First published on Loyarburok: http://www.loyarburok.com/2013/05/09/dear-paprika-ge13-2013-exciting-gila/
6th May 2013
It is 8 o’clock in the morning on the day after the 13th General Elections. What an exciting elections it was! I was at Pusat Rakyat LB with fellow Loyarburokkers, the UndiMsia gang and POLITIKO gamers to watch the elections results roll in. I am not sure if you remember but you were there for a while before I took you home for bed. I wanted you to be part of the excitement as the rakyat chooses our next government.
Run Up To the Elections
After the 2008 elections, I thought a strong wind of change was sweeping the country. The opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, made surprising gains when it won five states: Kelantan, Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Perak. Soon after that, I joined UndiMsia and started to write for Loyarburok.
Being involved in UndiMsia’s voter education programmes, I witnessed for myself the new changes among the rakyat. Once, they were timid and tight lipped about their thoughts of the government and politics, now they were quite vocal. While carrying out a Laporan Rakyat survey in Semenyih, a Malay man approached me to fill in the form, much to my surprise. It is usually very difficult to get a person to fill in survey forms but when this man heard the forms would be given back to the respective ahli DUNs, he made his dissatisfaction clear. We were standing outside the Semenyih market, in full view of everybody that morning, yet he spoke what was on his mind.
Since the 2008 elections, Pakatan worked hard in preparations for GE13. Many NGOs sprouted and became very vocal of the government and its policies. People around me were talking about change. “Ubahlah!” and “Ini kali lah!” were on the lips of many of my friends. We talked about it, blogged about it and tweeted it. We shared it on Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, Kakao, and almost every communication channel available to us. This time, I really felt it was possible to end Barisan Nasional’s 56 years in power. You know how I feel about their many failures: human rights, poor standard of living, cronyism, corruption, crime, cover ups, inefficiencies, etc.
So, when PM Najib announced the dissolution of Parliament on the 3rd of April 2013, I was very excited. “Finally!” I thought. “We can now vote for the next government!”
Drama, Oh Drama!
The excitement continued when Najib dropped many old guards from Barisan and replaced them with new faces! Wanita UMNO’s ex-presidents Rafidah Aziz and Sharizat “Cow-Gate” Jalil, ex-PM Abdullah Badawi, MCA’s ex-presidents Ong Tee Keat, Chua “I Was the Man in the Video” Soi Lek, Ng Yen Yen, and YoRais were axed. Maybe Najib is serious about transforming his coalition or maybe he is getting rid of his enemies within his camp, I thought. Ugh, he also gave PERKASA’s deputy, Zulkifli Noordin, a slot in Shah Alam! Duh!
Many Barisan candidates who were dropped such as Wanita UMNO’s deputy president resigned immediately and stood as independent candidates.
Anwar’s coalition also had its share of troubles. Pakatan was supposed to give their opponents 1-to-1 straight fights but their dropped candidates also contested as independents. At the Kota Damansara parliamentary seat, PAS challenged PSM’s chairman against BN.
Days before Nomination Day, the Registrar of Societies threatened to deregister DAP! That would mean that DAP, which was formed in 1965 and which controlled Penang, could not stand for elections. Lim Kit Siang wept openly.
15 Days of Campaigning, Also Drama!
As the campaigning period neared, the rakyat noticed BN was using government assets to promote their party, putting up flags and banners. Since the country only has a caretaker government, the rakyat questioned the right for anyone to use national assets as their own. Malaysia’s own Tariq Aziz, YoRais, explained that it is all right to do so!
The rakyat also asked for equal opportunities for all political parties to present their manifestos on TV. The opposition had no access to television coverage at all. To this, YoRais offered only 10 minutes of airtime! So generous of him! (Note: Tariq Aziz was Saddam Hussein’s international spokesman who would go on TV and say the exact opposite of news reports that did not favour Iraq during the Dessert Storm war.)
Meanwhile, Anwar and his coalition went around the country to give ceramahs. Reports of large crowds attended. On the other hand, I read reports that Barisan’s ceramahs were also well attended. “Oh, itu, sebab Barisan bagi free makan, lucky draw dan ang pow la!” was the explanation by my friend.
Your Ah Ma who has never attended a political ceramah went to three! She told me the MCA ceramah she attended had more empty seats than people.
The ceramahs had their own dramas too. In GE12, the police often moved in to shut down Pakatan’s ceramahs. This time, several bombs exploded at different ceramahs, injuring several people! Both sides blamed each other while the police turned up nothing. There were the usual despicable samsengs, talks of pengundi hantu and allegations of RM7 billion being transferred out of the country by 1MDB.
At the end of the campaigning period, ABU’s Haris Ibrahim predicted a win for Pakatan. His blog said Pakatan would win 126 seats. I wish it was true.
Polling Day 5.5.13, More Drama!
Your Jee Chek woke up at 3 am so he could drive down to KL to cast his vote. He and I arrived at our polling station at 7.50am and already there were about a hundred people lining up to go in! To counter the reports of alleged pengundi hantus, we were told to vote as early as possible. I later read reports of a lady went to vote only to find out someone else had voted in her place.
After that I went home and surfed the Internet for news. There were some reports of several pengundi hantus here and there but not to the extent of thousands of them descending at a certain constituency.
The biggest joke of the day had to be the ‘indelible ink fiasco’. When Bersih suggested the use of indelible ink to mark a voter to prevent him from voting more than once, the Elections Commissions (EC) said it was not needed. Then, they changed their minds and said they would implement the indelible ink. The EC said the ink would stain a voter’s finger for seven days.
When the police and army personnel went to the polls, reports appeared showing the indelible ink could be washed off with soap or liquid hand sanitiser. The EC brushed it aside by saying the ink bottles were not shaken beforehand and this problem would be taken care of on May 5th.
That morning, photos of the indelible ink being washed off with soap, water and Clorox circulated on the Internet. One man managed to clean his inked finger using leaves outside his poling centre! The EC’s response? Oh, the RM10 million ink had to be halal and that affected its effectiveness! What crock!
At 7 pm, with a heart full of hope for a new government, I made my way to Pusat Rakyat LB with you to watch the elections results roll in. The initial news trickling in via Twitter and Malaysiakini were supposedly promising. That was what Uncle Edmund told me when I met him. He said, Barisan usually led the early vote counts but this time, many Pakatan candidates led the early vote counts!
The Results Rolling In. Still More Drama!
At Pusat Rakyat LB, the mood was jolly. Everybody had their smartphones out, checking various websites for winner and losers. There was a projector set up with Malaysiakini’s updates online. UndiMsia had even handwritten all the parliamentary seats on coloured Stick-It notes so we could track the winners and losers.
The results came in little by little. The first few seats were won by Barisan. These were seats with low voters and their counting was completed quickly. Pakatan was trailing but I was still hopeful. There were still 200 seats to go.
The first good news for me was that PERKASA’s Ibrahim Ali and Zulkifli Noordin lost! We all gave a jubilant shout.
The usual political heavyweights and favourites won their seats without much fanfare. The parliamentary seat I voted for was also won by the favourite.
Then came the shockers. Barisan’s candidate Saifuddin Abdullah lost. I had hoped that he would win. He was a minority voice within Barisan who spoke up against his own party. PAS’s big guns, Mat Sabu, Dr. Dzulkefly, Dr. Haron Din, Husam Musa and Salahuddin Ayub, also lost.
Nurul Izzah and Lim Kit Siang’s seats were thrilling. I wondered if it was at all possible for 72-year-old Lim to defeat Abdul Ghani Othman, the three-term Menteri Besar of Johor at his home turf? He did! He received 37% more votes than Abdul Ghani!
I also feared for Nurul Izzah’s chances. A year before the elections, her opponent, the Minister of Federal Territories and Urban Well-being Raja Nong Chik had started his offensive for Lembah Pantai. His campaign looked sleek, professional and expensive. In the end, Nurul won with a slim 1% margin!
All Is Lost
By 1 am, Pakatan was trailing badly. Barisan had won more than 90 seats and we were receiving more news of Barisan candidates poised to win their respective seats. I left and went home to sleep.
In the morning, the news showed Barisan had won 133 seats against Pakatan’s 89. All the Facebook and Twitter activism had not worked as I had hoped. All the protests for Lynas, KL112, and Bersih did not work to change the government. Those big crowds at Pakatan’s ceramahs could not swing the non-urban vote.
One thing still bothers me though: Pakatan Rakyat won the popular vote with 51% of the rakyat supporting it. So, how did Barisan Nasional, which had 4% less support from the rakyat, form the government with 60% of the parliamentary seats? Go figure!
Your loving father,
Last night, my cousin’s husband passed away suddenly. He is about my age.
Life is so unpredictable sometimes. One day you are enjoying it to the fullest, the next day it could all disappear. Death sometimes comes but suddenly. Who knows when my time will be up?
When my time is up, would I rest knowing I have done all I could? For my family, my children, and my causes?
For this reason, I write my Dear Paprika letters on Loyarburok. They are for my children and everybody’s children who share my thoughts and views.
First published in Loyarburok on 19.4.13
As things heat up for the coming elections, Pepper announces whom he will not be voting for and why.
I have been told to keep my vote a secret, but I am going to break that rule.
I am very unhappy with the present government and I do not care if people know it. Strangely, I was not always unhappy with them.
Back in 1995, I thought everything in our country was hunky-dory. Malaysia was experiencing a boom and the Internet was maturing at a steady pace. Soon, the 1997 financial crisis happened, and I started to hear stories. It was the Internet that gave me hints that something was not quite right about our country.
The next few years were tumultuous; the Deputy Prime Minister was sent to prison, there were talks of reformation and people lost their jobs in the crisis. For the first time in my life, I hear this new word: “crony”. Whispers of “cronies” and “cronyism” began to surface. The Internet offered snippets to fuel the rumours here and there. Stories of dirty dealings and massive corruption linked to the Prime Minister began to make their way around the Internet and email blasts. Still, the mainstream media reported that all was well with our country.
Then, a surprising piece of news shocked the entire nation. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced his resignation! Taking his place was the new Deputy Prime Minister whom I thought was a gentleman, experienced in his years of service as the Foreign Minister and other important ministerial posts.
Evidently, I was not the only who thought he would make a good Prime Minister. When he asked the nation to give him the mandate to lead the country, the rakyat gave him a resounding “Yes!”. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the most popular prime minister in recent history. The 2004 elections nearly wiped out the Opposition. PKR barely hung on with only 1 seat. PAS went from 27 seats to just 7. I thought a new era was dawning in Malaysia. I was wrong.
In the 4 years PM Abdullah Badawi ruled, he literally did squat. Sure, he did a few good things but the things he did not do were overwhelming. When he called for elections in 2008, the rakyat showed him their disapproval. Within 4 short years, this man went from being one of the most popular prime ministers ever to the most unpopular! He earned the nickname “sleepy head”. Come on, you are the Prime Minister! You should have strapped on a pair and done your job right!
A year later, PM Abdullah Badawi was removed in an internal coup within UMNO. Malaysia saw a new prime minister again. Prime Minister Najib Razak took office in 2009 and quickly announced new changes. By now, I was weary of promises by the Prime Minster. Since it is PM Najib’s administration seeking a mandate from me this elections, here are my reasons why I will not be voting him nor his coalition.
PKFZ, Lembu, Scorpene, Justice
After Datuk Lee Hwa Beng (MCA) came to speak at UndiMsia about his new book “PKFZ: A Nation’s Trust Betrayed“, Edmund Bon asked me to head a small team to turn the gist of his book into an info-graphic. I was shocked after reading the details that turned a hefty RM1.08 billion project into a mind boggling RM12.5 billion! Moreover, what the book revealed is only the tip of the iceberg!
Two French-made Scorpene submarines were bought via a 3rd-party negotiator who was paid RM500 million! What, isn’t there anyone in the government who knows how to negotiate large contracts that they have to pay RM500 million to someone else to do it for them? And, they want to convince me that they know how to run this country better than anyone else?
The National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) is another ugly episode for the present government. A minister’s family is given RM250 million to develop something for the nation and they ended up buying RM42 million worth of condominiums in foreign countries. RM42 million! And here is the government talking about affordable housing for the rakyat.
Was justice served to the guilty parties? Not as far as I know. Why aren’t such cases quickly reviewed, revised and corrected before the public found out for themselves?
The PDRM and MACC
I have always grown up thinking the Malaysian police is there to protect the rakyat. Instead, we find cases of gross wrongdoings within the force whom we all depend on to uphold the law. In 2009, two police officers were found guilty of using military grade C-4 bomb to kill a Mongolian citizen. Not only were the murderers police officers but a Chief Inspector and a Corporal at that, and both were members of the elite Unit Tindakan Khas!
People who go to the police station risk not coming back alive. Victims such as Kugan have all died under mysterious circumstances while in the custody of the PDRM. Victims have come forward to recount tales of being beaten by police officers while under interrogation. According to REFSA, 55% of these cases are simply closed just like that! Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi.
Despite the government releasing statistic after statistic of lower crime rate, I do not feel safe. My own parents were held at knife-point in their own home at 9 o’clock in the morning in 2011. The rakyat have to set up their own gated communities and live in fear of crime. We are fearful of our bags being snatched, our cars going missing while parked outside our homes, our homes broken into and our children risk being kidnapped while in school.
When will the police make us feel safe? More importantly, are they able to make us feel safe?
The government says it wants to fight corruption. Long ago, they called it Badan Pencegah Rasuah (BPR). Then, it changed its name to Biro Siasatan Negara (BSN). Soon, they changed their name back to BPR. Today, it has a new name under the present government: Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) or Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Tell me, what big corruption cases have they smashed and how many big fish have they brought to justice? What big changes have they made other than their name?
Till today, billion ringgit contracts are still given out without proper tenders and humongous concessions handed over behind closed doors. When asked about it, we receive replies to the tune of, “Official Secrets Act la!” or “The contract has already been signed and there’s nothing we can do about it now!” or something similar.
Hey, people even die while being interviewed by the MACC! First, Teoh Beng Hock died while being interviewed over possibilities of his boss misusing RM2,400. Yes, two thousand and four hundred ringgit only! Then, two years later, Ahmad Sarbani also fell out of the MACC’s window while being interviewed. You can read my article about Beng Hock and the MACC: “Dear Paprika: Beng Hock’s Death“. Fell out, my foot! In the end, no one was guilty of anything. Come on, really?
Bullies, Protesters, Bersih
I feel our nation has descended into a “might is right” mentality. I have been watching videos on YouTube of bullies attacking and intimidating people. Take a look for yourself here: a man punching Adam right in front of a police station, thugs attacking an ABU ceramah, putting up party flags turn into a nightmare, thugs threatening our mahasiswa-mahasiswa, thugs appearing at Ambiga’s home, Yo-Rais belittling a rakyat and Ms. Listen-listen-listen.
Do you want mob rule? Not me.
When thugs attacked the peaceful Occupy Dataran and anti-PTPTN protesters in the wee hours of the morning (video here), I was told by the victims that the police who were just across the road simply stood there watching the fracas and did nothing. In the end, it was two of the peaceful protesters who were hauled to the police station and not the thugs.
The PM says the “era of government knows best is over”. However, when the rakyat voiced their concerns, no actions were taken. So they took to the streets in protest, not once but trice! Each time, they were met with mass arrests, tear gas and chemical sprays.
Oh, the thugs are not your boys? So what? You are governing the country, so govern it well! When a video of a KFC employee was shown flouring chicken pieces after wiping it on his shoe, KFC’s Pengarah Operasi Restoran made a public apology and promised it would not happen again. I still eat KFC with confidence.
We talk, they don’t listen. What were we told? “Debat bukan budaya kita.” When we get fed up and keep quite, they say “the silent majority” supports them. Ade ke?!
The Old ISA and ISA Baru
In his 15 September 2012 speech, PM Najib said he would abolish the dreaded Internal Securities Act (ISA). The horrible ISA has been used countless times in silencing the Opposition and critics instead of what it was originally intended for. I remember being in Pusat Rakyat LB watching this speech live on TV. We cheered loudly because several Loyarburokkers had worked hard to repeal the ISA.
We were soon quiet when we remembered he had earlier announced a new ISA called SOSMA. Isn’t that the “same difference“? Who is he trying to kid?
Handouts vs. Jobs and Wages
Recently, the government has been giving handouts to help poor families make ends meet. That is good. We should help those in need.
Surprise, surprise! As it turns out, 80% of Malaysian households do need this handout! Whatever happened to helping us increase our earning power and increasing our income to meet rising inflation? Why can’t the minimum wage be set as per what the average rakyat needs instead of the current paltry sum? Handouts to capable people are demeaning. It turns the rakyat into a beggar of sorts. I would rather have a well paying job; I want to work to feed my family rather than receive money like a beggar!
And, I could not believe it when the PM said that the RM500 handout could feed a family for a year! Gila!
Further more, where is all this money coming from? Who will end up bearing the costs? Is this going to turn into another bloated PKFZ? Lots of people are struggling with their own personal loan repayments. The last thing we need is to bear repayments for loans taken by our government. (REFSA has lots of easy to understand info-graphics about how our government works.)
I am tired
I have other concerns. I am also worried about the lack of judicial impartiality, suppression of minority rights, the quality and accessibility of education for Malaysians, racism and PERKASA, state controlled media, unaffordable housing, the unemployment rate and more. Alas, I am tired, very tired. There are so many things wrong and I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel.
Just like Lee Hwa Beng’s book title, I feel my trust in the present government is betrayed. I am not going to vote “the devil I know than the devil I don’t”. I want to get rid of devils running my country; one at a time if I have to.
I want a change.
PS. The PKFZ animated info-graphic is here: prezi.com/gemtrte4cfp6/pkfz-scandal/
The babas and nyonyas will be having their annual convention in Kuala Lumpur this year. All the nyonyas are in a dilemma about which one of their lovely kebayas to wear. The babas are also in a dilemma; they do not know what they are supposed to wear!
Just what is a baba’s traditional costume?
I asked my auntie Lily Yew, an expert on kebayas, for her insights. Auntie Lily has been making and selling hand-stitched kebayas for years (visit www.kebayas.com).
The first thing she told me was, “Definitely not batik!”
Then she pointed me to history. Look at the singkehs who first arrived as coolies from China to Malaysia, she said. Their coolie costumes were certainly different from costumes they later wore when they became rich. Looking at old paintings of babas, this would have been black silk collarless Mandarin shirts.
Later, as English influence crept into the Peranakan’s culture, the babas wore “closed coats”. These were like white safari jackets with lots of pockets over similar white starched trousers. Buttons were small gold ones that were detachable.
In some photos, babas wore the 3-piece suit and tie. For semi-formal occasions, he wore an Arrow shirt with trousers.
(A baba on his wedding day dressed in black suit and bow tie | Source: vintagebynumbers.blogspot.com)
(Arrow brand shirts | Source: rompedas.blogspot.com)
(The gentleman is in a safari suit | Source: www.123rf.com)
(This baba is wearing a Mandarin jacket on his wedding day | Source www.coloribus.com)
The most significant piece of jewellery a baba wore for his wedding was the ‘bintang’ on his jacket lapel.
At home, a baba is usually in his white collarless Pagoda T-shirt and sarong, complete with a wide canvas ‘chettiar’ belt.
Well, what should I wear for the convention, I asked my auntie.
My wise and crafty auntie told me, “To stand out, why don’t you just go for the ‘Gatsby’ style and forget about looking typically Chinese like the Malaccans and Singaporeans. The babas took style to a different level, suave, sleek and dapper! ‘Beg, borrow or steal’, and put together the great look of the jazz greats, ‘roaring 20s’ and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The jaunty cap, cravat scarf, braces/suspenders, vest, bow ties or broad ties.”
We are Penang babas and nyonyas. And, that is how I shall roll!
(Style from the 1920s what were once popular with Penang babas | Source: www.citelighter.com)
(A dashing F. Scott Fitzgerald | Source: 365til30.com)
Paprika has started to understand ‘ownership’. She visited the zoo with her classmates two weeks ago and her Ah Kong tagged along to make the children a video of the outing. After the DVD was made, Paprika kept it in her bag and would only let us watch it when she wanted to watch it. To stop Saffron from watching it when she is in school, she takes the DVD with her to school.
Saffron understands that keys opens and locks doors. So every time he gets his hands on a bunch of keys he tries to open doors or anything that resembles a door with them. When he is tired of playing with the keys, he hides them! Before long, the maid will yell, “Seppron! Mana kunci?”
It’s a good thing the little boy understands and remembers where he hides the keys.
I just found out my Android phone can read article back to me. Of all the apps available on PlayStore, I like Voice Aloud Reader (@VAR) best.
I rated it 4 stars in March 2013 because the app did not have a bookmark function; it could not remember the last place it read after I exited the app. A day later, I received an email from the developer Greg Kochaniak asking to explain my idea. So I told him and within 2 days, that feature was implemented!
This was what my review:
Suggested a bookmark feature. Developer hunted me on Google and asked me to elaborate on my suggestion. “Bookmark” was added within 48 hours! I use this app to listen to articles while driving to work.
I gave it 5 stars right after that!
I also gave Greg a suggestion on his icon should he want to change the current one.
Here’s my explanation:
I use it to read back articles to me hence the “voice bubble”. The big “V” is what @VAR is: VOICE. @VAR can be used for reading back Internet article, notes and books hence the 3 icons (website, book, folder) in the background.
If you find yourself checking the news or reading articles when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, just make @VAR read the article to you so you can keep your eyes on the road. Greg updates his app quite regularly and certainly reads the reviews he receives. Check it out yourself.
There are often lively discussions and exchanges at the Malaysian Atheists, Free Thinkers, Agnostics And Their Friends (MAFA) Facebook page about the existence of God or gods. The atheists often ask Christians to furnish proof of the existence of god while the Christians often ask for proof that god does not exist.
You can head over to MAFA’s Facebook page to read the many arguments and counter-arguments. Personally, the burden of proof should be with the one who says that god exists. Dr. Kok Sen Wai published this cartoon on his blog to illustrate it: http://all-funny-pictures.blogspot.com/
Someone recently asked me why a Christian would use the “shifting the burden of proof” argument. There are many reasons.
Let me try to explain with my own story. I’ve been a Christian for a good many years. I even have a degree from a Bible college and served in full time church work for many years.
When I moved away from Christianity into atheism, it was such a struggle. Was I doing the right thing? What if I am wrong? Aren’t I taking a big gamble on not believing in heaven?
In the past, I never missed church; not even when I was sick. However, when I started having doubts about my Christian faith, I started to skip Sunday services here and there. A few years later, I stopped going to church all together. I felt bad but church did not offer any more comfort to my doubts anymore.
Some time last year, my church pastor sent me an email asking about my status as a church member. Have I found another church, he asked. Do I still wish to keep my membership at my old church, he wanted to know. I really did not know how to reply him.
How do I tell the man who has watched over my Christian faith and who did everything he could to help strengthen my beliefs that I no longer believe in God Almighty? It took me 3 days to compose this email to him:
Dear Swee Ming and Kok Moi,
I am sorry, I was teaching a class when you called.
This is a difficult email for me to write as I have mixed feelings about where I stand with SSMC.
For many years, SSMC has been my church, my home and my sanctuary. This is the place where my friends are and the place where I served my friends. This is the place that showed me hope at the low points of my life and rejoiced with me at the high points.
I have not attended church services regularly for a few years. And, if you have been reading some of my LoyarBurok, Twitter and Facebook postings, you might have guessed that I do not take my Christian beliefs seriously anymore. I assure you it did not start with a rebellious spirit but with simple questions about my Christian beliefs. In the end, I could not find satisfactory answers to my questions and arrived at a difficult conclusion: agnosticism, bordering on atheism.
To shelve my Christian beliefs was very difficult for me. Despite my inactivity in church, you both have shown nothing but patience and love, often inviting my family to attend services.
For many years, I kept my agnosticism to myself; sometimes opening up by writing articles on LoyarBurok based on the questions I struggled with. I thought this conclusion was a private matter within myself as I feel uncomfortable sharing it with others, until I received your email today…
I guess I have to decide where I stand in terms of my Christian beliefs sooner or later. I could lie to you about my current state of beliefs but that would mean lying to the people I most respect in SSMC and also to myself. On one hand I would like to report that I have grown spiritually and closer to God so you can be proud of me but on the other hand, as you now know, I have not. I have always considered SSMC my home-church and would like to continue doing so. I do not know what the exact requirements are to continue being a member though I am sure I do not meet any of the requirements.
I love both of you and still hold you with high regard.
Note: Dr. Ng Swee Ming and his wife Dr. Kok Moi are pastors of the Sungai Way-Subang Methodist Church (SSMC).
So, why would a Christian defend his belief by shifting the burden of proof? Can you start to understand why by reading my email to my pastor above?
PS. This is the reply I received from Dr. Swee Ming, “..Will respect and honour your request to continue being a member of SSMC..”
Pepper tells his daughter more stories of nitwits who unwittingly changed history, driven by their greed and unthinking selfishness. In Part 3, he tells tales from the Americas.
I hope you are enjoying the stories of nitwits who changed history that I have been writing to you.
In this letter, I want to tell you of more nitwits; one from Haiti and one from Peru.
Haiti’s nitwits: The President’s Wife And His Advisors
Once upon a time, there was a small island off the coast of the USA called Haiti.
Haiti was a poor island depending on tourism for most of its income. Its people were largely uneducated and superstitious (Haiti is famous for its voodoo religion). In 1946, a politician named Francois Duvalier became very popular in fighting diseases threatening the island. The Haitians give him the nickname “Papa Doc” and he was later elected the president of Haiti in a landslide. Despite having such a big mandate from his fellow citizens, he ruled Haiti with an iron fist and fear.
Although Papa Doc graduated as a doctor from the University of Haiti, he was steeped in superstition. He was such a superstitious man that when he was told his political nemesis had “transformed into a black dog”, he ordered all the black dogs in Haiti put to death!
When he died in 1971, his 19 year old son nicknamed “Baby Doc” took over the reigns of power.
This young man who studied law at the University of Haiti did little to change the feared and hated regime of his father. Instead of upholding the law, he broke them. Instead of seeing to the needs of his people, he lived a lavish lifestyle at their expense. While his people lived in continued wretched poverty, he made his country spend US$3 million for his wedding. That is an estimated US$8 million in today’s money.
Unable to contain their anger and disappointment any longer, the people of Haiti staged a revolt in the city of Gonaives (a small city in the north of Haiti) in 1985. Baby Doc’s wife and advisers advised him to put down the revolt so he could remain in office.
If Baby Doc had done the right thing and used his power to effect a positive change in his country, things would have been different for Haiti. It might have even emulated Belgium, a country roughly the same size as Haiti. Instead, he listened to his wife and the advisers. He closed independent radio stations and, ordered the police and army to crack down on the dissidents.
This move angered the Haitians even more. More people revolted in other parts of Haiti until the police and army could not control the situation anymore. Baby Doc was forced to flee Haiti a year later in 1986. He fled to France (Haiti was once a French colony). The 2004 Global Transparency Report listed him as 6th in the list of the World’s Most Corrupt Leaders.
In 2011, Baby Doc returned to Haiti in the middle of the country’s general elections. Two days later, he was arrested by Haitian police on charges of corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds committed during his 15 year presidency.
If he had been a good leader who worked for the betterment of his people, he would have been welcomed home as a hero. Instead, he was arrested to face a court for crimes he committed as the President of Haiti. How would Haiti’s history had played out if Baby Doc did not listen to his wife? Who knows? He divorced her in 1990.
Peru’s Nitwit: The President’s Right Hand Man
Once upon a time, there lived a little boy named Alberto. Alberto was a Peruvian of Japanese descent. I can imagine he must have been teased in school for looking different from the other children.
Alberto came from a poor family but he studied hard and graduated as an agricultural engineer in 1961. After graduation, he taught at the university until 1987. You could say he was an academician. Then, one day, he saw the poverty stricken Peruvians suffering, hyperinflation eating away his country and the escalating drug trafficking problem, and decided to do something about it.
So, in 1990, he ran for president. He was nicknamed “El Chino” which means “Chinaman”. His campaign called for “cambio” which means “change”. And boy, did the people badly want the change that he offered them! Against all odds, this newcomer to Peru’s political scene, a Japanese who did not look Peruvian and, a politician from a new political party won the presidential elections!
As president, Alberto set about many changes that benefited Peru and its people. However, two of the most difficult challenges faced by him were terrorism and drug trafficking. Peru was gripped by terrorist groups namely Shining Path and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) who wanted to overthrow Peru’s government and implement communism. They killed officials and set off bombs in the cities to get their way. Alberto appointed someone with experience fighting terrorism named Vladimiro to help him. Vladimiro was given a free hand to fight trerrorism. He used Peru’s millitary might to do just that.
Sadly, instead of just terrorising the terrorists, Vladimiro also terrorised the people. He gradually controlled 6 of the 7 TV stations in Peru. He harassed Alberto’s political opponents, killed and bribed anyone to get his way and, detained people without trial. President Alberto should have culled Vladimiro even though he was his right hand man. Instead, Alberto turned a blind eye.
Vladimiro grew more bold. He often secretly videoed himself bribing or receiving bribes, which he later used to blackmail his victims.
One day, one of these videos leaked out and was broadcasted by one of the TV stations for all Peruvians to see! Then more videos surfaced. One video showed Vladimiro bribing one TV station US$500,000 a month not to give Peru’s opposition political parties airtime. Another showed him offering US$1.5 million for the same request. Yet another showed him counting US$350,000 in cash to cancel an investigative TV show that focused on the wrong doings of his agency.
Worst, the dirty trails led back to Alberto himself!
Vladimiro Montesinos, Alberto’s right hand man, was arrested and sentenced to the Callao Maximum Security Prison. Ironically, this prison was built by Vladimiro himself!
Alberto Fujimori fled the country and lived safely from the clutches of the Peruvian police for many years. Then he returned to Peru to run in the 2006 elections. He was promptly arrested and put on trial. He was found guilty of embezzlement, corruption and human rights violation (he ordered people killed) and sentenced to 25 years. Transparency International listed Fujimori as the seventh most corrupt government in their “Global Corruption Report 2004”.
Dear Paprika, some times we do not get to choose our destinies like Baby Doc Duvalier. And some times, our impossible dreams come true like Alberto’s did. If you are given the chance to lead, be a good leader and leave a legacy worth remembering instead of one that people will want to spit on. There might have been a time when heads of states could escape prosecution but today, that is changing. People want good leaders who are constantly working to give the people a better life and not someone who will oppress them.
Do your best in everything you do. I will always be proud of you.
Your loving father,
One of the first words Saffron could say was “Paprika”. No kidding! It was only later we found out he called the kindergarten and playground, “paprika”. He must have heard us call Paprika’s name every time we went to pick her up from her kindergarten and associated it to the school instead of his sister.
The other day Paprika sang me a song she learnt from her kindergarten. I heard her sing, “Jujujaree, jujujaree, jujujaree sejigoo, ahajeesnin, sasaraboo, jajajamaat, dan Sabtu!”
She pursed her mouth to make the “joo” sound and if it was not for the last two words, I would never have figured out she was singing, “Tujuh hari, tujuh hari, tujuh hari seminggu! Ahad, Isnin, Selasa, Rabu, Khamis Jumaat dan Sabtu!”
Dear Paprika and Saffron,
Sometimes you cry when you want your way. You throw a tantrum when you do not get what you want. You two fight over toys, colour pencils, TV shows, the bicycle, the pillow, the water tumbler, the keyboard, and so much more.
The other day, both of you fought over the tricycle. Little brother had gotten to it first but big sister pulled him away. Both cried, one for help and the other for justice.
I put on my angry voice and told you two, “No, Paprika! No, Saffron!”
Your mother, on the other hand, patiently picked both of you up and tried to pacify you.
Your mother will always try to calm you down without getting angry. “Ala-sayang! Oh-lo-lo-lo,” she will say to you. After you stop crying, she will give you some water to drink and explain how to share your toys.
After you read this letter, think of the biggest present you can both buy for her on Mother’s Day. You two owe her.
Your loving father,
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 - A local science club in Kuala Lumpur organised an event to celebrate the birthday of notable naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin who was born on 12 February 1809 became world famous after he proposed his scientific theory called “natural selection”. His book On The Origin Of Species, published in 1859, presented a body of evidence that life evolved through a process of natural selection; the strong continue to propagate while the weak eventually die out.
This free event was open to all and organised by APOSL, a science club whose acronym stands for “Advocates of the Propagation of Science Literacy”. It was held at Loyarburok’s Pusat Rakyat LB in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. The club’s aim is to help promote science and sceptical thinking.
When the guests came in, each one was given a banana and a large cookie decorated with a fish with legs. The banana and legged fish were later explained by Nathalie Kee, an 18 year old student. She explained, “The banana we enjoy today is actually a man made ‘natural selection’. Bananas in the wild are small and filled with seeds. Over the years, we have selected and only planted the types of bananas that give us the desired shape, quality and taste. The fish with legs symbolises evolution. There is an extincted fish called Ichthyostega which had limbs like legs.” She was also quick to emphasise that the cookie is not to snub the Christian symbol “ichthys”.
Pusat Rakyat LB was decorated with posters about Darwin’s life and his work. Guests were encouraged to read the bytes of information to learn more about him. An interesting fact I found while reading the poster was that the Church Of England issued an official apology for criticising Darwin, in 2008.
Hari Darwin gave the opportunity for many of the guests to meet. Most of them have only met each other online at APOSL’s Facebook page and were happy to meet one another in real life.
Ho Kian Kheong, a genetics and molecular biologist, presented a short biography of Charles Darwin. It seems Darwin procastinated 20 years before presenting his theory until another scientist named Alfred Wallace wrote to him and presented him with the same idea Darwin was working on. Being a gentleman, Darwin presented both ideas to the Linnean Society of London.
There were also sing-along songs about Darwin sung to the tune of The Beatles’ Revolution and the opening theme to The Big Bang Theory, a comedy television series.
The club baked a special cake depicting the evolution of human beings and sang a rowdy “happy birthday” for Darwin.
The most interesting part of the day’s programme was left to the end: a screening of a 3D documentary. The audience was handed reb-blue 3D spectacles for viewing the documentary about modern scientists who returned to the Galapagos Islands to continue the study Darwin started almost 200 years ago.
Darwin’s birthday is celebrated all over the world on or around 12 February. Schools, universities and science enthusiasts ahve been celebrating his birthday since 1882.
Today, I received an SMS saying I won a free prize for a contest I did not enter. What luck, huh? See the screenshot below. Yes, that’s my GoSMS theme. What? Too feminine for a guy?
The SMS message from 012-8221371 reads, “RM.0 Promotion’s Taniah sim kad Anda tlh meraih HADIAH PERCUMA “RM 19,000.00” dr SHELL HELIX No Reg 55229 Sila Call di Talian SHELL SDN BHD 014-2846244 TQ”
I did not bother calling the number because I did not enter any contest run by Shell petrol or Shell Helix recently so how can I be a winner? Moreover, it is strange that I have to call a mobile number to claim the prize.
This smelled of a scam.
Out of curiosity, I searched the Internet and found others have received the same SMS and when they called the number, they were told to buy 3 pre-paid top ups for the scammer first before they could receive their prize worth thousands of ringgit.
“Tolak Menara 118 Tingkat. Pulangkan Taman Merdeka Negara kepada Rakyat”
The text is taken from their Facebook page. The italics text comments are mine. More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151250900194475.485095.566829474&type=3
The rain had stopped in time for the event.
Built in 1958, our Taman Merdeka Negara (Taman Tunku), together with Chin Woo Stadium (1953), the Merdeka Stadium (1957) and the Stadium Negara (1962), constitute the ‘Rakyat’s Property’ for public use, enjoyment and reflection that represent the commemorative legacy of our pre-and post-Merdeka history. Collectively, the hill with its park, stadiums and surrounding communities, was once a sustainable civic space as a whole.
Chin Woo Stadium. The clock on the clock tower is Seiko.
During the Budget 2012 Presentation, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak announced the RM5 billion Warisan Merdeka development in three phases over 10 years, starting with the 118-storey Menara Warisan Merdeka which occupies the old site of the Taman Merdeka Negara(Taman Tunku). The construction and ownership of the structure for the usage of offices, shopping malls and condominium is undertaken by Permodalan Nasional Berhad(PNB).
Mural inside Stadium Merdeka.
We, the rakyat, are disgusted that not only will our public space be stolen from us but that the proposed structure and the accompanying development will forever change the character of one of the symbols of our national independence - Stadium Merdeka - by having a 118 storey tower dwarfing it.
A table was set up for donations and selling t-shirts.
Demands by PTMN:
1.To protect and preserve our Merdeka heritage site and the immediate surrounding landmarks which constitute the ‘Rakyat’s Property’ for public use, enjoyment and reflection - especially Stadium Merdeka, Stadium Negara, Taman Merdeka Negara(Taman Tunku) and Chin Woo Stadium which represent the collective and commemorative legacy of our pre-and post-Merdeka history.
A kompang group led the procession from Chin Woo Stadium to Stadium Merdeka. Rela officers directed traffic for the group.
2.To immediately cease the Warisan Merdeka Development Project and to immediately make the entire area a national heritage site under the National Heritage Act (2005) and to return Taman Merdeka Negara (Taman Tunku) back to the people as a public space as it was a public park from pre-Merdeka days.
Pak Samad and YB Fong are the only faces I recognise.
3.To commit to an inclusive, open, participatory consultation process, dialogue and communication with concerned communities and members of the public as equal stakeholders as part of the process to restore Taman Merdeka Negara (Taman Tunku) as a public space. To uphold and affirm the principles of democracy, integrity, transparency, accountability in the process of development for the site.
A sunset greeted me when I arrived at Chin Woo Stadium.
Inside the famous dome stadium.
A mural inside Stadium Merdeka.
Does it look like the lights are lighting up Menara Maybank?
Children learning wu shu inside Chin Woo Stadium.
Pak Samad reading a puisi he had written to support the movement. Link to his puisi: Senandung Rumah Pusaka (https://www.facebook.com/asamadsaid/posts/10151337009632162)
PTMN ditubuhkan dan terdiri daripada:
PTMN consists of:
Pertahankan Warisan Kita • Warga Kota Prihatin Kuala Lumpur • Dewan Perhimpunan Cina Selangor & Kuala Lumpur • Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia • Sekretariat Pembangunan Kampung Baru • Pusat Pembangunan Kebudayaan Lim Lian Geok • National Indian-Rights Action Team (NIAT) • Majlis Permuafakatan Perkampungan Warisan Melayu Kuala Lumpur (MUAFAKAT) • Sekolah Menengah Confucian • Jawatankuasa Bertindak Kampung Kerinchi • Jawatankuasa Bertindak Kampung Railway • Persatuan Pengurusan Perkuburan Kwong Tong Kuala Lumpur • Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia • Gereja Gospel Kuala LumpurPersatuan Keturunan Chan She Shu Yuen Kuala Lumpur & Selangor • Rakan KL • Persatuan Kwong Siew Selangor dan WP • Tamil Foundation Malaysia • Stadium Chin Woo Selangor & Kuala Lumpur • Persatuan Hokkien Selangor & Kuala Lumpur • Seniman Paksi Rakyat (PAKSI) • Persatuan Drama Kebajikan Yan Keng