Friday, April 10, 2015

Statement on the Selangor Dam (revisited)

Selangor River rapids (Antares)

I issue this statement on my own behalf, and not as a representative of any group or organization. I am resolutely against any attempt to solve our serious environmental problems - of which recurring smog and water shortages (despite worsening floods) are merely symptoms - through heavy-handed bureaucratic schemes and club-footed technological ploys.

Never mind the goddam EIA. These multi-million-ringgit "professional" reports are a wordscreen for a lot of nasty unspeakable projects that I prophesy will soon be totally banned from this precious planet, as more and more of us awaken to the terrible truth.

What an EIA does is to soften the crushing impact of reckless "development" projects. The EIA is very much like an inventory of potential damage caused by warfare: you might lose a few toes, half your brain, most of your vision, your hearing, your sanity, etc - BUT if you follow certain SAFETY PRECAUTIONS, you might escape with only half the above injuries!

The point is: WE DON'T WANT TO GO TO WAR AT ALL! What industrialization has done to the environment is essentially a declaration of war against natural beauty and simple, honest values. That way lies a dead-end future of merciless grey grimness unfit for organic lifeforms, only state-owned androids.

Building yet another colossal dam to feed our insatiable appetite for "growth" is definitely a sign of derangement. We have been forcefed - and a few have greedily swallowed - Mahathir's "vision" of unfettered industrial development and economic expansion. But how many have dared to publicly question the sanity or wisdom of this management policy? And when a few voices in the wilderness cried out in warning, were they heeded or even heard amidst the clamor of the stock exchange and the growing traffic jams?

When water catchment areas have been rudely denuded and despoiled, and hills carved up for high-rise housing, do we expect to live happily after on this earth? Surely Mother Earth will seek ways in which she can rid herself of this terrible infestation called humanity, surely she will find ways to alert us to the grave errors of our perception, so that we can return to a loving, cherishing relationship with her (instead of exploiting her and robbing her of resources meant for all living things, and seeing her beauty as no more than booty for our taking).

KL flash flood, March 2009 (Ahmad Asmadi/The Star)

My friends, the inclement weather changes - wet months getting wetter and hot months getting hotter and cold countries getting colder - are part of the phenomenon called Global Warming. It is largely caused by human insensitivity to the miraculous spectrum of life that constitutes our biosphere. "Modern Man" suffers from acute anthropocentrism - a viewpoint focused exclusively on human need and greed - and acute anthropocentrism will eventually destroy the whole earth. Our needs are amply provided for by Mother Nature, as the wise ones say, but not our greed.

So our recent plague of environmental problems is basically an indicator of our excesses. To further abuse and exploit the environment certainly will not help - no matter how clever or inventive or EXPENSIVE the technology may be.

What will help is to reassess our management policies and national aspirations with complete truthfulness. We would immediately recognize that we have reached the point where national ego pride could ruin us and genuine humility just might save us.

Humility means acknowledging how little we know about the universe; and humility comes from realizing that nature's beauty and mystery are worth infinitely more than our perverse obsession with illusory fame and fortune.

Being able to breathe clean, fresh air and admire the distant hills every day may not get us into the Guinness Book of World Records or the Who's Who of the Banana Republics- but it will certainly get us closer to regaining heaven on earth.

Road to Heaven by Emily Mueller
So stop midway through this frantic and futile feast of fools and look up at the ethereal clouds in the sky, and remember why we chose to be born on this exquisite and unique gem of a planet. Was it to puff ourselves up with toadish pompousness and amass a hoard of dragon's gold we could never bequeath to our grandchildren? Because our grandchildren would be too busy turning into cockroaches, rats, and other lifeforms that can survive or even thrive in ugly and polluted environments.

Or did we come here to experience the separation of matter from spirit, and to learn how they can be harmoniously fused again? For this lesson would teach us that the outer reflects the inner. Where there is drought in the external reality, it means our souls are parched of feelings, love has dried up. Where there are landslides and flash floods, it means our integrity is decaying and our emotions are murky and raging out of control, bursting the banks of tranquility. And where the air is thick with greasy crud and black with factory soot, it means our thoughts are indecent (i.e., mechanical, pornographic) and our spirit is exhausted.

These are not - as an official propagandist might have you believe - the essential hallmarks of progress, the few broken eggs of omelette-making. Material comfort and spiritual distress are not the sine qua non of success. If truth be told, these are the unmistakable symptoms of acute mismanagement pulling the wool over the eyes of - or, rather, shearing the wool off - a woefully disinformed and misguided citizenry.

Don't be fooled or bullied by businessmen and politicians into believing that ideals and principles are for lily-livered dreamers and bleeding-hearts. Ideals and principles are our navigational beacons through the foggy night of never-knowing-for-sure. Businessmen and politicians prefer to bandy about FACTS and FIGURES. They call it being REALISTIC, being PRACTICAL, being LOGICAL, being RATIONAL.  "Hey, don't be so emotional," they're fond of admonishing individuals like me.

Well, my friends, if you think the world is run by walruses and carpenters... oops, I mean, busynessmen and appalliticians... and there isn't much you and I can do to change the situation - you're dead wrong! In the first place, they are not running the world - they're RUINING it! And in the second place, every bit of POWER they appear to wield they STOLE from YOU.


We no longer desire to be permanent debt-slaves of an inaccessible power elite ("Boss ada meeting!"). We shall no longer pick up the bill for your deadly sins. We are prepared to give you ONE LAST CHANCE to admit your mistakes (go on, say "Sorry lah!" just once with feeling) and then call for suggestions from the public as to what needs to be done about everything: our air, our water, our legal system, our police force, our news media, our housing policy, our hideous track record of moral duplicity, and our utter contempt for truth, never mind the environment!

I'm absolutely sure the very first suggestion will be: DO AWAY WITH OBSOLETE LAWS FROM THE DARK AGES LIKE THE ISA AND THE OSA. Then we can feel free at last to discuss decent, intelligent, eco-friendly and non-destructive ways to resolve our problems without being harassed by zomboid goons.

In fact, you may find we actually have very few problems in this country. I'd venture that they can all fit into a single courtroom and be tried for conspiracy to befuddle and bamboozle the public! And the most fitting "punishment" would be for the entire cabinet to live for two whole years in an Orang Asli village on RM500 a month. They will each be issued a 20-year-old 80 c.c. motorbike - and no petrol allowance.

The Orang Asli, of course, will be paid ministers' salaries during the exchange period to make up for the inconvenience of having to teach a bunch of back-biting batik-shirted baboons the basics of honest living.*

Magick River
6 March 1999

*Twelve years have elapsed since I wrote this. Regrettably, I have had to revise my earlier, overly romantic view of the Orang Asli and their role as guardians of "indigenous wisdom." This may have been true of past generations, raised on grandmothers' stories instead of low-grade TV. However, the new generation of Orang Asli - and I refer specifically to the Temuan of Ulu Selangor - are hardly in a position to teach anybody "the basics of honest living." Indeed, I'm inclined to think only a tiny handful these days have any grasp of the notion of honesty. The rot from Putrajaya has spread all the way down to the roots. To rehabilitate BN ministers we will probably have to outsource the contract!

[First posted 6 November 2011]

Monday, April 6, 2015


COMMENT This is the first time in 34 years I have actually found myself in agreement with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his recent, although rather belated, queries in respect of the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder saga.

These questions make sense. These are the same questions a very large portion of the Malaysian population has been asking for over eight years now.

Khalid Abu Bakar (right), our beloved inspector-general of police (IGP), has in the meantime, been performing backward somersaults trying to avoid the entire issue and instead, appears to have dedicated his entire career to tracking Twitter messages on social media.

'Twitter Khalid' has even had the audacity to threaten (which he is very good at) anyone who dares to bring up the issue of 'motive' in the grisly murder of an innocent female foreign national at the hands of two of Malaysia's best trained commandos.

The excuse Khalid has given is that the Federal Court has made a decision and any questioning of the reasons behind that decision would be tantamount to contempt of court.

What Khalid has failed miserably to appreciate is the fact that no one is 'questioning' that decision. Everyone agrees the decision is correct.

However, it is the question of motive which has never been addressed in any of the three courts this murder trial has progressed through. In fact, evidence in respect of motive was never tendered by the prosecution.

Therefore, as far as I (and Mahathir) are concerned, it is still open season on motive.

So instead of terrorising twitterers, perhaps Khalid may see fit to revisit this issue with a little more fervour than he has shown in the past.

Despite the press releases being launched from the IGP's office, none of them detract from the fact that convicted murderer Sirul Azhar Umar has categorically said no officer from the Polis Di-Raja Malaysia (PDRM) has visited him in Sydney to interview him.

If Khalid disputes this, all he has to do is release the names of those officers who ostensibly attended to Sirul (left) and the exact date and time they clocked in with the detention centre authorities. Inspector Tonny Luggan (the investigating officer in Altantuya's case) says he was not sent to see Sirul in Sydney, so who was?

Khalid is also reported to have said that "Sirul's remark showed the fugitive was doing his utmost to bring disrepute and cast doubt over the investigations into the murder case, his involvement and the criminal justice system".

Yes. That is correct, because it is obvious to everyone that your investigations are incomplete.

As the current series of events appear to translate, Sirul is not disputing his involvement in the murder. All he is saying is that others were involved and they haven't been brought to book so why should he take the rap?

One need not have successfully completed an in-depth course in criminal investigation at Pulapol (Malaysian Police Training Centre) to be able to decipher the glaring holes in this entire saga.

A cursory viewing of a couple of episodes of Miami Vice or CSI New York would suffice in providing a clue as to how the matter ought to have been professionally addressed.

The established facts

Azilah Hadri and Sirul have been convicted of the murder of Altantuya by the highest court in our land. This has therefore been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the circumstances, there can be no question that these two gentlemen were in fact responsible for lodging two bullets in this poor lady's head and thereafter detonating some military grade explosives placed on her body causing it to be dissipated in the vicinity of some secondary jungle on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Sirul, who has, rather astutely, sought refuge at the Villawood detention centre on the outskirts of Sydney, has candidly admitted he was acting under orders and that he has been made a scapegoat for others who had not been brought to court.

In other words, he has tacitly admitted to the crime and confirmed that there may have been others behind it.

The question is why would Sirul and Azilah (right) have done this for no apparent reason? The courts have been interested only in whether an offence of murder had been committed and not why it was committed.

The prosecution failed to seek or put forth an explanation.

This is really the question which the IGP can provide an answer to if he is so inclined. He certainly has the resources. As long as he possesses the will, he most certainly will find the way.

Khalid, for goodness sake, please, just do your job. At the moment the general public perceive inactivity on your part as yet another ubiquitous and notorious Malaysian cover-up.

May I suggest you simply haul up the following characters and ask them these simple questions:

Azilah - Why did you and Sirul kill someone you didn't even know?

DSP Musa Safri (left) (then aide de camp DPM Najib Razak) - What exactly did you tell Sirul and Azilah to do to that poor Mongolian lady and who exactly asked you to engage their services?

Nasir Safar (Najib’s special officer) - What were you doing driving around in front of Abdul Razak Baginda's house on the evening of Oct 19, 2006, watching Azilah and Sirul abduct Altantuya?

PM Najib - Did you know that four of your staff were involved in this? If so, then why were they?

Deepak Jaikishan (businessman with close ties to Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor - Who asked you to shut private eye P Balasubramaniam up and get him and his family out of Malaysia immediately after he released SD1 (first statutory declaration)? (This should be easy as Deepak has already confessed to all of this).

Rosmah - Was it you? If not, then who?

Johari Razak (Najib’s younger brother) - Did you telephone senior lawyer Cecil Abraham on the evening of July 3, 2008 and ask him to prepare SD2 for Balasubramaniam to sign? If so why, and on whose behalf?

Cecil - Did you receive a telephone call from Johari Razak on July 3, 2008 to prepare SD2? If so, did you?

Sunil Abraham (Cecil’s son, who is also a lawyer) - Did you or did you not, assist your father in preparing SD2 and did you then personally deliver it to the Hilton Hotel, KL Sentral on the morning of July 4, 2008?

Zainal Abidin Muhayat - Were you a commissioner for oaths in 2008 and did you have your office at Zul Rafique and Partners, Lorong P Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur? If so, who sent you to the Hilton Hotel, KL Sentral on July 4, 2008 to attest the signature of one Balasubramaniam on SD2?

Nazim Razak (another brother of Najib) - Were you and your wife at the Curve, Mutiara Damansara late in the night of July 3, 2008? If so did you meet one Balasubramaniam (right) next to the VW showroom?

And if so, did you or did you not, threaten Balasubramaniam to follow the instructions of one Deepak Jaikishan and leave the country with his family immediately, otherwise his family's safety could not be guaranteed?

Najib - Did you instruct Johari and Nazim to arrange, respectively, for SD2 to be prepared and Balasubramaniam's subsequent departure from Malaysia? If so, why was that necessary?

Hamzah Zainuddin (Umno MP for Larut) - Did you, in 2011, offer Balasubramaniam safe passage back to this country and a cash inducement if he pleaded guilty to affirming a false statutory declaration (SD1). If so, why and on behalf of whom?

Khalid, may I also suggest that you contact a senior investigation officer from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) by the name of Abdul Rahman Bachok. He is a very diligent officer and has the entire file on investigations into the circumstances under which Balasubramaniam affirmed SD2. I am sure he will lend you his file and assist you in any way he can.

I believe he is a little annoyed that his file has been closed by the Attorney-General's Chambers. He had put a lot of effort into his investigations.

You may also care to contact the Brickfields police station and ask them why they have not followed up on the police report I lodged on July 8, 2008 in respect of Balasubramaniam's disappearance. I have sent them reminders but there has been no response.

All the above 'persons of interest' and their answers to the questions posed may possibly assist in revealing a motive for the crime. Is there any reason why you, Mr IGP would be disinclined to pursue the matter further and if so what are those reasons?

AMERICK SIDHU is a senior lawyer and counsel for late P Balasubramaniam and his widow,  A Santamil Selvi. Reproduced courtesy of Malaysiakini.