Monday, December 19, 2011

Mudslinging or debate?

One Man's Meat

The two antagonists have twittered agreement to debate, but getting them into the same room to thrash out the Lynas issue without scoring political points is quite impossible.

IF a debate on Lynas were ever to happen, it might be as civil as a nuclear bomb. Fresh from the civil and intellectual public debate mobilised via Twitter between Kedah Gerakan Youth chief @TanKengLiang and the Bar Council’s @EdmundBon on the Peaceful Assembly Bill on Dec 11, Twitterers were clamouring for more debate.

The next day, @TaiZeeKin tweeted: “After @TanKengLiang on PABill, let’s keep the fever going by our 2nd (debate) series, @Fuziah99 vs @TiLianKer on Lynas!” Twitterers on TwitterJaya (the moniker of the Malaysian Twittersphere) are familiar with the “radioactive” tweet exchanges between Kuantan MCA division chief Datuk Ti Lian Ker and Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh on the controversial Lynas rare earth project.

To some, the prospect of a public debate between MCA central committee member Ti and PKR vice-president Fuziah is as mouth watering as a mug of KR1M choco malt.

@szeming87 tweeted: “I would love to see debate on #Lynas (between) @TiLianKer & @Fuziah99.”

Almost immediately after @TaiZeeKin issued the debate challenge, @TiLianKer replied: “Sure! (I) can give a point or two on how 2 b a responsible people’s (representative) without aiming to score political brownies by blasting.”

And @Fuziah99 tweeted: “I accept. Have been challenging @TiLianKer for a debate for a long time before this.”

In explaining why he wanted to debate Fuziah, Ti said: “I have been wanting to call her bluff and have been throwing her challenges for a debate ever since she blasted irresponsibly with inadequate facts and distorted information on Lynas calculated to incite anger against the leaders (especially PM, Pahang MB and even DYMM Tuanku Pahang) and fear of the masses for their health and safety.

“There have been much proven untruth and conflicting information in Fuziah’s public statements. For example, she alleged that we are using China standards and not stringent Australian standards, which is false,” he said.

Ti explained that he was “not pro Lynas, nor am I a spokesman for Lynas”.

“But I am interested to seek a solution to an issue that could have been avoided had our (Kuantan voters’) people’s representative exercised due diligence or process!”

Fuziah accepted the debate challenge despite a tweet being confined to 140 characters.

“It is not a real platform for intellectual discourse or exchange of constructive ideas. Lynas is an issue which needs to be understood properly,” she said.

“It is also an issue which is multifaceted and needs to be looked at from various angles before one can make a decision on its safety or on the viability of the project.”

Fuziah added her observation was Ti was more interested in attacking her on a personal level rather than talking about the Lynas issue.

It is not the first time both politicians have accepted a debate challenge on #Lynas, however.

Ti recalled that he was the first to issue a challenge.

But, he said, Fuziah insisted on a debate in Kuantan as “she has the upper hand in terms of a militant emotional crowd there”.

“The debate should be on neutral ground with a rational, intellectual, sincere audience out to seek a solution or a win-win situation for all parties,” he explained.

“Subsequently, whenever we engaged in a debate in TwitterJaya, she will throw a challenge but she insisted on a political agenda i.e. to pander to the emotions and fear on the ground in Kuantan whereby any attempt to explain the facts and science of rare earth will be seen to be (coming from) a ‘traitor’.”

Fuziah has a different recollection.

“I don’t ever remember him agreeing to a debate. Every time he attacked me publicly, I challenged him to a debate but he had always declined, citing that he is no expert on the issue. Furthermore, no organiser has come forth before,” she related.

“As far as I remember, I have personally challenged (Ti) to a debate at least three times. And it was on Twitter every time.”

From their exchanges, it looks like a mud-wrestling match is a more apt description than a public debate.

When both politicians agreed to the debate on Monday, @skeatx tweeted: “This will be more of a mudslinging match instead.”

If @WanSaiful (Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Malaysia CEO, who moderated the Tan vs Bon debate) could get Ti and Fuziah in the same room for a debate, he probably would win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Monday, December 05, 2011

From tweets to public debate


Born of a challenge on TwitterJaya, come Sunday, tweets on the Peaceful Assembly Bill will turn public debate, with the main twitterers facing off.

IT was a match made in Twitter. After exchanges confined to 140 characters in TwitterJaya, lawyers Tan Keng Liang and Edmund Bon agreed to bring their debate on the Peaceful Assembly Bill (#pa2011) to the public arena.

And #EdmundBonDebatesTanKengLiang will roar at the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism & Human Rights (PusatRakyatLB) in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday.

Kedah Gerakan Youth chief @TanKengLiang recalled: “I saw #EdmundBonDebatesTanKengLiang on my timeline (on Nov 28) and a tweet by @saroki19 - ‘@EdmundBon agree to live debate #pa2011, well done. @TanKengLiang how? 1Malaysia waiting 4 answer’.”

Tan believed that it would be a great opportunity for him to clarify the misconception over the Bill, and he accepted the challenge.

@EdmundBon, who is with, MyConsti and PusatRakyatLB related:

“On Nov 28 the Bar Council was in the midst of mobilising members to participate in #Walk4Freedom (to protest against #pa2011 at Parliament) and naturally conversations on TwitterJaya veered towards the Bill.

“I was trying to simplify how the Bill detrimentally affects the layperson through #FunFacts and Tan was tweeting in support of the Bill.

“Then out of the blue @saroki19 asked ‘Bon care to debate’, and I said ‘accepted’.”

In explaining his challenge, @saroki19 said he wanted to find out “what kind of man Tan was, as he was famous in TwitterJaya”.

Indeed, in TwitterJaya (the moniker of the Malaysian Twitter­sphere) Tan with 10,578 followers is so popular that he has his own hashtag - #KenLiangMania.

The joke in Twittersphere is if there is an election for P223 TwitterJaya, Tan will win it.

As @kcl1308 pointed out in his tweet: “I can see people are really excited about @TanKengLiang! He (is) almost like a movie star!”

The organiser, @saroki19, noted that there was interest in the debate because people wanted to see Tan in action.

“I want to see whether TKL is as articulate as he is in TJ (TwitterJaya). And the topic is quite hot at the moment,” said @NickLiewKY. He will travel from Penang to Ipoh and then together with @JoLum500 head for Kuala Lumpur to witness the debate.

The debate is a must-watch for @DatuWil as @TanKengLiang is his punching bag.

“I whack him on Twitter when I have a bad day at work,” he said.

“@TanKengLiang is oblivious to his own irritating persistence of fighting a losing cause.”

For example, referring to Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming’s “Black Metallic” remark, @TanKengLiang tweeted: “So, will DAP take any action on @NgaKorMing + @NgehKooHam? Or hope Malaysians will forget about it? @LimKitSiang”.

And @MikiChoo retweeted: “yawWwnn”.

But to Barisan National cyber troopers, Tan is a hero.

@KhanOfWar tweeted: “@TanKengLiang is a real fighter we all #SupportTanKengLiang Kudos!”

Bon, with 3,406 followers, is no pushover in TwitterJaya.

Reading tweets about @EdmundBon, you can sense a certain adoration for him.

#BonCon is a popular hastag. According to him, “activists and friends think that I somehow ‘conned’ them to do activism work”.

Some Twitterers think #EdmundBonDebatesTanKengLiang will be bigger than the October Tweet Festival in Petaling Jaya.

The festival broke the Guinness World Records for the most number of check-ins (1,935) at a Tweetup.

On Saturday, @LimMengKeong tweeted: “I’ve been learning some karate moves to protect @TanKengLiang, just in case some of his fans get too excited.”

Just like maniacal Beatles fans, @PhilipGolingai expects women will throw their panties at Tan while he is debating.

The event will be moderated by @WanSaiful (Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the CEO of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Malaysia or IDEAS).

And @HoongLing (Chew Hoong Ling, Voice of Women president, liver donor and Durian FM DJ) has volunteered to cover the event.

Tan is hoping @TonyPua (DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua) will attend the debate so that he can consume a mug of Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia’s (KR1M) Chocolate Malt in front of him.

The challenge (born in TwitterJaya) is if Tan dares to drink the malt drink, Pua will donate RM1,000 to charity.

Yesterday, Pua tweeted three photo­graphs of cheques totalling RM1,000.

Echoing the confusion on #pa2011, @DidiMazril cheekily tweeted in Malay: “You don’t need to apply for a permit to hold this debate?”

And Tan replied: “Police permit not needed 4 debate at @PusatRakyatLB. It’s a private place ..... unless demo outside the building.”

Is it game on for the lawyer vs lawyer debate?

Unlike Opposition MPs who staged a walkout before the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 was passed on Tuesday, it was unlikely Bon and Tan would #WalkOut.

And as @SmellyKateMoss tweeted: “Attention TJ! Must see!”

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Women to the forefront

One Man's Meat

The fairer sex seems to be in an apparent bid to take over control. It's happening right at our backyard with the women-only train coaches, taxis and now Malaysia's first women's radio station in Capital FM 88.9. Maybe it's time for men to re-affirm who's the boss ... or not.

MEN, watch out. If we are not careful, sooner or later women will take control and kick us out of the bedroom.

Don't give me that quizzical macho look!

The signs are there. Women-only Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad coaches. Then women-only taxis.

And now Malaysia's first women's radio station Capital FM 88.9.

To paraphrase Helen Reddy's song I am Woman, women are roaring “in numbers too big to ignore”.

And the newly-launched Capital FM promises to be “the only radio station that provides women a voice and a hub to exchange thoughts and opinions”.

“Scary”, a male friend, who comes from the Neanderthal age, told me: “This might be a start of a Woman on Top' movement”, while giving me an expression that reminded me of an eunuch.

For me, I kept an open mind. I find the idea of a women's radio station as exciting as a Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull On the Floor music video.

But I did wonder what kind of music Capital FM 88.9 celebrity presenters such as Asha Gill and Joanne Kam would play.

Would it be exclusively songs with a female theme?

Before the radio station went on air on Thursday, I asked my colleague Martin Vengadesan, a music columnist, what he thought.

He suggested: It's Raining Men by The Weather Girls, You Oughta Know by Alanis Nadine Morissette, Independent Women by Destiny's Child and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.

The concept of a radio station targeting urban women in Klang Valley aged between 25-35 has also sizzled my Twitter timeline.

Tweeting on the station that aims to be a platform for women's issues, @adellaaudrey commented: “so what do they yak about? Shopping? Sale? Pilates? Girl power? wait, ... MEN???”

Or perhaps cerebral topics as @asohan (Asohan Aryaduray) tweeted: “Something for #CapitalFM to discuss? RT @nytimes Jailed Afghan Woman Freed but Urged to Marry Rapist.”

I was curious about the radio station. So on Thursday, the day it was launched, I eavesdropped.

In their The Jam Break segment (from 4pm to 8pm), radio DJs Xandria Ooi and Liang were talking about the advantage of dating a younger guy.

At 7.49pm a caller named Sue remarked: “It is refreshing. Makes you feel young. Nowadays, there's not much of an age gap.”

Wow! I thought. They're talking about “Cougar” (a woman, 40 years of age or older, who pursues younger men).

Such a subversive topic which 40-something men like me feel threatened.

Gleefully, Sue, the caller, added: “Men now are more open. They can talk about cooking and cleaning. And men clean better. They don't mind doing household work.”

Ouch! Looks like men will be kicked out of the bedroom to the kitchen.

The Obedient Wives Club should protest against such an emasculating statement.

Another “ouch!” was during Groovedown, a 8pm to midnight segment which offers a “safe haven” for women as they are invited to share their thoughts and questions on relationships and social lifestyle.

Presenter Sheela Haran taunted: “Guys, you can listen in as well. Maybe you will learn a thing or two.”

Looks like the “Woman on Top” movement has really begun.

Someone should start a counter movement. Perhaps we should launch a “Real Radio for Real Men”.

Perkasa boss Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Malaysia Under-23 team coach Ong Kim Swee can be a guest in a segment that talks about all things men.

We can have topics such as “Who is more handsome: Wayne Rooney or John Terry?” or “Why a woman should drop everything when the hubby is in the mood for love?”.

Men, watch out. We need to show women who's the boss.

Oops! Got to go as my wife commanded me to prepare milk for our three-year-old Apsara.