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.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some shopkeepers are greedy indeed

especially if they already own expensive cars.

After today's episode, I cannot help but recount an earlier incident of profiteering.

I was in a hurry to send a scanned copy of a JPJ certified Malaysian driving licence (original with date of first licence, being lost) to Dubai. In my hurry to have it done, when asked where the fax was to be sent, I mentioned overseas... Dubai. I was charged Rm3 per copy and I did not try to save the cost of the last page which could be irrelevant. For the 3 pages, I was charged Rm9! It was only after that did I realise there should be no difference whether the fax was to an overseas telephone number, correct me if I am wrong. (Correction: I just remembered I was asked recipient's email address. So it was scan and email, not fax, which was why I thought it should make no difference whether it was overseas.)

The fact that we are known to each other makes no difference and I was not expecting any concession, but still I would expect them to charge more to those customers who happen to pass by (Cantonese: 'Koh lou hak') instead of someone known to them.

Today, was even worse. I went to a computer shop first to enquire about copying a DVD video and was told it is impossible to edit. When asked how much they charge for a copy, I was told Rm5.

I asked my IT friend about it and was told it is possible to copy to hard disk and edit. But while in town and near the shop in question, I asked how much they would charge for making a copy of a DVD. The boss asked his Malay lady staff and I could hear her reply, 'Sepuluh Ringgit'. He turned to me and said Rm20 in Cantonese. Since I heard the miscom, he asked again, and yet with the same reply, he said Rm30! When I asked why the mistake, he admitted to old age! He is actually younger than me. He asked for my comment, I cannot help but answered in Cantonese, 'Too expensive.' (read: Daylight robbery, I thought to myself).

To be fair, when my daughter had her PhD certificate scanned (actually had to use a camera to take a photo of it because of its size of 18.5" x 15") and transferred via a computer to a pen-drive at the same shop, she was only charged Rm4 by the Malay lady! That the big boss was not around could be a factor!

While on the subject of service between friends (the above was between locals), a friend still could not get over how he was refused when he asked to buy just plain rice from a restaurant. The owner and him were so-called friends for at least 20 years! For more than 2 years, he had not patronised the place.

While on the subject of rice, last Sunday in KL, four of us (3 adults and a toddler) shared one small bowl of rice at Ipoh Road Yong Tow Foo! Sign of the times, unlike before, when rice was staple food. I had not been to that restaurant for more than 20 years, since when they were at the place opposite, across Jalan Segambut. I was disappointed because I was expecting the same taste like before: where the taste suggested a tiny bit of salted fish and/or squid, like the famous Ampang Yong Tow Foo, instead of plain fish which seems plasticky in texture. There was a notice on the wall about an impending move to Cairnhill Hotel nearby. Being a local, I know the restaurateur is a tenant and the present premises was that of the old boss's residence, and next to it are terrace houses meant for his children. But since then, his descendants have outgrown those humble homes, and they own a few high-rise buildings in the vicinity, including Cairnhill Hotel. I am sure the present derelict state of a former mansion is due for redevelopment by the owners.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Be warned... of 'Predictive Text' when sending messages

"Hi Bob,

This is Alan next door.
I’m sorry buddy, but I have a confession to make to you. I’ve been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you to your face but I am at least now telling in text as I can’t live with myself a moment longer without you knowing.
The truth is, I have been sharing your wife, day and night when you're not around. In fact, probably more than you, particularly in the mornings after you’ve left for work.
I haven’t been getting it at home recently, but that's no excuse I know.
I can no longer live with the guilt and I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies. My wife has known for some time now and I’ve promised her that it won't happen again.

Regards, Alan."

Bob, feeling anguished and betrayed, immediately went into his bedroom, grabbed his gun, and without a word, shot his wife twice in the head, killing her instantly.
He returned to the lounge where he poured himself a stiff drink and sat down on the sofa. He took out his phone to respond to the neighbour's text and saw he had another message:-

"Hi Bob,
This is Alan next door again.
Sorry about the slight typo on my last text, I expect you worked it out anyway, but as I’m sure you noticed, my predictive text changed ‘WiFi’ to ‘Wife’".


Farts creatively translated from Bahasa Malaysia to English

Someone posted in Facebook the following creative translations:

Amin: Kentut dalam BI apa cikgu?

Cikgu: Wind of change.

Amin: Yang tidak bunyi?

Cikgu: Sound of silence.

Amin: Yang tidak disengaja?

Cikgu: Careless whisper.

Amin: Yang terhimpit?

Cikgu: Please release me.

Amin: Yang bau sangat?

Cikgu: Killing me softly.

Amin: Di malam hari?

Cikgu: Wonderful tonight.

Amin: Orang yang sering kentut?

Cikgu: Nobody but you.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dr Azmi Sharom: Finding 'dirt' on the 25 is dirty, to say the least

Ah, Awang Selamat.

One can always depend on you to say the most ridiculous things.

Today, I read that this 'person' (in reality the collective editorial voice of that paragon of journalistic virtue: Utusan Malaysia) wants the 25 Eminent Malays investigated.

Their backgrounds and lifestyles should be put under the microscope, they say.

I guess this is so that the erstwhile 'newspaper' can find out any "dirt" on the 25 and then they will be able to dish it out with orgasmic glee.

In this way they can detract from the fact that respectable individuals, who are essentially conservative people who have served the nation all their working lives, and who I am sure would be happy to spend their retirement in peace with their grandchildren, have felt that this country is in such a poor state that even they have to say something about it.

It is odd that the Utusan feels no need to delve into the murky past of other retirees who have something to say.

I am thinking of course of the noisiest Malaysian retiree in the world, the indestructible and seemingly immortal Dr M.

The longest-serving PM in the country (sometimes I wonder if he is still not serving as PM) has said that Malays are so politically impoverished that they have been reduced to begging from the Chinese to maintain their political power.

Of course I am not of the same ilk as Awang Selamat, so I will not be casting any aspersions on the good doctor’s character. I don’t know him at all. So I will just look at some facts.

Sixty per cent of Parliament is Malay; 63 per cent of the Cabinet is Malay; 60 per cent of the Deputy Ministers are Malay. We have always had a Malay Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister since independence. All the states except Penang have a Malay Chief Minister.

Is this clear grip on political power due to all these Malay men and women going on bended knee to the Chinese community for their favours and blessings?

It seems extremely unlikely, but I must admit that I don’t know. But then I am not as wise and knowledgeable as the great Mahathir.

He must have some secret power to see things that ordinary folk can’t. I wish I could find out what that super power is.

But unlike Utusan and the 25, I respect the old man’s privacy and I have no wish to investigate him.

Dr Azmi Sharom, Associate Professor of Law


Monday, December 22, 2014

KLIA2 not passenger-friendly?

Not having been a passenger traveller at KLIA2 myself, I can only comment as someone who had been sending off or receiving travellers at the so-called low cost airport.

There is a difference between KLIA and KLIA2: the car parks of the former is separate from the Arrival and Departure areas. The entrances to Car Park A and B are just next to the entrance of KLIA2. But what appears to be proximity can be misleading as the chances are that those parking spaces nearest to the entrance would be taken up by those who know the place well and you end up having to walk a long distance from your car. As a comparison, though the car park entrances of KLIA are at a distance away from the airport building, if you can find a space at Level 2, you are already at the same level as the ambulators which take you to the escalators/lifts to the Arrival and Departure lounges. If you drive a 4WD vehicle, then you are entitled to park at a special area (just outside the entrance of Level 2) with a security guard who records your vehicle details and time you came and left (because of past thefts of such vehicles).

While KLIA seems to place emphasis on being passenger-friendly, KLIA2's design includes a shopping mall as well, but at the expense of the passengers. Instead of the shopping mall serving those who wish to shop, passengers have no choice but to go through many shops before they reach the arrival/departure areas.

As for the additional problems faced by passengers, the following letter from Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin to The Star explains:

'IT is rather perplexing when one considers the design of KLIA 2 Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang.

It departs from the conventional concept of an airport where the priority is convenience and comfort of passengers from the point of entering the airport, checking in and clearing security and immigration, and boarding the plane by the shortest possible route.'

'But the KLIA 2 designers had a different concept in mind. They tried to combine a mall, a street thoroughfare and an airport all in one. As a result, the basic function of an airport, that is to get passengers to the departure gate with the least hassle, was compromised.

Spatial utilisation to accommodate the other two functions caused further confusion, as the passengers have to go through a maze to check in and to negotiate alleys and corridors to get to the departure gates.

Signages are small and in subdued colours. They have to compete with the large bright neon advertising lights of the retail outlets and the eateries. As a result, first-time and even returning passengers find great difficulty in getting proper directions.

Arriving passengers have to negotiate three tiers of ramps from the aerobridge to the concourse.

Then they have to walk some distance before climbing up and down escalators and jostle through corridors before finding the immigration and Customs clearance checkpoints.

After that, another long walk to the baggage claim area where mayhem reigns as passengers and their trolleys wait to claim their bags at the congested space between the carousels.

Passengers have to endure a long wait before retrieving their luggage and then another walk through the shopping area to the pick-up area. There seems to be a systemic failure in guiding the passengers from disembarking to the pick-up point.'



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jeffrey FK Phang: Silence is Golden?

'Keeping silent is a passive stance that requires you to do nothing, while speaking up is uncomfortable and may land you in trouble.

Hence, when this advice was dished out to the earlier generations, we swallowed it gladly - hook, line and sinker literally. It gave us the opportunity to pursue our careers and materialistic goals while feeling justified that we could safely ignore our social and environmental obligations since we had entrusted it to the government of the day.

It gave us the opportunity to pursue our careers and materialistic goals while feeling justified that we could safely ignore our social and environmental obligations since we had entrusted it to the government of the day.

Unchecked and unmonitored, our earlier generations stood by idly while constitutional and organisational checks and balances were torn down.

We woke up one morning and finally saw that the society that we had left unattended was engulfed by evil and corruption - to this day.

For many years, people cowered in fear, in case of reprisals, refusing to speak up while the statements of the extremists and the racists became the main fodder for the media.

The vocal minority is the one speaking on behalf of the silent majority.'



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Making mistakes when buying fresh milk

One has to be extra careful when buying fresh milk from supermarkets. When in a cold country like England, milk used to be delivered daily and left outside the house with no problems as to freshness. We took for granted the quality of the pasteurised milk.

In Malaysia, initially we used UHT milk for our English tea until we tasted the difference using fresh milk instead. Since then, we buy fresh milk from the supermarket. Fresh milk has to be refrigerated and has limited shelf life, unlike the UHT milk in cartons which can be left on the shelves in ordinary shops. I had several bad experiences when buying fresh milk.

First of all, the date of expiry cannot be relied upon because of the likely lapses in quality control at the factory, during tranportation to retailers and while being stored on their shelves. There are differences in temperature where milk is being kept between different supermarkets.

Then there are differences in efficiency when taking delivery and finally putting them on the shelves. There is also the occasional risk of mischief of tampering by irresponsible people. If the goods are not properly inspected by staff, purchasers who bought them would feel cheated and the supermarket would get the blame.

I had the experience of having bought milk to be cleared (within 2 days of expiry) thinking I could use them for making 'milky coffee or tea' by boiling them first, but found some already bad when taken home. How to complain when it could be argued that it might be due to us having left it in the car for too long without air-conditioning? I suspect it was more because of poor control on their part especially when labelling the dates of expiry. I have never tried complaining about milk knowing how useless it can be when complaining.

I had just bought a 2-litre carton of milk (well within a week of expiry) which I did not check on the cap. It had been opened before (judging from the seal later) and gone bad when my wife opened it. There goes Rm12 down the drain!

By the way, I find it amusing (though it is not funny) when I see friends trying their level best in controlling their diets. There is this continual debate on saturated and unsaturated fats and their effects on our health. It used to be convincing but alternating between contradictory reports, by medical and nutritional experts, each claiming the goodness or otherwise of saturated or unsaturated fats. What if saturated fat is not really bad and you have been trying so hard to avoid it? What is even worse is when say, cholesterol is actually needed for our brain and the lack of which has actual harmful effects? When in doubt, MODERATION seems to be the compromising answer!

Sometimes, we do not have a choice when having meals outside our home. We have no control over where the meat or vegetable was from; how they had been reared or grown; how they had been cleaned before cooking, whether fresh or recycled oil had been used, or even whether they had been properly cooked before we put it in our mouth.

As to milk, because condensed creamer is cheaper than condensed milk, we are bound to get the former in our tea or coffee in coffee shops. Same with evaporated creamer and evaporaed milk. So I take it with a pinch of salt when a stall holder said her curry is prepared from evaporated milk instead of coconut milk, which is supposedly healthier.


Monday, December 15, 2014

China is already No. 1 economy in the world?

Without fanfare, much earlier than expected, and largely unnoticed by the world at large, China is acknowledged to have overtaken USA as the largest economy in the world, or as Brett Arends of Market Watch puts it, 'the leading economic power on the planet'.

'Hang on to your hats, America.

And throw away that big, fat styrofoam finger while you’re about it.

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.

It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.

'The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in "real" terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.

As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.

To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.

This latest economic earthquake follows the development last year when China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in terms of global trade.'

'I first reported on this looming development over two years ago, but the moment came sooner than I or anyone else had predicted. China’s recent decision to bring gross domestic product calculations in line with international standards has revealed activity that had previously gone uncounted.

These calculations are based on a well-established and widely used economic measure known as purchasing-power parity (or PPP), which measures the actual output as opposed to fluctuations in exchange rates. So a Starbucks venti Frappucino served in Beijing counts the same as a venti Frappucino served in Minneapolis, regardless of what happens to be going on among foreign-exchange traders.

PPP is the real way of comparing economies. It is one reported by the IMF and was, for example, the one used by McKinsey & Co. consultants back in the 1990s when they undertook a study of economic productivity on behalf of the British government.'

Rest of his article:


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ali Abd Jalil: Who is KJ to tell me never to return?

By Adam Abu Bakar

'Student activist Ali Abd Jalil who fled the country to Sweden in a bid to escape charges of sedition has remarked on the audacity of Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to order him never to return to Malaysia.

In his posting, Ali said Khairy was already strutting around arrogantly after only becoming a minister less than two years ago.

He also remarked how Khairy was not even born in Malaysia like he was, but had lived abroad for years before returning to Malaysia.

"Khairy was born in Kuwait, lived 20 years abroad, he returned to Malaysia to hold top positions and become extremely wealthy … he acts as if the country belongs to him… who is he to order me never to return to Malaysia?"

He said that unlike Khairy, both he and Alvin Tan, who fled to the US to escape charges of sedition, were born in Malaysia and grew up in Malaysia.

In an anger-filled tone, Ali wrote: "We were imprisoned, threatened, abused, defamed and more. We were treated worse than illegal immigrants. We have been away from the country for just a few months, yet our passports have been revoked even though we do not have a criminal record."

"Between us (Ali and Alvin) and Khairy Jamaluddin, who is more a son of Malaysia?" Ali asked.'


When did Malaysia shut its doors to a Malaysian?

'Today 40 years ago, a Universiti Malaya undergraduate named Hishamudin Rais quietly slipped out of the campus in Pantai and a police cordon to start a long trip to, eventually, self-exile in London.

The police was at the door of Malaysia's oldest university to arrest student leaders who had organised and taken part in protests linked to poverty in Baling, Kedah, as a result of falling rubber prices.'


'One certainly would not expect the Cabinet's youngest minister, an urbane and sophisticated Western-educated man, to even utter such dismissive words to a citizen of Malaysia.

This country belongs to all Malaysians, be they critics or sycophants.'


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Open letter from 25 eminent Malays

Some people ask, 'What took them so long?'

In Hokien/Malay, I would describe the reason why they came out with an open letter to our PM Najib as already 'Bueh tahan' or 'Tak boleh tahan lagi.'

It looks like the first step by a prominent group of Malays to speak up for the silent majority. Perkasa and Isma had their days hogging the limelight, giving the impression Malaysia is on the way to extremism because of the lack of effective action by PM. Some even described it as 'The tail wagging the dog' (pardon the expression). These days we have to be very careful with the words we use as everything seems to be sensitive and mountains made out of molehills.

Anyway, here is the open letter (copied from The Malay Mail):

We, a group of concerned citizens of Malaysia, would like to express how disturbed and deeply dismayed we are over the continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in this country. The on-going debate over these matters display a lack of clarity and understanding on the place of Islam within our constitutional democracy. Moreover, they reflect a serious breakdown of federal-state division of powers, both in the areas of civil and criminal jurisdictions.

We refer specifically to the current situation where religious bodies seem to be asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction; where issuance of various fatwa violate the Federal Constitution and breach the democratic and consultative process of shura; where the rise of supremacist NGOs accusing dissenting voices of being anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-Malay has made attempts at rational discussion and conflict resolution difficult; and most importantly, where the use of the Sedition Act hangs as a constant threat to silence anyone with a contrary opinion.

These developments undermine Malaysia’s commitment to democratic principles and rule of law, breed intolerance and bigotry, and have heightened anxieties over national peace and stability.

As moderate Muslims, we are particularly concerned with the statement issued by Minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, in response to the recent Court of Appeal judgement on the right of transgendered women to dress according to their identity. He viewed the right of the transgender community and Sisters in Islam (SIS) to seek legal redress as a "new wave of assault on Islam" and as an attempt to lead Muslims astray from their faith, and put religious institutions on trial in a secular court.

Such an inflammatory statement from a Federal Minister (and not for the first time) sends a public message that the Prime Minister’s commitment to the path of moderation need not be taken seriously when a Cabinet minister can persistently undermine it.

These issues of concern we raise are of course difficult matters to address given the extreme politicisation of race and religion in this country. But we believe there is a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways.

We also believe the Prime Minister is best placed with the resources and authority to lead this consultative process. It is urgent that all Malaysians are invested in finding solutions to these longstanding areas of conflict that have led to the deterioration of race relations, eroded citizens’ sense of safety and protection under the rule of law, and undermined stability.

There are many pressing issues affecting all of us that need the urgent leadership and vision of the Prime Minister, the support of his Cabinet and all moderate Malaysians. They include:

i) A plural legal system that has led to many areas of conflict and overlap between civil and shariah laws. In particular there is an urgent need to review the Shariah Criminal Offences (SCO) laws of Malaysia. These laws which turn all manner of "sins" into crimes against the state have led to confusion and dispute in both substance and implementation. They are in conflict with Islamic legal principles and constitute a violation of fundamental liberties and state intrusion into the private lives of citizens. In 1999, the Cabinet directed the Attorney-General’s Chambers to review the SCO laws. But to this day, they continue to be enforced with more injustices perpetrated. The public outrage, debates over issues of jurisdiction, judicial challenge, accusations of abuses committed, gender discrimination, and deaths and injuries caused in moral policing raids have eroded the credibility of the SCO laws, the law-making process, and public confidence that Islamic law could indeed bring about justice.

ii) The lack of public awareness, even among top political leaders, on the legal jurisdiction and substantive limits of the powers of the religious authorities and administration of Islamic laws in Malaysia. The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law enacted, including Islamic laws, cannot violate the Constitution, in particular the provisions on fundamental liberties, federal-state division of powers and legislative procedures. All Acts, Enactments and subsidiary legislations, including fatwa, are bound by constitutional limits and are open to judicial review.

iii) The need to ensure the right of citizens to debate the ways Islam is used as a source of public law and policy in this country. The Islamic laws of Malaysia are drafted by the Executive arm of government and enacted in the Legislative bodies by human beings. Their source may be divine, but the enacted laws are not divine. They are human made and therefore fallible, open to debate and challenge to ensure that justice is upheld.

iv) The need to promote awareness of the rich diversity of interpretive texts and juristic opinions in the Islamic tradition. This includes conceptual legal tools that exist in the tradition that enable reform to take place and the principles of equality and justice to be upheld, in particular in response to the changing demands, role and status of women in the family and community.

v) The need for the Prime Minister to assert his personal leadership as well as appoint key leaders who will, in all fairness, champion open and coherent debate and discourse on the administration of Islamic laws in this country to ensure that justice is done. We especially urge that the leadership sends a clear signal that rational and informed debate on Islamic laws in Malaysia and how they are codified and implemented are not regarded as an insult to Islam or to the religious authorities.

These issues may seem complex to many, but at the end of the day, it really boils down to this: as Muslims, we want Islamic law, even more than civil law, to meet the highest standards of justice precisely because it claims to reflect divine justice. Therefore, those who act in the name of Islam through the administration of Islamic law must bear the responsibility of demonstrating that justice is done, and is seen to be done.

When Islam was revealed to our Prophet saw in 7th century Arabia, it was astoundingly revolutionary and progressive. Over the centuries, the religion has guided believers through harsh and challenging times. It is our fervent belief that for Islam to continue to be relevant and universal in our times, the understanding, codification and implementation of the teachings of our faith must continue to evolve. Only with this, can justice, as enjoined by Allah swt, prevail.

* This letter was signed by:

1. Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Rahim Bin Haji Din

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Home Affairs

2. Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

3. Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Finance

4. Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican

Former Director General, Ministry of Health

5. Tan Sri Dato’ Mohd Sheriff bin Mohd Kassim

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Finance

6. Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Mustaffa Babjee

Former Director General, Veterinary Services

7. Tan Sri Nuraizah Abdul Hamid

Former Secretary General, Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia

8. Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang

Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Core Founder, National Heart Institute

9. Dato’ Seri Shaik Daud Md Ismail

Former Court of Appeal Judge

10. Dato’ Abdul Kadir bin Mohd Deen

Former Ambassador

11. Datuk Anwar Fazal

Former Senior Regional Advisor, United Nations Development Programme

12. Dato’ Dali Mahmud Hashim

Former Ambassador

13. Dato’ Emam Mohd Haniff Mohd Hussein

Former Ambassador

14. Dato’ Faridah Khalid

Representative of Women’s Voice

15. Dato’ Latifah Merican Cheong

Former Assistant Governor, Bank Negara

16. Lt Gen (Rtd) Dato’ Maulob Maamin

Lieutenant General (Rtd)

17. Dato’ Noor Farida Ariffin

Former Ambassador

18. Dato’ Ranita Hussein

Former SUHAKAM Commissioner

19. Dato’ Redzuan Kushairi

Former Ambassador

20. Dato’ Dr Sharom Ahmat

Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Universiti Sains Malaysia

21. Dato’ Syed Arif Fadhillah

Former Ambassador

22. Dato’ Zainal Abidin Ahmad

Former Director General, Malaysian Timber Industry Board

23. Dato’ Zainuddin Bahari

Former Deputy Secretary General, Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism

24. Datin Halimah Mohd Said

Former Lecturer, Universiti Malaya and President, Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE)

25. Puan Hendon Mohamad

Past President Malaysian Bar has an interesting write-up on some of them:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brace ourselves for some belt-tightening this coming new year

We are in for some difficult times ahead, even before the implementation of GST. As an oil producing country, we are affected by the drastic drop in oil prices. Though we might be able to get some benefits out of it, we have yet to see it translated into lower fuel prices. The government will face lower revenues from Petronas but has to maintain salaries and bonuses as well as hand-outs like BR1M.

I have just read an article which revealed that some top oil and gas related companies listed on Bursa Saham Malaysia had their market capitalizations reduced by Rm33 billions when compared with their prices as at July 1, 2014.

We, the public, are definitely going to be affected adversely from this drastic drop in share prices, in one way or other. If even Petronas has to cut capex or other related expenditures by 20%, it would affect those relying on the company for their business revenues. They in turn, would reduce their spendings and affect lesser companies who rely on them for business. Employees of such companies would face no salary increases, bonuses, or even the sack! The effects would eventually be felt by the people, in terms of purchases of houses, cars or even going out to fancy restaurants or entertainment centres.

To the super rich, who each owns and controls such companies, their personal wealth would have been reduced (at least on paper) by hundreds of millions, if not billions. To put in perspective, a super rich could have sold off all his shares on July 1, put all his money in the bank and now buy back at less than half or even one third of what he sold for. Just imagine what he could have done with the profits made! But the reality is that he cannot do that, unless he was already prepared to lose control of his companies. But even the effect of just selling some shares could mean making enough to buy extra properties and luxury cars.

To ordinary mortals like us, most of us would have kept some shares and see them losing values, day after day until they are worth probably half of what they used to. For those who kept all their money in the share market, it could have been worse because each time he needs money, he has to sell shares at a loss... reluctantly but with no choice. It might be a good time to switch from not-so-good counters to really good ones, but the feeling of realising book losses to do that can have the effect of 'seller's remorse' - a term I have just learned from watching Pickers!

I have just found the link to the article in Kinibiz:


A bit on UOB credit card and TM

I tried redeeming points accumulated but gave up because it was too much of a hassle for what it was worth. Just imagine: for a small value item, it involved courier service, and because of my address, almost always the courier man would not be able to find it. Furthermore, it means having to have someone at home to receive it, or else, to go all the way to Silibin (no pun intended) in Ipoh to collect from the couriers.

Because of the small amounts spent, for years I did not bother to redeem any of the points which lapsed periodically.

Now, I find it worthwhile to redeem the points to pay for the government tax on credit card of Rm50. 10,000 points are required, and often, the points which lapsed negate its accumulation. 

The other day, I called up their Call Centre which is KL-based to redeem my points for the rebate. I used TM fixed line to call and had to listen to the usual 'Press 1 for this, 2 for that...' before I was put to a person and I had to explain my intention, then I was put on hold while he checked and realised exactly what I had in mind. I have just received my TM bill and the call and conversation lasted 8.37 minutes and cost me Rm7.40! Personally, under my circumstances, I wish UOB would make such a rebate automatic if and when my points were sufficient, without having to go through all that hassle and cost.

As for TM, I missed the days when telephone calls were free (at least, within a state), but now we are being charged according to duration. But to be honest, even if given unlimited free talk time, these days, being anti-social, I do not wish for long chats with anyone. I did not know the call to UOB would last more than 8 minutes, otherwise, I had the choice of calling when at my son's place where his Unifi subscription provides free calls to TM fixed lines, or using my YES subscription which charges 9 sen per minute.

While on TM, my son's Unifi service in Petaling Jaya has problems with connection. This had been going on, off and on, for about a month. I was disappointed, so did my grandson, during my last 3 visits when I brought along the iPad but could not connect to the internet. At Rm149 per month, this is a lot to pay for no service, not to mention the unworkable CCTV installed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Be realistic when cooking up stories

It is inconceivable to even think the CM of Penang would name a road after Chin Peng, the name synonymous with Malayan Communist Party. If our federal government would not even honour the agreement to allow him to return to Malaysia, not even his ashes after his death, imagine the outcries should there be such a suggestion to name a road after him.

Many who did not read up anything on Chin Peng may not even know that was not his real name, but Ong Boon Hua. So naming a road Chin Peng is like naming a road Kosong after me! Incidentally, Kosong is already all over the place: Tanah Kosong, Jawatan Kosong, Rumah Kosong, and so on. It is also like naming a road after Najib as Jalan Ah Jib Kor.

By the way, I notice some contractors working along the North-South Expressway are not really putting up enough warnings when closing one or more lanes. This is a common problem when the work is done by a subcontractor and any original strict requirements are lost (intentionally to save costs) in the process. Even 40 years ago in UK, their warnings on lane closures were really first class, with early electronic warning as to the number of lanes being closed further down the motorway, and numerous cones leading to it. I mention this because after 40 years we should have caught up with safety requirements, not to mention the advances in IT technology since then.

Just yesterday, on our way back from KL, I noticed a few places along NSE with one, two or even three lanes closed, without proper early warnings, except some cones leading to it! Just imagine, we did not know how many lanes were being closed until we reached it! The worst was the one next to Behrang exit when all three lanes were closed for road repairs and only the emergency was used for access! I noticed some vehicles with Propel logo on them and I assume PLUS is using its subsidiary for road maintenance. This is even more unacceptable because Propel is not an outside subcontractor where it is more likely to have miscommunication. For the sake of road safety, PLUS should be more responsible in this aspect and there should be no compromise on early and sufficient warnings of lane closures.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Cheapskates? But what if the majority seem to count their pennies too?

At least some policymakers think people in general welcome offers in one kind or another, which is why we do get free parking in certain places and during weekends and public holidays, even in KL or Petaling Jaya. 

Recently, we had to take our grandson to Centre Point in Bandar Utama for his lesson on a Saturday. It was a pleasant surprise to know that this comparatively old and small complex offers free parking on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. All we need to do is validate the parking ticket at a machine. I made a mistake once when I validated it before my wife suggested to have breakfast there and it had to be re-validated because you are given 20 minutes to get out.  

I was also surprised when I parked my car in Section 14, PJ on a Saturday and checked and found that the days of operation are from Monday to Friday!

Supermarkets like Tesco and Aeon do offer free parking for genuine shoppers and charge if any, nominal fees only. I am sure they realise that convenient and free parking is very important in luring customers to them.

On the other hand, as I have recently posted about the hard-up KTM station in Batu Gajah which imposed a minimum fee of Rm1 on all those who entered their compound, even if to buy ticket, send off or pick up people. The least they could do is to offer free entry to those vehicles who leave within 15 or 20 minutes. Such a small gesture would definitely be welcome by users. Now, I would rather be considered a cheapskate or undignified by not entering their compound if not to park my car for longer than necessary.

Many years ago, I even got a parking ticket on a public holiday during Chinese New Year from MD Kinta Barat then (now known as MD Batu Gajah). Now, with the new coupon system, it is from Mondays to Saturdays only, if I am not mistaken. I did not bother to check because I normally walk to town to avoid being caught when held up at certain offices.

MDBG is being selective in enforcing the coupon system. There are certain areas which though under their jurisdiction are not enforced but others which they are too efficient in enforcement. A friend got a ticket for parking on the roadside but too near a vacant parking lot! But the fact that people choose to park away from the parking lots suggest that most people do mind paying even nominal fees for parking, even those with expensive cars like Merc or BMW.

I dare say most people dislike 'jaga kereta' simply because of their bullying stance: either you pay or run the risk of something happening to your car. Many pay grudgingly because of this fear and not because they are being charitable to them. They deny motorists the right to free parking after hours and the worst is when they dare to charge even during official operating hours.

A few days ago, a man was beaten up for refusing to pay a 'jaga kereta' and Penang issued an advice to motorists to not pay them but report them to the police! After such a case, do you think people would heed this advice? How much can the authorities and police protect motorists from such despicable bullies? I am sure most motorists would play safe and 'jaga sendiri' by paying when 'asked' to pay. Some 'jaga kereta' can be most polite and even wish you good luck and prosperity, but would turned against you if you did not pay and wish you 'hell on earth'!

It had been a long time since we had seafood porridge in Matang, as we rather go further and have proper seafood meal at Kuala Sepetang. One evening, after picking up Cheng from Penang airport, we decided to go to Matang for porridge, mainly because of my bowel condition. There was a sign indicating a restaurant's car park. Thinking it was free, I parked the car and then only realised the man asked for Rm2, with well wishes for my prosperity! Then I realised I was being misled into it and I am quite sure the management of Lighthouse (Mr. Goh? as suggested by the free wifi username) does not charge. There were plenty of empty spaces along the public roads, why would anyone pay Rm2 per entry?