Something About Raya In Space...


Written on 10/17/2007 05:38:00 pm by sikapitan

Selamat Hari Raya to my readers (if I still have any). Every year since the inception of this blog, I have been telling you tales about my trip to my hometown of Penang. This year was different, because for the first time in ages, I celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri at Subang Jaya. It was a close call, this one, because my two aunts who are still staying in Penang wanted us to go with tradition and head back to Gelugor, but at the end of the day, the rest of family persuaded THEM to head over to KL and celebrate here instead.

This is the beginning of a new era I guess. Most of my relatives are here in KL anyway, and my soon-to-be in-laws are based in KL. This will probably be the first of many Raya celebrated in KL. Yes, I do miss Penang. I still have fond memories of the trips there. I fear that without this yearly jaunt to my hometown, I’ll probably never get out of KL!

But to be completely honest, I’ve not had that Raya feeling for quite some time. I guess the introduction of Astro into my grandma’s house somehow robbed us of that “I have nothing to do, so let’s explore Penang” kind of attitude. I can’t even remember how to get to Padang Kota, so what kind of a Penangite am I? (Yes, yes…the sharp nose is still there, and I can still do a mean anak mami accent if I want to…but the heart is no longer set on the beaches of Ferringhi…)

Heck, I can’t even bring myself to watch the TV shows for Raya. There used to be a time when Raya Specials were really special. It was something that has never been shown before, something that we look forward to because we missed it in the cinema (of course, all this is irrelevant if you don’t watch Malay shows…but that’s your loss). The musicals were jam-packed with stars like M.Nasir, Siti Nurhaliza etc. But nowadays you get crap like one show I accidentally saw on RTM 1 called Duets Raya or something. You get people from bands like Sofaz partnering some unpopular and more importantly, not so talented, female singers butchering classic Hari Raya songs.

Let’s not start with the movies. Why do TV stations assume that people want to be enlightened on Raya eve? Why do they always decide to put some soapy, sad drama about (1) anak durhaka (2) isteri/suami durhaka (3) mak bapak durhaka? Why must we suffer the indignity of being swayed by one-trick-pony directors like Rashid Sibir? Most importantly, why do we keep having reruns of Prof. Abd. Razak Mohaideen’s idiotic brand of “situational comedies”?
Lost in Space

Perhaps everyone thought that we would be more interested in watching a space show, or to be more specific, our proud angkasawan at ISIS, Outer Space. Yes, I am proud that we have a Malaysian in space, and no matter what, we shouldn’t take the mickey out of Doktor SM’s successful launch into space. It’s not his fault that our government can’t seem to prioritize!

Why does the government of Malaysia think it’s valuable to send someone into space? What is it that Malaysians can do, that actually other astronauts can’t? I mean, what sort of “research” are they actually asking him to do? Wouldn’t it be easier to just send the “nasi lemak” or “durian” to astronauts who are actually going there to do something significant? More importantly, wouldn’t it be cheaper?

You see, while Singapore, which earns more than we do, has a higher GDP than we do, with a higher per capita income than Malaysians do, are busy solidifying their economy in the face of the expected global market meltdown and turmoil in key oil states in the Middle East, we decided to spend more than RM 100 Million (that is reported, I’m sure the real and hidden cost is much more than that) on sending a man into space to wear a pretty cool Malaysian jumpsuit, but proves nothing besides the fact that we know how to spend money.

Malaysia is a bit like those on-off hip hop stars, like we have some hits at some point of our career, get a lot of dough, spent it on blings-blings, then become anonymous until the next lucky hit comes along. It’s great if we can come up with the hits, but what if it dries up? Maybe we should learn from P.Diddy, who built a business empire despite his limited talent in the rap game. Who says you can’t have the cake and eat it too?

Oh yeah, oil prices are at a record high recently, and with the tension over Iran growing, there’s no sign it’s going to come down to manageable level anytime soon. That means petrol prices in Malaysia are expected to rise again, as the government cannot afford to subsidize us anymore, what with their space mission, national service, Port Klang Free Zone bailout…I mean, what can they do, right? Go figure.

The One on Justice


Written on 10/02/2007 12:19:00 am by sikapitan

Last week saw two different sorts of protest in two different countries which similarities end with sharing the same first alphabet in their name and being in ASEAN. While 2,000 lawyers marched in Putrajaya, Malaysia, thousands of protestors brave the threats from trigger happy soldiers and stake their claim for freedom in Yangon, Myanmar. While the lawyers manage to hand over their memorandum and go back to their normal lives, dozens of protestors were killed being shot while trying to exercise their inherent human right for freedom of expression.

Readers might be inclined to assume that I would compare the two situations and come to the conclusion that the Bar Council’s protest is nothing, in fact, overkill, when compared to the real atrocities going on in Myanmar. The lawyers were up in arms against the recent video release depicting senior lawyer V.K Lingam conspiring with an unknown (yes, people say that it’s the current chief justice, but that’s speculation until proven otherwise) person to appoint certain individuals, including the chief justice, into positions of importance within our judiciary 5 years ago. The people of Myanmar were up in arms for their freedom, against the oppression of the violent military junta ruling the country. Looks like a foregone conclusion?

Not in the least bit. Can’t Malaysians see that if we sit back and watch as the very essence of democracy being mocked by the people who are supposed to uphold it, the scenes we see from the streets of Yangon will be transplanted to our very own Kuala Lumpur? The very essence of democracy is the Rule of Law (roughly means: everybody is subject to the law, no one is above it), and an independent judiciary remains the cornerstone of preserving this essence.

The Malaysian judiciary have never recovered from the 1988 crisis. For those in the dark, basically what happened was that brave, intelligent and independent senior judges were “removed” from their esteemed position, just because they were bold enough to go against, the executive at that time, over a fundamental issue. I am an admirer of Tun Mahathir, but like every great man, he has his flaws. His innate desire to control every aspect of Malaysia Inc. is his strength and also his weakness. His decision at that time remains a black mark in our justice system. Malaysia suffered in the eyes of the world, whereby our judiciary was questioned and criticized.

But we remain ignorant of this, and the people were not unhappy. In fact, there was a sense of indifference, except for the brave members of the then Bar Council. Nothing came out of their resolutions condemning the sackings and their voices were drowned out by the great news of our rapid rise in world economy. It seems like people only shout when they’re hungry.

So why the big hurrah then when the justice system condemned Anwar Ibrahim to jail? Why was everyone so surprised? The die was cast years before that. Do I care about Anwar or his politics? No, BUT I do have a problem when the judiciary appears (I’m not even saying it is, but it just appears) to be influenced by certain people and their agenda.

And that’s the problem that we face at the moment. The apathy by the general public over the importance of an independent judiciary stems from the lack of knowledge, and this in turn is due to our non-inquisitive way of thinking indoctrinated by our, ironically, rapid economic progress at the expense of real cultural progress. But it’s not too late.

We can start at the way judges are chosen and their promotion. At the current moment, there is a distinct lack of transparency, and sometimes people ask me these things, and I don’t really know what or how to answer. The criteria for choosing Judicial Commissioners and Judges appear to be so mysterious, that not even the judges themselves can safely state the reason for their appointment. How are recommendations made? At least let us know that.

It WOULD be better though if a Commission be set up, consisting of seasoned practitioners, esteemed members of society, political representatives or even NGOs who would draw up a list of candidates based on a definite set of criteria that’s published clearly for the public to peruse. At this moment, almost 90% of our judges are chosen from government service ie. AG Chambers etc. I know quite a few of these judges, and I am not suggesting in any way that they’re biased or ill-equipped to deliver justice. In fact, I do believe that most of them are honest folks who would decide based on sound principles of justice in most cases. But wouldn’t it be better if there’s a balanced composition of judges manning our superior courts?

I didn’t join the march. But I hope my words here would suffice. People say that the pen is mightier than the sword. You don’t have to shout, you don’t have to throw bricks, you don’t have to picket. All you have to do is open up your mind, improve your knowledge, discuss serious issues instead of just football with your friends, read as much as you can and most importantly, share your views and learn how to accept others’. Knowledge is power. And with power comes responsibility. I hope I have fulfilled mine. Insyaallah.