Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Tough game to overcome

Brave New World (The Star)
29 April 2010

It is very hard to win when officials appear to make decisions that favour one side over the other.


LAST weekend was terribly depressing for me. I was a distant witness to a battle whose outcome seemed inevitable, al­­though one did hope that it would have been different.
On the one side you had a group which has been dominant for so long that they felt it was their god-given right to always be at the top. Any challenge to them is met by petulant fury from their leader. On the other side is a weaker group which has struggled over the years to have some sort of impact on the status quo.
However, over the last two years, they have grown from strength to strength, and after a string of stirring and unexpected victories, they looked set to overcome the odds and beat their all-powerful foe.
But perhaps their recent good form was misleading, and to win this time was a bridge too far.
It did not help of course that officials almost always seem to favour the mighty enemy. Their leader in particular seems to have an unseemly amount of influence on the very people who are tasked with ensuring that any contest is clean and fair.
It is very hard to win when officials appear to make decisions which favour one side over the other. And to make matters worse, the supporters of this powerful group are arrogant and smug creatures who are unaware of the ideals behind the competition that their team is participating in.
I watched from afar, unable to do anything more than give moral support.
It was so frustrating being unable to actually be down there on the field of battle to do something more tangible.
But alas, this is the way of the world and most times high hopes and fervent prayer just don’t do the trick.
Still, it was a close call. And for a little while at least, it looked like the underdog might have been able to pull off a small miracle of sorts.
At one point, I was certain that they would win. Unfortunately, in the last lap of the race, they fell behind and victory went to the powerful.
It was not surprising, although painfully disappointing. But one must not give up hope, there are battles yet to be fought and they hover in the future.
The little guys must pull together and focus their attention on what they can do well. They have to fight on intelligently, building on their many strengths and shoring up their weaknesses.
A culling period may be called for where the ineffective and the counter-productive are trimmed away from their ranks, leaving a strong core that can bravely and honestly face the challenges that lie ahead.
I am, of course, speaking about the defeat of Tottenham Hotspurs to Manchester United at Old Trafford. What did you think I was talking about?
■ Brave New World will be taking a leave of absence and will return in June.

Why the need for Pornthip?

Brave New World (The Star)
15 April 2010

The fact that Dr Pornthip had to be asked to testify at all is a damning statement on how low the belief is in our justice system. Her presence casts a shadow over the judiciary.


THE controversy surrounding Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand especially the cicumstances surrounding her reluctance to return to testify at the Teoh Beng Hock inquiry is something that does not surprise me.
There are accusations and counter accusation by so many sides - some even defamatory.
However, that is not what I wish to concentrate on here. There is a bigger issue. The question that we should be asking is why did we have to obtain the services of Dr Pornthip in the first place?
True, she is very good at what she does, and it was through her efforts that forensic sciences in Thailand have developed by leaps and bounds.
But she was brought in not just for her expertise but because, frankly, of a lack of faith in the Malaysian justice system.
There is uncertainty that local experts will be able to do their work without any interference from outside parties.
In the Asian Rare Earth case of the 1980s, where a village in Perak became the dumping ground of radioactive wastes by an irresponsible company, the villagers had to get expert witnesses from Japan and Canada to provide evidence of the higher than normal radiation levels.
It was not a situation where they could not find any local person with the ability to use a Geiger counter, it was just that the company in question had influential shareholders, and local experts were unwilling to come forward.
In the Teoh Beng Hock case, it is not a company that is under scrutiny but the MACC, a government agency.
Furthermore, the young man who died was working for an opposition party. It is therefore even more likely that a local expert could be faced with all sorts of pressures, especially if he or she works in a government institution.
This is not to say that pressure will be applied. Neither is this to suggest that the government will resort to such underhanded tactics.
It boils down, not to a matter of fact but a matter of faith; faith that our system of justice is incorruptible and fair.
It really does not matter if it is or not, the problem is just as profound if one simply does not believe that it is just and honest.
Yes, it is very sad that Teoh Beng Hock died in such violent circumstances, and yes, it is imperative that we find out the truth about how he died. But there is also a larger question to be answered here.
The fact that Dr Pornthip had to be asked to testify at all is a damning statement on how low the belief is in our justice system.
Is it possible for us as a society to wipe clean the debris that is our justice system and build again?