Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rhythm of the Rainforest ~ Sarawak 2005



Published on 1 Oct 2015

The annual Rainforest World Music Festival that has put Sarawak on the world music map since its humble beginnings in August 1998 is now an established event in the international music festival calendar. In 2005 I was commissioned to produce a feature-length documentary capturing the essence and spirit of this joyful, exuberant and intoxicatingly colorful festival. An 80-minute version was released on DVD in 2006. This 45-minute cut intended for local TV never got aired but here it is now on YouTube!

Produced & Directed by Antares
Production Coordinator: Emanar Alaya
Cameras: Aaron Chung, Jon Yap, Tan Yu Ming, Antares
Editing & Effects: Daljit Singh/Daily Rushes
Executive Producers: Sarawak Tourism Board

Released on DVD in July 2006 as a 79-minute feature-length documentary.



Morality Questionnaire (revisited)


[A sociology student posted me these questions in 2005 as a reaction to attempts by quasi-religious agencies like JAWI, the Federal Territory Religious Department, to enforce public morality by brute force.]

1. What are your views on the current morality of our Malaysian citizens and why do you think this is the case?

Morality comes from the word "more" meaning "social custom." As such, each society will have its own culturally specific, and ethno-specific, preferences and traditions. None of these traditional social customs is immutable, that is, social mores change with changing economic, educational, and technological conditions. Therefore, "morality" is NOT, in my view, a relevant issue.

HOWEVER, what we're really talking about here is the question of ETHICS. Ethicality - the innate sense of what might be called "decent" human behavior, particularly in terms of interpersonal interactions, is a universal concern and has validity beyond the confines of cultural imprinting, and beyond economic, political, social, ideological, and biological considerations.

Very few human beings on this planet are imbued with an ethical core; simply because the majority of humans are akin to farm animals, kept in a state of abject ignorance and powerlessness to alter their own destiny in order that their energy, their vitality, and their experiential data may be "harvested." Among the few who have somehow broken through their cultural and social programming and attained an ETHICAL sense (which is often accompanied by the evolvement of an AESTHETIC sensibility), there is a strong possibility of these rare individuals gaining sufficient self-awareness to ultimately achieve self-mastery.

Self-mastery implies that the individual no longer refers to any EXTERNAL AUTHORITY for instructions as to how to behave towards others. The "moral authority" is fully internalized in that the individual is no longer an ethical infant, but has indeed attained the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual maturity to govern himself or herself from the highest and most universal perspective available at any given moment.

From this standpoint, few Malaysians - indeed, few human beings, regardless of nationality - have any notion of "morality" that has not been inculcated or indoctrinated into its behavioral programming by an outside source - whether parental, societal, governmental, or ideological. These externally imposed concepts of morality are generally control mechanisms designed to make people easier to manage as statistics rather than as individuals. They often have absolutely no basis in organic reality and function purely as BELIEF SYSTEMS. As such, they are quite unnecessary and irrelevant to existence itself, but serve the hidden agenda of the Elite or ruling class.

When people refrain from certain behaviors out of fear of punishment, that is a sure indication that they have yet to acquire an ethical sense. Their fear of "breaking the law" and incurring "the wrath of God" or being penalized by the Law is what governs their actions. The more perceptive individuals who quickly learn that their parents and governments and spiritual leaders are inclined towards hypocrisy as a way of life ("Do what I say, don't do what I do!") will be prompted to break the taboos and behave in antisocial or criminal ways - but they will do so furtively because "getting caught" would mean severe punishment. Any attempt to "correct" their negative behavior can only result in more laws and more vigorous law enforcement, which ultimately strengthens the totalitarian state we might describe as "Big Brotherism" rather than enhance people's ethical sense.

In effect, the question you pose has to be rephrased differently if you desire an authentic answer instead of a superficial, programmed response. I suggest you work with this question: WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "MORALITY" AND "ETHICS" - AND ARE MALAYSIANS, SPEAKING GENERALLY, AWARE OF IT?

2. In your own point of view, do you think that there are any groups of people who need increased moral policing and why?

The phrase "moral policing" is offensive to me, but let's not quibble about semantic niceties here. In general, the stratum of society most often in need of ethical resensitization is the so-called "ruling class" (which includes hereditary rulers, politicians, bureaucrats, and the uniformed personnel employed and trained to protect their private interests). This widespread condition of hypocrisy has its origins in the distortion of truth stemming from a long history of political power coups whereby authentic authority has been systematically usurped by "pretenders to the throne" - in other words, those least qualified to rule (because they have yet to master themselves) are usually the ones most determined to seize power and pose as "moral authorities."

3. What are your views on the recent incidents involving increased moral policing by some religious authorities? (e.g. arrest of a transgendered person in a friend's house, JAWI raid on a KL nightclub, Malacca Belia 4-B campaign to spy on young people...)

No mature community would tolerate such a gross abuse of vested authority and power. Agencies such as JAWI are infested with hypocrites and serve only as a haven for acutely aberrated individuals. They definitely serve no constructive purpose and we would do well to abolish them completely.

4. What do you think is a better solution to address such situations and why?

There is really no problem and therefore no "solution" is called for. People everywhere will do what pleases them in the way of recreation - and, so long as their activities do not impinge on other people's civil liberties or become destructive, it's nobody's business what anybody does to amuse himself or herself.

5. Do you think the state or private bodies should be responsible to develop better ways to deal with those situations?

Ultimately, the state itself is an abstraction which exists only as a cover for criminal usurpation of the individual's divine right of self-governance. With clarity of mind, these "social issues" publicized in the press are red herrings, non-issues, and merely serve to distract the public from REAL problems, e.g., environmental degradation and the ruthless abuse and exploitation of "lower" lifeforms - whether these be categorized as the "less privileged" or "those not of voting age" or (in a patriarchal society, the female gender), or non-human species as a whole.

6. Do you think there are weakness in our current moral laws and why?

There is only ONE authentic, universal moral law and it simply states: DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD BE DONE BY. All other "moral" rules are arbitrary and utterly useless; and, as such, irrelevant to life and deserve to be abolished or repealed.

7. Do you think our moral laws need corrective measure or changes to be implemented to meet the current society's needs?

Refer to above response.

8. Do you think the State should be given some power to enforce these moral laws and why?

The so-called State has already abrogated unto itself way too many powers. What matters are human beings, indeed, all living beings - not artificial rules and regulations invented to conceal criminal abuse of power usurped from the inherent divinity (the God self) within each entity. Each of us as incarnate Souls ultimately has no evolutionary alternative but to accept TOTAL RESPONSE-ABILITY for how we experience "reality."

9. Many NGOs have campaigned for certain moral laws to be repealed and demand that the State should have no role in policing morality. Do you think this is fair proposition to all parties concerned?

The NGOs are on the right track but have yet to find the right tack. Rather than engage (and waste) their energy on "doing battle" against the "power structure" they will serve themselves and others far more effectively by paying closer attention to their own evolution as sentient beings, with the focus on attaining levels of consciousness some may describe as Buddhahood or Christhood.

10. To your own reasoning, why did you sign the Joint Statement and what do you hope it can achieve?

I am essentially aligned with the NGOs' broad objective of functioning as a system of "checks and balances" to established poltical authority even if I do not always agree with their terms of reference and modus operandi. An internet petition requires only a few seconds to sign and is the least one can do to contribute to positive social change - at least, in the short term :-)

11. What do you believe constitutes a moral society?

One in which each individual has attained "enlightenment" or Buddhahood and then evolved to the next level of spiritual maturity which some choose to call "Christ consciousness." As such, the "moral society" is constantly evolving and when the point is reached where enough individuals have reclaimed their sovereign power and freed themselves from external controls, the concept of external government will cease to exist - and ETHICS will be a "hardwired" integral component of our Operating Systems.

12. What do you think Malaysians and even yourself can do to bring improvement to the situation?

Ask the questions you have asked in this electronic interview and allow for the widest possible spectrum of responses. In short, we simply have to take time out to ponder the basic existential conundrums - preferably free of the corruption and distortion of institutionalized belief systems, i.e. religious doctrines.

13. Any last words or thoughts?

Enjoy the infinite possiblities of being in freedom and joy!

Thank you very very much :)

You're entirely welcome!

Antares
~^@^~

[First posted 2 December 2006]

Interviewed about mixed marriages for a children's book... (repost)

From my email archives, a request from Jim Holmes - author of a children's book on "mixed marriages" - for an interview that may never have seen the light of day...
Anoora, Ahau & Antares in Tanjong Malim, 1998

----- Original Message -----
From: jim@jimholmes.co.uk
Date: Tuesday, February 4, 2003 9:08 pm
Subject: Re: A Children's Book.

Dear Antares,

Here are the questions, think 12-year-olds. Can I call you by your old name, or should I call you Antares?

Antares applies as it has better exchange value.

There are no guarantees that the interview will be used, as we have 27 out of a possible requirement of 21.

Mine are not the kind of answers that questionnaires seek - not usually - but we'll give it a go.

1. What are your own ethnic roots, and what are those of your partner?

I was born to Chinese parents, but describe myself as primarily human. Anoora is from the indigenous Temuan tribe who live in the Malaysian rainforest.

2. Most people find a partner or get married within their own ethnic group, are there any social barriers to crossing ethnic boundaries in Malaysia?

The usual ones - but these barriers are beginning to disappear as TV brings more of the world into people's living rooms.

3. Do people think it strange that you did not find a partner from your own ethnic background? Does it make life difficult at times?

The raised eyebrows were not because I married outside my tribe - but because I wed someone perceived as socially inferior. My own mother, when shown a photo of Anoora, asked whose maid she was.

4. Can you communicate easily by language and do you find that your partner has different ideals and a differing set of social norms from your own?

Communication of abstract ideas is not even attempted, but feelings are easily understood and require no verbal language. Anoora is in the process of acquiring her own view of what or who she is. When I met her she was only a conduit for tribal customs and beliefs. Our worldviews couldn't be more different - like a dialogue between earth and sky.

5. Has being in a mixed marriage/relationship changed your way of looking at the world?

My way of looking at the world was already different from the norm. Living with Anoora has changed my way of looking at myself.

6. Do you think that mixing the races is one possible way forward for Malaysia?

There is a natural attraction between people of different skin color and perspectives. Over time I believe that at least one-third of humanity will be an exotic genetic mix. However, in Malaysia, Islam is a bit of a barrier to intermarriage. Not many would willingly subject themselves to compulsory change of belief system, even for love. This is a pity, as intermarriage is perhaps the most effective way to outgrow ethnic prejudices that lead to political tension.

Why?

In a multi-ethnic community that views people as individuals rather than as racial stereotypes, the politics of ethnic divide-and-rule would soon become extinct. Diversity would be celebrated, not feared.


Anoora, Antares & Eugenie in August 2009 (photo by Robin Tan)



[Originally published 27 June 2012 & reposted 24 March 2013]

Monday, September 28, 2015

Malaysia's 7th prime minister (updated & revised)

[This was originally posted 12 November 2009. Much has changed since then and I have added fresh commentary in green. However, one thing hasn't changed: I remain convinced that Anwar Ibrahim deserves our wholehearted support and that he is still Malaysia's best hope at this point. I believe that Anwar is the only leader that can drive the final nail into the coffin of Mahathirism - the cynical, twisted, materialistic ideology that got the nation bogged down in the deep shit of devious divisiveness.]


Like millions of other Malaysians I was looking forward gleefully to witnessing a Pakatan Rakyat government installed in Putrajaya after 16 September 2008 - with Anwar Ibrahim as our sixth prime minister.

Sixth... or seventh... it doesn't matter. I remain convinced that Anwar has the necessary experience to steer the nation clear of some treacherous reefs looming ahead.

Some of my friends say they would rather see Zaid Ibrahim (right) as PM. I'm a great admirer of Zaid Ibrahim and have no problem seeing him become prime minister one of these days.

[Well, this no longer holds true. Zaid Ibrahim has disqualified himself from consideration as a trustworthy leader. He has revealed himself as egotistical, petty-minded and occasionally vindictive - even though his views remain far more palatable than one would expect from any BN politician. Zaid has thus far had a cushy career as an Umno lawyer, de facto law minister, and lone wolf political commentator. Unlike Anwar and many other opposition figures, however, Zaid Ibrahim has never had to endure political persecution and incarceration, which makes me wonder if he has the mettle and stamina to survive a full-frontal assault from the power establishment.]

For that matter, Nizar Jamaluddin has also been described as prime minister material - but before he stands a chance of being appointed to the nation's highest office, his political party will have to shed some of the theological deadwood it is currently burdened with.

[It was reported yesterday that Hadi Awang bumped into Najib on the Sarawak campaign trail and hugged him warmly. That not only gives me the creeps, but I worry about PAS leaders like Hadi Awang, Nashrudin Mat Isa and Hasan Ali who seem unable to resist Umno's horny pheromones.]


In any case, so long as Anwar Ibrahim is in good health and willing to take on the responsibility, I would still prefer that the PM's job go to him. Not only does he have 16 years' experience under his belt as part of the Umno/BN regime under Mahathir, but he has also been initiated into the shadow side of power. Anwar has an intimate understanding of how precarious and illusory worldly power and status can be, having been at the receiving end of Mahathir's gross abuse of power back in 1998.

I'm convinced that anyone who has survived such a nightmarish ordeal would have learned to cherish the true meaning of freedom and justice.

Nurul Izzah Anwar, a member of parliament at 28

Apart from Anwar's phenomenal charisma as an orator and political reformer, he is supported by the magnificent Wan Azizah whose compassion, dignity and strength stand her in excellent stead as a prime minister's wife the entire nation can wholeheartedly love and respect. Not only that, their beautiful daughter Nurul Izzah has proven her mettle as an articulate, intelligent and plucky leader and has all the qualities necessary to someday become Malaysia's first female PM. (Not that I'm in favor of political dynasties - but being born into a political family does provide a strong foundation for handling the stresses and strains of leadership.)

More than a year after Anwar's abortive 916 plan to take over the reins of government, the political situation is totally bogged down in sinister intrigue while outrageous shenanigans continue to be perpetrated with impunity by the Umno/BN regime under Mr Pink Lips (right) - the crime minister appointed by 190 Umno division chiefs - and endorsed by the Malay rulers and the Bumoid Kakistocracy aka the Corporate Umnoputra.

A few of my moneyed friends have expressed their reservations about having Anwar Ibrahim as PM. Some parrot Mahathir and Daim Zainuddin's heavy hints about Anwar's cozy ties with key agents of the New World Order cabal and their Zionist banker connections. They're wary of the fact that Anwar is respected by well-known Neocons like Paul Wolfovitz and has access to a global network of influential names in academia and the mass media. Unlike Najib, Anwar Ibrahim doesn't have to pay millions to some Jewish PR agency to have the international media paint a rosy image of him as a leader.

Umno apologists just don't get it. These so-called Zionist plutocrats - men like George Soros (left), the Rothschilds, and the Rockefellers - admire intelligence and statesmanship and, of course, they are constantly trying to recruit new blood into their ranks. If they have indeed been courting Anwar, it simply means they believe Anwar is well worth luring into their inner circles - just as they at one time invited the likes of Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohamad to participate in closed-doors Bilderberg conferences. In the geopolitical arena one has to acknowledge that power has been jealously guarded for countless centuries by a secretive elite via interlocking fraternities like the Freemasons, Knights of Malta, and the Rotarians. The heads of these fraternities are members of even more exclusive and secretive mystical orders with names like the Priory of Sion, Opus Dei, the Bavarian Illuminati, and Ordo Templi Orientis.

Their deadly grip on power appears indomitable and absolute. But that's merely an illusion. Truth is, the cracks have become huge enough for new reality options to hatch from within these occult power centers.

David Mayer de Rothschild (born 25 August 1978), adventurer & environmentalist

As always their own descendants - the children and grandchildren of Evelyn Rothschild and David Rockefeller, for example, will break the family mold and mutate in ways unforeseen. Like a tower struck by lightning, the entire edifice of hereditary power and wealth will quickly crumble as the New World Order manifests as something its original planners would never in a million years have imagined possible.

As a brilliant and charming deputy prime minister cum finance minister, Anwar had apparently attracted the attention of these global powerbrokers. Perhaps he had been emboldened by their tacit support to make his power play against the recalcitrant Mahathir in mid-1997 - which triggered a vindictive and violent reaction from both Daim Zainuddin (right) and Mahathir who represented the vested interests of the Umnoputra elite that had burgeoned during Mahathir's 22-year premiership.

Those who had grown fat in the mid-1980s and early 1990s from Mahathir's largesse were naturally incensed by what they perceived as Anwar Ibrahim's impatience and impertinence. He had to be forcefully put down as an example to other would-be upstarts within the ranks of Umno. This explains the ferocity and sheer viciousness of their attack against Anwar in 1998. [And why they decided to dust off the sodomy script and whack him again with it in June 2008... followed by that dubious "Datuk T" sex video, and when that plot laughably fizzled out, they redoubled their efforts to nail Anwar on Sodomy II... and finally succeeded, by bending the laws out of shape and irreparably tarnishing the name of the Apex Court.]

Reformasi 1998, Indonesia, brought down Suharto

It was nothing less than a political crucifixion. Just as two thousand years ago the entrenched Jewish priesthood and the obese merchants in Palestine were terrified of the master Yeshua's populist message of reform and renewal - the feudal power establishment in Malaysia was severely rattled by the close proximity of the same groundswell of massive rebellion that swept Suharto and his dynasty from power right next door in Indonesia.

Reformasi 1998, Malaysia: Anwar calls for Mahathir's resignation

The Umno old guard isn't quite dead yet. Mahathir still growls as he paces and prowls in growing frustration, watching Umno warlords repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot and dig themselves deeper and deeper into their own graves. Quietly monitoring the political shifts since 8 March 2008 from his invisible vantage point, former finance minister Daim Zainuddin makes hardly a sound - but he has been busy behind the scenes, doing whatever he can and must to thwart Anwar's ambitions to become PM.

As for the Malay rulers, they have been compromised - particularly since the mid-1980s - by their immersion in entrepreneurial pursuits - an unhealthy trend that escalated following Mahathir's usurpation of their traditional authority. Few of them have any head for business, so they are largely dependent on a shadowy cadre of Umnoputra tycoons and the fly-by-night financial adventurers who serve as their advisors and proxies.

This is certainly an untenable and unwholesome situation. The royal houses must decide very soon whether to throw their lot in with the collapsing Umnoputra house of cards - or to discreetly extricate themselves from further involvement in the sordid world of business - a realm where their royal stature is susceptible to being irreversibly tarnished and brought into severe disrepute. They cannot carry on dabbling in business, getting entangled in constant conflicts of interest or risking legal action when their enterprises go bust - and yet expect the public to shut up and keep paying their royal allowances.

I was telling some friends recently that the political atmosphere during the Mahathir Era was horribly stifling, especially after 1986 when his power faced serious challenges. But, strangely, things feel even worse today - not necessarily because Najib is crueler and more ruthless than his cynical puppetmaster - but simply because the Internet can now reveal the full extent of Umno/BN's criminal mismanagement, complete with charts and tables and long lists of figures.


Thanks to the emergence in Cyberspace of loose cannon maverick royals like Raja Petra Kamarudin - whose access to "official secrets" and whose ability to expose and destroy the rogue regime we call Umno/BN (along with all who stubbornly cling to their ill-gotten gains and their obscene privileges) should never be underestimated - those of us who genuinely love this country still have many strategic options apart from migrating.


As RPK has shown by positioning himself out of harm's way and continuing to fire salvo after salvo at political targets of the day, it's futile trying to scare bloggers into silence. You can haul up and question a few - but at what cost to your expensively tailored international image? And for every Malaysian-based blogger who gets intimidated into silence, a hundred outspoken bloggers based abroad will emerge to carry on the information war.

[RPK launched the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement as a "Third Force" when he realized that Anwar Ibrahim had his own way of doing things that didn't always coincide with RPK's strong opinions. These two men are extremely charismatic but very different in temperament. Anwar is a natural-born fiery orator, diplomat and political strategist; while RPK enjoys the role of flamboyant revolutionary and gunslinging political Paladin, six-shooters blazing from both holsters. RPK has never run for political office and maintains a stance independent of BN and PR. However, what troubles me is that RPK maintains an affable, hand-kissing relationship with Dr Mahathir and recently met with Sanusi Junid, who was sent to the UK as Dr M's emissary to persuade RPK to disconnect from Anwar Ibrahim. RM10 million was dangled as a carrot. RPK says he turned it down, even though he was momentarily tempted. Since his shocking U-turn at the beginning of 2010 when he agreed to be interviewed by TV3, publicly withdrawing his lethal insinuations against Rosmah and Najib, his former admirers have largely agreed that RPK has now become just another hired gun.]

One of the perks of amassing a vast fortune is to be admired and applauded wherever you go. However, if your reputation sinks to the level of infamous rogues like Robert Mugabe, Augusto Pinochet, Ferdinand Marcos, Slobodan Milošević, General Than Shwe, Kim Jong-Il, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney... you'd probably be wishing you could have been half as talented as Michael Jackson instead... or twice as dead.

[First posted 12 November 2009]