How should we judge a government?

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

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

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

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

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

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

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

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

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

Prevent bullying now!

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

“Bureaucratic ass-covering mode”...

"This is what Dr Theodore Postol, professor of Science, Technology and International Security calls “bureaucratic ass-covering mode”. Edano, and the lumbering bureaucratic safety monster in general, simply aren’t sure what the hell is going on in Tokyo’s water, rather than give one answer and be damned by history, it provides two, entirely contradictory answers. What better insurance policy than that! The water is safe and unsafe – avoid it and drink up!"

I found this analogy in the article 'There's no such thing as safe radiation' by Sam Biddle in Gizmodo.

This pic is irrelevant to the subject matter, for effects only.

"Since Fukushima failed, the Japanese government and power plant reps have obscured the danger of the Fukushima crisis-and it is a crisis. The word “safe” has been tossed about loosely. Unfortunately, when it comes to radiation, there’s no such thing.

Now, there is no cloud of lethal radioactive vapour headed toward your house right now. If you’re outside of Japan, as I write this, there’s no evidence that you’re in any imminent danger from what’s spewing out of Fukushima.

Nothing I’ll write here is meant to scare you, because we shouldn’t be scared.

But we shouldn’t be ignorant either. And, largely, we are. Japanese authority figures have taken steps, whether deliberately or out of pure ineptitude, to whitewash the danger of the Fukushima’s radiation. Speaking out of both sides of his mouth, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano said that Tokyo’s drinking water was both safe and unsafe. Levels of iodine 131, a radioactive isotope that clogs your thyroid gland and can have devastating effects children, was found to be 110 becquerels per liter above the safe level. The evacuation zone surrounding the plant was expanded by 11km – but only as a voluntary, not mandatory move. The government has advanced and retreated on the danger of irradiated food, with clear internal discord. The radiation limit deemed unsafe was suddenly erased and replaced with a new figure, on the fly. And just today, the TEPCO said it’ll start dumping thousands of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean – an act they’re saying poses ”no major health risk”.

Nevermind that, before the Fukushima disaster, the average person outside of a physics classroom had zero idea in radioactive hell what a becquerel is. Nevermind that the entire concept of a safe level of radiation has been shown to be demonstrably elastic..."


Well, locally in Malaysia, our political leaders refused to learn from history (Asian Rare Earth in Ipoh, Perak during Dr. Mahathir's watch)
and gave approvals (despite strong objections and public demonstrations) to Lynas in Gebeng, Pahang (home state of present PM and Tun's protege, Najib Tun Razak).

Without going into details well documented elsewhere, it is clear that we are like the proverbial 'fools rush in where angels fear to tread', simply because we allow processing of rare earth to start despite not having sorted out what to do with its waste! Every sane person can see that Australia did not want such a plant, what made our decision-makers think that they will take back waste from it? To put it simply and bluntly, it is like letting someone shit before we have a proper toilet for him.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Koon's critique on Water management in Perak

If a very wealthy senior citizen's letters were ignored by the former and present BN MB of Perak, as well as the Perak Water Board or Lembaga Air Perak, and the BN-controlled mainstream media, PM Najib's slogan Rakyat tidak dipinggirkan rings hollow indeed. ...unless it is official policy not to respond to rich citizens, only poor ones!

But this rich citizen has proven time and again, he has the rakyat's interest at heart (being a generous philantropist), and has excellent credentials as founder of listed construction companies (Mudajaya and Gamuda), who knows how best to save costs in mega projects for the state of Perak in particular, and Malaysia in general. But good advice seems to fall on deaf ears time and again.

For ignoring Mr. Koon Yew Yin's well-meaning advice in several instances, I cannot help but draw a conclusion that BN never had intentions to save costs for the country... for reasons best known to themselves.

'I refer to Ipoh Echo front page article, 16-30 Nov 2012 ‘Perak Water Board, doing it right the first time’. I wish to point out that building the Sultan Azlan Shah dam across Sungai Ulu Kinta was not the right thing to do.

About eight years ago, I wrote to the former Perak Menteri Besar Tajol Rosli Ghazali to inform that since Mudajaya constructed the filtration system at Parit to extract water from Sungai Perak (the largest source of water to the greater Ipoh region), there was no need to build the dam across Sungai Kinta. As we all know Sungai Kinta is only a small stream in comparison with Sungai Perak.

He did not respond to my letter.

Subsequently I wrote him another letter that he should get a reputable independent engineering consultant to prove me wrong so that when he increased the water rate to recover the additional cost of more than one billion ringgit (this cost includes the dam construction, new filtration system, new reservoirs, distribution pipes, etc.) consumers would not feel cheated.

There was no response from the MB or his aides to this letter too.

In view of the heavy and unnecessary financial burden put on the Perak rakyat, I spoke to the press and pointed out that savings through other methods could possibly amount to half the money spent on the water expansion project in Kinta. The mainstream media predictably failed to publicize my complaint.

Although there is a new administration in Perak, the issue of the mismanagement of Perak’s water resources is as relevant today as it was eight years ago...'

More in CPI: Perak's water system: Doing it wrong


Anyone forgot about his white BMW 6 series WVV 5391?

This car has been left in the carpark below Boulevard Offices, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur for the past 3 weeks! Those who are aware of its existence are wondering aloud whether it was forgotten (case of Alzheimer?), deliberately left there while on an overseas trip; or had been used for dubious purposes...

The luxury car...

The exact location in the carpark...

The message from someone who forwarded this news to me:

Does anyone know of anybody looking for a missing BMW, number plate WVV 5391? I noticed that we have had this BMW parked under the Boulevard Offices, Mid Valley City at C56 P2 for at least the past 3 weeks since early November 2012.
So, our group of colleagues have started to make various assumptions:
Assumption #1: The owner of this car is very rich and has a variety of expensive cars but his/her house has ran out of space, so he/she’s parked the car in Mid Valley City only to almost entirely forget about his/her car.
Our recommendation: Please come and retrieve your car. I’m sure you can park it at an even more obscure location like Mont’ Kiara, I mean have you even seen the number of residents in each condo block there? I’ll bet its pretty easy to find an empty spot there.
Assumption #2: Being in Malaysia, there may be a slight possibility that this vehicle has been stolen and been used for some illegal activity. This is possibly after the heist/other illegal activity the criminals have left the car in Mid Valley City.
Our recommendation: Please come and retrieve your car! Make sure you make a police report as well to assist our police in getting more information on any illegal activities that have taken place using this vehicle.
Assumption #3: The owner came from a drunken session somewhere else, continued over in Mid Valley City and took a taxi back. He/she cannot remember where he/she put the car, so a report has been made, but no one knows where the car is.
Our recommendation: Your car is here! In Mid Valley City! Please come and retrieve your car… PDRM, if you are looking for the said car, please note that it is in Mid Valley City.
Assumption #4: The shopper has been lost for the past 3 weeks and is still looking for his/her car.
Our recommendation: Your car is here!


Who is really the master?

Courtesy of

This reminds me of dog owners having to feed their dogs daily... and picking up their poos too! So who is really the boss?

PAS, please don't alarm the non-Muslims

Based on past general elections, the number of seats PAS could garner would not be sufficient for it to impose Hudud law or for its President to be PM, unless supported by its other coalition partners, PKR and DAP. Yet, the mainstream media took advantage of PAS intention to have its President as PM should Pakatan win the GE, to play on the fears of non-Muslims that the next step would be Hudud law. Never mind that this contradicts the earlier agreement among coalition leaders that Anwar Ibrahim is the chosen one.

Then we read reports about a Chinese unisex hair salon being summoned for contravening by-laws in Kelantan, followed by municipal officer's insistence that they will not allow that even for non-Muslims. I had a hard time listening to fellow retirees who seem to agree that this alone will drive away support from non-Muslims, not only for PAS, but to its other partners, PKR and DAP. I am glad President for PAS has just stated that the by-law should not include non-Muslims.

In reality, I can imagine the minority non-Muslims living in Kelantan are already mentally prepared for the stricter Muslim laws for umpteen years. If they could not take it, then they would have moved to more conducive states where for eg. 4-D outlets are found all over the place. But what happened to one unisex salon was seized upon by the msm and blown out of proportion, while MCA thinks it is more important than living with radioactive waste near Lynas.

Harakah: MCA keeps busy with latest cause celebre

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Will UN be the Big Brother in Internet?

According to L. Gordon Crovitz, unless US gets the upper-hand, China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries might hijack a UN agency and end up controlling the free nature of the Internet... highlights:

The U.N.'s Internet Sneak Attack
Letting the Internet be rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla.

Who runs the Internet? For now, the answer remains no one, or at least no government, which explains the Web's success as a new technology. But as of next week, unless the U.S. gets serious, the answer could be the United Nations.

Many of the U.N.'s 193 member states oppose the open, uncontrolled nature of the Internet. Its interconnected global networks ignore national boundaries, making it hard for governments to censor or tax. And so, to send the freewheeling digital world back to the state control of the analog era, China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are trying to hijack a U.N. agency that has nothing to do with the Internet.

The self-regulating Internet means no one has to ask for permission to launch a website, and no government can tell network operators how to do their jobs. The arrangement has made the Internet a rare place of permissionless innovation. As former Federal Communications Commission Chairman William Kennard recently pointed out, 90% of cooperative "peering" agreements among networks are "made on a handshake," adjusting informally as needs change.

"The Internet is highly complex and highly technical," Sally Wentworth of the Internet Society told me recently, "yet governments are the only ones making decisions at the ITU, putting the Internet at their mercy." She says the developers and engineers who actually run the Internet find it "mind boggling" that governments would claim control. As the Internet Society warns, "Technology moves faster than any treaty process ever can."

Google has started an online petition for a "free and open Internet" saying: "Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future." The State Department's top delegate to the Dubai conference, Terry Kramer, has pledged that the U.S. won't let the ITU expand its authority to the Internet. But he hedged his warning in a recent presentation in Washington: "We don't want to come across like we're preaching to others."

To the contrary, the top job for the U.S. delegation at the ITU conference is to preach the virtues of the open Internet as forcefully as possible. Billions of online users are counting on America to make sure that their Internet is never handed over to authoritarian governments or to the U.N.



GDP: Gross Distortion of Production statistics?

GDP or Gross Domestic Product, is one of the universally accepted statistical standards for measuring a nation's economy for a year; for comparing year on year; for comparing with other nations' to evaluate its standing among others, and so on.

For ordinary folks like you and me, we take GDP figures for granted. We often hear political leaders quoting projected GDP growth at a certain percentage. Obviously, a higher percentage compared to previous year's is a good sign that the economy is improving. But then again, how good are those statistics from which the GDP are calculated? There are so many assumptions and estimates required before any meaningful statistics can be used that it is another case of 'the more you know, the more you feel you don't know'!

The following highlights of an article by Morten Jerven show how unreliable some statistics could be...

Lies, damn lies and GDP
Or, how Ghana went from being one of the poorest countries in the world one day to an aspiring middle-income one the next

Two years ago Ghana's statistical service announced it was revising its GDP estimates upwards by over 60%, suggesting that in the previous estimates about US$13bn worth's of economic activity had been missed. As a result, Ghana was suddenly upgraded from a low to lower-middle-income country. In response, Todd Moss, the development scholar and blogger at the Center of Global Development in Washington DC, exclaimed: "Boy, we really don't know anything!"

How good are these numbers?

...All of the central questions in development revolve around the measure of the production and consumption of goods and services. This is expressed in an aggregate composite metric called the Gross Domestic Product, which is used to rank and rate the wealth and progress of nations. It is the most widely used measure of economic activity, yet little is known about how this metric is produced and misused in debates about African economic development.
...This is not just a matter of technical accuracy – the arbitrariness of the quantification process produces observations with very large errors and levels of uncertainty. This "numbers game" has taken on a dangerously misleading air of accuracy, and the resulting figures are used to make critical decisions that allocate scarce resources. International development actors are making judgments based on erroneous statistics. Governments are not able to make informed decisions because existing data are too weak or the data they need do not exist.

The importance of the base year

The base year is very important in three respects. Firstly, the GDP estimates will be expressed in constant prices for the base year. Second, the index number applies, so that a sector that was very economically important in the base year will continue to appear very important despite structural changes that may have occurred since the last base year...

...What about the comparisons with other countries? How should we compare the income and growth of Ghana with Nigeria, Kenya or other economies in the region? The lack of comparability of data and methods in national accounting practices in Sub-Saharan Africa is disturbing. According to my own survey, only 10 of these countries have a base year that is less than a decade old. When I compared statistics available from the World Bank and those published by the national statistical agencies that actually compile the GDP statistics there was an alarming level of discrepancy. A comparison of the data published in other sources further added support to the conclusion that with the current uneven application of methods and poor availability of data, any ranking of countries according to GDP is misleading.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Charity... relatively speaking

NST columnist, Ahmad A. Talib, was full of praise for our current flavour of cronyism, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary:

"With colleagues from the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, I flew to Nias, got permission to move the orphan and sent him straight to Syed Mokhtar's orphanage, fully sponsored. Syed Mokhtar took less than a minute to take the boy under his wing.
Then, there's the story about a couple who died in a road accident in Kedah recently, leaving behind seven children. At a short notice, Syed Mokhtar dutifully took all seven into his care."

"I believe a person has every reason to pursue wealth. Most, if not everyone, have a right to pursue wealth and prosperity. But the real test is what one does with all that wealth.

Syed Mokhtar, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal, to name a few whom I know personally, have charity as one of the fundamental pillars of their business empires. Really, you can't go wrong with that."

"As the organiser, I had written to Syed Mokhtar for sponsorship. In less than one day, he presented the cheque, upon which the conference was successfully held."

Read more: Get to know the man through his book - Columnist - New Straits Times

Previously, Kalimullah (another known crony) was praising himself for inviting someone who seemed hungry and could not afford to eat, into KFC where he was dining with his family.

While it is commendable that the above-mentioned super rich men showed compassion to some fellow human beings, in terms of what they obtained for being cronies of the leadership (past and present), there is nothing to shout about.

Relatively speaking, those acts of compassion and charity cannot be compared with an ordinary person who forgoes his entitlement to say, BR1M or government scholarship, so that another more deserving person could benefit in his place.

The following is a graphic of Syed Mokhtar's empire, lifted from Facebook:


AES: Another Enrichment Scheme for some cronies

Just like Lynas factory, no initial need to get public feedback first, just invest (at the usual highly inflated prices), the approvals were certain.

Youtube: (English Edition) Rakyat Bersuara: Gotcha! You Are On AES
Host: Adrian Yeo Guest: William Leong Jee Keen (MP For Selayang)

In my humble opinion, though we have no control over this now, we can try our best to drive within speed limits. For each and every motorist caught by AES, between now and the next GE, hopefully, we will get another vote against BN. We know BN will never change (do you trust Najib?), so we should not give them another mandate to lord over us. It is a wonder how BN could convince us for the last 12 elections! I believe the time has come, with the accumulation of dissatisfied voters over the years.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

PTPTN: Pity Pity Nasional?

PTPTN or Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional is going to be the next major scandal involving tens of billions Ringgit, without anyone being held responsible. It looks like a mess perpetrated by those responsible so that it will not be easy to sort out. Again, it looks like responsible borrowers who paid their dues lost out to those irresponsible who might not have to repay since they are no longer shown as debtors in the system.

It is easy to blame the system; the different computer software used to upgrade which involved migration of data; the changes in persons in charge, each one not responsible for proper handing over of duties; the 'tidak apa' attitude of civil servants who cannot be sacked, only transferred if found guilty of any wrongdoing, and so on.

Many years ago, when computers were in their infancy, auditors were trained to 'audit through the system' and not round it. Basically, most people did not know what was inside the computer, only print-outs which provided audit trail. So unless we test to confirm that the system works, merely relying on the print-outs was meaningless. It has been a long time since we have heard of GIGO or Garbage In Garbage Out when referring to computers. Yet, this basic fact still holds true. No matter how well designed, a computer software system depends on accurate and correct data input before it can generate meaningful reports. If inaccurate or false data were inputted, then unreliable reports will be generated.

A few years ago, BG land office was in a mess in terms of quit rent record. Many property owners were issued current year bills with arrears of previous years which went back some ten years before. When I questioned an officer, he sheepishly admitted that they had to rely on our receipts to update their record! So for those used to not keeping receipts they had to pay again. Now, the system seems working without any complaints that I know of.

The PTPTN problem should have been sorted out years ago. Looks like the habit of passing the buck and procrastination seems to have snowballed the basic problem of proper record keeping to this alarming level. If banks can do it, why can't our government? Again, it seems to be that of not knowing what is really happening, with the minister, his deputy, his assistants and heads of department pretending to know what they are doing.

Malaysiakini's article which prompted this post:
Dirty data behing PTPTN's mountain of debt


Saturday, November 24, 2012

I don't want to be part of your fooking ecosystem

Years ago, my friend was explaining to a Yemeni that he was Chinese but of Hakka dialect and that I was Chinese but Fookin (Cantonese for Hokien) dialect. That we were in Leeds, Yorkshire, where the accent was distinctly different from Queen's English, made the Yemeni to laugh out loud and exclaiming, "You mean he is fookin?"

Well, jokes aside, the many different manufacturers of hardware and providers of software with proprietary rights to individualistic designs meant users are likely to face problems in cross-using applications.

With my recent introduction to an outdated smart phone, the mere transfer of sim card had caused me problem of transferring all my contacts to the new phone. To make matters worse, each contact was copied 3 times resulting in copying of only a small number instead of the full list. Even when I tried to copy from the phone to the card, the memory was insufficient to take them all. This is just an example, though not relevant to the topic of discussion here, to illustrate the likely problems of changing from one brand like Apple to another like Samsung. To those who use many applications, the problems would be magnified.

"I was chatting with a friend who expressed what I'm finding is a fairly common opinion.

Well, yes, I'd love to move to Android - but all my content is in iTunes.
I discovered that it wasn't apps which were the problem - buying them again is a pain, but most are free. It's media content which traps people into staying with services that they no longer want.

Music, movies, TV, and podcast subscriptions. All tied up in Apple's little ecosystem. A very pretty noose to keep people chained to its hardware..."

Besides, incompatibility between different manufacturers, there is also the likely problem of continuity either by manufacturer's unilateral decision or force of circumstances.

"I fear what will happen when a provider shuts down a service. I joke about Apple going bust - even if they stay solvent, what's to stop them wiping all your music and movie purchases? After all, they shuttered their Mobile Me service with barely any warning and destroyed all the data their paying customers were hosting there.
Adobe killed their DRM servers with only 9 months notice - effectively stopping anyone from reading books they had bought.
Amazon wipes Kindles.
Google took Google Video to the woodshed and shot it in the head - along with Buzz, Wave, and who know how many other products.
Microsoft set up PlaysForSure - and then let it die, trapping millions of music files on devices which are no longer supported..."


Bersih is not Kotor...

Don't let our mainstream media fool us. I have seen a few times on our national television channels, video clips (edited to suit BN's propaganda), portraying Bersih 2.0 as Kotor, accusing them as the cause of chaos during their peaceful demonstrations.

"The Bersih 2.0 movement does not want to cause an Arab Spring in Malaysia, Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan told CNN in a rare interview on international television aired here this morning.

She stressed that the election watchdog group she heads only wants a clean polls process to ensure a democratically-elected government.

Ambiga told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during the New York interview that Bersih 2.0 is not opposed to the possibility of the present government returning to power after the next polls, provided that its leaders are elected fairly..."

'But asked if she was afraid, Ambiga told Amanpour that she had little choice in the matter.
“I mean, the choices are this: you either give into the intimidation, which means you undermine the whole movement, or you stand up to it.”...'

Bersih not looking for an Arab Spring, Ambiga tells CNN’s Amanpour

CNN interview by Amanpour

Don't count your chickens before they are hatched

The last general election was the most embarrassing for Gerakan, being incumbents and having lost the state government of Penang. Prior to the elections, there were open disagreement over who should be Chief Minister, a position taken for granted to be decided by the party!

With the impending GE13 (though date has not been fixed, Parliament will have to be dissolved by late April next year), PAS has shown their wish for their President, Hadi Awang, to be the Prime Minister if Pakatan won. This is certainly not in line with earlier agreement among the coalition partners that Anwar Ibrahim should be PM. Already, the BN-controlled mainstream media had made full use of the disagreement to give the impression that Pakatan is in disarray. It was likened to be that of counting the chickens before they are hatched. If PR lost because of this, the only saving grace would be that they were only challengers and not incumbents, unlike Gerakan in Penang.

According to Dr. Hsu Dar Ren,

"The support among the Chinese and Indian Malaysians for PR should not be taken for granted. One of the reasons for the level of support shown is that many of these people believe that even if PR comes into power with little government experience, it has at least a very experienced leader in Anwar Ibrahim, who can be  accepted by all the ethnic groups.

While many Chinese have no qualms in voting for PAS candidates in the last election, it was because they supported a coalition in which PAS is only an equal partner and not the dominant one that would head the group. If PAS president is to be the next PM, PAS would  be perceived to be the dominant force inside the coalition, a prospect which may not be unlike that of BN  having UMNO as the dominant force.  If that is the case, expect less of these people to support PAS next election, thus weakening the prospect of PR becoming the next government."

Will PR become the proverbial rabbit?


Ong Kian Ming on Chua Tee Yong

I just could not resist having this graphic shown again, since Tee Yong is still so obsessed with Talam...

"The cause of CTY’s massive loss of what credibility he may have had is well known – the so-called RM1 billion Talam ‘scandal’. When he first announced this ‘scandal’, many of us in the opposition were worried that he had actually uncovered an issue that could potentially sink the Pakatan government in Selangor. He displayed tremendous confidence which we now know was actually ignorance masked by cockiness. The utter baselessness of his accusations has been exposed by my colleagues in Pakatan. I don’t need to go into the details here except to say that he has been faulting the Pakatan Selangor state government for trying to retrieve debts owed to the state, something which the BN federal government has failed to do time and time again because of ‘obligations’ to cronies such as those behind the PKFZ scandal, the NFC scandal, the MAS bailout, and a long list of other real scandals. The public at large, with access to alternative sources of information, have also figured out that CTY is barking and continues to bark up the wrong tree, especially after the recent release by the Selangor state government of the Talam White Paper..."



Thursday, November 22, 2012

A bit on applying for replacement of IC and driving licence

For being careless or absentminded, I had to go through the process of applying for my lost or misplaced NRIC and driving licence. Of course, before that, I had to satisfy myself that all the likely places had been checked. Luckily, I had a separate holder for those cards (incl. an Esso Smiles card) and all my other important bank cards were in my wallet.

I left my house at 8 am and walked to the BG district police station. If not for the lone police manning the counter being distracted now and again, two copies of the police report were printed within minutes: one for me to sign and the other, a rubber-stamped copy for my use when applying for replacement of IC. The time it took me to walk to the station and to get the report took only half an hour. The Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara or National Registration Department was just across the road. That is the advantage of living in a small town, away from the hustle and bustle of cities.

At the NRD, I showed my police report at the counter and was given a form to fill. It was a simple one: to fill in name, NRIC number, address and reason for application. I was then given a queue number. When it was my turn, I had to show my police report, and my photocopy of previous IC was a help. I was told that because it was my fault for the loss and not because of being robbed, I had to pay a penalty of Rm110 for a first timer (Rm210 for the second time, Rm310 for the third, and so on). Luckily, I was asked my age and a colleague said as warga mas or senior citizen, I was entitled to a waiver of the penalty for a first timer. Had I been robbed, then I need to pay only Rm10 replacement fee. Well, a lady officer had to electronically 'thumbprint' her approval for the waiver. Then I was asked to go to another counter where I had my picture taken. Before that, I had to put on a black vest and to button up my T-shirt to ensure my digital picture looked more presentable. I was then asked to wait and then given a temporary IC and a notification to be used when the new IC is ready in two months' time. I was out of the office at 9.10 am, in time to join my friend for breakfast!

In the afternoon, I had to go to the JPJ office in Ipoh for my replacement driving licence. Though the journey took half an hour each way, the actual process took only 10 minutes. I brought along spare copies of my photo (only one is required) and the police report. I was given a form to fill and told to get a photocopy of my temporary IC, which could be done at a service centre situated in another building. When I submitted my application, I was told that I had to pay a fine of Rm20. I did not mind...come to think of it, it was high time that I had my licence renewed because it was more than 10 years old! I had been renewing it for two 5-year periods and the latest, 3-year period, at our local post office.

Update Nov 4, 2014: For the benefit of those who lost their IC and driving licence, the police report and applications for renewal of both can be done at a Urban Transformation Centre or UTC.


Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I can still remember when I used this phrase as a teenager, I was told that this applies to parent-child relationships rather than boy-girl relationships. I was also told that in the case of boy-girl relationships, 'out of sight, out of mind' is more likely.

The following test shall reveal the difference between the two types of love mentioned:

A professor gave his class (50% male and 50% female) two questions.

Question 1:
There is a man who loved this beautiful woman. But one day, she was disfigured in a freak accident, will he still love her?

Question 2:
There is a woman who loved this wealthy man. But one day, he lost all his money due to financial crisis. Will she still love him?

The answers by the class:
1. 30% Yes 40% May be 30% No
2. 20% Yes 30% May be 50% No

The professor commented that the answers suggest man is at a higher risk of losing his love when he loses his money, compared to women losing their love when they lose their beauty.

Then he asked, "Have you all thought about the relationship the man and woman had in the two questions? Did you all assume it was a romantic relationship between a man and a woman?"

"Yes....are they not?" the class replied.

The professor said, "Answer the questions again - this time, assuming the relationship is between a father and a daughter for question 1 and for question 2, a relationship between a mother and a son."

This time, the answers were:
1. 100% Yes
2. 100% Yes

So now you know the meaning of true love. :-)

A popular poser often asked: if your mother and wife fell overboard, who will you save first?
Someone once replied: "Of course my mother, because I have only one; I can always find another wife." But I think his reply would depend on whether he said it in front of his mother or his wife!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Your annual dementia test

It does not matter if you have done it before...

"Good afternoon my dear friends. It's that time of year again when we take our annual senior citizen test. My name is Professor Smrtypantz and I will be conducting this test today.

Read the questions carefully and write your answer down BEFORE you scroll down to discover if you were correct."

Please don't cheat.....cheaters never prosper. Even if you do cheat you STILL might be losing your mind to senility!

Exercise for the brain is as important as exercise of the muscles. As we grow older, it's important to keep mentally alert. If you don't use it, you lose it! Below is a very private way to gauge your loss or non loss of intelligence.

Take the test presented here to determine if you're losing it or not. The spaces below are so you don't see the answers until you've made your answer. OK, relax, clear your mind and begin."

1. What do you put in a toaster?

Answer: 'bread.' If you said 'toast,' give it up now and do something else. Try not to hurt yourself. If you said, bread, go to Question 2.

2. Say 'silk ' five times. Now spell 'silk.' What do cows drink?

Answer: Cows drink water. If you said 'milk,' don't attempt the next question.
Your brain is over stressed and may even overheat. Content yourself with reading a more appropriate literature such as Good Housekeeping.
Okay, you're confused. We are doing your "Yearly Dementia Test", I ask a question and you answer it to the best of your ability. You have been instructed NOT TO CHEAT...
However, if you said 'water', proceed to question 3.

3. If a red house is made from red wood and a blue house is made from blue wood and a pink house is made from pink wood and a black house is made from black wood, What is a green house made from?

Answer: Greenhouses are made from glass. If you said 'green wood,' why are you still reading these??? Are you feeling somewhat depressed? Watch a little TV to calm your nerves...have a snooze!
If you said 'glass,' go on to Question 4.

4. It's twenty years ago, and a plane is flying at 20,000 feet over Germany (If you will recall, Germany at the time was politically divided into West Germany and East Germany.) Anyway, during the flight, two engines fail. The pilot, realizing that the last remaining engine is also failing, decides on a crash landing procedure. Unfortunately the engine fails before he can do so and the plane fatally crashes smack in the middle of 'no man's land' between East Germany and West Germany . Where would you bury the survivors? East Germany, West Germany , or no man's land'?

Answer: You don't bury survivors. If you said ANYTHING else, you're a dunce and you must stop. You're not still driving are you? If you said, 'You don't bury survivors', proceed to the next question.

5. Without using a calculator - You are driving a bus from London to Milford Haven in Wales . In London , 17 people get on the bus. In Reading , six people get off the bus and nine people get on. In Swindon , two people get off and four get on. In Cardiff , 11 people get off and 16 people get on. In Swansea , three people get off and five people get on. In Carmathen, six people get off and three get on. You then arrive at Milford Haven. What was the name of the bus driver?

Answer: Oh, for crying out loud! Don't you remember your own name? It was YOU!! Go back and reread the question! It's been lovely having you in our community, however, for our own safety we have decided to put you in a senior's home and throw away the key!!


Dr M: Just give the PM post to Karpal Singh

"The intention of PAS to make its President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as Prime Minister should the opposition pact win the general election shows that they are squabbling among themselves.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad quipped that the post should be given to DAP chairman Karpal Singh instead.

"Even before forming the government, they are already squabbling, later (if) they form the government not only Hadi, Anwar (Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) and even Karpal Singh too would want to be PM.

"Just give it to him. (It's) tough, he has struggled too long...should give Karpal Singh (to be) Malaysia's Prime Minister, yang amat berhormat...upon retiring he becomes a Tun," he told reporters after launching the Gaza Emergency Fund, here today..."


"JUST GIVE IT TO HIM" - Dr. M says Karpal should be PM

I was watching the television news when Tun was interviewed. I found his statement nauseating simply because we all know he had been PM of Malaysia for 22 years out of 55. For someone who got the post because he was considered Malay enough to be acceptable as PM, I would expect him to be ever so grateful instead of being jealous of others being considered for the post of PM.

Though some people have considered such disagreement among Pakatan leaders as 'counting the chickens before they are hatched', I still believe it was the intention of BN leaders (past and present) to create animosity among Pakatan leaders, using the mainstream media under their control. On the one hand, Pakatan has been accused of not having a Shadow Cabinet, on the other, any hint or suggestion of who should be PM if and when they won the next GE was played up to the hilt.

I believe Karpal Singh is sensible enough not to harbour any ambition or hope of becoming PM of Malaysia, knowing how impossible it is. Similarly, I do not take seriously any suggestion of Lim Guan Eng having similar ambition. Just being CM of Penang has brought out the worst from political opponents jealous of his unprecedented success, after a jail sentence. Do you think he would wish for further harassment? A Chinese PM? Not in another 300 years! I believe Hadi Awang was not serious when he said he liked the idea of being PM, more a jestful reaction to questions posed deliberately by reporters.


A mildly hilarious 'road rage'

At the time, each driver does not know how the other will react. The result was more hilarious than a triumph over the other. Good job no one got hurt.

As a driver, I believe in being polite when asking for right of way. Do not assume it is your right when you have given signal. Stay in your lane until after at least one or two vehicles have passed before attempting to change lane. From experience, the other driver is more likely to give way when faced with such a request than if you were to budge in rudely. It is a natural reaction to react rudely to rudeness.

Tiger Isle... a book by ES Shankar aka Donplaypuks

I missed the launch of the book, Tiger Isle - a government of thieves, by blogger turned writer, E.S. Shankar.  A friend notified me by email which I read after the event! Actually, we were on our way back from PJ on that day. I also missed a chance to meet him, Rafizi and Bernard Khoo aka Zorro Unmasked.

From some articles I have read by Shankar, I find his views objective in the Gardenia vs Massimo controversy.

Just for information, here is part of the notice to some bloggers:

Entrance is FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC.

1. Dress Code for Ball Room: Casual smart. Jeans, round neck t-shirt, slippers, flip-flops, sandals are NOT allowed for men.

2. Venue: Ball Room (upstairs), Royal Selangor Club, Dataran Merdeka.

3. Date: Tuesday, 20th November 2012.

4. Time: 7 p.m.

5. In conjunction with the book launch, there will also be a panel discussion on 'Say No To Corruption' by:

a. YB Rafizi Ramli, Strategic Director, Parti Keadilan Rakyar (PKR)
b. Mr. Robert Lazar, Managing Partner of Shearn Delamore & Co
c. Bernard Khoo, the blogger.

6. Light snacks and refreshments will be served.

7. Car Park: Basement Car Park at Dataran Merdeka. (Hourly charges will apply).

Your presence at the book launch will be greatly appreciated. Of course, I will sign copies of the novel for those interested in purchasing (retail price RM 30.00) them at the venue.

Update: Book review by Susan Loone

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Getting to know our PM... via Myanmar Times!

Actually, it is nothing new, except we haven't heard it for quite some time...

"Faced with a tough choice, he prefers to let others jump first and then gauge how they fare before he takes the plunge.

Forget loyalty and principles, Najib’s credo is survival at all costs.

Back in 1987, when UMNO faced a divisive leadership crisis, young Najib waited till the last minute before spurning his mentor Razaleigh Hamzah and backing then PM Mahathir Mohamad.

It was a betrayal, but thanks to Najib’s support, Mahathir narrowly defeated Razaleigh and later rewarded Najib handsomely.

Five years on, when, against Mahathir’s wishes, Anwar Ibrahim made a precocious bid for the party’s No 2 slot, Najib belatedly joined Anwar’s Dream Team and won a top party post for himself.

Then, in 1998, when DPM Anwar challenged Mahathir, Najib initially cowered in the shadows like a desperado waiting for a train, before he finally sided with the PM and let the wolves devour Anwar..."


Najib, the vacillator, facing election defeat
by Roger Mitton


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Apartments in KL: Going small... out of necessity

A recent launch of a condominium project at Parklane OUG, Jalan Puchong, KL should be successful, based on its price of around Rm350,000 for a 950 sq.ft., 3-bedroom furnished service apartment, with swimming pool and security.

The ever increasing prices of lands and properties in KL and its vicinity, have the effect of encouraging more people (including those from other states and countries) to invest and contribute to the escalating prices. The above-mentioned project is now seen as value for money, when compared with smaller units at higher prices.

"THE current darlings of the housing market seem to be small-size residential units in commercial developments.

Sometimes known as serviced apartments, other times as Single operator Home of fices (or SoHos), Small of fice Versatile of ces (So-Vos) or Small of fice Flexible of fices (SoFos) due to their commercial nature, what attracted buyers to them were their substantial lifestyle offerings, urban locations and affordable prices of under RM450,000, the latter the consequence of their small built-up sizes that generally range between 400sq ft and 650sq ft..."


The term 'affordable' is relative to one's financial situation. For majority of first-timers in work and purchase of property, it is like adding salt to injury because they are unlikely to be in that position. The banks are encouraged to extend their housing loans to 40-year tenure, with some people suggesting further extension to the next generation!

For those who were lucky to have parents, or better still, grandparents, who had invested in landed properties, they are worth millions. A friend joked that with the current prices, almost every house-owner in KL or PJ is a millionaire... depending on whether he is free of debt. For someone who bought houses in the 60s, he could cash out and retire in a cheaper place like Ipoh, living in a more luxurious house like a millionaire. But the reality is that he is likely to have children working in KL, so the thought of moving away from them is not really encouraging. In fact, if the children are living in the old house, selling it is out of the question.

Personally, I find living in a smaller town like Batu Gajah is ideal for growing children and for their education up to Form 5. Many of my friends have children who are very successful in KL, Singapore or overseas. But even for those in KL, it is impractical to have their children living in BG and having their early education here.

We were discussing the high costs of living in KL. A branch in KL of a well known white coffee shop in Ipoh is charging almost twice the price, mainly because of higher rental and cost of labour. And we were not talking about Old Town White Coffee or Papparich outlets.

Sending a pre-school child to Jack & Jill for example, costs more than Rm1,000 a month, and for those elite ones, school fee for Standard 1 in an exclusive private school could cost Rm5,000 pm! A grandparent looking after his grandchild in a pre-school said even children know how to compare their cars. One child actually complained to her mother that she would prefer her dad's BMW and not mom's Kancil! Most of us agreed that no matter what quality education such a place offers, good values are unlikely to be learned.

Anyway, this is a picture (unrelated to the above MM article) which I find particularly cozy...


Friday, November 16, 2012

It didn't matter how or why, but it was the correct answer

This seems like a joke, and it is worth repeating even if we have come across it before. It is similar to someone who bought wrong numbers but which struck the jackpot in a lottery draw.

Mick, from Dublin, appeared on 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' and towards the end of the program had already won 500,000 euros.
"You've done very well so far," said Chris Tarrant, the show's presenter, "but for a million euros you've only got one life-line left, phone a friend. Everything is riding on this question. Will you go for it?"
"Sure," said Mick, "I'll have a go!"
"Which of the following birds does NOT build its own nest? 
a) Sparrow;
b) Thrush;
c) Magpie;
d) Cuckoo?"
"I haven't got a clue." said Mick. 
"So I'll use my last lifeline and phone my friend Paddy back home in Dublin."

Mick called up his mate, told him the circumstances and repeated the question to him.
"Fookin hell, Mick!" cried Paddy."Dat's simple. It's a cuckoo."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm fookin sure!" said Paddy.
Mick hung up the phone and told Chris, "I'll go with cuckoo as my answer."
"Is that your final answer?" asked Chris.
"Dat it is."
There was a long, long pause and then the presenter screamed, "Cuckoo is the correct answer! Mick, you've won 1 million euros!"

The next night, Mick invited Paddy to their local pub to buy him a drink.
"Tell me, Paddy? How in Heaven's name did you know it was da Cuckoo that doesn't build its own nest?"
"Because he lives in a fookin clock!" replied Paddy.


'If I die': Western and Eastern views ...

or priorities...


The Federal Highway

Before, with the lone EPF a guess, picture taken in the early 1960s...


Kota Darul Ehsan aka The Marble Arch (actually not made of marble) of Malaysia, serves as an iconic boundary separating Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

For Pete's sake, Petraeus, you fall simply because of sex

"As for Petraeus, he may have been careful but in spite of his counter-terrorism knowledge and clever tricks in going under the radar, ultimately there was a weak link in the security chain -- and no matter how far you go to try and cover your tracks, often it always falls down to two things: human error, or sex."

That was the conclusion of Zack Whittaker's article...

Yes, the FBI and CIA can read your email. Here's how

Highlights of the less techy parts:

What caught Petraeus out was, of all things, his usage of Google's online email service, Gmail.

The 'save as draft' trick

Petraeus set up a private account under a pseudonym and composed email messages but never sent them. Instead, they were saved in draft. His lover, Paula Broadwell, would log in under the same account, read the email and reply, all without sending anything. The traffic would not be sent across the networks through Google's data centers, making it nigh on impossible for the National Security Agency or any other electronic signals eavesdropping agency (such as Britain's elusive GCHQ) to 'read' the traffic while it is in transit.

Saving an email as a draft almost entirely eliminates network traffic, making it nigh on impossible for intelligence agencies to 'traffic sniff.'

But surely IP addresses are logged and noted? When emails are sent and received, yes. But the emails were saved in draft and therefore were not sent. However, Google may still have a record of the IP addresses of those who logged into the account.

There's no such thing as a truly 'anonymous' email account, and no matter how much you try to encrypt the contents of the email you are sending, little fragments of data are attached by email servers and messaging companies. It's how email works and it's entirely unavoidable.

The system is remarkably similar to the postal system. You can seal the envelope and hide what's inside, but it contains a postmark of where it came from and where it's going. It may even have your fingerprints on it. All of this information outside the contents is "metadata."...


Religious freedom: You know, I know, it's ok, but don't talk about it, ok?

Many people believe Malaysia is the only place where religious freedom, as far as Islam the official religion is concerned, boils down to 'You are free to join, but unfree to leave'. This is as far as I can go without getting into trouble...

like Nurul:
Transcript of Nurul's Q&A at forum

and what Steve Oh commented in a letter and got Malaysiakini into trouble (was it Police's belated birthday present or more like presence, to Steven Gan?)...

Nurul's watershed idea for the nation

Note: Even though the complaint was about Steve Oh's letter, it was more like a pretext to go into Malaysiakini office to get info about others. It was a blatant waste of police manpower and time involving 15 policemen (incl. high ranking ones). Just the heading of the following report says it all; when the letter was fully published in Mkini, what was there to get from the office? 

Cops revisit Malaysiakini, leave with writer's email (address)

Email address? I'm sure this could be obtained easily, though according to proper procedure, Steve Oh's permission was required and he was most obliging, so that Mkini's computers do not have to be taken away...

I stand by my views, says letterwriter

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Incoherent Kohilan on Dolomite's dynamite at Batu Caves

One of the things I love about blogging is the freedom to express myself (unless and until I get into trouble), and having my piece published in full, with amendments (if required); and best of all, a chance to find an appropriate title to it, good or bad, warts and all. I am journalist and editor rolled into one without having someone else to decide what should or should not be published. This is despite 'having no professional training', to quote William Hung, the one-time celebrity of American Idol for the wrong reason.

Our former vehicle repairs workshop in Jalan Ipoh used to repair lorries from Dolomite Industries Sdn Bhd, the quarry operators near Batu Caves, in the '60s and '70s. In the 80s, a sister-in-law mentioned about a Francis Huang who she knew, from the company. My last view from afar, was more than two years ago, when we waited to have a canopy fixed to our Navara, at a shop across the busy multi-laned road. Even then, if I am correct, shops were built near Batu Caves, presumably by Dolomite, as part of the whole scheme which includes the controversial high-rise condominiums. The other quarry operators known to us was Kenneison Brothers.

In their desperate bid to topple the present Pakatan Selangor state government, BN had tried all kinds of tactics to discredit them. Offhand, I can think of the artificially created water shortage; the so-called Talamgate or Billion Ringgit Scandal; and this project next to Batu Caves.

So far, instead of discrediting Pakatan, BN seems to have got pies on their face instead. It was like the proverbial 'one finger pointing at others while three fingers pointing at themselves', especially when most major projects were started by BN before Paktan took over. Even at the time before the then new state administration started their work, important documents were alleged to have been shredded or carted away. The unashamed display of ostentatious palatial homes of those in power before could only fuel speculation of much corruption having taken place.

In the present controversy, we have confirmation that the controversial project was approved in 2007 by then BN councillors, and among them was Kohilan. Planning approval in the form of Development Order was issued. Complaint about the Advertising Permit being issued when Pakatan was already in power was irrelevant because it was issued by Ministry of Housing and Local Government, a federal ministry and therefore BN controlled; so was Depart of Environment.

It seems strange that a project approved by BN, was never objected to for more than 4 years until recently. Batu Caves is special to the Indians, yet no objection over the years by MIC leaders. The recent protest was  led by former MIC President, Samy Vellu!

Nades provides insight of an interesting interview with Kohilan...

Dark secrets of Selayang council

To most of us, what was revealed was unsurprising at all. PKFZ case had shown how a minister could sign documents without really knowing what was happening! 'I am guilty if Dr. M said I'm guilty', then Dr. M gave evidence that Dr. Ling was an honest man incapable of cheating. I can foresee Dr. Ling will be acquitted because there was no cheating, since the victim said he was not cheated!

Update on Nov 17: According to William Leong,

"The only reasonable inference that can be drawn on the sudden 24 hour notice by PSD to transfer Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala as President of the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) to INTAN is that he has incurred the wrath of Barisan Nasional leaders in disclosing that the planning approval for the Dolomite Park Avenue Project next to the Batu Caves Temple was given on November 30, 2007 and MPS releasing the minutes of the full Board Meeting of November 29, 2007..."


In other words, being professional and truthful as a civil servant is unacceptable to BN!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Koon's take on Hiring Discrimination study


...the researchers conducted a field experiment by sending fictitious résumés of Malay and Chinese fresh graduates to real job advertisements. They then analyzed differentials in callback for interview attributable to racial identity. According to them there were statistically significant differences in callback rates, “indicating racial discrimination” since “Chinese are substantially more likely than Malays to be called for interview, and the difference is more acute in engineering jobs compared to accounting/finance.”

The bigger question: Why are Malays less likely to be interviewed?

It is not rocket science to know that private sector employers – not only in Malaysia but all over the world – are not totally racially blind in whom they chose to interview or hire. Although their findings confirm this, they also found that “in engineering jobs, estimated discrimination against Malay applicants is highest among foreign-controlled companies, followed by Malay-controlled companies, then Chinese-controlled companies”.

In less academic jargon or plain terms, what the two academics are saying is that they do not know why Malays are less likely to be interviewed although but they see this as indicating racial discrimination. What the two researchers have done is to allege the factor of racial discrimination without even interviewing the employers in their sample and examining deeper the reasons! Now what kind of research is this?

Of course race is a consideration in the employment market place and economy. Whether one is selling products or hiring staff, this factor is part of the calculus of business. In some cases it emerges as a major factor, in others less so, and in some cases not at all.

What are the reasons to explain this partiality or bias in interviewing for hiring? Is it because of ignorance? Is this reflective of attitudes and beliefs amounting to racial stereotyping? Is this a result of past experiences with incompetent staff from a particular race which have resulted in these so-called racially discriminatory practices? Does language competency play a role in this?

What explains the finding that foreign-controlled firms are the most prejudiced when in fact it is often assumed that they are the most race blind or least discriminatory. And why do Malay-controlled companies discriminate against applicants from their own race even more than Chinese firms?

All of these questions as well as other larger factors are completely ignored by the research. In my experience as an employer I have found that the Barisan Nasional’s pro-Malay bias in education and employment has resulted in sharply lowered standards. This has brought about a glut of Malay graduates, many of who are virtually unemployable as they lack English and Chinese language and social marketing skills.

Suggestions for follow-up work

...Finally, I propose that they complement this study with one examining hiring and employment patterns in the Government, Petronas and GLCs where taxpayers’ money is being used to hire staff and where racial discriminatory practices should be much less tolerated.

Full Article in CPI:
Hiring discrimination in Peninsular Malaysia study: A half-finished product


Someone reminisces...

Wong Peng Soon was our favourite badminton player. Rose Chan was our favourite performer.

Because we reared Siamese fighting fishes, the seller was our idol. Driving license renewal was by pasting an additional slip at the back of a small red booklet. Susu lembu, was house delivered by our big  friendly and strong Bahiii ... on his bicycle, in a stainless steel container. The container cap served as a funnel.

F&N orange was served in wooden crates and displayed on table during Chinese New Year .

Eating chicken was a treat that happened only once on Chinese New Year and once on "Chap Goh Meh", Deepavali or Christmas and Hari Raya. We always carried in our pocket a packet of fire crackers during the Chinese New Year. We always carry a one ringgit note at night in case we are stopped by mata mata (Policeman) for not having tail lights on our bicycles.
One noodle 'chow kway teow' cost 30 sen and we brought our own egg. One 'roti canai' cost 15 sen and one banana 5 sen. We bought bangkali bread from the Indian roti man who paddled his bicycle around the neighbourhood with the familiar ringing sound. Sometimes we bought Cold Storage bread wrapped in wax paper. Spread the bread with butter and kaya wrap with the wax paper and take to school. 

Crop crew cut by the travelling Indian or Hockchew barber; 30 sen a haircut; all the way to the top. Reason?.. easy to dry when curi swimming. During weekends went swimming in the river, no swimming trunk, only birthday suit. No one laugh at you whether your "kuku bird" is small or crooked.

On Sunday morning listen to "Kee Huat" Fantastic Facts and Fancies and Saturday night Top of the Pops DJ was Patrick Teoh. (He can't deny he is vintage) Saturday go for cheap matinee usually cowboy shows or Greek mythology like Hercules. Father gave 70 sen for Cheap Matinee screening at 10.30am on Saturday/Sunday; 50 sen for ticket, 20 sen for return bus fare.  Nobody pays 1 ringgit for the 'reserve seat'.

Kacang puteh man came apeddling , walking and balancing on his head  6 compartments of different type of murukus ...and we barter our old exercise books for a paper cone of kacang putih. 5 sen for kacang putih and 10 sen for ice "angtau".

Sometimes ice ball only 5 sen "pau angtau" and half red sugar, the other half black sugar or sarsee.

Never, never, never talked or mixed with girls until Form 5...

Learned the waltz, cha-cha, rhumba, foxtrot and offbeat cha cha from a classmate's sister. First time dancing with a girl nearly freezed; heart went "botobom, botobom".

We survived with mothers who had no maids. They cooked /cleaned while taking care of us at the same time. We took aspirin, candy floss, fizzy drinks, shaved ice with syrups... and diabetes were rare. Salt added to Pepsi or Coke was remedy for fever.  Tonic water was taken at the first hint of malaria.

As children, we would ride with our parents on bicycles/ motorcycles for 2 or 3. Richer ones in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

The first time I used a modern toilet I squatted on it for I only know the bucket toilet.  

Our children will not know the danger of visiting the outdoor toilet at night, nor jumping in fright when the man collect the bucket when you are doing your business. Toilet paper was torn up newspaper on a hook which you have to crumble first.  White toilet paper was an unknown luxury until I left home.

Riding in the back of a taxi was a special treat.
We went to the jungle to catch spiders without worries of Aedes mosquitoes. The worst disease you could get as a child is 'lock jaw' which every child knows is caused by rusty nails.

With mere 5 pebbles (stones) would be a endless game. With a ball (tennis ball best) we boys would run like crazy for hours. We caught guppies in drains / canals and when it rained, we swam there. We ate salty, very sweet & oily food, candies, bread and real butter and drank condensed milk in coffee/ tea, ice kacang, but we weren't overweight because we ran and cycled all day. We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and we still continued the stunts.

We never had birthdays parties till we were 21. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and just yelled for them!  When parents found out we were caned in school, it's certain we would get another round.

Parents always sided with the teachers.

We fly kites with string coated with pounded glass powder and horse glue and we cut our hands on the string. Happiness is winning a kite fight with a local samsing.  I forgot, we also have to make our own kites to suit our 'fighting style'.

We are the last generation to know how to use logarithm tables and slide rulers.


Psychopath Test: Best if you got it wrong!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Malaysia: Secular or not?

Like most things in Malaysia, it is not absolute. It always depends on the actual statement, the context it was made, when it was made, or even on who said it. Then we have to bear in mind some topics are highly sensitive, which made us wary of making any comment which might put us in trouble. Judging from recent happenings, most people did not care about what was said, except those political opportunists who took advantage of the situation. The strange effect seems to be the highlighting of letters or comments which would have gone unnoticed by the general public. Was that the intention of the authorities, or was it an excuse to get hold of computers to find out more about others?

Besides BN and Pakatan stating totally different versions, we have to contend with a biased mainstream media, and intellectuals taking it to a higher level of discourse, yet still offering differing views. Just imagine how the majority of the people feel about controversial issues!

I always find most people have short attention span. So what we get in the coffeeshops can be very simplistic and short, likely to be distorted by poor recollection of what was seen on television or read from newspapers, or outright mistake when quoting the source of a statement! Is it any wonder Najib chose to be Santa distributing BR1M and other payments to voters, knowing full well the public have short memories of BN's big, bad behaviour in the past, and more inclined to be influenced by the immediate cash benefit?

Just the other day, a card-carrying MCA life member who had voted opposition before, commented that there will be those fence-sitters who will be easily influenced by the immediate cash benefits. For someone who is not using the internet and has to rely on television news and a mainstream newspaper, his usual, "But it was shown on tv or published in The Star" as if it was gospel truth, can be alarming to those who tried to provide alternative news to counter BN's propaganda through the media under their control. Whether we are well informed or not, an intellectual or a moron, each of us has only one vote, making us equal in terms of choosing who should be elected to run our country.

Having read Art Harun's article, 'Secular or non-secular? What history tells us', how nice it would be to just take the following as 'definitive' or 'last words' on this subject:

Professor Sheridan, a well-known expert on Malaysian Constitution opines as follows:-
“A Federation, as opposed to the people within its territory, having a religion is a difficult notion to grasp….. It has been suggested that the probable meaning of the first part of Article 3(1) is that, insofar as federal business (such as ceremonial business) involves religious matters, that business is to be regulated in accordance with the religion of Islam” - The Religion of the Federation”, [1988] 2 MLJ xiii

But then we should look at what was stated in the Constitutional Bill when it was passed:

Shortly after the London Conference the British Government issued a White Paper in June 1957 containing the Constitutional Proposals for independent Malaya. Paragraph 57 deals with the Religion of the Federation and reads:-

“There has been included in the Federal Constitution a declaration that Islam is the religion of the Federation. This will in no way affect the present position of the Federation as a secular State, and every person will have the right to profess and practice his own religion and the right to propagate his religion, though this last right is subject to any restrictions imposed by State law relating to the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the Muslim religion.”

The Constitutional Bill was then was passed without amendment.

and a comment by then Colonial Secretary:

In an effort to mollify them, the Colonial Secretary, Lennox Boyd, wrote to Lord Reid on 31st May 1957 offering tribute and gratitude to the “remarkable” work done by the Reid Commission and stated:-

“The Rulers, as you know, changed their tune about Islam and they and the Government presented a united front in favour of making Islam a state religion even though Malaya is to be a secular state.”

and article 3 (1) proposed by Justice Abdul Hamid:

It is interesting to note that Justice Abdul Hamid, the sole member of the Reid Commission who proposed article 3 (1) to be inserted had described the provision as “innocuous”. What does that innocuous little provision mean than?

and Art Harun's last words on that:

Considering recent events, that provision has however ceased from being innocuous. Hopefully, it would not be monstrous instead.

I am posting this to keep myself as well as others informed, and for future reference on this subject.