Mass-debating same-sex marriage.

What a political wank this Australian discussion on the issue of same-sex marriage, otherwise known as marriage equality, is turning into. The Labor Party appears to be in favour of it, but, having formerly advocated putting it to a plebiscite of the Australian people, now opposes a plebiscite because the Liberal-Nationals Coalition wants one.

And clearly the Lib-Nats wants to fob the decision off to the plebs to avoid an embarrassing divorce between its left or small-‘l’ liberal faction and its faux-liberal right or rather wrong wing.

So, while the Coalition may rule, confusion reigns. Especially since the double-dissolution election that Prime Minister Turnbull rashly called to shaft a troublesome Senate has rendered him even more electorally impotent than before.

Confusion reigns in my mind too, I have to confess. Not about whether I personally approve of same-sex marriage, of course. Like anybody else in his or her right mind, I believe that people of all sexual persuasions should be legally free to marry – or not marry – whoever they please.

And that preventing them from doing so, whether by legislative fiat or weight of public opinion, on whatever pretext, from defence of alleged ‘family values’ or fear of giving offence to so-called ‘religious’ or other sensibilities, is a vicious example of what the great liberal J.S. Mill decried in On Liberty as ‘tyranny of the majority.’

It also seems pretty clear to me that the majority of Australians, for a variety of reasons, have no desire to tyranise their fellow citizens in matters of sex and marriage.

But I’ll bet most of them are as confused as I am about why this of all issues should be singled-out for putting to a plebiscite.

There don’t appear to be any proposals for plebiscites on any other pressing matters that we have elected parliamentarians to decide on our behalf, like the budget, for example, or whether the renewable-energy industry should continue to be starved of funds as long as the Coalition has the word ‘coal’ in its name.

So why a plebiscite on, of all burning issues, same-sex marriage? And while we’re on the topic of confusion, what the hell is a plebiscite, actually? The same as a referendum, only different, or what?

Whatever. The point here being that, as far as I and a good many other Australians are concerned, the mass-debate about marriage equality has been going on far too long. And before we all go blind or grow hair on the palms of our hands, federal parliament should put an end to it in a single legislative stroke.

 

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Bring on the b’kinis!

In a blow for fairness, freedom and good sense, the top French administrative court, the State Council, has stripped towns on the Riviera of the right to ban women from wearing the so-called burkini or burqini.

About 30 towns had banned the wearing of this head-and-body-bag on their beaches on the grounds that they pose a risk to public order in the wake of the recent terror attack in Nice, and transgress secular French laws against the display of religious symbols.

As Islamic as the garment is clearly designed to be, however, it is not exclusively so. As Australian designer and owner of the burkini and burqini trademarks, Aleda Zanetti has been quoted as claiming, many of her customers are non-Muslim women who wish for reasons of their own to shield their bodies from public sight or their skin from exposure to the sun.

In any event, the whole ban was ridiculous, as vividly illustrated by a recent newspaper picture of two French police, both fully-clad in their uniforms, booking a woman on a beach for allegedly being overdressed.

And if it’s not ok for women to cover-up in the sea and on the sand, what about all the surfers disporting themselves on the billows and beaches of the world in full-body wetsuits?

Personally, as secular, indeed atheistic as I am, I would be delighted to see a great many people of all religious and other persuasions covering-up their far-from-bikini-standard bodies with burkinis/burqinis, for aesthetic rather than theological reasons.

For example, I’d be delighted to see streetwear extensions of the b’kini concept for people sporting pot bellies, flabby butt-cleavages and sundry other similarly unbearable sights.

And of course the range could be extended to the barkini or beerkini for big drinkers, the brrrkini for concealing the unsightly bulges and sundry other bodily blemishes of drinkers and non-drinkers alike in chilly weather, and of course the bedkini to enable them to look their very best in the sack.

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Syabas, Anis Syafiqah!

Here’s wishing all power to University of Malaya student Anis Syafiqah Mohd Yusof and her fellow activists in the Tangkap Malaysian Official One coalition, and every success with the August 27 #TangkapMO1 rally in KL.

Though, as admiring of the courageous Anis Syafiqah and her colleagues as I am, I very much doubt that they will receive much support from the wider Malaysian public.

As I’ve mentioned before, Malaysians in general appear to prefer people cower to people power.

And Najib Abdul Razak, alias MO1, has the support of all of the national institutions that he and his rotten Umno/BN have corrupted and co-opted over the past five decades or so, from the police, judiciary and electoral system to the so-called ‘mainstream’ media.

Not to mention all the individual Malaysians whose silence or support Najib has bought with the proceeds of his and his accomplices’ countless and continuing thefts from the public purse.

Like, most prominently, the ministers and other members of his grubby and gruesome government, who continue to unanimously support him in his denial of any wrong-doing in the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fraud.

And like the most recent critics of Anis Syafiqah Mohd Yusof and other students involved in the #TangkapMO1 rally, president of the alumni of Mahasiswa Aspirasi Malaysia, Mohd Shahar Abdullah, and Wanita Umno leader Sharizat Abdul Jalil.

Sharizat’s speech this week in which she urged students to focus on studies, not rallies was a copy-book exercise in hypocrisy, in light of her family’s notorious failure to focus on cattle-rearing, not real-estate.

As no reader can fail to recall, Sharizat’s husband and children milked the rakyat of RM250 million for their National Feedlot Corporation, then creamed-off lots of the loan for high living, luxury company cars and expensive condominiums.

Then, when public scorn and outrage forced Umno/BN’s ‘legal’ authorities to charge the principle suspect in this scam with criminal breach of trust, a regime-friendly court chose not to even try the case, but simply to throw it out.

Yet, in criticising students for planning the #TangkapMO1 rally, Sharizat had the hide to claim that ‘for me, whatever you want to do in this country, we should adhere to the laws.’

But she quickly revealed that she wasn’t advocating adherence to all laws with her subsequent statement that ‘we have a responsible government, so we should follow laws…like the Peaceful Assembly Act.’

In other words, like the rest of the Umno/BN gang, she’s bullish on laws against popular protest, but apparently has no beef against her relatives’ breaking of laws against embezzlement, and is wilfully blind to the breaking of laws against fraud, corruption, money-laundering and who knows what else by the perpetrators of the 1MDB atrocity.

Meanwhile, while Sharizat was busy trying to kid if not cow her audience into seeing her as the mother of all lawfulness, some group calling itself the alumni of Mahasiswa Aspirasi Malaysia was busy warning students against alleged efforts to ‘turn them into puppets of the opposition.’

In a speech that clearly revealed him and fellows as not just puppets of but outright pimps for the predatory and repressive Umno/BN regime, alumni president Mohd Shahar Abdullah claimed that the students organising the #TangkapMO1 rally ‘are too gullible in believing the slander and propaganda of certain quarters against the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.’

Thus Mohd Shahar revealed himself as precisely the kind of dundergraduate that the Umno/BN regime’s system of dead-headucation in general and wackademic, looniversity system in particular is specifically designed to produce.

But Malaysia is not on its own in producing such idiots.

Khairy Jamaluddin, for example, is supposed to have studied at Oxford, though clearly to no good effect. And all Najib himself appears to have gained from his attendance at the University of Nottingham, the town historically closely associated with Robin Hood, is the entirely arse-about notion that it’s good to steal from the poor and give to the rich.

What a wonder it is, then, that the likes of Anis Syafiqah Mohd Yusof and lots and lots of other Malaysians, students and otherwise, and of every race and religion, have the smarts, strength and integrity to make it to adulthood with their wits very much about them and their senses of right and wrong unsullied.

Such clever and courageous citizens are Malaysia’s only hope in the nation’s life-and-death struggle against the forces of racism, religionism, corruption and criminality.

So here’s a hearty syabas! to them all, along with my hopes, however misplaced they may be, that every other honest, upstanding and intelligent inhabitant of Malaysia will join them in not just the #TangkapMO1 rally, but every future effort to finally rid the nation of not just Najib, but the entire rotten Umno/BN regime.

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Umnolympic Games.

It seems to me tremendously unfair to Malaysia that events at the Olympic Games are restricted to activities that can be considered ‘athletic’.

And even more unfair that ‘athletic’ is apparently defined in such a way as to exclude so many activities in which Malaysia is famously world-class.

Like, most obviously, the national sports of shopping and eating, in both of which a great many Malaysians train so hard and successfully that the country could justly be called Mallaysia or Mealaysia.

And as accomplished as so many of the nation’s citizens are in these fields, apparently none have achieved such supreme international championship levels as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his mixed-doubles partner Rosmah Mansour.

Their global shopping – and, to judge from Rosmah’s far-from-athletic figure – eating sprees are so legendary that as far as I’m concerned they deserve to be referred to as Malaysian Olympians 1 and 2, or MO1 and MO2 for short.

Because surely they would be shoo-ins for gold medals if the Olympic Games organisers weren’t so unfairly narrow-minded.

As would MO1 and Umno, the political party he heads, if the International Olympic Committee had the sense to include the ever-popular sport of synchronised spinning.

In fact, so superior has the Umno team and its media minions been in synchronized and every other form of spinning that it has outstripped all other regimes in the world for endurance, having run Malaysia for a marathon 59 years.

And looks set to lead the pack for many more Olympiads to come, having long perfected not just its spinning but also the hurdles.

Not so much leaping hurdles itself, however, but by a gold-medal performance in the sport of placing higher and higher hurdles in the path of those perennial also-rans, the Malaysian people.

Hurdles ranging from political control of the police, judiciary, ‘religious’ authorities and all the so-called civil services to a blatantly rigged and bribery-riddled electoral system.

Hurdles so insurmountable, in fact, that even though the whole world knows that Najib or MO1, together with his entire cabinet and crowd of cronies and supporters, should be headed for the high-jump for their complicity in the 1Malaysia Development Corporation (1MDB) swindle, the Malaysian people have no way of achieving this happy result.

And even more depressing is that millions of Malaysians either condone or don’t care about such Olympian levels of fraud and corruption, as they’ve been comprehensively doped.

Doped not with performance-enhancers like countless Russian and doubtless other Olympic athletes, but dumbed, numbed and performance-diminished by decades of false political, religious and racial propaganda by Umno’s aforementioned synchronised spinners.

But of course the Malaysian regime is by no means alone or even a leader in the race to turn its turn its people into a rabble of dopes and drones.

The gold medal would surely go to the laughably mis-named ‘People’s’ Republic of China if this event was to be included in the Olympics, with Putin’s Russian Republic a pretty sure bet for a silver, with Malaysia and countless other suspects competing for the bronze.

And of course the US is also shaping as a hot contender for a medal, what with millions of its inhabitants apparently dumb enough to accept, or at least to pretend for their own purposes to accept, the dope that Donald Trump doses them with.

Like, for example, his latest declaration that Barrack Obama and Hilary Clinton started Islamic State. A statement that clearly deserves a gold medal for sheer gall, let alone grotesque falsehood.

But on second thoughts, and in all fairness to Malaysia, it is not a great deal more ridiculous than many claims made by MO1. Like his denials that he was involved in the Scorpene submarines scandal and the associated murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, for example, or that he met Anwar Ibrahim’s alleged ‘victim’ before Anwar’s second sodomy trial.

Or, indeed, his more recent declaration that the billions of ringgit that appeared in his bank account(s) had nothing to do with the 1MDB scam, but was a ‘donation’ from a Middle-Eastern benefactor.

In short, or in summary, I hope I have made it clear by now why I’m such a strong critic of the Olympic Games in the form in which this event is currently being staged in Rio.

Not just, as many others are, because it is obscene to splurge so much money on sports, especially in countries like Brazil where so many people are so poor and deprived.

And not just because, as in Australia and elsewhere, the local media coverage reduces the Olympics from the celebration of sport that it should be, to a pathetic show of hype, hubris and hysterical nationalism.

But because the way it so patently and unfairly tilts the playing-field against such nations as Umno’s Malaysia, which may not be so great at running, jumping, swimming, sailing, cycling and goodness-knows-what-elsing, sportswise, but are world-beaters when it comes to official lying, cheating and stealing, and thus richly deserve their own Umnolympics.

 

 

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Xenophobes are all mixed-up.

But then we all of us are. As animals with attributes we call human, and thus, more accurately, humanimals, we are forever in two minds about everything. Constantly torn between emotionality and rationality, instinct and intelligence, and every possible other set of opposites.

So it is no wonder that we are so confused and outright conflicted in our attitudes to foreigners. On the one hand rejecting them as interlopers to be feared or invaders to be fought, and on the other more or less happily accepting them as tourists, temporary residents or permanent immigrants.

Of course this dilemma has plagued us ever since our own and other humanoid species emerged from Africa countless millennia ago. But today, with the globalization of everything from technology to terror, the issue seems more pressing than ever before.

More paradoxical too, as more and more people appear ready to surrender to their basest xenophobic instincts, and in the process to deny not only their alleged ethical and religious principles, but also their personal and national realities.

For example, the xenophobia that clearly at least partly fueled the majority vote in the recent referendum for the UK to leave the EU was partly led by Boris Johnson, who happens to be of Turkish descent, and supported by a great many more recent arrivals in Britain.

And the hard core of so-called ‘little Englanders’ who campaigned for and supported the Brexit campaign did so in spite of the historical fact that, far from being pure and unadulterated, England is a complex mixture of cultures produced by indigenous Celts, invading Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans, and countless immigrants who have been arriving for centuries from almost everywhere else on earth.

Even in the Battle of Britain, as I was fascinated to learn on a recent visit to the RAF Museum at Hendon, almost a quarter of the famous ‘few’ fighter pilots were foreigners, and the most successful squadron was composed of young men from the country from which people are today most commonly perceived by xenophobes to be ‘flooding Britain’ and ‘taking British jobs,’ Poland.

And in my own native country of Australia, the situation is similarly at odds with if not totally denying of history. All non-aboriginal people here are by definition foreign migrants or descendants of migrants. Yet after 200 years of such migration, despite lots of fine words and admittedly good intentions on the part of more recent governments, aboriginal people remain shockingly marginalized, disadvantaged and, witness recent revelations about a now-notorious youth-detention centre in the Northern Territory, abused.

Abused too are many of the thousands of people who have arrived here by boat seeing asylum in recent years, only to be incarcerated indefinitely in high-security so-called ‘detention centres.’

Of course the US shares a similarly dark history with Australia of decimating, dispossessing and displacing its native peoples, and additionally of shamelessly exploiting the ‘huddled masses’ that fled there in their millions from Europe and elsewhere.

And now the apparently deranged presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, is striving mightily to win the votes of fellow xenophobes by threatening to build a wall to exclude the Mexicans who illegally enter the US where employers gleefully exploit them as low-cost labour, and to refuse entry to Muslims fleeing terror in their homelands on the spurious grounds that they may turn to terrorism themselves.

As for Malaysia, headed as it currently is by the crooked, self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ Muslim Umno/BN regime, it appears to have learned nothing from the sordid histories of Europe, the US and Australia, in that it not only treats both its indigenous peoples and refugees equally callously, but actively promotes suspicion and mistrust between its main races and religions.

Pretending that it has some divinely-inspired mission to ‘struggle’ on behalf of both the Malay race and Islam the better to conceal or achieve forgiveness for the crimes it ceaselessly and systematically commits against Malaysians of all faiths and ethnicities.

From former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s various slogans like ‘buy British last’ and ‘look East,’ and constant allegations of a ‘Jewish conspiracy’ against Malaysia, to claims by cronies of Mahathir’s current successor Najib Abdul Razak that international investigations of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fraud are also conspiracies against the country, it is xenophobia all the way.

Except, of course, when it comes to spending the proceeds of plunder on foreign-built private aircraft, foreign travel, foreign jewellery, handbags and other high-end luxury goods, and investing in everything from expensive foreign real estate to the production of foreign movies.

In short, the Umno/BN xenophobes of Malaysia are even more mixed-up than most, and by deliberately dividing the races and religions of the nation they so miserably misrule seem to have made themselves quite safe in their homeland.

But now that they’ve taken to committing their crimes on foreign soil, let’s hope that at worst they’re forced to curtail their foreign jet-setting and shopping sprees, or at best that they’re destined to spend lots of time in foreign courts and foreign jails.

 

 

 

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Good-enough would be great.

Nothing grates on me more than the word great, as in the deranged Donald Trump’s call to US voters to elect him president and ‘make America great again’ or acts of terror committed in the cause of an allegedly ‘great’ God.

Such claims to greatness are cover-ups for at best great self-deceptions, and at worst great lies.

No God that was truly great would need supporters to commit killings and other crimes in His (or Her or Its) names. And no country with any genuine claim to greatness would seriously countenance a crackpot like Donald Trump as a candidate for any public office whatever, let alone its presidency.

Let’s face it, however sincerely we may aspire to greatness, human imperfection decrees that none of us or the countries we create or the divinities we invent are truly great all the way through or all the time.

So rather than shoot for ‘great’ and thus inevitably and often disastrously fail to achieve it, or to give up and go for the opposite extreme as some do, it seems to make sense to settle for ‘good’.

Or, as the eminent British paediatrician and psychoanalyst David Winnicott (1896-1971) famously proposed for parents, especially mothers, plagued by perceptions that they were falling short of perfection in rearing their children, good-enough.

The ‘good-enough’ mother, Winnicott claimed, in doing her best despite falling short of maternal perfection, let alone greatness, gives her children sufficient nurturing, support and encouragement to happily grow up to be their ‘true selves’, or at least their best possible ‘false selves’.

This relaxed, realistic and above all achievable ‘good-enough’ rather than impossibly great approach to seems to make sense to me, and better yet appears to work.

For example, while neither I nor either of the mothers of my children would claim to have been paragons of parental perfection, our offspring, now aged 51 and 21, have both apparently turned out much better than ‘good-enough’ people.

And professionally, while I’ve never kidded myself that I could ever aspire to be a ‘great’ writer, I’m perfectly content to be good-enough to keep typing, and even to attract if not necessarily interest or entertain the odd reader.

And just as the good-enough concept works for me, it also clearly does so, even if they’re not consciously aware of it, for the vast majority of my fellow humans who are sufficiently sensible to see ‘greatness’ for the unholy grail it so often proves to be.

For countries as well as for individuals, as witnessed perhaps most vividly by the tragic case of North Korea, cursed as it has been for decades by the self-styled Great leadership of its criminal Kim dynasty.

And as for what Donald Trump imagines he means when he claims to want to make America great again, it is anybody’s guess. Certainly the US can proudly proclaim its tremendous wealth, technological leadership, military might and democratic institutions.

But even an admirer of America on balance, as I am, has to have doubts about whether it has ever been truly great. Its tremendous wealth is accompanied by appalling poverty; too much of its technology is for military purposes; its military might too frequently misdirected, as during the Bush administration in Iraq and Afghanistan, and before that in Vietna; and its democratic institutions grotesquely skewed in favour of big business.

Then there is the fact that this self-proclaimed ‘land of the free’ was founded on slavery, has long had by far the biggest per-capita prison population in the world, maintains a rate of death by gunfire far higher than many of the world’s most murderous dictatorships, a still retains a shocking record of racial injustice.

Not to mention an apparently incurable fancy that God is great, and on its side, in every whit as fundamentalist a Christian fashion as Donald Trump demonises Muslims for having in Allah.

In short, what the US needs right now is not a president determined to make America great again, whatever that might mean, but another good-enough president like Barrack Obama, with the determination to make it better.

And as for Malaysia, which I suppose I might as well mention as long as I’m writing this for Malaysiakini, it is high time this country got itself a government that’s any good at all, instead of the Umno/BN one that it has, which is no good whatever.

Or, to put it another way, it is a great disgrace that this gang of no-good crooks has been systematically robbing Malaysia of its natural resources, and the Malaysian people of their funds, freedoms, rights and protections, ever since power was handed to it on a plate by the departing British colonisers.

And despite international action in the case of its latest massive crime against the nation, the 1MDB swindle, the chances of its reforming itself and doing something, anything good, let alone anything like good-enough, seems to remain a distant dream.

 

 

 

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First Brexit, next BNexit

I’ve been enjoying lots of exciting times lately. First arriving in London in time to experience the immediate aftermath of Brexit, which for many people over there was a matter for bitter Regrexit, and now returning home to the welcome spectacle of 1MDB getting its long-overdue Wrexit.

And the even more entertaining sight of the culprits doing their damndest to Rejexit, in every way from Prime Minister Najib Razak’s call for people not to ‘pre-judge’ the named alleged culprits to the ludicrous claim by BN mouthpiece the New Straits Times that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has been swayed by anti-regime bloggers and others.

Of course, as a friend living in Malaysia has reminded me, I shouldn’t be celebrexing the downfall of the 1MDB/BN gang too enthusiastically at this early stage.

My friend’s BN-supporting relatives, he reports, are still determinedly denying the guilt of all the crooks currently being targeted by the US DOJ, and there must be countless more Malaysians that are similarly desperately striving to delude themselves.

After all, it is not just Najib aka ‘Malaysian Official 1’ who is responsible for the clearly evident fact that, as the DOJ has asserted, the Malaysian people have been ‘defrauded on an enormous scale’ by way of 1MDB.

Equally culpable are not only Najib’s partners-in-crime like accomplice Jho Low and stepson Riza Aziz, but also countless accessories including the entire BN cabinet, the attorney-general and inspector-general of police, plus all of Najib’s apologists in the so-called mainstream media and those who have supported him and his regime in a series of fraudulent elections.

And let us not be blinded by the sheer scale of the 1MDB scam to the fact that BN members, cronies and supporters have been guilty of defrauding the Malaysian people on a massive scale for decades.

In Najib’s case, as many of us recall despite BN’s constant revision of its disgraceful history, a capacity for fraudulence is apparently hereditary, as it was his father, Tun Razak, who master-minded the May 13 1969 riots for the purpose of supplanting Tunku Abdul Rahman as prime minister.

The entire regime apparatus supported that act of political, social and racial treachery, and has since been complicit in Mahathir’s repressive and rapacious 22-year premiership, and now Najib’s reprise of more of the same.

Indeed, BN at large has been more than complicit in Najib’s case, as its members elevated him to the position of prime minister despite his being notoriously tainted by compelling suspicions of his involvement in the Scorpene Submarines kickback scandal and the associated murder of Mongolian ‘model’ Altantuya Shaariibuu.

These suspicions were almost as international as those currently swirling around Najib’s involvement in the 1MDB fraud.

As Hamish Macdonald of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote when BN awarded Najib the top job back in 2009, ‘Malaysia (has sworn in) perhaps one of the most questionable current politicians in any of the world’s democracies as its new prime minister, in a triumph of party-machine politics over sound governance and morality.’

And as former BBC correspondent in Malaysia, Jonathan Kent, similarly commented on Najib at the time, ‘it is really rather unusual for a head of government to find himself linked to the brutal murder of an attractive young woman or to huge and questionable commission payments for the purchase of armaments.’

Undaunted, however, BN members saw fit to inflict Najib on Malaysia the better to serve his and their own lusts for power and plunder, and seven years more of regime secrecy, lies, evasions and crimes against the people, culminating in 1MDB, have been the result.

So when the international pressure inspired by the 1MDB swindle finally grows too intense to bear, it is not just Najib who has to go, only to be substituted with some other BN crook that’s just as bad or even, if possible, worse.

Whether through the ballot, or massive public demonstrations of people-power, or rolling national strikes, or a class-action suit in the International Criminal Court, the entire gang of regime criminals has to be got rid of along with Najib, in one great and glorious BNexit.

 

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