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 29, 2013

Some state leaders are getting better paid than national leaders, and ADUNs getting more than MPs


But for the relatively poorly paid PM, DPM and other Ministers, the real situation is not what it seems, especially when we take into account the perks attached to their positions. MPs, on the other hand, must be feeling dejected, when their salaries are compared with the recent hikes in Sarawak and Selangor.


From Malaysiakini: Salary hike to stop lawmakers going for extra income:

'The salary hike for elected representatives of Selangor is meant to stop the lawmakers making extra income, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said today

"This income (hike) is suitable for the people's representatives and state executive councillors as they will no longer need to find extra income from outside. This has happened (before)," Khalid told the media at the state assembly complex today.'

'Khalid defended the remuneration increment as "not high" and "reasonable", if compared with wages in the private sector.

He said the state government has taken into consideration objections from the rakyat on this matter.

It therefore chose the salary of the Sarawak assemblyperson as a basis and worked out a 30 percent lesser rate on the new salary for the Selangor assemblypersons.

Though both states have financial reserves, Khalid said, Selangor was bigger than Sarawak in terms of economic performance.'

In Facebook:

SV Singam:

"Many people are commenting about this matter without first understanding some basic facts.

1. Khalid and his team, like good corporate leaders, first addressed the financial position of the organisation they were heading. With prudent spending, leakage elimination and cost control, they first built up a huge financial SURPLUS.

2. Having done that, they then adjusted the remuneration to a level compatible with the work being done, thereby enabling them to attract the best minds from the private sector (they don't want to hire monkeys and pay peanuts).

3. By thus increasing salaries, they have created a layer of insulation from the lucrative offers and bribes with which UMNO leaders and cronies have been assaulting the state leaders from day 1.

If the BN government had done something along these lines, there would be less outcry over any such salary increases proposed by them. But what they have done so far is to squander resources and funds, deliver poor performance, fail to get rid of shirkers... and still feel they are entitled to salary increases.

Don't forget, the stated salary of a BN appointee is but a small share of the real income they rake in through various unsavoury channels. If they dare to deny this, then why not openly declare their assets?"
Link

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Caring Pharmacy cares ... for their own bottomline?

My wife was attracted to some cheaper prices quoted in Caring's advertisement. Since we had never been to one before, we found the nearest to us is at Aeon Station 18. We are not regular visitors to this shopping complex, so we just parked our car in front and looked for it. It so happened G02 is right at the other end!

What I found to be cheaper (some because of special offers for a limited few days):
Iron tablets for 28 : Rm20 instead of Rm25.90 priced by a competitor;
Dettol 1 liter + 550 ml : Rm16.90 compared with Rm21.90; Hair dye : 2 for under Rm48, compared with usual price of Rm28 each (this item was not on my list, never used it for > 20 years); and so on.

Because we visited Caring before the supermarket opposite it, my wife asked for our stuff to be kept at the counter for collection later. Being absent-minded, I was against the idea but went along.

Despite being careful, when we reached home, I could not find the Dettol. My first thought was that someone had taken it. I did feel something amiss when I took it from the cashier because I remember there was a heavy item. Back home, when I checked the bill, I realised that Dettol was not included. So there was no mistake other than the omission. Did the cashier intentionally exclude my Dettol? Cannot help being reminded of the Malay saying: 'Ajak ajak ayam' which means invitation without sincerity. Years ago, I read about 'loss leaders' in supermarket strategy to attract visitors, because they are likely to buy something else as they browse through the displays. For a fast-moving item like Dettol shower gel, there seemed a reluctance to sell at such an attractive offer price.

However, when I thought about it again, I realised it could also have been an attempt to exclude it so that the total bill was less than Rm150. I recall having seen a notice that for a single bill exceeding Rm150, there is a further discount of Rm8; > Rm300, discount of Rm16. Besides, among discount offers, there are differences between items: some saleable eg. Dettol, some slow-moving eg. hair dye. Was it a coincidence that it was the Dettol and not the hair dye that was excluded? I would have been happier had the hair dye been excluded instead. Perhaps, not surprisingly, what I had been through had also proven the effectiveness of the 'loss leaders' strategy mentioned earlier. The hair dye was an impulse buy influenced by the display, and I actually changed my mind about using it!
Link

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Assessment hike should be justified by accountability

Mak Khuin Weng, in his letter to Malaysiakini, shows us how to ask the right questions, with MPPJ (now MBPJ) as a good example...

Highlights:

"Learning from others

"...After an ongoing six-month campaign to pressure the then Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) to release the accounts, the council finally allowed the campaign leaders to look at (but not make copies) of the council’s accounts.

In the short two hours ratepayers were allowed access to the accounts, notes were taken with pen and paper. After studying the information, the residents revealed numerous problems with the council’s management.

For example, the MPPJ had invested RM6.8 million in state bonds in 2003. This amount was subsequently written off as a bad investment. Could DBKL have made such similar bad investments and must now make up the shortfall?

MPPJ accounts also showed that a whopping RM38.6 million in unpaid assessment bills were accrued from 1999 to 2004. This has been reduced under Pakatan Rakyat rule, mainly because the main culprits for this debt were various Government Linked Corporations (GLCs) and they were all forced to pay up. What is the amount of unpaid assessment bills for DBKL?

Does DBKL have such skeletons in their closet? We will only be able to tell if ratepayers unite and form a coalition to pressure DBKL to release the accounts to the public."

Assessment rates

"The Local Government Act allows property owners to be charged these rates, which are derived from a valuation exercise on the rentable value of the property. The rates will be a percentage of this total value to be made payable, up to a maximum rate of 35%."

"This valuation list must be gazetted and the figures will be officially used for any rates chargeable to ratepayers. So, even if property prices were to soar ten years down the road, the valuation would remain constant. Unless, of course, there’s a physical change in the property like extensions, redevelopment or even land use change which would force a revaluation exercise straight away..."
"In the case of MPPJ, when the council announced an increase in assessment for landed properties back in 2006, the increase was done not by doing a new valuation exercise but by increasing the rateable percentage from 8% of the property value to 8.8%.

Rates can be changed yearly subject to requirements of the budget and approval from the state government, or in the case of DBKL, the Federal Territories and Urban Wellness Ministry."

"...A revaluation exercise however can only be done once every five years.

Obviously, even if the payable percentage was not increased, the value based on rental prices of property today would have increased tremendously from the past 20 years when the exercise was first carried out for many property owners.

While the law does allow the public to object, the valuers would have studied market rental rates and also through surveys asking owners what their property’s rentable rates were. So, whether you live in the said property and don’t intend to rent it out; whether you cannot afford to pay the new rates; or whether the council’s services has not improved and therefore does not justify the new rates are all irrelevant points. You have to prove that the rental rates in the area are below the value ascertained by the local council, which may be impossible since there are so many advertisements out there that would allow the valuers to reach a median value to affix to your property.

In fact, the point of the objection hearing is to allow you to present any evidence that the valuers may not have considered that would actually bring down the value of your property, like having your house located next to a cemetery or a sewerage treatment plant. Only then would the government consider a lower rateable value for your property.

Asking the right questions

Even though it might be pointless to protest against the rentable value, the ratepayer can still argue that the percentage of the rateable value be lowered by the local council. There is nothing stopping DBKL from reducing the chargeable rate to 3% or even 1% of the new property valuation to approximate the previous rate you paid.

But what ratepayers lack to argue for a lower percentage is information on the council’s operations and financial situation. As such, the ratepayers must demand that DBKL justify the need for the increase in revenue.

The problem is, none of the local councils produce annual reports – or even if they did, they do not make it publicly available. Nor are the accounts available for scrutiny."

More:
http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/247439


Link

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Are you smarter than your smart TV?

Some of my less IT savvy friends have been lamenting that though they have smart televisions and mobile phones, they are not smart enough to use them.

Now, the real danger is that those smart televisions could be spying on their viewers! This is really scary and no one is safe unless he or she chooses to remain backward in technology.

My friend commented:

"This is scary, REAL SCARY !  Seems everything and anything that uses Smart technology, is used to spy on us consumers.  Smartphones, Smart TVs, SmartAss corporates, etc.

Just be wary and careful of what you put in your USB thumbdrive or external harddisk.  Like USA's NSA, the whole bloody world is spying on each other, and has gone bonkers!!!

So be smart!!.  Stay dumb and use dumbdevices, or just be careful with smartass devices.  No one is safe any more!!  Big Brother is Watching!!!"

Excerpt from an article:

LG Smart TV spying, owner claims his USB filenames posted on LG servers

A new LG Smart TV owner claimed that LG collects info from connected devices, like USBs, and uploads it to LG servers, even when collection of info is turned off; LG claims it's part of the Terms and Conditions.

After viewing ads on the LG Smart landing screen, DoctorBeet did some digging and found a "creepy corporate video" for LG Smart Ads, which claims to have an "intelligent platform" that analyzes users' favorite programs, search keywords and online behavior to best serve targeted ads; successful ads on LG Smart TV home page have been "proven by customer eye tracking tests."

He found a "Collection of watching info" option in the settings. Collection is on by default, but even after turning collection "off" and running traffic analysis, DoctorBeet discovered, "It turns out that viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to On or Off."

More:
http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/lg-smart-tv-spying-owner-claims-his-usb-filenames-posted-lg-servers

According to the list, 'Ten Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime', which include The Post Office; The Check (or cheque); The Newspaper; The Book; The Land Line Telephone; Music; Television; The "Things" that you own; and Joined handwriting, the last but not least of which is Privacy!


Link

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wives taking husbands for granted

Here's the proof...

There was a group of women gathered at a seminar on how to live in a loving relationship with your husband.

The women were asked, 'How many of you love your husbands?'

All the women raised their hands.

Then they were asked, 'When was the last time you told your husband you loved him?'
Some women answered today, some yesterday, some didn't remember.

The women were then told to take their cell phones and send the following text to their respective husband:

"I love you, sweetheart."

Then the women were told to exchange phones and read the responding text messages.

Here are some of the replies:

1. Eh, mother of my children, are you sick?

2. What now? Did you crash the car again?

3. I don't understand what you mean?

4. What did you do now? I won't forgive you this time!!!

5. ?!?

6. Don't beat about the bush, just tell me how much you need?

7. Am I dreaming? ???????

8. If you don't tell me who this message is actually for, you will die today...!!!

9. I asked you not to drink anymore!!

and the best one

10. Who is this?


Link

Thursday, November 21, 2013

As Shahidan continues to insult our intelligence, BN continues to lose credibility

KL's proposed Assessment hike not according to previous method of calculation

SY of Shah Alam, in his letter to The Star, put it concisely:

Excerpt:

"Most comments were related to the statement made by Federal Territory Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan that the assessment review was due to property prices having skyrocketed.

In fact, that statement that assessment is based on property value is wrong.

In simple terms, assessment of a property is based on rental value."

"For example, if the hypothetical rental is RM1,000 per month, the annual value is therefore: RM1,000 x 12 = RM12,000

If the municipality places an assessment tax of 6%, the assessment payable will be: RM12,000 x 6% = RM720 per year.

Did Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) conduct an assessment rating exercise which included inspection of all properties and sending the owners feedback forms which is mandatory for all owners to submit?

If DBKL has done the assessment rating based on the reasoning that property value has skyrocketed, there is going to be lots of fireworks at the objection hearing."

Rest of it:
Assessment based on rental, not house value

Sean Oon provides a sample letter of objection:


YB Nurul Izzah provides a detailed sample letter of objection:



Even former Mayors of KL are asking DBKL to justify their unreasonable increase.

Politically, even MCA expressed their disapproval. It looks as if BN has nothing more to lose, having lost 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in the last GE. But looking at the recent price increases like petrol and sugar, and the proposed GST for the nation and assessment hike for KL, BN is going to have a hard time to contain the people's anger. The fact that the First Lady continues her high living at people's expense is not going to help.

Update:
At a press conference with KL MPs, FT Minister promised to reduce hike by '50 to 70%'. In their haste to increase assessment for 2014, DBKL had already issued notices to property owners, based on arbitrary calculations, different from the past. Perhaps, because of the lapse of 21 years, they have forgotten the proper way! To be fair, DBKL's Valuation Department should carry out a proper assessment rating before issuing notices. Why the hurry when DBKL is believed to be cash rich?

Update:
A factory owner in Kepong received two conflicting notices: one increased the annual value to Rm48,600 (from Rm9,000), the other to Rm79,800!
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/dap-lawmaker-raps-city-hall-for-conflicting-assessment-rates-notices
Link

This ostentatious display of gold won't happen in Malaysia

Link



Robbers are becoming more daring. What used to be safe in numbers are no longer so:  like when having a home party with guests; having a meal in restaurants or coffee shops; or at wedding dinners where there are usually hundreds of people.


Earlier this year, there was a robbery at a wedding dinner in Ipoh. The hosts lost all their angpows, the bride, all her jewelleries and the guests were relieved of their valuables. Now, when going out, most people remind themselves not to wear anything expensive nor take with them too much cash... just in case there is a robbery.

A few years ago, when a security conscious relation had 2 security guards at his home party, most of us were surprised at what seems an overly cautious measure at the time when such cases were rare or unheard of . But with today's robberies at public places where there are many people around, this seems to be a good one. Yet, with the recent cases of foreigners using fake ICs working as security guards and one of them actually shot dead a bank officer before he escaped with Rm450,000, even security guards cannot be trusted.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Professor Kotlikoff: Government Conspiracy to Hide True Debt Burden

When I first read the title, I thought he was referring to Malaysia! It shows how close we are in a similar situation.

"Professor Kotlikoff joins the Financial Sense Newshour for an eye-opening interview about the true state of fiscal affairs in this country. He explains how the government uses accounting tricks to hide the truth and keep everyone in the dark about the US's actual debt-load, which runs $205 trillion versus the $17 trillion you often here in the news.

Kotlikoff also details the ongoing pattern of obfuscation, censorships, and firings of government personnel attempting to disclose budgets of prior Presidents when doing so is deemed politically inconvenient. This is a must-listen interview. Here we present a few key excerpts:

Jim Puplava: Professor, officially we’re in debt over $17 trillion but underneath it there’s a bigger problem. I wonder if you might explain to our listeners what that bigger problem is?

Professor Kotlikoff: The liabilities the government owes are mostly off the books. We have a true debt picture which is about $205 trillion. This is recording all the future obligations the government has, whether they are official obligations or not, such as paying for your social security benefits, mine, or your mother’s Medicare benefits, defense spending, etc. All of these things are really obligations that aren’t recorded on the books as debt, whereas paying off future principal and interest payments on Treasury bills and bonds are recorded. So, anyway, if you take the value of all of those commitments and subtract all the taxes coming to pay those commitments, the difference is what’s called the fiscal gap; and that fiscal gap in the U.S. is now $205 trillion. So, the true debt is $205 trillion; the official debt is only $17 trillion. So, most of the problems we’re facing, most of the debt we have, the vast majority of it is off the books and Congress has done bookkeeping to make sure the public doesn’t see it. So, when we have these big fights over the debt ceiling, it’s really laughable because at the same time we may not be expanding our official debt at a very rapid rate, we are expanding our unofficial debt or off-the-book debt, unrecorded debt, at a very high rate."
Link

This is proof men are deep thinkers


"What deep thinkers men are. I mowed the lawn today, and after doing so I sat down and had a cold beer. The day was really quite beautiful, and the drink facilitated some deep thinking.

My wife walked by and asked me what I was doing and I said 'nothing'. The reason I said that instead of saying 'just thinking' is because she would have said 'about what'. At that point I would have to explain that men are deep thinkers about various topics which would lead to other questions.

Finally I thought about an age old question: Is giving birth more painful than getting kicked in the nuts? Women always maintain that giving birth is way more painful than a guy getting kicked in the nuts.

Well, after another beer, and some heavy deductive thinking, I have come up with the answer to that question. Getting kicked in the nuts is more painful than having a baby; and here is the reason for my conclusion.

A year or so after giving birth, a woman will often say, "It might be nice to have another child." On the other hand, you never hear a guy say, "You know, I think I would like another kick in the nuts."

I rest my case. Time for another beer. "

Somehow, this logic reminds me of some BN ministers. Perhaps, we have not been thinking of them as deep thinkers!

Link

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Expression of 'Standing behind her husband'

The Heat's Dr Chow Yong Neng: No-win situation when most participants bag a medal at the British Invention Show

Pic of Table from The Heat

'It must be comforting to taxpayers to think that our taxes have been used to nurture world-class students who can take part in international competitions with candidates from over 20 countries and win.

However, our expert Dr Chow Yong Neng tells us that academic excellence, particularly research accomplishment, is conventionally evaluated by peers.

This means good research work must stand up to the scrutiny of peers and be published in reputable international journals.

Only research that are ineligible for conventional recognition, not completed or, not up to publication standards are the ones going for “competitions”...'

More:
http://www.theheat.my/Article.aspx?ArticleId=1675

You need a subscription to read the full article online.

Link

How can our education system improve if it is being constantly exploited by the ruling party?

We have witnessed over the years, how an excellent education system left behind by our colonial masters had been 'thrashed' by BN and created big problems like almost illiterate school leavers and unemployable university graduates. Naturally, I was amazed when I watched on television recently, how our DPM cum Education Minister at an international conference, was so proud of the fact that three countries wanted to learn from us on how to train teachers! Those countries were: Oman, Namibia and Indonesia. I still cannot get over it, what with our flip flopping on whether to use English to teach Maths and Science, and that 70% of our English teachers failed a proficiency examination.

If this is an example of the kind of questions meant for schools, the ulterior motive of BN is too obvious:

                                                 
                                               Pic courtesy of Facebook and YB Nga Kor Ming

Latest from CPI, 'Making History a pass subject: Why we must not agree to it' by Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim :

'When the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, launched the National Education Blueprint, he claimed that it would result in students with world-class knowledge and skills, strong moral values and capable of competing with their peers from other countries.

This has now been revealed to be an empty boast and a lie. Worse, it is a cover up for the greater politicization and stultification of our national education system which Umno, the main component of the BN, is seeking to ensure so that it will continue to rule the country for the next 50 years.

Amongst the first measures to be introduced as part of this self pronounced 'revolutionary' change in our educational system is the requirement that students will need to have a pass in the compulsory subject of History before they can obtain their SPM. The reason advanced by the Minister and his Deputy Minister for this requirement is that they want our students to be loyal.

The question which arises is loyal to whom? ..."

More:

http://english.cpiasia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2563:making-history-a-pass-subject-why-we-must-not-agree-to-it-&catid=216:others
Link

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Having Genting Bhd or Resorts World Bhd to provide transport services can ensure no fatal accidents?

This seems to be Acting Transport Minister's view when suggesting that Genting should provide transportation to the resort.

"Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has suggested that the Genting Group takes over public transport up and down the private road leading to the resort following the horrific stage bus crash that killed 37 people on Aug 21..."

More:
Minister: Genting should take over transportation to resort
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/246583

No matter which company is responsible for providing transport, accidents could happen, despite having the best condition vehicles, and the most experienced and careful drivers. At best, it could minimise the incidents. Bus operations are still best left in the hands of those with the right experience in managing such business. Even if Genting were to get involved, it has to engage those experienced in bus operations, so what difference will it make?

In The Ant Daily, Francis Paul Siah seems surprised that another bus accident happened so soon after the report on the earlier accident was out.

"Just three days after the official report of the horrific Genting bus crash was made public, another bus accident occurred on the route to Genting Highlands.
In the latest mishap on Nov 11, the 22 passengers were somewhat lucky to escape with only minor injuries after the bus they were travelling in landed on its side in a drain along Jalan Batang Kali towards the hill resort..."

More:
Bus crashes: Zero in on bad drivers and greedy operators
http://www.theantdaily.com/news/2013/11/13/bus-crashes-zero-bad-drivers-and-greedy-operators

My comment in The Ant Daily:

Nobody wished for accidents to happen, least of all the bus operators involved in the ill-fated accident which killed 37 people. That another accident happened just 3 days after the MIROS report, was again an accident, the cause of which has yet to be ascertained. Reading the above report, I get the impression that the writer expect no road accident can happen if every driver of any vehicle has a valid driving licence, is physically fit and sober, and the vehicle is in tip top condition! Many years ago, I was driving a Merc 240D down Genting road and its brakes got overheated causing it to be ineffective. Later, it was back to normal. This is just to show how excessive use of brake instead of low gears could cause such a hazardous condition to a normal vehicle.
Anyway, it was reported that around 1,000 people use the GH bus service daily. I am sure the decision to delay immediate suspension was due to the need for it as well as the lack of alternative transport. Even if there are enough taxis and buses available, how safe are those? As we know, there is no effective check on all vehicles to ensure each and every one is fit in the strictest sense before they are allowed to take passengers to and from GH. This is similar to the security guards who are using fake ICs. How we wish checks could be done within a day on all the 150,000 guards!
If I were the bus operators, I would just give up, simply because the onus now is going to be on the directors and/or officer in charge. Who would want to offer such services if the risk is such that he might end up in jail?
As for the standing passengers allowed in the permit, it is easy to condemn after a tragic accident. I am sure the bus operators would gladly abide by the rule of 'no standing passengers' if the fare is higher to cover for the extra cost per passenger. It was reported that the fare is only a few Ringgit and passengers can get on and off along the way. Considering the low fares and the passenger-friendly service, I think the description 'greedy operators' seem unfair. They happen to be one of the most efficient bus operators in the country and their track record had been excellent until the ill-fated accident. They can jolly well give up the business without losing sleep over the loss in income.
Link

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Our Engrish is not that bad after all


Would you sign up for this class?




Big Foot lost his?


You might have to run to the toilet, but please control yourself...


You might think dying is beyond your control, but don't even think of it here...


 If you had to, this could be used as one...


What you should do if your kidnapper give you a chance to make just one call...


In case you are unaware...


This is a red herring, not for lack of understanding English, but on the contrary...


This would not be out of place in Malaysia...


As a last resort, if you are fed up of trying to get the translation right...

Wall mural upsets authorities in Johor Bahru

The original picture...


The artist's sarcastic response...


Kids making fun of the would be assailant...


Update:

Making more fun of the mural:



Update Nov 18:

Getting more creative...



No, this has nothing to do with the wall murals; in fact, the pic appeared in FB before the murals... just for a good laugh...


Link

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Are you satisfied and feeling secure with your smugness?

Have you come across people who seem to think everything is what it seems?

Ask them about children's education and they will reply immediately that they will go for private education, plus a good dose of tuition classes to ensure that their children will be able to compete in future. There is an assumption that private education equals excellent education and tuition classes mean one up on those who go without.

Problem with having someone to look after your tiny tots? Employ maids seem to be a definitive solution. Yet, when we think about it, we are entrusting our most precious loved ones to someone who we hardly know!

Similarly, ask them about security at their residence and they will answer confidently that theirs is a gated community or condominiums with security guards. Again, there is an assumption of guards who are well trained, and honest with integrity.

We have read of reports of burglaries in condominiums and casually commented that it could have been insiders' work, with only a hint of possible collusion between guards and burglars. Over a period of time, guards know every resident's daily, weekly or monthly movements. They know when certain units are without occupants.

We have also read of security companies trying to secure jobs in a neighbourhood, and soon after, there were burglaries or even robberies, which seem to suggest intentionally created incidents to encourage residents to employ their guards.

In UK, it is common for residents to inform their local police of the period when they are away on holiday. But in Malaysia, people would be cynical about it.

Nades's article in The Sun, 'Does your guard have a criminal record?' should serve as a warning to those who presume having security guards mean peace of mind:

"Fake MyKads had been used to seek employment in the security services sector by foreigners which reflects the lackadaisical attitude adopted by some security firms.

We lesser mortals have no way of knowing if the guards looking after our children had records for sexual offences.

Neither does anyone know if those with criminal records are put in charge of protecting large sums of money.

The authorities have pinned the blame on security firms pushing the onus on the firms to recruit guards with clean records.

While banks and other financial institutions are willing to invest in gadgets to read and verify the MyKad, many security firms seem reluctant to do the same.

That gadget is the fastest and surest way to authenticate the MyKad and why the firms have not done so is unexplainable. But there may be a reason. If such checks are carried out, more than 10% of the guards would not have cleared the first hurdle.

This is because of the admission of the umbrella body for the security firms which stated that at least 30,000 of the more than 220,000 guards are illegal immigrants, the stark truth hits you in the face.

While the home minister goes around threatening to close newspapers because its reporters are stating the truth, little or nothing has been done to purge the system of guards without proper documentation.

However, the root of the problem lies with issuance of licences for security firms. Has action been not forthcoming because of the "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" syndrome that has afflicted our society?

There are about 750 companies, almost all of whom are owned by retired senior officers from the armed forces, police officers and the Home Ministry. Hence, there is hesitancy in enforcement of the laws.

In many residential areas, security guards have been employed to patrol the streets. Is there a possibility that one of them may one day rob you and your family?

The answer is yes and probabilities are high. With security firms hiring all and sundry, what makes you think they have not hired someone with a criminal record?

With so many guards in so many neighbourhoods, the demand has been overwhelming. Security firms have to provide the manpower because it means an addition to the bottom line. With no compulsion to check or carry out vetting, the man in the guard's uniform could have been a robber or even a murderer!

As one who pays for their services, it becomes your responsibility to demand from the company details of the guards in your area and a document stating that they have clean records. Have you done it? Shouldn't you tell the guru besar of the school your children are studying to do the same?"

Rest of article:
http://www.thesundaily.my/node/229839
Link

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Mandarin: a common language in China; now with different versions, has new problems in Wikipedia

Non-Chinese used to wonder how wonderful it was for Mandarin to be understood and communicated by literate people in China, despite their diverse racial origins and different spoken dialects. Basically, a Chinese text can be understood by say, different Chinese who speak Cantonese, Hakka or Hokien, and read out in those dialects without losing its original meaning.

Recently, there were major changes to the Chinese language: simplified version which reduces the number of complicated strokes in a Chinese character; romanised Pinyin which uses English-styled pronunciations to differentiate different words; and so on. So, instead of having literate Chinese-educated people knowing the text without problems in understanding, those educated in the traditional way may not be able to understand text in the simplified version. Similarly, those educated only in the simplified version may not understand the original Chinese characters. In other words, Mandarin is not like the 'common language' which used to be indispensable before. Therefore, those with knowledge of the old and new, have a definite advantage over either those with knowledge only of the old or those only of the new. This is also an example of the importance of knowing history, be it in religion, music, politics, or others.

From The New York Times: Wikipedia China Becomes Front Line for Views on Language and Culture
by Grace Tsoi:

"HONG KONG — The Chinese-language version of Wikipedia has become more than an online encyclopedia: it is a battlefield for editors from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong in a region charged with political, ideological and cultural differences.

Wikipedia editors, all volunteers, present opposing views on politics, history and traditional Chinese culture — in essence, different versions of China. Compounding the issue are language differences: Mandarin is the official language in mainland China and Taiwan, while the majority in Hong Kong speak Cantonese. But mainland China uses simplified characters, while Taiwan and Hong Kong use traditional script.

That has led to articles on otherwise innocuous topics becoming flash points, and has caused controversial entries to be restricted."

'“Wikipedia does not comply with the Chinese government’s self-censorship policy. Absolutely not,” said Tango Chan, a representative of Wikimedia Hong Kong, a local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation. Mr. Chan said, however, that some articles on the Chinese Wikipedia cannot be accessed because the “Great Firewall” — the hugely effective censorship tool developed by the Chinese authorities — filtered “sensitive words.”

Stephen Wong, a contributor from Hong Kong who has been active on Chinese Wikipedia since 2009, said users across the region have experienced “some form of cultural shock,” which triggers arguments.

“Users from different areas have received different education, and have been influenced by different political ideologies,” Mr. Wong said. “We discovered that the things we learned as a kid were totally different from each other.”

No matter the language, disputes are part of the nature of Wikipedia, Matthew Roth, the global communications manager of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in an e-mail.

“The common perception is that arguments are frequent on Wikipedia, and indeed there are active discussions and disagreements about content, as would be expected in such an enormous and complex information ecosystem,” Mr. Roth said.'

More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/technology/wikipedia-china-becomes-front-line-for-views-on-language-and-culture.html?_r=0
Link

TNB's timing of CSR at Sungai Limau by-election was political

... fortunately, most of the voters were not influenced by BN's usual 'buy' tactics, and remained faithful to PAS.

This was acceptable and welcomed:

"Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) will provide 18 sets of generators for back-up electricity supply during polling for the Sungai Limau by-election on Monday, said Energy, Green Technology and Water deputy minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid."

But this was obviously with a different motive:

"TNB contributed RM23,000 to 22 mosques and aid in the form of items of basic needs and electrical goods to 51 families under its corporate social responsibility."

Source of news:

By the way, TNB's advertisement on national television highlighting their Rebate of Rm20 (originally meant to be free for consumers using less than Rm20 per month) is already untrue, with the introduction of minimum charge of Rm3. It is being stated in the advertisement that 1.1 million consumers who enjoyed the rebate, costed the government Rm147 million a year. 

It is more likely that the 1.1 million referred to 1.1 million consumers who enjoyed some months of rebate during a year. I always feel this offer as unrealistic in terms of actual usage by any household.

With the introduction of a minimum charge (even for those who used less than Rm20 per month have to pay Rm3.00), TNB stands to gain a few million Ringgit a year.

I cannot help but compare the privatised utility company to that of banks going all out to make more money out of their customers. Banks will be charging 50 sen per cheque issued soon.
Link

Monday, November 04, 2013

Richard Loh: OPEN LETTER to Pakatan reps thinking of turning 'INDEPENDENT'

Voters voted for Pakatan, not you!

"Ask yourself why you join the party and being selected to stand as candidate which you finally won. Is it because of you that voters voted you and not the party? If you were to stand as an independent do you think you can win? As far as I know up till GE13 majority of voters have voted along party line and not an individual.

If you are not happy because you cannot get what you want, be it power, position or monetary by all means please leave. Or because you cannot accept criticism within your party, then leave, as voters can see that you won't be able to accept their criticism as well.

Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives must understand that they are voted in is because the majority of voters wanted change and they believe that change will come. The voters voted you in is to see the process of change or will happen and not for you to become arrogant, greedy in the likes of Umno/BN.

So, to those Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives who are thinking of turning independent (but siding with umno/bn)please explain to the voters, WHY? Do not tell us because you have differences and cannot work with party leaders, that are not reasons but excuses which are unacceptable. You are responsible to the voters who voted you in unless you are an irresponsible person with no integrity and your moves are already preplanned to get what you wanted!"

More:
http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=182061:open-letter-to-pakatan-reps-thinking-of-turning-independent&Itemid=2#axzz2jgChA88G

Link

LHDN had also been a cause of wasting taxpayers' money

Excerpt from a Malaysiakini report:

"The government has been caught out for issuing conflicting statements to the auditor-general about the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) building in Bangi, which continues to be flooded whenever it rains.
A site visit by the DAP's Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming's aide showed that the foyer and basement carpark of the Information Processing Department complex was flooded last Thursday.
The building is meant for hosting data on income tax payers."

"The Auditor-General's Report 2012 had criticised the problem-ridden project, the cost of which has ballooned from RM68 million to RM94 million.
Construction of the building began on Feb 12, 2008. It was scheduled for completion within 643 days but ended up requiring 1,259 days.
The building was completed in October 2011. But it has yet to be occupied as it has failed to comply with Fire and Rescue Service Department's requirements and so cannot be issued the certificate of completion and compliance."

"The Auditor-General's Report 2012 outlined several other problems at the Bangi LHDN building. The project was awarded to SN Akimida Holdings Sdn Bhd.
These include "impractical design" which will result in high cost of maintenance due to the extensive glass walls that require skylifts to clean.
Furthermore, the use of glass walls for the server room have rendered them unusable as servers require a stable air-conditioned environment and cannot be exposed to sunlight.
The report also noted that LHDN had paid RM529,733 to four consultant companies for the building in 2003 but that the project was put on hold in 2006.
When the project finally started in 2008, the consultants' reports were no longer usable, which means that the money was paid for nothing."

"Furthermore, even though the building is not operational, a utility bill of RM758,400 has been incurred for the period from November 2011 to last month.
"This is because the lights need to be turned on at night and there are also security guards guarding the place," Ong said.
Additional costs
In addition, the LHDN has incurred another RM7.05 million over the same period because it has been forced to continue renting its current premises in Pandan Indah, Kuala Lumpur."

More:
LHDN building flooded although 'repairs done'
http://my.news.yahoo.com/lhdn-building-flooded-although-repairs-done-061615239.html


Link

A simple test on beggar's physical handicap...

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Ho Kay Tat: Bring back English medium to fix our schools

'WE HAVE spent billions on education, but have fallen very short in producing internationally competitive students and bringing young Malaysians of various races together.

That was my take from reading the three-quarter-inch-thick Education Blueprint report. The two main highlights were:

>> We have spent more on education than most countries but the quality of our students, according to two international benchmarks, is ranked in the bottom half and below that of countries that have spent less or the same as us.
>> The school system has not fostered unity among young Malaysians of various races as well as we had hoped for, and in fact, one race makes up 97% of the enrolment in our national primary schools while the others opt for vernacular schools.

Low quality education

"Malaysia's consistently high levels of expenditure on education have resulted in almost universal access to primary education. However, there remains room for improvement on the dimensions of quality," the report says.

Room for improvement is an understatement if you look at some of key findings of the report...'

"Restore English-medium schools

If we can give parents the option of sending their children to Malay, Chinese or Tamil medium primary schools, why can't we offer them a fourth option of English medium schools?  Doing so will not deprive those who want their children to learn in their mother tongue, so the champions of vernacular schools need not complain.

Restoring English-medium schools, even if only at primary school level, will help the country build a reasonably big pool of young Malaysians with a good command of the language - a vital economic asset to the country.

On top of that, these schools will bring together young Malaysians from all races and socio-economic classes who, through studying and playing together, can become the unifying force we need to build a Malaysia that is one.

That is what we had in the Sixties and Seventies. It is time to bring it back. Start with 30 to 40 schools across the country and increase the number as teaching resources improve and according to demand. Citing a lack of resources for not doing it is a lame excuse."

More:
http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/commentary/260429-opinion-ho-kay-tat-bring-back-english-medium-to-fix-our-schools.html#.UnQ6_ruRZhE.facebook

Just imagine: Malay makes up 97% of the enrolment in our national primary schools; while Chinese enrolment in SJKC increased from 92% in 2010 to 96% in 2011. In other words, only 4% of Chinese enrolled in national primary schools.

Ho's suggestion seems very practical and pragmatic to most Malaysians who are not linked to Umno. It is not that our leaders do not know the solution but are unwilling to lose their support base which they had cultivated over half a century. To turn back the clock and admit they made a big mistake in education is almost an impossibility to expect from an Umno riding high on race and religion. Their current excuse is that it may cause instability. Perhaps, by approving more private English schools and with more private funds donated by like-minded philantropists might increase the number of affordable places in such schools.
Link

Kee Thuan Chye on Malaysiakini's right, not privilege, to publish a daily newspaper

Excerpt from his article, It is a right, not a privilege, so what now?:

"All Malaysiakini asked for was publish a daily newspaper in English of 40,000 copies to be sold only in the Klang Valley. But this was not acceptable to the Home Ministry, which rejected its application in August 2010. Why? What was the Government afraid of?"

"In any case, the Home Ministry did not give any grounds for rejecting Malaysiakini’s application. But when Malaysiakini brought the case to the High Court for a judicial review, the Minister had to state his reasons in an affidavit.

The case was heard in October 2012. The Government’s lawyer submitted that the granting of a publication permit was a privilege, not a right. But the judge disagreed.

Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim said freedom of expression was a right guaranteed in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. And this right included the right to publish a newspaper. He ruled that the ministry’s decision was “improper and irrational”.

He also considered the minister’s reasons for rejecting Malaysiakini’s application as stated in his affidavit. One of them stupidly stated that it was because there were already a lot of newspapers in the market and Malaysiakini’s entry would affect their profit margin.

The judge rightly pointed out that there was nothing in the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) that gave the minister power to regulate the market."

"But the ministry was not satisfied. It decided to appeal the decision. The appeal was heard last Wednesday.

The Government’s lawyer maintained that the granting of a publishing permit was a privilege, not a right, “as you have to apply first to get the permit”. He also said the High Court judge might not have considered the reasons given by the minister in the affidavit.

He mentioned the one about there being already a lot of newspapers in the market and therefore the need for control. But this was not a bright move. The High Court judge had already dismissed that reason as being invalid. Why bring it up again?

The lawyer also mentioned the reason the minister had given about Malaysiakini’s tendency to highlight sensitive and controversial news on its website. That didn’t seem like a bright move either. Because Court of Appeal judge Alizatul Khair Othman retorted that security grounds had not been cited as a reason in rejecting the application. So where’s the relevance?

In the end, the Government’s lawyer must have failed to convince the three judges. They unanimously upheld the High Court’s decision and dismissed the Government’s appeal. And of course, Malaysiakini can re-submit its application.

It is highly important to consider that the Court of Appeal agrees with the High Court judge. It is important because this reaffirms the dictum that publishing a newspaper is a right, not a privilege, contrary to the Government’s thinking.

In acknowledging that, where do we go from here?"
More:
Link