Friday, June 30, 2006

Witness Protection Programme - Real Motive?

This posting has been delayed by a few days due to more exciting happenings, but here is it anyway.

On the witness protection programme, the PM wants the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to submit its proposal for the scheme so that the government may ‘fine-tune’ it before legislating an Act to empower the responsible body to manage the programme. On the necessity of the programme, he repeated the obvious, what DPM Najib had stated day before yesterday.

But he hedged his commitment to the proposal for the programme, stating that the government needs to weigh the pros and cons of the scheme, and if the cons outweigh the pros, then what’s the point of having such a setup.

And of course AAB being AAB, he hedged again within the previous hedging, stating that “Kita belum dapat pastikan dengan jelas keburukan dan kebaikannya.” (We haven’t yet ascertained fully the pros and cons of the programme).

AAB then revealed that previously the former Head of the ACA had already proposed the programme, because the ACA had received anonymous letters of complaints. The term used was ‘surat layang’, which in contemporary Malay carries a more nasty or mischievous connotation than just anonymous letter of complaint (or criticism), perhaps even of a malicious nature.

He admitted that’s the author of those complaints weren’t brave enough to sign their missive because they were worried that revealing their identity could imperil their safety. And he added that (the anonymity) has been precisely the case why the ACA couldn’t conduct their investigation.

That’s only partially true, but I find it hard to accept that the ACA in some selected cases couldn't even conduct a preliminary investigation based on tips by an anonymous letter, because if the information had touched on matters of importance, say, like the contract for PORR had been dodgily awarded, it should be able to suss out the grounds to see whether it should and could proceed further into a full blown investigation.

If the ACA insists on waiting until an informer provides them with solid evidence, chapter and verse, why then would we need the ACA? It would just be another Suhakam, unwilling to investigate 'certain' grounds. But that could explain why no one in Malaysia respects the ACA, which has been behaving like a piece of wood, waiting only for word from the boss to cudgel those not in favour.

But AAB’s most telling statement has been “Pada masa yang sama, menurutnya, ia akan dapat menghentikan penyebaran surat layang oleh pihak tertentu yang mengambil kesempatan memburuk-burukkan seseorang, termasuk pegawai dan pemimpin kerajaan."

Rough translation: “At the same time (of protecting the witnesses) the implementation of the witness protection programme will stop the circulation of such letters that exploits its anonymity to bad-mouth an individual, including officers and leaders of the government.”

my underlining

Perhaps that has been the real motive of the whole proposal. Perhaps he’s anticipating a deluge of such surat layangs.

Is KJ the de facto PM?

Matthias Chang, the former political secretary of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, wants the PM to explain how his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin had raised RM9.2 million to acquire a 3% stake in boutique investment house ECM Libra. That bunch of dough paved the way to the merger between ECM Libra and government-linked company Avenue Capital Resources Bhd.

But, ... elegant silence!

Matthias Chang said: “Khairy is a stakeholder in ECM Libra and the prime minister is also the finance minister. Is this not corruption? What else do you need as evidence?”

Corruption? ... elegant silence!

Then Chang latched on to what Dr Mahathir had said about the 4th and 5th floor relationship of the PM, namely that the PM son-in-law is the country’s de facto prime minister.

He asked “If Khairy is not appointed by the government, why is he allowed to make decisions that affect the country’s economy?”

“No one can explain this, except the prime minister himself. Rumours are flying all over the country, this is a serious crisis.”

Serious? ... elegant silence!

He said the issues concerned Abdullah’s integrity, and therefore the PM must speak up and not direct his ministers to provide answers.

PM's integrity? ... elegant silence!

Indeed he promised that the political crisis following Mahathir’s scathing criticism of the current administration could be resolved within 24 hours if the government stopped beating around the bush and provided adequate answers to Dr Mahathir.

Well, ... elegant silence!

But hey, don’t blame the PM, because his chief hatchet man had asserted that there was no need for Numero Uno to respond.

He swore: “We can’t keep quiet if Tun Mahathir continues criticising. Every minister has to defend the decision. It is not my sole responsibility, but we won’t allow our prime minister to answer.”

There you have it. No one will be allowed to tamper with that beautiful elegant silence. Only thing is, which PM had he been referring to?

Anwar oh Anwar ...

Anwar Ibrahim advised us that we shouldn't be distracted by the ongoing verbal battle between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his buat-ta’tahu-buat-diam* successor Abdullah Badawi.

* "politely" put, 'conveniently ignorant, elegantly silent'

He said the priority should be on the reformation (that Anwar word again?) agenda to redress the country’s ‘sluggish’ economic growth and strengthen the institutions of the civil society and governance.

However, he wasn’t to stop those two from their stoush, saying that Abdullah may not continue to ignore Mahathir’s criticisms which till now have remained unanswered.

He pontificated: “These issues must be put in perspective. Of course, this does not mean that there is no need to explain on other issues. A government leader cannot say I’m not going to talk about corruption, I’m not going to talk about what Dr Mahathir says because I am focusing on economic development. And at the same time the economy is not developing.”

Then he came to what we have always believe to be the real case. Malaysiakini reported him as saying:

Anwar said he believed the entire episode showed that UMNO was indeed in a turmoil but he did not want to speculate on whether it would lead to a leadership crisis in the near future.

“I frankly don’t know because my contacts in the party (UMNO) are among the grassroots leaders. And they, too, are disillusioned with the way things are going.”

Maybe they are looking for a leader, a sort of political messiah?

He said he still communicated with the grassroots - whom he said have openly came to his home for meetings - because he did not want to give the wrong impression that he was at war against the party (UMNO) and the members.

Of course not – in fact we know that and have never ever dismissed his ... er ... friendship with UMNO.

“My problem is only with one or two leaders in UMNO. Of course these few (corrupt) leaders are fearful (of me). Sebut nak masuk Umno pun dia dah pengsan (Even talk of me returning to UMNO and they faint).”

Naturally, everyone knows that there are only 1 or 2 UMNO blokes who are corrupt. Hmmm, maybe 3? But in general it’s a good clean just party.

Anwar, however, dismissed any possibility of re-joining UMNO stating that he was committed to PKR, the opposition coalition and their reform agenda.

Anwar oh Anwar, the man doth protest too much, methinks!

But in the meanwhile, maybe Anwar Ibrahim could enlighten us as to why, when he was the Finance Minister, as well as Deputy PM in 1993, his Ministry picked Perangsang International Sdn Bhd (PISB) to construct the Matrade building by overruling a Works Ministry’s recommendation of a company that offered a better deal.

Investigation into the alleged corruption of millions being siphoned off by PISB could do with his sagely explanation.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

US Supreme Court: "Bush Violated Geneva Conventions"

Extracts from the BBC News:

The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Bush administration does not have the authority to try terrorism suspects by military tribunal.
In a landmark decision, justices upheld the challenge by Osama Bin Laden's ex-driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, against his trial at Guantanamo Bay.

The court's ruling that the proceedings violated Geneva Conventions is seen as a major blow to the administration.

But the ruling does not mean the closure of the Guantanamo Bay camp.

Mr Hamdan is one of 10 Guantanamo inmates facing a military tribunal. He is demanding a civilian trial or court martial, where the prosecution would face more obstacles.

The Sydney Morning Herald also carries the announcement. It's a bloody blow for the Bush Administration, and rightly so.

One of the most draconian bullsh*t has been the fundamental absence of justice in that detainees are not allowed to see classified evidence that may be presented against them, so they would be forced to leave their hearing, meaning they won't know what could or would be accused of, or how to defend themselves.

What a sorry day for the USA that the Bush Administration has attempted to turn the nation's military justice system into a kangaroo court. The US Supreme Court has pulled them back from the brink.

A page from a woman's diary (2)

Dearest Diary,

I need to write again about Dad. I worry for him but at 81 he seems more determined than ever to carry on. I think his criticisms must be biting, because they are frantically demonising him even as I pen these words. And who would be ‘they’ that I had just mentioned? Well, people who once kissed his hands and genuflected to him.

The pseudo-warriors of Distortion, Distraction and Deception have been let loose. The real issues must be camouflaged by throwing red herrings to attract the public’s attention – gimmicks like an unprecedented rude young man telling Dad to ‘get out’, followed by another seemingly unrelated one to mock someone he should be ‘grateful that he did not die', disgracefully uttered in an august place.

Yes, they even selected a hatchet man to lead the frontal attacks, a man who once kissed Dad's hands but who’s now just too eager to buy into the new inner circle. Then there's one more from a little afar who had previously shown his equal eagerness to fawn on the rising star - how he had lavished praises on that someone. Oh those men, their avaricious ambitions are inversely proportional to their loyalty or their dignity.

His poor successor - he may believe these people are loyal to him but it’s a case of the timeless “The King is dead, long live the (new) King.”

One casts off the old and swears allegiance to the newly crowned, ad infinitum.

And the most disappointing one of all, Uncle Zig Zag - what did he say about the hatchet man's rude and crude call to Dad to 'get out'?

"Investment won't be affected".

The demonising has annoyed Dad because they distorted his criticism of unexplained actions and implausible reasons into a case of him consorting with the opposition. They accused him of being Julie Roberts, sleeping with the enemy. By flinging the accusation of treachery, they hoped to avoid answering his queries.

The hatchet man has cast red herrings to divert attention from the unanswered queries into questionable decisions by his successor and the latter's faceless though known advisors. I wonder who the hatchet man could be taking instructions from? Unprecedented in Malay tradition or behaviour, he has publicly told Dad, his former boss, to 'get out', while feigning regrets at being disrespectful to an elder.

Is someone making a big pile of money that resulted in the cancellation of a project, which now costs more than if the project had continued, and the sale of assets worth hundreds of millions of ringgit for nothing more than a tuneless song?

Now one more person has emerged from the ranks to dispute there was mischief afoot in tying a project with the sales of material that we have. He blamed the affair on the other side of the fence, when it was the greed on our side that initiated the offer, but was subsequently caught flatfooted for wanting to corner and monopolise the sales of goods. The new spokesman has disclaimed the truth we here had been the side that offered to sell the goods.

If we examine very carefully, through the fog of distraction, the unprecedent and very crude attacks had not been rudeness per se against Dad, but designed to obfuscate the real issues by distracting the attention of the public from the avarice of the le nouveau puissant.

But even then, there really shouldn't be any excuse to discard our heritage, our culture and our tradition.

It’s a strange world when the Malays, who boast of their loyalty, seem to have lost their gratitude recently.

It’s a strange world when the Malays, who pride themselves on their soft spoken reasoning, seem to have abandoned this characteristic now.

And it’s a strange world when the Malays, who admire respect of elders, seem to have forgotten their culture lately.

It looks like it has been left to us women to safeguard and nurture these virtues for our children, to teach them to subscribe to the traditional Agama, Bangsa dan Negara, and not the new call of Kuasa, Haloba Tama' dan SAYA.

Good night, dearest diary.

A page from a woman's diary

Mandarin Scholar

Amazing stuff!

I want to send this to DPM Najib who had complained that Chinese employers were discriminating against Malay graduates because those Chinese companies' had advertised for applicants with Mandarin language ability.

18-year-old Muhammad Izwan Zulkifli has been named SMK Keat Hwa Gold Medal Award recipient, the school’s top scorer among 468 students. Yes sir, that’s a Chinese medium school.

And apart from being the first Malay student to be honoured in such a manner by the state’s premier Chinese secondary school, he scored 11 1As in the SPM examination last year.

The Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah presented him with the award. Izwan is now taking up an accountancy programme at Kolej Matrikulasi Negri Sembilan.

Star Online photo

But what annoys me is that this brilliant handsome bloke couldn’t even get a scholarship for his study of accountancy, all because he did not sit for the Basic Economy paper (Kertas Ekonomi Asas).

He said: “I applied for several scholarships but was unsuccessful in all. I did not know the Basic Economy paper is a must for the accountancy scholarship.”

But his parents must have been very proud of his amazing achievement.

An outstanding aahievement 祝贺

'Sweet' wisdom, 'Sweet' actions, 'Sweet' bullsh*t

Here’s a brilliant and wonderful solution to commodity shortages.

Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister S Veerasingam said that the recent sugar shortage has actually been good - so you guys should bloody stop whinging.

Why good?

He said the shortage had helped consumers reduce their sugar intake.

He pronounced: “Sugar is in the rice and fruits which we take, so we actually take a lot of sugar in a day. It is advisable to cut down intake.”

Fantastic! Now I've heard, no, in fact read that Petronas wants the government to approve its proposed price hike for gas. I would imagine Veerasingam telling us the same good news, as in:

“Gas is in the farting and belching which we make, so we actually produce a lot of gas in a day. It is advisable to cut down use of gas.”

And may I add, if anyone still runs short, please see the ministers because they are so full of gas, always sprouting hot bullsh*t air.

But dash it, Veerasingam spoilt his revelation by saying that his ministry had helped areas suffering from sugar supply shortage to overcome the problem.

What bloody for? Afterall, sugar shortage is a blessing in disguise, so let’s not tamper with the shortage when it’s good.

But that’s the bullsh*t quality of our ministers, always attempting to insult our intelligence.

It’s f**king high time the government recognise that they are interfering with the price of sugar and distorting the market, at the expense of the sugar industry who had been forced to bear the loss. If people want to reduce their sugar intake, well and good, but there should be sugar for those who want it.

Meanwhile the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry will start gathering data on the weekly production of sugar by factories and compare it to the amount distributed to grocery stores and hypermarkets.

Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said they would also gather information on the amount sent out by the factories to each wholesaler and the distribution network.

He said: “Those who are inefficient will have their licences revoked.”

Hmmm, I wonder whether this is democratic free-enterprising Malaysia, or a f**king Stalinist State where your life or livelihood would depend on your quota of production of goods, even at losing business cost.

But just in case people don’t believe his explanation for sugar shortage, he added that consumer demand had also risen this year compared to last year.

The flogging will continue until one way or other, the sugar shortage is not blamed on the government's price control.

Veerasingam has come up with another of his scatological gem. He wanted parents to tell their children their salaries so that the kids can help the parents by not overspending. He said children needed to know what their parents earned so that they, the children, could gauge the family spending power and know the monthly budget.

He said: “Many parents do not do this. So, their children tend to overspend their parents' money.”

I have to admit that till today I wasn't aware that kids manage their parents' household budget.

He advised it was also crucial for people to start to save early and that working people should begin with at least 10% of their salaries to ensure that their future and that of their children were taken care of.

Yeah, that explains why most of the Indian Malaysians have been so f**ked up economically. Those rubber tappers, road sweepers and what other lousy professions that Indians have been forced to take up should listen to his wise words. Save and don't pretend you have mucho problems trying to make ends meet.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Forgotten But Unfortunately Not Entirely ...

In some states in the USA, there’s no escaping a death penalty once all avenues of appeal have been exhausted, even when some death row inmates spent more than 20 years waiting for the last walk. Apparently several prisoners were executed when they were already in their 80s.

We may well ask – has justice been served? And, was it meant to be served in this way, executing 80-year old people?

There has been a debate in the USA and Britain on the length of time convicts should spend on death row. In 1993, a British court found that it was inhuman and degrading to hang anyone who has spent more than five years waiting for their execution. It argued that such prisoners should have their sentences commuted to life in prison.

It’s the only sensible and humane option for a civilised society. But better still, don’t have the penalty, as our neighbour the Philippines has decided.

In Malaysia we too have what are now known as the
forgotten convicts - prisoners who received their death sentence, exhausted all appeal options, and have spent more than two decades on death row.

It’s just a horrible punishment.

Among this group is a man who has been waiting for his final moment for 22 years, since he was 26 years old. Nearly a decade has passed by for him in a cell, waiting, waiting, waiting ……..

The authorities have refused, as Malaysian authorities would and could, to explain why those prisoners are left in such horrendous limbo. However, the New Straits Times has learnt that a combination of administrative hitches and delays in handing down written court judgements have kept these criminals in solitary confinement for years. So our august judiciary has thus contributed to the prolonged inhumane mental torture for those hapless souls.

Suhakam, after its reputation has recently suffered terrible disrepute in refusing to investigate police brutality, has indicated its concerns that these death row prisoners — convicted of murder, drug trafficking and firearm possession offences — are receiving two distinct punishments: the death sentence and years of living in solitary confinement.

It also wants to know whether executing someone after prolonged periods on death row violates the Constitution and the principles of justice.

Next year is Malaysia’s 50th Anniversary as a nation. Please let us celebrate this occasion by demonstrating our humanity and compassion as a civilised nation, and commute their death sentences, as we have seen done for a former UMNO bigwig who was sentenced to death for murder.

In fact, let’s take it one further step – let’s abolish the ultimate punishment, which as you religious people know, is and should be the sole prerogative of God.

Hot Babe: "No More Hot Seat!"
Stupid if He's Smart, Smart if He's Stupid!

PAS Preachers - Marry for God or Money?

The Kelantan State Religious Affairs committee chairman Hassan Mahamood, who is the PAS member for Tawang, said the PAS-led State government has been unhappy with the conversion rate of the orang asli (aborigines), who are prime targets for both Islamic and Christian missionaries. For our overseas readers, PAS is the State ruling Islamic party.

He indicated that the latest figures for the past five years saw only 2,904 of some 3,000 orang asli in Gua Musang and Jeli districts, embracing Islam on their own free will.

I wonder why he’s disappointed when the conversion rate is over 95%. Maybe he’s an idealist?

Anyway, as part of the State government’s strategy to increase conversion to Islam among the orang asli, it wants to encourage marriages between Muslim preachers (male and female) and orang asli (women and men respectively). Thus the Muslim cleric must pioneer the implementation of the conversion strategy.

Now, this strategy is not new as the Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM) had done the same thing during the Malaysian Emergency. The insurgents were ordered to marry orang asli women in order to become members of the tribes. By doing so, they effectively denied security forces access to aborigine intelligence or even tracking assistance, as the orang asli didn’t want to betray their ‘tribesmen’.

However, the Kelantan government has a motivational plan, offering a lump sum of RM10,000, free accommodation, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a fixed monthly allowance of RM1,000 to each Muslim preacher who marries an orang asli woman (or man, if the preacher is female). These are very generous rewards.

However, he was a bit coy about such marriages making the orang asli women as second or third wives of the preachers. Hassan said it depended on the individual, which KTemoc takes as ‘it’s OK’.

I wonder whether this motivational scheme would corrupt the intentions of the preachers who would then be marrying for material rewards rather than missionary love or care. And I wonder whether the reward scheme applies to the layperson.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hot Babe: "No More Hot Seat!"

I am so glad that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has abolished the death penalty on Saturday. Now, it’s up to Malaysia and Singapore to follow her enlightened path.

The death penalty had actually been abolished in the Philippines in 1987 but was restored in late 1993 for heinous crimes such as murder, child rape and kidnapping. But executing someone, even a criminal, reflects on the State’s morality of taking a life prematurely. Additionally, there have been cases especially in the USA where people had been sent wrongly to the gallows by over-eager but unscrupulous state prosecutors.

Arroyo sought to assure the nation that her opposition to capital punishment had not undermined her commitment to fighting crime. She

"We will never be intimidated by these treacherous acts, and we shall fight terror as seriously as we embrace peace. We shall continue to devote the increasing weight of our resources to the prevention and control of serious crimes, rather than take the lives of those who commit them."

More than 1,200 death-row convicts - including at least 11 al-Qaeda-linked militants - will benefit from the ban on the death penalty.

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the Vatican's envoy to Manila, congratulated Arroyo and legislators who supported the measure. And I will send her my love too.

I knew I was justified in having
the hots for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. ;-) Let it not be said that KTemoc doesn’t have taste.

Stupid if He's Smart, Smart if He's Stupid!

Beneath the buah cherry tree (3)

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

A limousine arrives and parks beside the stall. Two men in dark glasses exit the car and seat themselves in the shade of the tree …..

J: I don’t suppose this dump even has an expresso or … what’s the bloody point of coming to this place everytime we need to talk in private when that tambi can’t even serve a short black?

N: Look boss, here we can talk freely without anyone suspecting I would be hammering that old man on your instructions. Oh, don’t forget not to call the kopi kedai tambi … it’s rude and you must remember you're going up higher on the ladder where you need to show your multi-ethnic and bersopan-santun (manners) credentials.

J: Don’t bloody try to teach me what to do … I have you know I have a degree from ..… dei tambi, mari sini, cepat.

N (closes his eyes in exasperation): Er … vannakam mamak (morning uncle).

Muthu: Selamat pagi Encik, apa mahu?

J: Diet coke … hey Nez, apa kau mahu?

N: Kopi-o-peng, nasi lemak. Terimakasih.

Muthu: Apa itu mati punya coke?

N (secretly delighted): I’m afraid no diet coke for you.

J (waves Muthu away impatiently): Bugger the drink. Look, your attack has not been effective. Some within our party are against what you had done, and the bloody stupid public thinks we are giving him an unfair hard time. They are even talking as if he’s the leading paragon of democracy … sheesh. What’s your plan eh? I can’t be doing all the thinking – time for you to contribute!

N (deep thoughts for a while): I’ll accuse him of sleeping with the enemy, you know, those other groups who attended his malicious lecture. That will remind our own people that he’s gone berserk and renegade, like Hang Jebat! Nothing like a bit of Malay legend to stir their emotion against him.

Then I’ll pretend that I’m still hesitant about opposing him because I still think of him as our former leader. I’ll bersandiwara and pretend to mull about the possibility that, if he has the decency, he should leave because then I won’t be disrespectful if I fight back.

I’ll put on the welfare face and claim that he’s making our position impossible. We can easily rebut him except we don’t want to be disrespectful. So if he wants a fair fight, which should arouse his pride, he should leave, and go over to the people who had called him Pharaoh.

J: Not very convincing, isn’t it? How can you be respectful, even if only pretending, when you are attacking him in the same breath? Besides, I don’t suppose you’ve heard of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, have you?

N: Akhenaten? Eh no, but what about him? But look, no worries, it’s only for public consumption. No one in this country cares for facts, logic or details except those rocket people, and they don’t matter. In fact they can have him hahaha.

J: I'll explain who Akhenaten was, though not now, but it's dangerous to play the Pharaoh game because one day it'll backfire.

N: Once we can convince the public he’s an ar$e-h*le who’s treacherous even to his own party, no one cares whether he has made good points about those dodgy sale of the motorcycle or the cancellation of the project …

J (glaring): Hold on a ding dong second … what do you mean by dodgy sale?

N (realising he’s committed a faux pas): Dodgy only in his arguments. All of us believe that had been the most sensible solution to a complex problem which would have laden us with a geometrically incremental financial burden at a time when the world’s ….

J: Shut up … you are talking like a lawyer. Wait, you’re a lawyer, but don’t try that vortex bullsh*t on me.

N (offended but afraid): Yes boss, then I’ll drive a deeper wedge between him and that zigzag bloke, you know, deal a double blow to your main rival for the top job. I’ll say he’s pissed off with Datuk ZZ for being a yes-man to your Apah. Makes ZZ feel worried about that mamak, and at the same time, also make ZZ looks like a willow tree, you know, bending here and there with the wind. I’ll create ZZ into a Hang Tuah to that Jebat.

J: Now you’re talking, though I can’t visualize ZZ as a Hang Tuah … and then?

N (warming up): Then I’ll take you out of the equation by pointing out that as a hairy-experienced bloke, surely he isn’t going to burn down the party just because of one 31-year old handsome rookie? Now, that will make our gutless members view him as behaving with very selfish and self-centred petulance.

J (secretly flattered and pleased): What did I say about not going overboard with the ‘handsome’ part!

N (piling on the butter and cream): It’s always easier to speak the truth. And I’ll also play up on that ‘elegant silence’ for your Apah.

J: OK, good good, do it, I’m off.

N: Singapore again?

J (charming smile): Time, tide and business wait for no man, except me. But still, there’s no point in taking any chances, is there?

He zoomed off, leaving a pensive N alone at the stall in deep reflection.

Muthu: Dei Encik, itu budak, siapa dia?

N (pensively): Mamak, bila anak kamu nak kahwin, pilih baik baik, seperti dengan anak SV.

Beneath the buah cherry tree (2)

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

Except this time two men weren’t having casual conversation …..

J: Oy, tambi, latte satu.

N: Eh boss … they don’t do latte here. They just have the traditional teh, kopi, ovaltine and horlicks. And may I advise not to call the elderly man tambi … it’s a bit derogatory … best to address him as aneh (elder brother) or mamak (uncle).

J: I … I, the most powerful man in this country ... call him uncle? You must be dreaming. Why the hell do you bring me here if I can’t get a latte or a decent cappuccino with skim milk?

N: For privacy lah, we need some space from spies to work out our next step, now he has dragged you openly into his campaign of attack.

J: Look, I am going to make a no-comment statement. But I want you to attack that bastard.

N: Yes, boss. What do you want me to say?

J: Play on his ego – tell him if he doesn’t like our group, to f**king leave then. Provoke him into resigning his membership. Yeah, tell him if he’s an anak jantan, to leave our group. Blast Apah – he couldn’t even marshal enough support to deal that man a humiliating expulsion.

N: Great strategy, you’re good, Yah, I tell him to PORRah. Afterall he’s a mamak.

J: Don’t use the word PORRah, Apah doesn’t like to ever hear that, tahukah!

N: Oh right boss, sorry, I forgot. I’ll play on that anak jantan stuff, and tell him as an 81-year old has-been he ought to be ashamed of harassing a 31 year old handsome bloke …..

J: Don’t overdo it, leave out the ‘handsome’ bit.

N: Yes boss.

J: Now get me a profiterole with whatever nasty coffee they have.

N: Hello, mamak, Nescafe dua, kueh pandan dua. Terimakasih

J: Kueh pandan? Bad show, old chap, you know I don’t take the local stuff.

N: Sorry boss, that’s all the sort of cakes they have.

J: Cancel that order then, I might as well leave now.

N: Where are you off to?

J: Singapore. I have an engagement. I’ll have my latte and croissant there.

J leaves immediately in his shiny limousine. N sits there for a while sipping the two cups of nescafe, and thought to himself: "What a f**king tough life. Once I had ot kiss the hands of that old man, now I have to kiss the ar$e of this bloody brat ... aiyoh, cari makan."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Waktu Senjakala

It was that time of the evening when the birds, ducks, geese and chickens had quietened down after their raucous chirping, quaking, squawking and cackling as they busied themselves to roost for the night. The sun had just dipped behind Bukit Bendara*, and twilight had long set in.

* Penang Hill

The smoke from burning sampah (rubbish) in the compound of a house rose slowly straight up, indicating the atmosphere was heavy and without a twitch of breeze. Apart from the smoke, everything in the kampong (village) appeared to be frozen still at that moment when day gave way to night but night hadn’t yet claimed her hold. It was then neither yang nor ying, a moment that Malays termed as senjakala (dusk).

The more superstitious kampong folks, especially the Chinese, believe that during this brief transition of time, a mysterious portal opens momentarily, allowing egress and ingress with the netherworld.

But a young lad of, hmmm, around 15 was seen walking up the dirt track of the hillside where his kampong was located. He had a travelling bag slung over his right shoulder. After two weeks outstation (in another State) during the school holidays he had returned home, to prepare for the new school term.

Tired after the long trip back by bus, ferry and then bus again, he trudged up wearily, with another two hundred metres to go before he reached his house. He was just about to pass the girls’ home. The girls? Just his kampong neighbours and closest friends. There were three sisters in that family of parents, granny and a 23-year old aunt, the younger sister of the mum.

Invariably, he looked at the house as he walked past it, and saw the aunt alone by the gates. She was dressed in that typical kampong evening wear, pajamas and face smeared earlier with liquid bedak but now hardened on her oval face. Bedak is a Malaysian powder that’s very popular in kampongs. When dissolved in water into liquid form, it would be applied on the face and body, possessing almost the properties of calamine lotion. Bedak has a pleasant cooling and soothing effect and perhaps served also as an anti-mosquito repellent.

The aunt smiled at him in that mysterious way that was sweet yet seemed sad. Naturally he smiled back at ‘Auntie’ as he had always respectfully addressed her. He liked ‘Auntie’ because though an adult she was very understanding to the teenagers. He called out: "Auntie, chea pah ar buoi?” in that timeless Chinese Malaysian kampong greeting of “Auntie, have you eaten well?” (or, "taken your dinner?").

All she did was continued smiling in that mysterious way without a word. He wasn’t surprised that she didn’t reply nor acknowledge his salutation, and accepted it as one of those given’s, where adults enjoyed that privilege of not being obligated to respond to teenagers or kids.

In another short five minutes he was home, greeted his family, provided a quick summary of his two weeks away, had a good kampong bath of well water in his sarong-ed bottom half, dined on mum’s great fried rice (leftovers from yesterday), and typically of kampong kids, scooted out of the house before he was asked to perform chores. It was by then tropical dark.

Being a wee fatigued he decided not to see his friends who would undoubtedly be at the marketplace but instead went to the house of the 3 sisters to regale them with his holiday adventures. They were delighted to see him though they appeared rather subdued, a vast change from their normal exuberant nature.

After the normal salutations with the parents and granny who were in the back of the house, he went back to the hall and asked Swee Lan, the eldest sister where was ‘Auntie’, as he couldn’t spot her anywhere. Three pair of young eyes stared at him angrily. He waited for Swee Lan’s response but the 3 girls continued to stare him down.

Somewhat intimidated he finally asked: “Ai, har mee soo?” (What’s the matter?)

Swee Lan was the first to speak up, and rather sternly too:
“It’s not funny, you know.”

“Funny? What's funny?”

Suddenly the penny dropped for Swee Lan when she realised that the boy had been away for 2 weeks. Tears started to well in her eyes (same for the other two girls) as she said sadly: “Auntie was killed 7 days ago with her boyfriend. They were on his bike when a lorry smashed into them.”

Stunned! But … but … no, it just cannot be!

The boy’s mind raced back to just less than an hour ago when he saw ‘Auntie’ standing silently by the house gate, smiling so mysteriously at him.

Died seven days ago? Yet he did see her! Absolutely, affirmatively and undeniably he saw her!

This is a true story.

I was that boy.

Hang Jebat lives again, but ...!

Dr Azy Rahman has expounded in his article Neo-feudalism of the cybernetic Malays on the influence of the legendary Hang Tuah on the Malay psyche. I posted that in Malays' neo-feudalism hypermodern inner construct - excuse me while I untie my tongue.

Dr Azly said:
“The concept of a hero in Malay society is enshrined in Hang Tuah, the most popular symbol of the warrior-class in Malay history; the good ‘polyglot’, the magical-mystical Malay hero who pledged blind loyalty to the Sultan. The image of the warrior-blind loyalist is well-inscribed into the literature and consciousness of the Malays”.

Note the word ‘blind loyalty’ and its derivative ‘blind loyalist’.

Dr Azly continued:
“Today, enshrined, is the modern-day doctrine of allegiance to the ruler in the form of the Rukunegara or the ‘Principles of the Nationhood’. The myth of Hang Tuah, arguably, together with his friends Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, and Hang Lekiu has been inscribed into the consciousness of the Malays and forms the foundation of the master-slave narrative”.

Well, yesterday, Dr Mahathir has in his lecture
A dialogue with Tun Dr Mahathir organised by Malaysia-Today blog, stated the same thing. He said:

“Let me quote the story of Hang Tuah: Whenever the King gives an order, Hang Tuah and his brethrens would say, ‘mana titah, patih junjung’ (whatever you command, I shall obey) ….. That is why Hang Tuah killed his friends. He was too loyal …”

What Dr Mahathir meant of course was the ‘blind’ loyalty of Hang Tuah, who on the orders of the Sultan killed his best friend, Jebat. The story of Hang Tuah has not only been controversial but deeply disturbing because many readers, including myself, wondered how Tuah could kill Jebat, the very man who had defended him against a tyrant. And to make matters worse, Tuah did so on the orders of the tyrant.

But to an earlier generation of Malays - or according to Dr Azly, they had been brainwashed to believe - Tuah had been the epitome of that highly valued Malay characteristic, unimpeachable loyalty, whereas Jebat was the exact opposite, the treacherous rebel.

Tuah killed on the orders of his Sultan, no questions asked. Jebat, on the other hand, was pissed off with a tyrant who wanted to kill a loyal subject, but regicide, particularly of one's own, was a no-no in Malay culture. Therefore Jebat was a traitor and to be despised.

It first took Malaysia’s most foremost Malay intellectual Kassim Ahmad to smash the conservative mould of thinking in his university thesis “Perwatakan Hikayat Hang Tuah” (the characters in the story of Hang Tuah).

As Dr Bakri Musa, a Malaysian who's a regular columnist in Malaysiakini and one of my favourite writers, said:

“Kassim frontally challenged the orthodox Malay thinking on authority, and royalty in particular. According to Kassim, the real hero is not Hang Tuah, rather the hitherto presumed renegade, Hang Jebat. To Kassim, Tuah is the typical palace sycophant who willingly sells his body and soul to the sultan, a loyalty conveniently reinforced by whatever largesse the sultan could bestow.”

“Jebat is the rugged individualist, not awed by those who wield power. His loyalty is to institutions, not individuals. To Kassim, Jebat is the true hero, not the prodigal son, Tuah.”

“It is a conflict of commitment to principles and institutions represented by Jebat, versus personal loyalty as presented by Tuah. It is this universal conflict, concretized in the setting of a traditional feudal society, which makes Hikayat Hang Tuah such a powerful and enduring piece of literature.”

Back to Dr Mahathir – he sneered at the sycophantic phrase ‘kami sokong’ (we support), that ministers and numerous UMNO Division leaders (except for Seremban’s) extended so obsequiously to PM Abdullah Badawi during the Mahathir-AAB stoush.

“Every time I criticise them (the government) a little bit, you will see a small picture (of leaders in the newspaper) captioned, ‘Kami sokong, kami sokong’ (We support). It looks like a chorus line. They all act in unison.”

But he admitted during his time the praises and support he received were not always sincere. He said: “I used to receive that kind of ‘support’ … there are those who would kiss my hand … only now do I know that the ‘support’ was not that of quality …”

Dr Mahathir said:
“Even during the (first prime minister) Tunku (Abdul Rahman)’s time, I was not very loyal person. I am loyal only to what you do, not what you are. Do the wrong thing and I won’t support.”

He’s a Hang Jebat then!

Remember that 3 weeks ago I posted
A page from a woman's diary. In that diary the following words were written:

“Dad has gone into reactive overdrive by nature of his combative self. When he feels people are ganging up on him, his adrenalin flows, and he would react in an uncompromising straight line”.

“He’s a bit of a Jebat, the fearless rebellious one yet the loyal friend. That’s his second weakness, his enduring loyalty to his people, most of whom didn’t or don’t deserve his total support. In the end, his Tuah will entice Taming Sari away from him to use it against him”.

“Now, why am I talking Malay legends in reference to his present dilemma? It’s just a Malay Dilemma”

Hang Jebat lives again in Dr Mahathir, but will he be killed once again by the man he loves and supports? Because as the above 'diary' states, "In the end, his Tuah will entice Taming Sari away from him to use it against him".

Human Sacrifice in Tamil Nadu

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

A couple in Tamil Nadu State in India sacrificed a seven-year-old boy on the advice of a faith healer. The human sacrifice was to ensure the marriages of their five sons. The faith healer had recommended the sacrifice to the couple to ward off "evil spirits" which were making it difficult for them to find marriage partners for their five sons

The pair found the boy alone at his house, put him in a steel box and took him to a temple where one of their sons as well as the faith healer joined them in strangling the victim to death. The boy's blood was then sprinkled at their house.

Apparently human sacrifices are still offered in rural India where many people put faith in occult practices to ward off evil or gain prosperity. In Malaysia too we had a couple of cases of human sacrifice. One was a young Indian boy sacrificed to some spirits for 4-D forecasting- his head was decapitated; another was a foreign wife of a local.

Police arrested all four.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Shahirah Raja Bahrin Revisited

Two and a half months ago I wrote about the happy ending of Raja Bahrin’s daughter Shahirah, who met up with her mum Jacqueline Pascarl after a 14-year separation in The Betty Mahmoody of Malaysia!.

Today Anonymous left the following comments (unedited) under that posting:

I think I must be reading craziness. It is obvious that the MAN who wrote this piece is completly without a soul. If you think that Raja Bahrin is anything akin to Betty Mahmoody. Betty was a prisoner in Iran, her daughter was the property of her father...people are NOT property!!! Women and children are not property!! How dare you people respect a man who stole the children from their mother, how dare you call him a hero. If you think any God in any realm thinks that this was a righteous move you really need to check out what LOVE is, what God is. There is no God who would condone causing such pain to one individual women. SHame on you!

Well, I have been accused of many things, but this is the first time I have been told I am completely without a soul. I have also noted Anon’s comments have been littered with words like ‘soul’, ‘God’, ‘realm’, ‘righteous’, ‘LOVE’ (and in upper case too) so I replied as follows (unedited too):

You think Muslim men has no love for their children? You think that a western justice system that believes a child in most cases should go with the mother is always right?”

I wrote:
"Betty Mahmoody’s story, which many film and book critics advised us to take with a hugh grain of salt because it’s written by a woman who hated her Iranian husband and at the same time wanted to dramatise her book for sales, and therefore for us to keep a finger on the ‘Maybe’ button, relates her side of a broken marriage and the fight for custody of her daughter across international boundaries.”

Property of her Iranian father? Yes, but according to Betty Mahmoody's gospel.

Raja has been a father who saw a divorce agreement to raise his children as Muslims not fulfilled, which forced him to act with overwhelming odds against him. He raised his children with LOVE, as evidenced by their freedom to move around now they are of mature age. That is not to say the mum wouldn't have raised them with love too. But you have already excluded the Muslim man from those feelings and ability, believing they are all Ayatollahs. Even Ayatollahs are fathers with fatherly love.

I wrote:
"But seeing a well mannered and mature Shahirah on TV reunited lovingly with her mum (the love between them was evident on TV), talking sweetly and confidently without any bitterness, I have to say the credit must go to Raja Bahrin for bringing his kids up well without poisoning their minds and allowing them to still love and be re-united with Mum."

Did Betty Mahmoody achieve or enable that? So who is superior in higher values of LOVE and fairness, Raja or Betty?

Causing pain to such a woman? What about Betty Mahmoody causing pain to a father?

This was what I wrote:
"But the other side of the coin had her telling flagrant lies to dramatise and popularise her story. And I can bet there would be very few Americans, especially today, who would express their sympathies for a lonely father somewhere in Iran who would be missing and pining for his daughter."

The fact that I have to requote my posting to you indicates you have read without seeing, except with an impatience to strike out at the Muslim party. Shame on you.

Stole from their mother? Ah, so they were properties of their mum?

BTW, I am not a Muslim nor a Malay. I am a Chinese. I am not fanatically blind with hatred for Muslims.

Dr Mahathir is Enemy of My Enemy!

Politics make strange bedfellows. We see a pro-PKR website, our famous RPK’s Malaysia Today combining with a former UMNO politician Ibrahim Ali to organise a lecture delivered by none other than PKR’s Nemesis, the Grand Old Man (GOM) himself. The theme of the lecture was titled “Dialogue with Tun Dr Mahathir”.

And those attending were not only GOM’s stalwarts like former deputy home minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub and former New Straits Times editor-in-chief A Kadir Jasin but also top PAS leaders - Nasharuddin Mat Isa, Husam Musa, Mahfuz Omar and Salahuddin Ayub. I believe the DAP was also there.

In his lecture Dr Mahathir has for the first time targeted PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin. Mahathir said with his usual caustic barbs:

“Sometimes we go over (to Singapore) to play golf and pat each other on the back over every little thing, then send the son-in-law ...”

“Now, I hear that (Khazanah) has gotten the services of certain ‘experts’. These ‘experts’ would give advice as to how to do business [...] These people have experience and education, such as degrees from Oxford University …”

“So these ‘experts’ are placed on the fourth floor [...] They seem to be more powerful than the fifth floor (Abdullah’s office).”

He received thunderous approvals for his hard hitting remarks. But since when has the GOM ever been not hard hitting?

During the lecture, there were times when he couldn’t finish what he had intended to say because he would be drowned out by roars of laughter and approvals in the packed ballroom of Hulu Kelang’s Century Paradise Club. Obviously Khairy Jamaluddin is not a popular bloke, and you know the old saying, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

Later on, during the question-and-answer session, Mahathir lamented that Khazanah Nasional, the government investment arm, had strayed from its original mission. DAP leader Ronnie Liu, who was part of the 500-strong crowd, said Mahathir well-received comments had referred to Khairy, who has been accused of meddling in government affairs like planting his ‘friends’ in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Khairy is married to Abdullah’s only daughter Nori. He’s a graduate of Oxford university and with the PM’s backing, is viewed as the country’s most powerful young leader, as well as a future PM, which he obviously aspires to.

Dr Mahathir’s comment about Khanazah was in reference to a suggestion that Khairy be appointed the chief operating officer of Khazanah. But young Khairy had instead joined an investment bank ECM Libra as a director. The company is owned by New Straits Times group deputy chairman Kalimullah Hassan, a close sidekick of Khairy.

Late last year, it was reported that Khairy had bought RM9.2 million worth of shares in the company. I believe there’s still a court case of libel between PAS Husam Musa and young Khairy pertaining to Khairy’s ability to purchase the company. Though Khairy has threatened to sue Husam, the whole affair seems to have died down, unless it's stil simmering in the lawyers' office.

Two years ago, young Khairy has rose unusually swiftly, in fact unopposed, to become No 2 in UMNO Youth two years ago, much to the uneasiness among a sizeable portion of UMNO grassroots. They alluded his meteoric rise to nepotism. Other candidates had to "make way" for him, which explains why he had been unopposed.

Witness Protection Programme - Too Glib, Too Dangerous!

Deputy Prime Minister Najib is now talking about a witness protection scheme for those who come forward with information for the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA). Najib said the most important thing would be for the information to reach the agency accurately.

“The people do not have to be afraid. Come forward and pass us the details. The agency will protect them and not leak out the source of the information.”

Earlier Pahang ACA director Abdul Rahim Mustakain had claimed that people were scared to give information as the agency did not have any witness protection programme. He said that anonymous letters from the public would not be enough.

There are a few issues here that I want to comment on.

For a start, the public has little faith in the ACA. If you do not know why, then you must be new to Malaysia. Despite the assurance of the ACA, how do we know that if we provide information or evidence about a very powerful person, our role and information would be kept highly confidential?

Leaving that aside, a witness protection scheme is meant to ensure the safety of witnesses who provide evidence or information to the ACA or police on crimes or corruption, where such involvement would endanger the witnesses. The threat to witnesses could be during two phases: (1) before and during the trial of the criminal, and (2) after the trial.

The first instance would during the period when the authorities first persuade the witnesses to cooperate with the investigation into (or the witnesses voluntarily come forward with information of) the crimes (including corruption) until the completion of the trial because for sure those criminals would be out to silence the witnesses. I imagine this must be what the DPM has in mind.

The second case would be to protect the witnesses from the members or families of the criminals wanting revenge. This is the trickier and more difficult component of the scheme, assuming that the DPM has even thought about this aspect.

The witnesses may require a new identity and re-location. In some cases re-location in a foreign country may even be vital, and this would require some form of mutual arrangements with those countries. Just last year, Britain wanted to re-locate to Australia two child murderers who had grown up in prison. Those two kids had battered a third smaller child to death at a railway track after cold bloodedly luring him to the secluded spot.

While it wasn't a witness protection re-location it has the same elements of consideration. Australians were up in arms against that re-location of whom they saw as potential murderers. Are those two already in Australia? The Australian public till today isn't any wiser.

Once, a bloke, who was the organiser of a tontine, was forced to scoot off from my village because the scheme collapsed. Let me digress for a while onto the Malaysian tontine scheme to make a point related to the witness protection scheme.

The Malaysian (predominantly Chinese) village-style tontine has been different from the Western version but it’s based on a combination of needs, greed and completely unregulated system, meaning it's illegal for a start. However, if properly run, it serves some limited social-economic value in villages.

As a very simplified example of the Malaysian tontine, let's say the scheme has a member ship of 24 – mind you, the more the merrier as the pool of money would be bigger. The basic subscription is, for simplicity sake, say RM20.

If one needs money, then one bids for the pool of RM480 by closed tender. Say if one is desperate, one puts in RM2 as the offer of monthly 'interest'. If that is the highest and winning ballot, then the successful person grabs the RM480 for perhaps the anticipated expenses of Chinese New Year or the kids’ school books or the approaching marriage of a daughter.

The person then pays RM2 extra for every participating member each month until programme ends, which is bloody usurious. The members who didn’t take the pool benefit by RM2 per month, not including subsequent bids. The majority of members had been women because those poor ladies had been the ones managing the household expenses.

Of course I have provided a very simplified example, where the ‘interest’ has been monumentally high (it's actually less than my example but still bloody usurious), but it serves to illustrate who benefits from the scheme and who has to bear the burden of 'interests'. The actual models may be far more complex with sums ranging of RM 20 per month to many hundreds.

The organiser gets a cut of the monthly proceedings for his administrative efforts in collecting dues and organising the monthly tender, etc. The scheme is liable to collapse if (1) the manager scoots off with the pool, or (2) the members who had already taken the pool renege on payments.

Back to that bloke who absconded. Those who don’t bid at all would benefit most but also be highly exposed. I am not sure of the exact reason why he had absconded other than the scheme failed.

The whole village was after his blood, except of course those who had already successfully made use of the scheme. Apparently he had organised several schemes going on at the same time prior to his ‘disappearance’. He was doing so for several years.

Three years later I spotted him with his children in Jitra, Kedah when I stopped to buy the village's famous goreng pisang (fried bananas). He was at the same stall, and when he saw and recognised me, his face went pale. The bloke stood rock still, like a deer caught in the lights of an oncoming car.

I didn’t do anything but ignore him, though he knew that I recognised him. Afterall his kids were my village mates, whom I play with and attended school together for many years. No, I didn’t even tell my mum or anyone I saw him – what’s the point of persecuting him any further when his self re-location to Jitra was already a punishment? But I have no doubt after I left he would be packing up rapidly to re-locate. What a traumatic experience for his family!

I provided this example to show that re-locating witnesses under the witness protection scheme has to be carefully and thoughtfully worked out, or it would be a disaster of life-and-death proportion.

The other aspect related to this is of course the re-location may be to the witness' disadvantage. The new location could well be in a place where one’s profession may not be needed or schooling facilities for his/her children are wanting, etc. What about re-location expenses in terms of housing, travel, and appropriate compensation or even life long pension if the necessary re-location proves to be most disadvantageous to the unfortunate witness, etc? Would a witness be willing to exchange a life among his/her family and friends in Penang for a new life in Sempurna, Sabah, without the comforting familiar environment and support?

Then the government would have to legislate to make it an offence for anyone to attempt to contact the witness or publish any details which may lead to disclosing his/her whereabouts.

As an example of why this is necessary, there was case in Australia, though nothing to do with a witness protection programme, where a man after winning AUS$30 million dollars in a lottery, wisely disappeared with his family for security reasons. But a newspaper which specialises in publishing titillating sensations hunted his whereabouts down and then published the details without any regard for his security. There was no law to prevent that.

Then the most vital issue of all would be the absolute security of the new identity and whereabouts of re-located witnesses. Who manages it? In the USA, I believe it comes under a special exclusive unit of the Justice Department. How far can one trust the Malaysian system?

It’s all well and good for the DPM to say glibly that witnesses would be protected but let’s see more details, provisions for the witnesses beyond just security, and who would be running the scheme? The programme is a bit more involved than just draping a flag over an Egyptian pyramid, when that latter didn't even succeed.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

There's rape & there's rape!

Now this is interesting.

JAG, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, is up in arms against lawyers for their lack of gender awareness, as reflected in the Bar Council's stand on certain proposed Penal Code amendments. And what would those be?

Well, the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code has proposed to table a new sub-section 375 (f) of the Penal Code, which states that a man commits aggravated rape if he has sex with a woman “with her consent, when the consent is obtained by using his position of authority over her or because of professional or other relationship of trust in relation to her.”

Blah blah blah & bloody blah!

In simple words, what it has said was, for example, if a secretary agrees to have sex with her boss, because he has hinted or even vaguely alluded that saying 'no' may jeopardise her job, that, according to the proposed amendment, is rape!

Another example of rape under this provision would be a woman agreeing to have sex with a bomoh (traditional medicine man) or medium because she has been intimidated with the supernatural or brainwashed into trusting the scoundrel and his nefarious acts.

Then there would be the doctor or psychologist who, while treating a patient, uses his professional authority to obtain her consent for sex with her.

JAG said the intention behind the sub-section is to protect women forced into sex by the use of non-physical elements such as the perpetrator’s authority over the woman, and thus has been deeply disappointed with the Bar Council’s complete lack of gender awareness.

The Council has objected to the proposed amendments because it has been concerned that the new sub-section of the Penal Code was way too wide.

But the Bar Council represented by criminal lawyer V Sithambaram explained it has been against the amendment because it was redundant. The exiting law already defines rape as sexual intercourse against a woman’s will. He reckoned the proposed amendment to the Penal Code had been designed to appease the women’s rights groups, who have been insistent on it.

He is worried that the new clause could be easily abused by women should a relationship turn sour.

What he meant was, for example, a boss and his secretary could initially have a genuine love affair where there was no coercion or any form of 'authoritative' pressure in their sexual relationship. Their professional relationship was just coincidental.

But what if the man subsequently changed his mind about the relationship and decided not to marry the woman? She could well blackmail the former boyfriend by threatening to use said subsection to aver she was ‘pressured’ into having sex with him? Or she could claim ‘rape’ as an act of spite.

There’s an old English saying that informs us “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, which undoubtedly the Bar Council must have in mind.

Gulp, I wonder whether a woman could claim ‘rape’ on grounds she was ‘subconsciously pressured’ into having sex because she felt sorry for the poor pathetic grovelling blighter.

Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh said the legal profession body wasn’t ignoring the seriousness of rape committed by a person in a position of authority to obtain sexual favours without genuine consent. But he added:

“We, however, find the wordings of the proposed definition maybe too wide and this may inadvertently capture situations that are not supposed to be covered.”

Yeo said the council did not oppose to the proposed definition per se but would like a review of the wordings.

Both JAG and the Bar Council have their grounds and concerns. What do you think?

MIC Election - More of Same Fare for Indians?

Today is the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) party general election. Humpty Dumpty has already won a new term as the president. No one dared to challenge him, though a bloke, who only after falling out of favour with Humpty because of his support for Subramaniam, did a bit of grandstanding by wanting to challenge Humpty after nominations had long been closed.

The main battleground would see the tussle for the deputy president post between incumbent Subra, whom Humpty wants out, and Palanivel, the president anointed successor.

Some political observers say Subra is as good as finished, but Malaysiakini journalist Baradan Kuppusamy believed it's not that easy to get rid of the current deputy president. He warned that even if Subra loses this round, which he probably will because of the president’s campaign against him, Subra will indulge in his favourite tactic, that of waiting waiting waiting to catch the (elusive) monkey. Poor Subra has been doing that for almost 20 years, like forever, so I suppose we can call him Mr Waiting Forever.

Baradan wrote that challenger Palanivel has been campaigning on the line that his elevation to deputy president would ensure for the party a smooth leadership transition from Humpty to him. Palanivel naturally claimed he’s a hard worker and has done much compared to Subra, who naturally refuted the claim.

As another MIC observer, Dr P Ramasamy had said in Malaysiakini, the MIC party election is one without a development agenda. It’s about their choice between retaining an old horse and bringing in a new one.

I think Dr Ramasamy has been too kind by describing Subra and Palanivel as steeds, when MIC leaders in the way they had and are likely to serve their constituency as component members of the ruling Barisan Nasional, are more akin to cattle or sheep. But he is right in that the MIC party election carries no development agenda, but then it’s the MIC.

Baradan warned that a victorious Palanivel may not have the guaranteed position as Humpty’s anointed heir. The danger for him lies in the vice-presidential contest, in the person of S Sothinathan.

Sothinathan is currently the front runner for one of the 3 VP's positions. But he is viewed as Palanivel future rival and thus greatest threat, so there is already a covert campaign against him, to reduce the likely votes he would get so he won't emerged as the VP with the most votes.

The VP contest is riddled with back biting and probably back stabbing as well. The aim seems to be to ensure Sothinathan doesn't become too prominent to pose a future dangerous challenge to Palanivel. Now, who says the MIC doesn’t have strategic planning? Maybe Subra ought to consider linking up with Sothinathan, if he hasn't yet?

I wonder whether there will be any throwing of chairs today, which was a predominant activity in earlier years. The MCA members have since inherited that popular intra-party expression of overt support for their candidates.

But whatever the outcome of the MIC elections, I reckon it'll be more of the same for the long suffering Indian constituency.

Once upon a time the Chinese community enjoyed the benevolence of wealthy Chinese philanthropists. I am not sure what the situation for them in this respect is today, but what Indian Malaysians need are not politicians. What they need instead is a group of wealthy Indian philanthropists. Afterall, the richest Malaysian is an Indian.

The Indian community could do with these non-politicians who would take up the leadership for their community's welfare and contribute both time and money to ameliorate the Indian Malaysians' social and economic woes.

Cause of War

Immediately after 9/11 occurred, the inner circle of the Bush Administration went into conference.

Despite the lack of evidence that X-country was involved, one member urged that X-country be attacked. This was the same person who blamed X-country for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre.

The person obviously wanted it real nasty for X-country.

Who was this person?
Which country was X?
Who revealed all this?

Friday, June 23, 2006

“yo, thank you, ya mutherf**ker!”

It seems that KL-ites themselves agree with the Readers' Digest's survey that the people in their city are among the world's rudest.

Readers’ Digest had conducted a survey based on 3 points:

(1) dropping papers in a busy street to see if anyone would help;
(2) checking how often shop assistants said "thank you";
(3) and counting how often someone held a door open.

Mumbai won the gold medal while KL the bronze for rudeness. And guess who’s the most courteous?

Why, it’s none other than New York City.

I wonder whether the American magazine conducted the survey in Queens and Harlem? Those residents would certainly thank you, like “yo, thank you, ya mutherf**ker, for your wallet!”

The American survey showed the rudest cities were in Asia, where eight out of nine cities tested finished in the bottom 11. If the Japanese, Koreans or Chinese were to conduct a survey, based on the following 3 points:

(1) do people bow to each other when they meet or when they take leave of each other?
(2) do people open presents in front of the person who made the gift?
(3) do young people call those who are elder than them or of their parents’ peerage by their first (personal) names?

I wonder who would end up as the rudest cities in general, and finish in the bottom 10?

I remember an incident when I was in London. While queuing up for a bus I was nearly stampeded by rushing passengers who broke from the queue to board the transport. An old English gentleman tapped me on my shoulder and apologised, saying “Sorry about those Continentals; they aren't English, you know.”

Once I was in Doncaster, visiting a shopping centre in winter. Immediately after entering the mall, I held the entrance glass door open for an elderly lady who was just behind me. But after she entered, a stream of other people just stormed in without bothering to relieve me from holding the door. Most actually avoided my eyes.

Hmmm, maybe I looked like the shopping complex official door opener? But my host, who took me there, after having a quiet giggle, dragged me away forcefully. She said I could have been there all day if I wasn’t assertive enough, as people in that town would have taken advantage of my courtesy.

One day in Jakarta I was on a packed bus to Block M (Jakarta's equivalent of PJ), when I surrendered my seat to an elderly lady - no one had bothered to do so. Some of the elderly Indon gents were amazed at my very basic act of respect and courtesy, which most Malaysians (that I have been aware of) would have also done.

It became an open conversational piece on the bus, right in front of me. My Penang partner Rahman, who's one hell of a big extrovert just so happened to be with me. He seized the opportunity for a bit of nationalistic exhibitionism, going overboard with a 10-minutes oral dissertation of Malaysian male chivalry.

He sure lapped up the admiring looks, hey Man, meant for me. But everyone was smiling in a most friendly manner at me when we disembarked at Block M, but I only returned the smiles of you-guess-who.

When I did the same act of courtesy for a (40-ish) lady in Australia, she glared at me and refused my vacated seat, saying rudely "I don't need your seat, so sit down!" After I got down at my destination, Bob, my Aussie mate revealed that some Aussie women didn't take kindly to any old fashion chivalry because they felt those men were insulting their "equality".

OK, here is the part where I think sh*t of the Readers’ Digest survey. It placed Hong Kong as the most polite Asian city, which to me is the biggest bullsh*t I have ever heard.

I had several unpleasant encounters there with rude Honkies, probably among the rudest Asians, if not the rudest. Once I tipped a waiter HK$10, and to my shock, he sneered at me before crumbling and flinging the bill on my table, and then stomping off with a huff and a puff. Apparently, HK$10 wasn't enough.

In Beijing, while I hadn’t encountered any direct rudeness, I was surprised by a young sweet looking Chinese lady who asked me why I keep saying thank you to the shop assistants who were serving me, when I had been the customer. I smiled at her (I hope, because my smile sometimes come across to women as a lecherous leer) and said “thank you for telling me, thank you.”

I think I confused her. Probably she must be thinking that bloody Malaysian bloke didn’t understand English and the meaning of the term "thank you", yes?

Then, But Now ...?

When DPM Najib objected to Malaysians winning the world's bronze medal for rudeness, a Malaysiakini reader with the pen name of Meng commented:

"Don’t be in denial, Najib. Our education centres (universities) used to be one of the best in Asia. Our police force was one of the most disciplined 20 years ago. Our crime rate one of the lowest in Southeast Asia. Our people one of the most courteous."

Though I would argue against the methodology or even the scope of the Reader Digest magazine's survey which arrived at the abysmal finding (for us) that Malaysians are the world's 3rd rudest people, thus other than this, I have been struck by Meng's truth in reminding us of:

(1) UM being one of Asia's top university. Now ...?

Our only evidence had been to put up billboards and banners to try to convince ourselves we are still there as we were once upon a time.

(2) Our police being one of the most disciplined. Now ...?

Is this the normal Friday ha-ha we normally receive in our mailboxes?

(3) Our crime rates one of the lowest. Now ...?

Still that but only if we don't count snatchings, rapes, incests, murders, burglaries, acts of gangsterism like those perpetrated by loan sharks and some political parties, extortions by civilian and uniformed criminals ...

and may I add to Meng's list:

(4) Our ringgit one of the strongest. Now ...?

Compared to our natural-resource-less neighbour ........

(5) Penang was SE Asia's education centre. Now ...?

We have just started to wake up and bleat about Chinese student numbers falling and hope to form the region's educational hub.

I could take this train of thoughts even further by examining, for example, Penang's cleanliness, rivers and streams, beaches, gardens, security and safety, quality of hawkers' fare, standard of politicians, etc - note I rate hawkers' fare above politicians.

But now ...?

Miss Fong is wearing MCA's balls!

When a country has a differential system, whether it’s on fuel pricing, price of housing or a college education system leading to university admission, corruption and abuse are inevitable.

In the first case, that of fuel, we know and have heard of subsidized fuel being illegally “siphoned off” for profiteering. We are aware that housing discount for bumiputras have not benefited the official targets, the needy bumiputras, but only the big-timers who have been kindly “subsidized” by relatively poor non-bumiputra purchasers.

As for admittance into preferred university courses, well, yesterday I posted the views of a Malaysiakini reader in University Admission Figures - One Big Lie! Well, here's another.

Like other Malaysian annual events, the annual controversy over admissions to the country’s public higher education institutions (PHEI) has arrived, when dissatisfied unsuccessful candidates feel they aren’t Malaysians afterall.

DAP Youth has expressed its contempt for the currently-used "meritocracy" system, saying that it is not transparent enough since it is applied for two different examination systems. The higher education minister has been told to stop applying double standards in selecting the students.

Dap Youth’s deputy chief Fong Po Kuan (otherwise known as ‘thunder-voice’) said: “One better system should be implemented; either matriculation or STPM and the other one should be abolished.”

Sh*t! She's far too logical. Maybe that's why she's in the opposition.

Her discontent has to do with the fact that most bumiputera students qualify through the matriculation system while the bulk of non-bumis attempt to gain varsity admission through the STPM route.

Fong asked why the higher education ministry has been so reluctant to have a single syllabus under which all students could be graded by same examinations and compete for PHEI admission on an equal platform.

Why? She's damn bloody sneaky, 'cause she knows why!

She chewed the ministry for non-transparency over its course-matching criteria which has given rise to much dissatisfaction and disappointment among the students. That's known as the 'X' factor - you work out what 'X' stands for.

She declared (futilely, if I may add):

“The ministry should stop giving reason that students are not only graded by examination results but also by co-curricular achievements. Students who were not selected do not know the reason for their failure in not getting admission.”

“They should announce the cut-off points to avoid the ministry blaming students for making a mistake by applying for the wrong course.”

Fong said the ministry should also reveal the selected students’ grade points to allow those not selected a comparison.

See what I mean by her embarking on a futile mission.

Fong lectured the government that unfair polices would force good students to accept scholarships form neighbouring countries. She concluded that the government's campaign to welcome back Malaysian professionals from foreign lands will be a total waste of money and time because those professionals were not offered the place here in the first instance.

I wouldn't agree with that because there's one born every minute.

But the most impossible and hurting words from her has been to remind the MCA to challenge the higher education ministry’s non-transparent polices and ‘stop pretending to be like a hero’ by assisting the rejected students.

Because when the MCA looks at Fong, they would silently curse her for showing that she has somehow been wearing not only their pants but their balls as well.

Malay Engineers, Chinese Accountants, Indian Doctors

Thursday, June 22, 2006

University Admission Figures - One Big Lie!

A Malaysiakini reader who called him or herself as Product of the System disputed the statistics that Higher Education Management Department director-general Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said offered. I posted that in Malay Engineers, Chinese Accountants, Indian Doctors.

Product of the System averred that Prof Hassan Said’s presentation of the methodology of assessing one’s CGPA, co-curricular activities and point system has been nothing more than an annual UMNO sandiwara (theatrics or in this context, bullsh*t). It’s a show & tell produced, directed and edited by UMNO to fool the gullible Malaysian voter.

He or she claimed that it has been an annual ritual for the pro-BN media to publish statistics of successful applicants into the ‘crucial courses’ of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, engineering and law, broken down into bumiputeras, Chinese and Indians, when those figures have been false.

He/she said: “Falsifying statistics are sometimes less indecent than concealing them. Hassan Said did not reveal the breakdown of successful applicants by their entrance route – STPM or matriculation. During the racial quota era, STPM applicants formed at least 40 percent of the student population.”

“In 2004 and 2005 – the era of pseudo-meritocracy, the number of STPM students gaining entry into UM medical school numbered only 36 and 17 out of 168 and 207 respectively. In other words, from a decent figure of 40 percent, the number of successful STPM applicants crashed to a mere 8 - 21% of the annual intake into UM medical faculty. It goes very much without saying who forms 90 percent of the student population - matriculation candidates.”

Therefore, for non-Malays the so-acclaimed “meritocracy” system was even worse than the “racial” quota system. I must say he’s not the first to point this out. I have met many academicians who told me this when the so-called “meritocracy” system was introduced. In other words, the UMNO government has no intention ever of allocating university places on merit. In reality, the authority has further increased the racial quota in favour of its social policy.

To summarise, Product of the System said the so-called "meritocracy" system has been an UMNO sleigh of hands, where there has been actually (1) less percentage of non-Malays being admitted to Malaysian universities, (2) the insidious use of the term "bumiputras" because in reality non-Malay bumiputras, mainly Sabahans and Sarawakians, are being denied the fair allocation they deserve, and (3) weak or substandard Malay students kept in universities for eons until they would eventually pass, thus denying able non-Malay students admission to universities year in and year out.

Read his full letter here for more detailed points.

Malays' neo-feudalism hypermodern inner construct?

Dr Azly Rahman, an academician who holds all sorts of mind-boggling degrees, writes regularly for Malaysiakini. He is notable for using frightening words in his essays that makes you wonder whether your education has been an utter failure, or you’re an intellectual pygmy, or you're suffering from ataxaphasia, or perhaps you have just overeaten more than your share of pulut-nasi-lemak-cum-banana-santan-curry-ish literature. You suffer hours or even days of slow literary digestion.

Anyway, I do read him mainly because I could do with some physical (not mental) exercises - his articles has me scurrying around for various dictionaries all the time. I gather from his string of articles he’s a closeted conservative though he berates (if I use this word incorrectly, well I am not Dr Azly Rahman, so do forgive me) his readers regularly for succumbing to feudalistic brain washing.

He believes that the wayang kulit display of the Ramayana epic or the makyong is a form of neo-feudalistic indoctrination (Jeez, I'm beginning to sound like him) of our minds to genuflect to Rama-like figures, namely kings and political rulers.

However, despite his fondness of stretching to breaking point the limits of my lexical command of the English language, I was attracted to a few paragraph in his latest article titled Neo-feudalism of the cybernetic Malays. Awesome title - see what I mean!

After perilously negotiating through frightening stuff like ‘a manifestation of this neo-feudalism hypermodern inner construct of the Malay’ and ‘the disposition of the neo-feudal Malay mentality that will require a Lacanian (postmodern psycholinguistics) analysis’ we finally and with immense relief arrived at:

In many an analysis of the transformation of the Malay society from the times of the Melaka Sultanate to the emergence of the Malay nationalism we find the conclusion of the idea of a good Malay subject is one who surrenders total obedience to his or her Ruler (the sultan or the Raja). The king is said to be ‘(Allah’s) representative on this earth’ and is thus bestowed with the Divine Rights.

Social status is calibrated based on the sophistication of the signs and symbols of the Malay sultanate. For example, royal awards are presented yearly to those who have demonstrated good service and relationship to the constitutional monarchical system. Upon receiving these awards, some recipients would even be given honorific titles. Many will use their honour to dishonourably gain economic privileges. The notion of the daulat or the ‘divine sanction’ still continues to this day.

The concept of a hero in Malay society is enshrined in Hang Tuah, the most popular symbol of the warrior-class in Malay history; the good ‘polyglot’, the magical-mystical Malay hero who pledged blind loyalty to the Sultan. The image of the warrior-blind loyalist is well-inscribed into the literature and consciousness of the Malays.

Today, enshrined, is the modern-day doctrine of allegiance to the ruler in the form of the Rukunegara or the ‘Principles of the Nationhood’. The myth of Hang Tuah, arguably, together with his friends Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, and Hang Lekiu has been inscribed into the consciousness of the Malays and forms the foundation of the master-slave narrative.

Though he missed out Hang Kasturi, he seems to have a point somewhere among those awesome words. From the recent Mahathir-Abdullah stoush, we see daily obligatory public expressions of fealty by those who offered themselves as political serfs. Real hair-raising stuff that's just embarrassingly terlampau jeleh (overly obsequious).

Then we see worse, the opposite form of such behavioural construct ;-) of petty officials who think that as 'public servants' they entitled to treat the public as servants.

But sometimes I wish Dr Azly would just say something more succinct and pointedly, like “F**k those corrupt leaders, don’t let them shaft you and your minds”.

Then again, I suppose KTemoc’s language-contruct, unlike Dr Azly's filoselle lexiphanic proclivity, is but a mere sub-stratified deviant-variant that's pseudo-calibrated to the hypo-hoi-polloi-ish construct of deprived-neo-kampong social-linguistic culture that's prone to coprolalia inclination, perceived by neo-Ramayana-like personalities as stercorageous, and hyper-embrangling.

Have I been fustian and magliloquent enough to join Dr Azly's stature?

PKR leader: "Use ISA on Article 11 coalition"

Badrul Amin Baharom, a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) supreme council member, former International Islamic University Malaysia lecturer, and a former ISA detainee, admitted that he called for the use of the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) against the Article 11 coalition.

The Article 11 coalition has been conducting a signature drive and road shows on matters related to freedom of religion. Its forum in Penang was, however, disrupted by the Anti Inter-Faith Commission (Badai), including PAS youth members.

Last month Badai had formed a 200-strong protest group that had, through an aggressive protest in Penang, disrupted an Article 11-organised public forum to discuss freedom of religion.

Badrul said: “I told the crowd that those from Article 11, in discussing sensitive issues of religion, are trying to threaten social harmony.”

Well, he had no choice but to ‘fess up because his nasty comments during a ceramah in Kelantan were reported in PAS organ Harakah.

Harakah quoted him as saying that the ISA should be used on members of the Article 11 coalition because they were ‘dangerous and could threaten the faith of Muslims’.

I wonder whether this PKR bloke had been a former UMNO chap because his readiness to employ the ISA against a group he didn’t like seems to be a typical modus operandi of UMNO.

Badrul admitted that he had been speaking on Muslim discontent over the Article 11 coalition’s activities, but claimed that he had been quoted out of context. He now claims he would never support the use of the ISA on anyone, as it was against his personal stand and that of his party.

“That aside, I said that if the government was sincere in maintaining national security, it should use the ISA on these individuals.”

“But I meant it in a cynical way, addressed to the government.”

Do you believe him? I don’t because Badrul continued by saying:

“For the time being, we should wait for the situation to calm down. Later, we will try again (to hold discussions). The Article 11 coalition must learn not to be too aggressive, because that would be met by aggression.”

“… met by aggression?” With keris dripping with blood? This bloke has perhaps shown his colours.

And was the Article 11 coalition aggressive?