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Archive for August, 2008

In the buildup towards the great political showdown in Permatang Pauh, I am away from the country and safely out of the fray. However, this does not mean I am not wondering what is happening in my beloved homeland. Everyone who cares about Malaysia is apprehensive. Will cool rational heads prevail in the aftermath, come what may?? I certainly hope so because no matter what, there is no country like Malaysia and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Not having been online for a bit, my brother just told me that Obama had chosen his running mate, the erstwhile Senator Joseph Biden, an FoA. Well, what more can I say. Read this report “Biden Balances Obama’s Israel-Palestine Problem” and tell me what all this will mean to us ordinary citizens should DSAI win or lose in the Permatang Pauh by-election???     

There is no doubt that one of the main factors behind presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama’s choice of US Senator Joe Biden to be his vice presidential running mate his Biden’s unwavering and rock solid support of Israel, support that has come at the expense of genuine peace.

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Now I get it!

For non-political reasons, I have been puzzled by the show of support from “friends” of DSAI’s mostly because, and if global events are any proof, these are worrying times for the Islamic world. In an article posted in the online Foreign Policy magazine, DSAI himself explains his cosy relationship with the US in “Seven Questions: Anwar Ibrahim”. An excerpt below: 

FP: You got into trouble in the late 1990s once you began to criticize Mahathir, your former political mentor. Did you underestimate him as a political opponent?

AI: No, I didn’t. But at that time I had strong views. He resented the idea of my rapport and contact with the West, particularly the United States. And I said, I know I am not on the CIA payroll. I have strong views on Iraq. I have very independent views. What is the harm of my treating America as a friend? He expects everyone else to be so anti-American to the point of being irrational.

It has taken me a while and, I guess arising from the show of support from FoAs, to realise that politics is far more complicated that what politicians would have you think. Read this thought provoking article “THE ROLE OF ISLAM IN CONTEMPORARY SOUTH EAST ASIAN POLITICS” written by Colin Rubenstein and posted in Jerusalem Letter on 15 August 2000. Read the full article here and an excerpt on Indonesia’s Gus Dur:

Similarly, Wahid’s open preference for the establishment of full relations with Israel – one of his first comments upon assuming the presidency – has provoked some demonstrations by Islamic hard-liners and “go slow” advice from Rais, among others. In November, Wahid told Voice of Israel radio of Indonesia’s need for investment “and you know, the Jewish community everywhere are very active in the commercial lives of the nations we would like to have investments from.”

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I wonder what took our Foreign Minister DS Rais Yatim so long to respond to Al Gore as reported by Bernama (see below) and The Star here

Malaysia Wants US To Stop Meddling In Its Internal Affairs

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 8 (Bernama) — Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim wants the United States to stop meddling in Malaysia’s internal affairs as the country has its own set of laws. He said Malaysian laws were passed by Parliament and there was no need for other countries to look down on Malaysia over the administration of its laws…….

But I wouldn’t call Al’s comments as US meddling really but as overt posturing of Friends of Anwar (FoA), an exclusive club that has thus far not been obvious. My only concern is what this show of support has to do with a man who claims himself to be our “Prime Minister in Waiting”. While Rais was dithering about the response to Al, more FoAs have emerged in a show of support, this time a joint comment from Sandra Day O’Connor and Abdurrahman Wahid that appeared in Financial Times. An excerpt says:

To defend Anwar is to defend Malaysian democracy
By Sandra Day O’Connor and Abdurrahman Wahid

Published: August 7 2008 19:30 | Last updated: August 7 2008 19:30

We know Anwar Ibrahim well and have the highest regard for him. For that reason, we are very concerned about recent developments in Malaysia that seem aimed at defaming him and threatening him with imprisonment in a manner reminiscent of the campaign to defame him in 1998.

The power to prosecute is one of the most awesome powers of the state. Without proper checks and balances it can easily be abused by those in power to humiliate and discredit innocent people. Even when the injustice is corrected, its victims are often left with their reputations permanently damaged. In Malaysia, the power to prosecute is being used to try to discredit Mr Anwar, the remarkable leader of the opposition, victim of a similar attack 10 years ago. If this effort were to succeed it would be a tragedy for Mr Anwar personally, for the people of Malaysia and for the world…….(Read rest of article here)   

In case you didn’t know Sandy (as it says in Wiki) “served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 until her retirement from the bench in 2005. The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, she was a crucial swing vote on the Court for many years because of her case-by-case approach to jurisprudence and her relatively moderate political views. It says that O’Connor was a vigorous defender of the citing of foreign laws in judicial decisions that was widely criticized by conservatives. O’Connor once quoted the constitution of the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain, which states that “no authority shall prevail over the judgement of a judge, and under no circumstances may the course of justice be interfered with.” Her critics contended that such thinking is contrary to the U.S. Constitution and establishes a rule of man, rather than law.

Caption: Retired Associate Justice O’Connor and her husband John O’Connor take a photo with President George W. Bush after submitting her resignation letter.

What I find even more interesting in the comment published by Financial Times is Gus Dur’s view. Not having been in the news lately, many may have forgotten Indonesia’s former President. Read more about him here in Wiki. Idle searching led to an interesting article written by Gus Dur published in Washington Post in May 2006. With a title “Extremism Isn’t Islamic Law“, he questions the interpretation of the Koran in justifying imposition of the death penalty for apostasy. His brief bio cites: “The writer is a former president of Indonesia. From 1984 to 1999 he directed the Nadhlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization. He serves as senior adviser and board member to LibForAll Foundation, an Indonesian- and U.S.-based nonprofit that works to reduce religious extremism and terrorism.”

Curious, I visited the “LibForAll Foundation” website ( http://www.libforall.org/home.html ) and found some rather unusual information. namely that “The LibForAll Foundation” is a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit US organization dedicated to promoting the culture of liberty and tolerance worldwide. It was incorporated in North Carolina and operates under its bylaws and board of directors.” The website says Chairman & CEO: C. Holland Taylor was educated at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Princeton University; has studied in Berlin, Germany; and has been involved with the Muslim world for nearly four decades—having spent years in the Middle East and Indonesia. On Gus Dur, the website says Indonesia’s first democratically-elected president and long-time head of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization, with nearly 40 million members. He was also the recipient of the 2003 Friends of the United Nations Global Tolerance Award. For over thirty years, Gus Dur has used his position to advocate religious tolerance, pluralism and democracy. On many occasions, he has sent members of his Muslim organization to defend Christian churches and congregations—with their lives, if necessary—from attack by radical Islamists.”

I’m not sure what to make of this worrying show of support and leave you to draw your own conclusions!!!

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Out of complete frustration with the current political situation in this beloved country, I am going Japanese!! Actually, since both my son and daughter are staying home this semester, one because of his industrial attachment and the other because I need her to help me out with her granny, I have been packing their lunches. It was really a matter of necessity as there is no cafe where my son is attached and also because it seemed to make a lot of sense while it does help to save cents. As my Japanese-mad son does not eat rice unless it is sushi (don’t even ask!) and there is only so much you can do with tortilla wraps and submarine sandwiches, I decided to learn how to make sushi. This led to surfing for ideas for onigiri (rice balls) which are perfect for lunch boxes. Lo and behold I found myself caught up in a growing trend of Bento lovers across the world who come up with amazing lunch boxes for their children to take to school and for them to take to the office,

I mean this is no boring sandwiches or nasi campur stuffed into some nondescript plastic container. Bento is so much fun and is a challenge to your creativity. I’m just a beginner and have yet to get the real Bento box and accessories but I am going to try for the real thing. I’ve added some new links on my blogroll that you can  check out. You can read more about the history of Bento here. Take a look at these amazing Bento creations posted on YouTube that has got me open-mouthed in disbelief!! I am nowhere near this level of creativity and with such care shown in coming up with these unbelieveable Bentos, moms can be sure their children won’t be eating crap at school or at work. I feel so guilty that I never did this for my children when they were young. Now this is a culture we need to practice here in Malaysia. Who cares about politics, let’s get stuffed on Bento!!

Assembling a Bento

Bento Gear

Naruto-inspired Bentos

 

Cute Bento ideas for children!

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I remember when George Bush junior was campaigning to be the President of the United States against Al Gore in 2000, many of us casted our vote (in a manner of speaking) on Bush mostly because of his (Al Gore’s) blunt support of “reformasi” at the APEC Summit hosted by Malaysia as reported here. I’ve often wondered if the world would have been better off and that there would have been no attacks on Afghanistan and no Iraq had Al Gore been president of the USA. I guess we will never know now. (Source of photos: Wikipedia)

In this increasingly small world made smaller by the immense international stature of DSAI, when Al Gore  was Vice President in the Clinton Government, he had spoken out against the verdict of DSAI first sodomy trial here and last week he blogged about the second allegation in his blog “Al Gore“.      

Anwar Ibrahim August 1, 2008 : 11:07 AM

The real tragedy is that the government of Malaysia engages in character assassination to silence an effective leader of the political opposition. Twice, now, the government has used the same tactic in an effort to politically destroy Anwar Ibrahim. In the process, however, it is damaging its own credibility at home and abroad. The means exist for the government to allow this situation to be quickly resolved, simultaneously restoring dignity to Anwar Ibrahim and to itself. I hope greater wisdom will prevail.

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This photo association game being played out recently has got me really skeptical, until I saw these photos that is! Albeit these are old photos and possibly a couple were taken when DSAI was still in office as DPM, The man has really grown in stature as a world leader. Come to think of it, we might be depriving the United States of a potential candidate for President. Forget Barrack Obama, DSAI is your man!!  

Caption: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (right) meets with Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar bin Ibrahim (left) in his Pentagon office on April 16, 1998. Source of photo – US Dept of Defence

Caption: Col. Gregory Gardner (center), U.S. Army, Commander, 3rd U.S. Infantry (Old Guard) escorts Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (left) and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar bin Ibrahim (right) as they inspect the troops during a armed forces full honor arrival ceremony welcoming Ibrahim to the Pentagon on April 16, 1998.   Source of photo: US Dept of Defence

Here’s another undated photo (source uncertain) of DSAI with Paul Wolfowitz (on DSAI’s left. Not sure who the other guy is), the former World Bank President whose glowing admiration is made plainly obvious in his introductory remarks of DSAI at the World Bank’s Presidential Fellows Lecture on June 19, 2006.

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