Hornbill Unleashed

December 29, 2010

End of the year 2010, what is there to celebrate in ushering in a New Year?

Sim Kwang Yang

IN a few days’ time, on January 1, 2011, we shall witness the end of the year 2010.

I admit that, in the long winding river of history, the end of another decade is just another arbitrary cut off point. Still, it feels like a useful excuse for us to look back the last 10 years, and scour our memory for the most significant events that have changed our human history.

Even the study of history is subjective. The nation-state is still the most basic unit for our political organisation.

Since history is the collective memory of a nation-state, historical reflection tends to be nation-centric. But I shall make a deliberate conscious attempt at looking at the world in the last 10 years from a global point of view, subjective though I may be still.

Looking back many decades later, this first decade of the 21st century may look as ordinary as any other decade in the past — mundane, and even difficult to summarise. But I doubt it, sensing somehow that we have turned a corner of sort, rippling towards uncharted territory in the decades ahead.

The event of the decade has to be the 9/11 attack on American soil in 2001.

It was the first act of war on American home soil after the Pearl Harbour attack by the Japanese in 1941. It must have shaken the American people’s complacency to the core, because the American military responses in Afghanistan and Iraq were obviously ill-planned paranoiac over-reactions, which the Americans may yet live to regret.

The al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden were master tacticians in choosing the targets with hugely symbolic meanings. Except for the one plane that crashed in futility somewhere in Pennsylvania, two planes destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre and one hit Pentagon, the twin symbols of American capitalism and American militarism. There is a historical twist to this story.

Al-Qaeda grew out of the Afghan insurgence when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Soon after the Soviet occupation, Osama bin Laden travelled to Afghanistan to organise and train the Mujahideen and form the Maktab al- Khisdamat to resist the Soviet invaders, with financial and other forms of assistance from the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

The nine-year war ended with the defeat of the Soviet Union, whose last troops withdrew on February 15, 1989. The war almost bankrupted the Soviet Communist regime, and by a congruence of historical forces at work, communist rule in all Warsaw Pact East European countries collapsed, and the Berlin Wall came crashing down in 1989.

After the Soviets left, the Americans lost their interest and turned their global attention elsewhere. Afghanistan sank into civil war with the Talibans dominating local politics while harbouring Osama bin Laden as their closest ally.

Osama then turned his attention to the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia and American foreign policies, especially on the plight of the Palestinians and the American support for Israel. He pronounced his first Fatwa against the Americans in 1996, the year when the mastermind of the 9/11 attack Khalid Sheikh Mohamad first proposed the idea of the bold terrorist assault on American soil to him.

Looking back, 9/11 was the necessary watershed that diverted the world onto a different direction.

With the communist bloc gone, the old bifurcated world of the Cold War was no more.

International politics cannot endure a vacuum, and so the 9/11 enabled the US to launch onto a new confrontation between the Christian West and the Islamic World. Samuel Huntington’s theory in the 1990s proposed in his book ‘The Clash of Civilisations’ that people’s clash of religious or cultural identities would be the source of world conflict in the post Cold War era had become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Since 9/11, the horrible terrorist suicide attacks have become the norm in countries with Islamic insurgency.

They have become the hallmark of extreme fundamentalist Islamic militancy, in Iraq, in Palestine, Indonesia, and now in Pakistan and India. Thank God we don’t have them in Malaysia!

Fortunately for the world, there is no shortage of many voices in both Christian and Islamic worlds that try to explain from the margin that both the Christian and the Islamic worlds are not monolithic homogeneous societies. The groups of Christian and Islamic nations are all very complex entities, with their internal contradictions and dogmatic diversity.

It would be wrong to think that all Christians and all Muslims are the same. In international forums, countries cited for moderate Islam are Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia, and even United Arab Emirates.

Unfortunately, extreme political Islam still rages on in too many countries, giving people of the world the wrong impression that Islam is not a religion of peace, but of war! The religious polarisation of the world is unfortunately very much rooted in history.

The 10 crusades launched by the combined forces of the Mediterranean Christian powers on vast Muslim territories from Andalus, Morocco, Turkey to Palestine from 1099 to 1369 left a deep scar in the relations between the Christian and the Islamic worlds.

Then, in the last few hundred years of Western imperialism, the European superpowers conquered much of these vast Islamic territories in the Middle East, reducing them to colonies and vassal states.

After WW2, when it became obvious that Western colonialism was no longer a viable option, the Western powers just created nations on the map as they pleased, without regard to history, natural boundaries, culture, or traditions, thereby sowing the seeds for acrimonious international conflicts later. Israel was just such one creation, and Iraq was another.

In fact, all the major conflicts in the first decade of the new millennium have their roots in the last few centuries. It is frightening to think that the one lesson we learn from history is that human beings never do learn from history!

There are many significant events that have happened in the last 10 years of course, and you can make your own list.

For instance, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games deserves mention, not only because it was probably the most successful Olympic Games ever held, but it symbolised the coming of age of China as the latest economic, military and sports superpower of the world. It is strange that we now remember the grandeur of the games, especially the opening and closing ceremonies, rather than the achievement of the athletes, as is the case with past games.

Some may like to cite the increasing number and frequency of massive and very destructive natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, the Szechuan earthquake in China, the Tsunami that hit many shores in the Indian Ocean in 2006, and so on. The odd superstitious soul may even turn the pages of the Bible to look for signs of the Apocalypse!

Inevitably, there would be those who would nominate the election of Obama as the American President as one of the top 10 events of the last 10 years. Many Americans would do that I think.

It was a trail blazing event in the US indeed, because the election of a man with coloured skin to the position of President would be unthinkable just 10 years ago. Given the global influence of the US, any such groundbreaking political development is likely to open eyes around the world.

Just a year into office, Obama has shown his mantle as a world leader, engaging in diplomatic dialogue even with what Bush used to call ‘rogue nations’, and thanks to his leadership, the Copenhagen conference on climate change has not been an entirely futile talk shop, even though the agreement reached is not binding. At least, the talk has moved forward.

In Malaysia, the top event in our domestic affairs in the last 10 years has to be the political tsunami on March 8, 2008. Something has changed fundamentally in the hearts and minds of Malaysians. The Barisan Nasional has lost their twothirds majority in Parliament, and their hold on state power in five states. Politics in our country will become unpredictable in the next decade.

Looking back at the last decade, there is not much room for optimism for the fate of mankind. The dogs of war still stalk the community of nations.

Everywhere in Asia, Africa and South America, localised armed conflicts still remain the scourge of innocent civilians, especially women and children, who die by the millions every year. Everywhere, hunger, disease, and human sufferings still prevail as our human condition.

I ask you: what is there to celebrate in ushering in a New Year ?

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11 Comments »

  1. I am a Canadian, former Malaysian from Sarawak , who left Kuching over thirty years ago but I remember Sarawak, Limbang, Kuching and the de LaSalle brothers and St. Joseph’s School and of course SKY who was an student leader, a prefect of SJS and an athlete whose junior admired as a model student.

    My read of SKY’s article and his question is that there is good in this world, in Sarawak, in Malaysia. I know Canadians and Americans are good decent people. I lived in New Zealand for many years and so I can say there is a lot of goodness there. Although I have no personal knowledge of living in Australia and Europe or Afganistan or Iraq, I know people in Canada from all over the world as I belong to the Universal Catholic Church and work for the Catholic Church which does a great deal of good throughout the world. Sure most of us know a little bit about some major blemishes of the Catholic Church throughout history, I dare say those were the deeds of a few ambitious and political beings. Recent Popes had apologized to the world for the past wrongs of the Catholic Church publicly. I am no writer compared to SKY or those who writes here.

    For the new year 2011, why not celebrate it with thoughts of peace and gratitude. By all means vote with your conscience for real change, pray for your political leaders and pray for fairness and equality and justice.

    Comment by Ah chit — December 30, 2010 @ 11:43 PM | Reply

  2. It took us, Malaysians 5 decades or half a century to appreciate we need to “change”.

    We may have quirks but who doesn’t. Half a century ago, there were only a handful of democracies. Now we have some 80 or so. Before the millennium, we said we’d be a developed nation by 2020 but it seems now the present government still believes we’ll be a high income nation by then. Is there a chance we’d make it?

    A city State, Singapore, an island in the Bakun lake, has chalked up US$305.0 billion of GDP in 5 decades against Malaysia’s US$304.0 billion. That’s an eye popper of a situation.

    A few Malaysian states might have achieved that, Penang and Selangor for instance while the rest tag along and share the spoil which is what it is all about, sharing. The present government appears to have inherited such a recalcitrance right now that instead of working out some new year resolution they are subverting the system by creating another Perak in the state of Selangor.

    If that is not enough to shock an awe Malaysians to shirk off the stupor nothing else will. This has to stop.

    This really is a chance for Sarawakians and Malaysians to do the right thing. If it wasn’t so illustrious we could still bring some color into our cheeks.

    If the past decade has enabled us all to get this far and still not snuff us out, the only choice left is to work in the forthcoming months to resolve and act to bring a confluence of some sort instead of heightening conflicts and revel in the wastes.

    We could make it better. Life is too big to fail. We can still do some reveling when the clock heralds the New Year.

    Happy New Year!

    Comment by Watcha — December 30, 2010 @ 10:38 AM | Reply

  3. […] End of the year 2010, what is there to celebrate in ushering in a New Year? Sim Kwang Yang IN a few days’ time, on January 1, 2011, we shall witness the end of the year 2010. I admit that, in the long winding river of history, the end of another decade is just another arbitrary cut off point. Still, it feels like a useful excuse for us to look back […] Read more on Hornbill Unleashed […]

    Pingback by End of the year 2010, what is there to celebrate in ushering in a New Year? | Bible Finance — December 30, 2010 @ 7:11 AM | Reply

  4. […] all our readers/friends audie61 and crew wishes you all a Very meaningful New Year 2011 and may all your wishes come true. Stay Healthy and dont over politicise […]

    Pingback by “NCR” Sarawak Syndrome 2011 « Audie61′s Weblog — December 29, 2010 @ 8:54 PM | Reply

  5. Back home in Malaysia, 2011 will be a year of change for a better Malaysia.

    The rakyat’ of Sarawak will rise up to dethrone the corrupted CM and the Third Force will be the king maker to form the next state government.

    This sole reason alone is worthy of celebration for the coming New Year.

    Our dear brothers and sisters in Sarawak, you’re our hope for a fair and just Malaysia. It’s time to kick out the corrupted ‘ADUN’.

    Comment by PH Chin — December 29, 2010 @ 2:44 PM | Reply

  6. These last ten years is like reading Martin Griffith’s Idealism and Realism in International Relations into BBC World News. Statecraft and Western Democracy remains dominant in this decade, with a twist towards minority views (Canada, Anzac, Asean, etc.) and the (hard to ignore) emergence of China, India and Europe (not forgetting the re-emergence of Russia) as new world powers balancing the United States. The future appears promising but somewhat dangerous, considering the unresolved Islamic issue, viz. al-Qaeda, Taliban, Israel and the Arabs, etc. It’s absolutely right, the nation-state remains the most basic unit of analysis for foreign policy, even after the creation of the UN, an institution invented by Liberal minds. I suppose Morgenthau stands correct to say that diplomacy is the art of princes and not of assemblies unconcerned with power. The world of international politics will always be gritty but somehow, entertaining as states struggle with an anarchic system of order, frequently not knowing the outcome of engagement until it’s too late. In this light, I think there’s always something to celebrate: The sense of adventure for the coming decade. Happy New Year 2011, everyone.

    Comment by Bourgeois Revolution — December 29, 2010 @ 10:39 AM | Reply

  7. If someone hates the thought of mind control, he could introduce pre-emptive bills to prevent Electronic weapons or use of the same, and also even have squads of ‘Tech Police’ go around detecting illegal use of EMF Wave devices. Whats with the inaction and apathy? You’re alive, so LIVE and use your precious time!

    1) After WW2, when it became obvious that Western colonialism was no longer a viable option, the Western powers just created nations on the map as they pleased, without regard to history, natural boundaries, culture, or traditions, thereby sowing the seeds for acrimonious international conflicts later. Israel was just such one creation, and Iraq was another.

    So do something about it. Like becoming a respected world leader who’s voice is heard, to perhaps suggest redefinition boundaries that would make sense. No point moaning about it!

    2) In fact, all the major conflicts in the first decade of the new millennium have their roots in the last few centuries. It is frightening to think that the one lesson we learn from history is that human beings never do learn from history!

    Right on target. So stop being frightened or telling people how they are frightened, and try to become PM so you can make sure everyone studies history from a syllabus that makes sense.

    3) Some may like to cite the increasing number and frequency of massive and very destructive natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, the Szechuan earthquake in China, the Tsunami that hit many shores in the Indian Ocean in 2006, and so on. The odd superstitious soul may even turn the pages of the Bible to look for signs of the Apocalypse!

    Build a better building! Or plant mangroves and build away from shores! As for apocalypse, share wealth and do kind deeds so that God (if he exists) will take a second look and stop being so pissed. What a pessimistic and apathetic writer.

    4) Looking back at the last decade, there is not much room for optimism for the fate of mankind. The dogs of war still stalk the community of nations.

    Think or look up this term – ‘False Flag.’ And how to prevent? Start getting people who are not war mongers to run for candidacy including yourself. Simple as that.

    5) I ask you: what is there to celebrate in ushering in a New Year ?

    Don’t hate on everything, RUN FOR CANDIDACY and prevent false flag wars, and rubberstamp good policies. If you have 15,000 to burn and some time to spare, you need to wake up run as a candidate and stop whining. Gosh you really remind me of Gerakan’s Dr.Darren Hsu and his sighing, hemming and hawing but non intent to do anything. If you hate it, try to change it.

    Maybe you’re just tired, Sim but this article sure doesn’t inspire and certainly depresses.

    Comment by AgreeToDisagree — December 29, 2010 @ 5:27 AM | Reply

    • The writer is giving his reflections on global events of this decade,you have a choice not to read it.
      I suggest ATD (the name is so uninspired and conflicting) to read star or strait times to get his much needed inspirations.

      Comment by Akai — December 29, 2010 @ 7:27 AM | Reply

      • The writer is giving his reflections on global events of this decade,you have a choice not to read it.

        1) I’m giving my view on the negative way he presented it, you too have a choice to not to read my comment. I’m preventing a culture of apathy from proliferating and maybe provide more candidates to field themselves. I’d like to think I inspired ‘ADDENDUM TO END OF YEAR SUMMARY’ too. And your point is?

        I suggest ATD (the name is so uninspired and conflicting) to read star or strait times to get his much needed inspirations.

        2) The nick AtD only appears to be inspire an issue with those who personally have issues. You’re not one of those ambivalent fogeys (aka bad-berries) propagating morbidity of thought than doing anything else are you?

        VERY ‘inspiring’ and setting a wonderful example when you ‘lean’ on the unsuspecting readers like this. Star and Times are dropping off the map for being propaganda papers and are hardly inspiring at all, why mention those unless you’re pro-BN in some oblique manner? Oh yes, we forget there are cybertroopers EVERYWHERE.

        When someone goes, “Ask you: what is there to celebrate in ushering in a New Year?” – we might as well be hearing ‘lets all give up’ some pro-active people will be ‘inspired’ to reply accordingly.

        I certainly will continue debunking Star and Straits Times articles (especially those with elements of authoritarianism) which need debunking. Tedious but for sure more commentators, hopefully with conflicting nicks to confound those deserving, will take up the task of infusing positivity and pro-active attitudes against apathy or tidak-apathy wherever they appear.

        Let us be full of hope for the future and reflect upon the past with renewed vigor to address what went wrong! So there, let’s celebrate New Year in any way we care to! Happy New Year! Ha!

        Comment by AgreeToDisagree — December 29, 2010 @ 8:22 AM | Reply

  8. ADDENDUM TO END OF YEAR SUMMARY

    It should also be mentioned in summation that:

    1. The rogue nations US UK launched an uncalled for invasion of Iraq in 2001 pretending to look for WMDs and the mass murders by both sides followed- over 100,000 Iraqis and growing, have been brutally killed by the Americans and their allies. All covered up in “desert storm”.

    The end of the decade did not see war Criminals like George Bush and Tony Blair being brought to justice. Tony Blair was examined twice by the “board of inquiry”.He tried to back out of his guilt with window dressing of his “justifiable” intentions. He again talked his way out of being executed for his crimes. He is now a Euro or UN ambassador (of death) something? while Bush is modestly hiding in his ranch.

    The election of Obama or no Obama (black or white makes no difference! thanks to Premier Deng for the quote) made scant difference to the 2 wars despite promises to stop them.

    The US Allies are trapped in the war of their own making and well may they stew in it. No wonder Osama (not Obama) is laughing away- he was taught by the US.

    In the 19th Century the British tried unsuccessfully to conquer Afghanistan (1830s and 1870s) and they sent in their well armed and powerful armies up the Khyber Pass.

    It is legend that in one battle one soldier returned out of thousands (killed) – sent by the grace of the Afghans as a WARNING to the British. You could say they did not learn their lesson nor did the Russian and neither will the USA. On the soil of Afghanistan they will all perish and deserve it.

    2. The above wars are just the glory swan songs of western imperialism led by the USA which is pissing in its pants because it scared itself very stiff over the emergence of China.

    China has not threatened or occupied any part of the USA while the US UK still do (yes other countries occupied China and became part of China) and no one has to fear it.

    Yet the western nations arrogantly and ceaselessly try to bully China and want to become its Saviour. It took China over a hundred years to free itself from these western invaders beginning in the 1800s and from the humiliation imposed by unequal treaties and the looting of national treasures. Today this has not changed much. Even little Norway tries to butt in.

    Also Australia. Wiki Leaks revealed that the China expert PM Kevin Rude’s biggest guff was to tell the US to attack China (!) although China is singlehandedly propping up the Australia economy so that it did not sink into recession. What an ungrateful sod! He has kept very quiet after this.

    No one was surprised he got replaced by another big mouth J Gillard. Julie’s sin was to let off more hot gas in a hurry about Julian Assange’s “sex by surprise” (Someone quipped that he was surprised whenever he got sex from his wife). On the first day she became PM she was dribbling all over about her telephone call from Obama. Big deal!

    The end of the year saw the USA playing a dangerous game of needling S. Korea to start a war with N. Korea. This was to indirectly provoke China. The third world war could have blown up if N. Korea had not called their bluff. This is how RECKLESS the US has become. Unfortunately, if war did blow up, S. Korea would have disappeared from the face of the earth and so would Washington after it has been nuked by N. Korea. Both Russia and China did not take the bait and told USA to back off. It has humbly done so.

    The USA is behaving like a rabid dog with worms and snapping at imaginary enemies.

    3. UMNO Malaysia is not let off that easy. Lest we forget.

    Churches were razed to the ground after UMNO PERKASA incited their misguided mob to attack Christians to provoke more May 13 massacres but the Christians turned the other cheek. This backfired on UMNO as its gave “Malaysia” worldwide BAD publicity. The blowing up of the Mongolian lady did not help either as the new PM was implicated and the whole case was covered up. So foreign investors stayed away.

    Further UMNO PERKASA misused Islamic teachings to imposed their racist apartheid system and this led to the Kuching school boy caning incident over pork sausage fried rice, plus the scandal over re-classifying Sarawak native students into “Malays”, engineering the transmigration of Muslims from other countries into Sabah and magically turned them into Malay voters and at the same time disenfranchised thousands of native people in Sabah and Sarawak. These abominable scandalous acts caused revulsion among even the fair minded Malays.

    UMNO also fooled around with and squandered RM 70 million to pay an Israeli associated US public relations company to repaint Najib (the Mongolian connection) and UMNO’s tarnished images. What will the Muslims think of this?

    So at the end of the year Najib had to go the M’sian Christian Federation tea party with cap in hand and made a great speech on national unity and nation building etc. after all the great threats he made on pendatangs and so on.

    Last but not least.

    We must end off by mentioning that Wiki Leaks was placed on the centre of the world stage when Sweden at US behest trumped up “sex by surprise” charges against its founder J Assange but has failed to published any details. Very transparent western democratic government. Transparent plan to enable the US to illegally arrest Assange and punish him for exposing US dirty secrets on Iraq war. No matter what happens, the US will only be indulging in self flagellation and exposure.

    Happy New Year

    Comment by justiceunmasked — December 29, 2010 @ 3:46 AM | Reply

    • P.S. The PKR Opposition promised “full autonomy” to Sabah and Sarawak to allay the upsurge of demands for independence from Malayan colonial rule.

      ew year wish- hope the opposition wins the election.

      Comment by justiceunmasked — December 29, 2010 @ 3:54 AM | Reply


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