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.)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rivalry between doctors and plumbers becoming a joke

A doctor calls a plumber in the middle of the night.
“Why are you ringing me at this hour?” said the plumber.
“Look, its an emergency” said the doctor. “If it was the other way round you’d expect me to come out, wouldn’t you?”
“Okay” said the plumber. “Whats the problem”
“The toilet is broken” said the doctor.
The plumber then said “Give it two aspirin and call me again if its not better in the morning.”

A pipe burst in a doctor’s house so he calls a plumber. The plumber arrives, unpacks his tools, fixed the leak then hands the doctor a bill for $400.
The doctor exclaims “This is ridiculous! I don’t even make that much as a doctor!”
The plumber replies “Neither did I when I was a doctor!!”

But how can anything on jokes not involve the Irish?

What did the Irish plumber say when he dumped his wife?
“Its over Flo!!”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Miscom with a foreign worker

Apparently, what seems to be a simple instruction to clean a car : 'cuci luar dan dalam' (clean outside and inside), results in this...


For goodness sake, leave the private sector alone

The private sector is the only private turf left for genuine entrepreneurs to try their luck and excel in what they do. They use their own capital or borrow from banks at their own risks to carry out their businesses. They know best what should be done and there should be non-interference from the government.

So far, Umno Youth chief and Youth Minister had tried to look into employment practices in the private sector to see if they had been fair to his race. Then he tried to seek positions for his youth leaders in the GLCs. Well, as a leader of a racist party, he is duty bound to do that. The government has the power to implement all kinds of policies and I think it is fair to say, with only limited success. We could have done better. With a poor track record, any government interference in the private sector is only going to hamper its success thus far.

Excerpt from P Dev Anand Pillai's letter to Malaysiakini: Why monitor ethnic mix in the private sector?

'The Malay Economic Action Council has urged the federal government to monitor the racial composition of the workforce in the private sector and the salaries that they earn so that wealth of these private sector enterprises can be better distributed amongst the workforce.

This proposal can be seen as desperate because there is a large pool of young unemployed university and college graduates who are still unemployed after completing their courses. But as they urge the federal government to do this, have we stopped to ask ourselves whether the federal government itself is practising what these NGOs are urging it to enforce?'

'... if the civil service prefers the Malays for the top positions in its various departments and levels of governance and management, why can’t the private sector favour the non-Malays?

We can’t force the private sector to show an ethnic mix because the private sector is not welfare based, it is driven by performance and with performance comes productivity and with productivity comes bigger monetary gains for the sector. When we talk about performance, we don’t see the race and religion of the individual, if the individual can perform in accordance to the demands of his job responsibility, the race and religion is not a concern at all.

Have we stopped to think why we need to seek the assistance of a Bangladeshi petrol station supervisor or counter clerk as opposed to our own local unemployed youth? It is all because of the performance and ability. The Bangladeshis are willing to do it whereas our youth just don't seem to be bothered.'



Friday, August 29, 2014

When 'you've lost weight' can be so depressing

While most people, especially those who are overweight, would welcome such a comment, I dread it. Overweight people, especially those considered obese, would have tried all kinds of treatment to reduce their weight, like for eg. as reported in The Guardian:

Jenni Murray joins growing number of Britons to have gastric surgery
Number of people having drastic weight loss surgery like that undergone by Woman's Hour presenter has soared 2,000% in 10 years

I had been losing weight for some months now, and not only I noticed it (waist from 36" to 34" and face looking haggard), but almost everyone I met (those who haven't seen me for some time) said so. A woman friend who met me at a bank even said loudly, 'Are you ill?', much to my embarrassment.

During my mother-in-law's funeral wake, my doctor sister-in-law whispered to me, 'Not only I said so, but so and so... you better go for a check-up. I replied, 'How can I not feel depressed when everyone seems to tell me this?' She consoled me, 'Ok, ok, if you don't want to go for a check-up, but please don't feel depressed.'

Honestly, other than a general loss in appetite, I feel alright, except that a doctor friend commented that my palms look very pale, which suggest anaemia. Ah, that reminded me, because when I was in secondary school, my tiredness was diagnosed as being anaemic and at the time, I hate eating vegetables, which explained the reason. Since then, I had been trying hard to eat vegetables, as though they were medicine that had to be taken, before I enjoyed the rest of a meal.

The other common problem with me was occasional diarrhoea. This can be easily explained with the lack of hygiene found in some eating places, from the way they wash their meats or vegetables, cooking utensils, crockery and so on. In fact, I quite like the occasional purge because I consider them my natural de-tox!

It was only weeks ago, in PJ when I actually vomited, something which I never did for umpteen years. I just cannot recall when was the last time I vomited. Few days ago, was the second time, and it really put me off food generally. Walking past food stalls in a pasar malam was tortuous instead of the usual anticipation. The different aromas were actually repulsive to me.

Many friends and relatives advised that regular check-ups for an elderly man is a must to prevent late discovery of some serious illness. A friend's wife, nearing 70, went for a full medical and treatment which was covered by her medical insurance. She was more concerned with missing out, just in case, because once she reaches 70, she would not be covered. Everyone was surprised with her bravery in going through all kinds of tests and treatments. She actually had both eyes laser-treated for cataract (within 2 days!); soon after, she went for angiogram and had angioplasty too!

Many people may not realise the psychological effect on a person when it comes to medical treatment, especially where involving surgery. To some, any kind of surgery can be had without problems. But for someone who has a psychological fear of blood for instance, even the thought of drawing blood could cause a blackout! So in order to understand why some people fear medical check-ups, we should think of the effects which some diagnoses could affect them psychologically. It is highly possible that the dread could be more harmful than the actual illness!


Friday, August 22, 2014

Where there is a legal precedent by our country's highest court of justice, what should we do?

As a layman, I always have this notion that regardless of how much we disagree with certain judgments, we have to accept them... unless and until those are overruled by higher courts. But if it is a verdict by the apex court, The Federal Court, then we have to wait until there is a change in the law relating to it.

Therefore, I am puzzled why Roger Tan put it as if Pakatan critics of Perak MB case are inconsistent if they were to use its legal precedent to support a similar situation in Selangor. To my simple mind, it is a clear case of 'Heads they win, Tails we lose' kind of logic.

Excerpt of his article Keep it colour blind:

'I was also troubled that when he passed away, he had not been accorded the appropriate recognition by leaders of our legal profession of his contribution to the administration of justice in this country.

This could be due to some differences with the Sultan’s decision not to call for fresh state elections when Pakatan Rakyat lost the majority control of the Perak state assembly in February, 2009. I had at that time written extensively that the Sultan’s decision was constitutionally correct.

Interestingly, the Federal Court’s judgment which subsequently endorsed the correctness of his royal decision is now being relied upon by his then most vociferous and sometimes insolent critics in Pakatan Rakyat to justify replacement of the embattled Selangor Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim without the need for a state assembly sitting or the dissolution of the assembly.'

Rest of his article Keep it colour blind:
which appeared in his column, Legally Speaking by Roger Tan, in The Sunday Star
on August 17, 2014


Thursday, August 21, 2014

A bit on obituary notices

Despite careful consultation with the respective families and attention to detail in drafting the obituary notices, in English and Chinese, for publication in The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh respectively, there were a number of mistakes in the obituary notices of my late mother-in-law.

This is a common problem because of the confusion during funeral wake and the best placed advertisements were usually either prepared before hand or by private secretaries in charge. These well prepared and coordinated advertisements are obvious, especially where the obituary notice and condolence messages are published on the same day.

Delay is often caused by difficulty in confirming the spelling of names, and especially the correct Chinese characters if placed in Chinese newspapers. Here, it depends on the decision whether timely advertisement or perfection is more important.

I think the editors of the advertisement department should have excellent examples with which to help advertisers. This is especially so in terms of layout. Having seen the first draft using an exercise book which was later transcribed onto the computer for easy reference and checking before confirmation of final draft, I think the old fashion way of using a big blank piece of paper (eg. mahjong paper) would have avoided the mistakes relating to layout. The notebook's screen is small and not everybody is comfortable using it, having to scroll up and down to get the big picture.

The Chinese notice in Sin Chew Jit Poh was poor in layout and caused confusion when relating the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In The Star's notice, only some of the great grandchildren were not placed on the same line as their respective families. It would certainly help if editors could take the initiative to check for obvious errors (eg. based on surnames) and confirm with advertiser before publishing.

The following were mistakes in preparation, nothing to do with the editors. For eg. Dr Lee was annoyed when she found out that her prefix 'Dr' was omitted, whereas her husband's and the next generation's doctors had theirs.

Spelling mistakes: Siew Chin was unhappy to note her sons' 'Yeong' was spelt as 'Yeung' and 'Shaun' spelt as 'Shawn'!

Dorothy's 'Pooi' was spelt as 'Pui' and this was despite her text to god mother-in-law  on the spelling. In this case, it was mother-in-law who mispelt it while the father-in-law failed to spot it, and presumably god mother-in-law assumed it was correct. However, I managed to correct Shane's to 'Yue', which was mispelt by grandma as 'Yu'.

As is common with today's borderless world, with family members living all over the world, out of 7 children, one daughter-in-law in Sydney could not be present; out of 22 grandchildren, only 10 were present; and out of 5 great grandchildren, only 1 was present at the funeral!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Guthrie dawn raid... turned out to be his 'nemesis' 33 years later?

If only Khalid followed instructions to quit as MB...

As someone who is a Pakatan supporter and have been keeping up to date with political events, but without being privy to any insider news, I think Khalid Ibrahim could have saved himself much trouble and embarrassment if only he listened. Could we be blamed if we suspect he is being tacitly supported by Pakatan's opponents since he played the part of being victimised, and turned to political foes for support?

Anybody in his shoes, having been appointed MB (without holding top position in the party) for more than a term, would have been glad and grateful in giving up his position. Surely he understands the party's and the coalition's bigger struggle and should have given in even if he felt victimised or even humiliated when told about the intention for him to be replaced by Anwar, and later, Wan Azizah. Without knowing his real reasons for not following instructions from party leaders, I cannot see how he could be victimised (having enjoyed being MB of Selangor) or humiliated, when most of the so-called insults came only when he behaved recalcitrant and tried all means to create as much havoc as possible to put PKR and Pakatan into confusion and disarray.

I was aware of the famous 'Dawn Raid'  in 1981, a proud event which resulted in Malaysia gaining control of a British company, Guthrie, by surprise, and in which Khalid Ibrahim played a vital role. He was made CEO of the company and when he was dismissed, he was given option to purchase substantial number of shares in it. Who would have thought that what was meant to be a golden handshake turned out to be his biggest mistake and seems to be the main cause of his downfall. It is debatable what could have been: could he have sold the shares and made a tidy profit at the time? I think it was likely, because such share options were usually below prevailing market price. But at the time, I am sure he was more interested in holding the shares and enjoyed being a substantial shareholder. With his money and stature then, he could have easily controlled a lesser company. The main problem was that he borrowed (from Bank Islam) to take up the share option, and presumably badly hit by economic downturn which caused share prices to drop across the board. Put simply, the share price of Guthrie must have gone below his take up price or the interest on the loan had accummulated to such an extent that he could not service the loan and when the bank force sold the shares, he ended up owing tens of millions.

Isn't it ironic that what made him famous in 1981 is turning out to be his 'nemesis' years later?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Karma at work? Legal precedent favouring Pakatan this time, with help from two PAS ADUNs...

but will it be acceptable to His Royal Highness?

Showing ‘loss of confidence’ of the MB & legal consequences
By Prof Gurdial Singh Nijar

A press conference by the leader of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) claims that a majority of the members of the State Legislative Assembly (30 out of 56) have declared that they no longer have confidence in the existing MB, Tan Sri Khalid. They have expressed their support for the PR.

If this is indeed the position, what happens now?

This question has been answered by our highest Federal court in the Perak Assembly case (Nizar v Zambry). The Court established the following.

First, there is no need to have a vote of no-confidence in the State Assembly itself. This loss of confidence can be established by other extraneous sources - “provided they are properly established”. This includes representations made by members of the Assembly that the MB no longer enjoys the support of the majority.

If such representations give the other party (in this case the PR political alliance) a clear majority in the Assembly, then, said the Court, this “clearly pointed to the loss of confidence of the majority of members of the legislative assembly in the leadership of the … CM”.

It was then incumbent upon the MB to tender the resignation of the Executive Council which includes the MB.

If the MB refuses to do so, the ExCo members are ‘deemed to have vacated their respective offices’.

The upshot of this decision is that PR can now present to His Highness the Sultan the representations by the majority of the members of the legislative assembly as to the loss of confidence of the MB to the Sultan.

The Sultan has no discretion in the matter but to act according to the judgment of the Federal Court; and direct the MB to tender the resignation of the ExCo. Any refusal would go against the express mandatory provision of the State Constitution: Article 53(6) which is identical to the provision in the Perak State Constitution.

Otherwise, said the Federal Court, “it would lead to political uncertainty in the state. The appellant (MB) cannot continue to govern after having lost the support of the majority. To allow him to do so would be going against the basic principle of democracy”.

The Sultan will then appoint as the MB the person nominated by the majority.

A final note: in the Nizar v Zambry case the Federal Court referred to the “political alliance called Pakatan Rakyat (PR)” – which contradicts assertions made to the contrary that such an alliance has no existence.

14 August 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kim Quek to PAS: Think before you jump

To PAS: Think before you jump

By Kim Quek

By a strange twist of fate, PAS is poised to play a role opposite of what it did in the unconstitutional power grab in Perak in 2009. Then, PAS was the victim; now, it is the potential culprit.

In 2009, PAS Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin was unconstitutionally ousted through an Umno conspiracy with the co-operation of the Palace.

Today, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim is attempting to kick ruling coalition Pakatan Rakyat out of the state government with what he alleged as the support of PAS.

If he succeeds, that would mean Selangor will be run by a PAS-Umno coalition.

And that would further mean that PAS would have committed two grand betrayals.

First, it betrays its coalition partners PKR and DAP and the political ideals shared by all the three partners.

Second, it betrays the Selangor electorate who had given Pakatan Rakyat whopping support, giving the latter more than two third majorities in the assembly. That support was intended for the PKR-PAS-DAP coalition, and certainly not meant for PAS-Umno coalition.

A PAS-Umno coalition in Selangor would further mean that the Malaysian political landscape would be reshaped throughout the country as Umno/BN (with PAS as a member or an ally) vs Pakatan (PKR + DAP).

From PAS’ point of view, as a political party, it will have to consider whether such a reconfiguration will result in the party winning more parliamentary and state seats throughout the nation, and what its position and influence will be in the family of BN.

As for the Malaysian electorate, the question to be asked is: will they ever forgive PAS for these grand betrayals?

PAS Central Committee will meet on Aug 17 to make supposedly its final decision as to where it stands on the current Selangor crisis. Whatever decision it makes, it will be another major landmark of Malaysian politics.

Kim Quek


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nik Nazmi on why Khalid Ibrahim must go

'For someone who was there when he signed up for the party and served him loyally as his political secretary, this is a doubly sad ending.

But what we did was for the greater good of Selangor.

We had no other option.

Khalid Ibrahim must go.'

Nik Nazmi is the assemblyman for Seri Setia

Full article: 


Friday, August 08, 2014

A bit on Yellow fever vaccination but a lot it costed!

What I presumed and expected of a straight forward procedure turned out to be an expensive one.

My adventurous daughter had already booked for her holiday in Kenya and Tanzania which requires Yellow fever inoculation. Couple of months ago, she checked while abroad and I confirmed by phone locally that it could be done without appointment, during office hours, at the local health centre in Silibin/Jelapang, Ipoh (though according to a website, it was stated as available in Batu Gajah).

I had been to Jelapang health centre before and it was our first place of call, half expecting to be directed to another place under Silibin. But upon enquiry at the registration counter, we were directed to the back of the building. We were pleased initially, not having to go somewhere else, but only to be told that they had run out of stock since Hari Raya! When asked where else, the man said even KL also out of stock, Penang might have. The fact that we just came back from Penang, after fetching Cheng from Butterworth train station yesterday really made us more frustrated upon hearing it. We were advised to go to BP Lab, but it would cost much more. We called up Ipoh Specialists Centre for price comparison but they did not have stock too. We did not have any choice, knowing that Cheng will be leaving for Holland in two days time and her air tickets to Africa already booked for 2 weeks later.

I can understand why the law of supply and demand and the market forces ensured that vaccines (at Rm10) in public hospitals would run out quickly while commercial labs are likely to have stock because it costs Rm400 per jab! To console ourselves, Cheng reasoned that we should think in terms of the inoculation lasting 10 years, so it is actually only Rm40 per year, and joked that she will make sure she travels to those yellow fever infected countries more to make up for it!


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Emptiness in empty nest... numbed with worries

All of us are different in our makeup and outlook. So what is good for the goose may not be so for the gander.

I read with amusement, mixed with a feeling of resignation, about a mother who refused to let go of her daughter of 29, mainly because of her fears for her safety! It involves her daughter moving out of their home in Malaysia and to start work in Singapore!

Why a feeling of resignation? I find myself caught in situations where I could not prevent but had to accept my children's extended exposure to overseas education, job-related travels, and their love for travelling and adventures.

I am by nature a worrier, no thanks to my overprotective mother who lost her tenth child (my younger sister who was last in family) at the age of 4 because of kidney malfunction. I was brought up in an environment of having to 'play safe' in anything we do. No extra-curricular activities are best for her peace of mind, bearing in mind she had to look after 10 children.

When I got married, little did I know my wife (being older) became almost the sole decision-maker in most things. She is by nature domineering, and not because of being older. Anyway, one of the most significant decisions she made for our children was to send each of them to adventure camps: my son to Wilderness Adventure Camp, and my two daughters to Outward Bound School, both in Lumut, Perak. The idea was to toughen them up and train them to be able to look after themselves, and hopefully, possess some leadership qualities later in life. My decision then was 'anything but my sheltered life' and tried to hide my worries.

But one of the things I did not anticipate was the spirit of adventure instilled in them. Both my son and my youngest, daughter, had climbed Malaysia's highest, Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, for instance. My elder daughter likes swimming and deep-sea diving. She is now somewhere near Koh Samui!

Update: Her reassuring email on Aug 6 at 8.09 pm Thai time:
'Just a quick note to say I got back to the Thai mainland safely. Now waiting for the train in a nondescript town, Chumphon. If it weren't for its pier (15 km away) that acts as a gateway to the lovely islands on the Gulf of Thailand, none of the western tourists around me, or myself for that matter, would be here. One local eatery was smart to capitalise on this niche market by distributing flyers upon our arrival from the pier, offering wifi, free bag storage and bathroom use (what more can us sleeper train passengers need?).
See you tomorrow at 1pm!!'

We were fortunate to be able to send them overseas for further education. My son, though born in UK, chose to join some friends to study in Australia instead. My elder daugther, having heard so much about our life in UK, since young, harped on her wish to study in UK only. The high costs of education there really worried me, so much so, I had to tell her younger sister to think of a cheaper place like New Zealand! But maybe it was fated, her wish to study Psychology in NZ or Australia was affected by a British education fair in KL. Basically, it was a choice of a shorter 3-year course in more expensive UK compared with a 4-year course in Australia for an Honours degree. Unlike some protective parents, all three went on their own on their first visit to Australia or UK.

To cut a long story short, for a number of years, we had to miss our children while they were having their education overseas. Instead of saving with 2+1, shortage of local students meant my son had to leave for Sydney earlier, which meant 1+2 instead. Both our daughters did their first year in UK, the most expensive place for education because of the high exchange rate at the time of 1 GBP = 7 MYR. We were relieved when elder daughter obtained scholarships for her Masters in Leuven, Luxembourg, as well as for her PhD in Maastricht, Holland. But my younger daughter wanted to study for her Masters in Aberdeen, Scotland. My son, felt left out and decided to work in UK, having found out that he is entitled to Right of Abode, which has all the privileges of a Permanent Resident. In fact, he was treated like a British when he went back to UK for the first time, having to queue with the British at the immigration at Heathrow Airport. While working in a college there, he did some part-time courses and added a marketing qualification. All these meant additional years away from home.

Though my son is now back and working in Malaysia, he has to travel overseas because of work. As I am typing this, my two daughters are out of the country, one in Bangkok and the other in Dubai. As I have told my youngest, I could not send or pick her from KLIA before when she travelled too frequently because of work (her 32-page passport actually ran out of pages a year before its 5-year expiry!), but I made an exception when she started work in Dubai because it was a new chapter. Because my elder daughter comes back less frequently, I made it a point to pick her from the airport as well as sending her off. She appreciates that very much.

As a comparison, being almost the youngest, by the time I went to UK, my father was already 64. When I was back, he was already bedridden because of stroke. When my son first left for Australia, I was only 48. But, now that I am 64, we are still experiencing the empty nest syndrome because they are all away from Batu Gajah because better job opportunities are just not found here. A local friend once commented about some children neglecting their parents. I had to remind him that if he was given a choice of his son staying with him in BG and loses out on career opportunities or working in KL or overseas with brighter career prospects, which would he choose? This is just one of the realities of life today.

Anyhow, besides the usual worry over each of their wellbeing when overseas, I had to face the difficult decision earlier, of my daughter leaving for Japan on a Rotary International exchange program for a year, just after leaving school at the age of 18! When she was in her first year in Essex University, she chose to tour Mexico during the summer holidays to learn Spanish! Spain is so much nearer to UK! Just ask an average Malaysian about Mexico, and he or she is likely to have the perception of a lawless country as portrayed in Clint Eastwood's For a few dollars more and his other spaghetti westerns. I could not worry for her but just left it to fate. Her travels included a 12-hour bus journey on her own, from one end to the other of Mexico! I was told she even took a dip in a Guatemalan lake outside Mexico border!

I could not keep track of where she travelled when in Europe but her networking must be extensive there. More recently, she decided to take up an offer as an intern with International Labour Organisation... in of all places, Bangkok! Well, she experienced martial law and curfew first hand. Instead of flying back, she also chose to travel by slow train from Bangkok to Butterworth, a 24-hour journey! As a natural worrier, I am already numbed by all kinds of their adventures over the years which would have worried me to death before. I am resigned to the fact that our children are living their own lives. Now you know why I felt amused by the mother worrying over her daughter working in Singapore?


Friday, August 01, 2014

Words of wisdom or truisms?

"If you want to change the world, do it when you are a bachelor. After marriage, you can't even change a TV channel..."

Chess is the only game in the world, which reflects the status of the husband: the poor king can take only one step at a time ... while the mighty queen can do whatever she likes. 

All Men are Brave,
Horror Movies don't scare them....
But 5 Missed Calls from Wife ...surely does!

Listening to wife is like reading the terms & conditions of a website.
You don’t understand it but you still accept it.

A newly married husband puts a notice in front of his residence:
FOR SALE - Computer and Encyclopedia, both in very good condition.
Reason for selling:
No longer needed. Got married. Wife knows EVERYTHING ...with backup server called "Mother In Law ".