Experiential Theology is Methodist!

I thought experiential theology was the hallmark of the pentecostals. it appears the bloke this emanated from was a German named Schleiermacher, who was a Moravian Pietist – and John Wesley was a Pietist too! So way before pentecostals emphasised experiential theology, the Methodist – indeed the founder of Methodism – was already well and truly in the game! And no, it isnt the wine; I am barely half way through my first glass…


Julia’s Great Big Lie

Labor is asking Australians to believe that some reasonably efficient industries – coal-fired power being the prime example – must be shut down because of the scientifically determined negative externality of global warming” – Alan Kohler from the Business Spectator pages.

Leaving aside the assertion that global warming has been scientifically determined, it still beggars believe Australians would be prepared to put up with a government which is ready to hurt Australians for God knows what purpose.

Why should Australians do anything at all re global warming, even assuming it is not the environmental equivalent of the Y2K bug?

We would be like the smallest house on the street bankrupting itself to clean up the streets around the neighbourhood, when the richer neighbours with much bigger houses continuing to throw rubbish out onto the streets.

So what if we have one of the highest per capita pollution? We are only 26 million people. Even if we are 2-3 times higher than that of say China, we’d only be contributing 0.05 of China’s pollution into this world. When taken against the world, it is probably what – 0.01?

In other words, even if Australia does nothing, it would have less than negligible effect on reducing global warming, even if it was true.

I still can’t understand our concern over this matter.

I won’t look to Julia Gillard to educate me either. She has absolutely no ability to speak plainly. When she did speak plainly, she lied – like when she did to the people last year in the election campaign when she said there would be no carbon tax.

I was listening to her interview with Neil Mitchell earlier today and using jargons like “price impacts” and “pricing mechanisms” means nothing to someone like me. All I will do is to draw my own conclusions which are higher prices and increased taxes respectively. If those conclusions were wrong, this useless Prime Minister would not be able to show me how and why.

Maybe it was a strategy to counter the sometimes manipulative Neil Mitchell but she should remember many Australians would be listening to her thinking she has lied and we would be worse off. It was incumbent on her to explain to us how she wasn’t lying and why it would be good for us when the carbon tax is introduced. She failed miserably. Please bring on a new election – I can’t wait to toss her out.


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Christchurch and Tripoli (and KL)

News wise it was an eventful but chaotic day. The middle east continues to boil, with the mad Colonel digging in and ready to kill any of its 6.7million citizenry to hang on to power. Our neighbour in the meantime, suffered a horrendous earthquake – the second in less than 6 months – which devastated most of the city of Christchurch. From the time we (Kiddo and I) got home yesterday arvo until this morning at the gym, local television channels have been providing wall-to-wall coverage of the disaster.

Like Anna Bligh, Rob Parker the mayor of Christchurch, must have followed the inquiry on the black Saturday in Victoria and picked up pointers on what not to do on D-Day from the likes of Christine Nixon. Parker was responsive, engaging, compassionate and switched on with events and activities on the ground level, feeding information to the press whenever possible. He was always present, always prominently available. Everyone wanted to talk to him to find out how things were. He was in charged. He seemed to be taking responsibility. Several times he said “my city”, obviously pained by what has happened to this once beautiful city of churches.

I also can’t help but wonder what the like of Danny Nalliah would say about this one. Did NZ recently pass any laws which incurred the wrath of God to bring this on its people?

I hope the people of Christchurch find some reprieve somewhere and find the strength to rebuild yet again. The people of Libya however, has to contend with a quake of a different kind – a kind Malaysians would or should think about. It really is time the UMNO-wreaked regime helmed by dynasties like the Razak family be thrown out of office.

Gaddafi had 42 years – close to Razak Dynasty Regime

Libya is on the boil. Gaddafi has been in power for 42 years. This is about the same length of time as the Razak dynasty, the blue bloods of UMNO in Malaysia. Abdul Razak orchestrated the putsch which sidelined the Tunku in 1969 and came to power soon after. Although he died not long after (1972?) Najib his son stepped in almost immediately. He was the youngest MP in Malaysia and has been a PM in the waiting ever since. His uncle Hussein Onn became PM after his father died, and he was instrumental in keeping Mahathir in power over the challenge of Razaleigh. When Abdullah Badawi succeeded Mahathir, he became the deputy PM and no one was ever in any doubt he would be PM since, lingering unanswered allegations of murder role (Altantuya Shaaribu) nothwithstanding.

So from the day the Tunku was overthrown you could say Najib through UMNO has never ceased to be part of the ruling regime – not far off the period of time Gaddafi has been in power.

Libya is on the boil. Malaysians should take heed. Unless the Razak dynasty blue bloods of UMNO start to do the right thing, they like Gaddafi, should be thrown out of office and power permanently.


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Middle East Protests – can Malaysia do the same?

In recent days, I have watched news on television in awe, wondering what it all means. I had the BBC news on most of the time over the weekend as it flashed across Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and even Iran and in eastern Africa other than Egypt, which was the first major turn. Thousands of protestors teemed public squares and urban streets, thoroughly vocal and animated. Muslim middle-eastern protestors – women included – across the Arab world want democracy, tired of monarchs and long serving leaders who weren’t chosen by western style democratic processes. I’m waiting to see if this ever gets to Saudi Arabia – that would be the big one, I’m sure.

I wonder if the same thing would happen in Malaysia.

Malaysian leaders would no doubt and in a flash, say Malaysia has had regular democratic elections and every government it has had has been chosen by the people via general elections. That is true but take away the formal veneers and you’d find elements very similar to what the people of the Arab world has been protesting against. The Arab world wants true and fair elections which are not designed to see the incumbent holding on to power. They want fresh leadership at regular intervals similar to the US and other western styled democracies.

Malaysia may have had Najib, Abdullah Badawi and Mahathir Mohammed in the past decade but it has had an UMNO dominated ruling class for more than 50 years. Its leaders are selected within a closed system which rewards those loyal not to ideals which serve the country, but party agenda. It has almost always been what is best for UMNO, not the country, which determines the leadership. In this sense, UMNO has been the ruler of Malaysia for the last 50+ years, an uninterrupted reign not unlike the regimes of the middle-east like Gaddafi. Mahathir could have gone on to be PM beyond the 22/23 years, had there been no Asian financial crisis to shake up his empire. UMNO remains intact and predominant regardless, and UMNO is the regime which has the same tired, corrupt and self serving elements not dissimilar to those in the Arab world.

The elements giving rise to mass uprising against the ruling regimes in the Arab world, are also present in Malaysia today. If Malaysians want to wake up and seize the moment, they should see what is happening in middle east now.


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Close Shave

I recently received a telephone call from an ex-colleague in Malaysia which was a huge relief for me. This ex-colleague was running the defence of legal proceedings brought against my ex-employer. During the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s my ex-employer was coerced into selling the bank it owned and managed, to MBB, a government owned and managed and largest bank in the country. Not content with virtually forcing the sale, the regulators proceeded to compel the shareholders of my ex-employer to also sell their shares in the divesting company at a give-away price. From memory it was easily a third of what the market value was. Such was the politically driven business environment in Malaysia then. I would not be the least surprised if it had only gotten worse since.

In the course of the sale I was involved in the disclosure process of the due diligence (whatever the extent which was permitted, possible or even meaningful under the coerced sale situation). Some 10-11 years later MBB alleged the disclosures weren’t adequate and were in breach of the agreement concerned. They sued, my ex-colleague contacted me for help and things were to have culminated in a trial next week, for which I was supposed to appear as a witness. I had just read, reviewed and worked through voluminous documents in preparation of the trial, and had asked for more documents, when the call came through. MBB had decided to discontinue the proceedings after all. I like to think they decided they absolutely have no case and so decided to discontinue but in Malaysia, God only knows what the reason is/was.

As professionals, both my ex-colleague and I thought the documents assembled to date clearly showed there were no non-disclosures of a kind which amounted to a breach of the subject agreement or at law. My confidence to take the witness stand had been steadily climbing but it was a relief all the same, when the call came through. I was just thrilled I didn’t have to make the journey and be away from my family and home and friends here, even it was just a week.

While preparing for the case these last couple of days I did a quick and general background surfing, just to reacquaint myself with the Malaysian corporate scene, especially recent events affecting the parties. What I discovered, generally, were the following:

  • There was an alliance to share services – a deal to allow MBB bank services to be delivered in Pos Malaysia outlets. So why were they suing each other? I had told a mate of mine a few weeks earlier that financially it made no sense as both companies were owned by Khazanah – the investment vehicle for the Malaysian treasury – so it probably had to do with individuals’ KPIs ie the guy running MBB needed to show he was doing the right things and the guy running PMB, likewise. It probably didn’t cross their minds that they could sit down with the relevant guy in Khazanah to obtain sign-off to let this one go. The alternative – an expensive trial – was going to cost the government a lot of money. In fact kiddo observed that the cost to get me to Malaysia as a witness alone, was probably in the vicinity of an average wage earners annual income. I guess Malaysian GLCs don’t really care if money is not well spent, in fact, squandered.
  • Resignation of Haizan Khir Johari as Non Exec Director. I now recall Haizan as an analyst in the research department of Phileo. He was a lot younger than I and though smart and likeable, his ascension was symptomatic of the sort of abundant opportunities available in Malaysia provided you tick the right boxes in terms of race and connections. I have no doubt Haizan was capable and I also remembered him as hardworking but I wonder if these issues were relevant at all.
  • Striking off of several subsidiaries – sounds like the company secretarial team was asleep. Typical government owned company.
  • Announced divestment of Khazanah interest (32.5%) in PMB – I wonder how far this has been executed and how much the government was going to make from it, having acquired it at next to nothing. It possibly shows too, that the government is running low on ammunition and needs to regroup its cash position. Forget Najib’s statement about the rationale for the sale. We all know how credible that it.

Anyway, the brief re-acquaintance with Malaysiana is thankfully over. Other than the pleasure of catching up with old friends and relatives, the trip would have been such a dread.


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John Hewson and the Modern Leader

I watched Andrew Denton interview John Hewson last night. I wonder how he ever became a politician, let alone the opposition leader with an outside chance of becoming a prime minister. I remember him as the economics professor in my university, occasionally sighting him on campus. He appeared very serious and certainly very ambitious, but the type who would neither stand for rhetoric nor suffer any fools.

The GST was his brainchild. He of course lost the elections to Paul Keating and it wasn’t until the Liberals came to power under John Howard and Peter Costello that the GST came into being – was it in 1995 or 1996. I think few remembered Hewson as the person who brought it about. Sure it was Costello’s push and Howard’s deal making which made it happen but it all started with Hewson.

From the interview, it appears as though Hewson should have been the owner of the moniker “Honest John”, instead of Howard. It was his honest albeit disastrous answer to Mike Willessee’s (forerunner to “A Current Affairs”, even before Jana Wendt) question about whether GST will make a cake more expensive, which buried him. The political naiveté oozing out of that very honest answer was cringe worthy – I can’t imagine any politician going through such an intellectually honest but non media savvy answer but on the other hand I also cannot imagine Tracy Grimshaw asking either Wayne Swan or Joe Hockey a similar question today. Or maybe I can but the response would certainly be more media polished.

Hewson was a workaholic personified. He was working in Hill Samuels, the precursor of Macquarie Bank, while also working in the university. His 18 hour days and 100+ hour weeks saw 2 marriages crumble. Still only 60 years old now and often appearing as a political commentator on Fox, he appears to have mellowed a lot. He has always had that know it all look, creating an arrogant aura about his character, which of course was never going to help his political career, honesty notwithstanding.

What Hewson appeared to have patently lacked was what some of my mates would call “relational skills”. He didn’t seem bothered with what others’ agendas were, only with issues at hand. His objectivity was looked at as callous refusal to consider deal making. Leaders today are expected to engage people, often almost at all costs. If a leader concentrates on substantive issues at the expense of exercising “relational” elements, he or she is often viewed as an ineffectual leader. What this can lead to is leadership which is across opinions and feelings but lacking in substance. Hence we observe an absence of intellectually rigorous and robust policies or statements of values from our leaders today. Truth and objectivity requires time and hard work. Emphasis on “people issues” can come at the expense of neglecting this area. Perhaps the solution lies in knowing exactly what we want from our leaders – people who meet and greet and listen to you often or people who meet and greet issues and decide the right course to take.

Boomsz and Shingsz

A couple of weeks ago someone sent us a youtube link to an interview a couple of web media personalities had with a young lady whom we were told was the reigning Miss Singapore representing the Miss Universe (or was it Miss World) competition. Her name was Rhys or some variant to the spelling – like many zonked out parents are wont to do with their kids’ names these days.

The subject in question was a word the purported beauty had used. I say purported beauty because I thought she was anything but beautiful and Kiddo and tress both agreed. English was also obviously not her first language so she neither had the look nor the communication ability which begs the obvious question of course, but that was all irrelevant as far as the interview was concerned.

The word in question was booms, except it was pronounced and therefore spelled, with a ‘z’ at the end of it. Sort of adds some chutzpah except it wasn’t meant to be clever or impudence but borne out of innocence (if you are kind) or naiveté (if you are not).

I’m a little embarrassed to say this… i feel like I’m running on high risk here in spite of the concoctor’s name (she was Rhys Low I think, or Risk Low – who knows) but I think it works, especially if one use it in conjunction with the antonym – “shingsz”.

Boomsz, one uses when there is a positive scenario ie, good things – something you would be pleased with. Shingsz on the other hand is the opposite. A 2004 Shiraz for example, is often boomsz whereas often, a cleanskin 2008 Merlot for example, would be a bit of a shingsz. A James Squire Golden Ale or a Fat Yak would be a … boomsz, that’s right whereas a Four-X, or maybe (and more to the point) a Foster’s would be a … shingsz. Get it? Rooney’s goal over the weekend was an absolute boomsz whereas Szeko’s deflected woozy off Silva was downright shingsz. See? It works, huh?

Proof that looks isn’t everything – she may not look pretty (title notwithstanding) but she is a wordsmith! Rheis, you are a genius – looks and sound notwithstanding.


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“Went to bed happy” kind of weekend

There was prayer meeting in church on last Friday night. As is often the case this wasn’t a naturally attractive activity on a Friday night. I’d much rather have a few drinks with some friends or watch something on tele quietly at home. Since it was the inaugural meeting, and we truly needed to have corporate prayers we decided to go. Again – as is often the case – it wasn’t so bad once you get started. It was actually quite good in that we got to know more about some members of the church who were from the old Cornerstone Church and prayed with and for them. I went to bed feeling a little happier.

Sat morning there was another meeting – see entry on Cells below – which again, started out difficult but was okay one it rolls along. I got home just before noon and Tress was still out on the garden, weeding and clearing out stuff. She had started on it when I left for church. I went in and looked at some documents for a matter that was proceeding the following week. We then went out to buy a few things. Kiddo asked for a new chair, her reading lamp blew out and she has been using mine so we needed to get a new one and the printer was also out of ink. We headed out to FHC to check out Big W but there wasn’t very much on offer so we went to Office Works on Whitehorse Road and picked out a leather swivel chair for kiddo, got the lamp and ink cartridges and went home. I hate furniture in flat packs – they always mean unpleasant assembly work. This chair should have been a breeze except one bolt refused to go in so we had a bit of a wrestle with it.

After the assembly I did a quick mow of the lawns before getting ready for dinner at the Yee’s out in Croydon. Tress had prepared a really nice satay dish and also made a fruit salad.

Somehow we (I) often sub-consciously budget 10 minutes travelling/driving time to get to friends’ homes for dinners etc and Croydon take a little more getting used to – it took us about 25 minutes to get there so we were a little late. When we got there however, only one of the other 4 families was there. Another family pulled up at the same time as us so I guess we were not inexcusably late.

The evening was good and we finished up a bit late. We got home just in time for the derby kick off. Kiddo and Tress watched the game with me for a little while before going to bed and left me alone to witness the awe of Rooney’s strike on the 78thminute. Nani’s goal was quite good too but it was well shaded by the second we had. City had fortuitously equalised, although they had played really well – their money and the quality it bought was really there for all to see, but none of it could match the magic which was to unfold. It was well past 1am here in Melbourne when Rooney struck but that didnt stop me letting out a guttural “whoa”. After 3 in a row, I had parked aside any title ambitions for this season and was leaving aside any hope of truly knocking the scousers off their proverbial perch another day. After all Chelsea had started the season so incredibly strongly. To be leading the table by 4 points at this stage, after silencing a recently monied noisy neighbour with real title ambitions in a tense and spectacular fashion is really a bonus so I went to bed a really happy man.

Sunday saw the first of the 10-week foundation course under way with Tham Fuan leading and it was just the most comforting thing to have him stress the centrality of the Bible for the new church. The Bible – not other sources of revelations – was to be the basis of our faith and journey. This was really good to hear and I was truly happy for the church now that we will start to rid it of all these revelatory distractions of the past regime. We finished up just after 1pm. Kiddo has been driving as a learner and she had driven to church so we asked her to also drive to lunch after church, which was a few suburbs away.

After lunch we went home and I got up the roof to clear a gutter and some branches hanging over the car porch. Tress and Kiddo went grocery shopping and I finished up soon after they got back and we trekked into the city to keep an appointment with Ms Poppins at Her Majesty’s Theatre on the corner of Exhibition and Little Bourke. The 2 hour 40 minutes burst of energy, light and great songs finished up a really good weekend for us. We got home and I fixed lunch for everyone over a really good 2004 Shiraz. I went to bed truly happy.


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