How should we judge a government?
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This time it was Esch-sur-Sûre, a tiny village along River Sûre with a castle ruin atop the hill. The Haute Sûre national park was next door and resplendent with autumn colours and dark green pine trees.
Getting there was problematic with irregular buses (which ran from 2 to 4 hours apart from one another) from the nearest train stations. Worst still, there was a lot of confusion and ignorance on the bus schedule from the people who should know, e.g. bus drivers themselves.
Anyway, the six of us were in an adventurous mood by the time we got to Esch. After seeking some useful directions from the tourist information office, we set off for a 7km walk along the river and reservoir to a village named Insenborn. Exhausted, but satisfied with our hike, we had some drinks in a local pub, leisurely expecting to catch the last bus at 6.50pm to the train station. It did not come, after all.
Apparently, they have discontinued the service and none of us had enough French proficiency to read the notice on the bus stop. Without much options (the train station was 25 km away), we kindly asked the pub owner to call a taxi for us. Each 15 Euros poorer and one hour later than scheduled, we finally arrived at Differdange at 10pm.
Claudiu from Romania aptly described tonight's lesson as, "Luxembourg, so small yet so difficult".
Report from Cheng
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I was reading Malaysiakini’s letters dated Oct 26, which included one titled, ‘Income tax department too much’ by MSY. At the bottom were some letters relating to income tax matters. I thought one looked familiar, ‘Income tax laws archaic’, clicked, and was pleasantly surprised that it was my letter dated Oct 7, 2003!
It not only brought back memories of my one and only visit to Parliament House, a guided tour by YB Fong Po Kuan, but reminded me of a subject, ‘Hark Sing’ which I meant to post.
‘Hark Sing’ in Cantonese literally means ‘black star’ and I was wondering if my visit then meant I was one to some people. It refers to someone who brings bad luck to people he meets or something to that effect. The power that I wield!
The tour involved sitting by myself in the public gallery, away from a group of students and some other individuals, while YB Fong was taking part in the parliamentary session.
During lunch break, I joined her at the canteen where I met YB Theresa Kok. Then I was introduced to YB Wong Kam Hoong who was having lunch with YB Sothinathan, to discuss another matter which I complained about: the compulsory course for company directors, which was under Wong’s ministry then. He assured me that they would not take action against those who did not attend.
Before the afternoon session started, Po Kuan took me to the library. On the way, we saw YB Thong Fah Chong, at one of the sitting area along the corridor. He was then MP for Ipoh Timur (YB Lim Kit Siang is the present MP). She introduced to me, not directly but within hearing distance, that he is the MP for Ipoh Timur. He was obviously not particularly keen to know me as he actually turned and walked back towards the sofa!
In the library, while I was reading a book, in walked a lady whom I recognized as YB Tan Yee Kew. She sat a table away, facing me.
I could not remember at which point in time she took me to the Opposition’s Operations Centre and generally introduced me as a visitor from Batu Gajah. Call me sensitive if you like, as I was sitting on a sofa, facing the entrance to the Opposition Leader’s room, I sensed the door facing me being closed, obviously I was not supposed to be privy to some discussions which the then Opposition leader, YB Hadi Awang was seen in the room with a few others.
Honestly, I could not remember the sequence of events but out of the few people I met or had close encounter with on that day, both Thong Fah Chong and Hadi Awang lost in the general elections, MIC’s Sothinathan was suspended for openly criticizing a government policy, and MCA’s Tan Yee Kew was also suspended over showing a tape on sensitive party matters!
This is just one of my reflections over the coincidences. I got to know Po Kuan, AFTER she was suspended for six months, when I wrote a letter to express my appreciation for the principled stand she took and to offer encouragement and moral support.
However, I would like to think my letter to Malaysiakini in 2003 was one of the inputs, after Po Kuan’s raising of the matter, which resulted in the separate tax returns for husband and wife that we get since 2004! No booing please. I need some encouragement too!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
A couple of days ago, a friend sent me some pictures titled ‘body-art’.
At the Sunday market, I found a vcd on Woodstock 1999. Some of the topless women were painted in a similar fashion. What a coincidence.
I found clips of some of the women and men who were topless and bottomless amusing and the whites were used to them. But I still could not get over the last performance in the vcd showing a blonde male guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers, stark naked with only his guitar over his private part. When they finished the song, it was shown clearly that he was in fact naked! Fast forward to now, I wonder what else to shock the audience.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
John went to visit his 90 year old grandfather in a very secluded, rural area of Georgia. After spending a great evening chatting the night away, John's grandfather prepared breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. However, John noticed a filmlike substance on his plate, and questioned his grandfather asking, "Are these plates clean?"
His grandfather replied, "They're as clean as cold water can get em. Just you go ahead and finish your meal, Sonny!"
For lunch the old man made hamburgers. Again, John was concerned about the plates as his appeared to have tiny specks around the edge that looked like dried egg and asked, "Are you sure these plates are clean?"
Without looking up the old man said, "I told you before, Sonny, those dishes are as clean as cold water can get em. Now don't you fret, I don't want to hear 'nother word about it!"
Later that afternoon, John was on his way to a nearby town and as he was leaving, his grandfather's dog started to growl, and wouldn't let him pass. John yelled, "Grandfather, your dog won't let me get to my car".
Without diverting his attention from the football game he was watching on TV, the old man shouted, "COLDWATER, GO LAY DOWN!!!!"
Monday, October 16, 2006
The trembling monkey says, "You are, mighty lion! Later, the lion confronts a ox and fiercely bellows,"Who is the mightiest of all jungle animals?"
The terrified ox stammers, "Oh great lion, you are the mightiest animal in the jungle!"
On a roll now, the lion swaggers up to an elephant and roars,"Who is mightiest of all jungle animals?"
Fast as lightning, the elephant snatches up the lion with his trunk, slams him against a tree half a dozen times leaving the lion feeling like it'd been run over by a safari wagon. The elephant then stomps on the lion till it looks like a corn tortilla and ambles away.
The lion lets out a moan of pain, lifts his head weakly and hollers after the elephant -"Just because you don't know the answer, you don't have to get so upset about it!"
Friday, October 13, 2006
She walked across the road to Maybank. A Chinese man came out after using ATM, ignored her request to use his handphone. A Malay couple came out also ignored her. She went into the building and asked the security guard who pointed her to a public phone nearby. She gave him Rm1 and got 60 sen in coins to make a call to her husband.
In retrospect, she thought it must be because of the way she was dressed for morning walk which included a hat and sleeves to cover her hands. But still, it showed how much our society lacks in offering help, especially to a lady in distress. But then again, could it be because those three just came out from using ATM and are generally suspicious of anyone nearby?
Monday, October 09, 2006
The LHDN clerk who answered the call asked for the address to send the form to.
The conversation goes:
LHDN Clerk: "Boleh bagi alamat encik?" (Can you give me your address?)
Taxpayer: "Hantar ke Ranhill Worley." (Send to Ranhill Worley)
LHDN Clerk: "Ranhill... eja macam mana?" (err... How to spell Ranhill?)
Taxpayer: "R.. for Rumah... A for Ayam.. N for Nangka... H for Holland... I for itik... L for lain-lain...." (spelling)
LHDN Clerk: "Ok.. nanti kami hantar ke alamat tu" (OK, we will send to that address...)
After waiting for a week, the form arrived - and the address on the envelope shows:-
EN. ADLI BIN ISMAIL
RANHILL - Rumah Ayam N.Holland Itek Lain Worley Sdn. Bhd.
10A, Tkt 1, Bangunan Permint
Bandar Baru Seri Kerteh
24300 KERTEH, TRG.
Friday, October 06, 2006
'I know,' he says, 'they say 'you can't take it with you.' But who knows? Suppose they're mistaken. I'd like to have something with me, just in case. So I am giving each of you an envelope containing one hundred thousand dollars and I would be grateful if at my funeral you would put the envelopes in my coffin, so that if it turns out that it's useful, I'll have something.'
They each agree to carry out his wish.
Sure enough, after just a few weeks, the old man passes away. At his funeral, each of the three advisors is seen slipping something into the coffin.
After the burial, as the three are walking away together, the doctor turns to the other two and says, 'Friends, I have a confession to make. As you know, at the hospital we are desperate because of the cutbacks in funding. Our CAT SCAN machine broke down and we haven't been able to get a new one. So, I took $20, 000 of our friend's money for a new CAT SCAN and put the rest in the coffin as he asked.'
At this the priest says, 'I, too have a confession to make. As you know, our church is simply overwhelmed by the problem of the homeless. The needs keep increasing and we have nowhere to turn. So I took $50, 000 from the envelope for our homeless fund and put the rest in the coffin as our friend requested.'
Fixing the other two in his gaze, the lawyer says 'I am astonished and deeply disappointed that you would treat so casually our solemn undertaking to our friend. I want you to know that I placed in his coffin my personal cheque for the full one hundred thousand dollars.'
Last week, we took some friends out to a new restaurant, and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange. When the busboy brought our water and utensils, I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets.
When the waiter came back to serve our soup I asked, "Why the spoon?"
"Well, "he explained, "the restaurant's owners hired Add-a-sen Consulting to revamp all our processes. After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour. If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift."
As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he was able to replace it with his spare. "I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now."
I was impressed. I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's fly. Looking around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. So before he walked off, I asked the waiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?"
"Oh, certainly!" Then he lowered his voice. "Not everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I mentioned also found out that we could save time in the restroom. By tying this string to the tip of you know what, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent.
I asked, "After you get it out, how do you put it back?"
"Well," he whispered, "I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon."
Thursday, October 05, 2006
When the conversation centered on whether they had any children the California woman started by saying, "When my first child was born, my husband built a beautiful mansion for me."
The lady from the South commented, "Well, isn't that precious?"
The first woman continued, "When my second child was born, my husband bought me a beautiful Mercedes-Benz."
Again, the lady from the South commented, "Well, isn't that precious?"
The first woman continued boasting, "Then, when my third child was born, my husband bought me this exquisite diamond bracelet."
And again, the Southern lady commented, "Well, isn't that precious?"
The first woman then asked the Southern lady, "What did your husband buy for you when you had your first child?"
"My husband sent me to charm school," declared the Southern lady.
"Oh my God! What on earth for?", asked the first woman.
The Southern lady responded, "Well for example, instead of saying "Who gives a sh*t?" I learned to say, "Well, isn't that precious?"
Monday, October 02, 2006
Man in office going through fast food he bought:-
“Heart attack with extra cheese, heart attack with bacon, double bypass no pickles, ---hey! Where’s my diabetes and large stroke?”
I can imagine Kosongcafe will live up to its name if I design the menu as such!
“Could you pass the blood pressure booster please?”