Loyal Followers

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Newest Millionaire In KL :)


I launched this blog on 11th December 2008. The first ever post was A Streetcar Named Abdullah.

Twenty-six months, 461 followers and 221 posts later, on 21st February 201, this blog registered it's 1 millionth hit. It is nothing compared to hits recorded by some other famous blogs, such as Rocky Bru's or Niamah. But I am nonetheless very pleased.

I started blogging at Navel Gazing upon the invitation of a dear friend, Daef. NG was a blog with no particular theme. It was a place for Daef, myself and another friend to dump our creative - and non-creative - thoughts in written form.

Soon, I began to take a detour towards socio-political stuffs. My first serious post was The Tun Salleh Saga - an open reply to Dr Mahathir, which was picked up by Haris Ibrahim's The People's Parliament and Raja Petra's Malaysia Today.

I then began toying with the idea of launching a blog of my own. The theme would be socio-political, although I was never going to restrict or constrain myself with only socio-political issues.

I had waned to make this blog a bit different from other socio-political blogs. My main plan was to write with responsibility and a great amount of civility. I had intended to intelectualise the issues which I delve in and write articles with deeper analysis of the issues at hand. I had also wanted my posts to be devoid of emotions.

In my mind, my articles must be accessible, in the sense that the readers must not find them too pedantic or too deep so as to invite tears of boredom after the 2nd paragraph. It was with this in mind that I had infused my articles with some humour and sarcasms.

The objective is to create a platform for a discourse. To me, civil engagements and discourses are a mark of a vibrant society whose members are aware of their surrounding, their rights, their wants, weaknesses and strengths.

I had never set out to be some kind of a hero or something. I am just an ordinary guy one would meet on the street. Being an ordinary human being, I do make mistakes.

What I have is just my opinions and thoughts on some matters or issues which are close to my heart. What I do is to voice out those opinions and thoughts. One may agree or disagree with me. That is normal. The comments made against my position and opinion in The Interlok Quagmire are prime example that I may not be right all the time. Nevertheless, I make no apology for whatever stand or position which I take on any issue. Of course, I am not beyond being criticised or even persuaded to change my stand.

However, what I resent is the inability of some of us to engage in a civil and proper manner. There are people who skip the issues at hand and start making personal attacks. That, to me, is a mark of a shallow mind, a mind with little or no ability to articulate its thoughts and express its opposition against another's position on whatever issue. I normally disregard or ignore such people no matter how vociferous they try to be.

Over the years, I had touched on many issues. Some are important and some others are just reflective of my restless mind. One particular article was so well received that it not only surprised me but also puzzled me. That was 1Malaysia Dalam Kenangan. That article was just a depiction of my early formative years in my kampung. The warm response which I got from that article made me happy and sad at the same time, as it was obvious from the hundreds of comments that Malaysians generally are peace loving people who yearn for integrity, equality and most of all, acceptance.

Throughout my blogging days, I had tried to cover as wide a topic as possible. Being so, I had veered between the  hyper hilarious in Dear Mr Todt; Dear Ambassador Todt and A Tale of Two Tuns and super serious in The Wolf and the Silence of the Lamb; The Bastardisation of the Social Contract Part 1 and 2.

When I started, I was thinking that even if 5 or 10 people read my stuffs, I would consider that an achievement. I am more than glad that this blog has had 1 million hits. Even if 10% of that hits result in the actual reading of my articles, that would mean my articles here have been read at least 100000 times.

I was thinking that if this blog could garner 10000 hits a month, I would be a happy man. Never had I imagined that this blog would get 1 million hits in 2 years of its existence. The early days recorded about 50 hits per day (20 of which were my own hits - lol!!!).

I wish to say thank you to all of the readers for taking the time to visit this blog, read the articles and making the effort to leave comments. I wish to thank all of you for all the kind words of compliments, words of encouragements, criticisms and even chastisement (when I had gone astray).

A special thank  must be recorded for Malaysia Today, which had linked most of my articles on its site, giving huge exposure to this blog. My thanks also to the Malaysian Insider for publishing some of my works. My appreciation also to Rocky Bru's which had been one of this blog's top referrer. I am also obliged to people like Zorro, Loyarburok and Patrick Teoh who had from time to time linked my articles on their respective blog, gaining this blog priceless exposure.

Once again, thank you to all of you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Speed kills justice too!

To the Chief Justice, it is all about "speedy disposal of cases." No matter what, a case must be disposed off quickly.

He started out by, of course, blaming the lawyers. He forgets that he was once, a practising lawyer himself. Would he tell us, frankly, that he had never ever asked for a postponement of a case because he had another case fixed on the same date? Or that nobody from his former esteemed firm had ever done so. 

He had gone around town to paint an ugly picture of greedy lawyers having 93 cases to handle a day. To him, even medical certificates are not acceptable anymore.

Perhaps to him, the lawyers' sole purpose of their existence is to delay the disposal of cases. Nothing more and nothing less.

Malaysia is well known for stop gap measures. For measures taken in the heat of the moment, without careful analysis of the real problems, their causes, their classifications and their solutions.

Thus, when some people on jet skis cause the death of some swimmers at a beach some years back, there was of course a chorus of calls to ban jet skis. I remember during the early days of motorcycle helmets, we banned helmets with visors because some hooligans wore helmet with dark visors to rob banks.

It's going to hurt but I am going to say it anyway. Shallow minds only bring with them shallow solutions.

May I ask the Chief Justice, has there been a study on the so called "delays" in the disposal of cases in the Courts? Or to start with, what was causing the so called "backlog" of cases in our Courts?

If there were "delays", what kind of delays? What cause these delays? Because really, to my mind, to lump up all the "causes" of delays and single them out to greedy lawyers is as shallow as blaming the West for all our moral deficiencies.

What about delays which are caused by procedural merry-go-round? What about delays which are caused by the judiciary itself? By its own inefficiency and dogged adherence to an almost medieval process? What about delays occasioned by the Judges or judicial officers having to attend "courses," "seminars" or even "meeting with the CJ"?

I have sat in an open Court doing nothing other than twiddling my fingers and counting sheep in broad daylight for FOUR days consecutively before finally being told that there was no time for the Court to hear my case and that my case was to be adjourned to another date "to be fixed" later. Many others have gone through that too.

Do we blame the Courts? No, we don't. We may bitch about it at the bar but we don't blame the Courts. We don't do so because we understand that that is part and parcel of our legal practice. That the Courts do have many cases to deal with and that it is difficult for the Courts to know exactly when our case will or can be dealt with.

Different kind of delays require different treatment. And surely they also require different solutions. Procedural delays would, for example, require a look at the procedures and their variations, amendments or even wholesale revamp.

Delays caused by the Court's inefficiency would of course require a close look at the number of Judges, their staff and the availability of courtrooms. Delays in the note taking process also require a different solution.

At the moment, the number of Judges, staff and courtrooms have increased dramatically. The note taking delays has also appeared to be solved by the installations of video cameras and recording equipments. But do these really work towards solving delays? Is that all?

Who, may I ask, transcribe all the notes of proceedings from their digital form to a legible analogue form? The Court staff? No. It is the lawyers. We are the one who are lumbered with the job of transcribing the notes when in fact, and in law, it is the Court's duty to do so.

Do we complaint? No, we don't. We don't complain because we understand that the Courts simply do not have the workforce - or even the expertise - to do so. While we take that responsibility as part and parcel of our works, all that we hope is just a bit of appreciation by the Courts.

We do expect the Courts to appreciate that when the Courts determine the cost to be awarded to our clients, for example. Transcribing notes of proceedings is no easy task. It is arduous and tedious, to put it mildly. When we ask professionals to do it, it costs thousand of ringgits, when in law it is the Courts which are supposed to do it. Who pays for this at the end of the day? It is our clients. Isn't it unfair for the Courts to expect our clients to pay  for the works which are supposed to be done by the Courts?

In an appeal to the Courts of appeal, we are required to include these notes of proceedings in the appeal records. Under the rules, we have 6 weeks to file the record of appeal. Time starts to run after we receive the notes of proceedings. But nowadays, the Court says that time starts to run when we receive the CD recording of the proceeding! What the hell is that?

Doesn't the Courts realise that it takes time to transcribe the notes? If we engage professionals, we have to abide by their free times and dates. Why are we - and litigants who are lay persons - being penalised by the Court's own inefficiencies?

That is why I say there must be a close study of the "delays", their causes, their different classifications and types and their solutions. Otherwise we would have an incomplete solutions to an incomplete diagnosis of a disease and its symptoms. What the CJ is doing now is to treat symptoms without knowing what exactly is the disease.

If digital audio and video recordings of the Courts proceedings are the answers to the delays, than why don't we just amend the rules to make it possible for record of appeals to include the digital recordings as part of the record of appeal? Why do we still need to transcribe the recording?

The answer to that is simple. That simply cannot be done because the Court of appeal is bereft of the infrastructure and equipments to make it possible for such digital note of proceedings to be accessed during the hearing of the appeals, either by the Judges or the lawyers.

And so we are lumbered with a half baked scheme. A scheme aimed at speedy disposal of cases by merely assigning blames and guilt and nothing else. In other words, a scheme for which Malaysia is well known for, a short cut. An incomplete stop gap measure. That is what it is.

May I ask the learned Chief Justice, what is the percentage of appeals being lodged to the Court of appeal from the High Courts in relation to the decisions delivered by the High Courts? 90%? 95%? Or is it 99%? May I ask why is there such a high number of appeals?

Let's face it. Nowadays, no litigant is satisfied by the decisions of the High Courts. Almost all of the High Courts decisions end up in the Court of Appeal. Why?

The answer is obvious. Almost nobody give regard to the decisions of the High Courts. And I say that without meaning to cast disrespect on the High Courts Judges, some of whom are really working very hard and some of whom are really good at what they are doing.

However, the speed at which the Judges are moving really leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouth of the litigants. There are Judges who rush through a hearing. There are Judges who insist that cross-examinations be limited to within a certain scope in order to "save time". There are Judges who obviously do not even read the written arguments or even the Court papers because they simply do not have the time. There are even Judges who insist that cross-examinations be done in  writing!

In order the speed up things up, nowadays it is the practise to file a "witness statement," for example. This requirement is not borne out by delays which are caused by lawyers. This requirement is borne out of the inefficiencies of the Courts in taking notes. The obvious - and natural - solution to that is of course for the Courts to have staff with the proper ability and equipment to take proper notes.

Again, a stop gap measure - and obviously, half-baked - was introduced. Parties are now required to exchange "witness statements." That is supposed to solve the problems of note taking. But does that solve the problem? Or does that breed another set of problems which are more serious and insidious?

Through centuries of practice, witnesses are supposed to testify under oath in the witness box. That is so because the Judge can then look at the demeanour of the witness and make an assessment of his character form the way he behaves in the box. The judge can look into his eyes, observe his facial expressions, note the nerve in his voice, the change in his intonation when he either says "yes" or "no" to a question, for example.

On the other side of the coin, the witness, while in the box being asked questions by his own Counsel, is being conditioned progressively for the crunch later, namely, for the opposite Counsel to cross-examine him with probing questions designed to challenge or even discredit his testimony or himself. That is why witnesses are examined firstly by his own Counsel in the box.

Now, by simply exchanging witness statements, witnesses are robbed off the opportunity of being conditioned in the witness box. When he is called into the box, his pre-prepared statement would be taken as read (presumed as read) and cross-examinations follow without further ado. Just imagine. He sits down in the box and the opposite Counsel promptly rain him with questions after questions designed to challenge him. People do not go to Courts and give evidence everyday. Just imagine the stress that a witness has to go through.

Meanwhile, the Judge has also been robbed off the opportunity to  observe the demeanour of the witness while being examined by his own Counsel. That is because the witness does not give an oral testimony anymore, but rather a written statement.

It follows that half of the Judge's opportunity and means to assess the character of the witness has been taken away by the witness statement! To say that the Judge is well handicap would be an understatement!

Does the Chief Justice actually think about this when he perfected this procedure of exchanging witness statements? Frankly, please?

And what about the fact that the witness statement will inadvertently NOT be a statement by the witness in his own words and style? For sure - and I can say this 100%  and more - the witness statement is not going to be drafted and finalised by the witness himself. It is not going to be from his memory. It is not going to be in his own words.

The witness statement, as we all know it, will be drafted methodologically  by the lawyers. It will consist of some carefully chosen words, set out in nice paragraphs and excellent chronology. And so, the testimony of that witness, at the end of the day, could hardly be called as the absolute and truthful testimony of that witness.

Have we ever thought about all these issues? No. Because witness statements are a simple solution to the difficult and time consuming act of taking notes by the Courts.

Do we see the problems which are created by our so-called solutions? Probably not. Because on paper, the solution works and it saves a lot of time. Cases are disposed of speedily. And that is what that matters. Who cares about those little things? Who cares about conditioning of witnesses, character observations and the likes? Those are only thought of by people like Art Harun, the greedy lawyers whose sole preoccupation is to delay cases by taking up 93 cases a day.

The truth is certain procedures are tried and tested for hundreds of years. They are there for a reason. They are there as inbuilt mechanisms to ensure justice is not only done but also seen to be done. Of course we saw it fit to override such evidential procedures - which is an inalienable and essential part of the adversarial system which we practise - to overcome "delays" although such delays have got nothing to do with the procedures but rather the inefficiencies of our Courts. Not only we do that with impunity, we do such thing without even thinking about the real causes of the problems which we had wanted to solve. And by doing so we create a more serious problem which affects the integrity of the trial - and the decision making process - itself. All in the name of expedience and yes, speed.

May I ask the Chief Justice whether the core of the problems, namely, the inefficiency of the Court staff in taking notes has been solved by the introduction of audio recording and exchange of witness statements? The Chief Justice may think so. But with all due respect, it is not solved. The Court staff is still not able to take notes properly and timely. In fact, what is happening now - as pointed out above - the transcribing of the audio recording now has been pushed to the lawyers!

We have a case of the Court appearing to be fast when in fact what is happening is the passing of the proverbial buck to the lawyers! How convenient.

The Chief Justice can deny that most Judges are now driven by their need to satisfy their KPIs as much as he wants but in reality, that is more apparent than one would want to admit. What about these:

  • a lady lawyer had labour pains while arguing her appeal simply because the Registrar of that Court had refused to listen to her request not to fix the case during that period of time as she was expecting;
  • a lawyer fainted in Court because his medical certificate was ignored by the Court which insisted that he proceeded despite his illness;
  • an accused person landed in jail for failing to turn up in Court for a hearing just because the Court had unilaterally brought forward the hearing date without consultation with any party;
  • the Federal Court refusing to postpone a Constitutional case on the ground that the lead Counsel of one of the parties had to undergo cancer treatment;
  • the Federal Court had refused to entertain a Counsel's request to fix a hearing later than the date proposed by the Court in order to enable the Counsel to complete his cancer treatment.

In the last case above, the solicitors told the Court that on the date proposed by the Court, the senior Counsel was going to have his chemotherapy sessions. The solicitors than requested that the case be fixed about 2 or 3 weeks later than the date proposed by the Court.

The Court did not even consider that request and proceeded to fix the case for hearing on the proposed date, on which date the Counsel was to have his chemotherapy done! As a result, the senior Counsel and the solicitors discharged themselves from further acting in that case.

That case involves Constitutional issues which brings with it serious ramifications on the legality of laws. However, the Courts saw it fit to behave in such manner.

Needless to say, the approach taken by the Court in that case - and in the case involving the pregnant lady lawyer - was cold and almost godlike (I feel sinful to associate such action with god, actually, but you all know what I mean). It is in fact, inhuman!

The latest episode in this seemingly unending story of abject failure of justice is the  case involving the challenge mounted against the decision of  Teng Chang Khim, the Selangor State Assembly's speaker, to declare vacant a state seat due to the absence of the state representative.

Tommy Thosmas, Counsel for Teng, sent his junior to ask for postponement as he was engaged in Johor Bharu. In fact before the hearing in the Shah Alam Court, Tommy Thomas had written to the Court informing it of his predicament. The case in JB was fixed months ago and the date now clashed.

As expected, and similar to the approach taken by the Federal Court in the example above, the Court refused postponement and proceeded ex-parte (in the absence of Tommy Thomas).

How sad, especially when we consider the case involved, again, constitutional issues.

The Chief Justice is always quick to blame lawyers for, in his oft-repeated words, "taking too many cases." That statement is irresponsible, untrue and is reflective of the godlike behaviour preferred by Court officials and which is in vogue nowadays.

I have had my dates clash before and it was through none of my doing. I have a case fixed for hearing, say on 1st March 2011. However, I also have various applications, appeals and cases filed in Courts, waiting for hearing dates to be fixed. When the date is finally fixed, it was fixed on 1st March 2011.

IS IT MY FAULT? Have I taken on too many cases? My dates clash not because of me but because the Court has fixed the hearing of the later case on the same day as my other case! Is that too difficult to see?

As pointed above too, the Court would go on fixing a case for hearing even if I tell the Court that I am not free on that date or that I have a chemotherapy session on that date! So, really, IS THAT MY FAULT?

Did the Counsel in the above example ask god to give him cancer needing chemotherapy on the day fixed for hearing? Or did that lady lawyer ask to have labour pains on the hearing date? I am sure not. The least that the Court could do was to be human. Or is that too difficult?

There are also managing Judges who, upon being told that the lawyer is not free on a proposed hearing date, would ask the lawyer to "farm out the case" to other lawyers. Are we dealing with sheep and cows or are we dealing with legal cases involving millions of ringgits or some serious constitutional issues here? Why can't the Judge acknowledge that parties have a right to choose his preferred Counsel? What if the Counsel has taken a retainer fee for the case? Can he just scoot off just because the Court is not willing to fix the case on a date convenient to every party?

Fixing cases for hearing and deciding whether or not to postpone a case is within the discretion of the Court. But it is well settled that such discretion must be exercised judicially. Which means, the discretion must be exercised in accordance with well settled judicial principles and not willy nilly in a godlike manner.

However, it is disappointing to note that such discretion has appeared to be clipped and taken away by the current obsession with the need to speed up the disposal of cases.

With the impending legalisation of plea bargaining in our Courts, I could very well imagine justice being offered on a wholesale basis every morning in the Courts in exchange for a guilty plea. Mark my words.

As for justice, I just need to refer to this piece of judicial circus as proof that all is not well. A person who raped his own daughter not once, not twice, but ELEVEN times was given 2 year jail sentence and 1 stroke of the rotan. Another who broke into a house and stole a laptop on the other hand gets 4 years jail and 3 stroke of the rotan.

Oh, I suppose, the Chief Justice would say the second guy has lousy lawyers!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The One Dimensional Man

In Dear Mr Lee, I reproduced what Herbert Marcuse said in his work, The One Dimensional Man, namely, in a mass society, shaped and moulded by the State,

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

You all want to see an example? Watch this!

Warning: Do not watch this while driving. This was performed by professionals. Do not try this at home.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ops...he did it again!

Actually, after Tun DrM - my hero, I'd wanted to write something about Valentine's Day.

But since the mullahs have declared that Valentine's Day is a "sinful Christian vice", I think I'd better not write about that V Day, lest this blog be declared as a "sinful Art Harun's vice."

While on this topic, may I suggest that Muslim teenagers celebrate Saladin's Day on October the 2nd every year, to commemorate Saladin's recapture of Jerusalem in 1187. Perhaps on that day, we can all celebrate the love and humility of Saladin which he showed to the vanquished Christians. That would be tawdally halal I am sure. (I'd better patent this celebration soon, before some PAS mullahs steal it away).

Oh, while we are at it, why don't the mullahs also look at Istiadat Bersanding; Berinai; Mandi Bunga; Mandi Raja; Merenjis; Naik Tiang Pasak; Cium Keris; Membawa Cokmar ke dalam Parlimen; Batal Air Sembahyang in order to ascertain whether those adats are Islamic or whether they are relics of Hinduism. If they are the latter, then I suppose they are also haram. I don't know. I may be wrong.

Anyway, the topic today is not the V Day. It is on Tun DrM's recent confession that Operasi Lalang in 1987 was not his making. He also said that it was a decision of the police and that he was actually against it.

Malaysiakini, on 9th February 2011, reproduced some statements made by Tun DrM from a  book, 'Doctor M: Operation Malaysia - Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad' by Tom Plate. DrM allegedly said:

"Well, I would have handled it differently, except that the police wanted to do these things because they say it is necessary...
"I actually met all of the opposition members (beforehand) and assured them that they would not be arrested. And you know what the police did? They arrested them. My credibility is gone," he said.
"You must have been furious!" retorted Tom Plate, the interviewer and author of the book.
"Yeah, but what can I do? You see, I have to accept that they are the people on the ground that makes a decision. I give general authority to them," continued Mahathir, who was known as a strongman who brook little dissent.

A day later, Malaysiakini quoted Tun Hanif Omar, the Chief of Police at the relevant time as saying:

"You can't blame him. He is right. As a matter of fact, it was entirely the police's decision. It was not his (Mahathir's) decision. Mahathir was actually opposed to it... He was against Ops Lalang,".....
"It was not (Mahathir's) role nor was it his power. We were the ones responsible for it."

On his blog, The People's Parliament, Haris Ibrahim in a post titled "Who's lying now?" alluded to an event in 2004 where Anwar Ibrahim supposedly told Haris that he (Anwar) had gone to see Tun DrM on the eve of the clampdown to implore the Tun not to carry out the arrests. Tun DrM allegedly told Anwar that he (Anwar) knew nuts about national security.

So, Haris Ibrahim asked, who is lying?

Well, I wouldn't know the answer. I rememner Ops Lalang and the days before and after that Ops quite vividly. But who am I to know who ordered it.

However, I stumbled on what Tun DrM said on his blog, Che Det on September 28th, 2009. It is quite interesting.

The title to the blog entry was ISA. At paragraphs 6 and 7 of that post, something struck me. Allow me to reproduce them:

"6. At this point visitors to this blog are likely to say I did the same. I admit I did detain people under the ISA in the 1987 Ops Lalang. But it was not because they were members of the opposition. The police had informed me that there was likely to be racial clashes over the issue of Chinese education and the intention of some UMNO members to hold a million strong demonstration in K.L.

7. The people detained were not only members of the opposition but included UMNO members. As soon as the threat passed the detainees were all released. The issue was not political opposition to the Government but the threat to national security." (emphasis entirely mine).

So, who ordered Ops Lalang?

As most of you probably know, I don't dabble in speculations. I don't know the answer to that question.

An early Happy Saladin's Day to all of you.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tun DrM - my hero

In the last few weeks I have been entertained by two of my favourite people in the world.
Yes. Tun DrM and Lee Kuan Yew. Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison. The pot and the kettle. The men with the plan. The visionaries. The beacon of liberty, freedom, progress, development and oh yes, the Asian Values.
One calls the other, firstly, "little Emperor of a tiny Middle Kingdom." Then he downgraded the other - two days ago, to be exact - from being an Emperor to just a Mayor. The other one insinuated that his counterpart is delusional. And it goes on.
Nobody knows who is right or who is mightier.
One thing which I know for sure is this. Both were benevolent absolutists bent on achieving anything which they managed to conjure up in their respective warped mind regardless of the consequences of their respective acts. Both are old people who really should just stop churning out vitriolic and do some good instead, like by not saying anything about anything.
Latest by Tun DrM is a mind boggling pronouncement that Malaysia belongs to Malays and that the non-Malays just have to live with that fact by accepting the culture and language of the dominant community. He has reportedly said :
“This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu but this cannot be said because it will be considered racist.
“We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu,”  (The Malaysian Insider)
I am Malay. Tun DrM is my hero. Thank you very much Tun.
As dirty talks go, that must have outperformed Linda Lovelace and the whole Dallas team put together.
I do not know why some people are obsessed with the ownership of this country. It is as if this country is full of things which could be owned and are in fact owned. On my last count, Bahasa Melayu is owned by Malays. The word "Allah" is also owned by Malays (who by Constitutional definition is synonymous with   Muslims). There are also "special rights" which are owned by Malays. 30% of the economy are owned - well, actually, are supposed to be owned - by Malays.
In fact, I know of one specific Malay who is going around town owning everything and anything - mostly government projects and monopolised businesses -which are "ownable."
And now this. Malaysia is owned by Malays.
I am so glad to know that. Because the last time I went back to my kampung, I saw countless Malays riding old motorbikes, struggling to pay their water bills and school fees (who say our schools have no fees?), eating plain rice and ikan masin day in and day out, working in leased padi fields with just enough money to buy rice and ikan masin after paying their landlords for the padi field and the rentals for the tractors and harvesters.
Now I supposed, these poor Malays could go to the land office and claim this land, which has been declared as theirs.
Nice. The Malay problems are solved. Poverty among the Malays is solved. Declining standard of education is solved. Health care problem is solved. Inability to think is solved.
And with one sentence (or two), Tun DrM has managed to solve the issue which had been ghosting his mind since 1969. Yes folks. THE MALAY DILEMMA IS SOLVED.
Take that Minister (Senior) Lee Kuan Yew! What do you have to say about that huh? You surely have not solved the Chinese Dilemma, have you Minister Lee? In fact, you do not even have a Chinese Dilemma to begin with! How very inferior to Tun DrM you are.
I have written so much on the so called social contract and on how Malaysia gained her independence as well as the thoughts and rationale which went into the framing of some of the provisions of our Federal Constitution, especially article 153. I am not going to repeat them here.
I am not going to argue with Tun DrM anymore. Let's just assume - and it is really a very big assumption - that what he said is correct. Tanah Melayu belonged to the Malays. Let's just take that as the gospel (oh, I forget, I am Muslim, and so it should be the "Quranic") truth.
But is there a Tanah Melayu now? In 2011?
The truth is Tanah Melayu has disappeared from the face of the Earth at 12 midnight 31st August 1957, when Malaya, and later, Malaysia, was born. When the late Tunku Abdul Rahman was screaming "merdeka merdeka merdeka", Tanah Melayu achieved its independence and she morphed into this new state called Malaya, which later became Malaysia. All her citizens became Malayans, and later Malaysians. They may belong to different ethnicity, different race, different faith, different tribe speaking different language and dialect, but they all became Malayans that early morning.
This country belong not to Malays anymore that morning. This country belongs to Malaysians from that morning onwards.
If the Tun's favourite hypothesis of the social contract is correct, true and accurate - that there was a round table agreement between leaders of the three main races where the Malays have agreed to allow the non-Malays to become citizens in exchange for special rights - then by that same token, it means that the Malays, through that very social contract, have agreed to disclaim their ownership of Tanah Melayu in exchange for some special rights.
I am not making this up. I am saying this based on what Tun DrM has been saying all this while.
If ever there was such an agreement - as repetitiously blared by Tun DrM and his ilk -  that would be the natural and legal consequences of that agreement.
If that being so, on what basis, I wonder, is Tun DrM now founding his claim that Malaysia is owned by the Malays?
As for Lee Kuan Yew, you do not have the right to even speak about us, okay. You have not even identified the Chinese Dilemma yet. You little Mayor!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Gong Xi Fa Cai



Here's to wishing Gong Xi Fa Cai to all Chinese Malaysians and a happy holiday to everyone else.

May this year of the rabbit bring us the cure for all our discontents and  solution to all our problems. May it open up our heart to erase all the prejudices which blinker us in the past. May it bring peace to our restless soul and bring us wisdom to show us the right way.

May it bring us  goodness of the heavens and save us from the wrath of hell.

Enjoy and be safe.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Bonzo and the Raging Moon (Part 1)*

* Was first published at Navel Gazing on 6th October 2008. The 2nd part to this article never came, till now, and nobody knows when it will come, or whether it will come at all.

The date was September 24th, 1980. The place was The Old Hyde. He was picked up by the band's assistant, Rex King, that morning and was to be brought to the band's rehearsal at Bay Studios. It was a part of the band's preparation for an upcoming tour of the United States, the first US tour since 1977.

At that time, he had just overcome a heroin problem. He was taking a drug to treat his anxiety and depression. While on the way to the studios, he asked King to stop for breakfast. Legend has it that he downed 4 quadruple vodkas (which is of course equivalent to 16 vodkas!) and ate a ham roll. Taking a bite at the roll, he said to King, "Breakfast!"

When he arrived at the studios, he was obviously drunk. The band's singer remembered that he was "tired and disconsolate". He continued drinking throughout the rehearsal and the band later called off the rehearsal. He would tell the singer, "I don't want to do this. You play the drums and I'll sing."

After calling off the rehearsal, the band convened at the lead guitarist's house in Windsor. He drank some more double vodkas before he finally passed out at around midnight. The band members moved him to a spare room. The next day, in the afternoon, the bassist together with the band's tour manager, Benji LeFevre, went to wake him up. He never did. They found him dead. Apparently he had rolled over in his sleep, vomited into his lungs and choked to his death.

John Henry "Bonzo" Bonham. The drummer of Led Zeppelin. He was born on May 31st 1948. Found dead on September 25th 1980. He was 32.

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Apparently, when Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, who were then in the Yardbirds, flirted with the idea of forming a group with John Entwistle and himself as the drummer, he jokingly remarked, "it will probably go over like a lead zeppelin!" He was non other than Keith Moon, the drummer for the Who, a group consisting of Entwistle, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.

Keith John Moon was born on August 23rd, 1946. As a teenager, Moon was into surfing music, such as those which were popularised by the Beach Boys. He joined a surfing music band called the Beachcombers and became part of a club circuit to which, coincidentally, the Who also belonged. Moon's drumming style was unorthodox, to put it mildly. He was loud! He later realised that he was kind of out of sync in a band which emphasised tight-knit harmony. The fact that he could not sing well served only to exacerbate the situation. The band would ban him from singing although sometime, in the heat of the moment, he would instinctively joined the chorus to disastrous result. While performing "Behind Blue Eyes", which requires precise harmony, Moon would be sent offstage just in case he forget that he wasn't supposed to sing!

At the time he joined, the Who was known as the Detours. The band consisted of Townshend, Entwistle, Daltrey and Dougie Sandom as the drummer. The Detours later became the Who, the High Numbers and later, the Who again. Upon hearing that the Detours was having problems with Sandom and had later sacked him, Moon "laid plans to insinuate myself (himself) into the band", to borrow his own words. He went to the Oldfield, a pub where the Detours was playing, had several drinks and summoned up enough courage to go on the stage to tell Daltrey and gang that he could do better than the sessions drummer who was standing in for the night. The band told him to go ahead and play and he then played drums in one song, "The Road Runner".

In an interview with the Rolling Stones in 1972, Moon vividly recalled what happened. "I'd had several drinks to get me courage up, and when I got onstage I went arrrrrggGHHHHHHH on the drums, broke the base drum pedal and two skins and got off. I figured that was it, I was scared to death." While sitting at the bar later, Townshend came to ask him whether he was free the next Monday as there was to be a gig. He said he was and the rest, as they say, would be carved in stone and hung in Rock 'n' roll's historical archives. "And that was it. Nobody ever said, "You're in." They just said, "What're you doing Monday?", said Moon.

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Suddenly, there was no Zeppelin. Robert Plant said later, "the band didn't exist, the minute Bonzo died." The band was in a stupor. No statement. No news. No plan. The music and history were left unfinished. "It was so . . . final," Plant said. "I never even thought about the future of the band or music."

Finally on December the 4th, Atlantic Records issued a one-sentence press release: "we wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were." It was simply signed, "Led Zeppelin." The world lost a truly great band that day. A band which had managed to infuse super stardom with real talents and British white rock and the North American deep blues culture and music. A band which had managed to marry Plant's rasping voice with Page's emotive riffs backed by the towering musicianship of John Paul Jones and of course, the power, energy and anger of John Bonham on the drums.

Twelve years earlier, in 1968, Jimmy Page was in the Yardbirds with Jeff Beck on guitars. Beck's temper tantrums caused all the band members to leave the group in the middle of that year. Page assumed the band's name and he set out to find new members. His search for a singer brought him to Terry Reid, a former singer of the group Jaywalkers, which had then disbanded. Reid declined Page's invitation and suggested that Page check out Robert Plant instead.

Plant was from the English Midlands and was a singer who dabbled in American country-blues. While Keith Moon had a deep interest in surfing, Plant had a thing for Lord of the Rings, which explained his band's name, Hobbstweedle. Listening to Plant's rendition of Jefferson's Airplane's "Somebody To Love", Page immediately knew that his search had come to an end.

Meanwhile, John Paul Jones, a well known arranger for the likes of Donovan and the Rolling Stones, to name but a few, called up Page and asked to join even though that would mean he had to leave his lucrative cheques as an established and accomplished sessionist.

Bonham was then already known as the loudest drummer in Great Britain with a propensity to break drum heads. He was so loud so much so that he was often asked to leave studios and clubs. He was once asked to leave a studio in Birmingham for being too loud for the owner's liking and 10 years later, he sent a card to the owner which said "thanks for the career advice" accompanied by a Led Zep gold record! Throughout his early career, he once joined a band called Crawling King Snakes whose singer was non other than Robert Plant. The band broke up without an album. Later Plant formed Band of Joy and Bonham joined in as the drummer.

It was Plant who told Page to try out Bonham for the new Yardbirds. History was in the making. Page; Plant; Jones and Bonham came together for the first time in a room below a record store in London. They played "Train Kept-a Rollin", a song popularised by Johnny Burnette and given a new lease of life by the Yardbirds. "As soon as I heard John Bonham play," Jones told the drummer's biographer, Chris Welch, "I knew this was going to be great—somebody who knows what he's doing and swings like a bastard. We locked together as a team immediately." Plant has said that was the moment that he found the potential of what he could do with his voice, and also that it was the moment that defined the band: "Even though we were all steeped in blues and R&B, we found in that first hour and a half that we had our own identity."

With that the New Yardbirds was formed. Legend has it that Page later changed the name to Led Zeppelin in reference to the remark made by Moon earlier. Peter Grant, the band's manager, apparently took out the letter "a" from the word "lead" because he was worried that the Americans might pronounce it as "leed". And Led Zeppelin was born.

Rock 'n' roll was never going to be the same again. Ever!

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The Detours was changing its name to the Who at that time. The eighteen year old Moon brought a whole new dimension to the Who with a completely different drive from the rhythm section. Moon complimented Entwistle's bass drives and that gave a new sense of musicality to the Who's music. Pete Townshend later said, "From the time we found Keith it was a complete turning point. He was so assertive and confident. Before then we had just been foolin' about."

That was the start to a roller coaster world they called rock 'n' roll. Moon bashed up the skins so hard that the whole rock experience was going to take a rolling like never before. Initially, the Who was playing a lot of rock and blues, drawing inspiration from the likes of BB King, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. Moon said they would take up songs cover and they would "Who'd" them. "Summertime Blues" was one of the song which was being "Who'd".

He has an interesting story about Daltrey's stuttering "effect" in "My Generation" though. According to him, Townshend - he was the primary composer for the band - came to the studio with the song and gave it to Daltrey one day. Daltrey, who was not familiar with the lyrics stuttered and Kit Lambert, who was producing for them then, decided to leave the stuttering to see what happen. "When we realised what'd happened, it knocked us all sideways. And it happened simply because Roger couldn't read the words," said Moon.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Moon actually revolutionised the drums. He was the first to treat the drums as an equal to the guitars in a rock band. In fact, during the early days in the Who, Daltrey recalled that Moon had wanted to be placed in front during shows. Before Moon, drums were just a part of the rhythm section of any rock band but Moon changed that image and brought the drums to the front of the rock culture. In doing so, he inspired other drummers, among whom, was Bonham.

Daltrey says the energy in "I Can See For Miles" - in which Moon's accelerating drum rolls and cymbal smashes seemed to compete with, but perfectly complemented, guitarist Pete Townshend's power chords - " is just unbelievable... He sounds like a steam locomotive at full pelt. His speed is incredible." Moon combined a variety of styles and made very much his own thing out of the drums."

"Keith was the first to treat the drums as though they were a lead instrument..." Tony Fletcher, author of Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend, says. "He really made the drums an instrument that spoke very much in the same way that a lead guitar does."

Off stage though, Moon was just as explosive.

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After a brief visit to Copenhagen and Stockholm, the band was ensconced in the Olympics Studio for their first album. In November 1968, Grant visited New York and procured a contract with Atlantic Record. Atlantic made a modest announcement about the company having signed "the hot, new English group Led Zeppelin" and that it was "one of the most substantial deals Atlantic had ever made". It was indeed a substantial deal as Grant had procured a USD200000 advance for a band which was then unknown and whose album nobody had ever even heard of. A tour of the US was then in the offing.

Led Zep opened in Denver, Colorado on 26th December 1968 as the third act after Vanilla Fudge and Spirit and was promptly welcome in the usual US manner, namely, as a doormat! The promoter even deducted the cost of the backstage grub from the band's pay. Page had to operate the PA system himself and Bonham even had no mike for his set (which did not really matter as he was loud enough even without them). In Detroit, a newspaper ad announced the band's appearance as "Led Zeptlin"! It looked like Grant's worry over the word "lead" being mispronounced by the Americans was justified after all.

But that was not to last. Page recalled, "you could feel something was happening - first this row, then that row. It was like a tornado, and it went rolling across the country." By the end of 1969, Led Zep had toured through the country 4 times, each time to a bigger, sold out audiences. In Britain, they quickly followed Cream into the Royal Albert Hall, filling it in June 1969 and again, in January 1970. In that year too,the eponymous album, Led Zeppelin and followed by Led Zeppelin II, were released. Rock 'n' roll was changing its face and sound. The basic premise of hard rock was being redefined and the fundamentals of heavy metal were being laid.

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It was with Daltrey that Moon had his first clash, among many clashes, in the Who. Daltrey described the relationship among the band members in the early days of the band as a clash of egos. To him, Moon especially, did everything in excess. "He was the most generous, the most mean, he was the funniest... he could be the most unfunny, everything — the most loving, the most hateful... Everything about him was extreme," Daltrey says.

When asked by a reporter in 1965 about the flare-ups in the band, Moon innocently blurted out, "Yes, It's Roger, he hates me!" The reporter asked why and Keith replied, "Because I told him he can't sing. . . I don't like half our records and Roger is the reason."

Daltrey even knocked Moon out one day in the dressing room after a terrible performance. Apparently, Daltrey flushed out all of Moon's pills - Moon was taking pills for his alcoholism problems then - and Moon had wanted to beat him up for that. Moon was actually kicked out of the band for a while. He was brought back when Daltrey promised to be more peaceful with him.

By this time, Moon had a new love. He loved bashing up and breaking his drum sets. Finally Townshend would join him in destroying their respective instruments on stage. In America, during the Smothers Brothers show, he bribed a back stage hand to allow him to load explosives into his bass drum. At the conclusion of "My Generation" he blew up his kit and pieces flew everywhere. Moon got a piece of a cymbal embedded into his leg and Townshend temporarily lost his hearing. The guest on the show, Betty Davis, fainted into Mickey Rooney's arms.

Moon's and the band's appetite for destruction became stuffs of legends. Together they would wreak total havocs in every hotel they checked in which resulted in the band incurring loads of claims from the hotels. "It was fucking expensive. We were smashing up probably ten times if not more than we were earning. We've been going successfully for ten years, but we've only made money the last three. It took us five years to pay off three years, our most destructive period," Moon told Rolling Stones in 1972.

Trying to explain the band's knack for destroying hotel rooms, Moon said, "I get bored, you see. There was a time in Saskatoon, in Canada. It was another 'Oliday Inn, and I was bored. Now, when I get bored, I rebel. I said, "FUCK IT, FUCK THE LOT OF YA!" And I took out me 'atchet and chopped the 'otel room to bits. The television. The chairs. The dresser. The cupboard doors. The bed. The lot of it. Ah-ha-ha-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHA! It happens all the time."

The most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) of Moon's antic was of course the car-in-the-pool legend. Tony Fletcher said in the book that Moon had never driven a Rolls Royce into a swimming pool in his biography. Daltrey disagreed and said had it not happened, he must have been living in someone else's life. Both of them were only half correct.

It wasn't a Rolls Royce. And no, Moon wasn't driving.

They were in Holiday Inns, in Flint, Michigan when the record company booked a nice big hall to celebrate Moon's birthday. Moon was presented with a 5 tier cake. Soon the party generated into one big booze fest and everybody was dead stoned. They were all dancing with their pants off! Moon of course had to excel at this stage. He threw the whole cake onto the carpet and a slanging match ensued. When the hotel manager walked in, he noticed everybody was dancing without their pants and the carpet had all been stained with the cake and its icing. He called the sheriff. Moon was in his underpants when he saw the sheriff and he made a dash. He got into a brand new Lincoln Continental parked somewhere near and released the handbrake. As the car was on a slope, it just rolled down, smashed the swimming pool fencing and went down straight into the pool with Moon in it. He managed to escape.

He than ran into the hall again, streaming in water and still in his underpants! Moon recalled, "The first person I see is the sheriff, and he's got 'is 'and on 'is gun. Sod this! And I ran, I started to leg it out the door, and I slipped on a piece of marzipan and fell flat on me face and knocked out me tooth. Ah-ha-ha HA-HA-HAHAHA!" He later spent time at the dentist with the sheriff and also in jail the next day. The whole band was packed off in an airplane the next day and while boarding the plane, the sheriff apparently said, "Son, don't ever dock in Flint, Michigan, again," to which Moon said, "Dear boy, I wouldn't dream of it."

Moon's sense of humour - which was at times rather warped - was also well known. After forgetting an interview which was due to take place at 3pm one day, Moon phoned in to say sorry that the hospital had delayed him (when in fact he was at a pub!). He told the managers that a bus had actually run him over on Oxford Street. "I was just crossing Oxford Street and a Number Eight from Shepherd's Bush 'it me right up the arse and sent me spinning across Oxford Circus,", he told the managers.

He then asked his driver to bring plaster and bandages which he wrapped around his legs. An arm strap and a walking stick then completed the whole charade. He then made the managers and some assistants carry him down four flights of stairs down to the road. While being carried across the road, a truck almost hit all of them leading Moon to curse the driver, "you 'eartless bastard, can't you see this man's injured! 'Ave you no 'eart, 'ave you no soul, you bastard! Trying to run over a cripple!"

Telling the finale to the story with his usual humorous manners, Moon said, "We went on to the interview and in the middle, after about four brandies, I just ripped off all the plaster and jumped up on the seat and started dancing. Ah-HAHAHAHAH-ha-haHAHA! HAHA!"

In the mid-60s, Moon met Kim Kerigan (when she was only 16) and married her. They were blessed with a daughter, named Mandy. On this Moon recalled that Kim was a 16 year old girl who used to hang out at the club where he and the band used to play at, in Bournemouth. According to him, "Sometime later when I went down to see her, I was on a train and Rod Stewart was on the train. This was about ten years ago. We got chatting, and we went to the bar car. It was Rod "The Mod" Stewart in those glorious days, and he'd just been working with Long John Baldry. He was playing a lot of small discotheques and pubs, doing the sort of work we were doing. I said to Rod, "Where are you going?" He said, "Bournemouth." "So'm I," I said, "I'm going down there to see my chick." he said, "So'm I." So I showed Rod a picture of Kim and he said, "Yeah . . . that's 'er." HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

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"It was a series of dynamic crescendos, one right after the other ," Plant describing Led Zep's first American tour in 1968 and '69. "There was no room for letdown," added Plant. That just about encapsulated Led Zep's approach towards their music and was reflective of their aspirations to be the biggest rock band of the time. Led Zeppelin, the 1st album, was recorded in 30 hours - claimed Page - and Led Zeppelin 11 was recorded during off days in between shows in nearly a dozen different studios in the summer of '69. Considering the gems which could be found in both of the albums - the thunderous "Good Times Bad Times'; the ultimate journeyman-who-can't-be-at-one-place-and-with-one-gal-for-too-long- ballad "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"; the psychedelic "Dazed and Confused" in the 1st album alone - this must have been a band with superhuman powers and some talents!

Meanwhile, Bonham came into the forefront of rock drumming with his mastery of the grooves, sense of timing, rhythm and of course the sheer loudness of it all. The signature grooves in "Whole Lotta Love" and the sheer speed in the hard hitting "Immigrant Song" from the second album marked Bonham's entry into super stardom. He was not afraid to experiment either as he was the first known drummer to have included in his kit the congas, timpani, and drum synthesizers. He was also fast gaining a reputation for ecstatic drum solos with so much power, speed and variation.

Meanwhile, Plant was learning fast to exploit Page's masterful guitar riffs and chord movements with his voice. "I am not a guitarist as far as a technician goes - I just pick up and play it. Technique doesn't come into it. I deal in emotions'" explained Page. Such raw emotions shine in his crazed slashing outbursts in "Whole Lotta Love"; "Heartbreaker" and in one of the most emotive and heart wrenching rock and blues riffs ever to be recorded, in "Since I've Been Loving You" on Led Zeppelin 111. Plant was also adapting to Page's wailing and weeping on his guitars by exploring and adopting various vocal landscapes. "I had a long way to go with my voice then. But at the same time, the enthusiasm and spark of working with Jimmy's (Page's) guitar shows quite well," said Plant while explaining the obvious chemistry between the two. Amidst all these super virtuosos and abundance of masterful display of talents was the towering skills of the "Quiet One", John Paul Jones. Not unlike Richard Wright - the keyboardist of Pink Floyd - in character, disposition and musicianship, Jones was the backbone of the band, providing the solidity of craftsmanship, his quiet and almost intellectual demeanor providing the band a sense of stability. He was the element which had glued the band together. He provided sanity in a band which, in terms of hard rock 'n" roll life, was far from sane.

The album which would elevate Led Zep to rawkenroll God-like status soon came.


...to be continued...