31 December 2011

* kopihangtuah signing off 2011 with 5,000 blog visitors


... the objective of * kopihangtuah is pretty much to leave behind impactful and unforgettable knowledge, just like the coffee stain left behind on the surface of a table...

am no poet, but I do feel good sharing knowledge across to others. It is my love for knowledge that inspired me to start this blog, * kopihangtuah. It is the "philosophy" at work - broken down into 2 words, "philo" which means love in Latin/Greek and "sophy" which means knowledge in Arabic. It does not matter what kind of knowledge as long as it has values for others to benefit. So far, my blog posts covered areas such as Book Reviews, Culture, Economics, Fiction, Health, History, Literature, Memoir, Politics, Religion, Save the Planet, Travel and my Random Thoughts on various matters. Whatever they are (subjects), the objective of * kopihangtuah is pretty much to leave behind impactful and unforgettable knowledge, just like the coffee stain left behind on the surface of a table.

Dear followers of * kopihangtuah. You have been awesome! I must thank you all for supporting me. I know many of you are friends and relatives but surely I don't have 5,000 families and friends? Out of the 5,000 blog visitors to date, over 90% are people whom I don't know. I must thank you all for visiting my blog. I hope your visits are/were more than just mere visits. I hope you actually read the articles that I post onto this blog. The messages that I convey via * kopihangtuah are issues that my intended audience ought to ponder upon, and take actions for betterment of life. Hence my blog intro extracted below:

....and they say "Tidak Apa" to everything that happens in their lives. Little do they know, when they sit and reflect, they'll realise that so much has been wasted. And soon they will regret not acting upon it and say ".. I should have thought about it when I was with my mates having a sip of that strong black kopi Hang Tuah..."

Yes, as at today (31 December 2011) 5,000 people have visited my blog in a duration of 1 year, 9 months and 17 days (Totalling 657 days) since its inception on 15 March 2010. Out of that, 2,439 were unique visitors. I am also pleased to report that the highest count (so far) of visitors in a day were recorded on 4 December 2011 registering 105 visitors and 80 unique visitors - when investigated, they were attracted by the post Did the Jala Catched Much?, although I would have thought that my favourite article should have registered such record - my favourite is Hang Tuah is Chinese?

These visitors come from all over the world as shown in the map. Of course the highest contributor would be Malaysia at 1,588 unique visitors contributing approx 65% to the total count. Second would be USA at 255 unique visitors contributing 10%. This is followed by Singapore, UK, Indonesia and Australia. There were also countries which I didn't think would appear in the internet hit - such as Malta, Sudan, Morocco, Ukraine, Algeria, Lithuania, Iceland, Honduras, Nepal, Bahamas, Serbia and many more.

I do hope all my 48 blog posts (24 in 2010 and 24 in 2011) to date mean something to you (visitors); if not moral values, entertainment values. I also hope that more people will leave comments after reading my blog posts. It has been a pleasure writing for you and I must endeavour to produce more and better materials. Hopefully one day I can reach 1,000,000 visitors (God knows when?). But for the time being, 5,000 is good enough for me. So, do continue your support by visiting www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com whenever you are free. A special thank you should also be extended to www.mole.my for writing an article covering my blog post at My Name is Bin Mohamed. Again, thank you all and with this, I, * kopihangtuah, signs off 2011 with full of pride and gratitude; and would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May 2012 is blessed with God's graciousness that is ever blossoming. Amin (Amen)

... signing off 2011 with full of pride and gratitude; and would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May 2012 is blessed with God's graciousness that is ever blossoming.

* kopihangtuah

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28 December 2011

My Name is Bin Mohamed


.... my name has two "Alarm Triggering" words. They are "Bin" and "Mohamed". That in itself, qualifies me for unfair treatment by immigration officers .....

ecently I watched the movie My Name is Khan. It is indeed an inspiring movie for those who are sincere in ensuring that Muslims are not mistreated simply by way of stereotyping as a result of the ill-actions by fanatics and extremists that kill thousands in the name of Allah. "In the name of Allah" seems to be their martyr reason. What does that really mean? Killing innocent human beings just to make a point? Just to say that we Muslims are not happy with what the world is doing to us? Utter crap really. That act in itself makes the treatment against Muslims worse than what they alreay are. Of course I am against those unreasonable Jihadists that make Islam a bad name. Concurrently, I am also annoyed with non-Muslims who, conveniently, take advantage over such situation to out cast Muslims from society. There have been many cases. That movie My Name is Khan is not a made up scenario. It happens. It is real. Muslims (good ones) seem to be caught in the middle between unfair non-Muslims and extremist Muslims. In the first place, I am not sure whether those people (extremist Muslims) qualify as Muslim, given their non-advocacy of humanitarian approach.

I can share with you my own experiences in Western countries to demonstrate how the lives of Muslims have become somewhat melancholy with the wake of such hatred against Islam. 9-11 just makes it worse to unforgiveable proportion. I am a Muslim Malay man from Malaysia and my name has two "Alarm Triggering" words. They are "Bin" and "Mohamed". That in itself, qualifies me for unfair treatment by immigration officers. Everytime I pass through immigration, I feel jittery. Not because I have done something wrong, but because I get pulled aside for questioning all the time and the fear of them (immigration officers) not believing what I have to say. It is indeed unfair to me whilst the citizens of those countries may feel that it is fair to them for the sake for the security of their country. In any case, I leave it to you (readers) to decide how best the world should be (in your own heads). So here is my story:

The Pacifics

The American immigration officer only has a few discouraging words, "Malaysia? where the hell is this?".

I travelled the Pacifics for work years ago. To be exact, Republic of Marshall Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Marianna Island, Micronesia Islands and Guam (USA). The immigration, defense and airlines for these islands are controlled by either the Government of USA or companies of USA origin. As mentioned earlier, my passport triggers alarm. Any Malaysian passport for that matter does this regardless whether you are Abu bin Ahmad, Lim Ah Chong or Guna Seelan. The American immigration officer only has a few discouraging words, "Malaysia? where the hell is this?".

He refused to acknowledge Malaysia and wouldn't even bothered to call head office to find out. All he said was that If I wanted to board the plane, I will have to surrender my passport to them for which they will return back to me at the port of destination. I had no choice. I had to take the risk because I have to do my work there on the islands. Imagine travelling with your passport not by your side! what a risky move. Anyway, I followed the instructions. Upon arriving, it took me hours of efforts trying to locate my passport which I finally got. It was left with the pilot and the pilot was about to fly off to another port with it! Damn fool! I was lucky.

The United Kingdom

Apart from the short employment in the Pacifics, I was also given the opportunity to work in London, UK. Here, I thought, will be a safe place for me because there are tonnes of Muslims living in London. But No,.... I was unlucky again. That year, 2005, the extremists bombed most of the tube stations in London. What a chaotic incident. Hatred towards Muslims just got worse and the worst so far back then. I was lucky that I wasn't in any of those tube stations.

It is indeed an unwelcoming feeling when the Brits stare at you. Maybe because I look like a Middle Eastern. There was once, me and my mate, an Egyptian, were working at one of the British company. He pursuaded me to join him for prayers. I agreed, but little that I knew that he wanted to perform the prayers in an open area under the staircase near the elevators. That was my most uncomfortable prayer in my entire life. I couldn't concentrate a single second. Why? People were staring at us. Damn Egyptian...... Anyway, that wasn't the worst.

Once I was travelling in my jeans, jumper and looking pretty rugged because of my habit of not shaving for a whole week until it is Monday morning. Along with me was a heavy bag full of printed materials. Nevermind the printed matter because from the outside, it does look like a heavy "stuff" if you catch my drift. Two police officers stopped me at Marylbone Station. They were polite though. They explained to me that under their Terrorism Act, they have to stop people at random to check profiles, etc. The had so many questions. Where was I from? Where was I going? Where is my passport? How do I pronounce my name? What nationality I am? Do I have families in London? Which countries have I visited lately and the whole works!

"How random is random when you selected me?". They (police) answered, "Well Sir, we can assure you that it was random". I said, "Well, I don't see you stopping any Caucasians".

I only had one question, "How random is random when you selected me?". They (police) answered, "Well Sir, we can assure you that it was random". I said, "Well, I don't see you stopping any Caucasians". To give credit to those officers, they were still polite to me. They gave me a notice ticket as evidence that they have done their job under some Terrorism Act. Such was life of a Muslim back then in London. I am pretty sure they picked me because of profiling approach. For all you know, bombings can be done by Caucasians themselves! Remember the Ireland Republic Army debacle? Well, then was then. I was okay about it. In fact, I was thrilled because the minute I was home, I told my wife "Honey! I was stopped by Policeman as suspect for terrorism" with a joy and happy face. But of course,... I am not proud of it and I am upset from a wider perspective of dignity of the religion that I belong to.

The United States of America

Of course my examples have to include the USA to be complete. I also had the privilege of working in Miami for a few months. This experience was the worst. I arrived Miami having the immigration officers pulling me aside into an interogation room for two hours. Two bloody hours! My boss, who was a Caucasian British, only had one thing to say, "Next time, I'm not bringing you to the US". The questions they asked me was really out of this world! As usual, Where do I come from? What am I doing in the US? How do I pronounce my name? Why is my surname Mohamed? If I am Muslim, why am I not Middle Eastern? and all sorts of stupid questions.

.... the ones (questions by immigration officers) that really amused me were, Have you studied Chemical Engineering? Have you done any military training? Why is your passport not allowed to enter Israel?

But the ones that really amused me were, Have you studied Chemical Engineering before? Have you done any military training before? I can see that you have been to Egypt, why and what was that for? Why is your passport not allowed to enter Israel? What has your country have against Israel? Blimmey.... inside my heart, I was cursing the Malaysian High Commission for barring Malaysian passports from entering Israel.

Then I continued staying in Miami for a week or so to do my work. When it was time for me to leave,.. guess what?... they pulled me aside again! another two bloody hours again! and what was more amusing was that, they asked the same bloody questions again! I think it is their procedure to ask the exact same questions again so that they can check the consistency of my answers. Had I answered those questions for the second round differently from the first round, I would have probably ended up in Guantanamo Bay prisons. God help me. I was lucky again. The professional suits and the clean shaven face did not help this time. I always get stuck with authorities because my passpost has the names "Bin" and "Mohamed".... a bit like Shah Rukh Khan in that movie because his name is Khan. I really hope that all this will improve over time. Both, Muslims and non-Muslims must play their part in making this world a better place. They must coexist. Amin (Amen).

* kopihangtuah

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25 December 2011

Dilema Seniman


"Seniman di awan perlu disauhkan kembali ke Bumi nyata"

ari ini aku berpeluang berdebat dengan seorang seniman, seorang karyawan, seorang penulis yang juga seorang kawan lama. Naluri beliau amat kecewa dengan sikap rakyat negara ini yang kononnya buta seni. Kita, dikatakan tidak mengendah seni sebagai satu aspek kehidupan yang relevan. Lihat saja bagaimana negara asing menerima seni seadanya sebagai komponen pembangunan budaya dan minda manusia yang menjanjikan kesinambungan evolusi yang progresif. Seni di negara ini hanya memberi makna jika ia membabitkan pulangan wang yang setimpal. Aku hanya cuma mampu berkata "Seniman di awan perlu disauhkan kembali ke Bumi nyata". beliau bertanya "Apa maksud kau?" Aku bilang, "Senang saja 'brader', seni perlu di'komersial'isasikan". Beliau berkata "Itulah dia dilema seniman. Kalau nakkan duit, maka seni tidak bermakna. Seni tidak bebas. Seni cuma diperlacurkan demi wang".

Sebelum rakyat dapat menerima seni sebagai aliran utama untuk punca pendapatan, ianya perlu memberi kesan ekonomi yang cukup untuk memberi peluang bakal-bakal seniman untuk mengecapi kehidupan yang menjanjikan rezeki yang stabil. Kalau seorang anak meminta dari kedua ibubapanya "Ayah, Mak, saya nak belajar muzik (sebagai contohnya)". Nescaya ibubapa akan menolak idea itu sama sekali. Kononnya bidang iktisas (profesional) yang lain seperti kejuruteraan, perakaunan atau peguaman lebih menjanjikan masa depan yang cerah bagi anak-anak mereka. Sebenarnya, mereka tidak salah. Mereka hanya impikan apa yang terbaik untuk anak-anak. Maka dengan itu, secara keseluruhannya, kita perlu memertabatkan seni secukup tinggi untuk sampai ke tahap relevan yang memadai bagi rakyat menerima seni sebagai bidang profesional yang diterima umum.

Siapalah sangat seniman yang boleh mengais rezeki di negara ini? Aku bukannya peka sangat terhadap dunia seni tanahair tetapi kalau diungkapkan kembali minda aku ini, cuma segelintir nama sahaja yang dapat aku lafazkan. Seni lukis mungkin ada dua tiga nama seperti Allahyarham Ibrahim Hussein, Ismail Latif dan Jaafar Taib. Seni reka cuma satu nama yang terkeluar dari pemikiran ini, iaitu Hijaz Kasturi (entah Dato' atau tidak). Seni perfileman ada banyak tapi aku cuma ingat Dato' Yusuf Haslam. Seni muzik lebih banyak pengikutnya seperti Dato' M. Nasir, Ahmad Izham Omar dan KRU. Kartunis, tak lain tak bukan, Dato' Lat. Seni tarian misalnya ada Pat Ibrahim. Memang kita boleh senaraikan nama dengan panjang jelanya tetapi, bolehkan seniman mengais rezeki yang secukupnya? Pokoknya, cuma sebilangan kecil sahaja yang dapat mencapai tahap ekonomi yang memberangsangkan.

Punca akar umbinya ialah masyarakat itu sendiri. Jika masyarakat tidak menerima seni sebagai satu aspek kehidupan yang penting, maka sampai bila-bilalah seni tidak diberi pengiktirafan yang bermakna, atau setakat minimanya, sekurang-kurang diberi peluang untuk berkembang. Memang banyak institut pengajian menawarkan bidang seni untuk siswa/siswi seperti Universiti ITM atau Lim Kok Wing, tetapi graduan-graduan seni masih menghadapi benteng yang mengecewakan apabila perjuangan seni itu hanya boleh mendatangkan pendapatan dari sudut akademia sahaja.

Apa yang perlu berlaku adalah 'komersial'isasi seni di negara ini. Masyarakat perlu mengubah minda untuk memberi peluang kepada dunia seni. Memang kerajaan ada peruntukan untuk seni tetapi tidak mencukupi pada firasat aku. Seni perlu wujud dalam naluri kita. Sebagai contohnya 'Theatre'. Semenjak Istana Budaya ditubuhkan, makin ramai penghuni Kuala Lumpur boleh menerima seni itu. Dengan itu muncullah pelbagai usahawan yang mahu berkecimpung di dalam bidang 'Theatre'. Itu pun bukan semua yang sanggup teruskan perjuangan. Baru-baru ini aku melayar 'blog' seorang ahli 'Theatre', Boudeng. Aku berasa sedih kerana beliau secara terang-terang mengumumkan yang beliau tidak lagi mahu meneruskan perjuangan 'Theatre'.

Ada banyak lagi bidang seni yang masyarakat patut menghayati. Sebagai contohnya seni lukis. Tidak banyak yang sanggup membelanjakan wang untuk membeli lukisan sebagai pelaburan. Kalau di Paris atau di New York, pelukis boleh membuat duit yang lumayan. Saya difahamkan bandaraya-bandaraya di Amerika sudahpun mempolisikan peruntukan wang untuk seni bagi projek bangunan. Makna kata, jika sesebuah syarikat ingin membina bangunan, ia mesti melibatkan seni, kebanyakan dalam bentuk 'Sculpture'. Walaupun ini merupakan satu pemaksaan, ianya, mungkin, satu hari nanti akan memberi kesan positif kepada ekonomi negara. Lihat saja Menara Berkembar Petronas. Tidakkah banyak pengunjung dari luar negara yang datang ke Malaysia? Mereka (pelancong) membelanjakan wang di negara kita dan dengan secara tidak langsungnya memberi kesan positif kepada ekonomi negara melalui wang pelancongan.

Kita sudah lihat bagaimana manusia dari segala pelusuk dunia membelanjakan wang untuk pergi ke Louvre di Paris untuk hanya berdiri selama sepuluh saat di hadapan lukisan Mona Lisa oleh Leonardo Da' Vinci. Banyak lagi contoh-contoh yang masuk akal seperti seni Gaudi di Barcelona, Statue of Liberty di New York, lukisan-lukisan oleh Raphael dan Michaelangelo di Vatican City, seni perusahaan kaca di Venice dan banyak lagi. Di Malaysia apa yang kita ada? Kalau Tun Mahathir tak benarkan Menara Berkembar Petronas, yang ada hanyalah lukisan di dinding pagar Penjara Pudu. Itu pun sudah hancur diroboh. Tak usah pergi jauh. Saya difahamkan di Vietnam ada Lembah Pelukis ('Valley of Artist') di mana pelancong boleh pergi membeli pelbagai lukisan di sebuah perkampungan pelukis. Bayangkan Vietnam yang tidak sehebat Malaysia dari segi ekonominya pun boleh wujud kesedaran seni sebagai sesuatu yang relevan. Ya! memang Malaysia pun ada, contohnya pembuatan wau, songket dan ukiran di Pantai Timur, tetapi tidaklah sehebat artifak-artifak seni yang boleh diperolehi dari Bali, sebagai contohnya.

Aku berasa amat sedih. Bukan sahaja sahabat lama yang aku baru jumpa hari ini, malah seminggu yang lalu pun aku berjumpa dengan pengusaha seni 'sculpture' yang memberi ulasan yang sama, iaitu, seni di negara ini tidak boleh buat duit. Sebagai pencinta seni, aku berasa keinginan untuk berkecimpung di dalam bidang peng'komersial'isasi seni untuk memperjuangkan nasib seniman ataupun bakal seniman negara di masa hadapan. Setakat ini aku belum menjumpai aliran yang boleh memberi aku peluang untuk mengais rezeki yang stabil sambil memperjuangkan seni tanahair. Kalaulah diberi peluang, kemungkinan aku akan turut serta inisiatif-inisiatif yang seumpama itu.

Aku bermimpi suatu hari nanti kalau anak aku berkata "Daddy, saya mahu belajar muzik (atau seni lukis, atau seni lakonan, atau seni apa pun)", aku akan dengan senang hatinya berkata "Silakan anak". Tapi apakan daya, aku pun takut untuk membenarkan kehendak yang sedemikian. Tapi apa-apa pun, kita semua, masyarakat secara keseluruhannya perlu barganding bahu memberi peluang kepada seniman dan bakal seniman di negara ini. Bak kata Dato' Ibrahim Hussein sebelum permergian beliau kembali ke Rahmatullah: "Seniman, walaupun tidak praktikal, kami berkarya dari lubuk naluri yang datang dari keperibadian seniman itu sendiri untuk dunia yang kita semua kenali" - translasi dari ucapan beliau di dalam Bahasa Inggeris yang berbunyi "Artists, creative people, we're not practical, we work from the heart. It comes out of your private world and into the world everyone knows"

"Seniman, walaupun tidak praktikal, kami berkarya dari lubuk naluri yang datang dari keperibadian seniman itu sendiri untuk dunia yang kita semua kenali"
Kata-kata Allahyarham Dato' Ibrahim Hussein

* kopihangtuah

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24 December 2011

Secret Game I Play with Daddy


... if not embraced (child protection), humanity itself has committed a sin, a huge sin, an unfogiveable sin...

ecently I was privileged to have the opportunity to chat with the Chairman of Childline Malaysia, Encik Sabri Abdul Rahman. Sabri, who has children and grand children of his own, is very passionate about protecting children. This is something that should not be restricted to those very rare few like Sabri. In fact, this should be a wide spread pervasive attitude that we all must embrace. This is our responsibility. This is justice, be it in the name of God, religion or humanity. This is something, if not embraced, humanity itself has committed a sin, a huge sin, an unfogiveable sin. So what is Childline Malaysia? It is self explanatory in its function. Any child can call Childline Malaysia, not only to report any abuse, but also to have friendly chats with trained counsellors.

There have been many cases of child abuse that we read in newspapers recently. It is indeed shocking. The worst cases are those in places we think are safe for children. They (Children) are often unsafe in the safest of places - home, school, neighbourhood. Nevermind the pleasant look of religious people, teachers, friends or family. The important thing is that when these trusted people abuse the child, the child has the confidence and are well informed to express their feelings. If not, they will grow with the trauma that shapes an unhealthy charactered human being.

To touch your (readers) heart, I would like to share a true story with names altered to not reveal the true identities. Have a read (below). If you don't physically cry, deep down inside your heart, you'd feel the injustice:

Secret Game I Play with Daddy

"Ring! ring!" the phone rang. Mrs Lim picked up the phone, "Hello!, who's this?".

The voice on the phone said "This is Teacher Rebecca. Madam, I have bad news. I think you'll have to come over to the school (kindergarten). Your daughter, Stephanie, has been behaving strangely. In fact, inappropriately. We cannot tolerate what she is doing".

"Huh? How can that be? Steph is a good girl. She never does bad things. We (Mr and Mrs Lim) have always reminded her of good moral values and religion. She listens to us. She is a sweet angel!. I don't believe you!". Mrs Lim was feeling very annoyed.

Teacher Rebecca felt frustrated and said "Madam, it is very difficult for me to explain to you. You ought to come to the school now. Please Madam".

"Ok, ok, I will... " and Mrs Lim slammed the phone.

Mrs Lim drove to the school during lunch time from her office. Teacher Rebecca greeted her politely and asked her to observe her daughter Stephanie from far. She (Mrs Lim) was so shocked to witness a weird behaviour by her daughter, Stephanie. Stephanie, a 6 year old girl, was going around holding the penis of boys in the school. Everytime that happened, a teacher from the school would pull her (Stephanie) away from those boys.

"Oh Jesus, what on Earth is happening?", cried Mrs Lim.

"Madam, I think you should take your daughter home and have a slow talk", Teacher Rebecca then left Mrs Lim on her own.

Mrs Lim took her daughter away from the class room and drove her home. In the car, she (Mrs Lim), said in a very soft and concerned intonation, "Steph honey, please listen to Mummy carefully. What you did back then at school today is not appropriate. Remember what Mummy said about being a good girl? and how God will be angry and punish us when we do wrong things?"

"Yes Mummy", innocent Stephanie answered.

"Okay, so you understand yes? What you did just now is very bad and you cannot do it again okay? Mummy and Daddy and God will be very angry. Teachers will be angry and all your friends at school will also be angry", Mrs Lim continue driving thinking where she has done wrong in her daughter's upbringing.

Then, with a full bazooka explosion hit to Mrs Lim's heart, Stephanie said "... but Mummy, how did you know about it? About the game of holding the magical stick? It was supposed to be a secret. A secret game that I play with Daddy when you are at work late at night....."

Please all, I beg you, do justice. Teach your children, nieces, nephews or any child that you know. Teach them to not be afraid to talk. Teach them that there are avenues to report. Teach them the existence of Childline Malaysia at www.childlinemalaysia.com.my. Teach them to call Childline Malaysia at 15999.

"Even one child (being abused) is way too many ....." quotation by Sabri Abdul Rahman, Chairman of Childline Malaysia

* kopihangtuah

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23 December 2011

The Mistaken Identification of Islam from Origins of Language and Culture


ecently a baby was named Ian that means "God's graciousness". Ian is Aramaic. Arabic is the subset of Aramaic. The parent of this baby received some negative comments claiming that the name is not Islamic. If they think Arabic is Islamic, and Arabic is a derivation of Aramaic, then why wouldn't Ian claim its status as Islamic? Please people, don't give me the bullshit about not being Islamic. True, Ian is an Irish popular name. So what? I love U2! My point is race or language cannot be conclusive when determining religious conclusions. There are many Muslims from all corners of the Earth ranging from the Caucasians in the West to the Chinese in the East.

What is Islamic? When Idris became the second prophet after Adam; Islam, Christianity or Judaism weren't around yet and there were certainly no races established yet because he (Idris) was from the first few generations of humans. So what makes Idris more Islamic than Ian? For that matter, same applies to Adam, Nuh and Salleh. These are some of the names of prophets mentioned in the Quran which are perceived to be Islamic. It is perceived to be Islamic because they are believed to be Arabic. Whilst the Arabic slang resulted in those names to be pronounced as such, their origins are way before the Arab race or language were established.

Other names which are widely used by Malay Muslims are in fact not Arabic in its origins; such as: Musa (Hebrew), Isa (Hebrew), Daniel (Hebrew), Sulaiman (Hebrew), Daud (Hebrew), Ishak (Hebrew), Elyas (Hebrew), Ibrahim (Mesopotamian), Iskandar Dzulkarnain (Macedonian) and many other names perceived by the Malays to be Islamic. I can be called Jesus but still be a Muslim. In fact, some Malay names such as Johan, is not even Arabic or Muslim. It's probably German or Hebrew. Bottom line is Arabic and Malay, from language perspective, does not equate to Islam. We must not let cultural ambiguity to dictate religious conclusion.

If a Chinese or Indian or any race for that matter converts to Islam, it is perfectly fine for them to continue to use their existing name. I am sure there are many Chongs, Lees or Yothu Yindies of this world who embraced Islam still use their original birth names. Perhaps we should all go to mainland China and start talking to the Chinese in the numerous mosques that they have there. The mosque itself would probably not look Islamic and may look like a temple such as the one in the photo (Xian Mosque in China). Do you know that the Moorish architecture of domes was actually used for churches before the Muslims used it for mosques?

If we analyse our daily lives, there are so many examples of why we shouldn't mistaken the identification of Islam from origins culture. If I wear a tie and a coat to the mosque, would I be labeled as non-Islamic? If I say "Allah, help me" in English, would Almighty Allah deny me his attention? In fact, many Malays don't even know the meaning of those Arabic words that they utter when they pray. What is important that the heart must embrace Islam. Perhaps Allah has His own reasons why he made an Arab to be the last prophet. Had He made the last prophet from the Fu Chian region of China, Hokkien would have been the ultimate language perceived to be Islamic instead of Arabic. Only God knows what language Adam spoke when he (Adam) communicated with Him (God), the angels, Eve or even Satan.

* kopihangtuah

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11 December 2011

Beware of the Economic Hit Man


Title: Confessions of an Economic Hitman
Author: John Perkins
Genre: Economics/Politics/History/Memoir
ISBN: 978-0-452-28708-2
Publisher: A Plume Book of Penguin Group
Year: 2004

Colonisation no longer happens in the shape of physical control and war, but in a form of economic influence

eware of Economic Hit Man !!! They are everywhere! I have read so many conspiracy thoeries ranging from assassination attempts to the misterious ancient surviving secret fraternity of the Freemasons. So far, the story of Economic Hit Man ("EHM") seems to be very much consistent with the actual real news that we hear everyday. It makes perfect sense. Colonisation no longer happens in the shape of physical control and war, but in a form of economic influence. What is worse is that, it leaves no mercy to the well being of the people of the countries that they are attacking. So what is EHM? John Perkins, in his book, his confessions, tells it all. The secret is out on EHM. The only puzzling question that I have is,.. why is he still alive? The last time an author created a big Huu Haa (Salman Rushdie), he was sentenced to death by the former-late president of Iran (Ayatollah Khomeini).

The book is a confession of an EHM. John Perkins is the EHM, or was. Reading his confession brings anger to us all in developing countries. His words reminded me instantly to the Asian economic crisis in 1997-1998 where countries like Thailand and Indonesia had to "sell" the dignity of their country to international money lenders such as International Monetary Fund ("IMF") and World Bank to the expense of their rights to certain policies which amongst others, include protectionism of local industries, monetary policies over currencies and budgets and a whole lot more. In Malaysia, they (IMF), tried to intervene by demanding that we (Malaysians) abolish certain protectionism to local industries and Bumiputera status. We decided to control our own destiny by addressing the economic issues via our own currency policies and the creation of asset management company, Danaharta.

So let's get back to Perkins and his confessions. What is an EHM? EHMs are employed by big corporations that aim to control significant economic factors of the world which includes globalisation, modernisation, currency speculation, resources exploitation and most importantly money lending! All these are only with one aim of making money out of the sufferings of others. What kind of sufferings? Well, some countries will lose their economic independence when in debt for the development of their own countries. Some are stuck in a position of not being able to improve the well being (poverty, mortality and dignity) of their countries. Some saw the destruction of their countries (eg. pollution, extinction of fauna and flora, etc).

Whilst tonnes of monies are paid for development, the basic needs such as education, medical and food are unaddressed. As a result, the country and its citizens suffer. They become poorer. You'll end up having countries with huge roads, transportation system and comprehensive power grid, but, the people are still in poverty, starving, uneducated, sick and death multiplies with natural resources and environment being raped.

An EHM operates smoothly. He appears to be the saviour by providing solutions to the Government of developing countries but with the real intentions of raping those countries of their wealth. This is how an EHM works (at least based on Perkins):

1. Identify the development needs of a country. Of course most of the time this will be developing countries that need upgrading of infrastructure such as roads, buildings, oil and gas exploration, ports, power generation and many more.

2. Provide economic advice with outrageously optimistic future projections. This is done quite convincingly using all sorts of justifications backed by historical data on variables that potray positive economic outlook. Each of the variables are slightly inflated to the extent that it does not raise any suspicions. When all inflated variables are combined and synergised, it produces an overwhelmingly positive future economic outlook. Variables can be Gross Domestic Product, Consumer Price Index, estimation of power demand, estimation of traffic, etc.

3. Based on the projections, Government(s) take up loans from world money lenders. World lenders are often connected to the mega companies for major national level development. You can search the internet to see many examples of countries that are in debt with the World Bank or IMF. These Governments have noble intentions of making their countries a better place by rushing to be on par with other developing countries or developed countries.

4. Development happens with the hope that future economic returns will pay the loans. The positive projections give hope that the country will get handsome returns that will be ample to pay off those loans in the future and at the same time provide surpluses to address the countries' other needs such as education, medical and elimination of poverty.

5. Development projects are awarded to selected firms associated with the lenders. As part of the terms and conditions of the monies being lended to these Governments, they are obliged to appoint consultants, engineers, scientists and other professionals from firms of the lenders' choice. As you may have guessed, all these professionals and the lenders, are connected. A big network of EHM per se.

6. Years down the road, the projections prove to be unreliable. With the over optimistic projections to begin with, obviously the reality kicks in when the actual economic growth of those countries did not achieve the level intended, leaving behind very little to provide for.

7. Money has already been paid to the firms that undertake the projects. Like it or not, these Governments are obliged to pay for the projects in order to continue the development of the country. The monies came from the network of EHM and now it returns back to the EHM via these projects done by firms of their (EHM) choice.

8. The country defaults on the loan repayments. Obviously when monies have to be paid for the projects and other immediate needs of those countries, there will be little left to repay back the loan.

9. The lenders demand other forms of repayment that gives more money to them (EHM). So how does this work? Well, when you default on loans, you are at the mercy of the lenders. You either declare for bankrupcy or you adhere to their additional demands. This is where the lenders will get many other projects or business opportunities to make more money; such as the right to do oil and gas explorations, enter the financial markets with unlimited barriers to trade and many more. The worst is political mileage that the EHMs can have on the Governments of those countries such as favours for United States military bases, United Nation votes or non-alignment with countries not in United States' favour - i.e. having the say on who should hold political offices. It is only logical that poor countries with rich natural resources are the usual victims of EHM.

10. The country becomes poorer and instead under developed. The country has no money left to pay for the necessities of the countries. Whilst tonnes of monies are paid for development, the basic needs such as education, medical and food are unaddressed. As a result, the country and its citizens suffer. They become poorer. You'll end up having countries with huge roads, transportation system and comprehensive power grid, but, the people are still in poverty, starving, uneducated, sick and death multiplies with natural resources and environment being raped. In the end, the lenders, the consultants, the EHMs, the "Devils", laugh their way out of the country robbing wealth at unforgiveable proportions.
(Note: There may be an 11th stage: If all of the above fails, "they" will send in the proper "hit man" to assassinate political leaders who do not adhere to their demand until someone in office bow to them).

So there you go. Those 10 (or 11) stages above basically happened to many countries. Perkins himself provided many examples in his book. It is indeed a sad case, or cases, for many countries have sold their souls to the devils we now call EHMs. So, beware! of EHM !!! They are the worst kind of human ever exist. In fact, they'd probably need to be excluded from the definition of "humans".

John Perkins shared his true experience of being an EHM and the basic concepts of an EHM are as what I have described earlier. To further vouch for his (Perkins) confessions, examples (real life examples from history) ought to be made known. The following are some devastating ones which I find disturbing as revealed by Perkins in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. God help them (the effected nations):
Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before EHM introduced her the miracles of modern economics, banking and engineering. Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50% to 70% with unemployment increased from 15% to 70%, and public debt increased from USD240 million to USD16 billion. Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20% to 6%. For every USD100 of crude oil taken out of Ecuadorian rain forests, the oil companies (member of the EHM network) receive USD75. Of the remaining USD25, three quarters must go to paying off the foreign debt - Prologue of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Panama was installed with a puppet Government in 1903 when President Roosevelt sent in the U.S. warship Nashville. U.S. soldiers landed, seized and killed a popular local militia commander and declared Panama an independent nation. The first Canal Treaty was then signed to establish an American zone on both sides of the waterway, legalised U.S. military intervention and gave Washington virtual control over the newly formed independent nation - Chapter 10 of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Saudi Arabia depended on the United States via the modernisation of the oil-rich kingdom which triggered adverse reactions with conservative Muslims feeling furious and Israel feeling threatened. The U.S. military and defense industry benefited such situation from generous contracts of long-term service in the military related constructions including airports, missile sites, personnel bases and associated infrastructure. Saudi Arabia does not need loans to finance all these. A different approach was required. Whichever way it was done, the EHM wanted the Saudis to guarantee to maintain oil supplies with prices at levels that are acceptable to the United States. In addition, they (EHM) also managed to get the Saudi's to purchase U.S. Government securities. Whichever way it was, the money still went their (EHM) way - Chapter 15 of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Venezuela had its national budget quadrupled during 1973 OPEC oil embargo that caused petroleum prices to skyrocket. International banks flooded the country with loans that paid for vast infrastructure and industrial projects and for the highest skyscrapers on the continent. Then oil prices crashed and Venezuela could not repay its debts. In 1989 the IMF imposed harsh austerity measures and pressured Caracas to many of their (EHM) terms and conditions. Venezuela's per capita income plummeted by over 40% - Chapter 33 of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Bolivia opened the door for multinationals (EHMs) to privatise its water supply system. Prices of water skyrocketed and Bolivians claimed that service was suspended to thousands of people - Epilogue of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Cote d'Ivoire experienced increase in prices of telephone services by privatised telephone company managed by a foreign firm (EHM). The prices were too high that many people had to forego connections to the system including university students who needed the service for their internet essentials for studies - Epilogue of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Tanzania had policies that led to appalling situation where children have to pay to go to school and many are simply too poor to do so - Epilogue of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

In the end, the lenders, the consultants, the EHMs, the "Devils", laugh their way out of the country robbing wealth at unforgiveable proportions

* kopihangtuah

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03 December 2011

Did the Jala Catched Much?


Idris started by focusing everyone's attention to the New Economic Model's (NEM) main thrust: EVERYONE - RICH - LONG TIME

ot too long ago I had a chance of attending a session with Dato' Seri Idris Jala (Idris) as the main presenter. I took some notes and today I found those notes in between my 2011 diary pages. I thought I should share the content with the rest of Malaysia before I dispose the notes, giving way for 2012 diary.

So, what is the story with Mr Jala? The whole country awaits his frequent statistic updates in hope of light at the end of the tunnel. The mood has been somewhat melancholic when all we hear is "Malaysia will Bankrupt". That session however, was a positive one. In my mind, "Did the 'Jala' catched much fish?" Well, here we go:

Firstly and fashionably unique to Idris, he started by focusing everyone's attention to the New Economic Model's (NEM) main thrust: EVERYONE - RICH - LONG TIME (Congruent with Tun Mahathir's High Income, High Cost Nation). This is ideal but to get there, I suppose we will see his status update shortly. He also gave some worrying statistics to act as catalyst to listeners' thinking process: 2010's 5.6% budget deficit; Debt at RM230 billion; Only 1.7 million people out of 28 million population pay tax; Goods & Services Tax (GST) necessity in light of low tax collection; Reduction in subsidies to allow funds/borrowings to be better used as investments; and many more which I did not manage to jot down.

National Key Result Area or NKRA that was introduced earlier is claimed to have 121% achievement level as audited by a professional firm of accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Not only that, the audit results were also reviewed by Sir Michael Barber (UK's equivalent of Idris) and other intellectuals that form the panel.

"...all these efforts are expected to produce 362,396 new jobs and RM220 billion GNI by 2020..."

So what does the 121% achievement level consist of? There are many components but those few shared by Idris during that session were:

• 35% reduction in street crime rate
• 15% reduction in crime rate index
• #1 ranking for Global Peace Index for South East Asia
• #1 ranking by World Justice Report for middle income countries
• 2.4 million new passengers for urban transportation
• 108 families categorised as "not enough food" now reduced from 44,643
• 54,000 education-deprived children now go to kindergarten
• 505,000 people benefited from low cost housing schemes
• 30% to 100% increase in sales for selected 129 groceries stores assisted
• 1,000 (record breaking) pre-schools built
• 700km (record breaking) roads built

Idris urged the country to focus on National Key Economic Areas (NKEA). He has so far identified 12 areas for which 131 Entry Point Projects (EPP) have been identified to create 60 business opportunities that are expected to produce, in total, RM1.7 trillion Gross National Income (GNI) (by when? I am not sure. Somehow not in my notes). To support this, RM1.4 trillion (USD444 billion) is required to be invested. So, how much of these have been achieved?

We know that various Government departments have been briefed and are already channelling their efforts to the 12 NKEAs listed below:

•Oil, Gas & Energy
•Palm Oil & related products
•Electrical & Electronics
•Wholesale, Retail & Distribution
•Private Education
•Healthcare & services
•Financial services
•Business Services
•Greater KL Urban Revitalisation

We also know that 65 EPPs have been created so far and RM170 billion has been committed. All these are only expected to produce 362,396 new jobs and RM220 billion GNI by 2020 - which is only 12.9% of the targeted RM1.7 trillion. I suppose that is progress. After all we'd just started all these transformation programmes in 2011. Let's hope that the next update from Idris show significant progress.

"..if people keep money under their pillows, we are in trouble! If we keep saying bad things about the country, no investment will come in. Our country is frozen because we cannot proceed efforts when public complaints and not support our good intentions..."

All these positive vibes cascaded to consumer confidence. It seems that Neilsen had reported that Malaysia's consumer confidence index have improved from 81 in Q1 2009 to 110 in Q4 2011. The economy has improved significantly evident by consumption level of RM375 billion, investments of RM123 billion, inventory (unsold produce) of RM12 billion and trade value (net export-import) of RM50 billion. All these consolidated to show net income from abroad of RM43 billion and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of RM560 billion - a staggering GNI of RM517 billion.

How have these affected the stock market? Well, market capitalisation in July 2011 went up to RM1.36 trillion vs RM1.12 trillion in August 2010. In 2011 the market reached all time high 6 times! (On 7 Jan, 17 Jan, 30 Jun, 1 Jul, 6 Jul and 8 Jul). We are (were in July 2011) RM200 billion richer (21%). I have to caveat that this information was current during the session with Idris (around july),.. so yeahh, I do apologise for not being current enough. Nevertheless, I do want to convey his (Idris') message to the public - i.e. the Transformation is indeed giving results.

Idris also urged Malaysian to not be afraid to spend money for spending money will only boost the economy; and, we should be positive in attracting investors to open up their coffers; again, in the name of boosting the economy - a very Keynesian method to this all. His exact words were "..if people keep money under their pillows, we are in trouble! If we keep saying bad things about the country, no investment will come in. Our country is frozen because we cannot proceed efforts when public complaints and not support our good intentions..."

The National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) also plays an important role of policy setting for which, The Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) that is led by its Chief Executive Officer, Idris, is expected to drive. Another branch of such initiative is Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (TERAJU) (launched on 21 July 2011) whose role is to further strengthen the Bumiputera development agenda (replacing the 30% quota that was removed by Dato' Seri Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia).

TERAJU's objective of narrowing disparities between Bumiputeras and its counterparts had already started. 11,136 small and medium Bumiputera enterprises were reviewed from which, 1,100 companies have been selected to be eligible for funding/resources/research and other assistance from the Government. These companies met 2 broad criteria: Minimum 50% revenue from non-government projects and a healthy mix of Bumiputeras and Non-Bumiputeras on its management team.

"Dato' Seri, we don't blog your story because blogs need negativity for people to read. Good stories don't sell..."

Idris met all sorts of public to tell his story ranging from professionals, business communities, media, bloggers, etc. He expressed regrets when a blogger once told him "Dato' Seri, we don't blog your story because blogs need negativity for people to read. Good stories don't sell..." Well, Dato' Seri, it is with pleasure that this blogger, i.e. * kopihangtuah, intends to, which he has, publish your positive notes. Keep up the good work. We want light at the end of the tunnel! Not bloody "Malaysia Bankrupt" stories! Let's just get the 'Jala' to catch more fish. Cheers :)

* kopihangtuah

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