Saturday, March 31, 2007

Iran going too far..ehh?

Online comment: Heading for war with Iran?
By Simon Heffer

I start to wonder whether it might not be time for us to get as nasty with other countries as they do with us.

As we wait anxiously to see what will happen to our 15 hostages - for that is what they are - in Teheran, we should feel undiluted rage at the behaviour of other countries and institutions towards us.

Mind you, when those third parties witness the drivelling weakness of the Foreign Office over the last week, and in particular the pathetic show put up by our Foreign Secretary - who must surely be just about the worst in our history - who can blame them?

There is no doubt the 15 were in international waters when captured, or that they were undertaking a United Nations mission in pursuit of upholding UN resolutions. Yet the best the UN itself can do is pass a weak-kneed resolution describing its “grave concern”, rather than a tougher one calling upon all nations to “deplore” Iran’s behaviour.

This is all the fault of Russia, to whom Mr Blair routinely cosies up, and whom the civilised world invites to its annual G8 summit meetings. Russia seems to think it isn’t worth “deploring” the kidnap of our sailors, so we had better start to show Russia what we think of it: by uninviting it from the G8 this year, and every year until it learns some manners.

When not busy ordering the murders of his opponents, Vladimir Putin seems to enjoy hobnobbing with the leaders of civilised countries, so such a sanction would hurt.

We don’t have the means to engage in gunboat diplomacy with Iran, and any special forces operation would be fraught with risks both for the hostages and their rescuers.

For the moment, ever-stricter sanctions on Iran seems the only answer. America is resolute about this. So too, oddly, is the world’s greatest sanction-busting nation, France. So the scope for tightening the economic ratchet on Iran, and the means to do so, look healthy.

However, we should be under no illusions about the effectiveness of such weapons.

Saddam Hussein, after all, was put under sanctions for years. Real hardship was caused to his people, but almost none at all to him and his ruling clique.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran has already threatened Britain about our involvement of “third parties” - that is, the UN - in the present dispute, showing his utter contempt for that organisation.

He would treat sanctions with similar disdain, happily cutting off the noses of his own people to spite their faces. And all the time, the threat he and his inherent instability pose to us all would never cease growing.

Whatever the immediate outcome of this crisis, Britain has some hard decisions to make. Is it worthwhile, any longer, to work through the United Nations?

So long as a morally warped nation like Putin’s Russia calls the shots in the Security Council, no.

We can make debating points about how odd it is that Putin deplores Islamic nutters when they attack his forces but is relaxed about them attacking ours, but in the end there is no point in bothering.

The UN showed itself to be weak with Saddam Hussein. It is no better now.

If we are going to continue to try to be a player in the Middle East, then we have to throw in our lot with the Americans, for no-one else makes the blindest bit of difference there.

The capricious, and indeed downright wicked, behaviour of the Iranians towards our sailors confirms one other thing: that the civilised world cannot let the Ahmadinejad regime develop nuclear weapons.

It is not just his oft-repeated enthusiasm for wiping Israel off the face of the earth that should worry us: it is what this madman might decide he wants to do to anyone else within range.

This is no time for our clueless Government to be mothballing the Navy and cutting down the other services. For, at some stage, Iran’s lethal contempt for the rule of international law is going to mean war.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Map proves Portuguese discovered Australia

portuguese_discover_aussie.jpg SYDNEY (Reuters) - A 16th century maritime map in a Los Angeles library vault proves that Portuguese adventurers, not British or Dutch, were the first Europeans to discover Australia, says a new book which details the secret discovery of Australia.

The book "Beyond Capricorn" says the map, which accurately marks geographical sites along Australia's east coast in Portuguese, proves that Portuguese seafarer Christopher de Mendonca lead a fleet of four ships into Botany Bay in 1522 -- almost 250 years before Britain's Captain James Cook.

Australian author Peter Trickett said that when he enlarged the small map he could recognize all the headlands and bays in Botany Bay in Sydney -- the site where Cook claimed Australia for Britain in 1770.

"It was even so accurate that I found I could draw in the modern airport runways, to scale in the right place, without any problem at all," Trickett told Reuters on Wednesday.

Trickett said he stumbled across a copy of the map while browsing through a Canberra book shop eight years ago.

He said the shop had a reproduction of the Vallard Atlas, a collection of 15 hand drawn maps completed no later than 1545 in France. The maps represented the known world at the time.

Two of the maps called "Terra Java" had a striking similarity to Australia's east coast except at one point the coastline jutted out at right angles for 1,500 km (932 miles).

"There was something familiar about them but they were not quite right -- that was the puzzle. How did they come to have all these Portuguese place names?," Trickett said.

Trickett believed the cartographers who drew the Vallard maps had wrongly aligned two Portuguese charts they were copying from.

It is commonly accepted that the French cartographers used maps and "portolan" charts acquired illegally from Portugal and Portuguese vessels that had been captured, Trickett said.

"The original portolan maps would have been drawn on animal hide parchments, usually sheep or goat skin, of limited size," he explained. "For a coastline the length of eastern Australia, some 3,500 kms, they would have been 3 to 4 charts."

"The Vallard cartographer has put these individual charts together like a jigsaw puzzle. Without clear compass markings its possible to join the southern chart in two different ways. My theory is it had been wrongly joined."

Using a computer Trickett rotated the southern part of the Vallard map 90 degrees to produce a map which accurately depicts Australia's east coast.

"They provided stunning proof that Portuguese ships made these daring voyages of discovery in the early 1520s, just a few years after they had sailed north of Australia to reach the Spice Islands -- the Moluccas. This was a century before the Dutch and 250 years before Captain Cook," he said.

Trickett believes the original charts were made by Mendonca who set sail from the Portuguese base at Malacca with four ships on a secret mission to discover Marco Polo's "Island of Gold" south of Java.

If Trickett is right, Mendonca's map shows he sailed past Fraser Island off Australia's northeast coast, into Botany Bay in Sydney, and south to Kangaroo Island off southern Australia, before returning to Malacca via New Zealand's north island.

Mendonca's discovery was kept secret to prevent other European powers reaching the new land, said Trickett, who believes his theory is supported by discoveries of 16th century Portuguese artifacts on the Australian and New Zealand coasts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

" I didnt know he was corrupt..." ( yeah right! )

Mahathir on corruption and other issues;

“I didn’t know he was corrupt” - that was former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s response when asked as to why he appointed Zulkipli Mat Noor as the Anti-Corruption Agency chief in 2001.

“They never told me that he was corrupt,” he said.

Mahathir said from the reports given to him, he was under the impression that Zulkipli was clean and the right person to helm the agency.

Watch the interview:

Kampung Medan revisited

On March 8, 2001 the tranquility of the Kampung Medan and adjacent areas erupted into racial clashes between Malays and Indians which saw six dead and 200 people injured.

The incident sent shockwaves around the country as it bore the hallmarks of the May 13 1969 racial riots and demonstrated the fragility of race relations.

Questions still remain: Who were the perpetrators? With so many people dead and injured from the violence, why hasn't anyone been charged? took a drive to the area and asked residents about the incident, their experiences and the state of race relations in the Kampung Medan and Kampung Dato Harun areas.

More at

Tengku Adnan is cornered on the blogger issue

Tourism minister Tengku Adnan Mansor attempts to clear the air on his blogger comments that has irked bloggers around the country.

He was responding to Indonesian blogger and TV journalist Nila Tanzil who laid out a list of complaints levelled at the tourism ministry during her 'junket' here last year.

Annoyed by her comments, he lashed out at bloggers, claiming: “Bloggers are liars. They use all sort of ways to cheat others. From what I know, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women."

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Police get tough on protesters !

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Five people were arrested recently for taking part in an anti-toll hike protest outside the Summit USJ shopping mall in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

The arrest took place when demonstrators regrouped after heeding an earlier call by protest organisers to disperse after repeated police warnings.

A Letter that got a response!

"Not right for other religions to use "Allah"

And here it is posted at

Reading the letters here on the usage of the word of ‘Allah’, I wish to put forward my comments.( please be reminded..that I dont agree with this person's viewpoint! )

The word ‘Allah’ derives from Arabic word ‘Ilah’. ‘Ilah’ in Arabic means God. But to simply describe ‘Ilah’ would mean that it can refer any god ie, indefinite. As such, in Arabic it is ‘Al’ is added which means ‘The’ in Arabic.

But ‘The God’ is still not accurate because it could mean one or a group. Thus another ‘Al’ was included to make it Al-Al-Ilah, and the short form later become ‘Allah’.

When the word ‘Allah’ is mentioned it means He is the only God. There is no god but Him. Other than Allah, all are creations. This is the fundamental of Islam. Whoever says and believe in these words, they are Muslims.

Allah describes Himself in the Holy Quran (Surah Al-Ikhlas, 112) as:

112:1 Say: He is Allah, the One and Only

112:2 Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

112:3 He begets not, nor is He begotten;

112:4 And there is none like unto Him.

From the above explanation, it is not right for other religions to use the word ‘Allah’ because it completely contradicts the meaning of the word of ‘Allah’. People of other religions do not believe and worship Allah and they associate others with Allah. If other religions want to use the word ‘Allah’, it will deceive and confuse both Muslims and the non-Muslims alike.

And this is one of the responses it got - which I happen to agree with!:

I wish to comment on the letter Not right for other religions to use Allah by Mohammad. The issue of ‘confusion’ is a mere excuse. How can a follower get confused about the God he alleges to worship?

From what the writer describes, I understand that ‘Allah’ is derived from Arabic. However, I believe that in every language there is a word or term for ‘God’. Whether it refers to the God of the Muslims or to the God of the other faiths, one thing is certain - they all refer to a supreme and divine being. As such, there is no copyright on ‘Allah’ other than it being the Arabic word to describe the God of the Arabs.

Coming back to the ruse about creating confusion, then there must exist millions of thoroughly confused Indonesians who share the name ‘Allah’ between the Christians and Muslims there. The difference between those in Indonesia and Malaysia is that fundamentally, the Indonesians are confident and secure in their belief.

Of greater cause for alarm and disquiet is the increasing number of people being influenced by such views of the writer above. The roots to such views lie in the equally absurd situation our education system has been in the last 35 years. Children are now taught from very young more about their differences than their commonality and humanity.

A hybrid apartheid has come about with our largely Muslim pupils not being able to mingle with their non-Muslim counterparts as they tend to be transferred to boarding schools and junior Mara colleges by the time they reach their teens.

The institutions that are open to the other races are not seen as palatable to these parents (for providing the type of exposure and surroundings they desire for their children). From such colleges, they proceed to matriculation courses before entering universities locally which are increasingly being avoided by the others who can afford it.

When students such as those described above join the workforce - in particular the civil service - their most formative and 'impressionable' years have seen little of them living outside their community. Hence we have such views as expounded by the writer displayed in all their clarity

Where to from here, Malaysia?

Mahathir vs. Abdullah

Author: Various
Publisher: Kinibooks
Year: 2007
Number of page: 212

The book is a compilation of articles that try to cut through the sandiwara (playacting) of the vicious war of words, and see what really drove TDM to launch such a merciless attack on his handpicked successor, as well as analyze the factors influencing each turn this scandal-ridden battle took. It also includes letters from Malaysiakini readers - representing a truly wide spectrum of opinion, critical thought, and passionate support for both parties. The book features a number of high-profile contributors, including Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, P. Gunasegaram, Tian Chua, Collin Abraham, M Bakri Musa, Steven Gan, P Ramasamy, James Wong, Kim Quek, Charles Hector, Khoo Kay Peng, and many more.