Hornbill Unleashed

November 14, 2010

Where are we heading?

By Bunga Pakma

Who of you has read Melville’s great novel Moby Dick? It is not an impertinence to connect this book with Borneo. The Pequod’s cruise took her by the coast of Sarawak. A turtle-egg gatherer on Talang-Talang might have seen her hull-down in the offing.

In chapter 124 Capt. Ahab notes something amiss. He demands what course the helmsman is steering. The man at the tiller replies “East-sou-east,” and yet the sun is rising over the ship’s stern.

It proves that the strong electrical fields of a storm the night before have turned the compass, (more…)

October 17, 2010

Empowering Sarawakians through History, Part 3.

By Bunga Pakma

In the twilight days of 1941 Sarawak was a mess. Politics “happened” in a very small circle of very strange white people and what they got up to boggles the mind. If presented as fiction, readers would reject it as unbelievable. Once again, I point you to Bob Reece’s The Name of Brooke. Reece unravels the sordid tale with nigh miraculous clarity.

Vyner and his Constitution

Vyner had nothing on his mind but ensuring the comfort of his own ass and keeping his nephew Anthony, the heir-presumptive, as impotent as possible on the chance that the Raj should descend to him. (more…)

October 3, 2010

Empowering Sarawakians through History – Part 1

 

By Bunga Pakma

Everything points to elections being held in Sarawak sometime in the future, the near future or the far future no one can say. It is an odd kind of democracy that keeps the voters guessing. Americans can confidently reserve the first Tuesday in November for going to the polls. Britain’s system, through its openness, leaves no doubt about when a change of parliament will happen. Here in Malaysia elections are treated by the ruling clique as another “gift” to the people which they grant (or not) as they see fit.

Wong Teck Chi in Malaysiakini on September 30 has reminded us that in Bakun, knowledge is power. Taib and his pals have maintained their power by, among other means, denying the power of knowledge to Sarawakians, by limiting the flow of information to a trickle, and confining that trickle to approved channels. This is not that hard. Urban voters can be kept in line through control of the public media through BN ownership, the Printing Presses Act and a climate of fear that encourages self-censorship even in coffee shop chat. (more…)

September 27, 2010

Getting Along in Malaysia

By Bunga Pakma

The path of my thoughts is leading me to higher regions. I only hope the trail doesn’t at last toss me off a cliff.

Along with hunger, sex, pain, death and the eternal struggle for a living, the uncertainty of whether human beings get along together or don’t get along together is a basic fact of our troubled existence. All these decades I have been watching how races, religions and classes have fought one another throughout the world and in our own country. It seemed to be a good time to step back and ponder the nature of intolerance and tolerance.

Malaysian public life is a spectacle of squabbling as unending and invasive as the roar of Malaysian traffic. We ignore the constant noise as best we can, but today I woke up to just how loud and irritating it is. I have come, metaphorically, out to the quiet back of the garden to think. (more…)

September 4, 2010

Sarawak Noir

By Bunga Pakma

If there were instruments for measuring the level of ambient paranoia—something like the scanner the crew employs inGhostbusters—I have no doubt that the needle on the dial would be red-lining about now.  Edward Gibbon’s words about history work well enough to describe the news here in Malaysia, as little more than a “register of crimes, follies, and misfortunes,” and I need not list what these are. We’ve got everything from baby-dumping to fraud at any scale you want up to massive.

Several pieces of news this past week, however, point to something rather different. They all concern the issue of freedom of expression.

On Friday 27 August Bernama reported that Puteri UNMO were calling for “stern action”  to be taken against rapper Namewee for a video in which he satirized a teacher who was said to have uttered racist remarks to her students. Monday 30 August the Sarawak Tribune published as front page news a Bernama wire service report speculating on Taib’s reasons for making noises about stepping down.

(more…)

July 3, 2010

“Hubris feeds the tyrant”

By Bunge Palma

Last week’s piece I began to write at hazard. On looking at it again as I sit down to the keyboard this Friday, I feel surprised at myself as I read the conclusion, in which I voiced my sense that some terrible destiny was waiting to be born in Sarawak. What can I call this but a prophecy? And I have no idea where this idea first came from. I didn’t intend to think it out, yet as I wrote along I was led to a strong and uncanny foreboding.

In that fortuitous insight—if insight it be; we can call a prophecy a prophecy only after it has been fulfilled—I described the direction I felt events were taking as a “Greek tragedy” whose protagonist and author was our Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud. (more…)

May 1, 2010

Mayday, mayday…

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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By Bunga Pakma

It’s the First of May. Long live the revolution of the Workers and People!…..  uh, whenever that may possibly happen. The “official” May Day has been decreed by the State, and the “official” revolutions in the name of the workers and people so far have actually been arranged by vicious little élites whose main interest was to get into power and stay there. A hundred years ago, leftist politics flourished and many people to subscribed one, another, or several shades of a broad variety. Red wasn’t the only colour; the Left shone in a whole rainbow of opinions. There were as many shades of Leftist theories, approaches and ideals as sample-chips at a paint shop.

WWI and the Bolshevik revolution and the unbelievable destruction and misery they wrought wakened the forces of reaction and hardened them. The cruellest paradox is that the states set up by leaders claiming to promote socialism and communism turned out to be authoritarian régimes of unprecedented control and brutality. The Left was co-opted into its opposite. Time does change things. Pictures of Mao hang everywhere, but I have heard China often described by commentators as the “least socialist country in the world.”

(more…)

April 24, 2010

Hulu Selangor, What a Mess!

By Bunga Pakma

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons 11 November 1947

On Sunday the people of Hulu Selangor go to the polls to choose a new MP.

You knew that already.

We have been inundated with news, propaganda and commentary. I was curious to look up the word “news” in the great big Oxford English Dictionary and I was not surprised that from the word’s first appearance, news has simply meant “stuff that happens,” and that if it is not qualified with some positive adjective, such as “good” or “happy” the word generally means “bad news.” Consider the modern proverb: Sh*t happens.

(more…)

March 7, 2010

Proud Sarawak natives will defend their identity

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Bunga Pakma

You have heard, Reader, I am sure, of occasions when it has rained frogs. I mean that literally.  Every now and again, a rainstorm passes over some part of the world, and frogs fall out of it.

It sure has been raining frogs here.  One wonders what power of suction whisked them up and off from their ponds and then dumped them on the roadside.  If Aesop were still around, I’m sure he’d be glad to favour us with a fable about our ranapluent climate, but you’ll have to make do with my own.

Another popular myth describes a frog in a container of cool water. The water is heated ever so slowly; the frog does not sense the rise in temperature and boils to death without moving.  Fables don’t have to have a moral, so I won’t give one. I do think though that as frogs can’t survive without water—they live in it—politicians have to live in an electorate.  They can take the hint, and that’s all I’m going to say. (more…)

February 27, 2010

Malaysian CNY…Politics as usual

Filed under: Human rights,Legal,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Bunga Pakma

“I was in Philadelphia once, but it was closed.”

—attributed to W. C. Fields.

The week before CNY was chock-a-block with work that exhausted me. Every duty was a last-minute demand. I filed my piece on the Friday and hoofed my way home and put a big pot of chili con carne on the fire for the hungry teens I was to put up for the holidays.  Then I wilted, and looked forward with relish to the prospect of doing nothing for a while.

Saturday nothing happened. I slept through the midnight fireworks. Sunday even less than nothing happened. Traffic vanished. A little old lady could have crossed Jalan Ampang on foot any time she pleased.

Monday nothing happened. My son and his friends had played as much on the computer they could take. The sun burned and the frightfully intense heat had killed all appetite. By afternoon I had three half-naked 18-year-olds prostrate on the marble floor of the house, the ceiling-fan roaring on full. They looked like shipwrecked sailors drifting in a lifeboat somewhere in the endless ocean. They draw breath slowly, with sighs. Involuntary tears trickle from their eyes.  One tries in vain to rise. He sinks back to the floor and feebly waves his limbs like the metamorphosized Gregor Samsa.

(more…)

February 13, 2010

Gong Xi Fa Cai – Start Everyday Anew

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Bunga Pakma

Fate, or Heaven— 天 —has so decreed that I file my weekly piece for Hornbill Unleashed on the eve of the Year of the Tiger. That Heaven so honours me, a non-Chinese, with the task setting the tone for the holidays on our blog is a little tiny honour, but an honour nonetheless. Today, when the moon at noon is a few hours short of meeting the sun, people all over Malaysia and the world are disengaging themselves from the toil, struggle and grime of secular affairs and preparing for renewal.

Politics and disasters never stop, yet it would be most inappropriate, even blasphemous, for me to write about politics now. When the year turns over, it is human nature to think about what has passed and to hope for good things in the future. On the one hand, the New Year is a time for throwing out the old crap, for sweeping, tidying and disposing of useless rubbish, both physically and in a metaphorical sense.

On the other hand, thinking good and auspicious thoughts does indeed help good things happen.  The New Year bids us to ask ourselves—without fooling or kidding ourselves—What do we really want? If we refine our wills and put our hearts in the right place, we feel confidence our efforts will make a different, and good things enjoy a better chance of succeeding. (more…)

February 6, 2010

Avatar – Attack of Aperçu

By Bunga Pakma

Many months ago we hired Nuim to do some repair and construction in the house.  Nuim is our relative in one of those convoluted Sarawakian ways (Mrs. Pakma says, “He’s my grandmother’s cousin’s son’s nephew” or something), but more important, he’s a highly skilled artisan.  He can build you a house from the foundation to the roofing, complete with plumbing, wiring, and kitchen cabinets.

I was working nearby on my own chores and when Nuim got into some process that involved moving heavy, bulky things, I thought I’d give him a hand.  I’m afraid all I did was to get in the way. Nuim remarked, without malice, “You know, B.P., I do something ten seconds before you think of it.”

Nuim put his finger on a trait of my character I constantly overlook.  Thinking is, in a sense, my profession, and thinking is indeed an excellent thing, but ratiocination is hardly the only way to live and certainly not as lofty as it’s cracked up to be.  We ought to remember Hamlet, who dithers about the propriety of revenge for four and a half acts and only does something when the king is clearly trying to kill him. For example… (more…)

January 31, 2010

A Letter from SATAN

By Bunga Pakma

The following I found in my in-box not ten minutes ago, with urgent instructions to forward the content on to Hornbill Unleashed. I considered the authour of these lines, a more potent ruler than any upon the surface of this earth, and judged it best to comply with his wishes—unsavoury a character though he be—in the interest of revealing his policy and machinations to all.   —- Bunga Pakma ****

Dear Bunga Pakma,

I condescend thus to address your insignificance, but perhaps you can do me a good turn by arranging this letter to be published in Hornbill Unleashed.  If I were to tender it to your Utusan or NST, I am afraid their editors might slight me or castrate my prose.  Me, me!  The Prince of the Powers of the Air!

Yes. You’re not that dumb.  This is Old Nick here, Beelzabub (“Lord of the Flies” for the dummies among you wretched mortals), Lucifer, the Devil, Iblis.  May I remind you, and through you my proper title is SATAN, “the accuser.” I am Yahweh’s/God’s/Allah’s prosecuting attorney. Didn’t I do a nice job with that fellow Job? (more…)

January 23, 2010

308, cow-head, Allah and wiser Malaysians

By Bunga Pakma

I am writing this week because nothing happened.  You may ask, am I serious? “Just look what happened in the past week! More churches have had incendiaries thrown at them, then a mosque was and yesterday two surau were attacked with fire.  That’s nothing?”

Yes, a kind of nothing.  Serious damage was done only to one church, and no one has been injured.  I am thankful for the absence of damage. More so, I am thankful for what never happened. Nobody rioted. No screaming and frenzied crowds came out in the streets to revenge themselves on each other, to kill each other and to wreak more damage that reciprocates damage.  For forty-one years Malaysians have had to live with the dread of violence and chaos. We know too well that the régime has never let us forget the threat.  Indeed, the governing-clique has done its best to inculcate the fear into the Malaysian psyche so that, when the moment is right, a mere suggestion to this barely-conscious dread will cause the populace to shiver and quail with terror.

(more…)

January 16, 2010

Democracy in Action. Reader Discretion Advised.

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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By Bunga Pakma

“Primary school pupils have not achieved the maturity required to select the best candidate for contested posts. They will go for candidates who are popular rather than capable, a situation only too familiar to reality show contestants.” —[Chok Suat Ling, in the editorial page of the New Straits Times for 14 January 2010.]

*****

[SCENE: A coffeeshop about half a kilometre from an old-established and respected secondary school. It’s after five p.m. Seven students are sitting around a marble table under the fan, some facing kopi susu, some fizzy drink.  Three of them are “of age.” All are in mufti, open shirts.  They talk quietly. They have English as their common (and saltiest) language. Half of them smoke cigarette after cigarette.]

“Hey, Ahmad, not to worry-lah! You got pangkat Prefect in Lower Six. You shoe-in for next term!” Ramli had raised his voice a bit.

(more…)

January 9, 2010

BN stirred up the controversy over “Allah”

By Bunga Pakma

I began to write this piece Thursday morning, 36 hours before my deadline.  As my subject I chose the controversy over the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims. More and more people have been taking notice of this affair, which started as a legal contest, rose to a quarrel, and now poses a grave threat to the peace of the nation.

My draft yesterday ended with an expression of fear that in the space of a night events might render my comments worthless. Sadly, events have proved the reasonableness of my fear. Three churches have been fire-bombed. Mercifully, no one was hurt.

The “Allah”  controversy by now is everyone’s topic, and nearly the only topic before the public. To this torrent of commentary I wish briefly to add a few words.

The proverb says that the first casualty of a war is Truth. Now that dispute has left words behind and gone straight to violence, there’s little hope that fact and reason can prevail against ignorance and malice. Nonetheless, two main points must not be forgotten. (more…)

January 2, 2010

Auld Lang Syne, (or) Ngingat ka’ Utai Kelia’

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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By Bunga Pakma

Happy new year to you, dear Reader!  Or, perhaps I should be more specific and say this mouthful: Happy Observance of the first day of the solar calendar established by Julius Caesar and refined under Pope Gregory XIII!

I wouldn’t doubt that every day in Earth’s swing around the sun is New Year’s Day to somebody, somewhere on the planet.  Even the Maya reckoning is now famous because of all those silly rumours of disaster in 2012.  In Malaysia we celebrate 1 January; then Chinese New Year on the second new moon after the winter solstice; then the Śaka new year on the spring equinox.  The Islamic calendar is purely lunar, so 1st Muharram wanders backwards through the solar year.  And let’s not forget the Rice-Year observed by Dayaks, once when they got the harvest in, and now gazetted as 1 June.  Gawai cards often carry the message “Selamat Taun Baru.”

The more the merrier.  This morning I woke late, slightly crapulous, and went to sit on the porch here in PJ. The town was profoundly quiet. Traffic noise made the faintest whisper in the distance and birdsong filled the foreground.  I nearly fell asleep once again as I listened, such was the peace. Even now, at noon, the burung tekukur and burung semalau are the nearest presence to my ears. (more…)

December 27, 2009

An Iban political fable

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Bunga Pakma

Many of us are now in “python mode,”  digesting our Christmas meals.  This is no time for anything except quality entertainment.  I’m giving you a story I translated into English from Iban a long time ago. The authour is Mr Andria Ejau, who wrote the first Iban novel.  Andria Ejau died in 1989.

This story was published in 1968 as a children’s book, with lots of illustrations, by the excellent Borneo Literature Bureau.  It’s a political fable.  I have learned that the Orang Asli also tell this story.  I believe this story will resonate as true among Urban folk as well as Forest folk.

*********

Aji Bulan, The Moon Rat

The Meeting.

(more…)

December 6, 2009

My inner novel: imagining Malaysia

By Bunga Pakma

The rain is coming down outside my office window.  I see the drops hitting the surface of puddles and raising, without much enthusiasm, short-lived rings that spread and vanish into one another and are obliterated by the next falling meteor.  The covering sky sheens dully like tarnished aluminium; through the tinted window it more resembles lead.  Inside, the mechanically cooled air sits on my skin with a chill.

It’s December.  The Gregorian year is hurtling towards its end and its rebirth. The schools are empty.  Christians are celebrating Advent and the expectation of Christmas, and retail merchants are hoping for a spike in sales, for consumption, given any excuse, is a religion open to all.

As the days pass in Malaysia one gets a strange sense of seasons passing in review.  The past two weeks have brought us baking sun that has lifted the thermometer over 40º, thunderstorms of apocalyptic fury, and today, winter as far as we can be said to experience winter.  It’s an indoor day, and a nice hot bowl of laksa strikes one as just the thing for lunch.

Events in the public sphere seem now and again to doze as if hibernating in fits.  We haven’t suffered a political thunderstorm in a while, and the torrent of news has slowed to a drizzle.  Meantime it’s all water, and we still get wet. (more…)

November 28, 2009

Happy 10th anniversary, Malaysiakini!

By Bunga Pakma

Malaysiakini has turned ten.  Every Malaysian netizen knows well just how much we all owe Steven Gan, Premesh Chandran, and all their colleagues.  Before M’siakini we were a people walking in darkness—I prophesy that history will one day reveal many, many dread deeds that never made it into print, when print was all we had.  M’siakini was the first light that dawned on us.  Let the light rise and shine bright!

This evening a whole bunch of good people will sit down to dinner and celebrate.  It’s a chance for loyal subscribers— a paper is only as good as its readers—to feel good about themselves, too.  My piece today pays tribute to M’siakini and all brave writers.

The pen is mightier than the sword?  In one sense, absolutely.  Has anyone ever drawn a sword, picked up a rock, hurled a fist—or a bomb—without plenty of words having prepared the way?  I am not referring to propaganda.  Books have started wars.  Hitler laid out his entire programme clearly in Mein Kampf and the book convinced enough Germans that the Nazi party and unlimited aggression were good things.

(more…)

November 21, 2009

“bait and switch.”

Filed under: Alternatives,Education,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Bunga Pakma

Are you hooked, reader?  The title and first line of an article should be bold, striking, catching your attention, piquing your interest, whetting your appetite, giving you a thirst for more.  Starting a piece can be the hardest part of it to a writer, and it helps you, the reader, and me, the scribbler, to begin with something completely irrelevant to the body-topic.  One Dayak blogger whose short thoughts I enjoy prints pictures of pretty young ladies in short shorts and tops before his postings, and headlines them “Two Guinness stouts give you better sex!” and things like that. Then he follows with a report of the state of the drains this landas.  The technique is known as “bait and switch.”

Sigh.  I’m learning the hard way that sensationalism and burning passion drives more journalism—and more types of journalism—than I had ever imagined. And right now I’m plumb out of sensations. It’s time for some reflection.

After a puzzling drought of mail, I finally got the 2 Nov. issue of the New Yorker, the most literate and intelligent magazine in America that still can be called “popular.”  Elizabeth Kolbert ( Photo top right )contributed a thoughtful article on the way errors, lies, and distortions enter Cyberspace and won’t go away.  This had been on my mind for some time. Why, I’ve always wondered, if half of people is for something, anything, the other half is always against it?  Pak Bui’s recent article here raised the subject in my consciousness, Kolbert’s put it to the fore.

(more…)

October 11, 2009

Writing about political garbage

By Bunga Pakma

ce426e9fb31302fb_landingIt’s a pleasure to come to the keyboard to confect my thousand words for the Hornbill Unleashed this week as every week.  I am proud to be in such distinguished company and to have such discerning readers before whom I can set my thoughts, whatever they are worth.

The American comic writer S. J. Perelman, a stringent perfectionist in his strange little fictions, hardly produced 1k words per week.  His motto was “Easy writing makes hard reading.” While I do wish writing were easier—among the other pains of writing is having to sit in one place for hours—I will never allow anything but my best to hit the Web, and that means work. There’s no other way. As another writer says, “You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”

Every occupation has its peculiar difficulties. I’ve been fortunate to avoid Writer’s Block, yet each week I face the other bugaboo that plagues us scribes: What on earth am I going to write about? I won’t write garbage, but the secular garbage has been piling up outside my door.  I ask you, what can one write about garbage? Today my offering may be merely ornamental but perhaps I can turn this common complaint into a theme. (more…)

October 3, 2009

A Sarawakian, by whatever colour

Filed under: Alternatives,Media/Press — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:03 AM
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By Bunga Pakma

070508-F-0500P-004During Raya my son came up from his college to spend the holidays at my little house.  He brought with him a guest.  Both my son and his friend are Sarawakians, and it made sense for them to save airfare by numpang-ing with me for a week rather than spend money and endure the crush.  I know this young man’s parents, not well, but well enough to do them a favour.

Let’s call the boy Gary.  Gary’s mother is a Sarawakian, a Dayak; his father is an American.  The father had his first experience of Sarawak long ago in the Peace Corps days.  As a young man he was posted here to teach, and he taught a variety of subjects in a variety of places both outstation and in Kuching, which at the time could hardly be called “urban” in today’s sense.

He went back to the US and trained as an engineer in a specialised field that took him to many regions of the world, including Sarawak.  There he met up again with a former lady student of his, (more…)

September 26, 2009

Race, Discourse and Diversity

By Bunga Pakma

circle-inclusionAs was one of the commentators, I too was surprised at the eruption of the first real ruckus in Hornbill Unleashed, “unleashed,” one might say, by the article “Help the hungry Penans” [22 Sept].  This altercation in words has not amounted to an all-out “flame war”—pace said commentator—but it comes close.  Certainly neither the vehemence of responses to that article nor those many thumbs-down (a boo-ing in uncanny silence) have been seen before in this blog.

Hornbill Unleashed was founded as a site for civil discussion.  We have common enemies enough and our anger is justly directed at them.  These enemies are the epidemic vices that infect and corrupt our lives and which have made our government a grasping tyranny—greed, apathy, prejudice, arrogance, pride, contempt and so many more.  When vices are institutionalized as the foundation of the State, many of the rest of us feel permitted to practise them ourselves.  Corruption at the top metastasizes like a cancer and spreads to destroy lives and relations even at the kampong level.  On the converse, good qualities are also self-reinforcing.  Malaysia will rise out of the mire only when enough citizens resolve that, whatever the big-shots do, whatever dirt is promoted by the media, they themselves will be damned to hell before they foul their souls with the same viciousness.

Actually, I like a good verbal battle.  It gets the pulse racing.  Yet, in the interests of maintaining the “tone” of HU, so that the sparring doesn’t go beyond Queensbury rules, I’d like to do a little rhetorical analysis.

(more…)

September 18, 2009

The Story of K

By Bunga Pakma

ramadhan-uyRamadhan is drawing to a close, the moon is coming to her rendezvous with the sun, to reappear soon and bring us Eid Al-Fitri.  Once the festivities have quieted down, poor Ms. Kartika will report to prison, where a specialist will thwack her six times with a rotan in the interest of her education.

Indignity after indignity has been heaped on Ms Kartika, and in respect to her, I shall not print her name further. Among these indignities, perhaps the most sordid is a thing which the outer world well knows but here in Malaysian discourse is conspicuous by its absence, the proverbial “elephant in the room.”  Have the Malaysian authorities, have the Syariah judge Abdul Rahman Mohd Yunos and lawyers realized that they have crafted a lurid pornographic entertainment for the lascivious men and women, straight, gay and lesbian, of whole world?

When it comes to the variety of sexual practices and fantasies, I doubt there are many innocents in Malaysia or elsewhere, though I’m sure many Malaysians keep an anxious hold on their thoughts and imaginings.  In the interest of education, let us examine the nature of this spectacle. (more…)

September 12, 2009

Education

Filed under: Education,philosophy — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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education

”  Today I can hand over the controls to someone else.  He’s an old friend, also teaching in a certain institution of higher learning (not mine), and we often compare ideas and exchange hints.  He’s been involved in academia without break all the while I had been whacking the bushes, and his experience has been of great value to me. I groused to him recently, and here’s how he replied. “

-  Bunga Pakma -

*.-*.-*.-*.-*.-*.-*.-*.-*.-*.-*

Dear Bunga Pakma,

Why can’t I more briefly call you “Pak” or “’Ma”, or “Bung”? Alas,“Bung” is Javanese and I already have a Pak and a Mak, hehehehe!  But seriously four syllables are too many for your name, friend, at the head of a letter.

This morning I brought up the BBC on my laptop, and not long into the news I heard that Pres. Obama had made a speech to children on their first day of school, and that Conservatives had screamed that he was “indoctrinating” their little kids with “evil socialist lies.” Such as, you can’t get something for nothing, you’ve got to work for what you want, and that to fail yourself is to fail your country, stuff my father taught me.  You know Americans pretty well. What is it with these people?  If the right-wing nut-cases number to match the attention they’re getting, I’m worried. (more…)

August 29, 2009

On Merdeka, the nation-state, the Brookes, and endo-colonialism

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 5:47 AM
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by Bunga Pakma

231823932_8277e9e239Merdeka Day 2009 comes in under a cloud.  In one sense literally—the Haze creeps back in though damped by the rains of the past week.  Figuratively, what could be gloomier than the cloud of events we have been enduring since July?  We are no closer to finding out the circumstances of poor Mr. Teoh’s death at this point in the investigation than at its beginning.  More people than myself recognize in this delay a tried and true tactic in the organized burying of truth.

0013729e48090bfc44940fMalaysia has been publicised around the globe for one bigot’s decision to have a Muslim woman caned for drinking beer. No, she didn’t get totally pissed, rev up her Pajero, and skid into a crowded night-market and kill 30 people. It is a peculiarity of Malaysian justice that it likes to make major examples out of petty offences. (more…)

July 11, 2009

Letter from Semenanjung? Notes from Nowhere?

Filed under: Education,Uncategorized — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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By Bunga Pakma

the earth’ rotation at a thousand miles per hourEven as we lie asleep in our beds or sit in our chairs we are moving, carried by the earth’s rotation at a thousand miles per hour. Then too, we all ride on the earth as it swings around the sun, the sun orbits the center of our galaxy, and the galaxy itself is moving out from some unknown centre.

We do not merely directly observe the first two of these grand circles, the deepest part of our beings are directly tuned to them.  A rhythm of day and night cycles inside us, and the seasons of the year touch instincts in us in the tropics or the higher latitudes just as they do in animals

So one might say that the normal condition of life, whether we like it or not, is motion.  That life is a voyage is one of the oldest metaphors. (more…)

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