Sunday, October 19, 2008

Budget debate

Make the time, if you can, to watch the Parliamentary debate on the 2009 Budget. Rosyam123 has a great archive going.

Watch for yourself and then decide who ought to be running this country. For me, it's a no-brainer... if you'd rather ponteng, you're basically saying: "I don't care about the the rakyat."

And to that i say: "Get lost."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last night's vote

Last night at Padang Timur, a motion was proposed to the collective subconscious:

"Those in favour of abolition of the ISA wave aye....."

The results:


Last days of the dinosaur

Reports the Star:

Speaking to reporters Sunday before attending a Hari Raya gathering with Umno Youth members here, Mukhriz claimed that Zaid’s efforts to make the judicial appointments system more transparent and to allow the Bar Council to be involved in the appointment of judges would not play much of a role in the nation’s progress.

He asserted the reform issues raised by the former minister, if not implemented, would not cause the nation to crumble, adding that Malaysians had lived all this while without them.

“Zaid claimed he wanted to reform the system and to save Umno but I don’t see how all the issues he mentioned will benefit the Malays or Umno,” added Muhkriz who is vying for the Umno Youth presidency.

There was this saying about the likeness of father and son...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Oct 6, 2008; PJ Sessions Court

Let's start with an easy question.

Do you think they can break him?

(Pic was taken at about 1.50pm, when the court broke for lunch. They had to move RPK into the temporary holding cell.)

Do you think they can break her?

This morning, a bunch who'd typically hate Mondays decided to move their butts in a show of love to the editor of M-Today. While Raja Petra was inside, a hundred No-to-ISA people milled outside uncertain if it would be a full session or another adjournment. A full-day session, so it turned out.

Good news, perhaps. In a couple of days, who knows, perhaps we'll get to the part where RPK dishes out the evidence on the Altantuya story. If i were Rosmah - and if there was any shred of truth in the RPK story - i'd be having stones in my kidneys.

And here's one man who's been tirelessly rallying Bangsa Malaysia to wake up, this time taking shots of people all over: the Indefatiguable Haris! Just what ginseng does he grow in his kebun?

Within that little fenced compound of the Sessions Court, the crowd filled its asphalt surface and went about talking, sharing, reassuring - creating the very stuff every chemist dreams about. Bonds.

The PJ Sessions court may be a shabby little enclave of justice, but it has its gems if one cares to see. And as the minutes tick into hours, one begins to discover pretty pockets unexpectedly tucked in corners of the building. Lessons no less. Happy accidents, for they were obviously unplanned. They speak of Freedom and how - with that space to thrive - even the coldest concrete structure gets a soul.

We must create that space, that condition. For tomorrow's sakes, it is now.

And of course, in closing:

Further readings:
The People's Parliament here and here.
Zorro's here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The price of being Sumatran

They were charged up to RM500 to get over to the other side of the straits. This Raya, it seemed the draw of home was worth it. And cruel brokers - stoked by money and greed - decided cold cash meant much more than these lives. Sumatran lives.

They were squeezed into an 80-person-capacity wooden boat - 140 of them - pushed to the rim, and barely 15 minutes out into the benign waters, they learned that 80 means 80 and never the double of it. Twelve bodies have been found. Crew from larger boats nearby pulled 113 to safety.

In the news reports, there was no mention of the hands behind this cruel deal. No names mentioned. No mention of what efforts the police are taking to track down the sick businessmen. Will it just blow away?

Twelve Sumatrans died on the eve of Raya, the rest lost their livelihood. And though it may be a time for forgiveness, i am not quite in the mood for that. This case has to be fully investigated. The culprits' names must be revealed. Bring down the full weight of the law on them that the ones guilty will forever remember their evil deed.

If i had my way, i'd take them out to sea. A one-way trip. On a paper boat.


Postscript: The Tioman Ferry Tragedy
i am reminded of another tragedy a year ago. Fire broke out in a ferry carrying 106 passengers bound for Tioman. They were forced to jump ship without adequate lifevests and seven lives were lost. We know the operator's business name - Seagull Express 2. Court proceedings started in September.

The five directors:
Law Ah Hwa @ Lau Khoon Chan, 62
Law Kohoon Huat, 58
Law Khoo Hock, 53
Law See Hock, 60
Hashim Mohd, 49

The boat captain:
Wan Fahrorozi Wan Naman, 35

Neither the Marine Department nor the Transport Ministry has been implicated although a Malaysiakini report said a group of survivors will likely sue for negligence.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beneath the sodium lamp - the vigil against ISA

You said it, Saffron Sister.


It grew out from Pasar Seni and an overcrowded Bar which was otherwise closed. Last night just as the Maghrib prayers cut the indigo air and our Muslim brethren gave thanks to another day of fasting, the candlelight vigil took root.

"Pegawai non-Muslim semua stand-by!" barked a senior-ranking cop. The Muslim cops had to break fast, and that was fine. They really didn't have to be there in the first place. We were only armed with resolve.

We took the path less traveled, the one trekked by WAMI. Wasn't a big group - 150-strong perhaps - which crossed over the bridge by Loke Yew Building, little people with paper fireflies. Spirited, principled. Civilised.

The usual bargaining. And a simple deal made between gentlemen, albeit without the warmth of a handshake - 10 mins to air the Message.

Songs were sung, brief speeches made, and a closing moment of silence. Short, sharp, sweet. And the candlelight troupe, having reached 15 metres from the flagpole, kept its deal and walked away.

And that's the little story few talked about last night - in contrast to the other arm, a mammoth march at a parallel street towards Puduraya.

Two scenarios unfolding almost simultaneously on two ends of the Padang. Two options for this govt to choose. Play it easy under the lonesome watch of sodium lamps without the drama and adrenaline, or draw the world's attention by remaining woefully stubborn and cruel.

Two options, but only one path - Free RPK, free the Hindraf 5, free all ISA detainees.

Pray they have the wisdom.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

'None but ourselves can free our minds'

He was 36 years young when he died. Born of a black mum and a white dad, Bob Marley was wise beyond his years. His songs are clear evidence. His unpretentious interviews equally so.

"I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white."
At another time, he once said (and so appropriate for the likes of Syed Hamid):
"Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know i'm not perfect and I don't live to be, but before you start pointing fingers...
make sure your hands are clean."

Bob Marley's got a message for you and me, from one tropical archipelago to another.

It's about redemption. And about freedom. And standing up to oppression. In these trying times, we mustn't fold. Keep the faith.

Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the 'and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfil de book.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.
/Guitar break/
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfil de book.
Won't you help to sing
Dese songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs -
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Karim Raslan's journalistic ampu

The problem with essentialising is that you end up with large gaping holes in your thesis. It's a convenient trick in mass comm. It's also lazy. Yet all too often, op-ed writers tend to make broad assumptions like they know the world from the comfort of their leather seats. Even sadder, they expect the reader to soak it all up uncritically.

Karim Raslan, in his column in the Straits Times (Singapore), wrote:

Still, there’s no doubt that Najib is one of Malaysia’s smartest politicians. He is well-read and has a rigorous mind. His unflappable disposition is well suited to the demands of governance. He presides over meetings effortlessly, can summarise discussions succinctly and understands the importance of prioritising issues. In technocratic terms, he far surpasses both Prime Minister Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and even Anwar, whose flamboyant style is less suited to the tedium of Cabinet life.

Oh really? And how do you know that? Worked closely with every one of those folks, have you? Enough to go about passing judgment. How astute. Cos if Najib's all that smart and rigorous, why then did you quote him later as saying this:
“We (Umno) are dominant and we have responsibilities to other races. The other races look up to Umno.”

So *poof!* goes the columnist's Najib-is-so-smart claim.

i'm Malaysian. i'm ethnic Chinese, and i don't give two hoots about Umno. If i were to shed a tear when Umno self-combusts and disappears from this earth, it will be a tear of joy. (For that matter, ditto MCA and MIC)

Karim's piece also posits the scenario that ..."Historically, there have been two centres of authority in Malay society: the masjid and the Istana — the first spiritual and the second temporal. There has always been a degree of tension between the two. Umno’s links are with the palace. The opposition Pas has a tight grip on the masjid. Despite what Anwar may envisage, this year could in fact presage a historic shift in power to the masjid."

Presumably Karim asserts that the Malay society is still in this low-resolution stasis.

i say no. i firmly believe Malay society is transcending such definitions (as are the other ethnic groups). There is a new meta-Malay emerging - a Malaysian Malay which sees a sanguine fusion of masjid and istana, observing no conflict between the two - and this Malay is being self-sculpted and imaged in the bedrock of the Pakatan Rakyat even as we breathe. It is from this lens that we can possibly explain the March 8 phenomenon and Permatang Pauh. Karim conveniently ignores this.

Once upon a time i thought Karim was a decent writer. i thought he was, well, astute. But, ah, how we all change with time.