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