Saturday, October 10, 2009

Empty Peace

I was traveling on a bus, on my way home. The bus was broadcasting ChannelNews Asia, and that was when I first learnt that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I scratched my head and searched my mind what President Obama has done over the last 3-5 years that earned him this prize. Frankly, I couldn't think of any. He is a good orator, ran a good Presidential campaign that eventually wrested the White House back into the Democratic Party's hands. He dared to dream and has achieved the highest office in the land, nay, the world.

But what has he done in the cause of peace? Yes, he has turned back many of "less than acceptable" policy approaches of the Bush administration, but that isn't the same as having achieved a lasting peace in some part of the world. Is the world any safer today than it was 2 years ago? Nothing much really has changed. There is still no peace in the Middle East. Iran is still Iran, despite indication of Iran's concession to have its secret nuclear facility inspected. It is not as if Obama initiated the spying and dug up this shaddy happening in Iran's city of Qom. North Korea is still a problem. If not for China's Wen Jiabao, N Korea will still have indicated that it is willing to resume the 6-party talks, with a caveat that required a US concession. The US has still not spoken. Obama is still sending American troops to Afghanistan, and probably backing up Pakistan in its war against the Taliban in its backyard.

So I am still scratching my head thinking of reasons why Obama won the prize.

Or is the Prize is meant to get Obama to come good on the promises that he has made so far? If so, that will be an onerous task. What if he didn't realise his goals and make a difference to world peace, like for example, getting Israel and its neighbours to sign a peace treaty. That was what got Mr Anwar Sadat and Mr Menachem Begin their Nobel Peace prizes. Will the Swedish Academy take back the prize if Obama failed, despite his best efforts?

I think it would probably be prudent for Obama to reject this accolade at this time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Legitimizing a regime

What use is there for a recount of the ballots in Iran's just concluded Presidential Election? Will it make a difference when another 10% of the vote is given to the challenger? You don't think those in charge of the recount will allow more than that, right? Mr Ahmadinejad will still 'win'. He will still continue as President, and with even greater legitimacy.

When that happens, the US, Britain, France, and anyone else who cares can't say a thing about fraud at the ballot box. After all, a recount was done according to the wishes of the people, right? Nothing short of divine intervention will do to bring justice to the land.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Government Gun and Gone

It is 3 months since my last entry here. And surprisingly, nothing has changed in Thailand. It is still a mess. After tolerating the Red Shirts for some time now, PM Abhisit's government is cracking the whip. I am almost sorry for PM Abhisit because I think the decision to send out the troops wasn't his, but that he was forced to do so, probably by some others who are effectively pulling the strings.

I agree with the Red Shirts. PM Abhisit's government has never been a legitimate one. It was helped into into power precisely by parties that were behaving like the Red Shirts now. Only, that party committed a crime for which they have not been charged. Thus the Thai government under PM Abhisit has lost all moral authority to govern. It still does not have the legal authority to do so. It can only govern through the barrel of a gun.

PM Abhisit's government is finished.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thai Mess

One can't really fault the present Thai government led by its PM Abhisit Vejjajiva. PM Abhisit is reportely clean and has the support of the throne. He is the leader of the Democrat Party, which before, was the duly elected opposition party, and before Thaksin, formed the Thai government. But that's all there is going for it. The downside is that Abhisit keeps appointing questionable people to his government.

People like Kasit Priromya, who openly supported the PAD's blockade of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang Airports in Bangkok. Now, Prapanth Koonmee, who is a member of the protest group in PAD, has been appointed as advisor to the government. All these makes it look as if the PAD's blockade of its International Airport was all but a picnic. No laws were broken, no lives lost. Except that last point is not true. Some people, in a effort to get out of Bangkok, took an overland route. As a result, at least one man died on the road.

To date, I haven't heard that anyone has been prosecuted for the blockade, which cost Thailand an estimated 500 million baht. Certainly not peanuts by any measure. Perhaps the Thai Royal family has volunteered to bear this cost, I don't know. But like I said, that airport blockade is now being treated no more than a wild party. Its organisers, co-organisers and supporters are now being rewarded by the government.

What type of government rules Thailand today?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Glass and stones don't mix

The lesson of Gaza 2009:

Those who live in glass houses should learn not to throw stones.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A lesson from History

It is said that World War II ended the Great Depression of 1929. This was because of the massive deficit financing that had to go into producing things for the war effort - planes, tanks, ships, etc, etc. in 2 theatres of war - one in Europe and the other one in the Pacific. How much did the US public spend? The consensus seems to be $5 trillion (in 2007 dollar terms, after adjusting for inflation). So when Henry Paulson and Ben Benanke asked for $700 billion from the American people to rescue the world from the next Great Depression, it pales in comparison. America lost more than just money in WWII. It lost many lives and made many widows. 

Yet some are not convinced that this is a fair solution. What it meant was that greedy wheelers and dealers - the investment banks and the people that ran them, were going to be let off. God knows how much cash they have already stashed away. If we want to make the comparison, these dealers are the equivalent of the German Nazis and the Japanese banzai troops that wreaked so much pain and destruction on the world more than 50 years ago. And the rest of us - well, we will have to manage as best we can. Our houses lie in tatters, no certainty in our jobs for tomorrow, our life savings gone - just like that. 

Yet it is an inevitable solution, fair or not. We just comfort ourselves by saying that the world recovered from its economic malaise once, and the world will recover from this financial malaise again. The only thing is - we must catch and punish the perpetrators of these fraudulent investments products, bring them to justice, as much as the Nazis and Japanese Class X criminals were tried and disposed of.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


China has messed up big time this time around. In the euphoria of the Olympics, which it hosted twice in the space of two months (the Olympics and Paralympics), it was widely praised by the international community for putting on a great show - certainly the best the world has seen so far. The world Press were almost unanimous in praising China for a job well done. The Chinese are unreservedly proud of their country, as this success went a long way towards erasing the disappointments of the Chinese since 1908, during the last years of the Qing Dynasty, of hosting the games and also erasing the epithet of the "sick man of Asia".

Yet in a matter of days, this achievement now hangs under a cloud with the milk-tainting scandal. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that this was only revealed to the world only now when the problem was known as far back as March this year, with the whistle going off in early August. That the Chinese Government kept quiet till after the Olympics surely lays a charge of recklessness at the very doors of Tian An Men. The Chinese government is doing damage control now with the help of Minister Wen Jiaboa - or Wen yeye, as he is fondly referred to. But that is little use now. So far 4 precious infant lives have been lost - in China and Hongkong, with an incredible 53,000 others at risk in China alone, whose only fault is drinking the melamine-tainted infant milk. Worse, the problem may not be limited to China, but to any country that has been consuming milk and milk products originating in China.

Clearly this incident, and others before it (fake milk scandal of 2004) has demonstrated that the 5,000 year old civilisation has lost its sense of morals and ethics - totally. For the love of money, manufacturers have seen fit to introduce foreign elements (read 'poison') into perfectly good food so as to sell more of their products, thereby reaping more money. Harming people does not seem to have figured in any considerations of their actions. A month ago, I was a proud Chinese. Today, I am ashamed that I am a Chinese.

This time, as 100 years ago, the Chinese well deserves the epithet: The Sick Man of Asia in more ways than one. It is a shame that nothing has changed in 100 years. The only thing is this time around, it is the Chinese's own doing. Sadly, effort to shake off the world's bullying attitude towards China has come to nought.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

S-weeping time

The generals in Myanmar have the gall to ask the international community for aid in the cyclone disaster that has hit Myanmar. When it came to human rights, it is none of the international community's business. When it comes to human suffering, it is the international community's obligation. So far, the cyclone Nargis has claimed more than 10,000 lives - truly a disaster on the scale of the Asian Tsunami back in 2004.

The international community must help Myanmar, but it must not help the generals stay in power one day longer than necessary. These bunch of crooks have deprived the people the option of defending themselves. They reportedly did not do anything when they were warned of the impending cyclone two days before it moved into Myanmar. If you ask me, these generals are guilty of negligence of the highest order and should be court-martialed. The only problem is that the judges in the court-martial will be their own, so it will become a kangeroo court.

Even amidst the suffering and the aid that must be rushed to Myanmar, it is time that the incumbent military government be overthrown. Can this be the cyclone that also sweeps the government into the Bay of Bengal? One hopes so.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Down the torch

First the Tibetans reportedly destroyed Chinese property, albeit in their own land. Of course China had to respond to this lawless behaviour by sending in the police and the army to restore order and round up the trouble-makers. But world sympathy was with the Tibetans because the Chinese were seen as foreign occupiers and therefore had no business in Tibet. In fact, the Tibetans even have a government in exile in India, allegedly led by the Dalai Lama, who has been feted wherever he has gone, except in China and countries allied to China. So it is no surprise that Tibetans and their sympathizers are making use of the Olympic Torch Relay to demonstrate their opposition to Chinese occupation of their land.

Nobody can deny these demonstrations in a free society, not in London, not in Paris, not even in San Francisco. But I draw the line when these people attempt to seize the torch and extinguish it. Whatever the symbolism of the torch relay, or how it started or who started it and for what purpose, it has become a part of the Olympic games. In fact, the torch relay has been copied by many regional games. As such, a disruption of the relay is a disruption to the games - a direct provocation and challenge to the organisers of the Beijing Olympics and its worldwide participants and supporters. I daresay that, if ask, many in this group of people would agree with the Tibetans that their homeland should be free of occupation. But I also believe that they are opposed to any disruption of the games. So while the demonstrators have scored minor victories, such as extinguishing the torch in Paris, not once but 3 times, they may have lost the support of many. They have certainly lost mine.

It would have been enough to demonstrate along the torch relay route. Make noise if they want to. Tape up their mouths if they choose to. Show their placards to put across their message.  The world's press would report these to the world and the point would have been made. But by physically disrupting the relay and engaging in physical violence, now that is something that cannot be condoned, whatever one's grievance. There is talk that the entire torch relay be scrapped. If so, that may be a victory for Tibet, but sadly, they may have won the battle but would likely have lost the war. 

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Truth or dare

One should never respond to a criticism by proving the point of the criticism. Yet this is the very thing that some party/parties did when they threatened harm to the staff of 'of a serious nature'., if you don't already know it, was where Geert Wilders, the Member of the Dutch Parliament had his 15-minute 'Fitna' video shown originally. In Fitna, Mr Wilders attempted to show the worst side of radical Islam, quoting from the Koran, showing scenes of the Prophet Mohammad cartoon that angered so many Muslims around the world, and recounting terrorist acts from 911 to the Madrid train bombings to many reports of violence and hate speeches made by radical Islamic clerics and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against Christians, Jews, the US and probably everyone else except themselves. has since pulled the video from their website, but not before it was copied and can now be found freely available in several privately hosted website as well as The video has even been translated to English from the original Dutch (which made sense as much of the major events that are shown in the video happened in English-speaking countries). What struck me as I watched the video was how much of the material were assembled from real events and newspaper reports. In other words, it is not fiction at all. Perhaps some may take issue with the Koranic verses quoted, that perhaps they were quoted out of context to bring out the worst interpretation possible to the texts. As I am not familiar with the Koran, I cannot decide one way or the other. But enough people have formed an opinion for them to leave messages on the internet in support of Wilder's message in Fitna.

Of course, this is not the politically correct view and national governments, including the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki Moon, have condemned the message of the video as spreading hatred. Why should hatred be countered with hatred? Should we kill to avenge another killing? I cannot say so one way or another. But in the interest of balance and allowing people to decide for themselves, the video should be made available. Hiding it would only perpetuate the suspicion that parties on both sides have for each other. Truly, the Islamic radicals have done themselves a dis-service - or are they admitting to what is shown in Fitna?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sans Bus

I take my hat off to Mdm Chow Mei-ching, aka Mrs Ma Ying-jeou. She is a legal advisor at a bank (that means she is a trained lawyer), and get this, she takes a bus to work! I think we should all take a leaf out of her! And she still took the bus to work AFTER her husband won the Taiwan Presidential elections! Amazing lady, I'd say. How refreshing to know that she is not affected nor puffed up by power and prestige. Come May this year, she will be the First Lady, and she intends to keep on working, with the support of her President-husband and many in Taiwan. Unfortunately she has had to forego her habit of taking public transport because of the paparazzi, who are following her on the bus, and causing everybody much inconvenience.

They say power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a good start for a cleaner Taiwan. I hope that the first couple-designates will continue to live a humble life and set an example for the people.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Phishy Fishing

A story just broke that the makers of the G-Archiver software are unethical, and in my view, represents all that is wrong about the misuse of technology. According to this story, reported in website, and picked up by Zdnet, using the G-Archiver software, which purportedly backs up Gmail e-mail onto one's computers, one's Gmail account and password are silently sent to the Gmail e-mail account of one John Terry (  John has been identified as the rogue programmer employed by G-Archiver. It has has reacted to this news by pulling the code from its website and replacing it with a new one - sans the rogue codes. This is all well and good, but who would want to trust G-Archiver anymore when its control process is so lax as to allow rogue codes to be inserted into its commercial products. If it can happen once, it can happen again. Probably the safest thing to do is to stay away from this software and its makers.

This is shocking and it shows once again that you can't trust anyone on the Internet. The horrifying thing is that many of us spend so much of our waking hours on the Internet. Its like going swimming in a pool of crud, and before we know it, a thousand and one germs and viruses are sticking to us, some of which we ingest willingly. The lesson to learn is not to stop swimming, but to take protective gear along with you. Some of these protective gear will cost money, like firewalls and anti-virus software, but they are essential if you spend a lot of time on the Internet. But probably the most important protective gear you should put on is a healthy doze of skepticism and paranoia (remember - "only the paranoid survive" - Andrew Grove) - and this comes free. Its up to you. Don't just sign up for anything and everything that is offered to you free of charge on the Internet. And if your curiosity gets the better of you and you just can't help signing up, use a temporary throwaway e-mail account instead of your regular e-mail. Where can you find these throwaway e-mails. Try these: 10 Minute MailMailinator, Disposable e-mail, etc. Whichever of these or any other service you sign up for, make sure you don't have to give your regular e-mail during the signup process, unless you are very sure of the service you are signing up for.

Hopefully, we can continue to surf without catching all those germs and viruses and those rougue programmers.

Image source:  Author: Clara Natoli

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hungry for cash?

Well, how hungry are you? Or greedy? Or delusional? For a moment of delusion, I almost fell into a trap. There is this organisation operating on the web going around offering to put paid advertisements on your website. How does it all start?

They first send you e-mail that reads:
We have reviewed your blog on behalf of one of our
clients that would be interested in placing advertising with you.

Client profile :

DoingFine (
New project (<1 month old)
Theme A forum dedicated to those things that came out right and worked out fine.

What it doesn't say is which blog it is referring to. You see, I've got several blogs under Blogger, each with varying frequency of updates and visitation activity.

Next, the client website, site, is really nothing but a couple of forums. It is not selling anything, publishing anything substantial. Why would it be interested in driving traffic to it?

The e-mail goes on to say:
This would be a weekly, monthly or yearly arrangement. In either case
we will require a one time, one day (24 hours) free placement in order
to test the quality and quantity of traffic your website can actually
provide*. Within this interval, we will make a final determination,
based on the traffic volume, quality, and your asking price. Should
we find your terms acceptable, this trial day will count towards the
agreed interval.

Kindly let us know if you would be interested, which arrangement best
suits your editorial needs, and what rates you would like to charge.
We prefer using PayPal but may be able to accomodate alternative
payment methods.

Fair enough. I wouldn't expect anyone to hand over cash when they haven't got the goods. But how much to ask for? Nevermind if this all look suspicious. Money talks. I googled for the answer. Varying amounts were suggested. But the most sensible advice was to ask for an offer. I did that. The very next day (these guys work fast!), I received further communications to this effect:

We've created a button for you, please review it here :

(some URL ending with a gif link that contains string of unintelligible characters)

We feel it goes well with the general look and feel of your blog. Please
link it to

(again, a url link to a php program code)

This begins to look like a scam, but I ignored it. I clicked on the url, but it wasn't meaning. They also provide html code to put on my website/blog. I did that but upon publishing the html codes were stripped out, so the html code couldn't display any icon link. I got suspicious - finally - and did the smart thing - I google 'Polimedia Advertising' and '' and found out that this is likely a scam of sorts.

Now what made me think that my blog was any good anyway for anybody to pay a single cent towards it? Only Google has pennies to throw my way. Sigh....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

People abuse Power

I just cannot understand the Philippines. It seems that every year when it comes time to celebrate the occasion when the citizens toppled Ferdinand Marcos from power - the so-called 'People Power' Revolution - they look to topple every sitting leader ever since, except for General Ramos. This time, they gathered to call for the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo for alleged corruption. Well, I don't know if the corruption charges have any basis, but that is for a Court of Law to decide, is it not? You know, lawyers, public prosecutors, defence lawyers, plaintives, defendants, judges, due process, the Justice department, etc.? If is there nothing of the sort in this country, or is the justice system cowered into inaction by 'People Power'?

This rule of the mob is really unbecoming of a duly constituted democracy with a law and constitution. Worst - former leaders such as Corazon Acquino are active participants in this madness. Fortunately, this time around, the military and the Catholic Church very sensibly stayed away from these agitations.

I suppose there are festering social inequity in this country that has not been adequately addressed. But this is so in many other countries, is it not? Corruption? Malaysia and Indonesia are reportedly rife with it. Yet these countries do not demonstrate as regularly on a specific occasion and call it 'People Power'. Impeaching a sitting President is no small matter. It basically means that you are trying to revoke the collective will of the people that elected the President in the first place. Has 'People Power' no respect for the people? You can only impeach the President when you have proved beyond a shadow of doubt his/her alleged guilt. This has not been done at all. It is now basically based on hearsay and bald accusations, however strong that may be. Justice is being turned on its head. Guilty unless proven otherwise. What kind of country is this, anyway?

Come on, dear Filipinos, respect the rule of law even as you demand 'justice'.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memoriam

September 11, or 911, has been etched into the psyche of many since that day when two Boeing 747 jets full of passengers deliberately crashed into each of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. I rose up that morning to prepare to go to work. As was my custom then, I switched on CNN and let it run while I busied myself getting ready, but there was nothing more busy then than what was appearing on my TV screen that morning.

Over and over, the news replayed the scenes where 2 planes, one after another, drove straight into the World Trade Center buildings, causing them to eventually collapse like a deck of cards, carrying everyone in the buildings with them, including the firemen who had entered the building earlier to rescue people from the towering infernos . My mother, who lived with me then, also witness the scenes, but she seemed nonchalant, as if these things happen all the time. You can't blame her. In her time, she has lived through the Second World War and seen more destruction and brutality and on a much wider scale and intensity than what was showing on TV that day.

Nevertheless, this latest drama was incredulous, it was terrible, it was shocking, and the enormity of the tragedy was yet unfolding though the actual incident had taken place 6 hours earlier half way across the world from where I lived. At work that day, I heard the first people mouthing '911' as if there was no other way to refer to the horror of the incident except through a coded reference. The Chinese media used the same numbers (jiu yao yao) to refer to the incident. I imagine that every other language on earth, including Arabic, used those same numbers.

On this day, 11th September, 2007, six years to the day that that tragedy occurred, we remember the over 3000 innocent people who died in the Towers, we remember the heroism of the firemen who died in the line of duty and we remember the reporters weeping while they reported on the incident near ground zero - it was heart-wrenching to watch these same reporters overcome with grief and yet having to bring the news of the terrible tragedy to the rest of the shocked world.

Of the men and organisations that perpetrated this atrocity, we remember them as we remember people like Hitler, nay, infinitely worst than Hitler. It would not be far from the truth if we remember them as we think of what Satan looked like. Ironically, their action was done in the name of their Islamic God. People of the west in the last 20 years or so had begun to be enamoured of the Islamic religion. Droves were abandoning their age-old religions and converting over to it. After 911, it was timeout and re-evaluation. I would like to think that this has nothing to do with Islam, but somehow, over the last six years, the association has stuck because the terrorists keep on invoking the name of their Islamic God while the moderates among them stand by quietly as if in acquiecense.

6 years on, these Islamic terrorists are still alive and bombing. 6 years on, the moderate and the faithful among the mighty Islamic faith have done little to effectively dent the extreme elements among them. 6 years on, we still have to take off our shoes in some airports, not because we need to walk on holy ground, but to show that we are not terrorists. 6 years on, countries still put up a security wall rivaling the Great Wall of China whenever any event involving 'Westerners' are staged. 6 years on, cities from London to Madrid to Islamabad still suffer aftershocks of 911.

We would like the 3000 odd people to rest in peace, but, sadly, the world continues its war on terror.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Power and Immunity

It has been reported that Hyundai Motor's Chairman, Mr Chung Mong-Koo, will not be doing jail time even though he was convicted by the 3-judge Seoul High Court for embezzlement because he was deemed too important to the Korean economy. Apparently, Mr Chung is a very hands-on CEO at Hyundai Motor, reputedly the world's 6th largest, in more ways than one (wink-wink). The court reckoned his doing time in jail (he was sentenced to 3 years) would do more harm to the economy and that therefore, he shouldn't be kept in the slammer.

I have never heard a more ridiculous argument from the bench. The less-than-learned judge said, "I am also a citizen of the Republic of Korea...I was unwilling to engage in a gamble that would put the (nation's economy) at risk." Did Judge Lee Jae-hong just deify Mr Chung? In the days when Korea had emperors, this statement, if it referred to the emperor, would have been accepted without question. But in democratic Korea where even its Presidents have been sued and thrown out ever so often?

There is a lesson to be learnt here. If you want to succeed in life and gain immunity from the law, don't do politics. Instead, set up a business and gain influence as much as possible. As far as South Korea goes, that's your ticket to doing whatever you want. The law will always stand on your side, never mind if you are crooked and rotten to the core.

The law in South Korea has sunk to a new low.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Great Al Qaeda Bluff

It would appear that Osama bin Laden is either too dead or too tired to make a new video. Al Qaeda just pushed out a Osama video to remind the whole that the dead and tired old man is still very much alive. If he were alive, he would have made a new video. In this day and age, it isn't difficult nor expensive to make a video at all, unless the subject of the video wants to pretend he is alive on video when he is actually dead. Now that's a miracle that Osama has yet to perform.

Al Qaeda should stop doing this because its credibility - i.e. its inability - in making a video of a really live and kicking Osama is rapidly receding. While the US and probably Britain take these videos seriously, for the rest of the whole, it is one old tired bluff.

Bug off, Al Qaeda.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Truth be told

Japan's just-resigned Defence Minister may have committed a gaffe in Japan, but in the rest of Asia, we cannot agree more with him. He said that the US could not be blamed for dropping the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki towards the end of World War II.

Whatever the Japanese's feelings about the massive destruction and deaths on and in these two cities, there was greater grief and suffering by the people in rest of Asia in those war years. My parents lost the best years of their lives running away from the Japan Imperial Army and living in the countryside planting and eating tapioca. What Mr Kyuma said may or may not be correct. But he is not far from the truth that the war in the Far East and the Pacific would have gone on for much longer had it not been for the fortuitous dropping of those bombs on the two cities. Correspondingly, my parents would have had to endure much longer the oppression of the Japanese regime in this part of the world. The bombs immediately deflated the arrogance and ruthlessness of the Japanese war regime then and inadvertently led to Japan instituting and maintaining a pacifist stance ever since.

Were it not for this pacifist stance and the strong but benign support of the US after the war, Japan would not have recovered so fast and become so successful in leading the industrial world today.

The US celebrates its Independence Day today. Let Asia, including Japan, be reminded once again of VJ day and the probable role that the two bombs that the US unleashed had in it.

Mr Kyuma, thank you for reminding the world about the truth.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Legend of the undead

No, I am not referring to vampires. But it does seem like Osama bin Laden is becoming an undead species - though perhaps not a vampire.

More than 5 years have passed since the world saw credible pictures/videos of him alive. Since then, all claims of his still being alive have been backed by Al Qaeda who claim that they have had communications with him. These 'evidence' have turned out to be fiction at best, deception at worst. Now, a chief of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban militia, Mr Mansoor Dadullahsaid, has said that he received a letter of condolence from OBL over his brother, Mullah Dadullah's martyrdoom at the hands of US-led forces recently.

One thing Al Qaeda seem to be doing well is to perpetuate the myth that OBL is still alive. Given his penchant for showmanship (while he was alive), OBL seems to be uncharacteristically quiet for more than 5 years now. He can't speak for himself anymore - he appears in worn videos and he sends greeting cards and furtive messages from time to time. But he doesn't appear in person.

Conclusion: OBL is as dead as the stone in the mountains of Afghanistan. His memory, though, still lives strongly, continuing to bring a threat over mankind.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oppression of the law

This is a sad day for justice. First, we learn that the highest Civil Court in Thailand today - the 9-member Constitutional Tribunal - has ruled that the political party set up by Thaksin Shinawatra - Thai Rak Thai (TRT) - has violated election laws and henceforth will be de-registered. On the other hand, Thailand's oldest political party, the Democrat Party has been absolved of any wrong doing although it was implicated in a case for which the TRT was found guilty.

Go figure.

Second, Malaysia's highest Civilian Court just ruled that they do not have jurisdiction over the case of a Christian convert (from Islam), one Lina Joy, who petitioned the same court to have the religion recorded on her Indentity Card to be amended to Christian from its current Islam. Why is this important? Well, if the record on her IC is not changed, she cannot marry a non-Muslim. She is in effect bound never to be married, and never be able to bear a child, so long as she remains under the jurisdiction of the Malaysian Courts, where the Shariah reigns supreme. The land's highest Civil Court has just abdicated its responsibility to uphold justice and freedom for all Malaysians, whether Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikhs, etc. by refusing to be drawn into any matter that has anything to do with the state religion, Islam. It is basically saying that it is incompetent of dealing with any matters that involves Islam, even when that matter involves people who are not Muslims.

Malaysian Muslims and Thailand's current political masters may feel vindicated, but they have merely made use of the highest Court in the land to rubber-stamp their oppressive behaviour. Truly, there is no justice, but only power. Power to oppress, power to sway, power to corrupt, power to silence, This is because the law has abdicated its responsibility to right wrongs.

This is a sad day in Thailand and Malaysia. The Law should hang its head in shame.

Straits Times - Thai Security Clampdown
France 24 - Thaksin's party to be disbanded

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Letters that spell
Taken ahead of time
In their prime
Promises lost
Never to be realized
Questions unanswered
Pain excruciating
Anger unbridled
Will Madness never cease
In this mad mad mad world?
It won't be the last
Though the grief
and the loss
will last
an eternity

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Expletive as language

ShitThe other day, a student used the 'shit' word on stage in front of over 200 parents and teachers. She didn't mean to offend anymore, nor was she berating at anyone. She was relating a conversation that she had had with her friends who were studying in another school. It was a paraphrase of this conversation and the 'shit' word seem to come out naturally. I don't know what the parents thought as this came out of the mouth of one of the school's top students. The teachers must have squirmed in their seats, feeling uncomfortable, not knowing what the parents thought of the way that they nurtured their best students. President George W Bush, a fervent Christian, was himself caught uttering this word unwares when referring to the conflict in the Middle East some months ago.

The 'shit' word is becoming rather common, much as the f**k word has in movies. But in movies, and elsewhere, the f**k word remains an expletive whereas the 'shit' word is increasingly used as a word to express emphasis, sometimes frustration and often almost as a sort of exclamation that the word 'damn' is used. This is not my opinion only. Wynrub wrote a book analysing expletives and the way and purpose expletives are used in society today. She concluded that some expletives are no longer used in the derogatory / foul connotation, but more to express valid emotions in conversations. Going by this recent experience of mine, I cannot agree more with her. Language evolves over time. This has been true from time inmemorial. So therefore, language standards shift, albeit inperceptibly. The next wave of change will surely come from the almost universal use of SMS language. In this case, the change might take on a leap instead of a quiet shift. Therefore those who still clinge on to a standard will be fighting a losing battle.

In any case, a person can speak and use the language's 'standard', but will switch to a more informal version in informal settings. The fact that a person speaks a non-standard form does not necessarily mean that he/she doesn't know the standard form and use it in an appropriate setting. One of the most unnatural and difficult things about carrying on in a standardised language is the frustration of getting your ideas across in quicker. So it is natural and necessary to revert to a local form. That way, people tend to identify with you more easily because they speak the same dialect as you, including using newly non-expletives expletives.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Toothless Nark Puggsin

I pity Thailand nowadays. Its military leaders do not seem to be able to get anything right. I do not doubt their sincerity in getting Thailand back on track, economically and socially. Only, there are 'professional protesters' standing by, ready to stage protests once an unpopular decision is made, like that of the appointment of Mr Somkid, once the No. 2 in the Thaksin government, to a senior government position.

The threat of protest forced the government and Mr Somkid to back down. Now I wonder why these protesters (read: PAD) are not the government instead? They seem to wield veto power over government decisions. But of course we know that there are talkers and there are doers. Unfortunately, in Thailand today, the talkers hold sway. And so long as this is so, the government, military or otherwise, cannot expect to do much. The No. 1 task is to keep these people's mouth shut. In fact, if not for these protesters, Thailand wouldn't be in the state it is in today. OK, so the Thaksin government is seen to be corrupt, but the situation hadn't degenerated to one of dictatorship. The constitutional process of government change through elections should have been taken instead of mass protests. You say that Thaksin's control is so strong that it is impossible to unseat him through the polls? But is a military coup an appropriate answer? I doubt many will say it is. Mass protests only presents half the answer, it is silent on the other half when the doing needs to be done.

My only regret over the entire episode is that I cannot visit Thailand nowadays without thinking twice. Vietnam looks to be a more attractive destination, business and holiday-wise. Heck, even Burma seem more peaceful.

Image source:

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I was very frustrated yesterday morning when I tried to go to my normal 'haunts' on the net for my shot of caffeine. just wasn't responding and I thought my 5-year-old Notebook PC was ready to give up the ghost. I thought I'd jog its heart a bit by shutting down the bugger and restarting it. You see, I am used to sending it into hibernation from day to day, because it takes sooo long to startup otherwise. The age is showing. Nope, it didn't work. I tried, almost always reliable and quick. But this time around, it was more dead than alive. Something must really be wrong. Maybe my Internet Service provider screwed up this time, although it has been very reliable so far.

It was the same on my office computer, which boasts more muscle and a thicker pipe. Yahoo just took ages to get to, although I did get to it - eventually. Only it was sooo slow, and my Yahoo Messenger just didn't want to wake up. But almost every other site was jammed - including Well, when the darn thing won't work, it won't work. The office eventually informed everyone that the internet access was down and very likely due to something on a national scale. I didn't realise how 'national' it was until I got home yesterday evening and found out how the undersea fibre optic cable carrying the bulk of internet traffic in and around Asia was damaged by the 7.1 Richter scale earthquake off southern Taiwan.

Ah well, there was a silver lining in this. I started on and almost completed something that I had put off for ages yesterday. Yes, you guessed it, the internet wasn't necessary for it. How often our time is frittered away by our incessant surfing nowadays.

Today, I am back at broadband speeds again, as if nothing had happened. The good people must have diverted the internet traffic overnight and so we can get our daily shot of caffeine again.
There must be a lesson somewhere in all of this.