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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Year Of Living Dangerously

For Malay language version please visit here.

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." 
~ Marcus Aurelius

I was introduced to Marcus Aurelius actually from the movie Gladiator (featuring Russell Crowe) who as portrayed in the movie, a Roman emperor who while doing what most of Roman emperors did at those time such as killing and conquering the Parthians, the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatians  among others, also have time to write down his Mediation which according to wikipedia, a revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration.

I wont write more about him but more about the particular quote. Today, we are indeed living in dangerous years. Not the danger of being at war whatsoever (though there are people indeed at war on some other parts of the planet but if you're able to read this blog then there is a high chances you are not at war), but the danger of having too much information easily at the tip of our finger. The danger of thinking that we can know everything just because some people somewhere posted something that we think we want and need to know. We think that knowledge is easier to find since we can seek them from the comfort of our home (or from our office), as long as we have a computer, or a phone or whichever devices that we can connect to the internet.

Photo credit: Google Images
We no longer have to cross the seven seas or to climb the seven hills to seek knowledge as knowledge is easy to come by. It came even without us seeking them, from various media that are being shared by our friends and acquaintances. We can read what has been written either yesterday or even thousand years ago without even waking up from our bed.

Therein lies the danger. While it seems easy to seek knowledge, we may not learn wisdom through them. In the easiness, because in this internet age we all think we will know everything. Since we all think that we know everything with the knowledge, we no longer continue to find wisdom. We trust everything said by someone just because we no longer feel the need to learn about other opinions that may be contradictory with what we want to hear. Just because some news site posted something that we 'want' to read, we do not feel the need to verify the news even further. Just because some information is shared by someone we know from Facebook or Twitter, we easily believe that the information is true.

Finally, as Marcus Aurelius wrote nearly 2000 years ago, we easily believe something as a fact, when it's just an opinion and more dangerously we believe everything we see as the truth when it's just a perspective. It's no wonder an American President, from the country that gives birth to the internet have already warned us of the danger.

Photo credit: Google Images
Oh yes, before I forget. Marcus Aurelius in the movie Gladiator was portrayed as an ideal Roman emperor who intends to give power back to the Roman senate and make Rome a republic again rather than be rule by emperors when the historical Marcus Aurelius actually nominate his son Commodus as heir rather than adopt a really capable general to succeed as 5 other successful emperor before him (google Five Good Emperors for details). I may write about that some times in the future.

Disclaimer : All images are for illustration purposes only and this blog author does not claim any copyright to the published images and he only copied the images already publicly available on the internet (unless stated). The blog author also wishes to state that his opinion posted on this blog are his alone and not paid by any political parties.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Dictator In Need

For Malay language version please click here.

I have to confess that when I first hear the word 'dictator' the only information and images that I received is that it is something bad. Images of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam and Gaddafi among others are those that entered my mind when hearing the word. The word portrays the image of a ruler with total power over a country and typically one who has obtained power by force, synonymous with autocrat, despot, tyrant, oppressor and all the negative ways and method of how to rule a country, for the citizen at least.

Closer to home, we've heard that the late Lee Kwan Yew was called a dictator too and to certain extend our own Tun Mahathir during his stewardship of the country.

Photo credit: Google Images
I was introduced to the origin of the word actually from playing computer games. Rome Total War (developed by Creative Assembly and originally published by Activision) is one of the game that sparked my interest in wanting to know more about ancient history especially during Roman republican era that introduce me to dictators like Sulla and the most famous Roman (which I'm sure everyone has heard of) Julius Caesar and have learned that the office of Dictator itself is nominated by the Roman senate in emergency situation.

By law, the Roman republic was ruled by two consuls elected each year with each consul holding imperium (a Latin word meaning 'power to command') the armies of the Republic in alternate months. In the event of extreme emergencies, like the consuls themselves are not capable of being good military commanders and in many cases, the consuls themselves were killed in battle then the senate will pass a senatus consultum (decree of the senate) for existing or newly appointed consul to nominate a dictator which holds great extraordinary power. The office of dictator itself is originally set for 6 months and only renewed should the need arise.

Among the famous dictators of ancient Rome was Quintus Fabius Maximus who was appointed dictator after two consular armies were defeated by Hannibal during his invasion of Italy and even after his term has ended he was again consulted after Hannibal again defeated even bigger Roman consular armies at the famous Battle of Cannae.

Photo credit: Google Images
The other famous Roman dictator was Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus who was made dictator twice and was regarded as a model of Roman virtue and simplicity. What's interesting fact about Cincinatus is that he hold the most supreme power the first time for only two weeks, where he resign from his office right after he completed his tasks of defeating the enemies of Rome.

His immediate resignation of his near-absolute authority with the end of the crisis has often been cited as an example of outstanding leadership, service to the greater good, civic virtue, lack of personal ambition and modesty ~ Wikipedia

Cincinnatus was also nominated the second time even as he already retired and working on his farm to put down conspiracy and rebellion in Rome and like the first time, he resign immediately after the crisis has ended.

Within his lifetime Cincinnatus became a legend to the Romans. Twice granted supreme power, he held onto it for not a day longer than absolutely necessary. The high esteem in which he was held by his compatriots is illustrated with an anecdote from the end of his life: one of his sons was tried for military incompetence. The great Capitolinus defended him by asking the jury who would go to tell the aged Cincinnatus the news in the event of a conviction. The son was acquitted because the jury could not bring itself to break the old man's heart. ~ Wikipedia

Photo credit: Google Images
The more I read about the deeds of these ancient dictators, the more I can't help to have these feeling that a dictator is what Malaysia needs at this time. With all the issues surrounding the government regarding the 1MDB, the mistrust in the Prime Minister, the internal squabbles with the Opposition pact it seems to me that a strong, capable leader who 'been there, done that, got the t-shirt' to prove it' who can come and lead us out of these mess and then resign when these crisis is over.

Photo credit: Google Images
No, I'm not advocating a rebellion or revolution whatsoever (so don't change me under Sedition Act) and only suggesting that what may be possible. What if Tun Mahathir or even Tun Abdullah can again be the president of UMNO and chairman for BN as a temporary measure? These two statesmen have known how to rule and also to let go of the rule.

Photo credit: Google Images
I'm sure if these two of our former statesmen can come again to save the nation in these times of trouble, 50 years from now our next generations don't have to go back to more than 2000 years ago to learn that the word dictator does not always mean a bad word.


Disclaimer : All images are for illustration purposes only and this blog author does not claim any copyright to the published images and he only copied the images already publicly available on the internet (unless stated). The blog author also wishes to state that his opinion posted on this blog are his alone and not paid by any political parties.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Barbarians Are Coming !

For Malay language version please click here.

“Discover how to visit the past and bring yesterday's stories into our lives today” ~ Gillian Hovell.

Photo credit: Google Images
The late classical antiquity, the Dark Ages, dawn of medieval age, the migration period and many other names given by both historians and non-historians were a period containing series of events that eventually lead to the collapse and fall of a political entity known as the Western Roman Empire which were the provinces of the Roman Empire administered by the western court base on Mediolanum (modern day Milan) and later Ravenna, while the city of Rome maintains at the spiritual capital of the whole empire.

Series of invasions by the barbarian tribes from the north and the east was not the sole reason for the collapse of the empire but they were also helped by the instability and the dependence of the foederatis (non-Roman soldiers) to guard the borders while the famed legions of the Caesars and the earlier Principate were no longer the backbone on the military structure. The legions themselves, rather than swearing loyalty to Rome, transferred their loyalty to those generals who paid them more, a repeat of events few centuries earlier that brought down the Roman republic. 

Obviously there are many theories regarding the reason why large group of people (we're not talking about few families, but whole tribes) migrating, including climate change, seeking better lands, running from other invaders and various reasons, but whether the reasons were political or economic, both were towards the same goal, which is to continue living. The Angles and the Saxons, among other migrated and invaded Roman Britain, driving away both the Romans and native Celtic people away and eventually became the English left the native lands in Germania from more vicious people from the east. The Franks move towards what is now central Western Europe while the Lombards moved south towards Italy and eventually replaced the Romans and the Italic people after the fall of Rome. The barbarians facing death and annihilation did only what they know at that time, which is to move to other place and cause the death and an almost annihilation of the native people already living there and unfortunately for those people there are no other places to go except the Atlantic ocean.

"What I love about the stories of the Great Migration is that this is not ancient history; this is living history. Most people of color can find someone in their own family who had experienced a migration of some kind, knowing the sense of dislocation, longing and fortitude." ~ Isabel Wilkerson 


Photo credit: Google Images
Closer to our shores in this modern time we are reading and viewing the news regarding a new events of migration, which is the Rohingya people who fled Myanmar and also from Bangladesh. I will not get into the details of the reasons and there could be various reasons depending on one point of view but just like the ancient time people are running to find a better life either when facing persecutions or for economic reasons. While this kind of events are not something new as Malaysia has already seen the coming of boat people from Vietnam and the Cambodia in the past, these new events unfortunately brought out some ugly side of the people and we can see many comments of the internet about how the government should not accept these people with questions about 'who's going to feed them?', 'we don't need any more crimes from these people', 'this will be new project IC' and so on, even those that boldly shouted that these people should just be left to die in the seas.

There are also sane arguments that humanity should supersede any political, even emotional or economical reason in urging those in power to help these people as they are the right thing to do, even if the time is not right. Of course some people not just talk the talk but walk the talk to by actually doing something to help these people while some vocal people at the beginning are now being seen as shutting their mouth because it is now seem that helping the Rohingyas is not the correct thing to do by their own political supporters. In the period of political instability in our country, the government seems to be indecisive in their actions, with some quarters wants to help while some quarters are still looking for solutions while those who are trying to seek refuge are dying day by day. 

Even without the Rohingyas, we already have a lot of immigrants to this country and the funny thing is that some of those who are against these refugees are descendants of those immigrants themselves, either to escape persecution of their native land or simply just for economic reasons. It's really funny when hearing this kind of people talk about how they themselves are ready to migrate if they feel that this country is no longer stable and can no longer provide security for them or their wealth. 

It is interesting to finally hear that the Turkish government has pledge to help these people and provide the humanitarian aid and it took a nation formed of descendants of one of the great migration people itself to show what country like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia their lack of moral courage to do what's right and putting political and economical reasons above humanity.

"We must force the government to stop the bird migration. We must shoot all birds, field all our men and troops... and force migratory birds to stay where they are." ~ Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Disclaimer : All images are for illustration purposes only and this blog author does not claim any copyright to the published images and he only copied the images already publicly available on the internet (unless stated). The blog author also wishes to state that his opinion posted on this blog are his alone and not paid by any political parties.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oration Against Mark Antony

For Malay language version please go here.

"Consider, I beg you, Marcus Antonius, do some time or other consider the republic: think of the family of which you are born, not of the men with whom you are living. Be reconciled to the republic. However, do you decide on your conduct. As to mine, I myself will declare what that shall be. I defended the republic as a young man; I will not abandon it now that I am old. I scorned the sword of Catiline; I will not quail before yours. No; I will rather cheerfully expose my own person, if the liberty of the city can be restored by my death." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.–43 B.C.)


Photo credit: Google Images
Well... That's not a photo of Marcus Tullius Cicero, who according to wikipedia was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist who came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.

Above is a photo of Tun Mahathir Mohammad who, again according to wikipedia was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia and had held the post for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, making him Malaysia's longest-serving Prime Minister whose political career spanned almost 40 years.

So what does Cicero got to do with Mahathir ? Well, both were respected statesman and great orator of their times and both have held the highest political office of their country and more importantly never stop to criticized those who are holding the office after them. I will not write more about Cicero since anyone who's interested in him can simply google all the information about him which I will assure you is interesting enough (to me) since he had lived throughout the final days of the Roman republic, witnessing and participating in civil wars until he finally was ordered to be killed by Marcus Antonius, to whom his final oration was directed to.

While the Romans were engaged in bloody civil war back then between the Triumvirs and the Liberators, the Malaysians today were also engaged in bloodless civil war, divided by politics if not by political parties. For the sides of independents and neutrals like me, the most interesting thing happening is around the attack by Mahathir towards the current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. 

These attacks can be found at Mahathir's blog : http://chedet.cc/

Photo credit: Google Images
The attacks were mostly related to the 1MDB issue which may (or may not - only time well tell) the fall of not just Najib, but will also destroy the ruling coalition who have been ruling the country since independence. The most interesting thing is that Mahathir have been receiving support not just from the pro opposition supporters (for obvious reason) but also from those who consider themselves pro government supporters. While many people hated him because he was thought to be an ultra Malay nationalist, the support he received was from various segment of Malaysians, regardless of races especially those who have grown up during his reign.

It will be interesting to see how these attacks will go on as the main call from Mahathir is that for Najib to resign. Just like Cicero, Mahathir is already in his old age after serving the country though if you read more about Cicero and the Triumvirate you will find that Cicero was ordered to be killed during the Proscription.

I will end my rambling today with some rearrangement of Cicero's speech.

"Consider, I beg you, Najib Razak, do some time or other consider the nation: think not of the family of which you are born, but of the men with whom you are living. Be reconciled to the nation. However, do you decide on your conduct. As to mine, I myself will declare what that shall be. I defended the country as a young man; I will not abandon it now that I am old. I scorned the sword of Anwar*; I will not quail before yours. No; I will rather cheerfully expose my own person, if the liberty of the city can be restored by my death." ~ Tun Mahathir Mohammad.

Notes :

* Anwar Ibrahim
Full English translated text of Cicero's Oration Against Mark Antony can be fount at :
http://www.bartleby.com/268/2/14.html
http://www.bartleby.com/268/2/15.html


Disclaimer : All images are for illustration purposes only and this blog author does not claim any copyright to the published images and he only copied the images already publicly available on the internet (unless stated). The blog author also wishes to state that his opinion posted on this blog are his alone and not paid by any political parties.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Keyboard Warrior

For Malay language version please click here.