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.


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

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