Friday, 27 April 2007

Tone Down Or Not?

I've been a little busy the past few days and have not had the time to respond properly to the myriad of views concerning the role of All-Blogs in Ijok.

I can understand why DAP has turned out the way it has. Why they can never win any major election, save a constituency or two with majority Chinese voters.

It's the mentality. Not just of the politicians but of the voters as well.

Jun E responds to my comment regarding her post. She says, "But All-Blogs should NOT go to Ijok and create a ruckus, or like Stephen says, a mob."

I'm not sure where Susan and I gave the impression we wanted to start a riot over there.

I merely suggested All-Blogs go over and show the people of Ijok that we are real people (not cyber-spam), and that we can have opposing views on the internet which they might want to explore.

Again, that was then.

I forget that Ijok is not upper-class Bangsar, Ampang or Damansara.

I forget Ijok has an influx of village idiots, whose minds would be a feat of mammoth proportions to engage.

If even two innocent photographers having a simple meal with an Opposition candidate can trigger unmitigated violence from our ruling party, to be honest, I don't know what to expect with All-Blogs physically being in Ijok.

However, I still don't like the way the direction of All-Blogs is going. We're becoming too pacifist. And yes, like ShanghaiStephen says, Jun-E has worded her reasons guardedly.

He may have been complimenting her, but being guarded is not good. Being careful is, but not guarded. And that's what we're becoming. The government's threats against us do seem to be working subconsciously. As much as we deny that we will step down, we are buckling under the pressure.

June-E says, "Its members can do whatever they like, but NOT under the name of All-Blogs."

I wonder, what exactly is it that All-Blogs CAN do? Have picnics by the lake?

It's not that every single Malaysian blogger should be united on an issue. We won't. We just won't. We naturally have different opinions. Sheih gets all drama mama in Susan's blog about being stabbed, butchered and whatnot. :)

But I agree with him completely when he says, "..we must be prepared to cherish the differences because there is so little consensus within us."

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Fly Asian Xpress

A very nicely liveried De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by Fly Asian Xpress which does rural routes in Sabah and Sarawak.

I swear the red colour just grabs you! :)

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Thanks To DAP!

Now this is unprecedented. The Chinese voters of Machap have taken out an ad in the newspapers to thank DAP. :)

From the online version of The Sun:

Villagers fork out RM1,455 to thank DAP by Giam Say Khoon

PETALING JAYA (April 20, 2007): About 70 Machap Baru "grateful" villagers today resorted to a "Fancy It" way to thank the DAP for contesting in the recently concluded Machap by-election in Malacca.

They passed the hat around to collect about RM1,455 and placed a "Thank-you" advertisment that was published in Sin Chew Daily today.

For the DAP, it was the first time that the party has received such a response from the electorates, though it contested the seat with little hope of winning. However, it managed to garner more Chinese votes compared with in the 2004 General Election.

A check with Sin Chew showed that the 10cm X 11cm black and white advertisment cost the villagers RM1,455.30, before discount if any.

Basically, the villagers thanked the DAP for "forcing" the Barisan Nasional (BN) to spend money and bring "development funds" to the villages in Machap.

Translation of the advertisement:

Thank you DAP

The villagers of Machap Baru would like to thank DAP for participating in the Machap by-election, enabling us to enjoy various allocations, benefits and treatments, like building a recreational park, upgrading road, lamp, and irrigation system, building low-cost houses, upgrading the Machap clinic as well as allocations for three Chinese primary schools in the area.

In the past 50 years, the villagers have never been given the chance to enjoy all these infrastructure development.

Because of the by-election, the villagers' lives have changed drastically, it is a blessing for the villagers and we hereby thank the DAP. - From a group of grateful Machap Baru villagers.

So is that the extent of the Opposition's role in the elections? Merely to goad BN to take positive action?

When contacted, DAP's losing candidate Liou Chen Kuang thanked the villagers for their support for putting up the advertisement.

"Obviously, the advertisement consisted some sarcasm against the BN. The infrastructures problems were already there for quite some time.

Well, duh. But the fact remains that the Chinese are still the minority when it comes to constituency. Their votes are just NOT enough to get you a seat, you loser!

This is the issue I have with DAP. The overview of their rhetoric - equality for all - is appealing but their appeal is limited to the Chinese. They simply do not go out to gain the support of the other races.

Which is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY if you want to be elected.

Evidently DAP is quite content to remain The Opposition forever.

A villager who wanted to remain as anonymous and who contributed to the advertisment, told theSun by phone that the villagers had chipped in for the advertisement to thank the DAP sincerely.

"We also want to tell MCA that they should keep their promises made during elections. If it was not for the DAP which made a lot of noise, we would not have all the infrastructure problems resolved," he said.

The villager also said the government should not neglect the people once the election was over and they should continue to answer the people's call.

Now this villager can be safely assumed to be a VILLAGE IDIOT. The gullible notion that BN would even bother once the election is over would be hilarious if not sad.

When will the people ever learn?

Monday, 23 April 2007

The Machiavellis in Malaysian politics

Reproduced without permission (yet) from Malaysia Today as it was too much a work of brilliance to simply resist.

The Machiavellis in Malaysian politics
Category: General Posted by: Raja Petra

Dr Azly Rahman

Against my will, my fate,
A throne unsettled, and an infant state,
Bid me defend my realms with all my pow'rs,
And guard with these severities my shores.

- from Machiavelli's The Prince, Chapter XVII

Another quote:

'But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander VI did nothing else but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according to his wishes, because he well understood this side of mankind.

'Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite. - from, Machiavelli's The Prince, Chapter XVIII

One of the best strategies to keep a political party in power is to keep the voters 'educated' only to a certain level of intelligence, and to give them enough goodies for them to want more at every cycle of election. Give them money, 'kain pelika't, 'kain batik', rice, cigarettes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, RM200 and instant 'development packages' – new roads, new playgrounds, new schools, new promises, etc, so that they will be happier voters. Let them corrode their own moral character and let the children of these voters learn that this are what democracy, politics, and elections is all about.

This is the structure of dependency. This is the systematic programme of the maintenance of the 'welfare' mentality – the ideology of the 'hand that feed'. This, too, is the current paradigm and ideology of technology transfer from global corporations wishing to develop the Iskandar Development Region or the Multimedia Super Corridor. The advanced, industrialised countries will give aid and some help with technology to the industrialising countries so that the former will continue to control and manipulate while the latter will be continue to be controlled and be manipulated.

The structure of dependency constitutes 'structural violence'. The paternal relationship forged structures the relationship between the giver and the receiver, the oppressor and the oppressed. This curriculum of totalitarianism is hidden.

Until voters are intelligent enough to understand this structure of dependency and are wise and ethical enough to reject the goodies from the 'hands that giveth', we will still see corrupt politicians installed to further transform the lives of others through development projects created so that it is not that the people that will benefit, but the few people that will make sure that they themselves will reap the benefits.

Far too much we hear the word 'progress and development' these days. We hear of our economy doing well. We hear of the 'jihad' against corruption and poverty being intensified. We hear slogans, rhetoric and 'managed perception'. We do not know what is real and what is invention anymore. We see an intensifying effort to divide, subdivide, fragment, and dissipate progressive parties that are trying to bring about immediate and radical change.

Machiavelli, our guru?

Where do the powerful ones in our society learn how to control the mind and the body of the people governed? Perhaps through arrogant knowledge that advises rulers to be brutal, pretentious, hypocritical, and shrewd – as long as power is acquired, consolidated, maintained, and held on as long as possible. One can then rule for five, 10, 15, or even 22 or 35 years. One can even declare oneself dictator or emperor or 'maharajah'.

One piece of arrogant knowledge that one must study, to understand how Malaysia as well as global politics work is The Prince by Nicollo Machiavelli, an essential treatise on the nature and manifestation of power.

We take too much from the teachings of Machiavelli. We use force to hold on to power. We let our leader use whatever means necessary for them to cling on to power.

In Machiavelli we can see the ideology of Islam Hadhari, slogans of 'cemerlang, gemilang terbilang', the Internal Security Act, The University and University Colleges Act, the fascistic 'Surat Akujanji' for civil servants, the Biro Tata Negara, the National Service programme, Media Prima, the Election Commission, the constant play and 'sandiwara' of race-based politics – all these and more in the overall Machiavellian scheme of realpolitik borrowed from the colonial masters. The ideological state apparatuses, German critical theorist Louis Althusser's term, is employed to structure the pattern of dependency.

In fact, Malaysian politics these days, might be even worse than during colonial times – the oppressors have become invisible and have evolved into a system of thought control.

In the current ideology, neo-liberalism mystified in the term Islam Hadhari, constitutes a life support system to legitimise foreign domination, unequal distribution of wealth, perfection of subsidy and rent-seeking ideology, cultivation of mediocrity and blind loyalty even amongst the most highly-educated in our public universities.

Accounts of vote-buying illustrates a total mockery of democracy. Those giving money and make promises aplenty are charting their own destruction.

'By all means necessary,' said Malcolm X – is the ideology of Machiavelli.

In the world of Machiavelli we embrace, winning is everything. It is better to be feared than to be loved, as the author would say. In today's world in which bloggers are now feared, it is better to be loved by projecting an image/perception of being loved, of being benevolent, pious, caring, and selfless so that power will be gently but surely acquired. It is also necessary to maintain such a perception so that one can still be remembered as a benevolent ruler even though one has plundered billions of ringgit; it is necessary so that one will not be prosecuted for such plundering.

What then must we do

We must educate ourselves to be well-informed voters and to help each other understand how power works through institutions and ideology that permeate the psyche and the physical landscape of society.

We need to engage in the establishment of a republic of virtue – one runs on the philosophy of virtue - and terror. Let our children learn that it is terrifying to be corrupt; such as to build palaces while the homes of the poor demolished. Let us teach them to vote with their conscience.

The current regime cannot solve the problems it creates. It must dismantle itself, die a natural death, destroy the symbols of power it has abused, and let a peaceful renewal take its natural course. The will to be corrupt will only intensify if we do not perform a frontal lobotomy of its source. The source is the locus of control – the center of power.

Beware, the multiplying and morphing Machiavellis amongst us. Let us design a programme of counter-hegemony so that we can play and wrestle with authority.

But the essential question is: what party must we vote for? Must we create a brand new one entirely?

Sunday, 22 April 2007

BN's Weapons!

Do you have difficulty believing this benign little bottle of mineral water can be used as a weapon?

In Malaysia, anything boleh, especially with Barisan Nasional.

Screenshots has the first-hand scoop on how things can quickly turn ugly with the unscrupulous antics of the UMNO youth.

What are you waiting for? Go and read!

Apple Of BN's Eye

Now does anyone know this fool? He's our poster boy from Barisan Nasional.

Presumably their pride and joy. Look how well he's fit in with the party agenda, how well-adjusted he is.

Anyone with a functioning set of eyes can tell he's from BN. :)

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Blogs Are More Credible

Of course, you don't need a former premier to say it before we believe it. We've known this all along.

From The Straits Times:

TUN DR Mahathir Mohamad yesterday backed bloggers who criticise the government, saying their websites are gaining credibility among Malaysians.

The former premier said many people now turn to blogs for information suppressed by the mainstream media.

'If you suppress news, alternate news will be given credence. Attempts to control bloggers are bound to fail,' he told a forum on the media held at his Perdana Leadership Foundation.

He said he believed that bloggers have, by and large, been responsible, and urged them to stick to the truth without embellishment in order to stay credible.

No rocket science there. People know that there is hanky panky in the government - they just don't know what.

And when the blogs manage to produce information, OF COURSE they become instant hits!

I still feel sorry for the mainstream media.

They are trying to do their job, but they're restricted.

I hardly recall it being any better during the days of Tun, but he disagrees:

When asked to compare current media controls to previous times, he said: 'As far as I am concerned, it's worse than before.'

But he defended the restrictive media laws that require newspapers to renew their licences yearly, and his own record in the matter as prime minister.

He said the laws were intended to keep the media from inflaming racial sentiment, or publishing pornography, but they were not meant to shut out dissenting views.

'My conscience is clear. People can oppose, I don't arrest them. But some people are afraid that certain information can undermine their authority, and they try to stop the information,' he said.

Yeah? I don't recall anyone having the guts to oppose you, Dr M. You were fearsome.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Get Down To Ijok!

Susan Loone has an idea.

She has suggested that The Alliance of Bloggers, more popularly known as All-Blogs should get their asses down to Ijok and get their proverbial feet wet.

I agree with her.

The rest of the country, especially the rural areas have no idea that a decent form of democracy is actually beginning to develop. And the only way they can be exposed to it is by meeting us bloggers and talking with us.

Honestly, if we are going to promote blogging and freedom of speech, we simply cannot expect All-Blogs to shy away from political campaigns.

Politics affect ALL of us. We CANNOT expect to remain impartial. It would make no sense.

Not all bloggers share our opinion though. A Voice and Biggum Dogmannsteinberg are of the firm belief that bloggers should refrain from and stay off politics.

A Voice: NO ONE SHOULD turn it into a platform for any private or personal cause.

Fair enough. But to say so implies that bloggers going down to Ijok automatically represent the Opposition. It is not about the Opposition, but about FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

Biggum Dogmannsteinberg: She seems to be politically inclined towards against BN (its her right, so be it!) and she is also trying to incite and influence other bloggers to follow her thoughts of anti BN modus operandi.

Towards or against?? Make up your mind, mate.

Seriously, I like Susan and all, but claiming that she can incite and influence a slew of bloggers simply by voicing her suggestions is frankly overrating her role and that of other bloggers.

Our role is not to influence but to open minds to possibilities other than the conventional way of doing things.

Strange Photography Skills

I strongly doubt any of them are Malaysian, but if they were, they must have taken lessons from Jeff Ooi. :)

I presume one has to keep one's balance while photographing the subject and all methods must be employed, funky or otherwise.

If the subject does not notice you taking pictures of him, make sure YOU get noticed taking pictures of him. In an awkward pose, preferably.

If you legs are too long, bring yourself lower to ground level. Anyhow.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

The Challenge From Malaysia Today!

I love this one!

Raja Petra Kamarudin, true to form, has just issued a challenge to his detractors - fools of all form and fit, who seek to scare him off writing.

Now I have followed RPK's blog for some time, and I will offer that trying to SCARE the old codger off is like trying to make an elephant wear a tutu and dance to Swan Lake.

It ain't gonna happen.

And don't even think of hiring the good folks at the Bolshoi Theatre to give private tuition.

We do waste a lot of money on monumentally stupid things - the longest kebab competition, snow-skiing through the Antartic, climbing Everest, and sending fools up to space.

This time, all the money in the world and a Russian or two still wouldn't be able to pull it off.

Now, the average Malaysian trembles at the notion of the Internal Security Act, better known as the ISA.

Not RPK. In fact, he cheerfully proceeds to kick up more dirt. :)

Before he ends:

I will stop here for the meantime and allow all the above to be answered. There are of course more but suffice that the powers-that-be satisfy me with a reply to the above first before they start accusing websites and Blogs, in particular Malaysia Today, of indulging in lies, half-truths and innuendoes.

If they can rebut all the above and prove that all the above are totally false then I suggest they come for me and charge me with spreading lies, half-truths and innuendoes.

Until then, allow me to give them the middle finger and at the same time suggest that they shove it up the part of the body where the sun does not shine.

Yep, breathing threats is simply an exercise in futility when it comes to good ole RPK.

Go forth and read the post in its entirety. :)

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Bribe Them, Dammit!!!

And the Opposition, blithering idiots that they are, still continue to squabble among themselves.

I am just sick and tired of rooting for them. If they can't help themselves, God help us ALL!!

They recruit the fancy graduates and the cream of society to woo the votes of the more intelligent. But it's not the intelligent citizens that DAP should appeal to, but the average village idiot.

I can assure you, there are more village idiots than geniuses in Malaysia - that is why BN has managed to remain in power for so long.

DAP needs to kiss more babies, make more lame jokes, serve more food, maybe pay out a little money and make infinite promises.

Yes, the village idiots don't mind being lied to.

In fact, I think they LOVE it.

You just need to reassure them that all is fine, things will move along as they are right now. Perhaps sing one tune to the geniuses and another to the village idiots.

For goodness sake, bribe them!! If your rhetoric and party policy doesn't even turn a head, just freaking BRIBE them, dammit!!

Get a bank loan, take out a huge sum and spread the joy to the poor and stupid (not mutually exclusive). When you win the seat, take the taxpayers' money to finance your loan.

That's what BN does anyway.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

The Lure

Now I know that the United States of America does have a lottery for immigrants, but I've always wondered if this USAFIS is legitimate.

The government lottery application is free but USAFIS demands payment upfront.

The ad seems all innocent-like. On the surface.

The United States government offers 50,000 permanent Green Cards this year.

You can win a green card to Reside and Work in the United States (Amerika Syarikat)...

Special Bonus - Free Flight Tickets to the USA for the winners!

Click here for further information.

Yes, I checked it out. About 5 years ago.

They seem to be pretty serious, to the extent of translating it into Malay. Is that some effort to make us feel at home, I wonder.

However, most immigrants to the US, at least from Malaysia, would at least have a reasonably good grasp of the English language.

Those who don't speak English enough to understand this advertisement would be the uneducated terrorist types, anyway.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Watch Your Cars!

According to The Electric New Paper, a Singaporean online publication, a car is stolen every two hours in Malaysia.

Now, with the exception of good ole Kuala Lumpur, we don't have that many cars.

So one in every two hours pulling the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't stunt is undoubtedly worrying.

Only three in 10 stolen cars are recovered because by the time a report is made they would have been driven out of the country.

This is not the first case of stolen Malaysian cars being exported to other countries via Singapore.

Vehicles bound for Batam are believed to be transported by barge via Singapore.

Malaysia's criminal investigation department has said that vehicle thieves seem to favour makes like Toyota, Honda and Perodua.

I wonder why Proton didn't make the cut? :)

Engine failure every 1000km? Or the power windows acting up again?

No, on second thought, let's not get into that.

Our law enforcement says the thieves are getting faster and smoother than ever and that it is getting harder to nab these thieves.

This, of course, was the opening for the Singaporeans to boast that their police busted a syndicate dealing in stolen cars from Malaysia in April 2003 and returned 11 cars to the Malaysian police.

No witty comeback from our side, folks.

It is quite an embarassing moment, but one just has to grin and bear it.

A Matter Of Principle

I'm getting some really mixed messages here.

The official reason given by the higher-ups over the resignation of Chong Kah Kiat, Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah is that he wanted a 'rest'.

Yet, Chong has stuck to his guns, saying he was resigning from the state Cabinet as of Monday as “a matter of principle”.

Less than a month ago, the Joint Management and Supervisory Committee of Sipadan and Ligitan turned down a second development plan to set up facilities on the island, a world famous diving location.

Chong, who was state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, had declined to disclose the reasons for the rejection and said he hoped to have a new plan ready in a few weeks.

Ah. I'm guessing one of those fleece-the-people-of-their-natural-heritage schemes ala Bakun were being set in motion and Chong just had to throw a spanner in the works.

I wonder what's the slice of the pie for a RM4.5mil clubhouse which would be progressing well except that it just inconveniently happens to scrape off 372.94sq m of the reef?

This would naturally offset a lot of potential (shall we say) income for the politicians, and being denied of this, THEY ARE LIVID. For him to step down would be, “not really a loss”.

On the contrary.

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that the deputy and his chief DO NOT get along. Chong submitted his resignation to the Yang di-Pertua Negri while Musa was away.

Ten ringgit says their disagreements were NOT limited to projects, the environment and the yet-to-be-built statue to attract tourists.

Who wouldn't want him out?

Good ole BN. If you refuse to toe the line, they get you to take a hike.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Knowledge Of Our Roots

A friend sent me a scanned copy of this article in my email and I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Star still has an electronic copy in its archives.

It's about a month old and upon further surfing on the net, I found out that Lim Kit Siang has also posted it on his blog in Corruption of our history books.

The comments which follow are controversial (as most of Kit Siang's commenters have been in the past) but in all honesty, they pose some legitimate questions as well.

Reproduced in its entirety: Knowledge of our roots will benefit us by Johami Abdullah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan.

IN very recent times, the starting date for the study of Malaysian history in the schools has been conveniently fixed around 1400 C.E. It probably coincides with the founding of the Sultanate of Malacca by Parameswara.

Today, Malaysian school children only learn a little bit about the early Proto Malays and then are conveniently taken on a historical quantum leap to the founding of Malacca.

Early Indian works speak of a fantastically wealthy place called Savarnadvipa, which meant “land of gold.” This mystical place was said to lie far away, and legend holds that this was probably the most valid reason why the first Indians ventured across the Bay of Bengal and arrived in Kedah around 100 B.C.

Apart from trade, the early Indians brought a pervasive culture, with Hinduism and Buddhism sweeping through the Indo-Chinese and Malay archipelago lands bringing temples and Indian cultural traditions. The local chiefs began to refer to themselves as “rajahs” and also integrated what they considered the best of Indian governmental traditions with the existing structure.

I learnt Malayan history in the 1950s and taught it in the 1960s and 1970s in secondary schools. All the history textbooks at the time had the early Indian connection specifically mentioned in them. Teachers of that period taught about the early Indianised kingdoms of Langkasuka, Sri Vijaya and Majapahit that existed from as early as 100 C.E.

Anyone can see that Parameswara, the founder of Malacca, has a clearly give-away name that points to the Indian/Hindu influence. No one can deny this, and all our children need to know about this. They have the fundamental right to learn about this aspect of our history too.

Why don’t our children learn about these early Indian connections today? It needs mention here that this early Indian connection has nothing to do with the much later cheap Indian “coolie” labour influx that the British brought over to man the railways and plantations of Malaya from the late 19th century onwards.

The Malay language as we know it today is already fully impregnated and enriched with many foreign words. This is good. Malay, therefore, has been a bahasa rojak from early times itself.

Rojak itself (and also cendul) is a Malaysian food developed by an Indian Malayalee Muslim community known as the Malabaris who hailed from Kerala. They were also referred to as kakas. We now wrongly credit the Penang mamaks for this great food.

The only other bahasa rojak that can beat the Malay language in the matter of foreign word assimilation is the English language because it has “polluted” itself with words from just about every civilisation that exists or existed in this world.

The very word “Melayu” itself is most probably of Indian origin from the words “Malai Ur,” which means land of mountains in Tamil. Singapur, Nagapur and Indrapur are very common Indian names that have similar backgrounds.

The early Indians were probably inspired by the main mountain range that looks like a backbone for the Malay peninsula and thus named it Malaiur. The word “malai” is undoubtedly Indian in origin as is the case with the word Himalayas and we all know where it is situated.

The English word “Malaya” is a further corruption of the word by the British who themselves are very good at corrupting the pronunciation and spelling of and changing the names of indigenous places worldwide to suit their tongue’s capability. The Malay word “Melayu” with the missing “r “ is closer to the original name “Malaiur”.

To my knowledge, the hundreds of Malay words of Indian origin have not been catalogued by anyone except perhaps the noted Malay scholar Zaaba. Even if such an effort has been made, it is definitely not widely known or ever published.

Many Malay words, from describing Malay royalty (Raja, Putera, Puteri, Maha, Mulia, Seri, etc) and common everyday terms (bakti, suami, cuma, dunia, bumi, jendela, serpu, kerana), all have Indian connections. The undeniable Indian connection in the word “Indonesia” is also reflected in the name itself.

The Indian factor that influences even the prevailing Malay culture in terms of music, food, dress and certain other everyday practices like betel chewing and bersanding is another thing over which a loud hush prevails. Why?

Such knowledge of the roots of this great country, be they Indian, Chinese, Arab or whatever, can indeed very strongly facilitate the ongoing efforts of the Government to make our children think of themselves as Bangsa Malaysia more easily and more readily.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

The Economist On Malaysian Indians

My computer was giving me the business again, and I very generously decided to give it some time off to recuperate from its meltdown.

While waiting, I casually picked up an old copy of The Economist. Pretty old. As in 2003 old. Don't ask why my company still keeps these old issues. I don't want to know and I'm sure you don't either.

But I digress. This particular issue of The Economist had an article about Malaysian Indians and since I fall under those demographics, my curiosity was piqued.

Below is the complete article:

Malaysia's deprived Indian minority gets none of the benefits reserved for Malays

Malaysia's underdogs

PEOPLE of Indian origin account for only 8% of Malaysia's total population, but they make up 14% of its juvenile delinquents, more than 20% of its wife- and child-beaters, and 41% of its beggars.

They make up less than 5% of successful university applicants, and own less than 1.5% of the country's share capital.

To make matters worse, they are not eligible for any of Malaysia's lavish affirmative-action programmes, which are reserved for Malays and other indigenous people.

Other countries may have upwardly mobile Indian immigrants, but Malaysia is fast developing an Indian underclass.

The problem stems from the decline of Malaysia's rubber plantations. British colonialists shipped indentured Indian labourers to Malaysia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to tap rubber.

After independence, many Indians stayed and became citizens, tapping rubber all the while. But over the past few decades of breakneck economic growth, developers have ploughed up many rubber plantations to plant less labour-intensive oil palms, or to build shopping malls and housing estates.

The displaced workers and their families have wound up in shanty towns on the outskirts of Malaysia's cities.

Until recently, the government largely ignored the problem. The many well-to-do Indian doctors and lawyers, after all, help to give Indians higher incomes on average than Malays. Many Indian labourers, even, earn more from odd jobs in the cities than rural Malays do from fishing or farming.

But unlike poor farmers, explains Denison Jayasooria, the head of an Indian think-tank-cum-charity, they have to buy their own food, pay rent, and travel to work — all at inflated urban prices.

Jaya Partiban, a senator from the Malaysian Indian Congress, the biggest Indian political party, says that the sheltered life of the plantations imbued Indians with a culture of dependence.

Furthermore, argues P. Ramasamy, a professor at the Malaysian National University, Indians have little prospect of advancement, since Malaysia's Chinese minority dominates business, and Malays control the bureaucracy.

Indians often complain of neglect or discrimination at the hands of civil servants, and harassment by the police.

All these frustrations boiled over into a race riot in a squatter community outside Kuala Lumpur in March 2001. Six people died and scores were injured. To this day, many Indians live in rusty corrugated-iron shacks in Kampung Medan, the scene of the riot.

I keep hearing bits and pieces about this, but never the full story. Why has someone gone through such great lengths to keep this incident under wraps?

They [The Indians] complain that jobs are hard to come by, especially since employers fear that many Indians may be involved in crime. Although the police have set up three posts in the area since the riots, locals say, only one of the officers staffing them is Indian.

There are no playgrounds, sports fields or clubs to tempt their children away from street gangs. The local Indian school, they add, is in a dire state.

The government has at least pledged to change all this. It has promised to move all squatters in the area to subsidised housing by 2005. It is hiring more Indian teachers.

It is also financing the Yayasan Strategik Sosial, Mr Denison's outfit, to develop schemes to help poor urban Indians.

Most dramatically, it has declared its intention to double Indians' stake in Malaysian companies by 2010—the sort of race-based target normally reserved for Malays.

Sure. When hell freezes over. It's three years to 2010 by the way, and I see NOTHING to remotely suggest that anything has been or will be done.

As it is, government officials like to point out, Malaysia's richest man is an Indian: Ananda Krishnan. His fellow Indians, however, tend to view his success rather more cynically; they joke that Mr Krishnan takes up the community's share of the national wealth all by himself.

Ah. You see, the source of the problem is that it's all about race.

Affirmative action policies will never work. I'm staunchly against them. Those who are successful through legitimate means will find that their qualifications have lost their credibility.

In other words, people (especially potential employers) would assume they graduated from university even though they didn't deserve it.

In fact, even now the quota is probably adequate for university entry. Most Indians I know who have made it through university rarely find themselves unemployed.

It's not them we should worry about. It's those who drop out of school at the age of 12. And those who have never even had a proper primary education.

There's no way they can fend for themselves. To eat, you need to have money. To have money, you need to have a job. To have a job, you need a minimum education at least.

Some of them don't even have that.

And so they turn to crime. That's when it becomes everyone else's problem, because throwing some of them in jail isn't going to cut it.

Helping the poor shouldn't be a racial issue. Poverty spans all races - Malay, Chinese and Indian. Eliminating poverty should not be focused on any particular race.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Singapore's Brainiest

I miss those days when I worked in Pasir Gudang.

There was a huge variety of TV programmes to choose from - a reasonably clear broadcast of Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean channels.

What I certainly do NOT miss is Singapore's kiasu culture.

I fleetingly mentioned a popular television show before (in a previous post) called Singapore's Smartest.... My apologies - actually it's 'Brainiest'.

Nevertheless, it has to got to be the most asinine of programmes. It is based on the premise that being 'brainy' is knowing a lot of trivia and math.

Now 'brainy' is generally defined as having or marked by unusual and impressive intelligence. Nothing wrong with that per se, except when your value as a person and success is obsessively dictated by how 'smart' you are.

So I googled up "Singapore's Brainiest" and came across this blogger, PJ, who evidently agrees with me on this issue.

This bloke, who I figure migrated to a different country (or as he puts it, "thankfully escaped") at the age of 16 even went a step further. He write to The Straits Times (this was in 2003).

Yes, Singapore probably has even less freedom of speech than Malaysia. This was the response he received:

Thank you for your letter to the Forum Page, The Straits Times.

We regret to inform you that we are unable to publish your letter. The Forum Page receives a large number of letters daily and only a small number actually go into print. We seek your kind understanding in this matter.

Yours sincerely

Noor Aiza
for Forum Editor
The Straits Times

The short of it is, it did not go into print, but apparently his blog was brought to the attention of the four top finalists of 'Singapore's Brainiest Kid' who apparently took exception to his remarks.

The four braniacs sounded off with:

Ahem, dear sir, we are finalists of the subgroup of the gameshow you criticised. Known over Singapore as Singapore's Brainiest Kid. The 4 of us strongly oppose your personal view which you have posted in your blog.

Firstly, We did Not, we mean NOT, ask you to watch it in the first place.

Secondly, we like doing this to put our given talents to the test.

Thirdly, do not say such remarks when you are not in it and have NOT experienced for yourself how wonderful it is.

Next time, Mr so-called confucius-who -did-not-speak-wisely-in-this-blog, watch what you say with your mouth, or rather,type with your fingers.

Thank you.

With absoloute disgust,
Anurak, Naomi,Faith and Perry.

Of course, I suppose we so often confuse intelligence with common sense so I should not expect these four to understand the point - that it is not that they are exploited (we like doing this to put our given talents to the test), but that thousands of children in Singapore are given the wrong message - that being smart is the ultimate thing to be.

I got this email from Anurak:

Dear sir,
I have read your blog entry of 10/4/07, regarding Singapore's kiasu culture.

Although my name was indeed included in the comment posted in the other person's blog, I was not involved in its authorship and had no idea my name was being used in such a manner. I seek your understanding and also apologize the rude behavior and manner of my friends. I would also appreciate it if my name was removed from the entry.

Thank you very much,
Anurak Saelaow Hao

Dear Anurak,

I am pleasantly surprised to hear from you. I am glad that you didn't author the letter. However, it is not about its defensive tone or haughty manner that I am concerned about, but the general attitude that intelligence is the ultimate trait to possess.

You sound like a well-adjusted young man. I wish you success and joy in life. Please understand that I do not remove details from my blog, but I trust this addendum clears things up.

Kind regards,

Monday, 9 April 2007

National Alliance Of Bloggers

Now I hadn't realised we were THIS big.

I happened to be hanging around 3540 Jalan Sudin when I saw the post (FYI - All-Blogs Going Places) about news of the National Alliance of Bloggers spreading like wildfire.

Jeff Ooi has a pretty comprehensive list in NAB: An avalanche of good press & unified tone - it's quite a whopper!

I guess it isn't all that surprising, really.

Even my mother has heard of it. And when people like my mother hear about it (and independently at that) then one gets round to figuring it might be a little bigger than one would've initially imagined.

Some of my favourites (though they originate from the same source):
Malaysian political bloggers form alliance - MSNBC
Malaysian Bloggers Form Alliance - Forbes
Malaysian Bloggers Form Alliance - The Age
Malaysian Bloggers Form Alliance - The Washington Post

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Citizens Should NOT Think!

For the best interests of the country, it is advisable that all citizens of Malaysia close themselves to all unconventional and unpleasant bits of information.

Yes, thinking is a nasty little habit which is certainly not encouraged - especially in Malaysian schools. Woe betide any fool who had the temerity to question a dubious 'fact' during History class.

God gave you brains to memorise, not think, the Malaysian education system seems to say.

The critical thinkers were always punished, for there is no room for debate in the answer schemes for SPM or STPM.

It's a disservice to call it education; if anything it's a miseducation.

In spite of ourselves, we Malaysians have thrived.

In spite of the racial politics, we actually like each other.

We sit in the mamak stalls (the more sophisticated among us refer to them as alfresco dining) and have teh tarik, nasi lemak, and roti canai - often way past midnight.

Many times I have observed that ALL races frequent mamak stalls. And for those savvy mamaks who have high-tech projectors perpetually tuned to the sports channel, namely football, statistics are exchanged and bets are called.

When I see this blatant disregard for individual race and embracement of The Malaysian Culture (yes, that's our culture, not the fake baju kebaya the authorities claim designates us as Malaysian), I'm happy to live here.

It could be worse.

For all their economic success in the world, Singaporeans are much more suppressed. Their only outlet seems to be TV gameshows in the form of 'Singapore's Smartest ____'. Fill in the blanks - teacher, taxi driver, student, housewife, pet turtle, whatever.

To its credit, Malaysia has refused to censor the Internet although it appears to be attempting other methods of limiting access.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

NST Fell For It

I don't know what to say.

There is a reason why the more intelligent Malaysians don't read the New Straits Times, recently more popularly referred to as Nasty Pee.

NST has the reputation for getting all the top news late, but evidently, it also appears to win the awards hands-down for being rather gullible.

PalmDoc posted an entry as an April Fool's joke. The next thing you know, an NST reporter has reproduced it and accepted it as the truth.

Oh dear.

These are the guys who have been swaggering around and calling Malaysian bloggers liars and hurling around defamation suits.

Bless their souls, but if they believe what bloggers write point-blank without even verifying with the author, they certainly do not believe what they preach, much less practise it.

Ow. But I feel their pain. :)

Of penis enlargement & "To Russia with Hope"

Friday, 6 April 2007

My Dog Will Blog

Yes, you heard that right. If you try to stiffle my rights to blog, I will train even my dog to blog.

So a government minister has proposed that Malaysian bloggers be required to register in an effort to control anonymous posts with malicious content.

I like that word - control. It sums up what the government is all about. And now the government is fearful. It is unaccustomed to facing the Malaysians who think and are unafraid to question.

So to justify this unmitigated attempts to control, they pull out their favourite trump card - national security.


With all this blogging, we're going to be seized with the urge to find random models and blow them up with C4s. Blogging tends to have that effect, I suppose. So don't mind us.

Even Najib has been quoted to have commented that:

..bloggers have made the "business of government more challenging" and in some instances, caused unnecessary distraction.


You mean, we give you customer feedback for FREE and you're complaining?

Marina Mahathir has an interesting take on why the particular minister with the ingenious proposal has tunnel vision when it comes to a genuine issue (freedom of speech) like this:

Because they are Katak Bawah Tempurung. Yep, Shaziman's ministry has the unfortunate abbreviation of KTAK, which reminds us of katak. :)

It evidently reminded Jeff Ooi who sternly admonished us against confusing them for frogs. :) Not.

Simply put, these frogs have surfaced from under their coconut shell for their short stint of fame.

You've gotta love them. Really.

Report: Malaysian minister proposes blogger registration to curb malicious content - International Herald Tribune
Bloggers may have to register - The Star
The Making of The All Blogs - Rocky's Bru
Register the bloggers? NAB & BUM - Screenshots (Jeff Ooi)

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Dressing Like A Malaysian

Spare my soul.

It's about dressing again.

Or rather the appropriate outfit that Malaysian women should wear when they may be said to represent the country overseas.

I wonder why we Malaysians obsess to death over our culture. You'd think we'd have better things on our hands.

Honestly, are we THAT inferior?? Are we THAT insecure that we constantly need to remind ourselves to dress Malaysian in order to promote Malaysia?

Give me a fricking break!

To begin with, why do we need to promote Malaysia? Are we all kutu-infested that no one in their right mind would want to come within a 5 mile radius of us?

Heck, if we were truly interested in our culture we'd be preserving our buildings, not destroying them like Bok House. Of course, Bok House was more of a racial issue than cultural, wasn't it?

And if it's racial, then we don't need the government to dictate what I wear. If I am non-Malay, then expecting me to wear a baju kurung or kebaya is tantamount to forcing an alien culture down my throat.

For goodness sake. MAS flight attendants wear a kebaya. Why should Air Asia follow suit? They already have a uniform. A very bright red one.

I would be very disappointed if Tony Fernandes actually gives consideration to the stupid suggestion of changing the Air Asia uniform to look more 'Malaysian'.

I've flown Emirates a couple of times. Their uniform is rather unusual - a blend of Middle Eastern and Western attire.

Which is acceptable as most of their flight attendants aren't exactly all Arabs. I see a fair amount of Scandinavians, Africans and Orientals.

In spite of their uniform, I doubt they are in any way representative of the United Arab Emirates as a country.

Heavy-duty dressing - Sun2Surf

Monday, 2 April 2007

We're With Rocky

Rocky's hearing is scheduled to be heard at 9am at the High Court, Denmark House, Kuala Lumpur - that's in a few minutes.

NSTP and Others have filed a suit against Rocky for defamation, citing 50 articles in Rocky's Bru.

We refuse to be intimidated.

WALK WITH US... Updates of 02.04 hearing... - Jeff Ooi
Rocky vs NSTP & 4 others, 2 April 2007 - Rocky

The Internal Security Department Uses Hotmail?

I nearly died laughing.

Don't ask me how, but I happened to stumble across Blueheeler's site, which interestingly documents parliamentary stupidity of both Malaysia and Singapore.

But what AMUSED me to no end was this post which describes an email that Blueheeler received, supposedly from Singapore's Internal Security Department:

Dannythis is the ISD

Singapore’s Internal Security Department.

We want yo uto take your blog Blue Heeler off the internet or stern action will follow because of your political opinions.

take note.

This is our last warning to you.

Oh dear. :)

I don't think Singapore’s Internal Security Department would be quite so amused to be misrepresented by an idiot who can't spell or type properly.

And more importantly, one who doesn't have the presence of mind to know that Hotmail, convenient as it can be for PDA users, is NOT the preferred mode of official communication.

Blueheeler did not even bat an eyelash. His response:

If this is from the ISD, then I’m Madonna, from the ‘Like A Virgin’ days. Ooooh, I’m shivering in my fishnet stockings…!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

ACA D-G Contract NOT Renewed

I just love it when the bad guys, especially those in disgrace, try to leave the scene in a blaze of glory.

The latest of them is the Anti-Corruption Agency director-general.

Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Noor has purportedly 'accepted the Government’s decision' not to renew his contract, saying 'other candidates should be given the chance to lead the body more effectively'.

That's a fine way of putting it.

His next quote deserves to be preserved in a block for posterity.

“I accept the decision in good faith. I have conducted my responsibility as director-general to my level best.”
Dear God. His level best?

This coming from the guy who is being investigated by the police for alleged corrupt practises and abuse of power?

The guy who is supposed to PREVENT and EXTERMINATE corruption??

Malaysia, I truly weep for thee.

(Breaking News) ACA chief contract not renewed - Elizabeth Wong
ACA D-G Zulkipli Mat Noor’s contract won’t be renewed - Malaysia Today

Proton, The Abandoned Orphan

Proton hasn't exactly keeled over and croaked just yet, but it's ailing for sure.

And for how long, is beyond me.

Volkswagen is digging its heels in the sand, while Peugeot Citroen has rejected it outright.

That leaves us with General Motors, but if GM wouldn't buy even Chrysler, what are the odds it would settle for Proton with all its additional baggage and conditions like the 30% game?

I'm with The Malaysian when he says the government's claims about still 'evaluating options' to find a strategic partner, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Proton was never a serious automobile manufacturer. And certainly not world-class.

Of course, in the Malaysian scene, steep taxes for imported cars certainly helped in propagating the car to the masses.

As The Malaysian says, ordinary Malaysians were forced to buy Proton cars despite their inferior quality.

There are misguided Malaysians out there who still believe that Proton is the saviour of their souls because the lower price is within their car-purchasing range.

Many fail to understand that a Japanese or Korean car (with competitive features) without tax, is cheaper than a Proton.

Yes, foreign cars have been heavily taxed to give this illusion that Proton is cheaper.

And for what price? Inferior quality - perpetual power-window failure, cheap and easily broken plastic component parts, and poor performance which is the distinguishing feature of the Proton aka Potong.

Someone ought to ban Potongs from Malaysian roads. I personally think Potongs are the source of traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur as the traffic inevitably slows down at any slope gradient.

Most Potongs go blue in the face trying to accelerate enough power (on the far right lane at that) to make it to the peak of the hill without going bust. Meanwhile, the imported cars tail behind impatiently.

Including yours truly.

I swore I was never going to buy a Potong ever. I have been called unpatriotic for buying my Japanese car but spank my ass and call me a bitch - I'll never settle for a Potong.


Someone else can have milo-tin-on-wheels.