Friday, 17 August 2012

A Blessed Eid' Fitr, Everyone

Wishing everyone a Blessed, and Joyous Eidul Fitri this Syawal.

Do go slow(er) on the Ketupat and Rendang. And Raya cookies... And Raya carbonated drinks... And the Raya dodols... the Raya mercuns and bunga apis....

And do remember the six Syawal fasting... Doesn't have to be in a stretch.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

In Your Face

"This is not a film to cause disunity, far from it. We are not talking about politics, we are talking about two great men who have done extraordinary things," Shuhaimi (Baba) told a press conference. "It's history, it's fact. It's because society is mature enough that we feel it's time for them to watch history."

Quick question: How many “historical” films can you name deals strictly with facts?

Fact: “Historical” movies are never about facts; they are about drama, iconic personalities, heart rending events, etc. Facts bore and have as much entertainment value as, urm, watching white paint dry.

On to Suhaimi’s “Tanda Putera” which had attracted controversy on allegations it depicted pro-Malay and anti-Chinese sentiments.

Fact: The movie has yet to see its public screening.

More boring fact: I saw the “new” (at least to me) 1:30 minutes long trailer this morning after the Subuh prayers whilst waiting for the kids to wake up.

Not a fact: I found it intolerably black and white vis a vis its depiction of the May 13, 1969 and the supposed protagonists who sparked one the nation’s darkest days.
There were more dislikes than like for the Trailer and I took to cue to mark my own view on what I saw.

Watching the trailer reminded me of the day long ago when I went to see the movie “Turtle Beach” to see what the hoo haa was all about.

Suffice to say, I walked out in disgust before the film ended due to the, urm, creative embellishing of supposed “facts” involving the country’s treatment of Vietnamese refugees.

Amongst others. There were more, but memory fails me and the earlier part of the movie wasn’t that great either.

To reiterate: Tanda Putera trailer elicited the same kind of lumpy, um, disgust – for want of a more precise word – as did “Turtle Beach”.

Fair enough, Malaysians are by far more mature these days and can certainly stomach enough of grey-boundaried–sensitive-issues and topics discussions.

Surely there are more ways to depict what happened during the dreaded days where hundreds died after all hell broke loose when local politics turned topsy turvy.

Yes: at the core of the May 13, 1969 incident was politics and unsustainable levels of hate / race-politics mongering.

And unfortunately, the brief “Tanda Putera” trailer blatantly smacks you in the face with depiction on who’s to blame.

The question I wish to ask Suhaimi: Why does it have to be so?

PS: Recalling the gleeful pleasure of watching Bruce Lee kick bad-ass Japanese butts in Fist of Fury, a blatantly black white movie except for turncoats in an interpreter and tea maker. Contrast this with Jet Li’s version in Fist of Legend where – surprise, surprise – there are bad/good Japs.

Sign of times, surely.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Fascist Book of Tricks

"It is an old strategy in the fascist book of tricks: to dehumanize the other, to relegate and reduce their individuality into racial labels and to render their hopes, fears and vulnerabilities invisible; in other words, to oppress. What is worse, passages from the holy Quran are evoked in the process for justification."

Ouch… Unless you have a supremely thick hide, to be called a fascist must surely hurt somewhere.

The only fascist I know in my ever so limited knowledge is Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), him who was a leader of one of the three Axis Alliance of World War II.

For an in-depth read on what exactly is fascism, look it up in Wikipedia here. One thing’s for sure, it is not pretty to be called one.

Anyway, the above is a direct copy pasting of a statement by the Islamic Renaissance Front titled: “Lessons from the demonization of DAP”.

This is in the back of two front pages by DAP’s perennial fourth estate foe, Utusan Malaysia, of so-called religious, urm, statement that it is haram (not kosher?) to vote for DAP and any other political parties who are “sekongkol”ing with them as they (DAP, that is) is a kafir harbi kind of party.

As I don’t read Utusan, I neither know head nor tale of the detail story, but even the headline is somewhat silly vis a vis the soon-but-not-that soon to be held 13th General Election. 

Say, just say for brevity's sake that you do take the issue seriously.

Okay; noted then. No crossing the boxes of DAP candidates, even if they are Malays or Muslims.

No crossing boxes of “sekongkol”ing political parties either; so scratch PSM, PKR and PAS candidates.

Which leaves fellow non partisan Malaysian Muslims with pretty much only the independents IF they wish to NOT vote for the candidates of UMNO and “sekongkol”ing MCA-MIC and the likes.
You know, there is such a thing as Syubhah (looks like haram but not quite, so better to keep at arm’s length).

Then again, independents these days are either BN or PR friendly, so you’re stuck there to.

I give up: do you even get to exercise this once every five year basic right then?

Seriously, Utusan Malaysia has played the racial card and now is playing the religious card against DAP with nary a slap on the wrist.

To what ends are the editors looking at with such incendiary headlines?

Let’s face it: as it is, many have made up their made their mind whose butt they want kicked come vote counting time, and stoking such racial and religious lines just jack up the adrenaline levels of only hard core followers.

I seriously doubt it will sway the so called fence sitters with minds of their own.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Cloakie Daggerie

The plot sure thickens over the RM965m George Kent-Lion Pacific Ampang LRT systems work job award.

Allegations of interference in the selection process has yet to die a silent death only for news that the British Engineering firm appointed as independent evaluator ofthe eight bidders  is under probe by theMACC.

BTW, whatever did happen to your TRIO in the Teoh Beng Hock’s case, MACC?

Back to Halcrow: reading the news article with nada a byline in the Star Online seems to suggest a link existing between the firm and Balfour Beatty, one of the firms in the list of JVs tendering for the job, citing several previous jobs.

Among others: "A search of both companies revealed that directors and top officials of both Halcrow and Balfour Beatty had positions in joint-venture companies established by both companies to bid for the Hounslow Highways PFI contract in the UK. It did not win that bid."

Uh oh. Serious casting of aspersions on the impartiality of the firm in question this article does.

Not sure how these adhoc JVs work, but surely someone somewhere from the list of bidders would have rung alarm  bells early on during the pre-awarding disclosure or not?

After all, some of the link ups of the two firms are Google-able public domain material.

Didn’t Syarikat Prasarana Berhad – Halcrow’s employer - know of the  “relationship”?

Question Time: If the evaluation process is flawed vis a vis this, ahem, newfound discovery, does it then make the whole process invalid?

Should there be a second round of evaluation to ensure the JV offering the best value for a publicly funded project is chosen?

Then again, a reported 15 months had lapse from the closing of the tender and its eventual award just recently. So probably not gonna happen.

Balfour Beatty’s JV – according to unconfirmed reports – had placed the lowest bid.

An article in the Edge – which I can’t seem to trace but which was picked up by The Malaysian Insider – meanwhile quoted industry sources as speculating that the winning JV will more likely subcontract out a major portion of the works in question.

Sure boggles the mind, doesn’t it all…

Welcome to the wonderful world of the mega contracts where the risks and the profits are equally mega in size.

Very  Cloak and Dagger-ish, eh?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Scoring Points and Keeping Tabs

Apparently the government has been keeping tabs on the things it’s done to and for the Rakyat at large.

Not just of late but as soon as the country hoisted its own Jalur Gemilang to replace the Union Jack some 55 years ago.

Hear that: 95%! Definitely a high score.

And here we thought that the politicians forming the executives of this country had been slogging throughout, you know, out of pure love for the country.

Keeping count is like having a black book of tabs to call in should there be a need to do so in the future.

So much for ikhlas-ness, eh?

BUT just how in heaven’s name do you compute on fulfilling commitments for the people?

The qualitative stuff such as roadworks, rails, ports, airports, buildings etc is QED though still argumentative, but what about the more subjective ones such as wellbeing (as opposed to pure monetary computation), nation building, solidarity, (ahem) patriotism etc.

How does someone derive the “95% Janji (telah) Di Tepati” scoreline?

Is there a national accounting book lying somewhere on commitments promised and things done to achieve the said commitments and targets?

What are the KPIs ? Did KPIs and the rest of the acronyms so synonymous with the current government existed back when Malaysia was still Tanah Melayu?

Does it extend to Sabah and Sarawak (and Singapore, too, for a short while) when they joined the Peninsular to become Malaysia in 1963?

Who is the bookkeeper of this “Commitments to the Rakyat and What’s Achieved to Date” register? Is there an audit to see who and what is slacking so that knuckles can be rapped?

Perhaps the Minister did not mean to let the cat out of the bag of this so-called national count keeping thingy: maybe it is supposed to be a hush, hush, super confidential, super secretive, PM's (and close allies) eyes and ears only, item.

Something like the Book of Secrets “discovered” by Nicholas “Benjamin Gates” Cage of the National Treasure franchise.

Now, THAT would be cool.