Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why are the Chinese skinny?

Why are the Chinese skinny?
Nov 28, 2008
China Daily

WHAT makes Chinese people so skinny? Is it all due to genes? A more active lifestyle?

In her new book, Why the Chinese Don't Count Calories, British writer Lorraine Clissold set out to discover what it was that kept the Chinese so skinny when they were eating large, delicious meals, while she and her British and American counterparts were suffering on bland salads and still not managing to lose weight.

Interviewed from her home in North Yorkshire, Clissold's ultimate answer for the secret to the slim Chinese physique is not surprising: the traditional Chinese diet, supported by a strong cultural background.

Humorous and insightful, Why the Chinese Don't Count Calories is a thought-provoking analysis of what makes the Chinese diet work. Drawing on Clissold's 10 years in Beijing as a teacher of Chinese cooking and presenter of a cooking programme on CCTV, it will likely have many readers re-examining their lifestyles and eating habits.

Although it isn't your usual dieting book, it also includes tips and recipes for non-Chinese readers so they can incorporate some of the healthier aspects of Chinese diet into their lives.

Clissold lays out several ideas for why the Chinese diet is so healthy, ranging from what is actually eaten to attitudes toward food.

Vegetables play a much stronger role in Chinese cuisine than in a British or American one. Instead of being relegated to limp supporting roles, vegetables are much likely to be stars of the show, and appreciated on their own with meat used as a flavouring or side dish.

Taking in liquid food also plays an important role. Chinese and Western ideas about soup are extremely different. Western soups are often hearty and sometimes even 'a meal in its own right', but Chinese soups tend to be based on simple broths, providing a liquid element to the meal that is full of nutrients.

'By drinking the liquid in which the vegetables are cooked, Chinese diners ensure that no vitamins are lost during the cooking process,' she says.

Clissold also believes that China has a much stronger culture of eating as an enjoyable communal activity, making every meal an occasion.

She says that while she has always been fascinated by food, British attitudes toward food were often based on guilt over how many calories were consumed, and unhealthy cycles of guiltily eating rich meals only to punish herself by having a bland meal afterwards.

Clissold says: 'In China, I found myself surrounded by people who enjoyed eating, ate until they were full three times a day and never worried about getting fat or talked about cutting back to compensate after a good meal.'

One of the most intriguing parts of Why the Chinese Don't Count Calories is in Clissold's examination of how Chinese food culture is influenced by Taoist ideas about food and the body.

'Chinese people have never doubted that what you eat is directly related to your state of health. They eat to nourish the whole body, rather than being concerned with just its outer shape, which is the case with many Western diet regimes,' she said.

She describes the need for balance in a diet, balancing out both yin and yang foods as well as the five flavours: sweet, pungent, salty, sour and bitter. Each flavour affects a different organ; for instance, sweet flavours affect the spleen and the stomach, while bitter flavours affect the heart and the small intestine.

'The right amount of a flavour will benefit an organ; too much will put it out of kilter and damage the organ. A good Chinese diet will feature a mixture of yin and yang foods and the five flavours.'

Even a properly cooked, traditional Chinese meal will reflect this kind of balance, as no one flavour will overwhelm the others, or a bitter dish may balance out a sweeter one.

Clissold believes that Westerners tend to overindulge in particular flavours in their diet, leading to bodies that Taoist food theory would consider unbalanced and dysfunctional.

'Sweet (and bland) foods are the pre-dominant flavours in most Western diets, which is why many Western waistbands are stretched to the limit and digestive disorders are so common.'

She also compares the way that Chinese food is holistic with Western ideas of breaking down foods to their nutritional components, a notion that does not acknowledge that foods work in tandem with each other.

'Modern nutritionists break a meal down into proteins, carbohydrates and fats,' she says. 'There is increasing awareness of the need for vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients but the Western nutrition model combined with the ready availability of food in the West tends to promote very limited eating.'

One surprising discovery that Clissold made during her research was that the Chinese actually consume 30 per cent more calories than Westerners but stay 20 per cent slimmer, a claim originally made by T Colin Campbell in The China Study, a comprehensive survey that examined the link between diet and disease in China and other countries.

The China Study debunked the idea that the Chinese are thinner because of a more active lifestyle and therefore consume more to maintain this lifestyle. In fact, to make its point, the survey compared the least active group of Chinese, office workers who led sedentary lives, with a more active group of average Americans who exercised moderately.

But even as The China Study extolled the way that rural Chinese ate, one danger that Clissold sees is that as China modernises, the Chinese themselves are moving away from their own traditional diets with their accumulated knowledge and falling into Western practices of eating on the run, snacking, buying processed foods and consuming empty calories, leading to the diseases of the industrialised world: cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Still, she ends her book on an optimistic note about the role of foreign influences in Chinese cuisine, saying, 'I have faith that the influence will not be long-term. Chinese culture has done a pretty good job of withstanding invasion to date.'

China Daily/Asia News Network

I sabotaged the boss, says Khalid

I sabotaged the boss, says Khalid
28 Nov, 2008

"I sabotaged his plans. The fact is we won in other States with the help of other parties in Pakatan Rakyat. Why should we form a State government with BN?" he told Malay Mail yesterday.

By Zainal Epi, The Malay Mail

Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad has claimed that he had sabotaged plans by Selangor Pas commissioner Datuk Dr Hassan Ali to form a possible joint government with Barisan Nasional after the March 8 general election results were announced.

"I sabotaged his plans. The fact is we won in other States with the help of other parties in Pakatan Rakyat. Why should we form a State government with BN?" he told Malay Mail yesterday.

BN had won 20 State seats in Selangor, and former Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo had mooted the idea of an alliance with Pas, which won eight seats.

Dr Hassan accepted Mohd Khirs invitation for a discussion, but the talks failed. Pas then stayed with Parti Keadilan Rakyat, which won 20 seats, and DAP, which secured two seats in Selangor.

While Khalid, who is the older brother of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Shahrir Abdul Samad, got his way in thwarting a BN-Pas coalition, he himself has been ejected from the State Pas line-up announced by Dr Hassan last Friday.

Khalid, who was the party's State deputy commissioner, said the differences in opinions and approaches between him and his boss had reached a non-reconciliation stage.

"He wanted team players in the committee and I cannot be a team player with him as the boss. So, he dropped me and chose his men. Now, I will wait and see if he delivers or not," Khalid said.

"Its either he stays or I stay in the State committee. There is no way we can reconcile and sit in the same committee anymore."

The bad blood between the two has been a long-standing issue way before March 8 with Dr Hassan wanting more seats for Pas so that the party could play a more prominent role in the State if the opposition alliance were to win.

However, Khalid felt that Pas should just help strengthen the Pakatan Rakyat alliance in Selangor and take the lead in the other States.

"Put it this way...I am closer to the Pakatan Rakyat government while Dr Hassan is inward looking. He does not want to play second fiddle in the State government while I am willing because in Pas-held States, other parties in Pakatan Rakyat are playing second fiddle. This is what Pakatan Rakyat is supposed to be," he said.

The split between the two does not stop there. The relationship between the Pakatan Rakyat-led State government and Selangor Pas is also strained.

Dr Hassan has disagreed on several policies implemented by Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim that he deemed were not beneficial to the Malays in the State but his arguments have been ignored.

This had led to him shying away from several State exco meetings recently.

Some Pas members believe that Dr Hassan might continue to stay away from the State exco meetings and this would affect relationships as well as the position of Parti Keadilan Rakyat as the backbone of the State government.

Khalid is a close associate of PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, while Dr Hassan was moulded by former Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib.

Fatwahs galore

Fatwahs galore
26 Nov, 2008

In time, these great Islamic empires became so corrupt that they eventually disappeared from the face of this earth. What we see in the Middle East today is the residual of the once great Islamic empire from the Golden Age of Islam.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Aiyah, so many people phoned me to ask why I have not written about the current fatwah controversy. People seem to have the impression that it is my duty to talk about everything under the sun. I think enough people, right up to the Sultans and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have touched on the matter. Do you really need me to also offer my two cents worth?

I suppose I can’t run away from my ‘duty’ of also whacking the issue seeing that I have been ‘officially’ labelled as an insulter of Islam. People just expect me to put my foot in my mouth on any issue involving Islam. Anyway, he goes.

I have no problems with the Fatwah Council or religious bodies coming out with fatwahs. It is not like anyone would follow them anyway. It is just an exercise in hot air as far as I am concerned. I mean, take the many ‘fatwahs’ already passed by God and cemented in the Quran for eternity. Do Muslims really take heed over what has been forbidden by God?

I remember a talk that Sheikh Imran Hosein once gave in Kuala Lumpur about ten years ago on the subject matter of riba’ or usury. We published his lecture into a booklet and distributed it free to all and sundry.

Sheikh Imran said that, according to the Prophet Muhammad, there are 80 levels of usury, bribery being just one of them. And the sin of the lowest level of all, said Sheikh Imran, tantamount to the sin of sexual intercourse with your own parent.

Can you imagine yourself having sex with your father or mother? Well, the sin of the lowest level usury is the same as the sin of sex with your own father and mother. And bribery is not the lowest level yet. So the sin of bribery certainly ranks higher than the sin of sex with your own mother or father.

Is there a fatwah on bribery? Do you even need a fatwah from the Fatwah Council or any religious body when God has already issued His ‘fatwah’? A man-made fatwah would be unnecessary and redundant. A fatwah can never make bribery more haram than it already is. And that is probably why no one sees the need for coming out with another fatwah.

But this does not stop Muslims from taking bribes. Considering that more than 90% of Malaysia’s civil servants are Muslims, and bribery is most rampant amongst the civil service, this would mean the Muslims are the most corrupt lot, at least as far as Malaysia is concerned.

Look at Umno. Even Tun Dr Mahathir laments about corruption in Umno. They call it ‘money politics’, of course, but this is just corruption by another name. And are not all Umno members Muslims (except for maybe some from Sabah)? Umno is actually very concerned about the matter and can’t quite figure out what to do. Even the most corrupted Umno leaders are concerned about it. When the crooks worry about the spiralling crime rate then rest assured the problem is very serious indeed.

Sure, ban yoga for all I care. After all I do not do yoga and it does not really affect me personally. Even ban lipstick and high heels as well if that makes us more Islamic. Have separate checkout counters for men and women and ‘his’ and ‘her’ swimming pools. These, to me, are small potatoes. But while we are at it can we also issue fatwahs and ban the more serious practices that ail the Muslim community? Can we ban corruption?

I don’t see how yoga, lipstick and high heels can weaken the ummah (community). I don’t think Muslims will convert to Hinduism or Christianity because of yoga, lipstick and high heels. But corruption can destroy the ummah. And most Islamic communities have collapsed because of corruption.

Muslims are fond of talking about the ‘Golden Age of Islam’. Yes, at one time, Islam was a great empire. But it no longer is. And why is that? In time, these great Islamic empires became so corrupt that they eventually disappeared from the face of this earth. What we see in the Middle East today is the residual of the once great Islamic empire from the Golden Age of Islam.

And that is why the 'fatwah' from God, as related by the Prophet, says that bribery is one of the 80 levels of riba’ and the sin of the lowest level of riba’ tantamount to the sin of sex with your own parent. And this is more disastrous than yoga, lipstick or high heels.

Muslims have to get their priorities straight. Sure, come out with fatwahs if need be. But let these fatwahs be about what really ails us and not about some minor issue that was not really a danger to the ummah in the first place.

Armain Carlier, my one-time business contact from Schlumberger, related a story about how he went to Iran many years after the Iranian Revolution. He was there to visit their partner and to see how their joint-venture factory was getting along. It had been years since anyone from Schlumberger had visited Iran and they did not know even if the business was still in operation.

He was surprised when their Iranian partner handed him a cheque for the profits they had made over all those years. He thought the factory no longer existed, let alone was still making a profit. And he never expected Schlumberger’s Iranian partner to be so honest as to hand Schlumberger’s share of the profits over to him.

Carlier was so impressed and said that Islam must be a great religion if its people can be so honest. Yes, that is the example of an un-corrupt Muslim, which impressed even a non-Muslim like Carlier. And this should be the target of the Fatwah Council and religious bodies, to indoctrinate Muslims into becoming honest and un-corrupt.

So carry on fatwahing. I have no problems with that. It is just that maybe we should put yoga, lipstick and high heels way at the bottom of the list of items to be banned. Corruption should be the first target. That hurts us more than yoga, lipstick and high heels. That was what saw the end of the Islamic empire. That was what caused the extinction of the Golden Age of Islam.

And this fatwah fiasco has raised another problem. It has set the Rulers and religious authorities on a collision course. Will we now see a turf war between the Rulers and the religious authorities? The outcome of all this is going to see one party embarrassed, either the Rulers or the religious authorities. And would this not be embarrassing for the Malays as well? And, in the meantime, corruption prevails. It is getting from bad to worse. And no one wants to come out with a fatwah on this.

Rude, crude and obscene - and untouchable

Rude, crude and obscene - and untouchable

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 – He is untouchable. He can use swear words with impunity. He can spray sexist comments in the chamber and use sexual innuendo when he sees fit.

Judging by proceedings in Parliament since the March 8 general election, Datuk Tajudin Rahman, the Barisan Nasional MP for Pasir Salak can pretty much do as he pleases.

He is also living proof that some of the lessons of Election 2008 are being ignored and tossed aside by elected representatives. A walking advertisement that, despite being decimated in five states and having its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament taken away, arrogance and pride still courses through the veins of ruling coalition members.

More troubling perhaps for the average Malaysian is that Tajudin Rahman’s boorish behaviour is a reflection of the reality here – that the winds of change ushered in by the events of March 8 have begun to wane and that Malaysia is settling down once again to a state where apathy and fatigue reign.

Where the public feigns outrage at excesses of politicians and the government, then do a collective shrug of their shoulders and put it down to the way of life here.

Politicians from both sides of the divide know the drill. And that is why the likes of Tajudin Rahman and before him, Datuk Badruddin Amiruddin, Bung Mokhtar Radin and Mohd Said Yusof have shamed the House with outrageous remarks with the conviction that they will be untouched by any sanction or rebuke.

Still, it appears that Tajudin is in a class of his own. In this same Parliament session, he has called his nemesis, the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat a “bloody bastard”, introducing colourful language which the House has not heard before.

Granted that M. Kulasegaran has the ability to get under anyone’s skin with his comments, but "bloody bastard" in Parliament?

Tajudin was asked to withdraw his comments and went on his merry way. Yesterday, he scored a hattrick. The skirmish happened when the House was debating a motion by DAP’s Teo Nie Ching to cut the Education Minister’s salary by RM10 for failing to meet his promises on vernacular schools.

Within minutes of the motion, a shouting match ensued between MPs from BN and Pakatan Rakyat.

During the uproar, Tajudin called Kulasegaran “keling’’. Several minutes later, he labelled PKR’s Azmin Ali as a “biol” (dumb).

Azmin said: "This is too much. If it is only once or twice it is forgiveable, but every time he opens his mouth, he has no respect for anyone."

After being directed by Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee, Tajudin reluctantly withdrew his remarks.

But he outdid himself later when he attempted to interject while Pas’ Mujahid Rawa was debating on Teo’s motion.

This was the exchange.

Tajudin: Oh, tak masuk lagi?

Kiandee: Dia tak bagi, Yang Berhormat. Tak bagi.

Tajudin: Dia tak masuk lagi? Dah lama tak masuk-masuk. Main tepi saja.

Mujahid: Yang Berhormat Pasir Salak sabarlah.

Tajudin: Bila nak keluar lagi air dia ?

DAP’s Fong Po Kuan evoked Parliament’s Standing Orders against Tajudin for using offensive remarks. In all likelihood, Tajudin will be given a rap on his knuckles by the Speaker. He may be asked to apologise, something he has done a number of times since Parliament was convened.

Will he face any action from Umno or BN leaders? Unlikely. The prevailing view among Umno politicians is that BN needs some “fighters’ in the chamber to keep the resurgent Opposition in check.

Will the BN Whip Datuk Seri Najib Razak haul Tajudin up and read him the riot act? Unlikely. His supporters argue that there is only one way to deal with the likes of Azmin, Kulasegaran and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the loss of two-thirds majority. And that is not by yielding any ground or being cowed by the Opposition.

Will Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi do anything? Unlikely. He is already in retirement mode and only has time for several pieces of reforms which he has to push through before March 2009.

So looks like we will be stuck with the untouchable Tajudin Rahman and his antics for some time.


Challenge accepted

Challenge accepted
27 Nov, 2008

Negeri Sembilan History Association treasurer, Mohd Misan Mastor, said Raja Petra Kamarudin is ignorant of history for saying that Chin Peng was a freedom fighter and has challenged Raja Petra to provide proof. The proof that Misan seeks is in chapter 34, PUTERA-AMCJA Conference (1947), in the book, MALAY NATIONALISM BEFORE UMNO: THE MEMOIRS OF MUSTAPHA HUSSAIN.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Raja Petra ignorant of history, says historian

SEREMBAN: Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin has been described as being ignorant of history for assuming that the former secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya, Chin Peng, was a freedom fighter.

Negeri Sembilan History Association treasurer Mohd Misan Mastor said today the Malays had fought colonialism since the fall of Melaka Sultanate and throughout the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese occupation.

"Chin Peng was not the first man who put up the fight," he told Bernama here.

He was commenting on a recent talk by Raja Petra who said that the country's independence was initiated by a non-Malay, and that Chin Peng was a freedom fighter.

Mohd Misan said the peak of the Malays struggle for freedom was when they thwarted the British effort to introduce the Malayan Union which, among others, would have usurped the powers of the Malay rulers.

He challenged Raja Petra to prove that the independence of the country was due to the efforts of others.

"This is what happens when the Malays lose their spirit of nationalism and become ignorant of history," he added. (Bernama)


The fight for Merdeka started before the Second World War and continued all through the Japanese Occupation of Malaya. After the War, all the races, members of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) included, joined hands to fight for Merdeka. Only when the British refused to accept the Malayans’ terms for Merdeka did the CPM take to the jungles to continue their opposition to the British. But it was not only the members of the CPM who took to the jungles. Many non-Communists did as well and they filled the ranks of the CPM guerrillas.

The struggle for Merdeka was not an exclusive Malay affair but an effort by all the races, as the following piece shall show. It cannot be denied that, before that, many Malays did oppose the British and some died because of it. But it was not until the Second World War, during the Japanese Occupation, when the idea of Merdeka was finally taken to a higher level of a united Malaya or Federation of Malaya -- a Federation comprising of the Straits Settlements, Federated Malay States and Unfederated Malay States. Before that, all the states were independent of one another and no nation, as we know today, existed.


PUTERA-AMCJA Conference (1947)

By the grace of God, through the PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, I was given a second opportunity to participate in efforts towards drafting Malaya’s Independence Constitution. The first time had been in July 1945, through the Japanese-sponsored Hodosho and KRIS, at a time when Japan was like a dragon in its death throes, struggling against the Allied onslaught. There were two differences. My first effort had been with Dr Burhanuddin, who had served the Japanese Sumatra-Malaya Military Administration in Taiping while I was a farmer. Then, there had been only five Malay States; this time, there were nine.

On 22 December 1946, multi-ethnic, but mainly non-Malay leftist political bodies in Malaya formed a coalition called the All-Malayan Council of Joint Action (AMCJA). Its members comprised:

1. Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) – led by John Thivy,
2. Malayan Democratic Union (MDU) – led by John Eber,
3. New Democratic Youth League (NDYL),
4. Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Ex-Comrades Association (MPAJECA),
5. Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Unions (PMFTU).

Four months later, on 22 February 1947, left-wing Malay parties formed their own coalition during a meeting at the MNP Head Office in Kuala Lumpur. It was called Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (PUTERA) or the Centre for People’s Power. Led by Ishak Haji Muhammad (Pak Sako), the member parties were:

1. Malay Nationalist Party, MNP as its nucleus – led by Dr Burhanuddin
2. Angkatan Pemuda Insaf, API (Generation of Aware Youth) – led by Ahmad Boestamam
3. Angkatan Wanita Sedar, AWAS (Generation of Conscious Women) – led by Shamsiah Fakeh
4. Gerakan Angkatan Muda, GERAM (Young Generation Movement) – led by Aziz Ishak and A. Samad Ismail
5. Barisan Tani Se Malaya, BATAS (Pan-Malayan Farmers/Peasants Front) – led by Musa Ahmad,
6. Majlis Agama Tertinggi SeMalaya, MATA (Pan-Malayan Supreme Religious Council).

While travelling all over North Malaya with Dr Burhanuddin, we had discussed, at great length, the forthcoming PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, consisting of left-wing Malay and non-Malay political parties, to promote our demand for Independence from the British through constitutional means. Most post-war non-Malay unions and political parties were left-leaning. MNP was the only Malay political party which, even as early as 1946, had realised that Independence could not be achieved unless the demand was unanimously made by the three major communities in Malaya – the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians.

UMNO, led by Datuk Onn bin Jaafar, had yet to fathom this reality, and continued to function as if it was still in pre-war Malaya. In 1951, six years after the war ended, an UMNO-led delegation went to London to demand more Malayan Civil Service officers, more Malay police officers, especially above the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), and improvements in Malay education and other issues. Yet not one mention of Merdeka (Independence) was made. Ironically, it was also in 1951 that Datuk Onn began to realise that the co-operation of non-Malays was vital for obtaining Independence.

As mentioned earlier, Ishak Haji Muhammad had been earlier sent by Dr Burhanuddin to Kuala Lumpur to meet AMCJA representative Gerald de Cruz to initiate arrangements for PUTERA and AMCJA to work hand in hand in our struggle against the British. The resulting draft, The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya, was the document Ishak Haji Muhammad had handed to Dr Burhanuddin and me at the end of our two-day Balik Pulau visit. Ishak said, “This is all I managed to achieve. If something is unsatisfactory, please bring it up at the forth- coming PUTERA-AMCJA meeting.” We promised to go over the draft on our way back to Kuala Lumpur. Ishak left before we could even invite him to a meal. Dr Burhanuddin commented, “Ishak is like that. He is a man of few words.” I suspected a slight tension between Dr Burhanuddin and Ishak then; they could hardly bring themselves to talk to each other.

I was willing to play the role of the mediator. However, there were four things that kept the two connected: the struggle, the party, the Malay race and the nation. Nothing could keep the two men apart with these four elements present.

The clauses proposed by AMCJA and MDU were for:

1. Malaya and Singapore to be united.
2. A popularly elected Federal Consultative Council.
3. Equal citizenship rights to be accorded to all those who considered Malaya their permanent home and the object of their undivided loyalty.
4. The Malay sultans to become constitutional monarchs. The British would no longer have the right to interfere or advise the Malay sultans. The popularly elected Federal Consultative Council would be exclusively responsible for all such advice.
5. Islam and Malay customs would be fully controlled by the Malay people through a special council, not by the sultans.
6. Special privileges for the advancement of Malays in all fields.

Having read the draft, I was certain that if the leftist Malay parties accepted the draft in toto, the parties would lose credibility, influence and support. However, in the draft’s preamble I saw a loophole in the words ‘the Nine Malay States’. I drew Dr Burhanuddin’s attention to the word ‘Malay’. If we ‘used’ this loophole wisely, the Malays would gain substantially. During the tiresome mail train ride from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, Dr Burhanuddin was happy with one boiled egg, a banana and a cup of coffee. I had to supplement that with a plate of fried rice from the buffet coach. Food was important to me.

As I had mentioned, as soon as we arrived in Kuala Lumpur from North Malaya, we looked for lawyer John Thivy at his High Street office. He was MIC’s Secretary-General, while Budd Singh was President; both were socialists. Thivy, being from a notable Kuala Kangsar family, fully understood Malay customs and aspirations. He confided in us that the Indian community shared a common fear with the Malays – that of being drowned by the Chinese. He therefore promised to support all proposals beneficial to the ‘safety’ of the Malays and Indians. I believe Thivy left MIC when it leaned to the right; I am told he is now in Fiji.

Before attending the PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, we Malays met in the rented Kampung Baru home of Ibrahim Karim, API’s Secretary- General. We drank black coffee out of a pail for lack of proper utensils. It was bought with the paltry balance of money collected from our garland-auctions and the sale of photographs of Dr Burhanuddin and Ibrahim Yaakub. Disappointingly, the photos were not selling. No one bought the one of Ibrahim, although he was then deemed a Malay hero.

We took a bus to a five-storey building in Foch Avenue, the highest building in Kuala Lumpur at the time, where the MCP flag fluttered inthe wind. However, the conference was not held on the floor housing the MCP’s headquarters. Desks were arranged in a circle. Dr Burhanuddin sat rigidly, with me on his left, and Taha Kalu on his right. John Eber (MDU) was on Taha’s right and farther on, beside John Eber, were Ahmad Boestamam (API), Lim Kean Chye (MDU) and John Thivy (MIC). Ishak sat opposite me with Conference Secretary Gerald de Cruz (MDU) on his left while Sir Cheng Lock Tan (AMCJA) dressed in a shirt and coat ensemble sans tie, sat on Ishak’s right. On Sir Cheng Lock Tan’s right were representatives from the New Democratic Youth League (NDYL), Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Ex-Comrades Association (MPAJECA) and Cheng Loo from the Pan-Malayan Federation of Trade Union (PMFTU) – all very young men. They were probably the front men or dummies. Everyone held a draft of The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya. Mine was full of markings, reflecting my pre-occupation during the train journey.

The PUTERA-AMCJA Conference began with a speech by Ishak as Chairman. We had to tread carefully; no undesirable elements should come into play lest an ugly impasse rear its head. Nothing untoward must happen to jeopardise our efforts to gain the nation’s Independence. We had to be of one heart; bickering would only contribute to prolonged British rule. Even the normally vocal and aggressive Ahmad Boestamam was extraordinarily impassive. Everyone adopted a passive attitude, a patient disposition, a tolerant demeanour, a peaceful mind and a united stance. Everyone wanted an end to British rule. Everyone craved to live in a free Malaya. Chairman Ishak was extremely careful in choosing his words and ministering his responsibilities. The only one who spoke more shrilly than the rest was Conference Secretary Gerald de Cruz, who was known for his humour and jest. All the six items were endorsed with ease. I noticed that the representatives from the NDYL, MPAJECA and PMFTU hardly uttered a word, just like Sir Cheng Lock Tan.

On behalf of PUTERA, I proposed four more clauses to strengthen our rights, referring to the magic phrase ‘the Nine Malay States’ already in the preamble as proof of PUTERA’s absolute right to claim them:

a. Malay to be Malaya’s national and official language,
b. Malaya’s defence and foreign policies be handled by the Malayan and British Governments with equal responsibility,
c. Melayu (Malay) as the nationality of the people of Malaya,
d. The National Flag would have a red band above a white one.

Clauses (a) and (b) were quickly endorsed with the support of NDYL, MPAJECA and PMFTU representatives who abhorred colonialism. But clause (c) raised the conference room’s temperature. The same degree of unrest was experienced each time the Malays demanded a 60-40 quota in the running of the administration and in employment.

Sir Cheng Lock Tan vehemently opposed demand (c) while the three young men looked calm enough. I stood up to voice my disappointment at the opposition, drawing their attention to one question. How would hundreds of thousands of Malays – supporters of MNP, API and AWAS in the kampungs – react, should PUTERA announce that ‘Malayan’ and not ‘Melayu’ would be the term used to describe the people’s nationality? They would probably charge at us like bulls provoked by a red cape. Leftist Malay parties would be ruined, much to the glee of the British and right-wing Malay parties.

Even though I had presented my case with great care, Lim stood up and remarked, “We are not dogs to be led by the people. We lead the people.” In response to such strong words, I retorted in a flash, “Are you not here at this conference table because the people chose you? Do not humiliate the people. You ought to retract your words.”

I then saw Conference Secretary de Cruz write something on a large piece of paper and hold it up for all to see. On the paper was written “CRACK” in big, bold letters. Chairman Ishak wisely proposed the matter be handled by a sub-committee later that evening and its decision be announced the next day. The sub-committee met that night in Kampung Baru over a Malay dinner of rice and tapioca shoot vegetable curry, during which time a PUTERA representative managed to positively influence members who had opposed the proposal to describe our nationality as ‘Malay’.

We had asked, “What is wrong with using the term ‘Malay’ to describe our nationality? If this request is denied, we can only deduce that colonial elements have infiltrated this conference, and that colonialists are still in control.” Gerald de Cruz loved Malay food. Perhaps the tapioca shoot vegetable curry contributed to the agreement that ‘Malay’ will be the agreed nationality of the people. I was glad that the matter had not split up the conference. Actually, the Malay nationality proposal was won due to the votes of the three Chinese youths. They were the first ones to be convinced by our little speech and appeals.

On the second day of the PUTERA-AMCJA Conference, API leader Ahmad Boestamam, who was honoured with the final vote, gave PUTERA the winning edge. With that victory, I felt that the Malay states and the Malay race would be forever preserved. In Hang Tuah’s words, “The Malays will not perish from this earth.”

Next in the discussion was the question of citizenship. AMCJA had proposed the jus soli concept, but PUTERA found it difficult to accept. However, Taha Kalu seemed to agree with jus soli. As he sat near me, I raised my fist as if to warn him, “Should you support this jus soli concept, I will punch you.” To my relief, he voted in support of PUTERA. Despite some frantic hand signalling, Ahmad Boestamam – who sat at a distance from me – did not understand my signals. He chose AMCJA’s stand. I said to myself, “Allah! What will happen now?”

The AMCJA won and we were in deep trouble. My mind quickly came up with an idea to overcome the matter. Pretending not to know the meaning of ‘amendments’, I asked the chairman to define the term. Then, I asked what ‘clause’ meant. I pretended not to know these words so as to allay the fear of the others. I then proposed a ‘clause’ be included to determine the quota for Malays and non-Malays in all Federal Councils and in all government business. I wanted a restriction or a certain formula in the Malay and non-Malay sharing.

Conference secretary Gerald de Cruz commented on my proposal as sweetly as he could. He said he had anticipated it. He explained that if the ‘universal franchise’ policy was adopted, the Malays should get 95 per cent of the vote and 95 per cent of all seats and posts. The other conference members were taken in. Chairman Ishak could not do much as his hands were tied. Dr Burhanuddin’s mouth was shut tight, as the conference was conducted in English. (Earlier, when the ‘national language’ issue was being discussed, non-Malay members had asked for a compromise, “Please give us ten years to master the Malay Language.”

In view of this, how could we compel them to use Malay at the conference?) I stood up, stating with great care that, “We Malays do not want 95 per cent as that is unjust. We do not want 80 per cent as that would be unfair. Neither do we want 80 per cent or 70 per cent. But in the name of all Malays who own this land, we want 60 per cent. We ask for only 60 per cent because we are holding fast to the concept of democracy. At the same time, we want to preserve the rights of the people of this land.”

I was shouted at by the MDU leader, the lawyer John Eber. He snarled, “I did not want to say anything harsh earlier, but now, I have to. The truth is, your people do not have the right to claim Independence – what more to obtain other people’s help to appeal on your behalf.” He added, “We are the ones who are willing to work with you and help you claim it. Now you want to determine the quota for yourselves and for us?” He paused and continued, “I am standing here to promote my party principles and one of them is democracy.” Before sitting down, he pointed his finger at me and asked clearly, “Is he democratic?”

I was forced to stand up another time to respond to his words. I forgot how to remain calm and collected. I had forgotten about compromise and co-operation. Luckily, I remembered Sutan Jenain’s words, “Be hot in the heart, but not in the head.” With whatever was left of my composure, I said, “Look at the appearance of PUTERA members, the Malays, at this conference. Their hair uncombed, clothes unkempt and not ironed. Some did not have a chance to wash as they slept in bus stations and train stations in order to attend this conference. Some did not even have breakfast. They drank coffee out of a pail. But you, sir (looking at John Eber), even though you were given a comfortable rattan chair, you still need a folded towel to serve as a cushion. Who among us truly needs Independence, you or us?” John Eber got up to pull the folded towel off his chair. His face was red with anger. He was enraged, but I could not care less. An insult for an insult!

The Chairman stood up to calm the situation and again suggested the quota issue be discussed by a sub-committee. The outcome was positive. AMCJA agreed to the 60-40 quota. I was thankful to God for His blessings. The Malay States and the Malay people were now secure and safe. This would maintain Malay pre-eminence. The outcome would guarantee the future of the Malays, especially in a situation where non-Malay votes may outnumber Malay votes. I must add that MIC John Thivy in the AMCJA kept his word by giving us his vote every time, to our mutual benefit.


The ten principles we discussed came to be known as the Ten People’s Principles, to represent all communities. Since The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya was endorsed and announced to the nation, the PUTERA-AMCJA partnership was reinforced because the masses, not the administrators and the elite, were strongly behind us. The final copy of The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya was sent to the British Government as the voice of the different communities living in Malaya who clamoured for Independence. The people’s response to the constitution was proof of their spirit. But the British appeared unconcerned, refusing to hold discussions with us, or even to read the constitution, as if nothing urgent was happening. We had to think of our next constitutional move. As a result, the hartal of October 1947 was organised and received widespread support from the people. Shops and business houses shut their doors. Kuala Lumpur looked deserted.

What the Dailies Wrote

I don’t remember what the Malay papers wrote. Majlis was certainly in opposition to the hartal as it was wary of any co-operative efforts by the three races. But the 23 September 1947 edition of The Straits Times described the hartal as: “The first attempt to put Malayan party politics on a plane higher than that of rival racial interests and also the first attempt to build a political bridge between the domiciled non-Malay communities and the Malay race”. The other English language newspaper editorials also found The People’s Constitutional Proposals for Malaya generally fair.


The PUTERA-AMCJA effort was my third attempt to gain Independence. I had failed in all three but I continued to work towards loosening the colonial grip on Malaya and freeing Malaya from British fetters. With that uppermost in my mind, I decided to continue fighting for the cause with Dr Burhanuddin. As that required my staying on in Kuala Lumpur, I felt that it was time I brought my family (whom I had left for months in Matang) to join me in Kuala Lumpur.

Sexism in politics

Sexism in politics
27 Nov, 2008

By Marina Mahathir, The Nut Graph

IN October, I had posted on my blog my thoughts on Datuk Chamil Wariya's despicable short story based on a character very similar to DAP Member of Parliament (MP) for Seputeh, Teresa Kok.

I had wondered aloud whether there was a sexist element to recent incidents involving opposition MPs. Most of my commenters opined that there was nothing sexist about it, just the same old politics, and that indeed I was imagining things.

Still, I have to wonder. Since when have firebombs been thrown into anybody's garden in this country, regardless of their political beliefs? If this is a new phenomenon, how is it that in both cases they were aimed at women — Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan, Chair of the Bar Council (albeit they got her address wrong), and Kok?

Has there ever been a case where a short story based on a character, so closely resembling a real-life person that there is no mistaking who she is, ended so violently? I don't recall any in recent memory. Would it have attracted the same attention had the lead protagonist been a man?

Even more recently, Datuk Tan Lian Hoe, Gerakan Wanita chief, was attacked by male MPs for some remarks she made about the New Economic Policy (NEP). The substance of her remarks aside, the attacks upon her seemed particularly vicious, as evidenced by the televised proceedings of Parliament that day. The man doing the attacking looked like he was ready to physically attack her, not just to dress her down verbally.

Not really an apology

Not that attacks on female MPs are anything new in Parliament. Most people can vividly recall the lewd remarks made by some male MPs aimed at their female counterparts. After public outcry, the male MPs only grudgingly apologised, if their utterances could even be called an "apology". Few other male MPs said much in defense of their female counterparts. The impression is that Parliament is full of braying hounds, laughing at women who squirm in a space the men obviously think of as only theirs.

Perhaps that is the core of the issue — men still think that politics is not really the place for women. If they have to be there at all, female politicians should be seen and not heard, and even then, only spouting sweet flatteries to their male leaders.

Exclusive boys' club

Crude jokes and leery one-liners are thus a form of sexual harassment. They are aimed at making the work environment so uncomfortable and hostile that women will be deterred from any ambitions to participate, or will be forced to quit. Thus will the boys' club of politics remain exclusively testosterone-powered.

Not only is the form of politics sexist in nature — it could be argued that even when politics does not relate directly to women, an element of machismo alien to female discourse is evident. It is surely no coincidence that incidences of keris-waving and other supremacist postures occur in male-dominated fora.

The person who called non-Malays pendatang and who then launched a whole chain of unsavoury events was certainly a strutting rooster of the worst kind. The fact that two of the "beneficiaries" of his strutting were a young female reporter and Kok is not coincidental.

Neither was the paternalistic excuse given by the minister in charge of arresting them under the Internal Security Act (ISA) that it was "for their protection". The protection excuse had never been used when men were arrested under the ISA. Whether it is merely a slip of the tongue in the case of the arrested women or underlying patriarchy at work is up for discussion.

But it must be said that within female political circles, supremacist talk is minimal, if it exists at all. Perhaps women are by necessity more concerned with the difficulties of gaining even the slightest smidgen of power — a result of male supremacy — that talking about racial supremacies seems irrelevant.

When women succumb

It is worthwhile to note, however, the case of the Perak state assemblywoman who caught people's attention by making a racist joke about Indians. Women will succumb to the temptations of race-baiting when in the company of men. One could postulate that this is merely to gain the attention of the men in order to advance one's own position. To join the braying hounds, one needs to bray as well.

Which leads us to muse on whether our political environment would be different if women ruled the roost. Trying to imagine the Malaysian political scene differently is hard — it is so dominated by both men and racial politics.

Unfortunately women in politics have only kowtowed to the system and have steadfastly refused to buck it. In the recent MCA elections, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen was elected the party's first female vice-president in its history. It was undoubtedly a remarkable achievement.

(© Stephen Stacey /
Nevertheless, in the early days of nominations, Ng still felt the need to talk about canvassing the grassroots membership for their views on having a woman leader. Men never feel the need to ask if their sex matters because they know that being male is what gives them political currency.

But then Malaysia is not alone in this. In the recent US elections, the question in people's minds was whether Americans had any problem electing a black or a woman as president. We know the answer now but some people still feel that they would rather elect a man of any colour than a woman.

Others may point to the elevation of an unknown woman candidate for vice-president as proof that Americans, even Republicans, are making progress. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sarah Palin got her chance because she was a man's ideal female candidate — good looking, motherly, and untainted by modern feminist ideas.

When she became more assertive and therefore veered from the feminine, the carpet was pulled from under her. If Senator John McCain's campaign still thought Palin could offer a winning chance, women refused to fall for it, seeing the whole charade for what it was.

Maybe the sexism in Malaysian politics is all in my head. Maybe I am just imagining it. But I prefer to call it intuition

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some breast cancers may naturally regress: study

Some breast cancers may naturally regress: study
Wed, Nov 26, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - Researchers who tracked breast cancer rates in Norwegian women proposed the controversial notion on Monday that some tumours found with mammograms might otherwise naturally disappear on their own if left undetected.

But leading cancer experts expressed doubt about the findings and urged women to continue to get regular mammograms, saying this screening technique unquestionably saves lives by finding breast cancer early on when it is most treatable.

Dr. Per-Henrik Zahl of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo and Norwegian and U.S. colleagues examined invasive breast cancer rates among nearly 120,000 women age 50 to 64 who had a mammogram -- an X-ray of the breast used to find evidence of cancer -- every two years over a six-year period.

They compared the number of breast cancers detected with another group of about 110,000 Norwegian women of the same age and similar backgrounds who were screened just once at the end of the six-year period.

The researchers said they expected to find no differences in breast cancer rates but instead found 22 percent more invasive breast tumours in the group who had mammograms every two years.

This raises the possibility that some cancers somehow disappear naturally, although there is no biological reason to explain how this might be, according to Zahl, whose findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"We are the first ones to publish such a theory," Zahl said in a telephone interview. "What we say is many cancers must spontaneously disappear or regress because we cannot find them at later screenings. I have no biological explanation for this."

Mammography and breast self-examination for tumours are standard methods used for early detection of breast cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide.

The American Cancer Society estimated that about 465,000 women die of breast cancer globally each year, and 1.3 million new cases are diagnosed.

"I think generally when we look at studies like this it is important to keep in mind there are some studies that change practice and others that make us think a little bit more, said Dr. Eric Winer, director of the Breast Oncology Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

"The idea that somehow these cancers go away entirely is, I would say, an intriguing hypothesis, but one we don't have a lot of evidence to support," said Winer, who was speaking on behalf of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

In much of Europe women undergo mammograms every two years after age 50 except for in Britain where it is every three years, Zahl said. The American Cancer Society recommends that women get an annual mammogram beginning at age 40.

Bob Smith, director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society, said Zahl's team misinterpreted the data, and expressed doubt about the idea that a significant number of breast tumours "spontaneously regress."

"I imagine there are still some people who believe the Earth is flat, but there are not very many of them," Smith said in a telephone interview. "It's not usual -- it happens every day that research is published that gets it wrong."

The researchers acknowledged many doctors might be skeptical of the idea but they cited 32 reported cases of a breast cancer regressing, a small number for such a common disease.

The researchers said their findings provide new insight on what is "arguably the major harm associated with mammographic screening, namely, the detection and treatment of cancers that would otherwise regress."

Mission and vision statement, revisited

Mission and vision statement, revisited
25 Nov, 2008

We use our enemies to fight our enemies. Enemies of our enemies become our friends. We keep our friends close and our enemies even closer. That is the order of the day.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I have said this before and it looks like I will have to say it again. Malaysia Today is about the fight for social justice. And just what comes under the ambit of social justice? I suppose anything that touches or affects our daily lives.

Racism, inequality, economic disparity, any form of violence, oppression, persecution, a manipulated judiciary, an unfair election system, social problems, any form of slavery, suppression of the fundamental rights of citizens, violation of the Federal Constitution, corruption, plundering and mismanagement of the country’s coffer; you name it and it would certainly be a fight up the alley of Malaysia Today.

These are actually very broad issues and within each issue they can again be dissected into sub-issues. For example, ‘any form of violence’ could be about wife beating, police violence, road rage, the Mat Rempit problem, crime on the streets, and so on. ‘Suppression of the fundamental rights of citizens’ could be about the stifling of freedom of speech, the University and University Colleges Act which forbids students from speaking out or from getting involved in politics, the Police Act which forbids assemblies of more than four people, the Publication and Printing Press Act which makes it mandatory to apply for a licence before one can publish a newspaper and which is renewable every year, and much more.

Okay, those are our focal points. Those are the issues that have become our focus. Most Malaysians would agree that these are issues that ail our society and which need addressing. But how do we address them? How do we attack these issues and grab them by the horns? This would involve a viable strategy and a coordinated and concerted tactical move. Knowing the problem is one thing. Knowing what to do about them would be the more important issue.

Understand one thing, the problems that plague us are merely the symptoms and not the disease. We can’t get rid of the problem by curing the symptoms. We need to get to the root of the problem and attack them there. Once the root of the problem has been eliminated, the problem will cure itself. But too much time is wasted trying to cure the symptoms rather than the disease itself. And this is why we see very little success from all that effort. And this despairs us and leaves us with the feeling that whatever we try to do is pointless. It leaves us with the feeling that it is hopeless to continue because whatever we try to do we will never see changes.

To understand where we are now, we must first understand where we came from and where we wish to go from here. Therefore, it is crucial that we know our history. Once we know our history and understand what went wrong then we will know what needs to be done to be able to put things right.

Malaysia is 51 years old. For me to explain what happened over the last 51 years and to plot the probable scenario the next 49 years and what Malaysia will be like when we celebrate our Centennial would require me to write a thesis. But then I can’t do that in my normal three to four pages and I am really not looking for a PhD. But how do I summarise in 1,000 words what would require 100,000? Let me try.

In any turn-around exercise, you need to look for the top ten problems. Then you attack the top three and most likely the top three would represent 80% of the organisation’s problems. This means just by solving the top three problems you solve almost all the problems. And chances are you need no longer even look at the balance of the problems because by solving the top three, which represent 80% of the problems, the other problems solve themselves. In other words, the other problems are the result of the top three and by taking care of the top three the balance takes care of itself. And even if they don’t you can still live with them if the top three or 80% of the problems no longer plague your organisation.

So what are the top ten problems facing Malaysia and what are the top three? Let us try to look at them in order of importance and in the priority that it impacts society.

1. Violation of the Constitution.
2. Erosion of the independence of the four branches of government.
3. Arrogance of those in power.
4. Denial of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
5. Corruption.
6. Mismanagement of the nation’s coffer.
7. Unequal representation of the people.
8. Lack of understanding of the nation’s history.
9. Distorting of information.
10. Poor education system.

That would be my list in order of priority. Of course, this may not be the list of others and, even if it is, the order of priority could be disputed. And certainly our problems are not confined to just these ten. Nevertheless, my believe is that by attacking the top three problems we need not even look at the balance seven because the balance can solve themselves if we tackle the top three.

For example, items 4 and 7 can be addressed by solving item 1 while items 5 and 6 can take care of themselves if we solve item 3, etc. So, by my reckoning, solve items 1, 2 and 3 and most problems will go away.

The Constitution that we have is already quite complete. But this Constitution has been amended so many times and these amendments have distorted what our Founding Fathers and the British Colonial Masters who gave us our Constitution had originally intended.

Many laws that we have today actually violate the Constitution and were formulated using provisions in the Constitution that allow for ‘illegal’ laws. For instance, Malaysia declared an emergency 46 years ago and, under the emergency provision, laws can be passed which actually take away your rights that were originally guaranteed in the Constitution. But the circumstances (war with Indonesia) that allowed for laws which take away your rights have long since disappeared but the emergency was never lifted and therefore the ‘illegal’ emergency laws, though ‘illegal’ going by the Constitution, remain ‘legal’ as long as Malaysia is still in a state of emergency.

Lift the emergency, repeal the emergency laws, allow the Constitution to revert to how it was intended, and laws such as the ISA and many more would no longer exist. And the same would apply for laws such as the Police Act, Societies Act, Sedition Act, PPPA, UUCA, OSA, and many more, which would no longer be needed as well since Malaysia is no longer in a state of ‘declared’ war with Indonesia.

Most countries have three branches of government -- the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary -- which are all supposed to work parallel to one another and independent of each other. Malaysia, however, is unique. Malaysia has a fourth branch, the Monarchy. If the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and Monarchy were all independent of each other then we would have a fantastic system of checks and balances.

As it is now, power rests in the hands of the Executive and the Executive tells the other branches of government what it should do.

Imagine a company run by the Managing Director who does the accounts and audits the books plus he is also the Registrar of Companies who is supposed to safeguard the interest of the investors. A well-run company has to have an accountant who manages the books and an auditor who checks the books and a Registrar of Companies who make sure that the MD, accountant and auditor all do what they are supposed to do and according to the law. This means four different parties are involved in safeguarding the company’s money.

In Malaysia’s case the man who runs the organisation also balances the books, check the books, and decides if the books have been cooked -- all four functions in one. How can we expect Malaysia to have any transparency when one man decides all and no one can question or look into what he does?

And this brings us to the third ailment, the arrogance of those in power. The Executive and his band of merry men feel that they are unshakeable and that no one can remove them, so they blatantly do what they want with total disregard for the citizens’ rights and needs. They violate our trust and mandate every step of the way and retaliate with a vengeance if we have the audacity to question them. This is why items 4 to 10 prevail, because they feel they can do what they like and they think there is nothing we can do about it.

Malaysians need to put these people in their place. We need to cut them down to size. We need to show them that the people made them and the people can therefore unmake them. We gave them that power and we can also remove them from power if need be.

Those who walk in the corridors of power are playing the very dangerous divide and rule game. They divide us by race and they divide us by religion. This is similar to a very dangerous time bomb that, if not properly controlled, can explode with drastic repercussions. And this divide and rule game has escalated of late and has become a matter of concern to many Malaysians who realise that not all fires can be controlled, as much as those who walk in the corridors of power erroneously think it can.

So they play the divide and rule game to keep us apart, as they know a united Malaysian bodes trouble for those who wish to cling to power. Then let us too play this same game. Let us too divide and rule them. United, they are too formidable a foe, as would we be too if we are united. So, as they divide us racially and religiously, let us too divide them politically.

We must support Pakatan Rakyat to keep Barisan Nasional in check. When Pakatan Rakyat forms the federal government then we shall support Barisan Nasional to keep Pakatan Rakyat in check. When Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was under attack we supported him (at least Malaysia Today did from 2006) to keep Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in check. Now that Mahathir is, again, strong and his ‘kuda’ is about to become Prime Minister we must support Abdullah Badawi to be able to keep Najib in check.

Yes, it’s a dirty game of checks and balances and divide and rule that Malaysia Today plays. So be it. Dirty or otherwise that is the game they too are playing -- and a more dangerous one of race and religion on top of that -- so let us play that same game. If we can’t beat them, we will join them. And all is fair in love and war and is this not just that, war?

So don’t become perplexed when Malaysia Today changes side and realigns itself from time to time. We do what is expedient and what the situation demands at that point of time. We need to see a two-party system emerge in Malaysia. And we will support the weak to match the strong in our effort to achieve this. We work with the underdog whoever that may be. And we are not apologetic about it. This is not about lack of principles. Our principle is: absolute power corrupts absolutely. So no man or political party must be allowed absolute power.

We use our enemies to fight our enemies. Enemies of our enemies become our friends. We keep our friends close and our enemies even closer. That is the order of the day.

And that will be how we address the top three problems that plague this nation of ours. The US works with the Al Qaeda to fight Russia and with Iraq to fight Iran. In this game of denying someone absolute power there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. Enemies become friends and friends become enemies in the interest of balance of power. Sentiments have no place in this game of power.

Anwar faces long trek

Anwar faces long trek
Tue, Nov 25, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR - AFTER a botched bid to oust the government in September, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will likely have to bide his time until elections in 2012-13 before making another bid for power.

From watershed elections in March to his triumphant return to parliament after a decade's absence, Anwar dominated the headlines. Even his arrest and trial on fresh sodomy charges failed to thwart his campaign to topple the government by his self-imposed deadline of Sept 16.

Victory seemed within his grasp when the government apparently felt compelled to ship 40 MPs to Taiwan on a 'study trip' in mid-September to prevent them from defecting to Anwar's camp and thus giving him a majority in parliament.

The deadline passed. Financial turmoil swept the globe, and with an economic slowdown looming, voters in this Asian country of 27 million people suddenly had more immediate worries than Malaysia's chronic political intrigue.

Now the 61-year-old Anwar, whose People's Justice Party holds its annual convention this weekend, has to explain why he is not addressing the meeting as the new prime minister of Malaysia.

'His (Anwar's) strategy of haste that he adopted after March 8 (elections) stopped working after Abdullah was forced to retire,' said Ooi Kee Beng, an analyst at Singapore's Institute of South-east Asian Studies.

'Now, he has to do it the patient way.' Lacklustre Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi essentially derailed Anwar's express train to power by deciding to hand power to his more assured deputy, Najib Razak, earlier than planned.

Affirmative selection
Mr Abdullah's National Front coalition, which has ruled uninterrupted for 51 years, stopped being transfixed by Anwar and started making policies to deal with an economy that is expected to grow by only 1.5 per cent next year from 5.4 per cent this year.

Mr Najib, 55, will take office in March when he becomes president of the United Malays National Organisation, the dominant party in the 13-party National Front.

Mr Najib, who is deputy premier and finance minister, has taken the fight to Anwar by linking him to unpopular measures proposed by the International Monetary Fund when Anwar was finance minister during the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, while projecting an aura of economic competence himself.

He has announced some measures to offset lower economic growth, but hasn't raided the treasury to do so, putting US$2 billion (S$3.02 billion) saved from petrol subsidies into pump-priming measures.

Mr Najib even stole some of Anwar's thunder by relaxing a requirement that ethnic Malays have to own 30 per cent of companies - one of the affirmative action programmes that aim to uplift Malays who constitute 60 per cent of the population.

Anwar's opposition coalition had campaigned for abolition of those programmes in the March elections.

Inflation is falling rapidly from a peak of 8.5 per cent in mid-year and the central bank on Monday unexpectedly cut interest rates for the first time in five years.

'There's a widespread acceptance that Anwar will no longer take over the country,' said an investment analyst at a foreign bank in Singapore. 'Being PM is out of the question right now.' 'Najib is reinforcing his power base. He's the new face of Malaysia,' he said.

Snap elections?
The opposition and some pro-government newspapers have started to push the idea of snap elections soon after Mr Najib takes power in March, saying he would need to win a popular mandate.

But Umno's coalition allies are still in disarray after the electoral debacle eight months ago.

'The risk (for snap polls) is very great. It will be suicidal because of the hangover from the March political tsunami,' said political author Yahaya Ismail.

Other analysts said Mr Najib would likely wait for mandatory re-drawing of electoral boundaries in 2012 before calling for polls. The government's current five-year mandate ends in 2013.

One glimmer of hope for Anwar could be polls in the timber- and petroleum-rich state of Sarawak on Borneo island. Sarawak has been a Barisan stronghold since it joined Malaysia in 1963 and may hold state elections as early as next year.

Provided Anwar can fend off what he says are politically motivated sodomy charges that are a reprise of the court action that got him jailed in the 1990s, and can keep his fractious three-party coalition together, victory in Sarawak could be another lever to apply pressure to government legislators.

Key to that will be how well the opposition runs the five states it controls. There has already been a backlash in the pro-government media over issues ranging from race relations to dual language street signs.

'The next electoral showdown is the Sarawak election, so it is a given goal for (the opposition coalition) to make an impression there,' analyst Ooi Kee Beng said. 'It will try to open the floodgates so that the 'March 8 tsunami' will flow into east Malaysia as well. -- REUTERS

Shooting nudes for art?

Shooting nudes for art?
Tue, Nov 25, 2008
The New Paper

By Ho Lian-Yi

WEARING nothing but an anklet and a ring, the model, a former Thai adult film actress, reclines on an armchair in a hotel room here, as a group of photographers circles her for a good angle.

Artistic photography or just plain pornography?

Whatever it may be, The New Paper on Sunday found out that such photography sessions are happening here, for groups of amateur photographers.

Local models are also offering themselves for such shoots for quick money, and may sometimes find themselves in unsavoury situations.

Such sessions have been publicised by the organisers on the local photography forum Clubsnap.

Some photographers also display their pictures. There were titles like 'Jess in Nude' and 'Nude Series 1.2 Shoot - Be mesmerized'.

Clubsnap is a Singapore website with nearly 72,000 members where photographers exchange notes and display and critique their pictures. Meet-ups, photo workshops and sales of equipment also take place.

Usually an organiser hires a model and makes a post on the forum with details of the shoots, including whether it's fashion, bikini, lingerie or nude.

Photographers taking part are required to pay a fee, from as low as $15 to $150, or even more.

The organisers, it appears, are often not photographers themselves. They can be models, their agents or others.

The shoots can take place outdoors, in studios, or in hotel rooms.

One photographer at the session with the Thai model made some of his pictures available and gave us his impressions for this report.

The former adult film actress was flown in from Bangkok last weekend by an organiser who had posted his invitation on the forum.

Groups of several photographers were given two-hour blocks to take pictures of the model in a Pan Pacific Hotel room last Saturday.

The photographer said there were four others in the session he attended. They all looked like they were aged 25 to 35.

No contract signing

Each had to pay $150 but did not have to sign any contract.

While the organiser promised 'sexy lingerie to sexy nude pose(s)' on Clubsnap, he downplayed the model's past in his post, saying 'she has discontinued her profession in the pornography modelling industry; therefore strictly no posing of pornography style or equivalent'.

The organiser and an Englishman who claimed to be the model's boyfriend were also present in the hotelroom.

The conversation revolved around lighting and equipment, and nothing was said about women or sex, the photographer said.

The shoot took place in the afternoon, and the photographers had their own equipment. One brought the mobile equivalent of a studio light.

They used mostly mid-range digital SLR cameras.

The model at first wore a tiny red bikini, and about 45 minutes into the two-hour shoot, it came off.

Most of the photographers seemed to be taking tasteful pictures, though one of them was often jostling for shots that may have been more sexually angled.

TIRED: The model drank two cups of coffee during the shoot at a Pan Pacific hotel room. She brought a suitcase of skimp clothes, donning a tiny bikini in the first of three costume changes, before shedding all her clothes.

The photographers requested poses and the model mostly obliged. Some of her poses were sexual in nature, the photographer said.

But she seemed tired, yawned at times and drank two cups of coffee during the shoot.

When contacted after the shoot, the organiser declined to comment.

The question is - when is something like this art and when is it porn?

Professional photographer Albert Chua, who has taken nudes himself, said there is 'a thin line' between a tasteful picture and pornography.

For him, a nude photograph should be about 'showing the body form to its best using lighting and photography'.

Wedding photographer George Wong, 30, who takes nude pictures only of couples for his work, said his goal is to achieve 'good and meaningful photographs', distinct from porn.

The participants could be treading on risky legal ground as the distribution of obscene materials is prohibited under the Undesirable Publications Act.

The penalty is a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

Criminal lawyer Amolat Singh said: 'There is no clear cut definition of obscenity.'

Something is obscene if it tends 'to deprave and corrupt persons' likely to come in contact with it.

He reckoned that in practical terms, something could be deemed obscene if the pictures taken are 'grossly indecent'.

'If they are pursuing the hobby for (artistic) purposes, I don't think they are doing anything wrong or objectionable. But if they highlight private parts or have poses suggestive of sexual acts, they may have crossed the line,' he said.

He said the law doesn't usually go barging into private occasions, but if you disseminate the nude pictures, you could get into trouble for distributing pornographic material.

Lawyer Shashi Nathan said there are nude art works and photos that do not give a sense of obscenity, while some fully clothed people can seem obscene, depending on what they are doing. And what is obscene in one society may not be in another.

He said, based on the photographer's account of the shoot: 'I don't see, on the face of it, anything that is wrong.'

But he suggested there may be 'borderline' issues.

He wondered, for instance, if the model was on a social visit or work pass. If it was the former, she may be violating its conditions.

Any photographer who recorded a video may also be in trouble for making an obscene film under the Films Act.

It could also be an offence for the model under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, which bars people from appearing nude in a public place or in a private place exposed to public view.

'It's a grey area,' he said.

Lawyer Anthony Lim felt that as it involved an adult film star exposing herself, likely for monetary returns, it would be an indecent act.

'If it's in public, they would definitely be charged,' he said.

In private, he said, it depends on whether anybody is insulted by the act, and makes a police report.

Another issue, he said, is whether the hotel has given permission for the activity. It could be an offence if the hotel prohibits such activity.

In October, The New Paper reported on a similar case when a nude model appeared in an online erotic magazine in a picture taken in a local hotel with the Singapore skyline clearly in the background.

Said Ms Cheryl Ng, relations manager at Pan Pacific Hotel, where the latest shoot took place: 'The hotel respects the privacy of guests and will not intervene in guest activities confined within the room. However, based on local law, all guests must be registered at the front desk in the interests of maintaining safety within the hotel.

'The hotel must be informed regarding all photography or filming that will feature the hotel or takes place within public areas. Permission is granted based on the context and availability of resources.'

This article was first published in The New Paper on November 24, 2008.

Calcium, magnesium deficiencies cause insomnia

Calcium, magnesium deficiencies cause insomnia
Tue, Nov 25, 2008

Q: I'M an engineer with two children. For the past two months, I have had difficulty falling asleep at night. And I can't seem to concentrate on my work.

A: INSOMNIA, defined as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, could be a sign of calcium and magnesium deficiencies.

Insufficient amounts of calcium can cause tension, fatigue and cramps, which may interfere with your sleep.

Other contributing factors include stress, asthma, depression, muscle cramps, arthritis and heartburn. It would be good if you could find out the underlying reasons for the sleepless nights.

Diet-wise, you can take calcium and magnesium supplements daily. Magnesium may help promote sleep quality by relaxing the muscles and soothing the nervous system. Regular exercise, avoidance of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol as well as effective stress management is strongly suggested.

Exercising 20 to 30 minutes a day, reading or simply enjoying relaxing routines before bed can make it easier to fall asleep.

As for poor concentration, try taking ginkgo. It can be used to overcome fatigue, improve memory and mental capabilities. Eat more food high in Vitamin B such as eggs, green leafy vegetables and grains.

AsiaOne and NST disclaim any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this article.

This story was first published in the New Straits Times on Nov 24, 2008.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Recession, Dubai style

Recession, Dubai style
by The New Paper|24 November 2008

Champagne flowed, fireworks burst in the nightsky and celebrities were among the 2,000 guests who had descended on Dubai's Palm island to celebrate the launch of Atlantis Palm Jumeirah on Thursday.

Its developers threw a lavish US$20 million ($31m) which saw a star-studded guestlist of names such as Hollywood thespians Robert DeNiro and Charlize Theron, reported AP.

Other celebrities spotted include Michael Jordan, Lindsay Lohan, Wesley Snipes, Mary Kate Olsen, Shirley Bassey, Janet Jackson, Mischa Barton, Yasmin Le Bon, Jade Jagger and Lily Allen.

Even the headline act, Kylie Minogue, made her Middle East debut after being reportedly paid 2 million pounds ($4.6m), reported Guardian newspaper.

After her performance, the sky lit up with the world's largest fireworks display, seven times greater than this year's Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing and extravagant enough to be seen from outer space, said The Times.

Even the menu didn't disappoint.

As guests sipped Dom Perignon, they were treated to food masterminded by four Michelin-starred chefs helped by 500 sous chefs and 1,000 waiters.

In all, some 4,000 lobsters were dished out .

There was no evidence of the global financial crisis as party organisers seemed to pull out all the brakes for the world's most expensive private party.

In defence, British travel agent Graham Frazer said the party was planned a year ago.

The firework show's producer, MrColin Cowie, said: 'Had we been aware of the economic situation a year ago, I don't think we'd have done this on such a scale. But it was all designed a year ago and we wanted to dream - and then live that dream.'

South African tycoon Sol Kerzner, 73, chairman and chief executive officer of Kerzner International, who built the resort on the man-made Palm Island, said the costs were justified.

'If I had it all over again and I understood that the timing was what it was, one might modify a couple of the things ... but not significantly.

"We've built something that's quite extraordinary, and we've got to tell the world about it."
South African tycoon Sol Kerzner, 73, chairman and chief executive officer of Kerzner International, who built the resort on the man-made Palm Island

'When you consider US$20 million, it's a lot of money (until) you consider it up against establishing a US$1.5 billion resort.

'We've built something that's quite extraordinary, and we've got to tell the world about it,' he said.

The 1,539-room Dubai Atlantis resort opened for tourists in September.

This article was first published in The New Paper on Nov 22, 2008.

S'pore to make 'iconic investment' in Iskandar M'sia: Najib

S'pore to make 'iconic investment' in Iskandar M'sia: Najib

Nov 24, 2008
The Star

LIMA, PERU - Singapore has proposed to make an 'iconic investment' in Iskandar Malaysia as a symbol of commitment between the two countries, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib.

He said the suggestion was put forward by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong when the two met at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit here on Saturday.

'The investment will be some sort of high impact economic project that is viable and effective for the two nations.

'The Singapore PM said the investment was a symbolic one as a commitment of his nation to Iskandar Malaysia,' said Najib to Malaysian newsmen at the end of the two-day Apec summit on Sunday.

Iskandar Malaysia in Johor is the new name of the Iskandar Regional Development Area, one of the five regional development corridors launched by the Government in the past four years.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said at the launch of the project that Iskandar Malaysia would be to Singapore what "Shenzen is to Hong Kong" as the area is close to the Second Link that connects the two neighbouring nations.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who was present at the meeting between Najib and Lee, said the two leaders have left it to their officials to discuss details of the proposed investment.

'The officials will also decide on the scope and value of the investment that is to be made,' Dr Rais added.

He also revealed that he would meet with his Singaporean counterpart George Yeo in Bali to discuss the schedule for the negotiations of unresolved issues between the two countries.

Najib had earlier announced that he and Lee had agreed that the two Foreign Ministers should meet to discuss the unresolved points of agreement that was stated in the 1990 agreement between Malaysia and Singapore.

Dr Rais said he and Yeo would discuss the schedule for discussion as well as the issues.