August 2010 Archives

Steak porn: a sirloin odyssey

I came back from Las Vacas with a couple of prime cuts today, one being a lovely little sirloin. About 300grams (10oz) of loving, juicy meat. The hours to iftar seemed like a long haul. But the wait was worth it in the end.

This is a pictorial of what i did.

Las Vacas, In Search of meat

After the horror show that was TGIF, it got me thinking how hard would it be to find, cook and eat that "perfect steak". Two things came to me:

  1. A good steak in KL is expensive (but oh so worth it when the cravings hit)
  2. If you want a good steak affordably, you've got to do-it-yourself

I've done #1, now its time to do #2. 

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With suggestions from friends, i went in search of Las Vacas, a shop specializing in the retail of good halal meat. If you want, they'll even cook it for you too. But for today, i was looking for a good cut of meat to cook for myself tonight.

Its not an easy shop to find, and without iPhone Maps, i would have been lost. But as it turns out, the shop is literally just around the corner (well, 17.3km around the corner).

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The shop itself is quite nice. A nice display for the meats it has on sale (its quite seasonal apparently, they don't always have the same cuts and meats available). A freezer in the corner for their burger patties (which are hugely generous), and another display for fresh sausages and lamb cuts. The other half of the store holds tables for patrons who want to "eat in". 

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When i arrived, there was one table occupied, a father and son, and the steaks they had on their plates looked really good. I'll have to come back one day soon to try them out myself.

I was lucky enough to meet Freddy Azman, on of the Directors of the business. He talked me through some of the cuts of meat they had for sale -- grainfed Australian sirloin and rib-eye and Angus rib-eyes were prominently displayed. I told him what i wanted to do (i have an electric steak griller at home) and he patiently walked me through which cuts of meat i should use. They didn't have any tenderloin available, so i settled on a cut each of the grainfed sirloin and rib-eye. 

I asked him how they cook the meat in the shop -- "Salt, pepper, olive oil, that's it. Over a gas fired grill at the back." That's just the way i like my meat, simplicity. I liked him already.

I also picked up a packet of their famous beef pies that i've heard so much about. Just a couple of minutes in the oven and those would be ready to go.

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Total bill: RM48.80, for 2 prime cuts of meat and a large packet of beef pies. Not exactly cheap, but considering a good steak in good KL restaurant is about RM60+, i think its reasonable. 

During Ramadhan, Freddy told me that they do an all-you-can eat BBQ steak buffet for RM60 a person. Sirloins, tenderloins, lamb cuts -- as much as your cholesterol levels will allow you to eat. For the BBQ, they use a charcoal fire pit outside instead, tables inside the store and al fresco as well. I'll have to come back to check that out before the month is out.

Las Vacas has been around for 3 years, and besides retail meats, they also do distribution and wholesaling. Finally, a place where i can get the right meats to satisfy the carnivore in me? Amen.

Las Vacas - Beef It Up
No.23, Jalan SS 5A/11, Kelana Jaya
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: 03 78740711 Fax: 03 78740655

A tale of two steaks

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This Ramadhan i've had cravings for simple meat dishes for iftar. So despite the fact that my wallet can't really support this type of indulgence, i've had steaks at TGIF Bandar Utama and also Tony Romas @ The Curve

The experiences i had at both places were like night and day.

The quality of life debate

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I've known the answer to this question personally for a long time. But what do you think?

Would you rather live a long life with 30% less happiness than a short life with 100% happiness?

Exactly the experiment being done on a couple of rhesus monkeys in the University of Wisconsin. Op-Ed written by the legendary Roger Cohen.

Teo Nie Ching - undressed in the surau?

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Such a storm in a teacup. Teo Nie Ching was invited to speak to the congregation about the state's education program. Alright, she was not appropriately dressed for the event, wearing a tight-ish kebaya and without a scarf. But how was she to know that was against the rules, she is, after all just another infidel.

In any case, she's done the honourable thing and, despite it being no fault of her own, has offered her apologies to everyone who took offence (including, the Sultan).

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But what about Datin Rosmah, wife to our PM? Where was the uproar against her? Where are your manners and your apology? You have no excuse. You should know better -- a woman's hair is her aurat.

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I'm not making a big deal about it, it really doesn't bother me either way. Just saying that we need to be consistent about things and not blow things out of proportion.

This is how a leader should act: Najib are you watching?

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August 30th, an influential Jewish rabbi speaks from his pulpit:

"Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this earth," Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of the religious Shas party in Israel's government, said in a sermon late Saturday, using Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's popular name.

"God should strike them and these Palestinians -- evil haters of Israel -- with a plague," the 89-year-old rabbi said in his weekly address to the faithful, excerpts of which were broadcast on Israeli radio Sunday.

On the same day, the Israeli PM Netanyahu distances himself immediately from these comments. 

"These words do not reflect the approach of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, nor the position of the government of Israel," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

In our own little pond, it took Najib weeks to release a statement on the racial tensions being fanned into a bonfire by certain sectors of our society. Truly, world class indeed. 

Its just not good enough -- not only should the repudiation be immediate, but Najib should name names. Put the offenders down, create a significant distance between yourself and them. Show some cojones and take a bold stand. If a Jewish PM can speak so boldly against such a respected member of the Jewish religious community, surely Najib can speak out plainly against a couple of school teachers and a firebrand from Pasir Mas. 

Surely.

Article 153 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution

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Seems like Ibrahim Ali is a one-trick pony. It's called Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Nearly every argument he makes on the "supremacy" of the Malays uses this article as its support. 


"It says so in the Constitution" (ergo: i must be right)

Lets see how well this holds up. There is a feeling that too many Malaysians do not know enough history and context, and that's why we fall prey to the words of our leaders, whom we have become too trusting of to tell the truth.

In the run-up to independence in 1957, the Reid Commission was established to analyse the state of Malaya and to, independently, help the fledgling nation draft its first constitution. The leaders of Malaya, including the rulers (sultans), agreed to their assistance.

One of the things they recognized was that there was a socio-economic disparity between the races in Malaya. The Chinese and Indians who were brought in by the British to reap the rich mineral assets of the nation were, by far, much better off than the indigenous Malays (though it wasn't always clear who these indigenous Malays were -- some Chinese and Indians have called Malaya home for hundreds of years). It was recorded that the Malays, though making up a large majority of the population held just a fraction of the economy. 

If there is one thing you can say about the British, they do have a sense of "fair" play. They recognized the importance of having a "balanced" nation, prescribing that the Constitution reflect the need of the nation to temporarily give preference to the indigenous Malays.

An interesting fact often overlooked is that Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Malay Rulers at the time disagreed with this and wanted an independent Malaya where all nationals would be accorded the same rights and privileges regardless of race and creed. (Putra, Tunku Abdul Rahman (1986). Political Awakening, p. 31.)

But, in the end, the Reid Commission had its way since it was agreed that they were the independent body that would draft our Constitution. They did however insert a provision that Article 153 would be reviewed after 15 years to see if it still remained relevant to the nation.

Fast forward 15 years, 1972. Two extremely significant things had happened by then.

The first was the race riots of 13 May 1969. Triggered by a strong showing by the DAP and Gerakan in the elections, both of whom strongly opposed special privileges for the Malays, it ignited an underlying tension between the Malays and the non-Malays created by the the poverty of the former. You see, even after 13 years of independence, the Malays still controlled only 2-4% of the wealth of the nation. Perhaps it was a failure of the Government in their efforts to equitably distribute wealth. Perhaps it was due to an inherent weakness of the Malay culture; my parents tell me that the Malay "tidak apa" attitude is not a recent phenomenon brought about after decades of affirmative action.

Whatever the reason, it was a horrible blow to the nation, not because hundreds of people were killed that day, but because it showed that the nation had a fundamental weakness -- it was divided along racial lines.

As a result of the fear factor the riots and the fallout produced, the Government suspended Parliament for a few years, and the first thing it did when it reconvened in 1971 was to pass the Sedition Act which, among other things, protected Article 153 of the Constitution from any form of attack, debate, criticism or review.

So, in 1972, 15 years after independence, the time when everyone had agreed to review the usefulness of Article 153, came and passed. The NEP (and the NDP and the NNA in subsequent years) was put into affect, with the objective of 30% equity for Bumiputeras in Malaysia. 38 years later, and the Bumis are barely there, struggling to hang on. Why are they still struggling? Four decades is a long time, two generations should be enough to break the cycle of weakness.

Sure, a few super-rich Bumis have emerged, and this tends to skew the economic chart, but in reality, the distribution of wealth has remained poor. Certainly, the economic pie has grown, thus leading to an absolute increase in wealth and the creation of a sustainable middle-class, but the Bumis still dominate the lower end of the charts.

Could there be a systemic problem amongst the Malays that a simple quota system is unable to change?

There is a saying about good intentions and the road to hell. It applies here. The fathers of independence realized that a nation divided by a vast socio-economic chasm would ultimately crash and burn. So they decided to do something about it, as best as they could.

But today, their solution, 53 years later, isn't a solution at all. The Bumiputeras are still lagging behind in critical areas of society: financial equity, education, etc. Maybe the solution wasn't the solution; maybe, over the years, it became a part of the problem. Only the weak require protection. Why are the Bumis still weak after so many years of preferential treatment? That's the real question our leaders, especially the Malay leaders such as Ibrahim Ali should be asking.

If there is one thing Perkasa and the other ultras in our society have proven, its that the crutch of the Bumiputeras has transformed into the wedge that divides the nation. 53 years is too long to be on crutches, my Bumiputera brothers and sisters. When will you realize that you have been helped to walk for so long, it is you who have already forgotten the steps. 

You are being manipulated every day by the Ibrahim Alis who tell you that you can't walk without their help. Just like a drug pusher who "helps" his customers get through the day with their daily fix, he and others like him are telling you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.

There is only so long that the nation can progress and prosper under its current modus. We are fast approaching a hard ceiling to the limit where the nation can carry its people and still move forward. If Malaysia is to break this ceiling and push on to greater things, to be a real nation of significant influence and development, it will need the reverse to occur -- Malaysians must begin carrying her. 

One day perhaps

This is what i want to do.

Make a difference, to put myself out there and be all i can be.

Saying "NO" to racism

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Alright, the Good Word has finally made its way to the ears of a Few Good Men. When you do something bad, i'll say so. Its only fair to do the same when you do something good.

Najib said his administration must adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy towards racism and will take immediate action against those found to have made racial slurs.

Hopefully, he means organizations such as PERKASA and its ultra-racist leader Dato' Ibrahim Ali, and not just the comparatively easier targets of school principals. In any case, its a good start, and making such a public statement provides a locus on which reference can be made. Good ol' Lim Kit Siang can always be counted on to crack the whip; he's already started.

Khairy echoed the PM quite nicely as well. The PM's youngest daughter is still single i hear. Things that make you go, "Hmmmm..."

"Perkasa is hurting us, our chances in gaining non-Malay votes. For Umno, BN to win, we cannot afford to be associated with these people. They are alienating us from a large segment of voters," he said.

Clever boy, well said and spot on. The fact that you didn't say it earlier (like weeks ago) means that you had to check with someone first to see if that was the right thing to say. I can understand Najib needing to check the numbers first before putting his mouth out there for public record, but you? You're a youth leader, the firebrand of the society you represent, the model of the modern Malay Muslim. You should have been on their case from Day 1, rather than waffling in doubt. While better late than never, i can't say that i'm impressed with your timing.

A bribe in all but name?

I know, its Ramadhan and i shouldn't think poorly of my fellow man. But i just can't help to wonder whether there are other motives for the RM500 "duit raya" for civil servants besides the kind hearted goodwill of the Government.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will pay the RM500 in special payment to civil servants on Wednesday, the Public Service Department (PSD) said.

Nearly RM1billion spent on this "present". The people in Putrajaya are generous. Perhaps i shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.


KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 -- Talk has surfaced in Umno and government circles that Datuk Seri Najib Razak is favouring early polls, as early as the first half of 2011, although the Barisan Nasional's (BN) mandate is until 2013.

The Umno president has bounced the idea with ruling party politicians and believes that it is best to get a new mandate when the economy is still growing at a fast clip. Malaysia posted 10.1 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2010, followed by a slightly slower 8.9 per cent in the second quarter of the current year.

RM500 makes a nice little buttering up gift, doesn't it?

WHAT?! PKR epic fail

What's the point of having party elections if PKR is releasing lists of names that are "preferred" to win?! -5 points right there. You might as well not have the elections and just have appointments for each position. 

PETALING JAYA: Wanita PKR has endorsed its list of "preferred" nominees to contest top positions at the party's upcoming national elections.

Top on the list is PKR election director Fuziah Salleh, nominated to contest one of the four national vice-presidents' posts.

I'm disappointed. PKR wanted to show BN how it's done? More like a pot calling the kettle black.

Malaysia is losing its brains

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Lim Kit Siang may be getting on in years, but he's still as sharp as ever.

"Unchecked escalation of the rhetoric of race and religion would have the effect of giving a major push to a greater brain drain from the country instead of pulling back talents from the Malaysian diaspora to return to serve the country," he said.

I know of at least 2 people who have left Malaysia to find work abroad. Before the more cerebrally challenged among you say good riddance to bad rubbish, consider the fact that both were leaders in their field. Cutting-edge professionals who had already contributed much to the country, but felt, for the sake of their families and themselves, that greener pastures could be found elsewhere (and as of today, they were right).

Why did they leave? The same reasons why anyone would.

  • Sick of the corruption and patronage it takes to get ahead
  • Racism made them feel under-appreciated -- they did not have the "kulitification" to be suitable recognized for their deeds
  • First-world work but third-world wages
  • A poor education system, they wanted more for their kids

After a few years overseas, not only did the society accept them handsomely, but they received recognition, award and appreciation for their work. I've been told, people there don't care where they came from, or that they were Muslims or that they were Chinese or Malay. Perhaps even if they were green-skinned aliens, they would have received the same treatment as long as they contributed to the society.

It took one of them more than 20 years of dedicated service to be awarded a full professorship in one of Malaysia's local universities, all the while seeing younger, less qualified, but of the correct race and colour, being promoted instead. Just 5 years overseas was all it took for the same recognition to be given, in a university that ranks amongst the worlds top 50 (let's not forget that no Malaysian university even ranks in the top 500).

That's just one example of discontent. There are others, of course.

The ultra-nationalists will say that they don't need people like these in our country anyways. Disloyal traitors that they are. Well, they would be wrong on both counts. These people were loyal servants for many years but whose contributions were largely ignored and unrewarded. And, no, Malaysia does need people like this to stay in our borders -- no country ever became great with its greatest minds working for someone else. 

Now imagine, if i know 2 guys who left. And you know 2 guys of the same. And the next person knows another 2 guys. And so on. Pretty soon it all adds up. That's a HUGE pool of talent working for the benefit of someone else. 

There are 750,000 Malaysians working overseas today, many enjoying a life they would not be able to receive here. If there ever was a condemnation of how poorly we're doing as a nation, that would be it.  

Never stop talking

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I read Praba's commentary today about how courage and confidence comes from within, from "tracing back their upbringing without censorship".

Sounds terribly New Age to me and it differs drastically to my own experiences as a public speaker and university debater.

There really isn't a secret formula to it. Of course, being well prepared, knowing the subject matter inside and out does help, but there will invariably be times when you just don't know what you have to talk about and still be able to present it in a convincing manner. How do you maintain your air of confidence then?

There's where self-belief and a little known trick i call, "speaking without saying anything" comes along. What i've discovered is public speaking follows one of physic's indisputable laws: an object in motion remains in motion. 

The moment you break down and lapse into silence, you stop speaking; unfortunately, this also usually leads to your brain shutting down as well. To get started again is ridiculously difficult, and awkward. That's where we get those "awkward silences" from; its a breakdown in flow of words and thoughts. So keep on talking, but try not to say anything, or at least anything of consequence. You don't want to commit yourself to a mistake of saying something wrong; better to say something no one understands (but pretends to) than to say something everyone knows is wrong!

What saves you? Your mind usually does. While your mouth is buying your brain a few precious seconds, you'll be surprised how much actually goes on in your head during that time. Probably neurons go into overdrive, and usually new ideas start appearing in your head, ready to be plucked and delivered down to your mouth once more.

The moment you realize that you can pull this off will be the moment you never need to fear speaking in public again.

Khairy Watch (an ongoing series)

My fascination with this man probably stems from the fact that he's a peer in my age group. A young Malay Muslim man, well educated, moderate and progressive. A politician, certainly, so its understandable when he gets his foot stuck in his mouth every once in a while.

Today, i was impressed when he said that we need more transparency in the handling of Government contracts if we're going to be able to attract foreign investment. A nice little backhand comment into the face of cronyism. 

Then, the next thing he says is that Malaysia is not divided along racial lines. /facepalm. Has he been playing ostrich lately and had his head stuck in the sand?

Sometimes you just have to wonder which Khairy is the real him. 

Miss Malaysia at Miss Universe 2010

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Its a terrific dress that Nadine Ann Thomas wore during the national dress segment of the Miss Universe competition. Apparently, it was designed by a local Malaysian, Jovian Mandagie (if that's not the most terrific name you've ever heard, i don't know what is!).

Congrats, dear lady. You did us proud!

The "rakyat" disease

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Sometimes i wonder whether the "rakyat" (i use the term loosely to describe the average Malaysian person-on-the-street) are suffering from a disease called, you-are-just-wrong-titis. This is a real disease, check it out in the New England Journal of Medicine if you don't believe me.

The origins of this disease lie in the period leading up to the fateful 2008 General Elections, where for the first time ever, the BN stranglehold on the Malaysian states and parliament was broken in quite emphatic fashion. 

The symptoms of this disease include:

  • Believing that the Barisan Nasional is full of corrupt leaders
  • Believing that anything the Barisan Nasional tells you must be a lie
  • Believing that anything the PKR tells you is Holy Gospel
  • Believing that the rakyat is being cheated out of its wealth and rights
  • Believing that the rakyat know how to run the country better than the Government

The disease spreads via word of mouth and Patient Zero is believed to have been first infected somewhere near Kamunting.

The problem with this disease is that it creates a problem in the mindset of the people: one of distrust, and perhaps even pure hatred. There is nothing wrong with distrust, but there are many things wrong with hatred. Once you hate something, you start to lose perspective, you begin to migrate into a space where even good things are viewed badly. You begin to make bad decisions, your judgement becomes impaired. You lose impartiality, your objectiveness and, eventually, you lose your ability to make rational decisions.

Even you make the right decision, but for irrational reasons, its just a matter of time before all your decisions become wrong.

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The only known cure for this disease is critical thought, laced with a heavy dose of pause before you talk or act. Never put the cart before the horse, or take anything anyone says at face value. Question everything, especially those things that you feel strongest about. Its a constant effort, and one that so many will so easily fail to do, but with some luck you might be one of those that will break the disease. Because once you've broken the disease, you become immune to it forever, and chances are good that your children will inherit your immunity. If for nothing else, that's a good reason as any to struggle for the cure.

A minister just in name

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I'm sure Nurul Izzah is a nice girl. She seems to have her priorities right; her blog shows her truly being committed to on-the-ground efforts in helping her constituents. Everything that an MP should be. The fact that she is the daughter of the de facto leader of the Opposition just adds a splash of spice to the whole deal.

I don't know her well enough to say whether she's a smart girl. But then again, its so easy to look smart when your opponents make such unimpressive mistakes. Or should i call them "impressive mistakes" instead since it really takes quite a bit of talent to make such an error.

Timeline:

March 17: Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in answering a question in Parliament, states that "The submarine was not allowed to dive because of a slight problem which could affect its safety. This is a normal safety procedure for any submarine operator which observes very strict safety measures," he said.

August 5: MP Nurul Izzah says essentially the same thing in an interview with an Indonesian newspaper.

August 19: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi criticizes Nurul Izzah, "...we should stick to the truth and not go to the extent of damaging the country's image, especially in matters concerning national defence." He goes so far as to call her a "penderhaka" (traitor).

August 21: RMN chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar, "The glitches like the sub not being able to dive was detected when it was under trial while within the warranty period and they have been fixed and I like to urge the people outside not to politicise the matter."

Its no wonder that the Opposition is having such a free ride with the hearts and minds of the people. The incumbent, at times, just seems so out of touch with reality.

Not only does Ahmad Zahid accuse Nurul Izzah of being a traitor for a "crime" that he committed himself several months earlier, he does it in such a negative way instead of leading with positive news that all sea trials for the subs have actually been successfully completed.

A real minister would have said:

"With all due respect to Nurul Izzah and the great work she's done, she is not up-to-date with the latest information regarding the submarines. They have recently successfully completed their sea trials and are sea-worthy to perform their duties. The Admiral of the Navy will be releasing a statement shortly to confirm this fact."

And if he wanted to add a bit of back-handed slap to it, he could have added:

"In the future, i hope Nurul Izzah will be more diligent in her research, and speak to the defence experts on the matter of defence before releasing such statements to the public. Thank you."

See? Its not hard to look good in this country, especially when you're up against ministers who seem so out of touch with their manners and responsibilities. 

As for Ahmad Zahid, he needs to read more, learn more from how truly world-class ministers handle themselves. There should be a handbook entitled, "Ministers for Dummies" on the shelves somewhere.

ps. Just a little bit of extra goodies: check out the stream of news on the web about our submarines.

Is meritocracy racist?

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Its the same question Tun Mahathir asked in his recent blog post. He makes some very unusual claims there, the main one being that meritocracy, as it exists in the Malaysian context, was derived from racist origins. 

But the PAP chauvinistic legacy was taken up by the DAP. And the slogan "Malaysian Malaysia" continued to figure in Malaysian politics, evolving into a new catchword, "Meritocracy". If "Malaysian Malaysia" conjures equality between races, "Meritocracy" implies something stronger. It implies dominance by the race with the greatest merit in every field; in education, in business and in all fields of human endeavour. 

He implies that the DAP, by promoting "meritocracy" is actually promoting a non-Malay domination of the society because its a foregone conclusion that the best Malaysians, in terms of education, business or any other field, are non-Malays. 

That's an interesting perspective on things and something i've never considered before.

Is "meritocracy" a very clever smokescreen for "racism"? The way Tun puts it does seem convincing. I think i understand his concerns -- he realizes that Malays, left on their own without help from the Government, would take years to become competitive in a level playing field. The Chinese have been forced to be competitive for the last 50 years of Independence, and its arguable than even a poorly-performing Chinese is better than an above average performing Malay.

Coming from a background of mixed parentage, i can see this quite clearly for myself. I'm considered a Bumiputera Malay, despite having a Chinese father. My cousin who is the same age as myself is classified "Chinese" by race. 

Ever since we were kids, he blew me away in school -- academically, on the field of sports. He was just the better boy. When the big exams came around, he scored straight As, and i managed just a handful of As.

While it was possible for me to obtain a Government scholarship to further my studies, he had no such opportunity despite being the better student. The scholarship opportunities for non-Malays existed, but were very few. Amongst the Malays, i probably did quite well, but amongst the Chinese, he was just average.

Under a merit-based system, where everyone had equal access to limited resources, i can see where Tun has a point -- its very very likely that the Malays would have been left with a very small portion of the pie. This can be a very bad situation considering that Malays do make up a significant majority of the population. That's where Tun Mahathir is coming from. By ensuring that a majority of the opportunities go to the majority of the population, you are creating an environment of peaceful contentment.

If the minority of the country control the majority of the opportunities, its just a matter of time before you get an Indonesia-type meltdown (1998)

Tun Mahathir is not a dumb guy, lets give him that much credit at least. Like a good chess player, he could always see a few moves ahead. Also like a good chess player, he knew when to make a good gambit. The NEP, the affirmative action for Malays, the championing of Malay rights and privileges -- that was his gambit.

He knows that affirmative action creates complacency. It holds back the development of a nation. Malaysia could have become Singapore if we had embraced "meritocracy" 50 years ago. Or, Malaysia could have become Indonesia and completely melted down in the face of an economic crisis. Weighing the possibilities of the available scenarios, he chose the safer route. His gambit, the sacrifice he made on behalf of the nation, was to take a safer, albeit slower path towards development.

The question facing us today is whether or not that path has run its course, and its time for us as a nation to change our tack. Are we ready to rid ourselves of our training wheels? 

53 years of independence is not a long time. But i think its long enough to start believing in ourselves. It'll be a painful journey, sure. However, unless we take it, Malaysia will not be able to make that leap from developing to developed. That goal should transcend all others.

This ain't Hollywood, folks


The amazing thing is that the driver wasn't killed in the crash.

Its the sort of crash you would expect to see in a Hollywood blockbuster, seems surreal that it really happened. The car hit the median, flew a good 20 meters, smacked the overhead, split into 3 pieces, with a thousand more tiny pieces flying all over. 

Cool.

Gandhi was over-rated?

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A piece of humour here to brighten up an otherwise dreary Tuesday afternoon.

Gandhi was the saint who, through his principles of ahimsa (non-violence), brought independence to India in 1947. At least, that's what you've probably heard. But the Indian independence movement was a strong force well before Gandhi entered the scene. The nation's freedom would have happened within a few years of 1947 even if Gandhi had spent his life meditating in a cave. He was a figurehead for the cause, while various other leaders were doing most of the work (and if you say "I've never heard of anyone else," I won't be remotely surprised).

Makes you wonder who else closer to home is over-rated... *hmmmmm*

An epic traffic jam - entering its 9th day!

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For a brief moment while reading this, it felt good to be a Malaysian braving our traffic jam free roads (relatively speaking, of course!). I'm sure the feel good feeling will go away once i actually hit the streets again after work today...

Since August 14, thousands of Beijing-bound trucks have jammed the expressway again, and traffic has stretched for more than 100 kilometers between Beijing and Huai'an in Heibei Province, and Jining in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China National Radio (CNR) reported Sunday.

If it wasn't so sad, it'd be hilarious.

White door



Don't give in to beggars

I never give money to beggars, foreign or otherwise. Period. And neither should anyone else.

[Michael] Chong said last year, a foreign beggar had sought his help to recover RM30,000 allegedly owed to him by his "boss" for months of "work".

He said such earnings were shared between the beggars and their syndicates, so the public should refrain from giving any money at all.

"The best method to tackle this problem is by refusing to give beggars money, leaving them with no choice but to return to their own country to earn an honest living," he said.

Its not that i don't care about the poor and unfortunate people, but its that i don't care for beggars. A beggar puts no effort to make his life better -- if he did, he wouldn't be begging. There are social welfare centers all over that will not only give you enough food and sometimes a place to live temporarily, but also teach you basic skills that can help you get a simple job. 

I have no time, and no sympathy for those who don't make any attempt to make a difference for themselves. Its a hard stand, but necessary. 

Newcastle 6 - Aston Villa 0

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*video highlights of the game can be viewed at the end of the full article*

What a fantastic way to bring the weekend to a close! A 6-0 masterclass at St James' Park, with the birth of a new Toon hero, Mr Andy Carroll

I've been a Newcastle supporter since the heady days of Keegan in the old Division 2. So you can say i've had a roller coaster ride over the years supporting this schizophrenic team. From having the Premiership snatched from the jaws of victory, to the grandfatherly days of Robson, to the embarrassment of relegation two seasons ago, to the 100-point haul in the Championship last year. A grand mirage of highs and lows.

Then last week, the disastrous outing at the Theater of Dreams, started all the alarm bells ringing. Being so comprehensively drubbed by the Red Devils put the fear of the football gods in me -- was this a sign of the season to come?

The Pakistan Flood (2010)

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Bad things happen, often for no apparent or avoidable reasons. The Great Flood of Pakistan, July 2010, is one of those things.

An editorial in the NY Times, appealing for contributions of relief and aid, brought a tear to my heart.

In the early morning the cow had collapsed, and I could see it would soon be dead. Its eyes were beginning to dull, as the owner squatted next to it, sprinkling water into its mouth, as if it were possible to revive it. Its legs were swollen from standing in water, and its chest and torso were covered with deep cuts and scrapes, sheets of raw flesh where branches rushing past must have hit it.

The rest of the family sat nearby on a string bed, resigned, waiting for the end. This was their wealth, but when it died they would tip it into the water and let it float away to the south. Through the past few days they had seen it all, houses collapsed, trees uprooted, grain spoiled, and this was just one more blow.

I had to do something, and i did. Donated $50 to Unicef.

You can do the same.


Or donate here, and i'll forward the money for you.

The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet.

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This article by Wired is destined to be an all-time classic. A milestone of reality, when we realized that what the Internet means to us as human beings has irrevocably changed.

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad -- that's one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times -- three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix's streaming service.

You've spent the day on the Internet -- but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

Extremely well written, a must-read for anyone remotely bothered about how our we're evolving from browsing the Internet to actually being connected to it.

Strippers respond

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The issue of the Park51 mosque in NYC seems to have a grip on the nation. 2 of the top 10 topics on Google today are about the mosque. But beyond all the politics, how are people who are really on the ground affected or responding to the building of the mosque? 

Just a door away from Park51 is a strip club. Let's hear what some of the strippers have to say.

"I don't know what the big deal is," Cassandra said. "It's freedom of religion, you know?"

And this is my personal favourite.

Chris said she lost eight friends on Sept. 11, 2001 -- firefighters from the Brooklyn firehouse next to her home at the time. "The people who did it are not going to the mosque," she said.

Sometimes people who take off all their clothes for a living have a brighter head on their shoulders than those who keep all their clothes on. True story.

ps. Arshad Hasan is not a stripper, but the Executive Director of Democracy for America (a million-member lobby group). He brings a dose of reality to the debate by saying:

[L]et's be clear, the subject of the highest profile Muslim structure, 51 Park in New York City, will have a basketball court and a culinary school. Two floors will have a prayer room. The other eleven will host movie nights, performances, group dinners, etc -- it's basically a Muslim YMCA, open to everyone. These moderate Muslims are doing everything we could ask of them. They're trying to build a bridge in the communities they live in, trying to show the world that Muslims are cool and interesting and diverse, and proving that being a Muslim does not equal being a terrorist.

Muslim sensitivities part deux

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I wrote about it yesterday. The Nut Graph publishes a really good article on the same theme today.

What Perkasa's actions boil down to in Shah Alam is this. It's saying that because it's Ramadan and because Shah Alam is a Muslim-majority suburb, no other faith group is allowed to practise freedom of religion, expression or association. If they do, they can be cited for sedition, insulting the Malay ruler, and the crime of proselytising to Muslims.

[...]what the party (PAS) is saying is that the lifestyle of all non-Muslims must be subservient to those of some Muslims.

[...]It doesn't matter if nothing in Islam actually prohibits non-Muslims from staging a Christian play during Ramadan, drinking alcohol, eating pork and watching a pig character in the movies.

[...]At the rate Muslim "sensitivities" are paraded about, one would think Muslims lived their lives like exposed nipples, ever excitable. When the truth is, we know that Muslims are thinking, rational human beings who belonged to one of the most historically advanced civilisations.

There needs to be a limit on this. Living in a community, obviously we should be sensitive towards the feelings of others who share the same space. But what we see happening in Malaysia is really starting to get out of hand, the balance is tipping too far to the extreme of the scale. Pretty soon, if not already, in our attempts to be fair to the Muslim majority, we start being unfair to the non-Muslim minority.

The first thing the Government should do is take care of PERKASA. As an organization, they have really gotten under the skin of the non-Malay, non-Muslim segment of society with their brand of fear-control politics. Every time they release a statement, its a complaint. Every time they see something they don't like (which is a lot), they run to the police to make a report using words such as "sedition, insult to Muslims/Sultan". They are using State-owned apparatus' to propagate fear and hate. Imagine if a non-Muslim owned organization named JESUS (Just Leave Us Alone Society) were to do the same. The banhammer and the ISA would be just around the corner.

Perhaps Khalid Samad is right. PERKASA is allowed, perhaps even encouraged to continue their campaign of fear, hatred and intolerance because elections are right around the corner. BN did learn a good lesson from our Brit masters after all. Its called, "divide and conquer".

----------------------------------

edit 2.04pm, same day: Actually i think i should clarify. After giving it some thought, asking the Government to "take care" of PERKASA may seem to go against everything i believe: freedom of speech and thought. You know what? Let them say what they want to say, make the police reports they want to make, bleating along like the Lambs they obviously are

But what i do want to see is someone, a Malay Muslim leader of this country, to stand up and say, "No, you are wrong and we do not support you." A Najib, a Anwar, an Izzah, or even a Khairy. You are all supposed to represent our "moderate" Malay voice, fighting to build a new Malaysia where moderate Islam is its hallmark. Speak, or with your silence, affirm your consent. 

You want the moderate Malay Muslim vote? Well here i am, come and get it.

Non-muslims fasting during ramadhan is heresy!

I can't wait for the fool to stand up and lodge a police report about this.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 -- This Ramadan, many Christians are fasting without churches making it compulsory. The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) is organising a 40-day fast and prayer which started on August 8, with many of NECF's 2,800 member churches participating.

Surely, this is against someone's interpretation of Islam, and an insult to fasting Muslims everywhere. Ramadhan is OUR holy month, damnit.

Thank you, Praba

For pointing the way to Bertrand Russel. His quotes nicely encapsulate the things on my mind today.

Bertrand Russell states the following, his Liberal Decalogue:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worthwhile to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent that in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

A curious duality

When Israel attacked the Peace Flotilla and killed 9 people trying to bring humanitarian aid to Palestine, Malaysian Muslims demonstrated in a frenzy of hate, burning flags in front of the embassy of the "Great Satan" right here in Kuala Lumpur.

When Muslims conducted a terrorist attack, killing 74 World Cup fans in Uganda, it didn't even make the news here in Malaysia. Where were the demonstrations of support in front of the Ugandan embassy, denouncing the violence?

Malaysian Muslims claim to be moderate Muslims. But our actions don't seem to match our words. We are easily outraged when slighted, but hardly so when crimes are committed in the name of our faith.

Being sensitive about your religion

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If the case of Park51 has thought us Malaysians anything, its that freedom and equality should trump any considerations of "lets-not-do-that-because-it-hurts-our-sensitivities". Consider the following:

  • Mayor Bloomberg is a Jew, yet he champions the rights of Muslims and a mosque.
  • Park51 is a stone's throw away from where Muslims killed thousands of Americans. Yet, every single regulatory body in NYC (presided over by New Yorkers, mind you), have approved the project. 
  • Islam-phobia has never been higher in America, yet the President of the United States weighed in on the issue on the side of Muslims (well, he did later clarify that he was on the "side" of the American Constitution, and not Muslims per se)

You can bet that every single one of those people, including those who actually lost loved ones, have yet to forget the horrors of 9/11. Lets not forget the ongoing "war" against Muslims in West Asia where many Americans have already lost their lives.

Would anyone blame them for saying no to the construction of the Park51 mosque? Under those circumstances, probably not. I didn't. I should have given the American people a bit more credit.

Compare that to Malaysia where our Muslim "sensitivities" are outraged nearly every other day. 

  • If you want to build a church or a temple, its got to be in a place where the Muslim community is a hugely significant minority. Forget about it if you want to build a synagogue.
  • A local church wants to hold a Christian play in a public auditorium during Ramadhan. Nope, you can't do that either because it hurts our sensitivities. 
  • You can't publish the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia. Can't have you trying to convert people to Christianity. The reverse, of course, isn't true.

Why are Muslims so "sensitive"? Do people think that our faith is so weak that a church next door or a Christian play will be able to sway us to convert? It all smacks of a tremendous problem of identity, self-esteem and integrity

Do upon others as you would have them do upon you. I guess that doesn't apply to us. Grow up. Being mature means putting aside your "feelings" in favour of doing what's fair and what's right. Respecting the rights of others just as you would have them respect yours is the first most important step.

It wasn't suicide? o' really?

Apparently, ya' really.

Its taken use more than a year to come to a conclusion that should have been quite obvious from Day 1. A man about to get married, has a baby on the way, and has recently made sure that his friends were going to attend his wedding doesn't commit suicide.

Its very possible that Teoh Beng Hock voluntarily jumped to his death, as in, he himself, without anyone to push him or threaten him, took a step off the window and killed himself. But to argue that he did that without a systemic shift in his state of mind is just something that i think most reasonable persons will not accept. 

Something happened to this young man to make him want to jump (and i'm being generous here, assuming that no one beat him senseless and threw him off). What was that something?

A case of the horse's backside forward

I've had a theory for some time: the policy makers of the country should be drawn from a pool of professionals who have spent a significant portion of their lives actually being involved in the application of policies. 

Let a doctor who has spent years in healthcare be in your minister of health.
Let a teacher who has spent years teaching be in charge of your country's education policies.
Let a soldier be your minister of defense.

It just makes good sense.

Here is an example of when you go against this principle.

On Aug 13, The Star, quoting Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, reported that the Cabinet had decided to classify baby dumping that led to the death of babies as a crime that warranted the death sentence.

She said this was needed to nail those responsible for the deaths.

"The Cabinet has decided that the Home Ministry, through the police, investigates these cases as murder when a baby dies. The police would be asked to conduct DNA tests to identify the parents of dead babies," she said in a statement.

Compare that to a statement released by someone who actually knows a little something about the differences between murder, culpable homicide and infanticide. Datuk Mahadev Shankar, a lawyer and judge for more than 40 years, wrote:

Although the erratic behaviour of mothers during pregnancy - and occasionally even bizarre behaviour after childbirth - has been observed throughout human history, this syndrome was not clearly understood until advanced endocrinological studies identified the existence and impact of hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone on human behaviour.

It is now well documented that post-partum psychosis has complex causes and does not spring from incipient criminal tendencies.

Far from punishing maternal victims of this disease they are more deserving of rehabilitation.

He makes several more very valid points as well, but this is the most valid: just as there are many ways to kill someone (even a baby), there are many reasons why it happens, therefore, courts (and society) need to apply the appropriate punishment (if any) on a case by case basis.

Just because baby dumping is an emotional issue, it doesn't mean that we take a huge broom and sweep it all under a common solution. For a cabinet minister of our government to suggest as such (and not make any clarification afterwards, surely she must have realized her boo-boo in hindsight) just speaks so poorly about how our leaders operate.

Don't these people have an army of advisors that help them make these decisions? If they don't, hire some. If they already do, replace them. 

Sex in the Vampire

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From left to right, Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Paquin & Stephen Moyer. Deliciously gorgeous!

Says Stephen Moyer -- who plays Bill Compton, the undead Southern Civil War Veteran -- "If we go from a base level, vampires create a hole in the neck where there wasn't one before. It's a de-virginization -- breaking the hymen, creating blood and then drinking the virginal blood. And there's something sharp, the fang, which is probing and penetrating and moving into it. So that's pretty sexy. I think that makes vampires attractive." He laughs a little. "Plus, Robert Pattinson is just hot, right?"

Brilliant - crushing the opponents of Park51

The argument presented here by Bob Cesca for Park51, the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque", is truly brilliant. It would win any international debate. Smashing!

But at Gettysburg, just south of the town and west of the Emmitsburg Road near the tree-line from which 12-15,000 Confederate soldiers emerged on the third day of battle to attack the United States army on Cemetery Ridge, stands a tall marble and bronze statue of General Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. It's not the only Confederate monument on the actual battlefield, but it's certainly the most striking and the most famous. At the peak of the obelisk is Lee mounted atop his horse, Traveler, staring out at the battlefield. Just below him are heroic bronze representations of random Virginia Confederates.

This general committed treason against the United States. By definition, he was a traitor who commanded a rebel army against the U.S. and inflicted unprecedented casualties. Specifically, General Lee's invasion of the north and advance into Gettysburg was responsible for the aforementioned 23,040 United States military casualties, and, of those 23,040 casualties, 3,155 were killed on that ground.

Yet there's a statue at Gettysburg honoring the fiercest enemy of the United States at that time. Had Lee been victorious, the United States as we know it today would not exist. But he gets a statue on Pennsylvania soil -- a statue which, by the way, stands at the exact same height as the statue to U.S. General George Gordon Meade, the commander of the Army of the Potomac (and a Pennsylvanian).

On a side note, the issue of the building of the mosque is a hyper-sensitive topic for Americans. Yet its being debated to death by all sides in public. I wish we Malaysians could do the same for the topics that we consider hyper-sensitive, such as religion, race and politics. Are our people so far behind the West that we can't trust ourselves to be mature and responsible in such debates?

The reason why England failed during WC2010

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I'm a football fan, no doubt about it. I watched nearly every game of the World Cup and i nearly shed tears when England, the team i've supported since i knew what football is, went out to Germany in South Africa. 

First the tears, which quickly turned to anger -- against all common sense, an English team full of big name superstars, most of whom had outstanding club seasons, played like a bunch of fools. The unreasonableness of it all just made my head boil. I needed some answers, why why why.

I read a whole lot of ink dedicated to dissecting England's failure. Were they too tired? Was Capello at fault? Did they lack spirit because they are all so wealthy they couldn't care less about the national team? So many theories, and all didn't seem just quite right to me. Only now have i found an article written by Martin Samuel that makes the most sense:

If there is laziness in the English game it is that some of the best players are not as interested in the intricacies of football, of how a match unfolds, as they should be and so are easily outwitted, as they were against Germany in Bloemfontein. They care mightily about winning, and will run all day for the cause, but are weak on learning and cannot recognise that success and contemplation are linked. 

Basically, English players of the England football team, are dumb. Intelligence wise, they are carried by their club mates during the regular season -- and not unlike a mighty stallion, they perform awesomely when they have a smart jockey on their backs. But on their own, the stallions perform just a bit better than My Little Ponies.

A football team doesn't need many brains. Just one will do to make a team great. A Paul Scholes. An Andres Iniesta. An Ozil. Even a Drogba. 

Perhaps England's next Best Hope will be this young lad. He looks like he has more than his fair share of grey matter sitting between his ears.

The Singularity

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One day, human beings will be able to create computers that can "think" the same way the human brain does. When this happens, the ability to "think" will lead to the creation of "awareness"; the line between man and machine will no longer be visible. The Singularity will have occurred.

Some futurist argue that this day isn't as far away as we think, Ray Kurzweil thinks it will happen by 2030.

It would be the first step toward creating machines that are more powerful than the human brain. These supercomputers could be networked into a cloud computing architecture to amplify their processing capabilities. Meanwhile, algorithms that power them could get more intelligent. Together these could create the ultimate machine that can help us handle the challenges of the future, says Kurzweil.

I'm not too comfortable with the notion that man will be able to create machines that are like man. But, thankfully, futurists still haven't come up with an explanation of how machines will develop awareness. They say it happens as a natural extension from raw computer power; once a machine can think as fast as the brain, then it will become "alive".

I'm not buying that, not at all. Being aware is not just about having a brain that can process thoughts at a certain speed. Its more than that. It must be.

For God

This appeared on Lim Kit Siang's blog recently. I agree with everything it said, especially this:

Legend has it that she was found one day running on the streets of Basra carrying a torch in one hand and a pail of water in the other. When asked what she was doing, she replied, "I want to put out the fires of Hell and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They block the way to God. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of God."

The purpose of all our actions are only for us (and God) to know. Politicians will say they are doing what they're doing for the love of their country, but maybe some do what they do for the love of re-election. The same goes with each and every Muslim and our motivations for doing the things that we do. 

Do we pray in the mosque because of our love of God, or because we want to be seen in public in prayer? Do we fast in this holy month of ramadhan because of our love of God or because we're afraid of the unholy stares from our peers if we don't?

30 Mosques

2 Muslims in America decide to go on a road trip, visiting 30 mosques in 30 states. Here is a log of their travels.

This particular entry is relevant to our times, its the so-called "Ground Zero" mosque in New York City.

You don't have a monopoly on suffering

I know its just an experiment. But it goes to show what can be achieved when you get the right message across, when you condition people believe that no one is the "victim". 

NICOSIA -- Gather 29 devout Jews, Muslims, Christians and radical secularists from 15 countries in the divided capital of a war-wounded island, in the heat of summer, miles in any direction from the nearest sea coast, and what do you get?

The answer, hard though it may be to believe, is something like a happy family. 
[...]
"There are only two rules," Mr. Seligman explained to the fellows at the first session, in an air-conditioned lecture hall at the University of Nicosia. "You have to attend every event, and you have to behave as if your group does not have a monopoly on suffering."

That's the lesson Muslims all over need to learn. Closer to home, that's a lesson the Malays need to embrace. 

Silence of the Lambs

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People like Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah have only one defense when their beliefs are backed into a corner: you don't belong here, leave Malaysia if you don't like it. That's what he said in response to a CPI article written by Helen Ang, "Enforcing NEP on minority religions".

I've faced the same response too often enough, sometimes from people close to me. It just goes to show that such a common sentiment appeals to the simple mind. Don't like it? Please leave.

The logic is easy to grasp and even easier to vocalize. It just rolls off the tongue so easily, and seems to defeat difficult arguments. It almost sounds like the bleat of a lamb, so common and so simple the sound. In fact, for ease of reference, lets just call people like Dr Mohd Ridhuan, Lambs.

The Lambs think that criticism against the country is a sign of un-patriotism. Or worse yet, in the case of attacks on Malay Muslim practice, heresy. The Lambs believe in a socialist ideal where the only people they want living together in peace in Malaysia are those who are all willing to conform to a standard belief of what's good for us. Any dissenters are not welcome to partake in this Utopia. Sounds very Maoist to me, and we all know what Mao did to China's intellectuals during the Great Cultural Revolution

People like Helen Ang have proven themselves capable of critical thought. She's taken an issue, examined the facts, and presented her argument in favour of her case. Instead of engaging her in discussion (Heaven forbid, she might have a valid point, who knows?), she becomes the subject of ad hominem attacks, and rudely invited to leave the country.

The worse thing for Malaysia is for her, and people like her (people capable of analyzing a problem and presenting a rational case), to take up the Lambs' offer and leave. Just like any one of the 3 million Malaysians or ex-Malaysians who make their living away from the Motherland. These are people who are able to compete at a global scale, world class human beings so to speak. Isn't it a shame that many prefer not to ply their trade in our shores? Can we blame them for choosing greener pastures, or do we blame Lamb's like Dr Mohd Ridhuan for driving them away by denying them the greens of our own garden and forcing them to make do with a diet of rocks and stones?

When a well-educated person reads what Helen Ang wrote, it probably makes sense to them, at an intellectual level: yes this is happening, yes it seems unfair, and yes the non-Muslim-non-Malay minority deserve to be heard and engaged. She isn't asking for a leg-up or more than what a functional democracy promises: she is simply asking for equality. Perhaps a compromise can be found. That's what a real person of education would think. A real person of education would, even if he doesn't agree with her, engage her in meaningful discussion, perhaps present his own facts to show that equality does exist and minority rights are being protected.

But of course, there are very few real people here. Just a lot of Lambs.

Jackie Evancho

Unbelievable. A 10-year old can sing like this. Jackie Evancho. It blew me away. Quite a bit of background info can be found on The Expressionist.




Or you can listen to it by via the widget below. Just click to start.



The New York City Mosque

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I first wrote about this a few days ago, saying that building a mosque a stone's throw away from Ground Zero is insensitive and probably counter-productive to the idea of positive interfaith-relations.

But, reading the Mayor of New York's position on it, and, more important, reading the views of New Yorkers who are passionate for and against the issue, i'm no longer so sure in my position.

Anything worth doing is usually not easily done. If we use that as a yardstick, then something this hard is absolutely, exactly what the city of New York needs.

And for years he [Mayor Bloomberg] has, with a mix of care and impatience, been encouraging New Yorkers, including the families of 9/11 victims, to emotionally move beyond the tragedy of nine years ago.

There comes a time when you need to move on, to discharge the ghosts of the past, to put your faith in the right that can only come from a future free from the hangover of yesterday.

One of the things that make America great is its Constitution, in particular its protection of civil liberties, including the freedom of religion and speech.

"We do not honor their lives by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending those rights -- and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked."

That's what he had to say about the brave firemen and police who rushed into the World Trade Center that day to save all the people they could.

Mayor Bloomberg should be applauded. On Sept 11 nine years ago, terrorists killed thousands of innocents in the most deadly attack ever on American soil. What he is doing today is ensuring that those attacks don't kill something more important -- a core principle of the American psyche.

David Beckham - legendary

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It took an article in the NY Times to make me understand my feelings for David Beckham. Ironic that it had to come from a land where they don't even call football by its proper name. 

Beckham is 35 years old now, almost ancient in footballing terms. But he still has that drive to play. He played himself into the ground last year, playing all year around with LA Galaxy then with AC Milan to prove his fitness to an England team, to get a spot on the plane to South Africa, to represent his nation one more time at a World Cup. When he ruptured is Achilles right at the end, thus ending his dream of a final World Cup, he broke into genuine tears of sorrow and disappointment. As someone who knows a little something about trying so hard only to fall at the final moment, i feel for him.

There is something almost reverent about a person who dedicates his life to his work, his passion. At some point, it has to be more than just the money that pushes him along; he has more than he'll ever be able to spend in a lifetime. No, he plays now, because he wants to, not because he has to.

He joins a very small, very elite club of people. Ones who have reached the pinnacle of their profession out of their love for what they were doing and do everything they can to stay there even when it would be much more convenient to just step aside. Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? Warren Buffet? Beckham is in your company, gentleman.

Amazingribs.com

Just found this amazing website about meat!

I'm a real meat lover. Nothing i like better than a thick steak and a hot potato. 

Seems like i've been missing out on all the finer details of how to treat myself and my meat right.

God's Number is 20

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My dad got me a Rubik's cube when i was a little boy, perhaps 6 or 7 years old. He told me that if i could solve it, he would give me $5. Then he randomized it a bit, tossed it to me, and let me get cracking. 

To this day, 27 years later, i've still never ever completely solved a Rubik's cube. Never. 

Then i find this website telling me that mathematically, regardless of how the cube is initially randomized, there are ALWAYS 20 moves that can be made to get it back to solved. I'm still trying to get my head around how that's possible. 20 twists of the cube will solve ANY randomized cube? Really?

Then there is an iPhone app that shows you exactly how to solve a cube in 20 moves or less. 

Gosh. I'm feeling really stupid now.



Google Chrome

Just downloaded Google Chrome. IE7 is such a dinosaur.

After taking it for a short spin, it seems really nice. Super clean interface, seems to load pages much faster (could this be an optical illusion? these guys don't think so).

In short? I like it. Shorter still? Sexy.

iPhone 4 - what Antennagate?

 

iphone4.jpgSteve Jobs at his brilliant best. Disarming a roomful of journalists who, like sharks surrounding a wounded beast, thought that the iPhone "antennagate" was their best chance to get Jobs to cry "uncle".

Boy, were they wrong.

More mosques in America

Seems that the troubles in New York are happening all over America too.

Many Americans do not trust Islam, and think of the religion in very negative ways. They aren't ignorant Americans either -- they are able to quote the Quran and point out (selectively and almost always taken out of context) specific verses that apparently promote violence.

Its interesting to note that some of Islam's staunchest allies in America are the interfaith groups led by Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, rabbis and clergy members. Does it take a person of faith to understand another person of faith?

Its a particularly dicey situation in America where civil and personal liberties guarantee freedom of religion (and the right of those in opposition to freely oppose Islam). We're lucky here in Malaysia, we have a Government that love us and protect us from all this absurdity.

Which side of the bullet are you on?

I'm not saying any of this is a good thing, btw. Its just an observation.

9/11 - a couple of Muslims fly a few big-assed planes into the NYC World Trade Center. It blows up. A few thousand Americans are killed.

Since 2003, Americans have killed civilians in Afghanistan as it futilely chases the ghost that is the Taliban (dejavu Vietnam?). Collateral damage, says the USA. It happens.

People kill people. Whether you're the terrorist or the hero, the only difference is which side of the bullet you're on.

Perhaps there is no altruistic greater good. Its just war.

Dating site for virgins

This is way cool. A virgins-only dating site!

But you just gotta wonder, how do you test someone's virginity online?

Seems like just another website for a sexual predator to find his prey; you put all the innocent bambis into the same barrel and hand it over to the slurping wolf. He doesn't even need to leave his keyboard.

Building a mosque isn't always a good idea

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Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam of Masjid Al-Farah of New York, and a proponent of positive ties between the West and Islam, wants to open a new mosque in New York.

New York is a big place, with 30 mosques currently serving the Muslim community there. The learned imam is hoping to open mosque #31 next to Ground Zero.

The exact spot where a few Muslims murdered thousands of Americans. Not just on the exact spot, but on the marking of the attack's 10th anniversary.

How would the Muslim community react if a Serbian Orthodox church opened its doors near the killing fields of Srebrenica where 10,000 Muslims were slaughtered?

Exactly.

Glaciers -- God's Fingerpaintings

If God ever takes some time off to doodle, He would do it shaping Earth's glaciers. The results, looking at them as images from space, are breathtaking.

glaciers.jpg

 

Who is Salt?

 

salt.jpgI've always been a sucker for a good action movie. Can't remember the last time i've really seen one... wait for it... worth its "salt". While the reviewers can't seem to agree whether its a "good" or "bad" movie, all i really want to be is entertained. A busty babe blowing things up and jingling all over seems to fit the bill perfectly.

An opera house





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This page is an archive of entries from August 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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