Thursday, February 22, 2007

MGG, This One's For You!

Lulu was reminded via Rocky's Bru that his court hearing would be on this Thursday. As Lulu read his entry, Lulu felt a deep sense of sadness for someone else who had to walk down this path way before the days of Rocky and Jeff.

from the Bru,
I confess. When NSTP and the 4 others filed the defamation suit against me last month [here], I felt alone. When I was editor at the Mail and the Business Times, we got sued by corporations and individuals all the time but I was never worried. After all, I had the mighty NSTP behind me. But now the NSTP was suing me and I had no one behind me.
And Rocky continues about how his friends, both the long-time and those from blogdom came up and eventually banded together, forming Bloggers United, rallying support for him and JeffOoi.
It's been only a month but we have come a long way. Hundreds of blogs are Bloggers United logo carriers. Thousands will do the same. On Thursday the 22nd of February, at Wisma Denmark at 2.30pm, I go back to court to face NSTP and 4 Others. I don't feel alone anymore. I've got Bloggers United behind me.
[and indeed, he did not walk alone. We all hung around the corridor as his lawyers were in discussion with the judge in his chambers.]

It made Lulu think of MGG Pillai. For those of you who considers JeffOoi as the father of blogging, think of MGG as the grandfather of socio-political commentaries on the net.

MGG and Bala Pillai (it just crossed this lulu mind that they are both Pillai's. Were they related?) ran the online newsletter group known as Sangkancil. Lulu was hooked on it since '97, reading his analysis and commentaries on what's REALLY happening in the country. Those were the exciting days... Economic crisis, Anwar Ibrahim, Reformasi protests, Keadilan, not forgetting judge and lawyer holidays and all those wayang kulits in UMNO.

While politicians may have reviled him in public for his hard hitting, anti-establishment views, privately, many maintained good personal relations with Pillai, to the extent that he became a confidant to politicians in both the government and the opposition. With all his inside informers, Lulu and the sangkancil gang were kept abreast to whats happening behind the scenes. Lulu realised that there is certainly more to it than meets the eye in Bolehland, a phrase coined by him. haha Bolehland still reigns, post-Mahathir!

When he was the featured speaker for Promuda's Kopitiam series, Lulu made it a point to attend. Lulu learnt that his relationship with Tan Sri Sanusi Junid was real as it was affirmed and spoken fondly of by his son, Akramsyah.

Mind you, MGG wasn't right all the time. He predicted in the last General Elections that [if i remember correctly,] Kedah, Perak and Pahang would fall into PAS hands. And there were some postings which Lulu did not agree with him. But MGG has this ability to write and make you think a bit more. As it was a forum, he stirred debate and allowed us to give our opinions. He hardly had to tell the community at SangKancil to toe the line. We all learnt from it. And we are richer by it.

Along the way, he wrote something about Vincent Tan in the Malaysian Industry magazine which cause VT enough grief (?) to sue him. VT won the suit in '94, and MGG's loss was RM2million.
MGG appealed the judgement in the Court of Appeal and later, the Federal Court, but failed on both occasions. Maintaining the truth that he wrote, not giving up, he made a rare application in 2002 for the Federal Court to review its earlier ruling claiming that there was a suspision of biias on the part of the then Chief Justice who was known to have close ties with VT's lawyer. The Federal Court ruled that the judgement delivered by the judge on June 12, 2002 breached MGG's sustantive rights as one of the judges who heard the matter had already retired.
The decision was a landmark case as no review had ever been granted prior to that.
"It is easier to draw blood from a stone than RM2million for Pillai," he had stressed.

In those days, we weren't so connected. There was not so much networking online. Lulu wonders if MGG had to walk alone. I'm glad he had Karpal Singh with him. I hope that her had his supporters to walk down the court corridors with him. Wait with him. Shake his hand. Give him an encouraging thud on the back.

It was a long battle. MGG passed away in April last year. The suit, as far as Lulu knows, has not been settled.

And so, when Lulu saw Rocky's reminder, Lulu knew she'd have to walk this one with him and Jeff, at least once, in person , to replace the walk she should have taken for MGG.

MGG, this one's for you!

For further reading,
MGG's site
The SangKancil archive. This one's a bit tricky. Can't find the general site, so, you'd have to play around with the dates to change the month and year.
Wikipedia entry MGG Pillai
Malaysia Today's tribute. Do read the readers tribute to him on the comments section
PAS rakam takziah kepada keluarga MGG Pillai - Harakah. MGG was a regular columnist.
A pupil's tribute to the guruji
active SangKancil participant, Lucia, pays tribute

did you notice there no "lulu" in the title? Lulu thought that MGG deserves solo billing. And Lulu thinks, this is Lulu's longest entry to date. Hope you managed to read right till the end.


lucia said...

i remember mgg pillai too. he was indeed a remarkable man. you are so right with the tag 'grandfather of socio-political commentaries' for him.

i had the opportunity to meet him face to face and chit chat over drinks (together with uncle yap and others beritamalaysia members).

i wrote a tribute article on him after his death last year here.

thanks for reminding me about him, lulu. i will put his death anniversary date in my PDA so that i can remember to blog about him come 28 april.

Anonymous said...

we've come a long way.

so sad.

to MGG Pillai~ for starting it all.

and in a way, to anwar ibrahim, for sparking the reformasi movement off..

Bala Pillai said...

Hi Lulu :-), can you write to me at balapillai AT -- want to get your advice on a being-hatched Sangkancil Foundation in continuation of the MGG spirit.

BTW, we may as well be related because MGG and I were kindred thought revolutionaries and struggled to pioneer Sangkancil/Malaysia.Net happen, but we are not. "Pillai" is a not uncommon South Indian surname.

Anonymous said...

Yes, despite his BDS(Bush Derangement Syndrome), MGG was M'sia's greatest.


Anonymous said...

FYI: There will be a collection of MGG Pillai's writings published earlier this year to commemorate him.


Anonymous said...

Tks for the nice cup cakes!

zewt said...

may he rest in peace.... he deserves his rest...


hi lulu,

sorry this is a bit late.
we did not get to meet at rocky's hearing. you had left.
but we all did get to devour you cupcakes.
thank you.
hope to see u there the next time!