Monday, March 31, 2008

Dith Pran - Survivor Of The Killing Fields

Dith Pran, the man who told the world about Pol Pot’s genocide from 1975-1978 and spent his lifetime raising awareness of it and demanding justice for its victims, died of cancer on March 30, 2008.

He was 65.

Born on September 27, 1942 in Cambodia, Pran was a photojournalist who worked with the New York Times during its coverage of the United States occupation of Cambodia from 1970-1975.

In 1975, Pran and New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg stayed behind in Cambodia to cover the fall of the capital Phnom Penh to the extreme communist Khmer Rouge forces headed by Pol Pot.

Schanberg and other foreign reporters were allowed to leave the country by Pol Pot, but Pran was not permitted to do so.

Alongside many educated Cambodians, Pran was forced to work in a forced labour camp.

Pran had to endure four years of starvation and torture before finally escaping to Thailand in 1979.

He coined the phrase "killing fields" to refer to the clusters of skeletal remains of victims he encountered during his 80km escape.

His three brothers were killed back in Cambodia.

From 1980, Pran worked as a photojournalist with the New York Times in the United States.

He also campaigned for recognition of the Cambodian Genocide victims, especially as founder and president of the Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project.

One of his closest friends was Dr Haing S. Ngor, who portrayed him in the 1985 film The Killing Fields.

The Killing Fields earned Ngor a Best Supporting Actor award in the Oscars.

Ngor, who was born on March 22, 1940 in Cambodia, was a gynaecologist who practised medicine in Phnom Penh.

He was captured by Pol Pot’s forces when they drove the American troops out of Cambodia in 1975.

Ngor and his wife My Huoy were forced to work in labour camps and endured torture and starvation for four years.

My Huoy eventually died giving birth to their child in her camp.

After Hun Sen’s forces and the Vietnamese army routed the Khmer Rouge in 1978, Ngor fled to Thailand and subsequently became an American citizen.

In 1988, he wrote the book A Cambodian Odyssey, describing his life under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

On February 25, 1996, Ngor was shot dead by three robbers outside his house in Los Angeles.

They stole a locket containing a photograph of his wife, and many Cambodians believe the robbers, who are now spending life in prison, were paid agents of the Khmer Rouge.

The Dr Haing S. Ngor Foundation was founded in his honour in 1997 to assist in raising funds for Cambodia.

Before his death, Ngor built an elementary school and a sawmill that provided jobs and an income for local families.

Ngor's niece, Sophia Ngor, heads the foundation.

Ngor did not only star in The Killing Fields. He also appeared in the film Heaven On Earth and the TV series Miami Vice among others.

Before his death, he said: "If I die from now on, OK! This film will go on for a hundred years."

Dith Pran called Ngor his “twin” and “co-messenger”.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brad Pitt & Barack Obama - Related

Thanks, Denise Lavoie of Associated Press.

Hard to believe, but handsome Brad Pitt and US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama are distant cousins.

And Brad’s wife, actress Angelina Jolie (Voight) is a distant cousin of Hillary Rodham Clinton, another US Presidential hopeful and the wife of former US President Bill Clinton (original name Bill Blythe).

Hillary is of Native American descent, not unlike Angelina Jolie. She also has French Canadian roots on her mother’s side and shares a common ancestry as US pop queen Madonna and Canadian divas Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette (Madonna is French-Italian while Alanis is French-Hungarian).

Obama, the son of a Kenyan and his British-Native-American wife from Kansas, can call six American Presidents his relatives and they are George W. Bush, George Bush (both the younger and older Bushes have Native American and British American heritage), Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman and James Madison.

Other Obama relatives include the younger Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney, former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Confederates military chief General Robert E. Lee.

Hillary’s other relatives include author Jack Kerouac and British heir to the throne Prince Charles’ second wife Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Allegations of nepotism (which are never to be taken seriously) are bound to occur with the younger Bush for the outgoing President’s chosen successor John McCain is a cousin of his wife Laura.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

China's Crackdown In Tibet A Violation Of Human Rights

I strongly condemn the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in Tibet.

The Tibetan people want to be accorded equal rights with the Han Chinese majority (my family) but Beijing does not want it.

Beijing wants a highly centralised PRC dominated by the Han and has over the last 40 years transmigrated Han from the capital into Tibet.

This has affected the livelihood of the Tibetan people who have become powerless in their homeland.

While Tibet is autonomous, the opposite is true because it is dominated by Han transmigrants.

The international community must pressure China to get out of Tibet just as it is pressuring the United States to get out of Iraq.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Congratulations, Malaysians

Congratulations to all Malaysians.

First, to the PM and DPM for their election victory.

And to the winners of the elections across the political spectrum.

Also, to Malaysians on both sides of the political divide for not resorting to militancy or emotional outbursts following the election results, and for taking the results like grown-ups.

And to the cops and Elections Commission for keeping the country in order during the 13-day election campaign.

Not forgetting, the people who created the internet and who brought it to Malaysia.

Friday, March 7, 2008


The indigenous people of Malaysia are Ujungese.

Ujung means Land's End and is another name for the Malay or Malaysian subcontinent covering modern Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, East Timor and Brunei.

Peninsular Malaysia is Tanah Ujung or Land's End.

Singapore and the island countries of the subcontinent are known as Pulau Ujung or Islands At The End.