Friday, November 28, 2008

Military Aircraft To Fly Back Stranded Malaysians

From Bernama:

The Malaysian embassy in Bangkok is arranging a special military flight to carry Malaysians stranded in Bangkok following the closure of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports in the capital by anti-government protesters since Monday.

An embassy official said that since the seats are limited on this flight, those who can afford commercial flights are advised to fly with them.

"For the special military flight, all Malaysians in need are advised to call the embassy's hotline number for the latest information and coordination. We will inform soon on the departure of the military aircraft ," he said.

In view of the uncertainty in Bangkok, the embassy has opened a round-the-clock operations room. The numbers to contacted are (+66) 2629 6808 or (+66) 2629 6800 ext. 4106.

The official said those with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) tickets should contact the airline as it would operate a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Utapao, near Pattaya, on Friday to bring back hundreds of its passengers stranded in Bangkok.

MAS area manager for Thailand A. Vijayakumaran said two more flights would be operated on Saturday, using the Airbus aircraft wit h passenger capacity for 290 people, compared with the normal capacity of 144.

Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation has agreed to allow airlines to use the airport, which is located about 140km from Bangkok, following the closure of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports.

Vijayakumaran said the MH782 flight on Friday would leave Kuala Lumpur at 3.15pm and arrive here at 16.20pm (Thai time), before the return MH783 departs at 5.10pm and lands in KLIA at 8.15pm.

On Saturday, MAS will operate two flights, starting with MH784 at 9.10am and arriving here at 10.15am (Thai time) and departing (MH785) Utapao at 11.10am.

The second flight (MH788) will depart KLIA at 12.25pm and arrive at 1.30pm while the return flight (MH789) is scheduled to leave at 2.15pm (Thai time) and arrive at KLIA at 5.25pm.

For enquiries, passengers can call MAS office in Bangkok at (+66) 2263 0572 or (+66) 2263 0565 up to 71 (hunting line), as well as MAS' 24-hour Call Centre at 1 300 88 3000 in Malaysia.

Karpal Demands Nazri's Resignation

DAP chairman Karpal Singh has demanded the resignation of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz for misleading the Dewan Rakyat and the people.

He said Nazri had maintained that information on the pension received by the judges sacked during the 1988 crisis had never been disclosed to the public.

"It is indeed difficult to comprehend how Nazri could say that the provision for the pension to these judges was not privy to the public and that for 20 years, no one knew that pension had been paid," he said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (Thursday).

He said the The Star on Oct 7, 1988 had quoted the report of the five-member judicial tribunal which among others stated that the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong had consented for two of the three judges to be given pension.

The two judges were Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh and Datuk George Seah.

Tun Salleh Abbas was tried separately. Three other judges -- Tan Sri Mohamed Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh -- had been reinstated.

The 140-page tribunal report was made public by the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman on the order of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

On Nov 6, Nazri said in the Dewan Rakyat that all six judges were not sacked but advised to take early retirement. He later admitted that that was not the case as upon checks, he knew they were given pension on the basis of compassion.


MIC Welcomes Pak Lah's Yoga Statement

MIC has welcomed and thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for his statement on the yoga ruling by the National Fatwa Council.

MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said Abdullah's statement was an explanation acceptable to all parties.

"I hope with the explanation, there will no longer be disagreements or conflicting statements on yoga practice," he said in a statement here Thursday.

He said MIC considered the prime minister's explanation as sufficient and the issue should not be prolonged.

On Saturday, the National Fatwa Council ruled that systematic yoga was haram (forbidden in Islam) as it involved chanting of mantra and acts of worship which are against Islamic teachings.

On Wednesday, Abdullah said Muslims who performed yoga exercise with no elements of worship could continue and the non-Muslims should not feel hurt or slighted by the fatwa as it was only applicable to Muslims.

(Source: Bernama)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And Closer To Home In Bangkok...

A friend's husband on a working visit to Bangkok was not able to come home. I think, given another occasion, another circumstance, my friend would not take too kindly to such sudden change in return-home plan. I imagine she'd fly to Bangkok on the next available flight just to be sure he's telling the truth.

But she's been keeping up with the news in Bangkok and had been so worried. In fact, it did occur to her that the situation in Bangkok might worsen.

Already , the besieged Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has declared a state of emergency at Bangkok's two commercial airports amid rumours that the army was plotting a coup to end mass protests that have left thousands of travelers stranded for two straight days.

The army has staged 18 coups in Thailand's history, the most recent in 2006 when it toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Somchai's brother-in-law.

Man, don't we smell a coup?

*Coup or no coup, and circumstances aside, another friend remarked, with a mischievous wink: "Of all places to be holed up...Bangkok!"

Mumbai Siege

Just a week ago, a close friend invited us to visit Mumbai.

"The place is really coming up...", he enthused.

We were not keen on Mumbai. Delhi is "nicer", we said.
Now, we really really are not keen on Mumbai. Such terrible news about Mumbai. More than 100 people are dead and injured after the city was attacked. It is carnage there. Dozens are still held hostage.
An extremist group has claimed responsibility.

It's horrid enough knowing what happened. I hope there are no one I know among the dead and injured.

Here's the latest:

Indian commandos freed hostages from Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel today but faced continued resistance in other parts of the city from Islamist militants still holding dozens of hostages and demanding the release of extremists held in Indian jails.

The commandos stormed two buildings in the late afternoon, seizing the lobby of the Oberoi hotel and taking positions around a tower block where a number of militants were believed to be holed up. Indian television reported that a number of people had been freed from the Oberoi.

The gunmen arrived in India's financial capital by boat last night before fanning out to launch an audacious series of attacks on luxury hotels, restaurants, a rail terminus and an ultra-orthodox Jewish centre, killing more than 100 people. (source: The Guardian).

Assalamualaikum, This Is Mikaeel.....

Otherwise known as Michael Jackson, American pop star.

Here's from a foreign online news:

According to The Sun, the 50-year-old singer converted to Islam at a friend’s mansion in Los Angeles.

The report said that Jackson pledged his allegiance to the Holy Quran at a small ceremony. Jackson, wearing a small hat, sat on the floor after an Imam was summoned to officiate at the conversion ceremony.

Jackson decided to adopt Islam while recording a song at the home of his friend, where a Jehovah’s witness was summoned to help him through the ceremony.

The pop star was reportedly convinced by his producer and songwriter friends David Wharnsby and Phillip Bubal to convert to Islam.

A close source revealed, "They began talking to him about their beliefs and how they thought they had become better people after they converted.

Michael soon began warming to the idea. An Imam was summoned from a mosque and Michael went through the Shahada, which is the Muslim declaration of Islamic belief.” Jackson changed his religion days before he was due to appear at the London High Court where he has been sued by an Arab Sheikh.

The singer, who mostly ventures out with a mask, is due to give evidence on Monday in a GBP 4.7 million lawsuit filed by Prince Abdulla Al-Khalif of Bahrain for defaulting on an exclusive recording contract.

Well...his brother, Germaine converted to Islam some time ago.

And Michael has chosen the name of one of God's angels.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Now I Can Do Yoga.....

I'm almost a fitness fanatic. Aerobics, Qi Gong, Pilates, jogging, Zumba, gym work-out. belly-dancing, hip-hop, salsa -- done them all and am still doing some.

Now Yoga....I have always been interested in this form of exercise but never ever got around to registering in any Yoga class. So many people have encouraged me to do Yoga for its physical benefits.
There are many Yoga centres and I never tire of finding out one that is suitable for me....

Years ago in the 70s, I followed a TV programme on Yoga. I'd follow the exercises and enjoyed doing them because they were so soothing and gentle yet helped firmed up the body.

When I closed my eyes, it was just to rest my body. To calm down my senses.

I have several books on Yoga. Some were given to me as gifts. Some I bought. I am aware of the origins of Yoga and the meditative and spiritual elements, though I am no expert.

I have always believed that there is nothing "haram" with the physical element of Yoga. Frankly, I am sure it is the same with other Muslims. I was (and still am) aware of the un-Islamic elements of Yoga. I am sure other Muslims must be too. I believe that Muslims who do Yoga, exclude these elements.

So, now that the National Fatwa Council has confirmed my own belief about the physical element of Yoga, I am pleased that I can do Yoga without any doubt or skepticism. I had none, in the first place. But I feel vindicated.

My concern is that if and when the respective State Islamic councils decide to adopt the "fatwa' (edict), some overzealous and unthinking officers will start a "crackdown" of Yoga centres and round up Muslims.

That will be really crappy and I fervently hope that it will not happen. Still, I am pre-empting any such decision -- I firmly protest any such crackdown.

When the fatwa council announced that it was going to issue a fatwa on Yoga, I must admit that I was one of those who thought the whole issue was laughable. Also insulting to me as a Muslim. Am I that weak or stupid to go astray, or what?

And after Yoga, what next, I thought.

I thought it was unnecessary because I was firm in my own belief about Yoga. So I dismissed the council's action as trivial. You know, making a mountain of a molehill.

In a way, I am glad now that the council has confirmed that it is okay to do Yoga -- minus the spiritual elements, of course.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"My Word Is My Honour...."

Those were words uttered by Wanita Umno vice chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to the media after the wing's June leadership transition plan was announced in August.

She had repeatedly given the assurance that she would not challenge Rafidah Aziz for the leadership. She would also not accept any nominations to contest the post.

"What happened to this?, " Wanita Umno chief Rafidah Aziz seemed to be asking today.

Yesterday, Shahrizat who obtained 73 nominations, ended speculations when she announced in a two-paragraphed Press statement that she will be challenging her boss e in March.

Rafidah issued an 11-paged statement explaining the situation. She also expressed her disappointment that the transition plan was being disputed and rejected three months after she made the announcement.

She said she appreciated and respected the nominations she received from 117 divisions.

"Ever since I made the announcement, none among the executive council members, or those outside, has questioned it.

"In fact, Datuk Seri Shahrizat herself, either during four-eye meetings, in executive council (meetings), and in news conferences, has repeatedly affirmed that she will not contest the post even if she is nominated, that she will abide by the transition plan, that she will abide by the advice of top party leaders.

"In fact, she said, she would keep her words, that "my word is my honour'. All these have been reported in the media," she said.

Rafidah also said that she had no reason to believe that there would be turmoil after the completion of the nomination process.

Read the rest of the Bernama report HERE.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rafidah Will Defend Her Post...

The writing was on the wall.

Last week when Wanita Umno vice-president Shahrizat Abdul Jalil called for the wing's leadership transition plan to be brought forward from June to March, it was clear that all was not well at the top (of Wanita Umno).

The transition plan was agreed to by the Wanita exco in August.

As expected, this afternoon Shahrizat announced her decision to challenge Rafidah for the number one post.

Rafidah told 3540 Jalan Sudin today that she will be defending her post.

"It is not a question of whether or not I am accepting the challenge....there is a challenge and I will have to defend my post.

"We will meet di gelanggang in March," she said.

Rafidah said she was shocked by Shahrizat's "about-turn" because Shahrizat had given assurances to her, the Wanita exco and to the public that she had no intention of contesting the top post.

The transition plan was to ensure a smooth transfer of leadership in June.

Shahrizat's decision has now upset this plan. Also, Wanita Exco member Kamilia Ibrahim has announced her decision to contest the vice-chief post.

Looks like she has won the post uncontested.
Asked about criticisms that the plan was neither provided in the Umno constitution, nor was it an Umno practice, Rafidah said that was inconsequential.

"Just because it is not in the party constitution or not an Umno practice does not mean that it cannot be done. The point is, we all agreed to it."

On concerns that handing power to Shahrizat in June, three months after the party elections would render Shahrizat just an "acting chief", Rafidah said she had reassured Shahrizat that "if you are the leader, you are the leader, acting or not."

In other words, being an acting chief does not have a bearing on one's leadership.

Rafidah said (the late Tun) Hussein Onn was acting Umno president for more than one year.

Rafidah's supporters have questioned Shahrizat's late decision, accusing her of denying other very able and capable leaders from contesting.

"Why didn't she oppose the plan from the beginning? What kind of leader is this? She said repeatedly that her word is her honour.....why this?" a Wanita leader asked.

Shahrizat's supporters have hinted that Rafidah was selfish and was leaving Shahrizat with little choice but to contest.

The Wanita chief said that she had explained to the exco that she needed six months to strengthen not just the wing but the Barisan Nasional Wanita machinery.

"After that, I will step down. I have already explained. It was accepted".

Rafidah said BN lost five states and she needed to help lay the groundwork for the next general election.

"You know I have nothing to lose," she remarked, adding that she had been looking forward to retiring from active party politics.

The former International Trade and Industry Minister is Kuala Kangsar Member of Parliament. She holds no Cabinet post currently.

Shahrizat lost her Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat to Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Nurul Izzah Anwar in the last election. She was made Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for Women and Social Development Affairs.

Asked if she would hand over the leadership to Shahrizat in June if she wins in the March elections, Rafidah said:"If I win, then I will have to lead the wing for another three years."

Well, there goes the Iron Lady's retirement plans....

Read the Star on Shahrizat's decision to contest....HERE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heated And Hot In Wanita Umno (Part 2).

Wanita Umno chief Rafidah Aziz will face her number two, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, in what will certainly be a keen fight for the wing's top post in the upcoming party elections.

Barring unforeseen circumstances --like "slow talk" from the top -- the contest will take place.

Shahrizat has not announced her decision to contest and is expected to do so tomorrow.

Given recent developments -- some say undercurrents -- in the wing, Rafidah had most probably expected Shahrizat's decision to challenge her.

Original leadership transition plans went awry after Aidilfitri.

Key to the turn of events was the announcement by Wanita Umno exco member Kamilia Ibrahim to challenge Shahrizat for the vice post. The lady cannot be talked out of contesting.

Whether this was all part of Shahrizat's strategy to pressure Rafidah to step down ahead of the planned June transition is still being talked about among supporters of both leaders.

Obviously, Rafidah is not daunted. Nor intimidated. She will defend her post.

Her detractors have pooh-poohed the June transition plan saying that the party constitution does not provide for it. Besides, it is not an Umno practice.
They also say that she should not be biding her time and, well, why wait for June.
It is time for her to hand over the leadership to Shahrizat.

Stepping down in June after the party elections in March would leave Shahrizat as just an acting chief until the next party elections.That's not fair, they holler.

Rafidah is aware of this concern.

So why was the June transition plan agreed to, in the first place? Why did Shahrizat not say much earlier that she wanted to go for the number one?

Shahrizat's supporters said that it was never her intention to challenge Rafidah but she "tersepit" because of Kamilia's steadfastness to go for her post.

Really, Rafidah has nothing to lose here. She is going to step down anyway. If she wins -- well, that's endorsement and validation from members. She'll be stronger, that's for sure.

For Shahrizat -- she has to win. It's a do or die.

And Kamilia? Congratulations should be in order for her. She's the "winner", any which way you look at it.

This turn of events in Wanita has saddened the Umno president who will be meeting Rafidah and Shahrizat to "resolve" the situation.

Pak Lah believes that a contest for Wanita's top post will split the wing. Will it?

Some people disagree. Contests are good because it produces strong leaders who are endorsed by members.

I don't know what Pak Lah has in mind, or how he is going to persuade Rafidah and Shahrizat to come to an agreement/compromise to avert a contest. I wish him well.

Chances are that the show will go on.

You may want to read this, this, this, this, this or this.

PM & DPM Away Tomorrow...

So, we are literally without anyone at the top on official duty for about two days.

Tomorrow, neither the Prime Minister nor his Deputy will be around. Both will be away.

Pak Lah is on an official visit to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and is scheduled to return on Friday while Najib is flying tonight to London en route to Lima, Peru, to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit at the weekend.

Najib admits that this is unusual.

"But (it is) unavoidable," he told reporters after opening the Asia Pacific Regional Water Conference 2008, in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

He says that this goes to show that all's well in the country --that the government and the nation are stable.

The cats maybe away but Najib reassures that both Abdullah and he will be in close contact with the ministers and top government officers while they are abroad.

So,'s not a big deal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Heated And Hot In Wanita Umno..

It looks like Wanita Umno deputy chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is left with no choice but to mount a challenge against incumbent Rafidah Aziz for the wing's top post.

Besides, Wanita exco member Kamilia Ibrahim is firm in her decision to contest the deputy post.

So, yes --- it's a case of damn if I do and damn if I don't for Shahrizat.

You won't be wrong to assume that all is really not well between Rafidah and Shahrizat.

You know, politics does this to people.

Rafidah is sticking to the plan to not step down anytime sooner than June next year.
But Shahrizat, pressured by her supporters and inspired by the leadership change at Umno's helm, wants an earlier transition.

Her proposal at Monday's Wanita exco meeting was shot down, mercilessly. Accusations of this and that flew around...and some.

No way, Ijat, they told her.
Rafidah is adamant that it's no go.

Shahrizat has got nominations to contest Wanita's number one post. So has Rafidah.
Wanita exco member Kamilia Ibrahim cannot be talked out of her decision. She's got more than enough nominations already.

So, yes...damn if Shahrizat does and damn if she doesn't.

Good luck, y'all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bangsa Malaysia...

I'm always interested in discussions on Bangsa Malaysia. I've listened to so many views....

There's a discourse on the subject this morning at the Perdana Leadership Foundation. I think I'll "menyibuk" there.

Our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will deliver his keynote address.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Four Books By Dr Syed Husin Ali

I had missed the launching of his book, "The Malays - Their Problems and Future" sometime in the middle of the year.

I was out-of-town and regretted that I was not able to be there.

Syed Husin -- or Pak Cik Syed, Pak Tuan or Abang Syed as I call him -- would always call or text me if there was any event -- private (family) or otherwise (PKR).

Syed Husin and his wife, Kak Sabariah are my family's long-time friends.

I remember Syed Husin when he and several Universiti of Malaya undergraduates and student activists back in the 60s, would converge at our house in Jalan Sentosa (Section 3, Petaling Jaya), later in Jalan Lembah (Section 5, Petaling Jaya).

Bapak and these students would discuss and debate politics, current affairs and well, everything under the sun....

And later on, when we moved to Section 16, Syed Husin would visit Bapak for their intellectual discourse and would not miss the Hari Raya visits.

I wept when he was detained under the Internal Security Act, just as Kak Sabariah did when Bapak was detained.
We kept close contact with Kak Sabariah when he was in detention. We would always meet up at Pak Cik Tongkat's (Usman Awang's) home for makan or any other family gathering.

All through the years, Syed Husin has remained close to Bapak and our family.

When I became a journalist, he was one of the people I would regularly call for input on anything.

So when he texted me two weeks ago inviting me to the launch of his four books at Carlton Holiday Hotel in Shah Alam on Sunday, I told myself that I must not miss it. In fact, he asked that my siblings come as well.

My youngest sister, Nina told me we MUST not miss the event. We absolutely must go. No excuses.

She reminded me that he visited Bapak at the hospital twice, and came to pay respects twice -- the evening Bapak' was brought back home and at the funeral.

Besides, Bapak's old friend and compatriot since Utusan Melayu days - Pak Cik Said Zahari would also be there.

And of course, another pull factor -- Saudara Anwar Ibrahim would also be there to deliver his keynote address.

So last Sunday (Nov 9), we all went to the event -- launch and review of his books -- with our children in tow.

Although we were not able to stay to the end because of a pressing family engagement, we were glad we were able to be there.
Besides, I met some old friends from Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

And we all made sure we got the books (although we've already got "The Malays...." and "Two Faces..."):

"Orang Melayu: Masalah dan Masa Depanya". "Ethnic Relations in Malaysia: Harmony & Conflict" and the Malay and English editions of "Dua Wajah: Tahanan Tanpa Bicara/Two Faces: Detention without Trial".

Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim reviewed "Orang Melayu",
Director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives Lim Teck Ghee reviewed "Ethnic Relations in Malaysia" and Pak Cik Said reviewed "Dua Wajah/Two Faces".

The books are available at book stores.

Syed Husin is deputy president of PKR. He was for a long time president of Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia. He was detained for six years under the ISA in the 70s.

*Pak Cik Said
was editor-in-chief of Utusan Melayu and an advocate of unbiased press freedom. He was detained by the Singapore government and subsequently held for 17 years without trial. Allegations against him included being a "Communist". He was released a few years ago and holds the distinction of having been Singapore's second longest-serving political detainee after Chia Thye Poh. (from Wikipedia)
He now resides (with his children) in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr Rahmbo In Obama's Office...

...and why the Mid-East is doing a U-turn -- from ecstasy in Barack Obama's election to unease and depression when the President-elect named Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.

Here's from "The Middle East" Blog.

Barack Obama chose Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff not for his Middle East policy expertise but his Beltway experience and savvy. Nicknamed Rahmbo, Emanuel was Bill Clinton's scrappy White House political director--he taught that president the Hebrew word for balls, baytzim--and has served three terms in congress.

Yet, news of Emanuel's appointment is causing a stir in the Middle East. It's being met with some elation in Israel, a country that has been notably uneasy about an Obama presidency, and some despair in the Arab world, which had largely embraced Obama.

An Oxford-educated Arab friend called Thursday night to ask me in a tone of deep disappointment, "Did you notice how in the span of 24 hours Egyptians went from being ecstatic to being depressed about Obama?"

The Arab News in Jeddah, whose editorials are a good reflection of the Arab mainstream, did an astounding somersault on Friday. Just the previous day, the paper hailed the "symbol of hope and change" in the U.S., saying Obama's historic election "threatens the cosy Washington consensus. We are, therefore, embarking on exciting times.

" After hearing of Emanuel's appointment, the paper headlined its next editorial "Don't pin much hope on Obama." Arab expectations, the paper warned, "are likely to be dashed, generating a great deal of pain and resentment...The new team may turn out to be as pro-Israeli as the one it is replacing."

Click here to continue reading.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Court Orders Raja Petra's Release

Got a text message from blogging lawyer Elviza this morning just before 10am to say that Raja Petra Kamaruddin will be released.
At the Shah Alam court, RPK's lawyer, Malik Imtiaz succeeded in obtaining a release order from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) via his habeas corpus application.

That is good news. We are all elated.

Here's the Star report:

The judge ruled that the Home Minister had acted outside his jurisdiction when he issued the two-year detention order under Section 8(1) of the ISA.

The High Court also allowed the blogger and Malaysia Today editor to be brought to court to be released today.

He was detained for a second time under the ISA on Sept 12.

On April 11, 2001, Raja Petra along with 10 other activists were detained under the ISA for allegedly plotting to overthrow former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Raja Petra was released 52 days later.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hey, America, You Ain't So Bad After All...

After 9/11 in 2001, I felt distressed for many obvious reasons -- the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, war on Iraq, the US-prescribed war on terror, Guantanamo Bay, among others.

I had my own little boycott of the US. I was, of course, not alone. Not at all.

Time is supposed to heal. In this case, it took a little longer.

A planned visit to my alma mater (Boston University) had to be cancelled. Personal invitations from American friends to attend their weddings or for holidays had to be declined.

Reassurances from the acting US ambassador (can't recall his name -- it was in 2003, I think) that I would not be singled out at random for detailed checks and questioning at American airports could not appeal to my senses.
I refused to visit the US -- neither for work nor for play.

And, boy, was I glad and relieved when my son, Adel decided not to do any US degree programmes, after his SPM.

To cut a long story short -- I am now giving America a chance. (As though I matter at all.)
And I will no longer look at America with contempt and disdain.

There was a time I looked at the US as a reference point for many things. About freedom, mostly.

Post 9/11 changed all that.

Barack Obama as the 44th US President, will still have to prove himself. We know that.

But the fact that Americans want him as President warms my heart.

I can say to an American : "hey, America ain't so bad, after all..."

And maybe, just maybe......

Anyway, I wrote this after reading an AP article "Suddenly, It' Maybe Cool to Be An American Again":

VIENNA, Austria – She was a stranger, and she kissed me. Just for being an American.

It happened on the bus on my way to work Wednesday morning, a few hours after compatriots clamoring for change swept Barack Obama to his historic victory. I was on the phone, and the 20-something Austrian woman seated in front of me overheard me speaking English.

Without a word, she turned, pecked me on the cheek and stepped off at the next stop.

Click here to continue....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New America?

I sure hope so.
Won't you please close down Guantanamo Bay and release all the detainees who were unlawfully captured...

Barrack Obama, America's first black President, undoubtedly, has made history.

Will he make a difference - to the US, to the world, I wonder? We'll have to wait and see how this guy will turn out -- his oratorical skills, smooth style and good looks aside.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Barack Obama was elected the nation's first black president Tuesday night in a historic triumph that overcame racial barriers as old as America itself.

The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, the Democratic senator from Illinois sealed his victory by defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in hard-fought battleground statesOhio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa.

A huge crowd in Grant Park in Chicago erupted in jubilation at the news of Obama's victory. Some wept.

McCain called to concede defeat — and the end of his own 10-year quest for the White House.

Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, will take their oaths of office as president and vice president on Jan. 20, 2009.

As the 44th president, Obama will move into the Oval Office as leader of a country that is almost certainly in recession, and fighting two long wars, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.

The popular vote was close, but not the count in the Electoral College, where it mattered most.

There, Obama's audacious decision to contest McCain in states that hadn't gone Democratic in years paid rich dividends.

Obama has said his first order of presidential business will be to tackle the economy. He has also pledged to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.

Fellow Democrats rode his coattails to larger majorities in both houses of Congress. They defeated incumbent Republicans and won open seats by turn.