Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's the festival of lights, rights and delights!





May you be blessed with the spirit of Joy, Freedom and Love this Diwali!

Friday, October 16, 2009

BEHOLD... MACC's NEXT INCARNATION!


The worst decision the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) ever made was to haul up Teoh Beng Hock for overnight interrogation. It has become patently clear that the MACC was being used as a weapon of mass destruction against the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Selangor - just as it was used to gain political leverage in Perak by setting up, arresting and charging two PKR state assemblymen with corruption.

The PKR duo were threatened with imprisonment, cajoled, and bought over as part of Najib Razak's devious coup against the elected Perak state assembly.

I seriously doubt MACC deputy director Hishamuddin Hashim's plan was to kill Teoh Beng Hock. He only wanted Teoh to sign a false confession that would incriminate his boss, DAP assemblyman for Seri Kembangan, Ean Yong Hian Wah.

Indeed, ever since the ACA was given extra powers and renamed the MACC in January 2009, it appears to have been assigned a new mission: to target and destroy Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

But, alas, the unforeseen does happen. Teoh may have proven to be a tougher nut to crack than anticipated. His interrogators could have pushed him past breaking point and this usually gentle young man might have turned aggressive on them. In the ensuing scuffle, frayed nerves and pent-up rage could have erupted out of control.


Rumors were rife in July that ousted mentri besar and Umno warlord Khir Toyo (right) had set his sights on 16 September 2009 as the target date for a vicious and violent Selangor power grab - a tit-for-tat response to Anwar Ibrahim's 916 attempt to wrest control of the federal government through defections last year).

Selangor is, after all, the richest and most developed state in Malaysia. Umno couldn't just watch idly while billions of ringgit fell under "enemy" control. Decisive, audacious action was called for. And that's what led to the untimely death - on the eve of his wedding - of an innocent 30-year-old political secretary named Teoh Beng Hock.

As to be expected, Hishamuddin Hashim and his henchmen at the MACC have been trying every trick in the book to wriggle out of the cold glare of negative publicity. Maggots are notoriously afraid of sunlight and feed only in the dark.

With the only-too-obvious collusion of the PDRM and almost every government agency involved, the MACC is likely to get off scot-free. Few of us have any faith left in the present Umno/BN regime. From the highest to the lowest ranks, they have shown themselves to be congenital deniers, liars and utter hypocrites - and arrogantly defiant ones at that!


But where innocent blood has been shed, there is always a heavy karmic price to pay. Even if the perverts and sadists at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission manage to escape Malaysian justice (which is as rarely sighted and whose existence is as widely disputed as Bigfoot), they certainly will not escape the consequences of their evil actions.

The poster below (which I found on Patrick Teoh's Niamah blog) is perhaps a sober intimation of the hideous punishment that awaits Hishamuddin Hashim and his MACC henchmen when they get transferred to their next assignment...

CLICK TO ENLARGE!


That's right, folks... MACC will henceforth be known as the Malaysian Association of Chinese Comedians. Since nobody takes MACC seriously anyhow, they probably won't notice the difference.


RPK: TOO HOT TO HANDLE!

In case you haven't viewed the latest instalment of RPK SPEAKS HIS MIND...



RPK talks about last year's detention under the ISA and the charges of sedition made against him for various articles that appeared in his Malaysia Today website. It's obvious that the former homo minister, Syed Hamid Albar, decided to sign a two-year detention order under Section 8 of the Internal Security Act to keep RPK locked away indefinitely in Kamunting because he was deemed a grave threat to Najib Razak's chances of becoming PM.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

COMMON GROUND


Many decades ago I came to the conclusion that the day would soon arrive when humanity will be faced with imminent extinction - unless it has enough good sense to outgrow antiquated, anthropocentric belief systems and find common ground with all the other lifeforms with which we share the biosphere.

A cursory glance at news headlines over the past week (death toll rising from Sumatra earthquake, massive floods in India and the Philippines, destructive storms and mudslides in Southern California) has convinced me that that fateful day has indeed arrived. In fact, it probably arrived at least 10 years ago, but our so-called leaders were too busy plotting world domination to notice. And, even as I type this, many continue on the same tack.


Even with Barack Obama in the White House, it appears that not much has changed. There's still talk of increasing troop levels in Afghanistan - instead of finding a non-military win-win solution and declaring an immediate ceasefire. Some continue to threaten a nuclear attack on Iran. In effect, it's clear that the giant oil companies and international financiers still hold sway when it comes to deciding the political agenda. Why else are feisty Greenpeace volunteers climbing onto the roof of the British Parliament to draw global attention to climate change?

Closer to home, the component parties of Pakatan Rakyat are faced with a genuine dilemma: can they transcend their own party ideologies and infighting, and agree upon a few universal principles on which they can find common ground?


In other words, are we capable of stepping back from the petty issues clouding our vision and taking time out to contemplate the Big Picture; to once again see the beauty and majesty of the forest instead of squabbling over a few scrawny trees?

Some folks go ga-ga over puppies and treat their dogs as equal members of the family, to the extent of sharing a bed with their furry pets. Others recoil at the mere sight of a canine, believing that dogs are unclean and that if one comes into contact with canine saliva, it could ruin their prospects of going to heaven. Some exhibit an irrational fear of dogs, even when the mutt's tail is wagging. Strange, isn't it, that some folks actually believe being licked by a dog is a greater "sin" than behaving in a cruel and insensitive manner towards animals?


How can we possibly find common ground with people who think drinking beer or doing a bit of yoga or displaying some bare skin are far worse transgressions against their religion than accepting gross injustice and wholesale corruption?


If the water supply is poisoned, everybody gets sick or dies - regardlesss of whether they worship in a mosque or a church or a temple or are completely apathetic about the existence or non-existence of God. Similarly, if the air is severely polluted, EVERYBODY CHOKES - and it doesn't matter a whit if you've been celibate your whole life or earn your living as a prostitute.


In effect, environmental degradation impacts on everyone and everything across the entire spectrum of belief. Whether you're a corrupt and horny Umno minister or a rare Amazonian horned toad, ecosystemic health is one thing you can't afford to ignore.

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

There are certainly a few fundamentalist Christian sects that preach precisely this. In America they are called the Christian-Zionist rightwing and they are the ones who have been pushing their Armageddon agenda, in the hope that accelerating the advent of the Final Apocalypse will hasten the return of their savior, Jesus Christ.

Such a belief system borders on psychosis, but I'm pretty sure they constitute a very tiny minority. Those of us who consider ourselves sane must greatly outnumber these eschatological extremists.

How does one measure sanity? For a start, being able to appreciate beauty and enjoy the sensation of being alive puts one on firm ground. To be able to delight in all our senses; to savor the taste of fine cooking, the sensuous feel of rich satin, the aroma of burning grass, the splendor of a painted sky or a vivid rainbow, the haunting strains of a flute at twilight or a mellifluous voice raised in melodious song; these are the unmistakeable symptoms of sanity, the hallmarks of a living, conscious being endowed with a zest for life.


This is where we can all find common ground. Appreciation of nature's beauty and the simple joys of our incarnate existence in the physical world. The gamut of powerful emotions to be experienced and explored as we spin merrily around the Sun affords us access to the mystery of existence itself.

The Chinese place great premium on the quality of air and water. They call it fengshui (from the Chinese words for "wind" and "water"). With good fengshui, prosperity, good health and longevity follow as a matter of course.

Can you imagine, then, what follows upon our cavalier mistreatment of the living ecosystem that sustains us? When we pollute the air with vehicular emissions and factory fumes and poison the waters with industrial effluents, what are we creating for ourselves and for our progeny if not hell on earth?

Do we as a species have sufficient maturity and understanding to set aside trivial prejudice and inherited programming - and come together consciously and cooperatively to restore the health of our precious environment?

Do we have the political will to get our priorities right? In our obsession with facts and figures and pie charts, have we blinded ourselves to what is glaringly obvious to anyone who takes time out to sit atop a hill and gaze around in awe at nature's inherent magnificence?

It doesn't matter what color the skin you're born in happens to be; nor does it make a difference which direction you face when praying, or if you even pray at all. Country bumpkin or city slicker, you are an inextricable part of the whole complex spectrum of energetic interactions that synergetically constitute what we call "Life on Earth."

If you can stop in your tracks and integrate this simple truth... there's a damn good chance you will be able to find some common ground - not only with other humans that populate the planet, but also with the marvelous diversity of biological species that contribute to the neverending dance of life, death and rebirth.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Nut Graph cured my political hangover

I'm recovering from a political hangover. The Bagan Pinang by-election was indeed a crucial watershed. The outcome would be a fair indication of how soon Raja Petra Kamarudin would be able to return to his beloved homeland as a free man.

Not so soon, I'm afraid, if Isa Abdul Samad's impressive win is anything to go by.

In the past couple of days I've been reading almost every analysis of Pakatan Rakyat's abysmal defeat at Bagan Pinang in an attempt to understand what's really going on at this juncture.

As usual, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah makes all the right noises. But why does he continue to sit on his lonely rock spouting Yoda-like aphorisms and hoping to see Umno redeem itself? And why should Umno even bother, so long as the Indian vote can be bought with just a packet of muruku flour, one kilo of Milo, and a glittering saree?

And what about the Chinese vote? Whip out the carrot of more ugly concrete structures, more contracts for contractors and developers; for good measure show them the stick of Islamic fanaticism à la Hasan Ali and PAS Youth, and they'll be weighing their fortunes on the dacing as they have done so for decades. At least with Barisan Najis you know you can buy your way out of anything, including murder.

My unfounded optimism about a PAS win at Bagan Pinang proves I'm not exactly savvy about the nitty-gritty of post-GE12 Malaysian politics. Admittedly, I've been buoyed up by a nostalgic yearning for the euphoria of 9 March 2008 when the sky seemed so much bluer and the sun shone upon the first green shoots of a bona fide Bangsa Malaysia - living in a genuine democracy, free from institutionalized prejudice and moral rot.

The Nut Graph is rarely my first option when browsing for local news. I know this alternative online journal run by former Star journo Jacqueline Ann Surin has worked hard over the past year or so to carve its own niche in the burgeoning online media scene. Just as it was reaching its goal, it ran out of funding and is now surviving on donations. I suppose I was initially put off by its highfalutin name and self-conscious political correctness. But over time I have found myself thoroughly impressed by The Nut Graph's accomplishments in terms of the generally high quality of writing and visual presentation.


This impression has been further reinforced by Shanon Shah's excellent coverage of the Bagan Pinang by-election which I had missed earlier, in the heat of the excitement. Here's an excerpt from an insightful story he filed on 7 October:

Zulkefly Omar’s dilemma
7 Oct 09 : 8.00AM

By Shanon Shah

The Nut Graph asks Zulkefly what his stand is on concert banning, as called for by central PAS Youth against both Danish soft-rock band Michael Learns to Rock and US R&B diva Beyonce Knowles. He declines comment. What is his stand on the open sale of alcohol? No comment. What is his position on the whipping sentence dropped on Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor? No comment. He says, "Ask me questions about the campaign, please."

But these are not curly questions. These are questions on issues of public policy. Yet, Zulkefly declines, albeit politely and sweetly. And when he addresses the multiracial crowd at the DAP operations centre in Batu 9 on 5 Oct, it is clear to see why Zulkefly is so cautious. "A vote for PAS is a vote for the PR and its vision," he says in earnest.

And so this must be Zulkefly's dilemma in Bagan Pinang. How will he sell himself to multiracial and multireligious voters while making sure PAS's Islamist skeletons do not come jumping out of his campaign closet?

And here's another superb piece by Shanon Shah filed on 11 October:

A bizarre week in Bagan Pinang (no excerpt - just click on the link and read it at source!)

I'm sure you'll agree that the sort of quality journalism The Nut Graph has achieved is worthy of our encouragement and support. When I feel a little more flush I'm going to send them some cash so they can keep going. I hope those of you in a better financial position will ensure that The Nut Graph survives. It gives us a glimpse of what the future promises.

All images courtesy of The Nut Graph

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mas Y Mas have a new album out...

THIS IS MAS Y MAS... TWO YEARS AGO...

Dynamite trio from Nottingham give a unique twist to Latin Fiesta dance music. Captured live in concert on 13 July 2007 @ the Rainforest World Music Festival by Antares. Featuring Rikki Thomas-Martinez on guitar & vocals; Wayne D. Evans on doublebass; Richard Kensington on percussion. Visit them @ www.masymas.co.uk

THREE YEARS AGO...

Recorded at the Frog and Onion

JUST HEARD THEIR LATEST ALBUM - LA BALA - RECORDED IN CUBA - AND IT'S SIMPLY AMAZING!

Will blog about it soon...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Can Anwar turn the tide at Bagan Pinang?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

If only Jibby would attend one of Anwar's ceramahs. Bet he'd be yelling "Reformasi!" too... before turning himself in and confessing his crimes :-)