Hornbill Unleashed

March 23, 2013

Do we still have idealists?

Filed under: philosophy — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Democracy is precious. Democracy, however, can be achieved overnight by no means. Political development of all democratic countries is a gradually progressive process. Even the US, the world’s model of democracy, has experienced hard times before making its political achievements step by step.

Of course, without a system and room to fight, as well as the efforts and contributions of idealists, the world’s democracy would not have achieved today’s height.

I have always believed that there are some idealists among people who are engaged in politics in Malaysia. In particular, after the 2008 political tsunami, many young people have eagerly joined political parties. Some of them have even made outstanding performances and become potential future leaders within only a few years. I believe that some will be fielded to contest in the next general election. (more…)

May 15, 2011

In search of a new paradigm for Malaysian politics

Sim Kwang Yang

I suddenly thought of Ling Kuang Ming. He was my first political teacher in 1979 as I was working with him when he was a full time employee of the Sarawak DAP.

Ling was also the retired senior member of the Sarawak Communist Party. Prior to his surrender to the security forces, Ling held the exalted position of Sarawak foreign minister under the communist regime.

I learned about the communist idea of the United Front practised by the communist in their war against the security forces. (more…)

July 20, 2010

Old world of cinema halls and bubbling excitement

By Sim Kwang Yang

The most exciting event of the week in those long gone, bad old days was going to the movies. Nowadays, there is nothing extraordinary about going to the movies any more. Every household has a DVD player and television set, and watching a movie is such a routine activity in our daily lives that we think nothing of it, and take it for granted.

Growing up in 1960s in Kuching, before all these electronic gadgets made their appearance, going to the movies at the weekend was the high point of our social and entertainment life for the entire week.

That was because going to the movies was the only entertainment at the mass level available to the people. It was the cheapest and most easily available distraction and escape from living the tedium of a stultifying life.

Film shows were cheap enough then, costing as little as 30 sen per ticket for the matinee morning film. The regular show cost a mere ringgit, if my memory serves me right. (more…)

March 11, 2010

Heart of the matter, anyone?

By Sim Kwang Yang

Writing is a lonely business. You bang on the computer keyboard and imagine an audience to whom you are trying to communicate your ideas. With my problematic mind, I also ponder, as I write, what communication means.

Writing can also be a painful process, if one is serious about it. There is always that deadline, by which I mean the approaching date when you feel pretty dead if you have not found anything to write about. It is a little like feeling pregnant without a foetus inside.

There is joy sometimes, like beating a deadline. Then, it feels like emptying your bowel after having suffered from chronic constipation for a week. The trouble with that is that the mental constipation would soon start again.

Again, you search desperately for a topic to write about. Such is the untold misery of a writer who has to contribute a column every week. (more…)

March 4, 2010

Smart Alecs and NCR

By Empire State of Mind

Education is one subject we keep talking about, and keep getting confused about.

It is common to see brochures and advertisements of universities and colleges in the media, telling you of how you might have a brighter future if you choose to take a particular course in their institution. Then you will see young and vibrant people, presumably models posing as students, adorning the advertisements, with a hip slogan of the institution placed in the background.

This effort is made in the hope that young people will be attracted to study in their college or university. I suppose many would register for the courses offered, because they like the advertisement. Thus, we can conclude that one reason some young people go for tertiary education is they are persuaded by their perception of education. (more…)

February 22, 2010

Politics bottom up or top down?

By Sim Kwang Yang @ MalaysiaKini

Internet writers like me have a cushy job. We stare into the blank wall, try to imagine the audience out there in cyberspace, and bang out a string of connected ideas at break-neck speed to beat the deadline.

Writing is a lonely business. Thank God, I do get some feedback from readers sent to my email address every week. Otherwise, I would have stopped writing out of boredom. I try to answer them all.

The messages accumulated over the six or seven years of my service with Malaysiakini amount to a huge pile. Most are friendly, but there are a few that are very critical. Of course, one has learned long ago the art of agreeing to disagree with mutual respect.

Then, there are readers and bloggers who cut and paste my articles all over the Internet. I am not sticky on the issue of intellectual property rights, so that is okay too. Any idea of mine, once it is out there, for better or for worse, is public property.


December 26, 2009

Dreamers of all lands unite

Filed under: Alternatives,Human rights,philosophy,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: ,

By Pak Bui

To call someone a “dreamer” has become a grave insult in our pragmatic society, only marginally better than to call someone an “idealist”.

A close friend mused yesterday that life is empty without dreams. We must all have a dream of our own, to give us hope and meaning in life, my friend told me. I have ruminated over this, and I have decided I agree with this sentiment whole-heartedly.

Dreaming may be the natural state of affairs for human beings, as Zhuangzi, the revered Chinese poet and philosopher, postulated. One night, he dreamt he was a butterfly, flying carefree. When he awoke, he wondered if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly, or if he was a butterfly who had just begun dreaming he was a man (莊周夢蝶).

Dream sequences have played major roles in religion, art and literature. Dreams played critical roles in the stories of Noah and Moses, common heritage to all three major monotheistic religions. Dreams also play important roles in Buddhism and Hinduism, and in the creation myths of the Ibans , Native Americans and the Australian aboriginal peoples.


November 7, 2009

Claude Lévi-Strauss, he will be mythed.

By Bunga Pakma

Claude Lévi-StraussMalaysia’s MSM, too, briefly noted the passing of a great man a week ago, and this observance does Malaysia an honour, for he was an anthropologist—a discipline here under the eye of official suspicion—and a humanist intellectual of the loftiest sublimity.  The world rarely remembers this breed still lives among them.

Claude Lévi-Strauss died in Paris on 31 October.  If he had hung on for four weeks he would have reached the great age of 101. We can feel joy when a distinguished man passes away after a long life filled with fruitful work, love, much seen and felt, and honour. He was a member of the Academie Française.  Such a person has won at life, if anybody can be said to win at life.

Lévi-Strauss was destined to be a profound thinker, whichever way he took.  He entered the University of Paris as a student of philosophy, and after a few years determined that “…philosophy, as taught at the Sorbonne, exercised the intelligence but left the spirit high and dry.”  (Apologies to SKY.) The career that faced Lévi-Strauss, after he took his degree, consisted of repeating the same lectures year after year.  In horror, and with the help of a few lucky encounters, he escaped to anthropology and in 1934 sailed to Brazil.  An academic post gave him a base from which to travel to the deep country, rainforest or savannah, and do fieldwork among the Indians.


October 25, 2009

New! Improved UMNO! Washes whiter than white!

By Bunga Pakma

umno-najib1What a week!  Though I have faithfully been following doctor’s orders and not getting my knickers in a twist, it is impossible for me completely to avoid the whirlpool-in-a-septic-tank that is public political life.

Among political pundits and commentators, honoured Reader, you will find no more superficial observer in the country than Yours Truly here.  My contact with newspapers amounts to no more than reading the headlines at the local newsstand. I don’t have a TV and I don’t listen to the radio.  Yes, I do have a look at Malaysiakini in the morning over the cornflakes, and I do read what my brethren post on HU. But I’ve got a job to attend to and trolling the Net for lurid outrages does not raise a thrill in me.  Superficiality is in a sense my strength.  Heaven knows that what’s on the surface is frightening enough.

The earliest thing my memory can drag up from the mists of time is that UMNO seems to have held a general meeting last week.  Specks of glitter-dust left over from the razzmatazz remain among the dust and tattered banners in the dark, deserted PWTC.  I remember the “image” of that event as I’d remember some quasi-carnival event in the Mall—a canopy, stage, and display with balloons, flags, music and lights to launch a brand of soap.  “And now, the, New! Improved UMNO! Washes whiter than white! [In more ways than one.] Now suitable for dirty laundry of ALL races! and so forth.

To be fair to the makers of Trojan, Omo, and Daia, I must say that I’ve always thought the detergent section of the supermarket a cheery one. It’s kinda nice to see shelves of excited coloured sacks and boxes enthusiastically standing up for the virtues of cleanliness and transparency, taking dirt and filth of all kinds to daily account for their never-ending evil.


October 24, 2009

Criticism – good or bad?

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

BullShitALL of us have been criticised, sometimes unfairly. We have all criticised others at one time or another.  To be critical is human.To criticise is to pass judgement on something or somebody out of our personal interpretation of what is good or bad.  Some are better than others in this business of offering criticism.

We know the odd individuals among us who criticise everything and everybody. They probably have a bloated self-image, thus appointing themselves as the ultimate judge of everything human. Their constant whining criticism probably stems from their need to assert their sense of superiority. It is often an inferiority complex working in reverse gear.

We have been told often times to make constructive criticism, and avoid negative criticism. What is the difference between the two?


October 22, 2009

Religion: John Hicks’ rainbow of faith

the offeringBy Sim Kwang Yang


Generally, I do not like to write about religion.

In multi-religious Malaysia, where race and religion are related contentious issues, whatever I write about religion, some nut somewhere is going to claim that I have no locus standi to make comments about his religion simply because I am not a member of his faith.

Inevitably some nut somewhere with ultra-sensitive religious nerves would claim that whatever I say would have insulted his religion.  They may even report me to the police for sedition.  You get the picture in Malaysia.

But religion is still one of the most important aspects of our personal and national life.  It is impossible to avoid commenting on religion altogether.

For instance, if one sect of a religion proposes that another sect in their religion must be all be banished, or killed, then it is the business of every Malaysian citizen to oppose this sort of religious persecution irrespective of his personal faith.  This is just common sense.


October 19, 2009


traffic_light_-_cautionBy Maximus Koh

I read with interest the earlier contribution to Hornbill Unleashed, “Why do people follow the law?” It is indeed a complex area of discussion. Views range from ancient Greece to our local “kopi tiams”.

It gets even more difficult when you throw in the equation, that there seems to be one set of laws for those that enforce them and another set for those that are obliged to follow them.

All of those who have sat in traffic for half an hour at the Jalan Song traffic lights waiting for the lights to turn green will know what I mean.

Just as it is your turn to move and you are gleefully shifting your car into gear, a distant sound of fast approaching sirens becomes audible. Getting louder and louder, it is the familiar sound of the heralds and the entourage of one of the many “VVIPS” rushing across town.


October 18, 2009


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

By Maximus Kho

hornet-nesthornetThe sleepy and quiet suburbs of Batu Kawa, on the outskirts of Kuching, were jolted recently with the deaths of three innocents, the oldest being seven years old.

They were victims of a deadly attack of hornets or wasps, locally called “tabuan”. Apparently they were taking a walk with their mother on a piece of land cleared for development. They were intent on finding some sticks to secure their lanterns on, for the recent Mid-Autumn festival.

In their enthusiasm, they happened on a colony of these deadly insects and now they are gone.

The incident galvanized the whole of Kuching society, with donations coming in from every quarter. The press, public and politicians were unanimous in their show of sympathy towards the father of the three children. He had, after all, lost his entire family in one afternoon.


October 14, 2009

Law, trust, and justice

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

lawWHY do we obey the law? What makes a law-abiding society?

The common sense answer to those critical questions is: “People obey laws because they fear detection and punishment. That is why we have the police and the courts”.

In The Republic, Plato recounts a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, Plato’s older brother. Glaucon argues that only fear of detection and punishment prevents people from disobeying the laws of the land. He demonstrates this view of human nature with the Myth of Gyges.

Gyges was a shepherd who one day found a ring that could make him invisible when he wore it. (He found the ring on the corpse of a bronze horse, which was exposed when an earthquake broke up the ground below his flock.) Using the magical power of his invisibility, Gyges seduced the queen, murdered the king, and took the throne.


October 10, 2009

Martin Heidegger, anyone?

Hornbill Unleashed aims to provoke discussion and thought, but not only in political life. We support curiosity and exchange of ideas in other aspects of our lives too. The following write-up testifies to the fact that many Malaysians are not dead from the neck up – HU Editor


Martin Heidegger, anyone?

By Liumx

How can you judge a person, at a single glance, by looking only at the name of Martin? Or the name Heidegger, for that matter – does it ring a bell?

My personal encounter with Heidegger started six or seven years ago. I attended philosophy classes offered in Kuala Lumpur. Our texts ranged from Plato’s Republic to Heidegger’s Being and Time.

Our response was neither cold nor warm, you might call it lukewarm, I suppose. In total, there were 15 or so Mandarin speakers in those seminars. After Plato’s Treatise on Justice, Aristotle’s Ethics attracted a few new members, while some who could not take the mental strain dropped out. (more…)

September 29, 2009

About social grace – or lack of it

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

anti-social behaviour in public places

I WAS having my dinner in the clean coffee shop in my neighbourhood and enjoying a beautiful Malaysian September sunset.

This scraggy young man sat down at   the next table. Then he tilted his head backwards, gurgled for a few seconds, and with a “ptwit..!” he   spit on the floor. He repeated this disgusting action a few times. I was nauseated, and walked   away from my unfinished dinner, fuming.

I should have walked over to him and reprimanded him politely but firmly. But a young man who is so ill-bred as to spit in a public eatery will probably beat me up if I had scolded him anyway!

You see anti-social behaviour in public places like that everywhere.


September 12, 2009


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


”  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 9, 2009

Cawat remark hard to digest

HU Liumx1By Liumx

Can a cawat remark hurt my “native Sarawakian” feelings?

I must confess that I am not good at reading minds. I am even worse at reading a “mindset”.

This reflection is, of course, a reaction to the cawat comment by the honourable PAS president, Hadi Awang.

PAS jargon is hardly easy to digest. Terms such as “muktamar” or “muzakarah” are strange to the minds of those who are unfamiliar with Arabic, or rather romanised Arabic – maybe even, to some extent, a Malaysianised, and inauthentic, Arabic.

Ask any ordinary passer-by, say on the streets of Miri, the meaning of these phrases. The number of people who can give a satisfactory description of “muktamar” or “muzakarah” may add up to zero.

Therefore, why use this peculiar jargon? (more…)

August 6, 2009

The politics of face

billclintoZhangBinyangBy Sim Kwang Yang

This Bill Clinton is really something.  He flew into the most secretive country in the world, met its sick but top man Kim Jong IL, had dinner with him, and secured the release of two American journalists sentenced to 12 years in hard labour camp for spying.  Then he flew these two journalists back to the old US of A with him in the same plane.

Many commentators in the West have been harping on endlessly about how important the “face” factor is in this happy story.  Bill Clinton gave face to North Korea big time, and North Korea returned the face to the US.

When Bush was the president, could such an event have happened?  I doubt it. Bush is the super-bellicose WASP, and he could never understand the concept of “face”, except that of his own “face”.  Obama has lived in foreign countries, and therefore is more sensitive to the cultural differences between different civilisations.  He is less likely to engage himself in this nonsensical talk of “the clash of civilisations”. (more…)

July 25, 2009

Reflection on religion : a personal perspective


By Bunga Pakma

SC chanNo need for me to comment at length on the events that continue to march over us in grim file.  Since Teoh Beng Hock’s martyrdom Malaysians have found their tongues and pens, and are using them eloquently in anger and indignation.  Meanwhile, the BN government, by declaring that the Royal Commission will not investigate the circumstances of Teoh’s death, has all but shouted from the rooftops that it has something to hide.

I was dismayed to read of another tragic loss this morning.  SC Chan died yesterday morning (23 July) at Normah Hospital, Kuching, after a coronary by-pass operation.  Malaysiakini readers knew him by his pen-name, Tony Thien. His long career climaxed with his appointment as Malaysiakini’s Sarawak correspondent, and he never failed to excite my admiration for his searching, accurate, and courageous reportage.  He has merited greatly of the people of Sarawak for his unrelenting probing of land issues and the injustices wreaked by a brutal regime.  He will be dearly missed. (more…)

July 12, 2009

Thinking of Confucius, Sophocles, Kubler Ross, Tolstoy, and Rinpoche……on a lazy Malaysian Sunday

By Sim Kwang Yang

ConfuciusConfucius asked rhetorically, how can we know about dying and death, when we do not know about living a life?  Generally, Chinese people agree with him, and do not think much about death and dying.

By and large, all peoples of the world believe that life is good, and death is bad.  That is why people try to live as long as possible.  But there are people who do not agree with Confucius.

In ancient Greece, the great tragedian Sophocles told of the story of Midas who tried to pry away the greatest secret about what was best for man from Silenus, advisor and instructor to Dionysius (Oedipus at Colonus 1225). (more…)

Now for something different…..

The Philosophers' Drinking Song

Monty Python was the most entertaining comedy group in the late 60s and the early 70s. In fact, some critics have claimed they redefined British irreverent sense of humour. Their Philosophers Song reproduced below must be learned by all who are interested in philosophy.


Bruces’ Philosophers Song ( Video Inside )

also known as

The Philosophers’ Drinking Song


July 9, 2009

Contra racism

By Sim Kwang Yang

unityWhen the DAP Kuching Branch was first established in 1978, the party was a new kid on the block.  For many years before that, the SUPP was seen to be the sole representative of the Chinese in Sarawak.

The most effective tactic of the SUPP in demonising the DAP at that time was to call the DAP as a traitor to the Chinese race, out to divide the Chinese community, and to destroy Chinese unity. The SUPP needed the united support of all the Chinese, in order to negotiate and compromise with other race-based party.

The MCA used the same tactic against the Peninsular DAP and they were quite successful at that time.

During those early years of the DAP in Sarawak, the voters did buy the SUPP’s fare of Chinese unity.  I doubt they will continue to do so blindly, 30 years later. (more…)

July 8, 2009

What if you have only 7 more days to live?

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

By Sim Kwang Yang

death and dying 2If you are told by your doctor that you have been stricken by an incurable disease, and that you will die in seven days, what are the things that you will do first?  This may be a hypothetical question, but give it a try.  See whether it will make you think about changing life’s priority.

This is a trick question I used to ask my philosophy class in the New Era College.  The diverse answers I got did show the different personality of the students.

People live their daily life without thinking about death and dying of course.  In fact, many people live as if they will never die.  The subject is so tabooed that whenever it is brought up, everyone will hush you down.  They think that life is good and death is bad.  They think that even talking about death and dying may bring bad luck. (more…)

July 6, 2009

A struggling self – Sharing and Reflecting on a “lost” journey

By Apang


I have been absent from HU for a while, not to my own liking though. It is a constant struggle to pinpoint what to write, to share, to provoke or just to give meaning to my thought. Unlike SKY, Pak Bui and Bunga Pakma, who all write fluently and comparatively easily, l struggle to put my thoughts, my concerns, my state of confusion into words, and to express them in a language in which my ability is neither here nor there.

There has been some discussion in HU about this blog being pro-PKR etc. That kind of limiting thought is reflective of Malaysia, truly Malaysia (not Asia) indeed. Writing about Malaysian party politics is also so dry, so backward and so typical of Malaysia and the Malaysian media. Except for the intelligence found in a few online news portal and blogs, Malaysian writings on politics are just so dry, devoid of substance.

But as SKY says repeatedly, party politics are but a necessary evil. In our supposed democracy, the might of governments are unleashed after each election. The BN continues to use elections and election results as legitimacy to do, and not do, what thinking Malaysians already know too well. The BN does not know that one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that even Hitler also had held elections to legitimise his rule of terror, not just against Germans, but against the whole world. (more…)

July 5, 2009

Dying and death of philosophers

What better thing is there to do to do on a lazy Malaysian Sunday than reading a book review article from the New York Times?  The following is an article reviewing a book that talks about philosophers’ dying and death.


Dying and Death: When You Sort It Out, What’s It All About, Diogenes?diogenes of Sinope

By Dinitia Smith

Heraclitus, who believed that everything was in a state of flux, died, according to one account, of drowning in cow dung. The philosopher Francis Bacon, that great champion of the empirical method, died of his own philosophy: in an effort to observe the effects of refrigeration, on a freezing cold day he stuffed a chicken with snow and caught pneumonia.


June 18, 2009

What is the meaning of your life?

Filed under: philosophy — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:05 AM
Tags: , , , ,

By Sim Kwang Yang

happy_birthday_06I know that people expect me to comment on politics all the time, because of my experience in active full-time politics.

But let me make a little confession.  Sometimes, I feel wary of political commentaries, especially when the Internet is so over-saturated with crude hysterical and partisan polemic and rhetoric.  How I wish Malaysian net portals and blogs would discuss some intelligent subjects more seriously.

Fortunately, I still have Hornbill Unleashed, a blog still struggling to find is plural identity, a piece of virgin intellectual territory, waiting for literary exploration. (more…)

June 11, 2009

ISA and the panopticon: the anatomy of fear

By Sim Kwang Yang

fear460I was a little taken aback when a close and respected friend complimented me on my courage in my writing.

I was surprised, because much as I searched within myself, I felt no courage in me when taking on the most contentious issues and the most powerful politicians of the land.  Then I realise why I don’t feel brave at all.  I don’t have to be brave because I feel no fear, as long as I am careful and fair.

That does not mean I am such a fearless hero.  I too have my phobias.  Being broke is my greatest fear that has pursued me in my entire life.  My other fear is dying slowly a long, debilitating, and painful death, while being broke!

Then I realise we are all moulded by our fears, and we do not know much about our fears.  So I checked up some quick resources on the Internet. One site – about.com:phobia — has this to say: (more…)

June 6, 2009

Letter from America 7

By Bunga Pakma  @ Hueditor


packing my bagsL2A712Forty-eight hours to go before I enter the belly of the Lang Pirak who will carry me back to my beloved menoa and home.  I am packing my bags, and as distracted and frenzied as I am, I must pack up a few words for you too, honoured Reader.

My last letter addressed the issue of racism.  Since I wrote that, much has happened.  First, on Public Radio—which in America is not state controlled—I heard that in a decade or two so-called “minorities” will amount to one-third of all Americans, and that mixed-race marriages and children are on the point of becoming the norm.  On my trips to the Stop ‘n’ Shop or A & P supermarket I have spotted quite a few little children with coffee-coloured skin and frizzy hair, most of them held by a white mother.  They get out of Volvos, as often as not.  This gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  I am a Dad, so I understand affection for children, and furthermore I say, Let’s mix it all up!  One human species! (more…)

June 3, 2009

Critical thinking will set you free!

By  Sim Kwang Yang

brainOur mind and our heart are our most precious and free possessions, and yet all through life, we allow our minds and our hearts to be enslaved by others and ourselves.

We can free ourselves from such external or self-enslavement only through critical thinking.

The imperfect Wikipedia gives the following various definitions of “critical thinking”: (more…)

June 2, 2009

Free yourself from your mental prison

By Sim Kwang Yang


For many decades in the past, many Malaysians gave up dreaming because they saw no alternatives to the status quo; they felt completely powerless, overwhelmed, and without hope, in the face of sheer naked power flaunted by the Barisan Nasional.

Whenever I floated the possibility of an alternative government in Malaysia one-day, voters like that would sneer at me and asked me to “dream on”. Even many opposition supporters in Sarawak today think that BN will be in power in my home state for eternity, simply because the Sarawak BN is too powerful and too rich, and the people are simply too stupid and too easily bought.

But the political climate has changed.


May 30, 2009

Letter from America 6

By Bunga Pakma  @  Hueditor

explorers-mapThe United States is, at core, a very peculiar country.  Few people inside or outside the US understand this fact, and that lack of understanding has caused endless and sometimes tragic confusion. Indeed, this collage of misunderstanding of the US is the “image” and both Americans and non-Americans in responding to it are wrestling with a ghost.

Racism is a fact of life. It’s that world-wide game of despise-the-other-tribe which Malaysians know so well that I don’t have to elaborate. America was, as everyone knows, a highly, even rabidly, racist country until quite recently.  Some of this was the garden-variety contempt, but the real American racism was (I use the past tense with hope) a very strange and evil thing entirely different from racism elsewhere.  Americans had to learn this type of racism, so I’d like to explain it in context. (more…)

May 24, 2009

A rose by any name

Kaypo Anak Sarawak is a Columnist  of  Hermit Hornbill at The Borneo Post Online , His article is  published  in The Borneo Post every Sunday. (Used by permission of the Author )

rose1‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’

THOSE are the immortal lines from the lips of Juliet, from the immortal British bard William Shakespeare’s eternal love story, Romeo and Juliet. I had to study the play for my literature class to pass my Cambridge Overseas School Certificate back in 1966.

Juliet was reflecting on the significance of name because her lover, Romeo was a Montague, and she was a Capulet. Since their families were engaged in a family feud, their romance was destined to a tragic end for from the very beginning, and hence their label as ‘star-cross’d lovers’. (more…)

May 17, 2009

Dare to be free, on a lazy Sunday

By Sim Kwang Yang

political freedomIn Malaysia, whenever we ask for more political freedom, for freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of assembly, we are often told that if people are too free to do whatever they want, there will be riots, chaos, and instability.

There would be those conservative Malaysian citizens writing letters to the editors in the mainstream media supporting this view.  In their fearful mind, freedom is opposed to social stability and personal security.  They should be reminded of Rousseau’s famous saying that the most secure and the safest place in the world is between the bars of a prison cell!

This goes to show that public conversations in Malaysia is till stuck in a primitive, patriarchal, and feudalistic stage.  They mistakenly think that freedom is doing whatever you want, when if fact they are talking about licence.  Freedom is much more complex than that. (more…)

May 15, 2009

Letter from America 4

By Bunga Pakma

While I’m here, America is my subject.  Two events conspire to distract me from it, the first alarming, the second wonderfully beautiful.

SHAME (Custom)The news that cops, perhaps armed, had been sent into Perak’s State Assembly chamber and forcibly removed the elected Speaker was a sharp tug on the leash that tethers me to home.  Commentators wiser than I (and on the scene) have written about this awful incident at length.  What I wish to add is a deep historical context that I have not yet seen anybody note.

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy whose head of state (more…)

May 14, 2009


… Just how on earth did Joseph Entulu decipher negative connotations like being uncivilized, uncouth and “low class” from the word “Dayak”? By Iba-nez  @ hueditor@gmail.com

It is a social norm or rather, a social necessity that when we are born into this world we are bestowed names. It is a social necessity in order that we be identified as the individuals we are and to set us apart from others.

Names are generally gender specific to celebrate the differences between the sexes; a “Siti’ would most definitely be female, whilst a “John” is most certainly a male. (more…)

May 10, 2009

Thinking about our blog on a lazy leisurely Sunday

by Sim Kwang Yang

blogger_logoThis is a Sunday. I was told that not many people visit our blogs on Saturday and Sunday. So I might as well entertain those who do visit us this Sunday with my rumbling reflection about my new found hobby of blogging. It is time to sit back and take stock of things two and a half months after we are launched into this new venture.

Since we launched this site on 26th March, we have had about 33,000 hits, with an average of 696 hits per day. The number of hits is increasing from month to month. We are growing. I hope you can help us by spreading the word around in the cyber world.

Twice among top 100 global posting

Young as we are as a blog, we have been twice listed as among the top 100 global WordPress blogs, once with my Open Letter to James Masing, and once with Pak Bui’s piece on A coup detat in Perak a few days ago. Perhaps one day, we can be among the world’s top ten blog. There is no point in thinking small.

We picked up a lot of hits on those two occasions because we were picked up for posting on RPK’s Malaysia Today, which is a much older and more established blog.

blogger-comunityI am not that concerned about our popularity. My friends and I are just interested at setting a higher standard of citizen journalism and a new kind of good intellectual and literary style that would not easily be found on the Internet and in the blogging world. My name is on this blog, and whatever anybody says on this blog must be defensible in a court of law, or else I will be sued for defamation until I go bankrupt.

In this sense, I am grateful for those who have left serious thoughtful remarks on our blog. We welcome well thought out criticism to our views expressed here, because lively debate with mutual respect is the essence of freedom of expression.

Exploring ways forward

My friends and I are actually quite excited about this new communal blog. The idea of a collective blog works out fine, because different writers contribute different styles on different areas of interest. I think the diversity can make our blog more attractive over time. It also makes it easier for writer to write once a week rather than everyday, as is the case of a lone blogger. (more…)

May 6, 2009

Cogito ergo sum!

By Sim Kwang Yang

165px-sanzio_01_croppedI am one of the very few Malaysians who have ever studied western philosophy for a university degree.

When I mention philosophy to my friends in Malaysia, they are either intimidated or bored. They feel intimidated because philosophy sounds so abstract and deep. Others feel bored because they ask, “What is the point of studying the writings of dead white males?”

In a previous post, a reader suggested that we at Hornbill Unleashed should expand our scope to include our thoughts on other things, like the arts, literature, poetry, and even philosophy. Well, there is a dearth of discussion on these subjects on the Internet, in Sarawak, and in Malaysia. So I wish to introduce you to philosophy 101, hoping not to intimidate you or bore you to death.

In 1975, I went to attend the first philosophy class in my life. My professor introduced us to this chap by the name of Rene Descartes, the founder of modern philosophy. (more…)

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