Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Anti-Money Laundering Act and charitable money

I think it is good that we get acquinted with this act which is not really a new law as it had been around for several years. It's called "Anti Money Laundering Act (Act 613) 2001" and commonly applies to banks, insurance companeis and other financial institutions where people "park" their money. It is in these institutions that these "black money" are able to be "washed" and come out as "clean money" so to speak, hence the term "money laundering".

Even though religious centers and temples or some other charitable organisations do not (except for perhaps, those that gives scholarships) act like the financial institutions in giving back money or deposits to the originators (or to others), still in a sense "black money" could be donated ala "Robin Hood style" and in the process stolen/"black money" could be turned into a supposedly good cause.

Think about this issue this way: is it okay to receive money for our temple from money obtained from child trafficking? from illegal sales of weapons? from drug trafficking? I am not here to provide right or wrong answers, but only to enable you to understand the purpose of this act in relation to charitable funds, irrespective of whether it is religious center or not.

Practical-wise, it is not easy to know whether any money is illegal or not. Anyway, supposing the criminal is sincere in donating - even if the money is "dirty money", are you going to just refuse the donation? It is not easy to handle such cases, because if we refuse, we would deprive the criminals and their victims of creating good imprints and affinity with the buddha dharma. But by receiving the money, it would mean we are indirectly supporting such criminal acts. Maybe, a good way would be to receive the money on condition that the criminal repent his wrong ways. But... this is easier said than done! But we do not go around and suspecting every money we receive. The Hokkiens say: "Chaik Pa Seoh Eng", meaning in Malaysian-style spoken English "You think I am so free-ah?" . We only do this if we have valid reason to suspect the money received is from unlawful activity.

Anyway, the below paragraphs are extracted from the Act. I am not an expert on this Act but the little that I know, I share them here. Proper guidance should be referred to our respective countries' central banks. For Malaysia, it is Bank Negara Malaysia.

2. (1) This Act shall apply to any serious offence, foreign serious offence or unlawful activity whether committed before or after the commencement date.
(2) This Act shall apply to any property, whether it is situated in or outside Malaysia.

Further Para 2 definitions:
“money laundering” means the act of a person who—
engages, directly or indirectly, in a transaction that involves proceeds of any unlawful activity;
acquires, receives, possesses, disguises, transfers, converts, exchanges, carries, disposes, uses, removes from or brings into Malaysia proceeds of any unlawful activity; or
conceals, disguises or impedes the establishment of the true nature, origin, location, movement, disposition, title of, rights with respect to, or ownership of, proceeds of any unlawful activity,

as may be inferred from objective factual circumstance, the person knows or has reason to believe, that the property is proceeds from any unlawful activity; or
in respect of the conduct of a natural person, the person without reasonable excuse fails to take reasonable steps to ascertain whether or not the property is proceeds from any unlawful activity;

Offence of money laundering.
4. (1) Any person who—
engages in, or attempts to engage in; or
abets the commission of,
money laundering, commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five million ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.
(2) A person may be convicted of an offence under subsection (1) irrespective of whether there is a conviction in respect of a serious offence or foreign serious offence or that a prosecution has been initiated for the commission of a serious offence or foreign serious offence.

This AML Act is not a Malaysian law only as many countries also have similar laws being enforced in other countries.

Thousand Arms Baby

I woke up this morning feeling blessed and a little puzzled and intrigued. You know why? Well, it's the dream I had. I dreamt of a baby born to this world. But this baby is no ordinary baby. Actually, he looks ordinary, except that it has multiple hands like Avalokiteshvara or Kuan Yin. In the dream, he really looks cute.

Anyway, I told my wife the strange dream.

Hahahah... even if it was just a dream, it was a fantastic dream. So strange, huh?? :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yes, I got it...!!!

I had been praying for a better job since last year, and I finally got it. I think so but I have not got the letter yet. Still, I got it verbally. Now waiting for the letter. Between last year and now, many months of headache and prayers and practices, and "divine consultations" had happened. Some Sangha members and a friend whom I have sought help had sometimes disappointed me by remaining silent or unable to help. But I guess all the headache and torture will come to an end soon. I must always remind myself that as with all good things, they are never easy to obtain.

Just to hear an evening's teaching from Choden Rinpoche, at the same time not forsaking a friend in Singapore, that is leaving for Sweden on a 3 year duty, I was willing to tire myself and go down to Singapore, reach there at night, and leave the next morning. But it was well worth the while even though when I reached back home, I develop sore muscles everywhere my neck and shoulders. That was probably due to carrying the thick book "Mind Training". Come to thing about it, compared with what Milarepa and Naropa went through to be even accepted by their gurus as students, they did so much more and bore so much more suffering than I could ever have. Mine was really nothing. So, good ideal jobs don't just fly down your lap.

But, if only I can jump up and shout... "YEAH! I GOT IT! I GOT IT!". But instead, it is a silent "Yeah, I got it". The pay is higher and the position a Senior Manager's position. The company is a public listed company. The job will not require "up to 70% travelling" as that of Goodyear's and other companies. It means more time to spent with my family. With their annual leave double my existing total, maybe I can take longer time to India this year. But even though my existing company's annual leave is short, they usually time it so that during festive days such as CNY or Raya or Christmas time, there will be long shutdowns. It means I get to go for long breaks without having to take leave. Now there is no such long "shutdowns" and if I need to take long breaks, I will have to apply annual leave. But I suppose it's okay. I cannot stay on my existing company any longer. No increment, no bonus... with the high inflation and ever higher cost of food, petrol, ...everything seems to keep on increasing... with this scenario, my pay is actually shrinking. The pork rice used to be RM2.50, now it's RM3.00. A WHOPPING 20% increase!!

It was really great to get a job in a constrction and property company that is not too big like Guocoland and not an unknown, untransparent company like KTB. And furthermore, if I accept this job, it will be a fulfilment of a prediction made by my uncle. But I will nto tell what the prediction is. So, even though Guocland "snubbed" me, it turned out that it is me who was lucky to avoid such a company. I am thankful to my guru for this blessings. Hopefully it will also bring me more wealth. With slightly more wealth, I can give my family a better life, and not to forget, I can contribute more to my guru's projects. And I can save more for my future retreats in India, Nepal, Tibet or wherever. Retreats and other practice related activities doesnot come cheap nowadays. And in the coming years, I think it will only go up. Even monks and nuns themselves have to have some money in order to survive nowadays.

I need more time now to do my practices and finish up my preliminaries, before my bones hardens and unable to do prostrations. I also intent to go to Tibet and all the holy way places in China and India before I am old and unable to stand the weather/high altitude.

So, I am happy that the guru has blessed me yet another time even though I had rejected the Singapore job. I have been blessed with several jobs actually. Each one I turned down. Why? Am I too picky? Yes, actually I am. I have to, because at my age I need to find the ideal job to accomplish all my aims before death robs me of my precious human rebirth. So, why am I not shouting for joy?

It's complicated. I have been living here in my hometown since I was born, never left it except for those years in uni. To relocate to another place is a tremendous emotional task for me. Moreoever, my thoughts are also with my loved ones. My relocation must benefit them too, otherwise I will not accept the new job. There's a whole lot of complicated issues involved here, but too long to mention here. Somehow I think my "destiny" is to relocate, but yet... So, I can only say softly - "Yeah! I got the job!". Nevertheless, I am satisfied. I could not ask for more. Guru-Buddha is already taking care of me very much. I have much to be thankful for. "Let go of hopes and fears" as Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche said last Sunday. Yes, let go, let go...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Talks between China - HH Dalai Lama most welcomed

In recent days, we have heard about China's willigness to have dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama's representatives. This is very much welcomed and hopefully it will not be something put up just for show. This is welcome development because we have so much protests from both sides and even unnecessary violence. Even in our local newspapers, we even have people criticising His Holiness the Dalai Lama for being a charade or puppet of the West. But is he? When I read these criticisms, to me it only shows their ignorance of Tibetan Buddhism. These critics have no knowledge of the Tibetan people , their culture, their religion and their psyche. And yet, they have the cheek to write long letters to the press calling the Dalai Lama a liar, a charade. These people forget that in Malaysia, the chinese are the most loyal to preserving their chinese education, religion and culture. Everyone wants to preserve their own religion and culture. Who doesn't? Today is also Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima's 19th birthday. Please see attached photo. He was still 6years old kid when he was identified by the Dalaï Lama as the 11th reincarnation of The Panchen Lama. But where is he now? Nobody knows.

He disappeared in 1995 under the supervision of the Chineses authorities. So, for people in the know ofTibetan Budddhism, we know of all these happenings that are proof of China's irresponsible behaviour towards Tibetan religion and culture. It is not so much the national freedom from China that Tibet wants.Tibet just wants a China that leaves Tibet and Tibetan Budddhism and culture to those who knows best about it. Of course, there are irresponsible Tibetans too who burnt and riot in the streets. But we should understand their bottled-up feelings all thru the years. Nevertheless it is not right to confuse this issue by messing up the Olympic games. After all, His Holiness the Dalai Lama does support the game 100%.

So, that leads us back to the hope that genuine dialogue will happen between the two parties.

My original message to forum friends...on Tibet

It really pains me to see the continued unrest andv iolence in the region of Tibet. Is there something wecan do apart from praying for them or watch the"workings of karma" as some people would put it? I amnot sure what you think but I think that the TibetanLamas and Masters since the time of Padmasambhava had benefited and is still benefitting millions and millions of sentient beings. Therefore, it is my duty to say this much, even though I am just one person,one voice. Due to the kindness of the lineage lamas and enlightened sages from Tibet, this is my way of doing something back for their people. No, I am not advocating demonstrations. I think that any demonstration is really pointless. What I think is abetter way is for the millions and millions ofBuddhists worldwide to come as one …and evennon-Buddhists as well… and send letters of petition to strongly urge the China government to engage in a peaceful dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Itis important to write it in a POLITE and politically correct way, and without condemning or supporting any party, strongly send a message that a majority of therest of the world wants to see a peaceful dialogue between both parties. I think it will be more effective if more people send the same letter i.e. millions and millions of this letter. I think it is important the letter be written in a neutral way sothat China knows that even neutral parties want themto talk with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It must not be written as if we are siding with the Tibetans. Unfortunately, I am no good with such letters. If bodies such as YBAM or another NGO can take up this initiative, it will be great. Otherwise, this is only so much I can do, and so much I can say.

...and I am happy that my message has snowballed into a press statement by MBCC on March 31, 2008. :)