Sunday, August 30, 2009

Be an informed patriot!

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” This was the famous and inspiring quote by American author and essayist, Edward Paul Abbey, on patriotism.

This is one of my favourite patriotism quotes as it is so appropriate and inspiring. Unfortunately this was not instilled among us, our young generation especially, by our government since independence, for reasons best known to them.

This somehow reminded me of what Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said during his speech in a function at Atlantis Restaurant recently, on the advice once given to him by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed when he was still the PM, that he (Dr Jeffrey) should not teach the people what they don’t know.

August 31 is a significant day for our country as it is the day she achieved independence 52 years ago.

And as usual, weeks before that, the government started a series of campaigns to whip up the people’s patriotism spirit especially to remind them to hoist the national flag or the Jalur Gemilang at their homes, kindergartens, schools, colleges, schools, universities, shops, hotels, mamak stalls, mini buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles etc.

In the meantime, government leaders and politicians talked about the importance of patriotism, often with strong emphasis on loyalty to the ruling government.

Throughout the years, I’ve come to realize that while many people including my friends and relatives may talk about patriotism during this period of time, they may not really understand its true meaning, especially since they have been indoctrinated by the government-controlled media over the years besides such idiotic program like “Aku Janji” for the civil servants to pledge their undivided loyalty to the government of the day.

Hence, what really concerns me here is the misconception of patriotism. Let’s examine what patriotism means. The base of the word “patriotism” comes from the Latin word patria, meaning fatherland or homeland and the suffix “-ism” is Greek meaning belief in, practice of, or condition of. The literal definition is then belief in one’s country.

Patriotism goes beyond that definition. It must be displayed in both war and in peace, and more importantly when the country is being ruled by a corrupt and tyrannical regime.

It is shameful how all these years Malaysians been indoctrinated by the Barisan Nasional government and its leaders, that patriotism means unquestioning support for the government, which thus allows them to unjustly subdue right thinking-and-patriotic Malaysians from continuing to fight for justice, democracy and the rights of the people..

Therefore, an “informed patriotism” is what our beloved country really needs. It is neither the blind faith in the government nor blind opposition to the government. This patriotism is the informed love and appreciation for the government that truly upheld justice, democracy and transparency – the fundamental element of good governance, and not government that is shamelessly indulging in corrupt and undemocratic practices to benefit a privileged few.

A government is and should be founded on the principle of mandate of the people - that is the essence of democracy. Hence, it is vital that we constantly question the actions of the government. If not, then there is no limit to its power. When we remain silent and cease to take an active role in the conducts and operations of our nation’s leaders, we validate the ascendancy of an “invincible government” that has no qualms practicing absolute power. The cornerstone of our way of life will be fundamentally destroyed to the core.

I take this great opportunity to share with you the following inspiring patriotism quotes by some of the great Statesmen and civil activists in the world, with the hope that you too would be inspired to become an ‘informed patriot’. I wish you all a “Happy 52nd Merdeka Day”!

* To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.- Theodore Roosevelt

* The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain - George McGovern

* The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. - Mark Twain
* Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. – Mark Twain

* My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its office-holders. - Mark Twain

* To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism. – G. Edward Griffin

* My Country! When right keep it right; when wrong, set it right! - Carl Schurz

* The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair. - H. L. Mencken

* This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in. - Theodore Roosevelt

* Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong. - James Bryce

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stop being a devil in disguised

HERBERT Timbon Lagadan, the State Assemblyman for Kadamaian is an interesting character. This is because before joining politics, he was a pastor. According to his bio-data posted on his Website, he possesses a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Theology ( London ).

In Malaysia , there are probably only two pastors who had joined politics over the years. Herbert is one of them. The other one is Pastor Jeffrey Kumin of Sabah DAP, who joined the party just before the last general election and subsequently became its Inanam Division Chief.

Pastor Jeffrey once described his venture into the politics as answering the God’s calling to better serve Him and his children. As for Herbert, while i’m not sure what it was, I’m willing to give him the benefits of doubt that he too still and constantly has God in his mind.

Of late, Herbert who is a Vice President of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) was again in the limelight when he extended his invitation on behalf of his party to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Vice President, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan to rejoin PBS.

To many, and as rightly pointed out by Dr Jeffrey in his response recently, Herbert’s gesture was merely a move aimed to cause a rift and instability in PKR Sabah. Dr Jeffrey even reciprocated Herbert’s invitation by counter inviting the entire PBS including his own brother, Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan to join him in his struggle for the people of Sabah .

I think Herbert and the entire PBS should seriously consider Dr Jeffrey’s counter offer if they sincerely have the people’s interest in their mind still.

As a former Pastor with a degree in Theology, Herbert should have the wisdom to differentiate between what is right and wrong, and what is good and bad for the people. Most importantly, he should be able to see the suffering of the people under the present regime.

Herbert and the entire PBS should conduct a serious soul searching to examine why the gap between the rich and the poor in this country is getting bigger, and why Sabah, despite its abundance of natural resources has gone from being the richest state in the country once, to the poorest state now.

When PBS rejoined Barisan Nasional (BN) in 2002, its leaders especially its deputy president, Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili had claimed that once PBS returned to Barisan, the illegal immigrant problem would be solved.

But its former leader cum anti-illegal immigrant activist Dr Chong Eng Leong last year revealed that Dr Maximus had been advising Pairin against PBS sending in memorandums to various groups as it was tantamount to stabbing Barisan in the back again. Disappointed with PBS’s deviation from its original course, Dr Chong later ditched the party and joined PKR Sabah.

Herbert should also realize that one of the perennial issues affecting the people of Sabah is the native land issue which PBS failed to address even when it was in power for nine years. Now, the natives of Sabah are fast becoming the landless people which will eventually reduce them to squatters in their own land.

And as the State Assistant Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister, Herbert should also realize that despite the current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s sounds good slogan of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.” and paying the same for the income tax, the people of Sabah are still paying a higher price for a majority of goods and services in the state, as compare to their West Malaysian counterparts. In the meantime, the per capita earnings of Sabahans are still the lowest in the country.

The number and magnitude of scandals under the BN rule were simply mind-boggling. They included the Mongolian model, Altantuya’s murder, deaths in custody which include A Kugan and Teoh Beng Hock, the manner the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) persecute the opposition leaders but chose to look the other way when it involves politicians of the ruling coalition like the former MB for Selangor, the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, the president of MCA and the Chairman of the BN Backbenchers Club in the ongoing PKFZ scandal.

If despite all these glaring instances Herbert still consider BN a noble and credible political party to be associated with, then I would like to dedicate this evergreen oldies of the late Elvis (click and listen to the song) “Devil in Disguise” (see lyrics attached below) to him, plus this quote from the holly Bible – “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.” – Matthew 4:77”.

I would also like to share with you an inspiring video clip sent to me by an avid reader of this blog. If Herbert or any of the PBS, UMNO, UPKO, PBRS, LDP, MCA, GERAKAN, and the other BN component parties leader happen to watch this video clip, I sincerely hope they too would be inspired to make a change.

Devil in Disguise

You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise
You're the devil in disguise
Oh yes you are
The devil in disguise

You fooled me with your kisses
You cheated and you schemed
Heaven knows how you lied to me
You're not the way you seemed

You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise

You're the devil in disguise
Oh yes you are
The devil in disguise

I thought that I was in heaven
But I was sure surprised
Heaven help me, I didn't see
The devil in your eyes

You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel

But I got wise
You're the devil in disguise
Oh yes you are
The devil in disguise

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sabah UMNO puteri dies in illegal abortion?

IT APPEARS that nothing seemed to be alright with Malaysia politically, economically, socially and even health wise nowadays. Interestingly, everything seemed to be connected to the UMNO-led Barisan National (BN) government, whose reputation is now in its record low.

Among the appalling incidents that are still fresh in the minds of many Malaysians include the controversial deaths in custody which include 22-year-old A. Kugan, DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock, who died at the premises of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters, and now with the scores of deaths caused by A H1N1 virus epidemic which total number has now reached…..76? at the time this posting was uploaded.

This inevitably reminded me of an interesting comment by a golfing buddy of mine that all these could be due to the ‘curse of Altantuya’? He believed that as long as the real culprits behind Altantuya’s gruesome murder are not brought to justice, her soul will not rest in peace and she will continue to wreck havoc on those who ordered her despicable execution using the military grade ‘C4’.

Very recently, on 7 August, a 27-year-old woman from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah was reported to have died in Cakung, East Jakarta , in an untimely manner.

According to a news report by the Jakarta Post dated 8 August, 2009 ( link to news report), the deceased had died after she underwent an abortion in an abortion clinic there, to get rid of her four-month-old fetus.

It was also reported that East Jakarta police arrested a midwife who allegedly ran the illegal practice, as well as her two assistants from the clinic.

What’s significant about the incident is that the deceased, Alimida binti Zakaria is said to be a member of UMNO Puteri Kota Kinabalu and the ‘biological father’ of her four-month old child, is an official of Kota Kinabalu UMNO Youth, currently working as a senior officer of the State-owned Sabah Urban Development Corporation (SUDC) while the father has a medical profession background specializing in treating women. The wife is said to be a close relative(1st cousin) to the current Chief Minister of Sabah , Datuk Musa Hj Aman (pic below).

According to reliable sources, Alimida’s body was brought back to Kota Kinabalu on the 13th August and was buried on the following day at the Likas Muslim cemetery. The funeral was attended by family members and close friends.

Alimida’s family was said to be now questioning her actual cause of death. They were earlier told by the two men who accompanied her to East Jakarta that she had died in a road mishap. The two men are said to be close buddies of her boyfriend cum ‘biological father’ to their now aborted child. Alimida’s family had no idea of the actual purpose of her trip.

Meanwhile,a specialist gynecologist in Sabah when contacted by me said that abortion is illegal in Sabah, and nobody should be doing it.An abortion will only be perform if the patients life is in jeopardy.When ask what could be the cause of a patients death if an abortion is done on a woman in her 4th month of pregnancy,the gynecologist said,lost of excessive blood,unequipped facilities and no medical experience.

Apparently, her boyfriend had requested the two to accompany her to East Jakarta as his own wife was going to give birth..

Alimida’s friends and colleagues in Puteri UMNO as well as in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), were said to be outraged after reading the news about her untimely death in the Jakarta Post.

According to one of her close friends, Alimida was a nice and approachable person but certainly not the wild type. She also claimed that Alimida’s boyfriend had promised to divorce his current wife and to marry her after this.

“He even promised to buy her a house,” claimed Alimida’s friend.

This friend of Alimida and a few others plan to approach Alimida’s family after this, to try to convince them to seek justice for Alimida.

It was also reliably learned that Alimida's name had been mysteriously removed from the Kota Kinabalu UMNO Puteri's name list, probably an attempt to disassociate her from the organization in order to protect its good name and 'maruah' (dignity).

I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the family of Alimida Zakaria.May justice be served on her death.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The present government needs to be filtered more than anything else

BESIDES the escalating A H1N1 mortality, the ongoing inquest on mysterious death of DAP political aide, Teoh Beng Hock, the most talked-about-and-debated issue of late must be the controversial attempt by the BN government to put up Internet filter blocking “undesirable websites”.

This somehow reminded me of the controversial posting in the blog of former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahatir Mohammed (left)shortly after the announcement of the present Cabinet line-up by his protégé cum present PM, Datuk Ser Najib Tun Razak(below right), claiming that “several unsavoury characters who had been accused of being corrupt while in the previous government” had slipped in into the Cabinet.

Interestingly, four months after the formation of the new Cabinet and the appointment of the six Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) ministers last month, we have not seen any of the suspected “unsavoury characters” being dropped. In other words, they are still there, probably quietly continuing with their old trait.

Perhaps it’s only appropriate that Mahathir should now come out and call for a “thorough filtering” of the present Cabinet (below right) and to remove these “several unsavoury characters”. Otherwise he should immediately retract his statement and publicly apologies to Najib and his entire Cabinet as well as the Malaysian public for misleading them.

The present BN Government also needs to screen and filter all of its ministries, departments, judiciary and law enforcement agencies of “unsavoury characters” who had caused a lot of damages to this country. This includes the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) whose reputation has further plunged to all-time low with the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock and the outcome of several other cases very recently.

It’s interesting to note how Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim (left) who on 7 August, 20009 confirmed and strongly supported the controversial “Internet filter” plan, was quick to dismissed it on Wednesday. This was obviously due to an outcry from politicians from both sides of the divide as well as criticism from industry bodies.

While it was reported that Najib had disapproved the “Internet filter” plan, he owes the Malaysian public a truthful explanation on how such a plan came about, with the tender exercise calling for companies to put proposals to assist the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to evaluate an Internet filter, done secretly without informing the public.

After all these years, we’ve seen many of the BN’s “good guy, bad guy” play-acting.

But, if it is proven that such an idea was indeed the brainchild of Rais, then maybe he should gracefully bow out, for what he did was rather irresponsible and a total violation of the “No Censorship” guarantee stipulated in the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees announced by Tun Dr Mahathir during his tenure as Prime Minister.

As a senior and learned minister, Rais should be aware of the far-reaching impact of such move, if implemented. Under the Sesawe project, there are altogether 18 countries currently blacklisted as “pariah nations of the Internet world”, for implementing similar move.

Rais should realize that unfettered access to the Internet is economically crucial for Malaysia, as it was reported to have attracted RM1.6 billion worth of investment from technology companies annually.

The said move if implemented, would seriously hamper the series of economic liberalisation measures announced by Najib recently to attract foreign investment, and diversify Asia's third-most trade dependent economy away from its reliance on electronics and commodities exports.

Boosting banking, finance and the knowledge economy, all of which are key planks of Najib's economic strategy, would be impossible without a fast and unfettered Internet access. This ridiculous restriction will not only reflect badly on Malaysia but also cause existing investors to pull out from Malaysia and potential investors to shy away.

In short the Barisan Nasional Government is as good as convincing foreigners that Japanese sushi is in fact cooked food.

Therefore, Rais is clearly unfit for his present job in this dynamic ICT era. He probably must have forgotten the fact that he is essentially a civil servant whose salary is paid by the taxpayers. Hence, whatever move or decision he made must be in the best interest of the nation and its people, and not that of his political masters. It seems that he is worse than his two predecessors.

At least one of them had the courage to engage in a public debate with opposition leader like Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left), instead of throwing tantrum and chiding some reporters who were merely doing their job.

The proposed move also demonstrated the government was incapable of countering the many issues and questions raised by the cyber journalists and bloggers on the Internet. The government need not impose a tight control on the mainstream media and fear the online news portals and the bloggers, if all these while it had done nothing wrong except things that are truly in the best interest of the nation and the people.

The main reason why the masses started to boycott the mainstream media for the online news portals was because of the manner the mainstream media were exploited to become the ‘mouthpiece’ of the ruling government and a ‘convenient tool’ to smear the opposition.

The worse being the suppression and concealing of the ruling government’s wrongdoings or incompetence.

I may not be trained as a journalist but I do understand what does freedom of the press means, as one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States, George Mason passionately put, that “The freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.”

On that note, I must salute the President of Gerakan cum Minister in the PM’s Department, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon (right) for his firm stand against censorship of the internet and that there should be freedom to voice differences of opinions.

"Why should we have that (censorship of the internet)? We should be able to debate and engage in debates - even if they are critical we accept and we have to respond to the freedom of views and expressions," he said.

Koh said the government can correct its shortcomings through the criticisms and opinions of the public through the internet.

"If we stand corrected by constructive criticisms then we will gain the public's confidence," he said.

While he agreed to some form of censorship for pornographic material on the internet, he firmly maintained that there should be no attempt to drown out political dissent, warning that if there are more attempts to curb public expression, it will only fuel hatred towards the BN government.

Before I sign off, I would like share with you a famous free speech quote by renowned American Constitutional Scholar, Thomas I. Emerson – “Suppression of expression conceals the real problems confronting a society and diverts public attention from the critical issues. It is likely to result in neglect of the grievances which are the actual basis of the unrest, and this prevents their correction.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

“1Malaysia. Govt 1st. People Last"

ONCE AGAIN, the Barisan Nasional (pic left) (BN) led Sabah State Government demonstrated its “sheer callousness and arrogance” by approving salary hikes for the State Cabinet Ministers, Assistant Ministers, House Speaker, Deputy Speakers, assemblymen and political secretaries, between 10 and 30 per cent beginning June 1.

“Sheer callousness and arrogance” because this was done in a time when a majority of the people in the country, Sabah especially, is feeling the pinch of the global economy downturn.

Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Radin Malleh (pic right) of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) even got the cheek to say that "the increment was in line with the increasing cost of living".

If even the Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman (pic below) and his Cabinet Ministers are being affected by the increasing cost of living, what about the ordinary folks of Sabah then, who do not have all the perks and privileges enjoyed by the formers of who live in luxurious houses and chauffeur-driven in Government vehicles which fuel expenses and maintenance fully borne by the taxpayers?

Why not take a pay cut and experience the hardship that the people are going through now? This way they can truly be with the people - "berat sama dipikul, ringan sama dijinjang". After all, weren't assemblymen elected to serve the people? Or do they feel they deserve more than what they are getting after having worked so hard turning Sabah into the poorest state in Malaysia through lop-sided deals, inflated negotiated tenders and 'duty-free' logging??

This can only happened in the absence of a formidable opposition in the State Assembly.

And it again showed the ‘true nature’ of the BN government, who obviously cared for themselves more than the people who voted them into power.

The other two glaring examples of BN State government’s sheer callousness and arrogance were when it decided to dump the national cars Proton Perdana for the luxury Volvos in Middle of last February, then followed by its controversial decision to get the State-owned Sabah Credit Corporation (SCC) to convert its long-abandoned, dilapidated Khidmat building into a private hospital, claiming it to be in the people’s best interest..

The most outrageous endorsement to such move was probably from the Deputy State Speaker cum PBS Information Chief, Johnny Mositun who described it as “the best Kaamatan gift” for the people of Sabah.

The State Cabinet right from the Chief Minister to the political secretaries should be grateful that the people of Sabah were so kind that they had not demand for their salary cut. By right, they should first find ways to assist the employers in the State to raise the wages of the employees, especially those from the low-income bracket who are currently struggling to make ends meet with their meager income.

Maybe none of the children of our Chief Minister and his Cabinet Ministers are working for others in the state, or maybe they just don't have to, as they all of them have their own projects or companies to run. Therefore they are ignorant of the fact that Sabah workers are probably the lowest paid in the country, despite a high cost of living.

This is the reason why our youths and school leavers, especially those from the rural areas like Ranau, Telupid, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Pensiangan, Sipitang etc continue to leave the state to work in Peninsular Malaysia or Singapore, as the employers there could afford to give higher pay.

Instead of raising his own salary and that of his entire State Cabinet and their Political Secretaries, the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj. Aman should make good use of such increment to help the poor and destitute in the State.

The pay hikes move had also completely thrown the Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak's “1Malaysia. People 1st. Performance Now” motto out of the window into the drain.

But, I must commend Luyang Assemblywoman, Melanie Chia (pic right) for questioning the salary hikes for the State Cabinet and its lot and calling for its postponement until the global and national economy becomes more stable.

I hereby strongly call upon the opposition Representatives in the State Assembly not to accept this increment as a sign of protest and to maintain your integrity, to show that you are indeed with the people, especially in this difficult time.

A poll has appeared at the sidebar of this post,your voice and vote must be heard.