Friday, March 27, 2015

It's official: Malaysia is now a Kakistocracy!


Kakistocracy: Governance by a clique representing the worst elements of society, from the Greek, kakos, meaning foul, or filthy.

In the case of Malaysia, the word kakistocracy may derive from kaki - the colloquial Malay word for "crony" or "accomplice in crime."

Meet the new Attorney-General?
Don't you think we deserve better?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Musings of a Memorable Prime Minister, Minister Mentor & Tormentor

Kuan Yew the 
Dog Trainer

“If you can select a population and they're educated and they're properly brought up, then you don't have to use too much of the stick because they would already have been trained. It's like with dogs. You train it in a proper way from small. It will know that it's got to leave, go outside to pee and to defecate. No, we are not that kind of society. We had to train adult dogs who even today deliberately urinate in the lifts.” ~ Lee Kuan Yew, 2013

On Racial Integration

"I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came, and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration – friends, inter-marriages and so on – than Muslims... I would say, today, we can integrate all religions and races, except Islam." 
~ Lee Kuan Yew, 2011

On Migrants

"According to history, Malays began to migrate to Malaysia in noticeable numbers only about 700 years ago. Of the 39 percent Malays in Malaysia today, about one-third are comparatively new immigrants like the secretary-general of UMNO, Dato' Syed Ja'afar Albar, who came to Malaya from Indonesia just before the war at the age of more than thirty. Therefore it is wrong and illogical for a particular racial group to think that they are more justified to be called Malaysians and that the others can become Malaysian only through their favour." ~ Lee Kuan Yew, 1964

On Succession

“That was my intention. If the new PM fails, I have failed… Mahathir never thought that way. He undermined his successors.” ~ Lee Kuan Yew, 2011

On Rule By Fear

"If nobody is afraid of me, I'm meaningless." ~ Lee Kuan Yew, 1997

Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923 ~ 23 March 2015)

Friday, March 13, 2015

From the Planet.... GONG! (In loving memory of Daevid Allen)

The Origins of Gong
Gong came into being almost by accident in the late sixties when Daevid Allen was refused entry back into Britain following European dates with Soft Machine. Deciding to stay in Paris, Allen began working alongside Gilli Smyth and various musicians on what would eventually become the phenomenal Gong.

The first recognized recordings from the band were Magick Brother, Mystic Sister (1970), followed by albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, and You.

Various permutations of Gong have worked together over the years under various names including Mother Gong, Expresso Gong, Gongmaison, Planet Gong, and so on and so forth. They have all included an amazing array of musical talent moving through the ranks, to name but a few: Didier Malherbe aka Bloomdido Bad de Grasse, Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlen, Mike Howlett, Steffi Sharpstrings, Tim Blake, Hugh Hopper, and Robert Wyatt.

Gongmaison came about in April 1989 after Daevid Allen's return to the UK and, more importantly, following a French gig with former Gong member Didier Malherbe (pictured left, the most amazing wind instrumentalist alive on Earth - but, alas, a fact known only to initiates of GAS - or the Gong Appreciation Society!).

The name "Gongmaison" alluded to the mixture of house/jazz that the band played at the time - which, in fact, was nearer to house music although it still contained all the relevant Gong elements of old. This video clip comes from the band's performance in the early nineties and was filmed at the Fridge in Brixton.

The line-up includes key members of Gong - Daevid Allen, Didier Malherbe and the wiccan poet Gilli Smyth aka Shakti Yoni (right) who developed her own vocal technique dubbed the Space Whisper. It was Shakti Yoni, in fact, who helped to craft Gong's elaborate cosmomythology through her inspired poetry and storytelling.

The impact of GONG on my life

In the early 1970s I was in the habit of shopping for LPs in Singapore. My favorite source was Sing & Co. on Hill Street because they always had some real finds in the cheap bin. On one such occasion I spotted three albums by an unknown band called Gong. Drawn to the cover art (which depicted Pot Head Pixies in their Flying Teapots), I bought two albums without a moment's hesitation - and I wasn't disappointed one bit! In fact, I couldn't wait to return a few weeks later for Angels Egg which I had been forced by budget constraints to leave behind :-)

In 1969 I had been subjected to electroshock therapy on account of the amazing "visions" I'd been experiencing - of contact with extraterrestrials and angels and an Earth reborn in rainbow splendor, gone the historical (and hysterical) nightmare of smelly politics, rotten economics, and perpetual war. Looking at the Gong album artwork and listening to their fantastic music enormously cheered me and reconnected me with my core being. In Gong I had found my own spiritual and musical family at last - indeed, I'd go as far as to say Gong helped me regain my cosmic equilibrium and PHP humor! [PHP in this instance refers, of course, to "Pot Head Pixie" - NOT "Hypertext Preprocessor"!]

Gong's music, I thought, was akin to dervish dancing in that it induced in the listener a beatific trance state, opening one's consciousness to the kaleidoscopic worlds awaiting our discovery within our own neurology. Through all the ensuing decades, Gong and everything they represent have served as trusty friends and soul-family.

I'm indeed overjoyed to learn that Gong is very much alive and well. Daevid Allen is now a still-spritely 69 and rumored to be living in Byron Bay, New South Wales. His latest project is the University of Errors and I recommend a leisurely tour for some exquisite mental stimulation and not a few hearty belly laughs.

OWLY SONG by Daevid Allen (animation by Merav Shacham aka Bananamoon)

Watch GONG live in Nottingham, 1990!

The entire 7-part concert is on YouTube but as I can't embed the videos here, just click on each segment (if you don't have the patience to sit through all of it, go for Part 5 where Didier goes wild on his Yamaha WX7!):

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4a | Part 4b | Part 5 | Part 6

Daevid Allen in 1975: Cozmik Mad Hatter, Wizard of the Keys, and Master of Fohat!

[First posted 20 June 2007]

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How about some pork with your porn? (repost)

It appears that in certain Third World countries with First World infrastructures, a sure way of finding yourself in prison is to publish pork-flavored porn.

Indeed, it doesn't even have to be real pork, as Alvin Tan (26) and Vivian Lee (25) recently discovered. You could post a photo of yourself enjoying some tonic bone soup and wishing your Muslim friends a happy breaking of fast during the month of Ramadan - and the assumption would be, because you happen to be of Chinese descent, you must be making fun of other people's religion by advertising the virtues of pork.

This perky young couple are enjoying some fried bean curd (or yu-char-kway) served in tonic bone soup

By now most Malaysians would have seen that ill-conceived photo of Alvivi (as the outrageous young couple call themselves) smiling happily as they dine on what looks like fried bean curd or crisp doughsticks (yu-char-kway) served in bak-kut-teh - a popular tonic bone soup made with whatever meat one fancies, though the commonest variety features various parts of a pig's anatomy. Some say bak-kut-teh is a genuinely Malaysian delicacy as the dish is apparently unknown in China.

I'm generally carnivorous myself - but if some militant vegan decides to post images of raw celery, carrots and beet on her facebook timeline, should I interpret that as an attempt to annoy me? I can imagine a hardcore vegetarian being repulsed by the sight of a sizzling steak, but is that enough reason to arrest anybody and accuse them of sedition? To make a huge fuss out of one's dietary taboos - whether based on religious dictates or personal preference - seems to me utterly absurd.

A year ago Alvivi raised eyebrows and blood pressures with their erotic blog where they had uploaded homemade videos of themselves having a romp or two in bed. For that Alvin Tan had his scholarship cancelled by the National University of Singapore (where he was studying law) and he and his faithful sidekick Vivian Lee subsequently returned to live in Malaysia. The couple has received an equal amount of brickbats as well as bouquets.

The more conservative were quick to condemn them for "bringing shame to their families." While many others openly expressed their admiration for the couple's derring-do and sheer cheek. I was among those who found myself marveling at these youngsters for having the nerve to act out what many people only dare fantasize about. They were, I felt, deliberately testing the limits - seeing how far they could go in their advocacy of sexual liberation and freedom of expression.

After all, it's no secret that at least 90% of the male population (the other 10% being congenital liars) - and perhaps 30% of females - regularly watches online porn. Before digital tech came along we had easy access to porn through pirate VCDs and DVDs. In my father's time, we had to be content with girlie magazines and naughty playing cards - unless we lived abroad in societies where commercialized sex has long been a major part of the national economy.

Compared to what is accessible online 24/7, Alvivi's homemade sex videos were amateurish and rated at most a single X, not XXX. What made Alvivi's porn blog titillating was the fact that they looked like the kids next door - and not some massive breasted Latina or Blonde shagging some black hunk with an 11-inch dick. Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee resembled a couple of energetic, fun-loving youngsters you might find yourself seated next to on the commuter train or at the cinema.

I was amused at the vehemence with which some traditionalists bayed for their blood. The overreaction was akin to witnessing a frenzied mob burn down a cinema just because someone had reported catching a fleeting glimpse of female nipples in some arty foreign film.

Stomping on a severed cow's head on 28 August 2009 to protest construction of a Hindu temple in their area

What is truly obscene, to me, is displaying the severed head of a cow - and even stomping on it - to express displeasure at the prospect of having a Hindu temple built in one's neighborhood. Not only is such a virulent species of intolerance intolerable in a multicultural reality, the act is akin to cursing the benevolence and generosity of Mother Nature - which is what the cow symbolizes in many ancient cultures, not just Hindu.

It all boils down to sheer hypocrisy. The same angry mob will then disperse and go home to download porn on their laptops.

As many have pointed out: if you serve the right political masters, you may screen pornographic material in a public place and get away with only a playful slap on the wrist. But if you happen to have the wrong skin color or religion, expect to have a whole library - or a 200-ton concrete structure - dumped on your head.

In a milieu where political correctness dictates that one is not allowed to use words like "dwarf" or "midget" in the presence of vertically challenged humans, being too tall can be deemed a punishable offence.

Trust the beansized-brain bozos in Umno to offer, as a possible remedy for cultural insensitivity, compulsory classes in Islamic civilization. Now if they had the good sense to be more inclusive and suggest that all civilizations are worthy of study, we would soon be enjoying heaven on earth.

Nobody likes having anything shoved down their throats. That's the clumsiest, stupidest and most obnoxious way of changing other people's mindsets. Young people will always gravitate towards ideas and information they find stimulating, exciting, funky, cool. Absolutely no way you can dig up a chunk of frozen mammoth dung and repackage it for the youth market as ice cream.

[First posted 21 July 2013]

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Swami Beyondananda’s State of the Universe 2015

Cosmic Comic Pundit Swami Beyondananda Calls for Evolutionary Upwising
“Either we will have an awakening, or there will be a wake.”  ~ Swami Beyondananda
Greetings, Mirthlings!
Welcome to the state of the Universe — which is of course, everchanging, same as always.
Here we are once again in the here and now, just like last year at this time.
So … are you finally ready to live in the now?
Good.  We have been waiting for you.  What took you so long?
With time rapidly becoming a thing of the past (the calendar’s days are numbered, you know) people are living in the now like never before. Listen, I know. I was a futurist in a past life. But now, I have no time for time. I am living all the time in the Timeless Now. I think they call that All-Timers.
Meanwhile, here on Earth — or as it is known throughout the galaxies, the Comedy Channel — a critical mass of the heretofore uncritical masses are awakening to a serious truth.  There’s something funny going on.
Take politics — please.
America’s two political parties spent $4 billion on the last election and it worked — the American people were soundly defeated.  Once again the Golden Rule was overruled by the rule of gold, and the Constitution overrun by the prostitution.  The result is government in greedlock and rule by a one-party system where we the people haven’t been invited to the party.
We don’t exactly have a name for this new system, although I think Futilism describes it pretty well.  Thanks to government for hire, voting has devolved into an act of futility.  Whether we vote Democratic or Republican, we seem to end up with Dempublicrats running things.
Now some mystics — pessimystics they are called — would look at this shituation and see a glass 95% empty.  As an optimystic I take the exact opposite position. I see a glass 5% full.
Yes, there is good news.
An evolutionary upwising is afoot, and left and right are coming front-and-center around a new common sense consensus.
In Colorado and now two other states, this has meant legalizing cannabis.  So what does this mean, other than in the Mile High State you can now legally get a mile higher?  For one thing it means a blooming economy selling transcendental medication.  Science is now finding that humans have THC receptors in the part of the brain called the “hippiecampus”.  When this area is stimulated, people see farce fields and laugh at invisible jokes.
There’s an old saying — and I know it because I myself made it up many lifetimes ago — the truth shall upset you free.  Once again in 2014, inconvenient truths exposed convenient lies. For example, now everyone knows our government is spying on us, and Public Enemy Number One appears to be none other than — the public.  Maybe the NSA needs to be balanced out by another three-letter organization, the ICU — Independent Citizens United, where citizens who intensively care about the rule of law can say, “I see you” and begin to oversee what we have until now chosen to overlook.
From Monotheism to Stereotheism, and a REAL Conspiracy
There was another sign of the upwising in 2014.  Pope Francis took a stand for social justice, making the Catholic Church more non-dominational.  And boy, are those purebred dogma breeders upset!  It just goes to show that maybe you CAN teach an old dogma, new tricks.
Maybe monotheism is evolving into stereotheism, where the same truth comes from multiple speakers, in many different languages, and some with no language at all.
After all, there is no harm in harmony, and no sin in synergy.  And in the end, every dogma must answer to the same Master.  Maybe if religions evolve in this way, John Lennon could imagine “no religion too” becoming “all religions true.”
And for those of us who want peace in the Middle East?
Let us first try peace in the Middle West.  A first step is to quiet our own barking dogmas, and listen to the silence.  Instead of just following the herd, follow the unheard … right into your own heart.  Imagine, Americans from all tribes coming into the same space of silence, and breathing together.  Now that would be a REAL conspiracy, and could expose and help us overgrow the con’s piracy we have now.
The evolutionary upwising calls on people everywhere to rise above the identity issues that each side serves up as dogma chow, and instead focus on the identical issues we face now — like being passengers and crew on Spaceship Earth, citizens and denizens of Gaia.
So, come on you Gaians!
Time to show your species’ pride.  And time to evolve from children of God to adults of Good.  Yes, I know.  We are collectively in this awkward tween phase called addled-essence.  Our essence has been addled by obsolete myth-conceptions.
A Three-Step Plan to Launch the Upwising
So, how do we un-addle our essence?  How do we launch this upwising to turn the funk into function, and leave the junk at the junction?
I’m glad I asked that question.
I have created a three-step program that is mathematically proven to work four times faster than 12-step.
If we want to have an upwising, we must wake up … wise up … and show up.
We must wake up to the awful truth and the awesome opportunity.  Yes the world is in serious condition, largely due to our conditioning to be serious.  Seriously.
And if the problem is serious, then the solution has to be humorous, right?  So we wake up laughing as we recognize that we’ve been running around in circles, chasing our tales.  These tales usually tell us that happiness is somewhere “out there”. It’s a sure sign of the upwising when those who’ve been in hot pursuit of happiness get struck by enlightening and realize, “Gee, I must have run right past it.”
And in this moment of fool-realization, we fully realize our foolishness and laugh in our own face.  This is called self-facing laughter, and it helps us illuminate our world from the inside out.  People ask me all the time, “How can I uplift humanity?” I take one look at their doomy and gloomy expressions and I say, “You can begin by uplifting the corners of your mouth in a smile.” When you feel the levitational pull giving you a natural face-lift, you are literally overcoming gravity.
Hearty laughter brings us from the static of the head to the ecstatic of the heart, and we take the second step to upwising — we wise up loving.  It has been said that the more we expand our hearts the less we will need to shrink our heads.  Beliefs lie in our head, love lives in our heart.  So … are you going to believe those lies?  Or live that love?  When you sacrifice being happy for being right, you know what they call it?  Smartyrdom.
With laughter and love helping us wise to the occasion, we take the third step.  We show up, living and giving.  Each of us has been given a special gift, just for entering.  So you are already a winner.  We are all here to let our light fully shine — the enlightened ones call this full-filament.  It is true that the unexamined life is not worth living, and equally true that the unlived life is not worth examining.  To “show up” means to live life fully, and foolly, laughing all the way.  Make a bucket list of all the undertakings you wish to undertake before being overtaken by the undertaker.  Express your unique love in the world, and make your life a work of heart.
Bring your gift to the party, and show up for the greatest show on earth — REALITY!  You know, reality.  That’s reality TV without the TV.  What a movie we’re in!  A cast of 7 billion, and all of humanity is in the hero’s role.  And the whole world is on the edge of its seat.  Will we achieve critical mass before we reach critical massacre?  Will there be an awakening, or a wake?
As the great baseball player / philosopher Willie Mays once said, “That’s what we’re going to play the game to find out.”
I end this 2015 State of the Universe with good news.  When it comes to transformation, we have all the time in the world. And that time is now.
May we wake up laughing and leave laughter in our wake.
© Copyright 2015 Steve Bhaerman.  All rights reserved.
If you’d like to wake up laughing, why not enroll in the Wake Up Laughing class?
Swami Beyondananda is a noted social uncommontator and spiritual political pundit (If anyone punned it, Swami punned it first) and is the alter ego and brainchild of author and humorist Steve Bhaerman.  Steve and Swami can be found at and on Twitter @swamibe.

Friday, March 6, 2015

THE GOD OF NO MERCY (revisited)

A 45-minute documentary on Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore and one of the world's remaining political strongmen. The film was seized by government officials (on orders of the home ministry) when it premiered at a private screening on 17 May 2008. Directed by Seelan Palay.

After viewing this well-researched and passionately produced doco on Singapore's Mr Hyde side, and figured it was high time Malaysians took a good hard look at the unwholesome aspects of Singapore's toy-townish tinsel and glitter image - especially those who express envy when comparing per capita incomes.

While Lee Kuan Yew's 31-year iron-fisted authoritarian rule - which, in truth, never ended since he created an advisory post for himself as "Minister Mentor" to the government - facilitated a prosperous, efficiently managed city-state whose dynamic economic growth far outshines all its Asean counterparts, Singapore's impressive status as a developed nation has been attained at an extremely high cost to other far more important human values.

Values like the ability of its citizens to think and feel and act freely and independently - rather than behaving like well-disciplined ants in a high-rise, multi-tiered, 24/7-monitored colony. Indeed, anyone who has seen The Matrix will easily identify with the predicament of the protagonist Neo after he swallows the Red Pill and begins to see beyond the glossy fa├žade of life in the gigantic discount emporium that represents Singapore's public image.

Seelan Palay exposes the cold-blooded, ruthless cruelty with which Lee Kuan Yew systematically destroyed his challengers, detractors and rivals in order to establish the Lee Dynasty, propped up by an obsequious bureaucracy of well-paid mandarins - while keeping the lower echelons of society eternally chained to a relentless and soulless economic juggernaut.

I'm reminded of an excellent joke I once heard wherein a foreign tourist visits a Chinese temple in Singapore dedicated to two deities, female and male. The tour guide explains that the Chinese strictly adhere to the concept of balance symbolized by the Yin-Yang. Pointing to the female deity statue, the guide says: "That one Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin... and over there the God of No Mercy, Kuan Yew."

It would appear that a very large worm has begun to turn in Singapore and a new generation of civil society activists has arisen who are demanding an end to Singapore's oligarchical plutocracy, modeled after the dystopian society portrayed in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.

Radical change is definitely in the air, on both sides of the Causeway!

[First posted 28 June 2009]


Friday, February 27, 2015

Rosmah Mansor, Uncrowned Queen of 'Putrakaya' ~ by KP Chee

I don’t recall when I first heard the name Rosmah Mansor, but I clearly remember that whatever was said about her wasn’t exactly flattering.

Indeed, I can’t think of any Malaysian public figure around whom swirls so many ugly rumors and who is more feared and loathed – apart from, of course, Mahathir Mohamad.

What is it about Rosmah Mansor that makes her such a controversial figure? Is it just her big hair and penchant for Birkin bags and multimillion ringgit bling-bling? Well, that doesn’t help her public image, that’s for sure – especially at a time when most Malaysians find themselves seriously burdened by the ridiculous cost of cars, houses, education; while prices keep going up as the ringgit shrinks in value with no corresponding rise in household incomes.

Born 10 December 1951 in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan, to schoolteacher parents, Rosmah holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Universiti Malaya, as well as a Master’s in sociology and agriculture from Louisiana State University, from which she graduated in 1978. She then joined Bank Pertanian as an executive and, in 1983, switched to property development with Island & Peninsular. Those were boom years in the local economy and Rosmah did extremely well selling expensive properties to nouveau-riche Umnoputras, especially political bigwigs.

There was talk that she was eyeing Rahim Thamby Chik, then Chief Minister of Melaka. However, her foxy instincts served her well and she redirected her feminine charms at another rising star in Umno, Najib Razak, then Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. In 1987, Najib divorced Tengku Puteri Zainah Tengku Eskandar, his first wife, and married Rosmah Mansor.

A Nasty Reputation

By 1991 Najib Razak had been appointed defence minister, which presented him with great opportunities to strengthen his political (and financial) position – while Rahim Thamby Chik was forced to step down as Chief Minister in 1994 after he was charged with statutory rape. The case was thrown out and Rahim Thamby Chik was quietly made chairman of Risda, a post he still holds, despite being recently found guilty of screening pornography at Carcosa Seri Negara.

Even as Najib Razak craftily navigated his way through the Byzantine intrigues of Umno politics, Rosmah Mansor was acquiring a nasty reputation in her own inimitable style. Stories began to circulate about her penchant for expensive trinkets and how she would unashamedly throw her weight around, intimidating owners of jewelry stores for outrageous discounts. One apocryphal tale relates how she even threatened to shut down the business if they didn’t accede to her demands – and having been appeased with the offer of a free gift worth tens of thousands, she simply took the gift and walked out without buying the item she had originally haggled over.

When news broke just before Bersih 2.0 that Rosmah Mansor had imported a $24 million diamond ring from a famous New York jeweler, most Malaysians were aghast at the cost - but found it easy to believe that she was perfectly capable of such unimaginable extravagance, considering her collection of Birkin bags worth approximately $150,000 each.

Soul Mortgaged

How does one explain such an unsavory personality trait? It has to be examined in the context of provincial Malay culture, which is still largely feudalistic at its core. Social status is extremely important to the rural psyche and any ambitious ego would certainly strive to amass sufficient material wealth and political influence to qualify for entry into the rarefied realms of the traditional aristocracy.

Some say Rosmah Mansor is Malaysia’s version of Dr Faustus, a respected scholar who, in his overweening ambition to unravel the secrets of the universe through the practice of dark sorcery, mortgages his soul to the Devil. In Rosmah’s case it isn’t knowledge that she craves, but queenly power. We are hardly surprised, then, that she would dub herself “First Lady of Malaysia” shortly after her husband’s anointment as sixth prime minister (or crime minister, as some prefer to call him) – a title reserved for the wives of presidents or, in the case of Malaysia, the Raja Permaisuri Agong.

Her desperate hunger for self-glorification knows no bounds. This is, in fact, her greatest weakness, and it has been exploited by her business proxies who conspire to gratify her enormous ego with “sponsored” accolades like the dubious “International Peace and Harmony Award” conferred on her on 16 April 2010 by the Business Council for International Understanding in New York. This was commemorated with a double-page full-color ad in the New York Times which was signed off: “Best wishes from family and friends in USA and Malaysia.” A full-page black-and-white ad in the prestigious New York Times can cost up to $230,000 (RM736,000). It has been estimated that a double-page full-color center-spread would cost at least twice that amount.

On 11 February 2012 Curtin University, which enjoys close ties with the Malaysian education ministry, conferred an honorary doctorate on Rosmah Mansor. This news triggered a wave of ridicule and outrage, particularly among former Curtin graduates who protested that the university had debased and degraded itself by pandering to the whims of the widely-loathed FLOM (acronym for First Lady of Malaysia which those with barbed tongues often read as Fat Lady of Malaysia).

To be fair, we must concede that Rosmah certainly possesses enough smarts to have earned that doctorate, since she obtained her Master’s degree from Louisiana State University long before she achieved notoriety as Najib Razak’s spouse.

Indeed, on 7 May 2012, Rosmah acquired another honorary doctorate, this time from the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjong Malim – and on 20 June 2013 she was conferred yet another honorary doctorate and even made an honorary professor – but this time the news created hardly a ripple, since it was from  Kazakhstan University (and everybody knows Rosmah’s daughter, Nooryana Najwa, is married to Daniyar Nazarbayev, step-nephew of the President of Kazakhstan).

FLOM Fiasco

Ironically, the more vainglorious one’s ego, the less admirable one appears in other’s eyes. Surrounding herself with sycophantic courtiers and obsequious bottom feeders, Rosmah has turned into a walking caricature of evil personified, reminding us of Walt Disney’s tyrannical witch queen Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (who commands a palace guard of mindless minions ever ready to defend her public image against all detractors). 

Indeed, such is her clout around the palace in 'Putrakaya' (where those who have gained instant wealth by manipulating an “affirmative” economic policy based on spurious notions of racial supremacy have entrenched themselves) she has been granted hundreds of millions for her assorted pet projects – none of which is subject to public scrutiny or financial accountability – and even her own quasi-governmental department with a salaried staff. When the FLOM website was launched, the public outcry was so loud it was quickly shut down within days.

Although Rosmah’s distinctive hairdo (which resembles a pharaonic headpiece) has been the brunt of political cartoonists (notably Zunar) she has nonetheless been taken seriously enough by world leaders like Lee Kuan Yew, who insisted on paying her a personal visit during his official Malaysian tour in June 2009. Speculation was rife about what might have been discussed. Political pundits pointed to Lee’s paying Rosmah homage as a clear sign that she was indeed the real power behind her pink-lipped husband’s throne.

When Rosmah flew to the 4th Qatar International Businesswoman’s Forum on a government-funded executive jet – and then stopped over in Dubai to do some shopping and hobnob with Princess Haya, wife of the ruler of Dubai – another hue and cry was raised in parliament by the opposition. Under questioning it was revealed that the average “official” flight costs nearly RM500,000. Less than a week earlier, the nation had been shocked to learn that Rosmah and Najib’s annual electricity bill amounted to RM2.2 million.

Red Queen and Knaves

Clearly, the problem with Rosmah Mansor is that she revels in the imaginary splendor of living the luxurious lifestyle of ancient queens in an age when such excesses only invite disgust and odium. Nevertheless, to the BN ministers beholden to her husband, Rosmah can do no wrong and they have stuck their necks out in her defence.

Deepak Jaikishan
Rosmah Mansor was at one time close to carpet seller Deepak Jaikishan who scurried around doing her every bidding and lavishing on her gifts of expensive jewelry in exchange for business favors. 

Then something soured the relationship and Deepak began to hold media conferences denouncing the FLOM and even released online a poorly written book (The Black Rose) detailing her reliance on talismans and magical spells. Not too many eyebrows were raised, however, as Malaysians had long known about Rosmah’s superstitious dependence on dark sorcery, even dubbing her “Perempuan Puaka” (meaning witchy woman).

In the digital age, not many take seriously the idea of black magic or voodoo – and perhaps that is why they can unwittingly succumb to it. How so? The secret history of political power on this earth has from time immemorial been associated with occult forces. In The Origins of Man and Universe: The Myth that Came to Life the mystic philosopher Barry Long hypothesized that the first tribal chiefs were shamans whose advanced psychic powers awed and intimidated others into following their vision of reality. Despite all the trappings of modernity a vast majority of people still cling to a superstitious belief in sorcery – and it is this barely concealed fear of the unknown that makes them susceptible to being hypnotized and subtly possessed by strongly focused wills.

When Najib Razak was nominated Umno president by 191 allegedly bought-off party division chiefs and installed as prime minister on 3 April 2009, video footage revealed a beaming Rosmah Mansor luxuriating in her moment of victory. Very quickly a strange pall of petty bickering descended upon the opposition parties, resulting in a slew of defections, which had a depressing effect on an electorate yearning for radical change.

Call it what you will – dark sorcery or voodoo – the effects aren’t always spectacular or even visible to the unobservant eye. More often the spell cast upon an unsuspecting populace merely enfeebles their resolve, dilutes their aspirations, and brings out the worst in their own psyches. 

The sense of larger community is replaced by aggressive surges of communal self-interest; individual egos become more isolated in their sense of separateness from others – and therefore more prone to acts of violence against others when threatened by acute financial despair.

Tim Burton released his version of the classic Alice in Wonderland in 2010 which carried a strong undercurrent of social and political commentary. In Burton’s film, decay and entropy lay waste to a once beautiful world, and the inhabitants are subdued and oppressed by fascist control mechanisms. Under the Red Queen's demented and tyrannical rule, Wonderland becomes Underland - a subterranean dream/nightmare with surreal overtones, where the Jubjub Bird and the Frumious Bandersnatch and the Burbling Jabberwock serve as the Red Queen's law enforcement agencies. A riot squad of playing cards stands ready to quell rebellion with the Underlandish equivalent of tear gas and water cannons - and bloodhounds are blackmailed into the Knave of Hearts's secret service.

Alice slays the Jabberwock
But all ends well when the innocent and pure-hearted Alice arrives in Underland, summoned by the White Rabbit (who symbolizes a civil service loyal to the land and not a specific political faction), wields the Vorpal Sword (of enhanced intelligence) and lops off the head of the Jabberwock (the Specter of May 13 and divide-and-rule politics). The White Queen reclaims her throne, life springs anew, and joy returns to Bolehland, oops, I mean, Wonderland.  

[From Malaysia Chronicle, 21 November 2013. First posted 14 January 2014]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Money A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion (repost)

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion
We are indebted to The Onion  for this up-to-the-minute report:

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world's largest economy. "Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we.... if we " said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. "You know what? It doesn't matter. None of this so-called 'money' really matters at all."

"It's just an illusion," a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. "Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless." According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, "Oh my God, he's right. It's all a mirage. All of it - the money, our whole economy - it's all a lie!" Screams then filled the Senate Chamber as lawmakers and members of the press ran for the exits, leaving in their wake aisles littered with the remains of torn currency.

As news of the nation's collectively held delusion spread, the economy ground to a halt, with dumbfounded citizens everywhere walking out on their jobs as they contemplated the little green drawings of buildings and dead white men they once used to measure their adequacy and importance as human beings.

At the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday morning's opening bell echoed across a silent floor as the few traders who arrived for work out of habit looked up blankly at the meaningless scrolling numbers on the flashing screens above.

"I've spent 25 years in this room yelling 'Buy, buy! Sell, sell!' and for what?" longtime trader Michael Palermo said. "All I've done is move arbitrary designations of wealth from one column to another, wasting my life chasing this unattainable hallucination of wealth." "What a cruel cosmic joke," he added. "I'm going home to hug my daughter."

Sources at the White House said President Obama was "still trying to get his head around all this" and was in seclusion with his coin collection, muttering "it's just metal, it's just metal" over and over again. "The president will be making a statement very soon," press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. "At the moment, though, his mind is just too blown to comment."

A few U.S. banks have remained open, though most teller windows are unmanned due to a lack of interest in transactions involving mere scraps of paper or, worse, decimal points and computer data signifying mere scraps of paper. At a Bank of America branch in Spokane, WA, curious former customers wandered aimlessly through a large empty vault, while several would-be robbers of a Chase bank in Columbus, OH reportedly put their guns down and exited the building hand in hand with security guards, laughing over the inherent absurdity of the idea of $100 bills.

Likewise, the real estate industry has all but vanished, with mortgage lenders seeing no reason to stop people from reclaiming their foreclosed-upon homes. "I don't even know what we were thinking in the first place," said former banker Nathan Collins of Brandon, MS, as he jimmyed open a door to allow a single mother and her five children to move back into their house. "A bunch of people sign a bunch of papers, and now this family has no place to live? That's just plain ludicrous."

The realization that money is nothing more than an elaborate head game seems to have penetrated the entire country: In Wilmington, DE, for instance, a collection agent reportedly broke down in joyful sobs when he informed a woman on the other end of the phone that he had absolutely no reason to harass her anymore, as her Discover Card debt was no longer comprehensible.

For some Americans, the fog of disbelief surrounding the nation's epiphany has begun to lift, with many building new lives free from the illusion of money.

"It's back to basics for me," Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. "I'm going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I'll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I'll pay for it in lettuce."

When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain. "That's a lot of vegetables, isn't it?" he said.

The Onion © 2010

[Brought to my greatly amused attention by Olivia de Haulleville. First posted 16 March 2010]