Thursday, May 15, 2008

My deepest condolences to May 13 victims

I did not expect to see the strong reactions from some people about my article What is this May 13 anyway. The purpose of the article was not to ignore the sufferings of May 13 victims and to erase the incidents from history – but to point out that the ultra right stance and continued racial instigations and propaganda have done much greater harm to the society than the incident itself.

May 13 is an incident that should not have happened, and I have great sympathy for the victims. Justice was never given in the first place, and 39 years of continued threat of it happening again was a continued relentless assault. No living soul should have to bear this agony.

Let’s recognize that we live in the same land and breathe the same air and we are as dependent on each other as Siamese twins. The Chinese as well as the Malays have contributed their fair share in the atrocities. This is not the time to find out who cast the first insult and which side has done more damage on the other. Let’s put this neighborhood war aside for now and hold each other hands to rebuild the trust that was damaged by decades of racial politics.

I sincerely hope that one day we will have an open forum where grievances can be voiced and acknowledged. For most, a listening ear, a supportive society, and assurance of justice and protection from harm would be sufficient to heal the wounds.

Lets this be a lesson for all that racial politics is not leading us anywhere.

I offer my deepest condolence to those who suffered in the event. I apologized for not making myself clear earlier.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What is this May 13 anyway?

The topic May 13 is almost a taboo; it is a subject that stirs up different level of discomfort in most people. But how many people really know what it is, how many of us actually lived through the horror of it?

It happened when I was 9 years old, and my only memory of it was a few blissful days of no school and no homework. The incident was very insignificant in terms of human suffering. It was infinitesimal compared to the Japanese occupation, which has long been forgotten in our collective memory. But why does a small incident like May 13 get stuck in our collective psyche with such stigma? Yes, there were social and political ramifications – but how many of us really – I mean REALLY – took time to understand the cause and effect of it?

I would like to suggest that most of what we think we know about May 13 are mostly false, and most of our emotions associated with May 13 are mostly irrational. They are the results of almost 40 years of insidious propaganda. We were constantly being bombarded with threats about it repeating, each time with some new connotations added, until it became a boogeyman that everybody feared or hated but nobody knows exactly what it is.

The nature of the human mind is that we are extremely vulnerable to propaganda and brain washing techniques. Read the following article: 'We can implant entirely false memories'

"We can easily distort memories for the details of an event that you did experience," says Loftus. "And we can also go so far as to plant entirely false memories - we call them rich false memories because they are so detailed and so big."

Powerful emotions, it seems, can both reinforce and weaken real memories… And false memories, once accepted, can themselves elicit strong emotions and thereby mimic real ones.

The impressionability of the human mind is a crucial survival mechanism, for without it we would not be able to assimilate a vast amount of information within the rather short human lifetime. But it also renders the mind extremely easily exploited.

The human mind can be manipulated not just in terms of believing in falsehood. Witness the trial of Altantunya, observe how the trial process and the media were being manipulated. A hideous high profile murder could have been erased from the collective memory of the whole nation in the matter of months if not for the timely reminder of our true champion Raja Petra Kamarudin.

Human being can be driven to mass hysteria very easily as well. For example it only took one person waving a weapon, followed by a few provocative slogans chanting, and the country is divided and driven into hating each other. It is as irrational as the hysteria generated from a rock concert!

Today is the 39th anniversary of the May 13 incident. Frankly this date holds no meaning to me whatsoever. For one thing I had always refused to believe in the racial hatred propaganda propagated by the Barisan Nasional government. I had always been driven by my yearning to reach out to another. I have been to many countries and made many good friends of people from different races. Skin color and trivial cultural differences has very little significance in the face to face, heart to heart relationship to another human being.

39 years is long enough for a lot of things to be forgotten and forgiven. May 13 would have been long forgotten if not because of the constant instigations from certain unscrupulous parties.

Any form of mass communication is extremely effective in influencing the population, and our mainstream media have been subverted into senseless propaganda machines for propagating all sorts of lies. It is time for the rakyat to stand together to put a stop to these bullshits.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Outrage at Cheras Toll

I am referring to the continue saga regarding the barricade in Bandar Mahkota Cheras, as reported in Malaysiakini:

Barricade row: Answers next week

Before getting into the legalities of the issue, let’s investigate why Bandar Mahkota Cheras and surrounding residents are so pissed off by the barricade. It begun when Grand Saga, the Cheras-Kajang highway concessionaire, blocked off an access road two years ago to divert the traffic to the toll. As a result of the barricade the residents have to make a 6km detour – and on top of that they have to join the jam leading to the toll plaza and made to pay the RM 0.9 toll.

Lets do a simple calculation on how much the toll is costing the Bandar Mahkota residents. Assuming the current market rate of RM 0.6 per km for petrol, car maintenance and depreciation cost. Assuming that it takes 15 minutes to travel the 6km, and human resource cost is average RM 10 per hour.

Petrol and car maintenance:
6km X RM 0.60/km = RM 3.60
Human resource cost:
RM 10/hour X 0.25 hour = RM 2.50
Toll amount = RM 0.90

Total cost one way = RM 7.00
Total cost both ways = RM 14.00/day
Total cost/month (22days/month) = RM 308/month

Now you understand why Bandar Mahkota residents are so pissed off. Just because one private company willfully asserting its rights, it barricaded a fully functioning access road and make the residents suffer RM 7.00 direct and indirect cost for every 90 sen it collected. This whole thing is utterly ridiculous no matter from what angle I look at it.

The absurdity doesn’t end here. The legality of the barricade had been in dispute since day one. Refer to the following reports in Malaysiakini: Confirmed - residents can tear down concrete barrier.

The Hulu Langat land office did confirmed a few days ago that Grand Saga indeed had NO right to erect the barricade. So the Cheras residents took matters in their own hands and tore down the barricade. That provoked a violent reaction from Grand Saga. Read the follow up reports:

Grand Saga 'advised' to re-erect concrete barrier
Cheras residents in stand-off to protect toll-free road
Police fire tear gas at Cheras residents

So there was the rebuilding of the barricade, which the residents tore down immediately. Grand Saga responded by getting the Federal Reserve Unit involved. I read in utter disbelief that that over 200 FRU armed with tear gas and water canon were activated to protect the interest of one single private company against the residents of a whole township.

The legality of the barricade was in dispute in the first place. Under such circumstance how could the police take side? How could the police use extreme force - beating up and arresting MPs and residents, and fire tear gas and water cannon at them?

The whole happening was a complete outrage. It was a subversion of justice, not to mention a complete wastage of public resources. How could a private company wields such influence over the police? Who has the authority to order such a massive deployment of the police force?

These are things that got the rakyat so angry at the government that drove us to vote for the opposition. I thought the Barisan Nasional government would have learned something from the setback in recent election. But lo and behold, our Prime Minister was not even aware of this happening when asked about it yestarday!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why wave the Keris to begin with?

(also posted in Malaysiakini)
Last edited 7th May 2008 12:05 am

This response to Hishammuddin keris waving apology (Hisham apologises for keris act) is late in coming, but I found the whole episode so bewildering that even after writing my first response (Hisham: I apologize for my apology??) I still felt something very unsettling about it. It took me a further full week investigating the various aspects of it before I felt I have enough clarity to pen down the following questions and observations.

Let’s begin from the very beginning. I would like to post this question: what message was Hishammuddin trying to convey by waving the keris, accompanied by the ultra radical slogan from UMNO youth supporters? Did Hishammuddin thought that the Chinese were making too many unreasonable demands such that he has to wave a weapon as a gesture to defend the rights of the Malays? If that was the case, then what were the demands the Chinese made that were deemed so unreasonable to him?

Was he referring to the Chinese demands for more Chinese schools? What I recalled was that the Chinese communities were not even demanding for more Chinese schools, the demand was only to relocate some schools in the rural areas to the city, to reflect the change in demographic of the population. Or is there something wrong with Chinese education, for example that it hinders ethnic integration? If the Chinese education was not the issue, then what was it?

Whatever it is - can our leaders enter into mature dialog with each other to resolve them instead of resorting to waving weapons and chanting ultra radical slogans?

As of now, I still do not understand what this whole episode was about. Hishammuddin apology was as if it had something to do with the dignity of the keris and the Malay race. That was a lot of nonsense to me. He could have waved a parang or a Chinese Sword and people would be equally offended by it.

Similarly Najib’s follow up statements (Najib: Keris apology won't derogate Malay dignity ) and MCA acceptance of the apology was equally nonsensical.

I remembered reading about how the Beatles was being promoted at the beginning. The promoter hired a bunch of young girls and got them to scream and tear off their clothes, and that set off a whole generation of mass hysteria. Now we have one person waving a weapon with a few people responded with some slogans and the whole country is divided in semi-hysteria.

To me this whole episode was only a cheap publicity stunt, intended to further the political interest of one person.