Saturday, October 12, 2019

Are humans a laboratory experiment gone wrong? Join the Monster March!

An ode to the most insidious monster in history.

Track Produced by Julez, taken from the album Julez available at

filmed by Peter Haren at Magick River, while a guest of superhero, Antares, near KKB, Malaysia.

[First posted 9 January 2011]

Friday, October 11, 2019

16 MERDEKAS DOWN THE LINE... (revisited)

These MERDEKA MUSINGS were first sent out as an email on 31 August 2003. They were subsequently published on this blog on 3 February 2007. As I haven't had the inspiration to write anything new, I'm recycling this essay. Interestingly, I only had to update three things: the age of Malaysia as an "independent" nation was altered from 44 to 56, and I inserted something about maid abuse and custodial deaths...

HERE WE ARE, a 56-year-old nation in mid-life crisis but vehemently denying there’s anything the matter with us. It’s that kiasu neighboring country or those jealous jew-funded westerners – THEY are to blame for all our economic woes!

What about the rising rate of petty thefts, armed robberies, brutal rapes, senseless murders, abuse of domestic help and deaths in police custody? Is that an inevitable by-product of “progress”? Or is it simply due to a gross imbalance in per capita incomes resulting from a rigged and uneven fiscal playing field – coupled with a hypocritical attitude towards our affection-craving animal selves, wherein public puritanism increases in direct proportion to private perversion?

Human rights and environmental abuses? The goddam Yanks are the prime culprits – well, actually they ARE, look at their secret mind control projects and the havoc they have been wreaking all over the world in the name of “freedom” - but this essay is about US, not the U.S., even if our flags look pretty alike.

And, besides, the U.S. is only a strong-arm front for the ancient Babylonian Brotherhood which has, over thousands of years, quietly opened branches throughout the globe and is thus the prime mover of the One-World-Order “globalization” agenda (read The Biggest Secret by David Icke; you may be put off by Icke’s tabloid-style muckraking, but the muck is there for sure and we ignore it at our own peril).


I used to get hot under the collar hearing about rampant crony capitalism and the high-level corruption it invariably breeds. Not any more. The corporate crime that works hand-in-glove with institutionalized religion and big military seems endemic to this planet, not just this country. Scandals on the scale of Enron and put our own homegrown ones to shame. I used to think we were living in a dictatorship, an authoritarian police state. Well, compared to what’s going on in America – especially since John F. Kennedy was assassinated and a cloak-and-dagger cabal muscled its way into the White House - we’re practically a Polynesian paradise.

We can no longer take comfort in the notion that we’re not as poorly off politically as folks in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, or Myanmar – nor can we aspire towards the degree of civil liberties and administrative accountability we naïvely believed were to be found in mature “democracies” like Britain, the US, Australia, Canada or New Zealand. Indeed, we no longer have any authentic rôle models, no one to emulate. It’s time to grow up and cultivate our own true identity as Malaysians, and quit wanting to be just like anybody else.


Just what constitutes “a “global” Malaysian? RM5 billion buildings, RM500,000 cars, RM5,000 suits, and RM50 haircuts are hardly the hallmarks of success – contrary to what local policymakers may think. Five million flags waving from shophouses, cars, and in sweaty schoolkids’ hands are not the true signs of patriotism – even if it all looks mighty festive. It’s all a mere display – and everyone knows it.

But in a culture that’s founded on face-saving, cosmetic appearances are all-important. Even if you can’t afford it, you have to entertain your guests with a lavish wedding dinner at a 5-star hotel. So many people buying and flying the Jalur Gemilang (“Brilliant Stripes” - that’s what we call the Malaysian flag) must mean people are quite happy with the ruling party, right?

I’ve spotted vans with as many as ten flags fluttering from their roofs. Recently I saw a teenaged boy on a BMX with a full-sized Jalur Gemilang affixed to his tiny bike. It was an amusing sight indeed – but I couldn’t help thinking the kid would be equally proud flying the KFC, Nike, Manchester United, Hand Brand Groundnuts or Selangor Football Club insignia.

Amongst shopkeepers it would appear that displaying the Malaysian flag in the weeks leading up to Merdeka serves as some sort of talisman against bad luck (in the form of possible harassment by overzealous local council personnel - such as we seem to have within the Ampang or Subang Jaya Municipal Councils). In other words, not making a public show of “patriotism” may prove inimical to one’s business prospects.

Alas, being a patriot isn’t quite the same thing as showing loyalty to the elected government of the day – but the lines are often blurred, and deliberately so.

From my perspective, pride in our country is best shown in simple gestures like making an effort to keep our streets and drains and parks and forests and beaches garbage-free. Or being vocal about polluting industries and corrupt practices in public office. Or being proud of and sustaining our reputation for hospitality, generosity and warmth towards guests and passing strangers. For that matter, why not let charitability begin at home by being more polite, patient, understanding – and honest - with our own compatriots? Why wait for a major disaster to show the spirit of camaraderie?

My first and only visit to Burma was in 1984 – but I still recall how impressed I was by the honesty of the people I met. For example, the donkey-cart driver who ran after me, anxious to return the wallet I had dropped in his vehicle. Or the smooth-talking street hustler who wanted to buy a pair of jeans from me with a US$100 bill; and when I apologized for not having enough change, quietly advised me never to accept US$100 currency notes from the locals as they were all counterfeit (“You good man, I don’t cheat you, but Israeli, ha ha ha!” he added, which was perhaps the nicest compliment I received in Burma).

I believe the only way we will ever acquire a “true identity” as a nation is by simply allowing – if not actively encouraging – spontaneous cultural expression without attempting to control it with antiquated censorship laws and heavy-handed bureaucratic supervision. Being multiracial and multilingual is a genuine asset – not a liability as some are moved by fear and insecurity to think.

No one can dictate the terms and conditions of artistic flowering. One need only sit back, relax, and let it all happen. Of course, channeling sufficient funds towards supporting homegrown arts practitioners would greatly ease and accelerate the process. But this needs to be done with no overt or covert ethnocentric agenda. Otherwise, the culture we breed will turn out to be sycophantic, insular and syphilitic. And that would be far worse than having no culture at all – and therefore no national identity. Unassuming anonymity is a great deal more appealing – and a lot less self-destructive - than overweening pride and self-proclaimed fame.

[First posted 3 February 2007, reposted 20 August 2009. Cartoon courtesy of Lato' Lat]

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Log on, folks - and prepare for more floods! (revisited)

A Statement In The Public Interest (written 16 years ago... and still relevant)

JUNE 10, 2003 – Yet another serious flood in KL, rescuers in dinghies paddling down Jalan Masjid Jamek in the heart of the city. Plaza Putra aswirl in chest-high muddy waters. Dozens of cars and motorbikes drowned. Actors Studio and Dama House wiped out within minutes...

A terrible shame, as floods have been recurring with increasing fury since the early 1970s – long before the proliferation of underground carparks and basement complexes made the potential hazard to life and property truly grievous. And yet, with all the talk of multi-million-ringgit flood mitigation schemes (mainly getting City Hall to keep drains and rivers free of garbage and silt), the situation keeps deteriorating.

I wasn’t particularly impressed when I read the government’s immediate response: the suggestion that “smart tunnels” be constructed to drain floodwaters directly to the sea – an extremely expensive business indeed, with the potential of wreaking further havoc on our coastal ecosystem and perhaps even causing giant sinkholes. Now, the PM may be extraordinarily brilliant as a political strategist but when it comes to environmental problems, he instinctively avoids looking at the root causes and seeking authentic solutions.

Our obsession with economic growth and physical development – and our utter lack of respect for Nature’s workings – lie at the core of our worsening environmental woes.

So much rain falling and instantly turning into flash floods means only two things: the forest canopy has been thinned out through logging, so there’s nothing to soften the impact of heavy rains on hillslopes. Not enough trees to act as a sponge, slowing down the speed and volume of drainage. And the rainwater cannot run off into the ground because so many areas have been paved over in the overnight growth of our big cities.

It has never been more obvious that logging must be abolished with almost immediate effect. There is no such thing as “sustainable” when it comes to destruction of watersheds. It simply has got to stop. True, many jobs hinge around the timber industry – and many private fortunes too. But one may as well argue that the slave trade promotes the GDP and should therefore be licensed and allowed to continue indefinitely.

Indeed, logging is by far a more heinous crime than even the slave trade, which may inflict psychological trauma on its victims, but nothing a dose of freedom won't heal. A despoiled landscape, however, may never fully heal and the environmental consequences impact on everyone – especially future generations.

By now it must a dim wit indeed who doesn't see the direct link between reckless deforestation and the deteriorating environment – whether in terms of massive erosion which leads to rapid silting, hence increased flooding; or deadly landslides caused by human disrespect towards 550 million-year-old hills. And, of course, with patches of green lungs decreasing by the hour, the air itself progressively becomes unbreathable and a perpetual source of respiratory disorders.

I see at least half a dozen lorries laden with logs trundling along the roads every single day. In the middle of the lush Ulu Yam-Sungai Tua forest reserve – now a well-visited recreational area every weekend – loggers have been hard at work. Around the once-verdant foothills near Kuala Kubu Bharu, logging proceeds with impunity. The Forestry Department seems to have learned nothing about conservation since the 1960s when ecological studies began pouring in, showing the hazardous ill-effects of profit-driven logging, especially in watersheds and hillslopes.

Most of the hills surrounding the Klang Valley have long been shorn of their green canopy – hence the dramatic changes in rainfall patterns over the last two decades.

Perhaps a handful of timber tycoons (and the officials on their unofficial payroll) have made a pretty pile – but in the long run the public must bear the high cost of replacing bridges, repairing roads, desilting canals, dams and rivers, not to mention the immeasurable damage to property and the disruption of business caused by worsening flash floods.

For every 10 million ringgit earned by logging concessionaires, the long-term cost to the public purse may well be in the region of 100 million. Measured in macro-economic terms, logging is no longer a viable “economic activity” - simply because we cannot afford its costly negative consequences.

Rather than spend money on stop-gap flood mitigation measures, we have to bite the bullet and stop wreaking irreparable ruin on our precious forests and the few remaining green lungs in our towns and cities. Indeed, we need to work out a systematic and sustained campaign to heal our badly scarred landscape – by planting flowering shrubs and fruit trees on every denuded hill, so that within a few years, even though we have lost our forests, at least the hills will once again be cool, fresh sanctuaries, serving as filters for airborne pollutants and self-renewing sources of oxygen.

Most importantly, they would no longer contribute to the tons of mud that cascade down with every heavy downpour. Now, such a move would constitute what I would define as visionary leadership.

What happens when wood is no longer a cheap and freely available commodity? Well, here's where the innovative use of alternative materials can spawn a whole new generation of industries. For a start, we might consider ways to recycle PVC waste and combine it with organic fibers to produce weatherproof planks. Hemp grows like a weed and can be used in countless ways – from pulp products to fiberboards, fabrics and cosmetics.

The incredible versatility of hemp 

My fervent hope is that within the next few years, the only way we can possibly log on is to the Internet. This would give those involved in the timber industry sufficient time to diversify and seek less dangerous and destructive means of livelihood. Meanwhile, an extremely strict watch must be placed on those responsible for issuing logging permits.

[Originally posted 13 June 2003. Reposted 3 April 2010]

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Pranav Mistry and his SixthSense Device: Humanizing the digital-analog interface

This brilliant young man from India is currently developing his breakthrough ideas at MIT Media Lab and he's ready to make his astounding discoveries available to the world through an open-source platform, thereby bypassing narrow commercial interests. Ladies and gentleman, meet a bona fide wunderkind supergenius whizkid named Pranav Mistry...

[Brought to my attention by SeniorsAloud; first posted 18 January 2010]

Navigational Tips For Turbulent Times (reprise)

Be agile and sure-footed. It's really all about self-confidence. Overcome your fear of heights; you just might succeed beyond your wildest expectations!

Be resourceful and expect some occasional rain. Don't let wet weather dampen your spirits. The sun will soon shine again.

Smile, grin and laugh a lot. Doing so alters your biochemical balance and enhances your physical and mental health.

[Images lifted from a forwarded email, first posted 28 January 2010]