Sunday, December 27, 2009

Soaring focus on the RMAF

NOBODY can just cart two heavy jet plane engines out of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base, send them to Port Klang and then ship them to a third country. The jet engines ended up in Argentina.

The RMAF surely does not expect us to believe that the scam, no, the theft, does not involve high-ranking officials.

The engines are said to weigh 200kg each and a crane would be needed to put them on a lorry to take them out.

There is a perception among Malaysians that there are moves to downplay this traitorous act by blaming it on some low-ranking officers and absolving the bigwigs of blame.

Certainly, no one would be convinced that a small band of low-rung corporals are able to plan the entire logistics of finding a buyer, stealing the engines and shipping them off.

The engines are sophisticated machines and only those with extensive knowledge of their functions and worth would be able to pull off such a despicable act.

And even if it is true that some clever low-ranking officers were capable of pulling off this theft, the head of some top officials should roll for allowing this fiasco to take place.

Read the rest of On The Beat here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A very blessed Christmas and a Wonderful New Year

Wishing all Christian surfers a Very Blessed Christmas. And wishing ALL surfers a Very Wonderful 2010. May we all reach out to one another in love and pray for a Good Year to Come. God Bless You All.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No lion dance and tight clothes in Acheh

The barongsai, the Indonesian version of the lion dance

It's disappointing. When they were hit by the tsunami on Dec 26, 2000, the world came to their aid. The support came from many Chinese groups from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and many Buddhist groups in the region. Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan put in milllions to help the tsunami victims of Acheh to rebuild their lives. That's not all, without the Americans, there would have been many more casualties.

I was in Banda Acheh just days after the tsunami hit Acheh. The Americans were the most effective in delivering food and water to the victims because they had the helicopters. Most European NGOs could only sit by at the airport with the relief supplies as they had no air support. There was no way land transport could be used as the roads were already damaged by the effects of the disaster. Uncle Sam certainly saved many lives, even if the US is hated by some in Indonesia.

So, it is pretty small-minded for the authorities in Acheh to ban the local version of the Indonesian Chinese lion dance, barongsai, to mark the fifth anniversary of the Acheh tsunami disaster. See Malaysian Insider for full story.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A mere fine is not fine with us

Jail the graft offenders and confiscate their assets instead of letting them get away with a fine. To be jailed for two years is nothing if the offender gets to keep his misgotten millions.

It always looks good on paper but the difficult part is implementing proposals on improving things in the country. Public expectations are high and no one can blame Malaysians for running out of patience.

The living standards of Malaysians have basically gone down while the cost of living has shot up.

The streets are no longer safe and public confidence in the ability of our police force to protect us is eroding. Only those in denial mode will tell us that corruption has not gone out of control. It is fast in danger of becoming a way of life, very much the Indonesia and Thailand way. Our politicians can argue that it is merely a perception but try telling ordinary Malay­sians that.

Read more of my On The Beat Column here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bung Mokhtar weds Malay starlet

Is Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar getting married to sexy Malay starlet Zizie Ezette? This may seem trivial but I just got back from Parliament House and this is the hot gossip among the MPs. Every reporter is looking for the vocal, if not, outrageous MP for confirmation. There are plenty of sniggers, snide remarks and jokes among the elected representatives and the media.

Agenda Daily which broke the news has reported that many MPs have received the invitation cards for the reception tonight. Bung Mokhtar has denied the wedding but is keeping silent on a possible engagement. MStar has insisted that the two are already married. Daily Chilli got Bung Moktar's comments here. See more pictures of Zizie here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

From the heart and refreshing

IT isn’t often that we read something refreshing from our politicians. Their statements are often predictable and unexciting. If they are in Government, they are talking down to us, lecturing us or are being plain defensive.

Those in the Opposition are not exemplary either. It was thus refreshing to read a bold and honest speech by Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah (pic) last week.

The mild-mannered Perak politician, at the National Award For Management Accounting on Dec 8, struck a chord with his listeners with his openness and his admission to use the country’s plural society to push for Malaysia’s competitiveness. It is a rarity these days as many politicians prefer to make “safe speeches”.

At a time when some politicians attempt to play the racial card, believing it to be still the best way to shore up voter support, Ahmad Husni has taken a different route. “It is about time we fully exploit the potential synergy that is fully inherent in the diversity of our talent pool,” he said.

To read more of my column On The Beat, click here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Swiss in the doghouse

THE Swiss are not known for making global headlines. Like the way they run their banks, they prefer the conservative and low-key approach to handling any issue.

But they have suddenly been condemned worldwide for their decision to ban the building of minarets on mosques.

The decision, backed by the country’s far right Swiss People’s Party, is as good as banning the construction of mosques.

The advocates of this policy have equated minarets to Islamisation, with caricatures on posters showing the physical similarities between minarets and missiles.

They also argued that minarets were incompatible with the country’s political and legal systems as mosques advocated the imposition of Syariah laws.

The controversy started in the small town of Langenthal when its community of 750 Muslims applied for permission to add a minaret to its mosque. The town, with a population of 14,500, has 11 churches.

Read the rest of my column published in The Sunday Star today, here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Who are we to judge Fatine? Leave her alone!

Controversial ‘marriage’: Mohammed Fazdil or Fatine and Young posing for a photo after they were married in a civil partnership in the UK last May.

I really pity Malaysian transsexual Mohd Fadzil or Fatine. She's having a tough time trying to stay in the UK with her husband but some of us here are not making it easy for her. In fact, we seem to delight in making her life more miserable.

We judge her by questioning her moral values, with one alleging that she has tarnished the country's image. As if some of our politicians have not tarnished the country's image, whether in the country or overseas.

For God's sake, let's leave her alone. Her husband and his family are not complaining about their marriage. They have given her the blessings and she is obviously happy with her life - which she could not possibly get in Malaysia.

So, why are we doing this to her? I really hope that the UK will approve her application this time, her third attempt, under the Human Rights Act in Britain. All the negative reactions towards Fatine would actually help in her application this time. I hope she uses all those paper cuttings to back her case. It's your life Fatine, no one should tell you how to live your life!

See Star Online exclusive story.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let’s pray for understanding

YOU can download the entire Bible, whether in Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia, from the Internet. But to publish the Bible in the national language is a problem as it is restricted.

Churches that have tried to import the Bahasa Indonesia version have found it to be a hurdle too. The crux of the problem is the use of the word “Allah” in the Bible in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia versions. That has led to the current controversy over the confiscation of 15,000 Bibles in Bahasa Indonesia in recent months.

The Government and religious authorities have pointed out that it has been a long practice in Malaysia that the word “Allah” in reference to God is used only by Muslims.

For the rest of the column, please click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

PAS Youth and moral police squads

PAS Youth wants to set up moral police squads in every state. Its Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi (picture) has said they would even take off their turbans and robes for casual attire when they visit "sleazy joints" - presumably massage parlours, bars, pubs, clubs and other premises deemed immoral by PAS.

Their mission, according to Nasrudin, is to "save lost souls" and to do that, these morally righteous and super clean politicians were prepared to go to even red-light areas to reach out to youths living in a world of sin. That's a lot of sacrifices for these guys!

Even non-Muslims would be advised on the premise of morality, culture and Eastern values. Nasrudin said moral squads would be mobilised in every state to carry out anti-adultery and anti-vice campaigns. To do all these, these PAS activists would go under cover. They would try to dress like everyone else, for once. Most would still keep their beards, we presume.

Most of us would also wonder whether they have any authority and whether they would even be kicked out of these premises for being a nuisance to customers, especially pub crawlers, who just want to have their pint of beer and watch EPL matches. And if a woman is giving a decent and proper massage to a man, would they be advised to be moral?

The super-conservative PAS Youth leader called for the Beyonce concert to be banned, saying "it would erode the moral values" of the young people. We can be sure this news item would make it around the world. These guys must have not nothing else better to do.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Can Islamic issues be discussed without the permission of the religious authorities?

Lawyer Jahaberdeen wrote in his blog: Dr Mohd Asri’s recent debacle with Jais has raised very pertinent questions for the Nation as a whole. Initially reports seem to suggest that his dramatic arrest (there were almost 30 police personnel and Jais officers) concerns him delivering a lecture on Islam without a “tauliah”.

For all practical purposes, a “tauliah” will denote permission from the relevant religious authorities to lecture on “matters Islamic”. This need for permission from religious authorities before someone can speak on Islamic matters raises serious issues.

Check out this interesting take on the issue in his blog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Asri's arrest - of hidden hands and politics

Former Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has plenty of admirers. But that comes with a price - he also has many enemies. Some see him as a threat to the positions they are holding in government-financed agencies like the Yayasan Dakwah Islam (Yadim). Then, some in PAS are nervous of moves by some party elders to woo him to join the party.

In short, there are ulamaks in Umno and PAS who are feeling the heat because of his popularity. The progressive and liberal set like Zainah Anwar and Marina Mahathir openly support him and today they were in court to lend their support. The more conventional Muslim groups, including the Association of Syarie Lawyers, want him stopped. They find his ideas too progressive for them. To them, it's radical, not progressive.

But Dr Asri can be sure he has few friends in JAIS or the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department. JAIS comes under the purview of Selangor PAS chief Dr Hassan Ali. Dr Asri has complained that he has been unable to get permits to preach in Selangor, a requirement for those outside the state. He has not named names but insinuated that there is a "hidden hand" behind the arrest.

He has also openly accused JAIS of being biased but the latter has rejected the accusation. MB Khalid Ibrahim has issued a middle-of-the-road statement, without wanting to commit himself to any stand except to acknowledge that JAIS has the power.

Despite being wooed by Umno and PAS, Dr Asri is said to have been advised by Dr Mahathir Mohamad to stay neutral. He has accompanied Dr Mahathir on trips overseas and is said to have sought the advice of the former premier regularly. Read Joceline Tan's analysis on Asri.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Badrul quits PKR

Port Klang Assemblyman Badrul Hisham Abdullah has quit PKR, saying that he has lost faith in the party's leadership. Earlier, his boss, Selangor MB Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the state government has recommended to the PKR supreme council that Badrul Hisham resign from his seat for non-performance. More from Star Online here.

PKR's Badrul Hisham to quit party?

The word going around is that PKR state assemblyman Badrul Hisham is quitting the party. A press conference is said to be scheduled this evening but the Selangor MB has apparently got wind of what's coming up.

Khalid Ibrahim has issued a statement asking Badrul, who has been absent from many PKR meetings and functions, to resign. He has said the Port Klang state assemblyman has not been performing. He said a delegation would also meet Bardul to convey the message personally to the elected representative, The Star Online reported.

Badrul's appearance at the Hari Raya Open House of Klang Umno chief Mazlynoor Abd Latif recently sparked speculations that he would be quitting PKR. There is also much talk that PKR secretary-general Sallehuddin Hashim is calling it a day despite his denial. He is said to have privately expressed his frustrations, which has been reported by at least one pro-PKR blogger. Yesterday, PKR vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan quit the party after a fall-out with the leadership over the appointment of the Sabah PKR head.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Of tom yam and feuding politicians

I have just spent a few days in Bangkok with the family. I still do not know why a stressful place like Bangkok was chosen to get rid of my stress and exhaustion. But with my wife and daughter along, it was a good break. I tried staying away from the Internet. The English language newspapers in Thailand, written for farang (foreigners, read Westerners), was dead boring, so it helped me to stay away from newspapers. But it was the massage and tom yam that did wonders.

I am still on leave as I write this posting. I have missed nothing. Nothing else has changed in Malaysian politics. Politicians regardless of their political affiliations are doing what they does best - squabbling among themselves for positions. It does not seemed to matter whether they are from the MCA, MIC, PAS, PKR or Umno, the feuding is almost never ending.

We all thought we have had enough of extra ordinary general meetings but now even PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat has been bitten by the EGM bug. He has aimed his pot shots at party president Hadi Awang. Nik Aziz insist Hadi has not given up on working with Umno. His enemies have hit back at Nik Aziz saying he appointed his son in law to head the state investment arm, insisting nepotism exist in PAS too. Well, nothing is impossible anymore in Malaysian politics.

But it's one fight that Nik Aziz will not win. He has influence in Kelantan but the president's men won in the party polls. The president always has the upper hand. After all, he has the power to reward and punish. That is something the MCA rebels have realised.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don't ignore the warning signs...

The burnt-out rate is high for those who love the newsroom adrenaline. With age catching up and after the recent scare, I have to be mindful of how much my body and brain can take.

IT wasn’t karoshi, the Japanese term for death from overwork where workers die from heart attack, stress or over-exhaustion but I certainly suffered a blackout last week.

It happened on Monday when I was having a discussion with a colleague at 7.30pm after our daily evening editorial meeting to decide on the contents of the next day’s paper. It was the only time slot that we could find and I had wanted to discuss with her a simple matter – the design of the T-shirts for an upcoming event.

But shortly into our small talk, I felt my head spinning. I unbuttoned my collar to remove my necktie and complained about the heat in her room, asking for ever reliable minyak angin at the same time. My legs then turned wobbly and I started throwing up continuously. My colleague’s secretary quickly summoned for help.

I do not recall what happened subsequently – my colleagues struggling to put me into a wheelchair and bringing me down to the lobby to rush me to the hospital.

Read the rest of the column here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Deepavali

Wishing all Hindus in Malaysia and beyond a Very Happy Deepavali. May good always triumph over evil and may light always overcome darkness.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Even Fortune magazine gets censored!

We have seen how the censors ridiculously black out pictures of topless tribal women in National Geographic but even financial magazine Fortune has not been spared. My September issue of Fortune came with this shocking censorship.

On the cover is a picture of actress Mary Louise Parker, who acts as a single mother who sells weed to support her family in the hit TV series "Weed." On the right hand corner, our censor's black marker pen "censored" out something. I was not sure at first what was on it but as you can see from the cover above (which can be easily found online), what our censors found objectional turned out to be a picture of the subject matter being discussed.

The cover story is about medical marijuana and how it has been made legal in many parts of the US and Europe. There's an interview with the head of the US Drug Policy Alliance, who favours marijuana legislation on a tax-and-regulate model. Back then, he argued, the older generation of Americans did not know the difference between marijuana and heroin. "Now that generation is gone. The people in power are baby boomers, a majority of whom actually smoked marijuana."

The three past presidents, more or less admitted trying weed. Bill Clinton famously said - "I did not inhale" when asked if he had tried weed. Barack Obama, when asked if he inhaled, retorted: " I thought that was the point." Only in the US would we get such quotes!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A fresh look at our federal territories

The image above is by Emila Yusof whose blog entry can be found here.

Notice the Blog4FT icon on the right? Well, this is a blogging competition to encourage the public to blog about the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan. And you stand a chance to win a Peugeot 308. Yes, that's one cool car all right!

Be it with pictures or with your words, here's a chance to blog on life, heritage, nature, history, places, architecture, communities and events. Well, actually there are so many things to tell about our cities, so the categories are only limited by your imagination, so says the contest organisers.

Check out the site and get cracking.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Naked but alive: Malaysian miracle in Padang

WONG LEE KWONG, 52, came out of a hotel swimming pool stark naked but he was no flasher.

He had lost the towel wrapped around his waist and it would have been embarrassing for him.

But the Malaysian businessman was not complaining. He was thankful that he had been showered with a big dose of good fortune and was still alive.

Read more about Wong's exploits in The Daily Chili.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Noordin Md Top sodomised?

Update: Noordin kept explosives in anus? - Daily Chilli

He's dead but Malaysian terrorist Noordin Mat Top is still making news. The Jakarta Globe has quoted an Indonesian forensic expert as saying that the ex-UTM student was sodomised! He has based his assumptions on "indications". The expert Munim Idris is said to be part of the team that conducted an autopsy on Noordin, whose remains would be collected by his family. Daily Chilli has picked up the report.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Earthquake, tsunami, floods and tremors!

A strong earthquake measuring 7.1-magnitude according to Indonesia's meteorological agency has shaken western Indonesia.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami alert for Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Thailand. But this has been cancelled. The Indonesian agency said its epicentre was just off the coast of Sumatra. The US Geological Survey put the strength at 7.9.

The quake at 6.17pm Malaysian time triggered off tremors in Malaysia including KL and PJ. It has been reported that buildings have been damaged at Sumatra. The affected area is not far from Padang.

Earlier, a tsunami hit Samoa, the Pacific island, following an 8-magnitude earthquake, with the death toll on the rise, while floods hit Vietnam and claimed many lives in the wake of Typhoon Ketsana.

In KL and PJ, workers rushed out of their buildings while in some areas, shaken motorists parked their vehicles by the roadside. More details to come...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dancing Prisoners and Dancing Swedes

The sync dancing at the Black Eyed Peas concert in Chicago must have floored most of us. The video clip was simply awesome. But here are some more clips of sync dancing, a more hip version of line dancing, that took place at Stockholm as a tribute to Michael Jackson. About 300 people showed up for a short rehersal and 30 minutes later, they were up at the city square to put up this act.Then, there's the now famous Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. Their inmates have put so many sync dancing acts that You Tube is full of them. But my favourites have to be "Thriller" and "Sister Act." Check out "The Hustle" too.

And for those who love Sound of Music, here's a really cool rendition of Do-Re-Mi synch dancing at the Antwerp train station in Belgium.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Selcat - The Cat Fight Continues

It doesn't look the bickering over the Select Committee of Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) is going to slow down. Selangor State Assembly Speaker Teng Chang Khim continued taking pot shots at Selangor PAS chief Hasan Ali, who has been highly critical of Selcat.

The fallout in Pakatan Rakyat has been complicated by the fact that the PAS conservatives are backing Hasan Ali. His supporters have issued statements to back him. The word is that conservative PAS activists now regard Hasan as a hero. His push to ban the sale of beer in 7-11 outlets and to arrest Muslims selling beer is being hailed by his party members. DAP leaders including secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi, on the other hand, have walloped Hasan. This afternoon, Teng said Hasan would bring down the Selangor PR government, Malaysiakini quoted him as saying. Today, Klang MP Charles Santiago fired a salvo at Hasan, MStar reported.

"With a friend like him, I do not need enemies," the DAP leader said, adding that PR would be defeated by PAS itself in the next general election and that Hasan had been "consistently inconsistent" in his statements. It may be time to pack off Hasan to a motivation course.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oct 8: Indonesians invade Malaysia?

This has to be the funnniest story I have ever read. A group of Indonesian vigilantes calling themselves Benteng Demokrasi Indonesia (Bendera) has been busy gearing themselves up to invade Malaysia, the country's latest news online website Daily Chilli reported.

According to the group - the same one which recently set up roadblocks in Jakarta to look for Malaysians - they would travel to Malaysia via sea, land and air. When asked by the Jakarta Globe on how they intend to carry their weapons on board a plane, their spokesman said they had a way of doing it but did not elaborate.

Their weapons, which they claimed they have been collecting, included bows and arrows, samurai swords and spears. Yes, they would also be using Indonesian black magic. As part of their reconnaisance, they claimed to have sent 10 Indonesian "spies" to Malaysia. They claimed their countrymen, migrant workers and students, would be backing them. Bendera claimsto have 1,000 odd registered members - the "warriors" include 40 men without limbs and 10 on wheelchairs!

Black Eyed Peas: What a party and what a night!

What a party and what a night! The Black Eyed Peas had 5,000 of us jumping, dancing and partying away at the Sunway Lagoon last night. The screaming fans were a multi-racial crowd including many women in tudung. They all just came for a good time and to watch a real world-class act.

The timing has never been so perfect as the Grammy award winners just had two huge hits on the charts. The fuss over banning Muslims from catching the gig was really over nothing. It's time that those people who draw up these strange guidelines turn up at these concerts and see for themselves what concerts are about.

It's also not some drugs-sex orgy crap that these holier-than-thou people from PAS imagine. Many of us in the press, advertising and public relations sectors turned up in full force, dressed in black too, according to the party theme, to give support to Arthur's Day! It wouldn't have happened without the people from Guinness. The concert ended with superb display of fireworks.
If you think KL rocked last night,watch this BEP concert in Chicago hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Now, that's awesome!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

DAP's Jeff Ooi: Sack Hasan, if it isn't too late!

This has to be the most powerful punch since the spat between PAS' Hasan Ali and the other Pakatan Rakyat leaders started! DAP MP Jeff Ooi has called Hasan a recalcitrant, who is part of the problems facing the Pakatan Rakyat state government. The blogger-politician has asked that Hasan be asked to get out of PAS for the larger good of PR. He has even described Hasan as a "runaway train who has defies the spirit of Pakatan Team." In Jeff Ooi's own words - Hasan is not an asset for PAS nor PR. The bottom line is that Hasan, a motivational speaker, is not indispensable. In Penang Hokkein lingo, Jeff has "hoot ee" (whacked him) "cheah lak, cheah lak (badly)" See Jeff Ooi's Screenshots for the rest.

Hasan Ali: Signs of more troubles ahead?

It's unprecedented. A defiant Selangor PAS chief refusing to give in while his party colleagues are telling him to toe the line over the Select Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency. Hasan Ali is pissed off with Selcat, saying the panel should be revamped and that the grilling of civil servants has demoralised the staff.

But PAS' Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad has taken a shot at Hasan, saying he should play his role as a member of the Selangor state team. In short, he's not a team player. PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar wants Hasan to understand the rules and principles. To end it all, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said Hasan did not know the extent of his powers and nature of his duties. Translated - don't go overboard, know your station in life.

All this sniping has given rise to a fresh round of speculation that things are not that cozy in the Selangor state government. The internal rivalry seems to keep cropping up. There is already talk of a crossover by one or two Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen after Hari Raya. Port Klang state assemblyman Badrul Hisham, for example, has stayed away from all PR and state government functions. The word is that he would make his stand known after the Hari Raya holidays.

The PR state government's biggest enemy is within, as newly recruited PR leader Zaid Ibrahim rightly put it in his blog. He asked what was the point of PAS promising in its manifesto to become a transparent government if the early genuine effort of Selcat had been opposed and challenged by the party, the Malaysian Mirror reported.

Beyonce - there we go again with PAS.

How come we are not surprised? If there's one thing that we can say about PAS, it has to be its consistency. What you see is what you get, so Malaysians should know what they are getting into when they support PAS.
Kartika, whip her. Michael Learns to Rock? Ban them. Sales of liquor? Ban. Arrest the workers. Couples in Terengganu? Send the anti-khalwat troopers to harass them. Beyonce?
According to PAS Youth vice-chief Ahmad Sabki, the award -winning singer promotes hedonism. In simple English, that means someone who promotes pleasure as the chief good, bordering on sex and music, in Ahmad's probable perception.
PAS, he said, is unhappy with the trend of bringing Western groups to Malaysia "as these groups are not suitable for our Malaysian culture. Their apperance and attire are against our Eastern culture." Ahmad should know that he is speaking for PAS and its followers. Not many of us. We love our Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas.

Many of us also love our P. Ramlee, pop yeh yeh and Malay culture while many PAS leaders seem eager to embrace Arab culture and dressing instead. Beyonce is scheduled to perform here on Oct 25, so let's see it happen. Ahmad and his friends can stay at home if they choose to but many of us just want to be entertained. It's just a concert, not an orgy, please. See Khoo Kay Peng on Hypocrites in PAS.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya

Wishing all Muslims, in Malaysia and beyond, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. May we all continue to live in harmony. Let us build bridges that connect and not walls that divide. Have a great day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Royal Spat: RM50million and an apology?

It's finally out in the open. The Negri Sembilan royalty has come up with serious allegations of assault by a prince of the Johor royalty. It was a no holds barred press conference where names were named. Even the police was walloped for purportedly doing a slow job.

It was no ordinary press conference. The son of the eldest princess of the Negri Sembilan royal household Tunku Nadzimuddin had claimed he was beaten up by the Raja Muda of Johor - Tunku Ismail Abdul Majid - and his bodyguards for unknown reasons.

The Johor palace has, however, disputed the claims with its legal representatives and palace sources calling up talking to newsmen this afternoon to give their version - the Negri Sembilan side asked for RM50million and an unconditional apology for purportedly causing hurt to the prince's nose. The Johor side has denied assault and that the nose job wasn't worth RM50million. The southern side is saying the allegations are baseless. The RM50mil, they said, was "exorbitant and outrageous" while the NS side says they want "justice"

But the whole incident looks ugly. The timing isn't very good either as this is the fasting month where one learns to exercise restraint and forgiveness. See Rocky Bru for his perspective and Star Online for full details. Malaysian Insider quoted a lawyer for the NS as saying that a demand for RM50mil was indeed sent to lawyer Shafee Abdullah, who is acting for the Johor palace.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garland of Slippers: A Slip of The Tongue

It's a classic case of letting his tongue slip. The MIC delegate who made that rude and offensive suggestion deserve to be suspended. It is good that the MIC leadership has taken swift action. I am sure most MIC delegates did not approve of what he said about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

I am given to understand that MIC president Samy Vellu stopped the delegate from continuing his speech. The speaker had proposed putting a garland of slippers on the photograph of Dr Mahathir, who had earlier endorsed former deputy president S.Subramaniam for the number two spot.

Certainly, the delegate did not deserve the platform to speak if he has abused it. The right to speak does not mean the right to abuse people. The former PM certainly did not expect everyone to agree with his views but that's not the way to tackle anyone. A certain degree of respect should be given to Dr Mahathir and such language cannot be accepted.

There's a lesson to learn here. Grassroots leaders often use their party general assemblies to let off steam, in the name of grassroots sentiment. Regardless of their political parties, their speeches sometimes stretch to the extreme, in some cases, bordering on racial argument. They may use Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese or Tamil in their speeches but they must be aware that the proceedings are followed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Videos: Potong Saga, KJ and Corruption

Click on images for Slovak Sting and Potong Saga, and check out all the other hilarious videos under 15Malaysia by clicking on the last image.
We need to laugh at ourselves. We get worked up too much. Here's a sampling of some good videos and also some lame ones. But they are good efforts. Malaysians need more of these. When will we see some videos on Indonesians, political cow heads and political cow dung?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cow head demo: Umno, PAS and PKR show?

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein Onn said it openly - the Section 23 protestors included members from BN and Pakatan Rakyat. He did not give the breakdown except to say that the unhappiness over the relocation of the Hindu temple involved all parties. It was no longer about politics. The Star reported today that of the 12, who were charged in courts, 7 were from Umno, 4 from PAS and 1 from PKR.

It is understood that the Section 23 Residents' Action Committee members is also made up of people from the three parties. The 10-member panel is said to comprise 7 Umno, 2 PKR and one PAS.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself Perkasa, a Malay non-governmental group headed by Datuk Ibrahim Ali has pledged to provide legal counsel to the 12 protestors, who have been charged with sedition and illegal assembly.

Ibrahim, the maverick MP from Kelantan, has said the group was prepared to take up the case as a jihad. The Pasir Mas MP has condemned the country's leaders as cowards. Ibrahim was in Umno, contested under a PAS ticket and is now an independent. The question now for those charged with sedition - would they still get to keep their party membership if convicted later? After all, both BN and PR leaders have criticised their actions.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Anti-Malaysian feelings in Jakarta running high

Unfriendly neighbours: A group of Indonesian nationalists blocking a road and stopping vehicles in search of Malaysian nationals in Jakarta yesterday. — AFP

Anti-Malaysian sentiments are running high in Indonesia. News agencies including Bernama and AFP have reported that a group of Indonesian men, armed with sharpened bamboos, has set up a road block to identify Malaysians. Passers-by in Jakarta's Jalan Diponegoro have been asked to show their IDs by these angry Indonesians.

The emotions have been fanned by the local Indonesian media which have blamed Malaysia for almost everything. Malaysians have been branded as "thieves" following the use of a Balinese dance in a documentary on Malaysia. Discovery Channel has since made a correction but the Indonesians are still angry.

Malaysians have also been branded as arrogant and in one case, a town experiencing traffic jam, a low budget air, presumably Air Asia, has been rapped for bringing in too many tourists. Last night, the Malaysian Students Department sent out SMS alerts to Malaysian students to avoid certain parts of Jakarta for their own safety.

The Indonesian press has ran stories claiming Malaysia has stolen its culture such as the Rasa Sayange from Maluku/Ambon and the Sundanese' angklung. They are not buying the argument that Malaysia and Indonesia shares the Malay culture, saying its Indonesian culture.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Use your head, not your heart

This is what I wrote in my On The Beat column today:

IT’S time for cool heads to prevail. The controversy over the cow-head protest, which arose because of the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam, has degenerated.

Raw emotions were displayed at the meeting between Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and the residents yesterday.

The emotionally-charged meeting turned ugly when some residents reportedly shouted profanities and even tried to throw chairs and shoes at the Mentri Besar.

Insults were hurled and insensitive remarks were made by those present, which shocked the Selangor elected representatives and pressmen.

The Aug 28 protest by about 50 people who marched from the state mosque to the state secretariat building to oppose the relocation of the 150-year-old Maha Mariamman temple from Section 19 to Section 23 has now become international news.

It would have been just an ordinary demonstration if the protestors had not paraded the head of a cow, an animal deemed sacred by the Hindus, and placed it at the state secretariat building.

To continue reading, click here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sultan of Selangor summons PAS' Hasan Ali

Hasan Ali leaves Istana Bukit Kayangan after being summoned there by the Sultan of Selangor. — Malaysia Insider picture by Jack Ooi
The Sultan of Selangor is not happy. There are plenty of reasons for his unhappiness. As the head of state, the Tuanku is responsible for religious affairs. He expects to be consulted on all issues relating to Islam. His consent is naturally necessary before new directives or new laws are proposed. That's lesson number one for Selangor PAS chief Hasan Mohamed Ali, who is also the state executive councillor in charge of religious affairs.

Hasan Ali was summoned to the palace at noon today. It was a longer than usual meeting. My sources tell me that Hasan was given a royal ticking off. But no one's issuing any statement on the meeting as a face-saving gesture. The Tuanku is said to be unhappy with Hasan's directive to appoint mosque officials to arrest Muslims drinking in public.

The order included arresting Muslims for selling or storing liquor, which would affect thousands of mostly Muslim workers in 7-Eleven outlets in Selangor. They could lose their jobs as the management would have to hire foreigners as cashiers instead. Obviously Hasan did not give much thought to his decision.

Hasan was tight-lipped when he left the palace at 2.25pm. The meeting lasted over two hours and since it is fasting time, no lunch was served, and it was entirely business. MB Khalid Ibrahim, however, confirmed that Hasan's directive was discussed, according to a Bernama story. However, it is unclear whether the Tuanku discussed the cow head protest in Shah Alam as well, which is said to include protestors who were members of Umno, PAS and PKR.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cow head protest - arrest the bigots quick.

I don't think any level-headed Malaysian would tolerate any form of extremism. Certainly staging a protest by carrying a severed cow head is highly provocative and insensitive. What were they thinking? That they can get away with their bravado? The protestors, claiming to represent the residents of Section 23, have every right to protest and to voice their unhappiness over plans to build a Hindu temple in the area. But surely they could have handled the issue in a more reasonable manner. They have gone overboard this time. Carrying a severed cow head, regarded as a sacred animal by Hindus, is extreme.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein is right to warn against such actions that could lead to racial tension.

The only right thing to do is to arrest the organisers of the protest. They must be charged for sedition. These are men with evil intentions. There was nothing remotely holy about their actions. If the arrests are not done fast, it would send a wrong message to Malaysians. It would even encourage others to follow suit or lead to retaliation. It is not difficult to identify those behind the Shah Alam protest as they have bravely spoken to the media in the most emotional manner. Their faces are all over the Internet. We also want to know what political parties they represent.

They must be prepared to face the consequences of their drastic actions. They are not the religious martyrs that they have imagined themselves to be. They may like to believe they are but to most Malaysians, they are just a group of foolish racists and bigots. They should realise their foolishness could lead to serious implications.

Malaysia is a multi-racial country. The pluralism is an asset which we all should be proud of. Certainly, we have showcased our multi-culturalism to the world. In Penang, one can see a Taoist temple, mosque, church and a Hindu temple along Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling. It is about tolerance and mutual respect. Certainly the religious activities of the faithful have not been disrupted as a result of these places of worship being located next to each other.

I am glad I grew up in Penang where openness has always been a way of life. All these places of worship are located in one single street. It has been like this for such a long time that everyone has taken this for granted.

Some may argue against this, regarding what has taken place in the past as an age of ignorance from a religious perspective. Or is it simply because some of us have become less tolerant and more extreme? Have we lost our moderation, which we are so proud of? Tolerance is the key mark of all religions. All religions teach noble values. It is better to have more places of worship than places which breed sins. Racism and bigotry certainly run against the teachings of any religion. Let's use our head to think before we speak, write or protest.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Black Eyed Peas concert - only for non-Muslims!

You can't blame the organisers of the Black Eyed Peas concert coming up in Selangor at the end of next month. It's sponsored by a beer company and every attempt is being made to make it sound like a non-liquor event. From what we are told, it is just a concert. Who else has the money these days besides the cigarette and beer boys, with the exception of the mobile phone operators? The biggest act, Black Eyed Peas, is performing but wait - it's only for non-Muslims and naturally Muslim fans are fuming. The no Muslim decision is reportedly imposed by the Information, Communicatio and Culture Ministry.

Muslims, too, want to be there to enjoy the concert but that does not mean that they have to drink. They just want to have a good time, that's all. But the corporate world is playing safe now. Such"non-Muslims only" restriction is usually placed at Christian functions and meetings, especially for faith-healing sessions, but never for a concert. It's unprecedented but that's what the authorities want.

Non-Muslims are worried and confused. For example, the decision by Selangor PAS chief Hassan Ali to allow mosque officials to arrest Muslims who consume liquor has actually gone a step further - Muslims can also be penalised for selling or storing liquor. This has placed 7 Eleven employees, who are mainly Muslims, in a big fix.

The law is there and it would probably not be fully enforced but all it takes is just one case for a poor worker to be made an example, as in Kartika, who was caught drinking. After all, there have been Muslim pub workers being arrested in some states.

The so-called "compromise" between the DAP and PAS following the spat between the two parties has ended up in a worse scenario than before. 7-11 outlets are now talking about replacing Muslim workers with non-Muslims. That means foreigners. But this is not what it should be.

Genting hires thousands of Muslim workers although their jobs are not related to gaming or serving liquor. But they are still beneficiaries of a gaming operator, as are the state and federal governments from tax revenue. Money has been used from such taxes for development. No one differentiates where the money comes from. Malaysia Airline serves liquor too and the job is done by Muslim flight assistants but that doesn't mean that they consume liquor.

It looks like another "boom boom pow" situation for Malaysia and another "black eye" once word gets out to the international media who are beginning to have this perception that Malaysia is losing its moderate image. What next? Another press statement from PAS Youth to ban the concert altogether? Oh, they are so predictable and many of us still want them to run this country. And some Umno politicians are now trying to out do PAS to win back the votes, it's all very confusing.

Black Eyed Peas plays a concert at Sunway Surf Beach, Sunway Lagoon in Selangor on Sept 25.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chua Soi Lek sacked - what next?

It's has to come to this finally. The parting of ways between the two estranged MCA leaders has finally taken place. The MCA presidential council, which met passed midnight, endorsed a decision by the disciplinary board to sack deputy president Chua Soi Lek. Chua now has 14 days to appeal. In a statement issued after the meeting, it said the decision was made after giving much consideration "to the damage inflicted upon the party brought about by Dr Chua's DVD sex scandal." What next? The central committee is almost certain to endorse the stand taken by the presidential council. Meanwhile, supporters of CSL are certain to express their unhappiness over the latest development with supporters of OTK endorsing the sacking.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zul Nordin defends Lunas state assemblyman

Lunas state assemblyman Mohd Radzi Salleh (picture), who has quit PKR to be an independent, may be facing a barrage of criticism from the Pakatan Rakyat but maverick PKR MP Zulkifli Nordin is defending the defector. The Kulim Bandar Baharu MP has even asked his PKR colleagues not to be too critical of Mohd Radzi Salleh.

The state assemblyman has suddenly found himself turned into an incompetent and lazy elected representative overnight. His former comrades are probably saying that he has been bought over. PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar described Radzi as a liability and that his departure was a necessary cleaning-up process.

But Zulkifli has blogged that Mohd Radzi had worked tirelessly when he was state exco member in charge of tourism. Zulkifli has revealed that the reason for Radzi's decision to quit was his unhappines over the direction of Pakatan Rakyat, particularly the DAP's role in Kedah. Others believed he wasn't happy with talk that Anwar Ibrahim wanted him to quit his seat for a forced by-election.

Zulkifli said Mohd Radzi wanted to see Muslim unity be given greater emphasis. Zulkifli also said Radzi's decision to leave PKR must be respected. Zulkifli isn't likely to get much admiration for his latest posting. In fact, there could even be speculation as to where this controversial lawyer-politician could be heading next.

Call to ban MLTR: PAS must learn to rock!

Here we go again. PAS wants the upcoming concert featuring Michael Learns To Rock in Genting Highlands to be scrapped because of the fasting month. Its Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi (picture) has warned the organisers that a demonstration would be held if the organisers ignore the warning.

The concert, featuring the group of aging Danish pop rockers, has been labelled as a Festival of Sins. At least, the turbaned PAS leader did not call these singers "sexy" as the party did against Avril Lavigne the last time. He has lambasted the BN for allowing the concert, which he described as an insult to Muslims. Nasrudin also wants Muslim NGOs to join the party in the protest. Nasrudin, a Jordanian graduate in religious studies, is regarded as a hardliner in the party.

I am not sure if Nasrudin has even heard of MLTR but the band is over 20 years old. These guys are known for singing sentimental numbers and are hardly the gyrating, long-haired acid rocker types. He is also obviously not aware that the various authorities have met the concert organisers on guidelines during fasting month. They were told that open air concerts would be disallowed during the fasting month as a mark of respect to Muslims, which is fair enough.

The government must, however, also undertstand the rights of non-Muslims and have such concerts in closed venues such as indoor stadiums and hotels. In the case of MLTR, it would be held at the Arena of Stars. Even if the concert is not held, the casinos at Genting Highlands would be running full steam. PAS is merely protesting for the sake of protesting.

Earlier, Selangor PAS chief and state exco member Dr Hassan Ali said state mosque officials including the imam, bilal and siak can now arrest Muslims drinking in public places. Dr Hassan had an open spat recently with DAP's Ronnie Liu over the sale of beer at 7 Eleven outlets in Shah Alam.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A bond too strong to break

I look forward to every Ramadan. I have to confess that I have never attempted to join my Muslim colleagues and friends to fast in this holy month.

But it is the sense of camaraderie and brotherhood that I enjoy every year.

It has become an unwritten rule at the newsroom every year that the evening meeting would have to be held an hour earlier so that our Muslim – and non-Muslim – colleagues can attend the breaking fast functions.

The call to end the meetings early, interestingly, often comes from the non-Muslims. This is the best part of working in an office with a multi-racial staff. Jibes are made at each other over fasting patterns or the lack of it without any prejudices.

The rule at every Ramadan is to pick the newest member of the newsroom to interview the food sellers at Section 14 in Petaling Jaya and to buy for us the mouth-watering popiah, a crowd favourite.

For the full reflection of my On The Beat column, click here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The reality hits home: Coping with the AH1N1 virus.

You know the AH1N1 problem has struck home when your loved ones, colleagues and friends are hit by the influenza. There are already 67 fatalities and the likelihood is the figures will increase. A fellow editor is now being quarantined at home after a bout of bad flu but she is recovering at home. The workaholic MStar journalist is filing news from her home.

Last week, another editor from MStar, the Bahasa Malaysia portal of The Star, and his family were kept at home after his fever refused to come down. After checking at a hospital, it was relief to know that the fever was caused by viral infection and not AH1N1.

A colleague from the In Tech section was also a suspect after his son was confirmed an AH1N1 victim. But thank God, both have recovered. Two Penang reporters, covering the Permatang Pasir by-election, have now been quarantined.

The series of sickness affecting my colleagues have been worrying. A reporter at a business publication was confirmed a virus victim last week and the entire multi-media section was shut down. Newspaper offices are now making emergency plans of working from home if the situation worsens. Visitors to our office have been asked to clean their hands with hand sanitizer at the lobby reception before making their way to the various departments.

For reporters attending functions at crowded places, we have handed out facial masks for them but it is probably more difficult for reporters covering the hospital beat. It's an occupational hazard. I remembered when the Nipah Virus hit in 2000, many of us had to visit pig farms where thounsands of the sick animals were culled. Some reporters fell sick after a while.

The fear is that with summer over in Europe and the United States, the flu situation could worsen. The prediction is that millions could be infected soon, especially students who would be starting classes in schools and colleges. The latest issue of Time reported that in the US, the sheer size of the pandemic response has begun to hit home. Immunization has started in schools and nurses are even placed in some schools. Local health departments are preparing to enlist private sector doctors and nurses to aid the effort with plans to rent empty shoplots and reopening vacant schools for the worst case scenario.

Back in Malaysia, there are concerns that our people are not displaying self-discipline with people who are supposed to be quarantined supposedly going shopping instead, without consideration for the rest of us. We have to get used to the idea that this is serious and that politicians should not be worried with media reports of the AH1N1. It's not a question of keeping tourists away but a matter of taking the necessary steps to prevent ourselves from falling sick.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fighting AH1N1: Come on, this is a joke, right?

In case, you missed this Bernama story - an eminent practitioner of complimentary therapy Dr VM Palaniappan (picture, from his blog) has been quoted as saying that among the measures one can take against influenza AH1N1 is to avoid masturbation and homosexual activities. Yes, that's what the good doctor said. He reportedly said that "such activities caused the body to develop friction heat which in turn produced acid and makes the body hyper-acidised."

The former professor of ecology at Universiti Malaya went on to say that "the body becomes an easy target for H1N1 infection." The academcian, according to the report, has authored several books on complimentary therapy called Ecological Healing System.

He emphasised that normal sexual union between members of the opposite sex was absolutely safe, adding that his 33 years of research showed that high acidity in the body resulted in the loss of immunity, making people susceptible to viral diseases like influenza H1N1.

He has also recommended drinking coconut water, which is an alkaline, for the prevention of AH1N1. Other fruits - orange, lemon and pomelo - which contains citric acid.

I am not sure whether this small Bernama news item made it to world news but we are certainly learning something new everyday. You can either take what the good professor tells you seriously or laugh over it. But hey, we are living in dangerous times.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where did he get his Datukship?

To the lockup: Koay (left) covering his face while being led out of the magistrate’s court with the other accused yesterday.
He has five previous convictions for theft, firearms offences and corruption, yet he kept his Datukship. Yesterday, Datuk Koay Khay Chye, 52, and five others were charged in Penang with trafficking 300kg Erimin pills worth RM20million. They were arrested during a raid on July 28 at Sungai Dua.

The public are left wondering where he got his title from - didn't the state which conferred him the title carry out any vetting with the police and Bank Negara? In the case of Selangor, the palace carries out strict checks before titles are conferred and a website has even been set up for the public to check. It is important that we know where Koay got his title, so upon conviction, the Datukship should be revoked. For that matter, the previous convictions are sufficient grounds for a revocation.

One personality, calling himself a Datuk Setia, in a trade organisation leadership fight, has been telling members that he is a Datuk from Selangor. Checks were made with the palace secretariat and an official has confirmed that he has never received any awards, not even a PJK, from the state.

There must be ways to prevent dubious characters from making such claims. I believe it is a crime. The Conference of Rulers should make a decision to set up websites, like the one set up by Selangor, where the public can scrutinise the list for themselves.

All states should stipulate in the state constitutions the maximum number of Datukships and other awards that would be given out each year. The situation has become so bad that there are perceptions, even allegations, that such awards can be purchased in one or two states.

The endless list of recipients each year has certainly lent credence to such allegations. More often than not, these recipients do not have strong credentials, besides being businessmen. For the record, businessmen create jobs and help increase the country's revenue. The congratulatory advertisements help newspapers earn money for sure but contribution to the state and country must go beyond that.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cheers! I simply love this beer commercial!

I love my beer, especially Tiger beer because I am an Arsenal supporter. But I also love the Heineken commercial. You won't see this advertisement on television or Astro because liquor ads are banned. If you buy only pirated DVDs, you would probably miss this wonderful commercial. But most regular cinema goers have never grown tired of this hilarious commercial, even if they are not beer drinkers. This is a great piece of creative work. Cheers man!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beer ban - now Zul Nordin wants Ronnie dropped

Ronnie Liu: Something's brewing in Selangor...

Latest: MB Khalid rejects call to strip Liu of portfolio, says it's a non-issue. All state officials warned not to issue statements until meeting on Friday to resolve issue, Star SMS alert.

Maverick MP Zulkifli Nordin has entered the fray. The Kulim Bandar Baharu MP has described Selangor DAP state exco member Ronnie Liu as a "liability" to the state Pakatan. Zulkifli also wants Liu to be dropped before "the people drop Pakatan."

According to MStar, he also expressed support for the call by Selangor PAS chief Hassan Ali who wants a blanket ban on the sale of beer in Muslim-majority areas in the state. In an unprecedented move, Hassan asked Liu to be removed from his local government portfolio following the DAP leader's directive to the Shah Alam council to send back the 70 cans of beer they had confiscated from an outlet.

Instead of banning the sale of beer, the Selangor state government should punish outlets which sell liquor to Muslims and underaged customers. Show the ID cards. If outlets are found selling liqour to people who should not be buying, then the punishment should be meted out. This blanket ban is a lot of nonsense.

If we are talking about Muslim-majority areas, that's almost the entire Selangor, except parts of Petaling Jaya. And with the Chinese population coming to 25% in a country of 26mil people, we can see pubs being shut down in future, if we buy this kind of argument.

The enforcement officers told Liu that they were pressured to act against these outlets. Liu should reveal to us who are these councillors and what political parties do they represent. Drinking, particularly excessive drinking, is discouraged by all religion but non-Muslims are given a choice. PAS will use the same tired argument but the point is we must have a choice.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beer seized by Shah Alam council officers

What's with the enforcement officers at the Shah Alam Municipal Council? None of us can recall that beer has been banned in this country. But on Wednesday the council seized 70 cans of beer from a retail outlet in Section 8. The confiscated beer has now been returned after a protest. The officers have even apologised to the outlet owner, it seemed. The whole episode is pretty pathetic and crappy.

It is a typical case of council officers abusing their powers. The officers, in trying to explain their action, said the decision to act was made at a full council meeting. It's strange that beer can't be sold in Shah Alam but one whole brewery exists there. In fact, some years back, some home grown terrorist tried to blow up the brewery but failed. This time, it seems that the pressure is being exerted by the councillors.

Maybe these councillors should be brave enough to let us know their identity. It's very confusing. These Pakatan Rakyat appointed councillors are pushing hard to ban the beer and state exco member Ronnie Liu is trying to stop it. The council enforcement officers are caught in between. Guess we won't see a "beer summit" to sort out the problem.On the other side of the world, President Obama sit down with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the officer who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, for a beer at the White House.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yasmin: Front page apology from Kosmo

Kosmo has made a front-page apology to the family of the late Yasmin Ahmad. All of us who have to make quick decisions, especially in the media, where the deadline can be punishing, understand.

Mistakes are made daily in the newsroom. Sometimes we make poor judgment calls. Unlike other professions, we cannot hold back our work to the following day. This is especially so for those working at the news desk section. The editors and reporters at Kosmo have acknowledged their over-sight.

As a fellow journalist, I understand their problem. I hope the various advertising associations would also respond accordingly. To err is human, to forgive is divine. Let's give our support to TV3 for its effort to pay a tribute to Yasmin Ahmad this Saturday at 9pm. The Majalah Tiga special edition will be followed by the screening of "Mukhsin."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad: Journos angry over Kosmo article

Journalists in Malaysia often stay away from criticising the writings of another journalist, be it in another publication or an online portal. It's an unwritten rule. As much as we do not agree with the views or slant of the article, we refrain from voicing our unhappiness as we believe in the freedom of expression.

Those of us in the Malaysian media already have to grapple with so many laws that affect our profession, so the last thing we want to do is to take on another brother or sister from the same trade. But the recent article on Yasmin Ahmad in one publication has touched a raw nerve of many journalists. Yasmin, after all, worked with many in the media and advertising industries.

The said article in Kosmo on July 27 has led to a group of former and working journalists to send a protest letter to the management of the newspaper. It's unprecedented, as far as I can recall. Strong language has been used.

In the petition that has been circulated via email among the media, it said, among other things, "Yasmin's family was grieving and at their most vulnerable" and yet the newspaper "saw it fit to run a story that showed utter disregard for the late Malaysian filmmaker, her family and the many Malaysians, who still mourn her."

Referring to the article in question, the journalists - who started the ball rolling - noted that the article was written "less than 24 hours after she was buried at a time when her family was still reeling from the shock of her death."

At the same time, the associations representing the advertising agencies and advertisers are also acting against the newspaper and Penang-based Kwong Wah, which had translated that offensive article.

That again is unprecedented as punishment against a newspaper has often come from the government or a political group but never the advertisers, or via a protest from fellow journalists.

This blogger would not want to reproduce the article here as a mark of respect to Yasmin.

Like most Malaysians, we will remember Yasmin for her many legendary work. She deserves that respect, more than anything else. She was a human being and certainly she had her weakness and shortcomings, like everyone else.

But in her world, she wanted to bring out the decency of multi-racial Malaysians. Hers was a world of people divided into two kinds - the good and the bad. Not the colour of their skins or the languages they spoke. Let's keep that legacy alive.

I spoke to the reporters at Kosmo to hear their side of the story. They pointed out that they had paid their tribute to Yasmin, pointing out the many stories recognising her talent. The article on her past, they said, was merely to inform readers of the other side of Yasmin, which the readers were not aware.

The editor took my call politely and thanked me for my views and criticism. That's their side of the story. I do not think there was any malice but it was perhaps poor judgement on their part. There is also the question of human decency, which they have overlooked.