Saturday, March 21, 2009

Equinox Babies

Star Commmander Lee Ahau Ben Anoor-Antares arrived on Earth @ 2:00AM, 21 March 1996

Celebrating Ahau's 13th year on the planet


Ahau at the computer, 21 March 2009

Réjane Magloire, a witchy diva and sexy grandma residing in Brussels, is another equinox baby.

One more equinox baby for good measure: my newfound blogger buddy, the exquisitely enchanting Estrelita Soliano Grosse!
Happy birthday, sweeties!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Deepavali Prediction (reprise)


A dear friend I've known for more than 40 years showed up yesterday with a beautiful companion. I already had several other visitors who came to spend a mellow Sunday afternoon at the river. As usually happens when a group of convivial friends assemble on my scenic veranda, we soon were discussing the political impasse that has brought deep furrows to many a Malaysian brow.

There was talk of the obscene manner in which the Umno old guard was throwing their financial support behind Najib's quest for prime ministership out of sheer desperation. Their fear and panic are quite understandable. Indeed, they are essentially fighting to save their own skins, and certainly not because they give two hoots about the welfare of this country. The possibility of a Pakatan Rakyat government is all too real to them - notwithstanding the jeers and taunts of ill-wishers and establishment pundits who point fingers and wag tongues at the apparent "failure" of Anwar Ibrahim's 916 takeover plan.

Umnoputera capitalists who built their business empires on the fast track during Mahathir's 22-year reign, are petrified by the thought that a new government will implement genuine reforms of the judiciary, the Anti-Corruption Agency and the police; unmuzzle the mainstream media and - in the process of a massive spring cleaning - uncover a terracotta army of cobwebby skeletons, thereby exposing them to prosecution and public humiliation, leading to enforced exile or even imprisonment.


Anyway, my old friend said something that pricked all our ears. Apparently, he has been consulting a medical astrologer named Dr K who practises traditional Indian horoscopy in combination with powerful astrological software. Not only can he generate detailed horoscopic charts on his computer in a matter of seconds, he also happens to be unerringly intuitive in his interpretation of the data.

In February 2008, weeks before the general election of March 8th which altered the political destiny of Malaysia, this astrologer had dropped a hint that the nation was in for a couple of years of extraordinary upheaval: by the end of 2008, he said, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his son-in-law would be removed from power by their own party. At the time, my friend was skeptical about this prediction - it seemed so totally unlikely.

But now, twelve months after GE12, Dr K's prediction is beginning to manifest with uncanny accuracy. So my friend started taking seriously what Dr K had told him in February last year. The astrologer's specialty is medical diagnosis and prognosis, but his methodology could easily be applied to corporations and entire countries.

And what Dr K had predicted, in addition, was that Umno's power succession plan was ill-fated and would end in utter disarray. By early 2009 there would be a vote of no-confidence against whomsoever inherited the PM's job, resulting in Parliament being dissolved and fresh elections called. A new government would be voted in and Umno would take on the role of parliamentary Opposition.


This would not spell the end of Malaysia's political and financial turmoil - but if we successfully navigate our way through the turbulent sea changes of 2009, Malaysia will rise like a phoenix from 2010 onwards. Dr K concluded: "If you were thinking of taking all your money out of Malaysia, that would be a foolish move. From 2010 onwards this country will shine like a beacon of peace and prosperity in the world."

I've always felt that this country was born under a lucky sign. And that the day will soon come when all of us can celebrate our unity in glorious diversity - and the wealth of genetic resources that is the true legacy of having been visited and influenced by so many different cultures, ancient and modern. Happy Deepavali, folks, one and all!



[Originally posted 27 October 2008]

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WHY I TOLERATE FACEBOOK...

About a week ago I received a message via Facebook from someone I hadn't been in contact with since 1989. I'd known her as Virginia Kelly and she had been traveling with her bosom pal Jane when I met the duo on Tioman Island. Jane and Virginia accepted my invitation to visit when they were in KL and I recall we had a real jolly time. Then they left for Australia and there was an exchange of letters for a period, but that eventually fizzled out.

Virginia sent me a lovely, chatty email along with a whole bunch of scanned images that effectively collapsed the 20-year gap. It was truly delightful to view photos taken in 1989 that I had never seen. Whatever happened to my youthful good looks! :-)

Anyway, I just felt like sharing this recently retrieved fragment of the past with my regular readers...

The Rt. Hon. Armpit or Nutopian Embassy Residence @ 7 Pesiaran Ampang Hilir where I lived from 1970-1991. Looked like a hovel from the outside but it felt like a palace to me!

The-Pyramid-That-Xandi-Built was located behind 'The Armpit' and served as an exotic guestroom

The cluttered living room where I received a broad spectrum of visitors: from junkies and prostitutes to princes, princesses, sages, wizards, kings and queens in exile, and goddesses of all shapes and sizes

The cap was a present from Denis Hewett. It's still lying around somewhere!

Roxanne, the neurotic dog I inherited from former housemate Jeanne Donven

Virginia's attempt at low-light portraiture... or perhaps I was completely stoned at the time?

Jane and Virginia (wearing my Balinese jacket) dining at the Bangles

Mary, Virginia and Jane at CJ's pub

Aha! It appears I was there too...

Who dat Dancin' Fool?

Now he's making a monkey of himself on the drumkit...

Imbi Road was a favorite haunt (oops, whose earring am I wearing?)

Camera on self-timer. Sorry, my hand got in the way, Mary!


Warding off Virginia's pheromones (or zapping her with chi, not sure exactly what I was up to)

The 1972 Fiat Polski I inherited from Xandi Hoesch, the famous pyramid builder

Hello dear Antares,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply to my message on facebook. I was so happy to hear from you. Sorry I have taken so long to reply, you must think me very slack...

When I told Jane that I had googled you on the net and had actually found you.... she was amazed and said “so did he remember us”? I said to her well he didn’t actually say if he did... I think he did... but I can’t be sure ha ha ha ha!!! You were a very popular, extremely charismatic and fascinating special being then with loads of friends, and I can see that continues with over 1,100 friends on facebook. Wow!!! So I think for you to remember 2 young Aussie girls that briefly passed through would be pretty amazing... although I do think we kept in touch for a little while - you wrote to me in London... I do remember you sent me that pic of you and Marilia (the one you have on your bio). So then I dug out my ‘ol travel pics and found some of us and thought I would send them to you. I assume you have broadband with all your blogging with loads of pics etc. (I do hope you do... apologies in advance for the large email if you haven’t!!! but I think somehow you must to do what you do on the net???)

Anyway none of the pics are fabulous shots but some are funny with the expressions on some of our faces!!! Anyway I hope that the pics jog your memory (apologies for the blurry ones!! but I still thought they were worth sending even if they were blurry!!)

Oh there was another thing I thought was funny and wanted to share with you... Jane & I were both reminiscing - about lots of things... then we started talking about the little presents that you gave each of us the day we left your place in KL. The little round tin you gave me with the dice in it. The blue scarab beetle you gave Jane. I have my tin sitting on top of my fridge and frequently give it a little shake of the die and I have a code for different numbers... for some answers to some questions... strange I know... but I have always had it not far from me all these years... and Jane (who is extremely minimalist) still has her scarab beetle in her bedside drawer... I was so surprised about that... She rents a little building on this guy's place (he had originally built it for his wife to use to massage clients... (she left him... for a client I think!!) anyway it’s just a room with another room with a small kitchen and small bathroom... So being so small she doesn’t have very much with her... I guess what I am saying that I think it amazing that 2 old women (I can’t believe I said that about Jane and I ha ha ha !!!) still have those gifts from so long ago and they both still mean so much to us both... Hmmm ain’t that nice... Got a nice warm feeling now have you!!! ha ha ha!!! Well you should - you deserve it!!

Well it is a couple of days later and I still haven’t finished this email... Andy and I just got back from Brisbane today... We went down to go see the band ‘Coldplay’ it was a good night... We both really enjoy our music. I like most of the music he likes but he doesn’t like a lot of music I do... I recently went down on my own to Brisbane to see Leonard Cohen... You’d know him wouldn’t you? He is more of a poet than a singer. I just couldn’t miss this tour... At 74 he decided to tour again... and said quite honestly it was because he needed the money. I love his music, in fact I can say it was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. Andy makes fun of him saying his music is depressing and he calls his music wrist slashing music to die to,,. I say if you think that you just “don’t get it” Ha ha ha!!!

I have so enjoyed looking through the pics you have on facebook and also the family pod pics... through other links. I see Mary is there... We met Mary, I am sure it is the same Mary... she is in the pictures I am sending you. What is she up to now? What about your girls... All grown up and have children of their own now... Jane reminded me that we met one of your daughters whilst we were staying at your place... and haven’t you got some gorgeous grandchildren... Sexy grandad indeed!!!!!!... And now you have a young son with Anoora... wow!!! I love touching base with old friends and getting the gaps filled in... what useful things have they done... and how have they spent their time. It looks to me that you have had a wonderful life (and still do!!)... Full of connecting with people from all over the place and through your blog informing and stimulating awareness and conversation about important issues... You are a very special being Antares!!!

The Moossajee Family: Ryan, Andy & Gemma

I am also sending a fairly recent pic of Andy and Gemma and Ryan. Andy was born in England (Gloucester) but his Mum is Welsh (living in Australia now) and his Father was born in Mauritius (but has been living in Switzerland for the last 35 or so years) so in case you are wondering where the colourful surname ‘Moossajee’ came from. There are only 6 of us in Australia... Andy & I and our kids and Andy’s brother in Melbourne and his wife... so it is a little unusual over here... it is pronounced Moose-a gee!!! I never had to spell or pronounce Kelly (my maiden name) ha ha ha!!!

Anyway I want to get this sent to you so you can see the pics and see if you remember us... be honest!!! We won’t be offended... As I see it you have 1000’s of people pass through your life and you can’t possibly remember everyone...

Take care and I will be continuing to read your blog so I can get a picture and be informed about these issues that you write about... hopefully when you have time you can drop me a line (part of me feels like you have so many people to keep in touch with already that another will only burden your already overloaded cyber correspondence) but I will be happy to hear from you if/when you have time...

With love and cyber hugs x Virg


ZAID IBRAHIM: NAJIB CAN'T BE PM

"If truth be told, Najib can't be PM"
Zaid Ibrahim | March 18, 09 1:51pm

Full text of former law minister Zaid Ibrahim's hard-hitting speech at the Royal Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur on 18 March 2009.

This is the second time I have been invited to address a Rotary Club. Thank you for the honour. Given the times we live in, perhaps it might be appropriate for me to speak about the leadership transition that has been foisted upon us Malaysians.

I say ‘foisted’ because neither me nor anyone in this room had any role or say in the choice of the person who will lead Malaysia next. We were mere bystanders in a political chess game. And yet the transition is a subject of great consequence to the nation, one I would say is of great national interest.

Leadership is definitive; the individual who assumes the mantle of leadership of this nation, whomever that may be, is one who for better or worse will leave his mark on us. His will be the hand who guides us to greater success, or possibly gut-wrenching disaster.

Save for the dawn of Merdeka, never in the history of this country has the choice of prime minister been so crucial: Malaysia is in crisis. We are facing tremendous economic challenges with unavoidably harsh socio-political consequences. Our much undermined democracy is once again being assailed by those who would prefer a more autocratic form of governance.

Our public institutions are hollowed out caricatures, unable to distinguish vested party interests from national ones, unable to offer the man in the street refuge from the powerful and connected.

Our social fabric that took us from colony to an independent nation and on through the obstacles of nation building has reached a point where it sometimes feel like we are hanging on by a thread. This is the Malaysia we live in.

PM’s resignation ill-fated

This is the Malaysia which Abdullah Ahmad Badawi leaves behind. Our prime minister will resign later this month - an ill-fated decision. I say ill-fated not because he has been a great prime minister and we would lose irreplaceable leadership, that is regrettably not the case as all things said and done Abdullah could have done much more for Malaysia.

Rather, I say that his resignation is ill-fated because his departure will expose the country to forces which may take us down the road of perdition faster than ever. Much has been said of Pak Lah being a weak leader. However, what his critics have not adequately addressed are the consequences of replacing him as prime minister with the anticipated incoming president of Umno, Najib (Abdul) Razak.

It is an undeniable truth that the average Malaysian is anxious about the anticipated transition. Many would prefer it did not happen.

There are two reasons why this is so. The first has to do with the reasoning underlying Umno's demand for the transition itself. The second has to do with Najib personally.

We must recall that after the 2008 general election - a great success for the nation but a fiasco for Umno – one of the chief complaints by the powers-that-be within Umno was that Abdullah’s feeble leadership led to the concept of Ketuanan Melayu being challenged and ultimately undermined.

His critics also lashed out at him for the latitude given to civil society, a move which they believed weakened a key aspect of Umno's political leverage. It followed in Umno's mind that in order to regain lost ground, it was necessary to reassert its ideology with greater strength.

There was nostalgia for Mahathir's heavy-handed style of leadership and a return to the times when the party cowed many into subservience and submission. The conservatives in Umno yearned for a return to Mahathirism, hoping that it would become a cornerstone of the leadership transition plan. There has been much speculation and punditry on whether a return to the Mahathir era would be good for Malaysia.

Difference between then and now

Let me offer some of my own insight to this debate. The major difference between then and now is this: in most instances, Mahathir was harsh and dictatorial if he believed it was good for the country. But an authoritarian style of government under anyone else would be dictated by the need for self preservation and very little about the country’s interest.

The evidence is all around us. After March 8, (2008) when the prime minister ceased being the home minister, the threats of reprisal have escalated and a climate of fear re-cultivated. The detention of Raja Petra Kamarudin, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoong Cheng exemplify this turn for the worse, this appetite to use the sledgehammer.

The shameful power grab in Perak and wanton disregard for public opinion over how BN wrested control of the silver state make many people shudder at the prospect of a return to the dark days. If that was not depressing enough, we have had to bear witness to the police and the newly-minted Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) displaying their allegiance and support to the BN when all we needed and craved for were honest brokers.

It stands to reason that in the mind of the average Malaysian, having suffered a significant loss last March, Umno is on a rampage to regain what it lost by any method available and the man who is expected to lead it to victory is the man who succeeds Abdullah: Najib (Abdul) Razak.

A prime minister must have the confidence of the majority of the rakyat. In order for this to be the case, his integrity must be beyond question; not only must he be such a person character, he must be seen to be such a person. The office of prime minister is one of great trust, he who holds that office cradles the nation in his palms.

For this to be the case, there cannot be anything in the mind of the greater public that, correctly or otherwise, associates him with matters of criminality, wrongful action, improper conduct or abuses of power. In short, he must be beyond reproach in his dealings both official and private.

Without intending any accusation, it is regrettable that in the collective mind of the rakyat, Najib is not such a person. If a referendum were to be conducted on the subject or if the prime minister was to be elected directly by the rakyat, I do not think Najib would succeed. The reason for this is obvious: the rakyat has doubts, fuelled by the unanswered allegations against him and his unwillingness to confront these allegations.

It is not a mere trifle in the minds of the rakyat that despite a direct challenge from a member of parliament in the august House recently, the deputy prime minister remained silent, not even denying the implicit accusation made against him and demanding that it be repeated outside the chamber in the tried and tested method of refutation employed by parliamentarians throughout the world.

It has not assisted the cause of the incoming prime minister that the MP concerned was suspended for a year on a motion tabled by a fellow minister without the member having been afforded an opportunity to defend his position.

Evidence of SMS text-messages

Consider this. Commissions were paid to an agent for the procurement of submarines through the Defence Ministry, Najib (then) being the defence minister. It is unthinkable that he had no knowledge that the agent was his adviser and aide, Abdul Razak Baginda. The commission paid out was exceedingly large, in excess of RM500 million.

The defence minister was dutybound to direct enquiries to see if there had been any impropriety in the way the contracts were awarded when news of the commission surfaced; after all the price of the submarines would be considerably lower without the need for such commissions.

Taxpayers, you and I, have paid for those submarines at a price that in all probability factored in the commission. Taxpayers are yet to be told of an inquiry let alone the result of such an inquiry.

Consider the Altantuya Shaariibuu affair. A young woman was brutally murdered, her corpse destroyed by explosives.

These explosives are not the usual type of explosives, yet no inquiry was held to determine how they were available to these killers. Those accused of her murder are police officers serving in the Unit Tindakan Khas, a highly specialised unit who amongst other things serve as bodyguards to the prime minister and the deputy prime minister.

Amidst evidence that the accused were employed to protect the PM and the DPM, they were directed to (Abdul) Razak Baginda through the aide of the deputy prime minister. Amongst other things, we have heard of the senior investigating officer admitting that the deputy prime minister was an important witness and yet no statement was taken.

It is not unreasonable to think that this is irregular, more so when evidence of SMS text-messages from the deputy prime minister concerning material matters have surfaced. The text-messages cannot be ignored, proverbially swept under the carpet.

Even if they do not establish - or are not capable of establishing - any culpability on the part of Najib, these issues must be addressed.

The air must be cleared, it is thick with accusations and doubts which can only undermine the office of the prime minister if he were to assume it. The deputy prime minister's cause has not been aided by the fact that charges were preferred against (Abdul) Razak Baginda only after public outcry, the manner in which the prosecution was conducted and the decision of the High Court acquitting (Abdul) Razak Baginda not having been appealed.

Power grab an unmitigated disaster

The Perak affair was an unmitigated disaster for the nation. It is no secret that Najib led the charge there and is still overseeing matters.

In the minds of Malaysians, Perak is synonymous with the deputy prime minister. They now equate him with the high-handed tactics that were employed to seize power, tactics that included the disappearances of the three crucial assemblypersons and the blockading of the legislative assembly by the police.

In doing so, they equate the DPM with the hijacking of democracy, the only persons saying otherwise being those persons who have associations with Umno. In their minds, no responsible leader would allow for the undermining of the institutions of state and the constitution of this nation.

They ask, rightly so, whether this is the kind of leadership that Malaysians can expect from Najib when he becomes the prime minister.

With all of this, and more, how are we not to feel anxious? How are we to sleep peacefully at night? I know that I cannot. The situation is desperate and the air is pregnant with tension. We need the state of affairs to be resolved in a way that is in the best interests of the nation and the rakyat.

To an extent, this is a matter for the Barisan Nasional. I urge its members to put politics aside and think things through. We all want a better future, a safer and more prosperous life for our children, all of them, a Malaysia where our children can reach for the stars with the certainty that there is nothing to stop them from being the Malaysians they want to be.

Let the king be kingmaker

I do not believe that the Barisan Nasional will do what is necessary. Politics has a tendency of making those who embrace it cynical. The answer lies elsewhere, with His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In this case, His Majesty plays the role of ‘kingmaker.’ The discretion to appoint the prime minister who succeeds Abdullah lies with His Majesty. Though His Majesty is required under the constitution to appoint the person who commands the confidence of the majority of the members of parliament, it is a matter for His Majesty's judgment.

Never before has such a heavy burden been laid on His Majesty to make a brave and correct choice.

For King and country, I urge His Majesty to take into consideration the prerequisites to appointment and the concerns of the rakyat. There is no constitutional obligation on His Majesty to appoint the president of Umno as the prime minister. There are still well qualified members of parliament from Umno who can be appointed PM to bring us back from the brink.

Malaysia needs someone whom the rakyat can throw their weight behind without reservation. Someone they can trust and respect. Someone who has no scandal to distract him and thereby gain respect from the international community.

These are difficult times and be prepared for worst times to visit us. Malaysia needs a leader who will unite the country in the face of the adversity. Divided, we are weak. I am loath to say it, but for the reasons I have set out am compelled to say that Najib will most certainly divide us and in doing so, will nudge us closer to the edge.

Some of you may say that all efforts to promote the national interest are at this stage an exercise in futility. If truth be told, I am tempted to slip into cynical hopelessness too. I am fighting the temptation to give up for one simple reason: Malaysia and all that it represents. This is a blessed country, a country too valuable for us to turn our backs on.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You're Only As Rich As You Feel

I kept receiving this as a forward and was pretty much bowled over when I saw the final graphic. Perhaps it's worth uploading as a blogpost, so the next time someone mentions a trillion dollars I'll have some sort of visual reference!

What does one TRILLION dollars look like?

All this talk about "stimulus packages" and "bailouts"...

A billion dollars...

A hundred billion dollars...

Eight hundred billion dollars...

One TRILLION dollars...

What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I'd take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.

We'll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Almost everyone has seen them, slighty fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.

$100



A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than ½" thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for a week or two of shamefully decadent fun.


$10,000



Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

$1,000,000 (one million dollars)



While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet...

$100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars)



And $1 BILLION dollars... now we're really getting somewhere...


$1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars)



Next we'll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we've been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's a thousand billion. It's a one followed by 12 zeros.

You ready for this?

It's pretty surprising.

Go ahead...

Scroll down...











Ladies and gentlemen... I give you $1 trillion dollars...


$1000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars)

Well, folks, if it's any comfort... imagine yourself stranded on a desert island. Your trillion dollars would come in real handy for starting fires. Indeed, that gigantic pile of cash would pale in significance to this bunch of bananas...

A priceless bunch of delicious, nutritious bananas

MONEY vs WEALTH

MONEY can be printed by a specially licensed banking consortium like the Federal Reserve - in which case the currency's actual worth is only the cost of paper and ink. What keeps Federal Reserve notes in circulation is sheer force of habit and people's belief in the economic strength of a superpower like America.

WEALTH is whatever provides us a sense of well-being and nourishes us on all levels. When you're feeling a bit down, getting a warm smile from a beautiful girl you don't even know is exactly what your spirit requires to bounce back. So even receiving a gratuitous smile can be considered "wealth."

In short, MONEY does NOT equal WEALTH.

Here's a good example of how far off course the "modern" world has strayed: many years ago in a remote village deep in the Amazon, ethnologists discovered a "lost" tribe that had never known money. Fruits grew abundantly around the village, fish were literally jumping in the clear streams and fresh meat was easily available from the lush surrounding jungle. Whatever the villagers wanted in the way of clothes and tools they were able to make themselves, or else barter with neighboring tribes. Children were happy and free, and the elderly were respected and well cared for. Yet this community was listed as among the poorest in the world because their "per capita income" was measured as less than USD10 a year. Contact with the outside world made these simple folk aware of what they lacked - they soon wanted radios, watches, batteries, and so on. And that's when they realized how "poor" they were.