Sunday, March 31, 2013

Attention Non-Partisan and Undecided Voters!

You and I, we are powerful.

Our decision will decide who will and who will not be heading to Putrajaya this coming election. We are the kingmakers. We are the Third Force.

Who are we?

We are those who are not aligned to any political parties. Or even if we have a preferred political party, our votes for them are CONDITIONAL! According to some, we are about 30 – 40 % of the total voter count. Meaning, we are the third block; BN, PR and us – The Third Force!

This is not unique to Malaysia. Even in the USA, a nation that boasts a more mature two-party system, the independents represent the largest bloc, 40% in 2012. Democrats only had 31% while Republicans, 27%. It was them who put Obama up for a second term.

The season voters among us probably would have had the experience of voting both for BN and the opposition in the past. Perhaps, historically some of us may have even chosen not to vote - as a form of protest. Our votes and actions depend on the candidates, political situation, and political equation during a particular election.

We are in effect, the most thinking of all the voters. We cannot be bought. We are not easily hood-winked by any side of the political divide, any maverick politician.  Political spin irritates and hypocrisy infuriates us. We want truth, if truth frustrates BN it does not matter to us. If truth frustrates PR, it also does not matter to us. We vote with conscience and because of that, we do not follow anyone blindly. We are the voice of reason; we are the conscience of the nation.

In this coming election, we can choose many paths, but I will confine my discussion to the following five possibilities.

1. We give BN a very strong mandate, like before 2008, far more than the 2/3rd majority – We want a strong government with less politicking. We choose stability and want to focus on the economy. We prefer the ‘China’ way rather than the ‘India’ one where in China projects and government plans could be implemented with greater speed, while in India they need to go through debates over debates. We want to give PM Najib an open track to finish what he has planned out through his ETP and GTP. But we expect the government to go down hard on corruption or else in GE14 we will kick them out.

2. We give instead a very strong mandate to PR – We want a complete overhaul to the system. We want to give PR a chance to implement their promises as per Buku Jingga.  We are open to the possibility and try out DAP’s Malaysian Malaysia. We are also ready to the possibility of turning the country into an ‘Islamic State’ ala PAS ‘Welfare State’ through the amending of the federal constitution - making Shariah the supreme law. We want to restart, reboot. Anything but what we have today. We want to expand our talent pool for leadership outside BN – be they from DAP, PAS or PKR. We feel that Anwar or Hadi can be a good alternative Prime Minister to Najib. We are willing to allow PR to iron out their leadership issues once in power – even if it will cause us some uncertainties. No matter, we expect the new government to go down hard on corruption or else we kick them out in GE14.

3. We allow a hung parliament – This would mean we want to create a new playing field via a new coalition effectively initiating the demise of both BN and PR. We want to leave it to the wisdom of the YDP Agong in formulating a new coalition to bring order, peace, stability, development (minus corruption), and new politics. This would also mean we have also budgeted and acceptted the fact that there may be many attempts to buy over froggies from both sides of the political divide – since both BN and PR are not for anti-frogging law.

4. We reverse the current equation – we give PR the lead but keep it at below 2/3rd majority. This would mean we would like to give PR a chance to proof their case but at the same time we do not want to give them too much power and keep them on their toes at most times. We are ready to go through what we have gone through the last five years; political schisms, tit for tat politics, etc but perhaps at higher intensity. It would be payback time for BN to organise strings of ‘tunjuk perasaan’ to policies, projects and ideas proposed by the PR government. We expect PR to allow freedom of expression as like what they have demanded from BN all this while. We want to allow democracy takes it cause.

5. We keep as per status quo – If we were to choose to do this, what it really means is that we are giving both BN and PR a second chance to correct and proof themselves. We want PR to focus on the states that they are governing and do a good job at it. We do not want another senseless 916 campaign to topple a legitimate government. We do not want to hear anymore blame game since the last term the states were under their care. We want real action, real results not another round of accusing the other side. At the same time we expect BN to fulfil their promises. We want BN to clean up. We do not want old faces that are no longer relevant. We do not want ministers and officials who use their office and the rakyat’s money to fatten up their own family members and cronies. We expect transparency and accountability from both BN and PR ruled governments. We decide what to do next at GE14 based on their performance the next 5 years.

Like me, I have strong convictions that many amongst us have yet to make our decision. We have perhaps just about one more month to decide. Our decision will chart the nation’s future. We are The Third Force.


Anas Zubedy
Kuala Lumpur

Note : This is part of the NO FREE RIDES Campaign. For info click here 

Death of a Child and the Promises of Peace Dialogue by Chaiwat Satha-Anand

Death of a Child and the Promises of Peace Dialogue

Chaiwat Satha-Anand
Chairperson, Strategic Nonviolence Commission, Thailand Research Fund
Professor, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University

On a hot summer afternoon, nothing is better than an ice-cream. When you are nine, the summer ice-cream your mom bought for you when she took you to a fair or something like that attained beautiful meaning.

Nisofian Nisani was in front of the ice-cream shop on Suwanmongkol Road in downtown Pattani when the 5 kg bomb exploded and took away his young life back to the Mercy of God on March 21, 2013 at 1.30 p.m. Fourteen others including his mother were also wounded in the violence that has claimed more than 5,000 lives and physically wounded more than 10,000 people in the past 9 years in southern Thailand, marking this deadly conflict as one of the most mysteriously ferocious in the world today.

The death of this boy at this time assumes special significance since this was the first time an attack on civilians has occurred after the signing of the “General Consensus on Peace Dialogue Process” in Kuala Lumpur on February 28, 2013 and just a week before the follow-up meeting on March 28. The death of this child points to what needs to be talked about in the coming peace dialogue. In addition, this violence, and/or similar incidents that might happen in the near future, would serve as acid tests of the strength of the ensuring peace process.

The appointment of Lt.Gen.Paradorn Pattanatabut, the Secretary General of the National Security Council to sign the document on behalf of the Thai government and tasked with the creation of environment conducive to peace promotion, reflects for the first time a clear policy direction in pursuit of peace dialogue with the insurgents. This policy direction is a result of several factors which include Thaksin’s strong determination to do something about this problem, the Thai-Malaysian governmental collaboration, and perhaps most important – years of hard works by some security officials at different levels, military and civilian, who have engaged various insurgents in some kinds of “talks” without such a unified policy for so many years.

It goes without saying that those who would come to the Kuala Lumpur table on March 28 will be there with different reasons and motivations. There might even be those who believe that in order to engage in “peace dialogue”, all one needs is to exercise strong pressure-read coercion-on the parties involved to make it work. But I would argue that for peace process such as this to work, there is a dire need to understand “peace dialogue” for what it is, what it can or cannot do, what then should be “talked about”, and finally what may be needed to sustain such a peace process.   

The reality of peace dialogue

Peace dialogue is not peace negotiation. The end-result of peace negotiation is usually a peace agreement (or a set of), while for peace dialogue it is- as the signed document suggested-the creation of an environment conducive to peace in the Deep South of Thailand. A most crucial feature of such an environment is trust between the parties which is difficult to cultivate. If forced, a meeting can indeed take place, but often without the trust that would sustain the effort in the long run. Exactly 500 years ago, Machiavelli wrote in his incomparable The Prince that “…like all other things in nature that are born and grow quickly, cannot have roots and branches, so that the first adverse weather destroys them…” (Chapter 7)

It is important to understand that of the conflicts which came to an end in the past 20 years, 80.9% were through peace agreement. Today, 40% of all armed conflicts are open to dialogues of some forms, while about 60% needs external mediation-facilitation.  By the end of 2011, 19.5% of the dialogues were going well and 43.6% faced difficulties. (Escola de Cultura de Pau, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 2012)

Imagine a deadly conflict with its own life cycle, and it should not surprise anyone that among the most difficult to deal with, are four protracted conflicts –Palestine which is now 96 years old (beginning with the November 2, 1917 Balfour declaration), Kashmir - 63, Cyprus - 38, and Western Sahara -21. These are protracted and therefore difficult conflicts, because beyond security of the states involved, the underlying issues are land, identity, sacred spaces, and self governance.

Rattiya Salae, a professor of Malay language at Taksin University pointed out that this southern deadly conflict is about “ ا - ب - تArabic alphabets (Alif, Ba, Tha) for Islam, Bangsa (ethnic culture which includes language) and Tanah (land).  If such is the case, then southern violence in Thailand could also be seen as a similarly protracted deadly conflict which is difficult to deal with, other economic interests, regional competition, or illegal businesses in the area notwithstanding.

Peace dialogue is a part of peace process which is a complex modalities consisting of contacts, explorations, dialogues, negotiations and finally agreement(s). These can be subdivided into informal/formal, indirect/direct. For example, before a formal direct contact such as the one held in Kuala Lumpur last month, there should be three other stages- informal indirect contacts, formal indirect contacts, informal direct contacts. These four stages are necessary as a trust building effort, something which might be relegated to marginal importance if the process is forced. Following this modality, the coming Kuala Lumpur meeting on March 28 could be exploratory in nature. The question then is what should the meeting explore?

Conditionality of peace process

To enter into a peace process, especially in its exploratory stage, one cannot enter with preconditions, i.e. if you don’t do A or B, I will not talk to you! However, it is impossible to enter into a peace process, engaging in peace dialogues, without understanding its conditionality, i.e. that whatever is going to be talked about depends on existential conditions which is dynamic. 

I would say that the most important issue now is the cessation of violence, and not about alternative forms of governance in the area. In fact, discussing alternative forms of governance in most cases are for the purpose of ending violence in the first place. In this sense, alternative forms of governance become means of ending violence within the peace process project.

Those who wish to explore this peace process needs to talk about: geography, time, weapons, and targets. Of the more than 1,600 villages in the three southernmost provinces, only some 200 have suffered from violence. In the spirit of exploration, a few villages, say three or six from these 200 in the three provinces, could be selected as an experiment in “peace zones” where for a specified period of time, there will be no violence from both the insurgents and the Thai state.

Since it would be unrealistic to assume that BRN and their colleagues who will come to the March 28 table can really control violence on the ground, there is also a need to discuss other forms of fighting by other insurgents that will probably limit the use of violence in certain zones outside the designated “peace zones”. Perhaps the peace dialogue should also explore the possibility of inviting those who refuse to talk at this time to become “PAHLAWAN YANG TERHORMAT” or “honor fighters” in other exploratory zones. Let me call this: “honor zones” where the use of explosives are excluded, and civilian targets which include teachers, women, children, clergy (Buddhist monks, Muslim ulama/imam, Christian clergy), sacred spaces (temples, mosques, churches, etc.,), schools, as well as stores or shopping places should be considered outside the scope of violent attacks.

It should also be noted that there are at least 40 factors that could derail any peace process, such as internal divisions in an armed group, disagreement over issues on the agenda, mistrust in the facilitator, or rise in military activities, and demands for the complete cessation of violence, among other things. Peace process such as this one is no different. For example, when violence continues, many will point their fingers at the peace process and conclude that it is futile.

Peace process such as this one will be fragile. Therefore it needs a vast support from Thai society as well as a profound understanding from security agencies involved, the latter might come from inter-organizational dialogues. To mobilize both the support and understanding in the Thai context at this time is both difficult and necessary, if such derailing factors are to be effectively mitigated.

And when one is not so sure if h/she is on the right track of peace process to end violence in southern Thailand, remember the death of the child- Nisofian Nisani. 

No Free Rides Campaign: Quote 9

Friday, March 29, 2013

The last letter

The Last Letter
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness. 

Self-dissolution of the Negeri Sembilan State Legislative Assembly – by Art Harun

Many on fb and Twiter are labelling the self-dissolution of the Negeri Sembilan State Legislative Assembly as "shameful", "lame" or whatever.

I fail to understand this.

The State Constitution (as do the Federal Constitution in respect of the Parliament) provides that the SLA shall "stand dissolved" 5 years after its creation. 

What has happened to the Negeri Sembilan SLA is an operation of law as provided by its Constitution. 

Many among us talk about upholding the law, especially the Constitution. Well, this IS what is provided by the law.

So why are we now saying it is shameful etc etc?

Under the Westminster styled democracy and State administration, it is the PREROGATIVE of the incumbent government to decide on the disolution. 

Do we uphold the law and Constitution when it suits us?

Note by Anas – Classic case of #BodohPolitik. Thank you Brother Art for a short but succinct article.

No Free Rides Campaign: Quote 7

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Khalid Samad’s article - Are political parties ‘berhala’?

I read with interest the article written by Anas Zubedy entitled “Are political parties like DAP, Umno a berhala?” that was published in FMT a few weeks ago.
The article is referring to a tweet that I sent quoting an ayat from the Quran. The problem with twitter is that due to the short messages, certain issues cannot be explained fully or as clearly. I am therefore grateful for this opportunity to discuss the question raised by Anas in his letter to FMT through a medium which allows lengthier discourses.
First it has to be clarified that the Ayat 3 of Az-Zumar was raised in connection with the debate on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. This was a discussion which Anas may or may not have been following originally. I posted the ayat as proof that the Meccan idolaters also used the word “Allah” as the Quran quoted them as saying, “We worship them for no other reason than that they bring us nearer to God.”
This meant that the main object of worship of the Meccan idolaters was Allah and the idols were mere go betweens.
Given that explanation, it is ridiculous for anyone to then say that non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah as the Quran itself proves otherwise. Of course such practice of appointing go betweens between man and Allah and ascribing to them some form of divinity to these go betweens is rejected by Islam.
This then was the original context of the discussion for which the ayat was referred. Anas came in by posing a question as to whether political parties can also become “idols”. Realising this was a new issue, I did not want to delve into it too much and made a response as follows:
Khalid: Yup unless they specify that the Quran and Sunnah are their guiding principles. Those using other guides may be a berhala.
Anas: Specification or practice? And r u saying d DAP is a berhala if u follow them coz they specify otherwise?
Seeing the discussion going away from the original intention, I chose not to pursue the matter. It would take a few more tweets than what I was ready to do at that time to clarify the issue.
It is important to note that I used the word “may” and not “is” or “has become” a berhala or idol or object of worship. Whether it becomes a “berhala” or not depends on the individual member and how he or she understands their relationship with the party.

When does something become berhala?
When does something become a “berhala” or an “idol” an object of worship in the eyes of the scholars of “Tauhid” or “Unity of God” in Islam? This question is quite easily answered by referring to another ayat in the Quran, i.e. from Chapter At-Taubah ayat 31 which means,
“They (The Christians) have taken their priests and their monks as gods besides Allah and also the Messiah son of Maryam (is taken as a god besides Allah)…..”

Introducing M Prakash Dass as zubedy’s New COO

Kuala Lumpur, 28 March 2013 – zubedy announced today that it has appointed M Prakash Dass as Chief Operating Officer for the last 3 months, effective January 2nd, 2013. His most recent responsibility was as the Managing Director of Malaysia’s only FranklinCovey franchise. With close to 30 years of business exposure behind him, Prakash has been involved with various industries during which time he was integrally involved in the operations, human resource, and corporate planning units of the organisations he was assigned in.

Prakash’s task is to take zubedy, a local brand to international level. Believing that zubedy has barely scratched the surface because Klang Valley is their predominant target for the past 18 years, Prakash feels huge business prospects are widespread all over the country in areas like Penang, Johor, Sabah, and beyond our shores such as Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia. He said, “Therein lies an endless promising ground for zubedy that I want to bring the company to embark on.”

One of the first tasks Prakash is looking at is to see how zubedy can garner the expertise in diagnosing issues and challenges their clients are facing, and finally delivering and training which zubedy is very good at.
He has concrete plans of what to achieve with zubedy as said here, “I want to bring zubedy to a whole new level of professionalism. The key is to move the company from just a training provider to as a business partner to our clients. A training provider can only do so much, but most organisations look at how these training and knowledge acquired by their people can be implemented in their organisations.” He believes that an organisation has the responsibility to not only deliver their programmes well, but to also make sure what they deliver actually sticks.

One of the important avenues to help companies to know zubedy’s products, the company is putting more talent, energy, and resources into their public programmes this year, and Prakash sees these programmes as the platform to create market awareness about who zubedy is and what they do as an organisation. He added by saying, “The public programmes also help us to engage with decision makers out there, who can come to experience our programmes and then understand what we are offering them; for them to sit down and know how good our programmes are. This type of engagement nudges decision makers to invest in our programmes; hence half the battle is won on our part.”

The Chief Operating Officer talked about one of the strongest pull factors that attracted him to join zubedy. He explained, “I have this passion of wanting to make a difference in people’s lives; through social work. And zubedy’s fundamental values focus primarily on Unity. zubedy does not only make differences and add value to other business organisations, but to the community in general.” He commented on zubedy’s in-progress works of setting up a Unity college where people of moderate backgrounds can equip themselves with sales, life, and entrepreneurial skills. He said, “That in itself is a very attractive proposition to me. Naturally, as an organization, it is very principle based to focus on values. This is the other side of why I took on this challenge to join zubedy; to make sure the company deserves a much higher platform than where it is now.”

zubedy’s Managing Director Anas Zubedy said, “Prakash’s leadership is substantial in the training and consultation industry. I look forward to working with him to bring zubedy to another step with new products for our existing and new clients.” According to Anas, his friendship with Prakash started during their university days where they ran many projects together. He said, “We are able to keep our friendship going for a long time because we share the same values and ethics. We believe in working hard and smart, but never in taking the easy way out.” Anas added that the most important area to look at when choosing people to join your company is the shared values, “Prakash and I believe in Unity, adding value to everything we undertake, and working hard. We work above board, no cheating, and we don’t sell unless what we sell is good for the clients.”

Prakash holds a Master in Science with Honours in Human Resource Management and Training from the University of Leicester, U.K. and a Bachelor’s degree with Honours in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Malaya.  He also holds a professional underwriting qualification in Chartered Insurance, and is certified in several leading leadership and management programmes.

Reply to NK Khoo

Dear editor,

Reply to NK Khoo

For better understanding, the first is to suggest it is not very smart to compare the two countries like some Malaysians are fond of doing without considering the contextual background of the countries involved. The second one is to help us realise that it is normal for the grass to seem greener on the other side. I suggested that the grass is greener where we water them, so let’s work with Malaysia – after considering our own contextual background.

I do not suggest that we are better off than Korea and vice-versa. I suggested that each nation has their unique challenges and must rise to the occasion. That is the whole idea of the said articles.

However, if you are one of those who insist on comparing, and by choice would like Malaysia to ‘be like Korea’, at the same time you must accept that your kids are more likely to commit suicide (and want to go on plastic surgery to reconstruct her nose and have bigger boobs by the time they are 15) as compared to another who choose to accept Malaysia – both the good and the bad.

We can agree to disagree, but I do hope you got my point. Thank You.

Anas Zubedy

No Free Rides Campaign: Quote 6

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

10 Catastrophes: Iraq 10 Years After by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

10 years after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq a number of analysts have come to the tragic conclusion that the most immoral and unjust war in recent years has generated nothing but a series of catastrophes. 
The 10 catastrophes that we have outlined below represent only a small portion of a horrendous tragedy that continues to unfold to this day.
Catastrophe no. 1
While the figure on the total number of deaths associated directly or indirectly with the invasion varies, it is held that there were 1.5 million deaths from 20 March 2003 to 31st December 2011 when US and allied combat brigades withdrew from Iraq. If we included the number who died as a result of the earlier Kuwait War in 1991 and the sanctions imposed upon the people of Iraq from August 1990 to March 2003, the total would increase dramatically by 1.9 million.  Of these 3.4 million deaths, a huge percentage would be children killed by the sanctions in the first phase of the assault on Iraq and those that died after the invasion from occupation related causes.  
Catastrophe no. 2
The death of children in Iraq correlates strongly with “contamination from depleted uranium (du) munitions and other military related pollution — suspected of causing a sharp rise in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.” According to Iraqi government statistics, prior to the Kuwait War of 1991, “the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000, and by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.”
Of particular significance in this regard is the situation in Fallujah which was subjected to a massive bombardment by US troops in 2004. A 2010 study has shown “a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since the 2004 attacks.” The study has also revealed that “ the sex ratio had become skewed to 86 boys born to every 100 girls, together with a spread of diseases indicative  of genetic damage ― similar to, but of far greater incidence than Hiroshima.”
Catastrophe no. 3
Though there are some improvements here and there, the average Iraqi continues to struggle to make ends meet. It is estimated that 27 to 60% of Iraqis are unemployed or under-employed. Inflation hovers around 75%!  
Catastrophe no. 4
The invasion destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure. A nation which once had superb amenities from clean water and regular supply of electricity to excellent hospitals and well-run schools has now been reduced to shambles. The US has made good the threat that the former US Secretary of State, James Baker, conveyed to the then Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, in 1991 that the US would bomb Iraq back to the stone age.
Catastrophe no. 5
The invasion and occupation could have cost the US and its allies over 3 trillion dollars. This does not include the money spent on the treatment of injured soldiers or the rehabilitation of war veterans. In a sense, the 6,000 veterans from the Kuwait and Iraq wars who commit suicide every year also constitute a cost factor.
Catastrophe no. 6
Many companies have also profiteered from post invasion Iraq. Oil corporations from a few countries have been given access to Iraq’s oil fields. Other companies have been involved in providing support services to US and allied military operations. One such company is the Houston based engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc, which was spun off from its parent firm, Halliburton Co.  KBR, it is alleged, was “given 39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade.”
Catastrophe no.7
The invasion and occupation of Iraq was, right from the outset, a blatant violation of international law. The United Nations was pushed aside and the US, Britain and some of their other allies embarked upon a war of aggression whose real motives were to advance their imperial interests vis-a-vis oil, strategic routes and Israel. For Israel itself, the war fought on its behalf decimated a leadership vehemently opposed to its occupation of Palestine and other Arab lands and was therefore a bonanza.
Catastrophe no. 8
This illegal war is the principal reason why law and order has broken down in many parts of Iraq today. Gangs and hoodlums control various cities and villages. Crime is rampant. Kidnappings and murders have become routine. Fear and a general feeling of insecurity grip many Iraqi citizens.
Catastrophe no. 9
The occupation of Iraq was inextricably intertwined with the manipulation and exploitation of sectarian sentiments. In the initial phase, the occupiers and their underlings manipulated the resentment of the Shia majority against the Sunni minority. Later, when influential elements within the democratically elected Shia government demonstrated that they were inclined to the Shia leadership in Iran, Sunni feelings of deprivation were exploited to the hilt. Playing Sunnis against Shias and vice-versa has become a dangerous and violent game. Thousands have been killed in these sectarian conflicts which feed upon centuries of distrust and suspicion. They continue to this day even though formal military occupation ended in December 2011. Indeed, observers of Iraqi politics are beginning to wonder whether the Sunni-Shia conflict will lead very soon to an all-out civil war.
Such a prospect has unfathomable regional implications since there are Sunnis and Shias in different proportions in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait and a few other Arab states. The two sects are also found in Turkey and Iran — apart from Afghanistan and Pakistan.          
Catastrophe no. 10
The culprits behind all these catastrophes, those who were at the helm of the US and Britain in 2003 — George Bush and Dick Cheney, on the one hand, and Tony Blair, on the other — have not been convicted in any court of law as war criminals. It is only NGO sponsored tribunals in different parts of the world who have found them and others guilty of invading and occupying Iraq and condemned them on behalf of humanity. 10 years after committing an unconscionable act of wanton aggression, they remain free — a shameful blot on the collective conscience of the human family.

No Free Rides Campaign: Quote 5

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

No Free Rides Campaign: Quote 4

Thank God Malaysia is not Korea?

My recent article “Why it is kinda stupid to compare Malaysia with Korea” attracted many interesting reactions. There are many Malaysians who have lost our ability to think straight as a result of extreme partisanship and the politics of hate.

This easy and direct article has a simple purpose; to help us Malaysians learn a simple fact. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I am not interested in making South Korea look bad. As stressed in the earlier article, each nation has their unique challenges and must rise to the occasion.

Here are some hard facts from polls done in South Korea.

Korea the OECD’s Most Unhappy Nation

Considering the state of the economy and how much Koreans work, the results of this poll are not surprising:

However, the country ranked at the bottom in terms of life satisfaction. In a survey of career interest, pride and annual leave among 1,000 people aged 15 or older in each member state in 2008, Korea finished 24th with 23.1 out of 100 points, much lower than the average of 54.3 points.

In a negative index survey of pain, hypochondria, and sadness the same year, the country averaged 61.5 points, far above the average of 35.6.

As of 2007, a Korean worked 2,316 hours, the longest among member states and 548 hours more than the average of 1,768. In terms of eight-hour work days, this means that Koreans worked 69 days more than their counterparts. The Dutch worked the shortest hours with 1,392. The Japanese (1,785 hours) and Americans (1,794 hours) also worked fewer hours. 

If You’re So Rich, How Come You’re So Miserable?

Korea’s per-capita income now rivals New Zealand’s, Israel’s, and Greece’s, and the economy is growing about 3 percent a year even as Europe crashes. South Korean companies are chipping away at Apple Inc.’s global smartphone domination; the nation is a world power in automobiles, shipbuilding and steel; and its soft power is being advanced by “K-pop” bands, movies, and television dramas as the population nears the 50 million mark.

Why, then, are South Koreans the second most unhappy people?

In a recent life-satisfaction study of 32 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by the World Values Survey Association, South Korea came in 31st. Surveys by Korean research institutes find that happiness among teenagers is the lowest in the OECD. The nation also is at the top of global league tables for suicides.

“The problem is that we Koreans are now too much focused on competing with each other,” says Kim Yong Duk, a former deputy finance minister who teaches at Korea University Business School. “Always seeking to be best makes people too tired and stressed. Now it’s time to hug each other.”

South Korea’s free-market revolution gave companies incentives to dump full-time workers in favour of lower-paid contract workers. It meant less focus on building social safety nets needed to catch workers unable to quickly adapt to job obsolescence. Fear of unemployment has South Koreans working some of the longest hours anywhere.

What Makes S. Koreans Unhappy

South Korea has reached a per-capita GDP of US$20,000, while its economy is the world's 13th largest, but South Koreans are far from happy. According to a Gallup poll, the number of South Koreans who are happy about their lives decreased 10 percent between 1992 and 2010 when the country's per-capita GDP grew threefold. The country consistently ranks at the bottom in various happiness indices around the world.

Money is the main reason behind South Korea's low birth rate for more than half of respondents. And the country has the highest ratio of people who cite financial costs as being the biggest threat to future generations (29.8 percent).

It is the only country among the surveyed nations whose people prefer to give birth to their children in other countries. One in four South Koreans said that they want to give birth to their children abroad to give them non-Korean nationalities. Only 20.1 percent of South Koreans want to have their babies in the country, the lowest among the 10 nations.

In summary

My dear Malaysians, 

please do some thinking. And remember, the grass is greener where we water them. Let’s water the grass in Malaysia.

And, may all of us guide ourselves with love, logic, and wisdom because love will make us fair with our hearts; logic, because logic will make us fair with our mind; and wisdom, because wisdom will lead us to combine our love and logic in the way of God and for the benefit of Mankind.

Anas Zubedy

No Free Rides Campaign: Quote 3

Monday, March 25, 2013

No Free Rides Campaign: Quote 2

Dear Anons, can we have a deal?

I want to post all Anonymous comments even if you disagree with me. Most do. But it is important that we follow certain principles, some understanding. In today’s world of internet freedom, we need some form of self- control all the more; certain gentlemanly self-regulation.

As a marketing man I have been trained and know how to appreciate positive and negative feedback, comments and suggestions from anonymous individuals exceedingly. Feedbacks in the positives or negatives are good mirrors that we can use to reflect. We should suspend our judgment and consider the perception of others – rightly or wrongly.

Personally, I respect your need to remain anonymous. I see that you must have a good reason.

Whether your intention is good or bad is beyond my capacity to decide. I don’t play God (and may I suggest you do the same). Even if your intentions are bad, you may have good grounds – at least in your own eyes.

The fact that you took the trouble to give feedback shows that you have the passion to make the world a better place and add value. You took the trouble because you cared about what I think, what I do and I thank you.

I take the stand that there are not many BAD people in the world, but many may simply be unaware. Sometimes humans are bad not because they are terrible but because they do not know. It is hard to be angry with people who make uninformed decisions simply because they lack information and understanding.

For example, do you remember those cow-head protesters? They belong to this group of unconscious people. While our anger drives us to want to take them to court and to punish them, a more spiritual and God-Conscious approach is to help them see the light and be remorseful. We need to trigger their hearts and show how wrongful and hurtful they were to the Hindus. We need to help them see the light, apologize, repent and not to repeat such an act. I thought getting them to care, clean and feed cows for 6 months would have been wiser.

You see, I am a liberal and support democracy. I can accept you even if you decide to pray to Satan! That is your prerogative. I may not agree with your logic, behaviour and your stand; I may talk you into changing your mind, but I can accept you as you are. I accept your rights to believe.  My conviction is that since everything is God- Made and since God is All-Good, nothing can be all bad, including Satan.

I will only agree or disagree with your ‘choices’ because that is the only difference between us humans and the rest of God’s creation. We are given the capacity to have a ‘WILL’ and ‘MAKE CHOICES’. So, when we ‘MAKE CHOICES’ we are using God’s best gift to us. How could I fault you for that?

The rest of creation, like animals, the moon and the sun are on automatic settings and behave as they do by default – Satan included.

This is my world-view shaped by The Quran (check Quran chapter 2:30 and other conceptual framework about Adam). If you have a differing world-view, we can agree to disagree :).

I want to post all Anonymous comments even if they disagree with me. But we need good culture. Shall we have a general contract about Anonymous comments?

Here are my suggestions:


1. Please, no profanity.  I find it really unfortunate when some good feedback cannot be posted because of bad language. It was not the disagreement that stopped them from being allowed to appear, but it was the vulgarity.

2. Nothing seditious.


1.Don’t play God - or pretend you can read people’s mind and hearts. Practice the act of ‘doubting yourself’. Only the strong can and are willing to do that.

2. Don’t make sweeping statements like “All Malays are lazy” or “All Chinese are rich,” or “All Indians cannot be trusted”, etc.

3.Know the difference between a fact and an opinion – Facts must have adequate empirical information to back it up; your opinion is your emotional stand.

Thanks and peace.

Anas Zubedy

Minor Strokes – How to Recognize, Prevent and Treat a TIA or Mini-Stroke

This is a good and simple video explanation. Part 1 and 2

Video 1 -  3 mins 22 secs

Video 2 -  10 mins 11 secs