Hornbill Unleashed

April 2, 2012

The riff-raff of Kuching

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Sim Kwang Yang

MOST of you would not have experienced any contact with the ‘wise guys’ of Kuching city. These are the people who live on the edge of mainstream society and make a living through foul or illegal means. We call them by a generic term – gangsters.

These gentlemen have colourful tattoos and are easily distinguishable from their obviously wild behaviour.

I grew up in Kuching city from a young age and came to know personally most of these wild characters, many of them I would count as my personal friends. Kuching city is small after all, and living in such close quarters, everybody would know everybody else. (more…)

January 30, 2012

Beware of the New Year

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Sim Kwang Yang

According to ancient Chinese mythology, the New Year beast is an ancient beast that used to terrorise the human world every so often. The New Year celebration has always meant to be noisy and boisterous in our attempt to frighten away this horrid beast to ensure that we can live in peace and prosperity in the New Year.

The New Year also signifies a new beginning in an eternal turn of seasons. It is a time for farmers to harvest old crops and enjoy the hard earned rest at the end of the year before replanting the fields.

For the Chinese people, the New Year is an all important turn in the eternal cycle of life in their agrarian mode of existence. Time for the Chinese is forever cyclical.

Much of the meaning of the New Year has its roots in the Chinese agricultural way of life. The New Year is a day of rest from their annual toil of working the fields. It is time to celebrate the harvest and enjoy it in happiness with family. (more…)

January 21, 2012

Have a Happy New Year

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Sim Kwang Yang

It is time for us to say goodbye to the old year of the Rabbit and welcome the new year of the Dragon. (more…)

December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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Sim Kwang Yang

A turbulent year in brief review

ONCE again we have come to the end of an old year as we brace ourselves for the beginning of another new year. (more…)

November 12, 2011

Our children deserve protection and love

Sim Kwang Yang

One evening, while I was having dinner at my neighbourhood coffee shop, I witnessed a case of physical abuse, inflicted by a coffee shop hawker on his son.

The young boy, who must have been about 12, had apparently angered his father for some reason. The father was beating the child with his bare hands, over and over again, for about half an hour, in full view of everybody in the food court.

The boy was crying out loud and begging his father to stop, but the hawker was not moved by his pleas, and continued the merciless beating.

I was debating with myself whether to interfere, but in the end I thought   better of it, and left the scene in disgust. (more…)

October 24, 2011

Protect animal rights please

Sim Kwang Yang

MY friend Otto, who is a resident of Lundu, was very upset by the death of his dog Caesar. Otto suspected that the dog was poisoned by somebody from his neighbouring village, for a man was seen leaving that area soon after the incident.

We all wondered who would be so vicious as to kill a lovely, innocent dog out of spite. The fact of the matter is, there are animal haters among us who love to torture animals that have trusted us to look after them.

The story between man and his pet is as old as the story of human civilisation itself. Since time immemorial, the bond between a man and his pet has always been the stuff of legends. It is hard to understand how some human beings could mistreat animals, and yet we hear stories of the cruelty of man towards animals once in a while. (more…)

October 17, 2011

Reflecting on Budget 2012

Sim Kwang Yang

BUDGET 2012 is now being debated in parliament. If I remember correctly, the budget takes 16 days for a full debate and the final vote.

Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy, which respects the principle that there should be no taxation without consent from the people. That is why the money allocated for the budget, which shall come from the taxation of the people, must first be referred to parliament.

Budget 2012 comes at a critical juncture, at a time when the country is expecting another general election. During the last general election, the opposition parties made  unprecedented gains, denying the Barisan Nasional of a two-thirds majority. That is why Budget 2012, as the last budget before another general election, shall receive the full attention of the rakyat. (more…)

October 10, 2011

Hudud and our shared political future

Sim Kwang Yang

The debate over whether to implement hudud law in Malaysia resurfaced again recently, with controversial remarks made by the leading lights of the DAP and PAS.

This is a longstanding topic of great importance among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing has made a subtly nuanced statement that he has no objection to Muslims in Kelantan to propose the Hudud law, if the people insist on it, and if that is also the expressed wish of the non-Muslims in Kelantan.

This is an epoch-making statement that reflects a much more open stand than before, on the thorny issue of the Islamic state. (more…)

October 8, 2011

Hurrah for multi-racial Sarawak

Sim Kwang Yang

NOWHERE in Malaysia can you find so many people of different ethnic origins living side by side in peace and mutual respect.

True enough, the various races are more segregated in the urban areas, but outside on the fringes of the urban communities, people of different ethnic origins tend to mix readily over the long period of living together.

Many years ago, I went to Long Bulan, a bustling Kenyah community who have lived there for generations.  I was surprised to find many Ibans living there, and marrying into the local Kenyah community and co-existing side by side in perfect mutual respect.  There, the Kenyah Chiefs told me, that the influx of timber workers from outside marrying into the local population had resulted in the Iban immigrants, integrating with the Kenyahs over a long period of time. (more…)

October 3, 2011

An insider’s guide to party hopping

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Sim Kwang Yang

The BN, with their superior financial resources, can easily induce political defection from the opposition forces by offering huge financial rewards to the turncoats.

From time to time throughout history, elected reps have been induced to switch sides to the BN in the middle of their terms, in order to change the balance of power in state assemblies and as well as in Parliament.

The most recent furore involves the change of the state government in Perak in 2008.

Because of the defection of three state assemblypersons to the BN, Pakatan Rakyat lost their hold on state power, causing a change of the state government in the middle of their term of office.

Generally, such changing of sides can be effected by the offer of money and political positions to the defectors. (more…)

September 26, 2011

What will replace the ISA?

Sim Kwang Yang

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on the eve of Malaysia Day that the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Emergency Ordinance would be repealed. These pieces of legislation have been part of Malaysian political life for the last 50 years.

The announcement has caused some confusion among Malaysians. On the one hand, there is almost universal support for the withdrawal of the ISA, but on the other, questions remain on what the new replacement legislation would look like. The mistrust of the Malaysian public regarding the proposed new laws is understandable.

The ISA was legislated in 1960, at a time when Malaysia was very much under the threat of the Communist Insurgency, while being destabilised by great ethnic tension as a result of the May 13 incident. (more…)

September 17, 2011

Reflecting on the Mooncake Festival

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Sim Kwang Yang

ANOTHER Mooncake Festival has come and gone. Known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, it falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Lunar Calendar. Although it is one of the largest festivals for the Chinese community, its importance in Malaysia has somewhat waned in recent decades.

The Mooncake Festival has been celebrated in China for thousands of years. Like many festivals, it has its roots among the many myths according to Chinese beliefs.

Growing up in Malaysia, I heard many such myths from an early age. According to one such myth, the Mid-Autumn festival began when the Han Chinese in China rose up in revolt against their Mongolian conquerors during the Wuen’s Dynasty. Rule in China was reverted back to the Han Chinese people under the Ming Dynasty. (more…)

September 16, 2011

Sabah and Sarawak: when will they become Malaysia’s real king makers?

amin iskandar article 291008 merdeka

Sim Kwang Yang

Today is Malaysia Day, commemorating the 48 anniversary of Sarawak and Sabah independence through forming Malaysia with Singapore and the Malayan Federation.I purposely did not comment on it, since there are far more people nowadays talking about the meaning of this date.  I have also stopped talking about the 20 point agreement signed in a joint memorandum 48 years ago.

We all know that Sarawak and Sabah have had a raw deal from 48 years of Malaysian independence.  The thing to think about is how to reverse this trend.

Sarawak has 31 parliamentary seats and Sabah 25 parliamentary seats, which were all but swept by the BN in the 2008 general elections,  Except one in Sarawak that is Bandar Kuching parliamentary seats. The Sarawak and Sabah state governments are also firmly in the hands of the state BN. (more…)

A tribute to rice

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Sim Kwang Yang 

WE are Asians and our staple diet is rice. Rice is the very essence of life, the very sustenance of our existence.

Rice is also a favourite topic of conversation. Upon greeting our friends, the first thing we enquire is often “have you eaten rice yet?” And yet, we tend to take our rice for granted as we forget to pray for our sustenance before every meal. It remains a sobering fact in life that we must eat rice a few times a day.

In Malaysia, we seldom experience any shortage of supply of rice. The government has made sure there is plentiful supply of this daily necessity. We should not take our rice for granted though because we have no lack of experts warning us about food shortages in the world. In Africa and other parts of the world, there have been reports of the occasional famines and some human beings are actually dying from the lack of food. (more…)

September 11, 2011

The nihilism of 911

september 11 2001 wtc attack 911

Sim Kwang Yang

Ex nihilo nihil fit! Nothing comes from nothing: This was a famous ancient Latin expression of western nihilism, which tried, against all odds, to express the futility of nothingness.

It is the most futile and empty human thought, and yet it is ever present on the world stage, as was the case with the tragedy of 911.

Like all of you, I have vivid memories of that dramatic moment ten years ago. I was trying to teach Philosophy at the Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur, when some students came up and explained to me the horrendous nihilistic event that had scorched the sky of New York City.

Instinctively, I knew that world history had changed. (more…)

September 5, 2011

Potpourri story of Malaysian independence

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Sim Kwang Yang

The nation has launched into another orgy of National Day celebrations, as the country celebrates the 54th anniversary of Merdeka. That, of course, is the story of the country’s independence, from the point of view of the Malaysian national narrative.

This interpretation of our national story always runs counter to my personal memory of the formation of the country. In my personal recollection, Malaysia is only 48 years old, as Malaysia was declared an independent nation only on September 16, 1963.

But according to the received wisdom of our written history, Malaysia was a mere continuation of the great Malayan project, starting out with the birth of the Malay nation in 1957.


August 29, 2011

Aidilfitri – a time for forgiveness, reconciliation

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Sim Kwang Yang

Malaysia is poised on the eve of yet another Aidilfitri celebration, spanning the entire month of Syawal. It is a joyous occasion for Muslims, as it signifies a personal triumph, and a victory of self-restraint and abstinence, symbolising purification and renewal.

The ‘balik kampung’ exodus is underway, nearly reducing the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur to a ghost town, as the Malay Muslim population throughout the nation move back to their ‘kampung’ homes to renew their connection with their ethnic roots.

Every year, I am deeply affected by this mood of national joy on the eve of another Aidilfitri. This is a fine multi-racial tradition in Malaysia, for we celebrate all the major festivals of the various races, with an abundance of joy.  (more…)

August 27, 2011

End game for Tripoli

Sim Kwang Yang

AT the time of writing, rebels in Tripoli are closing down on forces loyal to Gaddafi to deliver a conclusive blow in the long, drawn out battle for Libya.

Six months after the revolution began, the world is finally on the verge of witnessing the end of the historic struggle of the Libyan people for their freedom to determine their own fate.

Thousands have died in the struggle, as Gaddafi continues to cling to the last vestiges of his hold on power. The dictator’s whereabouts are unknown.

But in the last moments of his grip on his country, all parties are prepared for some kind of last ditch effort. He is expected to deliver as destructive a final retaliation as possible. (more…)

August 9, 2011

Festival of the Hungry Ghostsis

Sim Kwang Yang

Once again, many Chinese in Malaysia are geared up for the celebration of the Hungry Ghost Festival, which lasts for the whole seventh month of their lunar calendar.

This is one of the biggest festive occasions for many Chinese Malaysians, and elsewhere in the world, wherever the Chinese dwell.

The festival has a long history, having been honoured over thousands of years in mainland China. According to popular legends, all the ghosts in Hell would be released on earth for that entire month.

It is a belief of the Chinese that they should feed these hungry ghosts well, in memory of their ancestors. (more…)

August 7, 2011

Why we must clean up the postal vote

Sim Kwang Yang

Now that the Bersih 2.0 campaign to clean up the electoral roll as well as the electoral process has received national attention, it is time to look at the messy business of casting postal votes by a limited section of the electorate.

In Malaysian elections of the past, postal votes have saved various ruling party candidates from defeat in several electoral contests. An inexplicably overwhelming majority of postal votes invariably goes to the incumbent.

Electoral reform must include a review of the system of casting postal votes, to ensure the sacrosanct secrecy of the votes.

At the moment, there is very little confidentiality in the postal votes that have been cast by the police personnel, armed forces and the Election Commission workers. (more…)

August 1, 2011

Socialism has vital role to play in M’sia


Sim Kwang Yang

The long-silenced voice of socialism in Malaysia has once again been heard, following the arrest and release of Dr Jeyakumar and his five comrades from his Party Sosialis Malaysia, under the unjust Emergency Ordinance.

Once again, people are asking: what is socialism?

People in the Home Ministry would like to associate the idea of socialism with communism.

All communists are socialists, but not all socialists are communists. The confusion in Malaysia has arisen because of a lack of general knowledge about the basic terms used in politics in the ideological sphere.


July 24, 2011

Are the winners always right?

Sim Kwang Yang

Niccolo Machiavelli was one of the greatest philosophers of politics in the past few centuries. 

His greatest achievement was to state the obvious, that is: “You are always right, if you win,” in the affairs of mankind. 

“Let a prince then concern himself with the acquisition or the maintenance of the state; the means employed will always be considered honourable and praised by all, for the mass of mankind is always swayed by appearances, and by the outcome of an enterprise,” he advised. (more…)

July 18, 2011

Revisiting The Republic

egypt revolution mubarak steps down crowd in square 1

Sim Kwang Yang

The Republic is one of the dialogues created by Socrates, as recorded by Plato, his student.

The central issue of contention in The Republic is when Socrates and his interlocutors try to answer the question: What is justice?

Since that time, for two and a half millennia, The Republic has been a standard text for all political discussions, in all corners of the world.

In trying to answer the question, Socrates’ student, Polemarchus, proposed that justice is to the advantage of the stronger.

Throughout history philosophers and teachers of mankind have given that definition of justice, to generations of people who have enquired after the subject. (more…)

July 11, 2011

Thousands of ordinary folk stand up for change


Sim Kwang Yang

Writing this column compels me to bear witness to some momentous events in our nation’s history. Yesterday, I bore personal test
imony to the massive Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur.

There was considerable police presence throughout the nation’s capital. By the morning of July 9, Kuala Lumpur was like a ghost town, a far cry from the bustling ambience of this, the largest city in Malaysia.

Suddenly, at about 1pm, large crowds of people began to materialise, as if out of thin air. The jostling hordes of humanity began to choke up the streets, and every crossing was filled with a mass of people. (more…)

July 4, 2011

Yellow is sunshine

Sim Kwang Yang

“Yellow is sunshine. It is a warm colour that, like red, has conflicting symbolism. On the one hand, it denotes happiness and joy but on the other hand, yellow is the colour of cowardice and deceit.

“Yellow is one of the warm colours. Because of the high visibility of bright yellow, it is often used for hazard signs and some emergency vehicles. Yellow is cheerful.

“For years yellow ribbons were worn as a sign of hope as women waited from their men to come marching home from war. Today, they are still used to welcome home loved ones. It is use for hazard signs creates an association between yellow and danger, although not quite as dangerous as red.” (more…)

June 20, 2011

Sarawak, land of the occult?

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Sim Kwang Yang

Beneath the veneer of the modern state, Sarawak is a land where the rich legacies of folk tales and localised beliefs still play a crucial part in the daily lives of her people.

In the lived experience of Sarawakians, the mysterious and inexplicable world of the occult lives very close to the hearts of the local residents.

Everybody in Sarawak can tell you a ghost story or two, about a close encounter of the spiritual kind.

We may live as if these stories do not exist, but in the mental landscape of Sarawakians, the rich store of folklore surrounding our daily lives has even greater reality than the physical world around us. (more…)

June 19, 2011

Bersih rally, again!

Sim Kwang Yang

The country is geared up for a second Bersih rally, to bring pressure upon the government to institute meaningful electoral reform in Malaysia.

The first Bersih rally was held on Nov 10, 2007. That managed to draw a huge crowd of opposition supporters, from all corners of Kuala Lumpur and beyond.

Bersih marchers were set against the strict warning from the police and the Home Ministry’s declaration that the rally was “illegal”.

Even so, the rally organisers managed to present their demands for electoral reform in Malaysia to the Agong’s palace. (more…)

June 10, 2011

End to an era of ethnic tragedies

Sim Kwang Yang

Following  the arrest of the Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic in Belgrade recently, the world can now close a page on one of the most atrocious chapters in the modern history of mankind.

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic in 2008 and his presentation to the International Court of Justice was an attempt by the international community to bring the war crime tribunal in the Hague to a useful conclusion.

Meanwhile, another major criminal in the Balkan war, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, tried in 2001, was the first part of the attempt by the International Court of Justice. (more…)

June 4, 2011

Remembering the June 4 tragedy

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tiananmen china anniversary amid tight security 040609 01

Sim Kwang Yang

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of that tragic event when thousands of university students and lecturers were massacred on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

I can still remember my shock and pain when learning of the news 22 years ago.

In China, as in any other country, the use of tanks and machine guns to mow down peaceful demonstrations demanding more democracy by unarmed citizens is a crime against humanity.

I also remember the many debates with my Chinese friends in Malaysia 22 years ago. They said what China needed was the kind of economic liberalisation that Deng Xiaoping was pushing, and not democracy demanded by the demonstrators. (more…)

June 1, 2011

Gayu Guru, Gerai Nyamai

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Sim Kwang Yang

GREAT universal joy has arrived in Sarawak again, with the celebration of yet another Gawai Day on June 1 in the Land of the Hornbills. It is the most joyous occasion for our Dayak brothers and sisters as they rejoice in this most auspicious festival, in the only place on earth they can call their Homeland.This is what Wikipedia says about Gawai Day: “Up till 1962, the British colonial government refused to recognise Dayak Day. Gawai Dayak was formally gazetted on Sept 25, 1964 as a public holiday in place of Sarawak Day. It was first celebrated on June 1, 1965 and became a symbol of unity, aspiration and hope for the Dayak community. Today, it is an integral part of Dayak social life. It is a thanksgiving day marking good harvest and a time to plan for the new farming season or activities ahead.”

Gawai Day is also the most significant of Sarawak’s public holidays. This is the only day in the year that all the shops throughout Sarawak are closed and all the streets are eerily empty, as members of the Dayak community return to their villages for festivities. The fair land of Sarawak is completely shut down for business during these few days. (more…)

May 29, 2011

The general election: A fulcrum for change

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pkr selangor government 090308

Sim Kwang Yang

People in the Malaysian ‘political class’ are now all excited over the impending general election, speculated to be held anytime after July 2011.

Malaysia now sits at the fulcrum of her history. This election can open up opportunities for major political change, which may alter the face of the nation forever.

At the moment, BN maintains its grip, as it still commands a simple majority in Parliament, while holding onto power in 9 of the 13 states.

But after the political tsunami of 2008, BN can no longer regard its political dominance as sacrosanct, for the world is a fast changing place.  (more…)

May 28, 2011

Beware the spectre of inflation

Sim Kwang Yang

In our society, housewives or homemakers are the people most sensitive to the market prices of daily necessities, because they have to deal with inflation every day.

I meet these housewives regularly at my local supermarket and wet market. Occasionally, I see them venting their anger at rising prices on the local tradesmen.

But I know the problem of inflation has a much wider dimension than the retail prices charged at the market stalls.

We are told by economists that inflation is the result of too much money chasing too few goods. (more…)

May 23, 2011

A matter of faiths

utusan malaysia kritsian agama rasmi

Sim Kwang Yang

That Utusan Malaysia has recently stirred up yet another controversy surrounding our religious faith is evidence that opinions on such a sensitive subject always has relevance in Malaysia.

I was reminded of what John Rawls wrote in his book entitled ‘A Theory of Justice’ in 1971.

Rawls invented the theoretical position behind the original ‘veil of ignorance’.

In short, to consider the morality of any action, we must assume that we do not know how the position we take is going to further our self-interest or not. Then we can prepare for a moral standpoint. (more…)

May 21, 2011

Noise pollution

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Sim Kwang Yang

WE are surrounded by a sea of discordant noise in our surrounding public sphere.

We are so used to the noise pollution all around us that we think nothing of it. Indeed, we accept it as a given fact of life. But there are mavericks like me who hate noise of any kind, so that at times I find the public places in Malaysia intolerable.

Take the ubiquitous coffee shop for instance. The space inside the coffee shop is the most polluted public utility, bombarded by all kinds of ambient noise all day long. It seems as if Malaysians have lost the ability to talk in whispers, or measured tones. The celebrated coffee shop sounds like a fish market at all hours of the day. (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…)

May 3, 2011

Sex and politics make strange bedfellows

Sim Kwang Yang

I was having my coffee in my Cheras neighbourhood when I saw a group of strangers passing out pamphlets to passersby.

I took a peek and discovered them to be the photocopied versions of the much maligned sex video.

The photograph was not clear, but the rough outline of a couple engaging in sex caused me a great deal of personal embarrassment.

The picture was supposedly that of Anwar Ibrahim, though I saw no resemblance between the picture and the person. (more…)

May 2, 2011

Handbook for rural campaigning in Sarawak

Sim Kwang Yang

BY NOW, the DAP has deduced the urban campaign in Sarawak down to a science, after 33 years of practice. Since the DAP first came to Sarawak in the late 1970s, they have become experts at winning the hearts and minds of urban voters in Bumi Kenyalang.

But campaigning in rural Sarawak is largely left to the personal whims of the political personalities on the ground within the opposition front. The success of the BN machinery in rural Sarawak, in contrast, is a testimony to the strength of the ruling coalition in this state, the largest in Malaysia. The BN’s grip on power in Sarawak has yet to be shaken by the challenge from the opposition coalition. (more…)

April 27, 2011

Reflections on PRN10 Sarawak

Hornbill CornerSim Kwang Yang

My first brush with electoral politics in Malaysia happened 33 years ago, in 1978. I was in Kuching for the summer vacation, a break from my university course in philosophy. I had already enrolled in graduate school, intending to pursue a PhD in that obscure subject.

I read in the newspaper that a group of Kuching people were trying to set up a new branch for the DAP. I knew nothing about the DAP and did not know their secretary-general Lim Kit Siang. But I have always been convinced that democracy is good for the people, in Sarawak or elsewhere. So I walked up to the local contact person and signed up as a member. (more…)

April 24, 2011

Time of reckoning: The next general election

Sim Kwang Yang

Following the conclusion of the April 16 state election inSarawak, the country must now be gearing up for the next general election, which could be as early as June or July this year.

This national election will be the most significant electoral contest in the history of Malaysia.

My personal and fervent hope is to see the emergence of an alternative government in the country.

Without the possibility of a change in government, there can be no true democracy in any modern polity.  (more…)

April 10, 2011

A plea to Batu Lintang voters

Sim Kwang Yang

Dear friends,

I appeal to all of you to give your support to See Chee How, the PKR candidate in the Batu Lintang constituency, in the Sarawak state election on April 16.

I call on you to do this in order to teach Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud a lesson in democracy. Taib is one of the most powerful people in Malaysia because of his phenomenal wealth and he has plundered the wealth of Sarawak for over 30 years.  (more…)

April 5, 2011

Anwar optimistic as PKR unveils list of 48 candidates to take on Taib

Anwar optimistic as PKR unveils list of 48 candidates to take on Taib

Sheela Sri Jaya, Malaysia Chronicle

PKR has announced it will contest 48 of the 71 seats in Sarawak’s legislative assembly. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was present at the press conference organised by PKR Sarawak chief Baru Bian who unveiled the much-anticipated list on Monday.

Baru himself will be contesting the Ba’kelalan seat, where speculation is rife that Prime Minister Najib Razak wants his protege Idris Jala to make a challenge for. (more…)

April 4, 2011

Art of war in the Land of the Hornbill

Sim Kwang Yang 

How is Sun Tzu’s writing relevant to us? A general election is like any war – the contestants in the polls must win the hearts and minds of the voters. Indeed, they can all learn something from Sun Tzu’s immortal work, ‘The Art of War’.

“Know your enemy and you can win a hundred battles,” said Sun Tzu. The Sarawak election is no different from a military battlefield, for the players with the most intimate knowledge of their opponents would enjoy a huge advantage over them.


March 27, 2011

Can S’wak pull off a political tsunami?

Sim Kwang Yang

Finally, the 10th general state election in Sarawak has arrived, with the polling date fixed on April 16, 2011.

The question to ask is: can we expect a political tsunami, in which the long established Barisan Nasional will suffer its worst ever bashing at the hands of the opposition parties?

In the past few months, we have seen dramatic and unexpected changes in the Arab world. (more…)

February 27, 2011

History closing its chapter in Libya

Sim Kwang Yang

As I write, the violent events in Libya are coming to a head, as an unreconstructed strongman, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, looks grimly at the inevitable end of his rule. Another despot is counting the days remaining of his political life, just like other dictators in much of the Arab world.

The people’s revolt against dictators, sweeping across much of the Arab heartland, has come as a surprise. The disintegration of Libya comes with a heavy price in lives and blood, as Gaddafi continues to hang onto power, even though his tenuous hold on his country is slipping. (more…)

February 23, 2011

Battle for the hearts and minds of Sarawakians

Sim Kwang Yang

The state of Sarawak is now gearing towards the 10th state elections.

Sarawakians must go to the polls before July this year.

Any state or national election is a major event in the political life of the people.

Malaysia is a working democracy, and voting into power the government of the day is one of the most important events for common citizens. (more…)

February 2, 2011

Chinese New Year when I was a kid

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chinese new year decorations 120207

Sim Kwang Yang

The happiest time of my life was spent in awaiting the arrival of the Chinese New Year.

I grew up in Kuching not long after Second World War. Malaysia had just been formed in 1963. It was a time of universal poverty, and Kuching was a two-horse town. Nobody was really rich.

The people who owned cars usually drove British models like Vauxhall and Morris Minor, and they were few and far in between. Everybody else went about their business on foot or on bicycle.  (more…)

January 17, 2011

Votes for sale in Sarawak

Sim Kwang Yang

Elections in Western democracies is based on the cardinal principle that the vote must be free and fair. The system of party politics has evolved through many centuries of trial and error in Europe and North America.

In a young democracy like Malaysia’s, the political institutions are a long way from developing the kind of political maturity practiced by Western nations. It will take us many decades, perhaps centuries, to ensure that voting is free and fair, and that all corrupt practices are punished mercilessly by the political system.  (more…)

January 11, 2011

Imagining a nation? Not in Sarawak

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Sim Kwang Yang

The student of politics naturally assumes that the nation state is the most natural and the most logical destination in the journey of a group of people with a shared past and a common destiny. By and large, the nation state is deemed as a rational development in the politics of a people struggling for legitimacy.

This is not always the case. In Malaysia, the idea of a people united by a common history, language and a shaped destiny has come under severe strain from the linguistic, racial and religious tensions of a divided people. (more…)

January 2, 2011

Happy New Year, everyone!

Filed under: Alternatives — Hornbill Unleashed @ 10:14 AM
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Sim Kwang Yang

The new year signifies a change of season. We ought to count ourselves lucky, for we live in a tropical country, where every day is a new spring.

People living in temperate zones of the world are sometimes less fortunate; they have to contend with snowstorms, for example, during the current cold spell in Europe, the worst winter season in living memory. (more…)

January 1, 2011

Sunday Market in Satok

Filed under: Alternatives,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Sim Kwang Yang

One of the most famous and popular landmarks in Kuching city has to be the Sunday Market, the open air marketplace located at Jalan Satok. Rare is the odd resident of Kuching city who has not made a trip to this congested, lively and fascinating market place on a weekend.

The Sunday Market started out as a place to buy jungle produce from the farmers from the hinterland of Kuching city, mostly from Bau, Lundu, Padawan and Serian. Farmers from the surrounding area would take buses or hitch rides, and start to congregate at the market as early as Saturday morning, and begin trading at noon time. (more…)

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