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Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Travel Guide: Going to Hell in a Handbasket

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It's that time of year again when productivity drops a little, with the annual year-end holiday orgy: Hari Raya Haji (or Eid Adha, to be Arabically correct), then Christmas, then New Years...

Oh, yes - Eid Mubarrak to everyone celebrating the occassion yesterday. And Walski means everyone, without exception, unlike a certain self-righteous individual who shall remain unnamed, who makes sure his good wishes exclude those he doesn't like... oh, well... it's not a perfect world.

Walski's kinda been cut-off from the cyber world these past few days, no thanks to his Screamyx connection at home, and uber crappy connection in the office. So bad has the connection been that even checking/downloading e-mail became a daily frustration. The situation has only marginally improved, but improved enough to post this.

In any case, this is also the time of year when Walski is forced to take a few days off work to clear his leave, which will get wiped out without a trace, come January 2008. So, apart from two days next week when he has to brave the floodwaters of the East Coast, it's holidays till next year.

But this post is not about Walski, or his holidays, or how he's gonna spend his time off - which is really none of your damn business anyways... heh heh... Nope, it's about something else altogether. It's about how Malaysia is collectively going on a trip in a handbasket. A trip way, way down "South".

Before Walski delves more into this, however, allow him to digress a little. Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK, as he's popularly known), wrote an interesting, albeit disturbing, essay a couple of days ago. It concerns his soul-searching revolving around this interesting question: why does religion drive people to do bad things?

clipped from Malaysia Today

Religion is supposed to be good, not only Islam, but any religion for that matter. And that is what I went through during phase two, discovering religion. But if religion is good, then why are religious people bad? Why is it when I meet unreligious people or atheists, I see good people? And why when I meet orthodox religious people, I see bad people? Yes, that is what has been nagging me in this phase three of my life. If religion is good, then religious people should be good and unreligious people or atheists should be bad. But why is it the other way around? And this does not apply to only Muslims.

blog it

Do give the full article a read, when you get the chance. It does make you wonder why things are the way they are, and not the way they should be. Some of you ardent PAS supporters may think that this bad behavior in the name of Islam is solely due to BN's version of it. Well, the bad behavior that RPK talks about transcends political boundaries, to a certain extent.

Then, you have this interesting report, clipped from The Star. Notice the second portion (after the separator).

clipped from The Star

ELEVEN websites have so far been blocked for having obscene materials and seditious messages, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Dr Mohd Ruddin Abdul Ghani said.

Besides blocking the websites and blogs, he said the ministry has also drawn up long-term programmes in collaboration with CyberSecurity Malaysia to boost awareness on cyber security among computer buffs.

“However, the Cabinet will not obstruct the movement of information in the Internet because of the Bill of Guarantee, which promised free-flow of information when the Multimedia Super Corridor was first set up,” he said.

blog it

Interesting way of boldly proclaiming that we have gone against the MSC Bill of Guarantees (i.e. censorship) and almost in the same breath claiming that we haven't, and don't intend to.

Most people would call this arrogant hypocrisy - an essential travelling companion for a successful trip to Hell, in a comfy little handbasket.
(more hell and handbaskets, in the full post)

The latest website to be blocked is the controversial PoliceWatch Malaysia (hat-tip to ShadowFox) - probably because it dared to expose the wrongdoings of the police. Seditious? Only in the minds of the BN-controlled Government, especially now with the issues surrounding the IPCMC, and attempts to push through a diluted version, the SCC. Can't have online testimony of why the IPCMC, as originally intended, is something the nation sorely needs.

Offhand, Walski doesn't know which other websites have been blocked, but with the Government going fast into totalitarian mode, expect more sites to become inaccessible in the near future. And with each blockade, the mantra of "We Respect the MSC Bill of Rights" to be loudly chanted, over and over again.

Another thing that had been featured on the website in the past was Hindu temple demolitions in the past few years, primarily in Selangor and KL. Which brings us back to religion, unfortunately.

Malaysiakini reported yesterday that the Catholic Church publication Herald is facing problems renewing its annual permit to print - another wonderful facet of Malaysia's Parliamentary Totalitarianism.

Catholic weekly in quandary over permit
Dec 20, 07 12:52pm

The organ of the Catholic Church, Herald is facing problems in renewing its yearly publishing permit allegedly over the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the weekly’s Bahasa Malaysia section.

According to Church sources, the government is not happy with the use of the word ‘Allah’ by the weekly when referring to ‘God’ in Bahasa Malaysia.

The use of ‘Allah’ outside of Islam has previously stirred controversies in Malaysia. Four years ago, the Bible in Iban language was banned because it translated the word ‘God’ as Allah Taala, which resembles Islam’s name for God, ‘Allah’.

The ban was however lifted after protests from the Christian community.

blog it

Implicitly, this is another case where the Malaysian government has decided that Malaysian Muslims are truly stupid. In any case, this narrow view is par for the course - many books pertaining to Islam have been banned because they do not strictly follow the "written-in-stone" official version of Islam, as understood by Malaysia's Islamic bureaucracy.

The term Allah in the Middle East, for instance, is not exclusive to the Muslims. In Malaysia, however, Islam is fast becoming a rigid, bureaucratized, and stiffling institution. And the Muslims in Malaysia, funny enough, seem to be okay with this dumbing down. After all, as long as Islam is protected, being regarded as morons who can't think for themselves is a small sacrifice to make, right?

So, with these new developments, plus the numerous other "feel good" bad news that's been coming out of the press, Walski can't help it but feel a little disheartenend. Malaysia has degenerated into this, where only what the BN-controlled Government says has any credence, and any views to the contrary are, at best, disregarded. At worst, the proponents of these contrarian views are prosecuted, and sometimes detained without trial.

Malaysia, where democracy only happens once every four or five years. A guided democracy, where the democratic outcome is "guided" to suit the incumbent's ideal of continuous rule, without any commercial interruptions to disrupt their viewing pleasure. Any dissent is censored, suppressed, and, ultimately, ignored. Only the view of the ruling majority counts, and the rest of us can literally go to Hell.

Such a joy to be alive in these troubling times... totalitarianism, plus religious dumbing-down exclusivism, add to that a generous sprinkling of blatant hypocrisy and lies, plus a general feeling that things are going to get a lot worse, before they can even begin to hope to get any better...

Well, despite having time off, Walski has some errands to run, so this post ends here. And one of those errands is to go out and purchase all the items necessary to ensure that Walski's handbasket is as comfortable as it can be, for that almost inevitable trip down south...