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.)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Renaming of some KL roads... in a lighter vein

From Facebook:

"Dato Bandar KL, pohon tunjuk jalan, boleh? "







































After some speeches at the Umno General Assembly...

I suggest all U-turns be named 'Jalan Najib Tun Razak' and all 'Jalan Sehala' be renamed 'Jalan Umno', the latter for its one-track consistency.
















Haris Ibrahim's open invitation for a debate with Khairy on 'Special rights' or 'Special position'

Debate : Special rights or special position for Malays under the Constitution? – KJ vs HI?

'Since August, this year, whenever I have had the opportunity to speak and share, especially with Malays, I have made it a point to share two points that I feel Malays really need to hear and give thought to.
First, that this whole business of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ violently conflicts with the final sermon of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) at Arafat.
There is, in my view, therefore, no room in Islam for any race supremacist notions.
Second, that there is nothing in the Federal Constitution that supports this perennial claim by Perkasa, Isma and the likes to there being special rights thereunder for the Malays.
Special position, under Article 153, yes, but not special rights.
But this special position is not just of the Malays, but also of the indigenous of Sabah and Sarawak.
Article 153  does not stop there.
It also speaks of the legitimate interests of the other communities.
All of which is placed under the watch of the Agung to safeguard.'

'Special rights or special position?
If we both agree that it is only the latter, we all have tea and go home.
If, however, we differ, then we get it on, as we did in 2010, in the most cordial, friendly and civil fashion.
KJ, you game?
Your choice of moderator, KJ.
Even your new found friend, Dr M, if you wish.
If you people would like to see this happen, tweet KJ or message him on Facebook and let him know this invitation is floating in cyberspace, awaiting his acceptance.'

More:
https://harismibrahim.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/debate-special-rights-or-special-position-for-malays-under-the-constitution-kj-vs-hi/

Link

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am caught again by YES

I had to do a double-take because the message was so soon (hardly 2 days) after my new monthly quota (4 GB) started:

'This is a gentle reminder that you have reached 80% of your plan's data quota for the month as of 27-Nov-2014.

Once you reached your monthly allocated data quota, fair usage policy will be enforced and you may experience reduced Internet speed.

To ensure continuous 4G speed, purchase a SuperBooster™ via My Account or Express Payment Portal. To learn more about SuperBooster™, click here.

Should you require any assistance, please contact YesCare.'

Hardly 2 hours later:

'You have reached 100% of your plan's data quota as of 27-Nov-2014. ...'

I honestly thought I got a good deal from YES which package does not split the quota into 'peak' and 'non-peak' hours (like Maxis) and I even got the impression that besides the quota, there is another bigger quota available during non-peak hours (according to a chart used by their dealers) which I cannot find in YES website. I have yet to confirm whether this was an illusion on my part!

Anyway, what could have eaten up my quota so fast: I downloaded 75 pictures which were originally in 2 zipped files but which had been changed to lower resolution, which took only a few minutes using YES normal speed. As a comparison, it took me more than 10 hours to download 1 video file (480 mb) under YES's throttled speed; 6 hours to download a zipped pic file (666 mb) using Unifi in PJ, which I later discovered was due to another submarine cable problem which affected its internet services.

The other likely reason which I expected, was my grandson, on a visit, using the iPad to watch some educational videos on Youtube.

I noticed there is a difference between Maxis and YES when the quota had been used up and speed throttled : the change in Maxis was seamless while that in YES actually caused difficulties in logging on and required a few tries.

Link

Newly recommended rubbish bins can also serve the police in hiding speed cameras?



Despite the millions spent on AES, which is now strangely quiet, nothing beats the traditional speed traps by stealth. It gives the police more kick when catching speedsters by surprise.

Link

Car warranty and the required mileage or 3-month service, whichever is earlier

One of the things most car owners dislike is the requirement to have the required service done according to manufacturers' condition: eg. every 5,000 km or 3 months, whichever is earlier. This is especially ridiculous if a car owner seldom uses his car. The disparity between mileage based on actual usage and the deemed mileage based on 3-monthly intervals can be ludicrous even after one year.

Even a fairly used Honda Jazz is already faced with this:

Actual mileage: 11,500 km
Deemed mileage after 1 year, based on 3-monthly intervals: 20,000 km

A retired owner having an older second car might have a situation of say, 2,000 km on the odometer of his new car but had to have the 20,000 km service done!

We are told motor oil deteriorates over time, but what about other parts which can only deteriorate with actual usage? Seems a waste having to change certain parts based on period of use rather than actual.

But of course, we are stuck with it simply because manufacturers have the right to void the warranty if not according to their schedule.
Link

Friday, November 21, 2014

Umno General Assembly - the time for Chinese bashing

We have to be reminded time and again as to who is the boss and they have to be reminded again and again of our rights too.

Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail reminded Malaysians the need to abide by the “social contract” developed by the country’s forefathers.

Kim Quek's reply to that statement:

'Yes, the 1957 Constitution is the social contract that embodied the consensus reached among the three major races at the time of independence. However, Article 153 of the Constitution has been widely and persistently misinterpreted to mean “special privileges” for the Malays, whereas it only provides for “special position” of the Malays whereby the Agong is entitled to request for reservation of quotas in three fields, namely a) public service b) education and c) trading licence.

Our Constitution is an egalitarian constitution that provides for equality and full fundamental individual rights, and certainly contains no room for anyone to create the concept of two or more classes of citizenship, as Barisan Nasional has been trying to do in the past decades.

This subject was fully explained in my book “The March to Putrajaya” under article no. 54: “The Constitution and Malay Rights”, which can be accessed at: www.themarchtoputrajaya.com '

Malaysiakini:

'According to A Kadir Jasin, fear of the Chinese was among the key reasons behind the Malays returning to Umno’s fold in the last general election.
"Images of tens of thousands jubilant Chinese and Indian supporters of the opposition taking over towns in Johor during election rallies struck fear among the Malays and they rallied behind Umno," he said.
He added that the bumiputeras, in particular the pro-BN Malays, were afraid if the Chinese dominated the government in addition to the economy, they would lose their rights and privileges
However, the former New Straits Times Group editor-in-chief said if Pakatan Rakyat could convince the Malays that it would be fair to them, BN would be in deeper trouble.'

Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek has questioned Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari who had said that the BN was responsible for the plight of Penang's poor Malays.
Instead, he questioned why Zairil did not say that the state's Chinese are 'rich' due to BN's previous administration.

The simple truth is: Malays are poor because of BN, but Chinese are rich despite BN. - Kim Quek

In the debate on whether ministers send their children to national or private schools, the general consensus seems to be:

‘Gov’t leaders must show faith in it; opposition doesn’t have to.’

DAP MP for Raub, Mohd Ariff Sabri:

'I have long advocated that Chinese schools seem to prosper only because national schools declined in quality. During the time when I went to school, where English medium schools had better teachers, produced better results, provided education in the language medium that is a pillar of communication in the world- performed better than vernacular schools of any kind, Chinese schools did not prosper. Chinese parents would want their children to go to Chinese schools up to standard 6 and then go on into English medium schools.'

More:

Link

1MDB - the most controversial sovereign wealth fund

1MDB seems to court controversies from day one, especially when it was associated with no-expense spared parties of flamboyant high-flier Jho Low and world famous Paris Hilton.

After 5 years of operations, it is clear that its activities had been anything but above board: shrouded in secrecy (like using well known tax haven, Cayman Islands and Hong Kong fund managers); tardy in late filing of accounts; suspicious changes of external auditors (3 times in 5 years); poor performance (having to use revaluations of properties to mask huge losses); and so on.

Anil Netto sums up best:

'1MDB’s predicament can be summed up as follows:
Its assets amount to RM51.4bn
Its liabilities RM49.0bn
Equity RM2.4bn
——————–
But 1MDB’s assets include ‘goodwill’ of RM3.3bn less RM1.2bn already written off. (Goodwill here refers to the amount it paid for power assets less the actual value of those assets. The Edge calls it an “overpayment”.)
Its assets also include RM5.0bn in revaluation gains mainly on its land bought cheaply from the government.
If not for these non-cash items i.e. ‘goodwill’ and property revaluation surplus, 1MDB’s equity would have been RM4.7bn negative (i.e. not a pretty picture) instead of RM2.4bn positive.
These items have enabled 1MDB to show rosier bottom-line figuures than it otherwise would have posted in the last few years.
And let’s not forget the assets also include the billions parked in the Cayman Islands.
Figures from The Edge, 17 November 2014'

The total liabilities of 1MDB is so huge that it can have an impact on government should it be unable to pay off its debts. How much of the debts are guaranteed by the government was the subject of heated debate in Parliament with each side accusing the other of lying.

Malaysiakini's selection of letters provide some perspective of the debate:
YOURSAY ‘Ahmad got off because the pro-BN House speaker saved his neck.’
Let off, Ahmad now wants MPs to apologise
Did Ahmad intend to lie? Rakyat be the judge
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/281024




Link

Last minute actions of a Menteri Besar

I can still remember in 2008, when BN lost Selangor to Pakatan, outgoing MB, Khir Toyo was alleged to have carted away or shredded important documents before he left. Balkis was quickly dissolved and its funds transferred to Bakti, at a speed which many believed, did not follow proper procedures. But then again, with the acquiescence of the ROS (especially to do with BN), it was sort of expected and accepted without any problems.

In 2014, outgoing Pakatan MB (who became ex-PKR), Khalid Ibrahim created a state constitutional problem by refusing to quit, then did so, but after some actions which could only be described as out of spite, like sacking Anwar Ibrahim as State Economic Advisor. Months later, he is now accused of having paid off his aides without following proper procedures!

'The four PAS exco who had served under Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in his last days as Selangor menteri besar were not aware of the RM2.6 million “golden handshake” to his aides, nor endorsed it.
This was made known to Selangor PAS representatives at a meeting last night, said the Islamist party’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, who added that the four were taken by surprise by the quantum, which was approved by the Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) board.
"They were only informed by Khalid that the payouts were according to procedures and adhered to the contracts.
"They were surprised when they found out the money was transferred electronically to Khalid's aides at night on his last day as MB," he said at the Parliament lobby today.
The four who formed Khalid's exco were Dr Ahmad Yunus Khairy, Iskandar Abdul Samad, Dr Halimah Ali and Sallehin Mukhyi.'

More:
https://my.news.yahoo.com/pas-4-dark-over-khalid-rm2-6-million-080258597.html





Link

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cheng's doctoral thesis public defence at Maastricht University

It was a long journey for Cheng, a long wait for us as parents, to finally see the fruits of her endeavour in pursuit of a Ph D.

Ironically, for a subject which is also relevant to her home country, Malaysia, she obtained a grant in the Netherlands to do her research there.

A few days before her public defence on November 14 (http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/web/Main/Sitewide/Content/ChengBoonOngMScPhDDissertationDefense.htm), she held a press conference in Maastricht and the response in terms of national and regional press coverage surprised some of her colleagues and friends in Holland. 

'Overwhelmed by all the press attention today. I am worried how this particular finding of my thesis will be (mis)used in the Dutch ethnic segregation debate. Data analysis always rests on many assumptions and data constraints. May it also hold true, that any publicity is good publicity.'

I Googled 'Cheng Boon Ong Maastricht' and I could see a long list of news reports relating to her thesis. Of course, all the articles are in Dutch and we can only recognise her name in those articles. Fortunately, we can get almost instantaneous translations from either Google or Microsoft.

Anyway, for those who are inclined to read her thesis, here is the link:

Ethnic segregation in housing, schools, and neighbourhoods in the Netherlands



Excerpt of her Acknowledgements:

'Acknowledgements

Shortly before the start of the 20th century, my great-grand parents joined the historical wave of Chinese emigration and ventured to what was then British Malaya as low-skilled economic migrants. They were different from previous cohorts, the Peranakan or Straits Chinese, who came educated, in smaller numbers, and inter-married with the locals while adopting local customs. When the Federation of Malaya gained its independence in 1957, roughly half of the population consisted of ethnic minorities of migrant background. Ethnic segregation was a collective reality inherited from the British ‘divide and rule’ colonial policy, later sustained and reinforced by the post-independence political and educational structures. One’s choices in peers, schools, neighbourhoods, and (ethnic-based) political affiliation became unremitting conscious acts of integration or segregation. And so it was, the seed of my PhD research, sown long before I was born.'

'As an ‘allochtoon’ with smattering knowledge of Dutch, it was my privilege and pleasure to be able to dedicate my research entirely on one country that was not my own: the Netherlands. Reading my first-year notes, I was struck by how close my final thesis came (despite the long detour) to resemble my original ideas for a PhD project (e.g. looking at preferences from two different modelling frameworks: hedonic pricing and discrete choice). This reveals, to a large extent, the level of flexibility and trust offered to me by my supervisors, Henriëtte and Kristof. …'

'The PhD project would not have taken off in the first place if it were not for the opportunity, grant, and support offered by the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance and later the United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT). ...'

Biography

'Cheng Boon Ong (1983) grew up in Batu Gajah, Malaysia. She read Politics and International Relations at the University of Essex in England and graduated as the department’s best undergraduate student in 2006. She received a full scholarship to pursue her Master’s degree in Social Policy Analysis in Luxembourg and Belgium, graduating with great distinction from the Catholic University of Leuven in 2007. She also holds a Diploma in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Keen to contribute to effective, equitable, and sustainable policymaking, Cheng began her PhD in Public Policy and Policy Analysis at Maastricht University in 2007. At the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, she was also a Master programme specialisation coordinator (2008-2009) and project coordinator for a multinational training programme in social security funded by the International Development Agency of Germany (2009-2012). Alongside research and project
coordination, she has teaching experience in public policy, social protection, research methods, and international politics. Notably, she has trained UNICEF officers in evidence-based policy making, developed econometrics assignments for public policy graduate students, co-designed a one-day course on migration for social protection professionals, and delivered a lecture on ethnic segregation in schools for the Diploma in Public Policy and Child Rights (Egypt and Jordan).

She is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand assisting the regional office of the International Labour Organisation in the social protection assessment of the Southeast Asian region.'

Update:
A short interview on Dutch television channel 1Limburg:


To sum up...
One of the main findings of the thesis gained a lot of media attention. The left/liberals are quick to criticize the data or research methodology to downplay the findings, while the right-wing/conservatives are quick to pounce on it for their own anti-immigrant agenda.  Prof Jaap Dronkers, had defended the thesis in a Dutch national newspaper and gave a fair assessment, concluding with a remark: 'Don't shoot the messenger.'

Further update: Dr Ong - the Movie

Compiled by her paranymphs, Paula and Jennake, this video shows the route to a Ph D could also be a lot of fun!



Photos on the day of her public defence, courtesy of United Nations University - MERIT (ie. without permission):




Link

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hardup KTM Batu Gajah railway station makes cheapskates of some of us.

After introducing parking charges which system was ineffective, now KTM BG set up controlled entry and exit booths which effectively ensure a minimum charge of Rm1 upon entry, more if it exceeds an hour, based on hourly rates.

This morning, I could see many cars parked along the roadsides outside its compound. These vehicles were parked there to avoid the charges, especially if the people were there just to buy tickets, send off or pick up someone.

My son commented that even KL Sentral allows free entry and exit for such purposes. They even allow cars to wait at specific bays so long as the drivers are in them. It is inconceivable that KTM BG has to resort to this just to increase some revenue when their losses were actually due to 'inefficiencies' at the top national level.
Link

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Don't underestimate your luck

When Lady Luck looks for you, you could be in for bigger winnings.

I have been a keen observer of 4-D numbers and their connection with unusual events or mishaps. For those not into buying such lotteries, they would not have noticed even if it happened.

I realised that it happened many times to me and by relating stories, I always feel like a crazy punter. But I am not one. My sister used to have the ability to buy winning numbers very often, sometimes striking a few within one draw.

What happened recently was incredible in that had I thought my luck was above 4-D, I could have struck 6-D! If I bought 4-D instead it would not have been. It was a straightforward 'something happened, buy 6-D instead of 4-D'! Aim higher. This reminds me of a slogan from Bigsweep: 'Don't turn away a fortune' whenever someone approaches to sell you some tickets.

I used to say that if I can't get a free lottery ticket at a dinner table of 10 (1 out of 10), how could I strike 4-D, not to mention getting 7 digits right! But luck doesn't work like that.

Many people are into buying Jackpot numbers for this reason.

Note: Some people might be wondering how was it possible to choose 6 digits instead of 4. Well, the unusual incident involved a handphone dropped and an hour later found under the mudprints of the wheels of an excavator at work in an oil palm estate. It was slightly bent at a corner and not working. The 6 digits came straight from the last 6 of the 7 numbers. It was sent to a local repair shop and the sim card taken out to be used in an older phone. The repairman was given the same numbers to contact as to whether it is repairable.
Link