Saturday, July 11, 2009


He actually talks sense!

It’s not about 100 days, it’s about the generations to comeTengku Razaleigh

JULY 10 – You have asked me to talk about Najib’s First 100 Days, and this lecture is in a series called Straight Talk. I shall indeed speak plainly and directly.

Let me begin by disappointing you. I am not going to talk about Najib’s First 100 Days because it makes little sense to do so. Our governments are brought to power for five-year terms through general elections.

The present government was constituted after March 8, 2008 and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s tenure as Prime Minister resulted from a so-called “smooth transfer of power” between the previous Prime Minister and himself that took a somewhat unsmooth twelve months to carry out.

During those months, Najib took on the de facto leadership role domestically while Abdullah warmed our international ties. The first 100 days of this government went by unremarked sometime in June last year.

Not only is it somewhat meaningless to talk about Najib’s First 100 days, such talk buys into a kind of political silliness that we are already too prone to. It has us imagine that the present government started work on April 2 and forget that it commenced work on March 8 last year and must be accountable for all that has been done or not done since then.

It would have us forget that in our system of parliamentary, constitutional democracy, governments are brought to power at general elections and must be held accountable for promises made at these elections.

It leads us to forget that these promises, set out in election manifestos, are undertaken by political parties, not individuals, and are not trifles to be forgotten when there is a change of individual.

It is important that we remember these things, cultivate a more critical recollection of them, and learn to hold our leaders accountable to them, so that we are not perpetually chasing the slogan of the day, whether this be Vision 2020, Islam Hadhari or 1 Malaysia.

Slogans without substance undermine trust. That substance is made up of policies that have been thought through and are followed through. That substance is concrete and provided by results we can measure.

Whether or not some of our leaders are ready for it, we are maturing as a democracy. We are beginning to evaluate our governments more by the results they deliver over time than by their rhetoric.

As our increasingly well-educated and well-travelled citizens apply this standard, they force our politicians to think before they speak, and deliver before they speak again.

As thinking Malaysians we should look for the policies, if any, behind the slogans. What policies are still in place and which have we abandoned? What counts as policy and who is consulted when it is made? How is a proposal formulated and specified and approved before it becomes policy, and by whom? What are the roles of party, cabinet, King and Parliament in this process?

Must we know what it means before it is instituted or do we have to piece it together with guesswork? Do we even have a policy process?

The mandate Najib has taken up is the one given to Barisan Nasional under Abdullah Badawi’s leadership.

BN was returned to power in the 12th General Elections on a manifesto promising Security, Peace and Prosperity. It is this manifesto against which the present administration undertook to be judged.

The present government inherits projects and policies such as Islam Hadhari and Vision 2020. If these are still in place, how do they relate to each other and to 1 Malaysia? How do we evaluate the latest slogan against the fact of constitutional failure in Perak, the stench of corruption in the PKFZ project and reports of declining media freedom?

What do we make of cynical political plays on racial unity against assurances that national unity is the priority?

It is not amiss to ask about continuity. We were told that the reason why we had to have a yearlong “transfer of power” to replace the previous Prime Minster was so that we could have such policy continuity.

The issues before the present BN government are not transformed overnight with a change of the man at the top.

Let me touch on one issue every Malaysian is concerned with: security. The present government made the right move in supporting the establishment of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Police in 2004. Responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the government allocated the PDRM RM8 billion to upgrade itself under the 9th Malaysia Plan, a tripling of their allocation under the 8th Malaysia Plan.

Despite the huge extra amounts we are spending on policing, there has been no dent on our crime problem, especially in the Johor Baru area, where it continues to make a mockery of our attempts to develop Iskandar as a destination for talent and investment.

Despite spending all this money, we have just been identified as a major destination for human trafficking by the US State Department’s 2008 Human Rights Watch. We are now in the peer group of Sudan, Saudi Arabia and North Korea for human trafficking.

All over the world, the organized cross-border activity of human trafficking feeds on the collusion of crime syndicates and corrupt law enforcement and border security officials.

Security is about more than just catching the criminals out there. It is also about the integrity of our own people and processes. It is above all about uprooting corruption and malpractice in government agencies, especially in law enforcement agencies.

I wish the government were as eager to face the painful challenge of reform as to spend money.

The key recommendation of the Royal Commission was the formation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission. That has been shelved.

Royal Commissions and their findings are not to be trifled with and applied selectively. Their findings and recommendations are conveyed in a report submitted to the King, who then transmits them to the Government.

Their recommendations have the status of instructions from the King. The recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Police have not been properly implemented.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Video clip might as well not have been conducted, because its findings have been completely ignored.

Both Commissions investigated matters fundamental to law and order in this country: the capability and integrity of the police and of the judiciary.

No amount of money thrown at the PDRM or on installing CCTVs can make up for what happens to our security when our law enforcers and our judges are compromised.

Two Royal Commissions undertaken under the present government unearthed deep issues in the police and the judiciary and made recommendations with the King’s authority behind them, and they have been ignored.

The public may wonder if the government is committed to peace and security if it cannot or will not address institutional rot in law enforcement and the rule of law.

The reform of the police and the judiciary has been on the present government’s To Do list for more than five years.

I want to reflect now upon where we stand today and how we might move forward. We are truly at a turning point in our history. Our political landscape is marked with unprecedented uncertainty. Nobody knows what the immediate future holds for us politically.

This is something very new for Malaysians. The inevitability of a strong BN government figured into all political and economic calculations and provided a kind of stability to our expectations.

Now that this is gone, and perhaps gone for good, we need a new basis for long-term confidence.

No matter who wins the next General Election, it is likely to be with a slim majority. Whatever uncertainty we now face is likely to persist unless some sort of tiebreaker is found which gathers the overwhelming support of the people.

We need to trust less in personalities and more in policies, look less to politics and more to principle, less to rhetoric and more to tangible outcomes, less to the government of the day and more to enduring institutions, first among which must be the Federal Constitution.

We need an unprecedented degree of openness and honesty about what our issues are and what can be done; about who we are, and where we want to go. We need straight talk rather than slogans. We need to be looking the long horizon rather than occupying ourselves with media-generated milestones.

Those of us who think about the future of Malaysia have never been so restless. The mould of our past is broken, and there is no putting it back together again, but a new mould into which to pour our efforts is not yet cast. This is a time to think new thoughts, and to be courageous in articulating them.

Such is the case not just in politics but also in how the government manages the economy.

In a previous speech, I argued that for our economy to escape the “middle income trap” we need to make a developmental leap involving transformative improvements in governance and a successful reform of our political system.

I said the world recession is a critical opportunity for us to re-gear and re-tool the Malaysian economy because it is a challenge to take bold, imaginative measures.

We must make that leap or remain stuck as low achievers who were once promising.

We are in a foundational crisis both of our politics and of our economy. In both dimensions, the set plays of the past have taken us as far as they can, and can take us no further. Politically and economically, we have arrived at the end of the road for an old way of managing things. The next step facing us is not a step but a leap, not an addition to what we have but a shift that changes the very ground we play on.

This is not the first time in our brief history as an independent nation that we have found ourselves at an impasse and come up with a ground-setting policy, a new framework, a leap into the future. The race riots of 1969 ended the political accommodation and style of the first era of our independence. Parliament was suspended and a National Operations Council put in place under the leadership of the late Tun Razak. He formed a National Consultative Council to study what needed to be done. The NCC was a non-partisan body which included everyone. It was the NCC that drafted and recommended the New Economic Policy. This was approved and implemented by the Government.

The NEP was a 20-year programme. It had a national, and not a racial agenda to eradicate poverty and address structural inequality in the form of the identification of race with occupation. It aimed to remove a colonial era distribution of economic roles in our economy. Nowhere in its terms is any race specified, nor does it privilege one race over another. Its aim was unity.

The NEP’s redistributive measures drew on principles of social justice, not claims of racial privilege. This is an important point. The NEP was acceptable to all Malaysians because its justification was universal rather than sectarian, ethical rather than opportunistic. It appealed to Malaysians’ sense of social justice and not to any notion of racial privilege.

We were devising a time-limited policy for the day, in pursuit of a set of measurable outcomes. We were not devising a doctrine for an eternal socio-economic arrangement. Like all policies, it was formulated to solve a finite set of problems, but through an enduring concern with principles such as equity and justice. I happen to think it was the right thing for the time, and it worked in large measure.

Curiously, although the policy was formulated within the broad consensus of the NCC for a finite period, in our political consciousness it has grown into an all-encompassing and permanent framework that defines who we are.

We continue to act and talk as if it is still in place. The NEP ended in 1991 when it was terminated and replaced by the New Development Policy, but 18 years on, we are still in its hangover and speak confusingly about liberalising it.

The NEP was necessary and even visionary in 1971, but it is a crushing indictment of our lack of imagination, of the mediocrity of our leadership, that two decades after its expiry, we talk as if it is the sacrosanct centre of our socio-political arrangement, and that departures from it are big strides.

The NEP is over, and we have not had the courage to tell people this. The real issue is not whether the NEP is to be continued or not, but whether we have the imagination to come up with something which better serves our values and objectives, for our own time.

Policies are limited mechanisms for solving problems. They become vehicles for abuse when they stay on past their useful life. Like political or corporate leaders who have stayed too long, policies that overrun their scope or time become entrenched in abuse, and confuse the means that they are with the ends that they were meant to serve.

The NEP was formulated to serve the objective of unity. That objective is enduring, but its instrument can come up for renewal or replacement. Any organisation, let alone a country, that fails to renew a key policy over 40 years in a fast-moving world is out of touch and in trouble.

There is a broad consensus in our society that while the NEP has had important successes, it has now degenerated into a vehicle for abuse and inefficiency.

Neither the Malays nor the non-Malays approve of the way it now works, although there would be multiracial support for the objectives of the NEP, as originally understood.

The enthusiasm with which recent reforms have been greeted in the business and international communities suggests that the NEP is viewed as an obstacle to growth. This was not what it was meant to be.

It was designed to promote a more equitable and therefore a more harmonious society. Far from obstructing growth, the stability and harmony envisaged by the NEP would were to be the basis for long term prosperity.

Over the years, however, and alongside its successes, the NEP has been systematically appropriated by a small political and business class to enrich itself and perpetuate its power. This process has corrupted our society and our politics. It has corrupted our political parties. Rent-seeking practices have choked the NEP’s original intention of seeking a more just and equitable society, and have discredited the broad nation-building enterprise which this policy was meant to serve.

Thus, while the NEP itself has expired, we live under the hangover of a policy which has been skewed from its intent. Instead of coming up with better policy tools in pursuit of the aims behind the NEP, a set of vested interests rallies to defend the mere form of the NEP and to extend its bureaucratic sway through a huge apparatus of commissions, agencies, licenses and permits while its spirit has been evacuated.

In doing so they have clouded the noble aims of the NEP and racialised its originally national and universal concerns.

We must break the stranglehold of communal politics and racial policy if we want to be a place where an economy driven by ideas and skills can flourish. This is where our daunting economic and political challenges can be addressed in one stroke.

We can do much better than cling to the bright ideas of 40 years ago as if they were dogma, and forget our duty to come up with the bright ideas for our own time.

The NEP, together with the Barisan coalition, was a workable solution for Malaysia 40 years ago. But 40 years ago, our population was about a third of what it is today, our economy was a fraction the size and complexity that it is now, and structured around the export of tin and rubber rather than around manufacturing, services and oil and gas.

Forty years ago we were in the midst of the Cold War, and the Vietnam War raged to the north.

Need I say we live in a very different world today? We need to talk to the facebook generation of young Malaysians connected to global styles and currents of thought. We face global epidemics, economic downturns and planetary climate change.

We can do much better than to cling to the outer form of an old policy. Thinking in these terms only gives us the negative policy lever of “relaxing” certain rules, when what we need is a new policy framework, with 21st century policy instruments.

We have relaxed some quotas. We have left Approved Permits and our taxi licensing system intact. We have left the apparatus of the NEP, and a divisive mindset that has grown up around it, in place.

Wary of well-intentioned statements with no follow-through, the business community has greeted these reforms cautiously, noting that a mountain of other reforms are needed.

One banker was quoted in a recent news article as saying: “All the reforms need to go hand in hand. Why is there an exodus of talent and wealth? It is because people do not feel confident with the investment climate, security conditions and the government in Malaysia. Right now, many have lost faith in the system.”

The issues are intertwined. Our problems are systemic and rooted in the capability of the government to deliver, and the integrity of our institutions.

It is clear that piecemeal “liberalisation” and measure-by-measure reform on a politicised timetable is not going to do the job.

What we need is a whole new policy framework, based on a comprehensive vision that addresses root problems in security, institutional integrity, education and government capability.

What we need to do is address our crisis with the bold statecraft from which the NEP itself originated, not cling to a problematic framework that does little justice to our high aspirations.

The challenge of leadership is to tell the truth about our situation, no matter how unpalatable, to bring people together around that solution, and to move them to act together on that solution.

If the problem is really that we face a foundational crisis, then it is not liberalisation of the NEP, or even liberalisation per se that we need.

From the depths of the global economic slowdown it is abundantly clear that the autonomous free market is neither equitable nor even sustainable.

There is no substitute for putting our heads together and coming up with wise policy. We need a Malaysian New Deal based on the same universal concerns on which the NEP was originally formulated but designed for a new era: we must continue to eradicate poverty without regard for race or religion, and ensure that markets serve the people rather than the other way around.

Building on the desire for unity based social justice that motivated the NEP in 1971, let us assist 100 per cent of Malaysians who need help in improving their livelihoods and educating their children.

We want the full participation of all stakeholders in our economy. A fair and equitable political and economic order, founded on equal citizenship as guaranteed in our Constitution, is the only possible basis for a united Malaysia and a prerequisite of the competitive, talent-driven economy we must create if we are to make our economic leap.

If we could do this, we would restore national confidence, we would bring Malaysians together in common cause to build a country that all feel a deep sense of belonging to. We would unleash the kind of investment we need, not just of foreign capital but of the loyalty, effort and commitment of all Malaysians.

I don’t know about you. I am embarrassed that after 50 years of independence, we are still talking about bringing Malaysians together. I would have wished that by now, and here tonight, we could be talking about how we can conquer new challenges together.

Tengku Razaleigh shared his views with Public Relations Consultants Malaysia at “StraightTalk” on July 10, 2009, at HELP University College, Damansara, Kuala Lumpur

[Source: The Malaysian Insider]

Friday, July 10, 2009


For some obscure reason I have never been fond of powerpoint presentations but pps files keep appearing in my inbox from well-meaning friends. Sometimes I delete without bothering to look, other times I delete after checking them out, and once in a while I have to restart my notebook because powerpoint files tend to jam up my operating system. However, there are often some striking images that accompany these powerpoint shows. I usually extract and archive them. Whenever local politics gets sticky and gooey and stinky, I redirect my attention to art and poetry and dance and photography. These powerful images tell their own story, no need for captions!

[Images from unknown photographers extracted from a powerpoint show. If anyone would like to claim credit for any of these please email me and I will either acknowledge your copyright or remove entirely from this post.]

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I wanna be a body snatching tomb raider!

Golly gee... is THIS what a body snatcher looks like?
Snatch mine, baby, and I'll return the favor!

Ooooh, please.... promise you'll raid my tomb
and take me all the way to paradise!

Tomb raiding and body snatching is an ancient and dangerous profession. 

Many have succumbed to a malevolent curse shortly after they violated a protected tomb.

Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS) didn't invent body snatching.
In fact, they're really lousy at it, creating a huge mess every time.
Congratulations, MAIS, for giving Islam a rotten reputation.

Why don't you guys return to the 15th century where you belong?*

Thank You!

*What's that you say? We are in the 15th century?
Going by the Islamic calendar, this year happens to be 1430 AH?
Ummm... maybe you should consider going all the way back to 3,000 BC
- before the advent of Abraham?



Malaysiakini | 5 July 2009

"If Anwar goes to jail, the opposition will be stronger because Anwar will be seen as a martyr."

The United States and Amnesty International have raised concerns over the charges against Anwar, who in his first trial was brought to court with a black eye after a vicious beating from the police chief.

The earlier charges emerged after he challenged veteran ruler Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The latest allegations followed the landmark polls that give him an excellent chance of victory in the next general election.

Many Malaysians, weary of political dirty-tricks and corruption in the justice system, believe the affair is a ploy to sideline Anwar and distract attention from an unpopular government and a looming recession.

A survey last year found just 11 percent of Malaysians believed the accusations that Anwar sodomised Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who was then a 23-year-old volunteer at his office.

Anwar: A deeply flawed case

Anwar, 61, spent six years in jail until 2004 when the nation's highest court overturned the sodomy conviction. After a few years of recuperation he emerged to build the most successful opposition force the country has seen.

He is the undisputed glue in the Pakatan Rakyat, an alliance of three unlikely partners - his own multiracial PKR party, the conservative Islamic party PAS, and the liberal Chinese-based DAP.

Contrary to fears the opposition could spin apart if Anwar is convicted and jailed, leading Southeast Asia academic Bridget Welsh said that at least initially it could galvanise its supporters and give it a sense of unity.

"But the issue is long term, it's the question of who would then lead the opposition and that raises certain types of questions," she said, including the issue of which party should come out on top.

Anwar says the case against him is deeply flawed, and remains defiant about his prospects and that of his party.

"There is no question of the Pakatan Rakyat continuing, surviving. It will continue to defend the rights of the people and challenge the government, gaining strength from any conviction made against me," he told AFP last week.

"In fact I think a conviction against me will enrage a lot of people," he said. "I am ready for all eventualities and prepared to face attacks - expect the best and prepare for the worst."

Anwar's first trial was full of drama, lurid testimony, and headline-grabbing incidents including one when a mattress supposedly stained with semen was hauled into the courtroom.

The current hearing, which begins on Wednesday and is expected to last at least several weeks, is likely to get off to a slow start with legal argument over evidence and a defence motion to strike out the charges altogether. - AFP







Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Malaysian Institute of Advanced Sodomology

Faculty of the Malaysian Institute of Advanced Sodomology
L-R: Mahathir Mohamad (patron), Musa Hassan (proctor), Daim Zainuddin (purser), Naif Ton Rasa 
(vice-chancellor), Gani Patail (dean), Shafee Abdullah (professor emeritus)


Enrolment starts at 9:00AM, 8 July 2009
@ the Jalan Duta Court Complex

Please wait at the Rear Entrance
or contact recruitment officer Saiful Azlan Bukhari
@ 012-2143177

For more details go here!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Yesterday I received an email from Deena Saravanan who lives in Kg Buah Pala:

Greetings Antares,

Firstly let me apologize for intruding upon your life like this. Let me introduce myself. My name is Deena and I am a big fan of the writings that you post on your blog. Right now, I need your help. I am a resident of Kampung Buah Pala which is in Penang. I hope that you have heard about the particularly unfortunate circumstance surrounding this village. If you have not, then please know that the village is going to be demolished for the building of some ghastly apartments. Cecil Rajendra has taken up our case but unfortunately the federal court has kicked us out of our homes. Before the verdict was passed, Lim Guan Eng could have put a stop to this but he did not and even now after knowing that we are going to lose our home he is not doing a single thing to alleviate what we are going through. In this event, I am hoping that you could write a word or two in your blog to let the people know the injustice that has fallen upon us.

Sometimes i wish that you were the prime minister. I thank you for your time.

Deena Saravanan

(I am currently a student in the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus doing Electrical and Electronic Engineering.)

100-year-old well at Kg Buah Pala where clear fresh water reaches ground level (photo by Anil Netto)

Dear Deena,

I'm glad you made the effort to contact me. Of course I have been following closely the drama surrounding Kg Buah Pala (that means Nutmeg Village, doesn't it?). At the same time another drama has been unfolding, involving Bukit Koman and a polluting gold mine near Raub partly owned by Pahang royalty (see embedded video below).

From what I've read by way of background on the Kg Buah Pala issue, the root causes are the usual suspects - predatory greed and corrupt bureaucrats. These are the unmistakable symptoms of arrogant, self-serving, unenlightened leadership at all levels - from village headmen right up to Istana Negara.

Kg Buah Pala residents hold a candlelight vigil to save their homes (courtesy of Anil Netto)

The anger directed at Lim Guan Eng and the Pakatan Rakyat state government is understandable, but somewhat misplaced. Just because LGE is CM doesn't mean he can decree that the federal appeal court erred in siding with the developer and order a complete halt to proceedings while the hanky-panky behind the land transfer is brought to light and the guilty parties punished.

Every Malaysian might as well be angry with himself or herself for having tolerated or repeatedly voted in the BN government since Merdeka. By minding our own business and leaving politics to the politicians, we have left it a bit too late. Moral gangrene has already set in and the only way to save the patient is amputation.

In this instance, amputation is a metaphor for suffering such grievous loss that we are compelled to reassess our entire lives and admit that we have been complete idiots to allow criminals to take over the power structure and run the show for so many generations. And all this time we keep behaving like robots - getting up, reading the newspaper over breakfast, going to work, coming home, watching TV, going to bed - and repeating the soul-destroying procedure day in and day out lifetime after lifetime.

(Courtesy of Anil Netto)

Those in power would like us to remain forever sheeplike and robotic, earning and spending money and supporting a consumerist economy that gradually depletes our energy, negates our autonomy, and paralyzes our will to break free.

How can I help you and the residents of Kg Buah Pala?

My sympathies, of course, are always with the less privileged underclasses. However, I have lived long enough to observe that people enjoy playing the role of victims more than taking a heroic stand in small ways on a daily basis. At this juncture, the developer of the Oasis Project has already invested time and energy into realizing their devious scheme. Many officials have been paid off along the way. The Pakatan state government has only had 15 hectic months to learn the ropes (all badly knotted and twisted by the previous criminally negligent administration). A large section of the state bureaucracy remains stuck in the past, unable to change their corrupt, tidak apa attitudes.

Neither LGE nor I nor you nor Anwar nor Zaid nor Nizar nor Sivarasa nor even God has the power to order Musa Hassan, Gani Patail, and Ahmad Said Hamdan to step down for failing to carry out their duties impartially. Umno/BN controls the MACC, PDRM, Petronas and Bank Negara. It's academic now to state that the BN would have lost power completely after the last general election if not for massive electoral fraud, gerrymandering and dubious postal votes. The fact remains the BN is still the federal government and it is ferociously clinging to power rather than doing some deep thinking and resolving to reform itself.

A rich-versus-poor drama unfolds amidst a media flurry at the "High Chaparral"

A lot of problems in the country - the Perak power grab, the racial divide, mediocre leadership, police violence, EC and MACC unprofessionalism and so on - are moral rather than legal issues. The law is just a thick pile of written guidelines and references. It has no conscience or ethical sense. That must come from the human beings administering the justice system. Everybody now knows the Malaysian judiciary, the police, the state agencies, etc., have all been contaminated and corrupted - perhaps beyond redemption - after 22 years of hypocrisy and deviousness under Mahathir.

Since no Pakatan Rakyat leader has the legal clout to fire Najib and his entire cabinet, we are forced to look on helplessly while glaring injustices proliferate around us. The only way things will ever change is when Umno/BN no longer holds the country ransom through fear and total control of law enforcement agencies.

The famous Ponggol festival at High Chaparral is a cultural legacy worth preserving

Sure, I can and will add my voice to the chorus of voices commenting about the imminent showdown at High Chaparral. The corrupt way in which Nusmetro Ventures acquired the land and the vulgar hideousness of their misguided scheme to wipe out part of Penang's heritage by burying the 200-year-old memory of Kg Buah Pala under a boring, sterile highrise condo project causes me to shake my head and feel pangs of anguish.

There are times when I wish I could get my hands on all these greedy developers, loggers, miners, wheeler-dealers, entrepreneurs, moguls and tycoons - plus their advertising and public relations agents - and spank them all till they can't sit down for a week.

Indian Cowboys add an exotic element to Ponggol at the High Chaparral

(Bet my arms will fall off before I'm even halfway done, there are just so many of them!)

But would that make these people have a sudden change of heart and see eye-to-eye with you and me? Or would they regroup their resources and launch a revenge attack on us with a whole army of goons, rempits and samsengs (uniformed or otherwise)? We're talking about the recipe for civil war now. And, Deena, I realize we are already in the midst of a civil war - one fought through propaganda and money incentives.

Ask yourself: why are there still fairly intelligent people working in The Star, NST, Utusan Malaysia, TV3, RTM, and so on? Don't they realize they are serving the Dark Forces? Have they never considered what their own grandchildren will think of them? How come so few policemen and policewomen have resigned in disgust at what's become of the PDRM? Surely all these thousands of human beings cannot be in favor of deceit, dishonesty, cruelty, injustice, criminal negligence and obscene greed? Why do people continue to support such a rotten system?

Don't they know they have the power to down tools and refuse to obey orders until regime change happens?

Kg Buah Pala residents show their determination and solidarity

Deena, you probably have guessed by now that I am more a dreamer and visionary - what people used to call a philosopher - than a politician or streetfighter. In an emergency I'm prepared to go out into the streets with thousands of others and show that we refuse to accept any more shit from the current power-wielders. But generally I'm more in my element just thinking about and expressing my views on various issues.

I leave it in the hands of full-time professional politicians like Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Nik Aziz, Azmin Ali and Teresa Kok to take remedial action wherever possible. They, in turn, depend on us for popular support. When we start turning against these Opposition leaders before they even have enough experience or power to do anything radical - we are guilty of projecting our own inadequacies on them.

We keep waiting for Superman to appear like a bolt from the sky and rescue us - just as Christians continue praying to Jesus Christ Superstar to redeem and forgive their failings, save their souls and usher them through the gates of heaven.

Why must the police always side with the rich and powerful?

The issues leading to the present deadlock in Kg Buah Pala are indeed complex and go back generations, even millennia. You have to remind yourself - who does the land ultimately belong to, if anyone? From time immemorial we have suffered monarchs who lay sovereign claim to all land within their domain; and who subsequently parcel out plots to their loyal henchmen as rewards along with fancy titles. These landed gentry, as their fortunes change and their bloodlines weaken, are forced to resell their property to others in exchange for cash - or they could lose their hereditary lands through the vicissitudes of war. Today, those with the most capital gain access to power - directly or indirectly.

As an Opposition MP, Lim Guan Eng was free to speak his mind and openly side with the oppressed and the poor. However, now that he has become the Penang chief minister, he has to consider issues from all sides and avoid antagonizing and punishing the middle-class and the capitalist elite whose financial support he needs to continue governing the state. You and I are free to react the way we feel - but holding high office is a massive responsibility. One has to keep a cool head and stay above the fray. I don't envy LGE his predicament. It's certainly a case of damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Long-time Kg Buah Pala residents are deeply attached to their idyllic nook

Should he openly act in favor of the Kg Buah Pala residents, he will be praised by one segment of society and viciously condemned by another. From reading comments on various blogs, I've become aware that there's a great divide of opinions between those who have a vested interest in seeing the Oasis Project continue (condo buyers, contractors, suppliers, and so on) - and those who are, like me, thoroughly fed up of inequity, iniquity and injustice - not to mention brainless "development" projects that benefit only a tiny handful at the expense of everybody else.

If it were up to me, I would outlaw financial speculation, commercial usury, and ugly, unnecessary development. Ambitious and greedy people will loathe my policies while the saintly and humble will sing my praises. Alas, in a world fueled by money, the capitalist class will gang up, pool their resources, hire a hitman and have me assassinated - just like they did to JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, and so many other would-be reformers.

If I were PM, Deena, I wouldn't last 3 months before getting poisoned - just like poor Pope John Paul I who died after 33 days in office, clutching a notepad on which was written the names of all the corrupt cardinals he was planning to sack.

Since 8 March 2008 I have been eagerly awaiting the moment Anwar Ibrahim gets appointed as PM.

But there are so many in this country - from corporate tycoons like Vincent Tan of Berjaya and Lin Yun Ling of Gamuda to retired ministers like Ling Liong Sik and Daim Zainuddin, and probably the entire Conference of Rulers, and even the police and military - who would probably soil their underpants just contemplating a Pakatan Rakyat government and Ketuanan Rakyat.

Many (like Jibby and Dotty) will be forced to flee the country; some (like Gani and Musa) will end up behind bars; others will lose face and social status and be compelled to return the bulk of all the loot they have stolen from the rakyat for decades.

They refuse to be evicted from this vibrant community in Bukit Gelugor, Penang

What constitutes a wonderful dream for all good, honest citizens will be prove to be the worst possible nightmare for those who were once on top of the economic heap. Most of them got there through various forms of chicanery and unethical means.

I'm grateful that you inspired this long essay, Deena. Unfortunately, I can't think of any action I can take short of physically showing up at Kg Buah Pala to express solidarity with all of you on August 2nd. I can picture a tense standoff between bulldozers, FRU - and 10,000 stubborn people determined to show they're tired of seeing greedy, insensitive, hypocritical and corrupt people always calling the shots.

As somebody who thoroughly loathes the very concept of condominiums, I am certainly adding my prayers to yours that a miracle will happen to save Kg Buah Pala from unnecessary destruction. Penang definitely needs to preserve its own history and I can see your village becoming a tourist attraction like the set for Hobbiton in New Zealand. I love simplicity and the sight of grazing goats and cows. I've always felt happier and more relaxed amongst humble folk - and from the pictures I've seen, Kg Buah Pala looks like a secret paradise for a long-established community - sort of like a Malaysian Brigadoon.

Kg Buah Pala: an oasis of rustic tranquility amidst an increasingly urbanized island

I shake my head at those who tie up their cash buying ugly, soulless highrise apartments when they could easily live away from the congestion amidst lush greenery in a modest energy-efficient bungalow. In the age of satellite communications, the concept of squeezing millions of people into every square mile of space is tragically antiquated.

The Oasis Project: another shameless land scam perpetrated by the previous BN administration?

Lim Guan Eng may be the chief minister of Penang. But that doesn't mean he has the power or the right to punish the stupidly and tastelessly rich. He is, of course, at liberty to ensure that the politically connected and corruptly greedy be made to pay for their misdeeds which invariably bring about much suffering to humble folk - but before that can happen we may have to sack the Umno-appointed head of MACC - along with three-quarters of our judges and two-thirds of our senior police officers - not to mention the entire Najib Cabinet.

One more thing, Deena: do you mind if I upload my reply to you as a blogpost? It will at least get more people to mull over these issues. If enough decent humans put our foot down, even the biggest, best-armed crook in town will have to pack up and leave.


P.S. At the moment the fate of Kg Buah Pala hangs in the BN balance. It's up to former chief minister Koh Tsu Koon to persuade the federal government to accept responsibility for the present impasse or face serious karmic consequences. For the Oasis Project to be scrapped, certain parties will have to be compensated, since the federal court has ruled, justly or unjustly, in their favor.

The Kampung Buah Pala village impasse in Bukit Gelugor, Penang, can easily end with a mere stroke of a pen by chief minister Lim Guan Eng, said Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar. Video by John Motes, Citizen Journalist

You must remember that laws were originally made by the ruling elite to protect their own interests. Only when they attain a measure of civility and compassion do these laws get modified to protect the less privileged from exploitation and outright injustice. As long as the majority of Malaysians allow themselves to be suckered into believing in "progress" - thinking that Starbucks is more appealing than an old-style Chinese coffee shop or friendly warung - people will continue to bulldoze away all the charm of their own history in exchange for an illusory airconditioned lifestyle. I look forward to rejoicing in a people's victory in the case of Kg Buah Pala.


Federal Court blow for High Chaparral villagers

Kampung Buah Pala holds its breath

Guan Eng warns developer not to play hard ball

Federal govt “ready to help”; Koh: Don’t blame me

Citizen journalists Jimmy Leow and Chan Lilian have gone to Kampung Buah Pala or High Chaparral several times. Here is a video of the folks from Kampung Buah Pala. The village has been embroiled in a drama involving suspected landscams by the previous Barisan Nasional state government, broken pre-election promises by the Pakatan Rakyat politicians. Recently Hindraf challenged CM Lim Guan Eng to change the fate of this village with a stroke of his pen. Meanwhile, Darshan Singh, a lawyer described the whole thing as 'Bullshit'. Though the two citizen journalists do not understand what some of the villagers said in Tamil, they feel they should share the faces of the folks of Kampung Buah Pala. These people are having sleepless nights and the younger generation are guarding the village by setting up a sentry to prevent the developer from demolishing their houses.

Despite encountering monumental obstacles to true justice, we can take heart in the fact that more and more Malaysians are waking up and courageously asserting their rights as citizens. Read Nathaniel Tan's post on the Bukit Koman issue here.