Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Saturday, 31 January 2009

So Who Owns The Ouessant Actually?

There has always been a question mark from the general public on the actual ownership of the Agosta 70 class submarine Ouessant used in the training of the Malaysian submariners in France. The confusion arises because early reports on Malaysia's acquisition of the Scorpene Submarines stated that package included the purchase of the Ouessant. Nonetheless the actual training agreement with DCI (Défense Conseil International) and their submarine training unit, NAVFCO in 2003 actually calls for the training of 156 submariners in NAVFCO Submarine school in Centre d’Instruction Naval (CIN) Brest, France for the formation and training of a submarine corps. This includes physical training on board the Ouessant, rehabilitated by DCN in 2004 after deactivation by the French Navy in 2001, by a crew detached from the navy to man the submarine while she is being used in the initial training of the Malaysian submariners. Thus this makes the submarine unique in being civilian owned but maintained by military personnel in France. So it is no surprise that she flies the French flag while transitting Brest in 2007 as in the picture above. Unfortunately this fact is only well documented in a French website but should be easily translated in the net.

As for the future of the Ouessant after the end of the Submariner's training this year, the current RMN CNO Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Jaafar in an interview last April by Defence Site KLSR emphatically stated that she will not come back to Malaysia to serve in the navy. This is because Ouessant is almost 30 years old so it will be very hard to get spare parts for operational use and Malaysia also does not have skillful personal to maintain and service her. Nonetheless the CNO left open the possibility that she may return as a museum ship as she has significant historical value for RMN and is an important part of the RMN’s effort to establish submarine fleet. Nonetheless whether any money can be made available for this venture in the budget-tightening situation the armed forces is facing remains to be seen. Maybe the Perak State Government can include this in their proposed Lumut Waterfront project that includes a maritime museum complex. What do you say?

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Malaysia Takes Delivery Of Its First Submarine

Malaysia has taken formal delivery of its first submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman at the French naval base in Toulon, on Saturday. This major milestone for the RMN follows the completion, in late December 2008, of KD Tunku Abdul Rahman's final sea trials demonstrating remarkable operational and combat system capabilities. These trials included successful firings of Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes and missiles.KD Tunku Abdul Rahman is scheduled to arrive at the Sepanggar naval base in July this year. The second of the series, KD Tun Razak, is scheduled for delivery in late 2009.

Manned by Malaysian crews of just 31, the boats offer an endurance of 45 days for a displacement of 1,550 tonnes and a length overall of 67.5 metres. The submarine can dive to a depth of between 100m and 200m and is armed with six torpedo tubes which can fire simultaneously, anti-ship surface missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes, with a capacity of 10 torpedoes and 30 mines.
The submarine service marks the gradual progress of the Royal Malaysian Navy towards a world-class navy, also in line with the wish to transition into the 4-dimensional warfare (surface, underwater, space and electronic) capability. Thus KD Tunku Abdul Rahman has now gone into history as the first submarine to be commissioned into the Royal Malaysian Navy and will sail home manned fully by our own submariners. Congratulations to the crew of the submarine on their having surpassed all obstacles and challenges in qualifying to become the crew of the nation's first submarine.

Monday, 26 January 2009

In The Finest Traditions Of The Navy

M o t t o
Malem Fero Malis: 'I bring evil to the evil.'

It is in the mists of time that sometimes it may be lost the reason why a naval ship is so named, especially since some navies like the Royal Navy as a tradition to rename their important ships with historic ships’ names in not only to commemorate their bravery but also with the hopes of continuing the fighting tradition of their predecessors. Many may not know it but the naming of the our new generation patrol vessels can trace their origins to the armed merchantmen that fought their Japanese navy ships despite overwhelming odds, and the most famous amongst them the HMS Kedah has oftentimes became the leading ship of the class. Thus it is through this tradition from the Royal Navy can our foremost stone frigate the KD Malaya trace the roots of her name to one of most important battleships of her era that bravely fought not in one but two world wars, thus no one can say the name was given in a vain glorious effort to mark our nation’s antecedent name but more to continue the tradition of venerating historic ships names to express the hopes that our fledgling navy would continue to uphold the fighting qualities the name embraces.

HMS Malaya was one of five great fifteen inch gun, oil burning super dreadnoughts of the 1912 Queen Elizabeth class and was named after the British colony that paid to build her at a cost of almost three million Sterling Pounds. This division of large, fast, heavily armoured ships, powered by oil and carrying heavier guns than on any previous dreadnought, played a decisive role in the Battle of Jutland, the apex battle between the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy in World War I. The dominant naval weapon of the era was the great gun: the long barrelled naval cannon that fired a heavy shell down a rifled tube, lofting the spiralling projectile thousands of yards to plunge onto an enemy ship, piercing and penetrating heavy armour to burst inside turrets or hull, spreading fire, devastation, chaos and death. The new ships could deliver a knockout punch with their large guns; it remained to provide them with armour and speed. In these ships there was no skimping in armour; key areas such as the waterline and turrets were covered by thirteen and a half inches of solid steel. These ships could now deliver and take a punch but speed was wanted as the standard twenty one knots of a British dreadnought was not sufficient to overtake a fleeing enemy and bring them to battle. Armour would not be sacrificed for speed and the solution is oil fuel as it burns more fiercely than coal and gives more heat and steam created under more pressure drove the shafts and turned the propellers quicker thus achieving speeds of 26 knots. Immeasurably superior to any earlier battleship, they continued to form the backbone of British naval strength well into the Second World War. And HMS Malaya was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet as a reminder that Malaya as one of the Dominion states had made her contribution to the war at sea. In World War II she served in the Mediterranean in 1940, escorting convoys and operating against the Italian fleet. Latterly she served escorted convoys in the Atlantic and from the UK to Malta and Cape Town until summer 1943. Malaya was withdrawn from service at the end of 1944 and placed in reserve and served as an accommodation ship. Sold on 20 February 1948 to Metal Industries, she arrived at Faslane on 12 April 1948 for scrapping.

Point of a German 12inch shell which struck HMS Malaya in the Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916.

The name Malaya was again resurrected after the war when the name was given to a LCT Mk3 that was inducted into service into the Malayan Naval Force on 18 April 1949, after conversion into a training and accommodation ship before entering service to serve as a training ship as the MS Malaya. The name was later transferred to an operational and training base built at Woodlands Singapore that was known as the HMMS Malaya in 1952 and was transferred to the newly independent Malaya in 1958 until being renamed as Kapal Diraja Malaya in 1961 after the navy dropped the old HMMS as a relic of colonialism. In 1984, KD Malaya that was serving as a support unit finally moved from Singapore to Lumut. Now serving as Fleet Headquarters, KD Malaya is still expected to be in the thick of action when the situation heats up even though she is now a stone frigate rather than a fire breathing combat ship that was her namesake, and therefore will carry on the fighting traditions as befitting the name.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Sometimes The Alternative Is Better!

It is difficult for a middle class guy to be a cheese connoisseur in Malaysia. Look at the price of real cheese in the Malaysian supermarkets and you would know why. I knowlah that these cheeses are imported, but why are they so expensive even for simple cheeses like cheddar and Edam. This grates me because natural cheeses overseas are actually quite affordable, but then I cannot really purchase them there for one because usually they are sold in shops that sells pig products so their halalness is compromised, secondly some of the cheese products themselves undergo process that may include non-halal stuff, so it is case of see no touch for me. It does rankle me a bit when I saw a Philippines food program showing that over there they are manufacturing various types of natural cheese already, but there now seems to be a ray of hope that locally this situation will improve when a natural cheese making factory Friendly Farms has set up shop in Langkawi, but then their market is still limited and not mass marketed even to Kuala Lumpur yet.

So that leaves a typical consumer like me to satiate my hunger for cheese with processed cheeses like single cheddar cheese slices, and all this while those from Kraft are the numero uno brand in Malaysia. Although other brands like Anchor that has since been replaced by Chesdale and Laughing Cow have been around, Kraft seems to have maintained their lead in the local cheese market simply by offering good value products. There are also local brands that have entered the market like SCS and Mack but I have not had the heart to try them yet, doubting the taste will be up to mark though I must say that the taste of Kraft's slices has also become less creamy and cheesy than before, I guess pandering to the local tastes.

Nonetheless when I wanted to buy some Kraft Chesse recently, imagine my surprise when a two dozen slice pack now cost an even twenty ringgit, almost double the price the last time I bought a pack. The local cheese brands's price are still reasonable though so I was thinking that maybe it was time for me to give them a try. However while scanning the cheese racks, my eyes fell on the price for Bega cheese that is at a good discount to the price of Kraft's, and since I always felt the brand to be a premium brand due to its European sounding name the pricing intrigued me. Imagine my surprise when I saw it was an Australian brand just like Kraft, so I thought might as well give it a try. I must say that this was one action that I did not regret, because the taste was real cheddary like what Kraft tasted like a long time ago. Emmm this will make this brand the default brand for my family now. The best thing is that looking at their website, it seems that they also have natural cheese slices, so this will be something that I will look up at the cheese rack the next time I am at the supermarket.

Finally She Becomes A Museum

After five years of being decommissioned in 19 December 2003 and being used as a static training ship while awaiting her fate, I am happy to note that the Royal Malaysian Navy has finally decided to hand over the Ex Rahmat frigate to the Perak State Department to be developed into a museum ship as part of an historical monument and recreational site for Lumut that will be declared as a Naval Town in April. This will be in line with the Perak Sultan's command to keep the ship within the state. Privatised to a local company, the plan is to be implemented in three phases, the first of which involves renovating the frigate into a maritime museum incorporating a boutique hotel, bistro, hanging bridge and jetty at a cost of Ringgit 2.1 million to be berthed at the Lumut Waterfront while phase two will involve developing a RMN museum, Rahmat square and shopping complex.

Although on a personal basis I find the plan for turning part of the ship into a boutique hotel and bistro incomprehensible and abhorrent for the status of such a ship, I guess this is the commercial revenue pay-off to be given to the private company that is investing in the project. I do hope however that Rahmat the museum ship itself will emphasise the contributions that she has made for the more than thirty years that she has been in service to the nation, and underline the fact that she is the first Frigate that was purpose built and designed to Malaysian needs, and the result was so good she inspired frigate derivatives used by other navies including Thailand. She was also the first ship to be fitted with surface to air missile system, making the RMN the first navy in the region to be so-equipped. I re-produce herewith her specifications and I hope you enjoy some of her early pictures to boot.

A Yarrow Mark 1 frigate, Rahmat was the first major purpose-built warship for the Royal Malaysian Navy. She was laid down in 1966 and was originally called the KD Hang Jebat. However her name was later changed to Rahmat due to superstitious reasons after she had a run of unfortunate events in the 1970's. At the time of delivery, Rahmat was a capable ship by the standards then prevalent in South East Asia (SEA), with a high level of automation and a design emphasis on simplicity that reduced manning requirements. She was initially delivered in 1972 with a quadruple Sea Cat Surface to Air Missile(SAM) launcher, therefore making the Royal Malaysian Navy one of the first navies to be SAM-equipped in SEA. The third Bofors 40mm then replaced the outdated launcher in 1983 during a modernisation re-fit where the director was also removed, thereby altering her original appearance. On board, there is also a provision for the embarkation of a helicopter with the incorporation of a McGregor hatch over the well deck. Originally configured as an ASW frigate, she was used as the navy's second training vessel in the same squadron as KD Tuah. Decommissioned in 2004, she is now playing a role as a static training ship while awaiting conversion to a museum ship.

Displacement: 1250 tons standard, 1600 tons full load
Dimensions: 93.9m x 10.4m x 4.5m
Guns: 1 x 114mm/45 Vickers Mk 5 DP, 3x 40mm/70 Bofors. (Range : Main 19 Km/12.5 Km, Aux : 12 Km/4 Km)
ASW: 1 x Mk10 Limbo Mortar (3 tubes) (Range : 900 metres)
Electronics: Sewaco-MA combat data system, Signaal LW.02, Decca 626, Kelvin Hughes MS32 Radars, One radar for the WM22 gun fire-control system, Graseby Type 174 and Type 170B sonars, ESM system with UA-3 warning and FH-4 jamming elements, 2 UK Mk1 rail chaff launchers, Link Y
Propulsion: Rolls Royce Olympus TM1B gas turbine at 20626hp or Crossley/SEMT-Pielstick SPC2V diesel at 4000hp to two shafts, controllable pitch propellers
Speed: 26 knots, range 9656 Km at 16 knots
Crew: 140
Aircraft: Platform Aft

KD Rahmat In 1970

KD Rahmat In 1971

KD Rahmat in 1972

Sunday, 18 January 2009

From The Pirate's Mouth

To those of you who had wanted our government and our navy to go in with guns blazing as what the French did in their rescue of their yatchs, then this interview with one of the Kingpin's of the Somalian pirates would serve to illuminate what holds in wait if we had just done that to rescue our two larger tankers, whether it was successul or otherwise. At least consider the fact that our merchantmen still has to move in such waters after the inicident, and our government cannot afford to provide convoy escorts forever that would be especially needed if we had gone in like what some had wanted to. The possiblities of reprisal would have required at least that. Read on and try to understand that.

The Evil Solution

Young and desperate, Somali pirates aren't afraid to commit heinous acts of destruction, says one of their leaders.

Rod Nordland

Newsweek Web Exclusive

Somali pirates last September captured a Ukrainian cargo ship, the MV Faina, loaded to the gunnels with heavy weaponry, including 33 Russian-designed T-72 battle tanks. Since then, American and Russian naval vessels have been shadowing the ship at its anchorage off the fishing village of Hindawao, 300 miles north of Mogadishu. This month there were reports that the ship's owners had agreed on ransom terms, but the Faina and its crew are still being held. NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland interviewed Shamun Indhabur, who is thought to be the leader of the pirates who took the Faina, and the Sirius Star, a Saudi supertanker with $100 million worth of oil aboard. The interview was conducted by satellite telephone to the bridge of the Faina, through Somali translator Abukar al-Badri. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: What is your background, and how did you capture the MV Faina?

Shamun Indhabur: I was a fisherman before I turned to piracy, a crewmember of a small fishing boat. We used to capture lobsters and sharks. When we hijacked MV Faina it was early morning 24 September 2008, in Somali waters. We took it after 60 minutes of fighting between the crewmembers and our gunmen and eventually the captain decided to surrender after we fired some rockets to warn them that we were close to destroying the ship if they didn't surrender. The captain tried to escape, but he didn't succeed. He had a pistol and he refused to surrender until we were close to killing him. When we intercepted the ship and saw the shipment [of arms], then we thought it was going to Somalia and belonged to the Ethiopians [whose army is supporting the transitional government in Somalia], but the captain told us that it was going to South Africa. Then later we saw that it was going to southern Sudan, after we forced the captain to show us the manifests.

What's the situation on board the Faina now?

The middlemen tried to steal some of the money we agreed on [estimated at more than $3 million]. And now we can't trust them. They're trying to take the money, and we are the criminals. We can't accept that.

How are your ransoms paid?

We get the money two ways. A boat takes the money from Djibouti, then a helicopter takes the money from the boat, then it drops the money in waterproof cartons on assigned [small] boats. Then we collect it, check if it is false or not, then we release the ship. The other way we get the money is a boat from Mombasa.

Isn't it dangerous for middlemen to be carrying so much money into a lawless place like Somalia?I've heard some of them have been killed doing it, is that true?

The pirates are different groups. Those in Puntland may have problems with the middlemen and sometimes kill them.

Why has there been such an increase Somali piracy?

In Somalia all the young men are desperate. There is wide unemployment in the country, there are no sources of income. One of the only sources we have had is fishing, and the superpowers and Asian countries sidelined us in our own sea. So at first we started out just to counter illegal fishing, but international forces started to protect them.

Now the European Union is sending an additional naval force. Are you worried about the increased naval presence?

We know the EU and NATO forces are coming, but that is not the solution. The solution is to restore peace in Somalia so that we can have a better life and more job opportunities. I can tell you that sending forces will not stop us going into piracy. They can arrest us if they find us out at sea, they've arrested our friends several times, but that will never deter us from this business. The only thing that can stop piracy is a strong government in Somalia.

The most friendly forces in Somali waters are the U.S. forces. They arrest us and release us, because they know we are not going to hurt them. But the French and the Indians treat us badly and sometimes they don't know what they're doing. The Indians sunk that Thai boat [a fishing vessel reportedly taken over by pirates this month] and said it was pirates, but I tell you there was not a single pirate on that boat.

Are you worried about another attack ashore, such as the one the French conducted, now that the U.N. has approved such attacks?

The French forces made two attacks. They arrested our friends, but French nationals will pay for that. If we get a ship with French nationals, we will punish the crew and they will pay double ransom. We're not worried about another attack [against pirates on land], because now we are on very high alert and they will never succeed with another raid.

You justify piracy against all shipping even though your only complaint was against foreign fishing boats operating in your waters. Does that really make sense?

I justify it as a dirty business encouraged by the foreign forces that were escorting illegal fishing boats and toxic waste dumpers. And if they are escorting fishing boats, they can't escort all commercial shipping, and if we are forced to avoid fishing our waters, then those [commercial] ships are all our fish.

How do you justify attacking pleasure yachts hundreds of miles offshore, or cruise liners, or even any vessel so far from Somalia?

Luxury yachts are what we are looking for, because what we need is money, and if we get a luxury yacht, we make a fortune.

Some ships have started putting armed guards on their vessels. Others have used weapons such as sonic guns, which use beams of loud noise to deter pirates. Does any of that worry you?

It will not protect them. We also have rocket-propelled grenades and we can destroy them. For those with the sonic guns, we hijacked some of them even after they fired the sonic guns. Truly speaking, when we go to sea we are drunk, and we are like hungry wolves running after meat. We don't even know what we are doing until we have boarded.

Some of the leaders of the Islamists now fighting the Somali government have criticized pirates for giving the country a bad name, and for attacking Muslim-owned ships like the Sirius Star.

The Islamists have a memorandum of understanding with us. What they are saying to the media is not their real position. They just want to send a message to their Arab friends who sometimes fund them.

What if the Islamists come back to power?

The Islamists are not homogenous groups, they are heterogeneous. I can guess they'll never come back to power as in 2006, but they can fight one another and create a huge mess. If they did take power, they must restore law and order and create job opportunities for us. If they don't, then piracy will never stop.

How are the Somalipirates organized? Do you all coordinate your actions?

The pirates belong to different groups, but we have umbrella groups. There are two main groups, one in Puntland and the other in south and central Somalia, which is my group. I am a member of the seven top committee members in south and central. We are a group of men with norms and terms, and we respect them.

The pirates holding the Sirius Star have threatened to dump its oil if their demands are not met. Is that a serious threat, and do they realize how much damage that could do not only to Somalia but other countries as well?

Those holding the Sirius Star and the MV Faina I'm aboard now, we are the same group. And we know the risk of spilling the oil shipment. But when evil is the only solution, you do evil. That is why we are doing piracy. I know it is evil, but it is a solution.


So What Now?

It has now come to pass that Barisan Nasional finally has lost the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat with a good majority, something that if we had really practised Westminster politics would be justifiable cause for general elections to be called. However I doubt that this will happen now. This now becomes a black mark against the incoming administration as this was an opportunity no matter how inopportune for him to demonstrate his ability carry out the trust to rejuvenate, refresh and renew voters trust in Barisan Nasional but now the test has been failed miserably. I cannot but feel that the Prime Minister should have instead batten the hatches and did the job himself come what may, and dealt with the problems in his own internal elections and then the general elections to reaffirm his or his successor’s mandate. Whatever the outcome, it would have removed any uncertainty in who actually holds the political mandate of the people. As it is now, despite whatever the political pundits may say, the wayang or gamesmanship by all parties will go on until the next elections are called and we will all can only guess on what could have been.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Ops Fajar News

Slowly news of what happens in the Gulf of Aden is made public.

Friday January 16, 2009
Anxious moment for heli crew

LUMUT: Confronted by pirates off the Somalia coast was a nerve-wrecking moment for our navy boys.

Commander Sazalee Shoib, commander of the Super Lynx helicopter unit, was watching over the MISC container vessel Bunga Mas Enam which had stalled due to mechanical problems in November last year.

Below, two skiffs (speedboats) filled with the pirates were already near the vessel with six other skiffs rushing to the scene.

Commander Sazalee said there was a possibility that the pirates carried rocket launchers and other weapons.

Kapt Khalid speaking to Commander Sazalee (left) at the Lumut naval base Thursday. The KD Mahawangsa is seen in the background.

So he kept a safe distance but close enough to show the pirates that he meant business.

“Under the rules of engagement, we are not allowed to fire unless fired upon first,” said Commander Sazalee when met at the naval base here yesterday.

The pirates, probably considering their options, decided not to do anything.

After an hour, they retreated upon seeing the warship KD Mahawangsa.

The KD Mahawangsa had sailed to the Gulf of Aden on Sept 7 last year to escort merchant ships plying the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.

A filepic of the warship escorting the MISC trade vessel to its destination.

One of its mission was to escort the Bunga Mas Enam and another merchant ship to Djibouti, Soma­lia.

KD Mahawangsa commanding officer Kapt Khalid Jaafar said the container vessel had fallen an hour behind due to the mechanical failure. The vessel’s crew then radioed in to say that eight skiffs were approaching the vessel.

“I decided to send the Super Lynx team (to watch over the vessel) while we make our way back to the vessel,” Kapt Khalid said.

He said it was an anxious moment for him and his crew.

The KD Mahawangsa returned to base here on Dec 17 and was replaced by the KD Sri Inderasakti.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Deli Spaghetti Take Away

As yesterday my two lunch buddies were on leave, I decided that it was a good time for me to try out the neighbourhood Delifrance’s take-away promotion for spaghetti at a nett price of ringgit six eighty. I have eyed their advertisement for the promotion for a few weeks already and I thought this would be something that I can regularly buy on the quite frequent days that I do not have the mood for a sit down lunch.

Well on to the food it self, it was packed in a lunch box that consisted of the spaghetti of your choice and complimentary garlic bread and root beer to make it a complete meal. They only had beef bolognaise when I was there so this was the set neatly packed that I took back to the office. However I would like to comment that Delifrance should relook at their cap for the cup, as having a permanent hole will make the root beer slosh around in the pack and you will get a wet pack once you arrive at the office.

About the spaghetti, you actually get a quite smallish portion with three meatballs of your choice. Nonetheless the portion is quite sufficient for light eaters and the meatballs do add bulk to meal. I cannot say the same for the garlic bread though as half a top will not dolah Delifrance. I know that it is free but do a bit of justice with the portion will you. And do not stinge with the utensil will you as a plastic soup spoon is not an appropriate utensil for eating spaghetti with! Why? Does a plastic fork that is more suitable cost too much more? This is quite a glaring weakness for this pack meal for me. Luckily the overall taste of the spaghetti, meatballs and sauce was satisfactory for my palate.

Anyway for a heavy eater like me, the portion certainly does not suffice and I rectified this when I saw the portion of spaghetti being packed. I decide to also purchase a chicken béchamel topped croissant that attracted my eye when I was waiting for the meal to be packed. This I have no complaints with as the topping with chicken bites and chopped button mushrooms mixed in béchamel sauce was supremely delicious. In fact I felt that two pieces of this for lunch would actually make a more substantial lunch than the one I just had at a slightly lower cost of ringgit five twenty each. So the verdict is that though this spaghetti offer itself will not elicit a return visit for me, but the béchamel croissant is another proposition itself.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Collateral Damage Or Just Plain Baby Killing

I have mentioned before that I no longer have the werewithal to write about the atrocities that is happening in the land of Philistines. Thus I am happy to find the following article that accurately express my feelings. So like most of us, I am taking the easy way out and re-producing the article in the whole, may it at least make more of us understand what is really at stake here.

Lifefocus Sunday January 11, 2009


Do what thou will, but people, leave them kids alone!

OKAY, time for a rant. Don’t expect a well-reasoned argument or a nuanced stance. Don’t even expect coherence or professional wordcraft here. Forget about journalistic objectivity or a professional code of ethics, seeing both sides of the story or walking in another man’s moccasins. I don’t care about the supposed political complexities, cultural sensitivities or historical subtleties.

Not when you start killing innocent people. Especially not when you start killing children.

A few years ago, when I was at the Asia News Network – the alliance of leading English dailies in Asia, including The Star – one of my colleagues did a special report on the use of child soldiers in conflicts across the region. Most of these centred on Indo-Chinese nations, but it also included reports on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or the Tamil Tigers, in Sri Lanka abducting children to train them to kill.

When you take children away from their families, put guns in their hands, and tell them to kill other people for the glory of your cause, you’ve lost all moral standing. Your cause is lost with me. You don’t deserve victory.

An Associated Press article published in The Star on Thursday reported that out of the 75 people killed in Israeli attacks on Palestine, only five were confirmed militants. That’s right, 70 were civilians: Innocent men, women, and children. As of that date, more than 300 of the 670 Palestinians killed since Israel began its aggressive military campaign on Dec 27 were civilians.

And at least 130 were children aged 16 or below.

And we’re not even talking about the strike on the school earlier this week. The Israelis said that Hamas militants were taking refuge there, but can’t explain why many of the bodies pulled out of the rubble were that of teenaged boys and children.

Oh yes, Hamas started it by raining rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli targets. I don’t care. You’ve killed children. Toddlers and infants. Your justifications ran out there.

And if Hamas militants were using children as shields hoping that their enemies had a modicum of morality and plain old human decency, then yeah, both sides have gained my greater contempt as well.

The Israelis and the Palestinians are not the only ones. There are the Americans and their few allies in the war to destroy Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass distraction, air strikes against Afghan wedding parties, and the Western media’s pandering to such atrocities by allowing the US military to describe them as collateral damage.

See, I don’t care if there were glitches in your stupid “smart weapons”, or that your intelligence gathering was just plain dumb. There’s no excuse.

Their enemies are as much to blame, whether they are Muslim, Christian, free-thinking, or atheistic terrorists. When you plant a bomb knowing that innocent people are going to be killed, then you deserve the Gitmo treatment.

In a message to world leaders, Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah, who is Unicef’s (the United Nations Children’s Fund) Eminent Advocate for Children, said: “Our humanity is incomplete when children, irrespective of nationality, are victims of military operations.”

“More than 70 dead children, close to 600 injured,” she said, referring to the Gaza death toll. “What does the world tell their mothers? That they are collateral damage? That their lives don’t matter? That their deaths don’t count?”

The United Nations and the International Court of Justice should just get off their asses and declare this simple truth: That any combatant who harms children in any conflict under any circumstances whatsoever is guilty of crimes against humanity. They should be hauled off to face justice. They should be treated no better than the Nazi war criminals were.

And the same goes for those who support them ideologically, militarily, financially, or politically.

This is not an issue about religion, despite how some are painting it. No, neither are these atrocities against the Muslim world, despite what some politicians say. Such beliefs have led to a mess of misconceived statements and intentions, such as boycotting American products or sending in the troops to fight for a regime that doesn’t have an exactly spotless conscience either.

No, this is a humanitarian issue. It’s as simple as this: There is a bunch of people killing children.

What is the world community – what are we – going to do about it?

A. Asohan, New Media Editor at The Star, can’t think of anything else to say.

Can we at least pray the DOA QUNUT NAZILAH AT LEAST?

اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِنَا فِيمَنْ هَدَيْتَ ، وَعَافِنَا فِيمَنَ عَافَيْتَ ، وتَوَلَّنَا فِيمَنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ، وَبَارِكْ لَنَا فِيمَا أَعْطَيْتَ ، وَقِنَا شَرَّ مَا قَضَيْتَ ، إِنَّكَ تَقْضِي وَلا يُقْضَى عَلَيْكَ ،وَإِنَّهُ لا يَذِلُّ مَنْ وَالَيْتَ ، تَبَارَكْتَ وَتَعَالَيْتَ

Allahumma inna nasta’inuka wa nastaghfiruka, wa nu’minu bika, wa natawwakkalu alayika, wa nusni alayikal khaira, wa nashkuruka wa la nakforuka wa nakhla’u wa natruku manyafjoruk. Allahumma iyyaka na’budu wa laka nusalli wa nasjudu wa ilayika nasa wa nahfidu, wa narju Rahmataka wa nakhsha ‘adhzabaka; inna adhabaka al-jidda bi al-kuffari mulhiq

O Allah! We seek Your assistance and ask for Your guidance, and we beseech Your forgiveness and return to You in repentance. We cherish faith in You and place our trust in You. We attribute all goodness to You. We are grateful to You and refuse to be ungrateful to You. We abandon and forsake all those who reject You. O Allah, You alone we worship, unto You alone we pray; unto You alone we prostrate, and for You alone we strive. Unto You alone we flee for refuge. We cherish hope in Your mercy and we fear Your retribution. Verily, Your punishment is bound to catch up with those who reject the truth.

“Ya Allah, berilah kami petunjuk sebagaimana orang-orang yang telah Engkau beri petunjuk. Selamatkanlah kami dalam golongan orang-orang yang Engkau telah pelihara. Uruslah kami di antara orang-orang yang telah Engkau urus. Berkahilah kami dalam segala sesuatu yang Engkau telah berikan. Hindarkanlah kami dari segala bahaya yang Engkau telah tetapkan. Sesungguhnya Engkaulah yang menentukan dan bukan yang ditentukan. Sesungguhnya tidak akan jadi hina orang yang telah Engkau lindungi. Engkau wahai Rabb kami adalah Maha Mulia dan Maha Tinggi.” (HR Thabrani 3/123)

Monday, 12 January 2009

A Day Of Being Thwarted

Sometimes you do get a day of Black Monday where nothing seems to go your way, doesn't it. Well today was a day that held a lot of disappointments that started when I wanted to change the name of beneficiaries of my EPF scheme, so I thought since I had some time before a series of meeting in the afternoon, I would go to the EPF building in Jalan Raja Laut and purposely walk from the Masjid Jamek station to the building so that I can visit some food haunts along the way that has been unvisited for too long. Well on the way to the EPF was the first in my series of disappointments of the day, as my favourite shawarma stall at the old Kamdar along Jalan TAR do not only seemed closed for the day, but closed down. To me this stall is the best and most authentic shawarma stall in the country, serving genuine shawarma and maintaining the food as one even before the dish was corrupted to a 'kebab' by everybody else. I really hope that the stall is only closed for the day and it was just my bad luck to come on the wrong day, and not the latter as this would be a great disappointment. Need to make a return visit real soon to ascertain the truth.

Anyway the string of event of being thwarted continued at the EPF office where instead of the simple queuing and filling the form at the counter in the pre-electronic age(ten years ago methinks), now it seems that not only you have to queue to get the form, you then have fill the form and prepare supporting documents like a copy of your IC before queuing up again to get a number after the reception is satisfied that you have filled the form correctly. My how going electronic has increased productivity as it now makes me work more to do such a simple beneficiary change, and since I only allocated a short time to be there as I thought that the system was still so simple, I decided to come again another day to do the job. And the irony is that EPF themselves are always campaigning for their members to update the beneficiary list in order to safeguard their interest, but if the process is this time-consuming I am not surprised that nobody would actually do so. EPF, buck up will you and make the process simpler, it is not as if I am actually withdrawing some money from your precious vaults.

Well I then decided to go for my favourite chapatis at Santa's located at the little hole in the wall along Jalan TAR. Well this time I can confirm that the shop is no longer operating there, as the whole building has been brought down. Anybody out there knows where the stall has moved to? This Santa aa and not the other Santa Chapati's around town as to me this is the best version amongst all of them. Anyway this is second chapati stall that I like to patronise that has closed down and moved to locations unknown, and I am running out of places that serves good chapatis to patronise in KLlah. Well since Ibrahimsha was just besides the place and still open and since I have been reading about how they supposedly served Penang Nasi Kandar that somehow till now I have never tried, I decided to give the place a try to see if it was as good as they said. Well it was a typical nasi kandar stall, and they do serve the nasi kandar Penang style with a ready serving of round papadum with you plate of rice. Even though their roasted chicken looked savoury, I decided to give them my personal taste test of beef "masak itam" or in black gravy and accompanied by fried omelet and veges and when I asked for some belacan, they served it with some ladies fingers or okra. This was a plus point as I must say the okra they serve actually met my palate that even though I usually forego the okras at other mamak stalls as they were usually mushy or too raw, here it was perfectly done that I polished them off. Nonetheless overall the dishes were just ordinary to me, good enough to be considered as genuine Penang Nasi Kandar but not as good as the excellent P Ramlee nasi kandar store further down the road. And this would not be a place I revisit anyway as their price is too rich for my taste, as would you believe the plate of rice shown here with a limeade to drink cost me RM10.90. This is one mamak stall that has not followed the call to reduce prices eh.

Well on the way back to the LRT station I stopped at Jai Hind, my second visit since I wanted to confirm why I did not like the place on my first visit but other writers and bloggers seem to give the place such high ratings. Well what else should I test it on again right but to ask for my avourite sweetmeat, laddu. As they had two types of mortichoor laddus that differs in the orange tinge, I asked the guy at the counter what is the difference because I was a bit surprised that the other was already pre-packed. When I asked whether I can mix and match both type, he was non-committal and kept pushing me to buy the pre-packed ones, insisting that they taste the same and cost the same. Wanting to test his sincerety, I agreed to his suggestion but I must say I should have insisted on the fresh ones on display, as these photos would evince the fact that the pre-packed ones are definitely not fresh, too crumbly due to its dryness and definitely not creamy as it should. Well Jai Hind, I stand with what I have felt about you from the first visit, and I will revisit you no more.

Well the day ended with the meetings that I was supposed to have, and luckily this time it was me who thwarted a potential silly mistake by one of the visiting mission members that could have jeopardised all the marketing efforts we had mounted for months before. I though that would have cut the string of bad luck, but still it niggled at me when the chocolates that was given to me as a visit souvenir actually contained alcohol, so tomorrow it will be my kid's kindie teacher that will enjoy the treat. Well at least I still did some good eh, and that is what matters right.