Loyal Followers

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Wolf and the Silence of the Lamb

We have to admit it. That democracy is a flawed system within a bigger political pool consisting of systems which are even more flawed is a fact. That we live within a flawed system out of necessity or the lack of a better alternative - as all the other systems are thought to be worse - is disconcerting, to say the least.

The core of democracy is representation. It is a system of governance where the people are represented by representatives who are elected by the people. These representatives then form a government. The government than governs the people. A state is then formed, consisting of the government and the people it governs.

In theory therefore, the people are actually governing themselves. The representatives, who are elected by the people, are the voice of the people. The state therefore is the manifestation of the people's wishes and desires, expressed through the government which consists of the representatives chosen and elected by the people. Abraham Lincoln, in his famed Gettysburg address, thus aptly described his government as "a government of the people, by the people and for the people".

Karl Marx has his utopia, which is a nation where the people work as one towards achieving a common desire. Where individualism and individualistic needs and objectives are suppressed all in the name of the one and only desire, namely the desire of the state, the one state, so to speak. Utopia is therefore not unlike an ant colony. Or a bee colony. But Marx forgets that the suppression of individualism and individualistic needs and objectives is a denial, and in fact is a transgression of liberty which the state is supposed to protect in the first place. How could liberty be protected by mass suppression?

The obvious flaw in Marx's theory of a utopian society makes democracy a very alluring alternative. If at all, it pushes to the fore the false notion that liberty is the product of democracy, when in fact democracy is just but one of the many (flawed) ways of protecting liberty. Liberty is not caused by democracy. It rather is the cause for democracy.

That brings us to some sobering thoughts. Can liberty be usurped by democracy? Is it possible for a democracy to destroy liberty in itself? In that event, what will happen to democracy? Can it exist without liberty?

The obvious flaw in the theory of democracy, to my mind, is the emphasis it gives to the voice of the people who form the majority. I am of course mindful that the utilitarian principle by Jeremy Bentham posits that an act or policy which brings the most happiness to the greatest number of people would be a good act. Such act, being good, would jurisprudentially, at least, be legally justified. If we take that position to its logical conclusion, the Bosnian massacre would then be a good act. It could then be argued that it was an act of the elected Serbian government which presumably had the support of the majority of the Serbian people. It could further be argued that the objective of that act was to establish a new territory and border thus giving the greatest happiness to the greatest number of the people. Never mind the rights of the Bosnian minority. They were terrorised, tortured, raped and murdered – close to being annihilated - , all in the name of the sovereignty. Was that an acceptable act?

Here lies the biggest weakness of democracy, namely, the trampling of minority rights all in the name of democracy. Viewed from this perspective, democracy is no better than the law of the jungle, where the strong survives and the weak obliterated. If the law of the jungle dictates the right to rule on physical strength, democracy dictates the same on the strength of numbers. The end result is the same, namely, the trampling of minority – the weak – rights.

Let’s face it. The rise of the state to the extent of it overtaking democracy itself is a real threat. We have seen this over and over again. There will come a time, in many civilisations, where the state became the goal rather than the means to the people’s goals and dreams. The end result would be absolutism, where finally the powers centred onto a tiny little dot, namely a figure head or a council of some sorts. The cycle would then continue for a new and fresh struggle for liberty. When achieved, that liberty would again found a democracy. And a new state would be born.

In modern times however, the rise of the state and the taking over of the people’s voices and rights, is much more refined in its operation. It is much more insidious. Democracy lulls people to sleep, especially when that democracy perceivably delivers what it promises, namely, the protection of liberty and materialistic deliverance. Under this model, the sole, or at least the primary, objective of the state would be the maintenance of power within the ruling elite. With that objective, the state or the government would go about “colonising” the minds of the people through state controlled mass media, spin and propaganda machines.

“A vote for us is a vote for a safer nation”, for example. It could have easily been “a vote for us is a vote for the nation”. But the word “safer” is insidiously crafted in that spin. The message is subliminally implanted. Soon the mind of the people would be colonised. It will be set. It is not safe to vote for somebody else. Power is maintained. Objective achieved. Liberty is supposedly protected, when it is in fact shaped, moulded and controlled.

The colonisation of the mind is but the most insidious and most debilitating form of repression. It is non violent, at least not in a physical way. It operates below the surface. It attacks, invades and conquers the sub-conscious. And all these take place in bright daylight, without realisation. Meanwhile, the achievements of modernisation, materialistic possession and physical development serve to opiate the masses into a deep sense of security and achievements. Soon the people are taken over by a serious addiction. An addiction to the way of life which has been planned organised and served by the state.

“Another project by your benevolent Government”, shouts the signboard. Or “a vote for us would ensure political stability and development”. Which is another way of saying “without us, there won’t be any stability and development.” Which means, you will lose whatever you are having now and you will be in trouble. And the conclusion is, “you have no choice but to vote for us!”

Colonisation of the mind is then complete when the people get used to their everyday life. A life courtesy of the ruling elite. Courtesy of the state. And the people would then be lauded by the ruling elite for their wisdom in choosing a government who made it all possible. The people have, by this time, been a victim to their own liberty. They are entrapped and enslaved by the very liberty which they seek the state to protect. It is ironical that democracy could therefore be a premise to absolutism which ultimately end with liberalised slavery.

Ibn Khaldun, in “Muqadimmah” observed that communal spirit (“assabiya”) would band together people from different tribes into a political force. He however noted that as success being achieved and unbridled wealth and good life followed, the people would lose their strength and their ability to fight. Even national security would be taken care of by foreigners as the people would not even want to be soldiers anymore. The leaders would be bathed in opulence, corruption and greed. The good life would soon consume the whole state and that state would soon crumble. It will then give way to newer state which were controlled by another tribe or a group of tribes who were as hungry as the first tribe. The whole cycle would then repeat itself throughout history.

Closer to our time, Herbert Macuse in “One Dimensional Man” would lament the fact that the materialistic world in the post-industrial era would soon reduce the people into some kind of zombies. He would draw a portrait of a "comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom" society where all the technological means provided by our civilisation to free the individual from toil and ignorance would be perversely used to enslave us. The result of all these would be the birth of a one dimensional man, a man who is a happy, enterprising creature who "cannot imagine a qualitatively different universe of discourse and action" than the one he inhabits. He takes his post-industrial world as a given, and seeks to thrive within its sturdy factual boundaries. The one-dimensional man regards society's dazzling array of lifestyles and career options as examples of free choice, rather than what they truly are - false needs that confine his consciousness.

Finally, under the conditions of a mass society, “the multi-dimensional dynamic by which the individual attained and maintained his own balance between autonomy and heteronomy, freedom and repression, pleasure and pain, has given way to a one-dimensional static identification of the individual with the others and with the administered reality principle.”

Be that as it may, democracy, with all its frailties and deformities, is still the best bet that we have. We must always bear in mind that democracy is not about the right to vote or to elect our representatives. It is about our wishes, desires and needs as a member of a society. When we vote and elect, we are appointing a person in whom we would entrust such wishes, desires and needs. That is what democracy is all about.

Democracy can work and work well if, and only if:

· We maintain our awareness and are quick to remind our representatives of our rights and their duties.

· The system of check and balance imbued in our democracy is well observed and is not destroyed. On this, it is disheartening to see that in our country, the Court has encroached on the Legislature recently. It is of further concern that no less than our Federal Court had last year concluded that the doctrine of separation of powers is not part and parcel of our Constitution.

· We must divide and rule our so called leaders. A strong opposition is needed in the Legislature in order to provide an inherent check and balance mechanism in the Legislature itself.

· Our displeasures must be shown where it hurts the most, namely, at the ballot boxes. Once we are not happy with the performance of our elected representative, we must change him or her, regardless of the party he or she comes from.

· We must not support parties or characters. We must support whatever is good for us and for our society. We give credit wherever it is due. For example, the recent cabinet decision on the child conversion issue must be lauded as it reflects progressive thinking.

Let’s not allow the wolf, whom we have chosen to protect our lambs from growing too big and ferocious so much so that it starts eating the lambs which it was supposed to protect in the first place.

We are the shepherd. We decide.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dear Mr Todt,

I am an average Malaysian busybody. And also a petrol head. I am about to shower on you the usual Malaysian hospitality.

On behalf of all average Malaysians, I would like to congratulate you on being accepted by our Government into the Malaysian 2nd Home scheme. I could see that you are well pleased as your application was approved "faster than a Ferrari", to borrow your words. You see, our Government is very efficient. If they want to. That is. But frankly Mr Todt, that was not fast enough. Because Ferraris are not that fast. You should have said, "faster than a Nissan GTR". Now, that would be damn fast!

May I welcome you to Malaysia, your second home. I am sure you will be pleased to bits to be here. Frankly, you will feel at home here. There are so many Ferraris on the road here. And they all drive within the speed limit, namely, 110. But of course they forget, the 110 shown on the Ferrari's speedometer is in mph. At the F1 track, there are also many Ferraris, although, quite strangely, some of them could be seen resting in the gravel trap at turn 13. I don't really know why.

You may want to know what an "average" Malaysian is. Allow me to describe. Average Malaysians are simple men and women. In the good old Great Britain, they might be referred to as "the simpletons". But you must remember, in Malaysia, there are 2 categories of "simple" people.

First, there are simple people with entitlements to a lot of things. Like flying first class on tax payers' money. Like making technical trips to Disneyland, Dubai or where ever. Like staying in Presidential suites at 5 star hotels and being driven in a limousine rented for more than RM2000 a day. These are simple people with entitlements and also with simple tastes.

The second category are the simple people without entitlement. These are people like myself. You can meet these people on the streets of Malaysia, in the LRT, LCCT or at the Central Market in KL. Their Disneyland is in Ulu Kelang. Their Presidential suite is in their own terrace houses. And they are driven daily in buses which also, sometime, double up as mobile caskets!

I was looking at your picture with your pretty girlfriend the other day Mr Todt. Gosh, you look old! But don't fret. In Malaysia, you can get easy and cheap treatment for your old look and start looking younger by the day. You just have to eat what most simple men eat in Malaysia. We call it "tempe" (pronounced "tempt-pay"). Eat that stuff dude. You will look younger in no time. But it won't make you any taller though, sadly. Or any longer, for that matter.

If you are feeling a tad tired in bed, fret not Mr Todt. In Malaysia, we do not take viagra. We take a herb called Tongkat Ali. I tell you. We have Tongkat Ali coffee. We also have Tongkat Ali tea. Even Tongkat Ali isotonic drinks we have. The other day, I even saw Tongkat Ali toothpaste. Although I must confess that it escaped me as to the exact functions of the Tongkat Ali in a toothpaste. Soon I heard, Petronas might have a Tongkat Ali premium fuel for cars like your Ferraris. Perhaps, with that fuel, your Scuderia or Maranello might be able to be nearer to the GTR's tailpipe on the track. Just perhaps.

There are several things which you cannot do in Malaysia Mr Todt. First of all, you cannot, ever ever, mention the name of a certain dead Mongolian woman. No. You cannot do that. You see, I am not even mentioning it. Not only that. You cannot read about her too. Or hear news about her. No, you cannot. Remember that.

If you did, you might be arrested and put in the lock up. Oh no. You wouldn't want that to happen Mr Todt. In the lock up, you might turn crazy and beat yourself with certain blunt, hard, but flexible (let me repeat that, "but flexible") object. This may cause lacerations and deep wounds on your body. But again, do not fret Mr Todt. Because if you do not suffer from an "underlying acute myocarditis", you will be okay. Meaning, you won't die. You will only die if you have that condition. Otherwise, you may continue to whack yourself silly with the blunt, hard but very flexible object and nothing will happen to you. You might froth in the mouth, like the first time you saw Ms Yeoh, but you will not die. Don't worry.

Speaking of being worried, are you worried about your safety in Malaysia? If you do, just call the Home Ministry. It will organise your detention under the Internal Security Act, in order to protect your safety. You can then wine and dine in a dimly lit dungeon. A blunt, hard, but very flexible, object might be given to you for further safety. By the way, while we are talking about safety, you may not want to go anywhere near a place in KL called Chow Kitt. That place, mind you, is so unsafe that even a police beat was closed down because the police were feeling unsafe!

Do you like reality TV Mr Todt? If you do, Malaysia is the place for you. You can choose from an array of reality TV shows. We have all the reality TV shows from the US and UK. But if you prefer local ones, there are also a hell of a lot.

The thing is, Malaysia - the whole Malaysia, that is - is a reality show by itself. But the voting takes place only once in 4 or 5 years. The current reality show started on March the 8th last year. The voting will take place within the next 4 years or so. But sometime, just to test the ground, there will be "mini-voting". Just to allow all Malaysians a chance to show their voting trend in the big one in 4 years time. So far, we already had 5 mini voting.

Ask Ms Yeoh. She might be able to tell you who is leading in this reality show. But then again, this show is so full of twists and turns that you will never know. Just sit back and observe Mr Todt. I am sure there is no other show on earth which is better than this Malaysian reality show. In fact, this blog, and this whole business of you being accepted into this Second home thingy is also a part of the show! Wooo....you are now an actor Bro!

One more thing that you might notice soon Mr Todt is that we are obsessed with the phrase "social contract". Everyone is talking about it, including me. But nobody has ever seen it. Nope. Nobody. I will leave it to you then to surmise whether we, Malaysian, are a hallucinating and delusional lot.

Then there is the mainstream mass media. These are local TV channels and local newspapers. You can of course watch the news on these channels. Or read them from the local newspapers. May I suggest however that after you had done that, please read the same news on the internet. You will find there are differences between the one which you read in the newspapers or watch on the local TV and the one which you read on the net. You are of course at liberty to believe which ever version you like. You would not however be wrong to opine that Malaysian journalists are a schizophrenic lot.

You might not be used to some of our concepts here Mr Todt. In your country, you pay taxes. Your Government then use your taxes to provide amenities for you and all citizens. However, in Malaysia, despite your taxes, you still have to pay tolls for using the highways and pay money for some people to take care of your sewage, for example. You pay duties on your cars and also road tax to use the same. You pay fees for broadband services but you only get slow internet connection and when you ask the provider what the hell is going on, they would say sorry Sir, the speed is on best endeavour basis. Well, sometime, when you are tired, you might just say best endeavour my fu@#ing foot, you cheats!

You will find, Mr Todt, that in the corporate world, Malaysia is quite unique. For example, we have a monopoly business making a 900 million loss! The CEO of that company then became CEO of the year!Then we have a government fund management company whose investment shrunk by 10 billion and instead of raising questions, their fund portfolio is increased by 10 billion too! Then we have a company which cannot deliver ships which they were supposed to build for whatever billions. In your country, the buyer of the ships would terminate the contract and sue the pants off of the ship builder. But here we give extension of time to the builder and voluntarily increase the price of the ships by a couple more billions! And until now the ships are nowhere to be seen. Then we have some kind of a port service area built for gazellions but it is not utilised.

Yes Mr Todt, we are a bit different from the others. Perhaps because we take Tongkat Ali.

May you enjoy your stay in Malaysia Mr Todt.

yours sincerely,

H. Art

ps if you must know, Ferraris are lame!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Joke of the day

What do you get if you cross 5 Federal Court Judges with a virus?

Yes yes... you would get an Ultra Vires. LOL!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Curse of Eve - a bedtime story

By The Special Correspondent

(This awesome piece was written by The Special Correspondent, a very special personal friend of mine, for the magazine Homme, which in turn published it some time back. I would like to share this with all of you. Many thanks to The Special Correspondent for his consent for the republication of this story here. For the record, The Special Correspondent is part man part computer chip who owes his life to the chip more than anything else. He is currently at the tail end of his mid-life crisis but is fast sliding into an old life crisis. He can only count up to one.)

Our story begins thus, as do all bedtime stories …

Once upon a time, far, far away, there lived a poor sod called Adam. God made him from dust. He was immortal. Our hero lived in a beautiful garden called Eden. In the garden there was a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If Adam ate its fruit, he would know the difference between … yes, good and evil. And that would be bad, or must have been, because God told Adam that if he ate from it, he would surely die (Genesis 2:16). Our hero got lonely. So God created Woman from his rib to be his ‘helper’. God loved them. He made them in his image, perfect and sinless. They would never be ill, never be harmed and never die. And God was a real sport when he said, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:27).

And how could they not live happily ever after? …

I must pause here. There is a tiny dispute of fact. This tale in Genesis of the Christian God, his Adam and Eve, suggests that Eve was the first woman. However, a Jewish book called The Alphabet of Ben Sira (circa 8th Century A.D.) tells the story of Lilith; that she and not Eve, was Adam's first wife, created at the same time and from the same dust. Claiming to be thus created equal, Lilith refused to sleep “under him”. This was a problem for our hero who, ever the ladies man, insisted,

I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the superior one.

Lilith freaked. She flew away into the air where she ‘knew’ many demons, spawning hundreds of baby demons a day. And thus was coined the oath “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you were the only man in the whole universe”. Adam sobbed to God, “O Sovereign of the Universe, the woman you gave me has run away”. Oh boo hoo. But God was good to Adam, so he sent three angels after her. They threatened to drown her if she refused to return to him. “O piss off” she must have said, because they did. So God, perhaps regretting Free Will a little, made Eve, but this time from Adam’s rib to prevent her from leaving him.[1]

I readily accept this version as Genesis 1:27 suggests a woman before Eve, but more so because Lilith sounds really hot. Despite Lilith, the consensus is that Eve represents Woman and that She did not come into existence in her own right but only to fulfill man’s needs. This is significant, as we shall see.

Where was I?

Ah yes. There was a serpent in the garden who was actually Satan (Revelations 12:9). Before he lost the War in Heaven, he was called Lucifer, God’s first and most beautiful angel, the Angel of Light. The Morning Star. He felt that although Adam and Eve would be eternally happy in paradise, they would also be eternally ignorant. So he persuaded Eve to eat the forbidden fruit for then her eyes would be opened, and like God, she would have knowledge. She ate. The now wicked Eve then seduced poor Adam into taking a bite himself. Immediately his eyes were opened. With all this knowledge, he realised he was butt naked and so put on an apron (Genesis 3:7).

But then he heard God walking in Eden in the cool of the day. ‘O bummer’, he must have thought and he hid. But God called for him and Adam said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10). (What happened to the apron?).

God figured it out (well, of course He would) and asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam blamed Eve, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed the snake, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate (Genesis 3:13).

God didn’t buy it. The serpent got off lightly though, probably because it was Satan and he was only doing his job. But it was off on its belly for the rest of its life. And to be hated by Eve and her children (oh that must have hurt).

Adam was cursed (for listening to evil wifey, of course), (Genesis 3:17-19):

And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, You shall not eat of it’, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

But Eve’s curse was worse (Genesis 3:16):

To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

And God banished them from Heaven, to the East of Eden. And Death did come to Adam and Eve.

The Christians, in another one of their cool euphemisms like ‘the Rapture’, call it ‘the Fall’. I think ‘the Almighty Cock-Up’ would be more appropriate. But I don’t get what’s so awful about knowledge. Certain Gnostic sects actually honour the snake for bringing knowledge to Adam and Eve. But it is the treatment of Eve that is truly baffling.

Her curse is two-fold. The first was increased pain[2] during childbirth and in raising children.[3] There is also the post natal extra fat, wider hips, stretch marks and of course, the sag. And children will always find ways to break a mother’s heart. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Women have more pain in childbirth than any other creature.

God 1, Woman 0.

And the Puritans took the Curse very seriously. In 16th and 17th century Europe, midwives were tried and burned at the stake as witches for administering any form of pain relief. There was an outcry from the Church when chloroform was discovered and used in childbirth by Sir James Simpson in the early 19th century. It was seen as an unholy attempt to rebel against God’s curse on Eve. Even Queen Victoria was heavily criticized for having used anaesthesia with the birth of her 8th child.

But Eve’s second curse is the real cracker: “… yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” I confess I am thoroughly enjoying the very suggestion of a man’s divine right to rule over his wife. After all, Adam did name her Woman because she was created of man (Genesis 2:18-23). This is no slip of the quill; Genesis earlier recognised the headship of man before the Fall (Genesis 2:18 and 2:22). This means that God’s later ruling ‘he shall rule over you’ cannot be a punishment in itself and is accordingly, simply the way things are. So to obey God’s edict the wife must submit to her husband, I surmise with glee. What’s worse is ‘desire’ is interpreted as Woman’s need to ‘control’[4] her husband. This is a curse because her need can never be fulfilled, as man’s headship is an edict of God that cannot be usurped.

God 2, Woman 0.

St. Paul himself did not accept Woman’s control over man. He said (I Timothy 2:11-15), “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

The Twentieth Century New Testament provides a truly brave translation of this clause, “But women will find their salvation in motherhood”. Try telling Liz Taylor that childbearing and submission to her husband (singular) are her salvation.

But the puritans condemn Eve for the consequence of her deeds. This is what they say. She disobeyed God and seduced Adam to follow suit. Adam was then punished because he ‘listened’ to her over God. Consequently, God cursed the Earth. Their sin, which had not been forgiven by God, was bequeathed to all their descendants. To absolve Man of this ‘original sin’, God sacrificed Jesus, his son in Christian dogma. (Umm, why God did not simply forgive us all without crucifying Jesus is not for me to ask.)

So Eve caused Adam’s sin, the original sin of all Man, the death of Christ and the end of the world. It’s like blaming the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil for a tornado in Texas.[5] All butterflies should have their wings removed and like Woman, find salvation in raising larvae.

The reality, however, is that women are attributed with the qualities of the Biblical Eve, unworthy, manipulative and filled with deception and guile.[6] As an example, see Ecclesiastes 7:26-28: “I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare ... while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all”.

Orthodox Jewish men in their morning prayers recite the following benediction to Yahweh, “Blessed be [God] King of the universe that Thou has not made me a woman.[7] And another: “Praised be [God] that he has not created me a gentile. Praised be [God] that he has not created me a woman. Praised be [God] that he has not created me an ignoramus.” Equating Woman with gentiles is a little harsh.

But there are limits to this sexist Biblical nonsense. The joke ends with the original Protestant, Martin Luther, if he actually[8] said: “If they become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there”.

Ironically, there is no Quranic condemnation of the Muslim Eve and her purdah practicing daughters. In the Islamic version of our story (2:31-36), (7:19-25), (20:115-123), Allah never blamed Eve for Adam’s sin and neither Eve nor her daughters were cursed with the misery depicted in the Bible. The Hadiths may say otherwise, but not the Quran.

The real disappointment is Adam, or at least the Genesis/Ben Sira version. He is a wuss. He was given Lilith but went whinging to God when she left him for demons. He was then given Eve. But he could not even say ‘No’ to her for God’s sake. He hid behind aprons and even blamed Eve for disobeying God. Clearly, he was no match for Woman. He was conned by Eve and bollocked by Lillith; but in her defence, Lilith cannot be blamed for refusing to spend eternity with a poof like Adam.

God, of course, is far more formidable. So after more than 3,000 years, Christian puritans must be appalled at Woman’s late charge in the 21st century in meeting her Curse.

The epidural has all but rendered pain in childbirth obsolete. God 2, Woman 1. And in the modern home, her control over her domesticated husband (inexplicably called a pussy) is all but complete. God 2, Woman 2. And even without a Hilary win, we have women prime ministers and presidents who, despite St. Paul, rule over nations of men. God 2, Woman 3. Oh ... and what was that Curse again?

Thus endeth the story. Oh, I almost forgot. … And Woman lived happily ever after.


[1] This is the version of the Armenian writer Avetik Isahakyan.

[2] There has been some argument about the translation: the word translated as ‘pain’ is the Hebrew etzev. The Christian apologist will argue that to ensure consistency, etzev means ‘toil’ as is used in relation to Adam in Genesis 3:17 and not ‘pain’. This remains a minority view. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible to translate etzev in Genesis 3:16 made by 70 scholars in 300 B.C. uses the Greek word lupê, meaning also pain of body.

[3] The curse could not have been of actually having children as the earlier command was “be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:27).

[4] In the same sense as in Genesis 4:7: “[Sin's] desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

[5] See Edward Lorenz’s lecture in 1972 for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

[6] The following quotes are taken from the controversial article Women in Islam Versus Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition, The Myth and The Reality by Sherif Abdel Azim, Ph.D. But see the rebuttal in A Response to Sherif Abdel Azeem's Eve's Fault and Eve's Legacy by Anthony Wales.

[7] Daily Prayer Book. (Phillip Birnbaum translator) (NewYork: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1977) pg. 18.

[8] See The Gospel According to Woman by Karen Armstrong for the source of this quote.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Penanti Conundrum

The BN lost in a big way on March 8 last year. After that it performed dismally is 4 by-elections in Peninsular Malaysia. And that was despite the whole mighty election machinery of the BN being used in all the by-elections. In addition, even Government machinery was used in all the by-elections. In further addition to all that, Ministerial decisions were made to award contracts, allocate funds to schools, upgrade roads and what have you during the by-elections to the relevant constituencies.

Despite all those efforts, the BN still lost. And they lost with an even bigger margin than before. The BN however won Batang Ai. But with a 70 million ringgit promise to a constituent consisting of about 9000 voters, that victory was not even a moral victory for the BN.

Now comes Penanti. It is a state seat within the Parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh. And of course everyone in Malaysia knows what Permatang Pauh means. It is the birth place of "reformasi". Well, "reformasi" and Parti KeAdilan Rakyat were not born there. But the person who started the rallying cry was born there. His name is Anwar Ibrahim. The man many regards as the de-facto leader of the Pakatan Rakyat.

Against the backdrop of 4 by-elections losses and one meaningless by-election win, the BN now has to face a by-election in Penanti, which is right smack in Permatang Pauh, the home of Anwar Ibrahim.

One must also not miss the fact that UMNO - the dominant party in the Barisan Nasional - had just had a new President, Deputy-President, 3 Vice-Presidents, Wanita, Puteri and Youth Chief as well as a host of new faces in the Supreme Council. Despite the rallying calls for members to close ranks in one of the most hotly contested general assembly UMNO had ever seen, UMNO seems to be crumbling to its knees, if the events over the past few weeks are of any indication.

There is a revolt of sorts in Terengganu, where 18 of UMNO Assemblymen are apparently demanding the Mentri Besar to resign. The handling of this mega revolt by the top two leaders in UMNO was also baffling. The Deputy President said the revolting Assemblymen had the right not to attend the State Legislative Assembly. The next day the President aka our Prime Minister told the Assemblymen to stop squabbling and attend the Legislative Assembly sitting. The apparent divergence in approach by the top two leaders in UMNO was disconcerting to the members, at the very least. But the matter does not end there. When it began, there were only 10 Assemblymen who were revolting. Now there are 18 apparently. If at all, the crisis is deepening. In Malay, we say, it is like "retak menanti belah".

Then there is also news that trouble is starting in Perlis. Apparently, there are Assemblymen who are also asking for the Perlis Menteri Besar to resign. As of now, details are scarce on this issue.

Be that as it may, it is not all blue and sunny skies for UMNO right now. The PM and his Deputy must be having their hands full. To top it up, the various minions are acting like loose cannons. Despite the 1Malaysia calls by the Prime Minister - which to me, honestly, is a good rallying cry if he is honest about it - the various arms of UMNO are acting in complete repugnance of that call. Utusan Malaysia did not help with its "Bangkitlah Melayu" article. Even the Deputy PM did not help with his "ungrateful" - well he said it was "unappreciative" - and "if-you-do-not-understand-BM, we-can-send-you-back-to-school" call. It is a case of the arms and legs doing exactly different things than what the head wants done. Hilarious, to say the least. And disastrous, to say even lesser.

And against all these maze of confusions, Penanti is waiting. (by the way, quite coincidentally, "nanti" is "wait" in English).

Again, UMNO's and the BN's position on the by-election is full of contradiction. The Prime Minister apparently said the BN should not contest. That is understandable. Why waste money and time - primarily money, I suppose - over something which is a foregone conclusion? And why must the BN Government allow the PR to be able to speak to the people in big rallies on various contemporary issues and expose all sorts of things against the BN? If the BN does not contest, than the BN would have taken away the wind from the PR's sail, so to speak. The PR would not have to campaign and start exploiting whatever issues there are today (not least among which includes the technical trip to Disneyland by the simple man with a lot of entitlements).

But of course, there are always two sides to the coin. If the BN does not contest, it would be like the BN conceding that it would lose the by-election to the PR. It's like running away from a battle ground. This of course makes Mahathir Mohammad upset. There are of course talks in town that Mahathir Mohammad is not beyond telling our Prime Minister what to do. And so, Mahathir had come out openly to say that the BN should contest the Penanti by-election. He even said that he is ready to spear head the BN campaign there.

So. What is the problem? Well, there are many.

First of all, if the BN decides to contest after the PM said the BN should not contest, the theory that Mahathir is a not-so-hidden hand behind the current PM would gain a massive dosage of credibility. People would say, "there I tell you, the PM is following Mahathir's wishes!"

Secondly, Mahathir is well loved. And well disliked too. And the new PM does not know whether now, at this very moment, Mahathir is more loved than hated. It is a gamble. Mahathir could well be an advantage or he could very well be a liability which UMNO, and the BN, could not shake off. A case in point is the Bukit Gantang by-election. Mahathir hit the campaign trail. And guess what? The non-Malays ran helter skelter from voting for the BN. And to throw Mahathir to Penanti, which is right smack in Permatang Pauh, would be more suicidal than taking a trip - technical or otherwise - in one of our express buses.

This is the man who had arrested, detained and imprisoned Permatang Pauh's most famous son. This is that man. This is the man, under whose Premiership, the most loved son of Permatang Pauh was beaten in some dungeon by the Chief of Police. This is the man who had made the whole Malaysia more aware of the word sodomy, at the expense of Permatang Pauh's most revered son. This is the man.

So, to let this man head the campaign for a by-election in Permatang Pauh constituent would be harakiri for the PM.

Lastly, the PM had spearheaded the BN's campaigning in Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Permatang Pauh. The BN lost in all four. Now, this is tricky. Allowing Mahathir Mohammad to head the Penanti campaign would be like saying, "the PM is not good enough and so Mahathir should do it". That is obviously not on! Not very clever I would say, that one.

Added to that, what if, (and this is really a very very big "if") the BN wins in Penanti? What would that signify? All the by-elections in which the PM headed are lost and yet the by-election headed by Mahathir is won. That would tantamount to saying that the PM is hopeless.

One thing is clear. I wouldn't want to be in the PM's shoes at the moment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bangkitlah, Anak-anak Malaysia

Bangkitlah, anak-anak Malaysia.

Mari kita semua bangkit. Sudah terlalu lama kita semua tidur. Enak dan selesa dibuai janji-janji lemak merdu sekian hari dan masa. Itu semua mimpi-mimpi belaka wahai anak-anak Malaysia. Itu semua angkara tiupan jentera-jentera propaganda yang saban hari, saban jam dan minit, mencandui hidup kita dengan kata-kata kosong dan kiasan syair-syair yang sesungguhnya tiada makna. Masanya telah tiba untuk kita bangun. Untuk kita bangkit.

Anak-anak Malaysia, bangkitlah. Mari kita bangkit dan kita meniti kesedaran kita. Mari kita segera sedar. Masanya telah sampai untuk kita semua berdiri dan kita ukur alam nyata. Masanya telah tiba untuk kita bangun dan kita tuntut hak-hak kita. Kita tidak boleh lagi membiarkan  hak-hak kita dipijak, disepak-sepak dan dipersendakan. Bagaikan kita orang-orang bangsat yang terbiar dan tiada halatuju. Bagaikan kita orang-orang kurang akal yang boleh ditarik ke kiri dan kanan, ditekan ke depan dan belakang, digolek turun dan ditarik naik, disepak terajang dalam ruang-ruang kecil yang berlampu malap. Masanya telah tiba, anak-anak Malaysia, untuk kita bangkit dan kita tuntut hak-hak kita.

Kita perlu bersuara. Hak-hak kita jangan dipersenda. Kita manusia. Punya perasaan, punya hak azali, punya taraf kemanusiaan. Kenapa kita harus berdiam diri apabila hak-hak kita dicabuli? Takutkah kita untuk menuntut dan membela apa yang kita punyai? Kenapa kita perlu menikus dipenjuru, berbisik-bisik bagaikan tiada suara? Bangkit. Hari ini, saat ini, kita mesti bangkit dan tuntut hak-hak kita.

Anak-anak Malaysia. Mari kita tebang dan cantas segala prejudis bangsa dan ugama. Mari kita bersatu. Negara ini luas terbentang. Tidak perlu kita hirau warna kulit kawan-kawan kita. Darah kita semuanya merah. Tidak perlu kita hirau kepercayaan masing-masing. Pada akhir masa, kita semua diadili oleh Tuhan semesta. Bukan hak kita untuk megadili sesama sendiri.

Luas terbentang tanah Malaysia ini. Mengapa kita perlu membina pagar tembok dan dinding di sekeliling kita sendiri hanya kerana kelainan warna dan kepercayaan? Bangkit. Mari kita tebang dan cantas pohon-pohon prejudis bangsa dan agama. Mari kita seru dalam suara yang satu. Suara bangsa Malaysia, untuk Malaysia.

Bangkit. Mari kita peringatkan kerajaan bahawa kuasa mereka adalah amanah dari kita semua. Amanah yang kita semua tuntut untuk dilaksanakan demi kebaikan Malaysia dan kita semua. Demi kebaikan umum. Bukannya untuk disalahgunakan untuk kebaikan dan kepentingan peribadi. Bahawa kita sebenarnya yang berkuasa. Bahawa mereka diletakkan di dalam kuasa oleh kita. Dan bahawa kita sebenarnya penentu. Tidak perlu kita berlutut dan bercium tangan menyembah ampun bagai hamba. Kita sebenarnya yang berkuasa. Bahawa kita mampu dan akan menarik balik amanah kita sekiranya ianya tidak dipenuhi dengan adil dan saksama. Mari kita peringatkan mereka.

Mari kita bangkit. Kita kerjakan tanah air ini untuk kepentingan semua. Mengapa perlu kita sangsi dan takutkan sesama sendiri? Tanah air ini hanya satu. Semua kita di sini dan tiada lain tempat yang boleh kita tuju. Di sini kita lahir. Dan di sini mungkin kita mati. Namun dalam masa di antara mula dan akhir itu, kita di sini. Mari kita usahakan bersama, majukan bersama dan nikmati bersama tanah air ini. Tanah ini juga yang akan kita tinggalkan kepada anak-anak kita, dan anak-anak mereka. Mari kita bangkit dan kita pelihara tanah ini.

Mari kita semua bangkit. Dan kita akhiri segala yang tidak bermanafaat. Kita akhiri semua lakonan dan gerak tari yang bagai candu dihulurkan kepada kita selama ini. Kita akhiri cerita-cerita dongeng dan cakap-cakap kosong. Kita buka topeng-topeng warna-warni agar kita nampak yang nyata. Agar kita nampak senyum sinis yag melihat kita dipersendakan.

Bangkitlah, anak-anak Malaysia.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The ISA and the Rights of the Majority

Malaysia Today published a piece of news from The Daily Express today (16th April 2009). Among others, it reports that "the Home Ministry will ensure that a balance is struck between the individual right and the right of the majority in any changes to laws under it, including the Internal Security Act (ISA)."

Our new Home Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein was quoted as saying :

"People always talk about the right of the individual only but in any change, the right of the majority is just as important. It's a principle that I will uphold without fear or favour."

It is regrettable that there seems to be a conceptual misunderstanding on an issue which strikes at the core of a civil society, namely, the fundamental rights of the people. The real issue is not the balancing of the rights of the majority and the rights of the individual. If that was the case, the logical conclusion would be the majority should be able to do whatever they like at all times and in any manner they wish.

To my mind that would be an abuse of Bentham's utilitarian principle. That principle - although positing that an act or policy which brings the greatest pleasure or happiness to the greatest number will be a good act or policy - is never about the majority in a society riding roughshod over the minority. Bentham was never the author of "The All And Be All Of The Majority" if you get what I mean. In actual fact, he warned that certain unnecessary laws or punishments may just bring with them new and more dangerous vices than those which were supposed to be suppressed in the first place!

The Home Minister, with all due respect, don't seem to grasp the issue well enough. In the first place, nobody, and I mean NOBODY has ever questioned the fact that certain individual rights must be given away to the state in exchange for the benefit of the state and the people it comprises. I for one, am not questioning the fact that certain individual liberties are to be sacrificed for the greater good of the state or society in which we live. That is beyond doubt.

The question is how those individual liberties are to be taken away? The answer is simple. They must and should only be taken away with due process of the law. That would entail the trial by the Court. The individual in question should be produced in Court. He should be charged. He should then be given the opportunity to defend himself. The Court then makes a decision on whether to deprive him or her of certain liberties for whatever wrong he or she has been PROVEN to have committed. That is the issue. It has got NOTHING to do with balancing the rights of the majority and the rights of the individual.

The ISA is a vile piece of legislation. It deprives the very basic right of the people. That right is the right to be heard. The right to be heard consists of the right to a fair trial. And this right is ingrained, embedded and cast in every democracy and modern society. It is in our Federal Constitution. Without this right, the people would live in fear of being kidnapped and executed in the middle of the night in some basement bunker.

This right is premised upon the whole concept of liberty. What liberty is there when the state could incarcerate its people without a fair trial? This goes to the core of societal benefit. Would the benefits that the people derive from the state be sufficient enough a reason for surrendering their liberty without a fair trial? Would any right thinking individual agree to this?

No. This is not about the right of the majority. This is about UNIVERSAL RIGHTS. Rights which are so basic to human beings so much so that the taking away of those rights would render all of us non human.

No number of majority would empower such rights to be taken away from the minority or from whoever.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Missing The Concept

In image building, it is good to have a concept. But the trouble with having a concept is that the concept should be followed up with or backed by a blueprinted plan to achieve whatever is set out to be achieved by the concept. It must be borne in mind however, having a concept is one thing, implementing a concept is another and of course, missing a concept, especially in Malaysia, is as easy as getting dead or into a coma in a police lock-up.

So, let us say we have a concept and our concept is "change". We should then have some ideas as to what change we want to achieve. Then we should have a plan on how to achieve that change which we want. After that, we should all go out and do whatever is being planned in order to achieve that change. That is how it works. Well, at least, that is how I think it should work.

1Malaysia, as a concept, is lovely, I think. It is like saying to all of us peaceful citizens of Malaysia, "my friends, lets be together and love this nation of ours; lets live work, eat, drink, joke and whatever together; lets all cari makan together, share whatever we have; lets make this beautiful country of ours a better place for us and for our children." That is how 1Malaysia could be "marketed" and "sold" to all of us by an honest Government which is passionate about this country pf ours and the people.

Well, that is as far as I understand it to be. Or rather, that is as far as I wish it should be. In so far as how our Government wishes it to be, I would not know. Because, so far, this concept has not been explained. Nor has it been said anywhere by anybody on what this concept is all about; what its objectives are and what are the plans to achieve its objectives.

Whatever this concept might entail, the signs and the body language are however not good. Yes. Not good at all. Why, you may ask me.

Well, just yesterday, our newly minted DPM was reported to have said that the Chinese are ungrateful for voting for PR and not for the BN Government. He further was quoted to have said that the Government felt deceived by the Chinese. Apparently, despite the Government's "assistance" to the various vernacular schools, the Chinese still did not vote for the BN and therefore they were not grateful. He also lamented the fact that the Chinese had failed to reciprocate after receiving various benefits from the Government.

That is what I call a classic - in the same vein as Si Luncai, Pak Pandir, Lebai Malang, well you get the idea - case of missing the blinking concept. If those statements are to be the norm from our DPM, then I must say 1Malaysia would be just another concept which soon will buy a one way ticket to junksville. Just like Islam Hadhari. Just like Bersih Cekap Amanah. Just like Gemilang Terbilang and Cemerlang. All will Hilang!

The people are entitled to developments. Regardless of whether they are Chinese, Indians, Malays or whatever. The schools are the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. Sufficient allocations to the schools are part and parcel of the administration of the education system in the country. And the people are entitled to a good education. Therefore, allocations to schools IS THE RESPONSIBILITY of the Government. And this responsibility is there ALL THE TIME. Not only during by-elections or General Elections time.

When the Government makes allocations to these schools, such allocations ARE NOT GIFTS to whoever. Such allocations constitute the Government's discharge of one of its duties to the people. The people therefore don't have to be grateful to the Government for that. They don't even have to thank the Government. They could even go out to out vote the Government because of whatever reason despite the fact that the Government had done its duty in making the allocations to the schools. That is the people's right. And what do you call that? It is called DEMOCRACY!

And quite what are the so called benefits which the Government has given the Chinese about which the DPM was lamenting? I want to know. What? And when? Are these vote buying exercise? What? Pray tell me. Because you have obviously tickled my curiosity.

To those who do not know the concept of Governmental duties, allow me to explain in simple language. I am even typing this real slowly in case you cannot read fast enough.

A Governmental position, such as a Ministry, is a position of trust. The Minister is a trustee. All the powers which the Minister has are held by the Minister on trust. For who? For the people. For the subject. The people/subject are the beneficiary of this trust.

As a trustee, the Minister has fiduciary duties to the people. Fiduciary duties demand that the Minister must AT ALL TIME execute his powers in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the trust, which in case you have already forgotten, are the people. The Minister therefore should avoid any position of conflict of interest in executing his Ministerial powers.

What is a conflict of interest? Well, that is easy. Basically, if the Minister is about to do something, he should avoid a position where his personal interest might benefit from whatever action he wants to take. Easy. For example, if a Minister wants to make allocations to schools to an area where a by-election is going on or about to go on, and a candidate from the Minister's party is also running in that by-election, the Minister should then postpone his decision. Why? Because the Minister would be in a position of a conflict of interest. Why is it a conflict of interest? Because in such circumstances, it could be argued that the reason for such allocation is to make the Minister's party popular thus ensuring a victory of the Minister's party in the by-election. It could also be argued that the Minister chose to make the allocation to the schools in the by-election areas because of the by-elections and not because of the needs of those schools.

That is the concept of Ministerial powers and their exercise in a Common Law-based democracy. Like the one in Malaysia.

People, lets not be conned by any other concept.

Friday, April 10, 2009

rEfORm...

+ Cik, apa ni, yang ni salah, yang ni salah, yang ni pun...salah...

- Eh, yer ker...salah banyank ni...

+ Tu la hal, Cik kener reform balik ni.

- Hah? Reform? Ini tak leh guna ker?

+ Tak leh guna yang ni Cik...banyak sangat salah tu...Cik kener reform.

- Reform? Apa kener mengener ni Cik? Reform apa lak ni?

+ Eh...Cik banyak buat salah. Kan PM pun kater, kener reform la kalau banyak salah.

- Oh...abis macam mana ni. Apa yang awak nak saya buat?

+ Lah...reform la...pegi la kaunter sana...amik nombor...tunggu....pastu bila sampai giliran Cik, amik la form baru...pastu reform la.....

- Reform?

+ Alahai, isi semula la borang tu!

- Oh...isi borang baru rupanyer....

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The People Have Spoken

The results from Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau are but definite proof that more than a year after March 8, 2008, the people are still resolved to show their discontentment and complete unhappiness with the ways of the Barisan Nasional in general and UMNO in particular. It is also conversely a display of strengthening support for Pakatan Rakyat, regardless of the apparent ideological and political differences in the allegiance of the 3 political parties of which it consists.

That the two by-elections are won by the Pakatan Rakyat with increased majority is of course a cause for concern for the BN and the newly minted Prime Minister, Najib Razak. Add in the fact that the whole might of the BN's election machinery - including government machinery - was at full steam to ensure a BN victory, the win by Pakatan Rakyat is conclusively a mega achievement in the true spirit of the proverbial David and Goliath fight.

The BN has done everything within its power to win these two by-elections. The whole cabinet could be seen campaigning tirelessly in the two areas. Hotshots from the Federal Capital converged the two areas and lighted the campaign trail. Amidst the cries of reforms from within UMNO and the euphoria of a new found "unity" - when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi held the hand of Mahathir Mohammad and Najib Razak at the closing ceremony of the recently concluded UMNO General Assembly - as well as the installation of Najib Razak as the nation's 6th Prime Minister, the campaign started and was conducted with such intensity that any independent observer would be hard pressed to think of a PR victory, let alone with an increased majority.

No stone was left unturned by the BN to woo the voters. Schools were visited by the Minister of Education. Rhetoric was aplenty - where Muhyiddin Yassin's call for the "slaughter" of Nizar for the latter's apparent treasonous behaviour towards the Sultan has to take the cake and its icing too - as well as name calling and the usual brow beating. (It was quite a disappointment though when the "Class F contract vending machine" which was used during the Kuala Trengganu by-election was nowhere to be seen this time). Concerts by scantily clad Chinese lady singers were even thrown by the BN at a fishing village attended by, non other than the defender of the Muslim faith, Zahid Hamidi who later famously proclaimed that the Chinese culture must be respected.

As the new Prime Minister, Najib Razak made a refreshing inaugural speech, releasing 13 ISA detainees and promising a comprehensive review of the ISA; singing the oft repeated unity, one Malaysia and fairness slogans as well as inviting all Malaysians to embark on a great journey with him. This was expected to make an impact on the voters.

The most startling show was of course reserved for the grand old man of UMNO, Mahathir Mohammad. After Najib Razak was installed as the PM, Mahathir Mohammad rejoined UMNO. He then happily hit the campaign trail, campaigning for the party which he proclaimed as a "corrupt party" just about a week before. It was thought that Mahathir Mohammad would take the by-elections by storm and galvanise the voters to support the BN.

The Pakatan Rakyat, on the other hand, had to face obstacle after obstacle in their campaign. Their rallies were invaded by the Federal Reserve Unit. Acid laced water was sprayed at the attendees. In Bukit Selambau, the police moved in without warning and even fired tear gas at the crowd attending a PR rally. When permits were given, unreasonable conditions were imposed. A certain dead Mongolian woman's name was even prohibited by the police from being mentioned by the PR in any of its rally. A person caught selling that particular woman's mask was arrested. And leading to the campaign, the Suara Keadilan and Harakah - the PKR's and PAS's respective publication - were suspended from publication for 3 months by the Home Ministry.

The state owned mass media were of course playing their old games of blowing the BN horn while puking at everything which the PR did. Interviews with the BN supporters who would laud the "development brought about" by the BN government were shown every day and night. The newspapers were full of praise for the BN and its leaders. Not a single teeny weeny good report was made about the PR. That is what they call "balanced and factual" reporting.

Despite it all, PR still won the two by-elections. What went wrong for the BN? If it needs more than 3 minutes for the BN or UMNO to find out what went wrong for them, then may I suggest that the party be dissolved forthwith.

First of all it shows that the people don't believe what the state owned or mainstream mass media are saying anymore. Everything they say is being disbelieved or at the very least taken with a huge cup of sodium chloride. The younger voters now are a sophisticated and educated lot. They scourge the internet for alternative news. It is, rightly or wrongly, set in their mind that whatever is being said by the mass media is a lie and conversely everything which is said on the internet is the truth. Can they be blamed for that? If the BN thinks that elections could be won by massive propaganda, positive or negative, through the mass media, it is completely ignorant of reality. The people now laugh at all the so called news and "balanced reporting" by the mass media. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that mass propaganda undertaken by the BN spectacularly backfired!

Secondly, the people just do not believe all the cries and slogans for "reform" and "change". A case in point is the apparent differences between what the UMNO leadership is saying and what its grass root leaders were saying at the UMNO Assembly. While Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak pledged and in fact pleaded for reforms and changes, the speeches from the delegates were talking about filling up the GLCs and Universities with UMNO people! They were talking about withdrawing scholarships from those students who dare oppose UMNO. They were talking about how UMNO should wantonly use its powers when the powers are still with it.

Viewed from that perspective, Najib Razak's release of the 13 ISA detainees and the promise of a comprehensive review of the ISA also backfired. While the true intention was doubted by the people, such move was also seen and perceived as a victory of sorts by the people. In their mind, that was the effect of the people's pressure on the government. In their mind, if the people would unite to pile on the pressure, perhaps more detainees would be released and the ISA abolished. And so, in their mind, they were saying, let pile on more pressure by voting for PR.

Thirdly, the BN should be mindful that we are all now living in the 21st century, a new millennium. Character assassination don't work anymore. Calling a person a traitor without basis don't work. Spreading nude pictures of a PR MP don't work. Opening up blogs to call really bad names against the opposition candidate don't work. The people want engagement. The people are now smart enough to desire an intellectual engagement. Calling name is so passe!

Fourthly, the people now want answers and they want them fast. And clear. Parochialism is a thing of the past. Even the Malays are not easily bought by Ketuanan Melayu anymore. The people look at real issues which are affecting or may affect them. The economy. The sharing of the economic pie. Education. Justice. Fairness. An across the board enforcement of the law as opposed to selective one. These are close to the people's heart nowadays.

If there is one thing which the people despise, and despise strongly at that, is hypocrisy. And this is the most important element. The advent of technology now makes it easy for the people to store data and facts and access the same within seconds. And it is just not kosher for politicians and leaders to say one thing and do completely the opposite and be found to have done completely the opposite.

In the two by-elections, the people came out, they saw and they conquered.