Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another assault on our fragile ecosystem!


Shot by Mary Maguire
Edited by Antares
Soundtrack: "Overflowing" by Sheldon Blackman & The Love Circle

Early on the morning of 4 September, the residents of Kampong Pertak, Ulu Selangor, were treated to the ominous sound of heavy equipment arriving in the village. A tractor-dozer and excavator had been sent up to begin widening the old logging trail that leads to Bukit Kutu and beyond.

What was this all about? I questioned the excavator operator and he asked me to have a word with Mr Tan, the contractor, who responded vaguely that they had been instructed to "upgrade" the logging trail by the member of parliament for Kuala Kubu Bharu, YB Wong Koon Mun from the MCA.

That was a bit of a surprise. In all the years I've been residing in these parts I've never known the MCA to take any interest in the Orang Asli. I felt sure there was more to this project than merely "improving" the logging trail for the benefit of the villagers.

About six months ago I recall bumping into an overweight Orang Asli named Rapi from Kg Tun Abdul Razak who seemed to be waiting for someone to show up. We chatted a bit and he mentioned something about a plan to tar the logging trail for easier access to the deep jungle. I told him it was the worst idea I had heard in a long time.

He asked me what prompted me to say that and I explained that a tarred road running through the jungle would lead to increased vehicular traffic... and inevitably the destruction of the natural beauty and tranquility of this popular recreational spot. Busloads of daytrippers will start coming up and leaving behind tons of garbage. Soon there will be greedy developers eyeing the prospects of creating luxury resorts and perhaps even a theme park like Mimaland! No way, I said emphatically. Rapi just shrugged.

I subsequently discovered that Rapi was an Umno member and had set himself up as some sort of spokesman for the Temuan community in Selangor. I shuddered at the thought. Yup, that's all the Orang Asli need: some sleazy Umno opportunist representing their interests!

Putting two and two together, it appeared that this encroachment could be yet another attempted rape on the ecosystem by the Barisan Nasional, just about the least environmentally friendly political party you will find anywhere.

I contacted Elizabeth Wong, Selangor state government exco member in charge of the tourism, consumer affairs and the environment, and she called me back shortly to say she had spoken with the District Officer and the Forestry Department and nobody knew anything about a "road upgrading" project in Pertak. She suggested I lodge a police report at once.

Now you'd probably understand my aversion to lodging police reports. Every time I've had to do something like that it takes up to two hours just to go through the bureaucratic rigmarole. Invariably, little action, if any, is taken - unless, of course, it involves honest citizens lighting candles in public places or parading in black clothes, in which event the police are likely to spring into swift response mode with teargas, water cannons and mass arrests.

As luck would have it, the very next morning some well-connected CEO-type nature-loving friends showed up who were incensed when informed of the presence of earthmoving machinery in the jungle. They reported this encroachment to the Splash office at the Selangor Dam and got to speak with the manager by phone. The man assured my friends he would despatch his men to investigate.

As it so happens, my ecowarrior friends are particularly fond of rivers and the great outdoors. They wasted no time walking up the trail to confront the workers, who had managed to make a hideous mess within the space of a few hours, scraping raw the already unstable embankment and leaving piles of loose earth on the steep slope facing the river.

This is the rainy season. In a matter of days the earth will pollute the normally crystalline waters - and within months, if not weeks, landslides may occur as the heavy machinery will put tremendous pressure on the highly erosive soil.

As my friends rightly pointed out, the contractor hadn't even bothered putting up a sign identifying the project. However, Mr Tan had done the necessary and given the headman a handsome bribe to secure his assent. To his credit, he amicably agreed to stop work and ordered the the withdrawal of the earthmoving equipment. I'm certain he has reported our objection to his employer, YB Wong (I mean Koon Mun, not Eli) - who will, in turn, complain to his Umno bosses that those goddam "militant tree-huggers" are interfering with "progress and development" and need to be investigated.

I'm half expecting a visit from the Special Twig any moment now. Indeed, they might even assign an entire Branch to this case.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Down the slimy slippery slope we go...

Musa Hassan stays on as IGP (!!!???!!!)

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — The Home Ministry has renewed Tan Sri Musa Hassan’s contract as the Inspector-General of Police for one more year until September 2010, despite the opposition’s claims that he is biased and has not brought down the national crime index.

The 38-year veteran police officer currently has a two-year contract that expires September 13. The Police Force Commission had recommended the one year extension for the 57-year-old law graduate in July, The Malaysian Insider reported on July 13.

He came to national prominence 11 years ago when investigating sacked deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s corruption and sodomy cases. Anwar, who is now opposition leader, has accused him of fabricating evidence.

Anwar’s Pakatan Rakyat has also blamed Musa for not fighting crime but instead pandering to the ruling Barisan Nasional government by harassing and detaining activists, opposition leaders and supporters.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last week ordered Musa to take action against a group of protesters who dragged along a severed cow-head in a dispute over a relocated Hindu temple in Shah Alam.

Witnesses said the riot police on duty did not take action while opposition politicians complained of double-standards by the police, citing the heavy action against activists wearing black, holding candle-light vigils and Pakatan assemblymen trying to have state assembly meetings in Ipoh.

Musa joined the police service as an inspector on Nov 11, 1969. Since then, he has held several important posts including as Malacca prosecuting officer in 1973, Bukit Aman Narcotics Division director in 1981 and Kuala Kubu Baru Police College lecturer in 1986.

He held the post of Bukit Aman prosecution/criminal law deputy assistant director in 1995 and was Johor chief police officer in 2003. In 2004, he was appointed Criminal Investigation Department director before being made Deputy Inspector-General of Police a year later.

Musa succeeded Tan Sri Mohamed Bakri Omar as the Inspector-General in September 2006 despite allegations of corruption.

In July 2007, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail ordered the then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to close their investigations that linked Musa to the release of three members of illegal betting syndicates.

He was then given a two-year extension in September 2007 when he reached retirement age.

Veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had also weighed in on the proposed extension a month ago, criticising the routine extension of service for top civil servants which he said creates cults of personality and promotes a cosy relationship between senior officers and their political masters.

[Source: The Malaysian Insider - images courtesy of Google]

And now the Wicked Queen is snugly ensconced in her Palace of Iniquity.
Her loyal minions, the Chief of the Uruk-hai and his Trained Goblins,
are ready to paint the town red...



Thursday, September 3, 2009

15Malaysia: 'ONE FUTURE' by Tan Chui Mui

This stark film by Tan Chui Mui starring Tian Chua and Ida Nerina is my personal favorite of this week's crop of short features presented by the exciting 15Malaysia project. In exactly 4 minutes and 44 seconds, Tan Chui Mui successfully conjures a hyperrealist nightmare vision of a conformist dystopia.

Tian Chua is absolutely convincing as The Man, while Ida Nerina is provocatively enigmatic as The Agent. Pete Teo's narration is crisp and tight and crucial to the dramatic flow.

Principal Cast
Tian Chua, Ida Nerina, Pete Teo (Narrator)

Supporting Cast
Cynthia Gabriel, Azman Hassan, Low Wai Sun, Oon Lai Keat, Lam Pooi Leng, Charlotte Lim, Diana Fernando, Sumining, Melissa Fernando, Noreen Joseph, Lee Kai Yin, Syed Harun, Muhammad Nazmi, Nikki Tok, Nor Aliya, John Teti, Albert Law, Christine Teti, Scott Issaac, Lee Ming Jun, Lee Yee Ling

Executive Producer
: Packet One Networks
Producer: Pete Teo
Director: Tan Chui Mui
DOP: Tan Chui Mui
Editor: Tan Chui Mui
Music: Ng Chor Guan
Post Audio: The Ark Studios
Translation: Copyleft Studio

Monday, August 31, 2009

Merdeka Message from My #2 Daughter

Photo by Marcus Luer


Received this as an SMS from my daughter Belle this morning. When I asked her if it was a Belle original, she immediately replied, "Of course!" Just felt like sharing this meaningful Merdeka message with all my friends and loved ones :-)

Sunday, August 30, 2009


These MERDEKA MUSINGS were first sent out as an email on 31 August 2003. They were subsequently published on this blog on 3 February 2007. As I haven't had time to write anything new, I'm recycling this essay. Interestingly, I only had to update three things: the age of Malaysia as an "independent" nation was altered from 50 to 52, and I inserted something about maid abuse and custodial deaths...

HERE WE ARE, a 52-year-old nation in mid-life crisis but vehemently denying there’s anything the matter with us. It’s that kiasu neighboring country or those jealous jew-funded westerners – THEY are to blame for all our economic woes!

What about the rising rate of petty thefts, armed robberies, brutal rapes, senseless murders, abuse of domestic help and deaths in police custody? Is that an inevitable by-product of “progress”? Or is it simply due to a gross imbalance in per capita incomes resulting from a rigged and uneven fiscal playing field – coupled with a hypocritical attitude towards our affection-craving animal selves, wherein public puritanism increases in direct proportion to private perversion?

Human rights and environmental abuses? The goddam Yanks are the prime culprits – well, actually they ARE, look at their secret mind control projects and the havoc they have been wreaking all over the world in the name of “freedom” - but this essay is about US, not the U.S., even if our flags look pretty alike.

And, besides, the U.S. is only a strong-arm front for the ancient Babylonian Brotherhood which has, over thousands of years, quietly opened branches throughout the globe and is thus the prime mover of the One-World-Order “globalization” agenda (read The Biggest Secret by David Icke; you may be put off by Icke’s tabloid-style muckraking, but the muck is there for sure and we ignore it at our own peril).*


I used to get hot under the collar hearing about rampant crony capitalism and the high-level corruption it invariably breeds. Not any more. The corporate crime that works hand-in-glove with institutionalized religion and big military seems endemic to this planet, not just this country. Scandals on the scale of Enron and put our own homegrown ones to shame. I used to think we were living in a dictatorship, an authoritarian police state. Well, compared to what’s going on in America – especially since the Bush gang muscled its way into the White House - we’re practically a Polynesian paradise.

We can no longer take comfort in the notion that we’re not as poorly off politically as folks in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, or Myanmar – nor can we aspire towards the degree of civil liberties and administrative accountability we naïvely believed were to be found in mature “democracies” like Britain, the US, Australia or Canada. Indeed, we no longer have any authentic rôle models, no one to emulate. It’s time to grow up and cultivate our own true identity as Malaysians, and quit wanting to be just like anybody else.


Just what constitutes “a “global” Malaysian? RM500 million buildings, RM500,000 cars, RM5,000 suits, and RM50 haircuts are hardly the hallmarks of success – contrary to what local policymakers may think. Five million flags waving from shophouses, cars, and in sweaty schoolkids’ hands are not the true signs of patriotism – even if it all looks mighty festive. It’s all a mere display – and everyone knows it.

But in a culture that’s founded on face-saving, cosmetic appearances are all-important. Even if you can’t afford it, you have to entertain your guests with a lavish wedding dinner at a 5-star hotel. So many people buying and flying the Jalur Gemilang (“Brilliant Stripes” - that’s what we call the Malaysian flag) must mean people are quite happy with the ruling party, right?

I’ve spotted vans with as many as ten flags fluttering from their roofs. Recently I saw a teenaged boy on a BMX with a full-sized Jalur Gemilang affixed to his tiny bike. It was an amusing sight indeed – but I couldn’t help thinking the kid would be equally proud flying the KFC, Nike, Manchester United, Hand Brand Groundnuts or Selangor Football Club insignia.

Amongst shopkeepers it would appear that displaying the Malaysian flag in the weeks leading up to Merdeka serves as some sort of talisman against bad luck (in the form of possible harassment by overzealous local council personnel - such as we seem to have within the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council). In other words, not making a public show of “patriotism” may prove inimical to one’s business prospects.

Alas, being a patriot isn’t quite the same thing as showing loyalty to the elected government of the day – but the lines are often blurred, and deliberately so.

From my perspective, pride in our country is best shown in simple gestures like making an effort to keep our streets and drains and parks and forests and beaches garbage-free. Or being vocal about polluting industries and corrupt practices in public office. Or being proud of and sustaining our reputation for hospitality, generosity and warmth towards guests and passing strangers. For that matter, why not let charitability begin at home by being more polite, patient, understanding – and honest - with our own compatriots? Why wait for a major disaster to show the spirit of camaraderie?

My first and only visit to Burma was in 1984 – but I still recall how impressed I was by the honesty of the people I met. For example, the donkey-cart driver who ran after me, anxious to return the wallet I had dropped in his vehicle. Or the smooth-talking street hustler who wanted to buy a pair of jeans from me with a US$100 bill; and when I apologized for not having enough change, quietly advised me never to accept US$100 currency notes from the locals as they were all counterfeit (“You good man, I don’t cheat you, but Israeli, ha ha ha!” he added, which was perhaps the nicest compliment I received in Burma).

I believe the only way we will ever acquire a “true identity” as a nation is by simply allowing – if not actively encouraging – spontaneous cultural expression without attempting to control it with antiquated censorship laws and heavy-handed bureaucratic supervision. Being multiracial and multilingual is a genuine asset – not a liability as some are moved by fear and insecurity to think.

No one can dictate the terms and conditions of artistic flowering. One need only sit back, relax, and let it all happen. Of course, channeling sufficient funds towards supporting homegrown arts practitioners would greatly ease and accelerate the process. But this needs to be done with no overt or covert ethnocentric agenda. Otherwise, the culture we breed will turn out to be sycophantic, insular and syphilitic. And that would be far worse than having no culture at all – and therefore no national identity. Unassuming anonymity is a great deal more appealing – and a lot less self-destructive - than overweening pride and self-proclaimed fame.

[Cartoon courtesy of Lato' Lat]

*David Icke's The Biggest Secret now accessible online!