Bule-Pembantu debate moves into mainstream media

The posting that sparked fierce and passionate debate on how some Western men seem to go for plebian and slutty-looking Asian girlfriends in this and several blogs has gone mainstream with the Jakarta Post carrying Thang Nguyen’s article in its Oped pages on 30 October.

Yu Phuc, whom Unspun suspects of being some kind of a publicist for Thang, has posted the full article in the comment section of Unspun’s earlier posting.

Unspun wonders how Thang’s online admirers and detractors will carry on the debate in the mainstream media.

Aussies eschew cleric’s “women-are-meat” statement

The big issue when Unspun was Down Under last week was the controversy stirred up by Australia’s top Muslim cleric Sheikh Taj el-Din-al-Hilali who said in a sermon that women who did not wear the jilbab attracted sexual assault.

His exact words:

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?” Sheikh Hilali is quoted as asking during the sermon.

The uncovered meat is the problem, he went on to say.

“If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab [headscarf], no problem would have occurred,” he added.

The statement aroused anger and indignation among many Australians, even women Muslim Australians. One Muslim woman leader was quoted on TVas saying that the comment was unacceptable, his subsequent half apology was unacceptable and the Sheikh should step down. But she also added thatthe Muslim women could not get rid of him because the Mosque Association had decided that while the Sheikh should shut up for the next few months until the controversy died down, he should nonetheless be allowed to keep his position.

What sort of a structure do the Australian Muslims have where a cleric can shoot off his mouth yet be able to retain his position? What sort of image of Islam would this give to the non-Islamic world who already nurture the impression, wrong thoug it is, that Islamic organizations are mysogynistic?

Perth reflections


Unspun managed to hightail it off to Perth for the Idul Fitri break. The last time Unspun was there was four or five years ago.

Perth is still a small, cozy city but there is a new buss to it. The economy is on the move, there is much building activity, lots of jobs to be found and its has reportedly become the second most expensive Australian city to live in, after Sydney. It is a beautiful city though, especiallywhen viewed from the 13th floor of an apartment in the Esplanade in South Perth, just across the Swan River from the city center (Above photo – and thank you Dr and Mrs Wong for allowing Unspun and frinds to use your wonderful apartment).
Unspun likes to travel because all sorts of questions pop up in one’s head as you see things out of the ordinary context, for example:

  1. Why is it that the half cups of water that Garuda provides, if sourced in Indonesia, have covers that are impossible to peel open? Doesn’t anyone select these cups according to user friendliness?
  2. Why can there be so much variety and quality choices at the supermarkets in a small city like Perth when you can’t have it in a big city like Jakarta?
  3. How is it that the Aussies can keep their cities clean, their roads paved and litter free when you can’t even get to do one of those in Jakarta?
  4. Why is town planning and the provision of parks possible in Perth and impossible in Jakarta?
  5. Why is the lighting in the Jakarta airport seemingly so gloomy and depressing? Did they not pay lighting consultants to do the job?
  6. Where does all the money for fiscal go to? Come to think of it what’s SBY doing about it two years after being in office?
  7. Why do residents in Indonesia have to fill in a departure card and retain the entry card when overseas? The whole world does it the other way around.

Crying in the wind

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad issued this statement on 27 October 2006 because he was afraid his words woudl be spun by his successor Badawi’s “hatchetmen.”

From what I know of Malaysian politics – the repression and the paranoid need to control the flow of information critical of the government – all that Mahathir says is probably true.

But the message is ineffective coming from Mahathir because he has little credibility left. When he was in power he was even more Machiavellian and repressive than Badawi. Now he is sore because what goes around comes around.

His support is now confined to the Malaysians who have an axe to grind against badawi and his so called “hatchetmen” Kalimullah Hassan and Brendan Periera. This does not means that there is legitimate criticism by others against Badawi and his administration though.

Mahathir’s statement in full is below, as carried in Malaysiakini: Continue reading “Crying in the wind”

Monte spins again!

You got to love the man’s chutzpah. Waiting to pounce on me in my mailbox as Unspun returned from the Idul Fitri break was an e-mail from the irrepresible Monte Monfore. Monte, as readers of this blog will know through previous postings (here, here, and here), is a man of some swimming talent that is eclipsed by his talent for self promotion. His skills are such that he’s able to persuade any gullible do-gooder organization to apparently sponsor him for a swim here, there or anywhere.

He’s also not above the occassional spin, as in his handout photo caption of his swim in Bali’s Lake Batur, where Monte portrayed himself as  having conquered “high winds and the frigid mountain water”. High winds?  Frigid mountain water? In Bali? And what’s Monte’s antics got to do with the Olympics? Oh Pluleze…

Here’s Monte’s note to me, who has suddenly become a friend:

Hello friends,

I’ve been living in Bali more than two years and have been very busy swimming.  If you Google: Monte Monfore, you can read much about me and see few short swim videos online.

Please click on these addresses below to see two recent swim photos:



If you click below the photos on „Email to a Friend‰ you can send it to about 10 others at once.  Would you please consider doing this, as it will help move my photo to the top of the Yahoo list?

Event footage was sent worldwide by Reuters and AP.

I hope everyone is happy and well.

Thanks very much,


P. Ramlee and the NEP

P. Ramlee might point out that a lot of people might want to portray the article below as a racial issue but it is not. really. It’s about one superclass of people, who happen to be Malays and recipients of largese, screwing the whole country.

Read the Malaysiakini article (below) why a strong proponent of Malsysia’s New Economic Policy now says it will destroy the Malays:

NEP Will Destroy the Malays
By Bede Hong and Muhammad Razif
October 2, 2006 1:17PM

Since joining Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as its treasurer in July, Khalid Ibrahim has called for the abolishment of the New Economic Policy (NEP) – an affirmative action scheme launched in 1971 to uplift the lot of poor Malays.

The call is surprising as it comes from a person once described as an ‘industry captain’.

Khalid, 60, is the former chief executive of Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd and former group chief executive of government-linked plantations company Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB). He stepped down from Guthrie in 2003. He also set up an asset-management and counsulting firm for foreign clients.

After spending nearly two decades in fund management, most recently with Malaysia’s National Equities Board (PNB), Khalid has made an about turn.

In part one of this two-part interview, Khalid tells malaysiakini about the need for the government to cut down on its operations costs, describes the NEP as ‘the devil’ and laments the lack of successful bumiputera entrepreneurs.

Malaysiakini: What do you think of the economy?

Khalid: With the likelihood of a world economic slowdown, coupled with the possibility of another rise in oil prices, which is quite the likelihood, I think the government needs to be concerned with reducing its operations costs. It’s more important than being cautious with spending. Continue reading “P. Ramlee and the NEP”

P. Ramlee and the Comfortable Malay Elite

What would P. Ramlee think about this article headlined A Comfortable Malay Elite, written by Philip Bowring in the International Herald Tribune today?

HONG KONG Malaysia’s image as an exemplary pluralist Muslim nation is looking increasingly suspect. For Muslims, especially, there should be growing unease at the identification of religion with a Malay racial-enhancement program.

Recently, Malaysia’s business think tank, the Asian Strategy and Research Institute, or ASLI, released research that found Malay corporate ownership could now be vastly greater than the official 19 percent figure – and more than enough to justify ending 30 years of policy aimed at raising the ownership share of the indigenous population, mostly Malays, to 30 percent.

But rather than lead to a public- policy debate, the paper led to an immediate clampdown by a Malay elite reluctant to see a public discussion of the privileges it enjoys. ASLI’s president, Mirzan Mahathir, condemned the document and it was immediately withdrawn from circulation. Mirzan is a son of former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. The current prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, warned against making “trouble” by questioning affirmative action.


The stifled debate is not a quibble over numbers but over the future of affirmative action for Malays, who constitute the majority of the population but traditionally owned a minority of the wealth. It goes to the heart of politics in a country where politics is based on race. Continue reading “P. Ramlee and the Comfortable Malay Elite”

Chutzpah and the Bali swimmer

You got to hand it to Monte M. He has some lessons to teach large corporations in the art of Spinning, that is: chutzpah will get you far in a world where people are willing to trust anyone who says they are out to do good.

As far as Unspun knows, he’s some Californian on an extended vacation in Bali. Apparently he’s not a bad swimmer. But he’s a better Spin Doctor as he’s got that combination of thick skin, chutzpah and persistence that many a PR hack would do well to study.

Back in May, the irrepressible Monte hit on a plan to style himself as a “world record ocean swimmer” out to set a new world mark swimming to fight child hunger. He somehow persuaded the UN, as part of the World Food Programme’s international Walk the World event to sponsor a swim of what he termed the dangerous Bali Strait.

How he managed to convince the UN that SWIMMING could qualify a WALK the World event is beyond me. But his accomplishments do not end there. Monte even got seasoned ournalists of theJakarta Foreign Correspondents Club to give him a ringing endorsement as chrinicled by Unspun back then:

Undoubtedly many of you have been busy writing about the bird flu, East Timor, and now the earthquake. Here’s an uplifting story from Bali, which you may be interested in…

The man is also not bereft of showmanship, as his e-mail to journalists shows:

Watch a dramatic 4-minute video of Monte’s first crossing from Bali to Java in the early morning darkness with a florescent light stick attached to his swimsuit

Fortunately there were no details of where exactly Monte placed his florescent light stick but that is not the point. The point behind why Unspun is recounting this story is that Unspun‘s spies in the journalistic world have reported that the indefatiguable Monte is now again on the move with another inspired idea.

Will the Birkenstock and socks wearing crowd at the UN sponsor Monte on another relentless battle against hunger or other worthwhile causes?

Will the JFCC again send out an e-mail to its members with a ringing endorsement of Monte’s spin?

We’ll just have to wait and see…

P. Ramlee and the Malaysian Malay

Was in Singapore the past two days and between bouts of client-related wor, zoned out on a bit of TV. The hotel has a Malay channel and they were showing an old P. Ramlee movie.

I love those P. Ramlee movies since I was a kid. To me they portrayed a very likeable race of people who were fun-loving, had a greak sense of humor, was sometimes the prankster. The women protaginsts were often smart, gentle and stylish, in those form fitting kebayas.

To me the P. Ramlee movies represented an innocent age where the Malay was the “Gentlemen of Asia.” It was an age where the Malay could stand tall and not have to shout to be heard, not to bluster to be noticed.

Then I read the newspapers and I wonder if it was all some mental construct of my childhood, that my perception of the Malay was, after all, a fantasy.

The news item was about this idiot in the Takaful Malaysia insurance company who, as the company’s head of the Islamic Law Department, issued an e-mail tohis Muslim colleagues, forbidding them from extending traditional greetings to their Hindu colleagues celebrating Diwali


The reason? The Hindus, said the learned counsel, were idol worshippers and this was frowned on by Islam. Ergo, Muslims should not wish them happy Diwali.

If that was not amazing enough, the more astounding fact is that the company managed to override the learned counself’s instructions, but could not find enough cojones to fire him. Now Hindu groups are protesting, asking for his dismissal.

There are other cases of racial strife in Malaysia, some relating to apostasy and I find myself wondering again where did it all go wrong and my perception of the Malay of the P. Ramlee days turn into the perception of the Malay today with a BIG CHIP on his shoulder, akin to the Malaysian Malay, as described by Dr Syed Alwi in the Malaysian news website Malaysia Today below:

Dear Editor,

As you know, I am an avid watcher of Malaysian affairs. I must confess that lately, Malaysia appears to be failing. Not a day passes by without more events that clearly highlight Malaysia’s race-religion fault-line. If things
keep going this way, I fear for Malaysia’s future.

Today, schools in Singapore celebrate Racial Harmony Day. I can visibly see the joy in the children’s faces as they wear their ethnic costumes and have fun together at school. But in Malaysia – even the right to choose a religion has become a sensitive, national issue. No doubt, there are many in Malaysia who hate my liberal views on Islam, family included. But I will say what I must say openly. I have come to the conclusion that Malaysia cannot progress any further without first addressing fundamental questions regarding its identity and soul.

I remember the days when we can laugh at Lat’s cartoons on everyday Malaysian life. But sadly, the Islamic tide has polarised Malaysians. Some
people ask why I should bother about Malaysian affairs since I am a Singaporean. May I remind Malaysians that it was Tan Siew Sin who once said that Singapore and Malaysia are Siamese Twins. Should Malaysia go down – it would hurt the region tremendously. Especially Singapore.

Where do you think Malay apostates would head for if Lina Joy loses her case? Singapore of course! I find the Malaysian Malay to be very under-exposed. For them, it’s all Islam and the NEP and everything under the sun would sort itself out. I am sorry to say this – but Islam and the NEP
may be the cause of the undoing of the Malaysian Malay.

There is nothing wrong with religion or affirmative action. But, like
everything else in life, they must be taken in moderation and with a pinch
of salt. A little doubt is good. Unfortunately in Malaysia, emotions over Islam have overcome reason. What we see today is the result of the NEP and
Islamisation policies of the past thirty years or so.

No one owes Malaysian Malays a living. Let me assure you that should Malaysia fail – the Malaysian Malay will suffer enormously. And rightly so.
After all – they have been pampered with all sorts of goodies over the years. They cannot now expect more goodies. Perhaps the day of reckoning for them, is near. Whatever it is, Malaysia had better wake up to the realities around her. The globalised world of the 21st century has no NEP to offer the
Malaysian Malay. And humans cannot live by religion alone.

The Browning of Singapura

In the Lion City for some business and guess what? The businessmen and professionals here are all talking about Hossan leong, aka Mr Brown’s video We live in Singapura. on Youtube. Its actually quaite funny and you don’t get Singaporeans taking the piss out of Singapore and everyone else, including the MM and Mahathir everyday, at least not in Singapore.

And yes, the haze here is bad.