Monday, 26 November 2007

I wish to believe

I wish to believe. I seriously do. To trust in something is so important that whether one would derive real or false sense of security hinges on this very trust. For instant, if you entrust your beloved daughter/sister/mother/niece/auntie to a stranger, you are actually leaving their fates to someone who may or may not bring untold harm to them. This act could potentially change lives if you neglect so much as ensuring that the person you entrusted is trustworthy.

So what comes into your mind when you read the following excerpt from the Star Online today under the title, Batu Caves temple property damaged, 69 protesters held?

"Musa said no tear gas or water cannons were used at the demonstrators during the incident."

So which incident is this? It is none other than the Batu Caves incident which Musa described as police having to act on a police report raised by the Batu Caves temple committee to disperse about 1,000 Hindraf protesters gathering there at 2 a.m. on Sunday. Before I proceed, take a hard look at the pictures (or more pics from here) below:

Source: Screenshots

I wonder if the smoke is caused by fireworks and the water is an attempt of police putting out the possible fire caused by the same fireworks. Afterall, the IGP himself claimed no tear gas or water cannons were used.

On the New Straits Times Online today it was reported under the article, IGP: They'd no intent to give memo, we read that:

"We exercised restraint and only used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd. There was no body contact from my men," Musa stressed.

He further added that police picked up 240 people for investigations. I wonder how do they pick them up without any body contact? I guess zorro-unmasked has an answer.

I am at a lost. To whom should I seek for an honest account of the event? A high ranking official of this Government, our daily newspapers or bloggers?

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang?

Isn’t it extraordinary to be living in this country? We inherited an established Westminster style of parliamentary democracy and British public service that places us a step ahead of the rest in Asia. We also started with a large citizenry who is well versed in English, our education system is one of the best in Asia and given our multi-ethnic and religion makeup, we have a good melting pot that testify to the uniqueness of Malaysia as a representative of Asia.


But as the years gone by, like new furniture subject to repeated usage and abuse, things begin to wear out. The pristine condition of a beige leather sofa will be replaced with shades of grey and glaring pen markings with fillings struggling to burst out from the sides of the cushion. Also, the bouncy feel of the cushion will probably be replaced with flat hard surface that provides discomfort and backaches to anyone who sits there for a mere 10 minutes.

Yup, Malaysia has become the used sofa suitable for the dumps. We have seen declining education standards, increasingly weakening command of English held by the successive generations, rising tension amongst the people and increasingly concentration of power in the executive arm of the Government. As if there aren’t enough indicators that it is overdue for an overhaul, we see today, yet again how a rally, deemed illegal by a selective application of a draconian law (contrast that with the rally held by UMNO Youth led by SIL), held by peaceful and largely Malaysians of Indian origin citizenry being crushed by the use of police force vis-à-vis liquid chemicals and tear gases.

The leaders of HINDRAF failed to send in the memorandum and decided to call it off indefinitely after gathering for about 7 hours. Would the government now be satisfied that by their own action they may have pushed these growing disgruntled people to perhaps consider the one last move which is unthinkable to a modern progressive civil society? I hope not and I certainly wish nothing of that sort will ever happen. I believe the Government should have taken the same stance as Anwar Ibrahim when he said it correctly that these grievances should be allowed public space for free speech expression and not be bottled up.

Democracy re-emerged in the last 3 centuries, since last seen and practiced in archaic form in ancient Greece and Rome, and became a popular mode of governance because the powers-that-be form of governance before democracy more often than not held absolute powers and tolerates zero defiance and dissent. Where the need to change the governing powers-that-be, it is often by means of bloodshed, suffering and great lost of property. Having seen the destructive and violent nature of humankind, many wise thinkers and leaders hope that by instituting democracy mode of governance, these bloodshed and suffering will be done away with once and for all, if not minimized, and everyone under the sun in whichever state where democracy is implemented will enjoy equal opportunity to utilise their God-given capabilities (whichever god they believe or not in part or entirety) to participate in a peaceful activities meant to better their nations, communities, friends, families and themselves.

With this style of governance to function effectively, universal human rights must be provided in each of these respective nation. Luckily for us, the United Nations have long ago prepared a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Included in this declaration is the freedom of peaceful assembly and association (one can also find it in the Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution) which today our government has successfully proven to mean nothing when it used its police to forcefully end a peaceful assembly today. When asked why the police used force vis-à-vis tear gases and liquid chemicals to end a peaceful assembly, the weak and aversive reply given by MP for Cameran Highlands, S.K. Devamany, begs the question as to whether the executive branch of this Government is cowering from the wounds inflicted by the same TV station, Al-Jazeera, on 11 November 2007 when our infamous Information Minister showcased the acceptable level of English proficiency one needed to occupy the ministerial position.

Also, in our own local media we read little about HINDRAF and what it stands for. One can only form sketchy perception of it based on the news article read from our local media. Predictably, the most coverage given clearly portrayed the 3 main organizers arrested as trouble makers of the seditious nature and it is all about a lawsuit against the British government. The prior rallies which include one held in Putrajaya on 12 August 2007 were not reported in any of our local government sanctioned media thought that rally clearly spelt out the actual reason why HINDRAF later, out of desperation, decided to raise an impossible suit against the British government and took to the streets today. By silencing the dissenting voices, the disgruntled growing number of people is being denied with another universal human right and that is the freedom of opinion and expression, which includes freedom to hold opinions without interference.

Is the call to “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang” a hollow sound spun to raise an empty hope? I foresee many, rightly or wrongly, increasingly share the same sentiments as the Jedi Master Yoda when he spoke in the final days of the Republic that too much have been clouded by the dark side, and the judgement of the Jedi order was perhaps sullied by complacency and arrogance.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Ungrateful Lot

I am unhappy. Seriously, it was a good day today to spend time with kids. If you are wondering, I do not have my own kids. Heck, I am not even married. Anyway, in this day and age, many have kids without being married.

Here I was busy painting a piece of rock with brushes when I received a call from my sister. She asked me how many cards I need for the wedding invitation. I told her 650 cards as we are going to invite that many people. She said that number is not reasonable because we must not preclude married couples, unmarried but nevertheless couples and so on. I thought about it and I said 500 cards. She said that amount is still too many. I said I have my reasons for it. Now imagine yourself, haven’t touch a single brush since form 3 and attempting to paint a car on a piece of rock with 162 kids while trying to answer a call. It was loud so I replied I still wanted 500 cards. She said I don’t have to be so upset. I should learn to be grateful. I was shocked. Is this fair?


One must wonder, what does she mean by ungrateful here? Well, let me draw you a few months back before this conversation started. Back then, I announced to my parents I am going to marry the only serious girlfriend I have been together with for a good 8 years. My parents were happy and my sister volunteered to get my cards printed for free because she said she knew someone who can do it for free. I was glad of course because that would certainly save some money and who would reject the offer.

Now, zoom back to the present where she last ended with I should learn to be grateful. As I was saying, I was shocked. Why? Firstly, I didn’t ask for her to get my cards printed for me for free. Even if she did volunteer to print for me for free, she never told me it is limited. No one should because everyone knows that they would be going overboard if they ask for unreasonable amount of cards.

I know when I mentioned 650 cards it would be unreasonable provided I know for sure who is coming and they will, despite terrible weather, poor road condition, sickness, death threats and et cetera, confirmed to me that they will be there. The problem is I don’t because this dinner banquet involves two families and my other half’s is quite an extended family. Given that her father is also a successful businessman, I am somewhat certain he too, will be inviting a lot of business associates. I dare not be stingy with giving limited cards so I asked for 650. Now, to me, since it is free, perhaps I shouldn’t be asking too much, I decided to ask for 500. To me that is a very reasonable number. And still to be told I am ungrateful and upset? I tried to explain to her that I was not upset but by then, I was upset all because she accused me of being ungrateful. I explained to her in a protest note and midway, the phone was cut off. I tried calling back later and even sent a SMS but as of now, there is no reply. Perhaps she was that busy because she said she couldn’t send my cards design this morning because she is busy rushing out a board paper.

When I checked my e-mail in office (yes, I went back after a full day with 162 kids) earlier, I saw an e-mail to the printer with a message that goes like this:

"Hi Ms X (no name given to protect the identify of the innocent party),

I have attached the file. I hope you can do it… thanks.”

I wonder, am I really being ungrateful or is my sister being unreasonable? Anyway, I wrote to the printer to ask for quotation for 500 wedding cards. I guess by paying for it, I would not run into a dispute as to whether I am grateful or not.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

That time of the year

Yes folks, it is that time of the year again. As surely as the northeast monsoon hits our shores during the November and December period, it is also the time of the year our beloved and helpless Government appealing to the public to fund its coffers. No, the Inland Revenue Board didn’t bring forward the submission deadlines so don’t fret. It is actually a self-inflicted problem that comes back to haunt us with increasing frequency.

Are you still wondering what is it? Well, let me show you a snippet of an article published last year.

Yes, that’s right. It is none other than our beloved toll increase. The difference between what we seen last year and this year is there are now 9 concessionaires seeking their scheduled toll hike per their concession agreements. One must wonder, why must we be “informed” of this? After all these years, knowing toll rates increase should by now be part and parcel of our lives, surely we should be desensitized by it right? Besides, we know of a certain education minister who is confident enough that his little keris antic demonstration in a racially based political general meeting would eventually be accepted by the antagonized Chinese as a largely symbolic act, despite the fact that his predecessor wanted to spill the Chinese blood with it back in the 1980s.

On top of that, our wonderful Works Minister has to alert us of the quantum the Government has to pay if they don’t allow for the scheduled increase which of course is not in sens (which will be done away with as another cost saving measures) but in millions of ringgit. For the 2008 scheduled increase, it would be a whopping RM380 million compensation!

That’s right folks, our Government has managed to build so many highways that we, the rakyat, have to bear the brunt of all toll increases. To show that the Government wasn’t spared, Samy Vellu highlighted that the Government compensated Litrak for reducing the toll rate from RM2.10 to RM1.60. How noble isn’t it? They paid RM75 million to help those poor motorists traversing through Litrak highway to enjoy cheaper toll rates.

Now before we jump in jubilee that our Government has saved the day, please remember that in the first place, we would not be in this state of affair had the Government employed proper resources and consulted experts as to how to come out with a “win-win” methodology to finance, construct and manage highways for the benefit of everyone on a long term sustainable basis. So people, just be prepared to fork out more money. As a simple reminder of how much the increase was previously, I have appended another snippet of a protest letter posted less than a year ago.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

When Lassie goes home

Have you watch the television series, Lassie, before? I always enjoyed this show in my younger days because this adorable dog, has on many occasions, used her amazing abilities to help people in need. But do you know Lassie has a dark secret? The Lassie you see on TV is actually a he. When I told my colleague that Lassie is actually a he, she was stunned and went silent. She was shocked because she actually thought Lassie is a she. Well, it goes to show males, can, on various occasions, assume the role of a she when he sets his mind to it. But of course, this is not the crux of my argument.

So what am I talking about? Well, I find it moving when the president of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Ong Ka Ting, assures 1.28 million people living in 450 new villages that their welfare will be taken care of. In assuring them, he even said that as long as MCA is around, they will not be victimised. Isn’t it heart moving to hear from the leader of the 2nd largest political party in Barisan Nasional (BN) assuring the people that they are misplacing their concerns on expired land leases and that their welfare will be taken care of? To cap the entire assurance given, we further read that he said he knew the hearts and minds of the villagers because he was born and raised in a new village.

Well, my advice is to take words said by any politicians, especially those from BN, with a large spoonful of salt. Heart wrenching it may be, one must not forget that there are many Lassies in BN too. Why? Well look at what happened to Namewee. He is epitomized as the most viled and hated Public Enemy No.1 of Malaysia. What? Isn’t it Drugs? Rampant Corruption? Murderers? Rapists? Snatch Thieves? Mat Rempit? No, not really going by what was discussed in recent UMNO annual general meeting recently held. Of course the distant second public enemy should be AirAsia for making their air stewardess wear indecent clothes. Tsk, tsk…

Anyway, you must wonder why I mentioned Namewee? It is true, this guy to some extent rapped sensitive issues which is offensive to people. Well, not everything he said is true but certainly there are some truths in his self produced MTV and of course as the saying goes, truth hurts. But of course, you must wonder, what has this to do with MCA. If you followed the trail of the newspaper articles, you will noticed that try as they might, in the end MCA couldn’t get Wee Meng Chee off the hook despite alleging that Wee is merely a young man who got made mistakes and should be forgiven. They even made him apologised but in the end, the Government would have none of that and Mr Wee must receive his just punishment. Well, Mr Wee, good luck in Taiwan. You need it since you might be arrested if you ever set foot In Malaysia again.

And we also read about the dreaded Article 11 of the Constitution issue. If you recall earlier last year, nine ministers submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister (PM) seeking for a review of laws affecting the right of non-Muslims. However, as of today, we heard nothing from the executive or the legislative on laws being legislated to that effect. To top it off, the PM was so upset that the nine ministers decided to withdraw the memorandum. And how can one be not concern about being kicked out of leasehold lands when it expires?

Well, before I call it a night, let me share with you another story. It happened to my friend recently and she told me that this was also reported in the Chinese vernacular newspapers. Apparently she went with her family on a tour to Hunan and they visited a jewellery shop. While they were looking around at the jewellery, the sales attendant asked where they came from and they replied, “Malaysia”. He immediately went into a back room and called the owner’s daughter to greet them. She told them that her father was a Malaysian who fled to Myanmar due to the May 13 incident and married a local tribe princess. There he established contacts and managed to import jewellery from Myanmar to China and all the way to Hong Kong to make a fortune. Apparently, he told her daughter to sell to his fellow Malaysians at cost should any stop by their shops. The lady went on further and in the meantime, demonstrated her expertise and professionalism and added in a few freebies to convince them to buy her jewellery. Well, they did and when they read what was reported recently in the papers, they were shocked. Apparently, a few other Malaysians bought sapphires from this shop and it turns out to be fakes.

The moral? Proximity may be miles apart and familiarity breeds contempt.

Monday, 19 November 2007

When the opposite is a necessary evil

I am not sure what is going on lately other than I sensed anxiety permeating from the articles I read from our government sanctioned media. Without fail, you can easily find articles criticising the opposition parties as irresponsible, disarray, extremist and knows nuts about running the country. So far, they are even accused of creating racial disunity to the detriment of this country.

Be that as it may, I have a friend who e-mailed me telling me that he has been told to stop posting issues that are critical to the ruling parties. He told me that these people out of good intentions told him to be careful as he may be used by the distrust evil opposition parties. Their concerns are valid to an extent and it usually contains the following themes:

i) Some opposition parties hold extremist religious views and their intention of creating a theocratic government sends shivers down our spines,

ii) Opposition parties basically have no policies whatsoever on how to run the country and they can't even manage their own "households" with the media having a field day reporting about defections and dissatisfaction,

iii) The ruling party, Barisan Nasional (BN), despite its failings, have delivered a lot of economic progress and they felt that since BN are run by humans, rightly or wrongly, a bit of errors and greed is necessary to keep people interested,

iv) Why rock the boat when things aren't going too badly? We get our 3 meals if not more, each adult in our family either has a car or motorcycle, get to go on a holiday once in awhile, gainfully employed and can afford little luxuries in life which people in other 3rd world nations don't even get to see, hear, touch, taste and smell in their entire life!

and et cetera, et cetera.

Well, I do admit, these people have thought about things before they came out with their reasons and admittedly, I too felt the same way once for a long, long time until recently. May I suggest we take this one step further?

To be fair, I fear PAS. Seriously, I do. I am worried, what if they take over the country, would we be using camels, wearing the latest Mid-East fashion and refrain from eating pork (gasp!)? But, then, I realised something profound. So what if PAS rise to power? It is inevitable that those who are religiously fervent, when grouped together, will achieve much in power. Afterall, they have the numbers. But may I ask, by supporting the so-called moderate i.e. BN, would we see less erosion of non-Muslim rights? Would we see our "illegally built" yet old temples, churches and even mosques be preserved as a symbol of our tolerance and multi-cultural understanding? Our former Prime Minister himself declared Malaysian is an Islamic State and it is still being echoed today. Whether it is BN or PAS, it makes no difference. Eventually, both will implement more Islamic related principles in governing this country. Can you trust BN to be more understanding of our non-Muslim needs? I suggest you ask Lina Joy and Revathi Massosai.

But some would say, but surely we should look at it from another angle, after all, it is not the government led by BN that transformed Malaysia from a 3rd world backwater tin-mining and rubber tapping economy to an industrialised nation? Well, one cannot deny that. I absolutely agree that in their watch, our country was transformed. But at what cost? I read in the papers of rising moral delinquency and crime rate. I also read about how our local prestigious public universities are setting standards on how to slide down the world university rankings. Only in Malaysia, with no open tender system, do you find RM40 screwdrivers being purchased at RM224 or a suspected criminal felt vindicated when he is released by the court due to incompetency shown by the prosecutors. And during their watch as well we saw our judiciary being transformed from a respectable independent branch of the government to a servant of the executive. So are you surprised when you somehow sensed justice is not served when a suspected murderer goes scot free because of technicalities?

Yes admittedly, the opposition parties have their fair share of problems and in-fights. I am not surprised since we are talking about politicians here. But for a ruling coalition, consists of main partners such as UMNO, MCA and MIC, having run this country since 1950s with a worsening track record, it is perhaps the best time for we, the rakyat, to usher in changes. If you employ a contractor to fix your roof since you have always employed the same contractor doesn't mean the same contractor will do the same good job over and over again. Experience matters but it doesn't guarantee results. Besides, if we are all only looking for experienced people, tell your kids to better not look for a job. They probably can't do the work anyway since they have no prior experience.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

So which is it?

I posted my first article on my first ever blog yesterday. I was exhilarated that I finally took the brave step to write and publish my thoughts online. As I was slowly recovering from hitting the submit button, a thought came over something I read.

Now, Kak Fidah said that investors are keen on doing business here despite the rallies and demonstrations. She said that they are interested in how we are going to help them to make money and they of course know about the history of our opposition parties. She then switched into the wise-sage mode by cautioning the public to be aware of what the opposition is trying to do before concluding with “it is a negative move”. From where I am standing I wonder to whom is it negative to? Hmmm… (Hint, hint. Two names pronounced together. An insect that gathers honey and another that is being bullied by the grasshopper.)

Secondly, why would she need to warn the public that this is a negative move when no investors give a damn about rallies and demonstrations? I mean, since they should be coming here knowing what kind of opposition parties we have, one must conclude that these rallies and demonstrations are mere irritations that they can bear with it. Yet they are not coming in droves. We all know that the Government has launched a lot of economic development regions and proposed lots of incentives but other than some news on possibility of an international theme park operator interested in operating from South Johor and Middle Eastern investors trying to sell the stories to their countrymen, we aren’t exactly seeing money flooding into this country. As we all should be well aware, foreign direct investments have not return to the levels seen in the 90s after the 1997 - 1998 economic crisis. Now why is that? Kak Fidah already said they couldn’t care less about a rally that only occurred less than a week ago. Is the minister hinting something sinister the opposition parties are capable of doing that even the ruling party can’t stop them? Hmmm….

And why is it so negative when the recent “illegal” rally which “happen” to start and ended peacefully but for some strong arm tactics employed by the police to forcefully disperse the crowd? I really don’t get it.

While Kak Fidah was rather taciturn about why we seem to have short supply of foreign investors pouring money into this country, another minister hinted the possible reason as to why they are not coming. Ali Rustam said that peace-loving Malaysians have suffered and businesses have incurred losses! So is that it? Does he mean rallies and demonstrations do result in losses? Then why is Kak Fidah saying the investors didn’t care about demonstrations or rallies? But one must recall what I said above that investors are not coming in droves way before this BERSIH rally. Now if we drop all references to the rally or sinister opposition parties which no one could care about or waste time on, could it be something to do with the policies of this country resulting in possible losses? Are the two ministers trying to tell us something by using the rally as a secret code?

So which is it? As ministers who are supposed to be in the know, you should be able to give better reasons and answers than that. Calling it a waste of time in the same breath as an irresponsible act while acting mute and dumb when it comes to explaining the real reason(s) why the foreign investors aren’t coming in droves since 1998 tells me something is really stinky with these statements made.

Is that the smell of pants on fire?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Is BN a sore loser?

Normally I would not be bothered to read any of the local newsprints on political oriented national news because I seldom find anything of value or interest on it. Afterall, when one is repeatedly told on how to live and behave and yet screaming pot calling kettle black don't exactly help the cause. However, I found it amusing to read the recent articles printed by Bernama.Com, The New Straits Times Online and The Star Online.

Why? Because I sensed the streak of kiasu-ism and sore loser emitting from the pages I read online when it comes to who is the winner behind the recent Nov 10 Bersih rally. Afterall, why would the powers-that-be terribly bother with this event if it is really such a waste of time or led by pondans and my pride hurts because my ability to rally 4 million is not recognised?

Now, as you all should be well aware, the Government has already issued repeated warnings to the rakyat to not attend this rally and have even instructed the police to take all necessary actions to ensure that there will be no rally since no permit is issued. Instead, about 40,000 showed up at the rally to witness the handover of the electoral reform memorandum to His Majesty the Agong's representative at his palace, despite the torrential rainfall, extensive police road blocks and official warnings.

Following that eventful day, we begin to read comments from the powers-that-be denouncing the whole event.

Firstly, we read of Najib talking about upmanship in trying to keep up with the Jones. I guess big boys need big toys to show who has the "better" toy and saying "I have a card up my sleeve" is supposed to prove something. Yes, I am lost too.

Next, according to Nazri, this gathering was a ploy by the opposition to create excuses for their imminent defeat at the next polls and he started the name calling by calling these organisers as pondan. Is this how a minister is supposed to win an argument in parliament? By calling names?

Following that, you have Ali Rustam describing this event as a waste of time. Well, I guess Ali Rustam must have spent quality time when he went on and on with his diatribe in PPP's recent annual meeting in Malacca.

Now for a ruling party that controls so much yet achieve so little despite its best attempts to put a stop to a peaceful gathering speaks volume when they resort to name calling and dismissive attitude to brush aside an otherwise resounding successful event. If you don't call that sore loser/sour grape, then I don't know how else to define it.

On top of that, for some odd reason, by labelling it opposition-led would send signal to the masses that this BERSIH thing is instead filled with filth and dirt. Somehow, having dissenting views should be a blessing because it is a reminder that one is not always right and the conduct of oneself in public should take public consideration into view.

I am not sure about you but I have the tingling feeling and impression of purity, cleanliess and white as snow when I hear the word bersih. Try as they might in painting whatever picture they have, the real pictures speak thousand words.

Syabas to BERSIH and the rakyat for being the real winners!