Lex Petros: February 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Have a Break, Have a...

one of the world's most favorite foods....the famous KitKat tag line came to mind whilst having tea with Ezral and Cheryl at Mano's Mega Curry House in Kota Damansara...
God knows, I have the most insatiable lust for a sinful brown. As a matter of fact, my favorite treat is a bar of "Crunchie", a Cadbury made, chocolate-covered honeycomb bar...the first bite is heavenly. The trick about enjoying a Crunchie bar is not to have more than one bar at any one time. Too much of a good thing dilutes the satisfaction, hence why I call it a 'treat'. But the coat on the Crunchie bar is milk chocolate. Studies have shown that dark chocolates are beneficial once eaten.
Chocolate is not necessarily bad for your teeth or health. Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids which acts as antioxidants- protecting your body from aging caused by free radicals - which can cause damage leading up to heart diseases. A study in Holland shows that dark chocolates have 4 times the amount of antioxidants than green tea...
Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure via the production of nitric oxide and can balance hormonal fluxes in your body.
Of course, like the adage goes, "everything in moderation". We are all concerned about the calories and saturated fats in chocolate products...
While both cocoa and chocolate contain sugar, they also have properties that work against sugar's tendency to produce the oral bacteria that eventually leads to dental decay. Ironically, studies have shown that milk chocolates is least likely to contribute to tooth decay, since it contains phosphate, vitamins B1, B2, D and E as well as potassium and magnesium.
The level of saturated fat in chocolate is due to the presence of cocoa butter, which increases blood cholesterol levels. On the other hand, it also contains a high level of phenolen and that lowers the risk of heart disease. A regular cup of coffee contains 130-150 mg of caffeine whereas a one ounce piece of chocolate contains only 60mg.
At this rate, it's better to give up coffee than chocolate, don't you think?


15-0 Majority Passes Resolution Against Libya & Ghadafi

Yesterday, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to impose arms, asset-freeze and travel embargoes on Libya, her embattled leader and several of his key associates. The resolution seems to give carte blanc for "all necessary measures to enable the return to Libya of humanitarian agencies and to secure the prompt and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need." This seems to suggests military action. I think Russia and China might have something to say about it. Their stake in pipelines means they have their own interests to protect.

This certainly won't be the first time Libya had been imposed sanctions on. After the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, it took Libya almost 15 years to claim responsibility. The bombing of the Boeing 747-121 also known as "the Clipper of the Maiden Seas" were probably as a result of confrontations with the US Navy in the 1980s in the Gulf of Sidra, a body of water was under dispute on which Libya claimed territory. Suffice to say, despite the then sanctions, Libya could still muster up a USD2.7 billion compensation for the victims' families. Probably the first time sponsored terrorism had offered compensation to terror victims.
In Bahrain, her King has reorganized the cabinet and cut government housing loans by 25% in what is supposed to be a bargaining chip to entertain reforms and start dialogues for its implementation. This is probably in reacting to the return of Hassan Mushaiman, the opposition leader of the Haq Movement, a major Shite group to deliver his speech on regime change. So far, the casualties are far less compared to Libya. The dialogue proposing sovereignty has issued orders for the mortal harm of civilians; not just, but its people.
The clashes in Yemen have apparently has no effect on President Salleh's resolute. His security forces are starting to show brazen disregard for safety and life and the anti-government protesters were hit by gunfire when they shot into crowds, just like Libya. These demonstrators, mostly students have lined the streets outside Sanna University and are still taking flack from pro-government supporters. Yemen is probably "knackered", wracked by Shite Muslims, an American aided crackdown of Al-Qaeda operatives and shortage of water.
Mostly, cries for the ouster of the current government and the end of political and economical woes and the end of corrupt government officials rings through-out the Arab nations in these recent times. I am utterly perplexed by the apparent inequality of the distribution of wealth. At one time, deposed Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak's total wealth was said to have exceeeded USD70billion.
An interesting book I came across scouring the Internet for more reading material on Middle East socio-economical related problems. A Duke University professor of Islamic studies, economics and political science by the name of Timur Kuran authored this book, titled "The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East"- which is essentially the decline of the Arab nations and the Middle Eastern economies at the hands of Muslim based economies which are incompatible with capitalism. Various laws in Islamic societies were not conducive to large-scale economic structures, at precisely the time when such structures were becoming profitable and are drivers of economic growth - whether it is on inheritance law, contracts, forming corporations, etc. I reckon a book by a Muslim and an insider will be a good read, lest a non-Muslim writer would probably be accused of being biased and western in thought.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Libyan Bloodshed

The clashes have not escalated to Tripoli where embattled Ghaddafi is situated. His interior minister has resigned and members of the armed forces and air force have defected in defiance to orders to open fire on civilians. Benghazi and smaller eastern towns are no longer under Ghadaffi's control. The plan is now to take down the western bloc.
Forty over years is a long time to hold the reigns, history has taught us that the declaration of "long live the king" does not hold for long in less than a Utopian administration. Power and money corrupts and resounding Lord Herschell, "absolute power corrupts absolutely". In a world of capitalism-fueled economies, it is almost impossible to find equal or seeming equal distribution of wealth. Cheap loans and good tax levies are justifications of the now challenged leader, but the cry for reforms go beyond these very fringe benefits.
The military is under the control of the executive, unlike Egypt where they have a stake in the economy and their interests underscores the preservation of a government who would be willing to allow these policies to remain. The brutal tactics of using military and security forces to quell civilian uprising has drawn tremendous flack from international communities, especially the Western bloc.
The Libyan ambassador in the USA even has called for Moammar Ghaddafi & sons end to the senseless rampage which has so far resulted in more than a thousand deaths. Perceivable act of heinous crimes against his own people.
So now the opposition is growing in force from defections which borders on treason I am sure. A civil war, so it seems. On state tv, the Ghaddafi has threatened to escalate the violence: ""We can destroy any assault with the people's will, with the armed people," he said. "And when it is necessary, the weapons depots will be open to all the Libyan people to be armed."
The Al-Qaeda has been one of those blamed, to wit, supplying the youths with hallucinogenic drugs. An offer has been made to increase state salaries by 150% and the premier's son assuring that things will get better BUT making it clear that the embattled leader will not step down.
The UN Supreme Council has proposed a resolution to impose new sanctions to Libya; arms, assets and travel. But military intervention is unlikely to accompany if Russia and China does not back the use of force.
These unfolding events frightfully points to Biblical prophecies coming to life. It is foretold that there will be unrest in the Middle East and later, Libya, Iran, Turkey, the Arab world generally, will eventually descend upon Israel to destroy the nation of God's chosen people but just before she falls, it is also foretold that Christ (God) and his army will descend and wipe out the "unholy army"off the face of the earth.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Angry Birds Peace Treaty

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Middle East Unrest Continues...

The developments of the last two weeks have been prolific.

Yemen student protests turned anti-government. Clashes between pro-government and pro-democracy demonstrators. Thousands took to the streets (mostly youths) chanting "time for change" and referring to the popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month.

Demonstrators want President Saleh who ruled North in 1978, North and South when they merged in 1990 and was relected in 2006. With a population of about 2 million, many whom a illiterate, which economy depends of some oil and with a 35% unemployment rate, it's not wonder the ones protesting have a bone to pick. Yemeni protests are taking a turn for the worse.

Yesterday, a grenade was hurled into the crowd. Rival forces taken on anti-government protesters near Sanaa Univerisity. Pro-democracy demonstrators demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In Libya- President Muammar Gadaffi's rule of 41 years is challenged as protesters organized their rallies, one of them infamously known as "The Day of Rage" last week. Up to yesterday, at least 20 people are reported killed. News correspondents say that the police are using lethal force against the crowd. News agencies cannot say more as the government has prohibited any reporting within. Demonstrations erupted on Tuesday after a human rights lawyer was detained by the police.

On the Persian Gulf - Bahrain saw strong confrontations since Monday, with anti-government protesters pushing their way on Pearl Roundabout. Many of the protesters are Shite Muslims making up 70% of the residents and have been long under the rule of a Sunni royal family.

Deep political and economical grievances have harboured over 40 years and cries for reforms and change are pouring from the opponents. Authorities have reportedly stepped in with force and now, the tone is to bring down the regime and dissolve parliament. al-Wifaq, a major Shite opposition party says there can be no dialogue with the government whilst the military controls the streets.

Minor injuries are reported in Baghdad and Amman, Jordan. King Abdullah had about a week plus ago fired his entire cabinet. The Jordanians are demanding reform and the abolishing the peace treaty with Israel (Wadi Araba Treaty) in 1994, among other articles- Jordan has preference concerning the status of Muslim holy places in the city (as a guardian or keeper of the holy places) in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Iran is not seeing any respite, with a civil war looming ahead. There is separation of politics and religious leaders.

The opposition's intentions are unknown: whether they want a regime change or more freedom from the regime? These are answers Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karubbi can provide, the two leaders of Iran's opposition movement. Just like ElBaradei in Egypt, a protagonist is behind the upstage.

One thing is for sure - many Iranians will not support a religious figure for a leader given their experience for the past 30 years. The Tunisia and Egypt experience has no doubt catapulted the protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection. The fiasco which started in 2009 has now erupted into a full-blown battle.

Iranian warships have been given the green light to cross the Suez Canal, leading to more uncertainty in the region and Israel is sweating more profusely. The canal is an internal body of water, and as such, Egypt has sovereignty over it. But Egypt also is bound by the 1978 Camp David Accords, which guarantee the right of free passage by ships belonging to Israel and all other nations on the basis of the Constantinople Convention of 1888.

Before that, Egypt did not allow Israeli ships to sail through the canal. Some have called this a typical "Syrian-Iranian opportunism". Israeli's Foreign Ministry has spoken to its allies to pay close attention and to act speedily against "any Iranian provocations".

Back in Egypt- the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces have so far declared they will honor the peace treaties signed with Israel. When Egypt’s opposition leaders began talking of “revolution,” they wanted not only to end the Mubarak presidency but also to sweep aside the 1971 constitution (as amended as so recent as 2007) which made it impossible for the Muslim Brotherhood to form a political party and undermined judicial supervision in the hands of commissions.

The result was a bias regime: promising a little bit to everyone but more to the president. For the time being, the best case is the interim government honoring its transitional role and providing a framework for fair elections and reforms as committed within the next 2 months.

The USA whilst condemning violence and urging stakeholders to resolve the feuds are no less lead by them intention to retain air and naval superiority over the Persian Gulf. The US's 5th Naval Fleet's base is housed in Bahrain.

If the base is unwelcome by a new government, US will be loosing a very strategic location, from where they launched their attacks into Taliban territory and keeping their policing over Iran. A possible move to Saudi Arabia is any one's guess.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Prayer of Serenity

A buddy of mine recites this all the time. I only knew the first few lines before this, so I am penning it here so that I don't forget this beautiful prayer:-

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful worldas it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The next change in Egypt and the Arab world

First it was the government of Tunisia, then followed by Egypt. Now a wake of change ripples across the Arab word.
Jordan entire cabinet has been sacked by King Abdullah.
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Yemeni announced he will not be running re-election in 2013.
In Sudan, daily protests are happening in Khartoum over the economy and corruption.
Old governments are stale and corrupt in the eyes of the people. Revolutions are unfolding all cross the Middle East for the sake of democracy and economical reforms.
The Egyptian parliament is dissolved and the constitution is suspended yesterday for the transition process to civilian rule, but this will not be happening until the elections in September which is another 6 months away. The "caretaker" cabinet appointed shortly after the January 25 protests will hold the reigns, but no one really knows whether the military will allow number 2, Omar Suleiman to play any role in Egypt's transition. A suspended constitution means an uncharted jurisprudential land.
The economy needs to recover. Banks will only open in 2 days and trading will continue this Wednesday. But the military's stake in Egypt which was held tightly under Mubarak's rule will unlikely be given up, hence the question of what is the next move of the Armed Forces Supreme Council.
The Armed Forces Supreme Council will hold the interim government whilst every stakeholder will strive for clear demarcations and referendum for general acceptance. The military is the ruler of Egpyt after Mubarak handed it power. Commanders of each branch, chief of staff and Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi sits on the Council. A day after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, the military announced that they will keep the nation's peace until the transition and to uphold the peace treaty signed with Israel; whether that is comforting.
Power now rests entirely with the military under the Supreme Council. Omar Suleiman and the caretaker cabinet ministers no doubt will have to do their bidding.
What of the pro-syaria establishment Muslim Brotherhood? Its assertion that their understanding of Islam is the 'true one'. It called on Egyptians to unite to confront the forces of Zionism and imperialism and pursue economic development and social justice. But, will there by space for democracy, human rights and women's liberation if they become the ruling party is anyone's guess.
The concerns have been highlighted.


Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

A short video to make the heart grow fonder!

Kill the cupids! They are a scourge!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Facts Revealed of Star Trek 2009/ J.J. Abrams' USS Enterprise NCC 1701

Kenny and I was invited to Richard Chua's house warming cum chinese new year party yesterday. Richard is also a fellow Trekker and the proprietor of sci-fi movie memorabilia and toy store, "The Outpost" at e @theCurve, formerly known as Cinneleisure, Mutiara Damansara. That means one thing: topic of conversation - Star Trek.

It started raining about 4pm, just as Kenny and I were about the leave, so we decided to stay for a while to check out a blu-ray version of Star Trek 2009 with interesting technical specs of JJ Abrams' famed reincarnated USS Enterprise NCC 1701. The blu-ray set comes with 2 DVDs, the movie and the bonus materials.

The bonus materials DVD contains, among others, a layout of and simulation of almost the entire starship with superb CGI and details.It's confirmed- the official length of the 2009 starship is 725 meters/ 2,380 feet compared with the classic Enterprise spanning only 288 meters/ 948 feet. In my September 2010 (click here)posting on the subject, I remarked:

Maybe this time ILM will get the USS Enterprise NCC 1701 sizing right! For the uninitiated, the size of the new starship has been subject of debate. The design size was 366m according to Alex Jaeger of ILM, and this still makes sense, considering that in this case the shuttle bay door and the torpedo launcher would be the same size as on the TMP refit. Also, the hatches would be reasonably tall compared to just 1.8m on a 302m ship. The VFX team at ILM, however, purportedly scaled up the ship to as much as 725m (200%!), the main intention apparently being to be able to squeeze in all the big shuttles.

So the debate is settled, as I found out.

Since the images on film can be too fast to pick up, I never knew that the 2009 Enterprise's hangar bay doors had a indented Starfleet Delta Shield design when closed.

Phasers on the 2009 Enterprise are for once utilized in the way they should. The ventral primary hull phasers has a 3-point axis configuration. Naturally, the tactical officer should be able to discharge all 3 emitters simultaneously or in succession and on multiple vectors to the limits of the tageting range. Prior to the TNG, DS9 and Voyager, all audience saw was one or two single continuous beams.

Back then , phaser emitters were in pod configurations and it seems from the close-up above, a single emitter has a swivelling mechanism giving it the most line-of-sight from the target subject. With CGI, these details can be seen. On a movie prop, these details can only be made out if the prop makers actually built a scale version of individual components.

And for the first time (for me at least), the Enterprise's aft photon torpedo launcher. Located on the belly of the ship, on the stardrive section.


My Iphone Experience

You can hardly walk the streets these days without noticing someone poking away at their mobile devices or reading the news on a smart phone. Ipads and tablet computers included.
The age of the personal communication devices is here and the possibilities are endless. We now can stay connected with our loved ones and friends with a touch of a button or the stroke of a keypad. The world became smaller with latest reports from news agencies globally. Our daily schedule and activities can be diarised with ease.
For me, I chose to acquire the latest Iphone for the fact I travel to work via train these days. The half hour journey becomes mundane. So, what a better way to break that monotony than staying in touch with my friends and keeping updated with world events.
The apps (applications) made available enriches the experience. I have apps to tell me places to go for food, clothes, accessories and other needs. Apps to book cinema tickets and flights. Apps to help you navigate through major malls in the city. Also a pocket bible. Only the tip of the iceberg when you look at a world of 100,000+ apps available now.
On the way to and from work, I read the news of CNN, AlJazeera, BBC and Fox. Discovery and the Star is optional. A quick glance at facebook and a verse or two from the pocket KJV bible. There's also food for thought apps and humour at the push of a button. Quick references are available: an app for financial terms, a law lexicon, a currency converter, an online dictionary and thesaurus. Useful apps.
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to games, entertainment apps and fun apps. I have a myriad of games, from shoot-em-ups, strategies, IQ oriented and childish ones. They keep you and your friends entertained.
When necessary, I can check my personal emails. Of course, pushing mails on an Iphone pales in comparison to what a Blackberry can do. I don't push mails, so I don't have the need for one yet.
Just the other day, a bunch of Pakistanis were looking for Thai Airways. Retrieving the address and phone numbers took less than 2 minutes. Imagine the days when all these wireless devices were non-existent and no one knew what 'Google' is.
Of course, there are some disadvantages. Obvious one would be at meet ups and functions, where you will almost certain notice that friend of yours looking down at his device and behaving very anti-social. The facebook update addiction and the text messaging marathons can somewhat disconnect a person from the 'real' world.
Whatever the arguments for or against, I am very fulfilled by a smart phone which I think have helped enriched my thoughts.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is Christ the Son Of God?

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Matthew 24:24-25)
The gospel of Matthew was written circa 70-100 A.D. and some scholars have even put it as early as 63A.D. Some 700 years after the cruxifiction and resurrection of Christ, this warning was forgotten to wit, a new revelation was conceived and the dawn of the 'perfected religion'. If one believes in the words of Christ, it stands to reason that after his ascension, no one can claim to be a messenger of God, much less declare the be the final messenger.

The irreconcilable differences regarding the deity of Jesus Christ will always be the divide. God is one. No one is disputing that, but the rejection of the Trinity which can be illustrated like this:-

GOD = The Father = Jesus Christ = Holy Spirit

Here is a short article I reproduce from the internet:-
The phrase “only begotten Son” occurs in John 3:16 which reads in the King James Version as, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The phrase "only begotten" translates the Greek word monogenes. This word is variously translated into English as "only," "one and only," and "only begotten." It's this last phrase ("only begotten" used in the KJV, NASB and the NKJV) that causes problems.
False teachers [and prophets] have latched onto this phrase to try to prove their false teaching that Jesus Christ isn't God; i.e., that Jesus isn't equal in essence to God as the Second Person of the Trinity. They see the word "begotten" and say that Jesus is a created being because only someone who had a beginning in time can be "begotten." What this fails to note is that "begotten" is an English translation of a Greek word. As such, we have to look at the original meaning of the Greek word, not transfer English meanings into the text. So what does monogenes mean? According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BAGD, 3rd Edition), monogenes has two primary definitions.
The first definition is "pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship." This is the meaning attached to its use in Hebrews 11:17 when the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham's "only begotten son." Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of the covenant.
The second definition is "pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind." This is the meaning that is implied in John 3:16. In fact, John is the only New Testament writer who uses this word in reference to Jesus (see John 1:14, 18, 3:16, 1 John 4:9). John was primarily concerned with demonstrating that Jesus was the Son of God (John 20:31), and he uses this word to highlight Jesus as uniquely God's Son—sharing the same divine nature as God—as opposed to believers who are God's sons and daughters through faith.
The bottom line is that terms such as "Father" and "Son," that are descriptive of God and Jesus, are human terms used to help us understand the relationship between the different Persons of the Trinity. If you can understand the relationship between a human father and a human son, then you can understand, in part, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.
[Emphasis mine]
1) Definitely not physical but spiritual

"Son of God" is a term of honour in the Holy Bible. King David, Hazrat Daoud, and King Solomon, Hazrat Suliman, are each specifically referred to as a "son" of God in the Holy Bible (Psalms 2 and 1 Chronicles 17:13).

It is clear to see that "son" meant one who was loved, chosen and given authority and power through the Spirit of God. "Spirit" here does not refer to an angel or even the breath of God, but the very being, nature and essence of God.

Jesus was not just a grown human being upon whom the Spirit of God came. He was the very nature and essence of God who came in human flesh (John 1:1,14, Micah 5:2, Luke 1:35, John 4:24, Philippians 2:5-8)

2) Comparing an apple and an orange.

The Bible does not refers to Christ as a physical son of God and it is clear that the other book is not addressing what the scriptures are saying.

3) Why didn't Jesus ever say clearly, "I am God. Worship Me!"?

Christ did say it in, among others:

John 6:41 -42:

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

John 8:58:

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I

John 17:4-5:

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest
me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory
which I had with thee before the world was

4) He was there before the world was and who is 'He'? God of course. Christ is God humbling himself to take the form of man and die for our sins.

Philippians 2:5-11:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the
form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is
above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and
[things] in earth, and [things] under the earth
And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the
glory of God the Father.

It is a message of humility, of obedience and instructions to mirror that which of God's quality. He chose to take the likeness of man.
When Christ cried out " Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," meaning, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:45-50), those who corrupts the gospel message has taken it more evidence that Christ is not the son of God. Whereas, they fail to realise that Christ quoted the beginning of Psalm 22:1 , "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?". Jesus quoted this Psalm in order to draw attention to it and the fact that He was fulfilling it there on the cross. Consider verses 11-18:

Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help.12 Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 13 They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.

When He said, "It is finished" it refers ONLY to the old sacrificial system and nothing else, also, the rending of the Temple Veil (that separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place) reinforced this unselfish act of our living God. God meant the process for which he died for everyone's sins so that believers could spend eternity with Him in heaven.

Mubarak Resigns

After 19 days, Hosni Mubarak resigns, news of which was delivered on air by Omar Suleiman in a one minute sombre appearance. Tahrir Square erupted with cries of "Freedom" and "Allahu akbar" accompanies by detonation of fireworks and all sorts of activity. This development came a day after Hosni Mubarak's broadcast so brazenly declaring his refusal to bow down to "foreign demands" to step down amidst the cries of his own people willing to shed blood to see him out!

The people's demands seemingly met after 19 days of unrelenting protests...

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei says Egypt for a first time has a chance "to be democratic, to be free, to have a sense of dignity, of freedom". A time of elation for the Egyptian people and probably a time of suspense for Israel, USA, the rest of the Arab World.

Hosni Mubarak handed over power to the Egyptian Army's Supreme Council who is supposed to ensure a smooth transition of his departure from office. It's strange that the military's infinite patience (or seemingly so) has for the entire duration of the riots, been sidelined and merely scratched on the surface during media coverage. The attention was drawn to the premier, the nation, the people and the rest of the world having a stake in the outcome.

The army presents a neutral arbiter between contending opponents, but it has significant interests of its own to defend. The basic structure of the Egyptian state as it now exists has benefited the military. The practical demands of the protesters were fairly simple: end the state of emergency, hold new elections, and grant the freedom to form parties without state interference. But these demands would amount to opening up the political space to everyone across Egypt's social and political structure. That would involve constitutional and statutory changes- e.g. reforming Egypt as a parliamentary rather than a presidential system, in which a freely elected majority selects the prime minister (who is now appointed by the president). These changes would do away with power structure the Egyptian army created in 1952's coup.

We must bear in mind that the military has access to the ruling party (NDP) and owns industries which controls 5-20% of Egypt's economy. A military coup is always remotely possible if their interests would be undermined by the interim government.

We are now witnessing history unfolding and the rise of a new regime or at least, a harbinger of one.

Of course, there's the Muslim Brotherhood- it must be remembered that they were target of arrests during Hosni Mubarak's time and all of a sudden, the power realisation seems to be a lot more realistic. Their goal is to institute an Islamic state by political means, not violence.

The West will be worried if democracy comes to quickly in the form of speedy empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood whom USA does not know how they will react to American influence. USA had expanded billions of dollars to back Egypt during Hosni Mubarak's time which he had very little to show for. Under Hosni Mubarak's rule, Egypt kept peace with Israel and close ties with the West. His government was an important ally of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He also earned Western support for his efforts to suppress Islamic extremism- in the 1990s he waged a war against Islamist fundamentalism and extremism from which, the military's role evolved further.

But, a spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood (or so I've read) has told CNN that MB has vowed not to field a presidential candidate as they only desire representation via seats in parliament but does not want a majority. In the Egyptian political arena for the last 3 weeks, we all know things can seemingly take a turn without a moment's notice, so this will be left to be seen. If the military's interests is guaranteed and their industries protected, we will see if this will still be the case when they have the army's backing.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

As If Things Were Not Bad Enough...

workers in vital industries and professionals alike have taken to the streets and protesting their causes in the midst of the political and social-economical turmoil in Egypt. An undesired (for the current Government at least) new pressure mounting.
My question is how are they going to get themselves heard. After all, a new government is a more pressing concern than wages and labour welfare under the circumstances.
I cannot begin to imagine the paralysis. A complete breakdown of civil order, a grinding halt to the banking industry and total chaos displacing peace and order. I sympathise with the rest of the civilians keeping themselves cocooned inside their homes and whatever shelters they can find against the mob, escaped criminals, police and the military.
Journalists and field correspondents are not spared. Just a few days ago, journalists, foreign no doubt, found themselves fighting for their lives emerging battered with bruises, lacerations and broken bones. They live to tell the tale.

Lawyers, professionals and workmen marched to the palace. Fazed by the tight guard of the army, they valiantly marched to Tahrir Square in the 17th day of the protests, joining a host of civilians and political rallies calling for the immediate departure of President Hosni Mubarak. The embattled government is not going to be able to do much about their plight. Restoring order and stability if at all will top of the list, or perhaps the fight for survival.

Then, there's the spotlight on Wael Gnonim, widely credited for the protests which began on January 25th has come back to his home soil after resigning from Google, pledging his life for his country and leaving his estate to his wife. He is definitely a face to be hero-worshipped and an inspiration to the band of protesters. This uplift of spirits will be hard to quell.

The octogenarian premier is refusing to step down, lest (allegedly) the military will take over to enforce marshall law. The military is standing on the sidelines, who may become the show stopper and an intervener in this nationwide chaos. The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit has for one demonstrated the recognition of such a concern.
Rumour has it that the Egyptian military is secretly detaining thousands of civilians and political opponents and employing torture.

The Muslims had encircled the Christians during the mass a few days ago, held for the slain ones and for the cause. At least, in that far away land in the middle east, both Kitaabians are unified, unfazed by their prejudice toward each other in these revolutionary times, unlike the petty hypocrites in this supposedly tolerant soil, directing the taking down of crucifixes and banning Christian prayers and religious songs during an official visit from the prime minister to the archbishop's abode last Christmas.

Saudi Arabia's government has told USA to bug off and not force swift change to Egypt. King Abdullah apparently told Obama not to "humiliate" Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Cairo if US were to cut off its aids worth USD1.5million annually. Riyadh sources says the Kingdom will be Washington's only ally in the Arab world and the Saudis want US to keep that in mind. I am not surprised. But then again, Saudi is hinging on the "overrated" oil reserves which was recently reported to last only a mere 15 years unless new technologies are employed to mine oil in deeper waters. One black oil is gone, so will the Kingdom.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

'Disrespectful to the People'?

...after 16 days, Omar Suleiman had this to say? Is this Egypt's Vice President's idea of a joke, expressing self-denial or just a desperate attempt at reverse psychology?

Apparently, "departure" is an insulting word and if this is an attempt to appease the angry mob, the VP is in for a shock. There can only be two things or outcomes:-

One, Hosni Mubarak steps down and the Muslim Brotherhood takes over or decrees a coalition with the opposition to form the interim government, possibly with help from the US and Iran; or two, the Egyptian constitution is amended before September and again, the Muslim Brotherhood takes over and the same order of things will come to past.

The MB, was just an outreach which have since become an influential organization and a powerful catalyst for change, which incidentally does not sit well with the country's laws against having religious based political parties.

The reality of warfare in any form, the aggressive will subdue the weak or the outnumbered. Look at so many Middle Eastern states which were once thriving Christian states and later overrun by the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire, not to mention the many Caliphs who let slip dogs of war in the name of religion.

Then the Palestinians will ally with MB... Tel Aviv is uneasy. The Israelis will be thinking, who will be their new tenants (the current one has been given more than mere easements and estates) and whether Iran will march in from the south which have for some time been deceptively quiet. Benjamin Netanyahu has express these fears in public.

Oh but wait...the Russians are now behind closed doors with the Egyptian premier...of what is discussed, no one knows.

My friends, or some of them at least observed that no one is keeping their eyes on Israel who is said to be capable of taking over Gaza. I humbly beg to differ...

The Palestinian presence since the 6th Day War is a mark of compromise for the Israelis. Israel displays a copious amount of attention, waiting for the outcome of the revolution happening in Egypt now.

Mubarak has always kept his distance from Israel a contrast to his predecessor Anwar Sadat who paid a visit to Yizhak Rabin to discuss efforts for peace in both lands.

Mubarak and his police state were barriers to chaos that, if removed, would likely be succeeded by an Iranian-style Islamic Republic, one directly neighboring Israel and armed with U.S. weaponry.

Arab nations have been hostile toward Israel with Egypt and Jordan mostly ignoring the peace treaties signed with the Jewish state. Most Israelis viewed the peace process as a means for bettering relations with Europe and the United States and not as a channel to regional forced acceptance of the Arabic language and Islamic values. Revolting prospect.

Israeli clerics and priets will have to remain steadfast and keep the prayer chains going for deliverance out of this dark and sinister religious threat.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sleepless in....

There is no respite from this life...I think... sometimes...

Last night, I was talking to a friend of mine who has since gone back to the Far East having celebrated the lunar new year back here. We both were awake chatting via Whatsapp and later via Viber. She had just gotten back, unpacked. Every year, for the past 6 years now, it has been customary for us to visit each others' houses when her parents are down from up north. To some extent, she's like the sister I never had.

She told me she had just said goodbye to her ex who came back to take his belongings from her place. What a situation to return to.

My heart turns weary listening to her life of unsustainable relationships. She describes her ordeals as frequent as "annual dinners" for which she has grown numb and mired to the downs in her personal life. I can imagine her misery being surrounded by the four walls and the constant memories of happier times.

She says "it's lucky if one could just be alone and not lonely".

Poor girl. Nice girl. I suppose it's not her time yet. He was there after her break up but he could not stay for long too. He was not able to commit and eventually had to break it to her. He could not be there for her as she wanted to. He had tried but circumstances prevented a happy, long-term relationship and for that, parting ways was the only option to be fair to both of them.

Despite so, she does blame him for pursuing her.

She told me that the very many memories and good times of being together must be cherished and in a corner of one's heart, that special one will always have a place. That cannot be taken away and it remains a sacred aspect of your life. The very fact that the affection is real surpasses anything else.

There is a reason for everything and she alluded her realization that her very special one before him (and incidentally, was there when it all happened) not that long ago whom she still loves will constantly be in her contemplation and no matter who else comes in the way, they may have been there in her life to give her that much reminder to hold on to that love for love is a precious and priceless gift.

They are there to remind them to love and also a revelation of who she lives for; her parents, her loved one and most of all, herself.

We are indeed disappointed with people and sometimes, ourselves, but it is the human propensity to forgive and look on the good side of people which leads to our happiness and continued emotional well being. After all, to err is human but to forgive is divine.

Of course, our relationship with God is important in all respects. She meditates, I pray. We find peace in our own ways. But one thing is for sure, and I do completely agree with her; is that we must never regret our actions or decisions. We may in our heart want to live for something or someone but that may not be the case by His permissive will.

We take the blessings and live with the consequences, but there must never be any regrets, for everything has a reason and everything or anyone we so badly pine for has their place in time.

Israel Facing an Egyptian-Iranian Alliance?

Protests in Egypt are going on to the 15th day, a little over 2 weeks now, since January 25, 2011.

The Muslim Brotherhood seems to be gaining foothold, leaving the inevitable question of how much more Islamist fundamentalism does Israel have to put up with. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Israel has for decades maintained its position against the establishment of potential bases of Islamist terrorists on its borders until 2000 when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon (and the Golan Heights/ Syrian Heights) which led to the formation of a Hezbollah-dominated region and in 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza which led to the rise of the Hamas. North and South Israel were taken by and controlled by Islamist movement and Iran has since pressed for attacks on Israel's borders.

It's a two-edged sword: the Muslim Brotherhood is a sworn enemy in the Mubarak regime and has its relations with the Palestinian movement. If the MB takes control, their descendants within Palestine, the Hamas will have a foothold in Cairo and the Palestinians will have an ally in Egypt. In such an event, it is speculated there will be an Egypt-Iranian alliance which would almost certainly end the security in Israel's southern border. Israel will certainly not give up the West Bank so easily then.

The current turmoil in Egypt certainly has kept Israel on its toes.

If the West Bank falls to the Hamas, it would be sharing Jerusalem with an Islamist government, turning the city into a war zone and rocket fire is likely to rain on Tel Aviv and the holy city.

It is an existential and political paradox: on one hand, a democratic Palestinian state would save the Jewish state from the threat of Palestinian majority which would force Israel to chose between a Jewish state or their version of democracy but on the other hand, an unstable Palestinian state in the West Bank may likely fall to the Hamas.

However, it is said that Arab leaders are much more concern about the Iran nuclear program rather than ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. A matter of time before the diversion is lost.

Israel will ever be more vigilant. Despite "conventional" Western thought that a Palestinian state must be created to contain the Islamist threat, Israel believes the converse to be true.

Only if Iran is contained can Israel can allow it's east borders to be controlled by Palestinian rule. Now with the possible encirclement of Israel, this remains to be seen.


Monday, February 07, 2011


I have been running for the past 3 months with a short 2 week hiatus due to the shoddy maintenance of the gym facilities (Yes! something about it MC!).

I never actually took up running as an exercise until recently... it makes the heart pump harder, I catch the goings on in the neighborhood and it increases my energy levels. There's also keeping aware of stray dogs giving chase and avoiding being run over!..

Rain halted my progress today... I only ran half of the 3km run scheduled...had to seek shelter at Kanna Curry House and relent to calling mum to pick me up... embarrassing...but then again, the prospect of catching pneumonia or worst....getting my beloved IPhone wet did not appeal to me ...:)

Not too long ago I ran for a different sort of which was too much to bear. Sometimes running is being cowardly but sometimes it's necessary to avoid a future which may spell despair and resentment... granted, I had not done it with full dignity but I am willing to make it up... it was conscience was hurting me more than my affection ... I suspect life has a cruel way of unraveling, but every action has its consequences...

Yes, I will continue to run for myself and for the right reasons... I shan't want to hurt another soul and anger the Almighty...

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Thanks, my friend...

True friends are hard to come by....

Having followed my blog for the last couple of months, from all the way in Hong Kong, my dear friend from Hong Kong called me up. My posts have somewhat been sombre and depressing...some of them anyway... I am touched by his gesture...he's back for CNY this year, but time constraints have prevented us from meeting up... He didn't know about the break up ...

He assured me that I had a friend to talk to and that he was sorry he wasn't there for me... He needn't be... I am ever more grateful to have a listening ear...

Until very was one episode in my life I phased out almost completely for a nightmare I didn't want to revisit...and in it, I was consumed by rife, anger and to some extent, hatred...more to myself for being foolhardy in my ways...causing unnecessary hurt and probably ruining a friendship which was forged all these years...

It took me a while to start grieving... as I said, I somehow phased it out of my mind for months! Maybe an instinctive reaction...self-denial? ... or perhaps my faith was conflicting with my heart... a very tough battle indeed... although we know the obvious winner, the outcome did result in a casualty... well, both actually...

I had no contact or discussion with anyone about the end of my relationship and somehow, moving to a new job makes it easier as I was disconnected with the then current crowd...or at least, be able to conjure up excuses ...

things will never be the same and the guilt that I will have to live with will be a painful reminder of not doing things before thinking things through...but then again, matters of the heart have always discarded logic on most occasions... what was a good idea then became seemingly harder to sustain as the days went on...

My dear friend's encouragement lifted evermore so much a part of the burden...he's had his fair share of depression...things happened for a reason and they had to happen, despite what we say what we "should or should not have done"... maybe for the worse at first but as he opines, the reason for which will be known later... God's will ...

Thank you, my friend, for your words of encouragement and for your friendship... knew this CNY would be a hard one for me to get through and your call couldn't have come at a better time... for that, I am grateful...


Returning to Routine

I spent the last few hours yesterday night with a dear friend of mine whose going back to Hong Kong this morning... she was back for the CNY celebrations...

She leaves with a heavy heart, not because of anything she misses here but because she will be going back to her hectic job and more than anything, the loneliness which had come to be not too long ago when she broke up with her special someone. Seems like an annual dinner, she says- referring to the almost yearly routine she has to suffer a broken heart. But still she is determined to go back there to get over things and start over again. Perhaps she should come back to Malaysia to settle down instead of pining for it over there. It also helps if the guys she dated weren't expats.

By no means has my personal life been fulfilled. I am still distraught over the last one. So many lessons to be learned about sacrifices and loving each other. Honestly, I don't think I can forgive myself for ruining a perfectly good friendship. But the choice was made and there is no point regretting. It was most likely short-sighted but life is full of risks isn't it. If you asked me how I would have done it better if I could turn back time, I would say "I'd probably tell her to live for her precious little one and no one else" . Being impartial would have been the best and would have probably saved us all from the pain. Adult relationships are so complicated sometimes. It may have been just better to keep our feelings in check.

Who knows, none of the hardship may had to arise and I may not have even seen the darker and miserable side of me. My resentment has made me miserable and unhappy for a long time. To some extent, I took it out on her. I've never had to deal with having almost perfect happiness ripped away and that it was my choice to rip away from it. The conflict between doing the right thing and doing what your heart tells you is often the most embittered battle of all.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Second Hectic Day!

Chinese New Year celebration for me is nowadays a culmination of social meets and catching up...

I had breakfast with Siu whom I've not seen in a while. Soon after, fellow lawyer, Greg Ling smsed for coffee w at Starbucks, Tropicana City Mall. Amanda, his significant half (also a lawyer). After coffee, we decided to check out the latest Iphone accessories and the best place for that at TC Mall is Mybites.

No sooner after we started to look around, Ning Shin (my ex-colleague at Khaw & Partners whose back from Hong Kong for CNY) called telling me she's visiting my place, for which I had to rush off. Fortunately, my condo is 4 minutes away, foot speed.

When I home, Ning Shin came over not much later and my mum then tells me her friend and daughter were coming over! ... Aunty Ai Gim and Candy ...

After all that, only then I managed to slip out to join James, Olivia, Kevin and gang for drinks and karaoke at The Curve. They had started out at the Redbox for a couple of hours before I joined. After a short stay (for me at least), we adjourned to Malones (Irish Pub opposite Ying Ker Lou Chinese Restaurant) for some German sausages and mashed potatoes, cod with muscles and drinks. Oli has an Audi A4 (B8) whom she has given my rights of first refusal if she decides to sell...except now she tells me the air conditioning releases a funny smell; apparently this was recently discussed in the relevant Audi forums... *grin...I see an opportunity to wrangle her for a lower price!!

That's us at Malones:

Nick, me, James Khong, Olivia Loh, Kevin Wong and another James (Nick's cousin)

More visiting later today... There's my father's aunt and a few more friends of mine I haven't gone to visit. On Sunday there's my colleague's open house (lion dance included) and a small get together at my old friend's place in SS5. I had meant to recharge during the holiday season, but it looks like it will have to wait for next weekend.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Eyptian Military Standing Aside in Ensuing Gunfire

After 9 days of demonstration, "peaceful" has broken its streak.

Despite the president's assurance that he would not be running in the September elections and pledged his commitment to bring stability and security back to the embattled country, pro-Mubarak and pro-democracy supporters set against each other still. Last I heard, 6 people have died with more than 700 injured. Fundamentalist and leftist quarters are seeking to exert their own leverage.

The day this Muslim state becomes free of Hosni Mubarak's rule may be a harbinger to a new sort of totalitarian regime. ElBaradei seems to be the best bet. But the rest will not see to him coming to power. Available candidates but different ideologies about the rule of law. Interesting dilemma. Again, I emphasis, the problem with annexing religion into law.

The military is not doing anything to quell the violence. Throngs of gunfire and small arms discharge ring near Tahrir Square. With social networking and emails cut off, news is slowly reaching the rest of the world.

Whilst China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Chinese states celebrate the new lunar new year round the world with fireworks and firecrackers, the intimidating sound of weapons discharge echoed in the streets in Cairo. Food and rations are still in place and I can only imagine the fear and stress levels subduing the local economy and social psyche of the Egyptians right now.

The US is of course worried about the unrest in its bigger Middle Eastern ally. The Obama administration despite expressing its concern is not going to interfere. Troops can be deployed but only as a humanitarian aid, or would this change soon? The 'international police 'is toothless in light of a civil unrest rather than an elemental concern to its security.

So, the White House now can only 'condemn street violence' whist speculating what Hosni Mubarak's inner circle is discussing to meet protester demands.

Jurisprudential-wise, the old government is facing a coup on multiple throngs and the winner or elected successor will form the de facto head of state, assuming the former is deposed. Still, the extreme range of secularism and fundamentalism might prove to be difficult to produce a favorable outcome beneficial to the masses.


Hop-Along in 2011

CNY is always an exciting time for me. I was up by 5.00am, rolled around till 7 nish and went for a 3-km run at 8am, stopping by Kanna Curry House for some roti canai. Ever since the gym in my condo went into disrepair, I have to risk getting run over or chased by dogs! (although, that ironically be very good exercise, save as I don't get rabies!) I hope the building management does conduct repairs soon after the CNY break! I'm dying to get my stamina back!

After getting home and taking a shower, I decided to read up on what the Chinese zodiac experts had to say about people born in the year of the

Rabbits, like their animal counterparts, are quite calm people who do not exhibit aggressive behavior and will avoid confrontation at all costs. When angry about something, a Rabbit will approach it calmly and considerately, hardly ever raising his voice or becoming visibly annoyed. Because of their serenity, Rabbits seem to miss things, whether they are confrontational in nature or not. However, the Rabbit is quite keen and pays close attention to the situations developing around him. He is intelligent and quick and can talk himself in or out of most situations with no problem.

The Chinese Rabbit is one of the most stylish creatures of the Chinese Animal Signs and finds interest in different cultures. He is classy and sophisticated, and can be found adorning one of the latest fashion magazine cover looks. Rabbits also like artistic ventures, such as painting and music and are generally quite present in these worlds. They love top express themselves, which is evident when joining them at home for a function or a cup of coffee.

Of course, I was born in the year of the Dragon and here's my zodiac predictions:-
Most dragons found 2010 about as much fun as chewing on icicles, and while 2011 won’t be a banner year you’ll find fewer white knights prancing around with your name on the end of their lance. Leadership and passion are typical traits of the dragon and while the year of the Rabbit will reward your natural creativity, outbursts and anger will upset workmates and friends and you could still find yourself on the business end of a lance. Instead, be patient and try and fly with the more relaxed pace of the year. If you do, you should find your cavern stuffed with goblets, trinkets and treasure chests, and, more importantly, someone scaly to share them with.
Hmmm. Strikingly true, although it mirrors any average cycle of life. This year i look forward to striving hard, making amends and strengthening my faith in Christ our Saviour. Every year that passes by brings about new lessons and experiences. The cavern stuffed with goblets, trinkets and treasure chests is a nice thought but I DOUBT I'd want to share them with someone 'scaly' ???

To my dear family, friends and loved ones: Here's wishing you a happy Chinese new year and happy holidays! God bless and keep you all in his arms!