My Anthem

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Two contrasting takes on Merdeka mo(U)rn

Just for the record, and some sombre "reflection" on Independence Day mo(U)rn, Two Takes from The Star ~~ Desi resevwes Comments. I hope my EsteemedReaders can see why Desi has on several occasuions posed this:

NegaraKu, and to its leaders especially, QUO VADIS?


Thursday August 31, 2006

Maintain strength in unity

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians must retain the spirit of consensus and cooperation which have become the pillar of national strength since independence, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said last night.

He said the country's development enjoyed today was the result of unity that had long been forged among the people of various races and religions.

“The solidarity of Malaysians is our strength, we need to ensure that we maintain that strength. A good consensus, a strong and effective cooperation, these are important,” he said in a special message aired over radio and television in conjunction with the nation's 49th National Day celebration.

Abdullah said in instilling and safeguarding unity, each Malaysian must have patience, be considerate, give priority to collaboration and respect each other.

VIPS CELEBRATING: (From left) Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, Najib, Abdullah, Taib and Rais waving the Jalur Gemilang at the stroke of midnight during the Ambang Merdeka celebration in Kuching last night.
Referring to the May 13, 1969, incident, Abdullah reminded Malaysians to learn from the dark moments in the country's history and avoid doing something that could disrupt unity and racial collaboration.

Things that caused consensus to crumble would erode the country's strength and make it weak, he said.

“What causes hardship to us, we must avoid, that's the meaning of learning from history. Besides, we need to make our mark in history to build a civilisation for the future,” he said.

Abdullah said the present generation now enjoying the fruits of the struggle of past generations had the obligation to make Malaysia a more developed and successful country to be inherited by the next generation.

“Or at least ensure that the country has a government with well organised plans so that our country can progress further,” he said.

Abdullah said serious attention must be given to the struggle towards achieving Vision 2020, when Malaysia would hopefully be declared as a developed nation in that year.

He stressed that the people should strive wholeheartedly to face various new challenges like globalisation, liberalisation and competition from other countries.

“Are we able to succeed when faced with such competition (from other countries)? Will we be able to get as much as we need when faced with such rivalry? These are the questions before us, and we must have the best answers and respond to them,” Abdullah said.

“Therefore, it's my fervent hope that the people and Government will continue to cooperate and both sides will put their minds and efforts to realise it.”

The Prime Minister also reminded the public sector that it had a crucial role in developing the country even though the private sector had been given the role to generate a more robust economic growth.

“The public sector has the power to enforce laws and regulations, and also the capacity to draw up the necessary policies. So, its role cannot be separated, and cannot be considered less important,” he said.

Therefore, he said, the public sector must strive to facilitate any private sector initiative that would bring benefit and prosperity to the country.

Touching on the National Day celebrations, Abdullah said all Malaysians should celebrate the day with pride as a way to show their gratitude and joy for the peace and progress enjoyed so far.

After 49 years of independence, the Prime Minister said, Malaysia had developed robustly and achieved successes in various fields.

“Surely, we are grateful because we can say that our country is peaceful and safe for all Malaysians, even though we still remember the incident that happened in 1969,” he said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MERDEKA! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Bikers on smashing rampage

At least 13 cars were broken into, their windows and windshields smashed, along Jalan Medang Serai in Bangsar, leaving residents both angry and baffled.

Residents who witnessed the incident at 5am yesterday said young men on at least four motorcycles took their time smashing the windows before taking anything of value inside.

They also claimed the youths were the same ones who often raced illegally along the Sprint Highway that runs parallel to their road.

DESPICABLE ACT: Ng taking a closer look at the mess after a group of motorcyclists smashed the windscreens and windows of 13 cars along Jalan Medang Serai, Bangsar, early Wednesday morning.
Tedin Ng, 51, a resident for more than 20 years, found the windows of his BMW and Renault SUV smashed and the coins in the ashtray compartment missing.

“This happened to me last month as well, when they took the radio in my BMW. Even before I had time to fix that, they struck again,” he said, adding that the culprits seemed to be sending some kind of message to the residents there.

“Almost all the cars had both the front and passenger windows smashed. If they were merely out to get valuables in the car, there is no reason for them to smash both windows,” a puzzled Ng said.

Another resident, who declined to be named, said he saw what happened and called the police immediately.

“They started at one end of the road and smashed cars all the way to the other end. They would wait awhile before going on to the next one. They were not afraid and did not run away,” she said.

“The police came a little too late as the youths had gone by then,” she said, claiming that the police also did not bother to ask any of the residents what had happened or who had called.

Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Dzuraidi Ibrahim, who confirmed the incident, said only six people had come forward to make reports, so far, even though 13 cars were smashed.

“According to the reports, the suspects were young men who were riding four Yamaha RX-Z motorcycles,” he said, adding that police would increase patrols in the area.

“We believe there were around eight men in all.”

ACP Mohd Dzuraidi said a similar incident happened in the Jalan Terasek area about a month ago.

“In that incident, the men were also on motorcycles, but we still don’t know if this is the same group or a different one.”

He asked witnesses to contact the police via the Rakan Cop hotline at 03-2115 9999 or call the Brickfields district headquarters at 03-2274 2222.

~~~~~~~ What's Happening? Kyels asks. Quo Vadis, Desi asks. ~~~~~~~

My Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu: Y&A Duo

Last December Desi initiated what became the G7 or G7+ Bloggers Meet, comprising fellow bloggers transcending race, colour or creed, also across gender and age too. those who took the trouble and daring to venture into varying venues in or around B'g, B'd Wolfish Koala Lumpuh, found the meets "awesome", in Kyels' words, and leading them to be Olver or Olivia.

I have had earned most of my B&B in this capital city, but two scores and a-More years on, I still have not fallen in love with it. Good to earn the bucks to keep body kicking, but to feed the soul to feel living and flying, ah, it's a disappointment except for those moments. I advise those aspiring to live long and longing to get the hell outa of KL if you can. If you can't, take up at last one of these two hobbies: Enjoy Poetry, or Get a Hi in Blogging.

Or thirdly, you can resort to just Eat, Drink and Be Merry, according to moo_t. But you have to inherit a Dad like some Minister whose 27-year-old son could be enabled (they would like to tell you it's "enobled") to become a billionaire at 27. Go on thy knees to thank the Almighty, count yourself a special breed. I had no such luck; Desi ain't no walk in such rarefied company.

But I believe I am richer by half, walking with Young&Articulates from the G7 meets, and today Iim proud, as imposed Mentor! to present two of them -- one above age of consent, the other I ain't too cocksure.

Your guess as to who's the lucky one, just Toss a coin. She's studying International Business and Finance at a Sherwood Forest-like campus; he's studying Foundation to Economics-cum-Finance with a minor in Law. I believe the last was an accidental sign-on due to poetic justice or justification ala Max Erring-do, or isIT Daringdo? Never mind, just accept that Desi has a damned blardy role/roll in the throw of the dice. If the prior language is offensive to any ER, please move on to JeffOoi's Screenshots -- he's pressing DELETE more often than normal from Yesterday, all our troubles seemed so faraway...

Can we bow our heads for a one-minute silence to mark a
Dark Day in Malaysian 4th Estate (Media);
Also a Blacker Day for our Potential 5th Estate (Blogosphere)?

Guest Blogger: johnleemk

"I still believe in Malaysia!"

All the other Merdeka essays I have seen to date touch on pessimism for the future of this country, and either explicitly or implicitly refer to certain controversial policies of our government. While I have written more than my fair share of essays on those (indeed, for the second Merdeka running, I have lambasted a particular bastion of these policies on my blog), it is not my intention to contribute to the burgeoning crop of condemnatory and in some rare cases, insulting, pieces of prose in this field.

Rather, permit me to explain why, even at times when I feel there is no hope, I still believe in Malaysia. Why I still believe in being Malaysian. And why, after all we've gone through, some Chinese might say, I still fervently believe in calling myself Malaysian first, rather than Chinese.

I don't believe there's a need to explain the bout of pessimism about Malaysia and its future. It wouldn't be too hard to examine the root causes of this discontent and resentment. Rather, what one ought to be doing is attempting to explain why some who share this same feeling of discontent and resentment still love this country.

As much as I have joined the usually resounding clarion call of voices in the blogosphere denouncing the government's approach to certain fields of its administration, I nevertheless continually find myself in an odd spot amongst them. Even among those I know in real life, pigeon-holing me into one category with others is something that remains hard to do. Unlike many, I have never felt any hate or frustration with this country -- rather, the sole focus of my anger has been the government and those within it.

I hail from a rather mixed background. I was born in Japan, to a Chinese Malaysian father and a Filipino mother. I was raised in Singapore, but educated wholly in Malaysia. On my father's part, I have never really managed to empathise with his mixed feelings towards our country. Logically, I understand them, yes, but emotionally, I do not feel them. Nevertheless, we can be broadly painted as moderates - people who do not believe that this country is wholly doomed yet. We are certainly far from Chinese chauvinists, making it hard for us to relate with several stereotypical Chinese grievances such as those related to the (what I will continue to refer to as segregatory) vernacular education stream. And as for my mother, her being non-Malaysian naturally precludes her from holding any strong views about the future of our country.

Similarly, amongst my peers -- especially those who were denied scholarships! -- there is a simmering feeling of discontent and frustration at the system. In some cases, this has even translated to a dislike or hatred of the Malays and Muslims. However, having grown up amongst them, I have never shared such feelings -- and this is where my story begins.

Unlike 95% of all Chinese Malaysians, I was educated in a national -- and by national, I do mean national; it was far from a Malay school, thank God
- school. I never knew anything of discrimination or that taboo phrase, "second-class citizen". As far as I was concerned, I was just another nine-year-old grumpily getting on the bus for school with his friends. Until I was about 12 or 13, I did not even know what the word "Bumiputra" meant. Perhaps it shows how insulated I was by my circumstances; I do not know.

Whatever the case, I grew up feeling no reason for anger towards my country or my peers. Even though Islam was often brought up by my Malay friends in ways that could have been construed by some (probably those over-sensitive non-Malays) as incitement, we were very much a united bunch. My memories of primary school consist not of discrimination or frustration. Maybe my school was particularly liberal; I am not sure. They certainly gave one little excuse to argue that meritocracy was not being practiced; I was a member of the entirely non-Bumiputra school team that sent us to the district level Mathematics quiz. (Although in retrospect, they did make sure that the Head Prefect was always a Malay...) Still, if one considers the attitude of national school students and compares it with those from, say, the Chinese education stream, it is clear that one group is more "Malaysian", shall we say, than the other.

In primary school, I still remember, there was no distinction between Malay and non-Malay or Bumiputra and non-Bumiputra. We were all the same, and all treated equally. We took pains to respect one another's background, and we never encountered difficulties accomodating one another. We attended each other's birthday parties, with my parents making sure catered fast food was available for those with particular sensitivities. After school, we'd play football with crushed tin cans, nobody caring what the skin colour of the other bugger was like. We even made fun of those with particularly dark skin -- to us, that was just a physical attribute; race never came into the picture. "What does race have to do with anything?" we'd probably have asked.

After leaving primary school, as one matures, one better understands the way things are. I am sure all of us acutely understand the picture currently -- or at least understand it better than we once did. Nevertheless, we still maintain our practices and habits. I still invite my Malay friends to my birthday celebrations, and they make it a point to attend if possible. I do the same with them. The way you are brought up in primary school is crucial, because in our case, it has made us think like Malaysians, not Malay, Chinese and Indian.

There was a huge brouhaha earlier this year about a survey indicating that a sizeable percentage (I forget the exact amount) of Malaysians have never shared a meal with one of another race. This, my friends, is the legacy of that segregatory school system. This is why I continually and habitually rail against the establishment of vernacular education.

Never had a meal with someone of another race? A mixed group eating, and laughing together -- National school students have been doing that by habit since we can first remember, and it is not a habit that dies easily. Even in college, we think nothing of lepaking or yes, having breakfast or lunch, with those of a different skin pigmentation. It doesn't even come into the picture.

There are very noticeable differences in the behaviour of Chinese-educated and national school-educated students which can last for a lifetime. In secondary school and college, it is not too hard to tell these kinds of people apart. The Chinese-educated generally keep to themselves, while the national school students invariably have their own clique. That is not to say the Chinese-educated do not mix with the non-Chinese-educated; that certainly does happen. However, by inclination, one group is partial to keeping itself racially pure (whether they intend this or not is debateable; it could very well be unconscious), while another has no issues with mixing things up. Even those national school students we regard as racist thumb their nose at the Chinese-educated -- to them, this is another class of racists altogether.

Perhaps I am being too blunt. But whatever the case, it is my feeling that being of a national school background has made a tangible difference in who I am and how I feel today. Maybe this effect on my character was accentuated by my being a tabula rasa - blank slate - seeing as I had no inkling whatsoever of anything being wrong with a "Malaysian Malaysia" (still a taboo phrase for many government leaders). Nevertheless, I notice how I think differently and react differently. Some of these differences are probably attributable to my being completely race-blind at a young age (though I hope I remain race-blind today). But still, many of them, I believe, are rooted in my upbringing as a Malaysian, and not as a Chinese.

Today, my Malay accent is a bit Malay - and I do blush with pride when Malays remark on what they consider the quality of Malay. (To be honest, folks, it's atrocious. I need a dictionary whenever I intend on writing a decent essay in Malay. I'm just good at bahasa pasar.) To me, there is nothing to be ashamed of in knowing Malay, or being proficient in it. It is not the language of one race to me -- it is the language of one nation, and that is the Malaysian nation. My Malay may be atrocious, but I can tell you of the difference between kaum (race) and bangsa (nation).

Bahasa Melayu bukanlah bahasa kaum Melayu; ia merupakan bahasa bangsa Malaysia. Some might take umbrage at me referring to this language as Bahasa Melayu. If so, I apologise. Again, it is my upbringing. But I feel nothing wrong with "calling a spade a spade"; we do not recoil at calling English what it is, do we? After all, it is no longer a white man's language. What something is depends not on what we call it, but what we perceive it as. A rose under any other name would smell as sweet (Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare).

But enough of that digression. Some might think I have been assimilated as a Malay/Muslim (the two are generally synonymous, are they not?). But is this true? My faith in Christianity has never been stronger, I would say. And as for race, I have always been (perhaps rather idealistically) race-blind. I have never really come to think of myself as a Chinese, although if asked for a race, I will continue to habitually speak of myself as Chinese. As far as I'm concerned, I am Malaysian.

One common ground I hear for retaining Chinese education is that it is, well, Chinese education. That it teaches our young to be perceptive of their nature as Chinese. I will have to disagree on this, then. It is my view that what is far more important is to be brought up and educated as a Malaysian. If it means diluting one's Chinese-ness, so be it. I do not intend to pull any punches here. We are Malaysians, not Chinese. That is what must be foremost in our minds, and what must be inculcated in us from young. Our home is not a place where our classmates, colleagues, and friends are practically 100% Chinese. It is not a place where everyone can converse in Mandarin, or where everyone shares the same cultural understanding. The Chinese school is a poor mechanism for preparing our young to live in a heterogenous nation.

And as for diluting one's Chinese identity, I do not put as much stock in that argument as I once did. After all, my girlfriend's identity as Chinese remains strong despite spending her entire life in a convent school instead of a Chinese school, and being educated entirely in Malay. She habitually speaks in Chinese proverbs, and lectures me on the need to be more, well, Chinese. And yet the beauty of it is that our conversations are - what else could they be? - Malaysian. To use a bit of linguistic jargon here, we code-switch between English, Malay, and a variety of Chinese dialects. (Some day, perhaps I shall find an occasion for inserting the one or two words of Tamil I know into a discussion - although I doubt there is a way one could politely utilise my profanity-centred vocabulary.) To us, there is nothing wrong with speaking in bits of English and Malay, with the occasional Chinese idiom.

And this is what gives me hope for the future. That perhaps some day we will all be able to be as unrealistically idealistic as I am, and speak of ourselves as Malaysians. When that day has come, my friends, we shall no longer encounter the need to shelter ourselves in communal schools (be they MARA Junior Science Colleges, or SRJKs), or derogatorise those of another race as kaum pendatang. If Malaysians have decided that we are Malaysians, what can the politicians do? And that is what I hope for Malaysia, this 49th Merdeka of ours.


Bonus Guest: Koi Kye Lee aka Kyels, and she has a distinctive Blog named
Laments of a Broken Hearted Silhouette.

The Silhouette, like Mona Lisa, often maketh Desi pause and wonder and wait,in anticipation, about the mystique. Meanwhile, she sometimes sounds morose and lost, yet other times rise to ecstasy and poetic brilliance, not knowing Des's lapping it all up, shyly peeping through the semi-darkness under the silvery moonlight.

Sometimes I touch gold.

What’s Happening?
Quo Vadis,My Country?

The youths today are vastly different from those of yesteryears. I believe there is this Generation Gap, in Malaysia and other countries -- a common phenomenon.
What we perceive today is almost different from what our forefathers had distinguished. During the olden days, moral values were of supreme importance in daily lives, especially when it comes to older people in the society and in familial ties. Benevolence, respect, empathy, sincerity, honour, sympathy, and more, were the vital traits, and featured prominently when it comes to teaching and raising a child.

But one question I’d like to ask: Do you see in the children today inbibed with those values?

It's not to say that I am very well endowed with such "wonderful" values, but I do have a clear conscience that I try hard to contribute to promoting a civil society.
Let’s take the public transportation scene in Malaysia, for example. How often do you see youngsters getting up and offering their seats to the elderly?

I take the Light Rail Transit (LRT) every day and from what I have observed all this while, I realised that many youths are either ignorant, or they lack certain social values. There was the occasion when I stumbled upon this scenario. The LRT was packed and it so happened I witnessed this episode with my own eyes. One blind man stepped into the train and made his way towards the bar since he could not see any seats and no one took his arm and to guide him to an empty seat. Looking from afar, I saw that a young girl was seated on one of the seats, and I could see her gaze was set upon the blind man. What hit me was: why did she not get up and lead the man to her seat?

I observed for more than three minutes and she was still giving the blind man the same uncaring stare. She was not ready to give her seat up until a good Samaritan told the girl to stand up and let the blind man have the seat. The amazing part was that she was so unwilling to do so, discernible from her facial expression. But she had to -- because a whole load of strangers were looking right into her!

When we see more such scenarios happening, can we figure out that there is something wrong here? Charity begins from home after all. No, I am not judging the credibility of our parents and guardians today, but rather I believe the education system of our dear country has some role to play in bringing about such sad state of affirs.

What do you really see when we talk about the education system here? There might be differuing points of views because we all have our own perspectives. Yes, it is indeed a subjective issue, but certainly begs the question: Does the system serve to ionculcate the social values and graces in tandem with an aspiring developed nation status society?

From what I see, a certain percentage of people no longer care about morality. Many still do, but they do so at a much deteriorating scale as compared with the era of our forefathers. The people today care more about getting straight A’s in Government examinations. Yes, it’s not wrong to aim for good grades but what good does it make when you are a smart person yet you have a very bad personality? Stop and ponder...

What I am trying to point out here is that Malaysian society faces a trend that poses a dilemma: where have the moral values of the society gone to?

My opinion is that the percentage of selfish people is growing higher and higher with every passing day. Selfishness latently runs in our veins, perhaps, but there are times that we have to put that aside and look at things in a wider perspective and to put ourselves in the shoes of others. It would be good if Malaysians start caring about each other, be it the neighbours, or other members of the public, regardless of the differences in skin tones, race or creed. There would be fewer squabbles in the range of the public eye, and it can start with the political parties. We have seen many instances of "hurtful and sensitive remarks" coming off politicians' mouth willy-nilly. My wish is that such incidents would lessen in NegaraKu so that all the races would be able to live in peace and harmony.

Let not unfairness and selfishness rule us all. Differences could be made if all of us are willing to co-operate and walk along hand-in-hand to make Malaysia a better world to live in. After all, we are Malaysians.

I’m not perfect either but at least, my conscience and values are clear cut and I believe in striving towards noble values with enough to go by. I hope fellow Malaysians will strive to build a more considerate and caring society. With this hope I wish all of you, Happy Independence Day."

Merdeka! Merdeka! MERDEKA!


DESI @9.39AM:
After reading many Merdeka posts and comments that border on pessimism and surrender, it's so uplifting to "see the other side of the
picture" expressed by two Young&Articulates. I've often urged my Y&A like Sabrina that IT'S NOT ALL GLOOM and DOOM! And johnleemk's and kyels' perspectives give grounds for optimism.

And their sharing of their "personal" stations is
precisely what I wish for, especuially from the
YoungOnes, in this Series -- perspectives from a
generation whose age range matters a great deal
for the future of NegaraKu, not that the elder/older
folks do not play a significant role. We must not,
however, lose sight of the fact all Malaysians
DO DIFFER in our perspectives, as our perceptions
and vantage points are shaded by from where we were,
where we came from -- city, semi-rural, kampong, village --
we are enriched by our diverse backgrounds and cultural roots.

DESI to John ~~ I read from your "hint" you are likely to
proceed to the US for tertiary studies -- Economics/Finance
plus a minor in Law, God-willing. I still use this public
forum to urge my Young Mentee (sometimes turns Mentor) that
you should turn Law into the major. Come home on graduation
to play a more significant role in the politics of NegaraKu,
and enrich the Malaysiana landscape and journey. And also
help write The Malaysian Story.

DESI to kyels
~~ Continue thy poetic laments, and I will
seek solace and meaning in the mystique. But I will
sometimes intercept to mend a li'l that broken-hearted
Silhouette, can I?

It's more on young shoulders like yours -- johnleemk, and kyels,
and Sabrina, Imran Ahmad and Primrose, that the future of
Malaysia depends very much on, transforming it into a truly
united nation where most of its citizens
Rise Above Colour, Race and Creed,
and Across Gender and Age barriers too.

PS: This hoRst shall neigh the Essay Series finale IF
he has strength and energy left to make across those 49 liners.
Meanwhile, Strive To Be Happy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu: The Fiendish Intellectual

A first timer knocking at the door at is greeted by a strong declaration whose first liner can put off Angelic citizens -- the likes of Helen, Anak M and of course, Desi-lah, and Y&A like Kyels, Sabbie and johnleemk. Who would want to bequaint a SCOUNDREL, I ask you! I don't know about Howsy and Mave SM. My dear ER, YOU DESide. I've been pretty democratic nowadays, haven't I?

"Hi! I'm a depraved, godless, amoral scoundrel!
I love anime, porn and politics! I love you government folks, too! You can explore my innards at will, just muck around with the various links I've got lined up for you! Leave a comment! Sharing is caring! Or something like that!" Desi has highlighted (BOLDED THUS) the proFANities, but I dare not press the DELETE key in case ZAM protesteth that we Bloggers also practise SENSORship! So be warned before stepping into his terrortry! I believe sometimes xpyre, like Desi, missperrs -- 'anime" should read "animals", NO?

But familairiy breeds a sense of wellbeing despite an initial fiendish reception, jso now ust ENJOY his thought-provoking Merdeka pie. It raises some questions without clear answers, but it would NOT jeopardise your health reflecting on the issues as I had had several intercourses with the nyet xpyred one. My verdict is: he's intellectual. Honourable, but NO Schoolboy. That belongs to Housey. Or I feign to truly recognise them both, or IT, whatever.

The author suggests some "waiting". " I'll watch and wonder and wait. was his parting shot. I think it's an intellectual thinking allowed that there are many possible scripts waiting for The Play on the Malaysian Stage, and each of us is a player. You determine your own role, BIG or small, but I share one CONviction (Hey, Peace Hill, found the records nyet?) in common with xpyre: WE CANNOT REMAIN AS MERE SPECTATORS.

Yes, strive to be a bardist as we all have the potential, including Helen who flagged, not flogged! this Series off, to show that we have at least tried our best. We all are equal ACTORS whether we like it or not, for we are all joint writers of the Malaysian Story still in progress.

Guest Blogger: Xpyre aka Reduce and Recycle

Malaysian Graffiti: 49 years on

Almost fifty years on and the peace our country enjoys is the envy of many nations, or so I hear. A funny thing about being the object of admiration: being told we are the standard usually means we're blind to the successes in other nations – or blind to the antecedents of our own envied harmony.

It is decades after independence and we are still operating under the threat of arrests without reprieve for dubious reasons such as the common catch-all, 'national security'. We've spent a few years without these threats being enforced on other people, of course. And, we've been somewhat prosperous. Malaysia is an Asian 'Dragon', and a model of progressive government policies, I'm told.

You want to see real poverty and a real breakdown of government? I'm told you should refer to Vietnam, or the Philippines: people living in squalor and without basic amenities with millions living beneath the poverty line; people unable to find work and must scrape together a living in the worst of conditions. For these people, I'm often told, politics is a meaningless word, and 'civil society' is a middle-class preoccupation not shared by the general masses.

In Malaysia, politics is similarly meaningless... or it used to be. Maybe Malaysians are starting to get tired of that sword hanging above their heads.

The threat of change

According to Wikipedia, Damocles was an excessive flatterer in the court of the King Dionysius. Damocles wished for a taste of what Dionysius enjoyed, and so the King offered to switch places with Damocles. King Dionysius served Damocles over dinner that evening. It was only after Damocles had finished his meal that he noticed a sword suspended over him, hung by a mere horse's hair. Damocles immediately lost his appetite.

The lesson, I'm told, is that of the fragility of power. In the case of King Dionysius, of course, the picture is abundantly clear: Kings come and go, and awfully quick.

In our Malaysian context, the picture is quite different. Our government, which has been in control since our country's inception, has never harboured any fear of loss. No, we find that fear amongst politicians vying against each other for positions of power within the same machinery. The fear of loss which should dangle above the incumbent has been transferred. Strangely enough, we are the ones now sitting beneath such threats.

Pushing political discourse into the margins only forces politics into other spaces, fortunately. And that means explicit political _expression goes underground; almost everything becomes implicitly political, if not merely socio-cultural.

We've had Sepet and the recently banned Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (banned); we've had 18?, also banned; we've had the Black Metal issue, which has brought to light issues of moral policing by a religious hegemony now fast enveloping our nation; and others. Boundaries are being tested, and none so clearly as with the Moorthy issue and the Lina Joy issue.

The Ancient Regime and its Enemies

These efforts have come hard on the heels of various blow-ups since June last year, when there was a minor riot over the Approved Permit issue and the hike in fuel prices. By themselves, I have no doubt that these issues wouldn't have presented major problems to the players in government. It was a series of blows to Mahathir that jolted him to action, it seems.

First, Mahathir's son was mentioned as owning Approved Permits; then MV Augusta was sold for pittance; and then the incumbent cancelled plans for a new bridge over the Johor Straits. The last was more than he could take, and quiet murmurs became open questions. The ensuing conflict has been played out in the newspapers and in the media - on both sides. A friend likes to characterize it as a tussle between the old and the new; I can't help but see the divide as between the old and the not-so-old.

Both sides are of the same stock, and both sides are tussling over prime pieces of political and economic real estate, if only for their proxies.

(The current problem is fascinating, if you're interested. Imagine a power structure centered around one man for the past 22 years, with most important government functions under his ambit, and now a successor who is unwilling to wield the full might of his position.

Then imagine a young upstart politician circumventing old power structures riding on the successor's position with an ambition to emerge as the sole power in BN. And then imagine how this young man and the 'old man' are both circumventing the old order of things internally and externally. Will there be signs of collapse? Will there be a split in the party? Will that be a good thing? I'm no political scientist, so someone should tell me.)

The only good to have come out from all this is that the current incumbent is forced to offer willing sacrifices to the public. Whether this means the castigating of a Mohd Said or the dissolution of an ECM Libra, you can be sure that the political horse-trading is carrying on with a renewed earnest.

Which, of course, begs the question: is the new-found transparency and accountability for real, or is it put up in contradistinction to the excesses of the Mahathir government? I suppose only time will tell if we are at the brink of a substantive change after 22 years of political hegemony.


It was perhaps because of the brewing instability in the government that clampdowns are now popular. I remember the more infamous ones: Badawi declaring the Approved Permit issue "closed"; Najib offering compensation to Moorthy's widow, declaring the issue "closed"; Badawi declaring the Inter-Faith Commission "unnecessary", and the issue therefore "closed"; Badawi, after lengthy non-explanations from his ministers, declaring the bridge issue "closed"; Badawi, citing possible religious and racial tensions, declaring the issue of Article 11 and 121(1A) "closed". The latest, and most 'earth-shaking', of course, were warnings that bloggers face "closure", literally, if they talk cock.

There are several more I'm not remembering, but you get the point. I must admit that I've never, in the space of a year, witnessed so many issues forced to "close". I should feel elated that efforts have stepped up to bring issues usually swept beneath the carpet into the light. I feel ambivalent, however. In the light of the political shenanigans of old man Mahathir and not-so-old Badawi, I can't help but feel that the aforementioned clamp-downs were more the result of political expedience rather than real concern; you can't wage war on more than one front - to do so would be folly.

It worries me somewhat because there's no telling what a cornered (Abdullah Ahmad) Badawi will resort to. With the ever present threat of the government resorting to Emergency powers (which, if you don't know, are still in effect) without the necessary oversight only means that these powers can be wielded at will. This is especially scary when will to survive overrules good sense.

What's even more worrying is how these clamp-downs by the government have affirmed, if implicitly, the opinions of the religious-right, especially on contested issues. Issues that would be best served if discussed have been unceremoniously squashed beneath blanket declarations for even less meaningful reasons. This sort of sanction only assures the religious-right of the veracity of their opinions, when these opinions cannot withstand the force of objective discourse.

For victims of this implicit sanction, look no further than NST's Sunday 27 June 2006 column by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar. I hope you don't think I'm melodramatic when I say that Mr Malik is, to me, the face of Malaysia today after 49 years of independence: living under the threat of final dissolution. When I first heard about death threats against Mr Malik, I thought I was reading something out of an absurdist comedy.

Death threats. The very phrase stifles dialogue, emasculates speech and paralyzes thought. With one anonymous declaration circulated via email, sms and through fliers, the issues of apostasy and the Constitution suddenly lose their meaning. What meaning remains? None. Religion? Why, religion is mud and all talk is more mud and God is mud when you're threatened with death. Why mud? Because when men are willing to resort to taking another's life for what that person thinks or declares, then they've chosen to wallow in the mud like animals.

I shudder when I imagine happy-faced murderers wielding knives.

More than anything, the figure of Mr Malik speaks eloquently of the fragility of civil society in Malaysia. It's funny that 49 years after independence, we're no closer to having a real voice, and a society willingly tolerant of discourse. Perhaps things are starting to change for the better. After 49 years, it's about bloody time.

There is an interesting bit to the myth of Damocles and that infamous sword. I'm sure you've caught it by now: it was Damocles' ignorance of the threat hanging above him that allowed him to enjoy his short-lived revels in the court of King Dionysius.

So on Merdeka day, I will watch the floats, and the dancers and the marching men and women in uniforms on television. I'll watch and wonder and wait.

DESIDERATA: I'm still in deep thoughts over xpyre's write; luckily, like him, I'm NOT expired. Inspired. May add my thoughts later in the day.

Meanwhile I hope my EsteemedReaders engage this fiendish Guest Blogger (add the R somewhere later) while I go R&R a byte. ~~ Desi

PS: DESIDERATA rejoins CONVERSATION with xpyre @11.35PM:

It's just another 25 minutes to the dawning of my country's 49th birthday -- but I don't feel the festive air that normally precedes such an important milestone. Instead, the atmosphere is thick with "doom and gloom", and what's reported Screenshots today does not help to lift the unpleasant sensesurrounds. I bumped into xpyre at the Post where JeffOoi pressed the DELETE key the most number of times since I started visiting his abode some two years ago. Incidentally, xpyre also left his footprint there, and I advise my ER here to spend Merdeka Day getting educated over this INCIDENT -- it has longterm implications for ALL BLOGGERS, and I may soon be activating my Word Verification...after several deferments and much reluctance.

I expressed my "regrets" to Jeff over the outcome of the "shoot the (I won't dignity to state name of senior journalist at MSM)... for good" episode, originating from a Commenter Ilmran who already expressed "Apologies" for causing such unforeseen drama and IMHO, "over-reaching" from the main protagonist who lodged a complaint with the autorities which then held a "mediation" hearing involving Jeff. The outcome was that Jeff had to register publicly the "Apologies" by Ilmran, again.

I reprise my Comment left at Jeff's, with some slight editing, mainly typos:

"Jeff (and to Ilmran2):

All along I have said It was a case of Much Ado Over Nothing. I still hold that opinion -- but I salute you, Jeff, and Conversationist Ilmran, for being gentlemen extending the APologies.

To me, a Blogger inspired by "M.blogsworld sifu" Jeff to start 2 Ides of March ago, the Outcome marks a BLACK DAY FOR THE POTENTIAL 5TH ESTATE in NegaraKu, definitely an affirmation of the poor state of affairs, particularly its senior practictioners in the likes of Guna (I hesitated using the 'ilk of' so that Jeff has less 'editing" to belabour...Sorry, did I digress?)of the 4TH ESTATE here! coming just a day before 49th Hari Merdeka. I feel sad.

Just part with these lines from another sifu Max Ehrmann:

"I Go My Way

Al round is haste, confusion, noise.
For power and wealth men stretch the day
From dawn till dusk. But quietly
I go my way..."

"May peace and progress be on Us -- Our NegaraKu --despite ...
I.S. A:men."

This episode, especially its afterath, is associated with xpyre's point that ~~"
Which, of course, begs the question: is the new-found transparency and accountability for real, or is it put up in contradistinction to the excesses of the Mahathir government? I suppose only time will tell if we are at the brink of a substantive change after 22 years of political hegemony.

I had expressed at some forums that the recent "Springtime of openness in media -- both MSM and online -- reporting, could turn out to be an ILLUSSION than a permanent REALITY". This landmark episode involving JeffOoi is a precursor of worse measures to come -- So on the Eve of Hari Merdeka, Desi said his Prayer (I.S. A:...) and now joins xpyre in his refrain ~~

"So on Merdeka day, I will watch the floats, and the dancers and the marching men and women in uniforms on television. I'll watch and wonder and wait."

I hear the clock striking Midnight, and I don't see Cinderella rushing out of the Ballroom. No, there is no silver carriage awaiting to take poor Desi back to "They live happily ever after"-land. NegaraKu, Quo Vadis?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu: The Honourable Schoolboy

When I "happened" on this Malaysian based in London, I wasn't even sure which gender I would put (him/her/either) as s/he did not feature any distinguishing photo in his Profile. Flagging off as personal characteristics of "Sensitive plus Introvert", Desi does NOT buy personal promo stuff, especially with students who have had the benefit of overseas edu (thuis of course can be interpreted as a compliment or a criticism of a bad trait. it's the property of the acquirer).

I'm using some DDC speak today because when one reads Sensitrovert, he's often throwing red herrings and sneaking coy moves buried in one-liners and many suggestive pictures bordering on phonography -- and most controversial of all, he jumps to making inferences quite startling. "Startling" is an understatement; on some Starry, Starry Nights, one would even label him UPSTART. The closet/closest Desi got to was Bardist.

I had occasion to register vehement protest -- over his quantum jumps in logic, and most times, he returned the favour with "elegant silence", eloquently. This was in vogue long before Musa Hitam caught on, okay!
As a later "tit4tat" (my reading okay!), or isIT quid pro quo? whatever!-- Howsy caricatured Desi as that nerdy, bespectacled journo, and By Jove, he got IT 93% correct. The 7%-deviation was in the colour code.

For himself, his disguise is as that self-absorbed academic lost in space -- dressed in an overcoat more House than Nobel laureatte2B -- but don't ye be fooled!

Methinks he's hyper-extrovert noctournally patrolling the streets of London --or back in NegaraKu on hiatus, even looking for that "Desi" character in the alleys and byways nigh Furong or Jalan Alor, or when I visit, along Baker Street, as I try to retrace Sherlock Holmes' trails. That's my sifu in code-ism way before da Vinci came upon the dollar sin. I stay away from Oxford or Cambridge because I sirmise that's Howsy' abode - and I don't wanna trifle with The Honourable Schoolboy.He might be making that breakthrough on latest Energiser using human sweat after making out with Mimi and Nicole (this guy always believes in working Threesome!) after swimming the English Channel. I don't know where he gets his FUN-ding because he also goes MIA often in Gay Paree, and yes, at StalkHome, the most expensive city in the WWW.

The sub-title comes inspired by one John appearing tomorrow, Now let's carry-on, le Carre?

With Howsy, I'm so used to pulling his legs with him non-responding I'm sometimes perplexed how come he comes back asking for more. Is it Oliver, Olivia, Olivetti; Masochism; Oedipal; or Medusa complex driving this sensitive, not so introverted, scribe? ~~~~ Across the seven seas and many channels ~~~ My EsteemedReaders, it's your pick.

Guest Blogger:
HOWSY aka Sensitrovert

"Hi Desi,

"Sorry it took me so long to write this but here it is -- short and simple.

When (one word 'deleted' by The Editor here, can be derogatory and this place does not encourage ANY proFUNity except coming from the Furong hoRst!) Desi wants me to write an essay 'My Hari Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu', my mind went totally blank. I mean, the last essay I wrote was when I was in secondary school! Alrite, in a more serious note, maybe I'm not that articulate, I really don't know where to start with.

I guess the most popular one amongst his essay candidates would be the 'positive' discriminative and affirmative policies in Malaysia now. Talking about the creation of a common standing platform for all Malaysian citizens; the creation of Bangsa Malaysia. With this taken up, I'm going to write about other things then.

Discrimination asides, let us ask ourselves one question: 'Am I comfortable living in Malaysia?'

the term 'comfortable' could be very subjective as it depends on the threshold of wants and needs one may have. For some people, earning a meal or two, having basic amenities and not living in a war-torn country are already 'comfortable' for them. Never mind the human rights such as freedom of speech, equality, justice, etc.

For others, 'comfortable' means other 'extra' amenities such as an efficient public transport and a safe natural and physical environment besides country not being war-torn. Never mind if they work their ass-off but their taxes are used to feed the vultures.

Then comes in the third group wanting 'more' (as according to a particular DPM), such as justice, equality, freedom, liberty, and whatnot. This group cares about how their country is being run even though there is no immediate or direct concern towards them. In other words they care even though it doesn't make them immediate richer if some 'loot' are recovered from cronyism, corruption and nepotism exposes.

Ask ourselves again what do we actually want coming this far towards half a century of independence. Do we still want to belong to the very first group or the 'extreme' third group.

Last but not least, to keep my 'hari merdeka wish' short and simple, I would want the citizens to have a more informed choice and would like to take charge more of their country. If we can't depend on politicians to make changes for us, we have to stand up for ourselves then!

The three sectors I would hope the citizens to take more charge of are the IPCMC, judiciary system and the local government . This is where I hope the ombudsman system will be born. I mean, if a dictatorial Zimbabwean country even has it in their constitution, why can't we have it, since we are partially in a dictatorial country already!

That's it for now,
and wishing you all a very Happy Independance Day,
or a Happy Holiday (whatever the fulfillment it is for you),
and it will be just another working, Princess Diana-mourning Thursday here in the UK.



Sext time, when you write an Esei, Howsy ~~ Do it like a Schoolboy, starting with an Intro including a Thesis Statement, then get into the Body with red, hot contents, finally smoothly glide into the Conclusion. Now, you gave me a Beatles' Hello, Goodbye. Wella, come August 31, 2007...

The Schoolboy reminds me of my alma mater's motto:

Veni, Vidi, Vici.

And if you want to know the meaning of that, please ask Sensitrovert, The Maverick, and Anak Merdeka -- I know for sure they have a Copmmon Agenda. OtherWISE, why art they always acting in CONcert or CONsort, ioften with Desi facing their swords, or keris?

Monday, August 28, 2006

My Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu: The Maverick

mav·er·ick (mvr-k, mvrk)
1. An unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it.
2. One that refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter.
Being independent in thought and action or exhibiting such independence: maverick politicians; a maverick decision.

From TheFreeDictionary

Member of Parmiament for Johor Baru Sharir Samad has built a reputation for himself by standing out among what many of my Blogger friends have derisively named the Monkey crowd by truly speaking out the constituents' interests and aspirations. Few Malaysians would forget his lonely battle to cross Barisan Nasional line in Parliament to put aside his partisan flag to support an Opposition Motion in what he personally believed as national interest deserving to transcend UMNO line. For that he paid a price, losing the BBC shair, but forever, he stamped a mark for himself, with many calling him a Maverick.

Today's Guest sharing the Third of Merdeka Essays in my humble abode is a lecturer by profession -- soon to be a lawyer too -- and believe me, my reading is that if he maintains his focus and mission to carve a Malaysia for all Malaysians to be proud of, Desi will stand proud to declare he will be among the pioneers our Blog community to join the ranks where Sharir today sits. Or stands tall. At that august House called The Malaysian Parliament, housing the Second Estate (Ledgislature) very much in need of spirited Malaysians like Mave. He taught me about THE OLIGARCHY

Guest Blogger: Maverick SM

Poem of Merdeka

Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka!
This is shout of Independence,
from a multi community of interdependence.

49 years of Independence we look back and forth,
hoping to discover the purpose henceforth.
While we called ourselves Malaysians,
while we despair of not achieving a Malaysia for Malaysians,
while we're still being labeled by individual races instead of monolithic Malaysians,
we look forward towards a Malaysia for all Malaysians.

Fortunately there remains a modicum of intelligence and justice,
that suffice to cure any defaults of the system of injustice,
sufficient to maintain harmony and peace.

We shall remember our forefathers era,
and the shouts of Merdeka, Merdeka, and Merdeka,

to all Malaysians, be ye Maya, Indiana or Cina,
we are Malaysians in recognition of Merdeka.
Desiderata means something desired as essential,
it’s YLChong’s daily Blogging essential,
Desi wants Merdeka poem from Blogger’s with Potential
Mave had to obliged with this 49 rhyming nonsensical
to fulfil the wish of a buddy’s prudential.

49 years of Independence from Colonial masters,
beginning with Alliance rule and having UMNO as the masters,
evolving and maturing into National Front coalition integrators.

49 years and 5 prime ministers later,
having 27 million people altogether,
consisting of various races with differing religious believers,
supposedly progressing towards a common agenda.
But, alas, some prefer their own agenda,
shouting slogans and crying propaganda,
threatening to tear apart the social binder,
causing ripples and unnecessary jitter.

It thus becomes necessary to control the rupture,
to re-knit the social fabric & foster a strong culture,
to enhance co-operation and see the big picture,
so as to build a nation of peace & goodwill gesture.

Once again, we remind the people to work together,
so that we can live and work together,
sharing power means sharing a future together,
without it we will suffer altogether.

Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka!
This is shout of Independence,
from a multi community of interdependence.

49 years of Independence we look back and forth,
hoping to discover the purpose henceforth.
While we called ourselves Malaysian,
we have a choice to determine the future of the nation,
let’s not label each other as Chinese, Indian and Malay Malaysian,
we must all look forward towards a Malaysia for all Malaysians.

DESI: I would be failing if I do not say the Desiderata of My Happiness is to receive a fellow Blogger's answer to the call to celebrate NegaraKu's birthday. If we try hard enough, there is always some ray of sunshine coming through the perceived darkness. Not all is doom and gloom , I've often reminded my Y&A blog mates, especially resident abroad, -- because often the battle to overcome adversity and darkness starts with the mind, in very individual, then folows the heart's desire (desideratum) to accomplish for a higher good among fellow men and wommen. Ladies too -- Cos I know Mave and Howsy and Anak Merdeka, who from the Trio, and Desi too, are always genteel men.

I start this week leading to Our Country for All Malaysians' 49th Birthday
dedicating the spirit of

Brothers Four Lyrics -- one bloom of Happiness
for each of the next SE7EN DAYS to all Malaysians, a Daffodil ~~
Symbol of Peace and Purity and Goodwill ~~
regardless of race, colour and creed,
as brother Mave has wished for All.


I may not have mansion, I haven't any land
Not even a paper dollar to crinkle in my hands
But I can show you morning on a thousand hills
And kiss you and give you
seven daffodils.

I do not have a fortune to buy you pretty things
But I can weave you moonbeams for necklaces and rings
And I can show you morning on a thousand hills
And kiss you and give you seven daffodils.

Oh, seven golden daffodils all shining in the sun
To light our way to evening when our day is done
And I will give music and a crust of bread
And a pillow of piny boughs to rest your head.

A pillow of piny boughs to rest your head...

PS: @2.30PM after re-reading Anak Merdeka's and threaduing with Maverick's lines above, Desi jsut adds the following for discussing~~

"DESI: The last line in the "extract" from Naka Merdeka's essay on Sunday is a perennial chorus used by the ruling coalition government to retain its grip on power NO MATTER WHAT THE COST TO NEGARAKU.
I hope that our individual voices like AM (that morning light that shines) and comrade Mave will add up to a crescendo loud enough to send a message to these "so-called" national leaders TO STOP and PONDER:

Esp to the likes of UMNO Youth leaders who continue to RATIONALISE TILL DOOMSVILLE That's it alright to mave that "Keris" on the PWTC Stage
Is it patriotism to continue to continue the Form of singing NegaraKu the loudest, but in reality at Election time, play the Racist card that tends to tear the fabric of Negara Ku, including the Jalur Gemilang, apart?

Just so that you can remain to wield power, and many under the cover of national service, continue to plunder the nation's coffers... Yes, Hishamuddin Hussein and Khairy Jamaluddin -- and it's NOT acceoptable to peace-loving and rational citizens like Us here at Desi's Place and at other well-meaning Blogs ~~ such thoughts of you 15th century Melaka heroes beating the war-chests nearing 49th Hari Merdeka send shivers down our spine.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

My Merrdeka Wish for NegaraKu: AM

AM was taught us in the primary schooldays as abbreviation for anti meridien. In ordinary language usage, it stands for the period when the night -- representing darkness or lack of light or ignorance -- passes into the daylight hours when the sun brings much light, dispersing the darkness, and shedding information and knowledge.

This AM is a good metaphor to visualise the next Guest Blogger, Anak Merdeka, whose very name beholds her participation in this special National Day Project. Her close buddies call her AMoi too, and I believe hailing from Furong like this hoRst does, AM enjoys Siew Pau, Hakka Mee and Ngau Nam fun. If you aren't sure how they taste like, seek out her hospitality, which is safely assumed here! Asuured that Desi will serve piping hot tehtarik and if he can find fresh Coffee beans, would offer that latest option too. Please bring your own sugar!

The one-year-old hoRst, who must hence call Desi ko-ko -- not that drinkable type! as I'm ahead by s'x months, came highly recommended by *Maverick SM, who came highly recommended by *Howsy, and soon I realise they do have a common Agenda. When fancy strikes 'em, the trio signals Come'on to Desi to become their Reluctant D*Art.

I'm honoured to be a fellow Furonglang to AM because her writes show so much spunk and spirit, the good kind. If Malaysia can culture more such personalities, soon enough NegaraKu would join the ranks of countries featuring a woman Prime Minister, I hope before we reach the mid-21st century mark.

If I had to choose a debating team member, I'd rather have Anak Merdeka on my side than her being comrade to the other two *Musks.I apologise to some ER if I'm indulging in some DDC; it's good to workthe brains a little so that Malaysian brains won't become th top choice for potential brain transplant seeds, as one local Universiti did once hold that distinction.

I welcome Anak Merdeka's reflection on several key issues our NegaraKu must face with daring and care. I urge my EsteemedReaders to engage this spirited Malaysian to show her she's not alone in her quest for a peaceful and progressive Malaysia.

Guest Blogger: ANAK MERDEKA

Happy Merdeka, Happy 1st Anniversary

One year.

Here I am talking about the upcoming "Hari Kemerdekaan ke-49" celebrations
on 31 August 2006.

Oh, before I go on, happy 1st anniversary to myself on!
I finally made it - crossed the first year hurdle despite some apprehension
and doubt about whether I want to continue putting in time and effort to
maintain this self-serving rant-filled platform.

Looks like I still got some steam to let off before I call it a day. :-)

Coming back to this topic, I am rather ambivalent about my feelings towards this 49th Merdeka. I guess I'm feeling this way because I don't see the
country moving forward in any meaningful way in terms of how we are progressing as a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.

The past year has seen an attempt to disengage noble efforts to create the
space for meaningful dialogue and understanding between Muslims and
non-Muslims in a non-confrontational manner in this blessed country.

Looks like we are still unable to break down barriers formed by a stubborn
section of our society bent on maintaining certain status quo. I can only
presume that the fear to engage stems from the misguided notion that it
would invariably erode their current status of having the "upper hand" in
playing the religious card whenever the need arises during times of
political upheaval.

Sisters in Islam wrote a succinct letter published in The SUN on 16 August 2006 (@ p18):-


Don't suppress dialogue

SISTERS in Islam regrets that the organisers of the
5th International Malaysian Studies Conference held at
UPM recently felt pressured to cancel the panel on
Religion, Interfaith and National Unity.

We share Prof. Datuk Abdul Rahman Embong, President
of the Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM)'s
valid concern that certain developments of late are
taking a toll on academic freedom, and have grave
implications on the free flow of ideas and academic

This emerging trend in suppressing the right to
openly discuss matters concerning the public is
disheartening, especially as it is being imposed on
those who are merely peacefully practising their
constitutional rights - freedom of speech, assembly
and association (Article 10) and freedom of religion
(Article 11). This is in contrast to the continued,
unfettered dissemination of wrongful information
and malicious rumours, as well as the formation of
groups by those who intend to silence such open


There's not much anyone can do about this without serious political will
from those who wield the power to look beyond the selfish motives of a few
who are too short-sighted to see further into the future for the common good
of all.

These people fail to realise the need to discard certain mentalities in order to survive in an increasingly modern and technologically-advanced world that simply would not respect narrow-minded agendas.

I have a thought: is it conceivable that in the year 2020, Malaysia can
still practise open discrimination in the form of race-based quotas and
privileges without being seen as political and social pariahs in the eyes of
the world community?

That's another mere 14 years to go, during which time, we will probably see advances in science & technology making giant leaps forward, while we are still stuck in some black & white cinematic mode.

I'm going to forget about how I feel on this day because someone might just
accuse me of harping on eternally unpatriotic feelings whenever the subject
of unity in the context of Bangsa Malaysia crops up.

***Regardless of what the Information Minister says, I'd like to believe that it is precisely my love for this country and my patriotism that inspired me to start this blog and drives me to continue writing even though I sometimes get a bit sick and tired of local goings-on. The time spent updating my blog is more meaningful to me as a Malaysian than mere waving of the Jalur Gemilang once a year.> ****

And before I forget, thanks to KJ (Khairy Jamakuddin, UMNO Youth deputy chief) for the timely Merdeka reminder - racism is thriving under the Youth banner. I can expect to continue with my forced patriotic duty as the bogeyman for the survival of UMNO. Just don't expect me to die for your cause, if that's not asking too much.

There I go again. Selamat Hari Kemerdekaan ke-49 to
all my fellow Malaysian bloggers & readers.
I wish you peace and happiness until we celebrate our
50th milestone next year.

And err ... I'll wave the flag here, and hope Zam appreciates it!>


Firstly, let's us wish this vocal and focused Anak Merdeka ::Happy First Anniversary::, and Many Happy Returns!.

Curious about her birthday -- Sorry, a slip here, her Blog's birthday, I peeped at the Post relevant to the budding. I reprise one point about "Patriotism" that AMoi wrote on that happy September morn, an inevitable topic bandied about in silly fashion by many UMNO leaders whenever the country's birthday anniversary approaches. ~~

Why the need to show proof (of one's patriotism)? I guess it is because year in and year out, we have a Minister of Information who had to scold and chide the public for not displaying our Jalur Gemilang in our houses, cars, offices, what nots. Seems to me that, just as it is with our society which paid great value on appearances as proof of your religious and moral convictions, the same goes to our BIG BROTHER that you are less patriotic if you do not fly the national flag come Merdeka Day. Never mind that some of the biggest flag fliers are tax defaulters, corruptors, racists, etc. There I go again.

I would like to believe that we are all loyal patriotic citizens who would do anything to ensure that Malaysia remains a peaceful and stable country. The most obvious proof is in the results of each General Election. Much as we dislike some of our politicians who contribute nothing to the betterment of our society other than remaining loud mouthpieces of their political masters who aim to secure their grip on the country by playing THE winning racial card all the time, we continue to vote them in each time.

Does this not at least score us some brownie points where patriotism is concerned?
How much more patriotic can we be when we continue to elect you guys who demean and humiliate us with kris and various racist agendas?
All we want to do is to live peacefully in our country of birth, that is why we are not rocking the boat just yet.

Yes, I also guess that the same old threats of May 13 each general election season does work wonders in sending shivers down our spine too."

***“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” ~~ Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)****

Saturday, August 26, 2006

My Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu: ALLofHELEN

When Desi first laid eyes on her, more factually, it was her right hand, with another's beside it -- it was in a church in Ipoh on a Sunday where I had wandered to seek shelter, being quite a lost soul. Their pair of hands were lonely twigs in answer to the Pastor's question: Who among you do not speak in tongue?

After subsequent visits to, I sense a homey abode where her friends, and fans, gather to chat, chat up, chat to, chat into, yes chatter too, creating such a din outsiders may miss the red humour amidst the din and dine and wine. Some lucky visit yields an insight into Helen's persona -- like that hand-raising sign of independence that struck Desi 'drop dead' (Gorgeous!), some weird occasions this Furonglang feels he's either watching some Ipoh operetta I couldn't fully grasp, or feeling quite a voyeur. Later, you go visit and feedback Desi about your reactions.

Meanwhile, ENJOY Helen's Merdeka Thoughts and hey, engage in conversation with Helen, my dear EsteemedReaders, for this joint hoRst offers thee pastries besides taking ye for a ride. Desi as usual will offer intermittent tehtarik until the H2O runs out...


by Guest Blogger ALLofHELEN

You know what I look forward every August when I turn on the TV? It has to be those Merdeka Day advertorials. Yes, those in nostalgic black and white. I must say, the quality is getting better every year. The music score, the choreography and the actors who look so ordinarily ordinary, you almost mistook them for your neighbours. I always ended up teary eyed. The warm fuzzy feeling embracing the heart is so nice it's embarassing.

Well, as all good things in life are short, fuzzy feel lasted less than a minute and then the sense of indignation set in. "Playing with my feelings issit??"

My old man said it's because I'm lucky to have been born after Merdeka.
"You people never went through the Japanese occupation, the fight for independence, Communists and May 13. Of course you don't feel the importance of August 31."
That's what my father said but in all due respect to my old man, he's been through all that... but he's no more enthusiastic than me on the Big Day. He's the one happily watching Wai Lai Toi instead of those Jalur Gemilang processions, got into a big fight with my mother when my mother wanted to stick the free flag she got from one detergent company onto the car.

"Crazy, the flag will spoil the car paint!"

I of course do not think my indifference is due to the fact I've not been through all these with my country. If that is the case, then countries like USA and Australia which had their independence more than a century ago will run out of patriots.

It never ceased to amaze me when I hear people say no matter what, they still love this country. Gosh, these folks have my respect. Standing ovation too. I guess many are not as generous with their affection, myself included. I cannot speak for all, but I had to confess I cannot be as unconditionally loving as others. I suspect I being so sadly ordinary, there's bound to be many folks who share my sentiments.

No offense, love is a 2 way thing. You invest your affection in something, and in return, you expect some sort of gratification if not total return of the same. Right?
Unless I see some returns, I won't use the L word. Having said that, I won't put 'love' inside the box either because I reckon many can love out of necessity as well. Afterall, everybody is on the same boat.
You don't want the boat to sink, right?
Circumstances are such we need to work together to keep the boat afloat. That's it. It's strictly a survival thing.

I've not seen any those highly anticipated National Day Patriotic Ads this year. Probably I don't watch as much TV as I used to. Deep inside, I hope they change the theme a bit because something is amiss.

Year in year out it's to the past we're looking up to for unity and inspiration. It's like Malaysia's National Day is forever immortalized in the form of Tunku standing there shouting "Merdeka, Merdeka..." and the sense of pride of the rakyat (regardless you are Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc) from a different time and different era. Hey, you cannot continue to live off the nation's pride then almost 49 years on, right? Unless new pride is instilled into the present, it's really getting dry.

PS: This post is for my favourite poet. The one and only one I know. ;-(

(Essayed by Helen at 6:46 PM, Friday, August 11, 2006)


That PS! She mis-takes, should read altogether now~~

PLEASE SHOUT! Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!
Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! MERDEKA!

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” ~~ Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

PS (quid pro quo) @4.34PM

Another facet of AllOfHelen you soon enough have a peek (peep?) of is her poetic bent in Bahasa Malaysia and some innucendoes which can turn the uninitiated from rd indian red to lobster red -- even commie red! -- like this ditty expressed in bahasa kebangsaan. I have a feelin' even our demanding Minister of Information might be mighty proud of her -- nominate a DAP supporter for Datinship? If not, Desi can suggest a Latin-ship -- befitting a modern Troy beaut with hand-hair-head waves and a Poetic Face that can rival RMN's thousand ships?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Puisi Tag


Hari Kebangsaan minggu depan
Bendera besar dirumah sudah pasang
Jiran sebelah tengok sudah hairan
Tanya if abang saya MCA mia orang

Saya cakap kita bukan itu parti mia orang
Dan husband lebih sokong Lim Kit Siang
Lagipun kita bukan main politik mia orang
Lebih suka dibilik main lain 'barang'

Tahun ini merdeka macam kurang meriah
Suasana dan mood macam kurang ada
Semua barang sudah naik harga
Hanya gaji yang tetap sama

Faedah tinggi era 90-an sudah tiada
Tak tahu macam mana boleh bersara
Nasib baik internet dan blogging masih ada
Harap garmen jangan kacau ini juga!


Wow, I amazed myself. See, I don't get an '8' in my SPM for my BM for nothing!

Malaysia Boleh!! *muaks*

posted by Helen at 9:35 PM

DESI: If my imagination ran wild, I might have to desert this Seremban post for the capital of Perak, but for all the gold and silver in that blog, I have a higher duty to stand sentry at the gates of Negri Semmbilan.

Sampai darah patriot ini menukar dari warna merah ke biru,
Sampai bila masa tu, you tanya kepten saya, Anak Merdeka, yang mesti restu.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Merdeka Essay Series: Prelude

Desi's Place was proud to host a six-part Merdeka Day Essay Series in 2005 with the theme, The Malaysian Dilemma. Young&Articulate Guest Bloggers Sabrina, now final year Dentistry student in New Zealand, Kyels, first year student in International Business & Finance in Kuala Lumpur, and Mitochondria, an IT specuialist based in Kuala Lumpur, helped Desi review the state of affairs NegaraKu was in then 12 months ago, and the main challenges and problems confronting the 48-year-old nation. Some solutions and hopes were expressed and put forward.

With seven days to go before Malaysia turns 49, another bold attempt is made by fellow Bloggers to continue this National Day Project -- hopefully it becomes an annual tradtion as long as this Blog thrives, which I had vocalised allowed Desi will continue even if only there were just one reader! -- and we thought it worthwhile endeavour to pen our individual thoughts on "My Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu".

The Series will flag off tomorrow with AllOfHelen's highly personal and nostalgic recall of her younger days (she's as young as ever, if not more so in outlook and spirit!) when Merdeka Day comes around.

Anak Merdeka will follow on Sunday looking at more serious contemporary happenings that call for concern and reflection, and hopefully, remedial responses and actions from the relevant authoprities. But all citizens have a stake in what's happening in NegaraKu, so it's every individual's contribution, no matter how big or small, will play its part in achieving some reform and improvement to any weaknesses in the Malaysian system.

In hand is a 49-verse Poem by another Bardist as'pirant Maverick SM (maybe, resulting from some influence of this hoRst Desiderata who likes to 'irrify'-- a combo meaning irritate and terrify! -- the writer with some doses of DDC, and knotty Poetry) to lift up our bluesy spirits come Monday.

Hopefully, the third member making up the "Trio" with the precedent duo mentioned, Howsy, based in London, is sensitive enough to realise his introvertedness is no passport for missing the National Day action. Patriotism calls ... even if London bridge is fallin' down... Malaysians need to build more bridges at home.

I urge my ER to bear with Desi while he recaps a little on what was writ in conjunction with the inaugural Essay Series examining The Malaysian Dilemma. Part 6 (Final) featured on August 31, 2005 summarised the main areas covered by the four writers.

The Rukunegara Principles Reviewed

The five principles adopted by NegaraKu for nation-building are generally comprehensive and form a good compass for steering this country towards developed nation status in 15 (now 14) years hence, in 2020. These five principles are the pillars constituting the RUKUNEGARA, which are as follows:

• Belief in God (Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan)
• Loyalty to King and Country (Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara)
• Supremacy of the Constitution (Keluhuran Perlembagaan)
• Rule of Law (Kedaulatan Undang-undang)
• Mutual Respect and Morality (Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan)

Desi: The main dilemma is that the implementaion of many national programmes deviates substantially from the spirit as envisaged in the Rukunegara, giving rise to lots of unhappiness and distress. The current Administration's advocation of a cleaner, more accountable and transparent government sees a big gap between the expressed intentions and the actual implementation.

The Four Estates Not Performing to Expectations

The First Estate or The Executive is seen by the majority of Malaysians as being omnipotent in Malaysia.

The Second Estate or The Legislature (comprising the Parliament and State Assemblies) is generally dominated by the ruling parties (Barisan Nasional in all states except Kelantan where PAS forms the ruling State government), with a relatively weak, and fragmented, Opposition.

The Third Estate or The Judiciary remains emasculated (aftermath of the 1988 infamous sacking of the Lord President and two senior Judges), and still perceived to be indirectly controlled by the head of government of the day.

The Fourth Esate or The Media (Press) remains docile and subservient to the Establishment, and restricted by the Printing Presses and Publications Act(PPPA1984), and their ownership generally tied to Government component parties/Corporates with partisan political patronage ensure they toe the Establishment line in the main.

Desi: There are signs today of the Judiciary standing up now, and fighting to restore its glorious past pre-1988, and the current situation is in great flux. There is quiet optimism and much depends on the Prime Minister's commitment on what he has advocated for an independent and fair system of delivery of justice as ensured by the Federal Constitution.

The Essay Series also covered some anecdotes of A RELUCTANT MALAYSIAN, the usual (Surprise, surprise! "cynical") responses to government leaders' appeals in encouraging the citizens to fly the “Jalur Gemilang”, individual encounters of "racial" discrimination and confrontation, and unhappiness among the youths, especially tertiary students, over discrimination in the areas of university entrance and scholatrships awards, over being treated with respect even less than that accorded to illegal immigrants to Malaysia...

Many quarters have given different reactions, as expected as there would always be different opinons as to What does Merdeka symbolise and mean to individual Malaysians. We are still compartmentalised into Malay, Chinese, Indian and other less dominant ethnic groups such as Kadazan, Iban from Sarawak/Sabah, and the Orang Asli, truly the original natives of the land. And the discrimantive polices like the New Economic Policy, continued under different nomenclature like The New Development Policy continue to give rise to quetions on the relevance of extending the special position and privileges of certain groups along ethnic lines, some 35 years after the initial implementation.

I hope -- better sooner than later -- that one day Malaysians will be able to fly the “Jalur Gemilang” with spontaneity -- minus the loud exhortations of the Information and other Ministers! -- with all their pride and natural feelings of nationalism. Current feedback shows a large section of Malaysians remains sceptical. We have definitely long way to go before we can claim to being a United Nation (Negara Bersatu).

But while Politicians and local politics carry on their usual grandstanding and shallow polemics, the march of Globalisation might do for NegaraKu that which the nation's leaders have so far failed, and will not commit to deliver anytime soon, and hence they lose the leaderhip and initiative by default.

Will the world pass Malaysia by?
While we quarrel over numbers and quotas. Over privileges and bounties.
While our neighbours cut through all the crap to march forward, by leaps and bounds?

Suddenly, one day, will many Malaysians wake up, and find themselves modernised Rip Van Winkles? Because we, especially the nation's leaders elected to guide the way, fail to adapt and act selflessly, in the national interest, in tandem with ever and fast changing times and environments...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I.S.A. comes in 2 versions

Often I have teased my ER with ending on an I.S.A.
I Say Amen is to close my personal "prayer" that all be well with me, my friends, my country.

On the more serious version, I had written that the Government had used this piece of legislation most times wrongly. The "wrong" target. Meanwhile, the internal security of the nation is compromised, on several fronts. See whether you get the message. If not, then I guess the MSM is justified in treating some of you as kindie...

Today's write is an occasion where both versions of ISA apply.

Yesterday's Post on Worrying Trend3 did not spell out explicitly what the trend was. I say it now -- The worry is about the increasing violence in this country, both in incidence and in magnitude, and penetrating even to least expected areans -- threatening a lawyer no less, to 'take his life'!

Many fellow Malaysians are voicing the fear of venturing out into the street at the capital cities/towns at night. Whether in Kuala Lumpur, or Seremban, or Georgetown, or Johor Baru. Sibu or Kota Kinabalu. Robbers would kill just for a few hundred bucks, or at the slighest sign of resistance. Snatch thefts turning into manslaughter. Hit-and-run accidental deaths, and certain parties want to emrace Mat Rempit as "Cemerlang" products. I wrote about "Angelising Demons, Is It Possible?"

Is our Government so out of touch with the pulse of the nation and its people that they don't see the woes of the Rakyat on the ground. Are these leaders cursed with eyes that do not, or would not, see?

I often do not treat my readers as what most MSM (according to fellow blogger Howsy, MSM ismainstream media)sometimes do -- treat their readers as if they were kindie kids. well, even the MB of the most developed State in NegaraKu does it often enought, so is it surprising?

So boys and girls, turn to page 12 of theSun, August 24, 2006:

Suhakam: Probe Sabah
populatiion boom

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
(Suhakam) called on the government yesterday to investigate Sabah's 362%
population rise, compared with Sarawak, since 1970.

Suhakam believes the extraordinary increase in bumiputera citizens the
past 30 years was the cause of the population boom.

At a press briefing on a half-day roundtable on "Human rights and citizenship ­ its impact on economic, social and cultural rights" held in Kota Kinabalu on July 31, Suhakam commissioner Datuk Choo Siew Kioh said:

"If the problem of foreign immigrants is not investigated and timely addressed from at least the human rights perspective, serious cultural and religious conflicts may arise in the state, with repercussions in peninsular states.

"Allegations that non-citizens could easily obtain Malaysian identity cards with false statutory declarations should be investigated."

Choo said prolonged delay in resolving the problems may affect adversely the civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights of genuine citizens of Sabah.

He said the roundtable provided an excellent opportunity for the National Registration Department state director and state immigration director to clarify government policies and provide answers.

"Despite the ample notice given to them to present papers, it is disappointing that they chose to shun us," he said.

Another Suhakam commissioner, Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, said "we are finalising a report to be submitted to the Home Ministry before the end of September".

Is this a case of some parties in NegaraKu selling out Malaysia's sovereignty?

Desi, as an ordinary warganegara, sees it his duty to ask some pertinent questions.
My credo of patriotic feelings for my homeland -- my birthplace, my beloved land where I'll live and soon enough, die in one day not too soon -- is expressed via Mark Twain's advocation:

"PATRIOTISM is supporting your country all the time, and the Government when it deserves it."

Dear Anak Merdeka, for thy Essay received with pride this morning, I wave thee my "imaginary" flag of patriotism. Many don't need eyes to be able to see -- it's that blessed thing called "with the heart". Terima kasih, fellow country lady.

To other ER/mGf, just update that I'm flagging off the Merdeka Day Essay Series from tomorrow with a Flashback to 2005's inaugural attempt, followed on Saturday with
AllOfHelen's happy recollections; and Anak Merdeka's Sunday reflection in place of Desi's normal Inter:Lude. Others who have touched base are Howsy and Xpyred; I know a few others dare out openly commit but still having mixed feelings about penning down their thoughts. Hey, even "mixed" sentiments about our Natuional Day are okay. Life's not all a bed of roses.

Welcome thee and "My Merdeka Wish for NegaraKu"
with tehtarik, plus Miss Sunthi,
I have added on Coffee as another optional offering,
Black, White or topped with Rose-cinoserie
...oso cun.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


A piece that should have been delivered yesterday.
Not to worry, I'm still around -- though one of my ER has been sending me "mysterious" comments which I can't fathom their relationship to my Posts. And strangely, these "comments" were received as "replicates" (records) at my Email, but NOT AT MY POST COMMENT CHANNEL!
QUESTION: Any other bLogger using Blogger.Com experiencing this X-File phenomenon?
Mave SM -- help me DEsi-pher this X-Conundrum. You owe me this One!

On Worrying Trend3, I decided NOT TO PROCEED with THAT original sighting after much reflection. It's just too controversial, and yes, IT touches on Religion (a terrortry which I had indicated several times, I'm reluctasnt to tread!) And Ethnicity. Indirectly something very much on the airwaves and print mileage -- Patriotism.This last mentioned I can write at length, but it would be boring like last year's record playing as August 31 approaches. And I don't wish to add to lots of nonsense being bandied about. Year-in year-out close to Merdeka Day, so I won't dignify with any elaboration but pull out just this quote:

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
~~ Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

I spent some time to pen a substitute Worrying Trend3, but had to "delay" 24, hope you are patient; as I had preached often here, Miss Patience is Virtuous. Maybe even Virginal.

from the NST, 22 Aug 2006

Poster shameful, says Bar Council

KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council has condemned the circulation of a poster calling for the death of lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

Malik had held a watching brief on behalf of the Malaysian Bar in the appeal case of Lina Joy.

Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh said the poster was aimed at intimidating, threatening and oppressing a member of the Bar while discharging his role as a lawyer.

"Our justice system demands that parties be given the right to be heard. Hence, it is the duty of every advocate and solicitor to present and state his client’s case without fear or favour as it is under the protection of our courts that a lawyer is able to advance his client’s case, no matter how unpalatable his argument may appear to other parties."

Lina Joy or Azlina Jailani is appealing to the Federal Court to have the word "Islam" removed from her identity card as she is said to have embraced Christianity.

Describing the circulation of the poster as "shameful", Yeo said it was also an assault on the fundamentals of the nation’s justice system.

He called on the authorities to launch an immediate investigation to identify the parties responsible.

"Malaysian society must reach to show that there is no room for death threats or any similar acts of intimidation in our society."

DESIDERATA: Just one line of comment -- commending lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar for his commitment to his professional duty, of course, supported by the Bar Council. Now I must cut down on my "denigrationg" jokes on members of the Bar; may switch to the other bar. Or am I barred? Nowadays, bloggers aren't too sure of their territory.

Now I bring you another item from a far neighbour, but relevant to ponder at same time, via Asia Business Consulting: (Desi took care of a few 'obvious' typos,italicised thus, okay!)~~~

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Taking the law into your own hands - cyber violence and threats

Is it because we believe that there is not enough police around to arrest a culprit? Is it that we believe we can judge someone easily on the Internet because we can hide in the anonymity of the Internet? Is it because there is a sense of lawlessness that is haunting us?

How come that Internet users believe that they can simply threaten someone who has done something wrong, according to their opinion?

A new case of cyber-hunting (word created by me) has occurred in Korea, where the number of Complaints filed with the government's Korea Internet Safety Commission more than doubled to 42,643 last year from 18,031 in 2003.

"A 30-year-old accountant named Kim Myong Jae became the No. 1 hate figure of South Korea's huge Internet community. People who believed that he had killed his girlfriend flooded his cell phone with threats and vicious messages, while a wide variety of mean-spirited rumors were posted on blogs and Web portals, where they spread quickly.

"By the time I found out the source of this outrage, it was too late. My name, address, photographs, telephone numbers were all over the Internet," Kim said. "Tens of thousands of people were busy sharing my identity and discussing how to punish me. My name was the most-searched phrase at portals," Kim stated.

This is just one of the revealed cases in Korea but it surely contradicts the common statement that one is innocent until proven guilty.

(Asia Business Consulting)
posted by JM @ 3:09 PM

And from The Star,
August 22, 2006

Better to jaw-jaw than war-war

PETALING JAYA: Learning and knowing other languages can help reduce and solve problems and conflicts in the world today as it will create better understanding between people, according to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former premier said, with better communication, people could reduce conflicts that lead to wanton killings.

“The most civilised way is to learn the language of others. Imagine US President George W. Bush speaking in Arabic to Osama bin Laden (the al-Qaeda leader), explaining the problems of America, and Osama explaining the problems that he faces,” Dr Mahathir said in his speech at the International Seminar on Multimedia Adventures in Language Learning here yesterday.

“Then both would be able to perhaps settle their problems, and chat with each other.”

The two-day seminar was organised by the Institute of Modern Languages and Communication (IMLC) of the Multimedia University.

Also present was Dr Mahathir’s wife and MMU Chancellor Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.

Dr Mahathir stressed that it was very important in today’s world to learn other languages, besides one’s mother tongue, saying it was much easier to learn new languages today with the advancement of technology.

He also said that the problems related to learning a language like English were different from one country to another.

He shared his experience while onboard a flight to Japan many years ago.

“The steward made an announcement ... 'have a good fright' (flight),” Dr Mahathir said, adding that Japanese had problems pronouncing the letter 'L'. – Bernama

DESIDERATA: Chinoserie, like their Japanese counterparts, also have difficulty in differentiatiation "r" and "l" pronunciation! Say "ellor" for 'error'. Repeat "Tellor" for 'terror' after Desi please. "The prane has landed safely, now you can bleathe. "

For once, I'm 100% with ex-PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on this one.
See, we must go with the issues, THE SONG, not the personality, THE SINGER.
This last inference is directed as a soft reminder to my Esteemed brudder named Sensitrovert writHing in London, and I don't even 'no' him.

Just to soothe some nerves on WedNURSEday, a day primed for Woes, I part with a gem from my Sifu -- No, not JeffOoi, but Max Ehrmann ~~


Work well doneand its just reward,
sunshine, rest and love -- these are the
desiderata of happiness. I one fashion or
another we see them somewhere afar
in our path; and the vision keeps us uin good
humour with the world and with
ourselves/ "Sometime," we say, "we shall
come to our own -- sometime." And
meanwhile life grows stiller and stiller,
rebellion settles to submission, great
ambitions turn to simple things. Though we
have been roughly awakened from
the intoxication of youth's enchanted
visions, if we have learned our lesson well,
may we still find a cheering ray of light
in the shadows of evening, and go with calm
faces among our neighbours and our friends.