Dec 31, 2004

Bush 'Undermining UN with Aid Coalition'

United States President George Bush was tonight accused of trying to undermine the United Nations by setting up a rival coalition to coordinate relief following the Asian tsunami disaster.

The president has announced that the US, Japan, India and Australia would coordinate the world’s response.

But former International Development Secretary Clare Short said that role should be left to the UN.

“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”


ROLFLMFAO - OMG This made me laugh

No New Years Celebration

Malaysia has scrapped all plans for any new year celebrations.

As a mark of respect, there will be no fireworks or celebrations tonight to usher the New Year.

Instead the government has asked all people to reflect on this terrible tragedy and pray for the victims and their families.

more here...

Festivities cancelled as mark of respect


Dec 29, 2004

NEW DELHI: An enormous anthropological disaster is in the making. The killer tsunami is feared to have wiped out entire tribes — already threatened by their precariously small numbers — perhaps rendering them extinct and snapping the slender tie with a lost generation.

Officials involved in rescue operations are pessimistic, but still keeping their fingers crossed for the Sentinelese and Nicobarese, the two tribes seen as bearing the brunt of the killer wave.

The bigger fear is for the Sentinelese, anthropologically the most important tribe, living on the flat North Sentinel Island. Putting their population at about 100, officials say no body count is possible as the tribe had remained isolated. The Nicobarese, numbering about 25,000, are also feared to have suffered major losses, if not near -extinction. Clustered in 12 villages along the coast of Car Nicobar, the worst affected, it is feared nearly half of them could have been engulfed by the giant wave.

Then there are the Chowra and Teresa islands, mostly inhabited by the Nicobarese. Chowra has reported 38 deaths from a total population of 1,500. Here, too, the picture is hazy. The Onges, living on the Little Andaman island, are expected to fare a little better. So far, 14 deaths have been reported from the island. Some of these would be Onges. To begin with, they just number a 100.

The Shompens, Great Andamanese and Jarawas are expected to have fared better as they live on comparatively higher grounds. But their small number could be working against them.

and the source...

Both Facinating and Sad.

UPDATE - 5 Jan 2005 -

Looks like some of the indigenous people survived.

Approaching the Epicenter

If you have ever seen the movie "The Andromeda Strain" then you have an idea of what it is like trying to reach Banda Aceh. Banda Aceh is the provincial capital and largest city in Aceh, Indonesia with a population of 150,000 and one of the closest cities to to the epicenter.

Since the earthquake I have tried to reach anyone in Banda Aceh to no avail. There is no phone service by either cellular or land lines anymore. I spent the last few days trying to contact the Kuala Tripa Hotel and nothing. I fear that it no longer exists.

Surveillance from flights over the town have indicated that it has been “wiped out”.

Pitch black and dead bodies littering the roads. No one dare approaches the town at night. But then again, Jakarta is taking their time.

The sun is just now rising over here now, it is morning and the bulk of relief crews should be arriving today including I believe a mission from Malaysia.

More on the the Frantic Tsunami Warnings that No One Heard

"We tried to do what we could," McCreery said. "We don't have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world."

And yet you have a computer in front of you that has access to millions of people around the globe in the blink of an eye. The official and traditional methods though entail going through the essential bureaucratic red tape that Mr. McCreery alludes to in the above linked article. There are reasons for this though, reasons to control the free flow of information which we won't get into now.

Now don't get me wrong, we are not looking to lay blame on anyone, but we are asking the following question:

With only hours to spare are the traditional methods of alerting people to the possibilty of an imminent global catastrophe such as this sufficient?

Why not release the information directly to the public?

To be honest, I have caught a lot of flack for this. For simply suggesting that a posting on the internet would have been a step in the right direction and might have helped to save many lives. The main arguement seems to be that "it would not have helped and so why bother" or that "alerting people to the danger might have caused panic and led to more lives lost".

Many of you reading this knew about the earthquake before the main-stream media reported it and you knew about the tsunamis before the main-stream media reported that as well. This is the power of the internet. Before Mr. McCreery had time to pick up his telephone, people from Miami to Seattle to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia knew about the earthquake and were already asking what the possibilty of a tsunami was.

I know Phuket, Thailand very well. I travel there several times a year and have many friends there. With two hours to spare, I wish I knew that there was a possibilty of a tsunami hitting there. I wish I had the chance to call someone and let them know.


Dec 28, 2004

More Photos from Phuket

High Resolution Phuket Tsunami Photos

Thanks Niaa

Here is a nice animation of the tsunamis

We have seen a lot of photos showing the destruction of the tsunami. Here is a photo of the tidal wave as it approaches Batu Ferringhi beach on the island of Penang, Malaysia.


Dec 27, 2004

The Frantic Tsunami Warning That No One Ever Heard

Today in the aftermath of yesterday's catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, it would appear from the following Reuter's news article published yesterday that someone did in fact have ample time to warn people about the tsunami despite the fact that no official warning system is in place.

"In Los Angeles, the head of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said U.S. officials who detected the undersea quake tried frantically to get a warning out about the tsunami."

This presents us all with the obvious disturbing question:

Who were the US officials who tried frantically to get a warning out about the tsunami and how exactly did they do it?

It seems to me that a simple posting on the internet, perhaps a bulletin might have been a step in the right direction, however, the only warning I have been been able to find was the following which stated only that "there is a possibility of a tsunami near the epicenter". Hardly frantic if you ask me.

I have written to both Dr. Laura S.L. Kong and Mr. Charles McCreery asking the question and have yet to hear back.

UPDATE: Since posting this, the original "Tsunami Information Bulletin" has editted and/or changed and no longer has the warning that "there is a possibility of a tsunami near the epicenter". The original warning was on Tsunami Information Bulletin 01.


Dec 26, 2004


The initial earthquake is now being reported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at Magnitude 8.9, making it one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history. In fact from what we are hearing, there has not been an earthquake like this since 1833. Needless to say, no one is around to remember anything.

The earthquake was felt where I live near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Several large buildings were evacuated this morning as a precautionary measure. I live near Shah Alam and watched as water moved in a glass on my desk. Needless to say, I was amazed. Never before has an earthquake like this been felt here in recent history.

Massive earthquakes followed by tsunamis hit Southeast Asia this morning. It will be several days before we even have an idea of what the damage and death toll will be. Many people were simply swept away. Below a photo of Phuket, Thailand hard hit.

This is now peak season in Phuket, Thailand and the beaches are crowded with mostly European visitors. Normally by 10 or 11 in the morning there is over 500 people on Patong beach alone all lounging in the sun along the beach.

Below is a closeup of part of Patong beach the main tourist area. The water went all the way upto Rat-U-Thit road. From there it start to go uphill and so this would have held back the water. There is a big supermarket and shopping centre where the KFC is, that is below ground level. Now completely underwater.

News agencies are now estimating the death toll at over 6,000. We believe the death toll will approach at least 25,000 or more. The reason for this is simple. Many of the villages in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have been completely cutoff from civilization. It will take several days before rescue teams can get to people.

UPDATE 4:11 AM - 3:11 Phuket Time

Just got off the phone with a friend in Phuket. Story as follows:

Tourists he spoke with were out in the surf at Patong beach just across from Bangla road when suddenly all the water was sucked out to the sea at least 100 meters leaving fish flopping on the sand and people stood confused wondering what had happened. Many of the Thai boys operating jet skis and such ran out to pick up the fish off the beach as all the water had receeded. In a few moments what was described as a roar and a giant wall of water over 10 meters high came headed toward the beach. People started running and many simply vanished into the sea.

Tonight the Army has moved in and has closed off the entire area to prevent looting. Looters are being warned they will be shot. Bodies are still being found. Total death toll now over 10,000 expected to rise much higher as more and more bodies are found.

In Malaysia, both Penang and Langkawi have been hardest hit.

Fifty-three dead, 34 missing after tidal waves hit Malaysia

Updating this as fast as I can - Check in later for more news.


Dec 24, 2004

America's Ambassadors or America's Shame

"You can't expect anyone else to love you until you learn to love yourself"

In my years of travelling, living and working overseas I have run across and met many other expatriates who live and work overseas, they come from countless other countries from Australia and England to Germany and Japan.

Travelling and meeting people from different countries and backgrounds can be a great learning experience. I personally believe it to be one of the best educations that one can get. I have learned much about other countries from the other expatriates I have met, all of whom have a deep love, affection and allegiance for their own countries.

Of all the expatriates and travellers I have met though, there is one unique traveller and expatriate that spreads nothing but hatred, contempt and scorn for their own country and that is the American.

The American is unique because of his own self-abasement and hatred. He blames all the world's ills on his own country and like a monkey at the zoo, throwing his own feces, he draws in the crowds to watch and listen to him spew his virulent hatred and contempt. He differs from all the other expatriates I have met who are proud to defend their own countries and their country's policies both foreign and domestic. Many times I find myself at a loss to either understand or explain to others why he does it.

Over the last few years I have watched the "American influence" (for lack a better word) almost fade into non-existance and obscurity and be replaced by scorn and contempt. The American story, the message of freedom, democracy and what we as a nation stand for is not getting out and it is something that should concern us all deeply.

I have at times felt alone. I now find myself alone over here defending America's point of view and position in the world today and as such, I am reaching out.

I love America and what America stands for in the world and yet I find absolutely no support in expressing my country's views or promoting the American story not from my fellow Americans here or even from the American embassy or State department here who seem to be on the defensive and preoccupied with trying to appease and placate those who are beginning to hold contempt and scorn for us rather than being on the offensive and promote what we stand for.

For myself, being away from America and living as an expatriate has made my heart grow fonder, and while being a learning experience has also been an enlightning experience for me as well. I have learned to appreciate deeply what America stands for in our world. Our country's freedom, democracy and liberty have in the past and continue today to serve as beacon throughout the world.

Tonight on Christmas Eve, I hope that all of you reading this will reflect on what you have and how lucky you are to be Americans. As you tuck your children to bed think of the Christians in Indonesia and in many other countries and how they will celebrate their Christmas in fear and in some cases under armed guard.

Merry Christmas and May God Bless You All


Dec 22, 2004

Why I Blog

Seventeen years is a long time I suppose. I have been over in this part of the world now for seventeen years. In the time I have been here I have learned a lot, a lot that up until recently I thought had little to no real value in today's world. How wrong I was.

I am often asked at times how long it took me to become fluent in the local language here. It is often asked "off the cuff" and often times meant to be implied as some sort of barometer to gauge my expertise in the local dialect. My typical response has always been that Im not fluent and will never be, but that I am always learning.

I don't think it is ever possible to be truly fluent in another language and that is because one's linguistic abilty is always subjective. One tends to always compare their abilty based on their native tongue. You might find me fluent in another language, the native speakers in my host country might feel I am fluent, but I never feel it.

What I have developed over the years however is something much more valuable than a mere linguistic abilty and often times overlooked, and that is an abilty to truly empathize and understand intimately the mentality of my host country and it's subjects.

The reason for the importance and significance is because both of these abilties are "learned abilities" as opposed to the concepts of loyalty and allegiance which are not. John Walker Lindh was not able to infiltrate into the inner circles of Al Qaeda because of his linguistic abilities. He was able to infiltrate and gain the trust of Al Qaeda because of his loyalty and allegiance.

It is not only an outrage, but shameful and irresponsible that our government's intelligence agencies place more importance on one's linguistic abilities above one's loyalty. Sure people are being caught, like Ahmed Mehalba and countless others, but how many have not been caught and are still providing vital classified information to our enemies? This is our country's national security we are talking about. Why is it taken so lightly? Let me assure you that a simple abilty to speak Arabic is not going to get you into the inner circle of Al Qaeda.

Like many of you here, I became quite active politically so to speak after 9/11. I found myself actively participating in the plethora of forums, blogs and websites that sprouted up afterwards wanting to share what expertise I had and to somehow contribute where I could. At times I either found my voice being completely drowned out in the white noise of the blogosphere or I have unwittingly managed to engage myself in an endless debate with "Bob" from Hoboken, New Jersey on the subtle nuances of the Indonesian and Malay dialects only to find out later that Bob has never left Hoboken in his entire life.

Thanks for hearing me out. Hopefully you will bookmark me and stop in later. We have a lot to talk about. And if you see Ann Coulter, ask her to stop by and if you see Michelle Malkin ask her to be polite and answer my email.


Dec 21, 2004

Multiculturalism and Diversity the Bane of Democracy and Freedom

Years ago when I first landed over here I was impressed and in awe with how the Chinese, Indians and Malays here could live in what seemed to be a multiculturalist's utopia. There is no melting pot here, no assimilation, what we have here is a never ending celebration of ethnic diversity. Little India, Chinatown and the Kampong all living under one umbrella.

Many in the West have been enamoured and envious of the perceived social stabilty and economic growth rates exhibited by countries in Southeast Asia. Multiculturism and diversity are heralded as the primary catalyst for development, growth and ingenuity by those in power here who are themselves behind the scenes constantly doing all they can to defuse ethnic and religious timebombs.

To maintain this order and to ensure steady economic growth, stability both social and political, many are seemingly willing to initially forgo civil liberties in return for safetly and stability. It is the safety and security of the nation that comes first before the individual. Countries such as Malaysia and Singapore prize stability and consensus while eschewing Western-style democracy which they claim has an emphasis on political conflict and debate.

Freedom of speech and Freedom of the Press here are pratically nonexistant - When the subject comes up from time to time, people are reminded "too much freedom is a bad thing" because individuals by nature will take advantage of subnational minority and ethnic groups. It is after all the rights of the minority that must be protected. If that does not work, then simply turn on the television in America or the West and take look at the unbridled decadence and narcissism being broadcast around the world - ask yourself if this is freedom or simply a free for all.

Sometimes as I sit over here watching from abroad the developments in the United States and in Europe I am frightened at what I see happening. The ongoing orgy of multiculturism and diversity at the expense of assimilation and integration is fueling the further balkanization of the United States and Europe. Before long we end up back where we started, never having learned a thing.

The concepts of multiculturism and diversity are in actuality nothing more than a pernicious form of relativism that culminates ironically into a new form of intolerance. An intolerance to both freedom and democracy. Multiculturism and diversity thrive here at the expense of freedom and liberty in what is often times refered to in politically correct terms now days as "Authoritative Democracy", in 1939 it was known for what it really was - fascism.


Dec 19, 2004

Sunday evening here. Got back quite early yesterday. I had a meeting downtown regarding a restaurant venture and then over to Finnegan's to have a few drinks with Frank Murphy the boss.

Frank has been in Malaysia and with Finnegan's ever since they first opened their first outlet in Bangsar over six years ago. Frank has a keen interest in politics however misguided and naive they might be. He is still not over the Kerry loss but give him time. If I could get him drinking Jack Daniels I can surely get him over to our side given time.

You can find Frank at Finnegan's in Kuala Lumpur. Stop in, have a drink and explain to him that Clinton won't be back.

What is it like living over here in a Muslim country? I'll try to cover that tomorrow.


Dec 18, 2004

I have been asked to offer some insight onto the local scene as far as nightlife and such. So here goes.

Last night was out again, first in Bangsar at House Frankfurt and then onto Passion in Kuala Lumpur. The three main areas would be Ampang, Bangsar and Kuala Lumpur (city centre). Normally we don't like to drive from one area to another late at night due to police roadblocks and such, but I made the exception last night.

House Frankfurt is a small German restaurant and pub located in Bangsar - It is run by a German man named Peter Karl. House Frankfurt has wonderful German food and it is a nice cozy atmosphere to relax and have a cool drink and meet fellow expatriates.

Passion is located near Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur and is about a 20 minute drive from Bangsar. It's not exactly my kind of music considering my age, but I can still get into it I suppose. I have been told it is "club music ", Im not sure how that differs from other types of contemporary music but it is not so bad like that "techno" music at least. The crowd is mostly young 25-35ish local yuppies with lot of pretty women.

Anyway, I have a meeting to get to and now is already 4:22pm - Hope to post more later.

Dec 17, 2004

"Islam Hadari" for Beginners

I suppose the first thing you are wondering is "What exactly is Islam Hadari?" and why should I care. You might not have heard about it, because it is not being directed at you, but it is all the rage over here. It is the new and improved, progressive and politically correct version of Islam that the so-called moderates in Malaysia are attempting to sell to the fundamentalists here in their midst and abroad.

So how is the progress and how is it doing? Well if you listen to the Malaysian government, they will tell you that "Islam Hadari" is a big hit and is winning accolades on the world stage. You might have a little success selling this "new and improved version of Islam" to the non-muslim liberals in England and Germany but until you can sell it to even the so-called moderate muslims in your midst then you won't make much progress.

The problem basically boils down to the semantics. We are told that the concept of "Islam Hadari" (Civilisational Islam) means a more progressive Islam. Well, if the opposite of "extremist" Islam is "liberal" or "moderate" Islam then what would be the opposite of "progressive" Islam? Could we say "regressive" Islam?

The word "Islam" means submission. The doctrine of faith in Islam leaves little to no room for interpretation. One must believe in God and accept, believe and acknowledge that the Prophet Muhammad is the messenger of God and that the Quran is the word of God.

A devout follower of Islam must pray five times a day facing the holy city of Mecca, fast during the month of Ramadan, pay tithe, perform the pilgrimage if he is able to, and believe in the doctrine of Islam (there is only one God, Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger). These are the five pillars of faith in Islam.

It all boils down to a simple often overlooked fact, and that is there is no such thing as a progressive, moderate or extreme Islam. There is no middle ground, no gray areas in Islam. It is black and white. If you believe that there are then you might also believe that Christianity can condone homosexuality or that abortion is a woman's right to choose and still be a good, devout Christian.


Dec 16, 2004

This past week an American friend of mine from Texas came to town, he called me up and asked me to meet him at the executive lounge on the 33rd floor of the newly built Kuala Lumpur Hilton at KL Sentral for a few drinks.

I am always happy to meet up with fellow Americans who travel here and getting the chance to talk about America and current events. Im always eager to hear how things are back home having spent almost all of my adult life living and working overseas.

My friend had met a few other Americans at the hotel who were here on business before I arrived, one was from California and the other from Chicago. It did not take long before our discussion focused on George W. Bush, the Iraq War and Islam.

Needless to say, my new friends were taken aback and dumbfounded to find out that I am a Republican, a George W. Bush supporter and that I also support the War in Iraq. "How could this be considering the fact that I have lived in a Muslim country for so many years?" Surely I must have a deeper understanding of the peaceful religion Islam and how our country's arrogant attitude and bloodthirst for war are only making things only worse. Surely all the conflict in the world is due to our country's foreign policy.

How will these people explain their trip when they get back?

Looks like the Jalapeno seeds I planted a few months back got their first blooms today.

As far as I know, I might be the first person to try growing Jalapenos and Poblanos here in Southeast Asia.

Wish me luck.

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