Saturday, February 15, 2003

Give peace a chance...

NOT SINCE VIETNAM... 600 cities answer to the call of "Your are either with us, or you are not with us". CITIES London | New York | Rome | Berlin | Paris | Canberra | Oslo | Copenhagen | Cape Town | Johannesburg | Damascus... COUNTRIES Ukraine | Bosnia | Cyprus | Ireland | Netherlands | Austria | Spain | Greece | Bulgaria | Czech Republic | Japan | India | Bangladesh | Hungary | South Korea | Malaysia | Hong Kong | Thailand...

SOURCES: Guardian/Observer | BBC News | Salon | San Francisco Chronicle | Washington Post | New York Times | Associated Press

All we are saying is...
Give peace a chance...

Two, one two three four
Ev'rybody's talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism,
Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism, ism, ism, ism.

All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.

Ev'rybody's talking about ministers,
Sinister, Banister.
And canisters, Bishops, Fishops,
Rabbis, and Pop eyes, Bye bye, bye byes.

All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.

Let me tell you now
Revolution, evolution, masterbation,
flagellation, regulation, integrations,
meditations, United Nations.

All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.

Ev'rybody's talking about
John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary,
Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan,
Tommy Cooper,
Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer,
Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna ,
Hare Krishna, Hare Hare Krishna.

All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.

By Lennon/McCartney

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Friday, February 14, 2003

Only Singaporeans are capable of these...

HOLD YOUR BREATH. There is a pile of jaw-dropping content which normally filths soc.alt.culture usenet newsgroups but has found its way to the interactive chatboard on the website of The Straits Times (ST), Singapore's bastion of journalism that has "set high standards and delivered high-quality content".

I would be violating a cardinal sin if I made excerpts of the debate: Diversion tactic of a Malaysian site: Acceptable? Malaysia, its leaders and its people were called by expletives, including four-letter words, that are totally unprintable.

And no, the topic has nothing to do with the water issue, or Batu Puteh dispute.

The cyber-ranting erupted February 13 after it was revealed that the website is not about Singapore schools and the educational system there, but is actually a listing of Malaysian private schools, colleges and universities.

The man behind the website that pricked Singaporeans is Tan Mui Hong of Concept Challenger, a Kuala Lumpur company that publishes a 'Study in Malaysia' handbook. Read the originating story in Singapore ST.

The Sun executive editor R. Nadeswaran by-lined his commentary today, stressing that the issue should be taken up with the private company, and Singapore ST should not allow a tirade against Dr Mahathir Mohamad, leaders and the people of Malaysia. He demanded an unconditional apology to the Malaysian leaders and citizens.

Writers must register with AsiaOne, an online subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, before posting any messages on the chatboard. Some wrote as professed Malaysians albeit their Malaysia-bashing, but the chatboard's editors just passed them through.

For some helpings of the batter, click here. Don't say you have not been forewarned.

* * *

YESTERDAY, Dr Mahathir Mohamad sent his Valentine greetings to people in Singapore, promising to supply them water till the end of time (Utusan: Sampai kiamat).

He said Goh Chok Tong is nostalgic of the Causeway, the replacement bridge could only be built after the Singapore PM retires. A Straits Times Singapore story today is headlined: Laughter and applause as Mahathir takes digs at S'pore. Excerpts:

On roads: In Singapore, there are roads but when shifting into fourth gear, you fall into the sea because it (the country) is not big. (Laughter)

The problem of Singapore is like Perlis. In Perlis when you shift into fourth gear, you are already in Thailand. Change direction, and in fourth gear you are in Kedah. (Laughter)

So it is like Singapore. It is only 18 miles from Keppel harbour to the Causeway. Not even time to change into fourth gear. You buy a Ferrari you can't change into fourth gear, there is no use. So we want to give them the opportunity to change into fourth gear on our roads.

On his love for Singaporeans: Actually, we know that Singaporeans live in a small country. Every week, tak tahan (can't bear) to live in the small country, an independent country, but small, so they need to breathe and we have a big area in Johor and Malaysia for them to breathe.

Come over, we welcome them and love them. Singapore is very clean, with beautiful buildings, everything is nice. But four million people live on the island, it is not nice. Langkawi is the same size as Singapore, but Langkawi has 70,000, Singapore has four million. So we like them to come.

We love you. On Valentine's Day, we love you. (Claps and laughter) Please come. Please come.

Parting words from Dr M:
I am just jesting. When you meet Singaporeans, tell them: Don't take the Malaysian PM seriously. He likes to talk like that. He doesn't mean it, he has a good heart. (Applause)

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Dubya Desperado

THE LATEST Osama audiotape saw the U.S. putting a foot in its mouth.

Ahead of the broadcast over al-Jazeera, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the message confirmed the "links" between al Qaeda and Iraq. Analysts said the tape sounded generic with Osama's typical calls for the overthrow of governments supporting the US - Nigeria, Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In fact, Osama called Saddam an apostate, infidel, whose blood is halal.

The White House misled the world and the American media was the first to be hoodwinked. CNN tanked with a premature story: "Undeniably links Iraq with al-Qaeda"

Read this piece by Firas Al-Atraqchi, a columnist at, which is currently down, believed to have been DoS-ed by pro-U.S. hackers.

NATO cancelled the scheduled meeting on Iraq-Standoff yesterday after Germany insisted on waiting for the U.N. weapons inspectors' latest reports.

Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei are scheduled to present their latest reports to U.N.Security Council which meets later today. BBC analysis says they are likely to contain plusses and minuses. CNN says their reports, previewed by commissioners of the inspection team, will be interim.

Blix expressed concern in the meeting that the parts of his reports that are favorable to Iraq are being ignored by the media and "other groups."

Tomorrow, February 15: United For Peace and Justice anti-war march in New York City. (New York Times: Federal District Court judge Barbara S. Jones has ruled demonstrators may not march past the United Nations complex or anywhere else in Manhattan, arguing her ruling did not violate First Amendment rights.)

Similar protests are already being planned from Antartica to Reykjavic.

Get the message right and your mind clear: Care nothing for Saddam Hussein but the people in Iraq. Bush can butcher Saddam, but not the Iraqians. Say no to blood for oil.

Critical stage at the UN and Malaysia: To pass a resolution on War on Iraq, the UN Security Council must generate nine "Yes" votes and no vetoes. Malaysia is obliged to endorse what the UN decides. UPDATED: For Malaysia, the government will not support a war against Iraq even if the United Nations Security Council gives the go-ahead, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Friday (Feb 14), significantly hardening his position against an attack.

WHAT YOU CAN DO ONLINE: Email members of the UN Security Council directly. Ask them to oppose war on Iraq.

Permanent members (with veto power): France, Russian Federation, People's Republic of China, United Kingdom and the United States.

Non-permanent member states: Bulgaria, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico, Syrian Arab Republic, Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan, and Spain.

Here are their email addresses:

For more information go to United for Peace and Justice anti-war activists website.
Samples of "War is BUSHit" stickers can be downloaded here.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Gulf War: Worst-case scenario

If the U.S. invades Iraq, Flash-enabled.
Recommended by Nick Denton of, Gizmodo and Gawker fame.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Make no mistake of Bush's double standards

THE WORLD watches how the U.S. handles George Bush's dualism on disarming weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and North Korea.

Disarming Iraq: Wednesday, Germany said the latest audio-taped message by Osama bin Laden, broadcast over pan-Arab al-Jazeera, did not prove "links" between al Qaeda and Iraq. Ahead of the broadcast, Colin Powell said it did.

Osama's message carries the call to "Fight America Anywhere". CIA Director George Tenet said the U.S. is looking at whether it "is a signal of a pending attack."

Just as Bush and Powell had been huffing and puffing to prove a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, International Herald Tribune says Osama's latest tape is a god-send to salvage Bush from being a big bluff.

Sunday, President Mohammad Khatami said Iran possessed reserves of enriched uranium and had begun mining operations for more. CIA warns of Iran's 'pretext' for nukes which may trigger a nuclear arms race.

Bush has a new ironic dilemma: Iraq is expected to start chairing the UN Conference on Disarmament in March, just as some military analysts believe a war may begin. The U.S. said it would temporarily find a way not to take part in the Geneva-based panel that negotiates arms treaties.

NATO is still split: Awhile ago (Wednesday night in Europe), the 19-nation coalition failed to reach agreement on a plan to protect Turkey from Iraq if the war starts. France, Germany and Belgium still refused to go along with the U.S plan that would send surveillance planes, Patriot missiles and chemical and biological detection teams to Turkey in the eventuality.

Wednesday, NATO entered into the third day of emergency talks on the issue. The diplomats would resume later today. Here's an analysis of internal NATO dispute over War with Iraq.

Disarming North Korea: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, has passed a resolution declaring North Korea in breach of international commitment. It referred North Korea to the Security Council for possible sanctions. The decision was taken after an emergency meeting attended by the agency's 35-nation board of governors. Russia and Cuba abstained from the vote. A stand-off ensues.

Testifying at a Senate committee hearing in Washington yesterday, CIA's Tenet said North Korea has an untested ballistic missile capable of hitting the west coast of the United States.

U.S. Economy: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan finds friends in the lion's cage. Democrats praised him for criticizing Bush's new round of $1.3 trillion in tax cuts as too expensive in light of soaring budget deficits.

Wednesday, Greenspan repeated there was an urgent need to restore budget discipline, and cautioned it was hard to gauge the U.S. economy's health amid war worries. There is a new issue posed by financial specialists: Who in the U.S. would foot the war bills?

I was listerning to CNN as I blogged. CNN termed it as a rift between Bush and Greenspan.

In summary, a war on Iraq is not a war on al-Qaeda (Christian Science Monitor).

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Digitalcam and e-Content: A new affinity

THE POWER of Internet lies in its capacity to interconnet and interact with the Netizens. BBC News Online fully understands this ahead of others who develop e-Content.

Taken a good picture lately? BBC acknowledges that, with digital cameras, people are now regularly taking pictures and sending them around the world within hours, sometimes sooner. The phenomena now is sending large full-size images, usually 640x480 pixels (otherwise they are too small to publish), using mobile phones. So BBC News is calling out to people who found themselves in the right place at the right time, taking the right pictures:

Are you going to the march against military action in Iraq? Are you affected by the congestion charges about to be brought in, in London? Your part in the news is important to us.

BBC News Online wants to report the world from your perspective

BBC News Online requires a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and to use the material in any way and in any media it wants, but the photographers get to retain the copyrights and the freedom to re-publish their pictures elsewhere. Here's the email address:

Click here for a sample of the 200 pictures selected and published by BBC News Online so far.

Earlier this month when the shuttle Columbia went down, The Dallas Morning News took the same approach. It asked the readers to submit text and pictures of what they were seeing of the tragedy to one email destination: Witness to History. The paper then published the readers' pictures and commentary online. It also, in the process, created a database that let other readers search by keyword and community.

Here's how it works.

* * *

MICROSOFT is bound for new hot soup in Europe. An IT coalition, including AOL, Sun, Yahoo, Nokia, is the latest to file antitrust complaint with EC, accusing it of violating European antitrust law with the new Windows XP.

What interests me greatly is that the plaintiff, Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), is Washington-based. It represents a coalition of computer, telephone and Internet companies. The CCIA said it filed a formal, confidential complaint Jan 31 with the European Commission, which enforces EU competition laws.

Before this, there has been an investigation underway for more than three years into Microsoft. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said in December he expects to close the case in the 'first part' of 2003.

December 20 last year, the CCIA and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) jointly filed a motion with the District Court seeking to intervene for the purposes of appealing the District Court’s ruling on the Tunney Act in U.S. v. Microsoft.

* * *

BUSH'S WAR ON IRAQ: Beijing joins Paris, Berlin and Moscow to take a common stance on Iraq - let the U.N. weapons inspectors do their job unhurried.

Osman bin Laden's voice echoed again over Al-Jazeera. Osama's audio-taped message calls for Muslims to stand with the Iraqi people against the United States. Colin Powell jumps in quickly to strengthen his pitch on the terrorists-Iraq nexus. Also read the Arab View on an Iraq War in the New York Times.

U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is downbeat on US economy, part-paralysed by the threat of war against Iraq. Greenspan warned U.S. senators that the huge budget deficits contemplated by Bush's economic plan would have negative economic consequences, and that there was an urgent need to restore budget discipline.

His statement found himself in the lion's den.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Monday, February 10, 2003

Enemies from within

STANDARD & POORS warned yesterday that Malaysia's plan to use a RM10 billion fund to buy stocks may pose a risk to the country's finances. The fear was that the government may channel taxpayers' money into ValueCap Sdn, the state-controlled fund used to support the market. Analysts say a burden on finances may delay a balanced budget, increasing the likelihood of a cut to Malaysia's credit rating.

That would be bad as we are preparing hard for the eventuality of a new Gulf War and to marginalise Singapore in world trade.

* * *

FRIDAY, The Star executive editor Wong Chun Wai shared by-line with senior journalist Lourdes Charles (see picture) in a story that pin-pointed Abdul Hadi Awang, Terengganu menteri besar and MP for Marang, for having attended a three-day Islamic congress in Makassar, Sulawesi, in October 2000.

The two journalists say the Makassar rendezvous was intimately linked to Islamic militants Abubakar Ba’asyir and Agus Dwikarna, who are now captured, and Hambali (also known as Riduan Isamuddin), the mastermind of Jemaah Islam (JI) and al-Qaeda’s operations leader in Southeast Asia, who is now at large.

The next day, Hadi said he attended as a guest of the Islamic congress in his capacity as head of a state government. He said his invitation came from Universiti Hassanuddin and several NGOs in the Sulawesi city, asking him to give a talk in conjunction with the amendment of Indonesia’s constitution to provide autonomous powers to its provinces, including Sulawesi. He denied his involvement or link with any radical or militant group, leader or activity, either in Malaysia or abroad.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his deputy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the IGP Norian Mai said the authorities would investigate the matter to determine whether PAS has links with militancy. PAS officials assured that the party and Hadi would give full co-operation to the authorities to clear Hadi's name.

I do hope the authorities, with their intelligence, get to the bottom of the probe and take 'pre-emptive' action if something can be established fast of an event that is two-year old.

I expect Chun Wai and his team to do nothing less than a follow-up in the next few days. They are not the breed with a track record for holding trials by media.

* * *

SUNDAY, Mingguan Malaysia interviewed Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who pledged not to rival any party leaders. He gave the reasons why he has been keeping a low profile in Malaysian and UMNO politics. In between the lines, he hinted strongly UMNO could only be strong with all factions - Malays in and out of UMNO - brought together.

On a question whether he harboured any ill-feelings against PM-in-waiting, Pak Lah, who did not follow him to the defunct Parti Melayu Semangat 46, he avoided answering but recounted the days when others who were with him: Musa (Hitam), Rais (Yatim), Syed Hamid (Albar) and Kadir (Sheikh Fadzir); and even Najib (Tun Razak) and Muhyiddin (Yassin). He stressed he can't say much about Pak Lah as he has never worked under him.

Somehow, The Star excerpted the story on different accent. It can't be blind to the headline: "Ku Li tidak mahu disalah anggap cuba menjadi saingan sesiapa" (Ku Li doesn't want to be misconstrued as rivalling anybody).

Read my Friday blog about the plentiful on Pak Lah's plate.

* * *

WAR ON IRAQ: George Bush faces more detractors as cracks developed over NATO solidarity. International Herald Tribune described the United States is now encountering "potentially serious complications on several fronts".

France, Russia and Germany had jointly called for strengthened U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq. Notably, French President Jacques Chirac read the joint declaration in the presence of visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Giving the weapons inspectors more time has been a part of a diplomatic initiative that is aimed at disarming Saddam Hussein without war, but the U.S. opposed it.

Monday, the 19-member NATO bloc was plunged into its deepest crisis for decades after France, Germany and Belgium vetoed plans to deploy early-warning aircraft, patriot anti-missile defenses and anti-chemical warfare teams to Turkey ahead of a possible conflict with Iraq. Turkey is the only Muslim state in NATO.

How I long to see the limping duck in Bush.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Fondest memories...

I thought it's not too late to observe a moment of fond memories of Malaysia's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, who was born on February 8 a hundred years ago.

The last glimpse I had of him was when he, speaking frailly on a wheelchair against a backdrop of heavy rain, appealed to Malays to unite, not necessarily within UMNO.

Typical of Malaysians who have short memory, I have lost that photograph, and neither can I recall which year it was.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic

"We are one family, let’s stop pretending"

CHINESE MALAYSIANS have taken offence to two TV commercials (TVCs) Perodua aired over the Lunar New Year. They saw the ads as being insensitive and disrespectful to the community.

The TVCs were executed in black-and-white, featuring Chinese opera-style characters reminiscent of the 1950's. One version depicted three women showing off their jewellery while the other showed a family discriminatively ignoring the arrival of a poor relative but giving a grand reception for a visiting “Datuk” . Both TVCs ended with the banner: “We are one family, let’s stop pretending”.

Chinese-based associations and business groups urged Perodua and TV stations to stop airing the TVCs immediately. The youth wing of the Malaysian Chinese Hall claimed that the commercials had hurt the feelings of the community. It also claimed the TVCs gave the wrong impression that all Chinese were boastful, materialistic and pretentious.

Penang DAP urged Perodua to apologise to the Chinese as the commercials not only failed to deliver festive greetings but had insulted the community. The party's political researcher Looi Hui Yee said the Chinese community had expressed their displeasure when the advertisements were first aired last year but Perodua had disregarded their feelings by running the advertisements again this year.

Not to be outdone by the Opposition, Penang chief minister Koh Tsu Khoon clarioned the same thing.

Chinese press devoted ample space for public opinion on the issue, pro and contra. Perodua was said to be adamant, claiming it would not apologise or retract the TVCs. The company claimed the commercials were educational.

Anyway, by the time the issue reaches crescendo, the Lunar New Year would have been over, and the commercials finished their runs.

* * *

THE GOVERNMENT has flown home members of the Malaysian Embassy staff in Iraq in view of the impending war in the area. Only eight staff members remain in the embassy now. They will also be flown home if the United States attacks Iraq.

* Send me an email
* Suggest a column/blog topic