Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The "Security" Charade ~ by Robert Bowman (repost)

Robert Bowman flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam.
He was bishop of the United Catholic Church in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

If deceptions about terrorism go unchallenged, then the threat will continue until it destroys us.

The truth is that none of our thousands of nuclear weapons can protect us from these threats. No Star Wars system no matter how technically advanced, no matter how many trillions of dollars are poured into it, can protect us from a nuclear weapon delivered in a sailboat or a Cessna or a suitcase or a Ryder rental truck. Not one weapon in our vast arsenal, not a penny of the $270 billion a year we spend on so-called defense can defend against a terrorist bomb. That is a military fact. 

As a retired lieutenant colonel and a frequent lecturer on national security issues, I have often quoted Psalm 33: "A king is not saved by his mighty army. A warrior is not saved by his great strength." The obvious reaction is, "Then what can we do?" Is there nothing we can do to provide security for our people?" 

There is. But to understand it requires that we know the truth about the threat. President Clinton did not tell the American people the truth about why we are the targets of terrorism when he explained why we bombed Afghanistan and Sudan. He said that we are a target because we stand for democracy, freedom, and human rights in the world. Nonsense! 

We are the target of terrorists because, in much of the world, our government stands for dictatorship, bondage, and human exploitation. We are the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because our government has done hateful things. 

In how many countries have agents of our government deposed popularly elected leaders and replaced them with puppet military dictators who were willing to sell out their own people to American multinational corporations? 

We did it in Iran when the US Marines and the CIA deposed Mossadegh because he wanted to nationalize the oil industry. We replaced him with the Shah and armed, trained, and paid his hated Savak National Guard, which enslaved and brutalized the people of Iran, all to protect the financial interests of our oil companies. Is it any wonder that there are people in Iran who hate us? 

We did it in Chile. We did it in Vietnam. More recently, we tried to do it in Iraq. And, of course, how many times have we done it in Nicaragua and all the other banana republics of Latin America? Time after time we have ousted popular leaders who wanted the riches of the land to be shared by the people who worked it. We replaced them with murderous tyrants who would sell out their own people so the wealth of the land could be taken out by the likes of Domino Sugar, Folgers, and Chiquita Banana. 

In country after country, our government has thwarted democracy, stifled freedom, and trampled human rights. That's why it is hated around the world. And that's why we're the target of terrorists. 

People in Canada enjoy democracy, freedom, and human rights. So do the people of Norway and Sweden. Have you heard of Canadian embassies being bombed? Or Norwegian, or Swedish? 

We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism and in the future, nuclear terrorism. 

Once the truth about why the threat exists is understood, the solution becomes obvious. We must change our ways. Getting rid of our nuclear weapons unilaterally if necessary will enhance our security. Drastically altering our foreign policy will ensure it.

Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so we can have the oil under their sand, we should send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children. Instead of continuing to kill hundreds of Iraqi children every day with our sanctions, we should help Iraqis rebuild their electric power plants, their water treatment facilities, their hospitals, and all the things we have destroyed and prevented them from rebuilding. 

Instead of training terrorists and death squads, we should close the School of the Americas [Ft. Benning, GA.]. Instead of supporting insurrection, destabilization, assassination, and terror around the world, we should abolish the CIA and give money to relief agencies.

In short, we should do good instead of evil. Who would try to stop us? Who would hate us? Who would want to bomb us? That is the truth the American people need to hear.

[Originally published in The National Catholic Reporter, 2 October 1998. First posted 29 November 2016]

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The real change is happening quietly, inwardly, unreported and unnoticed... (repost)

Adversarial politics, as practised in Malaysia, is every bit as polluting as the worst kinds of industries. The toxicity, in this instance, is mainly psychic, and results in clouding up the real issues.

On the second day of 2012, Raja Petra Kamarudin let off a loud and extremely smelly fart in the face of Pakatan Rakyat by declaring Anwar Ibrahim "morally unfit" to become Malaysia's 7th prime minister. The fact that RPK chose to do so via the Umno-owned media, a few days ahead of the January 9th sodomy trial judgement reveals that his intent was to inflict maximum damage on Anwar.

What has transpired between these erstwhile political allies to sour their relationship is unknown to me and, no doubt, will be the subject of much speculation. In 1998 when Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy prime minister and finance minister and viciously booted out of Umno, RPK rose to his defence by inaugurating the online Free Anwar Campaign. Either RPK didn't buy the malicious gossip that Anwar is bisexual - or it didn't really matter to him then.

Well known to be a maverick and loose cannon, RPK isn't someone who can join any club without ultimately coveting the position of supremo. He has an ego that matches his mercurial intelligence - and his immense popularity in the period leading up to and after GE12 was largely due to the sheer audacity of his "No Holds Barred" column in Malaysia Today.

Soon after RPK went into self-exile to avoid another stint in Kamunting, he collaborated with Pakatan Rakyat leaders to forge a united front against Umno/BN. However, disagreements in strategy must have arisen, leading to the formation of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) supported by concerned citizens who didn't necessarily wish to be embroiled in partisan politics but were convinced that the primary goal was to remove Umno/BN from power.

AS MCLM started gaining credibility and clout, RPK began criticizing Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat over what he perceived as their weaknesses and shortcomings. He made it clear that his own mission to restore good governance and justice in Malaysia was above party politics - and, as such, it was his duty to "whack" politicians on both sides of the BN/PR divide whenever they got out of line. Fair enough, and those of us who admired RPK's guts and brilliant mind were happy to endorse MCLM's public outreach activities.

However, just before the Sarawak elections, RPK stunned the nation by agreeing to be interviewed in Australia by TV3. The gist of his revelations was that he had been misled and left in the lurch by a conspiracy to thwart Najib Razak's rise to power and replace him with Tengku Razaleigh as interim prime minister. The edited interview focused on RPK's declaration that he had no evidence of Rosmah Mansor's involvement with Altantuya's gruesome execution - and that he had accepted on good faith the testimony of one Colonel Azmi Zainal Abidin, a military intelligence officer. RPK added that the military intelligence report he had been shown no longer existed.

The timing of RPK's TV3 interview created shockwaves amongst his fans and many turned against him, convinced that he had finally succumbed to temptation and reneged on his own principles. After a few months, the antagonism subsided but avid followers of Malaysia Today had grown a little wary of RPK's volatile temperament.

With his latest move, conspiring with the utterly despised Utusan Malaysia and New Straits Times to dismiss Anwar Ibrahim's candidacy as prime minister, RPK has lost even more admirers - perhaps permanently this time.

RPK, of course, is entitled to his views on what constitutes moral fitness for the nation's highest post. He says it's possible that Anwar Ibrahim may be bisexual; that he's "90% convinced" Anwar is the main actor in the sleazy video produced by the infamous "Datuk T" trio. Nothing anyone in Umno/BN hasn't already loudly proclaimed through the mainstream media as an indictment of Anwar Ibrahim's "immoral" tendencies.

Amidst the myriad moral lapses that tend to characterize public figures, we need to draw clear distinctions as to which ones we must view seriously and which ones we can afford to overlook.

Putting your hand on somebody's lap and putting your hand in the till may be regarded as moral lapses - but each act has entirely different consequences. If I put my hand on your lap and you find it pleasurable, we'll soon be having a bit of grownup fun, at nobody's expense. However, by stealing from the public coffers, my act can be classified criminal and it will eventually impoverish the entire nation.

In a social climate supercharged with false piety and genuine hypocrisy, it may be a sign of moral weakness on my part to deny that I have enjoyed extramarital affairs or smoked a bit of weed or had a couple of beers with my chums or watched some porn.

But to allow crooks to infiltrate the judiciary and law enforcement agencies just to prop up my personal power is most certainly not an act of moral strength. And to say and do absolutely nothing as my uniformed goons beat people to death in custody and throw them out of highrise windows goes beyond moral weakness - it's abominably evil.

The endless catalog of crimes committed under the watch of every Umno prime minister since Hussein Onn needs no elucidation. Most Malaysians with access to the Internet acknowledge that many abominable evils became the norm during Mahathir's 22-year tenure - and that Najib's power rides upon the endemic corruption and moral degeneracy he inherited as the current Umno president and crime minister.

To my mind, if a new Pakatan Rakyat federal government led by Anwar Ibrahim can abolish once-and-for-all the oppressive laws that keep citizens docile, submissive and afraid of their own shadows, then I will lend their ascendancy to power my wholehearted support.

I wish to see a new attitude of dedicated service amongst elected representatives of the people - ministers who do not glorify themselves by arriving an hour late with police outriders just to officiate at public events; who totally understand that they are paid good wages to attend to problem-solving and the smooth administration of essential public utilities and social services - not to hog the limelight or rouse the rabble to racist hysteria.

If a Pakatan Rakyat government can oversee the outright abolition or massive overhaul of our dysfunctional public institutions - starting with PDRM and the judiciary; encourage the healthy growth of participatory democracy and ensure freedom of thought and expression; set a shining example to all citizens and motivate them to greater aspirations, instead of making them cynical and apathetic, then it's absolutely no concern of mine whether members of the cabinet are transsexual, bisexual, trisexual, metrosexual or pansexual. I might feel a tad anxious if one of them was exposed as asexual - simply because I find asexual people a bit creepy.

I would consider anyone morally unfit to be a leader if he or she is a congenital liar with a penchant for excessive luxury and self-aggrandizement - and is prepared to murder anyone who stands in the way of their grotesque ambition.

As far as I know, Anwar Ibrahim has never ordered any of his political rivals to be tortured by psychopathic goons, poisoned, bludgeoned to death, shot in the head, or blown to smithereens with military grade explosives.

The only reservation I have about Anwar's political ideology is that he doesn't seem to share my profound respect for Mother Nature and continues to regard logging and mining as legitimate industries. When he becomes PM, I shall have to convince him that a deep understanding of ecology is far more important than the stupid economy.

RPK, whom I continue to respect and love as a brother and friend, even though we may be diametrically opposed in specific instances - and to whom I will always be grateful for his magnificent role as a powerful galvanizer of political awareness - may have decided that Anwar Ibrahim is "morally unfit" to be appointed our 7th prime minister. He has every right to his personal opinion.*

My personal opinion is that we will never know if Anwar Ibrahim will make a great prime minister until we have given him at least 5 years to lead the nation to a more glorious and noble destiny. At this juncture, Anwar remains the most qualified candidate - and perhaps the only political icon with sufficient charisma and influence to win over enough hearts and minds and reunify this divided nation.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that I have been meeting a growing number of mentally and spiritually awakened young people who are more than capable of thinking for themselves and knowing when to put an end to systems that no longer work, because they have been abused for far too long by those who are truly morally unfit to lead.

*[Editor's Note: since January 2012 when this essay was written, much has changed in the political landscape, In recent years RPK has not only come out in open support of Najib and Rosmah's rogue regime, he has also revealed that he wholeheartedly subscribes to Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) - which means that all his past pronouncements about social justice and democratic principles were a mere pretence. I find it no longer possible to describe RPK as "a brother and friend." Indeed, just hearing his name mentioned evinces utter revulsion and a deep sadness in my heart.]

First posted 3 January 2012. Reposted 8 March 2018]

Wednesday, November 23, 2022


I see a large crack and it's rapidly widening...

This is how hardcore Umno members view themselves - as irresistibly sexy. Or maybe they prefer operating through the backdoor rather than upfront, and that's why accusations of sodomy have become their chief weapon against political rivals. Umno really ought to be renamed Bumno.

Never attempt to hump a camel, unless you're accustomed to kickbacks.

Uh-oh... Big Shot do Big Shit! Stand back!

What a mess! If you're one of those anjing menyalak di pantat gajah (dogs barking behind an elephant)... put on your wet suit and dive right in!

Looks appetizing but is that roast rump... or grilled pachyderm turd?
The menu describes this as "barbecued rump of lamb with savory sauce"- but it looks more like the end result of 52 years of Ketuanan Melayu! "A deepening divide is becoming apparent between reformists energized by Anwar Ibrahim's recent return to parliament and the recalcitrant rump of a fading regime." - Richard Kraince (professor of Southeast Asian Humanities at The College of Mexico)

[First posted 20 November 2008]

Friday, November 18, 2022

Malaysia's 10th prime minister (updated & revised)

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. Alas, the Deep State decided otherwise and Anwar was effectively neutralized and bypassed for a succession of hereditary kleptocrats.

Sixth... seventh... eighth... ninth... tenth... 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, Nasharudin 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 (and again, ten years later, with Najib's Sodomy II).

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 genteel, softspoken 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 Israeli-owned 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, P2, the Bavarian Illuminati, Skull and Bones,  and Ordo Templi Orientis. Many today label these esoteric elite powerbrokers as the Khazarian Mafia, NWO Globalists, Eugenicists, Transhumanists, Pedophiles Anonymous or even Satanists.

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 and Mahathir who represented the vested interests of the Umnoputra elite that had burgeoned during Mahathir's 22-year premiership.

Daim "Don Corleone" Zainuddin
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.]

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.

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, shooting his mouth off on behalf of the highest bidder.]

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, Najib Razak, Donald RumsfeldDick Cheney, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden... 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, reposted 28 September 2015 & again with revisions on 14 September 2019]

Saturday, November 12, 2022


“Kit Fong, pay attention!”


“Kit Fong, you’re late again!”


Was it the insidious cultural influence of having been born in the days of the Empire when names like Archibald, Horatio and Montgomery sounded easier on the ear than Ching Chong, King Kong or Ping Pong?

Whatever the cause, the effect was psychologically debilitating. I secretly dropped the Fong. In my mind I was Kit Lee. I had no problem with the name “Kit” which means “outstanding hero” in Chinese [傑]. That I could relate to. But the way the “Fong” was written suggested “fragrant” rather than “magnanimous” – and the idea of being a “fragrant hero” sounded namby-pamby and sissy. At eight I was understandably defensive of my masculinity.

It took about 12 years to grow my third ‘E’ – but we’ll discuss that later.

Meanwhile, having been impressed by Christopher Lee’s performance as Count Dracula and as an Egyptian priest in The Mummy, I was thrilled to learn that “Kit” was also the pet form of “Christopher” – which entitled me to see myself as a hologram aspect of that highly distinguished horror-film actor.

Of course, nobody had heard of holograms yet. But already I had a vivid sense of the micro-macro, “as above, so below” fractal universe that constitutes the cosmic context of our beings.

Soon enough, I dropped the “Christopher Lee” nonsense. Anyway, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable with the meaning of “Christopher” – bearer of the Christ child (at the time I had no idea what "Christ" actually meant, thought it was a cuss word).

Then I came across a book on numerology and spent weeks working out the values and attributes of everybody’s name I could think of. I decided that my name vibration had to correspond with the mystical 7, and the easiest way to manage that without radically altering my given name was to attach an extra ‘E’ to the Lee.

Furthermore, “Kit Leee” added up to a 7 numerologically as well as typographically. And so the long tedious task began of persuading people to accept my third ‘E.’

At the same time I started feeling uneasy about wearing a name that could identify me with any specific ethnic group on this planet. I didn’t feel particularly Chinese, since the language was no less exotic to me than Greek or Hebrew or Serbo-Croatian. My only acquaintance with Chinese philosophy, primarily Taoist, was filtered through the minds of westerners like Alan Watts, Richard Wilhelm and Carl Jung.

Was I a cultural banana, yellow outside and white inside? Appealing as that metaphor sounded, I sought the broadest human perspective rather than wave flags, shake rattles and shout slogans proclaiming my loyalty to any football club or genetic lineage.

I toyed around with anagrams and read everything backwards. Having stumbled upon the Latin word “resurgam” and discovering that its meaning resonated with my own obsession with resurgence or resurrection, I playfully began to call myself Magruser Eeel or M. Eeel for short (inspired partly by an obscure French musician named M. Frog and partly by an inexplicable fascination with the name “Melchizedek” which contains three ‘E’s, an ‘L’ and an ‘M’).

Magruser, apart from being Resurgam spelt backwards, had the dubious benefit of sounding vaguely Scottish. As a teenager I’d had recurring reincarnational dreams of being a drummer boy at the head of a kilt-wearing highland regiment. These dreams invariably ended with my getting a musket ball in my belly, collapsing on the meadow, and feeling my spirit evaporate into a cloudless blue sky.

Then I found out that “Tricky Dick” Nixon had a White House staffer named Jeb Magruder (pictured right) – which kind of soured the name “Magruser” for me. I finally realized nobody could take a name like Magruser Eeel seriously, though I must admit it bears a certain spiritual kinship with Forrest Gump.

Now this probably comes across as the eccentric preoccupations of a totally self-absorbed young person. Indeed I was in danger of becoming a solipsist – someone who believes that “all real entities are modifications and states of the self.” In other words, a victim of “artistic egoism” for whom the universe exists only as a private playground. After all, I was very much an adherent of the Socratic dictum: “Know thyself.” And how else does one go about “knowing” oneself if not through experimenting with the process of naming and renaming?

The act of naming underlies all epistemological workings. Epistemology is just a fancy word for studying the basis of knowledge. For instance: by describing a person as “hero” or “villain” or “astronaut” or “junkie,” we are in effect defining how others will perceive or receive him or her. A “very determined” chap is worthy of public admiration; however, a “mulishly obstinate” fellow tends to elicit sighs of psychic fatigue from those around him. It’s the classic case of having to choose between a cup half-empty or half-full.

At any rate “Kit Leee” gradually got accepted because people kept seeing it in print over a period of years when I was active in theater, music and journalism. Most people were addressing letters to “Kit Leee” – except my mother, who found it hard to acknowledge the validity of my surname “Leee.” Finally I had my first book published – and when she saw my name in all its glory on the cover, she capitulated.

How did my father feel about it?

I explained to him that the Lee clan consisted of hundreds of thousands of individuals who weren’t remotely related – including a whole bunch of Lees that weren’t even Chinese. By becoming a Leee I was merely extending the line and marking a departure from tradition. My father took it quietly without argument. He has never been prone to intellectual discourse, being a practical man who prefers to deal with the nuts-and-bolts of existence. As far as he was concerned, I would always be his son, no matter what I called myself.

I began making enquiries about officially changing my name to Kit Leee. Lawyers informed me the deed poll process was fairly complicated and costly – AND the rub was, Malaysian laws require that one’s birthname be retained on the identity card as an alias. No way. I didn’t want to sound like a gangster: Yong Tow Foo @ Ah Foo @ Fooyong Hai @ Towfoo Pok.

This is bullshit, I thought. Surely we have the right to choose whatever form of identification feels comfortable to us. How dare the State try to keep our personalities from evolving!

At the bank I was unable to get an ATM card issued with the name Kit Leee. “Kit Lee” was permitted but “Kit Leee” tak boleh. My very sensible argument that, in terms of security, “Leee” was far more effective than “Lee” – because I was probably the only one on Earth with such a surname – was answered by blank looks and firm shakes of the head. Not even a smile.

Later I was delighted to learn I wasn’t the only Leee on Earth. While reading a biography of David Bowie, the ultimate chameleon of pop iconology, I came across the name Leee Black Childers, who was at one time executive vice-president of Bowie’s MainMan label. Aha! There are at least two of us, I thought, elated. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there are actually THREE of us, including Leee John, the soul singer (left).

So… why couldn’t I leave well enough alone?

Why did I have to embark on a whole new campaign to persuade people to address me as ANTARES? What on earth does “Antares” mean, anyway? Is it Greek? Spanish? Sanskrit? Did I find it in a book? Who gave it to me? Anyway, who gives a fuck…

I’m by no means the only one who has periodically felt the compulsion to alter the course of my destiny by changing my name.

Amunhotep IV turned his reign into a far-reaching navigational beacon by becoming Pharaoh Akhnaton. Samuel Langhorne Clemens achieved literary immortality as Mark Twain, in the same way that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a quiet mathematician, insinuated his imaginative genius into the public realm by posing as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Marion Morrison fared much better as John Wayne; and Robert Allen Zimmerman may well have remained a gas-pump attendant in Hibbings, Minnesota, had he not decided to strike out for New York and seek his fortune as Bob Dylan. What about Issur Danielovitch? Even Michael Douglas would have had difficulty spelling his famous father Kirk’s birthname!

Andy Warhol would probably not have bothered creating iconographic posters of Norma Jean Mortenson had she not agreed to be billed as Marilyn Monroe. Would you be as interested in Luisa Ciccone’s sex life as you might be in Madonna’s? Do you think somebody born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta can possibly make it in show business - unless she has the gumption to change her name to something catchy like Lady Gaga?

How about Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Puteh? Teuku who? You mean P. Ramlee (left) – the chap who successfully integrated Indian (Ram), Chinese (Lee) and Orang Puteh (P) elements into his own embodiment of the post-colonial Malay artistic genius? And if Prince Siddhartha hadn’t undergone his vision quest and transformed himself into Gautama Buddha, our spiritual legacy would have certainly been far poorer.

It isn’t only individuals with exaggerated ego insecurities who habitually drop names. Entire countries have been known to do it too. In 1939 Thailand dropped its ancient moniker of Siam, perhaps in protest against that Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, The King and I. Myanmar lost no time shedding its Burma tag when SLORC oozed into power. The USSR was dropped for CIS or Gorby-knows-what in 1991. Yugoslavia is now referred to as “the former Yugoslavia” or “the Balkan States” (though the area remains a hopeless mess of hostile ethnicities). Then Czechoslovakia dropped its name - and the country broke in two.

Bangladesh was once… does anyone recall? And we’ll not mention the African nations at all except to note that names there have been dropped so feverishly the mapmakers can’t keep up. This name-dropping malaise caused Malaysia to lose its Malaya (which means “hills” in Tamil and “freedom” in Tagalog).

But coming back to this ANTARES business: it wasn’t an easy decision, I’ll have you know that. Especially since years of effort had already been invested in establishing a third-E trademark for my work as that weird “Kit Leee” personality. And to now go through the exercise of dropping yet another name felt like a petty exercise in triviality, with no relevance to the larger issues of existence.

Yet I believe it had to be done. I can provide an absolutely sound rationale for my idiosyncratic proclivity to drop names that no longer serve. Let’s put it this way: whether you describe yourself as a Batu Arangite, a Penangite, a Muarian, a Kampung Buayanese, a Malaysian, an Asian, an Earthian, a Milky Wayfarer, or simply as I AM THAT I AM pretty much determines the parameters of your thoughts and deeds. A caterpillar can’t easily proceed to butterflyhood if it insists on and persists in calling itself a grub.

Names carry very specific vibrations. Notice how Americans prefer the informality of being called Bob instead of Robert, Jack instead of John, Ted instead of Theodore, Dick instead of Richard; whereas Canadians and Brits generally prefer that you address them by their “proper” names. Notice, too, how dignitaries tend to be extremely offended should one omit their lengthy titular appendages in official correspondence.

Imagine how peeved the Germans initially felt when American advertising wizards suggested they call their Volkswagen the Beetle… or, even worse, the Bug. Well, the admen’s advice was perfect for the freewheeling zeitgeist of the booming postwar automobile market. Even a pop music combo named after this particular insect proved phenomenally successful! I wonder if I might sell more CDs if I renamed myself "Nyamok" ("mosquito" in Malay)...

Recently I met a couple of women who introduced themselves to me as Chong, their family name. Chong & Chong. Tan & Tan. Cheech & Chong. Johnson & Johnson. Fraser & Neave. Fang & Claw. Proctor & Gamble. Hem & Haw. Bumwiggle & Himmelfucker. Long live the Lees! Down with the Leighs! You’re a disgrace to the D’Cruz name! Such blind loyalty to the clan trademark is incomprehensible to me. It suggests that one has only one essential function, that is, to propagate one’s bloodline.

Some say God has 9,000 names (or is it 999,000?). Maybe his favorite pastime is name-dropping too? With his nearly infinite hoard of names, God could well be the biggest Name-Dropper of all time. Hi, how’s it going, Al?

Let me assure you, the name “Antares” perfectly describes my present function in the human as well as the cosmological context. “Antares” came to me during a star-alignment ritual – a meditation on connecting vertically with the stellar realms, rather than just horizontally with mundane aspirations. Subsequently I did a little research and found that Antares is a binary stargate located in the heart of the Scorpio constellation, visible as the brightest star in the southern skies. In Greek the name means “counterforce to Mars” (Anti-Ares). Mars or Ares is the symbol of War or Division; it is also the symbol of the Masculine Force. Mars rules the field in battle as a sword, in farming as a plowshare, in medicine as a scalpel. So the counterforce to Mars would be Love, Venus, the Feminine Force, the Goddess Principle, the harmonizer, integrator and unifier. Which is exactly how I perceive my contribution to the greater community and the universe. No longer the combative hero, the David who vanquishes Goliath with a well-aimed slingshot – but as the reconciliator, the interlink between divergent realities and values.

Remarkably the word antara in Sanskrit means “connection” – and in Malay it is used as the preposition “between” as in antarabangsa (international). Indonesia’s national news agency is called Antara. Deeper research indicates that antara is related to antahkarana – the rainbow bridge linking heaven to earth, celestial to terrestrial experience, the transpersonal to the personal.

I like that. I’m tired of being regarded as the renegade, the bad boy, the enfant terrible, the critic, the dissident. I would much rather be viewed as the Zone of Overlap between Spirit and Matter, between the sublime and the ridiculous. The traditional antagonism between polar opposites can be transmuted by a focused, intentional act of renaming. No need for US versus THEM. Inevitably it's US plus THEM equals WE. Today’s “working class” becomes tomorrow’s “ruling elite” and vice versa.

The Wheel of Fortune or Karma or Dynamic Evolution forever spins. Behind, beyond and above the din of cash registers and children’s excited squeals, and the loud laments of parents whose pockets have just been picked, one can hear the spontaneous cackle of the Trickster, Hermes or Thoth, the Cosmic Clown – who laughs not so much in cruelty but in the playful spirit of one who has known joy and sorrow and no longer plays the game of Snakes and Ladders. It is the lighthearted laughter of one who suddenly notices the projector beam and remembers he’s at the cinema watching the latest box-office spectacular… phew, no need to crap your pants, folks! It’s called “special effects” – but, boy, is it scary!

So call me Antares. If it’s a formal encounter, you may include my ceremonial titles of Avalokiteshvara (a name I picked up in Tibet many lifetimes ago) and Maitreya (a spiritual rank conferred upon me on 9 November 2009). In any case, Kit Leee the Fragrant and Outstanding Hero will live on in old friends’ and relatives’ memories – or as a cheque-receiving device (even though I can't remember when I last received a cheque in the post).

As long as we inhabit a competitive holographic world fueled by money, driven by paranoia, suspicion and fear – instead of life-affirming acceptance, love and perfect trust – I must accept the blank uncomprehending looks of bank clerks and bureaucrats as part of the outgoing reality. Not everyone can respond to freeform jazz improvisations. Many feel safer within the Euclidean framework of the Status Quo – just as members of the Flat Earth Society continue to fear falling off into Deep Space if they venture too close to the edge.

However, there’s room for everyone and everything under the Sun (if not ours, some other distant Sun). Those who keep saying “There’s no room for this, no room for that in our society” are control-freaks possessed by archaic demons in their own brain circuitry. The Master Yeshua assured us: “My father’s house has many mansions.” Which is a poetic way of revealing that there are worlds within worlds, dimensions within dimensions; everyone has a seat reserved at the heavenly feast, so don’t worry, be happy.

And the day will surely dawn when the only form we have to fill is the one that pleases us most.

Then I can revert to signing off as ANON – which happens to be an anagram for ONAN. Well, I think it’s better to be Onan the Masturbator than Conan the Barbarian, no?

[First published in Journal One, 1996. Updated & reposted 7 May 2011 & 6 January 2019]

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Court Philosopher encounters a Mountain Sage

I once read an apocryphal anecdote about a close encounter between Confucius and Laotze which greatly amused me. Having heard about the extraordinary wisdom of a wild mountain sage whose original name was no longer known, the Master Confucius was determined to seek him out and learn everything he could from this reputable sage.

After months of unrelenting search, following every lead that came his way, Confucius finally found himself approaching a humble cottage hidden among trees on a remote hillside. But there was nobody home. Determined to find the reclusive mountain sage, Confucius decided to follow a narrow trail that eventually led to a crystalline stream, and there he beheld a spritely elder perched on a mossy log with a makeshift fishing rod.

“Pardon the rude intrusion, but I assume you are the illustrious Master Laotze?” Confucius began. “I have sought you for many moons with a humble request.”

Laotze glanced at the intruder for a brief moment with a penetrating look and then turned back to his fishing. “What do you want?” he asked after a pause.

Confucius approached Laotze and sat down on the grass a respectful distance away. Clearing his throat, he declared: “I am Kung Fu-tze, Resident Philosopher of the magnificent Jing Court, and I have been authorized to offer you a lucrative lifetime tenure as Special Advisor to the King and Senior Mentor to his Offspring – a position that comes with your own luxurious quarters and a minimum of 10 household servants. I beg you to seriously consider.”

There was a long silence before Laotze finally spoke in a quiet voice, pointing to something he had spotted on the riverbank: “Do you see that tiny terrapin dragging its tail through the mud?” He continued, conversationally: “Many decades ago I visited the palace and saw, in the foyer, a gigantic tortoise on display, stuffed and mounted in a glass case, reputed to be the largest within memory. Well, I would much rather be that little fellow over there!”

Confucius was duly impressed by Laotze’s answer. “Forget about my foolish offer, Exalted Master!” he said apologetically, “but please accept me as your humble disciple and diligent student. I shall resign my position immediately and sit happily at your feet.”

Laotze looked directly at Confucius, brow furrowed as though in deep thought; then he burst out laughing and didn’t stop until Confucius, too, found himself laughing along. Finally the wild mountain sage placed a friendly hand on Confucius’s shoulder and gently said: “There is nothing you can learn from me and nothing for me to teach you. Don’t waste my time and your own, my friend. Come, let’s have some tea. You have a long journey home.”

To his credit, Confucius never had a negative thing to say about his brief encounter with Laotze. In later years when asked by his many admirers what it was like to meet the legendary wild mountain sage, he would smile and say: “How does one describe a dragon flying in the sky beyond the sight of men?”

[From a letter to Chris Ang dated 12 February 2020. First posted 12 March 2020, 
reposted 27 October 2020]

Saturday, October 15, 2022

The A Bao A Qu Mystery Revisited

Fanciful depiction of the A Bao A Qu found on the internet

IN APRIL 1993 I received a strange request in the post. John Hagedorn - an American educationist-cum- percussionist then based in Alexandria, Egypt - wrote asking me to research the Malayan origins of the legend of "A Bao A Qu." Hagedorn's travel-writer colleague, Christopher Green, had unearthed this obscure tale from Jorge Luis Borges's 1967 Book of Imaginary Beings.

Borges claimed he had found the "A Bao A Qu" story in the appendix of C.C. Iturvuru's 1937 treatise, On Malay Witchcraft. I finally tracked down Borges's version of the "A Bao A Qu" story in the University of Malaya library - so I can vouch for the reliability of Green's succinct summary of this hoary tale:

To see the most lovely landscape in the world, a traveler must climb the Tower of Victory in Chitor

King Kumbhakaran
aka Rana Kumbha
[Green says he found on a map of India a town named Chitor. For what it's worth, there is indeed a town named Chittorgarh in Rajasthan province where the legendary warrior king Rana Kumbha constructed a Tower of Victory in 1448.]

A winding staircase gives access to the circular terrace on top, but only those who do not believe in the legend dare climb the tower.

On the stairway there has lived since the beginning of time a being sensitive to the many shades of the human soul known as A Bao A Qu. It sleeps until the approach of a traveler and some secret life within it begins to glow and its translucent body begins to stir.

As the traveler climbs the stairs, the being regains consciousness and follows at the traveler's heels, becoming more intense in bluish color and coming closer to perfection. But it achieves its ultimate form only at the topmost step, and only when the traveler is one who has already attained Nirvana, whose acts cast no shadows.

Otherwise, the being hesitates at the final step and suffers at its inability to achieve perfection

["Its moan is a barely audible sound, something like the rustling of silk."]

It tumbles to the first step as the traveler climbs down and collapses weary and shapeless, awaiting the approach of the next traveler.

In the course of the centuries, A Bao A Qu has reached the terrace only once.

For some reason I felt sure that C.C. Iturvuru (what an amazing name!) had heard the tale from an Orang Asli. The first person I asked happened to be Seri Pagi (though I only knew him as Pak Diap then). I gave him a simplified rendering of the A Bao A Qu legend and waited while the rusty gears of his memory whirred. His brow furrowed and then he broke into a broad grin, exclaiming in triumph: "Abang Aku! You mean Abang Aku!"

But of course. The way Orang Asli slur their vowels (especially in the states of Negri Sembilan and Pahang), Iturvuru might well have heard it as "A Bao A Qu." My Elder Brother, Abang Aku.*

I felt a jolt of electrifying knowledge. Diap said he remembered hearing a story similar to that when he was very young. It involved a spiral stairway connecting one dimension to another. A stairway once used by visiting or incarnating stargods. They say some got caught out by the calamitous closing of the interdimensional pathways. Once brilliant stars in their own universe, they fell to Earth and became ensnared in Time. Some of them ended up just like poor Abang Aku alias A Bao A Qu. A spirit fragment of cosmos caught in the gravity of human karma; a glorious starbeing lying inert at the bottom of the stairway to heaven, dependent on messy human destiny for its own fulfilment.

Only one other Elder seemed to have heard of Abang Aku. Village shaman Sudin Aus kept nodding sagely when I outlined the A Bao A Qu story to him. Then he smiled and said, “My Elder Brother is a reference to the Orang Asli. Our spirit will not be free until the younger races achieve nobility of purpose and purity of heart.”

Almost everyone, however, was familiar with the cryptic image of the long and winding stairway to the most wonderful view on Earth.

THE A BAO A QU MYTH evoked images of chakras - energy spirals operating on macro and micro levels - primordial forces attaining self-awareness, and nebulous notions of some deep alchemical mystery - an H.P. Lovecraftian vision of the strange, chthonic thoughtfields from which our familiar symbols sprout. 

“Abang Aku” brought to mind the Great Old Ones, ancient squid-like beings central to Lovecraft’s Chthulu tales. (It also brought to mind Gurdjieff's Kundabuffer. This peculiar word was coined in the 1920s by the Greek-Russian magician-philosopher, G.I. Gurdjieff, to explain some "tragic flaw" in Man's genetic programme which condemns him to futile lifetimes of Sisyphean** struggle, forever slipping back into robotic animality just when he's on the threshold of illumination. 

Some believe that this "Kundabuffer Effect" was deliberately installed by a somewhat insecure Creator God (or gods), to retard the evolution of human intelligence and thereby perpetuate a harnessable labour force on Earth. The Tower of Babel story lends credence to this notion of an "Almighty Father-God" who, feeling threatened by his mortal creatures' overweening ambitions, confounds them with a babble of tongues. Another scenario describes how humanity had its original 12-strand DNA reduced to two, to confine our consciousness within the physical world.)

I sensed that the A Bao A Qu story offered a key insight into the magical teachings of the Ancients. At some remote point in the infinite spiral of existence, an aspect of Spirit found itself trapped in a Promethean*** nightmare loop of recurring time. Only a self-realized and karma-free human could release the A Bao A Qu from its eternal yearning for perfection.

Tower of Victory in Chittorgarh,
Rajasthan, India

The Tower of Victory. Victory over death? Despair? Futility? The magic column of ascension, located in Chitor. Chita? Chita, cita, cinta, citta. Sanskrit for a quality difficult to define: essentially, citta means mindstuff, consciousness.

Chita or cita is closely related to cinta, romantic love - desire, emotions, feelings, longing, love, aspiration. (It could also, by invoking homophonic licence, be a slurring of cherita - nowadays spelled cerita - which means "story.") In effect one might describe chita as a poetic symbol for the Imagination, the Desiring Mind. But this is assuming it is related to Chitor, the town named in the legend of A Bao A Qu. And I assume it is, because myth is meant to be a malleable, dreamlike substance. 

The test of myth-entering keys lies in their emotive resonance when struck. Substituting “Abang Aku” for “A Bao A Qu,” “Chita” and “cerita” for “Chitor,” and “you” for “the traveler” - what do we get? A metaphysical conundrum that echoes in some barely remembered attic of our unconscious. A vague feeling of déjà vu, of “When did I dream this dream?” 

Was I the intrepid traveler, the hero, the messiah, redeemer of gooey amorphous geeks? Or was I Abang Aku himself, waiting eon upon eon for humanity to attain Buddha and Christ consciousness? Who else would have “already attained Nirvana,” whose acts would “cast no shadows” - in other words, be completely free of karmic consequences. And who might this Exalted Being be - if not our own Noblest Aspect, the Omega point of our Adamic Alpha?

That's why Abang Aku reaches perfection only once. However, his dream body or holoform remains embedded in the mythic realm as a timely trigger, to awaken anyone who chances upon the legend to the nature of his or her true purpose on this Earth.



*  A. Ghani Ismail, an ardent scholar of Malay esoteric lore, offers some information which sheds a whole different light on the A Bao A Qu legend. He suggests that the phrase in question is actually a slurring of “Ibu Aku” (“My Mother”), explaining that in pre-Islamic Malay shamanism, the gateway to other dimensions was via an inner journey through the spiral staircase of the etheric umbilical cord which reconnects us with our pre-birth experience of oneness with the Mother. By voyaging beyond the point of our own conception, we break through the veils of time and space and regain cosmic consciousness. I thought this variation on the theme warranted inclusion, at least as a footnote.

** Sisyphean: from Sisyphus, in Greek mythology a cruel and cunning king of Corinth, who was punished in Hades by being made to roll a heavy boulder up a steep hill. Every time he got to the summit, the boulder would roll back down the hill, and Sisyphus had to repeat the process over and over forever.

*** Promethean: from Prometheus, in Greek mythology a first-generation god (or Titan) of Fire and Intellect, who returned the gift of Fire to Mankind (which Zeus the second-generation Olympian had withheld) - and for that was chained to a rock and his liver devoured by an eagle every day. Every night, the liver would regenerate and Prometheus would come back to life, only to have the eagle eat his liver all over again, and so on, ad infinitum. (It's less gory, but a lot scarier, when you approach this mythic morsel as a giant metaphor for compulsory reincarnation: Prometheus is the Soul, the rock is the physical world, the liver represents a lifetime, and the eagle is the emblem of Higher Authority or Spiritual Law. As a symbol, the eagle is interchangeable with the Indonesian garuda, the Chinese phoenix, the Mexican quetzal, or the Russian firebird, which represents Eternal Return. And Prometheus, the Fire-Bringer, is often identified with Lucifer, the Light-Bringer.) From the 'Management' point of view, Prometheus is a subversive element -  but 'Labor' would see him as a cult hero, a freedom fighter, a System-bucking Little Red Robin Hood!

[This essay was originally included as a chapter in my book TANAH TUJUH ~ Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos, published by Silverfish Books in 2007]