THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Subashini's Case

Here are two quotes from The Star today.

Francis Perera of Catholic Lawyers Society:
Section 46(2)(b) Administration of Islamic Law (FT Act 1993) clearly states " A Syariah High Court shall in its civil jurisdiction hear and determine all actions and proceedings in which all parties are Muslims "

Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing of Christian Federation of Malaysia:
It is troubling to note that what is clearly stated in the Federal Constitution - that the syariah courts shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam - is now being extended by the court's decision to include non muslims.

What about the Bar Association of Malaysia ?

AIM Statement

Here's a statement from Amnesty International Malaysia.

Malaysian Guantanamo detainees will not receive fair trials under the Military Commissions Act


Amnesty International Malaysia believes that the two Malaysians, Mohd Farik Amin and Mohammed Nazir Lep detained at Guantanamo would not receive a fair trial according to international standards, despite the call by the Malaysian government as stated by Member of Parliament, Datuk Shabery Cheek yesterday.

What Datuk Shabery and the government have failed to understand is that the Military Commissions Act (MCA) has failed to comply with international standards and key requirement of a free and fair trial. Amnesty International has outlined various concerns about the Act in out report entitled “USA: Justice delayed and justice denied? Trials under the Military Commissions Act”

The military commissions operate in a legal vacuum where defendants cannot turn to international human rights law, the Geneva Conventions or the US Constitution for protection. The military commissions are part of a universe absent of judicial remedy for detainees and their families. Even if a detainee is acquitted, he may be returned to indefinite detention as a so-called “enemy combatant”.

The military commissions are patently tailored to fit the unlawful practices where information coerced by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment will be admissible. At the same time, the government may introduce evidence while keeping secret the methods used to obtain it. At any such trials, the defendants will be individuals who have been subjected to years of indefinite detention, whose right to the presumption of innocence has been systematically undermined by a pattern of official commentary on their presumed guilt, including on the part of the President, who is given the power under the MCA to establish the commissions and act as final clemency authority.

The right to a lawyer of choice for detainees charged for trial by military commission is restricted under the MCA. The civilian lawyer must be a US citizen and have passed stringent security clearance. A defendant is not able to choose as a lawyer a non-US national and even if the defendant retains a US civilian lawyer with the necessary security clearance, he will still be represented by a US military lawyer as associate counsel, even if that goes against the defendant’s wishes. The right to trial within a reasonable time, guaranteed in US federal courts and courts-martial, is denied to "unlawful enemy combatants". Furthermore, the detainee cannot bring a habeas corpus petition, either to the commission or to any other court.

The fact that there is no civilian component to the military commissions’ raises concern as to whether they can meet the requirements of independence and impartiality. The MCA provides for a military judge - a serving officer of the US armed forces on active duty - to preside over each military commission and to decide on questions of law, including the admissibility of evidence. In the USA, unlike the ordinary trial-level federal courts, military tribunals, whether courts-martial or military commissions are part of the political branches, rather than the judicial branch of government

The absence of a framework of law upon which either the defendant or the commission can draw leaves the defendant’s ability to prepare a defence in jeopardy and raises further questions about the independence of the commission.

We also find it ironic that Datuk Shabery Cheek is calling for fair trials for the Malaysians at Guantanamo yet has ignored the fact that the right to trial for those detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia has been denied.

We are also shocked about his claim that the ISA does not infringe on human rights. Various local and international organizations including SUHAKAM has recognized that the ISA, which allows for indefinite detention without trial and has facilitated patterns of grave ill-treatment, as a violation of fundamental human rights. Amnesty International has repeatedly called for the repeal of the ISA due to these concerns.

Finally, we urge the Malaysian government to bring home the two Malaysian Guantanamo detainees and accord them a fair trial based on the rule of law and international human rights principles. If the Malaysia justice system can find no ground or evidence on the basis of which to prosecute them, then they must be released.

BRAVO AIM. THAT'S THE WAY TO GO !

Appeal Sent !

Lest my readers think that the appeal was written for the purposes of this journal only, a copy of the appeal was actually emailed to Datuk Hishamuddin Aun, the Group Editor-in-Chief of the New Straits Times yesterday morning. Will keep you posted on further developments as they happen.

Friday, March 30, 2007

An Open Appeal

AN OPEN APPEAL


This year being the 50th Anniversary of Malaysia, I Rajahram Ramalingam of Rajahram's Journal most sincerely and compassionately APPEAL to the New Straits Times and the 3 plaintiffs to voluntarily and unconditionally drop all charges against Rocky @ Ahirudin Attan of Rocky's Bru and Jeffooi of Screenshots as a goodwill gesture of the celebrations in Malaysia.

I make this appeal in my personal capacity as a blogger and their colleague and in the interest of the blogging fraternity in general and Bloggers United in particular.

Thank you.

Rajahram Ramalingam

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Poverty Eradication



The Guru of Poverty Eradication and former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said a new affirmative policy should benefit the poor of all races in Malaysia.
He said the New Economic Policy (NEP) had only benefitted a few rich Malays when it was meant for poor Malays. The Government should dismantle the NEP and replace it with a policy to correct the imbalance of the marginalised and it should be implemented. The Government must introduce a policy without racial lines to benefit all races. He said this in an interview on Al Jazeera's talk show Riz Khan - The Star, 29.3.2007

Malaysia@50

Celebrating 50 Years of Nationhood

August 31, 2007 commemorates Malaysia's 50th year of independence. This historic event is celebrated in a joyous mood by Malaysians from all walks of life over a one month period. Malaysians display their love for the country by proudly flying the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian Flag).

EYE ON MALAYSIA

The Eye on Malaysia, the largest portable observation wheel
in the world, unveiled during the grand launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2007 at lake Titiwangsa Gardens.

Quite similar to the famous London Eye, the giant ferris wheel has been erected specially for VMY 2007. It allows visitors to experience a 360-degree panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur. The 12-minute ride reaches 60m high and will be a permanent feature in Lake Titiwangsa Gardens throughout the year.

Operating hours: 10am - 10pm daily
Tickets: RM15 (Adult), RM8 (Child & Seniors)

( Virtual Malaysia )

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Chinese Press...

A Commentary

Jeff, I refer to your post yesterday.It is a good hard look, inside looking inside, written honestly and succinctly. MCA should come out with a blueprint on what ails the community taking into consideration the views of the whole gamut of chinese society.

Without doubt education and media in part has been responsible for the loss of the early enterprising spirit of the chinese.The other part has been the affirmative action programme of the government to the bumiputras as enshrined in the Constitution. Perfectly legal, nobody denies that but that makes non-bumiputras step children. Is it time enough to have a look at this affirmative action programme which has benefitted the malays so much?

According to Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, 2010 would be the target year for 30% Bumiputra equity.The prime minister revealed this in a parliamentary written reply to Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor). Does this mean that after this year that will be no more affirmative action programmes to bumiputras? Will there be an equal and transparent distribution of government contracts, educational opportunities, employment opportunities in the government sector, etc. Will every sector reflect the racial composition of the country?

We then have the various draconian laws. The ISA,OSA, Printing Presses and Publishers Act, the Sedition Act. It muzzles the press and our human rights record must be low in the eyes of the world.There is no freedom of speech.Is it time enough for a review? I should be asking the government!

Will that satisfy the community? MCA and MIC should tell the Government (maybe behind closed doors ) what is it that bothers them, being step children. The Government on its part should listen and do the necessary.We all should be true Malaysians, honestly, and be proud of it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

National Service


Lee clarifies sexual assault report

I REFER to Sunday Star’s report “All-girl national service camps proposed” (March 25). Allow me to clarify paragraphs of the report concerning safety and instances of sexual assault and harassment.

I was quoted as having said that having all-female camps will limit instances of sexual assault. When disclosing the council’s recommendation on the settingup of all-female camps, at no time did I mention anything about “instances of sexual assaults”.

If not clarified, the news report implies that there were several instances of sexual assaults in national service training camps.

To the best of the National Service Training Council’s knowledge, other than one reported case of rape outside a national service camp in Terengganu in 2004 there were no other reported instances of sexual assault of female trainees in any national service training camps.

The trainer involved in the Terengganu sexual assault case was charged, found guilty and was imprisoned.

The council at its recent meeting merely recommended to the National Service Training Department to look into the feasibility of all-female national service training camps.

Whether such camps can eventually be set up or not has to depend on a number of factors which will be studied by the Director-General of the National Service Training Department who will report to the next council meeting in June.

Even if the report is favourable the council still needs to refer to the Minister of Defence for his approval.

I hope this clarification will help put right any unfounded fear or concern on the safety of all trainees arising from the report quoting me on a comment which I had not made.

TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE,
Chairman, National Service Training Council.


THANK YOU FOR THE CLARIFICATION, TAN SRI. I THINK A TIME HAS COME FOR THE COUNCIL TO TAKE UPON ITSELF THE DUTY TO ENSURE NO FURTHER DEATHS AND CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE OCCURS IN THE NATIONAL SERVICE PROGRAMMES TO THE EXTENT OF EVEN CLOSING DOWN THE ENTIRE PROGRAMME IF ONE MORE DEATH OCCURS. PARENTS ARE NOT SENDING THEIR CHILDREN TO BE KILLED BY THE PROGRAMME.

Rajahram Ramalingam

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga, the therapy which promises every health benefit from a strong heart to a slim waistline, is not necessarily something to tickle everyone's funny bone. However, its proponents say nearly everyone can benefit from having a good regular chuckle, and hope it will spread throughout the country, from the boardroom to the hospital ward. It took a while for the self-confessed cynic, and "scientific brain", to relax among a group of 25 all learning to laugh as therapy from laughing doctor, Dr. Madan Kataria.

There is a vast body of scientific evidence to show regular laughter has health benefits - it relaxes the muscles, eases stress, invigorates the heart rate and improves the immune system. What is interesting is that people seem to gain the same benefits whether they were genuinely laughing or just faking it."If you are faking laughing, the breathing and physical exertion is using exactly the same muscles," he says.

Laughter yoga combines laughter with yogic breathing exercises to provide one-hour workout sessions that include 30 minutes of laughter.

Mr Robertson says the main aspect laughter yoga shares with traditional forms of yoga is the focus on the breath - laughter makes people breathe more deeply, which has a raft of benefits in itself. "As a psychologist, that's the first I would get people to do," Mr Robertson says. "Get people to breathe more deeply, get more oxygen to the brain, help them relax."

Laughter yoga advocates say it exercises the heart, diaphragm, abdominal, intercostal, respiratory and facial muscles, with 20 minutes providing a workout equivalent to 10 minutes on an exercise bike. Among other things, it strengthens facial muscles and reduces wrinkles, leaving people looking younger, improves cardiovascular health, reduces blood pressure, boosts body's oxygen and energy levels, as well as immune cells that attack cancer, infection and viruses. It releases endorphins, a natural pain killer, stimulates the lymphatic system and boosts the immune system, and reduces levels of stress poisons 50 per cent or more in minutes.

Laughter yoga began with a group of five in Bombay, in 1995, and has now spread to 5000 clubs in 53 countries. Dr Madan Kataria, an Indian medical doctor dubbed the Guru of Giggling, started the groups with his wife after becoming interested in the health benefits of laughing.

Speaking from South Africa, Dr Kataria said when he started, very few people laughed in the big sprawling city. Life was "very stressful" in Mumbai, he said."We started out by telling jokes, but after about 10 days, we ran out of jokes," he said. "So we said, let's laugh without jokes." Now, 12 years later, Dr Kataria says he doesn't remember the last time he had a cold - NZPA.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Open Again

Dear Bloggers, Readers and Commentators,

After an initial hiccup, my blog is now open again. It is my Journal and I hope it complements the other blogs from Bloggers United.

Browse and have a good read of all the stories to date.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flying Jump !

Getting it right: The jump instructor observing his trainees on their way down, sky-diving , from more than 3,600m above ground - Starpix.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Malaysian Culture

What culture isn't

by Amir Mahmood Razak

Wikipedia defines culture (partly) as patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. Acceptable I'd say, but in a pluralistic society like Malaysia, is there one single Malaysian culture? Quite unlikely.

Each race in this country has its own set of cultures and beliefs, passed on from generation to generation. Some hold on steadfastly to the values, some apply them on occasion, and still some totally abstain. Strangely, as I see it anyway, while a modern person may not necessarily live the culture, he or she is likely to defend it to the death.

A burger-gobbling, pop-drinking and fashionable Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan etc. may yet argue till blue in the face that his or her traditional values should not be impeded for any reason. Try telling the above-described Malaysian that he or she can no longer wear kebaya/cheongsam/saree for whatever reason, and the uproar will be louder than the protests on the toll hikes.

My point?

Recently, Malaysian Youth Council President Shamsul Anuar Nasarah voiced his displeasure that stewardesses on Asia's most successful low-cost carrier, AirAsia were not dressed to "project our culture". The dressing was just one example, according to the news report. There are other issues that the council takes exception with, although there were no details.

Dude, what is our culture, when it comes to dressing? And before you say baju kurung, I'm referring to a culture that denotes all the races that make up the fabric of Malaysian society.

Perhaps what you meant to say was hostesses should not be wearing skirts, instead wearing kebaya like the ones on the national carrier. In other words, be Malay.

Right now won't the Chinese, the Indians, the Kadazans, the Muruts and the rest be offended that this Malaysian carrier does not reflect their culture?

I find calls such as the one by Shamsul insensitive. From a cultural point of view, as I have explained, there is no such thing as one identifiable Malaysian culture (boy, am I setting myself up for a backlash here!).

There are other ways AirAsia can promote culture, although the astute businessman Datuk Tony Fernandes is, he'll know that his core business is budget air travel, and not fashion.

Skirt-clad stewardesses may not be a cultural representation of Malaysia, but neither is it wrong. Should other Malaysian brands be tasked with promoting local culture? Should Protons have songket-woven interiors? Should the KLIA be shaped like a mosque? Should the international road entry points have spear-wielding guards instead of gun-toting law enforcers?

So while the outfit of AirAsia's hostesses may not necessarily be Malaysian, it's not wrong either, is it? If you ask me, pitted against a tight kebaya or a saree or a cheongsam, the skirt's functional. Still, I'd venture to guess a hostess wearing pants will probably run faster than those in a tight skirt, but I don't own the airline.

What I wear will not decide my culture. Me wearing hipster baggy jeans with an oversized t-shirt that screams "Yo brudder wassup!", complete with some bling-bling won't make me less Malay, or Malaysian. It will make me less associated with a local culture yes, but in no way does that make me any less a Malaysian - or cultured - for that matter.

I live and breathe my culture, even though I'm in a two-piece suit at work, listen to Nat King Cole and Al Jarreau for my entertainment and enjoy that hearty steak once in a while. My soul, I assure you, is Malaysian.

Good luck Malaysia.

Amir Mahmood Razak is a single father of two, who believes that life would be much better if we take failures as a chance to start anew. He is also a part-time newsreader in the midnight TV3 english news bulletins. This is his write as a columnist of The Sun.

Monday, March 19, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

I was at the cinema last saturday evening. I was at TGV KLCC to watch a scientific documentary of an impending disaster about to strike mother earth. A lecture by Al Gore ( "I used to be the next president of America" fame ) of an inconvenient truth.

A must see by all citizens of this planet earth to reduce and prevent the global warming catastrophe.

Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.

If that sounds like a recipe for serious gloom and doom- think again. From director Davis Guggenheim comes the Sundance Film Festival hit, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, which offers a passionate and inspirational look at one man's fervent crusade to halt global warming's deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it.

That man is former Vice President Al Gore, who, in the wake of defeat in the 2000 election, re-set the course of his life to focus on a last-ditch, all-out effort to help save the planet from irrevocable change. In this eye-opening and poignant portrait of Gore and his "traveling global warming show," Gore also proves himself to be one of the most misunderstood characters in modern American public life. Here he is seen as never before in the media - funny, engaging, open and downright on fire about getting the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls our "planetary emergency" out to ordinary citizens before it's too late.

With 2005, the worst storm season ever experienced in America just behind us, it seems we may be reaching a tipping point - and Gore pulls no punches in explaining the dire situation. Interspersed with the bracing facts and future predictions is the story of Gore's personal journey: from an idealistic college student who first saw a massive environmental crisis looming, to a young Senator facing a harrowing family tragedy that altered his perspective, to the man who almost became President but instead returned to the most important cause of his life - convinced that there is still time to make a difference.

With wit, smarts and hope, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH ultimately brings home Gore's persuasive argument that we can no longer afford to view global warming as a political issue - rather, it is the biggest moral challenge facing our global civilization.

Paramount Classics and Participant Productions present a film directed by Davis Guggenheim, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jakarta Tour

TOUR OF JAKARTA

I was in Jakarta from 12th -15th March on an AirAsia ticket I had bought about six months ago. The to and from fare was RM 194.98 ( including taxes and other costs).The flight from KL - Jakarta was about two hours and the plane departed and arrived on time.It was an Indonesian AirAsia flight and the in-flight service was good. I had nasi kuning with tea for brunch. It was still available although it was a return journey to Jakarta. Much unlike other AirAsia flights when most of the snack packs are sold out on a return trip. It was service with a smile all the way to Indonesia with that cabin crew.

Jakarta is a dynamic capital city of Indonesia. Indonesia has 17,000 islands, with a population of more than 240 million. There are 300 ethnic groups, speaking more than 200 distinct languages. Hence there is an incredible diversity of languages, cultures and religions, although Islam is the dominant. City of Jakarta alone has a population close to 10 million.

The central Jakarta area is the centre of Government and Commerce and boasts of ultra modern, futuristic buildings and wide roads and greenery - a well planned capital. But a mere 7km away is the typical squatter settlements not unlike many asian cities.These squatter settlements are mushrooming in large numbers in the outskirts and the government seems indifferent to their existence. According to my taxi driver there is no way to control people from rural areas coming to the cities in search of a better life.

Transportation in the city does not seem to be a problem. There are tuk-tuks (motorised tricycles ), vans, small buses, normal buses, coaches and trains for public transportation. These together with motorcycles and cars fill up the motor ways and very often cause massive traffic jams especially before and after office hours. At the wrong time you could end up spending hours on the road in Jakarta.

Among the tourist attractions l visited were the Taman Mini-Indonesia Indah, a 300 hectare park offering a sampling of the country's more than 300 cultures. The highlight features Museum Indonesia and Tanah Airku performing arts theatre.

The next day I went to the Ancol Jakarta Baycity, a vast 300 hectare ocean side park, an entertainment park for all ages.Special features include performances of sea animals, a safe lagoon for water sports,and a host of restaurants, hotels and nightclubs.The sea world is the biggest sea aquarium in the Far East. Journey to the bottom of the world at the microworld movies are regularly screened. Dunia Fantasy includes a thrilling roller coaster, flume rides, turbo tour simulatars and bumper cars.

The following day was spent going to the planetarium, which was unfortunately closed for renovations . Hitching a ride on a tuk-tuk, I sped to the Jakarta Cultural Centre to buy a ticket for the show, only to be told to come back later in the evening to get the tickets for the show at night. And hence I missed that show as well.

Because of the constant threat of traffic jams and afternoon rain downpour, I left to the airport early that afternoon of the final day. Luckily for me that day, there were fewer traffic jams and no rain and hence I arrived early at the airport.


The Soekarna-Hatta International Airport is a huge linear complex built using traditional Indonesian Architecture and comprises a Domestic arrival-departure area and an International arrival-departure area. Because of its linear design you could get in and get off in front of each airline's check-in counter, a novel design I have not seen at any other airports.The airport also boasts of a very beautiful garden-in-airport concept design, a pleasant difference from most airports.

My departure was however delayed by an hour because of the delayed arrival of the plane from Kuala Lumpur.

This short tour of Jakarta was indeed a memorable one for me as that country was in many ways different from Malaysia.

( Pixes by me - Top: Gedung Kesenian Jakarta, Jakarta Cultural Centre; Middle: Art work by an Indonesian artist at a gallery; Bottom: Souvenirs at the Airport Souvenir Shop. )

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Guantanamo Deal

Electoral Reform

Polls Reform a Pressing Need

by Mavis Puthucheary


Once again "people power" has been effective in checking the abuse of power. In Bangladesh, mass demonstrations against the appointment of a member of the ruling party as head of the caretaker government resulted in the postponement of the elections and triggered action to introduce electoral reforms.

But while "people power" has been of immense value in getting rid of corrupt regimes, it is a weapon of the last resort, and one which can damage democracy in the long run. In a democracy the will of the people is ordinarily expressed through their elected representatives. Since the government represents the people, government action is, in a strong sense, authorised by the people. Yet in democratic ideology and practice, there is also a separation between the elected representatives and those they represent.

This is not to say there is no place for civil disobedience in a democracy. Only that the reality of democracy is often very different from the theory, and that an oligarchy long entrenched in power may use the idea of representation to justify egregious political repression. Under such conditions "people power" may be the only way to get rid of a corrupt regime. But there are better ways to ensure democratic integrity. For competitive authoritarian regimes like Malaysia that wish to improve the quality of their democracy, there are less disruptive options, notably electoral reform. In this constructive spirit, some weaknesses in our political system may be noted in some areas for electoral reform suggested.

Democracy as a system of separations

The question of modern liberty has been a major concern of Western political philosophers who sought to create political systems that would safeguard personal and political liberties. In a democracy, modern liberty is grounded in a system of separations which provides the necessary checks and balances upon the exercise of unlimited power. Over the years a multiplicity of such separations has evolved: the separation of professions (the division of labour), the separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial in Montesquieu's scheme), the separation of church and state, the separation of civil society and the state, and the separation between the representatives and those they represent. The relationship of the representatives to those they represent depends not only on the mechanism of representation, namely the electoral system, including the election laws, the organisation and financing of political parties and so on. No less important is the "effectual" political system including the media and various financial and ideological power centres that actualise democracy, enable it to operate, and make it real.
Democracy, as rule by the people through their representatives, can only be made real and to work if people understand the idea of democracy and inhabit an environment that keeps them both informed and safe from government harassment. In short, their public and political liberties must be safeguarded. So, how does the Malaysian political system perform in safeguarding modern liberty? How does the separation of powers operate in the Malaysian context?

Separation of powers in parliament

The principle of modern political liberty advocated by Montesquieu was based on the separation of legislative and executive powers. Absolute separation is unachievable in parliamentary systems where the Executive emerges from yet remains based in the Legislature. In presidential systems such as the USA, greater separation is possible, since the president appoints executive or cabinet officers, with the consent of the elected, from outside the elected Congress.

While in parliamentary systems such as Malaysia's where the two are more closely interlinked, the principle of separation of powers still applies. Here it is sustained by the separation between the majority and the opposition within parliament. Although there is no sharing of formal political power between them, the fact that the majority can in time become the opposition and the opposition can be returned to power as the majority creates a situation where political liberties are protected. This role reversal is always in principle possible. Such a prospect may exert a restraining influence on the government and its majority, and often does.

The separation of majority and minority, government and opposition, also exercises a moderating influence in another way in parliamentary systems. Here the Executive is drawn from the Legislature, the people's elected representatives, and specifically from the members of the majority group or party. But the existence of a substantial, serious and legitimate opposition means the parliamentary majority, and the government based within it, cannot act, or claim to act, in the name or on behalf of parliament as a whole. The government cannot arrogate the authority or sovereignty of the parliament or represent its will as the will of the legislature as a whole. In this way the separation between majority and minority, government and opposition protects the formal separation of executive and legislative powers, the related yet distinctively different powers of legitimate official action and legitimate public voice. For this reason, the ability of an electoral system to produce a serious and responsible opposition is no less important to the fate of democracy than its ability to deliver a clear majority and an effective government based in it.

Although competitive elections are held in Malaysia, the same party has won all the elections since the country gained its independence. There has never been any historical reversal of roles between government and opposition. More, the ability of the political system generally, and the electoral system specifically, to produce any serious, credible and responsible opposition has been limited.

There are many reasons for this, not just one. But important among them has been that ethnic-based party politics has become the basic form and fact of political life in Malaysia. Where the governing inter-ethnic coalition exclusively embodies and so monopolises the undeniable claims of essential inter-ethnic conciliation and cooperation, and permits no other to emerge successfully, a three-party system has developed. The governing coalition occupies the middle ground embodying the principle of trans-ethnic accommodation. Opposition is polarised, with mutually incompatible ethnic-based opposition parties at each end of the spectrum, marginalised and isolated as "ethnic absolutists" or "chauvinist extremists".

In such a system, the opposition parties at each end of the spectrum find themselves having to compete with the party in the coalition that claims to represent the same ethnic group. As a consequence, opposition parties are driven to take extreme positions on issues affecting their ethnic clientele. This makes it very difficult for them to become truly multi-ethnic or join forces to form a united opposition to defeat the ruling coalition at the polls. At the same time, the exclusionary extremism and rhetorical excess to which they are in this way driven serve to shore up and give substance to the ruling party's claim to be not just a bulwark but the people's only plausible defence against ethnic mayhem. The problem here is that, just as some Western governments that claim to abhor gambling and its social effects become over-dependent upon the income that they derive from lotteries and horse-racing, so too may a government that justifies itself as its citizens' salvation from racial mayhem develop a vested interest in the continuity and strength of ethnic sentiments, and ever be tempted to invoke and even unwittingly amplify them.

Whatever, and however complex, its sources, the absence of a change of government in the Parliament does not augur well for the protection of liberty in Malaysia. Role-reversal between government and opposition, or at least the idea of its possibility and legitimacy, even normality, is fundamental to the strength of those separations, and to the maintenance of those distinct zones of proper action, upon which the liberties of modern citizens rest.

The federal factor

However, all is not lost. The Constitution provides for a federal system of government and for a separation or powers between different levels of government. It is at the state level that opposition parties have become majorities. But there are contradictions in our Constitution. For example, the terms of reference given to the framers of the Constitution were to provide for a "strong central government" within a federal structure. Yet, though there was a formal separation of powers between the centre and the states, many important matters, particularly those relating to finance and to procedures for amending the Constitution, gave very little autonomy to the states.

Central to the issues discussed here is the establishment of an Election Commission with wide jurisdiction to conduct elections at national, state and local government levels. Initially the commission had independent powers to make decisions concerning the allocation of parliamentary seats among the states based on the relative size of the population. But over the years this responsibility has been transferred to the parliament. So, too, have the commission's powers to delineate constituency boundaries been transferred to the parliament with its dominant majority and the now 50-year-long government grounded within that continuing parliamentary majority. Although delimitation of state boundaries is not within the jurisdiction of the parliament, since parliamentary and state boundaries are drawn up together they are part of the same package which goes to parliament for approval. This makes it difficult for the individual states to act as a check against abuses of federal power at the centre even in this matter of defining state electoral constituencies and their boundaries.

Caretaker government

Another form of separation of powers emerges in a more limited form when parliament or the state legislatures are dissolved and fresh elections are called. In order to ensure a more level-playing field and limit the powers of incumbency, constitutional convention provides for a caretaker government to be formed. The basic convention is that a caretaker government, while maintaining everyday life and social order, may continue to implement existing policies but may not initiate or announce any new policy measures. The contending parties may do so, as part of their platforms or election manifestoes, in their own names. But none should do so in the name, or with the backing of the moral authority and institutional resources, of the government and state.

In Malaysia this means very little as the same government has continued to remain in power. In consequence, there are no effective checks against any abuse of power. In some countries like Bangladesh, the constitution provides for a clear separation of powers between the independent caretaker government and the outgoing government. In Malaysia, in the absence of such constitutional checks, there is little that the Election Commission can do. The unfettered and continuing powers of incumbency make for an extremely uneven playing field, as well as for a further blurring of the boundaries between state, government and party. Rather than being underlined and strengthened during this period of "electoral interregnum", the institutional and domain separations that are essential to modern democratic liberty are only further confused as elections loom. Major abuses of state power are made to appear routine by the intertwining of official and party functions. In theory the King can refuse to act on the advice of the caretaker government in cases of blatant violation of these constitutional conventions, but in practice this is a dead letter.

Elections and legitimacy

Many of the checks and balances seen as important to protecting modern liberty in Western democracies are absent in Malaysia. This has adversely affected the quality of our democracy and, especially, the electoral process. The longer-term prospects, the continuing effectiveness, of any government are framed by its origins, its moment and process of birth. Why? The effectiveness of a government is largely a product of its legitimacy. And the legitimacy of any government is, in turn, largely an effect of the believability and hence integrity of the process, in this case the electoral process and system, that gave rise to it. So the electoral system and its plausibility are not just the foundation of modern democratic liberty. No less crucially, they underwrite the authority of the government and regime. You simply can't afford to have one that's defective, the object of public doubts and popular distrust.

Since elections are important tools to confer legitimacy and authenticate authority and so make government effective, public confidence in the electoral system is vital. From this, important consequences follow. It is not the mere holding of elections but the holding of free and fair elections that confers legitimacy on governments. The dilemma facing any competitive authoritarian regime like Malaysia's is how to win elections convincingly without undermining public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process to the extent that its own legitimacy and hence ability to rule are compromised, even undermined. When that happens it is not just the formal separation between the representatives and the people they represent that is compromised. Far worse, the real moral bonds and contract that in modern times conjoin government and people across that line of formal separation break down and people go to the streets to protest against the regime. We all have a vested interest in initiating political and electoral reforms before any such thing might happen here.

Dr Puthucheary is an academician focusing on Malaysian politics and administration, ethnic issues and the management of ethnic conflict.

The Sun, 12.3.2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

Flora Fest 2007

Float from Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur during the Flora Fest 2007 parade in Putrajaya, 27 January 2007 - Starpix.

All England Stunner


All England Championships: Pair carve their names with pride

Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong yet again demonstrated why they are the world’s most exciting young pair when they beat China’s world champions Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun to end Malaysia’s 25-year wait for an All England men’s doubles title at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham yesterday.

And the Malaysia pair did it in dazzling style winning 21-15, 21-18 in a gripping 39 minutes. "It was such an important title for us. It is definitely our first major victory and more meaningful than the Asian Games gold," said a delighted Kien Keat."It has been 25 years since the previous victory and we are proud of the feat."

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called Khoo Kien Keat immediately after the match to offer his congratulations to the pair.

The pair’s staggering success rate now stands at three titles in five tournaments since Kien Keat, 22, and Boon Heong, 20, competed in the Japan Open last October. Kien Keat-Boon Heong announced their arrival on the world stage when they ended Malaysia’s 36-year-wait for an Asian Games badminton gold in Doha last December.National men’s doubles coach Rexy Mainaky, after the painful episode of seeing last year’s All England title snatched by Denmark’s Jens Eriksen-Martin Lundgaard Hansen despite having three pairs in the semi-finals, had badly wanted his players win it this year.And this they did.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong rose to the occasion to deny Haifeng-Cai Yun their second crown after having won the title in 2005.Kien Keat-Boon Heong started cautiously but once they settled in, there was no stopping the Malaysians with Kien Keat dominant at the baseline, while Boon Heong’s superb netplay earned vital points. Kien Keat-Boon Heong wrapped up the first game 21-15 but, as is always the case, they started getting fancy with their strokes which nearly cost them the second game.

However, realising that fancy play was not helping them, they reverted to their attacking game and put the pressure on the World No 1 pair who started losing their grip. Kien Keat, after securing match point at 20-18, could not help himself and did a quick jig which signalled the Malaysians pairs’ confidence which they displayed by winning the vital point, the game and the title just minutes later, much to the relief of the Malaysian bench and supporters.

"Our strategy was to play fast as Haifeng-Cai Yun are quicker on court and we needed to outdo them in this area," said Kien Keat."I didn’t feel the pressure playing the final but I am feeling it now as I must shave my head bald. That was the bet I took with my teammates if I win but I don’t know if I will do or not.""Boon Heong played well today (yesterday) and our hope is that we can continue playing like this and win more major titles."

Rexy, who turned 39 on Friday, said that the victory is not just because of his their abilities but also the duo’s discipline and their humbleness despite their new found fame. "Firstly, I would like to thank god for helping Kien Keat-Boon Heong achieve this feat. My commitment was to make them realise that arrogance is not the way of champions but being humble," said Rexy.
"God has answered our prayers and we now have two players who are not just good but also learning fast how to cope with fame without being cocky. "I’m really happy that I received this belated birthday present and the win was not a fluke."

Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman also conveyed her congratulations to the top young pair and hopes their victory will rub off on other Malaysian athletes."It’s good that this young pair is coming up as Malaysian sport before this was all about Nicol David and the bowlers," said Azalina."Their goal now should be the Olympic gold medal next year in China."

In the men’s singles played earlier, China’s World No 1 Lin Dan beat compatriot Chen Yu 21-13, 21-12 in 32 minutes to seal his third straight All England singles title.

Results — (All finals) Men’s singles: Lin Dan (Chn) bt Chen Yu (Chn) 21-13, 21-12.
Doubles: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas) bt Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun (Chn) 21-15, 21-18.
Women’s singles: Xie Xingfang (Chn) bt Pi Hongyan (Fra) 21-6, 21-13.
Doubles: Wei Yili-Zhang Yawen (Chn) bt Yang Wei-Zhang Jiewen (Chn) 21-16, 8-21, 24-22.
Mixed doubles: Zheng Bo-Gao Ling (Chn) bt Anthony Clark-Donna Kellogg (Eng) 16-21, 21-18, 21-14.

K.M. Boopathy, NST

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Court Complex

World’s biggest court complex to open in May

The world's biggest court complex standing majestically at Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur. Due to be fully operational in May, the complex houses 30 High Courts, 21 Sessions Courts and 26 magistrate's courts. It also has 500 parking bays for the public, 300 bays for court staff and 200 bays for judges and magistrates.


The city’s newest landmark – the world’s biggest court complex – will be fully operational in Jalan Duta in May.

Acting Chief Registrar of the Federal Court Ahmad Terriruddin Mohd Salleh said court employees had been taken on familiarisation tours of the RM290mil complex in stages since Tuesday.

“The staff will be moving their things to the 77-courtroom complex by April 9. “By May 3, the courts should be ready to convene cases there,” he said, adding that the move would mark the beginning of the centralisation of all the courts in the city.

He also said the staff would be provided with chartered buses at a reasonable monthly fee. “The operator of the RapidKL fleet of buses has also been asked to provide public transportation to the complex,” Ahmad Terriruddin said.

The complex will house 30 High Courts, 21 Sessions Courts and 26 magistrate courts, and will have 500 parking bays for the public, 300 bays for court staff and 200 bays for judges and magistrates. Four courtrooms will be designated for the use of television to air court hearings or for child witnesses to give evidence.

The officer-in-charge of court policemen, ASP Zulkifli Osman, told The Star that 13 prosecuting officers would be reporting for duty at the new court complex.

by Chelsea L.Y. Ng and M. Mageswari of Star,11.3.2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Huge Haul

Huge haul: Penang CID chief SAC 11 Datuk Abdul Samah Mat (right) with Bukit Mertajam OCPD ACP Anil Shah Abdullah showing bags of plastic resin recovered from a godown on Wednesday. Nine suspects have been detained to assist in investigations into two robberies at a plastic factory near Butterworth - Starpix.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Climate Change

EU urged to lead world on climate change

By Paul Taylor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore urged the EU to lead the fight against global warming ahead of a summit that is due to pledge to slash greenhouse gases but leave key details for later.

Merkel, who will chair a 27-nation European Union energy summit opening on Thursday, appealed to fellow leaders to be pioneers in combating climate change by setting ambitious targets for reducing emissions blamed for heating the planet.
She won encouragement from Gore, co-author of an Oscar-winning documentary on the ravages of global warming, who said a European lead was vital.

EU leaders are expected to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in 2020 from 1990 levels and by 30 percent if other industrialized and emerging nations join in.
The EU executive wants a mandatory goal of 20 percent of EU energy consumption from solar, wind and hydro-electric power by 2020 but France and seven central European states are resisting.

TURNING POINT

British Environment Secretary David Miliband told reporters in London the main areas of likely dispute at the summit would be the renewables target, the national distribution of emissions cuts and efforts to break up the production and distribution activities of giant energy companies.
Veteran EU diplomats said the integrated, long-term strategy on energy and climate protection the summit will endorse would have been unthinkable just two years ago.

However, environmental campaigners note that the EU is falling short of the more modest emissions reductions it pledged in the 1997 U.N. Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Another potential source of discord is nuclear energy, which is so controversial among EU countries that the Commission chose not to make any proposal on the issue in its energy package.

France, which generates most of its electricity from atomic plants, wants the EU to set an overall target for "non-carbon and low-carbon energy" to make the point that nuclear power is clean and helps reduce CO2 emissions.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia said they would use the summit to try to revive debate on the merits of nuclear energy.

But countries such as Germany, Austria, Ireland and Italy, which have either eschewed or voted to phase out nuclear power, oppose any EU endorsement of an industry they see as posing unsolved problems of safety, waste disposal and storage.

Merkel said she planned to use Germany's presidency of the Group of Eight major industrialized powers to promote discussion of a future agreement to tackle global warming extending the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
"Of course, a post-Kyoto agreement will not come this year. Early negotiations are helpful but we will need one or two years at least," she said.

The European Union produces about 14 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions while the United States, the world's largest polluter, produces some 25 percent - Reuters.

Mrs World

Diane Tucker of the USA has been crowned Mrs World 2007 at Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi - AP.



Saturday, March 10, 2007

Biofuel


Brazil Displays Biofuel Advancements

By Heather Ishimar

The president's first stop in Brazil is an ethanol plant. Brazil is the world's largest ethanol producer -- and more than half of its new cars can run on an ethanol. So how did Brazil get so far ahead of the U.S. on this cleaner, biofuel? And why is Brazilian ethanol all but kept out of the U.S. market?

For 30 years, Brazil has worked toward ending its dependence on foreign oil by focusing on converting to ethanol. It can produce ethanol cheaply and in great volume because it has the ideal climate and conditions for growing the raw material, sugar cane. Brazil has about 10 distilleries where it processes that crop into both sugar and ethanol, depending on global market conditions.

President Bush will visit one of them tomorrow. UC Berkeley Professor Alex Farrell studies energy and transportation issues. He says Brazil is so far ahead of the U.S. on ethanol because we don't grow as much sugar cane. And, because of Brazil's longstanding public policy commitment.

Alex Farrell, UC Berkeley: "Like the U.S. in the mid-1970's, Brazil got very interested in ethanol as a fuel and it began to pursue public policies to promote ethanol, and they stuck with it."
President Bush has set goals for increased use of alternative fuels in the U.S.- and yet there is a 54-cent per gallon excise tax on foreign ethanol. Washington-based budget watchdog group 'Taxpayers for Common Sense' says that tax means its not worth it for Brazil to export its ethanol to the U.S..

Alex Farrell, UC Berkeley: "We've got Brazil, a place that makes it efficiently and with plenty of room to expand their production - and we'd like to see that allowed to be imported into the United States."

'Taxpayers for Common Sense' ethanol expert Damien Moore says the tax is designed to protect the U.S. sugar and ethanol industries.

The president's trip to Brazil might engender goodwill in the region, but only Congress has the power to end the excise tax, and it is unlikely to do that.

Alex Farrell, UC Berkeley: "We have some pretty powerful farm state senators and members of the house that are not interested in letting foreign ethanol into our country."

Moore says the excise tax is set to expire in the next couple years, so we can expect the debate
on it to start heating up soon - Reuters.

The Reform Agenda


Where is Malaysia’s reform agenda going?

by Farish Noor

Is it not often that the Malaysian police force asks for assistance from the country’s blogging community — those who spend their time jotting down their thoughts and opinions on the Internet. Until recently ‘bloggers’ as they are called were deemed at best a pest, and at worse even a threat to national security.

In fact at present some of Malaysia’s most noted and well-known bloggers have been called to court instead, accused of posting libelous postings that were seen as damaging to influential figures in the country.

Yet today the Malaysian police force has called on the country’s blogging community to help them with investigations related to a senior politician who it is said to have accepted around five million ringgit ($1.2 million) in bribes, to help release prisoners from jail through the Emergency Ordinance Act (EOA) of the country. Three former prisoners have been identified — and it is said that all three have close links to violent gangs involved in violent crimes as well as prostitution syndicates in the country. What, one might ask, is going on in Malaysia?

The news has caught Malaysians by surprise, and it was announced by Mohamad Shukri Abdul, Director of Investigations of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) that the ACA is currently investigating the claim that a senior politician in the Malaysian government has been bought, and has used his power to release prisoners from jail, albeit for a hefty price. What has spurred the investigation, however, was the revelation of detailed information relating to the alleged bribes on two independent websites operating in the country. The country’s Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Baharom has publicly denied any wrongdoing, though the investigations have now gone public.

It would appear that 2006 and 2007 have been the years of scandals for the Badawi administration in Malaysia . With the ACA bearing down on senior government figures, another scandal has erupted with Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau Zulkipli Mat Nor being accused of corruption himself. What makes matters worse is the fact that the allegations against Zulkipli Mat Nor have come from the retired director of the ACA, Muhammad Ramli Manan, no less. While speculation runs rife and the pundits take to the streets with this juicy gossip, the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has ruled out any suggestion of a possible future cover-up and insists that all these accusations will be taken seriously and duly investigated.

Thus far the Malaysian police force has been quick to act: The Director of the Criminal Investigation Department Christopher Wan has begun his investigations, getting the CID to look into the matter. Though the Deputy Internal Security Minister has said that he welcomes the investigation on him and has nothing to hide, the entire affair has added yet another stain on the reputation of the Badawi administration.

Prime Minister Badawi came to power with an overwhelming public mandate because of his reform agenda and the fact that many Malaysians believed he was sincere. He promised to clean up the corridors of power in the country, end the spate of corporate bail-outs and look closely at the dubious links between the state and the private sector, ruling political parties and crony businesses in Malaysia. Yet that does not mean that Malaysians believed anything could be done as Malaysia’s corruption scandals go back to the 1970s and thus far few major cases have been visibly and successfully settled in court. While foreign investors may factor into account local corruption as a hazard of investment, in the end it is the public’s perception that counts for Badawi as his image has taken several major blows over the past three years. Many Malaysians still believe in his sincerity, but have begun to doubt his effectiveness as a leader and a man of action.

Here it should be noted that a politician’s promises are only as good as the institutions that serve him; and in the case of Malaysia it seems that there is a lot of institutional inertia and invested interest to pay lip service to talk of reform, without actually taking any politically risky and painful measures to correct the problem.

What doubly embarrasses the Malaysian government, however, was the fact that the allegations first materialised on the Internet. Being a country with excessively high degrees of control on the state media, Malaysians have taken to cyberspace for alternative sources of information instead. While much of what is posted on personal blogs may be humdrum trivia having more to do with diets, fashion and relationship problems, there exist several noteworthy blogs that have turned themselves into reliable sources of information. What is more this information is often correct — thanks to the numerous ‘leaks’ coming from within the government itself.

The Malaysian public may be jaded by now by promises of institutional reform, anti-corruption campaigns and transparency. After all, there remain long, drawn-out corruption cases related to major corporate figures like Eric Chia (former head of Perwaja Steel, Malaysia’s steel-making giant of the 1980s) that have plodded along in the courts at a snail’s pace.

But what is clear today is that the Internet is proving to be the one space where disgruntled and frustrated Malaysians, tired of empty promises and lack of concrete results, have turned to information for collective action and lobbying. How will the Malaysian state cope under these new pressures? So far the government’s reaction has been to lambaste and demonise bloggers as a group of miscreants and subversives bent on damaging the country’s reputation. But as the latest scandals have shown, the real miscreants have been none other that the politicians and senior government figures of the country themselves...

( Dr Farish A Noor is a Malaysian political scientist and human rights activist )

Friday, March 9, 2007

Jacko in Japan

Michael Jackson poses for a photograph with one of Japanese participants to an exclusive fan events in Tokyo Thursday night, March 8, 2007 - AP Photo/ Eric Talmadge.


Fans in Japan

Excited fans got the chance to meet Michael Jackson in Tokyo on Thursday - but only those who could afford to pay 400,000 yen ($4,400) for the privilege.

Fans of the "King of Pop" screamed as he arrived by van at the venue in the Japanese capital for the event, at which he had promised to chat and take pictures with up to 300 guests, but not to sing or dance.

They were not put off by the price.

Rugby Dive

Who needs a plane when you can fly like Wales Emyr Lewis? Diving over the try line in the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens - Reuters.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Women's Day 2007






Every year on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. While there are many large-scale initiatives, a rich and diverse fabric of local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that all the battles have been won for women while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy.

With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that in parts of the world women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.


HAPPY WOMEN'S DAY 2007 !

...... and a poem for the Day ......

Dedicated to my late Mother, my Wife, my Sisters and All the Other Women who made that difference in my life.


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I'm telling lies.

I say,

It's in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I'm a woman Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.


I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It's the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I'm a woman Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.


Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can't touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them

They say they still can't see.

I say,

It's in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I'm a woman Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.


Now you understand

Just why my head's not bowed.

I don't shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It's in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

The palm of my hand,

The need of my care,

'Cause I'm a woman Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

( by Maya Angelou )



Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Lord Tennyson

"Theirs is not to make reply:
Theirs is not to reason why:
Theirs is but to do and die."
Lord Alfred Tennyson

Holi Festival

Holi Festival is celebrated with prayers. Devotees are seen here singing devotional songs inside the Lakshmi Narayan Temple on Saturday - 3rd March, 2007. Starpix.




Monday, March 5, 2007

Business of Politics



......and the business of politics goes on .....

Thursday, March 1, 2007

JFK Inaugural

Now, the famous JFK Speech, " ..........ask not what the country can do for you .........."

Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy, January 20th,1961


Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom - symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning - signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe - the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage - and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge - and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do - for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom - and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required - not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge - to convert our good words into good deeds - in a new alliance for progress - to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbours know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support - to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective - to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak - and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course - both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us.
Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms - and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.
Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.
Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah - to "undo the heavy burdens -. and to let the oppressed go free."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavour, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation" - a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.