How should we judge a government?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

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

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

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

Prevent bullying now!

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Too many food stalls chasing after too few customers

Having been on the 'breakfast circuit' with a few retired teachers and a retired civil servant for a number of years, I have seen enough of food stall operators and their trials and tribulations.

Generally, at the launch of a new coffee shop and its food stalls, it is crowded for the first few days. After that, whether business can be sustained would depend on the popularity of the stalls.

Some coffee shops are known for their coffee, like Sin Yoon Loong and Nam Heong in old town Ipoh. Most coffee shops depend on the popularity of their food stalls, like the famous Hakka Mee on Jalan Sultan Iskandar (old Jalan Hugh Low). Customers coming for the noodles have to order drinks from the coffee shop operator. Some famous curry noodle shops, like Nam Cheow and Sun Seng Fatt; 'nga choi kai' shops like Lou Wong and Onn Kee,  run their drinks business themselves.

So far, those well known shops are still popular and finding seats could be a problem. They have been lucky because their fame has attracted tourists from other states, Singapore or even abroad, as recommended by their local relatives or friends acting as food guides.

The situation in smaller towns like Batu Gajah and Pusing is not as promising. I have noticed restaurants which enjoyed good custom initially, had to close down because of poor business soon after. Similarly, some food stalls tried and failed at different coffee shops. There is a curry noodle stall which enjoyed initial success for a few months. But just this morning, the three siblings took turn looking at us, hoping for an order or two.

Out of our group (ranging from 2 to 8), we can only order one dish each on each of our visit. We could sense their need for our support. Sometimes, there is a tendency to order almost exclusively from one stall.

Recently, one from our group spent over 2 months in UK, and I had a break because of one or more of the following reasons: a couple used to spend alternate 2 weeks in KL; another couple used to spend a week or two in Singapore every two months or so; another couple could only come back from KL when their granddaughter is having school holidays!

The problem with food stalls not enjoying good business like before: they expect us to order from them and seem to take it personal when we order from another stall. So instead of feeling free to order what we really like on a certain day, sometimes, if the food stall operator comes near and chat with us, we feel obliged to order a dish or two from him or her! So for those who presume food business is lucrative, think again. Either the business cannot be sustained for long; while business is being carried out, whether good or bad business involves long hours starting from 4 or 5 am; or, good business means unable to take leave without feeling the losses in income foregone.

Link

Monday, October 28, 2013

Park Lane OUG condo buyer? Know about the nearest LRT station under construction?

                                          Pic courtesy of Prasarana, dated 13 March 2012

How the extension stations connect after completion...







If you are a prospective buyer, information that there is going to be an LRT station within walking distance must be a plus point. That the price of Rm350,000 for a freehold 950 sq ft furnished condo within KL should be attractive enough.

Earlier, I tried to search for more info on the LRT stations supposedly under construction, but  the nearest I could get was someone correcting another in a forum discussion, that the nearest is not OUG Heights (1,000 metres away) but PPR Taman Muhibbah (700 metres away).

This morning, I am glad I found Prasarana website on LRT Line Extension projects, which confirms that Station 2 (Kg Muhibbah) is under construction and should be ready by end of 2014. Was it for all the stations? As the date of the statement was 13 March 2012, we should bear in mind there might be inaccuracies as a result of delays. For example, if work started 'last September' and 'works for all stations should be completed within 22 months from the first piece of work', then Station 2 should have been completed by July 2013. So has it been completed?

The thing about having a LRT station near you: it should preferably be near enough to walk, but not too near to be a nuisance. Generally, I expect the condominums to appreciate in value once the LRT stations are up and operational.

For more information on the LRT extensions:
http://www.lrtextension.com/top-headline/prasarana-lrt-line-extension-projects-gains-further-momentum
For an overview of how Ampang Line and Kelana Jaya Line would join at common station 13 (Putra Heights) after completion; click on a station icon to see its progress...
http://www.lrtextension.com/top-headline/lrt-extension-project-progress-and-updates

For more information on the condominiums under contruction:
http://www.akisama.com.my/projects/parklane-oug

Update on Sept 20 2014:

Visited the site last Sunday and found Block D1 and D2 completed with roads, drains and some planted trees, awaiting handing over of vacant possession. We were not allowed by the Nepalese security guard to park and view, under strict orders by his boss who was around on the other blocks (E1 and E2) across the road leading to Kg Muhibbah flats. I presume the other blocks like C1 and C2 will be completed within months of each other. We saw the LRT line which was under construction and followed it to the flats, and sure enough, an LRT station next to them is already half completed. Further down the road, there is another station under construction, presumably OUG Heights station. We went through Taman Tan Yew Lai and came out at Jalan Awan next to Taman OUG. The Park Lane OUG condominums are being offered at around Rm450,000 now, depending on whether it comes with one or two parking lots. I expect the price to go further up once the LRT stations are completed and the trains are running.

Link

Do your know our exams passing marks are under OSA?

In her article, 'How low can you go?', The Star columnist, Leanne Goh noted:

"A few months back, a DAP MP asked the Education Minister to state the passing marks for English, Math and Science subjects. He received a written reply in Parliament that it is under the OSA and cannot be revealed."

Excerpt:

"What is the passing mark for an SPM subject? Many teachers estimate it to be seriously low for some papers, way lower than the school’s benchmark.

WHEN I last wrote that more than 100,000 students, or close to a quarter of those sitting for the SPM English, were at risk of leaving school without an SPM certificate, the response was unexpected.

“Ms Goh,” I was told, “don’t worry, the marks may be lowered even further to allow many to pass.”

And that view, I was surprised to learn, was shared by many.

Teachers who have been teaching upper secondary students as well as examiners who have been grading the exam scripts for many years let on that the passing marks are not all they seem to be."

"Those who have been examiners for many years see a pattern: the overall quality of the answer scripts has consistently been declining; the questions have been less challenging; and the structure easier to score. In some cases, the more difficult topics have also been removed from the syllabus.

The conclusion: It gets easier to score and harder to fail.

Is it any wonder then that we keep reading of more and more students scoring a string of As and yet the global benchmarking of our students is at the bottom third among 74 countries?"

"So what’s in store for a pass in SPM English?

Teachers are already speculating on ways to shore up the scores, considering that a pass has to be achieved in three short years when 70% of our 60,000 English teachers who sat for the English Language Cambridge Placement Test performed poorly.

Teachers are asking whether the oral test would be one avenue to help students meet the passing grade."

More:

Curious about our standard of English among students?

According to philanthropist, Koon Yew Yin:

"Since I began my educational philanthropic mission, I have received and read close to a thousand applications for financial assistance. At the beginning, I found that most of the applicants had fairly good SPM results and were able to express themselves reasonably well in English. But besides lacking the funds, they had difficulty in gaining admittance to universities which had stringent entry standards.

However, as time has gone by, I have been shocked by the low educational standard of the applicants and especially their poor command of the English language. I have been also shocked by the ease with which these students have been accepted by the various universities they have applied to. During my time and even until 10 years ago, they would not even have been considered for Fifth or Sixth Form entry, so low was their standards.

For example I received this application about two weeks ago:

Hi...let me introduce myself first...my name is X Y Z...hmm...i live in kampar...im 18 year old...chinese guy...boy...now i meeting finance problem to my further study....i hope Mr yew...can lead a hand to me...i will very thanks to you...hope i can solve the finance problem quickly caught my study...THANK A LOT..."

Rest of article:

Update on 'How low can you go?':
Excerpt from a letter in response, 'Questionable passing marks':

"There are Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) students who never passed their Mathematics and got between 10 and 18 marks in their trial examination yet managed to pass the subject for PMR.

Then there are Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) students who never passed Additional Mathematics and managed to get only 12 marks for the SPM trial exam yet managed to pass the subject for SPM.

I was told by a trusted examiner that the passing marks for Maths for SPM a few years ago was 5%!"

More:
http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Letters/2013/10/28/Questionable-passing-marks.aspx

Unbelievable? This is the problem with hiding the truth, we are unable to confirm if the above allegations were true.
Link

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Now I know why PM linked sugar intake to sex...

simply to get people's attention!

Here's a simple test to prove why sex will get people to read on:

Japanese couple in an argument over ways of performing highly erotic sex

 Husband: Sukitaki.

 Wife replies: Kowanini!

 Husband says: Toka a anji rodi roumi yakoo!

 Wife on her knees literally begging: Mimi nakoundinda tinkouji!

 Husband replies angrily: Na miaou kina tim kouji!.


I always knew you would read anything as long as it is about SEX.
I can't believe you sit and read this as if you understand Japanese! You are unbelievable!

Link

Saturday, October 26, 2013

GST: Theory vs Reality

I believe consumers will bear the brunt of inflationary effects when GST takes effect on April 1, 2015.
We have experienced before, how each fuel price increase often resulted in higher prices of goods and services than expected or should be. Even with chicken prices, a minister's one-off visit to the market is not going to change the 'take it or leave it' prices charged by sellers, especially during festive seasons.
Similarly, we can expect consumers to be at the mercy of ignorant or profiteering traders and retailers.
In theory, GST at 6% is imposed only on the value added portion at each stage of the supply chain. But in practice, who is to decide whether this is strictly applied? To Customs & Excise, so long as the net amount (output tax less input tax) is properly accounted for, there is no offence. So there is no stopping a wholesaler applying 6% on 106 charged by manufacturer; and the retailer charging 6% on the 112.36 charged by the wholesaler. The so-called 'value-added' portion is subjective and is likely to be included in the profit margin of the trader.
One way to prove this is to compare the prices of retailers on March 31 and April 1, 2015. In theory, for those under SST, there should be a lowering of prices as a result of the abolished Service Tax of 10% and Sales Tax of 5%, and the imposition of a lower 6% GST. But will this happen?
GST has been touted by those in favour that it is more transparent, more accountable unlike the old SST. But for this to happen, a business entity has to be fully compliant with the use of computerised system of accounting. Again, we are assuming that all affected businesses will be registered and have in place proper accounting systems. By the way, there will be an increase in capital expenditure on computers and system as well as accounting fees. How long will it take for proper enforcement to ensure this will happen in most cases? We are often told of the lack of enforcement officers when people complained of many people flouting the law.
There will be opportunists who are unregistered but will still charge the prevailing GST to increase their profit margins, at the expense of the consumers.
As I understand it, those dealing with exempted goods and services need not register for GST. For those dealing with zero-rated goods and services, they are expected to register so that they can claim back their Input GST, thereby lowering their costs.
A housing developer has already commented that even though houses are not subject to GST, he expects his development costs to increase as a result of many building materials being subject to it. Was there a presumption that those items were not previously under SST? Or, was he expecting a free for all kind of imposition of GST regardless of the superseded SST?
Update: IT'S A LIE that GST will be cheaper than existing sales tax - Kian Ming

"The truth is that the items taxed under the Sales Tax and the Service Tax is far less than what is taxed under the GST which means that the prices of the majority of goods and services will INCREASE because of the GST even AFTER the removal of the SST.
What the BN has not told the rakyat is that many items are currently exempt under the sales tax. According to the Sales Tax (Rates of Tax No.2) 2012, the number of items which are exempt under the Sales Tax i.e. NOT TAXED runs to 250 pages.[1] In contrast, the number of items which are zero rated under the GST - NOT TAXED at any point of the supply chain – is only 21 pages long.[2]
Some of the items which are not charged under the sales tax but will be charged under the GST include many non-luxury items such as milk, coffee, tea, mineral water, canned fruit, newspapers, stationary, school bags, and boxes, just to name a few. Electricity consumption above 200kwH (any amount above RM50) will also be charged GST. The prices of these goods will definitely INCREASE after the GST because the removal of the SST has no effect on their prices."

More:
http://www.bm.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=98642:gst-will-be-cheaper-than-existing-sales-tax-is-a-lie-kian-ming&Itemid=2#ixzz2iv9aiMGh 

Link

Malaysiakini: Budget 2014 Middle income package

GST @ 6% shown graphically

Many people are confused how GST will affect consumers. I find the following graphic in Facebook by Savemoney.my helpful...


Link

Friday, October 25, 2013

Talentcorp attracting some talented opportunists?

Like every government policy, there are loopholes which could be manipulated by some for personal gains while fulfilling the official requirements.

"THERE'S a new kid on the block who has raised many eyebrows. He's just arrived home after an overseas stint and he drives a spanking new Rolls Royce. He's just over 30 and do you think he yanked RM3 million for the shining car which boasts that "At 60mph, the only sound you hear is a clock tick"?

But he paid just one third the price and that's without breaking the law. He has returned under a programme to draw home "talented" people who have been working abroad.

The government's efforts at luring back highly trained talents via Talent Corp is part of a policy to fix the lack of talent, but those in the know say it is fraught with too many loopholes.

Talent Corp accords returnees a 15% flat rate for income tax and two tax-free CKD cars. Now if the latter is exercised, then a price advantage for buying two luxury cars like the BMW, Audi or Mercedes can be savings up to RM200,000."

"If these returning talents are deemed as key corporate players that the country so badly needs, it may be justified.

But murmurings in the job market say the contrary.

They are normally in their early thirties, wanting to come home anyway as the job market in Europe is not so rosy at the moment.

"The current mutter in the market is that if you want two duty-free cars – get a relative or friend who is coming back to apply to Talent Corp. Chances are high that you will get approval as Talent Corp needs to fulfil its KPI," says an insider in the banking fraternity."

More:
The Sun: When incentives go wrong by Nadeswaran
http://www.thesundaily.my/node/228006

Update:
SHOCKER! RM2 MIL TAX WAIVER for 32-yr-old returning M'sian to import Rolls Royce & Audi
Link

Thursday, October 24, 2013

CCTV clip on security guard shooting bank officer at Ambank




Link

When your FD (Sabah and Sarawak) is big enough to make or break you...

Excerpt from Sakmongkol AK47's article, 'Don't secede, just leave BN!':

"We do not have to wait for GE14 to oust PM Najib and BN. nor have we reached a stage where conscientious lawmakers forget about being partisan and agree on a vote of no confidence against the PM. BN presently has the numbers and has the support of an equally partisan speaker. Any motion of no confidence will be defeated."

"...If you look at point #7, it says there is no right of secession.

What do Sabahans and Sarawakians want? Since secession is not possible, the next best thing is to kick out the federal government which is the source of much of the East Malaysians’ discontent. Work with people who can make that possible.

What is to be done?

All we need do is persuade the 8 non-Muslim MPs in Sabah and the 11 non-Muslim MPs in Sarawak to leave BN. BN will be reduced by that number and will only have 114 left in parliament on their side.
Out of that 114, the 14 comes from PBB- Taib Mahmud’s party. Taib hasn’t forgotten Najib’s humiliation of him- Najib went to Sarawak and in front of thousands announced that Taib Mahmud is leaving. Either Najib must have been seized by a temporary bout of political insanity or he was plain excited- did he forget that PBB isn’t UMNO at all. Taib Mahmud certainly wasn’t an UMNO serf always forced to pay obeisance to the lord. Taib Mahmud is like the PM of Sarawak."

More:
http://sakmongkol.blogspot.com/2013/10/dont-secede-just-leave-bn.html
Link

Education: what we can learn from The Shanghai Secret... which is no secret

Excerpt:

"When you sit in on a class here and meet with the principal and teachers, what you find is a relentless focus on all the basics that we know make for high-performing schools but that are difficult to pull off consistently across an entire school system. These are: a deep commitment to teacher training, peer-to-peer learning and constant professional development, a deep involvement of parents in their children's learning, an insistence by the school's leadership on the highest standards and a culture that prizes education and respects teachers.
Shanghai's secret is simply its ability to execute more of these fundamentals in more of its schools more of the time."

"Take teacher development.
Shen Jun, Qiangwei's principal, who has overseen its transformation in a decade from a low-performing to a high-performing school, even though 40 per cent of her students are children of poorly educated migrant workers, says her teachers spend about 70 per cent of each week teaching and 30 per cent developing teaching skills and lesson planning."

"Peer review, parent training
Education experts will tell you that of all the things that go into improving a school, nothing -- not class size, not technology, not length of the school day -- pays off more than giving teachers the time for peer review and constructive feedback, exposure to the best teaching and time to deepen their knowledge of what they're teaching.
Teng said his job also includes "parent training". Parents come to the school three to five times a semester to develop computer skills so they can help their kids with homework and follow lessons online. Christina Bao, 29, who also teaches English, said she tries to chat either by phone or online with the parents of each student two or three times a week to keep them abreast of their child's progress."

"China still has many mediocre schools that need fixing. But the good news is that in just doing the things that US and Chinese educators know work, but doing them systematically and relentlessly, Shanghai has in a decade lifted some of its schools to the global heights in reading, science and math skills.
Oh, and Shen Jun, the principal, wanted me to know: "This is just the start." - NYT"

More:
http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=178922:the-shanghai-secret&Itemid=2#axzz2icUGV7fU

Link

Dr Kua Kia Soong: Expect Bigger Dam Disasters

Excerpt:

"The tragedy and disaster at the Bertam Valley, Cameron Highlands should be an eye-opener for Malaysians who have allowed the government to push through one mega dam after another especially in Sarawak.

This dam at Ringlet operates a relatively small hydroelectric plant of only 100MW by TNB and already we have seen the consequences of lax maintenance and regulation which led to sedimentation caused by unregulated “development” around the dam."

"As the sediments accumulate in the reservoir especially with unregulated wanton “development” around it, the dam gradually loses its ability to store water to drive the hydroelectric turbines. Every reservoir loses storage to sedimentation although the rate at which this happens varies according to how well the surrounding environment is regulated. The damage to the turbine blades by water–borne sand and silt also reduces their generating efficiency and incur expensive repairs.

Violent tropical storms can cause a river to carry as much sediment as it would in several "normal" years. Global warming, which is predicted to cause more intense storms, will likely increase the rate of reservoir sedimentation.

As we can expect, dams further open up remote areas to road–builders, developers, loggers, farmers and miners, accelerating deforestation and soil loss. When insufficient resettlement land is made available to the people displaced, they have no choice but to clear land further up the valley or hillside. "

"We have just witnessed the lax procedure at Bertam for evacuation when there was “controlled” release of water, when just one of the gates was opened to ease off the risk of flooding. The villagers said they could not hear the siren. Were the migrant workers briefed on the emergency response plan? Is there an emergency response plan in the event of a dam disaster?"

More:
http://www.malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/guest-columnists/60089-expect-bigger-dam-disasters
Link

Monday, October 21, 2013

Choice of PM of Malaysia is like playing musical chair among 5 families

So far, by tradition, and not by law, whoever is President of Umno becomes PM of Malaysia. Therefore, it follows, that the Deputy President becomes Deputy Prime Minister, and the 3 Vice Presidents become senior ministers, and so on.

Our First PM (of Malaya then) was Tunku Abdul Rahman, since Independence on August 31, 1957; followed by Tun Razak (PM of Malaysia by then); then Tun Hussein Onn; then Tun Dr Mahathir; then Tun Abdullah Badawi; and since 2009, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Raja Petra made an interesting observation in his latest article post-Umno elections:

"Since the 1950s Umno has seen power struggles for the top two positions.

First Onn Ja'afar was ousted. Then Tengku Rahman was ousted. Then Tun Razak died before he could be ousted, as did Tun Dr Ismail. Then Tun Ghazali was ousted. Then Hussein Onn was ousted. Then Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Tun Musa Hitam were ousted. Then Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba was ousted. Then Anwar Ibrahim was ousted. Then Tun Dr Mahathir was ousted. Finally, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was ousted.

The only way you could avoid being ousted was to die in office like Tun Razak and Tun Dr Ismail.

So what was the just-concluded Umno party election all about? Was it about bringing change to Umno? Certainly not! It is about who is going to take over as Prime Minister once the son of Tun Razak is forced out of office. Is it going to be the son of Tun Hussein Onn or the son of Tun Dr Mahathir? And he who wins the Umno Vice-Presidency can then prepare himself to take on the Deputy Presidency and from thereon the Presidency of Umno, which also means the Prime Ministership of Malaysia.

So the son of Tun Dr Mahathir did not make the Vice-Presidency. The son of Tun Hussein did. Hence the son of Tun Hussein and not the son of Tun Dr Mahathir would have a better shot at the number two slot -- and thereafter the number one slot.

It is about the son of which ex-Prime Minister will take over once the son of another ex-Prime Minister is successfully ousted from power. This is what the just-concluded Umno party election was all about."

More:
http://www.malaysia-today.net/mtcolumns/60026-the-sins-of-the-fathers-visit-the-sons

Dr Wong Chin Huat posted the following in his Facebook page (during the run-up to the Umno elections), which seem to show the connections among the families fighting for power:

Oct 19:

"UMNO Party Elections:
After the victory of the son-in-law of the 5th Prime Minister,
will the son of the 4th Prime Minister
beat the son of the 3rd Prime Minister
and threaten the son of the 2nd Prime Minister?"

"A gender-balanced reading of UMNO poll: under the leadership of the daughter-in-law of the 2nd Prime Minister, with the assistance of the son-in-law of the 5th Prime Minister, the son of the 3rd Prime Minister narrowly defeated the son of the 4th Prime Minister."

"The Romance of Four Families in UMNO:
Six PMs have come from only Five Families. Now, with the help of the son-in-law of the 5th PM, the son of the 3rd PM has narrowly beaten the son of the 4th PM, and the son of the 2nd PM is pleased. The sons and sons-in-laws of the 1st PM cannot be contacted for any comments."

'More on UMNO's history, from a learned friend:
"First pm was son of the ruler of the north. His English teacher's son became the fourth pm. And his agama teacher who established the date of Merdeka was the grandfather of the fifth pm. First pm went to study law in UK and his hostel mate became second pm who is the father of the sixth pm. They were among first members of umno which was founded by the father of third pm."


By the way, after his victory as the most popular among the 3 successfully elected Vice Presidents, Dr Zahid Hamidi cheekily thanked his critics in online news portals, for making him so popular. I think he should celebrate while he can, as champion of Malay race and religion, as well as his disregard for law and order according to international norms and standards. He played his race and religion card to the hilt in order to gain such popularity. As Raja Petra said:

'What happened yesterday was that the Malays have sent the top party leadership a message that Umno is about Malay political power and that there must be no compromise on this matter...' 

The question Malaysians should ask themselves is whether we should continue accepting Umno's leadership based on such values. It is more or less confirmed that the leaders will not change Umno for fear of losing their positions. So the only way is to choose another party and coalition to take over from Umno.

This reminds me of the Chinese saying about the power or wealth of a family cannot go beyond the third generation. So there is always the possibility that Umno's reign might end within these 5 families. There is also the famous 'RAHMAN' theory which ends with Najib. In other words, by the time Zahid gets to become President of Umno, he might be Mr. Opposition instead!


Link

Friday, October 18, 2013

This list is not going to affect hypochondriacs

but gives me an excuse for not going for a full medical check-up. I have two retiree friends who are being described by wife of one of them as 'hypochondriacs: one is 'half a kati while the other is 8 tahils'. As for me, I admit I am right so long as I am still alive and kicking. I could be a 'walking time bomb' without realising it.

12 Medical Tests and Procedures Even Doctors Claim Are Useless
August 13, 2013 by DAVE MIHALOVIC

"Doctors are often criticized for prescribing unneeded tests and procedures that harm more than they help and add to medical costs that could otherwise be avoided. 12 medical tests and procedures now being questioned worldwide as unnecessary and potentially cause -- sometimes harmful results to patients. Since a campaign was launched last year, more than 130 tests and procedures have been called into question by 25 medical specialty societies with more than 500,000 member doctors."

Briefly (headings only):
1. Avoid Inducing Labor or C-Section Before 39 Weeks...
2. Avoid Routine Annual Pap Tests
3. Avoid CT Scans To Evaluate Minor Head Injuries
4. Avoid Stress Tests Using Echocardiographic Images
5. Avoid Prescribing Type 2 Diabetes Medication To Achieve Tight Glycemic Control
6. Avoid EEGs (electroencephalography) on Patients With Recurrent Headaches.
7. Avoid Routinely Treating Acid Reflux
ADDITIONAL MEDICAL TESTS TO BE AVOIDED
8. Avoid Lipid Profile Tests
9. Avoid Mammograms
10. Avoid PSA Testing
A PSA blood test looks for prostate-specific antigen,...
11. Avoid Routine Colorectal Cancer Screening
12. Avoid DEXA
Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA)...

Rest of article:
http://preventdisease.com/news/13/081213_12-Medical-Tests-and-Procedures-Even-Doctors-Claim-Are-Useless.shtml

Meanwhile, in an unrelated development...

The American Medical Association has weighed in on Obama's new health care package.
 
The Allergists were in favor of scratching it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

Meanwhile, Obstetricians felt certain everyone was laboring under a misconception, while the Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Pediatricians said, "Oh, grow up!"

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.
 
Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing and the Internists claimed it would indeed be a bitter pill to swallow.

The Plastic Surgeons opined that this proposal would "put a whole new face on the matter". The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.

Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and those lofty Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists (doctors specializing in diseases of the rectum and anus) won out, leaving the entire decision up to the ass holes in Washington.

Link

Democracy: At which stage is Malaysia?

In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."
 
The Obituary follows:

Born 1776, Died 2011

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the last Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Obama: 19 McCain: 29
Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 McCain: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million McCain: 143 million
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2 McCain: 2.1 

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory McCain won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.

Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the
"complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegal's — and they vote — then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

Sounds very familiar, doesn't it?


Link

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Magnanimity seems absent in the majority

What we have observed recently in Malaysia, is our majority race imposing their will on minorities. We have a minister who said, 'If you are unhappy with the political system, leave the country.' More recently, with the Allah issue, someone has suggested that for those who cannot accept Islamic values, then they should leave too.

What seems surprising is that we did not have such problems before, so why now? There must have been a major change in mindset of the leaders which led to this state of affairs. Why? Because of Umno party elections, which decide for us, who should be PM, DPM and other senior ministers.  Candidates for positions such as President, Deputy President and 3 Vice Presidents would go all out to ensure their victories, which ensure their respective positions as powerful leaders of Malaysia.

By now, after so many years under Umno rule, we have come to expect incumbents as well as aspiring candidates to play their racial and religious cards so that they can get the necessary support from the delegates. Without fail, we notice the transformation of leaders who had been inclusive before (in order to gain support from voters during GE), becoming totally different creatures at Umno meetings. Had they been reasonable, it would have been palatable. But recent statements seem to suggest anything but. It is a 'take it or leave it' attitude thrown at the minorities.

Under normal circumstances, the majority race of a country is likely to be self-confident, caring and even magnanimous towards the minorities. The origin of affirmative policies  elsewhere, was for the protection of minorities, not majority, since the latter have political power and control. How different it would be, if the majority race could be less domineering when making policies and in implementation.

I wish to provide a personal example of how things can change for the better (or at least fairer), if only the majority takes the initiative:

My father's distribution formula for 6 sons and 3 daughters was: each son had one share and each daughter had half share, based on and influenced by customs and tradition. But my mother wished for equal share for all. She asked me to prepare her will which appointed an elder brother and myself as executors. Both of us did as instructed, but to the displeasure of another brother when the will was disclosed after my mother's demise. The moral of the story? Both of us (and other brothers had to) were prepared to accept a smaller share each because of the change in distribution formula. The amounts involved were nothing to shout about, yet my sisters were so grateful to us, just for being fair.

When my elder daughter wished to study in UK (because she was born in Malaysia, and heard so much about her brother's first few years there), we had to forgo trying for local scholarships offered by our government. Though we had our doubts about the fairness in the decision-making process, she could have been successful, even if the course offered might not be the one preferred. Some of her school mates with lesser results were successful and most people would compare and note that we had been foolish in not trying for government scholarship. But when I thought of someone else getting a scholarship because she did not apply in competition, instead of envy, I felt good about it! It all depends on our mindset.

Link

Monday, October 14, 2013

An argument in folly?

I am referring to Shamsul Akmar's (editor of 'The Mole') article in New Sunday Times dated October 13:

TWIST: Economist, newspaper contradict each other over criticism of affirmative action

'It is not Bumiputeras who are depriving non-Bumiputeras of opportunities in the private sector as it is dominated and controlled by non-Bumiputeras.'

More:
http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/an-argument-in-folly-1.374590

I have followed arguments on this topic before and we can never reach an agreement, with each side refusing to accept the other's reasons.

From a non-Bumiputera's point of view, government policies favouring Bumiputeras are many, in terms of education, employment and business opportunities. Before I continue, is there an agreement on this? If not, then it is best left to the employers (other than government-controlled), be they private sectors or multi-national corporations, to select their employees. They are the ones who make such decisions, not us.

Let's just leave race out of this for a moment. Anyone who can fit these job requirements will be chosen:
*ability to speak, read and write Mandarin;
*has a driving licence;
*willing to work beyond working hours, if and when necessary;

I am Chinese, but not literate in Mandarin, I do not stand a chance at all. If it is a family business and the patriarch or matriarch can only speak his or her own dialect, then anyone who can communicate well with him or her will be preferred.

Is it true that our government schools and higher institutions of learning had been lowering entry requirements and lowering passing marks? I am assuming it is true, and I wish others to imagine the effects of these government actions over the years, to please the majority and for political expediency. For those who disagree, then I wish to refer them to the right of employers to select employees who fit their requirements. In this case, I wish to include multi-national companies who are likely to insist on proficiency in English, and in the case of companies having dealings with China, the need to be literate in Mandarin, besides being qualified for the job.

Recently, with the increasing importance of doing business in China, many Chinese-educated Malaysians were spoilt for choice (qualified in various disciplines which are in demand, like accountants). They could choose between working in China or Singapore. Similarly, for those proficient in English and if this is the main language of communication in MNCs, they were preferred over those who were not.

In other words, for those who have what it takes, they have a wider market to choose from, whether to work overseas, in Singapore, or remain in Malaysia.

Without getting worked up in arguing who is right or wrong over our well known affirmative action in favour of majority race, it is up to the individuals to decide whether to improve themselves in terms of education, language ability, knowledge of IT, and so on, to increase their chances of getting good jobs with excellent advancement opportunities.

Update Oct 24:

"The original interview was about the high level of unemployment of graduates in Malaysia. I had said that many of our graduates (not singling out any race) are not only unemployed but more seriously are “unemployable” due to the drastic decline in the quality of education received. This problem is recognized by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he mooted setting up a Graduate Employability Taskforce with an allocation of RM200 million to make graduates more employable during the 2013 Budget presentation. He also announced an additional RM440 million for the Skills Development Fund Corporation.

Something has gone terribly wrong with our higher education system. It is well known that the standard of our education has declined drastically the last 40 years. After spending billions of ringgit to train our graduates, they are still not up to standard for employment. The government has to spend another RM640 million ringgit to make them more employable.

Even the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and the Ministry of Manpower have highlighted this problem. According to the MOHE, a total of 184,581 students graduated in 2011, and 44,391 or 24 per cent, mostly bachelor’s degree holders, are unemployed. Arts and Social Sciences graduates form the highest number of unemployed, constituting 45 per cent.

In the medical field, about 8,000 nursing graduates have not secured jobs. According to Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, this phenomenon is because of “the low quality of nurses, including poor language proficiency and nursing skills and training. Because of this most of them have been unemployed two years after graduation.” (NST, 8 October 2012).

In November 2011, a Jobstreet poll of human resource managers in the country found that more than 50 per cent of respondents said they were unable to hire the graduates due to “poor communication skills, notably lack of command of the English language”.

In short this problem is not a racial problem but a socio-economic malaise that must be rationally examined without racial mongering. But unfortunately it has been spun into a racial issue."

More:
Mah Hui responds to Mahathir and Shamsul
http://anilnetto.com/society/media/lim-mah-hui-responds-to-mahathir-and-akmar/

Link

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why fret over GST?

As far as I am concerned, with the GE13 over, and the two top posts in Umno went unchallenged, the introduction of GST is a given, come this Budget Day.

Despite numerous articles on the proposed GST, a retired teacher told us at breakfast: 'I read Dr. Fong Chan Onn's article, but still cannot understand.' I can understand why. Normally, someone with a Ph D tends to be verbose and lengthy in their explanation, except, Dr Zahid, who is best at swift solutions like 'shoot first', based on racial prejudice and 'criminal look'. I wonder how he defended his Ph D thesis 5 years ago.

Anyway, I do not understand why the retiree bother to try and understand the workings of GST, when as a consumer, he could just get used to the new prices after implementation, just like before, whenever there was a change for one reason or other.

As a consumer, he does not need to register for GST nor need to account for it. Just pay whatever is charged. He does not need to know whether the shop is properly registered nor whether they account for the tax properly.

Whether we have been overcharged, with or without a reason, the best solution is just to boycott the shop or stall. There is no use in arguing nor being right, backed with facts and figures.

I have tried before: trying to explain certain things, but would give up when I got interrupted or I noticed the listener losing interest or attention. The same retiree's standard joke when approached by someone who tried to introduce some investment plans: I'm interested in months, preferably days... don't tell me anything which is more than a year as I don't think I can live beyond that!

In my opinion, sooner or later, GST will be implemented because of it being a convenient source of revenue and the ease the rate can be adjusted. Even with strong opposition from the opposition and the public, soon the oil will dry up or our extravagant expenditures will see to its introduction to make ends meet.

For a more straightforward explanation of GST...
http://www.kinibiz.com/story/issues/52351/nine-things-to-know-about-the-gst.html

For an overly simplified example of GST (like using 10% rate)...

Business:                         A B C       Total
Selling price before GST 1.00 1.20 1.50
Value added                          0.20 0.30      0.50

SP after GST @ 10% 1.10 1.32 1.65
GST payable to Govt 0.10 0.02 0.03     0.15

Note:
The GST comprises (0.10 + 0.02 + 0.03) which totalled 0.15 or 10% of final selling price 1.50.
Business A is presumed to have no input GST and therefore pays Govt 0.10 charged to B;
Business B pays net GST (output tax 0.12 charged to C, less input tax 0.10 paid to A) = 0.02.
Business C pays net GST (output tax 0.15 charged to consumer less input tax 0.12 paid to B) = 0.03


Link

A bit on Zahid's Ph D thesis

A search for Dr. Zahid Hamidi's doctoral thesis would lead to Education in Malaysia website, where Ong Kian Ming posted a critique on it, almost exactly 5 years ago. I am sure most people would like to know the title of his thesis: "Barisan Nasional Manifesto As Agenda for Malay Language Newspaper During the General Election Campaign."

According to a fellow Ph D graduand, Grace Lee,
"His thesis title is: "MANIFESTO BARISAN NASIONAL SEBAGAI AGENDA AKHBAR BAHASA MELAYU SEMASA TEMPOH KEMPEN PILIHANRAYA UMUM". The thesis is apparently written in Bahasa Malaysia (The thesis can either be written in BM or English)."

Ong quoted from the Ministry of Information website:

"The study was undertaken to identify the usage of BN manifesto as an agenda for the Malay language newspapers namely Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian during the general elections in 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995 dan 1999.
Commenting on his thesis, Dr Zahid said that based on the research the manifesto, which is regarded as a promise by BN, was the basis for the success and support obtained by the party during the general elections.
If the manifesto announced provided something good for the rakyat, the effect would be seen from the number of popular votes and increase in the number of seats won by BN, he said."

For more of Ong Kian Ming's comments:
http://educationmalaysia.blogspot.com/2008/10/phd-for-zaid-hamidi.html
Link

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meaning of 'Wait till you get home'







If a picture is worth a thousand words... then the above is equivalent to 5,000? But it simply means, 'Wait till you get home'!

Another 'wait till you get home' moment...


To be fair, Rosmah wasn't present in this pic, which had been doctored.
Link

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

C T Ali on 'How does a cop lose a car?

Excerpt:

"Just imagine this conversation between patrolman Aziz whose car got stolen and his colleague Mat at the Sentul police station.

Aziz: Allo…Balai Polis Sentul (BPS)?
BPS: Selamat Petang tuan Balai Polis Sentul di sini!
Aziz: Mat itu engkau ka? Ni Ajis lah.
BPS: Ahhh Ajis…ni Mat ni.
Aziz: Mat kereta aku kena curi lah!
BPS: (after looking out in the courtyard and seeing Ajis’s Kancil still park there!)…kereta kau masih ada kat sini lah!
Aziz: Bukan kereta aku….kereta Peronda lah!
BPS: Masallah!
His problem starts from there! His colleagues at the station will be laughing their heads off at what has happened.
The guys who stole the car will also be laughing their heads off, too, at what they have done and only Aziz is the miserable one.
Now if the police cannot find the 29 cars that were stolen how can we expect them to find the ones reported by the public? Does that thought not worry you?"

More:
http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/10/08/how-does-a-cop-lose-a-car/
Link

Party electoral system: Umno vs DAP

The candidate with the most number of votes at the recent DAP CEC re-election, Liew Chin Tong, is not at all upset with the status quo of the party hierarchy, despite goading by some outsiders that he should be Secretary-General instead of Lim Guan Eng. He explains why, to Utusan Malaysia, the difference between Umno and DAP electoral systems...

"Umno has a system that ostensibly allows for election of key office bearers. On paper it looks democratic. But only on two occasions have Umno presidents had to face a challenger: in 1978 Tun Hussein Onn had to fend off Sulaiman Palestine and in 1987 Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad survived a challenge by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah by a mere 43 votes.

Malaysian history would have been very different had Tengku Razaleigh won the Umno election. Or had Umno made it much easier to contest against the president, some of Umno best leaders would have taken turns to serve as Malaysia’s prime ministers. Tun Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim are the prime ministers we never had, in part because Umno’s electoral system is biased towards incumbent presidents.

In the end, Umno presidents could only be removed through party coups. Indeed, Dr Mahathir had a hand in undermining the premierships of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Abdullah Badawi. Tun Razak died prematurely in office. Next we wait to see Dr Mahathir’s knife being pointed at Datuk Seri Najib Razak, especially if Mukhriz Mahathir fails to win his vice-president’s post."

"Since the formation of DAP in 1966, all top leaders have to go through election once every three years. Delegates elect 20 members to form the central committee, which in turn elects among its members the office bearers. The 20 elected leaders further appoint another 10 persons to join the central committee.

In all the years that Lim Kit Siang was secretary-general, he never topped the list of votes. It was only in 2008 and 2012, when he was no longer secretary-general, that he received the most number of votes.

Secretary-generals have to run the party and make decisions. Not every decision pleases every single member. Which is why there is a saying among DAP leaders that whoever appointed to chair the Disciplinary Committee – the unit that is supposed to crack the whip, including proposing to sack members – would expect a decline in votes."

"Second, has Umno ever elected a non-Malay to its supreme council?

Of course this is just a rhetorical question, a reminder that non-Malays are barred from joining Umno.

Umno and its surrogates have accused the DAP of not electing Malay members into the CEC, except for Zairil Khir Johari. In their mind, it’s always the skin colour."

"Third, does Umno provide enough opportunities for young people to be in the party leadership?

I suspect there is something that Umno members are quietly amazed by DAP and felt let down by their own party and leaders: that the DAP has youth power.

40% of the 20 DAP elected CEC members were born after 1970. Chong Chieng Jen (MP for Bandar Kuching), Nga Kor Ming (Taiping), Tony Pua (Petaling Jaya Utara), Gobind Singh (Puchong), Loke Siew Fook (Seremban) and myself were born after 1970 while Teo Nie Ching (Kulai) and Zairil Khir Johari (Bukit Bendera) were born after 1980.

DAP has a strong pioneer generation cohort that are the moral pillars of the party; for instance, Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang evoke deep emotions. The middle-age generation leaders have at least 20 years of experience of electoral politics under their belt.

Lim Guan Eng, Chow Kon Yeow, Teresa Kok, Teng Chang Khim, Chong Eng and Ngeh Koo Ham as well as Dr Boo Cheng Hau have vast experience both in opposition and in state governments while Tan Kok Wai and M. Kula Segaran and Fong Kui Lun are the resilient veteran leaders."

More:
What Utusan doesn’t know about DAP
http://blog.limkitsiang.com/2013/10/08/what-utusan-doesnt-know-about-dap/
Link

Zaid shoots down Zahid's 'Shoot first' policy

The Malay Mail : Zaid: Malaysia en route to failed state with ‘shoot first’ approach 

Excerpt:

"Malaysia risks becoming a “failed state” if the police takes a “shoot first” policy in dealing with criminal suspects, former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said today as he called for Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who advocated the approach to be replaced.

Zaid, who was the de facto law minister during the Abdullah administration, said a “failed state” is where lawlessness prevails, noting that a “shoot first” approach to law enforcement signals that the authorities themselves are the law, and that there is “no need for investigation and public trial”.

“Zahid Hamidi should be replaced immediately if the PM is to salvage anything left of his administration,” Zaid told The Malay Mail Online via email today, referring to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak."

More:
http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/zaid-malaysia-en-route-to-failed-state-with-shoot-first-approach
Link

Monday, October 07, 2013

Reactions to RoS's unfair actions become racially sensitive?

What would you do if you had been unfairly treated? It is common in Malaysia to find policies which are based on race, with blatant racial discrimination. It is no use saying one thing and practise another: 1Malaysia; all are treated equally, no one is being left out; special provisions for one race will not affect other races; and so on.

Yet, whenever anyone questioned such policies (which invariably would touch on race) he becomes a racist! Therefore, many non-Malays have unwittingly become enforced racists because they react to racialist government policies.

See what New Sunday Times highlighted, based on just one PKR member's comment...

PKR man: Guan Eng should stop bashing RoS
'RUDE': 'DAP secretary-general does not understand his party's constitution'
"All he knows is to attack Malay civil servants, such as the director-general of RoS."

Read more: 

For the legal argument, I suggest he should read this MP's letter to Malaysiakini...

If ROS boss still confused, he should resign
Gobind Singh Deo
3:47PM Sep 28, 2013

Is RoS himself super efficient that he is free from criticism? The latest A-G report shows how inefficient the department had been...

A-G report: ROS wasted RM121,000 on online system
by loshana k shagar

More:

RoS's double-standard in administration is obvious...

‘AG Report shows ROS targeting DAP’
Anisah Shukry | October 3, 2013

'While it had 'harassed' the DAP for months over its CEC elections, the ROS had failed to take action against at least 90 errant societies since last year.'
More:

I shall leave it to readers to form their own opinions.

Update:
Excerpt from The Malaysian Insider: Of running dogs, misunderstanding and proving the phrase

"The police need to act on the crime and security of the country, not on people who have a better understanding of the English language.

Or is that a crime too?

The real crime is acting with alacrity on the matter and proving how true it is for Pua to use that phrase against the authorities and the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia. - October 7, 2013."

More:
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/of-running-dogs-misunderstanding-and-proving-the-phrase
Link

Sunday, October 06, 2013

How to improve English when there is no wish for exposure?

Ideally, to learn a language, it is best to be in a country where it is spoken, and you had to learn it so as to be able to communicate with others in your daily life. But I had come across Malaysian students who did their degree courses in Britain but without much improvement to their standard of oral English. The main reason was because they tended to stick to their Malaysian circle of friends and made no effort in mixing with the locals.

When my daughter Cheng went to Japan as an exchange student, with the little Japanese I had learnt before, I knew more Japanese than her. But being thrown into the deep end (enrolled in a top Japanese high school), and with encouragement and help from her host mother, she managed to pass Level 2 (skipped elementary 4 and 3) after one year. Similarly, during her first summer holiday (Essex University), she travelled in Mexico to learn the Spanish language (for this she got exempted from Elementary) and passed her optional language paper.

In Malaysia, there is now an effort to re-introduce English as a compulsory subject in SPM in 2015. Many believe the students are not ready for it, but how can we, if we do not make an effort?

At a local restaurant where I used to go for dinner when alone, the boss's wife would ask me for help in her sons' English homework. They have two sons studying in a Chinese primary school, and normally they are seen doing their homework while watching television... but only Chinese programmes. I advised her to switch to English news (it was after NTV7's English news at 8, but TV2's was on at 8.30 pm) so that her sons can get some exposure to English, and she replied, 'They won't understand the language'. She did not make an effort because 'The legend of Kublai Khan' (in Mandarin) was on.

The above scenario sums up what is wrong with some people's approach to learning an important language. As a reminder, China is the most populated country in the world and because of this, Mandarin is the most used language. But in terms of internet use, English is the top language used, so anyone who wish to widen his or her knowledge has to learn this language. We cannot rely on translation because news on discoveries are being transmitted in seconds, and nobody (even those well versed in English) can claim to be able to know everything published or posted in the internet.

In terms of communication between two persons, I actually had trouble communicating with the woman, who speaks Mandarin and Hokien (she could be Teochew), while I know little of Mandarin and some expressions are easier using Cantonese which she has trouble understanding. I cannot find a common language or dialect between us, to discuss on certain topics. She would not even know the topics if I mentioned in English or Bahasa Malaysia terms, though she could communicate in BM in her normal work. In fact, with the basic BM I know, I find I can communicate better with a Malay than with her because there is a common language.

From my personal experience, I found that even with an A2 in General Paper (English) when I did my HSC, my oral English was not good enough. Before the results, a close friend who borrowed my class essays (having heard I got As) commented: 'The writer of these essays and you, seem like two different persons'!
When I was working in UK, my boss actually asked me if I think in English because I was  normally slow in reply. Even now, it is common for most of us to think in terms of our own mother tongue or a local language and translate it to English, which is not as natural as a native speaker. By the way, there are now some young Malaysians who are being brought up by their English-speaking parents, and they actually think in English. Most of them do not know their own dialects!

Speaking English is just like speaking a dialect, so a person who can speak in English may not necessarily be literate (able to read and write). Even with educated Britons, I found my spelling better. Once, I asked a colleague how he would spell the word, 'supersede'. He spelt it as 'supercede' and I was confirmed right after checking with a dictionary. He said he was so sure of his own spelling of the word that he would not even think of looking it up. In fact, this particular word is one of the most commonly misspelt words, even now, by journalists or even editors.

It is easier to be able to read than be able to write, because the former relies on recognition while the latter requires more knowledge. But a person who is good in writing may not necessarily be good in speaking the language, especially if he or she did not practise enough.


Link

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tong Kooi Ong touched on how he had to sell Phileo Allied Bank

I used to have an account with Phileo Allied Securites as well as Phileo Allied Bank. I even had a computer supplied by the bank to gain access to trading prices and to trade online. It was innovative then as Phileo was the first bank to be able to do so, with much limitations when compared to what we have now, from other banks.

It was rumoured then that Tong was under pressure to sell off his stockbroking firm and bank to Malayan Banking Bhd., which many believed had something to do with his close connections with ex-DPM, Anwar Ibrahim. That he was under pressure then (though not the political part) was confirmed in his latest article, 'Say NO to Corporate Kings'...

Excerpt:

"The role of every Government is to do what is best for its people.  “What is best” is often debated, lacks clarity and changes over time.  Besides, it differs from one person, or group of persons, to another.

Luckily, there is no ambiguity in economics.  “What is best for the consumer” is more choices, lower prices and better quality. Clear, concise and quantifiable.

Yet, why is it so difficult for many Governments to deliver what is best for the consumer? Why can’t Governments deliver something as simple as what is best for the people in terms of goods and services?"

"Nothing is more real than personal experiences, where anti-competitive behaviors come in different forms. Let me share a few.

In 1995 when PhileoAllied Bank introduced online banking and stockbroking, the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange tried to stop this innovation by going to the courts. The reason was to protect their market share and commission rates.

And after the successful launch of OneAccount in 1996, the first current account that pays fixed deposit interest rates, Bank Negara stopped the launch of the OneCorporate account that would have given companies the same benefit. A few large banks protested.

In the name of consolidation of the banking sector, an innovative, technologically superior and profitable bank was forced to be sold in 2001.

More recently, on 20 August 2013, The Edge Communication received approval for its application of a publishing permit to publish a general daily newspaper, FZ.

On 28 August 2013, we received another letter from the Ministry that said “Penangguhan Permit Penerbitan”. The approval we received just a week earlier was now “deferred”. No reason and no indication for how long was given.

What happened during the one week, between 20 August and 28 August 2013? Three guys, each involved in separate media companies, met together and with others.

By 23 August 2013, I was already informed of the contents of the Home Ministry letter of 28 August 2013. The CEO of The Edge Media Group was told by one of the three guys.

The Government, which regulates the private sector, has now become “regulated” by such powerful private sector elites.

More important is the question WHY. Is it good for the consumer and the public?

Looking back at history, I entered into a partnership with the Berjaya group to combine The Edge and TheSun in 2002.  TheSun was turned around and Berjaya wanted to part ways in 2008.

In recent times, I have been approached if I would consider buying TheSun again.

I was also asked if I would consider partnering The Malay Mail and Malaysian Reserve.

FZ getting a license to publish a general daily newspaper would obviously be a threat to other publications. It will also remove a “rent-seeking” opportunity to some others who might profit from selling their licenses."

More:
http://www.tongkooiong.com/2013/10/say-no-to-corporate-kings.html

Link

Friday, October 04, 2013

With the PCA Amendment Bill passed in Parliament, we can now say proper Good Night?


It was a given that the PCA Amendment Bill will be passed in Parliament, knowing that BN has the majority of votes. Sideshows included criticisms levelled at opposition MPs for not attending (some were actually overseas) to at least show their strong opposition (even if it was unlikely to affect the voting); and the support given by MCA and Gerakan for the Bill, despite their earlier show of opposition to it.

As usual, we have many doubters about the new law (which we have been repeatedly given assurance by ministers that it was unlike the old ISA), but reading the article below, we have reasons to believe the doubters more than the ministers:

In The Sun: What is in a name? by Natalie Shobana Ambrose

Excerpt:

"When the Internal Security Act was repealed, many applauded. Sceptics, however, knew such forward measures would be short lived and they are right.

This week Parliament debated on the return of preventive detention adding revisions to the Prevention of Crime Act to lower the crime rate – so it seems. The problem is there is no surety that these laws will not be open to abuse.

It may be easy to look at the amendments as curbing crime but on the reverse, it can be used to impede civil society and civil movements. What does that mean?

According to reports, one can be placed in detention for up to two years (renewable) and without the right to legal representation with a limited scope of appeal."

"The PCA amendments cannot be looked at in isolation either. The Penal Code is also being beefed up with the government proposing that 5-15 year prison terms be made mandatory for promoting a false national flag and "vandalism", the definition of which includes the displaying of banners or placards without permission, to carry a three-year prison term. There also seems no way out of this as the proposal includes curtailing the judges' powers to favour the minimum mandatory sentences."
"But you might say, that's not going to happen because we've got an oral assurance that such abuse will not happen. See, that's the funny thing about gentlemen's agreements – not many of the people giving us these assurances are gentlemen.

Even if they are, what will happen when they are no more in power to give such assurances? The bottom line is that the law supersedes as it should and this is the very reason why such amendments should ring alarm bells because repealing the ISA and adding such amendments to the PCA only begs the question "what is in a name?"

For more and examples of likely scenarios:
http://www.thesundaily.my/node/225313

Link

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Lack of common sense or logic and not being IT savvy


Since the advent of computers, followed by the internet, many of us are affected. Suddenly, there is a division between those who are IT-savvy and those who refused to accept new technologies. Some prefer to make do without owning a computer or even a mobile phone.

Generally, the younger generation takes in new technologies like ducks to water; mainly because their minds tend to be more logical, and logic seems to be the most important factor to anyone who wishes to take up computer science.

Between IT-savvy and not, it is surprising to find some very successful men or women who are normally brimming with self-confidence, appear to become stupid because of their lack of logic or common sense when using IT-related equipment.

Some examples (actual call centre conversations) to illustrate the lack of logic or common sense:

This one is simply without common sense...
Customer: "I've been ringing 0800 2100 for two days and can't get through to inquiries, can you help?".
Operator: "Where did you get that number from, sir?".
Customer: "It was on the door to the Travel Center".
Operator: "Sir, they are our opening hours".

This one expects too much from computer programs...
Caller: "I deleted a file from my PC last week and I have just realized that I need it. If I turn my system clock back two weeks will I have my file back again?".

This one has something to do with English pronunciations...
Tech Support: "I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop".
Customer: "OK".
Tech Support: "Did you get a pop-up menu?".
Customer: "No".
Tech Support: "OK. Right-Click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?"
Customer: "No".
Tech Support: "OK, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?".
Customer: "Sure. You told me to write 'click' and I wrote 'click'".

This one has no common sense whatsoever or 'too stupid to own a computer' ...
Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee. (Now I know why they record these conversations!)
Operator: "Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?"
Caller: "Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."
Operator: "What sort of trouble??"
Caller: "Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."
Operator: "Went away?"
Caller: "They disappeared."
Operator: "Hmm So what does your screen look like now?"
Caller: "Nothing."
Operator: "Nothing??"
Caller: "It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."
Operator: "Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??"
Caller: "How do I tell?"
Operator: "Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??"
Caller: "What's a sea-prompt?"
Operator: "Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?"
Caller: "There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."
Operator: "Does your monitor have a power indicator??"
Caller: "What's a monitor?"
Operator: "It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on??"
Caller: "I don't know."
Operator: "Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??"
Caller: "Yes, I think so."
Operator: "Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall.
Caller: "Yes, it is."
Operator: "When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??"
Caller: "No."
Operator: "Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."
Caller: "Okay, here it is."
Operator: "Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."
Caller: "I can't reach."
Operator: "Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??"
Caller: "No."
Operator: "Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??"
Caller: "Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark."
Operator: "Dark??"
Caller: "Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.
Operator: "Well, turn on the office light then."
Caller: "I can't."
Operator: "No? Why not??"
Caller: "Because there's a power failure."
Operator: "A power........ A power failure? Aha, Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??"
Caller: "Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."
Operator: "Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it Then take it back to the store you bought it from."
Caller: "Really? Is it that bad?"
Operator: "Yes, I'm afraid it is."
Caller: "Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??"
Operator: "Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer!"    


Link

Tong Kooi Ong's analysis of the business of MCA

"...Since March 2010 under the present President, the stock price of Star Publications (M) Bhd has dropped from RM3.35 to RM2.40 presently (or by 28.4%). Unrealised capital loss for MCA is RM297.8 million!
During this same period, Bursa Malaysia’s Composite Index gained a whopping 33%.

Firstly, I was surprised that the President of MCA articulated on making money as a political party. But even if that was an objective, it actually lost almost RM300 million instead. To be kinder, adding back dividends paid, it broke-even.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no interest in MCA politics. As an analyst, the recent debates call for an analysis of the facts. And in so doing, questions beg to be answered."

More:
Link