Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Last Emperor of MIC

The result of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) election did not take me by surprise. I had thought that if MIC delegates have any sense at all, they would at least get Subramaniam elected as the deputy president. But frankly I couldn’t care less what happens with MIC. If Subramaniam is worthy of being elected at all then there is no sense for him to stay with MIC. What can one person do when practically the whole party machinery is being controlled by Samy Vellu?

Today’s MIC election result is only another indication confirming the irrelevance of MIC. Yes, Samy Vellu reigns supreme again - but to what? Isn’t the past 8 by-elections, where over 85% of Indian voted for the opposition party - Pakatan Rakyat, a good enough indications that MIC should just be dissolved?

The fate of MIC can be compared to the late Ching Dynasty of China. During the last days of Ching Dynasty the child emperor Pu Yi was confined to the Forbidden City while the whole country descended in utter chaos. His emperorship was maintained by the warlords for political and diplomatic manipulations.

Pu Yi was confined in an imaginary world, left behind time and out of touch with reality. He was surrounded by an entourage of concubines and eunuchs who have no where else to go. Many stayed behind to plunder whatever left of the imperial treasures amassed through centuries of exploitations.

Such is the fate of MIC now. Tell me that Samy’s candidate lineup is not a bunch of eunuchs and concubines. Tell me that the delegates who voted for Samy’s lineup are not a bunch of eunuchs and concubines. Tell me that this bunch of eunuchs and concubines are not there to share Samy’s 32 years of loot. Tell me that these bunch of eunuchs and concubines are there to serve the Indians.

The sorry state of MIC could also be said of the rest of Barisan Nasional component parties. The whole Barisan Nasional government has gotten so stinking rotten that one just wants to flush it down the toilet and forgets about it like a bad dream.

I don’t want Pakatan Rakyat to feel congratulated by what I wrote. I can very honestly say that I don’t think Pakatan Rakyat is worthy of being a political party. I don't think it is able to form a shadow cabinet without causing major split in the party. I don't think it has done a great job in governing the states under its control as well. I would be very reluctant to give Pakatan Rakyat a 50% passing mark.

But at least Pakatan Rakyat is not a pile of complete bullshit. If the recent Japan election were to serve as an indicator – Pakatan Rakyat may just well win the next general election, and I think more likely than not that it will.

I don’t believe that the answer to the profound ills that humanity is suffering now lies in the political arena. Humanity needs a new beginning. The current chaos is but a time of awakening. A new type of leadership needs to arise. It will happen as a matter of necessity for humanity continued survival.

"Only everybody-all-at-once can change the current chaos."
Adi Da

Not-Two Is Peace

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Not-Two Is Peace – A Definitive Guide to People Power

I had wanted to introduce this remarkable book, “Not-Two Is Peace” by Adi Da to the Malaysian readers, but felt daunted and inadequate. Truly there is nothing I can write that will do justice to the profundity of this book – except to bring up a few salient points.

This book is about establishing world peace and cooperation; however the wisdom is applicable in the local context as much as in the global context. One important point I like to highlight is that People Power is not about everybody having a lot to say about everything. Rather the key is an initial council of morally enlightened lenders, who has the capacity to make connection to the people and establishes a right representation of the whole population.

Below are some excepts for Not-Two Is Peace. The book is published on-line HERE.

Part I
On the dangers of the old tribalisms, and the necessity for a Global Cooperative Forum based on the Prior Unity of humankind

1.1. The old moral, social, and political order of humankind is now dead.
1.2. This is the moment when it will be decided what the future is going to be…

1.28. At present, a culture of total war, a culture of death, is ruling, while the people are engrossed in consumerism.
1.29. The only power on earth that can stop the trend toward total war is the power of the human population declaring it will not cooperate with this nihilistic culture of total war and the ideologies of total dominance.
1.30. In the present day, declarations of independent states based on ethnic and religious traditions are creating huge problems. Previous larger confederacies are breaking down.
1.31. This trend is all about tribalization, setting up absolute pockets of power—based on the mythologies of the past, the traditions of the past, the separateness of geographical zones, the separateness of particular classes or races of people.
1.32. This disastrous fragmentation of humanity has to stop. What is needed is exactly the opposite of that.
1.33. The absolutization of tribal minds is the happening of the human race in this moment, and this is exactly what must be transcended. That requires a new kind of political orientation…

1.45. Presently, the powers of the separate state are being used to control populations all over the world.
1.46. The power of industry and money is actually senior to governments, and is now controlling the entire world.
1.47. The only power that can deal with these powers that are on the verge of destroying the world is everybody-all-at-once—meaning not merely mob power, but a new cooperative system for dealing with issues.
1.48. The efforts of separate states and vested interests to control the people are not going to work forever. Sooner or later, the global population is going to demand a cooperative, benign situation.
1.49. That is why there needs to be a Global Cooperative Forum, in which all of humankind participates through right representation.
1.50. Such a Global Cooperative Forum would not be subordinate to a tribalization program imposed by nation-states, but would inform all of the existing political entities benignly and cooperatively.
1.51. Humankind has got to get down to its own business and choose itself, and the Global Cooperative Forum is the means to do that…
1.55. In the "room" of humankind as a whole, the "room" of everybody-all-at-once, there is no "two"--there are no flags, there are no religions, and there is no "self"-imagery that may be exclusively asserted. Rather, humankind must simply represent itself, and get together to create a new global domain for human existence. This is the great project.

Part II
On the Necessity to Give Institutional Form
To the Principle of Prior Unity

2.18. The means to bring about the Global Cooperative Forum is not some council of highly-placed morally-enlightened individuals merely making a proposition to everybody that this is necessary.
2.19. The role of the initial council must be to accomplish the connecting with the human totality.
2.20. Without that participation of the world population, the Global Cooperative Forum would be just another group of highly-placed people communicating high-minded notions and struggling to achieve them. It would be back to the same old process.
2.21. The initial leadership of the Global Cooperative Forum will come from individuals who are disillusioned with power, and who see that the current efforts to improve the situation of humanity are not sufficient to transform the whole.
2.22. If the initial council knows how to make the connections, and does so, and establishes right representation for the global population, then the Global Cooperative Forum will emerge virtually out of the woodwork.
2.23. It is essential to fully connect the six and a half billion people to a process. That means that the total human collective, or everybody-all-at-once, must become conscious of itself.
2.24. Everybody-all-at-once must be communicated with by the initial council, and enabled to make itself known.
2.25. Everybody-all-at-once must be able to require that it be heard and that its requirements be acted upon in every positive sense.
2.26. This is the happening that is not in the works. Making the connection to the six and a half billion people has never been done.
2.27. The Global Cooperative Forum is the institutionalized face for the six and half billion to manage itself.
2.28. The initial council is needed first. That council defines the issues and also organizes all the means of connectedness to the human totality. Then an effective, participatory process of global dialogue can begin.
2.29. The internet would be the necessary means of this connectedness.

Part V
On Non-Cooperation with What is Wrong
and On Mobilizing the Human Totality
Based on the Self-Evident Truth of Prior Unity

5.18. In fact, the Global Cooperative Forum begins in the instant of its being communicated to the human population. Everybody-all-at-once has the immediate ability to implement it, by virtue of everyone hearing the message and seeing the tacit obviousness of it.
5.19. The happening of truth is not through the mind--it is at the heart. Truth is not a proposition argued over against other propositions. Truth is self-evident, because the heart authenticates it in the moment of reception.
5.20. Truth is an embrace, just as love is. You do not get argued into love. It is self-evidently right.
5.21. One responds to truth as one does to love, simply through recognizing it. It is not about argument, not about the domain of mind, or of opposites.
5.22. That is how the Global Cooperative Forum will come about. It will happen with everybody-all-at-once, because it is right. It is true, it is so. There is no argument either for or against it. It is simply self-evidently true—immediately, on the moment of its presentation.
5.23. Merely to create another NGO, or some kind of entity that is going to try and convince everybody through argument, or, essentially, the play of opposition, to join a Global Cooperative Forum is never going to work. It will just be another piece of the tribal world.
5.24. Prior unity is not a union of many; it is an intrinsic unity in which there is no separateness, no differences, no others, no oppositions, no duality. It is one.

Friday, June 12, 2009

1Malaysia, Slogan First, Performance Ever?

We lived for 22 years under Mahathir’s iron fist regime, but hardly anybody would remember that his slogan was “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah (Clean, Efficient, Trustworthy)”. Similarly we suffered 8 years of Badawi’s administration, but I bet you that many would not be able to say his slogan "Gemilang, Terbilang, Cemerlang (Excellence, Glory and Distinction)” correctly. It took me a bit of Googling to dig it out myself.

But in barely two months our sixth Prime Minister Najib has managed to make his slogan “1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now” more recognizable than Mac Donald’s Big M symbol or Kentucky Chicken’s “Fingers licking good” slogan.

I heard that Najib paid top dollars (mind you, it was our tax money) to engage a top PR film to dress up his public image. I supposed Najib needs all the help he can get as in Malaysia’s 52 years history we have never seen a Prime Minister laden with so much unsavory allegations and with such disastrous approval ratings.

As a slogan “1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now” is ultra modern, catchy, rhymes beautifully, and more importantly it conjures up powerful images of what Malaysian’s REALLY desired for the country. It succinctly expresses Malaysian’s detest over the endemic corruption, excesses and racism that is ravaging the country. But here also lies the problem. What the slogan expresses is as far from reality as it can be.

Perhaps Najib intention is to fulfill the slogan – but the people are yet to be convinced. This powerful slogan has met with nothing but ridicule form the beginning. The worst damage was actually inflicted from within UMNO. The constant blaring of ultra racist views in state controlled media by the right wing extremist elements were like intentional sabotage to this inclusive and moderate slogan.

1Malaysia, Slogan First, Performance Ever?

I remember on the day that the slogan was announced, it was also announced that 13 people detained under the Internal Security Acts will be released. But due to red tapes and administrative snafus the ISA detainees were released a day later. The slogan was instantaneously morphed into: “1Malaysia, Slogan First, Performance Later.”

To an outsider such cynicism may seem uncalled for. But it nevertheless indicates Malaysian’s distrust of Najib capability and real intention to fulfill the slogan. And things seem to be sliding down a slippery slope from there.

Next came the naming of the new ‘clean and slim’ cabinet. I recalled that the cabinet was ‘slim down’ by only 2 persons, and were no lacking in criticisms for the many tainted characters retained in the Cabinet. The slogan became: “1Fat Cabinet, Cronies First, Performance Ever?”

Since then I have seen Najib creating special positions to reign in delinquent and rejects like Koh Tsu Khoon and Chua Sooi Lek. I am quite sure that by now the cabinet is actually larger than the already bloated Badawi’s cabinet.

Then came the continued unfolding of the saga associated with the hugely unpopular and scandalous coup in Perak. The people got so totally pissed off that the slogan became: “1BlackMalaysia, Power First, People Never”.

Now with the PKFZ scandal and disastrous 6% economy contraction exploding into the scene, I hope it will not end up in: “1ScandalMalaysia, Cronies First, Corruption Forever.”

Cynicism aside, the people are not going to see such a good slogan coming to waste. Various parties are having a good time capitalizing on it. The most famous of which is: “1BlackMalaysia, Democracy First, Elections Now.” in relation to the coup in Perak.

Imitation is the best form of flattery, so it says. The explosion of variations and imitations of the 1Malaysia slogan is a testimony on how powerful the slogan is. Perhaps Najib should have patented the slogan. I guess if Harvey Davidson is able to patent the sound of motorcycle’s exhaust, the 1Malaysia slogan can also be patented as well. Anyway with the Kangaroo court on his side, Najib should be able to sue to the last dollar anybody who attempt to ‘abuse’ his pet slogan.

Below are some variations if the 1Malaysia slogan that I have seen in the Internet. Please don’t quote me, as my memory is rather imperfect, and many are free association triggered by what I have seen. Anyway, below are some of them:

1Malaysia, 2 Chief Ministers, 3 Prime Ministers.

Everybody knows about the ridiculous 2 Chief Ministers in Perak.

I am not going to name our 3rd PM, a twisted soul, a face disfigured with much anger and hatred, and a body bloated with willful self-indulgence. She is probably the most despised woman in Malaysia.

The old fox PM1 had always been critical of PM2, and had made many damaging remarks against PM2. Now PM2 seems to be staging an all out revolt, and the two seem to be heading towards total open warfare. It makes one wonders who is actually running Malaysia.

1Indian, 2PPP, 3Hindraf.

The 1Indian is a concept proposed by MIC. Talking about MIC, the legendary Samy Vellu automatically came to mind. He is an enigma, a true eye opener to the culture of ego maniacs of the Mahathir era. Samy Vellu seems to be determined to bring MIC to the grave with him. In times to come he may very well be known as the last emperor of MIC.

Now Samy’s son Vell Paari is being primed to take over MIC. But apart from being Samy’s son, the only things I ever heard of Vell Paari are the many juicy scandals befitting of a gangster than a worthy representative of the people. In fact with Samy Vellu at the helm the whole of MIC looks more like a Mafia gang than a political party to me.

By putting forward the 1Indian idea Vell Paari may think that he is licking Najib’s ass. But just imagine the Chinese also wanted to do the 1Chinese thing, the Mamak doing the 1Mamak thing, and the 1Hakka, 1Cantonese, 1Tamil, 1Dakyat etc all joining the foray. Can you see how ridiculous the idea is?

Everybody knows what 2 PPP means. The maverick Murugiah is playing on the perception that Najib is on his side, but the incumbent Kayveas is no push over. I am waiting to see how Najib is going to handle the situation.

Now the 3 Hindraf refers to the fractioning within the Hindraf movement. I counted 3 fractions, and I suspected that there are many more. One spinster group even got themselves registered as the Makkal Shakti society. Obviously Barisan Nasional is behind them. You can see this as their ploy to corrupt the Makkal Shakti slogan, much like how the opposition is corrupting the 1Malaysia slogan. I find that a real pity, as Makkal Shakti has been such a power slogan for the people power movement.

Not Enough Indian Representatives?

Yes, the Indians are being marginalized. But it is not because there is insufficient Indian representation in the government. The real problem is that there are too many people claiming to represent the Indians; and they are literally killing each other over it.

As a matter of fact it is not just the Indians that are being marginalized. The whole system of corruption and patronage has created a society so imbalanced that only a small handful of power mongers are controlling the vast majority of the country’s wealth. It is not that these scumbags are able to consume all the wealth under their control. Their personal palaces, mistresses, fleet of sport cars and overseas shopping spree only cost some number of millions in the long run.

The bigger problem is that these people are hell bent to maximize their wealth and maintain their privileged position. They have resorted to sowing hatred and manufacturing artificial racial tensions to keep the society divided. It is causing widespread social ills that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Everybody is being marginalized. Even the middle class professional couples are finding it hard to make ends meet, not to mention the kampong folks and the underpaid blue collar workers. People power cannot allow for the tribal mindset and artificial division to continue. Nobody should fight for any particular race, everybody should instead stand together to fight for the common survival for all.

I am not asking everybody to become an unquestioning and cultic follower of Pakatan Rakyat. In fact there are many dubious people within Pakatan Rakyat that I do not trust any more than the Barisan Nasional goons.

The 318 tsunami was only a wake up call, and Pakatan Rakyat is only the stepping stone. People Power will eventually have to move beyond the political divide. We will need a different type of leadership. A group of fearless and incorruptible people will have to step forward to take lead and bring everybody together, regardless of race, religion and political affiliations. That will be the next paradigm shift that needs to happen, otherwise with the current rate of decay the whole society will descend into a downwards spiral sending everybody back to the middle ages.

1Malaysia, Jolly Good Slogan It is!

Below are some more variations:

1CorruptMalaysia, Money First, Power Now.
1BarisanNasional, Power First, Screw You Now.
1MACC, Cars and Cows First, PKFZ never.
1KangarooCourt, Fix Judges First, Justice Never.
1BlackCoffeeAfterWork …
1Black Café …

You see, the slogan is so versatile that you can mix and match a small number of key phrases to come up with virtually infinite variation of it. It can be used in the commercial sector as well – for example:

1HeavenlyResort, Luxury First, Heavenly Service Now.
1TandooHouse, Good Taste First, Gratification Now.

1Malaysia. Jolly good slogan it is!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pete, You Don’t Owe Malaysia an Apology

In response to My most sincere apology to the nation by Raja Petra Kamarudin

Dear Pete,

I don’t think anybody can be hold accountable for something that his or her 32 years old son did. While I understand the plight that you have to go through as a parent, I don’t think you owe anybody an apology.

The way you handled the situation – of facing it squarely, not giving in to the temptation to bribery, is setting a shining example for all Malaysian. If anything at all, everybody who ever participated in bribery in any form owes you an apology.

I am one who should offer you an apology. I am one who lost counts on the number of times in which I settle speeding and other offences ‘on the spot’ with the police. I am one who participated in and propagated and the culture of corruption in Malaysia. I knew how easy it is to give in to the temptation of doing it the easy way. Your example put me to shame. It should put many people to shame.

But I also like to let you know that I have stopped doing that. It took me almost half a life time to learn some fundamental things about not going with the flow, not taking the easy way out, and standing up and speaking out against what is wrong.

It feels good to do so. For the first time in my life I felt hope for Malaysia and for humanity altogether. For the first time I felt a sense of purpose for Malaysia. The purposefulness came from knowing that I am not an innocent victim, that I have the responsibility and the power to change those around me. For that I have to thank you for being the pioneer, for being the voice that awakened me from stupor.

You don’t owe me an apology Pete. But gratitude and appreciation I have plenty for you.

I don't know where you are now but I hope one day I can work with you. I hope soon you will be able to come out of hiding; where you and your family don’t have to live under constant threat. I hope soon we can provide you with a safe circumstance so that you can enjoy a normal family life.

People power ultimately is beyond the political agenda. It is primarily about going beyond our tribal mindset so that we can collectively and cooperatively provide a safe and sane circumstance for all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is the ball really in the Sultan's Court now?

Mahathir and the Age of ISA

If I were to describe Tun Dr. Mahathir with one sentence, it would be: “My way or the Kamunting way”. Mahathir era can be termed the era of the Internal Security Act (ISA). He perfected the ‘art’ of ISA detention. He pushed it to the max, and utilized it to the max.

The word ‘art’ is only is only a figure of speech. Dr Mahathir never cares about being artful or aesthetic. He is completely unabashed about what he did. He is too proud to lie, too proud to have to justify his action. ISA is a perfect vehicle for him. Everybody and anybody can be detained without trial. Nothing needs to be explained, and nothing needs to be justified.

Now take a look at what Mahathir has to say about the Perak stalemate: Dr M: Pakatan will win Perak snap polls (Malaysiakini May 14)

First, the 83-year-old former BN chieftain said there was no need to hold a fresh election in Perak in order to resolve the political impasse in the state. But he quickly added that it was a ‘forgone conclusion' that Pakatan Rakyat would win if an election is held.

"I think the opposition... well not the opposition... I think that Pakatan is going to win. So why have an election?...

Instead of fresh polls, Mahathir said the right process now is for the state assembly to sit and move a motion of no-confidence against Nizar.

What Tun Dr. Mahathir saying is that he knows Pakatan Rakyat is going to win a snap poll, so he is not going to play it that way. He will only play it the way he is sure that HE can win.

It doesn’t matter to him that the High Court has already ruled that Nizar is still the legitimate Chief Minister of Perak. It doesn’t matter that the legality of the ‘new’ speaker Ganesan is in doubt. For him the ‘right’ process is for the state assembly to sit and move a motion of no-confidence against Nizar.

Is it ‘right’ as in being legal and constitutional? That is never Mahathir concern. It is ‘right’ because he said so. It is ‘right’ because he can win. That is Mahatharism.

But what about public opinion? "I hope people have short memories" was his reply. For Mahathir the people never matters. They can be easily hoodwinked, brought over, suppressed and coerced.

Perak Fiasco – Is the ball in the Sultan’s Court now?

Now take a look at what Najib has to say about the Perak fiasco: BN does not fear fresh elections in Perak

The Barisan Nasional (BN) is not afraid of facing the people should there be a fresh state election in Perak, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today. We are ready to face the people…"

The prime minister reiterated that it was up to the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah to decide whether a fresh election should be held for Perak…

Have you noticed how Najib has been absolving himself from the Perak scene? Let me remind you how proud he was as being the commander in chief in engineering the coup in Perak.

Did you see the stark contrast between Mahathir ‘way’ and Najib’s ‘way’?

The statements by Mahathir and Najib were given on the same day. The contradiction between Mahathir’s statement and Najib’s statement is as stark as it can be. Mahathir’s unabashed frankness makes Najib looks so shady, phony and puny. Mahathir’s statement made a mockery of Najib’s.

So Perak is the Sultan prerogative as claimed by Najib? I am not so sure.

Najib is all eager to appear ‘good’, ‘reasonable’ and ‘civilized’ in the eyes of the people. His way of dealing with issues is through lies, denial and scapegoats. I believe that Najib is merely makeing a scapegoat out of the Monarchy.

My opinion is that the biggest loser in the Perak saga is perhaps the Monarchy. The High Court ruling, which clearly states that Sultan Azlan Shah had acted unconstitutionally in sacking Nizar was bad enough. But even more damaging is how Najib has been dragging the monarchy into the picture every step along the way in the Perak fiasco, creating the perception that the monarchy is in cohort with UNMO in the whole event.

I wondered you noticed that the Monarchy had all but kept quiet through the whole saga. But even so UMNO had been ultra eager to come to its 'defense'. Nizar and Pakatan Rakyat were labeled treacherous to the monarchy and crowned enemy No. 1 to the Malay race. Many people were charged under the sedition act for voicing out their discontent of the Monarchy.

While I do not presume to know why the Monarchy is maintaining silence on such a grave matter, it is completely obviously to me that Najib has no interest to protect the monarchy.

The public opinion on the Perak coup is undeniably obvious, as indicated by a NTV7 poll which showed that 99% of the respondents wanted fresh election for Perak. The anger of the rakyat towards Najib is abundantly clear, to the point other component parties of Barisan Nasional are voicing for a fresh poll in Perak.

Najib’s tactics of constantly dragging the Monarchy into the picture is sinister to say the least. Najib may have intended to make use of the Monarchy to lend legitimacy to its actions in Perak, but it only managed to get the monarchy to share the public blames and angers.

Sultan Azlan Shah may have made an error in sacking Nizar as being the Chief Minister, but all the rest – the defections of the three frogs, the subsequent court cases, the farcical May 7 state assembly sitting, the crack down of dissidents etc, are all the work of Najib.

Even right now, is the ball in the Sultan’s court as claimed by Najib? My understanding is that the sultan cannot order the dissolution of the state assembly, just as he has no power to sack the chief minister. The ball is still very much in UMNO’s court.

This is my understanding of the constitution anyway. If anything at all, the past grueling four months had thought me a lot about separation of powers. It has been a live lesson on how screwed up and corrupted the Malaysian political system is.

Many probably find the silence of the monarchy regarding this important matter very disquieting. Many had looked toward the monarchy for voice of sanity in the midst of the current chaos. My sincere hope is that HRS Sultan Azlan Shah will break the silence and make a clear stand in due time and lead Perak out of the current mayhem.

ISA is Fading Away - but What's Next?

The Internal Security Act has gain so much notoriety under our former Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar that practically the whole country is revolting against it. The circumstances in which Syed Hamid invoked the ISA were so ridiculous that it was almost comical. Incidents like the detention of a young reporter for her own ‘protection’ will surely pass down in folklore and the Alternate Annal of Malaysia Politics.

The current public sentiment is that ISA can no longer be invoked against the opposition parties without provoking major backlash from the people. ISA is no longer unchallengeable as can be seen by Hindraf leader Uthayakumar defying his condition of release from ISA as reported in Malaysiakini. We shall see how Hishammuddin is going to response to such open challenge.

Syed Hamid has made himself so unpopular by his indiscriminate use of the ISA that his political career is buried for good. Now let see how long is Hishammuddin able to stay in this hot seat.

For all intent and purpose, the era of ISA heralded by Mahathir is all but gone. For tyrannical acts like ISA to work, it will require an almost total blockage of free expression – like in communist China now, or Malaysia during Mahathir era. In this era of internet and cell phones it is impossible to exercise such tyrannical power with causing total uproar from the people.

This is not time to rejoice yet – for I was alarmed by the large number of people charged under the sedition acts and illegal gatherings. Lets hope that this is not the beginning of the era of the Sedition Act.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Swine Flu, Bird Flu - Political Lies and Media Disinformation

No-one yet knows whether swine flu will become a global pandemic, but it is becoming clear where it came from – most likely a giant pig factory farm run by an American multinational corporation in Veracruz, Mexico.

These factory farms are disgusting and dangerous, and they're rapidly multiplying. Thousands of pigs are brutally crammed into dirty warehouses and sprayed with a cocktail of drugs -- posing a health risk to more than just our food -- they and their manure lagoons create the perfect conditions to breed dangerous new viruses like swine flu.

Read on:

Sign the Petition

Let's call on the United Nations World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation to investigate and regulate these farms to protect global health. Big agrobusiness will try to obstruct any attempts at reform, so we need a massive outcry that health authorities can't ignore.

You can participate by signing the petition organized by

Sign the Petition

Sunday, April 26, 2009

CIMB housing loan owner - Beware

I received a letter from CIMB about 2 weeks ago, offering an insurance policy to protect our house from landslides. Another junk mail I thought, so I chucked the letter into the recycle bin without a second thought. Then my wife picked it up and noticed that there is an "Opt Out Instruction Form" at the bottom.

On closer inspection, the letter actually states that if I do not sign and return the "Opt Out Instruction Form", the additional protection will be automatically included into my insurance policy.

Something is clearly not right here. Why should I have suffer the inconvenience of having to go to a post office to cancel something that I did not asked for. If somehow I missed it - as I almost did, I will be charged additional fees for something that I do not need. Most of us will not even notice the increase in premiums when the insurance fee is charged to the account.

So I called up the help line:

Operator: Which branch did you open you account? You will have to call your branch and they will help you to sort it out.

Me: No, I don't want to make another call. You mean it is not originated from HQ, and HQ has no control over your branches? If that is the case I want to lodge a report against the branch for unethical practices ...

So I got the operator to take down my details, and got her to promise to sort it out for me. A few minutes later, the operator called back.

Operator: This is their number, XXXXXXXXX. Please give them a call tomorrow ...

Me: Who are 'them'?

Operator: Allianz General Insurance Company ...

Me: No I don't want to call Allianz. As far as I am concerned, my housing loan is with CIMB, with the insurance and insurer pre-arranged, I don't even have a say on that. The letter is issued by CIMB. I hold CIMB responsible for this...


I got the operator to promise to sort it out for me. But to be sure, I will still post the 'Opt Out' form. It's a 10 minutes walk to the post office for me, but such is life in Malaysia.

This is definitely an unethical business practice. I can bet you that many people will simply chuck the letter away - and ended up paying a premium for something that they do not need. Most will not even notice the premium increase!

I am contemplating lodging a report to the consumer association.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chicken ala Carte

This is the winner of 56th Berlin Film Festival for best short story, it is also the most viewed entry at Culture Unplugged.

The backdrop of the story is poverty and imbalance in wealth distribution, but the essential message is the simple love and caring in the humblest circumstance.

This is a simply story, an everyday happening right at our backyard. But one cannot help but be touched, because the unnamed impulse to love and to share is inherent in all being, always yearning to break free. And loving and caring for one another does not require a lot of material resources.

This is the type of heart awakening that is require to turn around the profound crisis that humanity is facing now. I think this film will make an excellent theme for the people power movement.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Unsuppressable Defiance

The Chinese government began a new internet censorship campaign last year called "Harmony", ostensibly aimed at combating "vulgarity and pornography" on the Chinese web. However, it has been used most often to shut down Blogs and discussion forums (like this one), including those that only mildly criticize the government.

So enter the "Grass-Mud Horse", or "Cao-ni-ma". Here are some popular depictions:

As you can see, there are even cute Grass-Mud-Horse dolls, and now there is a music video with Chinese children singing:

There is a herd of Grass Mud Horses
In the wild and beautiful Ma Le Desert (Gobi Desert)
They are lively and intelligent
they are fun-loving and nimble
They live freely in the Ma Le Desert
They are courageous, tenacious, and overcome the difficult environment

Oh lying down Grass Mud Horse
Oh running wild Grass Mud Horse
They defeated river crabs in order to protect their grass land
River crabs forever disappeared from Ma Le Desert

...Well, as it goes in Chinese, "Grass-Mud-Horse" is legal to say, of course, but "Cao-ni-ma(草泥马)" also sounds like "F*** your mother". And "River Crabs(河蟹)" sounds like "Harmony(和谐)" (the government's censorship program)! The "Ma Le Desert(马勒戈壁Gobi Desert)" is "your mother's private part".

This all "loses a lot in the translation" but in Chinese it is hilarious, especially when it sounds like children are singing about a cute horse that just wants to be free.

The Cao-ni-ma movement is spreading like wild fire in China. Top intellectuals and artists are getting involved. Many variations of the song appeared and are sang publicly. There are also many artistic renderings, toys, dolls etc.

The intended meaning of the punt may seems to be vulgar, but one simply could not help cracking up at its cleverness. What came across is the purity, innocence, humor and ingenuity. It defies any form of tyrannical suppression. It made a mockery of the oppressors. It is simply an unstoppable force of truth that will touch many hearts and souls.

Such is people power at its best. This is the type ingenuity and purity required to break through the dense darkness that is enveloping the world at present.

We are going to need something like this urgently in Malaysia. The recent development in Malaysia politics sent chills up my spine. I can feel that the Barisan Nasional machinery will stage an all out onslaught on Pakatan Rakyat with end game brutality, until it is beaten lifeless like Kugan.

With the Barisan Nasional government subjugation of the Executive, Judiciary, Legislative and Police institutions. People power is all that we have to protect our hard won fledging democracy. Direct righteous confrontations will have it place. But I believe we will need something pure and humorous like Cao-ni-ma to diffuse the darkness of the situations and to reach out to the masses.

Cao-ni-ma is light years ahead of our "Altantuya Mongolia" song (sang in the tune of "When the Saint go marching in"). I am sure that we have enough talent to match this. I will personally donate RM 100, plus do a personal fund raiser with my old boys association to anybody who can create something that matches Cao-ni-ma. Maybe something about a crocodile named Isa. Any takers?

People Power shall prevail. Our inherent unity shall prevail. This is the time for it. This is the only force that can righten the profound ills in our world today.

Before I pen off, I would like to offer to the following:

  • A Cao-ni-ma to Be End, let its ending come swift and painless.

  • Two Cao-ni-ma to um....No. Lets banish this rotten no-no to Ma Le Desert.

  • Three Cao-ni-ma to stinky Najis and Rosie Mama, direct from Ma Le Desert, the homeland of Altantuya. Lets Cao-ni-ma prevail till justice is served.

"Something new must emerge ..... A new mode of social contract ...., an egoless mode ...... based on cooperation, tolerance and universal participation and accountability. " Adi Da, Not-Two IS Peace

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Oh Najib, what have you done?

One of my favorite jokes goes like this: If 2 Malays get together, they will form a political party. If 3 Indians get together, they will form a workers union. If 4 Chinese get together, they will ---------- play mahjong!

The joke is innocent enough, but poignantly illustrates a maddening trait of the Chinese race. The Chinese as a race has gone through an un-proportionally high number of man made and natural calamity in its span of history. This cultivates the pervasive mind-your-own-business and keep-peace-at-all-cost mentality. You can insult them as being squatters, threaten them with a weapon, they will swallow the insult as long as there is some bread crumbs left for them to make a living.

It is virtually impossible to motivate the Chinese to do anything other than making money, as 50 years of DAP struggle can testify. The 308 tsunami got them somewhat excited. But even so you won’t see many Chinese in various rallies and anti-government protests. Their first instinct is to protect the rice bowl. There is nothing you could do to get them away from their comfort zone. But all of that changed over the past few days, with the unfolding of the coup in Perak.

Najib may seem to have won the battle in Perak, but he made a very serious tactical mistake. It can prove to be a very deadly mistake indeed. Najib, being so immersed in the Malay Ultra culture surrounded by yes-man Chinese, is completely unaware of a taboo; an un-crossable line in the Chinese psyche. In his desperation to gain back some morale after a string of humiliations he committed the worst offence in the eyes of Chinese.

The Chinese are not what they seem on the surface. Nobody is what they seem on the surface for that matter. Whatever a certain character trait is overtly demonstrated on the surface, you can be sure that the complete opposite is lurking in the shadow. The seemly peace loving Chinese are not all that benign under the hood. It can be seen in the pervasive triad culture, the kung fu culture, the patriotic literature, even in its religion. The most popular god for Chinese is not Buddha the transcendental one; not Guan Yin the goddess of mercy; but Lord Guan, the god of war, the legendary general revered for his absolute loyalty and righteousness.

The bloody history of China was spotted with numerous upraising against foreign invaders and tyrants and oppressors. The secret societies’ heroic deeds are enshrined in literature and folklore, and the virtues of righteousness and absolutely loyalty sworn with blood are deified in Lord Guan. By the same token the traitors that sold out their own race are similarly enshrined in history to be cursed for eternity. Such is the dark hidden aspect of the Chinese psyche. The Chinese have no qualms about shaking hands with you even if you are a murderer. Money comes first; the rest is none of their business. But betrayal, especially betrayal of the race is an absolute taboo, an unforgivable sin.

Najib, in his haste to win Perak, has created one such unforgivable sinner in the person of Hee Yit Foong. In doing so he put himself in the position of a corrupt tyrant. The stage is set and all the actors in place: the villain Najib, the traitor Hee, and the unexpected rise of Nazir as the grassroot kung-fu hero. The racial memory is awakened and the Chinese finally united and up in arms for an epic struggle. PAS and DAP comradeship was never so strongly cemented.

Well done Najib, you managed to achieved what DAP could not do in the past 50 years. The hatred for Hee will be forever tied to you. No amount of sweet talk can get you out of this. No amount of money can buy you out of this. I am not sure how the collective hatred will manifest, but it will be a very ugly reality for you. It will be as dirty as the techniques you used to siege Perak.

Look at it objectively; the coup in Perak is really only a storm in the tea cup. It is nothing close to the Manchurian invasion or the Japanese occupation. Is the hatred projected to Hee Yit Foong really justified? There are 4 assembly men/women who deserted Pakatan Rakyat, why the exclusive focus of hatred to Hee?

But human beings hardly ever act rationally. The mob emotion is a very dangerous beast. This incident is the proverbial last straw that breaks the camel back. What got released is a deluge of pent up anger, frustrations, hatred and what not. There is nothing rational about it. But the despicable intrigue that Najib played to topple the Perak government was equally irrational and unjustified. It was completely uncalled for in the current global climate. The blatant disregard of the wish and feelings of the people was a form of wanton selfishness. Such irresponsible act will prove to have a very destructive effect for both the Prime Minister to be and to Barisan Nasional.

I would have loved to see the incarnation of a culture of tolerance and cooperation where all these ugly memories can be put to rest forever. I would have loved to see Barisan Nasional stand strong and lead the country out of the epic crisis that is already at our doorstep. But the rampant corruption in Barisan Nasional had not given me any hope yet. It has been getting from bad to worst for all that I see.

My support for Pakatan Rakyat is not because of the historical ideologies of the respective component parties. The rather unexpected victory in 308 has forced the three parties – PAS, PKR and DAP - to go through thorough transformations to adapt to the new roles they have to play. My support is a way of facilitating the transformation so that it can become vehicle for our common survival in the current global crisis. I will give myself in completely for that.

This is a time of reflection for all, not for rash actions. There are a lot of questions to ponder. Why would Hee Yit Foong, who dedicated 28 years of her live with DAP, made such an irrational decisions? Her action is akin to suicide. Her actions is destructive to herself, to the parties she sworn allegiance to and to the people that she pledged to represent. It is a grotesque and tragic manifestation of uncontrolled egoity, much like the destructive game that Najib is playing now but in different flavor. This is a complex question. I will write more about it later.

Is the battle lost for Pakatan Rakyat in Perak? May be. But I think the war is only just beginning to warm up.

“The Chinese are sons of Adam. The Malays, too, are sons of Adam” Nik Aziz Nik Mat
"Something new must emerge ..... A new mode of social contract ...., an egoless mode ...... based on cooperation, tolerance and universal participation and accountability. " Adi Da, Not-Two IS Peace

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

KT by-election: a major corner stone is laid for Barisan Rakyat

I have been glued to the computer for the past few days reading every bit I can find about the Kuala Terengganu by-election. Needless to say I was elated, almost overwhelmed to see a convincing win of 2651 votes for Pakatan Rakyat Candidate.

To me the KT by-election is much more significant that the Permatang Pauh by-election in August last year. The Permatang Pauh by-election represents a lot of what I always hated about politics, the most disgusting of which is the extreme racism and vicious character assassination tactics being used.

Yes, Pakatan Rakyat managed to deal a humiliating blow to Barisan Nasional. That was satisfying, but nevertheless the whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth. The endless parading of Altantuya and the Saifu Bukhari characters during the election period made one wonders what the election was about. It was like parading our backside for the whole world to see and made Malaysia a laughing stock to the international community. It was a shameful episode that should never be repeated again.

I wondered whatever happened to the Saifu character since. I have heard quite a few things. From the grapevine I heard that somebody did receive a ‘scholarship’ that is worth 3 million ringgit. But I wondered whether that is an enough compensation for the humiliation that he has to suffer for the rest of his life and the ordeal that he has to put his fiancé and family members through.

Maybe he was only a gullible young lad who wants to make it quick. He made it quick for sure – now he must be one of the most recognized face in Malaysia with a world famous backside to boast about. I am not convinced about his sodomy allegation against Anwar, but I am absolutely certain that he was being sodomized and exploited through and through by the heartless and merciless political machinery.

So much about the Permatang Pauh by-election. I am glad that the Kuala Terengganu was carried out on a completely different basis, at least for Pakatan Rakyat. As for Barisan Nasional, the election tactics were as dirty as ever save the highly seditious character assassinations.

It was just as well that the KT by-election started in the backdrop of a raging controversy involving one of the most contentious issues – PAS Islamic ideology and general mistrust of Islam amongst the Chinese. It was just as well that KT is not a safe seat and every vote from every people counts, regardless of race. Pakatan Rakyat components parties really had to work extra hard to bridge their differences, and I have to congratulate them for doing a wonderful job at it.

To me that was the most significant happening since the 308 election. This is the turning point where Pakatan Rakyat stopped being united by common hatred for BN, and begun to be united by the realization that we need each other – every single individual regardless of race, to succeed.

Malaysia has been subjected to 50 years of the most insidious systematic indoctrination under the BN government. We don’t have a real racial problem as such, as in Malaysia the races do work and mingle in harmony and we do make good friends with each other. But the incessant propaganda of hatred has nevertheless taken a heavy toll in our collective psyche.

I remembered reading about a Chinese couple giving up one of their children to be adopted by a Malay family. It happened less than 50 years ago. That sort of things was complete OK then. But last night I intended to share some excess fruits with my neighbor, my wife stopped me and told me that it is a sensitive issue for Muslim to receive from non-Muslim, and we don’t want to put our good friend in a difficult position. I have been away overseas for 16 years and I took it that there are still things I have to catch up with. But it really alarmed me that our social fabric has degraded to such an extent.

Such is the insidiousness of the hatred propaganda of the BN government to keep the race divided so that a small gang of thugs and power mongers can reign supreme as being the maintainer of peace. A lot of the ‘sensitivities’ are completely absurd and unnecessary. The game plan was very simple – make some really stupid policies or statements that stir up the racial sentiments to the boiling point, and then declare the issue to be ‘sensitive’ and come down hard with shock and awe and ISA and whatnots. And the result was more consolidation of power and the population in even tighter control.

So much of terrible policies and bad governance were morphed into racial issues this way. The ‘outsider’ race cannot protest because it was racially sensitive, and the ‘protected’ race is not allowed to protest either because it pertains to the interest of the race. In the end everybody losses out while a small gang thugs reign supreme while robbing the country clean.

We saw such tactics used in the infamous Ops Lalang incident. The recent stirring up of the hudud issue was another example to create fear amongst the Chinese so as to weaken PAS. But Malaysian has finally grown up and won’t buy into such bullshit anymore.

The KT by-election is a major turning point for Malaysia indeed. This is the first time ever that I saw real efforts involving all parties high and low in bridging the racial and religious gap and succeed in overpowering the BN hate machine. The most moving moment for me was to see PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat joining for dinner with the Chinese voters, and declared that: “The Chinese are sons of Adam. The Malays, too, are sons of Adam”

We still have a long way to go. But at least we have set foot in the right direction. Unity has to be the operating presumption to move forward or else will only be repeating the same bullshit in different flavors. It is only in unity that we know how to cooperate and care for each other. I do not see how else we are going to get through the crisis of the century that the BN government is still insisting that Malaysia will not be affected.

Special thanks to the bloggers united for bringing us the up to the minute news and working tirelessly in the background to help to cement the KT victory.

And special tribute our greatest hero RPK – who has done more than anybody else in cracking down the racial barrier in Malaysia. He never let us down. We shall all stand by him and not let him down either.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rabbi Lerner on Israel in Gaza

The author of the article below, Rabbi Lerner, may be Jew, but his views on the current crisis Gaza is one of the most compassionate and balanced I have read.


Rabbi Lerner on Israel in Gaza

Israel in Gaza
By Rabbi Michael Lerner
January 5, 2009

Israel is still using a strategy of domination in its struggle with Hamas, trying to use force to gain security. But this is a recipe for endless war.

Gaza, December 31, 2008
Israel’s attempt to wipe out Hamas is understandable, but it cannot work.

No country in the world is going to ignore the provocation of rockets being launched from neighboring territory day after day. If Mexico had a group of anti-imperialist South Americans bombing Texas, imagine how long it would take for the US to mobilize a counter-attack. Israel has every right to respond.

But the kind of response matters.

Massive bombings of the sort that have thus far killed over 400 Palestinians and wounded 1,000 other civilians is a classic example of a disproportionate response.

Before Israel’s massive bombing, the Hamas bombings that began when the previous ceasefire ran out had not (thank God) killed any one. The reason is obvious: Hamas has no airplanes, no tanks, nothing more than the weapons of the powerless—limited range mortars with limited accuracy. Hamas can harass, but it cannot pose any threat to the existence of Israel. And just as Hamas’ indiscriminate bombing of population centers is a crime against humanity, so is Israel’s massive attack against civilians (in addition to those killed thus far in Gaza, there are the thousands killed by Israel in the years of the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza). Israel's human rights violations during the cease fire included a massive cut off of food and other vital necessities--a crime against international law.

On the other hand, any understanding of the situation must also include acknowledgment of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder faced by Israelis living under the constant threat of terrorism, to which the katyushka bombings, however ineffective militarily, contribute massively. Living under constant threat of attack, plus hearing the leader of Iran talk about wiping Israel off the map, is a background condition that shapes Israelis ability to be so insensitive to the human damage they have caused by the Occupation. Conversely, the ongoing trauma of expulsion and the Occupation that has contributed to the ongoing ethical insensitivity of many Palestinians to the suffering that they cause Israelis by engaging in terror attacks against civilians. In short, compassion for both sides is a desparate necessity.

Hamas had respected the previously negotiated ceasefire except when Israel used the ceasefire as cover to make assassination raids against Hamas and other Palestinian leaders. Arguing that these raids were hardly a manifestation of ceasefire, Hamas would, as symbolic protest, allow the release of rocket fire (usually hitting no targets). But when the issue of continuing the ceasefire came up, Hamas wanted a guarantee that these assassination raids would stop. And it asked for more. With hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing acute malnutrition bordering on starvation, Hamas insisted that the borders be opened to counter Israeli attempts to starve the Gazans into submission. And in return for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, it asks for the release of a thousand Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

Hamas has made it clear that it would accept the terms of the Saudi Arabian peace agreement, though it would never formally recognize Israel. It would live peacefully in a two state arrangement, but it would never acknowledge Israel’s “right to exist.” This position is unnecessarily provocative, and represents deep self-destructiveness on the part of Palestinians who believe that this failure to acknowledge Israel’s rights is the only symbolic weapon they have left. To many Israelis, trapped in their own history as survivors of genocide and oppression, Hamas’ refusal to give official recognition is a way of saying, “We’ll wait till we have adequate military power, and then we’ll break any de facto truce and ceasefire and use that power to wipe out Israel, so just give us time.” Some Hamas people have actually said that publicly. Similarly, there are members of the Knesset who say that they will never accept anything less than the total expulsion ("transfer") of all Palestinians to neighboring Arab states.

Israel seeks to wipe out Hamas. But even if it killed every one of Hamas' twenty-thousand members in Gaza, it would not extinguish the impulse toward Islamic fundamentalism that Hamas represents. Surely Israelis by now know that killing only creates new generations of angry people who will be the next wave of terrorists. So what does Israel really seek? Probably it hopes to make Hamas so powerless that it loses the election against Fatah, and then the Palestinian Authority, itself deeply weakened by Israel's ongoing occupation, will negotiate a peace treaty that creates a "Palestinian state" that is actually a series of cantons or little separated city-states that are themselves cut off from each other by Israeli roads and military--in short a Palestinian state that will be neither economically nor politically viable. Then Israel can claim to have "given" the Palestinians "waht they want," and meanwhile Israel will retain its settlements throughout the West Bank and continue de facto control. Yet this will not generate long-term peace, but only a temporary rest in the fighting. Only a fully just settlement that allows Palestinians a real state that incorporates all of the West Bank and Gaza (with minor border modifications as detailed in the Geneva Accord of 2003) and that provides real compensation for Palestinian refugees, and a state created in a spirit of generosity and genuine caring on the part of Israel, will end the violence and provide Israel with lasting safety.

Let me be clear. I hate Hamas and everything it stands for. I want to see it defeated. But that defeat can only happen politically through isolation, not militarily through slaughter. The way to defeat Hamas is through meeting the legitimate needs of the Palestinian people and doing so in a spirit of genuine caring, in which the Jews of the world and the ISraeli people show that they recognize Palestinians as our brothers and sisters, made in God's image and equally precious to God as the Jewish people. In short, by Jews taking seriously our reliance on God and God's message that the world should be based on love, generosity, caring, kindness, and compassion. In short, a reversal of the reliance on power that has not brought Israel safety or security, and a trust in the fundamental decency of the majority of Palestinians. This is what it would mean for Jews to take seriously our own Judaism and manifest it in a Jewish state.

How do we get out of these dynamics that lead to the current situation in which a small number of Israelis and a huge number of Palestinians are killed or maimed?

The first step is for the world to demand an immediate ceasefire. That ceasefire should be imposed by the United Nations and backed unequivocally by the US. Its terms must include the following:

A. Hamas stops all firing of missiles, bombs, or any other violent action originating from the West Bank or Gaza, and cooperates in actively jailing anyone from any faction that attempts to break this ceasefire from territory controlled by Hamas;

B. Israel stops all bombing, targeted assassinations, or any other violent actions aimed at activists, militants, or suspected terrorists in the West Bank or Gaza, and uses the full force of its army to prevent any further attacks on Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, including Hebron, from any Israeli citizen or anyone based in territory under the effective control of Israel;

C. Israel opens the border with Gaza and allows free access to and from Israel by Gazans and Palestinians, subject only to full search and seizure of any weapons. Israel allows free travel of food, gas, electricity, water, and consumer goods and materials including from land, air, and sea, subject only to full search and seizure of any weapons or materials typically used for weapons;

D. Israel agrees to release all Palestinians held in detention with or without trial or in prison and to return those Palesitnians to the West Bank or Gaza according to the choice of the detainees or prisoners. Hamas agrees to release Gilad Shalit and anyone else being held involuntarily by Palestinian forces;

E. Both sides agree to invite an international force to implement these agreements;

F. Both sides agree to end teaching and/or advocacy of violence against the other side in and outside mosques, educational institutions, the press, the media, etc;

G. This cease-fire is agreed to for the next twenty years. NATO, the UN, and the US all agree to enforce this agreement and impose severe sanctions on either side should either be determined to be in violation of the conditions.

These steps would make a huge difference by isolating the most radical members of each side from the mainstream, making it possible to begin negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people on a much broader and deeper set of issues.

The basic condition for creating peace is to help each side feel “safe” enough to ignore those within their own community who claim that peace is impossible and that no one cares about the safety of “the Jews,” or “the Palestinians.” A first and critical step is to speak in a language that is empathic toward the suffering of each people. Rather than try to prove that the Palestinians are “nothing but” terrorists or that Zionism is nothing but an elaborate scheme for continuing and escalating Western colonialism and imperialism, we must create a climate of discourse in which both sides’ stories are genuinely heard and undertstood. I’ve done this last part in my book Healing Israel/Palestine (North Atlantic Books, 2003).

Yet Israel, as the militarily superior power, ought to take the first steps to end this conflict once and for all. It could do that at any time by making the following moves:

1. Implementing a massive Marshall Plan in Gaza and in the West Bank to end poverty and unemployment, rebuild all that has been destroyed of the Palestinian infrastructure, and encourage investment in a new Palestinian economy;

2. Dismantle the settlements or tell the settlers unequivocally that they must become citizens of a Palestinian state, live by its laws, face charges if their settlements were constructed on land stolen from Palestinians, and that they will not be able to count on Israel to protect them;

3. Accept 30,000 Palestinian refugees back into Israel each year for the next thirty, a number that would not seriously endanger the population balance, apologize for its role in the 1948 expulsions of Palestinians (known as al Naqba), and offer to coordinate a worldwide effort to raise funds to compensate Palestinians for all that they lost during the Occupation (at least to those living in poverty--and conversely, there should be reparations to Jews who fled Arab lands, at least to those who are todaly living in poverty).

4. Recognize a Palestinian state within borders already defined by the Geneva Accord of 2003.

This is the only way Israel will ever achieve security. It is the only way to permanently defeat Hamas and all extremists who wish to see endless war against Israel. But it won’t happen until there is a massive shift in understanding about what promotes “security.”

Israelis have bought into a worldview about security that predominates in much of the world and is the central principle of American foreign policy: “homeland security can only be achieved by domination, either military, economic or diplomatic, of all those who might be potential adversaries.” It was this strategy of domination that led the US into the war in Iraq and that still leads some Obama advisers to believe that it would be wise to shift the focus of that war to Afghanistan and/or Pakistan. Yet the strategy of domination does not and cannot work in the 21st century.

The most significant contribution the new Obama Administration could make to Middle East Peace would be to embrace an alternative strategy: that homeland security is best achieved through generosity and caring for others. If the US were to announce its embrace of a Global Marshall Plan, beginning with the Middle East and backed up with money and the conscious articulation of a Strategy of Generosity, it would do more to help Israel than all the armaments it can promise and all the shuttle diplomacy it might facilitate. If this new way of thinking could become a major part of US policy, it would have an immense impact on undermining the fearful consciousness of Israelis who still see the world more through the frame of the Holocaust than through the frame of their actual present power in the world.

Meanwhile, it breaks my heart to see the terrible suffering in Gaza and Israel, as it does when witnessing the suffering brought to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Darfur—and the list goes one. For me as a religious Jew it is all the worse, because under the guise of serving God, both Jews and Arabs are actually acting out their accumulated pain in ways that will generate future suffering. At the same time Jews in the US who yearn to justify Israel’s actions only confirm to many young Jews that there is no place for them in the Jewish world if they hold a normal ethical sensibility, and further confirms to me how easy it is to pervert the loving message of Judaism into a message of hatred and domination. So I remain in mourning for the Jewish people, for Israel, and for the world.

Tags: afghanistan, Judaism, foreign policy, gaza, geneva accord, hamas, iraq war, israel, middle east, obama administration, pakistan, palestine,

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, a prominent progressive Jewish and interfaith magazine and chair of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives.
Lerner has been described as "a prophetic voice" by the New York Times, Cornel West of Princeton, Jim Wallis of Sojourners, and the most recent of his 11 books, the New York Times bestseller The Left Hand of God, has been lauded by the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, and by Karen Armstrong, George Lakoff, Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman and Howard Zinn. Lerner has been one of the most prominent Jewish voices in opposition to the war in Iraq and in critiquing Israeli policy toward Palestinians. He is rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco.

Copyright © 2005 Tikkun Magazine. Tikkun® is a registered trademark.
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Saturday, January 3, 2009

KT by-election - you can help too

Please read the excellent article by our true hero RPK: The dark horse of Kuala Terengganu

RPK: 8 March 2008 was one message we sent Barisan Nasional. The Permatang Pauh by-election was the second message. But both messages fell on deaf ears. So we must, yet again, send them another message. And this message must be to deny them the Kuala Terengganu seat. And we have to keep sending messages as long as they remain deaf. That is the only way and no other way.

To those who wish to donate to the Kuala Terengganu by-election effort you can bank in the money to the following bank account:

Tabung Dana Pilihanraya
CIMB Islamic
Bank account number: 1449-0000017-10-4

I just banked in RM 50 as a humble token of my appreciation the sacrifices made by the Malaysia-Today guys and the many good leaders in Pakatan Rakyat. I am always with you guys in spirit, and I am glad that I can contribute some substance.

Let this election be a demonstration of the power of unity. Let this be a demonstration that humble unity of the people can trounce the big-gun heartless, soulless and murderous political machinery.