Razak Baginda: No Prima Facie Case

(Click Malaysiakini for comprehensive report)

Blogging live from Shah Alam Court:

I have to make this brief as I am typing from the blackberry’s pathetically small keyboard.

The trial of Altantuya Shaaribu took an interesting turn today when Judge Mohd Zaki ruled that the prosecution team failed to establish a prima facie case against Razak Baginda.

It means that  Razak Baginda won’t be called to enter his defence on the charge of abetting the murder of Altantuya, pressed against him almost two years ago.

Bizarrely, the other accused Shirul and Azilah, have been ordered to enter defence.

Razak was mobbed by the reporters but he refused to make any official statement to the press, just yet. He left the court complex in a chauffeured driven XC 90.

If you ask me, the prosecution team has no other choice but the seek the appeal avenue to save whatever credibility they have left.

Conversation with Luqman

Mommy, Mommy nak pegi mana?” My two-year-old boy asked. His eyes dilated.  His cherub cheeks smeared with traces of butter from his breakfast.

Mommy nak pergi office, Luqman. I am going to my office, okay?” Guilt consumed every fiber of my being every time I have to leave him behind.

Mommy, Mommy pretty sangat!” And he ran off to his grandmother, singing on top of his lung.

Ah, so sweet. I must have saved the world in my previous life to deserve this child.

I know, I know, I know…  it’s cheap to fish compliment from your own child. But it matters not if I am ugly to the rest of the world, so long as I am “pretty” to Luqman.

p/s: I apologise for serious lack of substance in this blog lately, I am trying to finish the write-up on royal charity dinner hosted by KL Foundation to Criminalise War- it has been almost a week, and I only have 2 paragraphs so far!

(Picture above is of Luqman and his cousin sister, Tia)

Growing Up in Kubang Pasu

A Malaysian in Riyadh (aMiR), has been leaving footprints in this humble abode since my earlier blogging days. So much so that a firm friendship was formed – despite the virtual boundaries. His comments, though always pleasant, never fail to stimulate my brain. He writes extremely well too.

Fellow bloggers have tried – in vain – to persuade him to start writing his own blog. Lo and behold, he finally did it! Growing Up in Kubang Pasu, is written in the voice of aMiR’s little boy, now adds flavour to Malaysia’s blogsphere.

Please click here for your reading pleasure.

I have taken the liberty to single him out on my blog link with a header “New Kid On th Blog” and he is now calling out loud to another commentator, Cheang (he uses a pen name of “Hi & Lo” ) to start one too.

Welcome to the family, aMiR. And to Cheang: it’s about time!

Ayat Ayat Cinta

Sudah lewat dua minggu selepas menonton cerita Ayat Ayat Cinta di TV3. Filem yang diadaptasi dari novel Ayat Ayat Cinta karya pena Habiburrahman El Shirazy.

Dua kalimah lekat di kepala, degil tak tersangkal, enggan keluar dari hati:

Cinta dan keinginan untuk memiliki itu tidak sama.” – Maria Girgis

Jodoh itu rahsia Tuhan, Fahri!” – Aisha

I end this post with another quote from my blogging sister, Norzu: “I am just another writer, still trapped within my truth.

Tangga Bradley

12 October 2008
My pathetic garden at home
11:45 p.m.

Quietness reigns: you could almost hear the sound of the wind. I am relatively undone; quite unsure what bothers this old, decrepit heart of mine.

The frangipani, despite my best effort, keeps leaning to the right, threatening menacingly to cross over to the neighbour’s side of the fence. The jasmine insists to grow as it pleased with branches soaring all over the wrong direction. I give up.

Late this evening, the boy quaffed his drink mightily, stopped midway to gulp fresh air and said, “Mommy, Man nak play dengan Bradley, boleh?” I haven’t the faintest idea what this linguistically-challenged two-year-old meant, but I am guessing it must have been one of the characters from Cartoon Network that he is so obsessed with lately, so much so that he retains sole possession of the Astro’s remote control.

Wonder of wonders, the name struck a memory chord in my head. It lingered on my mind right until this moment with the pencil and the badly crumpled moleskine.

I was born and I spent my entire childhood in Kuala Krai, Kelantan. In fact, my early adolescence was spent there, too, until the day I packed my bag to live a chapter of my life in a boarding school, some 200 miles from home.

Kuala Krai, by myriad of definitions, is a sleepy hollow. Descriptions of the town and my life here, are purely based on my rusty recollection, circa the eighties.

The town was made up of rows of shop houses; old train station with an adjacent management building – where my late father used to work; on old bungalow which used to serve as Post Office; a rather large police station and its staff quarters; depleted public library which stocked outdated books and magazines; a district hospital on top of a small hill across the man-made lake where I was born; a quaint market with poor hygiene.

I used to cycle with all my might across the narrow, tarmac roads of this sleepy hollow, popping my head once in a while at the wooden windowsill of Ayah’s office. Ayah would pretend of having the shock of his life upon seeing the sight of my sweaty face and endearingly asked, “Why are you cycling like a boy? Did you mother know you came this far?” Of course, the rebellious little me lied through her teeth and said ‘no’ to both questions.

Never once, during my cycling regime, I did not stop at a sacred spot: Tangga Bradley (the Bradley Stairs).

History christened the birth of Tangga Bradley in 1927 – which was subsequently named after the then Kuala Krai’s administrator, Sir Bradley – as a place to measure the water level of Sungai Kelantan during the monsoon season. Tangga Bradley also serves at  mini jetty for the locals around the embankment of the river to unload their agricultural produce to be sold at the market.

Somehow, one of the hottest bloggers at the moment, Tukar Tiub, gives a different purpose to Tangga Bradley: it had been used as a spot to sight the Syawal moon to determine the arrival of Eid Mubarak. The said blogger also laments that the tradition is now dead and forgotten; to which he ends his post rather disturbingly with, “bangsa tanpa tradisi tidak melahirkan tamadun.” I digress.

I would stare at the flowing Kelantan river for hours on end. Sometimes, I brought a book, counted seventeen steps down, sat at the far left end corner of the step underneath a tree shade and read my book to the exclusion of others until the sky was fused with rays of sunset.

I could see, from a distance, life was going full speed at the floating raft house (rumah rakit) with pots and pants clacking, clothes flying with the river breeze on the clothesline and children chasing each other from raft to raft.

At Tangga Bradley, I first found the serenity of loneliness. I formed an intimate bond with my soul that I cherished to this day; the same way I adore this pathetic garden of mine.

But life – and as it is unavoidably so – swayed my course away from Tangga Bradley. I still think about the place fondly and, if time permits, I would love to return to the seventeenth step of the sacred place: preferably alone.

Goodnight.

*Image of Tangga Bradley stolen from here*

The Twilight of Abdullah’s Reign

(Update: Published in Malaysiakini on 13 Oct 2008. Click here for the online version)

Tun Dr. Mahathir’s legendary ability to lead needs no introduction at all. His feat in developing Malaysia makes even Julius Ceasar’s pale in comparison. However, just like other great leaders the world has ever cradled, many are not blinded to his misjudgment in ruling the country for more than two decades – as it is unavoidable for he is only human.

Passing the baton of the premiership to Abdullah was one of his grave mistakes.

When Tun handed over the premiership to Abdullah in 2003, the rest of the Cabinet nodded in approval, without an iota of doubt vis-à-vis Tun’s decision-making ability. It did not occur to them, back then, Abdullah would send BN deeper into misery with his indecisiveness and unfulfilled reforms.

Abdullah, at the shift of the premiership, shined like a beacon of hope towards a more democratically progressive Malaysia, post Tun’s era. Five years later, his poignant picture in the media, stating “work with me, not for me” reduced to nothing but a false sense of hope to the nation.

Abdullah is single-handedly responsible to the lack of economic progress in the country as opposed to Tun’s era. His pledge to nip corruption in the bud remains undone as he packs his bag to leave office in March 2009. The same fate falls on Abdullah’s lackluster economic corridors.

The mighty Barisan Nasional spearheaded by Abdullah – and first time after the Independence in 1957 – was badly trounced upon in 2008 general election losing five states and its parliament’s two-third majority. Facing the furor invoked by Pakatan Rakyat, led by Anwar Ibrahim, BN’s performance after the election has been less than desirable.

Recently, BN’s ship sank deeper when Abdullah decided to invoked the draconian Internal Security Act against Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Teresa Kok and a Sin Chew journalist, ironically, just a day after the government decided to release the suspension on ‘Malaysia Today’ – Raja Petra’s controversial web portal, read by millions of Malaysians.

Many akin the recent ISA spat to Operasi Lalang in 1987 when opposition leaders and non-governmental body’s representatives were arrested, major dailies were suspended in a concentrated effort to nub protest against Tun after he renounced the legality of UMNO and subsequently formed UMNO baru, which he helmed without further resistance until his self-imposed retirement.

But what we must not forget: no journalist was arrested or “questioned” during Operasi Lalang.

Raja Petra and Teresa Kok were held for supposedly being a ‘national threat’ to the country, toeing among others, on that sacred racial line which divides the multiracial Malaysia. While Teresa was being released after a short detention, Raja Petra was sent off to Kamunting to serve a two year detention sentence without being accorded a fair trial or the right to defend himself.

For decades, we have been forewarned to steer clear from the sensitive racial issues for fear of resurrecting the ghost of May 13, 1969. The subliminal message to stay united beyond the color of our skin have been drummed into our ears via poorly-composed ‘muhibbah’ songs and the very ideology of ‘perpaduan’ blasted on the government-owned media throughout the eighties and early nineties.

We were almost certain that if we dare question the difference we have and the government we elected, May 13 would revisit the nation.

However, Malaysia has proved herself to be an adult nation, capabale of making her independent choice, when days and weeks ahead of the most memorable general election saw nothing but normalcy returned in our lives. The voice of people never got any louder.

While Abdullah is ready – or rather shoved forward to be ready – to pass the baton to Najib, many more UMNO stalwarts are now vying for the deputy-president’s chair, a seat of which falls vacant as Abdullah decided not to contest in UMNO’s party election in December, paving way for Najib to sit at the helm of UMNO should he wins the presidential post in the same party election. The vacancy will ensure a bitter fight within UMNO: a society notoriously known for its stiff rule of hierarchy and money-politics.

Leading a country which upheld tradition and respect for the elderly, Abdullah’s most blatant faux pas was ignoring the retired lion in Malaysia’s political landscape, Tun Dr. Mahathir. If Abdullah heeds Tun’s concern and criticism – the way Singaporeans still listen to their senior minister, Lee Kuan Yew – Abdullah would have left UMNO on a better platform.

Leaders must remember that Malaysians have grown with time; their political opinion is no exception.

While is it unfair to gauge Abdullah’s performance in such a short tenure, he undoubtedly, goes down in history as a pleasant Prime Minister but forced to leave office to shoulder responsibility for BN’s dismal performance in 2008 election.

UMNO must now change or perish.

There is something about Hyatt

Hyatt Kuantan is magnificent. The quaint, old hotel sits by the face of Telok Cempedak since time in memorial. Eons ago, I left for Hyatt Kuantan without a moleskine and a pencil in my bag: regret looms this scribe until this day for not romancing Hyatt in words.

Lately, I think about nothing else but to return to that safe heaven, the hotel always has in its bosom; where rays of the sun become hues of colours at the end of the day: red, green, grey and magenta fused the sky majestically at sunset.

I could almost hear the concierge boy, Sufian, surreptitiously uttering, “Welcome back, Ms. Elviza”. Ten years ago, when I first stepped into Hyatt Kuantan, I was still a single woman (read: young and reckless). Even until today, Sufian address me still with a respectful, pleasant-sounding “Miss Elviza”.

Nothing moves in Hyatt Kuantan.

My worldly hurry comes to a complete halt every time I cast a glance at the dark blue water of the South China Sea.

Time to place that long overdue phone call to the hotel’s reservation desk .