Wednesday, November 30, 2005
He must have felt that I was getting at the Royal Malaysian Police, and 'suggested' that the next time my house is robbed or I have a road accident, I should report the incident to the DAP or the Chinese government.
His annoyance with me is not unique as I witnessed on other blogs such comments rejecting criticism of the police abuse by the supporters of the law enforcers.
I pose a few questions for Ali, namely:
(1) Are police public servants or our caste superiors?
(2) Are police beyond criticism by a member of the public?
(3) Are shameful police abuses to be tolerated, with the public closing an eye to their crimes?
(4) Should a Malaysian citizen in Malaysia report crimes or accidents to the Chinese government, a foreign entity? And why do you suggest this?
(5) What's wrong with a Malaysian citizen taking his or her problems to the DAP, a Malaysian political party? Afterall, nowadays, many do, and we should wonder why?
Think about these questions, answer them if you wish and I'll continue soon ........
It said that, "in Abu Ghraib, the victims were alleged prisoners of war, thus the brutality there had its roots in the hostility of the battlefield. But at the Malaysian police station, the subjects of abuse were four innocent female Chinese nationals, holding valid travel documents issued by governments of both countries."
"All sensible minds cannot but be shocked by the images showing a female compatriot of ours being forced to perform ear-squats naked by a Malaysian policewoman in uniform. No excuse can justify brutality of such magnitude."
Maybe there was innate hostility?
The newspaper said that, while recognizing the decades old friendship between the governments of China and Malaysia, it feels that this relationship is not just about the state of amicability between governments. The friendship will be very much dependent upon cordial relationships between the peoples.
While it is within the powers of governments to accept or disallow tourists and other visitors from specific countries, ultimately it is up to the tourists themselves to decide where to go when they embark on overseas trips.
The Chinese reckons Malaysia has been a popular tourist destination UNTIL very recently. This change of attitude has been reflected in an approximate 48% between January and August from the same period last year. The Malaysian worse-than-Abu Ghraib abuse will ensure the continued downward trend in Chinese tourism to Malaysia.
Even though the Malaysian immigration has simplified entry procedures for Chinese tourists, the tourist lack of confidence in Malaysia has more to do with concerns of safety and human dignity.
For the trend to reverse for the better, the Chinese wants to see real credible changes, and not just talk, or just assurances from the country’s ministers which may not be supported by the country’s bureaucratic officials.
The Daily reckons the Chinese tourists will no longer risk their safety or indeed their dignity in a country that does not respect them, or assure with credibility that they won’t be abused.
It remarked pointedly that judging by the remarks of a deputy internal security minister (guess who!), whose ministry oversees the Malaysian police, the Chinese are NOT convinced that their dignity and safety can be safeguarded.
If Malaysian police officers had been ‘following regulations’, as claimed by the minister, in their abuse of Chinese women by making them strip in police station, then how can Chinese believe what the Malaysian prime minister has promised.
The newspaper sarcastically continued by questioning whether Malaysian law endorses such a practice. If it does, it remarked that the Chinese embassy in Malaysia should make it known to Chinese citizens before they step into Malaysia.
The China Daily then posed a challenge to the Malaysian foreign minister who said that there was no intention on the part of his government to victimize any Chinese national or any foreign visitor to the country. It declared “That should not only be said, but also be felt by all those visiting his country.”
The China Daily reported that the Chinese Foreign Ministry have “made many representations to local authorities” and have “urged Malaysia yesterday to investigate and severely punish the troublemakers in several incidents alleging abuse of Chinese women while in police detention.”
Got that – “urged” which is pretty strong words in diplomacy, and “severely punish”, which doesn’t require explanation other than to remind us that this was already in diplomatic terms, so in real terms …..... yes, you guess it!
It acknowledged that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has apologised for the series of incidents relating to the humiliation of Chinese tourists by police in suburban Kuala Lumpur, and has also vowed no cover-up in investigating who had been responsible for the abuses.
This is the part that Malaysian media dare not or won’t print.
The Beijing Evening News quoted Ambassador Wang Chungui as saying that "apology alone is not enough. Those culprits in the abuse cases must be punished."
I don’t believe that China will accept the Deputy Inspector General claim that the person who took the video clip of the Abu Ghraib-ish abuse, as the culprit who had abused her citizen. Everyone knows it’s that policewoman in the video clip, and vicariously, her superiors, and for the other cases of abuse at the same station of horrors, other police personnel involved.
The Ambassador also urged the Malaysian Government to speed up the investigation and make public the results.
The Aussie government doesn't want the Nguyen case relit with spurious hope, because it dreads being cornered into a diplomatic predicament where it may be forced to lock horns with an ally and good trading partner over a drug trafficker. The Aussie government has rejected all legal advice that it had publicly solicited from law professors.
What Singh said to annoy Downer was that there may be just a chance, albeit a very slim one, the Singapore Government may grant Nguyen an 11th-hour reprieve from the gallows, and instead reduce his sentence to life.
I personally reckon there may be just a chance Singh has read too many American fiction, because unfortunately, the sad truth is that it won't happen.
Even Downer has made a request to Singapore, not about pardoning Nguyen, but to let Nguyen's mum give his son a final farewell hug. The current Singapore policy does not permit physical contact between condemned prisoner and family members. But the 'hug' request is a signal that the Aussie government has closed off all avenues to fight anymore for Nguyen's life.
Additionally it has been reported that Singh related some gruesome stories to a Reuters reporter, who quoted him saying "With me, they don't struggle. I know the real way. If it's a raw guy [hangman], they will struggle like chickens, like fish out of the water."
Singh, already 74 years old, has hanged more than 800 prisoners over 45 years, and assured everyone that Nguyen won’t suffer from the hanging if the hangman is skilled.
That sent Downer up the wall, as such news are likely to revolt more Australians into piling more political pressure on the Australian government to take up the execution issue with the Singaporeans again, and that's something he doesn't want as a Foreign Minister.
I read a book on the Nuremberg trial where those Nazis sentenced to the gallows died rather terrible deaths because the hangmen were just ordinary soldiers who didn’t have the skills to ensure swift and guaranteed deaths.
Then the plot thickens as Singh's sacking has now been denied by the Singapore Prison Department. The reporter claimed that borrowing a hangman from Malaysia would mean a serious loss of face for the Island nation. It seems a Singapore official has paid a 'quiet' visit to Singh, to tell him to shut up.
In an earlier report, Singh was quoted as saying he would miss the $400 he could have received for Nguyen's hanging, had he not been sacked, making him sound awefully like an old fashioned bounty hunter.
What I suspect is that Singh had indeed been sacked when his identity was revealed, and there was a loan of a hangman from Malaysia, but the reporter had exploited the 'retired' executioner for the macabre and the gruesome to whip up a horrifying story. Well, it does seem to have the desired effect because the news has put the political squeeze on Canberra, which must have made some frantic phone calls to the Singapore authority to re-employ him, perhaps just for this coming and highly sensitive execution on Friday dawn.
Under enormous pressure from its own public because of the unmitigated horror of a cold blooded execution, the Australian government probably wants Singh to be the one to hang Nguyen so that Australians could be consoled - if such a word could ever be used in this context - that the 'best' hangman in town will attend to Aussie Nguyen.
I am speculating of course but all the conflicting reports thus far could only lend themselves coherently to a scenario such as mine.
The reporter aslo mentioned that Singh believes in rebirth, and mentioning that Nguyen and others he had executed could be reborn as better people.
Well, in that case, Om Mani Padme Hum (Hail the jewel in the lotus) for Nguyen Tuong Van.
(1) Singapore Hangman Sacked!!!
(2) The Singapore Hangman
This time, according to Lim, the various UMNO factions are using the Malaysian Abu Ghraib scandal as an issue to hang up and display their ethnic credentials. There are more or less two camps, and the Prime Minister may not be completely in charge as it seems.
Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar leads the powerful pro-police resistance together with a number of ministers, and undoubtedly backed to the hilt by the police top brass.
Noh has projected himself as the Number One man in defending the police against complaints of abuses. He has taken on a non-negotiable stand in the Malaysian police Abu Ghraib scandal, declaring in the most arrogant and dismissive manner that the police actions had been in accordance with rules and regulations. He has basically declared that universally recognised forms of abuses are part and parcel of the Malaysian Police treatment for detainees.
He contemptuously told the media that foreign nationals, meaning the Chinese (and other previously abused ethnic groups), can go back to their countries if they think the Malaysian police are cruel. That should make him look good as a fiery ethnic hero.
He is obviously grandstanding to the Malay constituency to enhance his UMNO position, wanting to be seen as a strong resolute leader in asserting the sovereign right of Malaysia (or Malays) to do what it pleases, even to be cruel. He has virtually disregarded the issue of prescribed laws and human rights standards. I shudder to think of this bloke as a future Prime Minister.
To make matters worse, Rafidah Aziz, Minister for International Trade and Industry, averred with great confidence that the police abuse of the Chinese woman will not affect trade relations between Malaysia and China. As Lim Kit Siang said with dismay, this minister is a woman and yet fails miserably to defend the human rights of women and their right to dignity and respect for the human personality. Unlike several UMNO ministers, Rafidah has not condemn the Abu Ghraib-ish abuse.
The Abu Ghraib scandal has provided the backdrop for an internal UMNO Party struggle as some ambitious personalities like Noh assert their reputation as resolute Malay Warriors defending sovereign rights (but not human rights) while almost-has-been Rafidah attempts to rejuvenate her faltering image by being the lady Hang Tuah.
The original Hang Tuah, a chivalrous and chaste warrior, would have rolled in his grave at the very thoughts of these modern wannabes of him, as they discard human rights in place of personal interests.
Everyone wants to see what Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi will do. Will he steamroll ahead a la Dr Mahathir, or more likely as many suspect, water down the independent inquiry that he wants set up to probe the disgraceful police misconduct. It will be a reflection of his strength within the UMNO hierarchy.
She has lost weight and numbingly accepted the inevitability of her son's fate. Her spirit has been crushed. But there is more sorrow for her yet as she will have to collect her son’s corpse on Friday.
But the man facing the noose, according to friends, seems to be charged with revitalised energy, and has prepared himself for death.
The rest of the sad parting may be read here
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
However what have concerned me and many Malaysians have been the defiant statements of the DIGP, who is nothing more than a public servant. He cannot overruled his political boss, namely the PM or the Deputy PM, but he has. And he has done so publicly. I am shocked that the ministers haven't booted him out yet for a very serious political protocal faux pas. In a democracy if a civil servant contradicts his boss, an elected minister, he must resign or be sacked immediately.
Is this man so powerful that he seems to be thumbing his nose at the PM, Deputy PM and other ministers, without fear of any consequences? Indeed, up to now, there isn't any! Are the police so powerful that they have become a force unto themselves, that even the PM or DPM dare not reprimand the DIGP?
Unless the PM takes necessary actions to put this man in his proper place, we'll have trouble. I won't go further than this but you all can use your imagination and remember one of Mao's dictums.
Take Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and even Sungai Petani as examples - these townships have a greater congregation of Chinese Malaysians than in the rural districts. These are merely factors of history, business, family ties, land ownership (or lack of) etc.
Yet, strangely, when one looks at the personnel of the police force servicing those predominantly Chinese areas, there are hardly any Chinese cops. When I was a kid in Penang, there were a considerable number, even among the traffic police motor cyclists.
During the Emergency, when Malaysia was fighting against the communist insurgents, the Police Special Branch (SB) was staffed with Chinese Malaysians, because the enemy then was mainly Chinese. Those dedicated SB staff were instrumental in Malaysia coming on top of the Malayan Communist Party as a result of superior intelligence. I recall two police inspectors being awarded Malaysia’s highest gallantry award, the SP.
I wonder whether one can still see an ‘Ah Chong’ (Chinese Malaysian) in that department today.
I don’t believe in the old and oft-repeated excuse that Chinese do not want to join the Police Force or the Armed Forces – that’s sheer nonsense. Maybe they weren’t aware of the recruiting schedule, maybe they weren’t successful in their applications, or maybe they weren’t wanted. My neighbour’s son became a member of the Federal Reserve Unit while another served in the SB. A friend’s elder brother and uncle were in the CID.
As a kid, I wanted to be a cop but was stopped by my mother's tears (she played dirty). She was terrified of me becoming a member of the Police force because she feared that I could suffer the fate of one of my very senior uncles, a SB officer, who was assassinated by a terrorist.
In a pluralistic society like ours, it’s only commonsense that in an X-ethnic dominated village or town, we ought to have a majority or at least a decent number of the cops from the X-ethnic group serving the public, for reasons of language, understanding of ethnic culture, religious festivals and sensitivity, and a visual projection that the cops are not alien to the general population. And the wondertful part about Malaysians is we can provide a complete range of ethnic assets to deal with whatever ethnic special handling may be required.
The series of police scandals occurred in the Petaling Jaya station. Did the police station have one single Chinese policeman among its personnel in this urban suburb where many Chinese Malaysians domiciled?
He wrote a sarcastic piece on his web titled Would Dato' Seri Azmi bring back Chinese tourists by going to China? in relation to Malaysia's scandal of police abuse. He has also written other pieces on this subject.
In essence, Pillai stated there is a racist streak within the Malaysian police, unavoidable becaue the force is virtually staffed by only one race, Malays. He pointed out a notorious record of abusive aggression by the Malaysian law enforcer against various guest workers (of other ethnic groupings) in Malaysia, with the police criminal behaviour culminating in the exposé of the current Abu Ghraib-ish shame.
Pillai said that the police has always feel secure about their own invincibility because of protection from UMNO ministers, their liege lords to whom they owed their loyalty. It is only in the fact that Malaysia is more dependent upon China, than China to her, that the prime minister has initiated actions towards mollifying or at least satisfying the Chinese authorities that Malaysian police is not against or will be abusing their citizens.
One thing Pillai has forgotten to mention is that in 2 weeks time, there will be the East Asian Summit, an initiative of Malaysia that pivots around China's attendance and willing participation in any agreements or policies that may ensue from the Summit. This fact has shaken up the normally apathetic government attitude towards allegations of police brutality.
Acerbic and raw knuckled as he may be, Pillai articles have many gems of truth.
Malaysia’s Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) has been flabbergasted that the Malaysian police chiefs seemed totally indifferent to its own scandal that has the potential to bring about adverse diplomatic relationship between Malaysia and China.
In fact, there’s suggestion that the Chinese authorities probably postponed a visit by Malaysian Home Minister Azmi Khalid to Beijing on a damage control exercise, because of anger in China at the abuse of an ethnic Chinese women in a Malaysian jail. Minister Azmi refused to comment on the China-requested delay.
But renown Malaysian blogger Jeff Ooi posted further incidents of abuse against Chinese nationals by Malaysian officials. He asked succinctly “Have we opened up the pandora box?” alluding to the video-taped Abu Ghraib-ish abuse.
His question seems to tie in with my suspicion that the obduracy of the Deputy Internal Security Minister and Deputy IGP has more to do with the possibility of more as-yet unrevealed abuses by the police.
Lim Kit Siang reminded us any unhappy relationship between economically powerful China and Malaysia will have far-reaching consequences to Malaysia’s tourism, trade, economy and the country's international standing.
This has not been the first time that Chinese citizens had received the blunt end of so-called Malaysian hospitality. A few months ago 340 Chinese tourists visiting a Malaysian hill resort were insulted by 3 of the hotel staff. Those indisciplined staff drew caricatures of pigs on the back of the tourists’ breakfast vouchers. In Malaysia where the majority of its population belongs to the Islamic faith, the pig is considered by Muslims as a dirty and despised animal, thus the caricatures had been meant to insult the Chinese visitors in a degrading manner. The company was forced to apologise after the tourists raised a furor.
The ethnic profiling of female Chinese nationals has, on the surface, been attributed to a number of female Chinese visitors metamorphosing into prostitutes once they have slipped into Malaysia. Ethnic profiling of overseas visitors is not unusual as many of the better-off countries in the region, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, had once profiled Filipino female visitors in the same way. Today, post 9/11, western nations profile Middle-eastern visitors or people with Arabic or Islamic names.
The significant difference is the unusually high incidents of police abuse and intimidation perpetrated on the Chinese nationals. It's not all sex-related misconduct as there have been cases of extortion and illegal rifling of money from the detainees' handbags. There is a worried but growing perception that the abuses could be related to ethnic malice.
While Malaysian multi-ethnic society lives in a kind of conditional harmony, there have been inter-ethnic tensions from time to time. Other reasons for the profiled bullying of Chinese nationals could be due to their lack of language fluency and understanding of the legal system in Malaysia, hence making them easy prey.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Ahmad Abdullah Badawi has been very concerned about the diplomatic fallout. Even when he was at the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting in Malta (CHOGM) he called a special news conference to voice his demand an immediate ‘no cover up’ investigation. His deputy, Najib Abdul Razak has also promised that the matter will be dealt with expeditiously and those responsible will not be spared.
It is unfortunate that the Malaysian Abu Ghraib scandal came to light just two embarrassing weeks ahead of the East Asia Summit, which ironically is a Malaysian diplomatic initiative. The Summit will bring the 10 members of ASEAN together with China, Japan, India, Australia and South Korea and New Zealand. Needless to say, the economic primus inter pares is China. Malaysia definitely doesn’t want to annoy the new super economic power, and is attempting to limit the political fallout.
But as Lim Kit Siang pointed out, the police top brass and the Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar seem oblivious to the potential for an international tiff between Malaysia and China, something not to Malaysia’s strategic economic objectives and completely counterproductive to its initiative for the East Asian Summit. The Internal Security trio seem more concerned about battening down the police hatches to cover up the terrible police abuses, than genuinely taking actions to remedy the cancerous problems. The minister and the Deputy IGP have been in full denial mode while the IGP cannot be heard from.
Unfortunately for the diplomatic embarrassment, and indeed an unhappy public, Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi lends the impression that he won’t or can’t act decisively, or is moving too slowly. His passive style of leadership may be alright under normal circumstance but the scandal demands some immediate basic interim actions, like ordering the IGP, Deputy IGP (since he chose to put himself into the thick of it), the policewoman who ordered the ear-squats and her immediate line of supervisors to stand aside until the Prime Minister's independent inquiry is completed.
Standing aside is normal procedure for officials or even ministers who are deeply involved with or bear vicarious responsibility for a misconduct or seen to be so. This may provide the public with the required assurance that those officials won't be monkeying with the process of the independent inquiry. A sense of immediacy in a Prime Ministerial order for them to stand aside enhances the public confidence.
Even though there’s no headless chooks yet, which may please some monkeys, in the end, the current Abu Ghraib scandal demands some top heads to roll for a very shameful black page in Malaysia's law enforcement history.
Monday, November 28, 2005
PAS is the Malaysian Islamic Party, and the only opposition party to control one of the Malaysian States, Kelantan.
In the last election Pengkalan Pasir had around 18,000 voters and PAS won by just 55 votes. The Islamic Party must corner the Chinese votes, all 863 of them, to ensure a victory again. Though the Chinese votes represent only 4.69% of the electorate, the slim margin of the last victory has impressed upon PAS the importance of ‘every single vote’.
While by-elections are usually won by the opposition, the situation is a bit hazy in Pengkalan Pasir because one may ask ‘who is the opposition?’ In Malaysia, sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the federal or state governments. One shouldn’t be surprised that some Kelantanese PAS supporters may view themselves as the ‘opposition’ to their federal government nemesis, UMNO.
Usually, PAS won’t have a ghost of a chance getting any (non-Muslim) Chinese votes because of their political religious character. But in the fallout of the recent Malaysian Abu Ghraib police scandal, and the very poor handling by and perceived failure of the police chiefs in reassuring the public that stern action would be taken against the abuser, there may well be Chinese protest votes.
One may ask what has the mistreatment of female Chinese nationals have to do with a State by-election? There has been a growing swell of Chinese Malaysian frustration at the unaccountable misbehaviour of the Malaysian police. The unsatisfactory resolution of the local Abu Ghraib scandal demonstrates the arrogance and unaccountability of the police force.
If PAS plays its cards right, it can well capture most of the Chinese protest votes. Some opposition parties are already assessing the potential fallout benefits of the police scandal for their election prospects in 2008.
In doing so and to maintain his story, he hastily and recklessly exonerated the policewoman who did the Lynndie England on an unfortunate young Chinese national, ordering her to strip naked and perform ear squats. Instead the Deputy IGP provided a new target that he hopes may draw attention from the hardcore police abuses – sexual-oriented harassment, punishment or intimidation, on top of extortion, robbery and unlawful detention.
I have also mentioned in the previous posting Some Malaysian Policemen consider them as prey? that the abuse has been encouraged by some policemen’s perception that young female foreigners are easy meat, to exploit in terms of extortion or sexual gratification. Their principal targets seem to be young female Chinese nationals, most of whom are unfamiliar with the local language, English or the local legal system, and face difficulties reporting their complaints about experienced abuses in a foreign country like Malaysia. They are extremely vulnerable to the nefarious intent of our uniformed predators.
In fact, the abuse of Chinese women has gone too far that the normally reticent Chinese Ambassador has just inquired of the police about the recent rape of a 30-year old Chinese woman in a Klang hotel. Four men claiming to be police officers accosted the victim and then raped her in her room. Three were subsequently identified as air force personnel.
The woman had to seek the help of the hotel staff to report the rape, a striking example of how difficult it can be for Chinese nationals to report any abuse. The fact that air force personnel has been involved too in taking criminal advantage of a young overseas Chinese female does make one wonder. Indeed, one couldn’t be faulted for somehow feeling that word must have gotten around on the scumbag grapevine that overseas Chinese females would be vulnerable to their lustful intentions.
I am going to say what some Malaysian bloggers dare only entertain in their private conversations but not on their postings. I appreciate it’s a sensitive subject but unless it’s brought out in the open, it can’t be remedied.
In a pluralistic society like Malaysia, where we have had our uneasy history of inter-ethnic tension, one cannot feel that the police abuses have an ugly overtone of racist malice. A Malaysiakini reader pointed out today that once the police targets were Indians, now they are Chinese.
I am highlighting this not to instigate or stir ethnic emotions, because we have lived through worse situations that the current perception. But the powers that are, namely the Prime Minister and his Deputy, must take swift and necessary actions, indeed make some difficult but obligatory decisions, to restore confidence among Malaysians that the culprits would be punished, regardless of their ethnic affiliation.
As for the worst case of irresponsible statement by a senior public servant, which destroys whatever little confidence that the public may still have of the dreadful organisation called the Royal Malaysian Police, the Prime Minister must sack without any further delay the Deputy IGP for his nonsense about ear squats in the nude being SOP, and also the IGP for his conspicuous silence. If one has to kill a chicken to frighten the monkey, sacking these two would be the most deserving actions.
BUT UNFORTUNATELY, as I have suspected and anticipated, once the magnitude of the police abuses are known, the responsible minister will dig in. Just as I was about to post the above, I read the Malaysiakini news that Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar stated an internal investigation into the ‘naked ear squats’ incident has found that police personnel did not breach the law. Note the key word “internal” – that’s how the Americans say Guantanamo Bay prison has not been the hell hole others claimed it to be, and did we Malaysians believe them?
When Nor Omar was challenged on the point that human rights lawyers have described such strip searches as illegal, he arrogantly replied that those who are not satisfied are welcome to sue the police or the government. Only in Malaysia would a minister resort to that childish petulant "I dare you" response, instead of answering in a responsible manner as an elected representative of the public.
However, the PM mentioned he wants an independent inquiry to look into the matter. Let’s hope it won’t be a Lord Hutton type of inquiry, but quite frankly deep in my heart, I don’t hold out much hope.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of America’s right wing governor, is reported to be agonising over a gubernatorial decision, one that you would have thought he needn’t think about at all, he being such a leading right winger.
As the governor he has been asked to grant clemency to the most prominent prisoner on California's death row - the founder of the Crips street gang, Stanley Tookie Williams. Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection on December 13, 11 days after Nguyen Van Tuong in Changi prison.
Schwarzenegger has been swamped with petitions, that pointed out what Williams has done, namely publicly repudiated his violent past, penned a series of books for children and teenagers warning them of the dangers of getting involved in gangs, and authored a protocol for achieving peace between warring gangs, which has been successfully applied from Switzerland to South Africa.
A host of celebrities have supported the petition for clemency. Large crowds have demonstrated on his behalf last weekend outside San Quentin prison, near San Francisco.
However, the families of Williams’ victims have also petitioned Schwarzenegger to carry on with the planned execution. Also, the authorities at San Quentin argue that Mr Williams has remained a linchpin of the Crips gang from behind bars, despite his public conversion to the cause of peace.
Schwarzenegger played smart and called for a private meeting with lawyers representing both sides just 15 days before Williams' scheduled execution date. From the meeting, he will make his decision. Now, regardless of his decision, it shows a willingness to hear a clemency appeal for a killer, whilst the Singapore government has dismissed that straightaway for a young man who has yet to kill anyone.
The argument about Nguyen’s 400 gms of Heroin representing 26,000 shots is nonsense as reader Dave Jarvis has written in my previous posting Nguyen Van Tuong - the Final Nail in his Coffin
He said that based on a number of factors, “the number of hits from a gram of pure heroin averages out to little more than 14. Van Tuong Nguyen trafficked 396.2 grams of heroin into Singapore. This is approximately 5,600 doses”
Dave went further by disabusing the Singapore’s claim, and averred that the “400 grams of heroin would not come close to ruining even 5,600 lives. Rather, the heroin would most likely supply people already abusing it”.
Dave added “Van Tuong Nguyen would not have sent 26,000 people to their deaths from 400 grams of heroin. Nor would the lives of 26,000 people have been ruined. Far more likely is that six people would get a year's worth of hits. And for this he must hang?”
He concluded pointedly “Call it dreadful, call it dense, call it incomprehensible ... but do not call it justice”.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
This perception of ethnic profiled persecution came to light recently when three female Chinese nationals, wives of Malaysian citizens, reported that their money was stolen, they were forced to strip, and were peeped at by male police officers when bathing in the police station while under police detention.
Then, before we could catch our breath, the police did an Abu Ghraib which our unbelievable Deputy Inspector of Police, Musa Hassan, solved within a day – by asserting that the Malaysian ‘Lynndie England’ was not guilty because she was merely conducting routine check on the woman in making her perform ear squats in the nude. According to Musa Hassan the guilty one has been the person who took the video shots of the Chinese woman doing ear squatting in the nude.
I don’t know about the Chinese but I wouldn’t be comforted by Azmi Khalid’s assurance, no, not with such a Deputy Police Chief's defiant rejection that police abuse had occurred.
The Deputy Police Chief’s defiant assertion that naked ear squats are perfectly police SOP has been disproved by Teresa Kok Member of Parliament for Taman Seputeh. Ms Kok, a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), consulted a former cop-turned-laywer, Sankara Nair, who confirmed there is no such provision nor has there been any to strip a female detainee naked in the Inspector General’s Standing Order (IGSO). So the Deputy Police Chief has been extraordinarily 'creative'. One wonders whether the IGSP will now be amended?
As I blogged earlier in Malaysian Police Chief Exonerates Malaysia’s ‘Lynndie England’, the abuse of such nature must be so widespread that punishing one police woman won’t stop the rotting police secrets from exploding like a bloated and putrefying carcass onto the public domain. In fact, that police woman if sacrificed, would probably blab on her colleagues and officers.
I believe if one were to go further and research the Star Online articles on Chinese female nationals (I have read a few) being threatened or apprehended by the Malaysian police, one would see a pattern or at least a number of occurrences, where, for example in one incident that I recall, 2 or 3 policemen in mufti would accompany a sole young Chinese woman to her flat and invite themselves into her place, loiter around there and god-knows what they might have proposed or demanded from the poor frightened girl. In virtually every case, the victim couldn’t or refused to identify the men out of fear.
There has undoubtedly been police profiling of those young female Chinese nationals, either for money or sexual favours. One reader Mohd Azli left a message in a previous posting Royal Malaysian Police or Royal Malaysian Criminals, referring to what Teresa Kok had on her website about a police report lodged by the Chinese wives. Mohd Azli has kindly translated them into English, where some extracts went like so (sorry Mohd, I have trimmed some sentences but without changing their meanings as displayed on Teresa Kok's website):
"After we recorded out statement on the 5th of November at the Sungai Buloh Police Station, a police man did a hand signal to Gu Xiu Hua, indicating it was 'great' she had big breast."
Should a law officer be doing that?
"At about 7pm 5th November, Yu Xue Zhen wrap her body with a big towel and entered the bath room in the lock up. She noticed a police man staring at her from outside the lock up’s door. This was witnessed by Gu Xiu Hua. Gu Xiu Hua remembered Yu Xue Zhen immediately closing the bath room door."
What can one say about that?
"Before we left the Petaling Jaya Police Station, around 4 pm, the same police man who had earlier gestured his appreciation for Gu Xia Hua’s breast, ordered Gu Xiu Hua to come to him, and signalled for her to phone him. But Gu Xiu Hua did not dare go near him."
This is termed 'stalking' which is a crime!!! Obviously the man lusted after the victim. I wonder whether he had been the one who went on that midnight visit to harrass the women at their homes? If he was the same bloke, I would have liked to know whose home he went to?
Jeff Ooi of Screenshots has just blogged on further complaints from Chinese females direct from Fujian in China on Malaysian Immigration abuses. What other nefarious abuses exist unreported?
The sad conclusion an ordinary man in the street reading about these outrageous cases of police abuses is that some members of the Malaysian police have been targeting young female Chinese nationals as easy prey, for extortion, sexual favours or sadistic abuses.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police. Musa Hassan, who nowadays seems to be the man speaking for the Police, said whoever took the video clip - whether a police person or a civilian – would be charged under the Penal Code. This is precisely the move that I described in Malaysia’s Abu Ghraib – Kill the chooks to frighten the monkey. The aim is to punish the breaker of the omerta code rather than the abuser of the naked woman forced into humiliating postures in a police cell.
Or could there be another more sinister reason? Let's read on and see.
The police deputy chief started off by shocking us with the pre-investigation exoneration of the Malaysian ‘Lynndie England’ by stating:
“It is the perpetrator behind the video clip whom we are after and not the policewoman, who was carrying out a routine check.”
Routine check? What routine check requires a naked woman to perform ear squats? He hasn’t even explained why the Chinese woman was made to strip naked, and perform what universally is known to be a humiliating exercise. In fact, the investigation has hardly started.
The Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister had already stated that there is no such police procedure as ear squatting, but he is now overruled by a mere Deputy Police Chief.
Then there is Home Minister Azmi Khalid, who has urged the woman in a controversial video clip to step forward in order to facilitate police investigations. Does anyone in his right mind expect the unfortunate woman to now emerge, when the deputy police chief has already exonerated the police woman who abused the woman?
Who the bloody hell is in charge of the country? The DPM or the Deputy Police Chief? But then … this is Malaysia where the police hatches are now all battened down, and the Police Deputy Chief has fired the first defiant shot, right across the Deputy Prime Minister’s bow. Why?
Prime Mimister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi demand for an 'open' inquiry has already been scuttled by a mere public servant, the Deputy Police Chief, whose defiant approval of the naked ear squat punishment has now been echoed by another police head, North Seberang Perai OCPD Asst Comm Mazlan Lazim.
This defiant recalcitrance can only mean one thing - Malaysia's police Abu Ghraib-ish abuses are more widespread than has been thought earlier. The police brass are now worried that punishment of the police woman may reveal more stinking dirt, so the next best mitigating move is to make that universal abusive action an approved police procedure.
The prime minister and his other ministers' mistake was to have the police investigate itself.
Singapore has sacked Darshan Singh, its only hangman after his identity and picture were revealed by The Australian newspaper. The Singapore government has not been pleased with that indiscretion. Darshan Singh said that he gets a bonus of Sing $400 dollars per hanging, but he admits he is happy not to be the one to put the noose around young Nguyen’s neck.
It's believed that Singapore will be importing a 'borrowed' or 'seconded' hangman from another country, probably from neighbouring Malaysia, which also practises legal execution by hanging. Ain't it sweet, the cooperation between two Commonwealth mates who still retain their erstwhile colonial master's nasty punishment while their colonial master and other Commonwealth partners have abandoned that draconian practice.
Nguyen's lawyer Lex Lasry has expressed great concerns about an inexperienced hangman messing around with his client as hanging is a precise science which is meant to execute swiftly and not cause unnecessary sufferings, as had happened with Nazi criminals after the Nuremberg trials.
Lasry said, "If this must happen it must be done as humanely as possible. It just shows the high level of inhumanity of it."
I don’t agree than hanging a young 25-year old man, or for that matter any person, no matter how artful the hangman could possibly be in minimising sufferings, can ever 'be done as humanely as possible'. It is an unacceptable form of state institutionalised murder.
Meanwhile, Singapore human rights lawyer M. Ravi has led the local campaign to save the Australian because it was the final wish of his previous death row client, Shanmugam Murugesu, who was hung in May. While alive, he became Nguyen's best friend and confidant in jail. Ravi said that before Shanmugam was executed, the condemned man asked him to try and save Nguyen.
Shanmugam’s family has held a vigil to pray for Nguyen. They have also spoken out against the capital punishment for Nguyen, but they are a small number of Singaporeans concerned at all by the inhumane legal punishment.
His teenage son said "We are not just fighting for my father. We are fighting for everyone. No one should have to go through this pain, it is not the pain of missing a girlfriend or a friend, but the pain of seeing your father's body is very difficult to handle. I do not want his mother to have to feel this pain."
(1) The Singapore Hangman
(2) Shanmugam Murugesu – Nobility on Eve of Execution
The New Straits Times is well known by Malaysians to be the unofficial organ of the Malaysian government, effectively the major ruling party UMNO. Sometimes it mouths or market-tests UMNO policies, or reports to ameliorate and mitigate UMNO disasters, and spins suchlike stuff. Its article on the reason for the police abuse is one of those propaganda stuff designed to assuage the more gullible or the converted that all has been fine and merely some misunderstanding of police procedures.
And as expected, the police investigation is targeting on the whistle blower and the photographer, instead of what actions should be taken against those responsible. In any decent democracy, the police person who conducted the abuse would have been immediately stood aside while investigations to determine the circumstances of the case are being progressed. But not in Malaysia and especially the Malaysian Police, which is a law unto itself. Instead, the person who revealed the scandal is considered by the police as the traitor and if found, will be severely punished.
Some time ago, an honest fireman, who reported on his boss' misuse of public property (fire brigade equipment and resources) for the latter's own use/interest, was sacked. As the Chinese say, sha ji xia hou or kill the chook to frighten the monkey, meaning in this Malaysian Abu Ghraib's case, punish the whistle blower so severely so that the rest may understand and continue to uphold the code of omerta. This would appear to be the objective of the current police investigation rather than the identification of abuses or misconduct among its personnel.
In typical Malaysian fashion, the Police top brass have bunkered down until the storm is over. This is the way Malaysian culture, politics and governance works. Any criticism of an unlawful act or misconduct is considered as direct criticism of the minister or a senior official, hence the criticisms must be resisted or denied at all cost. The New Straits Times article is a typical spin designed to protect the Minister and the government.
The usual tactic is to deny, justify, bluff away or in the worst case scenario, pretend to investigate, and then delay the required actions until the public eventually forgets about it.
Unfortunately there is no sense of honour in today's Malaysian government unlike those that medieval Japanese upheld, where officials would commit seppuku to make amends for a public or even personal shame, or even those of proper modern democracy where responsible Ministers and senior officials must resign, or at least be sacked by the prime minister.
I have read that in Tenku Abdul Rahman's time, his Education Minister sued the late DR Seenivasegam of the Peoples Political Party (PPP - yes, it was once an opposition party) for calling him corrupt, but when he lost the case, had the common decency to resign.
It's so unlike today's (lack of) sense of honour and morality, where one can virtually witness deep claw marks on the thresholds of the offices of ministers and senior officials as they resist the imperative to go. Unfortunately the former Malaysian PM had tolerated such shameless officials while the present PM seems not to have the nerve to take the necessary actions.
I reckon Howard's appeal has been more to placate the home crowds. And as a reminder of that burning concern, Howard said he was sorry he had not been able to do more to help Nguyen. He stated, "I can promise you I've tried in all the appropriate ways to persuade them [the Singaporeans] to do otherwise and I regret that I have been unsuccessful. I'm sorry about that."
Howard is conscious of the very deep Aussie resentment against the Singapore government’s insistence to execute Nguyen that he actually raised this prospect with PM Lee. Howard said in the most diplomatic terms, "I have an obligation to explain to the Government of Singapore that there will be lingering resentment on the part of many Australians regarding this issue."
Howard has ruled out any form of government sanctions against Singapore, which I do agree would have been only a grandstanding gesture with no real bite at all, but he warns Singapore, who has business interests downunder such as Optus, that the Aussie public may start to boycott goods and services associated with Singapore. In fact, those business concerns have been lying low since two weeks ago, making only the minimum statements when the press attempted to interview them.
The Aussie media has also been relatively subdued on Nguyen coming execution compared to the Schapelle Corby or Michelle Leslie cases but as the execution date approaches, and if no significant world or domestic event arises to overshadow Nguyen's fate, I have no doubt the press will whip up their usual concoction to raise the temperature and blood pressure. Then the boycott, if any, will begin to become apparent and snowball.
Probably knowing how she has unwittingly made Howard look bad on this issue, PM Helen Clarke was very gracious in saying, "I know that John Howard is doing absolutely everything he can about this case."
The lesson here is that public political pressure works in Australia and New Zealand. In Singapore I am sure it will also work, when one day it has a vocal public or at least a politically spontaneous one.
(1) Nguyen Saga - Kiwi PM step in
(2) Nguyen's Execution - Oz Govt in Damage Control
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Finally, the Commission came up with a hundred over recommendations, which now one wonders if any has yet been implemented.
Then, even before 6 months have passed since the Royal Commission report was handed in, as if to poke at the nose of the Commission or Prime Minister, we have had the misfortune to witness a number of very shameful cases of police misbehaviour. A number of female Chinese nationals, wives of Malaysians, have been abused by our so-called law guardians.
In one case, the so-called law officers demanded money from them – I believe that’s called EXTORTION.
One had her money taken away by the police – I believe that’s called DAYLIGHT ROBBERY
Two were forced to strip, while one had her breast squeezed – I believe that’s called SEXUAL ASSAULT.
Yes, all these criminal acts were perpetrated by the MALAYSIAN POLICE. Those women were unlawfully detained for 4 days despite having the correct documents. When the husband of one of them rushed to the police station to secure her release, the police sergeant refused to verify her passport with the Immigration Department until he paid up money under-the-counter. What the hell does one call that?
On top of being unlawfully detained, those police victims were humiliated, stripped, sexually assaulted, extorted, and robbed at the police station. All those crimes are punishable by law. Now, lets ask ourselves how and why the Police dare perpetrate such crimes on those women, wives of Malaysian citizens?
As noted commentator Dr M Bakri Musa wrote in his Malaysiakini column, the story of the PM-ship of Ahmad Abdullah Badawi has been a ‘legacy of lost opportunity’. What good is a Commission of Inquiry if the PM fails to institute measures to right a rotten, yes, bloody rotten police force, manned disgracefully by many uniformed criminals.
And what has been the cabinet’s action on the police force thus far? Oh yes, they made those police wear badges on their uniforms with the message that they won't accept bribes. Problem of police corruption and criminality solved by a silly badge? I am not sure whether to laugh or cry.
But even worse than that, those cops who were reported for sexually abusing, stealing money from, and even peeping at those Chinese wives while they were having a bath in a police station, had gone to the houses of those women in the middle of the night to intimidate and harass them a la the Gestapo style of the midnight knock.
Those targeted were mainly Chinese female nationals.
So, to allay the fears of potential Chinese tourists that they could be victimised by Malaysian police, we hear that the Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid plans to fly off to China to assure the Chinese that there is no targeting of female Chinese nationals.
But before he has even departed the latest and probably the worst case of police abuse has come to light. A video footage has emerged, showing a police officer abusing another apprehended female Chinese national, by making her strip naked and performing ear squats in the nude. Apparently the abuse was conducted to background Quranic reading!
Hasn’t that been a frightening case of Malaysia’s very own Abu Ghraib, but with Quranic chanting in the background instead of American pop music?
And when the PM asked the police to investigate the abuse with no more cover-ups, instead, they wasted time investigating how the video clip came into the hands of the press. The Deputy IGP believes that was the crime, not the abuse of the victim stripped naked and forced to perform ear squat. And we Malaysians have the bloody nerve to condemn the Americans about Abu Ghraib. I have never been so ashamed of Malaysia.
The Royal Malaysian Police is truly rotten to the core, and stinking to high heavens yet regretfully we haven’t seen any meaningful action by the prime minister thus far. He must arrest the cancer that grows within this once-great organisation.
In any country the first to go out of decent shame would have been the Home Minister and the Inspector General of Police and his deputy, including the senior police officers in charge of those uniformed misfits.
The sad truth is nothing will happen for most Malaysian Ministers and officials have no shame. And the PM of Malaysia, as Dr M Bakri Musa said of him, wants to be the nice guy all the time, even to the criminals in the police force.
While Aussie PM John Howard doesn’t want to appeal anymore for Nguyen Van Truong’s life, having done so unsuccessfully a couple of times to Singapore, PM Helen Clarke of New Zealand has, in Malta, registered her abhorrence of Nguyen’s execution to her Singapore counterpart, PM Lee Hsien Loong and appealed for the convicted drug trafficker’s life.
Good on you, Helen, you have a great heart as big as the Pacific Ocean.
Malta is the venue for the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting). Incidentally Malta, in order to join the European Union, had to abolish capital punishment from itys legal code.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) has once again appealed to the Singapore government via the High Commission in Canberra yesterday for the life of Nguyen.
The ACBC wrote a letter to PM Lee reminding him that the Singapore constitution allows the Government to grant clemency in rare cases. They asked him to appply that Constitional clause in Nguyen’s favour considering he is a young man with no prior criminal conviction with good prospects for reform.
Both Pope John Paul II and his successor Pope Benedict XVI made direct but unsuccessful appeals to Singapore to spare Nguyen's life.
PM Howard had supported Aussie Judge Marcus Einfield's warning to Leslie to stop the way she went about jeopardising other Aussie prisoners in Indon because of her planned and unnecessary assault on the Indon police and legal system from the safety of Australia.
When a TV reporter asked her about her negotiations with TV stations to sell her story, her spokesman stepped in once again and terminated the conference.
As I mentioned, Leslie had overdone the innocent Oz virgin princess part by her insensitive statements and antics against the Indons. From sympathy to sheer dislike for her fake innocence, the Aussie public and press have circled around her, hoping to tear her to shreds. That was why her modelling agency, Chic Management, sacked her, even though they had originally assure her prior to her release that there have been an increased demand for her modelling service. Her post-release statements destroyed her own credibility and whatever sympathies Aussies had for her.
In what Malaysians would term korek cerita or digging up the truth of her story or allegations/assertions, the media has discovered a lot of 'ear wax'. The Aussie Herald has discovered the following:
(1) lies about her claims that she did not take ecstasy, did not know what the pills found in her bag were, a friend had slipped them in her bag, and that they were substitutes for Ritalin.
(2) bribes paid by the Leslie camp. These would certainly call into question the thrust of her defence she mounted publicly and in court
(3) lies about her allegations that the drugs belonged to the friends of powerful men (one of whom was a high ranking minister) when she was arrested, the drugs were planted in her bag, her drug test result was faked blah blah blah.
(4) her claim of the Islamic faith is very questionable.
(5) even the mysterious Mia or Siti Namira, blamed by Leslie for slipping the pills into her bag, has refuted her story.
You know the old saying - "give a person enough rope ........"
(1) Shut Up Michelle Leslie!
(2) Michelle Leslie - an Overdone Innocent Victim?
Well, two Sydney University international law experts, Don Rothwell and Chris Ward, maintained there was time to seek an injunction from the court to halt the hanging of Nguyen.
Professor Rothwell and Dr Ward advised the Aussie government that the first thing to do is to have that international court injunction so that there may be sufficient time to prepare the case to take the Singapore government to the International Court, challenging that its mandatory death penalty has breached a 1961 convention. Both proferssors averred that the Single Convention on Narcotics does not support mandatory sentencing and has an article providing for the court to settle disputes between parties to it.
Wunderbar, perhaps Nguyen may still be saved afterall. But guess what?
The Aussie government, its decision not entirely unexpected, has rejected that recommendation despite its much publicised enlisting of the university dons’ help and agreeing to do everything it could to save Nguyen. The “everything it could” obviously doesn’t include offending the Singapore government, who coincidentally yesterday praised the Aussie government for adopting a mature political approch to the Nguyen’s case.
Juts to make sure it justifies its rejection of Australia’s international law professor with eqaully powerful law credentials, it cabled an overseas expert (since all Aussie experts are likely to support Professor Rothwell and Dr Ward), a Cambridge university professor of international law, Professor James Crawford, for help to support its refusal to take the case to the international courts. According to the Aussie, Professor Crawford gave the nod to the Aussie government's decision.
The Aussie Judicial Conference, an organization representing 550 Australian judges said in great diappointment to the Aussie government’s decision, that the Singapore Court of Appeal had relied on a 1981 Privy Council decision to reject a challenge to the validity of the mandatory death penalty in Nguyen's case, but it noted that last year the Privy Council has changed its position, in declaring as unconstitutional such a mandatory penalty in Jamaica. In other words, the Singapore Court of Appeal might have erred in relying on a superceded precedence.
In the end, Nguyen Van Tuong will surely hang on dawn 02 December 2005, because in this real cold cruel world of international interests, there is no room for the life of a mere drug trafficker. Compassion, humanity and value for the sanctity of a human life must instead give way.
Friday, November 25, 2005
American and international experts scoffed at the very idea of a secular egomaniac like Saddam Hussein allying himself with a religious fanatic like Osama bin Laden, or vice versa. In fact those two kahuna's hated each other with a vengeance and would have loved to do each other in.
So the poor Bush Administration, suddenly bereft of justifications for the illegal aggression, and like a drowning man, clutched desperately at the ‘last straw’ of ‘regime change’, a regime the USA itself has fostered and nurtured over the years to serve its strategic interests in the Gulf region for decades.
Oh yes, the good ole USA was getting rid of its buddy Saddam Hussein to *save?* the Iraqis.
Well, they have certainly got rid of Saddam and now has replaced him with this new regime.
Looks like the Iraqi people have been short-changed by the Americans a 3rd time. The 1st time was when they suffered under a US-sponsored Saddam Hussein, while the 2nd time was when President Bush Senior abandoned them to Saddam’s mercy after urging them to rise in rebellion against that Mother of Them All during the closing stage of the 1st Gulf War.
Sadly, some people are continuously cursed by the *help?* of the US Administration.
Ungraciously but predictably, the US rejected the offers of those socialist countries – for the Bush Administration, cold war ideology reigned supreme over compassion or considerations for its own victimised citizens.
But a man like Hugo Chavez, the Venezuela's President, who loves to make flamboyant gestures on the world’s stage, apart from being the fiery Latino that he indeed is, has once again succeeded in irritating the Bush Administration.
Chavez has circumvented the diplomat impasse with his own plans to supply cheap fuel to thousands of poor residents of Boston and New York through his US registered company, Citgo Petroleum Corporation. Chavez is talking about some 45 million litres of oil or more, at 40 per cent below market prices.
The London Telegraph said that “the deal is one of the most spectacular moves yet in Mr Chavez's attempt to market his 21st-century socialism using his country's oil wealth.”
Well, I say good on him.
Chavez’s decision has pissed off many in Washington, presumably those in the Bush Administration. I wonder why, because if a person like the Ayatollah wants to give cheap oil to my country, hey, he’s most welcome to do so.
Meanwhile Joe Kennedy, the chairman of the US' Citizens Energy, one of the organisations that Chavez has nominated to distribute the oil, said Chavez’s offer reflected on the failure of US oil companies and the Bush Administration to help the people. He said:
"Our government has made billions of dollars just this year on the royalty payments the oil companies pay to the Government. But when it is a question of poor Americans, what do we hear from Washington? Sorry boys. There's no money in the till."
Chavez has also been giving away cheap oil and refineries to his neighbours like Cuba, and pledged financial support for regional development programs.
Out of spite, the US warned Spain that it would block the latter’s sale of ships and aircraft to Venezuela, with the usual bullshit about those arms destabilising the region. But when it suits the Americans, it will sell hi-tech arms to Pakistan and India, two antagonists who had already gone through 3 wars.
Howard has repetitively indicated he doesn’t want to damage the excellent relationship between the two governments, particularly when there are hugh trade deals including rumours of a SIA-Qantas merger talks coming about. He has ruled out suggestion such as trade sanction, which in only a bilateral dimension is in reality ineffective and not practical at all.
But Singapore’s opposition leader, Dr Chee, has added to the fuel blazing in Aussie hearts by accusing the Howard government of not doing enough, and by being relatively passive, has encouraged the Singapore government in its obdurate stand. In an interview earlier with Aussie TV, Dr Chee brought out Singapore’s double standard in its insistence on executing a nobody for drug trafficking while it pampers to the drug barons in Myanmar.
See my earlier posting Hypocrisy of Singapore in Nguyen's Execution
There has been a flurry of activity these last few days as the Howard government goes into damage control. Legal experts including university law professors have been co-opted to provide advice on whether Australia could exploit existing international treaties between the 2 countries to put a stay on the execution.
But quite frankly, I reckon nothing will come out of it. It’s more of an exercise for domestic consumption as the Aussie government realises that it is being seen as cold hearted for putting economic interests above the live of one of its citizens, even one convicted of drug trafficking.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Malaysia has just banned 9 Malay-language books published in Indonesia and one Arabic book from Egypt. Usually the banning would have something to do with the Islamic faith.
Despite the fact that Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with almost 90% of its population embracing the Islamic faith, some of whom are extreme fundamentalists like certain members of the Jemaah Islamiyah, it has a fairly tolerant attitude towards religion. I suppose that's why those books were published.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of our own Malaysia especially when it comes to Islam. In fact, the Home Ministry has warned that it would be an offence to publish, reproduce, offer for sale or circulate these publications.
Looking at some of those banned titles, I find them rather innocuous, admittedly without examining their contents. Those more gentle-sounding books are (excuse my loose translation):
(1) Dari Zaman Nabi Muhammad Saw Dan Para Sahabat – Since the era or times of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh and his close disciples (or Companions)
(2) Mengapa Kita Mencintai Keluarga Nabi Saw – why we love the family of the Prophet pbuh
(3) Quran Menurut Perempuan – the Koran from the female’s perspective
Maybe they have to do with viewpoints that may threatened or contradict Malaysia’s Islam, which subscribes to the Shafi’i legal school of Sunni Islam, or even promote religious agitation that may threaten public stability.
However there was one that attracted my attention despite KTemoc being not of the Ummah (the Muslim fraternity). The book is published by CV Pustaka Setia and titled Kisah Tongkat Nabi Musa by KH Abdullah Zakiy AlKaaf and Dr Maman Abdul Djaliel.
The translated title reads “The story of the Prophet Moses' staff”. Yes, that’s the Moses who parted the sea in the Book of Exodus.
Readers may wish to visit (or re-visit) what I had blogged on earlier this year in the unfinished (shame on me!) ‘Who was Abraham?’ series. I have selected 4 postings from that series that mentioned the story of Moses' staff, as follows:
[warning – my postings may be offensive to some Christians and Muslims and indeed Jews, so please don’t read if you have a low tolerance of alternative views on the Old Testament]
(1) Who was Abraham? (18)
(2) Who was Abraham? (19)
(3) Who was Abraham? (20)
(4) Who was Abraham? (21)
From one of these 4 postings mentioning Moses’ serpent-staff I have extracted the following paragraphs:
... the biblical author of the Book of Exodus writing in Aaron rather than Moses as the thrower of the serpent-staff when in front of the Egyptian, whereas Moses did it by himself when he was with God. ……...
Moses serpent rod was worshipped with incense in the Temple of Solomon until the time of King Hezekiah, who broke it up as part of his religious reforms (with political overtones).
"He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake into pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan." (2 Kings 18:4)
The term Nehushtan might have also implied that the worship of serpents was of ancient date in Israel.
As the Old Testament went (see Numbers 21:4-9), the Hebrews were attacked by venomous snakes sent by YWVH to kill those who spoke against Him. He then instructed Moses to make the serpent staff to heal those bitten.
"21.6. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."
But several hundred years later King Hezekiah destroyed Moses' staff because he reckon it was encouraging idolatry when he saw the Hebrews burning incense before it in the Temple in Jerusalem.
I wonder whether the Indonesian book Kisah Tongkat Nabi Musa by KH Abdullah Zakiy AlKaaf and Dr Maman Abdul Djaliel has anything to do with the story I have blogged on.
Anyway, this has motivated me to resume my ‘Who was Abraham?’ series to its finale but it's not goiung to happened tomorrow – my apologies to those who became fed up waiting for me; I had a burnt out with the series because of too much reading.
Her agency has dropped her off like a hot potato. Chic Management announced today that it has terminated its 4-year old professional relationship with Leslie. But Leslie’s spokeman retorted that she had resigned from the agency instead, and not the other way around. He claimed that Leslie had faxed in her resignation yesterday.
Her spokeman said that Leslie needed some time to recuperate from a horrendous experience.
I have a feeling that her modelling agency must have sensed the growing Aussie antipathy for her, since her release, because of her behaviour and her claim of innocence. But no worries, afterall, she did say that her first priority is to marry her boyfriend.
BTW, there is a cheeky list of job options for Michelle Leslie here.
Michelle Leslie & the Sweet Aroma of Notoriety
(1) Arrested for F**king Rabbits!
(2) Kiwi Rabbit F**ker
(3) F**Ked to Death by a Horse
(4) Unnatural Sexual Arousals & Acts
China plans to buy 60 high speed bullet trains from Japan and another equal quantity from Germany. Each deal may be worth over US$800 million.
The principal lines will be between Beijing and Shanghai, aimed to relieve stress on current transportation between the two cities. Beijing will probably like to have them by 2008, just in time for the Olympic Games.
When this is implemented, China will enjoy not only the service of the fastest trains but also the world's highest altitude railway line between Golmud in Qinghai and Lhasa in Tibet. In the 2nd case, because the trains will be travelling above 10,000 feet, the coaches will be pressurised like jet planes to prevent passengers and the train crew from experiencing hypoxia or lack of oxygen for the needs of the human bodies.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
It seemed that the Iron Lady's ire was aroused when the British expeditionary force, sailing to the Falklands to wrest back the islands from the Argentinians, had one of its air defence destroyers, HMS Sheffield sunk by an Argentinian Navy aircraft, a French Super-Etendard. The naval jet flew low level over the seas towards the British Navy ship before releasing its air-to-surface Exocet missile dozens of miles away. Just for a million dollars worth of French missile, the Argentinian sank a US$400 to 500 million British destroyer.
Not only were the British terrified by the devastating effect of the sea-skimming cruise missiles, but all the big navies were shitting bricks in their pants, wondering how they were going to overcome such a deadly weapon. The USN was particular worried for their aircraft carriers as each was and still is an important as well as extremely expensive asset, with about 60 to 80 war planes and some 5,000 men on board.
The USN quickly developed the special Vulcan Phalanx anti-missile radar controlled cannon, a weapon which could rapidly spray zillions of rounds of heavy ammo against an incoming missile such as the Exocet.
But back to the story - Margaret Thatcher was so worried Argentina's French armaments would sink the expeditionary force that she threatened to nuke Buenos Aires with her nuclear submarines loitering in the area. Mitterand related to Magoudi after arriving more than 45 minutes late for his session on May 7, 1982:
"Excuse me. I had a difference to settle with the Iron Lady. That Thatcher, what an impossible woman! With her four nuclear submarines in the south Atlantic, she's threatening to unleash an atomic weapon against Argentina if I don't provide her with the secret codes that will make the missiles we sold the Argentinians deaf and blind."
"It was fired from a Super-Etendard jet. All the materiel was French. She's livid. She blames me personally for this new Trafalgar … I was obliged to give in. She's got them now, the codes."
Mitterrand, who described Thatcher as having the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe, continued:
"One cannot win against the insular syndrome of an unbridled Englishwoman … But it's a good job I gave way. Otherwise, I assure you, the lady's metallic finger would have hit the button."
But Mitterand plotted that France would get its back against the Brits. he said:
" I'll build a tunnel under the Channel. I'll succeed where Napoleon III failed. And do you know why she'll accept my tunnel? I'll flatter her shopkeeper's spirit. I'll tell her it won't cost the Crown a penny."
At a press conference on her arrival at Sydney airport, her spokesman, Sean Mulcahy, immediately terminated the session with the media, when an Aussie Channel 7 reporter questioned the dodginess of her conversion to Islam. He rejected scorns that Leslie had been less than truthful about her religious belief, and said:
"The criticism only hampers her attempt to progress and further her religion. I can only liken it to learning the piano. When you first start playing the piano you are not very good. If people continually criticise you and tell you how bad you play, you give up. She doesn't profess to be the greatest Muslim that's lived; she's learning the religion. There are various levels of religious beliefs and Michelle doesn't share extremist views of that."
Well, well, well - so she doesn't profess to be the greatest Muslim that's lived?
If we were to use Mulcahy's piano-playing analogy, Leslie with her burqa donned when under arrest in Indonesia, was then playing Tschaikosky’s first piano concerto brilliantly like a young Beethoven, but now, back in Australia, she can’t even hit out a simple doh-ray-mee.
As her story went, when the police stopped their cars, the passengers conducted some names dropping of who their dads were and the traditional pungli (pungutan liar or pickings sans authority). The police then agreed to release everyone except, strangely, only Leslie. They even created a false driver’s identity so that the rest would be untraceable. Wasn't it strange that after all the alleged corrupt coverup, the police and Leslie's friends, including her fellow model Mia or Siti Narima, left only Leslie to face the music and tell the tale – wait, Leslie said she was warned she would be assassinated if she spilled the beans. She also asserted that her positive blood and urine tests to ecstasy were ‘doctored’.
You know, I am acquainted with a very very young but smart boy who looked at me in disbelief when I told him the story. Leslie's tale is interesting enough to make it into a Walt Disney movie but its plausibility is truly so laughable.
What Leslie's camp told the media has been a situation of high drama where there were corrupt Indon police, Indon yuppies with powerful political connections, a false driver’s identity in the police report to prevent any subsequent tracing, and oh oh oh, don’t forget fellow model Siti Narima or Mia, all scooting off scot free, but leaving the Oz virgin princess, high profile Leslie, an orang asing (foreigner) to face the music with a sinister threat that she must obey the laws of the omerta.
Then it went on that money was passed around, something to the tune of $100,000, to be divided among police, judicial figures and others, and also to manufacture a story that could see Leslie released within three months.
Hmmm, rather convoluted and messy arrangement, don't one think so, when Leslie could have been released together with those Indon yuppies and her modelling pal, Siti Narima?
Yes indeed, if money was passed around by powerful politically connnected Indons, why not just take her along instead of leaving her behind to help police trace them and spill the beans? Why allow Siti Narima to escape but not Leslie? Why the fabrication of a "mysterious" Mia? Why the subsequent emergency need for a burqa?
Not surprising, some insiders scornfully dismissed her story, especially her claims that she was ignorant of the ecstasy pills in her handbag - afterall, didn’t she confess to the psychiatrist that she took ecstasy?
The Herald newspaper were informed that bribes were paid (but not by those Indon yuppies) to ensure Leslie's release, which has been confirmed by a source close to Leslie's legal team, but who refused to disclose the amounts. I guess that explained it all - a case of corrupt Indons versus the innocent Oz virgin princess. A Bali prosecutor, Suhadi, suggested that Leslie report the bribery allegations to the police. No such report has yet been made.
In Australia, former judge Marcus Einfeld beat me to it (dash it!) by warning Leslie to shut up and not say anything to humiliate the Indons just to repair her name, because the next Aussie who get into trouble in Indonesia would receive the full fury of the Indons.
I reckon in the Schapelle Corby’s case, the froth whipped up here by some irresponsible local media leading to threats against and harrassment of Indon Embassy officials in Canberra and Perth, and the public insults of President SBY by some hot-heads, might have contributed to her harsh sentence.
Judge Einfield also told the media to keep a low lid on Leslie's chameleon-like religious inclinations as it is a highly sensitve issue in Indonesia.
PM John Howard agrees, warning Leslie against jeopardising the cases of other Australians facing drugs charges by insulting the Indon legal and police system, and also against selling her story. Howard believes it would be wrong for her to profit financially from her crime, apart from the fact that there’s an Aussie law against that.