Friday, September 30, 2005

YB Mr Lim's Indian War Dance

Did anyone know that YB Lim Kit Siang can do a mean Red Indian War dance?

I came across a very interesting trivia while reading the late Tan Sri Dr. Tan Chee Koon's autobiography, "From Village Boy to Mr Opposition".

Apparently, during a political meeting held at the library of Dr Tan's house to discuss strategies ahead of the 1969 general elections, the negotations turned acrimonious and Dr Tan had to call off the meeting at one point (probably to diffuse the tension). Dr Tan's decision shocked Dato' SP Seenivasagam who was a party at the meeting but had Lim Kit Siang breaking into a Red Indian War dance!

I don't want to speculate on why our present Mr Opposition did that but it was highly amusing to me to picture him letting loose and jumping around like a Red Indian chief, maybe even shouting a few hoots and thumping his chest?? If anyone had a picture of him that day, it would be priceless, wouldn't it? So, the old man did have a skewed sense of humour and a liking for off-beat dance steps in his younger days? I would like to promise YB Lim all my votes to DAP if he could do the dance again for us in public ... or better still in the Dewan Rakyat. If the Red Indian War Dance is considered not politically correct these days, a Lion Dance also canlah!

He always seems so "serious and all politics", even in his personal blog, he writes in a way that makes me feel like I am on the DAP website. Perhaps he should loosen up a bit, after all it is supposed to be his personal blog and we would like to know the man in a more personal way behind the mask of Mr Politics/Opposition. It would be nice to hear him address his blog readers as if we were all sitting around the table at the mamak stall having a casual discussion about local issues affecting the ordinary rakyat. He could also share with us his sense of humour, which I believe he does have hidden in huge doses. But, coming back to the above story, in the end all parties concerned came to an agreeable compromise and the rest was, well, history.

Lately, we have been seeing a different kind of humour being displayed by a certain political youth party, where we see its leader who is also a minister waving the malay keris and superimposing leaders from the opposition parties against a communist leader's autobiography cover. It sure doesn't seem funny to me which is why I find it strange that such things are actually being displayed in public. Those who have been slandered certainly have the right to be deeply offended but to the Malaysian public, it is really nothing new or shocking coming from those concerned. Haven't we all seen worse cartoons and parodies being put out in newspapers just before each general election? Has anyone been taken to court yet? Whether we laugh at them or not, most right-thinking and fair-minded citizens of Malaysia would not condone such arrogant and childish antics. Are they really that stupid to assume the readers would buy into the rubbish and lies being put out by their spin doctors? Aiyah ... so otak tak centre!

Malaysian politicians are a hilarious lot especially those who likes to talk for the sake of talking and ended up with a big shoe in their mouth! What about those who make hilarious declarations, like the one where one state is being declared a developed state because ostensibly the chief minister woke up one day and decided that it is high time he blow his own trumpet and get himself noticed for the many "good" stuff he had done or caused to be done in the state under his control. Then there are others who sling mud against each other prior to their internal party elections and after all is over, start to give each other pats on the back and apologies hoping that the people would forget what's been said and heard. There are many many more funny antics by those who professed to be our leaders, only thing is we are paying these guys from our tax monies to clown around, which actually is not so funny after all, come to think of it.

The country is mired in all sorts of troubles from unemployment, creeping inflation, greed and corruption, uneven and unfair distribution of wealth, rampant destruction of our forests and natural reserves, disappearing public fields and parks, an education system that is in doldrums, religious extremism, and many many more. The people are being asked again to tighten their belts further that they are finding it harder to breathe. In the meantime, there is much anger on the ground at the way our government still insist on spending precious money on unnecessary projects like sending the first Malaysian astronaut to space. Can pride feed our poor? If our country is already so cash strapped, what kind of a priority is that? Might as well use the money to fix old and run-down schools so that we can avoid the unfortunate incident of the poor teacher who died falling through the termite-infested floorboards of SJK (C) Keat Hwa in Alor Star. Our dear Prime Minister should really tighten the belts of his ministers and officers as well as watch the allocation spending by respective state governments. There are millions to be saved by being prudent and honest in managing our country's wealth. Who in their right mind like to be told to suffer the effects of higher costs of living while those in positions of power continue to fritter away tax-payers' money like there is no tomorrow?


Say "aye" to bullock carts

Hahaha... Our Works Minister sure knows how to throw a farting fit .

The continuing saga of the construction of the KL-Putrajaya Highway and the protests of the residents from Bandar Sri Petaling have now escalated into a farcical show of tantrum throwing and finger-pointing.

Quote from The SUN today:-


Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you, dear Datuk Seri Works Minister.

Let ALL Malaysians come together in support of his proposal and who knows, we may all be better off using bullock carts, what with all the potholes on our roads and the heavy toll we have to pay for lop-sided contracts.

I wonder what the honourable Chairman of the Backbenchers Club have to say to this outburst?


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It's the witch-hunt season!

It's the Witch-Hunt season!

It amazes me that after the recent public fiasco generated by the purported RM5 million farewell bash for the Director-General of Customs has barely died down, we have news today quoting the deputy DG of the Customs and Excise Dept that they will go all out to nail its personnel suspected of having leaked the "false" information to the press.

Apparently, the task force will comprise between 3 to 5 members who will be given a month to flush out the culprit or culprits. On top of that, he alleged that the controversy had caused his officers to suffer a "loss of focus" on their job and hence, there is a decline in performance.

Correct me if I am wrong. I think it is morally wrong to use public funds to go on a personal witch-hunt in order to settle a score or two on behalf of the department's boss. Besides, is there a need for the Customs and Excise Dept to take matters in their own hand when the ACA has already declared that the Finance Ministry will investigate the controversy?

And another thing, why should all the department's officers be so demoralised that they cannot do their work properly just because their soon-to-retire boss got mired in an unpleasant controversy? Are their work performance so closely tied to the level of happiness of their boss? I am truly baffled.

Things are getting weirder and weirder with our public administration.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Another take on the vernacular school debate

Vernacular schools a threat to national unity?
I don't think so...

Let me put it this way. Vernacular schools provide an alternative choice for parents who wish for a different kind of learning environment for their children. Much have been written about the state of affairs affecting our national schools that I would not wish to present my views here lest I offend someone by being politically incorrect in my choice of words.

I have my own take on why vernacular schools are increasingly a popular choice for non-Malays (and also an increasing number of Malays). First and foremost is the desire for parents to provide their children the opportunity to learn to master another language (whether it is their mother-tongue or otherwise) because there is always an economic advantage to be gained by knowing how to communicate in more languages. Secondly, for a non-Chinese to master Mandarin and vice versa for a non-Indian to master Tamil, surely this will make them more able to appreciate the sensitivities of this group of people who are of different race, religion and culture and in the process, their ability to understand each other's mother-tongue only makes it easier for them to interact with each other and therefore, enhance unity among the various races.

We all had to learn Bahasa Malaysia from young and therefore, we had an advantage because we can read the Malay newspapers and understand what our Malay friends are talking about, even if we may not be that articulate when trying to converse in Malay. Nevertheless, for the Malays, they are disadvantaged when it comes to knowing what the rest of us talk about in our mother-tongue, much like what we experience when we try to understand a Kelantanese speak in their local dialect. So a lot of time, people get uncomfortable and suspicious due to this lack of understanding and knowledge. Whether it is intentional or not, the education policy has given the non-Malays a head start in life by equipping them with the ability to at least speak in 3 different languages, English being the other common language taught in all schools.

Coming back to the issue of why we choose vernacular primary schools, one reason most people would think trivial is the fact that in these schools, it is still acceptable for our kids to dress in shorts and short-sleeved t-shirts for physical education sessions, whether they are boys or girls. And the boys and girls are never segregated during such sessions, whether on the field or in the pool where everyone would be donning their swimsuits and swimming trunks. I like to think that we are keeping alive our children's innocence and carefree spirit by allowing them the opportunity to participate in healthy sporting activities together without the burden of false modesty at such a tender age. Besides, sometimes I think it is not healthy for kids to work-out in long pants and t-shirts in our kind of weather where the mornings can get quite hot and humid, which is the current practice in most national schools.

We can choose to make the acquisition of more languages into our repertoire a factor to unite our community of different races or we can choose to be defensive and offensive by blaming the existence of vernacular schools as one of the reasons why we increasingly fail to unite after so many years. But I believe that if we can learn to embrace each other instead of shutting out one another, then the chance to build a society which is more tolerant and compassionate may be more achievable than just mere rhetoric. Imagine if someday, it is commonplace to see that Ahmad can comfortably carry out a conversation with Ah Chong in Mandarin and Muthu in Tamil. Wouldn't Ahmad have much to gain if he should venture into doing business in China or India, or even back home in multi-racial Malaysia? Even a politician of Ahmad's calibre would be highly sought after for he would embody the very essence of an integrated Malaysian and would appeal to a large cross section of the voters!

We really should take a serious re-look at the national school system and have the necessary political will to change it to better reflect the needs of society as a whole, and not just catering to the sensitivities of any one particular group. We are facing global challenges and if we insist on having tunnel vision and continue to blow our own trumpet as "jaguh kampung", then we have only ourselves to blame when the world leaves us far behind.

Education is a subject which can be polarising in our country especially so when politicians are the ones who make the rules based on their selfish need to protect their positions of power. No one seems to be bothered that the wrong policies will inadvertently produce drastic consequences for the future of the country as is evidenced now where high unemployment rates is troubling our leaders, specifically when we are faced with an increasingly high number of local graduates who are termed "unemployable" due to various deficiencies. The errors of judgment made in the past have come back to haunt us now. It is increasingly difficult to tackle the problem in a rational way without falling back on the issue of race. Therein lies the misconception of certain people that vernacular schools are a threat to national unity.

Are we going to continue clowning around with the task of educating our young and future leaders?


Friday, September 02, 2005

Bird's nest soup and the Bird Flu scare

Bird Flu High Alert has been declared in Indonesia since the outbreak caused the first death in July this year. Should Malaysians be concerned, especially since we are seeing increasing interest in commercial birdnest farming in our towns and cities?

So far the virus had killed 65 people in 4 Asian countries since late 2003, the latest victim being a 5 year old girl from Indonesia. And the Indonesia government had closed down the country's biggest zoo, the Ragunan Zoo on the outskirts of Jakarta after bird flu was found to have infected 19 exotic birds.

Although Malaysia so far has not seen any case of bird flu, it does not mean that we should not be vigilant towards this highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus. And we have cause for concern considering that our authorities are presently rather lax on the issue of regulation of commercial birdnest farming in shophouses and abandoned buildings in and around towns and cities in various parts of Malaysia. These "swiftlet houses" have mushroomed all over the place, sometimes the upper-most floor of a multi-storey commercial building is converted to a "swiftlet house" and some would even convert a whole building into a "swiftlet hotel", right next to where people live or work on a daily basis.

I don't know if these birds pose a danger to the people as in whether they could possibly be a potential carrier of the bird-flu virus but nevertheless, it does not take much intelligence to know that they generate a lot of bird droppings which certainly could not be healthy or hygienic for the surrounding environment. Given a choice, would you want to live or work next door to these "bird hotels"?

Let us hope that our country will be spared this latest health scare, otherwise we will see some knee-jerk reaction by our health ministry when people start to look for scapegoats in the event of an unfortunate outbreak of this fearful disease in our country. After all, Indonesia is not that far away from Malaysia.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Merdeka 48 and our "batik" society

A day after the 48th Merdeka celebrations in Malaysia, I am suffering from Merdeka fatigue.

I saw some fireworks display in the early morning hours of Merdeka. Gosh, I thought it is only appropriate to let off the fireworks after the stroke of midnight but at my hometown, it came almost 20 minutes past midnight! Not that I am griping but you should see all the other motorists who were getting edgy standing or sitting in their cars by the roadside all over town. Not a few of us were wondering if we have been made a fool for staying up so late to witness a no-show! Anyway, I digress.

Today's major newspapers, as usual, carry lovely colourful pictures of the parade and the multi-racial crowd mingling peacefully and waving the requisite flags. It seems to me that the papers took great pains to interview as many non-bumiputra revellers just so to show that these people are REALLY patriotic, in spite of what is actually happening in our country. Why the need to show proof? 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.

But I feel sad this Merdeka Day, sadder than ever before. I feel that with a new Prime Minister, we have taken a direction down an untrodden path of increasing boldness among the powerful to shove things down our throat. Pak Lah seems to condone his young charges to spout racist slogans and agendas in public. It seems like it is the "free-for-all" season for the Malays to come all out and renew the policy of "Ketuanan Melayu". Where did all these ideas came from? Surely this is not what we envisaged when BN won a thumping majority during the last GE. I suppose the very first sign that all is not what we expected it to be came with the first evidence being in the final cabinet line-up.

I wish that the Malays can rise above such crippling mindset and dangerous political plays to embrace an equitable society for the benefit of everyone. UMNO can do much more to help the Malays to face up to the challenges of a globalised world. It takes more than mere dishing out university degrees and government jobs to create a truly competitive class of Malays able to survive and thrive ANYWHERE in this world. Whatever happened to sheer hard work and doggedness? Where is the "maruah" of always being labelled "jaguh kampung"s in a borderless world? What is so shameful in allowing the non-Malays to work with you in raising our country's competitiveness in the world and creating a world class society? Why must it always be "Malay Agenda" and "bumiputra-rights"? Is it even recognised elsewhere in this world?

Malaysia is akin to a beautiful piece of batik, the pride of our craftsmen and a symbol of the beauty of Malaysia. Like the batik master who has to first visualise the design, before painstakingly transforming it into a work of art, our society is best reflected in the various colours and flowing strokes that typically adorns this much-loved fabric. Malaysians of all races love it and are proud of it, although this artform is traditionally associated with the Malays. Tourists and visitors to the country too love the vibrant hues of the batik. But can you imagine if the batik is only drawn out in ONE single colour? No matter what the design is, if the batik is only allowed to be dyed in ONE particular colour, will it have the same kind of appeal?

Therein lies the sticky truth about Malaysia and its people. Some people intentionally forget that Malaysia is made up of such diverse people of different race, culture and religion. Like it or not, we have lived together side by side for more than a hundred years, way before Merdeka. The success and failure of the mothership that is Malaysia relies on the co-operation of all its people to give and take and support each other through good times and bad. We either float or sink together in the ever changing weather of global conditions.

But a section of our society, and I will dare to spell it out that it is the Malays I am talking about, continue to insist that they are the only ones that mattered in Malaysia. UMNO continues to mislead the Malays into believing that it their right to wipe out all the colours of the Malaysian fabric and to identify the Malaysian society as a Malay society. One shade of colour shall rule above all else, one identity, one race and one religion shall reign supreme. Sadly, if UMNO's political games are allowed to succeed, we will see the sad day when the shine of Malaysia will be reduced to a dull shade of grey. Societies will be made up of selfish sections dominated by racial, religious and cultural concerns. It will be a "ME" against "THEM" because one race (Malay) will be pitted against all others. Much sorrow can only result if ever this happens.

I can only hope that there are enough decent Malaysians who can rise above such dangerous political ploys being played out in our society to protest and make themselves heard. Everyone stand to lose if there are more UMNO leaders, emboldened by Hishamuddin's antics, suddenly realise that they have a lot of political points to be gained by jumping on the bandwagon of playing up the race card.

My Merdeka wish and prayers will be that our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will have the moral courage to put a stop to such utterings by his UMNO colleagues and charges. Let us from this day onwards talk about a Malaysian Agenda. Allow us to help each other to succeed instead of pulling each other down the abyss of destruction.


adopt your own virtual pet!