Acadreams come true.

Almost ever since she left her homeland of Malaysia for a new life with me and our daughter in Australia 22 years ago, my wife has been working tirelessly towards achieving her dream of becoming an academic.

At times it must have seemed to her like a nightmare, having to both study and simultaneously to succeed as spectacularly as she surely has as in such other, equally demanding roles as best friend, lover and wife to me, marvelous mother to our daughter, devoted daughter to her parents, steadfast sister to her siblings and other intimates and associates and a bright light to her bosom buddies.

And on top of all that she’s had to work full-time for long spells, and more recently to increasingly work part-time, as I, 29 years her senior, have steadily declined in employability and earning power to the point at which my financial contribution to our joint income is a pension that doesn’t even pay our rent, let alone support our shared smoking habit.

In other words, as I’ve previously commented in some other column or blog, she’s unfailingly and uncomplainingly shouldered more of the financial load as I’ve inevitably and inexorably declined from being an at least relatively high-functioning husband to something more like a husburden.

But she’s amazingly seldom shown the strain and the flagging spirits she must have felt at times, and never for long.

So you can imagine how much I admire her academic achievements thus far – a degree in media arts, followed by a post-graduate degree in teaching and then a master’s in international education – as well as her impending completion of a PhD in government and international relations.

All of which makes my own educational record look pathetically lackademic. When I left school all those years ago, and enrolled in veterinary science, I was so slackademic as to eventually be expelled for repeated failure.

And though I was far less lackademic or slackademic, in fact quite crackademic, in the arts degree I embarked on to keep myself off the streets and on the ball in my semi-retirement, by about half way through I started to feel that the seemingly endless round of lectures, tutorials, exams, essays and other assignments was steadily driving me academented.

Or maybe it was my fault for being so wackydemic, or, if you prefer, attackademic, about a great many of the theories I was encountering, especially in philosophy, much of which I’d come to view as so silly as to be more appropriately referred to as phoolosophy, or, given its almost complete traditional monopoly by and bias toward males, phallusophy.

In short, the sole academic qualification I’ve managed to attain is the graduate diploma in counselling I completed before embarking on the abovementioned abortive undergraduate study of arts.

But, as meagre as that surely is compared with my wife’s acadreamy achievements, I’m eternally grateful for the fresh insights, attitudes and mindsets that the counselling course inculcated in me, if only because they’ve rendered me far more patient, understanding and supportive of my wife through her years of persevering with her studies than I might have been otherwise.

Additionally, my long life’s experience as a writer, if only of first advertising and subsequently short columns and blogs, has helped me enormously to empathise with and I hope in some ways even prove of some help my wife in what to me seems the almost impossible task of researching, writing and rewriting an 80,000-word thesis,firstly to the satisfaction of her supervisors and ultimately to the approval of a panel of examiners.

Not that she really needs any help, having progressed by dint of her own industry and determination all the way from her first educational job in Australia as a swimming instructor, or, if you like, aquademic, through some years as a a high-school teacher of teenagers (acnedemic?) to the point at which she’s now poised to take her place among the elite in the big, wide world of academia.

Speaking of the world, where on earth this career will take her is anybody’s guess. In anticipation of her acquisition of a PhD she’s already been tutoring at one of Sydney’s universities and lecturing at another, but she’s also been eyeing possible jobs in locations as widely diverse as  Wollongong, NSW; Hong Kong; Austin, Texas; and Cracow, Poland.

And as far as I’m concerned, as long as she was happy to accompany me to to such outlandish working environments as India back when I had a career in advertising, I’ll be delighted to follow her to anyplace she’s prepared to take me, just as long as it does no harm to her reputation in the academy to be married to some increasingly doddering, geriatric acadummy.

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Lest we forget.

The most obvious significance of today, November 11, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the ‘Great War’, is the solemn remembrance of the millions of casualties of this tragic conflict.

To recall not only the virtually countless military and civilian lives lost,but also the unaccountable cost to so many of the survivors, like my gravely-wounded great-uncle William Ambrose Cull, who lived on sufficiently long to write an account of his experiences as first a combatant and then prisoner-of-war.

His book At All Costs, recently re-published and for some reason retitled On Both Sides of the Wire, stands as one of a great many moving testaments to the fact that war is not only a shocking waste, but a disgrace to the human race.

Because while we reverently remember the war-dead and damaged on a day like this, and with splendid eternal memorials, we quickly forget, or, worse, never wake up to the fact that, as somebody once aptly put it, it’s all-too-possible to win the war and lose the peace.

As too many veterans of the Great War realised when they returned, not as they’d been promised and thus hoped, to a ‘land fit for heroes’, but straight from the trenches to retrenchment or redundancy; from victors in combat to victims of mass-unemployment; from cannon-fodder to casualties in capitalism’s never-ending war on workers.

And, into the bargain, a mere twenty years later, all too many also found that, having fought and won the much-proclaimed ‘war to end war’, they were still young enough to enlist or be conscripted into a second world war.

Which was soon to be followed by the Korean and countless other massively murderous conflicts, including, to name just a few, France and then the US versus North Vietnam, Israel versus its Islamic neighbours, India versus Pakistan, Iraq versus Iran, NATO versus the Serbs in the Balkans, the ‘Coalition of the willing’ versus Iraq in the Gulf, not once but twice, and currently Russia and the al-Assad regime versus the rest in Syria, and Saudi Arabia versus Shia ‘rebels’ in Yemen.

In short, on this and every other Remembrance Day we should not only pay homage the the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in what many of them saw as the war to prevent further wars, but ponder on the failure of the peoples and governments of the world to honour them by putting their hopes of future peace into practice.

Hopes, however perhaps impossibly ambitious, that might have been realised to a far greater extent  if only so many hadn’t forgotten the then US President Woodrow Wilson’s clarion call to the American people to help the allies win the Great War and thus “keep the world safe for democracy.”

What a disgrace and how deeply disrespectful it is to the many US soldiers who fought and died for democracy in World War 1 that so many US citizens, or, more accurately, shitizens who don’t care enough about democracy to even bother voting in their nations’ elections. And arguably as a result of this dereliction enabling the ascension to the presidency of that lying fake-witted fraud Donald Trump, who couldn’t be bothered going out in the rain today to attend the ceremonies in remembrance of the marines who died in the mud and blood of the battle of Belleau.

Lest we forget.

 

 

 

 

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Umno reforming? Or re-forming?

As Bersih, Amanah and many concerned individuals have said recently, any move on the part of Malaysia’s coalition Pakatan Harapan government or any of its component parties to so much as think about accepting Umno/BN no-hopers into their ranks, let alone seriously consider doing so, is an absolute outrage.

There has been no sign that these forty thieves have turned-over new leaves, that these pathological liars have seen the light or perceived the error of their previous ways.

All of them without exception have been either accomplices in or accessories to the massive crimes alleged against their former Umno/BN leaders, and none, as far as I or anybody else can see, have shown the slightest sign of regret, remorse, repentance or intention to reform.

And until they have publicly done so, and demonstrated their sincerity by surrendering their ill-gotten assets to the national treasury, they should remain criminal suspects and at the very least be subjected to forensic audits of their financial affairs.

So for PH to consider admitting Umno/BN defectors without their confessing and serving sentences or even periods of probation for their crimes and corruptions, and into the bargain repaying the proceeds to the rakyat, is like inviting rotten apples into a fresh new barrel, or incorporating cancer cells into a young, healthy body.

Or to put this another way, unless and until they sincerely reform, it should be assumed that their motive for aspiring to join Harapan is to re-form themselves into a force hell-bent on undermining and eventually destroying the new government from within.

And thus, far from entertaining their hopes of hopping sides, PH should tell these vermin to hit the frog ‘n’ toad, which happens to be rhyming slang for road.

After all, considering that they’ve betrayed the Malaysian people, and especially the Malay/Muslim people whose interests that as Umno/BN members they falsely claimed to ‘protect’, and have now shown their willingness to self-interestedly betray those who voted for them as well as Umno/BN itself, they can hardly be seen as trustworthy converts to the PH cause.

And then there’s the thought that PH, and especially its Bersatu component, is already stuffed full enough with unregenerate Umno/BN renegades and rejects to be going on with.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir being the most prominent example. While admittedly it seems unarguable that PH could not have won government without him, many of us strongly suspect that he’s still the same old autocrat, and even the same old mad hater at heart.

And that it was his personal hatred for Najib Razak in particular rather than for Umno/BN in principle that impelled him to make a comeback as the head of Pakatan Harapan.

Certainly, despite his appearing to be a reformed character, he’s shown precious little sign of regret for the countless crimes, corruptions and perversions of justice that characterised his 22 years as president of Umno Baru and Umno/BN prime minister.

Nor has there been any sign that any of the scandals back in those days, not least the suspicious business successes of at least some of his sons, are about to be retrospectively investigated any time soon, if at all.

Then there’s Najib Razak’s sometime deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, whose highly likely involvement in or at least strong support of Umno/BN malefactions back then are somehow never mentioned, and whose ‘conversion’ to PH principles and values has gone largely if not totally unexamined.

There are some, I know, who suspect that Mahathir and Muhyiddin, now that they have used Pakatan Harapan as a vehicle with which to wreaked their vengeance on Najib Razak, will eventually reveal that, far from being agents of reform, are actually on a secret mission to re-form a revised or alternative version of Umno/BN.

And some of the same conspiracy theorists are similarly suspicious of the intentions of Anwar Ibrahim if and when he replaces Mahathir as PM, as despite his apparently impeccable credentials as the former leader of the Reformasi movement and such a bitter enemy of Mahathir and Najib that each of them jailed him for years, many still see him as being cursed with Umno/BN DNA.

But whatever the true motivations and intentions of these these and other former leading members of Umno/BN, the last thing the Pakatan Harapan coalition or the citizens of Malaysia need right now, or indeed ever, is to risk accepting even more allegedly reformed deserters from this defeated and disgraced regime, lest they re-form and threaten the new government.

When instead, as I suggested years ago in a column entitled ‘From Putrajaya to Putrajail’, they should be hauled into court and, following a fair trial, of course, be sentenced to years in the Umno/BN wing of some high-security slammer.

 

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God as Godzilla.

Even for us devout agnostics, the way some self-styled true believers misuse and abuse the alleged Almighty as a fall-guy and alibi has gone way beyond a joke.

The latest joke in point being the assertion by Umno president and criminal suspect Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that Allah sent the earthquake and tsunami that recently devastated the Indonesian island of Sulawesi for the express purpose of punishing LGBT behaviour on the part of a small minority of the population.

This view of the Great One as a horror-movie-style monster seems to me not only blatantly blasphemous, but ludicrously selective.

If Allah’s of a mind to wreak his wrath on what Zahid called a ‘hub’ of LGBT activity, why would he single-out some small island in sexually-intolerant Indonesia in preference to one of the countless countries where people of LGBT and indeed also QI persuasions are free to express their sexualities and even to marry each other?

And if he’s so smart at divining the motives of the Divinity, how come Zahid so conveniently overlooks the possibility that the recently-ended six decades of misrule by the accursed Umno/BN regime might well have been Allah’s punishment of the Malaysian people for LGBT and other sexual pecadillos as well as for their apparent penchant for putting-up with corruption and oppression?

Then there’s the mystery of how Zahid receives his messages from God about His motives. Via Hemail, perhaps, or Faithbook? Or by download from the Cloud?

Whichever, the ultimate question as far as I’m concerned is why an all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful God would choose a zero like Zahid as one of his earthly spokespersons?

The answer to this, of course, is that God can’t be simultaneously both great and ga-ga, and thus we have to assume that Zahid’s presumption that he’s capable of comprehending and communicating God’s proverbially mysterious ways to the rest of us is a product of wishful if not witless thinking.

A thought that inevitably reminds me of the old witticism that goes something like “when you imagine that you’re talking to God it’s called praying; when you imagine that God’s talking to you it’s called schizophrenia.”

But I suspect there’s method in Zahid’s apparent madness, and thus that in his case it’s not so much a matter of praying to the Almighty and schizophrenically halucinating auditory responses from Him, but more like a connection I’ve mentioned many times before between praying and preying.

In other words, of piously pretending to pray, but actually preying on the gullibility of the innocent, the ignorant and the gormlessly godly for the express purpose of getting away with robbing them of their reasons, rights and protections and plundering their country’s riches and resources.

Of course Zahid and his Umno/BN accomplices in Malaysia are by no means the world’s only abusers of Allah and other alleged Gods and their associated religions as fall-guys and alibis for the atrocities they commit against their citizens.

Similar if not more extreme hypocrisy is evident almost everywhere from faux-sanctimonious but murderous Saudi Arabia and other similarly fake ‘Muslim’ kleptocracies, through countries with brutal realities despite ‘Buddhist’ beliefs like Burma/Myanmar, to all the self-declared ‘Christian’ plutocracies whose true creed is actually greed.

My own country of Australia, for example, is currently cursed with a ‘con’ as in ‘conservative’ government whose neoliberal ideology of “greed is good if not God” completely conflicts with what should be the values of its ‘Christian’ prime minister, members and supporters.

The currently-ruling Liberal-National-Party coalition is so violently opposed to environmental activism, especially involving climate change and renewable energy sources, and so perversely and indeed suspiciously supportive of continuing use of fossil fuels, especially coal, that most of us have taken to sarcastically calling it the COALition.

And it is so persistently un-Christian, or what I like to think of as Crasstian in its crass privileging of the rich and powerful at the expense of the rest, and in its appalling persecution of asylum-seekers, against the treatment of asylum-seekers, as to be beyond ridiculous.

Yet when this right- or in other words wrong-wing rabble recently chose avowed born-again Pentecostal Christian Scott Morrison as its latest leader and thus Prime Minister of Australia, lots of clerics celebrated Zahid Hamidi-style.

For example, as the Guardian Australia reported, pastors Adam Thompson from the Voice of Fire Ministries and Adrian Beale from Everrest Ministries told a congregation at Hope City Church that Morrison’s elevation to power was “divinely inspired.”

Thompson, who according to the Guardian Australia claims that he “can interpret dreams and supernatural signs and manifestations”, told his audience that he’d “received a message from God that Morrison and the Coalition must win the (next) general election.”

“The Lord woke me up at 4.30am this morning,” Thompson declared, neglecting to mention whether he was talking the Saviour’s or Sydney daylight-saving time, then ranted that “in the next six months it’s time for the body of Christ to put its differences aside…to come together and agree that Jesus is the Messiah and start praying together and calling it in and praying for our prime minister right now, and for our government.”

Then, having finished with his praying/preying in a style so eerily similar to that of Zaid Hamidi’s approach to God, he proceeded to ape Zahid’s leap into Godzilla mode with the warning that “if the prime minister right now doesn’t get elected in this next election there’s going to be darkness coming.”

I’ve no idea what form of darkness or other disaster the good pastor has in mind, but if it’s even half as drastic as Zahid’s recent earthquake and tsumami, not to mention his dramatic forthcoming trial on massive corruption and money-laundering charges, it should be enough to bring a whole new level of meaning to the term God- (or, if you prefer, Godzilla-) fearing.

 

 

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Brexshit, Bye-bye election, Saudi America.

Admittedly it’s probably wishful thinking or , if you prefer, wishdom rather than wisdom on my part, but there seem to be increasing signs that several ‘con’ as in ‘conservative’ governments in the self-perceived ‘free’or ‘first’ world are self-destructing faster than ever.

In the UK, by way of my first example, Brexit is turning to total Brexshit. Literally in the opinion of prominent Tory backbencher Johnny Mercer, who recently called the current May government a ‘shitshow’ and Brexpressed his Bregret at having ever become part of it.

And hundreds of thousands of British citizens demanding the vote for a second chance to keep their nation EUnited with Europe took to the streets to demonstrate their disaffection with the conservatives’ Brextreme incompetence

While simultaneously in Australia, the voters in a by-election to replace Malcolm Turnbull after his rejection as PM by his own conservative though fraudulently-named ‘Liberal’ Party waved bye-bye to their previously unbroken tradition of support for the Liberals, or, more accurately in light of the above-mentioned fake nomenclature, Lieberals, with a national-record 19% swing in favour of an independent.

And, even more tellingly, if possible, in the US Trump continues, even as we speak, to further demonstrate that for enough cash he’s perfectly happy to have his relationships with the Middle East run by and for the convenience of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Or what could justly be re-dubbed the Kingdumb of Shady Arabia, given not only its inglorious history but also its outrageous recent murder and dismemberment of US-based journalist Kashoggi in its Turkish Embassy and its ridiculous subsequent efforts to craft a cover-story stupid enough to suit Trump’s self-serving purposes.

But can it really be possible that all these screw-ups might finally spell the end of these three ‘con’ as in ‘conservative’ governments?

Frankly I’m far from hopeful in the case of the UK, as the Cormin-led Labour alternative looks just as unelectably grEUsome a ruling party, if possible, than the EUseless Tories are.

In Australia I’m a touch more hopeful of an end to the current con as in conservative government, however, as enough of the populace seem as sick of its refugee-imprisoning, tax-breaks-for-the-rich and climate-change-denying, fossil-fuels-preferring COALition antics as the voters in the above-mentioned bye-bye election have demonstrated that they are.

But the US, I fear, despite a great many of its more savvy and civilised citizens’ high hopes for relief in the upcoming mid-term elections, is stuck with Trump’s self-trumpeting chumpery for the two years remaining of his current disgraceful and increasingly disastrous term in office, if not another four to follow.

Because, let’s face it, the US of A is riddled with far more wrong as in right-wing, con as in conservative and Christinane if not outright Christinsane  fundamentalists than Shady Arabia is with similarly-misguided Islamists, and arguably even more hopelessly addicted to its profits from the global arms trade than its partner in crime is to its oil-fueled acquisition of American real estate.

In other words, Trump’s US is so intent on privileging profitability over people, the rich over the rest, or in other words doughmocracy over democracy that, far from aspiring to make itself great again, it’s fast heading towards the day when, economically compared with China and both economically and ethically with the EU, it won’t even be able to rate again.

 

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Fraud and schadenfreude.

Feelings of schadenfreude, the expression for which we’re indebted to German, and is defined in English as ‘pleasure at learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures or humiliations of others’ may not be a terribly noble, but it’s a fact of life that this happens to be one of the many ways in which we humans are flawed.

Or at least I’m happy to admit that I am. If there’s one class of fellow humans I hate, it’s liars, frauds and fakes. And thus I’m over the moon at the spectacle of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, former First Lady of Malaysia Rosmah Mansour and now current Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi facing their moments of truth.

Not, of course that any of them admit the truth of the countless charges or masses of evidence against them. Nor, admittedly, as some readers are sure to rightly remind me, are they required to do so, given their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A situation that is far more generous than prevailed back when fake Umno/BN ‘justice’ was meted-out against innocent witness Teoh Beng Hock, who fatally ‘fell’ from a 10th-floor window at MACC headquarters, against Scorpene-scandal translator Altantuya Shaariibuu who was shot and then disposed of with C4 explosive, and countless ‘suspects’ summarily executed in suspicious ‘shoot-outs’ with the police.

But these Umno/BN suspects have at least been questioned, investigated, accused and charged, and thus I feel justified in feeling a small frisson of schadenfreude in anticipation of a far bigger one when they eventually face trial and thus the possibility of conviction and imprisonment.

And not just imprisonment, as that would be mere retribution. They should also be required to make restitution to Malaysia and Malaysians of all their fraudulently-acquired assets.

Unfortunately such a desirable  and indeed delightful result is way in the future for the few big fish the law has netted so far, but there are plenty of smaller-fry alleged Umno/BN fraudsters for the forces of law and order to bring to book and thus sustain our schadenfreude in the meantime.

In fact many of them, both already and yet-to-be charged, are apparently so incurably addicted to falsehood, fakery and fraudulence as to be beyond redemption.

Najib, for example, had the effrontery, not to mention the deficiency of any sense of irony, to claim that he turned-up in court the other day to lend Zahid Hamidi his ‘moral’ support.

And for his part, Zahid himself saw fit to engage in his customary fake piety, proposing that the same God he formerly credited with choosing him for high political office is now putting him to a test that he intends to pass by clearing himself of the charges he faces.

Meanwhile, as usual, his sanctimonious accomplices and supporters in his alleged preying on the populace were urgently praying and urging others to pray to the same God.

For example, according to Malaysiakini, Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob urged “all Malaysians, supporters and members of Umno to stand firm (in support of Zahid) and pray.”

And similarly, Wanita Umno chief Noraini Ahmad declared that ‘the movement was praying for Zahid in hope that God would help him through this (sic) trying times.”

Zahid’s wife, Hamidah Khamis, had a somewhat different take on the Divinity’s role in the situation, making the point that “calamities as a punishment from God would hit Malaysia if problems such as the LGBT movement and alcoholic parties” – as well, implicitly as Zahid’s prosecution – “were not prevented.”

All such fantasies on the part of the fraudulent are nothing but further fuel for us schadenfreude fans, of course. But, to finish this column on a more positive note, as dedicated as I and doubtless many others are at seeing as many frauds as possible getting their just desserts, we’re also delighted that lots of genuine people will benefit.

Our honest, upstanding friends in the legal fraternity, for example, who have years of prosecution and defense briefs to look forward to now that the genuine rule of law appears to be back in force.

And then there is that vast majority of beneficiaries,  the millions of true, honest-to-goodness Malaysians who have spent so many years waiting, and some of them possibly even praying, for freedom at last from Umno/BN-style lies, fraud, fakery and far worse.

 

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Flying the ‘OK to be white’ kite.

Following outrage at Australia’s COALition government’s support of Pauline Hanson’s typically racist ‘it is OK to be white’ motion that was narrowly defeated in the Senate, the COALition’s leader in the Senate, Matthias Kormann, has apologised and blamed it on an ‘administrative error’ on the part of the office of Attorney-General Christian Porter.

On the following day Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the alleged mistake ‘regrettable’, while following admission of the ‘mistake’and a hurried re-vote in the Senate, Christian Porter tweeted and Matthias Kormann and others retweeted the message that ‘the Government’s senators’ actions in the Senate this afternoon confirms that the Government deplores racism of any kind.’

For my part, I deplore the glaringly obvious fact that this COALition government is so desperate to rally support that, far from deploring racism, it was prepared to fly the racism kite in hopes of appealing to Hanson’s and other elements of the rabid right.

Just as Scott Morrison has subsequently flown the Israeli-right kite in claiming that he sees merit in a suggestion by his party’s candidate for the considerably Jewish seat of Wentworth, Dave Sharma, that Australia consider following Donald Trump’s move to relocate his nation’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But this kite apparently won’t fly either, as Indonesia immediately announced that such a move on Australia’s part would seriously jeopardise any trade deal between the two nations.

And Morrison’s attempt to set foreign policy on the fly was seen by many not just locally but around the world as a blatant bid to secure the Jewish vote in the Wentworth by-election this coming Saturday.

A vote that he had arguably bagged already, according to some commentators, by the selection of Sharma, former Australian Ambassador to Israel, to contest the seat on behalf of the COALition.

Though I personally doubt whether this is the case, in light of the fact that one of the many reasons I admire Judaism is that so many of its adherents both in Australia and around the world are true liberals, and thus unlikely to support the COALition’s nasty version of neoliberalism.

In short, here’s hoping that a thumping majority of the Wentworth people of all creeds and no creeds will reject Scott Morrison’s overweening greed for their Support this Saturday, or in other words tell him to go fly a kite.

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