Sunday, April 27, 2008

Red Cliff

I saw the trailer for Red Cliff yesterday. My goodness, it was beyond words. Dream come true. All these while i can only image the scenes from reading the novels, now its in motion picture. Yes yes yes !!

Red Cliff is a Chinese epic film based on the Battle of Red Cliffs during the famous Three Kingdoms period in Ancient China. Those of you who reads the novel might know it as Battle of Chi Bi. The film is the most expensive Asian production up to date and its being directed by John Woo.

The star studded cast already got my heart pumping rapidly. There are so many hot actresses lined up in the movie. Among them are Zhao Wei, Lin Chi-ling, Zhang Jingchu, and the japanese Koyuki (u've seen her in the Last Samurai). Ah, what a feast. Whoohoo..

My favourite character in the epic Zhou Yu is being played by Tony Leung. Yippe.

I can't wait to watch it already ler..Quickly premiere lah. My most awaited film of the year.

I also wan to watch IronMan. Why? Bcoz there are alot of supercars in the show. I saw Ford GT and Saleen S7 among the many cars. Cant wait cant wait...ish ish

Apa halnya ni?

Wats the big problem now? So dissatisfied for wat. You wan watch that movie watch oni la. No one's stopping you.

I just said that i won't be watching that movie oni ma. You can still watch the initial movie without a few of us rite. Why not go ahead oni? Never did i ever say that you must watch other movie bcoz i said so.

Blardy hell, shifting the blame like nobody's business. As if it's all my doing

Friday, April 25, 2008

Taiyuan : Dragon City

Ziying's Brush

IT IS not without reason that Shanxi’s 2,500-year-old municipality of Taiyuan is called Dragon City. Not only was it home to several emperors, the most famous of whom are the Tang dynasty’s great Li Shimin and China’s only woman emperor Wu Zetian, but its location smack in the middle of Shanxi makes it a natural choice as provincial capital. Taiyuan is also a centre of the province’s all-important coal and steel industries.

Interestingly, the very name of Li Shimin’s dynasty originated in Taiyuan. In the remote past, a state called Tang was located here and when Li’s father became emperor, he named his dynasty Tang in honour of his home district.

Perhaps less well-known is the fact that Taiyuan is deemed the ancestral source of the Wang clan.

Wang (Ong, Wong) is a common enough surname amongst people of Chinese ancestry all over the world. But last April, Xinhua News Agency reported that Wang, meaning “king”, has overtaken Li to become the most common in China, accounting for 7.25% of the population, or a staggering 95 million people. A subsequent report says in Beijing alone, more than 10% of the residents carry this name.

There are several sources of this ancient name whose origins date back 2,600 years. With few exceptions (such as minorities who adopted the name), the roots of the Wang clan can be traced to the royal family of the Zhou dynasty.

The most prolific branch appears to originate from Zi Qiao, the Crown Prince Jin of eastern Zhou. The story goes that this outspoken prince offended his father the king who demoted him to commoner and banished him. Prince Jin eventually settled in Taiyuan. After he died his son adopted Wang as the family name as he was already commonly addressed as such due to his royal lineage.

Over time the Wang clan spread to other parts of China. In Fujian a military commissioner named Wang Shenzhi even set up a short-lived kingdom called Min with the capital at Fuzhou after the collapse of the Tang dynasty.

In the 1990s the Shanxi government refurbished the 500-year-old mansion of a high ranking Ming dynasty official surnamed Wang and converted it into a memorial hall for Zi Qiao, so that his descendants from all over the world can have a place to gather to pay respects to their root ancestor.

Called the Jinxi Academy, the hall is situated on the grounds of Jinci, a memorial temple complex 25km from Taiyuan.

Jinci’s beginnings are so ancient nobody knows when it was first built but it is believed to have its origins in a 3,000-year-old memorial temple to Shuyu, the first duke of Tang in the western Zhou dynasty who was noted for his wisdom and good governance. After he died, his son re-named the territory Jin to honour the river that flowed through it, hence the memorial temple to his father is called Jinci. After 30 centuries this legacy is still alive in Shanxi whose short name “Jin” recalls the ancient state.

Behind Jinci’s imperial vermilion walls the extensive temple grounds seem like a palace garden in a Chinese landscape painting. A stream winds around “flying” bridges of white stone, grassy lawns and graceful pavilions, terraces and halls amidst tall willows and ancient cypresses. The oldest, a cypress called Zhoubo with leathery, weather-beaten bark, was planted 30 centuries ago and so tired it is almost reclining horizontally.

The oldest and most important edifice in Jinci is the imposing 1,000-year-old, 19m high Shengmudian or Saint Mother Hall which commemorates the mother of Shuyu. Topped with a double-layered roof of finest blue and yellow glazed tiles, Shengmudian is said to represent Song dynasty architecture at its finest.

Inside the stark, bare hall, 45 gorgeously moulded clay sculptures of Song palace ladies and court eunuchs stand against the walls waiting to serve the Saint Mother. The subtle expressions on their milk-white, refined faces reveal each individual’s mood, feelings and personality. A happy, confident beauty; a resigned dowager fallen from favour; a sad serving maid deep in reflection. Each lady has a unique hairdo and gesture and their flowing court garments, shawls and ribbons fall softly and naturally around their figures. Even after a thousand years, their original predominantly red, teal and midnight blue colouring is still evident.

Jinci’s extant halls, offerings pavilion, opera terrace, archways and other structures were constructed over a 1,000-year-period spanning four major dynasties. Regrettably, aside from the roofs, many of the buildings and sculptures need refurbishment.

Still, poets like the Tang dynasty’s Libai have sung its praises and even Emperor Li Shimin eulogised the architecture and scenery of the place in a tablet. Jinci is indisputably one of the most beautiful imperial temple complexes I have seen in China.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

World's youngest professor

By Bob Considine

Perhaps in Alia Sabur’s wildly advanced studies she came across a famous quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

“Knowing is not enough. We must apply,” the German writer once observed.

That could serve as explanation for what prompted the 19-year-old to become the youngest college professor in history.

Armed with prodigious wisdom, Sabur told TODAY’s Ann Curry on Wednesday that knowledge is power — especially when sharing it.

“I really enjoy teaching,” said Sabur. “It’s something where you can make a difference. It’s not just what you can do, but you can enable a lot of other people to make their changes.”

Sabur, from Northport, N.Y., has clearly been ahead of the learning curve since an early age.

She started talking and reading when she was just 8 months old. She had elementary school finished at age 5.

She made the jump to college at age 10. And by age 14, Sabur was earning a bachelor’s of science degree in applied mathematics summa cum laude from Stony Brook University — the youngest female in U.S. history to do so.

Her education continued at Drexel University, where she earned an M.S. and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering.

With an unlimited future ahead of her, Sabur directed her first career choice to teaching. She was three days short of her 19th birthday in February when she was hired to become a professor at Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea.

This distinction made her the youngest college professor in history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, beating the previous record held by Colin Maclaurin in 1717.

Maclaurin was a student of physicist Isaac Newton. Sabur said she is merely gravitating toward putting what she has learned to good use.

“I really feel I can help a lot of people,” she said.

At Konkuk University, Sabur said she will take part in classroom instruction, but will also focus on research into developing nanotubes for use as cellular probes that could help aid in cures for diseases.

Although she doesn’t start until next month, Sabur has taken up teaching math and physics courses at Southern University in New Orleans, which is still struggling from the devastation left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake in 2005.

“Some people come and they do Habitat for Humanity and they build houses, but I don’t think I would be very good,” she said. “So I tried to do what I’m good at. I was particularly interested in this university because they are still in trailers after Hurricane Katrina. And I thought it could be something I do to help.”

In New Orleans, Sabur is old enough to teach, but not to join her fellow professors in a bar after work. In Korea, where the drinking age is 20, she might have more luck. Koreans count their age from the moment they are born, so in Korea Sabur is considered 20.

Varied interests
On top of her unprecedented academic achievements, Sabur has a black belt in the Korean martial art of tae kwon do and is also a music prodigy. She has been playing clarinet with orchestras since her solo debut at age 11, playing with recording artists Lang Lang and Smash Mouth.

“You can reach a lot of people with music,” Sabur told Curry. “It’s never been really a hobby to me. It’s always been on equal par with my academics.”

So is there anything Sabur can’t do?

Well, apparently she struggles with basketball and with long writing and admits to sometimes being absentminded.

In fact, sometimes she forgets just how special she really is.

“Well, I know that what I’ve done is special and I think about it,” she said. “But sometimes I forget, because I’m used to it and I don’t think about it all the time. Actually, sometimes it takes other people to remind me a little bit.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Passing of a great man

Author, blogger, and social activist Rustam A Sani passed away early this morning in his house in Gombak, Selangor. He was 64.

He was an academician, a newspaper columnist and a poet, besides being involved in a multitude of political, social and literary activities.

In politics, the Tanjung Malim-born social scientist was formerly the deputy president of Parti Rakyat Malaysia, which have since merged with the Parti Keadilan Nasional to form the PKR.

He left behind a wife, two children - a son and a daughter, and a grandchild. It is learnt that Rustam passed away after suffering from difficulties in breathing early this morning.

According to daughter Ariani, he could have suffered a heart attack.

"It was all so sudden. We had dinner together last night. He collapsed after having problems breathing at about 2.45am," she said between sobs.

In recent years, Rustam was known for his occasional blog postings in his 'Suara Rakyat' and 'Karya Semasa'.

Rustam obtained his Malay Studies degree from Universiti Malaya, and later took his Masters degree in United Kingdom (University of Reading and University of Kent) and later United States (Yale University) and Sweden (Uppsala University).

A prolific writer, he had written half a dozen books in both Bahasa Malaysia and English on a wide range of topic including the Malay left-wing nationalist movement.

Rustam was an associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s political science department in the 1980s.

The funeral hearse left at 1pm for the nearby Masjid Al-Sharif where the body stayed until Zohor prayers. The body was buried at 3pm at the Taman Danau Kota Muslim cemetery in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.

Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim arrived just in time for the prayers at the masjid.

Rustam, who was born in Ipoh, was the son of Malay nationalist leader Ahmad Boestamam, who was the founder of political parties Angkatan Pemuda Insaf and Parti Rakyat.

Condolences from friends

Among those seen offering their condolences to Rustam’s family included top opposition politicians Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Syed Husin Ali and Dr Xavier Jeyakumar (PKR), Kamaruddin Jaffar, Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi and Salahuddin Ayub (PAS) and Lim Kit Siang, Teng Chang Khim and Fong Kui Lun (DAP).

Also at Rustam’s house this morning were ex-New Straits Times editor-in-chief A Kadir Jasin, ex-Utusan Malaysia editor-in-chief Johan Jaffar and former director-general of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Hassan Ahmad.

Said PKR’s Latheefa Koya, “He had been a progressive and outspoken Malay leader. We will always remember him as a brilliant intellectual with great leadership qualities but prefer to keep a very low profile. And despite his recent health conditions, he continued to be active through his writings on the Internet.”

Syed Husin credited Rustam as the key mover behind the merger between of Parti Keadilan and Parti Rakyat Malaysia.

"Much of the papers regarding the merger was done by him. When he decided to do anything, Rustam put all his energies to it."

Meanwhile, former schoolmate Kamaruddin had fond memories of their early days together.

“I have known Rustam since the 1970s when we were at the University of Kent. Rustam was a fighter and an intellectual - a political analyst whose stand has always been consistent in the struggle for the rakyat,” he said.

“We did not agree on everything but he was a very jovial and pleasant individual, for whom I always had a great deal of respect.”

Johan extolled Rustam as “one of the best columnists Utusan Malaysia ever had”.

“His worldview was moulded by his father’s struggle. He was a towering figure - one of the finest intellectuals in the country. He was critical, including of me, but he was fair.”

Nurul Izzah said that Rustam had a very close relationship with her family. “We didn’t expect this to happen. He was witty, sometimes sarcastic, but a wonderful man.”

A writer to the end

Even to his final day, Rustam wrote from morning to dusk, said his son Azrani.

"From the time he wakes up, he would start writing. He was very dedicated to the importance of ideas and the need to raise social conciousness."

He was to launch two of his latest books - ‘Failed nation? Concerns of a Malaysian Nationalist’ and ‘Social Roots of the Malay Left’ - on Saturday.

Publisher SIRD said the event will go ahead and will now be a memorium for the author. The launch will be officiated by PKR de facto leader Anwar.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

P2 of Ruling the Rulers : The Mahathir Years

By: Huzir Sulaiman

THE 1960s, although a tumultuous decade for many other reasons, was relatively quiet in terms of intervention by the Malay Rulers in matters of administration and politics.

The relationship between the Sultans and the Alliance Government was still benefiting from the effort both parties had been obliged to make to find common ground in the run-up to their negotiations with the British in 1956.

(Eventually, the Rulers had been persuaded to drop their opposition to the granting of citizenship to non-Malays born in Malaya, a provision insisted on by the British, championed, naturally, by the MIC and MCA, and accepted by Umno only with a certain amount of trauma.)

But the honeymoon period of the new constitutional monarchy couldn’t last forever.

By 1981, when Dr Mahathir Mohamad succeeded Hussein Onn as Prime Minister of Malaysia, the country was in the giddy throes of a surge in royal activism.

The period from 1977 to 1983 saw several Sultans make their presence felt in the political arena to a far greater degree than had been previously seen.

The close of Hussein Onn’s premiership saw conflicts between several Sultans and Mentris Besar erupt into the open.

In 1977, the Sultan of Kelantan attempted to intervene in a crisis caused by the deteriorating relations between PAS and Umno (then in a short-lived alliance).

The Sultan attempted to postpone the dissolution of the State Assembly following a vote of no confidence in the Mentri Besar, in order that a replacement MB could be found from PAS without elections being called.

Unrest followed, which was ample pretext for the Federal Government to declare a State of Emergency in Kelantan. In the subsequent State elections, Umno came to power, a situation that the Sultan had been trying to avoid.

Things were heating up elsewhere, too. In 1977 the Sultan of Perak ostracised his Mentri Besar to the point that he was forced to resign. In 1978, the Sultan of Pahang rejected the Umno nominee for MB and, in 1981, the Sultan of Johor forced his MB to resign after 14 years in office.

We cannot know with any certainty what the new Prime Minister’s attitudes were towards the Malay Rulers when he assumed office in 1981 in the midst of this burgeoning atmosphere of royal assertiveness.

However, in Paradoxes of Mahathirism: An Intellectual Biography of Mahathir Mohamad, Khoo Boo Teik argues that “Mahathir was not necessarily an out and out ‘anti-royalist’. He found heroes in strong modernising sovereigns such as Peter the Great and the Meiji Emperor but his attitude towards the Malay royalty was less admiring.”

Khoo notes that “Mahathir’s disdain for the Malay rulers had ? been expressed in oblique criticism before.

“C.H.E. Det (Mahathir’s pen name in the late 1940s) had cast the 1949 conflict between the Malay royalty and the nascent Umno leadership as a conflict between ‘rulers and rakyats’. Then, C.H.E. Det stood with those who thought that the rulers had either to yield to the wishes of Umno and its supporters or to forfeit the loyalty of the Malays.”

What is almost certain is that Dr Mahathir would have been aware that the independent-minded Sultans of Perak and Johor were the two most likely candidates to become the next Agong in 1984.

Indeed, their Highnesses were shortly to demonstrate their autonomy in ways that led to a measure of public distress.

In 1982, the Sultan of Perak, in his capacity as Head of Religion in his State, looked at the two permissible methods used to calculate the timing of Hari Raya Puasa, and chose the one different from that used in the rest of the country.

That year the fasting month ended a day earlier in Perak, disrupting travel plans and inadvertently making it a rather stressful holiday for the Malay community.

The following year, both the Sultans of Perak and Johor used the alternate method, and their two States celebrated Hari Raya a day earlier than the rest of Malaysia.

Some commentators have suggested that the distress of the “variant Hari Raya” prompted Dr Mahathir’s subsequent desire to concentrate administrative power in the Federal Government.

But R.S. Milne and Diane K. Mauzy, in Malaysian Politics Under Mahathir, citing interviews with Umno ministers, suggest that what became known as the 1983 constitutional crisis “was precipitated by reports, received by Mahathir, that the Sultan of Johor stated at a gathering that when he was elected Agong he would unilaterally declare a state of emergency, and with the aid of the army, throw out all the politicians.

“Compounding this were stories that the Sultan was close to certain key military men, and that the army chief, General Tan Sri Mohd Zain Hashim, had criticised Mahathir’s approach and had questioned where the army’s loyalty rested.”

Whatever the case may be, on Aug 1, the Government brought the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1983 before both houses of Parliament, and it was quickly passed.

The bill put forward 22 amendments to the Federal Constitution, including three very significant changes to the position of the Malay Rulers.

First, it removed the need for the Agong to give his Royal Assent to a piece of legislation before it could be gazetted as law. Instead, it stipulated that if the Agong did not give his Assent within 15 days, he was deemed to have done so, and the law could come into effect.

Second, it introduced parallel provisions removing the need for a Sultan to give his Assent to State laws.

Third, it transferred the power to declare an Emergency from the Agong (who was, in any case, supposed to act on the advice of Cabinet in this regard) directly to the Prime Minister, who was not obliged to act on anyone’s advice.

The Prime Minister’s Department had ordered a press blackout on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1983 and, so, while the fact of the bill’s passing was mentioned, its significance was downplayed, and the debate – including an impassioned speech in opposition to it by DAP’s Lim Kit Siang – did not appear in local media.

For the following two months, nothing appeared. But a right royal storm was brewing.

Immediately, the liberal intelligentsia opposed the provision that allowed the Prime Minister to unilaterally declare an Emergency.

On Aug 2, 1983, Aliran issued a statement condemning the Bill, claiming the proposed amendment “opens the way to political abuse. For the Prime Minister is, in the ultimate analysis, a political personality very much involved in the conflicts and compromises of party politics. There is no constitutional mechanism for ensuring that he will not use his emergency powers against his political foes from any quarter.

“It is simply not possible to prevent an ambitious Prime Minister in the future from emerging as a ‘supremo’ after the proclamation of an emergency.”

But, under the strict press blackout, it was not reported.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the public, the Agong, under pressure from his fellow Rulers, refused to give his Assent to the Bill.

The Rulers maintained that the Bill contravened Article 38(4) of the Constitution, which stated that “No law directly affecting the privileges, position, honours or dignities of the Rulers shall be passed without the consent of the Conference of Rulers.”

The Rulers had also come to understand the full legal implications of removing the need for Royal Assent to legislation. It meant that if Parliament voted to abolish the monarchy, the Rulers would be powerless to stop them.

Tensions continued to build behind the scenes. It was only in October, when Senu Abdul Rahman circulated a letter condemning the amendments, followed by Tunku Abdul Rahman defying the gag order by writing about them in the pages of this newspaper, that Malaysians woke up to the crisis.

There were also disagreements within Umno; as Gordon P. Means notes in Malaysian Politics: the Second Generation, “? many in the ruling coalition were distressed by the contents of the amendments and the confrontational style of Dr Mahathir towards the Malay Rulers.”

Some establishment figures believed the Prime Minister had far-reaching aims. In a 1988 interview transcribed in K. Das & The Tunku Tapes, Tunku Abdul Rahman and the veteran journalist discuss the constitutional crisis.

If one can look past the bitchy, surat layang (poison pen letter) tone of their stories about Dr Mahathir’s children, one can get a snapshot of the groundswell of suspicion.

Tunku: “You see, the Malays have a cause for adat, resam and so on ? tradition. I have a respect for it but he has none. He dislikes it. You see, his whole aim is to upset the constitution and turn this country into a republic. His son was in London talking quite openly amongst the students that his father is going to be the first President of Malaya.”

Das: “I head his daughter was also talking about it here ? Apparently she was caught talking about it at a party not knowing that behind her was one of the Tengkus from Negri Sembilan who overheard it. She said that as soon as the constitution amendment is signed, it is finished, we can become a republic.”

Against this background of suspicion, the 1983 constitutional crisis spilled out into the open, and the conflict grew even more intense.

In the next instalment of Ruling the Rulers, Wide Angle will look at the propaganda war and the resolution of the crisis. And, the other crises that lay in wait for Dr Mahathir and the Malay Rulers.

Ruling the Rulers

By: Huzir Sulaiman

IN 1779, the Dutch Governor of Malacca commissioned a study of Malay court ceremonies. The scribes took as their source a learned mosque official named Abdulmuhit who knew of the traditional ways of the Malacca Sultanate two centuries past. The resulting manuscript, the Adat Raja-Raja Melayu, mentions the ritualised insolence of the Prime Minister towards the Sultan.

According to the commentary of Prof Panuti Hudjiman of the University of Indonesia, when the Sultan summons the Bendahara, or royal Prime Minister, to attend a betrothal ceremony, “the Bendahara has a peculiar way of responding to this royal summons. When the messenger approaches him for the first time, he replies, ‘Datanglah kita mengadap’ (We will come).

“Instead of going straight away to the palace, the Bendahara takes a bath. Again a messenger is sent, only to be told by the Bendahara to return to the palace, as the Bendahara is coming. The Bendahara lets people wait for him: he gets dressed, and waits for a third summons before he obeys.?

“This is to show his position in relation to the king: the Bendahara is chief advisor to the king and is regarded as the power behind the throne. The use of the pluralis majestatis “kita” (the royal “we”) must be an assertion of superiority or arrogance.”

This is not just an isolated case being reported; the Bendahara repeats this ritualised show of arrogance when a new Sultan is crowned and the Bendahara is called back to serve, refusing to approach until the third summons.

We can see from the Adat Raja-Raja Melayu that the tensions between the Malay ruler and his powerful ministers were already encoded in the culture of Malay kingship at the time of its early flowering in the Malacca Sultanate – and I would argue that we are seeing echoes of it today in the recent standoff between Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who is also Sultan of Terengganu, and the Prime Minister.

It’s tempting to interpret the degree of interest shown by Their Highnesses the Sultans in the recent selection of Mentris Besar as a sudden flowering of royal activism, to be viewed with either glee or concern, depending on your attitude towards the Federal Government.

Seen from a historical perspective, however, this supposedly new royal intervention in the political arena is just the latest recurrence of the natural and understandable desire of the Malay ruler to actually do a bit of ruling once in a while – a desire that in the last 100 years has been continually constrained by the demands of British imperialists and Malay nationalists alike.

We should not be surprised that the Malay Rulers are making noise now; rather, we should be shocked that they have been quiet for so long. Much as they once had to deal with a ritually rude Bendahara, Their Highnesses have been obliged to accept as graciously as possible the interference of others.

In the colonial period, in the years before World War II, the Unfederated Malay States of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Johor had British Advisors who in the course of their “advising” attempted with varying degrees of success to govern indirectly.

From 1896, the Federated Malay States of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, and Pahang had British Residents imposed on them by treaty, and who governed quite directly, making proclamations and decrees that began with the famously offensive formula “The British Resident is pleased to?”.

The Japanese Occupation of Malaya saw some Sultans deposed by the new invaders, and others intimidated into cooperation. After the Japanese surrender, the British Military Administration presented itself to the Malay Rulers as the sole authority capable of recognising them as legitimate. If the Rulers were deemed to have collaborated with the Japanese or, more crucially, if they were not prepared to sign a new set of treaties turning over all their authority to Britain, they would be removed.

Brigadier H.C. Willan’s report on the Sultans on Oct 7, 1945, is a chilling example of the cynical exercise of power:

“In my view it would be wise to approach the Sultan of Johore first with regard to the negotiations for the new treaties. I think in his present state of mind he will sign. He is a realist and is fully aware that he is dependent on H.M.G.’s support ?

“(The Sultan of Selangor) is a pleasant person with not a very strong character and at present is so overjoyed at the return of the British and re-recognition of himself as Sultan, that in my view, he will sign the new treaty ?’’

“In my view the Yam Tuan of Negri Sembilan should be approached next. In his present state of mind he is somewhat depressed and appears to me to be perplexed as to how his State can recover itself and would welcome directions rather than advice?.”

In the end, on pain of being deposed in favour of someone more accommodating, all nine Malay Rulers signed the MacMichael treaties, giving up virtually all their sovereign powers, except those relating to religion and Malay culture.

This first step towards Britain’s planned Malayan Union angered the burgeoning Malay nationalist movement, but scholars have pointed out that it was not so much the curtailment of the Malay Rulers’ powers that affronted Datuk Onn Jaafar and his comrades, as it was the British proposal that citizenship be granted to non-Malays born in Malaya.

It was the perceived threat to the powers of the Malay community, as opposed to the Malay Rulers, that truly galvanised the nationalists. (Indeed, Onn was arguably ambivalent about the Sultans, having in his younger days written newspaper articles critical of the Sultan of Johor.)

On March 30, 1946, the Malay Rulers were gathered in Kuala Lumpur to attend the installation of Sir Edward Gent, the new Governor. As Harry Miller tells it in his biography of Tunku Abdul Rahman, “That afternoon Onn personally conveyed to the Rulers a message from the United Malays National Organisation that it was the ‘desire of their people’ that they should not attend the Governor’s installation, and, indeed, they should ‘desist from taking part in any function connected with the Union.’

“The message went further: If the Rulers insisted on meeting the Governor they would be disowned by the people, who were determined to boycott the Malayan Union.”

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the hotel where the Sultans were staying, shouting “Daulat Tuanku!” and “Hidup Melayu!”

As Miller puts it, “The Rulers walked down to the great crowded porch to receive the obeisance of the demonstrators. This was also a touching scene, although the more unyielding of the leaders in the U.M.N.O. said later, ‘We brought them down those stairs to teach them a lesson. They were lucky we did not destroy them completely for having signed the MacMichael treaties. As it was, we told them we would support them.’”

Caught between the “rock” of the British colonial authorities and the “hard place” of the angry Malay nationalists, the Malay Rulers complained to London that they were coerced into signing the MacMichael treaties, boycotted the Governor’s installation, and maintained a distance from him in public (while maintaining warm and cordial relations in private) until the British realised that the groundswell of opposition to the Malayan Union was too strong, and backed down.

The Federation of Malaya, the compromise constitutional scheme reached in 1948, saw Britain appointing Advisors who were truly advisory, with the states’ executive powers passing to the Mentris Besar.

Nonetheless, it appears clear that the Malay Rulers still feared that they would be emasculated by Umno, and Onn could not entirely reassure them.

As Sir Malcolm MacDonald wrote to Sir Henry Gurney on Dec 15, 1949, “In my talk with him on December 12th, Dato’ Onn told me of his recent talk with the Mentris Besar ? They asked him whether he proposed that the Rulers should be ousted in the near future. He replied emphatically in the negative. He said that probably in due course at least many of the Rulers would be abolished, because the Malays themselves would wish this. But that would not happen for a long time and depended on Malay public opinion.” (Emphasis mine.)

For Malaysians of my generation, who have grown up conditioned by the Sedition Act to not entertain the slightest republican thought, it is shocking to hear the founder of Umno coolly tell the Sultans’ ministers that he supposed Malays would one day wish for the abolition of their Rulers.

Six decades later, that day is still unthinkable.

But from the pre-Merdeka negotiations of the Alliance through to the events of the 1981-2003 era – when the metaphorical Bendahara was not so much ignoring the Sultan’s summons as trying to do the summoning – the Malay Rulers have had to stoically endure many more attempts to curtail their powers. I will examine this in my next column.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sleepless Night

When i'm writing this piece, i have not been getting sleep at all for the past 24 hours. This is kinda ridiculous bcoz this is the final week of studies. Why are we still not getting enough sleep?
One, Dr Toshiko gave us a quiz although its the final week. Does it make sense? We already have more done so much coursework that it could make up the 40%. Why do we need to do another quiz?

The next day is the deadline for Journalism Assignment. We have to do a four page newspaper. My group consist of Sue Sin, Shan, Michelle and myself. I actually started writing the news since Sunday but i still cant finish up four pieces by Wednesday. So i have to abandon JR awhile to concentrate on Psycholinguistics. The moment we finish Psycholingui, attention was turned straight to JR. many groups have already printed their newspapers. I think only 3 groups haven't really done anything concrete by thursday. My group is one of them.

I managed to get all my articles done by evening on Thursday. I also edited shan's four pieces of news. Damn, it was tough. Although i edited, i still missed out so many minor things that need to be looked at. After i pesan Sue Sin to finish up his work, i then went over to Mich place to compile our news and get to her cuz's place. We need her cuz's help coz none in my group know how to use the software that is needed to newspaper. We reached her place at around 10 after i went to get all the pictures ready.

Mich's cousin used Adobe InDesign CS2 software to do the layout. Gosh, i have no idea at all how to operate that software. According to her, the software is good for doing newspaper layout coz the features allow easy adjusting. Thanks to her, our front page is super fantastic. The newspaper as a whole also very impressive. If we don't get highest in class, i sure "mm song" 1 lor.

Mich and me did not sleep at all as we had to get the newspaper done. Doing the layout was a very rigorous job. We started from 10pm and we did not stop doing the layout until 7.30am the next day. Gosh, i've nvr spent nights without sleep for studies before in my life. The most also i'll grab a 1-2 hour nap to recharge. But this time, went all out without sleep. Fuhh. Actually, i think we did not waste our time lo. The end result was IMPRESSIVE. Our "baby" is finally delivered to the world. Spent so much effort on it lah.

When it came out from the printing machine. All four of us were like, "oh, cun!!" Haha. The shop oni charge us RM9.60 for that. So much colour lah, but the price still reasonable. The person who did the cutting and connecting the pages was so PRO lah. Very efficient and skilled. I turned my head for a few seconds oni, he already done sticking the pages together d.

I noticed one crucial thing that happens when one doesn't sleep when one is supposed to. One will get hungry, i mean very hungry even though one doesn't do anything except use brain power. That was what happened to me when i stayed up and do the newspaper. Usually when i wake up, i dont feel as hungry as i felt when i didn't sleep. Really desperate for some food. Went to eat after settling everything at around noon. By taht time i was super hungry d. I ordered a plate of mee (big one). When it came, it looked like it's for 3 person. Anyway, i managed to wolf it down. Haha. I also noticed that i've been losing weight lately. I stepped on a weighing scale in mich's room and to my shock i discovered that i'm just 49kg now. WTF !! I got eat leh. Why like that 1? Eat alot of pork samore. So this is my advice, if you plan to stay up to do work, make sure that you have food on standby. You are sure to get very hungry 1 even though you only will use your brainpower.Haha

Finally !!

I want to thank everyone that helped in the process of doing this newspaper. First and foremost, Michelle who spent so much time in doing this with me and the other members Sue Sin and Shan. Thank you. Then michelle's cousin who spent her night without sleep bcoz of us. She contributed so much lah in helping us do the layout. If can i want to put her name as our chief subeditor but too bad cannot coz it's not allowed. Then i want to thank the other coursemates who were doing this assignment as well for all their help and encouragement. All of us spent our nights without sleep. Hahaha. Thanks a million everyone..I love all of you !! Haha

Sunday, April 6, 2008

It's getting hot..

PM Abdullah went on the offensive accusing his predecessor Dr Mahathir as being responsible for the poor state of the judiciary and lack of press freedom in the country.

He was speaking Sunday at a press conference after a closed door meeting with some 1,000 Umno grassroots leaders at the Putra World Trade Centre here.

Abdullah chose not to maintain his usual elegant silence in the face of intense criticism. He's no longer the so called "nice guy" anymore.

Abdullah also accused Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as being responsible for the Barisan Nasional’s losses in Kelantan.

This is so not Abdullah. His style is non confrontational and him being confrontational shows that he is under intense pressure from all corners.

Dr Mahathir meanwhile responded to his critics sayin that his criticisms against the Umno leadership would make the party stronger.

“My criticisms will not wreck the party. It will make Umno stronger.

“If I tell lies, Umno will reject me. If they (supporters of the current Umno leadership) tell the truth, people will accept them,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said this in response to allegations made by several Umno leaders that he was providing “ammunition” for the Opposition to destroy the party.

For more information about this, click here.

Things are really getting to a head now. I really can't wait to see new developments concerning this. The party elections that UMNO, MCA and Gerakan would be holding in the near future would be damn interesting.

In another issue, Hishamuddin Hussein says he's not going for a higher post when he decided not to run for the post of UMNO Youth head. He added that he would leave the decision on what post he should contest to the party members. That statement is lame lah. Everyone knows he's eye-ing one of the vice-presidents post. I for one would like to challenge him to not accept the inevitable UMNO members nomination for him to run for the vice-president post. He should keep to his word that he is not going for a higher post. Come on lah Hishammudin. Don't hide your intentions.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Semester Over?

Next week will be the last week of studies for us. Y2S1 is coming to an end. 14 weeks gone just like that. time really flies. next week will also be our last class with beloved Dr Carmen.

I really can't imagine her not teaching us anymore. I will miss all those arguments and discussions that we engage in. The long long comments in my writing will also be conspicuosly absent. She won't be there to add value to my writing anymore. Sighz.

So sad to know that our semester is coming to an end. Finals will be right after study week. damn. Exams again !!

Next semester should be lighter than this. It should also be the last semester that dear carmen will be lecturing in UTAR. She doesn't want to go to Kampar, so she have to leave the organisation. hopefully she gets a job at her favoured place, UM. then we could often meet up d coz UTAR and UM is like 5 mins drive away.

I'm considering of either doing my post grad studies in UM or abroad. If i'm in UM, then great lah. One of my favourite human rights fighter is there, Azmi Sharom. If Dr Carmen is there too, then it would be perfect.

Holidays after exam. Going to Pulau Perhentian if all goes according to plan. After that, it's another trip up to Genting. Casino and theme park galore again. Haha.

I don't want to be in my chaotic home looking at the nonsensical and temperamental brother of mine. study week will be spent on outings with buddies and pool. I really miss the feeling of knocking balls with que stick.

All time Classics

LiteFM's top500 songs countdown just concluded a few hours ago. this past week had been one of my happiest ever. I nvr felt this way for a long long time already. so carefree, so happy, so satiated. i'm actually lost for words describing my emotions d.

its nice to have these songs accompany me in the toughest moments this semester. they really helped me pull through. thank you ppl out there who voted for all these songs. i'm glad to know that there are many out there who still know how to enjoy this kinda music. youths today that profess they love music but label these songs "uncool" are so abundant out there. its so ironic for them to say they love music when what they like is just a few genres. learn to accept all music genres for what they are lah.

Thank you a million times to LiteFM for coming up with the idea of doing a countdown. all those songs really brought me back in time. back to my younger days when it was peaceful and stress-less. the songs also help me pull through this hard period during the semester. its a source of inspiration and support to me.

i would like to suggest that LiteFM compile all these songs in a CD or DVD. i give my word that i will be one of the first to snap the discs of the sales rack. i wont be alone thou coz i know there are alot of ppl out there who truly love music.

these are music that do not fade with time, they only get better and better with time. they are my companion thru times of hardship and challenge. they light my life. they give meaning to my otherwise meaningless life.

i'm in bliss~~~

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dr Mahathir Stops Supporting Najib (honey to my eyes)


PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has withdrawn his support for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to be Prime Minister.

In the past, the former Prime Minister had, countless times, openly said he wanted Najib to take over from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Prime Minister.

“I feel we should not pick who the replacement should be. We should give the opportunity to a number of people so that we can evaluate them whether it is Pak Lah, Najib or (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin).

“For now, I can’t say who (should replace Abdullah). Although I have said before it should be Najib, I don’t know why for ‘some reason’ I have now changed my mind,” he said at a packed “Umno Post 12th General Election: An Assessment” forum organised by

Dr Mahathir said the Cabinet and Umno supreme council were not relevant anymore because they were all just “yes” men to Abdullah.

He said those who tried to speak up were chastised for supposedly being disrespectful.

“They are then invited by the Prime Minister and given an explanation why they should agree with him,” he said, adding that their mouths were kept shut because they were afraid of losing their position and power.

He said Abdullah preferred to seek advice on government and party matters from “outsiders” such as family members including his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin rather than his own Cabinet and Umno supreme council members.

Speaking about the losses suffered by Barisan Nasional in the general election, Dr Mahathir said it was clear that the people, including Umno members, wanted Abdullah out.

Going back to history, he said Datuk Onn Jaafar, the founder of Umno, was a man of dignity as he quit the party when his idea of opening it up to non-Malays was rejected.

He noted that the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, also resigned shortly after the 1969 election when Barisan lost ground.

“He withdrew on his own accord without being chased out by anyone. These two leaders were sensitive and listened to the views of the people and acted accordingly,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said that, as Prime Minister for 22 years, he resigned respectably when he heard that people were questioning why “this old man” was staying for so long in the position.

He questioned why Abdullah was not prepared to do the same.

“Does he want to wait until Umno is destroyed?” he said.

Dr Mahathir also threw support behind Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s proposal for the party to hold an extraordinary general assembly to discuss the polls results, and urged members to speak out and reform the party.

Dr Mahathir’s son Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said he was inclined to support Najib if he were to vie for the Umno president’s post.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No Manners

What a stupid day it turned out to be for me today. After AW, we had psycholinguistic tutorial. i joined T1 bcoz i want to skip morphology_syntax tutorial later. toshiko being the straight and unbending person that she is got upset with me bcoz i joined T1. she said thats my problem if i wan to go back. i can't join T1. i was just about to pack and walk out when she secara "bosongnye" pass the T2 attendance for me to sign. damn la. i know its my fault but then can't u be nicer. few minutes later she scolded me for talking with anthony. that's stupid lah. i was discussing with him about the timetable issue. she had not even started her class. everyone talking also. she purposely aim me. so pissed damn pissed lah. feel like walking out of her class oni. damn la..dun wan talk about that d. naik darah aje.

later after we finished her class. tony, sharwin, sue sin and me went to KFC. very long nvr makan d. samore its the start of the new month. so i can splurge abit. when i parked my car. a super annoying thing happened. this malay fella in a kancil parked beside my car opened his door without caring whether there's anything nearby or not. he knocked into my car with his door with quite a loud thud. i went down and told him to be more careful and look next time. And you know what? he din even apologized or say sumthing nice. he just looked at me with his "bosong" facial expression and pulled his door back abit. I was super pissed d that time. then he walked off towards KFC and in the process jeling at me and mumble something with a very dissatisfied facial expression. that about did it for me. i so wanted to shout at him "eh, kalau berani cakap depan depan la, jng bisik bisik mcm pengecut!" The only thing that stopped me was another car passing by at that exact time at the drive thru area.

that malay guy wore a UM lanyard, which means he most probably is a UM student la. what has happened to the youth today la. no manners at all. wrong edi still wan to berlagak. i drove my car away and parked sumwhere else. i worry that later he might bang harder when he goes off. don't want to take the risk. Just spoiled my mood and my day oni. Went in to KFC after i parked sumwhere else. Tembung that stupid budak again and he jeling at me again. wtf lah, if wan to fight so much say so oni la. ARGH!!