Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Basiran Nasional? ... Embarisan Nazional? ... Barbarisan Nastianal? ... Borosan Nasikangkang?

Once again, with apologies to Malaysiakini, I just have to repost this classic from the indefatigable Dean Johns...

What BN really stands for
Dean Johns
14 March 2012 / Malaysiakini

On the face of it this is painfully obvious, at least to most Malaysians. BN stands for Barisan Nasional, the coalition that has ruled them increasingly crookedly and incompetently for the past half-century.

But as ‘Barisan Nasional’ means ‘National Front’, the question remains what and who BN is a front for, and how much longer it can get away with all the ugly realities it strives to hide behind its carefully-crafted facade.

How much longer, for example, can some apparently sentient Malaysians keep taking it seriously as ‘Barisan Nasional’, when, as I pointed-out in a column some months ago, BN is so evidently a front for what could justly be called ‘Basiran Nasional’?

I recall that at the time several readers complained of my calling BN ‘basi’, which I had discovered in my trusty pocket Malay-English dictionary to mean “stale, rotten, out-of-date”, on the grounds that it was abusive.

An accusation to which my response was and remains that, after 54 dreary years in power, BN has come to stand for so much that is basi, not to mention buruk and busuk, that it’s ridiculous.

And if this plainly evident fact strikes anyone as abusive, or even ABUsive, I’m delighted. BN has subjected Malaysia and Malaysians to such an intolerable burden of abuse, of everything from public funds to human rights and civil liberties that no amount of verbal abuse by me or anyone else can come close to restoring the balance.

Especially in view of the fact that the rot goes on unabated, so that Barisan/Basiran seems to be not just a false front or throwback to the dim, dark ages, but a veritable Barahsan Nasional.

Cancer mutated into conspiracy

A cancer that has grown from barely-detectable beginnings in a formerly apparently benign political coalition, and mutated and metastasised into a malignant criminal conspiracy that threatens the livelihoods and even the lives of Malaysian citizens.

If you think I’m exaggerating in the life-and-death department, take a look at the what BN expects Malaysians to Barinsanely stand for at the hands of their Nasional law-enforcement agencies.

Not only the unexplained, uninvestigated and of course unpunished homicide of ‘suspects’ in staged ‘shoot-outs’ and in custody, and charges and counter-charges between senior police and law officers allegedly in league with organised crime, but such dereliction of ordinary, everyday duties that communities have to pay private security organisations to ensure their own and their families’ safety, and the fatality rates on Malaysia’s pathetically-policed roads are 10 times of those in countries like the UK and Australia.

Then there’s BN’s legendary standing as Borosan Nasional, extravagantly spending and squandering so much public money on its members and their relatives and cronies as to threaten to reduce the rakyat to ruin.

The prime minister and his shopaholic consort spend fortunes jet-setting around the world and throwing glitzy parties using either public funds or mysteriously-amassed millions of their own. Billions disappear in ‘commissions’ on submarines, armoured personnel carriers and other ‘defence’ deals, and countless more billions go missing in ‘soft loans’, ‘bail-outs’ and ‘development’ schemes and scams.

And in case the poor suckers who pay for all this get wise to how wantonly they’re being cheated, short-changed, ripped-off, and thus take to complaining or - horror of horrors - avenging themselves at the ballot-box, there’s the ultimate expression of what BN stands for, Barisandiwara Nasional.

What a show of shows this is. What a dazzling display of deception, trickery, illusionism and sleight-of-hand. Roll up, roll up and see BN’s ‘world’s best democracy’, never mind BN’s world-class anti-democratic laws, phoney BN ‘reforms’, rigged BN electoral system and BN ‘transformations’ that turn out to be just more of the same old BN transfornications.

Tune-in to the BN show-trials of opposition leaders, and selected scapegoats in BN scandals where ‘justice’ has to be seen to be done by a hand-picked BN judiciary.

Sit through years of fraudulent BN ‘inquests’ and ‘royal commissions’ that eventually end but never come to any actual, actionable conclusions.

See, hear and read all the exciting, sordid details of BN allegations against its critics and opponents, and thrill to the thunderous silence about BN crimes and misdeeds in the BN-biased ‘news’ media.

Chorus of sectarian discord

Feel the peace, love and harmony of a BN-united 1Malaysia, and never mind the dreadful din of the BN-conducted chorus of racial and sectarian discord.

Barisan Nasional is no doubt a front for many more evils than those I’ve identified among those that BN stands for.

But I’m right on deadline for this column, so I haven’t much time to come up with any others. In any case, despite my ownership of the dictionary I mentioned up front, I’ve pretty well exhausted my store of BN-appropriate Malay words.

Or to put this another way, I’m monolingual or what I guess you could call homotextual in English, unlike many of you readers in Malaysia who, ‘homo’ being a no-no, are pretty well all heterolingual or even heteroliterate and thus far better-equipped to come up with some more ideas.

But whatever language we all manage to communicate in, I’m sure that the vast majority of us are on the same page when it comes to BN.

Only a 1Malaysiac, 1Malaysiaccomplice or 1Malaysiaccessory would stand for another minute of Barisan, Basiran, Barahsan, Barinsane, Borosan, Barisandiwara or any other kind of Nasional anyone can think of that BN stands for.

With the notable exception, of course, of the words that those of us who can’t stand BN for another minute would love to see come true: Burysan Nasional.

DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include Mad about Malaysia, Even Madder about Malaysia, Missing Malaysia and 1Malaysia.con.

[First posted 15 March 2012, reposted 3 December 2013]

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Grey Filastine ~ Visionary Poet, Percussionist & Prophet of the Apocalypse

A selection from Filastine's YouTube channel

Photo: Max Shay
A longtime Seattle resident, Filastine has been a part of the hammering rhythm section of anticapitalist tribal-rock/performance troupe ¡Tchkung!, conceiver and founding member of radical marching band Infernal Noise Brigade, and, most recently, a sweat-inducing club DJ and composer of wildly diverse and drrty laptop music.

In short, he has spent his artistic life heretofore straddling the line between unrelentingly political statement and action, and the lost-in-music euphoria of the broadest possible definition of pop music. His debut album, Burn It (on kindred avant spirit DJ /rupture’s UK-based Soot Records), steams with juddering hiphop/modern R&B rhythms, South American breaks, North African trance, and a grip of vocal and instrumental contributors from every corner of the world.

Recent years have seen an overwhelming influx of Asian and Middle Eastern textures in pop production, with gargantuan hits like “Get Ur Freak On,” “Baby Boy,” and “Toxic” threading undulating tablas, screeching Bollywood strings, etc. into their black-lit melodrama. While some of Burn It’s tracks mine these veins in a way just as instantly gratifying and club ready, Filastine’s appropriations are more legit.

A voracious traveler and student of various global musics, he has studied with Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, spent weeks at the feet of the Master Musicians of Jajouka, and dug deep into the ancient-to-the-future music of Brazil. Like many great producers, Filastine is also a great instrumentalist, and his years of rhythmic study lend magnificent depth to Burn It’s varied and intricate programming. [Source:]

[Thanks to Gino 'Der Hammer' Galan for alerting me to this extraordinary guy, Filastine, who can magically transmute ugliness into beauty, despair into hope ~ the mark of an authentic artist-shaman! First posted 24 June 2012, reposted 19 November 2013]

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


I became aware of the cosmic backdrop to my own existence only at the age of 19, following a spontaneous kundalini experience which opened up my chakras to the perception of multidimensionality. In that heightened state of awareness which mystics call satori (Japanese) or samadhi (Sanskrit), there is absolutely no doubt that every single atom is a living entity endowed with consciousness and that we are integral parts of a magnificent and mysterious web of dynamic energies governed by precise mathematical, musical, and geometric principles.

In effect, to conduct our human lives upon this earth with so little consideration of other lifeforms - mineral, vegetable, animal, elemental, angelic, and deific - is a recipe for calamity and eco-apocalypse.

Yet, that is how most humans have been programmed over the course of many generations - particularly since the introduction of alphanumeric intelligence and the start of so-called history (which really exposes the Male bias, because what about herstory?)

The difference between Aboriginal and Industrial consciousness can be found in the divide between Animism and Book Religion. The animistic mind experiences life as a magical continuum and anything and everything can be charged with spiritual power, even a rock or a river or a tree or a bird.

However, the industrial mind tends to quantify and calculate and manipulate, opting for an anthropocentric, anthropomorphic view of the concept of sacredness or divinity. The notion of God as Father or Celestial Lord (with no reference to the Mother Principle or Earth Goddess) marks the beginning of our self-destructive hubris as a technology-using and abusing species.

Technology is neutral and can be useful (Internet, digital video, free chat) or totally useless (nuclear weaponry, top-secret crowd and climate control tech like ELF and HAARP and chemtrails).

HAARP: the secret technology of climatological warfare?
Unfortunately, the warlike gene in Homo sapiens, fueled by testosteronal urges, has pushed us into an evolutionary dead-end where more than 75% of our precious resources are squandered on warfaring when they could easily be utilized for welfaring (to paraphrase holistic thinker Bucky Fuller).

No doubt a tiny cabal of well-connected families profit obscenely from perpetual war - while the rest end up enslaved by a benighted economic system or wiped out by large-scale epidemics and unnatural disasters (I won't discuss the possibility of man-made earthquakes, droughts, cyclones and tsunamis but the debate rages on this). Now if you're curious where this is leading... I'm suggesting we take stock of our ontological bearings and re-valuate what our Book Religions have indoctrinated us into unquestioningly believing: that Man is the Crown of Creation, granted dominion over Nature by none other than the Archetypal Patriarch, God Himself! This mode of thinking severs us from the flow of life, makes us insensitive to natural beauty and harmony, and causes us to believe we have a right to colonize other lifeforms and cultures and build vainglorious empires wherever we go. And yet it has been the dominant ethos of human civilizations (so-called) since the Year Dot.

To understand where this imperialistic and warlike tendency originates, we shall have to open our minds to the distinct possibility that our "creator gods" were not some "Supreme Being" - but a very much watered-down shadow aspect of the Procreative Force. Sumerian cuneiform tablets dating back 6,000 years refer to these creator gods as Anunnaki; and in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, they are called the Nephilim (meaning: "Those Who from Heaven Fell to Earth"). This is a very large study and I shall skip the details, leaving the reader a few links with which to begin in-depth research, if so prompted.

The way out is also the way back in to our own Core Essence - which is a fractal of the Nuclear Intelligence of All Existence. It doesn't create and enforce artificial hierarchies, nor does it demand sheeplike obedience, or exclusive worship. The idea of a "jealous god" that we should fear is utter crap!

What Nuclear Intelligence does do is EMPOWER each of us as INDIVIDUALS to reclaim our evolutionary heritage as Cosmic Citizens sojourning on a beautiful physical planet who has undertaken our education, redemption and transformation even as she prepares to quantum jump to the next spiral of her own evolution as a baby star. When we realign our core beings with Mother Earth and Father Sun, our agendas and priorities will also get realigned and rectified. Spiritual maturity, physical beauty and cosmic wisdom will become our goals - not economic, political and military dominance over others!

Antares © 2008

[First published 23 May 2008 under the heading "ALL RIGHT, PEOPLE, TIME TO WAKE UP!!!"... Reposted 5 December 2013]

Sunday, April 15, 2018

In Response to the lovely Lisa Lee (updated & revisited)

Early one morning in January 2009 a very charming blogger left this comment on my blog after I had gone to bed. She made some pertinent statements about Malaysian politics that prompted me to respond at length. I feel this exchange deserves to be upgraded to a blogpost in its own right rather than left in the comments section... (thanks for inspiring this post, Lisa!)...

Lisa Lee said on Jan 17, 2009 @ 4:32 AM MYT:

Honestly, I do wonder if BN will ever lose control? Because the livelihood of many will be affected. Peace and harmony is my hope for Malaysia.

The thought of BN losing may impact so many people and for this reason, I hope peace prevails. Desperation sets in and who knows what may happen.

Having said that, I hope that Pakatan Rakyat would be a strong cohesive Opposition. Maybe not take over in this sitting but next election, consolidate their hold in Malaysia.

I do hope that Malaysia will be like USA (Democrats vs Republicans) and England (Labor vs Conservative) - in a sense that we will have a strong two party system to have the check and balance there.

Can you share your views on this? I like to learn from you. TQ :)

My dear Lisa,

Imagine you're a princess adopted as a baby by pirates who slaughtered your parents, ransacked the palace, and set themselves up as the new government of the land. They spared your life because you were cute and harmless and posed no threat to them (even pirates must have some vague memory of almost-forgotten human feelings). In fact, the pirate king saw that you were destined to blossom into a true beauty and fancied he could acquire royal status by marrying you once you were of age.

In other words, you grew up knowing no other authority apart from this band of brigands who began to dress quite well and were soon able to pass themselves off as "respectable folk." Nobody dared inform you who your real parents were and as time passed you came to regard the pirate king as a beloved uncle and trusted him implicitly. After all, he did possess a sort of rakish charm and was actually quite a clever chap (though some might call it "rat cunning"). He told you stories about how he had heroically rescued you from the evil clutches of an ogre and now you owed your life to him and were duty-bound to wed him.

One day, walking through a forest, you chance upon a humble cottage and out of curiosity decide to find out who lives there. As you approach the cottage, the front door swings open and a smiling old man steps out to offer you a cup of tea. You accept and soon find yourself engaged in deep conversation with this mysterious hermit of the woods, who reveals the truth of what happened to the land when you were just a newly born.

The old man shares with you a secret that forever changes your destiny. He was the loyal adviser to your biological parents, the King and Queen of this land, who were cruelly murdered by the marauders. He managed to escape the massacre and fled to the forest along with a handful of others who have long awaited the day you were old enough to rule the land as the rightful Queen. For years this band of survivors have lived in hidden caves, dreaming of the day when they would be strong enough to reclaim the land and liberate it from pirate dominion. He concludes by asking you if you are ready to take your place as the leader of these true patriots who desire to see the end of pirate misrule and justice restored.

Now, this is your current dilemma, Lisa. Having known no other form of government apart from the piratic (and parasitic), can you remember what true leadership is all about? Pull the wool from your eyes and you will see that for decades the Barisan Nasional has attracted mostly those who seek to aggrandize and enrich themselves at the expense of the land and of the people. They care little for the sufferings of the common folk and even less for the health and well-being of the land itself, having inherited the rapacious tendencies of their pirate ancestors who understood only rape, pillage and plunder.

In the name of greed, these self-serving parasites continue to destroy the landscape through mining, logging and insensitive "development." They support those who share their own destructively uncreative urges - namely, ruthless businessmen with megalomaniacal tendencies - while suppressing, through barbaric and repressive laws, all those who desire to see the wealth of the land equally and wisely shared.

In effect, dear Lisa, the simplistic scenario I have outlined is a parable for the sort of misgovernance we have been subject to on this planet for countless generations - a top-heavy Humpty-Dumpty sort of power structure wherein the most aggressive and unprincipled amass the greatest amount of wealth and then proceed to hijack the processes of government via almost absolute control of the mass media, education and financial systems, even religious institutions (I mean especially!).

However, the time has come for those who truly love the land - and I mean Planet Earth - to reclaim our sovereign power as conscious individuals, liberating ourselves from generations of inherited robotism (living our lives according to factory defaults) and fatalism (believing it is our lot to suffer in this "vale of tears").

We must think globally (nay, universally) and act locally. So in Malaysia our foremost duty as true patriots is to remove Barisan Nasional completely from power - because they have abused the power entrusted them for too many generations.

In the most basic terms, BN must not retain control of the police force, the national purse, and the mass media. Those are the mechanisms by which they have ruled us through fear and greed - a powerful combination of intimidation and bribery. Any population subject to such misgovernance eventually becomes infantilized, demoralized, and dehumanized.

Ultimately, we shall be turned into a nation of human robots while our energy and spirit are vampirically depleted by an elite cabal of demonically possessed humans devoid of compassion and empathy... UNLESS we succeed in booting out these piratic and parasitic entities and replacing them with open-minded, open-hearted leaders who genuinely believe that being a public servant means precisely that - you serve the public, not private interests!

There isn't a single individual in Umno/BN I can name as somebody I love, respect and trust.

On the other hand, there are many in the various component parties of Pakatan Harapan I wholeheartedly applaud and support in their candidacy to lead and govern. Among these I would unhesitatingly name Anwar Ibrahim, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Tony Pua, Gobind Singh Deo, Mat Sabu, Rafizi Ramli, Liew Chin Tong, Wong Chen, Sivarasa Rasiah, Tian Chua, Nizar Jamaluddin, Dyana Sofya, Zairil Khir Johari, Elizabeth Wong, Hannah Yeoh, Azmin Ali, Guan Eng and Kit Siang, Teresa Kok, Teo Nie Ching, Charles Santiago, Husam Musa, Khalid Samad, Dzulkefly Ahmad, Salahudin Ayub, Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Dr Nasir Hashim, Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, and S. Arutchelvan (I have omitted many others but these few are the ones that immediately spring to mind).

Apart from the professional politicians, we now have the civil society movement and a slew of dynamic NGOs - a loose coalition of public intellectuals and true patriots consisting of popular figures like Adam Adli, Hishamuddin RaisHaris Ibrahim, Ambiga Sreenevasan, Maria Chin AbdullahMalik Imtiaz Sarwar, Kua Kia SoongWong Chin HuatAzmi Sharom, Cynthia Gabriel; and countless other politically aware citizens (including myself). And, don't forget, public intellectuals like Toh Kin WoonZaid Ibrahim, Amir Muhammad, Pang Khee Teik and Din Merican who will certainly play a significant role in reshaping the new Malaysia once the country is free of this stubborn and debilitating disease called BN.

Lisa, the only people who will be terribly upset when BN loses control of the police and Petronas are an overfed coterie of fat-cat capitalists who have enjoyed more than 30 years of monopolistic access to the nation's resources and established huge empires based on political patronage. The competent managers amongst them will be able to adapt and continue doing well under a new government - so long as they genuinely serve the public good. Those who have corruptly made their money as crony rent-seekers will either be allowed to retire in comfort (if they donate a fair portion of their ill-gotten gains to charity) or face a therapeutic spell in prison.

While de facto Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim languishes in jail, his old enemy Dr Mahathir
unexpectedly emerges from retirement to lead the charge against the Umno kleptocracy (Malaysiakini)

When Pakatan Harapan takes over as government, it will not exactly be a one-party management. With PKR, DAP and Amanah joining forces with Dr Mahathir's Parti Bersatu as equal partners, there will effectively be at least three different political ideologies - many more if you include a few independent parties from Sabah and Sarawak, plus the remains of Gerakan and PPP - working together (preferably in perfect harmony and hopefully with minimal friction) towards one common goal - the rescue of Malaysia from the economic and ethical doldrums and the creation of a healthy national ethos in which every citizen regardless of skin color, culinary preferences and creed can at last feel a sense of belonging - and therefore a sense of authentic pride.

It remains to be seen whether Umno will survive as the Opposition. Without its reactionary and dangerous Ketuanan Melayu agenda - and suddenly deprived of the chance to carry on robbing the nation - these descendants of pirates will almost surely disintegrate as a political party. Those individuals amongst them with any intelligence and ability whatsoever will swiftly realize that the horse is DEAD - kaput, finito, expired - and proceed on foot till they reach the next oasis where they will rest and reassess their lives and, insyallah, come to their senses and become decent human beings.

No, Lisa, we don't want Malaysia to become like America or Britain where the illusion of democracy, not the real thing, prevails. We don't want a Tweedledum and Tweedledee type of two-party system (like the Donkey and Elephant parties or the Tories and Whigs). In fact, we don't want to be obsessed with government and politics any longer than we need!

What we want is a clean, efficient administration that will work quietly and with minimal histrionics to ensure that everyday life just keeps getting easier and pleasanter for more and more of the population. Ultimately, the government of a country ought to be just like the plumbing in your house - we don't want to be distracted by it or even notice it. A properly designed plumbing system carries out its functions unobtrusively, without complaint, and with negligible maintenance problems. Indeed, the plumbing in a well-built house ought to last at least a hundred years!

With government out of the way and internalized, we will at long last become a nation of self-governing individuals with nothing to stop us from each fulfilling our true destinies as free citizens and achieving our maximum potential as evolving humans.

And, take my word for it, Lisa dear. It's NOT going to take another two generations. Perhaps two terms under a new, enlightened government!

[First posted 17 January 2009, reposted 14 December 2013]

Monday, April 9, 2018

Stories Old and New... That's Right, Folks... It's Just Stories... Stories Within Stories!

My Family Constellation
(with 3 missing siblings who didn't survive entry)
HIStory is just the story of the Father Principle - which, many thousands of years ago supplanted HERstory, the story of the Mother Principle. When the Father and Mother Principles realign, reattune and reharmonize - we experience the Sacred Union of Sun and Moon, Yang and Yin, Male and Female. 

Then the world - or our collective experience of reality - becomes OURstory (although such a word and such a world does not yet exist, but as soon you have read and understood this sentence, it shall!)... and then I can continue to write MYstory, which has always been, and shall always be, a Mystery.

On the fourth day of the 11th Gate Master Cylinder, Solara got all of us into small groups so we could write the closing chapter of our Old Stories. Then one day after the Activation Ceremony, we got together again to write the first chapter of our New Stories. Every one of us is essentially a Story - either well or badly told but nonetheless a Story. A Story badly told can be rewritten so it becomes readable. A Story well told will eventually be made into a Blockbuster!


Blessings upon my Godfather (Dr Peter Tong Kwok Kee) for pointing out the stars to me when I was just a few months old - and for igniting in me the spark of intelligence.

I was pretty normal until my 18th year when I stumbled upon the Book of Tao, read the first verse, and had goosebumps.

A year later I realized - much to my surprise and delight - that I was, in truth, God incarnate.

That got me in the mental asylum for three months. The only way I could secure my release was to renounce my divinity.

The next 20 years of my life were a slow process of reassembling the scattered pieces of the gigantic jjgsaw puzzle of my multidimensional being.

Finally most of the pieces fell into place and I regained access to the whole enchilada.

The problem now was, I was afraid to reveal who I truly was - in case I got put away again.

Just as well, because my 40 years in the desert gave other aspects of myself time to awaken and reclaim their vastness - so it became safe to finally proclaim my Godhood - safety in numbers!

But the greatest joke of all, it was no longer necessary, no longer important nor significant to be "divine" or to even identify with any primordial, deific, or noble lineage.

I was content to simply be a human being.

I still am. And although I'm a little curious about how it might feel to NOT exist, I'm in no hurry to experience the Ultimate Nothingness - since that's where it all began.

End of my old story. Time for tea. And, yes, a cigarette break is always welcome.

Antares Maitreya
(formerly known as the Ancient of Days)
18 November 2012


What next? Who knows and who cares? Well, I do.

I know the meaning and purpose of my life - all Life! And I care for every living atom of it. Why? Simply because all of it is ME.

On a more "personal" level I want nothing - and everything. I know that acceptance, recognition and reward for being what I am and who I am is already flowing in, like the first rush of water from taps that have long been dry (or just dripping).

I know that whatever happens - or doesn't - to the financial system will make no difference to the abundance that I have finally, consciously, learned to receive - and to recirculate freely and universally.

I know that the planetary awakening of which my own has been an integral part will accelerate at the speed of love.

As more souls emerge from their cocoons, they will go in search of guidance and advice - and I will be here to serve in my own unique capacity.

I enjoy teaching and also learning. Aeons of ignorance and misapprehension of what Reality is all about have to be cleared. I happily lend my energies towards this joyful task.

I can't think of any specific desires I wish fulfilled - but whatever I wish for will manifest much more swiftly now that I no longer resist being all that I am and more.

At this juncture, it makes little difference whether I continue using my physical vehicle a little longer and then surrender it to the elements - or if I will be among the ones granted immortality through complete transmutation of my molecular structure.

Immortality is only acceptable in a self-regenerating, self-rejuvenating, non-degrading physical body. In a body subject to constant wear and tear, extreme longevity may not be such a  pleasant prospect - unless the body remains capable of enjoying everything bodies were designed to enjoy.


23 November 2012
Huayllabamba, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru

[First posted 6 January 2013]


Here's an excellent essay from blogger Hussein Abdul Hamid that expands on exactly what I've been saying in recent months about Umno...

OVER THE YEARS we have seen UMNO assuming the role that was once the prerogative of the Sultans of the various states in Malaysia. It was a process started by the British and ironically concluded by the Malays themselves, albeit through UMNO. These tendencies towards Sultanization have evolved over the years to what it is today – an UMNO president living in splendid isolation in a grandiose palace called Sri Perdana in Putrajaya, surrounded by all the trappings of wealth and power. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The quest by UMNO leaders towards their own Sultanization began with a partiality to ostentatious consumption: Zahid Hamidi's very costly watches, silk shirts, expensive suits, really expensive cars, and grand houses. Khir Toyo’s palace is the manifestation of these tendencies to a tee. The Prime Ministers motorcade, the legion of people that seems to surround him everywhere he goes, and the splendid, splendid office at Putrajaya is all par for the course. Of course, to maintain this lifestyle on their meager salaries as Ministers and YB’s means that they are all susceptible to corruption on a grand scale.

Personalization of authority

In Malaysia all power resides with the Prime Minister. In the state the Mentri Besar title says it all – BIG Minister. This concentration of power in the PM at the federal level and the MB at state level can only give rise to the politics of patronage and nepotism, as all largesse flows from these leaders. The wholesale change that is the norm whenever there is a change of these individuals gives rise to the ‘make hay while the sunshine’ mentality. So where the Sultan was ‘king’ in his state, it is now the Mentri Besar that dispenses favor to the Sultans – in business opportunities, in extending credit to pay gambling debts, in keeping under the lid the excesses of the Royal family.

Historical Identity

Like the Sultans who are normally descended from an immediate family tree – UMNO too are comfortable with accepting its leaders when they are descended from families closely associated with UMNO - possibly with the exception of Mahathir – because his Indian background precludes that possibility. But at times, even when your Father is a Class-A leader, his genius will skip a generation or two. How else can you explain Najib and his cousin Hishammuddin?

For now the Sultans still cling to being the head of religion in their own states. But we can see this too is increasingly becoming the function of the religious authorities – whose salaries and appointments are the function of the central government – controlled, for now, by UMNO. So, effectively, even in these areas UMNO will have a say if not absolute control to do as it wish – with just a passing nod to the Sultans as a mark of respect.

So in reality these UMNO leaders – have not only taken power from the Sultans but have also assumed the Sultanization of their own selves in the very mould of the Sultans that they have now deposed in everything but name.

The Malays have always been loyal to their Sultans and are expected to obey their commands unquestioningly. We are all aware what Hang Tuah had to do to appease his Sultan: kill a loyal friend, Hang Jebat. I do not think any Malay today would want to kill a loyal friend for a pretender to the throne that calls itself UMNO. Not when the Sultanization of these pretenders was done without due consideration of the rights and aspirations of the Rakyat.

Hussein Abdul Hamid

[First posted 23 September 2009, reposted 8 January 2014]

Reflections on Death, Resurrection, and the Afterlife

Weddings and funerals are major social events in every Orang Asli community, bringing everybody together - just as they are in every other community - obviously because they are markers in the cycle of life and death. At Bayo's funeral on June 5th, I listened to the lay preacher (a Temuan from Tanjong Malim Calvary Mission) recite the last rites just before they covered the tiny, hastily knocked-together plywood coffin with earth.

Bayo's family is one of two in Pertak Village who converted to Christianity, probably in the 1980s, before the Orang Asli Affairs Department began taking a dim view of missionary incursions (apart from Islamic) into Orang Asli communities.

"Let this be a reminder to us all," the lay preacher intoned, "that our existence on this earth is only temporary. What God gives, God also takes away. But even death is temporary, for our souls are immortal; and those who believe in Jesus Christ shall live forever in Heaven."

It's been a long time since I heard such outright nonsense uttered. I drifted out of earshot and let the brief ceremony proceed. The lay preacher was merely parroting a doctrine handed down a hundred generations. Few question these pious platitudes, because nobody I know has returned from the grave to report on the afterlife (apart from a few who survived near-death experiences and whose stories have been recorded).

True, the entire basis of Christianity revolves around the belief that Jesus was bodily resurrected from his tomb and appeared before the Magdalene and the Apostles on what is now known as Easter Sunday.

However, the Koran explicitly disputes that the Master Jesus was actually crucified. "Another took his place," the Koran says - and this view is supported by the account of the Christos Incarnations recorded by the oracle, A'shayana Deane (initiate of the Melchizedek Cloister Emerald Order), as well as many other esoteric writings. But as it all boils down to a question of belief and faith, it's pointless to get into a heated debate on this issue, since opinions widely diverge on the subject.

The Orang Asli concept of the afterlife isn't all that different from the Christian version - except it doesn't require believing that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. The physical form is only our fleshly baju (clothing), say the Temuan elders. Our roh (soul) does not die and already exists before we are born. Indeed, there doesn't seem to be much difference - apart from terminology - between what animists believe and what Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists claim to believe. The common thread is the idea that the physical form is temporary, and the spiritual essence immortal. Now that is difficult to dispute, seeing as how plants, animals, and humans all go through a specific lifespan and then wither away before our eyes.

What distresses me, however, is that this devaluation of physical existence tends to make humans careless about the natural environment, Mother Earth, that gives rise to and supports their being. It makes a big difference whether people regard their homes as permanent and bequeathable - or only rented, and therefore temporary. Why invest so much effort in beautifying a rented property when, at any moment, you might get evicted by the owner? Would this explain why the Earth has been so badly treated by her human tenants?

When generation after generation is told by professional priests (regardless of denomination or sect) that their sojourn on Earth is but temporary, that their true home is in the afterlife, can you blame humans for not taking proper care of their bodies - and, by extension, their earthly home? This sort of "teaching" also serves to placate the impoverished masses who might otherwise decide they've had enough of being exploited and oppressed by the "ruling class" and join forces to overthrow the Management (a scenario that has occurred several times within recent history, but invariably it's a case of "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" as Orwell depicted so memorably in Animal Farm).

Add to this the Buddhist and Hindu teachings of karma and reincarnation (which some interpret as "fate" or "predestiny") and you have a ready-made excuse to shrug off other people's misfortunes by saying, "Oh well, it's their bad karma that they got napalmed by the Americans."

Excuse me, but I'm inclined to view America's military adventurism as the result of an egocentric and opportunistic foreign policy rather than the workings of geopolitical karma. Bad management can be identified and redressed - and each citizen of every country shares the onus of restraining their leaders from gross, power-intoxicated misbehavior on the world stage.

And if we each paused for a moment and consciously decided to wholeheartedly appreciate and esteem the natural beauty around us - instead of taking it all for granted as we seem to have done for generations - then, perhaps, we may begin to realize that we lose absolutely nothing by investing our energy in making our earthly sojourn as heavenly as possible. So what if each of us can only enjoy it for a brief lifespan? Indeed we may discover that when life on earth becomes truly paradisal, we might decide to extend our visas indefinitely (instead of complaining that "life's a bitch"), thereby making translation to an abstract notion of Heaven merely optional.

Many of my friends have been interested in the idea of Ascension for years - though nobody appears to know exactly what the process entails. Some believe they can accelerate it by becoming vegan or by abstaining from sensory stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. They cling to the words of the Ascended Masters and secretly aspire to attaining similar spiritual status. Quite frankly, I seem to be looking at it all through the "wrong" end of the telescope in that I clearly remember what a joyous accomplishment it was to finally be able to inhabit a physical vehicle and explore reality in a dense body with all the miraculous sensory organs we have evolved over the aeons.

In this respect I'd much rather identify with the Descended Masters. Having experienced physical existence on this incredibly beautiful and boundlessly fascinating planet many times over (I've certainly had multiple flashbacks of parallel incarnations over the years), I've opted to adopt Earth as my base of operations and my permanent Home.

[First posted 8 June 2007, reposted 10 March 2016]

PINK FLOYD ~ PULSE 1994 (full concert!)

The above videos have been taken down by anal retentive copyright grinches.... but (for now) you can still watch the whole show in HD HERE.... the finale will leave you enraptured!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Where do the brains go when they drain out of Malaysia? That's right, Down Under!

The Lost Thing, which took over three years to create, is a 15-minute fable about a boy in Melbourne who, while collecting bottle caps near a beach, discovers a strange creature that seems to be a combination of an industrial boiler, a crab and an octopus.

The son of a Malaysian-Chinese father and an Anglo-Irish mother, Tan, 37, came to filmmaking after a career as an award-winning author and illustrator.

The Lost Thing, originally the story of a lost pet, was written by Tan in 1999 "on the kitchen table of a share house." He says the deadpan lead character is partially based on himself as a teenager.

That teenager was once interested in becoming a genetic scientist, and studied chemistry and physics as well as continuing a childhood interest in drawing and science fiction, before studying literature and art history at the University of Western Australia.

Despite moving to Melbourne in 2007, Brunswick resident Tan remains strongly tied to the west, where he grew up, inaugurating The Shaun Tan Award for Young Artists, (for shcoolchildren aged between five and 17 years) which sponsored by the City of Subiaco. A mural he painted adorns 20 square metres of the wall at the Subiaco Public Library.

Andrew Ruhemann, owner and producer of Passion Pictures, worked as a producer at Richard Williams Studios, which made the animated feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He said he was "immediately drawn" to the book of The Lost Thing when he encountered it at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.

[Read the rest here.]

Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan with their Oscars
Interview with 2011 short film Oscar-winner Shaun Tan

The 2011 Oscars have awarded The Lost Thing as the Best Animated Short. Check out the full interview with talented filmmakers Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan who reveal how they made the film happen and the journey they took from illustration to CG animation.

Congratulations. When did you first write this and how long was this in the making from when you mentioned it to when it actually made the screen?

[Tan] Okay. I originally wrote this story in, I think, 1998. I was an unemployed illustrator. I wrote it on the kitchen table of my share house. Worked on it for a year. Developed it as a picture book, which was then published in Melbourne in the year 2000. Shortly afterward, it was exhibited in an international book fair in Italy, which is where Andrew came across the story. And we began discussions about developing it as an animated film at that point. So, the whole project for me has spanned, I guess, some 13 years.

So, you originally started as an illustrator. How was that going into animation? CG animation nonetheless?

[Tan] Well, I started off as an illustrator with absolutely no formal training aside from high school. And so, when Andrew originally approached me and suggested adapting this for animation, my first reaction was I am not a filmmaker and secondly, (inaudible) and I still managed to do other stuff as an artist. And so, I basically just asked everybody I knew in the film industry about animation, and I started studying handbooks. And also, Andrew came down to both Melbourne and Perth and Western Australia, and we had very intensive story boarding sessions and, I guess, part of that was actually a degree of mentorship. You were explaining to me narrative flow in pictures. I was already working in that in illustrated stories, but film is obviously a different animal and I guess, if anything, it helps me bridge that gap.

This is another win for Australia, this category. What do you think is going on down there in the animation business?

[Tan] You know, it’s not just animation. As an illustrator, I know it’s in the world of children books (inaudible). It’s something to do with the fact that we don’t have any existing tradition. Something like that. And we experiment. And we go a little crazy. And a lot of our projects are very small. And our project was extremely small as well. And both Andrew and our producer, it’s basically just two other guys. It’s one animator (which is very unusual for even a short animated film) Leo Baker, and one digital artist, Tom Bryant. The three of us; myself, Tom, Leo, we did all the visuals that you see in the whole film over a period of three and a half years. With very little outside intervention or anybody to come in and say, no, it should be like this, it should be like that. We just thought this looks right to us, we will just give it a go, and we thought it worked, and obviously it’s working for other people now, too.

THE MIGRANT'S EYE ~ by Shaun Tan 
(Note: This essay is by a different Shaun Tan, not the creator of The Lost Thing)

[First posted 20 December 2011]