Thursday, January 24, 2008

Farewell Old Ben...

It is a rare occassion when both my father and I lose a friend to the hereafter on the same day, and it happened today. I am saddened by the passing of my old friend Adlan Benan Omar, better known as Ben Omar to many, but I was also relieved, having seen how he suffered in dignity when I last visited him almost 2 weeks ago.

The Germans have a tradition of saying very few words of mourning whilst reminiscing all the fine memories of friends and family that have passed on, often over drinks, as a celebration of a good life having come to a conclusion. In line with one of Ben's old tendencies to enjoy things German, I shall do this.

To have died at the age of 35 may have seem tragic to many, but as Ben had known of the likely shortness of his life since he was 18, he had driven himself to filling his life with purpose from the time I got to know him. It was evident to me as we were first introduced only months prior to the diagnosis of his illness.

Before we met, I was told by another old friend that,"You will like Ben, you'll see. He has this charisma, a way with words, articulate, very opinionated."

"He's an a**hole?",I asked.

"He's an a**hole. Like I said, you'll like him",was the response. To my relief, Ben was not a Gunners fan, which would have been intolerable, as he was exactly the type of a**hole to others that I was happy to call friend.

One could say that we were surprisingly close for potential rivals. We shared many ideals; patriotism, respect for history. He was a Minang traditionalist with intimations of nobility, which made him easy for me to read in terms of motive, if not method. He also easily appreciated my anarchic version of nationalism, which helped. (I think he felt me little better than a proper anarchist in use of words).

From Ben I better appreciated the value and joy of being different, in which he revelled. He was always the first to support an initiative, and was very good at picking winners as he judged initiatives not on the potential benefits alone, but on nobility of purpose and the values and merits of the people involved.

This sometimes gave rise to suspicion of ambition, yes the thing that got Gaius Julius Caeser killed, but like Caeser, his ambition was always with a sense of giving or ultimately noble intentions, though his methods are oft misconstrued.

His achievements in leadership are uncommon, if not unique, for someone so young. He was in turn:
  1. Elected student MP at the English Public School he attended as a JPA/BTU scholar for his A-Levels, Abingdon School. This was impressive for a foreign student whom had joined the school as a 6th former only months before and had won under the ticket of his own 'party', None Of The Above (NOTA), against local Young Labour and Young Conservative candidates.

  2. Founder and I believe first Secretary of the Cambridge University Malaysian Society (CUMaS).

  3. Pro-tem Chairman and Founder, then Chairman, of the United Kingdom Executive Council for Malaysian Students, UKEC (now a UK and Eire council). We founded this together with Don Rahim, Omar Siddiq, Badlisyah Ghani, Flora Romeo, Eqhwan Mokhzanee, Lim Chong Han, Munir Aziz together with others friends...

  4. Secretary General of Party KeAdilan Rakyat Youth.
I am sure I have missed many other achievements. Ben also had a student, then professional life in the midst of many quests in leadership, but it is to my regret that I am incapable of chronicling these as we grew apart from the final year of our studies abroad. I understand he chose to be a banker over becoming a lawyer or historian as he was schooled, yet again bucking a typical Malaysian trend.

We became 'occassional acquaintences' again over the last 5 years, when I first returned to Malaysia ~4+ years ago.

Over these last few years, Ben and I would arrange to meet at least once a year, as he strove to find a purpose that would best fill what would be the last years of his life. Whilst he had suffered disappointment in youth party politics, he never dropped his chin on our encounters. What we shared in motives and purpose seemed little changed. In meetings big and small, he made an impression.

Only months ago, I was sorry to hear that I had missed just one such event where Ben stood to give concise, precise, strong and credible opinions in a forum of political players young and old, hosted and presided by none other than Tan Sri Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah. Those few who did not know his name talked of an impressive young man standing with a stick and the dignity of an elder.

This should have come as no surprise, as during his time as a party youth leader, his sharp wit and tongue had impressed even at the prestigious forums hosted by the Johns Hopkins University in the US. There he well surpassed his Malaysian contemporaries present in open forum, frustrating the likes of Khairy Jamaluddin among others, with quality of argument.

There is a rumour, I would like to think well founded, that Ben was involved in the penning of an entire book on the machinations of KJ and his minions. That I mention it here shows that such an effort was yet again to Ben's credit.

I will miss this friend of mine, not because we were buddies or relied on each other in any way, but in just knowing a man I uniquely respected for his values, that held strong and suffered little changing over the years. Over the last year or so, Ben was busy fulfilling his Minang obligations as guardian to his niece, eventual heir to the property of his mother's line. Traditionalist to the end.

I was glad to have had the opportunity to say goodbye to Ben and hope he had understood and shared that final encounter to bind us. I write this as my second last gift in fond memory of him as a friend. My final gift will honour his memory as a leader and historian par excellence from our generation.

Adlan Benan Omar

1973 - 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

And The Winner Of The Lingam Inquiry Is... Pak Lah?!

In case you are out of touch, this piece is not about the popular chilli sauce brand of the same name... of course I'm talking about the VK Lingam video inquiry! True to my tradition, I jump in as people are getting a little less excited... no scrap that, I can see some people are probably more excited, but generally, everyone is getting more 'blur' about the whole inquiry.

As to how I am 'blur', as an Energy Economist, I wish to understand who benefits from the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the VK Lingam Video*. I mean come on, for what other reason would anyone pursue anything... to gain. We the public certainly wish to gain more insight on what the guy who looks like and talks like VK Lingam in the video is talking about.

But hold on, why do I as a member of the public want to know more about what he's talking about? Ah, perhaps I wish to be assured of the independence of the judiciary. Mmm... independence from what? Crime and criminal elements? Bias? Sure, this is of material concern to me. But the inquiry is on the appointment of judges. So how again is this going to benefit me?

Are our judges releasing criminals from judgement? No? Or perhaps we dislike some of their judgements. Are they too harsh or too lenient? Maybe they judge on principles we disagree with. Or maybe we don't like how they look, you know, in photos that show they may be biased. OK, I'm not really sure now why we don't like how judges are chosen, but lets just change the person picking them!

But the trial isn't about judges picked by Pak Lah, who as PM, currently does the picking of these judges. It's about judges picked by the former PM, Dr M. So the inquiry is about how the person who is no longer picking judges picked judges. OK, so why are we pursuing this? Ah, maybe by chasing the old PM we can make an example of him for the current and future PM.

Many people say Dr M seemed 'blur' also during his testimony, but...

I actually don't recall any major public outcry on judge appointments or any time the Malay Rulers did not approve Dr M's choice of judges when he was in power. OK, the Bar Council sometimes complained, but they're lawyers... A lot of noise over Tun Salleh Abbas' dismissal as Lord President, but the Agong consented even with that. No major issues on judicial appointments though.

Dr M testified that it was his perogative to choose whomsoever he pleases to be a judge. This is of course true. This is one of the functions we voted him in to perform as PM. And constitutionally, I suppose Dr M could have picked the man who used to sell him Apam on the recommendation of a regular Pekan Rabu beggar to be Chief Justice... assuming the Agong agrees of course.

From Dr M's testimony, Lingam's would have been just one of many voices he listened to. I would personally have chosen to investigate Dr M's driver - Dr M would have been listening to him all the time! Dr M listened to people and picked judges, it was his job, and if we didn't like how he picked judges, we should have voted him out no? But its too late! So, how does this inquiry benefit us again?

Actually, this being the Lingam inquiry, it should have come as no surprise to me that Lingam's testimony cause me to 'blur' the most. First, he claimed he did not know of any recording. The persons recording (businessman Loh Mui Fan and son) claimed it all happened, but now we have a case of he said-they said. Then of course, we have him saying he could have been drunk and talking rubbish.

Technical analysis proved that it was Lingam's voice on the tape (hence, "talks (rubbish) like me"). However, no one can say who was on the other side. (The person who looks like) Lingam on the video said (like Lingam) it was ex-Chief Justice Fairuz. Lingam testified he didn't know who it was. Is this rubbish? Was Lingam drunk when he testified? Is he drunk and talking rubbish all the time?

Now, if no technical evidence emerges to prove that Tun Fairuz was the person on the other line, the case will basically come down to this:
  • Even if Lingam was the person who looked and talked like him on the video, he may have been talking rubbish
  • He may have been talking rubbish to his brother (who is supposed to be nuts and hates Lingam) or someone else whilst claiming it was Tun Fairuz
  • His recommendations would be just one of many sorts of rubbish thrown at Dr M on which judges should be picked
  • Dr M is just as likely to pick anyone based on any old rubbish reason anyway as a judge for royal consent, and this would not be a crime

So, how would we benefit from knowing all this? Still blur...

Whilst we continue to blur on this, may I suggest we mull over who would definitely benefit from this trial:

Loh Mui Fan and son - actually I don't know how they benefit, but one does wonder... If he cared about the nation, the video would have come out years ago. Why didn't someone in the inquiry ask this question? The guy is a businessman who likes to bring wine to Lingam's house, perhaps because he enjoyed Lingam talking rubbish. So how does he benefit from this video's release now?

Anwar Ibrahim - The most publicity hungry politician in Malaysia was responsible for distributing the tape, and we thought it was for publicity. What he hopes to gain is apparent now that his lawyer is trying to get the inquiry to consider events in 1999. He's still gagging to clear his name from the corruption conviction (He's corrupt? No...) and the stain of being... you know (technically innocent though!).

The Malaysian Bar Council - They were the loudest in demanding the shortening of Tun Fairuz's tenure as Chief Justice. So, they must now prove that they were right, that Tun Fairuz was guilty of being under the influence of Lingam's rubbish. However, if the inquiry found Tun Fairuz likely to be innocent...

Pak Lah - Pak Lah? Sure, it's obvious he would benefit. Why would his government be allowing this rubbish to proceed without hindrance otherwise? Why is government controlled media covering this in such detail if he isn't benefiting? Having everyone focus on this historical rubbish is distracting everyone from the most politically motivated judicial appointment in Malaysian history.

Tan Sri Dato' Zaky Tun Azmi, former deputy chief of UMNO's Disciplinary Committee, stalwart UMNO lawyer, a noted expert in constitutional and election law, was 'parachuted' by Pak Lah into the post of President of the Court of Appeals on 5th December 2007, 2 months after being injected to the Federal bench, bypassing some 80+ other judges of more judicial experience in the process.

This appointment of Pak Lah's would hence likely be Malaysia's Chief Judge some time in 2008.

This blog reference gives more (scarier) info:

So, isn't it wonderfull for Pak Lah that as his party really takes control of the judiciary, everyone is busy looking at an inquiry over a potentially drunk lawyer talking rubbish? Ergo, Pak Lah is probably the biggest beneficiary of this inquiry!

There is one potential spoiler though. I understand Tun Fairuz is pissed-off over his name being dragged through the mud over this. I wonder what Tun Fairuz would reveal on the stand. Would he reveal his correspondence with Pak Lah on Tan Sri Zaky's appointment? Would he reveal the instructions over the appointment of judges for Anwar's successful appeal from the 'other' conviction?

How indeed would anyone benefit then... blur, blur... rubbish!

*Commission of Inquiry of the Video Clip Recording of Images of a Person Purported to be an Advocate and Solicitor Speaking on the Telephone on Matters Regarding the Appointment of Judges Under The Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Much Ado About Cooking Oil

There is a Shakespearean tangent to emphasise here, the 'much ado about nothing'-ness around the cooking oil saga.

The hero of the hour on the cooking oil crisis, just as for the salt crisis, should be Datuk Shafie Apdal, the of late oft embattled Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister. Here is the man in charge of not simply the to-and-fro-ing of local trade affairs, but also key 'vote-sensitive' items, such as the price control policy for food items.

The price control policy around food items is not just a key vote winner/loser because we 'holier than thou' Malaysians wish to keep food costs low for the lower income earners. It is important because we Malaysians are a nation of eaters! Yes, that's right, we may be of different races, religions and socio-political backgrounds. We may be nationalists, liberalist, religionist, socialist and dare I say some still communist. But transcending all this, WE MALAYSIANS MUST HAVE OUR FOOD!

Now food is not just a simple necessity for us to live. I mean, what's the point of living if there is no good food around! Malaysian students from various countries in Europe, Oceania, the Middle East, the Americas, don't often discuss their academic results when they call home, but MUST asssure their mothers that they are not suffering too much from the lack of good and proper tasting Malaysian food... and that the microwaved corn-dog they are eating is OK....

So when Datuk Shafie Apdal heard about the cooking oil 'shortage', one would expect him to react as any Malaysian would - he probably panicked! And this so soon after the salt crisis! One can just imagine the concerns popping into his head:
  • Oh god, what will my wife say! We had a tiff already when I couldn't get her salt the last time!
  • Does this mean we will have to cancel our kenduri this weekend? Oh my god, will the hotels have to start cancelling wedding functions?
  • Aiya, do I dare even have lunch at the 'Maple' later? I may be pestered by the 'Kuey Teow Special' guy...
  • Man, will they still keep me after the elections... Chinese New Year's coming... Chinese votes!

Seized with the horror of this last thought, Shafie decided he had to inform the PM. He was lucky, Pak Lah was in the office and had just had his nap... he was at his best! Pak Lah probably had a quick response for Datuk Shafie as he happened to have a whole floor of Oxbridge and other young graduate types to refer to for solutions and he reassured Shafie...

  • This was a good thing, as it would stop people actively being Holier Than Thou about Chua Soi Lek.
  • Shafie's ministry should confirm whether this cooking oil 'shortage' is real or just a rumour.
  • Shafie should immediately suggest measures - it seems a PPE graduate from Oxford recalled rationing as a good measure to manage shortages of goods by Winston Churchill's cabinet during World War II. As this idea was recalled by an Oxford 1/3 economist, Pak Lah suggests Shafie apply this measure.
  • In the meantime, the PM recalled a meeting the next day to discuss Palm Oil Industry where Shafie is involved. As in Pak Lah's mind Palm Oil and Cooking Oil is about the same, he thought it a perfect occassion to discuss and resolve the crisis. Peter Chin, Primary Industries Minister, he is sure would understand that this was a national crisis!
  • Some Machiavelli on the 4th floor then suggests that the DPM be 'tested' with this issue too... but by this time, Shafie had signed off...

Shafie was much calmed by the call and was able to think critically for the first time. He thought it was a little difficult to implement this rationing thing as he doesn't really know how to enforce it! However, it now has the PM's endorsement, so he'll carry on with it anyway to keep Pak Lah happy. He then called up his ministry's chief secretary (KSU) to begin 'confirming' this rumour...

Meanwhile, at Tescoes Hypermart Taman Tin Doc Mail, the floor manager on duty was puzzling over why consumers, led by an earlier hoard of workers wearing the uniform of a GLC where a young family member of Pak Tam's worked (see, were buying cooking oil as if it were petrol the day before a fuel subsidy cut. He was about to call his wife when he received a call from someone in the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, asking him whether he was suffering from a 'shortage' in cooking oil.

Now, this floor manager was a good company man. So, after finishing his 1/2 hour gossip with the ministry official, where he learned more about this 'shortage', he then calmly called HQ and informed them of 'intel' from the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry of a cooking oil shortage, confirmed by strange behaviour of a hoard of staff from a Palm Oil related GLC! Being a good hubby, he then called his wife, who happened to be floor manager at Gigantic Hypermart...

By the end of the day, Shafie was ready and confidently declared to the media that 'rationing' of cooking oil will be the 'temporary solution', until supplies of cooking oil are brought in.

Seeing all this in the news, Pak Ya, a retired civil servant, decided to have some fun. He and his wife went down to Tescoes to enjoy the show. There he saw scenes never before seen in Malaysian retail. Cooking oil was whizzing off the shelves. Not only Palm Oil based stuff, but Sunflower, Canola, even the hydrib lo-cal Palm Oil and premium grade Olive Oil stuff! At the counters, fathers and mothers were coordinating their children to queue in separate checkout lanes with 5kg of cooking oil each.

Pak Ya then encountered a fellow retiree, Pak Bakaq. They laughed about the whole thing for a while then spoke to a young reporter, showing off their wisdom by declaring 'there is no shortage', 'people are panicking for no reason' and 'government should just allow market forces to play its role'. Pak Ya and wife then chose to join the fun themselves, queueing in separate lanes and buying 5kg of cooking oil each...

In the meantime, Pak Lah has chosen to announce that he is taking the lead by discussing the 'shortage' at the Palm Oil Industry cabinet meeting. Unfortunately, Pak Lah's boys have not been coordinating things with the DPM Najib's office (why would they?), otherwise, they might have known that Najib had discovered and was announcing his by far more accurate finding that there was no shortage of cooking oil! As a concession to his cabinet colleagues, he had rather fortunately tried to slant his announcement so as not to be too contradictory!

Not surprising really that Najib's office got it more accurately, as his people included a larger number of experienced people, closer to Pak Ya's age, whom he would consult on such matters. Clearly 35+ years of experience in addition to a full UM Econs degree trumps a 5 yr Oxford PPE grad most days of the week.

Anyway, the saga continues to play out with an announcement by Shafie Apdal that the government would now 'flood' the market with cooking oil to resolve the issue (announced after the Palm Oil Industry cabinet meeting). Wow... so was the government hoarding all the cooking oil all this time? No, they just needed to give the proper incentive to the producers I imagine. So, there never really was a shortage of cooking oil then...

Fortunately for the government, as is usually the case in this country as it is in this story, the Malaysian opposition is... nowhere...


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cooking Oil, Cooking Oil, Where Art Thou Cooking Oil...

This blogger was recently accused of needing a sex scandal to resume writting. Whilst not denying such things can be inspirational, may I be 'holier than thou' here by proclaiming that it was the clear degeneration in Moral Standards in our leadership that 'inspired' me!

Be that as it may, I now feel compelled to further prove my worth by borrowing from Shakespeare to alude to the fact that not only sex-scandalised Federal Ministers are so cultured, but also to write on something completely devoid of sexual intonations to us 'holier..', cooking oil!

Actually, I had loads in mind to write until I saw the good work done by fellow blogger lulu, and was compelled to quote her instead when agreeing, disappearance of cooking oil may be partly due to high CPO price (indicative of high edible oils price in general as well)...

...and likely has very little to do with a prompt 'population explosion' as believed by a certain minister... unless the 'explosion' was due to sudden massive imports of cooking-oil guzzling illegal workers (jeng-jeng!) or if Siti Nurhaliza has been heavily campaigning for the feeding of cooking oil to the more modest baby output making it look like an explosion, of which she has not ...

This theory of lulu's that price controlled goods are being affected by such shortages more than others is also plausible, though maybe some general economics discussion would be prudent to explain why this may be happening to us Malaysians...

OK, everyone who pretends to know economics reckons it is all to do with 'supply and demand'. Unfortunately for many of us, since the publishing of the Undercover Economist among other books, more have begun to understand that economics and the movement of goods is actually more to do with marginal supply and marginal demand.

What do I mean by 'marginal' - well marginal here means effectively the last ton, lori, kg, tanker, litre, bottle, metre, cup or whatever unit/resceptacle of a product that is or may be sold at any time. Movements of marginal supply and demand levels are not necessarily indicative of a shortage in a market for a good, but it may indicate why goods are not being sold.

So, time now for a motherhood statement - just because I like them as it makes me look important! THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF COOKING OIL GLOBALLY AND CERTAINLY NOT IN MALAYSIA, ONE OF THE BIGGEST MARGINAL PRODUCERS OF EDIBLES OILS!

There is however a structural problem with the country's ability to efficiently distribute food, leading to issues of availability at certain locations at certain times and a need for a better supply chain as one can read from these articles on the web for starters:

No mention of cooking oil though, so how is this relevant? It is relevant in the context of the one source of news that Malaysians all rely on... gossip! Compounded by the biggest authority that shapes consumer market movements in the country, rumour!

It begins with Makcik Lela, who whinges to her friend that she couldn't find anything but Mazola at the supermarket. She just happened to mention this while passing by the kedai kopi where Pak Tam, happily asked the owner if he has oil. The owner says yes, but his Minyak Cap Kerja feels like is getting more expensive. Maybe it is because there is less Minyak Cap Kerja since the kedai kopi owner of course knows all about Supply and Demand. Other patrons nod their head in shared wisdom over cups of kopi-o.

Pak Tam in panic rushes home, instructs his wife to rush to the local kedai runcit and buy up all the Mazola left. Whilst his wife rushes along to buy Mazola, which she never buys, spreading gossip along the way, Pak Tam chooses to alert his daughter and all his daughter in-laws of the rumour of a shortage in cooking oil. "Remember the salt shortage?" he says,"This is worse!"

In due course, one of the younger members of Pak Tam's family finds it to be his civic duty to warn the entire staff of his GLC as well as his entire high school alumni and futsal club of the shortage in cooking oil. These fellows in turn decide that they should sms people as people should be warned promptly, and many are not on the web! Then the 'news' reaches the ears of a few politicians, many still reeling and gleeing over a DVD Sex-Scandal, as well as a few bloggers...

OK, I digress...

As I mentioned, back to marginal economics, lulu did have a point when linking the cooking oil and other recent shortages with our government's controlled goods policy. All in all, the policy is a good one as it provides some cost security of some critical food items to the populace, of significant benefit to the poor, but a benefit shared by all.

However, the government must also remember that businesses that produce these goods are there to make money. So, unless these businesses find it favourable and profitable to produce these goods for local consumption, these producers would rather produce the goods for export to more profitable markets or worse, not produce anything at all! They are not 'holier than thou'.

The solution, beyond the distribution issue mentioned earlier, would likely be a review of the control elements, such as price, or perhaps even the systems, mechanisms and processes underlying the control goods policy itself. In the end, whilst controling the cost of cooking oil, salt or other goods for public good, the government must ensure the prices are still better than the marginal cost of supply for the producer, and if needed, better than the marginal export options.

Of course, you need to find better people that those consultants who proposed the National Automotive Policy, but then I am holier than thou...

... by the way, was it those jokers or their friends on the 4th floor who suggested that 'rationing' of cooking oil was a solution. Hahahaha... what sort of unenforcable inefficient measure is this! Do we have to show our MyKad before buying now? Maybe queue at the nearest cooking oil AP holder's place?

PS - I hear even the PM is weighing in on this one now. Come on Pak Lah! It seems only you can solve such a difficult problem affecting so many voters! I'm sure as Finance Minister you know all about Marginal Economics...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Morality Or Dogma: Religious Poli-Posturing Revealed Post DVD Sex-Scandal?

The saga of Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek's DVD Sex Scandal may appear to have come to a satisfying end with his resignation on 2 Jan 2008. However, there now comes an aftermath that is providing us with further insight on how our political leaders seem to be confused between the truth held by all religions on the necessity of the practice of high morals vs. the political need to defend religion.

We begin with Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek's own continuing contribution, encapsulated by his own view that his downfall was not due to unacceptable loose morals, but rather as, "Some Malaysians can be said to be “holier than thou”.Oh, and here I thought Malaysians just had high morals! Isn't that why we are so passionate about religion?

And he continues by inferr his downfall was due to the DVD, urging,"... the Government .. investigate the source and who is behind the tape so that it does not become a practice to cause the downfall of anyone." Sorry la Datuk Seri, I think the loose morals you practice have brought you down, the video recording was just the mechanism.

Still, if you consider that he feels his "...biggest mistake was that (he) stayed in the hotel and in the same room for convenience...", what hope do we have in him understanding that being an adulterer is by far a bigger 'mistake'...

The MCA also seems a little confused. From a party that supposedly represents the religious interest of Malaysian Chinese in cabinet as so recently instructed by Pak Lah to its president, it is, "accepting (Chua Soi Lek's) resignation with regret". Regret! I would have thought with relief! Is the president of MCA saying that the poor morals of any of his party's leaders are acceptable, as long as, "...He is a very effective and hardworking leader"?!?

Ya la, leaders like the good Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek may be hard working, but how can the people TRUST him, if he cheats on his own wife!

The MCA is now condemning the DVD culprits, and unfortunately, the police have responded in a funny way. Muar police chief Asst Comm Mohammad Nasir Ramli has indicated police in Batu Pahat and Muar will launch a massive operation to nab those involved in distribution and in possession of the sex DVDs of Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek. They would even go 'door-to-door'.

WHY?? Please tell me it is part of a wider investigation behind potential blackmail or extortion of Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek. If not, what is so special about the DVDs? I know it would probably qualify as a somewhat bizzare form of pornography, but then why not focus on Petaling Street (or the equivalent in Muar and Batu Pahat). Better still, why not focus on catching Nurin's killers or some other criminals first! (Nurin's body was found >100 days ago by the way...)

The opposition is of course now commenting on this issue with some glee, but they seem to have a similarly bizzare take. PAS' Information Chief, Mahfuz Omar, in what I assume is a formal view, has urged the police to investigate and charge Chua Soi Lek and his 'personal friend' for Oral Sex!

Oral Sex? How does the police investigating an unknown young lady and a disgraced former federal minister for Oral Sex fit in PAS' nation-building agenda?

Besides, Oral Sex is not forbidden in Islam. In one aspect, it is frowned upon (makruh), but it isn't haram. So, why is PAS, a party that is espousing a move to Syariah Law asking for non-Muslims to be charged according to 'secular' laws for a private act not forbidden by Islam? Isn't that... hypocracy? What... PAS' information chief being hypocritical!? But his is a religion based party! Morals...

I suppose PAS is acting a little better than the DAP, which had earlier dismissed the issue as a 'private matter'. Such conclusions sort of explain the rut they've politically been in for decades...

It is both disconcerting and a relief hence to find Pak Lah getting it right this time when he advised,"The rakyat not only want us to carry out our responsibilities well and with honesty, they also want their leaders to be individuals of good moral standing".

Actually, the 2 wants are indivisible, but at last... some good sense! Now Pak Lah has shown he does have an inkling of what the rakyat wants, maybe he can also address some confusion in the UMNO ranks, beginning with the local UMNO leader who earlier endorsed the acceptance of Chua Soi Lek's apology without resignation!

Well my fellow 'hollier than thou' Malaysians... lets hope we remain moral and have such morals inherited by subsequent generations... for with leaders like these...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Morality Or Dogma: A Test Case Of What Religion Means To Our Leaders

The start of the year presents me with a wonderful issue to resume my writing on, which presents a test-case for the government. I am referring to of course the DVD-Sex Scandal featuring the current MCA VP and Health minister Dato' Dr Chua Soi Lek:

Whilst there have been quite a few views being shared of how this was a 'private matter', by no lesser critic than the opposition DAP, and the family has 'forgiven' Dato' Dr Chua, this remains an interesting and critical case for the government especially due to the various regligious issues plaguing the Lah-ist Hadharite administration.

The question in my mind is, does the government care about personal morals, that is the shared core of all religious beliefs in Malaysia, or does it only play lip service to religion for the sake of politics. The former would and should result in the immediate dismissal of Dato' Dr Chua, not just as he has strayed, but more due to the Health Minister's apparent view that infidelity, a key moral transgression, is a minor problem and not worthy enough reason for him to tender his resignation.

That Dato' Dr Chua was also one of the non-Muslim cabinet ministers that last year stood up for the rights of minority religions in Malaysia stands proof positive of his hypocracy, as how can one defend religion publicly whilst privately practice loose morals!

For the Pak Lah to retain Dato' Dr Chua in his cabonet would result in a further erossion of its authority to administer and address issues related to religion, which is being particularly challenged at this point in time.

The first line in the tenets of this country, the Rukunegara, is "Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan" or "Belief In God". It is incumbent on this government to ACT on this of all Rukunegara.

By the way, I wrote ACT with emphasis with the hopethat any 4th floor boys reading this don't think Pak Lah can get away with lame spins like:
  • We leave it to the leadership of the component party... or
  • It is a private matter... or
  • We have discussed with yadda yadda and will come to a conclusion soon... or
  • We leave it to the wisdom of the grassroots...

Pak Lah, we are still waiting for you to lead. If you can't show leadership on this issue, an issue of morals and religion, for which you have even have a university degree on(!), then...

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