Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ibans Begin to Resist

Land-grabbing in Sarawak is getting out of hand. Three hundred residents from the 60-door Rumah Umpolin in Ulu Niah were issued with a 14-day eviction notice. The order to move out of their more than 40-year-old homes by June 26 to enable oil palm company Medan Mestika – a subsidiary of WTK, that is linked to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud – to usurp their farmlands without offering a single ringgit for compensation.

This has caused alarm and anger among the natives.The soon-to-be-displaced Ibans have now declared “war” on the “enemy” (i.e. Medan Mestika). They have also begun a non-stop Miring ceremony at their longhouse to prevent any disruption of their homes. The ceremony included the slaughter of two pigs and feasting was offered to friendly onlookers, including reporters.

According to the Sarawak Report on June 26, 2012, villagers had strung up traditional amulets and talismen that cursed anyone who dared to enter with instant death. Laid out on the ground were sinister skulls and symbols, ancient signs of spiritual evocations. I read that dangerous, ancient ghosts have now been summoned from their graves to launch against the enemy, in this case the drivers of the modern bulldozers expected at any minute.

If land-grabbers persist to take over native lands with the connivance of local authorities, it is a matter of time before Sarawakian natives will find themselves becoming squatters in their own state.

Given this gutsy challenge, the eyes of many in Sarawak and elsewhere are likely to remain on this defiant little community and to watch how they fare against Taib’s bulldozing business cronies. It is not the sort of resistance Taib’s tycoons have been used to up to now. But maybe times are changing in Sarawak. Maybe, the Ibans are ready to fight back.

And that is what Germany didn’t do well in their Euro 2012 game against Italy! Yup, they lost 1-2 and exited from the competition.

Summoning Spider-Man

How unsafe is Malaysia? It’s not just the public who worry about their safety. Even security guards have become victims. Just consider the suburban neighborhood of middle class Subang Jaya. According to a post on the community portal SJAlert, USJ guard Lal Bahadur was attacked by unknown men during his night patrol in Jalan USJ2/4S. A similar incident happened in SS12 last Wednesday when another guard was assaulted along SS12/3A.

Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh said the increasing crime rate in Subang Jaya was no longer just a perception. “It is very scary when guards are being attacked and this is a repeat incident. There have been several break-ins and robberies in USJ2 and I have also been getting reports on increasing crime in PJS9 in adjoining Bandar Sunway” (The Star, Metro, June 29, 2012, p 06).

If the police cannot stop crime and Batman does not respond, can Spider-Man give us a helping hand?

Fellow Toastmaster and friend Jacy Wee uploaded this humorous speech (titled “Local English") – I am sharing it with other Toastmasters who are intending to participate in this year’s edition of the Humorous Speech Contest:

Friday, June 29, 2012

Students Instructed to Show Support for Najib

Pathetic. MCA-owned Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman had “instructed” students to wear red (UMNO’s color) when welcoming the Prime Minister who visited this tertiary institution on Wednesday. For ignorant Malaysians, they would have assumed that photos of the students seen wearing red (e.g the photo above) are a reflection of young people's support for UMNO-BN.

Of course, we all know that this is a dastardly and desperate method of giving the illusion that Najib Razak and his UMNO-BN are popular. Yet, among the vast sea of red – a handful of first-year students (some news reports gave the number as twenty) defiantly wore yellow, the trademark colour of electoral reform group Bersih that has come to be associated with dissent.

Sadly, except for those in yellow, the other "pendatang" KTAR students are more cattle than heroes!

Najib took the opportunity to earn brownie points when he announced that the college’s over 70 diploma and advanced diploma programs before 2008 would be given government recognition retrospectively, to which the students cheered – though I am not sure if they wildly cheered or merely mildly cheered! Congratulations to MCA because it took them more than ten years to finally get the government to give recognition. As a result, the qualifications could not be used for job applications in the civil service – until now, that is. MCA has shown that if they wait long enough, their lord and master (i.e. UMNO) will throw crumbs at them and they would be ever so grateful.

I was at KL’s Vistana to attend the Metro Toastmasters meeting last evening, where I was the evaluator for Maxson Chew’s third CC speech. There were supposed to be four speeches but it was down to two when the meeting got underway. This of course robbed other Toastmasters of the opportunity to speak – maybe, it may be a good idea to have back-up speakers in future, particularly if these withdrawals are fairly common – assuming of course that there are members in the queue, eagerly waiting for their turns to speak. Still, it was a satisfying meeting and I am giving it a score of a 7 out of a 10. And by the way, the meeting started four minutes late.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Meal of Genitals

My April 12, 2010 post – check out this intriguing link at – talked about a Beijing restaurant that serves genitals. But these are animal penises and testicles. If you think this is weird, then read about the grotesque story of a real screwy delicacy!

Mao Sugiyama, 22, a controversial Japanese artist apparently considers himself to be “asexual”. So in an insane moment of demented irrationality, he decided to relinquish his manhood and his penis and testicles were surgically removed and frozen sometime in March 2012.

Then on April 08, he tweeted: "[Please retweet] I am offering my male genitals (full penis, testes, scrotum) as a meal for 100,000 yen...Will prepare and cook as the buyer requests, at his chosen location." Not surprisingly, the story went viral in his homeland – but only five brave diners agreed to try the dish. Even so, it attracted scores of curious locals who attended the May 13 event but they fed themselves crocodile and beef instead.

Mao garnished slivers of the severed penis shaft, testicles and scrotal skin with parsley and mushrooms before serving it to the five willing customers at £160 (20,000 yen) a time.

In May 18 tweets, the artist had indicated that steps were taken to ensure the act met all relevant laws, including a ban on organ sales, processing of medical waste and even food sanitation requirements.

Police in Tokyo said they knew of the episode, but added that it had not broken the law as cannibalism was not illegal in Japan.

The Banning of a Book

Bookstore operator Berjaya Books on June 25 won leave for a judicial review against the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) for what it claims was ‘improper’ prosecution against an employee and illegal seizure of a controversial book before it was banned by the Home Ministry.

Berjaya owns Borders Bookstores, whose store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz was charged on June 19 in the Kuala Lumpur syariah court – she was alleged to have committed the offence of selling copies of a book by Canadian author Irshad Manji deemed to be against Islamic law (hukum syarak) and banned in Malaysia. JAWI enforcers had raided the bookstore at The Gardens Mall on May 23, 2012 and seized Manji’s book titled “Allah, Liberty and Love”.

This was so wrong because it was a blatant case of perversion in discharging a law that is repressive in the first place. For starters, Nik Raina was arrested on May 23 itself for having the banned book in her store; but the book was not banned until May 29. And JAWI is not some renegade department comprising of rabid Talibans – at least, not that I am aware of – but that it actually comes under the Prime Minister’s office. And yet no minister including Najib Razak has the moral courage to do the right thing and correct the injustice perpetrated by radical zealots who imperiously enforce an oppressive law in the name of religion.

Thumbs-up to Borders management for standing up for their employee! I don’t think many companies will do this – so I applaud them for doing the right thing.

I wonder where is Mohd Ali Baharom, the former soldier who led other old farts to do their butt exercise in front of Ambiga’s residence (My blog post dated May 16, 2012 titled “Veteran Soldiers Flaunt Their Behinds” refers). Hmmm, even Ibrahim Ali has been quiet of late. These ninnies should come out of the woodwork to uphold their religion. If Borders dared to question JAWI, was it not questioning Islam? And didn’t this mean that Islam was under attack? Well, there are sure to be those who will be convinced of this. If this is the case, then shouldn’t Perkasa or Perkida or any of the right-wing organizations mobilize their members to do butt excercises at every single Borders store in order to vent their fury at those who belittle Islam? Maybe this time, they shouldn’t be displaying their behinds. Maybe this time, they should be mooning instead.

The hearing date for the judicial review has been set for September 05, 2012.

Last evening, I decided to attend the Scope Toastmasters meeting. For some reason that I still do not understand, Scope suddenly came to mind on Tuesday and I made a beeline to go to Level 2 of Menara LYL in Petaling Jaya the following day. The last time I went to this same venue was August 18, 2010 and it was an uncool experience. But this time, I actually enjoyed the meeting very much. There were only ten of us – 4 members, 4 visiting Toastmasters and 2 non-Toastmasters – but by the time we got ready to disperse, there was this palpable satisfaction about the meeting.

This is another club in crisis. Dwindling membership, diminishing interest and declining relevance make it difficult for a club to continue to survive. Yet to the credit of the few members, they refused to surrender, to capitulate, to give up. And now with the heavy-duty support and encouragement from the incoming Area B5 Governor, Ng Sok Teng – officially, she’s not even in the job yet! – I know this club can rebound. I watched how this soft-spoken Toastmaster confidently restored members’ faith in themselves and the club. And I couldn’t help but notice that the members were galvanized to want to stay the course and start the formidable task of re-building. I too promised to help.

Anyway, even with a very modest attendance, it was a good meeting. And the two speeches and evaluations were skillfully delivered. An 8 out of a 10!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sorry, Batman's Busy!

Yesterday, Deputy Home Minister Abu Seman Yusop recited the weightless claim in Parliament that Malaysia had been acknowledged as one of the safest countries in the world by international bodies. On the same day at around 05:00 PM, Teo Kian Soon was shot in the right shoulder by one of two men on a motorcycle at a traffic light junction in Klang (The Malaysian Insider, June 27, 2012). And the day before – at about 11:15 PM – an attempted purse snatching occurred near The Curve at Mutiara Damansara (Facebook account of Dawn Jeremiah on June 26, 2012 – ‘X’ marks the spot where the incident took place – see above photo).

Sorry, folks! Batman is busy fighting Bane – he’s the latest villain in “The Dark Knight Rises”. So Hollywood successfully beckons Batman, not Kuala Lumpur!

Now, here’s an interesting anti-smoking commercial from Thailand – I hope more smokers see this!

Najib, the False Democrat

Canada’s The Globe and Mail had a June 08, 2012 piece on autocrats of the world, written by award-winning and Beijing-based Mark Mackinnon (Webpage In the article, Mackinnon categorizes autocrats into four groups – false democrats, mad egotists, violent populists and callous capitalists.

Our Najib Razak was put into the first category. I personally agree with this and if readers check out the write-up below – you may just agree with me!


Club members: Russian President Vladimir Putin; Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas; Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak; Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika; Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi; Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

Ex-members: Slobodan Milosevic; Hosni Mubarak

Key characteristics: They hold elections but have no intention of giving up power. Serious political rivals are jailed and their parties are outlawed on legal technicalities. Putin’s spin doctors call it “managed democracy” – giving voters the appearance of choice while ensuring they have very little to choose from on election day.

Reason for hope: Because they allow the trappings of democracy – opposition parties, some independent media, the very process of going through an election every few years – these false democracies create the possibility of change. Milosevic and Mubarak were ousted because citizens used the political space allowed them in a false democracy. Russia’s opposition has similarly been on the advance over the past seven months. The next election in Malaysia promises to be interesting.

Reason for despair: False democracies give the impression of being freer than they really are, which means they rarely face the kind of international pressure that the really nasty regimes get.

Finally, somebody has pointed out Malaysia’s sham democracy!

I finally made my very first visit to the WIM Toastmasters Club at Taman Tun Dr Ismail. I might have brought them luck because altogether fifteen people (that included eight visiting Toastmasters and 3 non-Toastmasters) were there yesterday. This is a club in crisis and so it is heart-warming to know that Toastmasters from clubs in Division G came to give support. I took up two roles – as that of Table Topics Master as well as Evaluator for Timothy Nakayama who presented his Advanced speech. And Sheryl Chieng took up the gauntlet to be the General Evaluator – her maiden role – and I must say that she acquitted herself rather well. This meeting deserved a 7 out of a 10.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Football-crazy Ants

An unusual setting for a football match. Thanks to one very skillful – and patient – Russian photographer, Andrey Pavlov captured photos of ants playing on a leaf with a straw for a goal – all in perfect detail by using a special macro lens. From a superb stop by the goalkeeper to celebrating a winning goal, Pavlov spent hours setting up these intricate scenes. It may not be quite up to Euro 2012 standards but the ants’ antics are bound to arrest your attention anyway.

And certainly, even England is not up to standard because they bowed out of Euro 2012 yesterday when they lost in the penalty shoot-out after a one-sided quarterfinal against Italy finished 0-0 following extra-time. Roy Hodgson nearly killed Liverpool, what makes the English FA think he will do differently with England?

Where's Batman?

For the dim-witted persons who make up the government and who are still insisting that the crime rate has gone down – let me just inform you of the two latest cases. At about 10:30 PM on Friday, a woman (above photo) was robbed and slashed on her head at the car park of MidValley Megamall (New Sunday Times, June 24, 2012, p 14). And yesterday, at around 6:30 AM, another unfortunate woman nearly had her finger severed by an armed robber near Taman Tun Dr Ismail (The Star, June 25, 2012, p 03).

So please put to rest that silly notion that you can now freely walk the streets of the city. Without getting mugged. Where’s Batman when you need him?!!

Last evening, I was at Cititel MidValley to attend the MidValley Toastmasters meeting. It was a meeting that was full of vibrancy – perhaps because I was there! – and there were decent-to-good speeches and evaluations. I was voted the Best Table Topics Speaker and overall, I would give this meeting a 7 out of a 10.