Thursday, January 31, 2008

Propaganda & struggle of counter-propaganda

Although the effective power of BN's propaganda has been weakened considerably as compared to the pre-1998 era as the combined result of the revolution in the information and communication technologies (RICV) and other factors, the reality remains that, ultimately, ruling parties and their business supporters still control the mass-based and daily mainstream media in Malaysia legally, politically and financially, maintaining a playing field that is not even against opposition parties which still need to make breakthroughs with really limited resources.

My collection of observations on by-elections

Encyclopaedia Britannica still not banned yet

PM Abdullah's Internal Security Ministry has once again issued a list of banned books which includes Stephen Schwartz's Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism ( New York, Anchor Book, 2003 ) which was freely available for sale in bookshops in Kuala Lumpur in the last few years and which I - and many other- have also read. Encyclopaedia Britannica has still not been censored or banned.

Logical implications of racialising 'Allah' term

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sukarno' s widow Dewi can' t forgive Suharto

Ratna Sari Dewi Sukarno, the third wife of Indonesia's first president Sukarno (1901-1970), reportedly lashed out at Suharto (1921-2008) on the same day the latter was buried. Dewi was born Naoko Nemoto.

Politics of Indonesia in historical perspective

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Politics of Indonesia in historical perspective

Adam Schwarz's A Nation in Waiting - Indonesia's Search for Stability (Singapore, Talisman, 2004) remains, until now, my most used and very useful English-language general reference book on the political culture, institutions, personalities, dynamic and process of Indonesia discoursed with solid facts and figures from a historical perspective. Schwarz's assessment, in the Introduction to the Third Impression, of the three post-Suharto presidents in Indonesia, namely B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri, is fairly insightful.

Remember victims of Suharto' s White Terror

Remember victims of Suharto' s White Terror

It is certainly time to remember the countless number of victims of the 1965-1966 anti-communist massacres and Suharto's subsequent 32-year rule, including those in the 1997-1998 anti-Chinese riots. Let us pray for the national reconciliation of the people of Indonesia of all ethnic identities in a changed country and international environment.

No condolence or tribute for Suharto' s death

Monday, January 28, 2008

No condolence or tribute for Suharto' s death

As for condolences or tributes expressed for the death of Suharto in the name of Malaysia or the Malaysian people, please count me out. Singaporean MM Lee Kuan Yew's obituary also does not represent my sentiment or feeling although he shares the same ethnicity with me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Umno' s campaigns of character-assassination

Just about three days before polling in the 1990 general election, the government-owned Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) and the many Umno-controlled newspapers like the Utusan Malaysia launched a last-minute, very focussed and simply overwhelming blitzkrieg of target-specific character- assassination against ex-Finance Minister and a then opposition leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah by depicting with a controversial picture taken in Sabah and accusing him with words of being either a "secret Christian" or "Christian sympathiser". There was no time and space then for rebutting against the uncontrollable spread of the Big Lie and Ku Li's party lost badly as the result of it. Of course, ten years after the outbreak of Reformasi, many Malaysians are now very contemptuously familiar with Umno's arsenal of bogeys such as the so-called "International Jewry", "Western agents", "Global Chinese chauvinism" and "Hindu extremism" but it still worries me that, according to newspaper vendor Uncle Murugiah, Mastika is still the best-selling Malay-language monthly even among youths in towns.

Propaganda and its unintended consequences

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Propaganda and its unintended consequences

As DAP's 1995 Robocop fiasco or debacle has clearly shown, what is intended by publicists or propagandists may not actually be responded by the majority of the targeted 'recipients' positively or may even be detested negatively because, among other factors, of the divergence of value, interest, mood and taste between propagandists and their targets. So, holding grand parties or concerts as electoral campaign programmes amid economic downturn or uncertainty or rising crime rate may be popularly resented as insensitive, uncaring or wasteful, and 'Information' Minister Zainuddin Maidin's claim that his opponent would surely lose deposit could be perceived or felt by the voters in Merbok - or interpreted by his opponent - to be sombong sangat and lead to the opposite result which he never intends when making the 'prediction' meant to boost his own morale and that of his supporters.

Coming upsurge of BN' s propaganda of ' love'

Friday, January 25, 2008

Coming upsurge of BN' s propaganda of ' love'

Besides TV footages of riots, another noteworthy indicator of the real approach of general election in Malaysia is the sudden upsurge of BN - especially MCA - leaders' conspicuous appearance at more and more specially staged programmes of public entertainment and/or cultural performances to project the image of 'love'. For the year 2008, the operation is, more like than not, to start with the Chinese New Year. Movie actors, singers and dancers are also likely to be employed and brought in from Indonesia, India (especially Tamil Nadu state) and/or China's Mainland, Taiwan and/or Hong Kong SAR for the purpose, and transportation, food and drink are also to be supplied 'free of charge'.

Revisiting DAP' s 1995 great Robocop debacle

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In memory of my personal friend Megat Junid

I certainly feel very sad to hear the passing away of a personal friend Megat Junid Megat Ayob. Despite our political differences and the partisan controversies surrounding him, we maintained not only cordial personal friendship but also fruitful bipartisan working relations when he was the Deputy Home Minister and I was an Opposition MP in the early 1990s.
It was Megat who accepted my public argument that the international passports of hundreds of Kinta Valley's working-class youths who had returned from overstaying in foreign countries should not be seized and detained by the authorities in Malaysia, and it was also Megat who personally facilitated the return, through my constituency office, some of those passports to holders like Ah Keong and Ah Yin. I also remember it was Megat who, in a reply to my question posed in the Parliament in 1991, announced categorically that The Internationale was no longer banned. Thank you and rest in peace, my dear friend.

Revisiting DAP' s 1995 great Robocop debacle

One of the most outrageously meaningless, unintelligible and surreal electoral campaign symbol I have ever seen is, without doubt, Lim Kit Siang's 1995 Robocop for DAP which led to the ignominious end of the party's Tanjung III project to capture Penang's state government and the supremo's personal defeat. Many of us then in the party who were independent-minded had already given contrarian assessment before the very controversial logo was officially launched but flight-of-fancy groupthink seemed to have prevailed in his inner circle. 13 years on, he has still not admitted and accepted political responsibility as the top decision-maker at the material time for the 1995 Robocop fiasco while the list of public figures whom he demands for accountability, both inside and outside the Parliament, has grown longer and longer.

Main script of BN' s fear propaganda revealed

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Main script of BN' s fear propaganda revealed

More likely than not, when the general election in Malaysia is really around the corner, footages of riots in South Asia and Africa would frequently appear in the TV 'news' or 'information' programmes and paid advertisements, justaposing or montaging with pictures of the Bersih and Hindraf rallies held in Kuala Lumpur. The objective is to send the messages that (1) opposition parties' leaders and supporters are "anti-national troublemakers" and (2) ruling parties' leaders and supporters are "saviours" of bangsa, negara and agama or, at least, "peace-loving patriots". What's new? What is the news? Yam Char ...

Full text of Anwar Ibrahim' s speech in S'pore

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bogeys in BN' s electoral propaganda tool box

So, what would be the fear-based bogeys for BN's propaganda attack against opposition parties and leaders in the 2008 general election ?

SEA' s largest Reclining Buddha is in Kelantan

BN' s basic propaganda themes for coming GE

As the general election in Malaysia is believed by some people to be around the corner, it is certainly interesting - and sometime quite amusing- to watch what is the mix of 'love' and 'fear' elements in the BN's pre-election psychological operations as subtly or not so subtly carried by the mainstream media of all languages. Can old dogs learn new tricks? Would untested new tricks be effective in this brave new world of massive transformation of social psychology as the result of the Revolution in Information & Communication Technology (RICT) ?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Malay communist Abu Samah's new biography

Dr. Mohamed Salleh Lamry has once again performed a very commendable public service to restore the true history of the struggle for independence in Malaya by publishing a new biography of Abu Samah bin Mohd. Kassim (pix left) who is a veteran of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). I certainly met Pak Abu Samah and his dear wife Makcik Siti Norkiah @ Minah more than once before and I am looking forward to visiting them again soon after the Chinese New Year is over.

Abdullah CD shares joy with Aziz Shamsuddin

Director Amir seeks to lift ban on history film

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wishing teachers, friends happy Australia Day

Happy Australia Day to all teachers and friends, like Lucia, Mark, Bill, Helen, Ah Hong and families down there, here and all over the world.

Mandarin-speaking Rudd to be new Aussie PM

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lion dance' s dazzling, irresistible magnetism

When I was a kid in Ipoh, I really enjoyed following and watching lion dancing in the streets during the Chinese New Year and always hoped to join one of the martial art associations then in town like the Jinwu Troupe or Zhonghua Lohan Troupe but, somehow, I ended up being a Boy Scout modelled in the old Anglo-American tradition. Still, I love to watch lion dancing and also to be excited by its stirring drum beats.

Thaipusam' s best wishes from James & family

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thaipusam's best wishes from James & family

My friend Beng Ching's elder brother Beng Heng called just now and asked whether I would join him to break coconuts with Hindu and other Chinese friends during the forthcoming Thaipusam as we used to do in the late 70s in front of the Majestic or Dahua Cinema on old Chamberlain Road in Ipoh while watching the procession of colourful and musical chariots. Well, I cannot commit myself at the moment because I may have some other appointments but allow my family and me now to wish all our Hindu and 'Chindu' relatives, neighbours, friends and teachers a spiritually very fulfilling Festival of Penance.

4 masterpieces of classical Chinese literature

Pak Said returns from Mecca with good spirit

I am glad Pak Said has come back from Mecca after performing hajj. He was obviously very happy too when I told him yesterday about the visit of Pak Abdullah and Makcik Suriani to Malaysia last December.

Malay classical literature in standard Chinese

Sharing thrill, fun with kids in Arabian desert

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Logical implications of racialising 'Allah' term

In the frontpage of the English-language New Straits Times today, PM Abdullah is quoted as arguing : "At the heart of Islam is the concept of Tauhid or the Oneness of God, which is a holistic world view that embraces life in all its manifestations". Why did PM Abdullah use the word 'God' but not 'Allah' in the context of Islam ? If everyone under the sun (or moon), including Malay Muslims, can name their Supreme Being 'God' but only Malay Muslims are allowed to use the word 'Allah', does it - or does it not - mean logically that 'Allah' is actually a more tribal or less global being than 'God' ? Is - or isn't - 'Allah', to put it in mathematical term, merely a subset of 'God' ? If 'Allah' is more tribal and less global than 'God', then, logically speaking, 'Allah' cannot be The One True X as revealed to, among other prophets and universal teachers of mankind, Moses a.k.a. Musa and Isaiah a.k.a. Yesaya.

Full text of Anwar Ibrahim' s speech in S' pore

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gibbon on decline & fall of old Roman Empire

One of the major reasons for the lack of time for reading Dream of the Red Chamber is that my friend Dr. Catherine Yeoh recommended to me, in the mid-1990s, Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which took me five years to finish. It is an intellectual antidote to religious fanaticism and charlatanism.

End-of-the-world 'theology' studied critically

Full text of Anwar Ibrahim' s speech in S'pore

Former DPM Anwar Ibrahim's luncheon speech delivered to the Regional Outlook Forum organised by the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore on 8th Jan (Tues) has been made available on his blog for public discussion.

Dr. Mahathir releases letters to world leaders

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dr. Mahathir releases letters to world leaders

Former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has published Dr. Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders ( London, Marshall Cavendish, 2008 ) with many political 'fireworks' inside for PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, ex-DPM Anwar Ibrahim, President George W. Bush, ex-PM Tony Blair and, of course, ex-VP Al Gore. Those who have previewed the book include Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, S. Radhakrishnan, Tun Hanif Omar, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Professor Dato' Dr. Hood Mohd Salleh, Halimah Mohd Said, Chan Kok Keong as well as this blogger, and according to the editor of the collection Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad @ Datuk Kok Lanas, Dr. Mahathir is cuurently writing his memoirs.

Dr. Mahathir absolves George Soros of financial crisis

4 masterpieces of classical Chinese literature

The search of ancient Chinese for the authentic teachings of Buddha in India provides the historical backdrop of one of the four magnum opuses of classic Chinese literature, Journey to the West. The other three masterpieces are Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Water Margin (or Outlaws of the Marsh or All Men Are Brothers) and Dream of the Red Chamber. By 1988 when I was 26 years old, I had finished reading the first three in their full classical Chinese-language editions but until now, I still have not even opened the first chapter of Dream of the Red Chamber yet simply because of the genuine lack of time.

China's ' future shock ' campus in Indian news

Inside Shanghai's Garden of Leisurely Repose

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ancient temple in China to add an Indian hall

The 1,900-year old White Horse Temple in Luoyang City in China is reportedly to be renovated with the construction of an Indian hall. A more in-depth English-language write-up featuring the first Buddhist temple in China is archived in China Radio International 's homepage and the authoritative website of China Culture provides more details.

5000-year Indian history & culture in a nutshell

Imam Wang of Guangzhou's Huaisheng Mosque

Saturday, January 12, 2008

M' sia, USA to negotiate FTA again next week

According to Bloomberg, US ambassador to Malaysia James Keith has publicly cautioned that unless "substantial progress" is made in the first formal round of Malaysia-United State Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiation to be conducted next week, its conclusion may be delayed "indefinitely" because " there is a time limit on how much energy both (the Malaysian and US) governments can put into this".

American politics in transitional flux in 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

M'sia-Indonesia bilateral relations deteriorate

According to an Antara news report, a member of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Republic of Indonesia's House of Represenatives (DPR) Andreas Pareira said in Jakarta Wednesday (9 Jan) night that the diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Malaysia "are at its lowest point in history". In fact, my teacher Ruhanas Harun in Kuala Lumpur and my friend Dr. Dewi Fortuna Anwar in Jakarta had already begun to frankly explore in depth the multi-faceted bilateral problems between the two countries late last year in the New Straits Times .

Indonesian media experts castigate Zainuddin

Indian gov' t officially summons M' sian envoy

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Anwar speaks in S'pore on Islam & democracy

In a luncheon lecture to the Regional Outlook Forum organised by the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore, Malaysia's ex-DPM Anwar Ibrahim reportedly argued and opined that Islam is compatible with democracy. Anwar has also been reported as chiding Malaysia's Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional (BN) government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for its "state-sponsored Muslim puritanism".

Indonesian media experts castigate Zainuddin

M' sian gov't restricts use of 'Allah' term again

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Indonesian media experts castigate Zainuddin

According to Singapore's Electric New Paper, mass media experts in Indonesia are angry with Malaysia's Minister of Information Zainuddin Maidin for his criticism of the media in the largest Muslim country for airing an television interview with Malaysia's ex-DPM Anwar Ibrahim. Last year, Zainuddin also quarrelled with the Qatar-based global Arab TV station Al Jazeera over the the latter's coverage of a public rally in Kuala Lumpur where peaceful participants were sprayed tear gas and chemical water indiscriminately by the Federal Reserve Units (FRU).

Anwar to speak at Singapore forum tomorrow

PM of M'sia offers formal apology to Indonesia

Global Indians conference starts in New Delhi

India's NDTV reported that "Indians from around the globe have got together in the national capital for the sixth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas" which starts today with the inaugural speech of PM Manmohan Singh.

5000-year Indian history & culture in nutshell

Monday, January 07, 2008

Anwar to speak at Singapore forum tomorrow

According to TODAYonline and Channel News Asia, Malaysia's ex-DPM Anwar Ibrahim will speak at an Institute of South East Asian Studies forum tomorrow in Singapore together with MM Lee Kuan Yew. Other Malaysian speakers include famous economist, Prof. Lim Teck Gee.
The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival of this year will fall on 7 Feb (Thurs), the first day of the first month of the Lunar Calender. But, we will have first to celebrate the Hindu Thaipusam on 23 Jan (Wed).

Joining Muslim friends for fast-breaking meal

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Celebrating Malaysia' s technological progress

In 1990, the orgy of former MIC secretary-general and Parliament's deputy speaker D.P. Vijandran was recorded in video cassettes and in 2007, the escapade of former MCA Health Minister Dr. Chua Soi Lek is captured with pinhole spycam and stored in computers and DVDs. In terms of applied technology, Malaysia has undoubtedly progressed or advanced by leaps and bounds in the last seventeen years or so :)

Are M'sian hotels secure for foreign tourists ?

Caucasian face, Western technology for Zams

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Are M'sian hotels secure for foreign tourists ?

One side-effect of the ministerial sex video scandal is that foreign tourists, including the Arabs, may feel extremely insecure to stay in hotels in Malaysia whose privacy is no longer felt to be guaranteed. For Malaysians, the threat to privacy inside hotel rooms could also come from officials of religious departments who are searching for lost souls and collecting proofs of their sins for and on behalf of X.

Ong Ka Chuan to take up MCA's ministership ?

Beng Ching opined with supreme confidence to me this morning that Ong Ka Chuan, the elder brother of MCA President Ong Ka Ting, will fill in the ministerial position vacated by Dr. Chua Soi Lek and that will take place after the General Election when Ka Chuan will contest in a Malay-majority UMNO stronghold (and win). To Beng Ching, that scenario is so certain that there is " no need to ask Ah Kwai " at all.

Lim Kit Siang on downfall of Dr. Chua Soi Lek

Friday, January 04, 2008

M'sian gov't restricts use of 'Allah' term again

According to The Star, the Cabinet has reverted to its earlier decision to restrict the use of the term 'Allah' for Muslims only and The Herald - The Catholic Weekly is not allowed to name the Supreme Being in the Abrahamic tradition as 'Allah' in its Malay-language supplement. Meanwhile, malaysiakini has reported that the Sikh community also uses the Arabic word 'Allah' to call or refer to their Supreme Being.

On theological debate & the role of the State

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Lim Kit Siang on downfall of Dr. Chua Soi Lek

Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang reportedly believes that the mastermind or hidden hand behind ex-Health Minister Dr. Chua Soi Lek's downfall is "sitting on the MCA Presidential Council". Meanwhile, Dr. Chua Soi Lek himself told Bernama that he had been seen or felt inside the MCA to be politically ambitious and "may be mounting a challenge" to the party's president or deputy president. The incumbent president is Housing and Local Government Minister Ong Ka Ting while his deputy is Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy.

Other issues following Dr. Chua's resignations

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Other issues following Dr. Chua's resignations

Now that Dr. Chua Soi Lek has resigned all his political positions, the issues that follow are who would fill in the vacancies and whether the filling-up process would trigger off power struggles within MCA. Not less important are the questions of who did the video recording and its initial public distribution which is certainly a criminal act by law and whether he/she/they who committed such a criminal act has to do or links with MCA's internal power struggles and, if not, what are his/her/their motive or motives of committing the obvious crime of manufacturing and circulating pornography with high technology ?

Dr. Chua Soi Lek sets good example, standard

MCA's Dr. Chua Soi Lek has certainly performed a great public service to the country by resigning all his party and government positions as well as Member of Parliament for Labis over the sex video scandal. Dr. Chua Soi Lek has set a praiseworthy example and high standard of political accontability and responsibility for all other political as well as government leaders in Malaysia and everywhere in the world.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On theological debate & the role of the State

Catholic Church's weekly The Herald may now continue to use the word Allah to mean God in its Malay-language section but that usage may also be disputed or even challenged by some individual Christian fundamentalists and/or their voluntary organisations in the society, and The Herald certainly has the right to defend itself as its Christian fundamentalist critics attempt to attack the defence. Debates on theological questions like Is Allah God? and Is God Allah? would most probably ends only with 'the end of the world', if there is indeed such a point of time in the future. The real issue is that a modern state on earth and its public organs, laws and law enforcers should not take part or side in such debates, especially in a multi-religious society .

How scientist Albert Einstein viewed religion

American politics in transitional flux in 2008

Domestic politics in the United States is now characterised not only by the very intense White House-Congress rivalry but also, as a BBC analysis has observed insightfully today, marked by a 'nobody-knows' presidential election whose polling is going to be held later this year.

US politics impacts on international relations

New books on American IR in personal library