Thursday, 28 August 2008

Reservations And Misgivings

It came as no surprise that Anwar Ibrahim won. On that issue, only Khairy Jamaluddin seemed a little ... confused?

I believe some in Permatang Pauh may have been moved by his words. Others, however, felt it was their birthright to give BN exactly what it deserves - a solid kick in its rear end.

But now that we have our PM-in-waiting getting closer to his office in Putrajaya, it is all roses and celebrations?

Rox has her reservations:

It might not be so easy to kick Anwar out once he's in power. Remember Anwar had Dr M as mentor? And Dr M was a despot during his reign.

Might not? :) I assure you, it will be tough. BN is overflowing with village idiots and even they are difficult to kick out. It sounds simplistic, but the idea is not to go around removing leaders unless they are beyond help.

Despite whatever we may think of Pak Lah, most of us are allowed to speak our minds without being sent to Kamunting - we have partial freedom of speech precisely because he's a weak PM.

Which is why I have never supported the calls for Abdullah Badawi to step down. I find he is somewhat harmless and benign. But the economy is nosediving. We need to take proper action - start attracting investors, stop wasting money and allowing the politicians to plunder our national coffers.

Anwar, nominated as the right person for the job may be questionable - some of his plans during his tenet as Finance Minister and Deputy PM like approval of the IMF were clearly wrong moves.

But I believe Pakatan Rakyat, collectively, have what it takes.

Would we dare to speak out under Dr M? Do you think Anwar will allow us to be so vocal once he's in power? I'm a skeptic, I think not.

No one spoke during Dr M's despotic rule. For all the flapping his lips do today, it's a wonder he doesn't realise his own hypocrisy.

You speak of Anwar as if he is exactly in the same condition and situation as Dr M. In the 80s, Dr M started feeling around for his boundaries. Slowly implementing unjust laws and enforcing them.

The public was oblivious. You can't blame them, really. There was no precedent to compare with. The dude looked smart - after all, he was a doctor, and you know how much the average Asian worships doctors.

Today, it's different. There are a few other credible politicians within Pakatan Rakyat, and I like that they voice their dissenting views instead of cowering under a whip.

While I personally think some of the public have not learned - they still listen to what they want to hear - many are wary of what could potentially happen if caution (when it comes to politicians) is not exercised.

As for freedom of speech and expression, the government has realised the amount of damage that discussion and individual opinions has brought about. I'd forgotten about it, but the government has started imposing a crackdown.

Oh, and it's no secret anymore that the government is openly practising internet censorship - effectively breaking the laws of the nation. Need I mention what a negative impression potential investors are getting?

And why may I ask, would Anwar's "imperfections" - closer to Dr M's - more acceptable than Pak Lah's?

Purely because he belongs to Pakatan Rakyat. Barisan Nasional was given too many chances to change and reform itself. They are incapable of change.

In fact, the whole concept of UMNO revolves around race. You have to be Malay to gain membership of UMNO. Except for the multitudes of mamaks who infiltrate UMNO to calmly manipulate the Malays and have them thinking they have their best interests at heart.

Anwar, at least listens to those at ground level. Not that it is entirely a good thing.

As Poetic Injustice says: ‘Hope’ can be anything he wants it to be. Anwar has his ears close to the ground. Through his extensive network, he understands the sentiments on the ground and he uses this as colours for the empty canvass.

We could also be manipulated by the very people who listen to us - and that is very dangerous.

Personally, I don't espouse Anwar Ibrahim purely for Anwar Ibrahim. I want to see what Pakatan Rakyat can do, if given a chance.

It could have been any candidate - perhaps Hishammuddin Hussein, even Khairy Jamaludin. Okay, all of you can stop making those gagging noises, right now! :)

No, seriously. Those two for instance, are genuinely intelligent men. Their split personalities, whereby they brandish weapons and shout threats in a disturbingly uncouth manner is purely a BN-enhanced characteristic.

At this point, it seems like nothing good can come out of BN, and so it's time to bid them farewell. But...

Like I said before enticing BN politicians over to PR would mean that the immediate change you Malaysians are so gian after will remain a dream because PR will become BN again, so, I'll REPEAT, what change?

I have always been against that move. In fact, this, in my opinion is the heart of the problem.

And Poetic Injustice has some legitimate points about Pakatan Rakyat itself:

The Selangor government fiasco(s), the recent Perak ‘sex and money’ scandal all indicate that the message of hope somehow got lost in translation.

Zulkifli Nordin’s recent actions prove that there is trouble brewing in the multiracial party. What is Azmin Ali stand? Saifuddin Nasution’s? Even worse, Anwar Ibrahim’s?

The differences runs deep in PKR and it indicates that there is no strong strand of belief that is holding them together.

Another clear indication of Anwar’s true brand of leadership is the behaviour of Anwar’s hardcore supporters. Reports of gangsterism involving local and international media, reports of disruptive behaviour towards women, all this reflects on the real leadership stand of Anwar Ibrahim.

I won't dismiss these pertinent questions as teething problems or such.

Anwar Ibrahim has spent his entire life wanting to be Prime Minister. He has a lot to lose if he doesn't at least accede to the needs and desires of the rakyat.

This are the rakyat that are feeling the effects of their 'people power'. Once believing it was impossible, they now feel empowered.

Sure, the Indians and Chinese are bowled over by the legendary "Anak Melayu, anak kita, anak Cina anak kita, anak India pun anak kita juga. Mengapa harus kita bezakan?" remark.

But the strange thing is, even the Malays are inclined to shed aside the racial politics which predominantly favours them. We need someone who can unite the people, even if he has ulterior motives at hand.

Regardless of what anyone says, no one has been as instrumental in getting the Opposition's act together to unleash the tsunami - brought on by the people, NOT the politicians - during the last general elections.

Access Malaysia Today!

The nerve of the blithering idiots.

MCMC has instructed all our internet service providers to block the Malaysia Today site.

Apart from Dear Pete, I haven't been reading it. Firstly, I am busy with a critical deadline. Secondly, most of the stuff there is very populist and somewhat biased.

But when someone violates my right to read any material on the internet, I turn irate.

There are 2 ways to overcome the blocks:

a. TM uses a simple IP block. To access change the DNS lookup to OpenDNS.

Those using XP :

* click Start -> Connect To
* Right Click network connection you are using.
* Select Properties
* Click on Network Tab
* Highlight “Internet Protocol”
* Click on Properties at bottom right
* Click “Use the Following DNS server addresses

Preferred DNS Server :
Alternate DNS server :

Click OK all the way. close connection and start again. If you type you will arrive at the site.

b. change URL to

It's going to take a lot more than blocking internet sites for people to abandon this quest for change.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Symbolism And Cult Figures

Rox asked, "How does flying the flag upside [down] help? Who's coming to help us?"

I have said it once and I will say it again, no one can help or save us but ourselves. We screwed up and now we need to patch ourselves up again.

We need to be constantly reminded of our predicament. We need to constantly remind those around us that we need change.

And what better reminder than something which is painful?

Our national flag is our greatest symbol of sovereignity, and of pride in ourselves as a nation. But it means NOTHING if we are oppressed in our own land. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is symbolism - a meaning beyond itself.

I actually cherish some of the criticism I receive for flying the flag upside down.

There was once, when people practically spat on the ground and growled, "F*ck Malaysia, may she rot in hell." Those moments really troubled me.

It really troubled me, because there were people out there who were not able to see Malaysia for her culture, her diversity, those smiling faces, and for what it's worth, the shiny happy people.

They only saw the nefarious government and its self-serving politicians. But today, I am chided for what people perceive as "abusing Malaysia" by flying its flag upside down. People feel like they belong in Malaysia, and for that, I have tears of pride and joy in my eyes.

In a few more years, I can expect them to understand the whole concept of symbolism.

Rox continues, "We can only help ourselves but the trouble is we want change at all costs. And I can only look on helplessly from my vantage point and see Malaysians who are so desperate that they are willing to throw themselves to sharks in order to escape from pirates."

Ah, but Rox. You and I are able to identify the sharks. The other Malaysians see them as dolphins. You know why? It's the Malaysian love for cult figures.

The problem with us is that we establish a picture of something or someone and get quite upset when our image of them is distorted or our expectations aren't met. Especially, when someone else points out a discrepancy.

It hit me in Blogger Strike 2 in The People's Parliament, when Helen Ang responded to a particularly asinine blog entry made by Marina Mahathir.

Now before I go on, I would like to point out that Marina does, on occasion write some good stuff. Strange Musings, is one of my favourites - articulate and eloquent.

But as a popular figure in Malaysian society, she should expect that her blog entries be commented upon, regardless of whether they are lauded or criticised.

Helen calls her an 'alpha blogger' and yes - in the minds of Malaysians, because she has made strides in improvement when it comes to AIDS, she is above criticism.

Perhaps what disturbs me about Marina, is that she tries to write from an average joe's point of view, though she’s obviously not. She is privileged, and while many say it is unfair to tar her with the same brush as her father, it cannot be disputed that she has had an advantage because of that.

People either fail to see that, or wilfully refuse to.

It cannot be said that Helen minced her words in her response to Marina's post. But I was more astonished at the number of people who were falling over themselves trying to defend Marina Mahathir when she's perfectly capable of doing so on her own (were she inclined to).

The herd instinct was remarkable. It took one person to start, and the rest jumped onto the bandwagon.

But Marina is not the only cult figure we have. We worship practically everyone who has done anything significant - that's how bad our Malaysia Boleh inferiority complex is. How many of us lap up every last word that RPK utters and declare it as the gospel truth?

Raja Petra Kamarudin has a way with words. I found his agony-aunt article, 'Dear Pete' a hoot! An absolute brainwave, and so apt for our current situation. If you haven't come across it, you must read it!

That being said, could you rationally and wholeheartedly believe the Statutory Declarations he comes up with on a regular basis?

I know he has a knack for throwing around money (and that usually makes informants sing like canaries) but really, he lost credibility with me after the first one.

And then, Anwar.

This, is unchartered territory. I've always regarded him as a cross between Najib Tun Razak and Hishammuddin Hussein Onn. If you know the colourful past of these two, you'd know how racist and dangerous a combo-pack can be.

The problem with people is that they worship the ground the man walks on. They believe he can do no wrong. Today, he is hailed as the the Saviour, the Messiah, God's Own Chosen One.

That, is what is wrong.

I have been giving it plenty of thought. I have watched Barisan Nasional employ every single dirty trick in the book to remain in government. Believe me when I say I marvel at how long they have managed to stay in power.

Honestly speaking, there is no best candidate who can lead us today. We have one who very much wants to be PM though, at all costs. The raw ambition is startling, but IT CAN ONLY HARM US IF WE LET IT.

The problem with us Malaysians, is that we tend to elect representatives and then ignore them for the next five years. That is not how democracy works.

Heck, I remind myself everyday that, "Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reasons."

There is no such thing as a perfect leader. No matter who we elect, they are bound to fail us at some point. At this point, I believe even a shark can lead. One did for 22 years.

But if we keep a close eye on our leaders, and stay to the course, I think we might actually work out a symbiotic relationship, where the PM enjoys relative luxury and power, but still serves the people.

If we can see Anwar Ibrahim for what he is, a fallible mortal with weaknesses, who needs as many kudos as brickbats, we may have a chance.

If we stop making a cult figure out of him, he may actually be able to lead.

I am an idealist, but not to the point of waiting for the perfect timing and for the perfect man (or woman) to come along. Perfection does not exist in our world. And perhaps that was what we Malaysians did for over 50 years.

Tomorrow, the people of Permatang Pauh get to decide the fate of an entire nation.

It could be the beginning of a tumultous journey of discovering and growing. It could also be a period of instability. But it is NOT in the hands of Anwar Ibrahim, no matter what anyone says.

It is in OUR hands.

Saturday, 23 August 2008


It was Fergie who helped me see the light.

"AND what does the PM mean by EVIL???" she asked.

It got me thinking.

Now there are heaps of more impressive words that could be used besides evil. This list, in fact, is hardly exhaustive.

Besides, the last time I checked, it was more hip and happening to call bloggers unemployed women, monkeys and goblok. So why evil, all of a sudden?

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

You see, he'd called us bloggers evil, because we'd flown our flags upside down. So Pak Lah wanted in on a piece of action, too.

If you notice, the word E-V-I-L spelt backwards is L-I-V-E!! It's an encryption code, which only I (with the help of Fergie) have deciphered. (I'll accept my Nobel Peace Prize later.)

So what Pak Lah actually means is Bloggers Live!! As in Hidup Bloggers! Or maybe he'd even moot the idea of Bloggers Siaran Langsung, since he's gone into taking train rides these days.

Anything can happen, man.

So basically, since we flew our flag upside down, he put his word backwards. I'll have to send him my thanks. Though I'll probably have to run it through morse or radio-encrypt it. How about the NATO phonetic alphabet?

Alfa Alfa Bravo, do you read me?

Damn, he's out again.

Putrajaya, we have a problem.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Petrol Price Down?

Sources say the government is planning to cut the petrol price by 5.6 per cent to RM2.55 a litre.

This is with effect from Saturday - tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Anger Can Be A Good Thing

Aisehman is an angry man.

He is livid about the Perak state executive councillors arrested by the ACA for alleged graft, involving a proposed housing project in Seri Iskandar worth RM 180mil.

I'm not one for getting into people's faces with "I-told-you-so", but this is precisely why I'm against defections from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan Rakyat.

If we're going to clean up, let's do it properly. Start anew. Make politics something to be proud of, not a matter of who got into bed with whom. We have waited for 50 whole years, can't we wait just a little longer?

At the rate BN is going, it will be no time at all that they will diligently and conscientiously self-destruct. Taking train rides into the city to meet the common folk isn't going to cut it.

Not when you magnanimously assure the Indians that they will receive licenses to be scrap metal collectors if they vote for BN in Permatang Pauh.

Or when you prop Lee Chong Wei up in Permatang Pauh and tell the Chinese that Malaysian sport is so multicultural, that the same could be expected for the administration of the nation.

Or when you tell the Chinese that they're so lucky to be able to retain their names instead of having to change it.

We're not THAT stupid to be taken in. Well, not all of us, anyway.

The smarter ones appear to provoke the wrath of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The nerve of us to use our brains, damn us!

You'd think a brain was there for keeping the scalp and skull in shape. But no, some of us bloggers actually have the temerity to use our grey matter. Someone send in the ISA! Oh wait, someone has already suggested it!

Of course, what is right and wrong can be subject to judgement and discourse. Abdullah calls the act of bloggers to fly the flag upside down as 'evil'.

Evil? I can use two better, more bombastic words to accurately describe Abdullah Ahmad Badawi - nefarious despot.

You have probably realised by now that I have chosen to fly the flag upside down. It was a decision I made after deliberating for more than 3 days.

Originally, it was meant for the eyes of someone out there who has the power and capacity to do something about it. I don't know if that person/s exists, but that's not why it's still up.

It breaks my heart to see the flag upside down. It reminds me everytime I come into my own site, that we are a nation in distress. If the flag doesn't bother you (even just a tiny bit) when you see it like that, I don't know what to say.

I know a lot of people disagree with my position. They think it's disrespectful and that I should not take out my anger on the country, because it is the BN-dominated government who is screwing us, not our fellow Malaysians.

This has nothing to do with disrespect. My anger is neither against the flag, nor the national anthem, nor the country. I love my country. It is the state of the country that I am portraying with the flag in that position.

When I was about 8 or 9 years of age, Adik and I had a couple of pet tortoises named Justin and Tatyana Romanova. Being kids, we once neglected them for a couple of days.

You know how hectic life can be when you're a kid. So many other commitments - playing with the Lego set, mutilating Barbie dolls, chasing the neighbour's cat, fighting, and on occasion, doing homework.

But the neglect cost us (and the pet tortoises) their lives. They turned ... well, turtle. Upside down, that is. Just the way our country is slowly and surely headed. You neglect something for just a while and it turns upside down.

Someone suggested hanging the BN flag upside down, instead of our national flag.

Perish the thought. There is no way in heaven or hell or in-between, that a BN flag is going to taint my site.

In fact, I wouldn't even consider burning the BN flag as a sign of protest because it's not worth the carbon dioxide and other noxious gases it would emit when flag cloth is set on fire.

I may use it to wipe my feet though.

Spanair Crash In Madrid

This is a nasty one. You can barely find intact parts - only debris. This plane crash killed 153.

Summer is almost ending and it's at the height of the vacation season. I know, because most of my colleagues in Madrid are away from their desks in the office.

It feels frighteningly close to home because I have been to the Barajas Airport in Madrid, though I've never flown Spanair.

The black box (known in aviation circles as the 'flight data recorder') was retrieved from the debris. We'll probably know what happened soon enough.

Initial reports suggested that a fire had broken out in one of the engines during or shortly after take-off from Terminal Four, and the plane ended up in a field.

The plane had earlier begun taxiing to the runway, before turning back because of a technical problem, which had caused an hour's delay in the take-off.

The pilot had reported a fault with a temperature gauge, but it was thought to have been fixed. It is possible that there was indeed a big problem, just not with the gauge.

The aircraft in question was an American-made McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 so apparently the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is sending an investigation team to Madrid.

Let's see if they can somehow blame the crash on Malaysian engineers.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

What Exactly Offends You?

Someone has pulled the carpet under my feet when it comes to political correctness. Because I swear to God, I have no idea what is acceptable and what isn't, these days.

The Spanish Olympic basketball teams have apologised for the picture. And the Chinese aren’t terribly offended, by the looks of it. But everyone else and their pet turtles are.

Perhaps I should begin by asking, "Since when did slitty eyes become a bad thing??" I have dated many Chinese men in my 29 years of roaming the planet we fondly call Earth, and I think it looks very good on them, in case you hadn't noticed yourself.

You know ol' Stevie of You-Tiup? He has slitty eyes and he's very cute. I should know - I've gone out with him before AND sat in his famed 1990 Honda CRX with a 1.6l DOHC ZC engine before it got sold off. (Eat your hearts out, girls).

How could natural physical features ever be a bad thing?

I once went to Kenny Rogers for lunch with three of my Malaysian-Chinese colleagues. If you've never been there, I should explain that their meal-set provides for one muffin, the flavour of which is your choice.

Yours truly picked chocolate, while the other three picked banana and vanilla flavours, I think. When the muffins arrived together, I found it amusing.

"Look," I pointed out, "we've chosen our flavours according to our skin tones!"

I was severely chastised for that. "You shouldn't say that about your own skin colour," my colleague rebuked me.

I don't understand why. I'm Malaysian-Indian. I'm dark.

Compared to a Scandinavian, I'm charcoal. Compared to the Spaniards, I'm somewhat tanned. Compared to the average Malaysian-Indian, I'm sort of light-skinned. Compared to an African, I'm paleface.

So-freaking-what? I love my skin colour. Don't presume that I don't like it. Don't presume that being light or dark-skinned is a bad thing. It isn't, no more than having slitty eyes.

And why can't people refrain from speaking on behalf of other people? Most of the outrage came from people who know neither the Chinese nor the Spanish.

I've lived in Madrid for a bit. I think they're probably the most friendly people in the European continent, though I admit, I haven't been to every single country in Europe. Yet. :)

But seriously. I've been on the Metro, sat in their buses, gone into their stores, driven on their roads, filled up fuel at their stations - and not been discriminated against, even once.

The fuel station story is an interesting one. I figured theirs would be self-service like Malaysian ones, but I didn't know what the procedure might be like. So I asked my colleague, Emilio, what the word for 'full tank' was.

"Lleno," he told me. It just means 'full'. I also discovered they didn't have swipe counters at the kiosk like we do here, and I didn't want to leave my credit card with the guy manning the store inside.

"Would he be worried about serving a foreigner?" I asked Emilio.

Emilio looked bemused. He obviously hadn't considered that situation. "Just tell him you're a foreigner and leave your pasaporte as exchange, if he asks," Emilio finally suggested doubtfully.

I wasn't too comfortable with that idea, but I had no choice.

At the petrol station, I stated my request to the store clerk. He smiled, nodded and waved me on. I didn't have to leave my credit card, a cash deposit or even my passport.

He just trusted me - a foreigner - completely. Heck, I could have driven off without paying. There's no one in Malaysia who would trust me so explicitly and yet, I'm a citizen of this goddamn country.

This woman has lived in Spain for two years and she agrees with me that whatever they may be, the Spaniards aren't racist.

My friend Tim, has a very apt saying, which could be used to describe the Spanish Olympic basketball team.

'Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity'.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Rox For PM

Remember I once asked, Who Can Lead Us?

I didn't exactly expect a response, but Rox has offered herself up as a living sacrifice. Well, sort of. :)

It's a hoot! You absolutely HAVE to read it!! Now!

Rox's offering should rightly take responsibility for evoking consternation and some very startled expressions in my office. I do derive a significant amount of amusement from the stuff I read online.

But rarely do I bury my nose and mouth in the palms of my hands, to unsuccessfully muffle the snorts of laughter that did escape eventually.

She has a way with words, Rox does. But more importantly, she also has some very salient points, 3 of which I highlight below.

1. The New Economic Policy

The NEP is just so taboo, that no one really wants to address it. Especially the politicians (with the notable exception of Lim Guan Eng) because at this point, saying anything could lose you some precious votes.

But you know what's wrong with us non-Malays? We tend to curl up in a corner and lick our wounds because we think the nation is doing us such an injustice by perpetuating the implementation of the NEP.

To an extent, it does border on unfairness. But it's nothing compared to what it's doing to the Malays. How it's crippling those it claims to "help" and ensuring that they are eternally buried under their mountain of insecurity.

Guess which despot owns this.

By the way, it's official - I have bad taste. Both Rox and GobloKing, among others, think that this mansion is garishly furnished. But I sure love the pool.

Rox has a penchant for documenting stories of people who live in strange places, bless her heart. The stories about these Malays, I believe, were highlighted by the mainstream media to validate and justify the implementation of the NEP.

But I think they serve as a solid reminder of why the NEP is such a failure. Compare the splendour of the mansion, with the abandoned toilet and the chicken coop.

Same country, different world. Product of the NEP.

2. Corruption

People I have spoken to in person always disagree with me, but I believe law-enforcement officers must be given better wages and working conditions so that "they won't be tempted by pittance/duit kopi".

It's not so much about the money as it is about instilling pride and integrity in carrying out their duties.

Honestly, it's very distressing to see that the police and militarymen have no more zest for what they do, which happens to be a very important role in our society. They have exchanged their noble calling for the errands of a running dog, that's what they've done.

They have been bribed into doing the bidding of the evil despots in our country. That desperately begs for change.

As for the despots themselves:

Any minister/administrator found guilty of making lucrative deals with foreign operatives at the expense of the rakyat, and civil servants of accepting bribes in any form or amount, will be tarred, feathered and hanged by their schwanz/kitzler to fry under the sun in front of Parliament from midday to sundown.

Good to know she doesn't practise gender discrimination. Equality for all, baby.

3. Education

This is so relevant, in the face of sub-standard institutions of higher learning.

Forget about UiTM. Our children are being educated in schools, where they are taught not to question authority. Or ask why something is done without being told, "It's tradition."

We have the memorise-and-regurgitate rote system that does not enhance creativity or inspire critical thinking. Simply put, we don't think.

The Indians follow the rote system as well. But if you worked in Cyberjaya, you would know that international servers and computer systems for MNCs are manned not by Malaysians but by expatriate Indian systems and software engineers.

Where did we go wrong?

We obviously haven't moved along with world trends when it comes to education. But Rox does a fine job of hashing it out; anything else I say would be redundant.

I feel sorry for all those top students in my class who graduated only to find, that the working world is the complete opposite of life in school.

And I'm sorry for those bored students who never bothered to put in any effort because the education system frankly undermined their intelligence.

I was lucky. I had maths and physics, the only two subjects I shone at, apart from English.

Oh, and I had Candide. :)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Citizen Of The World?

I've always fancied myself as a dictator of sorts.

But if the truth be told, I'm a goddamn socialist-democrat hybrid - if one could possible co-exist as such. :)

I started this blog partly to express my own views on the political situation in Malaysia.

After spending years of being frightened and intimidated by the ISA threat, I eventually threw in the towel and ended the silence.

Somehow, I figured that having my own blog meant I was in control - I could write whatever I wanted and pull rank by reminding any dissenting commenters about the ownership of this blog.

But if you're an intelligent person, you would realise (as I eventually did - I'm slow; I must've been a UiTM student in my past life) that the I-preach-you-listen concept is no fun at all, much less mind-stimulating.

Realisation dawned one morning before work - which is when I usually check my mail and read some blogs - that I had a wide range of comments on my blog over various issues.

Some agreed with my take, and some disagreed - though they were put in such a polite way so that they didn't appear as dissenting views. ;-)

But in spite of my wannabe-dictator-ish ways, I must admit that I think my commenters have some very valid and intriguing points, which I humbly reproduce.

Walla gives us an insightful perspective on being a citizen of Malaysia (or any country, for that matter):

It remains to say many of the future generations of this country will have to make our own paradigm shift in the way we think about our existence in this world. To be able to improve each generation, one may have to resign oneself to be permanent nomads, forever floating from one country to another. Maybe by then the third wave of globalization will turn this world around so that what is a 'country' disappears in the melt of cross-border 'markets'. Ohmae's invisible continent? Who knows?

Let us take some comfort. Is it really that important to be a citizen of a country? The third wave speaks about sovereign funds behaving like transnational entities with their own boards acting like 'governments' in all but name. In such a context, loyalty of the individual shifts more from country to company. Ask someone working for a multinational firm, and that's exactly what has happened. So many of the waking hours are spent tussling with global business issues that lining up to pay taxes or collect a form to get a rebate seems minor by comparison. And if your government politely shoos you out of the district clinic so that it will have one patient less to wait another five months for a free set of dentures, the whole notion of nationality and belonging become something almost trite compared to the imperative of surviving and saving for a future generation by personal resilience alone.

I hadn't actually heard of Kenichi Ohmae or his books, The End of the Nation State and The Borderless World prior to reading this. Something to check out, indeed.

Globalisation has ensured that we are competing on a whole new level altogether. I work in Cyberjaya and that place alone is enough to remind me constantly that we are no longer restricted by national borders.

But really, is it all that important to be a citizen of a country?

I think if you were to ask the majority of Malaysians, especially the non-bumiputras, their answer would be no. Which is why there still exists a substantial number of Chinese and Indians in Malaysia, in spite of all the racism received in the hands of government.

The question is, does everyone want to constantly uproot and move on to a new place?

Between you and me, I find that I feel more patriotic after long trips abroad. The desire to see familiar surroundings, faces and routines are inherent within me.

It's a great feeling to drive on Malaysian roads (even during peak-hour traffic, for the first few weeks of returning home), go for breakfast at the nearby stalls, and speak Malay. People give me sideways glances when I say that last bit. :)

I guess I still hold on to the concept of nationality and belonging.

I want to have tears in my eyes at international events like the Olympics when one of ours has bagged a gold. When they play the national anthem and fly the jalur gemilang.

But that's just me.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Undermining People's Faith

One very effective way to ensure a book is read: Ban it.

However, I'm not sure if that was the intended result when the Home Ministry made this move.

Malaysia bans books; Muslim women activists upset

An excerpt:

The activist group Sisters in Islam, which published the book on Muslim women, criticized the ban.

Norhayati Kaprawi, an official with the group, said the book was an academic work in which female activists and scholars studied the impact of extremism on Muslim women's lives.

"For me, it's very ironic that the book itself is a victim of extremism. Does that mean women cannot even discuss extremism?" she said. "What do they want us to do? Lie down and shut up?"

Ever since the recent talks with PAS, the UMNO government is outdoing itself with its religious posturing - first by the disastrous protest over the Bar Council forum, and now by banning books discussing Islam.

I wonder if there are Muslims out there who fall for these kind of political tactics.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Please. Not UiTM!!

I'm trying VERY hard to feel upset. Or hurt. Or dissed.

But no matter how hard I attempt to conjure up any emotion along those lines, I fail miserably. :)

Maybe if it had been one of the Ivy League colleges (you know - Yale, Harvard or Princeton) in the USA or Oxbridge in the UK pracising some neighbourhood-friendly racism, perhaps I may feel a little down.

But it's UiTM!!! UiTM, for the love of God!! So UiTM slams MB’s proposal to open its doors to non-bumiputra students. Do I look like I care??

I think UiTM doesn't get it. I don't think they understand how poorly the rest of us think of them. Among strangers within the engineering fraternity, there are times when we mention our alma mater while making small talk.

Usually, the UiTM graduate is spotted long before he identifies himself. No speak English. No think many. Dunno.

In fact, the creep of an MB, Khalid Ibrahim, was asking for UiTM to open 10% of its intake to the other races to raise the level of integration, competitiveness and the quality of graduates.

I find this offensive. The MB obviously doesn't care that with a mere 10% representation of non-Malays, it is more likely that the standard of the non-Malay will drop rather than the standard of Malays will rise.

Frankly, I would never consider sending any child of mine to that university, should it ever open its doors to non-Malays. I don't know which non-Malay would be so desperate to enter into that university, unless his results were so poor.

Even then, the standard of education in UiTM is so bad (judging from the majority of its graduates), that passing up on a higher education would be a better option entirely. Why go through 3 years of classes only to be unemployable later?

Save yourselves the cash. Save yourselves the grief.

To hell with UITM - MAVERIQUE
UiTM, It’s OK, We Are Not Hard-Up - Jed Yoong

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Who Can Lead Us?

A frequent reader of CRANKSHAFT dropped by and left a comment in response to my post, Malaysia Is In Distress:

..I am at a loss as to how to get our country going again .. put an end to corruption and be governed by people with integrity who have the citizens' welfare at heart. Can anyone think of such a leader?

It is a pertinent question indeed, Fergie.

In the face of a glaring lack of leadership, we yearn for someone to fill in the space. In his own words, this guy says he wouldn’t mind having Hishammuddin Hussein as the Prime Minister.

I've probably agreed with him numerous times over his opinion of Abdullah Badawi - heck, I think half the country thinks he should vacate his seat as PM. In fact, I think it is a miracle of brown-wooly-mammoth-proportions that Abdullah is still in office.

But under no circumstances am I going to vote Hishammuddin Hussein into office. With his keris-waving stunts, he has certainly not endeared himself to me.

Even Malik Imtiaz Sarwar has taken to dark ruminations about statemanship and the lack of faith in any political candidate in Malaysia to run this country the way it should be run.

To steal his thunder, is there a statesman in the house?

Of course there is. In fact, there are many. Because of the many shortcomings of our leaders, we are fooled into thinking we are just as incompetent.

But if the truth be told, I think most of us are even better than some of our foreign counterparts from the USA, Australia and Europe. After having worked abroad, I personally find myself to be on par with my contemporaries.

And yet, compared to some of my Malaysian friends, I am in fact, a shrinking violet.

But most of these friends of mine have made plans or are making plans to move on to greener pastures. A place where we are accepted for who we are and the skills we bring.

Not what ethnic group we belong to, or which God we worship.

And the fact is, Malaysians are incredibly mobile, adaptable and versatile. We're practically in every corner of the planet.

We're in demand because of our skills all over the world - except for Malaysia, that is, where what is more important is who you know and rub shoulders with, and what colour your skin is.

So why doesn't a competent Malaysian stand up and take charge of bringing about change?

For starters, that's easier said than done. Most self-respecting Malaysians wouldn't want to be associated with politics. And why would they, when politics is more about rambling nincompoops with sole expertise in sodomy, corruption and brown-nosing than leading a nation?

Politics, all over the world, is dirty, but in Malaysia, it is the very depths of the cesspool.

That being said, I still think we have hope.

There are young potentials involved in politics like Hannah Yeoh, Nathaniel Tan and Nik Nazmi.

And for what it's worth, leaders aren't born, they're made. When young Malaysians start seeing people they'd want to emulate, only then will we start seeing talent within the political pool - and perhaps, world-class statesmen.

Until then, it's going to be a long way uphill.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Consensual Or Not?

This fellow is a pretty boy, but he's very confused indeed.

So confused he goes and gets a medical examination when he knows he hasn't been sodomised.

But then, he's so confused that he cannot decide if he was "sodomised" against his will or not.

But if he claims through his confusion that it was consensual after all, how can he be traumatised by it?

Oh well. What do you expect for someone who could only muster a 1.69 grade point average after 3 semesters of university?

I was wondering if a woman could get away with something like this, let alone a man.

Let's say I had a boss who was both powerful and persuasive - and I had a crush on him. I go around with him on business trips around the world and one day ...

Okay, I'm a shy, innocent and demure young woman, so I'll let Voltaire describe what happened through his literary brilliance, Candide.

One day as Cunegonde was walking near the castle in the little wood known as "the park," she saw Dr. Pangloss in the bushes, giving a lesson in experimental physics to her mother's chambermaid, a very pretty and docile little brunette. Since Lady Cunegonde was deeply interested in the sciences, she breathlessly observed the repeated experiments that were performed before her eyes. She clearly saw the doctor's sufficient reason, and the operation of cause and effect. She then returned home, agitated and thoughtful, reflecting that she might be young Candide's sufficient reason, and he hers.

On her way back to the castle she met Candide. She blushed, and so did he. She greeted him in a faltering voice, and he spoke to her without knowing what he was saying. The next day, as they were leaving the table after dinner, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen. She dropped her handkerchief, he picked it up; she innocently took his hand, and he innocently kissed hers with extraordinary animation, ardor and grace; their lips met, their eyes flashed, their knees trembled, their hands wandered.

Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh happened to pass by the screen; seeing this cause and effect, he drove Candide from the castle with vigorous kicks in the backside. Cunegonde fainted. The baroness slapped her as soon as she revived, and consternation reigned in the most beautiful and agreeable of all possible castles.

Right. I'm done blushing now, thanks.

Assuming this happens about 8 times with my boss (back to the story now, folks, I know you've gotten all distracted) and then I decide all of a sudden one day to cry 'rape'.

So I lodge a police report and go get a medical examination. (I don't have the benefit of an audience with any politician, in spite of the fact that my university results were not all that bad.)

Under any normal circumstances, taking into account that I am over 16 years (the age of consent), and that I have no bruises as proof of a struggle, do you think I would be able to even have my day in court??

Even as a WOMAN, I'd think my chances are slim.

But Saiful Bukhari? Well, he's special.

How Incompetent Are We, Really?

I'm upset that Qantas has implied Malaysia lacks competence when it comes to simple maintenance checks.

To begin with, preliminary investigations into the Boeing 747 that had a forced emergency landing in the Philippines on his way from London to Melbourne showed that it was a faulty oxygen cylinder valve that blew the hole in the fuselage and not shoddy maintenance.

But this scare has evolved into a full-fledged flog-anyone-in-sight exercise, which involves a withdrawal of two 737 planes from being sent to Malaysia for heavy maintenance checks.

Qantas' decision to send its 737s to Malaysia for maintenance checks has come under intense scrutiny after the first plane sent there two months ago came back with 95 defects.

It has not been established if the defects rank along the lines of "dodgy staples" or if there is indeed, something with a cause for concern.

Malaysia Airlines issued a statement yesterday defending its checks and calling Australian reports on defects unsubstantiated.

I can understand that Malaysians pose a threat to the Australian Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) industry as we're cheap labour. We're essentially taking their jobs and leaving thm potentially unemployed.

But what really concerns me is whether we do have a hand in our own sorry reputation.

We are a nation with a need of "affirmative action" for the majority. We don't believe in meritocracy. We are steeped in quota systems - be it scholarships, entry into universities and purchase of property.

It is only natural that we have a whole bunch of incompetents walking around.

But have they, through our failed reputation, finally affected the economy?

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Open Threat To Bloggers

So someone wants us bloggers to be monitored.

I'm in the mood to dissect statements, so here goes:

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim Friday called for the creation of an internal council or mechanism to monitor bloggers.

He said that in terms of law, the Sedition Act was sufficient but he was worried about enforcement which was not up to the mark and having such a council would help in enforcement.

He said that the arms of the law might not be long enough to reach bloggers outside the country but if the blogger was in the country, something could be done and it was all a question of will.

Now this, ladies and gentlemen, is a thinly veiled threat. It is telling bloggers, "Either you shut up, or we shut you up." Hence the ominous reference to the Sedition Act.

It obviously doesn't matter who posts what. All they need is the random blogger to throw in jail and make an example of.

He told reporters this when asked to comment on a blog posting calling on the people to display their unhappiness with what is going on in the government by flying the national flag upside down.

He said that rather than resorting to such an act, it would be better for them to express their dissatisfaction through the proper channels like writing articles and to speak out on whom they disliked, what was wrong and what was inappropriate.

"Rather than bashing the flag, it's better for them to take it out on the person concerned or the leaders that they don't like," he added.

The minister is a man of words. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to read any of them.

Otherwise, he'd know that we do write plenty. We certainly express our views in no uncertain terms.

We agree with some of our fellow bloggers. And disagree with others. After all:

For the most part we are mature, and some of us have actually developed thinking skills, a concept that is largely alien to the majority of Malaysians.

After all, the government has invested a lot of time and effort to ensure that our education system does not allow us to question authority or the veracity of the statements (masked as 'facts') made by them.

But somewhere along the lines, we started thinking.

Like Aisehman says, If the Government feels it is “losing it”, it is only because the public finds the Government’s explanations and arguments less convincing than the other explanations and arguments out there.

And most bloggers make more sense than the government.

Sure. The government can arrest a few bloggers and put them away. They have tried to with Raja Petra Kamarudin and Abdul Rashid Abu Bakar.

But they cannot arrest this movement of change that this nation so desperately wants.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

You Call This Reformasi?

UPDATE: KTemoc does not disappoint in Malay Unity achieved? posted at 2.11PM on Aug 10, 2008.

Now this is why I don't believe in defections of BN members of parliament to the Opposition:

We get fools like this Zulkifli Nordin, who spend more time posturing to a Muslim audience than actually bringing about change.

Actually, I'm sort of disappointed that KTemoc has failed to mention this village idiot. Because in my opinion, he is a worse threat than the thuggish PKR bodyguards that Anwar Ibrahim employs, which is a fond topic of discussion for KTemoc.

I personally think this Zulkifli Noordin of PKR Kulim-Bandar Baharu, is an unmasked clone of his party leader.

Of course, those of you who think Anwar can do no wrong have probably forgotten his stance about Islam and Malays long before he got stuck with a sodomy charge - it was identical to this minion of his.

Reformasi, my a$$!

This particular fool has the temerity to demand that a Muslim lawyer take over the presidency of the Bar Council so that there would be "no more provocations" to Muslims.

The reason the Bar Council initiated this forum, was because of the injustice done to the non-Muslims in Malaysia due to the lack of religious freedom, especially revolving around Islam.

It sounds more than a little stupid when the entire idiot-brigade comes stomping in to claim that the non-Muslims are "challenging" Islam and that the Muslims have to "defend" their religion.

How sweet. Fine sort of religion it must be, because the last time I checked, no other religion had to "defend" itself from anyone.

Zulkifli Noordin goes on to make other typical terrorist-type statements like:

"I warn you not to challenge Muslims because their patience has limits".


"The forum organised by the Bar Council is not a dialogue but a programme aimed at provoking the Muslim community."

Osama would be so proud of him.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Malaysia Is In Distress

Honestly, I don't know who it is out there, who can make a difference.

We need a judiciary with integrity.

We need law enforcement with the courage to do the right thing.

And most of all, we need a government with the people's best interests at heart.

If you are reading this, I beseech you to do something. For the sake of this nation. For the sake of all of us here.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A Pro-Active Government

I took a moment to reflect on the state of our economy and how it arrived at such miserable depths.

And I came to this conclusion: we have a pro-active government in Malaysia.

Take for example, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti), which is planning to take pro-active steps to attract the companies that are thinking of shifting their operations out of China.

That's according to its minister, Muhyiddin Yassin. More on him later, I promise - this toadstool is too spectacular to pass up for comment.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia has a lot of advantages to attract these companies given the country’s political stability, good infrastructure and clear government policy.

Political stability? You mean a system where mistresses are blown up using C4 explosives? Where opponents are assaulted with sodomy charges? Where the judiciary is fixed? Where citizens are doused in chemical laced water and tear-gas?

I tremble to think what instability might be.

I won't argue with the claim of good infrastructure. Apart from our lousy public transportation, high toll charges, roads jammed with traffic, unstable internet connection, and other miscellaneous but insignificant drawbacks, we have good infrastructure.

It all goes downhill from here. Clear government policy?? Pro-active, you mean?

Read on to gauge what his pro-active measures consist of:

He also said the ministry was looking to set up a special task force to study the proposed implementation of Malaysia-China business flagship projects.

"The special taskforce will comprise members from MITI, Malaysia-China Business Council and government agencies to see what projects to consider," he said.

Task force? You and I know, what this will comprise of. A couple of overseas trips. Elaborate buffet hi-teas. Extensive rounds at the golf course.

Perhaps, one solitary dude will be tasked with pushing paper, and the obligatory memo or two will be sent out.

In other words, nothing will be done.

These guys have no clue about government policy except for lavish spending, and with the murky dealings this involves, there's nothing remotely "clear" about this. Stuff clear government policy, if you may.

Seriously. What do you expect with someone like Muhyiddin Yassin at the helm?

This is the dude who claimed that the upcoming Permatang Pauh by-election was a golden opportunity for Barisan Nasional to wrest the parliamentary seat from PKR.

I'm very curious to know what he's smoking. And if he'd be willing to share some. Because I'd really love to have a bit of whatever propels Muhyiddin to such heights of optimism, asinine as it may be.

Personally, I'm unhappy and disappointed that Wan Azizah gave up her seat. I can expect a few others would be, too. But to expect a BN candidate to beat Anwar Ibrahim, the homeboy in his locality - a safe seat - would be pushing it.

Like all BN politicians, Muhyiddin is all talk. A show of bravado followed by cowardly compliance when the whip is cracked.

He badly wants the role of party president of UMNO. But it's a tight fraternity, with lots of candidates vying for the role, regardless of whether they have blown up their quota of Mongolian models or not.

So in spite of unanimous backing from Johor UMNO, he will only defend his Umno vice-president post at the party elections in December. So much for "democratic principles" and "expression of opinions in decisions".

It's almost hysterical. But very pro-active.

Jack Parlabane, the main character of Christopher Brookmyre's novels has this to say about pro-activeness:

This description was made with the Barisan Nasional government in mind.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Malaysian Women In The UK

I was on the verge of throwing a hissy fit upon hearing that Malaysians could possibly require a visa to travel in the UK.

Perhaps I am presumptuous. Perhaps I consider it my birthright as a citizen of a Commonwealth country that I should freely roam the United Kingdom.

But now I'm beginning to understand why Malaysians, especially the women, have been raising severe eyebrows with our small but very much felt, presence.

We seem to have created a niche for ourselves in the world's oldest profession.

First we had good ole Sufiah Yusof. The government was falling all over itself to offer her a scholarship for her prodigious talents.

Except she appeared to have not just talent for math but for tricking herself out.

The government, true to itself, launched a programme to "save" her from her 23-year-old self, but like all other BN-government-related projects, it ended in dismal failure.

You'd think we Malaysians by then, had enough exposure (pun intended) with her highly advertised gig as Shilpa Lee (though I concede she wasn't all that hazardous to health)?

Nope. True to Malaysia-Boleh proportions (that is - C4, Sodomy and Judge-Fixing heights) we have another gem in the form of 22-year-old Noor Azura Mohd-Yusoff.

Now this female, renown not only for being a Malaysian prostitute, has the dubious distinction for brutality and savagery in dealing with other women who have the misfortune of messing with her boyfriend.

Perhaps she didn't have access to C4 explosives as some other notable Malaysians do, but it did not deter her one bit. Her victim was stabbed twice in the neck and decapitated whilst still alive, before being disposed of in a plastic bin liner.

I'm beginning to wonder if I should steer clear of women in their early twenties with 'Yusof' (and variations of it) in their last name. I would love to live for a little longer, if it's not too much trouble.

I can understand perfectly well why the British would reconsider before having any of us in the country.

And why not? We sure as hell have one heck of a reputation.

Malaysians are dangerous.

After Our Holier-Than-Thou Image

Political Sex Scandals Rock Modest Malaysia

Published: August 4, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Government censors in this majority Muslim nation have upheld an ethos of modesty by snipping sex scenes from films and banning entertainers from wearing outfits that reveal too much on Malaysian stages; bare belly buttons and figure-hugging outfits are off limits.

But these days Malaysians looking to avoid R-rated content might be advised to steer clear of news reports about their own leaders. Two top politicians are embroiled in scandal, one accused of sodomy and the other of romantic links to a Mongolian woman gruesomely killed in 2006.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, right, with his deputy, Najib Razak. Mr. Najib’s name has surfaced in connection with the case of a woman who was killed in 2006.

Reports on the finer points of a rectal examination and revelations about the sexual preferences of the dead woman make other sex scandals that once shocked people here — including Monica Lewinsky and her blue dress — seem almost Victorian.

This is not the first time that sex and politics have collided in Malaysia. In the 1990s, the sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, featured, among other highlights, a bloodstained mattress being hauled into the courtroom.

This time, wider use of the Internet has helped disseminate documents, facts and rumors that would otherwise have been filtered out of the mainstream news media that are tightly controlled by the government.

The scandals encompass much more than sex; each is a potential career-ender for a man vying to become Malaysia’s next prime minister, with control over a political patronage system that dominates the economy.

Mr. Anwar is now facing new accusations of sodomy — a crime punishable here by up to 20 years in prison — at a time when he is making strides toward unseating the governing coalition, which has run Malaysia since its independence from Britain 51 years ago. His principal political rival, Najib Razak, the deputy prime minister and anointed heir to the current prime minister, has been persistently linked to the slain Mongolian woman, despite his insistence that he never even met her. She was shot and her body obliterated with explosives in the jungle outside Kuala Lumpur.

The defendants in that case are a former political adviser to Mr. Najib and two commandos who were bodyguards for Malaysia’s top leaders.

Tampering is suspected in both cases. Testimony revealed that immigration records of the slain woman had been deleted. Witnesses have dropped from sight, including a private investigator, Balasubramaniam Perumal, who said in a sworn statement in early July that the Mongolian woman was Mr. Najib’s mistress. He retracted his allegations the next day in a hastily convened news conference, and then disappeared, along with his wife and three children. The family’s two Rottweilers were left behind in their cages.

“It’s obvious what has happened here,” said Americk Sidhu, the investigator’s lawyer. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. Somebody needed him to shut up.”

Mr. Balasubramaniam, who worked for the Najib adviser now on trial, Abdul Razak Baginda, spent two months writing and revising a 16-page declaration about the case, based on conversations he had with Mr. Abdul Razak and, before her death, with the woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Many of the most salacious facts and rumors about both cases have been funneled into the public realm by one prolific blogger, Raja Petra Kamarudin, formerly a political associate of Mr. Anwar’s wife.

Citing sources in military intelligence, he issued a sworn declaration in June alleging that Mr. Najib’s wife was present at Ms. Altantuya’s killing. Mr. Najib called it “total lies, fabrication and total garbage” and a “desperate and pathetic attempt to discredit and taint my political image.”

Mr. Raja Petra was also responsible for leaking a medical report relating to the sodomy case against Mr. Anwar. The accuser, a 23-year-old former campaign volunteer, went to a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur hours before lodging a police report charging that Mr. Anwar had sodomized him. The medical report said he complained of a piece of plastic being inserted into his anus. The doctor who wrote the report, Mohamed Osman, said he found no active bleeding, no pus, tear or scar.

Since then, Dr. Osman also has disappeared. The hospital says he will be back on Monday.

The government has charged Mr. Raja Petra with criminal libel, invoking a law that lawyers say has not been used in recent memory in Malaysia and that, unlike civil defamation, can carry a two-year prison term. He has also been charged with sedition, and his house has been raided several times.

Mr. Anwar, who announced Thursday that he would run for Parliament in his quest to become prime minister, said in an interview that he expected to be arrested soon.

He said he had refused to give a DNA sample because he believed that it would be used against him. “There’s nothing stopping them from fabricating evidence again,” Mr. Anwar said.

Although Malaysians enthusiastically share the latest developments in both cases, some have grown tired of the graphic details.

“A good word is disgust — whether it’s sodomy or blowing up the Mongolian lady,” said the Rev. Wong Kim Kong, executive adviser of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, a group of Protestant churches. A narrow majority of Malaysians are Muslim, but the country has sizable Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh minorities.

Mr. Wong said the constant barrage of accusations made by bloggers, paired with the government’s steady denials, had left Malaysians pining for clarity.

“People just cannot trust the word of any of these people,” Mr. Wong said. “They cannot distinguish who is telling the truth.”

The scandals come at a time of great political uncertainty in Malaysia. The governing coalition, and the ethnic-based system of politics that it represents, is in disarray. There is simmering resentment among the majority Malays and the minority Chinese and Indians, and corruption within the government is rampant, despite promises by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to clean up the system.

Mr. Anwar has vowed to remake the country’s politics and revoke the authoritarian laws that, among other things, ban students from protesting, keep the media controlled and allow the government to lock up dissidents without trial. But he remains a polarizing figure who is not trusted by many in the elite.

“I think there will at some point be a crisis of legitimacy,” said Ibrahim Suffian, the director of the Merdeka Center, a polling agency. “The leaders seem to feel that they can get away with a lot of things so long as the masses are satisfied with the economic opportunities given to them.

“But the economy is so bad that people are losing faith. There is a feeling that maybe it’s time for major changes.”

Friday, 1 August 2008

What We Think And What We Do

I find this very startling indeed.

That's a very large percentage of people admitting that they know something was amiss during the elections.

I hope it was reference to the reluctance on the part of the government to use indelible ink to ensure voter integrity, and then its sudden withdrawal over mere hearsay.

Otherwise, it's possible that Malaysians have come to accept this as a norm in national politics - "it happens, so what?"

And while the general public appears apathetic over the allegations of sodomy associated with Anwar Ibrahim, a very large number thinks it's politically motivated.

Like Malik Imtiaz asserted in his post, Rule By Law, it is evident that Malaysians don't believe in the Rule of Law anymore.

Even if Anwar Ibrahim were to be found guilty of sodomy, the court of public opinion would have acquitted him. Even if the Deputy Prime Minister were shown to be wholly unconnected with the events underlying the Altantuya murder trial, that court would have already found otherwise. It would not matter if all the police officers, prosecutors and judges in the country were to say otherwise or if all the untruths, one way or the other, were undone. Malaysians, or at least a very large number of them, have lost faith in the system.

It didn't happen in one day.

It was a long journey, and through inaction, we found ourselves travelling that road.