Archive for July, 2013

The Hindu

The year 1973 was your average year… the Vietnam War ended; a Watergate scandal here, a record- breaking Led Zeppelin concert there; the usual humdrum stuff, until out of nowhere, like a non-telegraphed punch, entered the dragon and kicked open our consciousness forever. Enter the Dragon, a cult classic and Bruce Lee’s last film, was released on July 26, 1973, six days after the legendary martial artiste’s mysterious death. It coloured our existence like no other event that year. Forty years later we are still learning from it “the art of fighting without fighting”.

Bruce Lee’s intensity, his poker face, the cool Americans (Jimmy Kelly, who played Williams in the film, died on June 30 this year), the 70’s music, all contributed to the enduring appeal of the film. The philosophy packs an unstoppable, unforgettable punch.

Lines such as: “The highest technique is to have no technique; my technique is the result of your technique”; “Don’t think, feel”; “A good martial artiste does not become tense, but ready…, When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit. It hits all by itself”; have been guiding seekers, fighters, and the timid alike.

Enter the Dragon was not the only Lee film replete with Zen wisdom. Most of his films were an embodiment of Chinese philosophy. The characters he played were mostly upstanding, and astute men.

Lee majored in philosophy from the University of Washington but his love affair with the subject began when he was young. “My majoring in philosophy was closely related to the pugnacity of my childhood. I often asked myself these questions: What comes after victory? Why do people value victory so much? What is ‘glory’? What kind of ‘victory’ is ‘glorious’?”

Lee was greatly influenced by Taoism, Aristotle, and Jiddu Krishnamurti. Inevitably, the student became the teacher and theorized his own ideology on fighting and life namely ‘Jeet Kune Do’ (the way of the intercepting fist). Some JKD doctrines are…


According to many, Bruce had the perfect body; he had little fat and fast reflexes, was accurate, driven, and disciplined. His superhuman skills (he never lost a fight, his one-inch punch is the stuff of legends) came from years of practice. He trained all day, everyday, and moulded himself into the man he was.

He had the same dream for his students. All his theories revolved around physical and spiritual “expansion and growth” of an individual; he believed, “the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential”. And so he pushed himself and his students to go beyond all frontiers and be the people they were intended to be.


Unmindfully following set patterns and systems did not appeal to Lee. He was all for forgetting past learning, and making your own rules. Lee felt using your uncluttered mind, not marred by distracting untruths, was the greatest weapon.

The famous water metaphor exemplifies this point. “Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. That water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friend. Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.”

Lee here means that a stable mind in its pristine form would know instinctively how to react in any situation; devoid of emotions it will follow the natural scheme of things. It will be perfectly fluid and flexible like the softest substance, unshackled and free to flow.

And most importantly, the mind will be in the frontal opposition to a conflict (crashing) only when outward circumstances demand. That’s the crux of martial arts ideology: attack only to defend.

Lee once said: “You just wait. I’m going to be the biggest Chinese star in the world”. He became one. And here hasn’t been another one like him. It’s been 40 years since the Dragon roared for the last time. But some things transcend space and time. Like the dragon’s roar. We still hear it, when we are overpowered in shady lanes or noisy classrooms or professional offices – that’s when it inspires us to “fight, without fighting”.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has denied any involvement in Project IC as alleged by former senator and state assemblyman Dr Chong Eng Leong during the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah last week. In fact, Musa was the man responsible for convincing Premier Najib Tun Razak to have the RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah even though many in UMNO, including Shafie Apdal, were dead against the formation of the RCI.

Anyway, Former Sabah state Attorney-General Datuk Anthony Roderick Fernandez appeared on behalf of Musa at the High Court in Kota Kinabalu today and made a request to the five-men panel for Dr Chong’s official note of proceeding last week.

“My client will decide on his next course of action once he has read the report,” Anthony told the panel, saying Musa might also elect to appear before the RCI panel and give his testimony.

Dr Chong had alleged Musa had led a Sabah Umno task force to find foreigners to register them as party members and to ensure that they voted for Barisan Nasional. He claimed to have received the information from Jabar Khan, who was the secretary of the task force which was formed in 1991.

But, come to Kota Kinabalu, ask anyone in the know, who is Jabar Khan @ Yassir Arafat, we can hear loads about this fellow. Jabar Khan is one unreliable fellow and his credibility stinks.


Award-winning Indian novelist and poet Vikram Seth may be faced with the prospect of having to return his $ 1.7 million advance for the sequel to his 1993 classic ‘A Suitable Boy’.

His agents, David Godwin Associates, are in negotiations with publishers Hamish Hamilton over reported delays by the author in producing a manuscript to follow up his classic tome with ‘A Suitable Girl’.

While some reports suggested this may be a result of cost-cutting measures being put in place following the recent mega publishing merger of Penguin with Random House, the publishers have dismissed the idea.

“Penguin never comments on individual contract negotiations with our authors. It should be noted that these discussions precede the Penguin Random House merger, and are not at all connected to the merger or erroneous suggestions of cost cutting”, said a spokesperson for the publishing giant, which now owns Hamish Hamilton as part of the merger earlier this month.

Combined, the companies publish over 15,000 books annually and have 10,000 employees with revenues of $ 3.9 billion.

’A Suitable Boy’ is one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language. Set in post-independence India, it recently marked its 20th anniversary with a paperback reissue in May.

The book’s key character, Lata, was to be juxtaposed within a contemporary Indian context for ‘A Suitable Girl’, initially expected later this year and later pushed to 2014-15.

David Godwin, Vikram Seth’s literary agent who is heading up the ongoing negotiations with the publishers, said the author “has been known to take his time with his books”.

He did not confirm details of the discussions at this stage and whether it could lead to Vikram Seth having to return his hefty advance, but is hopeful of settling on a new deadline for the delivery of the manuscript.

Its Egypt Egypt everywhere, so far at least 51 people are reported killed. I thought I too give my 2 cents worth of Egypt.

The apparent military ouster of Egyptian President Morsi is a triumph for the coalition of protestors who have massed in Tahrir Square the last few days. They include many of the young, secular, facebook kakis, tech-savvy activists who captured the world´s imagination more than two years ago, when they helped bring down Hosni Mubarak´s autocratic regime. I am of the opinion that this is one reason why the Obama Administration has not attempted to stop or even condemn the coup in Egypt. Morsi´s removal may well empower forces that are more friendly to the US than the Muslim Brotherhood. It also signals the end of a decade-long-US project to bring democracy to the Middle East.

As the Arab Spring unfolded in 2011, President Obama more openly embraced democratisation. The Obama Administration gave tacit support for the revolution in Tunisia, publicly called for Mubarak to step down, and undertook military action to aid the rebellion against Libya´s Muammar Gaddafi.

The result has been, in a word, chaos. Of the countries in the Middle East in which the U.S. has supported regime change since 2003, only Tunisia can be said to be anything resembling a stable, functioning state. Even there, Islamist parties have been the biggest electoral winners – just as the Muslim Brotherhood proved the most formidable political organisation in Egypt once elections were finally held last year.

Coming back to Egypt, Morsi´s opponents have won a Pyrrhic victory. The generals are the wrong friends for the democratic movement. They are no democrats, and they are even less interested in safeguarding the development of democracy in Egypt. The military is a state within a state and it has been pulling the strings in the background for decades. The liberal opposition, in particular, cannot be certain that in the future the military won´t next topple a government that is dully elected and which does not correspond with its views. For this reason, the joy over Morsi´s ouster is shortsighted. The army´s intervention could turn out to be more dangerous than is currently foreseeable. Egypt is threatened by a deep division that could result in conditions like those seen in Algeria.

Coups may be signs of failure, but they can also be signs of rebirth. It is an irony of history that too much emphasis on the process of democracy sometimes leads to the opposite result. The Egyptian military may have ended Morsi’s ambition, but it has offered Egypt its last best chance to avoid Islamist dictatorship.

This is for my friend MD Mutalib who passed away so suddenly on 29th of June 2013.

I got to know Mutalib and his family the last few years. Even my 2 kids were friend’s of Mutalib. I share the loss of this unsung hero, he suffered a lot while exposing the issuance of I/Cs to illegal immigrants from the Philippines, Indonesia and the Indian Subcontinent. For those who are in the dark about him, Mutalib was in fact the first to expose the “I/C Palsu” and illegal immigrants voting using forged I/C.

Although he was a Peninsular Malaysian born in Kedah, Mutalib was A true Sabahan who fought for justice for Sabahans and pursued Sabah’s Mother of All Problems “the illegal I/C”. I dare say here that its because of Mutalib’s years of painstaking efforts Sabah got its Royal Commission of Enquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah.

But I’m also pondering how his sudden demise has raised some strange questions since he was the key witness for the ongoing RCI. A ‘conspiracy theory’ – RCI on illegal immigrants has just lost a credible witness just days before he is about to appear in the witness box. Mutalib’s death has also sparked rumors among those in the know and even on Facebook that he might have been the victim of an assassination plot.

This is no speculation; Mutalib himself had raised the question many times with me in the past when we were discussing of the sudden death of Private Investigator Bala who was involve in the Altantuya Drama. Mutalib wondered if the “government” could be infecting the “government critics” with illness … Mutalib even told me, ‘I don’t want to make any reckless accusations,’ but Mutalib said he was concerned by something he finds ‘very, very, very strange.’ ‘Would it be strange if Malaysia had developed a technology to induce heart failure or stroke, and for no one to know it?’ he asked me.

As with many conspiracy theories, there are a few grains of truth that lend such stories plausibility.

But, there’s also some evidences that governments have used poison to target enemies of the state. In 2006, former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko became sick and died from being poisoned by a dose of radioactive polonium-210, and before his death accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of the assassination. Still, government denials of sinister, clandestine assassination plots are to be expected, and did little to discourage conspiracy theorists.

I suppose only time will be able to tell. For now, I bid a final farewell to my friend Mutalib, a true and fearless Sabahan who tried to right the wrongs, but did not live long enough to see through with what he had been fighting for all these years. A champion for Sabahans, an unsung hero, we will be missing him.

My deepest condolence to his family and may Allah bless his soul.

He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery