Thursday, 27 August 2009

Gobsmackingly Audacious

Not a day goes without something interesting happening in Malaysia Truly Asia.

One of the latest would be news of a “Non-Muslim only" concert featuring Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas happening on Sept 25 in Sunway Lagoon.

With a stroke of the mighty authoritarian pen, there are now two classes of people in the country, adding further to segmentation vis a vis race and political affiliations.

Apparently, this was a decision due to the concert being sponsored by a brewery, AND since there is a severe slump in domestic tourism counter, some leeway (read: bending backwards) was apparently made.


This is just so wrong.

For one, it in principle discriminated a whole group of people (never mind the theological justifications).

The concert is “expected to boost the tourism industry affected by the recession and the A(H1N1) flu outbreak”.(Quoted from The Malaysian Insider)

Give me a break, please.

Fergie and her gang have got a strong following in this region.

What if Muslim fans from our regional neighbors want in? To help do their domestic tourism boosting bit, that is.

What then? Do we say: Sorry, No Muslims Allowed.

See how sick that reads?

(MI says the go-ahead comes with restrictions against selling "the brew" or displaying the brewers logo and what not.

That makes it all so-very okay, doesn't it?)

The Arthur's Day concert is one of four to celebrate the brewery’s 250th anniversary.

As such, it could not have been an impromptu, out of the blue, decision but one that is long in the planning.

The reason for choosing Malaysia truly Asia is probably this: “…one of the top 10 (brewer brand) consuming countries in the world with the bitter available anywhere.” (ditto)


So you can calculate the amount of clout involved in this decision making.

And the date chosen for this concert? A few days after the Aidil Fitri celebrations.

I, too, enjoy Fergie’s songs but I can hear the smack right across the Peninsular.

This is just so sick.

One country. Multiple standards.

So very sick.

The Black eyed Peas

Friday, 21 August 2009

Copious Thoughts

I wanted to post something on the continuing PKFZ scandal and had actually completed the draft when this thought came to mind: “Nahh… What’s the use.”

There is this Kedahan (or maybe it is a national one I wouldn’t know) which fits exactly the overall situations Malaysians are faced with currently: “berjejeh”.

The word roughly means non-stop talking without anything being heeded.

That is also how I feel about things nowadays.

The powers that be are always talking about getting this feedback or that feedback, and then do exactly whatever it is that they wanted to do in the first place.

Case in point: the U-turn on the teaching of Maths and science in English.

There are others where words have come out loud and strong to no avail: PKFZ, a former Menteri Besar’s palatial home, the Perak state government, MACC, the Internal Security Act, et cetera.

Every now and then there will be some lip service paid on how the people’s interest yada yada would be looked after bla bla bla.

What happens?

A big fat nada.

Or something neither here nor there.


Meanwhile, in Libya, a wholly inappropriate (in my humblest of opinion) celebration took place during the welcoming home of the sole person convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing tragedy.

News reports told about hundreds of flag waving young Libyans greeting Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi as a “hero” when he was flown home on compassionate grounds after serving 8 of a scheduled 27 years in Sottish prison.

27 years for 270 lives lost in the incident when a bomb blew up Pan Am flight 103.

Abdel Basset - who continue to protest his innocence and offers his sympathies to the victims’ family members and relatives - is suffering from terminal prostate cancer and said to be three months away from death.

My sympathies are with him.

He has but three months left to his life.

There was no real need for any pomp and grand welcome for his homecoming.

All this would do is to tear open long healed wounds of those who had suffered the deaths of their loved ones in the incident.

How many of these people would now be wishing (nay, praying) the worse for Abdul Basset?

Whatever closure there was from Abdel Basset’s convictions all those years ago is torn wide open by this truly insensitive gesture on the part of the Libyans.

It will be Ramadhan soon and Syawal soon after, the two months when some muslims become their pious best.

We can take Abdel Basset’s words that he is innocent, or we could dismiss them.

What we should not have taken from him is the opportunity for solace these few months he's left with.

Unfortunately, some are now branding him villain yet again.

To whose benefit then the grand welcome?


Monday, 17 August 2009

Pythagorean Understandings

My sincerest apologies to education Supremo MY.

His decision to go back to the mother tongues in teaching Maths and Science was probably the right one after all.

MY must have realized to continue would mean sending our children down the road of oblivion for both Maths and Science as well as that of mastering the English language.

MY must have read the many, many questions (and possibly notes to students) from teachers teaching the two subjects which prompted him to make a quick U-Turn of the six year old policy.

Questions like these:

Diagram 8 shows the Pravina’s twelfth birthday. Her brother borns 3 years 6 months after Pravina borned. What is the age of her brother at 7th January 2014.

Diagram 10 shows the mass of a packet of flour. The flour is fill in three containers. First container fill in with 3.98 kg of flour. The rest of the flour in second and third container. Which of the flowing mass is for second and third container

How can you continue with the policy when all it does is wreck the language even more?

How can you continue when it seems that you would need to teach both teachers again for them to teach the students?

Who in heaven’s name would be teaching who then?

Citizen Nades’ reasoning was that the questions were framed in Bahasa Melayu then translated.

His words seem to echo statesman Dr M’s contentions in his blog posting: “Malays just cannot learn and speak English.

We should stop teaching English so that the language would not drag down the Malays in their exams. We should see better results,” he said.

A wee bit racist I would say to these, but their comments are with merits.

You just cannot answer questions you don’t understand.

(Then again, you don’t need to be THAT very well versed in English to answer the above questions and students who are good in Maths and so so in Bahasa Inggeris could answer the above quite easily.

Six years of Bahasa Inggeris should give you a rough gist, shouldn't it?(Though the second is somewhat frighteningly thick in its composition. What the hell are you really saying?)

Maths shouldn’t be about Bahasa Inggeris Grammar.

So what if the question translators get some of them mixed up?)

Let all the” budak-budak Melayu, Cina, India dan lain lain” learn things their own respective tongue.

After all we haven’t even gotten pass identifying ourselves as Malays, Chinese, Indian, Dan Lain Lain despite our 50 or so years living under one single flag.

And if these students want to improve on the Bahasa Inggeris, there are tuition classes in abundance.

(I so don’t get teachers who spend their off work hours teaching children without charging them. I mean: What gives? You can be making much moollah here.

Why can’t they be like those who allegedly teach the minimal in school so that they can charge for teaching the rest elsewhen.)

The parents of these students should be more nationalistic (nay, patriotic) and fork out good money that would help the country’s economy.

It is a cutthroat world out there and last I heard we are no Socialists.

So anyone looking to gain competitive edge in the marketplace by mastering Bahasa Inggeris had better be slogging hard for it.

If you can’t, tough.

If the rich folks can send their children overseas to do this, why can’t you sacrifice your whole month’s meal for your children’s education?

Don’t you be expecting your government to give it to you, hear.

They have bigger things to do.

Calvin understands

Friday, 14 August 2009

Metaphoric Simile

I find it most perplexing that the government is not taking clear decisive action over the PKFZ scandal especially since it involves public funding.

There were allegations of fraud and conflict of interests, and yet to date, all the personalities concerned are still running around pretty.

Not even a Mareva Injunction (freezing of assets).

Big Fat Nothing.

Nada. Yilek. Nahi. Jack Shit.

What gives?

The accused parties (of course they are innocent until proven guilty – and when will such proceedings take place is anyone’s guess really) are happily trading challenges with the Port Klang Authority and the Transport Minister himself.

It is as if the latter is all alone in running the gauntlet.

Yes, it’s true that the Parliamentary Account Committee is also in the thick of action, but really, it is somewhat duplicating everything that has transpired between then and now on the scandal.

The highest authoritative, administrative body in the land has done but a single thing: giving the green light to the release the first PKFZ report.

That was last May and the saga dubbed “never ending” by The Edge continues with no end in sight.

Let’s not start on MACC. Please.

The money involved is not chicken feed.

Why isn’t there any sense of urgency?

Wallowing is good in making a damn great soup, but far too much of it would breed maggots.

(I know it’s a crappy simile, but what the heck.)

Had PKA been a private entity, we (as in the people) would not give Jack Shit on whatever Capex deals it goes into.

Impunity is a good word to learn here.

On the side, the National news agency has managed a few gems in news snippets these few days.

The last was on H1N1, masturbation and homosexual activities.

Today it’s something on Bollywood heartthrob, and one of Malacca’s favorite son, Shah Rukh Khan, and the state Chief Minister.

Here’s what the latter was quoted as having said:
"He (Khan) has a lot of experience in acting and movie production. He has given us his blessings, I hope he can give lectures and share his knowledge with us," added Mohd Rustam."

Do read the above in the context of “establishing a film studio in Malacca to develop talents for the Malaysian movie industry” and agreeing “to do one or two shoots for his new movie Happy New Year in Malacca later this year.”

Khan apparently hosted “special dinner at his residence in posh Banjara Hills in Mumbai” for Mohd Rustam.

There’s more:
“He served the best Indian cuisine including briyani and thosai. I must say Malaysian (food) tasted 20% less good than original Indian food."

Didn’t know taste is quantifiable.

All the same, there seem to be some good measure of reverence to the Khan at play here from both the quotee (heh) and the one doing the news.

Lost in translation, perhaps?

All the same, thank you for the smile, Bernama.

Bollywood heartthrob, Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Intra Vires

Jagdeep: Can you explain the word "ultra vires" as contained in the first paragraph of Karpal's statement?

Nizam: To insult.

Jagdeep: Your misunderstanding of the word has caused chaos in the country. The word actually means "beyond the powers".

The excerpt above from NST piece on Karpal Singh’s ongoing sedition trial highlight one of the many pitfalls which reporters have to face up to on a daily basis in the discharging of their duties.

Most of the time, we (sorry, they, since I am no longer in the profession) are expected to be up to date on everything there is under the sun.

The oft-quoted remark is usually: “You should know. You’re a reporter.”


A walking, breathing Google, perhaps?

On many occasion, some reporters do know more on specific subject matters because they have worked donkey years on the same, but this would not often be the case for those working in the Bureaus (branches).

They would normally be required to cover everything from the crime beat and court to metro (drain, garbage and local happenings) news.

The more senior ones get to do national politics and features, and those which are worthy front or page lead materials.

On weekdays, stories usually get through one round of editing; usually by the one manning the fort for the day.

Major rewrites are quite unusual at this stage unless it is a really, really horribly written copy.

The story is then sent to news editors who would then proceed to edit: cut, cut and paste, cut, paste and rewrite, cut, paste, rewrite and editorialise, or, worse, spike.

The last phrase sees the story in the trash bin, by the way.

It’s the very same dreaded phrase that makes covering press conferences by politicians not aligned to Barisan Nasional, a real pain.

A pain as you normally end up self censoring, knowing that some shit would not stick in the mainstream, and tailor the story so as to have a fair chance of appearing.

Normally a good practice would be to get the “other side” of the story.

Throw all these in and what you get are pressed reporter who needs to get the story out to meet deadlines.

You do any research needed (old clippings, google, news archive) but your hope is usually for a relatively clean (minimal editing) copy.


I’ve been personally asked to rewrite articles to provide certain slants but, ahem, spinning, if any, is usually done elsewhere in the media hierarchy.

Sometimes I stand my ground when I’m asked to do so, but most of the time I just do it as long as it is still representative of what the story is all about.

Yep, the great joys to be among the meek.

The alternative is to ask for a no byline; the kind of protest meek reporters would do.

Reporters usually have a good measure of pride in their copy, clean or otherwise.

We (opps again, they) usually stand by it and all the reason why every words typed should be owned.

And owned up to.

Running commentaries.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Lenggok Rembulan

sebentar lagi matahari akan tenggelam
malam akan tiba
cicak - cicak berbunyi di tembok
dan rembulan berlayar
tetapi pertanyaan kita tidak akan mereda
akan hidup di dalam mimpi
akan tumbuh di kebun belakang

WS Rendra (1935-2009)

(With thanks to AbdullahJones )

When it comes to sheer artistry and poetry, Bahasa Melayu is pretty hard to beat.

I believe truly that it is made for the informal writing that reading a well written prose and sentence is akin to being in a theatrical play or even an opera.

You might not understand whatever the heck the whole episode means, but all the same, you stand, tears welling in your eyes and start clapping your hands in full bravado in an emotional job well done.

Written informally, Bahasa Melayu loses its inherent “clunkiness” (for want of a better word), the sort that made me stop reading the vernacular newspapers.

It has been a while since I last read a good novel in Bahasa Melayu, but those that I did tended to leave a much longer impression that anything in English.

Unlike French (which, in my humble opinion, is beautiful only when spoken), Bahasa Melayu can be beautiful spoken as well as read.

Do note the word “can be” as there are but a few who are capable in pulling off such mastery in the language’s use.

It doesn’t even need to be the full blown artistic rendition ala the late WS Rendra’s poetry above.

Take Lat’s Mat Som.

It’s one work that is as simple as it could be, and I believe it does because it was written and conceived in Bahasa Melayu.

The translated version missed by miles cultural nuances that Lat had strewn within the Bahasa Melayu version.

Then again, Lat’s artwork works well enough to convey some of these without even the need for words.

But in Mat Som, the words completes the art.

Rhyme and rhythm in a beautiful sonata.

(And NO, this posting has nothing to do with the recent U-Turn in the teaching of Maths and Science in English policy.

Notwithstanding the perplexing ding dong by the education Supremo himself in an apparent stand of assuaging concerns from parents who seemed dead set in pushing their sons and daughters to persist with the policy anyway.

Makes you wonder why Referendum didn’t feature as a decision making apparatus, eh?)

Cedric Rivrain's

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Delirious Decorums

As irony goes, it seems that one of our MSM shows the reason why we need the Internal Security Act.

It has been fanning outwardly provocative racial sentiments for quite a while now.

Alas, the Act has not been invoked where it (perhaps) should.

After all, this is one Act that allows:

the detention, at the discretion of the Home Minister, without charge or trial of any person in respect of whom the Home Minister was satisfied that such detention was necessary to prevent him or her from acting in any manner prejudicial to national security or to the maintenance of essential services or to the economic life in Malaysia.”

(Taken from Wiki lock, stock and barrel.)

Perhaps the preamble of the law - accused of being draconian by some quarters - has changed.

Highly plausible, as it came out as a means to combat communists, then the odd racial bigots and suspected terrorists, and so on and so forth.

It was invoked once (or was it twice?) last year as “protective custody from life threatening threats” .

Thus the proposal to change the name of the Act to another is simply brilliant as it is quite the Caca Merba Act now.

What were our Constitutional forefathers thinking when they drafted this Act in the first place?

Really, the Anti-ISA marchers should not have bothered with their Saturday walk-the-streets and disrupt-the-shopping-spree programme.

They should have known it would be a BIG (blipping) waste of time and resources.

That's a lot of poeple..BERSIH came and went, then Hindraf, then quite a few others.

Have anything MAJOR really changed?

(Of there are changes, but minor ones don’t count.)

I mean, listen to what our PM is saying:

We can provide them stadiums where they can shout themselves hoarse till dawn, but don’t cause disturbance on the streets.”

Shout all you want, but don’t expect anyone to listen.

The need for EARS is one reason why demonstrations are always street demonstrations and not stadium demonstration.

Then again, never in the civilized world has there ever been a stadium demonstration.

It would be a proud Malaysian achievement really, worthy of perhaps even a World Record addendum.

Now that’s something even the MSMs might just embrace with splash pages.

Alas, that would take the “fun” out of demonstrating, doesn’t it?

ISA = In Situ Activism.

What a riot.

DC Comics' Injustice League