Sunday, September 30, 2007

M' sian PM on root cause of Iraqi predicament

According to Bernama, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) has "strongly condemned" the US Senate plan "to split" Iraq along ethnic and religious lines. Earlier, Malaysian PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in the UN General Assembly that "foreign occupation is causing much of the problems confronting the country now and Iraqis should be given the full opportunity to determine their own future".

US needs ‘ long-term presence ’ in Iraq, Gates says

M' sian FM : US troops must be pulled out from Iraq

It is business as usual in Myanmar for oil firms

For oil companies like ONGC Videsh Limited of India and other, it is still " business as usual " in Myanmar despite its political turbulence. But, while, according to Bloomberg, Chinese premier Wen Jiaobao " has urged Myanmar to seek a peaceful resolution to the protests ", India, another state bordering Myanmar, officially remains silent in spite of the pressures reportedly piled upon it by the US and Europe.

China & India face common Myanmar dilemma

Friday, September 28, 2007

China & India face common Myanmar dilemma

Besides China, India is also obviously caught in the middle of the Myanmar muddle and, according to its former foreign secretary S. Shashank, New Delhi's approach towards Myanmar has, therefore, to be "naunced". The common dilemma faced by both China and India is actually not really unlike the situations confronted by Australia and the United States when East Timor was invaded by General Suharto's Indonesia in 1975 and the people of the Philippines rallied in Manila to protest against the corrupt Marcos regime in 1986 respectively.

But, the situation in Myanmar has become really grave and pressing and the moral outrage throughout the world provoked by the military junta in Rangoon is real. So, it is certainly time for the international community to act as one to solidaritise with the people of Myanmar with problem-solving ways and means that would effectively work towards peace, justice and reconciliation as well as regional stability.

Japan PM regrets killing but keeps aid to Myanmar

Japan' s PM Fukuda to make critical decisions

According to Bernama, Japan's new premier Yasuo Fukuda "intends to visit China at an early date" and The Japan Times also reports that China's Premier Wen Jiaobao "told a Japanese business delegation Thursday that he hopes new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will visit China at an early date". Meanwhile, according to AFP, US President George W. Bush has also invited Fukuda to visit the United States "at an early date" and Reuter reports that ambassadors from eleven countries including the United States and Pakistan " urged Tokyo on Thursday to extend its naval mission in support of US-led operations in Afghanistan". PM Fukuda certainly has some major decisions to be made for the future direction of Japan's foreign and security policies.

Sharing ideas with a Japan-educated Chinese

Japan's new PM may retract nationalist policy

Wen Jiabao : most Japanese also war victims

Thursday, September 27, 2007

US private security firms in Iraq under probes

According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates " has ordered U.S. military commanders in Iraq to crack down on any abuses they uncover by private security contractors in the aftermath of a deadly shooting involving American guards that infuriated Iraqis" . Meanwhile, Asia Times also reports that the Blackwater USA incident has caused political problems for Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki who is now seen to be, or accused of being, incapable to enforce an independent decision for his own country.

By the way, I was told by a friend in Singapore that there is a very comprehensive study on the proliferation of private security firms in the post-Cold War world, namely P.W. Singer's Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (New York, Cornell University Press, 2004). I am certainly interested to know or learn more about the subject but I really do not think I would purchase one simply because of budgetary constraint.

I only hope someone could lend it to me for a month or two when I can afford the time to peruse it. Anyway, I still have a few books like Kevin Cooney's Japan's Foreign Policy Since 1945 (New York, East Gate, 2007) that have not been read with attention or concentration.

Bush ' concerned ' about Blackwater squabble

New books on American IR in personal library

Sharing ideas with a Japan-educated Chinese

Just met Mr. Loke Thu Sang (陆培春) in his KL office and exchanged some broad perspectives and ideas on the latest development in post-Abe Japanese politics. Mr. Loke, 61, is a Chinese Malaysian who graduated in Japanese language studies from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and whose wife is a Japanese. Also conversant in English and Malay, he still serves as a Visiting Professor for Aomori Chuo Gakuin University in Japan and he has also been publishing books and writing columns on Japanese society and politics with in-depth knowledge of his subject-matter as well as cultural nuances for major Chinese-language newspapers in Malaysia like Nanyang Siang Pau and Sin Chew Jit Poh for the past many years since 1980s.

Election of LDP chief predicted by M' sian don

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dr. Kissinger fascinated by Ms. Tang' s English

It is on Chinese public record that the command of English of Nancy Tang Wensheng (left), the official interpreter of Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, was so impressive that Dr. Henry Kissinger remarked in Beijing in 1972 that she could actually run for US presidency. Of course, English is now the most popular second language in China and the country's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, is also "a fluent speaker of English".

Several leading institutes of higher learning in China, such as Beijing Foreign Studies University , also offer full courses on, among other languages of the world, Malay, Indonesian, Arabic, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian and Japanese and the official China Radio International nowadays broadcasts in 43 languages like Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Nepali, Pushtu, Singhalese and Urdu. Certainly, there are also many schools and programmes in universities in China that offer Chinese-as-Second-Language courses to foreign students.

Rudd' s Mandarin impresses Chinese president

' Nancy ' as Chairman Mao's interpreter in 1972

Rudd' s Mandarin impresses Chinese president

One of the topics of leisurely conversation with friends during my recent three-day visit to Singapore was why Down Under's Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd chose to learn Mandarin or the Chinese language in the 1970s and also how has he managed to master it to the degree that even China's President Hu Jintao was " stunned ".

Multilingualism as national asset, not liability

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wishing dear mother, all family members, neighbours and friends an enjoyable and happy Mid-Autumn Festival night. Have fun, children !

Election of LDP chief predicted by M'sian don

UKM's Professor Lee Poh Ping (left), whom I interviewed via email for malaysiakini a few days before the election of Yasuo Fukuda (above) as the new chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has made an accurate prediction based on clear-minded analysis. He is a Senior Fellow of UKM's Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) and also President of the Malaysian Association of Japanese Studies (MAJAS).

In the past four years, I have also interviewed Professor Lee Poh Ping on eight other themes of international relations, namely M’sia should meet the challenges of a different America, US future strategy in Asia-Pacific: a M’sian forecast (Part 1), US future strategy in Asia-Pacific – a M’sian forecast (Part 2), Is Iraq another Vietnam for US ?, US, Japan encircling China?, The East Asian community, US Global Position - an updated survey and 'Arc of Democracy' ? Needless to say, some of the observations and assumptions in the questions and/or answers may have been outdated by the changed or fast changing situations in the world since those interviews were first published.

Five facts about Japanese politician Taro Aso

Taro Aso's gaffe dossier grows longer, thicker

Monday, September 24, 2007

Home sweet home after 3-day visit to S' pore

Just came back by the affordable and comfortable Aeroline coach from Singapore an hour ago after spending the last three days there exchanging ideas with friends and visiting great bookshops like Kinokuniya as well as Border at the always very lively Orchard Road. Having unconsciously over-spent my time in Kinokuniya and Border, I could not make it to Select Books at the Tanglin Shopping Centre.

My book listed by Singapore' s military library

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bush ' concerned ' about Blackwater squabble

According to an AFP news report, US President George W. Bush is "obviously concerned" about the Blackwater USA controversy in Iraq.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Worldwide spotlight on private security firms

The decision of the government of Iraq to suspend the licence of Blackwater USA whose employees were allegedly involved in a fatal shootout in Baghdad last Sunday that allegedly killed 8 " innocent civilians " has generated a global debate on the role, function and jurisdiction of private security firms or companies operating in Iraq and elsewhere in the world. These controversial firms or companies are also sometimes termed or known as private security contractors.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mooncakes now serve as cross-cultural bridge

Mooncakes, a symbol of the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival of the Chinese community now also serve as a cross-cultural bridge in a Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) programme of strenghtening inter-ethnic solidarity and mutual respect among rakyat jelata in multi-cultural Malaysia through leaders like Zuraida Kamaruddin (left) and William Leong (right) who work among the people in the streets.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Inside Shanghai' s Garden of Leisurely Repose

Shanghai City has been a very modern and densely populated metropolis with its strikingly awesome jungle of skyscrapers and massive web of highways, subways and flyovers. There is, however, still one remarkably conspicuous green lung in the form of the Garden of Leisurely Repose or Yuyuan Garden which was constructed during the Ming Dynasty and where I happily failed to resist the temptation of the Xinjiang Mutton Satays breaching my dietary regime or discipline for cholesterol control.

Travelling from Hangzhou to Shanghai on rail

Travelling from Hangzhou to Shanghai on rail

Taking an one-hour train journey from Hangzhou to Shanghai was quite an experience because of the sights of the ordinary masses in China on the move with their luggages and of the views of the semi-urban areas that lay in between two cities, and my first impression was that the massive and complex system of railways in the region, including the crowd management and public security in the stations, is very well developed and efficiently organised. Managing crowds, especaially in open space, to maintain social peace and stability has been an uniquely central concern for all types of governments at all levels since time immemorial in the most populous nation on earth.

Feeling heavenly on West Lake's earthly bank

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Feeling heavenly on West Lake's earthly bank

When I was younger, I used to secretly think that the descriptions of the heavenly beauty of Hangzhou and its West Lake by grandmother and other elderly relatives and neighbours were either chauvinistic exaggerations or jingoistic fantasies but, having been there to see and feel about it, I must now admit I was wrong and they were right.

My fellow traveller Abdullah Ahmad (left), who first visited China and met Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing in May 1974 on an official delegation led by ex-PM Tun Abdul Razak which established the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, shared my fascination with the poetic and romantic Hangzhou and its West Lake. It was him who proposed the last-minute change of the duration of stay in Hangzhou from one day to two and he certainly enjoyed the view of West Lake at night from the balcony of his room at the Shangri-La Hotel which is located on its bank.

Although the Hangzhou Shangri-La Hotel is essentially very Western in its interior decoration, menu, musical performances and services, it is now also selling moon cakes and brightening up its lobby with traditional lanterns as the Mid-Autumn Festival is fast approaching. Like Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and other parts of China, halal restaurants and groceries are also easily available in Hangzhou as Islam or Hui Jiao has been an enriching element of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Chinese civilisation for the past 1,300 years.

Hangzhou epitomises ancient beauty of China

Hangzhou epitomises ancient beauty of China

After our four-day stay in Guangzhou, Malaysia's former ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Ahmad and I went to tour Hangzhou which is a very poetic city with many romantic legends as well as imperial rest houses, lakes, gardens and bridges designed and built during the Song Dynasty. The stone statue behind me bears the image of Su Dongpo whose poems I and many other children read in Chinese-language school textbooks at lower secondary in the 1970s.

Hangzhou is also the ancient centre of learning associated with the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet, viz Liang Shanbo Yu Zhu Yintai or, as more widely known in the English-language world, Butterfly Lovers. Like William Shakespeare's masterpiece, Butterfly Lovers is also a story of tragic romance which is still being appreciated in the forms of poems, operas and orchestras.

According to our tour guide, the legendary 'Tattoed Monk' Lu Zhi Shen, who was one of the 108 Righteous Rebels in the classical Chinese literature Shuihu Zhuan, actually died in Hangzhou. Shuihu Zhuan, which is often compared to the Robin Hood folk tales in medieval England, is available in three English editions, namely Water Margin, Outlaws of the Marsh and All Men are Brothers.

Musa Hitam plays matchmaker to Johor and Xinjiang

Alternative history of Malaya in modern films

I went to attend the Freedom Film Fest 2007 just now at the Annexe of Central Market in downtown Kuala Lumpur and met Eunice Lau from Singapore (left) and Fahmi Reza from Malaysia (right) who produced I Love Malaya and Sepuluh Tahun Sebelum Merdeka respectively. It was the first time I met Eunice whom Suriani has spoken so much in our occasional conversations over telephones.

An art exhibition featuring Hishamuddin Rais

Amir' s review of a 30- year old ' comic book '

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sharing knowledge in a campus in New China

On the morning of 5 Sept, 2007 (Wed), Malaysia's former ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Ahmad and I visited the old or original campus of the Sun Yat-Sen University on the bank of the Pearl River and we were met and welcome by Dr. Edward Wang (Xue Dong) who is a bilingual Fulbright Scholar serving as the Assistant Professor of the Department of International Politics as well as Vice Director of the Center for American Studies of the university. Sharing more or less the same intellectual interest and common experience of visiting the United States, three of us certainly enjoyed the free and frank exchanges of ideas and viewpoints as we toured with leisurely pace the greenish and scenic campus which is also very cosmopolitan.

Returned as veep of M' sian U.S. studies group

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Multilingualism as national asset, not liability

Now that the absolute majority of Malaysians of all races is able to communicate with one another in Bahasa Malaysia, it is time for all, especally the still monolingual ones, to acquire the knowledge of a second or even third language to cope with the accelerating process of globalisation in all fields and also to foster national unity and solidarity. Multilingualism is an asset, not liability, for the nation.

Meanwhile, Clare Street also wishes all Muslim friends in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, southern Thailand, China, the United States, Australia, Oman and other places in the world Selamat Berpuasa.

Remembering National Literati Usman Awang

New FM of China "a fluent speaker of English"

Mandarin- speaking Aussie Opposition Leader

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Abdullah Ahmad greets Imam Wang in mosque

While touring and lecturing in Guangzhou City, Malaysia's former ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Ahmad also paid a visit to the 1,300-year old Great Mosque of Guangzhou or the Masjid Huaisheng on 6 Sept, 2007 (Thurs) and he was welcome by Imam Shaikh Abdullah Mohammad Wang Wenjie who told us in English that he had just returned from a visit to Malaysia and Singapore. Wang Wenjie is also the imam as well as Vice President of the Guangzhou Islamic Association, Vice Secretary-General of Guangdong Provincial Islamic Association and a Member of the Guangzhou City Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Remembering National Literati Usman Awang

Greeting Chairman Mao's interpreter ' Nancy '

Sharing thrill, fun with kids in Arabian desert

@ DKL shares knowledge with Chinese youths

At the invitation of China' s Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, Malaysia' s former ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Ahmad delivered a two-hour lecture on The Past, Present & Future of Malaysia-China Bilateral Relations on 5 Sept (Wed) at the Guangzhou University City to teachers as well as students of the university' s Department of International Relations and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Impressed by the command of English and knowledge of the world of his audience as shown during the Q-&-A session, Abdullah, 70, called for more intellectual dialogues and academic exchanges between Malaysia and China, especially among youths.

New China positions for next transformation

New China' s truly gigantic, futuristic campus

Delivering lectures to China's undergraduates

My post- graduate students in SYS University

A multiethnic, multinational campus in China

Eternal glory to Malaya' s anti-fascist martyrs

After four years of architectural planning and construction works, the monument dedicated by grateful people to the eternal glory of anti-fascist martyrs and fighters of all races and nationalities during the Japanese invasion and occupation of Malaya was finally unveiled at the Nilai Memorial Park at 10.00 a.m on 1 Sept, 2007 (Sat). Another WWII monument was also unveiled in Parit Sulong on 5 Sept, 2007 (Wed) by Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Penny Williams and some of Australia's war veterans to remember and honour the Diggers who were massacred cold-bloodedly after being captured.

Martyrs of Malaya's anti-fascist war honoured

May Mrs. Sybil Kathigasu's spirit shine forever

Lee Meng honours martyrs of anti-fascist war

China remembers Marco Polo Bridge 'Incident'

Resistance to fascism remembered in Europe

Ponnusamy remembers Japan's Death Railway

More accurate Malayan WWII history in S'pore

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Remembering National Literati Usman Awang

Last night, I was invited as a guest of honour to the launch of Turunnya Sebuah Bendera, a Malay-language collection of short stories written by National Literati Usman Awang (1929 - 2001). At the KL Central Market where the launch was held, I met some old personal friends of the late Usman Awang (left) like Lee Ban Chen, Tan Kai Hee, Dr. M.K. Rajakumar and another National Literati, A. Samad Said.

According to Mr. Tan (pix above, second from left), who is now a successful businessman and also the Honorary Secretary of the Malaysia-China Friendship Association, he and his generation of progressive Chinese were inspired by the humanist personality and inclusivist outlook of Usman Awang to learn the Malay language as early as 1950s and 1960s without being forced by anyone. He recalled that Usman Awang also encouraged the translation of progressive works of modern Chinese literature into the Malay language.

Dr. Rajakumar, also speaking in Malay, said that his friendship with Usman Awang was so close that he treated the latter's daughter Lyna "almost" as his own, especially since both of her parents passed away. Lyna Usman Awang (left) was also present to share her thoughts about her father whose most well-known nom de plume was Tongkat Warrant.

Lee Ban Chen (pix above, left), an ex-editor of the Sin Chew Jit Poh and a veteran Chinese educationist with Dong Jiao Zong (DJZ), now writes Malay-language columns in the online malaysiakini. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, while he was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for leading strikes of plantation workers, he had already written a book on modern philosophy in Malay.

Colouful lanterns herald Mid-Autumn Festival

Social liberation from ignorance, superstition

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Martyrs of Malaya's anti-fascist war honoured

At 10.00 a.m today, some 350 individuals and representatives from civil society organisations in Peninsula Malaysia, Singapore and China gathered at the Nilai Memorial Park to publicly honour and salute the 18 martyrs of the 1942 Battle of Batu Cave as well as all their fellow anti-fascist fighters of all ethnic communities and nationalities during the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1941 to 1945.

Australian government to build war monument in Parit Sulong

Aussie WWII veterans to attend memorial service in Malaysia

PM of M'sia offers formal apology to Indonesia

According to a news report in the Jakarta Post, Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has also offered formal apology to Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono "on the eve of its 50th Independence Day" for the alleged assault of an Indonesian karate referee Donald Peter Luther Kolopita by four Malaysian policemen in Negeri Sembilan recently. The report also reveals that an earlier letter of apology sent by Malaysian IGP Musa Hassan to Donlad Peter Luther Kolopita was written in the English language.

' Black ' raid: ex-US naval officer back to M' sia to get his dues

Police raid: Indian envoy awaits gov't response to protest note