Category Archives: Malaysia

Department of Dirty Tricks


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During Malaysia’s recent 14th general election, the department of dirty tricks was busy.  Great efforts was made to support the ruling government coalition by discourage a high voter turnout, silence criticism and other devious schemes.

In case you ever need help in thwarting the democratic process, you might want to take some notes on how to do it.  Here are a list of things you could do.

1.  Gerrymandering

Redraw the election boundaries in your favor even if it means including voters from areas which are not even geographically near each other.  My own voting district saw the inclusion this election of an area which is about 10 km away.  This would see the presumed addition of about 10,000 potential pro-government votes in the district that was won in the last election by the opposition by a 1,000 majority.  Surprisingly, the opposition still won with an increased majority.

2. Voting Districts are not all equal.

Make pro-government voting districts very small and districts which are opposition strongholds very big.  In this way, one pro-government area had only 6,000 voters while one opposition stronghold had 146,000 voters.  This means that in the first case, the government only needs about 3,000 votes to win while in the second case, the opposition wins but it uses up more of its supporters’ votes.  In fact, opposition candidate Tony Pua wins the Damansara parliamentary seat with 75% of the vote or a record supermajority of 107,000 votes.

3.  Shorten the election campaign period

Give the opposition little time to campaign by giving the minimum possible campaign period of 10 days before election.  Then also make the police require political parties to  apply for permission to hold rallies at least 5 days ahead of the event.

4. Make the Opposition party and its candidates illegal.

The opposition formed a coalition but the registrar of societies refused to formally register the opposition coalition in time for the election.  Some opposition candidates wishing to register as an election candidate were given wrong information about what they had to do and where and then told that they had missed the dateline for registration.

5. Stifle criticism and negative reports

First control all mainstream TV and radio stations. Next block many independent websites.  Also introduce a Anti-Fake News law just before the elections, that is sufficiently vague about what would be considered false news and threaten to use it to imprison anyone who shares “fake news” on FB or social media.

6. Make it difficult for voters to get to their voting stations.

Have the election on a Wednesday which is a working day and in the middle of the week.  Refuse to declare it a holiday to facilitate voters traveling to their hometowns to vote (this was finally overturned after public outcry).  “Coincidentally”, have road works and immigration computer glitches cause delays of hours at border crossings to deter large number of voters working in countries like Singapore from returning to vote.  Some people only managed the trip that normally takes only about 3-4 hours after repeatedly trying to cross over 3 days.  Also get the airlines to cancel or delay flights bringing voters back to Malaysia in the 1-2 days leading up to the election.

7. Sabotage Postal Votes.

Voters working or studying overseas and who are eligible to vote are supposed to be sent the ballot forms with sufficient time for them to post it back to their voting centre.  Instead, many did not receive it until it was too late to post or even courier them.  For example, voters in Hong Kong only received their ballot papers on the morning of the election day itself, and they would have to find a way to send it to their voting station in Malaysia by 5 pm that day.

But, despite this dirty tactic, Malaysians overseas got organised and a global network of volunteers carried most of the votes back in time.

8. Tamper with electoral rolls.

Some people who had not registered to vote were surprised that somebody had registered in their name and voted.  Often those allowed to votes are not even Malaysians.

9.  Stuff the ballot boxes.

A number of people were caught trying to enter ballot stations with large number of already marked ballot papers.

10. Increase the number of spoilt votes.

Some ballot station officials tried to get voters to use uncertified ballot papers.  Only certified ballot papers would be officially valid, the rest would be considered spoilt votes.

11. Buy votes

When there are no independent observers around, it is a small matter to stuff ballot boxes or buy votes.

12. Try to falsify the count.

The returning officer at each polling station is suppose to oversee the counting of the votes and then report the count on an official form which he/she is suppose to authorise by signing in the presence of observers.  In many cases, where the opposition had won, the returning officer had tried to get away without signing it (which would have allowed a different result to be sent to the main reporting centre).

13. Stall

Finally, when all the plans did not work out too well, stall, stall , stall.  The Election Commission quickly reported all the government victories but when it came to seats won by the opposition, delayed announcing results for up to 6 hours; probably to allow time for other dirty tricks to be attempted.  Independent websites posting the results of the vote counting were blocked.  Even when the results could no longer be denied, the Election Commission refuse to announce the winner.

 

Before the elections, in full anticipation of the actions of the Department of Dirty Tricks, I prayed to God to confound the schemes of the wicked and I believe God has answered that prayer cause it is quite the miracle that the government still lost the election despite all their nefarious schemes.

A couple of weeks earlier and I could not have written this post without falling foul of the Anti-Fake News law.  Just imagine.

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Malaysia : Re-Born 10th May 2018


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Dear Friends,

I am so elated, excited and over the moon.  After many days of prayer, sleepless nights and anxious moments, we got what we wanted.  A new Malaysia has emerged, reborn with a new sense of hope and destiny.  The results of the 14th General Election for Malaysia showed that the oppressive, divisive and corrupt incumbent government had been thrown out and for the first time ever (in 61 years), we have a change in government.

That this victory was achieved is miraculous when you consider how the odds were stacked up against the opposition parties.  The dirty tricks department had been hard at work on behalf of the government.  Not many had expected the opposition to win the elections.  Even the true believers were only hoping to scrape through.  But Malaysians flocked to the polling station on May 9th and achieved the unbelievable.  The land which has languished in darkness for so long is now enjoying the break of dawn.

Here are some highlights of what was achieved:

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If you are still not sure what has been going on, let me try to explain it in another way……

“Once upon a time, there was a Jedi and the force was strong with this one.  In fact, he was appointed the 4th Grand Master of the Jedi Order.  But having so much power began to sway him to the Dark Side.

When his first Padawan, began to challenge his authority, the Grand Master had him imprisoned.  Indeed, that was the fate of many who tried to defy him.

He then allowed his second Padawan to take over the reigns of the Empire.  But before long he was unhappy with his second Padawan for what he perceived as his weakness in showing tolerance to those who opposed the Order.

The old Grand Master then groomed his third Padawan to challenge his second Padawan for the throne and the third Padawan came to power.

But, under the influence of a woman who was the Dark Side personified, the third Padawan began to oppress, deprive and rob the citizens of the Republic on an epic scale.

The second Padawan who had previously been freed, tried to lead a Rebellion against him but was soon arrested and imprisoned again.

But the Rebellion did not die, selfless individuals carried on the fight for justice and righteousness for 10 long and difficult years.   The Empire had become so corrupt and so powerful, it seemed that it would last a thousand years.

Then, a new hope from and unlikely source.  The Grand Master himself (now 92 years old), pained to see what had become of his legacy, returned and joined the Rebellion.  And now, after 2 years of struggle, the Grand Master has led the Rebellion and the people to win the battle against the Dark Side.  With the third Padawan thrown down from power, the Grand Master has once again take control of the Republic.

With order and hope restored, the Grand Master will now release his first Padawan from prison and with the intention that he will eventually take over the duty of overseeing the well being  of the Republic, trusting him to govern wisely and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

THE END!

Surely that is worthy of a Hollywood movie!  Yes?

How about a Bollywood movie?  Make me an offer.

National Costume ……..Reboot


Dear gentle readers, Malaysia is making the news again.  This time it is over our choice for national costume,

You see, the annual meat market …….. er…. I mean, the Miss Universe Pageant is rolling round again and one section of the pageant requires the young ladies who are proudly representing their countries to dress up in their national costume.

Now Malaysia is blessed because we are a multiracial country with a rich heritage and inspiration for a national costume could come easily from any one of our many races and tribes.  So, once upon a time, you might expect something like the following;

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L to R:- Iban, Indian, Malay, Chinese, Kadazan

But apparently, in this the 66th year of the Pageant, traditional national costumes seem to have become a bit stale.  After all, how many variations of the same theme can one do?  There is always the pressure of grabbing attention by doing something new and fresh.

After all, Miss Universe Thailand won best national costume in 2015, not dressed in charming traditional garb but dressed like Bangkok’s ubiquitous Tuk-Tuk.

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So, inspired by Miss Thailand’s success, our very own Miss Malaysia (Samantha Katie James)  decided to get dressed up as Malaysia’s favorite breakfast called Nasi Lemak.

I kid you not.  The key ingredients of this tasty treat are steamed rice in coconut cream, fried anchovies and peanuts, egg, cucumber slices and spicy chilli sambal.  This delicious combination is usually served on banana leaf.  It looks like this…….

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Mmm…..mmmm…….delicious.

And here is the nasi lemak inspired dress……..

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Now isn’t that yummy…… I mean, pretty.  Oh, I don’t know, man, I’m drooling…… I mean, feeling hungry.

And controversy doesn’t end there.  Some netizens are also crying foul.  It seems Singaporeans and Indonesians feel that nasi lemak is theirs and not Malaysia’s.  Well, the dress is certainly getting attention!

The Lone Grey Squirrel only wants to know if the dress smells delicious too.

Being a Watchman


Things are bad in my country these days.  When I remember the country from the time of my youth and consider it now, the thought that comes to mind is “how far we have fallen”.  Corruption, racial disharmony, falling education standards, injustice and religious intolerance all seem to be on the march. Sure the country could be worse but it was certainly once a lot better.

For a number of years now, Christian leaders have been urging Christians to come together and pray and to take part in a 40 day fast for the nation; to cry out for God’s mercy and transformative power to restore the country.  In the past, my involvement in this had been rather patchy but this year, I am committed to take this seriously, to be a watchman for the nation as described in the bible (Ezekiel 3).  A watchman keeps watch and warns of danger.

Now, I am a novice at fasting.  Before this, I have only fasted a couple of times.  So, trying to fast for 40 days is a big deal.  I mention this not because I am seeking praise or recognition but to encourage all Christians to take on the role of watchmen and to pray for their countries with serious commitment.

How does one fast? Some I know refrain from eating for 24-48 hours at a time while others understand fasting as giving up something for that period like meat or chocolates or these days, even internet.  There is nothing magical about the act itself or the form that it takes.  My understanding of fasting is to refrain from eating and to give that time over to seek God, to wait on Him, to read His word, to pray and to listen.  The key is time in prayer with God.

For me, I try to give up one meal or sometimes two meals a day and spend 1-2 hours in prayer.  Currently, I have fasted 6 days out of the first 8 days.  Last Sunday, I attended a wedding and dinner and did not fast ……….and last Friday, I gave in to the weakness of my flesh.  Ahem.

But what I really want to share with you here is that despite the hunger pangs, it has been a wonderful experience.  Whenever we set apart time to be with God, He meets us and even as we pray for transformation and restoration for the country, He transforms and restores us.

So, I urge all Malaysian Christians to make the commitment to join the 40 day prayer and fast; it is our responsibility but it will also be our joy.  Most of us find it easy to criticise and to snipe at our leaders and to complain about conditions in our country and yet treat it like it is someone else’s problem and we don’t need to lift a finger.  That is wrong.  The country’s problems are our problems.  We are the country.  So instead of criticism and sniping, let us pray for our leaders and our country, for wisdom, integrity, grace and justice for all.  (click here to get the NECF booklet that guides our fasting, prayer and reflections for the 40 days)

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For readers from other corners of the world, pray too for your own countries and light up the darkness.

For other adventures of a fasting squirrel (some voluntary and some forced), read “Adventures in the Fast Lane“.

Bear Necessities -Revisited (Unburied Nuts)


Squirrels love to bury their precious nuts so as to uncover them later to enjoy at leisure. In the same way, this blog, from time to time, brings an old post back for another short period in the sun.  But this time, it is EXTRA SPECIAL.  The following post was about a sun bear rescue and rehabilitation centre and when I posted it back in January 2011, it was a very new work and the assistant keeper that I mentioned was still a graduate student.  Well, he is now Dr. Wong Siew Te and this month he was named as a CNN Hero.  Congratulations!

BEAR NECESSITIES (January 2011)

Recently I posted about the Orang Utan at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre on Borneo island.  However, I was privileged to have had a peek on he new conservation effort being carried out there – sun bears. Sun bears (Ursus malayanus), also known as honey bears, are found only in South-east Asia and are the smallest bear in the world.  adult bears stand only at about 1.2 metres.  Like the Orang Utan, many sun bears are displaced by forest clearing for development, orphaned by poachers or were kept as pet and later abandoned when they got too big.

I met Mr. X who was the assistant keeper who enthusiastically explained how they were trying to rehabilitate the bears so that they could be successfully returned to the wild.  Before they can be released, the young bears must be re-accustomised to the forest environment, must learn how to dig for food, climb trees and make nests to sleep in.   Mr. X also fondly explained the varied and fascinating character of his charges.

The bears are kept in cages either in small groups or singly.  Those in the cages by themselves are basically too grumpy to share a cage with other bears – there would be fighting.  I suppose it is no surprise that these loners were all male.   There was one cage with 4 young girls who all got on well with each other but even here there was a range of  personalities.  There was one girl who could be called the femme fatale cause she will appear friendly but go too close and she finds delight in ripping your trouser leg with her claws (too bad if you don’t wear trousers).  Mr. X had various scars to demonstrate that he learned all this the hard way.  On the other hand, there is Miss-Happy-go-lucky who seems to have a dumb smile for you in any situation.

Then I was introduced to two males who shared a cage.  These two get long together like best of pals but it is like the Odd Couple.  There is Mas who is quite bold where as Ah Chong is very timid.  Each cage has a door that opens outside into a fenced enclosure.  The door is opened for a few hours each day to encourage the bears to re-acquaint with the outdoors and forest.  Ah Chong was probably abused badly so he feels safe only in his cage.  Mas however, happily goes out as soon as the door opens and digs around for bugs to eat.  When Mas is gone, Ah Chong gets very anxious and hovers near the door to keep an eye out for his cage mate.  Later when Mas returns, Ah Chong gives him a bear hug and pushes Mas away fro the door and tries to keep Mas from going out again.  Interesting, no?

This work is in its infancy.  Hopefully the work will succeed though.  This squirrel would like to thank everyone who works hard to rehabilitate traumatized animals, including squirrels.

Bear Climbing – See the Characteristic White Marking and Those Long Claws
The Teenage Girls
Snooze Time

Civil Disobedience


I am sure that most of you have by now heard of the song Despacito by Luis Fonsi and featuring Justin Beiber.  This month it became the world’s most streamed song of all time with over 4.6 billion streams.  In fact, you have probably seen the video and heard the song so many times that you are beginning to lose your grip on sanity.  Everywhere you turn, the song or the video is playing for the umpteenth time.

Well, not in Malaysia.  If you need relief, come to Malaysia.  It is a Despacito free zone; at least you will not hear it on any government run radio station or see it on any government run or government related TV channels.  The Malaysian government, at the behest of self appointed religious police, has declared the song lyrics obscene and banned the song.

These are the same people who recently tried to ban the use of names like hot dogs, pretzel dogs, Coney dogs etc because it was offensive to those who considered dogs to be unclean.

Anyway, being a passive aggressive squirrel, I have decided to do an act of civil disobedience by posting this cover version of the song that is being played using the traditional Malay “gamelan” instruments – although it is by a group from  our neighbor, Indonesia.

………..because you just can’t stop the squirrel!  Hope you like it.

Cat Catcher


Two posts in a row on cats! What is wrong with the Lone Grey Squirrel? Has his little squirrely brain gone nuts …….more than usual?  Is it a case of cat scratch fever?

Editor’s Note:- Cat scratch fever is a real thing!  And just another reason to get rid of your cats and adopt squirrels instead. Just another public service announcement.

The cat that I refer to in this post is the palm civet cat.  It is also known as the toddy cat and in Malaysia as the “musang”.  It’s scientific name is Paradoxurus hermaphroditus.  However, just to confuse things, it is neither a true cat nor a hermaphrodite.  Confused yet ?

But all this is unimportant to the telling of this true story.

What you need to know is that the musang is about 40 in or 100 cm from nose to tail and that it can sometimes be seen in urban areas.  Being a nocturnal creature, it comes out under the cover of darkness and run across the roof of houses causing such a racket with their clawed feet that house owners are often awakened from slumber, thinking that a cat burglar is trying to gain entry.

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Palm civet a.k.a. Musang

I was once called to attend to a case involving the civet cat.  The cat had fallen down an airwell into a house and had found its way into the master bedroom.  Now trapped and panicky, it was running around scared, ripping the bedsheets with its claws and peeing and pooping all over the place.

The home owners knew me personally and knew that I was working as a science officer  at a nature conservation organisation and called me to come help them out.  It was meant to be a capture, relocate and release operation.

Now, we did have colleagues that were trained field biologists with practical experience in handling wild animals.  Unfortunately, they were all out at that time doing their thing in the jungle.  There was just Andy and me.  Andy was our PR guy and I was actually trained in microbiology which meant that the only thing I knew how to catch was the flu!

The house owners were placing their hopes and expectations on us.  Little did they know we both felt as scared and as panicky as the civet.  We had zero field experience and zero equipment with us other than a large burlap bag in which we hoped to capture the animal.  So there we were entering a room with an angry, scared and cornered wild animal and we all know a cornered animal is a dangerous one.  I was thinking, if it bites me, I will have to get painful rabies shots. Yikes.

What followed was like something out of Keystone Cops.  First we tried to get it to run towards us and the bag but when it started to run towards us, we dropped the bag and fled in fear.  Then we tried to jump on it with the bag but it flashed past us leaving us in a heap.  We tried chasing it but it ran way faster than us.  We tried driving it into a corner but it got so angry that our courage failed.

Eventually it ran under the bed and stayed there.  When we peered under the bed, we could make out its beady eyes in the darkness.  And we stared at each other for a very long time; both civet and humans glad to have a pause in the frantic running around.

Andy and I did not really want another round of chase the cat.  So we discussed what we would do instead and all the while the civet stayed put in the gloom under the bed.

That was when we had an eureka moment.  The civet cat felt safe under the bed not just because the bed was a physical barrier but because being a nocturnal animal, it would always prefer to seek the safety of darkness.

We went out and brought back a long cardboard box, a broom and a couple of strong torchlights.   We placed the box down with one end open.  We then took positions on either side of the bed and then at the count of three we both switched on our torchlights.  The civet had lost its dark hiding place and with the further inducement of a prodding broomstick, streaked out of there.  But where would it now go?  It ran straight into the safety of the dark interior of the box.

We quickly closed the box.  Ta-da.  Mission accomplished and I may add, the civet seemed to calm down quite a bit in its new dark sanctuary.  After that, we were able to transfer the animal to a forest reserve and release it without further drama.

We were both proud of our newly learned civet catching skill but strangely enough we were never ever called to use that skill again.

Oh, did I mention that though we escaped physical injury, we both stank to high heaven from being around the civet’s secretions.  There was a definite dip in social life for the near future. Yeah……on second thought, I am glad I never had to do it again.