Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PM Lee Hsien Loong Explains the Siblng "feud"


All eyes on the island republic,
Maju lah Singapura.
Undoubtedly, well-handled by PM Lee under such circumstances.



The Victorian Muslims of Britain

Here's an interesting article with names that I've come across in my readings. An eye-opener for some people, I am sure.
I've posted the full article minus the pictures. Click here to go there.
By Josef O'Shea
London, UK - When Londoners elected Sadiq Khan as mayor of their city, it sparked fresh debate about the place of Islam and Muslims in Britain.
Khan became one of the most popular Muslim politicians in Europe when he won 57 percent of the votes in London's mayoral election as his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, faced accusations of running a divisive campaign.
Today, Britain has a large and diverse Muslim population with just over 2.7 million Muslims living in England and Wales. 
In the late Victorian era, Britain presided over a vast empire in the East, which included millions of Muslims. When some of the most privileged sons and daughters of that empire embraced Islam, it was met less with hostility than mild curiosity and slight bemusement. 
In 1913, the Daily Mirror newspaper responded to Lord Headley's conversion in a story headlined "Irish peer turns to Islam".

"That the lure of Eastern religions is affecting an increasing number of Europeans, is again shown by the announcement that Lord Headley, an Irish peer, who spent many years in India, has become a convert to Islam," the article stated.
Like Headley, many of the early British converts to the religion were young aristocrats or the children of the mercantile elite. Some were explorers, intellectuals and high-ranking officials of empire who had worked and lived in Muslim lands under British colonial rule.
The stories of these converts, says Professor Humayun Ansari of Royal Holloway, University of London, reflect the turbulent times in which they lived, as well as the profound questions that were being raised about religion and the nature and origins of humanity. 
"There was the carnage and chaos of the First World War, the suffragette movement, the questioning of imperialism and the right of the British and other Western empires to rule over vast numbers of people," says Ansari. "In many ways, [those who converted] were living in a very troubled world. In Britain's wars in Sudan and Afghanistan, and later Europe, they saw terrible slaughter, with armies and governments on all sides claiming God was with them.
"They had experienced what they saw as the peace, the spirituality and simplicity of Islamic societies, and it appealed greatly to them," Ansari adds.
These stories point to an era when Islam could be seen in a far different light in the West than it often is today. These scholars, travellers and spiritual explorers could, in what were times of great upheaval and conflict, look to the East and see in the Islamic faith a religion which one convert, Lord Headley, characterised as being of "peace, brotherhood and universal values".
They may be figures of a now distant era. But their personal journeys and their quests to understand Islam and the East reveal how questions and conflicts we may see as unique to our times were, in fact, being raised over a century ago. 
Here are the stories of some of Britain's Victorian Muslims: 

William Quilliam (1856-1932)

One of the first high-profile converts was William (later Abdullah) Quilliam, the son of a prominent Methodist preacher and watch-making magnate in Liverpool. Born a Methodist in 1856, Quilliam converted to Islam in the early 1880s. He had travelled from his native England to Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria when he was 17, seeking a warmer climate to aid his recovery from an illness.
Quilliam became fascinated with the Islamic faith and immersed himself in studying it. He converted in Morocco, returned to Liverpool and began promoting the faith under his adopted name, Abdullah Quilliam. 
Still in his 20s and a qualified solicitor, Quilliam founded the first mosque in Britain, which opened on Christmas Day 1889 in Liverpool and, in 1894, he was named leader of Britain's Muslims by the last Ottoman caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Quilliam wrote books aimed at introducing the Islamic faith to British people, even sending a copy to Queen Victoria, who is reported to have enjoyed it and asked for several copies for her children.
Quilliam died in London in 1932 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, which has a large Muslim burial ground and is also the final resting place of other prominent Anglo-Muslims.

Lady Evelyn Cobbold (1867-1963) 

It was Lady Evelyn, later Zainab, Cobbold who was one of the last of the aristocratic Victorians to convert. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1867, the daughter of the 7th Earl of Dunmore, Lady Evelyn seemed equally at home in the fashionable salons of Mayfair and Paris as in remote camps in the Libyan Desert. She was a noted sportswoman, a deerstalker and a crack shot.
In 1933, at the age of 65, she announced her conversion and became the first Western woman to make the Hajj pilgrimage. She penned a bestselling book, Pilgrimage to Mecca, detailing her experience. 
When she died in 1963 at the age of 96, she left instructions that her gravestone, on a hill in remote Inverness in Scotland, bear the words: "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth." 
She spent much of her childhood in Algiers and Cairo, where she was raised with Muslim nannies, and later wrote about how she felt to be Muslim from as early as she could remember, but only decided to profess her faith during a personal audience with the Pope. She recounted the meeting in Pilgrimage To Mecca: 
"Some years went by, and I happened to be in Rome staying with some Italian friends when my host asked if I would like to visit the Pope. Of course, I was thrilled. When His Holiness suddenly addressed me, asking if I was a Catholic, I was taken aback for a moment and then replied that I was a Muslim. What possessed me I don't pretend to know, as I had not given a thought to Islam for many years. A match was lit, and I then and there determined to read up and study the faith."  

Rowland Allanson-Winn, 5th Baron Headley (1855-1935) 

Rowland Allanson-Winn, better known as Lord Headley, would have been the first Muslim to sit in the House of Lords had he taken the position due to him when he became the 5th Baron Headley in 1913. That same year, instead, he converted to Islam and became Shaikh Rahmatullah al-Farooq. One year later, in 1914, Lord Headley headed the British Muslim Society.
Born in London in 1855 and educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, Lord Headley had been brought up as a Protestant before studying Roman Catholicism while living on the family's ancestral estate in Ireland. An accomplished engineer, early pioneer of martial arts, traveller and journalist, the Anglo-Irish aristocrat was considered a Victorian Renaissance man. He first encountered Islam in Kashmir in the mid-1890s while working for the British Raj in India.
He came to see Islam as a religion of tolerance and studied the faith in England with his mentor, the prominent Indian lawyer and Islamic scholar Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, before World War I.
Lord Headley was, by all accounts, an eccentric. One contemporary profile published in Time Magazine described him as "a man of many parts, a champion middleweight boxer in his day at Cambridge, a distinguished globe-trotter, an editor and excellent raconteur".
He was also one of the earliest exponents of what we know today as martial arts. In 1890, Lord Headley co-wrote one of the earliest manuals on self-defence called Broad-sword and Singlestick, before going on to write one of the first modern guides to boxing.
He made the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 1923.
As he lay dying in England in June 1935, he scribbled a note to his son, his final request being that he be buried in an Islamic cemetery.

Marmaduke Pickthall (1875-1936)

Muhammed Marmaduke Pickthall was an English scholar, born to an Anglican clergyman. Before converting, Pickthall travelled widely, studying and working across India and the Middle East.
He was also a successful novelist, counting D H Lawrence, H G Wells and E M Forster among his admirers. He converted to Islam in 1917 and went on to publish a modern English translation of the Quran, which was later authorised by the famous Azhar University in Cairo and which remains a standard work to this day. When he published his translation, the Times Literary Supplement praised the work as "a great literary achievement". 
In the foreword to his translation, which he titled The Meanings of the Glorious Quran, Pickthall wrote: ... The Quran cannot be translated ....The book is here rendered almost literally and every effort has been made to choose befitting language. But the result is not the Glorious Quran, that inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy. It is only an attempt to present the meaning of the Quran and peradventure something of the charm in English. It can never take the place of the Quran in Arabic, nor is it meant to do so ...."
As a schoolboy at Harrow Public School, Pickthall was a classmate and friend of Winston Churchill. A gifted linguist, he mastered several languages, including Arabic, and came to see himself as no longer an Englishman, but a Muslim "of the East". 
He died in Cornwall in 1936 and was buried in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey, England. - Al Jazeera






Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lee & Lee & Lee

Well, well, well.
What's been happening in our southern neighbour?

I really don't know what to make of this family feud in the Lee family. Lee being Lee Kuan Yew - Singapore's ex PM & Senior Minister and father of sitting PM Hsien Loong.

Hate to get "involved" in other people's affairs. But hey, this is Singapore's PM & his siblings. The two siblings posted their 6-page statement on Facebook early this morning for all to see.

It is a public statement.

Washing dirty linen in public? Some people will say it's sibling rivalry. Some people will sum it up and say it's all about greed.

Whatever.  But it sure got my attention.

Titled "What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?", their angst is actually a long-running dispute over the demolition of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.


                                              Dr Lee Wei Ling & Lee Hsien Yang

It seems, Hsien Loong's younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang and sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling want it to be demolished as requested by their late father.

They've also accused their brother of of having a personal agenda that is driving his political ambitions and have drawn in Ho Ching, Hsien Loong's wife.

This morning Hsien Loong responded, expressing his disappointment and sadness over the statement that is "publicising private family matters".
"I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made. Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son.," said Mr Lee, in response to a six-page public statement issued by his siblings on Wednesday (June 14).
Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said in their statement that they had lost confidence in their brother, PM Lee.
Titled "What has happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?", their statement centres around the long-running dispute over the demolition of their father's house at 38 Oxley Road.
                                                             PM Lee Hsien Loong
In response, PM Lee said: "While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family. Since my father's passing in March 2015, as the eldest son I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents."
He said his siblings' statement "has hurt our father's legacy".
In their statement, Hsien Yang and Wei Ling said they felt closely monitored and fear the use of organs of state against them and Hsien Yang's wife, Suet Fern.
The situation is such that Hsien Yang felt compelled to leave Singapore "for the foreseeable future".
The two siblings allege, among others, that since their father's death on March 23, 2015, there have been changes in Singapore that do not reflect what the late Mr Lee stood for.
The two siblings are joint executors and trustees of the estate of the late Mr Lee.
In their statement, they reiterated their father's wish that the house be demolished upon his passing, and said Hsien Loong and his wife  had opposed this wish as "the preservation of the house would enhance his political capital".
The two siblings alleged that preserving the house would allow their brother "and his family to inherit a tangible monument to Lee Kuan Yew's authority".
The two siblings also alleged that "based on our interactions", PM Lee and his wife harbour political ambitions for their son, Hongyi.
Hsien Loong called this an "absurd claim" and denied that he had any such ambitions for his son.
 "I will do my utmost to continue to do right by my parents. At the same time, I will continue serving Singaporeans honestly and to the best of my ability. In particular that means upholding meritocracy, which is a fundamental value of our society."
The statement from the siblings came 1½ years after Dr Lee,  Hsien Yang, and PM Lee issued a joint statement in December 2015 saying the brothers had each agreed to donate half the value of 38 Oxley Road to charities named in their father's obituary notice.
Dr Lee and Hsien Yang had said they would like to honour their father's wish for the house to be demolished after Dr Lee ceases to live in it.
Hsien Loong had said he had recused himself from all government decisions involving the house and, in his personal capacity, would also like to see this wish honoured.
He ended his response: "As my siblings know, I am presently overseas on leave with my family. I will consider this matter further after I return this weekend."
This is it so far. But, you and I know that's not the end.
It's just the beginning.

Maju lah Singapura!


You Go, MACC!

You'd know by now that the Malaysian Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been pretty busy these past few months.

The latest is the Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) case. Not an easy one this case. 

The alleged improprieties that warranted MACC investigations aside, the damn case is all about boardroom tussle. That seems to be something everyone recognises.
What a shame that it has got to that.

Meanwhile, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki was quoted to have said that FGV"s two key figures may be called up to assist in investigations. They are FGV chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad and chief executive officer Datuk Zakaria Arshad .

He also said another 50 people would also be asked to assist.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razk has appointed Pemandu Associates CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala as an independent party to establish the facts of the case behind the FGV controversy.

Last Saturday, Najib said in appointing Idris said it was important for all parties to establish the facts of the case in the FGV boardroom tussle as that was the best way for them to seek a solution that would bring the company forward.

Felda chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad will be briefing Najib today on the issue.
Shahrir has expressed confidence that the issue could be resolved before Raya.

A real shame that this is happening to Felda - a rural resettlement agency that has grown into an economic powerhouse.
Back to MACC -- I say, you're doing a good job!



You Didn't Know About Volvo's Long History in Malaysia?


Hans, a writer of Carlist.my saw it fit to tell the Volvo Malaysian story in response to a 
a report by The Star on June 12, 2017 quoting Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Second Minister of International Trade and Industry as saying that locally-assembled Volvo cars will arrive in Malaysia by 2022, to be produced at Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant.

Ong also said that Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co (which owns Volvo Car as well as half of Proton Holdings) plans to make Malaysia as the Swedish car maker’s export hub for the ASEAN region.

Hans also mentioned another report by The Star that Volvo plans to use Malaysia as its base to penetrate the 620 million population ASEAN region in a big way.
The fact is, Hans, Volvo already has a sophisticated, export-capable plant in Malaysia, and Malaysia-assembled Volvos have been here since 1968. 
Buyaah! 
I am sure the younger generation of Malaysians are not aware of this. I'm surprised Ong doesn't know this.
Well here’s the problem: Volvo does have a sophisticated, export-capable plant in Malaysia, and Malaysia-assembled Volvos have been here since 1968. No need to wait until 2022 because Malaysia has been operating as Volvo’s regional hub for ASEAN since 2012.
Earlier this year, prior to Geely’s deal with Proton, Volvo Car Malaysia had already announced that its Malaysian plant will be expanding its export destinations to include Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and even Taiwan. This is on top of the company’s existing export operations to Thailand.
The oversight is quite embarrassing because the Swedes have long history of supporting Malaysia’s automotive industry.
Volvo was the first car company to establish a vehicle assembly plant in Malaysia and is one of the few brands that export finished vehicles from Malaysia.
Not only that, the plant in Malaysia was Volvo’s first outside of Sweden and until today, Malaysia is the only country outside of Sweden to assemble that XC90. Not just any XC90, but the most sophisticated plug-in hybrid variant that produces 407 PS of power - the Inscription trimmed XC90 T8 model! Not even Volvo plants in Belgium or China gets the honour!
Here’s a brief overview of the relationship between Volvo and Malaysia.
In the early ‘60s, Malaysia embarked on an ambitious plant to diversify its economic base to reduce the country’s reliance on agricultural produce, by establishing heavy industries. An important substitution policy was implemented and taxes were imposed on imported products.
At that time, our little country in South East Asia was only known for rubber trees, tin mining and little else. When we announced to the world that we want to establish a car industry, not many took us seriously but the egalitarian Swedes at Volvo were the first to raise their hands, and said that they will help us and teach us.
Volvo was the first car company to setup a vehicle assembly plant in Malaysia. Located in Shah Alam, the plant was then known as Swedish Motor Assemblies and the first Malaysia-assembled Volvo rolled off the plant in early 1968, a Volvo 144S sedan.
The British, Germans and Japanese came slightly later – Inchcape Motor’s Assembly Services plant opposite Volvo’s facility was setup in 1968. It assembled for several European brands before switching to produce Toyota vehicles exclusively.
The same year also saw Oriental Assemblers’ in Johor Bahru assembling Honda vehicles, before it was transferred to Honda Malaysia’s plant in Pegoh, Melaka in 2003.
By 1976, Nissan vehicles were being put together at the Tan Chong Motor Assemblies plant in Segambut. For a short period of time before Segambut plant was ready, Nissan vehicles were actually assembled in Swedish Motor Assemblies alongside Volvos.   
Back in 2012, Volvo Car was not in the best of health. The new generation of SPA platform 90-series and 60-series cars developed with Geely's money have yet to reach the market. Volvo had a plant in both Thailand and Malaysia and as their sales volume were very low, they had to choose to keep only one plant. In a very surprising move, the Swedes chose Malaysia over Thailand.
Today, the manufacturing facility is now known as Volvo Car Manufacturing (formerly known as Swedish Motor Assemblies). It’s a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sweden’s Volvo Car Group.
The plant might be very old but Volvo has invested RM20 million to upgrade the plant to accommodate Volvo’s latest SPA platform and plug-in hybrid technology. This does not include the investments made earlier. In 2013, it became the first car plant in Malaysia to introduce laser welding, for the V40.   
Currently, the plant produces the V40, S60, XC60 (outgoing generation), XC90. The S90 and V90 are currently imported but plans are underway to locally-assemble them later.
We hope the oversight, by a MITI minister nonetheless, will be overlooked by Volvo’s decision makers at Gothenburg and Hangzhou, because the rest of us Malaysians are truly grateful for Volvo’s contribution to Malaysia.
We should also point out that neither the Volvo Car Group nor its owner Zhejiang Geely has said anything about assembling Volvo vehicles at Proton's Tanjung Malim plant. These comments came only from the Malaysian government. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Celebrating Teachers of Today & Yesterday

My children love listening to yarns about my school days. They always listen in rapt attention when the topic of my school days crop up.

Sometimes I get the sense that they envy me. They tell me that it must have been such an exciting and stimulating and mostly fun time at school for me back then. It sure was. But I tell them that there was a lot of learning in case they think it's all a picnic.

For one thing --  the friends that I made back then are still in touch with me and we get to meet in our reunions..

My intimate knowledge of school in the 90s came about when my own kids started primary school.

I think it was a shock for me to see a different school environment, life as well as the syllabi of the subjects offered.
Have times changed, I thought.
Of course, everything was in Malay.
It meant that I wasn't able to help them with maths & science. And even the Bahasa Malaysia at standard 5 was incredibly complicated to me. I realised it was not about the proficiency of your BM but how you answered the questions. There seemed to be a format of some sort.
And then, Sports Day was so downplayed that it did not matter whether or not you participated in it. In fact, sports day was an internal affair. There were several years that I didn't know the school was having a sports day because parents were not invited.
The annual school concerts too. Tame  & generally lame. I know that in secondary school, the main item was the school choir performance.

How different it was in my time. But that is just my children's school. Other schools might have had less conservative principals ...

In secondary school (at least in my children's), English Literature was not offered because there was no teacher for that subject. So my children had to take external classes for it.

But, well, that is a story for another day.

For now, I shall rattle some names -  Mrs Wong, Mrs Podesta, Mrs Rahim, Mrs SH Tan and Mrs OK Chan.. These are my primary school class teachers. I know there's one whose name I cannot remember. And in this list, only one teacher I despised.  And we shall leave it at that.

Our school principals (Assunta Primary had 2 sessions) were Miss Chow and Sister Ellyn.  I remember Miss Chow as a dignified and an elegant person and was so in awe of her. She never taught me, though.
Sister Ellyn taught us music, I think.

In secondary school, there were Mrs Chng, Mrs Lau, Mrs Siva, Mrs Raj, Miss Thomas, Mrs Simmons, Cik Tek, Puan Siti Hawa, Mrs Thambyrajah, Mrs Wong & the ever fit PE (physical education) teacher Miss Sze Tho.

And of course, the larger than life -- Sister Enda Ryan, our secondary school principal.

In case you think they spoilt us silly -- no... they did not. They were firm as you can imagine a teacher should be. They were strict when they needed to be which was most times but I never remembered them as cruel or brutal or  whatever.

So, here's a BIG THANK YOU to them all...

I can't begin to tell you how fun school was those days. A lot of learning, a lot of playing, a lot of activities for our concert & sports as well extra-curricular.

I was active in sports and dance. Because it was "public knowledge" in school that I was a ballet student, I was always picked for dance performances for our sports day and annual concerts.

It shaped me monumentally.

Although I don't play any sports now, I am passionate about fitness. And of course,  no one can keep me away from dance & dancing.

I can talk endlessly about teachers of my time, in my school.  I'm sure there were horror stories that I never knew about. Today, you know of horror stories about school and teachers because there is the internet and social media.

But let me tell you there many more good and dedicated teachers.

I can go on and on ... so I'll stop here.

Let me just say - HAPPY TEACHERS' DAY.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

When Will This Sinister & Evil Exploitation of Children Stop?

Harian Metro has the story of two senior citizens - a husband and wife - arrested for suspected human trafficking - of children.
They allegedly used minors to sell stuff and collect money.

Here's the link -
http://www.hmetro.com.my/mutakhir/2017/05/227716/warga-emas-isteri-didakwa-eksploitasi-kanak-kanak

This is not something new. We all know and many of us have witnessed children going around commercial areas in residential estates selling calendars, religious books, ointments and the lot.

They all look like students wearing songbook and they will either tell you where they're from or show you proof of identity.

They go to restaurants that allow them in and go from table to table -- much like how the blind of "visually-challenged" men who are aided by healthy ladies in tudung do so selling packets of tissue paper.

There are also boys in baju Melayu who have set up permanent operating sites  - a table with a a donation box for orphanages, religious schools et al - outside banks .

These 2 senior citizens are not alone in their (alleged) crime. If it's true they're exploiting children, they're likely the less evil in this nefarious and sinister industry.

There are bigger crooks who have amassed wealth from their despicable exploitation of children. 


What do we do as a community?


Many Muslims are aware of this exploitation. Yet, they buy the items from these kids or make donations.


If this is all a scam, then this scam will continue and made to perpetuate because there's a market of "customers". 


This has been going on for more than 20 years. At least in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
Most of the boys say they are from Kedah.


Why has it been allowed to go on for this long?
Your guess is as good as mine. 


And why do people keep on buying items from these boys or make donations to their tabung?
Simple: Pity, compassion and a sense of humanity.
What if these boys are legit, they ask themselves.
And if they're not, punishment will come from Him.


For what they see before them, they give.

And this humanity is what is being exploited by the evil syndicate masters.


This has been allowed to go on for far to long. 
The longer this goes on, the more difficult it is to tackle.

It is whether you want to, or not.



Monday, February 20, 2017

A Malaysian in Trump's America


HERE I am in Trump country. That of President-elect Donald J Trump.
After today, he will be known as President Trump — rivaled by none of his predecessors in the way he had run his campaign.
But wait a minute. This is California. Southern California, to be exact, where a lot of people look like me.
e is “kinda rejected here”, said a tanned Californian in t-shirt and bermudas. Only in these parts do folks wear summer clothes in winter.
Winter is warm by temperate standards in this state.
This is my fifth visit here in the last two years since my daughter, Shaira Nur, enrolled at a university to continue her American Degree program.
When we first arrived here in January 2015, there was very little going on in the run-up to to the US  presidential election campaign.  There was, of course, the usual buzz, the nascent excitement. There was also not more than the regular hype when I returned in the summer of that year.
By winter last year, the gubernatorial and state legislative elections were going on. There was no spectre of Trump descending on American federal politics at that point.
Things were picking up when I was back home in Malaysia and by the time I was back in the summer, Trump had won the GOP presidency nomination in an election that was just so incredibly bruising to his fellow Republican candidates and Americans at large.
I was back home when he won the US presidency.
I had no interest in the man until his Republican presidential candidacy. I had watched how awful a person he was in the face-off with the other candidates. And his vilification of minority groups and immigrants. Man, was he a mean SOB.
It worsened during his “Make America Great Again” election campaign which was decidedly hateful, racially inflammatory and divisive. By this time, I despaired. How did this maniacal, out-of-control and horrid guy make it this far? It didn’t help that  the majority of his supporters seemed to be white Americans – disenfranchised, angry, bitter, racist, bigoted and all that is ugly.
Worse when Muslims, immigrants, people of colour and other minority groups were targets of violent acts by right-wing Americans claiming to be his supporters.
I despaired because I saw America going back to those dark times of racism and bigotry. Regressing and retrogressing big time. I wondered what was wrong with America? Hasn’t history taught them anything? Weren’t they supposed to have come a long way?
Of course, it should not matter as, hey, it’s America’s problem. But I have a daughter studying here. She is Muslim and a foreigner – two things Trump had inspired Americans to hate in his campaign. And I am a regular visitor by now. Will I be stopped at Immigration the next time?
However, as it turned out, not everything was despairing because not everyone was happy with the outcome. America was in shock as many were in disbelief. His victory had sparked protests across the nation. Among them were by students of California State University Fullerton (CSUF) where my daughter is enrolled.
Also, California is a blue state and happily Democrat.
You don’t have to be an American to know that there had never been an election quite like the 2016 presidential election. I have good memories of President Barack Obama’s unprecedented, ground-breaking and historic election into office. It was to be celebrated. The euphoria was contagious.
So today will be the 58th inauguration of Trump and Michael R Pence as president and vice president respectively. On record as the most controversial inauguration in American history
The President-elect and Flotus-to-be, Melania are already in Washington DC. Celebration has started.
These last few weeks, the buzz has been about the inauguration or rather, the planned mammoth protests against the inauguration and, more significantly the boycott by nearly 60 House Democrats.
Some of the Democrat lawmakers had decided much earlier to not attend the inauguration as a message of protest against Trump’s politics of hate and divisiveness.
But what got the number ballooning was Trump’s insulting and what was deemed as an utterly disrespectful response on Twitter to a statement by America’s deeply respected civil rights icon, Atlanta congressman John Lewis.
Lewis, had told NBC in an interview that he was not attending the inauguration as he saw Trump’s presidency to be illegitimate.
The Democrat from Georgia reasoned that Russian interference helped get Trump elected and destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
In his typical style, the President-elect responded: “Congressman Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.”
“All talk, talk talk – no action, no results. Sad” he tweeted.
John Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders, is famously known for his participation in the 1965 march in Selma, Alabama where he was beaten by police. That day is remembered as “Bloody Sunday”.
Trump’s response riled up so many House Democrats who decided to join the boycott of  the inauguration ceremony. Many expressed their disgust and dismay on Twitter.
Many felt it was so wrong particularly as his attacks were on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr Day.
Judy Chu, Representative of Pasadena, California’s  27th District in the US,  made this point clear when she was interviewed on ABC about her decision.
In her statement that she issued on Twitter earlier, she said her decision to not attend was not made lightly. It was taken after much thought.
“While I do not question the legitimacy of Mr Trump’s election, I do object to his treatment of other Americans, particularly those who disagree with him. In a diverse democracy like ours, patriotic dissent is vital. That is why the values of pluralism, grievance, and criticism are enshrined in the 1st Amendment’s protections of religion, speech and press – all three of which have been targets of the President-elect.”
Chu said Trump’s personal attacks on Lewis were “just the latest example of behaviour unbefitting a president”.
“I, like millions of other Americans , will choose not to attend the inauguration of President Trump. Instead, I will continue to focus on my efforts to ensure a more just and equal country for ourselves and future generations of all Americans – regardless of race, religion. ethnicity or orientation”.
Many of the House Democrats boycotting the inauguration said that they accept Trump’s election and his presidency.
But, they are not celebrating it.
And that, to me, is a decent explanation.
Today President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will witness his successor sworn into office on the West Front of the State Capitol.
The new 45th Potus has promised everyone there a fantastic time.
So. here I am back in Trump country.
But thankfully in an overwhelmingly blue State where a lot of people look like me and where many do not accept Trump’s presidency. And where the winter is warm like a cool summer.
(For The Mole - Friday Jan 20 2017)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Australian tax authorities bully Malaysian Timber Tycoon. He Sues Aussie Government

Well, I'll be, mate!
Here's an interesting story. Scary too.
Thick twice, nay, many times, before buying property in Australia. There are some nasty Aussies there.

A Sarawakian timber tycoon is suing the Australian government over their decision to force him to pay taxes amounting to AUD50m.
Daylight robbery and bullying a Malaysian, I say.
Read Rocky's Bru take:

Seeking justice in Malaysia. Wikipedia insists that kangaroo courts did not have its origins in Australia, where kangaroos come from. If that's baffling to me I can't imagine what Sarawak-born Malaysian businessman Hii Yii Ann might be thinking. Hii, 56, is fighting a decision by the Australian courts about his tax residency status that could rob him of AUD50 million!

Hii, a Malaysian passport holder who has never applied to be an Australian resident, says he's submitted to the Australian authorities documented proof that he is a Malaysian taxpayer and has never lived anywhere near long enough in Australia to be deemed the country's "tax resident". Yet, the Australian court deemed that he had denounced his Malaysian tax residency status and, therefore, owed whatever he had earned to the Australian Tax Office.

The rest of the posting HERE

Here's is The Mole report by  Zaidi Azmi
KUALA LUMPUR – November 15, 2016: A Malaysian timber tycoon is suing the Australian government for tax assessment amounting to millions of dollars in relation to income earned outside of the country.
Sarawak-born businessman Hii Yii An got into a tangle with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) after the latter changed his tax residency status to that of the country in December 2013.
This consequently led to Hii being accused of tax evasion totalling AUD$49, 774, 128.20 for the assessment years of 2001 to 2009.
Hii’s lead counsel, Datuk Alvin John, maintained that his client had never abandoned his Malaysian domicile, adding that Hii had been declaring his tax deductions throughout the said years.
“The ATO should have contacted Malaysian authorities before imposing the decision on him,” said John.
He further argued that the ATO had imposed extra-territorial jurisdiction on his client and that Australian taxation laws thus cannot be applied to Hii.
Australian law says that any person who lives in Australia for over six months or has chosen the country as his home needs to pay world tax (based on earnings outside the country).
“But he has never continuously lived that long in Australia,” said John, adding that Hii only makes short visits to Australia to see his children and check on his investments.
On why Hii decided to bring the matter to a Malaysian court, John explained that matters concerning Hii’s domicile can only be determined by the Malaysian government.
“In its defence, the Australian government is  invoking a sovereign state immunity but this immunity is not absolute.
“When you falsely claim revenue from a foreign citizen, that citizen has the right of recourse and can initiate legal action either at the international level or in his home country,” said John.
However, if the Australian government refuses to accept a ruling favourable to Hii, Alvin pledged to take the case to the International Court of Justice.
The other defendants are the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the ATO.
Today’s case management was before deputy registrar Noorasyikin Sahat. The next will be on December 6.

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Farewell, America"

This is an article  from Moyers & Company
By Neal Gabler
America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it. As I surveyed the ruin of that country this gray Wednesday morning, I found weary consolation in W.H. Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939, which concludes:
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”

I hunt for that affirming flame.
This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bWe all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.
If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.
This country has survived a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more or less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.
The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. They have regarded any Democratic president as illegitimate. They have proudly boasted of preventing popularly elected Democrats from effecting policy and have asserted that only Republicans have the right to determine the nation’s course. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.
Democracy can’t cope with extremism. Only violence and time can defeat it. The first is unacceptable, the second takes too long. Though Trump is an extremist, I have a feeling that he will be a very popular president and one likely to be re-elected by a substantial margin, no matter what he does or fails to do. That’s because ever since the days of Ronald Reagan, rhetoric has obviated action, speechifying has superseded governing.
Trump was absolutely correct when he bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care. It was a dictator’s ugly vaunt, but one that recognized this election never was about policy or economics or the “right path/wrong path,” or even values. It was about venting. So long as Trump vented their grievances, his all-white supporters didn’t care about anything else. He is smart enough to know that won’t change in the presidency. In fact, it is only likely to intensify. White America, Trump’s America, just wants to hear its anger bellowed. This is one time when the Bully Pulpit will be literal.
The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.
Just as Trump has shredded our values, our nation and our democracy, he has shredded the media. In this, as in his politics, he is only the latest avatar of a process that began long before his candidacy. Just as the sainted Ronald Reagan created an unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor that the Republicans would later exploit against Democrats, conservatives delegitimized mainstream journalism so that they could fill the vacuum.
Retiring conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes complained that after years of bashing from the right wing, the mainstream media no longer could perform their function as reporters, observers, fact dispensers, and even truth tellers, and he said we needed them. Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood that they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality. They have done so, and in so doing effectively destroyed the very idea of objectivity. Trump can lie constantly only because white America has accepted an Orwellian sense of truth — the truth pulled inside out.
With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public’s contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.
With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.
What’s more, Trump already has promised to take his war on the press into courtrooms and the halls of Congress. He wants to loosen libel protections, and he has threatened Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos of Amazon with an antitrust suit. Individual journalists have reason to fear him as well. He has already singled out NBC’s Katy Tur, perhaps the best of the television reporters, so that she needed the Secret Service to escort her from one of his rallies. Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump have been subjected to vicious anti-Semitism and intimidation from the alt-right. For the press, this is likely to be the new normal in an America in which white supremacists, neo-Nazi militias, racists, sexists, homophobes and anti-Semites have been legitimized by a new president who “says what I’m thinking.” It will be open season.
This converts the media from reporters to targets, and they have little recourse. Still, if anyone points the way forward, it may be New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks is no paragon. He always had seemed to willfully neglect modern Republicanism’s incipient fascism (now no longer incipient), and he was an apologist for conservative self-enrichment and bigotry. But this campaign season, Brooks pretty much dispensed with politics. He seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that no good could possibly come of any of this and retreated into spirituality. What Brooks promoted were values of mutual respect, a bolder sense of civic engagement, an emphasis on community and neighborhood, and overall a belief in trickle-up decency rather than trickle-down economics. He is not hopeful, but he hasn’t lost all hope.
For those of us now languishing in despair, this may be a prescription for rejuvenation. We have lost the country, but by refocusing, we may have gained our own little patch of the world and, more granularly, our own family. For journalists, Brooks may show how political reporting, which, as I said, is likely to be irrelevant in the Trump age, might yield to a broader moral context in which one considers the effect that policy, strategy and governance have not only on our physical and economic well-being but also on our spiritual well-being. In a society that is likely to be fractious and odious, we need a national conversation on values. The media could help start it.
But the disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.
We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.