Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Free E-books

I was googling for free ebooks as books have become expensive. And they are aplenty. One that I have read recently was "Son of Sparta". I guess not many of you might have heard of Sparta, but you would have heard of the Trojan Horse from which a computer malware derived its name.

Obviously, the book is not a bestseller, otherwise it would not have been available for free. But it was an interesting read for its sociological insight into the life of a spartan child given to military training since the age of 6. An unusual aspect of military training for young boys was the accepted practice of sodomy by the boy's mentor who would take him under his wings to prepare him for the life of a Spartiate (full fledged spartan soldier). Ancient Sparta enforces strict segregation between women and men; and a Spartan soldier is not to marry until he has reached the age of 30. Even after marriage, they spend most of their time in army camps away from the womenfolk. Many Spartiates having boy lovers for most of their military life have not been able to adapt to a normal heterosexual relationship.

A good place to start to look for free e-books is The Burgomeister's Books.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Inter-religious Committee - A Small Fry

So said the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Can you believe that? It is just incredulous. He dismissed. rather contemptuously the nascent committee that has been approved by the Cabinet to solve religious issues and conflicts as a "small fry". He has apparently aligned himself with the right wing PERKASA which has vehemently opposed the idea of an inter-faith council unless it is directly under the control of the Islamic Department. PERKASA views it as a sign of Muslim weakness, of giving in to non-Malay demands. To allow such a council to exist independently would mean a threat to Islam as the official religion. By aligning himself with the right wing group, Muhyiddin is slowly but surely chipping away the Prime Minister's 1Malaysia model; he is slowly but surely pitting himself against the Prime Minister.

Being forced to state his position in relation to the 1 Malaysia concept, he has declared himself as 'Malay' first and 'Malaysian' second, which is contradictory to 1 Malaysia which is “a nation where every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second”. We could never deny who we are but the fact is that we live in a country called Malaysia, so we should think of ourselves as Malaysians, and solve our problems as Malaysians.

The proposal to set up an inter-religious council has been mooted many times in the past, but it has been shot down. The fact that the government has realized the need for one is a breakthrough. It is time to give it a chance, however slim, and in this pressing times to resolve our religious conflicts. And the DPM has by his callous remark thrown cold water on the committee.

I cannot help but feel that for every step that the Prime Minister has taken dogs are snapping at his heels.

Postscript: Well, it seems that the DPM did not use the phrase "small fry" and the various online papers have issued their apology to the DPM.

Friday, 9 April 2010


Within a week of its launch by the Prime Minister, My Procurement portal, which lists government contracts awarded, was subjected to intense grilling in the parliament by parliamentarian, Tony Pua.

The most glaring error was the contract to supply food worth Rm 6.5 billion to the army stationed in the north for 3 years, a sum equivalent to buying 4 submarines, according to Tony Pua. The Defence Ministry subsequently amended the figure to Rm 6.5 million.

A contract to build a 200 room hostel for students in Trengganu had a price tag of Rm 78 million, which works out to be Rm 390,000 per room. The contract figure was also amended to Rm 7.8 million. The same company which was awarded this contract was also given another contract worth Rm 39.9 million to build affordable houses for Trengganu folks. Pua further revealed that this company was set up in Dec 2007 with no revenues in his books as at 31 Dec 2008. The said company which has no track record has been awarded contracts totalling Rm534 million in the last 6 months, and the main shareholder and director is someone who turns 23 this month.

Read here for more discrepancies spotted by Tony Pua. Well, all I can think of is that the government's coffer is one big juicy plum that the well-connected have sunk their teeth into.

Thursday, 1 April 2010