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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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When I grow up…..


I think I must have seen at least a dozen American movies where some kid is told that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up.  Ah, yes.  Inspirational, motivational movies.

Now it's time to be whatever you want to be.

But is it true, dear readers?  What did you want to be when you were young and in the real world, did you get the support and encouragement to be what you wanted to be or did life slap you down?

My brother wanted to be a veterinarian in his teenage years as he loved animals.  My parents convinced a family friend who was a vet to have a heart to heart with my brother to convince him that it was a bad, bad career choice.  He was told, it was a dirty job with long hours spent with your arms deep inside some animals behind.  Unglamorous and really something only medical school rejects do.  Yup, and he made my parent’s happy when he decided on being a doctor instead.

In my case, my parents did not have to resort to such tactics.  I got my slap down from other sources.

After giving up the idea of being a superhero (couldn’t find any radioactive spiders), my very first dream was to grow up to be a psychologist.  My reasoning was sound.  I believed that I had a natural instinct about people; I was fascinated by what motivates people and unlike being a psychiatrist, a psychologist did not need to waste 5 years doing a medical degree and I hated blood.  What else could I possibly want to be?!?!

Well, a group of my friends decided to corner me and stage an intervention.  Basically, they had one important message for me…….”Are You MAD????”  The prevailing attitude to mental health issues in Malaysia at that time was to make nervous jokes and try to lock people away and hide the problem.  Patients and therapists were not highly regarded. Now normally, I wouldn’t have allowed them to do this but there was this cute girl that I wanted to get to know better and she was part of the intervention team and so……….

If only I was a trained psychologist, I would have know how to handle the situation better!

But later, I was certain that I wanted to be a scientist and not just any run of the mill scientist either.  I wanted to be a ‘mad’ scientist.

Now for my Biology course during ‘A’ levels (equivalent to American High School), I was required to do a science project as part of my final evaluation.  I proposed with enthusiasm a project in the area of development biology in which I would study what early life behaviours were instinctive or inherited or learned and whether they could be un-learned.  Without going into detail, suffice to say that it involved baby rats and some judicious application of rewards and positive reinforcements (food) and negative stimuli (electric shocks).

My teacher’s response was “Are You Blinking Mad?”  Well, I mean, that’s the whole point of being a mad scientist, isn’t it?  Anyway he refused to give me permission to do it.  Instead, I had to watch some plants grow ever so slowly under different light conditions which is exactly as boring as it sounds.  And so today I am not the mad scientist I wanted to be.  I blame my teacher.

Were your childhood aspirations similarly thwarted?  Who did this injustice to you?

Confession and Apology


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Not me! (Photo from Sweaterdoll)

In case you are wondering, that isn’t me.  It is kinda grey but it isn’t a real squirrel.  I KNOW!  Hard to believe, right?

He’s kind of my body double but he’s not very good at it cause he can’t reply to your comments.  Nope, the poor thing is illiterate.  Oh, and maybe he isn’t alive.

Either way, you are not going to get any response from him while I am traveling which is till the end of the month.  If you see new posts on this blog during this time, it’s probably a ghost writer that I hired to press the post button on some pre-written material.  Do not try to communicate with him.  He only responds on Ouija board and you don’t really want him haunting you.

So apologies in advance if you don’t get any responses to your comments. See you in December.

Fame, Fortune, Happiness


Did you ever play that old board game, “Careers”?

This game was devised by a sociologist, James Cooke Brown, and was first made and sold by Parker Brothers in 1955.  At the start of the game, each player decides and writes down his victory target which consists of collect points for fame, fortune or happiness.   Assuming at least 100 points (the original game used 60),  a capitalist player may choose a victory formula of say “fame=15; fortune= 70; happiness= 15”.  A narcissistic player may choose “fame= 60; fortune= 30; happiness= 10” but the player with the inner hippie might want “fame= 15; fortune= 5; happiness= 80”.  They then roll the dice and make their way around the game track, making career and life choices that help them reach their winning formula.  Some may want to choose high earning jobs, others an education and still others aspire to be beach bums – whatever works for them.

If we were to just take a moment to reflect on this concept, what might we say was the winning formula that we have actually chosen for our real lives?  What has been our combination of the three?  Which one has had our emphasis and which one have we allowed to starve in the darkness?

How does one decide?  Won’t it be great if I could be rich, famous and happy?  Even Linus knows what I mean….

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If I am honest, I think I have always wanted a life formula of Fame= 20; Fortune= 30; Happiness= 50.

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Did you achieve your target or has happiness given way to fortune or has fame (like winning the Nobel Prize for Science) been elusive?

What was your formula for success and how have you fared? Curious squirrels want to know.

Like in the Movies


Most of us like action movies.  The explosions, the guns blazing, the mayhem and usually the good guys win and they look cool doing it.  For a couple of hours we escape into a fantasy world of thrills without any bodily risks or consequences.

But as recent incidents around the world has demonstrated, it is completely awful when it happens in real life and impact real people.

This last couple of weeks, a couple of Hollywood type stories played out on the streets of my city, Kuala Lumpur; stories with drama, action, suspense and intrigue.

Abduction

Pastor Raymond Koh was driving his car on an errand to deliver a food gift to a friend who was about to travel abroad.  At least three black SUVs screeched in,  blocking off  the road and boxing in his car. Men with black balaclava masks poured out.  A couple of them stopped oncoming traffic and another was seen apparently filming the incident.  Pastor Raymond was forced into one of the SUVs and the three vehicles then sped away together.  He has been missing since the 13th of February.

Pastor Raymond is active in a number of Christian charities and was the founder of Harapan Kommuniti (Community Hope) which holds free tuition classes for children and English lessons for adults from low income groups.  In 2011 though, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), in a controversial move, raided a community thanksgiving and fundraising dinner at a church and accused Pastor Raymond’s organisation of proselytising Muslims.

There has been no ransom demand or any communication from the abductors and despite numerous eyewitnesses and CCTV footage, the police have not reported any progress in their investigation.

Many Malaysians (including me) have been praying daily for his safe return.

Assassination

Our international airport was the ground on which our tale of international intrigue and skullduggery occurred; real James Bond stuff.  A Korean man traveling under the name of Kim Choi was making his way across the airport concourse to catch his flight to Macao when two young women approached him from different directions and appear to reach from behind and cover his face with a chemically laced cloth.  They then left as quickly in opposite directions.  After seeking help,  the man collapses and dies shortly later.

It is now believed that Kim Choi is actually Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  The two women have been identified and arrested.  One is a Vietnamese national and the other an Indonesian.  The Indonesian woman claims she was approached by some men and paid to carry out what she had been told was a prank for a TV show.  Police have also arrested a Malaysian man and a North Korean man.  Interpol has been asked to help hunt down four other North Korean men who left the country the same day as the incident.   The North Korean government has also objected to the autopsy investigation.
Malaysia continues to be making the news for all the wrong reasons.  Come on 2017, start getting better.
I will keep praying for Pastor Raymond and for Malaysia.  However, I promise to nudge 2017 along in the right direction by having more positive posts in the next couple of weeks.

S for Shilpa, F for Fun


Well, there’s been a lot of bad news of late.  I think we are all overdue to have some FUN for a change and right on cue, famous Bollywood actress and celebrity, Shilpa Shetty, has come to our rescue. God bless her.

During an interview, she commented on the decision by Indian authorities to include Harry Potter books as part of the school syllabus.  She thought it was a great idea and threw in a suggestion or two of other books that would be a boon to young minds. (see picture below).

Image result for shetty animal farm

Inspired by her views on Little Women and Animal Farm, the internet wags have been a bit merciless in developing the theme of books that should be included in the reading programs of our children.  Here are some great suggestions;

Fifty Shades of Grey – an amazing colouring book. Children will  love it.

The Life of Pi – should be read by all children as it will enhance their mathematical skills.

Mein Kampf – is a nice guide on camping and other outdoor activities.

The Hobbit – is good.  All children should be encouraged to develop good hobbits.

Anyway, this squirrel pondered over the books in his library to see what books I might recommend too.  I came up with the following;

Gone with the Wind – learning about the fury of Nature and the power of tornados.

Stephen King’s IT – Never too young to start learning about computers.

The Maze Runner – sharpen your child’s mind with this giant book of crosswords, puzzles and mazes.

The Name of the Rose – introduce your child to the wonders of gardening and horticulture with this guide book to the hundreds of rose species.

V for Vendetta – the classic children’s alphabet book but with an updated and relevant twist. (A is for Apple Inc., B is for Brexit…….. Z is for Zika)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – teaching children about different career choices for when they grow up.

But  totally, totally NOT RECOMMENDED is Moby Dick.

Perhaps, dear readers, you have other books that you might suggest?

 

Resistance is Futile


Okay….. things are a bit slow here and I am having writer’s block.  So I sat here thinking about what to post about.  Thinking…..thinking…..and thinking…….and then some more thinking……. and NOTHING!

So in times like this, I am thankful for posts that I read, which I can sample.  Here is something I came across on someone’s Facebook.  Clearly, the lady has attained wisdom; enlightenment even.  I can only hope that you, dear readers, will follow in her footsteps.

squirrel rockyYes…..stop resisting.  Resistance is futile.