Coffee Seed Smugglers, Colonialism and Civilisation

What are the similarities between rubber, palm oil and coffee in Southeast Asia?
They were all smuggled here via South America, Africa and the Middle East by European agents from the 17th to 19th century.
1. Thanks to the British smugglers who smuggled rubber and palm oil seeds from Brazil and Africa to Malaya. It's because of them that Malaysia become one of the major producers of rubber and palm oil. 
World War II would probably end up differently without Malayan rubber and Nutella would not taste as good as it is without the high quality Malaysian palm oil.
2. Thanks to the Dutch smugglers too, who smuggled coffee seeds from Yemen in the 17th century. Initially they tried to plant it in their home country, the Netherlands, but it didn't work out. So they brought it to Java. 
And as they say the rest is history. Indonesia is the fourth largest coffee producer in the world today and producing one of the world's best coffee, and my favourite, Aceh Gayo (pic).
The reality of hist…

Trump, Covid19 and the American 'Brawndo Moment'

Just when you thought you have seen the worst from the Orange in the White House, he doubles down with more of his buffoonery.

5 years ago this would've been a satirical news headline from The Onion(a popular satirical website). But in 2020, it's the "new normal".

His crazy idea to inject disinfectant to kill the covid19 virus is officially the 'Brawndo moment' in American politics.

(Note: Brawndo is the sports drink brand used in watering the plants in "Idiocracy" (2006). Netflix should consider airing this Trump-ish dystopian comedy to all subscribers) :p

Bernie, Trump and the Covid19 Pandemic

"Bernie Sanders suspends presidential campaign" - BBC.

So Bernie has officially suspended his presidential election campaign. What is the meaning of it? Bernie's exit from the race means that Joe Biden would be the Democratic party's candidate against Donald Trump. And THAT is as good as handing over the 2020 election to the Orange in the White House. 

Joe Biden is, I think, the worst Democratic candidate in 20 years; he is worse than Al Gore or Kerry or Obama or Hillary. All of these 'status quo' establishment Democrats lost against their respective Republican opponents, except Barack Hussein Obama who won twice (2008 and 2012). Biden has the least support among young Democratic voters in a generation. You don't win a presidential election without energising a key group of voters - in this case the youth votes - like how Trump did in 2016 by energising the purple state working class (those who previously voted Obama) and the rural conservatives. So it'…

Human rights advocates: Fake news on Wuhan virus needs combatting, but not over-policing - Malay Mail

So a few days ago I gave an email interview to Malay Mail on the issue of fake news and the on going Wuhan Virus or the novel Coronavirus. Here's an excerpt of the story by Soo Wern Jun and Danial Dzulkifly.

“Looking at the trend over the last few years, you can almost see a pattern; that the intensity of fake news and conspiracy theory tend to increase whenever there is a crisis such of MH370, MH17 or a big event like the GE14.

“The ongoing coronavirus outbreak is no exception. There are many reasons for this. One of them is the fact that it is so easy to produce fake information and secondly, people are sharing unverified news from unreliable/unknown sources online.

“But we are not alone. The rest of the world is facing the same problem too, including China. For example, not all of the pictures and videos of some people consuming wild animals are actually in Wuhan or related to the coronavirus. But this has been (made viral) and shared and viewed by possibly millions of peopl…

Professor Pappé, Palestine and the Peace Process

JUST-ISTAC first Annual Lecture series featuring pro-Palestine Israeli historian, Prof Ilan Pappé.

Prof Pappé outlined some of the biggest challenges and identified solutions to the Palestinian issue. One of it is of the need to change the language and the conversation. For example, the term "peace process". 

For decades, the US has dominated the so-called "peace process" and talked about compromises and the need for both sides to "compromise", but Pappé argues that the framing of the issue is wrong.

Peace process to Israel is colonisation by other means. And getting legitimacy without international rebuke. But what is the reality on the ground? Life became more difficult for the Palestinians after the "peace process". More Palestinian lands were grabbed, houses demolished, and more illegal Israeli settlements were built after the so-called peace process (the 1993 Oslo Accord).

There is no peace process between a coloniser and the colonised. The dea…

500th Anniversary of Magellan-Awang Global Circumnavigation

September 2019 is a significant moment in the history of global circumnavigation. It marks the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the earth expedition (1519), which was also participated by his right hand man cum navigator and interpreter, Enrique@Henry the Black@Panglima Awang - the famous Malay slave taken from Melaka 
(Some claimed that Awang was from Sumatra, but most authoritative sources agreed that he was a native of Melaka).

Some historical context or prelude to the mission:
1492 marked the end of the Muslim rule in Spain. This soon led to the Treaty of Tordesillas which literally divided the world into two; Portuguese and Spanish (The other expedition was led by Columbus, who "founded" the "New World"). 

20 years later, Melaka fell to the Portuguese colonisers in 1511. A few years later Awang (his real name is unknown. Awang is regarded as a common Malay name, named by Harun Aminurrashid in his novel) was captured by the Po…

Indonesia Memilih: Jokowi or Prabowo?

According to latest polls by CSIS and Litbang Kompas (via Jakarta Post), Joko Widodo or "Jokowi" is currently leading Prabowo Subianto by 9 percentage points and he looks almost certain to be reelected as president - unless some miracle happens.

Here's a rough guide or a simple breakdown of the voting pattern across Indonesia's major provinces and islands. This is by no means a perfect generalisation of the Indonesian election, but I just thought it would be interesting to dissect the voting pattern. Some groups are not included as their political inclination vary according to religious identity e.g. the Muslim Moluccans overwhelmingly voted for Prabowo while the Christian Moluccans voted for Jokowi.

For Jokowi: The Javanese, Balinese, Bataks, Dayaks, Papuans, Lampungese, Minahasans, Flores
For Prabowo: the Acehnese, Minangs, Malays, Sundanese, Bantenese, Buginese, Banjarese, Gorontaloan
(Pic: Prabowo won in West Java)