Monday, July 31, 2006

Amazing that the Asy-Syakirin Mosque that sits at the base of the Towers still stands, when the grounds around it are thick with smoldering white ash and rubble.

s.


July 27, 2006 11:04 AM/ Asy-Syakirin Mosque/ North East Corner/ KLCC
–Screen grab and article, both from this morning's Malaysian Times Online Edition.

When the authorities figure out the pieces to this puzzle, the consequences will no doubt be severe.

s.


The Malaysian Times | ONLINE EDITION

_____Related Articles_____
• Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai in State of Shock
• Malaysian King Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail Addresses 'Irrational Moment'
• Smoldering Jet Engine removed from KLCC Asy-Syakirin Mosque
• Indonesian Navy retrieves bodies and wreckage from Staits of Malacca
• World Reacts With Horror
• Internet Slows After Attacks
• Oil Prices spike after collapse of Petroliam Nasional Towers
• Malaysian Trade Union Congress under suspicion

_____Multimedia_____
APMT Video: Kuala Lumpur City Centre Attack
• APMT Video: Prime minister: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
• Audio: Eyewitness at Mandarin Oriental Hotel
• Webcam: Inside the mall at Suria KLCC

_____Closings, Evacuations_____
KLIA CANCELATIONS
• Kuala Lumpur Area Closures

_____Local Flight Information_____
All flights are cancelled in and out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Travel is currently limited to humanitarian flights. The World Tourism Organization guarantees no "foreseeable time frame for a return to normalcy." Travelers are advised to return to their points of origin as soon as flights resume as potential escalating conflict within Malaysia could expand to other regional destinations.

The following flights were affected in Thursday's attacks:

• Al-Qadar Flight 311: A Boeing 737 en route from Singapore (SIN) to Mumbai, India (BOM)
• Al-Qadar Flight 705: A Boeing 767 en route from Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) to Hong Kong (HKG)
• Al-Qadar Flight 1012: A Boeing 737 en route from Al Koude, Oman (WGG) to Mumbai, India (BOM)
• Al-Qadar Flight 1013: A Boeing 737 en route from Perth, Australia (PER) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)

Families of passengers on Al-Qadar Flight 311, Al-Qadar Flight 705, Al-Qadar Flight 1012 and Al-Qadar Flight 1013 may call Al-Qadar Airlines directly for a statement and updates.

SEARCH FOR 7/27 TERRORISTS CONTINUES

By Anwar Amin
Malaysian Times Staff Writer
Monday, July 31, 2006

Central and Southeast Asia remain in a state of alert. Borders between Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei are under heavy guard. Indian police have detained over 350 suspects. The Indonesian navy is pulling wreckage and bodies from off its shores while it waits possible further military instruction to take aggressive counter action once the responsible parties have been identified. Additionally, international airports from Singapore to the Persian Gulf are closed.

Standing on the steps of the rubble and ash covered Asy-Syakirin mosque, located in the northeastern corner of the still smoldering 100-acre KLCC site, the Malaysian Prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi declared, "Evil will be punished where it is born."

Though located at some distance across the park from where the former Towers stood, the roof of the Asy-Syakirin mosque, famously known as the 'Jewel in the Park', was damaged when a jet engine thrown from the blast site knocked a hole through its dome. The engine crashed to a standstill at the edge of the complex where it injured several tourists.

"Islam itself was attacked this morning and I assure you freedom will be defended. Make no mistake. The Malaysian Government will identify and punish those responsible for these cowardly actions," Badawi said.

But as of yesterday, Badawi's government counter-terrorism experts were still trying to figure out just who was responsible for the horrific act. Al-Qaeda has disavowed itself from the event, though it bears striking similarities to the 9/11 assault on the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001. Initial suspicion was also directed to members of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress. Still others wondered whether another regional anti government group was to blame.

Many security experts are suggesting that given the international scope of the attacks, the source for this evil may lay far beyond the country's borders and that renegade agents may be involved, possibly with the sanction of one or more foreign governments.

Moreover, "Given the technical complexity of the operation and the worldwide post 9/11 anti-terror controls in airports and aboard aircraft, it's probably an American or European group," said Najib Albar, "–or even a former member of the Soviet Union."

Albar specifically noted, among European countries, British society in particular has been fighting a losing war against a growing body of internal nationalists who want people of both Mid Eastern and Asian descent out of their country, perhaps at any cost, and that similar anti-immigration sentiment is gathering support further abroad in the United States.

Ignoring the question as to whether a group in his country could be implicated, an American intelligence official responded to a recent estimate that just under a hundred Americans were killed in the destruction of the Petronas Towers: "It's Sunday: we won't get the CIA report until tomorrow. Just like everybody else, all we know is what we're seeing on CNN."

Meanwhile the American Vice-President is said to be holed up in a Houston situation room with that country's national energy suppliers to figure out how –and if– the death knell blow to Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Towers may somehow affect oil distribution and prices in the United States.

When the Governments of Malaysia, India and Indonesia do identify the responsible party, the retaliation may herald a new level of mobilization in the region, unifying not just these three neighbors, but possibly the greater Islamic community from Singapore to the Sahara.

Abdul Singh, a former Indian Intelligence official now Fox News Correspondent living in Dubai, explained: "If this turns out to be some sort of symbolic attack on Islam, rather than just an attack on Malaysia and downtown Mumbai, or an effort to interrupt oil or technology production, then all Muslim nations will likely galvanize and the Islamic brotherhood pull together in a way that the world hasn't witnessed since the Ottoman Empire."

"7/27 is Southeast Asia's 9/11," Singh further noted. Foreign Embassies would do well to evacuate their citizens now before a scapegoat is –rightly or wrongly– identified."

Already in the Central Asia, representatives of the Afghani Mujahideen called the failure of India and Malaysia to have advance warning of the attacks, especially given their sophistication, a 'massive failure in the reliance of Western modernity.'

Singh further warned, "India will undoubtedly strike back hard, especially if it turns out to be Kashmiri rebels. But do not underestimate Malaysia's apparent temerity on the world's stage. As a Muslim country, its roots reach across borders and cover half the Earth. Whoever is responsible, no matter what their original intention, they will be hunted down and punished, –and that's putting it lightly."

© 2006 The Malaysian Times Company
HALA!

My friends, I'm not dead yet! And in fact I am very much alive! I apologize for not writing sooner, but the government here has frozen land lines, and internet and cell service continue to be erratic. I am only now able to log on, this Monday morning, 4 days after the 7/27 attack on Southeast Asia, which as you know resulted in the collapse of the Petronas Towers. Fatalities believed to number in the thousands.

Obviously, the situation in Malaysia, and indeed throughout Southeast Asia, is rather complicated at the moment. There is even talk of possible martial law. I will post updates when I am able.

In the meantime, you have no doubt wondered what happened to me after I posted my last entry to this site from the 36th floor of Tower II, at exactly the same time the first plane hit Tower I. Naturally, I immediately evacuated the building, and I made it all the way down to the ground floor and was only a moment from leaving the building when I spontaneously decided to follow a team of emergency responders back up the building. They were en route to assist survivors of the attack on Tower I who were evacuating the injured building via the Sky Bridge that joins both towers on the 41st and 42nd floors.

You must understand, after the first the plane hit Tower I, naturally the first thing I thought of were the events of September 11th, 2001 in New York City. But I also knew from working on the documentary with Anita, that unlike the World Trade Center, the reinforced core of the circular shaped Petronas Towers in tandem with the 18 concrete columns that form the shell of each Tower, meant the super structures could and would sustain the kind of damage that occurred on 9/11.

So, I did not for a moment think that the surreal events of September 11th would so perfectly repeat themselves. And I was so confident in the integrity of the structures, and so fully satisfied of my own safety, that I did not think it reckless to return and help others.

But as it happens, I am not lucky to have made it out alive, and only alive but for luck. Fortunately for me, the second plane did not hit Tower II while I was still on or near the Sky Bridge, but many others were. By that time I was over in Tower 1 assisting a rescuer navigate a gentleman in a wheel chair downstairs via the stairwell. Unfortunately when the first plane hit tower 1, it blew a fireball down the elevator shafts, and so we had to walk down, step by step.

So when the second plane hit, we had just reached the 27th floor of Tower 1, and to be honest we wouldn't have even know a second plane had it Tower 2 if we did not immediately after hear the awful tearing sound of the Sky Bridge collapse between the two buildings, taking with it so many souls. It took us over an hour to get downstairs, what with other people evacuating and heading down, and other rescue teams heading up.

I can tell you that I'm no hero, I wanted to drop that wheel chair right then and there and flee, but I did not. And as a result we had no sooner made it out of the Tower when I looked up and saw the building collapsing above me. I had to run for my life, and I'm not even sure if the rescuer or the man in the wheel chair were able to get far enough away from the tower or the falling debris to have made it to safety themselves.

But here I am, and for all intents and purposes I am fine, shaken, perhaps lost, but alive. The amount of coffee I have had to drink in the last three days also has not helped matters much, I might add.

You may already know from various news reports, I am one of only a handful of Al Jazeera employees that made it out of the Towers before their collapse. Journalists being what they are, my colleagues most likely chose to stay and report on the events enveloping them rather than decamp and lose a story.

So, tragically, if one had not begun to evacuate Tower 2 after the first plane crashed into Tower 1, it would become all but impossible after the second plane effectively sheared Tower 2 in half, destroying the Sky Bridge, not to mention elevator and stairwell access between the 35th to 45th floors. I'm to understand that everybody who worked on or below the 35th flr got out safely, but those above 45 were irrevocably doomed.

Since I haven't heard from Anita or Daim by now, I think it is more than likely neither escaped before the second plane hit. They were, after all, attending a staff meeting that morning @ the sixtieth floor office of Al Jazeera. Of course, the only reason I was not with them was because I had been assigned the task of occupying an interview subject on the 36th floor until what we anticipated would be their late arrival.

What is one supposed to do or say to these facts? That I am indeed one of the fortunate ones? If I am so lucky, then why has this experience left such a profound effect of disappointment upon my soul? It must be, I think, because this so called gift of luck is coupled with the knowledge that all my colleagues are dead.

I'm not sure now what happens with my job, either. There is no office here, no broadcast studio and what few AJI employees remain can hardly be said to make up a staff. I suspect I will either be released of my obligations and return to New York, or that Al Jazeera will transfer me to another broadcast center, perhaps in London or Qatar.

And yet regardless of the current chaos, I absolutely do not want to return to New York, at least not right now. For I believe that if I don't stay to see this through to the end, I will return to New York a casualty instead of a survivor. It is clear to me: I belong in Kuala Lumpur, at least until I, my employer or the Malaysian government decides otherwise.

Naturally we are all asking who is responsible for this deed. I don't know what they are saying in the States, although I've heard that nothing points to Al-Qaeda. Still, many other theories abound. Most point to Kashmir militants in northern India as being the perpetrators of this terrible act of terrorism, but if that is so, why did they also attack Indonesia and Malaysia? It makes no sense.

Then I've heard some truly whacked out conspiracy theories floating around here as well. For instance, just recently Debenhams, a British retailer, shuttered their 100,000 square foot Malaysian flagship department-store that served as an anchor to Kuala Lumpur's Berjaya Times Square shopping site. Now some of the deeply paranoid people here are now asking if management back in the UK possibly knew beforehand of the impending attack, and maybe that is why they made sure all their employees who were British nationals were long out of the country before July 27.

Personally, I don't think there's any merit to the story, of course. It's too surreal to be true. But then repeating the events of 9/11 five years later on the other side of the world is also pretty surreal, so I'm not sure how reliable I can be the judge of anything these days.

Still, it's amazing how many people here think that British secret agents are somehow responsible, so maybe there's something to it. I overheard one conversation based around a theory that the events of 7/27 were hatched out of an awkward strategy to put the broken pieces of a long broken empire back together again. Yet I cannot fathom the possibility that such a plan could actually be considered, much less carried out. But if Bush can lie the American public into war in Iraq, then I suppose anything really is possible.

In the meantime, it may come as no surprise you that in these dark moments I have sought and found some small solace in the Qur'an. I brought an old copy with me but had not leafed through it since I got here, well since I was a high school student, actually.

Funny –if I can use that word– how the spinning axis of the world, abruptly pushed askew, has by chance effect made this Muslim Nation of Malaysia its white-hot center. It makes me think that if I possess any luck at all, it is because I am now lucky to have such comforting passages to help me find my own center again. Does that sound clichéd and trite? Well, pardon me for saying, but I find that there is actually something quite reassuring in such triteness right now, and I am very happy to have it.

btw, the American office has asked me to write a personal account of my experience for possible posting to the international website as a human interest story. My miraculous survival is newsworthy, apparently, but you must know that this was not the big break I was hoping for.

and Terry: thanks for calling my parents. I spoke with my mom and dad earlier this morning and they told me you called. glad you did.

And T., Jasp, Annika –thank you all for your prayers!

OK, assuming I continue to get WiFi, I'm going to post a local news article for you lot–

s

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Finally found a number for Siraj's parents. Word is not good. They haven't heard from him either and his mom is worried sick about him. It's been THREE DAYS already! It seems like there is just no good news coming out of Southeast Asia right now.

damn, this is tragic–

but you gotta keep hoping against hope–

and that's what I'm doing–

T.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

hi boyz...terry, jasper...

it's been two horrible days already an no one's heard from Siraj?

siraj, if you're out there... call, email or just log in!!!!

isn't it ironic how if siraj hadn't mentioned the fact that there was an ASEAN conference in malaysia, then i don't think any of us would have even heard about it... or if we did hear about it, would we have paid any attention to it? ...i don't think so...

and now because siraj has been missing for a couple of days and we don't know what happened to him, if he's even dead or alive, i've since gone online and read all about the ASEAN association. It's sort of like the european union, i guess, but for southeast asia.

no one ever thinks about what diplomats do, but sometimes it seems like they really do amazing things. and no one ever hears about it.

did any of you know that canada's own minister of foreign affairs, Peter MacKay, was actually en route to the conference when the petronas towers fell?

and when they announced the event during his flight, i think they were flying over vietnam, the canadian delegation didn't turn right around and come right home like you think they would. of course, no one would blame them if they did. But they didn't. they went right on to kuala lumpur, and yesterday mackay followed through and signed the ASEAN-Canada Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism, just like he said he was going to do.

k., so who knows if it will accomplish anything, really, i don't know how these things go, but i mention it now because siraj mentioned it before and so... and somehow i think now it's got to be important... am I just being stupid about this?

it makes me proud to be a canuck right now anywayz...


and when i really think about it, I'm really, really glad mackay did sign the declaration... especially since I heard condoleezza rice was like on the next plane back to Washington. i can't believe that's true, tho, cause I thought she and mackay were sleeping together. i guess they aren't if she left... unless the US government recalled her back to DC for matters concerning national security blah blah blah...

i don't know , but i think they're both kind of hot for policy wonks... aren't they? so why shouldn't they?... i know the jasp has the hots for condi and don't even try to deny it sweetie, you can't fool me... tee hee...

anywayz, despite the tragedy in india, indonesia and malaysia (SIRAJ WHERE ARE U?), I just wanted to take this moment to emphasize how proud I am of peter makay, canada's minister of foreign affairs.

i guess as siraj would say...

small consolations, but consolations nonetheless...

a. :(

Friday, July 28, 2006

Jasper here–

Fucking scary photo, right? It must be pretty insane in Malaysia right now, cause I feel like I can feel the chaos right here in the US.

Met this Indian girl in my building, Vedanti, last night, a real mess. She told me she has two brothers who worked for Microsoft in Tower 2. They were on the thirtieth floor, so she thinks they probably got out, but she hasn't heard from them yet. So she's a furkin' wreck of course.

And still no word from Siraj, right? Anybody?

Does anyone know how to get in touch with his parents?

Damn, I was over at Cozy early this morning for breakfast, and all those guys are just devastated. I don't know how they can keep going. They should just close up shop through the weekend. Maybe by Monday the world will get a grip on itself.

When is someone going to tell us what the fuck is going on over there?


Photo Credit: Asian Pacific Press
Malaysian Times – July 28, 2006 – Kuala Lumpur Attacked

Malaysian Times
Jasp here- by now everyone is thinking what I'm thinking –it does not look good for Siraj! does anyone know anyone who's heard from him? has anyone tried calling his parents to see if he called them or if they were contacted by the authorities? i wish i had their number. i don't want to think the worse, but didn't he say he was in Tower 2? it went down at 9:58am. it was 8:40am when he posted his last entry. so, he had the time, i think, and he could have gotten out, but and i quote–

"At 9:04 AM, hijacked Al-Qadar Airlines Flight 705 hit 2 Petronas, crashing through the 37th to 44th floors."


and we know that cause it took off the sky bridge connecting the towers. and that guy's office that siraj was sitting in when he was posting was on the 36th floor. so, think about, when you see that video and see the big fireball exploding out of the middle of Tower 2, that's where Siraj was sittin, posting to us!

i don't know, i just don't know what to think about this–

see below, from the Malaysian Times, yeah I know you can read it in the American press, but damn, these writers were there and the way they tell it, it's fucking visceral.

in the meantime, don't anyone stop praying for SIRAJ!

* * *

THOUSANDS DEAD IN MALAYSIA AS JETS DESTROY PETRONAS TOWERS

MALAYSIAN TIMES: Kuala Lumpur – July 28, 2006: On the morning of the first day of Rajab, July 27, 2006, in an inconceivably bizarre parallel to the September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center in the United States, the cabins of Al-Qadar Airlines Flight’s 311, 705, 1012 and 1013 were breached by an as of yet unknown number of men. Two of the planes were flown directly into the Petronas Twin Towers. Another jet crashed in Mumbai killing hundreds, and the fourth was lost at sea, apparently well before it reached its apparent target in Indonesia.

Both motivation and association of the hijackers are unknown. In Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, a city of 16 million, Indian police suspect that Kashmiri militants could be linked to the attacks. Although what effect targeting Malaysia and Indonesia could have on their cause is also unknown.

In Kuala Lumpur, local law enforcement officers are said to be interviewing key members of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress. Earlier this year the MTUC led a crowd of hundreds to the Petronas Twin Towers where protesters, defying a ban on public assemblies, chanted anti-government slogans, which called for lower fuel prices. The Malaysian Government raised petrol prices in February as part of a larger effort to curb subsidies. At the time, more than 20 demonstrators were arrested, and some of those allege receiving critical beatings by authorities.

The first hijacked plane, Al-Qadar Airlines Flight 311, a 737 en route from Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) to Mumbai International Airport (BOM) was diverted to Malaysia where it descended to approximately three hundred and twenty meters above sea level. Current reports estimate the speed of the low flying jet at upwards to five hundred miles an hour. Attempts by KLIA Air Traffic Control to contact the hijackers failed. Once over the Malay Peninsula, the plane cut a direct path across Kuala Lumpur, before turning a wide arc –apparently using the Titiwangsa Monorail station as a landmark. Completing the arc, the jet then finished it’s flight when it collided into the upper potion of Petronas Tower 1, leaving a surreal smoldering hole in its wake.

The moment of impact was at 8:45 AM.

Evidence suggests hundreds were killed on impact; that the building’s stairwells above the seventy-sixth floor became impassable; and that survivors inhabiting the seventy-seventh through eighty-sixth floors had no choice but to wait for aid and assistance. Some occupants of the tower apparently expected airborne evacuation by helicopter rescue teams that never arrived. Those below the seventy-seventh floor had a brief opportunity to escape the burning tower via the sky bridge that connects the two towers at the 41st and 42nd floors.

Initial reports detail a structural shudder in Tower 1 upon impact, but it produced no panic in those unaware of the unfolding event above them.

At about 8:51, an announcement over the public-address system in the still unscathed Tower 2 stated that while an incident had occurred Tower 1, Tower 2 was safe and that occupants should remain in –or return to– their offices. Clearly, the prospect of another plane hitting Tower 2 was beyond the contemplation of anyone in an advisory position. As a result of the announcement, many civilians reversed evacuation and returned to their offices.

At about the same time, arriving Rescue Units were ordered into Tower 1. By then, although it was clear a plane had hit the building, those in charge did not realize that the explosion had been large enough to send a fireball down the shaft which blew out elevators throughout the building, and all of the windows in the lobby. Conditions were in fact so dire that some employees of Petroliam Nasional, whose offices fully occupy Tower 1, began jumping from the upper floors of the building.

In the eighteen minute period between 8:45 and 9:03 A.M. well over a thousand first responders had been deployed and an evacuation had begun, with a central command post having been set up in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a five star hotel immediately across from the Towers in the KLCC complex. Though the scene was still chaotic, at 9:00 AM one officer was heard to comment, “At least the worst is over.”

At 9:04 AM, hijacked Al-Qadar Airlines Flight 705 hit 2 Petronas, crashing through the 37th to 44th floors.

Upon impact a jet fuel fireball erupted out the other side of Tower 2, weakening the structure and causing further severe structural damage to Tower 1. As the jet tore through the edifice at hundreds of mile an hour, parts of the plane or the building effectively sheared through the suspended sky bridge, which joined the towers. The resulting rupture is thought to have sent at least a hundred bodies down to their deaths on to the roof of Suria KLCC, the six-story shopping mall nestled between the towers.

At 9:38 AM (7:08AM local Indian Time), hijacked Al-Qadar Airlines Flight 1012 crashed into the streets of Mumbai. It's ultimate target or mission is thus far unknown. Hundreds of Indian nationals died in the fire ball as the plane careened though intensely crowded early morning rush hour traffic.

At 9:58AM, Tower 2 collapsed, killing all civilians and emergency personnel inside, as well a number of individuals in Suria KLCC. The top of the building tilted off its axis and then fell on top, and into, nearby Maxis Tower. KLCC station also suffered significant damage. The lower half of the tower collapsed into itself, creating a massive debris cloud.

The offices of Tower 2 were leased by Petroliam Nasional to a number of various tenants, including recent arrival Al-Jazeera International, which moved into the sixtieth floor earlier in the spring and expected a channel launch in September.

At 10:07 AM, hijacked Al-Qadar Airlines Flight 1013, originally bound for Bangkok from Perth, and thought to have as its target a military installation in Jakarta, Indonesia crashes in the Straits of Malacca after –it is believed– passengers struggled with the highjackers in a vain attempt to regain control of the airplane. In all 67 passengers and crew die in the fatal open sea crash.

In Malaysia, Petronas Tower 1 finally collapsed at 10:28 A.M., killing all civilians alive on upper floors, an undetermined number below, and scores of first responders. Many Kuala Lumpur Emergency Responders senior staff were also killed. Incredibly, twelve firefighters and three civilians –one of which a was reporter for Al Jazeera shadowing the firefighters in their rescue mission– survived its collapse…


Malaysian Times

Thursday, July 27, 2006

This is too fuckin' surreal. Does anyone really know just what the hell is going on over there? Terry call me if you're logged in. I gotta take a break. I'm going out to get hammered. Annika, wish you were here with me, baby.

–Jasp


Mumbai, India: At 7:08AM local Indian Time, hijacked Al-Qadar Airlines Flight 1012 crashed into the streets of Mumbai. Its ultimate target is thus far unknown. Hundreds of Indian nationals died in the fireball as the plane careened though crowded early rush hour traffic in a section of the city known for hosting several prominent Internet Technology companies. Local authorities suspect that Kashmiri militants could be linked to the attack here, and in Kuala Lumpur, where two jets brought down the Petronas Twin Towers killing thousands.

CNN

Someone just posted this video at YouTube. I'm going to be sick if our boy Siraj doesn’t get back to us in the next couple of hours.

YouTube
My phone isn't off!

I’ve been trying to get through to Malaysia for the last two hours.

Nothing.

Argh!
Hey, Jasper! ANSWER YOUR DAMN PHONE.

I just emailed Siraj, and Undeliverable Status Notifications keep getting bounced back to me. Is anyone getting through to Malaysia? It seems like planes are just falling out of the sky everywhere in Southeast Asia.
jasper, are you still there? i just logged on after trying you on your cell, but you must have it turned off. this is not fun! and omg they are saying on the news here that another plane just crashed in india. everybody's dead. please call me ASAP. did you hear from siraj yet?

annika :(
HOLY SHIT – PLANES ARE FLYING INTO THE PETRONAS TOWERS! TURN ON YOUR TELEVISION SETS! SIRAJ –IF YOU'RE STILL ONLINE, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE BUILDING!
Hala!

Check out the photo I took this morning with my cell phone. if I have time i'll upload a few more images later. The view is always amazing from Petronas. You can't look out the window without daydreaming, ever, and one always feels on top of the world. This photo was taken from not even half way up!

OK, HoW dO yOu sAy tWiDdLiNg tHuMbS iN mAlAy?

Jasper?
Terry?
Annika?

Anybody?

No, it may be Thursday morning on this side of the world, but Wednesday night is just getting started in America. And you guys are probably just beginning your rounds in Brooklyn or the east village, except for Annika, who in Toronto is probably like me right now, bored out of her mind.

What are you watching tonight, A.? Another captivating crime of the century? Or something funny?

Terry, Jasper– in the unlikely event you login at some point, give my regards to everyone on Ludlow.

It's like 8:30 AM or something here, and I've already been up for three nervous hours. But the friggin' guy still hasn't arrived for the meeting.

To be honest, this morning doesn't happen at all, I will be very relieved. I've only been working at Al Jazeera since Monday, and now I'm somehow supposed to hold some sort of intelligent conversation with the Managing Director of KLCC Urusharta? It's way too much responsibility for me to handle the first week!

In any event, I can tell you that despite the fact I am now currently ensconced in a windowless womb-like, thirty-sixth floor conference room, it is nevertheless a beautiful Thursday morning in Kuala Lumpur. There are no windows where I sit now, and the air conditioning is freezing, but when I ran out for coffee earlier this morning, it was already noticeably pleasant. Maybe I'll get lucky and enjoy some breezy air and sun later today.

Of course, the weather changes every minute here, so for all I know, thunderstorms by lunchtime.

In the meantime, there is WiFi to occupy me, and I am beginning to feel a surge in energy and mood (at last) courtesy the wonderful and magical properties of caffeine.

Small consolations, but consolations nonetheless.

That staff meeting I told you about has probably just started, so that means Anita and Daim are still what 23 or 24 floors above me on 60. Everybody's running late today. Turns out Human Resources has decided to take this moment to explain the company's new health plan. So much for Daim's 'Dealing with Divas' theory.

maybe they're saving that for another day.

wait somethings going on down the hall i'll log back on in a second

s



%i0subw4

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hala!

And now, ladies and gentlemen, directly following a staged reading of The Holy Qu'ran by the ghost of Jeffrey Ross Hyman, Jasper Friedman will read from and his pulp masterwork, Smash Faced Detectives.

ha ha!

I jest, Jasp –don't get riled. I'm actually digging your book. I just finished the last chapter. It's money good.

And I like Precisely! but precisely what, exactly?

& btw Annika –no offense taken. In fact, it was thoughtful of you to make any effort to learn something about my heritage. I do appreciate your sensitivity.

Although, perhaps your comments about the burka were not really sensitive, but on a fundamental level, I agree with you.

In the meantime, I have fortunately become less sensitive to the charms of Anita. Who knew she could be so fucking bossy. The truth is an entry level broadcast journalism position has more in common with waiting tables than you would think. Otherwise, I actually like the job a lot so far.

We raced all over Tower II today, which would have been fine if I wasn't also spending half the time in the elevator bobbing up and down sixty floors so I could keep someone in constant supply of perfectly hot lattes. Besides that, the actual interviews were fun. First we hit FKJ Asia-Pacific on Level 70, then visited Mitsubishi down on Level 33. That was followed by Bloomberg, which if you can believe it is just one floor above us (!) on Level 61. Then it was fucking back down to the third floor for me because I forgot to ask for extra cinnamon on the lady's foam.

I heard something funny today, tho– Everyone at Bloomberg jokes that when they moved in and had the electricians install production cables into the floors of their studios, they also installed eavesdropping devices wired to our ceiling. Although apparently some people at Al Jazeera don't think it's a joke, haha. Anita told me she swears she always sees this guy with a stethoscope going up to 61, and to quote: “He doesn't look like a doctor to me.”

You know, I wouldn't be surprised if it were true!

OK, but despite the constant coffee runs today, the really BIG news today is that I might have caught a very minor professional break, TBD, for what it's worth. Operations called a mandatory meeting tomorrow for all employees who do not appear on-air. That of course includes me. But depending on the shift one works, you can either attend an 8:30AM meeting, or one later in the evening meeting @ 5:30PM.

Daim thinks that Human Resources wants to give all of the behind-the-scenes staffers a primer on appropriate office behavior when interacting with on-air personalities. I think he called it: Dealing With Divas.

Regardless, both meetings interrupt our production schedule. Anita has already booked an 8:30AM and a 5:00 PM interview for tomorrow. So the only way to make them both happen is to juggle personnel between the two meetings.

The plan is for Anita and Daim to catch the 8:30AM AJI meeting, while I delay the interview, and then I'll just catch the afternoon meeting.

They think they'll be able to sneak out of the 8:30AM early enough to conduct the morning interview. But in order for that to work, they want me to head down to the thirty-sixth floor and stall for as long as possible. Sounds easy enough but I'm supposed to keep some guy from leaving via some combo of gregarious personality and my seasoned journalism skills.

cough cough.

Daim says not to worry about it and no problem, just talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger, that everyone in Malaysia saw TERMINATOR and that they love Arnold almost as much as they love Big Macs. Failing that, though, Anita authorized me to actually begin the interview (!), albeit with a series of bullshit preliminary questions.

Personally, I don't think the Schwarzenegger strategy is going to work, at least not any longer than five minutes.

Although, who knows, the interview subject is Tuan Haji Mahlil Omar, the Managing Director of KLCC Urusharta, which is responsible for the safety and security aspects of The Petronas Towers. Barring issues of national security here, that's about as serious a security job as it gets. The KLCC complex is essentially an impenetrable fortress, so there is no issue of lack security, in fact just the opposite. Anita simply wants Omar to explain, indeed, exactly how well managed and organized the safety measures at the Towers are.

The bullshit questions she wants me to start with will probably never get to air. They were composed only to buy her and Daim time. But I find them interesting anyway. They touch on the subject of form vs. function, in so far as it might apply to managing a building that everyone agrees is an architectural masterpiece. The towers, you may or might not know were designed by Cesar Pelli for the national energy company, Petroliam Nasional. Since I took some Art History as an under grad, I should be able to fake my way through it.

See, gotta ask the tough questions cause we're journalists. Not that I'm anywhere near being a journalist yet, but I carry a pencil and a cup of coffee, for other people, but still.

OK, BS though my role might be, I'm still pretty excited. I'm anxious and nauseous, too, to tell the truth, but since Anita wrote a pretty tight script for me to follow, what's the worst that could happen? I embarrass myself?

And no surprise, depite the fact that I was furious having to run coffee for Anita all day (she drinks more than I do, and I didn't think that was possible), I am still wild over her. But for all I know, when she throws what I take to be a doe eyed look my way she's probably actually thinking: 'Where did they find this idiot?'.

I wonder what my dad would say if we hooked up. Yeah he married a Catholic, but my mom converted. Annita is Hindi. I guess ours will be a vegetarian household. Oh, I'm completely aware I'm getting way ahead of myself.

You guys don't think it's too soon to ask her out for dinner, do you? Of course, it is, but I want to, anyway.

And I know you don't care but both the Brazilian and the French girls are left Kuala Lumpur today. Got me thinking that I need to move out, too, and find a real apartment. Hostel living gets old fast. Now I'm thinking Space Age Arabian Bachelor Pad –haha!

On a completely different subject: Jasper your previous statements expressing loyalty to both the United States and Israel is not just understandable, I currently find myself experiencing a bit of that myself. Anywhere outside New York, I'm a New Yorker; but in New York, I'm Lebanese. And here in Malaysia, the minute I open my mouth people label me simply as an American. Funny, right?

EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING is COMPLICATED, it seems.

OK, so, on that note, this concludes another broadcast day from Casa Embron, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. If I have moment, I'll login and let you guys know how tomorrow's interview goes after I get through it–

Okay, yalla bye!

SIRAJ!
Siraj–

Your last post was a trip.

But North Dakota, dude? The Promise Land? Are you kidding me? I don't think so. You can keep it. As a matter of fact, and no offense to the beautiful people of North Dakota, but I would prefer New Jersey over North Dakota.

But either way, my promise land is right here– New York City.

Yeah, I would fight for Israel's right to exist. And I'm proud to be a citizen of the good old U.S of A. I would never change that.

My country and my religion right or wrong. What makes that especially cool is that, in my case, neither has actually ever been wrong. You can't say that about any other nation or faith, really. But whatever. Even in relation to Tibetan Buddhism. Am I the only one tired of the Dalai Lama whining over Chinese occupation of Tibet? The Tibetan Buddhists themselves were an occupying force, but we'll save that for another rant.

Seriously, tho, give New York nation status, and then things get tricky. The Big Apple has a lot of things going for it. If it were it's own country I would really consider defecting just so I could say I live in Brooklyn.

So, you want me to choose between North Dakota, or the city that never sleeps? Lemme tell ya: A lot you can do if you can stay awake all the time.

Better cheesecake in Brooklyn than in North Dakota (I'm sure).
Better bagels in Manhattan than New Jersey, I might add (not just my opinion).
I think it's the water.
Either that or the mob higher standards than even orthodox rabbis.

And if I ever get the impulse to travel overseas for any other reason than to catch a wave and enjoy the surf, I'll go to Queens, thank you very much.

At least you don't need a passport to visit Astoria.

Hey, I know it sounds myopic, but maybe you all should just call me if the Chinese invade the Persian Gulf and start to lay claim to what's left of our Saudi oil reserves.

That's when you know we're all really deep in it–

Thankfully, the world can't get any more fucked up than it is.

now, damn, people, i'm late, my day is just beginning, so i gotta run to work. Apparently someone in Wolfsburg thinks a fresh tag line from a New York ad agency will help them sell more German cars. My first and only suggestion so far was:

Precisely!

but the client wants cute, and my boss thinks it sounds like a catch phrase from a sitcom.

They say there's a science to advertising, but a it's still all just voo doo marketing to me. I'm sure I can come up with something. I mean, you know, I have actually done this before.

Ironic that the client selected a New York agency, because everyone I know takes the subway to work. I haven't driven a vehicle since I moved here, and that was almost twelve years ago. in fact:

metrocard, muffin and triple espresso: who needs fuel –that is fuel!

and yeah, of course, Annika, The Ramones rock!

The Jasp

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

found it!

but first, siraj i was thinking about it and I hope I didn't offend u. even tho i'm beautiful, i can be such an ugly american, even though i'm canadian and half chinese. i'm just blathering tonight. this is what happens when there's no desert in the house. i go completely bonkers. sugar withdrawal, it's ugly... how does my mother live in this house without chocolate?

anywayz, i told you boyz that i would post a passage from the koran, so here it is.

it's called 'The Early Hours'...

and as i said before, i think I like it because it reminds me a fair bit of Psalms:

ad-Duha: THE EARLY HOURS

By the morning hours
And by the night when it is stillest,
Thy Lord hath not forsaken thee nor doth He hate thee,
And verily the latter portion will be better for thee than the former,
And verily thy Lord will give unto thee so that thou wilt be content.

Did He not find thee an orphan and protect thee?
Did He not find thee wandering and direct thee?
Did He not find thee destitute and enrich thee?

Therefore the orphan oppress not,
Therefore the beggar drive not away,
Therefore of the bounty of thy Lord be thy discourse.


*

sigh...and i think that's why they call it 'inspired'. i think u just have to be a prophet or Bob Dylan to write like that...

sweet dreams–

annika
hi boyz–

i'm definitely staying in toronto for 1 more week... my mom wants me to stay... and it's utterly gloomy here. well, of course it is, mazarine just died and I totally respected her. She practically raised me! But now I feel like I just need to get out and have a good time for a little bit...

but nothing to do, nowhere to go oh... (everybody now)

i wanna be sedated... :)

do u guyz just love the ramones as much as i do? sad to say, but the world's greatest punk band is about the only thing keeping me sane right now...

btw, siraj– regarding ur last post, somehow I knew that canada did a bit of trade with southeast asia, maybe because there are so many people from india here. but are those kinds of stories really on anyone's radar?... not in the national news, i can tell u that. either that, or i'm not paying attention, which is... okay, also a likely possibility, tee hee.

but now that u do bring it my attention, it's fascinating. it's like secret news. an 'ASEAN-Canada Joint Cooperation Work Plan'? what do you think that means? does that mean that i can get a job in kuala lumpur, too? moi? do any southeast asian governments employ fiction riders? or i could teach english! maybe i should apply for a work visa? i really want to go to vietnam! sometime in my life, anywayz...

before i forget: terry and siraj, if u haven't already downloaded jasper's SMASH FACED DETECTIVES manuscript, do so right now. i read chapter 14 this afternoon and it's so great! i was busting a gut! many guts in fact. girlish guts, of course, but guts nonetheless! and you know how moody I've been since mazarine’s passing, but jasper's story really is so funny, it really lifted my spirits, even as a first draft!

btw, siraj, sweetie, with the middle east in the news (again), and you in malaysia, i was inspired to go online and see what I could learn about the islam religion. I was just curious, u know, even though of course curiosity killed the cat and all that...

first, i can solidly report that there’s no chance I’ll ever be converted to islam. u know, i just have to be honest with the fact that fashion is a priority for me. so even tho i'm a christian, i practically worship the gay designers who make me live to shop. and you can all laugh if you want to but we all have an individual relationship with God, and I experience my god thru textiles. siraj, honey, have you seen what arabic women wear these days? apologies in advance, but there's a reason that mecca is not the fashion capital of the world.

and b4 you say anything, i know some women in those countries probably think those burka thingies somehow empower them in some way, but I just think that I look too fabulous to hide my looks. and no, i am not vain. sorry if the fact that you can see my face may make some members of the male species want to throw themselves at me, but that doesn't mean I'm immodest or that I'm asking for it. it just means that some men are born broken or monsters or worse. or i can't rule out maybe they have good taste.

la.

i'm not limiting my comments only to islam. jesus might have been the son of God, but he was still a carpenter and geez, just cause he was born in the desert doesn't mean you should have to wear a sheet. God doesn't want me to wear stilettos. of course he does! and why do you think he put tah tahs on the front of a lady? well so that we we can show off the majestic beauty of His creation!

and i am magnificent if i do say so myself.

hee.

let's not forget that jasper has on occasion begged me to convert to judaism. do u what my mother would do if i did? she would crucify me. so not going to happen la la la.

besides being a lapsed catholic suits me just fine. and if jasper and i ever have kids together, we can always join a Universalist Unitarian church. they believe in just about everything, don't they?

well, i heard they do, so it better be true.

btw, siraj, is it Koran or is it Qur'an?.

Would u mind if I just abbrev and say K-ran or Q-ran?...or is that just in incredibly poor taste?

the reason I ask, is because add a hyphen and u could have a sacred hiphop best seller on your hands.

I'm going to hell, right? don't hate me because i'm funny! :) it's late, i'm tired, there's no chocolate in the house and so i'm allowed 2 be loopy!

besides, girls don't go to hell. didn't u know that? we just go to Paris. it's in the bible, maybe in a footnote... i forget which edition. Revelations 101: a chamomile bath awaits every raptured woman.

anywayz, the truth is i did read quite a bit of the Koran, and what i read i found remarkably beautiful!

k., some of was boring, too, honestly, but that's because most religious things make me sleepy.

what was amaZing tho, was that some of it actually reminded me of the Book of Psalms. like it even struck me that the Koran could be maybe be like the Bible Version 2.0.

but that shouldn't come as a surprise, because like same source, right? ;)

maybe i'll try to post something i read a little later tonight... let's see if I can find it again!

misses and kisses,

xo

annika
btw, Jasp, Terry, Annika–

FYI: if anyone cares about such things, over the next few days Kuala Lumpur is hosting a big international conference for members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).


ASEAN and the US celebrate the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations this year, and as such, the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in town to discuss some sort of master plan to enhance ASEAN-US relations and cooperation for the next five years.

Some of the proposed measures/activities I've read about include:

A. The conclusion of the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement;
B. Exploring the possibility of holding an ASEAN-US Summit in the future;
C. Securing support for the realisation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration;
D. Capacity building of small and medium enterprises;
E. Cooperation on preventing, controlling and reducing the impact of communicable and pandemic diseases;
F. And promoting people-to-people contacts.

Seems to me you manage #5 by limiting #6, but what do I know; I was waiting tables two weeks ago.

Annika, you might know this already, but apparently a formal announcement is also forthcoming of both an ASEAN-Canada Joint Cooperation Work Plan and a Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism (between ASEAN and Canada).

Probably boring to you guys, but maybe not? Isn't it ironic, though, that just when I thought I left the United States, here comes Uncle Sam with solid promises of even more McDonalds franchises in Kuala Lumpur.

Anyway, earlier today Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian Prime Minister, kicked off the Opening of the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur. Transcript of his speech follows below. You guys should read it. It really helped me get a handle on what they're thinking about in this part of the world.

Jasper, be sure to check out bullets #10 and #11, where Badawi touches on some of the issues we've been talking about.

"We should condemn Israel’s latest use of disproportionate force in Gaza and in the West Bank. We should not tolerate Israel’s excessive military reprisals against Lebanon."..."The Middle East peace process is now in tatters. The international community must unite to bring about a resumption of peaceful negotiations. The core issue remains the sixty years of suffering and humiliation of the Palestinian people".

His words, not mine, though it's nice to know that even here in Malaysia people are thinking about the welfare of Lebanon.

So, Jasp, shoot me an email or post your thoughts here after your head explodes.

ha!

And now without further ado, and despite the fact that I know I should really dry out, I'm going out getting hammered–

SIRAJ!


* * *

Address by the Honourable Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia at the Opening of the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, 25 July 2006

"Forging a United, Resilient and Integrated ASEAN"

Ministers and Delegates,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

First and foremost, let me extend a very warm welcome to all present. I am very pleased indeed to have this opportunity of addressing all of you on this important occasion of the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM). It certainly brings back pleasant memories of when I was Foreign Minister and took part in the annual AMM from 1991 to 1998.

Ladies and gentlemen,

2. It is important for us to remind ourselves that ASEAN is almost 40 years old today and capable of growing stronger. It is important to do this because we should never take for granted the fact that ASEAN has served the people of Southeast Asia well. It has kept the peace between its members, enabling regional cooperation to flourish and contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of the people. We need to recall this fact of history so that we constantly remind ourselves to nurture ASEAN and keep it central to the lives of the people in Southeast Asia for at least another 40 years, and more.

3. In a very pertinent way, the history of ASEAN had actually mirrored the history of global strategic developments. In 1967, when ASEAN was formed, Southeast Asia was deeply divided in theory and in practice because our countries were then caught in the middle of the Cold War. We sided with either of two antagonistic blocs which espoused two different ideologies. A turning point for ASEAN came in 1995 when Vietnam joined the Association. With the ending of the Cold War, ASEAN was able to exert its own identity as a truly indigenous regional grouping, independent and aligned to none. Our grouping became complete when Cambodia joined as a member of ASEAN in 1999.

4. Just as ASEAN’s history mirrored global strategic developments, ASEAN’s future will also be affected by the new wave of globalization. The new challenges confronting ASEAN countries are therefore not only economic, social and internal but also strategic and global in nature. These challenges emanate from beyond our region and are therefore out of our immediate control. All of these will severely test ASEAN’s unity and cohesion. But we must be steadfast in keeping our solidarity and remain focused on achieving our common mission of fostering greater and greater regional integration.

5. As sovereign countries committed to regionalism in Southeast Asia, we have demonstrated our determination to chart our own future when we adopted, in 2003, the ASEAN Concord II. That act was a solemn commitment to transform ourselves from an Association into a community of nations by a certain date in the future. We have since decided to start work on writing an ASEAN Charter. We have to move to become a true community because we cannot change our geography. We should never allow our countries to be divided again as they once were 40 years ago.

6. Thus, after nearly four decades of evolution, ASEAN is now engaged in a crucial stage of its development of transforming itself from being an Association since 1967 into an integrated and harmonious Community by the year 2020. We in Malaysia are preparing for that day. This year 2006, we launched our 9th National Development Plan for the next five years, as the first of a three-part National Mission of making Malaysia a fully developed nation by the year 2020. This is Malaysia’s contribution to the strengthening of the regional economic order.

7. There is one additional reason why ASEAN countries must integrate more and integrate quickly. ASEAN has declared its wish to promote the growth of a larger community of East Asian countries, preferably anchored on the ASEAN plus Three processes. East Asian economic integration can be the first line of defence against regional economic crises such as the one we had in 1997. It will also help to lock-in greater predictability and transparency with regard to the economic policies of regional countries. We must therefore strengthen further the ASEAN plus Three cooperation process which pertinently began in 1997. We should also continue to build upon our success of convening the East Asia Summit which we did at the end of last year, 2005.

8. While ASEAN’s priority should necessarily be the fostering of regional peace, security and cooperation, we must also take part in addressing pressing international issues in order to stake our relevance. We must contribute to the fight against international terrorism. In fact, the scourge of terrorism has also become a menace to the security of our region and the stability of our respective countries. Peace and stability in Southeast Asia will determine whether ASEAN succeeds or fails as a regional organization. Peaceful conditions have always been the prerequisite for cooperation to endure and grow. While peace is indeed an end in itself, we cannot bring economic and social benefits to the people unless peace exists. Terrorism disturbs the international order and it can create disharmony among regional countries. Terrorism kills innocent lives and destroys valuable assets. We must demonstrate our determination to cooperate and eliminate, from our midst in Southeast Asia, the threat of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

9. In the same way, as responsible members of the international community, ASEAN countries should not appear indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians. The latest developments in the Middle East are gravely threatening international peace and security. I feel that that we in ASEAN must make our voices heard, loudly and clearly, that we cannot continue tolerating the subjugation and repression of the Palestinian people by Israel. This has been one of the most profound tragedies of our time. The situation has been made worse by the illegal construction of the separation wall by Israel in the occupied Palestinian Territories. This tragedy will not end unless there is an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands. There will be no lasting solution to the conflict until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are fulfilled for an independent and sovereign State of Palestine.

10. We should condemn Israel’s latest use of disproportionate force in Gaza and in the West Bank. We should not tolerate Israel’s excessive military reprisals against Lebanon. The collective punishment inflicted upon the Lebanese people and the destruction of towns and cities are unconscionable. The military incursions into Lebanese territory are in blatant disregard for Lebanon’s sovereignty. The United Nations Security Council should take action to call for an immediate ceasefire, deploy a United Nations Peace-Keeping Force to implement the ceasefire and prevent an invasion of Lebanon by Israel.

11. The Middle East peace process is now in tatters. The international community must unite to bring about a resumption of peaceful negotiations. The core issue remains the sixty years of suffering and humiliation of the Palestinian people. This is a fact which speaks poorly of the efficacy of international diplomacy. But the international community cannot continue to evade its responsibility of finding a comprehensive, just and durable solution which should include bringing into being an independent state of Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace, within secure and recognized borders.

12. In our own region in Southeast Asia, the maintenance of peace and security must remain, always, our top priority. In the wake of troubles elsewhere in the world, the value of tranquility and stability which we have in our own neighborhood should be self evident. Community building is one of the best ways of building peace and keeping the peace. Therefore, building the ASEAN community, block by block, should be a constant item in the annual ASEAN agenda of deliberations and programme of action.

13. I hold the view that community building in ASEAN should adopt the approach of proceeding step-by-step, instrument-by-instrument, institution-by-institution. This is the only way to ensure that we achieve true consensus on establishing a set of common values, perceptions and outlook.

14. ASEAN the Association is said to be sui generis, that is to say, altogether unique. ASEAN the Community will equally be sui generis. The integration process will not require member states to forfeit their sovereign rights and competencies. They will remain free to pursue their core national or bilateral interests. In fact, I envisage that the ASEAN Community will create an environment which enables the individuality of the member states to flourish while they share, at the same time, certain common principles, practices and values.

15. We have, of course, already decided that the ASEAN Community shall be built upon the three pillars of the ASEAN Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. In this effort, it is my belief nevertheless that certain overarching principles must always prevail in all the three cases.

16. First, there should be universal acceptance that community interests would prevail over national interests on issues affecting the community. We must find a formula where the larger community interest should never become subordinate to the veto of only one or a few members.

17. Second, there should be put in place capacities for enforcing community decisions. Our record of incorporating ASEAN decisions into our respective national legislations are very poor indeed. We have done better in giving national effect to wider international treaties and conventions. We should be able to do the same for ASEAN treaties and agreements.

18. Third, there must be adherence, by community members, to a common set of community values. Some of these values may be universal in nature but others could be distinctly ASEAN in character. Topping the list of values must be the acceptance of good governance in our respective countries and societies.

19. In our region, the situation in Myanmar is impacting upon the image and credibility of ASEAN. We would very much like to have Myanmar move forward with the rest of ASEAN. Therefore, we also hope that the Government of Myanmar will take the necessary steps to enable Myanmar to so move forward with the rest of ASEAN. This is an important part of the task of community building in this region.

20. We should look forward to receiving the report of the Eminent Persons Group and acting upon their recommendations on the establishment of an ASEAN Charter. That will indeed be a major leap forward in our work of placing the building blocks for the ASEAN Community. I hope we can celebrate the real 40th anniversary of ASEAN, next year, with that feather in our cap.

21. As Malaysia completes its Chairmanship of the ASEAN Standing Committee in a few days, I feel satisfied that we have done our part in the past one year steering ASEAN in the right direction. We look forward to doing further work, in particular regarding the ASEAN Economic Community, when Malaysia assumes the Chair of the 38th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting next month. I do hope that the next AMM will see further concrete progress in our common endeavor of forging a united, resilient and integrated ASEAN. I wish all the Foreign Ministers and delegates success in their deliberations over the next few days. And it is now with great pleasure, that I declare open the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.

I thank you.


*

ASEAN
Hala!

Jasper, let it go. You are Jewish and you I are friends. I can, therefore, without any irony, say some of my best friends are Jews. And while I am a Muslim, I am also an American. As such, I do not regard Israel as an apartheid regime (as many outside the United States consider it). Nor do I deny your people the safe refuge of a homeland. Just, perhaps, not next door to Lebanon. After all, both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will be highly radioactive after Ahmadinejad bombs the country back to the stone age, ha ha.

But seriously, though, no doubt you will agree the current configuration does nothing more than stir resentment for all parties to the situation. So, in the interest of world peace, I will provide you with another wholly reasonable and I think even more equitable (and dare I say profitable) possibility for a Jewish state.

There are now six or seven million Israeli citizens living in a space that's roughly the size of New Jersey. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, there are less than one million persons living in North Dakota. North Dakota, as you may or may not know, is TEN times bigger than New Jersey. You see where I'm going with this? I say everybody stand up and swap places with a partner from the other country.

–And what about those 800,000 farmers that currently live in North Dakota? Just what do we expect them do once we relocate them to what becomes the former Israeli territory?

Well, first of all, don't tell them it's a DESERT! Tell them it's a 'Promised Land'. Then to each give a bit of land that they might homestead, farm and cultivate crops. It will be tough few years, but I'm pretty certain that our American farmers, armed with agricultural expertise, will eventually grow enough wheat and barley to feed themselves, save Darfur and perhaps even return the Fertile Crescent to its former glory.

You may laugh at me, but I call that a win win situation.

Can we call it a truce, now? I hope so. After all, I gave you NORTH DAKOTA! If that isn't generous of me, I don't know what is.

Anyway, my friend, now let me tell you something that I think you will all find funny about Al Jazeera–

I've made an interesting observation:

As it happens, every other person here (but me) has worked for a media outlet from another part of the world, be it the BBC, NBC, the Canadian Broadcast Corp., Fox, CNN, to name a few. But as a result I think I might actually be the only Muslim on staff at AJI Kuala Lumpur. Now that is either an embarrassing oversight or a stroke of diplomatic genius. Either way, I find it hilarious.

OK, I'm kidding. There are a few Muslims –mostly off camera technical staff. It's what you would call a motley crew with British accent.

Speaking of British accents, the producer I wold you about, Anita, she possesses one of the sexiest I've heard yet. Makes it hard to concentrate. She starts talking and suddenly I realize I'm falling into her eyes or staring at her neckline, right where the top button of her blouse makes a v shape. It's there that a man's mind can turn to jelly if he ponders too long wondering what it would look like if the second button were unbuttoned, too.

Must. Come. Up. For. Oxygen.

Anyway, we all know that Jasper thinks of Al Jazeera as a propaganda vehicle for the Muslim community, but Anita told me, point in fact, that AJI's mission was actually neither to nurture a domestic agenda nor political bias, but simply to deliver the truth. And I believe that's indeed the case. To further quote Joanne Levine, the executive producer of programming for the Al Jazeera International, (who's been hanging out here in Malaysia this last week): she told me personally something about 'bridges needing to be built'.

Count me in.

I think they make a good example of it, already.

So what else happened today? Otak-otak for lunch. That's seasoned fish paste wrapped in banana leaves. First time I had it. Tastes better than it sounds. Not bad with Teh tarik (frothy black tea with condensed milk). Everybody else here sent out for KFC of course. The Colonel's fried chicken is very popular here, and there's no putting that bird back into its cage.

Then fter lunch, Anita, Daim and I started doing the follow-up interviews I told you about in Tower II. Daim is an AJI interviewer/writer and producer, although Anita of course is THE producer. He's also apparently a local KL boy that AJI snatched from RTM (Radio Television Malaysia). Although he's no 'boy'. Daim looks near fifty and he knows his shit. He treats Anita like his equal and me like a kid, and we're both, you know, roughly the same age. So that alone should tell you how much she knows and how much I don't. Just glad to be here, though. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.

My simple instructions, which thankfully I did not fuck up (Daim likes bullet points, and so do I):

• Tag along and don't say anything
• Record producer's notes to digital voice recorder
• Transcribe interviewer's verbal notes to AJI issue laptop
• FTP audio and docs to server immediately after every individual interview (via the Petronas Towers' global WiFi, of course)

Actually, all but one interview this afternoon was conducted as a conference call without us ever having to leave to office. The exception was with Ibrahim Aziz of Electronics Data System IT Services, which is three floors above us on the 63rd floor. Reason being is that the first two interviews were audio only. The EDS interview required more footage for reasons that are well beyond my knowledge of the project or pay grade. But up we went with a camera man. I got to hold a boom mic and learned how to record audio (you push 'record'). Set up took like forty minutes. The shoot took like ten. This isn't a movie, you know, it's journalism. We're in and we're out. It was great, and actually quite easy for me I was surprised to learn. After spending the last five years carrying full trays over my head for parties of five, I could hold a boom mic all day.

Of course, operating the boom is not something I actually aspire to. I want Daim's job: Make up the questions, talk on camera, impress young women with natural sophistication. –it doesn't get any better than that.

Finally, day's done, and Anita let's me go for the evening, but the offices were still churning away with activity. You look at the Petronas Towers at night, and see the lights still on? That's because Al Jazeera is still humming away. Made me think the city may sleep, but the News is obviously mad for insomniacs.

SIRAJ!
Siraj! bro–

Big shout out for getting through the first day on the job, but I'm not about to let the previous discussion go. At least not till I get the last word in!

BAWAHAAA!

I know you're Lebanese, but you said you didn't even support Hezbollah yourself. Then you do a whiz bang job of defending them. So see, looks like Al Jazeera can't brain wash you anyMORE than you already are.

Annika, baby, I’m just saying that our friend Siraj is a couple of days in Malaysia, but his head is already whirling from a day at the mosque. He's making excuses for Hezbollah, and suddenly I'm the bad guy for pointing that out?

Siraj dude, Israel GOOD – Hezbollah BAD.

Well, I will give you credit for being right about at least one thing:

The strongest proponents of Israel are also usually the very same people who typically refuse Jews into their country clubs. Not sure how old I was, probably eight or nine, when I realized that some greens were reserved for Christian feet and others for Jews. And you know what those fat cats in D.C. are thinking:

"We carved out a spot for you in the desert; and we gave you a nuclear arsenal to protect it. Now go build your own damn golf courses."

See this is what the world has come to: Christian golf and Jewish golf, and no one even believes in God anymore.

I mean, Siraj, doesn't that just about sum up US Mideast policy in a nutshell?

but we be friends. I don't like arguing with anyone better than you, cause, I always win with you. ha!

btw, Terry, dude, you should just thank your lucky stars that your relatives are neither in Lebanon nor Israel, but smack dab in the center of Florida. While the Israelis and Lebanese hurl missiles at each other, you and yours have the luxury of watching it from the comfort of a cell phone in Disney World. Since I do happen to have family in Israel, as far as I'm concerned, I get a free pass to shoot my mouth off.

oh and bro: party on Ludlow tonight around 11PM. I'm not sure where– I think you're just supposed to listen for the loudest music on the block and set your GPS accordingly.

Also, you may all like to know that I finished up yet ANOTHER chapter of Smash Faced Detectives over the weekend. Naturally, I’m anxious to get some feedback from you all as soon as possible. So, if you have some time this week, it’s on my FTP page as a Word doc.

File name is SFD_Chptr_14.

It'll make you laugh, for sure.

Not like any of this Mideast stuff really matters, anyway, right? Well, not when The Jasp's original comedy is so readily accessible!

Seriously, tho, I do strongly support Israel's right to exist, but in the end, if we all can't just get along, really whatzit matter?

Maybe nothing, BUT Terry, I still reserve the right to be alternately right wing neo con and liberal American Jew. That's my right, and please don't rob me of my rights. And don't get your panties all bunched up about it either. Your whole fairness schtick gets old, like quick. Take a point, make a point, live by it and die by it. That's my philosophy. And then, of course, sell the rights to it, and get rich if you can.

Annika, when you coming back to the Big Apple, babe? Cause it's true, I am just Wasting away in Williamsburg without you. ;(

(and other select areas of the greater tri-state region).

Peace out, gang–

The Jasp

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hala!

Or rather: Selamat datang! (as they say here in Malaysia).

Ha ha! Jasper, if you're trying to bust my balls, I won't let you do it! I know you better than that. Hey, Annika, The Jasp is a real politico, eh? What is the stronger influence upon the brain of the Jasp? Libertarianism? Zionism? Or is it the neo cons he so admires in Washington? Or some peculiar Frankensteined combination of all three? I love you anyway, my friend. And I'm glad you like the poem. I aim to please.

See, Terry, Annika, you must understand, Jasper and I enjoy such debates. We don't actually want to eliminate each other's people. Leave that to the insurgents ha ha!

OK, honestly, I meant no offense to anyone. Besides, the Jasp and I understand each other's respective positions already. If he and I can get along, then why –I sometimes wonder– can't the parties we argue over?

btw, speaking of parties, the constant partying on my part these last few days has not helped me overcome my jet lag. So, enough of that for a while. It really must come to a stop. Especially since I just finished my first day at Al Jazeera. Even though the day went well, I felt a bit draggy and wobbly throughout the day. Doesn't help that the offices are on the sixtieth floor, either. Fortunately, there are not only 50 McDonalds restaurants within the city limits, but also 38 Starbucks, and two of them –praise God– are located at the base of the skyscraper where I work.

It's true, espresso is a magic substance.

Did as I told you I would. I gave myself an hour to get to the office, but it only took me 20 minutes to reach the Towers, So, I kicked around the park for a half hour first.

Apart from the twin Petronas Towers, the fifty acre Kuala Lumpur City Centre also hosts a mosque, a convention center, a concert hall, apartments and Suria KLCC, a six-story shopping mall, where the two Starbucks I mentioned can be found –one on the Concourse level, and one on the third floor, in case you're ever in the neighborhood, haha, now you now where to go! It would be great if you guys were really here!

For what it's worth, the Americanized food court inside Suria KLCC also features several true blue favorites like Cinnabon, Famous Amos, Häagen-Dazs, Burger King, KFC, Chili's Grill Bar, California Pizza Kitchen and Dunkin Donuts. They really love American fast food here. I mean, judging from the crowds I've seen at these places, anything on the KFC menu, for instance, is even more popular than, say, a more typical Asian side of cuttlefish with spinach in peanut sauce, or even a real Roti chicken. How can that be?

Dunkin Donuts notwithstanding, I bought breakfast on the run this morning from one of Kuala Lumpur's ubiquitous street vendors, and had what I think the man called a 'Mangga Bomb'.

A Mangga Bomb looks like it could be a jelly donut, except that it's coated with brightly colored red confectioners sugar, toasted coconut and sprinkled with a hint of cayenne (!). A deep fried crispy shell surrounds a moist center filling made of sweet pineapple cake and mango mousse.

They LOVE pineapple here.

Thing is like a self-heating hot fruity pie that kicks you in the ass and washes down well afterwards with soy milk and espresso. It's so radically delicious that I recommend you get on a plane to South East Asia immediately. And I think it may even aid in elimination, which is probably incorrect, but that's probably more information than you care to know anyway.

So after stuffing my head with like two of those things and venti Americano, I still made it up to the sixtieth floor, sugar dosed and duly caffeinated, with time to spare. Good thing, too, because at precisely 9:00AM a lovely woman by the name of Anita Pusapti greeted me. At first I thought she was maybe the same woman who interviewed me over the phone, but that was someone else, and Anita is my new boss.

SMOKIN' HOT, too, but waaa...aaay out of my league. And that's putting it only mildly.

We're probably about the same age, or maybe she's a little older, but I found out all the while I was in grad school and waiting tables, Anita was producing segments for BBC News in London. So, whereas I still think of myself as a kid, looks like an adult, and definitely all woman. I gotta stop chasing grad students. First thing I thought when I met her (after all the pornographic stuff, naturally) is that yes I'm way in over my head here, and you can bet that the first time I mess any little thing up, this woman is going to crush me like a tiny ant. In the meantime, she showed me where the emergency fire exits and bathrooms are.

Otherwise, the most important thing I learned today is that Aljazeera.net, Al Jazeera Space Channel TV, and its subsidiary, Al Jazeera International –the entity I work for– are not to be confused with Aljazeera Publishing or Aljazeera.com.

The latter apparently predated the former by several years, but never earned the recognition or prestige (or the notoriety) that Space Channel TV went on to gain. Eventually Aljazeera Space Channel TV sued Aljazeera Publishing for the dot com address but lost its case in a British court. hence the dot net address.

Everyone here of course pretends not to be touchy about it, but I heard a Chinese receptionist get fucking reamed in a pigeon Malay called 'Peranakan' for accidentally telling someone over the phone that the channel's web site was dot com, and not dot net.

dot oops, yeah?

btw, when they told me that they were still staffing up, they weren't kidding! The Malaysian offices of Al Jazeera feels more like a frontier outpost than a broadcast center. I think the official channel launch is still three or four months off, maybe in mid November or something like that. I guess the reasoning is who better to work out the administrative kinks on than young, cheap help like myself.

And officially, I'm the most junior person on a team that produces documentaries and human interest segments. We produce something sort of like the stories you'd see on 60 Minutes or Date Line. And there's some overlap with our stuff being used on the website, but I'm not sure how or if that affects me. Oh, and when I say, I'm 'on the team', I mean I run to Starbucks for Anita when she asks me to. Capiche?

And as it happens, I've already been assigned to a project they've already been working on for some time now, as is my understanding.

They're making a documentary about the amazingly rapid economic growth South East Asia is now experiencing. Most of the shooting is done, but this week they are doing a few follow-up interviews with several key interview subjects, all of whom conveniently happen to be neighboring tenants to Al Jazeera in the Petronas Towers complex. So we're not going very far. The entire piece is supposed to air in conjunction with the launch of the cable channel, whenever that is.

And actually, Anita told me I will be doing more than simply running for coffee. My role, as she described it, will be to sit in on the videotaping of interviews and take notes. Not just of what people say, because that's all getting recorded anyway, but of things that might not get captured on camera. Apparently they use all that stuff for background and context when they write a narrative. So who knows, maybe something I write will actually end up in an article or broadcast piece!

Fingers crossed, one can only hope.

All that, I am told, will keep me busy through the end of this week. I have to admit, it seems like a relatively stress free way to get my feet wet, but I am nervous anyway. As far as preparation goes, we start with a tomorrow production meeting in the morning, and then –in the afternoon– we have three interviews lined up. I'm not sure if that's a light work day or a heavy work day. I'll let you know after it's done.

Oh yes, the best part– I received my official Al Jazeera ID, which gives me access to the the Petronas offices with a wave of the card. But I'm also thinking that it might prove useful as a nightclubs pass ya think? Not quite press credentials, but nothing on it says 'Gopher' ha ha!

It was long first day, but went by fast, I thought. I worked ten and twelve hour shifts at Cozy, so in that respect Al Jazeera itself runs just like a restaurant. I actually found it easier though, working at Al Jazeera because I wasn't always on my feet like you are waiting tables. Turns out, when not hitting the pavement to work a beat, journalists sit on their asses and surf the web a lot. Heaviest thing I carried today was a large hazelnut latte.

And we're surrounded by celebrities. Except since none of them are American –or Lebanese– so I'm oblivious to who people are or what their status is. So, if someone is dressed really well and looks confident, I figure they're either important or an asshole. And it's usually about 50/50 anyway.

Either way, you can't walk in the door here, though, and not know who Veronica Pedrosa is. She's the Anchor head for the Al Jazeera International Malaysian Broadcast Center, though I didn't see her in person for the first time until I was leaving for the day. During orientation they give you enough press and promo with her face on it to be familiar with her so that by the time I did see her, I knew exactly who she was, and was able to show her a bit of deference and respect.

Essentially I just looked the other way and tried not to be noticed.

But think about it:

Here I am in an Islamic country, and this WOMAN has already beat Katie Couric to the punch of being a solo female anchor.

It's almost as this side of the world presents itself as not so much being on the other side of the planet as it is on the other side of a mirror.

It's all just so–

Amazing.

Ha!

Yalla Bye–


SIRAJ!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

jasper!

don't be so snarky! (rolls her eyes at boorish boyfriend)

siraj, sweetie... the jasp is just trying to have a laugh at ur expense. what does he know? he writes ad copy for junk food and automobile products...

however, since I consider myself a christian myself, i do take some offense to u using the phrase 'christian nuts'. i wasn't raised talking in tongues or anything, but I do take my faith seriously. naturally, i'm tolerant, or i wouldn't be with jasper... but i would never go around and call any muslims 'nuts', except for osama bin laden, of course, and people who believed what he believed.

i thought the issue between israel and hezbollah had less to do with religion and more to do with behavior. i'm no wonk like you boyz, but what do the politicians know, really?

aren't we all god's children? i'd like to think so.

one God, many names.

one spirituality, many religions.

that's the way I see the world.

u would think that there's enough desert in the mideast to keep everybody happy digging irrigation canals for generations to come, and too busy for this daily rife and strife. does it really have to go on forever?

btw, terry, are u working on 'Wasting Away in Williamsburg' yet? the way I hear it in my head, I think it could be a hit! call me if you need help!

soul and inspiration,

and, siraj, good luck on ur first day of work monday!

xoxo

annika
Jasper,

T. touching down–

Don't be so harsh. You're exhibiting a bit of that notorious xenophobia we've come to appreciate from you (IRONY ALERT). But I know from your friendship with Siraj that you don't dislike Arabs or Muslims, so what gives? Maybe you should dial down the neo con setting on your wonk widget.

And to be fair, Siraj, you can get a bit wound up, too. I'm as passionate about my beliefs as the next zealot, but when you say that the entire Mideast "won't waste a second pushing the Jewish state right off and into the ocean", well, it sounds like you're just counting that days until it happens. I'm sure it would make for great ratings over at AJI, but it won't make for a better world.

Annika, of course, you're perfect. How is that possible?

But your boyfriend needs to chill.

that's my 2 cents–

Terry
ps yeah, Siraj, about your poem: Neither haiku nor E.E. Cummings, but I find it a lovely read, if only for the way you juxtapose such rich language with spare construction. Bravo.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Siraj, bro–


YOU ARE REALLY TOO FUNY MAN!!

If the Lebanese are such a peaceful people, Siraj, why are they launching missiles into Israel right now?

I think you're getting all Arabian Nights on us. Must be the something they put in the curry down there. Or was The Economist the only mag available on that long flight across the Pacific? I mean, whoa, dude, your last demonstration reached a level of wonkery that is way more than I can process on a Friday.

In the meantime, Sinbad, maybe you're granddad wore a turban, but you don't. You're 2nd generation American -right? Me, too. You're mom is Irish or English, right? So it doesn't matter if your father was born in Beirut. First and foremost, you're a U.S. citizen before anything else. And don't take this the wrong way, either. I would never pit one religion against another. Cause I'm a lover, and not a fighter, and all that.

But here's the deal:

The Jews need Israel exactly because no one else on the planet will can assure the Jewish people security.

In this respect, I ask you to either remember or research the historical record, where you will find that not one hundred years ago, few extended welcome signs to Jews seeking refuge from 1930's Nazi Germany as particularly evidenced by the Evian conference of 1938. It's pretty evident to me that one of the reasons my people ended up in the desert was not so much because it was our 'the promised land', but specifically because were were not accepted anywhere else in the world.

It should also be INSANELY obvious that the reason why so many born again Christians here in America so strongly support Israel today, is because:

A) American Evangelists would rather that the Jews they know and love live 6000 miles away, and–

B) It wouldn't hurt if the existence of a Jewish state situated in the Mideast provoked some kind of apocalyptic event.

Well, so be it.

But isn't it funny how every Muslim neighbor to Israel denies her right to exist, and yet Iraq, Jordan, Palestine AND LEBANON are themselves western inventions.

So for the record, if Israel deserves to be "wiped off the map", as Ahmadinejad suggests it might be, then Beirut, Gaza and all the land from Madaba to Baghdad ought not be too far behind. Trust me, if it comes to that, the Rabbis are going to dig their fingernails into the West Bank and pull down all the last remnants of the Ottoman Empire with them, from Egypt to the Persian Gulf to Turkey. You'll see. And then the sand from Najran to Mashhad is going to fucking GLOW.

Happy to straighten out the Mideast situation for you, dude, and look, in half as many words. Guess that's why I'm the professional copy writer.

btw, anyone need to get in touch with me, send me a text message, because otherwise I'm delecato dementis for the next three days. It's not Khaldeh or Puncho Beach, Siraj, but probably has better waves, so I'm taking off for Montauk until Monday afternoon, and thinking about nothing but sunshine, moonshine and some knice wave action for the next 72 hours.

And bro, demonization of Christians, nice touch. Don't know what Annika will say about it though. Just be glad the world's biggest ocean separates the two of you right now.

And love the fucking poetry.

As usual, it's awesome.

Peace out-

The Jasp