Shame on the Insensitive Spaniards


I wish the Chinese guys in Beijing would kick some Spanish asses, just to show how it can feel to be at the business end of racism’s ugly foot.

Spain may have beaten Olympics host China 85-75 in the basketball game on Tuesday, but that is not what’s making news.

At a time when 4 billion people across the globe come together to be part of the biggest sports event, some tolerance would have been greatly appreciated.

Instead, the Spanish blokes gave us this.

Yup. The slit-eyed pose for an ad. To add further insult, they defended it, saying it was meant to be cute. In essence, what they are really saying is “We Spaniards are still in the Stone Age when it comes to race relations.”

This, apparently is not an isolated incident. When British Formula 1 champ Lewis Hamilton was in Barcelona earlier this year, he was greeted with this…

Sheesh!

Well, while the Chinese hosts are downplaying the whole slit-eye faux pas, the public might take a very dim view of the Spanish team.

Now that they’ve beaten the hosts, their stay in Beijing just got extended. That means they are at the receiving end of Chinese hospitality. Haven’t your friends told you that when you go to a restaurant, take care not to insult the waiter or the cook?

I recall the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”.

:P

Of America and Stooges


Yeah, open your eyes. Read between the lines. Don’t lose your cool over allegations of individuals being in the pay of the US. We have had American (including its military) presence in Malaysia for some time now. They are just quiet about it.

The American military presence in the SEA region has not been confined to Philippines and Singapore, especially in the recent years. Malaysia has a solid relationship with them and it is part of our strategic defence policy.

So all these anti-American tripe you read about periodically in the local media, is for the large part, just posturing for the sake of invoking nationalist sentiments.

We probably have a defence pact with most nations in Southeast Asia and definitely with the US of A. Here’s one such report of an inked act. Our DPM was a defence minister for quite a while and you can read of the things he said here about continued military cooperation between the two nations.

Two crucial security advantage for us to have the Yanks around.

Piracy has been a problem in our seas, both the Malacca Straits and South China Sea. But no pirate would want to take on a destroyer, let alone a naval fleet. US naval presence in our seas would be a serious deterrent indeed.

Secondly, the fight against terrorism and insurgency. At this moment there is tacit understanding as well as cooperation among the regional forces in battling terrorists and insurgents in South East Asia.

The hotspots are too close for comfort. Different parts of Indonesia, Timor Leste, southern Thailand, Mindanao….these are all volatile areas. It makes sense to cooperate.

And then there is that humanitarian and peacekeeping role played by the international troops in strife-ridden and disaster areas. Aceh Tsunami – 2004 – USS Abraham Lincoln.

On its part, America has much reason to engage not just Malaysia, but most SEA countries. From a strategic point of view, it fits with its avowed war against terrorism. From another angle, this region is an important counterweight against that behemoth up north; China.

So yeah, it ain’t all altruism on their part…heheh.

Since they got out of the Phillipines in the early 90s, the Pacific Command doesn’t have a base around SEA. No, they don’t have a base in Singapore. They just use the facilities at Sembawang for their naval ships to dock.

They might want to have friendlier relations with Malaysia (after all we have far more land area) but that kind of flirting has been going on close to a decade apparently, without bearing any fruits.

A strong Malaysian leadership can keep a tight rein on this relationship. We can benefit too. But we shouldn’t be reduced to a puppet. In this current flip flop mode of running the country, it looks like this might happen anyway.

Enough of calling Anwar an American stooge. The current government is already the pot. Susan is right.

Batu Puteh: Tomorrow We’ll See


I’m revisiting this topic after months, and for one reason only. To tell those of you who DON’T read the papers, (I still do, albeit electronic ones), that the decision on the ownership of Pulau Batu Puteh will be announced tomorrow.

A Singapore media speculates on 4 possible outcomes.  The Malaysian side is so confident of a “positive outcome” that it is announced that this judgment will be carried live by RTM.

Now every country would fight tooth and nail for what it considers its territory, but I kinda get the feeling that the Singaporeans have put it to strategic use over the years. I mean military.

However, the Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Horsburgh and South Ledge is closer to Malaysian shores and that has been the Malaysian legal team’s main contention over at The Hague.

Wrote more about this in November last year. 

The photoshopped picture that was tendered as pictorial evidence to support the Malaysian claim, was found out by blogger Simply Jean. What ensued was a storm in the blogoshere teacup.

Let’s hope that stupid move doesn’t hurt our chances.

I just wished Eddie Toh of Sophie’s World was around to see the judgment. He blogged a lot about this issue. Sadly this blogger went to meet his maker unexpectedly on March 30.

Rest in Peace, Man.

Football, Jews and Selective Xenophobia


So, Avram Grant and Chelsea shouldn’t set foot in Malaysia? Protest, protest, protest. I think the pro test by a certain number of NGOs is kinda silly, but from my past experience with the “Yahudi” questions, I’m not surprised.

From my childhood I have been fed the diet of Jew-hate and suspicion. Not in my house. I doubt my parents know much about Jews, Judaism, Zionism and Israel.

No. It happened in school. Not during the Kelas Agama that I stayed in despite that fact that as a Non-Muslim, I could choose not to. The ustaz told us some intriguing stories of the Crusades, Perang Badar and Perang Uhud, you see so I had to stay.

No…this happened among my Muslim friends, where distrust and hate of Jews are so indoctrinated that it became automatic response. In fact, being Jew as I understood it then, was to be wicked, manipulative and not to be trusted at all. A friend who chides another for being nasty, greedy, manipulative says, “Kau ni Yahudi betul la..”

When I grew up, I heard similar refrain from Christians who say “Jews deserved the Holocaust because they turned away from God”. Oh, I heard this from so-called staunch Christians.

Hmm…an entire race demonised since before Biblical times?

Statements like these made me interested enough to go read the Bible, the Koran and about Jews, Judaism, Zionism. Still haven’t finished…so there are little but private conclusions that I arrived at.

Now, in the interest of humanity and the furtherance of sports, I think those Chelsea players and coach should be allowed in Malaysia. We should not stoop to the level of the American authorities post-911 for whom every Arab-looking face and every Muslim-sounding name is suspect.

For those who protest that Jews and Israelis shouldn’t come here because our government does not have diplomatic relations with them, I think they should think before they protest. Remember that people you don’t have formal diplomatic ties with are not necessarily your enemies.

In 1996, during the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis, I heard that our diplomats had to use some back channel help from Cuba to free Malaysians stuck in the embassy.

Soon after, Malaysia started having diplomatic relations with Cuba and there was even an exhibition of Cuban history and culture, introducing Malaysians to the country we knew before only because of their cigars and to bookworms like me, Fidel Castro, Ernesto (Che) Guevara, Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis etc. Bottomline…we owed them.

I think strongly of the whole Palestinian debacle, but there is so much more to the issue that what Malaysians and indeed Muslims around the world, think.

The Allies facilitated the birth of the Israeli state to salve their conscience for keeping quiet when millions of jews were slaughtered by Hitler. But they did it without a thought to what the local Arabs in Palestine might think of this sudden carving up of their land, to share with their Biblical enemy.

The conflict only worsened after Britain’s departure. The expansionary overtures of the Israelis, the actions of Menachem Begin and Irgun, as well as Fatah and later Hamas, have all contributed to it. Yes people, I read of Sabra, and the Deir Yassin Massacre too.

The Americans who entered the fray only made it murkier since. But where have CIA not sunk their dirty fingers eh?

My point is, there are no clean hands there. Those who suffered are ordinary citizens of both nations. Osama Bin Laden and A Qaeda may have seemed like the avenging angel to the Muslim world, but think of his second-in command Ayman Al Zawahiri’s latest statements people. Read the dialogue here.

So those of you who want to protest a football team’s visit to Malaysia, well, stop and think of what exactly you are protesting for. When you look deeply enough…you will realise how silly this is.

If you are really against injustice, why isn’t there a whimper when the murderers in Yangon started mowing monks down with bullets? In fact, many Malaysians still buy stuff from Myanmar and do business with them.

I have some answers, but then it will not sit comfortably on your conscience.

A Lesson in the Importance of an Independent Judiciary


The old robed ones on the hallowed benches are saying “balls!” to the Gordon Brown Labour Administration in the United Kingdom.

From The Guardian

The government was censured over its anti-terror laws in the courts again yesterday when a judge ruled that five men had had their assets frozen unlawfully after being labelled terrorists by the Treasury.

The five, all British nationals, have never been convicted of any terrorist offence and said the orders had had a “humiliating and devastating” effect.

Mr Justice Collins, sitting at the high court in London, ruled in favour of the men, saying a “fair and just” consideration of who should have their assets frozen was impossible in most cases. He said that the government had bypassed scrutiny by parliament in introducing the orders.

Judges are all that stand between you and hostile government should the government choose to make life shitty for you.

Don’t you think they are a very crucial means of checking a hawkish government? I know there are pros and cons to the decision above, but hey, the judge said it was unconstitutional didn’t he? He knows what he’s talking about.

That he made that decision while living in a country that is an Al Qaeda target and has been subject to acts of terror, would tell you something about upholding the spirit of the law and justice through the most trying times.

We certainly have something to learn from these lions of the law. You know guys, we had some too. Let’s bring them back.

Hillary Wins Pennsylvania


With 42% of the precints reporting, the American media heavyweights felt comfortable enough to report the feisty Hillary Clinton as the winner in the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary.

This means the New York Senator is very much in the running to be chosen as the Democratic Presidential candidate over the charismatic Barack Obama of Illinois.

Washington Post has more here.

And a look at this map tells you how the score is between Clinton and Obama so far. (Not inclusive of the Pennsylvania results). No prizes for guessing who is leading, but the US is funny in terms of which electoral college counts more. Baffling.

Must say though that this will be a tight race…and it gets tighter as the weeks advance. Some zippers are gonna burst soon :)

Personally though, I don’t mind either of them at the helm.

It’s that GOP hawk that does the Bomb Iran jig that scares me. Yeah, the fact that John McCain was a Vietnam Vet makes it all the more unforgivable for him to take the stance he does.

Americans though, are a strange lot. Some (hopefully not that many) are so willfully insular that you get statements like this.

Who knows, they might decide they want neither a skirt nor a coloured in the White House and decide to choose McCain. In which case, America would have regressed.

But that is just the opinion of me, a humble Netizen. One, in an ocean of 75 million blogs (and growing).

Feeding Monkeys in the Jungle…


Kera di hutan disusukan, anak sendiri mati kelaparan. So said a friend while discussing the Sufiah issue, especially in the light of the report that the Malaysian govt gave her scholarship.

Now everybody, including the who’s who in the government wants to save Sufiah. Who is Sufiah?

Prodigy turned Prostitute according to news reports. There are some salacious pictures purportedly of her, floating around on the Net. I don’t want to capitalise on this sudden interest in this girl who went from one extreme end of society approval to the other in 10 years. I want to state my thoughts.

I can understand the how and the why. Before we begin though, some basic information about Sufiah Yusof to put you in perspective.

Sufiah is a British subject. Her link to Malaysia is that her mother is Malaysian Muslim woman from Johor. Her father is a British subject of Pakistani descent. Sufiah is today reported to be 23 years old.  She was a Maths prodigy who gained a place in Oxford when she was 13. She received a Malaysian government scholarship in 1997.

What is less known is that this hot-housed child made two suicide attempts when whe was 11. Behind that facade of an educationally-advanced family, lies this disturbing insinuation.

Two years later she fled her home and ended up finally in the care of social services. Refusing to return to her family, she blamed her father for making her life hell.

In 2004 she married fellow Oxford undergraduate Jonathan Marshall. They split in 2005.The guy was shocked by the press reports. But these quotes tell you certain things.

“I can’t fathom why she would do it – especially someone in her situation. Despite the problems with her family she had many advantages, which other people don’t have,” he said.

“It’s a particular shock – her coming from a Muslim background. To see pictures of somebody doing that – somebody I knew very closely – it makes me think, how did she get to that stage. Quite frankly she knows well enough what she should and should not do.”

And here’s more…

Marshall went on to say: “My view is that people can blame childhood to a certain extent, but there also comes a point where you have to take responsibility for your own actions.

“She had her advantages: she had someone willing to support her while she was at university. One newspaper told me that it had offered a substantial amount for her story. Personally, I’d rather sell my story than sell myself.”

Here’s a little about how they met and how/why the marriage ended.

The two fell in love and married in 2004. Marshall, a law student, had already converted to Islam. He was 24 and she was 19. The marriage lasted less than two years.

“The reason we split was that I became more observant and Sufiah became less so,” The Daily Telegraph quoted Marshall as saying.

“That took her in the wrong direction, away from the direction in which I wanted to go. The teachings of Islam are fundamental to your everyday life, so when paths diverge in that respect it is a major issue.”

She seemed to have suffered through her childhood. Maybe didn’t have a childhood. I can empathise there. I didn’t either. Her marriage at 19 seemed to be to a decent enuff guy. That wasn’t enough to heal her? I don’t know.

Maybe she was too scarred? Sometimes, when you are scarred at such a young age, it changes a lot of things. Hell it can screw up your entire life. When your spirit or sense of sense is so badly broken, your sense of value and values can be pretty fucked up.

What is one’s body worth, people like this may think, when your heart is blasted to smithereens, your soul is wretched? Yeah. She must have suffered a lot, but that descent into selling her body was a voluntary one.

Back to the question of why everyone in Malaysia is up in arms; expressing shock, and immediately after, making plans to “save” her? Just because she is a Muslim girl? Just because she is half Malay?

To Zahid Hamidi I’d like to say this, “You have no locus standi, macha!” What if you guys approach her and she tells you to F**k Off? Mana nak letak muka? By the way, whose money are you using for this Save Sufiah Campaign? Taxpayer’s money?

Already, I’m sore (many of us are, I’m sure) that this Malaysian govt gave this British girl scholarship to study in Britain when many deserving Malaysian students can’t even continue their studies to local public universities because there are not enough places.

Lulu is right when she wished Malaysian govt would show more compassion to its own people. I am more cynical. I know it is things like these that made the tide shift against the BN government. It festers inside when you are made to feel like anak tiri in your own country.

You want to save Sufiah? Why don’t you start a campaign to save the many young girls in Malaysia prostituting themselves in their teens. That Putera Umno fella Abdul Azeez Rahim who were so concerned about the Mat Rempits, should perhaps try to help the bohsias who are given away are prizes.

They are right here in Malaysia. They are part of the social problem.  So jaga tepi kain sendiri lah.

This Harian Metro report says Persatuan Melayu UK is bringing an Ustaz from here to help the girl. I see no problem with that. Pretty laudable of them to help their fellow citizen. However, this paragraph in the article made me gag with disbelief.

berdasarkan perbincangan dengan Trimizi dan beberapa petunjuk, pihaknya percaya Sufiah di bawah pengaruh tertentu terutama ilmu hitam.- Harian Metro

The assumption that this girl was under the influence of black magic, and that’s why she is selling herself, beggars my comprehension.

By that score, is it to be inferred that women who sell themselves are under some hantu influence? Then we must send score of religious people to help rehabilitate the teenage prostitutes in Chow Kit and Bukit Bintang who are slashing prices like crazy. We must use these religious people to cure those Bohsias and Bohjans in the streets then.

What a farce!

Hasn’t it occured to anyone that the people mentioned here might just like to F**k? Those bohsias apparently charge nothing.

Sufiah at least does.