25 September, 2006

Osama bin Laden is alive, healthy and safe

The Osama bin Laden syndrome

It is interesting that with so many serious events happening in the world, the international press can attribute Headline status to a mere rumour about bin Laden.

It is interesting too that Osama bin Laden, dead or alive, has managed to give the world a brilliant lesson in personal marketing, for he has every media outlet ready to scrap the front page carefully crafted over the past 24 hours and at a stroke place a paragraph about some leaked document claiming he had died with a dose of tick fever – typhus – or whatever, reported in a regional newspaper somewhere in provincial France. The world’s first billionaire to die of tick fever.

While we have to admit that a rumour, a piece of gossip, a snippet overheard in the bakery on a Saturday morning, is not real news, any newspaper that leaves out the “bin Laden dead” story is asking for trouble because it will be left behind in the hit race, with everyone googling or hotbotting away or asking Jeeves about the world’s most wanted and elusive man. Even if they know deep inside that he died three or four years ago.

After five long years, bin Laden appears as a kind of Quixotic figure, a chimera in the collective imagination, a hero for some, an anti-hero for others but for all, the executioner of the most successful terrorist attack in history and the author of an event which in fact changed the world.

History will judge him as the David who struck Goliath or as the murderous monster who massacred innocent civilians yet he will remain as news because he has every element which places him as the epitome of the bin Laden factor – news appeal.

The bin Laden syndrome is the obsession with this type of news – the adrenalin rush, the shock and awe at opening the newspaper and seeing ever increasing figures about tragedies, threats, graphic and glossy pictures with Rivers of Blood headlines, the manipulation of fear, which keeps people in their place and which keeps them accepting the status quo as their freedoms and rights they have fought for centuries to obtain, get swept away from them in one fell swoop.

The bin Laden syndrome has seen numerous Governments backing the worst attack on the tissue of international law, the derision of the UNO, the breach of its Charter, the slaughter of civilians, the disregard for human rights, the Geneva Convention and countless other basic principles which we have sought to build through centuries of mistakes.

The bin Laden syndrome is the lack of vision, the absence of courage demonstrated by the individual, the absence of a will to fight for what is right, to fight against the usurpation of his rights and basically to stand up for himself. Like some condemned junkie, the individual wakes up in the morning, switches on the TV and receives his adrenalin rush and satisfied, still half-dazed by the ever-louder drum-beats which accompany background music played on news programmes, walks like a zombie to work, to have his fix reinforced on the radio and upon arrival, for everyone to put together the latest scare-stories sold by the scaremongering media.

The fact that Brazil is manufacturing huge quantities of cheap green bio-diesel just does not have the same pang as the Abbot Buggers Choirboys story, a three-word ABC of nonsense. This is not news – it is a tragedy for the boys and their families. The “Girl held as Slave in Underground Dungeon” story (replete with innuendo, the only word that is not written, but is implicitly understood, is “sex” before slave) does not appeal to the flights of fantasy in the imagination as much as “Blind girl receives diploma”, “Blind girl sees again” or “Iran discovers cure for AIDS”, a story with huge implications which PRAVDA.Ru ran but which was ignored by the international press because Ahmadinejad has a beard, and must therefore be an untrustworthy blighter, what?

It is time for people to beat the bin Laden syndrome by thinking for themselves, trying to find the news that really matters and disregarding the adrenalin rush as an unnecessarily stressful way to start the day.

Osama bin Laden is alive, healthy and safe, Saudi authorities rejected the information originally published by French newspaper L'Est Republicain about the death of world’s most wanted terrorist, the founder of al-Qaeda terrorist network, Osama bin Laden. An official statement released by the government of Saudi Arabia said that it was speculative information the reliability of which was not confirmed by independent sources.

It is worthy of note that the above-mentioned provincial French newspaper published not really an article but a commentary to the facsimile report of the France’s military intelligence. The report particularly referred to certain sources in Saudi Arabia which claimed that Osama bin Laden died of typhoid fever on August 23 in Pakistan. The headline of the report had the top secret stamp and the abbreviation of the special service – D.G.S.E. The service, the newspaper wrote, sent the report to the President of France Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. The French Defense Department has not rejected the authenticity of the document.

Journalists asked for comments at a press conference held during the meeting of Russian, French and German leaders. Jasques Chirac said that he was very surprised to find out that the secret document had been exposed to the public. Chirac ordered the Defense Secretary of France to investigate the situation. The French president added that he had no comments regarding the supposed death of the al-Qaeda’s leader due to the lack of substantiating data.

Vladimir Putin joined his French counterpart and said that Russian special services had no information on the matter. “When such important reports are made and then leak, it suggests it is being done on purpose,” the Russian president said.

Two US officials, spokespeople for the White House and the State Department, confirmed the absence of information about Bin Laden’s death. Similar remarks followed from Pakistan and Afghanistan. A representative of the Afghan president noted that Afghan intelligence officers working in the east and the south-east of the country, where Taliban and al-Qaeda gunmen are hiding, reported nothing new about Osama bin Laden.

News about diseases (cancer in particular) of the 49-year-old bin Laden has become rather frequent recently. However, his death would lead to a massive exchange of electronic messages between the terrorists as it happened after the extermination of al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Bin Laden’s message, the obituary to the killed terrorist, appeared on the Internet shortly after June 7, when US special services killed Zarqawi.


Singapore figure draws Malaysia's ire

Malaysia's leader has demanded that Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, explain his claim that Malaysia marginalizes its ethnic Chinese minority, saying such remarks were "mischievous" and could inflame racial sentiments.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia said the comments by Lee, Singapore's founding father, could strain bilateral ties, stressing that Lee "should understand that Malaysia's relationship with Singapore is something that needs to be nurtured to preserve each country's stability." Malaysia and Singapore have close cultural and economic ties, but their governments have sparred over the years.

JOHOR Umno information chief Mohd Puad Zarkashi said the fact that many Singaporean Malays chose to reside in Johor Baru despite working in the Republic showed that the Malays were marginalised in the country.

He said these Singaporean Malays were willing to weather daily hardships to commute from Johor Baru to their workplaces in Singapore.

This showed that they were dissatisfied with what was happening in Singapore, he said.

He told Bernama yesterday that the Singaporean Malays knew the Republic's administration had marginalised them.

Dr Puad, who is also Batu Pahat Umno division chief, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's recent remarks about the Chinese in Malaysia could cause instability among the various communities in the country, and that it was contrary to the spirit of neighbourliness of Asean.

The government should take firm action against Singapore and not give in to pressure from the Republic, particularly in relation to efforts to develop the South Johor Economic Region, expand the Port of Tanjung Pelepas and make Senai Airport a regional cargo hub, he said.

Dr Puad said the government should also study in detail the proposed high-speed train project to link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore so that it would not benefit only the Republic.

Meanwhile, the New Sunday Times quoted Agriculture Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as saying that Mr Lee should apologise to Malaysia.

'We view with concern those comments. Lee should apologise and clarify his statements immediately,' he was quoted as saying.

Dr M : Rejam saya dalam tong tahi pun tidak mengapa

Bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mengakui beliau tidak berasa aib dan terhina ketika tewas dalam pengundian pemilihan perwakilan Umno Bahagian Kubang Pasu 9 September lepas, namun mengakui berasa malu apabila orang asing bertanyakan hal tersebut sewaktu di luar negara.

"Apabila keputusan pengundian itu dibuat, maka ramai daripada orang asing bertanya-tanya apa sudah berlaku di Malaysia ini. Dan saya merasa malu untuk menerangkan. Saya malu bagi pihak negara saya bukan bagi diri saya. Saya, kalau hendak rejam dalam tong tahi pun tidak mengapa asalkan negara saya ini selamat," katanya.

Mahathir juga memperli Perdana Menteri, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dengan mengatakan menantu PM, Khairy Jamaludin dan kroni niaganya Patrick Lim sekarang ini memerintah kerajaan Terengganu, kerana mereka didakwa 'menyapu' kebanyakan projek di negeri tersebut.

Antara perkara yang disentuh dalam wawancaranya, termasuk isu Umno, Melayu, Islam Hadhari AP, MV Agusta dan lain-lain.

Ikuti penjelasan Mahathir ketika menjawab pertanyaan hadirin dalam sesi soal jawab selepas merasmikan Majlis Pelancaran Tabung Bangunan Persatuan Bekas Tentera Malaysia (PBTM) Kemaman dan Kempen Hari Pahlawan Peringkat Daerah di Awana Kijal Golf Beach & SPA Resort, Kijal, Terengganu pada 22 September 2006.

Read the Q & A here


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