Thursday, May 13, 2010

Two Inspiring Commencement Speeches

Steve Jobs speaks with a clarity, simplicity and sincerity that admirably underscore his innovative genius. Well worth your time!

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

I have yet to read a single Harry Potter book. When J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book burst upon the reading world in 1997, I fancied myself a wee bit too mature to get overly excited about an author who appeared to be Enid Blyton's successor - albeit more contemporary and a lot hipper. Besides, the first Harry Potter book I came across was an overpriced hardcover edition and there was no way I could see myself forking out so much cash for a mere book.

A few years later the Harry Potter movies hit the cinemas. Out of curiosity I picked up a pirate DVD and watched the whole thing with mixed feelings. On the one hand I had to acknowledge the impressive production quality in terms of casting, scripting and special effects. I wasn't entirely taken by the storyline and I felt there was something missing from the mix. I still can't quite place my finger on the problem - but, considering that the Harry Potter brand is now worth £15 billion, what's my personal opinion worth?

Sybil Pillai - a friend I haven't seen in years who just added me on Facebook - had shared J.K. Rowling's 2008 commencement speech at Harvard on her Wall. On impulse I decided to check it out and, after listening to the entire thing, I felt a great deal more warmth towards Ms Rowling. If somebody dropped off a few dog-eared Harry Potter books at my doorstep, I'd probably read them all in the loo - and, who knows, I might become a fan too.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Speak out for Anwar Ibrahim's sake

Anwar Ibrahim with Paul Martin, circa 1995

Politically motivated charges impede his vision of a democratic Malaysia

Paul Martin

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 5:35PM

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. After having differences of opinion with prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he was removed from office, charged with sodomy and corruption – charges condemned worldwide as an attempt to remove him from politics – and imprisoned for six years. After his release in 2004, he became the leader of a coalition of opposition parties that is successfully challenging the ruling coalition's power. Mr. Anwar has now been charged again with sodomy, a charge that has again been condemned worldwide.

I have known Mr. Anwar well since the period when we each served as finance ministers for our respective countries. He is deeply committed to democracy, justice and the rule of law. And I have watched with horror how he has been treated in Malaysia because of that commitment. His initial imprisonment was seen worldwide as politically motivated. Amnesty International regarded him as a prisoner of conscience, jailed for the non-violent expression of his political opinion. After his release in 2004, he redoubled his campaign, attracting thousands to his public rallies, with the result that the historic 2008 election returned an unprecedented number of opposition candidates to Parliament. He now poses a threat to the government in the next national elections, expected in 2013 – the real reason for the latest charge.

His trial, which began Feb. 2, is widely seen as not meeting international standards for a fair trial. The former Anwar political aide who is making the sodomy accusation was reportedly seen with leading ruling coalition figures prior to the filing of the charge; Mr. Anwar's lawyers have been denied access to vital prosecution documents; and the trial has been transferred to a higher court whose judges are seen as linked to the ruling coalition's main party. It is small wonder that Michael Danby, chair of Australia's parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, has charged that Malaysia's legal system is being manipulated to drive Mr. Anwar out of politics. Mr. Danby has said that Asian democrats were “flabbergasted” by the charges and that “everyone in Malaysia, and everyone in the international legal community, knows that Anwar is innocent of these charges.”

The presence of so many foreign embassies attending Mr. Anwar's show trial is a clear expression of international concern. This is an issue on which the world must speak out.

If his country is to take its place among the progressive nations of the world, it is crucial that the politically motivated charge against Mr. Anwar be dropped and that he be free to pursue his vision of a democratic Malaysia, properly respectful of human rights and international law.

Paul Martin is former prime minister of Canada.

Canadian Parliament in Ottawa

To: Datuk Seri Najib Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia
Federal Government Administration Centre
Bangunan Perdana Putra
62502 Putrajaya

cc: His Excellency Selwyn Vijayarajan Das
High Commissioner for Malaysia
60 Boteler Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 8Y7

Dear Prime Minister

We, the undersigned members of the Parliament of Canada, respectfully express our concern about the current trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Anwar Ibrahim, now an opposition leader. We write in the knowledge of the longstanding friendly relationship between our two countries and trust that our petition will be accepted in that light.

We are concerned about the charges of sodomy against Dr Anwar, which appears to be a repetition of the sodomy conviction against him some 12 years ago. The conviction, which led to his six-year imprisonment as a prisoner of conscience, was seen worldwide at that time as politically motivated and, as such, caused serious damage to Malaysia's reputation. We are anxious that such damage not be repeated. Reports, however, strongly suggest that the current sodomy charges against Dr Anwar, lodged following his re-election to Parliament and major electoral gains by his party, are again a ploy to remove him from political life.

We therefore urge that all charges against Dr Anwar be dropped. Such a decision by your administration will, we believe, restore international respect for your premiership and for Malaysia's judicial system. We note that our Australian parliamentary colleagues have similarly expressed their concern and requested an end to this trial.

Again, we stress that our petition is submitted with respect and amity towards Malaysia.


The following Canadian Members of Parliament of the Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party signed:

Gilles. Duceppe (Leader, Bloc Quebecois)
Franciine Lalonde (Bloc Quebecois Foreign Affairs spokesperson)
Louis Plamondon
Andre Bellavance
Johanne Deschamps
Mario Laframboise
Gerard Asselin
Paule Brunelle
Yvon Levesque
Meili Faille
Luc Malo
Christian Ouellet
Serge Cardin
Guy Andre
Diane Bourgeois
Pascal-Pierre Paille
Nicolas Dufour
Robert Vincent
Monique Guay
Carole Lavallee
Richard Nadeau
Marc Lemay
Yves Lessard
Claude Bachand
Roger Pomerleau
Raynald Blais
Claude Guimond
Eve-Mary Thai Thi Lac
Josee Beaudin
France Bonsant
Nicole Demers
Maria Mourani
Serge Menard
Luc Desnoyers
Jean Dorion
Jean-Yves Laforest
Carole Freeman
Robert Carrier
Bernard Bigras
Thierry St-Cyr
Christiane Gagnon
Claude DeBellefeuille
Michel Guimond
Pierre A. Paquette
Wayne Marston
Paul Dewar
Yvon Godin
Bill Siksay
Tony Martin
Chris Charlton
Claude Gravelle
Denise Savoie
Megan Leslie
Fin Donnelly
Don Davies
David Christopherson
Nathan Cullen
Irene Mathyssen
Dennis Bevington
Peter Stoffer
John Rafferty
Bruce Hyer
Malcolm Allen
Linda Duncan
Peter Julian
Alex Atamanenko
Jack Harris
Patrick Martin
Olivia Chow
Joseph Comartin
Libby Davies
Jean Crowder

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers in the Universe!

Anoora and Ahau (pic by Antares)

Belle and Reiya Sunshine (pic by Marcus)

Moon with Allie and Hana (pic by Ansgar)

Two generations of mothers: Lily Fu with daughter Belle 

and grandchildren Max, Allie, Hana and Reiya

In Shining Form: ANWAR IBRAHIM

Anwar speaks at a 160-table PKR dinner in Skudai, Johore (7 May 2010)...

Courtesy of MediaRakyat (uploaded 8 May 2010)

It's high time we had an intelligent prime minister with a warm heart and a luminous soul. I think Anwar Ibrahim is absolutely brilliant. At least he's inspiring. Najib and his Umnoputra Mafia can only drive us to despair and bankruptcy - financial as well as moral.


[A big round of applause to MediaRakyat for so promptly bringing Anwar's powerful speech to the rakyat!]