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, June 29, 2016

Tomorrow's mission impossible at Ipoh GH

It is almost midnight, and tomorrow is my appointment with surgeon, with specific instruction to provide blood sample, wait for result before seeing the doctor.

From experience, it takes an average 2 hours before I can see the doctor, while it took 3 hours before I could give my blood sample! Unless there is special arrangement for cancer patient to jump the queue, and maybe as suggested by a staff nurse, to take my sample myself to the lab and wait for the result, it is mission impossible. Anyway, I shall see how it turns out very early tomorrow morning.

I was at the Unit Darah just before 7.30am and it was already in operation, Handed in my surgeon's letter together with a note written by myself  'to provide sample, wait for result before seeing doctor'. The nurse at the counter took out the note without saying a word and gave me a number beginning with 2. Ah, I thought to myself, this is how they differentiate cases like myself. Sure enough within 20 minutes, it was my turn and I did not have to wait to collect the sample pack like those with numbers starting with 1. I remember during my last visit, there were over 100 before me and it took 3 hours before my turn, which explains my worry since 3 weeks ago. I had a short chat with the friendly attendant before I was told to take the sample myself to the lab near the Emergencies, which is only a short walk away. After handing over the sample, the nurse at the counter scanned it and confirmed the results will be known online in an hour and that I need not wait there but wait at SOPD for the doctor to see me. It took less than half an hour to provide the blood sample and I was relieved to hand in my appointment card at 8.00 am, knowing full well there is the usual long wait before I can see the doctor. The queue system starts at 9.00 am and we cannot blame the wait before that on them. The only advantage is to get no.1 or near it in the queue. I got no.4 for that particular room, yet I had to wait until 10.30 am. Then the consultation with a busy surgeon who had to deal with request for advice from medical officers as well, followed by prescription and preparation of a special book for me. By the time I waited and got the drugs, it was already 12.30 pm!

YES what a way to reconnect

Bought a new basic notebook in Station 18 because their branch in Batu Gajah did not have stock. At home, tried to login YES huddle hotspot only to be greeted with a blank for Network security key! I was at a loss as to which code it was referring to. The contract was almost 2 years and whatever I used before would have been forgotten. The receipt shows username and password used for the first time which I did not change. Tried using different ways without success.

Called YES hotline and left my mobile number in the recorded message which promised a return call which did not happen even after 2 days and am still waiting. Wrote an email to Yescare which took a day to respond, with an instruction to go through settings and so on. Could not follow, asked the shop in BG and was told that instruction was meant for modem setting not huddle hotspot and was referred back to YES.

As a last resort, made a visit to YES branch in Aeon Big, Midtown, Farlim. It was our first visit to the hypermarket. To our surprise, the place is easy to find parking near the entrance, and even more surprising, even the foreign security guard outside could tell us where YES is located!

I was attended to immediately, and with my huddle hotspot, and using my password, their computer could log on! I was told to use my password on my new notebook and it worked! How would I know the technical term Network security key refers to my own password?


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

First attempt at posting via handphone

Recognise her?

This is the picture of Chan See Foon on the cover of Asia Magazine dated September 10, 1967.

My wife could not resist buying it. See Foon-Koppen writes on foods for Ipoh Echo.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

If you don't repay your PTPTN loan: harsh measures but actually very soft to some

Have you been taking your PTPTN loan repayments too lightly? PTPTN Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mastura Mohd Khalid tells us what can happen if you don’t make prompt repayments and how to get help if you are having difficulties making them.
PTPTN requires about RM5 billion each year to provide educational funding to Malaysians. Yet as of Feb 29, 2016, PTPTN is due to collect RM15.8 billion. It has only received RM7.9 billion. This means there is still RM7.9 billion in arrears. “There are about 600,000 PTPTN borrowers who have yet to make their repayments,” says Mastura.
You have probably already read about steps taken by PTPTN, which could possibly lead to legal action taken against defaulters.
Your credit record will be affected
If you don’t make repayments for your PTPTN loan, you will be listed on CCRIS and this will reflect badly on your credit history. It will affect your ability to get loans from financing institutions. So until you make prompt repayments, you will have problems purchasing a car, house, or getting a credit card.
All defaulters have been listed on CCRIS beginning June 16, 2015. Mastura says there are 1.25 million borrowers listed on CCRIS.  Following the listing, PTPTN has seen an increase of borrowers approaching it because they are unable to apply for other loans. She says: “CCRIS listing is a step we are taking to educate borrowers that PTPTN loan needs to be repaid. We want them to give priority to repaying their PTPTN loan.”
You are barred from leaving the country
Get your PTPTN repayments in order or rethink your overseas travel plans. PTPTN loan defaulters are barred from leaving the country. PTPTN will inform the Immigration Department and you will then be blacklisted in its database.
You also cannot renew your passport or apply for a passport.
“Some people call us when they realise they cannot leave the country at the airport’s immigration counter. When we ask them to make some form of repayment, it then turns out many of them can afford to make a repayment on the spot,” Mastura says.
PTPTN borrowers are advised to check for any overdue amount and settle it or discuss with PTPTN at least seven days before their trip. To check if you are barred from leaving the country click here.
Legal action will be taken against you
Defaulters will first be issued with notices before legal action is taken. Mastura says PTPTN issues three notices and then a notice of demand before it proceeds to blacklist a PTPTN loan defaulter with immigration. If a loan defaulter does not approach PTPTN after receiving the notices and after being blacklisted, they will then be taken to court. A total of 115,279 PTPTN borrowers have received court summons with a total loan amount worth RM9.8 billion as of Feb 29.
How do I get help with my PTPTN loan repayments?
If your PTPTN loan is still under the conventional scheme, convert it to the Ujrah scheme. All loans which have been approved from December 2008 fall under the Ujrah scheme. But all loan applications which were approved prior to that date will still be under the conventional scheme. The conventional scheme has an interest rate of 3% reducing balance while the Ujrah scheme has fixed interest at 1%.
“If you are a good paymaster, you will save up to 49% on your loan repayments by converting from conventional to the Ujrah scheme”, says Mastura.
Salary deductions are not compulsory under the Ujrah scheme, but this option is encouraged by PTPTN.
Talk to PTPTN
“We are open for negotiation. If your financial commitments are too tight, you can restructure or reschedule your loan, we even accept repayments from as low as RM50 per month,” says Mastura. 
PTPTN will also allow you to prolong your repayment tenure. Students, who have not been able to secure a job six months upon graduation, can then apply for an extension. PTPTN will cross check with KWSP and if you are really unemployed they will grant you an extension period of two years.
However, if you begin making loan repayments within six months after graduation, you will get to enjoy the interest-free period. The balance of your loan will then be charged 1% Ujrah instead of the total amount of your loan. So take advantage of the six months grace period to reduce the amount of your loan repayment which will later be charged 1% interest.
Mastura’s advice to PTPTN borrowers is to repay their loan as this will be for the benefit of the future generation. PTPTN has about 200,000 new borrowers every year and it needs the revolving fund for future generation’s education. “It could be your siblings or your children who will need the money,” Mastura adds.
This article first appeared on this website. It was edited for brevity.

Friday, June 03, 2016

B+ and Be Positive: My unexpected and unintended 6D 5N stay at Batu Gajah GH

The following was written before my operation, unedited to show my state of mind at the time...

At the Outpatient, the staff nurse asked about my problem and about my Hb level which I did not remember. She advised me to remember it so that the doctor knows about it. Goes to show how unprepared I was mentally at the time. She asked if I can speak Malay to the doctor which was the first indication of a language problem to some.

When I told the Malay lady doctor that I had abdominal pain on the right side, she referred me to Emergency in case it was appendicitis. The distance was only a hundred metres or so, I chose to walk instead of being sent by ambulance! So much for an emergency case.

At the emergency, among other things I had blood pressure taken and ECG done. Not being an ex-government servant, I was asked to pay Rm200 deposit before admission into Ward 2 (Second Class).

I had my blood tested over a year ago but I could not remember my blood type which posed a problem when asked later. My mistake was not bringing my Gribbles card which shows my blood type (B+). But then again, it would be inconceivable to expect the doctor to rely on that information instead of their own blood tests. The only advantage I can think of is when ordering blood for transfusion and as a double-check that I am given the right blood type when their own tests are known.

In the ward, all the doctors speak good English. Many of my friends, who are retired government servants, preferred to seek private medical treatment (despite its known high charges) because they can well afford it and believe timely treatment is more important. In some cases, where the treatment is unavailable at government hospitals, private hospital charges can be claimed from the government. But for less urgent cases, I do not think why GH should not be considered. The pace is general slower and some people might actually like it! Like BG GH, the Second Class ward used to be the only First Class ward in Perak, where royalty were treated. The ambience, to quote my KL relatives, is almost like a Balinese resort! A retired civil servant admitted that sometimes, he extended his stay because he quite liked the food provided!

In terms of charges, the total bill came to Rm1225, and after government subsidy of Rm920, I had to pay only Rm305. The cashier seems sympathetic when telling me the charges, asking why so many tests? I think if the treatment was in a private hospital it could have been around Rm1,000 a day.

Though there is a general perception that we cannot get the right treatment early, I was lucky to have Dr M Ihsan who arranged for a visiting surgeon to take a look at my condition, and scope was arranged the very next day! Before that, I was told I can have an ultra sound test only in 2 to 3 months' time at the Ipoh GH, which reinforced the general perception. Now, a CT scan appointment at Ipoh GH had been fixed, within 3 weeks!

Besides my immediate complaint of pain in the abdomen, the doctors are trying to find out the cause of my drastic weight loss and low Hb.

The pain had caused me sleepless nights because any change in sleeping position was painful. After 10 days or so, I am glad it is gone. Hopefully, whatever caused it would not be shown as a problem when CT scanned.

On a lighter note, when told my wife used to be a dietitian, Dr Ihsan said BG GH does not have one at the moment. Why not join us and teach some of our staff? With today's IT, almost anything could be Google-ed and everybody seems to know everything about medical treatment and medicine, much to the annoyance of doctors because invariably, it turns out a little knowledge can be dangerous. Similarly, when it comes to diets, it is even worse! More people know generally what can or cannot be eaten for certain medical conditions. But a dietitian's role includes working out in detail, the calories and nutrient composition of different foods before recommending specific diets for different patients. Just imagine the danger of simply rotating different menus for a week. To show how a hospital kitchen without a dietitian can make mistakes, I asked for hot milk instead of tea or coffee. After being given hot milk twice, the third and subsequent time, I was given hot sweetened condensed milk instead! Just imagine if I happened to be diabetic! I can bet that just like coffee shops, what is supposed to be condensed milk is likely to be condensed creamer.

In the men's toilets, the most obvious maintenance neglect must be the washing liquid containers: one missing and the other's lid cannot be closed properly – held by some tissue paper! I was classified as '2-star' in terms likelihood in falling and my first visit to the toilet was by wheelchair, pushed by an attendant. But I managed to do without that. Occasionally, with drip on or undergoing blood transfusion, I was allowed to use the Women's toilet. I noticed a better designed and working liquid container. Besides, in the men's toilets, every plastic seat cover had been well scratched by shoes of people squatting on them. Wonder who is in charge of general maintenance.