Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Meteorology Glossary: Heuristic - In artificial intelligence, a rule of thumb, generally based on expert experience or common sense rather than an underlying theory or mathematical model, that can be incorporated in a knowledge base and used to guide a problem-solving process. Most procedures used by human weather forecasters are heuristic, as are many pattern-recognition techniques in radar and satellite meteorology.

Wikipedia: Heuristic (hyu-ˈris-tik) is a method to help solve a problem, commonly an informal method. It is particularly used to rapidly come to a solution that is reasonably close to the best possible answer, or 'optimal solution'. Heuristics are "rules of thumb", educated guesses, intuitive judgments or simply common sense. In more precise terms, heuristics stand for strategies using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control problem-solving in human beings and machines.

Hence, I think we should strive to approach life heuristically but we should also always recognise that heuristicism is a practice of common sense which is sometimes not as commonly possessed as we would like it to be... so, how heuristic are you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ISA Ain't That Bad... Really...

Wah... another gem today:

The Government hopes to be able to bring home two Malaysians held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp when Barack Obama takes over as president of the United States in January. Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the US had all this while, ignored a ministry request for detainees Mohd Farik Amin and Mohammed Nazir Lep, suspected to be terrorists, to be allowed to face the penalty back in Malaysia. “No charges have been brought against them, and this is worse than the ISA (Internal Security Act),” he said yesterday after the presentation of the South-East Asia Write Award 2008 winner here. - The Star, 18th Nov 2008

So what now? Bring them back to Malaysia and we'll show them, in true Boleh spirit, that ISA detention is better than being locked up in Gitmo?? Ok, Ok... so we won't charge them either... and we'll feed them HALAL dog food costing tax payers RM4.00 (US$1.11) per day.

Whas that you say? Oh, they'll be allowed to face charges once they get back. I see. So what about those still remanded under ISA? Should we send them to Gitmo??

And what does this mean anyway? That it's an official acknowledgement that ISA is bad... just not as bad as Gitmo? Is it like saying "yeah, my pot's black but your kettle's bigger and blacker than mine"???

What's wrong with the people who are allowed to officially open their mouths on behalf of a government which is already disgraceful beyond belief??

Footnote: Isn't it Ironic that Rais Yatim should be speaking about prisoner abuses and the ISA at a regional writing award ceremony? Wonder if awards were allowed to be given to people who write about the ISA...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wither Boleh-man?

Yesterday's post was ended with a rhetoric; where is Malaysia's Boleh-man?

Today, the editor of Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamarudin, was released from ISA detention by the High Court after successfully submitting a habeas corpus application for wrongful detention.

Now, I don't know about the rest of the country, but I think today is a momentous day for Malaysia. Just as it was a day that change arrived in America two days ago, today we saw an unprecedented moral victory for those who are fighting to have the draconian ISA laws thrown out the window. Change has come to Malaysia too.

And yet, while I logged on to what must be one of the biggest social evolutions in web history, called Facebook, I felt like I was a part of a minority who thought RPK's release was a major occasion.

Two days ago, the world watched with bated breath as Obama racked up the electoral votes towards the magical 270 mark. And when it was reached, every single buddy who updated their Facebook status had a reference to Obama for a full six hours after; majority of those buddies are not American, nor were they in America at that time.

Today, upon receiving the news of RPK's release, there were less than a handful (only three references to be exact) in the last two hours to RPK. Ok, maybe the news hasn't gotten around yet and many still don't know. The Star released the news on its front page but I guess it didn't make it on to CNN or Al-Jazeera as yet. The fact remains that people were more aware of what was happening halfway around the world than they are in their own home. Obama wins a victory and people are moved enough to say it on Facebook. RPK is released from wrongful detention and life seemingly goes on as normal.

So, where is Boleh-man? If I had to pick a candidate right now, I would nominate RPK as Malaysia's Boleh-man. But does he even matter?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Boleh ke?

It is possible for anyone from a minority group to be a nation’s leader, even in Malaysia, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi.

“It is up to the people to decide, just as the Americans had done through the democratic process,” he said while extending his congratulations to Senator Barack Obama.

Reporters had asked him in the Parliament lobby yesterday if it were possible for a person from a minority group to become Prime Minister in Malaysia.

Erm... does Emperor LaLa think he's living in Utopia...?

Aside from the PM, a number of other people including one minister, two (one rumoured, one potential) PM candidates, one ex-PM, have all jumped on the bandwagon to make statements of hope for Iraq, better times, better relations, etc, BUT ALL OF THEM conveniently avoiding reference to the precedent set by Obama of being the first black man elected to the White House.

Even Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of opposition and minority Chinese-led Penang, managed a neutral comment; "Americans had made an “inspiring” choice in picking Obama".

Ironically, I think it might be PAS who made a cross-cultural reference to the US elections results; Its spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat reasoned that Obama’s victory was a “victory of sorts” for Islam because Islam did not differentiate between race or creed. “That is why Obama’s victory is groundbreaking. It also proves there is no such thing as the superior race of the Caucasian. Everybody shares equality in Islam,” he said.

At first read, I didn't see the point he was trying to make... seeing how Obama is not Muslim. But then, I mulled it over and concluded that regardless of the skew in his statement, it was he and the PM who were the only two who ventured into, even if it merely brushed the surface, any reference of a topic that is deemed so sensitive that no one dares publicly speak about it, no matter how obvious the implication may be to the Malaysian context.

Martin Luther King, Jr dreamt of a land where men will not argue that the color of his skin determines the content of his character. The best man, woman or dog for the job. And yesterday, it became very real. In America. But Martin Luther King was an American with a dream for America. Where is Malaysia's Boleh-Man?