Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Naturally Late

The way forward for the country may well be 30 years late if Denmark is to be of any example.

At least this is my reading from NYT’s Freidman “The Copenhagen That Matters” which is basically about the painful steps took by the EU country with 5 million people after finding out she was overly dependent on Middle East black gold.

Sustainability policies and active acts often come into place only when matters become far too pressing.

It was unfortunate for the so-called “Climategate” to have happened when it did as it took much of the sting of global warming from the world leaders attending the Copenhagen 2009 Climate Conference.

So in the end, NOTHING came from the much hyped event.

We did promise a 40% reduction in CO2 emission by the year 2020.

Whether it’s a promise (conditional that it was) we can deliver is at best a gamble.

Let’s face it: environmental matters seemed the least of our concerns.

If my reading in the political direction of the country is correct, Malaysians care only about one thing: The Economy. At least that seems to be the thrusts where the current government is concerned.

Never mind lo.

During a trip to Kitakyushu many, many moons ago, I discovered that it was disgruntled mothers who kicked off the so-called green movement of the city.

Grabbing the matters of their children’s wellbeing by the balls, the mothers of Kitakyushu in the 1960’s began pushing hard for a cleanup of the smog-filled industrial city, complete with its mercury enriched sludge-filled bay.

Those days are long gone for the city after much effort and funding.

We don’t have anything resembling such catalyst that could push for such a concerted effort to be made.

Sure, our verdant forest and green hills continue to be raped and plundered for the red earth, space and valuable timbers that it has plenty, but, hey, that is happening not in my neighborhood.

Just last weekend during a trip up north I came across a hill in Kedah with a grotesque half cut look of exposed red earth and green forest.

The hills in the once paddy-king state look a lot like molehills that jut out amidst flat plains.

I supposed the hill will be completely leveled in my next trip up north.

It’s a sad reflection of the country that we seemed to be going backwards in recent years in all matters concerned, so much so that the winning of the ASEAN Games football gold is welcomed with quite the euphoria.

It is like we are starting from scratch again.

Just where is it that we took a wrong turn in realizing this dream of a country which would flourish together with its populace?

I have asked this same question over and over again in many posting but until now, there is simply no answer.
Instead we get braggarts boasting boastful rhetoric’s, institutions neglecting their responsibilities, authorities acting like Maharajahs of old and countless other abomination in clear signals of a country slipping into an abyss.

M Nasir could well be spot on when he sang: “Jangan sampai makan rasuah, Nanti bangsa jadi musnah..” all those years ago.

When you think of it, all the above has a common denominator and it is that of bleeding the country’s resources to fatten ourselves up.

Well, a select few of us anyway.

Sustainability be damned.

Swampy

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sacrificing Something Sacred

If MCKK was to be open to non-Malays, later the girls will want entrance. Then extremists will want everything non-Malay to be shared. There will be no end to it.

Shocking, isn't it? Are we in a time warp or something here?

Some things are Sacred, Personal” is something that appeared today in the New Straits Times "Letters to the Editor".

(I hardly ever buy the NST these days. Mostly this stems from the paper not carrying loads of ads on (most–of-the-time-phony) $ale$ et cetera.)

Non-Malays. Girls. Extremists. Words with chauvinistic nuances in a single written paragraph.

Good One(On a curious note: Why in heaven’s name would anyone not from MCKK want to be an Old Boy's in the first place?)

I have been at MCKK several times, and sadly, it has not managed to uphold it’s often cited brilliant past. Not a relic, but it has seen better days.

Reading the letter above makes me wonder why the Editors let this one through.

Perhaps a highlight in the kind of prejudiced thinking that goes through some of us?

The existence of such “focused” schools and institutions should not represent a problem where race relations and national unity are concerned had the national schooling system been better managed.

MCKK is hardly unique with many of the country’s schools going the racial and cultural route.

My daughter’s class, for example, has not a single non-Malay student whom she could befriend.

Just when could we learn about each other, then?

Not helping matters are adults who seemed focused in imparting their prejudices to the young minds.

Like above.

Charlize Theron

CT

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Memories of Bygone Days aka The Days I Spent Good Money on Lauya Movies

Pedang Setiawan
After years (decades?) of hiatus from Chinese-language movies, I succumbed to the temptation of Pang Brothers’ Storm Warriors and braved the 6pm Kota Damansara traffic for an 8pm viewing.

Shouldn’t have bothered as the movie was - to put it crudely - crap.

Sure, the action scenes were quite amazing but they were nothing compared to those which appeared in the comic itself.

The two female stars were woeful and wasted while Aaron (Cloud) Kwok and Ekin (Wind) Cheng played second fiddle to all the CGIs on board.

On hindsight, I should have waited for Teddy Chan’s gritty “Bodyguards and Assassins”, which opens tomorrow.

Listing Donnie Yen as its lead actor, the trailer looked promising for a much better ride.

In my younger days, Kung Fu movies were a staple entertainment diet for me with Sungai Wang Plaza being THE place where I could be found on weekends and weekday nights whenever a good (or so – so) movie is showing.

Ever since Jet Li moved to Hollywood and then embarked on artsy Kung Fu movies, Donnie Yen has been carrying on with the all-action theme on his own with the last being Wilson Yip’s Ip Man (2008).

Lacking the flamboyance of Bruce Lee and the impishness of Jet Li, Donnie Yen has nonetheless managed to capture fans with his moves and skills.

Just like those of the late Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen’s moves look acceptably real and raw.

SPLFor example, I could watch his showdowns with a knife wielding Wu Jing and, later, the indomitable Samo Hung in Wilson Yip’s SPL (Sha Po Lang) (2005) over and over again.

Storm Warriors was supposed to have a similar climatic showdown between Cloud and Wind, but it didn’t match the one depicted in the comic series.

Close, but not quite there. A pity, really, as the fight between the two Kung Fu brothers is quite up there where fictional showdowns are concerned.

Even Kazuo Koike’s excellent Lone Wolf and Cub – despite having the best of foes in Itto Ogami and Yagyu Retsudo – doesn’t have anything remotely close.

(My opinions only. You’re welcomed to disagree.)

Back to Bodyguards and Assassins: Should I plonk some cold hard cash to go watch it?

Probably not. I think I will make do with watching the (ahem!) original DVD version when it comes out.

Unlike those younger bachelor days, watching movies alone is not something that is fun to do these days.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Parliamentarians FB'ing


I have just got some information on my FB (Facebook). This is from a student in the Edinburgh University itself who said she has never failed her studies.

“In fact, she is one of the best students doing Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology with Industrial Experience. Hope this could be clarified so that there are no more rumours on Nur Amalina,” said Zulkifli Noordin (PKR-Kulim Bandar Baru), reading from a posting on his FB.
"

Nur Amalina is, of course, our 2004 SPM 17A1s scorer.

The “ clarification” was made following the MP’s own question in Parliament on her status following unsubstantiated rumors that she had failed her studies.

Weird that the Q&A and the clarification occurred within “several minutes”, though.

It was as if Zulkifli had intended to put the matter to rest in one swift moved especially since he had no help from Higher Education Deputy Minister, Saifuddin Abdullah.

If I am not mistaken, Saifuddin himself is also on FB.

This posting is not going to be about Nur Amalina, who I believe will do whatever it takes to succeed in her studies.

It’s more about taking postings in the social networks (or any other "facts" in the Internet) as Gospel (no offence intended) Truths.

FB, Blogs, etc usually represent the sides the respective posters want to portray themselves.

Of course, they will be a smattering on facts in between, but fleshing these out would be bits and pieces of opinionated offerings.

Take for example the recent Arsenal – Liverpool game in the English Premier League.

Fact: Arsenal won 2 – 1. Another fact: Two of the three goals were scored by Liverpool players.

So if I were to post on my FB that the game ended with Liverpool players scoring two goals and Arsenal one without letting on who won, I would categorically NOT be fibbing.

And unless someone comes out and say that one of the two was an own goal, somebody reading my post would think that Liverpool had won the match.

(I know it’s a lame example, but then again….)

Back to YBs Zulkifli and Saifuddin on Nur Amalina.

The news brief reported Zulkifli as saying that “he has to correct his statement as he has raised the issue in his debate and has now found out that Nur Amalina was still continuing with her studies.”

Saifuddin, meanwhile, was quoted verbatim as having said: “That’s why I said as far as we are concerned; we don’t have any information on the failure. Thank you for retracting it immediately and correcting the statement.

So there you go.

FB postings in our Parliamentary proceedings.

I bet rumors of Nur Amalina’s supposed failure also originated from the Net.

Maybe even from a friend of a friend of a friend's Internet posting.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Oh To Be Financially Reckless

One fine day of book-window-browsing, I chanced upon two books on paintings – one on Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (July 15, 1606 – October 4, 1669) and the other, Nelson Alexander "Alex" Ross (born January 22, 1970).

Had I still been the financially reckless young man I was years ago, the latter would now be a part of my collections.

Alas, it carried a somewhat hefty price tag.

(A few Ringgits short of RM200, admittedly.

Peanuts, of course, unless you factor the fact that Alex Ross paints comic characters – great looking ones notwithstanding.
)

The Rembrandt was RM59, but my heart was on Ross' “Mythology”, so I did what my brain said was the right thing to do: I walked off with neither.

On hindsight, the Rembrandt would have made a fine addition to the one I have on Vincent Van Gogh.

It would however also be a reminder of my missing out on the book I really wanted.

Perhaps, saving some money for the purchase? Maybe even both?

Realistically, that would not be possible unless my boss decides that I have been a good worker deserving of some extra in his paycheck.(Amin to that.)

The thing about missing out on things which you “chanced” upon is this: it is often one where you would be rankling yourself later on when they're gone.

You have to admit this sort of thing happens quite a few times.

In an age where the e-book is gathering pace and popularity amongst readers, these “coffee-table” editions remain a strong bastion against their digital cousins.

I wonder how long more before they go extinct?

Alas, the relatively high prices of books here do not help further the cause of reading.

My mind keeps wandering to our southern neighbor where AR's “Mythology” could well be priced within a range which I can safely shell out dollar notes without too much guilt.

I just hope that when I do have some extra, it would still be nestled in the shelves.

Will it?

Alex Ross' Wonder Woman.

Fine art

Monday, 7 December 2009

When Does A Tailspin Start?

“Afghanistan has gone into a tailspin largely because President Hamid Karzai’s government became dysfunctional and massively corrupt — focused more on extracting revenues for private gain than on governing.”

I read this line in Friedman’s “May It All Come True” back and forth a couple of times; a stark and blunt reminder of how a nation can turn to dust and grime.

Yes; the whole column was written with America’s wellbeing in mind rather than Afghanistan’s, but it rightly identifies “ownership” as an important ingredient for nation building.

With ownership, progress can be sustained - Friedman proposes to US President Barrack Obama - in alleviating Afghanistan stock from the current strife ridden-wasteland that it is.

Good luck to BHO in pulling this possibly mission-impossible off, I say.

Friedman’s line of thinking brings to mind the two recent postings by our own Farish Noor on revelations last week of our migration figures.

More than 308,000 left the roost – so as to speak – between March 2008 and August 2009 “to find better opportunities”, compared to about 140,000 for the whole of 2007.

It is, of course, not at all unusual for people to leave in search of greener pastures, but what was telling however were the somewhat despondent responses which followed Farish Noor’s first posting.

In his mind, FN imagines this despondency as people having given up on what he says is the Malaysian project.

Is there still One (pardon the unintended pun), in fact?

Once upon a time during arguably democratically-defective days, we had the so-called Vision 2020 dream – where supposedly the country will stand equal with developed nations.

This dream has certainly withered since.

Somehow, ego and personality driven visions for country do not really cut it where nation building is concerned.

Once they leave, so too their so-called visions.

Which make sense because the other guy will want to show that he is equally visionary in having his own grand visions for the country.

Is FN’s contention correct in that many are giving up on the Malaysian project?

News briefs on the same do not provide any racial breakdown.

But does it matter which race is leaving the country in droves because they no longer believe it can provide for their and their next generation’s wellbeing?

Read Friedman’s line of Afghanistan again.

A government that doesn’t care for long term future of the country will spawn a population that is equally gregarious in their thinking.

Afghanistan is perhaps a far too extreme an example, but the context of its continued collapse is still spot on, isn’t it?

We can certainly draw some (distant cousins ?) contextual similarities here in Malaysia.

Right now, people – even if they are in the minority (as a Deputy Minister suggests of a 10,000 respondents feedback on “feeling safe”) – have also begun to lose confidence in the country’s authoritative institutions.

What there is left when the governors are no longer looked upon as providers of security?

Isn’t this, thus, a kind of “tailspin”?

What's wrong with this picture?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Sweet Subsidy: Is That Why Its Got to Go?

...
It does seem like “subsidy” is a much maligned word these days.

Much maligned as though it’s THE grotesque wart that is hindering this nation’s perfect statuesque appearance.

Whatever it is, we do not have to look too far ahead to see what life is like without all these “tongkat”s pushing commodity prices downwards.

For one, the government is looking set to use a MyKad-based method to facilitate a subsidy-less floating of the pump price.

Two things come to mind:

One, my own MyKad is splitting into two, so using THAT would be an exercise in temper controlling.

Two, since I a considered middle income earner, I would have to pay the non-subsidies rate anyway.

Fine. No problem.

Right now, I have to pay premium price at the pumps as my K-Car is such a sluggard when filled with RON95 petrol anyway.

It’s harder to empathize with the removal of subsidies from the other commodities, though. Sugar, cooking oil, flour and rice, to take some examples.

The direct impact for consumer like you and me will not be that major, perhaps, as most families (speaking of the so-called middling group of the neither poor nor rich) are already paying market price (?), with the exception of sugar.

It is the indirect impact that would hurt our wallets, though.

Producers will take the cue to raise prices when subsidies are lifted, never mind the portions of the subsidized commodities.

The ever-popular Malaysian benchmark of inflation – the teh tarik and roti canai – will shoot up, followed with a round of indignations by all and sundry.

Then, a compromise whereby Mamak stalls and restaurants everywhere (Ahem!) sacrifice their earning to “subsidize” this so-called Malaysia staple.

Silently, though, the prices in the other items will creep up.

Nowadays our RM10 note is just enough for a single person unless they go really, really stingy.

This creeping up in other prices is the real net effect of any moves to de-subsidize commodities.

Couple the removal with the introduction of the GST (Good and Services Tax) and it could well mean that our Ringgit shrinks even further.

The government is quoting figures such RM1b and RM2b in extra revenues from GST and petrol subsidy withdrawals.

Not much moollah when it comes to boosting the national coffer, actually.

In fact, it’s not even enough to cover the recent Government's PKFZ bond guarantee .

We really should be looking elsewhere for more solid savings.

Plugging government expenditure leaks, for example.

Wonder how much we can save from there.

Subsidy me this?

LP640. Sweet..

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Looking Out for the Ordinary Folks aka Here's Looking At You, Kid..

It’s a great day for democracy when the judiciary is finally looking out for the ordinary folks aka the PUBLIC.

What else can you surmise from the Appelate Court's decision to grant a stay of execution order against a High Court ruling, which compelled the EC to hold a by-election for the Kota Siputeh state seat in Kedah.

Court of Appeal judges Datuk Sulong Mat Jeraie, Datuk Kang Hwee Gee and Datuk Abdul Aziz Rahim yesterday reversed the decision by High Court judge Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin on the same matter.

"We can prevent an unnecessary by-election and save PUBLIC FUNDS (emphasis' mine)," said Sulong, "The correctness of the High Court ruling has not been tested in the higher courts."

Nothing was said of the legal reasoning for granting the stay, though.

Justice Alizatul had ruled that it was the constitutional duty of the EC to hold a by-election and that there was an absence of the special circumstances needed for the court to grant a stay.

There was also apparently a persuasive case law.

The combined wisdom of three judges who heard the Appeal, however, have put things back into (Ahem!) the right perspective.

What if the Higher Courts ( I assume that this case would go right up to the Highest court for deliberations) were to say that the Kota Siputeh seat is not vacant, they asked?

Wouldn’t that then lead to a waste of PUBLIC FUNDS?

Such profound wisdom.

Counsel for Election Commission cited RM200,000 as a possible starting figure to be wasted.

Wow.

Now, THAT is A LOT in public funds to go down the drain.

Much like the RM2.4 million wasted in purchasing 48,000 unutilized indelible inks from the last General Election.

Conducting elections is very wasteful, it seems.

Perhaps we should just do away with by-elections especially since the vacancies would have to be refilled come the General Elections anyway.

So whether the seats are made vacant due to death or some other factors – like going AWOL for consecutive State Assembly Meetings etc – let the seats remain vacant for a while.

The other State Assemblymen can surely chip in their time to look after the other constituency, right?

After all, this is a PUBLIC SERVICE they are providing the ordinary folks, and just like PUBLIC FUNDS, "Waste Not Want Not" should be the motto adhered to.

Let’s go for just the big one every five years.

Perhaps the Election Commission can seek such a Judicial Declaration from the Judiciary.

Here's looking at you, Rakyats.

Kingdom Come - Collective Wisdom?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Business of Space Exploration

“The (10-year old) Angkasawan programme is a long-term research and development (R&D) project by the government in the global race to master future technologies, which have and will likely continue to create highly lucrative commercial uses in many industries ranging from medicine to cosmetics and even entertainment.”

Major “Angkasawan Kedua” Dr Faiz Khaleed (and a Russian-born colleague Said Saidov) summed it up quite nicely for us to understand what space exploration is all about in the Malaysian Insider interview.

In a single word: Money.

Look at it this way: why do we even need to send a human to space, when a functional robot would be an even better bet in collecting data?

The moon is barren; Mars is way too far for mankind to explore as of now (and probably just as barren as the moon).

Hell, we can appreciate space and all its marvels in the comforts of our home; and our children still be piqued to study the sciences behind all those rockets sent off and satellites orbiting the earth.

The US does it as it wanted to be the first – especially since Russia (as she was before) was also keen to be the first.

So space exploration was about one-upmanship between the two.

There is another reason: Star Wars.

The same technology that sends our good old Angkasawan into space is also the one powering all those ICBMs lying idle all over the world.

And what one has, the other needs to also have.

There is much moollah to be made in the space tech industry, especially with Governments' amongst your main clients.

Now that Russia is but a very pale shadow of itself, its space experiences come in handy in the (ahem) public/private space-exploration-venture business.

Pardon the overly clunky term.

Dr Faiz mentioned the nicer things that have filtered down to us: the thumbdrive (really?) and carbon fibres for cars and computers.

I wish he talked more like a comic geek: of fantastical things like space travel, time warping, teleportation, space hibernation, etc.

Science is dry, but fantasy is not, good Dr.

MInsider said Dr Faiz was pretty nonchalant on the whole “Space Tourists” labeling of him and Datuk Dr Sheikh “Angkasawan Pertama” Muszaphar Shukor.

If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be too concerned either.

It would be a dream trip, in fact, if I'm young and single.

To be Buck Rogers, Luke Skywalker, Flash Gordon again.

The good of mankind?

Right.. Right.. Good of mankind. Check.

Alpha Flight's Vindicator

Heather Hudson

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Ridding Garbage (aka House Cleaning)

Literally moving house!Cleaning up in the process of moving house is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs there is for anyone to take on.

You just don’t realized how much stuff (and junk) you have accumulated throughout the years until it’s spring cleaning or moving out time.

We are moving to our new house end of this year (hopefully!) and I am bracing myself for the horrid task of deciding what to keep and what to discard.

Sometimes, the best thing is to just chuck out everything that is STRICTLY not necessary for your new home and start fresh.

What is so clear for the head is however less so for the heart.

Often times, there are things that you just can’t find it in your heart to throw out, and as such store it somewhere nice and quiet.

The headache is even bigger if you are cleaning up another person’s home; let say, a second hand house on as-is basis through an auction, for example.

I bet there’re makeshift attics even in our non-attic typical homes which second as store and forget storage space.

My wife’s house in Ipoh has one above the second bathroom located in the rear and it’s a place I don’t wish to go poking about.

However, if you are the brave (curious?) type who do bother to dig deep, you may just find some gems – old portraits, memorabilia of one kind or another, records, books and magazines; basically stuffs that its owners are keen to hold on to but at the same time, unable to do so.

Usually it would be a case of finders keepers, but common sense says personal items (especially those with familial links) should be returned if possible.

What you hope – nay, pray – for is that you don’t end up making discoveries like those chaps in Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift (1970), though, but most of the time there will be the odd nasty finds.

(Which is also ONE reason why I’m only peeking at what’s within the aforementioned shelf aka makeshift attic cum storage space of our house in Ipoh!)

This is especially if the house owner or tenant before you is one behaviorally-challenged (aka nasty) person, someone like the unnamed narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic, Tell-Tale Heart (1843).

News reports of late seemed to suggest the same kind of headaches being faced by our leaders: municipal, city, state and Federal level, mainly from the tumultuous March 2008 general elections results.

For example, the Sun reported today the KL Mayor cancelling a three-year contract worth RM32.4 million to supply flowers.

Among other, the report said: “the current Mayor is unable to focus on the job at hand as he tries to clean up the mess left behind by previous administrations – both at DBKL and the Federal Territories Ministry levels.”

A whole lot of mess is out in the open these days: the PKFZ scandal, Penang’s Kampung Buah Pala, the alleged exorbitant practices of a former minister, the Lingam tapes, the “RAPID”ly rotting buses in Rawang, and many, many more.

Major headaches for anyone tasked with cleaning up all these mess left behind.

Can’t we just chuck everything out like the junk that they are?

Of course, the rats that infest the garbage should go too.

If they have become as big as those in the Graveyard shift, then it’s time to call in the exterminator. (ex-Terminator?)

You don’t keep rats. Rats carry diseases. Fatal ones.
Hmm, who would you call?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Small Fry

Cod
Wong, a former colleague at my former workplace, is an avid angler with an equally avid taste for all kinds of fish.

No tall tales of fantastic catches from the sometimes cranky photographer (mostly from age and seniority, I think) but Wong has this penchant for vivid descriptions of fish dishes.

Like the fantastical Ikan Belida fishballs served at an outlet somewhere in or near Grik which he swears tastes simply divine like none other.

Ikan BelidaThe Belida is a very bony predatory fish which you often see in homes as ornamental fish, so - to me, at least - it was surprising to hear Wong waxing lyrics on how good it tasted.

Unfortunately, the outlet was closed when we came calling.

As luck would have it, when a few journalist colleagues and I were treated to a sumptuous feast of an expensive variety of the Ikan Bawal by then State Exco and now de facto Perak MB Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, Wong was not in the group.

He would have undoubtedly loved the Ikan Bawal steamed simply with ginger.

This is Wong's favorite method of cooking fish as he says it brings out the best taste of fresh fish.

Fish was a staple food for me when I was a student in the UK.

I am not too adventurous with the kinds of fish I buy, sticking with the usual suspects of rainbow trouts, soles, mackerels and – whenever I feel extravagant – salmon.

Most of the time it's the farmed rainbow trout which are conveniently packed whole minus the innards.

Steaming wasn’t part of the menu, though, as I didn’t have a steamer then.

Trouts, what else?They are however quite bland. The tofu of fishes, you could say. Probably, the wild variety is nicer and richer but I never did get a chance to sample any, fresh or otherwise.

I saw a programme in Astro’s Asian Food Channel recently where river whitebaits (ikan bilis?) caught in nets were immediately pan fried.

No salt, no pepper; just fresh and tasty, judging from the looks on those who took bites of the dish.

My better half said it was the same back home in Kampung Sena, Arau, Perlis when the river and streams were clearer and cleaner, and fishes were in abundance.

You could sauk (Kedah word meaning "scoop") a bountiful of fish fries and plonk them straight into the frying pan for a good side dish.

Not something you want to do these days where even the full flowing rivers all Teh Tarik-ish in shades.

Talking about small fry, a list of politicians and the politically connected were charged for corruption this week.

Pat on the back for the MACC?

Umm, not quite yet.

Just like Citizen Nades, am wondering too if we will ever see any Ikan Belidas in the net.

Maybe we are like an aquarium where the likes of Ikan Belida which cost a bundle in maintenance and feeds on the small fries are kept as ornaments.

For how long, though? Until our pockets are empty and dried up?

Anyone for Belida fishball?

Sigh… C’est La Vie.

From The Star: Our rivers today.

Our Rivers

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Callous Comics

As appeared in The StarAre you familiar with the term Adjourned Sine Die?

This usually means the suspension of an assembly with the premise of future – but yet unspecified – dates for congregating again.

Christmas may not come twice in a year (Remember this sexist Bond joke?), but the circus in the form of the Perak State Assembly made its appearance yet again today.

They way things are going, this can be expected a routine event for Malaysians to either look forward to for some good laughs or to retch in great disgust.

When our representatives fail us, what do we do?

We hold them responsible and asked them to take the appropriate measures.

Seek a renewed mandate, for example.

Or accept the current hung status and fight it out in gentlemanly debates and discussions.

No two ways about it: they have failed Perakians.

Yes, the BN State Assemblymen and the trio of BN-friendly independents (only in Malaysia) can say that THEY have the mandate of the Rakyat.

And, yes, the PR ADUNs will say that THEY have been calling for a snap election all the while.

Yes, and Yes, and double Yesses.

BUT have they not even an ounce of shame over the shambolic sittings of the Assembly so far after the reverse takeover of Perak?

Please. We all enjoy a good laugh every now and then, but these are becoming sick and disgustful jokes.

For it to occur the following day after the tragedy in Kuala Dipang involving three schoolchildren makes it even harder to stomach.

Come on, respected YBs and YABs. Takkan tak ada sikit pun rasa malu?

The 1Malaysia unity camp tragedy can be quite symbolic of Perak as it is.

Newly erected - but ultimately rickety - foundations, a youthful generation hopeful that the path would lead them to their destination, a few malcontents rocking the situation (for God knows what reasons), and then, the quite thinkable occurs and lives are lost.

Too distinct a tragedy to draw such symbolism?

Maybe. Perhaps. Most probably.

I know I am grasping at straws and probably life will go on as usual for both camps.

No giving, no taking.

Both adamant they are in the right.

If I were a Perakian, the next elections I'll vote ALL of them OUT.

See how they like a truly hung government.

Adjourned Sine Die, gentlemen.

Past Tense: Pos Dipang - Aug 29, 1996

Pos Dipang

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Beautiful Anonymity

Whose is this?
I must admit having to do a double take on my views of Malaysian Premier Najib Tun Razak.

The recently unveiled Budget 2010 is a stroke of brilliance on his (and his team’s part) especially in managing the push-pull factor that is inevitable in ensuring the country has enough in its coffers and at the same time score the all important political brownie points with the Rakyat.

Witness the tax on credit cards.

In one stroke, Najib managed to push the message across that the government cares on the proliferation of credit cards and its burgeoning debt levels and at the same time, get back some of the excess profiteering from the card issuers.

Expect a majority of credit card issuers to offer their clients absorption of this tax .

After all, it is they who would lose out if all of us were to cut our cards ownership to a measly one card per person.

To the credit card issuers, the tax imposed is chicken feed easily recouped from the interest on outstandings without batting an eyelash.

Shrewd move.

When the budget came out, I thought - probably like everyone else – Najib was doing the usual sleight of hand's trick of feeding with the right and taking with the left with all the so-called goodies.

There were the increase in personal as well as EPF and insurance relief, the broadband subscription allowance, the 1% income tax reduction for those earning more than RM100k annually...

Against these were the aforementioned credit card tax, the Real Property Capital Gain Tax imposition and news of an impending cut in fuel subsidies.

Can I say Quid Pro Quo?

Anyway, the latter and the National Automotive Policy would be the most important thing to look out for next.

Dare I make predictions?

Here goes anyway: Fuel subsidies will be no more for everyone at large, and accorded only to the following sectors/segments; public transportation, charitable bodies and senior citizens.

The rest of the population – including the poor and hard core poor – will pay the market rate; thank you very much.

NAP is a much tougher cookie to predict, says this armchair critic/analyst ordinaire.

Unfortunately the country’s far-too-long high excise duty scenario precludes any drastic withdrawal which would have the effect of crippling the second hand car industry as well as the original national car maker, Proton.

Is a consolidation in the offing?

Looks pretty likely, as the advantage is plenty for a single conglomerate as opposed to several (just how many so-called National Car Manufacturers do we have currently?) especially in terms of economies of scale.

Can it be done though?

Heck do I know, but the current scenario in so many pseudo national cars running around is laughable when everyone knows these are rebadged versions.

The benefits for us would be in the medium to long term via the weaning in government subsidies to the National (too big to be allowed to fail) Car Maker – whatever name it would assume.

Back to Budget 2010.

I do wish there were some kind of tax on the foreign-laborer intensive industries/sectors though I suppose such an imposition would rake back whatever gains in growth so sorely needed in these tough conditions.

Next Budget, maybe?

PS: Off the topic, I wonder if there is a Quid Pro Quo somewhere in the recent Ong and Chua peace handshake.

PK(Cough! Ahem!)FZ.

A Quid for anyone's thoughts?

Adroit Whatchammacallit

I must admit having to do a double take on my views of Malaysian Premier Najib Tun Razak.

The recently unveiled Budget 2010 is a stroke of brilliance on his (and his team’s part) especially in managing the push-pull factor that is inevitable in ensuring the country has enough in its coffers and at the same time score the all important political brownie points with the Rakyat.

Witness the tax on credit card.

In one stroke, Najib managed to push the message across that the government cares on the proliferation of credit cards and its burgeoning debt levels and at the same time, get back some of the excess profiteering from the card issuers.

Expect a majority of credit card issuers to offer their clients absorption of this tax.

After all, it is they who would lose out if all of us were to cut our cards ownership to a measly one card per person.

To the credit card issuers, the tax imposed is chicken feed easily recouped from the interest on outstanding without batting an eyelash.

Shrewd moves.

When the budget came out, I thought - probably like everyone else – Najib was doing the usual sleight of hands trick of feeding with the right and taking with the left with all the so-called goodies.

The increase in personal as well as EPF and insurance and broadband subscription reliefs, income tax reduction for those earning more than RM100k annually against the aforementioned credit card tax, the Real Property Capital Gain Tax imposition and news of an impending cut in fuel subsidies.

The latter and the National Automotive Policy would be the most important thing to look out for next.

Dare I make predictions?

Here goes anyway: Fuel subsidies will be no more for everyone at large, and accorded only to the following sectors/segments; public transportation, charitable bodies and senior citizens.

The rest of the population – including the poor and hard core poor – will pay the market rate; thank you very much.

NAP is a much tougher cookie to predict; unfortunately the country’s far-too-long high excise duty scenario preclude any such withdrawal which would have the effect of crippling the second hand car industry as well as the national car maker, Proton.

Is a consolidation in the offing?

Looks pretty likely, as the advantage is plenty of a single conglomerate as opposed to (how many so-called National Car Manufacturers do we have currently?) to several especially in terms of economies of scale.

Can it be done though especially with regards the foreign makers shareholding in Perodua, Naza and Inokom (did I miss anyone?)

Heck do I know, but the current scenario in so many pseudo national cars running around is laughable when everyone knows these are rebadged versions.

The benefits for us would be in the medium to long term, unfortunately, via the weaning in government subsidies to the national (too big to be allowed to fail) car maker – whatever name it would assume, and the slow reductions in excise duties for a more open-market scenario.

Back to Budget 2010.

I wish there were some kind of tax on the foreign-laborer intensive industries/sectors though I suppose such an imposition would rake back whatever gains in growth so sorely needed in these tough conditions.

Next Budget, maybe?

PS: This posting doesn’t mean relate to my thoughts’ on the Premier’s political moves, though.

Wondering, too, if the recent Ong and Chua peace handshake is a Quid Pro Quo related to the PKFZ scandal.

Future responses from Ong on the matter will tell.

Beautifully Anonymous

Who?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Hybrid Morbidities

Priorities?
We’ve got some kind of world record here though not exactly the flattering type.

According to the AG (Auditor General, not Attorney General mind you), a government owned Proton Perdana is indirectly a world class fuel guzzler worthy of mention in, at the very least, the Malaysia Book of Records.

It manages a monstrous fuel consumption figure of 17.34l per km, or 0.06km (that’s 6cms) for every litre.

(The Hummer H3, the smallest Humvie, is said to get around 6 km per every litre in city driving conditions.)

The above figure is based on the assumption that the Perdana went full throttle at its supposed top speed of 205km/h during the record setting feat between 12.14pm and 12.15 om on Dec 14, 2008.

(Either that or the pump attendant (what self service?) didn’t put the nozzle in the right hole when pumping in the RON97 into the Perdana’s fuel tank.

Are you thinking what I am thinking? Now which hole did the fuel go into, eh? Wicked! )

My take is that it was (still is?) indeed a record breaker as the same Perdana managed the same feat a few days later on Dec 19. And so on.

Wow.

The now-in-abeyance-but-formerly-the-state-government of Perak (and Terengganu, too) so badly wanted to offload their Perdana V6s in place of Toyota Camry’s on the pretext that it’s one high maintenance car.

On hindsight: they got it Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

Look at it this way:

By continuing to use the Proton Perdana, these state governments (and others too) would be helping the economy grow with frequent fuel purchases (provided, that is, they all fill up at Petronas who is one of our country’s main financier) as well as injecting some needed boost to the car servicing industry.

Methinks these people never heard of the phrase “trickle-down-effect”. Dumbos.

Sadly that last phrase refers to me too.

I have since given up my nationalistic tendencies in helping push through this “trickle-down-effect” thingy with the selling of my Proton Gen2.

Now, I no longer contribute with frequent fill-her-ups at the pumps (Petronas, of course!), or the equally frequent visits to either Proton, approved vendors or the under-the-tree mechanics for the bi-tri-or-more-monthly maintenance / repairs / whatcammacallit, as well as boosting the tow-truck industry every now and then.

I am so (blipping) sorry for my lack of patriotism. Really am.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Gluttonic Tendencies

“We cannot continue transferring the nation’s wealth to those at the apex of the economic pyramid while hoping that someday, maybe, the benefits of that transfer will trickle down in the form of steady employment and improved living standards for the many millions of families struggling to make it from day to day.

That money is never going to trickle down. It’s a fairy tale. We’re crazy to continue believing it
.”

This was written by NYTimes columnist Bob Herbert in his commentary aptly titled: Safety Nets for the Rich.

BH spoke of the amazing dichotomy, and incredulous imbalance, in the multibillions in bonuses for Wall Street bankers and the straight jacketed American public, faced with keeping their day job intact even as the country’s deficit grows to US$1.4 trillion.

That is a huge sum in deficit to be covered.

Probably the US would be able to ride their deficit storm, but the longer its economy remains in the doldrums, this figure would continue growing.

What is Uncle Sam to do?

What else but what it does best: send out young Americans to far-away land to fight the good fight for democracy.

I digress, but this posting is not about the US of A.

According to BH (Bob Herbert, not Berita Harian), two-thirds of all the income gains from the years 2002 to 2007 went to the top 1 percent of Americans.

I’m wondering what the percentage is like for our country.

A country will probably prosper if the middle class (in terms of income) is the biggest of its population segment simply for the fact that it would relieve the state from the burden of socialism, which is the reality of subsidies anyway.

State handouts should be restricted only for the poor and hard core poor segment in a country.

Given a scenario where there is fair distribution in wealth – which meant that the poor and hard core poor will be fairly small in size – there should then be an equally fairly equitable distribution in the variety of levels of services.

Far too Utopian a scenario?

Perhaps, but shouldn’t it be the kind of future we should be looking at?

Tun Dr Mahathir was a firm believer of the trickling down theory, whereby the giving of a select few of gargantuan amounts in opportunities to grow and become wealthy would help kick start the downstream effect.

Didn’t work, as the Statesman missed out on the strength of one of mankind’s seven sins: gluttony.

What we got was a suppressed labor market where the wage levels in the 1990s and in 2008 remains pretty much the same plus or minus a few Ringgits for the low paid income earners.

Looking at the many “revelations” from the Auditor General this year, the leaks in RMs that could have instead gone into the economy is same old same old.

(No convenient links here: they're all over the place.)

Old news really, as nothing came out from the AG’s revelations last year.

Surely we're not expecting anything else this year, are we?

Just like it was before, trust us to go about town with these, and watch the furor over what could well be criminality (at least for neglect) in the handling of public funds die a typical Malaysian style death.

Aren't we ever the forgive-full.

Like BH says: It’s one Big Fat (Blip)ing Fairy Tale Dream to be hoping for the hammer to fall on these miscreants.

Semuanya OK.

Whatever the (blip) that means.

Artist Impression

Monday, 19 October 2009

Nervy Encounters

MW
Once in a while you would come across books that unnerved you.

The feeling is akin to being caught in a purportedly haunted house with no way out except going forward despite the trepidations of imagined horrors lurking in shadows and badly lit corners.

Osamu Tezuka’s MW is the first non-horror fiction that has managed to do exactly that to me; joining William Blatty’s The Exorcist and Stephen King’s It.

(There was a third novel tackling the subject of reincarnation which I no longer recall neither the title nor its author. My most vivid recollection of this particular novel was its repeated visions of a young girl's fiery death.)

On the face of it MW has an interesting premise: a young man totally devoid of any sense of morality goes about seeking vengeance against those who perpetrated the crime which led to his being the amoral eunuch that he is.

MW, of which the original Japanese serial ran from 1976 to 1978, refers to a military developed poisonous gas responsible for creating the moral vacuum that is Michio Yuki, one of two boys spared the annihilation of an entire island’s population from an accidental leak.

Most of back stories are told in between the current developments – when Michio goes about his vengeance-seeking business – and the background is spelt out rather clearly, leaving no room for second guessing.

MW is disturbing (or perhaps it’s more a sign of age on my part) in its lurid detailing of mankind’s mortal sins – greed, sexual aberrations, cruelty, murderous intentions; all these pretty much appearing in various degrees within its 600-odd pages.

The other boy – then a hoodlum during the leak – became a priest (Father Garai) and was involved in a sexual relationship with Michio.

Unholy Union"He's lured me into an unholy union ... every now and then he transforms himself into a woman and seeks my flesh ...," was Father Garai’s confession.

That the homo-erotic segment of the Manga being quite heavy and highly explicit is a facet of MW that stopped me from reading it cover to cover in one go.

I had wondered then if I should proceed; concerned with what I might discover the deeper I go into the storyline.

In the end, I braved it and found the tale ending in somewhat an unsatisfactory manner for me with a far too convenient deus ex machina of a twin brother and the death in one of them.

(Sigh… You can guess who it was that bit the dust from a mile away.)

That said, MW is another book which I didn’t re-read a couple of times.

Its books like these which make you think of calls for the banning of books, movies, literatures etc. with the latest salvo coming from Puteri Umno who targeted movies featuring ghosts, superstitions and mysticism.

I suppose MW - had they read it in its entirety - might just be one such to be included in a banned books listing.

Did MW teach me anything? Nope, but then again neither did the hundred of other fictions novels and comic books I had read through the years.

Oh what a waste, eh?

The only exception to this admittedly unfair generalisation would be historical fictions.

Interspersed with nuggets of facts (sometimes twisted, but still factual in a way), these are the tales which often makes you look out for its fact-based counterpart.

Michio Yuki is one very disturb character, but we have our fair share of such sickos in real life that a reminder of the fine line between fact and fiction should be appreciated.

Some fictions are ugly only because they reflect life at its most extreme.

That said, life has shown that in can manage to supersede even our wildest nightmarish visions.

The Holocaust. Pol Pot. Bosnia Herzegovina. Rwanda. Darfur .

To cite but a few such instances.

And we want to ban what again?

Monday, 12 October 2009

Voltronic Principles

What if there is truly a TRUE Barisan Nasional?

One where Umno needs no longer countenance the woes the likes of MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PPP, IPF, bla bla.

Right now, many components parties in Barisan Nasional are justifiably pale shadows of whatever formerly glorious political parties that they were.

Barisan Nasional Chief Najib Tun Razak could just wake up one fine day and decide: I will consolidate everyone under the sole banner of the Barisan Nasional and save myself the headache of micro management.

(Of course, this is only a Peninsular Malaysia-centric what if scenario, mind you. The Sabahan and Sarawakian are forces in their own respective right that such a move would mean immediate political death to any such aspirations.)

A leader of this huge conglomerate of a political party would truly be a leader for Malaysia.

1Malaysia in name and practice.

Bagan Pinang has shown that people can be forgiving of your faults if (and this is a BIG if) you can take care (even if it is the mere outward manifestation) of their needs.

Macro politics, or as some politicians are wont to say: the Big Picture.

By consolidating all the parties under a single political organization, Najib will be able to swiftly put a kick in the behind any upcoming Pakatan Rakyat coalition come-together.

The time is ripe for such a mega merger anyway, as some components of Barisan Nasional are very much in political limbo now.

Just think about it.

A whole list of has-been politicians can thus be elevated to Chairmans of inconsequential Quangos, or given senatorship to helm likewise inconsequential posts, something along the lines of Minister for Inter Race Relational Harmonics and Neighborliness.

Or something likewise.

Instead of each component having its own Central Working Committee – and correspondingly, their own respective interests and race-centric needs – Najib should decide on having a single CWC comprising of all the CWCs combined.

One truly big and (now provable) happy family.

No more bitching about being subservient to another party. That particular bullshitting stops as everything would have to be thrashed in the open.

So what if Umno is perceived as a Malay-centric, populists, political entity beyond reprimand.

Heck, if this single entity (the consolidated Barisan Nasional) can undo the never ending political bitching that we are currently indulging in and steer the country towards the greatness that it could and should, so be it.

There will be no more race-centric decisions and policies as without consensus, this mega CWC would not work.

Barisan Nasional has always trumpeted its consensus politics anyway, so such a direction would be child’s play, if not easier.

Let’s face it: if BN wish to come out as a single entity hell bent on creating a successful Malaysia for every Malaysian, it can do so.

In fact, it had such a vision once upon a time.

Right now, Umno is literally carrying the banner of the Barisan Nasional on its own; Uncle Sam’s claim of the Indian community returning to roost notwithstanding.

Isa Samad is the Barisan Nasional that (apparently) people want to see.

Someone acceptable by Ahmad, Ah Meng, Raju, Salmah, Siew Ling and Ramani, checkered past and warts notwithstanding.

Without the hindrance of so many conflicting interests represented by its multitude of components parties, there is no longer thus a need to play the racial card.

Perish such racists’ thoughts.

People will know that their interests are catered for by this mega, multi racial, multi interests CWC.

So what if some of the personalities within are suspect in both quality and morality?

The combined push-pull effect of the CWC will rein these AHs in.

Anyway, the past few events last week (MCA EGM, Bagan Pinang, Makkal Sakthi formation) have shown that morality is the least of people’s concerns anyway.

Flamboyance, charm, deep pockets matters more, really.

No one is perfect. Isa Samad is one such politician, and in a democracy, majority rules.

O(he-who-is-the-perceived-hero-in-the-PKFZ-saga)TK found this out the hard way when he was no-confident voted by his fellow party delegates.

So why bother looking for the unblemished?

Why not just have in place a set up that allows these blemished to work FOR us?

After all, one can daydream, can we not?

Defender of the Universe?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Junctions

Melaka is planning a replica of the famed flagship of Admiral Cheng Ho’s Treasure fleet.

I think this would be her second historical vessels replica after the Portuguese Man O War “Frol De La Mar” which is also its maritime museum.

Ironic that the state chose its first Western colonial master’s vessel to be replicated, but since it’s a done deal, let’s just leave it at that.

Back to Cheng Ho's flagship, I wonder if it would be something along the following lines:

“The first Treasure Fleet consisted of 62 ships; four were huge wood boats, some of the largest ever built in history. They were approximately 400 feet (122 meters) long and 160 feet (50 meters) wide. The four were the flagships of the fleet of 62 ships assembled at Nanjing along the Yangtze (Chang) River.

Included in the fleet were 339-foot (103-meter) long horse ships that carried nothing but horses, water ships that carried fresh water for the crew, troop transports, supply ships, and war ships for offensive and defensive needs.

The ships were filled with thousands of tons of Chinese goods to trade with others during the voyage. In the fall of 1405 the fleet was ready to embark with 27,800 men.”


Those reading about Cheng Ho’s many journeys – Malacca provided a more viable stepping stone in his trip to India apparently – will also know there are views that the vessels' sizes are somewhat exaggerated.

Alas, without any clear historical references, we will not know for sure the most accurate version.

A reading of Cheng Ho’s many, many benevolence to the once-great empire that is Malacca, I would push for the most realistically exaggerated version to be adopted.

Cheng Ho’s first visit to Malacca is during the (Malay?) Sultanate years of infancy, and this stop over - which probably helped Malacca thrive further as a trading port of call – was followed with a few other stops before his death in 1433.

Most of the historical text and accounts I read put Cheng Ho as one of the pioneers in spreading Islam in the region as well.

So unlike the more barbaric Westerners; who came, saw and conquered – the Portuguese in 1511, the Dutch in 1641 and the Brits in 1824.

Anyway, back to Malacca’s plan for the Treasure fleet replica.

A question should be asked: What will it represent, really?

Frol De La Mar arguably represented the end of the once-grand Malacca Sultanate; the dark chapter in its history and a pivotal juncture in the country’s own historical growth.

(It was somewhat poetic justice that the ship which played a role in the annexation of Malacca was shipwrecked in November 1512 together with its cache of treasure plunder from the state.)

Who knows how the country might have turned out if Malacca had managed to repulse the twelve hundred odd Portuguese marauders lead by one Alfonso de Albuquerque?

The mind boggles on all the possible permutations available if we were to explore all these “What ifs”.

So, what does Cheng Ho’s Treasure fleet flagship represent for Malacca?

What are we telling the world with this particular replica?

In fact, what are we telling our own people?

History is so damn interesting.

Siapakah yang benar? Jebatkah benar?

P Ramlee and Zaiton

Atapun akukah yang benar?

PS: Arguably the most famous of the Sultanate's "history". A quote (and scene with the ever demure Zaiton) from P Ramlee's Hang Tuah.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Nightmarish Visions

Nightmare

"Jaws" (1975)

I managed to squeeze read (somewhat measly) two books in the last few weeks and one of them was Peter Benchley’s Jaws.

For a novel written way back in 1974, the book I had in my hands was in near mint condition.

Somehow, somewhen, I must have bought a new one as I distinctly remember my front cover white shark having a whole lot of blood in its teethy jaws courtesy of my “gatal tangan” and some red inks.

I first read the novel way after watching its 1975 silver screen version by Steven Spielberg which gave me endless nightmarish nights.

The novel was good and so was the movie, but they were far remove from each other that direct comparison would be quite impossible and useless.

In one of the scenes that stand out (to me, at least) in the book, Amity police chief Martin Brody was confronted by the mother of the shark’s second victim and when asked why he did not announce the first attacked, he simply blurted out:

“We didn’t think it would happen again.”

There were, of course, a whole lot more reasons to it but since it will take at least three moons to tell it, I’ll spare you the agony and let you read the book instead.

Watch out too for the end chapters involving Quint the shark hunter.

If you are the type who are forever in a rush, the technique to read “Jaws” is to read the first few chapters (until around the time when Brody closes the beach and a boy became shark bait) and then skip to the final few where Quint, Brody and a shark specialist goes hunting.

(The middle bits are a bit to soap opera-ish, and at times, the shark is forgotten.)

Great stories have this ability to build itself up slowly to its climax and where “Jaws” is concerned, the end is really at the last page of the novel.

No “a large slivery streak catches Quint’s eyes as his life ebb away and his body falling deeper into the abyss with his prized catch; a stark realization hitting him that the nightmare is not over for Amity” kind of horror movie “possible sequel” shit endings.

Books and movies are oh–so satisfying as we know there will be an ending, and while we know roughly what it will be, we hope for a twist anyway.

If only life was something similar, eh?

Take the PKFZ saga, for example.

It Benchley’s Jaws has its mid-break point courtesy of the soap opera moments, then perhaps the current “nothing’s happening after all the high powered committees, the suits, the investigations” is but a prelude to a rip-roaring, all out hunt for those responsible right to its bitter ending.

Just hope there’s no Quint in this local saga, though.

(Just for the record, the movie has two survivors from the shark hunt while in the book, there’s only one.)

Alas, we might be seeing a more realistic playing out of a drama to its also realistic NFA ending.

I (and I think many others too) hope to be proven wrong here, but the signs are not promising.

With so many civil suits pending, task force and committees meeting and reporting, the matter could drag on and on into the annals of history.

As never ending soap opera goes, once the interest wanes it simply goes off the air and is quietly forgotten.

Will PKFZ be likewise?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Lordy Wannabe

Bailouts
Morning drives have become more pleasurable of late thanks to newcomer BFM radio station.

Anyone fed up as I am with the never ending Man from Mars Women from Venus slant of certain stations can tune to the business talk by the BFM trio.

No more gossips, no “he doesn’t understand me”, or “she talks and never listens”, just pure business.

Great music too. Sometimes.

The BFM trio was running through the headlines when Malaysia’s foray into F1 came up, and they began to chat about the cost of running a team.

Someone bandied RM1 billion as possible figure; and afterwards they joked on the “Malaysian made, Malaysian build” aspect, hoping that it don’t go the much talked of Proton’s power window way.

To many, RM1 billion (nine zeroes) is A LOT of money, but going by the current standard, it’s hefty but not that much.

Maybank recorded a RM1.97 billion in loss and no one bats an eyelash.

Tenaga’s RM944 million loss is not yet a billion.

PKFZ cost is bandied as going upwards from between RM4.6 billion to RM12.5 billion, and while there is much furore there, the pace of stopping this leakage is quite miserly.

Malacca is looking at a RM40 billion bridge to Sumatra to bring in the tourists.

(What were they thinking?)

Really, RM1 billion spread to a year is thus no big a deal.

Just recently a former MB was quoted as stating a RM3.5 million price tag for a property as “cheap”.

Yup. It’s cheap all right.

Going by the good politician’s standards, the Ipoh house we are trying to sell would be like super duper, downright criminally, dirt cheap.

Sigh…

My buyers have had to apply for personal loans to pay the deposit and one just sneaked ahead of the other by placing a token payment whilst waiting for his to be approved.

I wonder thus how many Malaysians fall into the “RM3.5 million is cheap” category.

A huge income disparity is, after all, never good for any country.

Then you would have something medieval a society in the have not (comprising the have only a bit, have just enough and have a bit more) and the really have.

When I use to stay overnight at a friend’s condo in Bangsar all those years ago, we have this habit of watching office goers scurrying to work from the balcony.

We’d imagined ourselves as Castle lords looking down on the ordinary folk trying to eke a living.

Only the truly rich can do this, we’d say often with a make-believe rich folk laughter.

How stereotypical, eh?

Is it far from the truth, though?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Wah Lau Snips

I wonder who wrote this gem of a lead paragraph in today’s NST online:

Makkal Sakthi (People Power), which was instrumental in turning the tide against Barisan Nasional in Perak in last year's elections, has suddenly come out in support of the BN state government.”

Whoever it was managed to capture my attention enough to continue scrolling down the “news” piece to see exactly the justification for such findings.

Turned out this "Makkal Sakthi" refers to two blokes and some odd 30 people who profess their support to the controversially installed BN Perak State government.

Ahh…

Unbelievable that NST’s news editors let this one go.

The headline ("Makkal Sakhti" speaks up for BN) and its subsequent lead suggests image of thousands turning out in public wearing tee-shirts with Dr Zambry’s mug and carrying banners shouting “Long live Barisan!”.

Or some shit likewise.

Not 30-odd people at the plush confines of the Menteri Besar office.

(Of course, unlike the Makkal Sakhti showcase of old this bunch would NOT have to face a brace of baton-carrying anti riot troopers and water cannons.)

Perhaps it was a really dry day* for Perak for this piece to have seen “online” print.

Or perhaps it was a tongue-in-cheek news to lightens up NST readers?

There are, after all, apostrophe signs in the headlined "Makkal Sakhti" and there is also these cute verbatim quotes:

"We were not paid to do so. We did it freely. The report on a blog which said we were paid between RM10 and RM50 and provided with T-shirts to show our support to BN is untrue.

"We are businessmen and we pay our workers RM70 a day."


Huh???

Makkal Sakhti was the battle cry for a community which felt itself long marginalized.

Yes it is true that there is (or more correctly, will be) a political entity going by the same name, but to equate the two as one is quite incredulous.

On hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered with the “news” after all.

Now, that would be Makkal Sakhti.

* Dry days: Days without any worthy printable story. No accident, no crime, no politicans trying to make some headlines, no NGO PCs. No jack-shit dry days provide real tests of patience for newsmen, especially those in the state with the Editor's Desk due to call sometime during lunch for a synopsis of non-existant news. A bummer of day.

V Masks

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Dweebos

Dogbert from Dilbert
The residents lodged a general report to say the parade of a cow's head was not meant to insult Hindus.

The report stated that the cow's head was meant to be a symbol of the "stupidity of the state government" and it was not intended as a religious insult, he said.


He here refers to Shah Alam district police chief Assistant Commissioner Noor Azam Jamaludin.

And that supposedly makes it all better?

They spat, stomp and kick at a poor animal’s head (carcass) and that’s it?

These AHs risk racial/religious flare-up and that’s it?

That’s (blipping) it?

Please don’t bring up arguments in the spirit of Ramadhan and forgiveness.

These AHs insulted this revered month by bringing disrepute to Islam by doing something that has only receive condemnations and brickbats (with some notable exceptions; of course from the usual suspects).

Just because it’s against the PR state government shouldn’t matter.

The AHs could have applied more brain power to their protest and not the stupid route that they end up taking.

(Mengata Dulang Paku Serpih. Mengata Orang Dia Yang Lebih.)

Some of the “What Ifs” scenarios that can be imagined from this episode is disturbing and others downright horrific.

We don’t want that.

So cut the crap, please.

Someone thought up the “cow-head” insult.

That someone should now have also the guts and balls to face the law.

It is not healthy for this country to continue going its two standards in “Us” and “Them”.

Pleaselah.

It’s not a route we wish for the next 52 years or more.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Dense Macabre (With apologies to Stephen King)

“I know the blogs have been quite confused about it. My response is that I am the CEO of Pemandu and report in the capacity as CEO to the minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon (Pemandu Chairman),” he clarified.

Jala added that as CEO of Pemandu, his first task was to find out what has been done by the organisation to date and would be working closely with Koh and the Pemandu board to chart out the way forward.


Is it only me, but did anyone else reading the above arrived (pun intended) with a smile?

That’s sure a whole lot of “pemandu”s.

Idris Jala seems stuck in his CEO mode to not realize that he is now a Minister instead.

There will be less of a chance for anyone driving anything anywhere when they become Ministers, especially one without any portfolio.

But never mind Mr Jala.

For such a serious news organization, the above paragraph came out very much tongue in cheek.

Not sure if it’s deliberate, though, but if it was, I hope the author had as much fun typing them out as I did reading them.

We sure need all the humorous distractions to dilute the bitter taste from the utterly moronic antics of those in the “cow-head” incident.

I mean, what gives Dudes?

Surely there are some even more creatively ironic ways you can push your cause than to stomp peoples’ toes (and much worse) isn’t there?

There was evidently a good measure of rabble-rousing hatred within the group for the poor dead animal’s head to end up a sick object of derision.

The question must thus be: hatred against who, or what?

The PR state government? The Hindu temple that is yet to be built? Khalid Samad? Khir Toyo?

Wonder who thought up the sick idea. Took some preparation for it to be a-spur-of-the-moment kinda thing.

Sadly, it could have easily be done in a cheeky way that would have made much “healthier” headlines.

As it is, Islam is again dragged into the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

Nicely done, Dumb Asses.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Gobsmackingly Audacious

Not a day goes without something interesting happening in Malaysia Truly Asia.

One of the latest would be news of a “Non-Muslim only" concert featuring Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas happening on Sept 25 in Sunway Lagoon.

With a stroke of the mighty authoritarian pen, there are now two classes of people in the country, adding further to segmentation vis a vis race and political affiliations.

Apparently, this was a decision due to the concert being sponsored by a brewery, AND since there is a severe slump in domestic tourism counter, some leeway (read: bending backwards) was apparently made.

Huh?

This is just so wrong.

For one, it in principle discriminated a whole group of people (never mind the theological justifications).

The concert is “expected to boost the tourism industry affected by the recession and the A(H1N1) flu outbreak”.(Quoted from The Malaysian Insider)

Give me a break, please.

Fergie and her gang have got a strong following in this region.

What if Muslim fans from our regional neighbors want in? To help do their domestic tourism boosting bit, that is.

What then? Do we say: Sorry, No Muslims Allowed.

See how sick that reads?

(MI says the go-ahead comes with restrictions against selling "the brew" or displaying the brewers logo and what not.

That makes it all so-very okay, doesn't it?)

The Arthur's Day concert is one of four to celebrate the brewery’s 250th anniversary.

As such, it could not have been an impromptu, out of the blue, decision but one that is long in the planning.

The reason for choosing Malaysia truly Asia is probably this: “…one of the top 10 (brewer brand) consuming countries in the world with the bitter available anywhere.” (ditto)

Ahh…

So you can calculate the amount of clout involved in this decision making.

And the date chosen for this concert? A few days after the Aidil Fitri celebrations.

I, too, enjoy Fergie’s songs but I can hear the smack right across the Peninsular.

This is just so sick.

One country. Multiple standards.

So very sick.

The Black eyed Peas

Friday, 21 August 2009

Copious Thoughts

I wanted to post something on the continuing PKFZ scandal and had actually completed the draft when this thought came to mind: “Nahh… What’s the use.”

There is this Kedahan (or maybe it is a national one I wouldn’t know) which fits exactly the overall situations Malaysians are faced with currently: “berjejeh”.

The word roughly means non-stop talking without anything being heeded.

That is also how I feel about things nowadays.

The powers that be are always talking about getting this feedback or that feedback, and then do exactly whatever it is that they wanted to do in the first place.

Case in point: the U-turn on the teaching of Maths and science in English.

There are others where words have come out loud and strong to no avail: PKFZ, a former Menteri Besar’s palatial home, the Perak state government, MACC, the Internal Security Act, et cetera.

Every now and then there will be some lip service paid on how the people’s interest yada yada would be looked after bla bla bla.

What happens?

A big fat nada.

Or something neither here nor there.

Whateverlah.

Meanwhile, in Libya, a wholly inappropriate (in my humblest of opinion) celebration took place during the welcoming home of the sole person convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing tragedy.

News reports told about hundreds of flag waving young Libyans greeting Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi as a “hero” when he was flown home on compassionate grounds after serving 8 of a scheduled 27 years in Sottish prison.

27 years for 270 lives lost in the incident when a bomb blew up Pan Am flight 103.

Abdel Basset - who continue to protest his innocence and offers his sympathies to the victims’ family members and relatives - is suffering from terminal prostate cancer and said to be three months away from death.

My sympathies are with him.

He has but three months left to his life.

There was no real need for any pomp and grand welcome for his homecoming.

All this would do is to tear open long healed wounds of those who had suffered the deaths of their loved ones in the incident.

How many of these people would now be wishing (nay, praying) the worse for Abdul Basset?

Whatever closure there was from Abdel Basset’s convictions all those years ago is torn wide open by this truly insensitive gesture on the part of the Libyans.

It will be Ramadhan soon and Syawal soon after, the two months when some muslims become their pious best.

We can take Abdel Basset’s words that he is innocent, or we could dismiss them.

What we should not have taken from him is the opportunity for solace these few months he's left with.

Unfortunately, some are now branding him villain yet again.

To whose benefit then the grand welcome?

Memorial

Monday, 17 August 2009

Pythagorean Understandings

My sincerest apologies to education Supremo MY.

His decision to go back to the mother tongues in teaching Maths and Science was probably the right one after all.

MY must have realized to continue would mean sending our children down the road of oblivion for both Maths and Science as well as that of mastering the English language.

MY must have read the many, many questions (and possibly notes to students) from teachers teaching the two subjects which prompted him to make a quick U-Turn of the six year old policy.

Questions like these:

Diagram 8 shows the Pravina’s twelfth birthday. Her brother borns 3 years 6 months after Pravina borned. What is the age of her brother at 7th January 2014.

Diagram 10 shows the mass of a packet of flour. The flour is fill in three containers. First container fill in with 3.98 kg of flour. The rest of the flour in second and third container. Which of the flowing mass is for second and third container
?”

How can you continue with the policy when all it does is wreck the language even more?

How can you continue when it seems that you would need to teach both teachers again for them to teach the students?

Who in heaven’s name would be teaching who then?

Citizen Nades’ reasoning was that the questions were framed in Bahasa Melayu then translated.

His words seem to echo statesman Dr M’s contentions in his blog posting: “Malays just cannot learn and speak English.

We should stop teaching English so that the language would not drag down the Malays in their exams. We should see better results,” he said.

A wee bit racist I would say to these, but their comments are with merits.

You just cannot answer questions you don’t understand.

(Then again, you don’t need to be THAT very well versed in English to answer the above questions and students who are good in Maths and so so in Bahasa Inggeris could answer the above quite easily.

Six years of Bahasa Inggeris should give you a rough gist, shouldn't it?(Though the second is somewhat frighteningly thick in its composition. What the hell are you really saying?)

Maths shouldn’t be about Bahasa Inggeris Grammar.

So what if the question translators get some of them mixed up?)

Let all the” budak-budak Melayu, Cina, India dan lain lain” learn things their own respective tongue.

After all we haven’t even gotten pass identifying ourselves as Malays, Chinese, Indian, Dan Lain Lain despite our 50 or so years living under one single flag.

And if these students want to improve on the Bahasa Inggeris, there are tuition classes in abundance.

(I so don’t get teachers who spend their off work hours teaching children without charging them. I mean: What gives? You can be making much moollah here.

Why can’t they be like those who allegedly teach the minimal in school so that they can charge for teaching the rest elsewhen.)

The parents of these students should be more nationalistic (nay, patriotic) and fork out good money that would help the country’s economy.

It is a cutthroat world out there and last I heard we are no Socialists.

So anyone looking to gain competitive edge in the marketplace by mastering Bahasa Inggeris had better be slogging hard for it.

If you can’t, tough.

If the rich folks can send their children overseas to do this, why can’t you sacrifice your whole month’s meal for your children’s education?

Don’t you be expecting your government to give it to you, hear.

They have bigger things to do.

Calvin understands