How should we judge a government?

"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

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

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan
Was he referring to Malaysia? Seems so apt...

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist?

MyCen News

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How to unhook a K9 smoker?

Our 'Tak Nak' campaign costed some Rm50million without much success.

Imagine a K9 smoker, how would you get it to kick the habit? Fortunately, this dog must be the exception.

video

The Great Marital Divide

which divides man and woman until the day when it is possible to switch roles:

A man was sick and tired of going to work every day while his wife stayed home.

He wanted her to see what he went through so he prayed:
'Dear Lord: I go to work every day and put in 8 hours while my wife merely stays at home.


I want her to know what I go through.


So, please allow her body to switch with mine for a day Amen!'


God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish.


The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman


He arose, cooked breakfast for his mate,
Awakened the kids,
Set out their school clothes,
Fed them breakfast,
Packed their lunches,
Drove them to school,
Came home and picked up the dry cleaning,
Took it to the cleaners
And stopped at the bank to make a deposit,
Went grocery shopping,
Then drove home to put away the groceries,
Paid the bills and balanced the check book.
He cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog.
Then, it was already 1P.M.


And he hurried to make the beds,
Do the laundry, vacuum, Dust
, And sweep and mop the kitchen floor.
Ran to the school to pick up the kids and got into an argument with them on the way home.
Set out milk and cookies and got the kids organized to do their homework.
Then, set up the ironing board and watched TV while he did the ironing.
At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing vegetables for salad, breaded the pork chops and
snapped fresh beans for supper.

After supper,
He cleaned the kitchen,
Ran the dishwasher,
Folded laundry,
Bathed the kids,
And put them to bed.


At 9 P.M ..


He was exhausted and, though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed where he was expected to make love, which he managed to get through without complaint.


The next morning, he awoke and immediately knelt by the bed and said: -

'Lord, I don't know what I was thinking.
I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day.
Please, oh! Oh! Please, let us trade back.
Amen!'


The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, replied:

'My son, I feel you have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were.
You'll just have to wait nine months, though. You got pregnant last night.'


This has been voted Women's Favorite E-mail of the Year!

Monday, June 29, 2009

George Yeo: The Great Repricing

SPEEECH BY S'PORE'S MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS GEORGE YEO

- 27 Mar 09 Speech for Cambridge University 's 800th anniversary
- The
Great Repricing


A very thought-provoking speech by Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo.
It's seldom that we hear such a profound speech analyzing the current economic crisis and insight into the future.

Reading this speech and that of Tony Blair (British view) and T.
Friedman (American view), they all share the same vision about China and India 's future potential.

Minister Yeo has been tipped by Newsweek magazine to be the future Prime
Minister of Singapore .



Cambridge Lecture "The Great Repricing" SPEECH BY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS GEORGE YEO AT THE DISTINGUISHED LECTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE ON 27 MARCH 2009 IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE 'S 800TH ANNIVERSARY

THE GREAT REPRICING


What The Current Crisis Represents

Madam Pro-Vice Chancellor, Kate Pretty, my old tutor, Professor Navaratnam, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, it may seem inauspicious that Cambridge should be celebrating its 800th Anniversary at a time when the world is heading into a deep recession the likes of which
have not been seen for a long time. From the perspective of Cambridge 's long history, however, this sharp economic downturn is but another discontinuity in the affairs of man of which the University has seen many and participated in not a few.

Whether this crisis marks a major break in world history we don't know yet.
Turning points are only seen for what they are in hindsight.

What is becoming clearer is the severity of the crisis. No one is sure where the bottom is or how long this crisis will last. In
the meantime, tens of thousands of companies will go bankrupt and tens of millions of people will lose their jobs - at least. What started as a financial crisis has become a full-blown economic crisis. For many countries, worsening economic conditions will lead to political crisis. In some, governments acting hastily in response to short-term political pressure will do further harm to the economy.

In an editorial last December, the Financial Times commented that the US Federal Reserve was flying blind. But, in fact, all governments are flying with poor vision. Markets are volatile precisely because no one knows for sure which policy responses will work.

I remember an old family doctor once explaining how every disease must run its course. In treating an illness, he said, one works with its progression. Attempting to short-cut the process may worsen the underlying condition. While emergency action may be needed and symptoms can be ameliorated, the body must be healed from within after which its immunological
status changes.

The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter understood the importance of creative destruction. The end of an economic cycle does not return the economy to where it was at the beginning. During the downturn, firms go bankrupt, people lose jobs, institutions are revamped, governments may be changed. And in the process, resources are reallocated and the old gives way to the new.

Charles Darwin, whose 200th birth anniversary we mark this year, understood all that. Life is a struggle with old forms giving way to new forms. And human society is part of this struggle.

The question we ask ourselves is, what is the new reality that is struggling to emerge from the old? History is not pre-determined. There is, at any point in time, a number of possible futures, each, as it were, a state of partial equilibrium. And every crisis is a discontinuity from one partial equilibrium state to another within what scenario analysts call a cone of possibilities.

Well, whatever trajectory history takes within that
cone of possibilities in the coming years, there will be a great repricing of assets, of factors of production, of countries, of ideas.

Economic Repricing


Let me first talk about economic repricing. Many bubbles have burst in the current crisis starting with sub-prime properties in the US. All over the world, asset prices are plummeting. In the last one year, tens of trillions of dollars have been wiped out. How much further this painful process will continue, no one can be sure. Many months ago, Alan Greenspan, in his usual measured way, peering into the hole said he saw a bottom forming in the fall of asset prices; it turned out to be the darkness of an abyss very few knew existed. That bottom is only reached when assets are sufficiently repriced downwards. Public policies can help or hinder this process. Unfortunately, many stimulus packages being proposed will make the adjustment more difficult. For example, bailing out inefficient automobile companies may end up prolonging the pain of restructuring at tremendous public expense.

The repricing of human beings will be even more traumatic. With globalisation, we have in effect one marketplace for human labour in the world. Directly or indirectly, the wages and salaries of Americans, Europeans and Japanese
are being held down by billions of Asians and Africans prepared to work for much less. China and India alone are graduating more scientists and engineers every year than all the developed countries combined. Now, while it is true that trade is a positive sum game, the benefits of trade are never equally distributed. We can therefore expect protectionist pressures to grow in many countries.

Governments will try to protect jobs often at long-term cost to their economies. It is wrong to think that we can force our way out of a recession. Beyond a point, the stress will be taken on exchange rates. If governments try to prevent the repricing of assets and human beings, international markets will force the adjustment on us. A country that is over-leveraged living
beyond its means will itself be repriced through its currency. Its currency will be devalued, forcing lower living standards on all its citizens.

The world is in profound imbalance today. All the G7 countries are in recession. The West is consuming too
much and saving too little while the East is saving too much and consuming too little. China , India and others need to consume much more of what they produce but they are unable to take up the present slack in global demand because their GDPs are still too small. In 10-20 years, they may be able to but certainly not in the next few years. In the meantime, the global economy may suffer a prolonged recession, a global Keynesian paradox of thrift.

Political Repricing


When this crisis is finally over, which may take some years, out of it will emerge a multi-polar world with clearer contours. Although the US will remain the pre-eminent pole for a long time to come, it will no longer be the hyperpower and power will have to be shared. The Western-dominated developed world will have to share significant power with China, India, Russia, Brazil and other countries. Thus, accompanying the economic repricing will be political repricing.

Following the spectacular opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing , Tony Blair wrote in the Wall Street Journal of August 26 last year: "This is a historic moment of change. Fast forward 10 years and everyone will know it. For centuries, the power has resided in the West, with various European powers including the British Empire and then, in the 20th century, the US. Now we will have to come to terms with a world in which the power is shared with the Far East . I wonder if we quite understand what that means, we whose culture (not just our politics and economies) has dominated for so long. It will be a rather strange, possibly unnerving experience."

Those words were said by Tony Blair in August last year before the financial meltdown. How much more they ring true today. Sharing power is however easier said than done. But without a major
restructuring of international institutions, including the Bretton Woods institutions, many problems in global governance cannot be properly managed. The meeting of G20 leaders started by President George Bush in November last year is a necessary new beginning. But it is a process. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is hoping that the next meeting on 2 April in London will sketch out the main elements of a global bargain. To be sure, the reform of global institutions is a process that will take years to achieve. During the transition, many things can go wrong. In his analysis of the Great Depression in the last century, the economic historian Charles Kindleberger identified a major cause in the absence of global leadership during a critical period when power was shifting across the Atlantic . Great Britain could not exercise leadership while the US would not. In between, the global economy fell.

In the coming decades, the key relationship in the world will be that between the US and China. Putting it starkly, the
US is China 's most important export market while China is the most important buyer of US Treasuries. The core challenge is the peaceful incorporation of China into the global system of governance, which in turn will change the global system itself. This was probably what led Secretary Hillary Clinton to make her first overseas visit to East Asia .

Three Points About China


The transformation of China is the most important development in the world today. Much has been written about it, the re-emergence of China. But I would like to touch on three points.

China 's Sense of Itself

The first point is China 's sense of itself which was written about by Joseph Needham many years ago. Over the centuries, it has been the historical duty of every Chinese dynasty
to write the history of the previous one. Twenty-four have been written, the first a hundred years before Christ by Sima Qian in the famous book, Shi Ji. And since then the later Han wrote about the Han and then the Xin, the Three Kingdoms and so on. So twenty-four in all. The last dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, lasted from 1644 to the Republican revolution of 1911. Its official history is only now being written after almost a century. When I visited the Catholic Society of Foreign Missions of Paris in January this year, I was told by a Mandarin-speaking French priest who served many years in China and in Singapore that out of the 90 volumes envisaged for the official history of the Qing Dynasty, 5 volumes would be on the Christian missions in China. When I was there at the Society, I met a Chinese scholar researching into the history of missionary activities in Sichuan province. No other country or civilisation has this sense of its own continuity. For the official history of the People's Republic, I suppose we would have to wait a couple of hundred years. It was Needham 's profound insight into China 's sense of itself that led to his remarkable study of Science and Civilization in China. Ironically, China 's sense of itself was mostly about its social and moral achievements within the classical realm. It was Needham who informed the Chinese of their own amazing scientific and technological contributions to the world.

However, China 's sense of itself is both a strength and a weakness. It is a strength because
it gives Chinese civilization its self-confidence and its tenacity. Chinese leaders often say that while China should learn from the rest of the world, China would have to find its own way to the future.. But it is also a conceit, and this conceit makes it difficult for Chinese ideas and institutions to become global in a diverse world.. To be sure, the Chinese have no wish to convert non-Chinese into Chinese-ness. In contrast, the US as a young country, believing its own conception to be novel and exceptional, wants everyone to be American. And therein lies a profound difference between China and the US. The software of globalisation today including standards and pop culture is basically American. If you look at cultures as human operating systems, it is US culture which has hyper-linked all these different cultures together, in a kind of higher HTML or XML language. And even though that software needs some fixing today, it will remain essentially American. And I doubt that the Chinese software will ever be able to unify the world the way it has been because it (Chinese software) has a very different characteristic all of its own. Even when China becomes the biggest economy in the world as it almost certainly will within a few decades.

Cities of the 21st Century


The second point I wish to highlight today about China is the astonishing urban experimentation taking place today. China is urbanising at a speed and on a scale never seen before in human history. Chinese planners know that they do not have the land to build sprawling suburbia like America 's. China has less arable land than India . Although China already has a greater length of highways than the whole of the US , the Chinese are keenly aware that if they were to drive cars on a per capita basis like Americans, the whole world would boil. Recognising the need to conserve land and energy, the Chinese are now embarked on a stupendous effort to build mega-cities, each accommodating tens of millions of people, each the population size of a major country.. And these will not be urban conurbations like Mexico City or Lagos growing higgledy-piggledy, but cities designed to accommodate such enormous populations. This means planned urban infrastructure with high-speed intra-city and inter-city rail, huge airports like Beijing 's, forests of skyscrapers, and high tech parks containing universities, research institutes, start-ups and ancillary facilities. In March last year, McKinsey Global Institute recommended 15 'super cities' with average populations of 25 million or 11 'city-clusters' each with combined populations of more than 60 million. Unlike most countries, China is able to mount massive redevelopment projects because of the Communist re-concentration of land in the hands of the state.. If you think about it, the great Chinese revolution was fundamentally about the ownership of land. This is the biggest difference between China and India . In India and most other parts of the world, land acquisition for large-scale projects is a very difficult and laborious process.

As we looked to the US for new patterns of urban development in the 20th century with its very rational grid patterns, we will have to look to China for the cities of the 21st century. Urbanisation on such a colossal scale is reshaping Chinese
culture, politics and institutions. The Chinese Communist Party which had its origins in Mao's countryside faces a huge challenge in the management of urban politics. From an urban population of 20% in Mao's days, China is 40% urban today and, like all developed countries, will become 80-90% urban in a few decades' time. Already, China has more mobile phones than anybody else and more internet users than the US .

China 's Political Culture


My third point is about China 's political culture.. Over the centuries, China has evolved a political culture that enables a continental- size nation to be governed through a bureaucratic elite. In the People's Republic, the bureaucratic elite is the Communist Party. When working properly, the mandarinate is meritocratic and imbued with a deep sense of responsibility for the whole country.

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, there was a rule that no high official could serve within 400 miles of his birthplace so that he did not come under pressure to favour local interests. This would mean that for a place like Singapore , it could never be governed by Singaporeans. A few years ago, that rule was re-introduced to the People's Republic, and indeed, in almost all cases, the leader of a Chinese province is not from that province. Neither the Party Secretary nor the Governor, unless it is an autonomous region, in which case the number two job goes to a local, but never the number one job. It is as if on a routine basis, the British PM cannot be British, the French President cannot be French and the German Chancellor cannot be German.

Although politics in China will change radically as the country urbanises in the coming decades, the core principle of a bureaucratic elite holding the entire country together is not likely to change. Too many state functions affecting the well-being of the country as a whole require central coordination. In its historical memory, a China divided always meant chaos, and chaos could last a long time.

To be sure, China is experimenting with democracy at the lower levels of government because it acts as a useful check against abuse of power. However, at the level of cities and provinces, leaders are chosen from above after carefully canvassing the views of peers and subordinates. As with socialism, China will evolve a form of 'democracy with Chinese characteristics' quite different from Western liberal democracy. The current world crisis will convince the Chinese even more that they are right not to give up state control of the commanding heights of the economy.

With the world in turmoil, many developing countries are studying the Chinese system wondering whether it might not offer them lessons on good governance. For the first time in a long time, the Western model has a serious competitor.

I make these three points about China to illustrate how complex the process of incorporating China into a new multi-polar global system will be. The challenge is not only economic, it is also political and cultural. Yet, it must be met and the result will be a world quite different from what we are used to. Developing countries will no longer look only to the West for inspiration; they will also turn to China and, maybe, to India as well.

The Nalanda Revival


The simultaneous re-emergence of India and China , together making up 40% of the world's population, is endlessly fascinating. Two countries cannot be more different. One is Confucianist and strait-laced, the other is democratic and rambunctious. Or to use Amartya Sen's words, "The Indian is argumentative" . Yet, in both countries, we can feel an organic vitality changing the lives of huge numbers of people. The re-encounter of these two ancient civilizations is itself another drama. Separated by high mountains and vast deserts, their historical contact over the centuries was sporadic and largely peaceful. In recent years, trade between them has grown hugely, making China India's biggest trading partner today. But of course, we must remember that during the Raj, China was also British India 's biggest trading partner. But they are suspicious of each other. India remains scarred by its defeat by China in 1962 during the border war, a point which Chinese leaders seem not to understand fully. We in Southeast Asia have a strong vested interest in these two great nations who are our immediate neighbours having peaceful, cooperative relations. Let me talk briefly about a project which may help bring South, Southeast and East Asia together again. This is the revival of the old Nalanda University in the Indian state of Bihar.

Through Chinese historical records, the world is aware of the existence of an ancient Buddhist university in India which for centuries drew students from all over Asia . At its peak, Nalanda accommodated ten thousand students, mostly monks. It had a
magnificent campus with a nine-storey library and towers reaching into the clouds, according to the extravagant but remarkably accurate account of the 7th century Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk Xuan Zang. Xuan Zang's journey to India to bring back Buddhist sutras was such an odyssey, it has long been mythologized in Chinese folklore - the Journey to the West. He spent a number of years in Nalanda. Unfortunately, Nalanda was destroyed by Afghan invaders at about the time Oxford and Cambridge were established 800 years ago and again initially, mostly for monks. The Indian Government has recently decided to revive this ancient university as a secular university, offering it for international collaboration. A 500-acre site not far from the ruins of the old has already been acquired. Like the old, it will be multi-disciplinary, drawing on the Buddhist philosophy of man living in harmony with man, man living in harmony with nature, and man living as part of nature. A mentors group chaired by Amartya Sen has been appointed by the Indian Government to conceptualise its establishment, of which I am privileged to be a member. I hope the new Nalanda University will help usher in a new era of peace and understanding in Asia . I also hope it will have strong links to Cambridge .

Cultural Repricing


A multi-polar world is a messy world. It means that no particular value system will hold complete sway over others. The current crisis has already caused many people to question the nature of capitalism, socialism and democracy. Chemically-pure capitalism, to use a phrase coined by former French Premier Lionel Jospin, has become a dirty word. In contrast, John Maynard Keynes seems to have been repriced upwards again and all of us have been dusting the old copies of The General Theory that we have on our shelves. A recent Newsweek cover proclaimed that "we are all socialists now". Even Karl Marx is being re-read. Ideas, cultural norms are all being repriced as countries search for ways out of the crisis. If high unemployment persists for many more years, dangerous ideas and ideologies may reappear as they did in the 30's.

Without American leadership, multi-polarity can easily lead to global instability. And there is much expectation of what a new Obama Administration, sensitive to cultural nuances, can do to restore order and growth in the world. Unfortunately, there are no quick or easy solutions. We should expect instead a fairly long period of untidiness and confusion. Most importantly, we should be sceptical of absolute or ultimate
solutions for these are often the most dangerous.

The Inspiration of Darwin and Needham


In responding to the current crisis, let us be inspired by two Cambridge men, Darwin and Needham. Darwin 's publication of The Origin of Species 150 years ago represented one of the greatest intellectual leaps by mankind. At the British Museum of Natural History, they call it "The Big Idea". It was a very big idea. Natural selection has an obvious analogue in man's intellectual and social development. Like biological species, human ideas and systems are also subject to selection through wars, revolutions, elections, economic crises, academic debates and market competition.. Those which survive and flourish should, we hope, raise civilization to a higher level.

Needham
understood China like few other men did. As Simon Winchester wrote in his recent book on Needham , The Man Who Loved China, Needham might not be surprised to see the huge transformation of China today.

Both Darwin and Needham were drawn from our university
tradition of being sceptical without losing our moral sense. Only by being sceptical can we be objective, can we see ourselves critically and learn from others. Only with a moral sense will we be motivated to work for a larger social good. It was China 's corruption and inability to learn from others in an earlier period that led to its long decline. The Qian Long Emperor told George III during Lord McCartney's mission in 1793 that China had nothing to learn from the West. That marked the beginning of China 's long decline.

Human civilisations learn from one another more than they realise, more than we realise. In a collection of essays published by Needham on the historic dialogue of East and West in 1969, he chose for his title Within the Four Seas. That
title was from the Analects of Confucius, who said, "Within the Four Seas, all men are brothers". In the heyday of Third World solidarity in the 50's, the Indians had a saying - "Hindi-Chini, bhai bhai" - Indians and Chinese are brothers. In these confused times, we need to learn from one another on the basis of a deep respect for each other as human beings.




Why do you think airplanes provide pillows?



video

A joke in poor taste

There is this law firm, Lee & Lee Associates whose boss believes in his feng shui master's advice that he should employ only lawyers with the surname Lee.

One day, Tuna Singh who recently graduated from law school managed to get an interview. At the end of the interview, boss Lee admitted that it was a mistake and that he could not employ anyone who does not have surname Lee.

Disappointed Tuna went out for a drink with his friends. One of them suggested that he change his name.

The next day, he went back to boss Lee. But Lee said I have told you my condition.

Tuna said he has changed his name to Manga Lee!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

A nation that finds it hard to say sorry

Last night, our PM was on television (a surprise because not according to tv schedule published in papers) being interviewed by China's tv host on his recent visit there. When asked how he wished to be remembered, said something about wishing to be fondly remembered by Malaysians... from their hearts. Wow, don't know about others, but could he? Not by his nasty actions in grabbing Perak for BN, among others.

He is also into blogging to reach out to the young Malaysians who admittedly shun the mainstream media. But he should forget about getting them interested in what he has to say, just think of the generation gap for a start. They are in a world of their own and they have a mind of their own not easily influenced by disguised propaganda.

His mentor, Dr. Mahathir, was responsible for Anwar's black eye and I have yet to see any form of remorse, let alone an apology. Now, we are about to witness another round of dubious court trial on another charge of sodomy, widely believed to be framed. It would seem sodomy is the greatest crime in our country, worse than those who plundered the country's coffers of billions or even in some cases, murder.

His efforts in wanting to unite the country seems hollow when his actions seem to anger the people more and more. Anwar, a fellow Malay and muslim, but who is on the wrong side of the political divide, would be treated with contempt and ridicule.

Apparently, President Barack Obama, in his telephone conversation with him, is full of praise of Malaysia's development. Do we need America's praise when other times, we had been so critical of them? The same with Singapore. If Malaysians are so against Singapore, why bother trying to attract their investments?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Some businessmen cannot be respected

It was Agong's birthday when I had problems with Maybank's cheque deposit machine. Each time, the cheque was rejected. Then came this Indian newspaper vendor who made a mistake of not clearing before putting in the cheque! Must be new to him because he should have made a few steps before doing that. So he got a receipt with my wife's account details showing a scanned image of the cheque he deposited. How often do we encounter a situation like that? Very very seldom but on top of that, this guy did not write his name as payee on the cheque given him by a businessman!

Three years ago, on Agong's birthday, we took a trip to Kota Bharu using the new road via Pos Slim to Cameron Highlands and Gua Musang for the first time, and I tripped and fell in KB, got a nasty gash on my forehead requiring 7 stitches. That's why I have this fear of something unusual happening on this public holiday.

Anyway, back to my topic. Met this man a few times and he grumbled that the businessman said he will have to wait until next month for a replacement cheque, giving the impression that his company is so strict on cheque issuance that if you missed it this month, you will have to wait another month for it! I told him that this man is being dishonest. Then he told me that he is being owed a few months' bills (providing lorry transport) at any one time. He said that once, upon completion of a project, all the creditors were paid only 35% and the balance of 65% had to be considered written off! This is quite similar to those who got the main contract from the government and delayed and refused payments to sub-contractors. How can we ever respect such people even if they display their wealth in the form of palatial homes and luxurious cars?

A small time renovation contractor complained about some house owners who would delay payment and kept asking them to do extra works off the record. They had to do them for free simply because the balance of the contracted sum has yet to be paid! To counter this problem, some contractors would jack up the price and ready to write off the last 5% as expected. But over some time, who is a gentleman and who is not, the local people would get to know... unless reputation and integrity are not something they worry about and can still sleep soundly.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Service to the people

Are those involved in service to the public meeting the people's needs?

We know BN politicians do not care about what the people feel about their high-handed actions. They feel they have been given the mandate by the people and they are free to do as they please. They direct the police to bully the opposition representatives. Their Deputy Speaker in Parliament sent off Tony Pua for simply standing when he ordered him to sit.

Anyway, this post is not about politics but certain aspect of business service. I remember once when there was a change in CEO at Telekom Malaysia and the dramatic change was some local officers in suits welcoming customers at the entrance! It was really hitting at the wrong button. In fact, it embarrassed me when the service was overdone in this manner. What would impress us would be helping those who need telephone lines, broadband connection and related problems by providing prompt service. Personal service would endear people, not call centres and facilities without human intervention even when someone faced problem dealing with them.

Most public listed companies now sent out Annual Reports in compact disc form with a form for anyone requiring a printed copy. Some provide abridged reports covering Profit and Loss Account and Balance Sheet as well. Personally, I do not bother using the CD unless I need the information. I wonder if others feel the same. How many of us bother to complete and send out the form to request for a printed Annual Report? I am sure each company's secretary should have an idea of the response. If the response is extremely poor, does it mean most people are happy with the CD provided? If my hunch is right, most people would like an abridged version together with the CD so that the salient information like Net Profit or Loss, Earnings per share, Net Asset value and so on, is readily available without having to use the computer.

Recently, a government department was told to deal with application forms not properly filled, on the spot instead of turning them away. Now, this is the right approach! The public seems to have this perception of civil servants enjoying the show of disappointment when they are short of one or two items required in their application. A few years ago, I commented about the EPF's inability in providing a simple photostating of Identity Card when they can have posh offices. If private companies like banks can provide, why can't the EPF? They could afford to lose millions in property development, of all things, through their subsidiary like MBSB which is essentially a building society providing housing loans.

How safe is BN's Fixed Deposits?

Just like our money put in Fixed Deposits with banks, whether we are able to claim back the money on maturity will depend on how safe are the banks. The recent financial crisis has shown the vulnerability of even giant banks which seemed unthinkable before. So BN's so-called Fixed Deposits in Sabah and Sarawak are only as safe as the actual support of the electorates. Will they continue to give their undivided support to BN? What would they think of Najib's unity government which essentially concerns Malay and Islamic unity more than national unity. Can BN have both or will one give way to the other?

Raja Petra's recent post reveals a clearer picture of what is at stake and in store for the 13th General Election:

Malaysia-Today.net - Why BN will forever remain in power, unless it loses control of East Malaysia (excerpts):

I would even dare bet that Pakatan Rakyat has a good chance of winning 95 seats against Barisan Nasional’s 71. This means Barisan Nasional needs to win at least 50 seats from Sabah and Sarawak to form the federal government with a minimum of 121 seats. That would give Barisan Nasional a nine-seat margin over the 112 required to form the federal government.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Umno Youth Must Ensure Sabah Remain BN's "Fixed Deposit" – Salleh

When Sabah and Sarawak teamed up with Malaya and Singapore to form Malaysia (yes, that’s right, Sabah and Sarawak did not JOIN Malaysia) it was with certain terms and conditions attached. Some may have heard of the 20-point agreement but not many may have actually read it. I suppose the same goes for the Merdeka agreement prior to independence in August 1957 or the ‘Social Contract’ that binds the very delicate fabric of Malaysian society.

The 20-Point Agreement is another that many Malaysians can liberally quote but very few have actually read what it says. Even the police and Peninsular Malaysia politicians do not understand it. For example, if a Sabah politician were to say that the state should pull out of Malaysia and become the Independent Republic of Sabah, the federal leaders and the police would scream treason and rush over to Kota Kinabalu to arrest that Sabah politician under the Internal Security Act.


Is it treason? Or is it when Sabah and Sarawak teamed up with Malaya to form Malaysia it had been agreed that these two East Malaysian states could later leave the Federation of Malaysia if they find it untenable, but it must be done through a certain manner -- like holding a Referendum first and successfully getting the minimum number of votes required?

No, it is not treason. It is provided for in the agreement when Sabah and Sarawak first sat down to discuss the possibility of forming a new country called Malaysia. The only thing is it must be done according to the method agreed upon. The Chief Minister can’t wake up one morning and just announce that Sabah is no longer part of Malaysia and is now an independent republic.

Why are Sabah and Sarawak so important to Malaysia, other than the fact they have plenty of oil and other natural resources which we can plunder? Well, Sabah and Sarawak must at all times hold 25% of the total number of parliament seats. Currently, out of 222 parliament seats, East Malaysia has 56 -- that is 31 from Sarawak and 25 from Sabah.

For all intents and purposes, Sabah and Sarawak hold the key to federal power and are the ‘Kingmakers’. Ever wonder why Barisan Nasional politicians regard Sabah and Sarawak as the ruling coalition’s ‘fixed deposit’? They are not ashamed of this and make no apologies for it. In fact, they brazenly say so openly.

In the last general election on 8 March 2008, the opposition -- meaning DAP here -- won just one parliament seat in Sabah and another in Sarawak. Barisan Nasional retained 54 seats in both states.

Nationwide, Barisan Nasional won 140 seats in total while the opposition won 82. But if we minus the 54 seats from East Malaysia, Barisan Nasional won only 86 seats against the opposition’s 80 (also if we minus the two DAP seats in Sabah and Sarawak). Now, however, since the Kuala Terengganu by-election, it is 85 Barisan Nasional versus 81 Pakatan Rakyat.

Can you see how crucial Sabah and Sarawak are to Barisan Nasional? In the next general election Barisan Nasional may win less seats than Pakatan Rakyat in Peninsular Malaysia. I would even dare bet that

Pakatan Rakyat has a good chance of winning 95 seats against Barisan Nasional’s 71. This means Barisan Nasional needs to win at least 50 seats from Sabah and Sarawak to form the federal government with a minimum of 121 seats. That would give Barisan Nasional a nine-seat margin over the 112 required to form the federal government.

Nine seats is not a very large margin. But if Pakatan Rakyat increases its seats in Peninsular Malaysia from 81 to 95, then Barisan Nasional will need Sabah and Sarawak even more than before. However, Barisan Nasional will need to win at least 50 of the 56 seats in East Malaysia. If it wins only 40 seats instead of 50, then Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat would be locked in an ‘hung parliament’ with 111 seats each.

Not very good for political stability is it?

Other relevant info gathered from MT:

2008 polls - interesting facts Mar 10, 08 (glaring effects of gerrymandering?)

“Barisan Nasional only gained about 51 percent of the popular vote from the 7.9 million ballots cast on Saturday.

However, it took 63 percent of the seats contested - or 140 of 222 seats in Parliament.

Interestingly, its peninsula-wide popular vote was only 49.79 percent, which effectively means that the opposition received the majority vote in this part of the country.

However, when converted to parliamentary seats, BN has 85 of the constituencies in the peninsula, while the opposition bagged 80.Almost 40 percent of the BN's seats are in Sabah and Sarawak - 55 out of 140.

In 2004, BN won about 64 percent of the popular vote nationwide and 92 percent of the 219 parliamentary seats on offer then.”
***
In Sabah, results of the last GE:

The BN won nearly all parliamentary and state seats, except for Kota Kinabalu (parliament) and Sri Tanjong (state).
The opposition gathered 36 % or 187,800 of the votes.
PKR lost all, but obtained credible 137,500 votes or 26.35%; while DAP with less than 50,000 votes or about 10%, won the above-mentioned parliamentary and state seats and was close with Sandakan (P) and Likas (S).

BN votes vs. Opposition votes (where BN won despite obtaining less votes)
State seats:
1) Inanam: 5,979 vs. 7,157
2) Likas: 4,097 vs. 5,098
3) Luyang: 5,073 vs. 6,365
4) Kepayan: 6,162 vs. 7,758
5) Kuala Penyu: 4,416 vs. 4,998
6) Merotai: 3723 vs. 3,993
Parliamentary seat:
Sandakan (parliament) 8,297 vs. 11,050

Kota Kinabalu (parliament) 8,420 vs. 18,822
(KK seems typical of pro-opposition urban voters gerrymandered disproportionately so as to require more votes for a seat)

So, is BN getting worried this time round?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Danger of not knowing a foreign language

I am not sure if the above picture has been doctored but taking it at face value, it shows the disadvantage of using a foreign language without knowing what it actually means.



Locally, even an English-educated Chinese may face a similar problem if he asked a Chinese-educated person to write Chinese characters for him. But it is quite common to have a Chinese-educated sign writer to write English or Malay and made major errors without realising it. Don't believe me, just read a few signs on commercial vehicles and you are likely to spot some.

A repeat of a sham trial?

Under the protégé of the first…will it be the same…or will the public remain as gullible?

In the natural order of things, a sifu (or mentor) never teaches all to his toudai (or protégé) but like everything else, there are of course exceptions where the latter is more talented.

Then, for the second time round, both prosecution and defence should be better prepared than the last time, learning from previous mistakes as well as having some surprises (if ever there are any left) which remain to be seen.

Lim Kit Siang had already questioned the timing of the DNA Bill, which seems tailor-made for Anwar's case.

Anwar said he is better prepared this time, but he was referring to the leadership of PKR in the ‘worst case’ scenario of him being jailed for the flimsiest of evidence, such was his confidence in the judiciary.

Malaysia-Today.net : - The Sodomy Conspirators: Hoisted by their own petard

History Repeats Itself
By Kenny Gan, Suara Keadilan


It is said that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

Eleven years later, the nation is set to witness a repeat of the gut-wrenching melodrama and tragi-comedy of yet another Anwar sodomy trial, which again is set to shake the nation and drag public confidence in our enforcement institutions to new lows.

But the stakes are higher now as Anwar has become Opposition Leader and one who carries the hopes of millions of Malaysians for a new and better Malaysia.

The political-social environment has also changed significantly with the dissipation of Mahathir’s climate of fear and the pervasiveness of the Internet loosening the government’s stranglehold on information.

More importantly, the formation of a two party system by the enlarged and united opposition forced the ruling party to be democratically competitive.

In this new environment, it would be political suicide to try a repeat of the previous sodomy caper. However, those who have held the levers of power for too long are sometimes blinded by their arrogance besides overestimating their abilities and under-estimating the public.


his closing remarks:

The political masters may have though that putting Anwar away will solve their problems but it could hasten their demise.

The opposition coalition has grown beyond Anwar and no longer requires his personal participation to stay together.

A conviction of Anwar seen as unfair and a political hatchet job will energize the opposition and create so much public sympathy and disgust that PR will ride the wave to victory in the next general election.

The perpetrators are tampering with powerful forces beyond their control. If they have nothing on Anwar it is best to swallow their pride and just drop the charges.

Monday, June 22, 2009

1Black Coffee and re-visiting Queensbay Mall, Penang

I thought being invited to have black coffee in old Klang Road was already impractical, but what about this? Just got this from Facebook:

Chin-Huat invited you to "1BLACKMalaysia/1BLACKIran /1BLACKBurma@ London Stansted Airport" on Thursday, June 25 at 9:00pm.
Event: 1BLACKMalaysia/1BLACKIran /1BLACKBurma@ London Stansted Airport "before we fly towards freedom"
What: Bar Night
Host: 1BLACKMalaysia, Democracy First, Elections Now Start Time: Thursday, June 25 at 9:00pm
End Time: Thursday, June 25 at 11:55pm
Where: O'Neills Pub

But this is how entries in Facebook get wide coverage regardless of where you are, it is your contacts and the message that counts. This time, I support Chin Huat from afar. Cheers!

Yesterday, was our second visit to Queensbay Mall, Penang since their opening. Was most impressed with their roundabouts with maturing palm trees amid manicured lawns against the backdrop of sea and Pulau Jerajak (an ex-prison turned resort). In fact, anything set against the sea is an advantage in looking pleasant and nice, which incidentally is their main selling point for their apartments part of the project. The present developer started his modest public company (which he sold during the boom time), in Batu Complex, which is across the road from my former house off 3rd mile, Jalan Ipoh, KL.

The approach road to Queensbay Mall is rather unusual and remembering the last time, I had to watch out for the signs leading to the project, which is to keep to the right to take the flyover leading to the left! Perhaps they need the distance to create the flyover but any layman would have the first impression of 'doing something simple the hard way'. Why not just turn left? It was quite a distance too, to get to the entrance of the mall and then to the multi-storey car park. Here again, on our way out (from level 5), I was happily following the red arrows somewhere in the middle when my wife noticed the direction to turn left instead at level 3, after I had turned right twice for two levels! So I had to do another round.

Actually, I meant to mention about how silly we felt having White Coffee at an Old Town outlet in QM! Old Town white coffee originated from Nam Heong, Ipoh, opposite the original Sin Yee Loong, and we had to pay Rm3.20 ++ each for the basic one! We were not away from home, craving for white coffee for a long time, and besides, I am basically a tea man! Actually, I quipped that we should have walked out when we saw the price which was almost twice that of an outlet in Ipoh because the foreign waiters had the habit of waiting for people to call before coming over to take orders. I mean, this is not a restaurant where customers normally had a hard time deciding what to have. We were actually looking for the hawker centre, which SP remembered since the last time and it turned out to be Arena, a place I noticed from a higher floor when we first arrived!

The second mistake was the misleading leaflet of Taiwan Bull, offering dishes at half price, eg. Rm12.50 for Rm6.25 when in fact, they meant, it applies to the second order only! If only the food was good to compensate, but it wasn’t, having tasted beef noodles in Ipoh and KL. The crispy chicken tasted more like biscuits than chicken and it did not help having this mysterious ‘fragrance’ which followed me the whole journey, thought it was something in the car, and even tasted it when chewing the chicken! Yet to find out the reason, even wondered if it was some gas coming out from my throat!

Anyway, it was no where near, in terms of taste, when we compared our usual char kway teow or Hokien mee for me and Penang or Siamese laksa (by choice if possible, Penang laksa from the stall near Balik Pulau market or Siamese from the stall opposite police station on Burma Road but behind the Pulau Tikus market) for SP, and the smooth cendol from either the famous stall or his competitor off Penang Road, to take away. We like the generous portion of red beans that go with it. Actually for convenience and comfort, I quite like the New World Hawker Centre, especially when with foreign visitors.

The saving grace at QM was the (per entry?) parking fee of Rm1 for more than 3 hours, which compensated for the long drive to get to the covered car park. But being Malaysians, many cars were parked all over, outside the Mall itself.

Hisham u didn't?

Shame you did!

We thought Syed Hamid was bad enough, until we have Hishamuddin. He even spoke for the police who did the unprecedented – forcibly carrying out the Speaker of Perak State Assembly!

A few years ago, before Syed Hamid’s time, I was witness to something similar to what happened in Klang last night, but in Bemban, Perak. YB Lim Kit Siang was scheduled to speak at a dinner, and the area was surrounded by heavily armed police (some with what looked like machine guns). Senseless waste of scarce resources when the police kept harping on the shortage of personnel.

I happened to know the ASP in charge then, and he explained that the permit was meant for a closed hall (this hall happened to be without walls! And there was no permission to use loud speakers because it would upset the people living nearby!) Just imagine, there were no complaints, yet the police was so pro-active and considerate towards the villagers. Mind you, this happened to be, and still is, a DAP stronghold, so it was really unwelcome protection by the police.

Yesterday afternoon, along the N-S Expressway, a convoy of PDRM coaches and a few trucks were seen travelling south. With the following news at night, I wondered if the same was heading towards Klang! :

CHARLES HECTOR: Maybe the States have to claim their rights - maybe time for State Police, that will come under the State Government directly..

What is happening to Malaysia under its new Prime Minister Najib?

Freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association is being disrespected...

Even the legal DAP dinners hosted by the duly elected DAP MP for the area are being 'interfered' with..

Water cannons...PA Systems confiscated....speakers for the night not allowed to talk...

Police permits withdrawn at the eleventh hour...by the police...

Shocking...embarrassing...

Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government sponsored events also have had to have police approvals..

Who is in charge of the state - the democratically elected Pakatan Rakyat government or the police?

Maybe, time for Selangor to have its own state police - who will be under the State Government...

The interference of the Federal Government into matters within the State must stop...

If this is happening to DAP, which is part of the State government, in an area with a DAP Mp - I wonder whether other opposition parties like PSM and Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM) will even have a chance to host 'ceramahs' and fund raising events....


What about Radio Stations...Television Stations - when will the opposition parties or the non-BN State Governments have the ability to get permits and run their own stations...

Is Malaysia really a democracy? Or has it now become a 'dictatorship'? or a Police State?

Well, Hishamuddin is a third generation of one of the ruling dynasties (though his grandfather had never been in power) while Najib is a second generation. Is it fated that they will make decisions to fulfil the prophesy that power, like wealth cannot last through three generations?

Some useless knowledge to show off a bit...

Info copied and edited, with my comments in brackets:

Knowing your keyboard:

Stewardesses' is the longest word typed with only the left hand. (I am taking his word for it)
And 'lollipop' is the longest word typed with your right hand. (same with this and other similar statements)

'TYPEWRITER' is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

The sentence practised by secretaries under training since umpteen years ago: 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.' uses every letter of the alphabet. (Cheng used to be amazed by my ability to type without looking at the keys, now she knows)

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing. (wonder who did the research, why, and how true this is!)

Useless info on English (because you won’t be tested and therefore will not get an A for knowing them):

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.
'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters 'mt'.
The words 'racecar,' kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).
There are only four words in the English language which end in 'dous': tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: 'abstemious' and 'facetious.'

Common mistake: Q.E.D. It is 'quod erat demonstrandum' which means 'that is what I wanted to prove and I have proved it.'.
. and not 'Quite Easily Done’.

Facts and fancies (aka useless info):

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing. (only our eyesight deteriorates over time; our nose because of the lies we had to tell now and again, while the ears because of our increasing nosiness)
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds. (and that is considered better than mine!)
A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second. (so don’t believe anyone who said 'will be with you in a jiffy')

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes. (wonder what difference does it make to us, or how can we tell without getting near to them and survive?)

A snail can sleep for three years. (who was it who bothered to find out? How did he do it?)
Almonds are a member of the peach family. (that does not explain its bed bug smell)

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. (no wonder it has yet to figure out how to fly)
Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age. (no wonder they either crawl or walk differently!)

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated. (no wonder househusbands feel lonely like hell)

If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
(thank God, it was never done on their National Day)

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors. (because he needed to trim his beard or brushes?)
Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite! (Jimmy Carter has a lot to answer for that, and that’s why he is a peace-maker now)
Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated. (not music bands for sure, but not sure about contrabands)
The cruise liner, QE 2 moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns. (no wonder they calculate in terms of gallons per mile!)

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
(it happened to many people but they didn’t realise the importance!)

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid. (for sure I would not stand on it)
There are more chickens than people in the world. (or is it there are more people who are chickens?)

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance. (that’s why he tried so hard to be macho?)

Women blink nearly twice as much as men. (They were actually winking but could not do it properly)

Which MP owns Lexus 4WD RX350 Reg. No. PFH 8989?

Please own up.

The car, owned by an MP, most probably from Penang, was spotted driving dangerously, travelling south along km 137 of North-South Expressway at roughly 8.30pm last night. It was just before the exit to Bandar Baharu and Selama.

I was with my wife coming back from Penang, following a few cars on the fast of two lanes, overtaking a heavy vehicle when I saw a vehicle changing lane from behind me to the slow lane which I found it odd since we were overtaking at 110km. Why would someone pass me on my left behind a slower vehicle? Suddenly, the idiot driver (not sure if it was the MP himself or his driver) actually overtook me from the left and cut in! My wife got a shock and we were more annoyed having seen the MP insignia on the back bumper. I honked and switched to high beam to show my anger. He was last seen travelling at over 120km per hour.

Then I realised he could be hurrying to reach KL for tomorrow’s Parliament session. But there is no excuse for this kind of dangerous driving. At the moment of writing, I have no idea who is the MP and which party he represents in Parliament, but I would really like to know, and I shall be finding out soon. Whoever he is, if the MP was driving last night, my respect for him dropped a few notches. Even if it was his driver, the MP should have made sure that he drives responsibly bearing in mind the MP badge on the car.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More on classification of sex!

LOUD SEX
A wife went in to see a therapist and said, "I've got a big problem, doctor. Every time we're in bed and my husband climaxes, he lets out this ear splitting yell."
"My dear," the shrink said, "that's completely natural. I don't see what the problem is."
"The problem is," she complained, "it wakes me up!"

QUIET SEX
Tired of a listless sex life, the man came right out and asked his wife during a recent lovemaking session, "How come you never tell me when you have an orgasm?"
She glanced at him casually and replied, "You're never home!"

CONFOUNDED SEX
A man was in a terrible accident, and his "manhood" was mangled and torn from his body. His doctor assured him that modern medicine could give him back his manhood, but that his insurance wouldn't cover the surgery since it was considered cosmetic. The doctor said the cost would be $3,500 for "small, $6,500 for "medium, $14,000 for "large."

The man was sure he would want a medium or large, but the doctor urged him to talk it over with his wife before he made any decision. The man called his wife on the phone and explained their options. The doctor came back into the room, and found the man looking dejected.

"Well, what have the two of you decided?" asked the doctor.

The man answered, "She'd rather remodel the kitchen."

WEDDING ANNIVERSARY SEX
A husband and his wife had a bitter quarrel on the day of their 40th wedding anniversary.
The husband yells, "When you die, I'm getting you a headstone that reads:
'Here Lies My Wife - Cold As Ever'."
"Yeah," she replies, "when you die, I'm getting you a headstone that reads:
Here Lies My Husband - Stiff At Last.'"

WOMEN'S HUMOROUS SEX
My husband came home with a tube of KY jelly and said,"This will make you happy tonight."
He was right. When he went out of the bedroom, I squirted it all over the doorknobs. He couldn't get back in.

ELDERLY SEX
One night an 87 year old woman came home from Bingo to find her 92 year old husband in bed with another woman. She became violent and ended up pushing him off the balcony of their 20th floor assisted living apartment. Killing him instantly.
Brought before the court on charge of murder, the judge asked her if she had anything to say in her defense.
She began coolly, "Yes, your honor, I figured that at 92, if he could have sex .. He could fly."

Classification of Sex

People are interested in anything under the sun, especially sex. 'Sex sells' and it has been proven in the magazines, newspapers and online newsportals. Sex scandals will attract hits like honey attracting bees in blogsites that feature them. I don't know who the so-called researcher (read joker) is but it is fun what he came out with:

Six kinds of sex

Recent research shows that there are 6 kinds of sex:

The 1st kind of sex is called: Smurf Sex.

This kind of sex happens when you first meet someone and you both have sex until you are blue in the face..

The 2nd kind of sex is called: Kitchen Sex.

This is when you have been with your partner for a short timeand you are so horny you will have sex anywhere, even in the kitchen.

The 3rd kind of sex is called: Bedroom Sex. This is when you have been with your partner for a long time. Your sex has gotten routine and you usually have sex only in your bedroom.

The 4th kind of sex is called: Hallway Sex.

This is when you have been with your partner for too long. When you pass each other in the hallway you both say, "screw you."

The 5th kind of sex is called: Religious Sex. Which means you get Nun in the morning, Nun in the afternoon and Nun at night.

The 6th kind is called Courtroom Sex. This is when you cannot stand your wife any more. She takes you to court and screws you in front of everyone.

I know of another kind which is somewhere before the 4th and the 5th, and it is known as Social Security Sex!


Two men were talking. 'So, how's your sex life?'
'Oh, nothing special. I'm having Social Security sex.'
'Social Security sex?'
'Yeah, you know; I get a little each month, but not enough to live on!'

Friday, June 19, 2009

Petrol prices are comparatively cheap...


Someone in America, presumably, had done some arithmetics (in English of course), and show us that litre for litre, there are more outrageous prices than petrol. Fortunately, we do not need to use those in great quantities like petrol. He did not state that!

All these examples do NOT imply that petrol is cheap; it just illustrates how outrageous some prices are. You will be really shocked by the last one (at least, I was)!!!

Think a liter of petrol at $1.60 is expensive?

This makes you think, and also puts things into perspective.

Can of Red Bull, 250ml, $2.95 ... $11.80 per litre!

Robitussin Cough Mixture, 200ml, $9.95 ..... $199.00 per litre!
L'Oreal Revitalift Day Cream, 50ml, $29.95 ...... $599.00 per litre!

Bundy Rum, 1250ml, $51.00 .... $40.80 per litre!

Visene Eye Drops, 15ml, $5.69 .... $379.00 per litre!

Britney Spears Fantasy Perfume, 50ml, $29 .... $580.00 per litre!

And this is the REAL KICKER.
Evian water, 375ml, $2.95 ...$7.86 per litre!
$7.86 for a litre of WATER!!
and the buyers don't even know the source (Evian spelled backwards is NAIVE!!)

Ever wonder why computer printers are so cheap?
So they can hook you for the ink!!
Someone calculated the cost of the ink at, you won't believe it but it's true; $1,040 a litre.
$1040.00 A LITRE!!!
So, the next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on water, Red Bull, Robitussin, L'Oreal or, God forbid, Printer Ink!!!!!

And - If you don't pass this along to at least one person, your muffler will fall off!!

MORAL OF THE STORY IS, DO NOT COMPLAIN IF PETROL PRICE INCREASE!!!

Let's keep in touch!

Arjun Singh and Pargat Singh are very close friends. The whole school talked about their friendship. They had been friends right from their kindergarten days. They have studied together, roamed around together, sat together in school, ate together. They both wanted to become Police officials and serve the country. But today was a day they always dreaded. It was their last day together.

On their way back from School Arjun started talking

Arjun : Bro! I am moving to a different city to study. I will miss you man
Pargat: I will miss you too mate. But nothing can break our friendship. We will at least meet once every year.
Arjun: Yes that is a deal and they parted with tears in their eyes...

As time went by, both got busy with their work life. They kept their promise for two years and after that they moved on with their own lives and in the process Arjun lost his contact with Pargat. Time went by and both became Police Officers.

Year: 2009
Venue: The Police station where Arjun works

Tring... Tring...

Arjun picks up the call and he gets a pleasant surprise...

"Is this Arjun?"
"Yes. Who is on the line?"
" Bro. Its Pargat! I just found out that you are posted in this station"

Tear drops welled up Arjun's eyes

Arjun: Where are you?
Pargat: I am standing outside the Police station. Come Out
Arjun: Is it? I am coming right away.

Arjun rushed out of the Police station and saw Pargat standing outside. They were seeing each other for the first time after thirty years. He wanted to go and hug his friend. But he could not hug his friend. It was a very touching moment for both of them:

Prosperity got in their way? Just a Chinese view!

A long standing problem with Ah Longs...

and how to cut a long story short... no, it should be how to cut short the Ah Longs’ long arms from reaching the population mass:

Two weeks ago,

Thursday June 4, 2009
The Star: Reel in the loan sharks (excerpts):
ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
By M. VEERA PANDIYAN

Through the ages, as man progressed through moral, ethical and spiritual consciousness, usury – the practice of lending money for profit at exorbitant interest – was condemned as an abomination as evil as rape or murder.

It was prohibited by the tenets of all the major religions, including Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Islam.

But over the past few hundred years, it has come to be accepted. It is now interpreted as “interest that is way above legal or socially acceptable levels”.

In Islam, however, usury (riba) remains forbidden.

Last week, Malaysia made headlines around the world for yet another ignominy. Three men who had borrowed between RM1,500 and RM4,000 from Ah Long were found shackled by their feet and neck and chained to the wall inside two six-by-seven metre prisons.

In between beatings, they were given tap water and a few slices of bread a day, which they had been eating beside open toilets to survive. They had been in the cells for between 17 days and two months before police rescued them.

(I wish to add that some actually target attractive women and even prefer to get sex in return for settlement of the small debts. One pleading debtor was even advised to rob, ‘surely there must be some houses where nobody is in’! So, if a loan shark shows signs of being religious, you know he is a big hypocrite.)

Their quarry may be hardened crooks and likely members of merciless triads but the cops opted for a gentle approach, giving the loan sharks a 24-hour “grace period” to surrender.

My, what trust they have in such people and if I may add, what grace, in spite of the pressure they should really be under.
Our level of cynicism can only rise, especially when top police officers declare that they know the identities of the loan sharks and threaten to make their pictures public if they don’t come forward to give themselves up.

Let’s remind the cops one more time: Malaysians have become way too weary of listening to we-will-not-hesitate-to-act” statements.

Enforcement is a word with a simple meaning. If you know who they are, just nab them and charge them.

Illegal money lending is a crime. Whether the borrowers are irresponsible gamblers or desperate people who need money, is not the issue.

The pith of the matter is, Ah Long are raking in millions at the expense and misery of others through criminal means.

With the economy in recession, more people are likely to end up as loan shark bait, especially those involved in small businesses and facing problems in dealing with the banks.

Already, Ah Long are literally holding the ATM cards of many Malay- sians caught in dire straits.

These monthly wage earners have surrendered their cards as collateral for loans and come each payday, the Ah Long will withdraw payment and interest before dishing out whatever is left to the card owner.

Those under the Ah Long’s clutches include civil servants and factory workers. With so little money left for their families, there is little hope for such people to crawl out of debt.

Bernard Khoo has his way of suggesting to Hishamuddin in his blog:
zorro-unmasked: Just don't talk cock Hiss!

While fugitive Raja Petra gave a simple advice to Hishamuddin in his article:

Malaysia Today: No need to go to the ground, Sham, just talk to Sanusi

I have written about the problem of Ah Longs a month or so ago. In that piece I mentioned that about 30 years or so ago the Malay Chamber of Commerce did a study to assess the impact of Ah Longs on small-scale Malay businesses. The study was done in the small fishing town of Dungun in Terengganu.

What we found out was that nearly every Malay petty trader and fisherman in Dungun borrowed money from Ah Longs. The rate of interest they paid was 4% a day. So, for every RM1,000 they borrowed, they had to pay RM40 per day.

Every day, the Ah Longs would send ‘runners’ to collect RM40 from the petty traders and fishermen for every RM1,000 they borrowed. That’s all they had to pay, RM40 per day for every RM1,000 borrowed. The runners were not interested in collecting the principal. They just wanted the interest. The petty traders and fishermen can go on owing on the principal as long as they paid the RM40 for every RM1,000 they borrowed.

This meant the petty traders and fishermen would continue owing the Ah Longs the money they borrowed for the rest of their lives. And the Ah Longs would in turn continue collecting the interest without touching the principal for the rest of their lives. It was like making a pact with the devil. The devil owned you until the day you die and long after you have entered your grave when your family would then have to take over your debt and would have to continue servicing the interest on the never-never.

This matter was brought to the government’s attention but nothing was done about it. And that was 30 years or so ago.

Tan Sri Sanusi Junid can relate a similar story that involved him even earlier, about 40 years or so ago. At that time he was with the Chartered Bank. And the story goes as follows.

Sanusi had tendered his resignation and his Mat Salleh boss called him and asked what it would take to get him to withdraw his resignation and stay with the bank. Sanusi replied that if they gave him a few million Ringgit (equivalent to hundreds of millions today) to lend to the Kedah farmers under a special loan scheme then he would probably stay with the bank.

What Sanusi had discovered was that nearly every Kedah farmer owed money to the Ah Longs and were paying an exorbitant rate of interest just like what the petty traders and fishermen in Dungun were subjected to. The interest came to about 100% per year, which is still comparatively lower than the Dungun rate of interest, which was more than 100% per month.

The Chartered Bank agreed and Sanusi arranged for his officers to go down to the padi fields on motorcycles to look for farmers to lend money to. Eventually, they managed to disburse the money to all the farmers and free them from the clutches of the Ah Long.

Sanusi did not make press statements saying that he was ‘going to the ground’. He just got the bank to agree to give him a few million Ringgit and then he sent his officers into the padi fields to search for farmers in debt. They then gave the farmers loans so that the Ah Longs could be paid off in full and the farmers could be free of the blood-sucking rate or interest.

I suggest Sham just contact Sanusi and get Tan Sri to agree to become an adviser to the government. Sanusi has been handling this problem while Sham was still not wearing any underwear, so he knows what to do. Then set aside RM500 million or so under a special loan scheme to help fishermen, farmers and petty traders escape from their debts. Just go buy off their debts from the Ah Longs.

Even if the government has to finally write-off some of this debt it would still be worth it. If we can spend RM300 million a year on the Terengganu Monsoon Cup and a further hundreds of millions on F1 racing, bicycle races, Merdeka Day celebrations, Prophet Muhammad’s birthday celebrations, and whatnot, what is wrong with writing off RM100 million a year on a more worthy cause?

Raja Petra’s suggestion is most effective in cutting down the size of the Ah Long businesses but it does not solve the root of the problem. It will be just another quick fix by the government if the people refused to change their spending habits. I can understand those in the hardcore poverty group who will find it an enormous task getting out of the poverty trap. A low-interest loan to replace an existing evil loan will be like godsend to them.

The next problem would be ‘how to define and decide who should be entitled to such special loans?’ We have seen very often, whether in the case of low cost units or just about anything where the demand far exceeds supply, hanky panky can be found.

On people’s spending habits, I have found, for example, a former rich man’s wife living as a single mother (husband absconded to avoid ah longs), who had Astro and broadband subscriptions when she was still living in a rented government flat! Just to show how people prioritise even in times of hardship. As a comparison, at the time I was still using tmnet, did not and still do not have Astro and air-conditioners. If I were asked to help, how would I feel?

For a long-term solution, education has been proven effective in raising the standards of living by putting them in the executive and professional levels.

I would also suggest that the Inland Revenue and the Local Government Ministry (surprise, surprise, for being responsible for the money lenders’ licences) should look into their finances. Had the licensed moneylenders been responsible in keeping to their reasonable rates, they would not be able to gain exceptionally from their business.

If, for example, someone with Rm100,000 capital, was able to buy a few properties after a few years, he is likely to have been charging exorbitant rates, and also, likely to have under-declared his high incomes, which is where Inland Revenue should come in. The IR would have to decide when faced with the unlikely illegal earnings declared (as in interest from exorbitant rates) whether to treat them like earnings from prostitutes in the unlikely event they are declared!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The elusive definition of 'Malay'

Art Harun:

The supreme law of this country is our Federal Constitution (“FC”). That means every law and policy must be in adherence with the FC. Otherwise, such law or policy would be void for being unconstitutional.

We therefore have to look at the provisions of the FC to determine these so called rights of the Malays.

Generally, article 8 provides that all persons are equal before the law. I say “generally” because there are exceptions to this rule.

Clause 2 of article 8 says that there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender except as expressly authorised by the FC.

So, there you go. All of us are only equal up to the extent as provided by the FC. This means we may be discriminated against if the FC expressly allows it.

the rest of his article:
Malaysia-Today.net - Visiting the Malay ‘Rights’

I wish to highlight the following paragraphs:

Let’s cut a long story short. Article 153 of the FC is right at the centre of this issue. It is a fairly long article, with 10 clauses in it.

Basically, these are what that article provides.

Firstly, it says that HRH the YDP Agong has the responsibility to safeguard the “special position” of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Notice that the words used are “special position”, not “special rights.” Notice also that the safeguarding is not only restricted to the Malays but also the natives of Sabah and Sarawak (the “Natives”).
But that is not all. It also says that HRH the YDP Agong is also responsible to safeguard the “legitimate interests” of other communities.
Notice the differences at what is being safeguarded. As for the Malays and the Natives, it is their special position. While in respect of other communities, it is their legitimate interests.

At this juncture, we should know what Malay is. Article 160 defines Malay as a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language and conforms to Malay custom.

It is not a scientific definition. It is one of the most absurd definitions I had ever come across in any written law. How could you define Malay as a person who speaks Malay and conforms to Malay custom when the very word which was sought to be defined in that definition is the word “Malay”? It is like defining a “mango” as “a fruit which tastes like mango”. Anyway, I digress.

and his conclusion:

I think, rather, what is being questioned is the policy which underlies the exercise of the power as opposed to the power itself.
It must be noted that article 153 repeatedly provides that HRH the YDP Agong shall exercise his power as “he may deem reasonable”. Perhaps such “reasonableness” is the key.

We profess to have a democratic Government and system of politics. If so, surely Government policies, especially those which touch the very basic and fundamental rights of the people, such as the right to education for all citizens, could be discussed, analysed and even questioned.

And surely, a good Government whose heart is with the people and the country would not dismiss such questions nonchalantly.

Otherwise, I suppose, the people could effect a change in such policies by changing the policy makers.

Haris Ibrahim in his People’s Parliament advised others to read Art Harun's article and added:

I want to make one point of clarification.

Art refers to the definition of “Malay” in Article 160(2) of the Constitution.
Let me reproduce that relevant provision here.
160 (2) In this constitution, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions have the meanings hereby respectively assigned to them, that is to say:
…“Malay” means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom and -
(a) was before Merdeka Day born in the Federation or in Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or in Singapore, or is on that day domiciled in the Federation or in Singapore; or
(b) is the issue of such a person;

Article 160 is an interpretation clause.

You will note that Article 160(2) expressly states that the meanings of the various words sought to be interpreted in that clause will not apply when, in the Constitution, the context in which the word appears would suggest a meaning different from that prescribed in clause (2). The first thing to note, then, is that the meaning ascribed to the words in clause (2), including “Malay”, are not necessarily exhaustive and must give way when the context demands it.

The second thing to note is that the meanings ascribed to the words in clause (2) are for the purposes of interpreting those words as and when they appear in the Constitution, and the Constitution only and that too, if the meaning ascribed is not displaced by the context.

In other words, the meanings ascribed here in clause (2), including “Malay”, cannot, as a matter of law, be applied and fixed to other laws enacted where similar words appear, simply because the Constitution stipulates the meaning for those words when they appear in the Constitution. It must be understood that these meanings have been ascribed for the purpose of the Constitution and the Constitution only.

The word “Malay”, as defined in the Constitution, has as such been defined so as to afford an understanding of the meaning of that word, as and when that word appears in the Constituion, unless the context affords a different meaning, in which event the latter meaning would have force.

It must not be thought that the definition of “Malay” in Article 160(2) is exhaustive and applicable everytime the word appears in any written law.

After all that, do you think the ordinary folks bother with the explanations? This is likely to be a common non-Malay or non-Bumiputera reaction:

Aiyah, they control everything, they say who is malay, let them say lah. They want to give everything to them let them lah. What they are interested is for us to mind our businesses, to do well and our taxes paid, and then keep our mouths shut, ok?

The current debate on unity government which seems more like Malay unity government is a non-issue to most non-Malays, because at the back of our minds it is already factored in. We do not expect much because we cannot, so we won't be too disappointed whichever way it turns out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's up? Dutch...

In 1965, when we first moved into Million Settlement, Off Jalan Ipoh, KL, there was a fairly new grocery shop run by a Teochew family.

One day, a white man came to the shop and the old boss told his nephew in Teochew,
“Ang mor lung, teo hiau suie” (literal translation means ‘red haired person’ but generally means ‘white man’ for the first part, and ‘must know how to charge’ for the second part). He had a shock when the white man replied in Teochew, “Ang mor lung ng si lung meh?” (White man not the same as normal man?)

The following write-up in The Star, on this Dutch man in Penang really brought back memories because of his similar experience:
Ang mor gao’ authors Hokkien dictionary
By TAN SIN CHOW

WHEN Dutchman Luc de Gijzel overheard a shopowner saying “Ang mor gao lai liao (Caucasian coming), his immediate response was “Lu bor leh mao (You are being impolite).

“But of course, I said it in jest. The shopowner was obviously taken aback knowing that I actually understood what he meant. Both of us immediately broke into laughter,” said the 39-year-old de Gijzel who is the author of Penang Hokkien Pocket dictionary.

The dictionary, which de Gijzel spent one-and-a-half years to compile, comprises more than 4,000 Hokkien words that come with English definitions.

He attributed the success in releasing the dictionary to his teacher Lee Siew Har, who helped him with the compilation of the dialect, and a few Penangites who vetted through the dictionary before its release.

Astonishing: De Gijzel showing his Penang Hokkien pocket dictionary behind a banner that says ''Whats up?'' in Hokkien during the launch of his book in Penang.
A factory manager by profession, de Gijzel moved to Penang five years ago with his wife Angelique de Haas, 36, from the Hague in Holland.


His two children Beau, three, and Hein, eight months, were born here.


His romance with the dialect started four years ago when he attended basic Hokkien lessons at Penang YMCA on Macalister Road. The two-hour lesson was conducted once a week. “The urge to learn is innate in all human beings.


“As I was making progress with the classic dialect, I was eager to learn more. However, what frustrated me was that I could not find additional reading materials, both in books or even on the Internet. It was then the idea crept in. I decided to come out with a guide book (dictionary) of my own,” he said when launching his dictionary at Alpha Utara Gallery on Friday.


De Gijzel took pride in the fact that the dictionary was not only meant for foreigners, but also for Penangites including tourists as well.


He felt that the dictionary would definitely come in handy for locals as the Hokkien dialect in Penang has evolved and is no longer spoken in its original form.


He said the dialect is now peppered with a little bit of Bahasa Malaysia and English.


“To me, the classic dialect is charming. Though it remains the undisputed lingua franca of most Penangites, the dialect has been peppered with other languages ever since the early Chinese settlers arrived here. Even the locals could not get certain Hokkien words right,” he said.


De Gijzel said that he seldom spoke in Hokkien as each time he conversed in the dialect, the local people would answer him in English.