Sunday, 30 November 2008

Seaplane In Sydney

The seaplane at the Barrenjoey Boathouse at Palm Beach.

If I'm not mistaken, it's a deHavilland amphibious Beaver.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Friendly Reminder

It's relatively easy to recognise an Asian-owned store in Australia. Every square inch of space is occupied with items for sale except for the token space necessary for customers to walk.

The Hot Dollar shop in Eastwood was no exception.

You obviously got your money's worth here.

But a good bargain always attracts the menagerie. And sometimes they have dirty hands.

So Hot Dollar is compelled to put out a sign in impeccable English as a friendly reminder to ...

... actually, I have really no idea what it means.

Possibly, "Do not open".

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Beach Bum

I met her at Shelly Beach, in Manly.

She'd just laid her eggs and was burying them in the sand. Of course, I didn't want to get too near just in case she took offense at the intrusion of her privacy.

With legs like that, I reckon she could run pretty fast.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Kiama Blowhole

It looks like an ordinary hole in the rocks by the sea.

But it's no ordinary hole. It's a blowhole, and possibly the world's largest one. It can be found in an otherwise sleepy little village of Kiama in New South Wales.

It channels water from the treacherous and fearsome sea, spraying it up to 25 metres into the air.

It all happens when waves enter the mouth of the cave and the pressure within the cave chamber funnels it all up. Way up into the sky.

No small feat indeed.

Getting too close can be dangerous. Especially during stormy weather conditions.

It was awesome.

Malaysians may be forgiven for thinking there are no blowholes in their land.

Geographically, it may be true.

Politically, blowholes remind me of Barisan Nasional in particular, whose politicians - under pressure - make sky-high promises that never materialise into anything.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Irene Fernandez Acquitted

I've been reading a lot of depressing news about Malaysia.

How yoga is banned, and how homosexuals are a shame. About those 7 individuals arrested at an anti-ISA rally. And some.

But I was happy to get some really good news today. Irene Fernandez was acquitted of the politically motivated charge of “maliciously publishing false news”.

Now if you have two brain cells to rub together, you'd know that the Malaysian government does treat its migrants in an inhumane and sadistic manner. Tenaganita is not the only one documenting such treatment.

Human Rights Watch does too.

Of course, her acquittal does NOT mean the Malaysian government has decided to come to its senses. Far from it.

Prosecutor Shamsul Sulaiman said the prosecution decided not to oppose the appeal because typed records from earlier court proceedings contained "systemic errors."

The errors occurred when a court official typed up the judge's handwritten notes, Shamsul said. He told the AP he would have been "quite confident of fighting the appeal" had the records been in order.

I wonder if they know exactly how stupid they sound when they say that.

But there's an idiot born everyday, and I suppose there's one who would believe it hook, line and sinker. And of course, one who would spout it.

We Need Bicycle Lanes Too

An Indonesian ex-colleague of mine once mentioned in passing that we Malaysians expect to be dropped off at the doorstep of our destination. That's why we drive everywhere in our prized little cars.

It's true.

I realise a portion of Malaysians dislike walking and thus sweating (God forbid we release a drop of fluid from our glands!!). But another portion dislikes dying.

And yes, given our lack of proper facilities (like sidewalks and bridges) for pedestrians, we could easily get run over by a truck or bus, you know, and die!

But you know what I really like about Australia?

They have special lanes for their cyclists - even on the highway!

They encourage people to use renewable energy (calories) instead of non-renewable forms of energy like petrol. This is a country that is sincere in its efforts to go green.

Now when do you expect to see that in Malaysia?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Australian Idol At Opera House

I've never been a big fan of singing - either good, bad or horrendous.

Even less a fan of reality shows.

Much less, any of the Idol shows.

But when I was at the Opera House on Saturday, I caught them rehearsing for the grand finale which was scheduled for Sunday at 7.30pm.

Sunday happened to be one of the coldest days since the winter. I don't know how the spectators survived it but they did. Wes Carr won it, in case you're wondering who did.

It was actually quite intriguing watching all that happen live.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

On The Sydney Harbour Bridge

I can't remember how many times I've seen the Sydney harbour bridge on TV or magazines.

I've always thought it was lovely, but there's something awe-inspiring about actually driving on the bridge and watching the steel arches pass by.

The damn thing was opened up for use in 1932 and it is still the world's widest long-span bridge. After all those years.

You'd have thought some Malaysia-Boleh type on a testosterone overdose would have tried to up that with the Penang bridge or the Singapore causeway. Evidently not.

Apparently, the bridge is a hotspot for fireworks during New Year celebrations. Crying shame I'd be home long before that.

It would be a spectacular sight to behold.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Australian Inventions

Before I set foot in Australia, I was under the impression that the general population consisted of the descendants of a bunch of convicts, whose creativity was limited to stealing a loaf of bread.

Or along those lines.

Considering they got caught doing it and were thus banished to the bizarre island called Australia (and you have no idea how bizarre), they couldn't have been all that innovative or creative, I reckoned.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Hill's Hoist.

Now it looks like a simple, unassuming invention, but that's exactly what's brilliant about it!

Apart from having rotary arms (which means it moves with the wind and thus, clothes dry faster) it also has a pinion winding mechanism (which means it can be raised and lowered).

If your dog is fond of chewing up your freshly washed clothes, the Hill's Hoist will have it looking mournfully at the washing from a distance.

And the Australians are not limited to merely erecting clothes lines. Among their other inventions is the Esky, the portable insulated cooler which keeps drinks cool at the picnic.

If you're Malaysian, you'd know what a valuable invention that is - especially when your throat is parched after a marathon search for the perfect (but elusive - especially on a public holiday) picnic spot with no ants, flies or bird poo.

I'm sure there's a longer list than this, but here are some of Australia's greatest inventions.

The Classic Australian Icon

Coogee Beach

It's a lovely beach, very windy with huge waves crashing onto the sand.

Frankly, it did have a celebrity flavour to it, but the super-famous ones apparently can be found at the northern beaches like Newport and Palm Beach.

I was more stunned at the amount we had to pay for parking though. It was AUD1.00 for just 20 minutes.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Australian Dailies

Forgive me for thinking I was someplace in Asia.

The newspapers were found in Eastwood, a notably Asian suburb of New South Wales.

No dogs, cats or possums were sighted though.

Strange Creatures In Australia - Spiders

Now if you know me well enough, it's no secret that I like dangerous creatures. :) So of course I have to go snooping around for them, even in Australia!

This particular spider is called the St Andrew's Cross and I ran into it (not literally, though) by accident in Tim's backyard.

It chose to pointedly ignore us while Tim snapped various close-up pictures of it and its rather unusual zig-zag crossed web.

I wasn't the least bit offended. Tim said it hurts like a bitch if it bites you, and travelling without medical insurance, I thought it wise to stay clear. The St Andrew's Cross can ignore me anyday if it wants to - I really don't mind.

Of course, that's probably nothing compared to the infamous Australian funnel-web, which is indigenous to the Sydney area.

The funnel-web is one of the most poisonous spiders in the world. It usually makes an appearance when the rain washes it out of its funnel-shaped web on the ground.

It then woefully decides to find a new home in people's shoes but unapologetically injects a potent dose of venom when agitated. I expect it wouldn't be too anxious to share its personal and private space with some toes.

I have since been faithfully knocking out my shoes every morning - before putting them on - in anticipation (or not) of one.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

We Stick Together

I'm still angry.

And because I am, it's probably not wise for me to say much.

Frankly, I don't think it is possible for me to properly understand how low the government can stoop. Because each time they do something so spectacularly stupid, they manage to outdo themselves the next time.

Take the arrest of Paula Khoo for instance.

Only the week before, the government sent in their running dogs, the police to brutalise a peaceful crowd while they were singing the national anthem.

This only goes to show how much respect the government has for the nation it is supposedly entrusted to govern. I certainly have no part for them being in Putrajaya, so I make no apologies.

Of course, in the aftermath of their shenanigans, the modus operandi is to deny everything, including their heavy-handed actions, in spite of the fact that there was clear evidence of it.

Like I said, there are no limits for low.

Low, I recently have discovered, is relative. Especially when it is in reference to the BN government. I once thought ankle height was low.

Evidently not. Then I thought the sole of one's feet was low.

Perhaps I could be kind. I could say that the BN government only stoops as low as the dust that settled under the fungus that infests the maggot that has crawled under the turd that was dropped by a sick animal, right before it keeled over and croaked.

Perhaps I could describe my relationship with the BN government. You could just imagine my disgust if I'd just stepped on the aforementioned turd - that's precisely the contempt I feel.

And why not?

That's not a government ruling our nation; it's a freaking side show!

You don't quietly go and bundle up the organiser of a peaceful demonstration and take her to the police station.

That's cowardice of the highest order, you fools!

But forget the police and their masters. To devote even a single braincell to their memory would be sheer waste.

Let's talk about Paula. I brought Paula to her first candlelight vigil opposite Amcorp Mall, PJ. It was incidentally the first time I was meeting her, but we hit it off immediately.

Now I'm passionate about my country and about making change happen. But while I attended the candlelight vigils (albeit faithfully) and blogged about it, Paula is a woman of action.

She was not merely an observer, she took charge and organised the Penang event at the Esplanade. I would have attended, were I not abroad, purely to support her.

Well, if the truth be told, I was planning to bum a night over at her place and catch some Penang food with her since she's a native. Don't say it, I know I take shameless liberties. But since she was planning to match-make me with someone - less than 2 minutes after we met in person - I'd say I have a right to. ;-)

The space on my fourth finger is, thankfully, still vacant (only because she went back to Penang), but like I said, Paula is a woman of action - while I am passive, Paula is active.

I am proud to be a friend of Paula. But I'm not in Malaysia at the moment and won't be until next month, and while I would dearly love to be with her on November 28, I can't.

If you can, please do so on my behalf. Not purely for me, but for Paula and for the country. We all need you.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Does Malaysia Have a Newly Independent Judiciary?

The decision Friday by High Court Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad to free the Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the editor of the internet publication Malaysia Today, has kicked off an intense round of speculation in Malaysia that the courts might be breaking loose from the thrall of the United Malays National Organisation, the country’s biggest ethnic political party.

Are the courts free of UMNO's grasp? What do you think? Read more to decide if you agree or disagree.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Government Of Abuse And Misuse

My sentiments, exactly, about the Internal Security Act or ISA.

If a government had to resort to a detention without trial in order to "protect the country from a security threat" caused by all but ONE person, then that government does not deserve to govern.

It was a blatant abuse and misuse of power. An abuse which was reflective of the government's inability - or unwillingness? - to engage the people in connection with every grievance which the people had.

An abuse which was reflective of a governmental mindset that did not respect criticisms; did not listen to the voice of its own soul, ie, the people which it sets out to govern; did not give 2 sen to the people's rights and freedom.

An abuse which was vile. And depraved.

- Art Harun on RPK's arrest


RPK has been freed, but we must always remain vigilant.

More atrocities will be committed on the citizens, by brutally assaulting peaceful crowds and arresting to intimidate.

It is not over yet - far from it, but we will fight the fight and restore our country to its past semblance of glory.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

'Confused' Is The Right Word

It can be frustrating to live with confused people. I know how it feels.

Bernice Chauly: Her love-hate conundrum with Malaysia

by Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Ubud, Bali

Malaysian multi-talented artist Bernice Chauly loathes and loves her country at the same time. She says she loves her home country but she is also toying with the idea of moving to Bali.

In Ubud, Bali, she told The Jakarta Post: "I thought of moving to Bali. But it's not that easy. It would need a leap of faith." She was in the Island of the Gods for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival last month.

Being a single mother of two daughters, her children come first when considering moving to another country.

"It's an exciting time (being in Malaysia). It's a really frustrating time as well. I'm not going to leave. If I leave it must be for a good reason. I love my country, it's my home," she said while sitting in an antique wooden Balinese chair in one of Ubud's resorts.

She looked beautiful in a simple elegant black tunic dress. She wore thick-rimmed glasses that gave her a slightly nerdy character, her straight, long black hair tied behind her head.

This year she published her second collection of poems, The Book of Sins, independently. Her first one, Going There and Coming Back, was published in 1997.

Chauly is an actor, filmmaker, photographer, writer, lecturer but foremost a poet. She is also one of the many Kuala Lumpur-based talented artists struggling to create works of art in an unsupportive atmosphere under an authoritarian government.

Malaysia has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world. The authorities exert substantial control over the media and can impose restrictions in the name of national security.

"I have a love-hate relationship with my country. It's a great country but I think our politicians are running it into the ground and creating a lot of stress and turmoil for people such as myself who want to continue to live, work and create (works of art) in Malaysia. But it's becoming really really hard, because you have a sense of frustration that things are just not going to get better," she said.

"The situation in Malaysia is very bad, very uncertain. There's no bloodshed but it's brewing. All it would take is one small stupid incident to ignite some sort of riot. A lot of racial tension has been building since the election.

"I don't want to sound like a prophet of doom, but things are really really bad. I'm really worried about the future of Malaysia. It's very worrying and I think people are trying to downplay it as much as they can."

Malaysian politics have been in turmoil this year. The March election shook five decades of status quo with voters shifting from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition parties to opposition parties.

Meanwhile, racial tensions have caused minority groups in the multiethnic and multireligious country to rally against discrimination. Ethnic Malays comprise some 60 percent of the population. The Chinese constitute around 26 percent, while Indians and other nationalities make up the rest.

In November last year about 5,000 ethnic Indians held a rare rally organized by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf); a larger one with some 10,000 protesters occurred in Febr. 2008. The Malaysian government banned Hindraf in mid-October. The state also jailed vocal anti-government blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin in September.

The authoritarian quality of the rulers has made some artists leave the country.

"A lot of people are leaving. A lot of artists, a lot of people with great talent in this country, because they don't want to live under that (repression)," she said.

For others who have stayed, they must find creative ways to produce art that, at the same time, does not betray their idealism.

For Chauly, it is by using English. She uses English in her daily life. Her poems and prose are mostly in English, with one or two written in Malay.

Born from a Punjabi father and a Chinese mother, English is her first language. But that is not the only reason she uses the language. According to her, writing in English in Malaysia is somewhat safer.

"Just in terms of the ratio, English-speaking Malaysians and English-reading Malaysians are a very small minority. When you write in Malay you're appealing to a very large cross section of Malaysian society and if you're saying something that is subversive and politically offensive or slightly provocative then you're in trouble. And the police will investigate you.

"But if you write in English, you know (that) they don't really care. As long as it's not too offensive and it's not too overtly political and provocative, it's actually still OK. It's allowed."

She said that her book, The Book of Sins was not subversive in a political way but that it was too personal. "Too personal can be very subversive. You don't talk about yourself in Malaysia. My poems are very, very personal, almost to the point of being subversive."

The Book of Sins deals with issues of relationships, love, identity and motherhood.

She is currently writing a memoir she began 20 years ago, which will take shape in different genres. "It can be a play. It can be a novel. A series of a memoir. A series of vignettes. But it's one complete family story."

Chauly said that her memoir was an attempt to voice her complexity. Her late father was born Hindu and her late mother Buddhist. They raised her a Catholic.

"I'm Malaysian but I'm not Malay. I'm Muslim by virtue of conversion for my ex-husband. It's really complicated. Now that I'm divorced I still have to remain a Muslim. If I want to marry again, I have to marry a Muslim. It's a very strange situation."

She said that her memoir-in-progress was also an attempt to address a certain sense of place.

That is "because Malaysians are very confused".

Monday, 10 November 2008

FRU In Action

Check out what the IGP has to say about why the crime rate in this country is rising:

The IGP said it saddened him when politicians, who represent the welfare and voice of the people, were sometimes the same people who incited hatred and discord among people.

“Some of these politicians cry about human rights but when they encourage people to break the law, they say it is within their rights to do so.

“They hold illegal gatherings and demonstrations which force us to deploy our personnel to maintain peace and order,” he added.

In 1998, during the height of the reformasi demonstrations, the crime index peaked at 772 per 100,000 population, but that year, the population was only 20 million (total cases were 158,808.)

The high crime rate recorded in 2007 can be attributed to the number of demonstrations organised by political parties and NGOs, including the Hindu Rights Action Force and election watchdog Bersih.

These cowards can't do their bloody jobs, for the love of God!! If I read any further, I might blow a blood vessel.

They arrest such peaceful protestors whose only "crime" was to sing the national anthem. Check out this video for evidence.

But of course, there's a denial to go with it:

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has denied that the police moved in on participants at a candle-light vigil last night while they were singing the national anthem.

“That is what they (participants) are claiming,” Khalid told reporters at the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters about midnight.

When told that there was a video recording of the police action, Khalid replied: “I am denying it.”

They deny in the face of evidence.

Reminds me of Shaggy's It Wasn't Me!.

Police Brutalise Peaceful Crowd

I wasn't able to attend last night's vigil, and judging from reports, it was completely different from the handful of others that I'd faithfully showed up for.

It was meant to be a huge commemoration of last year's BERSIH rally, the very start of the snowball effect which led to the March 8 election outcome. The ruling coalition, BN had never been thrashed so badly.

So the cops were sent in to do their evil deed. It was a remarkably peaceful gathering, an exercise of our right to express ourselves as stated in the Constitution.

But they assaulted the innocent women and children. Hit them, punched them, kicked them. Arrested 24 people, including state assemblymen and parliamentarians who belonged to the Opposition.

Masterwordsmith asks, "Does democracy still exist in Malaysia??" Frankly, I offered my condolences to the good people of Malaysia over the death of freedom and democracy a long time ago.

What intrigues me is the question of, "Why?"

Michelle Yoon is obviously an intelligent young thinker, as she ponders on why the FRUs were there:

What gets to me, and what I seriously don’t understand, is why there were FRUs at the vigil last night. These vigils have been happening every weekend, all around the country, for more than a month now. And not ONCE in ANY of these vigils, did we even have a slight problem. No FRUs, no arrests, all was well and fine.

What is so different about THIS vigil, that the police felt the need to block access to Amcorp Mall from as early as 7pm? What happened during THIS vigil, that the police felt the need to arrest certain people?

Could it be because RPK has been released?

Or maybe because BERSIH was one of the organisers for THIS vigil, and so there was a problem?

I thought about it for awhile too.

And I'm wondering if the key to it is racial. Most of our protests before have been predominantly Chinese and Indian. But with BERSIH, a huge number of Malays were involved as well.

I, for one, remember last year's rally. I had not expected that many Malays to come together with their Chinese and Indian brothers and sisters in a united move, calling for free and fair elections.

Now the government does not want to lose the Malay vote, which is crucial to them. Of course, by brutalising a peaceful crowd, it may have achieved just the opposite.

Ah well. Can't say we don't know much about our Bapak Demokrasi.

Other bloggers:
Police Charged into Malaysians Singing National Anthem - Wong Chin Huat
Rakyat Pearl Harbored by BN/UMNO Police !!! - Margeemar
Anti ISA Vigil at PJ being intruded by FRU! - Jarod
Pandemonium erupts as police charge into crowd - Anil Netto
Cops storm and brutalise peaceful, unarmed, Negaraku singing crowd - Nathaniel Tan
Bloody Sunday - Euphoria in Misery
The Bloody Sunday - Melvin Mah

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Remembering BERSIH

A fellow blogger once described it as the perfect storm. It was the pioneer rally, asking the government for free and fair elections:

- The use of indelible ink to prevent double-voting;
- Clean-up of the electoral roll;
- The abolishment of postal votes;
- Equal and fair access to national media.

It was also the first time most Malaysians realised what our government was really like and how heavy-handed against those who oppose them in any way.

A year later, we celebrate it.

We didn't get what we asked for, but along the way, we formed a stronger Opposition and have matured politically.

We will take back what is ours one day. But on Sunday, we will celebrate.

RPK Released From Jail

The bad-ass blogger is out. :)

After all those weekends, standing in the rain for our candlelight vigils, thronging the courtrooms til noon and wearing to death my safron 'FREE RPK' t-shirt, the man has finally been released.


Of course, I'm still stunned that the Shah Alam High Court actually ruled that RPK's detention was illegal. Evidently, not all the courts in Malaysia are kangaroo courts.

I got an sms saying, "Court orders RPK b released by 4pm today!"

Frankly, I was incredulous. "Under sedition or ISA charges?" I asked.

"Isa," came the reply. It made me ecstatic!

What more RPK, who is high in spirits and appears to be unbreakable.

Here's to wishing him the best and hoping he got to test out his theory of eating dates on a pussy that isn't a mangy cat. :)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Two Spectacular Idiots

Frighteningly moronic.

One tells Zaid to apologise.

Now this idiot's stupidity has been established, and some of us have been encouraging Zorro not to hold back too much on expressing exactly how he feels about Botak.

Holding back is not good for health, and we want Zorro to live long because The Wharf would be really quiet without him.

But I digress.

Back to the tale of our idiots, the other asks Zaid to get out of Malay grouping, as if race is an option you and I get to choose.

"Zaid should repent. Otherwise, he should get out of the ’rumpun Melayu’ (Malay grouping)," Shahidan Kassim brayed loudly, much to the pleasure and approval of the other donkeys.

Curious to know who this dingbat is? He's been featured before, not merely for talking like a fool, but for acting like one. Check him out in all his glory.

He said if Zaid continued to question the Malay supremacy concept, then he should no longer be a Malay because as a Malay he should be defending the Malays and not running them down.

That's precisely why the Malays are such a regressive lot. They have allowed certain quarters to dictate what they can or cannot speak about.

No matter how stupid an argument or concept may seem, and no matter how failed it may be, it should be championed merely because one Malay heralds it as the saviour of the entire Malay race.

UMNO politicians have superior skills when it comes to flogging a dead horse, and renouncing anyone who does not blindly follow.

And so the Malays collectively dive like lemmings off the cliff.

Though I must say, there are the exceptions and thankfully, Zaid Ibrahim is not alone.

Aisehman has long been an anonymous critic of the Ketuanan Melayu concept. Unfortunately, he's just about had enough and thrown in the towel.

We also have Farish Noor, Bakri Musa and Azly Rahman, who have on various occasions, spoken against this flawed logic of superiority while feeling inferior, which is more popularly known as Ketuanan Melayu.

Both Azhar Azizan Harun and Malik Imtiaz Sarwar have their respective takes on this issue.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

If The World Could Vote

Make no mistake about this. I'm Malaysian - born, bred and possibly soon-to-be displaced.

And being Malaysian, an inherent trait we are all known for is being busybody. We can't help ourselves. Really.

Besides, when we *do* register and vote in our very own General Elections, we're flooded with issues pertaining to fraud like indelible ink, postal votes and of course, gerrymandering.

But wonder of wonders, there is salvation!!

Yeah baby. In the form of internet voting, where there's presumably a lower potential for fraud (considering the vote does not make an impact).

It makes you wonder what would happen, if the world could vote?

In a situation like that, how could you not click on that link and make your stand or your views known?

Especially if you're Malaysian.

I know those fingers are twitching. You know you can't resist. Click on that link. Choose your candidate and vote.

And welcome to the dark side. :)

Race And Islam

By Farish Noor

It is odd, to say the least, that after more than 14 centuries there remain some people who claim to be Muslims but have not internalised the universal values of Islam. Odder still there remain those who on the one hand can embrace Islam’s universal claim of brotherhood (and sisterhood) but still cannot get around to understanding the simple idea that Islam and racism do not mix.

Evidence of such discrepancies can be found pretty much everywhere these days. It has, sadly, become the normative cultural norm in so many Muslim societies today that those who are fair are better off and given the privileges that they feel is the natural right of all light-skinned people. It is also interesting to note that Muslims tend to rejoice whenever a white American or European converts to Islam, but seem less enthusiastic in their recognition of the fact that thousands of Africans and Asians are converting to Islam every year.

Furthermore when it comes to governance and politics, it remains painfully clear that some Muslims still place blood and race above competency and merit till today; and that despite their profession of faith they remain embedded in the stagnant mode of racialized thinking that operates on the basis that some races are better than others.

Read more.

Saturday, 1 November 2008