Sunday, April 30, 2006

Its elections in Singapore - and Kuan Yew is still in-charge

It is elections in Singapore this week-end. And it is also '' I will sue you'' time. The oppostiion talks and the Lees filed lawsuits against them. It is normal in modern, sophisticated and westernised Singa-po-rah.

Once again the mighty Lee Kuan-yew is in charge. In the early days of the tiny island republic, he was at the steering wheel as the prime minister, after handing over the baton to his prodigy Goh Chok-tong, he was holding the big stick as senior minister and now, when the baton is held by his son, Hsien-loong he is holding a cane and a big stick as minister mentor - what will he think of next.

Why...? Because he is the super-power in Singapore and is the one firmly in-charge.

That reminds me of a story told some years back when I was residing on employment pass in Singapore. It goes like this.

An American tourist was visiting a temple in Singapore's China Town when he noticed two statues of a man and a woman by the altar.

He asked the monk what was the significance of the two. The monk explained that in Chinese system of 'yin' and 'yang', positives must always be balanced by negatives, and having the two statues ensured that the universal balance was maintained.

'This statue of the woman is the Goddess of Mercy, or Kuan-yin,' the monk said.

'What about the other one?' asked the tourist.

In a hushed voice, the monk said: 'This one is the God of No Mercy.'

'What do you call him in Chinese?' asked the tourist.

The monk looked around and quietly replied 'Kuan-yew'.

Now you know why Singapore is such a 'fine' city state.

Malaysians should have the services of some one like the God of No Mercy to preserve and protect out natural resources such as the rain-forests, the rivers, the hills, the mangroves and the entire environment.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

US-led war against terror creates terror

The American-led war against terror has not only fallen far short of its objectives but has also fuelled terror across the globe. The reason that the US-led fight against what it termed as 'terrorism' has made little headway despite having spent more than four years and tens of billions of dollars around the world is that the strategy behind the campaign failed to add the human element to their calculations.

Poverty, unemployment and frustration stemming from denial of social justice are some of the reasons that lead to senseless actions that caused terror and chaos. The world was much safer before George W. Bush unilaterally decided to attack, destroyed and occupied Iraq with the support of his English poodle Tony Blair and later his Australian wallaby John Howard.

Before the US-led occupation, Iraqis were blessed with ample fresh water, enough food, electricity, fuel, freedom (yes with some restrictions), education and law and order. Look at present-day Iraq... this is what the promised freedom and democracy is all about if it was forced upon you by superbullies like the US and its so-called allies.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Dr M and the bridge that fails to stand

I do not understand why former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad goes all out to defend his decision, I mean 'his decision' because it was agreed unanimously by his Cabinet, to replace the Causeway with a bridge. Most of the ministers who had agreed to the project are now serving under present PM Abdullah Badawi and did an about turn to support Abdullah's decision to cancel the project.

In the Mahathir era, it was Mahathir's decision which would be endorsed by the Cabinet. You can say it is a 'Yes Sir Cabinet! It is more or less the same Cabinet and are they dancing to the tune of Cinta Sayang or Boria Kepala Batas.

Mahathir's spat with the government, the same government now led by his appointed successor, is over the government's decision to scrap the building of a bridge to replace the Causeway. But why? Is it because of self reputation, dignity or recalcitrant?

For what ever reasons, the government's decision, whether you like or not, should be respected. I salute Abdullah for the wise decision to scrap the project, after getting the proper legal advice from the Attorney General's Department. Mahathir should respect the decision and stop interfering.

I will not go into details out of respect for Dr Mahathir. I do not like what is going on. Others are laughing at us.


(The lamp-post climbing pig-tailed macaque is, hopefully, mature enough to realise the danger of doing so!)

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin says the thinking of Malaysians had yet to reach the level of maturity as those in the West. So, it is not the time yet to invite oppostition Members of Parliament (MPs) to give their views on the national tube.

'It is a long way to go, it is not the time yet. We have to democratise them first, then only they will not think in terms of race,' he said when winding-up the debates on the Ninth Malaysia Plan for his ministry in Parliament today (Thursday, 27 April).

Teresa Kok, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) representative for Seputeh constituency complained that Radio-Television Malaysia's 'Parlimen Hari Ini' programme on RTM1 had only invited government MPs to give their views.

'Our speeches are not quoted or aired. That is why many people do not watch (view) RTM programmes. It is biased. It is a government organ. It should take the example of BBC, a television station which belongs to the government but still respects the principle of democracy,' said Kok.

However, ex-journalist Zainuddin or ZAM, replied that Malaysians were still thinking a lot along racial lines, unlike the audience in the UK (United Kingdom) or Europe.

What can I say..., I am ashamed to be told by none other than the information minister, who I believed is well informed, that I am still not as mature in thinking as those in the West. I say 'I' because if a man who is 57 years old is not yet mature, what about those who are much younger, nearly half the population of Malaysia.

When are we going to grow up and face the reality of life, I would say political reality....hopefully it is not too late.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Memories of Penang's Malay Town

(PIX: Sharifah Salmiah binti Syed Ali bin Syed Abdul Hamid bin Syed Abdul Rahman bin Tengku Syed Hussein Idid (1873-1958)- great grand-daughter of the founder of Malay Mosque, Acheen Street, Penang and great grand-mother of the Blogger).

When Capt Francis Light of the East India Company (EIC)set up the first British trading post in the Far East, that is in Penang in 1786, he wooed Tengku Syed Hussein Idid, an Arab from Aceh, to move to Penang to help spur on the island's economic growth.

Tengku Syed Hussein was the grandson of the Sultan of Aceh and a successful and influential trader. Syed Hussein set up his trading post and settlement fronting the sea. The settlement was recognised as the first township in Penang and was referred to as the Malay Town or Malay enclave.

His standing as a seasoned trader with a vast trading network influenced others, especially Arabs in the Malay archipelago, to migrate to Penang. By 1803, the Malay Town covered Acheen Street (Lebuh Aceh), Malay Street, Armenian Street and parts of Carnavon Street and Beach Street.

Syed Hussein and his clan moved to Penang in 1792 and Francis Light granted him exemption from English laws. It was recognised as the first instance that the colonial administration allowed the Muslim community in the Malay peninsula to practice the Islamic Law (Sharia) but with a condition that no capital punishment should be imposed. Aceh continued to be the source of much Arab immigration to Penang, which accelerated during the 19th century disturbances there.

By his will dated 1820, Syed Hussein created the wakaf for the Malay Mosque or Masjid Melayu which was constructed around 1800. The land comprises Lot 200 Town Subdivision XXII. Apart from the mosque, a total of 16 houses were erected namely houses nos 103, 105, 107, 113, 115 and 117 Chulia Street and nos 49, 55, 57, 59, 77, 79, 81, 81A, B and C Acheen Street. During the Aceh wars of 1870s, the Malay Mosque became one of the focal points of the resistance against the Dutch.

Syed Hussein was also responsible for the construction of Penang's tallest building (at that time and for several decades) - a four-storey house-cum-godown at the junction of Beach Street and Acheen Street, later known as Gedung Aceh, a local landmark which still stands today and referred to as "Rumah Tinggi" or Tall House.

The surrounding area of the Malay Mosque became the Arab quarter in Georgetown and remained so until the mid-20th century. The well known Islamic educational institution, Madrasatul Mashoor Al-Islamiah was established at the Arab quarter in 1916, then known as Madrasatul Al-Quran and its first teacher was Syed Abdul Rahman bin Sheikh Alhabshee, an Arab from Solo, Indonesia and father of the late Tan Sri Syed Abbas Alhabshee of Penang.

It was founded by seven Arabs namely Syed Mohdar Aidid, Syed Omar Almahdar, Syed Omar Alsagoff, Sheikh Hassan Albaghdadi, Sheikh Ali Bawazir, Sheikh Zakaria Basheer and Sheikh Muhammad Alhasawi. So, why it was later named "Almashoor" since no one from the Almashoor family was involved in the setting up of the school? Well it was named after Ayid Mashoor by Syed Sheikh Alhadi when he headed the school. Who is Ayid Mashoor? He was Syed Sheikh's father-in-law Syed Ahmad Almashoor, the penghulu of Jelutong and leader of the Muslim community respected by the British colonial masters.

Several years after Malaysia was formed, the school was taken over by the Education Ministry and is known today as Sekolah Menengah (Agama) Almashoor.

Since the early 19th century, Penang has been the transit point for the Haj pilgrimage to Makkah. The management of the pilgrims was started by one Pak Mas'um Mandailing. He was the first pilgrim agent or broker which were referred to as "Sheikh Haji" and the centre was Kampung Melayu Lebuh Aceh (Malay Town). The haj agency business survived up to the 1970s and became history when the government established the Tabung Haji (Pilgrims Fund and Management Board) to handle the annual pilgrimage.

With the demise of the "Sheikh Haji" and the "kapal haji" replaced by passenger jets, Kampung Melayu Lebuh Aceh suffered. One by one, its residents left in search of greener pasteurs.

The Penang State Government is keeping its fingers crossed anxiously awaiting the outcome of its submission to UNESCO to name part of old Georgetown and most of Kampung Melayu Lebuh Aceh as a world heritage.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Islam is "in perfect dynamism" with democracy

(Pix: Putrajaya Mosque - from across the Putrajaya Lake)

Islam is "in perfect dynamism" with democracy and human rights, according to a recent study conducted for the Dutch government, Zaman Online reported.

After three years of research, the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) in the Netherlands concluded that Islam neither conflicts with democracy, nor human rights nor Dutch values.

The WRR report, titled "Dynamism in Islamic activism", said that European countries must support the Islamic movements that embrace democracy, like the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

It also recommended that Europe communicates with and offers aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

"Contrary to the common belief, Islam has no problem accepting democracy and human rights...Instead of exporting democracy to Muslim countries, democratic attempts harmonious with their own traditions and cultures must be supported," the Council advised European governments in its report.

The study, which also covered the Islamic movement in Europe, said that tensions between Muslim countries and the West are mainly caused by a lack of communication and dialogue.

"This study is indeed a step towards opening a more serious dialogue with Islam and curbing extremism irrespective of its source," said Marzouk Abdullah Awlad, professor of Islamic Studies in the Amsterdam Free University.

"Islam is a religion that interacts with its surrounding environment and adapts with different circumstances with no complications," he added.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The concept of Islam Hadhari is not new

Islam Hadhari, introduced by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as an approach that emphasises development, consistent with the tenets of Islam and which focused on enhancing the quality of life, is not something new.

A similar approach was introduced some 600 years ago by Wali al-Din Abdal Rahman bin Mohamad bin Abi Bakar Mohamad bin al-Hassan or better known as Ibn Khaldun, one of the most prominent figures of Arab-Muslim culture.

Ibn Khaldun, universally recognised as the founder and father of Sociology and Sciences of History, wrote about it in his most famous work "Muqaddimah" or "Prolegomena".

Here in Malaysia, Abdullah said his concept aims to achieve its targets via the mastery of knowledge and the development of the individual and the nation; the implementation of a dynamic economic, trading and financial system; an integrated and balanced development that creates a knowledgeable and pious people who hold to noble values and are honest, trustworthy, and prepared to take on global challenges.

Ibn Khaldun's unique approach and original contribution, which became a masterpiece in literature on philosophy of history and sociology, was aimed at identifying psychological, economic, environmental and social facts that contribute to the advancement of human civilization and the currents of history. In this context, he analysed the dynamics of group relationships and showed how group-feelings, al-Asabiya, give rise to the ascent of a new civilization and political power and how, later on, its diffusion into a more general civilization invites the advent of a still new "Asabiya in its pristine form. He identified an almost rhythmic repetition of rise and fall in human civilization, and analysed factors contributing to it.

Unlike most earlier writers interpreting history largely in a political context, Ibn Khaldun's emphasised environmental, sociological, psychological and ecoomic factors governing the apparent events. All these were written 600 years ago by this great man born in Tunisia in 1332 C.E.

Ibn Khaldun's great contributions in history, philosophy of history, sociology, political science and education have remained dominant and significant ever since his life. His books have been translated into many languages, both in the East and the West, and have inspired other figures to develop these sciences and add to them.

Abdullah's principles of Islam Hadhari namely faith and piety in Allah; a just and trustworthy government; a free and independent people; mastery of knowlkedge; balanced and comprehensive economic development, a good quality of life; protection of the rights of minority groups and women; cultural and moral integrity; safeguarding the environment; and strong defences -- all if not most of them - were mentioned in Ibn Khaldun's "Muqaddimah".

Monday, April 17, 2006

Israel is a real threat to peace

Israel has the most advanced nuclear weapons program in the Middle East. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, clandestinely established the program in the late 1950s to meet the perceived existential threat to the nascent state. It was a well known fact to Britain and United States who are now threatening sanctions and nuclear attacks on Iran.

Israel's nuclear program is centred at the Negev Research Centre, outside the town of Dimona. Based on estimates of the plutonium production capacity of the Dimona reactor, Israel has approximately 100-200 nuclear explosive devices, according to Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Officially, Israel has declared that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East; however, it has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Israel's possession of nuclear weapons and its policy of declaratory ambiguity have led to increased tensions in current Middle East peace discussions and arms control negotiations.

Israel's neighbouring states allege that the Jewish state also has an offensive biological weapons (BW) program, but there are no reliable sources on specific biological agents the Israelis may possess. Reportedly, Israel specialised military units sabotaged water wells with typhoid and dysentery bacteria in Acre (near Haifa), Palestine during the 1948 war, but evidence of such events is fragmentary.

Speculation that the program is located at the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) in Nes Ziona has raised both international and domestic concerns. Activists within the Israeli community have recently protested the expansion of the Institute due to reports, denied by Israeli officials, of multiple injuries and deaths within the facility and one near-evacuation of the surrounding area. Israel is not a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).

While there are allegations that Israel has an advanced chemical weapons (CW) program, no confirmed evidence of production or stockpiling exists. Some reports have suggested an offensive CW program is located at the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Ziona. In October 1992, an El Al airliner carrying a cargo of approximately 50 gallons of dimethyl methylphosphonate (a widely used simulant for defensive research but also a possible precursor of sarin nerve agent) destined for the Institute crashed in Amsterdam. Israel stated that this material was being imported to test gas masks. Israel has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Israel's missile program began in the 1960s and it has a varied missile industry, having developed ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as missile defence systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Israel supplied similar defence systems to the Singapore Air Force.

The Jericho ballistic missiles series was initiated in the 1960s with French assistance, beginning with the short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) Jericho-1 with a 500 km range. In the 1970s, Israel developed the intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) Jericho-2, a two-stage , solid-fueled missile with a range of 1,500 to 3,500 km. There are some unconfirmed reports that suggest the existence of a 4,000 km-range Jericho-3 missile that may stem from Israel's space launch vehicle, the Shavit. Israel has also developed, with U.S. financial asisstance, the Arrow theater defence missile, which has become one of the only functioning missile defence systems in the world. Israel has recently reported to have successfully tested the Arrow-2 anti-ballistic missile system, as well as new long-range guided missiles.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fight political corruption instead of hitting at civil servants

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi was right, although not 100 per cent, when he described a handful of civil servants who throw their weight around, impede progress and find pleasure in giving members of the public the turnaround - as "little Napoleans."

I said handful because the vast majority of civil servants are loyal, honest and dedicated "public officers". Yes, there are rotten apples but they are in the minority, in fact too small compared to the number of civil servants.

There are heads of department and officials who delayed giving approvals or who sat on files but the PM failed to mention that most of them are fed-up with "political pressures" and resort to such tactic in protest.

Being a former civil servant, Abdullah was quick to say that he was not painting all civil servants with the same brush, but there were a few who behaved that way. Yes only a few and we must be fair to the vast majority.

After having served the government for some 33 years in various capacities, I am aware of the never ending political pressures faced by civil servants involved in implementing, approving or selecting of tender awards for development projects, approval of permits and licences, awarding of scholarships and educational loans, etc etc. They would receive introductionary notes, letters of support, and recommendations from ministers, chief ministers, political secretaries, leaders of political parties in support of their "people" or "political supporters". Some tender documents are even submitted via the minister's office.

It is high time for the PM to put a stop to this political abuse. Let the civil servants discharge their duties as entrusted to them.

Nowdays there are too many people who, no sooner than they get into positions of trust, start at once to think of amassing wealth, forgetting completely their oath of allegiance and their duties to the people (the voters) and the country. Sooner or later they will find themselves in trouble. And in respect of some young political leaders poison-pen letters are being circulated giving details, rightly or wrongly, true or fictional, about their misdeeds and the wealth they amass.

Yes, politics is a game of life, no less providential and God-sent than other fine professional careers, as once stated by our beloved Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, the founding father of modern Malaysia.

Very much depends on how one plays politics, and where one plays it. Different situations in different countries with peoples of different temperament require different tactics. In Malaysia, as in most of the so-called democracies of the world, political corruption are more powerful and dangerous than the Napoleans, the Rasputins and the Shylocks.

Friday, April 14, 2006

ZAM and the NST

I was asked by a friend to comment on the visit by Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin (ZAM) to the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) group office in Bangsar yesterday. I told him there is nothing much to say but he insisted that something is wrong since the top two editorial leaders were absent.

The visit was the second officially by the ex-journalist-turned-politician after he was elevated to a full minister. The first visit was to the Mandarin language newspaper, Sin Chew Jit Poh.

When Zainuddin was appointed Senator (a member of the upper house of Parliament) on the recommendation of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he proudly told his peers and friends that he was not interested to be an elected member of Parliament but look at him today. The taste of political power and the good life is hard to reject.

I could understand why NSTP deputy chairman-cum-editorial-advisor Kalimullah Hassan did not turn up to greet ZAM. Kali is a non-executive board member and he was not invited by the group CEO Syed Faisal Albar to do so. But, Hishamuddin Aun and his deputy Brendan Pereira should be there. By the way, both are appointees of Kali.

It is against the Malay custom for the hosts not to be there in person to greet his guest and the guest is none other than the information minister, a representative of the government.

It was stated by the CEO that the duo had an earlier appointment with education minister Hishamuddin Hussein and the task of greeting the minister on behalf of NST went to my good friend the deputy group editor, Syed Nadzri Syed Harun.

As a Malay, Hishamuddin should be there to greet ZAM and let Brendan went to see the education minister. I strongly believed that ZAM would not miss Brendan.

Although ZAM said that he was not upset or sore, but deep inside... I am sure he was very upset. He is, whether you like it or not, the information minister.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Is the Cabinet above Parliament?

(L to R: Rais, Abdullah Badawi and Isa Samad donning the Baju Melayu)

The recent controversy over the so-called "alternative dress" worn by Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister, Rais Yatim, when he attended Parliament sitting prompted me to ponder whether the Cabinet is above Parliament.

As far as I am aware, it is not so. Cabinet ministers are not above Parliament and are subjected to the rules and regulations including the dress code when attending Parliament sittings.

So, it is correct for members of Parliament to raise the issue of Rais wearing the alternative dress instead of either a full suit or the Baju Melayu. It was fortunate that Speaker Ramli Ngah Talib "defended" Rais by saying that he gave permission to the minister to wear the said dress. But, as usual, Rais gave "questionable" comments outside Parliament. He accused Backbenchers Club chairman Shahrir Samad as seeking "cheap publicity" when the Johor Baru MP brought up the issue.

Rais could be the one seeking publicity, cheap or otherwise, when he attended Parliament sitting by donning the alternative dress knowing that it was not yet approved by the Speaker. To be a minister, one must either be a member of the upper house (Dewan Negara) or the lower house (Dewan Rakyat), and are subjected to the dress code and up to now, the alternative dress is not allowed to be worn in Parliament.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, headed by a paramount ruler and a bicameral Parliament consisting of a nonelected upper house and an elected lower house.

There are three branches under the separation of powers, namely:-

1. The Executive (Cabinet/Government headed by the Prime Minister),
2. Legislative branch (Parliament headed by the President of the Senate), and
3. The Judiciary branch (Federal Court headed by the Chief Justice).

If the Cabinet decided to allow the alternative dress, it is not binding to Parliament or the Judiciary, it is only binding to the members of the administration and the civil service. Parliamentarians and Judges have their own dress code.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Every year, when the Islamic month of Rabiulawal comes around once again, bringing in its train the night of the 12th, it seems to us as if the whole world is perfumed by the memory of the birth of the Final Messenger, may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him.

Countless millions of Muslims in every corner of the earth fix their thoughts on his birth, by re-reading his biography (eg Marhaban, and reading the various Maulid texts) and learning from unique values and qualities.

Of late in Malaysia, some quarters influenced by the Wahhabis, are questioning the celebration of Maulidur-Rasul, as it is known in the Malay world. They claimed that it is an act of innovation or bida'a. Various publications filled with lies and deception which misled many Muslims into thinking negatively about the Maulid.

Their claims are far from the truth, and it is therefore necessary for those who can speak clearly to help clarify and reverse the doubts surrounding this most blessed day.

Should we celebrate Maulid? YES WE SHOULD CELEBRATE IT EVERY YEAR.

Sheikh Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani, the commentator on Al Bukhari, said, "Anything that did not exist during the Prophet's time is called innovation, but some are good while others are not."

Imam Albayhaqi narrated in Manaqib Ash-Shafie that Ash-Shafie said, "Innovations are of two types: that which contradicts the Qur'an, the Sunnah, or unanimous agreement of the Muslims is a innovation of deception, while a good innovation does not contradict any of these things."

Al'Izz bin Abussalam said, at the end of his book, Al Qawa'id, "Innovation is divided into obligatory, forbidden, recommended, disagreeable and permissible, and the way to know which is which is to match it against the religious law."

It is cristal clear that from the opinions of these righteous scholars, that to define innovations in worship as wholly negative without exception is ignorant. For these pious knowers, among them Imam Nawawi and Ash-Shafie, declared that innovations could be divided into good and bad, based on their compliance or deviance with religious law.

Moreover, the following Prophetic saying is known even to common Muslims, let alone scholars: "He who inaugurates a good practice (sunnatun hasana) in Islam earns the reward of it, and of all who perform it after him, without diminishing their own rewards in the least." Therefore it is permissible for a Muslim to originate a good practice, even if the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) did not do it, for the sake of doing good and cultivating the reward.

The meaning of a good practice (sanna sunnatun hasana) is to establish a practice through personal reasoning (ijtihad) and derivation (istinbat) from the rules of religious law ot its general texts. The actions of the Prophet's companions and the generation following them (in celebrating Maulid) is the strongest evidence.

Furthermore, that the Prophet and his companions did not do a certain thing does not mean they made that thing prohibited. Therefore, whoever prohibits anything based on the concept that the Prophet did not do it, his claim has no proof and must be rejected.

Let us join millions of our Muslim brothers and sisters all over the world to celebrate Maulid (12 rabiulawal/April 11 in Malaysia).

May the blessings of Allah be upon you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Straw and Rice on suspicious visit to Iraq

The unexpected and suspicious visit to Iraq by United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; three years after the illegal invasion and occupation, seeking the formation of a united government as both claimed, demonstrates the failure of the occupation forces to install what it said was its mission, democracy and freedom.

I cannot help but notice that "straw" and "rice" are united again. "Rice" is the product of "paddy" after it was separated from "straw".

Straw and Rice's visit to Baghdad this week, only proves the failure of the Iraqi elections both countries hailed as successful.

Three years after international warlord George Bush gave the green light to invaders to attack Iraq and "save" the nation from the hands of Saddam Hussein, should now be flourishing as a solid, stable and peaceful democracy. But that is not the case in Iraq. It is much worst than when Iraq was under Saddam.

Before she flew to Baghdad from London, Rice admitted that the U.S. had committed "thousands of tactical errors" regarding its policy in Iraq. But Rice was dumb about the various human rights abuses by US and UK forces, murders of men, women and children, rapes of Iraqi girls and other religious crimes.

The longer British and American forces remain in Iraq, the greater the political, military and human catastrophe will be.

Khairy Jamaluddin in the news again

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin received rare support from government backbenchers in Parliament today. It is not important whether the support was sincere or just plain shadow play or wayang kulit in Malay.

According to Bernama, the national news agency, the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) saw heated debate when several backbenchers voiced their displeasure over what they felt were uncalled for remarks made by opposition leader Lim Kit Siang in the house last Monday against Khairy.

It is normal, I may add, of Umno politicians to "pretend" to support Khairy "openly" but behind the shadow play screen, they would criticice and condemned the poor lad. But in the act of political survival, they would support and acted as good friends of Khairy. Some even invited Khairy to officiate their official functions although he is a nobody in the government administration. This is the reality of Umno politics.

In the Dewan Rakyat, one Umno politician claimed that Kit Siang had accused Khairy of being a mastermind and the like, but Kit Siang denied the accusation saying that he had only referred to a recent article by the Umno Youth vice-head in the New Straits Times newspaper.

"I did not mention that he is a mastermind. I just said stop the gravy train. He had talked about a "leakage" of 10 per cent. If the government is going to spend RM220 billion on development under the 9MP (9th Malaysia Plan), the 10 per cent will amount to RM22 billion. But the "leakage" is actually 30 per cent," Kit Siang said.

Meanwhile, Khairy is said to be eyeing the vice-presidency (VP) of Umno (United Malays National Organisation), the political party headed by Abdullah. The vice-presidency is a stepping stone for aspiring Malay politicians to be the leader of Umno and eventually the prime ministership, if the Barisan Nasional coalition-government is still enjoying popular support. At present there are only two elected VPs, federal cabinet minsiter Muhyiddin Yassin from Johor and Ali Rustam, the chief minister of Melaka state. The other VP Isa Samad was forced to resign after he was found guilty of engaging in money politics (political corruption) by the party's disciplinary board. Both Isa and Khairy are from Negri Sembilan state.

Do not be surprised to note that Umno politicians will come out with statements supporting Khairy to contest the vice-presidency of Umno. The support is nothing more than acts of political survival - another round of shadow play and the Tok Dalang or puppeteer is Khairy himself.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Villa Alhabshee, Bujang Valley, Kedah

Believe it or not! These are photos of Villa Alhabshee, the residence of the late Tan Sri Syed Abbas Alhabshee, in the Mukim of Semeling, Bujang Valley, Kedah.