Monday, 2 April 2018

Fake News

A WhatsApp joke has been making the rounds:

Before Fake News Bill 2018

Dungu: I'm on the way, a bit jam lah.
Abuden: Ya, me too, traffic really bad.

After Fake News Bill 2018

Dungu: Still in bed; I overslept.
Abuden: Ya, me too. See you in an hour.

People have been lying since the serpent told Eve back in the Garden that everything would be fine if she ate that fruit.

These days, the truth has been so bent out of shape that election machineries that have traditionally been the foundation of modern democracies have faltered; rife with twisted untruths and blatant lies.

The United States of America has had its citizens manipulated into voting a candidate that is worthless; one who has none of their best interests at heart.

The United Kingdom has withdrawn from the European Union under false information provided during a referendum; albeit one that was wholly unnecessary.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have been fingered. The next few days will probably hold an avalanche of further information.

Fake news, if you will permit me a colloquialism, is certainly a pain in the butt. The problem is, that it means that every new morsel of information has to be scrutinised to assess if it is genuine or just plain bunk. Clearly, discretion ought to be a part of every human interaction, but these days, it is so well-disguised as truth, that spotting it is becoming more difficult.

Having anti-fake news laws would act as a deterrent for malicious parties seeking to spread disinformation, but what constitutes "fake news"?

In Malaysia, the law covers digital publications (like news websites and blogs) and social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) and will purportedly apply to offenders who maliciously spread fake news inside and outside Malaysia.

This includes foreigners, but one really questions how this law could claim extra-territorial jurisdiction; i.e. apply to a citizen of a foreign country without having any extradition treaties with sovereign nations.

My issue really is that this law is being used to stifle dissent and criticism; not to mention prevent the public from being informed of the shenanigans of the ruling coalition. 1MDB is one of the biggest fiascos in the world, and I am still thinking of that Mongolian model blown up with C4 explosives.

News like this is particularly critical, considering the impending elections. The Malaysian government has always had a tenuous grasp of the concept of truth, as it frequently lies via the newspapers and the government owned TV channels.

Bare-faced lies.

The question is whether the public will allow itself to be manipulated into self-censorship or will it be business as usual?

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Seriously High-Quality Manifesto Suggestions

I don't say this merely because the writer of those suggestions makes Candide references.

Some are tongue-in-cheek, I think.

But quite a few of the points raised are well thought through and deliberated. Granted, some are also a bit vague, but debating them before enacting the laws are, after all, the role of our elected representatives.

My favourites (I appear to prefer the vague ones) are:

1. Institute a law to address discrimination in the private sector with a focus on race, religion, political belief and gender.
2. Minimum mandatory 30 days paternity leave to address gender pay gap and change societal expectations on gender.

Civil liberties
1. Limit the police’s ability to restrict peaceful assemblies.
2. Address discrimination against religious minority.
3. Sosma to be limited towards terror activities only.
4. Sedition Act to be scaled down.
5. Tighter requirements for book banning.
6. Stronger privacy and data protections law and enforcement.

Read them in their entirety at Manifesto promises I would like to see made by the self-proclaimed "reasonably libertarian" Hafiz Noor Shams.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Returning Awards

It all started when Dr M went and vilified a notorious crook, who holds high public office. He is famously of Bugis ancestry, this particular crook.

Unfortunately, said crook isn't the only Bugis in town.

Back in the 15th century, the Bugis were the best seafarers in the region, quite expectedly, given that they were predominantly Sulawesi islanders. A small number of them were also pirates.

A few of them, however, held court in the Peninsular. Literally. By that, I mean they were Rulers - Selangor royalty, for example, are of Bugis ancestry.

Unfortunately, it is this group that Dr M has managed to offend by pointing out the piracy connections that the Bugis have.

Perhaps this is similar to pointing out that white people have been slave-owners, and even doing it in a pejorative way. Malaysians don't particularly shy away from hurling abuse at each other, quite frankly.

I don't think there was any doubt in the collective minds of the crowd, at whom the vilification and somewhat personal slur was aimed. No one was thinking of the Selangor palace. But the palace took offence nevertheless, and rebuked Dr M for it.

This is always an awkward situation, because two generations of sultans had awarded Dr M (and his wife) in the past; once in 1978 and again in 2003.

It became a lot more personal after newspaper tabloids (namely government rags Utusan and Star) fuelled the flames of dissent by taking up vast columns and pouring out volumes of angst.

In other words: making a mountain out of a molehill.

You and I know what the game plan is. Najib wants to create ill-will towards Dr M - understandably, since Dr M has been taking him to task over his ridiculously kleptomanic tendencies.

So Najib has to deflect the insults to a wider group of recipients including the Sultan of Selangor, who now becomes forced to make statements and even rebuke Dr M publicly.

But you gotta hand it to Mahathir Mohamad. He does not hold on to awards with the sentimentality of the aged.

One of those was the highest order awarded by the state. It did not hold them back. Both Dr M and Dr Siti Hasmah returned them with no comment.

(Other than, perhaps, "Nah, nak ambik, ambik ah!")

Some people see it as a sign of arrogance, others as disrespect.

I am, however, impressed. It brings a new dimension to the guy I used to call the Loony Tun, because while I thought he was power-hungry, he is clearly not bogged down by niceties and convention.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Malaysian Military And Jerusalem

From Yahoo News:

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Armed Forces is prepared to head to the Middle East if its services are needed there following the US government’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.

The US recognition as announced by the Trump administration had drawn widespread condemnation from the Muslim world, including Malaysia which has long been sympathetic to Palestine which has been engaged in a decades-long conflict with the Zionist regime of Israel.

Okay. Trump is a war-mongering f-wit. He has no discernible diplomatic skill. Actually he has no discernible determination to pursue diplomatic solutions. Why are so many diplomatic posts still unfilled nearly a year into his presidency?

However, who seriously thinks the solution to the Israeli issue is a military one?

Only people with brains the the same size as The Donald's. Hint: it rivals a pea. (Agent Orange has only one organ smaller than his brain.)

Deploying the Malaysian military to Jerusalem is a extraordinarily bad idea. The only quantity of liquid greater than the tears engendered will be blood.

And still nothing will be accomplished.

The good people of Malaysia want, do they, noble military personnel returned to the country in body bags in coffins, draped with the Malaysian flag?

Absolutely not.

The world is collectively outraged by Agent Orange's actions; perhaps it's pertinent to maintain their sympathies, rather than squander it by deploying unnecessary military force and confirming the opinions of judgmental people that Muslims are always angry and violent.

A careful, cautious step backwards and a thoughtful contribution to diplomatic debate is a far more valuable step by Malaysia.

RELATED: Palestinians recognize Texas as part of Mexico ;-)

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Electoral Integrity

You knew this post was coming.

It's everything that I've been saying for the past 11 years.

Malaysia ranked 142nd out of 158 countries in terms of electoral integrity.

For a nation that built the Petronas Twin Towers, implemented the first biometric passport in the world, utilised new technology to build a bypass over difficult terrain, that is atrocious.

It really is. The report has strong words for us:

“Malaysia has a strong and well institutionalised state that has provided relative social stability, a high level of human development, and robust economic development.

“This developmental success brings Malaysia’s poor electoral integrity into stark contrast and suggests its deficiencies are the result of deliberate manipulations, rather than a by-product of developmental strife.

"Levels of malapportionment are now among the highest in the world; in fact, the EIP (Electoral Integrity Project) ranks Malaysia’s electoral boundaries as the most biased of the 155 countries assessed.”

I privately think that Singapore is in more dire shape, but this is not a race to the bottom.

And regardless of whether this is some foreign idiot trying to "judge" us, you and I know that it's true - we don't have free and fair elections.

Otherwise, BERSIH would have no reason to exist.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Rawang-Serendah Bypass Finally Completed

Everyone is impressed by how quickly one can get from Rawang to Sg Choh in under 9 minutes. That place has been chronically congested since the early 90s.

But check out the technology that built this pretty impressive bypass - it's called the Underslung Method: Moveable Scaffolding System. What's great about it is that very little environmental damage was done to the trees and rocks.

In the past, Malaysia has been guilty of attempting to divert the forces of nature to build their majestic buildings. That has wreaked havoc by flooding and landslides.

I was also amazed to see that there is still a decent amount of rainforest preserved.

Frankly, the completion of this project is aimed at attracting voters in the impending elections.

Without reserve, I would say that this bypass is magnificent. It doesn't detract, however, from the GST levied on citizens and the sheer greed on the part of politicians, especially MO1.

The civil servants who have worked on these projects that make Malaysia seem like a great place deserve the honour.

The politicians who take the credit for it do not.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Goods & Service Tax In Malaysia

I don't generally read Chedet, but this piece about the GST had some really good points.

There are all types of taxes out there.

In the UK, the most prominent one out there (apart from the National Insurance) is the VAT (Value Added Tax) which is imposed on most goods and services except the essentials like grocery food.

It's a blanket 20% that is applied on all services like legal services, advertising, photography etc, and obviously the retail industry.

Hot food from restaurants and takeaways are not exempt, and it also costs an additional 20%, which is pretty steep.

This is why many Malaysians who have lived abroad say that additional tax is to be expected as a way of life. What they neglect to mention is that this tax is usually put into improving infrastructure and other public services like transportation.

That, sadly, isn't the case for Malaysia. You and I know that the GST is to repay the 1MDB debt. Theoretically. They're probably spending it at will, and perhaps to even gear up for the coming election.

There is no way of finding out. The Malaysian government doesn't necessarily condescend to particulars.

In the USA, the federal tax is imposed on every single legal resident and expatriate; however some states also have income tax. These are states such as California, Oregon, New York, Maryland.

In the states that don't have income tax, the sales tax is imposed for nearly every item. This means that the burden of tax is carried at a disproportionately higher rate on the backs of the less well-off.

1. Because poorer people don't get to buy at bulk rate.
2. Because if a person is earning $20,000 a year, he is paying a bigger percentage compared to the person who earns $200,000.

America is in severe decline, and this is manifest in the ridiculous decisions of its citizens -- for instance, by voting an imbecile who is not qualified to make business decisions, much less political ones.

This is what is happening in Malaysia as well. Which is probably why there is much discontent.

Najib has a degree in Industrial Economics from the University of Nottingham. He should know better than others.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Role Of The Common Man

These are words of wisdom from the intellectual and academic, Noam Chomsky, to the American people.

But it's something that we Malaysians can take away as life lessons too.

Noam Chomsky Explains the Best Way for Ordinary People to Make Change in the World, Even When It Seems Daunting

In the history books, there’s a couple of leaders, you know, George Washington or Martin Luther King, or whatever, and I don’t want to say that those people are unimportant. Martin Luther King was certainly important, but he was not the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King can appear in the history books ‘cause lots of people whose names you will never know, and whose names are all forgotten and who may have been killed and so on were working down in the South.

I think of love as something strong and that organizes itself into powerful, direct action. We are not engaged in a struggle that means we sit down and do nothing. There’s a great deal of difference between non-resistance to evil and non-violent resistance. Non-resistance leaves you in a state of stagnant passivity and deadening complacency, whereas non-violent resistance means that you do resist in a very strong and determined manner.

Read the full article; you won't regret it.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Siapa Mudah Lupa?

I learned a new thing today. I now understand why Dr M is vehemently against Najib Razak.

Some of you may remember that in a previous post, I wondered aloud, "Dr M clearly has an agenda, be it for nationalistic reasons (he is in his 90s after all), or to achieve a personal vendetta (you'd think he'd have mellowed by now)."

I think I have my answer: it's a bit of nationalism but also a healthy dose of personal vendetta.

While the rest of us were blithely getting on with life, it turns out that back in May 2016, Putrajaya withdrew Mahathir’s police outrider service, in vengeance for his attendance of the anti-government demonstrations.

A few months later, they also ended the contracts of Dr M’s cook and office assistant.

And now it looks like they have even withdrawn his special police protection.

Now I can see how this might deter a lesser man. But Dr M is a fighter, and his charisma attracts loyal followers who take up his cause. Najib does not quite have the same mettle, and this is where he loses the battle.

Dr M himself, was highly vindictive during his youth, especially in his dealings with Tunku Abdul Rahman. He was formidable in his taking down of Anwar Ibrahim, imprisoning him for sodomy. He was brutal towards those who opposed him politically.

I have not forgotten. Dr M may say, "Melayu mudah lupa," but I am not easily duped into warming up to him.

Justice Pao: The use of ISA to detain Tan Ka Kheng - who was trying to fight against the Bukit Merah Rare Earth plant (ARE), Bakun dam, etc, to protect the people of Malaysia - by Mahathir shows that the law has been misused by BN.

This liar of a PM has been blatantly using ISA to remove anyone who stood against him so that he can protect his children and his cronies, who have been pilfering the Treasury.

Yet he has the cheek to say that ISA is good for the country.

Clearly others remember his shenanigans as well, and note that he didn't always have the citizens' interests at heart.

Ferdtan: Thank you Malaysiakini for choosing professor Tan Ka Kheng to interview in 'ISA Focus'. He is a much lesser known ISA detainee nabbed under Operasi Lalang in 1987.

It is heartwarming to know there are people like Tan who unselfishly gave up his time and liberty to stand with the common folks against the tyrannical government then under Mahathir.

The beauty of the whole article is that Tan remains steadfastly resolved after many years had passed to continue the struggle, this time with the Stop Lynas Save Malaysia (SMSL) group.

I agree. In fact, Tan Ka Kheng did the same thing that Wong Tack of the Himpunan Hijau group did, by protesting the harmful industry that our nation was about to accept in exchange for a higher GDP.

Though Wong also embarked on a long walk from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur in his attempt to raise awareness and garner much needed publicity for his cause. Given what had happened to Tan Ka Kheng, it was highly risky for Wong Tack to do the same. Under a different Prime Minister, Wong Tack could have been arrested under the ISA and put away for some time.

Notwithstanding that he had also vowed to block Kuantan port if that rare-earth crap ever came in. Now there's a man who sacrifices his all. As I have always said, this man is a hero.

So then you have Najib crowing about the lack of ISA arrests under his administration:

He contrasted his government’s approach to dealing with political detractors during the administration of the fourth prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had made an about-turn by allying himself with DAP leaders he had previously detained under the ISA, notably the father-and-son duo Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng.

“They even went to jail. Kit Siang went to jail, Karpal went to jail, Guan Eng went to jail, under ISA. They said this Mahathir is a dictator. Biggest dictator.

“I want to ask you, ladies and gentlemen. How many people have I put under ISA? How many? Zero!” Najib said to thunderous applause.

Except that Najib just replaced the ISA with the Peaceful Assembly Bill. No points there for Najib, kleptocratic or not.

Nice try.