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
Never argue with an idiot, otherwise people won't know which one of you is the idiot.
Since light travels faster than sound, some people appears bright - until you hear them speak.

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.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

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, January 18, 2017

Let's make some sense from advices being shared in social media on cancer treatment

There is a constant supply of so-called cancer cures being shared in Facebook, Whatsapp, and other social media, that any cancer survivor would either feel relieved or more likely, confused. On the one hand, we hear of very expensive treatments offered by private medical centres, which proved futile in some terminal cases, while on the other, some claim ordinary fruits like soursop or jackfruit can effectively kill cancer cells. If it is so simple there would not be needless deaths resulting from cancer, nor the need to spend hundreds of thousands on chemo drugs, radiotherapy and so on.

As a cancer survivor, I wish those simple and cheap treatment claims are true. But would anyone trust any of those completely and risk his or her life? There is no easy answer as there are success stories as well as failures. Put simply, each patient is different in terms of health and body fitness. What works for one may not work for others. There are so many different types of cancers affecting different parts of the body that there is no single cure for all. How I wish I can write my own success story, but which cancer patient dares to claim he or she is completely cured? We hear of remission over more than ten years and sudden relapse which can prove fatal.

It is comforting to note that Cancer or the Big C is no longer considered as a death sentence, unless discovered too late. In my own case (Stage 4), I survived for more than 8 months after a successful operation followed by chemotherapy, without which I would not last more than a few weeks. Oncologists offer comforting words like, 'We've come a long way since' and 'We've different bullets to kill those cells'.

I find the following article more sensible than those claims of simple and quick cures:

Why Treating Cancer is So Difficult, Part 1: Your Tumor is Not a Clone

There are many reasons, both scientific and clinical, that cancer is difficult to treat. I am going to dedicate a few posts to discussing this, so today is the first post in this series,
Part 1 // Your Tumor is Not a Clone.
"In cell biology, clones are identical cells that came from a single cell. In other words, one single cell started dividing. When the cell divides, it passes down its genetic information to the two new cells, so they are genetically identical. They are clones. If these two cells continue to divide, and divide, and divide, then you have a large number of clones that all came from that first parent cell.
Cancer is not clonalCancer is complex and heterogeneous (meaning that it’s not the same from one place in the tumor to another). There are also other types of cells other than cancer cells inside of a tumor: there are immune cells, there is extracellular matrix (the cellular “skeleton” to help anchor the tumor and give it shape), and many others inside what is called the tumor microenvironment. Other than the complex tumor microenvironment, there are often differences in the cancer cells in a single tumor."


Saturday, January 07, 2017

A good take on the McDonald's halal birthday cake controversy

Not sure if this was from Dr Wong Chin Huat or Chang Lih Kang (as his name below appears), in Chin Huat's post in Facebook...

"Normally not a big fan of burger, but I decided to patron My Burgerlab to make a point.

I am rightly reminded by my friend Sow Meng Keong that Myburgerlab is only a Muslim-friendly restaurant without the halal certificate, hence it is free to serve any cake. It is different from Nando's, KFC or Burger King which also are under the halal certificate and hence cannot exploit McDonald's PR disasters.

The point I want to make is about McDonald's claim of innocence. For some, its fault is only poor public relationship skill.

I beg to differ. While such demand is indeed part of Jakim's halal requirement, why aren't the likes of KFC and Burger King not put up such notice?

Besides "legality" (合法性), there is always the question of "legitimacy" (正当性). Would it be legitimate if McDonald's turns away a Muslim mother who brings in her home-baked cake? This is the question we must first ask.

I doubt McDonald's would ever do that. And if they won't, they would not be punished by Jakim either. Otherwise, Jakim would be slammed harshly by the Muslim community.

Now, do you think Jakim will make a fuss over McDonald's allowing non-Muslims bringing their own cake for birthday celebration? Do you think there in the first place would be nosy Muslim customers who walk to the next table and ask to check if the bakery is halal-certified? Clearly not, not even in Malaysia today.

There are grey areas that even Jakim would have to tolerate. Jakim tries to persuade Muslim small traders into their halal certificate by offering them a lower fee but most nasi lemak sellers in our neighbourhood dont give a damn.

Why? Common sense dictates that Muslims wont serve non-halal food.

Before the halal red tapes, our defense is common sense.

The question we must put to McDonald's is: why has it lost its common sense?

Whether if its loss of common sense is applied to all customers (Muslims included) or just to non-Muslim customers (which constitutes discrimination it denies), lessons need to be learned.

McDonald's over-enthusiasm -- which reminds me of Hannah Arrendt's notion of "banality" -- to please Jakim if not the religious gratification (so-called "duty") of whoever that issued the notice causes them to lose common sense.

And it is this loss of common sense, this unquestionable acceptance of rules and regulations, not just an expansionist bureaucracy of Jakim, that are causing the endless expansion of "halal" certificate.

However, the solution is not to turn this into a bashing of Muslims. Muslims wanting to live a halal life is as legitimate as practicing Buddhists and Hindus want to be vegetarian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being religious is compatible with common sense.

Defending common sense cannot be a non-Muslim backlash. If it is turned into a campaign of non-Muslim angst, it will only backfire. It is therefore more important to question McDonald's than to just call for a boycott.

Common sense in Malaysia can only be defended when enough Muslims and non-Muslims come together. Ultimately, Malaysia needs more Muslims who see halalness beyond the labels and who can see through the economics of monopoly behind a single certification body.

I wish I was bringing a Muslim friend at Myburgerlab last night but it happened to be my good friend who is a high priest of FSM Hong-Yee Seah.

Chang Lih Kang

So it's all in our mind!

Everything starts with a Thought

A man who has gone out of his town comes back and finds that his house is on fire.

It was one of the most beautiful houses in the town, and the man loved the house the most! Many were ready to give double price for the house, but he had never agreed for any price and now it is just burning before his eyes.

And thousands of people have gathered, but nothing can be done, the fire has spread so far that even if you try to put it out, nothing will be saved. So he becomes very sad.

His son comes running and whispers something in his ear:

"Don't be worried. I sold it yesterday and at a very good price ― three times.

The offer was so good I could not wait for you. Forgive me."

Father said, "thank God, it's not ours now!" Then the father is relaxed and became a silent watcher, just like 1000s of other watchers.

Please think about it!

Just a moment before he was not a watcher, he was attached.

It is the same house....the same fire.... everything is the same...but now he is not concerned.
In fact started enjoying it just as everybody else in the crowd.

Then the second son comes running, and he says to the father, "What are you doing? You are smiling ― and the house is on fire?" The father said, "Don't you know, your brother has sold it."

He said, "We have taken only advance amount, not settled fully. I doubt now that the man is going to purchase it now."

Again, everything changes!!

Tears which had disappeared, have come back to the father's eyes, his smile is no more there, his heart is beating fast. The 'watcher' is gone. He is again attached.

And then the third son comes, and he says, "That man is a man of his word. I have just come from him. He said, 'It doesn't matter whether the house is burnt or not, it is mine. And I am going to pay the price that I have settled for. Neither you knew, nor I knew that the house would catch on fire.'"

Again the joy is back and family became 'watchers'! The attachment is no more there.

Actually nothing has changed.

Just the feeling that "I am the owner! I am not the owner of the house!" makes the whole difference.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Share investment: Cool, calm and collected

The original expression and meaning, "Cool, calm and collected" was used as a joke in stockbroking firms. In the old days, before CDS, share certificates need to be collected after purchase. Initially, speculators bought for a quick gain within T+3 days. If a mistake in having bought and share price came down instead, buyer is said to remain cool and calm. But by the last day, he might decide to pay for the purchase instead of the loss plus incidental charges, and collect the share certificate.

I am reminded of this when I read the headline in The Sun posted on February 17, 2016:

Tabung Haji: Shares in FGV a long term investment

"Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) has defended its decision to maintain its shares in Felda Global Ventures Berhad (FGV) despite its falling price over the years, calling it a long term investment.
"TH would like to explain that our investment in FGV's shares is a strategic long-term investment in one of our core investment sectors," it said in a statement today.
Explaining that the falling share price was due to the drastic decline in the market price of crude oil, the pilgrimage fund assured its depositors that their savings are safe with the company.
"The fall in crude oil price has caused commodity-based companies (like FGV) to be directly affected, with a negative impact on plantation counters. The drop in price is beyond our control as it is determined by the power of the existing market.
"However, we assure all our depositors not to be worried as their savings in TH is not missing as claimed by certain quarters, their savings are guaranteed," it added.
National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW) director Rafizi Ramli, on Tuesday, revealed that TH has lost RM933 million through its shares in FGV despite being aware of its falling prices.
He explained that TH had invested RM1.38 billion when purchasing 7.78% of FGV's shares on June 28, 2012 at RM4.54 per share, and that its current value has dropped to RM1.60 per share.
Rafizi said despite netting a sale profit of RM7.6 million, the current share value held by the pilgrimage fund only stood at RM454 million, making its accumulated losses at over RM933 million."
FGV and Felda are again in the news because of their recent separate attempts to buy 37% of Eagle High Plantations in Indonesia, at a much higher price than recent market average. After FGV gave up, it was eagerly offered by Felda, such was the keen interest which inevitably resulted in suspicions, especially when the seller is reportedly close to PM Najib. 
That EPF has sold off its remaining shares in FGV, even if after its failed bid for EHP, shows the lack of confidence in FGV's turnaround and long term viability.

Will other public bodies join EPF in dumping FGV?

"The Employees Providence Fund (EPF) divestment of its entire stake in Felda Global Ventures (FGV) has raised questions over the viability investments by other public bodies.
Two major FGV shareholders are the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) and Lembaga Tabung Haji. These institutional investors mostly invested in FGV during the initial public offering stage."
Rest of article (for subscribers of Malaysiakini):

Basically, EPF had realised and cut its losses in FGV, while the other funds holding on, have book losses to date. Seems like the funds were told to support FGV in its IPO, and were left to carry the baby, putting on a brave front and describing it as long term investments. Cool, calm and collected indeed. To me, it is better described as enforced long-term investment!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wan Saiful Wan Jan: Do we need unity?


"To me the biggest hurdle to national unity is the structure of our political system. Our politics is dominated by ethnic-based political parties. Being ethnic-based, their survival is dependent on us, the voters, continuing to be divided along ethnic lines.
If voters are no longer thinking as different ethnic groups, then the ethnic-based parties will find it difficult to survive. If a Malay feels that it is ok to have a non-Malay Prime Minister, if a Chinese feels it is ok to have an ustaz as their representative, if a Hindu feels it is ok to have an atheist as their spokesperson, then it would be meaningless to remain as a Malay, Chinese or Indian party.
The same applies to the Melanaus, Bidayuhs, Dayaks, Kadazans, Seranis and so on too. Ethnic-based parties need society to remain divided along ethnic lines because otherwise they will not be able to survive.
This is why when any ethnic-based party feels weakened, they will work hard to cleave society. This is divide and rule 101. The more successful you are at dividing society, the more likely you are to rule over them.
But even though the hurdle preventing national unity is not too difficult to identify, there are two bigger questions that should be, but are rarely, asked. The questions are do we really need unity and what is unity for?
Most frequently when people in Malaysia talk about unity we talk about the different ethnic groups mixing with each other. The underlying assumption is that mixing is necessary to foster a “good” society.
I never quite understand this. Why do we really need to mix? Why can’t we just live our lives the way we want, mixing with only those whom we want, and meeting only those whom we want?"

"If all we want is peace, then isn’t it a possibility that unity is irrelevant? If peace can be achieved by people living parallel lives, remaining in groups they are comfortable with, peacefully within the group and peacefully in relation to others, should we still divide them in the quest for the illusive unity?"