Do the Batik Walk, Mr. Obama

By Farish A. Noor

With the hopes of the world apparently pinned upon his shoulders, Barrack Obama will have a lot of things on his mind in the months and years to come for certain. The news that the interrogations at Guantanamo Bay might be suspended for a period of 120 days already sends out the right signals that the man intends to deliver upon his promises, and that cannot be a bad thing for anyone for what was promised was a new America that should play a humbler, moderating role in world affairs.

But let us be somewhat circumspect and realistic in our expectations for now. While many of us would like to see the man succeed, Barrack Obama is just another American President who has – for now – served us a tantalising wish-list that as sweet as it is appealing to many.

But we have also had our share of American Presidents who spoke at length about the promotion of human rights and democracy across the world, only to have our hopes dashed on the hard rocks of realpolitik when it became painfully evident that their focus was more on the Soviet bloc and the enemies of the United States.

Jimmy Carter got the ball rolling after the Helsinki accord of 1975 when he spoke of America’s mission to rid the world of authoritarianism and despotic rule; but it was the same administration that did little to help the people of Indonesia and the Philippines as they lived under the heels of two of the most corrupt and authoritarian pro-American despots, Ferdinand Marcos and General Suharto.

So let us see whether Obama can actually deliver on what he has promised, and let us keep our fingers crossed that he will not turn into another froth-producing American leader who is long on rhetoric but pitifully short on substance.

What can Obama do to improve the image of the United States overseas? Well, for a start he can start walking. American policy makers and congressmen and uniquely short of knowledge and first-hand experience of living abroad and the impression that I have been left with after every single encounter with an American politician is how ignorant they are about the world beyond their borders.

Obama, with his colourful past and unique family history, is in a position to play a singularly unique role by being both the President of the United States and the country’s best and most recognisable ambassador. All Mr Obama has to do is buy a batik shirt (a loose-fitting one from ebay will do) and do the Mandela walk. In the wake of his release from prison Nelson Mandela was perhaps the most famous and iconic emblem of the new post-apartheid era and most certainly the most famous South African who ever lived.

Barrack Obama can do the same thing for he enjoys one thing that no American President has ever had: instant recognition and appeal worldwide. In places like Indonesia he is loved by millions who claim his victory as their own; while across Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Arab world the very fact that an African-American has become the President of the USA has given succour to millions of poor, disenfranchised subaltern minorities to aim as high as well. It is not an underestimation or exaggeration to claim that Obama may even be more popular abroad than he is in his own country, and whatever his record may be in the future, he is for now the darling of many in the developing world.

Should that batik shirt arrive in the mail and should Mr Obama decide to wear it and do the Mandela walk abroad, he must try to convince the world that an America that can elect an African-American in its quest for change can also change for the better. Decades of misrule and violent unilateralism during the dark years of Bush senior and junior has done untold damage to the image and credibility of the USA as a superpower that presents itself as benign when its former ambassadors of goodwill came in the form of B-52 bombers and cruise missiles. And no, we do not believe the rhetoric of American Presidents who talk about human rights abroad while denying the same rights to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay or even American citizens themselves.

The use and abuse of the ‘war on terror’ rhetoric by the Bush Junior administration has allowed repressive governments worldwide to summarily arrest, detain, eliminate, erase and torture countless individuals who themselves were legitimate opposition politicians, activists, academics, journalists, students and citizens. During the Bush era all these human rights abuses across Asia, Africa and the Arab world were legitimised by pro-American governments that paid lip service to Bush’s war on terror while really using the campaign as a pretext for even more repression.

You may not realise this, Mr Obama, but the Guantanamo Bay prison complex and the Patriot Act that was passed by your predecessor was even used as an excuse and legitimation for detention without trial in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and all across Africa and the Arab states. Now that you have set the example by halting the abuses that have been taking place at Guantanamo bay, can you please hop on the next flight to the countries allied to the USA and remind these dictators that the bad old days of torture and arbitrary arrests, detentions and extra-judicial killings have come to an end as well?

There is not guarantee that Obama will be able to undo the damage that has been done to America’s image thanks to the violent militaristic unilateralism of previous administrations; and not even any guarantee that he can bring about a reversal in the slide of the US economy. But if he can at least re-inject some degree of moral credibility and consistency in the ethical conduct of international politics and compel the allies of the USA to live up to the standards of ethical governance he wishes to provide to his fellow Americans, that would be good enough. So do the Mandela walk, Mr Obama, and walk the walk while talking the talk.

  1. #1 by mendela on Thursday, 22 January 2009 - 9:55 pm

    Obama said below in his inaugural speech

    //To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.//

    To all Umnoputras and Mamakthiu, pls hear it loud and clear!

  2. #2 by OrangRojak on Thursday, 22 January 2009 - 10:27 pm

    Welcome back Farish, nice article.

  3. #3 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 22 January 2009 - 10:38 pm

    “…. can you please hop on the next flight to the countries allied to the USA and remind these dictators that the bad old days of torture and arbitrary arrests, detentions and extra-judicial killings have come to an end as well?”

    Oh yeah?? Like demanding that the UMNO run governemnt sets a time line to free all those detained without trial – like say within one year??

  4. #4 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 22 January 2009 - 10:55 pm

    The newly appointed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should issue directives to U.S. Department of State officials that in order to show goodwill to the Malaysian government book their seats on MAS flights out of JFK International. But in case they come into contact with Malaysian passengers who do not particularly cherish the thought of having to sit next to infidels for the long flight home, to ignore them – or smile more at them for Malaysians like to smile a lot. Who says Malaysians are not friendly? They are only not friendly to each other.

  5. #5 by Johnny Cheah on Thursday, 22 January 2009 - 11:17 pm

    YB LKS, that was a good article on America and it’s past Presidents. I can only hope and pray that President Obama will read what you write in your blog. What you wrote are facts and if the new President can follow your advise then it will be good for America and the world as a whole. YB LKS, why not write something about the UMNO/BN goons also

  6. #6 by alaneth on Thursday, 22 January 2009 - 11:56 pm


    MAS don’t fly to JFK, it flies to Newark (EWR)…
    and no U.S. Department of State officials ever flies MAS as far as I know.

    Better to get AirAsia to eventually fly to the US. But first, let’s get into the US visa-waiver list first then talk later. We are at a 7% visa-rejection rate, better than the recent qualifying rate of 10%, but it is very very difficult for a Muslim country to get into this elite list. Brunei has done it anyway. So Malaysia boleh??? The administration of Barack Hussein Obama may be the best chance for Malaysia ever to get this visa-waiver.

  7. #7 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 12:08 am

    The greatest problem facing humanity is the issue of DENIAL. We always see the side of picture we had wanted to see and then blame the other for not seeing the picture as we wanted to see it! It takes two hands to clap. If we happen to be a member of a club which obviously preached something not only preposterous but total denial of others’ rights, how do we tell the others that the real meaning is between the lines??
    Such denial will never resolve any issue, most of all if it an issue dealing with an unseen relationship between the Creator and His creation! The mad desire to try to lead others to eternity when most of you are unable to fend for yourselves is something beyond logic and comprehension!

  8. #8 by kcl on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 12:18 am

    …..\Who says Malaysians are not friendly? They are only not friendly to each other.\ -Undergrad2-

    Very true and very well said!!!

  9. #9 by wanderer on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 12:30 am

    Hey, hey! Did you hear what our PM in waiting said, “The law of the country is the law of the country…..” insinuating no one is above the law. So we live in a fair and just country and does not fall under a evil govt that oppresses her people. Obama need not be concern with Malaysia…we have a govt that share the same wave length with his ideals.

  10. #10 by monsterball on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 12:36 am

    So many problems at home.
    Why can’t we choose subjects..from so many at home.. to discuss…benefiting to our country…and for young readers learn and prepare themselves for next election.

  11. #11 by OrangRojak on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 1:35 am

    monsterball: Why can’t we choose subjects from … home
    That’s what people are saying on the BBC’s Have Your Say about Obama as well!

    What do you want to talk about? Intel closing Malaysian factories? Malaysia blocking foreign workers?

    I asked a stupid question recently about ‘ethical advertising’. It’s hard to start a newspaper in Malaysia, but could DAP raise funds by distributing a completely apolitical, advertising-only mailshot? I mean something unaddressed, like Pos Malaysia’s AdMail. I wonder if there would be sufficient demand from DAP supporters and MSM-wary advertisers to get it off the ground. It would be nice to be able to compete with pro-Government rags, but that’s not an option.

    With a 5-year term, I fear many young readers will imagine they will be old already by the time the next election comes.

  12. #12 by Onlooker Politics on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 2:33 am

    “Now that you have set the example by halting the abuses that have been taking place at Guantanamo bay, can you please hop on the next flight to the countries allied to the USA and remind these dictators that the bad old days of torture and arbitrary arrests, detentions and extra-judicial killings have come to an end as well?” (Farish A. Noor)

    This imperative call upon President Obama to react in favour of the suppressed and the oppressed in the authoritarian country or totalitalian country really comes at the right time. Unfortunately, Malaysia seemed to have just launched a “Boycott American” campaign recently and the Selangor Police was responding fast in disobedience by having allegedly committed another case of extra-judicial killing on a car theft suspect who belonged to the ethnic group of Malaysian Hindu.

    Some Christian preachers of pacifism had been trying to preach the Christians to obey the authority even though the authority might have imposed certain torture or ill-treatment on the Christians, since it was said in the bible that the punishment from the authority is the wrath of God. However, these preachers tended to ignore the truth that God is also the consuming fire. Sometimes God will just appoint another authority to eliminate the current authority who has already lost the anointing from God. Sometimes the elimination process may require the appointed authority to invoke some economic sanction and to send armed forces troops as the ways and means in order to accomplish the task of removing the devilish authority who has already lost the mandate.

    By looking at the photos of the body of a 22-year-old youth who died in police custody at Taipan (Subang Jaya) Police Station, we could only draw a conclusion that some unrighteous men’s wicked heart had been further hardened immediately after President Obama’s making promise to close down the detention centre at Guantanamo bay. It seems that there will be no hope for us to put an end to what Farish A. Noor refers to as “the bad old days of torture and arbitrary arrests, detentions and extra-judicial killings” unless the unrighteous authority has been replaced with the righteous authority.

    So, all folks from Pakatan Rakyat, do you want to be the righteous men in the eyes of God? If the answer is “yes”, then will all you guys please get prepared early in order to fight bravely in the coming Sarawak State Election?

  13. #13 by Loh on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 4:54 am

    ///Jimmy Carter got the ball rolling after the Helsinki accord of 1975 when he spoke of America’s mission to rid the world of authoritarianism and despotic rule; but it was the same administration that did little to help the people of Indonesia and the Philippines as they lived under the heels of two of the most corrupt and authoritarian pro-American despots, Ferdinand Marcos and General Suharto.///– Farish A. Noor

    President Bush undertook the regime change for Iraq under the wrong basis of ‘war against weapons of mass destruction’, and the debate of whether he did or did not help the people of Iraq will continue.

  14. #14 by Kathy on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 7:24 am

    The only thing that Bush actually help with the invasion of Iraq is helping himself to the stockpiles of oil and getting his own soldiers killed in the process.

    Now with the orders of President Obama, Guantanamo Bay is being ordered to be closed within a year. Let us see if that becomes a reality by year end.

  15. #15 by Jeffrey on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 7:54 am

    Obama, do the Mandela Walk, not the Batik Walk! Mandela’s walk from prison straight to government house is powerful symbolism of an epic Life’s struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph over an environment of corruption and oppression.

    In contrast the latter, whilst promoting our local Batik industy worldwide would only make richer politically connected cronies who control it !

    Credit goes to the average American voter & Media. They make Obama’s political ascendency possible. Whether Obama could achieve much remains to be seen. What is important is that he made it. This is because of what he represents: hope for change.

    Everywhere, we’re confronted with examples of the powerful and corrupt few (whether persons or nations) oppressing the multitudes. Everywhere people placed in power focus on their self interest and ignore the interest of those who placed them in power.

    Yah, people can still vote but they’re disenfranchised. They can voice their opinions but they have to be guarded in what they voice or be silenced. There is freedom of speech but not often freedom after speech.

    In many countries, the racial, religious and crony capitalistic policies of governments prick the conscience of all men of good will and arouse their deepest indignation but yet they could do nothing to change what appears the Human Condition ever since the first sin committed by Adam & Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden!

    There is therefore a universal yearning for change – change from this Human Condition (the humdrum & routine) where multitudes are powerless against oppression, deceit of power whether governmental or corporate), racial and religious bigotry. It is an idea whose time has come.

  16. #16 by Jeffrey on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 7:55 am

    Barrack Obama (according to Farish) served us “a tantalising wish-list” because he is a symbol of change – a change in the sense that (firstly) a black/coloured person of the Christian faith with a Buddhist stepsister, two Muslim fathers, relatives in Africa and Asia as well as distant European ancestors (the very embodiment of multi-racialism) can break the glass ceiling of racial prejudice to rise up to the highest office; and (secondly) the young at 47 can assume the highest governmental office that worldwide, by and large, are reserved by the elderly the octogenarians valued for their Machiavellian experience, so to speak.

    Experience will teach how one gets that far but it is the dynamism, courage, imagination, and malleability to change of Youth that will show the direction next to go in order to break the strangehold of the Human Condition !

    It was for the same reasons two years before Obama was born, Americans expressed the yearn for change to vote in JF Kennedy.

    Similarities between them are striking: Kennedy was 43, when elected as first Roman Catholic president (as Obama is first black president). Both are Havard Alumnis. Obama took young and talented 27 year old Jon Favreau as his chief speechwriter – as JFK then took Ted Sorensen as speech writer. Not surprisingly the Obama campaign recruited Ted Sorensen, help him drive this connection with JFK. And Obama’s inaugural speech borrowing a phrase, alliteration, cadence of expression or two, resonated JFK’s “Let the words go forth that the torch has been passed on to a new generation”!

    Khairy Jamaluddin may in longer run yet realise his ambition to hold the most powerful position of this country if he takes a leaf from th e lesso n s drawn from how JFK & Obama ascended to power by embodying the aspirations for change, an idea whose time has come once again, an opportunity seized by the American electorate, a theme played out by the American media (CNN).

  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 8:10 am

    Of course Khairy ‘s greatest obstacle : Malaysian electorate are no American electorate; equal opportunity to recruit the brightest and the best amongst all is not the motto here – and change and solution to eradicate systemic corruption is not by way of more democratic, liberal and inclusive policies of accountability and transparent (secular) governance but more inward looking and exclusive religious/theocractic policies of chopping the hands of those who steal in Merdeka Square. :)

  18. #18 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 8:40 am

    alaneth Says:

    Yesterday at 23: 56.12

    MAS don’t fly to JFK, it flies to Newark (EWR)…
    and no U.S. Department of State officials ever flies MAS as far as I know.”

    My bad! MAS flies only to Newark Liberty International (formerly Newark Airport renamed since 9/11).

  19. #19 by wanderer on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 8:41 am

    UMNO-BN govt can send Botak Syed Albar the HM, to the American embassy, to demand America to better behave and ignore our human rights abuses in Bolehland or we ask our senior politician Tun Mamak, to boycott all American goods. How about that for a starter!

  20. #20 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 8:42 am

    moderating mechanism is not working the way it should be …

  21. #21 by sotong on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 9:04 am

    Obama or no Obama……business is as usual in Capitol Hill for a long time to come.

    Change will come very slow and it is difficult to dig themselves out of a deep hole they created.

  22. #22 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 9:04 am

    “Barrack Obama (according to Farish) served us “a tantalising wish-list” because he is a symbol of change – a change in the sense that (firstly) a black/coloured person of the Christian faith with a Buddhist stepsister..” Jeffery

    Why the emphasis on ‘Buddhist’?

    Her father Lolo Soetoro was Indonesian Muslim (not particularly religious being Javanese). Her in-laws are Malaysians from Sabah living in Canada and Konrad Ng (her husband) a born Chinese Canadian. What does that make Obama to his step-sister’s daughter Suhaila – if not an uncle with a niece who is part Malaysian?

  23. #23 by monsterball on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 9:17 am

    OrangRojak….My message was directed to Farish A Noor.
    However… got the point. Yes why not?
    As root of every success or failures….of a human being starts with right attitude and mentality….excellent writer like Farish A Noor can understand…Education system is the root of it all.
    I don’t mean..put it out…for everyone to criticize present system…obviously failing to deliver.
    Giving suggestions….what subjects…to study and why……….how to solve shortage of good teachers….all these are swept under the carpet….by UMNO.
    If you look at most of Malaysians studying …overseas …come back…seem smarter than local ones.
    Is that true and why so.
    You see…..we have so much to correct ourselves….why be like clever to judge and talk about others.
    However….all of us are not leaders …just commentators…releasing our brainwaves….to response to the post.
    That’s Ok!! But I consider the main writer…….like Farish or any political leader.. words uttered……should be thoughtful to teaching youngsters… open their minds for right knowledge….more important than anything else.
    I hope I am right.

  24. #24 by ctc537 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 9:29 am

    No other US President has visited Malaysia apart from President Johnson who did so in 1968 when Tunku Abdul Rahman was the Prime Minister. Should President Obama pay an official visit here one day it will no doubt inspire further change in our country.
    President Obama is just like an recent US Presidents His main duties are to protect American interests overseas, continue the policy of American world hegemony, etc. The world must not expect Obama to do miracles on their economic well-being. They have to be rational, pragmatic and hardworking, like what the Korean, the Taiwanese and the mainland Chinese have been doing for the past 30 years or so. If they continue to bank their unrealistic hope of a powerful and pro-developing world US President, then they will be in for a disappointment.
    In the years to come, one can expect the US to take care of its own interests more and more, and will use all its resources in order to ‘remake’ America. The US knows that the world is no longer under their feet. They have to deal with a united Europe, rising and formidable powers such as China, etc.

  25. #25 by Bigjoe on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 9:39 am

    So the main argument is that Barack Obama has popular appeal? As if its the masses that are terrorists, want the destruction of Israel, stealing and oppressing their own people?

    Obama may be popular but he is handicapped because he has no strong relationships to the established powers to move agendas of the elites that really control the issues.

    Obama need to reinforce his foreign policy team before he can really tackle the issues otherwise, he is heading nowhere. Its not like his Canadian Brother in law or his half-sister can go to Arab world and ask them to to stop funding and arming Hamas and Hezbollah!!! Hell, I doubt they can get Indonesian and Malaysia radicals to do so…

  26. #26 by k1980 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 10:09 am

    Today Obama is receiving as much hype as John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), the thirty-fifth President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. However, let’s hope that Obama will not turn out be be another monster like JFK, who despite serving only 2 years as President, started the Vietnam War and the Cuban missile crisis with Krushchev. George W Bush is an angel compared to JFK.

  27. #27 by i_love_malaysia on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 10:16 am

    We are funny people who are looking towards the President of the USA for leadership, but we are not going to listen and accept their formula of success!!! We always use all kinds of excuses not to accept their suggestions or opinion by saying that our country is different in this and that, but we are still asking for solution from them!!! It would be more logical that if we think that we are different in many ways and the formula or solution given by them are not applicable, it would be better that we come out with our own solution!!! Man will fail you but True God will not!!! Dont always look to man for answer but God!!!

  28. #28 by alaneth on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 10:28 am

    Bush visited Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore many times & even Indonesia.

    Even in APEC 1998, Clinton didn’t visit Malaysia but sent Al-Gore instead. Why US Presidents don’t want to visit Malaysia? Are they afraid of Mahathir?

    They only send Sec of State Condi on the Palestinian issue.

    I bet Obama will also not visit Malaysia – but he’ll pay a visit to Indonesia. He’ll visit S’pore later this year on APEC.

  29. #29 by i_love_malaysia on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 10:28 am

    Sometimes, wars were not avoidable. Who knows Malaysia might be a communist country by now if not because of Vietnam war??? no body knows what history will be if certain actions were not taken at certain time in history!!! Some systems are perfect, but the people are not!!! Some people are almost perfect but systems are not!!! We have to change the govt that the majority have elected by our own actions and not looking towars USA for their helping hands to change the govt of the day!!!

  30. #30 by monsterball on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 10:29 am

    Off the subject!
    The death of the car thief in prison was reported by police due to water in the lings.
    So many photos are showing…the dead person whole body had multiple bruises…fresh one..with blood still seen…like being severely tortured.
    Suddenly..body cremated….case closed.
    Back door negotiation….successful done?
    Based on the photos..if poor young man of 23 years old…so healthy and strong..died….something is very wrong in prison.
    And almost all deaths…have water in lungs…the last grasp of life….by very weak person…cannot urinate cannot sneezed out ..catching flu …due to ice cold treatments…naked..and so call drowned with water.
    Any idiot know this.

  31. #31 by Saint on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 10:33 am

    Many Indians are being killed in Malaysian police lockups, and that is more worring then what Obama will or will not do.

  32. #32 by monsterball on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 10:57 am

    If one pay attention to Barack Obama inaugural speech as President..he did choose Asian corrupted governments and warn them…particularly and precisely to UMNO.
    Sure UMNO guys like Mahathir ..Dollah and especially Najib…can read between the lines.
    Only fools like us..cannot.

  33. #33 by k1980 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:00 am

    Can a survey be carried out on:

    (1) the number of Gitmo inmates who died during interrogations from 2002-2008

    (2)the number of Malaysians who died during interrogations in police stations from 2002-2008

    and the findings sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague?

  34. #34 by dawsheng on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:08 am

    Barrack Obama is only one man elected as President by the American people. Whether he succeed in fulfilling his promises very much depends on how he will be using the mandate Americans have entrusted to him. If we think Obama is going to lead Americans out of its misery without the active participation of American people every inches of the way, I doubt anything is going to happen. I personally think it is not Barrack Obama has to answer to the world, it is Americans.

  35. #35 by dawsheng on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:13 am

    Bush will not go to Afghanistan and Iraq to wage wars without the backings of Americans. It is only after the wars was proven to be disastrous that all the blames were pinned on Bush. Can Americans stop being hypocrites?

  36. #36 by Jeffrey on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:39 am

    “However, let’s hope that Obama will not turn out be be another monster like JFK, who despite serving only 2 years as President, started the Vietnam War and the Cuban missile crisis with Krushchev” – k1980 Today at 10: 09.36 (52 minutes ago)

    There is however another interpretation to JFK’s actions if one believes his rhotoric, for examples:

    · “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind” -.Address before the General Assembly of the United Nations (25 September 1961)

    · On world peace, “What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children — not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women — not merely peace in our time but peace for all time” -Address at American University, Washington D.C. (10 June 1963)

    Many people believe JFK a man for peace. However like he said, for free men it must not be peace of the grave. For peace to prevail one sometimes have to go to war to preserve longer time peace. History is replete with many examples.

    When Hitler expanded territory (lebensraum) to Austria, no one took action, which only encouraged him to proceed next to annex in 1938 Sudetenland a region in Czechoslovakia that had never been part Germany.

    Appeasement in name of peace encourages further aggression. One has to draw the line, if necessary, engage in war to preserve peace.

    JFK said “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty” – Inaugural address, Washington D.C. (20 January 1961)

  37. #37 by Jeffrey on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:39 am

    When Hitler’s empire collapsed, we know western forces and Red army grabbed territories in Europe that become western Europe and Eastern Europe under the expanded Soveit Union. It precipitated the Cold War in which both sides had nuclear capabilities.

    Cuban Missile Crisis was due USSR Khruschev/Kremlin installing building up missiles in satellite Cuba that American reconnaisance planes identified.

    The missiles were directed at vthe US. Do we expect JFK not to act?

    Khruschev wanted to bully young JFK to see if he had the mettle to stand up against this provocation.

    Yet JFK acted with restraint. He could have ordered a first morning strike against Cuban missiles. That would have killed civilian innocents. It would be reminicent of the Japanese sneak attack in wee hours of Peral Harbour. So JFK ordered a naval blockade, so that Soviet frigates bringing missile parts could not effected delivery. Khruschev backed off. Conflict was averted, and Khruschev’s bullying tactics neutralised.

    These are historical facts : JFK did right.

    However we’re not sure about Vietnam. It was same mould of thinking – that Communist China like Soviet Union (two monolithic Communist giants out to expand geopolitical influence using proxies), in the case of Mao’s China using Vietnam to expamnd Communism to rest of South East Asia. So it is true JFK was the first to send American combatants in under disguise of “advisers” though it was Lydon Johnson and Nixon who escalated the war in Vietnam.

    Bush War on Terror after 9/11 is upon same premise : take the war to source from which your enemies get inspiration to attack you. If you don’t, in the name of Peace, you’ll get no Peace because whilst you sleep/rest, they are encouraged to plan and prepare to attack you.

    So where does one draw the line who is the war monger or peace monger when pursuit of peace sometimes requires the prosecution of war?

  38. #38 by fairplay500 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 12:40 pm

    Did you know that President Obama can speak Indonesian? Watch:

    That cool!!

  39. #39 by dawsheng on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 12:49 pm

    I’ll be naive to think that Mr Obama has the capabilities to end the clash of civilizations.

  40. #40 by owlz on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 1:04 pm

    Democrats strengthened their majorities in both houses
    of Congress in US elections, picking up five more seats
    in the Senate and adding at least 18 more seats in the
    House of Representatives…
    The next session of Congress will include 45 Jewish
    lawmakers, a new record, after Democrats Alan Grayson
    of Florida and John Adler of New Jersey took two House
    seats from the Republican column…
    The House will have 32 Jewish members. Only the class
    of 1990 had more Jewish members – 34 – but there were
    fewer Jewish senators at the time…
    American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are Jews who are
    American citizens or resident aliens… The United States
    is home to the largest or second largest Jewish
    community in the world depending on religious
    definitions and varying population data…
    p/s: America can change..? I dont think so… It will still be
    the second Land Of Israel… In Thalmud (Jewish Holy Book)
    they call it Erezt Ezrael, in Quran (Muslim Holy Book)
    they call it Baitul-Maqdis and in the Bible they call it
    Jerusalem, Holy Land – Tanah Suci in Malay…

  41. #41 by owlz on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 1:06 pm

    The Jewish lobbiest in US congress are majority.
    They are the lawmakers. The rule the world by proxy.

  42. #42 by Jeffrey on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 1:36 pm

    dawsheng in his posting 12: 49.37 is right to say that it is too early to think Mr Obama has the capabilities to end the clash of civilizations. He serves the symbolism of change but how the change, we don’t know. As a politician he could talk like a liberal about human and civil rights issues, habeas corpus for detainees, shutting down Guantanamo Bay, Iraq war a mistake, to have all combat troops removed from Iraq in 16 months, by the summer of 2010 etc…

    Now is different : he is given access to all confidential CIA files and intelligence dossiers of Al Qaeda and the Taliban operatives and agents, analysis of threats posed to national security by a nuclear Iran etc Hamas, the combat unreadiness of Iraqis (like South Vietnamese when Americans pulled out) that as a politician before becoming president, he didn’t have access….

    But politician will have also talked something else to cover a change in stance.

    One recalls that in the final part of the campaign, he had also come out strongly in favor of beefing up the war in Afghanistan and pursuing Al Qaeda….

    Whilst in his inaugural speech “to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect”, it is subject to an overarching earlier caveat “we will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

  43. #43 by fairplay500 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 1:40 pm

    Hey owlz,

    How many non-muslims or for the matter non bumis do you have in the government of Malaysia? How many,I call them citizens, people born in Malaysia are treated as non-citizens? What is this crap “red IC” Cleanup up your racist country first. If not for Jews you will probably be living on trees.

  44. #44 by drngsc on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 2:15 pm

    Hi Farish,
    Give him a chance. 100 days would be reasonable. I am sure secretly, in many of our hearts, we also wish for a change. I sincerely wish that Mr Obama will succeed.

  45. #45 by i_love_malaysia on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 2:24 pm

    Whether they are jews, chinese, indians or malays that were elected into the congress or house in USA are elected by the American people to be their representative!!! It is people’s rights to choose who they want, whether black or white President!!! It is only those who always think that only their own kind will protect their own interest irregardless whether they are competent, trust worthy etc. were elected to represent them in the parliament instead of choosing the most qualify!!! Lets grow up!!!

  46. #46 by i_love_malaysia on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 2:29 pm

    Please bear in mind that Obama is not the Messiah!!!

  47. #47 by OrangRojak on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 3:05 pm

    Please bear in mind that Obama is not the Messiah!!!
    Sure or not? Jesus was black!

    Better watch Desmond Tutu’s body language when Obama visits South Africa…

  48. #48 by monsterball on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 4:25 pm

    Jeffery..I think Vietnam.. war by the so call.”Dymino” period…where USA and Russia were fighting world power.
    USA knew…if Vietnam fell into the hands of Russia..whole of S.E.A will be dominated and conquered by Russia.
    But the day USA stepped into is a war against China’s historical blood brothers.
    That was a war…Ho Chin Min and Mao Tze Tung..showed American…brains won over powerful enemies.
    Yes..before USA fought Vietnam…they use usual bullshits poker bluff characters….to have the fight there…with or without UN approval.
    I heard China trained and made more than a million Chinese soldiers talk and behave like Vietnamese…..confusing US..kill and capture so many…yet thousands are still alive.
    The famous underground tunnels…made Vietnam won the war.
    I suddenly remember how Britain lost to the Zulus…British with guns and cannons..Zulus with spears and guts.

  49. #49 by i_love_malaysia on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 5:03 pm

    It doesnt matter whether Jesus was black or white!!! Look beyond skin colour and you will see the beauty of every colour!!! Just like BLACK HOLE, it is powerful!!!

  50. #50 by Ramesh Laxman on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 6:05 pm

    We Malaysians are too much. We demand too much from foreign leaders and ask so little from our own leaders. See, we put so much pressure on the PM of that ‘Little Country” near us and their GDP is now almost equal to us.

    I think we must demand a an equally high standard from our leaders.

  51. #51 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 6:41 pm

    JFK started the Vietnam War?? You guys don’t know your history!

    The Gulf of Tokin incident (Vietnamese tropedo boats attackiing a U.S. destroyer in the Guld of Tonkin) an act of war, was during LBJ’s presidency.

  52. #52 by BoycottLocalPapers on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 7:26 pm

    I think Malaysian Muslims like Obama because of his Muslim father and Muslim stepfather and his Arabic name while non-Muslim Malaysians like Obama because he gives hope for a future non-Malay and non-Muslim Perdana Menteri of Malaysia.

    Why are we Malaysians care so much about race and religion?

    As long as the person is qualified whether he is a Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Atheist, or Jew, Malay, Chinese, Indian, or Orang Asli, please let him be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

    Why can’t a future PM of Malaysia be selected not based on his race and religion but on his ability?

  53. #53 by ctc537 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 8:11 pm

    President JFK may not be directly involve in the Vietnam Conflict but it was during the early 60s that he ordered the sending of large numbers of US military advisors to prepare for sending troops to South Vietnam..
    In hindsight, we find it was the lack of understanding of China on the part of successive US Presidents that led to the huge American involvement in Vietnam which cost the lives of more than 50000 American soldiers. Mao Zedong merely helped his friend Ho Chih Minh to liberate South Vietnam. China in the 60s obviouly was not a military power.That the Domino Theory became real only a year or two after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 when the reunified Vietnam became a Soviet ally.

  54. #54 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:29 pm

    ctc537 Says:

    Today at 20: 11.46 (3 hours ago)
    President JFK may not be directly involve in the Vietnam Conflict but it was during the early 60s that he ordered the sending of large numbers of US military advisors to prepare for sending troops to South Vietnam..”

    It is true that during JFK’s presidency, the level of U.S. military advisors was increased. These advisors were to help train the South Vietnamese soldiers – and not prepare for an invasion.

    Remember what JFK said during his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for your country….” He went on to form the Peace Corps, a federal agency which sent volunteers to help the developing countries in the field of education, technology and agriculture and environment.

    Serious doubts have been expressed whether JFK would have sent in ground troops to fight the war there themselves the way U.S. marines were ordered to do by LBJ as a result of the Tonkin Incident which some said was staged by the United States.

  55. #55 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:30 pm

    ooops for you

  56. #56 by undergrad2 on Friday, 23 January 2009 - 11:34 pm

    On the issue of the Domino Theory, according to this theory the entire South East Asia would fall to the communists with the fall of South Vietnam. We know now that that did not happen.

  57. #57 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 24 January 2009 - 8:56 am

    Farish urges Obama to do the Mandela walk.

    Comparing them, they have similarities. They are both embodiments of hope : that if political change can happen when persons like Mandela or Obama could, against and beating all odds, achieve the highest office of government, so political change to improve ordinary people’s lives vis-a-vis government can likewise happen if the right leader with strong moral leadership and vision could, through democratic participatory process, be screened, found and elected to position.

    There are however two limtations in that comparison.

    The first difference is that Mandela’s leadership is proven : apatheid in South Africa was dismantled by sheer moral force of sacrifice and struggle; Obama’s is still at the rhethoric level of campaign, awaiting his exeercise of powers of office.

    The second difference is in who and whose interests they represent respectively.

    Mandela represented a nation of disenfranchised oppressed black and poor by majority.

    In contrast, Obama was elected to high office to lead an imperial nation dubbed the only remaining superpower.

    Obama therefore faces the challenge – that Mandela did not have to grapple – of having by actions to balance moral principles against national interest of an imperial power that has geo-political interest all around the world.

    Even in the Middle East Obama has to draw the line and distinguish between withdrawing troops in Iraq and putting in more troops in Afghanistan; how to secure Israelis right to live in peace as against Palestinian right to self determination and Hama’s recalcitrance and intransigence.

    Even whilst he has to reconstruct US’s sullied image as world’s bully and buttress US’s leadership of the world, he has to tread carefully so as to not overstep, in that process, and be accused of imposing Pax Americana on the world enforced by whether weapons of war or the Greenback…

    Obama then will find doing the Mandela walk that more difficult having regard to the national “imperial” interests that he represents.

  58. #58 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 24 January 2009 - 8:58 am

    Typo error in 3rd para – “…two limitations to that comparison…”

  59. #59 by shamshul anuar on Wednesday, 28 January 2009 - 11:55 pm

    DEar Boycottlocalpapers,

    Nobody is stopping a non Malay from becoming PM. Just because no non Malay becoming PM does not mean that racism is alive.

    It just shows one thing. That law of human nature plays a role. That is the reason why no malay ever wins in Ipoh Barat or Timur . Please do not say about why non Malay cant become PM but never ask why a Malay is likely not to win in Batu Kawan or SEremban.

    The truth is that for 99.9% Malays, only UMNO, PAS or PKR are viable choice. Even my PAS friends told me that they would rather vote UMNO candidate should the choice is between a muslim and non Muslim.

    That is the reason why Fu Ah Kiow lost in Kuantan. Not that they are angry with him but upset at Malay bashing by Hindraf, Malay majority coinstituents voted Fuziah of PKR. The same goes to Kota Raja seat. Dr Siti Mariah won . MIC candidate lost largely because Hindraf issue.

    And the list continues. Remember Kulim , Lunas, Bandar Tun Razak , Pasir Panjang ,etc.

    For non Malays to wish that one of them to be PM, they also must drop their racial tendency. Only a moron will expect others to vote for them when they insist on not voting for other races.

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