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Why I am voting against BN March 6, 2008

Posted by Tim in GE12, Malaysia, Thoughts.
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I think PKR’s call for a minimum wage of RM 1,500 is ridiculous and unrealistic. Yes, we need minimum wage and perhaps unions even, but considering that a typical worker at McDonald’s earns only RM4/hour right now, their target makes them look silly. I also think that their “promise” to reduce the price of petrol – along with Anwar’s “On March 9, I will reduce the price of petrol” ditty – to be shortsighted. Yes we are an oil exporter and we have Petronas. But our black gold will run out in less than two decades so a little less reliance on it please?

Similarly, I was surprised to read about DAP’s proposed “bonus” – again, by divvying up Petronas’ profits – to middle income families. Surely the solution to Malays relying on government handouts is not give handouts to everyone instead. At the very least credit it into EPF.

Certainly I’m no economist, but the point here is that yes, our Opposition is relatively weak and inexperienced in some areas. I will still cast a vote against BN, and I believe everyone should too. There are many reasons, valid ones, why you would do so: blatant corruption, a shackled media, draconian laws, arrogant leaders, a stronger opposition voice.

Here’s mine:

I finished my secondary education in Penang Free School. I wasn’t an especially enthusiastic student, but did well enough to be in the bottom of the first class. There was a certain amount of prestige attached to being there: to get in, you usually needed straight As in the UPSR ( Primary School Evaluation Test ).

I used to look down a little on the people I knew who went to vernacular schools. They had more homework, they looked like convicts (mandatory crewcuts), they had bad England, and I didn’t like the whole industrious Chinese thing. Besides, I went to a Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan and I quite liked it.

In my final year in school something became noticeable though: after being streamed, most of my class were Chinese students. At the time I don’t think how much we appreciated how “lucky” we were that we could be there purely on merit. (And I want to take time here to state that the few Indians and Malays who were in my class were positively brilliant).

After I left, I heard that changes were being made to the school. Specifically, rumours of a quota for Malay students, and a rapid succession of Malay headmasters that barely spoke English and were more interested in using their position as a stepping stone to “bigger” things. Recently, the unofficial word was that the ratio of Malay:Chinese students should be 2:1. And this is now displayed beside our (once-)beautiful school gate:

Needless to say, you rarely hear about any achievements from PFS any more. It took less than a decade to undo 185 years of excellence.

PFS isn’t alone. Statistics now show that 95% of non-Bumi students go to vernacular schools, a letter to Malaysiakini mentioned. 95%!!

Are students expected to mingle only with the people of the same race for 11 years, and suddenly come out and “integrate”? Or worse still, join the MCA/MIC and continue to fight for more Chinese/Indian schools, and perpetuate the cycle.

Pak Lah himself recognized the deterioration of the national school system back in 2004:

“Surely, this kind of racial exclusiveness will sow the seeds of misunderstanding and mistrust later in life. If this trend continues, we may well drift apart, only to have few superficial commonalities between us, and few genuine ties that bind us together in a common destiny,” he said.

Nothing has actually been done of course, and the mainstream media recently fawned over our Education Minister DS Hishammuddin Tun Hussein for building more Chinese schools to keep the Chinese happy. Taking a look at one of MCA’s campaign videos gives you an idea of how they still think of themselves:

It has of course been pointed out how ironic it is that Hishamuddin is the grandson of Dato’ Onn Ja’afar, one of the first to see what Malaysia should be.

What’s happening in our schools is a microism of what our country is like. The economy is treated like a zero-sum game – too many rich Chinese? They must be taking the Malay share, so slap on bumi quotas. Election seats are strategized based solely on racial composition. We fill in our race on examination forms.

As I penned last May, we MUST stop telling Malaysians to identify themselves by race. That is the only way we will move forward as a country. As Raja Petra so astutely put it: MIC claims to defend the rights of the Indians; MCA, the Chinese; UMNO, the Malays. But from what? The Communists? The British? Surely if UMNO does not defend Indians that is a greater threat to national security than people handing roses to the PM. And in the aftermath of Hindraf why did MIC tell Gerakan not to interfere in the welfare of the Indians?

rojak-1.jpg

Race and religion are the two biggest dividers of the human race. But you get to decide your religion (eventually, at least), while racism tells you to identify yourself and others through accidents of birth and geography. UMNO, MCA, and MIC are founded on racism, on the fear that the “other races” will cause “your race” to lose out. It is very effective for vote buying but you just cannot build a nation on racism. It is what holds Malaysia back. I don’t expect Malaysia to change overnight – it took the US more than 200 years to elect its first black President ( going out on a limb here :P ) – but change has to start somewhere.

And that is why I am voting against BN.

Free Will Revisited February 21, 2008

Posted by Tim in Religion, Thoughts.
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Recently I was participating in a discussion which touched on “Christians and the State”. I was disappointed at the direction it went because it ended up being the typical assertions of “God is in control” that has been regurgitated many times – we didn’t manage to discuss the practical issues that concern all of us today.

I took issue with one point in particular: the pastor wrote on the board that governments were “appointed by God”. I pointed out that if I were to vote for the opposition, knowing full well that the current ruling party would return to power anyway, then that’s saying I’m going against what God wants. To which the other side backtracked and said that God grants us free will to choose, but will use whatever government that is in place to carry out his plans. The pastor also added that we should pray that we choose according to God’s will.

The root issue here is free will. In fact, the pastor adhered nearly exactly to an earlier post that I made, the Superlative God.

First you have an argument along the lines of Calvinism: God appoints the government. This would, of course, be very attractive if you are in government yourself.

Next you have the Arminian-influenced belief: God has granted you the “free will” to choose, but we should all try to choose our candidate according to His will.

The last alternative is in the fashion of Open Theism: People do indeed freely elect their own governments, based on the qualities they want in the candidate or party.

Many, if not all denominations will say they believe in “free will”, but I’ve realized that most of the time it starts and stops with the Garden of Eden. Just far enough to blame Eve for the apple.

The rest of the time what most people do is “pray” that they will “follow God’s will” – often I wonder if they really mean what they say. I have never, for example, seen a patient just diagnosed with cancer immediately ask whether it is God’s will for them to be cured or to seek treatment; but (if) the patient passes on everyone says it was God’s will and part of God’s plan. On an exam graded according to a bell curve ( where a fixed percentage of students will get a certain grade ), you won’t find any students – or their parents – thinking that it’s God’s will for them to NOT be at the top.

The most cynical interpretation of this phenomenon is that people use God’s mandate for their actions. Mike Huckabee, for example, claimed divine intervention when his poll numbers unexpectedly improved. And of course we have Rafidah Aziz – Malaysians saw a weak PM not daring to fire her, while she claimed a mandate from God.

A more empathic way to see this, which is probably closest to the truth, is that humans will usually only leave it “up to God’s will” when they are unable to help themselves or have no other recourse. The more devout will seek God’s will to override their own, the egoistical claim that whatever they do is by God’s will.

Here the questions arise: how sacred is free will to God, and how important is it to you? There are plenty of instances in the Bible, for example, where God manipulates man’s will, the most famous being the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart [Exodus 7:1-3], followed by horrific plagues upon Egypt because of his refusal(?) to let the Israelites go.

How important is free will to you? I can already imagine some looking up a rebuttal to the verse I quoted; it might save you time if I gave you the typical answer: “Pharaohs heart was already hardened, God merely completed the process”. To which I would reply: how receptive would you be if your neighbour came up to you and demanded that you release your Indonesian maid? More to the point, what decision would Pharaoh have made if God hadn’t hardened his heart? If Pharaoh would have decided to let the Hebrew slaves go anyway, why did God harden his heart and kill the firstborn of all Egypt?

The Free Will Defense, a term coined by Alvin Plantinga, is a popular argument that tries to explain the problem of evil. The problem of evil has its roots in the very first chapters of the Bible: Why did God place the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, and allow Eve to eat it? The proponent of FWD argues that humans must have the free will to choose God of their own accord. Here free will becomes a sacred thing.

But the question now is this: what is the “free” in “free will”? The mere ability to choose has no meaning, just like randomly crossing boxes on a ballot wastes your right to vote. Some people misuse the FWD by saying that “God cannot reveal himself to us because it violates our free will; we would have no choice but to believe”. But free will is only meaningful when you acquire or are provided enough knowledge to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision – something that comes across as ironic, since Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from the Tree that would provide them this very ability.

I would like to take time here to discuss whether God himself has free will – if God knows the future, he knows what decisions he is going to make. Even if you bring forward the argument that God is outside time, basic principles of logic dictate that you need to be capable of logical sequences (if A, then B ) – but it’s getting late, my brain hurts, and wills me to stop :).

Elections are here! February 14, 2008

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, News, Thoughts.
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Have been planning to blog for some time but things keep popping up. Been telling myself “I’ll go home on time from work today!” for the past 2 weeks but wind up going back late anyway.

I blame this on Edison Chen and his horniness – damn network traffic spikes. Pratically half of all keywords searches going through Nuffnang blogs now seem to be some variant of “edison chen s*x sc*ndal”.

But the just-announced dissolution of Parliament warrants an entry.

– I wonder how long the campaign period will be this time. IIRC, the last elections saw a record-short time of 7 days.

– AB was splashed all over the papers today claiming that he wouldn’t be dissolving Parliament, yet here we are. If he doesn’t take the elections seriously I wonder what he thinks about other things.

– Asia Times has an excellent take on the image campaign that AB has been on (is anyone sick of the newspaper articles blaring “so and so: Up to the PM”?)

Brilliant quote:

And so the excessive use of his portrait would seem almost counterintuitive, even in the runup to general elections, which are expected to be held in March. “For those who feel deprived it would seem to have the opposite of the desired effect: ‘He deprived me and now he’s smiling at me’,” said the president of Transparency International Malaysia, Ramon Navaratnam.

After all, when Dr. M was president did you see posters of him everywhere? Dr. M was a slimeball too, but at least he didn’t need an image campaign, his achievements were clear. AB hasn’t DONE anything, so an image campaign is all he can do.

– The sudden “fund allocations” that go around during election time are really, really insulting to the rakyat. And I don’t mean because they are little more than bribes. You can’t even call them bribes, because this is taxpayer money. OUR own money. Why are you throwing our own money at us? We should be even more pissed off! You insult our intelligence.

It’s even more demeaning when they expect the Chinese to vote for them just because they build Chinese schools. But then again, they’ve been thinking along racial lines for so long. The Deputy Education Minister, an MCA vet who is stepping down, even boasted that his achievement was building more Chinese schools. And we wonder why Malaysia isn’t racially integrated?

– Today’s paper had AB giving HIMSELF a favourable report on his performance since the last GE. No kidding.

– A bit old, but I really had a laugh last week over how the MSM was trying so hard to spin for AB. One day they were saying how much the PM has improved our economy, quoting the Second Finance Minister saying that our GDP increased by 55% (yes, 55%. Don’t waste time trying to find this story in an international paper though):

“If we compare in terms of US dollar, the per capita income has risen by 55% due to the depreciation of the dollar against the ringgit.

“The Barisan Nasional Government is confident that we will get the people’s mandate again based on the improved economic resilience.

Two days later, they ran an article trying to spin how Malaysians only care about the economy, not about govt leadership:

“People are concerned over the rising prices of basic necessities and the high cost of living, especially with the looming global oil prices.

Comedy gold. ( I must take this opportunity to state that I don’t actually buy The Star, I get it from my mom’s office ).

Misc Stuff:

– If you haven’t heard yet, the Sun is being bought out. An obvious ploy to snuff out the only paper where the journalists haven’t prostituted themselves to the govt. If you haven’t taken out a Malaysiakini sub yet, you’re an idiot. Freedom of speech under Pak Lah my ass.

– Almost all my old schoolmates aren’t registered voters. Good at complaining though.

– A little bird told me that the PFS Board of Governors is suing the current HM of PFS.

2.30 am already! This is why I don’t blog as often, Malaysia is just full of so much crap. Ta.

OMG SECKS January 3, 2008

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, News, Thoughts.
2 comments

What I realize from the Chua Soi Lek scandal is how immature Malaysians are when it comes to sex. He hit the nail on the head when he commented that Malaysians “have a holier-than-thou attitude“; the same attitude that sells those Malay tabloids you see on newsstands which are filled with nothing more than sex scandals and celebrity gossip.

At the end of the day we elect ministers to do their jobs and to serve the rakyat. I’m not exactly the most ardent MCA supporter, but from most accounts he has done his job and done it well. His extra-marital activities don’t affect any of us; only his family, who have accepted his apology. Judging from an accompanying insert in the Star, our so-called “Asian values” don’t include forgiveness.

Ironic, isn’t it? Within days of it being highlighted in the papers, he steps up to clearly admit and take all responsibility, and resigns. 20+ years of public service down the drain. He even states that there is unimportant who took the video clip (but come on lah, this is Malaysia). Meanwhile, issues like the judiciary scandal, the AP scandal, Hindraf, and the myriad cases of public fund mismanagement – all of which affect the rakyat in major ways see people falling over themselves to blame someone else and no one getting the boot.

On a lighter note, four cameras? You have to admit that his enemies are thorough. And isn’t the Star’s front page today misleading?

Visit Angkasa 2007 October 10, 2007

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, News, Thoughts.
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I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m not at all proud of our looming foray into angkasa. Would we be as proud of Datuk Azhar had he “sailed around the world” in a Russian cruise ship?

The papers have dramatized the selection of the first angkasawan as well as “rebutting” claims that they are space tourists. A writer from the Star even went so far as to claim that we would be adding to the celebrations of Man’s first trip into space 50 years back, along with other inanities:

The adventures of our Angkasawan will not only add to the celebrations of the country’s 50 years of nationhood but also man’s golden anniversary in space.

Many jokes have been made about the Angkasawan bringing Malaysian food to space but that simple act will enable local scientists to determine how well our local food travel in a vacuum.

No other country is going to carry out such a task for you and this research can enable exporters of our foodstuff to come out with different packing.

Ever wondered why satay in London does not taste as good as that in Kajang. Our Angkasawan may bring back the answer and further research may ensure that the taste stays the same in the future.

But I thought vacuum packaging had been discovered decades ago!

The simple fact is that we are space tourists. This has been known since last year. The decision of which tourist to send up was already known then (they chose the model). Wikipedia has already added an entry for us in their list of space tourists!

So no, tomorrow I won’t be cheering as we send a tourist into space.

Why Can’t We Speak Against Religion? May 31, 2007

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, Religion, Thoughts.
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What is it about religion that makes it seem impervious to scrutiny? In many conflicts in the world today: Palestine/Israel, Ireland, Thailand, Iraq, Pakistan, Darfur, etc, a lot of awareness is raised of the violation of civil rights, women’s rights and needless deaths – but you’ll hardly ever catch people criticizing religion. And while none of these conflicts stem wholly from religion alone, when you tiptoe around it or dismiss it as “personal beliefs” or “sensitive” you’re ignoring the elephant in the room.

Take Elizabeth Wong’s post (and I wanna make clear I love her blog) on the Lina Joy case :

To kill two birds with one stone is to have the majority view advocate for jurisdiction be placed in the realm the Syariah court, and the dissenting view aim at satisfying the detractors.

This is, after all, an election year.

There were no winners on Wednesday morning, unless we include the Islamophobes who gained an additional dart or two.

Many are saying the Lina Joy decision is a violation of civil rights, which guarantees freedom of religion. And it is, indeed. But few are pointing out that the verdict was hardly political, or what the verdict means. The two Muslim judges voted to reject her appeal, with the non-Muslim judge the sole dissenter. There were hundreds of youths outside the courtroom shouting Allah-o-Akhbar (God is great). The motivation behind the decision isn’t rocket science.

And the reason the Lina verdict is devastating is not just because she is denied freedom of religion – indeed, I think that it is obvious even to the judges that you can’t control what people think or feel – it is because that to officially deconvert, she will have to go through the Syariah court. Islam carries heavy penalties for apostates. In more fundamentalist countries, this means death or imprisonment; in Malaysia it means a jail term or “rehabilitation”.

But because religion is “sensitive” and a “personal choice”, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone willing to point out that the root of the problem is how Islam handles apostasy. And so time and time again we get trampled by the elephant in the room.

A Wager of Fear May 30, 2007

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, Religion, Skeptic, Thoughts.
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Unless you’re completely clueless about theology, you’ll know what Pascal’s Wager is: A “gamble” whether to believe in the existence of God.

It states that

  1. If God doesn’t exist:
    • Not believing in God will gain you no additional benefit (negligible gain)
    • Believing in God would lose you nothing (negligible loss)
  2. If God does exist:
    • Not believing in God means you will be sent to Hell (infinite penalty)
    • Believing in God means you will go to Heaven (infinite gain)

So the natural choice is to believe in God. Seems like a pretty solid argument – to a seven-year-old.

We’ll never know whether Pascal was just being tongue-in-cheek with this proposal. But if you ever hear a religious “apologist” invoking Pascal’s Wager, it’s a sure sign that either his arguments are weak, or he’s out of touch with the world. The deficiencies of the Wager are immediately obvious.

More than one way

There are myriad religions in the world. This was true centuries ago and still is. When you factor in the possibilities of every god existing – Thor, Jupiter, Krishna, Allah, etc; and the fact that most religions will punish you for believing in other gods, then blindly making the Wager will considerably shorten your odds.

This also doesn’t take into account religions that don’t have a deity (Buddhism). It also assumes that all religions send nonbelievers to Hell – which is not the case (Judaism).

It doesn’t consider that if your life is indeed all you have, then spending your time and effort on a false religion wastes it.

And more damningly, it assumes that belief – even blind belief will get you into Heaven.

Blind faith

Pascal’s Wager plays on one of our most basic fears – the fear of death. It strips from religion any pretense of humanity and reason; basically demanding “believe, or die”.

Deathbed conversions are a prime example. One wonders how a such “conversion” can be real – surely a person should die as (s)he lived. I hear stories of families saying, with relief, “Oh, we told him to nod his head if he accepts God, and he did. Praise God!”

This cheapens both man and religion. If one can get religion just by paying lip service (or in this case, by nodding your head) only when there is nothing to lose; without ever pondering over its validity, its doctrines, or its historicity; without ever spending any effort on it; then it’s safe to say that the patient would have “accepted” whatever religion thrust at him. If he was unfortunate enough to have relatives of differing religions than I pity the poor thing. Or who knows, the patient could have been saying “Yes, whatever, stop annoying me!”

And you wonder who the conversion was meant to benefit – the “convert”, or the people doing the converting, to give them peace of mind.

To a lesser extent this applies to some who convert only after a near death encounter, where religion becomes the ultimate health insurance.

Belief is not a Choice

Can you “choose” to believe, like the Wager says? Can you “choose” to believe in Santa Claus, or “choose” to disbelieve in gravity? If I pointed a gun to your head and asked you to “believe” that my religion is true, and you said yes, does it mean you believe? If, like in Indonesia, the state rules that it is a crime not to “believe” in a religion, does that mean that Indonesia is the most religious country in the world?

We can never “choose” to believe – for anything worth believing in, it is not lip service or self-delusion that determines belief, but whether we accept the premises and rationale behind it.

Later today, the Federal Court will pass judgement on the Lina Joy case. This is about more than religious freedom – it is about your very right to think for yourself. She needs “certification” from the Syariah Court to renounce Islam. A New York Times article quotes a senior fellow at the Institue of Islamic Understanding saying that “If Islam were to grant permission for Muslims to change religion at will, it would imply it has no dignity, no self-esteem”.

If religion is automatic, then surely heaven will be filled to the brim! In fact, I’d say that if Islam were to force “Muslims” to “believe”, when they so obviously don’t, it is that which implies that Islam has no dignity, no self-esteem! Anyone wanna place a wager on the outcome?

Examining Expletives May 25, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Literary, Thoughts, Trends.
1 comment so far

I sometimes find myself “filtering” conversations with others.

Take for instance something that happened to me recently – two months ago, I borrowed a book from the library to refer to for an assignment. After I was done with it I passed it to a groupmate, who was supposed to return it to the library for me.

Long story short, I went to the library to fill in a clearance form before graduating and I’m staring at a big fat fine on the screen.

If I were telling this story to someone I don’t know well (including you, dear blog reader), it’d go something like this:

1) “You know, I reminded him many times to return it but he didn’t!”

Which is fine, but fails to convey how I really feel.

Telling this story to say, my mother, it’d go:

2) “You know, I reminded the stupid guy many times to return it but he didn’t!”

To a friend from church?

3) “You know, I reminded the guy so many darn times to return it but he didn’t!”.

You see where I’m going here? To someone I know well and am more comfortable with, I’d just come right out and choose the precise words to convey it:

4) “You know, I told that stupid fucker so many damn times to return it but the fucker didn’t!”

Only 4) properly conveys the extent of my aggravation then; 1), 2) and 3) are politically correct, but gives the impression that I’m only slightly annoyed.

Are You Sure You Still Want to Use That Term?

Now let’s digress a little for another story: about a week ago I came along a post in a friend’s blog. She was concerned about how people were using the word cam-whoring. She linked a definition from Wikipedia:

A cam whore (sometimes cam-whore or cam-slut) is an individual who exposes himself or herself on the Internet with webcam software in exchange for goods, usually via enticing viewers to purchase items on their wish lists or add to their online accounts.

ARE YOU SURE YOU STILL WANT TO USE THAT TERM??? (sic)” was her conclusion.

If you read through the rest of the Wiki, however, the entry continues:

While the label is usually considered derogatory and insulting,[3] it is also used by these people to describe themselves, occasionally in a self-deprecating manner.

The term “cam whore” is also used to refer to individuals who post pictures or videos of themselves on the Internet to gain attention. The term disparages those who post pictures of themselves at inappropriate times or places, and usually implies self-absorption. This second usage of the term, deriding vanity and histrionics, is overtaking the prior, more intuitive definition. It is usually synonymous with attention whore.

Trends in Terms

The first thing to realize is that the meanings of words change. Damn, for example, comes from damnnation: a punishment from God. Fuck is right up there on the list of expletives, of course. The etymology of fuck is actually a good read – mainly because for all its controversy, the actual origin of the word is obscure (For the more liberal readers, there is a popular Flash of the various ways you can use the word). It literally means “sexual intercourse”. But I was obviously not condemning the offending person to fire and brimstone, nor am I privy to his nocturnal activities.

The Guardian published a list of TV’s most offensive words based on a survey, assigning an “offensiveness” rating to every phrase (to my credit, I know only about half of them). It shows that different groups of people have differing opinions on how offensive the phrases are. Arse is only “mildly offensive”, while arsehole is “quite strong” for some. Yet, bum, which has the same meaning literally, is rated “mild”. The most offensive body part is cuntcock is only “a middle of the road” word (I wonder if feminists will be up in arms about this).

A common practice is to bowdlerize “offensive” words. “Oh my god” becomes “Oh my goodness“; “damn it” becomes “darn it“; “fucking terrible” becomes “freaking terrible“. When I was growing up I learnt the the thing in front was dadu (DARE-do); the thing I didn’t have was dudu. Internet slang has also conveniently introduced shorthand – people rarely take offense when you type OM(F)G, WTF, WTH, FFS, etc.

A friend of mine blogged about a comedy routine by George Carlin, who went one step further. Carlin made a list of “unspeakable” words, and assigned numbers to them. Now, would “You 6ing, 7ing monkey 5er. You think your 1 don’t stink well 3 off you 3ing 3er” be allowed on TV? Would it be any different from inserting strategically-timed beeps?

Enid Blyton was a very conservative children’s writer – you won’t find subtle philosophical insights or social upheavals in her writing (unless Georgina was a closet tranny!). But meanings change, and once-innocuous names like Dick (my favourite of the Famous Five) and Fanny have been censored with politically-correct versions. Same for the poor golliwog, a children’s toy that became a symbol of racism.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most memorable novels a child can read – on one side a captivating tale of childhood adventure, on the other, a glaring look at the racism of those times. Jim, the black slave fleeing down the Mississippi River, is elegantly portrayed by Mark Twain: black people were regarded as inferior, but Jim proves to be the only good man in the story. And yet, to this day it remains one of the most banned books in the US. The century-old controversy revolves mainly around the usage of nigger and negro. Apparently this makes the book “racist” and “offensive” – never mind that this is precisely what the novel portrays, the racism of those times!

What Matters

We need to realize is that words are a social construct. Words have no power except what we choose to assign to them, and the intent behind them. Bocor isn’t a swear word, but in the context where it was used recently, it was definitely offensive. Which is not to say that I encourage freely replacing all your adjectives with expletives (mainly because people won’t be able to tell if you’re angry, or REALLY REALLY angry), nor should you throw insults around for no good reason – rather, examine the intent, not the letters on your screen.

For those still squirming at the un-PC-ness of this essay, I hope I may soothe you with a catchy advertisement you won’t find showing here any time soon.

Students: Don’t be Passive, Don’t be Active May 22, 2007

Posted by Tim in Malaysia, News, Thoughts.
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Today’s StarAction against 38 undergrad campaigners:

JELI: The Higher Education Ministry has identified 38 students from various public institutions of higher learning who actively campaigned for the opposition in the Machap and Ijok by-elections.

Their names have been submitted to the ministry for action, said minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed after opening Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Jering’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meeting here on Sunday.

He said the Universities and University Colleges Act prohibits undergraduates from participating in political activities.

Are they being threatened because they campaigned, or because they campaigned for the Opposition?

Ironically, a few pages away there’s a story headlined Expert panel: Our students not curious, too passive:

“Many of the IAP members found that our students lack a ‘questioning culture’ and that they are too passive. They also lack questioning skills, are not too curious and too readily accept facts told to them,” he said, adding that this was despite Malaysian students being praised often for being top performers in school.

Gee, I wonder how this came about…

For some context, read theCICAK’s Ijok exclusive, or a previous post of mine on this issue.

The Non-Apology Apology May 20, 2007

Posted by Tim in Thoughts, Trends.
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The Non-apology Apology. It’s actually become a well-known phrase. Wikipedia has a good article on it; and here’s another with more specific examples.

You already know the incident I’m referring to, of course. Now, I highly doubt that those two even know how to use a computer, much less be aware of other public apologies (CSMonitor says that public apologies have doubled from 1990 to 2002). But isn’t it a wonder how completely unrelated sleazebags can reach across time and space to utter the same nonsense and expect us to believe them?