

As I mentioned in my response to his comments, I believe that the shaping and guiding of youth's behaviour is the responsibility of, firstly, the parents. Then the next group, and sometimes the major force in this task, are the teachers, including the religious ones.

In a traditional Chinese community, the teacher is a very much revered and respected person. A headmaster is greeted with utmost deference by members of the community, and always addressed respectfully by his professional position even by senior citizens of the village, as 'Headmaster'.

Believe it or not, when parents encounter problems in controlling their naughty kids, they would seek the direct help of the Headmaster or teacher, and surrender the counselling or reprimanding of their children to them, because the children are more likely to listen to and obey the teachers.

The Chinese have a saying, that to morally educate young people is not unlike the art of espalier. One needs to do this when the plant (or youth) is young and thus pliable, and to conduct the espalier-ing in incremental bites, less one breaks the plant or its branches. Attempting to do this when the youth has grown up would by then be too late. The branch will break or the plant severely stressed and damaged. Therefore the parents and especially the teachers play a very enormously important role.

Then, the third groups would be the elders. These are the senior relatives, community leaders, religious teachers (imams, monks, priests) and trained counsellors, etc. Sometimes, sporting or entertainment heroes can fall into this group. In Australia, where sporting personalities are revered (yes, revered) many have been recruited into social campaigns, for example, those against violence perpetrated on women, on anti-smoking, to clean up Australia, etc. In America, movie stars are so co-opted. Even the UN appoints well-known personalities such as soccer legend Pele, Angela Jolie (I am sure you know who she is), etc as goodwill ambassadors.

Vigilante snoopers as those proposed by the Federal Territory Religious Department don't fall into any of these three respected categories. We have already witnessed how a supposedly trained Jawi behaved so badly in the Zouk nightclub raid. As I have observed and informed mahaguru58, some people just cannot handle power.

They feel a compulsive and sometimes addictive need to exercise that power. That's what occurred at the Zuok nightclub, where a campaign to curb or stop behaviour, viewed as un-Islamic, un-Malaysian or offensive to Asian values, denigrated into a disgraceful show of unfettered dominance by empowered officials. Instead of counselling those young (and supposedly) social degenerates, the Jawi officials exploited their position of power to humiliate and terrorise the victims.

This has been what occurred in police station such as the notorious nude ketuk ketumpi (ear-squats), or in the extreme criminal cases, rape. The common denominator is the unauthorised and uncontrolled exercise of power on unfortunate receipients - the power to dominate the victims, to make them do what the authority so desires, sometimes to stretch the exercise of power as much as the imagination permits - with the receipients being those apprehended by police, Immigration or Jawi, or in criminal cases, sexually abused and rape victims.

Volunteers are generally untrained, and to confer on them a misguided impression that they have powers, especially the powers of a religious sanctioned activity, would be asking for trouble.

Indeed, there is a crying need for volunteers to guide and counsel youths, but they should take the shape of NGOs, with the full awareness that they don’t have any legal powers to intrude on, threatened, harassed, order, or arrest anyone. That is the challenge not only for Muslims but for all Malaysians.

Brits to teach Mandarin to Malaysian?

One British school has predicted that China will overtake the USA as the new superpower in this century, and is not sitting idly around, waiting for that to happen.

It has started Chinese lessons for all its students. They would be taught Mandarin once a week. There is also a move to introduce Mandarin in other British schools. The Brits are obviously recognising the financial, trade and diplomatic advantage for their students having a good command of Mandarin, the language of a future super trading and political power.

Now which country was it that changed the teaching of Science and Maths in Mandarin to English in many of its schools? And for the wrong reason too!

Currently our standards of Mandarin are second to none, but with each successive ill-considered educational policy on the Chinese medium schools, it would not be inconceivable if one day we would once again lament a lost standards, as we have done so with regards to our lost standards of the English language.

Many may not have realised that once, Penang was the English and Mandarin language centre for SE Asia, where it enjoyed, and indeed benefitted from, playing host to Thai and Indonesian students who came to study both English and Mandarin.

Maybe some years from now Malaysia can recruit Mandarin teachers from Britain, as it had for English teachers.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Google says NO to Big Brother

The US government in the form of the Justice Department wants Google, the Internet search giant, to hand over search data, related to children accessing pornographic sites. It claims that the data is necessary for it to prevent children from visiting the undesirable adult-only websites, as its actions will be more effective than software filters.

Earlier the US Supreme Court had said no to a 1998 law that placed the onus on adult-only websites to check the ages of online visitors before granting them access. The Court said that law was so broad that it could deny adults legitimate access to such sites.

Alberto Gonzales, the US Attorney-General, decided that the other way around that overturned law was to obtain the search data directly from Google. He filed a legal motion to make Google hand over a week's worth of data on online searches by Internet users. Originally his department had asked for 6 months’ worth of data.

Google told the US Justice Department to bugger off, saying it intends to resist their motion vigorously. Google stores user information in a single tracking ’cookie’ that could hold personal data, which if released to the US government, could lead to a typical Big Brother situation.
Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum supported Google’s stand, saying:

"If Google loses this, what is to stop the US government from making constant requests for all sorts of things, such as searches on terrorism or any company they are investigating? Google could become the greatest research tool for the government that anyone ever envisioned. I certainly don't blame Google for fighting this."

Beth Givens, director of the non-profit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse in San Diego, California, said:

"These search engines are a very tempting target for government and law enforcement. Look at the millions of people who use search engines without thinking of the potential to be drawn into a government drag net."

However, Yahoo, another search giant had already complied with a similar subpoena, but claimed that it was only on a limited basis and did not provide any personally identifiable information.

So, watch it, because next time you search for stuff like 'how to make a nuclear bomb' together with 'contacts for Osama bin Laden', your name could well be with Big Brother, like mine probably is ;-)

Osama bin Laden offers truce to USA

photo from Sydney Morning Herald

In a move that copied the classic strategy of Vietnam in ‘attacking’ the American ’centre of gravity’, namely her people, Osama bin Laden has delivered his latest message directly to ordinary Americans.

Osama did what the Vietnamese had done successfully – ‘persuading’ the American people that al Qaeda understands the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been supported by them, and would only benefit the industrial-military complex that President Eisenhower warned Americans against.

In a video-ed message broadcast on al Jazeera, he did the ‘stick & carrot’ thing, and said al Qaeda is ready to launch an attack on American soil soon, but would rather prefer a ‘truce’ with the American people.

The Americans lost the war in Vietnam because her public didn’t want the conflict to continue after 55,000 Americans had perished in a decade long war, that saw no direct benefit for American interests. A nation requires 5 important factors to be able to wage war, with the will of its people being one of them. Apart from fighting the Americans and her allies in a real war in their country, the Vietnamese strategists also targeted American opinion, very successfully, to persuade them not to support a hopeless war.

Osama must have sensed that the American public is growing weary of a losing war in Iraq, where American lives had been lost needlessly in a mission that was based on a pack of lies – no WMD, no al Qaeda link. The last desperate argument of the Bush Administration of regime change only saw Saddam Hussein being removed for other equally ruthless dictators.

The CIA has confirmed that it is Osama’s voice in the broadcast, which means he is still alive. However, the White House has rejected his offer of truce. Well, I certainly don’t expect the Bush Administration to openly accept the offer, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be secret talks starting from now.

I believe Osama has cleverly played the Vietnam-style strategy at the correct time to further weaken an already faltering support of the American people for Bush.

Cabinet Blinded Jawi's Peeping Toms, but ...

I am going to give credit where credit is due, and I take my hat off to Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi for his decision to slam-dunk the so-called religious snoopers or Jawi peeping Toms.

Syabas (well done!), PM!

The PM led the Cabinet into ordering the Federal Territory Religious Department to cease and desist with its plans to have snoop teams peeping on Muslims. Their proposed action of peeping, prying and poking would be an invasion of privacy.

He further stated that it would be Cabinet's official policy to deny any such proposals in the future or in any State, considering the Cabinet had already told Mohd Ali Rustam, Malacca's Chief Minister, to bugger off with a similar proposal last year. The Cabinet (unanimous?) was determined that no group would ever be permitted to spy on people on so-called religious moral grounds.

Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department revealed that the Cabinet ministers have been pissed off with the nerve of some clown(s) in forming such a sneaky, shameless, sinister, scungy, snooping squad right under their noses. Then, he sneaked in a credit for Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir for raising the matter at the Cabinet meeting. I thought Minister Nazri Aziz was the first to raise the alarm, though not necessarily in the Cabinet.

OK, KTemoc smells something going on, like a wayang kulit (shadow play) in Radzi's statements, because Radzi followed up with a comment that another minister in the Prime Minister’s Department - how many are there? - Dr Abdullah Zin, supposedly the bloke oversighting all matters Islamic including the notorious Jawi, was unfortunately absent, and thus wasn’t there to catch the bloody flak. I am just putting my own KTemoc-ish words to describe what the Star Online and al Jazeera reported.

Radzi said it’s nothing more than a blooming lame excuse for Jawi to suggest such a group could assist in disaster (in fact they would be the disaster!) or provide other assistance. I would suggest to Radzi to use the expression ‘What a crock of shit!’ rather than ‘lame excuse’. It’s more precise, forceful and effective.

But to KTemoc, it sounded like an UMNO internal manoeuvre already in execution. I detect the advertisement of ‘hey, this bloke is good, that bloke is not good, blah blah blah!’ in Minister Radzi’s briefing.

One would imagine by now that the Imam group of UMNO (Minister Dr Abdullah Zin?) has lost this round. But hang on a ding dong minute ........

Oh oh oh! it seems not so, yet! Jawi has come back defiantly, yes DEFIANTLY, against a Cabinet instruction for it to disband the snooping peeping Toms.

Jawi said it still intends to go ahead with its snoop squad, notwithstanding the Cabinet's decision. Jawi public relations officer Idris Hussein said it had not enjoyed the opportunity to explain to the Government its intention for the snoop squad formation, so presumably the Cabinet order doesn't count. It will proceed with its original intention. Wow!

It defiantly said that it will wait for its own Minister, Dr Abdullah Zin to return from Mecca to brief him on the matter. Presumably Jawi would only take instructions from Dr Zin.

Looks like the mullahs don’t comprehend that insofar as government bureaucracies go in a democracy, the Cabinet is the highest policy making body in the nation. But then, one must excuse them for not appreciating this democratic concept of government where a Cabinet decision must be obeyed by all government bureaucracies including and especially Jawi.

One must understand they may not even realise that their Minister Dr Zin is subordinated to the Cabinet decision, and that he is not an independent all powerful religious policy-making personality.

Jawi's defiant stand against a Cabinet instruction does provide us with a frightening glimpse of a mindset that hinted they would only obey the decision of a theocratic government where the highest mullah determines what ought to be done or not done, and not some bloody blokes, even if they are the democratically elected ministers of the Cabinet, or even the Prime Minister.

Hey, these guys may even believe that because Islamic affairs are so sensitive a subject, the Cabinet may be apprehensive about reprimanding them for their dismissive snub of a Cabinet policy instruction.

I really want to see how the PM will handle this MUTINOUS defiance.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Schapelle Corby - Truly Bad Feng Shui

I feel truly sorry for this woman.

Schapelle Corby was convicted of drug smuggling when she was caught with 4.2 kg of marijuana at Bali airport. Her defence team was overall a classic model of disgraceful incompetency.

In tandem with her pathetic defence, the more sensationalising rating-seeking Australian media whipped Australians up into redneck behaviour against Indonesia, which didn’t help her case in the least. TV stations and radio jocks came up with idiotic accusations, insults, arguments, unbelievable theories, and grandstanding and provocative interactive shows.

Basically the image conveyed was that of an innocent Schapelle Corby framed by unscrupulous drug pushers. Then, for those diehard Aussies, who harboured an obsessive fear of their northern neighbour, there was an ugly Indonesia with dodgy laws, a rapacious foreign ogre licking its salivating jowls, ready to chomp up Australia’s white virgin princess. Corby was painted up as the most innocent lily-white sweet little girl, framed and besieged by the forces of evil.

The antics and misconduct of some of the easily provoked rednecks would have truly insulted Indonesia, when commonsense would have dictated that the unspoken rule in any court case must be for the supporters of the defence never to insult the judges who’s determining the guilt of the accused.

To cut the story short, she received 20 years – if you are interest in her case, see my previous postings on her. Subsequently the sentence was reduced to 15. But now, we learned that the Indonesian courts have reinstated the 20 years sentence following a prosecution appeal.

It’s KTemoc’s theory that her original 20 years sentence was the optimum compromise to satisfy the Indonesian factor of ‘face’. Indonesia didn't want the Australian government to lose face should Corby receive the death sentence, because of extremely generous Australian aid for Indonesian tsunami victims and the reconstruction of the devastated areas – worth Aus $1 billion. Neither did Indonesia herself wanted to lose face by being seen as going easy on a white Australian woman.

To be fair, Corby was bloody lucky to get 20 years. For the amount of marijuana she was caught with, 4.2 kg, a death sentence would not be unexpected. I dare say Indonesia’s sense of gratitude to Australia’s very generous help during Indonesia’s moment of need was a hugh influencing factor in behind-the-scene amelioration of her sentence. Obviously, such stuff could never be stated.

In fact I had even anticipated her sentence to be further reduced on each Indonesian auspicious occasions [eg. National Day celebrations], when the President traditionally would grant partial clemency to convicts by reducing their sentences. I had predicted that Corby would complete her sentence in, say, 6 to 7 years time, when she would then be released to return to Australia.

But something adverse happened since then, for the Indonesian authorities to reinstate her original sentence. While I am not suggesting the gravity of her crime didn’t deserve 20 years, I am just taken aback by a harsher Indonesian verdict on the appeal, though in retrospect not entirely shocked - I'll explain why in a moment. Poor Schapelle Corby must now suffer the terribly demoralising and heart-breaking reinstated sentence.

I wonder just how much of her bad luck has been due to another case involving Michelle Leslie, an Aussie woman as well. In that latter case, the Indonesian judges, prosecutor and police were accused of corruption when Leslie received a relatively light sentence that was already completed by the time the sentence was handed down.

It's not so much Leslie didn't merit a light sentence [in fact she did - afterall she just had a couple of ecstacy pills for personal use]. It's that the 3 judges have a scary record of handing down very severe sentences for drug cases, so Indonesian legal observers thought that the very lenient verdict for Michelle Leslie was inconsistent with their honours’ usual stern and harsh judgements, and thus, pretty dodgy. It also didn’t help that the judges’ oral judgements were perceived as unusually supportive of and sympathetic to the accused. The rumours were that as much as Aus $400,000 changed hands.

The Indonesian authorities was so embarrassed at the talk of bribery that it swiftly set up a Judicial Commission to investigate the decisions of the three sentencing judges. The Commission wanted to know why the sentence for Michelle Leslie had been so lenient. Eventually it cleared those judges of any impropriety. I won’t comment any further on this.

Could it be, because of the alleged bribery in Michelle Leslie's case, the Indonesian legal pendulum has now swung to the harsh end to prove a point, one of national pride hellbent on recovering its legal integrity and legitimacy, but with poor Corby getting the short end of a stick meant for someone else?

Note:
I have some 50 postings on the Schapelle Corby case, most of them in May and June 2005 - see my Archives, but I have selected 5 of the earlier ones to provide those who aren’t familiar with her case with a feel of how the media frenzy had done her situation much harm.

Related:
(1) Unhelpful Extra-Legal Support for Schapelle Corby
(2)Schapelle Corby - A Study in Unhelpful Media Frenzy
(3) Young, White, Pretty and has Big Boobs

(4) Schapelle Corby Case - Further Observations
(5) Schapelle Corby Case - Hell Paved with Good Intentions