Saturday, December 31, 2005
The most outstanding issue for 2005 for me must be the progress of the recovery post tsunami. Even 1 year later, in places like Aceh and Sri Lanka, little progress has been made. No one knows what’s happening in India, while over in the East African coastal nations of Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania, no one gives a damn for those fishermen who are still waiting for financial assistance. Thailand seems to be the only significantly affected nation that has gotten on top of its devastation.
And to add to the world’s miseries, Pakistan suffered a devastating earthquake while in the USA the people of New Orleans were struck by Hurricane Katrina. What progress thus far? Yes, you’ve got it! Bureaucracy throughout the world, even in the mighty USA, moves at a blistering pace, the pace of a bloke suffering from blisters on his feet.
For Malaysians, Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi has come as a humongous disappointment because he appears to be reluctant to rock the rotten status quo. Not much has changed. For example, the AP scandal sees him tolerating the sandiwara (theatrics) by the Trade Minister whom everyone including UMNO people thought would go. But Malaysia’s Iron Lady proves everyone wrong, and in the same process, damns the new Prime Minister in our eyes. Then, ole Humpty Dumpty continues to sit as a minister in a leaky parliament house – has he no shame, and has the PM no guts?
The usual farce associated with the Islamisation campaign started by UMNO sees JAWI terrorising women at the Zouk Club, then fighting over the remains of a man still unconfirmed as to whether he’s Hindu or Muslim, and the Islamic Family Law about to be passed to the detriment of Muslim women’s position. The string of alleged police abuses culminated in the Squatgate scandal. My prediction for 2006? - same old, same old!
I say I would keep it short though I could go on. But just a wee bit about the international arena before I quit.
I have minimised my blogging on military or insurgent incidents in Iraq and Palestine (though I occasionally still do) because I have been numbed by their daily violence. My prediction is that Iraq will disintegrate, that is, become balkanised, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue with Israel pulling the strings to ensure the West remains in its usual biased positions for Israel. Palestinian Statehood will again be delayed, which means more violence. More Palestinians will be killed while a smaller number of Israelis will be slain too. Basically, people on both sides will die in the Holy Land – excuse me while I decide whether to laugh or cry?
Keep an eye on Indonesia as the Islamist fascists try to eliminate its Christian countrymen, and likewise for southern Thailand as Islamist militants attempt to secede from an aloof Bangkok. The Tamil Tigers are active once again, aiming to up the death toll of 65,000 thus far. Like Thai Muslims the Tigers want a separated state, which I doubt the Singhalese will ever agree to, in the same way Kuala Lumpur will never accept a breakaway Sabah.
Japan is getting a wee antsy over an increasingly powerful China, on whom it had inflicted untold atrocities during WWII. Maybe it’s worried that the Chinese may demand payback one day, at least in kind, perhaps like getting the Japanese Emperor to kowtow on his knees at Nanjing? Japan is working closely with the USA to co-opt India into an anti-Chinese alliance. We need to see how seduced India has been by the USA. Meanwhile a more assertive Russia is attempting a superpower comeback via its increased and improved nuclear arms as it becomes nauseated with an arrogant USA. The Americans just cannot handle its sole superpower status - opportunity lost!
While countless zillions have been and are spent on destructive arms and war, millions die slowly of hunger in Africa. I am personally satisfied I have contributed monthly to World Vision and a smaller sum to the Red Cross for Darfur. In 2006 I aim to double my Darfur contribution. I invite you dear readers to chip in that odd dollar or so. You will (not just 'may') save lives.
There you are, dear readers, a reasonably short summarisation and forecast. Happy New Year and may all of you be safe.
Now, Human Rights Commission chairman Abu Talib Othman who was once our top government legal eagle said that the civil court has not done its duty.
Abu Talib said the civil court should not have taken the easy way out by avoiding the hard call in Moorthy’s case by merely ruling that, since the late man was deemed a Muslim covert by the Syariah court, his case came under the latter's jurisdiction. Hear! Hear! Tan Sri!
He stated that the civil court ought to have examined the constitutionality of whether all matters relating to Islam should be handled by the Syariah court. He emphasized that only the civil court may decide on constitutional matters.
Abu Talib lamented that unfortunately the Appellate Court refrained from meeting its obligation. As one other reader Maobi wrote in my posting Tottering Tower of the Moorthy Saga, “In every case its been Muslim judges making the calls while a sword of eternal damnation hangs over their heads. Of course they will ask the law to bend over and take it up the bum.” Adoi! (Ouch!)
Abu Talib Othman said: “I think this is a constitutional issue. The individual has the right to choose his or her own religion. Once the person has embraced Islam, he has to act in accordance to the tenets of the religion. Otherwise, there is no meaning or commitment to his conversion.”
“Islam is a religion practised according to hukum syarak and the competent person to decide on Islamic matters is the Syariah court.”
“But in this case, the civil court should have considered the constitutionality of the amendment to the Federal Constitution, which was presented by the Government and passed by Parliament, and decide whether it is constitutional or not. Because in the matter of constitutionality, the civil court is competent.”
“Moorthy’s widow should have sought a ruling on the constitutionality of the law.”
“The Federal Constitution has clearly stated that any case must be dealt with by a court of competent jurisdiction. You cannot have a judge who has not professed to Islam to determine what’s wrong or not wrong in the case of Moorthy”, to which he added that the civil court could have co-opted an expert well-versed in hukum syarak to give evidence.
But it has to be the civil court who decides on matters constitutional.
The Indons Islamist militants have been threatening to launch a wave of bombing at churches during Christmas. Instead they have now resorted to pork stalls.
Palu lies in the Poso region where one month ago Islamic militants beheaded 3 teenage schoolgirls.
(1) JI Responsible for Teenage Beheading?
(2) Beheading of Teenage Girls - 5 Suspects
Dr Zahi Hawass, the chairman of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the body responsible for the Giza site, virtually told the expedition to bugger off. He just wasn’t going to permit any draping of the pyramid.
Now, many of you may not be familiar with Dr Hawass but he’s nothing less than Mr Guardian of Ancient Egypt himself. I have seen him several times on TV. He’s a very assertive extroversive bloke and rules his portfolio seriously, and may god or Amen-Ra forgives those Egyptologists if they cross him.
The Western Egyptologists and archaeologists who are interested in digs in Egypt are damn shit-scared of this bloke because he is the principal key to their ability to operate in Egypt on ancient historical sites.
I read in a weekend magazine how one Western lady Egyptologist virtually had her career finished off because Dr Hawass blocked her from any further access to sites of ancient Egypt. She was supposed to let Dr Hawass view and approve her article before she published or go to air on it, but because she had a commercial contract with a TV station for a documentary, she ignored that conditions for her access to the ancient sites and went ahead on air. Dr Hawass wasn’t impressed with her breach of the agreement and he’s not the sort of person one crosses.
Dr Hawass takes no shit from any Western Egyptologists or archaeologists. He’s also sick of the West stealing stuff from Egypt (eg. like the Englishman Howard Carter) and displaying them as if those antiques belong to them, or making a mockery out of ancient Egyptian culture, by positing for example that the pyramids or Sphinx were built by an alien civilisation (the last explains why he wants to vet any poublication or broadcast).
Recently he has told Germany and Britain to bloody respectively return the 3000 year old bust of Nefertiti and the Rosetta Stone which were looted from Egypt.
As we all know, Britain during its hey-days looted a lot of items from around the world, precious national treasures like the Parthenon Elgin marbles, which Greece bloody wants back, and the Egyptian Rosetta Stone, mummies, and artifacts pilfered from their former colonies or invaded countries, like Egypt, Iraq, India, China, Burma, Afghanistan etc.
So far, Britain, with the typical thick skin of a invader-looter, has refused to return those stolen items. It claims that the antiques would be better placed in Britain to allow people from all over the world to see it (what brazen shameless cheek!), but the true reason is that their museums would be almost emptied, both of artifacts and visitors, if they return all the stolen stuff. Britain has very few indigenous artifacts of note, and their museums depend largely on items pilfered during its colonial conquering days to attract visitors.
The Rosetta Stone is probably the most important artifact in Egyptology, even more so than Tutankhamen’s treasure trove, for without it, the world wouldn’t know how to read Egyptian hieroglyphs and understand most of Egypt’s ancient history.
Hawass, true to his zealous guarding of ancient Egypt, said he won’t allow anyone to exploit the Great Pyramid. He killed off the Towering Malaysian expedition by saying “Why should I allow them to drape it?”
Indeed. I am only surprise that the Malaysian team hasn't made any application to the Egyptians before annoucing their bizarre grandstanding expedition. However, not to worry, the team can still carry on with the second part of the mission, visiting several mosques and historical sites in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That's why they will be accompanied by 2 ministers.
Or, they could adopt KTemoc’s suggestion to go to Darfur and set up a medical cum meals centre for those poor war refugees.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Here is the ultimate Anglo-Franco-American union. Visualise a ménage à trois involving Queen Elizabeth II, President Chirac and President Bush in Austria – note, not Australia. This puts a whole new meaning to Summit Meeting.
The furor it has created in diplomatic circles and all over Europe has now resulted in the billboard posters, supposedly part of a series called euroPART and created by artists from all 25 member countries of the EU, being removed from all over Austria. The posters were meant to, get this, "reflect on the different social, historical and political developments in Europe". The Austrian Chancellor has expressed his outrage and the artists have agreed to remove them.
I heard them sniggling ;-)
Observers reckon that the civil war will resume pretty soon. There has been a ceasefire since 2002, brokered by Norway. Sri Lanka authorities have blamed the Tigers for continuously violating the ceasefire in attacks that have killed 45 government soldiers just this month.
The Tigers have fought the Sri Lanka government for more than 20 years in an effort to secure a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, because of alleged discrimination by the native Sinhalese. The war has already caused 65,000 lives including that of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India, who was killed by a female Tamil tiger suicide bomber.
I reckon the Tigers were the insurgents that developed suicide bombing into a fine murderous art. This tactic was adopted by the Palestinians and Iraqis. It has now come full circle with the Tigers now adopting an Iraqi insurgent tactic – that of roadside bombs that have killed hundreds of American troops in Iraq.
According to al Jazeera, the widow of the late M Moorthy, Kaliammal Sinnasamy, said her husband didn’t mention one single word of his purported conversion to her or relatives. She said that Moorthy remained a Hindu because he ate pork, drank liquor and took part in Hindu festivals. These are activities forbidden by Islam.
The legal outcome of Moorthy's case has worried the hell out of non-Muslims Malaysian because even the civil court has been reluctant to touch on anything that the Syariah court has made a ruling, regardless of whether the latter had the jurisdiction to do so. The Moorthy’s case has not been the first time the Malaysian civil courts defer automatically to its Islamic counterpart.
Anything with a tinge of Islamic involvement in Malaysia is ultra sensitive regardless of whether the issue infringes on the supremacy of constitutional rights. Those in positions to legally pontificate or politically comment would, as the Malaysians say, ‘act don’t-know’ (remain silent by pretending to be oblivious to what's going on). Gone are the days of people like Justice Raja Azlan Shah who dared to speak out without fear or favour.
Such an affair of great public interest that has already seriously infringed on the constitutional rights of Malaysia's citizens hasn’t even yet evoked a single comment from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or the Attorney General. The only minister with the gonads to say something sensible and fair appears to be Nazri Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
Then, Nazri Aziz has always been vocal, either lambasting the Police for condoning one of its cops to intimidate a whistle blower through a libel suit, or in a less praiseworthy role in demanding women BN senators passed the Islamic family Law bill which will be very much against women’s interests. I guess one has to take Nazri Aziz with all his good and his bad roles.
Nazri agrees with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism that in such cases where a man’s religion has yet to be determined, it ought to be the civil courts, and not the Syariah courts, who should preside over the ruling. He said:
"Put it this way: When a person’s faith is in question, the civil court should be allowed to hear it. Let evidence from both sides be produced. But if a person is a confirmed Muslim without dispute, then it goes to the Syariah Court; there is nothing else to be done."
"The question in Moorthy’s case was whether he was indeed a Muslim in the first place. If we let the Muslim court decide this, justice might not be served because it would decide in favour of Islam."
Exactly what KTemoc said yesterday in my posting Climber left widow an emotional Everest to surmount.
R. Thiagaraja, the secretary-general of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism, said:
"If what happened to Moorthy's family happens to other Hindus, or to Christian and Buddhist families, then national unity will suffer because the non-Muslims will feel they have no protection. It's wrong for the Shariah court to assume jurisdiction in cases that affect non-Muslims."
What many may not realize is that Moorthy’s wife could not represent her case in a Syariah court because she is not a Muslim, and with the Civil court refusing to hear her evidence, she has been seemingly abandoned by Malaysia’s judiciary system. It's a damning shame on Malaysia's legal system!
The Syariah court naturally relied only on the presentation of Moorthy’s former military colleagues, which with that approach, inevitably made Moorthy a Muslim. Moorthy’s relatives wanted to prove how he had before falling into a coma, participated in Hindu religious ceremonies and drunk alcohol. But most evidential of all, Moorthy had even been interviewed by local television two months ago about his preparations for the Hindu festival of Deepavali (Diwali). How more Hindu did he need to be?
Moorthy's remains had been fought over with such vigour by the Islamic council partly because he had been a high profile personality in Malaysia, virtually a hero in a country which look for heros and even creates them. He was a member of the highly publicized Malaysian expedition to Mount Everest in 1997.
The struggle over the remains of a Malaysian hero reminds KTemoc of another case where there was a totally unfounded rumour that Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, had converted to Islam because he heard the azaan, or Muslim call to prayer on the moon. Armstrong came out to reject that rumour.
This article written by Zafar Bangash, the Director of the Canadian based Institute for Contemporary Islamic Thoughts, talks about Muslim obsession with celebrity Islam.
The world knew that Pakistan and Afghanistan, then under the Taliban, had an alliance which was at the heart of Pakistan’s strategic war plans against India over Kashmir. Kashmir remains Pakistan’s obsession, and quite frankly, I have sympathies for the Paki case as Kashmir then had a Muslim majority population which made it rightfully a state that should have been allocated to Pakistan when British India separated into an independent India and an Islamic Pakistan. India had seized Janagadh and Hyderbad for precisely the same reason that Pakistan wants Jammu-Kashmir.
Pakistan and India had already fought three wars over Kashmir. Pakistani experience indicates that fighting against an India several times bigger in every aspects - population, resources, land, armed forces, etc - requires her to have strategic space, to trade for time, if necessary.
What this means is that should India overwhelm Pakistan by virtue of the former’s size and force, Pakistan could retreat into Afghanistan and regroup for a counterattack or conduct guerrilla warfare from.
Afghanistan provides four things attractive to Pakistan – namely, space in depth, kinfolk relationship (Pashtuns), similar Islamic doctrine and human resources. That has been why Pakistan was closely allied to the Taliban.
Even today, the majority of the Pakistani security forces and people still support the Taliban struggle. There are of course slightly different priorities between the armed forces and the Pakistani people, with the former keeping more of a strategic eye on Kashmir while the latter have lots of sympathy for its Islamic brethren.
I have blogged on the above before but it is necessary to refresh ourselves with the Pakistani concerns about Kashmir to put this posting into context.
Let’s examine the former, the Pakistani armed forces. They know that the US will eventually lose interest in the Afghanistan War, unless of course large reserves of oil are discovered. So, while the strategy is to recover Kashmir (or more correctly, India Kashmir) the tactic is to keep Uncle Sam at bay by pretending to play the good anti-terrorist regime.
What the Pakis have done to show the US it is an ally has been to round up many thousands of 'suspects' most of whom had nothing to do with terrorism but were simply there to make up the numbers to be surrendered to the Americans, either directly or via the Egyptians. Note how useful the word 'suspect' is! The American military made frequent use of this word in Iraq and Afghanistan to explain why they dropped bombs on villages killing innocent people. Yes, two can play at the same game.
By handing over large groups of 'suspects' the Pakis could show the Americans they have been enthusiastic in the anti-terrorist war without actually surrndering the Taliban. Such rounding up of 'suspects' usually increased in tempo whenever President Musharraf was going overseas to a Western nation.
Innocents were bundled off to Guantanamo Bay, the notorious US Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or by extraordinary rendition to Egypt and other American sponsored venues to suffer torture and interrogation, before the US found out after their nth screams that the majority of those poor blokes had nothing to do with terrorism.
Canadian Abdullah Khadr, Dutch Sajeel Shahid, Adil Shahid and Sohail Shahid and an Australian, Mahmoud Habib were among those innocent bystanders unfortunate enough (down on their @r$e-luck) to be sacrificed by the Pakistani military before they were eventually released by the Americans.
The US military have now finally realised that their Pakistani 'ally' had been playing them out. The Pakistani militray weren’t quite ready to hand over their real brethrens, the Taliban.
(1) The True Obsession of Pakistan!
(2) Pakistan & Osama Playing Footsie?
(3) Pakistan - America's Afghan Problem
(4) Pakistan - Each Foot on a Different Boat!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I am a bit confused over the case of Everest climber M Moorthy, who passed away recently. The problem of his burial became an issue because of his religion, where his widow insisted that he had remained a Hindu while his brother and friends claimed he had converted to Islam. BTW, his brother is a Muslim convert. Prior to his death he was paralysed and in a coma and naturally couldn’t provide final instructions.
Naturally the widow took the case to court, where the Appellate and Special Powers High Court has ruled that it will not disturb the Syariah Court declaration the late Moorthy was a Muslim at the time of his death. The Appellate Court said that it doesn’t have the power to make a judicial review on the Syariah Court order, nor to ignore or nullify it.
That’s fine and straightforward. But wouldn’t that ruling be dependent on the late Moorthy being confirmed as a Muslim first? But how could he be confirmed if the Civil court said they won’t? That’s where my confusion lies. Surely we must remember that the Syariah court may only decide on matters that involve a Muslim, and not a non-Muslim as the widow has challenged.
My query is, shouldn’t the Syariah court only have jurisdiction over the Moorthy case when it has been proven that the late Moorthy was a Muslim. That's all the family wanted. And that's why they went to the Civil court.
And shouldn’t the Syariah court itself say exactly what the Appellate court declared, that it doesn’t have the power to make a judicial decision on a case where the man’s religion is still in doubt, and thus a civil case to be decided by a Civil court?
The widow took that query to the Civil court for a decision – was Moorthy a Hindu or a Muslim based on evidence? But the Civil court has basically said it won't decide because it has already been decided by the Syariah court. We are backed to square one!
This reminds me of another case involving cross religious jurisdiction. Some years ago, a young Chinese Malaysian girl of non-Muslim faith, aged around 13 and therefore still a ‘minor’, ran off with her Malay (and thus Muslim) teacher. I believe they scooted off to Kelantan where she converted to Islam. I can’t recall whether the police was involved but we may safely assume they weren’t or didn’t want to because the parents had to take the issue to court.
Yes, the outraged parents had to take the case to the civil court about their ‘minor’ daughter, because everywhere they turned to for recourse they met a blank wall. Many thought the case was straightforward where an adult had unduly influenced and even abducted a ‘minor’ who due to her immature age had converted to a different religion without a full understanding of the implications and her responsibilities. Basically, she should be returned to the care of her parents until she reached adulthood.
But the shocked parents were told by the Civil court that they couldn’t do anything because she had converted to Islam and the matter was under the jurisdiction of the Syariah court. Case closed!
Of course words got fairly ugly with many Chinese condemning the underaged and underhanded proselytization as an act of robbing the cradle, and they had very very nasty words about the court’s deferring to the Syariah court on a matter involving a non-Muslim 'minor'. As far as they were concerned, her conversion to the Islamic faith was both legally and morally questionable given her tender age. But they were utterly shocked by the Civil court's inability to see that.
Back to the Moorthy's case, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism feels very disturbed by the Civil court’s ruling. It considers the Civil court’s refusal to hear the facts that the plaintiff (Moorthy’s widow) wanted to present to the court as a serious crisis for non-Muslims because like Moorthy's widow, they would seemingly now be denied legal remedy on such cross religious complications.
They have formed the frightening impression that once the Syariah court choose to make a ruling, that ruling becomes legally paramount and unquestionable, even for non-Muslims, regardless of what facts they may want to present to the Civil court. Thus, many non-Muslim Malaysians found it very hard to accept the Appellate court’s decision, and let me tell you, that's putting it very mildly.
Since the Civil court has refused to make a ruling, the Council called on the Prime Minister and relevant parties to look into what is basically a constitutional matter, namely the jurisdiction to determine the validity of conversions into and out of Islam be codified as vested in the High Court where all Malaysians can be parties and have equal rights as witnesses.
One of Mrs Moorthy’s lawyers A. Sivanesan echoed the Council's observations: “This decision is a setback for non-Muslims. It looks like there is absolutely no remedy in any court.”
Her other lawyer showed the degree of frustration he must felt by sniping sarcastically: “We Hindus believe whatever decision by the court is just in the world. The ultimate decision is by God.’’
For another cross religious case, please peruse Jeff Ooi's Screenshots posting on the Shamala Sathyaseelan story.
Rather, it claims to be a response to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s call to the nation to produce 'towering Malaysians'. Next year 35 Malaysians will be going to Egypt in an attempt to cover the Great Pyramid of Giza with a giant national flag and those of the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
It’s a RM 200,000 expedition, funded by this and that ministry, basically public money. Of course 2 Cabinet ministers will join the fantastic expedition to the Land of the 2 Niles. And the event will naturally be logged in the Malaysia Book of Records.
The mission has been assigned the distinguished title of 'Malaysian Peace Mission' and has the additional task of promoting the country and showing strong support for the Prime Minister, who as OIC chairman intends to uphold the dignity and image of Muslim nations.
I think we are in trouble if the objective of the expedition is supposed to demonstrate Towering Malaysians in action. Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost track of values. Mind you, this sort of jolly can serve to opiate the dissatisfied rakyat (people) - perhaps that may be the true aim.
I would have love to read the objectives of the expedition proposed as follows:
“It claims to be a response to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s call to the nation to produce 'towering Malaysians'. Next year 35 Malaysians will be going to Darfur in Sudan to operate a medical cum aid centre for war refugees. They aim to fly our national flag and those of the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) proudly over the Malaysian run refugee centre.”
“The mission has been assigned the distinguished title of 'Malaysian Peace Mission' and has the task of demonstrating the country's compassion and humanitarian values in real terms, and at the same time, showing strong support for the Prime Minister, who as OIC chairman intends to uphold the dignity, image and compassion of Muslim nations.”
But I suppose that's just too much to expect!
Then, given that it won't be a jolly, the following would probably appear:
"Two Cabinet ministers will see the team off at the airport. They lamented their inability to accompany the team to Darfur due to their heavy parliamentary schedule."
I have always love fragrant Thai jasmine rice or grainy Basmati, but I love the former better. Goes damn well with a jolly hot curry, maybe a scorching beef Vindaloo, with deep fried tumeric-marinated chicken, papadum, mint cucumber and pineapple, and chutney, and wash all down with long cold beer, or several (beers, that is)!
Well, Thai scientists have discovered the gene responsible for making the jasmine rice aromatic. But before we can say, “please, can have a look-see lah” , those Thais have wisely taken out a patent to protect the know-how from rival rice producing nations, including Australia.
Dr Apichart Wannavijitr, the leader of Thailand's rice genome project, says that there is a genetic mutation responsible for the fragrant aroma of jasmine rice. And to prove that point, they have ‘converted’ non-fragrant Japanese rice into fragrant rice. The technique may also be applied to improve other crops including wheat, corn and soybeans.
Australian researchers have since repeated the feat but tough luck, it’s patented. But the Thais are happy to license other producers.
Truly Towering Thais. Incidentally I have a hopeless mango tree that fruits hugh but tasteless and odorless mango - I think it's called apple mango. Hmm, maybe if ........
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Howard is of course a long serving and extremely experienced Aussie politician. Hang on, I know what you must be yelling to me, but I have a reason of not introducing Howard as he is today, yet!
For years John Howard had tried to be Australia’s Prime Minister but many factors worked against him - (1) there was the incumbent, Labour Party’s popular and charismatic Bob Hawke, (2) his own Liberal Party colleague and rival Andrew Peacock was against him until the latter was about to retire, and (3) an Australian political campaign known as Joh-for-PM effectively torpedoed his prime ministerial aspirations. Thus Howard failed time and time again.
When the Aussie media asked him if he would make a comeback, to have another stab at his prime ministerial aspiration, he declared that would be like Lazarus having a triple bypass. Well, in Australia politics, Lazarus did rise for the fourth time and today John Howard has served as the longest and probably most powerful PM of Australia ever.
Once a politician has tasted power at the very top, like John Howard or Anwar Ibrahim, he just can’t tear himself away from that position. Anwar Ibrahim knows that the only way to reach the top has to be via UMNO.
I have read his answers to Malaysiakini’s questions in an interview but despite his declaration not to return to UMNO, I discern verbal loopholes allowing such a comeback. For a start, he over-qualifies his position with regards to UMNO (or, if you like, he over-qualifies UMNO), which is just a form of tap dancing. And he did so around the questions skilfully as a politician with his oratorical skill could.
Just recall how his interview with Lorraine Hahn of CNN went. I have reproduced a relevant extract as follows:
Lorraine: Would you like to one day become PM of Malaysia?
Anwar: I’ve only been out for a few weeks and I think I will have to consider all the options. My immediate preoccupation now is to transcend partisan politics. My major priority now is to help support this process. This building bridges and engaging with all cultures and religions. That to me is more urgent than this issue you’re considering.
Lorraine: But you’re not ruling it out.
Anwar: I wouldn’t rule out anything. But right now, and even in the foreesseable future, my immediate priority has been clear
Notice his tap dancing? Once a top politician, that aspiration and need to be No 1 will always be there.
Expect him to return to UMNO when, not if, the occasion arises.
His answers to the interviewer's questions contain the correct amount of assertiveness. I have reproduced a very short extract. You can read the full interview here. I have to admit that, much as I don't favour religious based parties like Hamas, I do find, within a wider Palestinian context, some sympathies with his answers.
Q: Will Hamas ever contemplate recognising Israel?
A: Will Israel ever contemplate recognising Palestine?
Q: But Hamas is dedicated to Israel's destruction.
A: Isn't Israel also dedicated to Palestine's destruction? Who is occupying whose land? Who is tormenting and brutalising the other? Who has expelled millions of innocent people from their ancestral land, Hamas or Israel?
Indeed, who is occupying whose land? Who has expelled millions of innocent people from their ancestral land, Hamas or Israel?
Hamas is of course listed as a terrorist organization in many Western nations, in the same way that former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and his Irgun were listed as terrorists.
Menachem Begin was a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1978, which was a real joke considering his past, and to prove that indeed his award was farcical, in 1982 he ordered the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and bombed the living daylights of West Beirut, with the quiet concurrence of the USA. Nobel Peace Prize winner eh?
His brutalities were so repulsive that it moved a Holocaust survivor, Dr Shlomo Shmelzman, to pen a letter to the Israeli media that stated:
In my childhood I have suffered fear, hunger and humiliation when I passed from the Warsaw Ghetto, through labour camps, to Buchenwald. Today, as a citizen of Israel, I cannot accept the systematic destruction of cities, towns and refugee camps. I cannot accept the technocratic cruelty of the bombing, destroying and killing of human beings.
I hear too many familiar sounds today, sounds which are being amplified by the war. I hear “dirty Arabs” and I remember “dirty Jews”. I hear about “closed areas” and I remember ghettos and camps. I hear “two-legged beasts” and I
remember “Untermenschen” (subhumans). I hear about tightening the siege, clearing the area, pounding the city into submission and I remember suffering, destruction, death, blood and murder ... Too many things in Israel remind me of
too many things from my childhood.
As I mentioned several times over, today's Israel, especially its leaders like Ariel Sharon and Uzi Cohen, behave exactly like Nazi SS generals. Their behaviour towards the Palestinians are Gestapo like. They favour and have borrowed heinous Nazi SS tactics such as collateral and group punishments, rocketing and machine-gunning suspected enemies regardless of innocent civilians nearby, and destroying homes of Palestinians for no crime other than being related to an insurgent.
Menachem Begin was also the prime minister during the Sabra & Shatila maasacre, Israel's My Lai.
So what's the difference between Hamas and Likud, other than the latter being favoured by the Americans and some of the Western nations.
Heil Uzi Cohen! Sieg Heil!
However, it is well known that the Americans (and Israelis behind-the-scene) favour the non-Arab Kurds. The US military authority has been directly fostering the growth, training and arming of the Kurdish peshmerga until that militant group now forms an inevitable large component of the new Iraqi military and police. The US aim has been to use the non-Arab and pro-US (and Israel) peshmerga against Sunni militants.
On the political front the majority Shiites have combined with the Kurds to again marginalise the Sunnis, allocating 12 top positions in the new government to the Kurds. Both Shiites and Kurds have (naturally) agreed to reject accusations of widespread fraud in the recent elections, where the so-called Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, controlled by Shiites and Kurds, were in a number of cases themselves guilty of fraud.
This can only mean one thing – the continuation of the current civil war (insurgency to the alien US) that has already started, as I have blogged in a much earlier posting.
The neighbouring Sunni states, particularly Saudi Arabia, will undoubtedly want the Iraqi Sunnis to re-acquire its influence and prevent a Shiite encroachment into hitherto Sunni dominated region. Whether the civil war manifests into a conventional model or as an extension of the current insurgency, the Arab Sunni States will be the source of aid to the Iraqi Sunni fighters, who will be supported by volunteer fighters from Sunni States like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, etc
The Kurds being non-Arabs are also viewed with great suspicions as it could be an Israeli Trojan horse. Besides, Turkey will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan. Obviously in any Balkanisation of Iraq, the regional interferences or input will be escalated. We may see Iran (for Shiites), Turkey (against Kurdistan), Israel (for Kurdistan) and the neighbouring Sunni nations providing military aid and launching pads for the insurgents.
And the USA will be placing its bets on several horses at the same time as it did during the Iraq-Iran War.
(1) al-Muqawama al-Sharifah - The Honorable Resistance
(2) Sunni Worries over Iraq
(3) Iraq - Civil War is inevitable
(4) Civil War in Iraq Begins
(5) American Recipe for Chaos
(6) Iraq's Constitutional Battle May Lead to Civil War
One soldier, Leonard Clark, was demoted to Private in July when he wrote on his blog that his company's commander as a ‘glory seeker’ [Ktemoc has met people like that] and the battalion sergeant major an ‘inhuman monster’. He was alos punished for publishing sensitive information like incidents under investigation or names of servicemen killed or wounded.
But the one that must have pissed the brass off was his last entry, detailing how his mates were becoming opposed to the US operation in Iraq.
Sergeant Elizabeth Le Bel, who has since left the army and is now safely in the USA recalled her experience of being in a lorry hit by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad. Such news would normally be released to the media by the military authorities in a couple of clinically cleansed and terse sentences, but Le Bel wrote [she still maintains her blogsite www.sgtlizzie.blogspot.com]:
"I started to scream bloody murder, and one of the other females on the convoy came over, grabbed my hand and started to calm me down. She held on to me, allowing me to place my leg on her shoulder as it was hanging free. I learned the truck driver had not made it through …"
Mark Kraft of Livejournal, a web journalist who was the first to reveal that US troops had used white phosphorous to attack insurgents in Falluja admitted he obtained his information from US soldier bloggers in Iraq. Kraft said that subsequently one of his sources had been threatened, demoted and told not to maintain a blog or read or reply to any others.
KTemoc reckons the Pentagon is very worried that the uncensored recollections of soldiers personal experiences and their emotional expression may sway public opinions in the USA to demand an end to the US presence in Iraq, in the same way as the American media had swayed public opinions to withdraw from Vietnam.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Israel is actually violating President Bush’s road map with impunity, yet the US embassy spokesmen in Israel took the occasion not to be available to comment on Israel’s recalcitrant violations.
Had it been Hamas or the PLO, the White House would already be condemning the Palestinians. The consequences of the US closing an eye to Israeli oppression and robbery are obvious – there won’t be peace for both Israelis and Palestinians as long as there is such a lopsided and unchecked injustice.
And the company has a cheek to say its 1 Euro sale of a motorcycle company was not expected to have any effect on earnings.
In this posting I will start off with one – the identification of the dead. Thailand suffered a large number of European tourists among its victims, over 2000 of the 5000 killed. The Europeans wanted positive identification rather than immediate mass burial, for emotional closure. Thus the foreign authorities leaned on Australia to take the lead in the forensic identification process.
Australia with its gruesome experience attained during the Bali bombings could provide the specialists to track, trace, record and identify as best as possible the remains of the tsunami victim, most of whom were already in stages of decomposition.
Fortunately the Thais gave the management of the task over to the Aussies. This was an example when commonsense triumphed over nationalistic pride.
Aussie federal police chief, highly respected Mike Keelty commented that he had never ever in his career come across such a staggering number of deaths so the task was certainly monumental. The task required him to manage 5000 bodies in various stages of decomposition while in Bali he had less than 200 killed.
The first task of the Aussies was to secure refrigeration units, which was sourced from the USA. Those came within 3 days, and they still function until today where about 900 corpses remain to be yet identified. Over 90% of the killed foreign tourists have already been identified, only because they have fingerprints and dental records. The team comprised all the forensic experts from dentists to fingerprints experts to those with the unpleasant task of handling the corpses, which were all done with great sensitivity. The Thai government did well to provide logistic support.
The Aussie police, whose duty over in southern Thailand will soon come to a close, express their concerns that many of the remaining corpses may never be identified because some of them could well be Burmese illegal immigrants whose absence were not reported while many were locals who don’t have any form of dental or ID records.
I say well done to the police forensic team for helping many to bring their sorrow to the desired closure.
Monday, December 26, 2005
19 terrorists flew into 3 buildings - the Twin Towers and Pentagon. One other airline was shot down by the USAF (analysed from the trail of debris) though the Americans claimed that the aircraft crashed because of the heoric struggle of some passengers - I suppose that sounded better to the families of the victims
15 of the 19 terrorists were identified as Saudis. the other 4 were Egyptians.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly presented a paper averring he possessed proof that al Qaeda was responsible. Colin Powell and other US officials had promised on September 23 that the US would present a paper containing such evidence. However, the US paper was never released.
Blair claimed that one of bin Laden's closest lieutenants said he helped with the planning of the September 11 attacks, admitting the involvement of the al Qaeda. Blair went on to say he had other more telling intelligence which he couldn't then disclose. Since then, there was never ever any confirmation or details of Blair's claims.
One month later - November 2001
After the US invaded Afghanistan, the "proof" that Blair asserted he saw or had one month earlier was miraculously found by US forces in a videotape from a destroyed house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
The tape showed Osama bin Laden talking to Khaled al-Harbi, admitting to planning the attacks. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Osama had denied responsibility for the attacks, not once but twice. A proud terrorist responsible for many attacks on American assets, he was hardly shy about claiming responsibility.
The Muslim world questioned the autheticity of the tape. BBC's Middle East correspondent, Frank Gardner said that many in the Arab world believed the tape was a fake, a cover up gimmick dreamed up by the US administration.
KTemoc couldn't help but note that Blair had averred he possesed proof which was never ever confirmed, and the Americans especially Colin Powell shied away from an earlier and similar promise to reveal the same evidence in late September 2003. The tape discovered in Afghanistan ONE MONTH AFTER Blair's claims became the ONLY evidence of sorts attributing responsibility to Osama bin Laden.
KTemoc also wonders what if 15 of the attackers were Iraqis?
KTemoc also wonders what if 15 of the attackers were Iranians?
KTemoc also wonders what if 15 of the attackers were Syrians?
But blast! - they had to be Saudis!
KTemoc also wonders what if the other 4 attackers were Iraqis?
KTemoc also wonders what if the other 4 attackers were Iranians?
KTemoc also wonders what if the other 4 attackers were Syrians?
But blast! - they had to be Egyptians!
Who would be the best scapegoat without implicating the Saudi government?
Officially the worst affected nation was Indonesia. Its province of Aceh in nothern Sumatra suffered approxinately 450,000 although the official figures could never be correctly estimated for the reason that many countless thousands were swept into the seas. A rough extent of its death toll could be seen in its collection of around 500 corpses per day even as lare as February 2005. That macabre figure was then expected to be maintained until at least the middle of the year, or even longer.
Unofficially I reckoned India suffered the worst in terms of death toll. As many as 1 million of its people were thought to have perished. Its tsunami victims, like Indonesia's, included hundreds of thousands of unregistered and thus nameless inhabitants on its east coast, where complete villages disappeared from the face of the earth. Many were vagrants and the homeless.
In its Andaman Islands, which suffered the earliest casualties, an entire air force base and its residents were totalled. Again India refused to come out officially with the true estimates but experts suspected that the figures had been very high. There was virtually no warning available to the Andaman Islanders.
There was a TV documentary recently that indicated the Andaman aborigines had escaped the worst of the tsunami by moving on to higher grounds just prior to the devastation because of a primordial instinct for nature's calamity.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, India chose to grandstand by sending a flotilla of warships to lend aid to other affected countries when it could ill afford to do that. Initially it had proudly refused international aid but had to eat crow subsequently and accepted same. Such was the foolish pride that a status-conscious India had indulged in.
One year later in Sumatra, Aceh still requires much re-development. A mixture of mindless bureaucracy, inter-ethnic and xenophobic suspicions, and an insurgency problem has held back the physical re-habilitation of its residents. A major portion of the aid remains yet to be fruitfully utilised. Some significant portion of Australia's 1 billion dollar aid to the tsunami affected area are now slated for development work in other parts of Indonesia.
In Sri Lanka the exact same problems of bureaucracy, inter-ethnic and xenophobic suspicions, and an insurgency problem exists. India of course remains silent about the rehabilitation of its victims.
While Malaysia was affected in Penang and parts of Kedah, our losses, though monumental to the families of the victims were relatively, I stress 'relatively', light.
The significantly affected nation that did best in recovering has been Thailand. It has almost re-developed its affected areas in stark contrast to places like Aceh or Sri Lanka, and it didn't require foreign aid. It is a tribute to the dynamism of its government as well as the resilence of its people. I had hoped it would use the opportunity to include the Muslim segment of its southern population in the rehabilitation of the area. Now, it has an additional challenge, of rehabilitating the current flood-affected areas.
One of the most disturbing mindset that came to notice out of this human tragedy has been the religious factor.
Indonesian Muslims feared and still fear overseas Christians exploiting the circumstances to proselytise their Muslim citizens in Aceh, Fundamentalist Muslim groups have threatened western aid workers, wanting them expelled from an Aceh that is still significantly un-re-developed. They are more concerned about their control of their parish than its welfare.
Meanwhile on the other side of the coin, I know of one minor Christian group in Australia who was concerned that its donations were not going to Christians in the affected nations. It then held back half of the collected donations, with a plan to build a church with that in the victim's locality.
While spiritual congregation would be well and good, the urgent need then was for medicine, shelter, clean drinking water and food. Holding back donations that could have help relieve the dire needs of the victims just to build a house of God in reality did God no honour nor show of compassion. The souls of the victims might have been superficially saved but their earthly lives were threatened by those religiously motivated holdbacks.
The same attitude prevailed among some Muslims in a couple of countries. Donations collected was meant only for Muslim victims. Some Arabs even condemned the victims as deserving of Allah's wrath for their sins, and in similar fashion as the Christian case, did Allah no honour. In fact those sanctimous charlatans daringly usurped Allah's almighty prerogative of divine judgement.
Mind you, other ethnic groups, some in Australia, collecting materials and monies for the tsunami victims behaved in likewise fashion - they collected only for their ethnic kinfolks.
The tsunami brought out the best of human traits in mankind, while religion in a few cases brought out the worst.
In Penang, Chinese-Buddhist groups collected and distributed aid to families of Malay fishermen affected by the tsunami. Those Malays who received such aid were moved to sarcastically remarked of government officials, "Those Chinese didn't check whether we were UMNO or PKR supporters before they provided the aid."
Apart from those generous private contributions, KTemoc, speaking as a non-Christian, must praise the Christian nations most for their incredible response. The Europeans and Aussies have been magnificent. The Japanese, Chinese, Russians and others including American citizens were equally generous. The worst were the rich Gulf Arab nations even though they did cough up eventually (and grudingly), principally because their own press harrassed them.
The men in blue came out in force magnificently to ensure a great Aussie tradition continues, albeit in a slightly diminished participation and with more ‘joyous’ restraint as the police banned alcohol from the beaches – a most wise step. But the beaches were alive with sound of revellers - apologies to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for paraphasing one of their lines.
A hugh thanks to the police and other emergency services including and especially the fantastic fire services for their services during the holiday season.
In that same posting I had also queried Prime Minister’s John Howard’s unnecessary, questionable and rather provocative call one week before Christmas for departmental stores and schools to return to a more Christian tradition by depicting biblical nativity scenes and the Christmas tree. He demanded that Christians reject the contemptuous cultural cringe of fearing to offend minority religions.
Well, his so-called “concerns” were totally unjustified. Nativity scenes abounded and so did the German-originated practice of putting up Christmas tree – one even went up in my non-Christian sister’s house.
As for cultural cringe, Australian-wide TV broadcasts of Carols by Candlelight and Carols in the Domain continued as scheduled this year as they had been for decades.
These plus the Meyers and David Jones departmental stores and indeed the Uniting Church's repudiation of Howard's provocative allegation showed Howard might have been 'playing to the electoral gallery'.
It may be also interesting to note that during that period John Howard’s government faced enormous embarrassment for two of its appointees to very important government’s positions, namely businessman Robert Gerald to the Aussie Reserve Bank board and Professor Ian Harper to the Fair Pay Commission.
Due to the controversies, Gerald has resigned from the Reserve Bank board.
The Howard government has also been losing support because of its new but very unpopular Industrial Relations law. Matters didn't improve when the public learnt that the Treasurer had already received a report from his own Treasury, prior to the new laws, that low income earners would be worse off under the new laws, contrary to what the Howard governmenet had promised.
John Howard has been known to throw provocative red herrings on a number of occasions, which aimed at marshalling back slipping support for his government.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
If you can't read the words in the dialogue-bubble it says "Nice one, Harry, and how are you going to explain this to the kids???"
Many Malaysians and Thais have been affected by the floods and now must endure less fortunate circumstances than us. There are those in Iraq, Afhanistan, Palestine, and many parts of Africa, South America and Asia who suffer from war, pestilence, natural disasters and deprivation. I wish them the greatest gift they want - peace and freedom from thirst, hunger, diseases, oppression and harm.
Those of you who can afford, please drop a dollar or two, or even more generously into the coffers of Red Crescent, Red Cross, Oxfam, Medecins sans Frontieres.
If you can't read the words in the dialogue-bubble it says "Dear Santa, if you leave a new bike under the tree, I will give you the antidote to the poison I put in the milk. Timmy"
To all of you, my dear visitors whether Christians, Muslims, Taoists, Confucianists, wprshippers of Chinese folk religions, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Baha'is, Shintos, Zoroastrian, Jews, animists, aethists, Sky Kingdom worshippers ;-) Peace & Goodwill from KTemoc
images' source(s) unknown - from a friendly email
Wafah – her name means ‘the faithful one’ - is a US citizen born in California, speaks no Arabic other than laa laa (no! no!) when KTemoc attempted to get an interview with her - OK, just in my wildest dreams ;-) - was educated in Switzerland, and is reputed to hold a Masters degree in law from Columbia university (paid for by her dad as she admitted).
photo from Times-Warner Audio Books
Her mum Carmen bin Laden wrote a 2004 bestseller Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia on her life as the wife of a Wahhabi bloke in the Kingdom.
Wafah has spoken to her dad, Yeslam, only twice in 10 years and when asked how the old man would take to her posing as one of GQ’s girls, she said that he probably would have a heart attack.
photo from Wikipedia
"But because of this last name that I have nothing to do with, the Western world hates me. And because I've chosen American values, the Saudi Arabian world hates me.”
Hence she changed her surname to that of her mum's. She also confessed that: "It Isn't Easy Being the Sexy Bin Laden."
Poor darling, can KTemoc console you? ;-) yes, but can you blame me for still trying.
Her photographic adventure with GQ magazine is her attempt to distance herself from the bin Laden name.
Reuters photo from Sydney Morning Herald
She claims she doesn’t have a boyfriend but the US entertain-world said her beau is J Records A&R man Larry Jackson. But just in case Larry isn’t being committed, she also sees her ‘spare’ David Blaine.
I’m third in line ;-)
He’s held in police custody for the desecration. Police said he’s 34 years old, jobless, has no ID but claimed to be from Segamat, Johore, and has refused to provide the reason for his act of desecration.
Is he mad or a staunch Wahhabi?
Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi sect of Islam (named after him), which is the official religious denomination of the Saudi Kingdom, condemned any acts that lead to shirk, which is votive offerings, praying at saints' tombs and at graves, anything (including atheism) that denies the one-ness or unity of Allah or Tawhīd.
Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab was against religious festivals, including even celebrations of the Prophet's birthday. Thus Wahhabis forbid grave markers or tombs in burial sites and the building of any shrines that could become a centre of shirk.
and hang on to both your ears,
do continue till something falls
out, but not counting your tears
wriggle your bare hips gently
and swing your breasts to & fro,
then turn around for the video
remember to smile & say hello
we are nothing less than the law,
so don’t fret or blush my li’l dear,
it’s our tradition that you be nude
we want to know when all’s clear
we are here to serve and protect
proudly beneath Sang Saka Biru,
yes, we serve our own interests
and protect our own people too
Friday, December 23, 2005
The chairman of an airline has made scandalous news for his purchase of fine modern arts to sums of millions, and that wasn't just it - he renovated his office on the 34th floor of the airline building at a staggering cost equivalent to several houses. It's all on the expenditure account of an airline that has already lost nearly 700 million ringgit in just half a year. The airline is financially very sick and now requires a rescue package of RM 3 billion. Yet, in spite of his company's dire financial straits, the chairman didn't see the need for fiscal prudence. This is Malaysian leadership by example?
But then, for him what's there to worry - it's not his money. Apparently, from senatorial queries (left unanswered by the managing director) the chairman hopped on the airline flights to London on weekly frequencies too - I wouldn't be at all surprised if those had been first class seats on shareholders' expense. It would be unlike that he emulated Bill Gates, world's richest bloke with several billions (of American greenbacks) who travels only by business class.
Mind you, this chairman is not unique in his love for delightful stuff paid for from public or shareholders' assets. Malaysia has many such people who don't give a thought to the fact they are spending other people's money, not on essentials but for their personal preferred lifestyle. And with that disattached non-ownership sense of freedom, they spend it well with an unaccountable flourish.
The crime is not his because he is only human, and really, is there anything in the company's policy that says he couldn't purchase paintings or renovate his office? A lack of fiscal prudence, definitely, but illegality, unlikely. There is a Western saying that if you leave little Johnny alone with the cookie jar, the you must expect little Johnny to have a great time digging deep into it.
The gross neglect lies with those who had appointed such a person and then not monitor him. This has especially shocking, considering the airline is already in deep financial problems. I am glad he's been asked to resign, though will he go willingly? Does the government as the majority shareholder have the gumption to sack him if he resists?
But as mentioned, he is not the only little Johnny. When the government appoints their favoured sons or daughters to such positions, there has to be proper check and balance to prevent imprudent use of corporate assets.
The even greater disappointment has been the pathetic excuse that the paintings were bought to enhance the stature of his office. What *stature* could possibly be in existence when the company is already in such a financial tailspin? That reason or explanation has been as inane as making police wear badges saying that they won't be corrupt, in a fantasised hope they won't be.
(1) Style Mahu, Kalah Selalu!
(2) Style Mahu, Kalah Selalu! (2)
When he brought into law the Patriot Act he gave a speech last year - two years after he gave the NSA the authority to wiretap without Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) approval – assuring the American people that:
"Any time you hear the US Government talking about wiretap, a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so."
The FISA requires that warrants for national security wiretaps be authorized by the secret FISA court. It is a crime for government officials to conduct electronic surveillance outside that law or the criminal wiretap statute. President Bush’s authorization without even the minimal protection of FISA court warrants is unconstitutional and illegal.
He just recently admitted that he authorised illegal wiretappings, but of course all in the name of anti-terrorism, just as all his dodgy decisions had been excused away by him, including the aggressive violation of the territorial sovereignty of another nation.
John Dean, the disgraced White House counsel of the Watergate era, pointed out succinctly that Bush was the first president to actually admit to an impeachable offence.
A bipartisan group of Democrats and a growing number of Republicans, questioned the White House argument that the combined authority of the US constitution and anti-terror laws passed by Congress in the week after 9/11 gave Mr Bush a legal right to undertake electronic surveillance of US citizens, foreign residents or tourists without recourse to the warrants required under the FISA Act.
Because of John Dean’s remarks, California Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer has taken the trouble to seek the counsel of four presidential scholars as to whether Bush has committed an impeachable offence.
It’s ironical that John Dean, jailed for his role in the Watergate cover up under former President Richard Nixon, provided Senator Boxer with the motivation to probe into Bush’s possible impeachable offence. She considers Dean as an expert on presidential abuse of power. Afterall he went to prison as a consequence of that abuse.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Just as a reminder this was what Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi said in his maiden speech to the UMNO general assembly in 2004: "Let's not use the crutches for support all the time, the knee will become weak".
But at the same assembly, UMNO ethnic hero Badruddin Amiruldin gave his infamous hornet's nest threat, "No other race has the right to question our privileges, our religion and our leader".
He warned that taking away Malays' privileges would be akin to stirring up a hornet's nest with terrible consequence. Just in case the wannabe nest stirrer didn't understand the dangers of depriving him and mates from the institutionalised ethnic-based special privileges, he waved a book about the May 13 racial riots (in 1969), where the Chinese in Kuala Lumpur were taught a severe lesson of how terrifying racial rioting could be.
Looks like Badawi's concept of Towering Malays have been abandoned, just as AB Sulaiman predicted - I blogged on Sulaiman's article in AB Sulaiman Pissing into the Wind?
Very few people would be surprised that the NEP continues. It would have to be a very brave or resolute Prime Minister who dares to remove a fully subsidized and privileged welfare system for the Malays.
An ailing airline suffers losses of 648 million ringgit just in the first 6 months of its current financial year, on top of years of poor management. Then to compound its sickness, its Chairman bought 3 paintings costing 1.55 million ringgit, of course charged to company expenditure, for his office.
Wait, there's more. He also renovated his office including an attached kitchen to the tune of 841,000 ringgit. The kitchen equipment costs some 34,000 smackers.
How do we all come to know of this?
An anonymous email titled ‘MAS – the flying buffet’, obviously from an insider, revealed the scandalous spending by the Chairman. The writer said rather caustically “Well, once you renovate your office for RM841,000 certainly you need some artwork to grace the office”.
And most shamefully, the Deputy Transport Minister had the gall to even aver that the three paintings were bought to enhance the ‘stature' of the Chairman's office. Stature? This is the Chairman of a terminally sick airline that requires a rescue package of at least RM 3 billion, with western ‘doctors’ called in on salaries of RM3 million per annum.
Why couldn’t the minister just say that such profligate expenditures were totally unjustified, especially in the face of the airline’s loss, and will be dealt with. It seems that among Malaysian ruling politicians and bureaucrats the attitude is to defend at all cost even the indefensible.
One of the paintings by a Columbia artist alone costs RM 1.14 million. It’s titled ‘Still Life with Violin’. Maybe it ought to be retitled ‘Still Alive? With Violations’ (of good governance)
Style Mahu, Kalah Selalu!
‘Intelligent design’ is nothing more than a fancy name for the fundamentalist Christian belief in biblical creation according to the Book of Genesis. In the old days it was called ‘Creationism’.
The judge blasted former members of a school board who proposed the new curriculum which teaches things like baby dinosaurs were on board Noah’s Ark. Those board members have since been unseated by others who frowned upon their nonsense.
The judge said they “lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of breathtaking inanity and dragged their community into this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."
He said that teaching such nonsense as science in public school violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits public officials from using their positions to impose or establish a particular religion.
Judge Jones wrote "To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions."
Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark?
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
It’s the same old story of sectarian manoeuvring, cheating, voter intimidation and power seizing, which unfortunately the US authority cannot control. The secular leaders that the Americans backed, Allawi and Chalabi, have not made any decent headway as voters went for the religious parties. Allawi threatened to boycott the Iraqi parliament because of the scandalous vote counting.
Unlike the referendum, the Sunnis have come out in force to vote, with even the insurgents holding off their campaign of violence to allow their Sunni brethren to vote. But in some Sunni areas, the outcome for the constituencies have instead gone the other way, which have the losers accusing the election officers of fraud.
I heard on the news on TV that in a few constituencies, where Sunnis dominate and the election result was expected to take several days to count, the result had miraculously been completed within a short period of time, with the Shiite candidates winning of course.
A Sunni leader said: "What would we tell those whom we indirectly convinced to stop the attacks during the election period? What would we tell those people who wanted to boycott and whom we convinced to participate?"
Another appealed to the USA for international intervention, saying: "We call on the President of the United States not to add another mistake to the mistakes already made in Iraq. This election is completely false … Everything was based on fraud, cheating, frightening people and using religion to frighten them. It's terrorism more than democracy."
For a background to the sectarian fiddling in an election, read my earlier posting on the referendum Iraq Constitution Sits Atop Dodgy Figures.
That should have already alerted the US as to what the election would be like.
And get this, its Chairman bought 3 paintings worth RM1.55 million to hang in his office – money from the budget of the airline of course. And a minister over-sighting the airline said the paintings were to maintain the stature of the place.
Post election, the MCA claimed it garnered 95% of the near 900 Chinese votes (4.7% of its registered voters) for its political master, though how could it know that if Malaysia’s election balloting was secret as it ought to be. But I suppose it has to claim credit from Taikoh. Questionable as the MCA's claim undoubtedly had been, it was still enough to send one PAS supporter into a raving ranting tantrum where he crucified the Chinese Malaysians, and may I add, also shot PAS in the foot as I posted in Loose Cannon in PAS.
Helen Ang, a columnist in Malaysiakini called the Chinese minority in Pengkalan Pasir the ‘Little Dragons’, though of course the symbol of the dragon refers to China rather than just any Chinese. Or, perhaps she had meant the significance of votes was akin to the powers of dragons.
Ang’s article is well researched and interesting. To capture in brief the essence of her article, she discussed the 4 factors at play for Kelantan and Kelantanese, namely (1) Islam, (2) Kelantan-ness, (3) Ethnicity and (4) the National Economic Policy (NEP).
According to Ang, for a Kelantanese Kelantan-ness will outbid Malay-ness most time. A Malay Kelantanese would be more likely to favour a Chinese Kelantanese of his own village over a Malay outsider. And a Chinese Kelantanese feels more comfy, safe and better treated within the Kelantan environment than he would be in another State. Total assimilation for the peranakan Kelantanese is almost complete
*Note for overseas readers: peranakan means locally born Chinese who have been brought up under (adopted) Malay customs and culture, and who speak the Malay language at home, and have assimilated into the local Malay communities.
Ang believes the peranakan Kelantanese could well have been the ideal Malaysian ‘template’ for non-Malay ethnic communities.
One factor that prevents total assimilation is of course religion. The Malay Kelantanese are very devout Muslims, and as all Malaysians are aware, multi-religious marriages for Muslims is not an option in Malaysia. Hence mixed marriages have not been as widespread as it ought to be considering how amicable the relationship between the peranakan Kelantanese and their fellow Malay Kelantanese have been.
Wouldn’t it be great if Malaysian Muslims are like their Indonesian counterparts, who seem less uptight about cross-religious marriages. I know of Indonesian families who have very tolerant attitude towards religion. One has a Hindu dad, Muslim mum with children belonging to a variety of religious denominations including the two major branches of Christianity. KTemoc’s family is similarly multi-religious although we don’t enjoy a Muslim member among us yet because, as mentioned, multi-religious marriages are still alien to Malaysian Muslims.
But the sad story that has emerged from Helen Ang’s article has been the discriminatory NEP, Malaysia’s affirmative action for the Malays. Additionally, in Malaysia, to be of the Islamic faith and adopt the Malay custom would also make one a constitutionally defined 'Malay'.
So the peranakan Kelantanese with several generations of domicile in Kelantan, participating in every facet of Kelantan life and culture, save only in religion, sees him or herself marginalised out of the benefits of the NEP while Thais, Cambodians, Pakistani, Indians and other Johnny-Come-Lately's from Indonesia, who are Muslims, enjoy those very benefits.
Ang said the cry of the peranakan Kelantanese is the same as those of the French Muslims who cried during the recent rioting in Paris, “How much more French do I have to be?”
Indeed, “How much more Malaysian do we have to be?”
Because of this frustrating and heartbreaking dead end, the peranakan Kelantanese are slowly re-integrating back into the greater ethnic Chinese community of Malaysia rather than continuing being the peranakan Kelantanese his/her forefathers had been.
Instead of having naga2 Kelantan, we indeed have, as Helen Ang indicated, little dragons.