Friday, June 30, 2006

Who is Zam's mediator for MM-AAB row ?

'Information' Minister Zam reportedly suggested a person 'dear to Mahathir and respected by Abdullah' to act as a mediator but without identifying the person. Could the mediator suggested be actually Zam himself ?

A more interesting question is: if that person who is 'dear to Mahathir and respected by Abdullah' could be found, Umno might as well put him as the new President to start afresh forgetting both Mahathir and Abdullah. Another interesting question is why has not Zam found DPM Najib to be the ideal mediator? Is Najib not 'dear to Mahathir' or 'respected by Abdullah'?

Could it be that Zam, being caught in a personal dilemma of not wanting to be publicly seen as ungrateful to old master Tun Dr. Mahathir on one hand and wanting to preserve current self-interest as Abdullah's minister on the other, merely try to avoid taking side by berpura-pura to be a 'non-partisan' peace-keeper for the moment ?

The truth may be that Zam is now neither trusted by Abdullah's camp nor respected by old comrades on the side of Tun at the time when he publicizes or advertizes himself as someone important who is also loved by all.

PM Abdullah must take the bull by the horns

For many Malaysians who feel they need to be loved by some powerful men and women, there is no doubt that PM Abdullah is personally still a more likable bloke than ex-PM Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Abdullah's tolerance for noises in an opening society is also quite commendable because it helps to dispel fear in the hearts and minds of Malaysians.

However, there is also exceptional time for Abdullah to personally take the bull by the horns as a top leader of his party and the country. Allowing over-zealous scribes or emotionally unstable hulubalang like Nazri free hands in conducting public debate purportedly in defence of the Prime Minister or Cabinet not only does not reflect well of his own leadership but also may backfire on his personal image as well as political integrity.

One of such occasions must be the widespread allegation or perception that his son and son-in-law are taking unfair and dishonourable advantages as his close family members to conduct their business transactions for private gains.

Abdullah cannot and must not keep silent on this anymore with the excuse that it is "personal attack" because the allegation or perception strikes at the core or foundation of the legitimacy of his administration which promises tansparency, accountability and moral integrity and if the allegation or perception persists without effective rebuttal or correction by the prime minister himself, the image of Malaysia as a whole would certainly suffer.

Meanwhile, whatever our political opinions or positions, let us pray for Abdullah's speedy recovery after his minor operation in Perth.

Dr M's ex-aide: PM must explain KJ's millions

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Reflections of book seizure at JB customs

After the coach started to journey again back to Kuala Lumpur last Friday evening, my mind was highly stimulated by some what-if questions about the 20 copies of Faces of Courage (Singapore, Media Masters, 2006) which had just been seized by customs officers at the Johor Baru checkpoint not too long after I arrived from Singapore where I spent three days for a break:

What if the name of the writer of the essay The Papan Guerrillas and Mrs. K on the cover is rendered as Ong Boon Hua or BH Ong or Ong BH? Would the officers who found it difficult to understand the English contents of the book see it as "sensitive"?

What if the book is published and printed in Mandarin or Tamil or Thai or Hindi or Urdu or Arabic scripts which they do not understand at all?

What if at that time I also carried with me copies of Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History? Would they also seize them on the same ground?

What if at that time I also carried with me Karen Armstrong's A History of God or The Battle for God ? Would they seize only Faces of Courage which is not banned while let go Karen Armstrong's banned book because Karen Armstrong is not as well known as Chin Peng in Malaysia?

What if the books I carried at that time were Hakka Yong Tau Foo recipes written by chef " Chin Peng " which is a very common and gender-neutral name among Chinese people?

What if I register a unisex hair-dressing salon called Salon Gunting Rambut Uniseks Chin Peng? Would the application be accepted by the relevant local authorities ?

Finally, the old joke in 1987 about a "communist" book titled War and Peace written Leon Tolstoy being seized from an academic's house resurfaced in my mind. I hope we have all grown up enough to know that Leon Tolstoy and Leon Trotsky are actually two different persons although both were Russians who shared the same family name "Leon".

My Cantonese-speaking Mat Salleh friend Leon Comber, who met Chin Peng at the Australian National University in 1999 in Canberra and me in September 2005 in Singapore, is, of course, a former British Army and Special Branch officer as well as ex-husband of leftwing writer Han Suyin :)

Lift the ban on thinking

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Judging books by cover and a name ...

Last Friday evening at about 5.30 pm, 20 copies of Faces of Courage (Singapore, Media Masters, 2006) carried by me from Singapore to Malaysia for critical reviews by alternative media were seized by custom officers at an immigration checkpoint at Johor Baru. It was quite an experience for me to see how minds have been made paranoiac by Cold War propaganda over a long period of time.

When one of the officers asked me what was the book about, I told him that it deals with WWII history in Perak. He then filpped through one of the 20 books and said: " ya, ini betul certita nenek, bukan Playboy ..." We laughed aloud and I said that people at my age and of my real experience in real life do not need to read Playboy anymore.

As I put back the books into my bag, another officer nearby arrived and said: " tengok, apa buku ini." After flipping through it, he surprisingly admitted: "Encik, Inggeris saya tidak cukup baik. Tak faham". Suddenly, after glancing at the book cover, he raised his voice: "Ooh, nama ini sensitif! Chin Peng ... "

He then telephoned and asked three other officers to come in. I was then brought into a nearby office room. None asked very serious questions and all of them, to be very honest and frank, were quite polite, respectful and nice. They made themselves busy by flipping through the books again and again.

" Ada apa yang salah?" I asked.

"Tak tahulah, Chin Peng ini memang tak boleh masuk ...", one of them replied.

Then, I identified myself as a former MP and adviced them to check the book title against the Ban Books List published in Government's Gazette or Warta Kerajaan. I told them as far as I knew, Faces of Courage was not on the ban list in Warta Kerajaan.

One of them answered: "YB, sini belum lagi online". I then asked them to check against the hardcopy of the Warta Kerajaan and the reply was "tak tahu mana nak cari Warta Kerajaan".

So, I said since they were not sure whether the book was banned or not, they should just let me go with the books.

"Ooh, tak boleh, nanti kita hilang kerja ... Chin Peng orang ini sensitif ... "one responded softly and very apologetically.

So, they took the 20 copies of Faces of Courage and issued me a computer-printed receipt.

"YB, minta maaf, kita cuma jalankan tugas ..., " one of them said. I looked at them with pity.

The whole episode lasted for more than 30 minutes.

Kathigasu books seized by JB custom

Another 'Chin Peng book' held up

Media Masters

Kalimullah attacks Kadir - Uncle Zam's role :)

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin's nemesis Kalimullah Hassan of the New Straits Times today publicly attacks his predecessor Kadir Jasin. May be Zam has something to teach Kalimullah on how to behave like a true Orang Timur who know how to respect elderly men and women.

Otherwise, malleable school children and youths would emulate or imitate Kalimullah's (and Nazri's) behaviour to cause disintegration of our Asian family values and more and more our adik-adik becoming kurang ajar.

Zam: See Dr M's remarks as positive criticism

Zam: No 'live' TV for racist Malaysians

Zam ticks off media, singles out NST

Zam: I won’t entertain rubbish

Zam, you are not 'editor of the Malaysian media'

Anwar's now interactive online via blog

Former DPM and Finance Minister and now Adviser to Parti KeADILan Rakyat is now interactive online via a newly set up bilingual blog at

Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Attending Dr. Mahathir's public lecture ...

Last Saturday morning, I was there at former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's public lecture held in Taman Melawati as an invited guest. I first met Tun's wife, Dr. Siti Hasmah who still looked remarkably cheerful and healthy to budak ini.

I also met many old friends there like PAS's secretary-general Nasaruddin Mat Isa and vice-president Husam Musa. Ex-GEC of the New Straits Times Kadir Jasin was also there. Sifu Kadir now operates his blog at

Mahathir back on warpath

Dr M drags Khairy into the fray

Saturday, June 24, 2006

KeADILan's new Mandarin website online ...

KeADILan's revamped Chinese-language homepage is now online with more organised and enriched contents at

Learn and listen, PAS told

Thursday, June 22, 2006

In Singapore now ...

Came down to Singapore by long-distance bus yesterday for a 3-day break.

Just finished window-shopping at Borders bookshop at Orchard Road and now updating myself in a cybercafe. The next stop is Kinokuniya. Well, streets down here are always safe and secure and this is one aspect of Singapore I truly enjoy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

M'sia bans Oxford University book on Islam

It seems that the Censors of books and publications in the Home Affairs Ministry are either becoming irrational, paranoiac and arbitrary, or infiltrated by religious extremists with setengah masak English proficiency. I refer, of course, to the ban imposed recently on one of Karen Armstrong's best sellers, The Battle For God - Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The book was first published in 2001 and had been available in Malaysian bookshops very soon after its publication. Many Malaysians, including my sister Rachael, have read it a few years ago. If (and even if) it is a subversive book, the ban imposed in 2006 is really too late and it shows how inefficent the censors are. However, the truth is that the Islam-friendly ex-Catholic nun's books, including The Battle for God - Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam have always been receiving critical acclaims in developed countries.

I am also shocked to read from the ban list that even Professor John L. Esposito's What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam is not spared. Esposito is a leading scholar on Islam and Middle Eastern affairs in the United States.

He visited Malaysia before in the late 1990s as a promoter of inter-civilisational dialogue and I interviewed him for two hours. It is truly ironic that while Malaysians are still free to read Professor Bernard Lewis's many critical books on Islam and Middle East affairs like Islam in Crisis, Esposito's What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam , published by the Oxford University Press in 2002, is banned four years after it was first published.

Another Karen Armstrong’s book banned

Patah Balek

Anwar: M'sia not a 'moderate' Muslim country

Adnan Buyung Nasution — the Muslim democrat

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wasn't Tunku wrong to sack Dr. Mahathir ?

It is now confirmed that Dr. Mahathir would not be sacked from Umno despite his repeated criticisms of PM Abdullah and some of his policies in public domains.

So, was Tunku Rahman right - or wrong - to sack the same Dr. Mahathir in 1969 for his public criticisms in the form of widely distributed letters against the then serving Umno president and prime minister?

While Mahathir has always been the same personality with the same character, what is the difference between the Tunku Abdul Rahman and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Umno presidents as well as prime ministers in handling Dr. Mahathir?

Dr M remains Umno member

Will Umno sack Mahathir?

Pre-empting Mahathir’s next move

Dr M vs Pak Lah: Between Yin and Yang

Umno's " discipline " OR " unity " to prevail ?

From The Sun 19 June 2006

Dr M to top Umno meeting agenda
by R. Manirajan

PETALING JAYA: Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's recent attackon Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his administration is expected to top the agenda of the Umno Supreme Council, which meets this morning.

Party insiders say the focus will be on mitigating the effects of Mahathir's scathing criticism of Abdullah and prevent a split in the party.

The supreme council is expected to rally and voice support for Abdullah as the current leader of the party and the country.

On Friday, the BN Supreme Council and the various component parties pledged support for Abdullah. Mahathir had on June 7 lashed out at Abdullah, claiming his hand-picked successor had reneged on his promises to complete some projects he initiated.

Among the issues Mahathir wanted answers to were the scrapping of thehalf-bridge project in Johor, the sale of MV Agusta for one euro andthe National Automotive Policy.

Abdullah has declined to speak ill of his predecessor but said the various ministries would reply to Mahathir's criticisms and questions.

On Friday, Proton issued a lengthy statement explaining the rationale for the sale of MV Agusta and the termination of Tan Sri Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff's contract as CEO.

Political pundits believe a handful of supreme council members may raise the possibility of taking disciplinary action against Mahathir for his actions.

Talk of suspending or sacking Mahathir from the party gained currency after Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak warned that while Umno or BN members can voice their opinions, action can be taken against them if they go overboard in their criticism.

Abdullah himself fielded a string of questions on the issue during a news conference yesterday after launching the Malaysia Mental Literacy Games 2006 at the Tunku Abdul Rahman College in Kampar.

On claims by PAS leaders that Mahathir might be expelled from Umno following his criticism of the government, he said: "We cannot be going by what PAS says."

According to Bernama, he declined to say if the supreme council would have a meeting with Mahathir and said his closed-door meeting with the mentri besar and chief ministers in Putrajaya on Saturday was todiscuss the implementation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Despite the speculation, party watchers believe the supreme council would reject any move to take action on Mahathir as this would plainly be counter-productive to maintaining party unity.

Will Umno sack Mahathir?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

To sack or not to sack Tun Dr. Mahathir ?

Don't sack Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad from Umno Baru he founded in 1988? That would embolden him ( and other in the party ) to speak up more. Sack him? That would free him once and for all from partisan constraints to speak up even more ... Sir, do you need Panadols ?

Keng Yaik: Umno not likely to sack Mahathir

Dr M's sacking: Pak Lah keeps us guessing

Tersingkir Sekali Lagikah Dr Mahathir?

Thank you, Dr M

Screenshots: Will Umno sack Mahathir?

Will Umno sack Mahathir?

PAS leader: Pak Lah to sack Mahathir from Umno

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Root causes of Samy's insolence, indiscipline

Minister Samy Vellu's insolence and public outburst against an established parliamentary commttee could be seen as a street drama. However, for the more seriously minded observers of Malaysian politics, the incident is symptomatic of the "half-past-sixness" of the governing institutions which seem to have reached another new height under PM Abdullah's administration:

1. It seems that PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi still does not really know he is the Cabinet boss of Samy Vellu because if he does, surely he could have just ordered Samy firmly and decisively to appear before the PAC and be examined and judged by the select committee, or be sacked legally and constitutionally for disobedience (of course, it is wrong to frame him up for sodomy or order the IGP to beat him up personally under detention without trial in dark cell).

I really do not think Samy could have behaved so outrageously like what he now does had the Prime Minister still been Tun Abdul Razak or Tun Hussein Onn. I also do not think Samy, with what he has been behaving in the last few days could get away with such as 'murder' even for an hour in Singapore.

2. The Opposition is too weak numerically in the Parliament to create enough political pressure because Samy's party and coalition kaki , including PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and DPM Najib Tun Razak now take up 92% of the seats.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Elegant Silence broken by Splendid Big Bang

Whether one agrees with this or that idea of former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his public criticisms against PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, no serious observers have failed to see that he has scored three strategic victories without exploiting any crying daughter or grand daughter or any other ' innocent parties' in the 'battle' as 'human shields':

1. From being contained and blacked out, he has broken out on the domestic and international media front with a Splendid Big Bang;

2. After holding for a few days the line of Elegant Silence , PM Abdullah has retreated by ordering "relevant ministries and agencies" to answer the questions raised in his public criticisms;

3. Powerful Umno Baru personalities like Najib have declared that he would not be sacked from Umno despite many see his public criticisms against PM Abdullah and the government as serious breach of party discipline.

What's next?

Will Umno sack Mahathir?

Pre-empting Mahathir’s next move

Dr M vs Pak Lah: Between Yin and Yang

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A man who has seen enough 'paper tigers' ...

So, Minister Samy Vellu has shown his taikoship again by challenging Parliament's Public Account Committee (PAC) to cite him for contempt.

What can his Cabinet boss PM Abdullah and official Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang do to him effectively, now that he seems to be the indispensable taiko again in his party ? Would he be suspended or sacked like what the National Front Whip did to MIC's secretary-general Sothinathan for speaking in the Parliament out of the government line? Has the Public Account Committee, in which there is a DAP representative, the political will and real power to effectively cause taiko Samy to appear for examination and judgement by the parliamentary committee?

Taiko Samy, like ex-PM Tun Dr. Mahathir, has certainly seen enough 'paper tigers' in his long political career to spot the difference between real threat and mere bluff and value the occasional effectiveness of pura-pura shock-and-awe brinkmanship.

Act against me, Samy dares PAC

PAC: Samy can be cited for contempt

Samy: Let Shahrir run the Works Ministry

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Are Kalimullah, Khairy going to sue Matthias?

Former political secretary to Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Britain-trained lawyer Matthias Chang has publicly made serious allegations against Kalimullah and Khairy by names which are published in the Oriental Daily, Sin Chew Daily and Singapore's Straits Times.

So, are they going to sue Matthias for defamation to clear their names? Dare Kalimullah and Khairy sue Matthias in court? If they sue, don't they worry more details would be exposed? If they don't sue, don't they also worry what Matthias has said would become TRUTHS in the minds of the public?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dr. M doesn't need any parliamentary forum

The suggestion that ex-PM Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad be appointed a senator so that he can has a "proper" forum to air his views and criticisms does not sound very intelligient and serious to this blogger.

For those who knows his political history, Dr. Mahathir had been long involved in serious politics even before he first became an elected MP in 1964. After he lost the 1969 general election and was sacked as Umno member thereafter, he continued to make impacts in politics, for good or ill, without any parliamentary forum. After retirement as an internationally well-known ( famous to some and infamous to other) former PM, Dr. Mahathir still has many connections and platforms to make his voices heard.

By not holding any official position, he has actually regained freedom of action and total control of elements of surprise in all his strategic moves because his questions do not have to be first screened by parliamentary clerks, and the timing and mode of delivering speeches are also not conditioned by the all-powerful Speaker or Party Whip who may not be on par with him intellectually.

A wider and more in-depth view on history and human society shows that Parliament is not the alpha and omega of democratic politics although it is not an unimportant part of it.

Pre-empting Mahathir’s next move

Dr M vs Pak Lah: Between Yin and Yang

Delving into history of modern India ...

India's modern history has always fascinated me but for many years, I had regrettably found no time to learn about it more systematically. However, I have began a few days ago to read Lawrence James' Raj - The Making of British India (London, Abacus, 2003). It is a thick book with 722 pages but since I do not aspire to be an expert on Indian affairs, it puts no pressure on me. There is also no deadline as it is a pleasure reading.

For those who are worried that I might be brainwashed into seeing India from an imperialist historian's perspective, allow me to assure you that I have read enough anti-imperialist literature for my mind to be always on alert of attempt of cultural subversion. I also know the same book has another title Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India and Lawrence has also written another book The Rise and Fall of the British Empire which I read some years ago.

Monday, June 12, 2006

" Elegant silence " or something else ?

Sweet- and smooth-taking mind-guards of PM Abdullah have suggested that Abdullah is right in maintaining "elegant silence" vis-a-vis former PM Mahathir's criticisms, but it seems to this blogger - who sembang-sembang with more wiser and disinterested people over the weekend- that there are simultaneously other interpretations of the silence, which include the following lines:

1. Dr. Mahathir is vocal for berani kerana benar, and Abdullah has to maintain silent for takut kerana salah;

2. Abdullah maintains silent because his oratory and debating skill as well as persuasive power are not as effective as Dr. Mahathir's;

3. Abdullah maintains silent because he is still silently shocked and awed by Dr. Mahathir's sudden and no-hold-bar criticisms and has not reached consensus with his muddle-headed mind-guards and mind-conditioners (whose intellectual levels have not broken beyond or higher than those cheap Hong Kong, Hollywood or Bollywood soap operas' scripts) on how to respond;

4. The inner circle of Abdullah is afraid that response to Dr. Mahathir's criticisms would lead to more debates and may reveal more other controversies in governmental decision-making in the process;

5. Abdullah has actually communicated with Dr. Mahathir privately without the knowledge of the mass of his mind-guards and mind-controllers (some of them may actually be lobbyists for foreign capital and other foreign interests) who try to isolate him (Abdullah) from smarter advisers and critics for their (mind-guards and mind-controllers) own exploitation and manipulation.

Don't ever underestimate the political sopistication of the rakyat jelata on the ground. The pelanduk-pelanduk are now more educated and politically conscious than before.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why not debate substantive, real issues-leh ?

(New Edition) I observe the 'outpour' of those statements expressing support for PM Abdullah in the last few days with great amusement. Has Tun ever asked Umno Baru members, the people or country to overthrow Abdullah? Has Abdullah ever declared "you are for me or against me"? Has the New Straits Times not told us that Abdullah is very "cool" and "steady" by not responding to Tun's criticisms?

Why obsess with declaring support for or opposition to personalities in Manichean terms as if Armageddon has come?

Certainly, the world will not end with or without Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib Tun Razak, Mahathir Mohamad, Brendan Pereira, Kalimullah Hassan, Umno Baru or Barisan Nasional because human society and civilisation have existed for thousands of years before they came into being on Bumi Malaya.

So, why not discuss or debate the real and substantive points or policy issues of public interest raised by Tun, whether we finally agree with his own opinions or not ? Ambil-lah yang jernih, buangkan yang keruh.

Why are Abdullah and his supporters afraid of taking the bull by the horn? Isn't it a reflection that Tun and his followers berani kerana benar, and Abdullah and his supporters takut kerana salah?

These are the two questions ordinary people are asking now and which may have been blocked by Rasputins, eunuchs, chamberlains, scribes, jesters and other palatial mind-guards from reaching the ears of the new emperor.

Answer Dr M, Anwar tells Pak Lah

Saya cuma mahukan jawapan, Kata Mahathir

Wartawan ditegah tanya Pak Lah tentang kritikan Dr M

Dr M vs Pak Lah: Between Yin and Yang

A pertinent point made by Tun Dr. Mahathir

Tun raised a very pertinent and important point today when he reportedly said that ministers who disagreed with him during his tenure should have voiced their opposition and resigned then.

This exactly is the point many Malaysians in the streets and observers of Malaysian politics find it puzzling:

How could those Cabinet Ministers, including Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib Tun Razak, Samy Vellu and Ong Ka Teng who supported Tun's decisions when he was the PM now turn around, revoke the decisions they had made collectively and blame it - and everything bad under the sun before October 2003 - all on Tun alone?

Did Tun surround the venues of Cabinet meetings with the army, police, FRU or armed mob thratening other ministers to support his idea of, say, building the "crooked" or "scenic" bridge? Did Tun threaten to sack them if they did not express support for his ideas or decisions? Did Tun drug them and make them expressed support all his ideas and decisions in Cabinet meetings under undue influence?

This, of course, is not to say that a really bad decision such as the "crooked" or "scenic" bridge must never be revoked, but those who took part in the decision-making process in the Cabinet and initially supported the decision must not be hypocrtical and blame one "evil" ex-boss for all the stupidity. They, including Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib Tun Razak, Samy Vellu, Ong Ka Teng and other ministers who serve both administrations must be jantan enough to also admit their own mistakes and errors in supporting or not objecting to the stupid idea initially.

This is certainly not a personal attack on anybody but a point involving the collective credibility of the system of governance in Malaysia and the Government of Malaysia.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A question about succession and betrayal ...

My father's old friend Uncle Lam from Ipoh's Canning Garden just emailed me to ask sarcastically why didn't Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad groom one of his sons to be his political successor like some of the smart first-world politicians in our midst did so that the question of feeling betrayed by successor would not arise.

Well, I think it is best for the question to be answered by Tun or those who feel it is their duty to explore it from all dimensions, including European perspective.

Rich country, rich elites, poor people ?

I think Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has gone a little bit overboard and personal in his criticisms against PM Abdullah. However, if we are mature enough, we can still find some useful points for public debate. For example, Tun opines that the country is still very rich with plenty of Petronas money around. So, if the country is still rich, why should the prices of petrol and electricity be increased to burden the working people?

I am sure mature and socially responsible Malaysians can find out more intelligent and public-interest questions raised by Tun for public debate. Why waste time on personalities? Debate the real points and issues which are of public interest. Ambil yang jernih, buang yang keruh.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Amir to speak in S'gor Chinese Assembly Hall

Date:11 June 2006 (Sunday)
Time: 3.30 pm
Venue: Auditorium, Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (1st Floor) No.1, Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur.

Amir Muhammad, a critically acclaimed Malaysian director, writer and producer, recently courted controversy over his latest film, Lelaki Communist 'Terakhir’', which resulted in the film’s banning by the Minister for Home Affairs.

Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD) is pleased to have Amir share his thoughts and experiences on the making and subsequent banning of his film.

Amir is a writer and independent filmmaker based in Kuala Lumpur.

He has been writing for the Malaysian print media since the age of 14. In 2000 he wrote and directed Malaysia’s first DV feature, and his works have been featured in many international film festivals including Sundance and Berlin. He has also helped produce several other Malaysian DV movies.

The official T-Shirts of Lelaki Komunist 'Terakhir’ will be launched at the talk. Get them before they’re banned.

NB. Seats are limited and reservations must be made in advance.
Please make your reservations via phone during office hours (03-79578342) or email to

Monday, June 05, 2006

British Army WWII veteran defends Chin Peng

Today's Sun newspaper published in P.12 a very enlightening or mind-opening interview with a retired captain of the British Army Lawrence Chew, 82, who publicly hails veteran of the Communist Party of Malaya Chin Peng as "a freedom fighter".

He also reportedly said that during the 'Emergency' between 1948 and 1960, Chin Peng fought against the British who had re-colonised Malaya after the Japanese withdrew, and not against the people.

Chew also reportedly said that, during the Occupation when many were killed by the Japanese invaders, "Chin Peng gathered people and led them into the jungle for survival" and later "taught and trained the British forces to fight the Japanese in the jungle".

Chew himself joined the British Army at 17 and fought alongside the communist guerrilla forces.

After the outbreak of the anti-colonial war in June 1948, Chew fought his communist ex-allies until 1950. Chew, who now lives in Selayang, calls for the ban on Amir Mouhammad Lelaki Komunis 'Terakhir' to be lifted and Chin Peng be allowed to return to his homeland.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Faces of Courage still not released by gov't

Since very young, I have always been thrilled by reading banned books, books whose bans have just been lifted or famous books that are difficult to obtain like Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's The Malay Dilemma or Kassim Ahmad's Universiti Kedua. My five-year stay in Australia from 1981-1986 afforded me the most treasured moment in my life because I was able to read this type of books.

This feeling returned recently when I read Faces of Courage (Singapore, Media Masters, 2006), co-authored by Sybil Kathigasu, Chin Peng, Norma Miraflor and Ian Ward. I have finished reading it but most of other Malaysians are not that fortunate because it is still not officially approved for sale by the Home Affairs Ministry. It is, of course, available in many other first world countries like Singapore and Australia.

Nowadays, even books like Said Zahari's Meniti Lautan Gelora - Sebuah Memoir Politik and Dalam Ribuan Mimpi Gelisah - Memoir Said Zahari are also publicly available for sale in Singapore. Amir Muhammad's Lelaki Komunis 'Terakhir' has been also screened across the Causeway without difficulty. See the difference between Malaysia and Singapore after 40 years of separation and 15 years after the end of the Cold War?

Another 'Chin Peng book' held up

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Police must not be turned into a voting bloc

The public threats made by a segment of the police which is opposed to the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) are rightly condemned by all right-minded Malaysians. What interests me now is the one which says that if the IPCMC is set up by the National Front government, the police would vote for the Opposition.

It means that all this while, the police has been voting for the National Front. But is it true that all policemen have been voting for the National Front en bloc or en masse? My own observation is that they are always policemen who privately support opposition parties in elections as individual citizens.

As a matter of principle, all policemen are entitled to vote with secret ballots as individual citizens in general or by-elections. I think any attempt on the part of some top police officers to turn the entire institution of police into a single, monolithic, undifferentiated and collective voting bloc is not only a threat to civilian rule ( like the Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia or ABRI in Sukarno's Indonesia) but also a blatant insult to thousands of their fellow policemen who may be supporters for the National Front, PAS, KeADILan or DAP in elections in the past.

I think no policemen must be duped into joining a single, monolithic, undifferentiated and collective voting bloc in general or by-elections as pawns in the high-level power struggles among ruling elites. Every policemen must think of himself or herself as human beings, responsbile parents or children and private citizens when they cast their votes.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Of course, policemen can vote for Opposition

This blogger is for IPCMC.

He also consistently condemns brutalities, atrocities and abuses of power committed by the police, not only now but since long time ago. It is also certainly wrong for any policemen or police officers to exploit the name or facilities of the institution or corporate body of the police to be a self-interested lobby group or the front organisation of any political parties, including Umno Baru or MCA.

However, given all these, this blogger wishes also to reaffirm one fundamental democratic principle: individual policemen can vote for any political parties, including the Opposition like PAS, KeADILan or DAP, without being loyal or disloyal to the country. Those who say that for individual policemen to vote for opposition parties are disloyal to the country or 'unprofessional' are setengah-masak democrats.

Policemen are also human beings, citizens, taxpayers, income-earners, parents and children. Many of them and their parents and children also suffer from hikes in petrol price and electricity rate, inflation, breakdown of Kuala Lumpur's traffic system, inadequate housing for the poor and other negative impacts of wrong, misguided and class-biased policies of the government of the day. As such, policemen can of course vote for the Opposition just like any other human beings, citizens, taxpayers, income-earners, parents and children.

Although policemen are not supposed to be political in the discharge of their professional duties while on duty, they can attend ceremah or join in any political discussion when they are off duty. It is the same with soldiers, public servants, university academics, staff and students as well as all other citizens who are voters, whatever their functional categorizations in the social division of labour.

Strengths, weaknesses of China's economy

As I have said earlier, I attended a very crowded public lecture on China's economy last Sunday. The speaker was Beijing University's Professor as well as the founder and director of China Center for Economic Development, Justin Lin Yifu who is also a top economic adviser to the Central Government of China. Lin holds PhD in economics from the Chicago University in the United States.

Below is my report of the gist of his presentation in Mandarin. It came out late because I really needed time to find the accurate English technical terms to match his Mandarin presentation. Fortunately, I still keep a personal library of basic reference books of economics (please subscribe to malaysiakini)

China’s economic growth – a bird’s eye view

Feel free to also sembang-sembang some of my previous interviews with prominent Malaysians and Singaporeans on China's strategic environment and international relations:

US, Japan encircling China?

Changing China - views of a scholar (Part 1)

Changing China - views of a scholar (Part 2)

Rising China - challenge or opportunity? (Part 1)

Rising China - challenge or opportunity? (Part 2)

Rising China - challenge or opportunity? (Part 3)

Rising China - challenge or opportunity? (Part 4)

Rising China - challenge or opportunity? (Part 5)