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.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dr Sng Kim Hock: Docs face uncertain livelihood

"I WRITE in my personal capacity as a senior member of the medical profession and not as president of the Association of Specialists in Private Medical Practice Malaysia.

It saddens me very much to see the decline in this sacred and noble profession over recent decades. A key principle in safeguarding any highly esteemed profession in society is that members of such a profession must be financially stable and secure and need not worry about their rice bowl.
It is this aspect of the medical profession that is indeed being severely threatened in recent years.
The fresh young doctor begins his or her career waiting for months and even up to a year to get a job. Those who need to feed their families are forced to find temporary jobs as a waiter, cab driver or clinic assistant. Some may see this as a good humbling “job experience”.
But in truth, it is shameful and demoralising after five to six intense years of training and with great expectations. Finally, the doctor gets a job, a short-term contract that has no security, reduced benefits and a “constant threat” of termination hanging over his head.
The rigorous training period of two years is already very challenging with a drop-out rate of 20%. With a short-term contract, the young doctor will face added pressure, especially under severe and strict conditions, and the potential of abuse by autocratic bosses.
While the authorities may say that this is a good thing that will push the doctors to perform better, the environment of uncertainty where a doc-eats-doc attitude is needed to succeed is unhealthy for such an esteemed profession.
Allowing doctors to enter public service on contract is a bad precedent and a sad beginning for the career of the doctor.
Is there any other public service office being offered “contract staff” as a group with the Government?
The answer should have been to create more posts and find the resources and finances to accommodate the doctors whom we have agreed to train over the past decade.
If we have made the mistake of training too many doctors, we should bear the brunt of it by finding them jobs.
Unavoidably, a good percentage of these doctors will have to join the private sector as general practitioners (GP) before they are trained as qualified family practitioners. The so-called market forces, hand-in-hand with the fee regulations, now cap the consultation fee at a mere RM25. A recent press release stating that GPs were “agreeable” to reducing consultation fees to between RM10 and RM15 is indeed shocking and certainly a misrepresentation of the poor struggling GP.
Agreeing to such a reduction will definitely be the death knell for the GP or family practitioner.
Simple mathematics will show that no solo GP can survive with such a low consultation fee. Currently, a practice’s overheads range from RM12,000 to RM20,000 per month.
At RM10 per consultation, the doctor needs to see 2,000 patients per month to break even, which is about 70 patients a day.
This is absurd. No doctor should work under those conditions where he or she is forced to find other forms of income, apart from consultation fees.
With consultation fees at RM10, companies and insurance organisations would push the panel doctor’s fee even lower to RM8 or RM9.
Have we forgotten that the graduate has to repay his PTPN loans? Also, many parents have forked out between RM300,000 and even up to a million ringgit to pay for their children’s education.
Add all that in and the GP has become a slave to his job from day one.
Looking back to 60 years ago when I was a child, my mother was already paying RM10 to RM15 as total consultation fee for medical treatment.
A haircut at the barber and a bowl of mee were both only 50 sen then.
Thus, reducing a doctor’s consultation fee to that of a current barber’s fee or two cups of coffee is an insult to the medical profession.
A plumber or electrician charges no less than RM50 for a visit. Proportionate to a specialist’s consultation fee, the GP’s consultation should be no less than RM50.
How do we address the fact that poorer segments of society may not be able to afford healthcare costs? One is that the public sector must continue to bear the burden for the poor. Secondly, doctors are always charitable and have always been giving discounts and even free treatment to the poor.
The doctor, however, cannot afford to give free treatment unless he is able to pay his rent, utility bills, bank loan repayment and his staff comfortably."
As a comparison, a popular sinseh working from home, who charges Rm40 for each visit, and has daily queue numbers easily exceeding 100, is laughing all the way to the bank. The exceptionally low overheads, secret herbs (only collection and home preparation costs), and the numbers would make any qualified practising doctors envious.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Some internet service providers seem to have overzealous marketers?

I was warned that by taking up offers of few days' internet use, if not careful, I will have automatic renewal and weekly deductions from my credit balance. Then I was told that it happened to post-paid customers only, not prepaid customers.

Recently, my YES wifi huddle hotspot kept showing the 4G connection blinking. After a few days, I decided to take up an offer of Digi's Rm3 for 50 MB (which lasted only a few hours without downloading video clips}, followed by Rm5 for 200 MB. Soon I got a notice from Digi:

   "Successfully Activated - 200 MB - 3 days (RM5)", then "Subscription fee of RM3 (excl GST) will be deducted on 21.01.2017 for the Weekly RM3 (50MB subscription. To unsubscribe, dial *116*5#."

I tried to unsubscribe but did not get a confirmation. I called the number 016 0783 001 where the message came from, as well as emailed to it, without success. I cannot help but feel as if their system is deliberately fixed to prevent that!

After reading my problem in Facebook, my daughter in Geneva responded:

   "Strange, I got SMS confirmation: Berjaya dinyahaktifkan - Weekly RM7 (350MB)." and she did not even subscribe for it!

I was so worked up that I wrote an email to complain to Digi Technical Support, asking if their system was fixed, without realising its web address has nothing to do with our local I got a reply from Technical Support Engineer, Thomas Kuhlmann, based in Germany!

I had no choice but to go personally to Digi Centre in Greentown, Ipoh. and this was what I commented in my earlier post in Facebook:

Staff cancelled the weekly auto renewals of mine and daughter's (she didn't even ask for a subscription in the first place!). In answer to my complaint of auto-renewal, she said it was in the conditions when subscribing! I am sure when accepting there was no reference to such. To prevent unsuspecting customers from unintentionally made to renew a onetime subscription (esp. unsolicited offers), Digi shouldn't have auto-renewal hidden as condition when accepting such offers.

Meanwhile, a friend told me of his experience with Maxis. He has a supplementary Maxis account attached to his daughter's in KL. On his recent visit, his daughter asked what he had been using because her bill had over RM100 extra charges for data use. He was shocked because he never use it whenever he is out because he has recently installed TM's wifi for watching films in BG. It happened because his smartphone had 'data usage' switched on! Being not IT-savvy, he said he did not do it. Unless it was accidentally done, could it be possible that Maxis could have done it at their end? Why I said this is because whenever we install any App, we have to agree to their access to our phone content! I think it is even easier for any ISP. This has the effect of me not installing anymore Apps. These days, many things are possible by those who are IT-savvy, and we have been warned constantly of this, that or the other. We are like sitting ducks waiting to be hit.

I know the sums involved are small to an individual, but with a large number of customers, they add up to substantial. More likely, there are overzealous marketers trying ways and means to increase their revenue quotas.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let's make some sense from advices being shared in social media on cancer treatment

There is a constant supply of so-called cancer cures being shared in Facebook, Whatsapp, and other social media, that any cancer survivor would either feel relieved or more likely, confused. On the one hand, we hear of very expensive treatments offered by private medical centres, which proved futile in some terminal cases, while on the other, some claim ordinary fruits like soursop or jackfruit can effectively kill cancer cells. If it is so simple there would not be needless deaths resulting from cancer, nor the need to spend hundreds of thousands on chemo drugs, radiotherapy and so on.

As a cancer survivor, I wish those simple and cheap treatment claims are true. But would anyone trust any of those completely and risk his or her life? There is no easy answer as there are success stories as well as failures. Put simply, each patient is different in terms of health and body fitness. What works for one may not work for others. There are so many different types of cancers affecting different parts of the body that there is no single cure for all. How I wish I can write my own success story, but which cancer patient dares to claim he or she is completely cured? We hear of remission over more than ten years and sudden relapse which can prove fatal.

It is comforting to note that Cancer or the Big C is no longer considered as a death sentence, unless discovered too late. In my own case (Stage 4), I survived for more than 8 months after a successful operation followed by chemotherapy, without which I would not last more than a few weeks. Oncologists offer comforting words like, 'We've come a long way since' and 'We've different bullets to kill those cells'.

I find the following article more sensible than those claims of simple and quick cures:

Why Treating Cancer is So Difficult, Part 1: Your Tumor is Not a Clone

There are many reasons, both scientific and clinical, that cancer is difficult to treat. I am going to dedicate a few posts to discussing this, so today is the first post in this series,
Part 1 // Your Tumor is Not a Clone.
"In cell biology, clones are identical cells that came from a single cell. In other words, one single cell started dividing. When the cell divides, it passes down its genetic information to the two new cells, so they are genetically identical. They are clones. If these two cells continue to divide, and divide, and divide, then you have a large number of clones that all came from that first parent cell.
Cancer is not clonalCancer is complex and heterogeneous (meaning that it’s not the same from one place in the tumor to another). There are also other types of cells other than cancer cells inside of a tumor: there are immune cells, there is extracellular matrix (the cellular “skeleton” to help anchor the tumor and give it shape), and many others inside what is called the tumor microenvironment. Other than the complex tumor microenvironment, there are often differences in the cancer cells in a single tumor."


Saturday, January 07, 2017

A good take on the McDonald's halal birthday cake controversy

Not sure if this was from Dr Wong Chin Huat or Chang Lih Kang (as his name below appears), in Chin Huat's post in Facebook...

"Normally not a big fan of burger, but I decided to patron My Burgerlab to make a point.

I am rightly reminded by my friend Sow Meng Keong that Myburgerlab is only a Muslim-friendly restaurant without the halal certificate, hence it is free to serve any cake. It is different from Nando's, KFC or Burger King which also are under the halal certificate and hence cannot exploit McDonald's PR disasters.

The point I want to make is about McDonald's claim of innocence. For some, its fault is only poor public relationship skill.

I beg to differ. While such demand is indeed part of Jakim's halal requirement, why aren't the likes of KFC and Burger King not put up such notice?

Besides "legality" (合法性), there is always the question of "legitimacy" (正当性). Would it be legitimate if McDonald's turns away a Muslim mother who brings in her home-baked cake? This is the question we must first ask.

I doubt McDonald's would ever do that. And if they won't, they would not be punished by Jakim either. Otherwise, Jakim would be slammed harshly by the Muslim community.

Now, do you think Jakim will make a fuss over McDonald's allowing non-Muslims bringing their own cake for birthday celebration? Do you think there in the first place would be nosy Muslim customers who walk to the next table and ask to check if the bakery is halal-certified? Clearly not, not even in Malaysia today.

There are grey areas that even Jakim would have to tolerate. Jakim tries to persuade Muslim small traders into their halal certificate by offering them a lower fee but most nasi lemak sellers in our neighbourhood dont give a damn.

Why? Common sense dictates that Muslims wont serve non-halal food.

Before the halal red tapes, our defense is common sense.

The question we must put to McDonald's is: why has it lost its common sense?

Whether if its loss of common sense is applied to all customers (Muslims included) or just to non-Muslim customers (which constitutes discrimination it denies), lessons need to be learned.

McDonald's over-enthusiasm -- which reminds me of Hannah Arrendt's notion of "banality" -- to please Jakim if not the religious gratification (so-called "duty") of whoever that issued the notice causes them to lose common sense.

And it is this loss of common sense, this unquestionable acceptance of rules and regulations, not just an expansionist bureaucracy of Jakim, that are causing the endless expansion of "halal" certificate.

However, the solution is not to turn this into a bashing of Muslims. Muslims wanting to live a halal life is as legitimate as practicing Buddhists and Hindus want to be vegetarian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being religious is compatible with common sense.

Defending common sense cannot be a non-Muslim backlash. If it is turned into a campaign of non-Muslim angst, it will only backfire. It is therefore more important to question McDonald's than to just call for a boycott.

Common sense in Malaysia can only be defended when enough Muslims and non-Muslims come together. Ultimately, Malaysia needs more Muslims who see halalness beyond the labels and who can see through the economics of monopoly behind a single certification body.

I wish I was bringing a Muslim friend at Myburgerlab last night but it happened to be my good friend who is a high priest of FSM Hong-Yee Seah.

Chang Lih Kang

So it's all in our mind!

Everything starts with a Thought

A man who has gone out of his town comes back and finds that his house is on fire.

It was one of the most beautiful houses in the town, and the man loved the house the most! Many were ready to give double price for the house, but he had never agreed for any price and now it is just burning before his eyes.

And thousands of people have gathered, but nothing can be done, the fire has spread so far that even if you try to put it out, nothing will be saved. So he becomes very sad.

His son comes running and whispers something in his ear:

"Don't be worried. I sold it yesterday and at a very good price ― three times.

The offer was so good I could not wait for you. Forgive me."

Father said, "thank God, it's not ours now!" Then the father is relaxed and became a silent watcher, just like 1000s of other watchers.

Please think about it!

Just a moment before he was not a watcher, he was attached.

It is the same house....the same fire.... everything is the same...but now he is not concerned.
In fact started enjoying it just as everybody else in the crowd.

Then the second son comes running, and he says to the father, "What are you doing? You are smiling ― and the house is on fire?" The father said, "Don't you know, your brother has sold it."

He said, "We have taken only advance amount, not settled fully. I doubt now that the man is going to purchase it now."

Again, everything changes!!

Tears which had disappeared, have come back to the father's eyes, his smile is no more there, his heart is beating fast. The 'watcher' is gone. He is again attached.

And then the third son comes, and he says, "That man is a man of his word. I have just come from him. He said, 'It doesn't matter whether the house is burnt or not, it is mine. And I am going to pay the price that I have settled for. Neither you knew, nor I knew that the house would catch on fire.'"

Again the joy is back and family became 'watchers'! The attachment is no more there.

Actually nothing has changed.

Just the feeling that "I am the owner! I am not the owner of the house!" makes the whole difference.