Monday, February 17, 2020

The proper use of synthesizers... (reprise)

For want of something profound to say, I'd like to be dancing right now to this juicy stuff by British techno wizard Simon Posford...

[First posted 3 October 2010]

Saturday, February 15, 2020

"Malaysians are cultural & spiritual babies." (reprise)

Gerald Lopez, who was most helpful to me when I first began to explore the mysteries of the Internet back in early 1998 - and who subsequently got me started as a compulsive disseminator of information - migrated to New Zealand in 1999 with his beautiful wife Mei Lin Wong. For a while Gerald struggled to establish himself as a photographer and eventually became vice-president of the professional photographers’ association, AIPA. In 2001 their son Joshua arrived. The photo above dates back to Joshua's third week on Planet Earth. About five years ago Gerald Lopez became an Ayurvedic healer and yoga instructor and subsequently opened his own Science of Life therapy center. We continue to keep in touch and only today I discovered a pithy comment Gerald had left on a blogpost dated 12 October 2008 - 51 Ideas for a Better Malaysia. I feel what Gerald has to say - from the perspective of a migrant who really loved his homeland but could no longer tolerate our culturally and spiritually retarded leadership - ought to be shared with more people, so I've taken the liberty of turning it into a blogpost in its own right. Hope you don't mind, Gerald! :-)

GERALD'S COMMENT (December 20, 2008 5:25:00 AM MYT):

Nice one Antares, in your usual crystal-clear style!

As a voluntary exile from the land fictitiously called Malaysia (I still chuckle when the ad voice-overs go malay-see-yer), I have a few points to add.

Becoming better possibly means making cultural and spiritual progress towards a happy and truly harmonious society.

Cultural progress occurs when there is a deep sense of where we come from - our roots - and a cultivated spirit of creativity.

Mahathir and his gang made sure that the people were firmly disconnected from their roots by denying our history.

Shame was poured on the hindu and shamanistic culture that fed the Malay psyche. I remember in my childhood going to weekly puppet shows in the villages, firmly based on the Ramayana legends. Now this is banned by the religious folks who think they can decide for other adults.

Shame was poured on the British colonial past, as street names were rabidly changed to impossibly long ones of obscure Malay personalities.

The Disneyland culture that we now see, bears little relation to our cultural roots.

Creativity is one of the least cultivated qualities in the Malaysian education system. This comes from the fear of being different, of being wrong. Asking questions is tantamount to challenging "authority."

This lack of confidence in our creativity, has led to a culture of imitation - imitation music, imitation art, imitation fashion. I remember the number of guitarists who could do perfect renditions of "Hotel California" solos - but where is our soul music?

This in turn leads to a society of consumers - not creators. And the 21st century economy is about creation - of ideas, of technology, of paradigm shifts. Are you in a position to be part of this?

Spiritual progress is a necessary part of sustainable evolution (i.e. becoming "better"). Paradoxically, material progress grounded in materialism is like building castles of sand - and this is where Malaysia has been heading over the last >40 years, under the "leadership" of materialistic goons.

Spiritual progress means ongoing and increasing awareness of the more subtle aspects of our existence. It is not about the motions of praying so many times a day.

As our consciousness becomes more subtle, we realise how interconnected we really are. We realise that causing division and discrimination is the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the foot. All these religious folks who call for racial division in order to "protect" the purity of their kind, are spiritual fakes and hypocrites.

For society to be sustainable and become better, it has to be founded on honesty and truth. Your "leaders" and "elders" have truly let the people down in this regard. Where they could have cultivated a culture of trust and fairness, they have led the way in cultivating distrust, fear and criminality.

Thus, you stand now as you did 50 years ago - cultural and spiritual babies, wondering how to become "better".

Whenever I read snippets of news, I still shake my head in wonder. Good luck to you.

Best wishes,

Gerald's calling card:
Gerald Lopez
Science of Life
LLB, Dip.Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurveda & Yoga consultation
Ayurvedic massage & therapies
Retreats & workshops

President - The New Zealand Ayurvedic Association
Chairman - Natural Health Council (NZ) Inc

[First posted 20 December 2008] 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

'Merdeka' Means Having No Debts! (reprise)

First published in the Sunday Mail, 31 August 1997, in abridged form and subsequently included as a chapter in TANAH TUJUH ~ Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos (Silverfishbooks, 2007)
Uman, Anoora's stepmother, in 2005

“UNFORTUNATELY, many of us still owe the Chinese towkays (Big Bosses) thousands of ringgit,” a Temuan elder admitted with a sardonic grin. “Every durian season we have to give them first option on our harvest.”

But how did this vicious cycle of hutang (indebtedness) begin?

“Well, no bank will loan us a cent, so we ask the Chinese towkays for help. When our sons and daughters get married, we need money to hold feasts. Sometimes we need a motorbike or a bushcutter. Usually it's just an accumulation of basic necessities like rice, cooking oil, cigarettes - which we buy on credit. If there's no durian season, hutang lah!”

We were sitting around my mother-in-law's shanty in Kampung Pertak, drinking sweet black tea. Some were chewing betelnut while others just chewed the fat. The fortieth anniversary of Merdeka was approaching. I asked Utat Merkol, who must have been about twenty when Malaya became independent, if he remembered the changing of the guards on 31 August 1957.

Utat Merkol in the late 1990s
He knit his already furrowed brow and slowly shook his head.

“Doesn't Merdeka have any significance at all for you?” I probed.

“Not really,” Utat replied. “In the days of Hukum Orang Putih (White Man Rule) we were treated quite well. Every month the government supplied us with rice, sugar, cooking oil and other necessities.”

His younger sister Indah piped in: “I remember that everything cost so much less!”

This triggered off animated talk about the bounty of nature in pre-Merdeka days. My sister-in-law Anggu recalled her father's stories of the days when one could just dip a basket in the stream and return with a fishy feast for the whole family.

From conversations I've had over the past few years with various Orang Asli, it's obvious that they don't have a clearly defined notion of nationhood as a political abstraction. In the old days they identified themselves along purely tribal lines. Intermarriage with other tribes or ethnic groups would occur from time to time, but the idea of being part of a larger Orang Asli community is a fairly recent one - and one that has been thrust on them by anthropologists and bureaucrats.

Lumoh & Awa playing the Buloh Limbong at a gig in 2009
Broadly speaking the Orang Asli simply think of themselves as Manusia - Human Beings. They know this much: their nenek-moyang (ancestors) have inhabited certain bioregions at least since the Great Flood (perhaps 13,000 years ago). And before that? Who knows? Their tutelary gods, Mamak and Inak Bongsu, often spoke of returning to a home “beyond Pulau Buah (the Isle of Fruits or Paradise), beyond Tanah Sejuk (The Cold Land), beyond the highest heavens.”

Wherever they came from must be very, very far away from Tanah Tujuh (the Seventh Land or Seventh Planet).

Utat and his elder brother Diap (who was one of the last Keeper of the Stories) had hinted once or twice of battles between gods, between planets and stars... cosmic events beyond their comprehension. The Temuan, who used to be classified Proto-Malay by anthropologists (these days the preferred academic description is “Austronesian”), share linguistic roots with Malay, Tagalog, and other “Austronesian” tongues - including dialects spoken among certain Northern Territory aboriginal tribes in Australia. Many basic words are borrowed from Sanskrit. Manusia, for example, is from Manu - Progenitor, Archetypal Father. When we hear the word pusat, we usually think of “headquarters” or “administrative centre.” But to the Temuan, pusat means “belly button” or “navel,” which is its original sense in Sanskrit. This demonstrates that they have an earthier, gutsier, more visceral apprehension of reality. We urbanites have become too intellectual, too head-centred.

Halus in 1999 (photo by Colin Nicholas/COAC)
So what could Merdeka (Independence) possibly mean to an Orang Asli?

Colonizers come and go, but the indigenous tribes have rolled with the punches, assimilating whatever they could from the invaders. They themselves might once have been “invaders,” migration patterns being what they are, due to the vagaries of climate and tectonic upheavals that created whole new mountain ranges and land mass link-ups. One generation arrives to replace the previous - and life goes on in Tanah Tujuh (the Seven-Storied Land or Seventh Planet). This physical world that we inhabit is merely one of the middle stories.

Now and again, certain individuals may experiment with new-fangled lifestyles, as in the legendary case of Si Tenggang, a Temuan boy who ran off to join a trading ship and eventually became captain of his own galleon (after marrying a Malay princess, the story goes). Alas, success went to his head and Tenggang refused to recognize and receive his aged parents in their loincloths and crude dugout canoe, when they rowed out to his ship, anchored in a bay near his home village.

Heartbroken and humiliated, Tenggang's parents cursed the day he was born. Before long, a violent storm capsized Tenggang's ship and his roomy cabins were transformed into the limestone outcrop now known as Batu Caves, For generations the Temuan regarded it as a sacred site - until the land was acquired and developed into a Hindu shrine and tourist attraction.

(Even the fable of Si Tenggang has been assimilated into mainstream Malay literature. The 1992 New Straits Times Annual, for instance, featured a story by Adibah Amin - called The Stony Penitence of Si Tenggang - in which Tenggang and his family were recast as Malays.)

As tribal entities, the Orang Asli feel magnetically bound to their familiar hunting grounds. When forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands, they tend to wither spiritually and acquire negative traits like alcoholism and apathy.

My adopted kinfolk have told me hair-raising tales of massacres inflicted on their tribe over the last few centuries. Pirates from nearby islands used to hunt the Orang Asli for sport. The ones they captured alive were sold into slavery. Some ended up in Batak cooking pots! The White Man came and put a stop to all this - not so much for altruistic reasons but because the pirates were a threat to his merchant ships.

But why did the Orang Asli offer no resistance? Surely they had hunters and warriors amongst them who could be pahlawan and wira (defenders and heroes)?

“We are not an aggressive people,” Mak Minah explained. “Even though we feel anger, humiliation, and acute distress, we try to endure whatever befalls us. We believe that Tuhan (God) loves and looks after all his children.”

In true stoical tradition, the Orang Asli have generally sought peaceful co-existence rather than armed conflict. Even after wave upon wave of migrants arrived and began staking claims on their ancestral lands, the Orang Asli were more inclined to show hospitality instead of hostility. However, as in the famous story of the Arab and his camel, they now find themselves crowded out of their own domicile by pendatang (newcomers) armed with “legal” documents. Some say the meek shall inherit the earth. But when? After the earth has been turned into an industrial wasteland, a virtual Neraka (Hell)? Would an Orang Asli be shouting “Merdeka” in Neraka?

Yam Kokok & Karim reroofing the Bamboo Palace (2008)
Merdeka, as a political concept, holds no emotive meaning for the Orang Asli. In their own eyes, they have always been free. Even when foreign invaders called them sakai (the equivalent of “nigger” or “slave”) and treated them no better than cattle, they remained free in spirit by retreating deeper into the mysterious jungle - and into their own myth-bound psyches.

And they shall always be free (though the left-brained among us may perceive their love of independence as “backwardness” or “obstinacy” or “unreliability” or “indiscipline” or “recalcitrance”). Whether it's Hukum Orang Putih (White Man Rule), Hukum Melayu (Malay Rule), or Hukum Hutang (Rule of Perpetual Debt) - you'll never catch an Orang Asli yelling, “Merdeka!”

Only those who lack the reality resort to shouting slogans.

[First posted 30 August 2010]

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Don't forget who's the boss! (reprise)

It's been a while since I wrote about Malaysian politics - or. for that matter, politics anywhere.

Day in, day out, the same old dead-boring programs keep repeating - generation after generation, century after century, millennium after millennium - at least, within the narrow confines of the holographic sound-stage most humans consider "the real world" - the world where grim-faced gray-haired men in dark suits and red ties emerge from sleek black limos to attend interminable conferences, while gnomish international bankers gleefully sponsor their sybaritic revels at Bohemian Grove.

The majority of established journalists believe this to be "the real world" - the "grown-up" world of economic necessity and political expediency. They get paid well to report knowledgeably about this paved-over Dead Zone where no fresh outlooks or reality options can grow. Well, folks, I've had enough of this benighted charade.

The way I see it, with all the data freely available online, ignorance must now be regarded as purely optional. Many choose to remain ignorant - or zoom in on only what interests them to the exclusion of everything else. I've come to realize that adults with attention spans greater than that of a 9-year-old are a distinct minority. The power hierarchy capitalizes heavily on this factor to maintain the corrupt and diseased status quo.

Meanwhile, I'm also becoming aware that I'm either suffering from writer's block - or going through a period when I find myself with little left to say that hasn't been said before by myself or other aspects of myself. I'm glad to observe that many have picked up the baton and are going all out to help remove that moral tumor named BN from our body politic.

I'm with you all the way, folks. Ini kali lah, this time we'll make it happen.

[First posted 19 February 2013]

Monday, January 27, 2020

SKIN ~ from Sade's 2010 album

I couldn't resist...



A blind lady was flying from Melbourne to Brisbane. Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sydney. The flight captain announced that there would be a delay, and that if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft, they should return to their seats in 50 minutes.

Everybody got off the plane except the blind lady. The other passengers could tell the lady was blind because her guide dog lay quietly by her feet throughout the flight.

They could also tell that the blind lady had flown this very flight before, because the pilot approached her and, calling her by name, said: "Kathy, we're in Sydney for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?"

The blind lady replied, "No thanks, but maybe Buddy would Like to stretch his legs."

Picture this:

All activity in the gate area comes to a complete standstill when they see the pilot walk off the plane with a guide dog. The pilot is even wearing sunglasses.

Panic spreads like wildfire. Some passengers try to change planes; others try to change airlines!

True story, believe it or not. Have a quiet chuckle and remember...



The only cow in a small town in Australia stops giving milk. Computer literate town councilors discover they can buy an Indian cow on eBay on the cheap.

They import the cow from India and it's well worth the laborious paperwork involved. The Indian cow produces plenty of milk every day and everyone is happy.

They decide to buy a bull to mate with the cow in order to get more cows, so they would never again have to worry about their milk supply.

They put the bull in the pasture with the cow but whenever the bull tries to mount the cow, she moves away.

No matter what approach the bull tries, the cow moves away from the bull and he is unable to do the deed.

The townsfolk decide to consult the vet, who is reputed to be very wise. They explain to him the problem:

"Whenever the bull tries to mount our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she backs off. If he attempts from one side, she shifts to the other side."

The vet rubs his chin thoughtfully and ponders this before asking: "Did you by any chance import this cow from India?"

The townsfolk are dumbfounded: "You are truly a wise vet," they said. "How on earth did you guess we got the cow from India?"

The vet replies with a distant look in his eye: "My wife is from India."

Irish Virginity Test

Paddy is planning to marry, he is, and asks his family doctor how he can tell if his bride-to-be is still a virgin.

His doctor says, "Aye, Paddy, all Irish use three things for what we call a Do-It-Yourself Virginity Test.... A small can of red paint, a small can of blue paint, and a shovel."

Paddy asks, "Aye, and what do I do with these things, doctor?"

The doctor replies, "Before ye climb into bed on your wedding night, you paint one of your balls red and the other ball blue. If she says, 'That's the strangest pair of balls I ever did see...', you hit her with the shovel."

Jokes forwarded by V. Cornelius, first posted 5 March 2010]

Monday, January 20, 2020

When The Shit Hits The Fan... (repost)

Letter reveals top MACC man, politician collusion

K Kabilan
Aug 20, 09

The mystery letter which emerged at the Teoh Beng Hock inquest yesterday is believed to contain claims connecting a top ranking MACC officer to the interrogation of the political aide, which could have led to his death.

Believed to be written by a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission insider, the letter alleged how the top officer and an influential politician (pictured left) had worked together to start investigations into alleged corrupt practises by Selangor's Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

And it was on this understanding that Teoh was called up for questioning.

The unsigned letter, which carried the MACC official letterhead and written in Bahasa Malaysia, also stated the top officer's modus of interrogation - which involves pulling the suspects by the belt.

It further alleged that the top official was questioning Teoh on the day the DAP man was found dead. However the letter did not state on how Teoh died or if the officer was directly involved in his death.

Further claims made in the letter include:
  • The officer did not punch out from work when he left Plaza Masalam where the Selangor MACC is located on that day. However, the letter stated the time of him leaving the office. This is important as it could show that this officer was the last person to have seen Toeh on that day, alleged the letter.
  • The officer did not provide his DNA samples along with his other colleagues. He only gave a sample privately at a later day.
  • That he ordered his officers to wipe clean the window from where Teoh had apparently fallen from.
  • His alleged corrupt practices while investigating previous cases and that he is generally corrupt.
  • He had helped close an investigation on the politician.
The letter also stated that the top officer had been serving in the state for a long time, well beyond the usual five-year term for high ranking officials.
The letter also claimed that he was living beyond his means by having several houses, a petrol station in Shah Alam and several plots of land, courtesy of the politician's goodwill.
He was also allegedly caught for khalwat with his junior officer at the Shah Alam lake early this year.
When contacted, the politician denied all the claims made in the letter and said he will be lodging a police report as soon as he is back from his overseas trip. The MACC officer could not be contacted.

Lawyers remain tight-lipped

Yesterday, lawyer Gobind Singh Deo submitted the letter to coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas, asking him to adjourn the inquest pending an investigation into the contents of the letter.

Gobind said that he was handed the letter by an individual on Tuesday evening.

Azmil, who agreed to instruct the police to probe the letter, had then urged all lawyers involved in the case not to reveal the details of the letter to anyone. However he had not ordered a gag order on the matter.

Lawyers involved in the matter when contacted by Malaysiakini today remained tight-lipped on the content of the letter.

However, it is learnt that the letter was also sent out to several other people since last week, including some members of parliament.

One MP who spoke to Malaysiakini said that he received the letter last week and confirmed the contents of the letter.

"Some big names were mentioned in the letter and the claims are massive. If they are true, some very big people from Selangor MACC and the political circle will have to pay the price," he said, requesting anonymity.

The MP also said that the letter appeared to be "an inside job from MACC".

He added that the letterhead used was from the MACC's headquarters in Putrajaya.

Teoh (left) was found dead, with his belt snapped, at the fifth floor landing of Plaza Masalam on July 16, a day after he was summoned by the MACC for questioning in regards to their probe into an alleged misappropriation of state allocation funds. He was questioned at the 14th floor.

The inquest is being held to determine how he died. It will continue on Monday pending the investigation into the letter.

The letter has also been posted in the Internet at various sites, including in Malaysia Today.

Last man to see Teoh left building at 6.10am, court told

This intriguing comment was found in Dr Rafick's blogpost:

Inside sources. Hishamuddin and Khir Toyo were school mates, Khir being a year or two [older]. Of course Khir approved Hisham’s application for a plot of land in Shah Alam.

Hisham has [a] strong cable with Macc Hq notably with Ahmad Said, the Macc Chief and Ahmad Said in turn is a running boy of Nazri Aziz. For the first time in the history of the ACA/MACC, a Minister seems to be talking on behalf of MACC. It never happens bf as the ACA/MACC is supposed to be independent.

Khir with the help of Hisham and the blessing of the top leadership wanted to topple S’gor PR gov’t. Hisham can’t do it without the approval of the Selangor MACC Head. So Hisham instigated his Boss removal and Ahmad Said sent a weak officer, Jaafar Mahat to head the MACC.

Soon after, the blitz on the PR gov’t by Selangor MACC begins. Hisham was in full control with the approval of Ahmad Said, another corrupt ACA/MACC officer.

[First posted 20 August 2009] 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


Our individuality is a miraculous quality, attained through countless aeons of incarnate experience. Indeed, one could say being a fully conscious Integer/Oneness is the whole point and purpose of Evolution/Devolution.

For generations humanity has been misled by gurus and holographically inserted "messengers" who taught us that our own egos are our worst enemy - that one has to destroy one's ego in order to fuse with All That Is or Spirit Most High or The Great Void or whatever you wish to call this nebulous concept of Ultimate Awareness.

Yes, from the Ocean we emerge as tiny drops of consciousness, with a deeply embedded yearning to return to and merge with the Oceanic "I Am That I Am" - however, that merger can be experienced consciously only when we value our uniqueness as individuals.

Our task is to reunite with Source, bringing with us all our experiential databases and our particular perspectives. Think of it in terms of a band or orchestra. The soul must switch from playing in concert with everybody else - and yet be able to express its own specific being when required to solo.

This is one ramification of Hologram Theory, of the idea of ourselves as fractals of the Ultimate Unity. So, while I understand the Buddhistic preference for the path of "ego transcendence" (a very "Eastern" teaching, and one I have always rejected as totally misguided), I'm also prompted to offer my view. The "impersonal" is to me a very dangerous and dehumanizing perspective; it's what turns decent folk into faceless bureaucrats, honest individuals into nameless agents of institutionalized ideologies. Be TRANSpersonal by all means.... but NEVER IMpersonal!

And that "Love 'n' Light" stuff has long been co-opted and corrupted by New Age shysters who are mainly in it for the money!

I trust folks who sign off as their own authority, as their unique selves, instead of hiding behind anonymity or quoting various long-gone entities.

Photo by Spencer Tunick
Be proud of who you are and what you look like. That's what makes our physical existence an exquisite privilege. What joy is there in communicating with a thinking cloud, a burning bush, or a pulsating blue light?

The skin that enwraps the being that is YOU and/or ME is what separates each of us from the rest of the Youniverse, it's true - but at least it's something tangible, palpable, something we can caress, cherish, and savor.

[Originally posted 2 January 2007]

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

MALAISEA - A Political Overview (Revisited)

In the early 1990s people were looking forward to a great future - no matter what their outlook or worldview. Rich folk believed they were going to get even richer. Poor folk felt they had a fair chance of at least getting a bit of furniture in their homes and maybe their kids would be geniuses at school and be given full scholarships all the way. Industrialists eagerly anticipated taking over the action from flagging western economies; social activists and environmentalists formed themselves into energetic little NGOs and found their opinions gaining some ground. 1996 was a jolly time to be a Malaisean! People were buying computers for their kids and everyone was getting on the Internet.

True, some of us knew a lot of stupid, ugly stuff was going on in business and politics - like everywhere else - and that the government was in the hands of highly sophisticated hoodlums descended from the great space pirate lineages. But we thought that sooner or later enough citizens would awaken from their consumerist trance and restore a measure of accountability and democracy in government. All it would take is a sizeable middle-class with access to good information and proper education - and we were definitely getting there.


The Asian Tigers suffered a collective stroke in July 1997. Overnight, currencies like the Thai Baht, the Malaysian Ringgit, and the Indonesian Rupiah were devalued by approximately 40%. The Icarus Effect kicked in: from being among the highest flyers in the Asia-Pacific Area, the wings of the Malaisean economy suddenly melted and we plummeted feetfirst towards terra firma and almost broke our spines when we landed on hard reality. But what was really badly bruised were the inflated egos of Malaisean prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and his wheeling-dealing Wild Bunch of Umnoputras (UMNO = United Malay Nationalist Organisation; Umnoputras = the swaggering political party leadership).

As long as the economic bubble was visibly expanding, nobody wanted to look too closely at the shenanigans and shady businesses underpinning the Malaisean success story. Nobody wanted to know how much had been borrowed from which banks by whom and how in hell they hoped to ever repay their astronomical debts. Nobody wanted to cut the administrative body open and figure out how many cans would be needed to hold the wriggling worms that had gorged themselves off the fat of the land for decades.

Suddenly finding his megalomanic dream of building his very own Evil Empire and turning Malaisea into his personal Death Star project thwarted, Mahathir's paranoia took a turn for the worse. He knew his hand-picked successor to the throne, the charismatic but enigmatic Anwar Ibrahim, was more than ready to take over his job. Anwar had the support of most of the younger generation and was already holding two important posts: deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin - Mahathir's invisible Grand Vizier, Undisputed Godfather of the Malaisean Mafia and Master Manipulator - saw the end of the Mahathir era rapidly approaching. With his entrepreneurial protégés all facing bankruptcy proceedings, Daim couldn't survive a sea change in party leadership. So he came up with a plan to discredit Anwar and stop him from cracking down on corrupt party members with heavy business connections. They would circulate rumours that Anwar was a freestyle fornicator with a penchant for anal sex and thereby force his resignation.

The plan backfired (pun unintended) when Anwar refused to take the money and run. Instead, he turned around and openly challenged Mahathir for the nation's top job. On September 2nd 1998, Mahathir sacked Anwar. Thousands of sympathizers flocked to Anwar's residence pledging their support. In less than three weeks, Anwar was leading protest processions through the streets of Kuala L'impure, the national capital. Some say the crowds reached as high as 80,000; others estimate the numbers at no more than 40,000. In any case, Anwar Ibrahim's unceremonious dismissal inspired the largest gatherings of dissenters in Malaisean history. The velvet glove was removed and Mahathir ordered Anwar's arrest on the evening of September 20th 1998.

Since that shameful night the entire country has been plunged into moral darkness. All the excesses and weaknesses of the system have been grossly magnified; all the leaks are letting in water like crazy (and even the pipes are leaking!). There's no more pretense at democracy. The well-behaved press has been further intimidated into serving as mere conduits for government propaganda.

Over the 22 years of his beady-eyed and heavy-handed rule, Mahathir quietly castrated the royals, offering them a handsome share of the Big Business ball game as compensation while securing his own financial dynasty through his children á la Suharto of Indonesia.

By now Mahathir was the uncrowned Emperor of Malaisea - dubbed Mahafiraun (Great Pharaoh) by his detractors in Umno. When the people demonstrated, a snarling Mahathir (as home minister) greeted them with water cannons and tear gas. His specially trained goons infiltrated street marches and sparked off rioting, thereby giving the police an excuse to crack down hard on the young hotheads calling for the prime minister's resignation.

On the night of his arrest Anwar Ibrahim was brutally assaulted by the Inspector General of Police. Anwar's associates were picked up and tortured into signing affidavits claiming they had been sodomized by the erstwhile deputy prime minister. Highly paid, well-dressed witnesses came forth and denounced Anwar as a profligate. The trial judge declared all evidence of a political conspiracy irrelevant - and pressed on relentlessly for a guilty verdict on a ludicrous charge of corruption which was delivered on April 14th 1999. Anwar was given a 6-year prison term after having been held in custody for nearly 7 months without bail. The whole thing stank.

[On August 8th 2000, Anwar Ibrahim was found guilty of sodomy by another kangaroo court and sentenced to an additional 9 years behind bars! If he had been charged in a Syariah or Islamic Court, Anwar would most likely have been acquitted, as Syariah Law states that accusations of sexual indiscretion must be corroborated by four male witnesses of indisputable integrity who must swear that they saw the deed with their own eyes!]

And this reek of evil has permeated every facet of Malaisean society. Indeed we are in grave danger of getting inured to abuse of power and moral indecency in high office. It's truly a wonder that one wicked uncle and his gang of trained hyenas could have systematically corrupted the police force, the judiciary - indeed, the entire machinery of governance, including the mass media. The only avenue of dissent left open is the Internet. To win a victory in the streets we'd need 250,000 assembled in Freedom Square. They'd have to call out the army - and, hopefully, the troops will join the people in demanding a whole new government founded on decency, justice, freedom, and truth.

The key to power has long been Divide & Rule. Mahathir is a past master at the game, pitting different ethnic interests against each other, stirring up petty quarrels within each faction, capitalizing on the base human emotions of fear and greed. Without access to the mass media, opposition groups find themselves preaching to the converted. When it comes down to it, most Malaysians still vote with their bellies, not their conscience. By banning 680,000 newly registered voters from the general election on November 29 1999 (in addition to the usual bribery and fraud) Mahathir managed to steer his regime to a narrow victory with a mere 105,000 vote margin. But that was enough to buy him and his business associates a little more time.

Time in which to cover their financial backsides and wear down all political opponents. "We're bullish on bouncing back!" screamed the press advertisements. "Economic recovery expected with 6 months!" boasted the well-connected pundits. Well, wander around KL and see how many public phones you can find that actually work. Check out the public transport system and see how many sweaty commuters can fit into a single overworked bus. Find out how many factory workers and construction crews have been retrenched and repatriated to Bangladesh and Indonesia. How many Filipina maids have been harassed and sent packing. These are the real indicators of the Malaisean economy - and they don't look too good. All the energy and power is concentrated within a tiny segment of society; less and less of it trickles down to the masses these days. Essential services like electricity, water, and telecommunications have all been privatized (more precisely, piratized) - and even education and health care are headed that way.

When Pak Lah stepped in as prime minister after Mahathir's compulsory retirement (Umno stalwarts could see that Dr M, like G.W. Bush today, had become a liability to his own political party), it appeared that we had underestimated the man. It was refreshing to see a PM with less of an ego problem who seemed a great deal more open to public opinion and learned advice. Indeed, by releasing Anwar Ibrahim from Sungei Buloh Prison, Pak Lah effectively took the wind out of Opposition sails. People had little anger left to discharge and gladly returned to business-as-usual.

Now, a little more than three years after Pak Lah took over, we are seeing age-old problems re-emerge - problems that have never been courageously faced and resolved once and for all. The notorious ISA and OSA remain in place to prevent hardnosed investigators from unmasking corruption and abuse of power at its source. Samy Vellu is still in cahoots with corporate highwaymen and threatening to jail anybody who reveals his secret deals with greedy concessionaires. Sensational scandals have raised many unanswered questions, and rumors implicating prominent ministers are rife. In an era when presidents and prime ministers find themselves charged with war crimes, genocide, corruption, deceit, and rape - cold-blooded murder would be just another high-profile scandal. But, unless justice is seen to be done, it could cause the ruin of an entire country. Intimidating bloggers and whistle-blowers can only postpone the inevitable.

Socially, Malaiseans are fast becoming a bunch of self-serving ruffians. We have the ethical integrity of a gnu in heat. Nobody trusts the police. Everyone has at least one cousin or uncle who's turned to crime just so he can support his family. Or drug habit. Young people with ideas are forced underground, linking up with international anarcho-punk networks. Older artists and theatre practitioners have sold out - or dropped out. The best writers in the country have a hard time finding publishers who can offer a straight deal. Nobody has the money to fund a feature film - unless the plot is absolutely banal and the script insults human intelligence. True, a few adventurous souls have recently begun making powerful personal statements with low-budget digicam movies. But mediocrity and malice continue to rule with an iron hand in poor, benighted Malaisea. All it takes is one evil-minded nincompoop with access to the Malay press to get adventurous films banned, and a popular film club shut down.

Indeed we seem to be in the cultural and spiritual doldrums. The mental atmosphere is stagnant, and everywhere you turn there's a toxic stench of putrefaction and industrial pollution. The rainforests are almost non-existent now and so is the political will to conserve the environment. Indigenous tribes are being driven off their traditional lands and forced to take their place as society's lowest stratum. Their dignity and freedom - which is all they own - is being confiscated. The rest of us lost ours ages ago.


To answer this we have to sit back, relax, and look at the Big Picture. The deadly drama playing out in Malaisea is a hologram of the spiritual crisis facing all humanity. No system of governance exists today that can stand up to thorough scrutiny; all of it ultimately leads to Big Brotherism or one of its many permutations - despotism, totalitarianism, fascism, nazism. In short, the New World Odor - yup, the familiar stench of the old feudal hierarchies, thinly concealed as the Corporate Superstate.

The only way to deflect this life-denying reality from taking complete possession of our destinies as autonomously evolving individuals with free wills is to reconnect with our inner selves and scan our deep memories for corrupted files. Clear out our neural circuits and regain our youthful innocence, so we can once again look at the twinkling stars and wonder what they are - if not our true origins. That's right, folks. We have to get cosmic and quit rolling around in our own mental excrement, trapped in our claustrophobic pigpen 3D realities. We have to get multidimensional and stay heart-centred - because our heads are too dead to appreciate the awesome mystery of life.

But first things first: we have to remove reactionary politicians from high office; yank them all out like rotten teeth. Or their poison will go to our brains and kill us in our prime.

[Written April 15 2001, updated & posted February 8 2007]