Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bersih 3

[I don't intend to turn this into a political blog but below is something I wrote on 28 April 2012, after I attended a political rally called Bersih 3. The photo above is of the crowd I found myself smack right in the middle of on that fateful day. I really must revisit the scene of the event that haunts me until now.]

At around 2 pm, I was near the Masjid Jamek LRT station along Jalan Tun Perak. There were so many people, it was very difficult to cross the road. Furthermore, many were sitting. People like Ambiga, Nurul, Hishamuddin Rais and that ABU guy were giving speeches on top of a car. Eventually they decided to challenge the Dataran lockdown. So the people started moving towards the Dataran, along side the car. Anwar and Azizah had arrived by then. I was caught in the middle of the river of people and couldn't get out even if I had wanted to. We didn't know what was happening in front where people were cheering and clapping. Then the signal came to move back. As we were retreating the FRU opened up with tear gas. The road was packed, so how fast could you move? Poom! A round. We were getting squeezed tighter and tighter. Poom! Another round! There was a Malay couple in their late 50s in front of me. If someone pushed me an inch, I had to push them an inch. There was no give! I was trying desperately to keep my balance and not to trample the old folk. The gas was drifting over and people were starting to cough and choke. I was coughing too. Poom! Another round! I started to curse! Fucking FRU could at least give the people time to disperse!

I don't know how I managed to get out of there. And I don't know how many people were injured or killed. I was walking and walking with hundreds of people and somehow ended up at the Bukit Nenas monorail station! Must have been really disoriented!

[I had emerged from the crush above without my camera and backpack. One moment they were there, the next moment they were gone. I don't think anyone deliberately stole them from me. We were all just struggling to get away from the teargas. I didn't mention this before, in case my stuff were picked up by the cops after the rally.]


This is an freakish incident that happened to me during my university days back in Sydney.

I was walking up a flight of the stairs in a block of apartments one sunny day when I came across a Malaysian student on the landing just above me trying to get into his flat. He was trying to push the door in while someone on the other side was pushing out. I remember the student saying, "Come on, stop fooling around and let me in!" Suddenly the door sprang open and a burglar dashed out of the flat and down the stairs. He banged into my shoulder and quickly disappeared! Small guy - must have been a Lebanese.

That was my unique close encounter - of the third kind? - with a living breathing burglar!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Description of the Chinese

One the subject of national character, here is an interesting passage about the Chinese from a book that was published in 1942! It's Han Suyin's Destination Chungking.

It is not strange that in a time of governmental impotence such opportunists set up each his own sphere of dominion and fought, each with his neighbour, to extend his sovereignty. What is strange and a matter of admiration and wonder is that, throughout the era of the warlords, China still considered herself one nation - was one nation, undivided in spirit. Her people were united as a people. Except in time of active fighting in some limited area, people passed freely from one region to another, and education spread, and gradually the idea of a Republic of China penetrated past all barrier and through all classes of society. So strong was this inner consciousness of "one people under heaven", as the old Chinese proverb states it, that even the most despotic of the warlords paid their respects to it. Some kind of national government persisted for diplomatic and educational purposes. No warlord ever seceded from China. Each still considered his private kingdom as a section of one nation, to be united politically in good time (preferably under himself as emperor or the equivalent). And regardless of the rivalries of her petty masters, China - the people - remained unperturbed by any sectional hatred, consciously one race, one people, under a government temporarily somewhat disjointed.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Koreans in the Vietnam War

I stopped blogging for two years in order to concentrate on some other work. I think it's a good time to start again.

One of the reasons I like reading war stories is because I can get glimpses into the minds of people from the way they react to difficult and often even extreme circumstances. How people fight in wartime can reveal a lot about how the same people will likely behave in peacetime. Here's an example from the book Chickenhawk by Robert Mason.

We were camped on an old ARVN rifle range near the village of Phu Cat, next to route 1. About a thousand ROKs from the Korean Tiger Division surrounded us as our security. That was nice because the ROKs (from the Republic of Korea) were devout killers. They spent their dawns beating each other up just for fun.

When I had first dealt with the Koreans at Bong Son valley, I was impressed by their zeal. When we drove by the Korean bridge guards, they jumped to attention with a shout. When we were mortared, the Koreans were the ones who came back to the camp carrying VC heads and the mortar tube. From the first time I saw them, I thought we'd be better off just giving the Koreans the country, if they could take it. They probably would've.
At Tuy Hoa, we flew missions for the Koreans. At the pickup point, Gary and I watched five or six Korean rangers load our ship with food and ammo in less than a minute. Very few Koreans spoke English, so when the ship was loaded, a young soldier ran out to us and gave us a slip of paper with a list of coordinates written on it. The soldier saluted and left. We were to fly to these places and they would know what to do.
At the first stop, the ship was barely on the ground when a whole team of Koreans unloaded their portion of the load in seconds. No words were spoken. At the next stop, the same thing happened. And the next. By eleven o'clock in the morning, we had finished a resupply mission that would have taken us all day had we been resupplying Americans.
All the Korean ROKs were hand-picked, highly trained volunteers. They were dedicated professionals who took the job seriously and because they were performing under the watchful eyes of their original teachers, they were out to prove their abilities. They did.

Monday, 13 June 2011

More Than Meets the Eye

Or why I am not an atheist. The following are a few questions I ask MYSELF (so atheists need not get their knickers in a knot). One must question everything, as famous scientist Michio Kaku likes to say.

1) How did living things emerge from non-living things? I haven’t seen any satisfactory explanation from scientists. (I do read science magazines, by the way.)

2) How did we get from simple single-cell organisms to complex organisms like the human being? Evolving from extreme simplicity to mind-boggling complexity indicates direction. Can direction be achieved without guidance? Can an American missile hit an Iraqi tank in the middle of the desert without some guidance system? The evolutionists will immediately jump up and say that with a billion missiles in a billion years, we are bound to hit the tank one day. To which I will respond, why is it so blooming important to hit that tank anyway? And how do we know we have hit the tank without a feedback system? Scientists will reply that there is a system and it’s called Natural Selection, supposedly based on trial and error. What they are really saying is that Father Evolution is doing the selecting and not God. It’s just a name change, basically.

3) What happened to the fossil records? Let’s assume there are only 6 steps in the evolution from ape to man (which is a gross over-simplification). We start with 100% ape. Step 1: 5/6 ape, 1/6 man. Step 2: 4/6 ape, 2/6 man … Step 5: 1/6 ape, 5/6 man. Step 6: 100% man. If the change occured gradually over millions of years, where is all the evidence? It took archaeologists years and years to find the “missing link”. What we have a lot of are fully-formed fossils of all creatures and hardly any in-between ones. Why?

4) Is it possible or plausible for DNA to form the way scientists tell us? We got millions of cells in our bodies. These cells are so small we need microscopes to see them. Yet most of them contain DNA. DNA is like the detailed architecture, mechanical, electrical, civil and structural drawings for constructing a building. The human body is infinitely more complex than any building on earth. All this information - written in an elaborate code that requires super computers to decipher - is packed into a cell so small we can’t see it with the naked eye. Is evolution a good explanation?

5) How did nature managed to achieve ecological balance without guidance, when man has only caused massive environmental damage with our brilliant minds?

6) This one’s from CS Lewis. Where did our sense of fair play come from? When a bird gets eaten by a snake, does it lament about how unfair the world is?

I really have no answers for the questions above. But they do point me in a certain direction.