Monday 27 October 2014

Oslo Freedom Forum - "Aristocracy of Activists" - AND - UM shutdown at 4pm due to "electrical improvement"

I had planned to finish the posting  "Oslo Freedom Movement - Aristocracy of Activists"  last night but the weather's beginning to bite a little and all I wanted to do was to snuggle down and watch "War and Peace"  on TV.

Woke up this morning and read this news about the electricity problem and the possibility of  a  'rumble in the jungle'  at Universiti Malaya.

Read :

There's this same character playing the starring role - he has appeared at the Oslo Freedom Forum before - and at other countless shows at home and abroad.  The other stars are Leong Yu Sheng,  the "student leader" engineering this big  pageant and  the hapless UM Academic Prof  Datuk Dr Rohana Yusoff.   What delights await us?   Are we to be indulged with the same 'demotainment'  as in the Hong Kong Student's Protest Movement - as tutored by the "aristocracy of activists" at the Oslo Freedom Forum?  Perhaps  security officials may have noticed a run on the sale and stock-up of  mineral water, Coca-Cola and Diet Pepsi.  (See paras 2 and 3 of my posting below)

Watch out too for a rise in the sale of snacks like nuts and other junk food.  I also reckon some macik and  ah soh and achi somewhere can expect big orders for nasi lemak, vaday and char siew pau to feed the rally??    Also keep an eye on how the rally marshalls get their members to pick up their litter - something which all Malaysians should learn from.  ( Again, see paras 2 and 3 of my posting below)

However, the theme for the rally - "40 Years from University of Malaya to Jail"  - is not really catchy enough.  Can't they get some panduan from the media-savvy experts in the protest-movement industry?

Hopefully, my original  post below should enlighten us (at least some of us) about the human rights, democracy and freedom movement.

I am old - but I am a cynic and I don't swallow  most things I see, read and hear about.  There is a fine line between knowing "everything" and gullibility.  The next step from gullibility is manipulation and exploitation.    I often impressed upon my students  the importance of  reading between, behind and beyond the lines.  We should apply these prepositions to many aspects of our thinking and doing.

Here's the first post.

Being "old dears", we spend our evenings watching re-runs of Midsomer Murders, Lewis, Morse, Foyle's War , Poirot and Miss Marples.  We don't bother much with News on BBC or ITV.  They're all very predictable, serving the same old Eurocentric agenda - with self-righteousness and double standards thrown in and of course with a good dose of fluffy news about the Duchess of Cambridge,  Dame Angelina Jolie, and Mr and Mrs George Clooney's wedding extravaganza.

But last night (22 October), I came down to earth.    I clicked on BBC2 Newsnight (by accident) at 11pm and caught a bit about the "aristocracy of activists" attending the Oslo Freedom Forum.  We heard about "meetings in the basement" where concerned and committed activists were instructed on how to organize and plan protest movements.  According to Newsnight, the student protest in Hong Kong was hatched two years ago and Jianli Yang, the well-known activist from China was keeping in touch with the protestors every hour, giving them the benefit of his expertise and experience.

In an interview with a young female activist we learned about how to use nonviolent action as a "weapon of mass destruction".  She mentioned a series of "hows" when one is organizing and running a protest: like how to keep ranks, how to use marshalls (during the protest) how to speak to the police, how to behave when arrested, how to manage a water cannon and the need to arrange the logistics of providing food and water - because a protest movement can last longer when people are taken care of.  ( I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that defenders of "free speech, democracy and human rights" in Malaysia must be taking down notes from this Forum and from the Hong Kong protestors for their next big do).

The BBC reporter - Laura Kuenssberg - also spoke to Srdja Popovic, leader of the Centre of Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies - the man credited with bringing down Slobodan Milosevic.  He claimed that he had taught in almost 40 centres but only about 6-7 had applied his teachings, including the Arab Spring Movement.

At this "Freedom Forum", according to Newsnight, deals were done - and there was schmoozing for democracy - over glasses of champagne and Norwegian canapes, against a backdrop of activists dressed up like penguins (males) and Hollywood celebrities (females).  The reporter described this setting as "Davos for Dissidents".

For more details read :

You may ask - what is this group that managed to get the attention of the pukka BBC's Newsnight?    And why should we even care?  

The Oslo Freedom Movement is a gathering held annually in Norway's capital city by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) which is headquartered in the Empire State Building, New York.  HRF was founded by Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, a Venezuelan film producer and freedom activist. (Wiki).

The Oslo Freedom Forum's founder Thor Halvorssen speaks at the opening sessionMonday.  To his left is Amnest International Norway's general secretary Joh Peder Egenaes.  (Berit Roald/AFP/Getty Images) 

Its mission  is to "unite people in the common cause of defending human rights and promoting liberal democracy"  (Wiki).

Aaahh, now I see why Datuk Ambiga Sreenevesan  and Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) have been  guest speakers at this Freedom Forum.  After all, in their book, Malaysia is a violator of human rights; and according to DSAI an example of Governments  "that hide behind a facade of democracy and commit crimes in its name".

Pardon me for being a simpleton, but doesn't this 'facade of democracy' also apply to UK and USA as well - don't they too commit crimes in the name of democracy and human rights?

Check :

Image 1

Image 2 - Enlargement of the text above

Furthermore, at this Freedom Forum, DSAI  claimed that Malaysia "has suffered under this new type of authoritarian rule".   (See link above).  If that's the case how do you explain the results of the 2013 Election and the fact that the Opposition are 'alive and kicking' - not only in their "home states"  Penang and Selangor but in the rest of Malaysian politics?

Their antics in my home-state Selangor in the last few months would not inspire their comrades, the aristocracy of activists, at the Oslo Freedom Forum

Democracy in India (the world's "largest democracy") has brought to power the Hindu fundamentalist-inspired Bharatiya Janata Party - a party that advocates Hindutva  (Hindu-ness), with an "ideology that sought to define Indian culture in terms of Hindu values" - and a leader like Narendra Modi, who is proud to describe himself as a "Hindu nationalist".   Halvorssen's HRF and Oslo Freedom Forum would have no quarrel with India as a model of democracy. Is this therefore a good model for  'authoritarian'  Malaysia?     Is this the 'democracy' that DSAI and his acolytes 'trust' and spout about?

DSAI  implored the audience (at the 2010 Freedom Forum) "to scrutinize the validity of vote-winning slogans such as freedom, democracy, and human rights, which are now too often used as empty promises or skewed in meaning".  Of course, he was referring to the Government.   But these very same slogans of freedom, human rights and democracy are  also bandied about and manipulated by the NGOs  (religious and secular) and by the Opposition!


But in the global scheme of world politics, Malaysia is just a small fry.  Of greater concern is the make-up of HRF and the Oslo Freedom Forum  and their ties with funding groups who inspired the mass killer and Islamophobe Anders Breivik - Norway's "crusading knight"  on his 2011 mission to save Europe from the scourge of Muslim Immigration.

Read the article by Max Blumenthal in the  link below.

Here are excerpts from an interview with Max Blumenthal.


Image  3

Image 4


Read and think - between, behind, and beyond the lines.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Christian Evangelization - Rites of Reply

When I was a sprightly and happy-go-lucky 17-year-old,  my Sixth Form History teacher Miss T - who was normally an unfriendly and po-faced character - turned on her smile and niceness at me when she 'lent' me a book about Christianity.  She said,  "Do read this, take your time and let me know if there's any other information you want."  Of course I was astounded, wondering "what did I do to deserve this special treatment"?   I kept it for two weeks, and  just gave it a quick scan.  I had no interest in another religion, what I already had suited me very well, thank you very much.  Something told me there was an agenda in this 'kindness' and I returned Miss T her book with a thank you.  She "sweetly" asked me what I thought of it and I gave a  timid reply of  "it's quite interesting".  I can't really tell her what I thought of it and how I suspected her motive - after all, she's my History teacher and  an authoritative figure in my time at RGS !

When I was a 30-year-old  'woman of the world'  (or so I thought), I was doing my Academic Diploma in Education at London University.  I was invited by my Greek classmate to a party at her flat.  I am (and am still today) very uncomfortable when I attend such social gatherings.   And when, as a party piece, my classmate's English husband imitated the genuflections of his Pakistani Muslim flatmate at prayer and watched how the others  found this quite hilarious - I left the room in tears.  I vowed then that no Christian or non-Christian shall denigrate and mock my faith, leaving me in tears and unable to defend myself.

When I was 42 and  happily married to a Caucasian academic,  I got to meet a couple of the spouse's students.  There was a couple, extremely friendly and nice, who visited us several times at our house.
They were too sweet and too nice and they reminded me of Miss T, my History teacher at RGS.  One day, I was cycling at Victoria Park near the University, when I bumped into this sweet couple.  After the usual chit-chat, they invited me to a meeting that they were heading for.  I asked what it was all about - they mentioned a Christian Fellowship - I gently declined.  For heaven's sake, I was as old as their parents and they reckoned they could inveigle me into their flock.  I wonder why they did not try it on the spouse!  

[And this particular story has a special twist: that very same year, my spouse's Head of Department and senior professor (a fervent evangelical Christian) invited us both to dinner.  He didn't know me well, but he did know very well that I was a Muslim. However, he assumed that I was a lapsed Muslim - and we were served pork, twice (once for starters, and once for the main meal).  I was stunned. Twice, very politely, the spouse refused the food we were given, and in the end we were given a hastily prepared omelette each. With great irritation on the host's part, and without apology - after all, we had the effrontery to actually both be Muslims!!  And to stand firm. So much for the sweet approach.]

As a Muslim in a foreign country and especially today, as a Muslim in Malaysia, one's radar system has to be carefully tuned to the siren song of Christian evangelists.  Today their agenda is camouflaged in secular outfits of education, health, welfare and anti-poverty schemes,  'human rights' campaigns and environmental concerns.  Their tactics are very different from Miss T's approach  and you ignore them at your peril.

More crucially, for those who are concerned about evangelization in their community and country, they have to learn how to counter the arguments the evangelists (and other anti-Muslim groupings) put across to plug their faith and diminish that of others.

I have compiled in this posting the 'dialogue'  that followed the previous "The Trojan Horse and Footballers from Brazil"  (28 September 2014).   Both the article in the posting and the reply to the Comments belong to Iain Buchanan.


The First Part of the Dialogue

    The Second Part of the Dialogue                              

Iain Buchanan's Reply.


The Third Part of the Dialogue

Iain Buchanan's reply

The issue is not simply one of evangelization - it is also one of honesty.   The evangelical movement has long been corrupted by two rather unhealthy tendencies:  a belief in the utter supremacy of Christianity as the basis for global government  (the ideology of the New Apostolic Reformation is an example);  and a belief that the end (of fulfilling the "Great Commission") justifies all manner of  means - many of which are at best morally questionable, and at worst downright dishonest.   In a myriad ways, these two tendencies interweave, leading to a form of evangelization which is often aggressive, surreptitious, and extremely seductive.   And the key to the problem is the packaging - or the "contextualization".

The entire "contextualization" strategy is based upon the intention to subvert, by whatever means possible, and involves tactics which  (if practised by businessmen) would be winked at as barely permissible.   Of course when evangelicals talk about penetrating "closed " or "difficult" countries under secular guise, they don't use the word "subversion";  no, they talk about "creative access",  "tent-making",  and "Business as Mission".   It is one thing to be all things to all men; it is quite another to set out deliberately to deceive - as evangelicals have done, on a well-coordinated, industrial and global scale.   Especially since the 1970s under the Lausanne Movement.   Two examples - "Insider Movements"  and disaster aid - illustrate the problem.

(a)  Insider Movements.    Since the start of the Lausanne Movement, much of the 
      "contextualization"  effort has been geared towards infiltrating Muslim societies, in a
      variety of ways calibrated along the  "C1-C6 Scale"  of penetration  (from friendly 
      conversation to  "messianic mosque").   The intent to deceive has been very clear, and is
      even given biblical justification by academics:  in the words of Rick Love,  Professor of
      Muslim Studies at Columbia International University,  "Jesus, after all, did not raise his 
      and say   'I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth'  ". 
      The intention is often presented as a kind of discretion:  again and again, evangelicals
      talk about the need to keep a low profile, to go behind doors, to affect local styles, to hide
      real names and motives.   The Red Sea Mission put it this way:  "Think of us as
      'secret agents'.   Inside the raincoat pockets are hidden gospels in Urdu, Arabic, Persian,
      Turkish, and Gujerati.   We are not what we seem.   And our best stories cannot be told.   If
      our target is the hidden people .......  then we must be somewhat hidden ourselves."

      Of course not all evangelicals approve.   According to Patrick Sookhdev:  "Many
      mission agencies are keeping secret their support for the Insider Movements for fear
      that donors will stop giving to them in protest.   Some of their missionaries also keep
      their identities secret, presenting themselves as ordinary foreign workers rather than as
      preachers of the Gospel.   This apparent lack of integrity calls the Christian ethical basis
      of the Movement into question."

      And it is not only "Insider Movements".

(b)  The disaster aid industry also involves a lot of evangelical double-dealing.   There are 
      hundreds of evangelical agencies posing as altruistic providers of vital practical aid.   But
      what are their motives?   Well, many see catastrophe as a God-given opportunity to
      increase their flock  (and even to punish non-believers)  rather than as a cause for
      altruism:  John Piper, of Desiring God Ministries, claimed the 2004 tsunami was "just
      and good";  Pat Julian  (Southern Baptist relief coordinator)  saw it as "a phenomenal
      opportunity",  while K.P. Yohannan  (of Gospel for Asia)  saw it as "one of the greatest
      opportunities God has given us to share His love for people."   And then,  of course,
      there is Beram Kumar, responding to Cyclone  Nargis as  " a tremendous opportunity to
      see the Kingdom of God expand."

      Clearly when you see disaster as a golden opportunity, you have to be pretty "creative"
      in the way you present your case to the public.   In other words, evangelization has to be
      "contextualized"  to be attractive to those in the direst of straits.   A truly  "good
      Samaritan"  will give succour with no strings attached.   You cannot say that about a
      great many of the evangelical agencies which rush into disaster areas.

(c)  It is the same with  "Business as a Mission"  (and the "Seven Mountains Theology"  for
      taking over whole societies, sector by sector, for Christ);  it is the same with the "human
      rights"  industry  (which is overflowing with agencies which, at best, are coy about their
      evangelical connections - witness the policing of human trafficking by World Vision and 
      and its spin-off  International Justice Mission).

      And it is the same with sport.   There is no question whatsoever that evangelicals  (at the
      highest levels)  have devised a thorough-going and systematic project to infiltrate sport in
      order to evangelize surreptitiously.   As the example of Brazilian footballers testifies.

And so, once again, it is NOT so much a problem of evangelization, as it is a problem of
dishonesty.   People of all faiths evangelize, or seek to spread their own particular gospel.  There's nothing wrong with that.   The problem arises when we seek to deceive.

                   Welcome, thou kind deceiver!
Thou best of thieves; who, with an easy key,
Dost open life, and, unperceived by us,
Even steal us from ourselves.

                              ( Dryden, 1631-1700)


Thursday 9 October 2014


Looking around me, I do not see a state-of-the-art world.  That's to be expected when one is (for the moment) residing in and looking at the world from behind the eyeballs of the West.  But it's no better when I read the news and views from my tanah air  and all I can see is this.

I think it's time for a a little pick-me-up.


It will be a full moon tonight on 8 October at 11.50am BST.  Also on this day the eclipse of the moon will be visible from countries around the Pacific Ocean including Malaysia.

Down here , this is all the moon I can get.  I think it's just as spectacular because I love the moon and moonlight in whatever shape and colour it comes.

Here are my feeble attempts at capturing the full moon, using my not-the-state-of-the-art camera (for dummies) from the vantage point of our not-the-state-of -the-art abode in a middling midland city.

Image 1.  The full moon playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds, taken from the front of our abode at 8.10pm.

Image 2.  Same place, same moon, a few minutes later - the moon  (like The Truth) is veiled from our eyes

Image 3. The moon has shifted,  clockwise to the rear of the house at 11.25pm.
The moon has always been a symbol of romance and childhood (and witchcraft and lunacy as well!).  I have often been described as loopy, loony and a right old wicked witch of the east.  But my love of the lure of the moon comes from schooldays, the beginning of a fascination which I picked up from Malay and English school textbooks.

In Malay: from my Primary School textbook Beneh Akal.

In English: from a poem by Mathias Barr (1831 - ?)

Moon, so round and yellow,
Looking from on high, 
How I love to see you,
Shining in the sky.

Oft and oft I wonder, 
When I see you there, 
How they get to light you,
Hanging in the air.

Where you go at morning,
When the night is past,
And the sun comes peeping,
O'er the hills at last.

Sometimes I will watch you,
Slyly overhead,
When you think I'm sleeping,
Snugly in my bed.

Nevertheless, I still hope to see 'Hey diddle, diddle's'  The cow jumped over the moon!


Murni sungguh ciptaan Tuhan,
Bulan bintang lampu alam.
Andai kata bintang menyepi,
Bulan tidak berseri.
Malam menjadi sunyi.
Tidak berseri lagi.

We still have  the moon and the stars over Malaysia but there is very little light - it has been obscured by the heat of hypocrisy, greed, deceit and opportunism.