Wednesday, May 31, 2006

East Timor - Misinterpretation, Mistake & Missing Files!

The crisis in East Timor is not just between government and rebel troops, but also between President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

President Gusmao had to step in to assume power in a hope that his popularity could calm the situation, knowing full well that rebel troops are against the PM. But Alkatiri didn’t want to submit to his authority.

Observers said Gusmao’s assumption of emergency powers without declaring a formal state of emergency (I thought he had?) was seen as isolating Alkatiri, whose handling of the affair has been utterly pathetic and heavily criticised in East Timor and abroad.

Today, Alkatiri insisted both men will share that power. He told Aussie media that they had misinterpreted Gusmao's statement from Portuguese into English:

"You are wrong, completely wrong, he is not taking control. The defence and security is still part of the government, and I am the head of the government. Now, together we are going to work together to stabilise the country."

Constitutionally Alkatiri as the PM indeed has executive powers but President Gusmao with the backing of the State Council has taken over power from Alkatiri's government for 30 days.

Brigadier Michael Slater, the head of Australia's forces in East Timor said that President Xanana Gusmao has greater authority on matters of security than the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri

He stated: "I work in conjunction with both of them, the President is the supreme commander and he is doing that job in conjunction with a number of people including the Prime Minister."

But he hastened to add that neither man has any authority over Australian forces. "They don't have any authority over the international forces. They only have that authority over the Timorese police and army."

But what President Gusmao has done was not enough to satisfy the rebel troops. Major Alfredo Reinado, the rebel leader, told AFP by mobile phone that Gusmao taking over was not good enough because it did not involve sacking the prime minister. According to him, Gusmao made a serious mistake. He said:

"This is not a solution, he [Alkatiri] is a criminal and should not be allow to stay as prime minister. That is the mistake that the president has made."

In the meanwhile, call it what you will – coincidence or staged raid – the office of the East Timorese attorney-general has been broken into by 'rioters', not for valuables but for certain files pertaining to Indonesian military’s crimes against humanity when the nation was part of Indonesia.

15% of the files have disappeared. By some strange quirk of ‘coincidence’ those 15% were files on very senior Indonesian military officers. The ability to prosecute them has plummeted to zero. What a fortuitous turn of events for those alleged criminals.

Related: East Timor - President Gusmao takes over

IGP worried, PM wishy-washy, PAS whoring?

I wrote a letter to Malaysiakini titled IPCMC: Pak Lah must strike now yesterday because I was surprised to note that no other Malaysiakini reader or even opposition personalities had raised the unbelievably shocking position taken by the Royal Malaysian Police.

The DAP did in some ways, but missed the disgraceful admittance of the police that it had been supporting and still wants to, the Barisan Nasional (BN), provided the BN rejects the IPCMC. The DAP's argument has been more about the police opposition to the IPCMC per se.

Well, the IGP has been hopping mad that when he found out his and other senior police officers' hardline and arrogant positions vis-a-vis the IPCMC in a report he had approved for internal circulation had been posted on the police website. Or so as it had been claimed (that he was red-faced about the posting).

Two things!

One - He might have denied he had given consent for it to be placed on the website, but can anyone believe that such a confrontational feral stand by the police force, unprecedented in our nation or for that matter, any democracy, could be put up on its website without a big OK by the top brass?

Mohd Bakri Omar, the IGP,
postured: "I want to know who put it up" and when suggested that he had been the one who gave the consent, said: "What? That is a wild allegation."

Maybe he had read of my instigation to have him immediately sacked ;-) but lo and behold, night before last the posting had quickly been removed from the police website. And to add drama (or credibility) to the disgraceful, disrespectful and disturbing admission cum threat by the police, the police webmaster did not turn up for work day before yesterday, supposedly for fear of being reprimanded. Or is it a sandiwara (theatrics) to convince the PM that he had been the culprit (or nominated scapegoat)?

The police spin now is that the posting had been a blunder, caused by miscommunication between federal police public relations officer Superintendent Mohamad Daud, who is also the chief editor for the publication, and the webmaster.

Mohamad said that the special publication was for internal circulation and not for the public. It has been revealed that the IGP had consented to the publication of the report but the police now claim he only wanted the booklet distributed among police personnel.

Yeah, right!

Two – it doesn’t matter whether the report in the police bulletin had been for internal circulation. It was still a threat cum admission of unprecedented dimension, that of a supposedly impartial public service body admitting to biased action in support of a political party, and threatening the master it serves to discard the IPCMC as a quid pro quo.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng
criticised the police threats of its work-to-rule and en bloc resignation consequences if the IPCMC is established:

“By threatening to allow crime to rise is utterly irresponsible and a complete surrender of the moral and legal authority of the police."

“Those who can even entertain allowing crime to rise and put property and public safety at risk as a mark of protest should either resign or be sacked for such selfish and anti-national interests attitude.”

“Abdullah must act quickly to regain the initiative over his agenda of anti-corruption, transparency, accountability and good governance by ending the open police ‘revolt’ so as to regain control of the police force.”

Meanwhile his dad Lim Kit Siang noted PAS’ evasive stand in relation to the IPCMC. He asked PAS:
“Is PAS for or against it?”

Lim Senior mentioned the police unprecedented threat to support the opposition in the 2009 general election. He asked of PAS:

“The question is, which opposition would the police throw their votes in support if the IPCMC is set up, if all opposition parties are clear and categorical in their support for the IPCMC?”

“Is this the reason why recently, PAS’ stand on the IPCMC seemed to have become quite wobbly in the hope of benefitting from a police swing against the PM, Barisan Nasional and UMNO over the issue?”

Lim said all opposition parties, PAS in particular, must take a clear and unequivocal stand on the issue and stop the police from becoming a feral force. He said political parties must hold the police beyond accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance principles.

Contacted today, PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa evaded the issue by declining to comment except to promise a response later after referring to party officials. Why can't he, a deputy president of a party that claims to be for justice and godly rule, say something that's quite clear as to good governance, that the IPCMC must be established?

Looks like PAS is not above prostituting its principles in the hope of police support in 2009. What a whore! What a harlot!

As I wrote in my letter to Malaysiakini, the police arrogance may yet turn into a blessing in disguise for an increasingly unpopular PM Abdullah Badawi. It's ironical that he has been presented with a God-sent opportunity to redeem himself.

If he tames the feral Malaysian police force by immediately sacking the IGP and the top layer of police officers, he could well be another Truman or Sadat - dull 'deputies' who took over from flashy flamboyant predecessors, but who by a fate of history became world or outstanding national leaders in their own rights.

Fate indeed has presented Abdullah Badawi with this crucial moment in his career. Will he seize this momentous opportunity gratefully? I fear not!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

East Timor - President Gusmao takes over

It’s just been announced that East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao has declared a state of emergency and taken sole command of the armed forces and internal security.

The very popular and revered leader Gusmao had been suffering from a serious back injury for days and had difficulty coming out to play a greater role in stopping the rioting. But he spent two days in discussion with the country's Council of State at the presidential palace. Observers said PM Mari Alkatiri had refused to resign, causing a no-win situation. The East Timorese detest Alkatiri.

But the crisis has forced President Gusmao into seizing emergency power and restricting that of the PM, to assume the reins of the nation, something he had been loathed to do. He said the state of emergency will last for 30 days. PM Alkatiri will remain in office but with severely curtailed powers.

During the state of emergency Gusmao has decreed that the authorities including foreign forces would have the power to stop large gatherings of people, demand identity papers, carry out surveillance and seize weapons, ammunition and explosives. The President has even threatened more severe measures if things do not improve.

Earlier, the East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta suggested that some of the country's politicians will resign in the aftermath of this week's violence. He is obviously hinting to Alkatiri, but the PM has strong support among Fretilin, the former guerrilla force that fought the Indonesians for years.

MCA - Can Fat Cats be Nice Tabby's?

Ong Ka Ting, president of the MCA informed us he has put his money where his mouth is – namely, in his party’s policy of limiting MCA MPs, ministers and state executive councillors to a max of three terms, he himself will relinquish his post in 2012. He's of course assuming he won't be deposed by an ambitious MCA dark horse, which the MCA historically has plenty of.

His philosophy towards the 3-term max policy is based on a leader being able to implement everything he has planned within that time. He said:

“I will relinquish my post in 2012 even if I enjoy strong support. This is because I believe if one cannot fulfil one’s plans in a limited time one will still not be able to do it even if given him more time.”

“This is why I limited the term of MPs, ministers and state executive councillors from the MCA. I have even limited the president's term, and I myself will be affected.”

star online photo - can anyone spot a non-Datuk?

He said this would also go towards creating a healthy political environment in the party. What he means in simple layman-speak is to give others an opportunity to go up the party’s ladder and thence to ministerial and state councillors’ appointments. Spread the goodies around, so to speak.

He said this in his speech at the party 57th anniversary dinner organised by Malacca MCA on Sunday.

Much as I hate to admit, being one who hasn’t been favourable to the MCA because I think they are a party of fat cats, I must say that since he became party president, Ong KT hasn’t yet put a major foot wrong. Yes, one could pick points on him but in general he has been very careful to tread carefully to stay fairly non controversial.

When he was selected by Ling to be his successor, notwithstanding party elections and all that, I actually squirmed at this intellectual lightweight, whom I have been led to believe doesn’t even have a good command of Bahasa (Malay language).

Akal kurang, cakap ta’boleh – banyak susah loooooh!*

* intellectually lacking, with poor command of the Malay language, is mucho problem for a president of the MCA

Having watch him for a while to see whether he would stumble, I have been pleasantly surprised to note he moved or acted with great prudence. And his policies have been fairly good and solid.

One of his plans that I actually like has been his Lifelong Learning Campaign, and with that, revitalising education and Chinese-language education. I support all mother-tongue language programmes just as much as I support the promotion of the Jawi script.

Ong’s other policies are economic competitiveness, development and promotion of culture, new-village development, creating a just and caring society, and creating ‘Rakyat Malaysia’, the last could be a Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian race) by stealth.

Ong said all the nice and right words about the MCA having a role and responsibility to play, and that it would not be able to carry out its duties effectively without the support of the Chinese community. Rightly so, especially after its 1969 bashing at the hands of the Gerakan, DAP and PPP, the MCA hasn’t quite regained the complete trust of the Chinese community.

He urged “So let us all work together to take our community and country to greater heights.”

I want to be fair to him and thus am reminded the MCA has been the political party that obtained citizenship for the older generation Chinese, people like my granddad, so in truth the Chinese do owe the MCA something.

But not yet, Mr Ong Ka Ting!

We want to see the MCA diverse itself of the majority of its many Chinese language newspapers your party controls, and the purging of corruption from your party leadership until I won’t consider you MCA blokes as fat cats. So keep working on these.

Islamic Scholar: "Stop F**king Around with Marriages!"

Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas – now, here’s an Islamic scholar who knows his stuff and penetrates through all the bullshit about what has been bandied around the misyar form of marriage.

The misyar marriage was first proposed by Universiti Malaya’s Islamic Studies Academy lecturer Prof Mahmud Zuhdi Abdul Majid as a way to overcome incidences of vice among Muslim women and could also help to reduce the incidents of divorces and unmarried women. Misyar marriages require the husbands to provide for the sexual needs of the wives but exempt the men from the responsibility of seeing to the ladies’ material needs.

It was supported by PAS spiritual leader but opposed by the DPM’s wife who said she wasn’t prepared to share her husband with anyone.

Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, who is the director-general of the Malaysian Institute of Islamic Understanding, said he was disturbed by the debates, which largely touched on the issues of sex and lust.

What did I tell you about this bloke, eh? As I said, he penetrated through the sex bullshit and lust fantasy, which if I may confess, I personally indulge in. But surely marriage, especially religious-related type, is not something to be proposed as a solution to sex and lust.

This man is great. He said succinctly: “We have to ask if the problem relates to Muslim women finding it hard to get married or the women choosing to be single? Then only can we start looking for solutions.”

“We have many unresolved issues affecting Muslims that we need to take care of, such as increasing divorce rates, truancy in schools and universities and girls excelling over boys in their studies.”

Doctor, I salute you for your prioritisation. It's high time people stop f**king (excuse the pun) around with unimportant issues.

Dr Syed Ali said Islam advocated justice and responsibility in marriage, therefore men intending to marry must give an undertaking that they were honest, responsible and able to give just treatment to their wife and her family, and not just go into holy union just for an opportunity at free bonking.

He said marriages should be encouraged rather than forced. That would help in the continuity of humankind and extension of knowledge from one generation to another. He was peeved: “I don’t understand why Muslims now are bringing up matters that are trivial and which only serve to bring confusion and worries to society.”

He brushed aside the misyar issue as just a fuss over a religious matter, saying that further debates on it would serve to only fuel more confusion about the purpose of marriage, adding authoritatively that the issue was not prevalent in the times of Prophet Muhammad.


Abdullah Badawi criticised USA

I have to admit that after a lousy long-ish honeymoon period, I am no longer prepared to give PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (AAB) any more benefits of the doubt. Then, just as I am about to write him off, he comes along and show his resolute in his Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), where once giants such as Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia, Zhou Enlai of China), Gamal Abdul-Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and many others led the way.

AAB said, in criticism of the US campaign to demonise and marginalise Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, there should be one set of rules for everybody:

"Allowing Israel to develop nuclear weapons with impunity - which it does not deny - while others in the region are prohibited from doing so, is a blatant case of double standards."

"It has created a destabilising asymmetry in a volatile part of the world. We must recognise Iran's right to develop such technology for peaceful purposes."

AAB also called for an immediate resolution to the Palestinian crisis, describing it as one of the most profound tragedies of our time. And I support that description. The USA has a lot to answer for mollycoddling Israel in its expansionism and brutalities.

AAB said the so-called peace process is now a bit of a joke, no thanks to the US one-sided perception. He called for an end to US-led sanctions and warned what everyone knows, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not end until the rights of the Palestinian people were recognised.

As a start, AAB called for recognition of the Hamas government and said that it "must be engaged through contacts and dialogue, not shunned or ostracised and sanctioned."

Monday, May 29, 2006

Silence of the Damned

This has been what Amnesty International said about the FRU's brutalities:

Amnesty International condemns the alleged excessive use of force by the police when dispersing a peaceful demonstration held at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre yesterday.

The right to freedom of assembly and peaceful protest is an intrinsic part of the right to freedom of expression. This right is guaranteed in Article 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. This action clearly illustrates the concerns that torture and ill treatment continues unabated in Malaysia, particularly by the police.

It also shows the lack of political will by the government to ensure that operational methods and practices by the police are in line with international standards as recommended by Suhakam and the Royal Commission of Inquiry. Amnesty International calls for a proper and full investigation into the incident.

my underlining

A case of the government keeping mum as its praetorian guards mowed down those who opposed Caesar - the Silence of the Damned (government)!

Businessman Amran Zuklifi said: "Then came the FRU - armed with shields and batons. They beat whoever came in their path. We had no chance to plea to them, we could only run."

"In the chaos, I lost my son. So I slowed down. The FRU came from behind me and they kept beating my back and head with their shields and batons."

From the beating, his head was bleeding and his black shirt turned red. "I felt dizzy but I continued to run from them."

A bit irresponsible of Amran to take his son along but his wounds have been the result of the FRU's crimes against humanity.

Lim Ban Teng had his right hand broken by a FRU police baton. He told Malaysiakini that the protestors had shouted "OK, OK, we disperse!" but the FRU had ignored the plea. The police were hellbent on bashing up the protestors.

Related: FRU Brutalities at Protest Rally

photo credits - Malaysiakini

Imminent Step-Down of PM of East Timor

President Xanana Gusmao, the most popular man in East Tinor and probably the one who can solve the nation’s current civil war, has attended a crisis meeting of East Timor's Council of State. The Council has the power and is likely to sack the government of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Alkatiri is detested by many East Timorese and has been the cause of dispute with about 600 troops, which has led to the current state of chaos.

The meeting is also attended by Prime Minister Alkatiri, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta and the influential Catholic Bishop of Dili, Dom Ricardo. Also in attendance was the UN Secretary General's personal envoy, Ian Martin, who recently arrived from Nepal.

During a break President Gusmao addressed the angry crowd of several hundred protesters who had gathered outside to support him and demand the sacking of Prime Minister Alkatiri.

He appealed for calm between rival ethnic gangs and told the demonstrators to go home and trust the meeting to solve the problems, even if it had to meet throughout the night and again tomorrow.

Dr Ramos Horta suggested that it was most likely Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri would have to go.

He said bluntly that given so many people wanted Prime Minister Alkatiri to step down, it would look that way. "Whether Prime Minister Alkatiri can gain confidence and effectiveness in restoring his own personal authority, well that remains to be seen, we will see in the next few hours or days."

Humpty Dumpty's speech on Mahathir revealed!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty said Mahathir did f**kall.
All Humpty can do as Badawi’s man
Couldn't put the Indians together again.

In Humpty Dumpty Bit Hands That Fed Him, I mentioned that Tamil daily Makkal Osai revealed Humpty Dumpty had, at the Johor MIC convention turned on his old master, obviously in a shameless effort to brown-nose his new master.

Humpty criticised Dr Mahathir,whom he used to super-bodek (brown nosed), for doing buggerall for the Indian Malaysian community under the previous Eighth Malaysia Plan (8MP). He grumbled that the old man gave a thousand promises but in the end it was still eeleh (zilch!).

He then demonstrated what Penangites would term chea kay ooua kay, literally meaning ‘eat chicken, get close to chicken’ which may be translated as, in the simplest explanation, brown nosing who’s currently in charge. Humpty said he was confident that PM Abdullah Badawi would keep his word and deliver the promises made to the community under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

When his criticism of Dr Mahathir was revealed, Humpty put on a ballistic display, threatening to sue Makkal Osai for fabricating nonsense (which we are still waiting to see happen), blamed his current party deputy Subramaniam for cooking up the alleged insult to Mahathir, phoned the ole man who was then in Turkey to assure his ole patron that he didn’t say such stuff, told everyone that Mahathir had given much to the Indian Malaysian community during his 22-year tenure and only a ‘fool’ would state otherwise, went on another rampage to discredit Subramanian, etc.

His opposition, after giving him as much rope as possible, has now sprung the evidence on him. They produced CDs of his speech (in Tamil) at the Johor MIC convention – ain’t technology wonderful – and circulate it around, including one copy made available at Malaysiakini for listening.

It’s in Tamil, and with my Tamil limited to some useful words starting with ‘p’ and the essential ‘varnarkarm, tarngachi, nee yengar pooreh’, I just take Malaysiakini’s words that it’s as Makkal Osai had reported.

I like to see Humpty Dumpty put himself together again after this fall.

Dili Ablaze

The situation in Dili, East Timor is worsening since its Prime Minister sacked 595 soldiers over minor grievances. Many blamed him for overreacting and bringing about such a crisis.

Last night in Dili, mobs looted government food warehouses, burnt properties and shot and bashed alleged ethnic enemies. I use the word ‘alleged’ because some experts have said it’snot ethnic violence but mere gangsterism. The official word from the East Timor has been about easterners and westerners bashing it out, but the observers said it’s just raw opportunism for hoodlums to loot and take punitive actions against those they have a grievance with.

sydney morning herald photo

The Dili residents are pissed off with Australian troops because they have expected the soldiers to stop the carnage which has raged unabated. They claimed that the Aussies did nothing. A reporter wrote that about 30 Australian armoured personnel carriers rumbled through the city's streets, but did little to halt the violence or the mass exodus of terrified citizens. Houses and shops were set on fire as ethnic gangs ran amok, while as many as 50,000 people have now been made refugees.

The reality is once the shops have been set ablaze there’s nothing much the troops could do – they are soldiers, not firefighters. On top of that, they have been under instructions not to take sides, nor to mow people down like the Americans do in Iraq. Their sole purpose is to prevent violence using the minimum force, like disarming militias and rescuing trapped residents.

Residents fled to embassies, the airport, religious missions and the compounds of non-government organisations amid rumours that rebel soldiers were preparing to come down from the hills and into the city. Those are the places where Malaysians soldiers have been positioned to guard the buildings.

Chinese Malaysian like frogs boiled gently

“Like a frog swimming in a pot being gradually heated up, the public has shown little consciousness of a deepening crisis.”
- Writers Alliance for Media Independence

The Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami) had warned the Malaysian public about the dangers of timber tycoon Tiong Hiew King acquiring a 20.44 percent stake in Nanyang Holdings, making him the second largest shareholder in the publishing company.

Tiong already owns Sin Chew Media Corporation which publishes Sinchew Daily and Guangming Daily.

Wami advised us of the nexus between politics and the Malaysian media, where the media supports the ruling party while the ruling party prevents newcomers form entering the market.

Because of this monolithic control, Wami said Tiong’s acquisition of Nanyang Press shares had not even alarmed the public, precisely an outcome of the dangers of media control without any independent press raising questions.

Wami said the monopolised Chinese dailies have filtered information available to the readers. It added succinctly:

“Like a frog swimming in a pot being gradually heated up, the public has shown little consciousness of a deepening crisis.”

ribbet ribbet ribbet ........

And so to the sounds of gently boiled frogs, we hear from former Nanyang's executive director Kou Yok Ling, a veteran Chinese-language media practitioner for the past three decades. He has written a book titled '528 [May 28] Nanyang Bustle - An Eyewitness Account’.

He launched his book to commemorate five years since MCA’s takeover of Nanyang Press Holding – the publisher of key Chinese dailies Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.

In his book, Kou revealed how the MCA had coopted a very powerful Malaysian politician (you work out who that was) to force former Nanyang owner Quek Leng Chan to divest his shares to MCA at below market value.

MCA’s strategy included the enlisting of a secret strategic partner to assist the management of Nanyang Press Holding - the secret partner would own about 45 percent of Nanyang's shares. The book identifies him as Tiong, the Sarawak timber tycoon.

The 300-page book discussed how MCA leaders was pissed off with the (former) editors of the two dailies under Nanyang Press Holdings, because the newspapers had reported the full dirt on MCA, for example, (1) the misappropriations of the MCA’s Chang Ming Tian Education Fund and (2) the factionalism between former party president Ling Liong Sik and his deputy, Lim Ah Lek.

Kao said the MCA whispered to Dr Mahathir that the two dailies were anti-government, and their reportings had resulted in the BN's defeat in the 2001 Lunas state seat by-election in Kedah. The MCA had accused both dailies of playing up UMNO Youth's threats against election appeals committee Suqiu.

The MCA argued that the issues brought up by the two dailies had resulted in a dramatic swing against the government among Chinese voters, and thus handed the seat to the opposition on a silver platter.

The MCA's tell-tale to Mahathir about its alleged anti-government articles sounded the death knell for an independent Nanyang in Boleh Land.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

FRU Brutalities at Protest Rally

As expected, water cannons were used this morning on a protest rally that consisted of around 500 people. The rally was to protest against the fuel and electricity price rise. They had gathered earlier near the Jalan Ampang entrance of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Things went OK until the 3rd speaker Ronnie Liu of the DAP expressed his gratitude to Sarawakian voters for their support given to the opposition at the recent Sarawak state elections.

No one has been sure whether that was what had sent the police mad because at that moment the police chose to issue warnings for the crowd to disperse. The crowd bravely ignored the warning with the police water cannons predictably used on them.

In my earlier posting I blogged on how the Royal Malaysian Police Warns UMNO! that they (the police) wouldn’t be able to ensure UMNO’s retention of power if the IPCMC is established. Did the police by any chance feel that the DAP’s reminder to the Peninsula-ans of urban Sarawakian’s defiant rejection of the BN was a little too provocative for comfort? Hence the call for the dispersal at that stage?

But the crowd wasn’t about to be cowed, despite the chemical-laced drenching forced upon them. Most of the crowd bravely held their ground. So plainclothes police personnel romped in to make random arrests, to intimidate the crowd.

Among those arrested were some perhaps not so randomly selected as they were DAP’s Liu, PAS' Kubang Kerian MP Salahuddin Ayub and PKR deputy information chief Badrul Hisham. I am surprised Tian Chua wasn’t one of them as I was expecting that because he would usually position himself in the forefront.

The crowd tiptoed away to be out of range of the water cannons, which was when the world famous FRU charged at the crowd sending many protestors, including women and children, running for cover.

Now, you know why they are world famous, because no one in the crowd had initiated any acts of violence or destroyed public property. And women and children? Shame on the FRU. Their unjustified violence was unnecessary, brutal and utterly violent.

Yes, eyewitness reports tell of excessive violence being used by the FRU on several protestors, including PKR deputy secretary-general Zahir Hassan, who was repeatedly kicked while sprawled on the road.

That's our glorious police, our so-called public guardians but who have just revealed themselves to be private praetorian guards of UMNO, mercenaries so to speak, bashing up Malaysian public members who dared to voice any objections to government policies or decisions.

In fact, the FRU bashing was so violent that traces of blood stains could be seen at the entrance of KLCC. One protestor was believed to be hospitalised for head injuries. Dang Wangi OCPD ACP Kamal Pasha said 18 individuals were arrested; two of them were women.

A crowd of about 100 individuals went to the Pudu police station to show support for those detained. Chief protest organiser Dr Hatta Ramli of PAS is getting help to seek the release of those held.

Dr Hatta said: "Everybody is suffering from the fuel hike. Now electricity prices are also up. These two hikes will hit us hard, whether our pay is large or small."

DAP’s Ronnie Liu said: "This price increase must be dropped, otherwise we will suffer even more."

Well, Ronnie and Hatta, stop complaining. There are 2 options open: (1) accept that the police flogging (on behalf of the government) will continue until public morale bloody well improves, or (2) you can join the Project Mount Everest 2007 where there’s a nice kitty of RM1 million plus, which should, if carefully bid for, take care of participants’ electricity and fuel expenditures, for a few months at least.

Malaysia Boleh!

Royal Malaysian Police Warns UMNO!

In one of the most amazing and unprecedented episode of our nation’s history the Royal Malaysian Police is OPENLY threatening the government, or UMNO (these two terms are synonymnous anyway).

In a special edition of an internal bulletin Berita Bukit Aman, the police [or, to be more precise, its top level management] attacked the IPCMC as ‘unconstitutional, prejudicial to national security and public order, can cause a state of anarchy and undermines the ruling coalition’s power’.

Did you get the last bit?

Yes, that bit when the police warned (UMNO) that the IPCMC will undermine the ruling coalition’s power.

In fact, it presented 9 points why the IPCMC must be opposed, with its 3rd point as:

Undermines the ruling coalition’s power.

The Royal Malaysian Police has come out openly to tell everyone, and be damn with the rest, that it is a police force for UMNO, to ensure UMNO stays in power.

And in case UMNO politicians are still hesitant, the Berita Bukit Aman warns that if the IPCMC is established, the police force will vote for the opposition in the next general election, and turn to the opposition (meaning either PKR or PAS, because it won’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting that from the DAP) to ask them to fight for police rights.

But more worrying and threatening, Association of Gazetted Senior Police’s head ACP Jamaludin Khalid Jamaludin said in the bulletin that police top brass will resign en bloc, policemen will refuse to work overtime and demand for an eight-hour five-day working week, should the IPCMC be established.

The police is an ‘essential service’ and under legislative arrangements, like all ‘essential services’, cannot go on strike or work to rule.

What the Royal Malaysian Police has now say is as good as “We are a mercenary force employed by UMNO to do its bidding. If UMNO doesn’t look after us, just like dissatisfied mercenary forces in history we can turn on our employers.”

If the PM, also in his capacity as Internal Security Minister, doesn’t sack the IGP and the top layer of two of senior police officers within the next 3 days, our worst nightmare will begin (if it has not already). If the police gets away with such an open threat to a legitimately elected government, soon we will be like what our neighbours were once, ruled by the Police (or Armed Forces).

PM Abdullah Badawi and his own descendants, and those of other UMNO politicians, will be under the future rule of the Police.

Readers' Comments - Robust OK; But ...

When I put up this blog my policy has been, and still is, that it be:

“A meeting place to exchange views, no matter how different or diverse these may be.”

I made an appeal that “Keeping these [views] civil and courteous would be appreciated.”

I didn’t want to moderate comments before they are posted, hoping for responsible though diverse or even robust views. Unfortunately once in a while, some ‘anonymous’ would come along and spoil the blog-exchanges, by posting unacceptable comments, such as describing someone's religion as ‘cock’ or some equally insulting term.

Because of my firewall which I intend to keep up, I cannot immediately delete those terrible comments – I have to go to another computer some distance away to do so. It’s a troublesome exercise and damn annoying.

Let’s have a bit more consideration for your poor ole KTemoc and cease and desist from those insults to someone’s religion.

Yogya - Over 3000 dead

The death toll from Yogya's earthquake continues to rise, and will further when bodies have been recovered from behind collapsed buildings and other rubble. The latest official figure at midnight Malaysian time was 3002.

The worst hit area has been Bantul town and the surrounding area, about 25 kilometres from Yogyakarta city. The Bantul region accounts for more than 2,000 of the people who have died.

The following describes the horrors, fears and heartbreaks of the residents:

"It's pitch dark. We have to use candles and we are sitting outside now. We are too scared to sleep inside. The radio keeps saying there will be more quakes. We still feel the tremors."

"Everything is destroyed here. My house is in ruins, all houses are ruined … I have a neighbour whose 11 family members were killed instantly."

"I lost my father, aunt and niece, but I can't confirm the rest because I can't get hold of them."

"Oh my God, where is the doctor, where is the doctor?"

"My daughter here was buried under the rubble. We got her out, but we could not save my other daughter ... it was just horrible."

photo credits - Sydney Morning Herald, & al Jazeera

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Yogya Death Toll Exceeds 1300 - Thousands Injured

2700 people killed
1700 people suffered serious injuries
872 slightly hurt

Many still under collapsed buildings
The Yogyakarta earthquake death toll has now exceeded 1,325 people. Many thousands more have been

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the military to help evacuate victims. But the situation has been aggravated by Yogyakarta's airport being forced to close because the runway had cracked. In the terminal building part of a roof had caved in.

The dead and injured have been ferried to hospital in lorries and buses. Some injured went on foot, because of a shortage of ambulances.

Subandi from the Bethesda hospital morgue in Yogyakarta said: "Most of them have wounds on their heads. The flow is not going down. The numbers are going to escalate."

Head injuries suggested that the falling roof must have hit them form above.

He added: "Every time there is a tremor, hospital workers run out of the building."

He said aftershocks had forced them to move injured patients outside, and were disrupting hospital operations. Mosques, churches and hospitals were housing people who had fled their homes.

Earthquake hit Yogyakarta

The late Johnny Cash sang the Ring of Fire but saudara (brothers & sisters), Indonesia sits on it, namely the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity. Note in the chart below the dotted red ring runs through Sumatera, Java until the nation's eastern islands.

chart from

Well, an earthquake just hit the ancient royal capital of Yogyakarta and the surrounding area that has tragically killed 51 people. That’s the figure so far. Hope no Malaysians are there.

The earthquake occurred this morning just before 6:00 am (local time) and had a magnitude of 6.2. Apart from the 51 death toll, it has also injured hundreds. Houses and buildings have collapsed too and the city now suffers electrical cutoff as well. Tremors have been felt in various cities, as well as on the north coast of Java island.

The quake's epicentre was offshore but earthquake centre official Fauzi said that had not caused a tsunami. However he was contradicted by police chief Sampurnojati, who reported on radio that the earthquake was followed by tidal waves.

Whether that was true or not, his statement caused panic in the nation. We all know how Indonesians had been the nation most affected by the the terrible Boxing Day tsunami. So it was hardly surprising that thousands of people have fled coastal areas for higher ground. Why take chances to dilly dally just to confirm the veracity of the police chief’s statement, when ‘higher is safer’?

An official at the meteorological office assured everyone that the quake is not related to the Mount Merapi volcano, which has been rumbling in recent weeks. We also know that the local spiritual Brahmin had appeased Gunung Merapi through his esoteric tantric know-how.

The Plan International aid agency's regional disaster co-ordinator in Java, Brook Wiseman Ross, informed us that according to locals the quake is the biggest they have ever felt. He added:

"I was personally shaken from my bed, furniture was falling, concrete chunks started falling from my hotel room as people were running out in panic in their bedclothes. Clearly many buildings were damaged immediately. I moved on to check on some safety of my staff in other buildings, I could see that the damage was extensive across the city."

Update from Reuters:

Yogyakarta hospital staff said at least 134 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

Malaysian Sex Machines?

Prof Mahmud Zuhdi Abdul Majid, a lecturer in Universiti Malaya's Islamic Academic Studies, has proposed a solution to the alleged issue of ‘gatal-ness’ (lechery) or vice among Muslim women. He didn't mention man’s miang-ness (also, lechery) but his solution may have partial solution to that as well.

Prof Mahmud Zuhdi Abdul Majid

I reckon his innovative proposal may be in response to the recent controversy about women’s lechery raised by an Islamic Party (PAS) politician, Abdul Fatah Harun, the “honourable” PAS member for Rautau Panjang, who told the august (?) house of Parliament “If we see women who don’t have husbands and are divorced not because their husbands are dead, (it must be because) they are ‘gatal sikit’”

The Malaysian word ‘gatal sikit’ literally means ‘a little itchy’ but really means lustful, lecherous or randy.

Mind you, many female MPs from both ruling and opposition parties doubt he merits the parliamentary member's honorific title of “honourable”. They gave him a mega-tonnage earful to which he remained rather oblivious, being of the 'superior' gender ;-)

On that matter, of women MPs jumping up in outrage like cats on a hot tin roof, I also mentioned my disappointment with the lady MP from Permatang Pauh, PKR President Dr Wan Azizah (wife of Anwar Ibrahim). She remained deafeningly silent to Abdul Fatah Harun’s misogynist remarks, unless of course I missed her objection.

Her reluctance to speak up on behalf of women's rights and dignity explained why PKR had been a general failure with Malaysians. As I mentioned, and I mention it again, there is an unfavourable perception, especially among non-Muslims, that PKR has been seen to behave in a subordinate and very passive manner to the loose cannon policies of its more dominating ally, PAS.

I blogged on all that in Gatal versus Miang and PAS reluctant to scratch 'gatal' bloke.

Anyway, back to Prof Mahmud Zuhdi Abdul Majid’s proposal, that of the Islam-sanctioned misyar marriage.

According to the learned scholar, the difference between misyar and a polygamous marriage was that the husband did not have to provide money or clothing for his other wife but only be there to satisfy her sexual needs.

A win-win situation! Straight for the jugular (or a little lower), the good Prof has shown a way to solve human needs. Abraham Maslow, if still alive, would have been proud to see his Hierarchy of Needs kicking into action.

The Prof reckoned if Malaysians practise misyar marriage, the rising number of unmarried divorcees and women coule be overcome, though he is of course assuming that sex has been the only issue. But hey, he is a Prof and who am I to question him!

He said that renowned Islamic ulama Dr Yusuf al-Qardawi in his edict pronounced misyar as legal as it could solve the problems of unmarried women or divorcees. Thus it was hardly surprising that the practice was allowed and deemed to be necessary by several ulamas in some countries in the Middle East. It’s all up to Malaysia’s Fatwa Council to study if it could be implemented in Malaysia.

He revealed that this arrangement is popular in the Middle East involving rich women who had difficulty looking for a life partner.

Wow, and I have always wanted a rich wife (or wives). I wonder whether I could adopt the misyar marriage concept for practice among non-Muslims in our Islamic nation, but I have a (mind you, much higher) feeling that sweet lassies like the Honourable Teresa Kok and her Amazon companions may ... eh ... 'make' me qualify for the Vienna Boys Choir. Gulp!

Not surprising, Kelantan Mentri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat of PAS has given his support to misyar marriages, which he reminded us were allowed in Islam. He said such marriages where the husbands only provide sex but not material responsibility would be viable if consent had been obtained from the women who were willing to enter into such arrangements.

Responding to objections by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who said such sex-oriented marriages do not meet the needs of a modern society, he said, hey hey: “It is for them [women] to decide if they want their spouses to provide for their sexual needs once a week or once a month.”

What if they want it every day? And for some, even several times a day? Gulp!

Then the frightening question of female exigencies exceeding the husbands’ performance envelope could become a troubling issue. This was what I meant when I mentioned earlier that Prof Mahmud Zuhdi Abdul Majid’s proposal may have only ‘partial’ solution to the 'miang-ness' of men.

Those poor sex machines could be put off, even grinding to an exhausted overheated stop. And in the absence of satisfactory acquittal of contractual arrrangements by the male partner, oh my god, the insidious 'gatal-ness' could creep in again. And even worse, what about the frustration of their non-misyar spouses with their husbands' attrited inability to boot-up and download?

OK, what about human dignity? Nik Abdul Aziz said the issue of women being insulted by such arrangements did not arise because they had already given their consent. She wants sex, and she can’t get it because of her no-marriage status, well, that’s the price she has to pay. Hey babes, it'll all be on paper.

What if those unfortunate women can’t recruit a husband even under the misyar arrangement? They could possess certain ‘attributes’ that have disadvantaged them in the first place, which had been the reasons for their difficulties in getting married, either for the first time or again.

Ah, diffficult questions for a poor bloke like me to answer - didn't I say I wasn't a Prof?

Satan Worship by Melbourne Catholic Priest

45 years ago in Melbourne, Australia, a Catholic priest conducted Satanic rites including murders and paedophilic abuses in a Catholic Church over a period of time.

A victim of the paedophile priest gave a sworn statement to the Archdiocese in November 1999. He stated that he was first abused by the priest as an 11-year-old, while serving as an altar boy at the Sacred Heart Church in Sandringham and attending a Catholic school.
For three years he was repeatedly sexually and physically abused during the Satanic rituals by the priest and others. He escaped when he was 14.

The victim who is now a 56-year-old man wishes to remain anonymous. He recalled at least three deaths - a young woman, a young man and a young child - that occurred during the rituals over a number of years.

The priest slit the throats of 2 and chopped up the 3rd with an axe. I wonder whether he performed the last rites for them?

The bodies were also mutilated and dismembered after the killings. The bloke certainly liked more than just ritualistic blood. Apparently (and mercifully) the murdered victims were drugged before being killed. Sometimes animals, including cats, were also killed during the rituals. The small boy was forced to take part in the rituals during which he was sexually abused by the priest and others present in the ceremonies.

The boy remembered being told that God was evil while Satan was both good and more powerful. On other occasions he would be told that good was evil and evil was good and that Satan was all powerful and had control over the earth. He was also advised that he was evil which meant that he was good.

Just imagine an 11-year old boy being indoctrinated with that kind of evil!

Some of the rituals took place in an old house owned by the Catholic Church in Sandringham, where the new Sacred Heart Church now stands. The victim said: “It would have been impossible to sprinkle enough Holy Water on that site to purify it before building a new church on it.”

While claims of Satanic rituals and ritualised sexual abuse by victims are nothing new, what has been surprising has been the Melbourne Archdiocese’s acceptance of the victim's claims as being true. Of course the Church engaged an independent Queen's Counsel (QC) to investigate into his allegations. The QC found validity in the victim's accusations.

The Australian Catholic Church has made financial compensation to the man, and Cardinal George Pell, currently the No 1 Prelate in Australia, and who was Archbishop of Melbourne in 2001, wrote an apology to the victim.

The victim said he had decided to speak out now after the recent trial in the US of Catholic priest Gerald Robinson, who was found guilty of the ritualised murder of a nun. I blogged on that in Catholic Priest in Satanic Murder.

The victim had reported to police in Victoria (one of Australia's states, where Melbourne is its capital) in 1998, one year before he turned to the Church, and was promised by the cops that details would be passed to the homicide squad, but as in the US case, recent checks by the press found nothing was done. Australia has a powerful Catholic presence and such seemingly blasphemy involving wild and bizarre accusations against a priest undoubtedly wasn’t well received.

The Satanic priest had since died, or has he? If he was a Satan worshipper, would dark forces keep him alive? Would the Catholic Church now dig him up for burial elsewhere, in non-consecrated land? Hmmm, it would be interesting if they were to find his coffin empty ;-) And what will they do to re-consecrate the Sacred Heart Church in Sandringham?

Mid last year I posted the The Romanian Exorcist, where I blogged on the case of a Romanian Orthodox priest in Tanacu, Romania, who crucified a nunyes, with nails and the whole blooming lot - and then celebrated her funeral as a triumph of good over evil. He claimed that the murdered nun was possessed by the devil.

But surely the Melbourne case of Satanic worship in its unmitigated evil far exceeded those of the Romanian and US cases, which were more of misogynous hatred.

Related: Vampiress Then, Vampiress Now

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sunday Protest Againt Oil & Electricity Prices

This Sunday there'll be another protest, a combined one against the rise in oil price and electricity tariffs. The organiser hopes there will be 2000 participants, scheduled for 10 a.m. outside Petronas Twin Towers.

The usual suspects will be there - the Opposition and NGOs. Their leaders will (hope to) be giving speeches while a group of youths will perform a sketch. PAS, PKR, and DAP will be the political parties represented.

When observers suggested that the turnout may be less than expected because of the inevitable police suppression, PAS deputy president, Hatta said: “The number of people who turn up do not necessarily reflect the real situation. People are angry, the protests are to remind them of the fuel hike and ultimately the people will make a choice like in the Sarawak election.”

We may expect the government to be more twitchy about PAS and PKR because of the very political-minded Malay constituency. The Chinese will be represented solely by Tian of PKR, who is a bit of a wannabe martyr, while the general community stays at home to play mahjong and p'ah-kow (cards) because they no longer care. The Indians, except for MIC top dogs, will be busy trying to scrap something together to survive.

While I have been supportive of the oil price hike as an inevitable and natural event, I have been appalled by the government's continuing waste and profligate spending - as in the Everest 2007 project. The Abdullah Badawi government should tighten its own belt before it dares tell the poor to "change their lifestyles".

Mahathir & Anwar - Never the twain shall meet!

Oh, East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

- Rudyard Kipling

Malaysiakini posed some provocative questions to former PM Dr Mahathir. But the one that we all want to know is his thoughts about Anwar Ibrahim, once his heir apparent, a man who was sponsored by Mahathir himself to parachute into the upper echelon of UMNO, and who leapfrogged over far more senior UMNO leaders into the right seat of the grand ole man.

Two interesting issues were raised, (1) is Mahathir still truly convinced, 100% sure that Anwar had been guilty of the homosexuality allegations, and (2) would he reconcile with his former deputy?

Mahathir replied: “I was the prime minister and I had a responsibility not only for myself but for the country, not only during the time I was prime minister, but for the future of the country, and I had to make a decision. If I am convinced that somebody is not suitable, I have to make a decision.”

“Even if he is a friend, or my own relative, it doesn’t make any difference. If I find somebody who is not suitable, I would be failing in my duty in hesitating because, you know, he’s a friend, I brought him up, things like that. Those things don’t count to me.”

Then to demonstrate the veracity of his words, he added:

“You know, my enemies - I have brought back into the cabinet*. I don’t care about personal relations. I care about your ability. If you show the ability to serve the country, even though you are my enemy, I take you back. But if you are my bosom pal and all that, but you have done something that renders you unsuitable to run the country, I will have to take action.”

* He was referring to current PM Abdullah Badawi, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid, former Information Minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadir, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Dr Rais Yatim

Mahathir even mentioned his reconciliation with Ku Li (Tengku Razaleigh), his chief opponent in 1989 split of UMNO and probably the most powerful and credible alternative leader to Mahthir.

Malaysiakini pounced on that and asked whether there would be any possibility of reconciliation with Anwar Ibrahim, given that Mahathir had taken back his enemies before?

He responded: “If I have reconciliation [with Anwar], it may be interpreted as my belief that actually nothing happened, that it was wrong, my mistake, (that) my decision was wrong, that this thing did not happen. But to me, I was convinced, I made the decision, no matter what the people say.”

Anticipating the inevitable question, he moved swiftly to comment on one of the most disgraceful treatment of an incarcerated Anwar, who was beaten and given a black eye by a former IGP. He asserted:

“I didn’t ask the people to give him a black eye. I nearly lost the [1999] election because of that. But whether I’m going to lose the election, whether I was going to be expelled from the party, and things like that, what happens to me is not a matter of any relevance to me. What is important to me is that I do what I think is right. So if the Tunku is wrong, I tell the Tunku*.”

* Referring to his own expulsion from UMNO after the 1969 election, where Parti Perikatan (the Alliance Party of UMNO, MCA and MIC – predecessor of today’s BN) suffered its most disastrous setback in the polls.

Mahathir, then with Musa Hitam as UMNO’s young Turks, condemned Tunku Abdul Rahman’s lack of affirmative actions for the Malays as the reason for UMNO’s losses. Mahathir himself lost his Kota Selatan seat to a PAS candidate in that election.

I had also blogged on the election result for the state of Selangor as The Real Cause of the May 13 Riots.

From what a friend (with strong connections to UMNO) told me, I reckon there could be two reasons why Mahathir couldn’t forgive Anwar Ibrahim:

(1) Mahathir had actually believed that Anwar was guilty of those homosexual allegations, because someone or some people must have showed him some convincing photos of Anwar in comprising positions. Now, we know that photos can be jigged every which way. The further questions are (a) were they? And (b) who showed Mahathir the photos?

(2) Mahathir must have felt that his once-beloved Anwar had showed him disrespect by being very impatient and aggressive towards the time when Mahathir was about to hand over the reins to his protégé.

I was informed that Anwar’s faction rather than Anwar was very pushy and attempting to ‘take no prisoners’ with the other UMNO factions, who would have reacted (in any way) out of fear.

I was also shown newspaper cuttings where Anwar’s faction, impatient for absolute power and in attempting to give a jolly extra nudge to get Mahathir out, had insinuated Mahathir was corrupt, when suddenly the old fox displayed a list that ricocheted the accusation of corruption back on to Anwar. Mahathir must have felt that Anwar was grossly disloyal to him.

Well, whatever, we do know the two hate each other.

2nd-hand Teh Tarik back again?

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Dr Lim Keng Yaik has provided Malaysians with additional bad news, so shortly after the fuel price hike. He announced a 12% average rise in power rates from June 1.

Though another price increase in oil-related electricity was inevitable, this must have been a double blow straight into the guts of ordinary Malaysians.

But Dr Lim said glibly that low-income household would "not be badly affected", as the rates would be based on the amount of power consumed. He was of course talking about the tariff increase being most significant above certain wattage.

He claimed that the majority of domestic users - 59% or about 3 million households - use less than 200 kilowatts (equivalent to a bill of RM43.60). But he failed to mention that an increase in electricity price, like the oil hike, will affect other goods from the resulting cascading effect.

While fuel price hikes, and consequently electricity, are affected by the extraordinary demands of world markets (China & India joining USA & Japan in the ranks of humongous oil guzzlers) and poor supply because of the unsettled situation in the Middle East (thanks to George Bush), has the Malaysian government made any provision, for example, to index public servants’ salary to ameliorate the cost increase? How about non public servants?

It’s typical of the government in Dr Lim’s out-of-touch statement about low-income household not being badly affected when in the same breath it can spend millions sending a team to Mt Everest.

Looks like we may well have to return to 2nd-hand Teh Tarik for affordable refreshment, with the coopting of RELA* enforcers to monitor kedai kopi (coffee stalls) on pricing?

* Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia (RELA) or People’s Volunteer Corps was formed as a voluntary government security apparatus on 11 January 1972

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Malaysian & Aussie Troops for East Timor

Once again, Australia has been forced to intercede in East Timor, this time not against Indonesian militia, but to protect civilians from the conflict between government troops and a breakaway faction of around 600 soldiers.

It’s believed that 20 (who?) are feared dead or injured. Even a Korean businessman was shot in the neck but he’s recovering.

Aussie PM John Howard will be deploying 1300 troops to help settle the situation. Today, in a chaotic Dili, 130 Australian commandos has secured the international airport.

Howard said: "Given the deteriorating situation we will go ahead without any conditionality with the full deployment, and the 1300 will be in place in very short order."

Aussie Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Aus troops would play a peacekeeping role and will do all they can to avoid combat. His remarks may have something to do with Australians’ growing disenchantment with Oz participating in all sorts of conflict – Iraq, Afghanistan, Solomon Island, now East Timor, etc.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Malaysia had offered 25 defence personnel and a Hercules aircraft, while New Zealand had offered a company of troops and one or two Hercules.

But said Malaysia would send hundreds of troops after receiving a request from the Dili government to help quell the uprising. A Kementah (Minintry of Defence) defence official said: "We will be sending troops but the size of the force will be released later on."

Another ministry official said the Malaysian contingent would leave tonight, and was expected to stay in the troubled nation for up to a month: "It's a military contingent. It consists of Malaysian armed forces and some police. It's 275 from the armed forces side, but we do not know the numbers of police yet."

Howard commented that: "I have little doubt that once all of our forces are there, there will be significant return of stability and normality, although there has been a loss of life and there's obviously great tension in Dili and a considerable amount of disorder. However, the system of government continues to operate."

The almost-civil-war has been due to sheer incompetence of the East Timorese PM, Mark Alkatiri, who is extremely unpopular because of his haughtiness. The person who has the charisma and influence is the contitutional but powerless head, Xanana Gusmao.

Then of course there's the dispute within the East Timor Defence Force. There are moral factors due to costs of living. One had been the unpopular and seemingly ridiculous tranfer of soldiers from the East to the West and vice versa. In such a poor country the transfer expenses had been too much to bear.

Then, there are allegations of discrimination against some of the soldiers in terms of pay, promotions, conditions. The fact that the people are generally wallowing in abject poverty hasn’t helped.

One political analyst said problems had been simmering since the army was formed during United Nations stewardship of the former Indonesian province from 1999-2002.

He said: "The problem goes back to the UN intervention - they didn't know what to do with the military. Then they developed the police force, saying they didn't want the military in law and order."

An unwanted armed band of frustrated troops coupled with an uncaring PM was just asking for trouble. Around 600 soldiers, or nearly a third of the military, deserted their barracks in February, complaining of poor conditions and bias in the ranks.

The rebel leader, Commander Reinado was one of the 600 sacked by the government after going on strike over pay and conditions. He actually welcomed the deployment of up to 1300 Australian troops. He says his goal is not to topple the government, but to seek justice and the creation of a professional defence force.

Reinado had been trained by Australia. He told Australia’s ABC: "I respect them. We will happily shake hands. Tell the Australian troops don't forget to bring some VB for us."

VB stands for Victoria Bitter, a very popular brand of beer from the State of Victoria. Non-Muslims Malaysian students studying in Melbourne would be fairly familiar with VB – Ktemoc is ;-)

Mahathir's Kaki Kang-Kang Story Continues

Dr Mahathir has a few rounds of ammunition left yet, just to show us he’s no yesterday’s man. In my previous posting More WMDs from Dr Mahathir, he revealed to the embarrassment of the current PM that it had been the Malaysian cabinet which had opened its legs, one of sand and the other of airspace, kang-kang (wide open), prostituting Malaysia to Singapore.

We also know from his whistle-blowing that Singapore had been complicit with some powerful Malaysian(s) in pretending to be the party that had demanded Malaysia opened her legs.

Then the ole man started shooting (or sniping) again, saying when he was PM, he didn’t permit his family (wife, sons or daughter) to be involved with government businesses. He stated: “If you allow your children to get business from the government, then people will not take kindly to that.”

He forbid his sons to be in politics while he was the PM. He said: “I didn’t want to give the impression that I’m creating a dynasty.”

You can guess who he had been targeting, though he averred he was just talking on general principles. He declined to advise anyone, least of all his handpicked successor, PM Abdullah Badawi, on following his example.

In the interview with Malaysiakini, Mahathir defended his much-criticised mega-projects. He said that critics failed to recognise projects such as the Penang Bridge, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and the administrative capital of Putrajaya were ‘built for the future’.

He advised: “When you want to build something, don’t build for the present. Build for the future.”

Malaysiakini reader KSN who wrote in to its Vox Populi column agreed with his philosophy on infrastructure, but it was a sweet and sour acknowledgement. Bitterly, and that's what sweet & sour would turn out to be, KSN said:

The only credit, I will give Dr M is his infrastructure development, especially the highways, but at what cost to the people, like giving the highway operators blank cheques to increase tolls until doomsday at their whims and fancies!

Corruption flourished, favouritism and cronyism were rampant. He filled the civil service across the board - including the judiciary, the institutions of higher learning - with people from one race, inept, incompetent, submissive and obedient gentlemen, denying the non-Malays their legitimate representation. I can even accept if the Malays were given 60% and the balance to the other races. He did not. He gave them all. He played into the hands of PAS to show he and UMNO was more Islamic, and to cap it all, he declared Malaysia an Islamic state, when it is not. I can go on and on.

The damage Dr M has done to the country far outweighs the good he has done a few thousand times. Ask him about the above, and every Malaysian will be interested to read his answer and his justification. Tell him that he has missed a great opportunity to make this country great and become the greatest PM ever, but alas, he threw all that away because of misguided policies and ego. He is no democrat and there is nothing great about him. He is obviously very intelligent but no intellectual, by any measure.

Most certainly Mahathir is not an easy man for many Malaysians to forget his ‘past’ or forgive his collateral damage along the way. Last year on 11 September I opined about Dr Mahathir in Mahathir: Unforgettable & Unforgivable.

Do you think I had hit the Mahathir nail on its head?

But I did say somewhat presciently: “But no worries, we’ll continue to hear from and about him.”

And indeed we have.

Leaving One's Soul at Bottom of Mt Everest

Last week I blogged about Malaysian Ladies for Mt Everest where “PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced Project Everest 2007 which will see Malaysian women climb the world’s highest mountain. He announced a RM 1.4 million funding for the project - probably money saved from the fuel subsidy and cancellation of the scenic bridge.”

JJ Ray wrote in Malaysiakini’s Opinion & Features’ column of his disappointment with the Malaysian government in still wringing blood out of the Everest stone. He commented:

When the government says it has to be wise in its spending and decide judiciously on projects that will benefit the people, what happens when the same government appears so lavish in throwing money on a project that is redundant?

One case in point is the recent announcement that yet another team of Malaysians is all excited and keen to conquer the world's highest and most difficult mountain to scale, the 8, 848m tall Mount Everest. And for that, the Youth and Sports Ministry, without even a second thought, has decided to sponsor the 'mission' at a whopping RM1.4 million.

Now, this latest team to eye Mount Everest is not the first, and from the way the Mount Everest frenzy has caught on with Malaysians, will not be the last. The ever-imposing picturesque mountain has been conquered countless times, not just by the able bodied but also by the disabled.

In Malaysia's case, while this latest team's zeal to propaganda the 'Malaysia Boleh' spirit is appreciated, is there no other way through which they can make their contribution? Why go out and take on a feat which is no longer a challenge to the nation, as it has been performed several times before? One reason could be because of the typical Malaysian habit of rewarding feats achieved.

JJ Ray them showed the contrasting rewards for Azhar Mansor (sailor) and Malik Mydin (English Channel swimmer), who both were rewarded with various stuff including a Datuk-ship (knighthood) each, while M. Magendran and N. Mohandas (first Malaysians to ascend successfully to Mt Everest) and Lennard Lee (also Channel swimmer for charity but with better performance than Malik) weren't!

I believe comparisons are odious and all 5 had done well for Malaysia, but I agree with JJ Ray that the Datuk-ships had been a little over the top. Ray said that such rewarding was actually de-motivating Malaysians from doing feats as a challenge per se; instead those wannabe heroes might only do it because of the reward at the end of the adventure. Ray said:

“The practice of reward for achievements is no less a corruption, where those who take on challenging feats do so in the interest of gaining some sort of reward - not for the sake of taking on the challenge itself. Corrupting their motives and morale is the fault of the government which paradoxically, is trying to weed out Malaysia's deep-rooted and chronic problem with corruption.”

I wonder how Ray’s assessment applies to a Kiwi Everest climber Mark Inglis. Inglis, a double-amputee, on his ascend to the peak, left injured and dying (but still alive) British climber David Sharp to die, bypassing the injured man on his way to conquering Mt Everest. Sharp died subsequently.

Inglis defended himself, saying his own party was the only one to stop and help Sharp from among a stream of about 40 climbers who walked on past Sharp as he lay in Everest's ‘death zone’ above 8000m. He claimed that other climbers reported seeing Sharp trying to work on his oxygen system, but the Briton had no oxygen left. But newspapers report said Inglis didn't do anything to help Sharp but continued with his ascent.

The problem was Sharp had climbed alone. He had two previous unsuccessful attempts in 2003 and 2004, ending up without oxygen. Both times he was forced to turn back at 8470 metres altitude. This time, he apparently reached the summit with the help of two four litre oxygen bottles from a trekking company. But he still ran out of oxygen and at that hypoxic altitute, if not re-succoured with oxygen, he was doomed.

Sir Edmund Hillary, acclaimed as the first man to officially reach the top of Mt Everest was motified by the callous action of his countryman, Mark Inglis, in leaving another climber to die, just because Inglis wanted nothing to stop his way to the mountain top. Hillary believed that nowadays people had completely lost sight of what was important, and stated sadly:

"In our expedition there was never any likelihood whatsoever if one member of the party was incapacitated that we would just leave him to die."

"There have been a number of occasions when people have been neglected and left to die and I don't regard this as a correct philosophy."

He rejected Inglis' excuse about the difficulties of helping Sharp because of the unique circumstances in operating at high altitude, commenting:

"I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mt Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top. They don't give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn't impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die."

University of Otago scientist and mountaineer Dr Phil Ainslie, who has studied oxygen use on Mt Everest, said the life of the British climber could have been saved. It could have been possible to revive the climber with bottled oxygen and even get him down to safety.

However, he believed that Inglis' one chance of making the summit as a double amputee would have influenced the man into ignoring the distress of another climber, callously leaving him to die. Apart from personal glory, many Everest hikers paid US$75,000 or more for the climb, so the idea of abandoning the trek to the top, to help someone whom they rationalised would be dead soon, was damn unlikely.

Unfortunately for the late Sharo, it's a very selfish world.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nevaeh, Anavin & Itavarama

The girl’s name that is growing fastest in popularity in the US is Nevaeh. While it’s not the top name yet, it has now rocketed into the top 100 girl’s name from recent obscurity. Its appeal and growth are remarkable.

Cleveland Evans, the president of the American Name Society and a professor of psychology at Bellevue University in Nebraska, told the New York Times that the advent of the name was unprecedented. "Of the last couple of generations, Nevaeh is certainly the most remarkable phenomenon in baby names."

Last year, 4,457 baby girls were named Nevaeh in the USA, allowing it to penetrate the top 100 bracket for girl's names. It is especially popular among African Americans.

Some suggest that it is of Slavic origin and means butterfly, but the truth is far from it. One of the people credited with popularising the name was Christian rock star Sonny Sandoval of the group POD. In May 2000 he announced on MTV to his audience that his daughter had been named Nevaeh.


Because, Nevaeh is Heaven spelled backwards.

Very clever and original.

Along that unique approach, Buddhists could named their sons or daughters Anavin, the reverse of Nivana.

Hindus have a wider choice as in Agravs (Svarga or Heaven), Urem (Meru as in Mount Meru, the location of Svarga) or Itavarama (Amaravati, the capital of Svarga). The last one even has the word Rama in it.

More WMDs from Dr Mahathir

Good ole Dr Mahathir! Always trust him to explode a few WMDs on his way to his office. He was interviewed by Malaysiakini, whom he informed straight in their face that he didn’t like them very much – ouch! That’s TDM for you – WYSIWYG!

But he was very diplomatic about his successor, refusing to grade PM Abdullah Badawi’s performance thus far. Look, in Malaysia, refusal to comment is as good as disapproval.

But the best juicy part came out on 3 items, that were not only juicy per se but also showed that our wonderful ministers had been lying through their teeth to us, or at least not telling the entire story.

Issues No 1 & 2 - sand & airspace!

Remember the Bridge of Sand? In that posting I wrote:

“The PM has virtually said in the media release that we won’t build the bridge because our people don’t want to sell sand to Singapore nor permit its air force to zoom around in our Malaysian airspace.”

I did argue that selling sand, unlike allowing the SAF planes to fly within our airspace, was just a commercial enterprise so there was no harm in going ahead. In a subsequent posting Secret Sand Supremo I referred to Dr Mahathir’s anger about the abandonment of the bridge, where the ole man said:

“…….. someone in Malaysia wanted the sand issue tied in, so that he (that unnamed person) could corner the market in selling sand to Singapore. I heard that it would be a multi-billion ringgit business.”

He was convinced that the government’s priority and intention had been to sell sand to Singapore, and that the reason of the abandonment of the bridge came much later.

He attacked: “All in all it is clear that the Malaysian government is more interested in selling sand to Singapore than to build the bridge. This keenness to sell sand is strange for Malaysia does not need the proceeds from sale of sand. Despite my alleged profligate ways when I was PM, Malaysia is not so bankrupt that it has to depend on selling sand.”

“That any Malaysian leader should not shudder in horror at the idea of scraping one billion square metres from Malaysian seabeds continuously over a period of 20 years, thereby destroying all the fish breeding grounds of Malaysian seas, depriving Malaysian fishermen of their livelihood, destroying Malaysia’s marine ecology defies the imagination.”

“That there should be any Malaysian leader willing to entertain this idea, to destroy Malaysian seas to satisfy Singapore speaks badly of his love for his country.”

I also had wrote in Bridge of Sand?: “Of course we ordinary citizens don’t know what the hell is going on behind all those ‘faces’.”

Indeed, we didn’t!

Dr Mahathir has revealed that it had been the Malaysian side who offered the sand and airspace to Singapore. He said that the offer of the sand had been as much as one billion square metres, or 50 million square metres a year for 20 years. That would have made Singapore 1.5 times its present size, and capable of sustaining a population of around 10 million.

So we had actually prostituted ourselves, and then blamed Singapore for demanding or attempting to connect those two items with the straight bridge!

Mahathir gave credit to Johor for objecting to the sale, and forcing the Malaysian government to back down..

All well and good, and generally shouldn’t worry us, but what is truly worrying has been the fact that the Singapore government had played ball with the sand and airspace issues, because they had acted as if they themselves asked for them. Does that mean they were silently supporting some or even one Malaysian?

Well, in the Secret Sand Supremo I did ask who could that person be, that was so powerful as to consider cornering the sand-to-Singapore market and be able to persuade or coopt the Singaporeans into raising the issues, including the use of our airspace (offered by Malaysia).

Well, that’s 2 issues – sand and airspace. I’ll blog on the 3rd later that Dr Mahathir voiced his concerns over.