Wednesday, October 28, 2020

CAN WE BEFRIEND THE ELEMENTS? (reprise)


THOSE EIGHT WORDS struck me like a sledgehammer when I first encountered them while reading a rather ponderous and nebulous work by the well-known astrologer, shamanic oracle and publisher, Barbara Hand Clow, who says her Cherokee grandfather taught her to listen to the elements and attune her psyche to the earth. After his death the young Barbara was subject to the severe traumas of growing up in a dysfunctional American family and experienced recurring contact with what she later identified as Pleiadian entities. At university Barbara majored in Jungian psychology and began delving into astrology and cosmomythology. In 1974 she married Gerald Cudahy Clow and together they established Bear & Company as a highly successful publishing house for cutting-edge, "New Age" authors.

But coming back to those eight words that had so much impact on me. Let's deconstruct and decompress that "Isaiah" quote:

Monotheism is the defining feature of the Abrahamic religions which are at most 4,000 years old (since the patriarch Abraham supposedly lived in the era between 2,000 and 1,500 BCE). Hindus believe the Kali yuga or Age of Darkness began at midnight on 23 January 3,102 BCE. In effect, the advent of the Abrahamic era (dare I say error?) occurred approximately a thousand years into the Age of Darkness when all divine revelations were subject to severe distortion and refraction. Interestingly, scholars of the Mayan calendar report that in 3,113 BCE the Earth began traversing a 5,000-year beam of density emanating from the Galactic Core, during which humans would become more individualized and egocentric. This densification and dimming of human consciousness is supposed to terminate between 28 October 2011 and 21 December 2012.


Most astronomers concur that the Solar System is approximately 4.6 billion years old, as estimated by the radiometric dating of meteorites. The Earth, according to consensus scientific opinion, was probably formed shortly afterwards. Some point at the figure 4.56 billion years as the age of our planet. Paleoanthropologists can't quite agree as to exactly when Homo sapiens may have begun to appear on Earth, but the general time frame ranges between 400,000 to 160,000 years. Let's say Homo faber (tool-using hominids) began multiplying around 250,000 years ago. Though the concept of a single Almighty Creator God has been around for approximately 4,000 years, the word "monotheism" was introduced into the English language by the Neoplatonist philosopher, Henry More, only in 1660 - less than 350 years ago.


What does anthropocentrism mean? It is the belief that humans must be considered at the center of, and above any other aspect of, reality. Monotheistic religions posit that God granted Man "dominion over Nature" - in other words, human considerations take precedence over the rest of the ecosystem. Ultimately, this leads to the dangerous viewpoint that making money is the single most important human activity on earth and that hills exist just so wealthy folks may build luxury apartments from which to gaze upon the urban sprawl below. We have seen the catastrophic results of such egotistical and myopic thinking. Stringent legislation and stricter enforcement won't solve the problem in the long run - but a radical shift in consciousness and perspective most certainly will.


Alchemy (from the Arabic Al-kimia) postulates that the Matter Universe consists of four elements - Fire, Earth, Air, and Water - and that these elements are present on the micro- as well as the macrocosmic levels. Indeed, our physical bodies are a blend of these very elements. Fire represents vitality, spirit, intellect; Earth the mineral compounds that constitute our blood and bones and fleshly tissue; Air the breath that oxygenates and cleanses our lifeblood, separating us from death; and Water (which forms 60-80 per cent of our bodies), symbolizing our emotional tides, influenced by the electromagnetic interaction of the Moon's gravitational field with that of the Earth.


When I relocated from Kuala Lumpur in early 1992 to the verdant hills of Pertak, Ulu Selangor, I soon became acutely aware of the close proximity of all four elements in my ecstatically beautiful riverine environment. Just sitting on a 500-million-year-old granite rock aglitter with embedded quartzite, feeling the hot sun on my skin, the fragrant breeze in my hair, soothed by the neverending riversong of crystalline life-sustaining waters - I felt for the first time in my life completely and absolutely at home.


It's exquisitely therapeutic to find your analytical mind suddenly and spontaneously falling silent while all your senses come alive. You begin to grasp the notion of Zen, of being totally in the here and now. In this serene state of receptivity, your body begins to pick up impressions long forgotten or usually unnoticed in the hurly-burly of urban existence. The rock you're resting on begins to tell you stories in its own distinctive mineral voice. And you begin to perceive the holographic, fractal nature of form itself - wherein the rock you're connected with in turn connects you with the entire spectrum of mineral consciousness.


Gradually, it dawns on you that the compressed experience of spacetime imposed on us by routinely accepted constraints of modern living is no more than an ephemeral veneer of insensitivity, of a societally sanctioned sensory shutdown. Our natural state is to be in constant awe and wonderment at the glorious epiphanies that abound all around us.

Henner Wenkhausen
When indigenous cultures connect with the elements through their shamans, they do so in a spirit of friendly cooperation. The very idea of combating the forces of nature would strike them as foolish and futile. How can one possibly defeat the wind or vanquish the ocean waves? On the other hand, by understanding these majestic forces and respectfully working with them, one is able to harness their might for one's own purposes. Wind and wave and solar power could free us forever from the stranglehold of voracious corporations that trade in toxic fossil fuels. Do we truly believe we can suck dry the oil reserves with impunity? Have we never considered the possibility that these subterranean and suboceanic pockets of petroleum actually serve as hydraulic shock absorbers, preventing the tectonic plates from scraping together with results disastrous to dwellers on the earth's surface?


The element Air embodies the idea of interconnectivity, communication, communion. When we consciously share breath with another, we synchronize our heartbeats and merge our energy fields. We experience a melding on the soul level, a fusion of destinies. Interesting how in our figures of speech, air features prominently as a metaphor. For instance, Malays speak of khabar angin (gossip, rumors) just as Italians call gossipers venticelli (little winds). Those with noble hearts are considered "fragrant" (wangi in Malay) while others with malicious intent are described as "stinkers" (busuk). The nose obviously knows better then the brain!


Where integrity reigns and people are naturally inclined to speaking truthfully, atmospheric pollution is a virtual impossibility. If you live in an asphyxiating hellhole where pedestrians scurry around wearing gasmasks, car windows are constantly closed with the aircon going full blast, while outside the air is almost unbreathable from carbon monoxide fumes - it's a clear sign that lying has become a national pastime.


When 100-million-year-old hardwood forests are clearfelled and set on fire by oil palm companies, you can be sure that a great many untruths are being circulated about the sustainability of monoculture cash crop plantations and the illusory profits to be made from a nearsighted biofuel campaign. Indeed, some of the biggest logging concerns and oil palm corporations have ministers as major shareholders - and that explains why the annually recurring haze just won't go away. How does it feel to choke and gag on your own lies?


Water is the Vital Essence of Life, it's chi or prana in liquid form. Moistness is an indication of fertility, sensual ripeness, warmth of feeling; and dryness suggests sterility, barrenness, humorlessness, sexual apathy. In effect, water is the element that signifies our emotional flux. The tragic situation in Malaysia wherein anxiety about water shortages is used to justify the construction of unnecessary dams even as flash floods recur with debilitating frequency reveals the unhealthy state of the nation's emotional life. Floodwaters are murky, polluted and often accompanied by waterborne diseases. What does this indicate about the kind of emotions we are expressing... or not? Are we being governed through fear rather than love?


Monotheism and the Abrahamic religions are patriarchal by definition, since these belief systems involve worship of a male deity, a Heavenly Father or Lord. A bit of research into the early history of the monotheistic religions associated with Yahweh reveals that there was a systematic excision of pre-existing Goddess emblems by a misogynistic male priesthood.


Why was the Sacred Feminine suppressed? Look at your left and right brains. The left is regarded as the logical, male brain where abstract symbols are linearly processed into alphanumeric codes - in effect, language. The right is usually associated with intuitive functions such as spatial and temporal navigation and the processing of non-verbal sensory data - in short, the "female" brain. Male children are trained to suppress their emotions while females can cry since they are "the weaker sex." Patriarchal societies are largely warlike and male children are required as cannon fodder for military campaigns. We can't be sending sissies to the battlefield, can we?


Progress is measured in physical terms, never metaphysical. Development is infrastructural, rarely cultural. Science and technology are to be encouraged; arts and humanities are best suited to girls... and effeminate boys (would you like to see your only son become a ballet dancer and move around with the arty-farty gay crowd?) Homophobic, testosteronally propelled national aspirations will neither tolerate the ambiguity of poetry nor the nature mystic's recognition of the aliveness of the elements...


But, alas, only the poet, the mystic, and the true lover in each of us can access and befriend the elements, and restore balance and harmony to the land. Legislative measures and political rhetoric demanding a scientific and technological solution is, at best, the band-aid approach to serious environmental injury. How can we avoid wholesale eco-apocalypse - if we're too goddamn arrogant to apologize to Mother Nature for constantly trying to make a quick buck by flogging off her vital organs as commodities in the marketplace? If you were a magnificent old-growth rainforest, would you appreciate being gangbanged and chainsaw-massacred by loudmouthed louts who call you ugly names like "merchantable biomass"?


[First posted 7 November 2009]

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Court Philosopher encounters a Mountain Sage


I once read an apocryphal anecdote about a close encounter between Confucius and Laotze which greatly amused me. Having heard about the extraordinary wisdom of a wild mountain sage whose original name was no longer known, the Master Confucius was determined to seek him out and learn everything he could from this reputable sage.

After months of unrelenting search, following every lead that came his way, Confucius finally found himself approaching a humble cottage hidden among trees on a remote hillside. But there was nobody home. Determined to find the reclusive mountain sage, Confucius decided to follow a narrow trail that eventually led to a crystalline stream, and there he beheld a spritely elder perched on a mossy log with a makeshift fishing rod.

“Pardon the rude intrusion, but I assume you are the illustrious Master Laotze?” Confucius began. “I have sought you for many moons with a humble request.”

Laotze glanced at the intruder for a brief moment with a penetrating look and then turned back to his fishing. “What do you want?” he asked after a pause.

Confucius approached Laotze and sat down on the grass a respectful distance away. Clearing his throat, he declared: “I am Kung Fu-tze, Resident Philosopher of the magnificent Jing Court, and I have been authorized to offer you a lucrative lifetime tenure as Special Advisor to the King and Senior Mentor to his Offspring – a position that comes with your own luxurious quarters and a minimum of 10 household servants. I beg you to seriously consider.”

There was a long silence before Laotze finally spoke in a quiet voice, pointing to something he had spotted on the riverbank: “Do you see that tiny terrapin dragging its tail through the mud?” He continued, conversationally: “Many decades ago I visited the palace and saw, in the foyer, a gigantic tortoise on display, stuffed and mounted in a glass case, reputed to be the largest within memory. Well, I would much rather be that little fellow over there!”

Confucius was duly impressed by Laotze’s answer. “Forget about my foolish offer, Exalted Master!” he said apologetically, “but please accept me as your humble disciple and diligent student. I shall resign my position immediately and sit happily at your feet.”

Laotze looked directly at Confucius, brow furrowed as though in deep thought; then he burst out laughing and didn’t stop until Confucius, too, found himself laughing along. Finally the wild mountain sage placed a friendly hand on Confucius’s shoulder and gently said: “There is nothing you can learn from me and nothing for me to teach you. Don’t waste my time and your own, my friend. Come, let’s have some tea. You have a long journey home.”

To his credit, Confucius never had a negative thing to say about his brief encounter with Laotze. In later years when asked by his many admirers what it was like to meet the legendary wild mountain sage, he would smile and say: “How does one describe a dragon flying in the sky beyond the sight of men?”

[From a letter to Chris Ang dated 12 February 2020. First posted 12 March 2020]

Monday, October 26, 2020

9/11 was the excuse for global fascism to rear its ugly head. Who has benefited most from this colossal exercise in mass mind control? (reprise)



Published on 26 Dec 2012

This is the 1-hour version of our 1½ hour groundbreaking documentary 9/11: Explosive Evidence ~ Experts Speak Out which is available for purchase as a DVD in our online store or as a download or video-on-demand at http://www.911ExpertsSpeakOut.org .

Public Broadcasting Station, Colorado Public Television (cpt12.org), have courageously thrust themselves at the forefront of our nation's public service media network. CPT12 recently aired this powerful and controversial film as a featured premium during their Summer fundraising campaign.

The PBS national website then posted the re-broadcast which quickly became one of their "Most Watched" as well as "Most Shared" programs on PBS. 


It has been more than 19 years  since that fateful day in September 2001 and more and more people are becoming aware that they haven't gotten the whole story on 9/11. Over 1700 architects & engineers are leading the way at AE911TRUTH, with dozens of additional professionals joining them in this documentary to put their careers on the line in their demand for a new independent investigation. High-rise architects, structural engineers, scientists, physicists, chemists, scholars, educators, firefighters, forensic fire engineers, demolition experts and others have put together a ground-breaking scientific assessment of the events at the World Trade Center.

The sudden, complete collapse of the third skyscraper on 9/11, WTC Building 7 at 5:20pm, is now being seen around the world as "the smoking gun" which disproves the official story about 9/11. These experts also introduce additional "overwhelming evidence" for a controlled demolition hypothesis at WTC which is disturbing to say the least.

The film does not speculate, and empathizes with viewers by also presenting the most popular segment of the film, which introduces the professional perspectives of eight psychologists who explain some of the reasons why it is so hard for people to face the scientific evidence. This is the most scientific and compelling 9/11 documentary film to date, containing vital information that demands action from all of us. We can no longer afford to ignore the World Trade Center evidence.

Please support the organization which made this program possible by purchasing the DVD or making a tax-deductible donation at http://www.AE911TRUTH.org.

Shortened 58.5 minute version for promotional use. Please support AE911Truth by purchasing the DVD, downloading it or watching it now at http://www.911ExpertsSpeakOut.org

If you are truly impressed with the vital nature of our work we encourage you to make your tax deductible donation (We are a 501c3 non-profit organization) at http://www.AE911Truth.org

[First posted 7 November 2013]


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Evil in its most banal, mundane & insidious form always disguises itself as political correctness! (repost)


Death kills. That's the only thing we know for sure. To say "smoking kills" is not only untrue and grossly exaggerated - it's a damnable curse and whoever issued that warning will die within two days (and if he doesn't, who gives a fuck, because he's already brain-dead or, worse, entirely soulless). Why not spray-paint in 20-foot high letters on the side of the Pentagon: "War kills"? That I would totally agree with. And why not compel every BN minister to wear a sticker that reads: "Corruption destroys nations"? That would indeed be a warning worth heeding.


Is it anybody else's business how long one lives or doesn't?

I know of many who never smoked, drank only occasionally, ate well, exercised regularly - and yet were dead by the age of 44 or even younger. There are also many who do everything doctors insist is "bad for your health" - and yet they're still chugging along, healthy as a belly laugh, at age 92.

End of the day it doesn't matter how long you live - but how beautifully and creatively and truthfully. That's all that ultimately matters - I can assure you!

The panel should read "smokers tend to be funkier" but there's limited space (unless the font size is greatly reduced or removed altogether as it ought to be). Some folks may disagree outright with me, but what does it matter? It's a personal issue, no? Whenever folks invite me to a meal I tend to prefer dining outdoors, simply because there's nothing more delightful than lighting up after a satisfying meal. I used to enjoy riding in buses and airplanes in the days when smokers were allowed to sit at the back and do their thing - but those were good old days before the neo-puritan ayatollahs started their killjoy campaigns against everything that's pleasurable.

I don't drink, I don't gamble, I don't lie, I don't steal, I don't pretend to anything but what I am.

So who da fuck gives you da right to give smokers a hard time? 

If you enjoy campaigning against destructive behavior - go out and picket some logging, mining or oil company!

[First posted 30 October 2012]





Monday, October 19, 2020

Exclusive interview with the author of 'Murdered in Malaysia: The Altantuya Story'

Author  & blogger E.S. Shankar in his study

When did the idea of writing Murdered in Malaysia: The Altantuya Story first occur to you? How long did the process take till completion?

The idea was planted in my head by my cousin in June 2014. Like me, he was outraged that here was an open-and-shut case of a massive cover-up being so obviously orchestrated by the State, and no one was doing anything to expose it. People with no motive whatsoever were being convicted of murder. The entire machinery of justice – the police, AG, prosecutors, defence lawyers and the Judiciary – had been subverted and hopelessly undermined and compromised by Najib and his wife Rosmah, and yet the citizens seemed powerless to stop this travesty of justice.

I shot off the opening chapter the day following that conversation with my cousin. The outline of that chapter is pretty much as you see it now, relying on my memory, as I had been writing about the Altantuya murder at my blog for several years.

I completed the book in March 2015. I could have completed it earlier, but between October and December 2014, I had writer’s block and also got stuck on how to retrieve voluminous high court trial transcripts.

Were you able to gather any data directly from individuals linked to the drama or did you have to rely entirely on internet research?

No, I conducted no interviews, as I did not wish to alert anyone about this dangerous project, especially government authorities. Most of the material was gathered from internet research and blogs.

You mentioned at the start of the book that there were rumors of Altantuya Shaariibuu being a foreign agent, part of a honeytrap sting operation. Did you come across any further evidence that this may have been the case? Or do you believe she was merely misguided in the kind of company she kept?

The source of this possible foreign agent suspicion is from a certain Gopal Raj’s blog. Full details of this blog post is in Appendix 22 of MIM.

Altantuya Shaariibuu at a party
My gut feeling tells me that Altantuya meeting Abdul Razak Baginda was no coincidence or chance encounter. Given what had transpired with DCNS and the submarines scandals and murders in Taiwan and Pakistan, there is a strong possibility that someone in France recruited Altantuya with the intention of seducing Abdul Razak Baginda. After all, Abdul Razak Baginda was never a philandering husband or playboy before, did not have cash to burn and does not exactly have Hollywood or Bollywood looks, does he?

French investigators also found documents which incriminate Abdul Razak Baginda with leaking official secrets concerning the Navy’s procurement specifications and plans for which he was paid RM142 million.

So, it is not beyond the pale that DCNS once again recruited a femme fatale, this time Altantuya, to compromise Abdul Razak Baginda, as they did with Lily Liu in the Taiwan scandal.

The complication arises from PI Bala’s Statutory Declaration, where he claims Najib introduced Altantuya to Baginda. So, was Najib compromised in some way by the French as well? Scary thought, but interesting, isn’t it?

Did you have the opportunity to speak with P.I. Balasubramaniam before his suspiciously timed fatal heart attack a week before he was scheduled to go on the road with the Altantuya saga? If so, what did you learn from this personal contact?

No, I never met or spoken to PI Bala or his wife.

But, having read all the newspaper and online news portal articles, blogs and watched every single connected YouTube video, my honest opinion is that there was nothing suspicious about PI Bala’s heart attack and subsequent death.

Conspiracy theorists may beg to differ, but during that period he was constantly in the company of friends and family. The people linked to Altantuya’s murder may be at home with guns, bullets and C4 explosives. But crediting them with inducing remote-controlled coronary failures with or without chemicals and/or poison, would be far-fetched.

Of course in superstition-bound Malaysia, Deepak’s book about Rosmah’s witchcraft and bomoh sorties and escapades cannot be totally ignored!


There have been numerous U-turns made by various individuals linked to the case: first there was the dramatic withdrawal of P.I. Bala's incendiary statutory declaration of 1st July 2008, followed by a second statutory declaration on 4th July which glaringly omitted all references to Najib Razak. Then there was RPK's shocking appearance on TV3 in April 2011 where he backpedalled on his explosive 18 June 2008 statutory declaration naming Rosmah Mansor as an active party to the execution of the Mongolian woman. Following that we had Deepak Jaikishan's titillating series of media conferences wherein he revealed his own role in the dramatic damage control exercise following P.I. Bala's first SD, in the process implicating Najib Razak's brother Nazim, as well as Cecil Abraham, a senior legal counsel, in the cover-up. Shortly after Deepak's public confessions, there were reports of shady land deals involving Umno bigwigs who had attempted to shortchange Deepak, thereby prompting him to spill the beans. In the aftermath, Deepak Jaikishan abruptly vanished from public view, and even the Bar Council's disciplinary hearing on Cecil Abraham's alleged role in the cover-up eventually evaporated into thin air. Do you believe money was the common denominator in all these high-profile U-turns? Or might there have been ominous threats involved?

We have to look at each case separately.

PI Bala was certainly coerced into withdrawing SD1. His wife and children’s lives were also threatened. They were bundled out of Malaysia to Singapore, Thailand, and then India, within 24 hours of SD1. Who has the power to do that in Malaysia? Who has the power to alter immigration records, as testified to by Altantuya’s cousin?  No doubt PI Bala, finding himself in a Catch 22 situation, tried to make some money in the circumstances he was thrust into. But, his primary motivation in pointing the finger at Najib and others was never money.

RPK’s son Azman who was in prison on trumped-up charges of theft had claimed he was being tortured in prison and had attempted suicide. The relationship between father and long-lost son may have been tenuous. But, it would have taken a cold-hearted father of stone to ignore a son’s dire predicament in that situation. Whatever deal RPK made with Najib, the result was his son was freed and found his way to safety soon in London.

But everyone must remember that in RPK’s original SD, he clearly did not say what everyone thought he did. The opening sentence there clearly starts with “I have been reliably informed…” He was clearly saying he only had second-hand knowledge of the accusations against Najib and Rosmah. So, he can’t really be faulted for everyone’s presumption. Of course he could have clarified it later, instead of allowing the apparent misunderstanding to mushroom internationally, but did nothing to dampen opinions that Najib and Rosmah were guilty.

When he attempted to do so in the 2011 TV3 interview, he of course lost credibility and respect. Legions of his fans dumped him forever.

Deepak Jaikishan the carpet dealer
What we should now take seriously are Deepak’s numerous accusations implicating Najib and Rosmah in Altantuya’s murder and in coercing PI Bala to recant SD1.

Deepak belongs in that exclusive class of Malaysia’s amoral Alibaba fraudtrepreneurs. Money is his only credo. He was investigated by MACC and Bank Negara and came out with guns blazing that he was fronting for Najib and Rosmah.

But, so far he has not been sued by Najib or Rosmah for his accusatory YouTube videos, Black Rose 1.0, witchcraft book, etc. So, the public are entitled to assume that Najib and Rosmah are guilty.

We can also assume that Deepak has the real goods on Najib and Rosmah, for how else can he still be walking tall and free?

Deepak did not vanish. He got married in 2014 and probably needed some private time to think things out, given the additional family baggage and responsibility.

He also came out last year saying he was prepared to testify against Najib and Rosmah under oath if he were granted full immunity.

In recent days, it has emerged that Deepak has decided not to contest the civil case filed against him by PI Bala’s wife, represented by solicitor Americk Sidhu. This basically means that all that PI Bala had stated in SD1 is true and Deepak concurs that Najib and Rosmah were absolutely behind PI Bala’s disappearance and withdrawal of SD1.

As for the Bar Council's ongoing inquiry into Cecil Abraham’s possible misconduct – illegally drafting PI Bala’s SD2 - we are still waiting for a public announcement of its verdict. The delay is annoying, but no doubt they will come out with some statement like: “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine” - or something boring like that.


There are hundreds of interwoven threads around the Altantuya murder case involving complexities within complexities. How were you able to gather these seemingly disparate threads and re-weave them into a coherent, readable narrative? Did you use index cards or special software to keep the data organized and accessible?

E.S. Shankar: encyclopedic erudition
No, it’s nothing special. I did it the old-fashioned way that has much to do with my UK (London) accountancy training as what in those days was referred to as an ‘articled clerk.’ I went about it methodically, downloaded and organized articles and links in folders in my Dell laptop, and made copious notes in an old diary. I then read and re-read them many, many times to gather and understand it all.

Fortunately, I have an analytical brain that can (no, I don’t have a photographic memory) accommodate and retain a vast array of information, recall and search out the threads, and often make connections, and write them out in a logical and fairly readable manner.

Please give us a brief summary of your career prior to your embarking on your current vocation as an author of controversial books?

I must first tell you that during my schooldays, Mokhtar Dahari, Malaysia’s greatest footballer, was in the same year in Victoria Institution as I was. We both played for the VI U/15 first eleven. We even used to cycle home together. This is something I have always been proud of and can never forget.

I am what is called a P/Q accountant (part qualified). I did not get through all my final Chartered Accountancy (ICAEW) exam papers way back in the 1980’s. On returning to Malaysia, I worked as the financial controller and later CEO in a leading private company. After stints at business development at two real estate Plcs, and a brief stint as a consultant at a Plc, I quit working in 2009, to embark on full-time writing.

Like so many, I was outraged by the kangaroo courts and crooked trials in the persecution of Anwar Ibrahim. I decided I had to do something to stop Malaysia from becoming a police state and embarked on satire and sopo blogging, as writing was my forte. The threads of my various blog posts led to Tiger Isle: A Government of Thieves published by Gerakbudaya Enterprise.

However, Tiger Isle was not my first book. In 2011 I collated all my blog posts from my VI blog (about my schooldays between 1966-1972) and self-published them as a hard-cover book titled Let Us Now With Thankfulness. Sales were surprisingly brisk.

I have a great interest in Malaysian history, and have written articles about Parameswara, Hang Li Po, etc., based on the Sejarah Melayu, and a short piece titled A Brief History of the Peoples of Malaya.

Besides that, I read everything I can get my hands on about cosmology, quantum theory and phenomena (so far I have understood perhaps about 30%, probably less, of what I’ve read). My other hobbies besides reading are cricket, football and music (very eclectic taste as in books).

Your debut novel, Tiger Isle: A Government of Thieves, was published in late 2012. It depicts a fictional kleptocracy broadly inspired by actual events and characters in Malaysia. Was the book well received by the public and did it result in any unwanted attention from the Malaysian secret police?

Yes, the initial print was well received and sold out. But, there have been no reprint orders, despite the fact that Tiger Isle won the 3rd prize for fiction in the STAR/Popular national literary awards. Booker prize winner Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists was placed 2nd!!

As for unwanted attention from the Special Branch, no, I received none. I was told by some informed bloggers that the standard of English is so poor in Malaysia nowadays, that a satire/fiction novel in English would fly way below the radar of Najib’s thugs and goons.

Was Murdered in Malaysia written in Malaysia or when you were living abroad? Did you go into voluntary exile because you anticipated unpleasant consequences if you remained in the country? Or were you already planning to migrate anyway?

MIM was conceived and completed wholly in Malaysia.

I went overseas only in September of this year, as clearly, I feared for my safety and life once the book was published. I am no Mandela, and as someone recently said, you can’t do much fighting from the inside of a prison.

I have never contemplated emigrating. Malaysia has always been my home. If the coast was clear, I would return home in a flash.

Altantuya & son
From all the evidence already on hand it would appear that the only reasonable conclusion we can arrive at is that there has been a colossal cover-up to protect the most powerful couple in the nation. With the Attorney-General's Chambers and the Chief of Police actively collaborating to suppress a potential resurrection of the Altantuya case - and with the Scorpene investigation in France yielding no further results after several years - do you envisage any unforeseen breakthroughs that might lead to a final denouement in this gruesome drama?

No one must be allowed to get away with murder. No one. In the Altantuya killing, we also have the added spice of corruption involving the RM7.5 billion Scorpene submarines, treason and perversion of the course of justice by Najib and Rosmah. The Navy, police, AG and judiciary are all involved in this travesty of justice.

No, we must keep pressing till Najib is thrown out of office, and a truly independent Royal Commission of Inquiry is instituted to lift us out of the clutches of this government of murderers and thieves.

One of the convicted assassins is currently detained by Australian immigration, while the other is presumably still in prison pending execution. Do you feel there might be a possibility that either or both may decide to go public with their stories and tell all?

I doubt either will talk any more. Azilah has remained silent from day one. We can safely assume that whatever deal was struck between him and Najib/Rosmah, it has been honored and he will go to the gallows as his part of the bargain. Of course, there is talk (not to be discounted) that eventually, he will receive a royal pardon.

Sirul has now made the startling admission that it was Abduk Razak Baginda who pulled the trigger. Despite that, our worthless and political IGP insists that there is no new evidence to re-open the murder investigations. Should he not be hung by his goolies?

I also believe that Sirul is using his safe position in Australia to canvass for money from Najib. He has asked for A$15 million to keep his gap shut. No, he will never go public with so much money at stake.


In recent months another monumental scandal has erupted in the form of 1MDB. Do you feel this massive financial debacle has eclipsed the Altantuya murder? Many who seemed apathetic to seeing justice being done in the Mongolian murder case now appear to be galvanized into action by the prospect of being held liable to a public debt of unprecedented proportions. Does this suggest to you that money remains the bottom line - not ethics, morality, or justice?

No, the Altantuya murder has not been forgotten in Malaysia or in the rest of the world. Do remember that PI Bala’s civil case against PM Najib and his two brothers, Rosmah, etc, is not over. I would bet my bottom dollar that Americk Sidhu and his team will not let up even if our judges continue to place obstacles in their way.

Do not forget that the 101 East team from Al Jazeera is keeping close tabs on every development of the case - as is Sarawak Report, The Wall Street Journal, Asia Sentinel, The Economist, and one or two leading newspapers in Australia..

The 1MDB fraud and fiasco is godsent. It has furnished us firm, additional evidence that Najib is a serial liar and thief, and is unfit to be the prime minister of even a fourth world state. His statement that RM2.6 billion deposited in his personal bank account was a “donation from a friendly Arab party’ has provoked intense anger and outrage among Malaysians as never before.

The real problem in Malaysia is public apathy created by Najib and his minions with our descent into a police state. The well-off fear loss of their accumulated wealth and comforts. The silent majority have that ‘let that other guy fight for our rights’ attitude. If push comes to shove, they will sulk in silence or emigrate. So, ethics and morality are forced to take a back seat while the nation burns.

History tells us that a few good men and women will have to lead and make the sacrifices.

As a relatively young independent nation, we have a long way to go before ethics, justice, moral and human rights issues take precedence over money. You must remember that before the USA became what it is today, they had to fight a war of independence and go through a civil war, all within 100 years of 1775.

So, there is hope for Malaysia yet!

Najib and Rosmah remain in charge of the main levers of government, despite being the target of so much negative publicity. Yet the feeling on the ground is that their luck has almost run out and that they will soon be forced to step down, no matter whom they bribe. Do you think, when they are no longer in power, that the Altantuya saga will be revived and finally resolved?

The era of Najib/Rosmah’s villainy is a shameful period in Malaysian history. Our Constitution will have to be amended to ensure that never again shall so much power be allowed to be concentrated in one person’s hands.

The Altantuya murder MUST be one of the primary issues to be resolved post-Najib/Rosmah. The PEOPLE must be protected from such an incident ever again recurring.

What would be the ideal of scenario, in your view, if power changes hands in Malaysia? Under what circumstances would you feel comfortable enough to return to your homeland?

Power will definitely change hands for the better in Malaysia. It is only a question of when. Look at Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India and China and no one can doubt that the change WILL come.

Ideally, we should proscribe race or religion based political parties. Religion should be removed from the province of government funded or aided schools and institutions of higher learning, government offices and statutory bodies.

I will negotiate to return as soon as Najib is thrown out of office. I will ask for immunities from government prosecution and/or private criminal or civil law suits relating to MIM, and guarantees for my safety and that of my family.



This meticulously researched, honest and informative book is for you and for all those Malaysians who want to know the full truth about the disgraceful and barbaric murder of a Mongolian girl, who had the misfortune to associate herself with persons which led ultimately to her murder and the disintegration of her dead body, and perhaps her unborn child, by explosion.

E.S Shankar has produced a tour de force in terms of research and the comprehensive scope of his enquiries, leaving no stone unturned in his quest to bring to light facts that were disgracefully suppressed and covered up by one of the most shocking examples of interference in the judiciary that Malaysia has experienced in its history. The impact on the independence of Malaysia's law enforcement agencies has been far-reaching and malign.

Clare Rewcastle-Brown


Encourage your friends to buy this book and support 
freedom of information and justice.

[First posted 19 October 2015]



Tuesday, October 13, 2020

COMMON GROUND (reprise)

Many decades ago I came to the conclusion that the day would soon arrive when humanity will be faced with imminent extinction - unless it has enough good sense to outgrow antiquated, anthropocentric belief systems and find common ground with all the other lifeforms with which we share the biosphere. A cursory glance at news headlines over the past week (death toll rising from Sumatra earthquake, massive floods in India and the Philippines, destructive storms and mudslides in Southern California) has convinced me that that fateful day has indeed arrived. In fact, it probably arrived at least 10 years ago, but our so-called leaders were too busy plotting world domination to notice. And, even as I type this, many continue on the same tack.
  Even with a black dude in the White House, it appears that not much has changed. There's still talk of increasing troop levels in Afghanistan - instead of finding a non-military win-win solution and declaring an immediate ceasefire. Some continue to threaten a nuclear attack on Iran. In effect, it's clear that the giant oil companies and international financiers still hold sway when it comes to deciding the political agenda. Why else are Greenpeace volunteers climbing onto the roof of the British Parliament to draw global attention to climate change? Closer to home, the component parties of Pakatan Rakyat are faced with a genuine dilemma: can they transcend their own party ideologies and infighting, and agree upon a few universal principles on which they can find common ground?

  In other words, are we capable of stepping back from the petty issues clouding our vision and taking time out to contemplate the Big Picture; to once again see the beauty and majesty of the forest instead of squabbling over a few scrawny trees? Some folks go ga-ga over puppies and treat their dogs as equal members of the family, to the extent of sharing a bed with their furry pets. Others recoil at the mere sight of a canine, believing that dogs are unclean and that if one comes into contact with canine saliva, it could ruin their prospects of going to heaven. Some exhibit an irrational fear of dogs, even when the mutt's tail is wagging. Strange, isn't it, that some folks actually believe being licked by a dog is a greater "sin" than behaving in a cruel and insensitive manner towards animals?
  How can we possibly find common ground with people who think drinking beer or doing a bit of yoga or displaying some bare skin are far worse transgressions against their religion than accepting gross injustice and wholesale corruption?

If the water supply is poisoned, everybody gets sick or dies - regardlesss of whether they worship in a mosque or a church or a temple or are completely apathetic about the existence or non-existence of God. Similarly, if the air is severely polluted, EVERYBODY CHOKES - and it doesn't matter a whit if you've been celibate your whole life or earn your living as a prostitute.
  In effect, environmental degradation impacts on everyone and everything across the entire spectrum of belief. Whether you're a corrupt and horny Umno minister or a rare Amazonian horned toad, ecosystemic health is one thing you can't afford to ignore. 

I realize that certain religions teach their followers to disregard the physical world as merely illusory or, at best, ephemeral. Therefore, their attitude towards the ecosystem is: why bother if everything seems to be falling apart? The crucial thing is to be a staunch believer and have unshakeable faith that the devout will be translated into rapture on Judgment Day - or be resurrected from their graves and exalted in heaven. There are certainly a few fundamentalist Christian sects that preach precisely this. 

In America they are called the Christian-Zionist rightwing and they are the ones who have been pushing their Armageddon agenda, in the hope that accelerating the advent of the Final Apocalypse will hasten the return of their savior, Jesus Christ. Such a belief system borders on psychosis, but I'm pretty sure they constitute a very tiny minority. Those of us who consider ourselves sane must greatly outnumber these eschatological extremists. How does one measure sanity? For a start, being able to appreciate beauty and enjoy the sensation of being alive puts one on firm ground. To be able to delight in all our senses; to savor the taste of fine cooking, the sensuous feel of rich satin, the aroma of burning grass, the splendor of a painted sky or a vivid rainbow, the haunting strains of a flute at twilight or a mellifluous voice raised in melodious song; these are the unmistakeable symptoms of sanity, the hallmarks of a living, conscious being endowed with a zest for life.
  This is where we can all find common ground. Appreciation of nature's beauty and the simple joys of our incarnate existence in the physical world. The gamut of powerful emotions to be experienced and explored as we spin merrily around the Sun affords us access to the mystery of existence itself. The Chinese place great premium on the quality of air and water. They call it fengshui (from the Chinese words for "wind" and "water"). With good fengshui, prosperity, good health and longevity follow as a matter of course. Can you imagine, then, what follows upon our cavalier mistreatment of the living ecosystem that sustains us? When we pollute the air with vehicular emissions and factory fumes and poison the waters with industrial effluents, what are we creating for ourselves and for our progeny if not hell on earth? Do we as a species have sufficient maturity and understanding to set aside trivial prejudice and inherited programming - and come together consciously and cooperatively to restore the health of our precious environment? Do we have the political will to get our priorities right? In our obsession with facts and figures and pie charts, have we blinded ourselves to what is glaringly obvious to anyone who takes time out to sit atop a hill and gaze around in awe at nature's inherent magnificence? It doesn't matter what color the skin you're born in happens to be; nor does it make a difference which direction you face when praying, or if you even pray at all. Country bumpkin or city slicker, you are an inextricable part of the whole complex spectrum of energetic interactions that synergetically constitute what we call "Life on Earth." If you can stop in your tracks and integrate this simple truth... there's a damn good chance you will be able to find some common ground - not only with other humans that populate the planet, but also with the marvelous diversity of biological species that contribute to the neverending dance of life, death and rebirth. 

Begin from there and we stand a pretty good chance of liberating ourselves from the tyranny of money and military might. By recalibrating our lives around the celebration of beauty and truth, we shall emerge triumphant from our cocoons of limited vision and experience the freedom and joy of life without end.
[First posted 14 October 2009]

Sunday, October 11, 2020

MORE THAN A MERE FESTIVAL (repost)

Opening Ceremony and Welcome Party, 12 July 2007

RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (13-15 JULY 2007): the 10th edition of Sarawak’s best and biggest gawai*

It gets harder and harder to review Sarawak’s Rainforest World Music Festival without sounding like someone who’s had a lobotomy and can’t stop grinning like an imbecile. Especially when this was the great 10th anniversary reunion we’d been anticipating since the end of last year’s bash.

So I’ll start from the bottom of the scale of joy with the unmistakable pong of dogshit as I checked into my room at the Santubong Resort, which houses the performers and media guests every year. Then I noticed the dogs and their handlers stationed around Cell Blocks 8 and 9 (which accentuated the penitentiary architecture of this remotely-located 3-star hotel all the more). I found out later the dogs were part of a bomb-sniffing team imported from the Philippines for the occasion. The Sarawak Tourism Board was taking no chances. A 55-man security team from Miri was on hand to scan festival-goers at the entrance with metal detectors. Sign of the paranoid times…

But the moment the music begins the untameable magic of Santubong kicks in… and petty discomforts like the clammy heat and long queues for the shuttles fade from memory. How many sweet and sweaty bodies were counted on Saturday night alone, grooving to the music? 9,000…11,000? I don’t know, but from where I stood near the stage it was certainly the hugest crowd I’ve seen since the festival’s quiet start in 1998.


On the bill were 19 of the hottest acts drawn from the previous nine years: Black Umfolosi, the ever-popular gumboot-dancing a capella group from Zimbabwe made their third appearance – and, once again, had the crowd waving their hands and singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in perfect unison. Gets a tad tiresome for the jaded ones like me – but it’s soulful stuff, I admit.

Black Umfolosi strut their stuff on the first night of the festival

Also on their third round were Shooglenifty – the Edinburgh-based “acidcroft” band that’s been cranking out their own brand of funky Celtic fusion since 1990 and has acquired a laid-back sophistication along with an iconic mystique. Core members Angus Grant (fiddle), Garry Finlayson (banjo), Malcolm Crosbie (guitar), and James MacIntosh (drums) were a joy to behold in action; Luke Plumb, their 28-year-old mandolin player from Tasmania, combined teen appeal with prodigious technique, and new bassist Quee MacArthur was rock solid (though I found myself missing their former bassist Conrad Ivitsky’s syncopative agility).

Shooglenifty rides again at the Rainforest World Music Festival!

The third band to have played three times at the RWMF was Inka Marka – a South American group based in Melbourne. As usual, their mellifluous voices blended with panpipes, charango, and flute to conjure the uplifting poignancy of the Andes.

The Tuvan throat-singers of Huun Huur Tu teamed up once again with Russian techno-trance band Malerija to effect a molecular shift amongst the tranced-out crowd. The first time they performed in 2003 there was a full moon which magnified the general euphoria.

From Madagascar we had Tarika Be, featuring the alluring sisters Hanitra (pronounced “Anch”) and Noro, with an instrumentalist named Njaka in tow, whose sensitivity as a musician was remarkable for one so young.

Hanitra’s songs of freedom, courage, and nonconformity – and her irresistibly sexy stage image – were in stark contrast to her demure and prayerful solo performance on the small stage, accompanied only by the delicate lyricism of Njaka’s valihy (a bamboo zither originally from Borneo, which has strong genetic and cultural links to Madagascar).

Throughout the three days the general atmosphere was one of jubilation and joy. There was one outbreak of drunken aggro, promptly managed by the security crew, but the greatest annoyance by far were several loudmouthed sons-of-lumberjacks who insisted on jabbering inanely near the stage during quiet moments. However, even the intrusive foreground noise (compounded by the moans and sighs of tabla-player Siar Hachimi’s all-girls fan club) couldn’t deter Ensemble Kaboul from delivering a superb and heartfelt performance.

Khaled Arman, master of the rebab (which he plays like a sitar) engages with Siar Hachimi on tabla

Mas Y Mas captured in action on 13/07/07 by Antares

Arguably the biggest hit this year were Mas Y Mas – an entire Latin Afro-Cuban orchestra compressed into an ebullient trio from Nottingham, U.K. Featuring a spritely Wayne D. Evans on a hundred-year-old doublebass, Richard Kensington on percussion, and the incredibly talented Rikki Thomas-Martinez on guitar and lead vocals, Mas Y Mas (which means “more and more”) are indeed well-named. Every time they played - on stage or at their Latin Rhythms workshop - people kept demanding more and more of their infectious music and wit. Mas Y Mas first played at the RWMF in 2004 and instantly fell in love with Malaysia. Certainly it’s been a love reciprocated.

The Doghouse Skiffle Group from Hull went down pretty well too, considering the trio specializes in tongue-in-cheek cowboy tunes. Keith Cheesman held it together with his chunky rhythm guitar, Alan Harman did smirking chimp impersonations while thumping his one-string tea-chest bass, and Garry Pullen mesmerized the crowd with Hopalong Cassidy poses, Texan boots, and whimsical kazoo and washboard solos. Their audacious cover of the Beatles’ A Day in the Life (introduced as “an old English folksong”) qualifies them as past masters of their craft.

At their first appearance two years ago the Foghorn Stringband from Oregon got the crowd square-dancing under the stars. As traditional American country bands go, Foghorn plays as tight as it gets – but after three numbers their songs start sounding pretty much the same. From Peninsular Malaysia we had the Aseana Percussion Unit which features gifted homegrown percussionists like Kamrul Bahri Hussin and Kirubakaran. The group’s colourful exuberance and its muhibbah repertoire of crowd-pleasing numbers carried it through – but they were conspicuously lacking in emotional depth and musical substance.

Khac Chi
, a versatile, Vancouver-based husband-and-wife act from Vietnam, are in a class of their own in terms of sheer musical skill and entertainment value. They travel with a portable museum of traditional and homemade instruments – mostly bamboo, with a few constructed by Chi himself from rubber honkers.

Bich and Chi have perfected a workshop routine with high amusement and amazement quotients

Also from Vancouver was the venerable multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch (who proposed the idea of the RWMF ten years ago and served as festival director for the first few years). Randy’s presence as “proud daddy” added to the celebratory atmosphere - while his astonishing prowess on an exotic array of ethnic instruments was an education in itself. His inspired but all-too-brief performance - brilliantly backed by Johari Morshidi and Ainal Johari on percussion - encapsulated the essence of what “world music” is all about.

Randy Raine-Reusch & Tabuh Pak Ainal improvise on dulcimer, djembe and Malay drums

Sarawak was represented by sape virtuoso Jerry Kamit; a dynamic father-and-son percussion act called Tabuh Pak Ainal (named after Johari Morshidi’s precocious 16-year-old son Ainal, who began performing at 7); and the 30-member Kelapang Kelabit Bamboo Band (whose early set I unfortunately missed).

Mah Meri ceremonies and rituals are a rare and spectacular visual feast

However, I was very glad I caught the Mah Meri of Carey Island in action. Theirs was a visually spectacular act, rarely seen outside the confines of tribal tradition, and I was impressed by how impeccably they presented themselves before such a huge crowd of strangers. Another great opening act I witnessed was the item by Anak Adi’ Rurum – a beautiful bunch of Kelabit youngsters under the tutelage of Nikki Lugun whose sincerity and passion to preserve a fading culture brought an unexpected tear to the eye.

Tammorra, a rousing Sicilian group with impressive vocal power and musicality, was a very welcome rerun. As was Shannon from Poland – a big hit in 2005 with their virile Celtic folkrock sound. However, this time around, the band had evolved in a different direction with a major change of personnel: Marcin Drabik had joined them on electric violin with a flamboyance reminiscent of Jean-Luc Ponty on steroids, and band leader Marcin Ruminski’s delectable fiancĂ©e Maria Namyslowska was featured on keyboards and vocals, contributing not only a feminine element but also fresh musical ideas. Not everybody was pleased with the new Shannon sound – but I found it ecstatic, triumphal, adventurous, and even more danceable.

As is often the case, the real finale happened spontaneously after the festival – when Enrique Sanchez (Inka Marka) and Rikki Thomas-Martinez (Mas Y Mas) began singing romantic Latin duets at the poolside and Garry Finlayson (Shooglenifty) whipped out his banjo and proceeded to play some exquisitely epiphanic riffs. Soon the Foghorn fellows began insinuating their prudish 4/4 beats into the mix - but just as I was on the verge of wandering off to bed, a few members of Black Umfolosi jumped in with their Zulu chants and transformed the cowpokes into true-blue world musicians. I finally dragged myself from that festive scene with the trill of magpies serenading the dawn.

EPILOGUE

The Sarawak Tourism Board has done such a great job with the Rainforest World Music Festival it has now become a famous fruit-bearing tree whose seeds are being planted in other gardens. Indeed, Penang just hosted its first world music festival from July 20-22 with RWMF artistic director Yeoh Jun Lin leading the team. And rightly so, for Ms Yeoh herself was originally a product of Penang.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SARAWAK TOURISM BOARD
VIDEO CLIPS © ANTARES/MAGICK RIVER

[More video clips will be added as I finish editing and compressing. Bookmark this blogpost and return over the next few days for more great moments from RWMF 2007!]
*This review first published @ kakiseni.com
First posted 26 July 2007