Thursday, 28 May 2009

Send in the Clowns

(With apologies to Stephen Sondheim)
Aidil Fitri is just not Aidil Fitri if there are no circus shows on tv.

It’s a long held tradition by RTM to have, and if my memories have not gone kaput, last year’s was the excellent Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun).

(How the highly seductive piece got passed through the censorship board is somewhat a mystery but it’s a slip I am thankful of.)

The “normal” shows are usually quite passé and they would almost always slipped pass without anyone really noticing the amount of effort put in by the entertainers.

Even watching it live might not moved you beyond the time spent underneath the huge tents circuses normally come with.

Had it not been for my daughter freaking out during a photo shoot with a pony, I would not have even remembered anything when the Royal Circus of London was in town.

Before Cirque du Soleil, circuses are forgettable as you get a déjà vu that you’ve seen it all before.

And far from entertaining you, the always clowning clowns provide scant relief from this feeling that you are watching the re-run of re-runs. (Mother of all reruns?)

Political circuses, however, are of another breed of animal altogether.

The entertainers never cease to amaze you on their flexibility and the clowns their excesses in slapstick jokes.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes a newbie with new tricks that makes it to the front pages of any self respecting journals for the masses.

Those intent on watching the show’s ending will sit through, squirming in disgust at the lamer tricks while laughing in delight at the niftier ones.

Those who don’t should just turn away and, just like it is during Aidil Fitri, carry on with whatever it is that they are doing.

The past few days gave Malaysians ample political circusey (?) tricks with allegations of buyouts, illegal virtuous acts, good money thrown to prove God knows what and more.

Don’t these CLOWNS know that after a while all they are milking is a crowd that is fast growing thinner and thinner?

There will be laughter. Oh yes, there will.

But it will be on the incredulity of it all.

Democracy is not a circus, and it should not be so tainted.

Entertainers Extraordinaire

Monday, 25 May 2009

Driving Drivel

Bill Sienkiwicz's Elektra

A very good one:

“Everything I've heard so far are just promises. You are promising that you want to improve something. But you haven't told me what you want to improve, how it's going to be improved, and how I am supposed to know whether it's improved.”

Do read the linked article in whole to understand what the quote above is all about.

It is also a classic in what journalists have always had to face when interviewing politicians.

Not all, mind you, but a good majority would come out just like Koh Tsu Koon; round and round with a whole lot of goobledegook and not much in substance.

Back door appointment to the Cabinet notwithstanding, I believe the Gerakan head honco was given an infinitely impossible assignment of KPIng the Ministries.

Just how do you KPI certain Ministries such as Home, Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister's Department?

The mind surely boggles are the substantive qualifications that should go into the KPI for these Ministries.

Perhaps one KPI that should be a priority is how fast can the Cabinet approve the making public the PKFZ's audit report.

Should that be a Transport, a Finance or a Cabinet KPI point?

It's a ticking time bomb that's been passed around a whole lot of late.

All and well really, as the billions in Ringgits attached to the alleged scandal is far too much a burden to be borne by a single shoulder.

Anyway, back to the interview which I do wonder if it was published verbatim.

My experience with politicians is that they tended to be very long winded and imprecise especially when it is something which is not handily tackled with a “kita akan kaji' answer.

KPIing the KPI Minister is yet another point worth asking of the Minister in the PM's Department.

Koh's answer to that was this:
I just submitted what was being used as preliminary KPIs, the number of incidents that have been reported to and recorded by the police. I said this was all that we had (as a yardstick).

But I have asked the Institute for Inter-Ethnic Relations of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, headed by Professor Shamsul Bahrin, and his researchers to help me find out whether there are already existing ones in other countries and new indices we can create to more effectively measure "national unity" and "social harmony".

If we can come up with certain measures as an indicator, then we can come up with an implementation plan to enhance social harmony, national unity, inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony.

Now, does that answer the question?

Still, the interview cannot beat the one The Star did with Khir Toyo.

That is forever destined to be THE ONE.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Bared Facts


American Idol's Kara DioGuardi

No thanks, Tan Sri.

Initially when I read Star’s headline: “Veteran artiste wants more people on censor board” and then the verbatim quote:
Is it right to have only three authorised persons, representing the country’s 26 million people, to watch and suppress anything considered unacceptable for public viewing?
I thought: “Well, hey, didn’t realized HE cared.”

I learn now to never jump the gun until I get the whole picture.

A few paras down the line came the punchline: “Jins, who sits in the board’s appeal committee, said that due to such a situation some films escaped censorship.”

Such a knuckle head I was for thinking that the good old Malayan Bond was talking about the arbitrary ways of the National Censorship Board.

About how more rep would mean more varied opinions.

Nope, nothing like that.

What the Umno Tan Sri wants is a like minded fellows to join in arbitrarily censoring the cinematic offerings to the public on the silver screen.

(Wonder what they think of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. What a title, eh?)

Truth be told, it has been a LONG, LONG while since I watched anything at the cinema.

Having a young un with the shortest of short in attention span means that cinema are no go in family outings.

That said, I did manage to squeeze in some good “Disney on Ice” hours of which Tan Sri might think worthy of least some snips with some good showing of cleavages from most of the female dancers.

So I have never been able to grace any of the good Tan Sri’s censorship skills thus far and I do hope I am not missing (pun intended) much.

BTW, what was Astro’s Star World thinking when they decided to blip away Kara DioGuardi peep show after a good few minutes of Katrina "Bikini Girl" Darrell near
nude tanned showcase just before?

Weird that.

Perhaps, it’s the act of “flashing” that is being censored.

We don’t want Malaysian Star World viewers to go around flashing their undies, now do we?

It just has to be snipped.

Walking around near stark naked is not as bad.


Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Eyes Shut Open

And here we go again.

It’s that time of the year when the supposed crème of our exam oriented educational systems fill the mainstream and non mainstream with stories on the failure of meritocracy in the PSD sponsorship program me.

Fair enough, the system is flawed.

I’ve heard of tales and instances of already listed student ALLEGEDLY delisted just because a big name made a call to insert another.

With emphasis on the word ALLEGEDLY, of course.

So many others have spoken on it that it would be a waste to harp on something which only a total revamp could correct.

Instead I drawing attention to the story gleaned from my better half on her friend.

R was her Law course mate at University Malaya, and one of the better ones too.

Her real passion however was elsewhere, and she apparently took the course to appease her parents’ wishes.

The deal (as the hearsay story goes) was that she was free to do her subject of choice after succeeding in obtaining an Honours degree.

That was exactly what she did, and with the hurdle crossed, R then took a divergent route into the artistic world of showbiz.

Last I read, she is still going strong.

R is one of the luckier ones in realizing her forte early on, something that cannot be said for so many others.

Our choking emphasis on examinations and the number of 1As (it used to be A1s in my time), I sincerely believe, has led to some bright sparks to fall sway just because they can’t hack it, for one reason or another.

Many are now concerned more with the destination instead of the journey that the latter is seen as a burden instead of the joy it's meant to be.

Education is supposed to be about acquiring knowledge and skills.

It seems to me that our children are now being rushed to complete syllabuses instead.

Understanding and appreciating nuances in the knowledge: Secondary.

Admittedly, an emphasis on understanding against pure rote learning could see classes bogged down.

Fast forward, not much of these inputs would be used by the aged children anyway.


Like sleeping the whole train journey across Europe.

Untitled piece by Korean-born artist Amy Sol


Monday, 18 May 2009

Yet we all bled the same

Mr Freeze

DC Comics Mr Freeze

Rocky’s 1 Sekolah Untuk Semua had me clicking the link to sign the petition on something I truly believed in.

My enthusiasm however froze soild as soon as I read the opening remark in Bahasa Malaysia on the whole thrust of the petition and I closed the link with some disgust and sadness.

The whole bit of “us and them” was none too subtle and far too brutish for a petition that is supposed to unite the children (sons and daughters) of Malaysia.

It is somewhat racists to be putting the blame (all and sundry) on the vernacular schools for the listed ills.

The presumptions made here are far too generalized to be correct, and smacks instead of a certain vindictive feelings and emotions rather than sound, factual judgment.

I do wonder as to why the English write-up is far gentler in its language.

Perhaps that bit should hold more prominence for something so noble in principle.

Yes, we do need a single, unified, schooling system and, like many others, I sincerely do not believe the current one is good for the country’s future.

Talks of creating an English mainstream worry me more as it would only create yet another strata in the educational hierarchy of our children.

We need these like we need a tumor in our brain cells.

For the national schools to fulfill what its moniker conveys, it has to be able to draw every parent to think: “my children will benefit from going to so and so school”.

Right now, rightly or wrongly, there is the perception that some (not all, okay) vernacular schools are better at producing high scoring students while national schools (again, not all) suffer from the (some not so ill-conceived) notion that they are essentialy Malay/Islamic centric establishments.

Nothing wrong with the second percept except for the much sullied reputation of the religion courtesy of the many deviants in its followers.

Gone is the thrust that Islam propagates the intense gathering of knowledge, replaced instead with presumptions of backwardness and whatevernot else.

If we can turn national schools into the epicenter of excellence (in all sense of the word – studies, arts, sports ), then there is no real reason for some parents to feel as though they are sending their children on the road to failure by enrolling them at national schools.

In the meantime and until it discards such racist presumptions, count me out from “1 Sekolah Untuk Semua”.

"I don't make way for gorillas."
"Ah, yes, but I do."

Friday, 15 May 2009

Wooing Manisah Haji Bakhil

Yang Mana Satu...

Lat on Perak's Stalemate, NST May 15, 2009

Lat’s cartoons have always been snappy, sharp and biting, and today’s in the NST was no different.

Since the late Tan Sri P Ramlee’s Labu Labi is forever my favorite, it immediately triggered the beautiful “Yang Mana Satu” song in my mind.

For those not in the know, Labu (M Zain, cook) and Labi (PRamlee, driver) were the servants for one Haji Bakhil, and both have got the hots for their employer’s daughter, Manisah.

Unlike the typical Hollywood offering, this classic did not offer any happy ending where the so-called hero gets the girl and supposedly lived happily ever after.

That said, the cartoon got me thinking.

Its canny juxtaposition of Labu Labi with the Perak conundrum (Labu Labi ~ Nizar Zambry, Manisah ~ Perakians, Haji Bakhil ~ the country?) is the work of true genius.

Nizar and Zambry are both, in fact, servants of the Rakyat Perak who are supposed to cater for the latter's needs.

In the movie's ending, Labu – transfixed by his angan – angan (dreamtasy?) - forgot this fact and went overboard in his wooing of Manisah, at the same time in dissing his employer Haji Bakhil.

Although both of them “kena” soon after, it would be Labu’s reputation that is worst off.

Having a soft spot for Nizar, I hope this does not happen to him in fighting for his right to exclusively serve the rakyat of Perak.

As it was in Labu Labi, it seems to me that there can be no real winner here.

Perhaps they should come to the realization that one has to give way, unless Perakians (Manisah?) presents a clear preference as to who she prefers to be the Chief Khadam.

Technically (not morally) speaking, both the High Court which rule in favor of Nizar and Dr M have pointed out the constitutionally correct way out from the current conundrum.

Why Barisan Nasional did not choose this way three months ago is probably either down to political ineptitude, or, naivety, or something else altogether.

Which one, I don’t really give a hoot.

All those months ago, Perakians have made their preference known, and it was a rejection of BN.

Umno can gloat all about the majority seats it won in the State, but the fact remain that BN lost.

While it can technically (not morally) claim to have the so-called mandate in becoming Chief Khadam, BN should be wary that Perakians might just push the dishes they served aside if the resentment runs too deep.

Which would mean the inevitable boot once the Khadamship's tenure is up.

Sitting down to talk could well be the best option here.

You are both, after all, servants of the one being wooed and not the other way around.

I doubt it would happen, though.

The forever present smirk in the current self proclaimed Menteri Besar says it all.

Nizar has fought the good fight.

Should he choose to let go, it would be with his head held high.

And, another chance at winning Manisah's heart.

Labu, Labi & Manisah

Monday, 11 May 2009

Fresh Mandate?

What now, Perak?

The law is apparently very clear: High Court Judge Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim upheld the Stephen Kalong Ningkan ruling that states, inter alia, that a Menteri Besar can only be dismissed by a vote of no confidence.

Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is legally the rightful Perak Mentri Besar.

Had the Barisan Nasional exercise some cautionary judgment in view of the pending decision from the High Court, the country would have been spared a most humiliating episode in its so-called democratic practices.

The Star reported that Dr Zambry’s plea for a stay was also rejected.

Jurists can go to great length to debate on the legal implications of the decision which many (including a former great Statesman) had already voiced out even before this.

No new MB, no new Speaker, and no State Assembly sitting, no?

Posturing by the new speaker of allowing the former time to vacate his office is so jumping the gun.

As for Nizar, its back to square one of asking the Sultan of Perak to dissolve the State Assembly as to seek a fresh mandate from the Rakyat.

A statemate yet again.

The Raja Muda of Perak chose to stay above politics with nary any mention of the farcical assemblage.

What will HRH Sultan Azlan Shah decide?

(Of no relation to the posting above: Marvel’s Thanos the Titan.)


Thursday, 7 May 2009

Farcical Assemblage


It’s really hard not to LOL over the goings on in Perak, were it not a tragedy and a kick to the groin (balls?) that is democracy.

Wanting to push through a new state government of which its foundation lie in so-called technicalities (et tu, Mukhriz?) of having the most number of State Assembly support while disregarding the earlier votes of the Perakians brought Malaysians the farce being played out this morning in Ipoh.

The so-called “state government of the day” in Dr Zambry’s team should proceed to dissolve to State Assembly to break this impasse.

So what if there is the spectre of defeat to the Pakatan Rakyat hanging?

You never know unless you "cuba try test tengok " and it would be a great time to spell out your policies which would stand you out from the old state government.

If the people of Perak wants the BN’s (allegedly the “I rub you, you rub me back?”) style, fine. So be it.

What matters is that the choice should be put to the Rakyat.

Dr Zambry’s legitimacy lie with the Rakyat Perak and it is really they who should decide.

Ini tak: Tak dan apa – apa dah auction off the newly bought and hardly used Toyota Camry just because it was by the previous state government.

Tak dan apa – apa dah sack appointees sana – sini because they were made under the previous state government.

Tak dan apa – apa dah nak tutup jalan sana – sini, tutup acess itu ini.

Would such a state government really get the Rakyat’s confidence even if they manage to proceed with an Assembly today?

Don’t tell me Dr Zambry didn’t foresee the farce that is the 7th May Perak State Assembly based on all that has gone down before?

Technicality bullshits of having the majority support notwithstanding, stalemated legitimacy does not inspire confidence where the Rakyat is concerned.

Win the battle, lose the war?

Or it could well be winning the battle and winning the war.

Unless he enters the fray by calling for dissolution of the State Assembly, Dr Zambry will never know if Perakians are actually behind him.

Alas, he has crossed the Rubicon by continuing with the façade of having full confidence of the Rakyat.

It's a most unfortunate legacy that will be forever attached to his name.

(PS: Pix below (Bill Sienkiwicz's Elektra(Marvel Comics) is of no relation to the above article.)