30 April 2010

I'll see you in court!

Could this be the worst thing ever to hear anyone say to you? I’ll see you in court.

I have three stories.

This is my first.

For me, I have a personal experience of having been in court once before. It isn't a happy memory. I wasn't even on trial, just a witness, giving testimony. I remember the solemnity in the air, the cold courtroom and the depressing attire of the lawyers and the unsmiling face of the judge. It's not something I would ever want to experience again, not if I can help it.

Twenty years ago and yet it's still fresh in my mind. It was a simple, straightforward case and when my lawyer told me we lost, I was a little disappointed. In fact, I just thought to myself that it's over now and I'll move on. My brilliant lawyer, however, decided we would appeal. I wasn't interested. I felt that we gave it a shot, lost and now it's time to forget it. I did not want to go through it all again. Still he pressed on and said the magic words that changed my mind. He said, "You don't have to be present". Well he said many things to me like I had nothing to lose and that I'd never know if I could have won if I didn't give it another go. He insisted that I would be exactly where I was and nothing would change if I lost again but he highlighted what it would mean, if I won. However, the clincher was that I didn't have to be there.

For that reason, he appealed and we won. I got, what I thought was, a sizable amount paid to me in compensation. It restored my faith in the words "right is might".

On my own, I would not have taken up that fight. Why? Well, we are not big wigs! I feel that unless you are some big shot with loads of spare cash, then you can afford to go to court. Therefore, I am blessed to know a great lawyer, who I consider a good friend, and who was willing to stand by me with the assurances I had needed.

Do we take all our grievances to court? No, most times we can just settle it with just a confrontation.

This brings about my second story.

Also about 20 years ago, a girlfriend of mine hurt me deeply. She organised an outing with her boyfriend (my husband's mutual friend) and another woman. Her boyfriend then called my husband with the pretext that he needed advice and wanted to meet up. So my husband joined him. My husband came home early and the look on his face told me he had something to say. He surely did. He said that my girlfriend and her boyfriend had brought a friend for him to make a foursome. Somewhat like a blind date for my husband. My girlfriend told him not to tell me but he said, "You should know me better than that".

Well, you can imagine my disappointment at such an act of betrayal by my friend. If not for my husband telling me about it, I would not have known at all.

In any case, I called up my girlfriend the next morning. I asked her if she had had a great time the night before and she knew that I knew. She tried to sideline the issue but I went straight for the jugular. I told her that she just threw away years of friendship for a couple of hours of fun. I asked her if she really thought that my husband would keep it from me and if she really believed I would never find out. I also asked if she thought it was worth it now. I never really gave her a chance to explain. She was deathly silent. I knew she was shocked by my confrontation. In that instant, our friendship dating back to primary school days went dead. I didn't want to know of her or anything about her again.

The next morning, a huge bouquet of the most beautiful roses arrived at my doorstep, with a card from both of them. I put the flowers next to the TV and kept looking at the card and thinking about why people do wicked things and expect that it could be made “okay” with flowers and an apology. When my husband got home, he saw the flowers and asked me if I had accepted the apology. I looked at him and said "no". I couldn't be friends with someone who did not respect my marriage.

Yet, years later, I got over the hurt, and the outrage I felt, and I have forgiven, and I had almost forgotten it until this week. We are friends again and no mention of the past has been necessary. Why harbour such a negative emotion?

This brings me to my third and final story.

How far would you go to protect your family? I think that for most of us, we won't really know until we have to face it.

I can take gossip. They are meaningless and spiteful. I am probably guilty of it myself, at times. I can even take rumours. They are usually baseless and eventually die a natural death. 

When it goes beyond a gossip and a rumour, and appears to be defamation of character, can we do something?

Do we just have to accept that malicious lies can be repeated to "God only knows how many other people"?

When do we decide that it's enough? I know.

It's enough and should be stopped when words falsely said of a person implies that criminal intent was present.

I'm not a lawyer. Most of you already know that. Yet even cursory glances at websites show me that I have a right to feel that I have been wronged. People, who make these kinds of statements or write them, have to be accountable.

The strange thing about the internet is that it can be a tool used for or against you. Once you put something up in cyberspace, you can't ever retrieve it. You cannot know who has made a copy of it or saved it in their hard disk. There are "nuts" who just browse sites and save things for "just in case" and then again, there are “nuts” who put naked pictures of themselves and think that when they remove them, they are now safe. There are also nuts who copy and paste from other people's blogs or magazines and put it as their own work. Tsk! tsk! No shame!!!! There are also “nuts” who think that if they erase it, then it disappears forever from cyberspace. No, it doesn't.

Traces of it are floating around and if Facebook is anything to go by, I'd say that whatever is on your wall space literally belongs to you and becomes your property. Hence, only you can delete it. Or not.

Very recently, I had to make a decision about whether to let go or fight against what I considered an injustice to my family. Not fisticuffs but in a Court of Law! I wouldn’t know if I could win. Maybe what I consider unreasonable is really acceptable behaviour. Maybe people really can say nonsensical stuff and get away with it. I don't know but I was willing to find out, short of a face-to-face apology.

If no apology was forthcoming, I would have gone to see a lawyer. As a citizen of the world, I cannot believe that I am helpless against people who don't hesitate to say whatever they want to say.

Why a lawyer? Well, I believe that if it cannot be solved amicably between the two parties, then a relevant authority must decide. My conscience will not permit me to pretend it didn’t happen. If I lose, I'll have it on good authority that I am overreacting and not because someone said to me, you can't win lah! 

For me, it was a 50-50 situation.

I could win. Why not? I have witnesses and evidence.

I could lose. True. I would be right back where I started (minus legal fees).

My heart and my head told me I had to be true to myself. If there is no apology then I will have to see this through, to clear any doubts from my mind that I had done everything humanly possible to protect my family.

Fortunately, this had a happy ending. The person sent me email offering to apologise, on my terms.
Did I accept? I went further than that. I took the email as an admission of that person's guilt and feelings of remorse. It couldn't have been easy to eat humble pie. Yet, the person made the effort.  I admire that humility.

For me, for my family, it was enough. We declined the personal apology and as far as we are concerned, it is over.

We are not bullies but we don't want to be bullied either.

What have I learnt from this blog post? I have learnt that I can forgive if I really want to. It is always a matter of choice.

23 April 2010

Doing my bit for Hulu Selangor!

Click link to read more.
Internet service disruption from tomorrow till Sunday

Hmmmmm!  Well, what do you know?
*wonders about the timing*.

I suppose this won't affect me since I'm in Singapore, for the weekend! LOL


Well, It's all about Hulu Selangor, this weekend, folks! 

If you have access, however, limited, do read news from both sides and be informed before you vote!

I don't suppose it would make any difference to the people of Hulu Selangor that I would choose Zaid Ibrahim, if I lived there.  

It doesn't matter in the virtual world because, I think, even a virtual vote sent out to the universe, must count for something!

It's all about choosing well.  Go here (Zaid untuk Rakyat) to have a look at his site.

For me, the moment that he lent support to the anti-I.S.A., he became my hero.  He has a heart and he uses his head.  

And if you haven't read this yet, here it is for easy reference (without permission)!

Hold Your Horses, Mr Muhyiddin

As the shootout for Hulu Selangor draws near, the dirty campaign of UMNO has begun in full swing. Predictably, UMNO are not focusing on the issues of the rakyat. UMNO are focused on the only thing they know, and that is: to spread lies and misinformation.

According to The Deputy Prime Minister and his hired hands, one of the issues plaguing my candidacy is my disciplinary record, specifically of being suspended by UMNO for money politics. As a result of that, they conveniently use this to accuse me of everything under the sun: corrupt, greedy, wealthy, etc.

As always, the truth will set you free. It is perhaps something UMNO is unfamiliar with. Time and time again, they continue to underestimate the intelligence of the rakyat and try to confuse them with fiction, but the rakyat knows better.

I have defended myself from these accusations many times, but will do so again.

So here it is…

In 2001, I won the contest for the post of UMNO Division Chief for Kota Bharu. Took me three attempts and 10 years to do that but I did it.

That position left them with no choice but to field me as a candidate for March 2004 General Election. I won a hard fought contest for the Kota Bharu Parliamentary seat, although the 3 State Assembly seats in that parliamentary constituency was won by PAS. (Somewhat similar to the present situation in Hulu Selangor where the 3 State seats were won by BN in 2008, and now I am trying to win it again for PKR). I expected a more supportive reaction from UMNO considering the significance of the victory — it was the first time after 15 years of PAS rule, that BN at last won the Kota Bharu seat.

But it was not to be. They were ready to knife me again. By June 2004, there was again another contest for the UMNO Kota Bharu Division. Fortunately, I was able to retain the seat as Division Chief, uncontested.

But other positions in the party were up for grabs. During that contest , certain individuals issued complaints by way of signing false statutory declarations that I had given money to “my agent”, the late Datuk Zahari Wahab in exchange for votes, purportedly on my behalf.

On the 16th of October 2004, I was charged for money politics. I found this charge to be utterly ridiculous, because I won the seat uncontested. There was no opponent. So, how could I be charged for money politics, when there is no contest? But within UMNO, I guess anything is possible.

For the charges to have any merit, there must be a witness to support the charge of money politics. If accusations against my friend Zahari Wahab of giving money for votes had any merit, how were they certain it wasn’t for Zahari’s own campaign? At the time, Zahari himself was contesting for the Vice President of the Division. Even if it was true that Zahari had indulged in money politics, he might have done it for himself as he was the one contesting. By the time the 1st hearing came up before the UMNO Disciplinary board, Zahari Wahab had unfortunately passed away. Incidentally he too, was charged with money politics which I believe was also false.. But with his demise, the UMNO Disciplinary Board could not put forth Zahari to support their claims. They did not put forth any other witness to support these accusations, other than the false statutory declarations which I had no opportunity to challenge the maker of these statements. I described the proceedings as a sham and that upset them. They were determined to pass this judgment on me without any basis whatsoever.

It was clear that I was being framed. I challenged and questioned the system of how the Board arrived at their decision without any supporting proof or evidence.

In the end, the UMNO Disciplinary Board ruled that I was guilty of money politics. But, they were indeed willing to spare me any punishment, on the condition that I apologize to the UMNO disciplinary board for questioning their process and authority.

Under no circumstances was I ever going to apologize to the board. Any apology for my alleged actions to the board would implicitly be admitting my guilt, and I was not going to compromise on the principle of the matter and my innocence. When I refused to apologize, that was when the UMNO board suspended me for 3 years.

In 2008, when I was made a Minister, I did not wish for there to be any doubt as to my character and credibility as I undertook this important responsibility in what I consider to be a reformist Government. I wanted to clear my name of any suspicion of those charges. So, I requested the then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to investigate me further, to clear my name once and for all. Till today, they have not come forth with any outcome. If I was really as guilty as so they claim, why did they make me a Minister? Because the truth is, I did not do anything as claimed by my opponents in UMNO; that is why I was made a Minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin suggested today that I was picked as the candidate for Hulu Selangor supposedly because of my deep pockets. My lovely wife and daughter, Alysha are very excited now; they asked me where did I hide my wealth and they insist that I take them out shopping. Now, I’m in trouble!

I suggest it is best for the DPM to hold his tongue. It is certainly not befitting of a DPM to stoop so low and make such claims. If he were to make such claims, then he must stand by those statements.

I was never wealthy, unlike other UMNO Ministers. I was a Minister for only 6 months. And before that I was never a crony of any one, nor obtained any concessions or APs or even blocks of shares. In the interest of transparency, I would be prepared to disclose to the public my possessions and my so called ‘wealth’; and that of my family and my children as well, on the condition that the DPM and his colleagues in Cabinet are willing to do the same of their own possessions, of their families, of their children, and their nominees.

During my brief tenure as Minister, (Tun) Pak Lah and I suggested that Cabinet Ministers should declare their assets. To show that BN Ministers are clean and not afraid of full accountability and transparency in their dealings . Many senior ministers opposed this idea. They opposed everything good that Pak Lah wanted to do. I wonder what the DPM has to say about this now.

If he hasn’t got anything useful to add, I suggest to the DPM that we move on and address the issues I have raised for the people in Hulu Selangor. And the issues facing the country. Lets have a fair fight and see who has the support of the people!


17 April 2010

Till death (or divorce) do us part

When Joe, a nice man married for over 50 years died, his wife, Myrtle was devastated. A couple of months later, Myrtle also died. Once in heaven, Myrtle anxiously looked for Joe.

Suddenly, behind a cloud, she could clearly see him with another woman. She ran towards him, calling his name: "Joe Darling... Joe…..."

Joe said "Hold your horses, woman, and don't 'darling' me. The deal was very clear...

"Until death do us part"


I got that joke from my sis. It stayed in my mind for a while and now I've decided to write about it.

Marriage vows made are valid only as long as both are living. Therefore, the phrase "till death do us part" is really part of the deal. I used to have the notion that love only happens once in a lifetime. When your spouse dies, love shouldn't figure in your life again. That's a myth!!!

So I don't subscribe to that notion anymore. I believe that if one's spouse dies, life must go on. Some may choose to honour the memory of their loved one by remaining alone. Some others just move on and welcome whatever life offers to them with an open heart and mind.

"Till death do us part" is a wise clause to have in a marriage. It opens the door to the one left behind to having a second chance at happiness. After all, why must the death of one mean the end of life for the other?

I know that those who choose never to love again, because they feel they would never find anyone to measure up to the one they lost, are equally normal in every sense of the word. I suspect, though, that they probably frown upon others who can and do move on in another relationship. Those who do, probably raise their eyebrows at those who don't. Neither is the better. Every person is unique and every situation exclusive.

When there is a death, I know that it's the lesser of two evils, if compared to divorce. Death is final.

Divorce, like death, also means the end of a marriage. Both parties agree to give up and move on. Sometimes, only one is emotionally ready to do so and the other is not really given the option to stay.

From what I've seen among family and friends, I think death makes for a cleaner cut. The ties are severed completely. There is no more chance for reconciliation and makes "moving on" a tad easier.

"Till divorce do us part" sounds very much as if everything is over. Kaput. Ended. Not true.

More often than not, the links and old familiar feelings remain for a bit before they fade into oblivion.

Divorce can be amicable. Rare but not impossible because I've seen it firsthand. My parents divorced and they were always cordial. My mom got on with my step-mom. Nevertheless, it's important to know that this can only be so, if both sides close that chapter of their lives and move on. I remember my mom feeling hurt before the divorce. Once she decided to end the relationship, she closed that door and moved on. No more ill feelings and never a twinge of regret. She never looked back and I'm glad for her. It was the right thing for her to do.

Some get divorced and almost immediately remarry. Perhaps they feel smug about moving on so quickly. Not smart, I think. Divorce, like death, should have a mourning period. A time to heal, mend, and be completely over that love. Yes, love would have been there, at the start.

This sort of "cooling off" period is essential because a divorce can be so unpleasant. More so when one pretends to be a victim and betrays the memory of what was once a union of love.

In today's world, the vows "till death do us part" might very well be "till divorce do us part".

What say you?

09 April 2010

Simply And Basically Malaysian - S A B M

S   A   B   M

I'd been challenged to define what this means to me. Although I made efforts to push it to the bottom of my "to do" list, some events kept bringing it to the top, again and again. Finally, I gave up the fight and thought about it during my "driving home from work" time.

It stands for SAYA ANAK BANGSA MALAYSIA. To me, this just simply means, "I AM MALAYSIAN" without the trappings of any form of discrimination.

I have been reading a lot about this on the official website here and on blogs/news/comments/emails. What is gratifying to know is the spirit that the SABM website speaks of, packaged in flesh and bones is real. It's me! It's you!

I am that spirit. Whether I realised it or not, the moment I was born in Malaysia, I inherited that spirit. Many of us forget that this is our right and not a privilege! Our right to be called a Malaysian.

In an earlier post "Of being Number 4", I light-heartedly wrote about it and garnered quite a bit of attention. This, in turn, spurred me to write more and led me to where I am now, sitting at my computer on a Friday night and writing again.

What has happened since that blog?

Wow, I can't really squeeze everything here but suffice to say that I've seen enough to believe that the SABM idea can work. Yes, I believe it and I believe that is half the battle won.

Giving up and thinking that nothing is going to change is too easy. No, I mean, it's being too lazy!

We are constantly bombarded by the naysayers doing their best to convince us nothing will change. Well, I've seen and heard enough recently, to be convinced that something will change and it already has its wheels in motion. We can't perceive it yet but it's alive and deeply rooted in our subconscious mind awaiting an awakening.

We permit the idea of being a Malaysian to be dissected by racists. We stand by and allow our young to be influenced by the concept of a 1Malaysia, which resonates of double standards and inequality.

I'm a Malaysian. I don't want anyone asking me about my race.

I'm a Malaysian. I don't want anyone asking, "Bumiputra" or "non-Bumiputra".

I'm a Malaysian. I don't want anyone asking me where I pray.

I'm a Malaysian. I don't want anyone asking me anything.

I'm a Malaysian.  No further questions, please!


Nothing more but nothing less, than any other guy or gal born here!

(pics from SABM and SanJiun with thanks)

02 April 2010

The enemy of my enemy is my friend!

The phrase the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a proverb that advances the concept that someone who is the enemy of your enemy is therefore your friend. It further means that because two parties have a common enemy, one can use the other to advance their goals.  (From Wikipedia).

I disagree a little about this because the enemy of my enemy is very often not a person.  I think that the enemy of my enemy is the warped mindset.  An enemy (if you consider anybody as one) is usually the opposite of your friend (as Wikipedia nicely puts it)!  So your enemy, let's say 'he' for ease of writing, is a person who relishes your downfalls and glorifies your faults.  
His life, or a part of it, is just a crusade to showboat.  Many decisions revolve around making a public statement that he is doing better.  In fact, he would even befriend those he would not normally be interested in but who he thinks are your enemies, just to make a point.  It's sad because "birds of a feather flock together".

When people begin to live their lives in accordance with hatred and mischief, I know it eats them inside.  So it isn't simply that my enemy is my enemy's friend.  It's more a case of my enemy misunderstanding the true essence of a friend.

In my mind, I think that the weakest people source out the enemies of their enemy.  They court them.  They stay in touch.  Nothing unites them but a misguided sense of camaraderie. They cannot justify what or why they feel and they look for validation with others who might give them some quick fix.  Once they do that, they go down a slippery slope because friendships, true friendships cannot grow when you have a hidden agenda.

I think at some point in my own life, I might have been guilty of it too.  I know that admitting it is half the battle won.  Moving away from that practise is the final hurdle to jump over.  It takes strength of character to discern the reasons for initiating a friendship. 

I'm not saying that every scenario that starts this way ends badly.  I am sure that sometimes you can genuinely find a real friend even when you had the wrong intentions at the beginning.  

However, true friendship sees growth and needs fertilisation.  The crop won't grow if you never intended to nurture it.  The only path you follow is perpetuating a lie and the one who eventually loses would be you.

The enemy of my enemy isn't a tangible being.  The enemy of my enemy is an intangible mindset that shackles the normal protocol of making friends and hinders true freedom to live normally.

I guess what I'm saying is that we should be friends for the right reasons!  Right?

(all photos from here)