How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

First attempt at posting via handphone

Recognise her?

This is the picture of Chan See Foon on the cover of Asia Magazine dated September 10, 1967.

My wife could not resist buying it. See Foon-Koppen writes on foods for Ipoh Echo.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

If you don't repay your PTPTN loan: harsh measures but actually very soft to some

Have you been taking your PTPTN loan repayments too lightly? PTPTN Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mastura Mohd Khalid tells us what can happen if you don’t make prompt repayments and how to get help if you are having difficulties making them.
PTPTN requires about RM5 billion each year to provide educational funding to Malaysians. Yet as of Feb 29, 2016, PTPTN is due to collect RM15.8 billion. It has only received RM7.9 billion. This means there is still RM7.9 billion in arrears. “There are about 600,000 PTPTN borrowers who have yet to make their repayments,” says Mastura.
You have probably already read about steps taken by PTPTN, which could possibly lead to legal action taken against defaulters.
Your credit record will be affected
If you don’t make repayments for your PTPTN loan, you will be listed on CCRIS and this will reflect badly on your credit history. It will affect your ability to get loans from financing institutions. So until you make prompt repayments, you will have problems purchasing a car, house, or getting a credit card.
All defaulters have been listed on CCRIS beginning June 16, 2015. Mastura says there are 1.25 million borrowers listed on CCRIS.  Following the listing, PTPTN has seen an increase of borrowers approaching it because they are unable to apply for other loans. She says: “CCRIS listing is a step we are taking to educate borrowers that PTPTN loan needs to be repaid. We want them to give priority to repaying their PTPTN loan.”
You are barred from leaving the country
Get your PTPTN repayments in order or rethink your overseas travel plans. PTPTN loan defaulters are barred from leaving the country. PTPTN will inform the Immigration Department and you will then be blacklisted in its database.
You also cannot renew your passport or apply for a passport.
“Some people call us when they realise they cannot leave the country at the airport’s immigration counter. When we ask them to make some form of repayment, it then turns out many of them can afford to make a repayment on the spot,” Mastura says.
PTPTN borrowers are advised to check for any overdue amount and settle it or discuss with PTPTN at least seven days before their trip. To check if you are barred from leaving the country click here.
Legal action will be taken against you
Defaulters will first be issued with notices before legal action is taken. Mastura says PTPTN issues three notices and then a notice of demand before it proceeds to blacklist a PTPTN loan defaulter with immigration. If a loan defaulter does not approach PTPTN after receiving the notices and after being blacklisted, they will then be taken to court. A total of 115,279 PTPTN borrowers have received court summons with a total loan amount worth RM9.8 billion as of Feb 29.
How do I get help with my PTPTN loan repayments?
If your PTPTN loan is still under the conventional scheme, convert it to the Ujrah scheme. All loans which have been approved from December 2008 fall under the Ujrah scheme. But all loan applications which were approved prior to that date will still be under the conventional scheme. The conventional scheme has an interest rate of 3% reducing balance while the Ujrah scheme has fixed interest at 1%.
“If you are a good paymaster, you will save up to 49% on your loan repayments by converting from conventional to the Ujrah scheme”, says Mastura.
Salary deductions are not compulsory under the Ujrah scheme, but this option is encouraged by PTPTN.
Talk to PTPTN
“We are open for negotiation. If your financial commitments are too tight, you can restructure or reschedule your loan, we even accept repayments from as low as RM50 per month,” says Mastura. 
PTPTN will also allow you to prolong your repayment tenure. Students, who have not been able to secure a job six months upon graduation, can then apply for an extension. PTPTN will cross check with KWSP and if you are really unemployed they will grant you an extension period of two years.
However, if you begin making loan repayments within six months after graduation, you will get to enjoy the interest-free period. The balance of your loan will then be charged 1% Ujrah instead of the total amount of your loan. So take advantage of the six months grace period to reduce the amount of your loan repayment which will later be charged 1% interest.
Mastura’s advice to PTPTN borrowers is to repay their loan as this will be for the benefit of the future generation. PTPTN has about 200,000 new borrowers every year and it needs the revolving fund for future generation’s education. “It could be your siblings or your children who will need the money,” Mastura adds.
This article first appeared on this website. It was edited for brevity.

Friday, June 03, 2016

B+ and Be Positive: My unexpected and unintended 6D 5N stay at Batu Gajah GH

The following was written before my operation, unedited to show my state of mind at the time...

At the Outpatient, the staff nurse asked about my problem and about my Hb level which I did not remember. She advised me to remember it so that the doctor knows about it. Goes to show how unprepared I was mentally at the time. She asked if I can speak Malay to the doctor which was the first indication of a language problem to some.

When I told the Malay lady doctor that I had abdominal pain on the right side, she referred me to Emergency in case it was appendicitis. The distance was only a hundred metres or so, I chose to walk instead of being sent by ambulance! So much for an emergency case.

At the emergency, among other things I had blood pressure taken and ECG done. Not being an ex-government servant, I was asked to pay Rm200 deposit before admission into Ward 2 (Second Class).

I had my blood tested over a year ago but I could not remember my blood type which posed a problem when asked later. My mistake was not bringing my Gribbles card which shows my blood type (B+). But then again, it would be inconceivable to expect the doctor to rely on that information instead of their own blood tests. The only advantage I can think of is when ordering blood for transfusion and as a double-check that I am given the right blood type when their own tests are known.

In the ward, all the doctors speak good English. Many of my friends, who are retired government servants, preferred to seek private medical treatment (despite its known high charges) because they can well afford it and believe timely treatment is more important. In some cases, where the treatment is unavailable at government hospitals, private hospital charges can be claimed from the government. But for less urgent cases, I do not think why GH should not be considered. The pace is general slower and some people might actually like it! Like BG GH, the Second Class ward used to be the only First Class ward in Perak, where royalty were treated. The ambience, to quote my KL relatives, is almost like a Balinese resort! A retired civil servant admitted that sometimes, he extended his stay because he quite liked the food provided!

In terms of charges, the total bill came to Rm1225, and after government subsidy of Rm920, I had to pay only Rm305. The cashier seems sympathetic when telling me the charges, asking why so many tests? I think if the treatment was in a private hospital it could have been around Rm1,000 a day.

Though there is a general perception that we cannot get the right treatment early, I was lucky to have Dr M Ihsan who arranged for a visiting surgeon to take a look at my condition, and scope was arranged the very next day! Before that, I was told I can have an ultra sound test only in 2 to 3 months' time at the Ipoh GH, which reinforced the general perception. Now, a CT scan appointment at Ipoh GH had been fixed, within 3 weeks!

Besides my immediate complaint of pain in the abdomen, the doctors are trying to find out the cause of my drastic weight loss and low Hb.

The pain had caused me sleepless nights because any change in sleeping position was painful. After 10 days or so, I am glad it is gone. Hopefully, whatever caused it would not be shown as a problem when CT scanned.

On a lighter note, when told my wife used to be a dietitian, Dr Ihsan said BG GH does not have one at the moment. Why not join us and teach some of our staff? With today's IT, almost anything could be Google-ed and everybody seems to know everything about medical treatment and medicine, much to the annoyance of doctors because invariably, it turns out a little knowledge can be dangerous. Similarly, when it comes to diets, it is even worse! More people know generally what can or cannot be eaten for certain medical conditions. But a dietitian's role includes working out in detail, the calories and nutrient composition of different foods before recommending specific diets for different patients. Just imagine the danger of simply rotating different menus for a week. To show how a hospital kitchen without a dietitian can make mistakes, I asked for hot milk instead of tea or coffee. After being given hot milk twice, the third and subsequent time, I was given hot sweetened condensed milk instead! Just imagine if I happened to be diabetic! I can bet that just like coffee shops, what is supposed to be condensed milk is likely to be condensed creamer.

In the men's toilets, the most obvious maintenance neglect must be the washing liquid containers: one missing and the other's lid cannot be closed properly – held by some tissue paper! I was classified as '2-star' in terms likelihood in falling and my first visit to the toilet was by wheelchair, pushed by an attendant. But I managed to do without that. Occasionally, with drip on or undergoing blood transfusion, I was allowed to use the Women's toilet. I noticed a better designed and working liquid container. Besides, in the men's toilets, every plastic seat cover had been well scratched by shoes of people squatting on them. Wonder who is in charge of general maintenance.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

A surreal coincidence in the operating theatre

As I was wheeled into the operating theatre, a member of the OT team recognised my nose (last seen, probably some 15 years ago), despite my dramatic loss in weight (from 80+ to 58 kg). She checked my name, and took off her mask and asked, 'Are you Cheng Boon's father?' 'Yes.' I replied. 'Is she coming back?' 'No' without finishing with, 'but she will be post operation'.

That brief conversation set into motion a vital link which proved to be so useful because of my unexpected prolonged surgery (from 2 hours to 6 hours) because of need to resussitate me and blood transfusion. Whenever possible she informed my daugher Cheng in Geneva, who informed her brother in PJ, who then informed my wife, anxiously waiting for news. Just imagine her anxiety, if not for this almost real time information, and she were kept in the dark throughout the 6 hours! I do not think, if pre-planned, it could have worked out so well.  

First hurdle cleared, next battle is chemotherapy, which I have 2 to 3 weeks to build my body up to it.

I will be avoiding the computer and handphone as much as possible. So this blog, which had not been updated recently, will continue to be slack in the next few months.

I wish to thank my followers and visitors for their past support and hope they will bear with me during this period.


Friday, April 22, 2016

PAC Report: E&O Excepted?

Might as well include it at the end of the report. Otherwise, how could the Chairman of PAC takes it so lightly, his omission of crucial sentences which might enlighten and strengthen the report?

I am referring to the Malaysiakini report:

Editing of sentences doesn’t affect PAC report, says Hasan


and selected readers' comments on

PAC report’s deletion not a mistake but deliberate attempt

'MinahBulat: Public Accounts Committee (PAC) deputy chairperson Tan Seng Giaw, I take objection to your word "mistake" in referring to chairperson Hasan Arifin’s deletion of the two crucial sentences from the PAC report.

A mistake is something that is wrong but was not deliberately done. The PAC, as I understand, had agreed to the working draft. So on what authority did Hasan unilaterally amend the working draft?

How can that be a mistake when he had no authority to do so? The PAC report has to be signed off by the PAC members and the removal of the sentences was detected later.

Tan, this was no mistake but a deliberate attempt to defraud the other PAC members and ultimately the public. Hasan must be referred to a parliamentary select committee for his dastardly act.'


Wikipedia: 'Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE) is a phrase used in an attempt to reduce legal liability for potentially incorrect or incomplete information supplied in a contractually related document such as a quotation or specification.'